|“||I'm tired. Every time I get somewhere in life, every time... Something is taken away from me.||”|
— Azrael Michaelis Winter
Azrael Michaelis Winter is the ArknAngel of Redemption and Salvation, and the brother of Alex and Elizabeth. He is fused with Xerex Storn, who is bound to his body (rather than converged). Often mistaken for Edgar Kharon, he is the only Arknza capable of wielding Temporal Magick, as well as one of the only beings who can enter the Infernous at will.
Michaelis Winter was the youngest child of Marcus and Mary Winter. He was originally coded as another alternate version of Michael Knight; however, due to Uriel throwing himself into a .Reality engine, his data became glitched, causing him to be born into the Winter family. From an early age, Michaelis and his brother Alex could both hear the voices of the Arkn and the Dekn. Alex, the more troubled of the two, also claimed that he saw visions of monstrous creatures. Michaelis once witnessed his brother, normally a calm, quiet boy, become irrationally angry and fight a group of boys after he saw them kicking a tree.
When Michaelis was nine, his parents were murdered in the Winter Family Massacre. Believing that Alex was responsible, Michaelis fled from his home. He grew up in a foster home, where his name was changed to Michaelis Spades. He became severely depressed. At one point, he contemplated suicide, attempting to walk into traffic. However, the voice of his Guardian, Ellpagg, instructed him to stop, telling him that he served a greater purpose.
While he grew up without any friends, Michaelis did meet and develop a love interest in a neighbor boy named Mark. Mark gave him two gifts: a giant stuffed white bear and a gray and black hoodie vest, both of which he treasured. In time, Michaelis started seeing a therapist by the name of Dr. Kestler, who had him record video logs of his dreams. Michaelis also reclaimed his original surname, Winter, as a means of reconnecting with his family. At some point, Michaelis became attached to a being known as Xerex Storn; Xerex was attracted to Michaelis's Hethian blood, and intended to use his body as a vessel. He began taking control of Michaelis, and apparently murdered Mark during one of these sessions (as he had plans for Michaelis, and considered romantic relationships and feelings to be a distraction).
On the day his timeline underwent its apocalypse, Michaelis allegedly had a confrontation with Alex, who was threatening to kill Elizabeth. What happened next is uncertain; it is known that Michaelis and Alex shot at one another, and that at the moment the bullet struck Michaelis, their timeline broke. Michaelis found himself in the void outside his broken timeline, where he encountered Ellpagg. As Ellpagg offered to take Michaelis back in time, he was suddenly replaced by Xerex, who killed Michaelis by squeezing the life out of his heart. Xerex attempted to seize control of Michaelis's vessel, but Michaelis's data was able to fight back and overcome him. The two of them did not have a clean convergence, with Xerex being bound to Michaelis's vessel rather than merging with him into a single being.
Ellpagg took Michaelis back to the beginning of Existence, where he would be hidden from The Carver. He was sequestered in a lighthouse-like tower, where he was left to watch the history of Existence unfold in isolation (and, on rare occasions, train with Ellpagg). Ellpagg gave Michaelis the Arkn name Azrael (which had previously belonged to another Arknza), and a powerful magic revolver. After many eons, Azrael emerged from his tower and began interacting with other beings, going on missions for Ellpagg. He started using his powers to enter the Infernous, freeing Arkn and Dekn (and some humans) who had overstayed their time in the realm. Azrael became known as The Savior: the Arknangel of Redemption and Salvation. He developed a rivalry with the Persophelums, who resented him for his connections with Humanity (which they saw as their domain).
Guardian Reaper (Michael's Camera)
Azrael first appeared on the eve of May 15th, when he took over the body of Michael Knight ("Prelude to the catastrophe of May 15"). After Michael regained control, he called Azrael a "freeloader" and nicknamed him "Spades" (because, as he put it, "he's an asshole and everyone knows only assholes play poker").
On the day of the May 15th event, while Michael was being threatened by The Carver, Azrael took over Michael again (causing Carver to remark, "I should have fucking known it"). Azrael called himself a "Fallen Hethe", and mocked Carver by telling him (among other things) that the Hethe created him without any genitalia. After some bantering, he shot Carver in the head with his revolver, killing him and sending him back to the Infernous. Azrael then took Michael's body out for a spin, using it go shopping for "finely tailored dress shirts" while chaos erupted and timelines died around him (much to the disgust of Michael, who could only watch). When Michael regained control, he attempted to kill Gabriel Holden; however, due to his growing Arknangel powers, Gabriel overpowered Michael. Azrael then took over Michael once again, and convinced Gabriel to accept Raziel and converge with him before departing.
Azrael next appeared to Michael while he was trapped in the Infernous ("Out of the Frying Pan"). Azrael offered to help Michael escape and left him his old revolver (hinting that Michael should use it to shoot himself). During this appearance, Azrael revealed his true identity, admitting that he wasn't a Fallen Hethe, but an Arknangel and a more successful version of Michael Knight from an alternate timeline.
Michael ended up being taken over by The Carver shortly after he escaped from the Infernous ("Into the Fire"); Azrael met up with Ellpagg, who explained that Michael had secretly been The Carver's Nephilim son the entire time ("The war with no sides"). Ellpagg released a fragment of Malek from Dale and tried to stop The Carver, with Malek's help and Azrael acting as his shade. Carver escaped before they could stop him, and Ellpagg departed in anger. Azrael stayed behind in .Reality to hunt down the Persophelums, while running Michael's YouTube channel.
As he tried in vain to locate Crow, Azrael realized (much to his horror) that The Esragrath Effect was kicking in, and trying him to turn into a replacement Michael Knight. After failing to find Crow, Azrael was surprised by him and stabbed in the back. He awoke to find himself in the Infernous, imprisoned with deceased variants of Michael from various timelines. These included "Tour Guide Michael", a silent version of Michael in a rabbit mask (nicknamed "Spooky Michael"), and a Michael seemingly glued to the toilet. After showing him around their "cell", Tour Guide Michael was shot by The Carver, who proceeded to inflict various injuries upon Azrael. Before releasing him, Carver ordered Azrael to inform the other ArknAngels of his return, and that nobody would be able to stop him.Azrael was let out of the Infernous and attempted to get Raziel and Uriel's help with the situation, but found that they were busy. While taking a break from rage-hunting lurkers, Azrael got a call from Raphael that Tobias had been killed by Elias Exodus, and was now trapped in the Infernous. Despite being angry and disgusted by Raphael's carelessness, Azrael agreed to rescue Toby. He made a deal with Xerex, promising to let him go for good if he would let him use his power one last time to go in and save Toby. Azrael returned to the Infernous, this time completely unarmed. He encountered Ambriel and freed her, but then had to use the last of his power to pull Tobias out; because of this, he was left trapped and powerless. Having already resigned himself to his fate, Azrael sat on a bench without moving for at least one Eternity before attempting to find The First Tree.
As he found the Tree, Azrael also found The Carver. Carver took Azrael back to the Garage, where he mentally and physically broke him; the torture session culminated in Carver revealing himself to be Deebo incarnate. As Carver left, he told Azrael that the next time they met, he wouldn't be wearing the same face. Shortly thereafter, Michael Knight entered the Garage; Azrael, mistakenly believing him to be The Carver, summoned his revolver and shot Michael in the head.
Azrael was let out of the Infernous by an amused Carver, and discovered that the second May 15th event was in progress and Elysia was under attack. Broken and distraught, Azrael ranted and raved to Michael's audience; he decided to put down Michael's camera and go rescue the Michaels he'd encountered in the Infernous, starting with the Tour Guide. He closed out the recording by summoning a set of armor (created from fragments of Ellpagg's clothing and some of his own) and heading off.
Betrayal (Solar's Crimson, Season 1)
Despite his plans to rescue the imprisoned Michaels, Azrael quickly found himself trapped in the Infernous once more. Ensnared by a combination of his own PTSD and the realm's power, he forgot his life as an ArknAngel and began reliving the life of his human self, Michaelis Spades (complete with the mouth sores he acquired when Xerex began possessing him). Throughout this time, Azrael was haunted and attacked by "Spooky Michael". After obtaining his old Arknza hat, Azrael started regaining his memories, and finally awakened completely (much to his tearful regret). After punching a bathroom mirror in rage, he declared that he was leaving the Infernous, jokingly calling "maintenance" to have the mirror replaced.
Azrael believed that his escape was successful. However, after waking up to find himself trapped in a strange house with a mysterious brand on his right palm, he realized that he was still in the Infernous in some capacity. Due to the realm starting to break down, Azrael's magick didn't work properly, and his attempts to leave failed. This led him to encounter various strange locations and occurrences around the Infernous. Azrael summoned Xerex, who explained that he was stuck in Humanity's Infernous. After being tormented for some time by "Spooky Michael" (who frustrated him by stealing his milk from the fridge), Azrael made another failed escape attempt, which briefly led him into The Beyond (and an encounter with Theatre Mask).
Upon returning to the Infernous, Azrael was met with The Carver. After tormenting him with his strange antics, Carver explained that the Infernous was breaking down because it was no longer under his control (and hadn't been for some time). Carver explained that he handed over control of the realm to Uriel, who had made a deal with him after betraying the Arkn. Angry and in shock, Azrael escaped from the Infernous in earnest; he returned to .Reality and summoned Ellpagg (despite the earlier warning against contacting him) to explain the situation. However, Azrael departed prematurely, leaving a blood-splattered Ellpagg to appear in his empty room. Angry at being Azrael for interrupting him at work, Ellpagg beheaded Azrael's teddy bear before leaving.
Heartbroken by the discovery, Azrael tried to calm himself with a call to Tobias; this failed to help, and he left to consult his old friend, Lazarus Delphar. Delphar admitted that he had been part of the Arkn Council that sent Ellpagg into the Infernous, and that they never intended for Ellpagg's torment and corruption to go as far as it did. Azrael insisted that he needed to confront Ellpagg and tell him about Uriel's betrayal, but Delphar informed him that he wasn't ready and went into the Garage in his place. When Delphar returned, Azrael remarked on how much Ellpagg's personality had changed over time, from when he first met and started training with him. Delphar told Azrael that Ellpagg took part of The Carver with him when he left the Infernous; he believed that this aspect of The Carver was gradually warping Ellpagg's mind, molding him into a spiritual successor of The Carver.
As the two spoke, Ellpagg appeared unexpectedly, causing Azrael to drop the camera and teleport away in fear. Ellpagg told Delphar that he needed kill Azrael in order to fulfill the prophecy (i.e. that one of the Arknangels must die in order for the End Times to begin) so that he could kill The Carver; until then, the Arknza were standing in his way. Delphar and Ellpagg fought, and both were badly wounded. Ellpagg teleported away, and Azrael re-appeared and rushed to Delphar's side, demanding to know what had happened and where Ellpagg went. Instead of answering him, Delphar grabbed his hand and teleported him far away with a burst of power. After a brief return to The Beyond (and another run-in with Theatre Mask), Azrael found himself back in the Infernous, where he quickly became hopelessly lost. After repeatedly running into The Carver, becoming increasingly frightened and confused with each encounter, he finally found himself back in the Garage. Declaring that he'd had enough, Azrael angrily denounced The Carver and his role as an Arknza and removed his signature waistcoat, leaving it (and Michael's camera) behind in the Infernous.
Breaking the Fellowship (MedBoy789)
A short time later, Azrael saw that a new video had been uploaded by The Carver; the video revealed not only that The Carver was capable of directly controlling Ellpagg, but that Gilgamesh had been released from the Infernous and resumed his position as Carver's secret partner. Despite his parting declaration to The Carver, Azrael tried to track down Raphael to warn him. Azrael teleported into Tobias's house to find Raph, but ended up materializing in his shower and finding that Asmodeus and The Carver were already there. After a conference with Toby, Asmodeus, and The Carver (during which Carver informed Toby that he was "God", and Toby ended up being thrown into his pool – where Asmodeus claimed he could find Raphael), Azrael and Toby were safely transported away by Delphar.
Arriving at Tobias's new home between dimensions, Azrael encountered Raphael, and told him about Ellpagg's state and Gilgamesh's treachery. Raphael had recently been rescued from the Valkyrium prison by Uriel himself, and was in no mood to receive bad news (particularly about his savior). The two began to argue, which quickly turned in a fist fight. The skirmish ended with Raphael threateningly putting Azrael's own gun to his head, mockingly proclaiming, "This is how Michael felt!"
Crossroad (Solar's Crimson, S2)
After roughly a year-long absence from vlogging, Azrael resumed posting videos to his channel. He explained that he'd been living in .Reality under his old name, Michaelis Winter, and had tried to live as a normal human: getting a job, attending college classes, and resuming his relationship with Mark (who, as it turned out, was still alive). However, everything fell apart in less than a year, causing him to lose his job and break up with his boyfriend.Azrael found and uploaded an old video that had been recorded during Ellpagg's imprisonment in the Infernous with The Carver, which showed the friendship that had developed between them. After seeing the video, Ellpagg appeared and knocked out Azrael with a snap of his fingers, taking his place. While Azrael was "asleep", Ellpagg left a furious message on his camera; he told off Azrael for uploading his personal "candids", informing him that he was violating his own privacy as punishment. Ellpagg explained that he hated Azrael and the other Arknza because they were preventing him from killing The Carver; he ordered Azrael to face his destiny as an Arknangel and his siblings (both of whom were still alive). He told Azrael that a war was coming, and that he and the other Arknangels were going to get the power of the Hethe and fight The Carver, whether they liked it or not. He awakened Azrael with another finger snap as he teleported away.
After this, Azrael didn't post another video for a full year. He explained that he had tried to ignore Ellpagg's threats and move on his life, but was drawn to the camera by the sound of its beeping (signifying that the batteries were dying). Azrael realized he could no longer ignore his destiny, and that the Arknangels only stood a chance against The Carver as a united front. Phasing into his Arknza gear, he departed from .Reality in search of Redgrave: the only rational being who was close to The Carver.
Azrael found Redgrave, and explained his plan to help the Arknza defeat The Carver and prevent the End Times. Redgrave surprisingly agreed to help, and the two put aside their differences, spending the next eternity training together. Azrael discovered that his powers revolved around Time: an aspect of Existence unique to non-Hethian beings. After mastering his powers, Azrael used them to return to the early days of Uriel's reign, long before The Carver's threat of war. His appearance (which was a paradox) created a ripple in Time outside of .Reality; this allowed the "new" version of events to exist as their own separate universe (with a version Azrael somehow present in both the old and new universes).
In the original (A) universe, the End Times began some time after Azrael completed his training with Redgrave. The seven Arknza came together for the first time; they arrived at the battlefield, where they were met with The Carver and his massive army. Carver's army attacked, and Raguel was slain after wounding Carver. Azrael and Raziel tried to converge on The Carver, but were cut off by Gilgamesh-possessed Ellpagg; Raziel attempted to reason with Ellpagg, and ended up being killed. Raziel's spirit (and power) were absorbed by Ellpagg, strengthening him and allowing him to separate and split off from Gilgamesh. Azrael and Ellpagg fought Gilgamesh together and defeated him, but Azrael was mortally wounded in the process. Azrael told Ellpagg that he was at peace and wanted to die a hero, offering up his power to Ellpagg. Ellpagg accepted and killed Azrael, absorbing his Hethian blood (and power).
In the new version of reality (Universe E), Azrael arrived among the Arkn sometime after the death of King Gilgamesh. He made the acquaintance of Uriel, Raphael, and Raziel, and trained alongside Uriel and Raphael. The four of them became close friends, and Azrael told them about his own timeline and The Carver's plan – and their mistakes and failings in his time. He helped the other Paradox Players master their Hethian powers and learn to use them to their full potential, eliminating the need to seek out their human "counterparts" (and allowing them to avoid the hazards that accompanied said humans). Thus, the Paradox Players joined together, becoming a strong, united front.
When the time came for Ellpagg to be condemned to the Infernous, Azrael agreed to go in his place. After giving up his Hethian power to Ellpagg, Azrael entered the Infernous, unarmed and unpowered. Some time later, he was killed in a battle with The Carver, who completely wiped him from existence. The remaining Paradox Players continued training Ellpagg in Azrael's name, all the while telling him stories of Universe A and what was at stake. Spared the torments of the Infernous (and The Carver's corrupting influence), Ellpagg never turned to darkness; he mastered his power, and eventually took Azrael's place among the Paradox Players. Together, the four sought out the rest of the Arknza (Ambriel, Seraphina, and Raguel), and began training them. In time, thanks to Azrael's actions, the seven Arknza were able to come together as a united force and successfully defeat The Carver – leading to a new, golden age, just as the faux prophecy foretold.
When armored, Azrael dresses in a Wild West-style ensemble (which is a tribute to both Edgar Kharon and King Uriel). This consists of a black vest (sometimes in leather), black dress slacks, and a white dress shirt. The vest is buttoned, but the white shirt always seems to be lazily put on, with the buttons partly undone and the collar out of place. In addition to this, Azrael's right arm seems to always be damaged, bandaged, or covered up, with the sleeve on that arm often being rolled up or cut off. Aside from the arm-wear, Azrael often wears the combination of a Lurker's mask and a cowboy hat (for unknown reasons) when going into battle.
When he's casually dressed, Azrael wears a white tee-shirt with black shorts or gray sweatpants. He often sports the black and gray hoodie-vest given to him by Mark. Sometimes, he combines his casual look with his Arknza gear, wearing the dress pants and waistcoat with the tee-shirt.
Initially, in his human life, Azrael was a weak and emotionally insecure young man. He suffered from severe depression, as well as feelings of guilt and loss. Once he became an Arknza, however, his entire personality changed; the isolation he suffered over many eons (in combination with his newfound powers and skills, and his mixed-up memories) made Azrael lose touch with his humanity, as his memories of his human life faded into the background. He became utterly consumed by his new mythical status as "Edgar Kharon" and Azrael the Arknangel, the Savior of Humanity.
When he first appears, Azrael is extremely cocky and arrogant. This is especially demonstrated in his early interactions with Michael Knight: he calls himself a "fallen Hethe", taunts The Carver, and taking Michael's body for a joy ride (while people and timelines die around him). While he has a strongly benevolent, heroic side to his personality (taking his job as humanity's savior very seriously, and using his powers to brave the Infernous and rescue prisoners – including Michael Knight), he never passes up an opportunity to brag or show off.
After he experiences vulnerability in the Infernous and suffers a beat-down from The Carver, Azrael's human memories are re-awakened; he gets in touch with his humanity for the first time in eons, causing him to become much more emotional and open with his audience. He also becomes extremely mournful, talking frequently about his losses (particularly the loss of his family). During this time, he also expresses the sentiment that he's a "mistake", and shouldn't even exist.
Notes and Trivia
- Azrael is chronologically the oldest of the Arknza.
- According to the character's creator, DeathlyLogic, Azrael received his Hethian blood as a child on the day his family was killed (as mentioned in "Salvation"). It was passed onto him directly by Carver-possessed Ellpagg. This element of Azrael's backstory was set to be revealed in Season 2 of Solar's Crimson, before the series' cancellation and revival let to the plot being retooled.
- Azrael's rivalry with the Persophelums is due not only to jealousy, but because Redgrave arranged for Michael Knight's neighbor to be taken and killed by an Aero Sethe (in Season 1 of Michael's Camera). Azrael's failed attempt to save the girl from the Infernous (as explored in the short story Almost) cemented his hatred for the group.
- Azrael's damaged right arm was originally going to be explained by a future connection to Voidweb (which would have occurred when it turned out that his signature weapon was connected to the God Eater). Once Azrael became corrupted, his arm would have been amputated, preventing him from being consumed.
- According to DeathlyLogic, almost all of Azrael's backstory is made up of false memories:
- Elizabeth and Alex were both murdered on the same day as their parents (the latter by Carver-possessed Ellpagg). In actual history, Michaelis faced the apocalypse alone as an adult, hiding in a closet. However, The Ezragrath Effect (brought about by Ellpagg's visits to .Reality, during which he was absent from the "lighthouse" timeline) caused Azrael to receive Ellpagg's memories of alternate timelines – namely, the events that transpired when Ellpagg killed different versions of Alex. (This is also why Azrael seems to remember two different versions of history.)
- Azrael was also granted Ellpagg's memories of the life of Edgar Kharon; this made him believe he was Kharon's reincarnation, and caused him to take on the skills and personality of a "badass" outlaw. Eventually, he became almost indistinguishable from Kharon, causing others to mistake him for the famed outlaw. (This was also what made Azrael disregard his earlier human memories as "inconsequential", causing him to further lose touch with his humanity.)
|“||I think we both know damn well that I'm a fallen Hethe, right? I mean you're not stupid, right? I mean, you're about to be, because normally smart people have brains, which you kinda... Don't anymore.||”|
|“||As shit goes, here's my introduction. I'm you from a more successful timeline. My name is Azrael, and I happen to be the ArknAngel of Redemption and Salvation. I'm not Edgar, I'm not a fallen Hethe, I'm just the you you should have been. But I'm not holding grudges, I'm getting you out of here. You can thank me later.||”|
— Azrael meeting Michael Knight.
|“||As far as introductions go, I guess this is a introduction. My Arkn name is Azrael, the Arknangel of Salvation and Redemption, but, y'know, we're human here, right? My human name is Michaelis... So there's that. Hello world, I am Michaelis Winter, and I am going to be using this camera now.||”|
— Azrael to the audience.