As I watched Ralf and Uriel set up camp fire for the night, I remembered the time I saw Ralf at the church. It was like a lightning had struck me and I could see the beautiful colors of nature in a different light. But since then we had been facing new problem everyday and never had a chance to actually know each other. Watching Ralf I wished I had the courage to walk up to him and talk about this attraction. I wanted to know if it was only me or if Ralf too has feelings for me. Few minutes later I slid out of the tent and walked towards Ralf not knowing what I would say to him. Before I could say anything Ralf said “Angel, I know this entire journey has been tiring on you. I suggest you to eat dinner and rest. Uriel and I will keep watch for the portal and the black-ones.”
“Will black-ones come here too?” I asked praying they wouldn’t find us so soon.
“We hope not but we need to be careful.” Said Ralf offering me a plate filled with tropical fruits and cold turkey sandwich.
“Thank you. I didn’t know you had time to pack dinner?”
“Not me. Neal had packed few cold sandwiches along with water. Fruits were Uriel’s hunting in and around the hong.”
Thanking both I sat on the log set across the camp fire and enjoyed the cool breeze coming from the ocean taking small bites of fruits.
Uriel and I had set up the temporary camp of single tent for Angel and started a camp fire to keep the chill away. I felt her look at me and I turned to find her looking away embarrassed at being caught staring. Taking a plate I served dinner for her and walked towards to the tent to find her walking to me. Her eyes held questions and she was biting her lower lip as if stopping herself from asking something. But she didn’t know her eyes expressed all her questions. These feelings and attraction we felt towards each other. I didn’t have answers for her and I had no idea how to explain to her that she was my mate for life. Will she accept me as her mate knowing what I had done in my past? Things I was not so proud of. Not having courage to face her I placed the dinner plate in her hand and explained the night watch duty. She took the plate and sat comfortably eating her dinner. The breeze lifted her black shiny hair away from her face and the moonlight gave her a pixy appearance. A fairy lost in her thoughts and I wanted to know what was running through her pretty mind.
Few minutes later Angel settled in for the night in the tent and Uriel next to camp fire in the only sleeping bag we had managed to pack. Taking up my watch next to tent I sent out a mild energy to sense any presence of black-ones. Finding none I walked to the cave and checked for changes in its energy. Finding no change I walked back towards the camp and sat on the log praying for courage to tell my true feelings to my sweet Angel and to keep her safe.
Towards the early morning Uriel took over watch and I would have hardly shut eyes for fifteen minutes when I felt Uriel saying that the portal was opening. Immediately running towards it I saw in fact it was opening and we had ten minutes before it would be fully active for us to travel through. Returning to camp we gathered our belongings and woke Angel informing her it was time to leave.
Waiting for the portal to be fully active was the wait I would rather have forgone with. Angel looked nervous and stood just behind me her eyes going big when the portal changed its color from glass blue to form a transparent layer. Uriel walked ahead first and I encouraged Angel to walk through.
The bright blue light sizzling electricity with which the barrier opened had me fearing and I didn’t want to go near it let alone walk through it, but Ralf and Uriel encouraged me. As Uriel walked over I let out small scream not recognizing my voice. Worried Ralf held me closer telling me to take my time and said “It will not harm you. It may look intense but it is not.”
“Ralf” I said in a small voice due to fear.
“Yes, Angel?” said Ralf looking my face
“Will I be electrocuted with all that electricity I see?” staring at the opening and hoping it will close and I will not have to walk through it.
“What? No no. It won’t.” said Ralf hiding his laughter behind a cough when I turned sharply and looked at him for laughing.
“It must be funny for you but it not for me. Ok. You should be thanking me for being the joker to amuse you.” Saying I took a deep breath. Holding on to Ralf’s hand tightly such that nails dug into his skin, but he didn’t say anything but held me protectively.
“Ok, big guy let’s do this. What should I do? Just walk through it?” I asked looking at the light praying it will not burn me.
Even after he assured me I couldn’t move forward and then suddenly I felt Ralf lifting me up with his one hand around my waist and other below my knees “Am sorry but the portal is changing its energy and will be closing soon.” Fearing I might fall I held on to him and looked into his eyes as he crossed the threshold. Just as he promised I didn’t feel any sting or burn but rather the blue light felt like cool water had washing over me and it felt wonderful. We were lost in the moment when we heard someone clear their throat and it broke the spell. Seeing Uriel I jumped off Ralf’s arms only to land on my back hard on the floor.
“Damn. I have had enough of falling on my butt.” I muttered angrily.
“Angel, are you alright? Why did you jump like that?” Said Ralf kneeling next to me.
“No I am fine.” I said standing up and dusting off my jeans.
“You were saying something about falling on your..”
Before he could finish the sentence, I replied “No. No its nothing, just crazy talk when I get nervous or angry.” I said praying they wouldn’t ask me further and looked around to find us standing in what appeared to be a temple with beautiful waterfall from the ceiling reaching the height of fifty feet. On one side was the water fall and on the other I saw a statue of a lady in what appeared to be a toga pointing towards the waterfall with her left hand. I couldn’t see the face of the statue but I could fathom it would be beautiful.
“It’s beautiful. What is this place?”
“It is the temple of Gaia.”
“Gaia? The mother earth, Mother Nature”
“Yes. The same one” Saying Ralf picked up a bag and closed his eyes for few seconds in front of the statue.
“Were you praying?”
“Actually thanking the goddess for guiding us safely through the portal. Come on lets go. We have our transportation waiting outside.”
As we walked out Uriel was greeting Gabriel and lady who stood next to him. Once she saw me and Ralf she came forward hurriedly and hugged Ralf. I couldn’t stop feeling a pang of jealousy. Looking at me she said “And this is Solange. Right Ralf?”
Nodding his head Ralf said “Angel this is Caitlin. Gabriel’s wife.”
“Hello. It is nice to meet you.” I said feeling embarrassed for feeling jealous. Caitlin hugged me and said “Oh Solange, I finally get to meet you. Ralf has told me so much about you and I hoped we could become good friends and sisters.”
Her enthusiasm made me nervous. I didn’t know if I could become friends with anyone. Lolo was my friend and she is dead today because of me. I was lost in my own doomed thoughts and it must have shown on my face because I immediately felt the warmth of Ralf and found him touching my face and saying it will be ok. His voice brought me back from the black pit I was falling into. Getting my emotions under control I smiled at Ralf and thanked him for being here with me.
“Please tell me we are not travelling on those?” I said when I looked past Ralf at our transportation astonished at the choice.
Smiling Uriel said “Sweet rides of Empyrean, but I love my Porsche back on earth.”
Everyone walked towards the huge horses which were standing very elegantly. I held back with fear until Ralf pulled my hand. “They are very gentle and you can ride with me.” Holding my hand he took me near one of horses, placed my hand against his neck showing me how to comfort it and let it get accustomed to my presence. Ralf helped me up on to the saddle before sitting behind me. Gabriel and Caitlin took the second horse and Uriel the third.
As we travelled I saw the surroundings were beautiful. Everywhere I turned it was green and the fog blended far and wide across the land. It felt as if I was inside a beautiful landscape painting. There were no cars, no crowd, the air was not polluted. Everything felt pure and pristine. The cool breeze felt good against my face.
“It is so beautiful.”
“Yes. It is home.”
Smiling I said “home no matter where it is, is always the best place.”
We rode for what seemed like an hour before a wall came into sight. Ralf pointed it was the city walls of Empyrean. The wall looked huge reaching a few hundred feet tall and wide as long as I could see on both the sides of the road. As we came closer to the main door, I saw it was made of pure gold and had many inscriptions on it. The door opened and two men dressed in what seemed like soldiers uniform from the Greek mythology stood before us. I noticed Gabriel and Uriel who were riding along side us had moved back and stood few feet apart. The two soldiers bowed and led us into the city.
The city itself was magnificently built. The buildings were grand and I could see angels gliding across the skyline. I saw children running around giggling and playing catch. Few with their tiny wings looked adorable. When they saw us, they ran back into the houses and looked out from the windows. In fact I noticed many of them were standing on both sides of the road with their heads bowed.
“Ralf, why is everybody standing like that?”
“They are paying respects.”
I was shocked as I put things together and I said “You are the prince.”
“Yes I am.” Replied Ralf very silently.
Before I could question him about why he had kept it a secret, he stopped in front a building which was much taller than the rest of other ones. He got off the horse and lifted me down and said “Welcome to my home.”
“Home? It looks like palace to me.”
Ralf was silent and guided me in through the gates. The inside of the palace as I called was marvelous. It was indescribable. Few feet inside led to row of steps leading up to the doors of the palace. As we climbed up, the doors opened and an older woman came out followed by a man who was similar in appearance to Ralf except he looked older and wiser.
“Oh Raphael, I am so glad you returned back.” Said the lady and hugged Ralf.
“Hello son, looks like your trip was very eventful” Said the man next to the lady pulling her closer to him.
“Mother, father. Please meet Solange, Michael’s daughter” Said Ralf introducing me.
“How do you do sir, mam?” I said thinking if Ralf is prince obviously they are the royal couple and deserved to be respected.
“Oh my, Michael’s daughter? Who would have guessed? Come now dear you don’t have to be formal. Please call me Evelyn.” Saying she took my hands in hers.
Next I knew I was struggling to get my hands free when I saw Evelyn’s eyes go white and she looked in a trance saying “It’s time you took your destiny in your hands!”