Just as we pulled into the San Francisco airport, Angel asked about passports and the visa to Thailand. Having explained that a friend would be giving us the passports at the entrance I picked up the bags from the trunk.
“Ralf how did you get my passport?”
“Gretchen” and it was enough for her to understand that all the travel arrangements and minor details have been taken care of and her shy smile was the best gift I got since yesterday’s events.
Entering the international departures we checked-in our bags and collected boarding passes. Before going to security check Angel bought few books at borders and few essentials for herself. Uriel and I were getting impatient and it was evidently visible because looking at our faces just before boarding Angel said “Who would expect two angels who play in the air are scared to fly in airplane.”
“Well when we play in the air, we are in control of our flight but now we are dependent on this tin box and the mood of the pilot” said Uriel shuddering at the thought.
Laughing at us Angel handed her boarding pass to the air hostess knowing well we were right behind. Once we settled in our seats in the first class, me next to Angel. She said “ I was never sure if I would ever go out of this country but now I am travelling for the first time to one of the beautiful beaches and that to in first class. Impressed Mr. Ralf”
I looked at her to know if she was teasing but the joy on her face as she looked out while the flight took off was contagious and brought a smile to my face too.
“You know buddy, love suits you.” Uriel sent his thoughts to me.
“I do not know if its love, but I know that I would do anything for Angel. She brings out fierce protectiveness in me.” I replied back my thoughts and closed my eyes to rest until we reached our destination.
All our lives it had always been Aunt Gretchen and me, but now dad had returned and I would be meeting my mom soon. I couldn’t have asked for more. And then there is Ralf, he is confusing me. One minute I see him looking at me and the next he is all business and behaves as if I don’t matter.
Right now he was sleeping next to me in his seat and this closeness was playing havoc with my senses. As I looked at his handsome face I could see faint worry lines around his eyes. Poor thing had been saving my life since he came to Shelter Cove and I didn’t know how to thank him. Probably I should bake my special lemon cake I thought smiling to myself. Looking at him I slept dreaming of the beautiful place we were going to.
I got up to faint warm breath across my neck only to find Angel sleeping with her head on my shoulder. Not wanting to disturb her I sat without moving hoping we had met under different circumstances. I would do anything just to have one silent evening with her to sit and talk about her, about her likes and dislikes. Her favorite color, food, song or if she liked walks along the beach or candlelight dinner. I wanted to know everything about her and prayed we could get that time together soon.
Just as captain announced the arrival of Phuket, Angel stirred from her sleep and looked embarrassed. The deep red color on her cheeks suited her.
“I am sorry. You should have waked me up.”
“I am not sorry. You looked very tired and I didn’t wish to disturb you. No harm done.”
Smiling at me she sat up straight and pulled her hair in a ponytail and buckled the seat belt as the flight descended for landing. Standing in line to pick up bags I hoped we could reach Phang Nga Bay before afternoon so that we could enjoy some decent meal and take a ride to Koh Maak before sunset.
Grabbing a cab we headed to Phang Nga Bay and found Neal’s restaurant ‘Mini America’. Spotting us Neal came forward and shook hands with me and Uriel.
“And who is this beautiful darling with you two jerks?”said Neal taking Angel’s hand in his.
Stopping my jealous trait I introduced Angel and we walked into private lunch room of Neal. The best part of coming here is you can get real American food and the tasty spicy Thai food all under the same roof. Ordering steak for ourselves and salad for Angel we discussed about the condition in Asia. Neal was part of our guardians group and the only non-winged member. He informed us there were spotting of black-ones in the north region of India and China. The spotting was unexpected and guardians were not able to reach in time before they kidnapped two girls. He also informed that in past two years about thirty girls had gone missing under mysterious circumstances. The news was disturbing and I wanted to take Angel far away from all this and keep her safe.
“That is so sad. Why hasn’t anyone gone to find the girls?” asked Angel
“For one, no one knows where they took them and the next it is very weird because the black-ones are able to mask their energy and the minions too. Azrael was here two days ago. He is gone hunting” Said Neal.
Whistling Uriel said “Hunting. Azrael seems to be getting good action. I should join him soon.”
“Well you can do that once we finish our business at Empyrean.” I reminded Uriel
Finishing lunch we walked towards the wharf and hired an inflatable boat. Angel sat in the middle, I took up the back and Uriel took the front and we paddled to a hong about five miles northwest to the coast.
I was mesmerized by the beauty of Thailand. The minute we reached Phang Nga Bay it felt as if I was transported to a different world. Shelter Cove was my getaway and I loved it but this place was something altogether. Everywhere I looked I could see the beauty of the nature in its lush green trees and the white sand beach was like beckoning me to remove my shoes and sink my feet into its moist.
Neal was a very strange person I thought when introduced. The way he saw me like a bug under a microscope and very watchful when I entered the restaurant had put me on edge initially. Once introductions were done Neal seemed to relax but once he started talking about the missing girls I became nervous and felt bad for all those girls who were never found. I wished I could somehow help at least one of them.
The mood had changed from pleasant to somber. Ralf hired a boat for us to travel to hong. My guide on Thailand came in handy to find out exactly was ‘hong’. Hongs meant rooms in thai and are collapsed caves open to the sky that lie hidden inside the tall limestone walls on the islands. Once the boat was ready Ralf and Uriel helped to put the bags in the center before Ralf helped me onto the boat. Settling for an hour ride I clicked some pictures of the beautiful limestone structures along the way. The nature was very generous in lending this place the beauty unfound anywhere else I had ever been and I couldn’t help but enjoy it.
The ride was pleasant and the beautiful scenes took my mind of the sea sickness and the peppermints Ralf insisted on purchasing also helped. After about an hour drive a small island appeared and we took the boat around to find a small cave entrance just big enough for a small boat. As we steered in, the cave slowly opened up shedding the afternoon sunlight dancing in cascades from between the trees all along the walls formed by limestone. At far across I saw a small beach and then Ralf got off the boat and pulled it onto the beach. Uriel helped me out before picking the bags and putting them on the ground away from the waves.
“So now what?” I asked looking at both the big Archangels busy setting up camp.
“Now, we wait?” Ralf said not looking from his work.
“Wait? Wait for what?”
“Wait for the portal to open” replied Uriel
“Portal?” I asked confused
“It is the doorway to Empyrean. You see that small arch at the end of the beach on your right?”
“The arch made of those beautiful pink flowers?”
“Yes, the same one. They actually are camouflaging a small cave which is the entrance. Once the portal opens you walk through the cave and reach Empyrean.”
“Wow this is so cool. But a little doubt, you are archangels and have magic so why not just go poof and reach where you want to go” I said excited
“Go poof” Uriel said and started laughing and turning towards Ralf “I like her buddy, I would love to go poof especially when Daniel is around”
“Ya man, you would love that but Daniel is more powerful in making you go poof” saying Ralf smiled and winked at me.
“Guys, what is so funny? I do not know how you guys work or what it is exactly you do or until few days ago I didn’t even know you existed and who is this Daniel” I said pacing along the beach.
I couldn’t stop smiling when she was agitated asking about us throwing her hands in the air. She looked very beautiful and all I could think was about holding her in my arms. Then someone hit me on hand and I turned to confront only to find Uriel grinning from ear to ear looking at me and Angel and he sent his thoughts “Buddy, you lost in dreams about the sweet girl here?”
“Knock it off Uriel.” I sent my thoughts and walked towards Angel and stopped her from pacing and sat down on the beach along with her to explain as much as I could.
“Empyrean is a very old civilization which came into existence when there was conflict between humans and the guardians. For benefit of humans we made our existence a myth and as time went by all but few people forgot all about our coexistence. I believe it was for the best.”
“So once you moved to Empyrean why come back?”
“You see we are known as the guardians for a reason. Luther and his troop had spread so much devastation on the earth and we had to find them before they could hurt more. Few centuries ago a major war took place and my great grandfather managed to send Luther into underground. Until I saw Bune few days ago I believed Luther was gone forever but now I feel someone managed to set him free. But we do not know how or why?”
“But we are going to find out soon. And once I get my hands on the one who orchestrated this they will face my wrath” Said Uriel full of menace.
Angel fell silent looking at the violence in Uriel’s eyes and shivered. I pulled her closer to me and held her, telling Uriel my thoughts to control his anger and his outburst in front of Angel. Listening to me he fell silent and walked away from us towards the cave to check for energy.
“You know I never thanked you for saving my life again.” Angel said looking at me.
“Angel you do not have to thank me. I am just sorry I couldn’t save you from having to face those situations.” I said
“Do not be sorry. I am just glad to be here with you and to have found my dad.”
Looking at her beautiful face I just wished I could kiss her but this was not a place or time for fantasies. Getting up from her side I walked away from the temptation she was and asked Uriel if he could feel any energy around the cave. Finding none we walked back to the camp we set up to wait for the portal to open.