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Chapter Two

“Can you please slow down?!” Tiff screeched as Lydia sped down the highway. “You’re going to kill us!” The Nephilim woman was driving at almost fifty kilometres over the regular speed limit, which was terrifyingly fast considering the speed limit was only one hundred kilometres per hour. We had left the Nephilim Council Mansion almost half an hour ago, and Lydia had been speeding the entire time… and had also informed us that we were going to be on the road for at least four hours if we drove at the appropriate speed limits. I didn’t know what I wanted more; to drive safely or to reach the destination quickly. It was crystal clear that Lydia wanted to get to our destination as soon as possible.

It was also just as glaringly obvious, however, what Tiff preferred: safe driving.

“Relax, Tiff,” Lydia said soothingly, not slowing down at all and merely glancing in the driver’s side mirror. “I won’t crash the car. I have done this many a time before, and one of the people I am taking you to drives a lot worse than I do.” She shook her head. “Perhaps, if I explained why I was taking you to these people, it would remove your worries about my driving?” Her eyes flickered over, back at Tiff, who frowned and nodded. This made Lydia sigh and lean back in the chair, but she kept to her word, saying, “I am part of a special group of people who are… different… from most. We’re an assortment of Nephilim, Humans, and… other… alike.” She looked at the mirror again, frowning briefly before continuing. “All of us are… special, in some way. But that is only part of the reason I am taking you to them.” She deliberated in some parts of her briefing, as if she was hesitant, or trying to word in a particular way.

“What’s the other part, then?” I asked, biting my lip nervously as I looked at the Council agent. Tiff and I were both sitting in the back seat, which allowed me to lean my forearms on the back of the passenger side seat.

Lydia sighed. “We have reason to suspect that a rogue Demon is planning to massacre the Human race again, and we’ve been attempting to stop that from happening.”

“Again?” The curiosity and confusion was clear in Tiff’s voice, and I frowned as I recalled that I’d never actually informed her about the first massacre of the Human race. “What do you mean, ‘again’?”

“You haven’t been informed?” Lydia asked as her eyes darted in my direction, just as confused as Tiff. Once my Human friend had shaken her head, Lydia sighed and said, “That makes things slightly difficult…”

“I’ll explain,” I said quickly, before turning to Tiff. As she turned to me, I leaned back into the chair, crossed my arms, and said, “Okay, crash course.” I frowned, not really wanting to tell her, but I had no choice. She needed to know. “The Humans, after the Nephilim Massacre at the hands of the first Archangel, were massacred by a rogue Demon who was bitter after his Nephilim daughter was killed.” I paused, gauging Tiff’s reaction – which was, understandably, shock – before I continued with, “Nearly all Humans were massacred… except for two.” I didn’t see the bemused look I was given from Lydia in response to my explanation.

“Can I guess who those two survivors are?” Tiff asked, and I stared at her peculiarly before nodding. She grinned, looking pretty confident about her answer, and said, “The two survivors were Adam and Eve.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, I couldn’t help but grin and nod. “Correct. Adam and Eve were the only two survivors of the Human ‘extermination’.” I used air-quotes as I spoke, mainly because it was a term used primarily by Nephilim, but it was the only way I could explain it to Tiff.

I didn’t get to say anything else, because the minute I opened my mouth to say more, Lydia interrupted me with, “We’re being tailed.”

“Wh-What?” Tiff choked, her eyes widening in fear. “By who?”

Lydia checked the side-view mirror again, and scowled as the rev of a motorcycle engine filled my ears. “Nala. We’re being tailed by the Nephilim Council’s best Assassin.” She shook her head as the car sped up, and grimaced before saying, “Nala is only sent out to deal with… well, let’s just put this in Tyrus’ own words and say that she deals with ’pests that cannot be allowed to remain alive. It doesn’t help matters that she’s my sister.”

“Your sister?” Tiff and I said in unison as Lydia flicked on her indicator and pulled off the road, pulling up in a clearing and turning the car off. Then she got out, and I couldn’t help but ask what she was doing as a motorcycle – driven by a woman wearing a completely black bodysuit and a black helmet – pulled up a few metres from the car.

“Stay in the car,” came Lydia’s curt reply, completely ignoring my question as the Assassin stepped off of the bike and removed her helmet. I was startled to see how similar they looked, with the only difference being their hairstyles. They even had the same wary gleam to their eyes, and as Nala set her helmet down on her bike’s seat, Lydia said, “Nala, I don’t want to fight you.” The strained tone of Lydia’s voice was the key which revealed their closeness to each other, and I couldn’t help but feel my chest tighten a little as I watched.

Nala sighed as she stepped closer to her sister, and took up a fighting stance. “Likewise, Lydia. I don’t wish to fight, especially with you, but you are aligned with people I have been ordered to eliminate.” As Lydia took up a similar stance to Nala, the Assassin’s eyes flashed, and she said, “And, if I have to, I will eliminate you as well.” She made it clear that she was reluctant to do that, but she was bound by duty, which I could unfortunately understand.

Lydia’s eyes hardened. “Bring it on, Nala,” she said as Nala dashed towards her, propelled by Nephilim strength and Magic. The Assassin whipped a knife out from a sheath on her thigh and slashed at Lydia, who jumped back before leaping at Nala, curling her hand into a fist as she moved, and socking Nala in the jaw.

Nala’s jaw cracked loudly as her head jerked to the side, and she stumbled backwards before composing herself and glaring at her sister. A small trickle of blood ran down the side of her mouth and chin, which she wiped off before saying, “Good hit, Lydia.” Then she took up the fighting stance again, yelled, “You won’t get me again!” and jumped forward, positioning the knife in front of her face and slashing at Lydia as she flew towards her sister.

I heard Tiff whimper as Lydia dodged, slammed her palm into Nala’s sternum, and sent her flying back. It was clear that, despite looking younger, Lydia was clearly the older and stronger sister. Yet I still couldn’t help but fear for Lydia’s life. After all, Nala was the most revered Assassin of the Nephilim, and had never failed a mission… or so I’d heard. I kept out of the Council’s business. Or tried to, anyway.

“Sai…,” Tiff murmured fearfully, putting a hand on my arm. “I’m really scared…”

I faced her, smiling in an effort to ease her fears. It was a weak smile. “Don’t worry. I won’t let anyone hurt you,” I promised, then we both jumped and yelped as Lydia was sent flying into the side of the car. As the agent slumped to the ground, groaning, I took my seatbelt off and went to get out, only for Tiff to grip my arm tightly, shaking her head as I looked at her. “Tiff, I have to help!” I exclaimed worriedly, trying to pull my arm free.

Tiff opened her mouth to speak, but she didn’t get the chance to as Nala sheathed her knife, picked Lydia up by the collar, and threw her to the side. Then she ripped the car door off and tossed it away, glaring right at us in sheer determination.

Tiff screamed in terror as Nala reached for her, but she never got to touch my Human friend. Lydia had gotten back to her feet, and she tackled Nala away from the car. They wrestled – with Nala fighting to get away from Lydia and Lydia fighting to keep Nala away from us – rolling around in the dirt. Nala withdrew her knife and tried to stab Lydia with it, but the agent swiftly managed to disarm her sister and throw the knife out of reach.

As the blade stabbed into the ground, Nala threw Lydia off using a ferocious burst of Nephilim strength, and moved towards the car again. It was very clear that the tables had turned against Lydia at one point, although I couldn’t be sure when that had happened. I unbuckled Tiff’s seatbelt before pushing her towards the passenger side door, effectively swapping seats with her. “I won’t let Nala hurt you,” I said to her as I did so.

Thankfully, I never had to defend myself and Tiff. Just as Nala reached the car, she was frozen in place, and her eyes widened in confusion. She tried to move, to finish her job, but the hold on her was incredibly powerful, and she was unable to get free.

“Agh!” she cried as she tried to break free of the psychic hold, although she failed miserably. “Release me!” She looked with blazing eyes at Lydia as the agent stood. Blood was staining her shirt red on her hip.

“I’m not… holding you,” Lydia gasped, grasping the wound, which had to be paining her. I wanted to get out of the car and help her, but something told me that it would be wiser to stay with Tiff and see what was going to happen next.

“Th-Then who is?!” Nala gasped, terrified out of her mind. I would be too, if I was psychically bound in place with no idea who was doing it. I couldn’t see the culprit…

“That,” a voice rang out, confident and slightly amused, “Would be me.” From out of the trees, a familiar figure stepped. His dark eyes were not cold, like they’d been at the school; they were warm, cheerful. It was an utter reversal of the façade he’d had in place earlier. He looked quite amused to be holding Nala in place, especially when she struggled. His eyes never left the Assassin, though, and I realised that he was using a hold that was especially hard to keep. It was a very powerful hold, yes, but needed direct eye contact to keep, which was particularly dangerous due to the risk of more enemies arriving and taking advantage of the fact Soren was preoccupied.

“Who…? Wait.” Nala’s eyes narrowed as she futilely struggled again. “You’re with that little group, aren’t you?”

Soren grinned. “Yep,” he chimed before his expression hardened, and he said to Lydia, “I’m sorry, Lydia, but Nala has to be eliminated.” His eyes looked sorrowful, but also very steely. “She’ll just try to stop us.”

“I know,” Lydia said, her voice so low that only my enhanced Nephilim hearing allowed me to hear it. Tiff didn’t hear, but she did watch as Lydia walked over to Nala’s knife, pulled it from the ground, and walked over to her sister. “I’m sorry.”

Nala was calm and resigned to her fate, as if she knew that this was always the way things had had to happen. “I understand, Lydia. We both have our missions, and while yours is not designated to you by the Council…” She closed her eyes. “You are dedicated to it, as I am to my own.”

Her eyes flickered open as Lydia smiled ruefully, putting the knife to Nala’s chest, just above her left breast. “Thank you for understanding ,” she whispered, swiftly plunging the knife into Nala’s heart. The blade bit through the skin like it was warm butter, slicing through muscles, tendons and blood vessels as if they were nothing. As the cold steel pierced her heart, the Assassin gasped and crumpled to the ground, Soren releasing his hold on her. Lydia released the hilt of the knife as the Assassin collapsed, watching her life ebb away. Tears welled up in the Nephilim woman’s eyes, and as she bowed her head I looked away. The Nephilim were already a small race – having only around ten thousand left – so every loss was felt hard. Even in this situation.

“I’m sorry,” Soren said, putting his hand on Lydia’s shoulder as I finally pushed open the door of the car. As Tiff and I stepped out and walked over, Soren looked up at us and said, “It’s good to see the both of you safe and well.”

“We’re fine,” I said, smiling. “Thanks to you and Lydia.”

“About that.” Lydia’s voice had become stern and bitter, and Soren visibly stiffened as she looked up and glared at him. “You should have never revealed yourself.” She shook her head and crossed her arms, raising an eyebrow. “In fact, you should have stayed back at the safehouse.”

Soren shrugged. “I got worried.” His nonchalant tone made me wonder if he was truly the same Soren as the one from the school. “Anyway, we should go back now.”

Lydia nodded, then looked back at Tiff and I. “Get back in the car, please.”

I nodded, but before I moved, I gestured at Nala’s motorcycle. “What about that? We can’t just… leave it here.” I bit my lip and crossed my arms over my chest. “Unless we want to use Nephilim Magic.”

“We have no choice.” She walked over so that she was standing in front of the motorcycle, chanting an incantation as she raised her hand. Her palm was flat and facing the bike, fingers together with the tips pointing at the sky. A glowing circle appeared, swirling and spinning around, and an identical circle appeared underneath the vehicle before a shimmering dome covered it. We all watched, fascination and wonder dawning in Tiff’s eyes, as the dome shrunk until there was no longer any trace of a motorcycle there.

“Woah…,” Tiff breathed, looking at Lydia. “That was awesome!”

“To you, maybe,” Lydia said, shrugging. “To us it is a normal Nephilim incantation. Helps with the removal of corpses.” As she spoke, she did the same thing to Nala’s corpse as she had to the bike, almost as if she was proving a point.

Tiff shivered at the carefree way Lydia spoke, but said nothing. Instead, it was Soren who spoke after Nala’s body had been removed, saying, “So, are we heading back to the safehouse now?”

“Yes, we are.” She turned on her heel and walked back to the car, and Tiff and I followed with no hesitation. Soren briefly hesitated, looking around, before following, and while I wondered what he’d been looking for, I didn’t question him as I got into the back seat. Tiff scrambled in after me, while Soren took up the front passenger seat, and Lydia returned to the driver’s seat.

Once we were all settled into the car, Lydia started it back up and headed back to the road. This time she drove at a somewhat decent speed – only a few kilometres over the limit – and we soon came to a small, unpaved turnoff. Pulling onto the dirt road, we trundled our way alonguntil we reached a small cottage. It was tucked well out of the way, hidden from the view of the main road. There was also a young girl sitting on the front steps.

The girl stood as the car pulled up and turned off, running over as Soren got out of the car and hugging him. “Soren!”

Although a little surprised, he returned the hug as the rest of us got out of the car. “You shouldn’t be outside; you could be in danger!”

“I know,” she said, releasing him and stepping back. “But I got worried.” She looked over at us, cocking her head to the side, and smiled when she laid eyes on Tiff. “Oh, yay, another Human!” Her smile melted away and was replaced with an inquisitive expression when she saw me. “And another Nephilim?”

Soren nodded. “Introduce yourself. They’re part of our little group now.”

The girl nodded at him before extending her hand towards us. “I’m Iris. It’s nice to meet you.”

Tiff took her hand first. “I’m Tiffany, but you can call me Tiff,” she said, a happy smile on her face.

Once Tiff released the girl’s hand, Iris extended it to me, and I took it firmly before saying, “I’m Sai,” and smiling. Then I frowned. “Are you being targeted by Tyrus?”

Iris’ cheer melted away, and she sighed as she released my hand. “Yeah…” She rubbed her arm and looked away. “I won’t tell you how I found out about the Nephilim.”

I shook my head. “I don’t expect you to tell me,” I said. “All that matters is that we keep you away from him.”

Iris nodded in cheerful agreement, her smile springing back onto her face.She seemed to remember something at that moment, and said, “Oh, come inside, all of you! Ryval got spotted again!”

“Who’s Ryval?” Tiff asked as Iris dashed inside.

I frowned. “I have no idea,” I replied as we followed, walking into what appeared to be the lounge room of the small cottage. Almost immediately, I laid eyes on three people. A man, a teenage boy and a teenage girl were all sitting around, talking in hushed tones about something. Yet they fell silent and looked in our direction as we entered the room. The oldest figure – a Nephilim – rose and walked over to Lydia, speaking in a hushed tone to her, never taking his eyes from us.

Next to me, Tiff shivered, but I remained outwardly calm, refusing to flinch under his gaze. Internally I felt unnerved, especially because of how dark and angry the Nephilim man looked.

“So,” he suddenly said to Tiff and I, and both of us jumped, not expecting him to say a word to us. “You are Sai of the Firstborn and the Human Tiff.” His tone was calm, neutral, and emotionless, but I saw the disdain within his eyes as he looked back at Lydia, Soren and Iris. “Can we trust them?”

“Of course we can.” The strange girl in the room rose, followed by the boy, and walked over. I couldn’t help but feel a little confused in their presence. It was almost as if they weren’t as Human as they looked.

“How so, Hailey?” the Nephilim man asked, raising an eyebrow and looking at her.

Hailey looked directly at him, her gaze piercing. “I can feel that neither of them mean any harm. Instead, they may be able to assist us.” She shook her head, closing her eyes. “Nathan, you mustn’t be so quick to assume intentions.”

Nathan – the Nephilim – grunted and crossed his arms. “Bah!” he exclaimed.

“Hailey’s right, you know.” The boy smiled calmly at Nathan, who responded with a harsh glare. “Remember the last time you assumed something?”

Nathan remained silent, glaring, before sighing. “You’re right, Aidan,” he said softly to the boy, before turning to us and saying, “Sorry ’bout that.”

“No problems,” I said, smiling at him to ensure he knew his apology had been accepted. Tiff smiled too, but didn’t say anything as I asked, “Okay, so… who’s Ryval?”

Everyone looked at Lydia, who sighed. It had been silently decreed, it seemed, that it was up to her to speak, and my thoughts were confirmed when she stepped forward and said, “Ryval is a rogue Demon. Shewas the one responsible for the massacre of the Humans the first time, out of bitterness of the death of her Nephilim daughter years before at Angel hands.”

“Hold up.” I didn’t want to interrupt, but… “She? Her daughter? That’s impossible…”

“Actually, it’s not.” Lydia blinked. “I’ll explain in more detail later, Sai, although I will admit I am shocked you don’t know.” She crossed her arms, frowning and tapping her foot. “Anyway. We are a group that is dedicated to stopping Ryval before she can slaughter the Humans again, but only we can do it.”

“Why can only you guys stop her?” I asked, frowning in confusion. Nephilim were known for being stronger that Demons and Angels, so it didn’t make sense on why only a few Nephilim could take down one Demon…

“No, you misunderstand,” Lydia said, looking directly at me. “We,” she said, motioning at all the Nephilim of this group, including me, “Are the only ones who possess the power to stop this rogue.”

“How so?” I asked, still baffled that a female Demon was responsible for all this. It shattered the reality I knew… It destroyed everything I’d been told. I had always been told that a Demon had killed all the Humans over his daughter’s death… because in regards to Nephilim, Demons were always fathers. Or so I’d believed. “If it’s a matter of being Nephilim, then surely—”

“It’s not just about being Nephilim,” Soren interrupted, which earned him a glare from Lydia. He promptly ignored it. “We’re all a special type of Nephilim. And it all comes down to our lineage.”

“I don’t…” I stopped speaking as I came to a realisation. I’d been about to say that I didn’t understand, but now I did. These Nephilim here… were not traditionally parented. They didn’t have a Demon father and Angel mother like I did… they had the opposite. Which was something I had never heard of before. “You’re… all Demon mothered and Angel fathered?”

Lydia nodded, although she did give me a funny look for some unfathomable reason. “That is correct,” she confirmed. “That makes us more powerful than our brethren. And that is the only reason we are able to take down Ryval.” She frowned. “However, the moment Ryval discovers that we are seeking her… she can – and will – send Tyrus and his men after us.”

“Why?” Tiff asked, frowning and cocking her head to the side. “Does she, like, control him or something?”

Nathan nodded. “Yeah. Which is why the Council is so damn corrupt now.” He sighed. “That Demon isn’t going to stop until every single Human is dead. Even if that means she has to kill all Angels, Demons and Nephilim along the way.”

I stiffened. “She can’t do that!” I exclaimed, clenching my fists. “That’s—”

“She can do that, Sai,” Soren said softly, looking sadly at me. I looked at him, biting my lip as I put my fist to just above my chest, sadly frowning. “She’s a rogue. Rogue Demons or Angels aren’t bound by the Heaven-Hell Treaty. She can do whatever she wants.”

“Can’t the Demons stop her?” I asked, feeling a lump forming in my throat. “They have to stop her, she’s one of them!”

“They can’t step in at all. The Heaven-Hell Treaty prevents any Angel or Demon from stepping in, because Ryval is directly attempting to massacre the Humans. She could potentially leave the other races completely untouched.”

As soon as he said that, all of my arguments completely dried up, and I hung my head in misery. Tiff put her hand on my shoulder, squeezing comfortingly before looking at the others and saying, “So what can we do?”

Lydia sighed. “We can only try to locate Ryval,” she said sadly.

I looked up slowly, frowning, as Nathan said, “And we can’t take your car, Lydia. It’s ruined and doesn’t have enough seats for all of us.” He crossed his arms. “We’ll take the Sahara.”

Lydia nodded at him, then turned to all of us and said, “Don’t worry about packing. This is our safehouse, so we’ll be returning here.” She turned and went to head outside, and of course, we followed.

As we walked outside to the car that Nathan mentioned – which was, apparently, around the back – I couldn’t help but ask, “Where was Ryval last spotted?”

“A fair distance from here,” the Nephilim man said, his voice blunt and indicating that he was in no mood for conversation. I fell silent as we reached the vehicle, and as he unlocked it, Nathan growled, “Alright, seating arrangements need to be organised before we head out. I don’t want to hear fighting.”

“There’re eight seats,” Lydia said. “Nathan will be driving, and I’ll be in the front with him.” From how she spoke, that was normal.

Hailey nodded. “I shall sit in the very back.”

After a short conversation with Iris, the boy – whose name was Aidan – said, “Iris and I will sit with Hailey.”

That left Soren, Tiff and I to sit in the back seat, which we could deal with, and soon enough we were all nestled into the car. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a tight squeeze, and I was grateful for that.

As the vehicle roared to life, Lydia warned us that Nathan drove fast, and we all nodded. Of course, due to having been in the car with Lydia very recently, I underestimated how fast he drove… because he sped away from the cottage a fair bit faster than Lydia had when she’d sped away from the Nephilim Council’s mansion. And he continued driving at that speed, not even slowing down to pull onto the highway.

“Do all Nephilim drive like madmen?!” Tiff hissed at me, terrified, as we sped down the road, zipping around cars without a second thought.

I shook my head. “I don’t!”

“You can’t even drive!”

I shot her a dry look. “I can so, thank you very much.” Then I grinned. “I’m just not currently licensed.”

Tiff shot me an equally as dry look. “That makes me feel safe…” She fell silent, as did I, as we continued to speed along.

Eventually, we reached another turnoff, and we went down it before reaching a grove of some kind. But it wasn’t the sort of pretty, flowery, sunshine-and-rainbows grove that you hear about in the stories. My heart leapt into my throat as I saw how… lifeless the place was. All the trees were dead, shrivelled, their leaves long gone. The grass was dry and brown, and the flowers were all wilted.

As Nathan turned the car off and we all stepped out, I looked around and choked, “What… What happened here…?”

It was Aidan who answered. “Demon Magic. Can’t you feel its lingering presence?”

I could feel something, but I hadn’t been sure it was Demon Magic. Now that I thought about it, however, I could definitely sense the Dark influence. Because Nephilim could use powers based in both forms of Magic, I’d initially thought it was just a darker Nephilim Magic, as I could sense characteristics of it..

Suddenly I heard a scream, and we all whipped around to see a Demon woman standing there, with curved horns framing her face. She was sending spears of Dark Magic at Hailey, who was cowering in terror and attempting to avoid getting struck by any of the spears.

“Hailey!” Aidan yelled as he ran over to her, grabbing her around the waist and pulling her out of the way of a particularly fast-moving and close spear. Noticing that her plan to attack Hailey had been foiled, the Demon woman summoned the spears back to her and started firing them at Iris and Tiff, who were standing close together. Iris screamed and cowered as Tiff grabbed her and attempted to flee, but there was nowhere to escape to, so the two of them ended up grouping with Aidan and Hailey, shivering and huddling together in fear as the Demon woman stalked towards them.

“Ryval,” Nathan growled, clenching his fists, and the Demon woman stopped before turning her head and looking at us. Her eyes – a bloody, malevolent red– glowed, and I shivered under the delighted look on her face. That just wasn’t right, to be delighted to try and kill… although I was a little shocked and slightly worried when her delight melted away, at the exact moment she laid eyes on me.

“You’re alive…,” she breathed, seeming a little puzzled, yet also relieved. “My daughter…”

Surprise flooded into me as she spoke. That was impossible. I was normal… wasn’t I? I… I had a Demon father and an Angel mother… not the other way around… right…?

She went to take a step towards me, and I felt paralysed. Before she could, though, a white beam of light struck the ground in between Ryval and myself. The Demon hissed and stepped back as the light faded away, revealing an Angel man in shining golden armour. He was quite a built man, and his wings were large, symbolising that he was a very old warrior. As he stood, they folded onto his back, fitting snuggly against his armour. In his hand was a sword that looked to be forged from pure silver, and it had Angelic runes decorating the entire length of the blade.

“Ryval,” the warrior said, his voice deep and both comforting and strangely terrifying, “I cannot permit you to take another step!” He raised the sword, pointing it directly at the Demon woman, whose eyes had narrowed. Her lips pulled up into a snarling grimace, and her teeth were grit. But she got to say nothing as the tip of the Angelic blade glowed, and then the Angel warrior’s wings extended as he dashed toward, slashing at her.

Ryval jumped back, and her eyes flashed darkly as she muttered something in the Demon tongue, before a flaming portal opened up behind her. It was blatantly obvious that she knew she couldn’t fight an Angel warrior, especially one that looked so… battle-hardened and knowledgeable.

The warrior jumped back to us as Ryval fled into the portal, yet only after it closed did the warrior straighten; it was as if he had been expecting her to come back out of it. He pushed his sword back into its sheath, located on his hip, before he turned to us and asked, “Are any of you hurt?”

Lydia looked around at all of us, and we all nodded before she turned back to the warrior and said, “We’re all fine. Thanks to you.” She frowned. “Who are you?”

The warrior’s face didn’t change from its expressionless state. “My name is not worth mentioning, not yet,” he said stonily, his wings fluttering a little as a light breeze blew through the lifeless clearing. “I came here to inform you that the Archangel has requested your presence. It is my task to take you all to her.”

Lydia’s frown deepened. “One moment, warrior,” she said to him, and he nodded briskly before Lydia turned to all of us. We grouped, and in a hushed whisper, she asked, “What should we do?”

“I say we should meet the Archangel,” I answered, my voice just as quiet. “It’s a great honour, and she might want – or need – our help with something.”

“A compelling argument,” Nathan breathed, nodding approvingly at me. “I agree with Sai.”

Our gazes all fell on Lydia, who was silent for a few moments, mulling over something before she asked, “Does everyone else agree with Sai?” Once everyone gave their answer, she turned back to the Angel warrior and cleared her throat to get his attention.

He turned back to her, his eyes meeting hers. “Have you all reached a decision?”

“Yes, we have.” As we all stepped beside her, she gave the warrior a confident look and said, “We shall answer the summons. We shall meet with the Archangel.”

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