Home > End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(8)

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(8)
Author: Susan Ee

Once I get past the horror of the heads, I realize that the eyes are all the same shade of green. How many heads would you have to choose from to be able to collect a group with the exact same shade of eyes and hair?

The ground is covered in broken glass and shards of bone. Each wheel is draped with two angels as if the monster demon didn’t want his shiny wheels marred by the rough ground. The Fallen angels are chained to the wheels and are stuck through with all kinds of shards sticking out of their skin.

Beliel is one of these Fallen chained to a wheel.

His wings are the color of a dying sunset. They must be his original angel wings. They’re half stretched out like he hopes to be able to keep them from being crushed. But many of the feathers are already scorched and broken.

I hadn’t thought about how demons become the way they are. Maybe there’s a transition time between being an angel and becoming a demon. Since Beliel still has feathers, I’m guessing this probably means that it hasn’t been long since his fall.

His face is recognizable, although somehow smoother, more innocent. His eyes lack that stinging, harsh quality that I’ve come to know. He looks almost handsome without his usual smirk and bitterness, though there’s pain.

A lot of pain.

But he bears it without a whimper.

The wheel rolls, crushing his body against the bone shards covering the ground, making him endure the weight of both the vehicle and the monster riding on it. His face is focused and determined, looking like he’s clenching his jaw to keep from screaming.

His wings tremble with the effort to hover above the ground. That protects them from the worst of the damage, but they still drag along the field of sharp bone and glass.

As the wheels roll, the angels who are chained to them are getting their wings slowly crushed and splintered. They still carry their empty scabbards, which clank and drag against the rough ground, reminders of what they’ve lost.

The giant demon cracks his stick above his head, and it unspools, whipping through the air. The shrunken heads begin shrieking as soon as they’re let loose. They shoot toward the harnessed angels with hair streaking through the air in front of them like snaky spears.

When they hit the angels pulling the chariot, the sharp hair begins to shred their skin.

The heads open their mouths wide and frantically gnaw on the Fallen. One of them manages to burrow halfway into the back of an angel before the whip gets pulled back.

These Fallen angels look starved and are covered in festering wounds. I suspect even angels need their nourishment to fuel their speed healing.

Then, in the middle of all this, a pack of hellions with their bat faces and shadowy wings slink toward them. They’re bigger than the ones I saw in my sword’s memories. Beefier and with spotted wings, as if they had disease blooming on them.

These hellions have a crafty gleam in their eyes that make them look more dangerous than the ones I’ve seen before. They look around, aware, moving with purpose. The modern hellions seem to have devolved into smaller, weaker, dimmer versions of these.

Still, these hellions are nothing compared with the demon lord. They’re shadow creatures against the towering thing riding the chariot, and they’re clearly afraid of him.

Maybe they’re not the same species. They don’t look anything like him. The hellions look like toothy bat-winged animals with squashed faces while the giant looks like an angel gone ugly.

The hellions are dragging someone behind them. She was probably once pretty, with mahogany hair and gray eyes, but now she looks like a used-up doll. Her eyes are empty, her face blank, like she’s sent her inner self away somewhere.

They pull her along the rough ground by her ankles. Her arms drag behind her head, and her tangled hair gets snagged on the spiky bones that tug at her. Her dress is torn into rags, and every bit of her is filthy and bloody. I want to help her up, to kick the hellions off her, but I am just a shadow here in Beliel’s memory.

I see faint smudges of the Halloween paint that the Watchers’ wives had on that night when I saw Raffe fighting for them. I don’t recognize this girl, but she must be one of the wives that the hellions were given. Raffe managed to save some but not all. I was there to see how much he tried. Maybe she was one of the ones who ran in panic.

The hellions drag the poor girl around all of the chariot wheels, staying far away from the demon while still being close enough to see the angels. They tremble when they have to come near the demon and keep looking up at him, as though afraid that he’ll strike out.

The demon hisses at them, and the air suddenly becomes more foul. Did he just breathe a whole lot of stinky sulfur toward the hellions the way a skunk might aim its scent? No wonder the air smells like rotten eggs here.

Half of the hellions run off in terror. But the other half stays, curling up and trembling until the demon loses interest.

They carefully resume their walk around the chariot. They’re looking at the expressions of each angel as they pass.

The Fallen tense up when they see the girl, staring with fascinated horror. They all look carefully at the girl as if they’re trying to see if they recognize her. Many shut their eyes when they see her, like their thoughts torture them even more than what’s actually happening to them.

When the hellions finally catch Beliel’s attention, his eyes grow wide in horror.

‘Mira,’ he rasps.

The woman blinks when she hears her name. Her eyes seem to focus. She turns her head. ‘Beliel?’ Her voice is vague, sounding like her inner self is still far away. But when she sees him, her face morphs from a blank mask to recognition. Then it turns to pure anguish.

She reaches out for him. ‘Beliel!’

‘Mira!’ he screams, terror in his voice.

The hellions sense it, and they hop with excitement. They chatter, nearly clapping their hands together in delight like little children.

Then they bare their sharp teeth threateningly, showing Beliel that they’re about to harm Mira in ways he can’t imagine.

‘No!’ Beliel thrashes against his chains, screaming threats against the hellions. ‘Mira!’

Then the hellions dive on the girl.

Beliel’s scream is horrifying. Mira finally breaks and screams too, her cries becoming wet and gurgling.

Beliel begins calling out in a broken, defeated voice, ‘Raphael! Where are you? You were supposed to protect her, you worthless traitor!’

I finally peek to see if I can get out of here. I can’t take this anymore.

The hellions have dragged the girl farther up to keep pace with the chariot to make sure that Beliel continues to see what they’re doing to his woman.

 

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