One of the reasons I decided to write Archangel was because it gave me a chance to start a story after the unthinkable has happened: evil has won. I wanted to go against the stereotype of angels versus demons. Instead of good triumphing over evil, the forces of light have been soundly defeated. The story, the entire series, takes place in a land filled with unspeakable horrors. So, in this first of the Behind the Scenes series, let’s dive into the dark, brutal world of Archangel.
Can you believe it? We saw them! We thought they were just myths, urban legends of some desperate survivors. But we’ve seen them with our own eyes. Angels! There were five of them, all covered in tattoos and with metal rings around their necks. Who knew? Halos didn’t float above your head. They are here to save us, they will protect us from the demons. - Excerpt from Alice O’Connor’s journal, dated Day 288.
Archangel takes place ten years after the onset of the apocalypse. Not a nuclear apocalypse, not a zombie apocalypse, but more akin to your biblical end of days. In this world, the forces of Heaven and Hell must fight over the realm of man while using it as their battleground. What should have followed is what most of us would expect; angels were to come down in their divine glory and smite their enemies, maybe the world would have entered a period of paradise.
What actually happens is quite the opposite. Fueled by a darkening world, the Devil and his demons swarm the Earth. The fighting rages for over two years while the angels do everything they can to hold back the hordes of Hell. Eventually, those angels that survive are driven underground. Their efforts turn from fighting to running and hiding. Those who were once protectors of mankind are forced to abandon their wards as they look to save themselves.
This is made all the worse by the appearance of the black clouds that accompany the second year of the apocalypse. More than just a moral detriment, the clouds are a visual manifestation of the powers of Hell. They cripple the connection that angels have with Heaven, the source of their incredible abilities. Worse, they stop angels from moving between Heaven and Earth. Those who are on the planet when the clouds appear are stuck there with no hope of reinforcements or seeing their home.
He told me that we had nothing to fear. He said that they had fought demons on many battlefields before, that he had personally been responsible for the deaths of one thousand of the creatures. They proved themselves when the demons showed up, nearly twenty of them. I have never seen something as beautiful and terrifying as those angels butchering the monsters. - Excerpt from Alice O’Connor’s journal, dated Day 317.
For our main character, Uriel, it meant eight long years of being trapped in Heaven, unable to see what was happening on Earth or able to go down and help. One of the many angels who were ordered to stay in their ethereal home, Uriel is the only one powerful enough to break through the black clouds when the order is given. Uriel has his ideas of what the planet now looks like, all of the angels do. Most of them have - quite literally - been to Hell and back.
Where Uriel lands is dry, arid, barren. The forests are skeletons of what they used to be, the soil inhospitable to all but the most hardy of vegetation. Towns that once stood have been reduced to crumbling buildings and rotting homes.
But mankind is not extinct. Far from it, actually. Men and women have started to live under the rule of demons and their lords. For most it is not a happy life. They live in fear and constant threat of danger. They are toys for the demons to play with, possess, and abuse. Their hope is nothing more than a distant memory.
There are others out there, people who take advantage of the chaos and depravity. Criminals, con artists, gang leaders. They can be worse than the demons themselves when it comes to their cruelty. Unlike most of the world, they thrive under the new world order.
That is, if they are allowed to thrive. The treatment of humans varies between the demonic nobility. Some allow the humans to operate freely, some enslave them, while others prefer to wipe out what they see as lesser beings.
They are far more united in their stance on angels. Angels are a threat to their very existence and must be eliminated at all costs.
The demons came again. I watched them race across the field and saw the angels rush out to meet them. They had fended the creatures off before, but this was different. I couldn’t count the number of demons charging towards us. It was just a blanket, a wave of frothing grey masses. Their bodies were indistinguishable from one another. The angels are strong, their leader incredibly so. But even if they killed one hundred demons each, it would barely make a dent in their numbers. The demons washed over them. I couldn’t bear to watch as they were surely devoured or torn limb from limb. I hear them clawing through the house now. I hope someone will find this journal one day. I hope there are still some of us alive out there. - Final entry in Alice O’Connor’s journal, undated.
And that is the world that Uriel now walks. It is the world he must save.