Continued from Church chapter 3, parts 1 and 2.
A soft female voice, which I half recognised, was repeatedly calling my name, though she sounded very distant. A harsher male voice, which I didn’t know, cut in with, ‘you are on the wrong side of Heaven now, but you are still too righteous for Hell.’ Was that an actual person or just a voice inside of my head? I felt fingers tugging at something across my sides, but I let go and fell into a dream.
I was flying amongst fluffy white clouds, the sun glorious hot on my skin. Trumpets and harps were playing gentle songs in my ears. I was aware of other angels filling the sky around me and the feeling of wings brushing against my own. Still, though that same female voice called my name, ‘Blaze?’ she questioned with sadness and concern.
I opened my eyes and saw a wooden beamed ceiling. Taking in a few deep breaths, I smelt and tasted an acidic burning of dried plant. Easing myself up, I felt the dead weight of my metal plate on my torso. With numb fingers I reached out for the leather straps at the side and found them all ready loosened. I pulled the armour off over my head and placed it down beside me. My arm guards hadn’t been unbuckled, but I quickly did that and pulled them off too.
I noticed a very low and short red lacquered table across from me next to the wall. On it a thick twist of sage was burning over a white bowl, a gentle curl of smoke rose upwards. A tall white church pillar candle was burning beside it. Soft padding footsteps ticked my ear and I turned to my right. Black pant covered legs met my eyes and I turned my head up, into the face of Rain.
‘Blaze? Are you all right?’
I touched the side of my head and rubbed it carefully. My hair was a mess around my face and shoulders. I withdrew my hand and didn’t see any blood on my fingers, but that area still ached.
‘Here,’ Rain said and handed me an opened bottle of water.
I took it and had a sip, whilst she crouched on the floor and wrapped her arms around her knees. She looked unhappy and concerned. Her mismatched eyes were also downcast and for a few moments she didn’t look at me as I drink. The water was cold and refreshing, I felt better. I handed it back to her and she took a few mouthfuls, before placing the bottle between us.
‘You didn’t really mean it, did you?’ I inquired, softly.
‘No, I just wanted to see what you’d do,’ Rain responded in a whispery voice, ‘I didn’t mean you any harm. I promised not to hurt you, remember? I always keep my promises.’
I felt her fingertips try to brush my hair back from my face, but it was too tangled and fell back. From her own hair, she tugged out a lilac thin elastic tie, which caused her hair to fan down like a waterfall. Shifting behind me, she gathered all my long golden strands up and tied my hair out of the way. Her hand brushed my shoulder and for a fleeting moment I wished she had lingered longer.
‘I head a man’s voice alongside your own,’ I spoke, as I pulled my legs crossed together and straightened up, ‘he said something about the wrong sides of Heaven and Hell.’
Rain’s face crumpled into puzzlement.
‘Maybe, it wasn’t a real voice or it could have been spiritual…’ I added, thoughtfully.
She glanced over her shoulder and in a single movement got up. She crossed the floor, went to the speaker system and collected something. Coming back she knelt beside me and showed me the palm sized music device in her hand. The screen loaded up an album cover with some kind of demon on a fiery background. Scrolling letters that I couldn’t catch moved along the bottom.
‘What were the actual words?’ Rain asked.
‘I can’t really remember,’ I admitted.
She hit play and loud piano notes accompanied by a guitar waved through the air, that harsh male voice began singing. We listened closely and a few moments later we both heard the line. Rain stopped the song and looked at me, ‘see? That’s all it was, Five Finger Death Punch. I like to listen to them when I practise,’ she finished in a half shrug.
‘I understand,’ I replied, simply.
Rain switched the device off and ran her fingers along the edge. We were quiet for a few seconds, then she mumbled, ‘maybe it was some kind of sign.’
I turned back to her, having been staring at the burning sage and candle. She was looking at the floor again, though her face was softer and calmer now. She glanced up at me and further suggested, ‘you were looking for a sign about why you were stuck here.’
I nodded and waiting for her to go on.
‘Well, maybe that was one? I don’t know though,’ her voice laughed, ‘these musicians always seem to say the stuff I need to hear at the right moment. I know it’s just me reading too much into their lyrics though, but it seems to help.’
She went to get up, but I lightly clasped her arm, stilling her. I let go, though the warmth and softness of her skin almost prevented the movement of my fingers. I halted her words with a quick look and commanded, ‘tell me about yourself. You’ve hidden it this long, but now I need to know.’
‘It’s complicated,’ she uttered.
‘So? Tell me and I will try to understand.’
Rain shook her head, sending her hair spilling around her face.
Without thinking, I gathered the strands in my hands and tossed them over her shoulders. My palms skimmed her upper arms, I told them to let go, but they stayed and travelled further down to the balled up fists in her lap. I squeezed her hands and un-clenched her fingers, until she relaxed them against my own.
‘I have sinned, badly,’ she breathed, ‘I should look like Death to your eyes, because that’s what I am. I’ve meet other angels before, but they have kept their distance because they knew what I was, even if they didn’t fully understand it. You’re different and for whatever reason, you don’t sense the evil inside of me.’
‘You are a closed book to me, Rain,’ I admitted, ‘I have never been able to see your mind or aura. There seems to be just nothing, but I know that isn’t true. I thought you were creating the block yourself and perhaps that’s why?’
‘That is a part of it,’ she sighed, ‘but doesn’t explain the rest of it. Still, there’s always going to be mysteries that we don’t understand and we shouldn’t go seeking the answers to.’
I nodded and rubbing her fingers, allowed her to go on.
‘I’m warrior like yourself. Just as there are many different groups of angels, so it is with what I am. A Messore, a Reaper. You should already be aware of us. At least, our main group will be familiar to you,’ Rain paused, waiting for me to confirm this.
‘Grim Reapers, Death, the harvesters of mortal human souls. You guide the newly depart to Heaven or Hell. You are a form of angel,’ I rushed out.
‘Angels, who can never enter either realm and thus have become far from being the form you know. We are banished to Limbo and feared,’ Rain responded sadly, ‘I’m a member of one of their other groups. You see, it’s not just human souls we deal with. We have to take care of all souls- mortal and immortal alike.’
‘So, which souls do you…guide then?’ I wondered, half-unsure if I actually wanted to know the answer.
‘The most evil ones,’ she confessed, ‘like that Demigod bear, I saved you from. Though, it’s extremely rare to find his kind on the Earth plane. Normally, I go after what is classed as empty souls. They have no mortality left within them, if they ever had it in the first place. They feed on other souls, growing stronger and eviler, until that’s all they know.’
‘And it’s your job to vanquish them,’ I finished.
‘It was…I’m exiled now.’
To Be Continued….