Chapter 15 – 3

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Chapter 15 – 3

 

Chapter 15

 

LEA

– Keter. - Path of Pe.
The Overthrow of the Salve-Gods by The Beast 666.1

 

“Worse than the chains that bind me, or than the pain brought upon by the claws that imprison my heart,
is the inconsistence of the ground under my feet, of the air that surrounds me, of the world that I touch.
Because every time I allow myself to accept this thundering storm,
everything changes once again, blinding me and hiding my path,
making me drown ever more towards the inevitability
that is the condemnation of my entire being.”

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3

I woke up with what sounded like a loud, metallic blast that left me sitting up, eyes wide open, in less than a second. The silence that ensued allowed me to half relax, and I looked around my room, hardly remembering how I’d gotten there.

The window blinds were still open, the lamp on my desk still on. Through the window I could see it was night time and I immediately looked for the alarm clock — three in the morning.

I took a deep breath, running a hand across my face. At least I was feeling better. My head didn’t hurt anymore, and my thoughts were clear and objective again.

Thinking I’d probably dreamed that loud noise, I slid from my bed and got up, deciding I should probably get changed before going back to sleep. I took off my boots, and my all too frilly skirt, and was about to put on my pajama pants when a new blast reverberated through the walls, making the ground beneath my feet shake. I clung tightly to my bed, too startled to even breathe and, this time around, the post-blast silence didn’t last so long. I cringed as the floor under my feet shook yet again, as if a cannon ball had been fired against the house, and the windows vibrated, threatening to shatter.

I dashed out of my room without a thought, almost falling down the stairs, having to stop midway to allow another quake to pass.

“Lea!” I called, stumbling the rest of the way, and went straight for the living room, certain that something was definitely wrong and that that couldn’t be an ordinary earthquake.

Gabriel’s menacing presence filled the air, making it heavy and hard to breathe. But, as I stumbled inside the room, I couldn’t find anyone

“Lea!” I called again, looking around urgently, making sure my eyes touched every dark corner, but nothing. “What’s going on?”

I spun on my heels, quickly thinking to look in the kitchen, and darted towards the door. I’d just reached it when a new blast, this time coming from somewhere much closer, made me stagger, and I had to cling to the door frame to stop myself from falling. I turned back immediately, certain that the sound had come from there, and the ground shook again, the glass of the windows and cupboards shattering into small pieces. The air screeched, making my hair stand on edge, reminding me of the night I’d unknowingly evoked a real demon, and became so heavy that I had to pant in order to get some oxygen all the way to my lungs. A cold, sharp wind filled the room, breaking the table in pieces, effortlessly launching chairs and other objects through the air, smashing them against the walls. I crouched near the doorway, covering my head with my arms, afraid I might end up crushed under something or dragged through the air like my couch. A new deafening sound made me recoil instinctively, the sound of the walls cracking filling my ears and then, suddenly, silence.

It took me a few seconds to realize I’d survived, that I was still breathing, although I already suffered from the symptoms that indicated Gabriel’s presence. Fearing what might await me, I untangled my arms and slowly raised my head, and was promptly frozen in place.

Black, soft feathers floated lazily through the air, slowly falling everywhere. Not knowing exactly what I was staring at, I saw Gabriel standing in the middle of the wreckage that was all that was left of my living room. He held something long in one of his pale hands that looked very much like a spear. As my gaze followed the black handle from which dark ribbons softly dangled, I noticed the menacing blade, shaped like a crescent moon. Its shiny silver point was firmly pressed against someone else’s neck, and his cold smile sent shivers down my spine. Panicking, I understood that the other presence I could feel belonged to the one he was now threatening, and I quickly ran my urgent, frightened eyes over him.

The first thing I immediately noticed were the intruder’s long, black feathered wings that closed against his body, reaching knee length. He wore a white shirt left open over his chest, and his dark-red hair was short, except for the bangs that fell over his forehead and down his face, partially covering his right eye. I also noticed the bright golden sword he held, so bright that it almost looked like it emitted a light of its own. And I nervously squeezed my hands together when I saw that the tip of the blade was pointing directly at the chest of a much younger boy.

Completely naked, the youth stood with his back to me, his tousled black hair reaching the base of his neck. He was tall, but lean and, due to his frail appearance, I wouldn’t have given him more than fifteen years. He held his slender arm stretched at his side, his skin as pale as Gabriel’s, the muscles thin but well toned. His hand, however, was hardly Human, his fingers ending in sharp, long claws that he kept pressed against another boy’s chest.

Much shorter than the other three, with fair hair, his green eyes kept staring blankly into nothingness. Contrary to the rest, he didn’t even seem to have noticed the sharp claws that threatened his life, his expression empty and distant.

“What are you doing here?” His whisper, always so clear to me, broke my stunned contemplation of the picture before my eyes and my gaze ran back to him, to his hard, marble face. That question had sounded more like a threat, and the air around us became heavier with his menacing presence, making my heart beat wildly, in spite of the distance between us.

“Tell your cat to retract his claws,” the one with the black wings demanded and only then did it occur to me; if not for the black color of his wings, he would have looked like an angel, straight from the mythical images that so frequently appeared in religious books and churches.

“What are you doing here?”

I shuddered when he raised his voice, repeating the question a word at a time, but the black angel stood unwavering, even though Gabriel’s spear threatened to cut his throat with the slightest movement of his pale hand.

“Your cat!”

The unmoving statue turned towards the naked boy and I clung harder to the doorjamb as I noticed the red glow in his dark eyes. Over time I’d learned that when his eyes took on that color it usually meant that he was furious, and that I should keep my distance for as long as possible.

“Suileabhan!” His voice, even murmured, echoed all over the room just like when he called me by my name. And all it took was that one word. The naked youth lowered his arm obediently, releasing the other boy from his dangerous claws. The black angel smiled, apparently more at ease, and also lowered his sword.

“Much better. And is this any way to welcome me, Izrail?” The word echoed in my mind. Was that his real name? I saw him clench his teeth, his face pure, hard stone, and he held his blade even closer to the black angel’s throat.

“It’s the last time I ask you. What are you doing here?” he demanded one more time, his eyes burning with that frightening red glow, and I couldn’t help wonder how the black angel was able to face that terrifying look without even flinching.

“I understand that, right now, you don’t trust anyone. It’s what I call good sense. But really! Just think for a moment. Certainly you do not believe I would have brought Jonathan with me, had I come to kill you.”

He seemed to consider that for an instant, and then stepped back, pieces of wood cracking under his feet, as he slightly lowered his spear, although he made sure to keep it at an angle from where he could quickly raise it if needed.

The black angel smiled again, making his sword disappear in a beautiful rain of bright small particles. Seeming amused, he looked around him appreciatively, and I noticed for the first time that his eyes were also dark-red, almost black, perfectly matching the color of his hair. He too, seemed to notice me, which made me recoil against the door frame and, with a wide smile, he took a step in my direction.

“And what’s this? I thought you had decided against the use of Mediums!” he stated, sounding intrigued, almost as if he were seeing something rare, and his path was immediately cut off by the naked boy with the black hair, who promptly stood in his way.

“Stay where you are,” Gabriel commanded in that indifferent tone that still wouldn’t allow disobedience. And, for once, the black angel seemed to rethink his path, deciding to do as he’d been told. “Lea, take her upstairs and then check the barrier. And change shapes. You know what will happen if you don’t.” The words flew from his perfect mouth in a straightforward way, and the boy, who’d moved to stand between me and the black angel, obeyed him immediately.

I raised my head to look up at him, my heart beating too fast against my chest, and was faced with two silver eyes that gently smiled at me. It was impossible not to recognize him, although he now looked much older. His red collar with its golden bell still surrounded his neck.

Bending over, Lea held me by the arms and lifted me from the ground. I tried to stand on my trembling legs and allowed his big, warm hands to lead me out of the room.

I made him stop by the stairs and had to look up to face his much taller stature. His young face was breathtaking, maybe even more beautiful than Gabriel’s, and I felt lost, for a moment. But then he looked away, his perfect face twitching into a grimace, and I could easily recognize him once again.

“Lea.”

“I’m really sorry Mari, for all of this, but everything is going to be all right,” he assured me, forcing a smile, and his deep, warm voice made my heart skip a beat.

“It’s really you,” I mused, still trying to accept it, and his pale skin blushed lightly as he became aware of his appearance.

“Yes, but I’ll change in a minute, as soon as I help you up the stairs.”

“I didn’t know you could ... grow like this.”

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, lowering his head, his tussled hair sliding over his forehead in soft, wavy strands.

“I’m fine,” I said, even though I wasn’t all that sure, and he gave me a worried look. “Really, I’m fine,” I repeated, trying to reassure him, and stole a fleeting gaze towards the opened door. “That one ... he’s a Mazzikin, isn’t he?” He nodded and I tried to sort out my thoughts. “Did he come ... to kill him?” My voice faltered, the words burning my throat.

“I don’t think so. We kind of know him, more or less,” he said in an attempt to erase my fears. I nodded for his benefit.

“You can go. You have other things to do, right? I’ll be fine, really,” I insisted, stepping away from his reach, showing him I could stand without his help.

“You sure?”

“Yes. Don’t worry. I’ll just go upstairs and try to get some sleep. I’ll sort out the rest tomorrow. And you have that barrier to check.”

Lea nodded, agreeing with my plan.

“You’ll really be okay?”

“I will.”

“Then I’ll be back in a minute!” I nodded once again, making myself smile up at him, knowing how much that expression left him more at ease, and his lean body started to glow, diminishing in size until he was nothing but a small, black ball of fur.

The kitten gave me one last look, as if to make sure I was still standing, and then nimbly jumped and ran towards the kitchen, the soft chime of his bell echoing in the distance, until it was suddenly gone.

Silence surrounded me and I climbed the first few steps. Maybe if I could reach my room and sleep away the rest of the night, everything would be back to normal when morning came. That way I could easily explain what I’d just seen as a very strange, very real nightmare and, once I woke up, I could go to school as if nothing had happened.

However, the cracking sound of wooden pieces and the distant murmur of voices made me look back.

There I was, trying to run away from reality yet again. As if doing so would solve anything! The truth was that my living room had been completely destroyed. And that, even if tomorrow everything were to be back to its original place, as had happened with my bedroom, nothing could change what had really happened.

So I went back down, leaning against the wall for support, flattening my body against it by the door, as I tried to listen to what was going on inside.

I heard what sounded like footsteps over shattered glass and dared lean forward to take a peek.

“You still haven’t told me what you’re doing here,” Gabriel was insisting, following the black angel with his burning gaze as he curiously strolled around the destroyed room, apparently unconcerned.

“Isn’t that what I should be asking you? Have you lost your mind? Or have you suddenly been overcome by an imminent death wish?” the angel asked, the irony heavy in his voice, and Gabriel’s burning gaze glowed bright red.

“Do not test my patience, Sigweardiel.”

Even I shuddered at the way he said that name, and the black angel froze, his face suddenly livid.

“Why do you think I came? To warn you, of course! I’m not crazy enough to break through your barrier without having a good reason. But honestly, Izrail! What were you thinking? Staying in the same place for so long! I’ve been watching over the limits of this protection of yours for over a week! And then, as if this weren’t enough, you just happily go for a walk outside? It was just a matter of time!”

Gabriel looked even less pleased with this news than he had been with this stranger’s sudden intrusion.

“Who?”

“Your younger Brother. I followed him from the coast of Africa. In the beginning he was alone, but as it turned out, he met someone on this side of the ocean. I don’t really know who. You have to get out of here as soon as possible!”

Gabriel finally seemed to think it was safe to get rid of his evil-looking weapon, and the spear unexpectedly crumbled, transforming into soft, black ash that lazily floated towards the ground.

“I can’t,” he simply replied and the black angel stared back at him.

“You can’t? What do you mean, you can’t?”

“I can’t!” he reaffirmed, giving it a final tone, and the black angel seemed to ponder for a moment.

“Is it because of that Human?” he finally guessed, although his skeptic tone said he didn’t believe it for a second, and his dark eyes grew wide as minutes went by and there was no answer. “I see. Well, if she’s your Medium, just bring her with you!” My heart jumped, certain that I’d just become the subject of their conversation.

“She is not my Medium! I refuse to use something like Mediums,” he calmly stated, seeming immune to the urgency sprawled all over the Mazzikin’s face.

“And? Even if she isn’t! If she’s the one keeping you here, just bring her along!”

“I accepted a Contract. I can’t leave.”

The room was deadly silent for a long moment and I found myself holding my breath, fearing I might have been discovered.

“A Contract! You’re joking! Right? You? The one who never wants to have anything to do with the Humans? And now of all times! You can’t be serious!”

“That’s exactly how it is. She is the one who broke the Seal,” he explained to justify the Contract binding us together, and the black angel seemed deeply displeased.

“That much I gathered! You think I didn’t see it? I used to be an Iaidon, Izrail! And I still haven’t lost my sight! Unlike you, who needs proofs like those, all I have to do is look,” he added, pointing Gabriel’s pale hand, and he turned it to look at it, the red burns still marking his pale skin. “As I see it, she shines enough to light up the entire room! That’s why I thought you had made her your Medium. Which, let’s admit, would be the smartest thing to do in your current situation. But no! Oh no! You went and accepted a Contract! Why? If you could just have taken whatever you wanted, as soon as you realized what she is, and be done with it?”

Gabriel averted his gaze and my heart almost stopped. That was the question I had tried to ask him so many times and that he’d always refused to reply. The same that Lea had always awkwardly told me he had no authorization to talk about. The real reason behind that Contract, and what exactly he wanted from me.

“Now that I think about it, this is all your fault,” Gabriel told him and the black angel seemed speechless.

“My fault?”

“Because you’re always going about how different they are. And, although I listened to your babbling, I could never really understand it. So, when I realized what she is, I just didn’t want to destroy her.”

I placed a hand over my chest, trying to calm down my raving heartbeat. Had it all been for something as simple as that? For mere curiosity about what I was? Because I was somehow ... different?

“Izrail!” Exasperation filled the black angel’s voice and I took another peek inside. “Just break that damn Contract, take whatever you want, and get out of here! What do you expect from her?”

“You really want me to do that? Because I’m not expecting anything! What could I possibly expect from a Soul that shatters into pieces just from standing next to me?” Bitterness filled his velvet voice, reminding me of my last failure, and I felt sick, although I finally knew the answer to my question about how he felt as he sat there, day after day, watching me struggle against myself and, inevitably, fail.

The room was silent once again and then the black angel released a deep sigh, leaning against what was left of a couch.

“I see,” he muttered, running a hand across his own face, looking suddenly too tired. “No matter what I say, you will not do it, right?” Once again, silence was the only reply he got. “And what about her Merifri? What have you done with him? Surely someone like her has a Guardian, and no Guardian I know would idly stand by and allow a Deiwos such as yourself to get this close to her.”

My heart jumped at that. A Merifri? I should have a Merifri? The word Guardian tumbled in my head, which meant someone to keep me safe! Someone who should have protected me from ... him.

“I didn’t do anything. He’s asleep. He was already asleep when she freed me. I guess he wouldn’t have allowed her to complete the ritual, if he wasn’t,” he answered, but still the Mazzikin seemed suspicious.

“Another Deiwos?”

“Honestly? It would seem that it was of his own accord. Even with my presence so close by, he has yet to awake. I could almost bet he wishes to remain asleep.”

I clenched the sweater over my chest. It was like listening to some amazing tale and I could hardly make myself believe they were talking about me.

“What did I say, Izrail? About the power that beings like her hold. And she’s even brighter than Jonathan! I can't even imagine what she’s still doing here!”

I looked over at the other boy, who by now I’d come to understand was called Jonathan. He stood exactly in the same place as before, the same posture, the same expression, the same vacant eyes. His honey-like hair was lightly waved, framing a young but inexpressive face. His brown eyes stared into nothingness, almost as if he’d fallen asleep where he stood with his eyes opened.

“You know you’ll never get what you truly want, right?” the black angel told him and Gabriel averted his gaze. It was the first time I saw him react like that, listening to what someone else had to say without false smiles, indifferent expressions or threatening glares. That black winged angel seemed to have the ability to know what he was thinking and his words weighed on him. “Well, anyway, I gather that, no matter what I say, you won’t be leaving here any time soon, right? So we’ll stay ... and help,” he announced, now smiling unconcerned, and Gabriel stared back at him, this time with a silent threat in his eyes.

“I don’t need your help! Lea is enough!”

“Nonsense! That’s exactly why they Sealed you the last time. Or am I wrong?” he asked, sarcasm leaking out of his words, and Gabriel’s eyes glowed bright red. “Besides, I’m not doing you any favors. You know perfectly well I want to be a part of this war as much as you do. During the time you were away, stuck who knows where, many have been erased and those who remain are all pretty much from your caste. And I still can’t die!” Although his face was still smiling, his tone was the most serious I’d heard him use the whole night.

“You want me to protect you.”

“But of course! If we are to make an alliance, that’s to be expected. Above all, I expect you to protect Jonathan.”

Gabriel looked at the boy, still motionless like a real life-size doll, and sighed.

“We’ll talk about that another time, once we got rid of my stupid Brother,” he conceded and, although it had been far from a promise, the black angel seemed content with the way things had been solved. He stood from the broken coach where he had been half sitting and walked over to the boy, gently placing his hands over his shoulders as if he were afraid to break him.

“Jonathan?” he called, as softly as his voice would allow, and, almost as if he’d said a magic word, the boy’s body stirred back to life and I saw him move. Suddenly I had the feeling he could also see me, that he was staring right at me, and pulled myself upright once more, flattening my back against the wall, completely out of sight. “Come. Sit here. I’m sure you’re tired.” I still heard him say and the sound of slow footsteps over the ruble that had been my living room’s furniture made me jumpy.

Looking around, fearing my unwanted presence might be discovered, I silently ran to the stairs. I didn’t want to have to face any of them that night.

I stormed into my bedroom and it was as if I’d entered another world. In there nothing had changed, everything was exactly as I’d left them. The lamp on the desk turned on. My bed half unmade. I remembered I’d been about to get changed and went on from that point, as if nothing in between had actually happened, refusing to acknowledge that my alarm clock would ring in just an hour or so. I turned off the light and slid under my quilt, but, even surrounded by darkness, my eyes remained wide open. In truth, that day, everything had changed. I had changed, and I’d never be the same again.

 

 

 

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