“We cannot keep them back any longer.”
“This gate is lost!”
“Gabriel, take the girl and flee. Whatever you do, do not let her fall into enemy hands!”
A winged form bursts from the thatch roof of a village house. Mere moments later, Hell literally breaks loose on the small town, wretched demons descending upon all those unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire. Gabriel’s flight doesn’t go unnoticed by these denizens of the sulfurous pit, as was quickly evidenced by four of the monsters taking flight after him.
Gabriel looks back at the snarling beasts with their twisted horns and red smoke spewing from their putrid nostrils. They are catching up. He glances back at the little bundle in his arms.
“Hold on tightly, Adia,” he tells her softly before putting on a sudden burst of speed. More demons take up the chase as Gabriel works hard to maneuver around their vicious attacks.
A demon with long sharp claws takes a swipe and gouges Gabriel’s leg. The boy’s grip loosens with the pain and shock of the wound. Another demon, this one with the face of a dog and a pig and the body of a barrel, slams into Gabriel’s side and knocks the girl from his arms and sends her plummeting towards the dark woods below.
The child’s screams are overpowered by the wind and the unearthly noises of the demons who failed to notice her descent. The demons see Gabriel’s empty arms.
“Hsss, this boy was merely a decoy!” Snarls a snake-like demon.
“He was trying to trick us!” Grunts another.
The demons turn back to the village. Only one remains, having seen the child fall. Gabriel dives for the forest, desperate to reach Adia before the demon does.
“Give it up, boy,” the succubus cackles beside him. “You have failed your mission, and the girl is mine!” The demoness suddenly tucks her wings in, sending herself into a straight free-fall.
Gabriel, desperate, sends himself careening directly behind the fiend. He grabs onto the succubus’s legs and throws her backwards, but she comes back on him almost instantly. The two tussle in the air like a pair of angry cats, still falling at breakneck speeds after the child. The closer they get to the girl, the more desperately they claw and slash at each other.
Gabriel tosses the demoness aside and grabs Adia mere moments before she would have hit the trees and slows to a stop, landing just below the canopy of leaves. Finally succumbing to his grievous wounds, the teenage angel slumps against the tree’s trunk, blood oozing from each cut and gash.
Breathing heavily, he looks down at the blanket-wrapped girl in his arms. “Adia, are you hurt?”
“Gabriel,” the little girl cries, “so scared. Don’t like fall.”
“Hush, you’re safe now,” the boy soothes, hugging the child closely.
“Blood,” Adia gasps, seeing the redness that is soaking through the angel’s tabard. “Gabriel hurt.” A white light begins to emanate from the girl, tendrils of gentle power caressing each wound on the boy’s skin and closing them as if they had never been there to begin with. A silver necklace of angel wings cradling a shining moonstone appears around the girl’s neck.
“So that’s your power,” Gabriel sighs. “I’m glad… that you’re safe.”
“Gabriel, what wrong?”
“Nothing, Adia. I’m just tired.” Gabriel’s eyes close and his breathing soon slows to a steady sleeping rhythm. Adia looks at his sleeping face, then looks to his angel wing necklace carrying a stone of Ocean Jasper. She reaches out and touches the stone. Its warmth radiates through her and lulls her to sleep in Gabriel’s arms.
Five elderly angels gather around a stone table, a large ball of light filling the centre. Concern is etched on every one of their bearded faces.
“The boy is late,” states one.
“I told you it was foolish to send Gabriel on such a mission,” another sneers. “We should have sent one of the archangels to transport the girl to safety, not a newborn angel still wet behind the ears.”
“The boy may be still new to his wings, but his ability is undeniable,” argues one angel with a long silver beard. “His power of protection is close to that of Michael’s.”
“That may be true,” agrees the youngest of the elders, “but his skills in using that power are as yet unrefined.”
“Let us send him some aid, then,” suggests the final elder. “Even the strongest archangel would have trouble against hundreds of demons fresh out of Hell.”
“Very well,” the others agree.
Morning does not come over the forest. When Gabriel awakes, it’s just as dark, if not darker, than when he had fallen asleep. He looks down at Adia nestled in his arms, still slumbering peacefully. He sighs in relief.
Creeping to the end of the limb, Gabriel looks up into the sky. What he sees is not an encouraging sight. Dozens of demons patrol the skies, spreading darkness in their wake and blocking out the sun.
“If we don’t leave soon, that darkness will corrupt Adia,” he whispers to himself.
Seeing no possible means of escape by air, Gabriel decides to flee on foot. Silently he drops from the tree to the ground. One of his legs collapses beneath him as he lets out a gasp of pain. “The wound is gone but the pain still lingers,” he mutters to himself. “If that was a demon of rot that caused that wound, I could still be in serious trouble.”
Gabriel limps towards his original goal, still cradling the sleeping child. He doesn’t get very far before a demon happens upon the two. The demon, a beast with fangs nearly as long as its legs and eyes that burned like a fire, leaps on Gabriel’s back and knocks him off balance. Adia tumbles out of his arms unseen and into a bush where she wakes to silently witness.
“Where is it?” the demon snarls into Gabriel’s ear, digging its claws into his back. “Where is the child that the master wants?” One of the monster’s feet presses on one of Gabriel’s wings, slowly crushing the bone beneath.
Gabriel could only cry out in his pain, but with one desperate look to where Adia hides, the command to run is made clear. Adia didn’t hesitate to run away as fast as her little legs could carry her, and she didn’t stop running until she had left the dark sky behind.