“He was getting old, anyway.”
“I know. This certainly wasn’t unexpected.”
“Well, let’s head out and call someone to come over.”
“Wait.” Luke Sparous, a sixteen year old teen boy, peered closer. “Look at this.”
Zaid Gravall grunted, wishing this could be over and done already. “What?”
“Look at his chest.”
“Eh . . . huh.” Zaid shrugged. “So? He had a heart attack.”
“But we found him looking quite normal, as if it happened in his sleep.”
“Luke, are you afraid to say the word death? He DIED, that’s what happened!”
Luke flinched. “What about the flash of light, Zaid?”
Luke seemed unnerved. “Isn’t there something missing?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t know him.” Zaid combed his fingers through his hair impatiently. “We checked it out as you asked. Come on. Let’s go.”
Luke rubbed his eyes, his voice catching. “He was the pastor at my church.”
Zaid rolled his eyes. “Wasn’t he the guy everyone called ‘Trout Stare?”
“This is him.” Luke’s mind was working so fast he could barely keep track of the information he was recalling. “I know there was something he always had with him; if I could just remember . . .”
“What?” Zaid snapped. “Let’s get out of here before the police show up to investigate.”
Luke released a hitched sigh, running a hand through his dark curls. “I know,” he said, his motivation deflated.
Zaid glowered. “You’re never going to find adventure. I mean, you. How could you ever do anything?”
Luke closed his light blue eyes, believing Zaid’s cruel words. “But . . .” he trailed off.
Zaid was starting to tire from having to repeat the same word. “What?”
“Nothing. It’s nothing.”
“Then let’s go already!”
Luke bit his lower lip before he turned and followed his classmate of of the house back to the sidewalk, a gnawing worry nibbling his still developing confidence. If only . . . He shook his head as his door clicked shut.
No more trouble for today.
Listen to the self-appointed leader.
Don’t risk standing out.
As the two teeneragers hurried out the front door, Temthael ducked inside the kitchen and drew his sword, his thoughts revolving back to the ten warriors perched on the roof above him. They’ll alert me if the murderer returns. He was a broad-shouldered angel, with gold armor and a red sash. His hair was light brown, while his eyes blazed crisp grass green.
Crossing through the orderly house without any disturbance, Temthael only needed a glance at the dead man’s face to confirm his suspicion. It was such a small thing — the thief must have hoped nobody would notice its absence.
Temthael knelt beside the dead man’s resting place, an armchair in the living room, and rested his hand on the man’s chest, finding what the teen boys had not seen earlier.
A small, triangular shaped wound was punctured in Gregory Rickson’s skin. An unnatural yellow tint had already begun to spread around the injured area. Temthael recognized it at once. This death had been purposeful, that was for sure.
Temthael frowned as he examined the fatal injury. Minute fast poison. The man had died recently, not even an hour ago. But by whose hand?
Temthael turned towards the door as five ornate, ancient clocks began striking the half hour, each ringing slightly off from the others.
Curious, and quite suspicious by the whole situation, Temthael straightened and passed through a hallway lined with bookshelves to Gregory Rickson’s office.
The desk seat drew his eyes instantly. Watches of all sizes, colors, and brands completely hid the arms of the sturdy, thick chair. Their little hands ticked off each second so sharply, it sounded more like rain on the roof than clicking machines.
The ceiling fan cast shadows when Temthael flipped on the lights. Normally, he would take caution with the lights, as they often gave away his location. However, the office had no windows, so he felt secure with the action.
Narila stepped through the door frame, with what seemed to be a cape hanging behind her, lightly brushing the floor when she moved. Her form was slimmer than Temthael’s, though her armor was similar and she wore a red skirt and tall tan boots. Her hair was wavy dark brown that crossed her shoulders and hung behind her. ‘Have you found it?’ Her transmission was not in the word form printed here for you to read. Rather, her thoughts reflected blurred images, more like a steady stream than a string of words.
‘No, it is missing.’
Narila folded her arms, leaning against the gray wall. ‘The enemy is gaining footing. He’s not taking the cautions he used to.’
‘That will lead to his downfall.’
She held her arms in front of her to form an X shape. ‘Indeed.’
After a pause, in which they were both lost in thought, Temthael asked, ‘how many have been destroyed?’
Her answer rattled them both. ‘More than half.’
At the same time she spoke, a crisp clang sank through the ceiling.
They dashed back to the main door and flung it open, their swords raised.
Innumerable long limbed creatures lunged from the sky, their faces shadowed by rippling masks of darkness, their horny talons carrying weapons of their own.
‘Why did they stay to fight? They already killed the Beholder.’
Narila gasped. ‘But what they want is still here!’
A gang of the hideous beasts trapped the two angels beneath suffocating material. Temthael threw it off, ensnaring three demons, crushing them to sand. His blade met the twin daggers of another bloodthirsty creature. He grabbed its slippery wrists and thrust it into the ground.
A demon snarled, its beady eyes narrowed with malice.
Temthael twisted his sword.
The ten warriors arrived from the roof, their swords drawn as they joined Temtheal and Narila.
‘We sensed their arrival, but we were outnumbered almost as soon as the first pair of eyes appeared,’ a angel reported.
‘How many?’ Temthael lifted his sword of the Spirit as yellow eyes began to open, illuminating the ground eerily.
Temthael and Narila raised their shields together as the angels prepared for the battle that would surely follow.