Raziel guided his puppets through the sudden storm, following the unnerving laughter of a trickling stream that had appeared suddenly and sweetly demanded they follow. In the surrounding winds the howls of a growing army of choirs could be heard and Raziel’s own worry for Brig was echoed in the minds of the loves still at his side.
“Come, quickly.” The stream that hurried in front of them demanded. It’s flow disappearing behind them making it appear more like a snake than a body of water. “Hurry, hurry.”
“Raziel, I’m scared.” Shana shuddered as she spoke. The others seemed so calm to her, but it was taking everything she had to focus on keeping pace with them instead of bursting into tears. “Where is Brig?”
“You’ll all be together soon.” The water answered sweetly. “Don’t be frightened. We are here to help.”
“Help?” Raziel answered coldly. ”Time has changed you.”
“What happened!?” Shana ran ahead when she saw another path converging with theirs and Presia carrying Nei in her arms. “Is he going to be okay?”
“His heart was pierced.” Presia answered quietly as she continued to follow a flame that flickered wildly in front of them. “He is weak, but I am hopeful. My Lord Frost is not one to give up easily.”
“He was defending me.” Bishop looked away ashamed as he carried Neka. “Those damn things came after Neka.”
“Have you seen Brig?” Shana interrupted. “He went looking for Neka.”
“Neka is sorry.” She turned to Shana with sad eyes and quivering lip unsure of how to deal with feeling of guilt and remorse. She stiffened up and bunched her fingers into fists in Bishops shirt. “Neka will ask Daddy to make it better.”
“She is just a kid.” Bishop fumbled over the apology. “She, I didn’t mean for this to happen… I got lost… We would have…”
“We haven’t seen him.” Farren laid his hand on the nervous vampire’s head and simplified the answer for Bishop. “She ran off and he followed. I’m sorry it led to the rest of you getting separated.”
“Where are these weird things taking us?” Van demanded impatiently.
“To Lucifer.” Raziel eyed the flame and the water that now moved serenely below it. “Though, I’m curious as to why.”
“Well, detour for me and the pretty lady.” The flame danced aside opening clearing where the residents of Golod had just stopped a moment to rest. “You can handle these stragglers.”
“Hey.” Asura sighed and approached the edge of a large glassy pond where strange critters frolicked. “The rock just said we could rest.”
“Where did that thing go?” Bezer looked around for their quiet guide. “Did you kick it Azazel?”
“No.” Azazel laughed and snatched Asura up before she could lean over and stroke one of the critters. “Come on. Break time is over.”
“It’s best not to pet the Vicern.” The water warned. “Tricky little cuties.”
Nikolai took one last look at the creatures. Like white otters with the black spines of porcupines. He could not begin to imagine what horrible poison tipped those quills and the thought of Asura so nearly finding out first hand made him feel ill. He took Bezer’s hand to quietly comfort himself and followed after the others, stopping a moment to give a nod of compassion to Presia as she stayed behind with her flickering guide.
“They’ll be okay.” The water spoke again once they were on their way. “I just know it.”
“These guides…” Nikolai looked to Raziel for answers. “Angels? Demons?”
“Neither.” Raziel was uneasy explaining the nature of their host while their current situation relied so heavily on them, but there was no harm in a few simple truths. “We gave them no real name. They could be called manipulators, elementals, djinn.”
“Ooo, Djinn.” The water laughed. “I like that one. Sounds fancy.”
“Use it.” Raziel responded emotionlessly to acknowledge her remark before he continued. “They are, to my understanding, the most powerful magic locked away in Eden.”
“A puddle and a rock?” Azazel laughed until he was suddenly hit by a wall of water that knocked Asura from his arms and held him against the wall of wind where he struggled not to inhale the force of the torrent.
“Enough.” Nikolai helped Asura to her feet and attempted to keep his temper. “Humor is Azazel’s way. He meant nothing by it.”
“Gotcha.” Bezer caught her brother as the wave subsided and let him choke out the attack over her shoulder. As she stroked his back she winked over to Asura to let her know he was okay. “Just be glad we weren’t still with the rock, stupid.”
“Fuck off, Bezer.” Azazel pushed away and shook his hair dry. ”Let’s just keep going.”
“What about Brig?” Shana took Raziel’s hand. “Aren’t you worried?”
“I am, puppet.” Raziel squeezed her fingers. “I think we are all being led to the same destination. We will see him soon.”