“You can’t do this!”
Tenebrael stared down at the angelic figure before her with a bright smile on her face.
Poor Iosefael. Tiny crystalline teardrops formed at the corners of her eyes. It really detracted from her defiant stare. With how much her arms trembled, Tenebrael doubted anyone would take her seriously. If she would just be a little more selfish and a little more confident, she might actually make something of herself.
For now, Tenebrael brushed her black fingernails over Iosefael’s golden armor.
The angel flew back from the touch, crashing into the wall of the sepulcher. A rain of dust fell and clung to the otherwise pristine golden armor while cobwebs tangled into her blond hair. One of the stone slabs bearing the name of the humans interred within the mausoleum came loose from the wall. It crashed to the ground with a resounding thud, cracking in two.
Iosefael let out a slight moan from the back of her throat as she saw the slab. Entirely unconcerned with having been thrown back across a room or the unkempt state of her appearance, she knelt and brushed the fingers of her single golden gauntlet over the slate. A mystic circle containing a diamond, a square, and a second circle appeared where she touched the stone for just a brief moment. The spiral of gold armor running from her gauntlet up to her elbow started glowing. In a flash of light, the stone was whole again. With all the reverence of a pallbearer, she used both hands to lift the stone and replace it in its slot.
Only then did she turn her glare back to Tenebrael. “Why are you here? You’re not even supposed to be on this world. Go back to your own!”
Tenebrael, who had been watching the angel’s nonsensical actions with her arms crossed over the stomach cutout of her dark dress, simply shrugged. “Nod just isn’t as exciting as the other worlds. I know too much about it. Every little thing that happens goes according to my designs.”
“Your designs? You’re supposed to guide your world with a gentle hand,” Iosefael said, smoothly moving her bare hand through the air. “People aren’t supposed to dance to your whims.” She punctuated her statement with a confident fist to her hips.
Tenebrael chuckled. She couldn’t help it. Iosefael could be so innocent at times. “And just what would you know about Dominions? You obviously don’t have one of your own,” she said, flaring her four wings behind her. Midnight black feathers drifted to the floor with all the serenity of a calm mountain creek. “Besides. My designs always align with the book. No matter how much I try to change events.”
The feathers of Iosefael’s two wings twitched as she drew them around her. Though obscured, her shoulders definitely slumped. It only lasted for a moment. With renewed vigor, the crossed pupils of her luminescent green eyes locked onto Tenebrael. “I don’t know why you’re being so mean, but I’ve got work to do. If you’ll excuse me, Tene.” She started to walk forward. The soles of her metal shoes only clicked against the marble floor twice before she froze.
Black concentric rings appeared before Tenebrael’s outstretched hand. They weren’t quite full rings. Two half-moons, one broken facing upward and the other downward, held between them a five-point star. Runes and insignias filled in the empty spaces as Tenebrael spoke.
“Principality Iosefael! By the power vested in me by… well, myself,” Tenebrael said, pausing a moment to stifle a laugh. “Target: Principality Iosefael. Base core restraint projection. Reinforcing composite materials. Reinforcement grade: Divine. Calculating anchor points. Reinforcing anchor points. Reinforcement grade: Divine. Target spatial coordinates locked; stochastic evasion routes calculated and nullified. Hereby and henceforth, I bind thee for a period lasting no longer and no less than twelve hours.”
Iron manacles clasped down around Iosefael’s arms and legs while a thick chain connected her to the wall of the sepulcher. Were they ordinary iron, a being of Iosefael’s power would have been able to escape instantaneously. Yet her struggles did nothing but clank the chains together. Even as her face turned red from exertion, she failed to break the divinely reinforced bindings.
“You—You can’t chain me!”
“I think you’ll find that I can.”
Iosefael struggled, testing again the strength of the impervious manacles. Another mystic circle appeared around her hand. The moment it touched the iron, it shattered into nothing more than confetti. “How?” she asked, no longer glaring. Her eyes held a touch a fear.
“I have my ways. Perhaps one day I’ll show you. For now, you’re bound. Twelve hours. Then you can go free. Consider this… a vacation. A day of rest. You don’t get many of those, do you?”
“I can’t rest!” Iosefael shouted. “There are people out there that need salvation.”
“Ah yes,” Tenebrael said as she sauntered up to the bound angel. Reaching back into the fluff of golden feathers, she withdrew a thin black book. One with a little golden ribbon marking a place. “Don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll take care of those you’re responsible for tonight.”
“T-Tene,” the angel said as Tenebrael started walking away. “You’re just leaving me here?”
“Twelve hours. Then you may come find me.” Reaching the doors to the sepulcher, Tenebrael turned around with a grin. “I’ll hand your book back without complaint.”
The poor angel didn’t get a chance to respond. Grasping both doors, Tenebrael pressed them together. Moonlight shrank into a thin sliver on the floor as the gap narrowed. Sliding shut, the doors cut off all light to the room.
With a grin, Tenebrael turned from the stone crypt and all but danced through the graveyard. She tossed the little black book up into the air, let it spin a few times, and caught it right as it was opening to the bookmarked page.
“Let’s see what we have here,” she said as her black fingernail traced down the list of names. “Hmm… Some old man. Blech. Pass. An teenage auto accident? Tempting.” But her finger passed it by. An entry a few lines down had her licking her lips in anticipation. “Ah. Two murders. Perfect.”
Author’s Note: Welcome to Vacant Throne. A few things to note as we set off: First of all, trying something a little different with the formatting. I liked the tabbed paragraph “traditional” style of Dead Language, so I’ll probably continue that here. It’s also easier to copy-paste this way. I started writing using Scrivener, which I like quite a lot, instead of good old fashioned Notepad which is effectively what the entirety of Void Domain was written in. Scrivener has a bunch of management things that make it easy to make notes in text, hopefully helping me to avoid forgetting about some things as I did with Void Domain an unfortunate amount of times.
You might have noticed the mysterious words at the top, “Prologue” and “Tenebrael”. You might not know this if you never clicked the Index page, but Void Domain actually had chapter titles as well. Although I didn’t really think of them as chapter titles. More like memory jogs. I found myself annoyed with Worm’s table of contents. If I wanted to reread a specific scene, I pretty much had to guess where it was and then scan through several chapters until I actually found the bit I wanted. Hence Void Domain’s chapter titles. For Vacant Throne, I’m testing out putting them into the chapter text itself. Let me know what, if anything, you think about that!
Secondly, yes, this chapter is fairly short. A lot of the first few chapters are less than 2k words. Sorry about that, but also not super sorry. That’s a big reason (among others) why this is going up here on the preview site instead of getting its own site. The chapters I am writing now tend to be longer, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to maintain the 3k minimum word limit per chapter if it doesn’t seem necessary.
Anyway, don’t want to double the chapter length in the Author’s Notes as I did with Dead Language, so I’ll end it here! Next chapter should be Monday the 7th of May!