Tides of Sorrow

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5.3 - AS GOD IS MY WITNESS

Their pace was slow and easy as they climbed the small winding hill leading to Flowergate. As the numbers of people escalated it seemed “quiet and less busy” was not in the offing, at least not until they perhaps moved further from the harbour.

Becky pulled her cardigan tighter around her. A small shiver ran down her spine.

“You are cold,” Cain said.

“A little, yes,” she replied. “It’s to be expected I guess; time of year, next to the sea and all.”

He disengaged from her, removed his coat and with a flourish wrapped it around her shoulders.

She gasped. It was heavy. “Thank you, but there is no need. What about you?” She gestured to the thin black shirt he wore.

“I do not feel cold,” he answered, once more offering her his arm.

“Do you mean tonight, or ever,” she said, her tone light.

“Not for a very long time.”

Another silence rose between them for a few beats. “So, what it is you believe happened before?”

It was best just to tell her what he knew. She was after all a potential target although quite what the Fallen had planned for her he did not know. He would be as diplomatic as the subject allowed. “Remember the man who stood next to you in the restaurant? He wanted to sit with you.”

“Yes,” she said, nodding. “Wait! You heard the conversation?”

“I did.”

“How? You were over at the door, it was busy...”

“I will explain that...later.”

She mumbled an agreement. “What about him, then?”

Cain tucked her hand in the crook of his arm again as they continued walking. “Are you familiar with the Old Testament?”

She stopped, making him halt beside her. Lengthy silences seemed to be par for the course, but this time she seemed to be digesting his question, trying to work out the possible direction the topic was going. Finally, she shook her head. “At the risk of sounding crazy, are you implying he is some sort of - what! Demon? Angel? God?” She continued staring at him as if she was waiting for him to blurt out something like “Gotcha!” But, of course, that was not forthcoming.

Cain held her gaze. Involuntarily, his fingers caressed hers. “He is a seraph, an angel, but one of the Fallen. His name is Samael.”

Her lips formed the name, but her blank expression informed Cain she knew little if anything about the auburn-haired angel. He carried on. “There are many according to the Holy Scriptures and more modern literature. Their actual numbers worldwide I do not know, but I tell you there are at least three or four in this town from what I have experienced today. Two of them watched us at the Abbey.”

She smiled nervously. It faded, then curved her lips again, turning into a sneer. “I don’t know whether this is the weirdest chat-up ever, or whether you actually believe this!”

As he had feared, she considered him insane. “They are real, Becky. You felt something when Samael was near, didn’t you? I saw you reach to the back of your neck.”

“Yes, but that was because he was a guy who creeped me out.” She broke away and backed up a few steps. “And I have to say you are starting to have the same effect...”

“Please! Listen to me.” He reached for her arm but she flinched away. To prevent further offence, he remained at a distance, lowering his hands.

“What lie are you going to come out with next I wonder,” she said, her voice trembling, slightly pitched. “That you are one of them too?”

“No. And I am not lying. As God is my witness I swear to you...”

"Don’t waste your time! I do not believe. I am an atheist.” She turned and started to move away, turning the corner onto Skinner Street, walking quickly for all it was another steady incline.

His frustration manifested into a growl before he took off after her. He stayed a couple of steps behind, not wanting to unnerve her to the point she fled but determined to inform her of what he knew. She had to listen. He sensed she was in danger. “I do not care whether you believe in God or not...” he started, momentarily stunned by his own words.

“Good, because I don’t like religion being rammed down my throat any more than I do politics!”

“I am not a preacher, I do not force my belief on anyone, but...”

She spun to face him. “Hardly devout then, are you?” she spat.

Cain halted and sagged. Hovering somewhere between the conflict which warred within and the tenuous grasp he still had on his faith; her words wounded. Profoundly.

Amid his turmoil, he felt her rein in her irritation. She moved forward, hesitantly and reached out to touch his arm. He remained still.

“I’m sorry, Cain,” she said. “Truly I am. Each to their own I say. I was just reacting - badly - to what you were telling me.”

He breathed deeply and looked askance through his hair. It was not inconceivable that he sounded mad talking about angels, especially to someone in a time where there was a great divide between those who thought such things were just paranormal, make-believe and others who held strong to their faith. “I understand. I did warn you that it would sound fantastic - incredible even.”

“Yes. You did.” She awarded him an apologetic smile. “And for that reason, I will hear you out, just please, do not expect me to be able to...”

“Believe it. I know.” His voice had a hard edge again, but it was not aimed at her. He faced her, sweeping his hair back over his shoulder. “May I still escort you to your accommodation? I know you wish to join your friends and no doubt you will be indulging in the weekend theme of dressing up?”

She laughed lightly and nodded. Briefly. She was suddenly distracted. “Y -you said three or four of the -Fallen - was that what you called them..?”

He nodded.

Her face paled. “And you said two of them watched us at the Abbey?”

Cain nodded, surprised by her question. Then his eyes darkened. A prickle like static coursed through him. “Yes.”

She gestured with her chin. “Is that the two you meant by any chance?”

Slowly, he turned to look over his shoulder. The vampire hunter and Mad Hatter were sauntering back and forth at the bottom of the hill, trying to look inconspicuous. Cain turned back towards Becky. Regret loomed as he knew what was about to occur. Instinctively, traits started to emerge - canines extended, talons formed, the whites of his eyes were swallowed by crimson and black.

Becky’s sharp intake of breath indicated the change had not gone unnoticed. She stumbled.

It was unfortunate timing, to say the least, but it was necessary. Cain’s voice was guttural. “I will protect you. You must trust me.”

Becky appeared weak, vulnerable, frightened. “What are you?” she breathed.

“I will explain, I promise, but I must get you away from here. From them.” He inclined his head in the angels’ direction.

Becky’s eyes were wide, her fear manifesting in a well of tears. She was noticeably trembling.

“I will not harm you. I swear!” Cain insisted, his voice but a low growl.

“B-but the angels will?” she wheezed, incredulous.

“Possibly. I do not have time to explain just now. We must move!” He reached out his hand; his nails sharp, long, crowning articulate, elongated fingers - quite unlike the hand which covered hers a short while ago.

Becky stared at it. Mortified. Then her eyes lifted to his face before drifting helplessly back to the costumed couple at the bottom of the hill. “I don’t think I have much choice, do I?” she uttered, feebly.

Cain followed her gaze. An enigmatic air emanated from their two observers; Cain could not quite gauge their intent although he doubted it was anything friendly. “No,” he answered. “I guess you don’t.”

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