A/N: Erm…I'm not dead?
I apologize for the late update; I've been putting this story off for too long. Unfortunately, I doubt the next chapter will come much quicker. But I do hope you enjoy this chapter!
Chapter 3: Mind-meld
Being a farm girl from birth, Amelia wasn't all that literate. Sure, she could write her name and occasionally read a passage out of the only history textbook (which was outdated; it called the United States the English Colonies more than once), but she wasn't a bookworm by anyone's stretch of the imagination. Virginia happened to be more of a reader than she was—she liked reading the strange books talking about poor people being attacked and taken hostage by Indians, or read again about the famous Salem Witchcraft Trials that had once been held in Town, both of which could be found in a bookstore near the angel's 'home', for lack of a better term, which was where both Amelia and Virginia were at this moment, looking for any information that might help the angel escape from earth and return home (his real one).
Amelia saw Virginia scowl darkly as she slammed shut yet another book. "You know," she mused, "For all the books in the library, don't you think one of them would talk about angels and how they 'fall'? I really don't want to go to the Town's Reverend and ask him about it."
Amelia nodded in agreement; Reverend Mather was not the kindest man they knew, nor the most rational. The only sermon Amelia and her family attended to consisted of how you had to follow the Bible's ways of living exactly or burn in the fiery pits of hell by god's unforgiving wrath. Amelia was rather scared of the man, seeing him as unstable. Closing her own book, she went to the back of the room to see if she could find anything about angels that talked about what happened when one fell.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a light tap on the shoulder. Stifling a squeal of terror and ignoring the alarmed messages coming from the angel, she turned around slowly to see the wife of the librarian, whom Virginia had said was very kind. "Can I help you?" she murmured, her eyes soft with genuine but mild curiosity.
Amelia considered her options: she could (1) lie, and hope the librarian believes it while going back to her fruitless search, or (2) tell her what she's really looking for, and hope that the woman can help her and keep her mouth shut about it.
The woman seemed nice enough, and it was obvious the two girls weren't going to get what they wanted on their own, so Amelia decided that (2) was the best option. "I'm looking for books about angels, ma'am."
The librarian blinked, looking confused. "Angels?"
"Yes, ma'am. Fallen angels—I was at one of Rev. Mather's sermons and got curious about them."
"Oh. I see." She still didn't look convinced, but led Amelia to a shelf of books in the back corner all the same. Amelia followed her dutifully, ignoring the waves of suspicion coming from the angel next door. Obviously, the golden-eyed being didn't really trust the woman, but Amelia got the feeling he didn't much trust anyone except herself and perhaps Virginia.
The librarian pulled out a weathered book, its cover faded so much that it was more of an indistinct gray than whatever color it was before, and the words were illegible. "Here," she said softly, "this should be the book you're looking for."
Amelia stared at it incredulously. "Are you sure?" It hardly looked like an important book to look at, but the librarian nodded with a strange solemnity that made the hairs on Amelia's neck rise. "I'm positive this will have everything you need to find." Amelia looked up, wanting to ask what that meant, but the librarian was gone. Deciding not to dwell on it, she went back to where Virginia was sitting and opened the book.
After a few minutes of silent reading, Virginia finally broke the silence due to her inevitable overpowering curiosity. "Amelia, what are you reading?"
"Something…something really interesting." Amelia bit her lip. "Look here—I think I found what we want for the ang—er, you know, project." Glancing around to make sure there wasn't anyone listening, she leaned in and whispered, "This page talks about angels—otherworldly creatures that live in heaven that all serve under the Lord our God, more or less…there's something in here about a royal anarchy, but I didn't get all that much from that part—but look here!" She pointed to this paragraph. Virginia squinted and read the contents quietly.
"All angels have a 'Guiding Light' that only they can see, that will always lead them home. Under certain circumstances, this light can disappear…an angel that loses their Guiding Light is a fallen angel?" The blonde's voice was incredulous, so Amelia read on.
"When an angel falls, they lose their memory and their ability to separate logic from instinct…that must be why the angel can't talk," she mused. Looking further, she muttered, "But how do we, er, make the angel unfallen again?"
"Amelia, unfallen is not a word." Reading over her shoulder, Virginia pointed to a section of the book on the next page, "There—'to find an angel's Guiding Light, one must find the angel's truest of true names…' whatever that is." Virginia frowned. "So all we have to do is find out what the angel's name is? That doesn't sound too hard."
Amelia frowned. "Virginia, I don't really think that angels would be named Timothy or James. We have no idea what a common angel name is, and these books don't help." Do you know of any angel names? She asked the angel. Waves of confusion and helplessness radiated from him in an answer—I didn't really think so, don't worry. If you did, you probably would already be free. At the word 'free', a wave of wistfulness swept over Amelia, and she grimaced.
"You know…" she said slowly, "I'll reckon that the Reverend would probably know some angel names…" she swallowed uncomfortably at the thought of confronting the stern man, and it was obvious Virginia held the same reaction, as she quickly got up and went back to searching for books. "There has to be something in this place that mentions actual angels…" Pulling out a few books and riffling through them, she let out a snort of disgust and quickly put them back in their place.
Amelia sighed and looked at the sun, which was lower than it should have been in the sky. Sighing, she turned to Virginia and said, "Come on; we need to start getting home or we won't be back by nightfall. You can come back to the library tomorrow, and I'll talk to Reverend Mather." A small stab of disappointment came from the angel, along with an image of her in his room; he wanted her to visit him before she and Virginia left. Shaking her head slightly, she sent back an image of her walking home in the dark, where bad things would attack. It effectively stopped the angel's requests, and Amelia did her best to hide her guilt; the roads weren't nearly so bad that they would get randomly attacked by bandits or anything—the worst that could happen was that a wagon wouldn't see them while traveling down the same road, and since almost no one owned wagons, that wasn't much of a problem, either.
The two girls trudged out of Town, pondering over the new information. At least, Amelia was—she couldn't tell what was on her friend's mind, but it was something that was keeping her occupied. Amelia wanted to ask what was troubling her, but eventually decided against it, and resumed talking to the angel, trying to rift through his memories for any clue of what his name might be. She wasn't having much success, unfortunately; no matter how hard she looked, the only true memories he had were of Earth, and the dreams of heaven he still retained showed little except for pristine cities shining in the clouds and the occasional too-beautiful-to-be-true face.
Amelia was taken abruptly out of her thoughts by Virginia, who urgently grabbed her shoulder. Seeing her questioning look, Virginia whispered, "Didn't you hear that?"
Amelia was confused for about three seconds, when she heard it herself; a low, unearthly hiss that might have come from a snake, but something in Amelia's mind swore she heard human screams imbedded in the near-silent sound. Virginia gripped Amelia's shoulder even tighter. "What was that?" she whispered, and when Amelia turned to look at her, she could see Virginia's baby-blue eyes wide with fright.
"Honestly, I don't want to know," she muttered back, and picked up her pace, nearly dragging her friend with her in the process. She tried to clear her mind to make sure the angel didn't worry and muddle her thoughts further; she needed to think clearly or something bad could happen. She nearly broke into an outright run when she heard the cracking of forest undergrowth as the creature followed them.
Suddenly, faster than Amelia's eyes could follow some…thing shot out of the undergrowth and knocked Virginia, screaming, away from the road, effectively knocking the blonde out, and wrapped itself around Amelia, immobilizing her. All screams died in her mouth as the creature responsible slithered out of the undergrowth and faced her.
It looked remotely an enormous snake gone horribly, horribly wrong. The scales were dull and pale, as if they had not seen the sun's warmth for a long time, if ever, and had an almost slimy look to them. While the body itself was almost identical to a snake's, it had tattered, grotesque wings sprouting almost unnaturally from the creature's collarbones, and pale, lifeless human body parts sprouting from its body in random areas, making Amelia want to hurl just by looking at it. Its unblinking eyes rested on its prey, and Amelia started to squirm.
"Do not move." The voice that issued from its mouth was neither male nor female, but both twisted horribly together with the faint echo of screams. It flicked out its tongue—a large, worm-like monstrosity of its own—and something hazy came towards it. "I was correct in my asssumptions. You are the mind-meld."
Despite what her survival instincts screamed at her, Amelia opened her mouth a spoke. "Mind-what?"
The being hissed, annoyed. "Of courssse…a mere human would not know anything of the angel'sss trivialitiess." Its grip tightened on Amelia, who whimpered in response. The angel, now fully aware that she was in trouble, was adding waves of extra panic coursing through Amelia, which was not helping.
The creature gave Amelia a little shake. "Where iss he?" It hissed, narrowing its colorless eyes. Amelia swallowed, but she didn't say anything—she couldn't even scream. Amelia started to struggle, which caused the creature to tighten itself around her to the point where she could barely breathe.
"I sssaid, where iss he??!!" The creature spat, all the while crushing Amelia. Unfortunately, the girl couldn't even breathe, let along tell him the whereabouts of the angel, which said angel was wordlessly begging her to do. She was seeing spots in her vision and her head was swimming aimlessly around when she heard Virginia shriek, "LET HER GO, YOU FREAK!!"
The blonde, having finally come to her senses and seeing her friend being held captive by the horrible creature, took off her boot and threw it at the creature—while it did not hurt the thing severely, it did loosen its grip on Amelia, causing Amelia to gasp in much-needed air. As soon as she found her voice, Amelia screamed, "Virginia! Get out of here!"
"Not a chance!" she yelled back, throwing the other boot at the thing, hoping to make it let loose of its grip on Amelia entirely. It did not work in that aspect; it only made the thing angrier. "You will die now," it hissed, and lunged at the blonde, who only barely escaped. In the process of its attack, though, it let its hold on Amelia loosen enough for her to wriggle free and run into the woods.
Virginia is back there! She screamed internally, knowing she couldn't go back and live—the angel was all but ordering her to get away get away get away and get back to the town and—
NO! She screamed back. Can't you help? The creature seemed to know you—don't you know anything that could weaken it? The angel didn't pay much attention to her words until he realized that she wasn't kidding when she said she was going back for her friend. Showing her random memories, Amelia found one that seemed strange—just blinding lights coming from all directions—but it showed the creature there, cringing away from the light. Amelia supposed it made sense; the thing didn't look like it was accustomed to being in the sun. Hurriedly rifling through her satchel while running in the direction of her friend's frightened screams, she tried to find something—anything!—that would make any sort of light. Finally she came across a box of matches. Yes!
She burst out of the woods back onto the road, where the creature rounded on her, hissing menacingly, leaving a battered Virginia to run a safer distance away. Bravely, Amelia lit a match, faintly illuminating the area around her. The creature narrowed its eyes, but kept advancing. "That won't help, girl," it hissed. It flicked its tail to her wrist, effectively sending the match towards to the forest, where it lay sizzling on the grassy undergrowth. Gasping in fear and stepping back a few paces, Amelia thought of her chances of surviving…and they weren't very good.
Suddenly, the creature hissed and flinched away from her and the undergrowth. Looking down, Amelia saw that the match had caught some of the plants on fire, making a bright flame that was obviously causing the creature pain. Swinging its head wildly back and forth, it quickly retreated in the forest opposite the fire and into the shadows, leaving Amelia, Virginia and the impending fire.
Virginia ran over to Amelia and hauled her out of the growing flames. "I'd congratulate you on driving the creature away, but we need to stop this fire from spreading before it destroys the whole forest!" The blonde girl's eyes were wide with worry and fear as they retreated away from the noxious smoke and the roiling flames. Amelia was sick with worry at the presence of this new enemy. There wasn't any good water source anywhere near this point in the road, and by the time they got help, the fire would be out of control. How could they contain it?
Suddenly, the familiar loud rumble of thunder resounded from the skies, and it began to pour heavily, huge bucketfuls of rain quickly putting out the fire, leaving nothing but a few charred trees and blackened undergrowth. Amelia breathed a sigh of relief as they ran into the trees for cover. "Lucky for the storm."
Virginia snorted. "Amelia, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. That wasn't a regular storm." She shivered, rubbing her forearms vigorously. Amelia watched dazedly, turning to the angel, surprised to feel weariness radiating from the divine creature. Did you cause it to rain? In response, the weariness became tinged with pride. Amelia shook her head, smiling.
"What?" Virginia, having not heard the silent one-way conversation, found it rather odd that her friend was smiling at a time like this. Amelia smiled a little wider. "That was the angel—he made it rain."
"Your boyfriend can control the weather?" Virginia's voice was full of disbelief. Amelia frowned at her. "He's not my boyfriend."
"He's trouble!" Virginia shrieked. "If it weren't for those matches, we'd be dead!"
"If it weren't for the angel telling me that the creature didn't like the light, I'd never have known to use the matches!"
"If it weren't for the angel making us work for him, the creature wouldn't have attacked us in the first place!" Virginia spat back.
Amelia just frowned at her, not liking the guilt that was coming off the angel in response to her friend's barb. "You hurt his feelings."
"I don't care!" She said, her eyes portraying her fury. "I almost died today! Died! I don't feel like repeating the experience!"
"Virginia," Amelia said, trying to be calm, "even if we totally abandoned the angel—which I won't do—I don't think this connection I have with him will go away, and I also doubt the creatures will stop attacking."
Virginia slumped her shoulders. "Then what do we do?"
"Try and get the angel back to heaven as soon as we can—that means we go back to the Town tomorrow." Seeing her friends discouraged expression, Amelia added, "The creature doesn't like light—we'll just have to be careful to get back home before nightfall."
Virginia didn't look happy, but she nodded. "I'm coming. You're my friend, and I'm not going to abandon at this point; not when there is so much danger."
"Then it's agreed. Come on, we need to get home."
When Amelia got home, her parents were worried and angry and it didn't help matters that her dress was torn and dirtied from her fight with the snake-thing. They listened to her bumbling story of how she had fallen several times on her journey home and had actually gotten lost once while trying to navigate in the dark with disbelief written plainly on their faces, and sent her to her room with no dinner for staying in Town for so long and lying about it. The angel seemed to feel rather guilty about the fact that she was being punished for trying to help him, or maybe he was still feeling miserable over Virginia's harsh words. Amelia sent him comforting thoughts, telling him that the sooner they find out his name, the sooner he can go home and everything can go back to normal.
It was obvious the library had given out all the information it possibly could, though—meaning Amelia was going to have to find out angel's names from another source. As she fell into a troubled sleep filled with snakes and monsters and human screams, she surmised that it was high time to pay a visit to Rev. Mather.
A/N: That was as close to a good fight scene as I've ever gotten—I'm totally jazzed. Hopefully, the next chapter will be easier to write. ^.^