‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’
Dawn was approaching; bringing an end to another long night. I stepped under the lichgate, glancing over my shoulder. At the edges of my vision I could see shadows dancing as they crept from the growing light. Taking a depth breath, I felt the weight of the cloth and amour covering me and heavy sheathed sword on my back. I knew that even in the daytime evil wouldn’t rest, but they were greatly weakened and that always offered me some peace.
Turning back, I walked through, avoiding the dangling moss and the broken beams. The gate which once opened into what had been a small, neat churchyard, was covered in ivy and chained shut. I jumped over and thudded to the ground in my massive leather boots. Sweeping the ends of my robes off the gate, I begin weaving my way through the graveyard.
The dimming lights of restless spirits tugged at me. I waved them off, reminding them it wasn’t my job to claim or guide them. Still they urged me in breathy, faded voices.
‘Angel, take me with you.’
‘Blaze. I know that’s your name. Why won’t you help us?’
‘Where’s mama? Have you seen her? Can you take me to her?’
A small hand clutched my trailing robe. I bent my head, ignoring it and pushing through the tall grass and wild weeds. The wind rattled the branches of the dead yew and the bare twigs of the hedgerows. Then the breeze played through my long golden red hair, tossing it into my face. Collecting the strands, I threw them back and carried on.
The grass went right up to the porch, where it became over taken by the mosses and ivy. I stepped inside, flicking my robes up to try and dispelling the spirits. A low weeping tickled my ears before fading into the wind. Despite everything I had to turn around. The graveyard sloped down to the lichgate then ran around the sides and the back of the church where the yew stood. What little remained of the headstones poked up from the plants as if struggling against them. Many more had already succumbed and either lay fallen or so covered that they had become little then mounds.
Beyond the church grounds, a single track road marked out only by a line of trees and a ditch, lead into a maze of farmlands and semi-abandoned tracks. It was from that direction I had come, though I couldn’t recall the actual path I had trod. Leaning against the crumbling porch wall, I watched the sun rising above the trees and the sky turning darker blue. None of that light or colour touched the churchyard. It shied away, as if taunted by those lingering shadows at the lichgate and low surrounding wall.
Finally, I turned and pushed open the arched wooden door. I had to squeeze though, as the door was wedged tightly into its frame and fallen debris was behind it. Pushing it back into place was even worse, but at last the door seemed to settle. The floor crunched due to a covering of fallen plaster and chips of brick under my boots as I stepped inside. I paused, looking down the alley between the remains of the two rows of pews to alter. Sadness gripped my heart and tiredness made the emotion feel stronger and harder to ignore.
Wiping my face, I walked to the alter, avoiding the wood splinters from the dismantled pews and went to a side door in a hidden alcove. It easily opened, revealing a spiral stone staircase to the belfry. Trudging upwards, my sheathed sword scrapped the wall and my boots barely griped the steps. At the top another small door led into a roof room where the church bells had once hung.
Even through it had been days since I’d been ‘home,’ nothing looked out of place. The four boarded up openings let in no light and pressed closely to the wooden walls. I crossed the floor; my footsteps softened by the piles of rugs and removed my sword. I sit it against the wall in between a low desk and a mattress covered in pillows and blankets. I took off my black robe then the first white robe and armour before the second underneath.
Pulling out the chair and sitting down, I unlaced and tugged off my boots and socks. I let them fall. From the desk, I picked up a box of matches and moved the single white candle in its holder closer. Lighting the match then the candle, played havoc with my perfect night vison, however I felt better with the golden light shining across the room.
Naked, I stood up and went to the bed, where I searched through the blankets until I found a Bible. Rearranging the bedding, I got under countless layers of cotton and wool. Resting my head and the book at a good angle, I carefully opened the pages and glanced down the thin sheets. I knew the tiny words off by heart and yet, I seeked something that I knew was never going to be there. I stopped on a random page and guided by my fingertips read through the Easter story.
The pages yielded not to my silent searching. I closed the book and placed it down. Resting my head back, I watched the candle light flickering across the vaulted ceiling. My heart begged for home and stung painfully. Rubbing my chest helped to ease it and my mind tumbled with a fury of thoughts and questions. Without meaning too, words tumbled out of my mouth in an unstopped stream.
‘Dear Lord, I have only carried out your tasks and done what you have asked of me at every turn. Haven’t I defend you, spread your word and worked with the other angels? I know it is wrong to question, but why me? Why must I become tinted by all this evil and have to live as if Fallen? I don’t understand what I am meant to do now. I can’t get home and my power is fading. Have you forgotten me? Or did I do something, unaware, that has angered you? Please, you must show me what to do. I…fear what I may become…Amen.’
I closed my eyes and listen to the words resonating. Sleep crawled over me and right before I fell to slumber, a distant voice in my head said, ‘there’s work yet to be done, my warrior.’
To Be Continued…