Babriel always enjoyed getting back to Heaven. It was such a pretty place, with its rows of small white houses on generous green lawns, its fine old trees, and its general air of genteel Goodness. Not all of Heaven looked like that, of course, but this was West Heaven, the better side of Paradise, where the archangels lived and where the Spiritual Embodiments had summer places. The Spiritual Embodiments were tall and attractive women, and an angel could do far worse for himself than tie up with one of them
—for the mating of excellent qualities was allowed in Heaven. But as beautiful as they were, Babriel wasn't attracted to them in the way of a man and a maid. His heart went out to Ylith. Perhaps because of her previous history as Whore of Athens and Assistant Whore of Babylon, back when she served Bad, he found her irresistible. Ylith sometimes seemed in love with Babriel, sometimes not.
He went by a shortcut to East Heaven and stopped at Ylith's house, just to say hello, but she was not in.
A refurbished nature spirit gotten up like a cherub was mowing the lawn, a penance he had imposed on himself for past indiscretions. He told Babriel that Ylith was away leading a group of young angels to sacred shrines on Earth.
"Oh, really?" Babriel said. "What period are they visit
"I believe it's called the Renaissance," said the nature spirit.
Babriel was brooding on these matters when he walked up Shady Olive Tree Lane and came to the big white mansion on top of the hill where Michael lived. The archangel was tending to the roses in his front yard, the sleeves of his white linen gown pushed back to reveal his brawny forearms.
"Welcome back, Babriel!" said the archangel, putting down his clippers and wiping from his brow the sweet sweat of honest labor. "Did you enjoy your sojourn in Venice?"
"Immeasurably, sir. I took the opportunity of trying to improve my knowledge of the arts. For the greater glory of Good, of course."
"Of course," said Michael, with a friendly twinkle to his deep-set eyes.
"I ran into Azzie Elbub, sir."
"Saw old Azzie, did you?" said Michael, stroking his chin thoughtfully. He remembered the demon well from their last encounter during the affair of Johann Faust. "What was he up to?"
"He said he was just there for a little holiday from his duties in Hell, though I suspect he might have come there to be near the angel Ylith. She is also on Earth."
"It's possible," said Michael. "Or there could be some other reason."
"Like what, sir?"
"There are many possibilities," Michael said vaguely. "I shall have to think about this. Meanwhile, if you're quite rested, there's a lot of correspondence to take care of inside." Michael was punctilious about answering his fan mail, which came to him from all over the Spiritual Realm, and from Earth as well.
"I'll get right to it," Babriel said. He hurried inside to his little office in what had been the Servants' Wing but was now called the Honored Guests of Lesser Importance Wing.