“And the devil He’s in trouble/You can see it in his eye If you don’t give him shelter/He’ll have no place to hide…”*
He had not thought this plan out very well. He had only seen a gifted soul he had wanted to possess. His orders were unclear as to what his minions were to do. He had not, for example, commanded them to cause this storm. He had told them to wreak havoc, but this had been over the top.
Yes, he liked to make an entrance. But souls were easier to steal if the victims were left alive. Drowning his intended victims had not been in the plan. Twisting truths. Creating lies. Mere contracts with those whose greed or thirst for power overpowered their common sense. Those were his favorite ways of messing with God’s plans. Not wiping out whole communities of souls, ripe for the harvesting.
But it had not been the community, itself, that had brought him out of his thoughts in Hell. Rather, there had been one very special woman from the mountains who’d caught his attention. Still, if he could damn whole communities in his pursuit, he had no qualms. The more, the merrier.
But now, his list was growing shorter. Even worse, he was beginning to realize that he was going to have to leave the valley. Soon, he would have to seek shelter…or give up his plan altogether. He gritted his teeth.
No! He would not give up this chance to possess such a powerful prize! Never! He would have her!He thought angrily.
A hand stopped Philip at the door. “No, Philip,” a voice said, quietly, “not yet.”
“I have to save her,” he found himself objecting, wondering why the speaker knew his name.
“You will,” came the reply, “but you can’t do it alone.” “Who else is there?” he asked exasperated. “Your brother is on his way with Abaddon. Besides. All of Heaven’s armies are converging here as we speak. Your sister isn’t as helpless as you think her to be.”
“But if Heaven’s armies are coming, that means that all of Hell’s minions are as well.”
“No, Philip. Only a handful of Hell’s army has been set free on this mission and you see the mess they have made of it. All you have to remember is that he will try to make you think heis something he is not. That is why he is c known as the Great Deceiver.
“She will have to see through his every illusion, Philip. Her salvation relies solely on her trust in Heaven and her family. You cannot spare her this. Just have faith that she has the strength of will, and of faith, to make it through the next two days.
“Where our Christ our Lord had forty days in the wilderness, she only has two. Pray for her, Philip, for every prayer counts. Then, when it is time, you will know and be able to act. But, at present, not all are present who are supposed to be.”
James found that they were making good time. As he looked over his map, he found that they had covered more than two-thirds of the distance between Devil’s Gate and Saint’s Ridge. The Angel’s Brow was where the old homestead sat nestled in a tuck in the hillside midway to the ridge. It was there he was now headed with his companion.
He knew they had covered more ground than should have been possible. The rain had also seemed to stop. Yet, outside their little bubble, the rain had not stopped. The ground, for at least ten feet in every direction, seemed to steam-dry before their feet touched it and no trace of their passage was left behind. It was as if they had never been there.
After they passed, the rain would wash away the dryness. It was surreal. None of this felt real. James felt as if he was walking in a dream. He had to keep telling himself that he was very much awake. Of course, his client allowed him to stop and rest. But he had not had to stop very often. For some reason, he had not tired as he normally would have. This had truly been the strangest trip he had ever made.
Michael had gathered his small force to the east. It was from here that Abadonna would come with his demons. Michael knew his force was more than strong enough to crush the fallen’s cavalry he would face. He had no worries.
Raphael gathered his force to the west of the cabin. He would be facing Mephistopheles and Hell’s archers. Not a problem. His own archers were much better. They would cut the Fallen rabble to ribbons.
Uriel held the north. Here, he would meet Beelzebub and his lancers. He smiled. Let them come. His force would impale their opponents and make quick work of them all.
Gabriel’s blasts, though sounding as thunder, heralded that he had arrived to the south. He would face the ninety-seven legions of Hell’s infantry led by Belial. He waited quietly. He would sound the advance, but never a retreat. Like Abaddon, his emotions were never something others could sense. Neither overconfident nor unsure, he was the consummate soldier’s soldier. And the third best General in Heaven, although all were equal.
Inside this ever widening ring, James led Abaddon to the homestead where Philip and his own angelic guardian waited, and where Tori was about to undergo the testing of an eternity. Heaven’s Generals had been given their orders. Allow the devil to slip behind their lines, then close the hole and allow no other to enter.
Abaddon smiled grimly at the sounding of Gabriel’s horn. All was set. All but a couple of details…and there were a couple messengers on those. All that mattered to him was completing his task. He had to get James to the homestead in time enough to win this battle.
Even the devil, himself, had played a part in the way things had happened. Abaddon’s icy smile widened into a nightmarish grin as the sullen angel watched his guide pour over his maps, keeping track of their progress. He knew that in the end, he and his guide-plus one-would mean life or death for a single person. And he was not one who failed at any mission.
* “The Devil” By Hoyt Axton. Verse 1b. Used with permission.