The silver sky and snow-white ground met at the horizon as a ray of sunlight rebounded on the frozen lake in the evening. A bronze perch, tall as a clock tower and thin as a branch, stood at the center of the city. People knelt around it with their palms joined and recited litanies.
Bael forgot how long he had been guarding this city. He stuck to his duty, staying at the perch from dawn to dusk. He listened to the prayers of old men in the morning; the singing of children at noon; the wishes of citizens at night. The routine litanies, repeated eulogistic poems, and the same wishes again and again...these were the only things in his life. He could hear their voices even with his ears covered.
Then he heard about Satan.
’Satan reversed the left and right limbs of the people in that village!’
’It was worse for that other city! Satan peeled the people’s skins off and let them burn in the sun!’
Satan’s stories spiced up Bael’s toneless life. At first he thought they were just demons’ or taoists’ cheap tricks. As he thought about skinless people with right feet connected to left arms, his numb mind was refreshed. He started to see things differently. ‘Extraordinary...’ praised Bael. He could not help but wonder what the purpose of Satan’s acts were, because he could only hear her deeds through people's mouths..
Satan’s deeds continued to increase every day. Some were vicious and some were peculiar. Bael could not predict the pattern of her behavior, but he would inscribe her every action in his memory. He would think about how Satan once trapped fishers into a pool that she filled with earthworms and watched the worms drill into their every opening whenever he saw people fishing at the frozen lake. He would imagine how Satan turned half of the villagers into grasshoppers and forced the other half to kill them whenever he saw people farming. He would replay Satan’s stories in his mind over and over again on days he didn't hear anything new about her. Sometimes he indulged himself in believing that he understood her intentions. He had never met Satan, but he already yearned for a glimpse of her.
Today he heard nothing about Satan. Bael stared at the dark clouds in a distance, which reminded him of how people described her eyes, the gray of nimbus clouds and the mist that muddled minds. He squinted for a clearer look of the clouds and noticed they were actually an army of gods equipped with Holy Armor.
Bael straightened up on top of the perch and opened his glowing wings to warn the gods, who ignored him and continued marching into the city. and marched into the city. The screaming made Bael look around. He saw heavy smoke drifting out of roofs, which he had not noticed while he had been lost in thinking about Satan. A god soldier yelled, ‘Satan is definitely here! She stole our Holy Torch and used it for her evil deeds!’ The army started to dig a river between the frozen lake and the city to fight the fire.
Bael jumped off his perch in search of Satan. The moment he touched the ground, he heard a sharp laughter…
’Fire glows brighter in daylight than at night.’
Bael searched for the speaker and found a woman sitting on a water tower. Wearing that displayed her bosom and arms, she had a sword glowing purple in her arms.
Satan noticed Bael’s staring. She put a finger on her lips and simpered at him.
At that moment time froze. Bael's body felt burning hot as Satan looked into his eyes...He had never experienced this intense heat. A glimpse of her had turned his mind blank.
She was Satan.
Satan stretched, pointed at the god soldiers, and asked, ‘You are a god, right? Tell me how a frozen lake could kill a god.’ She swung her swords, drawing rays of flames in the air, and exclaimed, ‘Maybe just a bit more fire…’ Her voice filled Bael’s mind. He answered, ‘No. I know a better way to kill them.’
He flew above the frozen lake. The god soldiers thought he was there to help, so they asked him to splatter water on the fire. Suddenly lights pierced their eyes. The screaming soldiers scratched their eyes crazily and rolled around on the ice in pain.. Bael had betrayed his race for his love for Satan.
’Haha! Bravo!’ applauded Satan. In one night, the Sleepless City had turned into a hopeless hell. Bael’s heart raced hearing her praise, ‘...I will show you more exciting stuff if you bring me with you.’
Satan stared at him from the corner of her deep eyes. She wrapped her arms around Bael and whispered in his ear, ‘Come.’ They vanished as their giants wings swung, while darkness and flames drowned the Sleepless City.