"The Wolf Beneath the Tree," part 3 of 4. Elaine, Michael and Lucifer embark on a dangerous quest to save an entire creation...or possibly two. But the journey entails horrific sacrifices as they make their way toward the tree at the roots of the worlds. And they know that Fenris the wolf will be waiting for them.
The story opens with Elaine telling the angels what had occurred earlier with her and her father after they left Destiny's garden, for it is vital to what is now going on. So she recites the events as if reliving them...
After they left the garden the two of them flew at high speeds, her chasing him, calling his name but him ignoring her pleas and keeping on his way until eventually she caught up, just on the outskirts of the Silver City. Finally as he alighted upon the open balcony of a single-roomed tower he turned to look his daughter in the eyes, and she understood. He had figured out a way to save creation, perhaps preserve it for a little longer, but he tells her to leave and without another word enters the room at the top of the tower.
Elaine stubbornly follows her father into the tower to argue but it is futile, she finds herself bombarded with a voice, a single voice, repeated millions of times over, filling her, in a way that she describes as terrible. Uriel explains to her that this place is called The Logos and it is where the Word of God lives. He than asks her to continue her story but she admits she does not fully understand what happened afterward. All she knows is that he lay in the middle of the room on the floor, like a small child and seemingly went to sleep, spilling out his power, so that he might become one with the universe and save it.
But now that is over, now Elaine is explaining this all to Uriel and The Host, but they still do not understand, don't understand what it is that Michael is doing. Uriel however quiets them and explains that he does understand, that if you look at every atom you can see Michael working, he is the Demiurge and is renewing God's name on every atom of creation, sacrificing himself to save it but suddenly Lucifer Morningstar alights upon the window and interrupts saying, "Call it what you will, Uriel. The wolf is at the door. And it's not going to work."
Elsewhere, in a dream, or at least what he thinks is a dream, Charlie Gilmour is brought to Fenris the Wolf by Abonsam and Bet Jo'gie. He describes the feeling as when he comes off his meds, when he gets that sharp feeling and can no longer tell what is fake and what is real, where nothing makes sense but everything means something. Now, alone with Fenris, the Wolf speaks to Charlie of the meat he has just devoured and then tells Charlie that he can be more than mad, more than man and gives him a piece of the flesh he himself had just ingested. Charlie confesses that it does not taste like meat but clove oil, but just for a moment, after that moment his mind becomes even further damaged as the meat causes Charlie to believe himself to be The Wolf! Fenris explains all to Charlie than, that he gave his flesh at a banquet, to keep it safe from himself, until he should return for in the Dawning his power stood supreme, and so shall it again in the Twilight.
Walking fast-paced along the streets of the Silver City, Uriel tries his best to discourage Lucifer from what he is about to do. For what Michael is doing is trying to save creation, to stop him would be ludicrous. But Lucifer doesn't listen, telling him that even though Michael's attempt might have worked with normal circumstances, Fenris is headed to Yggdrasil so all bets are off. With that said he flies up to The Logos and shouts to his brother to awake but Michael does not stir. So Lucifer mutters, "Then we'll do this another way."
Exiting The Logos he now stands on the platform at the top of the tower just outside the entrance of the room, their Uriel and Elaine now stand and Uriel asks Lucifer why he should care when this is Heaven's business. But Lucifer explains that Yggdrasil is one of the beginning places and although he was prepared to sit out on the destruction of Yahweh's universe (something that surprises Elaine and causes her to try and interrupt), what The Wolf is doing might shake his own universe as well, and he cannot have that.
So, placing his hands on the sides of the tower he tells Uriel and Elaine to fly away, and they do as the entire tower is suddenly consumed by holy fire, reduced to crumbling shards. And emerging from it all, in the clearing smoke is Michael, rage clear on his face as he speaks, "Speak quickly, Lucifer. Or I call this Host to witness -- you will not speak again."
Now in what looks like a room of a rundown hovel, Abonsam slices the flesh of his face in straight lines, a pattern, letting the blood flow and causing Bet Jo'gie to ask him, "why?" At first he seems not to understand what she is asking about, but than she elaborates that she is meant, "why the scars?" This brings on the conversation that defines exactly what each of them are. Abonsam tells her that he is The Trickster, and soon he shall die, but in death he will perform his final trick so now he cuts himself as a mockery of that coming death, as he will enter it, already dressed in his own blood. Bet replies, whether because she was turned on by this explanation or just because its who she is, "Let's fuck."
In another room of the abandoned shack, Fenris is teaching Charlie, using him for what The Wolf needs. Showing Charlie a vision of sorts depicting the World Tree, he tells him that it is Yggdrasil and that earlier Abonsam had placed images of it in Gilmour's mind. Now Fenris asks Charlie if he knows how to get there, though never addressing him by name but rather calling him a madman and a murderer. Charlie says "No." and Fenris is all too happy to explain it to him, telling Charlie that the only way to get there is to lose yourself, and that a madman should know how to do that best of all.
He describes the journey as a subtraction, that going on the journey you will lose things, perhaps body parts, or memories, but when its over you won't even know what you've lost. However, The Wolf does not intend to lose anything on his journey to Yggdrasil for he intends that Charlie Gilmour should be his chariot. Charlie than asks why he was chosen, and why he is expected to do this for Fenris to which The Wolf replies that a man diseased as Charlie is would find such a feat as this easy, and besides, getting them there means he gets to see his wife and child, a reward for a little pain.
Elsewhere, in Svartalfheim, the winged bodies of angels can be seen filling the heavens, but from their masses, Lucifer, Michael and Elaine descend as one, upon the edge of a cliff face. Lucifer calls out to Uriel, ordering him to establish a guard so that no one will disturb Yahweh's Children. Michael still doesn't seem trusting of his brother when he asks, "If the journey isn't a physical one, than why come here?" To which Lucifer responds that the tree expects to be approached from "this direction" meaning it should make things easier, however, there is no real easy way of doing this that Lucifer knows of.
Now in the decaying remains of someone's former dwelling place, all is calm as Fenris, Abonsam and Bet gather around a confused Charlie. He closes his eyes just as The Wolf tells him to and lets their whispers fill his mind. One by one they advise him in what he must do, telling him that to want to go to Yggdrasil is enough and to make him yearn to go to the World Tree Bet whispers with the voice of his wife, asking him to come to her. Finally The Trickster tells him that to get there he must break apart his mind and soul and cast it away from himself.
In that moment, Charlie's strain is heard from his throat as he does his best to concentrate, than slowly he opens his eyes and the pieces of the house have began to fall away creating a white oblivion around the four. The Wolf sounds triumphant but The Trickster is not so gleeful saying that they have only been shown the road, not yet the destination. Yet Charlie's concentration is unbroken and he continues to focus on the face of his wife, Sarah, as it both guides him and tears him apart!
Charlie feels a sensation as his memories seem to pour out in abundant quantities, but he keeps walking forward, tearing holes in himself. As he does so, he notices three angels follow him, one bleeds power, the other will, and still the other merely weeps, or at least some fluid seems to flow from her eyes. Yet still he continues until he sees them no longer. Numerous memories flow through his mind, from playing poker, to making love to his wife, to playing with his son, to listening to music, to being told that he's sick, but all of it is washed away as he continues to walk through the white oblivion.
Now Charlie stands at the roots of Yggdrasil, less his right arm, as shrouding mists begin to dissolve, revealing the forms of Fenris, Abonsam and Bet behind him. Fenris tells the mad man he did well, and gives him time to relax until his assistance is further required but Charlie begins babbling frantically. Asking where they are, the ones that were promised to him, he cannot remember their names but he wants the promise fulfilled.
Abonsam begins to remove a bag from his shoulders telling Charlie that everything he was promised is in the bag, that everything he was promised was true. Charlie continues to panic, saying that he was promised they'd be waiting for him but Fenris assures him he was merely promised he could see them again, that Charlie is getting what was due him. The madman than seems to be forgotten as the three deities begin a new conversation, one about Michael and Lucifer as Abonsam seems concerned about their arrival. Bet tells a dirty joke, as expected but Fenris tells Abonsam not to worry because they will be too weak from taking the journey without a chariot, and if that is not the case...there is always the trick the two of them agreed upon.
So ends their side conversation and Abonsam begins pulling two bodies from his bag, proclaiming his own talents as he does so, telling Charlie that it was The Trickster who took them and replaced them with clay dolls that believed they were alive. Charlie's true madness is proved in his response when he asks, "Who do I love them so much? Who are they?"
The Wolf explains, explains to Charlie that they are his wife and his son and that he had tried to kill them, but Abonsam saved them. Charlie begins thanking the Trickster but Fenris tells him there is no need, for he has helped them as well, making the scales almost even...there's just one more favor Fenris requires of the madman.
Not far from the tree, above an open field, three bodies plummet down through the skies, two of them winged, but they are not flying, they are falling. The smallest of the three, the one without wings makes a sound as she crashes into the hard earth. She begins crawling on her hands and knees calling out for Lucifer, saying that he must guide her, for she cannot see. But we can see, see that Elaine is blind, and behind her, Michael and Lucifer bloodied bodies lay motionless.