Johnathon peered through the iron gates at the manor house where he hoped the Lady Riktophen was staying. It certainly was impressive. It rivaled his own Greystone Manor in size and elegance, but he had a feeling his house was a bit older. At least that was something he had on the young Baroness. As quietly as he could, Johnathon pushed open the iron gates, and stepped into the vast front lawn. The moment his foot touched the ground, a wave of panic shot through him like quicksilver, and he almost toppled face-first onto the grass before catching himself on the gate’s stone framework. He wasn’t quite sure why, but something inside him was telling him not to take another step forward. The air felt… tainted. Consecrated by dark powers. It made sense, Johnathon realized, if a demon was after Autumn. Still, he couldn’t protect her or get information from her by standing outside all night. Johnathon took a deep breath, steeled his nerves, and slowly made his way to the front door.

Creeeeaaaaaak. At the odd creaking sound, Johnathon froze in his tracks, a mere three steps from the door. That, however, was a big mistake and the ground underneath him buckled and he plummeted down several feet into a dark stale tunnel. He landed with a deafening thud, clouds of dust flying in every direction, the sound echoing down the long corridor. Looking up, Johnathon found himself face to face with the dried up old bones of another unfortunate soul to fall into the trap. “Oh, God!” Johnathon shouted, jumping up to his feet and kicking the old skeleton away. The young occultist took a few more steps backwards and dusted himself off, plucking a patch of mold from his coat sleeve. What a dismal place. Still, this confirmed his strange feeling a moment ago–something unusual was definitely going on in this house. The entire dungeon, or wherever he was, reeked of dark summoning.

Johnathon pulled out his pocket watch and clutched it tightly in his fist. It had been thrice blessed by a priest, and enchanted with a holy word, offering him some modicum of protection down here. It was also probably like a beacon to whatever dark things were skulking about down here, but Johnathon preferred to be prepared. All he had to do now was find a way out of here.

Walking along the corridor, he dodged spun webs and stepped over bones. The farther he walked, the more thick and intense the air became. It seemed like one more step could smother him. He finally came across an opening in the corridor, leading to a huge cave-like chamber. Stone columns held the ceiling in place, and strange carvings decorated the floors and walls. Torches burned in strategic places along the room.

“Look, Pet! A new toy for our entertainment.” A voice seemed to echo around the room, bouncing off the walls, and killing any chance of locating its direction. “Pretty man! Have you come to join us for some tea?”

“Servant of evil!” Johnathon shouted into the darkness. “Show yourself!” ‘Brave words, John. You’re outclassed in raw power here, and you know it.’

‘Right, so think! Use that supposedly spectacular brain of yours!’ The chamber was dark, which meant that the demon was either trying to play mind tricks on him, or it required darkness to fully function. If it was both, Johnathon was in trouble. Best not to think about that, though. He needed some light, but all he had on him that burned was his wooden stakes. Only as a last resort, was he willing to use those as kindling. “What are you playing at? Why go to all this trouble to kill that woman?” Johnathon asked of the darkness.

“Kill? What ever do you mean, pretty man?” A petite woman seemed to float out of the shadows, directly into his line of vision. At her side was a huge dog, perhaps a wolf. Whatever it was it was fantastically large and certainly not normal. For the most part she looked harmless, carrying a tray with cups and a tea kettle, and an almost sugary sweet smile. The only thing malice about her, beyond her pet, was the absolutely unholy look in her golden yellow eyes. “Come, come. I have tea! Please join me. Pet will be so disappointed if you refuse.” The ‘dog’ gave an affirmative growl, baring rows of perfectly white shining teeth. The woman then turned around, heading down another corridor, motioning him to follow.

Johnathon swallowed. ‘Dire wolves. Lord in Heaven, she has Dire wolves.’ He had only read about those in his grandfather’s journals. The only way to kill a dire wolf was… well, actually, it didn’t say. Jacob Morris had never slain the Dire wolf he had run into, but he had written about it. Fat lot of good it did Johnathon now, though. Clasping his holy ward tightly, Johnathon set his jaw and took a few tentative steps forward, muttering a prayer under his breath. He wasn’t sure what effect it was having on the beast, but as he slipped past it and followed the strange woman down the passageway, it didn’t make any movements to stop him. Johnathon had a strong feeling of what a mouse must feel like just before the cat pounced on it. But he couldn’t give in to his fear now. If he did, it would mean his death faster than he could blink.

“You… you sent out a servitor demon, and it attacked her in the park today!” Johnathon called out, even though he could no longer see the strange woman. “Once I learned the young lady’s name, it was a simple matter to track her down to this house. I’m glad I decided to come, too–in the name of God, I swear, I’ll cleanse this house of all its evil, and that includes you!”

“Oh, my, my. She has you under her spell. Isn’t that a sad, Pet?” Her voice sounded only a few feet away, yet he still couldn’t see her. The wolf gave a quick grunt in agreement. In a quick motion, the corridor seemed to melt into a small, richly adored drawing room. he turned around to see a wall behind him. An illusion? As he turned back around, the woman was seated comfortably at a dark wood table, pouring tea as if she didn’t have another care in the world. Her ‘pet’ couldn’t be seen, yet Johnathon could still feel its breath breathing down his neck. “A soul stealer. A million souls in that little black box. She stole my poor son from me. The little whore is the devil!” Such hateful things pouring from her mouth, yet she smiled pleasantly and waved a hand over the chair next to her. “Please sit!”

Johnathon knew he shouldn’t. He even told himself as much. But for some reason, he didn’t seem to care much. The woman couldn’t be as powerful as he had thought. She was harmless. Completely harmless. With that thought buried comfortably in his mind, Johnathon slowly took a seat at the table and reached for his teacup. “I’m afraid I don’t understand,” he said, taking a small sip. It was his favorite… but how did she know that? Wait, why worry about it? Perhaps it was her favorite, too. Yes that had to be it. He had to learn to stop being so paranoid! “That woman uses her device to take souls? My apologies, but that sounds ridiculous. Such a thing isn’t possible.” Something began to tug at the very back of his awareness, and for a moment, the entire room flickered. Johnathon ignored it and concentrated on his conversation.

“Alas, she had spread her evil deep within my home. What was once light, is now darkness…” She slid a plate filled with small sandwiches and cookies across the table, giving one of those sweet old grandmother smiles. “Pretty man, do not be fooled by her magic. She charms the men with her tricks, lures them into her trap! Captures your trust, and then your soul!” She beamed as he sampled her treats, and sipped more of her special tea. The pretty man was such lovely company. Perhaps he would remove the whore from this earth! “I fear for my life!” Suddenly, she grasped his hand, her sweet smiled had turned into one of fright and horror. “She is coming back for me! Please, won’t you protect me? The demon-woman must be destroyed!”

‘Wake up!’ Johnathon blinked and looked around. Where had that voice come from? There was nobody else in the room except for himself and the woman. Tonight, he noticed, was a very good night for meeting strangers and not collecting any names. “I’ll… see what I can do,” Johnathon muttered, fingering his holy ward. It was growing very heavy all of a sudden. Was the Lady Riktophen’s power so great that she could block the senses of his blessed items? Then why was his ward signaling him now, and not earlier, when he met her in the park? Johnathon hoped the man she was with was all right. He may have been somewhat brusque, but he was still a noble soul. “I must admit, I’m not as capable as my father was, or my grandfather. But I’ll do my best to help you, madam.”

“Excellent… Excellent…” She beamed with great pleasure. Suddenly her face turned as if she heard something no one else could hear. “Ah, she has arrived… and with a guest.” Taking the man’s hand and leading him to the door, she gave a small pout. “Please, my dear boy… Do not fail me! Do not let her charms fool you! It’ll be your death!” She opened the door and waved him out. “Remember! She must be destroyed!”

* * * * * * * * * *

Click! The door closed behind her with a quiet click. She leaned on the door a few minutes to catch her breath, then turned to Raziel with a composed smile. “Thank you very much for seeing me in… I’d like it if you would stay just for a little longer. Maybe for tea?” Autumn didn’t wait for a reply, she just immediately brushed past him towards one of the many doors. It really wasn’t very polite of her to insist he stayed, she knew he must’ve had somewhere he needed to be. Not to mention she, herself, wanted some rest. But all of a sudden she had this need to keep him close by, only for a little bit longer… And not just because she was curious.

“She’s invited you for tea, my friend, but I’m afraid she’ll take your soul in return!” Both Raziel and Autumn spun around towards the source of the loud voice. Standing in front of the fireplace with a stake in one hand and his holy ward in the other, was Johnathon, complete with a grim smile on his face. With the wind coming down the chimney and blowing into his coat, Johnathon figured he struck as quite the dramatic and dashing figure. An excellent entrance. One worthy of remembering. “This house is practically seething with evil,” Johnathon continued, taking a few slow steps towards Autumn, “and I’m afraid that this young lady is its source! Such a sad age we live in, when innocent people can be turned so easily into twisted puppets of Satan.”

Johnathon removed a small green gem from his coat pocket and twisted it gently in his fingers. “If I cannot purge you of evil in life, then I shall do it by delivering you to death.” The emerald shone brightly in his hand as he raised it up to Autumn and stepped within arm’s reach of her. “May God have mercy upon your soul.”

Raziel whipped around, startled, and saw that Miss Riktophen had done the same. He had barely had the time to admire her home. But it was a worthy entrance- he had to give the man that. He stepped smoothly between Autumn and the man, amazingly graceful for such a tall form. He brushed the gem aside as if it meant nothing to him. “I have no need for protection of my soul. You, though… Even that blessed item you hold tried to warn you of the evil in this house. And it is not the source of the Lady here, who you so rudely insist remains standing while wounded,” he scolded the man, as if he were a naughty child. He was, in Raziel’s eyes. “I propose a simple test to you.” Raziel’s cool blue eyes pierced the man’s. “This artifact,” he lifted the silver pendant of his Tome, “has an enchantment on it that will cause great pain to any touched by evil. I will allow Miss Riktophen to hold it, and then you must hold it.” He swayed the pendant for a moment on its long silver chain, then turned to Miss Riktophen. He proffered it to her, face serene. He knew she would be fine… Right?

Autumn hesitated for a few moments. She wasn’t too sure herself that she was completely innocent. Living in this house for so many years… and then who was to say her gift of sight wasn’t a demonic gift? Swallowing nervously she took the pendant in her hand. After waiting a few seconds, nothing seemed to happen. She sighed with relief!

Small flickers sparked of the small pendant, and suddenly Autumn was surrounded by several bright bolts of lightning. She gasp in shock and extreme pain, before falling into a dead faint!

Mint a villám, kiégetés! The little old woman peered through the mirror glass, high above the fireplace, unseen and unheard by all. She gave a small wicked gleam, ripping the small spell she cast on to the pendant, into tiny little shreds. “Tut, tut… Your precious lady isn’t so pure after all. It seems she must die!” A low menacing chuckled escaped her lips as she turned away from the distorted glass.

Raziel was surprised but not immobile. He tore the Tome from Miss Riktophen’s unconscious grasp and tackled the man before he could do… anything, pendent outstretched. ‘How could I have thought that she could live here without being tainted! I sense not the touch of true evil in her nature, only the petty evils of a human… But the taint of darkness is there, given by a resident of this house! Damn these games!’ He immobilized the man with his angelic strength and pressed the pendent to his flesh. The man struggled fantastically; if Raziel had been human there would have been no doubt of the winner. “Forgive me,” He said grimly. He would disable as much evil as he could in this house before he had to destroy the root. He had felt the tingle of a dark spell. There was something to be done. //Raphael… Gabriel… Azrael… Adriel… Rishta… Uriel… Come to me!// He summoned them all by name mentally, imbuing the message with intense urgency.

A low menacing growl echoed in the great hall, bouncing off of walls and increasing intensity. The dire wolf Johnathon had the pleasure of meeting earlier, seemed to walk right out of the fire place… but he wasn’t alone. Several of his companions seemed to walk though doors, and walls at different places in the room. Before Raziel could retaliate, a few pounced, knocking him from Johnathon. If Johnathon thought he’d run off safely, he was mistaken… The beady eyes or two more wolves stared him down as they circled him.

Johnathon’s eagerness was short-lived once he saw another pair of the wolves start to circle him. The tall stranger was busy with troubles of his own, but judging from the strength he had, Johnathon figured he had little to fear. The normal humans in the room, however–such as himself–were not going to be as lucky. ‘Think! What do father’s books say about Dire wolves?’ Johnathon reached for one of the wooden stakes in his coat. ‘Dire wolves aren’t natural hell spawn… they’re just regular wolves that have been infected with dark powers… but aside from that, they’re just like normal dogs.’ Of course, that only made things a trifle less difficult. Wolves hunted in packs, so even if one was taken down, the other would be ready to spring into action.

The occultist’s hand curled around the wooden stake, but he stopped when his fingers brushed against something else inside his pocket. Looking down and pulling out the small box, he realized it was… his snuff powder? How on earth did that get into his jacket? All of a sudden, Johnathon realized that he didn’t care. This game him a marvelous idea! Of course, he’d need a miracle to pull it off… but such things were starting to become a habit with him these days. Johnathon prayed rapidly to himself as he flipped open the box of powder and threw it at the first wolf, catching it right in the snout. The huge dog began clawing frantically at its eyes and nose, trying to get the stuff out of its face. While the second dog was cringing backwards, Johnathon abandoned all sense of reason and jumped onto the thing’s back, grabbing on for dear life and hoping another clever idea would come to him.

Autumn mumbled and lifted her throbbing head, only to quickly roll out of the way of a pouncing wolf. Moving so quickly hurt like the devil, but she was sure being chewed to pieces would be more painful! She quickly jumped to her feet, and grabbed the nearest chair as some sort of shield against the wolf as she moved across the room… “Raziel!” Autumn forgot all about more lady-like manners, as she swung the chair and cracked it over a wolf’s head. As it fell to pieces, the wolf jumped away to safety… Or at least to a better position to attack. “Perhaps the both of you should take your leave now.” she murmured, grasping at her side again, hoping she didn’t just reopen the wound.

Gabriel padded silently into the house, still invisible to mortal eyes, only to find a small-scale battle. Raziel was trying to make his way through a pack of… Dire wolves to a young woman who was obviously wounded; another unknown, this male, was throwing SNUFF at them.
Gabriel summoned his bow and began knocking an arrow. ‘You are the hitter, and the hit… You target and you are the target…’ He carefully chose his targets and released one, two, three arrows, all aimed for the wolves between Raziel and the girl. //They come. I am here.//

Raziel dodged a Dire wolf’s attack, only to be confronted with a trio between himself and Autumn. ‘Damn it all! If I could but use my angelic form, these would be no great difficulty…’ The three suddenly fell in rapid succession, dissolving into three piles of vague-looking slush. The air immediately seemed clearer, as if freed from their tainted breath. That must be Gabriel. He smiled. “Thank you,” he murmured, finally making his way to Autumn and helping her stand. “You must leave… Get out of this house quickly. Now.” He swiftly propelled her to the door, fending off another Dire. The man was in need of help; he wanted to make sure she at least was safe and saved.

Rishta landed softly outside the building – she recognized it. Riktophen House… or something like that. Weren’t the inhabitants a wealthy baroness, and a senile mother? Oh well. Following Gabriel, she then saw a mini-war. “Oh my… what fun” All the Dire wolves… great creatures, if you were into the fangs, and snarls and dark power. And then, just her luck, one flew at her. As an unconscious reaction, she unsheathed her sword and in a swift move – beheaded the beast. “Raziel! Are you all right?!” Rishta said, as she sliced another one on the flank.

//I’m fine, Rishta. There are mortals here… Try not to do that again.// He was eternally grateful that she was invisible to mortal eyes. He made no motion as if he heard a voice and continued to herd Autumn to the door. That left 4 wolves dead, and whatever was hiding and whatever the man was dealing with were alive.

Rishta was glad that for now she was invisible. But, she couldn’t hold it up, and so she shifted back in the shadows, so none saw her. She then raised her sword in a threatening position – the shine making the wolves a bit wary. “Come on… lets end this.” She whispered, eager to finish it off, before it became a bloodbath.

Invisible to human eyes, Azrael walked inside the house. The place was immerse in dark magic’s as if the house itself was not built with stone and masonry, but with many spells woven together. The dire wolves beady eyes shone in the dark, but Azrael perceived a different intelligence behind them – they had been sent to kill. There were not as many left, however. Two beasts attacked the archangel from behind; Azrael used her wings to hit them back to the ground and Filos appeared in her hand; Azrael got her weapon to shape shift to a spear. With the butt of the weapon, she hit one of the wolves as it tried to jump back on her back, breaking its ribs. She opened her upper pair of wings keeping the others tightly closed to protect her back with the thick plumage; the eyes that shone in her open wings feathers infused fear in the wolves behind her, making them recede, growling. Azrael held the spear in her right hand and hit the wolf that pounced on her with her armored knee, knocking him aside with her left fist. The spear spin and she thrust it beneath the next wolf’s jaw, so in the poor light human eyes wouldn’t be able to tell what caused the death of that beast. She turned and kicked a wolf that was jumping to her flank, breaking his neck bone to an instant death with the pole of the spear. The wolf she had punched aside had regained consciousness and growled with it’s neck fur bristled like a monstrous brush. Avoiding the eyed wings, he tried to jump to her throat as she kicked the other wolf, but Azrael pulled the spear back after breaking the previous beast’s neck with the spear’s butt and the blade went clean through the wolf’s mouth to its brain.

Azrael shook the dead body off Filos. She had moved with inhuman speed, and it’d be hard for human eyes to tell what caused the wolves demise. Besides, she was invisible. Azrael frowned slightly and held Filos ready to block new attacks. Raziel was pulling Autumn out to safety as Gabriel and Rishta fought; Azrael silently moved to the door to help Raziel get Autumn out by keeping the beasts at bay.

Howls and growls came to her ears. Adriel and Raphael finally arrived. Invisible, Adriel got into the fight and jumped aside as a wolf aimed to her flank; the angel kicked the beast’s muzzle and summoned the Blade of Life in the shape of a long dagger; Adriel stabbed it the heart and kicked him aside, knocking down another wolf which was about to leap to her throat. Another beast bit one of her wings, catching only thick feathers; Adriel took the chance when its mouth was busy with her feathers and stabbed his neck from under its jaw up into the brain, killing it and freeing her plumage. Adriel spotted a second human in the room, holding for dear life to the back of a wolf – a second wolf was about to bite his leg from the flank! Adriel got there on time to kill the animal but another jumped on her; Adriel jerked back but the animal caught her forearm; the armor protected her as she stabbed his chest. The wounds in the chest bleed less that the huge arteries in the neck, so it was of help to remain unnoticed by the humans – as much as possible.

Raphael flew into the house invisible his wings disappearing. A wolf came running towards Raphael, growling fiercely as it leapt towards him, attempting to give him a deathly bite. However, Raphael was too quick as he turned and gave the wolf a swift kick to the abdomen, which send it flying to the other side of the room. It smashed against the wall and moaned as it died. Raphael unsheathed his dagger from his flute tucked in beside his belt and stabbed the eye of another wolf that jumped out at him. Smoke sizzled from the wolf’s eye as Raphael’s power infiltrated it. He pulled the dagger out and ended the pain of the beast. Another two wolves growled in front of Raphael, but hesitated to attack after seeing how their company had died. He looked up and a wolf leapt towards him at the element of surprise. However, Raphael caught its head with his hands and threw it towards the second wolf. They collided together and couldn’t return to their feet.

“What, exactly, is going on?!” Autumn tugged back as they reach the door, trying to release Raziel’s grip on her wrist. Not that she wanted to turn around and face the wolves, but she lived here and would have to come back eventually. More so confusing was the way the wolves just seemed to be dropping dead around them, and the only people she could see were Raziel and the stranger! The stranger didn’t seem to be killing them, considering he was clinging to the back of one of the beasts. She wasn’t even sure where the wolves came from! Her protests were ignored as she was drug outside the door, out of reach from the wolves. They didn’t seem to want to go past the thresh hold. “Wait!” she stopped on the front steps, refusing to move any farther. “What is happening in there…? Was that your doing?”

Despite the fact that all of his attention was focused on the wolf he was riding, and trying to not fall off, Johnathon still felt a noticeable tingle at the base of his skull. It was the same kind of feeling he got when he had felt when the tall man had cast the spell, only this time, it was exceptionally powerful. Less like a power, though, and more like an actual presence. Even though he couldn’t see it, he could definitely feel it. Looking up from the wolf’s shaggy shoulders, his feeling was starting to become more real that a mere suspicion. There were nearly a dozen Dire wolf corpses strewn about the mansion’s front room and sitting room, with wounds that looked large enough for Johnathon to practically stick his whole arm into. But who could have done something like that? “I don’t… don’t suppose… it’s too much trouble… to ask whoever’s out there for… a bit… bit of assistance!” he shouted, still clinging to the back of the wolf.

Adriel realized the man at least had realized he wasn’t “alone.” She hesitated, but the wolves were regrouping; she stabbed the wolf the man was clung to, piercing the beast’s heart. The wolf growled one last time and died. Invisible, Adriel stood next to them to help this man whose hour wasn’t there yet.

The angelic archer had backed himself up against a wall atop a table to assure nothing came up behind him unseen. No wolves came near him as Gabriel shot his bow, three arrows in as many blinks. The wolves’ numbers were dwindling sharply. Only a couple were left, and those where he could not get a clear shot. The other angels could take care of those, but he still kept an active eye out for OTHER things… Like spells and more minions of the evil in this place. He quickly shot a wolf that was sneaking behind the dark-haired man.

Rishta stood there – now visible. Whenever a wolf came – it went down. It was an odd site, the rich lady easily battling with fierce creatures. After awhile, she began to take notice around. Two mortal, angels, wolves… who did it all? She could feel the presence of dark magic, but she could not be sure. Quickly she made her way to Raziel, cutting any wolf in her way. “Baroness Riktophen? Hello, Lady Farishta here. I know this is very odd, but you have to listen to Raziel. If you cherish your life, you will get out.”

He nodded to Rishta. “I only tell the truth!” He saw that he really had no choice; he swept her off her feet and ran with her out of the manor into the courtyard in great, leaping bounds. He set her down gently and without looking back, he sprinted back into the house, into the battle. He was unarmed in his human form, but that made him no less dangerous. Maybe a bit more, when it came to desperation. He was attacked as soon as he made it to the door, two wolves forcing their way out to make it to Autumn. “NO.” His voice echoed, and the wolves stopped in their charge and began to whine. He paralyzed them easily with a simple spell and realized that he could not simply leave Autumn alone out here. He looked to Rishta pleadingly. He had something to prove to himself.

The young half-ling nodded at Raziel and smiled. Moving swiftly she backed out and joined Autumn, sword ready, glimmering with blood. “Well, how are you doing Baroness? Nice to meet you. Sorry we had to meet under such conditions…”

Raphael frowned as he stood up and glanced sharply at the remaining wolves. Stepping backwards, he slashed his dagger through the air horizontally as he skipped a step. The wolves growled as their throats were ripped open with the chi Raphael’s dagger had send flying towards them. Raphael sheathed his dagger as the room was clear of all wolves. He looks over at Raziel but said nothing.

Pitch black raven wings folded, Azrael stood next to the door, holding Filos with her right hand, ready to attack any oncoming danger. Raziel came back, visibly agitated by another reason than the dire wolves. Raphael had slain the last two wolves in the room, but there could be more spawns of evil lurking in the shadows of the manor. Always invisible to human eyes, she folded her six wings on her back and swept a cold, calculating look around as her angelic senses scanned the dark emanations of the manor. The other angels were well enough and no one had been wounded. Which reminded her of Uriel. Azrael frowned slightly.

Adriel was alarmed to see Rishta had made herself visible; at least she hadn’t done that in angelic appearance. However, she feared Rishta would reveal herself to the baroness, letting her know. There was nothing to do about it, though. Adriel waited for the archangel’s lead on how to proceed now. The dark-haired man was aware there was some inhuman presence fighting the dire wolves around him. Now that the wolves were dead – at least the ones in the room – what were they to do? Adriel had killed the wolf he was clung to and the one who tried to bite his leg off, and Gabriel shot another who was about to jump on them. Adriel stayed next to the man and the wolf, keeping her guard up.

The Baroness blinked incredulously at the woman, beginning to believe she was either dreaming, seeing hallucinations after her injury, or had finally gone insane. This Lady Rishta, had just come out of her home, bloody sword in hand, as nonchalant as could be, when Autumn could have sworn no one was there beyond she, Raziel and the stranger. And she was going to ask her such a ridiculous question? Unless, of course, the woman was in the house before hand. Or she appeared out of thin air? In any cause, Autumn was quickly becoming wary of the whole ordeal. How on earth could so much happen in such a short amount of time, and she still be oblivious to the cause of it all. And if he had the gall to think she was going to stand outside her own home like a wounded, whimpering child, Mr. Raziel McCoullagh would be sorely disappointed!

Lady Rishta?” Autumn replied, will a cool, barely under control temper. She didn’t even know why she had to repeat the woman’s name, but it was better than the more sour phrases that came to mind. In fact, the only reason she was still standing there at all was the fact she had a better chance of asking this woman what was going on, opposed to a pack of angry wolves. “You may want to explain to me your presence, and what in Heaven’s name are those beasts doing in my house.”

The wickedly pleased old woman sat deep in the heart of the manor, patting the head of her favorite pet, and watching her new guests from afar in the reflective glass of another mirror. “Angels, pet. Aren’t they wonderful toys? I am so pleased they came to play! Why don’t we show them to a better room?” Waving her hand, the main hall in which the Angels and Human battled the dire wolves, suddenly shifted form to a room made entirely of mirror walls, floors and ceilings. The wolves seemed to have disappeared leaving only those that had their feet in the Manor’s main hall. All the angels, and lone human could see were mirrors, reflections, and a rather creepy mist.

Outside, the Lady Rishta didn’t even have a chance to utter one word of reply to Autumn, as the ground opened up beneath them and they both plummeted down a deep shaft!!

Rishta’s eyes flew open as they fell down the shaft, her body tense. Then they landed, hard. Luckily, at the last moment before impact, Rishta had moved the sword aside, so she didn’t spear anyone with it. She then turned to the Baroness, making sure she was fine. She noted that she did have a gash, but it was still sealed – thanks to Raziel. “Are you alright?” Rishta sighed. Finally she answered the Baronesses questions. “Yes, my name is Lady Rishta. I live at the edge of town: Farishta Manor. I am sorry for intruding, but you were in danger. And, just so you know, Raziel and I, even that man, are not responsible for the attack… if the rumors are true, then you are already a target incessantly. I suppose this is just another one.”

Rishta then paused, and looked at the baroness right in the eyes, it was obvious that she disliked the hybrid, but there was nothing she could do – especially where they were. “And about why I am here… Mr. Raziel is my friend. Is that enough? Or should I go into detail?” She said, only with a hint of bitterness. She needed to be where the others were! To help! Not with this lady, who seemed on the verge of murder! “In the name of Heaven, please tell me you have a way out.”

* * * * * * * * * *

The manor’s main hall suddenly shifted into a room made of mirrors: mirror walls, floors and ceilings… The wolves seemed to have disappeared leaving only those that had their feet in the Manor’s main hall. All that was visible were, reflections, and a rather creepy mist. Azrael opened her wings slightly to regain balance, then stood still, her cold gaze studied the new environment. She counted the angels and the guy. Rishta and the Baroness were missing. Azrael perceived their live auras at the same distance as before they fell into this strange place. An illusion. Something strange happened in addition to all, for all the angels and the man reflected in the mirrors: all but Azrael. Maybe the man still couldn’t see the angels, but the fact is, Azrael didn’t reflect in the mirrors.

Raziel had just stepped into the manor when the room became an encapsulated mirror room. The door was gone. He could see all of the reflections of the angels in the room, except for Azrael. Strange. He looked down at his own reflection. He could see his true form. And so could anyone else. He shrugged, and shifted into his angelic form. The others, even invisible, cast reflections of their forms into the mirror. The man was smart; he’d see and know anyway. To save trouble,… He could always ask Azrael’s assistance in casting a spell to wipe away this bit of his memory. His shimmering gray robes flowed liquid-like as he folded his six sky blue wings and summoned the Sapientia. He slammed the tip of it down; the mirror did not crack, and he heard the thump of stone. It WAS an illusion, and a rather simple one he had used once. He passed a look to Gabriel and Azrael. He did what he did for reasons; perhaps this would confuse the evil. He set to work unraveling the spell; large, now, because of the area.

The Head General opened up his wings quickly so that he wouldn’t fall or lose his balance. He hovered in midair, his eyes surveying the area sharply and carefully. Raphael could sense a person with strong powers nearby, casting an attack on them. He frowned and said nothing, as he flew around, flapping his wings angrily.

Adriel heard the thump of stone as Raziel slammed the tip of Sapientia down; the mirror did not crack. Also like Azrael, she could perceive the living souls of Rishta and the Baroness in the same location as before; they were immersed in an illusion. Following Azrael and Gabriel’s example, Adriel did not let fall her invisibility. She cast a worried look at the dark-haired man as Raziel appeared in his true form; Adriel wondered if the man could see them in the mirrors, though. She looked into the mirrors; parallel as they were to one another, the reflections repeated and repeated to the Infinite; some were angled and showed different variations, but she realized Azrael was not in any of them… why? Adriel bit her lip and tightened her grip on the Blade of Life. She waded in the mist that covered the floor and stayed close to the others as Raziel tried to unravel the illusion spell.

Gabriel shook his head, mock mournfully. He knew Raziel meant for both of them to be visible, but he refused to comply. At least he would have a modicum of protection as an invisible archer, even with his reflection. He knocked another arrow, aiming to Jonathon. Who knew what the man would do when he saw an unveiled angel. Maybe go insane. //Sorry, Raziel. Too dangerous for me.//

Everything seemed to happen at once. He was thrown off his wolf, which was promptly speared by some unknown attacker, and then, everything went dead white. A sharp, painful light that struck at his chest like a poisoned icicle, and drowned out the rest of the world around him. The dull buzzing in the back of his mind was amplified a thousand-fold, turning into a pounding river of noise. ‘P… power… my God, what… what could have this much… power…?’ Johnathon sank to his knees and clutched at his ears, trying to block out the terrible screaming going on in his head. If he noticed that his ears were starting to bleed, he didn’t seem to pay much attention to it. ‘It’s been building all night… first with that tall stranger… then stronger, when the wolves were being slain… and now… oh, Lord, please! Make it stop! I can’t take it any–!’ Whether by God’s hand or not, the pain became too great for Johnathon. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he passed out on the mirrored floor in a heap.

When the dark-haired man sank to his knees and clutched at his ears, showing unbearable pain; his eyes went blank and he collapsed on the floor, passing out. Adriel went to his side and crouched down beside him. He was knocked out, yet he was breathing well enough. There was blood coming out of his ears. Adriel loosened the neck of his shirt and tie to make sure he could breath easily. “This man is unconscious. If we get attacked again… we’d better take him out with us. At least to a safer place.” Adriel put his hair out of his face, so it wouldn’t get into his nose or mouth. She perceived a trace of the black arts in him; not only by proximity… but by practice? Was he an adept of Belial or some other demon? However, she couldn’t be sure because she didn’t get a clear lecture of evil from him. She looked at Raziel to see how his work was going.

The Archer didn’t want to show it, but the human’s sudden blackout frightened him. ‘Human? So you’re now so much better than the rest of us, pretty boy?’ His conscience taunted him with the voice of his tormenters. ‘No… But I’m not human.’ “I think it may be all of our energy… Here at once. Probably because he styles himself as some sort of mage, he’s too sensitive to us.”

Raziel forced the voices of the angels and the distracting sounds around him to the back of his mind, assuming the meditative oblivion necessary when making or unmaking a complicated spell. This was no merely simple illusion as the others allowed themselves to be captured through it. He forced his consciousness through Sapientia, using it as a focus. Grasping the tiny wriggling threads of the spell, he ‘cut’, ‘pulled’, and tore at it until only the writhing base knot was left… He grasped both ends in his ‘hands’ and gave a mighty pull.

* * * * * * * * * *

“I’m fine…” She wasn’t. But Autumn said it anyway, getting up from the ground and dusting herself off, as if they both merely tripped. Inside she wanted to double over in pain, and sob until everything was fixed. But a lady never showed a sign of weakness, especially when your survival depended on it. “I’m not sure where we are… I’ve… never seen a place like this before.” Autumn peered around, reaching out to touch the cave walls. As Rishta turned to do some investigating of her own, Autumn took that moment to brace herself and rest. Down farther in the cavern they heard noises… Strange sounds that couldn’t have been human, and definitely didn’t sound natural. Autumn pushed herself off the wall, looking to Rishta who had noticed the sounds as well. “We should investigate… Evil or not, it’s better than staying in the dark.”

“NO! I suggest you do not move. There is something not right about this place.” Rishta could sense it – she had felt the FALL, but the landing had been softer… like the ground, not like stone. Her power was mind, and so she could feel this was a trick, like a poke in her mind. Swiftly she raised her sword and brought it down, and instead of hitting stone and sending sparks, it sank into the ground. “See. This place isn’t real. I think we are still outside.” But the noises were getting louder. From the folds of her skirt she drew a dagger – the only other weapon she carried…. and that was when she was worried. “Here. Take this. It might be a help…”

Autumn held the cool metal of the dagger tightly in her hand as they walked down the corridor towards the noises and small beams of light they saw up ahead. They really had no other choice than to move, as standing wasn’t getting them anywhere. As they reached the end of the corridor, they seemed to see a large, round mirror box. Almost like a giant glass music box. Autumn took in a deep breath as she gazed into the reflections of the mirror. She was covered in blood, dirt, and her clothes were torn.. Her dark auburn hair had fallen free of its clips and she was a general mess. But Lady Rishta… Lady Rishta’s reflection was more confusing to Autumn, she had wings and seemed to have a bright aura of light encircling her… ‘An angel… That explains her appearing so suddenly. …Wait… that is the same light I saw around Raziel in the camera!’ Gaining her composer, Autumn didn’t let on that she noticed the woman’s true reflection, or the thoughts that were running around in her mind. She was sure he meeting Raziel was by chance only, but now there was something serious taking place. Anastasia couldn’t have been involved… or could she? Perhaps she wanted to be rid of her guests, and hired a new creature… not knowing an Angel would be there to stop it.

“Rishta! Look out!” Autumn jumped, half tackling half shoving Rishta out of the way, of huge sharp looking vines that seemed to shoot out from the wall in her direction. The two girls hit the sides of the mirror, causing a bright flash of light and the pair seemed to be absorbed into the mirror!

She watched as the two women tumbled through the glass and fell into the center of the mirror box, along with the other angels and her latest toy. The others looked on in surprised, yet the one casting the spell still was not distracted. He was trying to disrupt her beautiful illusion. It was time to leave. “A parting gift for our little toys… összehúzódás!!” The room of mirrors that kept the Angels and Humans trapped suddenly flashed a blinding light, causing them all to cover their eyes for a brief moment.. The walls started to contract, and move in towards the center. The room was shrinking! Anyone who touched the walls were repaid with a painful shock of energy and blasted back to the center. “Good day, my loves. Until another time. Come, pet! Let us have tea!”

Rishta was shocked when they had encountered the box and then the reflection was more astounding. There was herself but, not herself – her angel form. She was so shocked that she didn’t even notice the vines until the baroness had shoved her away. She looked at the woman… she knew. There was a light in her eyes. And then they were absorbed into the mirror. When they fell out of it again, Rishta saw the others. “Hello again, lovely day, no?” She said, a bit sarcastically. Then the walls began to close. “Oh my…. this is great…” Rishta went forward and touched her sword against the wall, and it emitted sparks. Quickly she pulled back and looked at it in amazement. Then she realized that Autumn knew. Quietly she projected to all the angels: //Um… everyone, the baroness knows what I am… possible Raziel too… there was this mirror, and my reflection was in it… she saw. What about that human? He looks out of it…. at least for now.//

Raziel remained rock steady; he was too far into his trance to even note the floor rumbling. Someone could kill him and he wouldn’t notice. Sapientia was slowly sinking into the floor, but its apparent length never altered. His face had gained marble serenity. The knot had unfurled new tangles as soon as the second spell was fired off. His ‘hands’ were in danger of being caught and pulled in. If he were in human form he would be sweating. He was grasping at flailing strands and yanking, tearing at them with no care for finesse. He had to break this… He grasped something that shocked his ‘hand’ and for a moment, reeled. He braced himself and yanked. That was the end of the pain spell. He kept on.

Gabriel screeched as the pain spell hit his back and blasted him to the center of the chamber. He bounced off a VERY rigid Raziel and fell into the floor, all pretense of invisibility lost. He whimpered and closed his eyes. That had HURT.

Adriel blinked in alarm as the Baroness and Rishta joined them; Gabriel touched the constraining walls and a powerful force blasted him to the center of the chamber. The angel picked up the unconscious dark-haired man and moved with him to the center of the chamber. Adriel kept her wings closed to occupy the less space possible. “Gabriel, are you alright?” Adriel turned herself visible. It was no use now to retain the invisibility upon her. “Watch out, stay away from the walls!,” she warned the others. The room was shrinking more and more!

Because she didn’t reflect in the mirrors therefore the humans couldn’t see her, Azrael retained her invisibility. Only the angels could see her by now. As Raziel brought the pain spell to an end, she moved to the center of the room and held Filos horizontally over her head; the weapon still was in the shape of a spear. Azrael relied on Raziel to break the illusion, but Filos could gain more time stopping the walls when they reached the central area of the chamber, hopefully enough to protect everybody.

Since the baroness was not moving, Rishta pulled them both towards the center of the chamber – feeling very uneasy. She then bent down, and looked Gabriel over. “Are you all right Gabriel?” She said softly, that wall must have hurt, because he had yelled so. She then saw Azrael’s actions, and decided to do something similar. She pushed her sword into one wall, and pushed, keeping all her force on her weapon. It kept on emitting sparks, but she held it steady, as it slowed the wall down some. “I… don’t know… how long… I can hold this…” She said, she wanted to say we, but she knew Azrael was invisible, and would like to remain undetected. Meanwhile, despite their efforts, the wall kept on closing in… threatening to kill them all.

Raphael flew over to Rishta. “Are you alright.” he asked, looking at her. It didn’t take long when he flew away from Rishta without waiting for a response to the side of Adriel. He hit the mirror. Raphael glared. A dozen mirrors, and they were going to crush them! Raphael closed his eyes and relied on his other senses as he flew slowly over and he reached… Raphael touched Adriel’s arm, and he opens his eyes. “Any idea what we can do?” he asked her.

Adriel was happy to see Raphael again and whole. She had lost sight of him when she got into the fight against the dire wolves. She smiled at him. “It’s you! It’s good to see you again! I don’t know yet what we’ll do. Raziel’s unraveling the spells but meanwhile we’ve managed to stay in the center of the room; she’s using her spear to gain some time of the walls come too closer…” She motioned at Azrael, not wanting to mention her name since she noticed Azrael chose to remain invisible to human eyes. “This man passed out.” Adriel still held the dark-haired man. “I brought him along or else the walls would’ve crushed him. Gabriel thinks he might be too sensitive to our auras.”

The half-ling merely nodded when Raphael asked her if she was all right. She was glad to feel all their auras around, and now she didn’t feel so lost. Finally she just gave up. The sword had made a dent in the mirror, but her arm was going to fall off. She had no control over her now numb arm, and so she dropped the sword. But she picked it up with her other hand and sheathed it. “You know, lucky I know you all – otherwise I would be very uncomfortable in a few minutes.” Rishta said, only half-heartedly. Meanwhile she was thinking ‘Come on Raziel! You can do it! I am getting claustrophobic!’ However, this was all in her head – Raziel was busy. But this next message was for Adriel. //Adriel, you know your weapon? The Blade of Life, right? Raziel gave me a book – all weapons. It had yours. How about you change it into a spear and place it the opposite of Azrael’s? That will ensure it not closing rapidly one way, and slower in the other. Maybe then we will have a longer life span.//

Adriel carefully laid the dark-haired man down by her feet so that he’d be within the area of protection provided by the spears. //That’s a good idea//, she sent message to Rishta’s mind and smiled at her, despite the stress that wanted to seize her temper. Adriel raised her hand in the air and the Blade of Life shone beneath her translucent skin. The Blade flowed out like a ray of light and when Adriel closed her hand, it materialized in the shape of a long spear. Adriel held it up horizontally, perpendicular to Azrael’s Filos as the walls came closer to them. Adriel smiled at Raphael in a mix of apology and a little humor. //My aunt wanted me to invite you over for dinner. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to go//, she sent him a mental message, holding the Blade of Life as the walls came closer.


All looked up in surprised as a loud cracking sound from above echoed in their ears. Even Raziel’s concentration was broken as he gazed up to see something lodged into the center of the glass mirror room. The electricity seem to collected around that point, then finally shatter into a bright flash of flying shards of broken pieces… Michael himself dropped down gracefully into the center of the now normal looking main hall, holding his hand out to catch his sword. Only for it to fall unceremoniously to the opposite site with an embarrassing clank. He quickly snatched up the sword with mild irritation, and turned away from the others, heading towards the door. “Just thought I’d lend a hand…” He quickly ran up the steps, not bothering to look back.

The illusion was now broken, everything looking as it did before anyone arrived… as if nothing had happened at all. Autumn blinked in surprise as this new man left just as quickly as he came, then turned back to looking at the other guests. Most having dropped their invisibility spells long ago. She sighed, looking down at the poor stranger who wanted so badly to defeat evil, only to be knocked out for most of the fight. She found humor in this, despite its strangeness. Gathering her strength to stand, and dusting off unseen particles of dust, she crossed her arms in a movement of unconscious defense and put on her most calm smile. “I was going to ask several questions, but I don’t believe you would answer them if I did. For now, can we just…” she paused for a moment, loosing track of what she was going to say. She would have preferred to faint and let them deal with it all, but she felt responsible and needed to take care of the situation. Or at least her only human guest.

Raphael scowled as Michael left. The guy really annoyed him. Would he stop hopping around like nothing was going on? Still in invisible form, he flew over to Jonathon and frowned, toying with Strife in his hand. He sensed bad vibes from him, and he had the urge to stab his dagger straight through Jonathon, though it was kind of a despicable to end his life while the poor guy was still unconscious. He considered the factors that he would stop possible future harm from Jonathon and he wouldn’t be in pain when he died…

Azrael was surprised to see Michael there. As he left after the illusion was broken and the chamber went back to normal, the archangel of death and destruction held Filos in her right hand and followed Michael.

The young angel was startled at the sudden change. She gasped when Michael left and Azrael promptly followed him. Adriel stood next to the unconscious Jonathon and looked at the Baroness. Was she really aware of what they were? It seemed like. The Blade of Life returned to Adriel’s body. Adriel blinked when she realized Raphael would be more than glad to get rid of the dark-haired man. She had her doubts about him, because she perceived he was a dark-arts user; she couldn’t tell for reels if he was subject of the evil forces – yet. She looked up at Raphael. “Do you perceive evil in him?,” she asked with her gaze in his, her gold and green eyes wide in sort of compassion to the man and uncertainty.

“He practices the dark arts. Few practitioners of the dark arts are good… Take Belial for example.” was all Raphael answered to Adriel’s question. He glanced at Jonathon again and decided not to kill him as he put Strife away. If Jonathon were up to any mischief in the future, Raphael would just round him up with the other angels and be rid of him. He kept his wings and just stood there waiting for the guy to regain consciousness, or for something to call upon his attention.

Adriel sighed and nodded. Still she wasn’t too convinced, but she pulled the man onto a sofa in the room and laid him there. She also still had her angelic form. Adriel folded her four wings on her back and puffed her feathers slightly in discomfort. “You’re most probably right…” Adriel looked down. The house was still ominous yet the evil had receded; Adriel wanted to leave this dark place. “Baroness…” Adriel raised her eyes to look at her. “This evil inside the house has deep roots. Have you been living with it all this time? Why?”

Rishta was shocked when the spell was dropped, and was even more shocked when she saw who the “savior” was. Michael! The Michael? She walked over to Autumn. “I know you have realized who we are… but I cannot allow you to remember. I am sorry.” Rishta looked at her, waiting for a reaction. She knew she was going to be mad, and possible indignant. She even wondered if the baroness was going to faint, or slap her. She wouldn’t put it past her… so, Rishta stood there, looking the baroness right in the eyes, waiting for her reaction.

“I doubt there is much you can do about that. I believe I’d have discovered your secret eventually…” It was almost arrogant of her to say so, but it was close to the truth. She already knew something was odd about Raziel, and if she had met any of the others at a later date, she would have eventually discovered it… Normally she would have been insulted by the Lady’s assumptions, but she understood the need to keep a secret. Autumn turned away from Rishta and glanced at Adriel in mild confusion. “Anastasia and I have only been here for the season. We usually stay at our home in Hungary. Though, I believe the manor is at least a few centuries old… It’s been in the family for quite some time.” She rubbed her head, focusing her attention on the man how had finally regain consciousness.

‘Hrrmph… ugh… my head… Wake up…!’ Opening his eyes hurt. Breathing hurt. Thinking hurt. Johnathon could still feel the last shreds of pain lingering in his chest as he opened his eyes and started to regain consciousness. The holy ward in his pocket was like a lump of cold fire pressing up against his chest. It was reacting very strongly to something in the house. Something in the room. Johnathon was not surprised at all. It would take something extraordinary to surprise him at this point. And then, he saw the angels. .”..oh,” he choked in utter surprise. “Oh, great. This is wonderful.” Johnathon looked up at the winged woman leaning over him, and gave a heavy sigh. “I’m dead, aren’t I? Please tell me this is only the first stop before Heaven.”

Raphael tilted his head to one side and said in half-scorn, “You nearly did.” at that, Raphael cast off his invisible mode and let himself show, “Just let me warn you that I will be watching you, young man.” Raphael said coldly, “Another wrong move and you are a dead person.”

“I think you’re upsetting him…” Autumn murmured, motioning to kneel towards the man, but common sense warned her not to do so. He seemed harmless enough, but it was his intent to kill her before. He may still have the same intent once he was less confused. Giving a weary sigh, she glanced over her shoulder at Raziel with an almost pleading look. “There is too much here for me to deal with…”

Adriel moved one of her wings and the feathers touched the man’s forehead. As angel of death she felt the natural impulse to comfort about the idea of death and afterlife. She strongly noticed he expressed a wish to go to Heaven. “Your Time has not come,” she explained to Johnathon after Raphael spoke. “You have not died… What is your hope? For I can tell you’re a dark arts user. What lead do you follow?” Adriel folded her wing again. When the Baroness answered her question, Adriel nodded slightly. “Roots grow fast and fasten to the bones of the land,” she murmured. “However, there’s evil in the house, and it’s pounding.”

Rishta simply looked at the baroness, her eyes dark but accepting. “I am sorry, but I can change your mind – and I will.” Rishta walked up to the baroness and placed her hand on her shoulder. “Raziel would agree with me.” She then turned to her, and looked at her. “There is no other way – well, there is one: death. But it is not your time, and so – really, you have no choice… Are you ready?”

Raziel sent a silent greeting to Michael, thanking him for destroying the illusion. Too bad he himself didn’t have the strength to physically break them. He cloaked himself in invisibility, withdrawing Sapienta and allowing things to play out, catching up on the recent events in the Tome, using surface memories of the other angels. It wasn’t a great enough transgression to cause note; he must record without regards. It seemed that Gabriel agreed; he had used air to mute himself completely.

Gabriel was bored… He didn’t really care about whether or not someone was going to die or the necessity of mind wiping. He was more worried about Uriel. Maybe he should check up on her; she was badly wounded and vulnerable… Not to mention the other. Yeah, he loved.

“No! That’s just unacceptable.” She pulled away from Rishta, slowly, but still rather agitated. She glanced around the room, finding most of the angels gone. Even Raziel, which was almost a disappointment. He had remained so close by until now. Autumn thought quickly and moved to stand behind a table to keep distance between herself and the angel. “What if… the evil returns! If I have no memory, how will I protect myself, or call for help?” It was a long shot, and she knew she could find some way to survive. She always had. But Autumn was desperate to keep these memories. The more she knew about the world around her, the more likely she could use it to help her. “And I will not have one of you lurking around my home in the shadows. So please don’t suggest it…” Autumn rubbed her forehead lightly. She wanted rest, but to let her guard down now, might mean a presumptuous angel erasing her memory. “However that man would be better off not knowing a thing…”

Adriel opened her upper pair of wings, leaving the other pair closed behind her as Autumn sought refuge from Rishta. //Rishta, let us not rush things… This woman lives with some evil in her home. She can’t be left helpless.// Adriel spoke to Rishta’s mind, for she strongly perceived Autumn had not told all about the evil they could sense in the house. //We’d better watch to discover the root of this evil. Humans have kept your secret. She might as well keep ours, if she gets to trust us.// Adriel half-closed her wings.

Rishta simply sighed. She listened to Adriel and stared into Autumns eyes. She gave up then. “Fine. You will retain your memories – under one condition: you will not tell anyone – not even your mother-in-law. And I wasn’t planning on stalking you anyways – I do have other things to attend to.” Rishta was getting highly agitated now, almost mad. This was not how she wanted to spend her day. Oh well. “Listen Baroness… I know I may have been persistent, but I am sorry. As long as you keep the condition, you will keep your memories.” //Adriel… just so you know… no human has ever known my half-breed nature. Do you really think we can trust her? She seems to run into trouble here and there – what if demons torture her for information!? She may sway. I don’t know what to do anymore….// Rishta sighed again, suddenly aware how tired she was. This was too much. When she got home, she was going to bed – and not even the Devil was going to wake her!

//Humans are capable of great love and loyalty; your mother looked after you and did all for you, yet she was human. Humans can be our enemies, but also our allies; we need them and take care of them.// Adriel smiled at Rishta and there was a light of hope and faith in her face. //My hope is renovated, for all the archangels are here in the city.// Adriel looked down at Johnathon on the sofa. //About this man, Rishta. I am not sure what’s his lead…// Adriel had compassion in her eyes.

“Autumn.” Adriel moved to her and raised her hand in a friendly gesture. She brought the Baroness’s name from what the angels of death can see in the souls. “I perceive there’s a turmoil in the house, and something beyond your words torments you. I want you to know, if you decide to trust us we’ll help you with all our power. Please do keep this things secret. You know best than we can express there’s something dark and evil lurking in the shadow; I offer you help and you are free to take it or leave it. The offer will remain open.”

“I will keep your secret. I have nothing to loose or gain from it…” As Rishta turned away, Autumn gave her a look she would typical give a spoiled teenager pitching a tantrum. She doubt the woman’s frustration came from tonight’s events alone, but she wouldn’t question about them. As long as she could keep her memories, everything would be fine. “I don’t need any help, but thank you none the less.” It must’ve been pride keeping her from asking for any assistance. But she had survived this long without any help from human or angel otherwise… There was no reason to make things more complicated than they were now. “I believe it’s time for you both to leave, before Mother returns home. Unless you want to be discovered of course.” Autumn smiled softly then cast her gaze on the male guest. “I can deal with him…”

“Excuse me,” Johnathon said icily, “but in case you haven’t forgotten, ‘Baroness’, I’m still here. And I am certainly not having my memory erased. This entire mess… is… partially my fault to begin with.” He slowly rose from the couch, made his way past the angels, and stood before Autumn. “I would like to make amends, if I may. I am offering my services, as an exorcist and occultist. If I can help you, by life, or by death, then I shall.” Johnathon cleared his throat, and shrugged his coat higher up onto his shoulders. “Besides…I may have more stake in this than you realize…”

Adriel closed her wings and watched Johnathon talk to Autumn. She tilted her head slightly, for she did not fully approve this man, but it was also true free will was the gift on Man. She could not interfere if Autumn accepted his help and his presence in her home. “Thank you, Autumn,” she said with a nod and a smile. She looked at Johnathon. “How are you involved in the later events?,” she asked. “Are you on of the Necromancer’s followers?”

//I agree – humans are our friends, but our deadliest enemies as well. I am glad she will be quiet – even though her intentions are somewhat selfish. Maybe now we are gathered – we will be more prepared. And that man… he feels evil, but at the same time – not so. He confuses me.// Rishta smiled but looked lost – the baroness made it so difficult! “Baroness – there are people who would kill you for the simply knowledge you possess.” Rishta said simply, not intending to frighten or anything. She turned and looked at the reviving man, her eyes dark. She didn’t fully trust him, but there was the issue of free will. That reminded her of someone: Tabris. He was the angel or demon… of free will. Did he..? Nah. This guy was simply another man who thought he had the power to control the stars. ‘Is it free will, or destiny?’ “Adriel… maybe we should leave them. After all, they do not seem to want our assistance, and we have to meet with the others.”

“Thrall of a necromancer? Certainly not,” Johnathon bristled. “My father was an occultist, you see, as was my grandfather, and my great-grandfather before him. You could say, I’ve inherited the family business…” Johnathon cleared his throat, and turned to Adriel with a stern look on his face. “And, while we’re on the subject, I must insist you stop accusing me of carrying traffic with Lucifer, thank you very much. Being the servants of God is no excuse for being rude.” He was scolding an angel. Johnathon felt like he was going to throw up. “Now… if you’re going to leave, then don’t let us stand in your way. However, if you’re going to exorcise the evil from this house, I suggest we get started immediately. There’s no telling when that devilish woman will return.” Not waiting for an answer from the Heavenly host, Johnathon removed his holy ward and Bible from his coat pockets. He’d rid this house of its darkness, with or without their help. Though, truth be told, he wished they would stay and help. But he’d do it alone, if he had to.

Adriel looked at Rishta as she spoke; she knew Rishta was right and they’d better leave and join the others, but it was disturbing to have to leave the humans on their own in the house. Adriel knew it was their right and their choice on free will, though; she ought to respect that. Then the dark-haired man turned to her and spoke words of scold. Adriel opened her eyes wide in innocent surprise like a reprimanded child who doesn’t understand why she’s being scolded. Her feathers puffed giving her a curious fluffy look and there was a soft light about her, for she was perplexed and still confused about him. Adriel however did not reply. She blinked when he stated he was going to exorcise the place. Maybe he called the Necromancer by other names, for he had many. Still, Johnathon pulled out a Bible and he rejected having to do with carrying traffic with Lucifer. Adriel strongly wished she could stay.

She sighed, but still smiled at the Lady Rishta, who still seemed determined to prove her point. Autumn didn’t doubt she was right on many accounts, but pride prevented her from agreeing. “I’m sure I would be killed long before the knowledge of angels graced my lips.” Autumn covered her mouth to hide a small smile of amusement at the other angel’s reaction to the man’s comments. It was certainly an interesting scene after the day’s confusing events. “You should both go. I will be fine, and I doubt there will be any more problems…” She gently removed the bible from the hands of the man, and gave him a pleasant smile. “There will be no exorcism tonight. I don’t believe you are well enough to take on such a task. You should rest before you go…” It was very ironic coming from her, who was obviously in worse shape the all of them put together, yet she remained perfectly calm and poised as if the events were nothing more than a small tiff.

Rishta listened to the man’s speech at Adriel and became extremely annoyed. He was simply asking for a beating by insulting a friend. She walked straight up to the man and looked at him in the eye. “You may not be the necromancer, but you certainly are doing a good impression of it. Another thing – exorcism is barely necessary, since the evil has left – there are only traces of it. And you look like you couldn’t walk out of here in a straight line without falling. I suggest both you and the baroness rest… and next time you insult my friend, you will wish you were with the necromancer – he would protect you from me.” She then turned to the baroness, feeling like these mortals were just being stubborn – then again, she was like that too. “Fine, fine, whatever you wish Baroness. And I suggest you rest – but somewhere else. This place is not safe.” Rishta then decided she was tired of all this. “Listen, I am sure you want me gone – and I want to be gone, but I cannot go anywhere until I know you are safe. So, will you be staying at an inn for now, or will you decided to stay in a house of horrors?”

The man opened his mouthed to give a sharp retort to Rishta, but Autumn quickly intervened. “I’m sure, he perfectly understands and is most apologetic for being so brash, after all it has been quite a night.”

Autumn blinked for a moment at Rishta’s comments to her, then gave an exasperated sigh. “Alright! Alright… I will stay at an Inn. It’s rather bothersome and I must be carried, preferably by my very own guardian angel…” She smiled, showing she wasn’t too series about her comment or upset over being ushered out of her own home. Frankly, it was nice to have an excuse not to stay in the creepy old manor… at least for one night. And with Anastasia visiting her friends, she wouldn’t notice her gone. “I just need a few things… You can wait outside. I promise I won’t make any daring escapes…”

Rishta simply glanced at the man, her face somewhat calculating. “I will wait outside… I need some air to breathe.” Rishta turned to Adriel. “Come on… they will be fine for a minute.” She then walked out, into the sunlight.

Adriel tilted her head at the man with a slight frown, then nodded at the Baroness. Despite the evil had been forced to recede, Adriel was certain its roots were strong into the house. She wished Azrael would return and fight the Darkness, but perhaps the archangel had seen deeper than her or had other plans. Plus Michael had returned – again. “We’ll wait outside,” she said, leaving to join the others out.

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