Bitter winds ripped sands across the gritty desert plain, covering the fallen warriors and plaguing the living. It bit into bleeding flesh, stinging the injuries of people conscious enough to care. A wounded man clad in tattered white robes stood in the center, amongst those not yet fallen.
The stench of rotten flesh infested his nostrils; fighters who fell early enough for the scorching sun to hasten their decay. Others fought well into the night. They battled for survival and revenge for their fallen comrades. The sand beneath his bare feet caressed his skin, coloring crimson as blood trailed from many wounds and soaked into it. The upper part of his robes had been shredded and hung past his waist – a large gash tore across his chest and bled profusely.
The lacking garments on his upper body freed his wings. Two wings larger than himself, once a stunning white were now tainted by dirt and blood, the remnants of his battle. His left-wing twitched and hung limp. He stretched the wing and stopped quickly as pain shot through the appendage. Broken bones. The battle he ignited had stolen one of the few things that defined whom he was.
Despite his wounds, the man, appearing no more than twenty-five summers, kept his composure. His sharp features twisted in slight detest and masked the pain he felt. Pressing a hand against his abdomen to slow the blood flow of one of his injuries, he cast a glance around.
The battleground had fallen into silence, though once raged with the fight between both sides – the rebels and the holy. Now bodies littered the ground, wounded and fallen from both parties. Even though the war began with no end in sight, the holy soon received back-up and overpowered the rebels with their sheer numbers. Upon cornering the leader of their opponents, they sealed their success.
"Lucifer." Another man took a step towards the injured one. "How could you betray our Lord?"
Amusement sparked in Lucifer's aquamarine eyes and he flicked his matted blonde hair over his shoulder. "You should be aware of my intentions."
A battle warred within as Lucifer fought to keep up the barrier that slowed the flow of his blood to nearly a halt. The strain took its toll on him and he flinched, expression warping to show both his physical and mental strain.
The other's lips curled into a slight frown while regarding Lucifer, the rest of his posture sharp and impassive. "You have gone down the wrong path, my friend."
Lucifer let out a short, distasteful laugh that echoed through the air and cut the tension like a knife. Abrupt coughs raked his body, halting the laugh and shooting needles of pain through him. Falling to his knees, he pressed one hand to his mouth while the other grasped a handful of sand and clenched it in a fist. Slowly, the tremors raking Lucifer's body passed and he removed the hand from his mouth. He inhaled several deep breaths and shoved the sharp pains they caused to the back of his mind. Lucifer wiped the blood on his robes as he rose to his feet and stumbled, regaining his balance quickly.
"Tell me, Michael," Lucifer spoke in a ragged tone. "You claim I have chosen the wrong path, yet was it not your Lord who commanded you to kill me?" Resolve overpowered his fatigue; he stared at the other man, defiance sparking in his eyes.
His body became weary as his spell weakened; Lucifer felt his powers slip away, ready to vanish and leave him to die. Like a candle fighting to stay lit as its wax runs out, he saw the light of his magic slowly escape his grasp.
Michael narrowed his green eyes and tightened his jaw in annoyance. "Do not compare what He has ordered to what you have done!"
Some of his Lucifer's mental strength returned alongside the slightest smirk. Michael was not an easy person to anger – he never had been. Lucifer proved one of the few gifted with that talent.
"I do not recall being the one to commence our battle. If the sentence for abandoning the Lord is death, then I am guilty. However, does one not have the right to choose? Our Father granted the humans the gift to decide without His assistance; can we not do the same?"
A string pulled back. Soft shuffling and the blanket of tension intensified. No attempt at subtlety made. Behind him, to the right; no more than fifteen yards away.
Aware that he was in no condition to dodge, Lucifer braced himself for the attack, his muscles tense in preparation of the impending strike. The tip of an arrow pierced flesh and dug between Lucifer's shoulder blades. He grunted, collapsing to his knees a second time. An angel, unwilling to let Lucifer carry on his blasphemous attitude; not intent on waiting for Michael to move on.
In his mind, Lucifer saw the light flicker once more before it went out. A small puff of smoke remained that ascended to the sky and abandoned its user. The spell that dulled his pain and stopped the bleeding vanished like the flame and Lucifer gasped. A flood of agony engulfed him. Flames licked across his skin, burned into his open wounds, and seared his very flesh. Out of reflex, his wings spread wide and wrapped around him as a shield. His left wing hung limp, unable to fully embrace him, leaving Michael in his vision.
Lucifer's breaths were irregular and each one sent rushes of intense shocks coursing through his veins. Sharp blades of fiery agony pierced his skin – once, twice, never-ending. Blood resumed its course, traveling over Lucifer's marred flesh and he felt his strength leave him as it did so. He knew his lifeline faded alongside it; he had no power left to heal his wounds. No chance to save himself.
He knew the end would come before accepting the challenge for the final showdown.
"Go ahead," he said, voice steady and calm. "Kill me."
Michael shook his head and the slightest spark of sadness reflected in his eyes. "You will pass without my assistance. At most, your spirit will be gone before the sun reaches the sky."
Behind Michael, Lucifer spotted the golden orb as it crept higher, peeking out above the horizon to grant Earth the gift of light. A bitter beauty for the end. Lucifer chortled and endured coughs in response from his parched throat. Each cough stung his chest from within. The flicker of confusion in Michael's eyes brought the ghost of a smile to Lucifer's face.
"I may be dead soon, but that shan't mean I'm gone."
Lucifer ran a hand through the sand and lifted a handful of the small beads, letting them fall through the space between his fingers. No matter that his life would soon end, Lucifer had taken matters into his own hands and knew that even after his death, his memory and strength would maintain its place in the world. His former kin and now enemies could not prevent his plan from unfolding. Too many Fallen remained loyal to him to let his death be the end.
Physical distress blurred Lucifer's vision. He shut his eyes and reopened them, briefly ridding the blur. Michael's form reappeared in front of him, poor eyesight not intervening.
The wind caused Michael's light brown hair to fly over his shoulders and block part of his gaze. He flicked the long hair back over his shoulder and stared down at Lucifer. Even without his powers able to confirm it, Lucifer knew it pained Michael to see him pass. Though he had abandoned the Lord, he had been an angel and Michael would remember those years even if he wished to forget.
Lucifer lowered his eyes to the ground for a moment's contemplation and then raised his gaze to look Michael directly in the eyes. He was aware his time grew short; the strength of the divine warrior others once praised and respected him for dissipated and for the first time, Lucifer sensed his mortality; he realized what humans felt every day they lived.
Yet for him, physical mortality was a mere inconvenience.
"I will never be gone."