We watched in silence as Judith slowly stood up and put right her robe turning to walk towards Empyrean. Her neck was bloody and her hands were shivering as she tried cover up her wounds. Uriel and I couldn’t fathom what could have happened here. We waited until Judith left the area before we went down to the area where Judith and the malicious man were standing. As we approached the area we saw a circle with intricate design in it. Just as Uriel stepped over the circle, his leg burned and he jumped out of it.
“Damn, what black magic is this?” expressed Uriel in anger.
“Magic of the black-ones. Who could be practicing this on Empyrean?” I said walking along the circle ensuring I didn’t get too close to it.
Uriel and I scouted the grounds for an hour for clues around from the magic circle. But none was to be found. Not knowing what to look for we started walking back towards arena. Suddenly I remembered the stench I had sensed before Uriel and I had found Judith. “Uriel did you smell the stench, or do you remember the lack of it.”
“Very much, I had started in this direction due to the stink. But as we neared the circle it had disappeared.” Said Uriel
“The wounds on Judith’s body are still troubling me. How could she let that creature harm her?” I couldn’t fathom it
“My concern is with the amount of blood used in making that circle. And why would Judith get involved in going against you.”
“Because, she is still hoping that we would become mates. Her stubbornness to be the queen of Empyrean has blinded her eyes even though it is not her destiny.”
“Hmmm. We all knew that for long time. But using black magic to fulfill her wishes, how desperate is she?”
“I am responsible for it to certain extent. If I had not courted her she would never have assumed we are mates.”
“But it doesn’t matter, because she is not your mate. Angel is your mate and daughter of Athena we all have been waiting for.”
We reached arena in time to see Angel shoot her first target and the elation on her face was worth capturing in a picture of forever memories. She looked at us and came running “Hey did you see that. I actually was able to hit the target.”
“It was wonderful shot Angel. I am so glad you are not angry at me anymore.”
“Who was talking to you? I was telling Uriel about my shot.” She said smiling up at Uriel
The rage that filled me instantaneously was something I had never thought I was capable of, but the moment I saw her smiling at me I knew she was teasing me again. She is so different, one minute she is like fire and the next moment she was calm and serene like still water.
“What brings your boys here?” said father
“Well, sir we needed to discuss with about Angel’s attacker.” I informed
“Who is the attacker?” Cearul asked with calm voice more dangerous than his anger
“Father, let’s go in where no one can hear us. I cannot trust all in here.”
“Hmm, let’s go to my work room.” Saying Cearul walked towards the room in high tower
Settling in chairs, Uriel waited for me to describe all that we saw to father and Angel.
Once I told him about the stink we had come across and it’s disappearance he looked very concerned. He expressed his wish to call for my mother, as she was the best judge about magic, for that matter any kind of magic. As we were waiting for my mother’s arrival, Angel decided to practice more of her shooting. Uriel promised her to teach new techniques she could use while fighting with bow. As I saw walk to arena, I warmth spread in my chest.
“You know son, your mate is just like your mother. She doesn’t know the strength and power she posses inside her. She is blessed by Athena and that proves she is our chance against Lucifer.”
“That’s what I worry father. I would die before any harm comes to her.”
“I would do the same for your mother son, but choose to fight with her than for her. That will earn you her respect. Women wish to stand beside their men, not behind them. Remember this son, it will serve you well.”
I nodded at his advice and we discussed about Angel’s training. Uriel was teaching her to use her bow as a defense weapon. She was quick learner, within few minutes she had mastered her moves. It was unbelievable to think her to have achieved so much just in matter of hours. Maybe she always knew, just her inner warrior needed to be coaxed to come out.
“She is an amazing girl dear.” Said mother standing next to me
I put my arm around her shoulders standing and watching her. “Call them up son, I need to talk to all of you.” Said Evelyn
Once Uriel and Angel came, my father took his seat next mother at head of table, with me sitting next to Angel, and Uriel standing still on the window sill. Just as mother was about to start, Grandpa and Grandma appeared.
Mother smiled at them and said she had informed them and they would never have stopped pointing me, if they were not called to this meeting.
“When Cearul informed me of what you and Uriel had come across. I stopped by the grounds to check it out.”
“Mother you shouldn’t have gone alone. It is not safe there.” I said worried for her
“Son, I can take care of myself” saying she just tongue-tied me. Father looked at me proving I told you so and grandpa looked trying to say, are you crazy to say that?
Having realized my stupidity, I kept my mouth shut and listened to what mother had to say.
“The circle drawn was one of the strongest black-magic I have ever come across. It is absolutely drawn by a black-one and it is drawn with blood of an angel, which makes it that much stronger.”
“You mean to say, the damn circle is drawn with Judith’s blood?” I asked
“Looks like it. The blood has to be given willfully for it to be that strong. And from the wounds you claim Judith had her body; it proves that she has agreed to it. But why?” said mother worrying
“I know why.” I said looking at Angel with apology in my eyes
“Judith wants me as her mate, even though I am not. She is not ready to agree the fact that it is Angel who is my mate.”
Angel looked down at her folded hands closing herself from me. Not ever wanting that, I immediately took her hands in mine. “Angel, please don’t look away from me, or close your feelings to me. Since the moment I saw in the church, walking with your aunt in that beautiful sun dress I knew it is you. My soul mate and I would do anything to be with you. Solange Aodh, will you give me permission to protect, honor and love you?”
The moments went by and her silence was so frightening. I was sure if she rejected me, it would be last day I would ever sane. Then she looked me in my eyes, held my face in her hands. I felt a jolt in my body, and then I felt her inside my mind. She had not told me about her this ability. Knowing she needed me to bare all barriers so that all my feelings for lay bare in front of her, I opened myself to her and she looked through all my memories, of my childhood, my youth and my time when I had reached cove.
“Raphael Armstrong, I take you as my mate. With promise to honor, protect and love you.” She said timidly
The joy I felt couldn’t be described nor contained. I lifted her off the chair in my arms and held her tightly. Few minutes would have passed before someone cleared their throat. Realizing the audience we had I let go of her, and my mother and grandma hugged her congratulating us. My father, grandpa and Uriel clapped my shoulder. We all decided to go back to the castle and appear as if nothing untoward had happened. It was necessary for us if we wished to catch the malicious one who planned to use Angel for some wicked plan of his.
On the evening of ball:
As I sat in front of the mirror dressed for the ball, which now is my engagement party I couldn’t believe, few days ago I had no idea if I would ever marry or date, but today I am engaged to an archangel.
For all the carnage I had found in my room, this dress I bought was safe. Ralf not only had kept this dress in my room, but it was also accompanied with a beautiful diamond necklace. Evelyn and Moirin came to accompany me to the ball room. They made me feel home. I missed Aunt Gretchen. “Dear, your aunt is waiting for you.”
“Moirin I thought no one could listen to my thoughts. Then how did you know what I was thinking?”
“My darling girl, I didn’t have to listen to thoughts, it was all written your face. Your aunt would never have missed. And dear your father sent his congratulations.” Said Moirin
“Father sent message? When? Why didn’t he reach out me?” I said angry at pa for not talking to me
“Dear your telepathic path is not open to any of us. Michael spoke to Ralf just few minutes ago. Ralf didn’t want you to worry about your father so he asked me pass on his message to you. Michael said he was almost closing on your mother’s location. He should be calling us in a day or two.”
“I know it has hardly been a week since I came to Empyrean, and I miss pa. I wish I could have helped him.”
Evelyn and Moirin looked at each other with question as if they were not sure to share something.
“What is it? What are you trying to hide from me?” I said praying they wouldn’t lie to me
“We are not hiding dear, just wondering my Ralf and Michael forgot to mention you the timeline shift that happens here and on earth?” said Evelyn
“Meaning?” I asked
“You see dear, one day in Empyrean is almost equal to around two to three days on earth.”
“What? You are joking right? You mean to tell me that it has almost been a month since my arrival in Empyrean.”
“Technically around 20 days.” Moirin tried to make joke of it
I looked at both of them and said “Do not you agree, these guys think they can get away with their high handedness. I am going to set some ground rules in front of your son. If do not agree with me then tell me now itself.” I said tapping my foot.
“We are all the way with you on this. Anything we can do to help.”
“Yes, just let me do the talking”
“Absolutely dear” conceded both Evelyn and Moirin grinning ear to ear
I was getting impatient waiting for Angel. It was almost way past half hour the time we had expected the ladies to come. Fearing what was happening I decided to checkout, but just then the curtain shifted from the entrance for three ladies in stunning gowns, and my eyes could feast only on the one in middle. She appeared delectable and all my discipline was running short from stopping me to run to her the instant. The entire ball room had gone silent and everyone stepped away in her way as she walked towards me. Mother and grandma walked to their respective mates and stood by looking at us. When she reached me, the waltz was played. I took her hand and guided her to center of the dance floor. She followed my lead with hesitation and danced along. At end of song, the room thundered with claps. Angel was blushing, her cheeks turning pink. She expressed to get some air, and we walked out into alcove in hall away from the crowd. We sat across the window opening to the gardens below. The night lilies bloomed and the fragrance filled the beautiful night. I couldn’t take my eyes of her beautiful face. She smiled shyly and closed her eyes with smile on her face. Still closing her eyes she asked “Ralf as your mate, do you respect me?”
Confused why had asked this, I tried to reply carefully “Angel I respect and love you for who are.”
“Then can you promise me to be truthful to me always.”
“I am truthful to you my darling.” I said getting down on my knees n front of her
Opening her eyes and looking at me she said “Ralf you might want to protect me and so decide not to tell me things which you might consider would upset me. But I want your promise to tell me everything. I want to share my life with you as an equal.”
Understanding what father had meant, I nodded and took out the ring I had received from mom on arrival to give to Angel. I placed it in her hands “Angel, Will you honor me by becoming my mate in true sense for all eternity”
She smiled and said “Eternity is too long; I will have to think about it.”
Upon my dejected reaction, she put the ring in my hand and held her left hand out in front of me and said “Only if you promise to love for eternity.”
“I promise, for eternity and ever.” I laughed putting the ring on her finger
We sat in alcove in companionable silence, and then Ralf asked what I had been expecting today since afternoon, “Angel, when did you learn to read through others mind?”
Taking a long breadth “I have always been able to do it. Aunt told me I couldn’t let anyone about it and I shouldn’t try to use my power.”
“Hmm. Speaking of Gretchen, she has already pinched my ears saying I had finally come to my senses”
“Oh my god, I totally forgot she is here. Let’s go meet her right now.”
We walked back into the hall and found Aunt Gretchen talking to Evelyn, Moirin and few other ladies. I almost tripped running to her. She hugged me and we both excused ourselves from others to catch up on past few days.
Aunt Gretchen and I were talking when suddenly she went all silent and looked around for something. I also felt as if we were being watched. I immediately looked for Ralf, who sensing my discomfort came immediately to us. Just as he reached us, a loud crash was heard. We looked to find at the center of room a broken chandelier which had adorned the hall had come crashing down on the same spot where Ralf was standing. I held on to him tightly praying and thanking he was safe and not under that. A loud scream erupted in the hall and form took shape in the middle of the room. It was the same shape which was in my room. It towards in the general direction we stood. Lifting a clawed ginger it pointed towards me and said, “Since your arrival all my plans have been laid to waste. But only good that comes out of it is you are the key that I had been looking for living amongst these empyreans.”
Because of the hood, we couldn’t see who it was. I tried to probe into the forms head, only to face darkness so black and malicious intent, it was too much and pain I felt was insufferable. I held my head in my hands trying to focus. My nose started bleeding from the malevolent thoughts I was encountering. Ralf held my head and forced me to look at him. He called out to me “Angel, please you need stop. You need to control your powers. I know you can do it. Control your power.”
Holding on to his thoughts I brought myself out of the dark abyss the creature was spinning around my mind.
Moirin and Evelyn stood in front me protectively, with Cearul, and Conall in front of them. Aunt Gretchen took on her seer form calling on to her powers. She used her might and the shapeless form slowly started taking form of its own accord. It screamed trying to fight Aunt Gretchen’s magic, but she was too powerful for it. It fell down in heap in front of her. Aunt Gretchen called a staff in her hand and lifted the hood of the creature as we looked on in dreadful silence. Then I heard Evelyn’s cry “No no, not you Melissa.”