“Do you see him out there? Look. Just beyond the fog; you can see his mighty spear”, A pale finger juts out from beneath bloodied bandages at a massive crimson spire swaying in the fog. Jonas has lost two fingers in the last skirmish. “He commands us from the front lines. See, even now he acts as our call to action. We must fight on!” Jonas lowers his hand and his eyes level on the muddy faces of his tribesmen. Their weary eyes look back to their leader, troubled and tired.
“I know you’re tired. I know much has been lost”, the pain of that loss is deep in Jonas’ eyes, “My son…” his voice trails and in that moment the tribe is united in mourning. “My son, did not give up. He fought until the very end.” Jonas clenches his remaining strong hand around his spear; a paltry mockery of the great Spear of Gadreel, the chipped red paint comes away in his palm.
The mud walls of their foxhole is loose with last nights rain and this morning’s blood; they’re no longer even or upright, sagging into the bottom, making their shelter less secure. But they know this war is almost over, so they squat there in the mud, waiting. There is only one question left to answer in the riddle of this conflict, and both sides hold that question on their lips this night.
Beyond the battlefield, in another hole dug out of another land, more men ponder the outcome of this battle. They make hushed prayers to their General, the magnificent Gadreel, Spear of Heaven.
“They will not strike tonight. No, we both buried our dead and lit the fires that light the way to Heaven. May Gadreel clear the way with his Spear” Rehenal says into his hands, trying to recognize them. Their red sashes, once prominently displayed, are tattered and hastily wrapped around wounds. The blood stains are barely visible in the dim candlelight they huddle around.
“I was a thatcher. I learned the trade in the camps of Ananiel; the drowned one. I would have been content to die a thatcher. Until, that is, Gadreel came to me in a dream and said I could be more.” Nods spread from man to man, each having had a similar experience. Rehenal presses his dirty hands to his eyes, as if he could blot out the horror he’s seen. When he removes them, his gaze moves toward the distant horizon. “He is out there. Sometimes you can see him striding out there on the battlefield. He is waiting for us. He comes to lead us.” Rehenal’s tribesmen shoulders sag further as they follow his gaze. “But Rehenal, it is death if we return the battlefield, the Angel Azazael came to us, to warn us!” a bandaged soldier pleads.
“No”, Rehenal rises, “It is duty and salvation that waits for us out there.” His soldiers eyes rest on him now. “Come we must prepare for what comes.”
Out in the fog Gadreel paces back and forth; his spear whistles as it slashes at the atmosphere. “Yes, there is already much blood here, and many souls passed. They will come… They will come with their swords drawn… spears ready.” Gadreel grips the shaft of his spear in the other hand while he traces his sigil in the air. “This ground is mine and it will open to receive my enemies fallen bodies. The Seraphim Host will not pass. I am battle, I am bloodied fists on flesh, I am the tide of War rising up to meet them as they descend…”
Gadreel cranes his neck and sees the remnants of battle from the Humans. “They pray to me with their broken spears and carry my sigil on their sash. I stand ready to do battle, because they bleed and believe…”