Chapter 15

Realizations of Reality

Time passes and the seasons change. Spring turned to summer as the months rolled by. The days grew warmer and longer. The young animals that were born in the spring were beginning to grow up and explore the world around them. They young spring growth had matured into deep green summer plants. The spring blossoms were now gone and replaced by those that bloomed in the summer. It was a beautiful day today. The temperature was just right with a faint breeze that kept things from getting stuffy. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but the forest provided more than enough shade to keep things comfortably cool.

Azazel failed to notice any of this. He was lounging on a fallen log deep within his domain. Now what he considered his domain was defined by his teleporting range. In the east his border touched the edge of the Darkhölme estate, the distance of one 'port. In the other three directions he extended his borders to five miles, two and a half 'ports. Every bit of land that fit inside his square of territory he considered his property regardless of who legally owned it. No one else ever came here so he might as well use it. But he wasn't thinking about the legality of his domain.

By his reckoning today was the 16th of August. He'd kept track of the date after leaving the mansion by memory and making notches in a thick stick. So if he was right about the date, and he was sure that he was, today was his 19th birthday. On his 18th birthday he'd gone out to the lake with his friends and spent the whole day messing around. It had been fun and he'd been more than satisfied by the simple gifts that Wolfie and a few others had presented him with. But that was all over now; he wouldn't have any happy gathering like that to celebrate his 19th birthday. Today he would be alone.

With a heavy sigh he rolled off the log and began to wander aimlessly. If he and Mystique were still able to see each other he might get some special birthday sex, but still he had not seen the signal that it was safe to return. Night after night he would 'port to his waiting tree and wait for the signal to appear or some glimpse of her in a window, but he would always leave disappointed. In the beginning his hopes were high that they would be reunited again soon, but with each passing night his bright hopes began to slowly dim. Now there was barely an ember of his hope left. One more month of waiting and he knew it would be gone.

It was late afternoon and Azazel had nothing to do on his birthday. So he decided to do something incredibly stupid. He was going to pay Winzeldorf a little visit. For weeks he had wondered how close he could get without getting caught. Now he was in the mood to find out. He rushed up a tree trunk with speed and grace that put squirrels and monkeys to shame. At the top of the tree he paused to study the clear summer sky. He turned his focus in the direction of the backwards little town of Winzeldorf. Then he began the process of 'porting there two miles at a time.

When he arrived at his clearing where Anna regularly left him food he paused to clear his head, seven 'ports in a row tended to make him a bit dizzy and leave him with a headache. This was the main reason that he usually only made this trip twice a week. After five minutes of rest he darted up a tree and very slowly, very carefully made his way back towards town. The journey that would normally take him less than an hour to make now took him two and a half. And at the end of those two and a half hours he had only just reached the edge of the Church cemetery. This is where he stopped and went no further.

Just inside the edge of the forest there was a tombstone and a circle of people in mourning garb standing around it. They said nothing and didn't move; they simply stood there in silent prayer. Using all his skill and stealth Azazel tried to creep close enough through the trees to see whose headstone it was. From what he could tell the grave wasn't fresh, it was completely covered in thick green grass so it was at least several months old. Unfortunately he couldn't get into a position to read the name, too many people stood in his way. So he settled himself down to wait until they all left so that he could satisfy his morbid curiosity.

After a good five minutes or so, people began to leave. He recognized most of them as close friends of his parents. Then he spotted his parents themselves leaving the grave. Now he was dying to know who was buried here. He had no idea who could attract such a crowd of people that were close to his family. Soon there were only three people left, Father Drachen, Wolfie, and Heidi. They were clustered tightly around the tombstone so Azazel still couldn't see the name of the deceased. The long wait was starting to get on his nerves and his tail began to tap against the branch that he perched on.

Then Father Drachen gave a final silent blessing and departed. Heidi was next to leave. She placed a few flowers on the grave and hurried away fighting off tears. This highly intrigued Azazel. Who had died after he left that would affect her so? Now only Wolfie remained behind. According to his sharp senses of sight and hearing there was no one close enough except for Wolfie to care if he revealed his presence. And after a minute or two of debate that's what he decided to do. He dropped down from his branch and landed without a sound and moved as close as he dared to his former best friend. It was then that he realized that Wolfie was crying.

"Why?" Wolfie sobbed. "Why?"

"Why what?" Azazel asked curiously. Wolfie spun around to face him, revealing his tear-stained face.

"You bastard!" Wolfie choked out once he recognized who he faced. Azazel only cocked an eyebrow in response. "What are you doing here? You were banished!" Wolfie snarled.

"Just visiting." Azazel replied.

"You'd better leave before someone else sees you." Wolfie growled trying to fight back more sobs.

"No one but you has seen me and will see me." Azazel countered with cool confidence.

"Just shut up and go away." Wolfie cried and turned back to face the grave. He was overcome by his grief and he collapsed finally revealing the name on the tombstone to Azazel, and he finally understood.

"Stop crying Wolfgang." Azazel said softly.

"What should I? My best friend would've been 19 today if it wasn't for you!" Wolfie sobbed brokenly.

"Perhaps, perhaps not." Azazel whispered as he sank down next to the grief-stricken young German.

"What do you mean by that?" Wolfie whimpered.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, you wouldn't want to believe it." Azazel replied matter-of-factly.

"Well then tell me anyway! What do you care if I believe you or not?" Wolfie cried looking up at the demon he thought had killed his friend with hateful defiance.

"You believe him to be dead, yet there is no body in this grave, only a stone with a name carved into it. He has been declared dead, but have you seen the body with your own eyes? Has anyone ever told you what happened that night?" Azazel asked.

"No, I haven't seen the body; Father Hermann said that there wasn't anything left." Wolfie sniffled. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"What did the good Father say about what happened?" Azazel quietly demanded.

"He said that the demon corrupted his body and destroyed it." Wolfie whispered as he was overcome by another fit of sobs.

"Interesting." Azazel murmured to himself. "Well, I'll tell you my version of events and you can decide for yourself what is truth and what is not. I remember the exorcism, and I remember pain. I remember waking up far away and being clubbed by a rifle of a man I knew all my life. I remember being held in a cell and dragged before the whole town and branded a demonic fallen angel. I remember being cast out and left to die. I remember everything that your friend remembered and there are no gaps. That is my truth, now it is up to you to discover yours." Azazel whispered.

"What is it that you are suggesting?" Wolfie demanded in a voice raw from crying.

"I am not suggesting anything, only telling you what is the truth as I see and know it. Now please stop crying, would your friend wish to see you so sad on his account?" Azazel asked rhetorically. He rose up from the ground and began to walk away.

"Where are you going?" Wolfie asked as he struggled to get in control of his emotions.

"'Where am I going?' I thought you wanted me to leave." Azazel teased as he slowly began to climb up a nearby tree. He heard Wolfie gasp at his tree climbing skills and grinned a little.

"Will you ever visit again?" Wolfie inquired just before Azazel was about to teleport away.

"Ja," he replied after a moment. "I think that I shall visit on my two birthdays, but unless you call for me when I am near you won't see me." Azazel looked back down at his old friend. "Until then, auf wiedersehen Wolfie." Before Wolfie could respond Azazel vanished in a cloud of sulfurous smoke.

Azazel reappeared in his clearing and paused to get a grip on himself before continuing on home. Now he was committed to visiting that false grave site for two days out of the year. August 16th and October 10th were now days to keep track of. As he began the seven 'ports back to his cave he began to think. The summer would soon come to an end and fall would arrive. Fruit and berries would be plentiful then, but after that winter would arrive. He would have to prepare for that and he couldn't depend on Mystique's assistance. But when he made it home to his cave he didn't think about the future. All that he thought about was the one image remained fixed in his mind. A tombstone.

Felix Hausmann


Beloved son and friend.

The demon took him from us

far too soon.

He shall be greatly missed.