‘Hello?’ a nervous voice called.
Seraph turned, Hani approached with great caution, uncomfortable amongst the arcing vaults and engraved tombstones. Her eyes diverted to Arakiel leaning against the wall, its glow welcomed her. Seraph threw off her tan coat; underneath her countrywoman’s bodice laced tightly. Her biceps flexed, her abs toned over several years. Now, her wings opened wide, halo shining bright.
Hani gulped. That’s just not fair.
Seraph threw her a wooden blade. Hani caught it, not hiding her nerves, her wings opening meekly, halo noticeably dimmed. Seraph had no sympathy. Get ready for the training of your life.
‘You’ve done sword training before?’ asked Seraph, spinning her own wooden blade.
‘At the academy,’ Hani replied.
Seraph smiled. You are not prepared for what you’re about to face.
Seraph lunged forward, swinging her blade. Hani blocked instinctively. She was pushed back, inch by inch, her muscles quivering.
‘Not bad reactions,’ Seraph observed. ‘Strength needs improving, though.’
Seraph pulled back, giving Hani chance to catch her breath.
‘Demons and Fallen Angels won’t give you a breather, Hani,’ Seraph explained. ‘There are some opponents you never face.’
‘Valafar?’ Hani muttered.
‘Before you finished your first breath, you would be ash.’
Hani’s hand visibly trembled, her wooden sword not still. ‘I’ll run from him,’ she said, fear gripping her pitch.
Seraph smiled. She isn’t stupid.
‘Saleos, however, is a possible enemy,’ Seraph explained.
‘A misogynistic and dim Fallen Angel, but a threat nonetheless.’
Seraph stormed forth again without announcing, striking furiously. Hani blocked each blow, her concentration draining with each block. Seraph searched for an opening, and when Hani’s arm was caught at an awkward angle, she found it. Seraph struck, pushing against Hani’s blade. Neither sword was going anywhere without Seraph’s consent. Seraph clenched her free hand; she clocked Hani in the jaw. The connection was pure and sweet.
Hani lost her balance. She tasted blood, the iron heightened her fury. ‘That was a cheap shot!’
Seraph shrugged her shoulders. ‘Demons find honour irritatingly pretentious. As long as they kill you, they don’t care.’
Hani thought about the what-if that was a claw instead of a fist. She dared not to continue that train of thought.
‘Zera and I are Missionaries by title, but Destroying Angels by definition,’ Seraph explained, pointing to Arakiel, its runes shining rose-gold.
‘We destroy demon operations; kill those who dare darken the Earth.’
Hani listened. Do I want to be that kind of Missionary?
Seraph watched Hani’s expression change from confusion to pondering. You don’t strike me as a potential Destroying Angel. ‘Barachiel’s got you interested in ghosts. Don’t blame you. In a different life, that may have been me. However, learning how to fight like a Destroying Angel would help you. Interested?’
Seraph cracked a smile. She’s got guts. ‘You should treat your blade as a separate object, Hani.’
‘All your focus revolves entirely around your blade not your arms and legs. That’s not how I fight, is it?’
Hani looked at her wooden blade. She felt it. She was too tense, her sword was dictating her every decision. She looked at Seraph. She’s calm personified. She’s so relaxed. It’s all so easy for her.
‘Your sword should be an extension of yourself, just one part of your arsenal,’ Seraph elaborated.
Hani liked that idea. It was a more refined way of fighting. Seraph stood as a testament to what was possible. Can I reach that level? ‘That doesn’t sound easy?’
‘It isn’t. A common method most young Missionaries adopt is to believe you are a blade wielded from upon high. But God doesn’t have time to fight for them. They die quickly. This is a much more robust philosophy, Hani.’
‘How long did it take you?’
‘To master? Decades. But even a single lesson carves an advantage against the untrained.’
Hani’s resolve hardened. She wanted to master this. Seraph saw it, she heard Arakiel oscillate at a higher frequency. Hani wants this.
Seraph attacked again, her curiosity growing. Hani blocked, this time she answered stronger. When the swords clashed, Hani didn’t hesitate. She instinctively threw a punch, catching Seraph’s jaw. Seraph stepped back. She laughed, pleased.
Hani beamed. One all.
‘Nice one,’ Seraph complimented.
‘I’m a fast learner.’
Seraph saw Hani’s pride growing, her confidence blooming. A concern manifested. It’s too quick. ‘Do you know why Angels fall?’
Hani was caught, wrong-footed by the tone shift. ‘They give into their inner darkness?’
Seraph shook her head. ‘That’s too simple. Angels have a higher intelligence, constructing morality and rationalising thoughts and emotions quicker than humans and demons. However, that higher intelligence can flip.’
Hani shuddered from a sudden, seizing fear. Fallen Angels were monsters that parents warned their children of. Hani became increasingly uncomfortable thinking about it – the darker side of Angelic nature.
‘Never forgot that disgust, Hani,’ Seraph pressed. ‘The day you do is the day you retire, got it?’
‘How many have you faced?’
‘Enough. But you’ll never forget the fear you feel when you clash blades. You end up staring at what might live in your heart.’
Seraph swung her sword again. She pressurized Hani, probing for any weaknesses. Hani’s armour, her façade, was only starting to form. Strikes peppered each possible angle. Hani kept up, but couldn’t seize any initiative.
Seraph identified the weak point. Checkmate. She slammed her blade directly downwards; the power generated was short, sharp and precise, knocking Hani’s blade away. Seraph didn’t miss the window she had generated herself. She beat her wings once, propelling herself into the air. She swung her leg, a stinging kick connected with Hani’s cheek. The crunch was audible.
Hani fell onto the ground; defeat more painful than the blow.
‘Sorry, but the teacher shouldn’t lose lesson one.’ Seraph offered her hand. Hani accepted, Seraph pulled her to her feet and picked up her wooden blade. ‘Good start, Hani.’
Hani smiled, departing to wash away the blood stains on her cheek. Seraph’s eyes diverted to Arakiel; its vibration increased in amplitude with Hani’s improvement. Yeah, I noticed too.
Interested? Want more? Here’s a link to the previous content for my project, soon to be a novel: SOR_Flashback: Laylah and An OK Blog: The Road to Ramiel Junction 4 – ‘I can’t help it! Love is a blessing and a curse!’ More available at http://www.oliverkerrigan.com.
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