I haven't written for a while. There has been a lot going on in my life that has consumed me. But here we are in a brand new day on a (fairly) sunny Wednesday with my story written and the energy to post it, Today's prompt was 'band of angels' and, as you can imagine, i didn't have too much trouble with that one :)
At Gabri’el’s signal, The Host flowed forward, skimming the surface of the lake. Pasha was barely aware they were on the water. His eyes were fixed on the waterfall. He wondered briefly how they were all going to get through then his horse plunged beneath the fall and suddenly he was in the cave beyond.
The cave was not what Pasha had expected, if he’d expected anything at all. He stood among the stomping, snorting horses and looked around. The space around him was enormous. It would easily have held a thousand human horses, and then some. The walls were smooth and seamless, clearly hand hewed out of the rock.
Fierro and Frost circled above, under the perfectly smooth ceiling. They reported there was no entrance, no flaw their keen eyes could see in the solid rock
“It must be an illusion,” Gabri’el said. He ordered a search which arrived at the same conclusion. If there was enchantment they couldn’t penetrate it. A search outside revealed no other entrance.
“My masters require counsel with your leaders only.”
The band of angels turned toward the voice, ready for battle. They were disappointed. The boy, who had appeared from nowhere, was unarmed. In fact, he was barely clothed, other than the silver chains attached to the silver collar and cuffs encircling his throat, ankles and wrists. His soft white skin, where visible through the hip length cloud of silvery hair, was marred with welts and whip marks. He was clearly a slave, or at least meant to appear so.
“Your masters can go to hell,” Gabri’el snapped. “Tell them to face us and we will guarantee them safe conduct to the City and a fair trial.”
“That is not an option, My Lords. Should you refuse an audience all opportunity to speak with them will be lost. You cannot find them unless they wish to be found.”
“Then so be it, but we are not foolish enough to place ourselves into their hands.”
“Then leave in peace, My Lords, but all chance of securing the return of your mate will be lost.”
Pasha laughed bitterly. “It’s too late for that.” Then his voice became flat. “Uzzi’el’s dead.”
“Are you sure, My Lord?”
Pasha’s eyes flicked to Fierro, who ruffled his feathers, sending up a shower of sparks.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Fierro snapped. “I saw it with my own eyes. I was with him at the end. Are you calling me a liar?”
“Oh no. Not at all. You saw what you saw but things are not always what they seem.”
“Are you telling me Uzzi’el’s still alive?” Pasha’s heart fluttered in his chest.
Gabriel touched his arm. “Easy. We can’t trust anything he says.”
“Maybe not, but I can’t leave without knowing if there’s a chance.”
“Pasha, I feel the same. You know I do, but there are bigger things at stake. We can’t afford all three of us to be captives.”
Pasha knew Gabri’el was right. He knew the mysterious strangers couldn’t be trusted, that to walk into their hands would be extremely foolish. But Uzzi’el! Pasha was in torment and could bear it no longer. Leaping from his horse, he strode across the floor to the startled slave. With a hand around his throat, he backed the boy against the wall and pinned him.
“Tell me,” he hissed. “Cut the bullshit and tell me. Is he still alive? How do I get to him?”
“My…My Lord, I…I cannot.”
“Tell me.” Pasha growled and tightened his hold. The boy choked and started to struggle, trying desperately to break the hold that was draining the life out of him. Pasha viciously slammed his head against the wall until his hands fell away from Pasha’s arm and he went still.
“Pasha, stop. What do you have to gain from killing him? He’s nothing more than a slave. He knows only what he’s been told. It’s clear he’s not in their confidence.” Gabri’el pushed back the boy’s hair to show the dark bruises on his face and shoulder. Pasha looked into the boy’s eyes. They were dazed but resigned. It was clear he believed he was about to die and at least part of him welcomed it.
Horrified and sickened by what he was doing, Pasha released the boy who fell to his knees, clutching his throat and coughing. Gabri’el crouched and put a hand on the boy’s shoulder. He shrank against the wall, looking up with frightened eyes.
“You’re alright,” Gabri’el said gently. “No one will hurt you. You have my word.” He looked up at Pasha who nodded quickly.
“I swear it.”
The boy’s hand fluttered to his throat.
“My…My Lords,” he whispered in a cracked voice. “I…I believe….” He swallowed hard. “I believe it is not too late to save him.”
Gabri’el got to his feet and drew Pasha aside. “We can’t do this,” he said. “It’s a trap. If we go with him we may never return. Eden needs me; needs us. Without us they’re vulnerable if these monsters seek war.
“We’re not as vulnerable as Uzzy.”
“He’s dead, Pasha. It’s a trick. You can’t trust them.”
“But if there’s a chance, any chance I can’t live with myself if I don’t take it.”
He turned to the boy quickly so he wouldn’t change his mind. “I’ll come with you.”
“Pasha, don’t.” Gabriel grabbed his arm but Pasha shook him off.
“I have to.”
For a moment, their eyes locked. “You’ll be the death of me,” Gabri’el said.
“I already was,” Pasha replied.
Gabriel shook his head in resignation. “Alright.” He called over his second in command. “Wait outside,” he said. “There’s less chance of being trapped. If we’re not back by nightfall, ride to Eden and seek out Raphael. He will know what to do.”
The soldier looked as if he was about to say something, but merely nodded and bowed his head.
Pasha and Gabri’el turned to the boy.
“Very well,” Gabri’el said. “Take us where we need to go.”
And now it is time to go find the rest of the golden nuggets supplied by the rest of the briefers this week