“It is time.  I will wait no longer.”

He circled around slowly like a wolf stalking his prey.  Power emanated from his eyes, reaching out like a dark mist to choke and destroy.  His eyes were locked in sync with the eyes of Gabriel.  Their swords were drawn, neither giving quarter, but the truth lurked in the corners of Gabriel’s mind.  He could not win.  Lucifer was too strong.

The last days had been a whirlwind of treachery and battle.  Already a third of the angels had gone over.  Now Lucifer had chosen Gabriel as his next victim.  To convert him or destroy him. 

And Heaven was silent. 

That was the greatest mystery of all.  As if the Almighty had something more important to do, something impossible to create, a new beginning to introduce into existence. Gabriel had heard the rumors.  There was to be a new creation.  Sun, moon and stars.  But the greatest whispering among the heavenly hosts had to do with the Children of Dust.  What wondrous news was this?  But here, now, this felt like an ending not a beginning.  He didn’t know what to do.

A low, guttural wheeze came from Lucifer as he regained his breath.  “I gave you a choice.  I did not give you an eternity to make it,” he said.  “But then again, you always were weak.”  His taunts bothered Gabriel not at all.  He only needed an opening.

Gabriel lowered his sword just a bit and let Lucifer circle more to his side, drawing the attack.  But even then, he barely avoided the edge of Lucifer’s sword as he attacked from his blind side.  Gabriel parried, jumping out of reach and then back in close with an attack of his own.  The ringing of steel as their swords met echoed throughout the heavens but they were alone, no crowds to cheer them on, a desperate and lonely battle that Gabriel was now sure he would lose.

But not before he drew blood. 

His sword flashed in low to cut Lucifer’s feet out from under him, but his brother was already in the air and slashing down at Gabriel’s exposed neck.  Gabriel fell forward rolling and flipping his feet over his head to land, crouched and ready for the next attack.

Lucifer was more powerful than any other, for his position in the heavenly realms was second only to the Almighty himself.  He was the Keeper of the Glory of the Throne of God and in that was his downfall.  He wanted the glory for himself.  That seed of desire had grown into the treachery of rebellion and heaven found itself at war. 

Gabriel could not win and Lucifer knew it.  The swordplay itself was part of the deeper battle within.  Gabriel had a decision to make, a side to take.  The battle provided the pressure to decide without thinking, to act based on doubt and fear, or just self-preservation.  The silence of heaven did not help matters.  There was nowhere to turn for help.  It was his decision to make, and his alone. 

But even in the sweat of battle, Gabriel knew that there was no decision to make.  There was no choice.  That, too, was part of Lucifer’s deception.  He promised freedom.  He promised power.  Neither was of any interest to Gabriel. 

He gritted his teeth and charged back into danger.  He wanted to get in close and do some damage before he met his end.  His sword flashed and with lightning speed he thrust and parried with such energy and power that Lucifer was taken by surprise and gave way.  Gabriel would not let up and was after him in a moment. 

Lucifer’s eyes narrowed, anger and impatience flashing from under dark brows. He seemed to grow even more menacing, as if he had been holding back, and bore down on Gabriel without mercy.  With a sudden thrust and slash of his dark sword, Lucifer cut Gabriel to the quick and his sword arm was useless.  Gabriel backed up quickly, one hand over his wound, his sword dragging.  Lucifer smiled and began to circle once again, still wary of some last attempt by Gabriel. 

Gabriel was ready.  There was nothing left to do.  His soul cried out into the void of heaven, seeking his Father but there was nothing.  For a moment, the black darkness of despair swept over him.  It engulfed him and left him cold and unfeeling.  There was no point.  Why was he fighting so hard?  Nobody cared.  He was alone.  Heaven was silent.  There was nothing left for him to fight for.  There was no point in being destroyed because of his loyalty.  Why should he suffer because heaven would not fight?  He was utterly and entirely alone. 

“No-o-o.”  The cry exploded from his throat with the force of his anguish.  “No.  I will not turn.”  He stood up straighter and looked Lucifer in the eye.  Alone or not, abandoned or not, his heart belonged to his Father.  He would be destroyed before he would turn.

Lucifer’s gaze was intent, penetrating, curious. 

Why didn’t Lucifer attack?  A glimmer of hope began to crowd out the despair.  Something else was going on.  Gabriel was sure of it.  Again his heart cried out, but again, there was nothing.  Nothing……except a still, small voice in the depths of his soul.  He stilled his breathing so as to hear better, but the voice made no sense. 

“Your trumpet plays best without a sword in your hand,” the voice whispered.

Gabriel did not understand but he knew that voice.  He dropped his sword and reached over his shoulder to take his trumpet.  He winced as the wound in his arm reminded him of his peril.

Lucifer looked at him bemused.  “There is no one to call.  Your trumpet will do you no good.  You are alone, no one will come.”

“Then you won’t mind if I play one last song, will you?”  Gabriel said quietly.  The idea had come to him that instant.  He didn’t know what he would play, but the desire to play his trumpet and sing for his Father, the Majesty upon the Throne, was strong within him. 

“Close your eyes.” The voice came to him clearer now.  “Pay him no mind.”

 Gabriel obeyed, closed his eyes and waited for Lucifer to attack.  After a moment he slowed his breathing, took a deep breath, and straightened his back.

“Play what is in your heart,” the voice said.  “Find the song you were created to sing.”

Gabriel raised the trumpet but hesitated, and then stopped.  The pain in his arm seemed to intensify, his strength failing him.  He could hardly lift the trumpet to his lips.  His breathing became shallow; his eyes were still closed, his heart squeezing with dread as he felt a presence close behind him.  Then he shivered as the icy breath of Lucifer came upon his neck and he heard him whispering softly, with unholy insistence in his ear.

He tore his mind away; keeping his eyes tightly closed and put the trumpet to his lips once again.   He could not think, he could hardly catch his breath much less come up with a song, but he could obey.

“Breath deeply and relax,” the voice said.  “We will begin together.”  The sound of heavenly music filled the air around them and Lucifer’s whispers receded and his cold presence no longer dominated the back of Gabriel’s neck and mind. 

Gabriel took his trumpet and breathed out a sound, a beginning, a seeking out of the deepest desires of his heart.  His trumpet rose stronger with yearning and then dropped to a whisper of longing.  And he began his song.

 

Lord, I worship you.

I glorify your holy name

The sun and moon and stars

Your wonders, I proclaim.

 

This was the desire of his heart.  To worship the Majesty.  That was enough.  It was more than enough.

 

Lord, I worship you.

You alone are worthy, Lord.

King of all the earth.

Lord I worship you.

 

His heart filled with a wondrous joy.  It was so natural, so much a part of him that his song took flight by itself.

 

To your Majesty, I will ever lift my voice

And in you I will rejoice for all you’ve done for me.

To your Majesty, I’ll lift up holy hands.

In your presence I will stand through all eternity.

 

And in that moment, he was in the presence of his Father, in the throne room of the Almighty, filled with the light of his Glory.  Gabriel’s eyes were open now and his trumpet took on a life of its own and filled the throne room with its beautiful sound. 

Then he sang again, his heart swelling with a strange emotion.  And the seraphim sang softly with him.

 

To your Majesty, I will ever lift my voice

And in you I will rejoice for all you’ve done for me.

To your Majesty, I’ll lift up holy hands.

In your presence I will stand through all eternity.

 

And again, his trumpet filled the halls of heaven with sound, quieter now, as the seraphim sang the heart of his song one last time. 

 

Lord, I worship you.

 

Gabriel took a deep breath, content and aglow with a strange feeling.  The voice within came and filled his mind with wonder, describing what he was feeling, this new sensation, this new glory.  Love.  He looked toward the throne, a question in his eyes, and the Majesty smiled and said, “It is so.”  But the name of it in the heavenly tongue can not be described other than to say that the seraphim began to weep whenever they heard it spoken. 

After a long pause, Gabriel spoke.

“And what of Lucifer?”  He looked around for the dark shadow that had hounded him for so long.

“He has been cast down,” said the Majesty. 

“Is it over, then?”

“No.” The Majesty spoke again.  “It has only just begun.”

“How will it all end?”

There was no answer, only silence.  Gabriel had the distinct impression that the Majesty had put certain plans in motion but it was not the time to speak of them.  Gabriel was at peace.  All was as it should be.  He glanced down at his wound which had been completely healed.  He picked up his sword which was still lying at his feet, sheathed it and stood up. 

The Majesty motioned for him to stand on the right side of the throne.  He saw Michael, his younger brother, on the left side, his wings spread out.  Gabriel took his place and spread out his wings as well, almost touching the wings of Michael, creating a canopy behind the Majestic King of Heaven, and now of Earth as well.

It will end as it has begun, Gabriel decided, with the Majesty upon the throne and the power of Lucifer broken.  How, and when, and at what cost was another matter altogether.

 

*****

The Temptations of the Cross by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers.  All rights reserved.
http://www.desertwarrior.net    info@desertwarrior.net
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.

To Your Majesty by Phil Driscoll.  All rights reserved by the author/songwriter.