Raphael walked along side with Adriel quietly. He had sent Adriel home quite a few times in his life and the procedure had never made him feel sick. The girl was one of the few people who made him feel comfortable to be with. He thought silently that Adriel’s family might be angry with him, they were getting in so much later than usual.
Adriel was somewhat worried about the hour, and she guessed uncle Ethan wouldn’t be precisely happy for her delay. She could cast a spell on them… but she didn’t like the idea of casting spells on her family. Raphael had remained silent as they walked, but she could perceive he was serene now. Adriel smiled and pulled her shawl on her shoulders. “There’s the house”, she said when the mansion came into view. Adriel and Raphael reached the tall iron-forged fence; the front yard lamps were on.
“Thank you and goodbye, Dr. Crawford.” the old lady said with a smile as she waved goodbye to the Clinton Crawford, a prestigious doctor in London.
“Goodbye, Mrs. Baker.” Clinton nodded as he turned and left and strolled down the street slowly. He hadn’t brought along his carriage tonight, as he had sensed familiar violent auras nearby. He recognized one of the more violent ones belonging to Raphael, an old friend who had turned enemy. Hatred and anger rose to his heart as he remembered Raphael… Waving his arm aside summoning his true form, Tabris’s wings spread and his armor revealed. He flew towards the pull of Raphael.
Tabris’s flying shadow above covered the lamp-light shining over Raphael and Adriel. Descending down from behind them, Tabris said in a tone meant to scare people, “Hello, both of you. Being a long time since we last met…”
Upon feeling Tabris approaching rather than upon hearing his voice, Adriel turned. Her first thoughts were about her family and that they could be harmed. Adriel murmured a spell and a veil fell on the human plane, banning human senses to perceive the angelic and demonic presences and acts. Adriel assumed her angelic form; her armor and robes became visible, as well as her wings. She stood next to Raphael. A shimmer of gold and red emanated from the blade-like image in her forearm and when she clasped her fist there were more than air in it.
Adriel didn’t reply. She simply looked at Tabris and got ready to fight back a possible attack.
‘Tabris…’ As the name echoed in Raphael’s mind, he remembered about the fallen angel before him. Tabris had been a respected and great angel, before he followed Lucifer and Lilith duering the Fall. Raphael pulled out his flute from his side slowly, and removed his magical dagger from it. “Be gone, Tabris,” Raphael warned, “Or you will regret it.”
The Fallen’s face darkened at Raphael’s words. “I’m no longer that Tabris you injured so easily that time, Raphael.” Tabris said darkly. Glancing at Adriel, he smiled, “Besides, I never really said I’m here to fight or anything, isn’t it? It seems like it’s you people who wants to fight me.” He smirked, standing there with his arms folded and waiting for a response.
“Have you ever heard about body language?” Adriel replied with a small smile. She seemingly relaxed, but she didn’t let her guard down.
“Oh, I’m sorry!” Tabris said in an exaggerated tone, “I thought I’m supposed to look friendly! I used to be an angel after all you know!” Smiling at Adriel and still eyeing Raphael out of the corner of his eyes, Tabris replied again, “Wanna come to my house for a little party? Or won’t you be a polite host and invite me in for a tea?” Nodding his head, Tabris smiled with a dark note to it, “I know that’s your human family inside, Adriel…”
Adriel didn’t let her smile leave her face. “You forget who I am. I’ll fight for them, and if it’s their time I’m prepared to receive their souls. It’s not the first time I do this, Tabris.” Adriel seemed more calmed now. Meeting Azrael earlier had got her closer to her true nature and her mission. “I wouldn’t invite you for tea. It’s way late.” She might be alluding at the time, or at his fallen angel condition, most likely both.
“I think you look down on me.” Tabris accused Adriel openly, enjoying the process. “What’s your problem? I can go to your room and have tea with you and not disturb your family. It’s not like you will die from exhaustion.”
Raphael looked up and scowled, “Can’t you tell when you are not wanted?” His hands still gripping on his dagger firmly and in position, he was not letting his guard down. “Leave now.”
“No. I’m not even asking you.” Tabris said stubbornly, his eyes looking at Raphael as if he was seeing some low-down beast. “I’m asking Adriel.”
“I’ve already given you my answer”, Adriel replied. “Any drink from my house wouldn’t be of your liking. Even if it were the finest wine it’d have the taste of unwelcome. It’s late and you ought to go back home – if you have any.”
Really, that was the last straw. Raphael snapped and without caring for Adriel’s own thoughts, his wings whipped open in an instant and in a split second, he was in front of Tabris. A glow was at the tip of his dagger and he swung it, attempting to slash Tabris down. Before the dagger could catch down on him, Tabris had flew backwards, half a meter away. With a smile, he mumbled some words and a glowing wire appeared in his hand. Without another word, Tabris whipped it towards Raphael. Raphael dodged quickly and got off unscathed. With a slight twist of his hand, the wire changed its direction and ran after Raphael. Before long, the tip of the wire caught one of Raphael’s wings, and the electricity within shocked him. The pain was so much that Raphael gave out a shout and his wings disappeared. He fell towards the ground.
Tabris smiled as his wire came back to him and wrapped itself around his hands. “So much for being the Head General Angel.” Tabris mocked, “You look down on others too much.”
Adriel’s wings moved slightly, but the impulse was enough to place her next to Raphael. The glow in her hands changed and formed a spear. Adriel held the spear with one arm half-way, her wings closed. The extreme of the long spear shielded the possible way to Raphael’s body. “I perceive you find personal pleasure in thinking you’re looked down at”, Adriel calmly said.
“Well, I don’t.” Tabris smiled, “I find personal pleasure in joking, Adriel, just in case your sense of humor doesn’t know I’m kidding just now.” Looking down at Raphael, Tabris’s smile widened, “Tsk tsk. He’s really a mess now, isn’t he?”
As Raphael lied on the ground defeated, his face was red hot with anger and shame, for Tabris was mocking him still. He had been taken by surprise as well, for Tabris didn’t have any weapon the last time they met. Tabris simply projected his powers by his hands, nothing more. Perhaps he was right, he was no longer the old Tabris. Raphael tried to get up, and hold onto Adriel’s shoulder lightly for support, in case he hurt her by using too much force. “You took me by surprise!” Raphael spat angrily, “I won’t lose to you that easily the next round!”
Adriel shifted her balance to keep her guard up and at the same time offer support to Raphael. Her left hand lowered slightly, ready to maneuver with the spear if necessary; she was holding the Blade of Life with her right arm. “I don’t like your jokes – even being Angel of Death”, Adriel replied, always calm. “Leave us.”
“You guys are boring, for angels.” Tabris laughed as he flapped his wings, “Sure, I will go. I don’t want hanging around with you too, just in case I get affected by your stupidity.” Spreading his wings, Tabris lifted into the air. “Goodbye and see you soon, Raphael!!!” Tabris shouted as he flied away.
Adriel didn’t let her guard down till she perceived Tabris had truly left. She gently pressed her fingers on the Blade of Life, and the weapon returned to its place within her body. Before pulling off the veiling spell, Adriel gently touched Raphael’s shoulder as he leaned on her.
“Please come in with me and have some rest. Tabris won’t leave London any time soon. He’s a doctor I believe.” Adriel shrugged slightly. “Not all his patients survive; I’ve heard rumors from others.” Adriel took her human form and shivered in the cold night air. “Let’s go inside.”
Raphael nodded his head as he followed Adriel into the house like an obedient puppy. His back and shoulders still stung with pain from the electricity. Adriel opened the house door with her keys. The lights were up in the hall. Adriel quietly led Raphael to the kitchen so she could check if he was wounded and at the same time offer some food or something to drink. “I’ll get you some tea and I’ll check if you’re wounded…”
The kitchen door opened and Sir Ethan appeared. He was very serious and not happy at all. He seemed about to express his discontent to his niece when he saw Raphael there, looking sore. Sir Ethan frowned. “What happened to you? Raphael, are you alright?”
Adriel bit her lip. She didn’t like to lie, but… “We were attacked on our way here. Raphael walked me home, uncle Ethan. I’m sorry we’re so late, but…” Adriel couldn’t finish her statement because her aunt entered the kitchen and hugged her like if she had been lost for days.
“Adriel! You were robbed? Raphael, are you alright?” Adriel was a bit embarrassed for all the attention. Her aunt prepared more tea and sir Ethan made sure Raphael was alright.
“Thank you for taking care of my niece, Raphael”, he said with a grateful nod. “It’s too late to go back home; if you wish you could stay in one of our guest rooms.” Adriel was concerned, for she was aware if Raphael was more than sore, human eyes might not perceive it. She stood next to her friend.
“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks for the concern, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar.” Raphael replied, his shoulders still feeling numb. Raphael reached up and rubbed his right shoulder. He couldn’t see it, but his shoulders where the bones are red, where the wings are hidden.
Adriel bit her lip in concern as Raphael reached up and rubbed his shoulders. At least seemed like the electric shocks hadn’t damaged his skin open. Her aunt gave Raphael some tea. Adriel was a bit nervous. She murmured a spell so her family would go to bed soon.
Her aunt stifled a yawn. “I’ll take you to your room, Raphael”, she said. Sir Ethan nodded. They guided Raphael to the bedrooms wing with Adriel following them close, all ruffled like a worried bird. Her aunt opened a door. She quickly checked the room was in order and the sheets were clean and fresh. A small bathroom was included in the room. Lady Oscar went out and returned with some bed clothes, like a shirt and other clean clothes. “These are Adriel brother’s, but they’ll serve you”, she gently said. Once Raphael was installed, the Oscars said goodnight. Adriel was about to say something, but her aunt hushed her out of the bedroom and they left Raphael alone. Adriel was frustrated. At least she knew Raphael would be fine. Her aunt sent her to her room. “You’ll see him tomorrow”, she said with a smile.
Raphael gave one last glance at Adriel and nodded at her as if trying to tell her that he was ‘okay’ and not to worry. Raphael lied down on the bed and found it too soft for him. He was used to having a hard bed, and a hard life. Raphael climbed down the bed and lied on the hard marble floor instead. He fell asleep in no time.
Adriel got Raphael’s message, which eased her worries some. Adriel blinked as her aunt hushed her down the hall and up the next flight of stairs into her bedroom. Adriel sighed and went to bed. Things could be really odd at times. Her family was convinced Raphael had saved her life and they were grateful for it. Adriel however, felt treated like a fragile porcelain doll. It was nice to feel cherished, but it was kind of sad at times. The girl hugged a pillow and remembered Azrael, the leader of the Angels of Life and Death. Adriel couldn’t imagine anyone treating Azrael like a porcelain doll. In fact, she couldn’t imagine anyone worrying about her. She was strong and old as Time; a mighty being whose nature no one quite understood. Thinking about this, Adriel fell asleep.
* * * * * * * * * *
Raziel alighted softly onto his balcony, Rishta cradled in his arms. He walked through the open double glass doors, a token of the esteem his patrons had for him. For all that they noticed he existed, except when it came to money. With any luck, they wouldn’t remember him now.
He shifted into his human form and laid Rishta on the bed, clearing books and parchment and placing them neatly on the bedside table, next to his notebooks and journals. He straightened her, and covering her with blankets, tucked her in. He picked up a few books he thought might interest her if she woke up before he returned and a glass of watered wine, and went in search of something for her to eat when she awoke. He was sure she would be hungry, seeing all the energy she had used.
Rishta could feel the wind when they flew, and the soft sheets when they arrived. However, she was oblivious to all of it, and all she could focus on was the images she was seeing.
Rishta could see her father and Raziel. They were talking, recalling the events. Raziel was writing some notes, and Rishta could see a book, it looked similar to his chain… and now he wasn’t wearing the chain! Could the book be the chain? Rishta made a mental note to ask him. They were talking about history and destiny, saying how they were similar. Then it faded again. She was then in a hidden room, years had past. Maybe even millenniums. “Azrael, I need your help…” Rishta’s father was saying… she then missed the rest. “No! I need to know…” But it was not meant to be for then she awoke.
“Where am I?” Rishta looked around, there were papers everywhere. She smiled, “Raziel…” But where were the others? Probably back with Raphael. Rishta then fell against the pillows, her head ached with a slight cold, one she had just caught. “Another vision… but this one was so long.” She then picked up a book and flipped through it and smiled. “Perfect…” She then began to read, waiting for Raziel to return.
Raziel walked into the door of his chambers with a tray in his arms. Through the wall, he could hear the soft scrape of pages being turned. He smiled, and walked through the entrance room, to his study, and into his bedroom. “I wasn’t sure if you would be awake so soon. I brought you food.” It was a simple meat broth, with thinly sliced meat and vegetables, brown bread, cheese, and milk. The cook’s favorite recipe for a cold. He laid it across her on the bed, and sat cross legged on an armless chair filled with cushions to watch her eat.
Rishta looked up as Raziel came in and smiled. She had to admit, this place looked more like a home then her own house did. She then began to gracefully eat the food, it tasted EXACTLY like her mother’s recipe… and was what she loved best. Her and her mother together by the fire. “Thank you Raziel…” Rishta then stopped, the vision coming back to her, like a wave against the shore. Make that a tsunami. She turned to Raziel, her mind reeling. “I have to ask you something. That pendant. Is it really a book?”
“Yes.” He waved his hand, allowing a simple Illusion of Air to come into being. It was of the Book of Knowledge; Sapentia, which would also become his staff. It was a large, ornate tome, with rich mahogany leather binding and golden gilt, and a beautiful lock made to look like the ring of life. The ‘book’ rotated slowly, transparent. It opened, its snow-white, crisp pages turning swiftly. “The Book of Knowledge contains all of the information and the histories of the world. However, only the Angel of Wisdom can read its pages. It passes from Angel to Angel. The Raziel before me gave it to me when I completed my training; he knew what I would become. It would have come into my hands sooner or later; it always goes to whom it belongs. Who knows; when I die, maybe it will go to you.” He would only die if he were destroyed; the powers let it be that there would be someone for it to go to when that happened.
“Such a huge responsibility.” Rishta looked at it, thinking, ‘There have been other Angels of Wisdom? I thought only Raziel had it…’ “Me? I hope not… and I doubt I will live past you. You forget, I have no idea how long my life span is.” Rishta finished her dinner and then got out of bed, and began to carry it away. “You should go to bed. You are more tired than I am. And I feel fine, just a slight headache. My visions never affect me for long, so go on. I’ll be fine.”
Raziel shook his head. He knew she was lying about her weariness; after all, she had expended enough of her energy that night to equal him in weakness. But she was right; he needed a rest. He slipped quietly into the ‘sulking room’ as it was called, and leaned back onto the brown leather couch, intending to take only a short nap. However, before he realized what had happened, sleep had slipped up on him and carried him away.
Rishta looked as Raziel left the room, looking as weary as she felt. She smiled, he was exhausted. She then put the dinner tray away outside, where a servant would come and pick it up. There should not be a problem with that. She then went inside, she was not tired, but restless. The vision was haunting her mind now, the images coming out in clear sharpness. “Maybe Raziel can help.” Rishta then went to his study and found a piece of blank paper and a pencil. Quietly she drew the scene of her dad and Azrael. Maybe she would see her again, and ask her about it. Before she knew it, she had dozed off in the chair, the drawing on her lap.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Raziel! Look at this!” The other angel held up an old, stained parchment. “I think this is our answer.” The old catacombs were damp, but the piece had miraculously survived. The piece of the puzzle that would allow them to seal their demon brethren away forever.
“I don’t like the looks of this, Raziel.” A blonde angel frowned up at him from a stack of books. “It’s too risky. We could all be sealed away with them.”
Raziel looked up from his side of the library desk. “It will have to be worth the price. We cannot let them take over!” No matter what. But he didn’t want to see them all sealed away to die. What would the point be?
Raziel woke with a start. What a day. What a life.
Rishta snapped out of her doze, her mind reeling. She had seen what Raziel had dreamed, and it made her uncomfortable. ‘Raziel knew how to kill the demons… but afraid of the risk. Why? Why did he let them go? Anything would have been better. No! You are being selfish! He had to die. Destiny said it, so you should stop it! I will not tell Raziel. He must choose to reveal it. Rishta then stood up and went to his balcony, and looked out. The night was growing old. “Why Raziel..? Why?”
‘It wasn’t right. The risk was too great… Sealing the angels away as well. But I can’t help but wonder, maybe the price was worth it. Now there is no help for it. I must wait for the demons to return in force before the ritual can be performed. I have to wait for the world to be destroyed in order to save it! For this, my soul must certainly be damned to wander the earth.’ He paced slowly around the sulking room. “Sometime the price is worth the reward… But sometimes it’s too late to pay.”
Rishta mulled over Raziel’s thoughts and she kept on hearing him. “Why does he continue to do this..?” Rishta then concentrated, and sent him a mental message. With the aid of her mother’s powers. //What is done is done Raziel. The demons were meant to come again and the angels were meant to be here to conquer them. And I refuse to believe you will actually destroy it all. And lock them away, maybe even the angels. So, you better hope this isn’t necessary. The world will not be destroyed. It may be injured, but never gone until it is Time. I know, Raziel – I know personally. You will never be left to wander because the rituals will -never- happen.// She hoped he would not be too shocked. After all, it was strange to be thinking and then mentally interrupted.
Raziel jerked as the telepathic message interrupted his brooding. He shook his head angrily, mad at himself for not shielding his thoughts and mad at Rishta for daring to read them. He knew he shouldn’t be angry; he was probably broadcasting his sulk to anything sensitive within the five league radius. But it was still the ethics of it. //What do you know of battles? How can you say the price wouldn’t be worth it? I’m not even sure we can put up a decent fight against the demons when they return. The archangels are scattered, resentful, weakened. We barely have a few Gathered here. The demons were once angels, as well. They all have angelic heritage! They are our brothers and sisters, as much as we refuse to acknowledge them. They are a mirror of us. We have our own Fallen, just waiting for corruption to twist their decaying souls. The demonic outnumber us. The ritual could be the last hope… As much as I despise it.//
Rishta was worried. Raziel seemed upset. Well, he was the one who had been projecting – quite loudly. And she was sensitive. So it wasn’t necessarily her fault. Nonetheless, she could not help but feel bad, yet she knew she had a point. //What do I know of battles? That is like saying “What do you know about Knowledge, Raziel?” I know plenty. I have fought a lot, witnessed pain, and suffering. Destiny is such that pain does happen. Mistakes are inevitable and death is simply a part of it all. And if the price is too much, then what is the point of the result? Having to suffer so much to get what you want – then is it worth it if you had to give so much? Everything has a price. Development has a price; knowledge has a price… even life and death have a price. So, no matter what you do, you will pay. But when the stakes are high, you do not bother – especially if there is some hope that it can be fixed. Anyways, the angels may be scattered, but they are joining together – today I met 5, including you… and in my life I have never met another one. Does that tell you anything?! And do you think I am dense? I know of our brethren, and their heritage. But they have strayed, and to protect all they formerly swore to protect we must fight. –I- acknowledge them, and I have no reason not to. They are our reflection, as they will always be, but that should never stop us. We will win, I –know- it. Do not ask how, I just know. Everyone must fall. Even us. Then we become them. Men fall, animals fall… what excuses us? Obviously nothing, as our failures have proven. They may outnumber us, but they do not have the pureness that they will need to win – we have it. And the ritual is our last hope… and I mean LAST. When there is no other option then it must be done… until then, we fight. We must always fight – it is our destiny.// Rishta then looked into the house, mellow. She was sorry she had said so much, some of it not so nice, but it had to be said. “Please understand… we have no option.”
“Of course we always have choices. I’ve made mine. You’ve made yours. And I decided not to pay the price… This time. You are lucky you didn’t witness the Wars.” He turned his back to her, facing a wall of books. He pondered for a moment. Should it be? Yes. He pulled out a book on all of the angelic lore he had collected, and opened a specific page. He turned and handed it to Rishta. A sword stood out on the first page, beautifully drawn and wreathed in white roses and blood tipped thorns. Peace in death.
“The Wars must have been terrible.” Rishta said, walking back in, toward the bookshelf. “Raziel… I am sorry about that little speech. I got carried away. I should have known that you would have knowledge like this… a burden. I am very sorry I went on like that.” She then accepted the book and looked at it: a sword with a wreath of roses. Peace in death. Did such a thing exist? Angels probably were peaceful. Their death was for the greater good. Demons. Never a moment of calm in their afterlife. She had seen the tortures they went through. Sometimes, it could be terrible. “Peace when there is none left in the mortal world. I wonder…” Rishta then broke off, this image alone was enough to hurt her. It reminded her of her father. Was he at peace? ‘God, I hope so. Be at rest father.’ She then closed the book and handed it back, her face, emotionless.
Raziel placed the book back on the shelf carefully, then pulled another leather bound volume. This one was sheathed in blue hide, of some unidentified beast. Raziel had his suspicions. He opened the tome about halfway through. It contained a hand drawn embellishment of a very familiar sword. Next to it was an elegant script, explaining further details. He knew Rishta would recognize it. He handed to her silently, his eyes knowing.
Rishta took this book and saw a sword. Not any sword: THE Sword… she then put the book down on a table, sighing. This was never going to stop torturing her. However, at the same time, it was a blessing. She then pulled the sword from its sheath, as placed it on the table, looking at it. No matter what the light, it seemed to shine – a true angel weapon. “Raziel. Now what do you want me to see? Why is it you show me the weapons’ history and powers, when I know them all? Why?”
“Perhaps because you do not know the full history, and you do not know his and yours full potential.” He picked up the book, closed it, and handed it to her. “Take this home with you, and read it. It reveals much about the history of almost all of the angelic weapons, including those of the Fallen.” Turning, he walked out to the balcony to greet the morning sun. The night had passed quickly. It was time for Rishta to return home, before her servants sent out the Watch.
Rishta accepted the book: it was time for her to go. “See you later…” She then flew off, toward her home. She needed to read this later.
Raziel watched Rishta leave, and decided that now was a good time to place a watch-and-ward spell on her. It would help him make sure she remained safe. “Eyes that see, hearts that bind, keepers of soul, hers in mind’s eye.” That ought to allow him to find her if she was attacked, and hopefully to offer some protection until he could arrive. He turned away from the balcony and back into his rooms, where he began to erase all traces of angelic inhabitance. You could never be too careful.