Raziel: Heaven's Keeper of Secrets

Submitted into Contest #142 in response to: Start your story with someone being given a book recommendation.... view prompt

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Speculative Christian Fantasy

Nathaniel entered the seraphic library amazed at what lay before him: innumerable rows of bookshelves containing tomes, scrolls, documents, and other texts reaching farther down than even his young angel eyes could see.

“There’s just too many!” he exclaimed flapping his juvenile wings, “How do I know what to choose, Seraph Raziel?”

The falcon-headed scribe of Heaven turns his attention from his writing and toward the little golden-haired boy from behind his desk.

“What sort of stories do you enjoy, master Nathaniel?” he inquired, “I am sure that I can help you find a tale that suits your interests.”

“Battle-Angels!” Nathaniel responded emphatically, his ivory-silk wings fluttering fervently with excitement.

“Ah, then surely you must have heard of Archangel Michael, the Legend of Heaven?”

“Of course!” The junior angel jumped, his emerald-green eyes glowing with intrigue. “He’s the greatest Battle-Angel ever! I want to know all about his achievements!”

“Very well. I know just the tome you’re looking for…” Raziel closes his eyes and lifts his open talon-hands parallel to his chest. A bright light appears and materializes into the book he envisioned. He extends it over his desk to Nathaniel who grabs it without hesitation. 

“Ah, no!” he cried, “It’s written in the old script, I can’t read it!”

“No need to worry,” Raziel assured, “I was in the middle of writing something, but I shall take a break to sit down and read this to you.”

“Oh boy, yes!” The ecstatic youth began whirling in the air. “Thank you, Seraph Raziel!”

The overseer of the seraphic library closes his work in progress and puts it in his desk drawer out of sight. “Why, of course. I can’t have you leaving this place of infinite wisdom and wonder all disappointed now, can I?” He steps around his desk and motions the youthful angel over to a large table. He sits at the head as Nathaniel descends from the air and into the chair on his right, both looking at the unopened book laid out before them.

“The title reads The History and Life of the Archangel Michael – The Thrice Greatest Protector and Legend of Heaven,” said the heavenly scribe, “chronicled, written, and illustrated by the Seraph, Raziel.

“No way!” Nathaniel couldn’t sit still, his enthusiastic wings slapping against the back of his chair. “You wrote this?”

“Of course, I am the scribe of Heaven and its historian, after all. Now, let’s open it up, shall we?”

“I can’t wait! What does the first page say?”

Archangel Michael was one of the first angels created by The Father,” Raziel read aloud, “who served as His right hand since the beginning and was instrumental in the creation of all living things. He served as the prime lord and prince over all the angels and was closest to The Father in both divinity and position. He brought order to the Seven Kingdoms of Heaven through the establishment of the middle and lower angelic classes, including the Princes of the Thrones, the Lords of Dominions, the Chiefs of Virtues, th—"

“And he was the greatest Battle-Angel ever!” the energetic young angel let out, “The Father’s strongest warrior!” he proclaimed.

“Correct, young master.” Raziel turns the page over. “Which brings us to how he earned his title – the three virtues he accomplished that made every angel under The Father hail him so.”

OH, yes!” Nathaniel clapped his hands and held them together, shaking them back and forth. “This is what I was looking for! What does it say? How did he do it?”

Archangel Michael’s first virtuous achievement came from becoming the first angel to defeat, capture, and tame a celestial beast,” the Seraph continued, “after which he invented the divine chariot, and founded the high angelic class of Ophanim, also known as the Masters of the Beasts and Wheels.”

“Woah! He did that?!” Nathaniel couldn’t believe his ears. He had always thought that the divine chariots and the beasts which pull them just…always were. He would have never guessed that they were once separate from the heavenly kingdoms.

“That’s right,” Raziel affirmed, “Before him, no angel was able to harness their abilities to conquer the tumultuous beasts. Now, the heavenly chariots patrol the skies of the seven heavenly kingdoms at a speed faster than even Archangel Uriel’s silver arrow can soar.”

“Way cool! What else did Archangel Michael do? There are two more virtues aren’t there? Please tell them to me, Seraph Raziel!”

The Keeper of Secrets smiled and continued on with the tale. “Eons later, Archangel Michael accomplished his second virtuous achievement by putting a diplomatic end to the heavenly civil war between the Seraphim Wise Masters and Ophanim in a struggle for authority in the higher kingdoms.

“Diplomatic?” Nathaniel sounded rather upset at the conclusion.

“Not all wars must end with fighting, Nathaniel,” the Wise Master explained as he continued the text, “He put an end to the heavenly civil war between the two classes by founding yet another high order, the Cherubim Masters of Harmony, equally composed of members from the Seraphim and Ophanim to both split and combine their responsibilities in maintaining stability among the higher kingdoms, thus ending the conflict of authority.”

“So, he didn’t battle at all in the civil war?”

“No, Nathaniel. With this single accomplishment, Archangel Michael showed that not all conflicts are resolved through physical ability or by gaining the most power, but rather by dispersing it among the many. As an angel, you must learn that it is always better to divert battle than to rush into it. To us, battles, conflicts, and struggles are fought with the mind, and only with the body in the most desperate of times, when it is absolutely unavoidable.”

“Is that why there are so few famous Battle-Angels?” Nathaniel asked, almost as if to himself, “It feels like every angel my age wants to grow up to be a scholar, or painter, or part of The Father’s Choir; they don’t even want to play battle for fun! They say it’s a waste of time when they could focus on more important things, like the harp,” he said half-rolling his eyes.

“Scholars, artists, and musicians always have a chance to prove their skill here in the Eternal Kingdoms of Heaven. However, it is only in the rarest of times when a battle-minded angel can step forward and prove himself in this area throughout our mostly peaceful history, which brings us to Archangel Michael’s third and final accomplishment. I have a feeling that you are going to enjoy this one; It is purely militaristic. Are you ready?”

The young angel's mood immediately shifted upward. “I was made ready by The Father, Seraph Raziel! Let’s do it!”

“For his third virtuous achievement, Archangel Michael led the Heavenly Host as the Supreme Commander against the Grigori, the army of rebel angels led by the wicked Lucifer in the War for Heaven, which ended with Archangel Michael slaying his fallen brother in combat, preventing the evil angel from usurping The Father’s Throne.”  

“This one’s the best!” said Nathaniel holding on to the edges of his chair and stomping his feet, “But I heard that Lucifer was like, really, really strong though. Didn’t he use dark magic to make him and his generals invincible? How could Archangel Michael beat something like that?”

“As you will see, young one, Archangel Michael too had a special magic of his own.” Raziel continued with the text.

“The Heavenly Host fought hard to defend the Heavens against the invading Grigori army but were unable to keep the wickedly powerful Lucifer and his six highest-ranking generals from advancing to the Seventh Kingdom. The only obstacle left standing in Lucifer’s way from reaching The Father’s Domain was Archangel Michael. Alone, he prevented the rebel leader and his six generals from breaching The Father’s Gates in the greatest battle the Heavens ever witnessed.

“Yet, the two sides had found themselves in a stalemate; Lucifer and the Grigori leaders could not best the might of Archangel Michael, and the Archangel himself was unable to break Lucifer’s dark magic to strike them down for good. Knowing that his power was no match for Archangel Michael, the dark angel merged with his generals to become the infernal seven-headed dragon.”

“Woah!” Nathaniel pointed to the full-page illustration of the beast. “Is that what it really looked like? Your illustrations are amazing Seraph Raziel! It’s so life-like; like it's going to jump out of the book and bite me!”

“There’s no need to be afraid, it’s just a moving image. It won’t breathe a horrendous fire, unlike the real thing. Feel free to run your fingertips on the rugged scales, you will find the somatic detail to be exceptional. Be careful of its teeth, though.” 

Nathaniel brushed the lively scales of the red infernal dragon. He reached for the prolonged sword-like pincers coming from the mouth of the crowned middle head, its flashing yellow eyes suddenly turning toward him. He instantly pulls his hand back. A little speck of angel blood from his fingertip falls onto the page. The white light of healing appears and closes the tiny wound as the bloodspot vanishes from the page, leaving no trace of harm or spill.

“The dragon proved too much for Archangel Michael,” Raziel went on, “who called upon The Father to bestow upon him the Holy Sword of the Heavenly Flame, using its immense divine power to cut through the seven hearts of the beast, separating Lucifer and his generals from their dragon form.

“However, the war was not over, for Lucifer and his dark generals lived still, surviving even the impact of the Holy Sword. Knowing that his essence was used to the brink by the sword’s divine power, Archangel Michael used the last of his remaining spirit to seal Lucifer and his generals away into the fiery pits below, his own essence dematerializing immediately after.

“Archangel Michael’s victory and sacrifice not only earned him the title as the Thrice-Greatest Protector of Heaven but also as its Legendary Hero and Savior, who will rise again at the End of Days when the seven-headed dragon returns to the Heavens once more in another attempt to conquer its kingdoms.”

“It’s gonna return?!” Nathaniel exclaimed with both shock and delight.

“Of course. Peace never lasts forever, even in this timeless place.”

“But Seraph Raziel, when an angel dematerializes their spirit goes away forever. What are we gonna do if the dragon comes back soon? How will Archangel Michael appear then?”

“Metaphors, young master,” Raziel clarified, “For every rebel Lucifer, there is an Archangel Michael who will rise to oppose him, and for every Archangel Michael, there will always be a wicked Lucifer waiting in the shadows for the right moment to challenge his defenses.”

“WOW!” Nathaniel was overwhelmed. At first, he was looking forward to only hearing stories about the thrall of battle, but along the way, he came to learn more about the history of the heavenly kingdoms, the effectiveness of diplomacy over warfare, and even the philosophies of eternal struggle.

“So, when will this ‘End of Days’ come? I heard that some high angels have the gift of vision, have they seen it? Do they know who’s gonna be the next Archangel Michael and rebel Lucifer?”

“No, Nathaniel, not even the Angels of Sight can see that far now; Only time will tell.”

“…Do you have the sight, Seraph Raziel?” the brazen young angel asked, almost sure of the answer.

Raziel chose his words thoughtfully. “I see bits and pieces here and there. It is my duty as Heaven’s historian to know certain things of course, from then, now, and what is to come. However...” He closes the tome. “That is a lesson for another time.”

“Ah!” Nathaniel jumps from his seat. “That's right - you were busy writing something when I came in! Well, I think I’ve had my fair share of stories for now. I think I’ll go try to find somebody who’ll wanna play ‘Archangel Michael and Rebel Lucifer’ with me. I won’t stop practicing until I’m strong enough to take on seven Grigori generals by myself like the Legend!”

Raziel rose from his seat. “Maintain this energy and enthusiasm in your thirst for battle and knowledge, and you may grow to become even more capable than you could imagine.”

The two bow to one another.

“Thanks for reading to me, Seraph Raziel. I really learned a lot of cool new things. I can’t wait to find out what you’ll choose next time!” Nathaniel waved farewell as he made his way to the library's exit. “Father’s blessings!”

“Until next time, young master,” replied the high angel, waving in return with his free talon-hand and holding the tome of the Archangel Michael to his chest with the other, “Father’s blessings upon you.”

The newly enlightened and motivated young angel takes off into the clouds. Raziel returns to his desk chair and retrieves the unfinished tome from its sealed drawer. The front cover reads in a script yet made, about events known only to Heaven’s Keeper of Secrets and his foresight: The Tales and Adventures of the Archangel Nathaniel – The Supreme Heavenly Commander and Divine Hero of the End of Days

April 22, 2022 17:25

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