Chapter Twenty-three

“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezekiel 18:32

“It is finished.”

The jeers and shrieks and laughter reached Folly long before their cause.

Horrified, Folly watched a mob of rotting, decrepit angels tug the Holy Son of God into the center of the vast cavern, before Lucifer’s throne.

Chains dripped from the innocent Lamb’s neck, wrists, and ankles—He sagged under their burden.

Folly stumbled forward, feeling weak, sick. Surely she was seeing things. Things that were untrue. Things she had made up merely to divert Lucifer from her vision. Or had she seen a glimpse of this before? Folly’s head reeled.

Her fellow inmates celebrated with abandon, tugging on the chains.

Red welts appeared on top of the wounds He already carried. Blood trickled onto the floor. Black tar clung to every inch of His body, yet she could still see each lash mark upon His back.

Folly caught a glimpse of something familiar in the midnight gunk smeared across His flesh. She strained to see better in the flickering light as the cheers grew in volume.

She gasped and staggered back. She had seen it. Clear as Heaven’s light.

Cain’s murder of Abel.

The ooze shifted.

Lamech’s murder.

She saw each agonizing detail as He saw it. Sick. Twisted. Heartbreaking.

The image changed.

An angel danced in her way, cavorting with arms upraised so she couldn’t see a blasted thing. Desperate, she shoved the angel to the ground and kicked him aside.

Did she really see what she thought she saw?

Oblivious to her hissing companion, she moved forward in a trance.

Her part in Lamech’s murder. There. On the Holy Son of God. Sapping Him of strength. Bleeding into His pores and tainting Him.

In a flash, every sin, every evil, rotten thing she had seen committed on the entire globe—those she had urged His Father’s precious creatures to commit, too—clung to Him.

It wasn’t right.

She stared at the chaos surrounding her, appalled.

How could anyone be enjoying this?

She shoved another fallen angel aside, intent on getting to Him. Intent on putting a stop to it all.

The room quieted.

Folly glanced toward the throne.

Lucifer stood, arms outstretched, staring at his prize in tightly controlled, but rapt glee. His voice trembled, then grew strong.

“Friends—my brother, my sisters—today you are witness to the greatest moment in our history. Today, all we have fought for these many, long centuries has been accomplished.” He tossed a clenched fist in the air. “We have won!”

Cheers drowned out any further speech for some moments.

Lucifer waved his hands and gradually the room quieted. He slowly lowered his hands, gliding forward and down the steps with all the grace of his former self. He paused on the last step.

“The holy son of god has been rejected by his father. Left alone. Abandoned.” He threw back his head and laughed. “Heaven is no longer his home!”

The noise pounded in Folly’s ears, threatening to sweep her along in the exuberance, but she couldn’t bring herself to rejoice. Not over this.

Lucifer cut the sound from the room with a sharp gesture. His annoyed face smoothed as he resumed his trek to his latest conquest.

He paused inches from Him.

“Welcome, son of god. I hope you’ll be very unhappy here.”

He laughed. Those in the room hesitantly joined him, until he impatiently waved for them to raise their voices as well.

“Torture him!”

Lucifer returned to his throne, arms raised in victory.

“Give him everything you’ve got!”

Folly’s heart plummeted as the fallen angels happily obliged.

They hit Him, spit on Him, tore great chunks of flesh from Him. Still the rotting sin festered and made the wounds grow more putrid.

Folly was going to be sick.

Backing away, one agonizingly slow step at a time, Folly eased into the corridor leading away. Anywhere. She didn’t care where.

She bumped into someone and slammed her eyes shut. She didn’t need to hear his voice to know who it was. Death.

“Going somewhere?”

Folly didn’t say anything; she just stepped away from his sickening presence.

“You know, every single one of Lucifer’s followers have given up what they were doing—no matter how important it was—to be here today. I think Lucifer would be devastated to learn you’d missed it. Don’t you?”

Folly backed out of the corridor and slipped away, the cacophony ringing in her ears. Death’s threat was drowned away as she slinked around the cavernous room until she was certain Death no longer saw her.

Squeezing herself into a deep crack in the rock, she wedged herself in until none could see her.

Yet she couldn’t block the sound of His tender flesh tearing.

Leaning her forehead against the rock, she sobbed.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

 

The joyous celebration lasted for three days.

Folly didn’t move for three days, living each agonizing second of his torment. Tears streamed down her face for three days.

“Enough!”

Folly scrambled from her hiding place, stopping short when she saw Him.

Fallen angels were sprawled everywhere, dazed and confused. The Son of the King stood above them all, arm raised in victory, fist clenching the keys to death, hell, and the grave. The black tar of the world’s sins puddled around His feet, careful not to touch Him.

Folly’s eyes darted to Death. She easily found him, cloak ripped open, sprawled on his back, gaping at the blazing light emanating from Him.

All the others shielded their eyes, but Folly soaked it in. The pain was worth it. It felt so good. So clean. She peeked at the Son, relishing His presence.

He was clean. Healed. Completely whole. Not an open, oozing wound remained. Folly thought she saw some scars but couldn’t be certain in the blinding light.

“You—you can’t do that!”

Folly glanced at Lucifer. Small, insignificant, he lay face-down on the raised platform where his throne had been.

Folly did a double-take.

The throne was split down the middle, top to bottom, half of it lying on its side. The other half lay crumbled in a great mass of black rock. Irreparable.

The Son didn’t answer Lucifer, just smirked and turned away.

“All who want to live and have new life—a second chance, follow Me.”

Folly’s confusion cleared as chains started dropping off the creatures held prisoner for so long. The creatures flooded after their Savior in great droves.

Folly didn’t even know how they had heard Him in the far recesses where they were bound, but they had. Somehow.

Cain ran past, sobbing, arms outstretched toward the One leading them to freedom.

The Son paused. Turning, He stared right at Folly. He held out His hand to her.

Folly froze, the blood pounding in her ears. She wanted to follow so badly, but—she didn’t. She stood there, frozen. Torn. Unable to move.

With a final, sad glance, the King’s Son dropped His hand and disappeared from sight.

Darkness engulfed the cavern once more.

Wailing started again.

Rage built in the pit of Folly’s stomach.

Staggering toward the hated noise, Folly was astounded to see a few of the creatures picking up their chains and putting them back on.

“What are you doing here?”

The creature didn’t answer her, just stared mournfully at the darkened tunnel the Prince had vanished through.

Folly moved close.

“Why didn’t you go with Him? That was your chance for freedom. For escape.”

“Oh, no.” The creature still didn’t look at Folly. “He could never forgive me for what I’ve done.”

“Fool!”

Folly swatted the woman to the ground.

“Do you realize what you’ve done? You gave up your only chance to leave this place! Your only chance of escape. Do you realize what you’ve done?”

Folly clawed the woman’s face—drove her fist into the creature’s temple. Kicked her. Beat her until she felt a tug on her arm.

Breathing heavily, blood dripping from her hands and face—not her blood, the woman’s blood—she jerked away and stared until a face came into focus.

Lucifer stared at her, wide-eyed with a slack jaw. Folly squinted. A look she had never seen on his face bugged her until she figured it out. He was scared of her. In awe of her. A grin tugged on her mouth.

“Come,” he said almost reverently. “I must speak with you.”

Trailing behind Lucifer, Folly passed Death, sitting on the floor with his head in his hands.

“Ruined. I’m ruined,” he moaned.

“Get over yourself.”

Folly kicked him as she walked by. He didn’t even notice.

When she stepped into the corridor, Folly gasped when Lucifer wrapped her in a hug.

She was at once repulsed and enticed by him.

He pulled back after too long a moment, settling his hands on Folly’s shoulders.

Folly almost reached for him when he pulled away but stopped herself. It felt so good to be hugged.

“You know how important you are to me, right?”

Folly nodded, at once suspicious.

“You know I can’t defeat the maker without you, right?”

Folly glanced away.

“Right?”

“Right.”

“Okay, then.” He awkwardly patted her shoulders. “Just so you know.”

He turned to leave.

“What else?”

Lucifer turned back to her, eyebrow raised.

“Why did you tell me that? What do you want?”

His blank face looked far too innocent.

“I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you. That you made the right choice. That’s all.”

“Nothing else?”

“Nothing else.”

His smirk peeked through before he turned away.

Folly watched him go. Her shoulders sagged. She felt sapped of strength. Deflated. For once, she just wanted to be loved for who she was, not what she could do.

Folly’s jaw hardened.

Well, she had missed that opportunity. Again. Time to start living with the life she had chosen. No more longing for a better life.

 

Wisdom paced.

“But couldn’t You just…?”

“No.”

Wisdom bit her lip and followed the Maker’s gaze for the hundredth time. Maybe the thousandth.

He stared at a fixed spot on the globe, fists clenched, one covering His mouth, jaw tight, tears bleeding from His eyes.

He had been like this for three days.

Wisdom had been shoved out of the Throne Room along with all the other angels who had come clamoring to see the King after fallen angels had dragged His precious Son away.

Wisdom hovered outside the Throne Room, only to catch glimpses of His unyielding posture as the days marched slowly on. She had insisted Michael let her see Him. Over and over again. She was desperate to be with her Lord. To help Him. Comfort Him.

Michael had remained firm until the third day. At the Maker’s approval, he let Wisdom and Wisdom alone into the King’s chamber.

Now Wisdom stood before Him, wishing she could see what He saw.

“Master—”

“Not now, Wisdom.”

Wisdom’s wings drooped. Dropping her head, she settled on the bottom step of His throne and leaned her head against His leg, offering the only comfort she could.

His hand nestled onto her shoulder and squeezed. He left it there.

Hours passed. Known only to Wisdom because of the careful Time Keepers who saw to it time kept its place in the world the King had created.

Love’s grip tightened.

Wisdom sat up.

A few excruciating minutes ticked by. The King’s Son appeared below. Followed by a host of creatures who had been missing.

Angels poured out of Heaven, surrounding those making their way to Heaven.

Wisdom jumped up to join them, but Love’s grip never left her shoulder.

Stay. Please.

Wisdom happily lifted His hand from her shoulder and gripped it tightly between her own. She kissed the back of His hand as tears streamed down her face.

As she studied the procession, Wisdom whispered, “I see. I see now what You did. Forgive me for ever doubting You.”

He squeezed her hand.

Jesus, triumphant, entered Heaven and stood before His Father’s throne.

Wisdom bowed and moved aside.

The King stepped off the throne and stood before His Son.

He opened His arms wide.

“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

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

Sacrifice by EnchantedWhispersArt on deviantart.com, copyright © 2012-2015.

Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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