An Original Novel
“Lory,” Ario nodded at the can of spray paint, “Now.” She nodded and snatched it up, spraying Ashriel in the face. He coughed and wiped his eyes to allow himself to see, again. She quickly drew a symbol on the ceiling above his head. It was a circle that was cut in half by a single line. On one side was what looked like a stick figure and a squiggle. On the other was a three feathered wing surrounded by six dots and six lines. Lory, because of her in depth knowledge of angels, had discovered the symbol in the sacred text of Sir Eliangelos Von Kahmi, who had changed his name after a beautiful female angel came to him and bonded with him. Of course, the man had assumed to have gone mad and was burned for his disturbance of the people. His works were stashed in a box and shipped to his illegitimate half-sister, as his daughter had mysteriously disappeared after this, as did his wife. Eliangelos' great nephew several times removed then found them in the attic after his mother's death and sold them on eBay to a collector of peculiar works. The Occultary then acquired his books when the collector passed away, along with some other mythical works. The symbol itself was a binding spell that the angels of long before had used for more adventurous recreation, but as the angels had, much like the humans, invented much easier forms of bondage, the symbol had gone into near extinction, bar for a few very knowledgeable angels. Fortunately, none of those present at the time had been aware of this, so the situation remained less sexual than the symbol's original creator had intended it.
“There we go,” Lory smiled, tossing the can aside, a confident smirk set on her face.
“What is this sorcery?” Ashriel demanded, glaring at the three of them, finding himself incapable of moving beyond the circle, “Release me at once!”
“A binding symbol from the work of Sir Eliangelos Von Kahmi,” Lory replied, “You aren't going anywhere.”
“Eliangelos?” Ashriel frowned, “You stupid ape, that man was bonded with a freelance angel... This is probably an intercourse symbol of the ancient spell-casters.”
“Nobody asked you!” Lory snapped, “Eliangelos was a great man with incredible knowledge of the angels, which he gave to humanity!”
“Typical mortal,” Ashriel rolled his eyes, “Just release me.”
“No can do,” Ario shook his head, “We don't want to lose our memories, Ashriel – Don't really want anyone messing around with our heads, at all. You understand, I'm sure.”
“I do not care for your emotional preferences,” Ashriel answered, “I have a mission that must be carried out so that I may return to my post.”
“I thought you said angels weren't emotionless,” Ario turned to Damiel.
“They aren't,” Damiel insisted, “Ashriel has them too... He just hides them from humanity. Your kind isn’t exactly known for being the kindest... Emotion is a display of weakness.”
“Emotion is more than a display, Damiel,” Ashriel stated, “It is weakness in its purest form. Anger and sadness blind in an attack. Happiness and hope are falsities that are destroyed by the smallest of things. Love is the absolute worst of all. The suffering and grief it causes in good people. Righteous people. It burns them and leaves nothing but murder in its path.”
“You talk like your opinions are from experience,” Ario pointed out.
“I'm near a millennium old,” Ashriel explained, “I have made mistakes, as you have. Unlike humanity, however, I have learned from them.”
“I'm gonna go get my stuff from my bike,” Lory said, “I'll be right back.”
“Stuff? Lory, what are you-” Ario demanded, but she was gone, Damiel following obediently behind her. He sighed.
“She's charming,” Ashriel growled.
“She's a longtime friend,” Ario answered, “I suggest you watch it. I can't necessarily hurt you, but she can.”
“What are you?” Ashriel asked.
“What do you mean?” Ario wondered, confused.
“You. What are you?” Ashriel repeated, “I thought you were human, perhaps, but I no longer think that. So... What are you?”
“You're mistaken,” Ario insisted, “I'm about as human as they get.”
“You said you think she can hurt me,” Ashriel changed the subject, “It is not her that I am worried about. And it is also not I that you should be fighting against.”
“Who should I be worried about then?” Ario raised an eyebrow.
“Back!” Lory reappeared, holding up a few items, “What do you think?” In her hands was a pair of cuffs and a bottle of what looked like sparkling golden powder. The cuffs were branded with markings of unknown origin that Ario could only assume had some kind of magical significance.
“What is that?” Ario blinked.
“Angel cuffs,” she explained, clipping one end around Ashriel's wrist, “Come here.”
“Why? I don't want to wear them,” Ario frowned, “Who the hell wants to be stuck with him.”
“No, they're great,” she insisted, “They make it so the angel chained in them has to follow the command of the other thing they're chained to.”
“So, why don't you put them on?” Ario demanded, “If they're so great?”
“Because he obviously like you and despises me,” Lory replied, “And if we're going to be keeping a prisoner, I don't think it's fair to be cruel to him.”
“Fine,” Ario walked over, allowing her to clip the other piece to him, “We aren't staying like this for long, though.”
“Of course not,” she chuckled, “I had Damiel put my bike in your garage. We're gonna be gone a while.”
“Gone?” Ario asked, watching her scrape away at the edge of the binding symbol on the ceiling so as to keep from potentially killing Ashriel, “Gone where?” Lory opened the bottle and took a pinch of the powder, making sure all four of them were in a close enough range and throwing it down between them.
“Lastry!” she shouted, a puff of smoke billowing around where they'd been as the powder magically transported them. When Ario opened his eyes, expecting the smoke to have cleared, and instead of his living room, they stood in the main room of what looked like a supernaturalist bunker. Considering Lory's interests and pastimes, however, that wasn't too abstract of an assumption. She stepped away from the others and up to a table, picking up a small key on it.
“Where are we?” Ario demanded.
“Lastry,” Lory answered, “It's my own little batcave, if you will. The Occultary built it for me. Do you like it?”
“You have a secret hideout?” Ario sighed, “Let me guess... Since we were kids?”
“Yep,” Lory confirmed, “You'd get one too, you know... If you joined us.”
“No, Lory,” Ario refused, tugging on the cuffs, dragging Ashriel behind him as he went to look around a bit, “Come on.”
“These books,” Ashriel walked up to a shelf, pulling one of the shelves and flipping through the pages, they're not real...” He dropped the book to the ground, ungracefully, with a thud. The pages landed face down and a few of them folded awkwardly.
“Exact replicas,” Lory nodded, unaffected by the treatment of the book, “For the most part, the originals are either in the Occultary master library or don't exist. I'm supposed to turn in all my originals, as well...”
“Supposed to?” Ashriel raised an eyebrow, “You say that as if you, perhaps, haven't.”
“I came across one book not too long ago,” Lory admitted, “It was... Different. I couldn't bare to part with it.”
“May we see it?” Ashriel asked. Lory hesitated, giving him a suspicious look.
“Why?” she inquired.
“We could help you identify it,” Ashriel answered, “I'm sure you're very curious to know what it is. More importantly, however, is the fact that you can read it – Am I correct?”
“Yeah... How'd you know that?” Lory wondered.
“Because I know what this book is,” Ashriel answered, “I just have to be sure...”
“What book?” Ario spoke up, confused at the exchange between the two. Lory glanced at him, briefly, and smirked. She walked back over to the table and felt under the bottom of it for a moment before she found what she was looking for – A key hole. The small key slid into it, perfectly, and with a turn, the table began to open. Lory stepped back and allowed the center to fold away and reveal a glass pane laying horizontally. The pane raised out of the opening to reveal a black leather-bound book with golden lettering on the cover. The language was one none of them knew, but when Lory carefully picked it up and held it so Ario could read it, he knew exactly what it said.
“Promiscuel?” he said, looking up at Lory, not quite sure what was going on, “So? What is it?”
“A book,” Ashriel answered, drinking every corner of the book, like his life depended on it, “The book itself is not all that important. It's the words inside that are so valuable.”
“Why?” Lory asked.
“Before any of us were even ideas,” Ashriel explained, “There was a species known as the Adventa. They were the first creations – The original prototypes. They had the power to create by writing. Some characters in their works were destined for certain fates... Others, they could do whatever they wanted, as long as they fulfilled their single task. The Adventa had their own language that is wound into the fabric of every living thing. That's why anyone can understand it. They began to fight against each other, though, and the Creator was forced to destroy them. He wanted to destroy their creations, too, but he'd grown fond of them and allowed them to stay, even though many were destined to die. This is why the language was lost. The power was in the words, however, and in smart enough hands, someone could acquire their power all over again. Of course, this will end in catastrophe. You must give that book to me.”
“No way,” Lory refused, stepping a little farther away from him, “If it's as dangerous as you say it is, there is no way I'm giving it to you.”
“And you think you can protect it?” Ashriel scoffed, “It’s bound to end up in the hands of the Occultary if left with you – They are corrupt and flawed humans who will not understand the bounds of their own power. Give it to me.”
“If I did,” Lory asked, hypothetically, “What would I get in return?”
“I will not bargain with a crawling piece of vermin-“ Ashriel bit.
“How about the agreement not to tell Heaven about us,” Ario suggested, “You can go – With both the book and Damiel – and we keep our memories and our normal life. Sound good?”
“Not particularly, no,” Ashriel frowned, “But it does seem fair… Very well. Now, give me the book.”
“Nah,” Lory declined.
“I will meet your terms!” Ashriel insisted, “Give me the book!”
“I don’t want you to meet my terms,” Lory replied, “I want my angel and my book and if I keep them both I get to keep my memory as well.”
“Yeah, but I don't want to be chained to him, forever!” Ario cried, “Besides, we can't keep them as prisoners... It's wrong, Lory.”
“I know,” Lory sighed, “We can't just give into them just because they're angels, you know.”
“Of anyone to say that,” Ario shook his head, “You would have been my last guess.”
“Well, it makes more sense, actually,” Lory replied, “I've spent so much time learning about them and doing research that I know their true nature while anyone else would just assume they were in the right just because of who they were. That, in any case, is a really stupid thing to think about anything and about angels - it's just naive.”
“We need to meet at a middle ground here,” Ashriel decided, “Otherwise, we'll be stuck like this for all eternity. Not that I have any worry about dying or the like, but it would be a tad bit uncomfortable to be chained to the rotting, dead corpse of a man long since passed on to Heaven.”
“I'd prefer it if you did not speak of me like that while I'm standing right here.” Ario growled.
“I am indifferent to your preferences,” Ashriel returned.
“I'm indifferent to your indifference,” Ario snarled, “Now shut up! I know what we can do.”
“What's that?” Lory wondered.
“This,” he stole the book from her and held it between his two hands, “I'm gonna give the both of you fifteen second to figure yourselves out before I rip it in half.”
“No! Don't!” Lory objected, “It's a valuable artifact!”
“Fourteen seconds,” Ario counted down.
“Okay! Okay! Phoebe!” Lory turned to Ashriel, “You promise to take care of it and make sure it remains in mint condition?”
“Of course,” Ashriel scoffed, folding his arms across his chest in amusement, “What do you take me for?”
“Don't get snippy with me,” Lory growled.
“Twelve seconds,” Ario rolled his eyes.
“Alright! I agree to the established terms,” Lory held out her hand to shake.
“And what was that?” Ashriel raised an eyebrow, not phased in the slightest.
“You godda- You get the book and the bird. We get our memories and your promise not to report us to your superiors,” Lory hissed.
“Seems reasonable,” Ashriel held out his hand, shaking it with Lory's in a gesture of agreement. Ario sighed and handed the book to Ashriel. He held up his cuffed wrist, “Will you release me, now?”
“One more thing,” Ario stopped Lory from unlocking his cuffs, “Will we see you, again?”
“If all goes according to plan,” Ashriel answered, “No.”
“Just how we want it,” Ario nodded, letting Lory release them. As soon as he was free, Ario was crushed in a hug.
“I'mma gonna miss ya!” Damiel sniffled, suffocating the younger boy just enough to make it uncomfortable, “Ya were both so kind to me! I'll never forget ya! Not even after ya are long gone!”
“Thanks, Damiel,” Ario muttered. He repeated his process with Lory.
“I'd figure out exactly what you are, Ario Pacrifa,” Ashriel said, looking at him with those captivating green eyes, “Or I will truly be the least of your problems.”
“Why are you even telling me this?” Ario demanded.
“Because you have helped a dear friend of mine,” Ashriel answered, “And seem intelligent to heed my warnings. The very least I can do is this.” He turned and grabbed Damiel by the arm. They were gone and Lory and Ario found themselves alone once again.