(My brother just told the whole world how much he hates me. And instead of giving him my 2640-word worth of demons, I release them here.)
In a land where the sun rises not, where the moon never leaves the sky, there lived the ones whom we simply refuse to believe.
Not that they prefer it any other way.
They have ceased to call themselves angels for they could no longer find their way back where they used to call home. Nor were they demons for they have never pledged loyalty to the fallen prince.
For naming’s sake, let’s call them In-Betweens.
In that sunless world there lies an inn, a public house whose bar these folks often frequent. And here small groups would gather every seventh moon to exchange the sort they consider priceless, but what humans no longer hold as objects of value.
This is tradition.
This is fact.
“Another mug of moonbeam, please, Leirum”, muttered a small figure covered in a cloak the same hue as the shadows. He was a lone figure in the bar…yet.
“As you wish dear Leug”, replied the bar maiden, a figure with such beauty even Aphrodite could envy, and she has; still does. She gave the small cloaked figure what we call an innocent smile before she vanished.
The inn does not boast of any exquisite structure but of wooden stools and rounded tables, a large and comforting fireplace that has not yet ceased to give the inn life for as long as anyone could remember; and of course, the bar. Behind it is a place where knowledge lies only on the beautiful Leirum and mortal guests who could no longer give us their own accounts.
“Here’s your freshly harvested cold mug of moonbeam, eh, just the way you like it!”
“Ah, thanks, Leirum.”
“So, what interesting business have you lately got yourself into, Leugarahp? And don’t tell me nothing much again or you’re not coming back to this inn.” And she laughed to let the other one know she doesn’t mean it.
“It really is nothing much, Lei, just a minor role in preventing a planet-wide revolution in Uruk-Patel. Those green people really are a riotous bunch.”
“Wouldn’t you be if you live in a planet as miserable?”
“Touché. They were a noble race but they wouldn’t last long now. Pretty soon, you would have to meet them. At least they’ve been able to make interesting memories to last a lifetime.”
She then busied herself with wiping her ivory mugs for the upcoming guests, a task she was fully obliged. “Tell me, Leug, have you been there when their first planet-wide revolution started?”
“With the Uruks? Played a major role back then, I say. Why, it was a mistake I never intend to do again! You wouldn’t believe thinking beings would be able to be responsible for such gore.”
“Hm, just as I suspected. You do have your smell in it.”
“Oh well. It won’t be long now ‘til those people die. Their second moon has just exploded, their life source greatly diminishing. The two queens, both formidable as you well know, have not yet reached a compromise. The people are getting restless and before we knew it they would start killing each other. You have my word in it. It would be so much gore, they like it that way. But they won’t know what they’ve done until it’s too late. They won’t be able to replace their losses now. The two queens only lay about a thousand eggs every moonrise. Not all of them would even be able to survive. Dying, that’s what they are, I tell you.”
“They wouldn’t be alone, in that case.”
The voice came from the newcomer they haven’t noticed. As he rose from the farthest stool in the shadows, he pulled down his hood to different welcomes from the two figures in the bar.
“I’m glad you made it, Lesaran.”
“You just don’t change do you, giant?”
Lesaran laughed as he joined them in the bar, giving Leugarahp a patting in the back which send the little one scurrying on the floor, “Just as likely to change as you’re likely to grow, midget.”
All three laughed. Even the fire joined to welcome the cheerful new guest.
“What would you have this time, Les? And no, I still don’t have any whiskey. I simply refuse to befoul my bar with a drink as inferior as that.”
“Pfft, you and your standards. Just give me whatever this midget’s having then. Make it a full bottle this time.”
“Lovely. Now don’t you go telling any tales ‘til I come back, you.”
Lesaran just smirked and turned to Leugarahp who, from his fall, was still shifting uncomfortably in his seat, but not with any contempt to the pusher, as was their way.
“Is it true Uruk-Patel’s dying?”
“True as we are, brother.”
“You really think I know?”
They sat in silence as Leirum came back with a bottle of newly harvested moonbeam and a plate of what looked like peanuts but were really dried Human Wishes, a favorite delicacy of Lesaran.
“Here’s your drink and some munchers for you both. Where have you been for so long, Les? I’ve missed you. Everyone missed you.”
“Been to a couple of worlds, but mostly to my favorite spot. You know the place, you two.”
“You mean they’re the dying breed?” asked Leugarahp.
“Everyone always seems to be dying, but only some really do. Sometimes I wish I could.”
Leirum broke it by asking, “So where have you been then except Earth?”
Lesaran was about to answer, but just then the doors opened. Two people entered – one a young man in his early twenties, the other a middle-aged woman in a smart-looking business suit, both looking terribly confused why they end up in such a place.
“Hello! This is the Angels’ Inn. Do you wish a room for the night?” came the sweet and inviting voice of Leirum, with a spark in her eyes different from which before the new guests arrive.
“Is this what you call this place? Rather gloomy to be an inn for angels, but it will do. Yes, I’d just like a room for the night, please.” answered the middle-aged woman as she crossed towards the bar, and sat beside Lesaran.
“You dress awfully old-fashioned in here, don’t you? Do we have a party or something? Lord knows I’m up for a party. It’s been dry, work-filled days all week! Even God needed a breather, didn’t he?”
“Oh yes, he did”, answered a smirking, bemused Lesaran.
The young man just remained standing in the center of the room and muttered in a small voice, “Um, I’d like a room, too, if you please.” He sat in one of the stools surrounding a nearby table.
Leirum answered, “Very well, then, two rooms for the new guests. I should go and prepare your rooms, but not before you two warm up and have your drinks. Now I suggest Hope’s Dregs for this awfully cold night, what do you say?”
“I normally don’t drink anything with dregs in them. Is that any good?” the woman asked Lesaran.
“Very – it warms you up from within and leaves you a quite contented feeling. You should try it.” he said with the most charming of smiles to the woman beside him, who blushed before she said to the bar maiden, “Fine. One Hope’s Dregs for me then.”
“Lovely. How about you, young man?”
The young man appears to be slightly surprised to be addressed and just nodded.
“All right, two dregs of hope coming up. Oh I could feel this would be one of them good nights…”
The woman turned to Lesaran and Leugarahp, who still had his cloak half-covering his face.
“What are you folks drinking?”
“Just the old-fashioned moonbeam, same as here Leug’s having.” said Lesaran.
“Moonbeam? Weird names, these drinks. But what do you expect from a bar named Angels’ Inn?” then she gave a laugh everyone knows to have no real trace of mirth.
“All kinds of things, madam, all kinds of things,” replied Leugarahp, who chose that moment to pull down his hood.
The woman wasn’t able to utter a reply, and the man in one of the tables made a small gasp as they looked at what the hood has hidden until now. It was a face as old as time itself, and in it you could never really see true traces of beauty, especially if you have the human eye.
“Hey, what’s the silence about? I thought my bar was known to be the source of all tales? But then again I guess everything just has to change, don’t they?” said Leirum, still with a smile as she served the woman and the young man their drinks.
“Not really, sister. You know that too well.” was the reply from Lesaran.
Leirum looked at his brother for a moment before going back to the counter.
“I think the silence was brought about by the usual reaction from the sight of me. Thank goodness there was no blood shed this time”, said Leugarahp, whose voice echoed a truth to his words.
“Oh, you’re always a welcome sight to me Leug”, said Leirum.
The woman, too uncomfortable and embarrassed with the conversation, said, “So you three know each other well?”
“We’ve known each other a long time now. But you, why, we’ve only seen you now. How did you come to our place? Do tell us”, said Leirum, with a manner that even the most stone-hearted man could not say no to.
“Now, this is most peculiar. I can only remember coming home from work, getting ready to change my clothes to go out to some bar, you know. The next thing I know, I’m out in the cold, standing outside your door with that young man over there”, she lowered her voice before saying, “He really is in bad shape, that lad. He looks as if every little noise frightens him. Thank this awfully delicious drink I’ve found better company.” finishing the statement with another sip from her mug.
“Interesting story. Don’t you think you’re just in a dream?” asked Leugarahp.
“A dream? My life’s been mostly a dream, you see. No real meaning. I won’t be surprised if this is another one.”
“Oy, you fellow! Care to join us here? It’s rather lonely down there in your spot, I say. At least here you can have close view of my sister. Isn’t she a sight?” said Lesaran with a laugh joined by the others except Leirum, who tried to look annoyed without success.
The young man, who thought he really has no choice on the matter, just as he always thought about all things his entire life, stood up and joined the rest on the bar.
“Don’t mind him. He really is a joker, my brother.” said Leirum, as the young man approached with a nervous smile.
“It’s okay. This is some drink, by the way. Never tasted anything as good before.”
Leugarahp, who was sitting beside the young man, nudged him, “You won’t find a better drink anywhere in your world, lad. Even the finest wines you’ve got down there couldn’t compare to the water we have in this inn.”
“Once a humbug, always a humbug”, muttered Lesaran so that only Leirum and the woman could hear.
Leugarahp, who was now in a talkative mood after his second mug of moonbeam, asked the boy, “So what’s your story then?”
“I mean how’d you end up here?”
“Oh…well, I was just in my room, you know, thinking of, of a lot of things. Life. Then I had this really weird thought, see. I never really intended to do it. I can’t remember now if I did. The next thing I know, I’m standing outside your door. She’s right by the way”, he looked to the woman beside Lesaran before saying, “I really was frightened. It’s so weird, you see?”
“Hmm. A lot of weird things happen to us in the course of existence, young man. Remember that. But tell me, would you rather have these weird things currently happening, or your plain, monotonous, uneventful life that you so wished to end back in that lonely room of yours?” said Leugarahp.
“How did you…? It doesn’t matter. You’re right anyway.”
Silence, once again broken by Leirum.
“Now, now, gentlemen. Our guests must really be tired from a long, long day. I think it would be right to send them now to their rooms. Why, I’ve made them as comfortable as only an Angel’s Inn room could be.”
“Really tempting, that one. Oh well, I guess I’m getting old. I do feel tired now you said it. I’m afraid I have to say good night to you, gentlemen.” said the woman in the business suit.
“Good night to you, madam. May you sleep in peace.” replied Lesaran with the smile that made the woman felt certain it would be a good night’s rest indeed.
“How about you, young man?” asked Leirum.
“I think I should also go. I’m sorry, but I do feel really exhausted.” And he really looked as if he is.
Then Leugarahp said to him, “That’s fine, lad. You shall have your rest now. Good night.”
And with that, the beautiful Leirum escorted the two human guests to their bedrooms; rooms from which no other soul have yet seen, rooms from which their bodies will never see another light of day.
When she came back to the bar, her brothers were still there.
“You’ve brought them here, you know.” she said.
“But unknowingly. Unwillingly.”
“That’s how it must work, brother.”
“I think we should call it a night.” It was Lesaran’s voice who broke it this time.
“Yes, I think so, too. I have to get back to Uruk-Patel. They need me now more than always.” said Leugarahp, to no one’s dissent and to Leirum’s full agreement as she looked at her brother with a smile.
Lesaran said, “And I must be getting on. I like Earth, but there are still worlds I have yet to be friends with. I think I should go to one of them.”
“You really should, brother”, said Leirum, also in full agreement with her brother’s choice.
Each of the men kissed her on one cheek before they put on their cloaks and went out to the night.
Then Leirum closed the Inn’s doors, never locking it for she well knows anyone might turn up needing rooms or just a drink at any time here in their land.
She sat in front of the fire for a few minutes, the kind of minutes highly different from man’s world. She contemplates how the Uruks’ fate lies in the mercy of her brother Pharaguel, the Angel of Destruction. And how her brother Narasel’s unquenchable taste for all the things the worlds have to offer would influence more people’s ends, he being the Angel of Desire. She reflects on all of these, among other things such as the ends of all the worlds and the event that would follow, before walking behind the bar, waiting in the shadows to serve another In-Between, or to prepare rooms to dying beings.
For such is her duty, the fallen beauty Muriel, otherwise known to her siblings as the Angel of Death.