Chapter 1: Nathanael
Directions, that’s all the Lord ever sends. The tone, as always, is immediate and commanding.
He rises to his feet and heads through the arched entranceway toward the River of Life. His wings spread and slowly they begin their rhythm, bringing him into the air.
Michael passes, his wings glistening in gold behind him. The Archangel avoids eye contact as he flies straight past. Nathanael’s fists clench in response, knowing it’s not Michael’s fault Nathanael was involuntary relocated into a position within the seven Archangels. If he had his way, he would have stayed a throne. Guarding the Throne of God was all he had ever desired. The water from the River of Life glistens beside him as he forces the thoughts deep down. He needs to right his mind before entering the Throne Room. The Lord can read him like a book. The choir grows increasingly louder as he finally lands atop the endless steps into the columned temple. Raziel meets him at the door, blocking his way with his full wingspan.
“I was summoned,” Nathanael responds to Raziel’s stern glare.
“Nathanael, it seems like inly yesterday we were in opposite positions.”
His fists clench once again. Keep it together, Nathanael. He’s just trying to rouse you before your audience with the Lord.
He offers only a nod when he passes Raziel. Nothing is going to ruin his day. He has been nothing less than exceptional since the first demotion. He almost chocked when he heard the announcement of his transfer from the Throne of God to become an Archangel. One of the main things he took pride in while being so close to God, was not being tainted by the filth of the secular world, the Earth. Archangels aren’t so lucky. Their entire job is to meddle in secular matters or sec-matters, as the Heavenly community calls them.
The columns of the altar room spread up all around him, going higher and higher, disappearing into the clouds above. This will be good news. He's been dreaming about this promotion. It's going to happen today. His steps quicken as he draws closer. If it were allowed, he would spread his wings and fly to the throne, his feet never seem to get him anywhere fast enough. Especially, right now. Pausing on the three ivory steps to the Throne Room, he throws his shoulders back and with a deep breath, climbs the steps.
He only makes it a few strides before the glory of God brings him to one knee. Cherubs fly around with harps and horns playing nothing but praise. His eyes dart everywhere but directly at the light of God. The paintings lining the walls seem brighter than he remembers. How long has it been since he was here? Time is incalculable in the graces of Heaven, but it seems like forever in his soul. This was his favorite place. He was standing in this exact spot when he protected the Lord from the second century invasion. The Throne Room had become his sanctuary, the one place he meant something. Now, he has no place.
"Nathanael." A booming voice sends the cherubs flying out of the room. The voice echoes in the space between them.
He bows. "Yes, Lord."
“You have an assignment”.
Nathanael attempts to hide the smile in his bow, but it’s obviously written across his face. A female Virtue with hair pink as the sunset brings him a scroll. Taking it in his hands, he slowly unrolls it to read his next assignment:
Notice of Reassignment
Assignment: Guardian to Human
Report immediately to Coordinates: 42.3064’N, 78.0164’W
“I… don’t understand.” An Archangel sent to guard a Sec? It’s ludicrous and unheard of!
“Report immediately.” The Lord’s voice calls his entire body into action; spine straightening in response.
“Yes Lord.” He lowers his head, suddenly losing his excitement. Without another command, he turns and leaves the Throne Room. With every receding step, his shoulders slump a little more. Raziel is still outside the temple entrance. The scroll in Nathanael’s hand incinerates, sending ashes onto the ivory floors of the coliseum as he approaches his rival.
Nathanael attempts to straighten his posture. “I’m to report to Earth.”
“To Earth?” Raziel scoffs, “For what?”
What does he have to lose? Word of his reassignment will spread eventually.
“To be a Guardian.”
Raziel breaks into laughter, collapsing over to lean on his knees. “A Guardian?” he cackles. Each sound echoes in Nathanael’s head only to come back and mock him once more.
“I have to go.” Nathanael turns and descends the steps.
“My how the mighty have fallen,” Raziel boasts from the edge where he looms above.
His fists are so clenched, his nails make marks in his palms. If he could feel pain, they would probably ache. He wanders down the pathway alongside the river by foot. Mindlessly, he walks through the Pearly Gates, not even bothering to waive to Saint Peter before his feet pause at the edge of the clouds. Below him lies a completely different world-Earth. He was only sent there twice over the past few months-earthly time-on assignment as an Archangel.
Now, he takes in the winding roads and the cloud of smog humans have created in an otherwise perfect realm. His first time to Earth, he took one whiff of the air and didn't breathe until returning to Heaven. Secs have a way of destroying everything Angels work so hard to keep thriving. Secs, the Secular world, Raziel is right. The mighty have fallen.
Before he can change his mind, his wings burst open. There's no way he's going to ruin everything he's ever worked for. Even if it appears to be hopeless now, the Lord always has a purpose. He will prove his worth-if it's the last thing he ever does. His feathers twitch, anxious for the air. With one last breath of the clean, fresh air of Heaven, he dives toward the surface.
His wings carry him lower and lower. They spin him around in circles causing his usually perfect hair to flap all about. This long descent is the best part of this whole thing. It’s the most air he’s ever experienced, making him feel like a dove: determined and free.
He begins to lose some of his excitement as the trees below grow bigger and bigger. Just as he's about to enter the first few branches, he pulls up and straightens out flying over them instead. He's just not... ready. The line of trees ceases, and an endless sight of houses sprout up underneath him. His wings spread wide and flap up and down causing him to hover above the town.
What am I doing? I need to report. Responding to his thoughts, his wings turn his body around, taking him back toward coordinates 42.3064' N, 78.0164' W.
Nathanael's feet pace their way across the pavement for the hundredth time before turning to do it over again. The coordinates took him to a blue farmhouse nestled along the tree line.
The house is still, sitting on a quiet, dead-end street with nothing but the sound of the woods around. A hooting owl in the distance makes him jump slightly. He will have to get used to sounds like that down on Earth. He takes one more look down the bleak street. It's so... dark, how can he ever get used to it here?