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“What’s stopping them from just barging through
the gateways, then?”
“Anariel’s golems, beings created from her magic.
You saw one before we went through the
gateway. They are her peacekeepers, and are a
force to be reckoned with.”
Cole quickly glanced about the bar. He saw the
same huge black man in the suit standing behind
the bar, as well as by the card tables, the door,
and several other locations.
“There’s so many of them,” Cole stated.
Zafira chuckled, “Anariel has an animated army to
safeguard this place, to protect the patrons from
Heaven and Hell. She could give both sides a run
for their money if one of them decided to attack.
But this place would eventually fall if one or both
sides decided to go all out. The catch is that
casualties would be massive, which would allow
Heaven or Hell to attack and overwhelm the
other. Because of this, Purgatory remains
relatively safe due to this stalemate. It’s a classic
“Why are humans not welcome here?”
“Several reasons. Your kind tends to destroy
everything you touch. There’s also the Crusaders,
who wouldn’t hesitate to kill any demon or fallen
angel. But I think the main reason is that most
demons and angels spend centuries influencing
humans — and after all that time, that close
association, they’ve finally gotten tired of your
A golem approached Cole and Zafira’s table.
“Anariel will see you now,” he intoned with the
same deep voice as the last guardian.
“Well, it’s about time!” Zafira said impatiently.
The midnight golem escorted Cole and Zafira up a
flight of stairs to a balcony overlooking the bar
and stopped at another red door.
“Anariel awaits you inside.”
Zafira nodded at Cole and opened the door. He
stepped through and stopped short. In his awe-
struck eyes, they appeared to be outdoors in a
luxuriant flower garden. The red door vanished
behind them. Cole was breathless at the shear
beauty of this new world. The sun shone brightly
in the clear blue sky; white birds chirped and
soared overhead. A large fountain arose in the
distance. Cole looked on at this marvel of nature
full of colorful flowers and fruit trees.
“Where are we?” Cole breathed.
Zafira shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not entirely
They followed a narrow walkway of ivory-toned
marble through the garden toward the fountain. A
woman with mid-length fire-engine-red hair,
wearing a long white silk robe, came into view as
they moved forward. She sat on a small bench,
basking in her surroundings. As they neared, Cole
noted the woman had long pointed ears and
wings with black feathers. Anariel was an angel.
“Hello, Ana,” Zafira said.
“Zafira,” Anariel said. “I believe I told you never to
come back to Purgatory, much like I told you to
never call me Ana.”
“I feel your pain,” Cole joked. “She’s not one for
adhering to people’s requests.”
Anariel gazed upon Cole with contempt. “Silence,
mortal!” She turned to Zafira. “I would like to
know why you brought this mortal here. They are
strictly forbidden from entering Purgatory.”
Zafira laughed. “For someone who went against
the rules of Heaven, you sure have many rules of
“Many? I have but two: no violence, and no
mortals. Now, you have broken both!”
“Those rogue angels had it coming!” Zafira
argued. “They thought they could buy their way
back into Heaven’s good graces by killing me. I
had to prove them wrong.”
“If you were anyone else I would have had my
golems pulverize you into dust!”
“Why didn’t you, then?!” Zafira yelled.
Anariel paused and calmed herself. “Because, if
not for you, I would never have created Purgatory
in the first place.”
Zafira rolled her eyes. “You have a funny way of
showing your gratitude. Instead of erecting
statues in my honor, you banish me.”
Anariel shook her head. “Your vanity knows no
limits. I have no regrets for any of my decisions.”
“Wait,” Cole interrupted, looking at Zafira. “What
is your history with Anariel?”
Zafira flashed her signature cocky smirk. “I
showed her exactly what the pleasures of the
flesh was like.”
“You mean, you two were a… thing?” Cole asked
“If by ‘thing’ you mean lovers, then absolutely
not!” Anariel declared.
“But we did f–k,” Zafira said smugly.
To Be Continued