Character-oriented fantasy. The Guild teaches their members very set ideas about how other species fit into their "human world". But the angels that possess corpses are desperate just for a glimpse of the solid world, and the shapeshifting pixies hardly appreciate the extermination of their kind. As childhood friendships and new loyalties tie together a group of unlikely characters, they find amongst each other enemies, rivals, friends and soulmates alike, in the most unexpected of people.
Left lay with his eyes closed, head tucked closely into his chest and legs huddled equally close. It was so bitterly cold that he scarcely dared attempt to look up in case the wind had frozen him solid. He would rather sit and fear the worst than move and possibly confirm it. A shudder of a yawn escaped his lips, and he realised how tired he was. He had been outside in the dark for so many hours now that it might have been days; days in which he had been too cold and frightened and alone to dare sleep.
A strong gust of wind blew through the park, giving a shrill whistle as it hunted amidst the trees. Left pulled his body in tighter. His goosebumps themselves were shivering by this point. He wasn’t sure he could last much longer. He gave an involuntary whimper that was all but masked by the wind. Before he knew it, however, there was absolute silence. Even the rustling of the leaves ceased.
He buried his head further into himself, drawing juddering breaths. He wished desperately that Orrien were there with him. It was at times like this that he found himself missing her presence, that sweet nag of a voice comforting him and chiding him both at once. But this was best for both of them. They couldn’t have continued as they were forever; he knew that. It was his own fault, really, for growing so quickly. He shut his eyes tighter, furiously trying to distract himself from that particular thought train.
“You’ve been gone a long while.” Left felt the sudden warmth of fabric wrap around his icy neck. He opened his eyes to slits and watched the world swim slowly into focus. He attempted to reply, though only the tiniest, incomprehensible sound came out. A hand touched his arm, its heat burning his skin. He swallowed. It still felt strange thinking of it as his skin. He was so used to sharing with Orrien that this body felt empty in comparison. He supposed that it just felt colder because of the poor circulation. That key difference between the living and the dead.
The fingers tightened around his arm. “You’re awfully cold. Are you sure you’re OK in that body?”
Left gently turned his neck, being careful not to move anything too quickly in his half-frozen state. Just in case. “I-I’m fine.”
Laurent fixed him with his usual steely gaze. “Hm.”
“I’m fine,” Left said again, his throat hoarse. “…I had to do this.” Laurent ought to have understood that more than anyone.
Another hand burned Left’s other arm, until he found himself leaning into Laurent rather than himself. There was something strangely secure about the flood of warmth, though he was still too terrified to stop his own hands gripping at his shins. “You didn’t have to choose such a weak body.”
“I liked this one,” Left replied. “Besides, it was a recent one. The longer they’ve been dead, the harder they are to use.” He closed his eyes again, though gently this time. “It won’t always be this weak. I’ll strengthen it once I’ve recovered.”
Laurent smiled, holding the young boy closer to him, enveloping him in an embrace of warmth. “And how d’you expect to recover out here, stupid?” He rested his chin on Left’s head. Left murmured something inaudible. “Exactly. You’ll only make this body weaker by being outside. You need to stay warm, or you’ll catch something.”
“It’s warm here,” Left argued, shuffling even closer. His eyes were still half-closed, though he knew Laurent would be wearing that ironic smile of his. That made Left smile, too.