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Seal of Azazel

CHAPTER EIGHT: A WALK IN THE PARK

Standing outside of the library main gate, Adriel was relieved to see Belial go. She had a bunch of questions in her head now about Belial… Angel and Aramis. “Creepy,” she murmured. “The Necromancer is gone beyond himself… but I don’t understand, Azrael.”
She looked down in perplexity. It was very odd to call Azrael this cute kid.

Azrael watched Belial go. She had noticed before the two ‘brothers’ were quite independent entities, yet she knew Belial was perfectly able to merge back into one at will. However, as she watched them go, she noticed they did act like separate beings. But they were just one. Azrael listened to Adriel’s words. “The Necromancer is here for a reason. These things are not to be talked about in the open. Let’s go inside. I see the Head General is there, too.” The child looked up at Adriel, still holding grip of a fold in her skirt.

Adriel nodded and instinctively picked up the little child. Realizing what she had done, Adriel flushed. “Sorry,” she stammered, not knowing if she should just put her down.

Azrael blinked at being picked up. She laid her arm on Adriel’s shoulder for balance. “It’s alright, Adriel. Let us see the Head General.” Azrael looked at the surroundings from Adriel’s arms.

Carrying around the Archangel of Death and Destruction gave a quite eerie feeling to Adriel, but she didn’t want to be offensive, so she carried her inside. “Azrael… you ought to smile if you are to look like a human child,” Adriel cautiously recommended.

Azrael blinked. “Not all the children smile. I won’t smile if I don’t feel like smiling,” Azrael said. “That’s out of the question.”

Adriel swallowed a bit. “As you wish,” she said. She carried Azrael into the collection room where Raphael was.

“Oh lady Adriel, what a cute child! Is she a relative of yours?”

“Uh, yes… she arrived from Spain,” Adriel hurriedly said.

“Does she speak English?”

“A little…” Adriel felt real embarrassed and flushed lightly. Azrael was giving them all a cold look. Adriel rocked her a bit. “She’s not feeling too well at the time.”

Rosie waved at the new kid. “Angel, too? Are you meanie?”

Rose flushed. “Hush, Rosie! I am so sorry lady Adriel… Your friend is over there yet.”

Adriel smiled a bit. “Thank you, Rose.” Adriel smiled at the librarians and went over to Raphael with Azrael in her arms, some distance from the others. “Um… She’s just arrived. Belial’s gone. You won’t believe… what I saw!”

Staring at the child in front of him, Raphael blinked his eyes. “I don’t believe it either.” Raphael said, misinterpreting Adriel’s words, “Why is she…” Looking at Azrael, Raphael looks puzzled and ‘off.’ Azrael had become a child! Or rather, made herself appear as a child. Raphael knew from experience that Azrael has the ability to shape-shift. “Why a child? Not a cat anymore?” Raphael said with a hint of sarcasm.

Azrael cast a cold glance to Raphael. “I’m not here to discuss my appearance with you. However, not many distrust cats and children. I want to point out to your notice that Belial’s out there, and he’s changed his approach. He split in two.” Azrael moved her feet a little and looked over Adriel’s shoulder. Rosie was waving at her. Azrael blinked at Rosie and faintly waved back, then turned to see Raphael again. “He might know about the Gathering.”

“Not many distrust cats and children.” Raphael mimicked Azrael, “They will soon, looking at your unusually unchild-like expression and behavior.” Raphael said sarcastically. Raphael thought about the splitting thing for a while. “I suppose Belial is now driving himself crazy by talking to himself now.” he replied.

“Put me down, Adriel,” Azrael asked. Once back on her feet, the little kid kicked Raphael’s shin. “I’ve seen human children do this, too,” she pointed out, sternly. “About Belial, he split after the Fall. That’s why you never saw him in two. It’s an interesting detail to know, he merges back into one at will. His power doesn’t diminish with the split and it may increase when they are together.” Azrael smoothed out her skirt.

Adriel blinked, alarmed. She was unsure on what to do, but knowing Raphael he’d care little about Azrael’s form as a child… and Azrael cared little about everything. Adriel took a desperate measure and picked up Azrael again. “Rosie would want to play with you if she sees you on the floor,” she quickly explained to the archangel of Death and Destruction.

Raphael had wanted to slap Azrael back despite her child-like form when Adriel picked Azrael up again. “Yeah, play with Rosie.” Raphael said, feeling sore about the kick, “Children should behave like children.”

Azrael blinked at being picked up again. She looked down at Raphael.
“I just did! I guess however, I don’t meet your children standards,” Azrael said with irony. She leaned against Adriel’s shoulder.

Raphael smiled. “The pot calling the kettle black, huh?” Raphael reached over and pinched Azrael’s cheek. Before Azrael could do anything about it, he withdrew his hand swiftly and laughed as he stood up. Raphael walked away from Azrael in case she had a chance to retaliate and he pat Rosie’s head. “Go play with that little girl around your age, will you? She’s nice.” Raphael cooed.

Azrael’s eyes flashed cold. “Fool,” she said. “I can’t believe I have to lay any hopes on you.”

Rosie looked at Azrael in perplexity. “Are you meanie?,” she asked.

Adriel bit her lip in uneasiness. She didn’t want these two to get into a fight or worse, to develop a grudge. To see the archangels fight dampened her spirits. “She is not meanie, Rosie,” she explained to the little girl. “She’s just… a bit tired, that is all.”

Rosie reached up and touched Azrael’s foot. “Want to play with me?,” she asked.

Raphael roared in laughter at that. “She doesn’t like to play games, Rosie.” Raphael said with a hint of jeering, “She likes to play crossword puzzle on her notebook and mess around.” Raphael winked at Azrael, “It’s time you learn how to play around with other children, my dear child.”

Azrael blinked at the kid. “I don’t know how to play,” she simply said.

Adriel smiled a bit. This was depressive. “Thank you, Rosie… but she’s a bit tired at the time. You’d better go back with your mommy, dear.”

Rosie blinked. “How come you don’t know how to play? Everybody does. Do you have brothers and sisters?”

Adriel sighed. “Rosie, thanks for being so kind, but you ought to go back with your mommy. We’re leaving now.” Adriel cast a hard look at Raphael, who was still shaking with laughter.

Rosie was disappointed. “Alright lady Adriel…”

Adriel walked to the front area of the collection room. She said her goodbyes to the group and said she was going out for lunch with her friends. She then led her little group out of the room and after saying goodbyes to Lester and giving him a couple instructions, they left the library. Adriel put Azrael down. “I don’t want to intrude… but please, do not fight,” she told them in a soft voice.

Raphael stopped laughing immediately and he looked at Adriel. “Fight? Who touched who first?” Raphael said, in an almost demanding voice.

“Well, who’s the adult here?” Azrael softly said in sarcasm. “I’m not here to start any argument with you. I came to prevent you about Belial’s dual nature. As simple as that.”

Adriel sighed. “Oh please, let us let this behind…” She hugged herself. “Belial scared me. I can’t imagine how or why he’s been able to split in two and still be the same demon.”

“He is still Belial but he has changed also. He’s not the same demon. None of us is the same… yet some of us have changed less over the ages.” Azrael frowned darkly. She cast a cold glance at Raphael. “If the Head General were more into his duties, we could plan strategies ahead. Gabriel and Michael are in London by now, after all.” Azrael rose her head, listening. She created a veil to the mortal world and assumed her angelic form: tall and dark, clad in her black armor, her wings folded at her sides. With no more explanations, Azrael spread her wings out and left.

* * * * * * * * * *

Click! “Perfect.” Autumn murmured quietly to herself, standing up straight and gazing up at the clouded sky. She raised her hand over her eyes, the glare of the sun off the clouds being too bright, and gave a small frown of disapproval. “You would think the day I drag my equipment out of the Manor, the sun would be kind enough to shine.” Autumn tilted her head to glance over her shoulder at her ‘dear’ mother-in-law, whom seemed to be contentedly sitting on a nearby bark bench. “I’m going to pack up the camera, Stasia. Perhaps we can stop by the Ladies Club so you may visit.” She turned back to the large camera, and covered it’s lens.

“Pfeh, little fire-haired slut. You just wish to shove me into the street so passersby can run me down with in their carriages!” Anastasia hissed, crossing her arms and pursing her lips.

Autumn merely sighed, picking up the camera and settling it nice and neat into it’s casings. She was beginning to regret taking Anastasia out with her on the walk, but the senile old woman needed the exercise. There was no telling what she would have planned for Autumn, if left alone at the manor. “Lady Ophelia will be pleased to have you visit.” With a quick swipe, Autumn closed the camera’s base, and settled it into the case as well. She flipped the lid closed, and locked the latches. “All finished here. Let’s go, anyós(1).”

The walk to the official “Ladies Club” was a short distance from their location. Autumn stopped at the door, turning to her mother-in-law, giving a somewhat arrogant grin. “I think you should stay here the entire day, Stasia. Lady Ophelia will enjoy your company and I have a few errands to run.” Autumn gave a sarcastic bow, and left Anastasia at the door.

* * * * * * * * * *

She gave a relieved sigh, having a seat on a large water fountain and setting down the large, rather heavy, case carrying her photography equipment. Autumn had enough of Stasia for one morning. Now, all she wanted was a quiet day in the park, taking photographs for her collection…

Raziel strolled through the park, his nose in a book as usual. However, he was having difficulty concentrating on the subject of Roman architecture, as interesting as it was. His mind kept wandering back to his conversations with Rishta. ‘I cannot believe she received her father’s sword. What is more, that he put HIMSELF in it…’ It was in this preoccupied state of mind that he almost bumped into the red-haired young woman who was setting up photography equipment near the fountain. “Excuse me, my apologies!”

“It’s alright…” Autumn gently replied, slightly side-stepping out of the man’s path with ease. She winced unnoticeably, when he almost tripped over the random pieces of equipment she had left sitting in the grass. “I suppose I should apologies myself for monopolizing the entire park grounds.” Picking up the camera, she dusted off unseen particles and placed it onto the already stationed base. Autumn worked with the equipment in silence a few moments before realizing the stranger was still standing there. He seemed to be lost in a few thoughts of his own…
“Sir? If you don’t mind, I could always use a subject…?”

“Hmm? Oh, of course, I would be glad to.” He closed the book, which had managed to stay open when he stopped. Naughty thing. He stood there a few minutes more, blinking owlishly in the afternoon sun. He desperately needed to get out of the library more. Why, just the other day when he went out, he ended up recording two simultaneous battles with the Fallen Belial, who had managed to exist outside himself in the form of two separate identities. Fascinating, but difficult to record. A breeze ruffled his already unruly white-blond hair, bringing him back to reality.
“Where would you like me?” Raziel asked, sensing that she probably did not want him wasting her time.

“By the fountain would be just right.” Autumn directed him to sit, and once he was seated reopened his book in his lap. She smiled and shrugged gently. “Natural positions are more true to life.” ‘This one is odd. He seems to be thinking too hard…’ Autumn thought to herself. If her thoughts or emotions crossed her face, she wasn’t aware of it. She was more occupied in making sure her latest subject was in just the right position to capture the light, and mood of the moment. The corner of her mouth crooked up in mild disapproval. The man seemed to be uncomfortable, it was partly her prodding, but intuition wanted to insist there was something more. ‘The lives of others are none of your business, Autumn. Take your pictures before the light is gone.’ Autumn stepped behind the large, bulky camera, and leaned over. “Relax a little bit, sir. I promise it won’t take your soul.” She adjusted the lenses to the appropriate degree, and made sure the camera had the right amount of flash powder. “Hold still…”

Poof!! The powder gave a bright flash, capturing the photo. ‘Jesus?!’ Autumn gave a short intake of breath, then quickly stood up straight, gawking at her subject for a second. ‘No, that’s ridiculous…’ She smiled, quickly hoping not to alarm the man, and bent over to the peer through the camera lens again. ‘So much light… not a human?’

Raziel had the annoying urge to squirm. He couldn’t recall having his picture taken before, and the flashbulb’s bright light had all but blinded him. Sunspots danced before his eyes. It took a minute for his vision to clear, and by then, the young woman was already back behind the lens. ‘I suppose I continue sitting still… Taking my soul indeed!’ He wanted to laugh badly.

“That certainly is a strange contraption. You say it captures your image on to paper?” The man asked, amusedly rubbing his chin, glancing over her and her equipment.

Autumn merely smiled pleasantly, trying to retrain herself from shuddering under his gaze. The man made her feel uncomfortable in her own skin, but it would be rude to excuse herself from entertaining her mother’s guest. “Indeed. It’s called a camera. It’s a brilliant new technology, but a bit of trouble to carry around.”

An eyebrow crooked up on the man’s face, and an amused grin crossed his lips. “Of course, such a large contraption must be difficult for a woman to carry. Perhaps you should find more appropriate hobbies.”

She took in a deep breath, steadying her temper, and simply gave a small amiable nod. It was an obvious gender specific insult, but she didn’t dare call a man on it. Especially this man in particular. His whole body seemed to reek of strength. Men like that were violent and moody. “You are right of course. But I do so enjoy my hobby. Perhaps I take a photograph of you?”

Autumn leaned up from the camera, and gave the man sitting before her, a good long stare. Generally those who hide something to hide would feel uncomfortable, and those who didn’t would just find her incredibly odd. Though, normally she wouldn’t be so bold, but the lens didn’t lie. There was something strange about this man and now her curiosity was peeked. ‘You should leave the man be. Every time you get involved, you just get in to more trouble, and give Anastasia more leverage against you.’ Autumn sighed deeply to herself, and attempted to regain her usual polite society mannerisms. “I’m all finished, sir. You are free to continue breathing now…”

Raziel wondered why the woman was staring at him so oddly… Surely she could sense nothing. She was only human, of course. He gave her his most winning smile, flashing picture-perfect white teeth, and stood. “I must apologize. I am Raziel McCoullagh, historian by trade.” He gave her a slight bow, and fetched his book from the edge of the fountain before it could decide to fall in. “I work at the Nieland house. I must say, I have never had the honor of having my picture taken before, especially by such a radiant young Lady.”

Autumn blinked for a few confused, fleeting moments, then gave a small sigh of released tension. He did well at putting her to ease, so despite him not being human, he didn’t seem to be a danger. She laughed lightly, returning the bow, and gave a semi-warm, yet polite smile. “You’re quite charming for a historian. I appreciate the compliments.” Autumn cleared her throat lightly. She wasn’t quite sure what else to say to the man, though she very much wanted to learn more about him. Polite society conversations weren’t her strong suit. Damn her annoying curiosity…
“I’m Ah… Autumn Riktophen. I’m in London for the social season. The camera always makes for interesting conversations.” ‘Or interesting insults… which ever mood the ladies seem to be in at the moment. Hmm.’

‘What in Heavens name -is- that?!’ A billion thoughts ran through Autumn’s head as she stood behind the camera. It couldn’t have been broken, she was just using it hours before. But the image wasn’t of her mother’s guest it was… Autumn wasn’t even sure what it was, but it was no living thing she had even seen before.

“Is there something wrong, Lady Riktophen?” he asked smoothly, not appearing to be aware, of anything being wrong. He stood from his seat and moved to the camera, then raised a curious eyebrow as Autumn jerked away from his out stretched hand. “Frightened? No reason to be frightened.” A smile, that could only be describe as sinister, splashed across his face. As he took several more steps closer to her, Autumn took just as many back. Her previous feelings of discomfort were especially high now. Only someone completely clueless couldn’t tell something was very, very wrong…

Raziel’s smile became more relaxed as Ms. Autumn did. Her tension had been strangling him. “Why, thank you. It’s nice to know that I have not become too old and musty, like my books. One day I will walk out of that library an old, wrinkled hermit. As for interesting conversation, I would say so, with that camera… Have you taken many photographs?”

“Ah…” Autumn smiled casually, fussing with the lens on the camera. Something in her mind hoped that it was just a dirty lens, but she knew it wasn’t the case. it was never the case before. “It’s a hobby of mine. I spend many hours behind the camera.” Satisfied with the clean lens, she decided to remove the camera from it’s base and put it away. “You can see a person’s true self when a moment is captured…” Autumn stopped for a moment at the irony of her words, then shrugged it off quickly. “Ah… so… A historian, are you? Any particular field, or do you just enjoy history in general?”

“See a person’s true self? I can understand how that could be handy, in this world.” Raziel chuckled, thinking of the angels and of the demons who would take human guise like himself and the others. “I study the history of humanity in general, like you say, but I enjoy the philosophical and medical exploits as well. I would like to think that I am a rather well rounded fellow.” He chuckled again, a deep, soft musical sound. “Would you allow me to help you with that?” He asked, nodding to the camera she was dismounting. “I would be grateful to be of further assistance.” He watched her with sky blue eyes behind couture wire-rimmed glasses. His employers couldn’t stand the thought of him being outside of fashion. “Do you have any other hobbies?”

“No, no… it’s fine.” She smiled appreciatively, easily taking things apart and placing them neatly away. This part was always the easy part. It was the lugging the huge bulky case around town that was a bother. “Hobbies? Not really. I’m afraid my life is rather boring compared to most Ladies of the Courts.” Autumn made quick work of putting things away, snapping the case closed with a light click! “I spent most of my time at home. Though, my mother-in-law and I are here, in London, for the season. Anastasia wanted to socialize…” She gave a small, barely noticeable, frown of distaste.

Raziel nodded in acquiescence, and watched as she quickly and nimbly dissembled the camera and packed it away into the large, unwieldy case. From the way she spoke of her mother-in-law, it was obvious she didn’t precisely enjoy her presence. Poor girl… It was probably rather dull living, watching your husband’s mother socialize. “Well, if you ever have nothing to do, I would be glad to take you on a tour of London’s more historically interesting places, or at least help you find subjects to photograph. London is such a large city.” He smiled wistfully. It would be nice to have some real company once in a while… Away from his books and from the angels. Some time to relax.

Autumn laughed lightly, picking up the large case from the ground. “Actually, that would be most pleasant. I rarely have anything to do…” She tilted her head in slight observation of his expression. By now she was sure he wasn’t any sort of demon. However, she still wasn’t quite sure what to make of him. And now she wasn’t quite sure what to say either. She really needed to brush up on her etiquette. “I really shouldn’t be keeping you any longer. I’m sure you were busy before I dragged you into my photographs…”

He bowed slightly. He wasn’t, really, but he felt that she was uncomfortable, and probably had better things to do than be seen with a strange man. “If you ever wish to contact me, send a note by courier to the Emmerson mansion.” He smiled once more. “If you need help, I would be glad to call a carriage for you so you won’t have to lug your camera case halfway across London.”

Autumn nodded, smiling appreciatively. “Yes, Thank- “

pfffff-CLINK!

A small silver dart whizzed past Autumn’s head, nicking her earring, then lodging itself into the marble fountain. It was pure luck she had just barley shifted while nodding, or the dart most definitely would have hit it’s mark. She blinked, surprised for a moment, before scowling darkly and spinning around to the direction she assumed the dart had come from. ‘Stasia… Can’t even give me an afternoon of peace? Who is it this time?’ Seeing no one, she gave a small sigh of relief. Only for it to be followed by a sharp intake of breath. She had forgotten all about Mr. McCoullagh, and didn’t notice his reaction.

Surprised, Raziel turned to Autumn. “Are you alright? I recommend you go and sit for a moment on the other side of the fountain.” He picked up her case and carried it to the other side easily, forcing her to move if she wanted to keep an eye on it. He looked in the direction of the dart, but whoever shot it was already gone. He should have been more careful. They were obviously out for the young woman. He plucked the silver dart from the statue; it was light, with a short point and fairly thick shaft. A dark stain on the tip told him all he needed to know. The hollow dart was filled with poison. “Ms. Riktophen…” He wasn’t sure how to ask. It sounded terribly cliché. “Madam, who would try to… take care of you?” He didn’t want to panic her, but…

“Take care of me?” She looked confused for a moment, but when she realize what he meant, she smiled and shook her head. “You mean kill. That’s nothing to worry about. It happens all… the… time…” At his wide eyed, curious expression she grimaced. That obviously wasn’t the right thing to say if you didn’t want someone to worry about you. “I mean… I’ve survived plenty of these situations before… I…” That wasn’t helping either. Bah. Anastasia had to make this so inconvenient. She never sent an assassin out in public before, why did she have to go and start now? Autumn couldn’t lie and act surprised, then he would take her to police and she’d have to answer so many bothersome questions. But how do you explain continuing to live with someone who’s life goal is to see you dead?

Well, he didn’t have to worry about frightening her then. She seemed a good deal calmer, if more irritated, than he. “Um. Well. You should get home quickly before they return… Perhaps you would be safer there.”

She smiled a more genuine smile, and reserved her need to laugh. He had no idea how ironic that statement was. However, it was a good idea. At home she knew where the danger was. “I believe that would be best.”

shink!

Autumn didn’t have much time to think. Hearing the faint clinking sound, a seeing a sudden look of shock spread across Raziel’s face, she moved. Feeling the cold steal of a blade slash at her side, she instinctively grabbed the arm of her attacker and used his own momentum to send him reeling into the fountain! She blinked in shock for a few moments, then gave a rare defiant grin. “See. I can handle such things…” Grasping the bloody gash at her side, she winced and fell to her knees.

Raziel automatically wove a spell to freeze the attacker who lie stunned on the ground. He didn’t realize what he had done until he was at her side. “Blessed Mother of Jesus,” he muttered, using one of the curses he had picked up from the locals. Rare, for him. He hoped she couldn’t sense magic… He wove another spell to prevent her from bleeding to death. It took action quickly, clotting the gash in her side.

“Madam, if you do not mind, I will call a carriage and escort you home.” He wove another small spell, ‘What the hell… I’ve already woven two, it won’t matter one more…’, this time one of Illusion to smooth her appearance so that blood would not show and she would look unharmed. Pale, maybe taken with a faint in this warm weather, but otherwise healthy. To top it off, he felt the energies from a nearby battle… Between an angel and a demon. But he couldn’t make it in time… He resolved to keep a mental tabs. He would have to record it, later.

Johnathon shrugged his coat up higher onto his shoulders as he came to the park fountain. He was well aware of the energy being thrown around by the battle not too far from here, but at this point, full-out demons and angels were a bit too far out of his league. Maybe once he got past muggers and unruly stagecoach drivers. One thing he was confident about, though, was his skill involving the bottom-feeders of Hell. One of them had made itself clearly known when it vaulted over the park wall and made a dash for the fountain square. It wasn’t just running amok; it had a target in mind. Johnathon was just about to make his move, in fact, when he felt a powerful spell being woven very close to where he was–right where he was headed, in fact. If this demon could use magic, he’d be in serious trouble. The Banishing Jewels might not work on it. Still, Johnathon continued his brisk pace, not bothering to exchange pleasantries with the woman with the large case and the strange man that made Johnathon’s hackles rise as he walked past. He had a job to do, and the sooner he got it over with, the better. Besides, it was close to impossible to explain things like this to normal people.

Stopping next to the fallen figure, Johnathon knelt down and removed a bright red gem from his pocket. He held the jewel tightly in his hand for a moment, looking over the unconscious man and muttering something to himself. He pinched the man’s cheeks, looked into his eyes, and even took his pulse. Seemingly satisfied, Johnathon pressed the gem to the man’s forehead. In a flash of red light, the man was gone, complete with the Binding spell that had been placed on him, leaving little more than a soot mark on the ground. Smiling to himself, Johnathon stood back up, and tossed the ruby into the air, letting it land neatly in his pocket. Turning around, his smile almost completely melted when he was met with the amazed stare of the woman with the large bag. “What? Have I got something on my face…?”

Autumn winced as she was helped from the ground by Raziel, unaware of the spells wounded around her, but now very focused on this new… development. The motion of standing sent her head reeling into a painful dizziness, causing her to unconsciously hold onto Raziel for support. When the strange man seemed to appear, poking at her attacker, then drawing him into a small gemstone, she couldn’t help but stare. This meant her attacker was a demon… or this man was a demon. Or they were both demons… or… The thoughts in her mind were so jumbled, she couldn’t make out a single one… Though, she felt responsible for the situation. She caused so much trouble for Mr. McCoullagh, and it was her duty to handle it. However, as she opened her mouth to say something to the man, another wave of dizziness washed over her, and any words she had meant to say, suddenly disappeared from her mind. All she could do was look up at Raziel, almost pleading for him to fix everything.

Raziel supported Autumn gently, painfully aware of the fact that she was indeed female. If he were only human, and something less of a bookworm. He could only watch as the young man used the red jewel, with some sort of banishing ward, to absorb the demi-demonic attacker, and his binding spell along with it. Raziel almost staggered with the recoil of his severed spell, and directed a glare at the brash, dark-haired elegant who had decided to join the circus.

“Yes… I believe you call it arrogance in English,” Raziel retorted mildly and smiled, so that it could not rightly be taken as insult or complement. “Now milady, I shall get you that carriage…” With the aid of another smaller spell, he blocked some of her pain and bent to collect her camera case. With a nod to the young man, one more appropriate to a servant who had just done an admirable job, he began to lead Miss Riktophen out of the park.

Another spell went off. Johnathon could feel the tingle of magic at the base of his skull, but while it was obviously powerful, it contained no malice. It seemed the tall fellow actually wanted to help miss… Riktophen? Johnathon had heard that name somewhere before, from his childhood. Or maybe he had read it somewhere? “Hey! Hey, wait up! Don’t leave just yet!” Johnathon took off running after the two strangers, and cut in front of them as they were leaving. “I was going to ask you… do you know what it was that came after you? Do you even know why? Who could have called it?” He had a few questions for the man on her arm, but those could wait until later.

Autumn sighed deeply, the thought of just being there soaking up her energy, let alone having to answer questions from strangers. What she wanted was to get home as quickly as possible. Actually, she really didn’t want to go home, as she’d just have to dance around Anastasia, but going through the trouble of answering more questions was the thing she wanted to avoid in the first place! Despite her increasing need to escape, and the want to let Mr. McCoullagh play knight in shining armor, Autumn kept her calm resolve and gently shook her head. “I won’t… be answering any questions…” She was tempted tell the man exactly where he could take his bothersome questions, but the argument that would bring on was more than she could deal with at the moment.

Raziel smiled down at the man grimly, taking rare advantage of his over seven foot height. “Yes.” He was aware of Miss Riktophen’s need for rest; he wanted to see her home as quickly as possible. It was impossible to say if another demon assassin would decide to make an entrance. He gently guided Autumn around the man and continued toward the carriage. He lifted his chin to acknowledge the driver.

“Some nerve,” Johnathon snorted to himself. “I’m an occultist, not some manservant to be coddled.” Despite his initial bitterness, though, Johnathon could see why the tall fellow might be in such a rush to get the lady home. Reason and logic quickly cooled his simmering temper, and allowed him to think clearly again. Taking the side route out of the park meant Johnathon had to scale the wall, but it kept him out of sight of the tall man. Now that he was back outside on the sidewalk, all he had to do was wait for the carriage to pass by, and follow it to wherever miss Riktophen was staying. Besides, he was a bit concerned about her too. Leaving her alone when demonic servants were attacking her was a highly unpleasant notion. But what if the tall stranger was with her? Johnathon winced. That could complicate matters somewhat. He had an inkling that miss Riktophen’s friend didn’t care too much for him. If only he could remember where he had heard that name before! Then he could get a head start on where she might be staying. Riktophen… the name was obviously foreign, and the lady had the slightest trace of an accent. East European, if Johnathon guessed right. Now, how many European people could afford such clumsy equipment like that? What had she called it… kammra? And it took stills of the world, like a painting, only in happened in the blink of an eye. That certainly put her in a higher tax bracket. Only someone quite well-off could afford something as remarkable.

Riktophen. It sounded gruff and forceful. Probably Germanic in nature, or something to that effect. Not too far off, Johnathon heard voices–the tall man’s, by the sound of it, and the sharp whinny of horses. They probably felt the same odd feelings that Johnathon did about the tall stranger. Riktophen. Chestnuts. It was Hungarian. Johnathon blanched. Could that woman be related to Baron Riktophen? As unlikely as it seemed, that had to be the case. Her name matched the Baron’s, and only a relative of nobility would be able to afford such a modern device as the one she carried. Well, that certainly narrowed down his search quite a bit. Of all the little nuances of this job, Johnathon realized he enjoyed the detective work the most! All he had to do now is get near the Hungarian embassy and start looking for more clues. The rest, he hoped, would reveal itself.

It was blessed relief when Autumn was seated in the carriage, and it was on it’s way back to her home. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her, and her head rested against the soft side wall. The gentle movement of the carriage was soothing. Enough for her to relax, and take in the deep calming breaths she so desperately needed. Raziel had remained with her, though countless of times she chided herself for allowing him to stay. The last thing she wanted to be was the needy damsel in distress… Then again, Anastasia had caught he by surprise today. It wouldn’t have been so easy to take the man alone… Especially a demon.

CRASH!!

Blood stained shards of glass shattered in to a thousand different directions across the front lawn of the manor. Autumn groaned, stretching her stiff limbs, and pushing herself a few inches off the ground. The fall was only one floor, but the force of impact was enough to knock the breath out of her, along with leaving a mess of bruises and small cuts. The man, No… he wasn’t a man, he was some sort of demon. A real man’s eyes were not so hollow… The demon laid a few feet away, suffering from more than just a few cuts. A huge shard of glass was lodged deep into his back, giving Autumn a moment to sigh with relief. He had moved to shove her out the window, but she made sure to take him with her.

She stood, and walked over to the demon’s fallen body, peering at him with a mixture of horror and curiosity. Her camera saw this demon form. Was it just a trick of the light? She turned away just as the demon’s eye’s shot open…

“Iyah…” Autumn jerked herself awake, then grumbled at her sudden painful movement. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep. “Eh. It’s nice to wake up to a guardian angel for once…” She gave a quick joking smile, she settled herself back comfortably in her seat.

The carriage ride was quiet and jolting. Raziel thought that over all he preferred his own two feet to anything with wheels. The silence was only interrupted by clacking wheels, the cursing driver, frantic horses, and the dreamer’s mumbling next to him. Perhaps it wasn’t so silent after all, but he wished it was. ‘Poor girl… She must be having a nightmare. Far be it for me to wake her though.’ She finally woke, though, and made a startling joke about guardian angels. He wanted to fall out of his seat. Instead, he smiled politely and chuckled appreciatively. “Everyone needs one sometime. We’re almost there. Are you feeling better, or worse?”

‘Curious… That startled him for some reason. I wonder…’ Autumn thought for a few moments, a small piece of her wanting to decipher this little mystery, but common sense decided to take control. “I think I’m a little more oriented, at least. I’m surprised there isn’t as much blood…” She examined her side. The gash was perfectly clotted, and there was almost no stain to be found at all. It was solid proof there was something more to this man, she just had to find out what it was. ‘Argh. Don’t put yourself into another’s business, Autumn. He may not be a demon, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less dangerous… You have enough to worry about.’




(1) anyós

By BroodingDarkness

Before the birth of man there were the angels. The purpose of the Angelic Host was to keep the balance and guide man through it’s evolution… but many did not agree. This stand became known as The Fall and those that apposed the Host were known as the Fallen.

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