Church (Chapter 6, part 2)

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the highest mountain(2,464ft) in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen is the ruins of Dunlewy Church.

I had the urge to confront her and demand the truth. She was high ranking and had never once hinted it. That would make us equals, I noted. Unless, the Reapers had a different organisational structure to Angels? Why would they, though? I shook the questions away, knowing they were unanswerable at present. I steadied the book and looked at the line again. Something else made me paused, RR. I had seen that somewhere before…

Frowning, I closed the diary and picked up the notebook with the drawings in. Under a sketch of a Tawney owl were the two R’s. Could it be the same person? My mind questioned as if solving a great riddle. I opened the diary again and looked at both the initials side by side. They didn’t look to be the same hand. Could it just a coincidence?

A growl escaped me and I closed both notebooks. What difference did it make? I lay back, sprawling out on the bed and put an arm over my eyes. I heard an owl hooting, the half-whispering voices of the graveyard spirits and my own quickened breathing. I should go out, I told myself, do some fighting and stop thinking about her. But if she comes back…?

I snapped myself out of it picked up the diary once again. Skimming through the pages, I caught a few more lines about the garden, Rain displaying her powers and fighting skills, training that Lucius had completed, discusses about other people and their plans. Finally, on a page dated 8th August 2009 was something that stilled my fingers. The handwriting seemed rushed, desperate. A tale spilled out across the page;

We had our first real fight as Company 9 today. Captain Rain sensed something very early on into our nightly hunt, but she didn’t let on, until everyone had had a go at sensing it. The tracking of the evil soul was exciting, especially amongst the younger one. Though what we would find worried me. My job as Lieutenant really came out. I had no time for self-doubt, but found I handled anything fine.

The soul had taken the form of a giant boar. Which was a surprise to all of us- though Captain never showed it-. The boar was dark grey with bristled fur, beside from its face and tusks which were red. It howled as if in agonising pain and charged at us.

 I stopped, having been reminded of the Demi-God bear that had brought Rain and me together. For some reason, that first image I had of her had stayed close to me. I refocused my eyes back on the page and tried to picture how the next few paragraphs had planned out with my limited imagination.

I was afraid that Captain would take over and completely forget about us. Instead, she hung back and watched everyone else trying to plunge their swords into the soul. Despite the boar’s size, he was fast and avoided must of the jabs. We, or the Company members to be exact, because I hung back to, made the mistake of crowding around the boar. I do not think there had been any plans to overwhelm the soul, it was just that they were all excited and wanted to be the victor.

The boar started to get angry and with a bust of power, it speared Durell. Everyone backed off as he was thrown in the air and rushed to him as he landed. I glanced over at Captain Rain and she didn’t do anything, but there was a look pain on her face. I went forward and the boar and I fought quickly. His taste of blood had given him the scent of victory and I was no match for him.

I heard everyone call me away. Durell was hurt badly. I stole a glance at Captain, then did something which I still and will forever regret. I went to Durell. He was laying gasping on the ground, blood frothing at his mouth. The tusk had broken a number of ribs and pierced his lung. I abandoned my sword and starting to perform the Healing Ritual.

It was the look on the closest Reapers’ faces that made me glance over my shoulder. I saw in a flash of grey and red the boar racing towards us. I reached for my sword and aimed it at the soul’s face. There was an all mighty half cry-half roar from the boar’s mouth, then it did a sharp turn which caused it to fall to on its side and slide the rest of the way towards us. I heard the swooshing of a sword, a crack of sharp laughter then Captain Rain sliced the boar’s head flawless off.

 I had stopped breathing. I turned the page eager for more and noticed my hand slightly trembling on the page corner. Setting the book down, I linked my fingers together and took a few deep breaths. I snatched the notebook up again and with my heart pounding in my ears, I read the last the record.

The evil soul began to fade. Captain stood in-between the head and neck, her expression unreadable. I tried once again to perform the Healing Ritual, but Durell was coughing up too much blood. The others called Captain over and she did join us a few moments later, slotting her katana away. Someone begged her to save him. She knelt down beside me and put her hand over his chest. I saw white electrical pulses then Durell stopped coughing. His head flopped to the side and he was still.

We watched more healing soaking into him and listened to his gasping breathe become normal. Captain Rain took her hand away and placed both her hands in her lap, she fell into pray. The rest of us joined her and I could hear the wispy voices of the younger ones reciting.

The boar had all but gone when we finished. Captain give instructions for us to head back, she would stay a few minutes and do a cleansing. We left silently, four of us carrying Durell and each coming to terms that the path before us was a lot harder than it had seemed.

We made it back and waited for Captain to arrive. A soft, clean rain was falling and I felt it washing away the tint that the evil had left upon us. She arrived at last and took us into the Garden. There Durell was attended to as his needs dictated and we all rested. Captain, after checking in with me, went to her room and no one has seen her since.

I am grateful that we all survived, but it is cleaner now that we need more training.

 I glanced at the next page and saw a new date. I closed the book and placed it on a pillow. I wondered if Rain knew what had been recorded. If she did, why would she leave a window into her past like this? Or maybe she didn’t know? The questions bloated my mind. I lay back, feeling twinges of a headache coming on. I had to go out and fight. I had to purge myself.

To Be Continued…     

Church (Chapter 6, Part 1)

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the highest mountain(2,464ft) in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen is the ruins of Dunlewy Church.

Continued from Church Chapter 5

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze. He goes back to the church and reflects on Rain. Then he goes out and tries to rescue a human woman who is being attacked. Failing to save her, Blaze returns home to find that Rain has followed him. Their conversation leads to Blaze finding out that Rain’s sword is cursed and that he does remember his task of the daemon he has to find and kill.

Chapter 6

‘You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’

John 8:32

I awoke to Rain shifting slightly next to me. I took a deep breath and smelt sweat as well as a faint touch of midnight jasmine. I eased my arm out from under her and sat up. A little moan came from Rain then the soft sounds of her breathing. I got up, trying not to disturb her. The floor was cold under my feet and it caused me to become more awake.

Going to the desk, I dug out the notebooks and looked around for a better place to hide them. There seemed no good place, so I put on my boots and went downstairs. With a quick glanced back up the steps as I reached the bottom, I scanned the church. Water was dripping steadily from somewhere and a pair of rats was scuttling over a piece of wood. I walked to the organ and found a gap between two of the smaller pipes. The notebooks fitted snuggly and hardly seemed noticeable.

I went back upstairs and found Rain stirring in the mass of bedding.

‘Where’d you go?’ she muttered sleepily.

‘There’s a small washroom downstairs,’ I replied.

She hummed and tossed her head back down. Her eyes shut and seemed to fall asleep again. Leaving her to it, I went to the wardrobe and found a grey robe. I switched it with the one I was wearing then went over to my food store and tried to figure what we could have for breakfast.

I heard Rain tossing and turning then finally getting up. Selecting a bottle of water two cans of fruit salad, I placed them on the desk.

‘Hungry? I got some tinned fruit,’ I pointed out.

‘Sure,’ she answered and pulled on her black top.

I went back and dug out the tin open whilst she helped herself to some water. She offered it to me and I took the bottle. I watched her eyes slide over to the tins as I drink. She seemed distant and still sleepy.

‘I’ve got some other-’ I started.

‘No. This is fine,’ she said and took the tin opener from me, ‘I didn’t sleep very well. I had this dream…’

‘Oh?’

Rain opened the tin of fruit, ‘do you have spoon?’ she asked.

I nodded and dug some plastic spoons out of a bag. I handed her one and took another mouthful of water. Rain began eating the fruit and avoiding me. I placed the bottle down and opened the other tin. As I began to eat the too sweet syrupy fruit, my mind reflected on the conversations we had last night. A question popped into my head, but Rain’s sharp warning of not talking here echoed over it.

‘I’ve to go,’ Rain spoke suddenly.

‘What?’

She shook her head and quickly shoved the rest of the fruit pieces into her mouth.

‘But, we have to talk…’ I stated.

‘I’ll come back,’ she mumbled and put the tin to her lips. She drank the syrup, wiped her mouth and loudly put the tin down on the desk.

‘When?’ And why do you to go?’ I pressed.

‘There’s an evil soul,’ she responded as she put on the rest of her clothes.

I stopped and tried hard to sense what she was talking about. Nothing came to me other than the dim ghosts in the graveyard.

‘Wait for me,’ she added.

‘But, Rain…’

I twisted as she walked passed me and to the trunk. She lifted the lid and took Haku out. She strapped him to her back and went to the doorway. My mind turned over ever reason I could think of in those moments, but a part of me knew it would make no difference. She had a job to do and who was I to keep her from doing it?

She left. I listened to her feet and cape on the stairs then at the bottom she must have vanished. I sat in the chair and finished off the water and fruit. Rain had left an icy emptiness behind her and I felt the burden of being alone.

Looking around, I decided there was only one thing I could do. I went down into the church and took out the notebooks again. I carried them back up stairs and tidied up the bed. I could still smell her. I lit a few candles and cracked the wooden board to let in some fresh air. I took off my boots and sat on the bed.

I selected the first leather book and put the others down. Turning the pages, I was faced with what I had seen the last time I had opened it. I turned back remembering that there was something on the seemingly blank first page.

Lucius Canus. Company 9, Mestemalum

 It was written in tiny print, almost as if the writer hadn’t wanted to write his name and position. Yet, he had still felt the need to claim this book as his own. I turned the pages and started reading from the beginning again. The handwriting was smooth and neat, the pen was a black fountain one which added a flourish to the letters.

June 2009

My Tribunus brought me to her secret plane today. It is a Paradise beyond paradises! I could not bring many ‘physical items’, as some don’t work here, so knowing my love for recording, she give me this special book, which allows the writing to pass through the time freeze and be stable. This place is full of power! I knew she was an element wielder, that is no great secret, but to be able to do all of this with it, I didn’t know that was even possible!

 It was easy to decipher. I’d never heard of ‘an element wielder’ before though. I wonder what element Rain can control? Maybe Earth? That would seem very likely with the Garden. I turned back to the book and the next paragraph.

She has created on the surface a world unto itself, but frozen in time. Out in the Garden, the flowers and trees are at their peak of beauty. The animals – for there are a great number of them- are trapped as adults or babies. The river that flows through the garden has no start or end, though it is as natural as any body of water. Also, there is a day and night rotation, with a real feeling –for you cannot see it- of the sun raising and setting. I do not know if it follows the Earth’s cycles or not, more likely it has a cycle of its’ own. Even more fascinating, is the weather phases. I thought it would stay the same all the time, but no. There is rainfall in all forms, storms, wind changes and cloudy days. Yesterday, to prove a point to RR, Captain Rain made it snow!

 I stopped or rather I forced myself too. Captain Rain? The two words swirled in my head and I realised once again that I didn’t know the true Rain.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 5, Part 4)

Angel

(Continued from Church Chapter 5, Parts 1, 2 and 3)

I thought about arguing further with her, but decided against it. My story wasn’t as long as her’s. Fixing my eyes to the ceiling, I tried to recall back to that day in the Heavenly Realm when I had received my orders.

‘I’m listening,’ Rain cut in.

I smiled, ‘my General called me. He told me there was a hard mission they wanted me to go on. It involved the hunting and slaying of a manipulating daemon. It sounded easy enough, but they told me the daemon had gone to ground and I’d have to track it down. No one else had been able to.’

Rain hummed to show she was still awake, so I carried on, ‘just before I set off, another General, who was soon to be retired, came to me. He told me that there was something I needed to know that everyone else had refused to tell me. The daemon was manipulating fallen angels and making them kill any angels they could find. The Generals didn’t really know what the daemon’s ultimate plan was, but it had to be stopped.’

Rain shifted slightly and I thought she was going to roll over. Instead, she pulled a blanket over her shoulder. I glanced at this before turning my eyes back to the arched ceiling. There was a spider building a web up there that I hadn’t noticed before.

‘What did you say?’ Rain spoke.

‘I would still go. It was my duty,’ I replied, ‘he then told me that the last warrior angel to face the daemon had been one of his Lieutenants. He had been killed, the daemon had taken his power and grown stronger. They feared the same thing would happen to me. But they currently didn’t have anyone else they could send.’

‘What was his name? The warrior who died?’ Rain cut in.

‘Jarad. I think, I didn’t know him. The daemon has a name too…it’s Bane.’

There was a pause. Rain rolled over and looked up at me. I kept my eyes to the ceiling, trying to think about what else had happened.

‘See? You’ve always known what you had to do,’ Rain’s voice whispered.

‘I’ve been putting it off. Trying to believe I couldn’t find the daemon,’ I explained, ‘it doesn’t scare me. It’s my duty, but I…perhaps, I’ve been enjoying my time here too much. It’s been years since they last give me anything to really do.’

There was a moment then Rain asked, ‘Blaze, how come you’ve only just remembered all of this?’

I took a deep breath, ‘I don’t really know. I guess because you made me think about it.’

‘Do you want me to help you?’ she suggested.

I looked at her then. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and her eyes looked wet. Her hair was scattered around her and she looked so childish. So innocent. She had her hands under head and was almost curled into my side, just like before.

‘I couldn’t ask you…it’s not your job,’ I replied.

‘I’m not asking,’ she said quickly and I realised that something else was going on here. ‘It’d be better. I’m good at tracking things,’ Rain carried on, ‘I’d let you kill it of course.’

‘You knew,’ I responded and sat up.

I crossed my legs and put my hands into my lap. I dropped my head and glanced at her. Rain hadn’t moved. She had been lying to me all this time. I shook my head and tried to control my anger. I had the urge to shake her and demand she tell me everything. No more secrets.

‘I…suspected,’ she corrected.

‘You could have said something!’ I snapped.

‘No, I couldn’t.’

I grabbed her shoulder and shook her, ‘why not?’

‘Calm down,’ she said sternly and put her hand on my arm.

I felt a small electric shock travel up my skin. I stopped shaking her and tried to look for the source. I felt Rain move and her other hand pressed against my cheek as she sat up. She turned to turn my head so that I’d meet her eyes, but I refused. I clenched my teeth, swallowing words I wanted to shout at her.

‘We…can’t talk about it here,’ Rain spoke out, ‘there’s too much listening.’

I felt her grip tighten on my arm and the electric charge growing. I give into her wanting to turn my head and our eyes meet. Her’s looked different. There was power shinning out of them. I loosed my hold on her shoulder and felt a slight stickiness of sweat on my fingertips.

‘I’ve my reasons for staying quiet,’ Rain picked up, ‘you’ll just have to deal with that.’

‘And if I can’t?’ I shouted. I felt the need to re-press my fingers down then grab her other shoulder. The anger swelled inside me, like a balloon about to pop. A small part of me wasn’t sure why I was reacting like this. It felt as if something else was puppeteering me.

‘Then you’ll fail and die just like Jarad,’ she concluded.

His name jarred me back and quickly I pushed away my anger. Rain wasn’t the enemy, she was making herself my aid. Yes, she had kept all this from me, but at least she was telling me now. I didn’t have the right to behave like this.

Taking a deep breath, I heard a voice hissing in my ear, ‘You can’t let this go, Feathers. She betrayed your trust. You should punish her. She lied and deceived you. No one should be able to do that to an angel like you and get away with it.’

Get out of my head, Haku or whatever your name is, I thought back.

There was a lash of laughter and I saw a black mist in my mind’s eye. The laugh faded and was replaced by more chilling words, ‘she’ll never tell you the whole truth about anything. You think she’s helping you? She’s just doing it all for herself.’

That doesn’t make sense. This daemon isn’t the kind she vanquishes. I’m not listening to you.

I imaged a wall and put it up. The voice of Haku sniggered then faded. I looked at Rain. From her expression, I knew she had heard that conversation. I removed my hand from her shoulder and rubbed her face, trying to erases the pain across it.

‘You have to keep fighting him,’ she breathed, ‘believe what you want. It’s probably all true anyway. Though, Haku only lies when he wants something.’

‘He want’s my soul,’ I stated.

Rain nodded. She put the hand she had had on my arm on top of my hand, which was on her cheek. Her fingers stroked my knuckles and she kissed my palm. I felt tiredness pulling me to sleep. Without saying anything, I gently pulled Rain against me and lay down. I held her and put my chin on top of her hair.

‘He’s a danger to you,’ Rain mumbled, ‘but I’ll defend you.’

I kissed her head and tried to tell her I was sorry, but the words stuck in my throat.

Rain nestled against me, her hands curling up on my chest, just below her head. I listened to her falling asleep, before finally giving in myself.

Church (Chapter 5, Part 3)

Angel

(Continued from Church Chapter 5, Parts 1 and 2)

I stood up and collected my sheathed great sword. Oddly, I knew it wouldn’t be much use right now, but just holding it made me feel better. I turned to Rain, she was still sat on the trunk lid. Her head was down and she seemed to be fighting something in her mind. I went over slowly, my bare feet hardly making any sound on the wooden floor.

‘It’s your sword isn’t it? I asked softly, ‘there’s a spirit trapped in there.’

Rain’s head shot up. Puzzlement swept the concentration away on her face. She nodded once, ‘Normally, it takes a lot longer for people to get that. And even longer for them to understand it,’ she explained, ‘I had no doubts about you though. I’ve not met a more powerful angel than you in a while.’

‘Then why didn’t you tell me sooner?’ I pressed.

‘There was no point till he started affecting you. Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to block him out.’

‘I want to know,’ I started then paused, remembering what she had said about secrets she had to keep.

Rain looked up at me almost shyly and embarrassed from under her hair.

‘About him, the spirit. And how you ended up with that sword. Can you tell me that?’ I finished.

‘Only, if you tell me the reason why you were sent here. You must remember some of your mission,’ she countered back.

‘I’ll try,’ I responded.

Rain dropped her head and took a deep breath, ‘the legend goes that there was a great Japanese samurai in the medieval period and he lusted after power. He enjoyed killing and death. He went against the samurai code and let himself become consumed by greed. He went insane, perhaps he gave his soul to a daemon, but it’s unknown.’ She shrugged.

‘When he was finally killed, it was decided that he had to be punished further. His soul was fused to his katana and his line cursed. At the time, the samurai had no male relatives, so the curse fell upon the women. Thus, the katana has been passed from mother to daughter, sister to sister, aunts to nieces. Never breaking the line.’

‘And they…all used it?’ I broke in to question.

Rain shook her head, ‘in the early days they kept it hidden and only told the story on their deathbeds. Then, one day a mother used it to defend her daughter from a rapist. It’s claimed that act woke the samurai’s soul. Since then, he has grown and grown in power. People have tried to stop him, but nothing has worked. He can’t be locked away or destroyed or released.’

‘How could humans have wielded such power?’ I mused.

‘They couldn’t. The Mestemalum Senātus, The Reapers Of Death To Evil Senate, sensed the power and went to studied it. They decided that the katana was too dangerous and they tried to remove it, but the woman at the time, my great times four grandma, didn’t want to let it go. She made a bargain with them. If they would train her and her daughter to control and harness the katana, she would carry out any task they give her.’

‘And they agreed,’ I slotted in, ‘and that’s come around to you now?’

Rain paused, her face saddened. She looked at her boots then at me, ‘my story is different, but she and her daughter created my first destiny.’

I tried to digest everything she had told me, but I had never heard a story like it. Clutching my sword, I went and sat down in the chair. I felt Rain watching me, but I just wanted a moment to reflect. It felt like she had told me so much and yet she was avoiding the true point.

I heard her getting off the trunk and coming over to me. Gently, she took my sword from my hands and carried it over to its place against the wall, as if it was a child’s teddy bear.

‘No one can lift that sword but me,’ I gasped, turning to face her.

‘It’s bonded to you, yes,’ Rain said in a low tone, ‘and it has the powers of Heavenly Light, but it would let anyone use it to do good and defeat evil, because that’s its purpose. But it’s not alive.’

I frowned, trying to grasp her meaning.

‘Haku is,’ she stated simply, ‘no one else can touch him. If they do, he gets inside their heads and convinces them to kill themselves. He feeds off souls. That’s how he gets his power.’

‘I understand,’ I answered reflectively.

Rain sat down on the bed again and drew her black pants up. Underneath, her skin tight leather boots went up to her knees. She began to unlace them. I watched, but didn’t take any of it in. My mind was on what that whispering voice had been saying before.

‘Is that his real name?’ I asked aloud.

‘No one knows. It’s the name he gave me. Sometimes it’s different, or so I heard,’ Rain responded. She placed her boots slightly under the table, then started undoing a silk belt around her stomach.

I glanced over at the trunk then back at her. Questions drifted into my mind, but I didn’t give voice to any of them. Instead I pushed it from my mind and watched Rain taking off her top.

Underneath, she had on a black vest, which revealed her shoulders, but covered the rest of her upper body. Her breasts were now clearly defined. She lay down, arranging the pillows and blankets.

‘Why the trunk?’ I muttered to take my mind off her.

‘Huh?’ Rain yawed.

‘Why put him in the trunk?’ I repeated.

‘It helps to contain him. It won’t fully stop him from reaching out though. The more you think about it and open your mind to it, the more he can get in. Don’t think about it. Come to bed,’ she added and patted a tossed aside blanket.

I nodded and stood. I went to take off my robe then thought better of it. I walked over, stepping over her and knelt down to make a space for myself. Rain had rolled over and curled her hands under the pillow. I settled down, laying on my back with a single blanket covering my lower body. I put a hand behind my head and looked at her bare shoulder.

‘Tell me your mission,’ Rain muttered.

‘Later. You’re tried,’ I pointed out.

‘No, now,’ she mumbled and rubbed her cheek against the pillow.

‘All right, I’ll tell you want I remember.’

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 5, Part 2)

Angel

(Continued from Church Chapter 5 part 1)

I felt the words on my lips, but couldn’t get them out. My thoughts tumbled and I was back in the alley with those thugs and that poor girl. Rain had seen everything, but I didn’t seen or sensed her. My eyes were frozen on her’s as my mind tried now to work out what this staring look was. Rain didn’t seem pleased or concerned. It hadn’t bothered or fazed her either. Pity, I decided. That was what her eyes said, I pity you.

‘What did you say?’ I finally forced out.

‘Nothing. I didn’t reveal myself. I couldn’t risk the exposure. Too many reapers know me or are aware of me. I didn’t know him though,’ Rain explained.

‘But you saw everything I did?’ I pressed.

She nodded and helped me slip the left arm and shoulder guards off. They were added to collection on the floor. Rain stood before me and put her hands to my chest. Her fingers rubbed against the rough cotton of my under robe. She looked down, almost as if she was thinking of pressing her head to my chest too. I waited for her to speak, but she didn’t say anything.

‘Don’t you care about it?’ I asked desperately and grabbed her hands, ‘you could have helped. Maybe then…’

‘No. It’s human life. It’s nothing to do with me. I can’t save people…’ she trailed off.

‘You just take their souls?’ I ended for her.

‘I only take the non-human souls,’ she stated.

I let go of her hands, but they didn’t fall, she kept them against my chest. I pulled her chin up and noticed the determined look on her face. I had no idea what was going through her head, she was so closed to me.

‘Then why did you watch?’ I enquired gruffly.

‘Because…I felt sorry for you and have done since we met,’ she confessed, ‘you are doing tasks you weren’t meant to do and are blind to the job you need to do.’

‘Rain,’ I grabbed her shoulders, ‘do you know something about me? Do you know what I need to do?’

She shook her head and I badly wanted her to be lying.

‘You must tell me!’ I pleaded.

Rain pressed herself to me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and put her forehead to my throat. I could hear her breathing and warmth swapping between us. My hands slipped from her shoulders and wrapped around her upper back. I turned my head and put my cheek to her soft hair.

‘You have to concentrate on finding a way home,’ Rain began, ‘stop wasting your powers on things. Do you remember why you were sent here in the first place?’

‘Not really,’ I said aloud, then give it some deeper thought.

Rain rubbed her face into my robe before looking up at me. It looked like she was about to cry. I had the urge to kiss her.

‘You were going to tell me how you ended up here, remember?’ she recalled.

Keeping one arm around her, I brought the other hand to her face and rubbed her cheek between my thumb and finger. Her skin was soft and warm. A ghost of a smile appeared on her face, then flowered into a real one. She tiled her head slightly and kissed the side of my thumb. Her lips were softer than her cheek. My head emptied and I just wanted to kiss her.

‘Blaze?’ she hummed.

‘Yes?’

‘I think you’re getting distracted.’

‘You’re the one causing it,’ I pointed out.

Rain pushed away from me, breaking the hold I had on her. She walked over to the bed and sprawled out over the mountain of pillows and blankets, ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t lead you on. I’m bad.’

‘No you’re not bad, Rain,’ I argued and went to sit beside her.

‘You don’t know me. What I’ve done,’ Rain muttered.

I looked down at her. She had shut her eyes and was clenching her fists as if the memories were too hard to deal with. Her hair was scattered out around her and the candle light was making some strands shimmer bronze. Her face scrunched up then relaxed.

‘Confess to me, Rain. I can forgive your sins,’ I said in a low voice, ‘I have the power to release you from them. Just like that man I let go in the alley.’

Rain shook her head, tousling her hair more, ‘you can’t. If the Mestemalum Senātus couldn’t, then nor can you or anyone else.’

‘Not even God?’

‘Not even Him,’ she whispered.

I paused and tried to think what the beautiful, fierce Rain could have done which was eternally unforgiveable. I heard her fighting back a sob and I grabbed her hand. Lying down next to her, I watched her eyes open to blink away small tear drops. I squeezed her hand and she rolled over into me and nestled at my side.

‘You could still tell me. We could find away together,’ I offered.

‘I can never walk in the Light,’ Rain breathed, ‘my path is darkness to the end of time. No one can save or stop me. I’m a lost cause.’

‘I won’t believe it!’ I cried and held her hard.

‘It’s okay, Blaze. I’ve all ready accepted it. And you’re going to have to too. Just like everyone else.’

Like the owners of the notebooks? Like everyone who stayed in the bedroom before me at the Paradise Garden? Surely, someone must have tried to help her? Or is this all recent?

I heard a small snicker, which I knew hadn’t come from Rain and that same hissing male voice from before crept into my head, ‘she’s completely right, Feathers. Nothing can save her. The only way to help her is to give your soul to me.’

‘Rain?’ I uttered.

‘Yeah, I know,’ she responded, ‘just ignore it.’

A sudden bust of cruel laughter filled my mind. I sat up too quickly and pain shot into my head. Pressing a palm to my forehead, I looked over at my sword and thought about grabbing it.

Rain moved from beside me and stood up in a graceful single movement. She walked over to her katana, picked it up and carried on walking. She stopped at the trunk, swept my robe off it and opened it up.

Before I could ask her what she was doing, she had laid the weapon inside and shut the lid. She sat down on top of it, balancing herself on the edge and crossing her arms over her chest. The laughter stopped, disappearing just as fast as it had come. My migraine vanished and I felt an ebb of power returning to me.

‘You do that again, Haku and I’ll slit you in two from bottom to top,’ Rain hissed at the trunk.

‘Ameya, Aijin. I can’t promise that,’ the voice whispered before fading completely.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 5, Part 1)

Angel

Continued from Church Chapter 4

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze. He goes back to the church and reflects on Rain. Then he goes out and tries to rescue a human woman who is being attacked. Failing to save her, Blaze returns home to find someone has followed him.

Chapter 5

‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’

Matthew 7:7

 I turned fully and stared down at the figure by the lichgate. I hoped it was nothing more than a trick of the rain and shadows, or else some kind of spirit. My hand went to my sword. The figure moved forward and walked right through the padlocked gate. I growled, shuffled my feet and began to draw my sword.

I couldn’t tell what this figure was. I felt no energy or aura coming off it. The rain seemed to pass around it, as if there was an umbrella over the shadow figure. I walked out to meet it, my sword half-drawn.

‘What are you? What do you want?’ I shouted.

The figure didn’t stop, but came right up to me on the path. Before my eyes it took shape into a masked and caped ninja. The body was wrapped in the blackness of the cape, which almost touched the floor. The hood completely covered the head and was drawn down over the top half of a face. A large black cloth covered the rest of the face, leaving only the eyes out. I saw they were mismatched in colour; one green, one blue. Instantly I knew it was Rain.

‘What are you doing here?’ I asked.

‘I followed you,’ she said simply, the mask not muffling her words at all.

I felt the rain stopping, but resisted glancing up. I could still hear heavy drops falling onto the headstones and tall grass. I slipped my sword back down and took her in again. Wondering what she really wanted. Did she know I’d taken the notebooks?

‘Are you going to invite me in?’ she asked after a few moments, ‘I was hospitable to you.’

I glanced over my shoulder at the church and felt uneasy about her question. I frowned a little and my mind went to suggest we find some other place, ‘perhaps we could go somewhere else? You’ve still not told me what you want.’

‘I got lonely after you left,’ she muttered.

‘It’s only been a day!’ I reminded her, ‘what do you really want?’

Her eyes tensed up and flashed with anger, ‘why would I want anything off you? I thought you wanted my help. Clearly I was wrong about you, Blaze.’ She turned and the back of her cape whished around her legs.

I felt the rain hitting me again as she took her first few steps away. She had her large katana stripped to her back in a fabric sheath. A whispering male voice, which I didn’t recognise spoke into my ear, ‘your loss, Feathers.’

‘Rain! Wait. I didn’t mean it like that,’ I called after her, ‘It’s a mess inside there. It’s been abandoned for so long and I’ve nothing to offer you. Not like your Paradise Garden.’

Rain paused and looked over her shoulder at me.

‘I just used it for a base. Unfortunately, it’s now become home. And…I wasn’t expecting to see you again so soon. You took me by surprise. You can come in, if you want.’

She half turned on the path, but I couldn’t make her expression out or read her eyes clearly.

‘Sometimes, reality is more beautiful than any dream garden you can create,’ she replied softly with an undertone of sadness.

I puzzled over her words as that same male voice muttered, ‘you are too easy, Feathers. Your soul looks pretty tasty…’

‘What?’ I hissed and looked around the graveyard. Somehow, I knew that voice wasn’t in my head. There was an malicious spirt watching us, I could feel it at the edges of my senses.

‘Be quiet, Haku. Stay out of his head,’ Rain whispered as she bounced the katana.

I put my hand to my sword and kept my eyes searching the graveyard. I heard Rain let out a deep breath and come over to me.

‘It’s all right,’ she said and put her hand on top of mine, stopping me from drawing, ‘Let’s go inside.’

‘You heard it, right? That strange voice?’ I questioned.

Rain nodded and put her other hand on to my arm. Slowly, she hushed me back under the church archway. She tried to push against the door, but it didn’t give way. Easing my arm away from her, I used both my hands to open the door enough.

‘It’s wedged,’ I explained, ‘there’s some fallen bricks.’

I slide easily through the gap and tried to open the door further for her, but Rain quickly followed me through. We closed it together and heavy darkness settled around us. I let my eyes adjust and was about to reach out for her, when a ball of white light appeared. I paused and watched the light growing in her hands.

‘I don’t like small dark spaces,’ Rain declared.

‘Watch where you step,’ I responded back and moved off.

‘How did you end up here?’ Rain’s voice called from behind me.

‘I’ll explain upstairs. What was that voice? Did something follow you?’

‘No. I don’t…it’s complicated,’ Rain sighed, ‘Don’t worry about it.’

I stopped and spun back to her. She was still by the doorway with the ball of light now floating in front of her. Her eyes came back to mine, from having been on the glass-less windows.

‘There are some secrets I’ve to keep from you,’ she stated, the words heavy, ‘you must forgive me for that.’

‘Perhaps, I can help you?’ I suggested slowly.

‘It’s my burden to bear.’

I turned and walked on. She followed me and I took her up to the bell tower. Leaving her in the doorframe, I lit some candles and shuffled the notebooks under the books on the table.

‘I’ve some food and water, if you want,’ I called over my shoulder.

‘Thanks. I’m fine. ’

‘There’s only one chair…here.’

I pulled the wooden chair out for her, indicting with my hand and looking over at her. She was touching the stone blocks and looked distant. I let go of the chair and unstrapped my sword. Placing it between the wall and desk, I then took off my top robe. I crossed over to the large trunk and dropped the robe on top of it.  I took off my boots and socks, before starting on my armour.

Rain stepped in and after a quick look around, sat down in the offered chair. She pulled the mask from her face and the hood from her head. Her light brown hair fell about her and settled around her rounded cheeks. Her expression was unreadable, though her lips crinkled slightly at the edges.

‘I’ve stayed in worse places,’ she said gently.

‘I feel safer here,’ I countered, ‘closer to my real home.’

Rain licked her lips and pulled the sheathed katana off her back. She balanced it against the table. Then stood and took her cape off. Draping it over the chair back, she came over to me and began undoing the leather straps of my shoulder guard. She was wearing a tight black top and pants that covered her as much as the cape had done.

‘You’d have a lot more movement without this metal,’ she said.

‘It’s all part of the uniform,’ I explained and tried not to laugh.

Rain pulled a face and I couldn’t help but smile.

‘I’m use to it,’ I put in, dropping the chest plate on the floor. I started on the other shoulder guard.

‘I’m sorry I surprised you. I didn’t mean too,’ Rain uttered as she tossed down the armour.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ I replied.

‘I saw what you did in that alley.’

I paused and looked at her. She was unstrapping my arm guard and I could feel the brushes of her warm fingers. Her eyes were fixed on the buckles, but as soon as she had pulled off the guard, she looked at me.

‘The reaper who showed up wanted to know what’d happened,’ she concluded.

To Be Continued…

Red and Black

I was never what they were expecting, but I had gotten use to that over the years. The dying saw my colours first, just like I saw and was drawn to theirs. I knew what the human race had imagined throughout the centuries; the black cloak, the scythe, the boat, the angels. They never cast me in that role though and yet here I was; the girl child in the red coat with the black umbrella, come to ferry your soul.

Church (Chapter 4, Part 3)

(Continued from Church Chapter 4, Part 1 and 2)

Standing on the church porch, I looked up at the darkening sky which was becoming a wash with colours. The day was slowly ending. I glanced around the graveyard as I walked to the lichgate, but couldn’t detect any of the spirits. Jumping over, I walked down the road and towards the main one. There, I watched a tractor go by in the field opposite, before unfurling my wings. Fluffing out my feathers, I listened to the unusual quietness around me.

My senses hadn’t picked up any evil yet, but that wasn’t going to put me off. Maybe I could find someone to help instead? The tasks of a warrior angel sometimes board on doing missions like that. Flapping my wings and kicking off from the ground, I made myself invisible to the human eye and took to the sky. I dodge growing light grey clouds and birds. I felt the last of the sun’s heat on me and felt joyous.

Without meaning too or really thinking about it, I flew towards the park where I had fought last night. Landing safely in the cover of trees, I walked to the spot where everything had happened. Oddly, the area looked cleaner. The broken trees and branches had been removed and the grass didn’t have deep gorge marks across it. There was nothing to indicate that anything had gone on here.

The battle replayed in my head, bring with it Rain. That image of her atop the Demi-god bear burned into me. She had been all in black and taking on a solid form as she looked down at me. I had felt worried due to not knowing what she was and feeling the power coming off her. Strangely, I then remembered how she had stood there as if in conversation with something I couldn’t see. Had she just been weighing things up herself or had it been some spirit guide? Perhaps, I should have asked when I’d had the chance.

I walked through the rest of the park, secretly passing by joggers, parents and their children, teenagers and people heading home. Only the dogs saw me go by and whilst most of them barked, I few came up to me. I patted their heads and blessed them. Animals are neutral, they do nothing good or bad as their actions involve their survival.

I journeyed on, taking to the sky again and flying further then I had done before. I landed on the roof of a skyscraper and looked down at the new city. Many other towers reached into the air as if man was trying to claim the sky. The sun reflected off many glass surfaces, sending splashes of colour everywhere. And the noise! There was so much life below me. I listened to the conversations, trying to pick up on anyone who needed help. Nothing major came to me.

I fluttered down to street level, making sure I still couldn’t be seen and sat on the roof of a parked car. The street and road were packed with people on the move. For a few minutes I enjoyed the sounds, sights and smells. Human life fascinated me no end. Then a female like crying came to me. It could have been nothing, but I decided to check it out.

The crying sound led me to a hardly used side street. At the top of which was a dead end and had a group of figures clustered around. Hovering just above the pavement, I drifted over to watch and valuate.  There was a woman dressed in a dirty short skirt and low cut top, surround by four men. She had wild black hair and red rimmed eyes, she wasn’t speaking in English but another language, which I didn’t recognise. She was clearly pleading with the men to leave her alone.

The men all looked the same to me; tall, dark skinned, muscular bodies, short hairstyles. They were all wearing designer jeans, shirts and shoes. They spoke the same language as her, but didn’t seem to be listening to her. In fact they were laughing and mocking her. They called her cruel names and threated her if she didn’t do what they wanted.

What had caused this? I had no idea, but I didn’t want it to continue. I revealed myself to them, but without my wings and walked straight up.

‘Leave her alone!’ I shouted in their language, because that was not a barrier to angels.

They stared at me, lips curled up in sneers and marking me up. I saw one slip out a long knife from behind him and try to conceal it along his arm. The woman, who had had her fists on the chest of the apparent Boss, turned to me and began shouting, ‘go away, stay out of this! They’ll kill you.’

‘Better do as she says!’ the Boss cut in.

He grabbed the woman’s arms and pulled her into a corner. She cried loudly, but I couldn’t see what he was doing because he was blocking my view. The other three men added to this and stepped towards me. They looked menacing and I could feel their evil intentions radiating from them. I looked into their auras and found that they weren’t daemons nor had they been touched by them. They were just men who had had a bad life and believed they could take whatever they wanted.

I gritted my teeth and tried to stop a growl escaping me. I felt no pity towards them and knowing their true natures only made me feel stronger. I debated trying to talk them out of it, but I could see that wasn’t going to happen. These men wanted blood. My hand went for my sword, but I realised it would be useless in this fight. I fingers touched my side as my ears picked up their sniggering laughter.

‘You left your weapon at home, hero?’ the knife man asked.

‘No,’ I replied calmly and remembering they couldn’t see the sword due to it being Heaven made and thus beyond their sight.

They laughed as if my response was a joke. Behind them the woman let out a desperate moan. I didn’t need to see to know what was happening to her now. I felt anger well inside of me and in one quick movement I balled my hand up and swung a punch at knife man.

My fist collided with his nose and I heard bone breaking. The knife clattered to the floor and he buried his face in his hands. I breathed deeply and watched blood dripping though his fingers and staining the cracks in his knuckles.

‘What the fuck?’ his left wingman muttered.

Knife man’s eyes meet mine and I saw the pain reflect in them. He lunged at me and caught in a bear hug, growling loudly in my ear. I brought my knee up and shoved it in-between his legs.  A low blow perhaps, but it worked and he let go as he doubled over. I put my hands together, fingers linked and threw some of my upper body weight behind it as I wacked him on the back between the shoulder blades, whilst I brought that same knee up and into his face. He crumbled to the floor, gasping for breath, blood splattering his face.

My eyes flickered to the other two and the third man with the woman. They were all watching me and rethinking their early judgement of me. I waited, planning my next attack. Right wingman scooped up the knife and waved it threatening at me, ‘I’ll guts you likes a piggy,’ he slurred and rushed forward.

‘Gets him, Moze!’ left wingman shouted.

He ploughed into me, the knife aimed at my stomach. However, I punched him then knocked his arms away. We wrestled for the knife, whilst he tried to cut me with it. He was good at dodging my blows, but his hands were sweaty and in a few moves, I easily ripped the knife out of his hands. He backed up, breathing hard and looking panicked. I stepped up and stuck the knife in his stomach, just as he had intended to do to me. He doubled over, but not before I had yanked the blade out.

Left wingman looked scared and he was trying to flatten himself against the wall. His eyes darted between me and his Boss.

‘Not what you were expecting from a weapon-less hero, right?’ I asked, coldly.

‘Get him, you idiot,’ Boss yelled.

‘No, way,’ left wingman replied and rushed passed me.

I could’ve struck out and sliced his legs or low body, but the woman’s soft moaning drew my attention more. Boss had her pinned to the wall with his beefy arm across her throat. His other hand zipped up his jeans as he eyed me.

‘You should’ve stayed out of this. What’s this whore to you anyways?’ he asked.

I shrugged.

‘She’s worthless to me,’ he added.

Quickly, he drew a dagger from his t-shirt sleeve and stabbed her in the chest. I raced over, her scream and cry filling all my senses. I brought my knife down into him and felt the blade carving through flesh and muscle, hitting bone.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 4, Part 2)

Continued from Church Chapter 4, Part 1

I opened my eyes and a moan escaped from my mouth. I was far too hot and sweating, so I threw off all the blankets and stretched out. I could feel the afternoon heat seeping in though the badly nailed wooden boards. I sat up, rubbing my face and pushing back strands of my long gold-red hair. My hand dropped to my hairless tight muscled chest and my fingernails scratched across my skin. Next, I massaged my shoulders and neck feeling the dull pains there because of my rough bed.

My eyes landed on the nearest wooden board and noticing that two of the small nails were loose, I got an idea. Standing up, I stepped over and wrapped my fingers around the edge of the board. Gently, I tugged it away from the wall and it easily gave way.  Light flooded inside and caused dust motes to take to the air. I ripped the rest of that side away, sending a few nails popping. Now, I had a window. Fresh air drifted in slowly as if it was exploring a place it had long forgotten about. I looked out over the graveyard and patched farmland, enjoying the sight.

Sitting down, I pulled my hair loose and looked at the lilac hair tie between my fingers. It was her’s. She had tied my hair back with it just after I had awakened from her knocking me out. I played with it, rubbing it against my fingers and thinking of that moment. I never tied my hair back, but after a few moments, I did just that again.

Casting my eyes around, I saw nothing else to do but to get up and dressed. It was too early to go out searching for evil, so I didn’t bother putting my armour on just my robes. No socks or boots neither. I loved the feeling of the dry wooden boards beneath me. The candle was still lit on the desk and blowing it out, I decided to do a bit of tidying up. Maybe it was due to the sudden rays of light now revealing how messy the room was?

I did my desk first by arranging the candles, matches, books, paper and pens. My bed was next and I sorted out the bedding, removed anything that wasn’t a blanket or a pillow, before doing the mattress up as best I could. The rest of the things on the floor were mostly clothes, books and empty water bottles. I picked all these up, putting the clothes in the large trunk in the far corner, the books on the desk and the bottles in a pile.

My stomach growled and I paused at the sound. It had felt like an age since I had last eaten something. I went over to the small food cupboard I had and looked through the items Granny Malock had given me. I selected a few things and a bottle of water. Sitting at the desk, I ate and drink whilst my mind remembered the ‘not-real’ food Rain had offered me. I paused as I thought about her. What was she doing now?

Shaking my head, I finished up eating a sandwich and an orange. The water was warm and made my mouth and throat drier. I drank the bottle and dropped it with the other ones. Sweeping the orange peel and plastic wrap to the side, I picked up the black covered notebook and starting at the beginning looked through the pages. A part of me had expected the pages to be blank or for something else to happen, but no, the pencil and pen sketches looked the same as they had done last time.

The first page was of the ruined cathedral and second page of the Paradise Garden in great, but small detail. Close ups of flowers on the next, followed by rabbits on the fourth and an owl on the fifth. I turned that page and the sketches of Rain began. I slowed down and studied them more closely than before. The artist had really taken his time to try and get her face right. I wondered who he was and how he had known Rain. Was he an angel like me? Or something else? He had liked her though, I could tell from the way he had drawn her.

The eighth page and I was staring into the eyes of a young man. Was it possible that he was the artist and Rain had drawn this? In a flash, I pictured them together, sitting in the oak tree chairs on the platform. The basket of fruit was on the matching table and they were laughing together. He got up, showed her the sketch he had just completed and handed everything to her so she could do one of him.

I turned the page, pushing the image away and let my eyes fall on a map of a graveyard. There was a church marked at the top and connected to a gate at the bottom by a meandering line. A few small trees were sketched out and some large headstones, almost as if someone was suggesting they could be used as cover. There were also two stone angels facing each other in prayer. A thin dotted line cut out a path and I realised I hadn’t noticed it before. Quickly, I traced it and came to the conclusion that this map had been made during a plan of attack.

I turned my eyes and saw the words written on the next page once more;

 I do not wander in darkness alone as your light shines out before me.

 It looked like a Bible quote, but not quite. Interested, I dug out one of the Bibles I had brought up from the church floor and flipped through the pages. For a good few minutes, I tried to find that line, but nothing matched it. The writer could have easily miss-quoted or else just pieced it together. Something about it bugged me though and for some reason, I got the feeling it wasn’t a line to God or Jesus, but was about and to a person.

I closed the book and put it back on the pile. Resting my elbows on the table, I put my head in my hands and shut my eyes. I had to get her out of my head. I was drawn to her far too much and I knew it. There was so much mystery surrounding her and I wanted to know it, but really, I wanted more. Rubbing my head, I tried to push away all those thoughts and sent my senses out for evil. Killing would defiantly distract me.

I got changed, putting on my armour and boots this time. I collected my sword and wondered down to the church. Instead of walking across the altar, I went my usual route of slipping behind the stone pillar. It was one of a pair that marked the entrance to the altar. I stopped and looked into the large alcove of the church organ. I walked over and let my fingers trail across the keys. They were covered in dust, just like everything else.

Pressing down just a little bit harder caused a note to be rudely admitted from one of the many brass pipes above me. I played a few more, knowing it was a risk in case someone heard me, but I could always deal with them. The notes sounded forced and not as booming as they should have been. I stopped playing and wondered if that was the last time the organ would ever be heard from again.

Shaking off the cold feeling that thought left me with, I went out.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 4, Part 1)

Continued from Church Chapter 3

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze.

Chapter 4

‘On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’

Matthew 16:18

I walked away from the ruined remains of the cathedral and didn’t look back. I was seriously tempted too, but a part of me knew if I even caught a glimpse of those stones I would retrace my footsteps, find Rain and hold her tightly to me. I climbed the hill and unfurled my golden red wings at the top. I flapped them, feeling the rush of air around my body before I jumped up and took to the sky.

The time hadn’t changed, I noted as dawn was just touching the horizon like it had been doing when I stepped under the cathedral archway. I was feeling extremely awake and calm, though it was probably a lingering effect from the garden. I raced the coming dawn home and landed next to the lichgate. I watched the sun completely rise above me. Warm light brushed me then hurried in further to light up the clinging shadows.

Taking in a deep breath, I turned back and cast my eyes over the graveyard. Small headstones poked out of the grass and I know what awaited me. Climbing over the gate, my boots hit the grass and the almost lost path underneath. I pulled my robe tighter around me, hunched my shoulders and walked up to the church. I can feel them, the diminishing ghosts. They watched from their burial places and whispered to themselves and each other. A soft crying child wisp brushed my ears and I tried to block it out.

I kept my pace as I began to climb the slope, expecting at any second to be assaulted by the spirits. Ever since I had moved into the church, they had reached out to me when I passed though the graveyard. Their almost faded voices constantly pleaded with me to help them pass over and escape this place. At first, I had been sympathetic with them, who couldn’t be? But I didn’t know how to help them, it wasn’t my job or place to ferry them over. I had countlessly explained this to them, but they didn’t get it and still clutched to my Heavenly light. Now, I had lost my patience with them all and I automatically put up the barriers and ignored them.

I reached the church porch and turned in confusion. I could just about see the spirits, though in the morning glow their forms were fading fast. There was a small girl in a too large white dress, an elderly couple clutching both of each other’s hands, a teenage boy laying in the grass looking bored. There was a young woman clutching a new born to one side and a two year old to the other, she was stood next to a World War One soldier boy. Beyond them was an ancient hobbling woman, an old man with a missing arm and small dog at his feet, a ten year old girl in a summer dress and finally, a middle aged farmer’s wife.

I waited and watched them all vanish as the sunlight finally settled on the graveyard and church. Thoughts tumbled through my mind. This had never happened before. Had they sensed the lingering evil touch from my fight with the Demigod bear and other daemons? Or had my Heavenly light finally faded? I reached for my great sword and slowly eased it out of the sheath at my hip. The weapon still looked normal and though it was heavy, I couldn’t feel its true weight in my hand. Placing the blade back, I ruffled my wings, reassuring myself that they too were still there and working.

For a few seconds, I wondered what else I could do to prove that nothing had changed. I didn’t feel anything different, just the circling puzzlement over the spirits’ reactions. With nothing coming to my mind, I looked out over the graveyard and decided that maybe the ghosts had finally given up on me. Somehow, that thought didn’t make me happier. They had always been active and determined.

I turned, pushed open the door with some force and squeezed inside the church. Nothing looked out of place and it didn’t look like anybody had wondered in. I wedged the door back in place, shutting out the glorious yellow daylight. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, then set my boots crunching along the floor, just like they always did over the fallen plaster and bricks. The dilapidated pews rose up on either side of me as I walked towards the altar.

For the first time in what felt like awhile, I looked over at the matching four arched windows, two on either side. They were empty of what once had been colourful stained glass depicting famous scenes from the Bible. The fragile remains of the frames now lent against old wooden boards, which were showing signs of rot. I wondered which Biblical scenes they had chosen and how many times the congregation mused over them.

Stepping up to the stone altar, I paused. There should have been a large divided window behind the grey rectangle block. Now there was only another wooden board, which banished the light and allowed darkness to rule. In the walls on either side of the window were etched out crosses. I knelt, put my hands together and cleared my mind. I fell into saying the Lord’s Pray aloud, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’ my voice echoed in the dead church.

Afterwards, I slipped into silence, not sure what else to say. I thought about a number of things, but decided that I just couldn’t word anything right. I let my hands fall and lent back, looking up at the window. I should say thank you, I thought, but somehow I just couldn’t do it. What did I have to be thankful for right now? Shelter, I guess. The fact I was still alive. I clenched my fists. I wasn’t thankful for being trapped here though.

I relaxed my hands and got up. I went to the hidden alcove. Pushing open the door, I climbed the spiral staircase upwards and into my room. I light the candle out of habit, swung my sheath sword into place against the desk and stripped out of my clothes. The notebooks I had taken tumbled out and slapped the floor hard. I gathered them up and placed them on the desk.

Once naked, I picked them up again and took them into bed with me. Though it seemed like I had all ready slept, I felt exhausted. My wings wrapped around protectively around me, but I shimmered them away, so I could feel the cold wooden walls on my back.  Arranging the mass of blankets and pillows, I settled back and shut my eyes. I did some deep breathing exercises and succumbed to a meditate like state.

She came to me right away. Rain. She was standing in her Paradise Garden. Her mismatched green and blue eyes were looking out over the railing whilst the animals and stream sing to her. The air was thick with lavender, midnight jasmine and lilies. She had her arms resting on the rail, her light brown hair loose and wind swept. She was wearing the black pants and a white vest top from the training room. I couldn’t see her expression.

I sighed and said her name aloud. It was sweet on my lips like forbidden fruit. Would I ever see her again, like she had promised? Sleep rolled across me and I welcomed it with open arms.

To Be Continued…..