Robbie Retallack for requesting and sponsoring. :)
This was difficult in the beginning as I am used to writing in first person and found writing the motives for fighting difficult, so I opted for more description than I usually write into my stories and left the reasons for what they do vague. They don't hate each other, they just don't know how to talk without becoming annoyed when they can't get their point across.
By the end this really started to make me feel uplifted, there is something very fluid and relaxing about writing about angels in this way. I got so into writing it that I couldn't stop and an hour went by without me even noticing (I was at work and meant to only write for half an hour before I packed up for the day).
2/101 done, bring on next week... I just need an idea now. *grins*
Edge of Angels:
You think you know what you do not, is what it comes down to really.
When you think of angels I assume you imagine mild-spoken, cute, golden-haired men, with wings. Well, for your first fun fact: only ten percent of the angel population is blond, the other ninety percent are black-haired, red-heads, mousy browns… you get the picture, you don’t know angels.
So when I tell you that over half of them are diagnosed as socially awkward and a further thirty percent or so are just too proud to go see an arch-angel about their conditions you won’t be so surprised. Angels are a very solitary race, their chance of having children is one-in-forty and you are more likely to see a young angeling studying than out with friends.
Enough with the statistics. This story isn’t about how well you know your angels, it’s about how well they think they know themselves - which is disproportionate to what they really know, in truth.
Our protagonist is Adaflaey, a young angel just out of study. He is temperamental, as some angels are wont to be, and arrogant, which most angels are. As our story begins he is quietly walking along the promenade, close to the houses of the higher classes, holding in his hands a letter of high-arch seal. He is a messenger for the arch-angels and spends much of his time travelling. It is a good job, but a time consuming and sometimes difficult one.
His letter is for Luteare, an arch-angel with a love of modern art. This is the first time he has delivered a message to this particular angel and he is already a minute late as he searches for the number three-hundred-and-forty-six. As his eyes finally sweep over it he rushes in through the open gates, shoving his seal of duty into the face of a surprised Guardian, who grunts and lets him pass.
Being late is a high offence for angels and Adaflaey is angry with himself for flying leisurely through the midnight sky of Dayearth, the most beautiful part of angel country. All the scriptures say that laziness is a sin and tardiness is a product of laziness, he has read it so many times but he still cannot drum it into his brain, his mother would berate him, if she still spoke to him at all.
His mother, a pretty angel from the capital, had been travelling for several years now and he had not seen her in all that time.
You might think that this is remiss of them, but angels do not have the same sense of companionship as we do. It is common for mothers to leave their young as soon as they are able to fend for themselves, a rarity would be if a mother and a father brought up their angling together. You should no longer be surprised, angels are not sociable beings, they are, instead, dependant on themselves, and, I suppose to a lesser extent, messenger angels, whose job it is to keep everyone up-to-date with current events.
But events won’t be so current if a messenger is late and Adaflaey is pacing in the entrance hall as he waits for Luteare to become aware of his presence, despite time restrictions you can never rush an arch-angel. So instead of delivering his message and flying off to his next destination he spends three hours pacing the large hall slowly, concentrating on keeping his breathing even and his heart-rate low. Every so often he gets agitated and ruffles his blond-streaked white wings.
Adaflaey is one of the ten percent. His hair is a natural shade of white blond, a light, airy colour that would startle a humans eyes. His hair, though intense in it’s colour is short for an angel and barely reaches his shoulders, it falls in a slight wave, is if it’s been styled, though no angel has to touch their hair for it to be perfect. He has one braid at the front, a symbol of his messenger status. It bears a golden bead as he delivers to arch-angels and sometimes even to the upper tier.
Angels eyes are slightly different from humans, the colours are soft, the slant more pronounced. Adaflaey’s eyes are a common light brown colour, more like gold than anything. His pupils, the most interesting part of an angels’ eyes, constantly shift as his emotions flit from angry to patient to bored. Angel pupils are a midnight blue in colour, almost black, but not quite. They shift with an angels emotions and can see far distances ahead, though, due to the pupil retaining the colour their perception of blue is muted.
The clothes Adaflaey is wearing are tight and streamlined, with an open back, making flight easier. They are mostly an off-white in colour, but the trimmings are done in gold and dark blue to match his eyes. On his feet are sandals made of the finest leather, embroidered with golden thread, they make no sound as he paces, his footsteps are too light.
Adaflaey is shorter than most angels, not quite six foot, but he makes up for that with the corded muscles of his arms and legs, which are on show for all angels to see, and if angels were ever conscripted as soldiers he would surely be a fine fighter. He is handsome for an angel, more masculine than most, and quicker to anger too.
He is angry now, his pupils down to pin points, his eyes flooded out with gold.
Luteare sweeps into the entrance hall, dark eyes searching out Adaflaey who is standing in the middle of an ornate rug ruffling his wings irritably.
Luteare is not a true opposite of Adaflaey, he is a similar height, though slightly taller and his wings are roughly the same size, but instead of gold his eyes are a deep, rich brown. His hair is a similar colour to his eyes, dark, but with tawny highlights. His wings, though small for his size are beautifully streaked with a mixture of brown hues. He stares at Adaflaey, who keeps his gaze levelled haughtily back at him.
He holds his hand out for the letter and Adaflaey walks stiffly over and gives it to him, his feathers fluffed up in annoyance. Adaflaey turns to leave, but a soft “wait” from the angel behind him stops him in his tracks.
His golden eyes narrow as he turns around, facing Luteare again.
“This is a summons.” Luteare gestures with his hand at the paper. His movements are fluid and his voice is soft and musical, all in all Adaflaey thinks that he resembles a perfectly common angel, not like an arch-angel at all.
“Is it really? Have fun.” He would have turned to go again, but Luteare grabbed his arm, catching him off balance and jerking him back with a force that surprises Adaflaey. Angels are never physical when they can avoid it.
“A summons for yesterday.”
“Then they got their dates wrong, I picked that up this morning.”
Luteare growls at him and grabs at his throat. Adaflaey jumps back, his eyes flashing bright gold in anger, teeth bared at the show of violence, his wings are half way outstretched, ready if he needs them.
Angels are never physical when they can avoid it, but they can be dangerous when provoked.
They stare at each other for a few tense seconds until an alarm breaks through their concentration. Luteare growls again and turns on his heel, neither explaining the noise, nor dismissing Adaflaey.
The young angel scowls at his retreating back and stretches his wings, they are aching from the hours of tense pacing. He considers what to do, by now he is very late, it is almost the end of his shift and he still has three messages to deliver. He clicks his tongue, shifting his weight from foot to foot, thinking.
He opts to follow Luteare, none of his other messages are for arch-angels. He mutters curses that would curl the toes of any demon under his breath and marches off through the imposing double doors and down the hallway after Luteare.
Adaflaey is secretly impressed by the decor of the place, but most of his innocent wonder is taken away by the anger fuming through him. He runs a few paces to catch up to Luteare, who glances back at him and carries on.
“I have a message for the court.”
“My shift is ending.”
“I don’t care.”
“What did you do to deserve a summons?”
The arch-angel gestures around him. “I’m greedy.”
Luteare sends the door in front of them swinging open on a thought and strides through, taking a beeline for the ink well. Adaflaey waits by the door, impatient and irritated.
“What is the alarm?”
Adaflaey hisses at Luteare, the feathers on his wings rising in challenge.
One of the statues at the side of the room comes to life and puts itself between its master and Adaflaey. He bares his teeth at the Guardian and slouches back against the wall, sulking.
Luteare is quick with his message, signing it with a flourish and closing it with an arch-angel seal. His Guardian takes it from him and hands it to Adaflaey, who snatches it up and turns around, he walks forwards a few steps and then waits at the door, looking back at Luteare.
“You’re dismissed,” he says and Adaflaey rolls his shoulders, running a few steps and then jumping into the air, letting his aching wings stretch out as they take his weight. It is bad form to fly in an angels house, but he doesn’t care, he wants to get out of here, going to the court at this time is bound to put another two hours on his shift. Then there’s those other three messages to deliver.
He sends an irritated breath out through his nose and finishes a glide, touching his feet to the floor before powering up into the air once more. He reaches the end of the corridor in three glides and bursts through the double doors, tossing his head at the feel of wind in his hair. The front door is open and a cool breeze sweeps in from the promenade.
Once he is out in the hall he has height enough to lift off the ground completely, his wings straining in the first few moments of flight. A few swift strokes and he’s out the doors and cannoning into the air above the promenade, you’re meant to walk in the city unless you’re on official business, but it isn’t unheard of for messengers to fly to late appointments.
Adaflaey turns his speed on and makes the last three rounds in record time.
Luteare takes his seat on one side of the court, it is the fifth time he has been summoned, so he knows the process. He carefully stretches his wings to the side and leans against the hard back of the wooden chair. He is bored and his eyes wander over to the opposite end of the court. Adaflaey is sitting in a chair similar to his own, scowling at him across the distance, even from here he can see the hostile set of his shoulders and the ruffling wings.
His own feathers rise in warning, eyes flashing out brown in annoyance. The arch-angel next to him notices his low growl and frowns, Luteare glances at him and tries to relax, but his ears itch and burn with irritation and he shakes his head for the tenth time in so many minutes to try and get rid of the feeling. The silver bells that signalise his arch-angel status chime. He feels sure he is making his neighbour restless as well, but he cannot help himself.
It is all Adaflaey’s fault. Again.
When Luteare had first started using the messenger system regularly he had seen Adaflaey a fair bit, there were always letters coming through about this piece of artwork, or that brass statue. After a slightly rocky start they had developed a routine that worked for both of them and they hadn’t stepped on each others toes for a long time.
Then Adaflaey was late again, angry, feathers everywhere and temper lashing.
They had fought for the first time then, making a mess of the main hallway, though luckily not breaking anything valuable, even when the Guardians had got involved, pulling them apart and dragging Adaflaey, hissing, away. A neighbour had reported it and they were both summoned for their first court hearing.
This was the third fight, the last chance they had had. He was no longer angry, his temper always disappeared at the drop of a hat, but Adaflaey was livid still.
The second fight was a stupid one, they had hardly even started when a fellow arch-angel had come unexpectedly visiting, hoping to see his collection. It wouldn’t have got them summoned if it hadn’t been for that.
Adaflaey hadn’t delivered his messages for a long while after that, but then he had started up again, taking over from a female angel who had had an angling and was off work.
To be honest they didn’t get along badly most of the time, not badly for angels anyway. They had had perfectly civil conversations and even shared a few meals when Adaflaey had arrived at the end of a shift, tired and hungry.
But when they fought… Luteare glances over at Adaflaey again. He is staring at his lap now, a worried look on his face, anger gone. Luteare can see more of the angling in the angel when he sees him like this, Adaflaey is only young. Young, proud and temperamental. Luteare sighs and closes his eyes. This is their third trial, they have no more chances, in truth he is worried too, for he knows what will happen, he has been called to sentence angels before. It is never pleasant, especially when one of them is so young.
The high-arch-angel calls the court to attendance. Luteare doesn’t open his eyes, just listens to the accusations and tells the truth in a weary tone when it is needed of him. It isn’t until the final verdict is called that he allows himself to lift his lids again, the bright white light of the court almost blinds him until he gets used to it, he searches out Adaflaey’s gaze and sees the same resigned weariness in him.
They will be stripped of their angel status and sent to Perpetual Space, where they will watch over humanity for millenniums to come, until all traces of their life on Earth has faded away, then they will fade too, their souls dispersing into the void, never seeing the warm comfort of their Lords Home.
It is only the very highest of angels that even knows what a human looks like, so Luteare doesn’t know exactly what they are facing, but this is a punishment and he doesn’t believe it will be pleasant. He sighs again, soundlessly and wordlessly. They will probably never see another angel again, except each other, it isn’t exactly a hardship, but the thought settles like a rock in Luteares chest anyway.
He gets up as the court session ends and allows himself to be led away.
Adaflaey laughs as he zooms off ahead again, spinning in midair and diving, almost to the ground. Luteare frowns at him and lands sensibly on the short grass, tucking his wings away behind him.
Their wings should have been taken away, but Luteare had still had some ‘friends’ amongst the court. He had pulled some strings and so here they are with all their functions.
They hadn’t fought yet, Adaflaey had been too busy using the ample space to play, seeing how fast he could go, or how long he could fly. Luteare himself was more restrained, waiting for the horrors of Perpetual Space to make themselves known. It had been several turns of the season, but there was still no sign of anything except endless swathes of grass and rock.
Every so often a human would call out to them across the wilderness. It had been a shock the first time they had heard it, but they soon got used to it. The echoes would draw them to a lake somewhere, a bottomless glassy thing, they would look through and see that other world, Earth with its crazy inventions and the angels who cannot fly.
The first tie they had seen it they had thought that they were others who had been sent to Perpetual Space, but they had soon learnt that they were the ‘humans’ that they were meant to look after.
They could walk out onto the glassy lake, until they found the source of the calling, and then they could sink through and join into the humans life for a little while, born sometimes as a mother, a father, or even a child. Sometimes they found each other during that life, although it was rare that they realised it then, as their memories faded to dust while they played their parts, only returning once their deed was done and their human souls were given back to the Earth.
Luteare thinks that he prefers this life. He understands others better now than he ever did before, understands why Adaflaey and he fought so often and were so angry. Angels are not socially awkward. They do not flourish in solitude. They are not lonely creatures. Angels just don’t know how to live in a society, they don’t know how to laugh at themselves, or throw a party. In some ways Luteare has found that humans are much more advanced than angels and he always enjoys his short lives on Earth, whether or not he finds Adaflaey there.
Adaflaey doesn’t mind it either, although he prefers it when he has his wings. He says that he always dreams of flying when he is a human, always dreams of clean air and wind flowing around him, wings holding him aloft. Adaflaey loves flying more than anything in any world.
Luteare dreams vividly as well, when he is human. He dreams of colours and statues, art in various forms. He dreams also of a city that rises into the distant clouds, a city that is built with spiralling towers and walkways reaching out into the sky. He dreams that dream here in Perpetual Space whenever he closes his eyes as well, it is the wish for home, his real home.
His misses it, they both do, but neither of them mind this new, easy life. They spend most of their time as nomads, searching this land for signs of life, never finding any. They crave angel company, now they have learnt how to be social, they crave flying with others that know the tricks and the fun games Adaflaey has come up with, they crave attention as they fluff up their wings and play fight out among the rocks.
They aren’t technically classed as angels any more. They are demons now, demons because they could not get along back in the world of angels, where everyone grumbled at each other rather than talked. Luteare doesn’t mind it. He had always thought demons to be the servants of the Black Lord, as they had been brought up to believe, but his outlook on it was changing, he did not feel ‘evil’, he felt alive and carefree and content.
It was like this was their Lords Home and Adaflaey and him were wrapped up in His warmth from now until far into the future.
Luteare let out a long, relaxed breath and watched Adaflaey break into a series of gymnastics across the never-ending plains, laughter floating back to fill his ears with music, this was his childhood.
They fight often and sometimes badly. One or the other of them always ends up with wounded pride and they separate for seasons on end, but always the loneliness of Perpetual Space wears on them, so that they seek each other out, just for that little bit of angel company.
Calls from humans are few and far between, seasons and seasons pass without hearing a signal cry across the desolate landscape. They begin to grow old, weary of the games they used to play, weary of flying for miles and miles over barren land, seeing nothing new.
Adaflaey no longer tis-tosses across the grass, spins in the air or chases lazy winds across the sky, he can feel an ache starting in him. He feels distant from the land, as solid as a breeze. His eyes wander slowly to Luteare, who stands on a rock at the very edge of his vision. He must be leagues away. Adaflaey sinks to the ground, his wings heavy, his eyes tired, all he wants is for The Lord to come and whisk him away to a warm place in his arms.
You thought you knew something about angels, just as they thought they understood everything about themselves, but angels are complex creatures, more alike to humans than anyone really knows. They are fun, when they are allowed to be, they are peaceful, but will fight if they have to and they have hearts so big you cannot see from one edge of it to the other.
They will always hear a human soul when it needs them, even across the endless miles of nowhere.
It is a shame that the only angels we will ever know are the ones called demons and cast down, for I would like to see all angels as carefree and content as Adaflaey and I were.
I thought I knew what angels were, but I did not. Angels are hearts, souls filled with light and love. Angels are a gift sent from The Lord to fill every world.
You think you know what you do not, is what it comes down to really.