Ascension, Book FourCopyright © 2019 by Hayden West
I’m one of the Virtues. My job is to preside over weather events and movement of the celestial bodies. Despite my limited interaction with humans, I am drawn by this one who I witness kill a demon. From that moment on, our lives are entangled. There is more going on down here, and among my kind, than I had believed. All I know is I want him at my side through it all.
The sound of live electricity spilled through the pre-dawn light. Ominous and eerie, Omri slowed his flight. He flew this path every morning, time just for him before his daily duties took precedence. This place had always been devoid of humans, and that had been part of the draw for him.
He didn’t hate humans—it wasn’t part of his make up to do so—he had been created to protect them, but he didn’t really think much about them. They were something to keep safe, not more than that.
The sound still slowed him up and he flared out his wings, slowing his movement through the lightening sky. Humans used electricity, so if he was hearing it, chances were a human was in this place. The location wasn’t the easiest to reach, so that begged the question what had brought them here and what were they doing here?
The low moan of pain he heard in between the buzzing had him cocking his head to the side before the sound vanished.
This isn’t right.
However, with all the strange and deadly things that had been found around them and his kind, he was not certain he wanted to know the truth. Yet who he was wouldn’t allow him to just continue on his way without at least checking it out.
He didn’t land but hid himself, should there actually be a human there, and flew closer to the origin of the sound. The charged air brushed along his skin even before he could fully see what he was flying into. His hair and his feathers tingled from the power emanating from the source.
It pulsed through the air, pushing beneath his skin and into the flesh. He gritted his teeth.
Nothing of this earth can do this without a machine of sorts to keep this up so consistently.
Ignoring the discomfort that moved through him, he pressed on. It wasn’t pain, he’d had worse. The hum grew louder and the area lighter. As he walked around a large stone outcropping, he drew back with a sharp hiss.
A writhing ball of electricity sat there, the sound suddenly near deafening as the power flashed along him, tearing where it hit. He lunged back, flaring out his wings and taking to the sky, just enough to remove himself from the immediate danger that was there.
Not man made. No way.
The main and most concerning bit of what sat before him was that he could make out a figure of someone within the inner circle.
If it was like that for me getting close on the outside, what pain they must be enduring in there.
He couldn’t leave them to face this alone, whoever it was. As one who had power to preside over weather events, including the wind, he called upon that power now, creating a vortex of spinning air around him to hopefully deflect the voltage.
While not perfect, it did enough he could move closer. Squinting his eyes, he struggled to peer through to the one lying there. His heart caught when he spied the pale green feathers of a wing, lying lifeless there, already turning black from electrocution.
His breathing seized, and he roared with fury, pushing out, utilizing all the power within him and calling upon the wind to remove the electricity. It worked, for the ball shattered like someone took a hammer to a glass dome.
Gulping deep breaths of air, he landed by the slumped body. Taking a swift glance over the one lying there, he shook his head as his gaze landed on the infinity mark on the back of his neck, the one that only the Seraphim bore to identify them to the others in the orders.
As he personally was a Virtue he had the arm gauntlets with four chevrons pointing down. They were black with a deep purple outlining each chevron. All the Virtues had them, they weren’t ever removed. He wasn’t entirely sure they could be, hadn’t tried. When he drew on his power, the marks themselves tended to take on one of four colors—red, brown, blue, and white—although the purple outline remained.
Please. I have a Seraphim here who was killed. He shot his cry along the shared network for all in the orders.
Seconds later, he winced from the brutal answering push into his mind. Nothing was said, but he didn’t need them to speak. He was aware of what was happening; they were sussing out his location as they headed for him. Grinding his teeth against the increasing pressure, he continued with the wind to ensure that nothing came back to slam into the Seraphim once more. He wasn’t aware of who this was.
Even the man’s pale skin was tinged with black in spots. Omri’s heart broke; this wasn’t what was supposed to bring them down.
He thought over the past few months and all the things that had been going on. Most recently was the one who had been found impaled on Gabriel’s trumpet on a statue. Someone or multiple someones were out after them, and it wasn’t an issue of what order you were in or what you were, this was across the board. And those among them who were the fighters were becoming unsettled.
Omri had seen it as he tried to remain under the radar and continue doing his job. He was a loner, always had been.
He lifted his head as he remained kneeling by the dead Seraphim. They were coming. One second there was nothing, the next the sky had filled with winged beings. Six of them.
From this distance, he picked out one Domination, courtesy of her blood-red wings. One Virtue, the gauntlets gave him away. The Principality distinguished by the snow-white hair on her head. The other three, he wasn’t sure.
Not true. One he was. Danijel. The Power who had silver wings, a feature that he’d never seen before in anyone else. The imposing black male had dark brown dreads containing golden streaks and used a chain in battle. Even had he not been able to see his face, the wings would have given it away.
If rumors were true, the redhead with the dark grey wings on his right side would most likely be Demuri as they oft traveled and fought side by side. The third, he wasn’t sure, but also most likely a Power given the shield and spear.
They landed around him without a single word, or sound. He had been correct, the third was also a Power, and his golden eyes shone down at Omri, as the Power made the spear and shield vanish. Short dark brown hair, spiky in a way as it stood out from his head, tan skin, and were he looking and interested, a cleft in his chin.
“Step away, we have this.”
Held prisoner by the golden eyes, he nodded before rising and doing as he’d been ordered. The being watching him waited until Omri dropped his gaze then he replaced him, dropping down to his knees and reaching for the Seraphim lying there without a pulse any longer.
“Come over here, Omri.”
Angling his head toward the female with the blood-red wings, he swallowed and headed in her direction. He stared at her, the early morning sun gleaming off her dusky skin. The melted chocolate hair confined in a tight braid to fall down her back.
“I’m Faiza. The one who was by you is Zelus, over there is Demuri and Danijel, the other two Powers. Baak is a Virtue like you, and Pihla is the Principality.”
His mind whirled. They didn’t usually hang out together like this, so the stuff he’d been hearing must have been worse than they were allowing out to be public knowledge. Although when he’d been there for the body Rao had found, his suspicions were up already.
“Did he say anything?”
Her voice was calm and almost soothing, yet even so he didn’t ignore, couldn’t really, the strength and near compulsion that reverberated through it. And Dominations were the ones Virtues took orders from directly.
“No, when I got here, he was like this.” A shrug. “Sort of.”
She arched a finely plucked brow. “Sort of?” She shifted toward him, more of a glide of silk. Those blood-red feathers shone brilliantly in the sun as it crested the horizon.
There wasn’t anything calming or remotely gentle about that deep rasp, it exuded power on a level he’d never known before. In his periphery he spied the one named Danijel moving to his side.
It took three swallows before he had enough moisture in his throat to talk.
“I was flying like I do before I start my day and I heard the hum, buzzing of electricity. It threw me because humans aren’t up here and they are the ones who carry those devices to give off that subtle sound. However, this time it wasn’t subtle, it was loud and unending. No up and down flux of the power, just one consistent stream of energy.”
“What was the scene you came to?”
The question came from the Power still beside the dead Seraphim, Zelus.
He mulled over the words, trying to figure the best way to describe what he had been witness to upon his arrival.
“If I had to describe it, it would have been a ball or dome of electricity around him. Heavy and bordering on painful for me the closer I got. I didn’t know it was a Seraphim immediately, I didn’t even make out the wings for a moment. When I realized I did see feathered wings, I rushed in.”
The air shifted, and four more beings appeared, three Cheribum noted by the shaved heads and the beaded pattern on their skulls, another Virtue, one he knew who was called Loic, and another Power that he knew, Elexus.
Loic dipped his head in silent acknowledgement as he, along with the three Cheribum, positioned the Seraphim’s body on a transport and carried him away into the morning sky. Elexus stayed, his sharp gaze skimming the entire group.
“Continue,” Zelus said, moving closer along with the others.
Looking at the seven beings around him, he loosely clasped his hands before him and got to telling them how it felt when he arrived and how he’d eventually removed the pulse from around the fallen.