Chains, locks and dungeons are not necessary to tie down a prisoner. Sometimes, guilt becomes the very chain that binds them. Their heart becomes a conflict they cannot unravel. Their life becomes one long trudge through days as dark as the darkest dungeon. Prison then, does not only contain them, but lives inside them.
Sookie, kneeling on the cold stone floor of the Tribunal Hall of Elders, may not have been alone in the physical sense, but she was alone in her prison, accompanied by nothing but screams – screams of a whole village of people slaughtered in cold blood, the horrifying image of hundreds of burning, bleeding bodies of the Earth Fae, Erik’s kin, still raw in her eyes. Whether it be in the eyes or minds of those around her, or within, it was all she could see. All she could hear…
Whatever good she might have done in her past, her future looked bleak and unforgiving. If reparations were not made, penance not offered, the guilt and screams would make her existence an eternal prison.
She looked on at the horrific carnage being projected by hundreds of minds around her, until it was inside her as a constant heartbreak. She searched for a drop of redemption inside her heart to wet her parched soul. But looking within, all she saw was a selfish creature, one who had acted rashly, misused the boundless power within her, and cost the light and life of hundreds of innocent beings whose time had come to an abrupt end. The lives lost weren’t those of soldiers going knowingly to war. The lost ones had been families. The elders… the women… the children… So many children, barely come in the world…So much blood spilt.
Her actions had gotten an entire species almost wiped off the face of the Earth. A near fatal genocide.
And for what?
A moment with Erik?
A moment that was a split second when put in front of the centuries of her existence. A moment without which perhaps she could have gone on loving Erik from afar, as she’d always done and so many lives wouldn’t have been lost. So much blood wouldn’t have been on her hands.
As if on a trigger at that thought, Sookie again saw her hands dripping and red with cold thick blood. She discreetly wiped her hands on her dirty tunic. The blood did not go away.
The worst part was, even weighed down by the lost lives, her treacherous heart wanted Erik, thrashed and struggled against the chains of guilt to reach out to him once more, even if just on the psychic plain. However much she pushed the need away, there still was the ever-present unrelenting pull that tugged the strings of her control and urged her to go and find him again. She had managed the pull before. But now she knew what it was like to be with him. Now her shields to cage her love for him had shattered with his touch. And her shamed but willful thoughts went to Erik even as her physical self could not. Again and again. All the darkness of her guilt, her crimes, her prison, could not smother her need for Erik. It made the guilt heavier. Her prison darker.
Thus Sookie knew and understood why Michael had told her time and again to be careful with Erik. Why he wanted her to wait a few more years before she was sent out on missions. But Sookie had been stubborn and wanted to start doing some actual work aside from training and lessons with scribes. So Erik became her first major assignment, to be taken up under the tutelage of Michael. She failed. Brought down her brother, the Earth Fae, their ironclad laws and herself in the process. And now she was broken too – the inescapable result of her conflicting emotions, the very same kind of emotions that had no use for the kind of life she was supposed to lead.
She looked up to the elders, wishing for them to hurry with the sentencing and punishment.
All arguments were heard. All facets of the particular incident examined thoroughly, from all angles. Carnal interaction with their charges, human or otherwise, was a taboo and for that alone, the Elders could strip the deviant angel of his or her powers and memories. Sookie admitted to have fallen in love with Erik and her crime became greater because then she was accused of orchestrating a massacre for the selfish purpose of wanting to lay with the Fae Prince, regardless of the consequences.
Her connection to the Archangel Michael was another debilitating strike against her. Because the Archangel was the law unto himself and had never been disgraced by even a prick of an infraction, this trial brought a lot of unwanted attention throughout angel kind. Sookie might have been just a lower angel in the hierarchy, a young one compared to the others in their society, but she was powerful because of her bloodline. Her trial became a matter of setting an example for their kind.
Stripping her powers and memories was the least the Elders would do to her.
One of them now stood up, shrouded from head to toe. His voice was multifaceted, layered with the voices of each elder, together, echoing with the sheer power behind the words.
“Stand.” he commanded.
Sookie stood up, head bowed at the elder.
“We find you guilty, angel.”
Not a breath could be heard around the huge chamber filled to the brim as the elder addressed Sookie.
“For tampering with the threads of time, for laying with a charge, for exposing your true self to an outsider without leave, for not responding to the summons of your lord and commander Michael” the elder raised a glowing hand towards her, “your light will be locked, your power stripped!”
Sookie cried out as the glow of the elder’s power hit her in the middle of her chest. The beam tore her apart, chasing her light to a point where she couldn’t reach it, locking it away, savagely cutting her being into two. Hot painful tears fell on the cold stone floor as the angel sobbed for the part of herself that was gone. Cutting off a limb would have hurt less than that. Stripping off her clothes for hundreds to see would have left her feeling less naked.
Michael rushed forward, momentarily uncaring of reprimand and knelt to catch her at her elbows from behind, to not let his beloved sister crumble lifelessly on the floor.
But the elders weren’t finished with her yet.
“For leading to the blood crime against the Earth Fae, for robbing it’s people of their leader in need, for putting the need of your flesh ahead of the lives of those you swore to protect, you will be exiled in penance to the mortal world you failed to protect, to pay for each and every death with the blood of your deviant heart. For a thousand cycles of mortal life and death, we condemn you to pay for each drop of blood on your hands, without the knowledge of why you burn, for your memories will be wiped, their span being only for the lifetimes you will live. We take your immortality and cast you to churn in the cycle of death, until your penance to death is fulfilled.”
The hand rose again, hitting the fallen angel again, this time on her forehead, as her thoughts, her memories, her entire being was cast away to the shadows she would never reach without her light. The light now locked somewhere she couldn’t reach, something she didn’t have the eyes to search for anymore.
Not knowing about her missing pieces, she would never know to look for them. Without knowing where it hurt, Sookie could not sooth the wounds. Wounds that would fester in each life she lived, death not potent enough to end their pain. Her immense power would become a prisoner in a meager mortal form that would never know to reach for it, and if stumbled upon, would never know how to contain it.