Chapter 7 – The Angry
Ethan dragged the angel out of the room and to the front door. Shoving the other’s coat into his arms and giving him two seconds to either put his shoes on or pick them up before he shoved him out the door. Salvador stumbled out on to the front porch angrily, putting on his coat in a rush. “Do you mind?” he asked in irritation as he dusted himself off. “She’s in danger!”
“She’s going to be fine for the night,” Ethan responded with a roll of his eyes. “Almost all of that magic she had built up over the years was passed on to me. You can barely sense that she’s a normal witch right now, let alone special. Also…” he eyed the brown haired young man, “Are you an idiot? She doesn’t want us there right now. Respect boundaries.”
Salvador scoffed, “I’m going to take advice from a demon about respect? You’re the reason I’m worried. Why are you even here? What’s your plan?”
“No plan, I’m winging it so to speak,” Ethan shrugged. It was ridiculous really. He didn’t know why he was sticking around. Yes, Lalia had given him a name but there was no official contract between them besides that. He felt a bit of a duty to protect her because of the name but he could also easily leave. There was nothing binding him here. Why was he sticking around? “Chalk it up to…simple curiosity.”
“Curiosity?” the angel sneered, “The moment I leave you’re going to kill her.”
“I promised I wasn’t going to hurt her,” Ethan argued back, “God, angels are sometimes the stupidest things. A demon holds to their words. I made a promise and I have no plans to break it. What’s wrong with hanging out nearby? I owe her a debt for saving my hide and giving me a magical boost. You don’t have to trust me but she does.” This caused a spark of realization the moment those words left his lips. “Oh I see how it is…”
“What?” Salvador said defensively. “See how what is?”
“You’re upset that she trusts me and not you,” Ethan grinned wide and the expression on Salvador’s face told him he was right on the mark. The angel bristled immediately, cheeks flushing and his jaw tensing irritably. “I’m right!” he proclaimed.
“I’m upset she trusts a demon,” the angel bustled, crossing his arms over his chest before quickly distracting himself by doing up his coat and grabbing his hat from his pocket to shove on his head. “Given the track record of demons I don’t think that’s unreasonable.”
“I think it’s reasonable that she doesn’t trust you,” Ethan said, “After what you pulled.”
“A-after what I?” Salvador turned on Ethan, taking a step closer to him and pointing an accusing finger in his face. “You just got here. You have no idea what’s going on and what I’ve had to do. I was doing the best I could to protect her and keep her safe until you came along and ruined it.”
This was the final straw for the demon. He had had enough of the other’s attitude. High and mighty and thinking he knew what was best without any consideration for those around him. That he knew what was the ideal way for someone else’s life to proceed. That he knew what was best for Lalia and knew more about the demon’s goals and ambitions than Ethan knew about himself. The culmination caused him to snap. Grabbing the front of the angel’s coat he wrenched him forward and then turned to slam his back against the wall of the house. He crossed his forearm across the other’s collarbones, pinning him to the wall as his eyes flashed red with fury and his black hair seemed to move unnaturally like the fur of his hound self.
“All right angel boy. I’ve had enough with your attitude,” he growled, “You think you were doing the right thing for her? Hiding her abilities. You’ve left her wholly unprepared for what’s going to happen!” All these years she could have been learning about herself. Instead she’d had barely anything and could perhaps do some tiny little tricks. “Destiny has it in store for her and it’s going to be rough. You thought instead of helping her, preparing her, teaching her…you’d shelter her from it and hope that the world just forgot that it’s going to take a giant shit on her? Get your head out of your asshole. You weren’t doing anything to help her. You were sticking your fingers in your ears and ignoring her abilities.”
The angel had been contemplating fighting back. He’d seen the panic in his eyes and the way he was preparing for a fight. Though the expression also told him something else. This angel had been sitting back on his laurels thinking that everything was in line. He hadn’t just been protecting Lalia from combat…he’d been protecting himself as well.
A disbelieving laugh left him. “You’re not even ready yourself for what’s going to happen…” he said, less angry now and his eyes fading back to the stony grey. He released the angel’s jacket and pulled away from him. “You don’t know a thing about pain. Sure, you may have been born into that human body and experienced a bit of pain here and there. It’s going to get worse and you’re not prepared.”
“I’m ready to fight anything that comes and I don’t need the hindrance of a demon around,” Salvador protested but he sounded a bit unsettled. “This is my role and I can handle it.”
“I was dragged out of hell and suffered these past years,” Ethan sighed, looking up to the sky as the colours of sunset had begun to leave stripes of pink and orange across the clouds. “I know pain and I know the look of someone whose not ready. I don’t need your permission to stay here. You’re not her gatekeeper, her babysitter…hell…you’re not even her friend. I won’t stop you from trying to help protect her but I think there’s a lot you need to start thinking about.”
“Look who thinks they know everything now,” Salvador growled but Ethan knew this anger was coming from a different place now. He’d hit a nerve and the other was struggling with it. He watched as the angel tugged his coat back into a decent look. “I’m going to go home but I swear to heaven if something goes wrong and she ends up hurt…I’m going to do a whole lot worse than banish you.”
“If it makes you feel better I promise to stay outside,” Ethan teased.
Salvador did not respond to this, shoving past the other and down the steps. Ethan watched him go away, crossing his arms across his chest. He felt the nipping cold of evening descending. He should have asked Lalia for a blanket or something. For now he allowed his body to shift into the form of the large canine and padded away from the front door. In this form normal mortals wouldn’t catch sight of him at all so he found a spot near the door and under the porchlight and curled up to sleep. He’d be the warding spell around the house.
He could not sleep right away though. There was too much to think about. As of this morning he had been a dog on the run from a cruel master. He had been a murderer who chased down innocents on the command of someone more powerful than himself. He’d been chained to someone against his will and he had fought so hard to be free. Now he found himself willingly attached to someone else. A girl who was not yet an adult but had just been told of the weight of the world. To be fair it had been a lot to dump on her and they hadn’t even touched on the positive aspects. Yes, she was going to face a lot of danger but she had the power to do amazing things. Enerkists had helped bring up empires and civilizations. They’d helped with the domestication of animals, the farming of crops en masse, bringing peace by introducing political systems and preventing natural disasters. For thousands of years, before recorded history, they had helped many. There had been times that the world was shaped in a negative way, he had not been aware of the Black Death connection, but even still that had shaped the world. It was an important event in history and without it the world would likely be a very different place.
Now she had to shoulder that. It perhaps wasn’t surprising that it was why he wanted to stay close. To see what she might do. He also could not help the desire to…help. As strange as that was. Perhaps he was just a dog deep down…looking for the right master.
The night seemed to be descending upon them less eventfully than the afternoon had progressed. Eventually two cars arrived into the driveway. First a man arrived who looked to be in his fifties, very short black hair and his skin darker than Lalia’s own. However it was easy to see how they resembled each other. The way his cheeks were shaped, the definition, he was most definitely her father. He was on the phone when he stepped out of the car, nestling the smart phone between his ear and shoulder as he grabbed his bag. He did not notice Ethan at all as he entered the house. There was likely magic blood far back in his lineage but nothing nowadays that would help him see the big shaggy black dog. The woman who arrived an hour or so after also resembled Lalia in different ways. Their eyes were a closer match in appearance but not colour as Lalia had the bewitching eyes of a witch and this woman had dark eyes. Her hair was a brown colour that matched her daughter and it was cropped into a short bob. She was wearing medical scrubs and seemed to be rather worn out. Unlike the father though she took a pause on the porch, glancing towards Ethan but she couldn’t spot him. Something about his presence was visible to her, at least in a sensory way, but she didn’t have the strength to see him. Interesting. It was likely both of the parents had magic historically in their time line but it had almost vanished in both. Though they had given birth to an Enerkist. Absolutely fascinating.
Ethan watched from his resting position as the mother entered the house and closed his eyes again. It was a few more hours before he heard the door open again. He perked up as he noticed Lalia standing there with a tied up bag of garbage.
“You’re not…too cold out here?” she asked.
“I’m quite comfortable. I have more than enough fur to keep me warm. This won’t kill me,” Ethan responded, wanting to smile but his canine muzzle wouldn’t allow for it.
Lalia nodded slowly, “Salvador he…he left okay right?”
“Are you worried about him? Regretting how things were handled?”
“No…” Lalia said but she did not sound confident in her answer. She wrapped an arm around herself as she hadn’t done up the coat she’d put on. “I think I was justified in my emotions just…I understand where he was coming from. He was wrong but…given what happened today…I think I understand why he thought hiding things was the best option.” She dropped down to a crouch, “What he said…about the black death…about empires. I don’t want to ruin the world…”
Ethan slowly lifted himself, padding over to her and taking a seat close by so that his warmth would radiate out to her. “Lalia…while I’m not sure on the black death connection I can perhaps give you some solace. The last enerkist I heard of introduced the ideas of politics into the fabric of Europe, Africa and Asia. They were the spark…not the designer. Not the mastermind. They did not build the empires, they merely planted the idea in those who would shape the world. The things that happened after that start were the work of those in power. They were the bringers of fire Lalia, not the fire itself and not those who decided what to do with fire. They gift fire and then it is up to those who receive it to move forward. Sometimes those people create powerful empires and sometimes…they burn their houses down.”
Lalia laughed lightly, “That metaphor makes me feel a little better.”
“It’s not something you should worry about right now, your potential future. Focus on learning about your magic and controlling it.”
“Easier said than done…” Lalia sighed as she rose to her feet. “But thank you…I think I’ll be able to sleep a bit better.” She lifted the trash bag, “I should do this and go back inside. My parents might wonder why I’m hanging out in the cold. They didn’t see you did they?” He shook his head to this and she smiled. Giving him a small wave she jogged down the steps and circled the house to put the trash in the bin before quickly running inside.
Ethan settled back down, this time closer to the door. Yes. This was feeling like the better decision more and more.
Chapter 8 – The Mistaken
Salvador was unable to sleep that night, not for lack of trying. He’d come home irritated and his parents, bless them, had done their best to find out what was wrong. He had not been able to choose the people that his parents would be. Possibly. In truth he couldn’t remember much of his time in heaven but he knew he had resided there before coming to earth. He could remember snippets of moments but most of all there was his mission which had been clear in his mind from his earliest memories. Find the enerkist, protect them and bring about a good result. Don’t let the enerkist fall to the manipulation of evil forces. Guide them. Protect them. He’d also known what he was even if he couldn’t remember that time in heaven.
He’d done the best he could given that information. He’d found Lalia when he’d started attending school but hadn’t been able to properly confirm until that time they had met in the forest. She’d had no clue of what she was and, being a child himself, he’d made the best decision he could at the time. That was the best way to protect her. Why he’d also decided that their friendship would be secret…he couldn’t recall. Perhaps it was a combination of not wanting to draw attention to her but it could have also easily been because he was…embarrassed to be seen with a girl. He might have been an angel but at the same time he was still a mortal child on this world and he was learning. He hadn’t been born with infinite knowledge. He knew about magic but even then he’d had to do research of his own.
Which was why he was lucky to have been born to the parents he was.
His mother was a witch whose family had been from what is now modern day Mexico. Not a massively powerful one these days. She was able to create potions with recipes but that was about it. She did not know much about magic, just the recipe books that had been passed down through her family. Though with some prying he’d managed to locate more than that. After some poking and prying he’d found a whole host of books and scrolls that had been part of his family history. He’d had to research himself about lots of things and thankfully she had more than enough to aid him with that. The only knowledge he’d been born with pertained to the enerkist he should protect…not much beyond that. It had taken years of research and the more he did the more concerned he had become.
Even being involved with Lalia might cause her powers to erupt and then bad things were sure to happen. He’d read of demons and monsters. Certain snippets from books would awaken memories layered with fog and he’d remember things a bit. Demons were dangerous, most earthly magical creatures would pose a threat as well.
He had started to keep his distance. Perhaps she could live for a long time as a normal girl. Perhaps he could prolong it forever. That would indeed keep her safe. That was not to happen though. She was awakened now and moreso than that she was pissed at him. To be fair that wasn’t…without reason. He supposed he shouldn’t have avoided her so much.
His mother had had a few questions upon his arrival. She’d sensed the massive explosion of magic even if she couldn’t fully grasp all of it. He’d lied and said he felt it but had no idea what it was as well. To his family he was simply a warlock, letting them know he was an angel was a bit much and thankfully his mother’s magical abilities were so small that she couldn’t really tell the difference between magical energies. He’d gone to bed but had not been able to sleep. He’d tossed and turned all night. What if the demon did something to hurt Lalia while he was gone?
What was the hell hound’s plan? Why did he seem so invested in Lalia? He was clearly hiding something. He had a goal in mind. He had to. To control someone like Lalia meant controlling a powerful future. If he hurt her in some way…it would be Salvador’s fault. He was supposed to protect her. There was no way he was going to trust a demon to do the same. Lalia didn’t understand the danger she was putting herself in.
The morning was even more difficult. He woke out of a fog of weariness. His mother was concerned even more at this point, telling him he should stay home and rest. He had to go though, had to pass by Lalia’s house and ensure that she was okay. He dressed for school and left a little bit later than he would have liked thanks to his mom’s constant requests for him to rest. By the time he reached Lalia’s house there was no sign of her nor the hell hound. His stomach was uneasy. What if something had happened during the night? He should have spent more of his time these years perfecting his own magic to sensing things like demons and tracing their actions from far away.
Instead he had wasted his time with warding spells and protective ones. Perhaps not wasted…but he could have gone with a variety of things. He was cursing himself over it now as he went to school. He moved quickly, breaking out into a job as he ran to the school. His backpack jostled upon his back as he ran and he nearly lost it a couple of times.
He reached the school around the same time as his friend Farid. The other boy gave him a lop sided smile as he neared. Salvador knew he wanted to engage and he slowed down, not wanting to embarrass himself. “What’s the rush Sals?” Farid asked with a grin. “You sleep in or something?” Farid was one of their core group of friends. They’d met when his family had moved from the UK to the neighborhood…though he had also lived in Germany and he had been born in Pakistan. His father was an engineer for planes and that had resulted in the moves. He worked for a massive company now and Farid had been here for four years so far. He spoke with a mixed accent, Urdu and an English accent mixing together in a very soothing sort of way. He also spoke German. A trilingual individual was considered a hot commodity by most of the female population of the school. Though Farid wasn’t all that interested in dating at the moment, more focused on his studies than anything else and wanting to wait until he was older.
“Yeah…something like that…” he panted as he lifted his head and looked around the school yard. He tried to look casual and not panicked as he scanned for her. There she was! She was walking with the girl whose locker was next to hers, Eshe. They weren’t friends outside of school but seemed friendly enough within. The hell hound was nowhere to be seen. He breathed a sigh of relief and lifted his bag properly on to his back. Lalia still wasn’t giving off a huge magical presence either so it was unlikely there would be anything coming to attack. Though that hell hound…shouldn’t he be able to feel him with the amount of energy he’d taken? Perhaps he knew how to hide his presence. That was annoying.
“It’s Friday my friend,” Farid grinned, “So relax. There’s nothing going on today. Just normal classes.”
Salvador offered him a smile, “Yeah, you’re right.” He looked around Farid, “Where’s Jacob? You two normally walk together…”
“He texted me and told me to go by myself,” Farid said, waggling his mobile phone from his fingers. “Something about running late after his shower.” Salvador nodded to this but let his eyes continue to scan around them, looking for the hound. “Are you al’right mate?” Farid asked. “You look super anxious about something…”
“I had a really…odd dream last night,” Salvador lied, then finished with the truth, “Couldn’t sleep at all.”
“Damn that sucks,” Farid said as they walked towards the school and entered. The rest of the conversation progressed as it would have any other morning though Salvador remained distracted. Was Lalia all right? He wanted to talk to her but at the same time that would completely buck the status quo. His group didn’t associate with her and it didn’t look like she had spotted him at all. It was frustrating but he couldn’t seemed to build up the courage to just approach her.
They had their morning classes and it all seemed normal. Even lunch seemed average. He shared a lunch period with Farid, Jacob and Jian. But Jian, as the student body president, usually had a million other things to do. He typically ate lunch while working so today it was only the three of them. They sat at the tables. Salvador had his mother’s rice and beans with some shredded left over pork from the night before. Farid had also brought his lunch, left over chicken that smelled fantastic after he had brought it back from the microwave. Jacob, as per usual, bought his lunch from the school cafeteria. This time it was a slice of pizza, fries, a cola and then a chocolate bar.
“I do not understand how you can eat all that garbage,” Farid commented as he eyed Jacob’s lunch.
“Sorry I don’t have loving parents to make my meals for me,” Jacob joked back, “I just have parents who give me money. Plus…I have practice tonight so I need to load up on energy.”
“I’m sure there has to be a better way to get calories than that,” Salvador said with a shake of his head. “Also I thought basketball practice was done until the new year?”
“I wanted to practice by myself,” Jacob said, “On that note. Which one of you wants to stay with me tonight? I got permission from the school to use the gym but I’m not allowed to be alone. I need at least one other person.” He picked up the chocolate bar and held it out on his palm like a prize. “Free chocolate bar for whomever joins me.”
“Sorry mate, I’ve got Urdu tonight,” Farid said, “You know how my parents are. If I’m going to marry a nice Pakistani girl I need to be able to speak properly to her parents.” He cracked a smile at them as he ate. He had been born in Pakistan but moved away when he was 5 years old and so his parents were very adamant that he continue with studies in Urdu.
Jacob turned on Salvador, puppy dog eyes wide and the chocolate bar lifted. Salvador rolled his neck unhappily, looking back into his rice, “What about Sami?”
“Sami is going on a trip with his family this weekend, he’s leaving next period,” Jacob whined. Salvador opened his mouth and was abruptly cut off, “You know Jian is too busy! Please Saly….please!”
Salvador hated that nickname and he hated the pressure right now. He would have much rather waited to the end of school and gone to find Lalia. Talk with her again. But he couldn’t stand the guilt currently being layered upon him. He continued to stare at his rice until he noticed the chocolate bar sliding into view…and sliding into his half eaten rice.
“Ugh, fine!” Salvador said as he grabbed the chocolate bar and shoved it into his bag. “But not too late.”
“Why not? Got plans? A date?” Jacob immediately pressed. Jacob could be incredibly annoying at times. He had a face like the ones you’d see on mainstream magazines. White, defined cheek bones, sparkling green eyes and caramel coloured hair that was cropped short for the basketball team. He was incredibly tall as well and built like an athlete. Jacob’s family life was a mystery to them all. His parents gave him a lot of money but were always working. He was well off, living in a big house and they’d been invited over quite a few times due to the space. He was an all right guy but as far as they all went…he was perhaps the most arrogant. He didn’t have a lot of great opinions and they were always correcting him. Sometimes Salvador wondered why they were friends but then again…Jacob was blossoming with confidence. He just refused to leave them alone.
“No date…” Salvador began but stopped when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned, not sure what to expect but found it was Lalia standing there. He immediately froze where he was sitting. Why was she coming up to him here? Right in front of his friends? Making an immediate scene. Why hadn’t she found him in the hallway when he was alone?
“Uhm…Salvador…” she said, sounding uncertain, “Can I talk to you…in private?”
There were immediate whistles from his friends and Jacob banged the table. Salvador’s expression was horrified. “Uh…no,” he stammered over his words, “If you have a question about class you can ask in class. I’m on my lunch.” With that he turned his back on her.
“O-Oh…” he heard her say. Where was that bravado she’d had last night? Why did she sound so….hurt? The regret came over him in overwhelming waves as he heard her walk away in a hurry. He winced. Shit. That had definitely been the wrong choice but what other choice had he had?
“Who even was that?” Jacob asked.
“A girl in our English class…” Salvador pointed out, “She sits near the front remember?”
“Lalia Green-something,” Farid said with a mouthful of chicken already past his lips.
“She’s kinda cute,” Jacob nodded, “Why did I never notice her before? Is she taken?” He gave Salvador a leering look.
“We’re not…she’s not…what are you saying?” Salvador stammered.
“Excellent!” Jacob proclaimed and Salvador felt immediately angry at the expression and tone of voice he was using. Though mingled in with that was the incredibly amount of guilt. He wanted to turn around and look at where she had gone but he didn’t have the courage to. Damn. He’d screwed up big time.