Where Angels Fall

Chapter 1:  Man-trap

 

Terror!  Disconsolate dread froze the mind of the winged sylph-like figure.  Unable to think, she crouched in the clearing, with one leg gripped in the steel jaws of a mantrap. She writhed and twisted in futile attempt of escape as they circled nearer.

 

They, the dark shadowy beasts from hell with glowing green eyes, skulked with silent menace between black, moss-encrusted trunks of windblast evergreens.  Slinking black furred bodies, lured by the scent of blood they stalked their quarry in the hoarfrost glare of a full moon.  Stiletto clawed talons scratched the permafrost from the icy ground, sharpening steel hard appendages on the broken shale.

 

Pale skin glistened in the silver radiance as ice formed on her naked flesh.  Once more, remorse at the foolhardiness leading her into this underworld of horror stabbed a double-edged blade into her heart.  Her memories of the intensity of that first encounter with a human male could not now dispel the utter stupidity of her rashness.  Although immortal, she knew her flesh would be welcome sustenance to the ravenous hordes of the forest.

 

She took several deep breaths, calming her nerves before turning her attention back to the iron teeth that had slammed shut, tearing into flesh and bone above her knee. Without the use of some form of tool, it was impossible for her to release the jaws held and locked in position by a metal plate.  Hot tears impaired her vision, not so much from pain as from the frustration of captivity and at the mercy of the ferocious predators.  The leg was probably broken, although all feeling had long since disappeared in the icy cold.  Never had she known such cold, such fear, such terror as that which now held her in check.

 

Thoughts of the eternal agony her ka, that etheric form of the original flesh and body, would suffer, the horror of being trapped forever in this lonely glade, so far from the love and warmth of the world she knew as home, tortured every anguished, pain-racked breath dragged through half-open mouth into her lungs.  A cloud of vapour streamed into the freezing air each time she exhaled.  Tiny tinkling crystals of ice fell like snow on her bare breasts.  She had never considered clothing as a necessity until now, only worn as a mark of respect for those of her race in the higher echelons of society.

 

A black sinuous form more adventurous than the others emerged snarling from the even blacker shadows, mesmerizing her as it slowly approached.  Squat to the ground its head moved from side to side, the lips of its sharp muzzle drawn back to reveal the white razor fangs glistening with drool in the pallid light.  Her will probed into that of the nocturnal hunter in the hope of controlling its emotions, but finding only a mindless hunger, impervious to any form of external persuasion.  She stretched out a hand, scrabbling at the packed frozen ground in attempt to pry loose a rock that she could use as a projectile. 

 

The ends of her fingers were torn and bleeding before a suitably sized stone was free.  With the beast almost within pouncing distance, she drew back her arm, spreading dark feathered wings in attempt to maintain her balance to hurl the missile into the face of the creature.   In shock, it leapt backwards with a piercing shriek that shattered the stillness of the forest, then falling sideways as black blood formed a pool from its smashed skull.  Answering howls of pain rose from unseen denizens on either side, as their nerve wilted, retreating in a squirming mass of bodies until their close proximity one to another again strengthened their resolve.

 

With no sensation of pain in her numbed hands, she clawed into the earth in desperate search for further weapons that might be used to delay the final outcome of her inevitable demise.  She had a small heap of half dozen such objects piled in front of her before hunger for blood overcame the fear of the pack. Three this time emerged from the shelter of the shadows.  Her eyes narrowed as she sought to wipe away the moisture of tears with the back of her hand.  Her gaze flickered between them in vain attempt to discover which was the leader.  The eyes of the predators seemed to fluoresce in shadowed masks as they snarled, and her psychic senses riled at their expectation of sating appetites on soft flesh.

 

Still they edged closer, seemingly wary of the menace she held, but driven on with the single desire to feed.  Sighting her aim with extreme caution, she tensed waiting motionless for the perfect instant.  She was startled by the sudden hiss of an airborne missile and thud as a veined shaft embedded itself in the side of the creature furthest to her right.  With her entire strength, she hurled the stone at the second beast, catching it in the pointed snout.  It leapt back in panic, as a second shaft buried into the neck of the third brute.  The pack fled, back into the comparative safety of the shadows as a tall male figure carrying a crossbow strode into the glade.  He stooped over the fallen carcasses, placing a foot over the ribcage to hold each still as he tore the leather flighted bolts from their target, and wiped black sticky gore against the creature's mangy fur.

 

He stood, turning to face the ensnared figure, moonlight reflecting from the silver rings of chain mail visible beneath the black leather surcoat.  He wore no helmet, his fair hair falling in waves to broad shoulders.  Metal edged riding boots covered the lower legs and feet, kicking powdered frost from the earth as he approached.  Concentrating on dropping the arrows into a quiver hanging at his left side, he stopped four or five paces from her, and then, "So, I set my trap to catch a daemon, and instead snare an angel."

 

Amused laughter trembling in the frosty air, his soft lilting voice carried to her ear.  Her mind tentatively explored his, amazed that she had received no perception of his presence, and assuming it only to be due to the concentration she had paid to the approaching predators. 

To her surprise, he seemed unshielded yet unaware of her mental invasion of his privacy.  She sensed his cold eyes, sapphire blue, sweeping over her nakedness, lustful fascination of the slender beauty in her graceful winged form.  

 

For the first time in her life, she felt the irony of embarrassment.  She tried to withdraw inside herself, shielding her body by wrapping arms around her injured knee.  "I do not seek your help," she spat the words with contempt, "For I am immortal."

 

"I do not offer help.  I am only loath to share my prey with a pack of starving razor-teeth."

She shivered at the apparent arrogance he held in the imagination and desire of what he could do to her.  She was too aware of her vulnerability, not only to him, but also to any predator that passed.

 

After a brief pause of surveying her dilemma he continued, "Does your immortality still protect you with your body diced and served to a pack of razor-toothed flesh eaters?"

She could not answer, only glare at him with eyes half closed in a scowl.

 

He knelt in front of her, removing a leather gauntlet and taking a long bladed knife from his belt asked, "Is your leg broken?"

 

She shook her head, her long black hair cascading unkempt around her face, over her shoulders and breasts almost to her slim waist.  "I can feel nothing," she admitted.

He inserted the blade under the metal plate, twisting it, and then with one foot, holding it in place, prised open the jaws.  A distinct click indicated the trap had been disabled allowing him to take her ankle and lift it clear.  The tips of his fingers probed the torn muscle, and she winced at his touch.

 

"I think not," he said, "But with the loss of blood you will be seriously weakened.  You need rest.  My horse is waiting near by; I can take you to a place of safety."

 

"I do not need your help.  I am capable of looking after myself."

 

"Okay, perhaps you would like to stand, run or maybe even fly from those creatures hell bent on making a meal of your immortal flesh."  He stood, turning away from her as he re-sheathed the dagger.

 

She tried to stand, but immediately collapsed in a heap on the frozen ground, as several feathers fell from the wings that grew from her shoulder blades.  Bitter tears stung her eyes once more, as she fought to recover her composure, and regain her sitting position.  She could not look up to meet his gaze as he turned back to face her.

 

"Oh.  You are still here?  I thought you had gone."

 

She felt his mocking laughter, even though it did not show on a face sporting a short, trimmed growth of light beard.  "I will be alright in a moment; I just need a little rest."

He went down on one knee, his left arm slipping beneath her good leg, while the other supported her back beneath the wings before she was aware of his intention.

 

"Don't touch me. The stench of your body so close disgusts me."  She flapped the feathers in his face in attempt to persuade him to back off.  With a single shake of his head at the futility of her attempt, he swept her into the air.  She had no choice but to throw an arm around his shoulder in case he dropped her.

 

"Do you think the stench of fear exuding from your flesh is more appealing?"  Adjusting his stance to hold her more firmly he continued, “It surprises me that your body has so little weight, but then, I imagine lightness of bone and flesh is a necessity to enable flight like a bird.”  His tone changed, softer, more gentle, "Your skin though is like ice; you must be freezing.”

 

She ignored the comment as he turned carrying her across the glade toward the trees.  A large white horse with a single pointed horn protruding from its forehead was lashing a hoof at one of the razor-toothed creatures that, to its lasting regret, had strayed too close.  The hunter whistled, no more than a soft whisper of air through pursed lips.  The mount heard, raising it' head, and returning an almost inaudible whinny as it trotted to meet them. The razor-tooth took the opportunity of its assailant's loss of interest to drag itself bleeding back to the pack, and then was immediately torn to pieces and devoured.

 

"Down Torros," the warrior commanded.

 

The horse in obedience buckled its forelegs falling to its knees to allow him to sit the angel in front of the saddle.  She winced as his gloved palm brushed against her breast and knowing from the smug satisfaction in his thoughts that it had not occurred purely by accident.  Her hands reached for the bridle, as the beast lurched into a standing position, sending her sprawling against its neck.  She remained there, grateful for the small degree of warmth emanating from the animal into her upper thighs and stomach, as the armoured knight sprang into the saddle behind.  Unaware of his intentions, she was unprepared when she felt the leather surcoat he wore dropping over her head.  For a moment, she struggled to prevent him raising first one arm and then the other into the short sleeves.

 

"Do not fight me; this will keep some of the chill from the cold wind off you as we ride."  The coat was split on each side from hem almost to armpit to allow a warrior easy access to the weapons, sword and knife, hanging at his side, ideal for allowing her wings freedom of movement.  "It's alright; you can thank me later when we reach our destination," he continued, and then chuckled as she forced air through clenched teeth to hiss at him in reply.

Following a further monosyllable command of “Hup!” the horse broke into a steady trot weaving between the trees, selecting a path not to encounter low hanging frost furred branches.  They rode in silence, the knight wary for prowling feline hunters stalking close to their rear.  After some considerable time, they emerged into the bright moonlight of an open hillside.  The uni-horned animal broke into a fast pace across the frozen ground, as the warrior leaned forward into her back, nestling the cold chain mail against her folded wings.  Strands of luxurious long black hair fluttered in his face as he pressed his mouth close to her ear.  "So tell me, what is an angel doing in the forest of this cold dark world of eternal winter?"

 

Rather than fight the wind rushing past, she implanted the thought directly into his mind.  “What right do you have to question my actions?”  There was such a considerable pause before he answered that she repeated the question.

 

His voice in her ear took a harsher tone, “Then, you are a telepath too; intriguing.  As your captor, I have every right to ask such a question.”

 

She felt him pull back at the intensity of her answering thought stabbing into his head.  “If you think of me as your prisoner then I have every right to remain silent!” 

 

It was many hoof beats across the frozen ground before he made further comment.  “Whooo.  You have spirit.  I like that in a female.  I think we are going to get along well together.”

 

Her answer was to send the picture of a venom spitting snake into his mind, and feeling extreme satisfaction as his thoughts retreated, unwilling to challenge her with any further retort.

 

The horse continued its relentless pace to the brow of the hill and down the far side.  Her streaming eyes, squinted half-closed against the buffeting cold night air, restricted her vision.  The warmth creeping into her injured thigh from the body of the steed twisted ever-sharpening daggers of pain through her body.  Her right hand touched the broken flesh feeling the sticky dampness of her life juices seeping against the hairs of the animal’s shoulder.   Weakness swamped her body as her head lolled forward under the downhill pull of gravity.  She felt metal scrape against the leather of the coat as the forearm of her captor looped around her shoulder to prevent her falling.  She had no more strength to fight against his grip, letting her thoughts swirl into the darkness of oblivion.

 

Shadows of obscurity soothed the agony and cold from her awareness, bringing some small comfort to her tortured body.  Pictures of the warmth and golden sunlight from her home world tormented her memory, then the unbidden thoughts of her more recent past.  The meeting of the elders gathered to review her crimes.  Her accuser, also one of the original patriarchs, from an age before their wings had fully developed as feathers, summoned her to stand before them, and allow unrestricted access to recollections of her shame.  His wings, black, scaled, leathery twitched and rippled as he read from a gold scroll, daring her in his tone of enmity to deny the charges, in full knowledge that every angel present could see the guilty images in her mind like a movie.

 

The picture of that small human child allocated as her first charge for guidance and protection, and watching him grow as she guarded against the perils present in infant innocence through to handsome adolescence.  The shock of all those sat in judgement as they saw the temptation ripening into desire for the touch of his flesh, the wanton adultery developing into obsession of steaming passion as she lay beside him in the darkness as a succubus.  Minds recoiled in horror to see his soul dragged inexorably into the most obscene acts of depravation, and her admission that she had lost him to the dark side by her unsolicited thoughts of lust; that she in effect was guilty of murder.

 

The silence as she wept while offering her own punishment branding herself as a harlot to be banished for eternity in utter shame.  Then one small, gentle voice above the others offering forgiveness if she could locate the reincarnated spirit and return him to the light.  The shock to her senses as she materialised through the portal into this universe, that she must seek him naked and alone in a world of eternal permafrost, while suffering the agony of degradation and humiliation, lost to the whim of the forces of evil.

 

* * *

 

Still only partially aware of her surroundings, she sensed the motions of the steed’s muscles relaxing into an easy walk. Hollow echos of the hooves striking stone before coming to a standstill indicated they were in some kind of walled enclosure.  The sound of distant voices above the snorted pants of the animal as an unknown strength, which, she supposed belonged to her captor, supported her weight, lowering her into the arms of another, and the soft squish of footsteps as they carried her like a sack of vegetables.  A pause then the rush of warm air surrounding her, the popping and spluttering of burning logs while the heat intensified, as someone laid her on a soft bed or couch.  Then the bottom of the leather surcoat was dragged upward over her head to expose her naked body to the fire.

 

While still keeping her eyes closed to appear unconscious, she sent tendrils of thought gently probing into the mind of the other until satisfied it was the same that had brought her to this place.  He wrapped her still icy body in a soft warm blanket but leaving the mutilated leg exposed.  The pain in the limb intensified as warmth brought back feeling, turning the dull throb into pulsating anguish.   Her stomach heaved as she retched at the stench of animal sweat in the fleecy wrap, forcing her to slow her breathing to the barest minimum to prevent the evidence of her contempt from showing in the expression on her face.

 

 “Hot water and antiseptics you asked for my lord,” came the voice of another approaching from behind.

 

Without the use of sight, she was unable to tell if the new character was male or female, the timbre of the voice was indistinguishable between the sexes.  She turned the fingers of thought toward the new entity, and then froze in fear as a telepathic contact flashed into her mind.  “So, you are awake, little one.  Do not be alarmed, I will not tell him.”

 

 “Can you put them down beside me?” the masculine voice she recognised from the journey.

Tentatively she sent back a thought. “Where am I?”

 

 “This is the castle of the Lord TeeRaigo Bran of Salmar. He tells me he found you in the ice forests without a stitch of clothing to keep you warm.  It’s a wonder you hadn’t frozen to death you poor little thing.”

 

 “I am immortal; death has no fear for me.”

 

 “Even that you may be, but it must have been very uncomfortable for you.  I do not believe you are immune to feeling pain.  What is your name little angel?”

 

 “Little Angel will do.”

 

"I understand you may not wish for everyone to know, but I can keep it hidden for you."

The thoughts were, soft, comforting and persuasive, as if accompanied on the strains of a soft melody.  “It is… Lauriel,” she responded.

 

There was a gentle scrape of something being placed on the floor before the new voice asked, “Are you certain these are the best for the circumstances my lord?  They will burn her flesh; the pain will be excruciating.”  She detected real concern in the speaker’s thoughts.

 

 “I realise, but as she is unconscious she will feel nothing.  We must be certain of eradicating all infection.  I think we are lucky that the cold will have been helpful in protecting her.”

 

 “I am sorry little Lauriel.  If you do not wish that he knows, you will have to brace yourself against this.”  The link was terminated as if a metal door had been slammed shut, leaving her confused and alone.

 

Even though the warning came in time, pain when it hit her felt like molten metal pouring over her leg.  Like an explosion, a fireball hurling her into the sky.  Higher and higher, as if in flight she fought to get above the burning agony.  She had no recollection of whether she screamed or not.  Her senses registered only the pain.  Bolts of blue lightning seared behind her eyes.  She let loose her tenuous grip on sanity thankful for the embrace of total unconsciousness.  Blackness of a starless void engulfed her.

 

 


Comments:
 
G_Money   G_Money wrote
on 11/8/2008 8:32:59 PM
Ouch!! That hurt! This is a very good beginning :)

Mysteral

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