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Dance to the music

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Samael looked around the pompously decorated city he was sent to by his older brother Michael. Humans called it the sixteenth century, which confused the archangel a bit, but he didn’t care enough about the mindless creatures his Father had created so long ago to ask. Looking at a pamphlet on the wall of a house, the archangel learned that the city’s name was Florence and it was the time of the yearly carnival. A sumptuous feast celebrated by the rich people of the town and to be marveled at by those too unfortunate partake in it.

People dressed in their elegant clothes wore masks to hide their real faces in front of each other while they danced, ate, and took part in many different kinds of debauchery. Samael huffed and rolled his shoulders to take some of the strain from his wings. His wings hurt after being trapped in a cage for so long. Michael only ever allowed Samael out of his cage when the oldest of the archangels wanted to make use of Samael’s talents.

Today Michael had sent Samael down to Earth to take care of a Cupid. The lower ranked angel had broken ranks and was now using his divine powers on humanity as he wished. Samael saw no wrongdoing, and he told Michael as much but the oldest archangel allowed no defiance. Samael knew he would be punished even before he started to speak and didn’t flinch but smile at Michael when the pain didn’t even make a muscle twitch.

Samael was released from the cage and handed a weapon to kill the cupid gone rogue. It wasn’t his blade, even Michael wouldn’t be so foolish, and Samael said nothing when he was handed the sword of a mere soldier. It was an insult to his rank as an archangel, but he took the sword without giving Michael the pleasure of hearing him speak. It wasn’t yet time to fight Michael in open battle. Not yet, at least.

Wandering through the mass of people was a simple task for the archangel. Humans parted in front of him like the ocean against a boulder. They moved out of his way when they felt him as he was too otherworldly to walk among humanity.

Sniffing the air, Samael found the scent of the lesser angel’s grace. He had lost it when he crossed the vast marketplace, but now that he was back on track, it was only a matter of time until he would find the rogue cupid.

Unbothered, Samael walked past the men guarding the palace of the current Doge of the city. The guards took no noticed the archangel walking past them.

Samael walked through the hallways and smaller rooms. The whole palace was reeking of the cupid’s grace while he saw nothing but debauchery and humans captured in questionable positions and pleasure. It reminded him of the animals he had watched as a young angel when they had feasted on fermented fruit; no self-awareness of the predator walking past them.

He followed the sound of the music only to walk into a vast ballroom.

People dressed in darkest colors, the women wore long, and flowing gowns and the men were equally dressed but in pants. All of them wore complicated masks to hide their faces. Samael spotted masked designs as the faces of animals, of creatures he would call a demon or monsters made up by the human mind.

They were all dancing to the music. It was like they had no mind of their own as they danced as one mass and entirely in sync. Like waves hitting the beach on a summer night with a soft breeze dancing over the water without crowning the waves with white foam. It was a hypnotic watch, even to an archangel. The consonance of the dance, of the moving bodies as they moved and whirled around each other, the way their feet hit the wooden floor in the always same staccato. Samael caught himself swaying to the music as well, in sync with the people. They made no sound; no laughter filled the room of the moving masses in their dark colors: just their loud steps, the rustle of their pompous clothes and the harsh sounds of the music. The severity of music made Samael bristle, and his wings twitched in discomfort.

The note of the music changed suddenly, and the people started to dance in pairs but were still solitary in their dance. They formed rows and rows of whirling limbs. It reminded Samael of a beehive.

There, over the heads of the dancing crowd, Samael spotted the face of the cupid he was ordered to hunt. The matchmaker was looking at him with an emotionless face, but in his eyes, Samael could see naked fear paired with the knowledge that what was to happen was inevitable.

Holding the cupid’s eyes, Samael joined the moving masses, but they never stopped their dance. They flew past him like a flock of birds. He was a bird of prey among sparrows.

He stopped in the middle of the hall; humans still flying past him without noticing his presence. The cupid stepped onto the floor as well, but he had to dance with the flock as not to collide with them and to not disturb the rhythm of their movements. Only when the cupid, so much smaller and so much weaker than Samael, stood in front of the archangel did the masses stop taking notice of him. His essence behind smothered by the powers of the biggest predator in the room.

Samael was sure that the cupid knew he was a lost cause. No one survived once Samael was called, rogue or renegade, they all fell. He was Michael’s bloodhound after all and Michael wasn’t known to show mercy. Total obedience or death, nothing in-between. The only exception from this rule was Samael, and Michael still thought that he was following Michael’s orders out of obedience. How foolish.

The cupid now looked at Samael with a sort of defiance Michael would kill him swiftly for, without a thought. Samael wasn’t his brother.

“I was expecting someone to come after me some time. But I wasn’t expecting to see... you.”

Samael chuckled, and the archangel’s amusement caused another change of music. The masked dancers were whirling around the two angels in wide circles before they broke apart once more.

“You caused quite the chaos on Earth. You should have guessed that Michael would send me to take care of the mess.”

The cupid’s lips trembled with the beginning of a snarl, but he stopped himself just in time and huffed at Samael.

“Michael thinks he’s ruling Heaven when it’s up to our Father to rule Heaven as He watches over the Earth while the angels tend His garden. The Host has forgotten its duty. I merely went back to the task that was given to us by Father himself.”

Samael rolled his eyes. A fanatic again, something else once in a while would be awesome. He let his blade fall into his hand.

The cupid saw the blade and paled. The music changed into something aggressive, and the dancers parted into men and women who marched at each other through the room without taking notice of the angels.

“One renegade against another, Michael is a fool to think he’s controlling you. He thinks you are his footboy, his bloodhound while you are just like me. You are defining him as much as I do and you are free to roam with Michael’s collar around your throat. What makes you any different than me that I have to die while you are revolting against Heaven again?”

Samael didn’t answer the cupid’s accusations, not at first. He only stared at the cupid before he placed his hand around the cupid’s neck in an almost loving gesture. Leaning forward, Samael whispered his answer into the cupid’s ear.

“I am an archangel, and you are not. You are right, though. Michael is a fool to set me free and use me like a bloodhound, and he will realize his mistake soon enough.”

In a swift movement, and with a passive smile on his face, Samael buried his blade in the cupid’s chest and pierced its vessel’s heart with the sword. He stepped back and ripped his blade free while he watched the grace die in the cupid’s eyes.

Letting go of the former rogue and now dead cupid, its vessel fell on the wooden floor. His wings were burned into the wood, and his blood spilled all over the floor. Using the blade, he was still holding into the hand, Samael broke the seals around the collar Michael had indeed put around his neck before he was allowed to leave.

The collar dropped down with a loud metallic sound which drowned in the now almost ecstatic music. Samael let the blade he was given earlier drop down while he put his sword away. Michael had been foolish to allow Samael to roam so freely. It only helped the renegade archangel gather his powers, find allies here on Earth against Heaven and this far away from Heaven the warding was too weak to keep Samael from summoning his blade.

The now free once more, Samael walked slowly out of the ballroom, the masses stopped for a short time to allow the most powerful deity on Earth to leave them, but the moment Samael left the room, the masses started to flow again.

They didn’t care for the dead angel in their midst. They stepped on his burnt wings and scattered his blood with their feet until it painted the floor in streaks of red.