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Angelic Outcast: Chapter 1
Chapter One - Decent
Striding quickly thru the golden marble halls that lead to the council chamber; Artan never knew what to expect when he was called to stand before his Tribunal and he was filled with anticipation. The council’s purpose was to assign tasks to the angels under their command, as an Ophanim he had been charged with the safety of many humans throughout history.
They had almost all been interesting in one way or another, and he wasn’t one to scoff at human company, but more than once he had questioned the merits of the humans he had been assigned, at least to himself. He long ago accepted that he would never understand how the Tribunal chose who deserved their protection and who didn’t, but he followed his orders faithfully. At times sacrificing those he felt were more deserving; but he trusted their judgment, most of the time.
Upon entering the chamber he took a moment to gaze at the splendor above. The ceiling of the room depicted a long forgotten battle brought back to life in full color until one could believe that they need only reach out and they could touch. Angels of all shapes and sizes fought bravely against an opposing army of Fallen; angels that had turned from Heaven and had chosen to serve the Morningstar, Heaven’s greatest enemy. Angelic weapons flared as they sliced thru demon flesh while, along the edges of the mural, humans watched in a combination of horror and awe. Artan didn’t know the artist but he had been told that the painting had taken several lifetimes; it was to serve as a reminder to all Ophanim what exactly it was they fought to protect.
Compared to the mural, the rest of the room was bland in its plainness. Modeled after the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, the decorative columns spaced evenly around the room were the only feature that broke up the monotony of white. That, and the half moon circular table made out of a solid slab of white-gold marble that took up the far section of the room where the three angels of the Tribunal sat.
The angel sitting in the center of the table calls out when he realizes that Artan is waiting. Elion had the appearance of a man in his early to mid twenties even though he was one of the oldest angels Artan had ever met, but that meant little to a race of immortals. Compared to some, Artan was still considered young by angel standards not yet haven reached his second millennium. Though Elion was by no means unhealthy he wasn’t in fighting trim as so many of the Ophanim and Chayot were, giving him a leaner physic then many angels of his class. His curly black hair and bright blue eyes only served to make him look more like a teenager then as the angel elder he was.
“Ophanim Artan. Your newest charge is a woman by the name of Elizabeth Savante.” Councilor Elion declares while an image forms in the center of the room. Artan felt himself grow warm at the sight that took shape in front of his eyes. A woman with the body of a warrior and a modified automatic machine gun cradled in her two delicate hands. Dark brown leather covered her lean but fit body from neck to her boot covered toes. Her long hair was the only concession to her femininity, but that didn’t change the fact that she was most defiantly a woman. Appearing of South American decent, her skin shown with the color of caramel and her long hair was so dark brown it was almost black.
Elion continues his briefing while Artan is examining his new charge, “She is a protector of innocence. Many of the children she saves will have roles in the future. Her name has been declared a target in the Halls of Hades and a Corrupter will soon be sent to acquire her. If it cannot turn her it will end her life. It will be your duty to protect her while you deal with any demons until Morningstar or one of his subordinates decides that she is more trouble then she is worth.”
Basic protect and discourage. Depending on how determined Hades was to kill her, he could be in for a very eventful period. Normally this would suit him since at least he wouldn’t be bored, but depending on how close they got it was always hard to hide such activities from the charge he was protecting. Almost all, what humans would call supernatural creatures, had some type of cloaking to keep themselves hidden but that didn’t work when things were blowing up and being destroyed around the one they were hiding from.
Interrupting Artan’s musings with the bang of a gavel, “The transport chamber already has the coordinates for where you need to go.” the angel Tristian informs with a clear dismissal. The angel was a hulking brute that was as muscled as Elion was lean. It was rumored the angel spared with no less than three partners at any one time. “Here are the details of your assignment.” tossing Artan a small crystal. The data crystals were the angel’s equivalent of a human flash drive. It would have all the information Artan needed.
So far Artan didn’t think that this assignment was shaping up too bad. “I understand.” giving a salute to the triad before leaving the room.
After he is gone, “Are we sure no warning should have been given.” Oria asks, “He does not know that these will be his last days among us.” slightly worried for the angel. Of this tribunal she was the gentlest; her talents resting in the realm of foresight and strategy rather than in battle.
“He is on the path. He must find his destiny on his own. We all knew he was never meant for this life. Now he will form another that will be more suited to him.” Elion intones. Though he too was slightly worried for the angel, his road would be a hard one and Elion never liked to see his brethren struggle.
Upon transport to earth, where he landed wasn’t the worst he had ever been sent, but it did rank in the top ten. An insect infested, humidity ridden jungle on one of the most politically unstable continents in the world was not his idea of a vacation spot, but of course if she was a debutante living on a private beach then she wouldn’t be needing his protection. Straightening his spine, retracting his wings, and materializing the cloths that he would need to blend in as well as he could; he heads off in the direction his senses tell him was the way to his new charge. One of the benefits of being an Ophanim was that once he was assigned a charge, he could find them anywhere in the world. It just became harder the further away they were.
Working his way thru the brush he comes across a small village nestled in the thick cover of the jungle. The thatched huts were so overgrown by mosses that he was well past the outskirts before he realized where he was. Hoping no one had seen him, he backs up into the cover of shadows. His charge was close, he could feel it.
Listening hard for any signs of life, he is drawn by the sound of childish laughter. Following the sound, he sticks to the cover of the huts and shadows until he can assess the situation. Standing tall in a rare sunny spot provided by an opening in the canopy, he sights the woman he is looking for and his breath catches. With a single sunbeam shining on her, the light kissed her smooth skin and turned her hair to flames. Her sudden laughter had his spine stiffen before she moved; spinning out of the reach of a small boy that was trying to tackle her in what was obviously a game. That was when he noticed the dozen or so children running around the area. It was also when he heard the hammer of a gun being cocked behind his head.
Khris had heard someone stumbling around. Most of the village men had gone out for the day and the few who remained had hidden in their huts from the outsiders. Never mind that their group comprised of two adults and a bunch of kids. But they let them camp nearby in begrudged peace and that was all Khris cared about. He was used to rejection and so were most of the kids.
Finding an angel lurking around wasn’t what he had expected, but he couldn’t say he was surprised. Normally he would have disabled him and got Liz and the kids out as fast as he could, or gone off on his own to try and lose him. But since the angel held no weapons and was trying his best to look like a mortal, it made Khris pause. No angel would come after someone like him without a weapon in hand even though angels were never truly unarmed. If he was lucky maybe this angel wasn’t after him, and if he was here for Liz then they both needed to know why. Making a decision.
The silence coming from behind him was starting to concern Artan, he could survive a gunshot to the head but he would be incapacitated for hours as his brain regrew. Finally, “I wouldn’t try anything funny. She doesn’t like it when things die in front of the kids but there are always exceptions.” a cold voice hisses from behind him.
“I am not here to cause any harm.” Artan reassures raising his hands to show that he was unarmed. Not that it really meant anything, but his capture didn’t know that.
“I didn’t think you were. No one who sneaks around so poorly could cause much harm even if they did intend it. At least if they didn’t mean to get caught.” the voice scornfully rasps.
“So how about lowering the gun?” Artan suggests in his most convincing tone.
“Don’t think so. I haven’t quite made up my mind about you yet. She hasn’t seen you so I still have the option of taking you out golden boy. Which by the way, kind of stick out like a sore thumb there buddy, way to blend.” sarcastically, “Anyway, I kind of like having her all to myself and I don’t much care for competition.” but the gun does go from Artan’s head to his back.
Hoping that he is getting somewhere with his capture, “I am here for her protection, she pissed off someone big and there is a hit out on her.” haven memorized the cover story to convince her to cooperate.
The man behind him snorts his laughter, “If that’s the story you’re going with good luck. She’ll probably see right thru it but it‘ll be amusing watching you try.” Without warning the gun was removed from his back and a shot rang out as a sharp burning pain spread thru Artan’s leg. He crumpled to the ground, clutching at his leg to stop the bleeding. “Now you can talk to her.” the man behind him says with a chuckle.
Artan could hear the smirk in the man’s voice. Looking up with hatred in his expression and every intention of putting this uppity mortal in his place, Artan meets the gaze of one of the darkest mortals he has ever seen.
Appearing of Mediterranean decent the man had the dark complexion and black hair that came with the region, and narrow hazel eyes with a slight tilt that shifted color with the light from brown to green to an almost orange. Dressed in a black shirt and pants it would be easy for him to meld into the shadows that surrounded them. But it wasn’t his cloths or physical appearance that made Artan think Dark. It was the man’s very essence that coated him in a second skin and brushed against Artan’s senses like an oil slick, dirty and suffocating. He was well stocked with a sturdy build and obvious muscles that would make any warrior angel proud, he also held the six shot revolver in his hand as someone who knew well what they were doing with it. Artan could honestly admit that if both of them were human the outcome of a fight between them would be uncertain, but Artan was as far from a human as a man was from a dog.
For a moment Artan contemplated the possibility that he might be the Corrupter, but as unusual as his aura was it wasn’t right for a Demon or even a Possessed, and he would most likely be dead already. One thing he could also give the man was that he was quiet on his feet. Had they learned some way to mask themselves and if they had, what game was he playing? Artan almost immediately dismissed the notion. What did disturbed him was that there had been no information about this man in the data he had been given.
With a grunt, Artan pushes himself back to his feet. “That way.” the man punctuates his order by motioning with the revolver in his hand. Limping as well as he could, it felt that the bullet had gone thru his fibula, Artan stepped toward the woman with a wince. He leg would heal but shattered bones still hurt.
“We have company Liz.” the man shouts to get her attention as she is trying to calm the children who were spooked by the gun shot.
“Khris? Where have you…” she starts to ask as she turns to face him only for her voice to stop and her expression to harden. “And who is this?” her voice dropping into that hostile tone that only women seem to manage and that all men with brains fear.
For a moment the man named Khris actually seemed chagrined, “I hadn’t actually gotten around to asking that yet.” he admits reluctantly.
Dang it, he was in trouble, Liz didn’t like it when he had to hurt people but she understood when it was necessary. She wouldn’t see how him shooting the angel would be necessary in this instance and he couldn’t tell her without revealing himself. If it did turn out the angel was here for him, or he decided to take Khris out of the equation if he figured out in the next few minutes what Khris was, the wound would give him a little extra time to get away. He was between a rock and a hard place, so he braced himself for the scolding and temporary cold shoulder he could see coming.
“Of course, because naturally shooting him and rattling everyone’s wits within a mile was so much more important.” she scolds as she walks up to Artan without hesitation. Liz really did have more brawn then brains sometimes in Khris’ opinion. “I would offer to fix you up angel but we both know you don’t need it.” using the same sarcastic tone with him that she had with Khris.
Following the exchange with amusement it took Artan aback when the conversation switched suddenly to him. Catching her last words Artan blinked at her in obvious surprise. “Pardon?” he asks.
Smiling arrogantly, “I’m a natural mystic. Your kind stick out clear as day to me.” she goes on to explain. Khris makes a choking sound behind him. She takes a moment to shift her gaze from Artan to Khris and a silent communication goes on between them but from the woman’s expression she was clearly displeased with him. “So why are you here angel?” shifting her attention back to Artan.
Though entirely unexpected, this was good in a way. He’d never had a charge that actually knew what he was before. Though why the fact that she was imbued with powers had not been revealed to him was a gross oversight that he would have to look into. There were too many holes forming in this assignment for his piece of mind, first the man named Khris and then this. But if she already knew about his kind then it would be easier to get her to cooperate with him. “I was sent to protect you.” Khris snorts in derision behind him.
“So you’re a guardian angel?” now intrigued. Since she was a child she had been able to see the angels that wondered on earth but this was only the second time she had ever spoken to one. The first time had been when she was a child; that one had warned her that it was not allowed for mortals to talk to them, but surely she could talk to her own guardian?
What did surprise her a little was his appearance. Though she knew that angels were as varied in how they looked as humans, she observed in fascination that Artan fit the classical renaissance mold almost to a T. Blond hair, light blue eyes, and pale skin coupled with Old English features, he looked more like a magazine model then a warrior until you got a look at the body that came with the face. Even threw his shirt you could tell he was layered in hard muscles. If nothing else he would defiantly stand out in a country that was predominantly dark colored and poor. What in the world had Heaven been thinking sending someone who looked like him here? It only added another layer of fascination to the experience.
Sending Khris a quick glare of annoyance before focusing his attention on his new charge, “Yes, though that is a human term, my class is called Ophanim. I was sent because Hades has decided that you are too important to be allowed to continue your work, and has set a demon called a Corrupter to find you. If I do not find him and kill him he will try to either corrupt or kill you.” Artan informs, watching closely to see how she reacted to the news.
“What do you mean corrupt? And when you say Hades do you mean the actual person or the place?” she asks curiously without even a hint of the fear he knew she should feel.
Deciding to answer the easier question first, “In this case Hades is our word for what you would call Hell. To my knowledge there is no actual individual with the name Hades. As for the Corrupter…” making a sweeping gesture at the children surrounding them, “The children you save. They come to you scared and angry, but also hungry for both food and love. They could grow to make a lot of good in the world. They could also so easily go the other way under the right influence. Should it succeed in acquiring you, it will use the darkest means available to twist your very soul. Make you take these innocents and turn them into an army. Terrorists, mercenaries, whatever you could do the most damage with.” Artan explains.
“It would never happen.” Khris interjects, the fierce protectiveness in his voice successfully startling Artan with its forcefulness.
“Then he will make the choice to kill her.” Artan states blandly, just to see if he can get the same reaction out of Khris a second time.
Turning his enraged expression on Artan, “It would never happen.” he reiterates again. For a flicker of time Artan could have sworn he saw flames in the other mans eyes.
But any questions he had would have to wait. Elizabeth was determined that she would see to the children first and that meant that camp had to be set up and dinner caught and cooked. Artan used it as a chance to scour the area for signs that a demon had been near. So far it seemed as though he had gotten there first.
Nareste had been to thousands of places like this. Taverns, inns, bars, saloons, they had dozens of names but they always drew the same kind of people: the hopeless, the downtrodden, the wicked, and even the evil. They were always good hunting grounds for him to find those he could push over the edge into darkness and then damnation. Even though he would be the first to admit he wasn’t good at it. This was a nicer place though, not very good pickings.
But he wasn’t here for work; this place had the best pecan pie he’d ever had, and one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen.
The form he wore was purposed to be able to affect the human mind and lead them into sin, as such he was provided with every weapon he needed including a physical appearance that would make most envious or lustful. Tall and muscled enough to give him a lean physic that greatly belied his real strength, with striking red hair and a perfectly symmetrical, clean face that he never had to shave. He could have passed as a model that any photographer would drool over.
His powers never worked on her though and he was glad for it. Just because he was evil didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate the light, especially when he took the light to his bed.
He did take the time to spread some greed around to a few gamblers that played cards in the corners, they would find their luck good until they were so hooked that even when they started to lose everything they had they would still continue to play the game. It was a small corruption, it wouldn’t earn him any points but it would keep his overseer off his back for a little while until he could find his target.
Why he was being sent after some templar in the making he had no idea. This wasn’t a job for a Corrupter, and it certainly wasn’t a job for him, but he would do it because he had been ordered to and failing an order was never a good option. In a few hours he would be heading for South America to hunt her down, and spending time in a sweltering jungle wasn’t his idea of a good time. Cool mountain tops and lake sides were more his speed. They should have sent either a Fallen or a Soul Shredder, but it was on him now so he would have to suck it up and do the job. But not before he took the night for himself and found some pleasure between the legs of a certain serving girl.
- Back in South America
Khris worked the rest of the afternoon to get himself under control. Artan’s explanation of what was going on had hit him harder then he thought anything could anymore. There was a small bit of relief that as near as he could tell the angel had no idea who or what he was, but that was over shadowed by the very fact that a demon was after Liz, his Liz. Wouldn’t happen, couldn’t happen.
He had seen some of the things that demons could do to a human and still keep them alive even as they begged for death. He would be a rotting corpse before he would let anything like that happen to her, and he would do far worse whether it exposed him or not.
The force of his resolve surprised him. When had he allowed her to become so important to him? There had only been one other that he had had this reaction for and she was long dead.
Working his frustration out on the forest, he used the nearness of the village and the extra protection Artan provided to hunt down some dinner. He couldn’t allow himself to lose control around the angel. If Artan discovered what he was he would send him away or worse.
That night as they passed dinner around the camp fire Artan took the time to scrutinize the situation he now found himself in. Elizabeth and Khris seemed to be the only adults in attendance, the rest were a collection of children and adolescents ranging from as young as five to as old as sixteen, he counted eight in total. It was a soft target for any demon who was interested in causing a little damage. He was surprised that they had never had any problems before now.
Though there was a village within a few feet of them it was clear that the group was not wanted or welcome by the camp they had cleared and set up just outside the outskirts. “What is the destination from here?” Artan asks, hoping some knowledge of their destination might give him an idea of where the demon might choose to attack. Khris gives him a hard stare but Elizabeth answers the question, seemingly determined to ignore the man’s hostile behavior towards Artan. “We should reach the Brazilian boarder in the next few days. I have a contact there that will get these children to where they need to go. A few days rest and then we head out again. My gathering treks usually last around two months each, some of them longer some shorter, it just depends on how many kids I find and how fast. I have one more trek this year before I head back to the states and someone else takes my place.”
A little confused, this did not agree with the information he had been given either, “You work on a rotation system with others?” trying to figure out the dynamics of what she did.
Nodding her head, “It’s a recent development. Six months in six months out. When I started doing this I was the only one and I’m embarrassed to admit it never occurred to me to ask anyone for help, but it didn’t take long before I was burning out. Trying to keep up this kind of pace will wear you down to a frazil within a couple of months out here. Then you start making mistakes and mistakes out here will get someone hurt or dead.”
“After I met this one,” pointing at a silent Khris who was busy looking disapproving, “He convinced me that I could do more if I let someone else pick up some of the work. I already had a decent system of safe houses and stationary contacts by then so all I needed was more trekker’s. That proved to be the hard part.
Anyone interested had to do two months of treks with us to prove they could handle it. I also realized, after Khris joined me and we got out of a few tight spots together, how dangerous it really was for anyone to be doing this on their own. So I also started requiring everyone to be paired off.
I’m still working on extending the times of the other pairs. Right now I only have two and they’re coming out for two months each until I can be sure that they can handle the longer time and conditions on their own. We went thru several dozen people before we were able to find the four we did. People like the idea of trekking thru the jungle rescuing kids until they actually have to do it. Then you would be amazed how many things suddenly get in the way.” Elizabeth concludes.
“Not really.” Artan admits. At her questioning expression, “I have a lot more experience with humans then you would think.” Artan answers.
Nodding in comprehension, “I suppose that makes since if you spend your time guarding them. I mean, you can walk among humans and they have no idea who you are, and since your immortal you’re probably like thousands of years old.” her statement more of a question.
With a smirk and shake of his head, “Not quite, I was born during the late Roman Empire so only somewhere around eighteen to nineteen hundred.” Artan clarifies.
“Oh, well, only around eighteen hundred.” Elizabeth exclaims with overdone sarcasm.
Amused, Artan looks around the camp once more, “When you talk about it you almost make it sound easy,” gesturing to the kids around them, “I am sure it is nowhere close though?” clearly a request for more information.
Nodding her head in agreement, “It’s not: aside from avoiding all the border patrols, there are the cartel militias, wild predators, add in the risk of dehydration and starvation, and it becomes a death trap if you don’t know what you are doing. Before Khris joined me, I would have to leave kids behind if my group got too big and just hope they would last until I could come back for them. If I caved in and took too many…” shaking her head, “I only made that mistake once. Since Khris joined, I can take twice, sometimes three times more kids then I used to and have only lost a few.” she states with pride and an appreciative glance over at her compatriot; who becomes squeamish under the unexpected praise.
Elizabeth’s statement causes Artan to give Khris more scrutiny. If he were some type of demon, even a low level one, then the number of deaths should have gone up as he picked off the weak. Even a demon on a long term undercover wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to lead the innocent to their deaths before they had earned salvation. So if that wasn’t the case then something else was going on. Could he be a half-breed. The glimpse he had gotten earlier had been small, but it had been enough for him to be certain that Khris was something more than human.
Deciding to leave it alone for now, Artan’s thoughts are interrupted by an announcement for bedtime that was met quickly by protests. “Bed.” Khris’ barked order was met by instant silence and compliance as children shuffled and scrambled to get in their bedrolls. Quirking a brow, “You have a way.” Artan comments with admiration.
Shrugging his shoulders and looking a little uncomfortable, “Elizabeth spoils them. Someone has to be in charge or it would be chaos.” Khris answers. Looking to Elizabeth, “I’ll take first watch. Go ahead and get some sleep.” Khris offers.
Nodding in agreement, “Sure, but first.” adjusting herself to focus on Artan, “Tell us about this demon. What’s its objective, what’s it going to do, and frankly…why me?” she asks with unwavering determination.
Taking a second to make sure he had his thoughts straight; he didn’t want to scare her but at the same time it was vital she knew what kind of danger she was in. Finally finding the words, “Ultimately you will be the primary target, if anyone else gets hurt or ends up dead in the mean time, so much the better.
As far as why you? At first I was not sure myself what it was that would have drawn demonic interest to you. At a glance you seem too insignificant to end up on any of the target rosters that we have access to. Now if a demon happened across you they would gladly cause some carnage but it takes someone special to end up as a specific target. Demons are not exactly the most obedient foot soldiers.
However, now that I know that you are a mystic it makes more sense. I am guessing you have the Sight; that is how you knew what I was and it is how you choose which children to save correct?” looking for confirmation before continuing.
Shaking her head, “Not always, it would be too cruel to take one and leave others behind in a bad situation, but I never leave one behind if I see something in them.” she admits, “It’s too dangerous for them and for those around them. It also leaves them open to exploitation if someone figures out what they are.” seeming to speak from experience.
With her confirmation he continues, “As I said before the demon will try to capture you first. With time and the most brutal of methods it can devise, it will twist your mind and your soul until it has total control over you, and then it will unleash you to perform whatever purpose it chooses or has been commanded.
I can only speculate, but with your sight you would be able to find the most power humanity has to offer in both adults and children, and at the same time be able to identify any agents of Heaven that would try to stop you. That makes you the perfect coordinator for operations here on earth.” as he tries to contemplate the possibilities.
“Okay, but why does it need me or any human at all, don’t they have their own powers?” Elizabeth asks, more curious then afraid at this point.
Nodding to confirm, “They do, but there are rules both sides have to follow or run the risk of starting a war here on earth. Something neither side wants, not yet anyway.
So for right now neither demons nor angels can influence a group of humans directly. We have to work thru a vessel, a single human that we can manipulate, convince, or bargain with to carry out our desires. As a mystic, your abilities make you fit the criteria for that role perfectly, for either side.” Artan explains as best he can.
“So what do we do about it?” Khris asks gruffly, though he had a few ideas of his own.
“For now I wait. Until the demon makes itself known I don’t have a target. Once it appears I can identify and kill it.” Artan answers though he has the feeling Khris won’t like that answer.
“So…for right now I’m bait?” Elizabeth questions rhetorically and a little insulted.
From the tension coursing thru Khris, Artan knew this next answer was not going to be received well, “Essentially, but know that if it comes down to a choice between killing the demon and keeping you safe your safety will always be the first priority.” he tries to reassure.
“Well. That ‘s comforting.” completely sarcastic as she rises to her feet, “In any case it’s clear we won’t be able to do any demon hunting tonight unless it attacks us all while we’re sleeping, so I’m going to catch some z’s” striding over to her bed roll.
Artan can’t miss the pointed stare Khris is giving her as she does; more specifically her well shaped dare ‘air. “See you in a few hours Khris.” she says as she curls up in her bedroll and quickly falls asleep.
Waiting a few minutes to be sure Liz is down for the count before speaking, Khris turns his attention to Artan, ready to take full advantage of the angel even if there is a demon now after Liz “You do realize that we aren’t waking her up right?” with a cork of his brow, testing to see how far he could push it.
“And why is that?” Artan asks curiously, wondering what kind of thoughts are going thru Khris’ head with what he has learned.
Not sure if the angel was being deliberately dense or messing with him, “If there’s some demon after her, we’re not going to leave her alone on watch to get grabbed in the middle of the night. And since we’re both going to be awake guarding her, there’s no reason to not let her get a full night’s sleep. Liz is tough but she is no match for a demon in a fight.” Khris evaluates reasonably. “Besides, do you even need sleep?” he quips, even though the question did have an intent.
Adding this evaluation of their situation to his current assessment of the man, Artan decides to indulge his question, “It is only in Heaven that I do not need to eat or sleep. Down here I need to do both the same as everything else; one of the downsides of having a physical body to maintain. Our only benefit is that the demon will have the same restrictions.” Artan explains while grateful for small blessings.
Shrugging his shoulders, “Good thing there’s two of us to carry the load then.” Khris answers as he leans back against the tree trunk he was currently using as a chair.
Curious about the man, “And what chance do you think you have against a demon in a fight should it attack in the night?” Artan asks condescendingly, one thing he had learned quickly was that Khris had a bit of an ego.
With a cheeky grin, “More a chance than most.” Khris answers, being intentionally vague. He didn’t want to give himself away but he didn’t want the angel to think he was another human to protect. If he could turn himself into an ally before Artan discovered what he was maybe he would let him stay. And Khris knew that if he stayed, Artan would figure out what he was, it was inevitable because he wouldn’t let Liz die or be taken if he could stop it.
Scrutinizing him closely, “It is not just the kids is it? There’s something that she saw about you too?” Artan surmises out loud. Though he already knew that, he figured it didn’t hurt to ask. Khris knowing that he suspected wouldn’t matter in the long run.
With a lope-sided grin that didn’t fool Artan for a moment, “Yeah, you could say that.” looking over at a sleeping Elizabeth, “She saw right thru me the day we met. I was in a dark place then and I had never met anyone who had abilities beyond normal humans who could control them like she could. She saved me from myself and I've been with her ever since. Good thing too, you would think the woman had a death wish the way she acts sometimes.” shaking his head at the ambiguity.
Narrowing his gaze thoughtfully, “You care about her?” Artan surmises though he had a feeling that Elizabeth was oblivious to the fact.
Shrugging his shoulders in an attempt to make light of Artan’s words, “What’s not to care about? She puts her life on the line every day to save those who can’t protect themselves and tries to give them a better life, and all despite the fact that she doesn’t have to do any of it if she didn’t want to. Some days I wish a woman like her had found a younger me.” Khris states honestly, he hadn’t decided on the angel yet but so far he was a little too insightful for Khris’ liking.
“I take it she does not know?” Artan surmises.
Shaking his head, “No, and that’s the way it stays.” giving Artan a warning glare, “Woman like her could do way better than someone like me. Only reason I’m admitting it to you is so you know how far I’ll go to protect her, even from herself, and so I can warn you.” as an old anger starts to flare, “I saw the look in your eye when you laid eyes on her for the first time and the way you’ve been looking ever since. I know that look and I know what angels do to mortals. So this is your only warning, leave off her or I will cut your balls off and wear them as a necklace.” Khris states, surprisingly calm considering the subject matter, which let Artan know that he was likely only that much more dangerous for it.
“You think you could human?” Artan dares just to see how confident this man truly was and to see if he would reveal more. He wasn’t about to tell him that any interest he had had in Elizabeth had died a quick death with the bullet Khris had put in his leg. Khris’ comment suggested that he knew something of angels and Artan wondered about that.
Grinning wickedly, “More a chance than most.” Khris quips again with a knowing smile.
“So what power do you possess?” Artan asks, not really expecting an answer.
Grinning, “Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” Khris replies confrontationally before leaning back against the tree behind him in a deceptively relaxed pose. “Get some sleep golden boy. I’ll wake you in a few hours. And make sure to ask Liz about her money tomorrow, she doesn’t think about it much but it’s enough that it would make her a target even without her power.” squirming around to make himself comfortable.
Understanding that he wasn’t going to get a straight answer tonight, Artan looks around. Not really seeing any other recourse for the moment, he lays in the bedroll that they had pulled out for him earlier and tries to get some sleep, but it was fitful at best without being accustomed to the night sounds of the jungle.
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