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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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 2

II

 

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

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

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

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

Aralyn nodded, “Yes, thank you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He shook his head, “I…”

“What Baltazar,” she insisted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why not,” Lailah asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened to them,” Aralyn asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir!”

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

*

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

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

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

Morgan nodded glumly, “Aye…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is it then?” Baltazar asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your mistakes?” Aralyn asked, surprised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltazar nodded, “That much is true.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We are,” Morgan replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aralyn nodded, “I figured it would be…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For Papi, for Melchior,” Morgan added.

Baltazar smiled, “For you Aralyn.”

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

“For Piero…” Xaphine whispered softly.

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

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

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

“Anything for you,” He replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltazar nodded, “And you also, General.”

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

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

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

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



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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

Book 6

Angel’s Tyre

I

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aralyn nodded, “My pleasure, gentle sir.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aralyn raised her eyebrow in response, “Really?”

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

“I think I understand.” Aralyn replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aralyn smiled, “How unfortunate for you!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aralyn screamed, “Papi, no!”

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

Baltazar looked at her worried, “Aralyn…?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She nodded, “Yes, I’m here.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” He asked.

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

“What happened to that angel?” Baltazar demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Beg pardon?” Lailah asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Her eyes?” Lailah asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The red eyes?” Lailah asked softly.

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

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

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

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

“You are her last hope.” Lailah replied.

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

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

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



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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

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

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Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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

V

 

“Captain, wake up!” A voice called.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltazar nodded, “Keep trying.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Papi crossed his arms, “But?”

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

“So what happened?” Baltazar demanded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baltazar dropped the glass, “Corsairs…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morgan nodded, “Fire everything!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lailah struggled against her, “Aralyn… please…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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

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Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim