Author: Kepouros PM
This is a sporadically-updated yet growing series of shorts starring the angels of Supernatural, with maybe some Winchester shorts thrown in for good measure. CH. 10: CASTIEL'S GRACE GETS STOLEN.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Adventure - Castiel - Chapters: 10 - Words: 6,282 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 21 - Updated: 05-23-13 - Published: 12-10-10 - id: 6545054
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There resides in the lowest of dimensions, in the most awful of realities, a plane of existence that only angels, demons, and damned souls come to. Rare is the creature to come. Even rarer, the creature to leave. Those souls which streak across its starless, sunless, moonless, smoke- and despair-filled crimson stratosphere see a barren wasteland with a massive mountain at its center. It is the last thing they see before pitching into this moutain's mouth, and into darkness never-ending.
The realm is devoid of anything truly alive, littered with skeletons of playthings tossed aside, and the occasional scavenger demon's footprint as they pick over the scraps of cartilage on the carcasses and dream of being let near the racks of tortured souls, where they may feast on fresh blood and flesh.
Castiel walked across this blazing hot wasteland with purpose, untouched by the elements, leaving his own footprints upon the damned world. His wings were out, attracting soot and dust from the air, inking the sky with his feathers. His blue eyes blazed with holy fire. His skin, or what rendition of it was manifest in this, literally, God-forsaken place, was crackling with his Grace and with the most ancient and sacred battle preparedness.
He clenched his angel blade in his hand, and felt its thrum of power. He reveled in the security it gave him as his palm molded to the handle's engravings, even though he and his brothers were about to lay siege to Hell itself.
To his right and left, his brothers walked with him. Armored in their plates and mail and carrying identical blades, Castiel's garrison was ready for this battle. He could see it in the clench of their jaws, the surety of their steps, the glint in their eyes.
At the base of the mountains Castiel reflected on how easy it was to get into Hell. The residents, or at least those wielding the razors and white-hot prods, had no qualm with anyone who wanted to enter their black, bleak abyss. They didn't mind even the hundreds of angels coming to pay a visit, such as the ones converging now on the evil, gigantic crag sticking like a finger from the wastes. What those angels wanted to take however, was a different story.
The angels crested the mountain, and those in the first ranks looked down into the steaming, baking, cess pool of a volcano that was Hell. The screams of souls suspended in eternal torment reached their ears, shaking the younger beings' determination. Castiel wondered which of those screams belonged to the Righteous Man, Dean Winchester, whom they sought to free. They had to get to him before he could be tricked into breaking the first of the 66 seals binding Lucifer, or the mission would be in vain.
Across the smoking pit, Castiel could see other garrisons perched on the nose of the volcano: five total, all that Heaven could spare for this mission despite its importance. The generals of each of them, including Castiel, raised their glinting blades, identifying themselves both to the angels they led and the howling, shrieking mass of demons they were about to engage in the Pit below.
Time was rapidly growing thin, taut as a Fate's thread and frayed with hunger for battle. Castiel felt the brush of Graces behind him: their zeal, their bloodthirst, their desire to complete the mission, and their ache to kill as many demons as crossed their paths.
The lot had been drawn, and it was Castiel's privilege to call them to battle. So he tightened his grip on his blade, splayed his wings, and roared his battle cry.
All around the crater, the cry was echoed. Hundreds of angels shouted and dove, down, down, deep into the Pit.
Castiel led his garrison, crashing through the chains that suspended the souls in the upper tier like they were string. With strong beats of his wings, he stirred the acrid and sulfurous air in the huge shaft. The combined billowing of the wings of so many angels brought to life much ash and dust to blear their vision. It wasn't enough to dissuade the clashing of blades, though, or obscure the flashing death throes of demons burned out of existence with holy fire.
Still, Castiel dropped, allowing his brothers to cross swords with the demons. Letting his wings spill the air just enough to slow his descent, he looked into each soul's face as he went, ignoring their screams and pleas. Castiel was looking for him, the Righteous Man, and him only. The others had decided their own fate.
Down, down, past the sinister aquarium-like bubbles of molten lava imbedded in the sides of the shaft, in which swam the hideous husks of maimed souls.
Down, down, past the coal pits, where the tenders of the flames piled the glowing rocks high on souls trapped in their depths. Those demons ran at him, intent on rending him limb from limb, but Castiel pitched his voice high and melted them in mid-step.
Down, down, through endless stories and levels of tortures horribly creative and disgusting, which Castiel blocked from his mind. He was getting closer: there was a small opening in the floor of the volcano, and he angled his wings towards it. Beneath the floor housed the worst tortures...and his mission's focus.
Down, down, though that relatively narrow hole in the floor, where the ugliest of demons practiced their tortures and the most pitiable souls were flayed of every last bit of humanity strung out on the racks. When they rose from the racks, they would be demons, too.
Castiel landed with enough force to crater the ground, and cause the racks nearest him to bend away. The demons at this level were stunned at his entrance, and the angel grasped this opportunity to arrange his wings for a fight, and raise his blade. With a moment to spare, Castiel cast his senses about beyond what he could see, seeking. There. In the cavern against the far wall, the faint pulsing signature of the soul he'd come for. He'd know it anywhere, for he'd memorized its taste.
Cutting down any demon who opposed him, Castiel made a path into the cavern, to last rack in the farthest row. There, hanging naked and limp, was Dean Winchester. Or what was left of him.
"You are too late," said a voice. Alistair stepped from behind the rack, unarmed, smirking. "We got what we wanted. The seal is broken."
Castiel's face melted into fury. He lashed at the demon, but Alistair laughed, turned to smoke, and disappeared into the cracks of the volcano's wall.
A few more angels, having disposed of their opponents, drop to Castiel's side. "Stay here," he orders them. "Keep watch, and defend me as I raise him."
They nod, their blades and feet arranged in fighting stances, and turn their backs.
Castiel sheaths his blade and steps up to the rack. The floor around it is soak with blood, slippery even to him. "Dean Winchester," he says, rousing the soul.
The Righteous Man jerks at Castiel's first touch, and yells with a hoarse and well-used voice when the angel accidentally brushes his wounds. Castiel tries not to dwell on the wounds. Suffice it to say, the soul of Dean Winchester was threads away from being completely and utterly snuffed out. Limbs barely hung, bereft of all but the largest nerves and blood vessels like horrific classroom models. Skin strained to hold together. Almost a quarter of his bones were visible, bared to the harsh rack's metal. Blood soaked every inch of him, the rack, and the surrounding floor. With decisive fingers and quick movements, Castiel tried to grip the pins that clamped the metal cuffs over Dean Winchester's wrists, but he could not get a hold of them.
The soul would probably just fall to pieces in its present condition, Castiel realizes. He has to put it back together first.
He reaches for his Grace, spreads it out like a blanket between his hands, and lays it on Dean Winchester, rack and all. It seeps into the soul, sinks into it, its purpose making it glow along the myriad wounds and lace them shut, shove bones back into skin, wipe away bruises like soot. Castiel knows what this soul's body has to look like, too, and reconstructs it as easily as he would his own: every freckle, hair, and cell in under a second of necessary, merciful agony.
The soul arched at the sudden, pitiless healing, voice stuck at a pitch that shakes the cavern, but soon collapsed whole and complete to the rack.
Hearing the fighting sounds from above coming closer, Castiel summoned his blade and hastily clanged the cuffs off of Dean Winchester's ankles and wrists. The soul was limp, and the angel caught it by the upper arm, branding the still-pliable new flesh with his power-hot hand. The Righteous Man does not feel it, unconscious from the massive healing, but the scar will stay.
"Let's go," Castiel ground out to the angels guarding him.
They walked back to the mouth of the cavern, hardly opposed, and with hard downstrokes began to ascend.
Then the problems started.
Demons had amassed topside of the hole in the floor that the angels darted from, and set about to kill them. Castiel was burdened with the weight of another being, and was struggling to wield his blade and keep up with his escort at the same time. He tried to yell at them to slow down, but they were tasting the relatively cleaner air of the wastes and trying to keep from being skewered on the way up. They did not hear him over the din of thousands of demons scrounging for a piece of him.
The demons' arrows and javelins and spears bounced off of Castiel's armor, testing its metal. The angel wasn't terribly worried about those blows: it was keeping the soul of Dean Winchester from getting perforated that concerned him most. In a moment he'd erected an impenetrable field around the Righteous Man, but that moment of distraction cost him. A demon managed to graze his cheek with a ball of flame, and Castiel shouted and threw his blade into the creature's heart. He summoned it back, and continued his ascent, bringing powerful wings up and down, up and down, a metronome, a heartbeat of freedom to come.
Funny, how the volcano seemed more shallow when he was falling through it. His wings were growing tired. An angel, tired! Castiel would have laughed at the absurdity if he wasn't fighting for his very life, and that of the scrap of a soul he carried.
But Castiel did not come from an angelic line of quitters. He dug deep, and surged higher and higher, outstripping the demons' thrown weapons, their telekinetic powers, their horrid insults. He closed his eyes and gave it everything he had.
Castiel could smell the change in air as he rose. The scents of burning flesh and despondency were fading. And then, suddenly, they were gone.
Castiel breached the lip of the crater and flared his tired wings to stop his momentum. His garrison waited for him edgily, and roared with excitement when they saw him carrying their prize.
They didn't know that they were too late, that the mission was in vain.
But Castiel tried not to dwell on that. Instead, he looked down at the soul he'd reconstructed and couldn't help but smile. "Welcome back, Dean Winchester," he said. With a movement like he was caressing the air before him, Castiel opened time and space and fed the soul of Dean Winchester through it. As he sent the soul flying back to its fleshly home like a shooting star, Castiel allowed himself time to wonder, What will this hunter do with his second chance?