As Wewelsburg Castle burns, Eli carries Isaiah to safety. So much is lost, Malachi is gone, the Demon from Eli’s terrible past is reborn into the world already at war, and to make matters worse, Gideon is back. Yet, before Eli can even reach the sanctuary of his home, he learns a painful truth about Gideon, the truth of why he left him, and Eli can barely hold onto his own sanity. Eli quickly understands that not everything in life, or death, is black and white, and sometimes to protect the ones we love, we have to make the greatest sacrifice of all.
Oh, and it so did, the very moment that his hunky countenance filled my vision. I, the King upon the stage, and he, the dazzling beauty whose gaze sought me out from that audience of adulation. Was I not a star? Was I not a God upon the stage of Heaven? Yes! I, the star in ascendance, more dazzling than any other meagre thing that London had to offer. And yet, there in the dark, I saw him, his eyes, so bright, so moved by the brilliance of my performance, eyes that sought me out, and love lay lost at my feet. My heart belonged to him from that very moment. There, upon that stage, I fell in love with a dream. I fell in love with a beauty that blinded all else, and every word, every emotion that I invoked, all of it I directed towards him, my muse in the dark.
That was before he killed me, of course.
It took every ounce of strength left in me to leave him. Poor Eli. He looked so hopeful standing there on that hill overlooking Wewelsburg Castle, naked. Where to focus my eyes? I had to scrape my gaze away from his hard, muscular body and that thing hanging between his legs and remind myself that there stood the man who killed me. Eli ripped open my throat, and he drank my love away, every drop, and he cast me away, an empty thing, a savaged testament to his own insurmountable grief. As we stood upon that hill of decisions, I searched his eyes, and I saw his guilt glistening inside there, the pain that sparkled with such sharp definition, cutting away his insufferable confidence as he faced me. I heard my Bard inside my head, his words never truer to my ears. The smallest worm will turn, being trodden on.
“I am not coming with you, Eli.” I had said the words, I meant the words, yet even so, the suffering they caused upon that beautiful face pained me so. A darkness washed over him that had nothing to do with the weak sky or the sun that fought to rise above the mountains, it had to do with me. I never thought I had it in me, the strength to leave him, the one thing that kept me bound to the Earth, the one thing on Earth that I truly loved, even more than Shakespeare.
So I turned my back on him, and I walked away. Without flesh to contain my emotions, it felt worse somehow, as though my own despair could not stand to stay inside me. I could almost see my own heart aching inside my chest, a pathetic, broken thing, shattered like myself, beyond recognition. My tears streamed down my cheeks in a torrent of misplaced love, as wasted as the years I spent at his side, yearning for his affection. And like my tears, I too felt wasted. I wanted nothing more than my time upon the Earth to come to an end, to release me from my pain.
“Daniyyel! Ask me, Daniyyel! Please ask me, I am ready.” How pathetic my voice sounded as I bellowed into the sky, so weak, so ineffectual, so inconsequential. That just about summed me up.
I waited, sitting in the long grass outside the concentration camp, staring up at the sky, waiting for the gentle flutter of wings to herald my salvation, but the Angel did not answer my call. He had promised me he would ask me the question one more time when he thought me ready. Was I not ready? Was my business upon the Earth not concluded? The truth, no matter how foul, no matter how unpalatable to me, now lay revealed—I had nothing left to bind me to the world of the living. I wanted to go, it was time for me to go, to leave behind my pain, to leave a world in which I no longer belonged.
I lay down in the long grass, my vision filled with sky, and I wanted to feel the grass against my skin, to feel its coolness brush against my flesh, but I could not feel it.
Did I feel different? Oh, where to begin with that! Malachi the ghost, Malachi the actor, Malachi the murdered, Malachi the betrayed. Malachi the lonely. Love did not want me, love had no place for me in life or in death. And yet, just a very short time ago, I felt love, a different kind of love, a love that burned, a love that wanted all of me.
Possession leads to damnation. Well, in fairness, they did warn me. I just did not listen to them, I did not want to listen to them. I would risk my eternal soul for Eli, and risk it I did. The Demon took possession of my soul in a fury of unconditional love. It felt so liberating! To do and to say whatever I pleased, to feel the Demon’s insidious fingers fill every crevice of me, to look upon the world with eyes that did not care and did not feel. Not a fleck of unrequited love to blacken my heart, because as a Demon, I had no heart, just desire, just love. To be free of such crippling emotion, from the constraints of civilised behaviour, the Demon unshackled a part of me that I never knew existed. Well, apart from the fruitiness. I always was a bit on the fruity side, as many a Russian sailor could testify. The Demon filled me with a confidence that made me feel so attractive, so sexual, and I loved it.
“Did it hurt, dear heart?”
His voice startled me, and a little yelp squeaked between my lips. Melek lay next to me, lying on his side, his handsome head resting in his hand, the yellow of his eyes burrowing into me.
“Please, how very dare you! You gave me quite the turn.”
“I would love to give you a turn.”
I turned onto my side, my own head resting in my hand, mirroring his sublime position, looking at him, drinking him in. Wow. His beauty really defied description, and as I gazed at his pouty, full lips, I found that I wanted to kiss them. Kissing meant trouble. My lips never failed to land me in it, every time they touched someone. Yet, they were there, just in front of me, crying out for me to kiss them.
“Tell me, Malachi, I want to hear it. Did it hurt?”
“What? When Daniyyel ripped my Demon from my body and made me a floating fart again? Of course if hurt.”
Melek reached out his hand towards my face, and I felt him, his touch, his warmth against my skin, and my body shivered at his caress. Better the Devil you know.