Author’s Note: Short chapter, but we’re starting to see an advancement in the story here. Enjoy!
Volume 2 – Chapter 5
The moon, a waning crescent the color of paper left to sit too long in the reams, hung low in the sky, casting a dull and slanted light on the grassy field. Alone, an angel walked, hands shoved in the oversized pockets of his trenchcoat as he noticed with despair the droplets of water congregating on the top of his genuine-leather shoes.
With a sigh, he quickened his pace, heading for the line of trees barely visible in the dark, where they stood towering over a line of small sheds with far-too-large padlocks twisted onto their fronts, protecting the sports equipment and gardening tools inside from prying, foreign hands.
The angel squeezed his way between the rough wooden walls of the nearest sheds and descended a slight hill, stopping to glance up at the tops of the trees for a moment before turning his attention to the ground. He ran a finger over the roots, the thin blades of grass, before reaching into his pocket again.
This will do, he thought, producing a small silk bag emblazoned with a shining sun. He reached in and tenderly brought forth a cluster of small, yellowed teeth, which he cupped between his hands as if they were as valuable as a freshly-cut diamond–which, he thought with a smirk, they were.
Wasting no time, the angel set to work, using his free hand to dig at the ground, removing chunks of grass and dirt at a steady pace. When he had finished his task, resulting in a two-inch hole in the ground no longer than his hand, he lowered the teeth in carefully before filling the hole and standing, brushing off the bottom of his coat and clenching his teeth.
When the demon spoke, he didn’t even turn around.
“Planting spartoi, Barachiel?” he asked. The angel could practically feel the amused grin dancing across his face. “That’s so very dark of you. I’m surprised.”
Barachiel, measuring his voice to avoid displaying his inner thoughts to the enemy, turned to the side. “Even evil things aren’t so evil when used for a righteous cause.”
The demon’s laugh was so full that strands of his curly dark hair began to shake. “Evil is always evil, no matter how you spin it. That’s why it works so well.”
The angel feigned disinterest. “I don’t think you really believe that, Naberius.”
“Eh, maybe not,” Naberius admitted. “Then again, I’m not so sure what to believe nowadays. I assume the same is true for you, my friend?”
It was difficult for Barachiel to gulp down his response to the demon’s shameless use of the word “friend,” but he managed, through both sheer force of will and what he imagined to be the grace of God.
Despite not getting an answer, the demon strolled forward, coming within inches of Barachiel and leaning closer–to the point that if the angel moved so much as an inch he would brush against Naberius’ close-cut facial hair.
“So, which one are they for?” he whispered. His breath smelled like cinnamon gum.
“I do not know what you are talking about,” Barachiel replied curtly, pushing back a strand of wavy blond hair that had been displaced by his breath.
Naberius back up, his face overtaken by a serious mask. “Don’t play dumb with me, angel. I know exactly what you’re trying to do. Now, which one is it for?”
At any other time, the angel would have gone to his death before revealing such information to a demon, but under the current circumstances, Barachiel did not see himself as having a choice.
“The demon, preferably,” he replied. “She should be easier to draw out. Although, the best case would be to get both involved.”
With a low grunt, the demon shoved his hands in his pockets and glanced at the thinning moon, the pale light catching in his eyes and casting them an odd shade of maroon.
“Did you ever think, just for a second, that we’re not meant to interfere with this?” he asked, not of anyone in particular.
Which, of course, meant that the question must be directed at Barachiel himself.
“Did you ever think that maybe we are?” he replied, giving the demon an unjustified smile of his own.
With a small shake of the head, Naberius strolled past the angel, kneeling over the freshly upset earth.
“If you’re going to do this, at least make sure no one can come and mess it up,” he said, placing a finger on the rough bark of the bottom of the tree, where it sunk in about half an inch, allowing him to carve out a small triangle on the surface.
Removing his pointer finger from the base of the tree and placing the pad of his thumb in the center of the triangle, he let out a breath, setting the triangle alight for a moment with small lines of white-hot fire.
Naberius stood up, clapping his hands together as a sign of a job well done, but Barachiel hardly took notice. Instead, he approached the tree, rising off of the ground until he reached eye level with the lowest branch. Seemingly out of nowhere, he produced a static gray dove, and placed it on the branch before lowering himself gently to the damp grass below.
Without another word, the angel began to take his exit, shoving his hands in the large pockets of his trenchcoat once again and wondering about the fate of his shoes. The demon, with reluctance, followed him for a few steps, calling out to get his attention.
“One more thing,” he said. “What do you plan on doing with them?”
The angel stopped, and glanced back at the demon with narrowed eyes, although whether he was looking at Naberius or the trees was hard to tell.
“I’ll lead them here,” he said. “That’s the only way I’ll be able to make them come back.”
With that, he disappeared, treading the soft grass of the field more quickly than before and dissolving into the night. Naberius kept his eyes on the spot where he disappeared for a moment, before turning and walking towards the shadows himself.
“Well, I can’t let myself get shown up by an angel, can I?” he said, to no one but himself, before stepping into the shadows and flying out, a pure black crane making its way across the arc of a darkening sky.