Another week has gone by and a lot has happened. For one thing, I've launched my Christmas in July promotion. If you haven't checked it out yet then take a look here and join the fun. There's a fab competition to with the Enigma Omnibus and a poster of my beloved Silver.
So, this week I chose a beautiful photo prompt to introduce a new character and re introduce an old one.
Gabri’el raised his hand and one of the angels detached from the Host and rode forward. He was a big man, with wide shoulders and a square jaw. Raven hair streamed from under his helmet as he rode. His eyes, when he was near enough to see them, were kind.
“Range out in ranks of three, wait for my mark and then we ride.”
“What?” Pasha asked in surprise. But, we can’t all fit through the waterfall, not spread out. Shouldn’t they be in single file?”
“Trust me, Pasha, where the Host wishes to go, the Host goes. No door is closed to us.”
“Are we doing the…thing, again?”
“We’re doing something,” Gabri’el said with a smile. He nodded at the soldier who inclined his head, then rode back to the ranks.
“Are you ready?” Gabri’el asked.
Pasha considered. Was he? He raised his eyes to the distant waterfall. The lake reflected the trees and sky and glittered with diamonds where the occasional fish broke the surface. Far across the water the cascade tumbled, broken by rocks on the lip into four separate streams.
Everything was still and silent. Except inside his head. Inside his head the screaming went on and on. Then suddenly it stopped.
Pasha’s head jerked up and met Gabri’el’s eyes. Gabri’el looked as startled as he was.
“I don’t know.”
“Something has happened, though, hasn’t it?”
“What should we do? Should we go forward or wait.”
Gabri’el looked around. “I have a feeling something’s coming. We wait.”
Pasha’s heart started to pound and his mouth went dry. He had a horrible feeling something bad had happened and something worse was about to. The minutes stretched interminably and Pasha started to feel weak and edgy.
The jangle of harness had both heads turning. The same man Gabri’el had spoken to before was riding forward.
“My Lord, something is coming.”
“Coming? Coming where?”
“Through the gate, My Lord.
“The gate? But, only the Host can pass through the gate.”
“Apparently not. It approaches. What would you have us do?”
“Watch. Wait. If you sense a threat, act.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
Again the minutes stretched until a strange, flutelike call rose from the trees.
“What was that?”
“It sounds like Frosty. But it can’t….”
Before he could continue a ball of glittering whiteness rose from the trees and shot towards them. It landed on the grass a few feet away from Gabri’el’s horse and gave the same eerie cry. It was a beautiful white peacock. She raised her head majestically and shook out her plumage. Tiny frost crystals and snowflakes fell from the feathers.
“I bear a message,” she said, “from my brother.”
The peacock, bent her neck and two perfect crystals fell from her eyes. “When he learned of what happened to My Lord, Uzzi’el he travelled to Eden, but was already too late. It seems he arrived as the Host left the city and he went straight to My Lord’s side. He was there when….” The snowy head bowed lower. “He was there for the end.”
Panic grabbed Pasha’s heart and squeezed the life out of him. “The end of what?” he asked, his voice shaking almost uncontrollably.
The regal peacock raised her head and shook out her feathers again, scattering more ice and snow over the grass around her.
“You are Passa’el, his mate. I mourn your loss, and mine. My Lord, Uzzi’el was kind and brave; a good soldier and a good man. Fierro is distraught.”
“Is he…? Is he sure? There’s no doubt?” Gabri’el asked, his voice almost as shaky as Pasha’s.
“There is no doubt. My Lord, Uzzi’el is dead. He passed minutes ago. I came as swiftly as I could.”
“My Lord.” The soldier interrupted. “There has been another breach of the gate.”
Pasha could barely raise the energy to lift his head and was unsurprised when the sputtering ball of electricity that was Fierro the phoenix appeared. He shot through the sky like a fireball and almost knocked Pasha off his horse.
“It was terrible. My heart was torn from my body and I am nothing more than an empty shell. He didn’t die alone, My Lord,” the phoenix continued with undisguised accusation in his tone. “I was with him, at least.”
“Fierro, My Lords, Passa’el and Gabri’el are here seeking to save My Lord Uzzi’el. What would you have had them do? Sit at his side and simply wait for his death?”
The chilly tones calmed the over excited ball of fiery feathers and Fierro sniffed. “I tried to warm him Lords. He was so cold. I tried to warm him, but there was nothing I could do. I called to him but he was so far away. And then he opened his eyes and I hoped….” The phoenix sniffed and tiny discharges of electricity stung Pasha’s skin and made his hair stand on end. “He said. ‘Tell them. Tell them to go on’, and then he was gone. I tried to breathe life back into his body, to shock his heart to beat again, but there was nothing I could do.”
“He told you he wanted us to go on?”
“How can I go on?” Pasha asked, feeling numb. “I have to go back. I have to….”
“And then what?” Gabri’el was sitting tall in the saddle, his eyes blazing. “Sit with a dead body and mourn while his murderer goes unpunished? I will not go back until I hold his still beating heart in my hand.”
“Vengeance,” Fierro said.
“Vengeance,” Frosty repeated, her voice like a blast of icy wind.
“Vengeance.” The Host called with one voice.
Pasha looked around and knew every soul there was crying out in pain for justice and to avenge Uzzi’el. A surge of energy shot through him and his grief was swept aside as he raised his head and poured the agony of his tormented soul into one word. “Vengeance.”
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