They made him kneel.
Of everything that happened, that was the worst. How dare they? Didn't they know who he was?
Could have been.
Used to be.
But it had all gone wrong and he had reached too far and now, they were making him kneel before the ever-empty throne to –
Explain himself? Beg for forgiveness? Receive punishment?
"You made me this way." An accusation, spat at the King who wasn't there, who had always been everywhere but where He was most needed.
He knew; He had always known. What forgiveness could be sought, what punishment could be levelled, what explanation could be offered that was not all a part of His grand, ineffable plan?
"You disobeyed, Lucifer."
A seraphim stood over him, forcing his submission. A seraphim, binding the Morning Star, the brightest of them all!
It should have been laughable, but he had been brought low. The brightest star had burnt to embers and he had been chained and made to kneel.
The revolution, his glorious revolution, had been betrayed. Lucifer had been betrayed.
The Universe had betrayed him.
"How could I disobey?" he laughed. "How could anyone? I did as I was made to do."
"You sought the throne."
"I followed my desires."
Perhaps, to use that word, he had spent too long in the Creation. Angels should know nothing of desires. But why should they be denied the knowledge gifted to that favoured race of man, and, having discovered that even a star can yearn, why not seek to achieve what he had so craved?
"Why Create that which must be ignored? Should we not 'marvel in the whole of Creation'? Why, with all His power, why merely forbid what could be obliterated? Was it just to watch me fail?"
He laughed again, because, even brought low, Lucifer was still too proud to cry.
The guard shook his head.
"You should have done what is right."
"I did what it was my nature to do. I played my part. The Adversary." His mouth twisted at the name, knowing that the failure would be forever remembered but the star's light was already forgotten. "I was the darkness that brought contrast to his light. I was the one that lost so that he could win. I was what He desired me to be, and I will remain nothing more until He wishes my existence ended."
"You were the most favoured."
"No more. Not now He needs someone to be hated as much as He is loved."
"He loves you. He loves us all."
"He hurts us all!" Lucifer roared. "What crime could He not prevent? What wound could He not heal? What pain could He not end? He is worse than me, a thousand times worse, for I have harmed none, I have killed none, I have done nought but dare to dream of a world without His infinite failings!"
And none, Lucifer knew, had been failed more than him.
"Don't you love Him?"
Always and forever, brighter than the Morning Star.
"I will hate Him to my dying breath."
How could both be true?
There had been a time when the Lucifer's light had been serene and pure, as it was supposed to be. But he had looked upon Creation and it had taught him passion, and now he burned with a fire that could never be quelled, an inferno of pain and fury and ecstasy which immolated his senses, destroyed the very soul of what an angel should be.
And He could have stopped it. He could have made Lucifer right again.
But He had chosen not to, and Lucifer had looked into the fire, and he had seen a kind of brightness he had never known existed, and he had tried to hold it in his grasp. But even that had been burnt into nothingness and now, Lucifer knelt.
The seraphim sighed. "Why?"
Because once the spark had caught, what could he do but fan the flames?
But this seraphim would not understand, and Lucifer turned his face away.
"All I sought was acknowledgement."
There had been a time when Lucifer hadn't known how to lie.
For a moment, all was silent. Then the seraphim sighed again.
"You sought to revel in the flame."
A touch on his shoulder, so light as to be imagined.
"So be it."
Too late, Lucifer realised that the throne may be empty but the King walked where He wished. He struggled against his bonds, desperate to turn and catch a glimpse of that singular light which dared be both pure and strong –
But the throne room had already vanished, and he was left with nought but flame.