“Andrew… I mean Andreatis. We’re his friends. We came to see him. Oh, and the head Archangel too.” I stated.
The two guards passed a look between each other, then turned back to us. “We heard that a group my being coming to look for Andreatis. We were directed to take you to him immediately.”
I nodded. “That’d be us.”
The two guards exchanged another look, and then nodded to each other, “Follow us.”
I let out a breath of relief. If we were turned away, they definitely would have been unfortunate. The guards turned and walked under the arch, heading into the castle. We glanced at each other, then followed. Maybe this would be as easy as it seemed. The guards took us through several long massive hallways and up a grand staircase. The hall was lined with pedestals and numerous expensive looking vases and statues. Various paintings were scattered across the walls, often depicting an angel either in flight or in battle.
The entire place screamed of grandness, and I wondered if this is where Andrew grew up. I could see little Andrew running around the hallways of this place. He was always so safe a proper, I wondered what his youth was like. It seemed like he might have been pretty lonely. The hallways were beautiful and large, but very empty. The nine of us didn’t even fill the hallway if we stood side by side. I could see an environment like that being lonely. That, of course, reminded me of Andrew’s father, and how he had seemed to regret not being able to spend more time with his son. That wasn’t the kind of man who would break a treaty or try to start a war. I just knew there was more to it.
“Your friend is in here.” The guard gestured to a massive door in front of us.
The door looked like something that might have been made for a giant. It was thick and made of white oak. The guard opened the door a crack and gestured for us to enter. I hadn’t really noticed it before, but something about all of this seemed off. The guards seemed just a tad too on edge. The other people we passed didn’t seem to make any eye contact with us. Maybe, I was just expecting too much.
I passed the guards and entered the room beyond. This room was also very massive. It was a large circular room was a glass ceiling hundreds of feet up in the air. Massive pillars surrounded the edge of the room. Smack in the center was Andrew. He was sitting in a chair the resembled more of a throne. His head rested against his hand, his eyes closed as if he was sleeping in the chair.
“Andrew!” I called, running towards him.
Andrew’s eyes snapped open. When they met me, they turned to horror. I skipped a step.
“Jane? No! Get out of here! It’s a trap!”
“What-“ I realized that there was a chain connecting Andrew’s foot to the chair.
The door behind us slammed shut. I turned back, all of the guys had entered the room and stared around in confusion. Out behind the pillars burst a half dozen angels. Each one was fully armored and wielding a sword. The guys all cried out at once.
The happiness I had at seeing Andrew turned to anger. My friends were in trouble, and Andrew was being held against his will. I felt for the energy and vitality, the magic that I had used in the past. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t that I couldn’t reach it, instead, it was like it had never existed in the first place. I cried out in anger as a guard approached me and grabbed me. The eyes guys looked around in confusion as well, quickly finding themselves being apprehended.
It was Ryan who had managed to put up the best fight. He had knocked down three of the guards, leaping towards my direction. I reached out to him, and he came a foot short when a guard body-slammed him to the ground and placed a cuff around him.
“What’s going on?” Rune shouted.
Alex was crying, letting the guard cuff her. Stephan and Allan didn’t put up much of a fight, but Rune seemed to have a bruise on his eye and a dazed look. It was clear he had been hit hard.
The noises of protest silenced at the soft sound of clapping. Stepping out from the side of a pillar was none other than Andrew’s dad. He had the same beautiful face and the same fatherly calm I remembered from the past. However, his eyes looked completely different. They had a crazed, deadly look to them and as the gaze crossed me I felt soiled by those eyes. I had only met the man once, but those eyes looked so different, I could barely recognize the man.
“Well, that turned out well.” The man laughed, moving up to the throne and sitting on the arm next to his son, “So you’re my son’s friends.”
“What’s the meaning of this?” Daniel growled, biceps rippling as he applied pressure on the cuffs on his arms.
“Aw…. This is the room of tranquility. It neutralizes all forms of magic. It’s a natural phenomenon. No one knows exactly how it works… however, I have found I way to replicate the effects.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Victor’s eyes were wide in disbelief.
“Well, vampire, there are things in this world even you haven’t seen.”
The Archangel clapped his hands, and a door on the other side of the room opened, and a group of angels began to push in large metal containers that resembled iron maidens. They rolled them up to the group of boys and stopped, opening them up.
“Put them inside. Take my son as well. Yes, lock them up tight. Forget the human. She’s not worth your time.”
“There was supposed to be a Time Traveler too,” Andrew’s dad frowned, “Where is he?”
“He left,” Andrew sneered.
“What is this about?” I demanded, but the Archangel ignored me.
“When I got here, I tried to talk to him about the war. Then he just started going nuts,” Andrew explained as they unbuckled his shackle and picked him up, dragging him into one of the nine iron maidens.
The inside of the device consisted of straps, which they preceded to use to constrain the boys.
“Now boy, I’ve already punished you for talking out of turn, do I need to punish you further?” Andrew’s father snapped.
“What are you going to do with us?” Rune demanded.
“Good question.” The Archangel snapped his finger with a grin, “I’m glad I got a chance of getting a hold of you. Given your ties to your… father, I’m sure you will be very valuable to me, but enough about this. This is the part where I monologue and tell you all about my plans. However, rather than tell you, I’d rather show you my genius.”
The Archangel snapped his fingers again and began heading out of the room. The angels began to push the iron maidens, large face sized holes allowed the boys to see outside of their respective cages.
“And don’t try to escape, you’ll find the iron maidens make that quite impossible.”
The two guards holding me surged forward and I found myself being half tugged, half carried along with the boys in their individual prisons. As soon as the room left behind us, the power and energy began to surge into me. They hadn’t put me into an iron maiden like the other guys. That meant I could use my powers. I tried to keep myself calm, I couldn’t let them know until the right time. All wasn’t lost.
My eyes met with Victor as he passed within his iron maiden. He gave me a subtle wink. He had figured out the same thing. Right now, I was the guys’ only hope of escape. Everything depended on me.
The Archangel reached the end of the hall and entered a new room. This room was square and included a large balcony that overlooked the ground below. He had the angels bring each of the iron maidens up to the balcony. I glanced over the edge and gasped. It was rows upon rows of angels. Thousands of them, hundreds of thousands of them… all in perfect formation. Each wore a shining silver armor that reflecting the sun, making the sheer sight of them difficult to look at.
The Necromancer and the star cult were right. This really was heavens plan all along. I stared desperately over the mass of warriors. What could we do to stop this? Even if I could save everyone, there was nothing we could do to stop that.
“What are you trying to do?” Andrew demanded.
“Why, destroy hell. That has always been our goal. It is the duty of angels to purge the world of evil.”
“You bastard!” screamed Rune.”
“You have to know the fallout of that war would destroy Earth too,” Victor spoke up.
The Archangel sniffed, “And why not? Earth is just collateral damage. As long as the entire Angel race stands above it all, that is what matters. We are superior; we are on top.”
“It won’t work. The Necromancer-“
“The Necromancer’s army,” Andrew’s Dad sneered, “Do you think a mass of disordered mindless dummies can hold make the full force of heaven. Our armored, armed, trained soldiers will cut through them like tinfoil.”
“Ridiculous, you’re not telling the whole story, why bother capturing us?” Allan asked.
“You? You were just a boon. You’re here for my son’s benefit, or should I say because of my son’s benefit. We will begin our attack on hell tonight. However, that won’t be enough to win the war. It will take far more than that. It isn’t enough to win, we have to annihilate the demons. Wipe them off the face of the earth. Abaddon will pay for everything- well… let’s just say he will pay. For that, I’ll need new weapons. Wasn’t that what the star cult wanted, they wanted us to develop new weapons.”
“Weapons?” Andrew twisted the word in his mouth.
“Imagine what kind of weapons the Angels will be able to make based on the physiology of a demon. What kind of camouflage can we devise but cutting open a succubae. The secrets to immortality? The vampire might have something, or maybe the Necromancer. Or why invent something new, when you have the technology to build robots and the collective knowledge of a “hyper-intelligent” alien. Yes, I think I will find researching the lot of you to be very useful indeed. I am so glad that my son was able to find so many interesting friends.”
“You’re despicable,” Andrew snapped.
“You wound me, Son.”
“I have no father.”
The Archangel’s mouth twisted wryly, “Maybe so, but let’s see here, I have nine iron maidens and nine supernatural beings. However, it seems like I have one too many here. What is this? A plain ordinary girl. How boring of you.”
“Leave her alone or I swear to god I’ll-“
“You’ll what?” the Archangel’s look turned even crueler.
He turned the gaze on me, and I struggled against my confines. The two guards behind me held steadfastly. The man began to walk towards me. You have to do it now, Jane! You have no choice.
I summoned up all the energy and power. It began to flow in to me. I could feel myself getting stronger. I was faster; my mind was clearer. I moved, the two guards made words of protest as I burst forth from their grip. The sword, I needed the sword. I willed it into existence and swung. For a fraction of a second, Gemini flickered into existence.
“The sword was not meant for you…” I ignored that old man Michael’s words, he was wrong.
The Archangel jumped back, avoiding my swing, then jumped back again on my second swing. Swinging the sword was difficult. It was exhausting just keeping it in this world. I had to admire Andrew’s strength and will to be able to use his version so much better than mine. However, I had no other choice. I had to use it.
“So you have Gemini? How peculiar. If there was a way I could take it from you, I would, but that sword doesn’t function like other demonswords. A pity, you almost might have been useful to me. However, let me show you how a real magical sword works.”
The Archangel put his hand out to his side. Runes appeared in midair, completely free of the need to draw on the ground or anything. He then pulled, a sword appearing through the lit circle. The sword had nasty curves and arches. It seemed to suck in the light of the world around it. It had a kind of tangible malevolence to it. It almost felt evil to me. This couldn’t have been the Excalibur, could it? This whole thing wasn’t making sense. None of this made any sense. How quickly we were defeated. The sword. Andrew’s dad. I was missing something.
“The sword was not meant for you…” What does that have to with anything right now?
I lunged forward again, determined to fight the answer I missing out of this man, this imposter. He swung his sword and the Gemini seemed to almost shatter in my hand, dissipated in smoke. I knew it wasn’t destroy, but at the same time I knew that I wouldn’t be able to summon it again. I growled, there was more to Jane Avergail than this guy knew! I would-
The sword plunged into my stomach, ripping through me and coming out the other side. I looked up in shock, those evil, unwelcome eyes staring down at me. Those fake eyes… it was wrong. Everything was wrong. This… wasn’t how things went. The man turned the blade, pain spiking through my body and mind. I could hear screaming and shouting coming from all of the Iron maidens. It must be the boys, I couldn’t let them worry. I had to… I had to…
The sword pulled out of me, and then I felt myself being risen, a grasp tight around my throat. At least, I- the thoughts became harder and harder to contemplate. What was happening? I was moving. I was sure I was moving. My head came very close to the Andrew’s dad’s face. It looked so beautiful and so wrong at the same time.
“You’re only human. Completely useless.”
I was raised up over the rail and thrown. I heard the shouts louder than I ever had before. They pierced my ears as if the boys were right next to me.
“No! Jane! No!”
“Oh, please, no!”
“I LOOOOVVVEEEEEE YOOOOUUUUUUUUU!” The sound dissipated and I blinked.
There was mist all around me, and a loud roaring in my ears. The mist tore away and I realized I had just fallen out of a cloud. What was I doing in the cloud? That was just silly. The roaring sound continued, and suddenly I was spinning. I remembered spinning before when I came up. Came up where? Where did I go? Where was I now?
No, Jane, you can’t give up. A voice seemed to whisper in the back of my head. What a silly voice. I spun in the air, red streaks seeming to trail around me. Some of them seemed to come from my mouth, others from my stomach. I could see the ground now. It was the ground, then the sky, then the ground, then the sky. It spiraled around and around, going for what seemed forever.
“Jane, concentrate. What are you missing?” the voice demanded.
That was right, I needed to figure something out. The puzzle pieces didn’t fit. Things weren’t fitting together.
“The sword was not meant for you…”
“Nor his for him”
“The sword is about unity.”
“My father doesn’t care about me; that’s why I ran away.”
“I think in the end I failed to be the father he needed.”
“The captain would like to remind you to fasten your seat belt when the seat belt sign is on.”
The thoughts fell through my head, some of them were more relevant and pertinent than others. Then it all came clicking into place. Of course! How could I have not seen it sooner? Now, I knew what to do! Now I-
My body slammed into the ground below, darkness overtaking me, and death following immediately after.