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

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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

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 5, Chapter 4

IV

 

Two days passed as the Black Vengeance sailed due east. Much to the relief of the crew, there was no sign of any corsairs throughout their voyage into the region. Baltazar hadn’t spoken much to Aralyn since Xaphine left the ship. He really didn’t know what to say. On one hand, he had just pledged his love to this woman, which was something he never saw himself doing, and  now that might be mired by the fact that the Choirs seemed to have other plans for her. His heart ached with the realization that he might lose her.

Baltazar’s silence was beginning to annoy Aralyn. She could tell that something was wrong, but as far as she knew, she did not possess the ability to read minds. Instead she waited for the ideal moment to confront him. Her chance didn’t come until later that evening when he was sitting against the mast in the middle of the forecastle. He appeared to be deep in thought, but was not busy.

Aralyn marched up to him and sat down with a serious expression on her face, “All right, I’m tired of this. Out with it.”

“Excuse me?” Baltazar replied.

“Have I have hurt or offended you in some way?” Aralyn asked sincerely. “If so, I can’t make amends without knowing what I did. Please, let’s talk.”

Baltazar didn’t look at her, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Liar,” Aralyn said accusingly, “you have been avoiding me as much as possible and I want to know why. Less than two days ago you asked me something very personal. All I could draw from what you said is that you want to be with me, love me, but now you’re barely even talking to me.”

Baltazar brushed his trimmed mustache with his fingers, in an attempt to straighten it, “I have a feeling our time together may be limited.”

“What do you mean?” Aralyn demanded with a worried look.

“Xaphine said you were staying here until the mission was complete,” he explained.

Aralyn shrugged, “Yes so?”

“So,” Baltazar replied, “I don’t think she intends for you to be able to live out your days here when all is said and done. Something tells me that those wings are permanant and Xaphine wants you to go with them.”

Aralyn’s eyes widened, “Lord, I hadn’t thought of that…”

She shook her head and touched Baltazar’s chin so that he was looking at her, “Look, I don’t care what Xaphine or Ariel or even Lailah says. I swore no oath to anyone and I didn’t ask for any of this.”

“I’m not sure any angel ever did.” Baltazar replied.

“No, probably not,” Aralyn admitted as she stroked the feathers on her left wing, “What I do know is that an ancestor of mine had a similar situation, and I’m sure at some point, someone tried to pull her away from the one she loved, but it obviously worked out because…”

Aralyn opened her arms to him as though presenting herself for inspection, “Well here I am. Baltazar, do you love me? Do you want me here with you?”

“Of course I do,” Baltazar replied, “I’ve spent my life as a rogue and until I met you, I was satisfied with that. I loved being the drunken rascal, infamous throughout the land… I was a regular folk hero, but when you came into my life, all that changed. We’ve only known each other a short time but… I love you, truly I do.”

Aralyn’s eyes looked like they were about to start gushing tears. She smiled as she bit her lower lip and released it, “Then I’m not going anywhere, and no one can force me.”

“I hope you’re right,” he replied, “after all of this, it just seems cruel for them to rip you away from me.”

Aralyn smiled as she relaxed next to him. Baltazar quickly fell asleep while watching the stars. Aralyn tried to do the same, but realized she couldn’t. Baltazar’s concerns were legitimate reason to worry.

Once she was certain that Baltazar was fast asleep, she stood up and went to the railing. Tears had formed in her eyes and her heart felt heavy, “Why does all of this have to happen to me? I finallly found what I’ve been searching for, and now I’m expected to give it up? What did I do to deserve this?”

“Nothing,” replied a voice from behind her.

Startled, Aralyn turned around quickly to see who had spoken, but no one was there. Aralyn was positive she’d heard someone, “Who’s there? Show yourself now!”

No response came. Aralyn turned back around and the voice appeared behind her again, “You did nothing to deserve this.”

Aralyn pulled out a small knife and turned back around, intent on stabbing whoever was taunting her. To her horror, a ghostly reflection of herself was standing there. It looked down at the knife and smiled, “What were you planning on doing exactly?”

Aralyn’s jaw hung open as she tried to find the words to respond. When none came, the ghost stepped forward into the blade, “Were you going to stab me? That’s not an easy thing to do with someone who is already dead.”

“Who are you,” Aralyn asked suspiciously, “what are you here?”

“I would think it would be obvious by now.” The ghost replied. “My name is Adaline… I am your great-great-grandmother.”

Aralyn leaned back, surprised, “You… I was told I resembled you, but I never thought we would be this close to identical.”

Adaline watched as Aralyn began to circle her, inspecting her ancestor, “It’s only natural. I am a part of you, as you are me.”

Her words stopped Aralyn in her tracks, “What does that even mean?”

“Think about it,” Adaline replied, “You spent your entire life at an abbey, yet you are a quick wit, intelligent, and act as though you’ve lived on the street or on ships all your life. Why do you think that is?”

“I… I spent a lot of time reading,” she replied, “and Sister Mary taught me how to defend myself. I may have lived behind abbey walls, but I was prepared. Sister Mary saw to that.”

“And she did a good job of it,” Adaline added, “but all the training in the world would not prepare you as well as real life experience would. When I realized that you would be locked away for most of your young life, I gave you my experiences… I gave you the defense mechanisms and smarts to survive.”

Aralyn lowered the knife, “How…?”

“It would take too long to explain.” Adaline replied. “Let’s just say it’s easy to alter the mind of a child that has not yet been born. They haven’t developed any memories or personality traits of their own yet.”

Aralyn put a hand to her head, “Why… why would you do that…?”

“What’s wrong?” Adaline asked with a worried look on her face.

“What you are telling me…” She replied softly. “It… it isn’t an easy thing to accept. You’re telling me that who I am has been… engineered in some way? That even my personality isn’t mine? You’ve robbed me of everything that makes me who I am in favor of who you were?”

Adaline shrugged, “I wouldn’t go that far…”

“But it is the truth,” Aralyn insisted in an accusing tone, “I… I’m just a construct. I am what you wanted me to be, not who I grew up to be.”

“It was necessary, Aralyn.” Adaline replied. “If we cannot defeat Legion… the price may have been all of existence. The soul of one would have been a small price to pay. At least that’s what the Choirs decided.”

Aralyn sneered, “Such is the price of victory, is it? At what price does the cost of winning become too much? My family and friends have all suffered and died because it was necessary. How long do we continue to justify our actions as the greater good?”

Aralyn turned and walked toward the cabin, “Leave me, I have nothing more to say to you. I’ve heard more than I ever wanted to.”

Adaline reached out to her, “But Aralyn…”

“Enough!” She shouted. “One more word from you and I will seriously consider taking one of our swords and cutting off these infernal wings! See what chance we have for victory then!”

Adaline took a step back, “You can’t mean that…”

“I do,” Aralyn replied, “and given what you’ve done to me, you should know how serious I am. Now leave me alone.”

Adaline nodded as she backed away. Aralyn turned away and slammed the door. Once she was out of sight, Adaline smiled and her eyes turned bright red, “Brash Aralyn… too brash…” Adaline sneered as her voice got deeper, “You impressively strong, but not nearly strong enough.”

The ghost immediately burst into a cloud of black smog and vanished with a malicious laugh. Within seconds, it was as though she’d never been there at all.



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 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,

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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 5, Chapter 2

II

 

Aralyn eventually regained consciousness as the boat drifted through the cave. At first, they looked in awe at the massive stalactites hanging down from the ceiling, carved over thousands of years. As they went deeper, the light from the entrance began to disappear.

Baltazar lit two torches that he had brought with him and placed one on the stern of the boat in a slot designed to hold them and handed the other to Lailah to do that same at the bow. The torches illuminated the cave even after the light from the entrance was gone.

Papi had done all he could for Aralyn and sat back as she began to stir, “I sincerely hope little Messy will get through this… It’s beyond cruel how much she’s lost.”

Lailah nodded, “You two may be all she has left in this world. Like it or not, you now are both essential to our success. So you must both remember not to take any unnecessary risks with your lives, no matter how small. She needs you both.”

Baltazar moved to the stern and cradled Aralyn. She rested her head in his lap and gripped his arm, “Baltazar… I’m so sorry…”

“For what?” He asked. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Your ship,” she replied, “your crew… I’ve taken your very way of life away from you. Everyone died because I didn’t want to live at the abbey anymore. It’s my fault. I would not blame you if you hated me for it.”

“Hate you?” Baltazar yelled out. “How could you even say that? I don’t hate you.”

“I cost you everything.” She replied.

“No you didn’t.” Baltazar insisted. “My crew followed me of their own free will, and I made the decision to help you. No one was forced into doing anything.”

“I agree,” Papi added, “I’ve been with this crew a very long time. They don’t do anything that they don’t think is in their best interests, yet here they were helping you. I doubt any of them regretted it.”

Aralyn nodded, “I… I hope you are right, but I have a feeling that they’d disagree.”

The boat continued to move until it got to a cavern that was so dark, not even the torches could penetrate the blackness. Suddenly, the group realized why. The cave became a downward slope. As the boat hit the edge, it began to pick up speed.

Lailah grabbed on to the bow, “Everyone hold on, this is going to be a bumpy ride!”

The group grabbed on to the sides of the boat, all except Aralyn who kept her grip tightly on Baltazar. There were several twists and turns to the tunnel that rocked the boat violently. The torches burned down to the wicks and almost went out as the boat picked up speed.

After what seemed like an eternity of a downward journey, the boat touched down into a thick fog. The boat half submerged itself as it hit the black water. Lailah turned to the crew, “Bail, everyone bail out the water. Don’t let us sink!”

The group cupped their hands together and quickly tossed as much water as they could out of the boat until it was in no danger of sinking again. There was still about an inch of water on the bottom, but they couldn’t get that out. The torch at the front of the boat had been extinguished by the splash. Baltazar tried to relight it, but the wick was too wet. They would have to rely on the one on the back of the boat.

Once again, the longboat began to move by itself. It slipped past random tree stumps and shattered branches sticking out of the water. Baltazar swore it looked like some great battle had taken place here many years ago.

The boat kept moving for what seemed like an hour, when suddenly Aralyn slowly shook her head, balled herself up on the back of the boat, and placed her hands on her head, “I can hear them.”

Baltazar and Papi turned to look at her. She had every muscle clenched and it looked like she was in agony. Baltazar placed a hand on her shoulder while Papi brushed the hair away from her face, “What is it, what’s wrong?”

“I… I can’t explain it…” She replied. “An uncountable number of sorrowful voices… I can hear them echoing in my mind… it hurts me.”

“Let me through.” Lailah said as she moved past Baltazar.

Lailah sat down in front of Aralyn and placed her hands on Aralyn’s head, “Focus, child… drive the voices out of your head. Picture your mind and then build walls around it to keep the noise out.”

Aralyn shook her head, “I can’t… it’s too powerful.”

“Yes you can.” Lailah replied. “Focus… find the strength within yourself… Concentrate.”

Aralyn let out a couple of labored breaths, but then after a few minutes, began to breathe normally. She looked up at Lailah and nodded, “I’m okay… the pain is dying down… thank you.”

Baltazar moved in next to Lailah, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Aralyn replied, wiping her brow, “it was painful, but it’s passed now. Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

Lailah turned back, “I hear the voices too. It’s not easy to block them out. All the pain and anguish can be overwhelming. You have done well.”

Lailah returned to the front of the boat while Baltazar held on to Aralyn. “What is this place?” Papi asked as he said down.

“This… Mr. Clement,” Lailah replied, “is the Well of Souls.”

Papi looked around, “So this black water…”

“Do not touch it!” She cut in. “That is not water. This is the essence of the souls of those people who were indifferent to the evil around them. They were condemned to rest here.”

Papi seemed very confused, “So is this hell, or purgatory, or limbo?”

“Limbo,” Lailah scoffed, “a place where those who have not been baptized go. What nonsense. Do you honestly believe that the Most High would be so unfair?”

Papi shrugged, “I’d always assumed that he’d set rules in place and when people simply chose not to follow them…”

“Not to follow them?” Lailah’s eyes went wide. “What about children who die before they get a chance, or people who lived good lives, but grew up in areas ignorant of these supposed ‘teachings?’ Explain to me how that even makes sense! Why would the Most High limit salvation so much that some people aren’t even given a chance?”

Papi sat back, unable to answer, “I… I guess it does seem unfair.”

“The universe is not so poorly run, Mr. Clement. Salvation is for all who live honest, decent, lives, not just for those who follow one church’s teachings.” She replied. “Thus, there is no limbo. What you see in front of you here isn’t hell either, though it does lead there. This place was created because even though these people committed evil themselves by allowing it to happen to others, not even the Most High had it in him to commit them to eternal damnation. Instead, the Well was created for them to flow endlessly for all eternity. It takes a lot to commit someone to hell.”

Papi nodded, “I think I understand now.”

“Good.” Lailah replied. “Put those false teachings out of your head. You’ll live a much happier life.”

“I hate to break up this enlightening discussion,” Baltazar interrupted, “but I thought I just saw something in the water.”

Papi turned to his side, “What is it?”

“Be patient,” Lailah replied, “you’ll see them.”

Aralyn raised her head for just a moment and opened her eyes. They were glowing bright green as she looked out in the distance, “They’re here…”

Baltazar turned back and looked at her with a strange feeling in his heart. Suddenly, Papi pointed onto the lake, “Look!”

The boat was suddenly surrounded by green entities. They all seemed to be flowing in the same direction as the boat. To Baltazar it almost seemed like they were guiding it. Watching a few of the spirits flow past, he was reminded of dolphins swimming alongside ships as they were heading out to sea.

The scene was somewhat ghostly to Baltazar, “This is somewhat unsettling. I’ve never seen anything like this, Aralyn…”

He looked back again to see that she had once again balled herself up, trying to shut them out. Lailah looked out on lake, “It is a sad thing to see souls committed here, but those who have wasted their lives and not helped others when they could have belong here.”

“I would imagine that this place is merciful when compared to hell.” Papi retorted. “Wouldn’t it be?”

“It would be,” Lailah replied, “but not by much…”

On the back of the boat, Aralyn’s eyes shot open and she sat up from Baltazar, “I hear a voice… it’s stronger than the rest… It’s odd, but I feel like I should know it.”

Suddenly, a green entity appeared beneath the surface of the black water and kept pace with the boat. A decrepit face appeared from the green light. Lailah smiled, “Azrael, my old friend.”

She placed her hand in the water. The green entity surrounded her hand. As though someone had just spoken to her, she nodded, “It has been some time hasn’t it?”

She paused for a moment as though listening again. Out of nowhere, she began laughing, “No, the years do not appear to have been kind to you either… but at least we still exist.”

There was another pause, and again she responded to unheard words, “No, that is not Adaline, I know, it looks exactly like her, but Adaline died years ago. That is actually her only descendant.”

Lailah looked up at Aralyn, “Azrael says you’re as beautiful as she was. He misses her deeply.”

“Who is Azrael?” She asked.

Lailah smiled, “He was the Angel of Death for many years. He was also a great hero of the Celestial Wars. He died protecting Adaline from the archangel Michael… it shocked us all.”

“And God sent him here?” Baltazar asked. “That seems rather cruel.”

“Angels aren’t given the mercies humans are.” Lailah replied. “We can’t procreate and we can’t receive the forgiveness of the Most High, because in his mind, we know better. However, we do live forever, we can love, and we never get old. It’s a steep trade-off, but that is life for us.”

“But why send him here?” Aralyn asked.

“Angels’ bodies are considered holy items.” She replied. “To damage or destroy one is considered crime. We are supposed to guard ourselves against all things. If we fail to do so, this is our punishment.”

“Still seems unfair.” Papi said softly.

Lailah nodded as she went silent again. After a few minutes, the smile returned to her face, “We would appreciate that… thank you old friend.”

As Lailah pulled her hand from the water, Aralyn looked at her oddly, “What did he say?”

“He’s going to guide us to the main fountain of the Well.” She replied.

The boat slowly turned and began heading in another direction. Aralyn began to feel as though someone were pulling them along. She moved up and sat down next to Lailah, “How long did Adaline know Azrael?”

“Thousands of years…” Lailah replied. “During the war, he taught her how to fight, she became his apprentice. She was amongst the most gifted angels.”

Aralyn nodded, but said nothing else. Lailah could sense that she was holding something back, “Speak your mind, Aralyn. I don’t know how much longer we’ll have the opportunity to give you answers. So if you want them, now is the time.”

Aralyn nodded, “I’ve heard so much about Adaline… I’ve heard how great she was, and how she’s still revered as a hero…  but what about Giovanni? What about the man who saved her life and loved her.”

Lailah noticed that she was looking back at Baltazar as she was asking these questions, “Giovanni was a fairly poor fisherman living a modest life in Venice. Like the rest of his family, he was stricken with the White Plague and was slowly dying. It was pure luck that he found her… Unfortunately, I don’t know him personally, but last I saw, he and Adaline still dwell together and love each other as much as ever.”

Aralyn smiled, “That’s good to know.”

“We should all be so lucky.” Lailah agreed.

The two peered off into the distance as the fog lifted. A bright green glow emanated from a small grotto about a mile off in the distance. As the boat glided towards it, the grotto began to get bigger. Papi squinted at it, trying to get a better view, “What is it?”

Lailah smiled, “That is the fountain that feeds the Well of Souls.”

The boat moved closer until the fountain was in full view. The group looked in awe at the massive whirlpool that seemed to flow opposite to that of normal maelstroms. It was like a massive spire of water that flowed upwards. To add more mystery, their boat stopped moving even though the water continued to flow forward.

Once they were in position, Lailah nodded, “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”

Baltazar’s eyes narrowed, “Wait, where are you going?”

“Into the fountain,” she replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. It is the only way to get word to the Choirs.”

Aralyn nodded, “Okay… good luck, hurry back.”

Lailah smiled as she stepped out into the water. Everyone expected her to fall at least up to her neck, but that did not happen. She walked on the surface as though it were solid. Her toes caused ripples in the water as she stepped. She stopped right in front of the Well and touched it with a single finger. There was a spark, and her body appeared to illuminate for a moment. She hesitantly thrust her hand into the fountain and began to glow brightly.

Suddenly, the feathers on her wings began to grow back, the scars on her body disappeared, and she was completely restored to her original splendor. Aralyn could not believe how beautiful she was as the glow slowly dissipated. Suddenly, a white light appeared above her and with a might flap of her wings, she shot upwards at impressive speeds. Aralyn and the two men searched the skies for her but could not see anything.

Finally, after about ten minutes of searching the sky, the group saw a white comet approaching. The comet shot down and hit the water with a massive splash. There was a brief moment of silence, which was broken by the fountain flowing faster than before. It kept spinning faster and faster until a white blur shot out of the top. It hovered in the sky for a few moments until the white glow faded and Lailah was left in its place.

She hovered for a moment before setting down on the boat. The moment she folded her wings, they withered back to the way they had been. Her scars returned and her features returned to the way they had been for years.

Aralyn frowned as she saw tears form in Lailah’s eyes, “I’m sorry Lailah. I guess the powers really are limited.”

“Very much so,” she replied with a hint of sorrow in her voice, “but they served their purpose.”

“You managed to get in contact with the Choirs then?” Baltazar asked.

“Yes,” Lailah replied, “I informed the archangels and the general of the Most High’s army of what will happen. They have agreed to prepare for a fight. They’re going to wait until Legion reveals himself before making a move, but they’re with us.”

Baltazar shrugged, “Well at least we’ve got them looking over us.”

“I hate to cast a shadow on the current situation,” Papi’s voice appeared from behind, “but there still exists the problem of how we get out of here.”

Lailah nodded, “That’s been taken care of too… we’ll need to row for the fountain. It will transport us back to where we were.”

A worried look came over Baltazar’s face, “But the galleass?”

Lailah nodded, “We’ll just have to hope she’s gone. I don’t think they saw us enter the cave, so they have no reason not to return to France.”

“There is still the risk.” Papi insisted.

“There is risk in all things.” Baltazar replied. “There is no sense sitting around here forever wondering… grab an oar, we’re moving on.”

Papi nodded, “Aye Captain.”

Aralyn sat down at the stern while the men rowed the boat toward the spinning water. Within moments, the current caught the boat and pushed it toward the spire. The boat spun around faster and faster until it began to rise out of the water. Aralyn watched as the black water grew more distant underneath them.

The boat began to spin faster and faster until everything became a blur. Unable to see, Aralyn reached out for Baltazar. He quickly took her hand as their world spun around them. The blur turned to black and everything faded out of sight.



Readers,

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Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 5, Chapter 1

Book 5

The Churning Tides

I

The sound of activity on deck roused Baltazar from his slumber. He got up carefully so not to wake Aralyn. He opened the door and went out on deck. To his surprise, the crew was back onboard early and preparing the ship for the voyage ahead.

Gilles turned to see a near shirtless Captain La Fuente walk out on deck, “Captain, good morning.”

Baltazar rubbed his eyes, “Good morning Mr. Gilles… what is going on around here.”

Gilles smiled, “The crew doesn’t want to wait anymore. We’re all anxious for adventure, and no Romagna wenches are going to quench our thirst.”

Baltazar smiled, “Is that a fact?”

“Aye.” Morgan said, coming up behind him. “Whenever you’re ready Captain, we’re ready to save the world.”

“All right then.” Baltazar replied confidently. “Is everyone onboard?”

“Aye sir.” Gilles said, looking around. “All crewmen are accounted for.”

Baltazar nodded, “Very well, cast off the mooring lines, set the topsails, and let’s get this ship moving.”

He turned to Gilles, “Mr. Gilles, take us out.”

“Aye sir,” Gilles replied as he manned the helm.

The topsails came down and the Black Vengeance started to pull away from the dock. It took about ten minutes to leave the pier, but she pulled out into open water and cleared the harbor quickly. Baltazar breathed in deeply as he felt the wind catch the ship, “Full sail, Mr. Morgan,”

Morgan nodded and moved forward, “Aye sir, full sail!”

He then turned to Gilles, “South, southeast, if you will, Mr. Gilles.”

Gilles nodded and turned the ship to the south, “Aye sir.”

In the cabin, Aralyn could feel the ship moving under her body. Her eyes opened and she sat up. She quickly changed into her normal clothing and ran out on deck.

Baltazar was standing near the helm. She joined him as he stood watching the horizon, “My love, what is going on?”

Baltazar wrapped his arm around her back and smiled, “The crew was restless for adventure. So we decided to set sail early.”

“Was the ship ready?” She asked.

Baltazar nodded, “Aye, we had all the provisions ready to go and we’re still fully loaded in terms of the ammunition.”

Lailah appeared on deck a few moments later as well. She joined the group on the aft castle, “Where are we?”

“We’re on our way to Taenarum.” Baltazar replied. “It shouldn’t be any more than a day before we arrive.”

Lailah shook her head, “I don’t know how you humans do it. You spend half your life travelling from one place to the next. Especially you sailor types, do you know that when you actually reach the destination you spend so much time getting to, you spend very little time there in comparison?”

“Such is the life.” Baltazar shrugged. “We don’t all have wings to take us everywhere.”

Lailah frowned, “Do these look like they’ll carry me very far?”

Gilles looked over at her, “Yeah about that… how is it you’re hurt, I thought angels were incapable of such things?”

“To be honest,” Lailah replied, “I’m not entirely sure. You are right in that we’re not supposed to capable of being hurt.”

“What happened?” Aralyn asked.

“It was so terrible…” Lailah said softly fighting back tears, “I watched your family die… and was powerless to stop it. Then Legion tore me apart in ways that ripped through my body and into my mind. He burned me alive. I don’t know how, but his fire was the physical manifestation of all his rage… even my immortality couldn’t protect me.”

She flapped her wings weakly, “He took my flight away from me and severed my connection to the Celestial world. Once he was finished, he left me here, crippled and broken hoping that I would be found and killed.”

“But you weren’t.” Gilles added.

“No, I wasn’t,” she nodded, “I used what little strength I had left and managed to escape. I spent five years wandering around until I found that small rocky island… that’s where I stayed… for a very long time.”

Aralyn lowered her eyes, “I am very sorry for you…”

“Don’t be,” Lailah replied, “you’re here now, and you know the truth. If we succeed, then it will all be worth it.”

**

The ship sailed on for hours without the crew saying much to one another. They each tended to the ship in their own way. Papi continued preparing food for the men about to come on or go off duty. Aralyn had to delegate her time between the galley and tending to whatever injuries arose. Baltazar stayed on deck, watching the horizon as the ship continued on course, and Lailah continuously prayed for the safety of all hands onboard.

As afternoon fell over the ship, the lookout called to Baltazar, “Land ho, Captain!”

Baltazar looked out in front of them and saw a steep rocky pass. Lailah nodded, “This is the place.”

Baltazar shook his head, “It’s no good, we can’t land here, there is no place to bring up the longboat!”

“Sail further south.” Lailah replied. “The cave we’re looking for is in the water, you’ll be using the longboat to get in.”

Baltazar nodded to Gilles, “You heard the lady.”

Gilles held the ship on a southern course, but kept his eyes open for the cave that they were looking for. Sure enough, ten minutes later, the Black Vengeance sighted a cave cut into the side of the rock wall.

Morgan looked at the cave oddly, “I figure that didn’t form naturally, did it?”

“No,” Lailah said in a low voice, “there were outside forces at work in creating this cave.”

Baltazar turned to the men on deck, “Drop anchor, bring in the sails, lower the longboat, and order Mr. Clement to the deck.”

Morgan nodded, “Will I be coming with ye this time Captain?”

“No,” Baltazar replied, “I won’t risk anyone unnecessarily. Only the people who need to be there will be. Papi has known Aralyn since she was little, so I doubt I could stop him. I want you to stay and help Gilles manage the ship.”

Morgan saluted, “Aye Captain.”

The longboat was lowered as Papi climbed on deck. He looked out and saw the cave, “By the grace of God… This is something I hoped never to see.”

“You and every other man alive.” Lailah replied. “Don’t worry, as long as we keep our wits about us, we should be safe. I know what to look out for.”

Once the longboat touched the water, Lailah and Papi climbed over the side into the boat. Aralyn followed close behind. On deck, Baltazar nodded to his men, “Gilles, Morgan, you two are in charge until I get back. Keep a close watch on things.”

Gilles nodded, “Not a problem, Captain.”

Baltazar nodded and turned toward the longboat. As he went over the side, he looked at the deck one last time. Gilles saluted as Baltazar disappeared, “Luck, Captain.”

Morgan looked over the side as Baltazar sat next to Papi and manned the oars. They began to row towards the cave as Lailah guided them from the front. Morgan waited for them to get clear before turning back to Gilles, “Longboat be away!”

After about ten minutes of silence, there was a horrified call from the lookout, “Sail ho!”

Gilles looked around quickly, but saw nothing, “Where away?”

“Directly to starboard,” the lookout replied.

Gilles picked up the spyglass and looked to starboard. It took a few moments for him to pick out the ship, but once he had a good shot of it, his eyes went wide. Morgan watched him go pale as he lowered the spyglass, “What is it, lad?”

“No…” Gilles said in a defeated tone. “Not now…”

Morgan turned to face him with a worried, “What is it?”

“The Le Terrible…” he replied, “she’s found us.”

Morgan’s jaw dropped, “How be that possible, we lost them in Viana do Castelo.”

“I don’t know…” Gilles replied, “but it doesn’t matter, weigh anchor, set top sails and get us moving!”

Morgan looked out at the longboat as it drew closer to the cave, “Gilles, what about the longboat?”

Gilles shook his head, “They’re on their own for now. It would take us too long to get them back onboard. We’ll draw the warship off and hope they’ll follow us.”

**

On the longboat, Baltazar saw the terrifying scene unfold in front of him. Panic broke out across the deck of his ship as he watched, “What is going on?”

Then he saw it, a lateen sail appeared on the horizon, “No, it can’t be!”

Aralyn followed his gaze, “The Le Terrible…”

Papi tugged on his oar, “We have to get back to the ship! You should be there!”

Baltazar shook his head, “There is no time. They’re weighing anchor now and the sails are coming down. By the time we get back onboard, the Vengeance will have no time to get away.”

An angered look came over Baltazar’s face, “Bastard sail maker, I knew he couldn’t be trusted. I have it in my mind to go collect a refund.”

He took another look and lowered his eyes, “Row for the cave, we need to get out of sight.”

A worried look appeared on Aralyn’s face, “What about the Black Vengeance?”

Baltazar sat down and manned his oar, “Gilles is a smart man, he and Morgan have dealt with worse. With a little luck, they’ll get away.”

**

Once the ship began to move, Morgan turned to his deckhands, “Men, we could run, and probably get away, but we need to make sure our captain completes his mission. Therefore, we’re going to draw the Le Terrible and hopefully lose them in the heat of battle. Run up the guns, full charge of powder all around!”

As the men worked, Morgan backed up and stood next to Gilles on the helm, “Gilles, if ye be a praying man, now be the time.”

“Aye.” Gilles agreed.

Baltazar watched from a distance as the Black Vengeance pulled away from the cave and met the Le Terrible in open water. He watched a deadly exchange of cannon fire between both ships. The Black Vengeance only got off one broadside and instead relied on their fore and aft guns in a game of cat and mouse.

At first, Baltazar’s ship managed to outmaneuver the Le Terrible and avoid getting hit by her cannon fire. Gilles brought the ship around a couple of times to alternate between the aft cannons and the starboard broadside. The Le Terrible were unable to keep up.

This seemed to work well for him at first, but this was short-lived as the French warship brought her massive forward cannons to bear. The first shot missed the ship completely, but the second one struck a devastating blow. The shot ripped through the rigging and struck the fore-mast.

There was a loud crackling sound as the mast began to lean to port and collapsed over the side of the ship. Baltazar eyes widened as the battle unfolded, “No…”

The group watched helplessly as the now-crippled Black Vengeance struggled to defend herself. They quickly reloaded their cannons and tried to fire off another broadside. Baltazar could see that they were firing at the waterline, hoping to deal a quick, crippling blow. This proved futile and the Le Terrible began to pick up speed. The loud grunts of the oarsmen could be heard even at their distance.

Within moments, the massive ram impacted on the starboard side of the Black Vengeance. The entire ship jerked violently to port from the sheer force of the blow. Loud snapping noises shot through the air as the hull cracked. It was as though the ship had been forced out of the water as she was driven back.

Even from their extreme distance, the group could see that the Le Terrible had dealt a deathblow to the Black Vengeance. Her hull was split in half and the ship was sinking. Gunshots could still be heard from the deck, but they were slowly becoming few and far in between.

Baltazar fell backwards into the boat. He would have fallen over the side, but Papi was there to catch him. Aralyn covered her face with her hands and began to cry, “No… Morgan, Gilles… the crew… please, no! We have to thelp them!”

“We can’t…” Lailah replied as she clasped her hands together while watching the Black Vengeance sink. “Most High, save them…”

Papi shook his head, “This can’t be happening…”

Baltazar straightened out and realized that they were still in danger, “We need to get going. I don’t know if those French bastards saw us or not, but I’d rather not stick around to find out.”

Lailah nodded, “I agree, let’s make sure their sacrifice was not in vain.”

“They shouldn’t have been sacrificed at all.” Aralyn replied through clenched teeth. “They were my family… the only one I know.”

Baltazar took the oar and started rowing again. He refused to utter a single word. Lailah turned back to face the angered Aralyn, “You are absolutely right, they shouldn’t have been… but that is not for us to decide. The Most High has a plan for everyone… it’s not for us to understand why and it never was.”

Aralyn felt the rage build up inside of her. She folded her legs and jumped over Papi’s head, landing in front of Lailah, “Who the hell are you to say that? They were my friends, my family. How dare you… they had to be sacrificed so that we could make it to the cave? What madness is this?”

Lailah sat back defensively, “Stay your anger, you’re going to sink the boat!”

Papi grabbed Aralyn by the shoulders and held on. She fought to get back at Lailah, “How many more sacrifices do I have to make? Mama, Papa, Sister Mary, Morgan, Gilles, and the crew! How many more? If the Most High can just sit by and let it happen, then maybe I’m fighting for the wrong side!”

Lailah was about to respond when she saw Aralyn’s eyes begin to glow red, “No… Aralyn, stay your anger, now!”

Baltazar noticed the look on Lailah’s face and turned to look at Aralyn. When he realized what was going on, he touched her cheek, “Aralyn… please calm down. I know how you feel, but this won’t solve anything.”

Tears fell from her eyes as she turned to Baltazar, “Who is next, you? Am I expected to give you up as well?”

“I’m not going anywhere.” Baltazar replied. “The devil himself will never be able to rip you from my arms. I promise!”

The redness faded from her eyes and she lost consciousness. Baltazar placed her on the back of the boat and allowed her to rest. The boat entered the cave and, to everyone’s surprise, began moving without the use of oars. Baltazar and Papi placed the oars in the boat and secured them. Once the work was done, Baltazar looked back at Aralyn, “Mr. Clement, see what you can do for her.”

Papi nodded and slowly pushed himself to the back of the boat. Baltazar turned and looked at Lailah, “I think it’s time you and I had a talk.”

Lailah nodded, “It does seem unavoidable.”

“What’s happening to Aralyn?” He demanded. “Why does that keep happening to her eyes? It’s like when she get’s angry or upset, she becomes possessed.”

Lailah’s expression didn’t change and not even her eyes moved, “That’s pretty much exactly what’s happeneing. The one you love walks on a narrow precipice between good and evil. If she sways even a little, it allows Legion to move in and attack. When that happens, her mind may abandon any sense of reason. If Legion gets to her at her most vulnerable point, he could easily twist her mind to his will. “

Baltazar’s jaw dropped open, “So that is why you were questioning my intentions…”

“Exactly.” Lailah replied. “I know that I come off as harsh, but I bear no ill will towards you. I had to be absolutely certain that you weren’t going to hurt her. Anger, sadness, fear, pain, and sorrow… they are all negative emotions. In their most extreme form, they can lead a person to madness. In her case, it would wear down the mental barriers that were put in place to protect her long ago.”

“What can I do?” Baltazar asked. “I won’t let her fall.”

Lailah smiled, “What you’ve been doing and continue to do so well… Love her, protect her, and do everything you can to prevent her from feeling pain.”

“That’s a tall order.” Baltazar replied. “With the loss of the Black Vengeance, and everything else she’s been through, keeping her happy is going to be near impossible.”

“It will be…” Lailah admitted. “I can sense that you care for her… but there may come a time when you have to choose between her well-being and her happiness.”

Baltazar looked confused, “Aren’t they one in the same?”

“Not always,” Lailah replied.



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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 4, Chapter 5

V

 

Aralyn took some time to get used to her new name and identity. She had been the naive little girl from France for so many years that the truth now was very daunting. Her newfound love was a major comfort to her as she sorted out her life and what she would do with it.

Two days passed while the ship returned to Ravenna. The men were given two days of shore leave while their leaders contemplated the next move. There were six of them sitting in the galley trying to decide where to go next.

Baltazar sat with Aralyn on one side of the table while the other chairs were taken by Gilles, Morgan, Papi, and Lailah. Baltazar folded his hands in front of his face, “So, obviously we can’t run forever, what is our next move?”

“Legion is one that is many.” Lailah replied. “He can be anywhere, at any time.”

“You mean he could be here right now?” Baltazar asked.

“He has been here.” Lailah said in a low voice. “I can sense it in the walls. Most likely in the former captain of this ship…”

She then looked at Aralyn, “And he attacked you. I can still feel his presence in your soul… but is he here now… no. If he were, we’d know it. Aralyn and I would sense him.”

An air of relief filled the room as they continued. Papi looked over at Lailah, “I don’t understand, Legion is one that is many, but he is still just one demon. Surely a legion of angels could stop him.”

Lailah frowned, “It’s no longer that simple. Lucifer’s hold over the underworld was significantly weakened about seventy years ago when his former general turned on him.”

“Xaphan?” Aralyn asked. “She betrayed Lucifer?”

“Yes,” Lailah replied, “I don’t know the full details because I wasn’t there personally, but from what I understand, she turned on Lucifer when he tried to kill the one she loved.”

Baltazar’s eyes narrowed, “The one she loved? Who was that?”

Lailah smiled, “All I know is that she mated with a human and that led to her falling out of favor with Lucifer. Once all was said and done, Lucifer saw him as a threat and tried to have him killed. When she realized that after years of loyalty, he saw fit to betray her, she attacked him and stripped him of most of his power… she meant well. Unfortunately, her bravery had an undesirable effect. With Lucifer weakened, Legion focused on gaining strength. Many of the souls and demonic entities in Hell have been disillusioned by Lucifer’s weakness.”

Morgan sighed, “So they cast their lots in with Legion, is that it?”

“That is correct.” Lailah replied. “His numbers have swelled in recent years, now even the Choirs may not be able to take him on alone.”

“Hold one second,” Gilles interjected, “there is one thing that be escaping my reasoning. If the Lord God is all powerful, can he not simply destroy Legion himself?”

Lailah shrugged, “Could you destroy your own dark side? Can you stop the voice in your head from tempting you to do evil?”

That stopped Gilles in his tracks, “I… suppose not.”

“No,” Lailah replied, “and neither can the Most High. All any of us can do is burry that darkness away where it won’t hurt anyone and pretend that it doesn’t exist.”

A look of hopelessness came over Baltazar’s face, “Then how do we defeat such a being?”

“A combined effort.” Aralyn responded.

Every eye in the room focused on her. Lailah smiled, “Exactly, we’ll need the Choirs of Angels… and Aralyn’s power. Hopefully that should be enough to defeat him. If not, then perhaps weaken him enough to be re-imprisoned.”

“So then we’ll need to warn the Choirs, yes?” Papi concluded.

“Correct.” Lailah nodded, “Unfortunately that may be more difficult then it seems.”

“Why?” Aralyn asked. “Can’t you go warn them?”

“Not in my present condition. As i explained to Baltazar, I’ve lost much of my power.” Lailah replied angrily as she raised her scarred wings. “Legion did this to me when I tried to defend your home. My powers are badly diminished to the point where my sisters couldn’t even detect me. I was left her to die.”

Aralyn lowered her eyes, “I’m sorry… I didn’t know that. I regret that I caused your pain.”

“You didn’t.” Lailah sighed. “I apologize for being rude. You were not responsible for this.”

Morgan looked around the room, “So then, how will we be contacting these Choirs?”

Lailah sat back with a concerned look on her face, “There is a way… but the journey is perilous and the cost may be high.”

Aralyn looked at Lailah in earnest, “What is it?”

“We would need to proceed to the Well of Souls,” Lailah replied, “located just outside of the path to Hell.”

Baltazar looked at her like she was insane, “What is the Well of Souls?”

“It’s a place where the souls of the indifferent go.” Lailah replied. “Those who saw evil, but did nothing to stop it, flow forever in the well. It is also the final resting place for angels if they get killed.”

Papi’s eyes narrowed, “How will finding such a place help us contact the Choirs?”

Lailah turned to him, “If a human were to touch the waters, they would weather him away to dust. However if an angelic spirit touches the water, they can channel the powers of their fallen comrades to temporarily give them a boost in energy. In other words, it may give me enough power to reach the Chiors.”

“Well if that is our only choice…” Baltazar replied. “The crew said they’d follow us to hell and back, perhaps it’s time to test that. How do we get there?”

“That won’t be easy.” Lailah admitted. “The best way would be to enter Charybdis… a massive whirlpool that opens up just north of Crete.”

She lowered her eyes, “However, the larger the ship, the more dangerous it is, and I’m afraid a ship of this size wouldn’t be able to withstand the intense pressure on the hull.”

Morgan’s eyes widened, “Can’t say I be enjoying the thought of us entering a maelstrom anyway.”

“There is a second way… “Lailah said hesitantly, “but it would have to be done with a longboat.”

“How?” Baltazar asked.

Lailah looked Baltazar in the eye, “Taenarum…”

Time seemed to freeze for a moment. Gilles breathed heavily, “Cape Matapan… the home of the devil himself.”

“That is the legend,” Lailah replied, “but part of the legend is true, there is a massive cave there that will lead to the underworld.”

Baltazar stood up, “That is a day’s sail south of here. It shouldn’t be difficult to get to. Give the crew a little more time, we have one night left. We’ll set sail tomorrow…. agreed?”

Everyone nodded that this was acceptable. Lailah turned to leave, “I need some time to center myself. I will take the cargo hold if no one objects.”

Baltazar bowed and stood out of the way. She left the room quietly. Aralyn also left and headed up to the deck. Baltazar turned to his men, “See to it the ship is fully stocked for the worst possible contingency… I have a feeling we may need it.”

The three men saluted as Baltazar left the room. They went to work making sure that the Black Vengeance was ready. Baltazar went up to the main deck and saw Aralyn watching the bay from the forecastle. He approached her and stood next to her. She knew he was there, but it didn’t break her gaze.

After a few moments of silence, she finally spoke, “In a matter of days, the world I’ve known for such a long time has been shattered.”

She lowered her eyes with a smile on her face, “I don’t know what I should be feeling now… joy, sorrow, or fear?”

Baltazar turned to face her, “Perhaps a combination of each?”

“Perhaps.” She replied. “I’ve found everything I’ve ever wanted; family, love, adventure, and the answers to my life’s questions. Now I’m being thrust into some celestial holy war. I could wind up losing everything. That scares me.”

“It should,” Baltazar replied, “but that is the downside to forming connections and love. You wind up gaining something you could easily lose if not careful.”

“Are you saying I was better off before I told you how I felt?” She asked with a devious look.

“You told me how much you cared about me.” He said with a smile. “I don’t see how you could be better off.”

“You’re awful!” She shouted as she punched him in the arm.

She brought her fist around for another strike, but Baltazar grabbed it and held on as she struggled against him. She sneered jokingly at him as they fought, “Unhand me you fiend!”

After a few moments of trying to wring her arm free, Aralyn decided to try a new tactic. Instead of trying to break free, she lunged at him. Unable to keep his balance with the unexpected extra force bearing down on him, Baltazar fell backwards. His back hit the deck and Aralyn landed on his chest. She pounded on it with her fist as the two of them started laughing. Aralyn stood up and brushed herself off before helping Baltazar to his feet.

Once he was standing again, she gave him a quick kiss and smiled, “Thanks for cheering me up.”

“Anytime.” Baltazar replied.

Aralyn yawned as and turned away, “I think it’s time I got some rest, with everything that’s been going on, I think I’ve been worn a little thin.”

Baltazar nodded, “Go ahead, you’ve earned it.”

“Would come with me?” she asked.

This was an offer that Baltazar normally jumped on, knowing what it normally lead to, but this time, his heart froze in his chest. Baltazar swallowed, “I… don’t know…”

“Just until I fall asleep,” she replied, “please?”

Baltazar was about to answer when Lailah appeared on deck. Judging by the look on her face, she wanted to speak to him. He nodded to Aralyn, “Okay, I’ll be along in a few minutes.”

She gave him a faint smile and disappeared into the cabin. Lailah waited until she was gone before approaching Baltazar, “She’s a fascinating woman isn’t she?”

Baltazar nodded, “She is that…”

“Yes…” Lailah replied, “and you have my thanks for looking after her for so long.”

Baltazar knew she was dying to say more, “But…?”

“But…” Lailah repeated, “I sense that she has gotten very close to you.”

“Is that a problem?” Baltazar asked.

“I don’t know yet,” Lailah replied, “she loves you, you know. You’ve become her hero.”

Baltazar nodded, “I care for her too.”

“Do you?” Lailah asked suspiciously. “Are you certain of that? You have a kind face Baltazar Del La Fuente, but you are very difficult to read.”

Baltazar felt a twitch in the back of his neck. He was getting annoyed by the accusing nature of the angel’s questioning, “Angel, if you have something you wish to say, then stop mincing words and out with it.”

Lailah nodded, “Forgive me, it’s usually not in my nature to be so indirect. I have watched you since I came onboard. I have listened to your crew speak of you and pretty much got an idea of what kind of man you are. I have to say… what I’ve discovered worries me.”

Baltazar clenched one of his fists behind his back, “Come on, let’s hear the rest of it.”

“As you wish.” She replied. “You have spent the better part of your adult life pillaging and drinking your way from wench to wench without a single care. You do have a code of honor you live by, and that is admirable… but…”

“But what?” Baltazar asked.

Lailah sighed, “I don’t think you’re right for her. Maybe you should…”

“Enough.” Baltazar blurted out, ready to explode. “I am familiar with what I am and what I have done. I don’t need you to take me on a tour.”

“Forgive me.” Lailah replied, as she lowered her eyes as she spoke. “I did not mean to insult you. You are a good person under the brash exterior. My concern is your intentions for Aralyn… I’m only concerned because she is a lot more delicate then you might think. She has a tough exterior and guards her emotions well, but once you get under all that, which you have… You could severely damage her.”

“Never.” Baltazar said as he glared at Lailah. “I do not apologize for my past and the things I have done, because they make me who I am. I am not a sociopath and most of the women I have bedded were looking for the same thing I was. Aralyn is… different. From the moment I met her, I just wanted to help her. Now… I can’t explain it… I’ve never felt this way for a woman before. She’s different from anyone I’ve ever known.”

“So what would your intentions be then?” Lailah insisted.

Baltazar sighed, “I have none… I care for her, that’s all. If she wants me there, I will be there. If she asks me to leave, it will hurt, but I will go. If she is in danger, then I will be the one to protect her, no matter what the cost.”

Lailah smiled, satisfied by his response, “That’s all I needed to know, and if your words are true… Aralyn was lucky to have found you.”

She turned and beckoned toward the cabin, “Go on, she is waiting for you.”

Baltazar nodded and began walking, “You should probably stay out of sight. If someone sees you with those wings and all, it won’t end well.”

“Understood,” Lailah replied as she headed for the ladder back to the hold.

Baltazar hesitated as he opened the door. Aralyn was on the other side wearing a lace gown that she had found amongst the women’s clothing Jaspart kept aboard for presumably dishonorable reasons. She slowly ran her arms over Baltazar’s shoulders and kissed him deeply. The two held each other for a few moments when Baltazar could feel her starting to fade, “Lay down, you must be exhausted.”

Aralyn nodded and lay on the bed, listening to the creaks of the hull and the water splashing against the dock. Baltazar opened his shirt and lay down next to her. She slowly curled up on her side and rested her head on his shoulder. Her breathing slowed and she drifted off into sleep, “Thank you for staying here with me.”

Baltazar gently stroked her hair as her eyes closed. Her breathing became more rhythmic and little more than a whisper. Eventually, Baltazar also fell asleep. The sun began to set and the lamps in the town illuminated the sky. A single shooting star could be seen in the night sky as the world slept.



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