Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 6, Chapter 4

IV

 

Xaphine flew between the lines, narrowly avoiding getting hit by a fireball. The two armies were now completely meshed together in combat. The angels pushed against the imps, and managed to get them back away from the ship for a few moments, but the imps kept on coming. Gilles was forced to pull the Black Vengeance out of the fray to regroup and take stock of the battle damage. The ship was already covered with Imps and they would need to deal with those ones before doing anything else.

Ariel approached Xaphine as their lines met up, “General, this isn’t looking good, there are just too many of them, we need to fall back!”

Xaphine shook her head, “If we fall back now, Aralyn is as good as dead. No, we keep fighting and if anyone tries to pull back, I will kill them myself. Are we clear?”

Ariel looked at Xaphine for a moment with a shocked expression, “I’ll rally our forces, general.”

She left Xaphine to try to organize a counter attack while she rallied her own squadron.

Gilles fought hard to clear the imps from the deck of his ship. Gavreel remained onboard and fought by his side. Once the Black Vengeance was out of the battle, the group focused on getting rid of the imps that were still on the ship. The crew had been driven back into groups and was being forced into corners of the ship. Gilles braced the helm and turned to help the rest of the men.

Gilles jumped off the aft castle into the middle of a group fighting imps. He brought his sword down on an imp that had its back turned. The sword struck its neck, which immediately turned to dust. After a few minutes of fighting, Gilles managed to free the group, “Come on men, let’s get these disgusting creatures off our ship!”

The men cheered and followed Gilles as he attempted to rescue a second group of crewmen trapped by the imps. Gilles moved in to attack and stabbed another imp in the back. The creature screamed and burst into smoke. Once it was gone, Gilles turned to attack another creature, when he saw a third one charging at him. Gilles had been caught off guard and there was no way for him to react in time.

Suddenly, Gavreel appeared between them. The spike that was intended for Gilles, plunged through her chest and emerged from her back. The creature let out a high pitched laugh and it slid the spike out of her body. Gilles felt as though he had a cannon in his chest that was about of go off, “You bastard!”

Gilles dove at the imp and drove his sword through its chest. As with all of the other imps, this one’s body vanished once it had been killed. Gilles dropped his sword and knelt down next to Gavreel. She had blood pouring out of her wound and was coughing badly. He tore a rag from his already shredded shirt and placed it on her wound, trying to stop the bleeding.

As he pressed down, he looked into her eyes, “You saved my life…”

Gavreel smiled, “It was… the right thing to do. You humans… you are so much like children. I…”

She began to cough again. Gilles pressed harder, trying to stop blood from flowing out both sides, “Stop, don’t talk, we’ll get you patched up in no time.”

“You are sweet,” Gavreel replied, “But you can’t save me. The injury is fatal.”

“This is not right,” Gilles said in an angry tone.

She shrugged weakly, “Angels are responsible for guiding and watching over humans. As far as I’m concerned, I have done the job I was created to do… do not mourn for me…”

Without another word, Gavreel closed her eyes and the light left her body. Seconds later, she lost all color and disintegrated into dust, which was then swept away by the wind.

Gilles watched her disappear with a tear in his eye. He looked down at his hands which were still covered in blood. To his amazement, all the cuts and bruises he’d received during this battle instantly healed. Older scars also began to disappear as Gilles wiped the blood from his hands. After seeing that his body had somehow fully regenerated, he looked up to the sky and crossed himself, “Thank you, my friend.”

“Gilles,” Morgan cried out from across the deck, “Look!”

As the crew finished off the remaining imps on deck, Gilles looked up in the clouds to where the battle was taking place. To his horror, the Choirs were getting overrun. Gilles shook his head, “No…”

Without another thought, he ran to the wheel, removed the brace and brought the ship about, heading back into battle, “All hands, run up the guns and prepare to fire!”

Morgan stood next to him on the aft castle with the spyglass, “Is this wise? The Black Vengeance be badly damaged. I don’t know that she be in suited condition to take another beating.”

Gilles never looked away from the battle, “Those angels are fighting and dying for our existence. If they lose, it won’t matter if this ship survives or not.”

Once Gilles had the ship pointed straight at Paeles, he called up into the masts, “Full sail!”

The ship pulled hard on the wind and managed to get within gun range in a matter of minutes. Gilles counted out a few seconds and then turned the wheel hard to starboard bringing the port guns to bear. It took him a few moments to get them into position, but once the guns were aligned, Gilles nodded, “All port guns fire!”

The ship responded with loud booms and a cloud of smoke. Cannon balls littered the air and ripped through the clouds of imps. Baltazar had trained his crew well as they were able to avoid hitting any angels. The crew’s efforts paid off as their cannons cut enough of a hole in the imp’s lines for the angels to break through and regroup.

Their victory was short-lived as the imps turned their attention back to the human ship. This time, more than half of the remaining imps shot down toward the ship. There were enough of them to completely blanket the Black Vengeance and choke any light from their eyes.

Gilles saw them coming and didn’t even bother turning the ship, “My God… this be it.”

Morgan nodded, “Stand fast, maybe we can take a few of them with us… it’s been good knowing ye Mr. Gilles.”

“Aye,” Gilles replied, “It’s been an honor sailing with ye.”

The deck crew raised their swords and waited for their incoming doom.

Suddenly, another group of dark creatures appeared out of nowhere. Large beasts, dragons, and what looked like demons filled the sky and attacked the imps. Gilles looked up in shock, “What the… where did those come from?”

Xaphine also saw what was going on from her side of the line. She turned to her squadron, “Fight on, let’s see what this is about!”

Xaphine’s group ripped through the imps in an attempt to reach this new demonic force. She knew she may wind up fighting two enemies, but she had to know what was going on. As her forces approached the demons, one of them recognized her, broke off from the fight, and came out to meet her. The dark creature resembled an imp, but it was much larger and its body was that of a human. It smiled at her with sharp, jagged teeth, “Xaphan, my dear friend… it has been a long time.”

Xaphine narrowed her eyes, “Baʿal Zəbûb… what are you doing here?”

Baʿal Zəbûb put out his hand to her, “Lucifer sends his compliments, and we offer our assistance in this fight.”

Xaphine could not believe what she was hearing, “And what does Lucifer want in exchange?”

The demon shrugged, “I would guess that he would want to eliminate this threat so that he can safely hang on to his kingdom. He has not instructed me to ask for anything in exchange.”

Xaphine’s jaw was almost on the ground, “Given our history, Baʿal Zəbûb, I am disinclined to believe anything that Lucifer says… however at the moment, I see no choice but for us to join forces if we are to prevail. Your help is most timely.”

Baʿal Zəbûb bowed, “Come, let us get to work!”

The two groups fought side by side and managed to punch a massive hole in the imp lines with help from the cannons of the Black Vengeance. Roselyn appeared next to Xaphine on her right side, “It looks like we’ve got them scattered, we need to keep them that way!”

*

Aralyn had a hard time looking Baltazar in the eyes after what happened. They passed through another block of city and into another area that resembled a brothel. When they entered the building, just trying to get through, the entire room went black. Baltazar found himself alone as the blackness around him began to fade to color. The brothel was now full of deformed people, all naked, all looking at Baltazar oddly.

In the center of the room stood a man clad only in lavish jewelry. He stretched his hand out Baltazar, “Join us, my friend… tell me that endless pleasures and debauchery are not what you always secretly desired.”

Baltazar shook his head, “I was blind and stupid during those days. I never realized what I was missing out on while using people. That is not what I want anymore.”

“Then what do you want?” a familiar voice appeared from behind.

Baltazar turned to see Aralyn standing behind. She was completely naked, her wings were folded behind her, and the contours of her body had been decorated with paint. Baltazar took a step back, “Aralyn I…”

She stepped forward with her hands at her side, “What do you really want?”

“I… I want you,” he replied, “I’ve always wanted you. You made me see the whole world in a different light.”

She took another step towards him, “Well I’m here… take me.”

Baltazar thought about it for a moment before shaking his head, “No way… this can’t be real. The Aralyn I know would never be like this. You’re not her, and she’s not here!”

“Maybe,” Aralyn said playfully, “Maybe not… does it matter? She’ll never know…”

“I’ll know,” Baltazar replied sternly, “Get away foul creature. I am not doing something so indecent!”

The image of Aralyn moved closer, “Are you sure?”

Baltazar pulled a knife out from under his jacket, “I’m not so much the scoundrel to hit a woman… even if I’m sure she’s not really one. But if you don’t leave me be, I will make an exception!”

The imposter frowned, “You have no idea what you’ve started here!”

The scene quickly dissolved back into the ruined building that Baltazar had originally walked into. Aralyn was standing there next to Lailah with tears in her eyes. He turned and looked at her oddly as he wiped sweat from his brow, “What’s the matter?”

Aralyn smiled, “The spirits made me watch you. They made me watch what you were doing. I think they were so certain that you would jump on an opportunity like that.”

Baltazar grimaced, “Bastards…”

“But you didn’t!” She said joyfully as she threw her arms around him, “You remained honorable even when there appeared to be no consequence. You knew my feelings and respected them, even when it seemed like I did not. There may be hope for you yet.”

“I know,” Baltazar replied with a grin, “What can I say, I’m just that kind of guy.”

Aralyn rolled her eyes and sighed, “You have the biggest ego of anyone I have ever met in my life… but I love you…”

Baltazar smiled, “You don’t know how much it warmed my heart when I first heard you say that. It still remains one of my fondest memories. I love you too, very much.”

The two kissed while Lailah stood off to the side, “Well done Baltazar, bravo.”

The ground began to rumble, interrupting what might have been their last moment together. Aralyn looked forward towards the whirlwind, “He knows we’re here and he’s waiting for us.”

“How can you tell?” Baltazar asked.

“I can hear him,” Aralyn replied, “His voice calls to me somehow.”

Lailah nodded, “We’d better be careful then.”

The group moved through the building and out to the other side. It took some time to find a way out of the ancient building, but once they reached the other side, a second field of smashed ruins. This one was considerably larger and appeared to be a large crated. Located at the deepest point, was a bright aura which appeared to be generating the massive whirlwind.

Aralyn folded her wings back and rubbed her arms. Baltazar could see she looked cold so he stood behind her and put his arms around her. He could feel the goose bumps covering her body and white mist appeared from her lips. Baltazar looked at her oddly because he didn’t feel cold at all.

Aralyn’s eyes glazed over as they continued to walk, “I’m coming for you…”

She sounded almost mesmerized as she spoke. Lailah stood behind her and kept a close watch. Baltazar allowed Aralyn to walk ahead slightly and turned to Lailah, “What is going on with her?”

“It’s Legion,” she replied, “His power draws in those sensitive to such things. I can feel its pull too, but I was trained to be able to resist it.”

“Is this going to be a problem?” Baltazar asked nervously.

“It shouldn’t be,” Lailah replied, “The pull of his power will only draw her closer, but it shouldn’t be able to dominate her mind. She hasn’t had the training for this, but her mental fortitude should be strong enough to hold out.”

“That’s the plan,” Baltazar scoffed, “Why didn’t you spend our voyage training her… what happens if you’re wrong?”

“Fending off the lure of power can’t be taught,” Lailah replied, “It can only be built up over time through experience and wisdom, and we simply didn’t have the time to wait. To your second question, if I am wrong and his power does lure her in, well that’s why you’re here. Normally I wouldn’t have allowed a normal human to come along on such a journey, but you and her have a connection that is stronger than even his power.”

“And what is that?” Baltazar asked glumly.

“Love,” Lailah replied, “Love is the strongest and most wonderful gift the Most High ever gave anyone. He even allowed the angels to know and understand it as our reward for steadfast loyalty.”

“The power of love…” Baltazar said in a sarcastic tone, “Sounds like a fairy tale.”

Lailah smiled, “Yes well, all fairy tales, all myths, and all legends have some basis in reality. The stories had to come from somewhere.”

Aralyn overheard them and turned back, still in a haze, but able to communicate, “I’ve always believed that the fairy tales of old had in some ways actually happened.”

She turned back and looked at the bright light at the bottom of the whirlwind, “It’s what I’m hoping will be the case here…”

Baltazar left Lailah and turned to Aralyn, “Once all of this is over, I’ll take you anywhere you wish to go. All you have to do is ask, and we will go.”

Aralyn smiled, “That sounds nice, but there will be at least one place that I will have to take you.”

“Where is that?” He asked.

“Into the clouds,” Aralyn replied, “I have wings now and have barely been able to use them. I want to see the wonders of the sky, and to share them with you.”

Lailah frowned and backed away slightly. There was something she kept hidden in the back of her mind. It pained her to hide it from Aralyn, given everything that had already happened, but giving her information that might jeopardize her chances at victory wasn’t a good idea at this point, so she kept her mouth shut.

Baltazar looked at the whirlwind, “It sounds like a deal to me.”

“Good,” Aralyn replied, “Once this is over.”

The two looked ahead of them and walked slowly towards the massive whirlwind.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 6, Chapter 3

III

 

Gilles took the helm as Baltazar was lifted off the deck, “Alright men, you heard the general! Our people need a diversion to get them to Paeles, it’s up to us to make sure they get it. Mr. Morgan, run up the guns and be ready to fire as soon as we’re in range!”

Morgan nodded and ran to the gun deck while Gilles turned the ship to port and brought it closer to land. The wrecked city grew in the distance and the waved became choppy as they drew closer. Gilles held the Black Vengeance steady as she rocked him back and forth. The crew could hear the screams of the imps flying through the air as they drew closer.

Finally, when Gilles couldn’t stand their shrill screams anymore, he called to Morgan, “High elevation!”

Morgan responded, “Already done…”

Gilles nodded, “Good… ready on my mark…”

He pulled the helm to starboard to bring the guns to bear. As the ship turned, Gilles kept one hand steady on the helm and raised the other one above his head to signal the deck gun crew. After a few seconds, he dropped it to the wheel, “Fire all!”

Morgan turned quickly to his gun crews, “Fire!”

The port side cannons unleashed their loads with a mighty boom with simultaneous flashes of light that resembled lighting. The shots flew into the massive black cloud of imps. The shots cut massive holes in the cloud, vaporizing several imps in the process.

An imp on the edge of the cloud pointed down at the ship and screeched. A sudden black wave shot out from the cloud and poured down toward the Black Vengeance. Gilles nodded, “Here they come, reload!”

He turned the wheel hard to starboard to bring the ship around to starboard while the port guns crews worked quickly to reload. There was also a man on each swivel gun on the fore and aft castles. They provided only a small caliber shot, but it was still enough to knock a few of the leading imps out of the sky. Gilles kept the wheel turned over as much as he could until the starboard broadside cannons were ready to fire. He looked up nervously at the approaching wave of imps, “Fire, fire, fire!”

Once again, the entire deck was covered in smoke as the starboard battery unleashed its payload. More imps were vaporized by the cannon fire, but the overall horde kept coming. Gilles nervously put a brace on the wheel and picked up his sword and pistol, “Hands, to arms, prepare to repel borders!”

As soon as he gave the order, out of the clouds came multiple glowing entities that shot through the massive black wave slicing apart countless numbers of imps. Once the glowing spheres emerged from the other side, they took shape. Gilles recognized Xaphine, along with Ariel and Roselyn at the head of a large army coming out of the clouds. The Choirs had kept their word and were now cutting down the numbers of imps attempting to attack the Black Vengeance.

The crew of the ship cheered when they saw thousands of angels drop from the clouds and join the fight. They were all the Choirs could put together to fight. Most of them were wearing bright silvery armor that shined even with the lack of sun. They came out brandishing swords, spears, and staves of flame. Xaphine twirled her sword around, severing the head of one of the imps, when she heard a whispering on the wind, “Xaphan…”

Xaphine turned and faced the whirlwind. She could hear Legions voice echoing in her mind as the battle raged on, “I remember you well… I have you to thank for everything. The time we spent in the cave together… the pain, the violation, and the violence… it was all so stimulating.”

Xaphine shook her head, “You already failed to kill me. You’re voice no longer troubles me, and soon, your words will cease to echo in my head. I will see to it you meet your end.”

She was suddenly startled by a voice behind her, “General Xaphine!”

Xaphine turned, “Yes Ariel, what is it?”

“The plan isn’t working,” Ariel replied, “The imps are still trying to attack the ship.”

Xaphine clenched her jaw, “Stupid beasts… they probably think Aralyn is still on the ship.”

She watched the formations of angels come down from the clouds and continue to hammer the waves of imps as they neared the Black Vengeance. Xaphine scoffed, “I knew this wasn’t a good idea. Okay, Ariel take two battalions and attack the main force head on. Try to split their forces so that they will be unable to bring anyone else against the ship.”

Ariel nodded, “Understood.”

She turned back and disappeared into the clouds. Xaphine turned back to her own forces, “Form ranks, defend the Black Vengeance!”

      The angels did the best they could to prevent the imps from reaching the ship, but it proved to be inevitable. There were just too many imps for the angels to handle and they were eventually overwhelmed. The imps touched down on the deck and attacked the crew. Gilles raised his sword, “Everyone to arms!”

Much to the surprise of the imps, the human crew of the Black Vengeance fought back with great skill to defend their ship. The imps weren’t impervious to their blades and pistols resulting in them taking heavy casualties.

Gilles stayed near the helm and fought to protect it. The moment an imp came flying down at him, Gilles aimed his pistol and shot the creature in the face, causing it to explode in a cloud of black smoke. A second one dropped down and attacked him with a black spike. Gilles fought back and drove the creature off the edge with a sword. He then looked around to see his crew fighting for their lives. They were putting up an impressive defense, but they were slowing getting beaten back. Even after being joined by several angels, Gilles could see that they stood a good chance of losing the ship.

Gilles fought down to the main deck where he joined his men. Within a few moments, he was surrounded by imps that seemed determined for him not to make it to the main group of pirates. Gilles waved his sword around to fend off any imp foolish enough to attack, but he fully expected to be dead within a matter of minutes.

Suddenly, there was a flash of light behind him followed by a loud thud. Gilles watched in amazement as three of his attackers dissolved. He turned to see an angel standing behind him wielding a flame staff. She looked like an eastern flame dancer as the staff spun in her hands.

Once all of the imps had been destroyed, the angel stopped spinning her staff, nodded and smiled. She turned to face Gilles as she brushed her light brown hair out of her face and back behind her shoulders. She was unbelievably beautiful, like nothing Gilles had ever seen before. He returned her smile with a relieved look, “Thank ye, didn’t know how much longer I could have held out.”

She laughed, “My pleasure, I don’t know whether to consider you rogues brave or foolish, but either way, we stand with you.”

Gilles nodded and extended his hand, “First mate, my name be Gilles.”

“Gavreel,” she replied, “Pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Gilles said, “That be some swift moves ye did.”

Gavreel shrugged, “War isn’t really my thing, but all angels are taught how to defend themselves.”

“Still,” Gilles insisted, “With fighting like that on our side, this should be over with before we know it.”

*

The wind began to pick up as Aralyn touched down and released Baltazar. Lailah landed next to them as Baltazar looked back at his ship. Aralyn saw the glum expression on his face, “What is it?”

“I have a bad feeling that I won’t be seeing my ship or crew again,” Baltazar said quietly, “I just hope they’ll be alright.”

“They’ll be fine,” Lailah replied, “Don’t worry, Xaphine is the best general the Most High has. She’ll keep them safe.”

Baltazar wasn’t totally convinced, but decided that there were more important matters at the moment. He turned back to look at Paeles. The city was pitch-black and there was an eerie mist on the ground. Faint sounds of wailing could be heard in the distance, and a sense of dread came over Baltazar. He felt chills travel down his spine and the speed of his breathing increased slightly.

Baltazar did the best he could to ignore it as he knew that his love’s safety was dependent on him. It became easier to bear when he felt Aralyn’s gentle touch on his arm. It was as though her touch sent the chills fleeing from his body. There was a heavy wind emanating from the streets of the city. Lailah raised her hand over her eyes for protection, “We dare not try to fly any further, the wind is too much.”

Aralyn nodded, “Agreed.”

Baltazar drew his sword and stepped forward. Lailah placed her hand on his and shook her head, “Put it away, you’ll do more damage to yourself in there then you would to anything attacking us.”

“Then how do we defend ourselves,” Baltazar asked.

Lailah frowned, “Where we’re going, the creatures will attack our minds, not our bodies. They will draw upon your memories, your desires, and your love. Once they have what they want, they will turn everything against you. You can’t really hope to defend yourself. Your only hope is to resist the temptations and try to keep a clear head.”

“And if you fail,” Aralyn added, “I will be here to pull you back.”

Lailah nodded, “That will be absolutely essential to our survival. Baltazar, the two of you must be there for each other, and I will be there for the two of you.”

“And we’ll be there for you,” Baltazar replied.

“Stay close,” Lailah said softly as the wind picked up, “It only takes a few feet of separation for them to isolate us.”

The three friends proceeded down the first street. Buildings had been smashed, blood was spattered everywhere, and any sign of life was long since gone. In his mind, Baltazar could still here the sorrowful voices in this place, they grew louder as the group kept moving. Baltazar looked around, “Where is that coming from…”

Aralyn nodded, “I hear it too… there are people here… and they’re in trouble.”

“They are the trapped souls of those who built this city,” Lailah replied, “Even in death they refused to give up their hedonistic ways. The Most High forced them to remain here. At first, it didn’t seem to bother them much, but after a few thousand years… they’ve become tormented and bitter.”

“Great…” Aralyn replied, “So we’ll have to face off against spirits with a grudge against our creator.”

Lailah took point and lead the group even further down the path. Within minutes, the group came to a clearing that appeared out from behind the buildings. It looked as though something had completely leveled any structure that had once still in this large area that now took on the appearance of a courtyard. Aralyn stepped away from the group and saw naked bodies frozen in perverted poses as well as heads, limbs and internal organs strewn about the area.

She covered her mouth with her hand, “This… what in all of creation?”

“This was one of their pits,” Lailah replied, “I wasn’t speaking falsely when I said that these people were hedonistic, but even Sodom and Gomorrah could not compare to this wicked land. These people would ritualistically participate in group encounters… that were of a sexual nature… but more grotesque then most people could even imagine. They would tear each other apart, violate one another, and desecrate each other’s bodies for sport, for pleasure, and because they believed that it would lead them to immortality.”

Aralyn nodded, “I see now why God chose to destroy them… this is sickening.”

There was silence behind her. Aralyn turned to see that her comrades were not moving. She turned to Baltazar and waved her hand in front of his face, “Hello?”

It was like he was frozen in time. Aralyn breathed frantically and turned to Lailah, “Hello?”

A distorted voice that was barely a whisper appeared behind her, “Aralyn…”

She turned quickly and scanned her surrounding, “Who was that? Who calls me by name?”

Suddenly, the bodies came to life and began their grotesque rituals. Aralyn stepped back, startled, “What is this?”

White spirits began to rise out of the mist and surround her, “Join us Aralyn… come, partake.”

Aralyn drew her sword, even though she knew it would most likely do her no good, “Never, stay back!”

The spirits ignored her and flew around her. They wrapped ghostly tentacles around her arms. The sensation caused her to drop her sword, “Get away from me…”

More spirits approached her, flying through her legs, “Join us…”

Waves of emotion and sensation rushed over her body, “I… I…”

Aralyn’s eyes began to turn black. Her skin broke out in sweat and her breathing became labored. The spirits sounded joyous, “Yes… join us.”

Aralyn’s mind was filled with confusing images of eroticism. They mesmerized her and made it difficult to focus. She stretched out her mind and reached out for something, anything, which could break this hold on her.

Suddenly, the image of Baltazar’s face appeared in her mind. Her eyes blinked and the blackness disappeared. In its place was a white glow. She clenched her jaw as her body once again resisted these evil creatures. She could feel her entire being begin to vibrate as her power built up inside of her, “I said get back!”

She unleashed a loud cry as a wave of energy shot from her body, knocking back any spirit that came near her. A large one attempted to connect with her again. She saw it come and thrust her hand forward, “Get back!”

A white hot beam of light shot from her fingertips and vaporized the demonic entity, “Back!”

Once the threat was gone, Aralyn’s eyes returned to their original color and she collapsed. Lailah and Baltazar suddenly reanimated. Baltazar’s eyes narrowed and he turned to Aralyn, “What happened…”

Then he realized that Aralyn had fallen, “Oh my God, Aralyn, are you okay?”

Baltazar reached for her, but she slapped his hand away, “Don’t… please don’t touch me.”

“Wha…” Baltazar was very confused, he had no idea about what she had just experienced, “Aralyn, what is it? What ‘s wrong?”

“Don’t,” she replied.

Lailah knelt down next to her, “What happened, what did you see?”

“They violated me,” Aralyn said in tears, “I felt their power flowing throughout my body and…”

She looked up at Baltazar and placed her hands between her legs, “I’m so sorry Baltazar…”

Baltazar looked at Lailah, “What is she talking about?”

Lailah shook her head, “The spirits of this place are perverted, even in death they still take pleasure in the most extreme of emotions. They could have done any number of sickening things to her.”

Baltazar placed his hand on her arm. She winced and backed away as though his touch caused her pain, “Don’t!”

“I won’t hurt you,” Baltazar replied, “Please trust me.”

She stopped trying to back away, but was still unable to look at him in the eyes, “I know you won’t, you never would… but I fear I have betrayed you.”

“What happened was not your fault,” he replied, “Those spirits drew you into an illusion, nothing more.”

“How do you know,” she demanded.

“Because it’s the only way I can explain how they succeeded,” He replied, “You are much stronger than that.”

“It was real, Baltazar,” she insisted, “I felt the waves of pleasure overwhelm me. It drew me in…”

“Enough,” Baltazar said, cutting her off, “You didn’t do anything wrong. What was forced on you is not your fault. I know it’s difficult, but just try to put it out of your head.”

Baltazar lowered himself under her left arm and helped stand her up. She looked at him with a nervous expression, “How can you forgive me so easily.”

Once she was on her feet, he looked her in the eyes, “One, because I don’t see that you did anything wrong, and two, because I love you. That’s what people who love each other do, they learn to forgive.”

Lailah nodded, “It’s one of the greatest gift you humans were ever given. You can forgive so easily if you so decide to.”

Aralyn threw her arms around Baltazar and held him tight. Baltazar closed his eyes and squeezed as well. Lailah allowed them a few moments of tranquility before speaking up again, “I hate to break this up, but we are not safe here, we need to keep moving.”

Aralyn nodded, “Of course, you are right, let’s go.”

 



 

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 6, Chapter 2

II

 

The next morning Baltazar rang the ships bell to signal all hands on deck. Once everyone was assembled, Baltazar signaled the quartermaster to begin. The quartermaster nodded and helped guide a large wooden plank up on deck.  In the middle of the plank, lay Papi’s body, wrapped in cloth.

Baltazar turned and knocked on the door of the cabin. He opened it to see Aralyn still in tears, “I’m sorry to bother you…”

She looked up as he walked in, “What is it?”

“We’re conducting funeral rites for Mr. Clement,” Baltazar replied, “I thought you might wish to partake?”

Aralyn nodded, “Yes, thank you.”

She took his hand and walked out on deck next to the plank. Aralyn put on as much of a brave face as she could handle, but seeing the man she loved as a child bundled up, knowing that she would never see him again, made it impossible for her to fight back the tears.

Baltazar stroked her hand with his finger for a few moments to try to comfort her before stepping forward. He placed a hand on the plant, took a deep breath and looked out at his crew, “Men… and ladies, we are gathered here today to bid farewell to a close friend, a confidant, and when necessary, a smuggler of booze.”

A faint chuckle went up from the men. Baltazar nodded, “I’m sure we’re all grateful for that… Mr. Clement, or Papi as he was known to some, was a good man. I remember when I first met him, I was barely in my adolescent years and anxious to start my adventure. Papi took me under his wing, taught me everything, and was one of the few crewmen to remain with me after I took command of the Specter.

Baltazar smiled, “The moment I stepped behind the wheel and was referred to as captain, I thought for certain that my eyes had been bigger then my head, but he helped me through.”

Baltazar crossed himself, signaling every man onboard to remove their headwear. The crew bowed their heads and placed their hands together.

Once everyone was ready, Baltazar then began speaking softly, “The Lord is my Captain: I shall never want. He maketh me lie down in deep blue seas…”

Lailah looked up with an odd expression. She recognized the Twenty Third Psalm, but this appeared to be a version Baltazar had created for seamen, “He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me on the sea of righteousness for his name’s sake, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and the harshest seas, I will fear no evil: for thou art forever with me, thy glass and map they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen…”

The men repeated the ‘amen’ as Baltazar turned to Papi’s body and placed a hand on its shoulder, “You were more of a father to me that bastard who dared to call himself such. May you find calm seas on your new journey, old friend.”

Aralyn leaned over and kissed Papi’s hand, “Goodbye… Papi…”

Baltazar turned and walked to the head of the plank, “Mr. ‘Papi’ Clement… we not commit your body to the deep.”

The men pushed the plank overboard and allowed Papi’s body to slide gently into the water. Baltazar crossed himself and turned to Aralyn. She did everything she could to fight back tears, not wanting to show anymore weakness. Baltazar turned to his men, “Okay, dismissed.”

The crew dispersed and continued their duties while Baltazar walked Aralyn back to the cabin. Once the door was closed, he turned to her, “Are you okay?”

Aralyn’s eyes never left the ground, “Everyone I considered family is gone… I have powers I didn’t ask for, and there is a creature out there who wants to kill me for no reason. No, no I am not okay.”

Baltazar put his arms around her, “I’m sorry, I knew it was a stupid question, but I had to ask.”

“I know,” Aralyn replied with a sad look, “What am I going to do now?”

“What do you mean,” Baltazar demanded in an insulted tone, “You’re one of us. The crew views you as a member of our family, we don’t want you going anywhere… and…. and…”

Baltazar stuttered, he couldn’t find the words to continue his train of thought. He knew what he wanted to say, but it didn’t come easy to him. He’d said it before, but it was usually following her saying it. Aralyn looked at him, her eyes pleading for him to finish, “You what?”

He shook his head, “I…”

“What Baltazar,” she insisted.

He finally sighed, “I love you, okay?”

Those words were enough to put a small smile on her face, “Okay…”

She jumped up and kissed him. The two embraced for only a few moment before Aralyn let him go and sat down, tears still in her eyes. Baltazar stood in front of her, “What’s wrong?”

“They’ve come for everyone I love,” Aralyn replied, “Everyone… now they will be coming for you.”

“I’ve survived thus far,” Baltazar replied, “I think I can handle myself.”

Aralyn shook her head, “I’m certain that’s what my father and Papi thought when they first realized what they were getting themselves into. I…”

“Land Ho!” called a voice from the deck.

Baltazar smiled, “We’ll soon find out.”

The two of them ran out on deck. Baltazar climbed to the aft castle and checked out the land through his spyglass. Off in the distance, he could see the port city of Tyre. There didn’t appear to be much activity at the port, other than some scattered single person and fishing craft. Baltazar closed up his spyglass and put it down. He turned to Lailah, “I hope you don’t expect us to make port here.”

“Why not,” Lailah asked.

“This land be dominated by the Ottomans,” Morgan replied, “And they not be taking too kindly to a boat of Christian folk darkening their doorstep.”

“That’s putting it mildly,” Baltazar added, “It’s not safe at all.”

Lailah nodded, “Very well then, sail south, past the city. We will need to reach the ancient ruins of Paeles.”

Morgan turned to her with an odd look, “I’ve not heard of a place called Paeles.”

“That is no accident,” Lailah replied, “Paeles is the ruins of a wicked city from the time of Abraham. They were more advanced than the people around them, even the Egyptians couldn’t match their abilities.”

“What happened to them,” Aralyn asked.

Lailah shook her head, “With power comes corruption. Over time, they became so sinful that the Most High destroyed them as he did Sodom and Gomorrah.”

“But why do we know about those cities and not this one?” Baltazar asked in a confused tone.

“Because knowledge of this civilization was dangerous,” Lailah replied, “These people learned and evolved faster than all others, even faster than the Most High intended. When things started shifting out of control, the Most High destroyed them for the good of the rest of his children. I can’t give you specifics because such knowledge is forbidden, but the ruins of their city are encased so that no one can get there unless they know where to look.”

Baltazar shuddered from her words, “What can we expect when we arrive there?”

“Evil, Baltazar,” she replied, “That city is the purest of evil. There will be temptations and perversions beyond which your mind can possibly fathom. Aralyn and I have to go on this journey, the rest of you do not.”

Lailah turned to Aralyn, “If you insist on bringing these people, I would recommend that only a few come with us. The more we take, the greater the risk.”

Aralyn looked at the group, “You are all like family to me and I love each of you… but this is something that Baltazar must accompany me on. I can’t take anyone else, I won’t.”

Morgan stepped forward, “I object to this milady!”

Aralyn smiled, “I thought you might, but I this is my decision. Baltazar may be captain, but this mission is mine. I need all of you to stay here and keep this ship going while we finish what we started.”

“But how do we find what cannot be found?” Morgan asked.

“Leave that to me,” Lailah replied, “Sail straight on, I will guide us there.”

Baltazar turned to and called to Gilles on the aft deck, “You heard the lady, steady as she goes.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir!”

Lailah walked slowly to the forecastle, placed her fingertips on the forward railing, and closed her eyes. The water around the ship began to churn as the ship proceeded forward. Baltazar watched as the clouds slowly became darker and more numerous.

*

The Black Vengeance sailed on for another hour. The clouds had become so numerous that the sunlight had been choked out of view. The sky was now heavily overcast and the sea was extremely choppy. Gilles held the ship’s course, but it became more difficult as wind began to blow in several directions. The Black Vengeance slowed to a near halt as the sails pushed in different directions.

On the forecastle, Lailah winced as she struggled to direct the wind. Her face muscles clenched as she continued to push. Morgan joined her on the bow, “Are ye okay?”

Lailah nodded, “Morgan, I can’t talk to you right now. I’m sorry, please don’t think I’m intentionally being rude to you, but I need to concentrate or we will be blow off course.”

Morgan nodded glumly, “Aye…”

Lailah pushed harder and harder, but the wind kept fighting her. She drew in a deep breath and held it from a few moments as though fighting an unseen force pushing against her. Suddenly, the air flew from her lungs and she collapsed on the deck. Morgan was there to grab her and hold her up. Lailah shook her head, “I can’t do it… he’s too strong.”

Morgan was about to respond when he heard a voice from the lookout position, “Target in sight!”

Baltazar ran to the forecastle with his spyglass and examined the shoreline. At first, he could only see a black blur off in the distance, but as it drew closer, he could see the smashed ruins of a city, surrounding a massive whirlwind that reached from the ground into the sky. It remained stationary at the center of the city. Even stranger, was a thick black cloud that seemed to surround the vortex.

Lailah stood back up and examined it, “That would be Legion’s defense against attack. Such a whirlwind would prevent us from attacking from the sky, so we’d have to land and proceed in on foot.”

Aralyn shrugged, “So what’s the problem with that?”

Lailah frowned, “Unfortunately, when angels are forced to the ground, a lot of our advantage disappears. We are trained in ground combat, but because we don’t spend much time using our feet, it puts us at a massive disadvantage.”

Baltazar looked through the spyglass again, “And Legion most likely has some sort of traps set up to protect against ground assault.”

“That is correct,” Lailah replied, “Somehow he has set up a similar spirit drain to the one you would encounter in Hell. It makes the road in very treacherous.”

Baltazar squinted as he looked, “What is that massive cloud… there is something very odd about it.”

Lailah looked at it carefully for a few moments, “That is no cloud…”

“What is it then?” Baltazar asked.

“Imps,” a voice came from behind, “Hordes of them, which would be Legion’s forces.”

The group turned around to see a familiar angel with black hair. Lailah smiled, “Hello General Xaphine.”

Xaphine nodded, “Glad to see you made it this far.”

Aralyn turned to her cautiously, “What are we going to do now? We can’t fight through what looks like thousands of imps and the whirlwind…”

“Don’t worry,” Xaphine interrupted, “Leave the imps to the Choirs, we’re assembled and ready to go. Those imps won’t stand a chance against the army of the Most High.”

Lailah frowned, “But General, they outnumber us…”

“I know,” Xaphine replied, “But they are only imps, our people are far superior. In all things, quality wins out over quantity. I thought you’d understand that.”

Lailah nodded, “I hope so, in this case, we may have a hard time.”

“Have faith,” Xaphine replied smiling, “We will win the day… I won’t let my mistakes destroy this world.”

“Your mistakes?” Aralyn asked, surprised.

“Yes…” Xaphine replied as she lowered her eyes, “I am partially responsible for the desecration of Sheol… I was the one whose power he stole when I entered his lair in an attempt to escape Hell. It’s my fault this happened… that you and your family have been thrust into the middle of this.”

Aralyn shook her head, “You can’t blame yourself for this creature’s actions. You didn’t even know he existed.”

“Still it was my arrogance that caused this,” she replied, “I have committed a terrible sin that others are now suffering for. I have to make that right. Once I have, I will ask for your forgiveness, not before.”

Aralyn shrugged, “If you insist… what is the plan?”

Xaphine turned and looked at Paeles, “My forces will create a diversion and attack the imps. While we have them tied up, you will need to move through the city and attack Legion head on.”

Lailah’s eyes widened, “Attack Legion… General with all due respect, Aralyn is not a full angel. She may have our powers, but she is still mortal! You expect her to attack alone?”

“No, not alone.” Xaphine replied, “Don’t be ridiculous, she’ll have you and Baltazar there to protect her.”

Baltazar nodded, “That much is true.”

“But general,” Lailah protested, “She’s still a child and unlike us, she can die!”

“We don’t have another option,” Xaphine said slowly, “I know we’re putting her at great risk, but she is the only being powerful enough to take him down.”

Lailah looked away, “This isn’t right…”

Xaphine nodded in agreement, “No, it’s not right and I won’t order someone to their deaths, especially not if I’m the reason that it’s happening.”

Xaphine turned and looked directly at Aralyn, “I won’t order you unto the breach, and you must not feel obligated to do this just because others want you to. This has to be something you do of your own choosing. If you decide to refuse, I will go in your place.”

Baltazar stepped in front of Aralyn before she could respond, “Would you have any hope of succeeding?”

Xaphine shook her head, “No probably not… it would most likely cost me my life, but that is a small price to pay for what has been done and I may be able to weaken him enough for someone else to bring him down.”

“Resulting in the angels being leaderless, “Aralyn added, “That’s a poor plan if ever there was one.”

She placed a hand on Baltazar’s side and gently pushed him so that he was standing next to her instead of in front, “I’ve made up my mind, I’ll do this.”

Baltazar shook his head, “I don’t know if I agree with this. It’s a lot being put on your shoulders unfairly.”

“I know, my love,” she replied, “But there is no other way.”

Baltazar still didn’t look convinced, so Aralyn grabbed his hand and looked at him in the eye, “As long as I have you at my side, I know nothing will hurt me.”

Baltazar leaned against the railing and looked out at the hellish city. Every eye on the deck focused on Baltazar. Aralyn raised her hand to his face and turned it back to look into her eyes. There was a great deal of fear in her eyes as for a moment it looked like Baltazar might not be willing to go, “Won’t you come with me, please?”

Baltazar nodded, “Of course I will. I will stand with you until the end.”

Aralyn smiled, “Thank you, my love. With you there, I can rest easy. I know that no harm will come to me.”

“Hey what about us?” Morgan called out from behind.

Baltazar, Xaphine, and Lailah turned to see Morgan standing in front of a large portion of the crew, “What are we supposed to do while all these heroics be taking place?”

“Lay to,” Baltazar replied, “Bring the Black Vengeance out to a safe distance and await my signal.”

Morgan had a surprised look on his face, “Run away and hide? That wouldn’t be the job we signed on for when we agreed to go on this here journey.”

“It’s too dangerous,” Xaphine replied, “Imps may be pathetic, mindless creatures, but against mortals, they are quite effective. You don’t have any weapons that can defend you.”

Aralyn quickly disappeared below deck and returned with her family’s swords, “What about these?”

Xaphine turned and looked at the swords. Her eyes widened as she inspected the blades, “Has it been so long…? I’m glad to see that they made it back to their owners. Sadly two swords aren’t enough.”

Morgan looked back at the men, and then at Baltazar, “Captain del la Fuente, we have followed ye this far. But the men and I had a feeling this would happen at some point, and we be putting ye on notice. We have spoken in open council as be our right.”

Baltazar nodded, “I understand, what have you decided?”

Morgan smiled, “If ye be dumb enough to be ordering us away, then we be forced to take the ship from ye and stay and fight on our own accord.”

“I see,” Baltazar replied in a slightly annoyed tone, “and how do you intend to fight without anything that can kill a demonic creature?”

Morgan shrugged, “We’d do what we could to draw them off. Then we’d improvise. We be very good at that.”

“Yes you are,” Baltazar agreed, “But I don’t think that will save you here.”

“There may be another way,” Lailah replied, “If you brave men are certain you wish to stay here and fight?”

“We are,” Morgan replied.

The men all responded with nods and a resounding, “Aye!”

Lailah smiled, “Well then maybe we can help make your weapons more effective against these imps.”

Xaphine turned to face her, “You really think this is a good idea?”

“If we don’t,” Lailah replied, “Baltazar losses him ship. It’s the least we can do.”

Xaphine pulled a knife out of her belt, “Very well…”

Lailah turned to the crew, “Bring out all your weapons and pile them up on deck.”

Several men ran below deck and grabbed everything they could carry out of the armory while others dropped their swords and pistols. Once the Black Vengeance’s entire weapons cache was placed on the deck, Xaphine turned to Lailah and held out the knife. Lailah took the knife from her and closed her right hand around it. She squeezed hard and slid the blade out of her grip. Lailah winced in pain as blood appeared in her palm.

Once she was done, Lailah handed the blade back to Xaphine who did the same thing. Lailah went to each cannon and allowed a drop of her blood to fall on the breach of each one while saying a short incantation. She then went below decks to anoint the cannons on the main gun deck.

Meanwhile Xaphine allowed her blood to drip over the weapons on deck, “Lord Most High, bless these weapons that they may protect thy children against the Legions of Hell. Watch over them as a shepherd tends to his flock. Help them, that they might carry out your will and help lead us to victory… amen.”

The weapons miraculously began to glow dimly for a few seconds before returning to their original state. Xaphine nodded, “Okay, you should be ready, these weapons will protect you against the imps.”

Lailah came back up on deck, “One last thing…”

She allowed a few drops of her blood to hit the deck of the ship, “Lord bless this, thy chariot of your beloved. Keep it strong throughout the trials to come.”

Xaphine turned to the men, “Do not show any mercy, do not believe anything one of these imps tries to show you, and do not be lured in, or you will only add to their numbers.”

Each of the men acknowledged. Baltazar smiled, “You men have been with me since the beginning and I am very proud to have served with all of you. I doubt the seas have ever seen a ship with a finer crew.”

“Stop talking like this be our last time together!” One of the men shouted.

“Aye,” Morgan agreed, “We stand ready to give them what for! “

Baltazar nodded as he turned to Morgan, “Thank you men, Morgan, on the cannons!”

Morgan saluted as Baltazar turned to Gilles, “You’re in command now, Mr. Gilles. Take good care of her. I want a ship to come back to when this is all over.”

“Aye sir,” Gilles replied, “Don’t ye be worrying about a thing, we’ll all be sailing on her again without a doubt.”

The men laughed as they picked up their weapons. Baltazar turned to Xaphine, “Now that this matter has been settled, pray tell what the plan is?”

Xaphine nodded, “Okay, Aralyn, either you or Lailah will carry Baltazar to the shore. Once there, you will proceed into the city and confront Legion. I can’t tell you what you will come across in Paeles, but I can say without pause that your journey will be difficult.”

Aralyn nodded, “I figured it would be…”

“Right,” Xaphine replied as she turned to the crew, “Since you insist on being involved, I want you to be the first into the fight. Let loose with every cannon you’ve got. That should divert Legion’s attention, giving Aralyn enough time to land undetected.”

Gilles nodded, “We be ready to do our part, but won’t that bring Legion’s entire force down on us?”

“That’s the idea,” Xaphine said with a smile, “Once their forces move in to attack you, the Choirs will move in and strike. With any luck, we should be able to catch them by surprise and inflict heavy losses within a short amount of time.”

Baltazar smiled, “So my ship will be used as bait for a trap… I like it.”

“Good,” Xaphine nodded, “Do not worry about your safety, we will be watching the entire time. I promise that the majority of their forces will turn to deal with us once we move in.”

Aralyn looked at everyone on deck, “Are we all ready?”

Gilles nodded, “Let’s do this, for the good of all.”

“For Papi, for Melchior,” Morgan added.

Baltazar smiled, “For you Aralyn.”

“For you Baltazar, and for my family,” Aralyn replied.

“For Piero…” Xaphine whispered softly.

“Okay,” Lailah spoke up, “Don’t any of you go getting yourselves killed.”

Aralyn nodded, “Right, I intend to see you all again once this is all said and done with, we’re going back to raid Spanish shipping and earn ourselves a nice plunder!”

Xaphine and Lailah exchanged nervous glances as Aralyn turned to Baltazar, “My love, I have a request…”

“Anything for you,” He replied.

Aralyn smiled and whispered something into his ear. His eyes widened as he looked back at her, “Really?”

She nodded with a bright twinkle in her eyes. Baltazar shook his head, “Oh very well…”

Aralyn smiled and kissed him on the cheek, “Thank you, my love.”

She turned back to face the crew, “All of you scurvy dogs on deck, set the sails, run up the guns…”

She then climbed on to the aft castle and raised her sword high in the air and let out a shrill war cry, “Men, raise the colors!”

The crew scattered quickly to follow her orders. The red sails dropped and the ship began to pick up speed. Aralyn turned to Lailah and nodded, “Let’s go!”

The two of them ran towards the railing, jumped and used the railing to push off with their feet and took to the air. Xaphine smiled and bowed, “Good luck to you, Captain del la Fuente.”

Baltazar nodded, “And you also, General.”

Xaphine ran to the opposite side, spread her wings, and quickly ascended into the clouds. Baltazar looked back over the side in the direction Aralyn took off from and suddenly realized that he had been left behind. He frantically searched the air for her, but couldn’t make her out amongst their surroundings.

Suddenly, Baltazar felt a gripping sensation under his arms as he became weightless. The ship disappeared out from under his feet and he water began to grow smaller beneath him. Baltazar looked back to see that Aralyn had flown up behind and grabbed him. A look of relief came over his face. Aralyn laughed, “What did you think I left you behind?”

“Uh… of course not,” Baltazar insisted, “I would never think such a thing.”

“Right…” Aralyn said, not believing a single word he said.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 6, Chapter 1

Book 6

Angel’s Tyre

I

 

Evening fell once more over the Black Vengeance. The lamp lights were lit on the fore and aft castles and torches were lit on the main deck. If for no other reason than to keep morale on the ship, Baltazar requested the pleasure of any crewmen not currently engaged in duty on deck for a small party. He maintained minimal crew on the masts, as well as a lookout. Gilles remained at the helm and kept the ship on course.

Once everyone was assembled, Baltazar brought a Vihuela out on deck and slowly ran his hands over the strings. His fingers formed chords on the board and thier movements generated musical notes.

Papi stood behind Baltazar and joined in on his violin while a third man drummed on one of the railings. As the music picked up, six men took the middle of the deck and their feet began to move with the music. Baltazar strummed out two Spanish folk melodies while the crew danced. Aralyn smiled and clapped along with the beat while Lailah stood off to the side and watched.

Baltazar performed a difficult solo and then ended the song. The crew applauded as Baltazar placed the guitar at his side and tapped Papi on the shoulder. Papi nodded in acknowledgement and began playing a much slower, more solemn piece. The men cleared the floor as Baltazar walked slowly walked across the deck toward his love.

Aralyn was laughing and sharing brandy and ale with some of the crew when she noticed Baltazar approach. She smiled and handed her drink to the nearest man as Baltazar bowed, took her hand, and kissed her between the pointer and index knuckles.

Without raising his head, he looked at her, “May I have the honor of a dance, milady?”

Aralyn nodded, “My pleasure, gentle sir.”

He took her hand and led her out on the floor. Her hands shook as she ran her right hand over his shoulder while he took her left one. The two closed their eyes and danced as the crew swayed side to side with the music. The two stood together and slowed little by little as the song died down.

Baltazar looked down at Aralyn. Her eyes met his and stared at him deeply. Baltazar was almost mesmerized by what he saw. In her eyes, he could see the bluest sky, the bright morning sun, and clouds pass by quickly. It was like nothing he’d ever seen in a woman’s eyes before.

The song slowly ended and they shifted from dancing position to a warm embrace. It only lasted a moment as the beat on deck suddenly changed to a much faster Spanish song and another crewman grabbed Baltazar’s Vihuela. Baltazar moved his feet quickly to the rhythm, trying to impress Aralyn. To his surprise however, she kept up with him and performed the same moves.

The two danced together while the crew clapped along with the beat. As the song picked up speed, so did their feet. Finally the song cut out and the entire crew called out, “Olay!”

Everyone broke out in cheers and applause as the young couple bowed. Another song began to play, but Baltazar and Aralyn needed to sit down. Other crew took over the dance floor as they watched the men enjoy themselves.

Lailah stood off to the side looking out to sea when a voice appeared behind her, “Pardon the intrusion lass, but would ye be so kind as to accompany this old seaman to the dance floor?”

Lailah turned to see Morgan with his hand out smiling at her. At first she looked at him oddly, but finally smiled, “Well… dancing is not something I’m really familiar with… but why not?”

She took his hand, folded her wings back as much as she could, and followed Morgan out on to the dance floor. She stumbled and almost fell as she tried to mimic the moves of the men around here, but Morgan kept her standing.

Baltazar watched from in front of the cabin as the crowd on the dance floor enjoyed themselves. When he saw Lailah being dragged out, he nudged Aralyn. She turned and started laughing when she saw what was going on. Baltazar leaned back, “You know, we never could have had a dance like this back on the old Specter.

Aralyn shrugged, “Well the deck was too small. Your old ship wasn’t designed for long voyages or anything like that.”

“Yes I know…” Baltazar replied looking out at the crew.

Aralyn noticed the look on his face and place her hand on his cheek, “What is it, my love, what’s wrong?”

Baltazar looked back at her, “Ah, it’s nothing really. I just miss the old girl sometimes. I served on her from the first day I began my life at sea. I had a lot of history there.”

Aralyn raised her eyebrow in response, “Really?”

Baltazar nodded, “I know she was a noisy old ship that leaked a lot more than I would have liked and in every way imaginable, this ship is a massive improvement… but there are moments, I find myself wishing I was still on that ship.”

“I think I understand.” Aralyn replied.

Suddenly out of nowhere, the lamp lights on deck went out. The darkness was followed by a loud war cry from above. Lailah looked up and gasped, “Imps… we’re under attack, arm yourselves!”

Baltazar stood up and grabbed his sword. He turned to see Aralyn emerge from the cabin with her family’s swords. He looked at her oddly as she searched the sky, “What, I know they’re ancient, but they’ve protected my family for generations… I’d feel a lot better if they continued to.”

“All right,” Baltazar replied, “I just hope that they hold up.”

There was another loud war cry and suddenly, the moon was blocked out by a cloud of black creatures descending on the ship. They came down on deck and attacked with black spikes.

To everyone’s surprise, Lailah reached into her dress and pulled out a metal hilt. A second later, an imp landed in front of her. The hilt ignited and spike of flame shot from the sword as though responding to the imminent danger. Panicked, the creature tried to get away, but Lailah was too quick. There was a flash of light and the creature collapsed having been cut down the middle.

The other crewmen tried to fight back as well, but their swords would not penetrate the skin of these imps. Three of the creatures surrounded Aralyn. The creatures smiled as they closed in. One of them licked his lips, “I’m told the blood of an angel is the sweetest there is!”

Aralyn raised her swords and pointed them directly at the throats of two of the imps. The swords began to glow green as the imps stepped forward. As the swords lit up, the imps stopped in their place. The largest one spoke, “Those swords… how is it you come to own them?”

Aralyn gritted her teeth, “They belonged to my family.”

The imps looked at each other, “We weren’t told that they still existed! Those were thought to have been lost at Gavinana!”

Aralyn smiled, “How unfortunate for you!”

Without another word, she twirled the swords around in her hands. The glowing blades connecting with each of the imps; the first had its arm severed at the shoulder, a second was decapitated and the third was stabbed through the chest. All three of them disintegrated into black dust.

Aralyn snorted and moved on to the next group. She managed to free a group of crewmen who had been backed into the corner by the imps. Each one of them disappeared. Their leader, Legion’s assistant shook his head, “This isn’t good, we’re getting cut down here. Legion didn’t tell us about the swords, retreat!”

Slowly, the creatures began to withdraw from the deck of the Black Vengeance. Legion’s assistant waited until all of the rest were gone. He then jumped into the air and disappeared into the darkness.

Papi was at the railing watching them fly away. Once they had disappeared from view, he turned back to the crew, “Well… that wasn’t so bad now was it?”

Lailah suddenly heard something behind him and cried out, “Mr. Clement, watch out!”

As though responding to Papi’s question, the black spike belonging to Legions assistant penetrated his chest from behind. Papi gasped for breath as the imp lifted him from the ground.

Aralyn screamed, “Papi, no!”

The creature’s high-pitch laughter penetrated the ears of the crew and made them ache. Aralyn could feel the anger building up inside of her once again. She threw one of her swords to Baltazar, “Keep it, protect the men!”

Baltazar looked at her worried, “Aralyn…?”

“Do not interfere!” She replied as she began flapping her wings.

Without another word, Aralyn jumped off the side of the Black Vengeance and took flight. Her wings flapped continuously to help her gain altitude and speed. She could feel them begin to burn as the world turned to a blur around her. The imp could not keep up the same speeds and watched helplessly as she drew closer.

Once he was certain that she was in close enough proximity, he let go of Papi’s wounded body and watched him plunge towards the ocean. Aralyn suddenly changed her course and flew straight upward. Confused, the imp turned to see that she was gone and looked down to where she had gone. He’d expected that she’d go after her fallen comrade, but she hadn’t.

Suddenly a green and white blur shot straight down and passed within a few inches of him. The imp yelped as it felt an odd sensation. He looked down to see that his torso had been cut straight down the middle and was glowing green. The imp screamed as it quickly turned to dust.

Aralyn continued to freefall towards the water with her wings folded. She dove downward until she caught up to Papi and grabbed him by the arms. Her wings quickly reopened and bent to slow her decent and bring her around so that she was flying parallel with the water. She was still flying at impressive speeds as she approached the ship.

From the ship, she looked like a faint white and green shooting start. Baltazar watched for a few moments before he realized that she was coming in fast. He watched for a few more seconds before he realized she wasn’t slowing down, “Everyone out of the way, clear the deck!”

The men scattered and climbed either into the rigging or onto one of the ship’s castles.

Aralyn shot over the railing dropped Papi on the deck and attempted to land. She was unable to find her footing, hit the deck, rolled a few times and hit her back against the far side of the ship with a loud crash. The impact of her back against the hard wood knocked the air out of her and she lay on the deck for a few moments stunned. Her world went black as she lost consciousness.

Moments later, her eyes opened and her vision returned. She looked up to see Baltazar and Lailah standing over her. Baltazar was holding her head and ran a wet cloth over her face, “Are you okay?”

“A little sore, but otherwise I’m not injured.” She replied as what happened came back to her. “Papi, what happened to my Papi?”

Lailah looked at Baltazar sadly. Baltazar returned her momentary gaze before looked back down at Aralyn, “I’m sorry my love…”

Her eyes watered and lips trembled, “What are you talking about, what happened?

Lailah sighed, “I think you better get up, he’s on the other side of the deck.”

Without another word, Aralyn shot to her feet. Waves of pain shot through her spine, but she ignored it. She saw a group of men standing on the other side of the ship. She ran to them and pushed the group out of her way, “Let me in, please.”

The crewmen cleared a path for her. Once she was through, she dropped to her knees in front of Papi. The wound to his chest was bad and he was bleeding out. Aralyn grabbed her hand and frantically tried to get him to respond, “Papi… come on stay with me!”

There was a slight groan as Papi’s head slowly began to turn. His eyes opened weakly once his face turned to her, “Aralyn…”

She nodded, “Yes, I’m here.”

Papi raised a hand to her face, “My little Messy… you’ve grown into a beautiful woman.”

Aralyn smiled, “I had a lot of help, not the least of which came from you.”

“I never had the time for a wife.” Papi said with a frown. “There was always one more adventure… one more job to do. I never complained, but the one downside was that I never had any children of my own.”

The older man placed a hand on Aralyn’s cheek. She grabbed it and held it there as though it was somehow keeping him alive. He smiled up at her, “You were that child as far as I was concerned. I always enjoyed spending time with you.”

Aralyn nodded, “No matter how busy you were, no matter what was going on, you’d drop everything to play with me when I was a child, even if it meant that you’d get an earful from Sister Mary. You were my father as far as I was ever concerned.”

“I always cared for you… little Messy,” he replied, “and I always will.”

Papi closed his eyes as his head turned back to looking straight upward. Baltazar knelt down next to her and nodded as Papi smiled, “My old friend… good luck to you, where you are going…”

Aralyn shook her head frantically, “No, no, no, I’ve already lost enough. This isn’t happening, please…”

Suddenly her hands began to glow yellow and without even thinking, she placed them on Papi. His body jolted, but nothing happened. Aralyn held on to it as long as she could. The glow began to run up her arms and consume her whole body.

Baltazar looked over at Lailah confused, “What is she doing?”

“Using her life energy.” Lailah replied. “She’s trying to bring Papi back… Baltazar you have to stop her, it won’t work.”

“What do you mean?” He asked.

“Think of it as a life transfusion.” Lailah replied, “She is sacrificing parts of her living spirit in an attempt to save him. I’ve only ever heard of one other angel ever trying this and it didn’t work.”

“What happened to that angel?” Baltazar demanded.

“She almost died.” Lailah responded. “She continuously forced her life force energy into a lifeless body, but it had no effect, he was too far gone. She was stubborn and kept trying. The end result was that her life force was almost completely depleted. When that happened, her body withered away into almost nothing.”

A scream from Aralyn interrupted them. Baltazar turned to see her entire body begin to glow and her wings spread as far as they could. Baltazar grabbed her and pulled her away from Papi’s lifeless body, “I’m sorry, my love, it’s too late. He’s gone.”

Aralyn tried to fight against his grip, “No, it’s not too late, I can save him. Please let me try! Papi…”

Baltazar ignored her cries and restrained her as best her could. Aralyn continued to fight against him, “Let me go, please… it’s not too late.”

“It is too late.” Lailah replied. “He’s at peace now.”

Tears streamed down Aralyn’s cheeks as she buried her face in Baltazar’s chest. As he protected her, Baltazar turned to the quartermaster, “Take him, and see to it that he is prepared for burial properly.”

The quartermaster nodded, “Aye sir, no problem.”

Three men helped gather up Papi’s body and bring him below deck so the quartermaster could wrap him in cloth. Once they were off the deck, Aralyn sobbed into Baltazar’s shirt, “I could have saved him… why wouldn’t you let me?”

“It would have killed you.” Baltazar replied. “He was too far gone.”

Aralyn shook her head, “You don’t know that…”

She released a deep sigh, but said nothing else. She fought hard to control her breathing as she hid her face. When she finally calmed down, Baltazar shook his head and looked at Lailah, “How much more?”

“Beg pardon?” Lailah asked.

“How much more?” He repeated in a more aggressive tone. “She has been called upon to sacrifice so much. Any normal person would have been driven to the brink of insanity by now. So again I ask you, how much more will she be expected to lose for us to be victorious?”

Lailah shook her head, “I don’t know… I can’t answer that. Hopefully no more… though it seems that Legion is now focused on the people she cares about.”

“Where were the Choirs?” Aralyn demanded. “I understand them not wanting to interfere when we fought against the corsairs, but they were supposed to be protecting us from demonic attack!”

Lailah lowered her eyes, “I’m sorry, you’re asking me questions that I cannot answer. I know General Xaphine has the Choirs scrambling to assemble for battle, but why they didn’t interfere here is anybody’s guess.”

“I’m starting to wonder if we’re fighting for the right side.” Baltazar sneered. “This is too cruel!”

“Small words,” Lailah replied, “You don’t understand what you are talking about. One is made to suffer and that is tragic, but would you seriously hold that one’s suffering over all of existence and life?”

Baltazar stood up, letting Aralyn sort out her emotions for a few more moments while he confronted Lailah. His angry glare never left her eyes, “Now you listen to me and you listen well. I fight for her and her alone. I could care less for the rest of existence outside of this ship. These people are my family. I would gladly allow the rest to fall if it meant never seeing a tear drop from Adalyn’s cheeks again.”

Lailah nodded, “Then she is lucky to have you, but how many tears do you think she will cry if Lucifer or Legion gets their way? Do you think you can sail your ship far enough to escape them? You couldn’t even escape the french without help.”

Before Baltazar could say another word, they heard a low voice behind them, “No more…”

Suddenly, Aralyn sprang to her feet and shot straight up into the air with her sword tight in her grasp. Her wings flapped hard against the air as she climbed high above the masts of the Black Vengeance. The wind whipped across her skin as she flew higher.

Once she was above the clouds, high enough that she could not be see, she screamed out as loud as she could manage, “Legion!”

There was no response. She waited for a moment and then called out again, “Legion!”

Again, no response came. Aralyn was starting to get very angry, “I know you are listening in Legion. Show your face, you coward!”

There was a quiet breeze followed by a low moaning noise. Suddenly, two yellow eyes appeared in front of her, “Aralyn…”

Aralyn clenched her jaw as she stared the demon down, “Enough of this. I won’t let you hurt anyone else ever again. I am coming for you. I know you are hiding in Tyre. If you want to run, go for it. I will not stop until you’re dead.”

Legion chuckled as she spoke, “Run? You are truly a descendant of Adaline. Do you think it is truly wise to come after us head-on? We are Legion… We are one that is many, we have existed since the dawn of time, and will continue to exist when the rest of these pathetic creatures are dust in the ground.”

“You may continue to exist,” Aralyn agreed, “but it will be under the oppressive heel of the devil, which corrupted your world. I don’t care about the macinations of Lucifer or his ilk. As long as you get locked away, I don’t care by who.”

There was a low growl, but no other response. Aralyn’s face changed from anger to malice, “It must hard… knowing that you once ruled, but are now forced to live in hiding. It must be agonizing for you knowing that your only hope rests in someone who isn’t even a true amgel.”

The eyes narrowed, “You overestimate your importance to the situation. We are all powerful and will soon rule again. You are not a factor.”

“I see.” Aralyn replied. “Well if you don’t need my powers, then I guess my part in this has all but played out. These powers have caused me nothing but pain, so I see no reason to hold on to them.”

She held up her hand and placed the stained blade on it. She was about to pull the blade across her skin when Legion’s eyes turned red, “Stop!”

Aralyn smiled smugly, knowing that she had proved her point, “I am coming for you, and we will fight. If you want my powers, you will need to suck them from my dead body.”

“That has always been the idea.” Legion agreed.

“Yes but it won’t happen if I exorcise my powers before we arrive.” Aralyn replied. “Stay away from the Black Vengeance, do not send anything else against us.”

Legion laughed, “Little insect, you do not give us orders!”

“No?” Aralyn replied, “If I see a single imp or any other creature before we reach Tyre, with all of existence as my witness, my powers will never reach you, and all you will have to kill is a mere shell of the person you intended to harvest.”

Legion’s eyes burned darker than they had. He didn’t want to admit it, but she was right. With her powers held hostage, she could tell him anything, “Very well, no creature under our command will attack you. We anxiously await your arrival, where we shall pick the flesh from your bones!”

Without another word, Legion disappeared and Aralyn returned to the ship. When she landed, Baltazar approached her, “Aralyn, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Aralyn replied through clenched teeth. “Let’s just get to Tyre.”

Baltazar nodded and turned to the crew, “You heard the lady, full sail.”

The crew reported to their stations and got the ship back up to full speed. Baltazar placed his hands on Aralyn’s shoulders, “What happened.”

“Legion won’t bother us again… not until we reach Tyre.” She replied. “Until then, I’d just like to be alone if that’s okay?”

Baltazar looked at her strangely, “Are you going to be all right?”

“I think so.” She replied. “I just need some time. I know you want to help, but you can’t protect me from my emotions. I just need to sort them out.”

Baltazar nodded, “I understand completely, but would you do me a favor?”

“Anything,” she replied, “just make it quick.”

Baltazar was hesitant to respond. He didn’t want to start a fight, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to give her the space she needed otherwise, “Can you leave your swords out here with me?”

Aralyn flashed him an annoyed look that seemed to ask him if he was being serious, “You know they can’t hurt me, right?”

Baltazar nodded, “I know… just please, for my own sanity?”

She sighed and handed him the sword. He put the two blades together and turned back to Aralyn with an outstretched hand. She looked down at it and then back up at him confused. He turned his head to the side a little signaling that he knew she still had something. Finally she rolled her eyes and reached behind her. When her hand reappeared, she was holding a knife, “I seriously don’t know if this would even hurt me now.”

She handed it to him and he placed it with the rest of her blades, “Better safe than sorry.”

Aralyn nodded and turned to the cabin. She went inside and closed the door. Baltazar made his way to the aft castle and took the helm from Gilles, “You’re relieved, go help with the sails.”

Gilles saluted and headed for the main mast. A second later, Lailah appeared next to Baltazar on the helm, “I apologize for my harsh words earlier, they weren’t fair.”

“You’ve had a lot of accusations thrown at you,” Baltazar replied, “I guess it was bound to happen at some point, so don’t worry about it.”

“Thank you,” she replied, “I know that this will sound absolutely horrible, but there is one small flicker of light on this dark day.”

“I know,” Baltazar replied, “her eyes didn’t turn red this time.”

Lailah turned her head in surprise, “You are correct, but how did you know?”

“It’s hard not to notice eyes like that.” Baltazar replied. “They are unlike any I have ever seen. I think those are what first attracted me to her.”

“Nice try,” Lailah replied, “they weren’t.”

Baltazar sighed, “Okay, okay, what do you want from me? I was a scoundrel before I met her and I’ve admitted that a few times.”

Lailah smiled, “It’s okay, I know what you were… I also know who you are and what you’ve become. I know your feelings for her are sincere, otherwise I wouldn’t let you anywhere near her.”

Baltazar nodded, “Fair enough… so what does it mean?”

“Her eyes?” Lailah asked.

When Baltazar nodded, she twisted her lips and thought about it for a moment, “An angel’s eyes are the mark of divinity, indicating that they are not mortal creatures.”

“As if the wings weren’t a dead giveaway?” Baltazar asked.

“They are the source of her power.” Lailah replied. “If one is damaged, she would be severely weakened, but she would only totally be stripped if she lost both. This was done to prevent angels from cutting off their wings and becoming human.”

“Then why wasn’t she able to cut hers off when she tried?” Baltazar asked, looking at the swords on his table.

Lailah picked one up, carefully keeping the blade away from her, “In case you haven’t noticed, these are not ordinary swords. In most circumstances, a mortal weapon can not injure a divine creature. These swords were once ordinary weapons like any other, but Aralyn’s ancestors altered them.”

“Altered them?” Baltazar asked. “How?”

Lailah shook her head, “Some things are left buried in the past. All I will say is that the stains on these swords are not tarnish or a sign of neglect. These swords have been cursed and are not to be taken lightly.”

Baltazar’s eyes narrowed as he looked at them, “Very well… but that still doesn’t tell me why they wouldn’t cut her.”

Lailah held the sword up and closed her eyes, “She’s a member of the Patrisi family… That is where the allegeance of these swords lies. They will not harm her.”

“It sounds like you’re saying that these swords are able to think like you or I.” Baltazar replied.

Lailah didn’t reply. She just returned the sword to the table and turned back, “Is there anything else you wish to know?”

“You mentioned the mark of divinity… What about an angel’s halo?” Baltazar asked “I though those were supposed to be symbols of the divine.”

Lailah turned to him with an annoyed look, “More childish nonsense. You really believe we all walk around with shiny circles around our heads? So in addition looking ridiculous, if we were attacked, we’d be easy targets.”

Baltazar shrugged, “Well I guess it does sound kind of stupid.”

“It’s not stupid.” Lailah replied. “It’s just what you’ve been taught. Allow me to clarify… Your early church leaders pushed a lot of rhetorical and symbolic energy into the idea of the Most High as a source of light. As a result, the halo was added to many works including those depicting your savior, saints, and angels. It was meant to be symbolic, nothing more.”

“That does make a lot more sense.” Baltazar replied. “So what happens to one’s divinity when something like what happened to Aralyn takes place?”

“The red eyes?” Lailah asked softly.

Baltazar nodded in response. Lailah thought for a second before replying, “I’m afraid I do not know entirely. If I were to guess, I would say that it means that she was being corrupted. The anger and hate were tainting her soul thanks to Legion. So the fact that, even after extraordinary loss, it didn’t happen this time is very much to our advantage.”

Baltazar lowered his eyes, “I just wish it didn’t come at such a high price.”

“Yes…” Lailah replied. “I know how much he meant to the both of you. I didn’t mean to downplay the significance of Mr. Clement’s death.”

Baltazar shook his head, “You didn’t. I understood what you meant, but it’s still difficult on Aralyn. He’s pretty much the only family she had left. Between her parents, that sister, and Papi…”

“You are her last hope.” Lailah replied.

Baltazar frowned, “That puts us in a pretty poor place.”

Lailah stood in front of Balktazar and looked into his eyes, “You are her last source of light. If you fall now, she could be pushed into complete darkness. When that happens, all hope for the future is gone. I hope you know what that means… especially what it means to her.”

Baltazar tightened his lips and nodded, “I do… believe me, I do.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 5, Chapter 5

V

 

“Captain, wake up!” A voice called.

Baltazar quickly opened his eyes to see Gilles standing over him with a worried look. He rubbed his eyes as he spoke, “What is it?”

“It’s Aralyn,” he replied, “we can hear her screaming from the cabin, but we can’t get to her! She’s barracaded herself in.”

Baltazar shot to his feet and jumped off the aft castle. The ball of his foot hurt as he landed on the deck, but he ignored it. Morgan was prying at the door with three other men, but was unable to get it opened. Lailah was staring at the door, completely focused on it.

Baltazar walked up behind them, “What’s going on here?”

“We don’t know,” Morgan replied, “We started hearing screaming, and the door won’t open. Aralyn has been barricaded in there!”

Lailah shook her head, “She’s using some kind of mental barrier… shes so strong…”

Baltazar nodded, “Keep trying.”

Morgan looked back over at the men trying to bring the door down, “Come on boys, put your backs into it!”

Baltazar looked at Lailah, “You’re back to full power, can’t you do anything?”

“I can’t get in there.” Lailah replied. “Whatever she has done, is far stronger than anything I could have anticipated. I’m afraid that this is beyond my power. I’m sorry.”

“I need to talk to her,” he replied, “I need to get in there.”

“I don’t see how…” Lailah said in a defeated tone.

“What about the door?” Baltazar asked. “Can you at least open it?”

She looked at him and then looked at the knob, “I can try, I don’t know if it will work and you probably still won’t be able to get in.”

“I’ll take my chances.” Baltazar said adamantly.

Lailah nodded, “Give me a moment… I’ll see what I can do.”

Lailah focused her mind and began to pull at the knob. Within moments, the door flew open as though it has been pushed by a heavy breeze. The crew trying to break it down flew backwards, out of the way while Baltazar ran to the door.

The scene inside could only have been described as pure horror. Blood dripped from Aralyn’s wings as she had apparently pulled out several feathers. The ones that were still in place were stained crimson red. When she looked up, her eyes were once again glowing bright red.

Baltazar’s eyes widened as his eyes met hers, “Aralyn…”

“Go away!” She screamed in an inhuman tone.

“ No,” Baltazar fired back, “I won’t let you keep hurting yourself, stop this! Let me in!”

The look in her eyes was one of complete insanity as she glared at him with a smile, “I’m not hurting myself! I’m getting rid of these infernal wings. I don’t want them or the burden that they carry!”

“I don’t understand.” Baltazar replied. “Why?”

“They’ve been nothing but bad news since they sprouted!” She screamed. “I hate them… I hate the people at the abbey, I hate the angels, I hate everything! They all knew about this! They all knew and they kept it from me.”

“You know that isn’t true.” Baltazar replied in a calm voice. “This isn’t you talking right now.”

Baltazar pushed his way in through the door. It was hard for him to move forward. There was a force pushing against him as though someone were standing there with their arms out.

Aralyn saw him successfully fighting his way in and winced in his direction as though trying to push him back. Baltazar could feel the pressure from her push, but the strength wasn’t there, “I’m coming in, Aralyn, one way or another.”

Aralyn clenched her jaw as she struggled to push back, “No you’re not!”

She grabbed one of her family’s swords and put it over her left wing, “Come any closer, and I’ll slice it off!”

Baltazar shook his head and took another small step forward. She saw him move and raised the sword a little higher, “I mean it!”

He ignored her and kept moving. Aralyn screamed, “Fine, you pushed me to this!”

Lailah cried out from behind Baltazar, “No Aralyn, don’t!”

She raised the sword an inch higher and brought it down. Baltazar panicked, “Aralyn!”

The sword came down on her left wing, but the moment it touched her skin, it began glowing green. She looked at it oddly and tried again, but it would not cut her skin.

The shock caused her to lose focus and she lost control of the barrier. The moment that the pressure was gone, Baltazar ran over to her and swung his left hand towards her. The back of his palm impacted on the hand that held the sword and sent it flying into a wall.

Aralyn frantically tried to attack Baltazar, but he held her down on the bed. Lailah, Papi, and three other crewmen ran in behind them. Baltazar struggled to subdue Aralyn, but she refused to stop. Her arms flailed about, trying to break free of Baltazar, but he would not let go. Papi donated his heaviness to helping restrain her, but it still did not seem like enough. Lailah placed her hands on Aralyn’s chin and forehead as she whispered prayer.

Aralyn scoffed, “The word of the Most High will not save you, nor will it save me or anyone else!”

Lailah ignored her and continued her prayer. Finally, after a few moments, Aralyn stopped struggling. The red in her eyes faded, but did not vanish, instead it turned into a purple hue. She lay back and curled herself into a ball. Lailah tried to comfort her, but a swing of Aralyn’s fist told her to stay away.

Aralyn sobbed into her pillow, unwilling to look at anyone, “Don’t touch me… ever again…”

Satisfied that she once again had regained control, Papi and Baltazar released their remaining holds on her. As the men stood up, Baltazar nodded, “Thank you, Mr. Clement.”

“Anytime.” Papi replied. “She’s the closest thing I have to a daughter… I hate to see this happen.”

Baltazar sat down near her face and stroked her hair, “As do I, it pains me like nothing ever has before.”

Aralyn’s eyes popped open and looked lifelessly at Baltazar, “Don’t let it… a mechanism is not worth such loving care…”

Baltazar’s eyes narrowed, “Mechanism, what are you talking about? Why would you say something like that?”

“That’s all I am,” she replied, “a tool to be used… to serve a purpose and nothing more. Isn’t that right, Lailah?”

Every eye in the room focused on Lailah as though she had committed a terrible crime. Baltazar’s eyes were like daggers as he signaled his men, “Clear this room of anything that can be used as a weapon and put it all in the hold until further notice.”

The men saluted and got to work clearing the room while Baltazar attended to the more important matters. His accusing glare didn’t leave Lailah’s eyes as he stood up, “What is she talking about? You better not lie to me.”

Lailah shook her head nervously as she slowly backed away, “I do not know.”

“She’s lying!” Aralyn said from behind them. “She was there before I was even born. There is no way she didn’t play a part in everyone fixing my thoughts, my personality… and my soul.”

Papi looked down at her, “What are you talking about?”

“They corrupted me.” She replied. “Instead of letting me grow, learn, and become my own person, they engineered my mind so I’d be exactly what they wanted! I was shaped to become this before I was even born!”

Baltazar could not believe what he was hearing. He clenched his jaw as he turned to Lailah. Normally, he would never strike a woman, but if Lailah didn’t give him an answer that he liked, he would be very tempted, “Is this true Lailah?”

Lailah looked into Aralyn’s eyes and studied thier purple hue as she spoke, “Aralyn you are looking at this entirely the wrong way…”

At that moment, a question entered her mind. How could she have possibly found out? She had to know where Aralyn got her information, “Wait, who told you this?”

“Adaline.” She replied. “My great great grandmother appeared to me outside and told me everything.”

Lailah shook her head, “That’s not possible. Adaline died a human. She no longer had the ability to manifest herself. There is no way she could have…”

A chill suddenly ran down her spine, Lailah could sense the dark taint and knew what had happened, “Oh no… Legion… Legion is the one who appeared to you. Aralyn, he has poisoned your mind, you have to listen to me!”

“Why should I believe a word you say?” Aralyn demanded. “You’ve kept all of this from me… did you think I wouldn’t find out at some point? How do I know it was Legion and not really Adaline? She sounds like she’s resourceful.”

Baltazar stepped between them and faced Lailah, “I’d actually like to hear the answer to that as well…”

“It wasn’t my decision to keep this from you.” Lailah replied. “Nor was I involved in any reshaping. I was under orders from…”

“Get out!” Aralyn yelled. “All of you get the hell out!”

Baltazar nodded, “As long as you give me a solemn word of honor that you will not harm yourself.”

“Fine,” She replied, “You have my word, now get out!”

Baltazar reached for her swords, intent on taking them out of the room when Aralyn grabbed his hand, “I already gave you my word, and as you’ve seen, these weapons won’t harm me. Leave them.”

Baltazar sighed and nodded as he backed away, “All right.”

The three of them left her alone to sob into her pillow. As they closed the door behind themselves, Papi shook his head, “What is going on with her. I’ve known her for years and I’ve seen her get angry before, but she’s never gone quite this far. Why does this keep happening?”

“Legion.” Lailah replied. “He’s fighting to gain control…”

“Is that so?” Baltazar asked accusingly. “Because I’m not so certain he’s the one we should be worried about anymore.”

Lailah narrowed her eyes, “I’m not sure that I like what you’re insinuating.”

“I don’t give a damn if you like it or not.” Baltazar shot back. “What did you do to her, why is she saying that she’s been corrupted?”

Lailah sighed, “Okay… You have to understand the set of circumstances that we knew were going to occur surrounding her birth. The Choirs knew that she would be spending most of her life in an abbey. Such a sheltered existence would not have prepared her for the fight ahead. So it was decided that her mind would be altered to include some of Adaline’s skills.”

“Who decided?” Papi demanded. “You and Xaphine?”

“No of course not.” She replied. “Actually Xaphine opposed the whole idea. She didn’t think it was fair to tinker with someone’s thoughts. Unfortunately, back then she was still trying to acclimate to her new role. I was in favor of doing some work, but the Choirs pretty much wanted a copy of Adaline’s mind.”

“In other words, you found the perfect soldier and wanted to make a copy of her.” Baltazar sneered.

“Yes,” Lailah admitted, lowering her eyes, “I’m afraid that is what the Choirs wanted. The vote on the matter was almost an even split, but the majority was in favor of the plan. One life to save billions, it sounded like the logical choice to make.”

Papi crossed his arms, “But?”

Lailah nodded, “Some of us thought that after the long series of conflicts, the Choirs may have lost sight of things… and Adaline strongly resisted the idea. She would not allow her mind to be copied. Once the vote was counted, a few of us worked behind the scenes to sabotage the operation. Xaphine knew what we were doing and though she wouldn’t help us, she looked the other way.”

“So what happened?” Baltazar demanded.

Lailah’s lips twisted as she responded, “We reached a compromise. Aralyn only received a portion of Adaline’s abilities and her wit. She received none of her memories, none of her personality, and none of her experience. In the end, all she received was little more than a child would have received after years of nurture and influence from a parent. I swear to you that we didn’t let it go any further then that!”

“It’s still a violation!” Papi yelled. “She should have been allowed to learn and grow on her own, not be fixed the way you wanted her.”

“I don’t have to stand here and listen to this.” Lailah snorted as she turned away. “I did what I could to prevent it. I was an advocate for her family, but what’s done is done and it was done was done for the right reasons!”

“Right reason says you,” a voice appeared from behind, “but is it right for her says I?”

Lailah shook her head, “Morgan, I am in no mood to be chastised by a pirate.”

She turned to face the entire group, “Look, I can’t defend what happened… but I did everything I could to prevent it. The Choirs did it to save us all…right or wrong, what’s done is done. If you all can’t get passed that, then order me away.”

She turned to Baltazar, “Xaphine left me under your command. If you wish me gone, just say it.”

Papi was about to say something when Baltazar raised his hand to keep Papi silent. It took him a while to sort everything out, but finally he spoke up, “Just some of her abilities, are you absolutely certain? I want to hear you say it, her personality is all her own.”

Lailah sighed, “Would you honestly love her any less if it wasn’t? Would it truly matter?”

“I’m asking the questions here!” Baltazar fired back. “It matters because I want to know if the person I love is who she is or if she is someone else. Answer me, or get off my ship.”

“I swear it on my own wings,” she replied, “Aralyn’s personality stems from her experiences, her knowledge, and her interactions, nothing more. The person you love is genuinely her own person.”

Baltazar released a long breath through his nose and turned toward the cabin, “I don’t want you any where near her. Unless she asks to see you, stay away from her from now on or you’ll answer to me.”

Lailah nodded unenthusiastically, “As you wish, it’s your ship.”

Baltazar turned the knob slowly and was about to open the door when the lookout signaled, “Sail ho, five points to starboard!”

Baltazar ran to the desk by the helm and grabbed the spyglass. He opened it up and peered through. It took him a moment for the lenses to focus, but the ship eventually appeared. It resembled a small fluyte that Baltazar had seen in the Netherlands, except that it was heavily armed, had what looked like a large spike protruding from the bow, and flew red banners.

Baltazar dropped the glass, “Corsairs…”

He quickly turned around and starting ringing the ship’s bell frantically, “All hands on deck, to your stations, man the guns!”

Morgan walked up next to him, “Captain, what is it?”

“It’s a corsair.” Baltazar replied. “She’s heavily armed. They hunt the Mediterranean for white, Christian, slaves that they can hold for ransom or sell in their homelands.”

Morgan closed his eyes, “And we be a prime target for that sort of hunting. Be that the problem?”

“Aye,” Baltazar replied, “and it’s an even bigger problem if Aralyn is out of commission.”

“What about Lailah?” Morgan asked. “Surely she wouldn’t let us come to harm…”

“I am not so sure anymore.” Baltazar replied, “Especially after recent revelations… We’re most likely just a means to an end.”

Morgan shook his head, “It feels like our team be coming apart at the seams.”

“I hope not,” Baltazar said with a sigh, “but only time is going to be able to tell.”

Baltazar picked up the spyglass again and looked at the incoming corsair ship, “Give them a double charge of powder men, I don’t want this ship getting in too close.”

“I’ll take care of it sir,” Morgan replied.

Lailah took his spot on deck while Morgan went to deal with the gun crews, “What should I do?”

Baltazar did not look at her and for a moment did not respond. Lailah rolled her eyes and grabbed his shoulder, “Look, I understand you may be at odds with me and perhaps justifiably so… but I am here now, and I am here to help. I fought in the Celestial War, so I am no stranger to combat. If you want me to just go below, that is up to you…”

“There are a couple of things you could do,” Baltazar replied, “but none of them are particularly Christian. If you want to help, guard the cabin and make sure that no one gets to Aralyn.”

“Okay,” Lailah nodded as she turned and headed to her post, “that is reasonable.”

The corsair ship drew closer. Baltazar could see their crew gearing up for combat. He turned and put his hand on Gilles shoulder, “No matter what happens, keep us away from the pike on the front, and don’t let them into boarding range!”

Gilles looked at the corsair ship as it began to turn, “That may not be easy Captain, that ship has the wind on their side.”

“Aye,” Baltazar replied, “but we have the better weapons.”

Gilles nodded as Baltazar turned to the men, “Break out the pistols, those of you who are not on a cannon or the sails, grab a gun. Once they’re in range, cut down their numbers as best you can!”

The quartermaster brought crates of their pistols up to the deck and distributed them amongst the crew. He tried to give one to Lailah, but all he got was an odd look, “Give that… weapon to someone who needs it.”

The quartermaster shrugged as he continued his work, “As you wish.”

Morgan inspected the guns on deck before turning back to Baltazar, “Guns be at the ready, Captain!”

Baltazar remained silent as he peered into his spyglass. He counted down a few seconds then turned to the deck, “Fire!”

Morgan nodded, “Fire everything!”

The guns went off with a massive boom. In the cabin, Aralyn opened her eyes. She heard the crew running around and sensed that something was up, but she didn’t think it was anything serious until she heard the guns. She rolled out of bed and ran to the door. What she saw when she opened it was pure chaos. Smoke clouded her view as she tried to assess who they were fighting. Suddenly, Lailah appeared in front of her, “Back inside with you!”

Aralyn flew backwards into the room and the door slammed shut. The guns continued to fire as the corsairs’ ship turned to port. Their guns were smaller, but more numerous. Once the ship was in position, they fired back. Cannonballs ripped through the hulls of both ships as their crews tried to take cover.

As soon as the cannons from the corsair ceased their fearsome attack, crewmen from the Black Vengeance who weren’t reloading cannons, attacked with pistols. They managed to cut down a few of the corsair crewmen, but not enough to make much of a difference. The corsair ship drew closer and began to close the space between the two ships until they were right alongside one another.

Desperate, Morgan turned to his men, “Reload faster ye dogs, or by God that’s how ye’ll be treated.”

Loud grunts could be heard as the men quickly pushed their guns back into position. Each crew commander signaled to Morgan and he turned to the captain, “Guns be at the ready, at your command!”

Baltazar nodded, “Give them everything you’ve got boys, fire!”

The guns let loose with a mighty boom. The blasts ripped into the deck of the corsair ship. Splinters and debris could be seen shooting through the air as the corsair’s deck caught fire. They had taken heavy damage and were listing, but their gamble worked. The corsairs were now in close enough to board.

Baltazar saw the dark-skinned men grabbing loose rigging and grapples. He breathed heavily as he grabbed the wheel from Gilles and turned it hard to starboard. He pulled the wheel until it would not go any further and held it in position as tightly as he could.

The ship began to turn, but not quickly enough. Corsairs threw grappling hooks across while others swung over on the loose rigging. Before anyone knew what was going on, the Black Vengeance’s deck was swarming with men wearing colorful clothing, including turbans, wielding odd looking swords that were thick and curved, resembling a sickle.

The crew of the Black Vengeance fought as hard as they could, but they weren’t used to the foreign fighting style that most of these men used. At gunnery, Baltazar’s men were the best in the world, but in close quarters, they were unprepared for the speed and agility of their opponents.

In the cabin, Aralyn could hear the men she called family fighting for their lives. She tried to block it all out, but the anger was overpowering. Her eyes had remained purple since Baltazar was with her had now begun to turn crimson red. She ran to the door, and opened it. Lailah once again tried to push her back into the cabin, but this time, Aralyn could not be restrained. She saw the people she loved being cut down and it was too much for her. Lailah glared at the young angel, “Go back inside right now!”

Aralyn‘s eyes flared even brighter red and began to glow. She turned and faced Lailah as she clenched her jaw. Her fingers curled into a fist at her side as she glared at the other angel.

Suddenly, Lailah began to choke. Her hands grabbed frantically at whatever unseen force was holding her neck, but it was a futile effort. Lailah’s feet were no longer touching the ground and her whole body rose higher in response to Aralyn’s anger.

Finally, Aralyn spoke. Her voice was low and demonic, “Lailah… you would allow these people to die needlessly?”

Lailah struggled against her, “Aralyn… please…”

Aralyn shook her head and made a swinging motion with her hand. Lailah went flying through the door of the cabin and disappeared from view. There was now no one in Aralyn’s way.

Aralyn walked out through the chaos to the center of the deck. She began to breathe heavily as though charging her lungs. Finally, she unleashed a blood curding scream, “Stop!”

She raised her hands until they were parallel with her shoulders and spread her wings. In response, each of the corsairs dropped their weapons and grabbed their necks. Their bodies also elevated off the ground.

Aralyn’s body began to glow and shudder with all the built up anger. Baltazar watched from the aft castle as the man he had been fighting elevated high above the deck. He then turned to see that the corsair ship itself had also been elevated out of the water.

Aralyn winced as though struggling to command her powers, but it wasn’t working. Her eyes flickered white as she tried again, but it still didn’t work. Suddenly a pair of dark eyes appeared next to her. Their owner called to her in a voice that was little more than a growl, “It won’t work this way Aralyn…”

She gasped as she heard it, but did not respond. Instead, she tried a second time, but the corsairs still hung there struggling to breathe. She couldn’t release them.

The crew of the Black Vengeance watched in horror as events unfolded. Baltazar tried to get to Aralyn, but something had locked his feet to the deck. He found himself helpless and unable to move. The rest of his men appeared to be suffering from the same affliction.

The red eyes shook as the voice laughed, “There is a lot of anger here, and you use it well, but there is no hate. You can’t hope to finish what you started without it… let me help you…”

The red eyes were suddenly surrounded by black smog that formed into a human-like figure, “I killed your parents. They were cut down so easily… I can do the same to this crew you appear to have replaced them with. Show me your hate… now…”

Aralyn shook her head, “No… I do not hate… You may be ancient, but you have squandered that time in ignorance. I don’t do this out of anger or hate… I do it out of love. By choosing to use hate, you show your weakness!”

Her eyes flickered between blue and red again. She breathed in deeply and then unleashed a second blood curdling scream, “Be gone!”

A huge beam of light emanated from her chest and struck the black entity. It disappeared in puff of smoke as Aralyn winced again and sent the corsairs into the water. She then raised their ship even higher into the sky. Her hands curled as though holding on to a stick and made a snapping motion. In response, the corsair’s ship snapped in half like a nutshell and fell back into the water. The corsairs swam as fast as they could to the remains of their wrecked ship.

Aralyn spread her wings and flew out over them, her eyes glowed white as she looked down. Many of the men stopped thrashing about in the water and raised their arms, expecting attack. Aralyn hovered for another moment and finally spoke. To Baltazar’s surprise, she was speaking in the Arabic language that the corsairs used, “Do not be afraid, I will not kill any man here. Your vessel will remain afloat for one hour. Use this time to get your lifeboats into the water. Once you are all safe, row south and you shall reach land. Once there, the lord commands you to abandon your wicked ways! Do this or I fear you may have sealed your fate!

Lailah watched her from the deck and smiled as a feeling of satisfaction poured over her. Aralyn ceased glowing and returned to the ship. She landed in the middle of the main deck in front of the men. A loud cheer went up from the crew as they gathered around her, hugged her, and applauded. Her eyes darted back and forth as though she were looking for someone.

Suddenly, Baltazar appeared in front of her and grabbed her. She gasped for air as he squeezed her in his arms. She smiled and closed her eyes, “I am so sorry I scared you like that… I don’t know how…”

“Hush,” he replied, “it’s in the past now.”

When he let up on her, she raised her eyes to his, “But how can you still love me? Look at me, this face, this… it’s not mine. I was engineered… just a mechanism…”

“You are not a mechanism.” Lailah interrupted as she fought through the crowd. “Yes, the Choirs meddled with your mind, but they gave you nothing that you would not have received on your own had your parents survived. They gave you the tools, you used them to become who you are and make youself better.”

Baltazar smiled, “And who you are, is what I fell in love with… if that even makes sense.”

“It makes perfect sense to me,” Aralyn replied in a joyful tone, “and that is all that matters.”

Then she remembered what she had done to the angel that had watched over her. Sheepishly, she turned to Lailah, “I am sorry…”

Lailah smiled and touched Aralyn’s wings. The feathers Aralyn had ripped out instantly grew back and the blood stains disappeared, “You are a greater being then any I have ever met and I am very proud of you. There is nothing to forgive.”

*

Miles away, just outside of the city of Tyre, stood a large formation of ancient ruins, unknown to the rest of the world. Once a prominent port city, war had reduced the land to rubble.  The sand blew over the scarred ruins like mist. The whole area began to tremble and creek as an unseen specter screeched across the land.

Suddenly, a cloud of black smoke appeared and Legion took form. There was a dark growl as he stood alone, had any human been within miles of him, they would have been deafened by the scream. His red eyes turned out to the sea, “Oh you have grown strong, young Aralyn… you are a descendant of Adaline, no doubt about it.”

A small imp nervously peaked out from behind the rocks, “Master, is everything alright?”

“We have failed.” Legion replied. “We did not expect that such a weak-minded girl would have such strength.”

“Then our cause is lost,” the imp replied.

“Our cause is not lost,” Legion hissed in a dark voice, “She may be strong, but she has weaknesses. A chink in the armor, even a small one, can be very dangerous.”

“What would that be?” The creature asked in a hopeless voice. “If she was able to overpower you…”

“She is powerful, this is true…” Legion cut in, “but she’s only a hybrid, she still has human characteristics.”

The imp nodded as if finally understood, “So she can be tricked, hurt, or killed?”

“We have already tried tricking her.” Legion replied. “Her powers and her strength of will protect her.”

The imp looked at him confused, “Then what advantage do we have left, master?”

“The crew,” Legion replied, “specifically two of them; the cook and Baltazar.”

“What significance do they hold?” The imp asked, “They are mere humans.”

“Her family.” Legion said maliciously. “We never understood the need, but she has taken them as the people she connects with the most. Eliminate them, and she will fall.”

The imp nodded, “A sound plan, my liege, but how do you plan on carrying it out?”

“Gather your forces,” Legion replied, “that ship must not reach Tyre.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Drakin, where to buy, and what’s next?

Hello all!

I hope everyone has enjoyed The Story of Raiya thus far!! When you’re finished, if you enjoyed it, the sequel Orphans of Haven is now available for purchase! Please don’t forget to leave me a review on amazon once your done. That really helps me out a lot.

Copies of these books, as well as my others, can be purchased on Amazon by following this link:

James Harrington’s Author Page

They’re also available at Barnes and Noble, as well as many other places where books are sold!

Please feel free to like and reblog this post. Word of mouth helps us writers out a lot!

Drakin: The Story of Raiya


Book Synopsis:
‘ “Abomination, freak, monster…”  You get used to names like these when you have yellow eyes, horns, and scales, but Raiya could have really cared less.

After being forced into exile because of her appearance, Raiya’s mind has been focused on one goal; hunting down the dragon lord that killed her parents. For over thirty years, humanity has been locked in a struggle for survival against a race of dragons that had fallen from the heavens. They took everything from her and consumed the planet in a fierce war. Humanity’s numbers are quickly dwindling, leaving her few options in the way of allies.

What she doesn’t know is that her journey will strike at the very heart of the Red War and uncover truths about her past that she may not want to know. Can she finish what she started while coming to terms with the truths of her origin? ‘


SAMPLE CHAPTER

Chapter I

“Unbelievable… thirty years of this shit…  wonder how we’ve been able to keep this up for so long.”

As Jagger pulled his jeep onto what was once Route 9, he reached over to the dash and turned the radio on. A tired-sounding voice appeared over the speaker, “This Matt Lowry, WPR hourly news. Today the Second Battalion, Eastern division, rendezvoused with the Third Battalion outside of New Washington beneath the third parallel in district 5. They were successful at warding off the dragon advance. Casualties were estimated at 30%. However, initial reports estimate that at least six dragons were downed in the fight…”

Jagger sighed. Why do I even bother listening to this? It’s never good news, just a constant reminder that we’re all fucked. Every time those beasts attack, we’re pushed a little closer to extinction.

“In other news, Captain Suen Luli of the Eastern Coalition Air Corps was awarded for…”

Click.

Jagger turned the radio off. He knew the typical song and dance of the news source. They’d tell the bad news first and then deliver some good news which would be played up to be more important. He understood why things were done this way. Morale was very important… especially when it was hidden from no one that humanity was losing the war quite badly.

The jeep drove under the remains of an old overpass that had long since collapsed. It maneuvered gently around the piles of debris. Jagger had spent a lot of time rebuilding and refurbishing his truck. He wasn’t about to get it banged up. Once it cleared the debris, he pressed the gas and picked up speed.

A sign on the side read ‘Now Entering Natick.’ Jagger had been told stories about how that whole area used to be lively with stores and restaurants for people to enjoy. He was too young to remember any of this.

The Red War had been going on for years before his birth, and Natick had been laid to waste while he was still a young child. Now all that remained was rubbed and maybe some salvageable equipment buried in the dirt.

The jeep rounded a large piece concrete that, at one time had been the side of a storefront. This was usually Jagger’s marker to find his way back home. As the jeep hit the open road, a loud noise cut through the air. Shreeeee!

Jagger hit the brakes, “Wyverns… shit! One of those days…”

Jagger quickly put the car in park before reaching behind the passenger seat and grabbing a large bolt rifle. A dark shadow passed overhead as he checked the cartridge battery. The indicator light jumped from red to blue, showing a full charge. Good… let’s do this!

Jagger jumped out of the jeep, brushed a few strands of his long, brown hair out of his face and aimed the rifle. The first wyvern he saw was flying low overhead. He ducked down behind the large piece of rubble that he has passed a moment ago. His gray eyes followed the target. He watched and waited… waited until he had lined up a clean shot, and pulled the trigger. Three large, positively-charged bolts flew from the barrel. Two shots hit the large beast, sending it falling from the sky. I’ve gotten too used to taking down drakes. I used to be able to hit with all three shots!

Sparks of blue electricity flashed through its body as it hit the barrel ground. The wyvern’s skin was too thick for the bolts to do any real damage. They only stunned it, but it was enough to give Jagger the advantage.

He quickly ran to the wyvern, pulled a large machete from his belt, and jabbed it into the only vulnerable part of a dragon’s body; the eyes.

The blade destroyed the creature’s left eye and plunged into its brain. The dying wyvern let out a painful cry as it tried to dislodge the blade. It was a gruesome sight that Jagger had grown used to. He’d been trained for a long time to show no mercy.

Every time he had to watch this scene, he remembered back to the first one he’d killed during his training. He remembered that it had made him sick to his stomach. Seeing a creature suffer like that seemed cruel, but every time he was about to look away his drill sergeant would stop him and force him to watch, “They’re lethal to the very end. Turning your back on one now could be the biggest mistake you ever make.”

‘The biggest mistake.’ It was something that he’d never forgotten.

The wounded beast slowly ceased movement as death overtook it. Jagger placed his foot over the beast’s snout and pulled his blade from its head. Greenish-purple blood spewed from the wound as Jagger wiped the blade off.

As Jagger finished cleaning the blade, he turned to head back to his jeep and grab a few supplies. The snout of a second wyvern was in his path. Oh shit…

Somehow the beast had used its partner’s death screams as a cover to hold Jagger’s attention long enough for it to sneak up on him. The beast smiled, “Hope you taste good!”

Jagger frowned, “This is one meal you’re going to have to work for.”

Jagger gripped the blade at his side, knowing he’d never raise it in time. He waited for the wyvern to lunge. This was likely it, “Bring it on… you ugly freak!”

As the wyvern took a step towards him, a black blur appeared in its path. It shrieked in surprise upon realizing that it had become outnumbered.

Jagger blinked as his eyes adjusted to the new player. They were completely clad in black robes from head to toe, making identification impossible. A gray backpack was strapped tightly to their back. Whoever this was, they moved with lightning speed.

The wyvern snapped at the robed figure, only to have the figure dodge out of the way and grab it by the neck. The stranger held the wyvern in a headlock as it struggled to get out. Jagger watched as it hissed and roared, “Damn… this guy is good!”

“Let go, bitch or I’ll tear your heart out!” The wyvern snarled.

Female… okay, well that’s a start. Jagger thought as he quickly moved to grab his bolt gun.

No amount of thrashing could shake this stranger lose. Her hands were locked tightly around the wyvern’s neck. She spoke in a voice that was barely more than a whisper, “No… you won’t…”

To Jagger’s utter shock, she jerked her arms, causing the wyvern’s neck to sharply turn to the side. The sound of a loud snap caused the wyvern to go limp.

The skeletal structure and bone mass of even the youngest dragons were considerably thicker than humans. Their muscle tissue was also incredibly strong. No human being should posess that strength. It was a physical impossibility.

Jagger watched in amazement as she let go of the beast, tossed its head to the side, and turned to confront him. He put on a friendly smile and nodded nervously. Careful Jagger, she looks like she’s ready to kill you. “Thanks.”

He couldn’t see most of her face under the hood, but her yellow eyes almost looked like they were glowing. Her voice was deep and very quiet when she spoke. It was almost a whisper and difficult to hear, “It was stupid of you to leave your car. A jeep can outrun those beasts and they always hunt in pairs, at least.”

Yup… definitely a woman. “It didn’t seem that dangerous. Wyverns can’t breathe fire, so its easier to fight on foot, especially if there’s only one. I didn’t see the second, and I’m usually not caught off guard like that.”

“One stupid move… all it takes.”

“Words of Wisdom.”

“Why did you fight?”

“Instinct I guess.”

“I see…”

The figure stared at him for a moment. To Jagger, it felt like he was in the middle of drill inspection back at WesCon command. Her eyes darted up and down for a moment before she abruptly turned and began walking away.

Jagger called after her, “Wait!”

The figure stopped but did not turn and did not respond. Jagger took a few cautious steps towards it, “I owe you one for helping me. Do you need anything?”

“No.”

“Really? Nothing?”

“No… not unless…”

“Yeah?”

The figure paused for a moment. Jagger waited as she slowly turned around. Her hood was down as though she were looking at her stomach, “I haven’t eaten in a few days…  I could use of some supplies. Do you have any?”

Jagger smiled, “No, but my town is nearby. Hop in, I’m heading for New Framingham. There are plenty of shops there.”

“A… town?”

“Yeah, you’ll be able to find anything you want there.”

“I… I’m not sure…” The figure replied in a nervous whisper. “I don’t typically do well around large groups of people.”

Jagger looked at her oddly, “Well… It’s the only major hub in this part of old New England after Boston and Worcester were destroyed. The survivors moved out here and established a fortified city in the only nearby area with buildings left standing.”

“Boston and Worcester… they were both destroyed?”

Really? How could she not know about this? “Yeah, for almost ten years now, where have you been?”

“Away…”

“Away?”

The robed woman climbed into the jeep and rested her hands on her lap. She turned to watch as Jagger grabbed a saw out of the back, “Yes… I’ve been wandering the country since my grandparents were killed by an elder dragon. I don’t have access to a radio so…”

Her eyes narrowed as Jagger walked over to one of the fallen wyverns, “Wait… what are you doing?”

Jagger looked down at the saw, “I’m going to get their teeth.”

“Why?”

“Dragon teeth are flame-resistant. They can be melted down and used to make armor, weapons, walls… all kinds of different things. They’re worth a fortune if you can get them.”

He placed the saw on the nearest wyvern’s mouth and began to run the blade across its gums. Blood stained his hands as he struggled to make conversation, “So… you’re a nomad?”

“There a better way to live beyond city walls?”

“Not really…” Jagger chuckled as he removed the upper jaw. “Okay… well let’s see, ten years huh?”

“Yeah.”

“All right so I can fill you in on the Red War, but what do you know so far?”

The girl shrugged, “Not much… From what my grandparents told me, the dragons first appeared in New York… After decimating Manhattan, they flew east and were seen weeks later heading towards Siberia. The five of them disappeared for about five years. When they reappeared, there were many… many more of them and they continued to multiply.”

She leaned on the roll bar of the old jeep as Jagger threw the teeth into the back. He then quickly wiped his hands and went to work on the second wyvern, “They were immune to conventional weapons and were too fast for nukes to work… not for a lack of trying… obviously.”

Jagger looked around the barren wasteland that used to be Wellesley, Massachusetts and nodded, “Obviously… is that it?”

“No.” The woman replied stoically. “I heard that countries were toppled by the onslaught of the dragons… Even the U.S. Government retreated. I heard the president’s speech, vowing to return and retake the land lost to the dragons… That was three days before he and his chiefs of staff were all killed. The remaining world leaders set aside their differences and formed into two governing bodies; the Eastern and Western Coalitions. They established regional governors, but the cities and settlements themselves are largely self-governed… That’s all I know.”

Jagger nodded as he removed the second wyvern’s jaw, “Sounds like you’ve heard most of it. The problem was that most weapons couldn’t penetrate a dragon’s scales. Missiles didn’t work, bullets didn’t… some armor piercers did, but they’re rare. Eventually we developed electrostatic shock weapons and super-focused lasers that could burn a hole through them, but by then…

Jagger let out a deep sigh as he spoke,”… by then, it was almost too late. Humanity had been reduced to nearly 2 billion people.”

“You’re losing the war…” The woman said in a whisper.

Jagger grabbed a bottle of water from behind his seat and poured some over his hands. The cool water rinsed away the dragon’s blood and soothed his skin, “Don’t you mean we’re losing?”

“Sure…”

Jagger got behind the wheel of the jeep and started it up. The engine came to life and caused the entire car to vibrate. He pulled back on the break and allowed the car to wheel forward.

The stranger eyed the dash, “Your car’s engine sounds different. They’re usually louder.”

Jagger smiled, “They’re usually falling apart. I spent years working on this one.”

“Impressive.”

Jagger kept his eyes on the road, though he occasionally looked up to make sure that the sky was clear, “By the way, I’m Lieutenant Jagger Bishop, WesCon Security.”

No response.

“What, you don’t have a name?”

“…”

“All right then…”

Jagger couldn’t be certain, but he thought he detect and annoyed sigh before she spoke, “… Raiya if you must know.”

“Raiya, that’s an unusual name.”

“I’m an unusual person.”

Jagger nodded, “Yeah I believe that, just from watching you.”

“Whatever you say.” Raiya said in a disinterested tone.

Jagger released a deep breath as he watched the debris pass, “So… those were some nice moves you pulled back there. You must be pretty jacked to snap the neck of a dragon. That was amazing.”

“It’s not that hard if you know where the joint is.”

“Maybe you could show me?”

“Doubtful, you also have to be really fast…”

“Oh… too bad.”

As the jeep picked up speed, Raiya struggled to keep her hood up. It acted like a sail, catching the wind that blew past her face. As it was pushed back, small flashes of her skin appeared. She grabbed the sides and forced them forward, holding the hood down over her face.

Jagger had his eyes on the road and could only see her out of the corner of his right, but what he saw left him with more questions than answers. Her skin was tanned, but her pigment appeared to have an almost greenish hue to it. The strands of hair he saw looked like it was a dark olive color. Maybe she dyed it somehow? Yeah right, where would she get dye out here? You’re probably just seeing things.

It was a reasonable thought. He never really had great lateral vision. However, as the hood flew back a second time, he quickly glanced over to confirm what he initially saw. His eyes caught sight of the odd complexion of her skin. There was no doubt that something was off with her. Who or what was this girl? Dragon’s Bane? There hasn’t been a confirmed case of it in a few years…

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“I’m fine… why?”

“Your skin… it’s… pale.”

“So what…? It’s just how I look.”

“All right.”


 

Drakin: The Orphans of Haven


Book Synopsis:

The Red War may be over, but not all wounds have healed. For Sergeant Radley Zall, the nightmares never end. After years of struggling for survival, he finds himself in a dead end job, deporting wayward dragons to the Exclusion Zone. The horrors of his past have left him a broken man, slowing killing himself in a bottle of whiskey. It’s a wearying existence that many former soldiers have been subject to since the war ended, but for Radley, that is all about to change. Throughout his life, Radley’s hatred of dragons has been unmatched until one evening when a small one shows up on his doorstep. The pathetic creature is emaciated and begging for shelter. Her appearance reminds him of his younger self, compelling him to help her. That uncharacteristic decision forces him to confront his past actions— some of which may have contributed to a sinister plot to reignite the Red War and wipe out the few remaining dragons on Earth.


Chapter 1

“Let us overcome these obstacles together, in the spirit of what our forefathers, friends, and neighbors fought and died for!”

It was a good speech… too bad that’s all it’ll ever be. I remember the cheers. I remember the savior standing off to the side before she disappeared… It was only ten years ago, but I remember it like I remember my childhood… as a distant memory.

“Radley? Sergeant Radley Zall, are you with me?”

Radley felt a gentle elbow to the midsection, “Sarge, snap out of it!”

He immediately came back to reality and nodded, “Yes, sir. I’m ready, sir!”

A gruff-looking commander eyed him suspiciously, “Are you sure, Sergeant Zall? I mean we can wait. Whatever you’ve got going on is clearly more important than doing your job. No rush, you know? It’s just a dragon after all. It’s not like the men rely on you to back them up.”

Radley felt his face heating up and was sure that it was turning red, “Sorry sir.”

“Are you feeling sick? Do we need to have Sergeant Bosell check you out?”

Radley felt the tension in the back of his neck. When Commander Miles decided to mock someone in his unit, the man would push it as far as he could. The worst part was that it worked. The officers did everything they could to stay on their toes and avoid it.

“No, I’m fine, sir!” Radley replied as he straightened himself out. He could hear a couple of snickers coming from the ten armored men standing with him.

“You sure?” The commander asked.

“Yes, Commander Miles… I’m sure.”

Commander Constantine Miles eyed Radley for a few moments. The younger officer blinked as he waited for the commander to finish. His blue eyes felt dry under his protective goggles. He could feel his brown hair matting to his head under the heavy helmet he wore.

Commander Miles had been his commanding officer since he joined the security division. The man knew him well, too well. He clearly didn’t buy that Radley was all there.

Finally, Commander Miles nodded, “Well… All right, let’s go.”

He flipped on the radio wired into his vest, “Command, this is Security Group Alpha, we’re in position and ready to move in.”

“Copy that, Commander. Proceed with caution. Good hunting.”

The group entered a massive cave that was hidden deep in the Yellowstone Canyon. The cave walls were as black as coal. The stone floor had once been molten rock, flowing outward. This gave the floor an almost organic look.

Radley carefully balanced himself on the terrain that looked like it had been frozen in time and petrified. He planted his legs between to inclines and raised his bolt rifle.

Six of the other officers followed close behind him. One, a younger man jumped up behind Radley “I thought we’d be waiting out here forever. Finally, we can get this over with.”

“You may hope you’d been able to wait even longer, Kevin,” Radley replied as he removed his goggles, revealing the burn over his left eye. “These dragons usually do not want to come willingly. Often they’re protecting a nest.”

“Is it going to attack us?”

“Hard to say. That happens from time to time.”

“Oh boy…”

“Stay close and keep your weapon ready, Rookie. You’ll do fine.”

“Cut the chatter,” Commander Miles called out from the front. “Let’s get in and out as cleanly as possible. We don’t want a repeat of your first time, Sergeant.”

“First time?” Kevin whispered.

“It’s a long story Rookie, and I’m tired of telling it. I’m sure someone will fill you in before too long.”

The group separated into two as they entered the cave. One proceeded left, while the other went right, forming a pincer. Radley led the second group, closely behind Commander Miles’s. Within moments, both groups were cloaked in almost total darkness.

A staticky sound filled his helmet as the groups kept moving. It was quickly replaced by Commander Miles’s voice, “Okay, everyone… lights on, stay sharp, and keep focus! –Command, this is Unit Commander Miles. We have confirmed the location of an illegal dragon roost. We’re moving into position now.”

The sound of the officers’ footprints was quickly replaced by the sound of throaty breathing. The sound resembled the growl of a lion, only deeper. It echoed through the cave like a shockwave rushing to the entrance.

Radley clenched his rifle as they stepped closer to Commander Miles group. He’d seen this situation play out before and it was nothing new. They’d go in, surround the dragon and take him down from either side. If he tried to fly, they’d shock his wings. If he tried to fight, they’d incapacitate him. It had all become perfectly routine.

“Member of the Dragon species, my name is Commander Miles, Western Coalition Internal Security. You are in direct violation of WestCon Provincial Edict 453, stating that no dragon shall roost outside of the designated dragon zones. This is several miles outside of the Exclusion Zone and your designated areas. You are ordered to surrender and submit to processing. Once you have been tagged, you will then be transferred to a designated holding facility for processing. Please understand, we do not wish to harm you and if you surrender peacefully, you’ll be treated with care.”

The low breathing turned into an angry growl, “The Exclusion Zones… you mean the barren wastelands that your people have set aside for us… You mean the lands with minimal food and few ideal places for us to build roosts! Lands that we have to fight cannibalistic humans for. You offer us amnesty and then force us into the worst possible living conditions!”

Miles didn’t appear to be moved, “I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them. We gave you nearly the entire western coast of this hemisphere all the way down to Mexico. Many dragons have found ways to cultivate a living. If you can’t do something with that, it isn’t my problem. Surrender now, and we promise you’ll be treated fairly!”

This isn’t going to end well… Radley thought as he raised his rifle. This dragon is going to escalate!

“Get out of my home!” The dragon roared before a plume of flame shot past the officers, out of the cave.

The cavern walls lit up orange and revealed the large green dragon that was curled up in a small nest. There were no eggs and no sign of a mate, so this was likely a rogue.

Radley’s eyes widened, “Alpha class. Watch it, everyone! This guy is going to be tough!”

Miles dove away from the flame and hit the ground hard as a second plume passed over him, “Light him up! –Command, we’ve got a code 42. Engaging hostiles!”

The orange hue was replaced by momentary white and blue blasts that spread throughout the cavern as the officers let loose with a spray of electrically charged pulses. The loud pops from the guns echoed off the walls creating a deafening cycle

The dragon’s scales glowed as the pulses electrified them. Little beams of blue and white static outlined each scale. The dragon let out an intense scream as it immediately fell to the side. Its body trembled but otherwise did not move.

The moment the dragon’s head hit the ground, the officers gather around it. The sparks slowly died down as the group moved in. Commander Miles stood in front of its snout and turned to the man closest to him, “Get the shackles.”

“Yes, sir!”

As the man went back to the tunnel to fetch the large metallic rings, Commander Miles read the dragon the required statement of rights, “Illegal dragon, you are hereby under arrest. The charges are illegal roosting, desecration of human territory, and resisting relocation efforts.”

The dragon looked menacingly at Miles as it was shackled. The stun bolts had done their job as it was unable to even lift its head. Smoke emanated from its mouth as it spoke, “May you burn for this…”

“Not today,” Commander Miles replied as he switched on his shoulder radio, “Command, mission accomplished. The dragon has been subdued. We’re looking at an Alpha class, so you’re going to want to bring in the heavy hauler.”

“Acknowledged,” replied a staticky voice. “We were starting to worry about you for a moment. Good work.”

Commander Miles nodded, “Sergeant Radley, let’s get cleaned up here.”

Radley sighed as he turned to his group, “All right men, we’re done here. Let’s head back to the entrance.”

The rookie officer’s eyes focused on the dragon. He remained still as the others moved towards the exit. He was like a statue, frozen in place as though forever contemplating the universe around him.

Radley stopped in front of him as the rest of the group continued, “Hey Rookie, you okay?”

“It’s… it’s not what I expected at all,” Kevin replied.

“What do you mean?”

Kevin beckoned to the dragon’s eyes, “Look at it… I always thought they were giant killing feral machines, acting on instinct like a shark. Now… they actually…”

“You’ve never been up close to one of them, have you?”

“No, I mean I’ve seen pictures and all, but they always flew overhead or were at a distance.”

Radley nodded that he understood, “Right, that’s how it always is. It’s easy to take them down when they just look like mindless killing machines, but when you see them and see the life and intelligence in their eyes, all that changes. Still… it’ll pass and you’ll see them for what they really are again.”

“Really are? You mean…”

At that moment, the dragon came to life and snapped at them, “Inanimate killing machines? We are living creatures, just like you! We think and we feel things. All we want now is peace!”

Radley ignored the dragon’s words. He turned calmly and gave Kevin a gentle push, “Come on Rookie, let’s get out of here so that the relocation team can get in and do their jobs.”

“All right…”

“You can’t ignore us forever!” The dragon roared. “Someday you will pay for what you’re doing here!”

“We already did,” Radley shot back, “5.5 billion times over.”

Outside, Radley closed his eyes and sucked in a breath of fresh air. For years, the air had been badly polluted from dragon flame and an extreme reduction in plant life. When the war ended, the coalitions put their combined science teams into creating massive air filters that were placed all over the world. They would clean the air until new plant life could take over. Is this what fresh air is like? It doesn’t smell like burnt wood or like something’s being cooked… it’s actually kind of nice.

“Good job in there, Sergeant Zall! For a moment, I thought we’d lost you,” Commander Miles said in a light tone.

“Sorry sir, I just… I was thinking about everything that’s happened since the dragon horde left Earth.”

“You certainly chose an interesting time to become reflective,” The commander chuckled.

“Sorry sir, it won’t happen again.”

“That’s fine. You’ve been at this longer than most, a little backward thinking is normal every now and again. Just try to save it until we’re in a little safer circumstance.”

“Yes, sir.”

Commander miles nodded, “Good. –How about you Kevin, you were all excited about getting to see some action, this everything you thought it’d be?”

Kevin frowned, “No sir…”

“No?” The commander asked, surprised.

“I joined the force to help fight canbans and raiders… I didn’t want to be assigned to the dragon core. This was kind dropped on me by command due to a lack of volunteers.”

Commander Miles nodded, “I understand, it’s not the most appealing work. Sometimes I wonder if the danger is even worth it, but it’s work that needs to be done.”

“Does it?” Kevin asked. “Do we really need to hunt down these dragons? Is it really necessary to force them to live in sectors that are cordoned off from the rest of the world? I’ve heard stories…”

Radley scoffed. His lips twisted into a menacing grimace. He’d heard people talk about dragon rights before and it always got him heated, “Have you forgotten the war that literally just ended ten years ago or how many people they wiped out?”

“No, I haven’t,” Kevin replied sternly. “But those dragons are gone. We built ships for them and they left as quickly as possible. It’s been years since then. These dragons didn’t want to fight anymore and requested amnesty, which we granted them.”

Commander Miles nodded, “Yeah and when the new government came to power, they enacted policies to protect dragons and humans. There’s still a lot of bitterness between dragons and humans, and rightly so. This is as much for the dragons’ good as it is our own.”

“You sure about that?” Kevin asked. “I mean…”

Kevin’s eyes darted between Radley and the other men. He quickly shrank back a little, “I’m sorry sir, never mind.”

“Speak your mind, Rookie,” Commander Miles said. “Tomorrow’s too late.”

“Sir, the dragons have done everything we asked them to right up until they were segregated. It was only after we pretty much banished them to the Mojave Wastelands that they began to try to find roosts elsewhere. I’ve heard of what life is like there; it’s hot, nothing grows, and finding food is difficult.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that… maybe we’re part of the problem?”

“You think humans are part of the problem…?” Radley asked in a state of disbelief. “They came here uninvited, attempted to steal our world and wipe out our entire population. After they lost the war, we did what they asked and built them a ship to get back to their own world. We should never have allowed some of them to stay here, but we put aside our differences and allowed the ones that wanted peace. Now they’re hiding outside the designated area. They should have been a lot more grateful than that!”

“But maybe if we didn’t segregate them and allowed them to interact with humans, this wouldn’t be a problem,” Kevin shot back. “We want peace, yet we continuously take rights away from others, breeding hate and resentment! How does that make us any better than them?”

Radley clenched his teeth as he ripped his helmet off and brushed back his brown hair. His cheeks felt like they were on fire as the hair on the back of his neck bristled. He had to hold himself back from striking Kevin across the face, “Watch it, Rookie! You were only old enough to experience the ass end of the war. Watch a dragon torch a shelter for children and mock them as they burned… then we’ll talk!”

Kevin fell silent and lowered his eyes. Commander Miles stepped between them and spoke with a stern voice, “That’s enough, both of you.”

Radley nodded and stepped back, “Yes, sir… Sorry, sir.”

He flashed Kevin an angry look. It was momentary so that Commander Miles wouldn’t see it, but Kevin clearly got the message. The rookie lowered his eyes and bit down on his lower lip. Neither one of them said anything else.

Commander Miles turned and began to walk back to the other group, “Radley, head back to the carrier. The relocation team should be here any minute. It’s just about time for us to go home. You look like you could use some rest. –Kevin, I want you to wait here and go with the extraction team. This will be good practice for you.”

“Yes, sir.”


I hope everyone is as excited for this one as I am! I can’t wait to introduce you to a new world of dragons!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

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Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

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Note:
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Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 5, Chapter 3

III

 

There was a loud splash and suddenly the world came back into view. Their boat was only a few feet away from the entrance to the cave. Papi and Baltazar rowed the boat back out into open water. Where, to their misfortune, the galleass was waiting.

The Le Terrible’s captain had apparently seen them go into the cave and hidden his ship off to the side in an effort to ambush them when they returned. Baltazar could see a group of men tied up on the deck. He also saw Jaspart standing next to the captain with a malicious grin. It looked like they were the only survivors from the Black Vengeance.

The guns on the Le Terrible let loose a horrible barrage. Large plumes of water formed around the boat as the shots got closer and closer. One hit from their cannons would destroy the boat and kill everyone onboard.

Baltazar turned to Papi, “Come on, get us back into the cave!”

Papi nodded as they rowed. They got within a twenty feet of the cave when a cannonball hit the rocky cliff over them. Rubble poured down next to their boat as they tried to avoid getting hit. One large piece came down right next to Baltazar, cutting up his hand and shattering his oar. Baltazar looked at his friends and shook his head.

Without saying a word, he pulled the pistol from his belt, loaded it with a double charge of powder, took aim at the Le Terrible with his good hand, crossed himself with a silent prayer, and fired the shot. The musket ball flew through the air toward the forecastle of the Le Terrible.

The captain was standing between two gunners and Jaspart as they prepared to fire another round. He was barking out orders until he suddenly fell backwards with a large hole in his chest. This startled Jaspart as he did not think that they were close enough for these ruffians to do them any harm.

Jaspart sneered, “I’m taking command here. Lower the elevation, and pepper them with fire!”

The first mate approached him, “Monsieur, you are not a naval officer, what right do you have to claim command.”

Jaspart pulled a sword from his belt and pointed it at the mate, “If you dare challenge me for command, draw your sword.”

Nervous, the mate stepped back and nodded to the gunners, who promptly lowered the cannons.

Aralyn saw how badly the hand of her love had been damaged. She admired his bravery even if it was a futile effort. Papi looked like he was certain that he was about to die, and Lailah had a look of failure on her face. It was more than Aralyn could stand. She turned, stood up in the boat, and glared into Jaspart’s eyes as he readied their guns, “Stop!”

Jaspart raised his hand as he returned her gaze, “Kill them all… fire!”

The ship disappeared behind a cloud of smoke as all the weapons the ship could bring to bear fired. Aralyn clenched her jaw, “You bastard, no!”

Her insides suddenly felt like a volcano about to erupt and she began to shake violently. Baltazar tried to grab her, but an unseen force prevented him from touching her. Her eyes flashed white and began glowing like a pair of bright stars, just as they had previously.

Once again, the Le Terrible opened fire. Baltazar closed his eyes, expecting the worst. Aralyn thrust her hands forward and screamed just as the cannons fired, “I said, stop!”

A white spectral wall appeared in front of her. The projectiles hit it and turned to dust. Aralyn clenched her teeth together as a harsh breeze from the cannon fire passed through her hair. Baltazar opened his eyes to see Aralyn struggling to stand her ground. He tried again to reach her, but still there was an unseen force blocking his path.

In a panic, Jaspart left the forecastle and ran to the main gun deck, “All guns, fire everything, now!”

As the Le Terrible unleashed its second barrage, the spectral wall began to flicker. Aralyn’s eyes glowed even more fiercely then before as the wall collapsed. A horrified look could be seen on the faces of every man aboard the galleass. The first officer hesitated for a moment before ordering his crews to reload and prepare to fire.

Aralyn brought her hands up to her face while her eyes remained locked on the ship. Her fingers began to vibrate and glow the same colors as her eyes. She screamed as her hands once again thrust forward. This time, instead of a wall, her hands unleashed a massive beam of light. Everyone else on the boat was knocked backward by the force of her power. The beams sliced through the air and struck the forecastle of the Le Terrible.

The entire forward section of the ship burst into flame and splinters, killing all five men standing there. The beam slowly faded, but the glow on her hands got stronger and spread to the rest of her body. The light was almost blinding.

Jaspart’s eyes darted back and forth, desperate to end this quickly, “Come on boys, reload those guns or it will be the death of you!”

Aralyn bent her knees and balled herself up for a moment as the glow began to pulse. A second later she shot up and straightened herself out, causing her skin to glow even brighter. She let out a high-pitched, blood-curdling, scream as her body glowed even brighter and a massive beam of white light shot straight up into the sky.

Baltazar could no longer even make out his love in the light. He called to the other side of the boat, “Lailah, what is going on?”

“Her powers,” Lailah replied, “they’ve being lying dormant for so long that something like this was bound to happen… I just didn’t know she was this powerful! This might not be a good thing…”

“What?” Papi demanded. “What do you mean?”

Lailah looked at her, worried, “If her powers overwhelm her and she can’t regain control of them, she could destroy herself… and everything in the area.”

Before anyone could reply, a pulse shot up the beam of light. Suddenly, the water off what was left of the starboard bow of the Le Terrible began to bubble and churn where the remaining planks and debris from the battle were still floating. A huge plume of water shot high into the air and then dropped like a massive curtain. To everyone’s amazement, the Black Vengeance emerged from the falling water. There was no sign of the damage from the Le Terrible at all.

Baltazar smiled when he saw his ship. His joy was interrupted when an unearthly voice emanated from the light, “No more!”

**

In France, the damage to Mont Saint Michel slowly became undone and the abbey was restored to its original splendor. The bodies of those who were being gathered up for burial suddenly came back to life as though nothing had happened.

In Venice, the Patrisi house began to repair itself. The rubble began to form back into the foundation of the old house. The ashes turned back into wood and a moment later, the house was once again standing. The shipwreck on the rocks of the harbor also pulled itself back together and moved itself back to the dock. A large crowd of locals looked on in shock as the house that had been destroyed almost two decades ago, stood once again.

**

Once Aralyn’s work was done, the beam of light began to fade until all that was left was the large orb in the middle of the longboat. The crew of the French warship scrambled to load their cannons as they also fought the fires coming from what was left of the forecastle. None of them knew what was going on, but they could sense that they were in great danger.

Jaspart’s breathing became more rapid as he realized that they now had to worry about two targets, the ship that they had already sunk, and this powerful demonic creature near the cave entrance. He turned to the crew on the port side of the ship, “Guns at the ready, we’re going to need them. Do it you dogs!”

Baltazar got to his feet again and fought hard to try to get through the light to Aralyn, but Lailah put her hand up, “Baltazar, stop, you’ll only hurt yourself.”

At that moment, the orb faded and left Aralyn crouched in the middle of the boat. As she stood up, large white wings appeared on her back and spread as far as they could. Baltazar’s eyes widened, “Aralyn you… you’re…”

“An angel.” Lailah replied with a satisfied smile. “It’s about time too.”

“But how?” Aralyn asked. “I was born of human parents.”

A sudden shout from the Le Terrible prevented Lailah from answering. Jaspart’s men had successfully reloaded the cannons in record time and were preparing fire another broadside. Aralyn had a worried look on her face. She knew that she wasn’t strong enough to defend them against another attack. Her powers were still manifesting themselves and she didn’t have full control over them.

As the cannons were pushed forward, she knew that she had to try. The fate of the world may be resting on her survival. There was no other choice.

The first mate aboard the French warship signaled to Jaspart, “Ready to fire!”

Jaspart nodded and raised his hand, relishing the moment as, with any luck, he would now see the end of Captain La Fuente, “Goodbye, old friend.”

Aralyn stood ready to try one last time to raise the spectral wall, when all of a sudden, each of the galleass’s cannons exploded. Miraculously, no one on the ship was wounded, but their main armaments had been completely destroyed.

Overhead, there was a loud boom and the clouds parted. Three large orbs shot down through the mist and hovered a few feet over the deck of the Le Terrible. They were as bright as Aralyn had been just a few moments ago.

Jaspart looked on as the crew scattered, grabbing muskets, swords, and anything else they could use as weapons. A few of the more startled men opened fire on the orbs, but the musket balls shattered as they struck the pulsing lights.

As the Le Terrible’s crew reloaded, the orbs began to fade, leaving three winged women in their place. Two of them had four glowing red wings on their backs while the one in the middle had a single pair of white ones that shimmered gold as they flapped in the breeze. Lailah’s eyes widened when she saw them.

Papi looked at the angels oddly and turned to Lailah, “Lailah, do you know them? They are unlike any angel I’ve ever read about.”

Lailah nodded and smiled happily, “Yes, I know them very well. The two on the sides are seraphs. They are more powerful than the average angel. The one in the middle… she’s an archangel, one of our strongest.”

The archangel glared at the Le Terrible’s crew as she brushed a strand of her long black hair from her face, “By the eternal grace of the Most High, the next man here who makes an aggressive move will meet his maker a lot sooner than expected.”

Jaspart clenched his jaw and began to growl. His eyes turned a bright red and his face darkened. He spoke in a deep, inhuman, voice that was not his own, “You…”

The archangel looked at him in surprised, “Legion… so you’re here too…”

Jaspart smiled and thrust his hand forward. Black smog shot out of his fingertips and struck the archangel’s arm. She cradled her limb and looked down as the wound quickly disappeared. Once it was gone, she turned her gaze back to Jaspart and smiled, “Not this time, Legion. I’m far more powerful than when last we met!”

The archangel thrust her hand forward, “Begone!”

Beams of lightning shot from her palm and struck Jaspart, disintegrating him instantly. Jaspart screamed in agony as his body turned to ash and blew away in the wind.

Once he was gone, the archangel let out a sigh and turned to the remaining crew of the Le Terrible, “Do you wish to meet your end as well?”

The first officer stepped forward and dropped to his knees, “Forgive us, blessed angels… we didn’t know… We were following our orders!”

She frowned and shook her head, “That excuse is used to justify too many crimes. The Most High commands you to cease your pursuit of these people immediately.”

A shocked look came over the first officer’s face, “Am I to understand that the Most High is condoning acts of wanton destruction and murder, committed by these pirates? They ransacked an abbey filled with the lord God’s servants! Are we to just forget about that?”

“Do you think we haven’t been watching?” She fired back. “Do you think we don’t know what has happened here? Mont Saint Michel was destroyed by the very demonic force you were using as a guide! These pirates, as you call them, were the first on the scene, and the only ones to render any sort of aid. Had you bothered focusing on the preservation of life instead of seeking revenge, you might have noticed that.”

The first officer lowered his eyes, “Forgive us, blessed angel. We are God’s humble servants… we will do as commanded.”

“That’s better.” She repied with a satasfied grin. “The lord Most High demands the release of the people you have captured. Once that is done, you are to return to France, and I promise you, you will be brought to judgment for you crimes.”

The first officer sighed, “As you wish blessed angel…”

Without another word to the Frenchmen, the angel turned back to her comrades. “Ariel, secure the release of the prisoners and see to it they get back to their ship.”

Ariel nodded and snapped her fingers. The shackles on the crewmen’s arms and legs shattered in response. As she went to work, the archangel spoke to the other seraphim, “Roselyn, tend to the longboat, get them back aboard their ship, and tend to anyone there who may need help.”

Roselyn looked over at the boat. Seeing Aralyn standing there, staring at them, she smiled, “Understood, General.”

Ariel approached the captured crewmen, “Is everyone okay? Are there any injured.”

At first, no one spoke. The crew was mesmerized by the beauty of this creature standing in front of them. Her skin had an aura of gold and her eyes were piercing as though when she looked at them, she peered into their souls.

Gilles appeared from behind the group, “We’re okay, but we’ve lost a lot of people.”

Ariel nodded, “You needn’t worry, it is being dealt with.”

She turned to the first officer of the Le Terrible, who was standing off to the side with his own men, “Lower a longboat for these men, and be quick about it.”

He nodded, “As you wish.”

The French crew quickly did as were told and had a longboat ready to go in record time. Ariel helped get the crew of the Black Vengeance into the boat, attached a rope to the bow, and once everyone was onboard, towed it over to their ship.

Roselyn hovered over to the small group near the cave’s entrance. Her long brown hair flowed behind her as she moved and, like Ariel, her skin had a golden aura. She first turned to Baltazar, “Give me your hand.”

Baltazar stood up, looked at his wounded hand, and then back at Roselyn. She nodded, “It’s okay, trust me.”

He put out his hand, covered in blood. She placed her own hand over it and caressed it gently. There was a momentary sting, but when she let go, his hand was totally healed.

Baltazar looked it over in amazement, “Thank you…”

Roselyn nodded as she turned to face Aralyn. The two regarded each other for a few moments before Roselyn spoke, “You look so much like her, it’s almost hard to believe that you’re not. “

“You know Adaline?” Aralyn asked.

Roselyn smiled, “Very well. She is amongst my closest friends. My name is Roselyn, I looked at her as a sister, and I know she is very proud of you.”

Aralyn lowered her eyes with an appreciative smile as Roselyn turned to Lailah, “It has been a while, old friend.”

Lailah looked at her sternly, “Longer for me having been confined to a cave for over ten years.”

“I’m sorry, Lailah,” Roselyn replied, “but your injuries made you difficult to locate. Many of us thought Legion had killed you.”

“No need to apologize,” Lailah said with a smile, “I understand.”

Roselyn placed her hand on Lailah’s chest and closed her eyes. A bright aura surrounded Lailah for a few moments. It pulsed and then faded, leaving behind a fully healed angel. The group looked in awe as once again, Lailah had been restored to her original form, this time permanently.

Once her work was done, Roselyn nodded, “Alright, let’s get you back to your ship.”

The longboat looked as though it was ready to sink, so Roselyn put her hand out to Papi. He looked at her for a moment hesitantly before taking it and being lifted into the air. Papi gasped as he was lifted high of the boat.

Roselyn smiled, “Don’t be alarmed. I won’t let you fall.”

Papi calmed down a little as he looked around, “Lead on, angel.”

Lailah turned to Aralyn, nodded, and took to the air following Roselyn back to the ship. Aralyn looked over at Baltazar with an apologetic expression, “My love, I don’t know what to say. I know this isn’t what you expected. I can’t say I saw it coming either.”

Baltazar stared at her for a few moments, unable to speak. Her eyes now glowed brighter than ever and her white wings added a majestic appeal to her appearance. Other than that, she was still the same person. When he didn’t say anything, tears began to form in her eyes, “I’ll understand if this is more then you can take. I won’t blame you if you decide to take your ship and sail away.”

Baltazar let out a deep sigh as he put his right hand to her cheek, “You are so beautiful… I should have expected something like this. You were always so different from any other woman I’ve ever met. I was drawn to you in ways I couldn’t even understand. It all makes sense now, only an angel could have accomplished such a feat.”

Aralyn gasped as Baltazar’s touch electrified her skin. She placed her hands against his and smiled, “I love you. Neither wings, nor will any celestial army ever change that.”

Baltazar smiled, “And I you… once all of this is over… if you are willing… perhaps we could… ”

“What?” Aralyn asked.

Baltazar lowered his eyes, “Perhaps consider a more permanent relationship?”

“Yes.” Aralyn replied as her heart raced. “Once this is all over, we can definitely try.”

Baltazar grabbed Aralyn and hugged her tightly. She tried to make the moment last as long as possible, but the boat was about to sink out from under them, and they needed to move. Still in the tight embrace, Aralyn quickly reached one hand under Baltazar’s legs and picked him up. Her wings spread and she pushed off as hard as she could.

This surprise startled Baltazar, “Hey wait a minute, what are you doing?”

Before Baltazar knew what was happening, they were airborne. Aralyn flapped her wings and gained altitude quickly as the longboat disappeared below the waves. She pushed her wings with hard thrusts against the wind and climbed even higher into the clouds.

Baltazar looked down and gripped her tightly. Aralyn could sense his nervousness, “Don’t tell me the legendary Captain La Fuente is afraid of heights?”

Baltazar shook his head, “The legendary Captain La Fuente has never flown before! The highest I’ve ever been into the sky is about 4 mast-lengths lower than this, and no I don’t have a fear of heights, just falling from them.”

“Can I tell you a secret?” Aralyn asked with a devious look. “I’ve never flown before either!”

Baltazar nodded, “I know, that’s what troubles me.”

She soared through a cloud, feeling the moisture on her skin, and began to descend towards the Black Vengeance. The ship’s red sails came into view as Aralyn flew lower. Finally, she circled around and touched down on the deck of the ship. The crew applauded and cheered as the two came into view.

Gilles and Morgan stood in front of them. Baltazar turned and hugged them, “Men… you’re alive?”

“Aye,” Morgan replied, “I was certain I had died when the ship went down, but your friends here pulled me back.”

Baltazar had tears in his eyes as he turned to look at his crew. They had all been rescued or revived and were awaiting his orders. Baltazar nodded, “Men, I don’t know what to say… words cannot begin to express my joy to see you all alive and well.”

The men’s cheering got even louder. Aralyn noticed Lailah, Ariel, and Roselyn standing off to the side, both smiling. Off in the distance, the Le Terrible had come about and was heading back to port.

Aralyn noticed what looked like a large bird leave the deck and fly towards them. It let out a shrill cry as it gained altitude. Once it neared the ship, the creature’s features came into view. It was the archangel that had appeared with the two seraphs aboard the Le Terrible. She gracefully flew towards them and touched down on the deck, landing on her left knee.

As her foot touched the deck, she stood up and smiled at Aralyn, “You have done very well. We were worried that you wouldn’t realize your powers or even be able to come to terms with them when you did.”

Aralyn nodded, “I had help… miss…”

“Xaphine Lorenzi,” the archangel replied with a smile, “General Xaphine Lorenzi of the Most High’s Choirs of Angels.”

Aralyn’s eyes narrowed, “I know angels have rather unearthly names; Gabriel, Lailah, Ariel, Roselyn, and Adaline… but Xaphine Lorenzi… that sounds like a human name.”

Xaphine frowned and twisted her lips as though she was nervous, “It would take too long to explain.”

Papi stepped forward, “Forgive me, milady, but I have read about the greatness of the archangels… I have never heard of you.”

“Does the name Xaphan sound familiar?” She asked as she turned to him.

Aralyn gasped, “You… you’re the traitor! How do you now claim the title of general?”

Xaphine lowered her eyes as Roselyn stepped forward, “After Michael was defeated, we were left leaderless. Xaphan was the most skilled leader next to Michael, but she was a revolutionary. However, she later realized the error of her ways, changed her name, and fought to protect one of the Most High’s children by sacrificing herself. She was that man’s…”

“Roselyn, that’s enough.” Xaphine interrupted. “I’ll be happy to explain all of this at a later time. Right now, all I can say is that I spent a long time repenting for my crimes, was forgiven, and have spent the years since in the service to the Most High. He saw fit to make me his general and I have served with honor ever since. Does that quell your fears?”

Aralyn nodded, “I apologize for the outburst, I didn’t hear that much of your story.”

“You were curious.” Xaphine replied. “An apology isn’t necessary. There is no dishonor in asking questions.”

Baltazar stepped forward, “What about Jaspart?”

Xaphine smiled, “That fiend will not bother you again.”

“That’s a relief.” Baltazar said as his voice relaxed. “So I take it now you’re here to help us in this fight?”

“We’re not staying.” Ariel replied. “We need to get back in order to rally the rest of our forces.”

“Might not be a bad idea.” Baltazar replied. “Besides, we’ve got Aralyn and Lailah with us. That should be enough to deal with any situation that arises.”

Xaphine nodded, “And they will remain with you for the time being, until this crisis has passed.”

Xaphine’s words sent a chill down Baltazar’s spine. What did she mean, ‘for the time being?’ Was he going to lose Aralyn at some point? Or was she just referring to Lailah? For the first time ever, Baltazar was too afraid to open his mouth. Instead he shrugged and put it aside for the time being, “Where are we go to now?”

Xaphine shook her head, “We… don’t know. Legion hasn’t been easy to track. Since he gained enough power to shatter the seal I placed on the entrance to the underworld, he’s been running amuck like he did in ancient times.”

“What are we supposed to do?” Baltazar asked. “We have no idea where he is or where is going to be.”

“But we know where he’s been.” Xaphine added. “Legion and I have a… connection. I was the angel who entered his cave… and I was the one he stole enough power from to begin manifesting his own. Since then, I’ve been periodically able to detect his movements. It would appear that he has taken a liking to his old dwelling and has returned to the east. He appears to be trying to suck as much of his old power out of the region as possible.”

Baltazar did not like this idea at all, “Where are we supposed to go?”

“Tyre.” Xaphine replied. “Proceed far east, Lailah will guide you.”

Morgan stepped forward, “General… with all due respect…”

Xaphine nodded, “Please speak your mind, we are all friends here.”

“And most welcome,” Morgan replied with a nod, “but one don’t simply sail to Tyre. The land be the possession of the Ottomans. Matters be even worse, there be corsair ships in that area that would love to pick us off.”

Lailah stepped forward, “That’s why you have us. Aralyn and I are here to help you. Preferably, the Most High would rather us be involved as little as possible and try to keep out of sight, for obvious reasons. That said, if a problem arises that is beyond your ability to handle, then we can intervene.”

“Unacceptable,” Aralyn shot back, “these men are my family, my friends… I won’t stand by and let them fight my battles for me until they’re overwhelmed. I fight side by side with them, as I always have.”

“Aralyn,” Xaphine responded, “you are too important to our cause, it’s a risk…”

“I fight side by side with them, as I always have.” She repeated in an extremely stern tone. “You are going to have to deal with that.  These people mean more to me than the rest of the world put together.”

Xaphine crossed her arms, “Such insolence…”

Roselyn smiled, “Yes, but I remember a certain soldier being the same way a long time ago.”

Xaphine glared at Roselyn for a moment. Her angry stare quickly turned into a relaxed smile. Finally she turned back to Aralyn with a sigh, “You know, you are as headstrong as your ancestor, my sister, and I remember it got her into a lot of trouble.”

Aralyn’s expression didn’t change as Xaphine’s smile widened, “Almost as much trouble as I got in when I recklessly followed a revolutionary… I don’t agree with this in the least, but if your personal honor will be satisfied, then stand by this… family of yours.”

Aralyn nodded, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Xaphine replied with a smile, “just remember that the next time you decide to be insubordinate.”

Aralyn smiled, “I will try.”

Xaphine turned to the rest of the ship, “Do your best as you have been. Protect your adopted family member and we will win the day. I promise you that your efforts will not be forgotten.”

She then turned and beckoned to Ariel and Roselyn, “Come, let us depart.”

Ariel and Roselyn stepped forward as the three of them turned back into white orbs. As they began to ascend into the heavens, Ariel called back, “Remember, we will be watching you so do not fear.”



Readers,

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-Jim