Zera had locked himself away since returning. He didn’t speak a word on the way back. Seraph didn’t know what to do. Even Ramiel was silent. Seraph wanted to knock on the door, but her hesitation stopped her. His heart never mended properly.
The Reverend Wilson locked the cathedral. He knew the severity of the situation. Barachiel, aware of an incident, appeared, simply shaking his head. Seraph walked away from the door; they both headed down the stone-lined stairs. They sat in the cold pews.
‘I take it he ain’t asleep?’ asked Seraph.
‘That would be easy.’
‘Care to explain?’
Barachiel leant back shaking his head. His concerns were coming true. He rubbed his eyes. His mind warped back to the eerie uneasiness all Angels inexplicably felt days before Lucifer fell. Something terrible is going to happen. ‘The Watcher Blades are gathering. Uriel would never have posted you here if she knew Shamsiel was in Rumon,’
‘The Watcher Blades, in the hands of the opposite allegiance, are destined to clash. It only takes one Fallen Angel to cause chaos.’
Arakiel hummed, agreeing with Barachiel’s assessment. ‘What happened to Zera?’`
‘Have you ever been betrayed, Serpah? Not a friend talking behind your back or even a lover cheating you, but someone burning your entire world to the ground?’
Seraph gulped, dread surged through her synapses.
Barachiel took her expression as a no. ‘A century ago, Zera, Valafar and Laylah were an effective demon investigation team.’
‘Zera loved Laylah, didn’t he?’
‘Married in fact.’
Just hearing that made Seraph understand. No wonder his heart never mended.
‘Love’s an odd thing, Seraph,’ Barachiel mused, ‘It makes you happier than you’ve ever been, but crushes you for longer after you’ve lost it.’
‘Valafar defected, he obtained Shamsiel. He burnt the village Debir off the map and killed Laylah. Zera was too late and lost. I found him unconscious in a pile of burnt wood.’
Seraph winced. That’s got to hurt. Zerachiel’s emptiness was becoming defined. No wonder he was so defensive seeing Arakiel.
‘But that was a century ago?’ commented Seraph.
‘That’s my fault. I took him in, trained him to box it away, focus on his mission. What’s a century to an Angel, after all? I didn’t want his grief to corrupt him, make him a Fallen Angel.’
Hani appeared out of the vestry. She couldn’t miss Seraph and Barachiel sitting in the pews. Something had happened. Both Seraph’s and Barachiel’s concern etched onto their demeanour.
She walked over. ‘Everything alright?’
Seraph glared at Barachiel, directing him to send her away. This was above her remit.
Barachiel sighed. ‘Sit down, Hani.’
Seraph kicked Barachiel.
He ignored her. Hani sat down, distinctively uncomfortable.
‘We have a problem, Haniel,’ Barachiel explained.
‘Shamsiel is in Rumon, in the hand of a Fallen Angel, someone Zera has history with.’
Seraph shook her head. She saw Hani’s brain activating its blind panic protocol. Her skin went pale, her breathing panicked. She’s a fresh graduate, Barachiel. She’s too inexperienced to cope with a threat posed by a malicious Watcher Blader.
‘Seraph didn’t want me to tell you this.’
Barachiel dropped that one like a lead balloon.
Seraph was caught off guard. Wait? What? I’m the bad guy now!
‘However, you need to know. Things just got eighty-four times more dangerous.’
‘Why eighty-four?’ asked Seraph.
‘That was Debir’s population before Valafar wiped it off the map.’
Seraph found it hard to swallow. Hani thought Seraph and Barachiel possessed incredible courage not to be frightened or else were skilled at hiding it.
‘Hani, I want you to do some sword training with Seraph,’ Barachiel instructed. Seraph registered, but Barachiel moved on before any interjections. ‘You may need to fight. There’s a training room beyond the crypt. Go and get ready. Seraph will be with you shortly.’
Hani rushed away, impetus in every stride.
Barachiel smiled. He turned his attention to a scowling Seraph.
‘First you stitch me up and now you want me to train her?’
‘She’s my apprentice, Seraph. She’s as responsible for Rumon as we are.’
Seraph didn’t object, she just accepted. She stood up. She looked towards Zera’s room. Barachiel’s eyes did the same.
‘You going to talk to him?’ asked Seraph.
‘He’s open with me. I’ve given him enough time to think.’
Seraph crooked her eyebrow. What does he mean by that?
‘Never spend too long along with your own thoughts, Seraph. You become lost before you realise you took the wrong turn.’
Barachiel spoke from personal experience. Seraph knew he had the best insight into Zera’s psychology.
‘Uriel mentioned you were unorthodox, Seraph,’ Barachiel remarked.
‘Hani might benefit from that,’ he replied with a hint of a smile.
Seraph liked the sound of that. She couldn’t help but smile back. I can see why Uriel holds you in such high esteem. Seraph started to head over to the crypt.
‘One more thing, Seraph,’ Barachiel announced.
Seraph turned around.
‘Make sure Uriel’s report is detailed.’
Seraph nodded, off to her task. The Reverend Wilson shuffled towards Barachiel, twisting his hand over each other.
‘All finished?’ he asked nervously, needing to re-open the cathedral.
‘For now,’ Barahciel replied.
‘Everything alright? Should I be worried?’
Barachiel paused. He chose not to answer. Instead, he left him hanging, leaving the Reverend. The Reverend Wilson shook his head. Oh dear!
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