This is the testimony and sworn statement of Sargon III, Leader of the Clan Ondode, regarding the disaster at Elmer, New Mexico Territories, United States.
As I sit and write this, the images come back to me as if it were yesterday. I will preface this so as to put it in context.
The death of Dracula, Lord of the Vampires, had a chilling effect on the Regents and the High Council, rumors that humans fought back, indeed, several of the best nights of the year, for which all human men and women would hide and congregate in places making it easy to hunt, had now become times of festivities of the world of man– No longer did they fear those of us that prey on them for what they were; Feedstock.
The directive came out in the latter part of the nineteenth century that the Regents had called for a new vote to include the New World clans, not the least of which were the Clans Chupacabra and Manoutou, two of the most powerful of the new world clans, they had petitioned and wanted to be included in the next voting of the High Council. All of the New World clans wanted a vote on who would be the next Lord of Vampires.
It was announced by the Lady Marya, the daughter of the Late Count Dracula, that the Gathering of the Clans would be held in the New World out of respect of the new clans to be included. This was viewed as a positive move to allay fears that the Old World clans were only interested in domination of the New World and to bring peace at the outset of the new Council of Regents. This should avoid the internal strife that Lord Dracula had brought to an end during the times of the Great Defeat, before the Resurgence, what mankind called “The Dark Ages”.
My thrall found that in area of Elmer in the New Mexico Territories of the United States, that a large cave existed that could hold all the clans during the daylight. Thralls would be able to watch over the sleeping Kindred easily. Close by there was a large cattle ranch and several Native American villages, isolated and ready to be used for feeding.
At the commencement of the meetings of the Regents and the New World clans went very well. In the weeks before, the Manoutu and Chupacabra clans showed how easily the day-walkers of this land could be fed on. Clans trained new thralls as the older thralls became more involved in administration of the day-work.
It was at this time that a thrall came back and told of the cattle ranch nearby that was going to have an “All-Hallows-Eve” party there. Many, perhaps five-thousand in all, of the local feedstock were going to be at this gathering, bringing ales and food for everyone, it was reported that the party would last for days. At the first Regents meeting, Lady Marya stepped down as Steward in favor of her brother Luc, Son of Lord Dracula. It was then suggested that the gathering of humans would make a perfect community of thralls to protect the area and bring in new food to those that would stay on at the cave. Wherever those that have wandered and have lost the way in the Old World, it was decided then that this area in the New World would be a sanctuary and home for all of the Kindred.
At that time, no one had suspected the danger to the Council and any of the Kindred. The thralls who would have given warning prior to the disaster were also deceived by the Others.
There was no inclination prior to that night as to the nature of those that were at what the humans called the “Horned-A Ranch” or sometimes referred to as the “No Belly-Acres” to which is still a bit of a mystery to me.
Sighing, the blond-haired male dipped his bone tipped pen into a tiny overturned skull that served as an inkwell. His age was greater than that of Dracula, Lord of the Vampires, but he had no such ambitions or lust of power. Beginning his first life during the human dark ages, he appeared in his early thirty’s. His undead life began when the human populations had declined by a third due to over-predation, laws were passed to save the primary food source for all of the Kindred. as he continued his sworn statement on the events of that terrible night, he felt his throat constrict from the memory of fear.
The first of the week, the hunt went well around the Great Cave. There was feedstock that traveled in groups to the party. Some traveled in small groups, some by pairs. A few larger groups were left alone so as not to alarm the humans at the destination. One location that had used cliff dwellings of the Anasazi, wiped out by the over hunting of the Chupacabra Clan, that a group took shelter for the night where the hunters found them. Several thralls were made, one was embraced as Kindred and the rest were used as needed.
The selection of the High Council came to the final vote. Only the best claims to the seat of Chancellor were left to be heard. Count Dracula had left a legacy that was difficult to fill, some said it would never be filled properly. Others said it was a matter of perception and that a good strong leader would put fear back into the humans and they would no longer have the wish to hunt any on the Night’s Children.
On the night of the Last Day of October, the vote had been made. The announcement of the new Chancellor would be made at the end of the feeding and the decision would be final. Upon the signal of Marya Zaleska, daughter of the Count as her last act as Steward, the host departed the Great Cave and headed out in the night sky to the human gathering. This was the beginning of the end of our civilization as we knew it.
As the Hunting Party arrived at the humans All-Hallows Eve celebration, we mixed with the feedstock, waiting until the Midnight Hour struck to feed. Awk, King of the Clan Ondode, explained to the host of the human party that they were to stay calm as the feeding commenced. The human male who was host of the party, would not bend to the will of my brother. A mental struggle for control ensued with King Awk calling me over to mediate and explain to the human that resistance was pointless
He sighed, rubbed his eyes for a moment, a sound near him drew his attention.
The Regent’s thrall brought a new inkwell made of a small skull of some unidentified creature. He knew it was difficult for Sargon, one day the Kindred would regain the position that was taken from them on that terrible night.
Sargon dipped his pen into the ink and continued writing without looking up.
When I sat at the table, I tried to use my mind to force the male human named ‘Gilbert’ into accepting that he and his party were going to be used and fed upon. This human told us to act as guests and that we would not be allowed to harm anyone. It was then about five minutes to the stroke of Midnight. The time of the feeding for the clans after such a long and arduous meeting.
My brother the King, the great Awk, was among the most physically intimidating of the Old World Wampyr clans. Humans would not look at him directly because of his sheer physical intimidation. He stood over two meters in height and about one-hundred fifty kilograms. Gil, however looked him in the eye and just stated that we were not the most powerful of beings and that the whole of the Gathering were to behave as guests. All of the Old and New World Kindred were welcome if we remained peaceful, but that if anyone of the Hunting Party were to attempt to feed outside of what foot was set out, that is with any guests, they would be dealt with severely.
At this point, Awk was confused. Awk was unable to control the human that he had spoken with and, until that night, I had never met a human that would not be frightened or unmoved by mind control that we possess as all of the Embraced do.
It was at this time that I first felt the unease as to what the humans truly were. Six Wampyre and Chupacabra in the shape of human children sat at the feet of one white-haired human male who was telling them stories as a an adult human would to real children. He leaned on a silver-handled walking stick and had the look of wisdom about him. They selected him as the first of the feeding by those that sat near him.
Wynn, the hostess of the party and Gil’s wife sat at the table. This human I tried to gain control over, only to be rejected so harshly by her mind that it caused me physical pain.
Dipping his pen back into the gall ink, Sargon the III continued writing his testimony after taking a swallow from a golden goblet of thick blood-colored wine, the thought of that agony rebounded in his memory. So long ago, years in fact, but there was no distance enough or time passed enough from that place to where he now sat. His life was down to hunting rodents for sustenance, a few of the Embraced had made forays into hunting of humans again, using thralls to take the punishment in the event that they were found out, but it was a dangerous life due to the vampire hunters, as they called themselves, had been stalking any clan. Many had died at the hands of these humans, many more hid in fear, few felt that they still sat at the top of the food-chain.
Shaking his head at that thought, the once proud Scribe of Regents went back to his discourse of the events. It was the order of the Acting Chancellor of the Council to investigate and try to secure her position at the seat of power, although none of the Regents were truly representing any clan. The power vacuum led to a struggle that haunted all the True Vampire clans.
Sargon just wanted to do as humans did now and again. Get completely drunk and wake up days or weeks later. One thing he had a vague memory of, when Sargon II the Great embraced him after the end of a fight that left a knife in his back, of drunken singing and a lusty women that kept pressing their ample breasts in his face, a faint but good memory.
In that moment, I knew that we had to leave the area. The leader of the Chupacabra, RedNova Du Caudray, who had made herself a seat on the High Council, was in agreement. I tried to get my King to come with us, but he was in a contest of wills with the human host of the party, I had to strike him across the back of the head to get his attention. He was so engrossed on forcing the human to submit he no longer took notice that the human was not even paying attention to the Great Awk. I tried to warn others to leave the party, but the hour struck and the feast of the new Regents had begun, what our history would record as the single greatest disaster that led to the genocide of almost all of the Nights Children.
The first attack my Sire, Rednova Du Caudray and I witnessed. Six of the small Wampyre and Chupacabra that sat at the foot of this human-looking male had leaped up at him with fangs and claws out. Those Kindred appeared to dissipate as smoke does in a wind. Later this was found to be the Angel of Death, one of the Others.
Sargon shuddered, reaching for his goblet that the Thrall from the High Council kept filling with wine. After a gulp, Sargon returned to the paper.
What should have been an easy kill, one of the Lilu clan launched himself at a small female, and he was grabbed by the throat and held at arms-length by the human who then showed her true colors. She proved she was not human by opening her mouth as an alligator and swallowed that Hunter whole. I learned this was Abaddon, King of the Demons, never has there been record or mention of Angels or Demons among us before this night.
I witnessed another Kindred thrown through a wall by another human that was not human, opening a hole that King Awk, Lady RedNova and myself escaped out of. We attacked no one and told every one of the Clans to flee. Several heeded our words, many were struck down.
We ran and made our way out the back of the farm and between large barrel-stands of wine and beer. We watched attacks against the hostess of the party, Wynn Bron, who spread wings of an Angel and she fought alongside three demons, slaughtering their way through a group of the Hunting Party. Running, we changed form to burrow creatures and escaped to fields nearby. We made our way to a depression in the land and out of site of the demons and angels. Against my advice, Awk became a bat and tried to fly away, only to explode into ashes as a great bolt of light struck him as he took to the air.
Sargon put down the bone-tipped pen,picked up his royal cup and swallowed wine, feeling the effect of the liquor, he turned back to his account of the disaster.
Lady Du Caudray stayed with me as we left the killing behind and returned to the Great Cave hours later, just before dawn. Of the Gathering, entire Clans did not return. Chupacabra Clan was reduced to less than a score of members. No one of the Wendigo clan returned to the cave, of the powerful Clan Dracul, only Marya remains. I am now the leader of the Clan Ondode, few of us survive and out of a total of seven-thousand Kindred that attended, fewer than thirty survived that night. The Clan Chupacabra and the Clan Ondode are to combine, there is no more that can be done.
Sighing, if a vampire could cry, he would have flooded his castle. His mate, the Lady RedNova Du Caudray, Empress of the Clan Chupacabra, put her hand on his shoulder.
“You have finished and the sun also rises. Sign it and send it away, beloved.”
Sargon nodded and put the pen to paper.
This is my sworn testimony of the true events witnessed by me on the Night Of Death on Samhain for all Kindred.
Sargon III, King of the Ondode
Reblogged on WordPress.com
Chapter 35. Familiar Face
Tom and Kaylee left the office and as soon as the door closed behind them, Kaylee spoke first.
“I don’t think that person was happy with you. She was quite upset about just filing the plan then she had cancel it.”
“She’ll recover.” Tom nodded. “Right now I have to call the exchange. Did you like the crew on the last flight?”
“Yes, what was her name.” Kaylee grumbled at her senior moment.”
“Watson?” Tom asked helpfully.
“YEAH! That’s her. Captain R. M. Watson.” Kaylee nodded her head.
“Good woman. She flew in Iraq and other places that I can’t recall. Multiple ratings. I request her a lot, the company knows my account number and gives me a list on who is available. She is the only woman on their staff that is multi-engine jet rated.” Tom described his history with the company.
“They only have one woman on staff?” Kaylee blinked, for a moment she felt that old urge to boycott.
“No, they have others,” Tom smiled as they walked, holding hand. “She is the only one rated for multi-engine jet.”
“Oh.” Kaylee laughed. “I was going to use another company if they didn’t hire women.”
“Oh no. Lettie, my NorCal Limo owner is a major investor. I would doubt that they’d make a glass ceiling. Could happen,” Tom pondered “But if Lettie found out? I’d run if I were them.”
“OH! I know Lettie! She picked me up from when we hit the birds.”
“Oh yes. That was a special favor, normally they don’t take limos off the pavement.” Tom smiled. “She is a rare one.”
“She said you helped them get a start?” Kaylee leaned her head on Tom’s shoulder for a moment while they walked.
“Not precisely. I just keep them on retainer and speed dial.” Tom said. “I direct business their way. They only have a few cars and I think only four drivers. Lettie and her cousins.”
“They have a post-grad psych major working for them. A guy named Kaikane.”
“He is. You get points for paying attention.”
“I don’t know Kaikane.”
“He knows you.”
“I get that a lot.”
“You are likeable.”
“Am not.” He argued.
“I’m going to slap you.” She growled at the lack of his self-confidence.
“Promise? We won’t have the chance for a mile-high fun time.”
“Seriously. You need to relax on yourself, you need someone to keep you…” She paused, looking for the words. “Well, not on your best you always seem at your best, but keep you from being so dark.”
“Your books will show that and if you are writing children’s stories, you need to keep them light.” Kaylee looked at him evenly with the soul of a woman who would protect the one she cared for, even from himself. “You write beautiful words like no one I know. Probably as good as any of the great writers. Even like Joyce and Steinbeck or Hemingway. But you don’t have to go all Edgar Allan Poe to do it.”
She paused and took a breath before pushing on with the thought.
“Tom,” She kissed his hand and looked into his eyes. “Don’t go back into that hole you locked yourself up into for a while.”
“What makes you think I am going back into anything?” Tom smiled. “You have given me light and passion. We are ending a contract in a way that protects you. I am not emotionally broken, I could have invested in it emotionally if I thought that you were sober and we spent some time together.”
He kissed her hand and smiled before he continued.
“Not baked, drunk and horny as you were. I can say I am fond of you, and that extends into friendship. And yes. I want you to stay, but not at the cost of a future.” His voice was soft, covering up a hidden emotion.
Kaylee thought a minute as they waited for Lettie to arrive with a limo. Tom’s speed dial rang her phone directly and he had told her of the situation.
“You are the best man I know, next to my dad.”
“I would like to meet him, someday.”
“Are you kidding? He would die to meet you. Steamland, if there is anything written by you on that series, he has it.”
“Heh, I bet he is almost my age.”
“I think you are older.”
“Oh. Um. Yikes!” Tom laughed. “He might greet me with a shotgun.”
“No, I think he’d be happy to have you in the family.” A twinkle in her eye showed her humor. “Even if you did corrupt his daughter.”
“TMI sweety.” Tom closed his eyes as if to block out the scene.
“Kidding.” Kaylee laughed.
A dark limo wheeled in. It was Lettie.
“Tom! Kaylee !” She seemed happy to see them. “It seems like we just left you both in the Sea Dragon.” She her smile was wide and bright.
“We need a ride to the Executive Airport to the private entrance.”
“Let’s go. Traffic is good, I can get you there in thirty minutes.”
“I will pay you for two hours. The plane won’t be ready until then, take us to The City to drive through the park and down the beach.”
“Hm. Tom, if I may suggest, from here? Let me take you to Half Moon Bay and then up along the coastal highway. We can pull in, then you and Kaylee can walk on the sand.”
“We…” Tom stopped for a moment as if something caught in his throat. “We are heading to Vegas to get an annulment.”
“WHAT? No…” Lettie caught herself and the professional woman came back to grips. “Sorry, Tom. But my opinion, she makes you smile. Kaylee , for a girl who was so mad at him a few days ago, you have a glorious soul that’s been touched by this gentle man.”
Motioning the couple into her limo, Lettie’s strained smile stayed frozen to her lips.
“That is all I will say on the subject. I apologize. Not my place and I’d fire anyone who did what I just did.” Lettie said. “One trip through Golden Gate Park, back to Executive. Do you have your transport taken care of?”
“Yes, thank you.” Tom smiled.
The Lettie close the door and got in the front of the stretched limousine.
“What was that all about?” Kaylee asked Tom.
“Lettie is kind of protective. But she has a point. I can switch companies if it would make you feel better.”
“No, actually, it makes me smile. Tom. Only someone special can evoke that kind of emotion in people, someone who people would stand up for. If I can come back and marry you?” Kaylee ’s eyes shined with tears. “I want to invite all your friends. From pilots, to writers, to limo drivers and everyone I can find that calls you by your first name.”
“Um. That is everyone I meet. I insist to dispense with formality. I am no better than anyone.”
“You are a great writer. Not many people can do that. PLUS!” Kaylee raised her index finger and touched the tip of his nose with it. “You do more for the fire fighters than just with your fleet of water bombers.”
“Water bombers? What… OH! Air tankers. How did you know about the tankers?” Tom blinked.
“I…” She bit her lip. “Well, I looked on your history in your computer back at the Pacific Wizard.”
“Ah. No.” A guilty laugh. “I was mad and curious and alone. You have internet on your computer at the Wizard and I logged into the guest accounts. Your name is all over the net.” Kaylee said.
“Ah. Yes.” Tom mimicked her.
“No problem. So you know about my aerial firefighting air-force that some states won’t use.” Tom smiled. “It works in most states, California is a bit more… Picky.”
“You have changed the subject. We need to talk and have this understood.”
“Well, technically, you changed the subject.” The quick mind of the writer did mental gymnastics around their conversation.
“Don’t change the changed subject.” Kaylee laughed. “The point is, you deserve more happiness than you have. And we can do it together if you and I start on a proper friendship and wedding.”
“Okay, I think we can do that. But you go take good and well care of Glenn. I’ll be your little secret.”
“Little? Little would be if you were an undergrad student of art, but you are a successful writer.” Kaylee shook her head, laughing. “AND, mister, you have two private flying yachts and your own personal air force and I don’t how many non-profit organizations that you have listed as getting support from you. So I would not call you little in any description.”
“Well, tell you what. We split the sheets on this and you decide that this accident was a good thing to happen. We’ll have that wedding for you.”
“Not for me. For you. You should be honored. My family and friends combined couldn’t fill four rows in a church. I tend towards the shy side.”
“Shy? You? Shy like a hurricane. Let me see,” Tom smiled. “You have skills in karate…”
“Yeah, that.” Tom smiled. “You like to lay naked on a beach, you are a bartender and you would not surrender in any meek way to a large man with a knife. And. If I recall he had at least a hundred pounds and a foot taller than you are and you still kicked the living poop out of him.”
“Heh!” Kaylee laughed. “Yeah, I did. It felt good, too. He wanted to hurt me, and I was in the proper mood to return the favor.”
“That is all too true, you are good.” Tom gave a quiet laugh at the memory. “I would have not ever missed that show for anything. It was fun to watch, shocking, but fun to watch.”
“You know, I might write about it someday.” He said more to himself than her.
“I would like to read that. Make me as an avenging angel.” Kaylee smiled.
“You can be sure.” Tom nodded. “I would make you that and more.”
The limousine pulled into the Golden Gate Park and drove around the green strip. Tom pointed out an archery range and a giant windmill as they drove by.
Talking happily with each other, two people enjoying their hearts and souls. Knowing that it would come to an all too soon end. They learned more about each other while Tom poured wine in glasses for the both of them and fed Kaylee dark chocolates from a crystal jar he purchased from a tiny, exclusive shop he made Lettie stop at in the Height-Ashbury district. Little more than a hole-in-the-wall near a Whole Foods store on Stanyon, he ran in and out in a minute, Tom’s wounded, but healing arm flapping painfully as he stepped hard off the curb.
It was an unplanned celebration.
Two people celebrating friendship and the strange path that brought them together.
After their second circuit of famous park, Tom leaned over to Kaylee and kissed her slowly with chocolate flavored lips from a San Francisco hidden candy-store.
“Let’s go get unmarried.” Tom whispered without conviction. “The time is now.”
“Okay.” She said, looking down into the glass of her wine, the sadness of the moment setting into her heart.
“This has been very enjoyable, Tom. You make it more difficult by being so nice.”
“You want to stay?”
“Yes. And no. I want my chance with Glenn.”
Tom stopped the conversation and toned Lettie to drive them to the airport with the phone from the back of the limousine.
“Time to go, thank you very much Lettie.”
They rode in awkward silence to the airport, the atmosphere in the limo becoming darker and increasingly tense.
“It will be okay.” Tom said, holding Kaylee ’s hand.
“Thank you.” She made a sad smile.
Together, two lovers and friends rode to the airport to fly to Las Vegas, to get “un-married”.
She asks in the digital Facebook, “Any last-minute advice?”
My comment, assuming there is not a gender restriction, although I can admit that it sounded like she aimed for those mom’s that have gone through it before, “Don’t get pregnant in the first place? Passing a bowling ball through your eye socket would be less painful.”
Her friends called me the awkward uncle.
Well. No. Just wise. I have delivered 17 babies, most on mountain roads with drive times still greater than half-hour. I have observed the pain women-folk go through – and I have seen the men-folk panic, and even faint. (I found out later that one of these passed-out pops played as captain of the football team and was “used to pain.”)
I can speak Awkward, and a few other languages. Gibberish, Klingon, Confusion. Political gives me trouble. I still don’t understand that doublespeak tripe, especially if they say something akin “What is good for me is over your head, so we will take it from you.”
Heh, I still think they should just open a brothel (for men and women) in the capital building so they can get enough of screwing people to get down to real business.
But I digress. Sorry.
Anyway, by the time anyone delivers a baby, they get to a point where they crush the husband/boyfriend/significant other’s fingers (Or mine when I was green-ish, it only happened once – I learned quick) and utter a 3 word demand.
“I want DRUGS!”
(Laugh allowed at this point and the mom’s out there can nod heads with a knowing smile)
But no matter what you say. Any part of the family of phrases “I won’t want to do this anymore.” Has been said since before recorded history, because the baby is coming and you are on a non-stop ride.
Unless c-section intervention, but that is another ball-game.
So ladies, no offense, but those that have one child and don’t learn? Then go ahead and have another? Then another?
You all remind me of George of the Jungle.
“Watch out for that Tree… oOoH.”
Then you get on that vine again and swing for it.
“Watch out for that Tree… That’s gotta hurt.”
“Watch … never mind.” I’ll just go sit in the backyard with my bow, laptop to write and seltzer water in the shade.
keep telling myself: “Ain’t my circus. I’m just the Awkward Uncle.”
Now off to do compose some fiction. I have a bunch of voices pop up last night in my sleep, a few were frightening.
I hope to get you a chapter in something.
I’ll have it posted in five hours.
“Angel of Death and the Scandal in Sandals”
Finis a muscular, broad-shouldered type that bore a strong resemblance Santa Claus with his white hair and beard. Today, he enjoyment the shade this public park.
He was often referred to by his work name -Death, and today he chose to take the afternoon off, relaxing in the shade of the trees, he listened to children playing in the sandbox — a good sound, full of life and a balm to his soul.
He closed his eyes and inhaled the blessed perfumes of pine, elm and grass when a jewish carpenter tapped him on the shoulder and offered white-haired occupant of the bench a cup of wine from his bottle of “Never Empty” brand of Merlot.
“You know drinking in public is against the law.” He said to the smiling rabbi as he tipped the bottle to the wine glass.
“Are you going to complain, or drink?” As he handed the wine to Finis.
“You are a bad influence on me.” Finis said, laughing. “I don’t take time off and drinking wine is a scandal in the park.”
The two men chatted for a while, a good rivalry had developed between the two friends, long before either of them cared to think. This crazy carpenter held the unique position of defeating him in the universal contest that everyone, everywhere, struggles with, and against, walking with the Angel of Death.
Finis never held it against the wandering rabbi, they both walked a path that was similar and shared some laughs. But where the carpenter enjoyed his position, Finis hated his job.
No one ran towards Finis with peace in their hearts. If and when they did, it was always the darkness that drove them.
It was depressing.
So the sharing of wine with the scandal in sandals was always enjoyable. Finis tore a sourdough baguette in two and handed one-half to the long-haired friend and good-natured rival.
They were talking peacefully when a drug dealer and his entourage walk into the park and caused a change in the mood of the playground. Mothers gathered their children and ran from the area in abject fear, ending the joyous sound of children’s laugh and play.
The absence of sound drew the two gentlemen’s attention while they sat on the bench and began to frown as they discussed the change in the air. One white-haired man with a graceful, silver-handled cane, another who wore a peasant shirt, threadbare but clean dungaree shorts and sandals. They continued to shared wine and bread while the park’s atmosphere altered from one of family to one of the business of crime.
It seemed colder and more unwelcome than before when the five-year-old girl raced ahead of her mom to climb and take her turn at the slide.
“This is our park, you need to pay to stay.” The tattoo of tears on the face of the bald leader in contrast to the sparkling anger of his eyes. The two benchwarmers looked first at each other, then the white haired one with the cane looked back at him with a slight smile.
“We were here first and we are just enjoying the shade.”
“You want a piece of me?” The dealer hissed dawing a sidearm. “I said you had to pay to stay, now you just have to pay.”
“Roberto, I don’t get to see you for another three-years, seven-months and twelve days.” White-hair said in a matter-of-fact tone, as if he read it out of a book.
“Finis.” The smaller carpenter cautioned. “No messing with him. But, if you …”
“Fuckit. You go to the hospital with holes.” Roberto aimed his pistol at the face of the carpenter. White-hair grabbed the hand and weapon with cat-like speed.
“You have no idea how close to death you are right now, young man.” Finis stared into the eyes of the thug. “And that gent right there is your only saving grace.”
Fear burned at the soul of the human as the Angel of Death invaded his mind with images that changed his life.
“This carpenter right here will lead you back, but of it were me? I will just take you away. Talk to him, open your heart. If you talk to me, it will be with your last breath, and you would suffer in the most biblical of ways.”
In the following minutes, the three men, a white-haired Santa Claus and a jewish carpenter sat and talked of everything they could think of with the shaven and tattoo covered leader and dealer of drugs.
Roberto, the gangster known as “The Bull”, discovered a change in his life, he had met death that day and found Jesus.
Roberto “The Bull” Roman was lucky, indeed.
Death was on holiday.
Finis, the muscular Santa Claus type, sat on the bench enjoying the life and activity in the public park.
Death chose to take an afternoon off, relaxing in the shade of the trees, he listened to children playing in the sandbox — a good sound, full of life and a balm to the soul.
He was closing his eyes and inhaling the blessed perfumes of pine, elm and grass when a jewish carpenter tapped him on the shoulder and offered snow-maned occupant of the bench a cup of wine from his bottle of “Never Empty” brand of Merlot.
“You know, drinking of alcohol in the public park is illegal here.” He gratefully accepted the cup.
“Are you going to talk or drink?”
“You only filled it half-way.” Finis said, his companion laughing and topping up his glass. “And we can visit at the same time.”
The sharing of illegal drinking of wine with the scandal in sandals was always enjoyable. Finis tore off a large peice of a baguette he carried in a bag and handed it to the long-haired friend and good-natured rival, fishing out a bar of dark chocolate, he broke it in half and balanced it on top of the broken bread.
“Humans here relish this.” He said and both men nodded. One of the discoveries of man that was enjoyable on many levels.
The two men chatted for a while, a good rivalry had developed between the two years before. This crazy carpenter held the unique position of defeating him in the universal contest that everyone, everywhere struggles with, and against walking with the Angel of Death.
Finis never held it against the wandering rabbi, they both walked a path that was similar and shared some laughs. But where the carpenter enjoyed his position, Finis hated his job.
No one ran towards Finis with peace in their hearts. If and when they did, it was always a darkness that drove them.
It was depressing.
They were talking peacefully when a drug dealer and his entourage walked into the area and spread out to the different areas, staring at the families.
Terrified and intimidated mothers gathered their children and vacated the area in abject fear, ending the joyous sound like a cold rain.
The descending silence drew the attention of the two solitary gentlemen sitting on the bench who frowned as they discussed the change in the air.
The gang leader looked at the two men, they seemed clueless to where they were. They sat in a dangerous part of town and a lesson was about to be taught.
This was HIS park.
One, a white-haired man with a long silver-handled cane, and the other who wore a peasant shirt, well-worn but clean denim shorts and sandals. They were openly sharing wine and bread while the park changed from one of family fun to one of the business of crime.
They two friends commented to each other that it seemed colder and more unwelcoming than before, when a five-year-old girl raced ahead of her mom to climb and take her turn at the slide.
The drug dealer could hear them discussing his crew as he walked up.
“This is our park, you need to pay to stay.” The tattoo of tears on the face of the bald leader in contrast to the sparkling hatred of his eyes.
The two benchwarmers looked first at each other, then the white-haired one with the cane looked back at him with a slight smile.
“We were here first and we are just enjoying the shade.”
“You want a piece of me?” The dealer hissed drawing a sidearm. “I said you had to pay to stay, now you just have to pay.”
“Roberto, I don’t get to see you for another three-years, four months, twelve days.” White-hair said matter-of-factly, no anger, but the old man’s tone was even.
“Finis.” The smaller carpenter cautioned. “No messing with him. But, if you …”
“Fuckit. You go to the hospital with holes.” Roberto aimed his pistol at the face of the carpenter. White-hair grabbed the hand and weapon with cat-like speed.
“You have no idea how close to death you are right now, young man.” Finis stared into the eyes of the thug. “And that gent right there is your only saving grace.”
The fear burning at the soul of the human as the Angel of Death invaded his mind with images that changed his life.
“This carpenter right here will lead you back, but of it were me? I will just take you away. Talk to him, open your heart. If you talk to me, it will be with your last breath, and you would suffer in the most biblical of ways.”
In the following minutes, the two men, a white-haired Santa Claus type and a jewish carpenter sat and talked of everything they could think of with the shaven and tattoo leader and dealer of drugs. Roberto the gangster known as “The Bull” discovered a change in his life, he had met death that day and found Jesus.
Roberto “The Bull” Roman was lucky, Death was off duty.
The lunch break
Doctor Nickosla Jones, Trauma surgeon of the St. Osmium Medical Center sat with a cup of coffee and a dry toasted english muffin. The shift had been severe. A cold night after a snow filled month and then a couple warm days.
Black ice had taken a toll on the average person. The latest victim, an elderly professor at the Ion University, walked out his drive with a bar to break up the ice, and slipped.
The on-scene EMS crews there put the unconscious instructor of physics on a helicopter and flew him straight to the St. Oz’s with posturing, and a subarachnoid bleed that they recognized straight away.
The only question was how long the injured man lay on the ice, out if sight of the house and anyone from the street. Only when his wife noticed he had not left for his early classes did she walk outside and discover her husband of two-millenia, two centuries and six-decades, laying in a freezing pool of blood from the laceration on the back of his head.
The surgery had been long and draining. The bleeding and fractures to the skull were not his only problems, spinal pressure from the neck injury complicated the treatment protocols as the teams moved from one problem to the next.
Finally, they closed and the patient went to the recovery, one alarming moment, the patient’s blood pressure dropped alarmingly, Nick and the other fellows rushed in, and after an intense hour, restored homeostasis as much as possible.
Professor Hecate Budd still was alive.
And Doctor Jones was tired.
No, not tired. Exhausted.
And he still had an hours drive home to do.
He was debating about going to the local hotel down the street and just logging some sleep for a few hours when he looked up and saw him.
White hair, a goatee that he kept well-trimmed and the affectation of the silver-handled cane that he started to carry in the long-ago past.
“Good job,” The one called Finis said, handing a latte to the Doctor. “Your patient will live, in spite of going horizontal for about a half-second.”
The goatee widened in a smile. Sparkling eyes shown behind the rose-colored glasses.
“Yeah, but he was fixing to die on us up there.”
“That medic on scene did a good job, he called it on the money by putting him in a helicopter and flying him here.” Finis nodded. “Besides, he had you. That made all the difference.”
A pretty young woman came up and tapped Finis on the shoulder and held up a tablet computer that Finis tapped on names.
“He has family waiting. Take his wife to him.” Finis nodded. “That will help.”
The woman nodded and tapped on the tablet.
Another name, she handed the tablet back to her boss and let him read it.
“This is expected.” Finis frowned. “You did not need to bring this to my attention. She will be leaving soon, family is on their way.”
“Sorry, the calls never quit.” He apologized to Nick.
“No, no. Don’t apologize, I know as well as anyone.” Nick sipped the fresh coffee and steamed milk.
“Yes, you do, as anyone in the center here knows. You are well taught and talented, but they are still overwhelmed.” Finis shook his head. “The hospital’s understaffed. When was the last time you took a day away from this house of craziness.”
“Yeah, well, it is the path I chose a long time ago.”
“Right after you nearly drowned.”
“Yeah. That was the first time I met you.” The doctor said.
“Well, it was a good meeting. It pushed you in the direction you took in school.” Finis looked around as the woman approached again from the hallway. No one noticing her except the two men. “You were a bit of drug-oriented rebel in those days.”
The woman spoke in Finis’ ear again, slipping the tablet into his hands.
“No, this is not right.” He shook his head. “His schedule is not yet finished, he’s scheduled for another week of therapy, then I have to go talk to him.”
She nodded and walked off to do her boss’s bidding.
“The same lecture I gave you when you were being stupid and jumped off that bridge into the river, I am giving to this young man. Unlike yours were at that age, his options are limited. He has not finished school and he’s twenty with a damaged liver.”
“He still could become something.”
“Perhaps you should talk to him.” Finis shook his head. “If I do it, he will have bladder incontinence issues for a week.”
“Not going to handle him gently, old man?” Nick chuckled and took a bite of his dry toast.
“Two things.” Finis gave a crooked smile. “One, I am always gentle. But I will get my way, no one says no to me for very long. And TWO, do not call me old.”
Nick chuckled. Both those statements were true. No one could deny the handsome gentleman that sat at the table sipping on his own latte.
Finis stood six-foot tall, his white hair hung to his shoulders when loose, but often he kept it pulled back into a pony-tail.
Broad at the shoulder, large of bicep and narrow at the hip, the effect was one of a Santa Claus that spent too much time in the gym. He really did not need the affectation of the cane he used to disarm people as a grandfatherly type.
And he was hysterical to listen to when he was working, always looking at a bright spot that no one expected and could poke fun at it.
Only once did he see the keeper of the cane become angry, it was not a pleasant thing to see. The doctor learned that the subordinate involved ended up being a yard watcher at a bone-yard.
Looking at a young man reading a comic book, Finis sighed at the graphic of a cloaked monster with a scythe in hand.
“I wish, someday that I could entrust this job to someone else, then I could talk to children of the views they find in those, “ Finis paused looking for the words. “Graphic novels. Are not entirely accurate.”
He shook his head.
“Well, people do have a fear of a lot of things.”
“Yes,” Finis agreed. “But as a doctor, do you find them afraid of you?”
“Sometimes. I tell them the truth and they don’t always like it.”
“When I tell them the truth,” Finis grumbled. “They don’t believe me.”
The woman returned with the pad, but this time she had a worried look.
“Mister Sierra.” The only words she said as she handed Finis the tablet.
“Of course, he has no one. I need to go talk with him.” Finis signed the tablet and handed it back to her. “Nick, you did a fine job. The professor will leave this medical center on his own power. Don’t worry. I am not scheduled to meet with him for a long while yet.”
Looking back at the comic book the boy held.
“Maybe I should change my cane for something else? They make the cane into an edged weapon and I have no face.”
“Or a skull.” Nick nodded grimly. “You have to admit, you have a tough job.”
Nodding Finis stood up, shaking Nick’s hand. Old friends, Nick had met him when he nearly died as a teenager, the white-haired, smiling man directed him to medicine to do so much good.
Now, Nick felt a little sorry for him. Overworked and under-appreciated, the Angel of Death walked out of the cafeteria. A soul that hated his job and took it to heart that no one wanted to meet with him.
Always scheduling family to walk with the dearly departed, or walking with someone so they never made the trip alone, telling jokes or having conversations with them the entire journey. He was good at his job, and he hated it so much.
Doctor Jones shook his head and got up, the irony of it all was not lost on him.
T-Minus 2,775,168,000 Seconds
LucilleMay Adler born to George and Ethel grew up in Chicago on the poorest side of town. George was a warehouseman and had never had much time for his family. A heavy drinker by the time that Lucy was in her mid-teens. He died when he drove into a tree on his way home. Ejected from the overturning car, the intoxicated father struck his head on the hard ground and never woke from his injuries.
Lucy and her mother moved to California on suggestion of her aunt Lewellyn where she became involved with a young man who went to school. He impressed Lucy with his clear blue eyes and aspirations. The young man often would take Lucy on rides in the country as they sat with picnics under his favorite trees along the Marin headlands.
Trying his hand at farming, Joshua Sprecks was a failure. Buying the land around the hills in the southern bay area, they fought and struggled for years until a builder spoke with them about selling land so a home could be built.
Pausing to think, Joshua refused the offer. Instead, he spoke with an employee who helped him and in turn they looked into building a few houses which sold quickly.
In the years that followed, Joshua found he had talents in the business of home and subdivision design. With a good relationship with the local inspectors, Joshua Sprecks made his life comfortable for his growing family. His plans for schools that the children would attend were set as father blazed the trail by going back to school himself, becoming an architect of some renown in the area.
Shortly after the first of Lucy’s four children were born. Lucy developed an addiction to Valium, a common problem in the early years of the drug. Most of the women in her church were very much addicted to the Valium family of medications, and an active trade developed within the group as the hoarders would sell among the women that needed it at the moment.
One springtime afternoon, everyone had arrived at home from school and after finishing chores. The day was warm and beautiful and a wonderful time for the young. Joshua Junior promised he would be careful, Lucy’s smiled and allowed her eldest son to take the family car and drive his younger brother and two sisters to the store for sodas. Joshua Junior was always very careful at the wheel of the car, Lucy was always careful to teach him of his responsibilities. Teachings that he took to heart, always.
Alas the drunk driver that collided with them had no such guidance.
The light in Lucy’s eyes dimmed as she never quite recovered burying four of her five children. The only survivor of the accident that took the lives of all the children was the youngest who had to stay home to do homework.
Josh Sr. took the next offer of his three-hundred acre ranch and bought land in the Lake Tahoe area away from the metropolitan growing around their orchards. Houses built haphazardly without the plans that Joshua tried to include with his developments, and the effect was, to him, untenable.
It was not fair to Joshua Sprecks, who had no wish to stay in the area where his children died at the hands of a man who paid only a month’s worth of salary in fines.
And the patriarch of his surviving family could not suffer living in the shadow of the four headstones that marked the graves of his children, moved to the mountains, never to return willingly to the lands of his shattered dreams.
21. A Life Left Behind
Over the next few months, Kane met with other clan leaders who said that the other island across the channel had more raw materials that could be traded for and they needed a metal worker to replace one that had moved south with a daughter of a king. Kane thought it a good move, they could go across the water and then be lost in the mill of people of the age.
Bronwyn wept as she packed. This time was leaving for good. They had tried it once on the mainland, but the violence was testing both their tempers, highwaymen appeared time and again, attempting to take what they had traded for.
Kane carefully bundled his tools together in fine, waxed linen and placed them on the chariot that he had built to transport when he heard a small, familiar voice behind him.
“Uncle Kane, are you leaving?” It was Daigh, still carrying his favorite sculpted toy bird.
“Yes. Bronwyn and I are moving closer to where they mine for metals. We can trade much more cheaply there and make our useful wares and pretty things to sell.”
“Will you come back?” the eleven-year-old asked. His curly brown hair framing his sapphire-blue eyes.
“Only if you be good. You will know I have been here on that one night, when you have waited all year for new toys. I’ll sneak in and leave you and your friends something.” Kane winked.
“You ever break a promise.” The bright eyes of the young man who believed in the demon-in-hiding.
“Have I yet failed you?” Kane kneeled to look in the boy’s eye on his level.
Daigh softly laughed and shook his head, cheeks blushing as Kane found him out in doubting the hero of the village. Kane was one to keep promises. If Kane said it, gave his word. It would be so. If he did not give his word, he would do his best, but in the words of Kane “No promises.” which meant that there was a chance that he would not be able to do what he had hoped to do.
Kane stood up, checked and tightened down a braided leather rope, immensely strong, Daigh once saw Kane use what he called a pulley to lift a log on to a chariot to move it into the village where he made a huge dugout canoe, for the bonfire that year, with the death of a nearby King, they placed the body into the hollowed out log and then floated out on the sea. An arrow was lit and shot into the oil-soaked pile of branches upon which the King’s body lay. A funeral to which there was no equal that day.
But now, Kane and Bronwyn, the creator of such tasty treats in the kitchens and on holidays would go with Kane and live a life in another part of the world.
One woman who had whispered to Daigh’s mother one evening when they thought that there was something wrong with Kane and Bronwyn.
“They are not with children and are not getting old. It is strange I say.” She whispered one night.
“They could be tricksters among us.” She was one that was always having babies, so Daigh did not understand how they had tricked her into having another one. But Daigh told Kane who had pulled on his ear with an amused look.
“Well, the best trick is to teach you to keep your word. Never make a promise that you cannot keep or do not want to keep. If you give your word, you keep it even if you do not want to.”
Daigh and the other kids, Aed, Muirne, Cuinn all nodded. Always they kept their words to each other and told their parents the truth. Even if it would cost them some trouble, they knew that Kane would know, and then he would be mad at them.
THEN, he would be too busy to make new toys or mend old ones.
But today, he was leaving, many people would leave and some would return, others would move from other villages or change where they lived after gathering cattle at the end of the summer to bring the livestock in for protection of the cold and feed them. Calves were often born during these months and would often need feeding by hand. Older kids milked cows and goats, next year, it would be Daigh’s start to care for some of the beasts.
“Okay,” Kane said as he finished the knot and all the items were tight in the covered wagon. “We are good if it rains, we will have a sleeping area if we get stuck and we can get to the trade goods easily.”
Daigh stood there for a long moment as Kane tied the ponies to the draw bar of the wagons. The leather harnesses were something that Kane had put together with Daigh’s help and suggestions.
Kane again knelt, closer to the level with the pre-teen boy.
“This is what we have to do, Bronwyn and I. We came here the year after you were born. I have helped you learn things and you have learned well. You have a great mind, be a poet, tell the history of your people. Sing of the great things that will be. Kings will come, brave heroes. Even creatures that have come before people and now live in the forests and underground. I will be around,I will sneak in at harvest time.” Kane winked. “Think of me as a gnome or some other small spirit that will sneak around one night of the year and leave you something nice.”
Then Kane held up his index finger in admonishment.
“BUT! If you do not do your chores or do wrong to someone? I will leave you nothing, or worse, you will find a gift of twigs and rocks.”
With that, Daigh’s eyes got big.
“I will not forget! You will see Uncle Kane! I will be the best poet that history will ever know. I will sing songs about you that the world will think you were a great Brehon.”
“Thought I already was.” Kane said with a wink.
Bronwyn’s voice echoed slightly in the now-empty shop. She was ready to leave. All things that families were to take were so placed in order. Things remaining she had marked with strips of cloth in different colors that indicated different families.
“Hello Daigh. Come to see us off?” Bronwyn’s copper-colored hair hung down around her shoulders like a waterfall. She bent down so she was as tall as the eleven year old. “Kane has favored you. You do make him proud when you grow up?”
“Yes ma’am! He will hear about my stories and songs all over the world.” Daigh smiled. “I promise I will never stop telling stories about you and him.”
“Daigh, you are a wonderful young man.” Bronwyn kissed him on the cheek.
A gasp, Daigh was without words as, first his ears, then his entire face turned red.
Bronwyn laughed softly and hugged him.
“That is our little secret. You make me feel pretty.”
“Time to go, Bronwyn, climb up.” Kane said.
Daigh was still blushing as their wagon trundled out the gates and disappeared. Feeling a little sad as he turned to walk away. His heart was hurting and, in a small way, lonely, until he remembered, they would be back in a few months at harvest time!
Daigh skipped back to the center of the village where the other kids were. His embarrassment forgotten as his attention span was that of any child.
End Of Book One? (who wants more?)
20. Bone Fire
Autumn had come to the green island, Daigh danced around on his feet, carving a turnip and put a candle in it to show Kane that he paid attention to the stories that he would tell to the children at night.
His sister, Daigh thought, was in love with one of Kane’s character’s in the story. A man who traveled the world, stealing from the rich and using the treasures to keep the people of a far off land safe, warm and dry. The green man, some called him.
Then Bronwyn, his wife, would often push Kane off his log when he told these stories, laughing at him and saying he was telling it wrong.
But Daigh did not care, each word, each syllable was an adventure. Kane laughed as he would sometimes make a sudden movement and raise his hands, scaring them.
But Daigh did not care, each word, each syllable was an adventure. Kane laughed as he would sometimes make a sudden movement and raise his hands, scaring them.
Lately, as they piled stacks of wood on surrounding hills, Kane would smoke with a long clay pipe, pondering over a sheet of copper that had come to him from the east coast of the lands.
Kane called it “Sunrise” metal, from where it came from.
“It come from the coast from where the sun comes up.” He told Daigh. Then go back to his contemplative mood and just stare at the metal while leaning on his work bench. Turning ingot – really just a sheet of metal over in his hands, he watched a boy run past his shop while his mind ran with plans for the red metal.
Laughing, Daigh ran with his carved wooden bird.
On the end of a stick, he could feel it’s carved feathers flutter as he held it up in the wind as his feet made the wind rush through his hair, it was a marvel of a toy. Each wing held by a bronze spring, each feather carefully carved by Bronwyn were held in place by a spring that Kane painstakingly embedded in the wood with a small metal “quill” attaching to the suspended wing.
“DAIGH! Look out!” Kane yelled, only to cover his eyes with a calloused hand as the boy ran head-long into Muirne, wife of Finn of the Joining Streams. Curiousity forced him to peek between his fingers.
Kane laughed as Daigh bounced off of the larger woman who also staggered backwards and sat down into a bucket of water.
Kane hid his face in his hands, not really wanting to see the chaos when a voice made him turn around. It was Finis, once again after a long absence he stepped out of an unobserved area of the shop and near where Kane contemplated what to do with this sheet of copper.
“What makes you wonder about that round ingot so much, Coppersmite?” Finis used his term for a smith that beats on metals.
“OH! You startled me. After two-years and then eight years before that you have been away. What brings you to us now?”
Daigh was walking back after his lecture from the wet-bottomed woman about being careful and running in crowds. Although he was ten, he was tall for his age and ran like the wind, even still, Muirne was larger than he was by half again.
But now, his wooden bird that made him dream of flight was hanging, broken-winged on his stick.
“Kane, can you fix this?” He asked as he came in from the outside, not seeing Finis at first. “Oh hullo.”
Daigh tilted his head to one side. “I don’t know you.”
“No,” the white-haired traveler said. “you are not to meet me for another…”
“Finis.” Kane interrupted. “No.”
The Angel of Death shrugged.
“No, you don’t know me, I am just here to greet Kane and talk a while.”
Kane looked over the bird’s wing.
“See, here, the bronze brace is bent. It won’t let the wing flap in the wind properly. I can fix it easily.” Kane pulled at the fitting. “I made it to flex some. It is not easy to break, but it will bend. I will heat it up and straighten it.”
“Thank you Uncle Kane! I will wait, you make the best toys!”
Finis chuckled as the boy bounced on the hardwood of the floor of the shop.
Turning to Finis, Daigh began talking while Kane worked out the fitting while he frowned at the Angel of Death.
“I have never seen anyone with hair like yours, you keep your hair white. What are the beads in your whiskers?
“Well, young master.” He pulled at the beads in his mustache, “I have gotten these gems in the many places I have traveled. I have traveled far and they were gifts from those that have walked with me.”
“They give you things to walk with you?”
“HO! No, no. They sometimes give me things to not walk with them…”
“Finis.” Kane stopped working and was walking back. “Daigh, the toy’s done and fixed. Try not to run into people, or worse, trees and buildings? Okay?”
“Or off cliffs” Finis added. “No need to rush things.”
Daigh looked curiously at the old man.
Pausing for a moment. The Angel of Death pulled the gems out of his mustache.
“Hold on to these for me. Don’t ever spend them or trade them for anything. Perhaps Kane here will build you a small box to put them in. Each time you need a favor from me, I will take one of the gems. So there you have how many?”
Counting the sparkling stones.
“I have twenty-four gems.”
“Correct. For such a good-looking young man, you get that many favors for as long as you have the stones. These are special gems. Do not give them away. They cannot be stolen, someone who takes them from you, I will know and I will bring them back.”
“That would be scary.” Kane said softly behind Finis.
“What? Why?” Daigh asked.
“Never mind. A kind of joke.” Kane chuckled as he spoke, shaking his head.
Then Kane handed Daigh his toy back.
Daigh ran out with his bird flapping on the stick again. Happy as he could be, yelling “thanks!” over his shoulder to Kane.
“Bonfires are in three days, it will be the end of the harvest and then the spirits of the underworld will walk. People will dress up and drink the beer that has fermented for weeks in the copper kettles I built that are down where the two streams meet. Almost more than this community could drink per person in total. I calculated it out on the largest of the residents and then took the smallest of adults of men and women and did the math.
Finis cleared his throat.
“I have come to point out a few things.” Finis said. “Bronwyn should also be here.”
“You can stay for the evening meal. She and the other women are cooking now.”
“Aye. I can smell it. But you should also know, there are those that are noticing that you and she are not aging. One woman is calling it magic. She has already spoke with the high priestess.
Finis stood and watched Bronwyn approach. Hugging her when she entered the smith-shop.
“I want to ask, what is wrong with Gretna?”
“Sad news,” Finis shook his head. “she has cancer. She knows, a lump that she found in her breast has spread to other areas. In years to come, the illness will be known as consumption. Her weight has already gone down if you have noticed.”
“I have, she is thinner I have noticed.” Bronwyn felt like crying.
“She will walk with me before the weather gets warmer in the spring. I have come to meet with you and say that you need to consider moving on. Your lack of aging and children will soon be noticed, one already has done so and brought it to Gretna’s attention. This village you live in, this trícha cét is well over six-thousand people, someone is going to notice.”
“Gretna has spoke with me about that.” Bronwyn nodded.
“Indeed.” Finis nodded. “Take her advice that people are noting this and the advice of mine as well.”
“We must leave?” Kane said. Thinking about Daigh and the other children that look forward to his toys every year during the time of the bonfires.
“If you were to stay, you would make your leaving more difficult to start fresh. Many love you as kin. Especially the small children that dance around your legs when you have finished your travels. Kane, you would suffer first I would wager. Someone will notice that you are never sick or have aged, even though you has put yourself in harm’s way more than once.” Finis nodded. “Alternately, when you return, leave again to trade. Take all that you like, but then burn the wagon and leave the road and travel on another path. You will have to fake your deaths and create new life, this is part of your challenges you have taken as your tribulation. It is his punishment and your elected life here, Bronwyn. Remember, I am just your advisor, you can do as you like, but I would say your time here with this Clan is over.”
Bronwyn nodded, sad that it seemed like just last week they had stumbled into the lives of Gretna and her family.
Bronwyn was helpless to make that happen. She could only wish to have a full ten years of words to describe the life she has enjoyed…
19. A Nightmare Of A Possibility
Twitching, the world took on a surreal color pallet.
She slept with her arm over his shoulders, cuddled up to his back like two spoons in the flatware box. This world faded away and another one slid forward on soft cat-paws in his mind.
A nightmare invaded Kane’s slumber. A violent dream.
He was angry. He was fighting and he was fury incarnate, down to his core, he was… He was…
He was Orcus the avenging demon of wrongs. The angry imp that struck in an instant.
The black-soul that would invade a lover’s heart and turn the loving soul into a murderer in a moment for minor wrongs, bringing new slaves to the Dark Lord for his bidding.
And found – Not an angelic minion, a nameless adversary. It was… It… was… even in his dream, he stammered.
It was HER!
He defended his Angel. It played vividly in his mind, he was again there when the Hoard attacked. For his heart focused only on one soul ever. A heart properly motivated would do anything. In defense of his deepest mote of love, that one spark never lost, did he do the unthinkable.
But the hesitation brought the unwanted attention of the Dark One who did not believe in such deep thoughts – Backing up his best, his most infernal, the one who brings the most of the new souls in for the Satan, Emperor of Hell to torment for his pleasure.
The Great Angel of the Pit arrived and struck her a crushing blow, pushing the smaller imp out of harms way, attacking the crimson haired angel delivering a huge slash across her arms and with that single blow of his clawed hand, he knew her name.
Bronwyn they called her. In that instant he knew it was her human name. Somewhere in time there was a candle lit for her. But that mattered not, this soul, that forestalled the killing stroke of the best of his warriors, one who commanded a legion. The Emperor’s best and brightest, the most savage, one of the most feared of all.
A blow stung him to the core as she struck back, a blessed sword of holy crystal! With a mighty roar of a thousand damned hearts, and struck at her with claw and fang, to tear out a new soul. Not one that would be returned to this little Angel’s lord. Her flesh would be ravaged, spirit would be torn and body broken as he pounced on her like a savage raptor of hate, of the dark side and he struck with a blow to shatter souls; it was the law of things in battle. The mighty overwhelm the weak.
But this angel did not read the rule book.
The bright, pure soul of the host, drove Hell’s Master backwards the flash of a moment as she struck him with the might of the host. Michael would not have struck as hard. Silver chain mail over her torso resisted the power of darkness, for this was for this was one of the great warrior archangels. Fitting her like a wet shirt, it guarded against the savage horde. However, it was not on par with the supreme demon of the darkness.
The battle ensued, he was savage and she as a blinding light against his dark, claw to armor, fist to fang. The whole of the lands shook with the fury of battle. Master against Angel, there was no turning back, Bronwyn was fighting for her immortal soul and there was no mercy, no plea that would be heard. This was a battle to the end of it all, to the death of two immortal beings.
She struck with enough power and heart to knock him to his knees, enough power to break a demon. But not this Dark Lord, almighty in his satanic powers, he was beyond her dreams of power. He took his measure of her strength, weighed her power and compared it to his own. She who had gotten a few hits in, her light was as a small lamp in the pitch darkness of night. Bright as she was, she was found wanting, and he retaliated.
That little blessed knife of hers, broken and thrown away, hummed feebly in the dirt.
And the Devil struck with the might of Hell – again and again the great dark fist of the Emperor shattered her body, her shield of faith. Her soul would taste like a sweet grape on his tongue after he tore it out of her and consumed it, never to return to the adversary of her Lord of Light. To hell with an angel.
Beaten, weaponless, on her knees, held by one wing he beat her again and again. She screamed one name.
Her screams echoed in the cold, dead heart. Somewhere in the dust of ages, among the dead and heavily scarred flesh that wound around the blackened and charred whole of his soul, a spark that was hidden was found and it heard – the spark flared, burned and ignited something within the emptiness that was the heart of a demon.
A rage that grew, fanned to flames by the winds of memory that rushed back, an awakening of a promise once made to a pure soul. The spark that remembered once promised to protect.
But not this time.
Shall not. Ever again. Fail.
And a single word, born from the very core of fury.
Corruption was who he was, a body covered in hideous scars of ages of combat, unholy visage of a beak-like face, horns for hair and red-rage that glowed in his eyes. Orcus, a name known only to Bronwynn, had in that one moment, that blistering rage that erupted and attempted control of in a futile effort, the Emperor of Hell saw and knew.
One brief shining moment of longing crossed the angry face of the warrior-demon. Of passion’s fire kindled in a heart that had long gone to cold ash. A history that was once forgotten, rose again in the demon once thought soulless, an ember of passion rose and the testimony of that one quiet hot mote arose to live again in the being that was Orcus. A soul, blasted and scarred with self-hatred and anger.
“You wish this female? Take her soul then. Use the battle-ax, the Claw of Hades and cut it from her.” The terrible eyes of the Emperor turned on the General of his legions. “Strike her sacred body, cut off her wings, cut out her soul and you will stay together for an eternity! You will command together. Whole legions of demons that would respect you both, you will the power second only to mine, you both will be in Hell forever.”
The dark countenance of the Dark Lord was that of savage pleasure, to have her struck down without her fighting back. A total defeat of an angel and the stealing of a soul as pure as this.
“Power and love of your mate for all time. Fear and respect from others, none shall dare not stand up to you.” The Dark Master spoke to the smaller demon.
On the battlefield the three stood, all demons had stopped their corrupt actions and watched the drama, would an angel switch sides for love? Would the great Gardener stand up and save one of his own. A warrior angel, the best and brightest, one that had once turned her back on heaven to live a life with a love. One where her heart once rejoiced so much that it echoed in heaven.
The Dark Lord held her by a copper-colored wing, this angel, one who had given her heart to Orcus so long ago with the blessing of her Enlightened One. The long scarred and hideous arm held her out as if to offer a meal to the demon for his abuse, for the cut to come. To take her into the darkness and drive out doubt in the host.
Once an old affable gardener with wisdom unmatched and told her to go to the Imp and love him good and well.
“Raise him up, love him all the days on that little spot that you claim your own.”
This moment she hung helpless in a giant’s clawed hand. On a finger an ebony ring of an apple surrounded by a snake on the hand, he squeezed and smoke billowed from her wing and Bronwynn screamed in pain. The battle between the light and dark over for the moment.
But there was no fight left in this angel. Her crystal sword broken and the angel’s battered and bruised body hung limply from combat against the one called Satan. She was out of energy. With not enough strength to fight, she hung in his mighty grip and cried. Holy chain-mail hung off her in tatters and shreds. Plates of armor, harder than diamonds, tougher than a heart of a warrior crushed like foil lay on the ground.
Defeated, no weapons left, too weary to lift her arms. Bronwyn hung there, broken and beaten.
A flick of the wrist and she was flung across the battlefield at the feet of the demon of retribution, vengeance and pain.
“Cut her soul from the angels body and you will have her forever.” The Dark One spoke. “How deep is the love you have? What would you do for that passion that burns in your chest? Do you believe you have a love for this small one?”
“She pleases me.” Orcus looked at her.
The old rage was there, ruby-red eyes of a savage demon. But… something else and it did not go unnoticed.
“DO you love her?” The question was more of a statement by Hell’s Master.
“I…” A hesitation. How does one give up a weakness? Never a good idea to do so to anyone that has power over you… but… “Love her.”
“What sweetness.” Satan laughed. “Would you do anything for her love?”
“Yes.” Orcus was watching her, greed in his wholeness. Cultivated consciously, lust for power. Turning away from love. Lust for a mate. Not love. To use her for pleasure. NOT love.
“I love her.” Damn it all! Orcus thought. Not what he wanted to say.
“Sweet indeed. Love for an angel. Does the small demon wish her with him forever and ever?” The Emperor said softly. “I can give her to you.Just give her the stroke, take her soul and bring her to you. Live forever in each others company in the beauty of your world. Can you do that? Can you love her enough to bring her to you?”
“I can do that. The soul of an angel, power untold. I can do that.” A grin from the lips that split with the evil of his own words.
Savage anger glowed from his eyes, the Claw of Hades, an old friend, a battle-ax whose blade had ten points for piercing of armor in his hands that caressed its polished surface as if it were a sexual device. The tip of the main blade pressed against the bare flesh of her chest, an unprotected gap of her rent and destroyed armor.
Bronwyn looked up into the eyes of the one she loved most in all the worlds, all the universes that existed, anywhere she ever lived, anyplace she had gazed upon — she had given him her heart.
The tip of the ax rested against the curve of her throat, where it joined her torso, she had nothing more to give this demon, the imp that held her heart. Trying to tell him, never did he fail her. For she loved him greater than all the souls that were in heaven.
An evil laugh as the Master knew what would come. “Would you do anything for love?”
“I would do anything for power! I would do anything for love.” Orcus cackled now.
Bronwyn gave him her best, most vulnerable spot, knowing the pain of the cut coming. Not fighting any longer, she arched her neck back, offering her soul, she gave up all that would be her history, her love, her passion.
She would give up her heaven.
Her lord and her soul.
And waited for the cut that would take her from the light and plunge her forever into the darkness of the pit of the abyss.
She then heard the last time he would speak to her in this world.
“I’ll do anything for love.” His breath was hot on her cheek.
His breath coming in deep ragged gasps of blood lust, she knew. The tip of the cursed battle-ax, a gift from Hades to Orcus in another long ago age, pressed against her throat dimpling the flesh.
“I would do anything for your love. ” He said again, softer. “I will have you as mine forever.”
She could feel the muscles of the battle-scarred body tense, the winding up of the moment, he was ready and the blow was moments away.
“I”ll do anything for love!”
Bronwyn closed her eyes, waiting for the first sensation of pain that marked the end of her heavenly life as she gave herself to her love, her heart, and the one that brightened her soul even from the darkest of realms.
She closed herself off to the view of the one with the weapon that had her at his mercy. The him through time and realms that they had traveled. Through dimensions, ages, together they had once loved laughed and had light of the universe in their hearts.
“I’ll do anything for love…” He drew a deep breath through sharpened and savage teeth…
*I love you.* It was her last thought.
“… NO! I WON’T DO THAT!”
Turning in an instant, Orcus hurled the cursed ax, the Claw of Hades at Satan himself, launching into an attack against the Emperor of Hell, this demon of legend, the First Emperor of all things of evil intent, action and temptation.
A simple flick of the Lord of the Demon’s hand and the ax flew away over his shoulder, landing uselessly in the battlefield beyond the reach of the smaller demon.
“I knew you! Traitor! You shall live forever as a slave to serve us all! Torment by those being tormented, undying life of slime, never-ending pain is all yours forever. I shall enjoy consuming your angel, she is MINE.”
“NEVER! You will starve!” The Demon screamed.
Savage was Orcus’ attack, the crushing blows he delivered was with every mote of his being, all sound, all battles, all conflict stopped as the host of heaven and the hoards of hell halted their battles and watched this ballet of destruction played out.
Watching the fight that suddenly became center stage of a battlefield, Asmodeus turned to Lucifer. “One-hundred on Orcus.”
“You’re on.” Lucifer already had plans to tell the Emperor how the odds were. Who bet on the outcome.
“I’ll take some of that.” The Beelzebub stood near the arch-demons. “I’ll take the Master.”
“Roll your own dice Beeze?” Leviathan laughed, the giant put down his vote for Orcus. Calling him “The once and future Emperor”.
Savage orange fire from the mouth of the Emperor for the chest of Orcus as he folded his wings around for protection and laughed as the flames enveloped his body.
“Time to fall!” A scream from the beak-like face as the demon went claw to talon, fang to fire as Satan did battle with the best and darkest of his demons. Green fire from the clawed hands of the demon that shattered the confidence and wings of the Emperor. The tail of the once-Emperor, whipped through the darkened atmosphere of war, a weapon unto itself, the prehensile appendage wrapped itself around the throat of the Dark One.
“To slime, to torment, to slavery with you! For LOVE I shall strike. For her soul I shall beat you into the ground.” Orcus screamed as his tail tightened against the armor-scale of a neck as he looked into the compound beast-eyes. Sixty-six and six-hundred pupils that he saw his reflection framed by the horned face.
“For my angel’s heart, you will suffer!”
Satan’s quad-lipped mouth opened up and exposed too many teeth as the Emperor of Hell choked on a grip tighter than steel that squeezed ever tighter. The Devil’s mouth tried to bite the scale covered hide of traitorous demon.
Twisting about in the noose of a tail, the Dark Lord landed a blow that registered on earth as an earthquake. Scientists explained that a previously unknown fault shook the humans. The same blow nearly obliterated the demon, but Orcus fought back with the power of love. The demon was unstoppable as Satan was relentless. Again they collided head on, claw to claw, fang to tusk. Each blow measured to inflict the greatest damage, each block meant to waste the energy of the opponent.
Never had there been such a challenge to his power. Victory was not assured, for the fist time in an age – Satan, the Emperor of Hell, felt fear.
Fire and fury, hate versus love. A Dark-Heart against the power of darkness, the energy of both opponents took a toll as they gave their all for victory.
One loved power, the other loved.
Suddenly a misstep, a missed moment in a battle against an implacable enemy and Orcus was flung backwards by a titanic blow, one wing broken, the other wing torn, horns broken, eyes unfocused. The right arm lay useless under his body.
Tired and out of breath, the Emperor of hell moved towards the demon that dared to choose love over immeasurable power, lust and greed. This Satan, wheezing and blinded in half his eyes, all the fingers on the right hand missing and the Emperor of Hell walked on his hands, swinging his leg forward in an ape-like walk, trailing black ichor that served as blood, towards the traitor, a stump where the left leg was missing. He struggled to tear with his remaining hand, to finish the demon, to turn him into the lowest of the slime of hell – Better! To consume the dark soul until it was no more, to digest and spit out that which they called “Love”.
As the Emperor got close to the puny and broken imp, close enough to strike with what was left of his claws and fangs, Orcus held his left hand outstretched towards the Emperor…
Was this beseeching? That thought was entertaining.
A plea for mercy? A laugh at the thought rose in Satan’s mind.
A plea? Hardly.
It was a call, a command to a part of the demon’s own wholeness, a call to an old friend, a gift from the Emperor that followed Orcus to the throne. The call to the Claw of Hades, a call that the ax must answer. Return to its owner no matter the obstacle.
Behind the Dark Lord, the Claw of Hades lay in the filth of the battlefield, forgotten in the rage of battle. Tossed so easily away by the more powerful demon and never given a thought after.
A fatal mistake.
The weapon, as much a part of Orcus as his tail was, answered its call. The ten-pointed ax trembled, slightly at first, then turned blade first and raced through the air to the Master of the Ax in a straight line, regardless of what was in the way.
The Dark Lord became aware of the whistling noise, the disturbance drew the great demon’s attention, but too late.
Returning to Master of the Ax, the cursed weapon drove through the through the forehead of the Dark Lord on the way to the hand of Orcus. The look of surprise was entertaining to the old demon as for one brief glorious moment as Orcus nearly laughed, the Great Devil himself, the destroyer, He who defeated Hel who gave her name to the kingdom that He then ruled. He who defeated Hel held his hands up in frozen stark surprise…
And imploded without a sound, like a shadow banished from view when a light shines into the darkness.
The Dark Lord was no more in one last anticlimactic, quiet, mundane moment.
All that was left, an ebony ring of an apple surrounded by a snake that fell to the ground. Frost formed where it bounced until it stopped moving. A freezing fog formed around the ring, curling over the ground as it rested quietly in the dust.
Panting, barely strong enough to stand, pain was his second world, a second life of passion drove him to stand. Shredded and torn, his right-wing broken, dark blood oozed through dozens of new wounds that covered his body as he knelt next to his angel.
Lifting her up in his arms, she reached up and caressed his face. His broken hand held hers gently. There were too many wounds on his immortal body, he was weak beyond description. The immortal demon was weakening further, the great heart had begun to beat, now faltered. He caressed her face with a blood-stained finger tears leaked from his eyes as dark blood leaked out of him into the dirt.
“I’d do anything for you.” He whispered softly and nodded, “I would do anything for your love, but I would not do that. I could never do that.”
“Come with me.” Bronwyn whispered. “Come back home. You are free.”
A soft cough from a few steps away interrupted.
“Hell needs an Emperor.” The Lucifer said, standing behind Orcus. “It is advancement by assassination in Hell. He must take his place on the throne.”
“NO!” The Angel refused to accept this! Orcus sacrificed it all for her life.
“NO! Stay with me!” Bronwyn argued. pulling on Orcus’ arms, her own hands too weak to grip tightly.”Turn away from all this, come home. I will not have this!”
“He could do anything for love. Fight the old Emperor,” Asmodeus nodded, frowning as he handed the ebony black ring of an apple surrounded by a snake to Orcus. “and win. He has changed the course of a war, changed a thousand hearts. He has altered the universe in uncountable ways. He did that all for love.”
“He did it all.” Lucifer nodded. “He did it all for love. But he cannot go with you.”
“He can’t do that.” Beelzebub whispered as he shook his head and bowed to the new Emperor.
The cool hand of Bronwyn touched him in between the shoulder-blades. “Orcus”, the name echoed in the webs of his dream, his face was wet from tears, Kane had cried out in his sleep.
Kisses on his cheeks as the hands of an angel cupped his face.
“What makes you cry?” She frowned with concern in her eyes.
“I dreamed I had lost you. Our time together was over and I had to use my powers to save you. I also remember my name, from so long ago. Orcus.”
“I remember that name. Punisher of broken promises and oaths. No wonder you do not break promises to children.” She smiled at him. “You are the children’s guardian of promises. You keep the promise of the gift giving when the days grow short and life begins anew. You are the one to shape a child’s view of the world.”
He shook his head, “I still lost you and I will not allow that. Ever.”
She slid her arms around him as she kissed her husbands tears away.
“We can change the future.”
Together they slept the rest of the night, no further dreams intruded.
But Kane had his doubts.
18. A New Life
After finishing his education of the different laws of the different Celt tribes, Kane had made friends with the Parisii tribe, but the growing land that would be one of the largest metropolitan areas in the future, for now it was a small place to trade.
Still, raw materials from the inland areas were good for trade. Kane and Bronwyn had a good name as tinkerers and artisans of the crafts. Anything from a copper pot to bronze and gold torcs for the neck and upper arm.
Kane had figured out how to tie knots in the metals, gold being the easiest to braid into popular shapes. Still, he knew how to work the metals carefully.
Bronwyn had patience to inlay gold wire after both she and Kane had carved a pattern that they had worked out.
Often in intricate patterns, it was the High Priests of the different religions that spoke of how life was that inspired them. However bringing the Celtic knot to life was a trick. Not many of the High Priests agreed on the beauty.
But the concept of the tree of life, this intrigued Kane and discussed in many nights with Bronwyn as they carved, first in clay, then wood and finally in bronze and gold, an inlaying of gold in bronze or copper in bronze was often highly sought after. In trade, the artisans that they were, received different items in trade.
Often they took ingots of raw metals, frequent was a trade for meats and grains.
Coins were always accepted, of course, but when a young man wanted to buy something to woo a beautiful young woman or impress her family, a cow or other farm animal would be taken in trade.
Bronwyn, more romantic than Kane, would not be above making a beautiful ring out of bronze or brass in a moment’s notice, with the promise to work with the boy to create something even more beautiful out of anything he might like and torcs were common.
The occasional master of captured slaves would take a shine to one and buy gold collars with a certain gem he possessed.
Those owners of slaves tended to get charged fully without breaks on value for the trinkets. Bronwyn had a particular distaste for slavery any kind.
“Slavery will exist for several thousand more years in many shapes, my angel.” Kane would say softly to Bronwyn in the nights where they lay in each other’s arms. “They will have not achieved complete eradication of it until well into the twenty-fifth century.”
“It’s not right, still. No matter the age.” She said dangerously.
“Do not make history, we have to avoid being too well-known.” He said softly.
“Still, it doesn’t make it right.”
“No, it doesn’t, but there exists a great many flaws that humankind must overcome. One thing at a time.”
“I can’t wait.”
The day wore on until they arrived at home. Kane again began packing trinkets, but this time were more for children. Dolls, wheeled pull toys that looked like animals.
Stroking his head as he bent over yet another bag, she smiled at his loading.
“Who do you pack for?”
“Well, we are moving in a fortnight, aren’t we? Back to where we started for a few more years. Plus, I pass out gifts at this time of year, and it is fast approaching. Harvest will begin in a fortnight in most areas. I have a boy who is nine-summers old now and I have a promise to fulfill.”
“And you don’t want to break a promise to a child.”
“No, never. A grownup gives a promise to a child, as sure as your hair grows, you better keep it. They have the souls are most accepting and will make this world a place far better than it could be.”
“And you say not to make history.”
“Oh hush. There are other ways to affect for the positive.” Her husband said. “I will wage war my way. Let others try to figure out how to undo a child’s smile when I finish.”
“Kane, you have to stop this life in time and we have to move away.” Bronwyn stroked his ear and kissed her mate carefully.
Time. He cursed it and welcomed it. They were closing a decade together on the blue planet and he regretted not one moment with her.
Although, time to time, he watched her look at children with a faraway look that women get. She had all the drives of a young human woman, with no chance to produce something that was part of their union. They were a team, forever and always, but by command, they were not allowed to have children.
Her voice brought him out of his thoughts.
“Where do you think we should restart our lives as artists and young couple?” She was looking at herself in a silvered bronze-backed mirror.
Unlike other women everywhere, she strove to make herself look older, but vanity prevented her from striving too hard. Using hardwood ash now and again, she would put in white streak that would look like she had hair of an older woman.
He was finally packed and stood up.
“I am thinking of the middle-sea where Egypt is building pyramids for about another three-hundred years.” Kane pulled at his chin. “Perhaps Athens. I hate to leave this area, the best copper is on the island of our first home.”
“Let us live there on the other side of the island, towards the east. In time, there will rise an empire that will overwhelm this area of Celtica and rename it. They will invade the islands and the Emperor Hadrian will build a wall. If we stay on the island, they will not invade.”
Sitting down in a chair of finely crafted leather and polished wood, he rubbed his forehead thinking.
“Perhaps. Or…maybe… before the empire arises, we move close and disappear in the crowds and be artisans. Or we can move to Athens as I said, and get the trading in there first. Then we can join that fellow that turns water into wine goes about teaching.”
Kane winked and held up his forefinger. “Now there is a person to invite to parties!”
“KANE! Is that all you think of?”
“No, most times I try to think of you, naked.” He winked at his wife.
“KANE!” Bronwyn laughed as she sat in his lap. “You are so bad.”
That night, they slept together, skin to skin after hours of their bodies joining in as many positions as they could think of. Kane dreamed a recurring dream. This night was different, his old name came to the fore of his mind. Worries of having to end this life and start a new one brought on the dreams that a change of place to live in secret once again would be opposed by the one that put him in this world of humans.
The wagon rumbled back to the coastal village with Kane and Bronwyn riding in silence.
Weeks of trading and occasional party in their honor had left them fatigued. With hours of travel-time still left in their journey, they were far from talkative. Already on the road for several hours, Bronwyn was sleeping on Kane’s shoulder when he pulled up the horses.
“We are not alone.” He whispered to the groggy but waking wife.
An old man stood along the side of the road near a body of a man sprawled on the ground. The older gent was familiar to them, but he was not who they thought he was.
“Greetings slime-devil. It has been nine-years since you violated the oath of demons.” The black-eyes looked into Kane’s green.
“Well.” Kane said carefully. “Greetings Abraxas. Perhaps you have not been aware of my mate here. This is my wife, the Angel Bronwyn.”
“All of the upper ranks are aware of your betrayal and punishment. Up to now, it has been easy, the Masters have plotted against one and another and you were forgotten for a time. And you have saved me from obliteration on three occasions. Once from the Dark Lord himself, you stood up for me and defended the actions that I took.” Looking at the human couple the demon pointed at prostrate form at his feet. “This man here was a lookout for soldiers that are up ahead. They will shoot you full of arrows and take her along with all your goods and wagon.”
“We will head another way then. Why warn me, if you would explain once more?” Kane asked.
“I owe you three times over, this makes up for one.”
“Watch out!” Bronwyn yelled as an arrow hissed out of the wood and hit the old man.
A scream like no other animal sounded out of the old man as the armed warriors emerged from behind the trees of the forest, weapons drawn.
Three more arrows hit the man as he stepped backwards, then transformed into a part-snake and part-human and began to attack the robber-warriors. The sounds were such that the horses spooked. Kane struggled with the panicked animals then spoke words to calm them.
A pull on the silver mouth-bits aimed them at a route past the battling unearthly creature and the robbers. Once the equine minds got the image of safe passage, Kane was nearly out of control as they wasted not one ounce of energy to put distance between the battling humans and the noisy, spitting giant human-snake that caught and ate the highwaymen one at a time.
Two-minutes of full gallop he pulled back on the reins, making calming noises and stopped the wagon.
“Owe you? He Owed you for saving him?” Bronwyn’s voice was air-chilling. “When did you save him? What did you do?”
“It was a simple matter of witnessing that he did the right thing. It was your Lord that flooded the world. Abraxas arranged for the ark. He brought along every species of the mosquito.”
“That’s awful.” Bronwyn laughed.
“And yet, you laugh.” Kane said with a smile, wincing slightly as his wife punched him playfully in the shoulder.
16. A Move To Celtica
Sitting on the beach. A long week of days they had spent in their shop, Kane and Bronwyn had created several pots that they had sold on the mainland called “Gaul”. Kane had become skilled in speaking of the laws of the Celts. Often Tort, criminal law did not exist, but the civil law was complex and often took days to seek an answer to complaints of those wronged. His mind, fatigued from the studies and questions, only enjoying the fire on the beach with his angel laying her head on his shoulder. The cool of the breeze blowing over them caused Kane to pull a sheepskin over them while he tossed more wood on the fire.
“I think we should move, maybe to the south.” Bronwynm said softly. “We have been here long enough that some of the mid-wives are asking when I may have a child, we are not supporting the numbers of children.”
She softly laughed, but Kane did not.
Kissing her nose, he whispered. “Are they jealous that you have kept your girly looks?”
“In fact, they are. Stairiemh has complained that she was more beautiful than I was before she had her second child, now she has a tummy that will not go away.” Bronwyn nodded. “And she is right. She is taller than I am and very beautiful now. But she is not as lithe as a willow as she was when we first came here.”
“They will start noticing our childless status more as time goes on.”
“Yes, and the children are care for by people of the Tuathe. You are the father of no less that ten boys and girls that have adopted you as their favorites.” Bronwyn giggled. “The boys want to go throw that stuffed ball you made. I think it is Dagda’s favorite toy. He is always throwing it up in the air when you are not around. You made it for the kids, but he has taken it for himself. I think you need to make other toys for the kids.”
Kane laughed quietly. “I need to make enough for all the kids with that idea. Every child would need to get one, I’ll be stuffing and sewing for a year!” He covered his face with his hand, I’d have to make a wish list.”
Kissing him softly. “You would be the first Father Christmas.”
“NO! No no no..” He laughed out loud. “We are long years before that era.”
A laughing voice came from behind them. Finis, the Angel of Death, sat with his hands resting on his silver-handled cane.
“Why not set the theme of years to come?” The white goatee-sporting angel chuckled. “Start mankind on giving of their hearts. Giving good wishes to those in the darkest times of the year. This giving is not a religious thing. Let it come from within, give to the children.”
“Be the seed of what would be come known as a time of giving.” He held out his hand, palm up. “Mankind will twist it in various ways in the years to come. In each society, warrior based would make it more wild. Another society might make it more sexual and still another society may make it a respectful time of those in need and a giving time of presents and food. To take in the homeless or downtrodden. You were once like that.”
“A man alone, in their eyes, and yet?” Finish looked at Kane. “And yet, that they took you in and in time you became a productive member of the society. Maybe you can serve to show the way. Show love to the children, for they are the future of the world.”
Kane sighed. “This society already shows that an entire community raises the children. Everyone takes care of the boys and girls that walk and live.”
“And you can show them a peaceful way to live.”
Bronwyn smiled widely.
Kane frowned. “Why me?”
“Because you are good at it.” Another voice chimed in, it was Micheal, the Archangel.
“The Lord says to make it so. It is a good idea, one that will make your dark master quite angry with you.”
“Yes, he has been angry with me before. Kinda hurt.” Kane said as the memory of the worst pain he ever known came back to him.
The day a demon died.
From that day forward, Kane and Bronwyn traveled in their business trading gems and gold. Often teaching how to sing. Children became more excited with the arrival of the couple that traveled together. Kane created such toys out of wood and leather, for men, often was a small gift, a hatchet, hammer or in some cases if he knew what the need was, a lantern or a pair of shoes. Trading then became much easier with the people who did not know them, knew them by reputation.
Gift giving caught on and became popular, often gifts made by children were given to the couple as gifts for the children of the next village.
Romances blossomed from one clan to the next as love letters delivered between the distant towns.
Kane laughed on one trip, holding a finely worked calf-hide, sealed with wax.
“And future experts would say that humans did not write for another thousand years.”
Wars halted in times of harvest or in the cold and dark at by the end of the year.
In the eighth year of their living as humans, they had moved to the land of the Celt.
“You will come back?” The bright eyes of an eight-year-old boy Daigh looked up at Kane. “You promise not to stay away?”
Looking at the youth, Kane nodded and smiled.
“I promise. I will come back when the nights are at the longest and the weather is at the coldest. I will come back and we will play games as we have with the ball I have given you.”
“Never break promises to kids.” Daigh said. “I will remember!”
“Nope,” Kane shook his head. “I don’t break my promises to young ones.”
On the coast of mainland, they spread their way of life. Bronze was much easier to obtain and Kane began to teach other young men and women how to sharpen stone tools that they used.
Comments came of course. “The forefather did it this way” and “We do it that way.”
Sometimes, Kane learned some new technique, but most he taught.
Living near the coast, they traded upriver to the communities that desired their arts and crafts as well as Kane’s ax designs in bronze.
Traveling up the river towards a growing village of Lutetia
Kane was quietly contemplating the shape of a hammer in his head. A small hammer with the anvil shaped to fit the needs of a small.
“You know we are going to the future city of passion and love.”
“Oh?” Bronwyn said absent-mindedly as she struggled to sew a carved wood face of a smiling dog on a fuzzy body. Floppy ears for a baby to pull on or a child to cuddle with. “What makes you think that?”
Kane chuckled as she used a rare profanity as the stylus poked a finger through the carefully carved holes in the edges of the wood.
“The village we are going to has a population of only about two-thousand, will one day be Paris.”
“WHAT?” She sat up and laughed. “Really?”
“Yes.” Kane laughed with her. “I helped set back civilization here a few times.”
“Kane. What did you do?” She punched him in the shoulder playfully.
Their chatter filled the late afternoon air as the two lovers moved their wagon of bronze utensils and trinkets for trade in the future city of Paris.
15. A Brush with Breitheamh (Brehon) Law
Tinktinktink..Tinktink. Bronwyn’s small hammer made musical notes on the tiny anvil that her husband and best friend made for her out of the finest bronze. She worked her gold carefully into the decoration that she had carefully chiseled into the back of an unfinished bronze mirror. Kane would polish the mirror after she finished inlaying the gold.
She was looking forward to when Kane would return. He was trading for more gold and some gems he had heard were available in raw form at the harbor. He had been gone seven days now and the fine work she had left to do in the little shop would bring them enough trade to keep the tuathe they lived in comfortable enough for a year.
In the last two years after joining the family, they had become accepted with laughter and hugs. Such was their ways of dealing with the humans. At first, Kane kept his distance, but the love of the people and kindness towards wandering strangers impressed the ex-demon.
Kane developed a habit of staying up late with the men and women, telling tall tales of adventure and heroic acts. Little did they know that the stories told were only slightly modified to fit into their world. The concept of flying machines holding entire families and horseless powered chariots were quite beyond the concept of the average person, so stories told of land and sea based adventures where dragons lived and giants grew. Stories that made people laugh, cringe in fear, cry and laugh again as they fell in love with the characters that were in the stories.
Kane for all his disdain for humanity in the beginning, enjoyed the attention he got with his skills of telling of things that were and things to come.
With the skills in artistry and the stories told, they rose in the hierarchy of the tuath and became well-known as skilled artisans and hospitable hosts.
It was late in the afternoon in the outbuilding while Bronwyn tinkered on her designs when two strangers walked out of the oaken forest.
She smelled them before they walked around the wall of the shop. Looking up, she saw they were just standing there, taking in the displayed shiny things that she had made, they were not of the area, indeed looked like men of the northeast. Cruthin or Ulaid perhaps.
“We are hungry.” Said the larger of the two men. They had not bathed in some time – they reeked.
“Do you have food? Our hunts have been without success. We have not seen a deer since we left our fine. Give us food and the comfort of your company, when we have our fill, we will go on our way.”
“I will feed you and give you water and wine, but the company I hold is mine to choose.”
“You WILL!” Shouted the smaller man as he grabbed her by the hair and yanked on the copper-hair.
She grabbed at the hand and pinned it to her head then, twisting around, pinned the man’s arm and smashed his face, with a bang, to the finely carved table, causing dust to fly up off the flat surface and the legs to bounce on the floor. An old move, but so very effective when used against those that were overconfident. Bronwyn did not even wonder about the attack, she just responded with ages old skill.
A back kick to the knee of the other, larger hunter who shrieked in pain and dropped to the floor. Gasped twice for air, then growled with anger while his friend begged for mercy while Bronwyn bent the arm backwards to the breaking point.
The larger hunter pulled a dagger made from an antler spike, leaping on to Bronwyn’s back, sticking the sharpened spike into her shoulder. Bronwyn screamed in agony and let go of the smaller hunter who pulled away and rejoined his and his partner’s attack
She felt it. In her heart, it burned like a bonfire. Men who would come and would take that which was not theirs, who felt that her body was theirs to do as they pleased, caught off guard by the burning fury of a soul rescued from ashes.
It was an intense rage like she had not felt in a long time and never on this plane of existence. She wanted these takers, thieves and those who would pillage because they felt that they could.
The sound of a gong echoed in the small shop as Kane use the head of the large man as a bell clapper against a copper pan he had picked up and swung like a club.
The smaller man was a little more difficult, attacking Kane with his fists, trying to beat the human-demon into the ground. Each punch aimed and thrown to hurt was only batted away with the red-metal pan.
The sound of a bell gonged through the shop again.
The smaller hunter’s knees buckled and he fell forward face-down on the floor of the shop.
Looking at Bronwyn, Kane shrugged holding up the heavy copper skillet.
“Frying pans. Who would have thought?”
Brought before the Breitheamh, which was less than a day’s ride from the community of the clan. The men stated they were Cruithni and what they had done. In their tribe, lone women were always available to men who were traveling or hunting. Never had they seen a woman who would fight back or refuse a request of favors.
A Breitheamh, (pronounced Brehon), a skilled judge of the law, agreed upon by the Tuathe Ri. Found that the penalty of the attack was the income of four deer, however how long it took them to hunt, dress and cure the deer meat.
Bronwyn’s wounds healed far faster than the time it took the men to satisfy the words of the Breitheamh, which were also upheld by the Queen of the Tuath.
Messengers ran to the other houses of law of the clans and took messages of findings on the attack by the hunters and their punishment of working off their fines to the community.
No prisons, the theory being that everyone works for the community. In other societies where the rise of the warrior class gave birth to taking life or spending one’s life in jail, the punished worked for the good of the community.
This pleased Kane.
He began to study the laws of the land. This ancient place in history seemed to have a better view of life. All life was precious, all freedoms honored.
He began to speak to the Society of Draoi, the Druids of Hibernia for admission to school of Breitheamh law.
Kane, late of being Hell’s demon of chaos, was becoming a representative for order.
Later that month after he had chosen this path, then thought of the irony of it, he laughed at himself for the first time in many ages.
If ever there was good humor in a situation, this was it. The Demon of Anarchy and Chaos, studying to act as the champion and warrior of law.
Kane laughed again.
13. Heaven Sent
She had been meditating, but peace would not come.
In this place Love and Peace were the orders of the realm. But, alas, such was not forthcoming. She had known that he was cast out and he was living with humans. Even such things are harsh for imps and demons She knew in her heart that she had to try to ask a favor, permission to allow her to help him, somehow.
With a heavy sigh, she stood up and walked away to where help could be obtained.
As she approached the place where the Lord of Everything held court, she met Gabriel the Archangel outside.
“The Lord is expecting you. If anything, you are late.” He brushed a crimson lock out of her face, giving her a critical look and walking circles around the small angel, assessing her, he gave Bronwyn the rules of speaking in the inner sanctum.
“Speak only when spoken to, keep your answers short and direct. Stand up straight. One word answers are best. Do not exaggerate, you would be found out before you even said the words. Stand straight, smile but do not look directly at the Lord. Use the title at the end of each answer. Yes, Lord. No, Lord. And so forth, stand up straight when you do.” Gabriel plucked at her hair, fluffed her wings, tucked her here and there. Then stopped, tapping his chin with a knuckle. “Spend as little time as possible there, the Lord is very busy. Stand up straight. All answers to questions and requests are final, do not argue or attempt to change the answer with any kind of debate. Be sure to stand up straight. Now, off you go, do not wait around. And stand up straight!”
Bronwyn stepped through the gates and into the light. She was momentarily blinded the bright light on the other side of the portal, but then her eyes adjusted.
She found herself in a garden with the bluest of skies. A woman slightly older than Bronwyn was planting a row of flowers in one area of the garden. No one else was nearby and the woman looked up and smiled but kept at her work that she seemed to enjoy a great deal.
Hesitantly, Bronwyn stepped towards the woman, moving so she could see all that the digging and planting was doing when the woman stood up and brushed the dirt from her hands.
“Well, a lot done, but a lot to do still.” She smiled at the younger angel. “You have come to see me in regards of a matter of the demon who had been cast of hell out by his master and Emperor?”
Bronwyn took a sharp breath.
“You, um, you are the Lord?” She stammered. “I expected someone older, a man with a beard perhaps. I had never thought of a woman.”
“What you wish to see is what I will be,” The Woman-Lord laughed delicately. “But I thought you might have a better time relating to someone closer to your age. Image and perception accounts for a lot when telling of matters such as you have. I can even be a girl of your appearance.”
With that, the Lord changed slightly and appeared as young as Bronwyn, a girl that she could confide in, with bright eyes and wide smile as she sat.
“Tell me! Tell me about him? Is he exciting? Does he make your toes curl when you think of him?” The girl held a flower to her nose and sniffed it with her eyes shut. “Someone that would hold your hand and laugh with a sparkle in his eyes just for you.” She giggled as she put the flower in Bronwyn’s hair. “Have some of this! It is what is called chocolate, one of my greatest creations!”
Bronwyn laughed nervously as she took a bite of the small bit of dark confection, it was heaven on her tongue.
“This is a bit too much, too fast of a change.” She gave a deep sigh. “But, I know he is among humans, he is alone and can not speak the language. He risked everything of his being just for me.”
“He now is in need of help,” Bronwyn frowned. “And we are always sent to help someone who needs or asks. Even if they should never ask, you have said that to offer, to teach a way out is the best way. That sometimes those that can see the clearest are the most blind.”
The Supreme Being now appeared as an elderly woman with wisdom and long found happiness nodded.
“My child, you have the power to do as you wish. It has always been about freedom of choice. You are here on this plane of existence because of the path you have chosen. He is on his path because of the choices he made in his early life. If you believe he needs guidance and help, you may go. Finis has already talked with him and given him a gift that will be most useful. But you must choose. Only you can choose. You can guide him as an angel and then Finis is no longer going to act as a go-between, until… and if… your demon fails his tribulation.” The elder Lord said softly.
She stroked a wilted and dying flower that became tall and strong again at her touch, she turned and took Bronwyn’s hands in hers, the matronly image continued.
”If he fails and falls, Finis will return him to the dark-side as a slave forever; or you can go without your powers, as immortal as his Dark Lord has condemned him to live, but you will not have any other direct contact than Finis. He will be your mentor, guide and go-between of this place and the human existence, other angels have spoken. They have all said that they will not aid or hinder. The only one that offered to make contact with you is Finis, the Angel of Death, I have left it to him to act as a messenger. Other than Finis, you may not call upon the Host for any reason. You can speak in prayer to me only.”
Bronwyn jumped up, dancing on the balls of her feet, her mind made up.
“I choose the life of being a human with him! If that is one of my choices, that is the choice I will be!”
“My dear child, be sure this is what you want. On earth there is a saying ‘be careful of what you wish for, you may get it.'” The Grandmother-Lord said softly.
“Lord, this is what I want. What I wish to do with him, where ever he goes on that plane, I will be at his side.”
“Then it is so,” The slightly older woman appeared again. “You may keep your blessed sword and angel armor, you will have knowledge that you have now and clothing. Several of the Archangels have said they also have gifts to give you that will not cause disruption with humans. No magic, no powers. But you will not grow old, this is one of the trials you will have to endure. For if it seems that you are more than human, all my children on earth will turn on you and he. You can not stay in one area for long. No place will be a permanent home for the both of you. Wars will come, famine, terrible things. He is in a time of prehistory of humankind. The best and most worst of the human soul has yet been realized. You will be part of it, you may influence it to one degree or another. Finis will help guide you through the times and ages. But be warned! Demons and other dark forces will try to create havoc with you and cause him to fail. All he has to do is call upon his powers once. Just once. Just one time and he will be lost to the Emperor of Hell for all time.”
“My child, go now to him.” She said it with a motherly look in her eyes. “You have only one chance to choose. Make the wise choice, for it will be forever. Time will move for you only one direction, one minute after another. Time cannot be as flexible for you as it is for the Host, how we can choose to move forward or backward through time. For us, time is not a line, but there for you, it will be.”
She smiled. Once more a girl the same age as Bronwyn.
“Go on hun! Be happy and take good and well care of him. Give him some loving from me, too!” Her soft voice sounded like bells as she talked and laughed while she bounced on her feet like an excited teen confided in by a friend about her love.
Bronwyn walked down the path with a light heart and a little fear, at the edge of the garden she turned and looked back. There stood a smiling grandfather type that held a growing flower in his hand as he tenderly planted another growing life in the fertile soil of the garden.
Laughing, she turned and left the garden with confidence and a smile that made Gabriel scratch his head.
12. The First Sunburn
Hours passed and the sun slowly slipped behind the trees, shading him, the cool change awoke him gently. He felt rested, but oddly stiff. A large lump had formed on his forehead. No doubt a souvenir of either his fall or near drowning. Another survey of himself showed that he looked like, well, like hell. Lumps and bruises covered him in a familiar coloring in many parts of his body. But more, his skin was a deep crimson hue and was more sensitive to the touch than he recalled from several hours ago when he first crawled on the rock and slept in the warming sun.
Looking over the edge of the rock, he could see his ax glittering in the water below, but it’s depth was at least over his head.
He had to go get it, calling to it was out of the question, it was an exercise of his demonic powers, he knew. So he had to go get it like a human. Standing there he thought of a plan to retrieve it.
He jumped in, feet first, near where he could see his ax and he went all the way to the bottom. Putting feet on the rocky bottom and grabbing at the shiny blur – success! The now-human kicked off the bottom he launched himself much like when he could fly.
He broke the surface he found he was farther downstream than he thought he would be. He washed against some large boulders that formed a natural pool. He struggled against the current, slipping on the smooth river-rock. He climbed and slipped, climbed again. The fight to get out of the chill water was the most difficult he could remember.
His hands were cold and slick, but using the hook end of the weapon to hauled himself up and out of the cold water. Chilled again, he looked around and followed a path downstream, slipping once on a rock that cut his foot painfully he fell into the dust of the late afternoon. Dust and dirt sticking to his wet, sunburned skin and limping in pain from the laceration on the instep of his foot, he walked as best he could. He fatigued quickly and began to shiver violently in the waning light of the day, even as he exerted himself. Stepping into a clearing and realized he stood on a wide path – more like a road! This meant someone must use it.
He was thankful as he walked a the slight downhill slope when a cloaked rider and horse pulled up, surprised at the sight of a nude, sunburned, dirt-covered and battered walker, the rider looked about the tree line.
“Who are you and what has happened that you would be looking like you are nearly dead?” The rider asked.
He knew the language well, but found he could not talk to the rider. His new body did not include knowledge on how to talk in a language. He had never spoken in a Terran voice, all he could do was make incomprehensible noises and then point at his throat.
Only then did he feel the great weight of what he would learn later would be total exhaustion. He felt like so much weight in his feet that he could no longer take another step. He slumped to his knees, using his weapon and sole companion as a brace, then his consciousness slipped into the darkness that closed around him and took him in its merciful embrace.
When he next awoke, he was on a sleeping pallet with a brightly dyed blanket over him and a familiar figure sitting on a stool watching him.
He had the look of an old man, but to call him elderly would be a mistake. He resembled a bearded grandfather, or the personification of the spirit of giving that is St. Nicholas. Except this jolly old St. Nick looked like one who spent far too much time in the gym and this was no ordinary angel.
Finis, the Angel Of Death, was watching the banished demon-come-human with an entertained look on his face.
“How do you feel? You have been asleep for nearly 24 hours.” He spoke in the language of the Host that only those of either side could understand.
“I have pain in places I never thought I had.” He took a breath and moaned as he tried to move. “This is a bad place for me, I cannot speak the languages even though I can understand them. The Dark Lord has put me in a dangerous place. I can not use my powers or I go back.”
The new human sighed heavily and leaned back closing his eyes against the nightmare that he found himself in. All because of his weakness for the Angel named Bronwyn.
Finis chuckled quietly before he spoke.
“There is one thing that the Supreme one granted to you.” He smiled. “After this, you can speak their language, and I can expand on that. You will be able to talk to all of them in their native tongues, after a fashion. You need familiarity with who you are talking with before you are able to speak to them. It would also be best that you think of something to explain why you were acting like some insane wild man staggering down the road looking like someone had beaten you with every ugly stick in these mountains.”
“What do I call myself? What CAN I call myself that doesn’t raise eyebrows and questions?”
The Angel of Death thought for a moment.
“You were not named by the Emperor, this would be a good thing, you would want to use that and this would be bad. No demon’s name would work on this plane of existence. As for a good name? I see that you had landed in a stream. Call yourself “Hill” or “Rivers” or something anyone would accept in this age.”
“Okay, good for a last name, but what about a first?” He thought of the name of Greenhill as he asked the Angel, shaking his head and not liking the name.
Finis looked away for a moment and sighed, “At this time in human history, there where few that had more than one name, and you are in a Celt, actually pre-Celt time. I would pick something like Conn or Cuinn, these are common names of this era.”
“I think Cuinn will work, recall that name as being one of the earliest recorded names– and you say this is what age?” He nodded.
“I have not told you yet.” Finis shook his head. “There are many things you have yet to learn about that are going to work for and against you.” the angel took a breath, “First: this is the late Neolithic era the island of what will be known as Ireland in the future time-line. You cannot change your time and you are alone. You can not die – you are immortal, but you will be surprised how much pain and misery you can live through. Added to the requirement that you must not use any of your powers, but they will be at your fingertips always. All you need to do is call upon them. But!” The Angel of Death held up his index finger in admonishment. “Just one time and AFTER you do? You will return and then suffer the ravages of the condemned, forever as a slave of hell, no name, no power other than to scream in agony, to run along next to the victims of those who have fallen prey to the true demons. You cannot use any power, any time if you wish to stay here and away from the pits of Hell. They will all be watching, Angel AND Demon. All want you to fail, you have inflicted too much damage to Angels, have advanced too far in the Hoard. Only myself had any thoughts to deal with you directly as a liaison.”
“The only one that wants to deal with me is the Angel of Death, the one being that NO one wants to talk to, in the first place?” His predicament was getting so much worse by the minute.
Cuinn sighed and nodded, the most vile parts of human history had such things as dismemberment and torture. If he was at the dawn of the bronze age, he had a lot of superstitions to deal with in the coming years.
Pulling at his ear he asked Finis. “So you are to by my companion through all of this? My spy to the non-corporeal side?”
Finis laughed out loud, “HO! Hah… no… I am simply your liaison. You have someone who is even now seeking to assist you. You do not have many who would help you, there are many that have a grudge against you and that ax of yours.”
Looking out the window, Cuinn nodded slowly. It was war between the two sides, but hard feelings for those that suffered the pain of being sent back by his hand still existed. He was still the enemy after all. He could not see the angels that surrounded him and wished him to fail, to become a lowly slave of the deepest depths of Hell and not one of their own.
He wondered just who would be the spy, the friend that would help him or the underhanded soul who might push him to fail.
This would be a short rebellion on his part, he would be the lesson for everyone else who dared cross lines.
No one cheated Satan.
9. The Big Switch
On earth, no telescopes spotted the approaching missile, no alarms sounded anywhere. As the first of the chunks of space debris fell into to the atmosphere, heads turned and looked up. Only minimal alarm was felt anywhere until the planet suffered a direct hit at the Yucatán peninsula.
All eyes looked at the growing column of destruction as the shock wave, faster than the speed of sound, overwhelmed the witnesses. There was little time to panic, less time to react as the wind left only dust behind. It pulverized the very ground, turning stone and stick into missiles. Pebbles flying faster than a bullet rode the shock waves as death spread from the epicenter of the impact. The very air became compressed, heating to thousands of degrees as it scoured the planet of life. Death rained down from the upper atmosphere heating the air to oven temperatures. Firestorms blasted along the ground with the super-hurricane winds that blasted flesh and earth as the shock wave spread around the globe.
Among the messengers of the Host. Profound was the sadness and defeat. All the host hovered above the beauty that their lord had created without moving, now a smoking ruin. No commands came to save any souls, all was silent sadness. So much life lost, for no reason. The dark realm had won with the effort of the host, the Dark Lord’s plans blindsided the Host. A betrayal of the war, they had obliterated those they swore to protect.
Then, quietly. One of the highest angels appeared, smiling. She commanded them all to walk the land and see up close.
“No one had died.” She announced in a soft voice.
Unbelieving, the bruised and depressed army of angels walked the land in a slow, defeated march. Looking about them at the death and wreckage of the planet. Picking out the view of body parts that laid strewn about were oddly shaped in death. Here a cow type of creature, its skeleton denuded of flesh as it lay in the gray dust and ash.
Some of the warriors noticed an odd club-shape to the end of its tail. An odd deformity, for sure. Then the group looked around, a parrot beaked animal, huge in size, lay on its side with a bony crest covering its neck broken, but still obvious what it was. This was what the humans had identified as a triceratops! This was a prehistoric animal, long before the Lord chose the next step for this planet.
The Lord and Master of this all had allowed the armies of the Dark Realm to believe they had won. Only just changing time in the universe when no one would be aware, when all other battles were raging to whatever end. Meanwhile the world of the man was safe.
A simple change for the supreme being. No one expected to have the universe around them changed, without a sound as the Master of All simply changed where in the time-line that the destruction happened.
8. Battle Chess of Masters
With a slight motion of his huge clawed hand the Emperor of Hell sent them in a flash to where the battle now in progress. Here an angel that was not well-known, being beaten by two of the lower caste and soon would be returning to the other place if no help would come soon. The demon directed the battle from his position to the other imps and damned under his command. Those of the Dark Realm were being effective in keeping the Others busy. The main goal was not this small mountain of a rock being moved away from its orbit. It was going to hit the moon if the Others interfered, protecting the other blue and white sphere. The main one was the huge asteroid, a continent-sized lump of iron and nickel that had been quietly brought into its place and the diversion was working perfectly.
Sound does not carry in the vacuüm of space, but immortals still heard the pitch of the battle as it intensified, the demon was now in the middle of the fight, hand to hand, club to ax, ax to sword, sword to club. With a mighty leap he landed in between several of the Others, The battle-ax, a gift from Hades to him long ago and given the name Claw of Hades sang its terrible song as he sent six angels back to their Master and Lord. Feeling the ground shudder behind him, he turned and looked up at the largest angel he had ever seen. He never knew that something like that was part of the Others! This angel was huge, easily quadruple his size and she was beautiful and frightening, full of holy anger focused directly on him. As he shrugged inwardly he launched his first attack before the angel did. It was a struggle to get inside the danger zone of the curved crystal blade, he drew back the Claw of Hades, the only reward was an unbelievably hard blow from the back of a huge right hand.
“Ugh- now that hurt!” His eyes seemed to rattle in their sockets.
The demon’s body skipped across the surface of the asteroid and crashed into a vertical projection. He saw as his painstaking effort tested his will as he pulled himself from the crater caused by his impact, the angel was stalking him.
The angel was not finished inflicting pain.
Gaining his feet he launched himself up, trying to out flank this angel he was hit again with a bolt of energy from the sword that the angel was carrying. Dropping his ax, again he bounced across the surface of the asteroid as the battle raged around him.
“This is getting old.” The demon thought as the angel shook the rock with every step, approaching him with the sureness of a victor. The demon grimaced, victory or defeat, it is never sure until the end. His hands clutching at nothing, they were empty where the battle-ax once resided, he watched the angel approach him, the glittering in her eye. She had hell’s champion at her mercy and mercy was not what she was going to give.
His ax, the Claw of Hades now on the far side of this angel, the only way for him to get to it now was through her. Doing that so far has proved painful in a most brutal fashion. With all this terrifying and beautiful angel’s attention on him now, raising her huge weapon for the final stroke, the demon raised his hand. Not a plea for mercy, it was a command.
A call to an old friend.
As the angel focused on him, he focused on his battle-ax, until now laying quiet and abandoned in the dust. Now it stirred.
It answered the call and command to return to its master. The main blade pointed forward with the speed of thought, the battle-ax struck the angel in back and passed through the middle of her soul. The impact ended the fight and erupting into light and thunder, sent her back to her Lord and King. The Claw of Hades was only returning to its master, but the weapon cannot be stopped when the command was felt. The ax settled into his hand still sparkling from passing through the body of the giant angel, ringing with the power that lived within its metallic heart.
The ax quieted as its master used it for a crutch at the moment.
Looking around the demon saw another interloper coming towards the rock. It is HER! Of all the horrid luck, he has to fight Bronwyn! Taking the pain of his recent fight and making it his strength, he watched her engage and wipe off the battlefield a dozen demons with her sword. All of those mid-caste that were under his charge. Other demons were fleeing from her.
“Cowards.” Was his only thought.
With great effort he kicked off, up and above her, arching over where she stood, he dropped down from behind to collide with her do drive her into the floating mountain. But she was too good, too fast. Launching herself with a flap of her great wings she spun around and deflected his attack. Only with the design of the ax trapping her blade and his prehensile tail keep them close as he pulled her into a deep crater of the rocky surface below.
Bronwyn fought furiously kicking at him as he tried to get her attention. She was in a berserk rage, seeing only demon, not who he was. Finally with a sudden advantage, he trapped her blade and disarmed her by twisting his weapon. Disarmed She stopped fighting for a moment as the tip of his weapon pressed against her throat forcing her to look in his eyes. He was about to strike she knew, but he was not moving. They remained motionless for a moment, then with a move he opened a dark rift next to her and shoved her with her spear tipped sword, closed it rapidly. He did not notice four of the Black Battalion that had come to give him backup. Looking at one another they backed away and rejoined the shrinking circle of battling demons as the Others were gaining the upper hand before this rock could impact the earth.
Bronwyn fell on to a dust strewn patch. Momentarily disoriented, she looked around when a sound behind her caught her attention. She turned her and saw her sword glittered as it fell out of a closing dark vortex and the handle of the holy blade struck her in the side of the head infuriating her once again. Looking about her, she saw the binary stars that governed this quad-planet system. Far away in time and space from where she started. He had removed her from the battle without inflicting any wound, had spun the clock to a random place in time to further her difficulty in returning. But she had to return, but which direction in space? Or time? Looking as far as she could see, with sight far better than the Hubble Space Telescope she could see the planet, there was no fighting.
“So, he changed time on me, too?” Smiling to herself, “Nice trick. Different place AND time to get me lost? Little devil, I will kick your ass.”
She thought he would be quite surprised when she returned. With a slight pop of sound she left this alien world and headed back to the conflict.
On the asteroid, the angels were winning. No missile of earth could move the planetoid sized iron and stone asteroid. The circle of remaining demons that protected the teams that guided the asteroid towards the small blue sphere below was grew steadily smaller. The host of the angels slowly tipped battle for victory. Holes in the line of demons opened up.
Bronwyn’s demon was directing a regrouping, a general of the Dark Legion fell to one of the Seraph, leaving only the one demon to direct and command. The shrinking circle covered the escape of the teams of demons and imps that had done the dirty work while the other demons had battled to protect them. They began to abandon the effort, while angels pushed to the giant rock away from the earth. With the last of the teams gone from the surface, the circle of demons now almost back to back against the advancing angels, disappeared in a flash of flame and thunder.
Angels by the thousands pushed the mass of rock and iron away from the blue planet, it was the focus of all the host to push when one angel called a warning that another asteroid was in the way and they were going to hit it. A great effort of angels who struggled to change the angle and prevent a collision, but too late, the asteroid collided with a titanic explosion of kinetic energy with the other larger rock. Huge pieces splitting off in island-sized chunks.
The piece angled on a collision course to the earth. It became clear that the battle for the smaller asteroid was a diversion. It only looked like the smaller bolide would impact the earth, instead there was another larger rock in the in the path of danger. The death of the earth’s population, wiped out by the very host that was attempting to prevent the catastrophe that happened.
7. Battle Plans
Bronwyn, the angel, now with her group of armed and muscular angels of all shapes and sizes. Each carried weapons that glittered with the eternal light. some of the angels welcomed her, while others left for other places. Being a guardian angel is no easy task. Rumors of the latest confrontation that was to come had been spoke of.
Two of the Seraph were to call the angels together and break the details of the news.Michael, who had defeated Lucifer during the first rebellion was always at Gabriel’s side, the two were friends and it was Gabriel that brought messages from the Lord. Michael was Gabriel’s assurance that the message was not lost or corrupted.
Gabriel sat and placed his hands on his hips. It took a moment, but then drew his breath and announced that a battle was in the offing. The Dark Realm had begun an event that threatened the very existence of the earth. Those all who were not assigned to other duties were to change the outcome. It would not be easy, the numbers of demons and imps were large and the fighting would be intense according to what the Lord had said, but victory would happen with no doubts. The Lord of the Host said it was so.
In a rage(his usual state of being), the demon entered the arena and other imps and slaves bowed to the dark warrior’s passing. He was one of the higher demons and though he still did not have his name returned to him, he was one of the most feared. Even so, one of the mid-ranking demons stood up as he passed, refusing to bow to the warrior that approached.
A challenge for position.
The challenging demon drew a weapon, a flaming sword, only to have it and its arm drop to the ground. In a blur, the high caste demon struck the middle demon down cruelly and then with a furious blow, the ax of the higher ranked demon split the lower ranked one down to his pelvis. Among these immortals there are fates worse than death. This mid-demon was no longer one of the mischief makers, but now only a lowly slave. A gamble and a loss of status, the low demon had put his all on the line and lost it. It was over in thoughtless accusation – But the Claw of Hades was faster than thought, even though a sheath was a place for it, the battle-ax almost never put away when He walked the Outside. Little did this demon care for any creature here, he hated them all. The smell, worse than humans and the constant efforts of making the Dark Lord notice them. He had been there before, in one time. He had given it up for a treasure. If they only knew what he knew, they would not wish for attention of the Dark One, whose attentions could be a nightmare from that they would never wake.
The stony path wound through the blasted thicket of death and suffering. Those who earned all the pain, it turned now on them. In the clearing of the cavern as he looked about. That could be the only word he ever called this place. The urge to come here was rare. Only caused when the Dark Master had a special task. When the call came, it was irresistible. Each one was always a little different. Twice it had passed to cause the death of all humankind.
Terrans he liked to call them, for this demon hated almost all the life on that little blue planet. To call them “human” was an insult to the word. So they were of that place where the planet Terra was. The dirt that they called Terra Firma would be, hence the name he called them – “Terrans”.
As he stood in the middle of his only sanctuary with the other winged warriors of this realm, he looked about. Many of the hoard were there that were not usually in attendance. The plan was laid out by Pythos, the demon of lies. It was he who explained that the lower caste would do the work while the winged higher caste were to defend against the Others who would attempt to cause them to fail. Most of the events were already in place and only now was the despised High Throne becoming aware of the impending doom of the planet. A rock, the size of a small moon, was now racing towards the intercept point of the planet. Falling to the yellow star it was gaining speed with the help of the hoard of the weaker demons. The higher ranks were to keep the rock on course to its destination.
6. Dawn’s Early Light
Outside the dawn broke to a cloudless day. The demon sat in the canopy of the trees, a shadow in shadows. Pondering what had happened.
What HAD happened?
It was beyond his knowledge or reason. Unbelievably the pain and anger had gone for a few moments. Being immortal he had always known blackness, it comforted him in the mischief that his kind did. Even in battle with the Others, he enjoyed sending them back to their Lord with grievous injuries. His own injuries let him just be stronger for the pain from them. But feeling the seed of calm in him was disturbing and confusing.
Clouds had begun to drift over the valley, the imp flitted above them and looked down from high above. From his hiding spot in the puffy white clouds, he spotted a shepherd trying to get a small lamb out of a muddy pool.
In that moment he struck on an idea, in the early morning light, his wings made hardly a sound as he dropped lightly by a ram, he whispered into its ear and pointed. The Shepard being busy trying to free his charge from its muddy prison was unaware of the glint in the eye of the ram as it charged towards his unprotected backside.
The lamb could only duck as the man sailed over her head and landed on the other side in the deeper mud and water. Yelling oaths and making comments about the rams parentage, the man failed to notice the shadow that flitted through the growth of trees stampeding the free sheep in all directions. The demon cackled at this mischief then flapped his leathery wings and hid in the cloud above and watched the man free himself and the lamb at the same time.
Finally the shepherd crawled up on dry land where he stood and turned. Looking from the edge of the mud puddle, the Shepherd saw his flock had spread through the trees. The mud covered, soaking wet and fuming shepherd was making comments about the parentage of the ram when he put down the lamb he reached for his hat and found it missing. He swore and looked around and found it.
There it lay behind him and still in the mud, too far out to reach.
Jumping up and down cursing incoherently at the top of his voice, the sounds of the Shepherd’s anger was music to the demon’s ears. The man struggled back out into the mud to the hat that was beyond the reach of his crook, swearing and screaming. The demon’s dark spirit was lifted, this was a good moment in this morning of frustration and confusion. His morning mischief complete.
Then he was gone in a clap of thunder that was heard by humans down the vale and presumed that it was the last grunt of the waning storm.
13. Heaven Sent
She had meditated, but peace would not come. In this place Love and Peace were the orders of the realm. But, alas, such was not forthcoming. She had known that Satan cast him out and was living with humans. Even such things are harsh for imps and demons. She knew in her heart that she had to try to ask the favor and be allowed so she could help him, somehow. With a heavy sigh, she stood up and walked away to where help could be obtained.
As she approached the place where the Lord of Everything held court, she met Gabriel the Archangel outside.
“You have been expected. If anything, you are late.” He brushed a crimson lock out of her face, giving her a critical look as he gave Bronwyn the rules of speaking in the inner sanctum.
“Speak only when spoken to, keep your answers short and direct. One word answers are best. Do not exaggerate, you would be found out before you even said the words. Stand straight, smile but do not look directly at the Lord, stand up straight. Use the title at the end of each answer. Yes, Lord. No, Lord. And so forth. Spend as little time as possible there, the Lord is very busy. Stand up straight. All answers to questions and requests are final, do not argue or attempt to change the answer with any kind of debate. Be sure to stand up straight. Now, off you go, do not wait around. And stand up straight!”
Bronwyn stepped through the gates and into the light. She was momentarily blinded, but as her eyes adjusted, she found herself in a garden with the bluest of skies. A woman slightly older than her was planting a row of flowers in one area of the garden. No one else was nearby, and the woman looked up and smiled, but kept at her work that she seemed to enjoy a great deal.
Hesitantly, Bronwyn took a step towards the woman, moving so she could see all that the digging and planting was doing when the woman stood up and brushed the dirt from her hands.
“Well, a lot done, but a lot to do still.” She smiled at the younger angel. “You have come to see me in regards of a matter of a demon thrown out by his master and Emperor?”
Bronwyn took a sharp breath “You are the Lord? I expected someone older, a man with a beard perhaps. I had never thought of a woman.”
The Woman-Lord laughed delicately. “I can be what you wish to see, but I thought you might have a better time relating to someone closer to your age. Image and perception accounts for a lot when telling of matters such as you have. I can even be a girl of your appearance.”
With that, the Lord changed slightly and appeared as young as Bronwyn, a girl that she could confide in, with bright eyes and a large smile as she sat.
“Tell me! Tell me about him? Is he exciting? Does he make your toes curl when you think of him?” The girl picked a flower and sniffed it with her eyes closed. “Someone that would hold your hand and laugh with a sparkle in his eyes just for you.” She giggled as she put the flower in Bronwyn’s hair.
Bronwyn laughed softly. “This is a bit too much, too fast of a change.” She sighed, “But, I know he is among humans, he is alone and cannot speak the language. He risked everything for me.”
Bronwyn frowned. “He now is in need of help and we are always meant to help someone who needs or asks. Even if they should never ask, you have said that they should be offered a way out. That sometimes the most sighted can be the most blind.”
The Supreme Being now appeared as an elderly woman with wisdom and long found happiness nodded. “My child, you have the power to do as you wish. It has always been about freedom of choice. You are here on this plane of existence because of the path you chose. He is on his path because of the choices he made in his early life. If you think he needs guidance and help, you may go. Finis has already talked with him and given him a gift that will be most useful. But you must choose. Only you can choose. You can guide him as an angel and then Finis is no longer going to be involved, until… and if… he fails his tribulation.” The elder Lord said softly.
Taking Bronwyn’s hands in hers, the matronly image continued. ”Finis will return him to the dark-side as a slave forever; or you can go without your powers, just as immortal as he is, but you will not have any other direct contact than Finis. He will be your mentor, guide and go-between of this place and the human existence, other angels have spoken. They have all said that they will not aid or hinder. The only one that has said he would make contact with you is Micheal, I have left it to him to act as a messenger. Other than Finis, you may not call upon the Host for any reason. You can speak in prayer to me only.”
Bronwyn jumped up. “I choose to be human with him! If that is one of my choices, that is the choice I will be!”
“My dear child, be sure this is what you want. On earth there is a saying ‘be careful of what you wish for, you may get it.’”
“Lord, this is what I want. I wish to live with him, wherever he goes on that plane, I want to stand at his side.”
The slightly older woman appeared again “Then it is so, you may keep your blessed sword and angel armor, you will have knowledge that you have now and clothing. Several of the Archangels have said they also have gifts to give you that will not cause disruption with humans. No magic, no powers. But you will not grow old, this is one of the trials you will have to endure. For if it is thought that you are more than human, they will turn on you and he. You can not stay in one area for very long. No place will be a permanent home for the both of you. Wars will come, famine, terrible things. He is in a time of prehistory of human kind. The best and worst of the human soul has yet to be realized. You will be part of it, you may influence it to one degree or another. Finis will help guide you through the times and ages. But be warned! Demons and other dark forces will try to create havoc with you and cause him to fail. All he has to do is call upon his powers once. Just once. Just one time and he will be lost to the Emperor of Hell for all time.”
With a motherly look in her eyes “My child, go now to him. You have only one chance to choose. Make a wise choice, for it will be forever. Time will move for you only one direction, one minute after another. Time will not be as flexible for you as it is for the Host, how we can pick and move forward or backward through time. For us, time is not a line, but there for you, it will be.”
She smiled. Once more a girl appearing the same age as Bronwyn. “Go on hun! Be happy and take good and well care of him. Give him some love from me, too!” Her soft voice sounded like bells as she talked and laughed while she bounced on her feet like an excited teen confided in by a friend about her love.
Bronwyn walked down the path with a light heart and a little fear, at the edge of the garden she turned and looked back. There stood a smiling grandfatherly type that held a growing flower in his hand as he tenderly planted another growing life in the fertile soil of the garden.
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