The Devil, Chapter 23

“And the devil he’s in trouble/I can see it in his eyes/If you don’t give him shelter/He’ll have no place to hide.”

Michael watched as the cabin burned rapidly. Soon, there was no evidence that a cabin had stood there except a pile of ash and a barren spot. Soon, grass would grow, and maybe a tree or two, and make it seem as if no one had ever lived there. The memory of Patrick would be lost to the ravages of time.

Michael took three steps toward the pile of ash. Without warning, a pair of angels appeared and barred his path.

“You shall not pass,” one of the angels stated, “with your shoes on.This is Holy ground.”

“Erect a fence,” the second angel began, “around this land to keep mankind from building upon it. Build a monument within the fence as a memorial to Petros Kerikos, the first guardian of mankind. Only guardians shall pass through the gates and into the sanctum within to visit the monument. Man cannot be allowed in.”

“As you wish, angel,” Michael replied, bowing, “I shall do as you say. But who will guard this?”

“There will be four of us guarding,” the second angel replied, “one for each gate. Each gate is to face a direction.”

Michael nodded. He removed his shoes and set to work. Before he was made a guardian, his powers had been phenomenal, something out of this world. When he left the mountains, he had forgotten that they existed. But coming home had reawakened them.

He concentrated on what he wanted. In his mind, he saw an ornate wall. It was no so much a wall as it was a sort of ornate trellis that met high above the monument in the center. It was so beautifully carved that it was as if no man had done it. At the center of the ash pile, he saw a Celtic Cross atop an altar. Pavers covered the ground inside the enclosure and led out from each gate to where a large stone shoe block sat.

The ground began to shake and stone began to grind as the earth where the cabin had been began to shift and change.Stone shot up from the ground and rose high above the hallowed spot, intertwining at the top, while an ornate Celtic Cross rose from the center along with a massive ornate altar. The four posts took on the forms of trees, their branches forming a protective canopy over the altar with intertwined branches. The fence sides were ornately carved and lower to the ground.

Michael smiled. He entered the sanctuary to inspect it. So precisely carved, beyond what any man’s hand could ever do. So wonderfully formed. It had formed perfectly, just as he’d envisioned it. He would have to bring his siblings here.

***

Tori watched Michael’s doings in her mind. She was saddened to know that the priest had passed, but understood why.

“Father Patrick is no longer with us,” she stated, “But he has been memorialized. We are the bearers of his legacy. Michael is the priest, the rest of us the hunters.”

“The correct term is guardians, sis,” James corrected, hugging her, “and we are supposed to create a family of guardians. Michael is supposed to do as we are. He is supposed to have a family as well.”

“Come,” Phillip interjected, “We’re being called to the sanctuary. We know the way.”

As one, Tanner included, the whole family moved toward the door and out of the cabin. Once outside, they continued in the direction of the new sanctuary. Tanner took gently took hold of Tori’s hand and she accepted his advance. She knew that he was to be the one she married. Phillip, David, James, and Harkiss still needed to find mates, but Thomas already had one.

***

Michael had erected a new abbey near the sanctuary. Massive, it had a Gothic cathedral look to it that was both foreboding and inviting all at the same time. This would be his home. He would operate from here. He would gather his flock, bless the comings and goings of the guardians, call meetings of the guardians, and whatever needed to be done.

The sanctuary would only be accessible to the guardians only. Any man, any human not one of the guardians, would die at the hands of the angels at the gates. He smiled. So this was how it was to begin. This was how heaven would keep evil in check.

He looked up in time to see his family, and Tanner, appearing  from over the ridge. Good. They had come. Did they know?

“Hail, Brother,” Phillip called, “greetings to the priest among the guardians.”

So they did know. Michael smiled.

“Hail, Brother guardians,” he replied, “and welcome to the sanctuary and the abbey of the guardian. This is our home. Here we will come and go as we keep our vigil.”

***

Satan saw his chance. An opening had appeared where no angel stood guard. His bindings no longer keeping him, he made a break for it. Slipping out through the crack, he vanished into the darkened world beyond. He was free at last. He looked back.

The crack he had slipped through was now gone. No other had been lucky enough to escape with him. No matter. He had a war to wage.

Lucifer would pay for deceiving him. His king would be stripped of his title and power. He would make sure of it. After all, he would make a better ruler of the demons than Lucifer. He knew how to control them. He smiled.

But, first, he had to find a way out of these infernal mountains. The gates here would soon be sealed and disappear. After that, perhaps in a century or a millennium, new gates would appear somewhere else in the world. Of course, a demon or two would escape through a crack here or there. But the hosts, the armies, would not have a chance to flood the earth with such chaos again for a long time.

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