It was late evening by the time both women had return to the manner. Anastasia had not ceased her chattering all afternoon; one moment demanding to return home to the comfort of their home, the next wanting to walk the streets and socialize. The day had been exhausting, as any day was with Anastasia. Autumn tiredly pulled her cloak from her shoulder and rested it along one of the plush Victorian seats in the main lounge.
“Where is my dinner, child? Did you think you could starve the life out of me like you did my son?” Anastasia hissed with a bitter raspy voice. The old crone took her favorite seat next to the fire place, wrapping a faded black shawl around her knees. Autumn resisted the sharp retort that the women needed all that heat to keep her cold heart from freezing her to the spot… Her weariness was taxing her patience, so she thought it best to prepare dinner and send her mother in law off to bed as quickly as possible.
“I just wanted to be sure you were situated, Stasia. I’ll prepare dinner.” Autumn sighed as she turned away and left for the kitchens. The old Riktophen Manor was only the English home of the Riktophen’s and was far less bone chilling than the one in Hungary. Autumn had always preferred staying here than in the old castle of he late husband’s, and never protested when Anastasia suddenly felt the need to be sociable with English society. However she often wished they had a servant staff available. It seemed no matter how many people Autumn hired, the staff would not last longer than a week. Women would be driven away near batty, and the men… the men just seemed to vanish without even a simple notice. Between running the household on her own and Anastasia’s insane banter, there was rarely a spare moment for rest. Even sleep did not come lightly. The constant worry that Anastasia was up to another trick to be rid of her daughter in law. Autumn promised herself that she would take time for herself tomorrow afternoon. Perhaps take her camera out to the park for a few photographs.
Anastasia sat back in the plush chair, musing over the night’s murderous conquest. If she planned her assault just right, she could slip a bit of poison in the food and be rid of her son’s whore once and for all. The thought brought a chilling smile to her face. In the fireplace, the flames crackled and popped drawing her gaze to the bright orange light. A feather soft breeze seemed to caress her face, though there were no windows open in the home. Anastasia narrowed her eyes as she concentrated her gaze in to the flames. She sensed a presence. Something most powerful, though it seemed it wished her no harm.
As if on cue, a sultry near soothing voice seemed to speak from the flames directly in her mind. //The woman is a bother, is she not? Anastasia Riktophen?//
The old crone merely shrugged a shoulder, the soft smile still splashed across her lips. She felt no need to speak allowed and alert the whore of her conversations. //She is. My son’s whore. Killed my beloved and refuses to die to rid me of my pain.//
Cinders from the fire crackled again, rising up through the chimney. //That is indeed a curse on you.// The voice chuckled softly in Anastasia’s mind. //Wouldn’t it be a lovely thing to return your dear son?//
Anastasia’s heart skipped three beats at the suggestion. Her son returned to the living, back to her ever-loving arms. The whore would have to be removed before his return, but this chance! Elated as she was, Anastasia was a suspicious woman. //It would be my heart’s desire. However, what price would this old woman have to pay…?//
The voice gave a bell-like laugh and the flames in the fireplace seemed to dim to a low glow. //Anastasia… you would be granted all the powers of my possession… your son would too be granted an incredible power. All I require is simply your body and the body of your son…//
Her eyes narrow and her smile faded only a slight bit. The spirit meant possession, the old crone knew of such a thing well. The black arts of necromancy and souls were no strange thing to her. The offer was a tempting one. Power and her son returned to the living. Such a feat would be a grand one, no mere beast could accomplish such a thing. //Who are you, spirit…?//
//I am Lilith.//
“‘Stasia, dinner has been prepared. Will you have it in the dinning room or would you prefer that I take it to your room?” Autumn entered the room and interrupted the woman’s mental conversation. She quizzically looked at her mother in law. She was staring so intensely in to the fire, Autumn was almost sure he mind was finally lost for good.
“Do not interrupt my thoughts, girl!” Anastasia hissed in reply. The spirit’s identity had shaken her, and the young chit had entered at the most inopportune time! “Take it to my rooms and be gone from my sight!” she spat again, pointing a crooked old finger towards the door.
Autumn raised a curious, almost suspicious eyebrow at the old women. She hesitated only a moment before resigning to leave. Giving the crone one last odd look she exited the room to do as Anastasia requested.
Anastasia rose from her seat, the black shawl falling from her knees to the floor. Gliding across the floor as if she were walking on air, she stopped near the burning fire and stared deep within the embers. //Lilith. Quite an honor indeed to be so graciously offered such a gift by one so great.//
The fires hushed low once again, hissing a soft reply. //We seek the same things, Anastasia. The return of our sons. Accept my offer and have everything you desire.// The room was deadly silent as the flame’s spirit waited. Only the quiet breathing and swish of silk skirts was heard as the crone stepped back from the flames, arms lightly crossed.
* * * * * * * * * *
Frost was in the streets, talking and laughing with her friends. They were making fun of a tied-up teenager boy who had tried to pick her up. The teenager looked fearful as he listened to the girls chat about how they would deal with him. “Look at yourself in the mirror and see how ugly you are!” Frost sneered, “Try a girl your own status the next time around, idiot!”
“Yeah!” Jessy, a girl with messy hair sniggered, “You are not fit for Frost! She’s so smart and rich! Who do you think you are?” The girls laughed and each gave the poor guy a kick in the stomach.
“Forget about treating me to a drink, pauper. I will treat you to one instead.” Frost said, giggling. Opening the bottle of rum in her hand, she poured its contents down on to the head of the boy. The group of girls laughed again. Coughing, the boy glared at Frost but she paid him no heed. She slapped the cheek of the boy gently and opened another bottle in front of him. Sniffing the contents, she turned up her nose and smiled instead. “Hmm… Extra strong hydrochloric acid. I think you will love it on your face, huh?” The boy paled as he began shouting for help. “Keep still!” the girls shouted as they held the boy tight and shut his mouth by gagging him. They glanced and grinned at Frost who returned the mischievous look. She tilted the bottle and prepared to pour the contents over the boy’s head.
A shadow outlined from the darkness deep in the alley. A figure stepped out, entirely as it had formed from the darkness: a woman clad in a black armor, her white silky robes hems fluttered slightly as if the breeze was blowing from behind her, yet the air was cold still. The woman’s eyes shimmered as full of tiny stars yet they were cold as ice. Shadows moved about her, and mighty wings could be seen… two… four… maybe more. The archangel had her cold gaze fixed on Uriel; she was visible to her only. Azrael raised her hand and a heavy book appeared and opened. She laid her hand on the Book of Life and watched the girl. Azrael seemed to wait for her to kill the boy to erase his name from the lists of the living. In her hand she had a feather to write the name in the lists of the dead. Azrael watched, unnervingly. Did she really expect the girl to kill an innocent? Her stern face didn’t reveal her thoughts.
Frost turned and stared at Azrael, her eyes blank, not betraying any emotion. She was started to say ‘hi’ to her old friend but Jessy’s irritating shrill voice interrupted her. Frost turned back and remembered her task. The wicked smile came back again and it was a surprise that it didn’t seem evil. Despite what she was going to do next, she still looked awfully cute and innocent, with her angelic mischievous smile. The mere thought of it sent shudders through her friends’ spines. The boy’s eyes nearly popped out as Frost cocked the bottle and started pouring the acid down.
A blood-curdling scream echoed in the streets as the sizzling sounds were heard. The boy had tore through the gag and was madly in pain. Frost laughed and the girls chuckled nervously, looking away in disgust and fear. Not out of the sight, but of Frost. “Go away.” Frost shooed Jessy and the other girls away who went away almost elated to escape the sight. Frost was left alone with the ill-fated boy and his destroyed face. He was already half-dead, and fading away fast. Her smile faded away too as she placed her right hand upon the boy’s forehead. Mumbling a spell, a light glowed softly and the boy regained normal breathing, though he would still perish, his pain would not be as great. “That’s all I can do.” Frost whispered coldly, “Let this be a punishment to you.” She stood up, looked at Azrael for a moment before turning off to join her friends.
Azrael watched the girls leave, and then Uriel left as well. With a single sweep of the feather she held, she erased the boy’s name from the book. The book’s leaves turned, and the archangel wrote the name in the lists of the dead. The boy’s soul shimmered and joined the strange shimmer in the wings of the archangel. Azrael closed the book, and it vanished. It wasn’t convenient that Uriel gained notoriety right now; if she’d raise a scandal, the demons and their allies would notice her faster. The search had begun and the archangels were gathering the angels. Azrael opened her wings to leave the alley.
Frost rejoined her group of friends, the girls asking what became of the boy. She smiled and said nothing. The silence was enough, they knew the boy was a gone case. The girls went to their usual hideout, a slum somewhere in London. Slipping into an abandoned house, they engaged in taking drugs, an activity which Frost abhorred. Yet she stayed with the girls because she knew they needed someone to care for them, and she would be the one. Walking to one of the small windows, Frost looked at the house adjacent to theirs and frowned. It radiated an invisible light of an angel. And a strong and powerful archangel. ‘Does an archangel live here?’ Frost wondered. ‘If he or she does…’ She considered waiting for the other archangel to come home and give him a surprise with her sudden appearance. She smiled at the thought. For a moment, she wondered if it were her crush Gabriel… She hadn’t seen him for eons and she missed him terribly. The girls behind her groaned and moaned. Frost turned and tended to them, touching their foreheads gently. Their convulsions from a night of too much booze and drugs stopped and they started breathing normally again, dozing off. Frost her felt exhausted and dozed off as well. She had too much use on her powers tonight.
Azrael rose above the rooftops, soaring into the night sky. The soul had taken refuge in her warm feathers, beating like a tiny songbird. It was a mystery to most angels what did the angels of Death do with the souls, and Azrael never felt like telling. The death rate in London was high, especially in the White chapel lane – not by numbers but by headlines in the local newspapers. Jack the Ripper was getting close to finish his quota of deaths; then Azrael would claim his soul. Azrael scanned the city. She perceived both angelic and demonic presences, and also the spawn of demons. She stood among the statues of a huge gothic church facade, in the light of the stained-glass rosette. Angels and archangels had been in the place. Azrael continued her flight through the night. She was used to be alone. Fear Itself her brethren called her, and she did not complain. After all, it was her who had given angels and their counterparts the power to kill their brethren.
Azrael reached a ruined part of the city. The buildings were deteriorated and some of them were reduced to hovels. Some still had wooden tiles, while others had ceramic and mineral tiles; the walls were ripped and the very place smelled to poverty, but poverty stained with degradation. Some dogcarts stumbled under the grim gas street lamps. The air smelled of opium. Many humans were addicted to this eastern drug, and the opium houses had spawned along the riverside. When the customers died, the owners would simply open a dissimulated door to the river and toss the bodies into the waters in the depth of the night. Standing on a rooftop, invisible, Azrael turned to the other side, where a fresher air blew. People died in their beds in the wealthier side of the city; but there they were not safe from assassins and evil. Many of the residents of the uptown were smoking opium right down the street.
“Oh.” Uriel. She was in the house Azrael stood on. She perceived also the trace of an archangelic presence; maybe an archangel lived in the neighborhood. Azrael frowned ever so slightly. If Uriel didn’t insist on healing her friend’s bodies, they would have died of overdose long ago. Why to prolongate the agony of their bodies, the ruin of their souls? Azrael didn’t understand it, but she simply assumed it was egoism. Uriel didn’t want to be alone. Just out of curiosity, Azrael shape shifted into a black cat. She skipped down the roof and chimneys and found her way down, to the windows of the house. The black cat sat on a windowsill and watched the girls and Uriel, conveniently out of reach. Girls had the annoying custom of petting cats. She licked her paw and cleaned her face, taking a short rest while watching them. Azrael left the window after a few minutes and skipped her way down to the alley. She left the cat form and stood in the shadows.
With a sigh, Raphael’s large wings flapped open and he rose into the skies, flying away, leading the rest of the angels to his house. They didn’t fly for long when they reached the slum of London. Raphael glided down gently onto the ground closing his wings. Then he noticed the dark figure outside his neighboring house. Azrael, he realized.
Adriel let the shawl fall from her shoulders and then held it in her arms. Her wings spread, and she silently and swiftly followed Raphael. She dived down and amazingly reduced her speed as if she suddenly were as light as a feather. Without a noise, she landed next to Raphael and closed her wings. Adriel immediately raised her eyes towards the familiar presence of the archangel of Death and Destruction. Could be the environment or the archangel, but the place had a gloomy air to it. The street was dark and deserted, barely lighted by a dim gas streetlamp. The cobblestone shimmered, wet and with muddy spots; but to angelic eyes a silhouette was visible outside of one of the deteriorated buildings.
Azrael laid her cold gaze upon the newcomers; one of the presences matched the angelic mark on the house she had noticed earlier: it was Raphael’s presence. Azrael watched him. He was strangely different from the archangel she had known – weaker, with a sort of shell about him, made of held back anger and angst. Adriel was with him: watchful and caring. Other angels were to come with them. Azrael was a little surprised. She had perceived Michael and Gabriel in London; she wondered why they were coming to her and not to them. She stood in the edge of the shadows and greeted them with a slight nod.
Jessy turned and tossed on the cool hard stone floor. She couldn’t sleep well with the nightmares she kept deep within her. At first, her dreams consisted of nothing but complete darkness and smoke whizzing around creepily… And now, she dreamed of demons chasing after her. Jessy couldn’t tell why she had the bad feelings, she felt like a ghost in the world… like she did no longer exist. Everything seems so illusionary to her, ever since she had a convulsion three months ago. But Frost was there and when she awoke, Frost was taking care of her, looking absolutely exhausted. Jessy had asked, but Frost didn’t want to say much. Jessy assumed the girl didn’t trust her enough. She wanted to comfort her friend, but couldn’t find a way. Frost was too detached from the world and from her. She seemed so very different from the rest of the people she ever knew.
Now, Jessy was seeing blood and gore in her dreams again. Those awful looking demons… It was like her soul had been wandering and they were out there, waiting to catch her. Yet they seemed hesitant to approach her and she felt protected… But a horrible-looking demon came forever and lunged towards her, and she felt as if she had been ripped apart. Jessy screamed. She didn’t know why, but the first person who came to her mind was Frost, her only friend in the world. “FROST!!” Jessy cried out as she shot up in a sitting position. Frost woke up immediately, shocked by Jessy’s upset and frightened manner. She looked like she was ready to cry. The other girls merely stirred in their deep sleep. Who knew what they are dreaming about? They were much more intoxicated than Jessy and Frost knows their end was near, and she could save them no longer. She was happy that she managed to make Jessy smoke less and she was safe from death… for now.
“What’s happening to you… Are you alright, Jessy?” Frost asked, hugging her poor friend in comfort. Suddenly, Frost felt a cool and angelic breeze in the air. Whichever archangel lives near, was back and she could feel it. Back with a couple of angelic friends too. Good. Jessy was sobbing quietly now. Though a lot calmer than before, Frost was hesitant to leave her friend behind to meet the angels, knowing that Jessy would become hysterical. She stayed there, and hoped Jessy would fall back asleep.
Rishta flew from the open window, the wind a consoling friend. When they landed, she stepped back into a shadow. Someone else was here and she wasn’t sure whom. Her friends wouldn’t betray her, but this new one might. She then saw Azrael, and found that the stories had been true: she was like the moon. However, she was still cautious and only offered a slight nod for a greeting. She was very nervous.
From the edge of the shadows, Azrael looked at Rishta. She greeted her with a slight nod. The girl was a scared half-angel; in her manner Azrael saw she trusted Adriel and Raphael. A scream rang across the night; it came from the window Azrael had just left. The archangel of death didn’t react at the sound, for it was of minor importance. Azrael’s feathers and the hems of her robes fluttered slightly, yet the air was still.
Raphael looked at Azrael coolly as he looked over to the windowsill. He couldn’t get a clear look but he was sure that an archangel is inside the neighboring house. Looking back at Azrael, he gave a ‘what are you doing here’ scowl at her.
Azrael noticed Raphael’s look and a kind of amusement shimmered in the depth of her eyes. “Welcome back”, Azrael said, her lips faintly curling to a wry smile.
Welcome back? The words were kind, but has a hollow meaning to Raphael. How meaningful could it get, when he was all alone? Living anywhere was the same for him. He was still that lonely. Raphael stared at Azrael and replied slowly, “What are you doing here..?”
Azrael tilted her head to the side slightly, her eyes still shimmering strangely. “I always have work to do”, she replied. “I am on my round. What are you doing here? Michael is on Earth. The gathering has begun.”
“Home, can’t you see?” Raphael said coldly. Looking at the house, Raphael asked, “Who’s in there?” Raphael felt like complaining about Michael and Gabriel’s absence and had the urge to ask if their time was up soon, but wisely kept his mouth shut.
Azrael’s eyes narrowed. “That was a rhetorical question”, she said, condescending. “Uriel is in that house. It’s not the first time she visits the place, just in case you had not noticed.” Azrael stepped out of the shadows but she remained in the twilight; the gold writings on her armor looked like threads of fire.
While this exchange was going on, Rishta stood and folded her wings upon her back. She could hear Raphael’s chosen coolness and this moon angel’s. What could she call it? She was laid back. Confident, cool, calm, serene… the list could go on. However, Rishta was not afraid. On the outside she might be a bit nervous, but on the inside she knew she wasn’t afraid. All, but not her, feared Azrael. She never would allow death to embrace her with fear. Destiny was unbothered and the sooner she learned that, the better. With a breath, Rishta stepped out of the shadows and looked to the house with the scream. Something was going on. When Michael was mentioned, she was curious but didn’t care. Something else was on her mind and obviously on Raphael’s.
Azrael’s cold gaze fell on Rishta. She perceived something defiant in the half-angel – the same kind of defiance humans had towards death. The corner of her lip curled slightly. One of her most dreaded powers as Archangel of Death and Destruction was Fear; Fear she infused in the souls at will and a tool she used precisely to save their lives till the right moment came. However, it had been proven to be unwise to think the Archangel of Death and Destruction, Keeper or the Book of Life and Death to all beings was not one to be feared. Not even destiny was away from her influence – especially it. The Archangels look over Destiny – it is their task. Azrael’s wings moved slightly. It seemed that many eyes shimmered in the feathers, but the next instant, the eyes were not there to be seen. “Uriel is not alone”, she pointed out. “She has friends with her.”
Rishta couldn’t help but feel wrong about her beliefs. Destiny… wasn’t that influenced? No. Her father was not changed by anything! Neither would she. ‘But your father died, did he not? He too…’ No! Rishta told the voice. Father was never like that! ‘You never knew him… how could you know?’ Shut up! Shut up! Rishta then shook her head. Her mind being flooded with memories. Rishta then looked right at the cold eyes. She would not be wavered. You may know my weaknesses. My past. My life. But I will not fall. Never. My father didn’t and neither will I. Never… Rishta then looked at her wings. Ever changing, like life and death. This angel was a force to be reckoned with. She had a question. But not now. When the time was right.
Azrael watched Rishta as the half-angel got nervous and shook her head, trying to shove away her thoughts and feelings. Then Rishta raised her eyes and looked at Azrael, a shimmer of defiance in her eyes. Azrael had a wry smile, immutable. “Do not feel disturbed, Rishta”, the archangel coolly but gently spoke to the shaken girl, aware of the conflict within the half-angel. She knew her name from the book, when she wrote it when Rishta was conceived. “I am not your enemy, nor I am here to take anything from you right now.”
Raziel wrapped strands of air around his angelic body, concealing his form from sight. He then twisted the strands, making them undetectable to immortal sense. He had picked up more than a few tricks along the road; he knew, however, that Azrael would detect him. She had retained the most memory; she remained unchanged. The other angels had lost a few things in time. He released the Tome of Knowledge from his body and opened it. No matter where he opened it, the page would always remain blank unless he willed otherwise. He, and he alone of the angels, knew its secrets. He began to write the next histories of the age.
“I am not afraid that you will take something from me now. I am more concerned on what you have already taken.” Rishta then looked at Azrael, even though she felt afraid, she admired her. It couldn’t be an easy life, being in charge of life and death itself. Finally, she shoved away the fear and took hold of reality. That was something she was very good at. Now curiosity took hold of her, and she really began to ponder life. And especially death. Maybe this angel could help her. She then felt something change in the air… someone had arrived. She felt a presence… and this was only because she was paranoid. Rishta then realized who it was: Raziel. She had wondered what had taken him so long to get here. However, no matter what, she wasn’t sure if he was really there. She became even more paranoid, and decided to find out. She outstretched her hand, reaching for the area where she felt he was. If he was there, she should touch something.
Raziel looked up as Rishta began feeling for his presence. ‘So, she’s more sensitive than I realized. She would have been a worthy student… But there is no time, now. No time. In all eternity, we cannot find the time…’ He realized his mind was wandering. Before she could sense him, he folded his being further inward so that he was no longer materially there. She would have been a worthy student.
Azrael’s lip curled slightly in amusement. “Concerned on what I have taken? What’s written is done, and it doesn’t need to be discussed.” Azrael looked up into the sky. The heavenly bodies continued on their dance, and the night was growing old. A sword and a dying angel shimmered on her memories. Azrael perceived Raziel’s arrival. She could in fact see him and even hear the immaterial pen write on the immaterial pages of his tome. However, her gaze didn’t follow him – Azrael knew well he did not need to be detected or interfere in the development of the events he registered in his Book. Most of the time, at that. Azrael herself would be more comfortable at being a watcher, pulling the treads under her care from afar, but the present situation made the archangels walk the earth once again – they had traced this path. Lone and dark, Azrael would rather remain distant; her rank however didn’t let her remain so.
The archangel watched the half-angel. She clearly perceived the girl could not entirely perceive whom she was talking to, due to her half-ling nature. She had the typical defiance of humans to all related to death and loss of existence – yet humans have a fascination towards death and its secrets. Azrael decided to wait and see what oniric questions this girl might have – when she gave in to her human side. Rishta reached out trying to touch Raziel – Rishta perceived him before he went deeper into his spell, when he was materially there no more. Like a moth to the flame, Rishta reached out trying to grasp things that were beyond her present understanding. And, why not? She was young; a blank page to be filled. Azrael’s face seemed sculpted in marble. Uriel was taking long to come out. Azrael folded her wings, one pair on the other and seeing Raphael silent, her gaze turned to Adriel. “What did Michael tell you?”, she asked.
Adriel, who had been watching the whole scene, gave a step forward when addressed by Azrael. “He said he was only here to gather us, and nothing more…”, she respectfully informed. “Gabriel The Messenger was with him.” Adriel was concerned about Rishta’s reaction to the sight of Azrael. It was a normal reaction, but her protective nature and the fact Rishta was her new friend added to her natural concern. She wondered if Uriel would be meeting them. Raphael was silent and Adriel was concerned about him, too. Rishta’s behavior made her wonder what was the girl seeing. It was not a ghost or spirit, for Adriel would see it; it wasn’t a demonic entity or Azrael and Raphael would have interfered; who or what was there? Maybe Raziel had followed them and had set to work. Adriel’s memory was intact, and her awareness sharpened as her time to fully assume her angelic duties grew closer.
Rishta then grabbed the air, feeling for something she could not touch. She then to where Raziel’s eyes would be and smiled: he didn’t fool her, she knew he was there. She then gave up, and turned toward the rest. Rishta then turned to Azrael and looked at her in the eyes, she needed to know: “Azrael, I understand that this is not my place, and that you might wish to hide the truth, but I need to know one thing. You know about my father… the one who owned this…” she then showed the pendant, and it glimmered in the moonlight, showering all of them with bits of light, “I just need to know…. is he at rest? Is he at peace?” she then trailed off, but still looked at the angel. She then stopped, and waited for her answer, absorbing all this information all the while.
Frost ignored the voices outside as she tended to Jessy and her other friends. The girls were so hooked that they couldn’t kick their foul habits. Frost squealed when the girl beside Jessy gave her a pull at her dress. Oh god… she was foaming by the mouth now! Frost began to get nervous. She put her hand to the girl’s forehead shaking and a weak glow shined. It went off after a few seconds and Frost felt as if the earth was spinning. She knew that she had already exhausted her powers earlier and now the girl would be beyond her help. Frost struggled to get up, and she stumbled to the door flimsily. She was feeling uncomfortable but well… “Will any of you call for a doctor!? Someone is dying!” Frost called out, not giving Azrael’s job a damn.
Raziel recorded the events carefully and faithfully in the Book, occasionally adding an illustration in the tapestry of history. These would be cornerstones in the path the world took for a time; he would be sure to capture these moments. He would capture all moments, even up to his own last. As the young girl came out, Uriel he knew, he felt the urge to help. But although he knew more of Healing than most alive (Air and water, earth and spirit… Weave the flows in time with the heart… Bringing back from the brink of death, such was art…) such was not his duty. As Azrael would not interfere with him, he would not interfere with her. Until time it became necessary. He would not allow the demons to take over, even if he had to rewrite the past.
Azrael nodded slightly. “Thank you”, she said to Adriel. “The time is near for you.” This last phrase she said in a gentle tone, but it sounded like a warning.
Frost was calling out from the door. Azrael didn’t move, but she looked at Adriel, then at the house. After this brief signal, she turned to Rishta and her questions. Azrael laid her cold gaze on Rishta; a myriad of tiny stars shone in the deep, immense dark of her eyes: each star was alone, immutable. “There are things that are not to be revealed at the present Time”, Azrael simply said. “I’ll tell you this.” Azrael made a pause before continuing. “The answer is in your hands. To be at rest is his exclusive decision – to be at peace is beyond his reach, but in your power.” After giving this cryptic reply, the archangel tightened her lips ever so slightly. Since it was a well-known fact that nothing happened in relation to Life or Death without her authorization, Azrael didn’t mention the fact that she was involved.
Adriel’s heart sank. She knew what Azrael meant, for she had been dreading this warning – her duties as Angel of Death called for her, and she’d have to leave the loving family she had found in the Oscars to go back to her rank and duties. She heard Uriel’s call and got the signal from Azrael to go. Without a word, Adriel complied. She heard Azrael’s words to Rishta and the enigma she released. Adriel had foreseen some by herself, but she quickly left, knowing she wasn’t allowed to tell anything on the matter.
As she climbed the steps to the house entrance to meet Uriel, Adriel clearly perceived the agonizing girl was beyond healing reach. Once inside, she saw the girl was convulsing, foam on her pale lips and her eyes lacking of expression. To human eyes, Adriel looked like a girl – but to Angelic eyes, she was different. Adriel turned to Uriel, her face serene but her eyes gentle and sad. “She’ll die”, she told her. “We can take her to the hospital, so she won’t die in this place at least…” She tied a knot in a handkerchief and put it in the girl’s mouth so she wouldn’t bite her own tongue and gently held her so the girl wouldn’t hurt herself more. “Let us go!”
“No! I won’t let them die! Not any of them!” Frost said fiercely. They were her only friends! The only people who would play and hang around with her! She was not leaving them, neither was she going to allow them to leave her! “I will… save them if none of you will!” Frost said as she stepped towards her friend. Suddenly, a splitting headache attacked pierced her head and she had to stop to hold on to the wall for support. She felt ill.
Adriel gently put the agonizing girl’s hair out of her eyes, holding her like a mother would. The convulsion was quieting down, the energy dimmed in her frail body. As Uriel leaned against the wall, Adriel decided there was no time to take the girl somewhere else. The other three girls were unconscious. Adriel’s aura grew, warm and comforting; angelic eyes could see her wings spread above her and the girl’s heads. Adriel told her words of peace and rest. The girl’s body relaxed and she seemed to sleep. Adriel then rose her hand and a light shone through her hand like fire shines through a white seashell: it was the Blade of Life under the form of light in her hand. Adriel placed her hand above the girl’s heart and the soul flowed to her hand and took refuge in it, glowing like a firefly. The girl had passed away. Adriel closed the girl’s eyes. Her soul she placed in her wings, where it’d be safe for its journey. Adriel laid the body on the bed nearby.
Outside, standing some steps away from the others, Azrael opened her Book of Life and Death; with a feather she erased the girl’s name from the list of the living and then wrote the name on the list of the dead; as she did, the girl died under the archangel’s power. Adriel had made her transition to death a peaceful one. Azrael checked a couple details in the Book, then closed it. The Book vanished. Azrael frowned slightly. Her wings moved as impatient to fly; she had spent a lot of time there already; however, the Archangel of Death and Destruction waited for Adriel to come back with the soul.
Raziel entered the seemingly trivial event of the human child’s death into the Tome in what might have been a moment of pity or a moment of gratuitous foresight. Uriel’s outburst also did not go unnoticed. Poor child. He could feel Azrael’s impatience and Adriel’s compassion. Two such opposite angels, but the same mission. I wonder if we shall meet the other angels of death? It was a possibility. He wondered where Michael had gone.
Rishta looked at the angel, her eyes showing some confusion, but her mind was working on the message. In her hands? The pendant had no soul in it… only the…sword. That was it. She dropped the necklace, so it fell against her neck, and reached into the folds of her dress. Inside the folds of her dress, invisible to all other eyes, was a scabbard. She drew her sword, glimmering in the moonlight. It was made of a diamond-silver alloy, and the hilt was embedded with blue topaz, the biggest the size of an egg, right at the end. To all eyes it would seem that it came from the dress itself, but that was not of anyone’s concern. She then sat on a bench in the street, and laid the sword on her lap and stared at it.
“I understand you can’t tell everything, but I thank you for the information you have given.” Rishta said, still looking at the weapon. She had felt when the girl had died, but that was destiny… and she refused to change what was destined… she never knew what could happen. She then went back to the message… and then it clicked, with a horrible realization. ‘His decision… he wasn’t at rest because of her! He… he wanted to protect her. Teach her… and so he had.’ She stifled a sob, but a tear slid out, a tear that looked like diamond and silver… the same materials the sword was made of. ‘It was all because of her! Only her… but the peace? In her power?’ Maybe it meant she wasn’t to use it… but that was impossible… he had wished it. Maybe only an angel of Death could control that fate… but, nonetheless, he wasn’t at rest… all because of her… only her… This information was too much. In one day she had faced all her fears, her realizations… and she wished she hadn’t. The only thing that made it worth it was her new friends… Rishta though, couldn’t control her emotions… it was too much. Silently, one could see she was broken. She bowed her head, and looked at the sword as it shone. Her destiny… suffering… and she was powerless to change it… her father could, but not her. She felt vulnerable, exposed. Silently she thought life out, and wished she could change history…
Upon seeing Rishta’s reddening eyes, Raphael patted her on the back in comfort. Taking a few steps forward, Raphael spoke out as if to nothing, though the words were clearly directed at Frost. “They are all poisoned by drugs. Just let them die and end their suffering. What kind of a friend are you to prolong their suffering by letting them live on?” Raphael said bluntly, yet truthfully to Frost. Not caring the consequences of the words it would have on the archangel.
Frost swirled around upon hearing the voice. “Is that you, Raphael?!” she demanded, recognizing the voice of an old comrade in the archangel ranks, “Thanks a lot for your words of ‘consolation’! I need no reprimandation from you! I know exactly what I’m doing and I want!” Shaking her fist, Frost cried out at him again, “So now butt out of my business! You are always such a busybody! Remember that’s how your sister died?! Because you are a…!!!!” Frost realized her mistake and shut her mouth immediately. Face red and heart heavy with guilt that she had just hit Raphael’s weakest point.
Adriel placed her hand upon her chest, feeling the warmth of the soul safe in her wings, shimmering beneath her feathers. She rose after placing the body on the bed and right then heard Raphael’s voice outside, followed by Uriel’s caustic reply. Adriel winced slightly. //Why to hurt each other?//, she thought. She walked over to the exit and stood in the threshold looking at both Uriel and Raphael. Her wings, visible to angelic eyes only, were four, strong and spread, gleaming with inner light; her aura shone upon her as an halo of golden light.
“Let there be peace!”, she softly said. “Souls depart from this world for that was meant to be since the very day they come into Existence. We’ve had the blessing of the love of these souls; let our blessings be for them, instead of exchanging bitter words in the moment of their departure. Love and memories endure, and these you should not forget. Let there be peace, for those who love you do not want you to be unhappy or to keep bitter memories.” Adriel closed her wings. She descended the front porch steps and walked over to Azrael, passing by Raphael. She saw Rishta on a bench, her head bowed as if a terrible blow had been dealt to her spirit. “Those who love you do not want you to be unhappy or to keep bitter memories…”, she murmured so Rishta could hear her. With a bow, she took the soul from her soft feathers and presented it to the Archangel of Death. The soul shone in the cradle of her hands, like a flame inside a white seashell.
Azrael watched the different reactions on each angel around her. She didn’t look at Raziel, but she heard clearly the soft sound of the pen as he kept writing on the Book of Knowledge. Rishta had begun to understand the enigma Azrael had told her; broken and depressed, she stared at the sword on her knees. Raphael – who seemingly still had the tendency to be blunt at all hours – had a scar on his soul; one he treasured. Uriel seemed to know it well and aimed right at it after he pointed out her wrongs. Uriel – the Healer – had always been cruel and selfish in her own way, yet Uriel could never stand her own doings by some soft spot in her heart. Azrael didn’t judge on any of them as right or wrong; she merely watched, immutable.
Adriel. Always conciliate and stubborn as a mule. Azrael spread her six wings to half-length and received the soul Adriel presented to her. “Very well”, she told her. Azrael then placed the soul in her own wings and closed them. Azrael looked over at Rishta. “You have deciphered the first part of the enigma”, she told her. “Don’t forget about the second part.” The Archangel of Death looked at the other angels, with Adriel beside her. They all had some pain related to Death pounding somewhere – Azrael frowned slightly. It was ironic but interesting, too.
Raziel’s eyebrow lifted slightly as he heard Uriel yell at Raphael. For what? For being as he is? His behavior certainly is his fault, but there was nothing he could do about his past. Not like me. His shimmering, liquid-like gray robes shifted as he took a step aside, breaking the spell in an unintrusive manner. His form slowly, quietly shone into being, the soft gray gleam of his angelic form whispering quietly. He folded his sky blue wings around his body, and allowed his angelic form to fall away. As always, he felt a sense of loss. The Tome became a small leather-bound volume, something like a thin journal; the Pen became a soft lead stick. He tucked them into a pouch at his belt. Whatever happened from here, he could record in Memory until he could Record it for truth.
The silent interference of the other angels didn’t help to curb Raphael’s anger. In a split second, he was gone from his original position and in front of a startled Frost. His face was twisted up in untold anger as he grabbed Frost’s collar. His other hand beamed with power, threatening to blast Frost away. No one had ever dared to talk to him like that, not aiming at his raw point, at least. Raphael felt like slapping Frost for her unkind words. He raised his hand and it glowed with power, preparing to strike the unkind women.
Raziel saw with some shock as Raphael accosted Uriel. However, his face kept its collected facade as he walked to Raphael. He closed his hand over the energy in his, feeling a slight tingle through the magical shield he wore at all times. He knew he would pay for this in energy later. “Have you lost all self-control, Raphael?” He murmured in his ear. “What happened to that brave, self-possessed archangel? That you will strike another archangel? You know she is only trying to provoke you. You know you are stronger than she… What is the point of this?” He said this quietly, to save Raphael as much pride as possible.
Startled at Raphael’s reaction, Adriel opened her eyes wide. “Raphael!”, she exclaimed. She rushed to stand between Raphael and Uriel.
Rishta stopped her contemplation, comforted by Adriel’s kind words and Azrael’s wisdom. She had time to figure this out… and if it was what he had wanted… then there was no reason for her to be so emotional. She then jerked her head up with Raphael’s action: from calm and comforting he had become an angry soul… harsh and cruel. But he was provoked, and she would not think badly of him. Uriel had aggravated him, and now he was going to make her pay… however, she didn’t want anymore pain tonight, and so she got up, and mentally forced herself away from the darkness that was threatening to swallow her.
She then shot a look at Adriel… she knew what she alone must try to achieve. And she thought she had a plan. ‘Please let me try…’ “Raphael… stop.” Rishta then walked up to him, her eyes immeasurably sad. She then placed a hand on his shoulder, not caring that his power was inflicting some damage on her. “Please Raphael… think about what you are doing. Would your sister want you to do this? I do not think so… if she were anything like you, she would have a heart of gold, and not sink to the opposition’s provocations. Please Raphael… do not sink into anyone’s level…” She then looked at him, praying that he would desist. She was so emotionally drained… she could barely stand.
Azrael laid her cold gaze on the group in disapproval; a golden fire shone in her dark eyes. Alone, surrounded by a cloak of darkness beyond the range of the faint gas street lamp, the archangel of Death and Destruction seemed unreal. The gold writings on her black armor shone like threads of liquid fire. She raised her hand in the air, her palm towards the group; the first pair of wings on her back she spread wide, light shimmering in the likeness of a thousand eyes in the feathers. Her aura could be felt now; it was chilling. “Stop all this nonsense!”, she commanded with grim solemnness. “It’s not Uriel’s time.” Azrael frowned. “Why do you look for an enemy among your kin? Settle your differences here and now. I remind you, it was discord that brought angels against angels, and brought demons into Existence. Adriel! Step aside.” Azrael’s eyes narrowed and she lowered her hand. Her wings descended and covered her shoulders like a cloak of feathers – the eyes in them vanished, but a fire-like shimmering remained in their place.
At everyone’s interference, Raphael let go of a stunned Frost with a shove. He stepped backwards and suddenly, he looked mature or older in age. He was tired. Just beside Rishta, Raphael whispered, “Don’t compare me with my sister… I’m nothing like her…” He sat down at one corner, burying his face in between his knees and began to tremble as tears flooded his face. Still, he made sure no one had seen them…
Adriel twitched slightly as Azrael ordered her to step aside from her position between Uriel and Raphael. However, Raphael retreated before she could move. Adriel bit her lip as he went to the corner; out of familiarity, she followed him and sat by his feet to offer comfort and friendship. “I’m sorry”, she whispered, “for being harsh at you at the church. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad”, she murmured. Adriel nodded, trying to distract him from the recent pain he had been inflicted. “You are my friend and I appreciate that very much! I don’t want you to be sad… for anything…” Adriel touched his hand. “I’ll stay with you till you feel better.” It was something they used to do. Accompany each other when one of them was feeling sad or depressed, even if it was in silence. Adriel leaned her back against the wall.
Raziel had released Raphael’s clenched fist after grabbing it in order to take the worst of the energy. His hand was now a bleeding mess… It felt like his palm had been melted off. Blood was running down his arm. ‘What was I thinking? That this would only cost m some energy? Heh. Now I have a bloody wreck to remind me of the price. What was I thinking? Oh, I know, that you could actually do something. You’re only a scribbler, Raziel, get that straight. You may record history and knowledge, but you have no real power here. They all know that you’re not an archangel, but cherubim. Hero-boy.’ He began to chuckle ruefully. Well, since it wouldn’t be the most intelligent thing to do, leaving it bleeding, he began pooling his energy and wrapping healing threads about his hand, watching muscle reform and flesh cover in a none-so-swift manner. It took almost all of his energy; he didn’t have enough left to dispose of the blood, and he was far too exhausted to care. He followed Raphael and Adriel’s good example and sat leaning against the wall. He was still laughing softly.
Rishta stepped back and looked at Raphael: he and Adriel were talking… good. Maybe now some things would be solved. However, she would not believe that Raphael was much different than his sister… she saw right through him. There were some differences, but she knew that both of them had a pure heart… and how? She had her ways. Rishta had always been good at figuring people out. Rishta then turned her attention to Raziel, who was laughing, presumably at himself. She then noticed the blood, she skin was healed, but the job wasn’t finished. And Rishta could see he was exhausted. So she walked up to him and placed her hand on the mess, and concentrated hard. She was nearly spent, but she had enough to finish this job. Slowly the blood disappeared, and all was left was his arm and his clothes. Rishta then backed off, and too leaned against the stonewall for rest. She then looked down at her own arm and winced, there was blood all over her palm, and she could feel some trickling down her face. Rishta was fully drained now, so all she could do was tie it with a handkerchief, which she did. Rishta then dabbed the rest off of her face, hoping it would dry quickly in the cold night air.
Raziel sat, still laughing quietly, as Rishta finished the healing and disposed of the excess blood. He noticed that she too bled for some reason. He could heal it, but it would be a good way for him to die; she wasn’t in danger from the cut, anyway. “Thank you, Rishta.”
Watching from outside, Azrael narrowed her eyes. She was foreseeing a long road ahead yet she perceived it with her sole intuition, not with the aid of her powers. The long road would be one of hard training and learning for these angels – and why not? Even for herself, a leader of angels. The life in human forms on Earth was supposed to have a strengthening and healing effect on them so they’d go back to angelic existence mightier than before, but it was proving otherwise. They had acquired the weaknesses of Man. Would they acquire some of Man’s strength? Azrael watched and reflected her thoughts in the mirror of her heart. One day she’d take their souls away – it was a strange, non-pleasant knowledge. All around, not only in London but also into he whole world, people died. Also, there were births.
Azrael walked to the house. There had to be place for hope, also. She was concerned that the Head General of Angels – Raphael for closer description – wouldn’t have the self-strength and self-confidence enough to raise his head and lead the armies. Others, like Rishta, needed to learn and train, yet the half-angel counted with the love of her deceased father to continue. Azrael had given him the chance to guide his child to some extent. Azrael closed her wings tight and entered the place. The angels were trying to recover from the recent commotion. She cast a look at the corpse on the bed, then at the other girls, drugged unconscious. These were not away from their hour – it was almost compassive to take their souls now. However, Azrael did not extend her hand on them. Uriel was shocked. Azrael stayed by the door, her face as cold as if sculpted in marble.
Rishta then sat on a bench, the blood freezing on her face. She turned to Raziel, “You are welcome… ” She then picked up the forgotten sword and resheathed it, and then turned toward the direction of the moon: the night was growing late. Her thoughts then drifted towards the house. She had left a window open. Oh well, it was high up, no one would intrude. However, something else was going on. Uriel. Where was she? She then saw the girl standing there, alone. Well, what could she do? The girl looked somewhat rumpled and angry… Not that she could blame her. Rishta then looked at Raphael, actually his shadowed form. She smiled softly, he and Adriel were so close like she and her friends used to be. How she missed them all. And slowly in the night, she felt the darkness of her mind creeping into her tired body. All she wanted to do was forget the past, and never did it seem so impossible.
Frost watched silently as Raphael went to one side and buried his face in between his knees. Guilt hung over her as she walked over slowly. “I’m sorry… Raphael… I didn’t mean any harm…” Frost mumbled softly, hoping that Raphael would forgive her for her earlier cruel words.
Rishta looked back at Uriel. She was so sincere. However, Raphael was not always forgiving… but surely he would accept? He hadn’t said a word for a while. Well, it had been a harsh blow. She then looked at the moon, so bright. But her emotions were mixed and she felt somewhat upset and depressed. It was just too many memories. She would be fine in a few minutes. Just had to concentrate on a happy thought. Like the night. So she just tried to identify the constellations, but the darkness was so strong. She swayed, and so sat down on the bench, trying to clear her mind and emotions.
Raphael looked up slightly at Adriel and his dark blue eyes have turned red and watery with tears. He mumbled soft thanks and buried his face again. He did not response to Uriel’s words. It would take him sometime to cool down and forgive her.
Raziel leaned his head against the cool brick. He could feel the damp night air seeping through his clothes; good thing he wouldn’t get ill. Wait. What about Rishta? She was only half angel. “Rishta… I think it would be best if you went home for the night. It is very damp out here, and no one would thank you for taking ill.” His hands still tingled from the healing; he was lucky.
Rishta then pulled away from the darkness of her mind to take focus of her surrounding predicament. She was cold, damp and not to mention covered with frozen blood. But she didn’t feel the cold or the damp air… only the darkness. “I’ll be fine. I survived the plague… and I never really got the flu.” Rishta said, practically mumbling the words, even thought she didn’t really know what she was saying. She had distantly heard Raphael say his thanks, but to her it sounded like it was so far away… so far… ‘I am so exhausted. Maybe I should go home… No! Can’t leave them… promised to take them home… wake up! Can’t… dark… rest…’ Rishta then shook her head again, trying to clear it from its contrasting thoughts. ‘I must stay awake. This is how she died… remember? Frozen. But I am not so cold, and the ground is wet, not me. But you are COLD. No, I am not. She died this way, and you will too! NO! No more memories. She is gone… gone forever…’ And with that she simply looked away from everything, as though determined to lose herself into the night.
Raziel saw Rishta stagger to her feet. In that condition, she wouldn’t make it far. He stood and shifted back into his angelic form, and held her steady. He could more easily convert excess energy to heat as angelic.
Rishta could all of a sudden feel heat. In a form that felt so familiar. The power. An angel. She then turned and saw Raziel, the only thing that was keeping her from falling. She then turned her face to him, and gave a soft smile. “Thank you… Raziel. I…” she then stopped, and felt a familiar tug within her mind. It was odd, since she only felt this in her dreams. And now, no, it could not be… but it was. In the physical world, the half-angel known as Rishta collapsed against Raziel. In fact, it seemed she had fainted, but she had not. Very few would know this, but she had fallen into a vision, from which no one could wake her.
“Where am I? What is this place?” Rishta could see a plain… but it was not empty. On one side there were angels. She could see that, their wings, out and arched, with weapons glittering. Then she turned around… and to her back was the darkness. Pure black darkness. A wall of misshapen creatures. At least, that was what she could tell from this distance. Demons. What seemed to be a split second later, both had charged at each other, and the air was filled with screams and war cries. She saw golden hair… Raphael! He was attacking people and then… Adriel… so many angels… A fight… where there humans? She could not tell… but there was blood… so much blood…
Rishta then grimaced, in the real world, her face filled with pain. She then became limp, and tears began to stream… there was so much pain.
“Are you alright?!” Frost rushed over to Rishta. She was beginning to get back some of her strength and a bit of healing wouldn’t kill her now, though she would have to rest for the whole day tomorrow without the usage of her powers. Putting her hand to Rishta’s forehead, Frost proceeded to heal Rishta but a feeling like an electric current forced Frost to pull her hand away quickly. She had seen familiar images in Rishta’s mind in that very instant and hence, taken her hand away. She doesn’t want to see them… no… not anymore!
Seeing that Rishta had fainted, Raphael got up and walked over. He looked at her worriedly. He shot a why-don’t-you-heal-her look at Frost but turned away quickly. He still hadn’t completely forgiven her for her cruel words.
Adriel smiled at Raphael when he said thanks. When he got up, Adriel got back to her feet and stood next to Uriel as she seemed to try to heal Rishta. She stepped back and stayed near to Raphael so Uriel has space to work, but Uriel seemed to hesitate. Adriel didn’t read the sign of Death on Rishta but she turned to Azrael almost instinctively. Azrael was watching, but not interfering by now. Rishta was going to live.
No matter what happened around her, Rishta could not pay attention, the surrounding world might have not existed to her then, but she did feel the power flowing. No! Please stop… pain, too much… AHHH!
“Is the fight over? What the…” She looked around, the fight was still going strong. She felt a familiar presence, and saw someone who resembled herself. But then the other “Rishta” disappeared. As though she was never meant to know. “What the… can anyone hear me?” But there was no response. She saw Raphael charging towards her. “Raphael! Stop! It is me!” But then he ran right through her… and killed a demon behind her. “So, no one can see me…” She then saw an angel, whom she could not identify, die. “No…” It was cruel, the demon was relentless… “Please… why won’t this end…?”
“Please end… stop… please… AHHHHH!” Rishta screamed, the memories flooding… the vision growing stronger with every passing second.
Watching from the door, Azrael moved her wings a little, impatiently. Rishta’s father’s memories were flowing through the girl – Azrael could perceive it, since she held a special watch over his soul’s doings. His time wasn’t unlimited and he had to teach his daughter some things. Azrael was almost satisfied in her watchers position next to the door. The night was running quickly to the West. Azrael looked at the others tending to the half-angel. Azrael could have very cold points of view – or so it’d seem to others that were not Angels of Death. The girl was not going to die anytime soon – why to worry so much? Azrael stood tall and dark, her wings around her like a cloak and her eyes shimmering in the darkness.
Rishta was still dreaming, as one could say, but it was nearing the end… and she was beginning to wake up. However, there was still the end of the vision. Normally the worse part.
“Where… did everyone go? There is no one here… what… bodies?” Rishta’s eyes then zoomed in. Angel wings! “No…” She then saw the other “Rishta” except, the she was a he and he was older… Not to mention he looked so familiar! It then clicked. “Father…” She saw everyone. All her friends not to mention the sword… Stained with blood in all different shades. Black and red. “Why me… why am I seeing this? Father… why did you bring me here…?” She saw Adriel in her duty… she even thought she saw Azrael… but why now…? “What is the meaning of all this?”
“What… meaning… Father…”, Rishta faintly said.
Adriel could clearly perceive she was having visions provided by a soul of a deceased angel – couldn’t be anyone else but her dad, according to what she had heard earlier. Adriel’s heart was touched. She wished she could help them: the father and the child.
Raziel held Rishta’s body with concern, gently supporting her. He fed a small amount of energy into her body. “I will take her home to rest.” He would take her to his home; he could care for her easily there. He doubted her human servants would know what to do with her in her present condition. Hopefully no one would ask him any questions; he would claim her as a cousin. It wouldn’t be too far of a lie, and would deflect any questions about the unseemliness of him having a woman in his quarters for a few days. He spread his wings, and nodding farewell, flew off with Rishta in his arms.
Raphael sighed as he watched Raziel take Rishta away. The girl did need rest. She had been affected too much tonight. Looking at the crowd outside the house, Raphael glanced at Adriel with a soft light in his eyes and spoke. “Well, Azrael needs to go for certain. But aren’t you going home yet, Adriel? Your family will be worried for you… I will walk you home if you don’t mind.” Turning to Frost, Raphael’s tone turned slightly cold, “You shouldn’t be staying here too. You need to bring your friends to the hospital.”
‘He’s trying to drive me away,’ Frost realized. ‘He probably still holds that grudge against me, both old and new.’ Frost closed her eyes and like Rishta, images appeared in her mind. But unlike Rishta, they were not of a vision, but of memories, past memories. Far older than anyone realized.
The young angel held the bleeding body of another angel in his arms, sobbing uncontrollably. His tears were all over his face, and nothing seemed to be able to stop the tears. The angel in his arms who looked amazingly like him only that she had auburn hair, was laying motionlessly, blood all over. From front to back… Her entire body covered in horrible looking wounds. As if someone or something had attempted to tear her into pieces. The angel looked up and choked on his tears as he spoke to Frost, no… archangel Uriel… “Please… save her… Save her please…” he pleaded, eyes filled with sorrow and pain, as well as guilt.
Uriel squatted down and felt the angel’s forehead. Her light was weak… and fading out quickly. Uriel shook her head. There was no way to save her… it was too late, she told the young blonde angel. Raphael stared long at Uriel, as if he didn’t understand what her words meant. Then he broke down, knelt down, grabbed Uriel’s dress and began to rave, pleading her to save his sister. Uriel had a hard time trying to explain how she was not omnipotent and that she would die if she attempted to save her, but Raphael would not listen. Uriel was annoyed and tried to leave, but Raphael didn’t let her. Before they knew it, the angel was dead. Raphael was depressed and glared wrathfully at Uriel. He knew he would never forget. Why wouldn’t she save his sister? Why was she being so cruel? Raphael picked up the body of his sister, threw one last cold glance at Uriel and left. That pair of blue eyes… Filled with pain and sorrow… and anger… was one Uriel would never forget…
Frost opened her eyes and looked at Raphael. “Fine, I will go.” Frost said coolly as she went back to the house. She had trouble waking up her deeply intoxicated friends and she had to drag them out of the house. A pair of well-dressed men seemed to appear from nowhere, obviously seeking Frost. They helped her with the two girls, and mentioned it was time for her to return home. Looking at Adriel and Azrael, Frost says a soft goodbye to them, including to Raphael.
Azrael could have been mistaken for a statue to those whose eyes could see her. Only her eyes shone like carbuncles in the dark corner where she was… and occasionally, the gold writings on her armor blazed like threads of fire. Her eyes followed Raziel and Rishta when they left. Azrael’s face and her eyes didn’t reveal any of her thoughts, but she wasn’t there to judge or emit opinions. Immutable, she remained in the darkness. She watched the others. Raphael was right. Azrael had many duties to fulfill in other places. She watched the angels and read their emotions – and easy task for a watcher like her, even if she didn’t use her powers to look into their souls. She did remember Raphael’s sister. She remembered every being that had been born and every being that died. Azrael knew Uriel had tried to heal her and she knew about Raphael’s reaction. She nodded as farewell to Uriel when she said her goodbyes. The men were unable to see the archangel of Death and Destruction. Once they were gone with the girls, Azrael turned to Adriel and Raphael.
“The Gathering has begun. It’s needless to say we’ll be in contact from now on. Raphael, you still are the Head General. Your duties will come after you.” The last phrase had a hint of sarcasm. “Adriel: remember my words.” She alluded to her warning to her, earlier. Azrael opened her wings and a myriad of eyes shone in the feathers. “Farewell.” Azrael was gone.
Adriel seemed strangely affected by Azrael’s words. She nodded goodbye at Uriel with a gentle, soft motion. The men could not see her wings, but she had an ethereal air to her, like the images of angels painted in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Adriel wrapped her wings around her and looked up at Raphael. She had a soft smile for him but there was a hint of sadness in her eyes. “Thank you, Raphael. I’d appreciate it very much if you walk me home.” She smiled again.
“It’s been an unusual day.”
“Come then.” Raphael said as he led the way out of the slums. Looking back to ensure Adriel was following, he walked out slowly.
Adriel cast a last look at Raphael’s house and the house where Uriel’s friends had been, then followed Raphael. She skipped over a couple puddles in the broken sidewalk and walked beside her friend. “How strange this day has been. Things have happened so quickly… I wonder where Michael and Gabriel are gone to.” A strangled laughter came out of one of the dark buildings in the scarce, dim light of the streetlamps. Down an alley, a red light came out of a basement and a couple prostitutes chatted next to the stairs to that basement. Ahead, a dogcart pulled by an old horse came their way with the rhythmic tap-tap of the horse’s steps on the cobblestone. Adriel looked at Raphael’s face and smiled at him. “I had set my hopes on desert!” she jokingly said, trying to distract his mind from somber thoughts. “I was wondering what sweets and cakes we’d get.” They were already leaving the slums. The streetlights gave more light now, and the general look of the street facade changed as they entered exclusive zones of London. A policeman watched them curiously as they passed by.