Lore of the Angels Ch. 04byAlecrire©
Hi all! This is an edited version, with the help of a very brilliant Jason Moore. Hopefully I am now saved from the various language felonies!
He missed her --
The stubborn tilt of her chin, the whirlpools in her eyes and of course... the insane mortal sin of lust that his body simply couldn't get enough of.
Archangel Zilarrezko thought that by letting her go he would feel less. She had become a liability; learning his secrets, making him weak... It was the right thing to release her. Killing her would not change a thing except make those feelings even more pronounced.
Zilarrezko slammed his fist into the nearest wall in frustration. She was gone! Gone! So why was he still feeling this much... if not more?
He had a war to stop and all he could think about is her. Would Iluna now kill her precious Valkyrie if she knew she was his weakness?
Yes, she would.
It shouldn't matter to him. The Valkyrie was mortal and would die eventually. Whether she died yesterday, today or tomorrow, it will not lessen this thing he felt for her. No, he should not care about her. He'd learnt what he needed to know from her and she was now of no use to him.
He is Zilarrezko --the Archangel of Death, Cardinal of the Metal clan; the youngest of all the clans and yet the most versatile and resistant element. He didn't need her.
In the Lore, it was said that the first four elements --Darkness, Light, Fire and Water --were made in binary opposition of each other. But that proved to be a mistake for the clans would always fight amongst themselves, wanting to prove who was stronger than the other.
So Earth and Metal were created as complements; Earth as the womb in which Metals --in its raw state or in various forms; oxides, sulphides and chlorides --could be found. Earth's relationship with Metals was symbiotic for unlike the other elements, Man could work with Metals; fashioning them into tools that helped them hunt for food and protected them from danger.
Darkness scared Man, Light confused him and for a period of time, the sun had been worshipped. Fire burnt him and Water drowned him but Metal had always been safe; hidden and protected by it. In return, Earth provided the comforts in which Metals like mercury could stabilize and stay hidden until it needed to be used.
These were the stories from the Lore that his mother would tell him when he was young. The elements needed each other she'd say; Yin and Yang. She'd always told him that attachment isn't weakness. Hadn't she always said that it doesn't make you weak just because you needed someone?
Zilarrezko smiled at that memory but his mother hadn't lived past the Dark Ages of the Angels. She hadn't seen the fall of Gaia and the reduction of the Earth Angels to mortals... so she had to be wrong.
Needing someone makes you weak.
Iluna stared at the Ayn Valkyrie before her; enraptured with the stories that she was telling. Had it really been only nine days since she last saw Aria? This Ayn was truly worth the hired price.
"So he keeps two Light Ordinals, one Fire and one Metal you say? How intriguing..." In truth, Iluna thought that was distasteful. Had Zilarrezko no loyalty to his own clan? He should have put all his own clan Angels in his Ordinal cadre --like she did.
"And have you learnt about his... relationship with that Yuki?" she asked; her tone going slightly crisp.
"Archangel Zilarrezko has made no mention of the Snow Queen in my presence Cardinal but from what I have gathered, he sees her territory as being too far away geographically to provide much needed aid."
"Oh!" she gasped excitedly. "Does that mean he has no need for her help? Or did she refuse him?"
Aria wasn't sure. "He knows you are courting Archangel Cyrus of Europe."
Iluna's eyes fell flat.
"And from a militarily strategic point, he might have withdrawn his request for help in hopes you would too."
"Rubbish! Why would I do that? I want to win this war don't I?"
"Cardinal... if I may so speak freely?"
"Even if you annihilate his entire army and eradicate the civilians, there is a chance that the Archangel may still refuse to surrender..." to you, she wanted to add but stopped herself short.
"How can he not? Would he rather I unclip his wings then and kill him? He is not stupid Aria Ayn," she replied casually. "And he's too softhearted to let too many civilians die."
Yes, thought Aria, he is. While Iluna's territory had been under martial law since the preparations for war, Zilarrezko had allowed his ruled to continue with their daily lives, promising to shield them from the worst of the war.
"Have you found his weakness Aria?"
Aria looked up into the dark pools of Iluna's eyes and nodded.
"I have taken care of it Cardinal. She has been disposed of." It was true. The Aria who experienced Niagara Falls with Zilarrezko had been buried deep within her psyche and would no longer exist.
The Archangel leaned back in surprise and then laughed; the sound thundering through her hall.
"A mortal? Oh god this is too much for me!" she was hysterical with amusement now. "This is just too good. And here I thought he had fallen for that frigid Yuki." Iluna clapped her hand and grinned flirtatiously. "And how is he? Did you incapacitate him as I've told you to?"
"The pearl is still with me Cardinal. The loss of his mortal will crush him more than the pearl. He will be disoriented and will mourn her loss for a few days at least..." she paused, trying to stop the bile from rising in her throat. "It will give you the upper hand during the first attack."
Iluna was overjoyed. "Will you fight along us Aria Ayn?"
Aria didn't reply her but simply cast her eyes down.
"Ah... payment for a separate assignment I suppose? Well... you have provided me immense joy my dear Ayn and as such I will double my payment to have your services in this war."
"Ayns are never conscripted for actual war Cardinal... We are not equipped with the necessary skills and abilities to survive it."
The Archangel frowned; her pretty brows knitting together. "Triple my last payment."
Aria almost wept. The last payment for seducing Zilarrezko had dipped into the eight digits... now triple of that?
"It is not the money Cardinal... I do not wish to die."
"How can you die when you cannot be seen Ayn? Your ability of Illusion is most extraordinary. Can you extend that to those surrounding you?"
Aria snapped her eyes up at the Archangel. So... she knew.
"Yes but it will drain me."
"I will help you then. You will be by my side at all times and I will protect you. Help me cover the first row of the attacking troops. That is all I am asking."
"Cardinal..." she protested.
"Do it Aria or I will ask one of the other four Ayns... maybe your brother?" A dangerous smile curved at her lips.
That was playing dirty!
"No! Spare my siblings... they are still young."
"Well?" Iluna gave Aria no other choice.
"Very well. I accept your offer but I require no payment for this last assignment... and it will be my last Cardinal."
"It's a deal."
The surprise attack was planned to be launched at dusk in two days time. Iluna wanted the extra cover of night as insurance for the blanket of Darkness she had shrouded over her border. Aria had not approved of it but she was just a lowly Valkyrie with not much say. The information she had given Iluna was meant to give her an upper hand; not an unfair first strike.
The Lore is not just a book of myths and bedtime stories. It also contains passages regarding the just rules of war, the courting rituals and the selection of Cardinals among Angels. But the main message is clear --there has to be honor even in conflict.
However, Aria did not expect many to still abide by the Lore. The two days of grace will give her enough time to return home and make arrangements. If the Archangel had threatened to reach out to her siblings, then Aria will have to make sure that they remain hidden during the war.
The sand dunes Illusion surrounding their current home allowed Aria and her siblings ample cover from those looking to destroy them. With a wave of her hand, part of the dune cracked to reveal a door.
"Kissa, Angelo...it's me, Aria," she called out to the eldest two of her younger siblings. When she heard no reply, a wave of panic smacked through her body. Not making another sound, she hid amongst the shadows; her body crouched low as she made her way up the staircase into the bedrooms.
Kissa's room was empty.
Betraying nothing, Aria continued to creep past her own room and peeked into the next room. Relief was evident on her face when she saw the youngest twins --Leiha and Troy --asleep in each other's arms.
Now where in the world were the other two?
Tiptoeing, she made her way to the final room down the hall and pushed open the door lightly with a jab of her toe.
Angelo and Kissa were fighting over the controls to the Xbox.
"Ehem." Aria cleared her throat and the two young adults stopped to look at her. Surprise and joy flashed in their eyes. "Kaifa halukum?" she asked them, using the language of their current home land. It was a simple, "How are you?" but it was a test to see if they had been practicing their mastery of the different languages.
"Ana bekhair! You're back!" Kissa jumped onto her sister and hugged her tight. "Please say you're not leaving again Ahizpa. I'm tired of cooking."
"Yes Arreba... I'm begging you. Kissa's cooking sucks!"
She couldn't help but laugh at their antics. This was home and no matter what language they had to learn, Basque was still the language that they were most comfortable slipping into. They had been addressing her as such since they were little.
Aria beamed at both of them; one complete opposite of the other. Angelo, four years younger than her was more man than boy. He had golden curls with hints of aquamarine while Kissa a year younger than him, had hair that was of the darkest blue, it looked almost black in the dark. But their eyes --all shone like whirlpools of blue amidst a black ocean.
"Let's go downstairs and I'll make you something to eat while we talk."
The two younglings looked at each other; worry flashing in their eyes. They knew that "talk" meant something big and serious. Following their sister, they made their way down to the kitchen where they watched her whip up a dish for the three of them.
"Angelo," said Aria as she sat down at the table. "Your Illusion is very well done."
He fluttered his golden-blue lashes at the praise. "Thank you. Kissa helps me sometimes when I'm tired."
Kissa grinned when mentioned and dug into her food.
"Well, we are going to need it for our trip."
"Where are we going?"
"Back to our home lands... but just for a while."
"Back to Bayonne?" asked Kissa, feeling excited. Aria nodded.
"But why Arreba..." Angelo was pouting. "I like it here."
"We'll come back after the war. I'm afraid that the Archangel Iluna knows our exact location now so we have to move."
Her two siblings' eyes widened at the news. "Is she... going to hurt us?"
"She might... but for now she just wants to use us for our Illusion."
The three of them kept quiet. Valkyries who've turned 21 were expected to render their services; mostly on a conscripted basis but Angelo and Kissa have one and two years more respectively. As such, if Iluna used them in war while they're underage, their deaths will not be compensated as they are not part of the Valkyrie Cartel yet.
"But Archangel Noor will never let Iluna set foot on her lands right?" asked Kissa.
"Yes... but I've been hearing that Noor might provide assistance to Zilarrezko. It's whispered in the streets all the way here."
Angelo understood his sister. "You want us to go to neutral territory... but how sure are you that Archangel Cyrus will not join the war?"
"If he does then we have to move again."
"Okay..." said Angelo sadly. "I hope this war doesn't drag on too long."
"I hope so too sweetie. I hope so too..."
Within the next twenty-four hours, Aria had managed to transport all four of her younger siblings to her safe house in Bayonne, France and ensured that their Illusion was strong enough to hide not just the house but the entire plot of land from sight. If anyone looked their way, all they would see is the coast and open sea.
The land had been expensive but Aria had bought it because of its superb location. That was perhaps the only good thing about being a hired spy --the money. Aria had safe houses in almost every part of the world and she intended to use them whenever she sensed danger approaching her family.
Now that they were all safely hidden, Aria could travel back to Colombia in preparation for the surprise attack at dusk. She intended to get some rest so she'd have to make it across the Atlantic Ocean in the next few hours. It wasn't difficult seeing that she could fly over in no time.
Who needs wings when she can pilot her own jet? The training was courtesy of the Cartel of course, amongst other things. They also regulated the average rate for hiring Valkyries and provided various legal services when needed.
The Valkyries aren't Human so they do not fall under the protection of Gaia, the Earth Cardinal. The Lore states that after the Dark Ages when Archangel Gaia lost her wings, there were some angels who willingly chose to accompany their loved ones into mortality. These angels gave up their wings willingly and called themselves Valkyries because they straddled life between that of mortals and immortals. They were stronger and lived longer because their own clan Archangels still ruled the world but without their wings, they could be killed or eventually die after a hundred years or so.
How much of that was true? No one knows.
But it should not matter because Aria could not die yet. Angelo might be nearing twenty-one years old but she is still the eldest and responsible for all of them. She needed to return home from this war alive...
Staying alive was the foremost important thing on Aria's mind as she slipped on her Valkyrie armor for the first time in her life. Ayns usually do not wear armor as they do not fight in battles but Valkyries, regardless of their denomination, must always enter the battlefield dressed as a Warrior.
Over her second skin she wore a lightweight brigandine body suit before slipping into her thigh high leather boots. The armored breast plate and arm braces came next followed by the greave to protect her shins and knees. Finally, she slid on her gorget; a steel collar around her neck.
The weight of the material reminded her of his metal cuffs...
"There's nothing to remember," she reminded herself as she took her gauntlets and claymore and walked out of her dressing room. She told herself there was nothing to remember, defying the cool metal hanging between her breasts to contradict her.
Iluna was already waiting for her at the entrance of her fort. The Archangel was stunning, even in her own armor; two daggers tucked at the sheath of her arm braces. Aria was sure that those daggers wouldn't be needed for death would not daringly court its own mistress.
"Ready?" she asked. Aria nodded. "Stay with me at all times is that clear?" she instructed. "If you get separated from me, don't hesitate to use the pearl I gave you... it should obliterate everyone within arms reach... the archangel exempted of course."
Aria hoped it would not come to that but she nodded nonetheless. The pearl was placed safely in a compartment in her arm brace.
Following behind the Archangel, Aria cleared her mind to help refocus her energies for the grand Illusion later. It was going to be difficult to totally cover the first line of the troops seeing that they were going to be very far from where she would be standing.
As they stepped out closer to the borders, Aria saw the sun slowly descending beyond the horizon; its rays were faint as they were under the intense fog of Darkness.
"Can you see the enemy troops from here?" asked Iluna, pointing across the Darién Gap where Aria could see tiny flickering lights of Zilarrezko's camps amidst the foliage. "Those aren't lights," she commented. "Those are Light Angels, glowing in the dark. It's just a scare tactic."
"Cardinal, the Gap is impossible for the mortals to cross... how are we going to..."
"Watch," said Iluna cutting her off mid sentence. Aria didn't know exactly what to look out for. Iluna was looking up in the sky, her hands outstretched as though moving a chunk of the Dark shroud down to form a bridge linking the two lands together.
Aria managed a gasp at the display of immense power wielded by the Archangel. Those shrouds of Darkness had been held up by the other Dark Angels and were essentially porous vapors but she had somehow crystallized that vapor over the swamp to create a battlefield that she could easily remove --to drown her sacrificial pawns and the enemies whenever she wanted to.
"Aria, when I lift my hand, you will cast your Illusion net over yourself then over the first line of troops. I will join you in a moment as soon as I reshuffle the shroud above us."
"Yes Cardinal," said Aria weakly. The thought of lives being put on the line made her sick to her stomach but this was what a Valkyrie was trained to do. So when Iluna lifted her hand, Aria focused her strength on the infantry; cloaking the first row of them with Illusion, rendering them invisible.
She could hear orders being shouted to march forward but what charged forth were not just the land troops but a phalanx of Dark Angels as well; hordes of Darkness in their palms, ready to blind the defending armies. Aria saw that at the very lead was an Ordinal; his Dark shape almost translucent against the night sky.
Then it happened. Aria could feel Iluna's strength supporting her from behind; covering not just the troops but also the Dark Angels. For a moment, Aria faltered at the thought of so many of Zilarrezko's warriors dying because they were caught off guard...
But she was wrong.
At that very moment, a sharp blast of Light speared right through the invading army and hit one of the Dark Angels straight in his forehead. He fell bleeding; no longer under the cover of Illusion.
"Don't lose focus Aria... They are coming," whispered Iluna from behind her.
The Light Angels were shooting arrows of Light into their territory non-stop such that the Dark shroud above them started to thin. Most of the Dark Angels had left their positions to charge forward and no longer kept the Darkness at its peak strength.
Lucian had felt rather than seen the presence of Archangel Iluna hovering beyond the Gap. Above them, the cloud of Darkness was thickening and he knew that she was planning for a surprise attack.
"Archers!" The playful tilt in his voice was gone; replaced by the hard, impassionate command of an army general at the forefront of battle.
A line of Light and Fire archers got into formation behind him, their bows pointing upwards and at the ready. Lucian knew that they would be shooting blindly for the Dark fog was growing more intense by the minute.
Then he sensed it --the slight chill emanating from a Dark Ordinal... and he was fast approaching them!
A flurry of arrows was released, spearing through the Dark cloud like a shower of meteorites. Lucian ordered the assault to continue as he radioed Julia for air cover. They had been caught off guard with this surprise attack so he needed to buy them all more time before Julia's reinforcements arrived.
From the corner of his eye, he caught movement --the enemies had crossed the Gap!