A/N: Hey all- this is just to gauge interest for this. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo last year, and am considering revamping it a bit. Since the summary on the main page doesn't give much info, I'll give a more extended one here:
Tierra d'Angelique is a Soul Healer. With her gift of song, even the deadliest demons are freed of their sins and sent to Judgement as innocent as a newborn. As the daughter of the Archangel Amadeus, Tierra has served her Lord and his army of Good her entire life with her devoted friend Rianne at her side. Enter Aydinn Satanvno, Satan's assassin, determined to rid the world of Tierra's magic forever. When Rianne is kidnapped, Tierra forces Aydinn into helping her find the other woman, and the most unlikely couple in the universe emerges, deep in the bowls of the underworld.
So, let me know if you think you'd like to read more. I'll be happy to post as I go. :)
For all mortals, life was a battle. A constant struggle between good and evil, for their hearts held both. But they had no idea, that on a much grander scale, that war had been ongoing for millennia, and its repercussions could be so much worse than they knew. In fact, someday, it would end the world.
No one would destroy the world, of course. It was far too valuable of a resource. But when one side finally won out over the other, existence would end. There cannot be balance without both sides, and without balance, no life can hope to exist for long.
No one knew the effects of the war better than Tierra d'Angelique, the Soul-Healer. As the daughter of the archangel Amadeus, it was her responsibility to save as many mortals from the path of darkness as she could. But her fight was more personal than that. As a soul-healer, someone responsible for the well-being of souls, she could see the tears and pain caused by the constant fight to choose between good and evil. Like in a tug-of-war match between children, one side pulled on the mortal's being, quickly followed by the other, until it frayed or tore in the middle. She wanted the battle to end so that she never had to see that fracture in a mortal's soul again
"Tierra! Come on - the crowd is getting antsy." Tierra's best friend and travelling partner called from back stage, her red hair drawing Tierra's attention more than her words. The lovely locks stood out in a crowd, and they were the only way the soul-healer could find her friend while amongst others.
"I'm coming," the archangel's daughter responded, standing with a tired sigh. This was her fourth performance that week, and the strain of using her powers was beginning to take its toll on her body. But she couldn't stop, not while there were so many mortal souls in danger of joining the forces of the dark. She owed the Father and these innocents more than that.
The stage was lovely, one of those big old fashioned ones, made of only wood, paint, and countless hours of the craftsmen's time. The wood she stood on was painted black, unique carvings pressed into each board. The curtain separating her from the crowd was a silver color, making the whole situation seem surreal as Tierra waited for the heavy fabric to be lifted so she might begin her performance.
"Ready?" Rianne asked from the side of the stage, tapping her foot with impatience. Impatience was one of the other woman's biggest flaws, but Tierra loved her all the more for it. Tierra herself was content to lay back and let God take her where he would, but Rianne kept her on track, both with her aura sensing abilities and her impeccable sense of time and order.
"Yes," Tierra responded, her voice already a bit hoarse from all the stress it had been under.
Rianne didn't respond in words; instead, the red-headed woman gave a hand signal to a man on the opposite side of the stage. He nodded at her and began yanking the pulley's string, causing the curtain to rise. "And now, if you would all welcome Ms. Tierra d'Angelique!"
Applause rang out from the auditorium after the announcer' s words, but Tierra did not allow herself to look out at the faces. Instead, she focused her gaze on the back door, where a small crack of light showed from the outer hallway.
"Hello," she greeted the assembled crowd. "I'm here today to administer healing. There is always magic in music, and in this place, at this time, it will find you." These were the only words she said during any of her performances, feeling as if she spoke, her spell would be broken. They weren't meant to be taken literally - though they could be - but as religious words. Syllables that would not really affect the mortals' lives if they did not listen, but could change everything if they were taken literally.
Without further ado Tierra raised her chin, took a deep breath, and began to sing.
There was a collective gasp from the people in the auditorium as pure sound came from her mouth. As she took a crescendo into the end of the introductory phrase, she unleashed her power. It flew from her soul to the audience and connected them, changing everything. Now, she could feel their pain, their suffering, and see the cracks beginning from their inability to choose a side. Their sins beat down upon her, akin to the feeling that she imagined Jesus must have had as he hung on the cross to die for his children's misdeeds.
Not that she would ever compare herself to the Son. She was just doing his work on Earth - something that more of the Heavenly beings needed to try. Good as they were, they were also lazy and feared the Mortal Plane. Why? Tierra did not know, and did not care to. She was happy here, doling out healings and seeing God's children flourish.
Her song wove its way through the crowd like something tangible. It touched each and every person, the sound waves ghosting in and out of people's ears like some kind of celestial being. The audience sat enthralled, and Tierra began to apply her power further, beginning the healing process. A soft glow emanated from her slight form, the physical manifestation of her power to those who knew what it meant.
Aydinn Satanavno was one such demon.
Of course, no one but he knew that he was an evil entity. In fact, he sincerely doubted the Big Man himself would be able to pick him out in this crowd. As the most powerful demonic assassin in the Under Realms, Aydinn had access to some powerful magic when the Master saw fit to share. In this case, Satan himself had Illusioned Aydinn, making sure that Tierra d'Angelique would not notice his heritage until it was too late.
Bearing the form of a minor angel, the assassin had been given explicit instructions. Pretend to be good, he had been told. Make her trust you, and lead her to me. We'll finish this war that way. The Master had seemed particularly gleeful at the thought of killing the Soul Healer, so Aydinn had asked no questions. He had just walked away and readied himself, then found the woman's next concert.
And there he sat, waiting for his chance to meet her among thousands of fool mortals that actually believed her to be one of them. How stupid they were, sitting here, allowing themselves to be effected by her spell.
He himself had refused to allow that effect. He was no fool; his soul was damaged beyond repair from the numerous murders he had committed. There was no way even this angel's song could save him. All it would do was tip her off to the fact that he was different from the others, someone who was not to be trusted. So, instead of allowing the music to reach his ears, Aydinn had shoved pieces of wax in them.
But the plugs didn't stop him from watching her. Every rise and fall of her breast, every graceful movement of her elegant neck, every entrancing stare she gave a new member of the audience – he saw it. Because of this close observance, he noticed the exact moment she began to apply her unique power.
A soft glow emanated from her skin, marking her for what she was.
"Oh, Soul-Healer," the demon murmured to himself, eyes locked on her form as she sped through another stanza, "you should have hidden yourself better." His lips quirked into a sadistic smile as she brought the song to an end with a decrescendo and a wavering last note. "This game will be over so quickly that I won't even have time to enjoy it."
The song ended and the rest of the audience jumped to their feet, applauding wildly. There were whistles and cheers as Tierra backed away from the edge of the stage to allow the curtain to drop, smiling slightly. She was exhausted and needed to rest, but the performance had been worth it. Every audience member was healed now, and feeling the effects that came with that healing; extra energy, a feeling of relief, all because of the patches over the holes in their souls.
Rianne had found this group especially for tonight's show. Their souls had been terribly torn before listening to Tierra's powerful song, and were barely clinging to their humanity. If she had not stepped in, they would have been doomed to an eternity of damnation in Satan's fiery plane, forced to become his minions. But this time, good had succeeded. Satan had lost nearly a hundred souls to the Lord today, and being the one to bring that win before the Lord had Tierra walking on air as she left the stage.
"You were amazing tonight, Ti," Rianne told her with a warm hug. "I don't remember the last time I saw you do that well. They were ready to get up and kiss your - hand." Rianne changed what she had been planning to say last minute, knowing that Tierra would not approve of the foul language. Rianne did not have the moral restrictions that the Soul Healer did, being mortal.
Tierra smiled modestly. "Thanks. Did you see the Demi-Angel out there? I think my father must have sent him to check up on me." The Soul Healer rolled her eyes good naturedly at her father's overprotective maneuvers. The archangel had been known to do worse things than send someone to look after her, though, so Tierra was not truly upset.
"No, I didn't." Rianne shook her head, looking puzzled. "I'll go out and find him while you get changed. We need to get back to the hotel so you can rest, then head out early tomorrow morning." Rianne always kept to the schedule, no matter what went on or how hard one argued, so Tierra simply yawned and nodded resignedly.
"All right. Bring him back here - I'm sure he has a message for me." Tierra and Rianne split ways at the stage door - Rianne followed the steps down into the auditorium, and the performer went backstage to the dressing room to change from the flowing white gown she wore on stage to a pair of jeans and a loose fitting shirt.
The gown and her looks were part of the performance. She always combed and coifed her blue-black hair meticulously before every song, and bundled herself into a flowing white gown that resembled the standard archangel uniform. To be truly good, her father had once told her, one must look the part.
So, off came the gown and on went a pair of jeans and a white blouse. She pulled her hair out of the bun she wore it in and let it settle down around her waist, letting the tension drain from her head. The hair had been pulled entirely too tight all evening, and it was a huge relief to let it flow free.
Almost done, she told herself with relief. Just a visit with the angel, and then I can sleep.
Rianne strode into the auditorium, wincing with each step. If she hated one thing on the Mortal Plane, it was the ridiculous clothing she had to wear. Since she had gone to stay with Tierra and her father in the Angelic Plane, her attire had been much simpler. White robes, no shoes necessary – it was, quite literally, Heaven … especially in comparison to these hated mortal clothes. The blouse she was too short, too tight, and much too immodest for her tastes. Her short skirt left her feeling exposed to anyone who so much as glanced her way, but the shoes were definitely the worst. High, strappy sandals that sent stabbing pains through her feet with every step.
When she had gone to stay with Tierra and her father in the Angelic Plane, attire had been much simpler. White robes, no shoes necessary – it was, quite literally, Heaven. Especially in comparison to this.
Naturally, the demi-angel she had been sent to find was sitting in one of the furthest seats from backstage, forcing her to walk a long distance up the steep incline to get to him. Her feet were throbbing by the time she got within ten rows of the slouching man. It struck her as odd that he was resting in such a lazy posture, but she was too busy bracing herself for the feeling of longing that shot through her heart when she laid eyes on the ethereal beauty of any demi-angel in their human form.
Even with prior warning, she found her breath catching in her throat as she locked eyes with the dark haired gentleman. With his perfectly sloped forehead, slightly upturned nose, and eyes set the ideal distance apart, he was a work of art; a masterpiece sculpted by a divine artist. It was more than just the ethereal beauty she was used to – there was something more to this man. A feel of danger that pervaded his very essence that just added to his allure. "Good evening," he spoke quietly, his deep voice bringing her back to her right mind. Her time to ogle was over, meaning that it was time to get down to business.
"Good evening," she responded, smiling hugely, and still struggling to keep her eyes from wandering. "I'm Rianne McCarthy, Tierra's partner. She sent me out to find you." Eerie green eyes locked onto her face as she spoke, making her awkwardly fidget with her hated skirt. Train of thought completely gone, she scrambled for something intelligent to say. "Uhm …"
"I would speak with Ms. d'Angelique, if it would not be an inconvenience." His polite request saved her any further embarrassment, so she nodded quickly, inwardly berating herself for acting like a fool. He rose at her nod, making her lose her composure once again as she took in his form.
While standing, the rest of his body was revealed and continued the trend of good looks. His frame was slender and not overly muscled, but there was a great strength within him that Rianne suspected he could call upon at will. The broad shoulders and narrow waist further accentuated the fact that he was in good physical condition, as well as the hints of definition in his core and the veined forearms visible under rolled sleeves.
"Ms. McCarthy?" He caught her elbow and looked at her quizzically, one eyebrow raised. "Would that be permissible?" It may have been phrased as a question, but Rianne could tell the query was anything but. His facial expression gave it away; that smug, obey-me-or-else grin that only someone deeply seated in his own power could pull off.
Seeing that cocky attitude gave Rianne a sudden burst of self control. She hated creatures that believed they were better than her, and this one would not be an exception to that rule. "I – of course." Words still weren't coming easily, but at least she had managed a complete thought. "Tierra actually sent me to invite you backstage, Mr. -?" Rianne waited for him to supply his name, finding it odd that he had not introduced himself immediately after she had told him hers.
He glanced up at her, and for an instant, Rianne would have sworn that she saw a flash of red in his irises. "Aydinn," he supplied finally. "It's just Aydinn." His voice was that of someone keeping himself under very tight emotional control, and he had fixed his eyes on the floor, causing an air of discomfort to emanate between the two.
"Well then, Aydinn, if you'll just follow me, Tierra would be happy to speak with you." Rianne cleared her throat and began to lead her companion back stage, discomfort sending chills up and down her spine. Something had happened back there, with the man's eyes. She was nearly certain of it. But what?
Rianne found herself hurrying down the aisle, Aydinn ghosting along soundlessly behind her, the standing hairs on the back of her neck the only sign he was following. He was nothing like she had expected, obviously, but was that reason to feel that as uncomfortable around him as she did? This would not be the first time her eyes had played a trick on her, and it was not as if the angel had said or done anything inappropriate besides cop an attitude.
When the two reached the ornate door to Tierra's dressing room, Rianne stopped. "If you'll wait here, I'll go tell her that we're here." She wanted away from the man, and she didn't mind that he knew it. The hot tempered Irish woman had never been one to censor herself, and she certainly was not about to start because of a man.
Aydinn nodded uncaringly and leaned back against the brick wall, crossing his arms over his broad chest. The motion pulled his dress shirt tight across bulging muscles, sending a flood of heat to Rianne's pale cheeks. With a curse to her Irish ancestors, the woman stepped into Tierra's brightly lit dressing room, discomfort dissipating as soon as she escaped from his sights.
The Soul-Healer was resting in a chair on the far side of the room, her hair loose and flowing down her back and over the chair she reclined in. Gone were her characteristic performing clothes, replaced with blue jeans and a loose white blouse. "There you are – what took so long?" Tierra greeted her friend, a smile taking away the sting from the words.
Rianne rolled her eyes. "I wasn't gone that long. But that guy is … different. Wait 'til you see him." She gestured towards the closed door with a thumb. "He doesn't look like the rest of them, and he's more intense. And when I looked at his eyes…" she trailed off, well aware that finishing that sentence would make her sound judgmental and more than slightly crazy.
"What happened, Rianne?" Tierra asked with a yawn, cocking her head to one side as if she thought it would help her read the other woman's mind.
Rianne shook her head. "Never mind. I just thought I saw something strange, is all." Tierra looked troubled at her refusal to answer the question, but blessedly didn't press the matter.
"Well, where is he, then?" The soul-healer asked, probably wanting to see if she could figure out the mystery on her own. "In the hallway?" She rose to her feet gracefully, sending a pang of envy through the much stockier Rianne.
"Come on in, my brother," Tierra's musical voice requested, interrupting the other woman mid-sentence. She brought herself up expectantly, spine straight, mouth set in a practiced welcoming smile and chin up. She was the perfect picture of serenity as she waited for her visitor to come through the door.
Rianne, on the other hand, was as tense as a prisoner awaiting sentencing as the demi- angel walked through the door. The man ignored her totally, his searching eyes finding Tierra immediately. The soul healer gasped at his appearance, and her friend could not help the feeling of foreboding the crept over her at the look of purely physical admiration on the innocent face she knew so well.
Tierra was not one to be swayed by the physical. Her faith, her gift, and her soul were all given to her by that which could not be touched or seen, and she had never felt the need to look outside those things for satisfaction. But looking at the demi-angel that had just walked through the door, she could almost understand why mortals were so governed by the physical.
Typically, demi-angels preferred to manifest as kindly looking, elderly men or women. The only time they assumed the form of someone her age was when they were trying to sway a young person's decisions. Tierra could remember one appearing as such to Rianne's and her next door neighbor to prevent a suicide and the resulting damage. But even as a young adult, that angel hadn't been nearly as attractive to the eye as the one standing before her.
He was certainly like no one she had ever seen, and she found that fact intriguing. Angels were generally boring individuals- this man actually looked like he could hold a conversation that did not involve the words 'holy' or 'most gracious Lord', unlike her father and his brothers and sisters. And what Rianne had called 'different' was clearly a rough quality that she was unused to seeing in the divine.
"Tierra d'Angelique, this is Aydinn." Rianne stumbled a little over the man's lack of a last name, but it didn't bother Tierra. The dark-haired woman advanced on the angel and made a mental note as Rianne took a step back, looking awkward. The two women would have to have a talk later, apparently.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Aydinn," Tierra greeted in a soft voice, shaking his hand.
He brought her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it, his lips cool and impersonal. "It's an honor to meet you as well, Ms. d'Angelique," he murmured, his dark eyes catching her green ones. "I've heard stories of your works, and never dreamed that I would meet the legendary Soul Healer in person." His words were polite and sincere, but his eyes remained cold, a fact that struck Tierra as odd.
"Please, call me Tierra." She blushed at his flattery and felt her smile grow wider. "And I would hardly call myself 'legendary'." With another smile, she tugged her hand away from him and took up residence on the chair she had previously occupied, her posture considerably better this time.
"I suspect we'll have to agree to disagree on that count, Tierra." Aydinn's voice was pitched low and deep, almost a rumble from his chest as he used her first name very deliberately, eliciting a response from Tierra's body that she refused to acknowledge. "But no matter," he ended with a charming smile, showing surprisingly sharp eye teeth.
Tierra giggled, earning a sharp look from Rianne. With a conscious effort, she pulled herself together and asked the question on everyone's mind. "What brings you here today, Aydinn? Surely it wasn't just to see my concert." Pulling on years of schooling on manners, she crossed her ankles and folded her hands in her lap, waiting for his response.
A small crease appeared between his brows, and the corners of his mouth turned downward. "I suppose it's time to tell you," he began sullenly, sitting on the chair across from the one where Tierra rested. She gave a nod and waited patiently, while Rianne gave an eye roll that only she could see. The other woman had never cared for dramatic pauses, and they seemed to be Aydinn's favorite method of conversation.
"We've been informed that Satan's forces are on the rise, and are growing more and more powerful because of the great sins of the human race." The look on his face was deadly serious, drawing Tierra deep into his words. "You, of course, know how damaged they are – Amadeus cannot possibly let half of them through the Gates." He paused, looking at the woman for confirmation. At her nod, he continued, "Well, it seems…" he squirmed in his chair a little, making Rianne and Tierra look at each other worriedly, "it seems that some of these souls, uh – blame you for their damnation."
"What?" Rianne all but bellowed, rising from the stool she had been perched on in a heartbeat. "That's absurd! How is it Tierra's fault that they couldn't follow the Father's rules?" The red in her face told Tierra that it was time to send her friend outside, but didn't move. Rianne wouldn't go, not until the rest of Aydinn's message had been delivered.
"Rianne, please," the soul healer entreated wearily. When the aura-sensor had resumed her seat, she nodded at Aydinn to continue.
"Of course, it makes no sense."Aydinn seemed reticent to speak the next words for reasons unknown, "But they seem to think that since they didn't know of your existence while they still existed as mortals, you did not want to help them." He raised a hand as Rianne tried to interrupt again. "As I said, I know that it's ridiculous."
Rianne sent him a cold stare, but held her peace. Tierra sent her what she hoped was a reassuring smile, but was inwardly quaking. With this as the precursor, whatever news Aydinn brought could not be good. Bracing herself, she resumed listening.
"Well … because of the blame, the demons are after you." Like ripping off a band aid, the news left her numb for a moment. Aydinn had clearly tired of beating around the bush and gone straight to the point, maybe hoping that she would appreciate his blunt delivery.
"After me?" she asked, holding up a hand to keep Rianne silent. The redhead was fuming on her stool, but obeyed the hand gesture. Though she didn't speak, Tierra could tell they would be having words later that night.
"Yes. Of course, when we found out that you ladies were totally alone down here, I was assigned to come as a security detail." He shrugged and ended his explanation, making Rianne explode.
"Security detail? Why? That's why I'm with her, remember?" One of her hands dove under her skirt and reappeared brandishing a knife at Aydinn. "We don't need additional security. It'll only make us more noticeable!"
"Rianne. Enough. Violence isn't going to help our situation, and Aydinn is only trying to be kind." Tierra's voice was harsh, making her friend start. The soul healer prided herself on being even tempered and calm, no matter what the situation, and she had never, ever raised her voice at Rianne before.
"We don't need his kindness, Tierra. We're fine on our own," Rianne snapped, sheathing her knife.
"Pride comes before the fall, remember? I would rather be safe than sorry – you and I are too important to the war to be lost due to our pride." There was a trace of anger in the words, another stunning revelation for Tierra. She had never found Rianne aggravating before, and she didn't want to hurt the other woman. "I – I'm sorry, Rianne. But we should hear Aydinn out, don't you agree?"
Rianne just stared at her dark haired friend. "Whatever you say, Soul Healer," she seethed, using the title instead of name only because she knew it would irk Tierra. But the angel's daughter didn't falter.
"Would it be just you joining us, Aydinn? Or would there be others?" Tierra's question sparked a hint of anger in the angel's eyes.
Aydinn smirked, "You seem to think this is up for debate. No, there will not be others, but none of us has a choice in whether I accompany you. You need protecting; I was put up for the job. End of story." Standing, he caught Rianne's eyes with his. "You and I will work together. It won't be so bad, I promise."
Rianne glared at him through green eyes. "We'll see about that, angel. But for now, I don't have much choice, do I? Just get out and let Tierra and I talk."
Tierra sighed. Rianne was a good woman, but she had a tendency to let her emotions run away with her in tow, like a dog walker holding too many leashes. Her anger and pride were her weakest points, though, Tierra had to admit to some pride of her own. She couldn't condemn Rianne for hers. But her problems with Aydinn and his orders were going to have to be resolved immediately, if possible.
"Please, Aydinn, just give us a few moments. We won't leave without you, I swear." With manners that could charm anyone, Tierra convinced Aydinn to leave the room. Once the door was closed, she turned back to Rianne, eyes wide and guileless.
"Rianne," she began, only to be cut off by her friend's sharp tongue.
"Don't 'Rianne' me, Tierra d'Angelique. I cannot believe you're going to let him waltz in here and take over! Danger or no, we should have a say in whom we travel with. I do not like that man, not one bit, and I definitely won't be able to stand working with him. He makes me feel … uncomfortable. Like he knows something that he's not telling us. And his eyes …" she trailed off where she had left off earlier, talking about Aydinn's eyes. Tierra jumped on it this time, not willing to let it go when it was obviously upsetting her friend.
"What about his eyes, Rianne? You have to tell me, or I'm never going to understand why you're so upset about this." Entreating her friend's rational side, the soul healer played to her strengths. Rianne was a stickler about thinking things through before acting, and examining all sides of an argument – when she wasn't involved in it, at least. Her temper tended to make her less rational.
The aura sensor stared at the ground, shifting her weight from foot to foot. "I – it sounds stupid. You're going to think I'm crazy," -Tierra made to assure her that she wouldn't think any such thing, but Rianne pressed on - "but whatever. May as well get it out into the open. When we were out in the auditorium, I asked his name. He seemed annoyed, or angry, or something… and his eyes… his eyes glowed. It was just a second, but I saw it, Tierra. I swear I did."
Confused and more than a little bewildered, the young woman slid back into her seat, resting her head against the back of it. "The lights," she started reasonably, "they play tricks on the eyes. I swear I see people glowing all the time from stage."
"But I –"
"Rianne, we both know that the only creatures with glowing eyes are demons." The words hung in the air between the two women, stunting conversation. "Do you think Aydinn is a demon?"
The question was a tangible thing in the room with them, growing and growing until Rianne snapped back, "I think the question here is do you think he's a demon?"
"I saw him glow white while I sang," Tierra responded, not wanting to give an outright 'no', not knowing that it would be a sign of betrayal or disbelief. "He can't have demonic and angelic attributes, Rianne. It's not possible!"
Rianne looked at Tierra for a long moment, and then let her gaze drop to the floor in acquiescence. "Fine. He comes with us."