Holding up the invisibility spell, Angel flew back up with unconscious Aramis in his arms, flying close to the huge walls of the Abbey and took refuge in a cornice next to a gutter, behind a gargoyle. The space was tight, but the abrupt slope of the roofs did not offer much shelter and he stayed away from the towers. Azrael was seemingly gone; Angel’s fingers were cold and he was furious at the realization of how careless he had been, letting himself get carried away by his emotions. The abbey was the worst place to stay, for the holy energies were too strong and dark protective spells were difficult to cast. Aramis bled profusely; his chest was soaked with blood and blood dripped from his back, staining his feathers; the spear had caused great damage, plus it was a holy weapon. Angel was worried, but now he was about to get scared. Angel used feathers and strips from Aramis’ robes to try and stop the bleeding for some time.
To cast spells in the Abbey would require additional energies he had better uses for, so he took the risk and flew off the Abbey of Westminster with Aramis in his arms. Alert and tense, he flew away from the abbey and at some distance he took refuge in another roof, then cast a spell that transported them back to their Londoner mansion.
Belial’s mansion in London was a ‘protected’ spot; he had spent quite some time planning and weaving the web of spells that made his lair rather secure. Rather in his concept because he was a perfectionist; he was constantly adding and retouching details. The Necromancer’s halls were deadly traps for intruders, arch demons included. It was a bother for him to have visits, and he kept the service short – Belial always worked fast and alone, with little interference and he hated to have people (demons or not) lurking around when he was busy.
Angel took Aramis to the basement, far deeper through corridors open in the rock and into a vault he had previously prepared, as a precaution against situations like this. He locked himself in with Aramis, alone. What he was about to do, he couldn’t do in the open – specially now. Of all his secrets, this was the one he kept more carefully than all the others.
Azrael had not quite left – yet. She had turned into the shadows of the abbey in one of the towers, immaterial and dark, shapeless. The Westminster Abbey was also a cemetery; walls and towers rose into the gray skies in an attempt to reach the heavens. The arrows, the pointed archways, the roofs: the abbey’s forms pleaded to break the material world and become part of the City of God. Azrael faded into the holy energies, covered herself with the cloak of death and contemplation that dominated the place and waited. So immerse in her Elements, Belial would hardly detect her. Azrael watched him leave. How strange things had been; she meditated on the final moments of the fight and tried to unweave her realizations. A thunder cracked across the gray, lifeless skies. Azrael was certain there was more to his ability to split than apparent – she kept this in her mind and meditated on it in silence.
Hours had passed when Angel finished casting the healing spells in the hidden vault; he had cured most of the lethal wound but still, the loss of blood was an issue. Aramis was still unconscious. Energies pounded within Aramis’ pale, now translucent flesh, still working… working… Angel leaned against the onyx and silver altar and watched his twin in silence.
“Tell me things can get somehow better”, he murmured. He had a bad feeling and he snickered at it. It was more proper of Aramis to have such thoughts. Angel’s laughter died quickly. He went to a bench by the wall and sat there, leaning against the cold stone wall: the protection spells sent a small tingle through his body. Angel closed his eyes and brushed his hand past his forehead. The secret weighed on his shoulders and he allowed himself some minutes of depressive thoughts. Angel opened his eyes and rubbed his hands on his robe. His robe was silvery white. His black robes laid in a mess on a nearby table, next to the Black Scroll.
He, as Angel, had promised himself he’d not wear white robes anymore and this was the closest match he had found, when Belial realized he couldn’t keep that promise. Angel swallowed. He had done many things, as well wondrous and great as stupid and risky and his last deed, the breaking of the Seal of the Abyss, was one he had long ambitioned. Now he wondered if that ritual he had prepared and successfully carried out would bring his doom upon him. He didn’t care about Lilith and Azazel’s revenge against Heaven. Lucifer had promised Belial they’d be free and they’d live in the world as they pleased; but the first ambitions had turned into bonds of steel.
Aramis didn’t move. There was a light to his face, and no pain showed in his beautiful features. Angel bit his lip, dark lord of shadows in his corner of the vault. He convinced himself once more they were safe, and the secret was safe in the open, for no one would ever realize what would be obvious if there were compassion in the hearts of demons and hatred enough in the heart of angels.
Angel sighed. He left the bench and changed his robes to black again. Gathering dark energies, he applied about half an hour to mask and dissipate the white energies he had summoned from… He murmured spells and traced signs and sigils, patiently till the levels descended to nearly non-existent. Once this was done, he stood next to Aramis and pulled a black blanket on him before seizing him and leaving the vault, which he carefully sealed behind them.
After some time, Azrael assumed her angelic form again and took flight from the towers of the Abbey of Westminster, invisible to human eyes. She patiently searched for Belial’s trace, yet it was too subtle and he had hidden his final destination. Azrael stood on top of a house, covering her body with two pairs of wings, keeping the upper pair of wings open; with Filos in her right hand in the shape of a spear and her hair flaming in the wind like a black fire, Azrael Fear Itself was an ominous figure. Her pale shoulder flashed as the flowing black robe waved in the wind; blood has stained it and even dry it was of a dark scarlet red. The holy energies she gathered at the Abbey had provided healing. Immutable, Azrael searched for the Necromancer.
She had sensed Raziel and Michael going back to that dark manor, and Azazel was there. The mother was, also. Azrael didn’t pause in her search, but she stayed alert in case they needed her.
For some time, Azrael followed different traces of Belial and she got notice of some of the evil he had carried out in the last days. The scarce, elusive traces crossed at a park – the same park in which she had seen Belial the day he attacked Raphael and Adriel in the library ran by the Oscars. Azrael went to the park. A gothic church rose before the park, and the park held a greenhouse in glass and iron at one side. Azrael took the form of a raven and perched in one of the trees.
Aramis opened his eyes. He had sunk in a dreamless dark, in a cold, bottomless pit – he believed for what seemed ages he had perished, but then he realized Angel was not in the void, thus he wasn’t dead. Aramis waited in that strange limbo. There was no suffering, but there was no joy. However, his heart grieved and the pain within it was unbearable.
He felt the touch of a beam of light, but he did not see it. The force pulled him out of the void and it brought him a sharper pain; when he regained consciousness and opened his eyes again, he found himself in his own bed, leaning against piled up pillows. Aramis rose his hand and pulled the sheets to see his shoulder and chest, where the spear had pierced him through; he found a black silk bandage with a sigil on it, shimmering with dark power. Aramis blinked, for he knew Angel had used powers of a different sort to heal him. Aramis nature could not be fully healed by darkness alone.
“Don’t remove that. The last thing we need is someone to smell what I have done.”
Aramis rose his eyes. Angel was standing in a dark corner of the room, a grim look to his face.
“Were you afraid?”, Angel asked.
Aramis tilted his head and smiled softly.
“No. I was not afraid. I knew we were alive… We survived.”
Angel nodded, grimly.
“Yes, we did. But don’t you ever do such a thing again.”
Aramis was surprised. His beautiful eyes opened wide for an instant, then he looked down at the sheets. “It was the only thing I could do.”
“I know, but still. You scared the wits out of me. Besides…” Angel bit his lip. “I felt exposed.”
Aramis rested against the pillows and closed his eyes.
“I still feel weak…”
Angel bit his lip.
“Sleep is all you’ll get for now. But”, Angel narrowed his eyes, “the late morning Mass is in about an hour, in the church across the park.”
Aramis flinched and opened his eyes, startled.
Click. Angel had left, closing the door behind him.
Pollution of the Sanctuary – one of the three nets of Belial. For generations, for thousands of years, Belial had taught the witches and warlocks of certain disciplines how to steal energies from the sanctuaries and holy places for their own twisted purposes. How Belial Himself realized that was possible? Thanks to his dual nature.
Aramis tried to lay still on his bed and have a little sleep, but his emotions were too restless to allow him some relative peace. Aramis’ pale fingers touched the dark sigil and absently tugged at the black silk bandage. Beneath it, he was fully healed, yet his strength hadn’t recovered. He’d have to do as Angel said. He’d have to…
He, Belial, had been about to be able to kill Azrael. The idea was a thorn of fire piercing his heart and it just wouldn’t go away. Aramis bit his lip and swallowed, the sharp pain his chest making it difficult for him to breathe. Aramis pressed his back against the pillows, anguish and pain showing in his beautiful face. He tried to shove away the pain, but it was a futile intent; Aramis took a deep breath and sat up.
He brushed his hand past his forehead, trying to clear up his mind and calm down some. He pulled one of the sheets to cover up and left the bed. Wrapping the silky fabric around his body, he walked slowly to the dressing room. He did not want to go stealing energies at the church, but as ever things he did had little to do with what he wanted to do. On his way, he passed by a full-body mirror in its ebony pedestal and frame. Aramis stopped and cast a look at himself by the corner of his eye. He allowed the sheet to fall some, leaving his back exposed and freeing his wings as he reassumed his angelic form. The black silk bandage contrasted with his pale skin, but not darker than his hair, long and loose, some strands falling on his face; he absently put those behind his ear. His silver eyes were sad, grieving beneath his thick black eyelashes. His huge wings, in large black and white feathers, needed some grooming. Despite his deep depression, Aramis was of a radiant angelic beauty, but he just didn’t see it. He looked at his image and even though he acknowledged himself, he was thinking of other time. In this mirror, in this image, he evoked the Mirror of Azrael and the image of the two of them reflected on it, when the images of what could be the future stopped. The two of them – that was the future he would have wished, but all was lost. Besides… had there been anything to lose back then?
He tore his gaze from the mirror and went into the dressing room.
In the first floor, in one of the Study Rooms, Angel had a dark sardonic smile upon Aramis’ thoughts. Indolently plopped down in a couch, Angel tasted a goblet of black liquor. Aramis had not even gone back on the notion that Azrael did want them dead as much as he, Angel, wanted to kill her. Azrael had no mercy, no pity or feelings for individuals; this Belial had known. Why couldn’t he then let go of the feelings for her that had tortured him since he had first seen her? That was an interesting topic for a philosophical discussion.
Angel summoned the Black Scroll under the shape of a large tome and opened it. He wrote down notes and commentaries under the Seal of the Abyss breaking spell. It wouldn’t have fully worked without the source power of Azazel, and Moloch’s aid had hasted the outcome by eliminating a loss of power through pain in Azazel’s part. Angel wrote, using one of his own feathers – this manner he had to admit, he learned from Azrael.
After some time, Aramis knocked on the chamber door.
“I’m leaving, Angel…”
“Que te vaya bien(1)”, Angel curtly replied, writing nonstop. “No te demores(2).”
Aramis sighed as he left the mansion, diminishing his aura to go unnoticed by demons and angels. The scarce service they held to keep the mansion in order did not dare to cross his path. When he stepped out, the church bells were ringing solemnly, calling for the next service. Aramis crossed the street and went into the park. With a start, he faintly felt Azrael’s presence… and another angel – a hybrid. Aramis gave a deep sigh and bit his lip, pulling his coat collar round his ears. He crossed the park without delay and went to the church.
Aramis got an awkward feeling when walking into the church. It was a regular service; the place was not too packed and he mixed in rather well. At the gates he had a little trouble, for a young girl noticed he was a foreigner for his Spaniard looks, and she wanted to be helpful getting him to the Holy Water font. Aramis did have to pull a spell on her to make her believe he had actually dipped his fingers in the water and traced the cross on himself as she expected him to. He smiled at her and she managed to stay till her mother took her away. Aramis tried to go unnoticed and sat in one of the last benches, alone.
The service was carried in Latin – language of both science and religion. The parishioners said their prayers and ceremonial replies with solemn, hushed voices; Aramis felt like a stranger, an outsider. He got up when they got up and sat down when they did. He did know the liturgy structure, but he was not there to participate. His gaze lingered on the statues and stained glass windows, featuring scenes from the Bible and saints’ lives. The High Altar was profusely decorated in intricate baroque style. Aramis recognized the different angels in the images and unconsciously looked for Azrael; but there were no images of the archangel of death and destruction.
People stood up to say the Hallelujah and to listen to the Gospel. Aramis was waiting for the Consecration of the Host, when the priest would invoke the presence of the Holy Ghost – the holiest moment and propitious to his purpose. Aramis was perfectly able to endure the whole Mass thanks to his angelic nature, but it was a strange notion to see he had been to Heaven and out, and he never met someone he could say – yes, I was in the presence of God. Aramis bowed his head, lost in his own thoughts. Latin words danced in his ears.
“He said, “A certain man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of your property.’ He divided his livelihood between them. Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living. When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough to spare, and I’m dying with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.”
A forced smile curled Aramis’ lips.
“He arose, and came to his father”, the reader continued. “But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat, and celebrate; for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ They began to celebrate.”
Aramis felt sick for some reason. The story had caught his attention and it was stirring his soul. He wanted to leave, but he forced himself to stay.
“Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants to him, and asked what was going on. He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.’ But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore his father came out, and begged him. But he answered his father, ‘Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
“He said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.'” After a little pause, “This is the Word of God.”
Aramis bit his lip till a drop of blood appeared on it. Could be due to the loss of blood in the fight with Azrael or due to his depression state, but he felt dizzy. Aramis placed his hands on the back of the bench in the next row and leaned forward. He sat down when the people did to listen to the preach. He missed the preach, again lost in thought. Aramis somehow saw himself as the lost son, but he quickly discarded the idea. Needless to say, there was no Father to match his case. Besides… there was no turning back for him in any case, and it wasn’t necessary to try to guess the elder son aka angelic host reaction to such a hypothesis. What was the value on mankind and why the Angelic Host was to serve them? These remained without an answer… Didn’t they? How they could be so wrong? Belial was aware of good and evil, but seemed after they made their choice and Fell that any reconsidering was ridiculous. It was now a matter of survival – survival of the fittest.
A little girl passed with the offerings basket and skittered over to him, for he was alone in the row. Aramis cast a blank look at her, emerging from the deep dark ocean of his thoughts and the girl blinked, then reached up and patted his head. She went collecting to the next rows. Aramis blinked, too. He brushed his hand past his forehead, as trying to clear up his ideas. After the Collect prayer, the Consecration moment finally arrived.
The silver bell rang, marking the moment. Aramis knelt down as people did, but in the dark behind his hands and his bowed forehead, he cast a spell. The priest invoked the Holy energies and Aramis pulled a string to himself, transmuting the Holy energies in a mystic alchemy to fill his need for strength, absorbing them into his body. The energy flowed, filling him and restoring him. Aramis shivered in the sensation, for it stirred once more his soul. He laid his forehead on his arms and stayed there in a sort of emptiness, his mind blank.
After the service was over, Aramis waited till the most of the people left. He was exhausted emotionally, despite he was again fully healed and restored. He wished he could go back to his bed and sleep the rest of the day, the rest of the millennium, the rest of his life. The images and statues haunted him with unwanted memories – he needed to go.
Rishta was flying away when she decided to stop. She didn’t FEEL like going home. It hung on her mind why – but it was obvious. She was almost scared of being alone there now. She felt she needed someone to talk too. I guess we are all changing… maybe I am changing the most… And so she dropped into a nearby park. Looking around, there was no one. She made her wings disappear and walked out into the path.
Humming to herself she admired the scenery. Almost like an Eden… but you could see man there. There were traces of this. It was odd, but she didn’t feel she belonged anywhere. Not in the human world, or the angelic one. And so she continued walking along the path, hoping no human would see her, her dress was still bloody. But she felt quite safe, as it was early morn, and she was in a remote part of the park.
Last book of the series… There has to be something worthwhile in here. Samael mused, as he walked, flipping through he pages of the old worn out volume. His methods of binding demons were becoming increasingly ineffectual. The seals on the abyss had to of been majorly damaged, if not broken completely… He could sense an incredible pull from the dark arts, something had to be done.
“Ah ha!!” he exclaimed out loud, reading an excerpt from the book. Combined blood of an angel and a human… It’s no wonder this spell isn’t widely known. If half-breed child is almost impossible!
Samael snapped the book closed with an irritable snort. He could search for a half breed, but who knows how long such a task would take. The demons were rising in power, and he had only so much strength to resist before ‘he’ came for him once again. There had to be a sealing spell somewhere…
Walking down the park path, returning to his home, he noticed a woman. It wasn’t too early for morning walkers, but her tattered clothing was of some curiosity to him. He would have preferred to ignore the woman and return home to his research, but he couldn’t deny an injured party…
“Miss…? Do you need assistance?”
“I? I am fine… thank you for your offer.” Rishta had turned towards the man, who had asked her if she required help. It touched her, as most people would have kept walking: the English were known for being somewhat stuffy. She turned and studied him. He was shorter than her, and appeared older – well, that was a laugh. She would always be older when it came to mortals. He seemed preoccupied, though and she had half a mind to ask him if something was wrong. She smoothed out the bloody dress, knocking aside a few feathers, which had shed, from her wings. Praying he didn’t notice them she glanced at him.
“If you will excuse me sir, but I ask you the same. Do you need assistance? You seem to be a bit preoccupied with something; maybe I can be of some help.” Rishta said, looking at him oddly. She sensed something about him, like the other man she had seen in the Baroness’ house. The man works with magic. I know it… but for good? Or for bad? It would be wise not to say anything. It is at times like these that make me wish I listened more often.
Under the form of a raven, Azrael meticulously groomed her wings feathers, keeping watch over the park awaiting Belial. The raven puffed her feathers to keep herself warm and shook her head, then scratched her ear, thoughtful. Azrael then perceived and saw Rishta arrive to the park. The bird jumped from branch to branch and perched on a tree next to her as Rishta talked to the man who addressed her. The raven tilted her head, watching the man with an eye, then with the other. A dark magic user – and to add to it, she saw Belial’s mark on him. The raven cawed, then went back to grooming her feathers, keeping an eye on the two.
Unconsciously smoothing out her dress and waiting for the man to answer, Rishta heard a raven’s call – somewhere close. She did not turn her head however, and recognized the presence of Azrael. Did she not trust this man? Maybe. He felt like magic, and most of the time, they weren’t that good. Lightly mentally touching the man’s aura she found a trace on him… vaguely familiar. I remember… the man whom Azrael was fighting… he must be like him… … //Hello Azrael… it is good to see you here.
Samael shook his head regarding the woman with some curiosity. “No, I thankfully do not need any assistance. Just out for a stroll and a good book.” She seemed distracted. Samael’s senses were always a bit rusty, but he couldn’t help but feel something wafting through the air. Whether it was whispering or magick, he couldn’t be sure.
//Hello//, Azrael’s mental voice replied like a whisper in a cold wind. The raven shook her head and puffed her feathers again. It was new for the archangel of Death and Destruction to be sincerely welcomed, but it did not feel bad at all. Azrael’s night sky eyes shimmered with a myriad of little suns in a deep dark void. //This man has Belial’s mark. Beware.// Azrael groomed her wings, watchful over Samael and Rishta.
Rishta did not nod, although the urge to was strong. It was kind of hard, considering she had to show she agreed. //Thank you Azrael… are you coming to my house after this little situation is over with?// Looking at the man, Rishta smiled, a sad small one. Evil had awoken, and now they all would have hell to pay. Belial… there were two though… can demons split? Odd… and this man, he seems half way decent, but there is evil in him, I feel it. What does he want? Searching… he is searching for something…
//Yes. I will follow you to your house//, Azrael replied in a mental message. She tilted her head and wondered if she ought to say something more to reassure Rishta. Azrael puffed her feathers and kept watch.
Azrael wondered if the others were after Azazel at the time – an unwise move in her concept, for they were not properly organized, but a possible one.
Aramis finally left the church before the priests or anyone noticed something strange was going on. He slid through the crowd at the main gates and went down the front steps, crossed the street and went into the park, away from the people.
Aramis stood beneath the green canopy of mighty trees. He pulled his coat’s collar up and shivered slightly, for he wondered if Azrael was still around. Aramis closed his eyes and scanned the place with his angelic senses.
She still was there. The hybrid was close to her, and a third presence – a human one – which was familiar. Aramis winced slightly. Which one could this one be? He leaned against a tree and hugged himself. Common sense told him to go away, but still if he would have always followed his common sense, he wouldn’t even be there.
Aramis placed his hand upon his lips, thoughtful. His heart was beating fast as he struggled between following Azrael’s trace and leaving the park. He absently touched the place on his shoulder where Filos pierced through his body. Wasn’t that a reason enough to leave? Still, he could not give the first step that would start him on his way out of the park. Aramis swallowed. Diminishing his presence as much as he could in his nervous state, he decided to find out what was going on – basically go and peep, then leave. Keeping a safe distance, maybe… maybe he could go unnoticed.
So he did. He did not see Azrael but he was certain she was there. He saw the hybrid and a side view of the man. Where was Azrael? He swept a careful look and finally spotted the raven in the tree. There were other birds, but Azrael was… Well. He could recognize her in any shape she’d take!
Rishta all of a sudden straightened, she felt the presence. Not the faint trace the man had, but a stronger part. But it felt weird, somehow… split. Odd, I mean, oh bother this man, nighty-night.
Quietly touching his mind, she reached into his subconscious. sleep… relax… sleep… And to her amazement, the man dropped off. She caught him, then placed him on a bench.
“Azrael, I will be right back…” Rishta murmured, walking into the brush. She walked into a circle, so she would get behind the odd presence. She saw him, a figure, trying to hide. Quietly, she sneaked behind him, her steps as light as a cat. She tapped his shoulder softly and asked: “What do you think you are doing?”
Aramis nearly jumped out of his own skin when someone tapped his shoulder. He turned and jerked back in a single movement; the hybrid was behind him!.
Aramis blushed deeply, wide-eyed; his heart nearly stopped. He had been so absorbed into watching Azrael he had lost track of what was going on around him – a mistake that could be a fatal one. For a couple seconds he found himself speechless out of surprise and embarrassment, like a child caught in fraganti.
Finally, he found his voice.
“I was…” Aramis swallowed and gave a step back, “I was just passing by. I’ve… I’ve meant no harm, miss.”
Aramis did not want a confrontation – he just wanted to go away – but he had a curious yet somewhat shy look at the girl. Unlike other hybrids he had seen, this one was not tainted. A sort of a guardian soul lingered somewhere near her or on her, maybe in an object.
As he turned around sharply, Rishta took her own step back, hand on the hilt of her sword. Breathing, she allowed herself to relax a little bit. This was the Necromancer… and he was, well, not whole, so she guessed he had a right to be startled. But what had absorbed him so? Calmly she looked past him, and saw Azrael. What on earth…? Was he planning to attack us? No, wait… he is injured… He had just said he meant no harm… odd.
“No harm? But you… aren’t you Belial? You and Azrael… weren’t you fighting? But, I guess… I mean, were you looking at us? Spying?” Rishta could barely make a coherent sentence. Looking into his silver eyes, she gasped. He wasn’t, at least, not all… evil. More like part, like a mix, trying to hide something. So, when he splits… there is a good and a bad side… he feels… embarrassed? Caught? Well, of course… but there is… love in him? Am I even thinking right? I don’t understand him… Awkwardly, she looked at him, wondering at the possible truth. Demons were going soft? Maybe they never had wanted to be dark… she shook her head, impossible! Look at Beelzebub! But… swallowing, Rishta kept her hand on the sword for reassurance.
Aramis blinked. She already knew he was Belial despite his human form – well, that was not surprising but inconvenient. He then saw the sword – there was a soul in it and the soul bore Azrael’s seal.
Azrael rarely used her seal, if ever. Why then this girl had such a special sword? Aramis guessed with some dismay that Azrael was going to show up any second and he’d have to fight her if he didn’t want to die just yet. Plus the half-angel was going to help her, surely… Aramis bit his lip. How would he fight Azrael… if the mere thought of how he had been about to be able to kill her still burn his heart?
…Angel is going to be furious this time.
Aramis noticed Rishta seemed confused about him. Could she have perceived something beneath the layer of Dark that covered his nature? If she’d notice more than she should, Angel would be after her to kill her; he’d better find the way to leave before Rishta perceived too much. Aramis had a little, sad smile for he had read her name in her with one of the abilities he had learned from Azrael before the Fall. His gaze drifted momentaneously in the direction where Azrael was, but he forced himself to stay focused on Rishta. Aramis regained some of his composure and shook his head slowly.
“Rishta. You should never listen to a demon, much less to an arch demon like me.” His voice was soft and low, and there was a kind of sadness to it. “If you are going to attack me, do so; I will defend myself. Otherwise I’ll leave. I do not wish to fight you.”
Aramis tilted his head, watching her with sad, melancholic eyes.
Rishta kept her eyes on him, allowing her hand to drop from the hilt. Calmly she stared at him, not trying to pry, but wondering about him. The good side of Belial I guess… odd, seems a bit hesitant… Snapping back to attention, she looked at him.
Gently touching his mind, she found a bit of jealousy… over something… Azrael concerned… she couldn’t figure it out. But this seemed so familiar… hearing this, almost like she had seen it before… wait. Maybe it had been a vision… but she couldn’t remember. He and someone… a dark someone… but good. She was giving herself a headache. Sighing a bit, she turned to what Belial was saying… well, Aramis… or was he Angel? Picking names up was sometimes difficult.
On the outside, Rishta was in a defense posture, looking at him with deep soul-filled eyes, that seemed to see straight through him. In her blood stained dress, she felt highly uncomfortable and exposed. In society she had always been perfection… now, she was just herself. “Aramis, or Angel – whichever one you are… what makes you think I am listening to you? Why should I when I can read you? You are awfully emotional you know…”
Calmly she turned her back, as though planning to leave, but then she turned back to him, flashing him a grim “devil may come but he can wait” smile, almost a chilling smile. Then it hit her. Love… watching Azrael… mind drifts to her often… since he is an arch demon… didn’t attack her, or me… oh my… he loves her… that must hurt…
“Fight you? If I have a choice, I’d rather not… maybe some other time… besides, I am not supposed to kill you… it isn’t a part of my destiny. Good luck trying to get Azrael.” Rishta smiled, she may be a child by their account, but she knew enough – certainly enough in this case.
Aramis didn’t move. He was having a terrible day and his emotions were like a storm rolling within himself. He simply watched Rishta as she spoke. He was used to reactions such as hers which still hurt him, but he had managed not to show it. In a false feeling of security, many couldn’t resist the impulse to make a grand exit when they had the chance to leave an arch demon behind.
Then she said what she shouldn’t have said.
Aramis read into her. Despite her words were not as direct, he realized she had indeed perceived too much. If Rishta would’ve just left and kept her mouth shut… At the realization that she knew, something in Aramis snapped alive. He was startled, but also grimly sad. He stood straight and narrowed his eyes.
Coldly, he spoke. “Subtle words, those of you. I said, if you attack me I will defend myself. May I be any of the two, I’m still the same and I’d know where to hit.” He pointed to her sword.
“If you knew who I was and who I am, you shouldn’t have showed me her Seal and what it holds. Keep your imprudent mind tricks for yourself and you may keep other things.” Aramis took one of the trails of the park. His forehead was hot and tears slowly filled his eyes as he walked.
Rishta glared ice at Belial. He was going to drive her to the edge of sanity… demons never knew when to stop! She walked, and caught up with him, and turned him around, her voice daggers.
“I will tell you this one thing demon. It isn’t any of my business what you care of, and even if you do care. But don’t you DARE bring my father’s spirit into this! Otherwise, I will hurt you, even if I fall too.” Rishta breathed heavily, having half the mind to slap him. His power was strong, he probably could flatten her, but she didn’t care. He had dared to threaten her with her father… she didn’t know why she hadn’t struck him yet, but the answer was obvious. No matter how hard he acted, he was the good part, and he hadn’t touched her. That deserved some brownie points.
Aramis quickly and angrily wiped his tears when Rishta came after him with her complaints. He frowned and cast her an angry look, but he couldn’t help to look somewhat like an angry kid, his silver eyes flashing. “Leave me alone! Don’t you have anything better to do? About your father, consider yourself warned! I told you, stay away and I won’t… Stay out of my life and I’ll stay out of yours!”
He walked around her to continue on his way.
It seems I’ve stumbled over what I was looking for…
Samael caught on to the faint magicks before the woman blessed him with her spell, and was just quick enough to counter it to keep himself awake. However, he feigned sleeping… One can learn so much more when people believe your ears to be closed. He waited, and listened as the faint sound of voices echoed on the wind. The realization that the woman was an angel was a pleasant surprise… but the deep feeling within his own shadow of a soul that ‘his’ presence was also close by, was not something Samael expected. To ‘awaken’ now would be a mistake, but to listen would only gain him more knowledge. Thus, he waited, relaxed on the bench, eyes closed to the sky and strained to listen…
Azrael, who was still a raven in the tree, continued to groom her wings. She however was keeping watch over the scene. When Rishta left, she had already perceived Belial was there. Azrael as usual wouldn’t interfere unless it was necessary. Her sharp angelic hearing caught the words, but the raven’s eyes realized the man on the bench was not asleep. A tiny muscle moved a tissue in his ear; his mind was focused. Azrael flew from her branch and perched on a bust beside the bench; a black shadow of ominous presence.
The raven flapped her wings. Caw, caw!! She randomly cawed in a rather unnerving way, making it tough for the man to hear anything.
The corner of his eye twitched as he strained a little harder to hear. Damnable bird was making it incredible hard to catch the banter between the angel and demon. If he could only risk movement, he would conjure a beast to swallow the blasted thing whole…
Caw, caw! CAW! Caw, caw!”
Raven on the marble bust, Azrael scratched her ear and puffed her feathers between long series of caws. She looked at Samael with one eye, then the other. The man clearly bore Belial’s Seal, but in this case the soul had already been taken away. Keeping watch, Azrael flapped her wings lazily and continued her concert.
“Fine…” Rishta hissed, having half the mind to poke one of his little eyes out. But she did admit, that she was being a thorn in his foot. Sighing, she let him go and walked back to Azrael, mentally plotting a way to get him for that nasty little comment…
//Azrael, are you ready to go?// Rishta looked in shock as she was cawing her mind out, and he… the man… looked furious. So, he was awake… hmm… sneaky little devil… Walking quickly to the lake, Rishta cupped a hand full of water, then came back, pouring the stuff unto his face.
“You know, if you were going to fake sleeping, at least you could relax your expression. It would be much more believable.”
Samael jumped up, coughing and sputtering… The little minx was more perceptive than he assumed. Or at the least she was finished with him and was no longer distracted. Giving a grim scowl he removed himself from the bench and made sure his book didn’t get any of the droplets of water on it, as the woman wondered away. Samael had the feeling she was either spell casting or incredibly distracted as her concentration was certainly not on him. As she started walking down the path away from him, he discreetly leaned down and picked up a blood-soaked feather from the ground. He hadn’t missed it when she was brushing feathers from her gown. This may help with a new seal… I must fix the disaster Morris and I caused. Samael turned down the opposite direction the angel left, not bothering with a goodbye.
Azrael interrupted the concert and flew from the marble bust to the nearest branch upon Rishta’s arrival. Azrael perceived Belial leaving… She’d have to find him again.
//I am ready//, she briefly replied in a mental note to Rishta. //Beware this man. He is a dark-arts user and he sold his soul to the Necromancer.// Azrael cawed a little more, then stayed silent and watchful as it was her usual demeanor. She wanted to ask Rishta some questions, but she decided to wait till they reached Rishta’s manor.
Rishta nodded in agreement, sighing. Sold his soul? What gift was worth that? Oh well, people would do anything for power. Turning her head to face Azrael, looking a bit upset.
//What could be worth your soul…? I doubt you gain immortality… or do you?//
Getting a bit annoyed with this man, as he had been trying to listen to her conversation, Rishta ignored him as he walked away. Reaching with her mind, she tried to find the others. //Azrael… I think we better go home quickly… Raziel is there, and well… he told me to go home… I hope he isn’t going to be mad and… uh, may I ask, but who is that evil following Michael and Adriel? He seems so… powerful.//
//If it’d be for immortality, it would be bound to the life span of the demon to whom he sold his soul. I don’t think this is the case, though. We may go//, Azrael replied. //If they decided to split and Raziel went to your house, it might be part of a plan to protect the woman Azazel took from the Inn. Must be of great importance.// After a small pause, Azrael’s cold calm voice echoed again in Rishta’s mind.
//The evil you perceive is Azazel, the son of Lucifer and Lilith and current leader of the demons. He was imprisoned in the Abyss along with his Legions, but he has been freed. The Seal of the Abyss has been broken.//
//Then let us go. I see no reason to linger, and this man is starting to irritate my poor nerves.// Rishta mentally sighed, as she backed away into the brush, so if he did open his eyes, he would not see her wings. Putting up a lil invisibility shield, she took off into the sky. //Son of the devil, huh? Honestly… sometimes I wonder if we are going to live through this.// Rishta muttered as she waited for Azrael.
Azrael jumped from branch to branch, disappearing from Samael’s sight. Then she became invisible to human eyes and soared up into the skies. When she reached Rishta’s level, she reassumed her angelic form.
//We must succeed//, she simply replied. //There is no other way. We may fail, but if we do the world is doomed.// Azrael kept her presence diminished. “Let us go to your house and see about this woman Raziel watches over.” Azrael flew along with Rishta, her mighty wings silent in the wind.
After some time, Azrael spoke again. “When we reach your house, I’d like to ask you a question.”
//You are right Azrael… we have to succeed… if not, then at least we died trying…// Rishta sighed, looking at the scene, the park was beautiful… and London. So different from what she remembered. So many things had changed. It almost made her sad.
“You know… time is the one thing that destroys all things… even things you want to keep…”
Then Azrael asked her about the question… odd. She couldn’t think of what it could be. So many things, and it was still early, she assumed. Her servants were going to be a bit hectic, at least they should let her guests in.
“Of course Azrael… you can ask me anything.”
Azrael followed Rishta over rooftops and streets to a more open area of London, flying in her usual contemplative silence. When the Manor came into view, Azrael chanted a spell in a low voice that was like a crystal bell. Upon the spell, her armor was repaired and the missing shoulder piece came flying like a bullet from an unknown location and snapped back in place. The gold writings on Azrael’s black armor shone ominously like living threads of liquid fire and the myriad of eyes in her wings seemed to show briefly, but next second they were not to there to be seen.
“I see Raziel and the mortal woman.”
Aramis left the area without even bothering to look back at Rishta’s last hiss. He wasn’t being followed. “Good”, he muttered. He was quite upset at the meddlesome girl but he was in a way glad her seeing power couldn’t pierce the cloak of Dark Angel had woven on Aramis’ nature. He didn’t really care about the soul in the sword, but it had been quite convenient to ensure she would keep her mouth shut about what she did have seen in him.
Anyway… who would believe her? Angel could always come up with something. Aramis slowed down his brisk walk and pulled his coat collar around his ears and let out a small, slow sigh.
Azrael was leaving.
Aramis felt his heart aching again. The sharp pain was almost physical, making his heart race and his breathing difficult. He continued on his way. He heard human voices and the laughter of small children. Aramis walked away from the voices into another trail and finally left the park. Across the street, the mansion rose dark and silent.
(1) May you go well.
(2) Don’t take too long.