“So those stuffed shirts gave you a choice, did they?”  Azazel said, holding his chin in thought.  “And you chose Hell.  I didn’t think you were a masochist, Ethan.”  This seemed to amuse him.

            I simply stood silent, trying to gauge what his intentions were.  Why he was trying to hold me here.

            “It’s funny that they would let you choose.  I mean, after all, angels never make choices.  Their very nature requires that they obey God.  The poor fools.”  Azazel laughed.  “Yet he gave humans free will.”

            I decided to see if I could unbalance him, throw him off his game.

            “Isn’t that true of you, though?  I mean, don’t you do whatever Satan wants?  Isn’t he your king?”

            Azazel glared at me, his fingers digging into the armrests of his chair.  I could feel his hatred like a palpable thing, a strong wave of force buffeting my face.  I gathered all my willpower and it was barely enough to keep me from taking a step back.

            “I SERVE NO ONE,” Azazel said, his voice booming like thunder.  Then he smiled and broke into amiable laughter, as if I had made a harmless yet mildly foolish comment.

            “I do love how that misconception has grown.”  He chuckled, then read confusion on my face.

            “Misconception?” I asked.

            “If you’re here, then you’ve already met Satan, at your Judgement.”  Azazel pointed out.  I thought back.  Raphael had reminded me that Satan meant Adversary, and carried many connotations.  I remembered one from Torah class:  in the Old Testament, Satan was seen as a Prosecuting Attorney in God’s court of judgement.  He wasn’t seen as much of an enemy until later.  That was more a Christian motif, the Dragon in St. John’s Revelation called the Satan, the Enemy.

            “I remember someone trying to convict me for my rage.”  I agreed.  “He looked like Freud.  He was there as part of the judging, part of the system…”

            I had a sudden realization startling in its clarity.  “He works for God.  He’s not the Enemy, just the Adversary.  Like an opponent in chess, there’s no malice.  Even in the book of Job, he is in God’s court.  He tests faith, but doesn’t fight with God.”

            “Yet everyone throws his name around, blaming him for the corruption in the world.”  Azazel smiled.  “I even convinced Raphael of that, just by letting him lock me in a cave for a few centuries.  Wasn’t that clever?”

            I felt a sudden deep chill rock me to my foundations.  The world had come to believe in a lie, mud had been drawn across the waters of the pool of truth to cloud our thinking and create room for doubt.  No one took the Devil seriously because no one believed he was real.  And no one believed because all along we’d mixed up the prosecuting angel of the Old Testament with the real Enemy.

            “It was you.  It’s been you all along!”  I cried out, drawing my sword and crashing forward, rushing at the greatest of Adversaries, a knight out to vanquish the Dragon.

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