HP9 Chapter 26: Four Angels of the Seven Stars

Somewhere in the realm of Laruatos was an entire landscape, its reaches spanning the high skies themselves. It was a land where all manner of angels, both young and old, went about their lives. They knew it as the Heavenly Sanctuary.

The way these angels carried about was remarkably similar to human conduct; children frolicked about with friends, women dried their laundry on balconies, and the elderly propped themselves up on canes as they went for strolls. If one were to ignore the clouds that made up the surface of the ground they walked upon, then it would be a fairly average spectacle.

A lone castle stood in the dead center of the Heavenly Sanctuary, towering above all as if to display its might and authority. This castle, the very castle engulfed by pure white, was known by another name: The Luminous Fort of the Seven Stars. Within one of its rooms, four of the Seven Angels of the Stars had gathered, each seated at a round table.

One of them rocked his chair back and forth in seeming tedium, his hands clasped behind his head. His features implied some deal of delinquency. Another had the appearance of a young girl and was preoccupied with munching on some sort of candy. One of them appeared to be a young boy, his hands forming fists that he had placed on his lap in what seemed like a nervous fit. The last appeared as a grown woman, her arms crossed and her expression far more diligent than the rest.

“Oh, for – we could wait all day, and they won’t come. Not Ieg, not Khiel, and not Uriel. What’re they loafin’ around for?”

The delinquent was the first to speak. He sounded fairly irritated.

“Ieg should still be preoccupied with his mission. He has yet to destroy the Mad Demon Hand Mirror. Khiel, I assume, is working part-time on the surface.”

The female angel – the mature one – had been the one to answer.

“Keh. Still not gonna do anythin’ that might turn heads, huh? Well? What about Uriel?”

“Uriel is… Well, we’ll speak of him soon enough.”

“Huh? Wait, does this have anythin’ to do with this emergency meeting?”

“…It does, in fact.”

“Sheesh, can you stop beatin’ around the bush, Ceal? I’m gettin’ tired a’ waitin’.”

The angel – Ceal, as had been revealed – gave a small sigh.

“Good point. I fear that we four alone must converse on this matter. Micha, would you show some restraint? Abstain from your treats for a moment. Raphae. You too must listen closely.”

Obliging Ceal in her request, the female angel – Micha – stopped stuffing her face while the other one, Raphae, raised his head.

“Gabri spoke truly. The reason you have been called here is, indeed, Uriel himself.”

“Kuku… Well, knowin’ him… What, did he break his toe on a dresser? Is he in the hospital or somethin’?”

“Gabri, keep silent.”

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“Sure, whatever.”

The response had been awfully free from worry. Once she had allowed everyone a moment of silence, Ceal finally opened her mouth again. Her face was grave as she spoke.

“…Uriel has been killed.”

Micha’s shoulders twitched upon the reveal, and Raphae’s eyes went wide. Gabri, on the other hand, clutched his sides and broke out into peals of laughter.

“Hahahaaaah! So that moron actually kicked the bucket?! What a laugh!”

“Gabri, you wretch! Why would you laugh?! One of our brethren, one of the Seven Angels of the Stars has perished!”

“Oh, right. Sorry ‘bout that… kuku…”

Gabri attempted to rein in his laughter. Meanwhile, Raphae rose from his seat.

“Is it true… Did Uriel-san really die?!”

“He did. We have had countless accounts from lower angels, all of them direct witnesses. There is no room for doubt.”

“That can’t be… Uriel-san’s dead…?!”

Raphae looked as if he could barely wrap his head around the fact, even as he slumped back into his chair.

“So? Who’s the guy that killed him?”

“…The one who stands above all demons. The man who rules them. It was the High King.”

Gabri met her further revelation with a bold grin.

“Oh, I see how it is. I heard rumors about his revival, y’know. Guess they weren’t wrong. Well, there really isn’t anyone out there who can kill one of us apart from him.”

“The reports state that Uriel invaded the High King’s castle on his own and that the tables were turned on him in the process. Surely, he severely undermined the High King’s power…”

“Ahahahaaah! So what, he just decided to barge in and not tell us about it?! Yep, I’d say that’s a fittin’ end for the guy. A shameful one!”

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“I told you to hold your tongue, Gabri!”

“Oh, boy. I’m shakin’ in my boots.”

Ceal clenched her fists, her frustration evident from her expression alone.

“Uriel’s conduct may have been simple foolishness. That much I understand. But we cannot allow his sacrifice to have been in vain! We must defeat the High King!”

“Well, I can’t say I care about Uriel. But that doesn’t mean we can just forget about the High King, huh? Didn’t he want to destroy humanity or somethin’ like that?”

“He does. Protecting humanity is one of our duties as Seven Angels of the Stars. They can hardly fend for themselves. We have a duty to strike before the High King invades human territory.”

“B-But how do we do that?! If he has the power to defeat someone like Uriel-san, then even we should have trouble…!”

Raphae’s voice came out as a quivering mess.

“Keh. Never grew a backbone, did ya? Still, we can’t just follow Uriel’s moronic example. We can’t just charge in on a whim. Ya got a plan, Ceal?”

The angel in question crossed her arms and closed her eyes. Once some time had passed, she spoke calmly.

“…We should begin by capturing some of his forces. We must predict their movement.”

“Hahaahaaah! Wow, totally haven’t heard that old plan like a million times! Imma be honest though; I don’t think capturin’ one lil’ demon’s gonna help us stop the High King from invading!”

“I am well aware.”

Ceal pulled a paper out of her breast pocket, its surface filled out by etchings of a rather specific demon’s face. She placed it on the table.

“Ohoh! Gotta admit, that’s one damn fine woman. What, did you go out lookin’ for someone I can meet up with? For a marriage interview, maybe?”

“Gabri. I ask that you speak no further.”

“Well, that’s just cold. Still, think it’s better than not sayin’ anything like Micha over here.”

At some point in time unknown to the others, Micha had resumed gorging herself on sweets.

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“So, I’m not supposed to meet her for a marriage interview. Who is she then?”

“This is the High King’s most intimate associate. Her name is Anri.”

She was right. The sketch on the paper showed none other.

“Whoa there! You tellin’ me that the High King’s got chicks this cute around?! He’s probably doin’ all kinds a’ stuff to her all the damn time! Well, color me jealous!”

“…There is little doubt in my mind that, should we capture her, the High King’s forces will suffer a great loss of power. As his closest associate, she may even be privy to some of his weaknesses. The more we extract during her torture, the better.”

“Kuku. Look, not that I care… But stuff like capture and torture? Really doesn’t sound like somethin’ angels should be doin’.”

“I must admit, the thought irks me. But we face the High King. We have not the leisure to choose our methods. Does anyone object?”

Micha gave an absent-minded nod as she continued her assault on sweets. Raphae looked as if he were on the verge of saying something, but refused to open his mouth.

“Micha. Have you even been listening to a word I said? You have done nothing but eat.”

“…I was listening.”

Micha finally broke her own silence.

“I couldn’t care less about the High King. There’s only one reason I even became one of the Seven Stars. Big sister has to die.”

“…Goodness me, Micha. You never change.”

While Ceal sighed, Gabri reached out to the paper with Anri’s face, held it between his fingers and let it flutter about a little.

“So? Who’s gonna be the one to hunt lil’ Anri here down?”

“As long as we remain unaware of her skill, it would be most unwise for one of us to make a move. Those lower angels who belong to the infiltration forces will take care of it for now.”

“Oh come on, that’s just boring. Did Uriel dyin’ turn you into some kinda wimp?”

“…About a thousand of them should suffice. Countless sacrifices may be made, but there is little else we can do. We shall carry this plan out in three days’ time.”

“Hey. Finally ignorin’ me, Ceal? Look, I don’t care who captures her. But do you think you can leave the torture to me?”

“…Do what you must.”

Ceal sounded utterly disgusted as she spoke.