Lore of the Angels Ch. 13byAlecrire©
Hi all! I apologize in advance for this chapter is self-edited so do pardon the mistakes. One last chapter follows this one and that would wrap up the series. Enjoy the chapter! I'd think this one is very intense and has answers to some of the questions some of you have. I had a lot of fun writing it so I hope you enjoy reading it!
With Sona's feather in her left fist and Aria's wrist gripped tightly with her right hand, Gaia made her way down the long corridors, aware that the Metal Cardinal was trying his best to keep up with her. In her immortal state, Gaia's senses were heightened and she could feel every vibration like a prick on her skin. Zilarrezko might not have been able to see her but she had no doubt that he could sense her as acutely as she could him.
Distracted by the chasing footsteps, Gaia almost collided with Lucian if she hadn't sensed his worried and much lighter steps coming from her right. For a second, it annoyed her that she hadn't sensed him but now that she had, Gaia couldn't help but smile at the Light Ordinal's signature stance –half afloat with his toes barely touching the ground.
Gaia allowed their paths to cross just because she could.
The Light Angel turned; his wings no longer feathery soft but blinding neon. He was angry.
"What has your Cardinal ordered of you?" demanded Gaia.
The neon glowed brighter –if that was even possible –and a second later, it was gone. In its place was the lavender Angel, wings tucked neatly behind his back with a grim expression on his face. He recognized the Earth Cardinal, in all her restored glory, and if he was surprised at her appearance, he made no show of it.
"The children." Such a stoic expression from a beautiful face.
Gaia softened slightly. "Guard them Light Angel. Your Cardinal will be safe."
Without waiting for a response, she spread her wings and took her first flight in millennia; flexing the long-forgotten muscles and rekindling the memories of effortless gliding and soaring. The rush of the air tickling her feathers was like a welcoming glove, beckoning her to loll a little longer...but now was not the time. Gaia had a Water Archangel to train.
A Light Angel might have found her easily but Gaia was an Earth Archangel. She recognized every vibration made by each living organism that roamed her lands and Aria's bore the scent and resonance of a turbulent storm –a dormant one.
An aerial view of New York allowed her a glimpse at what her actions had done: the city streets were littered with confused Humans –no, Earth Angels now. They had the most beautiful wings –some of green hues, some of brown while others were of the milky limestones or bespeckled granites. Ah, she would summon them all later.
For now, she would allow the situation to be chaotic. The other Angels were trying to pacify their once mortal friends while some of the younger Earth Angels tried desperately to take their first leap into the sky.
Ignoring the anarchy, Gaia tried to appreciate the bigger picture. Oh how long has it been since she saw another of her brethren? How much she had yearned for the bond between herself and her clan Cardinals and Ordinals?
They would seek each other out eventually –no doubt. Gaia tried not to feel the giddy rush of anticipation.
That would have to wait.
Holding tight to the mortal in her clasp, she descended with as much control and grace as she could muster; feet gently resting on the soft banks of a river.
"Aria." Just one word but her voice acted like a switch stirring the mortal out of her unconsciousness. "Water Cardinal. It is time."
Meanwhile, the Obelisque was in a state of chaos and Anthony had about enough of crowd control. The sudden rush of Earth Angels had caught him by surprise and had taken most part of the afternoon trying to calm the situation.
That, coupled with the knowledge that he left Marcus alone to guard Zilarrezko against Iluna and her Ordinals, was enough to make him lose his temper –again.
It also didn't help that he kept hearing Julia's cries of distress in his head. He was sure he was imagining it but something in the tone of her voice made him itch to call the command centre and check on the fleet's position. Anthony would have resented the term caveman but he was about to enter barbaric mode if someone didn't come and relieve him soon.
Growling, he turned and caught sight of Angelo, with his aquamarine-gold flecks, walking towards him; matured adult eyes staring out from a boyish face. The Ayn already had the markings of a pre-Cardinal, even in his mortal state and Anthony knew it would be a matter of years before he'd molt into the kind of man that women lusted for.
"Why are you here?" Pre-Cardinal or not, this boy was still a minor. "Why is Lucian not with you?"
"I would like to help." Angelo's face was set in a determined expression; his chin tilted stubbornly.
Anthony didn't even bother to disagree. He simply grabbed the young man by the arm and started towards the elevator. Now was not the time for arguing.
The feel of solid muscle surprised him but he was impressed nonetheless. So, Lucian had been training the boy. Good.
Or maybe not.
Angelo was resisting him –a feat, considering his mortal strength. "I have to do something! I cannot just sit around Anthony... please!"
Anthony narrowed his eyes, in an attempt to give him the look but the sudden swirls in Angelo's eyes caught him off guard. The clear, aquamarine-ness of his eyes were like a barreling wave that surfers ride on the Hawaiian beaches –so... tranquil yet powerful.
"Just help the other Angels hold the lobby. No one is allowed up the elevators without my clearance. Understood?"
When Anthony left, Angelo stayed rooted in his position; hands flexing to release his tight fist. He was grateful that the Senior Ordinal had not questioned him more for he was not in control of his own temper at the moment.
Lucian had calmly returned to their guest rooms not too long ago, trying his best to explain the situation regarding his arreba, all the while standing there doing nothing! His sister had just left their fucking safe house on a suicide mission and that Light Angel was just relating the information to them like CNN?
Angelo had demanded the Ordinal tend to his sister or he would –and damn right he would if only there wasn't a mob of Angels surrounding the building. Lucian had no hold on him –he wasn't his superior so if he wanted to boss around the others fine, but not him.
He'll fucking hold the lobby as Anthony had instructed.
Because that was all he could do right now. Damn it!
Anthony was hurrying towards the library. He could sense great amounts of power simply radiating from the entire floor. Most of them were Zilarrezko's own signature but underneath it was a mess of confused auras and unresolved hierarchies. In fact there was one particular trace –very faint but Anthony knew someone powerful had been on the library floor not too long ago. The subtle hints of pine and earth gnawed at him. Ignoring the scents, he quickened his step towards his Archangel.
He didn't need to walk far.
Leaning against Marcus was his Archangel; his wings in their vulnerable natural grey.
"Zilarrezko." He hefted one arm around his shoulder, trying to get the Cardinal to his feet. He wasn't going to leave him here with the enemy.
"I'm fine," came the stubborn reply. "I just... where's Aria?"
Marcus gave Anthony a pained look and the Fire Ordinal knew that a new problem had just been added to his basket. Great.
Instead of answering, Anthony tugged on his Cardinal's hand, forcing him to walk out of the room. Turning to Marcus, he ordered, "Bring him to the children's floor. And stay there with them."
"No..." Another stubborn reply. "Anthony, go to the library and speak to Andhera. I just need... a moment."
A crease formed on Anthony's forehead at the strange order coming from his Cardinal. Surely Zilarrezko meant for him to speak to Iluna but in the state that he was in, Anthony assumed that his Cardinal had made a mistake.
Giving a curt nod, Anthony took his leave and started towards the library. He was aware that his Archangel had knowingly sent him alone into a nest of Dark Angels and somehow had a hunch that he would know what to do once he was in their company.
But first, he needed to sort out which was Andhera –a task that wasn't difficult. It wasn't just that she was the only female but because the others had formed a protective barrier around her.
His confusion at the change of hierarchy was cleared the moment he saw Iluna's head cradled on top of Andhera's lap. The legendary starlit wings were nowhere to be seen.
"Archangel Andhera," said Anthony cautiously but with as much respect as he could muster. After all, these were the enemies. But as an Ordinal, he knew his place, especially in the company of a higher ranking Angel.
The pre-Cardinal Andhera was looking at him with wide eyes and trembling lips. He couldn't blame her. Iluna's limp body with absent wings was message enough. The Darkness clan had a new Archangel but she was not ready to take the reign.
"Water Cardinal, it is time," repeated Gaia gently. Her magnificent wings curled forward to wrap around Aria's body. "I have something for you... something that belongs to you."
Irises of black surrounding navy pupils stared unblinking at the Earth Archangel. Gaia simply smiled. She knew those eyes were simply reflecting the calm before the storm for what awaits the Water Cardinal could possibly push her mind and body into an irreversible chasm.
Unfolding her palm, Gaia showed Aria the tri-colored feather.
"No!" Aria pushed her hand away, causing the feather to fall onto the grass.
Aria found her arms gripped painfully tight by the Earth Angel before a palm struck her hard across her cheek.
"You will not disrespect a gift from an Archangel!"
Aria's eyes widened; her pupils disappearing completely, swallowed by the black and blue chaos in her eyes –such latent power simmering beneath the surface. But Gaia seemed unaffected. She picked up the feather with the intention of forcing Aria to hold it when she noticed that the Water Cardinal was gone.
"Aria Ayn," she called out to the seemingly empty space before her. The Water Cardinal's Illusion was superb –not a single sound, smell nor sight of her was evident but Gaia had sensed the pounding of Aria's heart through the solid ground and air particles between them.
Folding her arms across her chest, Gaia whispered nonchalantly, "You wanted to know what the Limits are... what my Limits are."
The air cracked immediately like it was whipped by a leash as Aria materialized in front of the Earth Cardinal. The Water Cardinal was literally a walking storm –her hair billowing upwards; the black and blue strands twirling reflections of the chaos in her eyes.
A look –pride or perhaps it was surprise –warmed up the Earth Cardinal's face. Instead of giving Aria any answers, she merely tilted her head back and laughed. "I know you know what I want you to do," she said, offering the feather once more to Aria.
The Water Cardinal narrowed her eyes at the Archangel. For all the knowledge and power that she possessed, Gaia had been human for far too long not to harbor hatred towards the very immortality that she sought for millennia. There had to be a reason why she'd chosen to exercise those Limits –whatever they were- to keep her alive until now.
And Aria had been an Ayn long enough to know that the winged creatures only saw her kind as servants to do their bidding. This was no different. The promise of immortality, of status and power of an Archangel was just another way of doubling the price for an assignment.
From a distance, Aria could still make out the seamless weave of gold, silver and bronze from the feather; the possession of the first Metal Archangel Sona –another powerful Archangel whose powers were beyond her comprehension or emulation. And even she had faced death. What made Gaia think that she wouldn't face the same fate?
"Tell me how you've escaped death all this while Gaia." Aria made no show to cover her tone of command. If Gaia thought herself as more powerful, then Aria simply had to remind her indirectly that if she was that powerful, she wouldn't still be standing here, wanting something from her.
And Gaia wanted something –except that Aria couldn't figure out what yet.
"You will understand once you take the feather," was her terse reply.
Aria wanted to protest but something punched through to her mind, almost as if Gaia was forcing the thought into her mind – You will not disrespect a gift from an Archangel.
A gift –
Not from Gaia or Sona but from Zilarrezko. He had given it to her. It was his gift, his way of sharing his immortal life with her. How could she not have seen it when it was right in front of her all along?
And yet he never forced her, never even told her what that feather was capable of. Instead he took her family in and was about to sacrifice his wings and go to war for her, so that she could choose to keep her mortality. So that she could choose.
To stop the flow threatening to reveal itself, Aria closed her eyes tight as she took the feather from Gaia's outstretched palm and pressed it to the middle of her chest.
"Thank you for this gift." Yet her words never made it past her lips.
The bout of nausea hit her first; her olfactory going amok as it bombarded her with scent after scent of salt, mud, rain, snow and what the hell... clouds? Each odor was met with vivid taste and tactile stimulation that allowed her to know what she was feeling even before she could see it.
Clouds –soft, whispery water droplets suspended in mid-air; bland to her tongue but her nose reveled in it. It smelled like morning dew and sex –lots and lots of it. The indecent pleasure flowed through her body, rumbling at her abdomen like a washing machine on full load before concentrating on two sensitive lumps on her back.
It felt like losing one's virginity –the pleasure pain of the penetration –except that she could feel something pushing past her bones, her skin...
She sensed it before she saw it –her wings. The instinct to stretch was like an infant learning to clench his fist for the first time. Aria was still feeling the full blown assault of heightened senses; aware that she could fall on her face if she wasn't careful. But her attention was drawn to the feathers her body had somehow produced: the sheer height and beauty of midnight –no, of seabed-darkness, with every feather edge tipped in glowing blue paint.
The exhilaration made her sick; a need to throw up violently caused her to fall on her knees, hands pressed on the ground. She needed something... so... parched.
The light vibrations beneath her palm irked her but the sudden rush of underground water seeping through her fingertips was a welcomed respite –not just for her but for the tiny hydrogen-oxide molecules as well. It was like they were waiting for each other; the need to commune so great in both of them that she could feel the excitement of the liquid nourishing her, lifting her back on her feet...
Her magnificent wings were gone.
But in it's place was –Aria had no idea how to describe it –but it was as if time had slowed down to the precise moment just as a water droplet starts to dip and splash to form a ripple; the pearlescent nature, capturing and reflecting Light so perfectly.
It was then she understood what she had become.
Aria, no longer of the Ayn, was now an Immortal Water Cardinal.
Miles away, cruising past South Africa; the Snow-Water Ordinal Chióni felt the first tremors that had nothing to do with the sea turbulences.
All around her, the other Snow-Water Angels were blanking out and Chióni's first instinct was to head to the command centre to ascertain Yuki's welfare. But the Senior Ordinal barely made five steps when she collapsed on the floor; a searing knife-like cut parting her insides, like her spinal cord was ripped out off her body –severing her Ordinal bond with Yuki.
Chióni managed to utter one last cry of warning before she was taken over by the comforting depth of darkness.
Deep below the water, in her submarine, Yuki was furious. Her Angels were dropping down one by one like they were infected by some unknown disease and her chain of command was now broken –in more than one way.
She was still strong enough to resist the resonance caused by the redistribution of power and loyalty within the clan. Yuki knew the cause and she hated it with a venomous fervor.
To hell with it.
She wanted to blow up something now!
Recalibrating the fleet's destination, she changed their course westwards –towards Noor. Yuki wasn't going to be picky this time. She was going out for the kill and if happened to be the Light Archangel then too bad.
Maybe then this... Aria would surrender.
Across the Atlantic, another Archangel was also making his way into Noor's territory. Archangel Cyrus, accompanied by his youngest Ordinal, Brenna, made the journey in less than an hour. Zilarrezko might think him a bastard for not wanting to join the war effort but Cyrus wasn't simply standing back to watch.
Things had changed. Earth Angels were sprouting from every region of his territory, demanding answers, wanting protection. Cyrus didn't have a choice. To his East was Yuki's territory and he knew she would rather crush him under her feet than listen to him. To the West was Zilarrezko and Iluna –second generation Archangels like himself. They wouldn't be able to answer the questions he had and seeing that Gaia herself was missing, Cyrus could only turn southwards to Noor –the oldest surviving Matriarch.
As he flew into Noor's territory, Cyrus could see for himself the chaos that was also plaguing the Light Archangel. Valkyries and Light Angels were trying to pacify the newly turned immortals but the sheer numbers of Earth Angels were overwhelming the peace-keeping force.
Cyrus titled his smoldering wings slightly to prepare for descend on the Skybridge. The usually quiet and deserted courtyard was now guarded by various Light Angels –who were no doubt trying to stop any Earth Angels who managed to fly up into the open space. It was just a precaution for most of them were crowded at the two ground level points of the building.
It was anarchy. Flocks of green, brown and clay surrounded the two ends of the Skybridge, demanding entrance. It was only a matter of time before they learnt to control the foundations of the building in the soil and topple it down.
They were running out of time. Flapping his wings in a controlled manner, Archangel Cyrus landed on the Skybridge courtyard.
"Cardinal! We... we weren't expecting you!" said a flustered Light Angel who was running to greet him. Cyrus noted the rank of the Angel tattooed on her arm. She was a guard.
"I do not need license to be here. Bring me to the Light Cardinal."
The guard Angel tried to stop him, blabbering about the crowd control and amount of stress that Noor was facing but Cyrus kept on walking with Brenna behind him. Noor might be busy but unlike the other Archangels, she was the only one who preferred to greet her guests personally.
He could already sense her presence.
He gave a curt nod in acknowledgement of Noor's welcome. "Lovely as always."
Slightly shorter than him, Noor raised her gaze to meet his. She wasn't saying anything but Cyrus could already feel her reaching for the answers she needed. Such was the affinity between the Light and Fire clans that one could take on the form of the other.