Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 6, Chapter 7

VII

 

As Gilles predicted, the wind carried them to Venice in less than a week. No one onboard could explain such good fortune. Whenever they altered course, it almost appeared as though the wind was going with them. It blew through the sails hard enough to test the limits of the ship’s speed, but never enough to damage it. Lailah suspected that someone was aiding them on their journey.

Baltazar spent most of the time in his cabin with Aralyn. She had been badly injured and had not yet awakened. The bruises and cuts all over her body were slowly healing, but Baltazar worried about what damage was below the surface that he could not see. Lailah also peeked in from time to time to make sure that she was okay. She inspected Aralyn’s injuries to make sure she was healing properly.

On more than one occasion, Baltazar would turn to Lailah with a worried look, “Why won’t she wake up, what happened to her?”

“She’s fine Baltazar,” Lailah replied in a reassuring tone, “Aralyn poured everything she had into the fight, including her own life energy.”

“Her own life energy?” Baltazar repeated, confused.

“Every living creature has life energy,” she replied, “Angels have the ability to draw upon theirs for strength is they ever need it in a stressful situation. Aralyn used a great deal of hers and it is going to take time to replenish it.”

Baltazar straightened her hair as she slept, “What happens if an angel uses too much of it?”

Lailah frowned, “Then they wither away and die, but that isn’t what’s happening here, trust me.”

Baltazar shook his head and held on to her as tightly as he could. When Lailah was gone, he whispered in her ear, “I’ll make a deal with you; you wake up, and I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. How does that sound?”

Of course, he got no response, but he still waited a moment before speaking again, “Well… take some time to think about it.”

**

Another day went by before Venice came into view. With Lailah’s help, they were able to find the Patrisi residence within a few hours of sighting the city. As the ship sailed on, the crew could not believe their eyes. The old pier had been repaired, the shipwreck had been pulled from the rocks and was now a seaworthy boat docked on the pier, and the house had been completely rebuilt.

Baltazar could not believe his eyes, “What happened here?”

Lailah smiled, “Thank your love for this.”

“What do you mean?” Baltazar asked.

“Do you remember the when she raised the Black Vengeance from the ocean floor after the French sank her?” Lailah replied, “Her powers went out of control and went about reversing everything that Legion had done as well. Mont Saint Michel has been restored, and so has the Patrisi home.”

Baltazar looked around in shock, “This is amazing, it’s like the place we visited never existed… how is this possible.”

Lailah shrugged, “That’s what we don’t know. No angel has the ability to do all this. I suspect that when her powers finally flowed to the surface, she unconsciously ordered them to do the things she desired most, but this is only my theory.”

Baltazar nodded as he grabbed his spyglass. Looking through it, he could see that the house was deserted. Multiple footsteps on the ground made it evident that someone had been investigating the rebuilt home recently, but other then that, there was no evidence of disturbance.

Baltazar lowered the spyglass and turned to Morgan, “This is as good a place as any to make berth. Assign a lookout detail and grant shore leave to the rest of the men.”

Morgan saluted and turned to the crew, “Drop anchor, and lower the longboat for the captain.”

The red sails were folded against the yardarms and the anchor hit the water. Within moments, the ship came to a stop. The longboat went into the water and Morgan climbed down to inspect the boat. After a few minutes, he looked back up to the deck, “Longboat ready Captain.”

Baltazar nodded, “Take over up here.”

As he turned and headed to the cabin, he turned to Gilles, “Into the longboat with you. Take Lailah as well. I’ll join you in a few moments.”

Gilles saluted, “Aye sir.”

Baltazar disappeared into the cabin and sat down on the bed next to Aralyn. He leaned over her and gently whispered in her ear, “You’re home, Aralyn. It’s out there waiting for you. I’ll take you there so you can wake up in your own home.”

Carefully, Baltazar ran his hands under her back and legs and lifted her off the bed. He made his way back out on deck and over to the longboat. Before he climbed down, Baltazar handed Aralyn to Lailah, who sat down and rested Aralyn’s head on her lap. Baltazar then climbed down into the boat and manned one of the oars. Gilles took the other one and they began to row ashore.

As the boat pulled away from the Black Vengeance, Baltazar yelled back, “Organize shore party and see to it that the men get their shore leave.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Morgan yelled back, “Don’t you worry, you’ll have a well rested crew, sir. You just worry about getting Aralyn better. We’re going to need a good nurse where we’re going after she wakes up.”

Everyone onboard laughed as the boat pulled away. Baltazar smiled and saluted. Baltazar and Gilles rowed towards the shore as quickly as they could. Unlike the last time they had shown up at this house, the sea was very calm and quite. It was only a few minutes before the boat grazed the rocks underneath her.

Gilles and Baltazar jumped out and pulled the boat up on land. Gilles looked around and nodded, “This be eerie, everything fixed as though nothing happened in the first place.”

Baltazar nodded, “Perhaps that is for the best. Better the world not remember Legion and what he did.”

“Very true,” Lailah replied, “Something so evil could stir the minds of man even after it has been destroyed.”

Baltazar turned to Gilles, “Check out the house, make sure it’s secure.”

Giles nodded, “You got it Captain.”

Lailah looked up at the second floor, “I’ll check up there.”

She spread her wings and flew up looking into each window, inspecting the rooms, “This is incredible… everything exactly as it was the day Aralyn was born. Nothing at all has been altered.”

Gilles opened the front door with his pistol drawn and began to look around. The house was fully furnished and clean. It actually seemed quite welcoming. He walked through the rooms on the bottom floor without finding anyone and returned to the entrance. He picked up a torch that was leaning behind the door next to, of all things, an old arquebus.

Gilles pulled some gunpowder out of his pouch, sprinkled it on some cloth and wrapped the cloth on the torch. Once it was ready, he unloaded his pistol, held the flintlock of the pistol against the rags and pulled the trigger. The spark ignited the torch which then burst into flame. He lit the lamps on either side of the door and at each end of the house as the sun began to go down. Once they were done, he went inside the house and began lighting the lamps inside as well. Finally, he got to the fireplace and lit the fire there, which illuminated the kitchen.

Once everything was lit, Gilles returned to the front door once more, “Captain, the house is secured.”

Baltazar watched from the outside as the beautiful house came to life. The sky began to get dark and the stars appeared overhead. Lailah landed next to Baltazar as he picked up Aralyn. She looked up at two unusually bright stars in the sky, “Why hello, my sisters. What brings you here?”

Baltazar looked at her oddly, “Who are you talking to?”

Lailah continued to watch the stars as she responded, “My sisters Ariel and Roselyn. They’ve been watching this home since one of their sisters lived here.”

“You mean Adaline,” Baltazar replied.

Lailah nodded, “Her circle grew quite fond of this area, even after her death and continued to watch over the Patrisi family.”

Baltazar sighed, “A lot of good it did them.”

“Yes…” Lailah said softly, “Unfortunately no angel was really a match for Legion, so our options were limited.”

Baltazar brought Aralyn inside, took her up to the second floor, and laid her in a comfortable bed that looked like it had just been slept in a few hours ago. Lailah’s lips twisted, “The last person to lay there was Aralyn’s mother, when she gave birth.”

Baltazar watched as Aralyn slowly began moving and pulled the blankets up around herself. He smiled, “I think we’d best leave her alone.”

The two of them retreated from the room. Lailah sat on the front stoop outside watching the stars as Baltazar claimed a small cot on the first floor. Gilles went poking through the kitchen for food and found the house fully stocked with preserved supplies. Given the age of the house, he wasn’t sure how good they’d be, but he was starving and decided that it was worth the risk.

Baltazar sat back against the cot and began to fall asleep. He looked around once more and thought about the life that Aralyn had been robbed of. Would she have been better off if she were raised here with loving parents instead of the cold trappings of an ancient abbey? The answer was obvious; of course she would have been better off, anyone would have been.

Baltazar thought back to his own family. The mother who loved him and the father who had cast him out and refused to even admit he existed. It filled him with a great deal of resentment. Inside, he couldn’t wait for Aralyn to be well again so that they could get back to plundering his family’s ships. Baltazar’s head once again filled with fame and fortune as he drifted off to sleep and dreamt of easier times.



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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The Ins and Outs of Publishing, A Directory of Advice.

Okay, so it looks like I’m still getting a lot of publishing questions. These are recurrent questions I get on a regular basis, and while I want to try to respond to everyone who reaches out to me, I don’t want my blog becoming redundant. So I think I’m going to repost this on a weekly basis from now on to help people navigate the publishing world. I don’t really see another way around it. I wish there was some way you could pin a post at the top of your blog!

So if you have questions regarding publishing, PLEASE check below to see if any of this helps you before reaching out. I’m always happy to help, but I may have already answered your question.

Publishing is a tough road to navigate. Please check out the links below. These are previous posts I’ve made about the ins and outs of publishing. They should be of assistance in your journey:

Am I Ready To Publish? This is a must read BEFORE even considering starting the process. I can’t tell you how many authors burned bridges by not being ready.

Editing… There is a Cost That Must be Paid… or is There? You can skip this one if you’ve already had your writing edited (by someone other than you!). However, I’d still recommend reading.

Getting Published… the basics… In this post, we explore traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Here you’ll get the pros on cons of each and the steps you need to go through in order to be successful in either.

Finally…

Copyrighting my Writing. Am I Protected? This isn’t required reading… however, if you’re concerned about plagiarism, or in the future may need to file a copyright claim, I recommend giving it a read.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The only sage advice I can offer you other than the documents above is simple…

  1. Do not give up. A million “No’s” suddenly become irrelevant if you get that one “yes”.
  2. People will tell you that everyone and their mother wants to publish a book. You’re up against insurmountable odds and a flooded market. This is false. You’re not up against everyone and their mother. Permit me the luxury and I’ll prove this mathematically: First of all, take the entire group of people who want to get published. Now take that number and reduce it by roughly 60%. You just eliminated all the people who want to get something published, but don’t have the time, ability, drive, or inspiration to write. Next, eliminate another 20%. You’ve now taken down all the people who can put pen to paper but can’t afford the time/money to put the work into advertising and getting published. Eliminate another 10% who can’t take criticism and thus aren’t going to be able to get their writing properly edited. Now eliminate another 5% either don’t have the patience for or get discouraged by receiving a series of “No’s” from publishers.
    Now take that last 5% and eliminate all of them, except you. Why? Because they’re irrelevant. You have your writing and they have there’s. Whether or not you get published and how successful you are isn’t about other people’s writing. Yes, in the end, it’s you against one person, you. Whether or not I’ll ever get to buy your book off the shelf depends on you; how much time, effort, and funds you’re willing to put into your writing. So make it good!

Let’s open it up to the floor. Readers, do you have any publishing advice for our friend here? Let her know in the comments!

 



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

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

Hello all!

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

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

James Harrington’s Author Page

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

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

Drakin: The Story of Raiya


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

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

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


SAMPLE CHAPTER

Chapter I

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

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

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

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

Click.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“One stupid move… all it takes.”

“Words of Wisdom.”

“Why did you fight?”

“Instinct I guess.”

“I see…”

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

Jagger called after her, “Wait!”

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

“No.”

“Really? Nothing?”

“No… not unless…”

“Yeah?”

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

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

“A… town?”

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

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

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

“Boston and Worcester… they were both destroyed?”

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

“Away…”

“Away?”

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

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

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

“Why?”

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

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure…”

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

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

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

“Impressive.”

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

No response.

“What, you don’t have a name?”

“…”

“All right then…”

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

“Raiya, that’s an unusual name.”

“I’m an unusual person.”

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

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

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

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

“Maybe you could show me?”

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

“Oh… too bad.”

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

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

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

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“I’m fine… why?”

“Your skin… it’s… pale.”

“So what…? It’s just how I look.”

“All right.”


 

Drakin: The Orphans of Haven


Book Synopsis:

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


Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You sure?” The commander asked.

“Yes, Commander Miles… I’m sure.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it going to attack us?”

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

“Oh boy…”

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

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

“First time?” Kevin whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, sir!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

“Really are? You mean…”

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

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

“All right…”

“You can’t ignore us forever!” The dragon roared. “Someday you will pay for what you’re doing here!”

“We already did,” Radley shot back, “5.5 billion times over.”

Outside, Radley closed his eyes and sucked in a breath of fresh air. For years, the air had been badly polluted from dragon flame and an extreme reduction in plant life. When the war ended, the coalitions put their combined science teams into creating massive air filters that were placed all over the world. They would clean the air until new plant life could take over. Is this what fresh air is like? It doesn’t smell like burnt wood or like something’s being cooked… it’s actually kind of nice.

“Good job in there, Sergeant Zall! For a moment, I thought we’d lost you,” Commander Miles said in a light tone.

“Sorry sir, I just… I was thinking about everything that’s happened since the dragon horde left Earth.”

“You certainly chose an interesting time to become reflective,” The commander chuckled.

“Sorry sir, it won’t happen again.”

“That’s fine. You’ve been at this longer than most, a little backward thinking is normal every now and again. Just try to save it until we’re in a little safer circumstance.”

“Yes, sir.”

Commander miles nodded, “Good. –How about you Kevin, you were all excited about getting to see some action, this everything you thought it’d be?”

Kevin frowned, “No sir…”

“No?” The commander asked, surprised.

“I joined the force to help fight canbans and raiders… I didn’t want to be assigned to the dragon core. This was kind dropped on me by command due to a lack of volunteers.”

Commander Miles nodded, “I understand, it’s not the most appealing work. Sometimes I wonder if the danger is even worth it, but it’s work that needs to be done.”

“Does it?” Kevin asked. “Do we really need to hunt down these dragons? Is it really necessary to force them to live in sectors that are cordoned off from the rest of the world? I’ve heard stories…”

Radley scoffed. His lips twisted into a menacing grimace. He’d heard people talk about dragon rights before and it always got him heated, “Have you forgotten the war that literally just ended ten years ago or how many people they wiped out?”

“No, I haven’t,” Kevin replied sternly. “But those dragons are gone. We built ships for them and they left as quickly as possible. It’s been years since then. These dragons didn’t want to fight anymore and requested amnesty, which we granted them.”

Commander Miles nodded, “Yeah and when the new government came to power, they enacted policies to protect dragons and humans. There’s still a lot of bitterness between dragons and humans, and rightly so. This is as much for the dragons’ good as it is our own.”

“You sure about that?” Kevin asked. “I mean…”

Kevin’s eyes darted between Radley and the other men. He quickly shrank back a little, “I’m sorry sir, never mind.”

“Speak your mind, Rookie,” Commander Miles said. “Tomorrow’s too late.”

“Sir, the dragons have done everything we asked them to right up until they were segregated. It was only after we pretty much banished them to the Mojave Wastelands that they began to try to find roosts elsewhere. I’ve heard of what life is like there; it’s hot, nothing grows, and finding food is difficult.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that… maybe we’re part of the problem?”

“You think humans are part of the problem…?” Radley asked in a state of disbelief. “They came here uninvited, attempted to steal our world and wipe out our entire population. After they lost the war, we did what they asked and built them a ship to get back to their own world. We should never have allowed some of them to stay here, but we put aside our differences and allowed the ones that wanted peace. Now they’re hiding outside the designated area. They should have been a lot more grateful than that!”

“But maybe if we didn’t segregate them and allowed them to interact with humans, this wouldn’t be a problem,” Kevin shot back. “We want peace, yet we continuously take rights away from others, breeding hate and resentment! How does that make us any better than them?”

Radley clenched his teeth as he ripped his helmet off and brushed back his brown hair. His cheeks felt like they were on fire as the hair on the back of his neck bristled. He had to hold himself back from striking Kevin across the face, “Watch it, Rookie! You were only old enough to experience the ass end of the war. Watch a dragon torch a shelter for children and mock them as they burned… then we’ll talk!”

Kevin fell silent and lowered his eyes. Commander Miles stepped between them and spoke with a stern voice, “That’s enough, both of you.”

Radley nodded and stepped back, “Yes, sir… Sorry, sir.”

He flashed Kevin an angry look. It was momentary so that Commander Miles wouldn’t see it, but Kevin clearly got the message. The rookie lowered his eyes and bit down on his lower lip. Neither one of them said anything else.

Commander Miles turned and began to walk back to the other group, “Radley, head back to the carrier. The relocation team should be here any minute. It’s just about time for us to go home. You look like you could use some rest. –Kevin, I want you to wait here and go with the extraction team. This will be good practice for you.”

“Yes, sir.”


I hope everyone is as excited for this one as I am! I can’t wait to introduce you to a new world of dragons!



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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 6, Chapter 6

VI

 

Lailah’s wings were extremely sore almost to the point of paralysis. Even a slight flap to keep herself level was agonizing. She struggled to stay airborne, not wanting to crash into the water. In her thousands of years, she had never learned how to swim, and doubted even the best swimmer would fair well in harsh seas with another person as dead weight.

Gilles saw her coming in. At first, he was relieved, but then he saw her erratic flying and the fact that she was not slowing down. His eyes widened as she got closer, “Men, clear the deck, look out!”

Lailah flew over the port side, dropping Aralyn’s body before crashing down herself. Gilles grabbed Aralyn and handed her to two nearby crewmen, “Get her into the cabin, make sure she is comfortable.”

The two crewmen picked her up and did as Gilles had ordered. As they disappeared from sight, Lailah hit the deck hard and rolled a couple of times until she was able to use her wings to stop herself. She lay on the deck for a few moments, badly hurt, but still conscious. Then she remembered that Baltazar was still in Paeles waiting for her.

Lailah quickly stood up, took a moment to regain her balance, and tried to spread her wings to fly back to the ruins. She began flapping and tried to run, but her legs gave out underneath her. She tried a second time, but Gilles grabbed her, “Sorry lass, I don’t think ye’ll be flying again for a while.”

“I have to,” she insisted, “Baltazar is still over there!”

Gilles quickly turned back to look at Paeles, “The captain didn’t make it out?”

“He’s still waiting for me,” Lailah yelled with tears in her eyes, “I promised him I’d come back for him. I have to go!”

Morgan looked out toward Paeles as the massive whirlwinds sucked in what was left of the city. Whole buildings had been ripped from their foundation and were now spinning in the air as they broke apart. He frowned and shook his head, “Don’t think there be anyone left for you to be keeping that promise to lass… that I don’t.”

Lailah watched helplessly as the whirlwind turned the entire area into a crater. Gilles crossed himself, “Captain…”

Tears streamed down Lailah’s cheeks, “This isn’t right. He did so much for us… too much to allow him to die this. I promised him…”

“You did everything you could,” Morgan replied, “I’m sure he doesn’t blame you. You managed to get Aralyn back here safely.”

Morgan nodded, “Aye, we’ll miss the Captain dearly, he be the best man I ever did serve under, but he loved Aralyn, and she was what was important.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” A familiar voice piped in from behind, “But then again, enough people Aralyn loves have already been lost to us. For her to accept another loss would be too much to ask.”

The entire crew looked in disbelief as a waterlogged Baltazar De La Fuente climbed over the railing on the starboard side. Gilles smiled, “Captain!”

“But how,” Lailah asked in disbelief, “I left you in the middle of the city, how were you able to escape so quickly?”

Baltazar shrugged, “Demonic creatures, haunted cities, massive whirlwinds… and even the devious mind of one Aralyn Patrisi are nothing I cannot find a way to overcome.”

Lailah chuckled a little, but still frowned, “I’m sorry Baltazar, I told you I’d come back and I didn’t.”

“It’s okay Lailah,” Baltazar replied, “I saw the way the city was collapsing around me. I knew when I handed Aralyn to you that there was no way you were going to be able to keep that promise.”

Morgan cheered, “We all should have known better! He’s Captain del la Fuente, nothing can kill him!”

Baltazar turned to Lailah, “How is Aralyn?”

“She’s fine,” Lailah replied, “She hasn’t regained consciousness, last I had seen, but she is resting comfortably in the cabin.”

As a look of relief came over Baltazar’s face, Lailah smiled, “Don’t worry, your love is much more durable than you think.”

“I know,” Baltazar replied, “In many ways, more durable than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

As the crew celebrated their captain’s return with cheers of joy, Baltazar inspected his ship now that the battle was over. There were burn marks everywhere, much of the deck railing was gone, and even a few cannons had been turned over. There was even a large hole in the deck, and one of the cabin windows has been shattered. To Baltazar’s surprise, the sails were still intact, but they were pretty much the only part of this once proud ship that had remained intact.

Baltazar shook his head and glared at his crew, “Mr. Gilles, where are you?”

Gilles stepped out of the crowd of cheering crew with a nervous look on his face, “Captain?”

Baltazar had an angry look on his face, “Mr. Gilles I did give you an order to take care of this ship did I not?”

Gilles gulped, “Yes sir…”

“Excuse me, Captain,” Morgan interjected, “But Gilles did the best he could under the circumstances…”

“I don’t believe I asked for your opinion, Mr. Morgan.” Baltazar replied.

Morgan nodded apologetically, “Aye Captain…”

“Now, Mr. Gilles,” Baltazar turned his attention back to his first mate, “What do you have to say for yourself? The condition of this ship is absolutely deplorable!”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir, I know… I did my best, but we were under heavy fire from our enemies.”

“I see.” Baltazar replied thoughtfully, “So in other words it could have been a lot worse?”

“Aye that be true,” Gilles replied.

“So then what you are saying is that you actually did a really good job under the circumstances and because of your fine work, the Black Vengeance lives to sail another day… is that what you’re saying, Mr. Gilles?” Baltazar demanded.

“Well I wouldn’t be putting it quite that way sir,” Gilles replied, “The entire crew played a part in this adventure and I be saying that because of all of our efforts, the ship was saved.”

Baltazar’s eyes looked even more enraged, “Mr. Gilles, are you now blaming the rest of the crew for this mess?”

Gilles shrugged, “Well Captain, I…”

“I should grant you all shore leave!” Baltazar yelled, “Yes, I think a few weeks of shore leave along with pain of booze and wenches should teach you a lesson about ever doing such a good job of keeping my ship afloat again! What do you think?”

Gilles scratched his head with a confused look, “Captain?”

“In fact,” Baltazar said, turning to his crew with a nearly enraged look, “Shore leave for all of you men, just to show you how much I appreciate your hard work.”

The men looked at each other not sure what to make of Baltazar’s words. After a few moments, Baltazar’s expression changed from an angry scowl to an overjoyed smile, “You men did very well today and I am very proud to be serving with the lot of you. Because of your sacrifices, Aralyn is finally safe, Legion has been defeated, and now life can finally go on!”

Baltazar turned back to Gilles, “Mr. Gilles, set course for Venice… get us to the old Patrisi residence. Once we’re there, let’s partake of the beautiful Venetian countryside before we get to work repairing the ship.”

Gilles nodded, “Venice, very good Captain!”

“Captain,” Morgan piped up from behind, “What about after the Black Vengeance be repaired?”

Baltazar looked at every crewman and smiled widely, “Then it’ll back to plundering Spanish ships!”

The entire crew cheered even louder than before as the captain crossed his arms and smiled, “On deck you worthless rats, all watches, prepare to make way, shorten and cable. Men to the yards, aloft with you! Set topsails, hands to the braces, weigh anchor, let fall the sails!”

The men scattered to follow their captain’s orders. Within minutes, the sails came down as the anchor began to break the surface. The ship slowly began to move forward as Baltazar watched from the aft castle. He took one last look at the barren area where the ruins of Paeles once stood before turning to Gilles, “Five degrees starboard then hold your course, Mr. Gilles.”

Gilles nodded, “No problem, Captain.”

“Mr. Morgan,” Baltazar called out to the main deck as the wheel began to turn, “Full sail, if you please!”

“Aye sir,” Morgan replied and turned to the men who were still aloft, “You men, full sail, get the lead out!”

The remaining sails came down and the ship picked up speed. Baltazar nodded, “Let’s get to Venetian waters.”

Gilles smiled, “Aye sir, as long as the winds hold out, it shouldn’t take too long.”



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 6, Chapter 5

V

 

The battle outside of the city had begun to die down. With the help of Lucifer’s forces, the Choirs of angels managed to push the Imp armies into full retreat. As the angels dealt with the last remnants of the imp army, Xaphine, Ariel, Roselyn, and the demon Xaphine had met earlier joined Gilles and Morgan on the deck of the Black Vengeance.

The ship sailed as close as they could to Paeles before the wind overwhelmed her sails. Several crewmen wanted to lower longboats and go find their captain, but Xaphine stood in their way, “This is something they have to do alone. This cursed land is too dangerous for humans.”

Though in her own heart, she desired to be there to help them. She still felt responsible for Legion gaining enough power to break out of the underworld and cause so much turmoil. The dishonor of knowing that Adaline’s great-great-granddaughter had to suffer for crimes that she had committed was unacceptable, but she could not interfere, she knew this.

Gilles stood by her side at the railing, “Did you know Gavreel?”

Xaphine turned to look at him, “Excuse me?”

“Gavreel,” he repeated, “Did you know her.”

She nodded, “Yes, Gavreel was a special angel amongst the Choirs. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked, but from what I’d heard about her, she was very kind hearted.”

Gilles lowered his eyes, “She died protecting me…”

“I know,” Xaphine replied, “I can feel it when one of my troops falls. It is truly a shame, but she died doing the job she loved; protecting people.”

Gilles nodded, “Yes… she said the same thing.”

The demon stood on Xaphine’s other side and spoke with a sarcastic tone, “I have a question for you ‘General,’ if it wouldn’t be too inconvenient?”

Xaphine rolled her eyes, “What is it Baʿal Zəbûb?”

“Legion is one that is many,” he replied, “One consciousness, one voice, but many minds and many forms. How do you intend that one angel should be able to defeat a creature that can take the form of as many creatures it wants?”

Xaphine smiled, “Leave that to the Choirs. Legion can’t hold multiple forms for long. It drains his energy. So we’ll wait for him to revert to single form. Once he does, our agent, Lailah, will signal us. That’s when the Choirs of angels will focus our powers together to lock him in that one form.”

“How long do you think you’ll be able to hold that,” Baʿal Zəbûb asked.

Xaphine shrugged, “Who knows… a few hours maybe? Hopefully it should be enough time for Aralyn to defeat him.”

Baʿal Zəbûb scoffed, “You’re putting an awful lot on the shoulders of a mere half-breed. Do you seriously think that this has any chance of success?”

“She may have the drawbacks of being a mortal,” Xaphine replied, “But she is far more powerful than any other single angel. When her powers manifested themselves, she was able to do incredible things with no training at all.”

Baʿal Zəbûb didn’t say anything in response. He was too deep in thought, contemplating what would happen if she did fail. Xaphine sighed, “You know… I owe you a thank you… if you hadn’t come, we probably wouldn’t be standing here now.”

Baʿal Zəbûb snorted, “I never thought I’d here that from an angel… even one who spent many years on our side.”

Xaphine smiled, “We did have some fun times together.”

“Yes we did,” Baʿal Zəbûb replied, “Before you turned on us.”

“Don’t,” Xaphine shot back, “You of all people know what Lucifer tried to do to me, after everything I sacrificed for him. After everything I did to help him, he still could not even grant one single request on my part. At that point, he proved to be no friend of mine, and I sided with the one person who had shown me unending loyalty.”

Baʿal Zəbûb nodded, “Forgive me Xaphan, I didn’t mean to sound like I was accusing you, far from it. I didn’t agree with your decision, but I understood it. You were always a fine general and I’m glad to see that after everything, the Most High was smart enough to recognize your abilities. “

“Xaphine,” She replied, “My name is Xaphine Lorenzi now.”

“Ah yes,” Baʿal Zəbûb chuckled, “So I heard… Well Xaphine, I must say, after watching you fight, it’s nice to see that your chosen allegiance hasn’t dulled your abilities at all.”

“Or yours,” Xaphine replied, “I think that, when the dust settles, Lucifer and the Most High may have a few things to discuss.”

Baʿal Zəbûb nodded, “Perhaps, once all this is over.”

*

The wind began to blow hard inside of the ruins of Paeles. Each step Aralyn took forward was met with a strong force pushing against her. She held tightly on to Baltazar’s arm as the two pressed on closer and closer. Lailah stood behind them and looked back toward the sea. She couldn’t see anything, but was hoping against hope that her people were winning the day. Overheard, she couldn’t see anymore imps, but for all she knew, they could still be there, the clouds from the whirlwind blocked her view.

Once they reached the edge of the whirlwind, Lailah stopped walking. Aralyn turned back to her, “What’s wrong?”

“This is as far as I dare go,” Lailah replied.

Aralyn shook her head, “What are you talking about, I need you, I can’t take on Legion alone!”

Lailah smiled, “You are not alone, trust me on that. I have to alert the Choirs of your progress.”

“But…” Aralyn began to protest, “I need you…”

“No you don’t,” Lailah replied, “I have already fought Legion and failed. Long have I watched over your family… and you. But you have grown into a strong young woman, and a powerful angel. You don’t need my help anymore. It’s time you stand on your own.”

Aralyn lowered her eyes, “I… I understand…”

Lailah turned to Baltazar, “You are her support now, her protector, and her love. Keep her safe.”

Baltazar nodded as he turned back to face the violent wind. Aralyn grabbed his arm once again and wrapped her own arms around it. She pressed her head against him, “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”

“I do,” Baltazar replied, “I’ve seen you handle everything else that has been thrown at you, and you have had an unreasonable amount to deal with in a short span of time. Ever after all that, here you are, still standing. If I didn’t think you were ready for this, I never would have let you come this far. I believe in you.”

Quivering, she forced a smile, and nodded, “Then I’ll do my best not to let you down.”

With a renewed sense of confidence, she drew her sword and pointed it at the vortex. The blade responded by glowing green. She looked at the blade for a moment, “You have defended my family for many years… don’t let me down.”

Aralyn sucked in a deep breath, squeezed Baltazar’s hand and stepped through the spinning winds. Baltazar stepped through at the same time and held on tight so that he would not lose her in there.

The pair was instantly surrounded by a gray fog. The wailing of Paeles and the sound of the harsh winds were gone. All that remained was low whisper that sounded muffled. Baltazar turned a couple of times to see if they could make out anything, “So now what’s the plan?”

Aralyn shrugged, “I don’t know, but standing here won’t do us any good.”

She tugged on his arm, “Come on, let’s keep going forward.”

“Okay,” Baltazar agreed hesitantly, “Just don’t let me run into any invisible walls or step off a cliff.”

Aralyn smiled, “No worries.”

She took a step forward onto the unseen surface. When she felt solid ground, she took another step and pulled Baltazar to stay with her. The two walked through what could only be described as oblivion. Their breathing and footsteps echoed as they moved like they were in a large amphitheater.

Moments later, the gray began to clear like fog being lifted. In front of them was a massive cliff that seemed to protrude slightly upward into the vortex. Aralyn and Baltazar walked cautiously out to the edge of the cliff. When Aralyn looked down, she realized that there was no bottom to this whirlwind. Looking up, she realized that there was no top either. It appeared to stretch on endlessly. Aralyn was starting to get impatient and turned to Baltazar, “Stand back.”

Baltazar nodded and moved backwards to where there was more ground underneath him. Once she was convinced he was on stable ground, Aralyn turned her attention back to the vortex. She stared upwards for a few moments before calling out, “Legion!”

Her voice was met by a hollow sigh, but no other response. She waited a second and then tried again, “Legion!”

This time the entire whirlwind shook and a deep voice answered her, “Aralyn!”

An enormous entity that could only be described as a cloud of black smog appeared in front of her. In her right hand, Aralyn’s sword glowed even brighter as she aimed it at the cloud. The entity spoke, “Aralyn… so you have finally come. We must say it took you a little longer than we expected.”

“Happy to disappoint,” Aralyn replied, “Perhaps I can do it again some time?”

The entity laughed, “You are Adaline’s descendant indeed. Unfortunately, there won’t be another time. You will not leave our vortex alive. We have finally restored ourselves to full power and do not even need you now.”

The entity paused a moment and began to shift in shape. It slowly took human form, but it was little more than a black silhouette. A pair of yellow eyes opened on the area where a face would be, “However… we could still benefit from the powers you possess. Join us, and spare yourself unceasing pain and anguish.”

Aralyn’s eyes glowed as she thrust her free hand forward. Hot beams of white light emanated from her fingertips and shot through the air towards Legion. She clenched her teeth as the beams flew, “Never, Legion, die!”

Her attack struck Legion and passed right through him. His laughter echoed through the chamber as the beams of light vanished. Aralyn placed both hands on her sword took a step back. Legion roared, “You are a fool. We tried to be generous with you and this is the insult we receive? We are many and cannot be killed so easily.”

Legion raised his right hand, “Let us show you…”

Instantly, Legion disappeared from view and Aralyn heard Baltazar’s voice behind her, “Lookout!”

She turned to see Legion standing next to her. She was quick enough to be able to deflect his attack and push him away. As quickly as he appeared, he disappeared. Aralyn had a feeling that she knew what was going on and turned around. Sure enough, Legion was standing behind her in a different form and attacked again.

Within seconds, Legion attacked her from all four sides. He would alternate when he would appear in each position and what attack he would use. Baltazar ran to her side, but the moment Legion appeared, he went flying to the back of the ledge. He tried again to reach her, but again was sent flying through the air.

The sword she had given him when they first left the Black Vengeance, glowed brightly, but he had no idea what it meant. As much as he tried, there was no way for him to reach his love and he was forced to watch as she fought through this onslaught. He continued to look for a way to get to her, but could not find a way through this invisible barrier.

Aralyn fought hard, swinging her sword in defense, but she was having a hard time keeping track. Eventually she lost track and turned the wrong way, expecting to be attacked from behind, but Legion wasn’t there. Instead she felt a blunt pain in her side. She gasped as the wind was knocked out of her. She was now unable to deflect any more attacks. Legion hit her in the back, slashed at her leg, and then connected with her cheek. Baltazar threw himself at them as blood sprayed from Aralyn’s nose. Again he was unable to reach her as she fell to the side and her head hit the ground.

Aralyn’s world suddenly went black. She wasn’t unconscious, or at least she didn’t think she was, but her eyes couldn’t detect any sign of anything. She struggled to stand up and called out, “Baltazar… “

The only response came from a blue orb that appeared in front of her. It suddenly became very bright and approached Aralyn. It became so bright that she had to block her eyes to stop the light from blinding her.

“What is this, who are you?” She demanded.

There was a sudden flash and the orb disappeared. In its place was a beautiful young woman with blond hair and blue eyes that matched Aralyn’s. In fact, she looked exactly like her. Aralyn rolled her eyes, “Legion if this is another one of your tricks…”

“Shh…” The figure replied, “I’m not Legion.”

Aralyn looked at her oddly, “Then who are you…”

“I think you know,” the figure said with a smile, “I am a part of you.”

“Then you’re Adaline, my great-great-grandmother.” Aralyn replied.

The figure nodded, “That’s right… “

“What do you want,” Aralyn demanded, “I don’t have time for this.”

Adaline frowned, “I didn’t expect such hostility from my own kin…”

“Hostility?” Aralyn scoffed, “What do you know of hostility? Because of your short-sightedness, I had to grow up trapped behind the walls of an ancient abbey, I had no parents, almost everyone I ever cared for is dead, and now it looks like I might be too! Now I am stuck with your powers and abilities and I never wanted any of this!”

“No one asks for things like this to happen,” Adaline glared back, “Do you think I asked to be kicked out of the Celestial World, or be blinded and tortured to within a mere thread of my life? Do you think I asked to have people fight and die for me and in the end watch the person who loved me the most suffer? When all was said and done, I did what I had to do to be happy and so that your great-great-grandfather would survive. I make no apologies for that and I never would. It may sound selfish, but I love Giovanni and I would have done anything in the world to be with him.”

Aralyn could see a tear in her ancestor’s eye, “I am sorry for what happened to you, but believe me, I had nothing to do with it. I’m not a member of the Choirs of Angels anymore. It was the price I paid for a mortal life. Once that life was over, I would return to the Celestial World, but I would live in paradise as a human, not an angel, so I would have no say in their workings. It was a choice I’d make over and over again.”

“What about your powers,” Aralyn demanded, “How did I get them?”

“There was no way to completely remove the angelic essence from my being,” Adaline responded, “Not even the Most High has that capability. So he removed what he could, leaving just enough to prolong my life as long as my husband lived. We didn’t know until it was too late that the remaining essence would begin to manifest itself in later generations until it manifested itself in my last descendant.”

Aralyn sighed, she didn’t like the response she received, but it was something she would need to live with, “Fine… what about those swords? What is so special about those?”

Adaline smiled, “They originally belonged to a group of Lutheran revolutionaries. We needed them to defeat a terrible threat. So we travelled to the Underworld to coat them with venom from the Eden Serpent.”

“What is an Eden Serpent?” Aralyn asked.

“Not an Eden Serpent,” Adaline replied, “The Eden Serpent, there was only ever one of them. Think back to your studies. This was the serpent that got humankind kicked out of paradise. We hunted it down, killed it, and used its venom to curse our blades. The venom infused itself into the steel and now those swords can kill an immortal as easily as a regular sword can kill a human… they have been passed down in our family, and now they belong to you….”

Adaline touched Aralyn’s chin gently, “I am very sorry this has all been put on your shoulders. If I could take your place, I would.”

“But you can’t,” Aralyn replied, “So where does that leave me, dead?”

Adaline shook her head, “No, not dead… in a perilous situation perhaps, but not dead.”

“What do I do,” Aralyn insisted, “Please, you have to tell me, if I fall, Baltazar, the crew, and the rest of existence die as well!”

Adaline smiled, “Baltazar… quite the handsome rogue you’ve taken as your lover.”

Aralyn rolled her eyes, “What of it?”

“Oh, nothing,” Adaline replied, “Legion won’t be easy to defeat. In addition to being powerful, his consciousness is made up of thousands of minds working together like a bee hive. That is how he is able to move so quickly and seemingly be in more than one place at once.”

“So what do I do?” Aralyn asked.

“If you drain some of his power, he’ll be forced to revert to his true form,” Adaline replied, “Every hive has a queen and so does he. If you can damage him enough to expose his central mind, he will be vulnerable.”

“How am I supposed to do that,” Aralyn asked,  “I couldn’t even hit him.”

“Try something unexpected,” Adaline replied, “And rely on those around you…”

Aralyn rolled her eyes, “More cryptic responses… I need more then that!”

Adaline turned and looked behind her as though someone was coming, “Our time together is at its end. I’m sorry I can’t give you more than that. Just trust the people around you.”

As she began to vanish, Adaline kissed Aralyn on the cheek, “I love you, no matter what happens, you will always be family to me. Good luck!”

Aralyn had tears in her eyes as she watched yet another member of her family vanish from in front of her face, “I… I love you too… grandma…”

Aralyn lowered her eyes as the blackness turned to gray and she suddenly returned to reality. The sharp pains from the injuries she had received at Legions hands suddenly came rushing back. She opened her eyes to see Legion standing over her with a massive black sword in his hand, ready to deliver her a killing blow. She had no way of getting out of the way in time.

Baltazar saw his love hit the floor unconscious. At that moment, he saw that some of her blood had sprayed onto the gun on his belt. Remembering what happened aboard the Black Vengeance when the angels had blessed their cannons, he pulled the pistol from his belt. Lord God in Heaven, make this work, I beg of you… He thought to himself as he performed the sign of the cross over the pistol.

Legion brought his sword down on Aralyn. He was about to deliver the final blow when he suddenly heard a thundering boom. Searing pain ran through is back and he could feel himself getting weaker. He turned to see a smoking pistol in Baltazar’s hand.

Looking down at his hip, Legion could see what looked like gold dust slowly falling from where he’d been shot. He could feel the power draining from his form as he pressed his hand against the injury and solidified his form. Baltazar could see a nose and mouth form on Legions face as his features appeared.

Outside, the whirlwind died down for a brief moment. She felt the dark powers and the malice momentarily disappear and realized that this was their only chance. Her hand glowed white as she thrust it into the air and sent a white bolt of lightning shooting into the clouds.

From the Black Vengeance, Xaphine saw the signal and turned to Ariel and Roselyn, “Move your angels into positions, form a perimeter around the city, and begin focusing your minds. Hurry now, if Legion is able to restore himself, all hope for our friends will be lost.”

The two angels immediately took flight and organized their forces. Within moments, there was a circle of hundreds of angels around Paeles. Once the circle was complete, Xaphine took flight from the deck of the ship, shot through the sky, and landed at the last open position in the circle. She took a deep and placed her right hand on her temple. Her eyes snapped shut as she focused her mind. The ground began to tremble as a low humming sound emanated from her being.

The angels on either side of her mimicked her movements as did the angels next to them. Within moments, the hum became so loud, it could be heard for miles. As their energy manifested itself, the angel’s skin began to glow white and bright beams shot from their foreheads. The energy from their focused minds struck the whirlwind and disappeared into the vortex.

Xaphine sighed, “It’s all up to those two kids now.”

*

Inside the vortex, Legion laughed as he turned his attention to Baltazar, “What were you planning on accomplishing here, boy?”

“Get away from her you freak,” Baltazar replied, “Come try that with me!”

“You,” Legion scoffed, “A simple mortal… we didn’t come all this way to be chastised by an insignificant parasite. You’re in way over your head.”

Baltazar smiled, “Ancient demons, trips to hell, ugly winged beasts… it seems like a normal day for me.”

His words made Legion laugh even harder, “Very well then, if you are so anxious to meet your end, we will oblige you.”

The sword is Legion hand spun like a wheel as he turned and attack Baltazar. Baltazar extended his blade, which was now glowing bright green and struck Legion’s. The two swords impacted with a loud clang and a flash of white light. Legion struck again with an inhuman grunt that sent chills through Baltazar’s body. The blow almost knocked the sword from his hand, but he managed to keep his grip steady.

Legion’s attacks were brutal and relentless. Baltazar could feel the sword begin to buckle under impact. The green aura began to pulse as Legion brought his sword down once more. The blade of Baltazar’s sword shattered and sent shards flying. One shard grazed Legion’s cheek. Gold dust sprinkled out of the injury as Legion quickly pressed it closed with his finger.

Baltazar looked at the remains of his sword and realized that he now had no way to defend himself or Aralyn. Legion’s right fist came around and impacted on Baltazar’s cheek. The blunt force of the impact sent Baltazar flying on his back. Legion smiled and stepped forward with his sword in front of him. Baltazar rubbed his cheek and stood back up. Legion moved closer and pointed the sword at his throat.

Baltazar backed away slowly as Legion moved forward. His feet slid back across the floor until he was right on the edge of the cliff. His eyes never left the yellow burning ones of Legion. Seeing that Baltazar had nowhere else to go, Legion brought his sword back, ready to strike.

Baltazar closed his eyes, certain he was about to die as he waited for the death blow. Legion began to bring his sword down, when he felt a sharp pain in his back. He turned to see that Aralyn had found her feet and managed to sneak up behind him. In solid form, Legion didn’t have the same abilities he’d had as an entity and was unable to sense her.

Aralyn’s eyes burned like blue fire as she glared at Legion. Her sword was glowing and pointed directed at Legion’s chest, “Your fight is with me.”

“So it is,” Legion agreed, “That suites us, we grow tired of dealing with lesser beings.”

Aralyn spread her wings and jumped over Legion, using them to elevate her out of Legion’s reach. She landed between him and Baltazar, keeping her wings spread, “Do not touch him!”

Legion spun around and brought his sword down. Aralyn parried his attack with her own sword which was glowing bright than ever before. She clenched her jaw as the two swords scrapped together. Finally, Legion pulled back a few feet. Aralyn pointed her sword at him again and stepped forward, “You’re going to pay for every single person you have hurt. Papi, Sister Mary, the crew… and my family… give them back to me Legion, give them all back!”

Legion laughed, “So you wish to kill us? That’s not a very angelic reaction.”

“No it’s not,” Aralyn replied, “But I’m not much of an angel anyway. I’m a human being.”

“A human, you say?” Legion scoffed, “The thought that someone would choose the life of a pathetic creature over a superior being… it’s actually quite troubling.”

“Enough,” Aralyn replied, “You have spent too much time in Hell. You speak of things you do not know.”

Legion nodded, “Perhaps, but once we kill you we’ll never have to find out.”

“You can try,” Aralyn replied in a calm voice, “But even if you succeed, the battle is already over and you have lost.”

“Lost huh,” Legion cackled, “Perhaps you refer to imp army that flocked to us? We could care less as to what happened to them. They were mere pawns who have served their purpose.”

Aralyn’s eyes narrowed, “What are you talking about?”

“The imps thinned the Choirs numbers down significantly when they hadn’t even full rebuilt from the celestial wars.” Legion replied, “With their numbers dwindling as much as they are, they won’t be able to stop us. We are Legion…”

“For we are many,” Aralyn interrupted, “Yes I’ve heard that before. It didn’t bother me the first time and it still doesn’t. No matter how many forms you can take, or how many copies you can summon to your control, you still do not scare me.”

“No?” Legion asked, “Let’s find out…”

Legion focused his mind and his eyes turned red. Aralyn brought her sword up in front of her face, ready to defend against Legion’s attack. Suddenly, white lights flickered around Legion, and his eyes returned to their yellow color. He looked around, confused for a moment and tried again. The lights flashed even brighter this time as Legion growled. Aralyn smiled, “The Choirs numbers may have dwindled, but there are still more than enough of them. You have already lost Legion. Surrender and God may yet show you mercy as he did once before.”

Legion shook his head, “Where was the Most High when Lucifer corrupted our lair, where was he when the creatures of Sheol were trapped and brutalized, and where was he when Lucifer brought his damned souls to dwell there? No, the Most High’s mercy doesn’t appeal to us. We know him better than anyone, he will not stop what has happened. ”

“I do not care about what happened in Hell,” Aralyn shouted, “You’re actually using your mad lust to regain the dominance you let slip away as a justification for murder?”

“I’ve heard enough,” Legion spat back, “You die now!”

Legion lunged at her with his sword. She turned to the side and parried his attack. To her surprise, he took to the air and raised himself high above the ledge where Aralyn stood. The whirlwind suddenly vanished as Aralyn flapped her wings and took flight in pursuit.

Baltazar found himself standing only a few feet away from Lailah, “What happened?”

Lailah looked up, “His powers have been diminished. He can no longer maintain his powers. She just needs to keep weakening him!”

Baltazar watched his love give chase above the smashed buildings, “Well, come on, we need to help her! She can’t take him on alone!”

“We can’t help her,” Lailah replied, “Even in his weakened state, he’s more than powerful enough to take on another angel. If we break our hold on him now, he will be able to use his powers to morph into other forms, and we may never be able to defeat him.”

“We have to do something,” Baltazar insisted.

Lailah nodded, “Believe in her and be strong for her. That is what she needs right now.”

Above the city, Aralyn chased Legion around the sky. It appeared that Legion was trying to wear her down. Aralyn did not see this and pressed her wings as hard as she could. Flying was still new to her and she struggled to keep pace. Sweat poured down her body as she increased speed.

When Legion saw that she was gaining on him, he turned around and flew back to the middle of the city. Within moments, he settled over the ledge where they had originally fought and pointed his sword at her again in order as though challenging her to try to attack him.

Aralyn was breathing heavily as she wiped the sweat from her brow. Her sword continued to glow as she charged at Legion with it pointed in front of her. Her wings were sore and she was out of breath. She decided to slow down in order to reserve her remaining strength. Her wings ached as she soared through the cool air, but she eventually reached Legion. Her teeth were clenched as she brought her sword up to strike, “This is the end for you…”

The two enemies crossed swords again. The blades sparked as they struck and slid off of one another. Aralyn realized that she couldn’t do this for too long as she was having enough trouble keeping herself in the air. She performed a somersault over Legion again and tried to stab him from behind. Legion countered her attack and turned upside down to connect his sword with hers.

Aralyn broke away and tried to come at him again with a slashing attack, but this time, Legion was ready for her. When she got close enough, he performed a spin that resulted in his foot striking her on the right cheek. He also brought his sword down on hers, shattering it.

Having no other defense, Aralyn drew upon her remaining energy and blasted Legion with a beam of light from her right hand. The beam grazed Legion shoulder and caused him to jerk backwards. The force of the energy was enough to knock Aralyn from the sky. Using her wings, she was able to slow her fall, but she was unable to stop it. She struck the ground and lie on her stomach for a second stunned. The pain shooting through her body was almost unbearable as she finally struggled to get back to her feet.

Aralyn had been badly beaten and her body was failing her, but she knew that her only choice was to keep fighting. Victory or death, she thought to herself, I won’t be able to live with myself otherwise.

With tears in her eyes, she turned to face Legion as he began a sky dive towards her, ready to deliver a killing strike. Aralyn quickly looked over at Baltazar who running to her as fast as her could, even though it was obvious that he was too far away to get to her in time. She watched her for a moment and mouthed the words ‘I’m sorry, my love.’

Aralyn immediately turned back to Legion with anger, “Die you bastard…”

She drew upon the last drop of strength she had left, outstretched her arms, and thrust both hands towards Legion. White hot beams of light flew from her fingertips and struck Legion, stopping him in his tracks. Legion’s form was thrust backwards slightly and he dropped his sword. The intensity of the blasts held Legion in place and paralyzed him.

Aralyn continued her attack, but was losing energy fast. She stumbled a couple of times, but managed to find her footing enough to keep her standing. She tensed her hands in order to push more energy into the blasts. Shooting pain passed through her hands, legs, wings, and entered her heart. Her wings spread and she screamed, “God, please don’t take me yet, it is not finished. Please, not yet!”

Her nose began bleeding again as she fought through the exhaustion and the pain. Her eyes squinted as she realized that she could not hold her arms up any longer. She began breathing heavily and was almost blinded by sweat dripping into her eyes. Her arms became extremely heavy and were ready to collapse. Aralyn closed her eyes and shook her head, “It’s no good… I’m sorry Baltazar, I can’t do it. I don’t have enough strength left.”

Suddenly, Aralyn felt an arm under her wings press against her back, holding her up and a hand grabbing her right wrist. She opened her eyes to see Baltazar standing next to her, holding her up. She breathed heavily and a look of relief came over her features as Baltazar smiled at her, “You’ve done just fine, now let me help you.”

A second hand grabbed her left wrist and held it tightly in place. Lailah whispered in her ear, “Use my strength, and finish him.”

Aralyn nodded as she drew upon Lailah’s strength and focused it through her hands. The beams of light became twice as strong as they had been before and the energy enveloped Legion in light. Legion screamed out in pain as his entire body began to burn. Aralyn began to breath heavily again and forced the last of her energy through her hands before collapsing in Baltazar’s arms.

Legion’s body had steam pouring off of it, and he was breathing heavily, but a sense of relief came over him and he smiled, “You have lost Aralyn. You are out of strength…. now there is no one to stop us from retaking the underworld…”

Aralyn looked up at Legion weakly, filled with remorse that she was unable to finish the fight. What pained her even more was that now she would have to watch as her friends die. Secretly she hoped that Legion would kill her first, but he was never that kind.

Legion was about to continue speaking when suddenly, he noticed that gold dust was flowing from his body. Unlike before, this time it was flowing upwards into the sky. Legion looked up toward the clouds frantically. His eyes turned to blue as they darted back and forth, “Master… no… You can’t take us! We won’t allow it! Leave us to complete my mission, we beg of you… no!”

Legions form continued to disintegrate into gold dust until his entire body exploded in a magnificent display of light and the remaining dust disappeared into the clouds. Aralyn sighed as she felt her body finally give out. Her eyes closed and she fell unconscious. Concerned, Lailah felt her neck and arm. After a few seconds, she nodded, “Aralyn will be ok, she just needs rest and time to heal.”

“Thank God,” Baltazar replied as he picked her up, “Let’s get her out of here.”

Suddenly, the ground began shaking under their feet. Large towers that were still standing in the city were beginning to collapse as the whirlwind began to pick up again. Baltazar looked at the city as it destroyed itself and turned to Lailah, “We have to get out of here, can you fly us out?”

Lailah shook her head, “I can’t carry two of you at once. We’d never get off the ground.”

Baltazar sighed as he handed Aralyn’s unconscious body to Lailah, “Get her out of here… get her back to the Black Vengeance.

Lailah looked at him and nodded, “Don’t worry, I’ll see to it she is safe, but I’m coming back for you. I promise.”

Baltazar nodded, “Alright, get going!”

The whirlwind became stronger as Lailah flapped her wings hard, struggling to climb into the sky. The wind picked up and grew stronger and stronger until loose stones from the wrecked buildings lifted off the ground and entered the whirlwind. Lailah dove to avoid a building that was collapsing right in front of her as she continued to fly as fast as she could to get out of Paeles.

The wind picked up even more and it felt like Lailah was about to get sucked back into the vortex. Her wings ached as she pushed harder and harder to break away. It took almost all of her energy, but after a few more hard flaps she was able to pull out of the whirlwind and get to the Black Vengeance.



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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

IV

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltazar grimaced, “Bastards…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How can you tell?” Baltazar asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And what is that?” Baltazar asked glumly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where is that?” He asked.

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

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

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

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

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



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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

III

 

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

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

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

Morgan responded, “Already done…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ariel nodded, “Understood.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

Aralyn nodded, “Agreed.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t,” she replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How do you know,” she demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



 

Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim