The mind is always a single point of reference. Without others, we remain only a point; there are no lines to define us, no shapes to give meaning.
Planar crossings were a simple affair, so long as enough power was present in the ones doing it. For Ilias, traversing Heaven was no different than the stepping stones of a garden. Eden, in spite of her demurely comparable power, always had to use a bit more force to puncture the dimensional barriers.
Time and time again, Ilias had told her to train on such matters for moments just like this.
In mere moments, Eden drew them across Heaven, to a distant plane she was surprised to find was unknown to her. Their landing was no gentle affair, the sheer impact of their presence thundering the air and shaking the earth. Ilias blinked as ordinary light reached her eyes once more, plumes of dirt and grass falling around her.
“My, you are always so rough,” Ilias remarked airily, brushing dirt off her shoulder.
The seraph made a disagreeing chirp, appearing vexed at the notion. “I am not,” she rebuked while one of her hands grabbed Ilias’ buttocks, giving it a strong, quick squeeze. The goddess jumped a tiny bit, shooting a sharp look at the innocent eyed angel.
Tease me, will you? she thought, making a note as the dust settled. Ilias’ eyebrows climbed upward as a spectacle of gold and marble architecture came into sight.
To her eyes, they had landed in a long stretch of garden, and a brick laid path underneath them. The part they landed on was utterly destroyed, but the rest had the tell-tale hallmarks of angelic perfection in geometric square patterning. Knee high stalks of gold grass fluttered around them, dotted with wild flowers of every color of the rainbow.
“Eden …” Ilias muttered, her eyes sweeping across the expansive fields. When she turned around fully, her eyebrows and ears perked up entirely. “What is all of this?”
“Well, it has been a project of mine for … many years now, Your Grace.” Eden brushed a lock of hair away and averted her eyes at Ilias’ burning gaze. “It is nearly complete, but, here it is.”
Ilias almost laughed at the faux-modesty as she stared at the angelic city before her. In true fashion, marble stone wove together with crystalline trees, the epitome of high craft in Heaven. Gnarled, towering spires jutted from the earth as buildings clustered at their base, the more extensive ones scaling up the spires themselves.
“You have an entire city sitting here,” the Goddess remarked and waved a hand with incredulity. “How?”
“When I was building the plane, I needed the extra space,” Eden commented, poking her fingers together nervously. “I set up at the boundary of Heaven, to be out of Your way. It all came together, kind of.”
“There are parts I am still fixing. The grass looks like gold, for one.”
Bemused, Ilias bent down, plucking a single blade. She rolled it between her thumb and index finger, testing it. “The atomic structure is arranged correctly,” she muttered, squinting as the blade turned to dust. Her gaze crawled upward into the featureless beige sky, the only light the distant glow of Heaven’s other planes. “Oh. That would be why.”
“What would be?”
“You copied mortal grass, but did not give it a sun to grow from. It took after Heaven’s radiances for the light it needed.”
“A sun?” Eden echoed, joining Ilias in staring upward. “Why would it need something so pathetic?”
“Considering I designed mortal life to feed off such solar furnaces, the grass you are using requires it as well.”
Ilias hid a grin behind her hand at Eden’s annoyed look. Truly, such a matter was an issue of study mid-level celestial engineers had to bother with. “Shall I recommend you to the College of Solar, my seraph?”
“No, no, I should not burden Your Grace with such a trivial matter,” Eden replied, waving her hands dismissively.
“If you insist. Nonetheless, I must say this is a surprising gift, Eden,” Ilias said with a smile, her growing cheer evaporating at the angel’s confused look. “What?”
“This is not Your gift, my Goddess.”
Ilias stared at the angel, her gaze gradually sliding sideways. She looked around the vast open fields, then to the city far away, and back to Eden once more. “Pray tell, then, why we are out here?”
“W-well,” the angel chirped at the dire tone, “I thought Her Grace would like to … go for a walk?”
Eden’s ears fluttered beside her head in spite of the general’s rather stoic expression.
Ilias mused she had all the time in the world now.
“You know me well, Eden,” the Goddess said with a small smile, her wings stretching open. “Shall we walk, then?”
Though her own smile was small, Eden’s aura beamed with such warmth it took Ilias aback. The seraph stepped over, all six of her beige wings stretching open as well. Her arm twitched with a half-formed impulse, one she visibly had to restrain from. “Uhh, would Her Grace like to … hold hands?”
Truly, Eden is the lewdest of my angels.
Ilias closed the gap, squeezing herself against Eden’s side, her lithe fingers intertwining with the angel’s own. The opportunity for revenge proved too great, however, and she stretched her golden wing into the beige thicket sprouting from Eden’s back. A tiny, thrilled gasp escaped the seraph as their wings held each other as well.
“You know me quite well indeed, Eden.” Ilias stared up at the blushing angel. She smiled widely as her hand was squeezed and set her head against the seraph’s shoulder as they started their slow walk forward.
“I would prefer to think I know something after so long,” Eden said, vainly trying not to sound smug.
“Humor my intrigue on your planar construction skills, then, my seraph.”
“A-ah, what for, my Goddess?”
“How fares the life of this plane?”
“There is not any, unless we include all the flora.”
“A smart decision. It would be bad if we had another event like the dinosaurs here.”
“T-that was an accident!” Eden screeched.
“Several million years, Eden,” Ilias reminded with the sweetest of smiles, squeezing the angel’s hand extra hard.
Through the fields they walked, talking about nothing in particular. Fashion, foods, vacation; they did their best to avoid the war or the reconstruction. For Ilias, it was a welcome reprieve from the nightmarish thoughts that tormented her.
With Eden’s comforting presence next to her, the two of them entered the angelic city. Ilias couldn’t help marveling at some of the differences she spotted, how in one stroke it was familiar yet starkly new. Angels, as a rule almost, venerated the old. They never replaced anything, despite how much it needed replacing.
“This is all brand new,” Ilias commented to Eden, her eyes on the curved arches. Rather than the usual blocky brick work, the marble was smooth and flowing, intertwined with crystal. It looked all the more grown than placed by hand.
“When some of the architects heard what I was doing, they offered to help,” Eden explained. “They wanted to work on a ‘blank slate’, as they called it. I am still not certain how they found out, though …”
The Goddess paid no mind to the pondering, her eyes fixated on a particularly lewd statue passing them by. It was wholly made of stone, rather than a guardian angel, making the display of a one woman being voraciously suckled upon all the more impressive.
“Amazing,” she muttered. “They have held back such skill all these years?”
Eden chuckled, her wings shaking with her shoulders. “That is what I said too.”
Ilias, with a half a mind to wander off and inspect all the vacate buildings, kept looking around as Eden dragged her along. They headed toward a spire adorned in church-like towers, a sloped arch jutting out to greet them. A charming cobblestone path, contrary to the neat bricks of the city, led the way to the massive doors guarding the entrance.
“This is a bit more familiar,” she noted, eying the small, wild flower builds and grass lining the walkway.
“I had requested this spire be a bit more traditional.” Eden sniffed daintily, a touch of formality to her tone. “A more suitable home for me, I think.”
“Yes, it is certainly your style.”
Eden hummed thoughtfully at that and they reached the base of a small set of stairs. Sighing dispassionately, she delicately let go of Ilias’ hand and unfastened their wings. They shared a sour smile at their separation, but Eden soldiered on up the stairs.
“Now then, my Goddess!” she announced in a statelier voice, throwing her arms and wings wide open. “Welcome to my Elysium! I hope You will enjoy my lovely host, hm?”
Ilias smiled at Eden’s grandiose wink and clapped her hands. “I look forward to it!”
“Then, allow me to show You inside.” The seraph waved her wings invitingly as she twirled around.
Climbing up the stairs after her, Ilias’ eyes fell upon Eden’s rump. The angel’s hips swayed in her sexy saunter, the tight toga sliding over her rump invitingly. I look forward to it, indeed.
Eden made a show of turning once more when she reached the enormous, gate-like doors, her beige wings spread wide and open. She held her hand out in a sweeping bow, holding herself at an angle with her theatrics. “And now, may I introduce, my host!”
Ilias waited with baited breath.
And waited …
She blinked as nothing happened at all.
Sweat collected on Eden’s brow, her picture perfect face unmoving all the while. It dripped down her forehead in tiny trickles, threatening to spill down. With a cough, she shot straight up, her back ramrod straight while she kicked backwards into the door.
Ilias hid her smile behind a hand, watching Eden approach the door as it cracked open a tiny bit. Utter menace dripped from the angel and she couldn’t help feeling a small touch of sympathy for whoever was on the other side.
“You had weeks!” Eden hissed in a whisper, but the Goddess’ ears heard it all the same. “I—whatever, just, open the door! Ad lib!”
All smiles and sunshine, Eden turned to the Goddess, holding her arms open once again. This time, the grand doors creaked as they opened in full, the air yawning with their sheer presence. Errant, tiny rays of light peeked out, cascading into a warm, blinding ray.
Ilias, bewildered by such a thing, let herself be guided in by Eden.
What could possibly be there blocking my sight? she marveled. The only thing in Heaven would be an Ophanim …
She frowned and the light receded, almost frightened by her gesture. Ilias blinked the spots out of her eyes, finding the source of her strange quarry. A small, ethereal woman hovered in the air, rings of beryl and amethystine circling her. Ilias squinted at her tomboyish face, speckled with little rays of the roiling fire beneath her skin.
The ophanim squealed as their eyes met, fire exploding out of her body, right to the limit of the ceaselessly turning crystal rings. Her fiery, spherical self went rolling away in the air, retreating behind the waiting choir of angels.
Ilias’ eyes crawled from the bashful angel’s retreat to the truly astounding number of other, more different angels staring at her.
When you said a host, Eden, I thought it meant servants …
Not every order of the Heavens, as her scrutinizing eyes prudently found out.
Lowly, human-like messengers gaggled at the fore, their superior Archangels and Principalities tending to them. Powers and Virtues vied for space, their colossal and purpose-built bodies brushing lewdly against each other. Further afield, the Dominions, Virtues, and Thrones awaited, hovering in the immense, spacious air of the entry hall. None of the Cherubs were visibly present, but she felt their reality distorting souls all the same.
“I …” Ilias’ singular word echoed in the hall, silencing the quiet murmurs of the angels. I was not planning on this. A polite cough came from Eden beside her. Stepping to the fore of the assembled host, the seraph regarded her with the warmest smile she’d seen in a long time. The very words of ‘kindness’ and ‘adoration’ felt small and unsuitable for such a wondrous sight.
Unprepared for such a thing, Ilias stood captivated when Eden spoke.
“My Goddess, Your Heavenly Grace … We are here, on this day, for You.” A red tinged wormed its way in Eden’s cheeks, a girlish blush both unlike her, yet at home. “As we were before, and as we always will be. Come what may with the mortals and their affairs, or those who would slander Your name.”
The top pair of her beige wings wiggled, and Ilias saw two archangel’s rise into the air, holding a bundle of cloth. They spread apart, stretching a banner wide open. Colorful vines and flowers, intermixed with stony-looking pillars, lined the edges in an artful decoration. Yet, in the middle where the words were, she found scrabbled letters, as if the writers were in a great hurry.
“We … you?” Ilias read the scrabble out loud, pointing at each enigmatic word. We, hove, you, you, Bolias? What nonsense is this?
“Ahh!” one of the archangels squealed as her companion glared at her harder. “I fucked the sign up!! Everyone, come on! Let’s say it!”
The air in the room yawned, a great many mouths opening in unison. With a single, harmonious chorus they spoke with their purest effort.
“WE LOVE YOU, ILIAS!!”
Their very words reverberated in the grand hall, dancing again and again through Ilias’ twitching ears. She stood beside herself, staring at the many angels gathered before her, the intensity of their emotions radiating off of them. Adoration, reverence, love, and indeed, quite a lot of lust, all swirled together in one heady, wonderful mixture.
She supposed she should say something, but there weren’t any words to use. Such worship wasn’t uncommon, quite a lot of angels did so for her.
This wasn’t any different.
Ilias blinked and looked at them all again, a smile of her own coming at last.
This was them doing what they always did. They were her loyal angels, the ones who stayed no matter what.
“I am pleased,” she said, her own wings fluttering happily. “I am very pleased to have so many wonderful, cute angels here with such a loving adoration.”
All of them broke out into their own little blushes and gleeful mutterings, ecstatic at her praise. From the rank and file, however, one angel emerged, rising above upon a pillar. Shaped in the guise of a hand, the angel sat upon her would-be throne, her body one of roiling magma and fire.
“Oh come now, Ilias,” the angel asked, her voice distorted through the flames. “Surely that isn’t all you have to offer us?”
The Goddess’ gaze hardened to bladed points as she regarded the upstart. “Principality Jurusee,” she noted with a touch of surprise. “You are here, I see.”
“Why sound so surprised?” Jurusee scoffed, throwing imaginary hair over her burning shoulder. The ever flaming peddles that suited for her eyes met Ilias’, the same defiant attitude as ever. “Oh please, I could not let this opportunity pass up, after all. A grand party for our beloved Goddess, why everyone should be here for it!” Jurusee drawled out the last few lines, almost mockingly.
“For as much as I might disagree with your policies, Ilias,” Jurusee went on, “I can be inclined to see the differences between politic and life.” The principality uncrossed and crossed her legs again, arms laid back upon her living throne. “And I can be inclined to, every so often, admit how little I see the bigger picture of it all,” she added on, studying the tips of her molten fingers.
“You?” Ilias snorted with a scowl. The angels around Jurusee backed away from her, trying to not draw any attention to themselves. “The one who has snapped her teeth at my ankles since she could first fly? The very same Jurusee who holds the longest list of admonishments out of any angel?”
“Tsssh!” the principality hissed, a noise like wood crackling in fire. “That I challenge you professionally is merely one facet. After all, had I not loved my goddess from the depth of my roiling chest, would I not be here? Let’s not answer that, Eden, lest your tongue lash a hole where I sit.”
Bemused by the declaration, Ilias could only marvel at the implications. A not ignorable number of angels followed Jurusee’s own methods, divergent as they could be. It was natural, in a way, that they wanted their own governance.
Out of all the angels she expected to rebel, they were the first ones on her mind. And yet, here was Jurusee, their leader in all but name.
Free will is …
Ilias smiled as she held a hand to her forehead, shaking back and forth.
Free will is a truly mysterious thing.
“So it is.” She drew herself up, her eyes meeting Eden’s expectant gaze. “I’m told there is a party here. Who would like to show me?”
Perhaps baiting her cute servants like that was a terrible idea. They all started screaming excitedly and clamoring for her. Eden only had moments to look dismayed before getting bulldozed over by the harem-to-be.