The conclusion to the 4-part "The Wolf Beneath the Tree." Lucifer, Michael and Elaine have pursued Fenris, god of destruction, to the roots of the world-tree to head off the end of all Creation - but their plans come to nothing when Fenris enlists one of them as an ally.
At the roots of Yggdrasil, Charlie Gilmour stands, sword thrust into his only remaining hand, thoughts race through his head as he stares upon the wife and son he thought were dead. Fenris whispers into his ear, to kill them, just as he had nearly done before, Charlie is confused and wonders why he must do this. Fenris explains that the slaughtering of kin is Fyrir Haft, "the first and worst of all crimes, the breach through which nature bleeds." The Wolf continues to coax Charlie, ordering him to slaughter his family, being sure to spray their blood upon the roots of the tree so that the end of creation will be assured.
The Trickster interrupts Fenris, alerting him to the presence of the angels they had seen earlier but The Wolf tells Abonsam he could already sense them, their sweat and their blood, for they had lost a lot of blood, the journey had taken its toll on them. So The Wolf turns from Yggdrasil, heading in the direction of the fallen angels, without looking back he speaks to Bet Jo'gie, ordering her to convince Charlie to slay his family, no matter what it means for her. He then calls Abonsam to come with him, for once, a long time ago, Abonsam had eaten the meats of The Wolf's table, drank his wines -the flesh and blood of Fenris- and Abonsam had done it, all of it, in preparation for this day. Bet Jo'gie than returns her attention to the one-armed Charlie, clasping his fingers around the hilt of the sword, as the two stand beside Sarah and Bobby, motionless as they rest in the roots of the tree, she speaks to him, "Come on, sweetheart. You've got work to do."
Not far from the tree Elaine is poised over a heavily injured Lucifer, turning him over onto his back, she begs him to wake up for she is no longer able to see and needs him to tell her what to do or for that matter if they have even arrived at Yggdrasil. Fenris and Abonsam approach, needing no disguises for Elaine could not see them anyway, Abonsam calls out to her, "Your friends are hurt. Can we do aught to help?" Elaine wonders at their identity, as would anyone and asks for their names. Abonsam deceitfully identifies himself and Fenris as pilgrims heading to Yggdrasil who go by the names of Sceorfan and the holy man, Berumir and it is then that Elaine confirms her blindness by telling the two she is unable to see them.
Abonsam and Fenris come closer until they are looking down on her and Lucifer from where they stand and once again The Trickster speaks describing the appearance of Lucifer to her and then telling her that the fountain just ahead has waters with healing properties. Elaine looks towards his voice and asks "Sceorfan" if he could please bring her some of the water for Lucifer could not die, he must reach the tree and so Abonsam says he'll go fetch it with his hands and as he and Fenris walk a little ways away from her, Elaine's begging for him to hurry follow them and Abonsam replies, "Doubt me not." With that the mighty Fenris slashes Abonsam's chest, opening several wounds with but a single swipe.
Elaine than speaks up again calling out Sceorfan's name, questioning him for the identity of the sound she just heard, the sound of Fenris ripping The Trickster's body open. Abonsam replies, his voice with less power behind it, weakened by the strike, "Nothing. It was -- nothing." Still weak he walks up to Elaine and tells her to cup her hands and receive the water he has. She does so and the blood from his chest pours into them, at first Elaine seems surprised as she notices the water feels warm, like -- but before she can identify the substance she is interrupted by "Sceorfan" who tells her to quickly drip into into his mouth, lest he die right then and there. She does so without anymore questions, letting the blood fall as Abonsam collapses and lays face down beside her and Fenris simply watches.
The blood spills onto Lucifer's chin, his throat, his lips, filling his mouth...and then, his eyes snap open, his body jerked to life. He begins to cough as he sits up, his eyes white, his wings outstretched, rage clearly seen upon his face, of course Elaine cannot see his face so she simply talks to him calmly telling him that she believes they are near the tree and that they only have to -- but once again she is cut off, but this time not by someone else speaking but by Lucifer's hand wrapping itself around her throat as pupils appear within his eyes and he stares into her face, blood and bruises all over his own.
Back at the tree, Bet Jo'gie continues to try and seduce the one-armed Charlie as he holds tightly to the sword, by asking him if he thinks her beautiful, if he wants her. A frightened Charlie tells her to back away from him or he swears that he shall kill her. She replies undaunted, a smile still planted upon her visage as she tells him that with the sword he holds, he just may be able to, but that is of no matter, what she tells him that he needs to do is breathe in. Breathe in and taste the heat, the love that she feels for him, for she is Bet Jo'gie Etta Hi Ee, the goddess both beautiful and terrible. Charlie begins to lose it and as he says to himself over and over, "Oh god. Oh god." She whispers into his ear..."Kill your wife and your son -- and their bodies will be the bed we couple on."
Charlie's thoughts than become the narration of the event, telling the tale in flashback form, of how once upon a time he was sick, really sick, sick enough to need medication, for he would get extremely confused, no longer knowing what was inside his head and what was out, and that feeling, that was the way he felt at that moment, holding the sword, as Bet used her charm upon him. Looking down upon his beautiful wife Sarah he loved her but taking a breath brought him more of her and he did stiffen with need, a lust. Playfully she smiles as she speaks, "Up to the hilt, Charlie. All the way in, smooth as silk. Won't that feel good? Won't that feel right?" A smile of pleasure widens upon his face as he gleefully shouts, "Oh yes! God yes!"
Back in the fields surrounding Yggdrasil Michael groggily awakes, eyes opening weakly as he mutters, "L -- Lucifer?" Getting to his hands and knees he speaks again as he sees his daughter, choking for breath while Lucifer's outstretched arm suspends her in the air and Michael speaks again, louder this time, "Brother?" Swiftly he clambers to his feet and rushes to get between the two, trying to push Elaine away from his brother, warning Lucifer to stay away from Elaine. But Lucifer's only reply is, "Morningstar? I am Fenris. I am The Wolf!" With that, the maddened Lucifer thrusts Elaine's head into the side of Michael's face, taking both of them out.
Abonsam is draped over Fenris, voice fading as he asks Fenris to speak of the tale of his death, of his final trick but Fenris has no pity, does not even look upon The Trickster. Rather he just speaks to the dying man, as if asking which trick he means, "What? That you joined the banquet of my enemies, when I parceled myself out like bread? That you took my essence into yourself -- not unknowing, as they did, but willingly. So that your blood, now pregnant with my thoughts, could infect Lord Lucifer?" Smiling the beast walks off, dropping Abonsam and leaving him behind as he finishes his speech, "I'll tell it if I remember it." Nearby Lucifer and Michael now fight, Michael holding back his brothers fists, apologizing for what is to come for his brother is not himself, and so, lying upon the ground, his wings flattened beneath his back, Michael raises his right hand and from it spews a white energy that begins to envelop Lucifer, taking its toll on him, causing him to cry out.
Back at the tree, Bet Jo'gie is entranced by the display as Michael releases his power at point-blank rage on his brother and exclaims at the beauty of the event. Charlie however continues muttering to himself, her back turned to him as he tries to tell himself that none of what is happening is real. Finally his expression hardens and he speaks, "...but just in case." And with those words he uses his left arm to thrust the giant sword through Bet's midsection so that it protrudes from her stomach, bathed in blood. Her eyes show the shock she feels, than a madness sweeps over Charlie as he violently begins tearing the goddess to shreds, until himself, the sword, the soil, the nearby roots of the tree and the dismembered pieces of her body are soaked in her blood.
Within a massive crater, Michael stands over Lucifer whose on his hands and knees, both of their wings are in tatters, what's left of their clothes torn, blood streaming over their bodies. Smoke rises around their bodies and although Michael is stronger, he makes one fatal error, he tries to reason with his brother, telling Lucifer that it is not he who acts. Michael tells Lucifer to fight it, to be himself, lest all their pain and effort be for naught and creation falls. But Lucifer, still possessed simply turns his head to the side, blood dripping from his mouth as he grins evilly at his brother, "Excellent." Than in a blur of speed he grabs his brother and Lucifer takes to the air, glowing with energy as he takes his brother higher into the heavens.
As they ascend Michael still pleads with his brother, "Morningstar -- brother -- I don't want to kill you --" but Lucifer simply scoffs at these words as he points out that with his broken wings, Michael's strength is failing. His own rant thus begins, "I am the furnace in which you will be unmade. I am your death." But Michael remains stubborn and responds by telling Lucifer that he will be the death of all, and that it will all be his own doing and his alone. Lucifer heeds not these words in his madness and a massive expulsion of energy erupts from within him, engulfing both sons of Yahweh, leaving them both to plummet to the ground, burning as they fall.
Michael and Lucifer crash through the upper branches of Yggdrasil, snapping them as they continue their descent, drawing the attention of the still shocked Charlie. Suddenly he is pulled out of this as he hears a voice call his name, asking him what is going on, he turns to see who is speaking and it is none other than his wife Sarah, holding their frightened son tight to her chest. Charlie does his best to calm her, telling her that it is only a dream, a bad dream they are all sharing...but this calm does not last as Fenris arrives saying that what Charlie says is the pity, for the bad dream they are having is that of their lives and when they wake it shall be to nothing.
Fenris continues his approach, the blade used to kill Bet held firmly in his hand as he gives his speech, his speech of how the trees roots have been giving the blood they need, for brother slaying brother is still Fyrir Haft, and the end of creation is still imminent. Charlie, ever the fool, stands in the way of The Wolf, telling him that he shall not harm Charlie's family. But Fenris has no care for the family any longer, they have become irrelevant, however seeing as Charlie is what brought Fenris to Yggdrasil, he is also what holds him there. But with a single swipe of the sword, Charlie is beheaded and Sarah in tears, but before The Wolf does depart he shares his little bit of wisdom with the wife of the slain. "Do not mourn him, woman. In this time of endings, he is merely gone a little way before."
A broken Lucifer stumbles over to the place where his brother lays in a pool of blood, at the base of the tree, his own leathery wings are naught but spines now, jutting from his back. Cleared of mind he weakly speaks his brother's name, but it is too late. Michael is dying, the fate of creation sealed, but the latter issue is not the current problem for Michael's death provides a problem in and of itself. And so he calls out to Elaine, asking her to come to him, the blinded Elaine follows the voice of her father until she is kneeling at his side.
She promises him that she will stay by his side till he dies if he would like but he cuts her off, for that is not why he called her. Within himself he holds a power, Yahweh's power, the Dunamis Demiurgos, and should he die, this power would be released, overwhelming all of creation and destroying it. Elaine argues that creation will be destroyed anyways, but Michael ensures her that that process will take days or even weeks but that he is dying NOW and she must act now. Seeing as she is the only other Demiurge, it is her duty to take the Dunamis Demiurgos from him. Lucifer interrupts by saying that Elaine is too weak, that she cannot do it and so draws Michael's attention to the Morningstar. He asks to exchange apologies with his brother, as he never thought it would have to come to this but Lucifer tells him, that Michael is not at fault, that he himself is to blame.
This being said, Michael than returns his attentions to his daughter, explaining to her that she must not only let his power flow into her, but she must contain it as well but in fear she tells him she knows not how to perform such a feat. Meanwhile not far from the blood-covered father speaking his last words to his daughter, Sarah holds Bobby in her arms and begs Lucifer to take them away from Yggdrasil but he tells her there is no need to do so at the moment, for if she waits a little longer, it may become meaningless anyway. Close by Michael and Elaine are becoming more panicked as Michael tells his daughter that should she survive she will find herself with a great many duties, though he believes in her ability to rise to them. But Elaine simply has last regrets on her mind and begins apologizing to her father, for not trying to talk to him, for not coming to him. Than it is that her father utters his last words, proving that he can acknowledge his own faults "It would have done no good. I was proud, and stubborn. I could have sought you out. I could have --" and so he dies, Elaine hovering him, a scream ripped from his throat as his nigh-uncontainable energy bursts forth from his body, engulfing Yggdrasil and all within its perimeter.
As for Charlie's fate, he found himself no longer within the world he was, for as he reached out for his family instead his grasped red-brown dust. A dust drier than any dust could ever be, kneeling in this dust, unclothed he wanted to exclaim that he was not finished, that he needed to ensure his family's safety, but it was not to be. Instead a demon appeared, speaking unto him that it is no longer a time for regrets, that now he is no longer one of the living. The demon delivers him the message his master ordered him to give to all of the Damned. "Welcome to your death -- and our army." With that the demon waves his arm as if to bring attention to the masses standing silently behind himself in the sands of Effrul.