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Mister Arrow's Landing

Mister Arrow realized he must’ve passed out when he suddenly became aware of the air roaring by him and saw glimpses of the ground between the clouds. The Arrow luck was holding true to form. He could’ve stayed unconscious and never felt the moment of impact, but now it seemed he was going to take a record setting high dive into a pool of molten rock. Volcanoes belched fire and clouds of ash on each side of the pool of lava while pouring rivers of red fire into the pool. Distant explosions and rumblings reached his ears and the air around him became heated and ash filled. The pool disappeared behind the ash clouds. About thirty seconds. He thought. And then it’s over.

He never saw the red-talon hand that grabbed his collar and arrested his fall. He was jerked back into the clear sky where he gaped in amazement at the red-chested creature who held him contemptuously at arm’s length. Great purple wings like sheets of leather beat the air and a long hairless tail ending in a spear point whipped the air behind the thing who stared back at him with a black-haired, red-skinned face with horns on its forehead like a demon. The creature was obviously a male which its black pants did nothing to obscure. Its black eyes were almond-shaped and had slits which glowed bright red. It had very businesslike teeth and its pointed chin ended in a spike of a beard. In its other hand it waved a long sword.

Mister Arrow drew himself up. One might as well be brave in facing the last moment. “Thank you for the rescue, Sir.”

“No rescue intended, meat.” The creature hissed. “Die!” The sword came around in a whistling arc.

But before the sword could connect a shrill scream split the air and a long spear with a glistening black obsidian head plunged through the creature’s chest driven by the diving force of another purple-winged creature with a single white stripe running the length of its wings. His captor screamed and Mister Arrow was flung away by the impact. “Not a way to go.” He thought. “Fought over like a steak in a wolf pack.”

He fell out of the cloud of ash and saw the boiling, red pool below him. There was a thunderclap of sound above and he looked up to see the demon with the white streak on its wings diving at him with its arms stretched out. The wings beat once again, very hard, and he heard the thunderclap again and then the demon was upon him. Strong arms grabbed him under the arm pits and there was a third thunderclap and they jerked to a stop. He looked up and for a brief moment saw this one had long, flowing black hair and no beard. The wings smashed together in another thunderclap and they were shooting upward again. They leveled out and then the demon plunged towards one of the smoking volcanoes. Behind them came faint curses as several other winged demons rose through the clouds in pursuit.

There were three more thunderclaps of the wings and then they were diving towards the side of the mountain with shear rock walls rushing up at them. The other demons were closing the distance when with a backwards clap of its wings his rescuer plunged into the mouth of a cavern in the side of the cliff and let go of Mister Arrow so that he rolled part way down the passage. The demon whirled with its spear and stabbed upward as with a thunderclap a black shape filled the mouth of the cave. There was a scream and the opening was no longer blocked. His rescuer stood there with the spear ready but there were no more takers. Shouting curses the other demons went off in search of easier prey.

Mister Arrow scuttled backwards as the sunlight was blocked by the body of the demon turning towards him. Was this how it would end? Torn to pieces for a demon’s dinner? The lava pool would’ve been cleaner and quicker. His back hit the cave wall and he could go no further. He began to make out details as the demon approached and suddenly he realized his captor was a she. Her face was beautiful, framed with long, black, curling tresses, and then she smiled, revealing teeth with only small points and not the fangs of his other captor. “Don’t be afraid.” Her voice was gentle and soft. Her talons withdrew back into the skin of her fingers and her smooth hand gently touched his cheek. “Are you all right?”

At his nod, she clapped her hands together. “At last! Someone from the outside world! Someone whom I can talk to.” She paused and frowned as she looked closer, taking in his almost swollen-shut left eye and the numerous bruises covering his face. She hissed in anger. “You’re not all right. Someone has beaten you!” She turned and rummaged in a chest on the wall and came back with a roll of cloth and a bottle with a red cross on its side. “Let me get at those wounds and see if I can relieve your pain.”

“Who are you?” He whispered. “Why are you doing this?”

She paused as she uncorked the bottle and lowered her eyes. “I am the most cursed demon in this place of everlasting torment because I care about others and as a result every demon’s hand is turned against me. As to why I do it?” She sighed. “I was born different and disowned by my family when I wouldn’t join them in their savagery. I just believe we are meant to be more than savages.” She leaned forward with the soaked cloth. “I’m sorry, but this is going to hurt a lot.”

As she pressed the cloth against his wounds he had to grit his teeth to keep from crying out, but then he noticed that where the cloth touched, the pain faded. She sat back on her heels. “Can you remove your shirt? Or do you want me to do it?”

“I’ll do it.” He replied but by the time he got around to removing his right arm from its sleeve he cried out in pain.

She stopped him and using a single extended talon she cut the shirt away from him. As he leaned back she again applied the compress and the waves of pain subsided. As she finished and put the bottle away with the cloth, he managed to gasp out. “Thank you.”

She smiled at him. “That is a word you rarely hear here. After you’ve rested I want to hear what is happening beyond this world of fire and ash. No one has come here for a long, long time.”

His mother had always driven politeness into him and he told her. “Again I thank you, Miss. My name is Johnny Arrow. By what name should I call you?”

She sighed. “Some of the names the others call me you would not want to hear. At least those others I saved before you came did not want to hear them. There is one the demons call me in derision that the others from the outside thought suited me.” She smiled at him and her face was transformed. “You may call me Angel.”

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