Extra Story MISSION 2 - let the song reach
My vision filled with wreckage, as far as the eye could see. The vast amount of black smoke were the fumes from the lower rank demons that we had defeated just moments before. The four of us hadn’t fought side by side like this since the Great War. Having been worried for Gaku and Luka, who had been late in returning, I had gone down to the human world with my partner with the blue-green eyes, and from there, engaged in a large scale battle. After we’d eliminated the mass of demons using our full extent of holy power and had finished a basic survey of the battlefield, we were just about to return to Heaven.
“Huh…? That’s weird~”
“Hmm, I too, felt that something was strange.”
“Same goes for me…”
“…..Wait, then it’s the same for all of us?”
Since the battle had ended and up until this moment, strangely, not a single one of us were oblivious to this fact. I was sure that all of us had only made it appear as if we were casually using bold moves one after another in quick succession, while in reality, all of us had been struggling. The other possibility was that sense of rivalry felt between those of similar in power level had unconsciously gone beyond their limits. Regardless, all of us that were present no longer cared what had led to this. Thinking about such things wasn’t going to be help us move forward. Right, we couldn’t move forward——because the fact was, none of us could fly right now.
“Umm…. If we turn left on this street…..”
“Hold on a minute! I’m certain that we went down this street a while ago.”
“That weapon shop over there! There’s no mistake. A long time ago while I was on patrol, I accidently dropped the sheath of the blade I used two generations ago into the chimney of that shop….”
It was well into the night by now, about the time that humans would be enjoying their evening meal. Meanwhile, four archangels, myself included, were wandering a small town in the human world. However, we had, by no means, lost our way…… was what I wanted to believe.
“Honestly, why is it that the terrain of this world is so complex! We aren’t getting anywhere!”
“There’s no use complaining now, Luka. After all, right now, we’re…. lost. So it’s all the same no matter where we end up.”
“Hrmm…. ‘Even angels fall from apple trees.’ It is at this moment that those words left by our predecessors resonate deeply in my heart.”
Even ‘he,’ who was usually so cheerful, was now more weak-spirited and haggard than I had ever seen him before. To think that we had carefully used up all of our holy power in the battle with the demons, to the point that we had lost our strength to fly; it was such a foolish act, I never would have imagined it possible. And what was more, it would have been understandable if we were unable to return to Heaven due to being injured in battle, however, all of us were practically unscratched. How ironic was it that we, the archangels that stood at the top of Michael’s angels, had made the blunder of recklessly using up our power, something that even inexperienced angel students knew not to do?
I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that made me hate myself as much I did at that moment. In the first place, who could imagine the ridiculous sight of four angels sluggishly walking along as if crawling on the ground? Even in the images drawn by those overly imaginative humans, I’ve never once seen a depiction of lost angels walking merrily together side by side.
“Ah! I see a ship over there!”
If not mistaken, we were currently on a small island a short ways from the Alphine mainland. Surely, this ship was a ferry between here and the mainland. If we got on this ship, we were sure to be able to reach Rulen Island, the Alphine mainland. And from there, all that was left was to go to the Claude Cathedral located in the center of the mainland and recover enough holy power to fly back to Heaven.
Due to the fact that our forms were invisible to human eyes, we were able to board the ship without having to pay the fare. With a ship of this size, it was unlikely to sink due to the added weight of a mere four people. After a while, the steam whistle sounded, and the ship departed. While being exposed to the lake breeze, I gazed down at the pitch black lake below from the ship deck. As it were, none of us could fly right now. In our present state, what would happen if we were to fall from the ship….?
Perhaps due to exhaustion, weak thoughts that I would never consider normally filled my head. I suddenly heard Gaku moan in agony beside me. He seemed ill. Come to think of it, since boarding the ship, I had also been feeling something unpleasant, separate from my fatigue. Nearby, a human man was bent over the railing, facing the lake. Upon closer inspection, I saw vomit expelling from his mouth. I suddenly came to an understanding.
This must be the “seasickness phenomenon” that occurs among humans. This “ship” was a vehicle that swayed a great deal. It was only natural that humans, who usually spend their time treading the earth, would begin to lose their normal bodily functions after spending long periods of time aboard this unstable, swaying vehicle. Angels, too, are unused to being on a vehicle that travels by floating along water. All of us had already fallen victim to this seasickness. The continued violent swaying was making my stomach feel uneasy. How much longer would we have to endure this swaying to reach the island that was only an arm’s reach away if we had been able to fly?
“I would like to go home soon.….”
All of us silently agreed with the words that Gaku muttered and gazed up at the distant sky. Never was I more glad that angels couldn’t be seen by humans. If we were to have been seen in our exhausted, disgraceful state, no doubt it would be passed down to their successors as some strange tale.
We arrived at Rulen Island, the center of Alphine, just as the morning sun was about to rise. Worn out from an entire night of being rocked by the ship, we felt something akin to nostalgia upon setting foot on stable land again. Dragging along our exhausted bodies, we continued to walk slowly through the town; it was already past noon by the time we finally arrived at the Claude Cathedral. The sky was slowly beginning to cloud over and show signs of impending rain.
“Won’t be long now, huh?”
‘He’ said, wearily combing back his blue-green hair. These days, it was a huge city built by the hands of the humans, but originally, the land of Alphine had belonged to Heaven. The Claude Cathedral is only the first of several cathedrals remaining throughout the regions that hold the abundant life essence and holy energy inherited from when Alphine was once situated in Heaven. If we rested there, we were sure to recover more than enough of our holy power. We were nearly there; the final hurdle…. Climbing to the top of this long spiral staircase.
“Looking up at it from down here, it’s quite spectacular.”
“Rather a meaningless structure, these stairs are. I don’t recall them being here when it was a part of Heaven. I see no point in making them so long.”
“Hrmm…. I think I shall first use my sword as a walking stick….”
“….We’ve no choice but to treat it as training for our leg muscles.”
With expressions more melancholy than the color of the cloudy, overcast sky above, the four of us slowly began to climb the stairs. Meanwhile, numerous humans continued to overtake us from behind, and somehow, it felt damaging to our pride. Once we made it back to Heaven, it might be a good idea to suggest a physical training program as regimen for future battles with the demons. No matter how poor we were at all forms of walking, it was humiliating to be worse at it than humans. If they incorporated a walking regimen in the human world, such to accustom angel to getting around without use of their wings, even if one were to become lost and unable to return to Heaven, they would then have no trouble making their way to a cathedral. Thinking of such things, at last, we had climbed to the top of the stairs. After becoming lost on Minole Island and having experienced seasickness, it would seem that our bodies had hardened a good deal.
Passing through the main gates beyond the stairs, we opened the door of the cathedral. There was no one else inside, neither angel nor human. The power of holy energy slowly filled our bodies.
“This is supposed to be the place where holy energy is the strongest, but at this rate, we’ll probably have to stay here for a week before we recover enough.”
“An entire week?!”
“I’m worried about the state of the war.”
“And our subordinates, as well….”
In our hurry to rush to the battlefield, my partner and I hadn’t brought along any healing items. And neither had Luka and Gaku, it would seem. It was difficult to recover our power by normal means in the human world, which was lacking in holy energy. A single night’s of rest in Heaven’s living quarters would be enough to make a full recovery from this level of exhaustion, but in the human world, even staying at the strongest power spot required a week to recover. Unfortunately, there was no avoiding this fact.
However, as expected, it would be bad for four archangels to be away from the tides of the war for an entire week, with their whereabouts unknown. In the past month, battles had been breaking out across all the regions, and grew more violent with each passing day. We had to return as soon as possible, receive status reports from our subordinates who had remained in Heaven, and issue new orders. Although a week is not a terribly long period of time for angels, with the war situation changing every moment, our absence was likely to have an effect in the long run. And furthermore, for four archangels to be missing simultaneously would have an overall effect on Heaven’s movement.
“Alright! Let’s call for help!”
“What?! You’re joking! As if I could something so disgraceful.”
“Mm…. Certainly, it would be a bit rash to call for help.”
We all had different opinions. Should we put out a rescue request right away, or wait a week and return on our own?
“Well, I guess it would be pretty embarrassing to admit that all four of us got lost in the human world despite being archangels, and above all, had to be rescued because we wouldn’t fly home….. But do we really have to stay here for a week just because it’d be humiliating? Our subordinates are probably worried about us. And we have to help decide what’s our next move in the war.”
“That may be so, but don’t you care what happens to our dignity? The idea of four archangels putting out a rescue request….. If I were one of the subordinates, I’d be thoroughly disappointed.”
“Hrmm…. Quite the difficult decision. Naturally, I’m concerned about our subordinates as well, but surely, our dignity would be lost, and our pride shattered to pieces.”
We were having a hard time coming to an agreement. That was how difficult the situation was. As the leaders of Michael’s army, our subordinates, as well as the entirety of heaven, place immense trust in the archangels. If not, we would not be fit for even squad leaders. Michael’s archangels are the role models for all angels, so to speak, and must always be invincible and flawless. If it were to be known that we had struggled with small fry demons and gotten lost as well, our dignity would immediately Fall, the morale of the soldiers fighting in the battlefields would plummet; it would have an immediate effect on the war situation. This wasn’t simply about protecting ourselves.
“Even if we think of it that way, it isn’t getting us anywhere…. So, Luka and Gaku are absolutely against calling for help, huh….. Guess that can’t be helped. In that case, there’s only one way to settle it. With the method most suited for us angel leaders, who pride ourselves in serving God.”
Saying this, ‘he’ searched his pocket and took out a coin. On the front was an image of a pair of wings, and on the back, an apple. These coins are used in all transactions in Heaven, similar to the “currency” used in the human world. But unlike humans, it is a tool used them not only to determine the worth of physical things, but to measure the worth of things from all angles.
“Okay, here I go~! Which side?” 𝙛𝒓𝓮𝓮𝒘𝓮𝙗𝒏𝙤𝓿𝓮𝒍.𝓬𝙤𝙢
“Then I’ll go with tails. What about you, Kaito?”
“Guess that means you’re neutral? We’re just going to decide between the three of us then, alright? Go!”
Throwing the coin up high, it spun around in the air while reflecting the light from the stain glass windows, and then returned back down to his hand as if drawn to it.
It was tails. This was the answer that “God” had given them. This coin toss, which was naturally assumed to embody the will of God, which held superiority over the power of angels, was often used when there was a split in opinions. Of course, it’s used only in the event that a decision can’t be reached even after considerable effort and speculation.
“Now then, let’s call for help straight away.”
As my partner smiled and put the coin back in his pocket, he continued speaking casually as if he had expected this result from the very beginning. It was said that those angels who are loved by God are made allies of the natural course of things, to a frightening extent. If my memory serves correctly, I had never once seen him lose in a coin toss.
“Fine. Since it’s the will of God, I suppose we have no choice.”
“Speaking of which, how exactly are we supposed to call for help? I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the specifics.”
It was perfectly reasonable for Gaku not to know. Once one became an archangel, we experienced fighting in the front lines during the war, but becoming lost in the human world like this was nearly unheard of. Rather, most of our experiences were receiving reports of pleas for rescue and responding to them, and therefore, until now, none of us had ever imagined that we would be the ones who needed rescuing.
“Ahhh~ Now that you mention it, how are we supposed to to do it again? ….I wonder if it’s written in Michael’s Handbook… Umm, let’s see here~ ….. ‘New Laws of Heaven, Article 23, Section 11: In the event that an angel is in distress in the human world, they are to request help from their brethren by offering up a holy song to Heaven. For those that hear this rescue request, they are to have someone of upper rank or higher accompany them and go to their rescue as quickly as possible.’ ….Is what it says. So basically, all we have to do is sing a song?”
“A song….? I’ve never had to actually sing a song before.”
“Neither have I…. When did they begin using this kind of system, I wonder? I don’t remember having this in our younger days.”
“A song, hm? Are you to say that a song is enough to save Heaven? Foolishness.”
“….No, I think it’s us that are going to be saved.”
Never once in my long lifespan have I ever learned how to sing. To begin with, the soldiers enlisted to Michael’s army have no use for songs. It was my first time hearing of song being used as a distress signal; surely, it was some kind of new trial run that had been recently implemented. Naturally, having already been serving as officers for so long, we had not been educated on such things.
“Looks like we’re in a bind. Truth is, I don’t know all that much about singing either…. For now, how about we just start singing something? Anything should work. It’ll be enough if our voices can reach Heaven, after all.”
“You have a point.”
Coming to an agreement, we each began to sing on our own. We were all inexperienced in singing, but that was of no importance. All we had to do was desperately try and convey this miserable situation with our voices. With bodies that were too powerless to even fly in the human world, casting away our pride as archangels, all we had to do was sing. What mattered was that we express our exhaustion, and the various sentimental emotions that had gathered in our chests.
We each sang freely for nearly three hours, but there was absolutely no reaction from the sky. What was the meaning of this….? The distance from Heaven to this earth was such that it could easily be covered within an hour. Was it because our voices hadn’t been loud enough because of our voices being unaccustomed to singing?
Next, we each tried singing even more intensely. We sang as if thrusting out the entirety of our feelings of exhaustion and fatigue from the depths of our bodies. However, no matter how much time passed, help did not arrive.
After waiting a while longer, we discussed what our songs were lacking, and this time, we tried to sing in sync by uniting our hearts as one, since it was possible that our four scattered voices were cancelling each other’s out. Although the plan was to sing “in sync,” because of our lack of technique and knowledge of singing, we ignored the complicated things such as pitch and rhythm. We focused simply on how to express the emotions that we currently felt in our hearts—anger, displeasure, exhaustion, humiliation, irritation, annoyance—as best as we could. Since it was a hymn, the lyrics were supposed to be a plea for help and a prayer to God, but because it didn’t match our emotions, this proved to be another difficulty. However, it was probably not a bad thing that our humiliation would further amplify the expression of emotions in our song. Once we started singing, I do believe it came out being expressed in a rather fine manner. As we became accustomed to it, at intervals we began snapping our fingers, whistling, and stomping our feet. Surprisingly, singing was quite fun—although none of us said it out loud, we were likely all thinking the same thing. And so, we became absorbed in the song and continued to sing. Day and night, we continued to sing, performing various variations and arrangements. Three days passed like this in the blink of an eye, and then a week, by which time we had fully recovered our strength, and without needing to depend on anyone else, we returned to Heaven. Although it was strange that help never arrived, we decided that it was all the better that we had been able to maintain our pride by returning on our own.
When the four of us returned to heaven, our subordinates were waiting for us at the gate, but they seemed worried as they greeted us. All of them had on expressions of fear and seemed terribly worried about us.
We immediately asked for a status report of the war situation and were told that, without a way of countering against the most frightening of assaults that the demons had launched since the creation of Heaven, many had been patiently enduring on the battlefield. It was then that the Great Archangel had determined the possibility that the Devil himself had joined the battle, and issued an emergency alert to all of Heaven. Once receiving this order, Michael’s angels fought bravely at the grueling battlefields and overwhelmed the demon forces in all regions. We had expected that our absence would cause morale to drop, but it was incredible that there had instead been a breakthrough. We briefly praised our subordinates who had gone to the battlefields and breathed sighs of relief.
And when we asked what kind of frightening assaults they had been up against in our absence, all of them spoke of the exact same thing.
“For this past week, a most frightening singing voice, as if creeping up from the below the earth, was heard coming from the human world, non stop. It must have been the marching song of the demon soldiers, although some believe it was some new form of attack on the spirit…. In the most terrifying voices that we have ever heard, they were begging for praise and help from God. As we were certain that it was those spiteful demons, they were most likely attempting to catch us off guard and to lure us out by feigning surrender! The pitch, rhythm, and everything about the song was truly chaotic and wretched-sounding; it was full of malice, clearly for the purpose of destroying us from the inside by targeting the minds of pure and righteous angels. Ahh, truly, it was a horrible singing voice, as if it embodied all the negative emotions to be found in the world. Most fittingly, we have dubbed it the Hymn of Hell.”