Pearly Gates plc – Central Rumon
The tallest skyscraper in Rumon was, for those in the know, owned by Heaven. On the outside, Pearly Gates plc was the provider of over fifties holistic health insurance and funeral care. Defying market expectations, Pearly Gates plc always performed better than model predictions. Pearly Gates plc funded all Angelic Missionaries; most never asked how. Closed for the night, there were no humans present in the building. All the security guards were Angels, protecting this skyscraper’s most treasured secret. High on the upper levels, a dimensional fissure connecting Heaven and the Earth was contained within the walls.
Seraph stood before the dimensional fissure, staring into the chaotic, swirling primordial matter. The sky blue, lapis blue and yellow and white coloured components of the dimensional fissure overlapped with each other – it made Seraph ponder. Humans believe you have to die to go to Heaven, but there were always these portals opening and closing across the Earth. This fissure opened up decades ago, high in the sky, so Uriel built this skyscraper to protect it. How much money does she have access to?
Through the fissure, Uriel walked through, her platinum grey suit differentiated her from the blue dimensional gateway. Her two sets of majestic white Pegasus wings opened, one after the other, a symbol of the Archangel’s greater strength and status. Uriel’s halo crowned her head ‘I got your report, Seraph. These are concerning developments.’
‘What do we know about Valafar?’ Seraph’s halo and wings opened in response out of respect.
‘Not much since his battle with Zera.’
‘Not what I wanted to hear.’
Uriel shared Seraph’s concerns, her mind irritated by three Watcher Blades present in Rumon. She walked away from the dimensional fissure and stopped at the window, seeing the metropolis below. It keeps growing. ‘Ramiel and Shamsiel always violently clash. There’s a rivalry there, a nasty one. It’s more than a simple hatred.’
Arakiel shuddered. Seraph sensed it too. You’ve been a peacemaker too many times, haven’t you? Seraph wondered what to do now. This goes further than just dealing with Saleos. ‘My job must be quite different now?’
‘Yes and no.’
Seraph crooked her eyebrow. ‘What do you mean?’
‘You’re a Destroying Angel, Seraph. You still need to deal with Saleos and the negative impact demons have on the city. Valafar is not your mission. Do not go after him!’
‘I don’t plan to.’
Uriel saw Arakiel’s runes glowing, quaking at a low level. You’re far more aware of the consequences than we are. ‘Valafar will go after Zera. Whilst citizen safety is priority, if you are presented with the chance to take him out, do it.’
Seraph accepted the charge. ‘Why does that sound easier said than done?’
‘Because it always is.’
Uriel saw St. Denys in the distance. She turned back towards the dimensional fissure, leaning against the window. Her eyes weren’t deceiving her. Seraph seemed different, happier than before. Seems your time in Rumon has been fruitful so far. I’ve not seen you like this since that unfortunate day. ‘Have they asked you yet?’
Seraph’s face dropped, she knew what Uriel meant. ‘Zera asked. He called it the biggest mystery in the room when there were two Watcher Blades resonating, feeling each other out.’
Uriel hid a smile. Zera’s an observant one. I would ask the same questions. ‘It wasn’t your fault, Seraph.’ Uriel’s voice was a broken record. ‘Malik’s death wasn’t your fault. It was an exceptionally difficult mission.’
Seraph chewed the inside of her mouth; her emotions had been buried for the past few days, but not deeply. Malik … Her grip on Arakiel tightened.
Uriel knew how much this affected Seraph. You lost your spark, Seraph. But spending time with Zera, Barachiel and Hani has made you rediscover it. They don’t know it, but being with them helps you. ‘I know Malik’s personal feelings complicated things, Seraph. You hide behind the confident, sassy façade, but I know you hurt. You can’t hide that from an Archangel, Seraph.’
‘I’m not trying to.’ Seraph allowed her eyes to be drawn in by Arakiel’s runes. ‘I’m a Watcher Blader, Uriel. I have the power to save everyone, but I was sloppy. Malik died in such a cruel way. The group I had was disbanded that day. But I have new one.’
Uriel wasn’t expecting that. She sees them as her new group already? She saw Seraph smiling, excited. Zera had his group over a century ago that was cruelly broken apart. I threw him and Seraph together because they were Watcher Bladers, not factoring in that similarity. Maybe I should focus more on that in my planning.
‘It’s an odd group,’ Seraph mused, smiling. ‘You’ve got me, a stoic swordsman, a mad old Angel and an interesting potential.’
Uriel picked up on the last part of the sentence. Haniel’s making her impression. ‘How’s Hani doing?’
‘I trained her today. Kid’s got guts,’ Seraph replied.
‘Is she still in one piece?’
‘Yeah. Even took a kick and a punch to the face.’
Once again, Uriel didn’t question, she just accepted. Poor kid. Barachiel’s really thrown her into the deep end.
‘She’s no Destroying Angel, though,’ Seraph reported.
‘Things would have to go wrong if she was to become one. No, it is her ability to see ghosts that fascinated me.’
‘How did you know? She seems to have never seen one before coming to St. Denys?’
‘An Archangel’s intuition,’ Uriel answered with a wry smile. ‘But being able to fight will help her be a good detective. Especially, when the case needs to be closed.’
Seraph agreed, but there was more she wanted to ask. ‘Why her in particular?’
‘Barachiel has two criteria for apprentices. They’re hard to meet, hence his previous history of not having one. He only accepts Watcher Bladers or those of equal sensitivity to ghosts as himself.’
‘Hani is that sensitive?’
‘Barachiel is as sensitive to ghosts as the Archangels. In another life, he might have attained Archangel level if he chose a different path. If Hani is close to his abilities, then she must be trained by the best.’
Seraph didn’t answer, both impressed and dumbfounded. Uriel noted Arakiel, its runes flashing rose gold, as if trying to get her attention. Seraph opened and closed and her mouth, almost wanting to ask a question, but unsure how to phrase it.
‘What is it, Seraph?’
‘Zera suggested we spar.’
Uriel didn’t know how to answer that one. Two Watcher Blades colliding is my administrative nightmare. But, it would be intriguing.
‘I don’t hear no,’ Seraph probed.
‘Barachiel’s really rubbed off on Zera,’ Uriel remarked, shaking her head. Those two are an interesting pair.
‘I have a feeling Zera would have proposed a spar even before he met Barachiel,’ Seraph retorted.
Uriel couldn’t disagree. ‘If you and Zera can improve each other, then that might give us the edge over Valafar.’
Seraph listened. Uriel’s being thinking about this for a while, hasn’t she? I share the same frustrations about the deadlock between Heaven and Hell. Heaven would win, but then Hell would disperse, go back underground and become harder to stop. It’s a cycle stuck on repeat. Defeating Hell’s Watcher Blader might be a decisive blow.
‘Don’t get yourself maimed,’ Uriel warned.
Seraph nodded, smiling, pleased. Uriel returned towards the dimensional fissure; this was only the first meeting crammed into her hectic evening schedule. Before leaving however, she stopped in front of the fissure. She sensed Seraph had one more question.
‘How did you find Haniel? She’s looks like a normal graduate Missionary, but she’s different, unique for an Angel her age.’
Uriel smiled. ‘She very distinctively reminded me of someone.’ Uriel walked through the dimensional fissure, returning back to Heaven, leaving Seraph to process her cryptic answer.
Uriel’s answer led Seraph to one conclusion. It can’t be? No! Hani reminds you of yourself, Uriel?
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