A sneak peek from Chapter 1 – A River Red of “The Song of Shattered Grace” – coming May 30th

How fair the light that shines on us?

​The voice was a distant echo on the air, lilting on the fragile wings of an evening breeze. It was dusk and beside her feet she spied the dark waters of a river rushing past. The sky above was a smattering of grey amid the dying embers of the departing sun, its orange wash painted in shattered streaks. Slow she stepped. Each footfall cautious. The river was wide and with a breath held close, she bent low and dipped her fingers in. How warm it is, she thought, and yet…

​She lifted her hand and at once her eyes went wide. The water ran between her fingers, in fine ribbons streaked across her skin. And yet the water was a color most appalling. The color not of water, but of red. Her breath caught fast and she stumbled back, only now discerning what was unknown to her at first. This water was a river red. A river red with blood. 

​“I know this isn’t real,” Lilith told herself as she turned her eyes in the direction from which the river flowed. “A dream, like all the ones before. But strange too. Stranger than the rest.”

​There were sounds ahead. Faint. Distant. Voices perhaps? She could not say for sure, but slowly she followed along the river’s course, headed in the direction from which those peculiar noises came. On she walked, careful of every step, a touch of unease flittering about her skin. She shivered at once and rubbed shaking fingers along her arms, a vain attempt to chase away the chill. And then she saw them.

​Angels. 

​There could be no other answer. She knew at once by the shimmer of their soul, which shone beneath the simplicity of the human form they wore. There were seven of them, in a line along the river’s edge and each Angel knelt upon the ground. Lilith opened her mouth to speak, the words formed on the edge of her tongue, but they died the moment she saw the truth. Each Angel kneeling on the ground, had their hands bound behind their back. 

​“How fair the light that shines on us.” The voice spoke again, cold and clear. “But you, children of Man, are not worthy of the light.” 

​Lilith’s eyes lifted and she saw that which towered over the Angels kneeling at the river’s edge. It was in the shape of a man, but taller and stronger than any man she knew. But there was no Heavenly light to give it shape. Its form was utter darkness, a living shadow which swallowed every light. Her skin was cold. Unease crawled along her arms and wormed its way inside. This shape was not unknown. This darkness formed in the likeness of a man. She knew its likeness and its name.

​“Lucifer,” she breathed softly, her heart beating out a wild rhythm in her chest. “Of course, it would be you.”

​He stood behind them, a writhing shadow given form, and in his hand, he held a knife, dull and worn with age. It was a knife she knew. A knife she had seen before. Amon carried that knife the night he tried to take Tatiana from the world. The knife he destroyed before my eyes. The Blade of Solomon. Tightness wrapped cold around her chest, an ache that settled deep and her slender arms trembled when she realized what she felt.

​Anger.  

​“Is this a vision or a dream?” Lilith asked aloud, “It could be either, or maybe both.” 

​“Both” answered a lovely voice inside her head. A voice that sounded nearly like her own. “You see what he did so long ago. To those he considered a blasphemy against his kind.” 

​Lucifer moved with graceful strides, the glowering light within his eyes fixed on every kneeling form. He moved slowly back and forth, passing by each one in turn. Lilith stood some small distance away, thankful that this was merely a dream and nothing more. 

​“You were not born of the stars as I. You have not seen the light of Heaven. But my father deigned to give you the gift of the divine all the same. To grant you the grace of the Angels,”—He stopped at one and looked with fury burning in his eyes—“and name you Grigori. The Watchers of mankind. Such afoolish thing to do!” 

​The Angel before him gave a shudder, as dark fingers tangled in his hair and the worn blade ran across his throat. Lucifer held his head firmly and tilted the dying Angel, so the blood fell hot and thick into the river. It mingled with the crimson flow, and with a callous shove the lifeless corpse was cast into the mire, his body swept along the current as it went. 

​He stood behind each one, offering little more than a passing glance, before the blade whispered against their skin. Lilith watched them die and heard each choking gasp as their life poured into the river below. In each Angelic face was a look she knew. Wide eyes and trembling lips, matching in perfect rhythm to each ragged breath. Fear. It was fear that smothered them in the final moments before their death. 

All but one. She knelt at the very end, the last one still alive. But there was no fear in her eyes. Even as she watched her own kind die, with their agonies a tumult in her head, she was calm and made no sound. How brave this one, Lilith thought, to face her death with only peace and sorrow in her eyes. But somehow, she knew that this sorrow, it was not for herself. Butfor him. 

“We come to it now.” Lucifer said, the delight purring in the timber of his voice. “The first of your kind and now the last. He named you, The Right Hand of God, did he not? Named you, graced you with divinity… and doomed you.” 

She answered his mocking with calm and poise, her voice scarcely above a whisper and yet, so clear and strong. “Every drop of blood spilled. Every corruption you weave into the world. You only doom yourself. Far off yet it may be, but it will find you in the end. That which you fear the most.” 

“I fear nothing!” 

“Oh, but you do.” Her eyes met his, and on her lovely face was the barest hint of a smile. “Though I can’t decide what it is you fear the most. Is it love… or death?”

Lucifer scoffed and dark laughter erupted in reply. “I have no use for either.”

“Perhaps love is what you fear the most. Have you loved… truly?” 

He did not answer. He merely stared. Lilith did not have to see the storm within his eyes to know what he was thinking. It was disbelief. As pure and clear as any emotion he had ever touched. 

How could anyone think a monster like this could love?

When he did not answer, the smile on the woman’s face spread a touch more. “Of course, you have not truly tasted love. But one day you will. One day the brightest star of all will be blinded by a love he cannot understand. And when that happens, my dear Lucifer, you will be undone.”

Published by Christopher Stanfield

Christopher Stanfield is a West Texas native whose love of writing began at the age of fourteen, inspired by a love of mythology, science fiction and fantasy. And though he’s spent the past twenty years in IT for a small bank, writing is the one passion that never quite let go.

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