Chapter Twenty-five

“You’ve changed.”

Folly ignored him. She knew the moment Death’s icy presence hovered at her doorway—she didn’t care. Nothing he said could touch her now.

She moved several pawns from their places on the board to better positions.

Death remained silent, unnerved by her complete lack of caring.

Lucifer entered, his companions noisily making their presence known.

“Well?”

Folly moved a few more pieces before defiantly meeting Lucifer’s gaze. He blinked. She straightened.

“You can’t win.”

Lucifer tensed. Complete silence strained the air. His troop edged away. Death’s jaw went slack.

“How dare you?” Lucifer whispered.

Folly pointed at the strategy board.

“No matter how I change it, no matter how many variables I throw in or take out, no matter what, the king of heaven wins. It has been spoken by the king’s messengers, it is written in the prophecies, and it has been promised to you by the king himself. Every word he has spoken has come to pass. Every promise he has made to you has been fulfilled. You can fight all you want, Lucifer, but the moment he says it’s over, it’s over. You can’t win.”

Every eye swung from Folly to Lucifer.

He staggered back.

Death spoke up.

“How dare you speak treason in Lucifer’s presence?”

Folly’s hot stare pierced Death.

“It’s not treason. It’s the truth.” Her respect-free gaze pivoted back to Lucifer. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see if there’s any possibility of changing the future. Or at least making life as horrible for the creatures as possible until our time comes.”

She swept from the room. Lucifer recoiled as she brushed past him. Death didn’t budge from the doorway. She shoved Death aside and kept going.

A low, throaty chuckle escaped Folly as she walked down the dank corridor.

Oh, yes. She had definitely chosen the wrong side. And now she would pay for that with eternal torment.

“Clever girl,” she berated herself. “You always know what’s best, don’t you?”

 

Coming out of the tunnel, her eyes were immediately arrested by one of the maker’s most glorious sunsets. Her eyes traveled the vibrant colors, seeking the place she would never see again.

Her anger melted away, leaving her feeling lost and…alone.

Folly stared up at the sky, sadness touching her upturned face. She didn’t feel someone standing next to her until she was roughly shoved.

“What do you think you’re doing?” sneered Lust.

Folly turned a defensive glare in Lust’s direction, but Hate and Religion swarmed her before she could say anything.

“Wait till we tell Lucifer you were staring at the heavens again!” Hate spat out.

“You know what he does to those who do not serve him wholeheartedly,” intoned Religion in a dry voice.

Folly shoved their clamoring hands away from her.

“Shut your mouths, all of you! I am more important to Lucifer than all of you put together. And how do you know I was staring at the heavens? Maybe I was plotting my next strategy. Besides, if you tell Lucifer, just think of how bad I can make you look!”

Folly crossed her arms in triumph, jutting her chin in the air.

Her companions hissed and spat at her, but Folly didn’t back down. She knew Lucifer wouldn’t dare touch her now. Not this close to the end.

“Little miss goody two shoes, thinks she’s Lucifer’s favorite.”

“Maybe we should tell her what the master said about her the other day?”

Fury blackened Folly’s gaze. She swung her fist, smashing it in the side of Lust’s face. Lust growled and jumped on Folly, biting her arm. Hate and Religion dove into the fray.

“Or, maybe you can tell him what you were doing yourself?”

The four angels froze, their limbs intertwined.

Hate, Religion, and Lust vanished, fleeing into the shadows as fast as they could.

“Lucifer.”

Folly bowed her head, her limbs trembling. Fear consumed her. She fought for the defiance of moments before. What if he thought she said he couldn’t win because she longed for Heaven?

Lucifer glided past her, stopping in the spot where she had been lost in thought moments before. He craned his neck, staring into space.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” He annunciated each word, hatred filling each calm expression.

Folly trembled. She bowed her head and bit her lip, certain of the beating she was about to receive.

Lucifer suddenly stood before her, without her knowing he had moved. He grasped her jaw, his fingers digging into her skin, his touch like fire to her scarred face. He lifted her face until her eyes met his.

“Do you find it beautiful?”

Fear slithered down her spine. She threw back her head and laughed. She met his gaze once more, her eyes wild.

“Beautiful?” she spat. “How could anything up there be beautiful?” She pushed herself further into his painful grasp. “I hate it. I hate everything about it. You know what I see when I look up? A kingdom, perfect for my master. A kingdom, waiting for a worthy king to rule it. No, I look up there and I am inspired—inspired to defeat everything from that realm. For you to win.”

Her eyes glistened with bloodlust. She moved closer to Lucifer, pressing herself against him.

He flung her away. She landed with a thud, her head hitting a boulder. She grabbed her head and waited for the pain to subside, then laughed at herself. When did the pain ever subside?

She cringed at his echoing footsteps, moving toward her. He caressed her head, and it repulsed her, but she craved it. She leaned into his touch.

“Very good, my dear. See to it that’s what you always think. Better you think it without looking above, however. You wouldn’t want to be misunderstood.” He leaned forward and dropped his voice. “You see, I know what you’re thinking. How much you miss it. And I also know you aren’t gonna be all that upset when I lose. If I lose. And I don’t think you’ll like what happens if I do.”

Folly stiffened. “I never said that!”

He turned and glared at her. “You didn’t have to. Not after today’s outburst.”

And he was gone. Folly sniffled. She knew he didn’t believe her. He didn’t believe any of them. Ever. She felt relief at his departure, but was tempted to follow him. To offer herself to him once more. She knew he would only scorn her, laugh at her mottled, scarred body, but she needed him, wanted him. She sucked in her breath, willing the tears away.

Fiendish cackling filled her ears. Religion, Hate, and Lust came clambering back.

“He showed you!”

“Try acting so high and mighty around him again, princess!”

“I’m amazed he didn’t throw you out right then and there!”

Their voices swirled around her, and she curled into a ball on the rocky floor. They finally left after tormenting her, but she kept her arms wrapped around her head in the silence.

Princess. She had been a princess once. Now she was a punching bag.

Folly sobbed.

 

Wisdom and Folly: Sisters by Michele Israel Harper, Chapter Twenty-five copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.

Full Moon by Raquel Neira, or KellieArt on deviantart.com, copyright © 2012-2015.

Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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