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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: Shades of Paradise Lost
By Laurie Walker


An aura of death emanated from the motionless form. His body, trim and lithe, seemed to soar over the watery surface of the River Styks, barely creating a ripple. Though he faced downward his dark, unnaturaly handsome head looked up, cold eyes blazing as though ignited by the fires of his surroundings.

His thoughts remained focused on the plan, unwilling to accept defeat, unable to repress the dream of a dawn that will end his hell. Heaven had left him alone, and it is in this solitude he first conceived his dark plans. Plans that only added to his damnation by causing others to choose wickedness. Plans that mocked him for he knows infinite goodness, grace, and mercy to man will triumph in the end.

Yet now he stands upon the blackened river, renewed with anger and malice, doing that which some would call impossible. He spreads his monstrous wings and leans into the air, soaring majestically until he reaches dry land, a land which burns just as everything there smolders.

It is there he joins his legion of fallen angels.

Like sleeping guards on duty who’d been caught by the one they feared most, the fallen angels awaken and hastily arise at the unexpected arrival of their chief. He calls out to the pathetic creatures that come, eyes downcast and glimmering with a hint of joy at his arrival. Courage is raised and fears are quelled as their leader’s words caress their downtrodden countenance.

He barks orders as though readying for battle, and they must not disappoint. War is upon them. Resonant metal echoes the cry for action. An answering shout from the ranks tears at Hell’s vault.

Banners are raised, joined by spears and thronging helms and heavy rows of shields. Their leader glances over his army with an experienced eye, his heart swelling with pride. Never, since the creation of man, was there an army such as this. He looks upon his followers, the partners in his crime, all condemned forever. Faithful they stand in their withered glory.

Three times he tries to speak, his army pressing closer in anticipation of his words. Despite adamant resolve tears slip from his eyes. Only those who know him best, only those who looked closely enough, would know those tears were not shed because he loved them. It is only love for his purpose, his own being, his revenge that causes a crack in such unyielding demeanor.

Winged Heralds come forth to call forth the most worthy from each regiment. It is time for the great assembly. They swarm the gates and porches, hovering over the ground and in the air. In close recess and secret meeting sit a thousand demi-gods on golden seats with others of their kinds. After a short silence and the summons read the great council begins.

Satan relaxes for a moment in his golden throne, barely listening to the plotting and planning of those under his control. The slightest trace of a smile pulls at the corners of his beautiful mouth. If he can’t have the glory, he can at least take as many souls as possible.

On today’s agenda: the destruction of mankind.

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This article has been read 619 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 02/09/08
You did an excellent job of creating the atmosphere here - it felt creepy and frightening from the first word to the last (and that last sentence was PERFECT).
Gregory Kane02/11/08
Atmospheric, preternaturally eerie, worthy of Milton. As the poet first expressed it, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n”
Jan Ackerson 02/11/08
Stunning writing--some of the best here!

I'm lost as to how this applies to this week's topic, though.

Love your title, and your mastery of mood.
Shelley Ledfors 02/11/08
Amazing, riveting entry. Your setting of mood is masterful.
Dee Yoder 02/12/08
Chilling descriptions of Satan-in the beginning paragraphs, especially. It's amazing how he won't give up the plan-and you captured his destructive hatred perfectly.