Vaul kneels before me, the gold plate of his armor glittering in the light of the chandelier. I attempt to veil the coil of my lips with my black curly hair hanging over my shoulder, disregarding his presence long enough to sign the clipboard held out in front of me.
There is to be a wedding today in our ballroom for a well-respected human and I wish nothing more than to see its effects personally. The late happenings of last night have already been deleted from my mind. Forgetting Tymician is as easily done as washing my hands.
Guards stand on either side of Vaul and from the look upon Amato’s face, something interesting has happened. I flick my hand, empting the room of human servants. It takes but a moment for the doors to shut.
“What is this interruption, sir?”
Hikmah Elder Amato bows with fingers pressed to his forehead and hastily goes about soothing the black bangs of his hair, “Forgive me, Madam Isis but I am obligated to bring this to your attention. It is about the man Howard Johnson.”
I mindlessly take a seat resting my chin against my fingers as I observe him with tedious apathy.
Amato stutters, quickening the process. “We’ve connected him to another name. The car we found was under the name Michael Morgan who was a foot doctor in Florida. It was located in Philadelphia where he found multiple identities and social securities.”
“Then you were right to assume he is not who he says he is.”
He smiles brightly upon my praise.
“Who is he?”
The happiness drops quickly and Amato runs his fingers through his oily black hair, “We. We aren’t sure yet, Madam.”
I scratch my brow, silent in my displeasure. I point to Vaul. “Why have you brought this Shini before me?” I notice Vaul flinches upon the utter disrespect. He should know better by now. To shun any portion of God is to shun God entirely. The Shini are not a whole step away from Fallen.
Vaul is as old as I am but he claims neither the title nor the power of an Erelim Elder. He is a soldier deemed unworthy of such a role. I manage to fight the Darkness without abandoning Heaven. I do not need to massacre Voids in order to do it, either.
Amato explains sparingly, “My Lord Vaul has done a disservice.”
Vaul cuts off Amato. “I will speak if that is acceptable.” He daringly glances up, catching my gaze.
I contemplate it. My eyes roam over the hollow dangling at his neck.
In my hotel, untethered Souls like Shini and Voids cannot access these grounds without proper support. Shrouds deny them and I have a Shroud on every level and within every two hundred feet of my home.
It depletes him, cuts his strength in half but that doesn’t bother me in the least. Whatever I can do to make him as uncomfortable as possible will make this day better.
I flick my hand, allowing him to stand.
He abruptly starts, “Vetalas came into my city--”
“My city.” I correct nippily and loudly.
He concedes, bowing his head. “Vetalas came into Philadelphia late last night. They were attacking an Angel. As is my duty, I protected him. I see no disservice in that, Madam.”
Amato scoffs indignantly. “You tell only half-truths--”
“For someone who wasn’t there, you seem to know an abundance, my lord.”
I hold up a hand before Amato can counter. “You are swift to defend yourself. There is guilt on your conscience that much is obvious. What is it that you are keeping from me?”
His green eyes drop, tongue-tied.
Amato is willing to enlighten me. “He abetted in our fugitive’s escape. For whatever reason, he warned him of our coming, secured a car for him, and destroyed all the security tapes that would help us figure out which direction they traveled and in what they traveled.”
I am engrossed. It is the first in a long while I have shown attention to any detail. I rest my chin in my palm completely intrigued, “Whatever for?” A smile pecks at the corners of my lips, driven by wicked legends of betrayal and hidden untold tales.
Vaul may be a disgusting breed but he has persistently been loyal. For him suddenly to turn his back on the Council is completely unlike him. I have waited for a moment to shun him from my clan but without viable cause, the Elders would certainly not agree.
Vaul answers boldly. “Tymician fought the Sins.”
My smile fades. This is not the gossip I wished for. “How do you suppose?”
“It is what the Angel told me. He was there.”
“And you did not believe it necessary for us to investigate the situation further?”
He clenches his teeth, deciding his words, careful of the ground he walks. “I wish to report to Erelim Elder Dane Monte.”
My eyes narrow at the obvious insult. He does not trust me with the information he holds. There is rumor that my dedication to God is as insalubrious as Anna Martholow. They think I am more wicked than an Angel should be capable of being. While it is true that I would do nearly anything for my Lord Father, I would never mar my Soul. Already I am superior to the creature that stands here and judges me.
Amato is hesitant but with the silence, it shoves him out the door with the multiple guards.
I get to my feet and stop in front of Vaul. He and I are equal in height though his body width is nearly double. It reminds me of Dion. The armor is only slightly different but the shape of his muscle is relatively the same. The tanning of his skin, the sleek shine from sweat, and the numerous scars that pluck in various places, all resemble my Soul Mate.
Vaul’s eyes lighten as he pleads, “The issue is delicate. I meant no disrespect, Isis.”
He speaks my name as an equal. It boils my blood that he believes because we have some irrelevant history that we are peers. I thought four thousand years of treating him like dirt beneath my shoe proved what history meant to me.
“You will explain to me the situation and I will deem whether the exalted Dane Monte must be bothered.”
Vaul sets his glare, unhappy with my resolve. There is little he can do. Dane is protected well and there is no one capable of gaining access to him without my allowance.
“There was a girl with him.”
I am positive it is the girl Tymician had been seen with at the restaurant. There are only whispers of her existence but it must be her. She is riding with the fake Howard Johnson, who is now supposedly an Angel.
He doesn’t continue. His hesitation is vexing.
“What about her?” I goad.
His muscles twitch. It is a characteristic that Dion does, I can’t help but notice. “She isn’t normal. She appears Fallen but her Light is seamless. I can’t sense it and yet, it’s strong. I have never seen anything like it.” He speaks as if struck by some awe-inspiring sight. It is odd to hear a tone from a man usually harsh and cold. His eyes are bright as he looks up, “It was amazing.”
“What you speak,” I grit my teeth, “is blasphemy.”
He straightens, the spark dying in his orbs.
“You let this mutant female pass? Shall we hold a conference or shall I save you the embarrassment and allow you to leave the Council on your own?”
“Isis, something is going on. Vetalas are chasing this Newborn. The Sins are seeking that girl. You know what would have happened if the Ruling gets involved--”
“Now you insult the Ruling? They are devout soldiers living only for the sake of God. Are there no bounds to your misdeeds?” I pull as he reaches for me, “Save me from your impious talk. Leave before I force my hand.”
Disappointment shines readily in his gaze. “You know as well as I do the evil that resides in the Ruling. This is not a time for your games--”
He tightly clamps his lips. His green eyes flick over my face as if hoping I’ll change my mind. He is foolish to believe he has that power. He backs away and flings himself out of the room.
I roughly sit. I know very well that Vaul did the right thing but he reminds me too much of Dion and I hate him for it.
The Ruling is not as moral as they seem. They are designed for the sole purpose of Angel and Fallen law structure. They rid Earth of evil and punish those that go against their rigorous laws. They have not changed in five thousand years and that is the problem. Earth has changed. Angels and Fallen have adapted to new advancements and have integrated themselves into the world. It is impossible to live on Earth for as long as we have and not become a part of the human race.
The Ruling blames each breed for nearly all tragedies that befall Earth. We pay them monthly thousands of dollars for plane crashes, murders, crimes, and terrorism. There is no end to the fault. On top of that, we are constantly being watched by the black suits, who wait in the shadows for us to make a mistake. It is why I am confused that Tymician’s debacle is not on their radar.
There is something going on. Vaul is more than accurate.
The door pushes open and I jump up, my heart hastening. I pant meeting the sight of a guard, startled at my own shock. He apologizes quickly for frightening me. I could drive a knife into his skull. There is nothing of Earth material that can scare me. I set a scowl, inquiring about his arrival.
“Fallen have been brought to the hotel, Madam.”
“Fallen?” My surprise echoes the empty ballroom. “Well, what for?” He hasn’t an answer and it only infuriates me, “Have them wait in the dining hall. Get me Matthias.”
I weave my way through different hallways, coming out a side panel. I designed this hotel with multiple access points and hidden exits. I take great strides to protect my Soul. It would be utterly pointless if someone snuck up on me after I lived nine thousand years.
My heels clip against the marble of the upper floor until I lean against the gold and silver railing.
I expected Fallen to accuse me of harboring Tymician. Dion has done it already, hours before the news broke. I did not however expect any to have the gall to enter my domain. Especially children.
Three Fallen sit at a round table with glasses of water untouched before them, glancing around as if they have never seen such expansive dine ware before. The sight of it brings great humor. I will make them regret their egoistic plight.
Matthias joins me at the railing, peering as I am at our new guests.
I lean into him, “Who do you think they are?”
“They say they are part of Kio’s forensics team. It is the reason they have permission to come into the territory with such ease.” He dislikes them as much as me. It warms my chest.
“They must know how silly that cover is. The eldest is barely over two thousand years old.”
“It has gotten them this far. Apparently, I need to talk with border patrol. Forgive them their mistakes, Isis. I won’t let it happen again.”
My fingers dance on his forearm, “I trust you.”
“Let me deal with them.”
“No.” I pull away, fixing my hair. “It will entertain me. Besides, I don’t want any more foolish Fallen thinking they can come here and demand anything from me. Let them be the example.”
“As you will it. Do not do anything dangerous. They are children. If they report you to their Elders--”
“Their Elders, I presume are too busy picking a proper replacement. I believe, Matthias, that Kio, is ripe for the plucking.”
Matthias shifts his gaze to me and notices the playful glint in my eye. “Those are risky words, Isis.”
I shrug flirtatiously. “I must go now and make myself presentable.” I may already look a queen, but a little touch up never hurt. Whatever I can do to make these silly little children wait a bit longer in their intrepidation.
The second floor are my private quarters and I walk the length of the hallway, eyeing paintings and light fixtures, searching for any poor care. I manage this expensive property the same way I regard my own body. Every little nitch is flawless.
Pounding footsteps come barreling down the hallway and I steal my eyes away from a light fixture to find Tessa sprinting toward me. My gaze is wide and I step aside to allow her some access as she barrels by. “Hi, Isis! Bye Isis!”
I squeeze out a laugh, “Where are you off to?”
She spins around, jogging backward, “Rumor is there’s Fallen in the foyer.” Her eyes are bright and sparkling, cheeks red as she puffs, “I’ve never met a Fallen.”
I instantly shake my head, raising a hand, bidding her back. “I won’t allow it. Come help me do my hair.”
Tessa deflates, staying where she is by the exit, pleading with a pout lip. It does nothing to sway me as I wait for her to follow my order. She attempts to goad with pleading words but I stay firm and eventually she pounds her feet down the hallway and enters my room with slumped shoulders, overdramatic and pathetic.
“I never get to do anything.” She curls on the couch with her head buried in the pillows.
I sit beside her, my fingers twirling in her short hair. I scoff at this. I give her anything she wants. She is as a daughter to me and I dote on her far more than I should and far more than is healthy. But she is wrong in her statement and I justify my actions but pointing them out to her. She wished to go to school and so she does. She travels by limo and brought to the City College of New York, a place where only Humans and Angels attend. She is supervised and brought immediately back when she finishes. She desired a job and she is thus a server at the restaurant on the bottom level. When she wishes to shop, the Manhattan Mall is always at her convenience. It is under our jurisdiction. Fallen keep a twenty-mile radius from my hotel. But there are always dangers. If rumor exceeds this hotel on how much I adore her, sooner or later evil will come for her, simply to get to me. I cannot have her simply walking around.
I eventually coax her out of the tantrum and she brushes my hair, ranting on about something that the boys have done this time. She is constantly sought after by the men in our clan. She is a desirable woman despite her immature nature. She is an attractive female if only she would grow up and hold herself as an adult. I however, will her only to stay as she is. I quickly tell her so. She wraps her arms tight around me and I kiss her cheek with my adoration.
“Now, stay out of sight, do you understand? If I find you downstairs, I will ground you.”
She scoffs and folds her arms. “You can’t ground me.”
“Do you want to find out?”
I pace myself arriving to the private sector of the hotel’s restaurant. I order a beverage that I won’t drink and after it sits upon the table for a few minutes melting I wave my hand, telling the waiter to bring them in.
Power is about appearance. I have rarely ever used the weight of my Soul against another being and yet I am feared. I have never killed and there are no scars upon my Soul. Why do people cower when they see me? It is the belief that I can do whatever I desire and get away with it.
Stepping through the doors, the Fallen nervously fidget as they awkwardly make their way forward. Though their human bodies range from twenty to thirty years of age, I am quite aware of their true age. The only one that I pay any attention to stands at the forefront.
A pureblooded Irishman is a refreshing sight but I am humorously boggled by his miniature physique. It’s as if his upper body continue to widen while the rest of him forgot to heighten. It’s funny how stunted he is.
They know enough to drop to a knee, bowing their heads low with fists pressed flat to the ground. It is a sign of surrender to one’s strength, the appropriate response to this situation. I smirk, lifting my beverage to my lips to stop myself from laughing. “Come for absolution?”
Rising to their feet, the leader of this misfit crew speaks. “We came to speak to you about Tymician’s absence, Madam.”
He is bold, I give him that much.
“We were hoping you could help us.”
“Tymician is as lost to us as he is to you.” I bat a hand and my guards are ready to lead them away.
“No, that’s not what--.”
I sigh bubbling with frustration.
“Madam, we simply need a moment of your time, if you could spare it.”
He understands protocol and tries vehemently to keep respect blooming while he seethes underneath. I wonder how I can get him to explode, if only to have them arrested for the fun of it.
“You see, we’ve been to the apartment. Aside from the destruction, there wasn’t much to go on. We were hoping you would give us some information. No one seems to be willing to help.”
I smile warmly, “I’m sorry, sirs. I will help you.”
He grins and glances to his friends, “You will? That would be wonderful.”
“Of course I will. Forsake Satan and rejoin our Lord Father and I will gladly help you in your quest.” Just as Tessa, he deflates. Children will always be children.
I am surprised when I see anger spark in his gaze. It gets me interested and I watch wondering just what he will do. Will he remember that he and I are in opposing clans and that I will have justification to go to his leaders and get him expelled should he overstep his boundaries?
“Madam Isis,” His voice, hard and full of authority, perks up my eyebrows. “Erelim Elder Tymician is my leader and a prominent figure in this world. Should you know something about his whereabouts and keep them from Kio, I will have cause to report such tidings to the Ruling.”
I lean back in my chair. Have I just been threatened?
“Now I have asked numerous members of your organization and they have all denied me information. I have come directly to you and have treated you with the utmost respect you deserve and I will continue to do so but Kio deserves answers. Tymician is missing that much is clear but there is another that we are ardently seeking that we believe is still on the Earth plane. She was travelling with him. We think she might be with the man from the apartment. It is important that we find her.”
Do they know about the irregularity of her Soul? What if they are after her because of it? If Vaul is right and the Sins desire her, then the Fallen might desire her as well.
I have to be the one to find her first. If only for God, of course.
I lean forward, capturing his navy eyes, “Who are you? You obviously think you are of some importance if you have the audacity to be standing in front of me as you are.”
He is hesitant but to lie to an Angel is beyond his conscious. “My name is Felix, I am Second in command of Kio, Madam.”
A laugh escapes and I am quick to clamp my lips, hiding it behind a soft hand.
He bows his head, his muscles rigid and I’m sure if blood circulated in his veins his face would be red from his rage.
“I’m sorry,” I force swallowing my building merriment, “I wasn’t aware Kio had an Heir. Never would I have imagined someone of your…class.”
“Hey--” The mask man on his left begins before Felix quickly shuts him down.
I gaze upon them for several moments, allowing the tension to build up, allowing their thoughts to brew. “A leader has complete control over his men. I don’t expect someone so inexperienced to know that yet.” I stand, my fingertips resting on the tablecloth. “I know nothing of your missing girl and know little else than you of Tymician. He fought and lost. He will be missed. As for you and I, my lord Felix, our paths may cross sooner than you think. I would be very careful on who you threaten when you are so far from home and with such little company. Return to your clan, no doubt it needs a very concerned hand considering.”
I hasten to the exit. Dion’s visit last night had not been only in search of Tymician. I am certain now he had been after the girl as well. It makes me wonder what was Tymician doing with her? If she is so special, why hadn’t he given her to the Darkness? Could he have been trying to save her? I could believe, perhaps, if he hadn’t left her with such a weak Angel as the one we are chasing now.
There are multiple places to hide on Earth. Places he himself created. There are a number of creatures on this planet that have powerful Souls; Dane and I included. The reason that those people and we stay alive is because of intricate levels of design to keep us safe. Tymician knew all about this.
He was careless. If she dies, the blame can be put only upon his shoulders.
I find Vaul standing upon my private exit. He had no doubt gone to the Elder section to bid his final goodbye and was about to leave. There is criticism in his gaze and I glare back at him, “What?”
“Why lie?” He’s cold now after my cruel dismissal. “Why fear children?”
I look back at the three of them talking to one another in the middle of the dining hall. “I do not see children. I see the devil’s playthings. I do not expect one so close to Darkness to see things clearly.”