Chapter 38

Ralf:

Even after my refusal, Solange sat next to the girl helping Assiel to ensure the girl’s fever came down. Seeing she was engaged, I asked Uriel to meet me at the dining area. I noticed Uriel to be very protective of the girl and not ready to let anyone close to the girl. But the need to save her overrode and he let Assiel, Solange to care for her.

“You wanted something from me, my prince?” Uriel asked hesitatingly as he stood in front of me

I opened myself to understand what was troubling him through our blood bond; all guardians were linked to each other. But he had gone silent not letting his thoughts known to anyone. Respecting his wish, I didn’t probe and instead decided to ask him straight out. “What is it about this girl that is bothering you my friend? You know she is responsible for attack on us and needs to go in front of the council for the same.”

Uriel stood silent for so long, that I didn’t expect him to give me an answer, but then he said “My prince, please allow me few days. I know the girl is responsible for the attack on my lady and my brothers, but she is but a child and doesn’t know the consequences of her actions. Hecate and Melissa have taken advantage of her.”

“How can you be so sure of it? How can we assume the girl is innocent and didn’t know what she was doing?”

“My prince, I do not have answer to your questions.” Said Uriel

“Then…”

“Ralf, you are a good friend of mine, before you’re my prince. I request you on this friendship to give me some days to understand why this girl is important to me.” Said Uriel and anguish on his face made me realize that my dear friend had been keeping things from me. Things he was not yet ready to share, but I knew I would stand by him just as I know on my life that he would stand by my side. Nodding that he may take some days before we can bring the girl in front of the council I walked to the barracks to check on Solange. As I entered the barracks, she smiled at me and walked with her hands stretched coming into my embrace. “The girl, she is but a child. I don’t know how Hecate can use her so ill for her selfish needs.” Said Solange looking at the girl lying on the bed

“You forget my dear; Melissa my sister who was so dear to me is also responsible for the hell on this poor child. I wonder if only I knew what was happening; maybe I could have saved Melissa from this fate and hateful life.”

Taking my hand, Solange walked out the door towards the high platform that overlooks the gorge. “Raphael, no one is responsible for this situation we all are in, expect Lucifer and his deviousness. We will not let me him win. I want this battle to end so that we can go home.” Holding her close, I promised to myself to keep her safe and away from situations that would soon arise. I could feel the black smoke that was rising from gorge which was spiraling upwards with greed to engulf everything in its path.

Somewhere underground just beneath the mountains:

Hecate was in one of her worst moods, screaming at the loss of girl. Melissa couldn’t stand it any longer and walked away. But suddenly she found herself pinned along the wall of the underground caves. Her voice was gone and something suddenly yanked on her hair pulling some of it away from her scalp. As lifted her head for the force that held her, she saw Hecate’s body along the opposite wall.

“Mother! Wake up” Melissa screamed addressing Hecate for the first with their blood relation. Fearing Hecate was dead Melissa started struggling with all her might, only to find herself lifted above the floor with her body pressed to the roof of the cave. And just like that she was released and a scream tore through the walls of the cave. Melissa ran to Hecate’s body and checked for pulse. A faint pulse kept struggling and Hecate’s limp body shuddered as it took breadth finally saying “It was the girl’s….” stopping forever. Before she could contemplate, a shadow loomed over Melissa beheading her and removing the treat that could surface the devil.

Uriel:

As I stood overlooking the security a faint fragrance of wild flowers swirled around me with promise of life as I had never known immediately to be replaced by strong scent of leather and sense of danger followed. Out of thin air an arrow flew towards me, with me interrupting its flight midway. A small paper was rolled along it. Irin ran towards me when I called attention at unfamiliar presence amongst us followed by Ralf and Solange right behind him. Slipping the paper of the arrow I read it, “If you plan on locking that bas***d for good, it’s time. Your path is clear for both devil’s minions are dead and buried in the caves.”

Solange took the paper from my hands and suddenly her eyes went white only to come out of it in matter of seconds with a ghost of smile on her face. “That should do. My prince you friend is saved. You don’t have to worry about him anymore.” Saying she walked away before I could question her vision and declaration.

Ralf:

I was stunned into silence at Solange’s vision and her declaration, but as the understanding dawned through my bond to her, I couldn’t help but feel proud of her and my happiness for future of Uriel which would soon change for good. Knowing the fate needs to take its own course I walked away calling that we should plan how to release Solange’s parents and lock Lucifer away for good.

The next day, against all my instincts the group of guardians and I walked slowly towards the mouth of the gorge. Solange walked in the centre of guardians after a long a argument between us about her safety. Finally she gave up when I threatened take her back to Empyrean immediately. I had expected her to fight me, but she silently walked along as requested. But her silence was worrying me. Not knowing how to handle the situation I walked ahead of her to ensure no harm would come to her. We all climbed down the rugged mountain side for more than four hours before we reached the mouth of the gorge. The river flowing through the gorge was at its least water level, but the flow of the water was still deafening. As Solange and the girl sat down for respite, Uriel and few men scouted the gorge along the river shore. Uriel returned with two guardians in half hour, suggesting we move fast for unnatural fog was coming down the river. We all hurried down river trying to move away from the fog. The guardians posted along the river joined the group as we moved. The river from gorge slowly opened into a wide space with huge pillars on the side of gorge ending. As we moved towards the open river in hope to dodge the fog, the calm water started swirling and fog rolled over it trapping us from all sides. Uriel shouted from his location at back of group that there was cave opening about ten feet from my location towards the huge wall of the elephant trunk hill. Holding Solange’s hand I ran towards the cave followed Uriel and the girl and the guardians. Amazingly the fog didn’t roll into the cave, but locked us away in. One of the guardians at the back of the group walked towards the fog, as soon as his hand moved towards it, he was sucked away as if someone was waiting just outside hidden behind the white smoke. A shriek echoed through the cave walls. The girl started having spasms; Irin was next to the girl lifting her to his arms supporting her body. Uriel held down the girl and started rubbing her hands. I immediately commanded the guardians to scout the caves and find a way out. Then ran to the girl and took her hands from Uriel and let my life force move into her body healing her fears which led to her spasms. As my life force was healing the girl, her memories swamped me. The poor girl had been abused by Hecate and Melisa since she was toddler. They had slaughtered her family and used her mother until she was dead. Suddenly a dark force rushed towards me through its bond with the girl. I immediately pulled out into my body. Uriel supported my body from falling down and helped to sit on the floor. Solange rushed to me and held a bottle of water for me to drink.

“Ralf, what happened?” asked Uriel and Solange at the same time

“The poor child is marked by the devil himself.” I said wondering what to do

“Lucifer has marked the girl…” stated Uriel in anger before punching the wall of the cave with the force that rock along the walls started falling on all the occupants of the cave

Irin held the girl very close saving her from the debris that fell and appealed Uriel to control his anger.

Solange:

Something in the air was disturbing the decision making of the guardians was being affected. I noticed few guardians inching towards the fog unknowingly. Uriel was losing his temper, especially who is known to stay much focused in such situations. Raphael had become emotional, who is known for his leadership and lead his warriors to victory not being able take any decisions.

“My lady, there is something in the air, of this cave which is affecting the guardians.” Said Assiel trying to help Irin with the girl

Nodding in agreement, I tried to remember my lessons with Raphael’s father. I sat down a little away from all the guardians and closed my eyes calling upon goddess Athena to guide me. My body relaxed and my spirit went out of my body looking for the source that was affecting all guardians. I looked around and tried to find the energy source; my spirit floated across checking the walls of the cave. I was surprised to find most of it covered in wards of protection, but none of them were the source. As I floated by the wall Uriel had punched, a ward was glowing behind all the debris that fallen. I couldn’t move the debris, so returned to my body. After removing the debris in my physical form, I tried to understand the ward. Although it was protective in nature, it was drawn to protect a kind of gaseous substance from being released from beneath it. Once it was disturbed, the ward was broken and the substance was for some reason only affecting the men. I looked at the point where the ward’s knot was disturbed and the point how it had started, then slowly started redrawing it with my instincts. It was slow but well worth it for all the guardians’ going into hysteria were now on the floor slowly recovering from the after effect of the nauseous substance.

“Thank you my lady.” Said all the guardians soon after the ward was safely drawn

Ralf approached me and took my hands in his kissing my palms on the inside and whispering his thanks. The feelings and love that I saw in his eyes made me forget that I was angry at him. But this incident made me realize that I was in a place I was not familiar with and Ralf needed his full attention to make this mission a success and childish demands to not follow his directive made me feel ashamed and I promised myself that it ends now.

“Raphael, I understand your need to protect me and I know if you had not been distracted because of my anger we wouldn’t have been in this mess”

“My love, I should be the one to apologize for not having trusted your capabilities. You managed to save all of us.” He said with proud in his voice

Smiling at him I promised to follow his requests in the mission further and support him as and when needed. We then walked towards the guardians who were all huddled next to fire with beans boiling for dinner. Irin and Assiel helped the girl to settle down while Uriel drew a circle around them on the ground. Upon my questioning glance, he said “This protective circle will ensure that Lucifer doesn’t get to the girl and influence her into taking any drastic step against us or herself. At least I hope it will work.”

I looked at the circle drawn and added few of own protective knots where the circle starts and ends drawing it such that the beginning was undetectable for anyone trying unravel it. Raphael lifted his eyebrows on my ministrations to his circle and smiled. Taking my hand in his, he walked to the campfire where all guardians were eating supper. One of the guardians handed us the bowl of beans and the bread. It was very quite dinner, all guardians mourning for their two fellow brothers who were lost to them. One by one all the guardians assumed their positions around keeping, me, Assiel and the girl in the centre with Rapahel, Uriel and Irin stayed within the circle with us. As we all sat down, I told them about what I found when I was looking for the ward in the cave, “this cave is protected against intruders, not just humans, but of any kind especially men.”

“Now why would someone do that?” asked Irin helping the girl sit up

Before anyone could answer, I felt a sudden jolt and then I heard the girl whisper in my mind “because, they didn’t expect any woman would free Lucifer.”

“Oh my god.” I said aloud looking at the girl. Irin just stared at the girl

“What happened?” asked Raphael pulling me towards him

“The girl just spoke to me.” I said trying to reach for the girl, but she pulled away but stayed in Irin’s embrace.

Trying to ensure she did speak, I projected my thoughts to her “Do you know who has warded this cave child?”

“I am not a child. My name is Ashia.” Said the girl with defiance in her voice

“Ok Ashia, can you talk loudly?”

But the girl kept silent and tears flowed from her eyes. Irin held her closely and replied for her “She can’t talk. Hecate has cut her tongue when she didn’t agree to help her.”

Rapahel, Urien, Assiel, and I looked at the Ashia, but Irin tried to hide her behind him trying to keep her away from our view. Understanding his need to protect the girl we all suggested Irin to take the girl with him to one of grooves in the cave, which offered some privacy.

“We need to understand from Ashia all that she knows, if she knows who has warded this cave, she may also know the portal which leads to the Lucifer’s cell.” Said Raphael

“I am sure the she will tell me. I need to talk to her alone.” I said looking at Raphael

“Absolutely not, she is marked by Lucifer. No way you are going to be alone with her.” Said Raphael

I looked at him folding my hands, standing straight and looking at him with my eyes narrowed challenging him to say one more word. Uriel took hint but Raphael was little slow and opened his mouth “Solange, try to understand?”

I blasted him with all the energy and he flew backwards and hit the cave wall. Suddenly I realized what I had done and ran to him, he was on floor laughing. We all looked at him confusingly, “Darling, remind me to never anger you again.” Saying Raphael stood up taking me in his arms and kissing in front of everyone.

More than an hour later, Irin and Ashia sat in front of us. “Ashia says she wants to help, but she is scared if Lucifer will be able to sense your presence through you.”

“You don’t have to fear Ashia, this circle ward of any evil even if you are marked by it” Explained Raphael gently to the girl, keeping his distance so as not to spook her.

Nodding Ashia opened herself to me, and I opened her thoughts to Ralf, who in turn formed a mental path to Uriel and the guardians. It was a small network formed based on trust. Once the network was formed I could sense everyone present.

“Hecate kidnapped me and my mother during the war. I was just a six year old and Lucifer marked me for I was not protected yet. Hecate used my mother to attack a city where guardians and Centaurs lived. At one such attack, someone stronger sensed her and she was wounded in reverse attack. Hecate didn’t even help her. She drew a knife and killed her. Hecate then started commanding me to do her bidding, for if I didn’t she would go after my sister who had been able to save herself. I stayed and did her bidding. Hecate and Melissa were hired by someone free Lucifer, I don’t know who it is. But this person is very powerful because even with Lucifer locked in cell, she was able to reach out and command Hecate to do his bidding. Hecate and her partner casted a spell to communicate with Lucifer, but unwittingly they managed to almost free him, if not for your mother. She fought with them and when it seemed the cell wouldn’t hold him she warded the cell with her blood and locked herself along with it. She took a three step warding process. First she warded this cave against men, then warded the actual  groove which leads to his cell against every living thing. Then the final ward is the cell itself. Your mother bound herself to the cell so that Lucifer can’t escape even if he can communicate to outside world.”

“Have you seen these wards?” I asked

“Hecate tried to use to undo the wards in this cave, but I couldn’t do it.”

The silence that followed stretched until we heard scrapping noise along the cave wall. Raphael and all guardians immediately stood in fight stance waiting for whatever was just moving along the wall. Every second we waited seemed like eons until we saw a hand on the along the wall and a body dragged itself. The man fell on his back breathing heavily. Then Uriel was on knees within a flash holding the person calling for Raphael to heal the man. I ran behind Raphael for the uneasiness in my heart kept growing. I reached to find my father bleeding on the cave floor, with one his wings tattered from battle and lay limp behind him.

A scream let out from my mouth, seeing him such and fell to my knees holding his head as Raphael started the healing process. He finished healing process and helped Assiel to apply salve to father’s wings. Once done he pulled me in his arms with promise to make everything right in my life.

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