Grey Angel

Chapter 1: the man who fell

Christa trudged home from her bus stop. I hate living so far out; she thought kicking a stone down the road.
The road she was walking along was packed dirt, with trees lining each side. Christa's bus stop was a ten minute walk from her house.
Christa sighed. She hated when her dad was gone. Their big house was empty without him.
Suddenly the ground in front of her exploded, as something slammed into the road. Christa yelped and shielded her eyes as rocks and dirt flew everywhere. She cried out when one especially sharp rock scored a cut across one of her cheeks.
Slowly the dust settled and Christa dropped her arm. Looking for the cause of the explosion, she gasped and took an involuntary step backwards. There, lying face down in front of her, was a body. Bright silver hair and golden-tanned skin were all she could see. Oddly, there were two enormous feathered wings of shimmering grey on the body's back.
"What the." Christa though aloud, before remembering how some of the boys in the area had taken to building odd kinds of gliders and trying them out. Must be a new design she rationalized as she knelt beside the body.
Reaching out, she touched the body lightly before quickly snatching her arm back. When he didn't move, she reached out again and shook his shoulder gently. Christa jerked back, when she heard a moan.
He's alive she thought thankfully, he's not dead. Slowly the man got to his knees and looked at her with silver eyes that seemed to pierce her very soul.
Christa's eyes widened. This had to be the hottest guy she'd ever seen. He was a built on a large and powerful scale, but not overly so. His hair, an unruly tumble of silver, was the same bright shade as his eyes. His skin was tanned a deep golden colour all over. She noticed because all he was wearing was some sort of white short like things that didn't cover much. As she watched the man intently, he folded his wings behind himself. Then it hit her all at once, this guy wasn't human! An angel. An angel of silver and gold.

Verlen eyed the girl across from him uneasily. She was looking at him with wide-eyed amazement, but that could be feigned. She was very pretty, even by his standards. She had long, wavy hair of a deep brown and eyes of a startlingly bright shade of green, Her figure, though modestly curved, was slim, her skin a creamy pink. "Where am I?" he asked, in what he hoped was a polite voice.

"Where am I?" the angel asked Christa, even his voice was beautiful, deep and musical. It took a minute before she could think of a reply. "J-j- just outside of Sandford." She said, stuttering. "Um. Are you for real?"
The angel nodded, his eyes serious. "Yes I am real. My name is Verlen. I am sorry if I startled you."
"That's alright. I've just never seen an angel before. That is what you are right?" with Verlen's nod, she continued. "My name's Christa. Uh. do you need somewhere to stay? My place's just up the road. No one'll be there but me. My dad's away on business." Christa blurted out, blushing.
Verlen smiled, ignoring the girl's embarrassment. "I would like that very much. I thank you. I would like to avoid notice."
Christa blushed harder and stood. She offered her hand and helped Verlen to his feet. "Ah! You're hurt!" she cried, seeing the large gash on his right leg.
"It is but a small wound and easily fixed." Verlen replied. He reached down and placed his hand over the cut. A flash of golden light, and the wound was gone as if it had never been there.
Christa's was shocked. Magic. He just used magic she thought. "You too are injured." Verlen said. He laid a finger on Christa's cut. She felt a warm tingling and then the pain was gone along with the cut.
"Um. thanks. My house is just up ahead, if you'll follow me." Christa said, leading the way. Somehow she felt clumsy and awkward. It's not as if I'm shy of guys she thought I've had plenty of boyfriends and just guy friends. Verlen watched the girl carefully. She didn't seem to pose a threat, but he couldn't be sure. He followed her down the narrow road to a large Victorian house. The girl, Christa, led him inside; the walls of the house were covered in paintings and photos. Each room seemed to be another bright colour. "It's not very co-ordinated." Christa said apologetically "Uh. Do you want a drink?"
"It is very attractive. I see nothing wrong with it." Verlen said, before adding, "A drink would be most welcome."
"Um. Just sit wherever you want." She said before escaping to the kitchen. This is really weird Christa thought as she got a pop for each of them. Maybe this's a dream and I'll wake up any second. Then she touched the cheek that'd been cut and shook her head. This was no dream.
She headed back into the family room and handed one of the cans to Verlen. "Here." She said, taking a seat across from him.
He looked at the can, then at her, then back at the can again, with a confused expression on his face. That made Christa laugh. "Sorry," she said, still giggling "but you should see the look on your face. Priceless!"
She reached over took the can from him and opened it. She handed it back before opening her own can. Taking a quick sip, she began to ask him questions. "Are you from Heaven? Why are you here? Is God real? Are there other angels?" Verlen had been confused when Christa had handed him the can. He could tell there was liquid of some kind inside, but had no idea how to get it. He was relieved when the girl opened it for him. Then she began to pelt him with questions. Questions he didn't know the answer to. Finally he leaned over and pressed is finger over her lips, halting her barrage of inquiries. "I know not the answer to what you ask. I know not where I am from nor why I am here. I can not remember anything prior to meeting you." When Verlen pressed his finger against her lips, Christa had been rather taken aback and no little embarrassed. His reply, along with the sadness in her eyes, made her regret her impulsive questions. "I'm sorry. I had no right to question you like that." Christa said, "By way of apology, you can stay here as long as you want. Oh, that reminds me! I'll be right back!" she said before racing upstairs, leaving a very surprised Verlen downstairs. Christa ran into her dad's room and quickly went through his drawers, picking out a pair of pants that looked like they might fit Verlen. She then ran to her room and grabbed the sweatshirt her ex-boyfriend had left there and never retrieved. She then headed back downstairs. "Here you go." She said, dumping the pile into Verlen's arms. "You're practically naked, so you can just borrow these for a while." Verlen stared at the impulsive girl before him. "Uh. I thank you." He finally said after a long moment, at loss for words. First the invitation to stay for as long as he liked, then this. Either this girl was totally unassuming or his enemies had hired her. Not that I know who they are he thought wryly. He was so confused about her, that he actually asked her "How do you know you can trust me?" Christa was a little surprised at the question, but replied as honestly as she could. "I don't. But that's the best part of life, not knowing what's going to happen." That actually made him smile, the first smile she'd seen on him. It made him look younger then his demeanour suggested. "Hah! A smile! I was beginning to think you'd forgotten how to do that too." "If you're going to be staying for a while, I'd better get some edible food. It's been awhile since the last time we restocked. I'm gonna go into town. You stay here, put those clothes on and watch some T.V," she said, turning the T.V on "I'll be back soon. Don't answer the door. Don't want to freak our neighbours out." She grabbed the car keys and left. Heading back into town. Verlen was a little surprised at her quick assumption of control. He was also fascinated by the T.V. He's never seen anything like it before. Rather then risk Christa's wrath, he pulled the pants on and was about to attempt the shirt when there was a knock at the door. Mindful of Christa's instructions, he ignored the knock. The knock was repeated, this time with a voice accompanying it. "Please open the door! I must speak with you. You're in great danger!" The voice struck a chord of his memory. It sounded familiar and so, against his better judgement, he opened the door. Standing there was a figure as familiar as the voice, though he couldn't place a name to him.

"Verlen?!?! Thanks the gods you're safe!" Jurn was overjoyed. He'd come to this place hoping they'd have some knowledge of Verlen's whereabouts and here he was.

Verlen stared at the newcomer, trying to remember him. "I'm sorry, I seem to have forgotten your name. Will you come inside?" The man came inside and gave him an odd look. "What do you mean you've forgotten my name? This better not be one of your jokes. Now's not the time." Verlen regarded the newcomer seriously. "I apologize. I seem to have forgotten everything except what happened but recently."

Jurn was taken aback. Had Verlen really forgotten everything? This was bad. Very bad. Damn he cursed we have to find out the names of the members of that movement! He was about to ask Verlen something else, when he heard a strange noise coming from the front of the house. He quickly knocked an arrow to his bow and moved so he could see the door. A tense minute passed before the door opened. "I'm back! I forgot my purse." Came a female voice as a young woman entered the house. With his bow pointed at her he announced, "Move and you die!"

Christa wasn't more than three minutes away, when she realized she'd forgotten her purse. She turned the car around with a sigh and headed back. As she entered the house, she heard a strange voice say, "Move and you die!" She looked up and saw a man who in some respects looked like Verlen. He too, was built on a powerful scale, though a smaller one. His hair was a golden brown, about five shades darker then his skin. His features were more aquiline then Verlen's, but he was still hot. It took her no more than a moment to decide what to do. She glared at the newcomer, hands on hips. "Go fuck yourself! This is my house, not yours! If you have a problem with me, leave!"

Jurn was rather surprised at the vehemence of the glare, the girl levelled at him. Her words just added to it. The final straw was when Verlen leaned over and plucked his bow from his hands, saying, "I can't allow you to threaten her like that. She is a friend." "She's what.? You.? Here.? Huh?" Jurn said at complete loss for words. What's going on he thought.

Verlen sighed. He gave a brief explanation on what had happened that day. "As I told you before, I remember nothing before I crashed." Jurn shook his head. He needed to get back and report this, but he didn't want to leave Verlen alone. "My name's Jurn. I have to go back and explain things. It'd probably be better if you stay here. It'll be harder for them to find you." He said before handing Verlen the sword he was wearing "You might need this. I brought it in case I found you. It's not yours, but it'll work." "Harder for who to find him?" Christa asked Jurn. Jurn started. "Y-Y-You understood me? Did you just.?" "Of course I understood you. Why wouldn't I?" Jurn turned to Verlen. "You healed her didn't you?" Verlen nodded. "Was that wrong?" "Of course it is! She now understands our language! Whatever you do, don't heal her again! When you heal someone, they sometimes pick thing sup from you! You might wake up her latent talents, and the last thing we need now is an untrained mage." With that, Jurn left flying skywards. Christa watched him, until he was just a speck in the sky. "Now that he's gone, I'm going to go into town." She said, running into the house, grabbing her purse, and then jumping into the car. "I'll be back soon. Don't answer the door again." Verlen nodded. He watched T.V until Christa returned, he then helped her bring in the grocery bags and put things away. Christa made spaghetti for dinner and had to explain to Verlen how to eat it. She'd lost her shyness around him and actually began to tease him about not knowing how to eat anything. Christa was tired after all the excitement that day and went to bed early, showing Verlen to the guest room beforehand. Christa fell asleep almost instantly, while he remained awake, trying to remember what he'd forgotten, until Verlen too, fell asleep. The next morning, Verlen awoke from dreams of him fleeing something in a panic, to the smell of something cooking downstairs. He got out of bed and followed the smell right into the kitchen where Christa was making pancakes. "It's such a miserable day out, I thought I'd make pancakes for breakfast." She said putting the syrup, pancakes and juice on the table. The weather was indeed miserable, a light drizzle accompanied by cold winds and overcast skies, made them reluctant to venture outside. Instead they spent the day watching T.V, which required Christa to stop and explain things to Verlen every couple of minutes. She was in the middle of explaining how a car worked to him, when there was a knock at the door. "Stay here." Christa said as she went to answer the door. Opening the door, she saw a man dressed in some weird cape thing and what appeared to be a tunic and leggings. What the hell is up with this guy, she wondered. "I seek shelter from the rain. I am but a traveller." The man said as he tried to peer around Christa. "The nearest hotel is about a 10 minute drive that way." She replied pointing the way to town. This guy was beginning to creep her out. "My horse and purse were stolen from me and I am without means to pay for lodging." The man told her. This guy's nuts! Christa thought. "You wait here. I'm going to go call 911, the police'll be able to help you." This elicited a sigh from the man. "Stupid ground-pounder." She heard him say under his breath and before she knew what was happening, the man had forced his way in, drawn the blade that had been hidden beneath his cloak and had the edge of it pressed to her neck. "Now, I'll ask you some questions and if you answer them truthfully, I won't be forced to hurt you." All politeness was gone from his voice; it now held a distinctive edge that made Christa believe he wasn't kidding. "Have you seen anything odd in the area, lately?" he demanded. He's looking for Verlen she thought, remembering Jurn's words about people looking for him. "O-odd? N-n-no, not until you came." She said stuttering with feigned fear.

Prastis listened to the terrified girl's words carefully, checking for any sign that she was lying. Damn! He thought, she's telling the truth. Stupid ground-pounder.

Verlen was a bit concerned when Christa didn't return after a few minutes. He got up and carefully peered around the corner, and got a rather nasty shock. There was a man with a sword blade pressed against Christa's neck, his other hand grabbing her shoulder to prevent her from escaping. Without another moment's hesitation, Verlen grabbed his own blade and ran around the corner, ready to attack.

Prastis looked up when he heard someone running. He was shocked to see Verlen there, launching himself into a headlong attack. Prastis quickly pushed the girl away from him, ignoring the fact that he cut her neck while doing so. He hurriedly moved his own blade into a block position, his arms screaming with the stress of Verlen's full impact. Damn! Verlen wasn't supposed to be here! I can't fight him! He thought worried in spite of himself, as he blocked another hard strike from Verlen.

Prastis was kept on the defensive, as Verlen barely slowed as he went from blow to blow, his face a mask of impassiveness as he ruthlessly attacked Prastis. Prastis finally broke away and ran out the already open door. He took to the air, flying crazily, as the storm winds buffeted him from all directions. Verlen saw none of this, for as soon as Prastis made a break for it, he went to Christa's side. Throughout the whole fight, Christa had remained where she'd landed one hand pressed to her neck, partially stemming the flow of blood from her wound. "This is all my fault." Verlen said as he moved Christa's hand away from the gash so he could heal it. Once again Christa felt the warmth as her pain disappeared through Verlen's ministrations. Christa shook her head as soon as Verlen removed his hand. "It's not your fault. It's that guy's fault. He's the one who sliced me, not you." "But if I had not been here, he would not have come seeking me." Verlen said seriously "I believe it would be best if I were to leave. You would be much safer." Christa glared at Verlen. "Are you nuts? You have no idea about how humans live or what to do. They'd find you in a matter of hours. That's probably what they expect you to do, leave. Besides they already know I'm involved with you, so it's too late." Verlen sighed. "In this you are correct, but it still feels wrong to me." "Well now that that's settled, I've got school on Monday, and since I doubt you want to draw attention to yourself, you'll have to stay here." The two of them were cleaning up the mess left after the fight, when Verlen noticed something odd about the way Christa was moving. "You are uninjured?" he asked her. Christa raised an eyebrow. "You already healed me, I'm fine. Why do you ask?" Verlen frowned. "The way you walk and move. it is different then from before. Not much, but still, different." She shrugged. "No idea. I don't feel any different. Not anymore different then after the last time you healed me." Christa's reply reminded him of Jurn's warning. "Whatever you do, don't heal her again! You might wake up her latent talents, and the last thing we need now is an untrained mage." "I do believe we have a problem." Verlen said. "What kind of a problem?" Christa asked. "Remember Jurn's warning, I have healed you a second time and I believe I may have awakened your latent talents." "Meaning?" "Your dormant mage-powers are now active. I will have to train you." "Wait, wait, wait just a minute. Mage-powers? You don't mean.?" "Yes. You can now use magic. You will have to be trained immediately, before the power breaks loose from you. That would be very unpleasant." "Unpleasant as in." "Fire, explosions, floating objects. The list goes on. Things that would attract a great deal of attention. Most mages have an affinity for some type of spell. We will have to find yours and train you to your full potential. We will begin immediately." "Oh." Was all Christa said. And they began right then and there, Verlen going over the basics with Christa. They spent the rest of the day doing that, until right before dinner, Christa managed to light a candle using her magic. She was elated with her success and decided to order pizza as a way of celebrating. The rest of the time before they went to bed was spent in watching T.V and explanations of human culture. Both of them went to bed satisfied and happy. The next day, they alternated lessons in magic and lessons in human culture, breaking only for meals. Both found the lessons fascinating and Christa even managed to get a smile or two out of Verlen. Christa went to bed early, after explaining to Verlen what to do if someone came to the house when she was at school.