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Heaven, as you know it, is no paradise of tranquility as the hordes of mankind were led to believe. It is no promised land where the souls of the chosen and the faithful would be salvaged from the punishment of the grave nor the torment of the Fire. Nor is it the abode of your father and mine, Jehovah the Creator. While once He did dwell there - attended unto by the four living creatures who were His sentinels - He has long-since abandoned His glistening throne; vanishing into the darkness of the ether which lies far beyond our perimeters, taking with Him the four guardians as well as those souls deemed worthy, of which there were only handfuls - few of them of remarkable repute.

And yet, I waver. Forgive me.

Heaven itself, even before Eden's degradation, was a series of interconnected chambers; each intricately forged of flawless ebony and obsidian, and steeled together by unstained silver. These metals and minerals were reflected in our armors and cutlery as well; meticulously hammered and intricately chiseled of glistening black to reflect the pristine of Heaven and the gravity of that office, complete with a finish of empyrean steel and bejeweled with onyx and amethyst.

Even within the halls of our labyrinthine abode, we flew through the air as winged sentries answerable to an unseen and silent Creator. It was here, in this cold and sterile world, where I and my kin - whom He had christened mal’akhim upon the second day of Creation - were commanded to remain still until each was summoned forth by name to perform our anointed tasks.

To the right of Jehovah and thus highest in rank was Michael. The fiercest of Heaven's lions, the most feared and the most loyal, or so he would have you believe; the fiery sword which severed the night itself. When the time come, it was Michael whom the Creator appointed as viceroy of Heaven. Firm and boisterous, Michael's pride and prejudice rival that of the Fallen, and his contempt for mankind's lewd desires is as boundless as his rage. Even now, Heaven's gates remain sealed under Michael's commandments and thus humanity suffers. Were it not for his devotion to the Word, he would be no better than the Adversary we are taught to despise and fear.

To the right of Michael was Remiel. As thunderous and as bold as Michael was fearless and absolute; he who set the lighting in the heavens to smite those who sought to defy the delicate balance of Jehovah's will. It was Remiel who scarred Cain with the seventh curse, just as it was Remiel who cast his father Adam from Eden and into the barren lands of the unknown. When the Watchers abandoned their post in Heaven, it was Remiel who bound them in chains of fire and darkness, lashing them with thunder bolts with a glee and a cruelty that drove even the Creator to weep.

In slight contrast to this vengeful duo was Amitiel. Peaceful but candid; he who loved mankind as much as the Creator and yet was just as callous in his judgement and just as resolute in his verdict. When the War in Heaven ended, it was Amitiel who oversaw the judgement of the Adversary. Only the Adversary, whom Amitiel had never known of until his rebellion, was afforded absolutely no compassion in his judgement.

To the left of Jehovah was Gabriel. Articulate and erudite, whose trumpet split the heavens to make way for the Lord; the voice of Heaven who ushers forth the will of the Creator and who revealed to Adam the wonders of the inscribed Word. When the Serpent declared his intentions to the Creator, it was Gabriel who served as the emissary between the two warring factions, as it was Gabriel who proved loyal above all to our Maker.

Outside of this circle was Raphael. As gentle and benign as his brethren were fierce and wise; the merciful hand of the Father who's touch cleansed the body of all sickness, wounds and infirmity, and purges away the fear and malice that prospers best within the mortal heart. During the War in Heaven, it was Gabriel whom the Adversary deemed sacrosanct; none of the rebel host were permitted to raise their swords to the beloved seraphim. This was a mistake that no doubt haunts the Serpent to this day.

Obscure to all but his Maker and the souls of the dead was Uriel. Veiled in shadows and enveloped in silence; the reaper of souls who severed the link between life and death with but a swing of his scythe and ushered forth the departed to their fate with the beating of his obsidian wings. When the War in Heaven began, it was Uriel who remained with the Creator in neutrality of the warring legions, looks of bored condescension upon their countenances.

Finally, the unknowable Ithuriel. Keeper of mysteries and the unseen truths; he who is the beholder of the Lord's thoughts and who not dare to speak the wholeness of His seemingly endless knowledge. It is Ithuriel, in his myriad of attributed affectations, whom the magi seek to emulate in their search for revelation and apotheosis. None but the Maker have seen his face, and those magi powerful enough or foolish enough to discover his whereabouts never speak of their findings, or indeed of anything else ever again.

Yet this order was not to endure. Once, upon the seventh day of His labor, He looked upon His creation with pride and ecstasy; an act of self-realization and fulfillment every bit as sublime and as profound as the consummation of an affection long unrequited, and yet every bit as base and as vulgar as the spilling of ejaculate upon a dry and barren surface. He would walk boldly among the grasses He'd sown within the gardens and the forests of the mountains, tending unto the gracious animals He'd orchestrated into being.

But the magnum opus of His design, those intelligent beasts made in His own image, was that which would call itself mankind. They were of the image of the Lord, and yet they were creatures of flesh and blood and excrement and seed as the animals were. They were so like Him in their temperament and drive, and yet they were creatures of instinct and appetite in a way that we recognized only in accordance to the laws of life and death.

Adam was the first to come to be, fashioned within the womb of a gorilla in heat. Eve came next, fashioned from one of Adam's ribs - taken from him as he slept. He was dark of hair and whole of form as a man; uncircumcised, virginal and naked, remaining perpetually thus while Eden was young. Eve was born of him, and she too was supple and fertile; auburn of hair, full of bosom, and birthed in heat. The spectacle of their fornication - the suckle of her mouth and the caressing of her hands, the thrusting of his hips and the sway of her beasts, their moans of heavy breath and the musk of their sweat, all culminating in their cries and groans of conception - all was like music to us.

The Creator beheld it all, the magnitude of His genius. All the intricacies of biology and community, the potential for change and prosperity, and the mystery presented by the challenges of the unknown. The exhilaration of danger and strife, and the ecstasy of victory which would come from the overcoming of these trials.

He beheld all of this, and He saw that it was good - and so too did we.

But not all was well, neither in Heaven above nor Eden below. Just as the children of Adam would come to sanction each man, woman, and child into classes, affiliations, and tasks in accordance to attributes both inherent and exhibited within them, so too were the Host of Heaven divided into castes in accordance with the count of our wings and the aptitudes we cultivated.

First among equals were the six-winged seraphim, those who held council with the Creator as His sons, brothers, and lieutenants. Beautiful even among the mal’akhim and amorous unto all who beheld them, the seraphim were closest kin to the four living beasts who encircled the Creator, and who beheld the terrible rapture of their praises. In accordance to their anointed tasks, the seraphim were seven in number and seven in name.

It was unto three of these seven mal’akhim that all others were held accountable. They were Heaven's most horrifying weapon, absolute and fierce. None defied their commandments, as they were the voice of the Maker unto all who served in the heavens under Him. Or so we were taught. Even if the truth were different, none but fools challenge the dominion of the seraphim; and the only fools who dared to do so now lie in agony amidst darkness and decay.

Second among the rank were the four-winged cherubim, tenfold the number of the seraphim. Of all the mal’akhim known by name, their lot was least envied. While the seraphim were the princes of Heaven, anointed above all else save man and the Creator. the cherubim were the knights and the generals of the Holy Host. Unto them were given the task of keeping the lesser celestials in line.

While they were second in imminence to the seraphim, they were neither feared nor revered in any significant measure as they never stood in the presence of the Most High. Nor too were they permitted lengthy council, as the contemplation of the Most High took precedence above all else. Never was this more appearant than when the Serpent, one of their number, rebelled.

Oh but they were strong, stronger than was ever acknowledged; and they had courage and fidelity to the Word. They knew their place all too well, perhaps moreso than any other caste. While the seraphim ruled through strength and the grigori fought through numbers, the cherubim led through example. They knew they could never aspire to lead as the seraphim do, nor could they bring themselves to steep to the level of violence as the grigori do. Instead, stuck in a juxtaposition between conviction and conscience, the cherubim were the perfect threshold between the two castes.

Finally, the linchpin of Heaven's legion, were two two-winged grigori. These were my kin, my brothers-in-arms. We wielded our swords as a painter wields his brush. Some would call us the dogs of Heaven as we were the lowest caste. I say, nothing could be further from the truth. Where the seraphim had their power or the cherubim their virtue, the grigori wielded courage in their numbers, a hundredfold the number of seraphim. It was we who raided the cities and shattered the temples while Remiel hurled his thunderbolts and Gabriel's trumpet split the skies. I daresay we were the proudest of all the Host.

Yet, it was we who fell first. One of the brightest amongst us, Samyaza, led a circle of his most trusted brethren, bounding themselves into a covenant of mutual accountancy that they would do this thing. By this time, the sons and daughters of men had grown in beauty and multiplied in number.

Under the cover of the evening star, when even the Creator's contemplation drew His attentions elsewhere, Samyaza and the two hundred Watchers who took of the covenant descended unto the valleys below and revealed themselves unto the descendants of Adam and Eve.