Chapter Five

The tranquil cottage became the site of chaos when Raphael and Knysna found us. Not because they were angry at me but because The High Court was there and they were definitely fuming. Knysna's usually calm and harp-like voice called out like a tightly strung guitar, piercing through both my and Jase's ears. "Leave her alone! This is not an easy idea for her to wrap her head around."

"Her decision will determine the fate of the entire human race."

"Wouldn't that burden alone be enough for any angel to flee?" the room fell silent and each breath became deafeningly audible. One of The High Court Angels stepped toward me. His eyes were gleaming golden brown yet they held no warmth, they shone merely due to the ceiling light above me. His wings, now folded behind his back, floated like an azure layer of oil in the atmosphere surrounding them. His pale lips parted to release the words he seemed to be suppressing "Miss Davidson, I understand the shock this must have brought upon you, but you do need to understand that we cannot stop this fiend without your help." I contemplated what he had just said for a moment then turned to my room. An exasperated sigh fell from an angel's lips behind me, most probably the blonde female with the piercingly green eyes, she emanated contempt the moment she stepped foot inside the cottage. Within the same four walls many a marvellous memory was made, I gathered what few belongings I had and stepped anxiously back into the living room. Raphael smiled knowingly at Knysna and she threw the look back at the blonde devil's spawn that had sighed at me earlier. Jase slid over the kitchen bench and stood protectively next to me in response – I soon discovered – to Raphael's extended hand.

Back at the house the chaos within mirrored the storm brewing outside. Preparations to find and stop the dark angel had everyone working all hours of the day under the strict eye of The High Court. My once homely bedroom now felt like the cell of a high-risk prisoner. I was protected all hours of the day seven days a week. I had barely left my room in the last three weeks and visitors were prohibited three days ago after I clumsily fell down the stairs and one of The High Court members was convinced it was not an accident. It had taken me a while to come to terms with the fact that the fate of the world could be decided by what I do from now on. Jase and Eleanor had been my foundation these past few weeks and now even that was stripped away from me. It became difficult to tell the difference between reality and my subconscious. Even time seemed non-existent in this concrete cell I called home. Safguarded by supernatural beings I had never even believed in before now, I sat on my bed and lost myself in a book among the sheets. Reading used to be a favourite pastime of mine and it calmed me to think I could escape reality for a few hours and let my mind disappear into a different world. After three or four hours I was given temporary parole and allowed within the parameters of the safe house to eat some lunch and "stretch my legs" as Knysna had described it. The rest of the house's population was nowhere to be seen of course, so I roamed the house alone – well as alone as you could be with your own personal team of body guards. The common rooms felt cold and hostile and the garden's once vibrant colours seemed to have been absorbed into the grey clouds overhead. It wasn't long before I curled up like a wounded dog on my bed, covers pulled up to my ears and wished yet another day away. Just as sleep began to overcome me, a last minute thought crossed my mind. Was this it? Was there no way to fight back, to stop them from treating me like a psych patient? To prove I didn't need to be sheltered, that I could handle this dark angel and whatever they threw at me? Tomorrow I would do whatever it took to find out.

I woke up before the alarm and slipped into a pair of old jeans and a baggy t-shirt. I didn't want anyone to hear the shower running and it's not like my soul was capable of creating any odour so I tied my hair up and felt around in the top drawer of my dresser for the rope ladder I had been working on. I was only on the second floor but I wasn't going to risk anyone hearing me land on the ground and Raphael would instantly know I had left if I even dared to open my wings. The wind was like knives of ice across my face when I opened my window. Winter sat on the tops of trees and among the grass beneath me, turning the bare trees into crystal, shining in the sun only just rising over the horizon. I pulled the ladder down after me which I had set up to close the window so that the guards were left with no leads. I stuffed the ladder into my backpack and started for the cottage in the woods. About halfway to the cottage I placed to ladder at the foot of the tree and scattered a few items around it to make it seem as if I had dropped my backpack and been in too much of a hurry to gather all my belongings. I knew running away wasn't the most mature thing to do, but I was sick of sitting around waiting for one of the angels to have some strategic epiphany. There was no time for strategies right now, people were in danger and I was going to either find the dark angel, or make it easy for it to find me. Treating the supposed prophesised hero like a five year old wasn't getting anything done. If I was the one who was meant to stop this villain then I was going to give my all to make it happen. I began running towards he cottage, ignoring the tracks I was leaving behind and the few belongings that conveniently fell out of my open backpack on the way. Once I reached the cottage I dusted the cobwebs from the pantry and filled the kettle with water – I would turn it on when I left. I emptied my backpack out, dumped it in my old room and grabbed the musty bag from under the bed. I needed to be sure to lead everyone off my trail so I made it seem as if I had hidden somewhere in the nearby woods. I was sure this would be the first place they would look. The cottage still smelled too stale to fool Knysna into thinking I had only just been in here. Lighting candles or using some kind of air freshener would be too obvious so I decided, then, to have a shower. It was still too early for anyone to have begun attempting to wake me up and I needed the comfort of one anyway. I let the hot water run or a while to steam up the bathroom before I stepped into the shower and over-used every single soap and shampoo I could find. The range of face washes, hair products and body lotions in this house equated to the supply of a spa. It was an eerie yet comforting thought that the place had always stayed the same; no matter how long it went abandoned, after a good clean it was incredible what you could find among its shelves and cupboards. When Jase and I stayed here one weekend, we went the entire weekend without one trip to the shop up the road and the cupboards never emptied. With the bathroom now smelling like a bath and body store I wrapped my hair in a towel and changed into a dressing gown while I waited for my clothes to finish in the drier. I left the bathroom door ajar allowing the sickly sweet scent of soaps and gels to ooze out of the bathroom. Soon the house smelt of lavender and freshly washed clothes and it began to feel like home again. It was coming on eight o'clock and I needed to get going so I was at least an hour away before the guards even found out I was missing. No doubt the High Court would jump to the conclusion of a kidnapping and interrogations would soon take place, but as soon as Eleanor and Jase got wind of my disappearance they would be on my tail. There was no avoiding eventually having to face them, but the cottage was the perfect distraction. Jase would, as I was now, struggle with the nostalgia of the sight and smell of the place. I hoped, then, that he would come after me alone, which would give me a few more minutes to get away. Dragging myself through the house, I shut the memories out of my mind and made my final alterations to the cottage. Just before I closed the back door, I turned the kettle on and took one last look at the rustic old cottage. The fireplace longed for a fresh fire to be started and the couch in the living room yearned to embrace the form of a human body. The door creaked in protest as I gingerly pulled it closed and a waft of sweet smelling wood hit my nose making me hesitate just a moment longer before I snapped myself back to reality and started towards the other end of the forest.

I was careful, this time, to cover my tracks. It was hard to do without making it look like someone had covered up any tracks. Luckily my perfectionism came into good use and the immaculate surface of the soil I had broken with each heavy step I took seemed just as beautifully rugged as the rest of the forest. Once I had reached the mouth of the forest I made an effort to move through the plants and trees without touching the soil. I hopped from rock to rock and found myself swinging from a branch or two. The cold, musky breeze blew through my hair adding to the cliché of my new found strength and determination. I was never athletic at school. But I guess that whole fight or flight theory was proving itself, though I didn't know which of the two reactions were causing me to do this. The woods seemed a whole lot thicker than I remembered and my stomach soon reminded me that I hadn't eaten all day. Not wanting to waste any time and well aware that Raphael would have the entire house on my tail, I grabbed the muesli bar I had in my bag and began munching on it. I regretted the decision almost instantly, whilst my stomach was full, the grains soaked up all the remaining moisture out of my mouth making my throat ache with thirst. I had no idea where to find any water, and I only had two litres with me. I had no idea how long this place would serve as a mask but I knew two litres of water would've been enough. But with the other items in my bag paired with my lack of physical strength, it was all I could carry from the cottage. The foliage was relatively thick and seemed to be well watered, raising my hopes of finding some kind of stream nearby. Sipping my only water supply gingerly I headed in what seemed to be a thicker part of the forest. If not a sign of a nearby water source, it would at least provide me with some shield from the inevitable night winds and search party and possibly provide me with some means of creating shelter. The thicket was almost impossible to navigate and the fact that cutting back any branches would only lead to my discovery crippled my chances of making it any easier. The food had finally reached my stomach filling my body with a refreshing energy allowing me to push myself a lot harder for a lot longer.

I'd been walking for what seemed like hours and there was no water in sight. I tried to think back to books I had read or that survival show I used to watch to give me some idea as to what I should do, but my brain allowed me no such comforts. Feeling like some hopeless diva sent out to work on a farm for the first time; I found a tree with some branches low enough for my spindly arms to hoist me and the backpack up onto. I moved precariously from one branch to the next as I ascended up the tree finally settling on a sturdy branch wide enough for me to sit comfortably on and examined the contents of my backpack. In the rush of leaving the cottage on time I had no idea what essential items I had predictably left behind. To my surprise I had brought enough food and medical supplies to last me a week; this was a relief because there was no way I could learn how to hunt in time to save myself and I would undoubtedly have selected some poisonous plant to feast upon if I had to resort to vegetarianism. The view from the tree made my heart sink a little as I remembered how close I was to civilisation. The sun was setting and the pink line of pollution slicing across the horizon was so beautifully harrowing it captured my breath long enough to get my heart racing. Before reality struck like a brick to my face and I remembered I had no heart, only the illusion of one, breathing was not essential but rather a memory tied so tightly to my soul that I had dragged it with me to this new life. I stood on the branch hoping to distract myself from my own thoughts and searched the surrounding forest for any sign of water. To my surprise I spotted a small clearing in the distance. It was a little far off but I knew my water supply would last me 'till then if I kept at the same pace. The clearing seemed to house some abnormally shaped article that I hoped with all my heart was a spring. Grabbing onto the trunk for support, I slid myself down as gently as I could onto the branch below me. Doing the same thing each time I successfully landed on each branch. When my feet eventually hit solid ground I started in the direction of the spring, cautiously covering each step.

The sun was hastily disappearing behind the curtain of night and soon I was tripping over my own two feet. I knew that water wasn't a necessity but the physical memory of thirst was beginning to become unbearable. I envied all the other angels; they had no earthly disturbances to worry about, no gashes on their back when they opened their wings, and above all, no dark angel to try to conquer to save the whole of the human race. With the sun sitting snuggly on the horizon, I found a relatively flat branch about two metres above ground and turned it into a make-shift bed. I laid the sleeping bag down and crawled into it, hoping the tarpaulin I had secured beneath me like a safety net would break my fall if I rolled over in my sleep. It didn't take long for my eyelids to grow heavy, and for sleep to overcome me. The next few days went by a vague memory. I spent most nights up in trees; especially after a desperate nap on the ground had me covered in ants for the rest of the day. I still found the odd dead ant hidden in some crevice of my body. The foliage became thicker as I walked further into the forest which made finding shelter each night a whole lot easier. I still had no idea how many days I had been out here but, if I travelled the same distance I had been travelling every day I would reach the water in a matter of hours. The air was heavy and humid leaving me with constant feelings of fatigue and thirst as I searched out this spring. In fact, I actually had no idea if it was even water. Although the water was closer and, in theory, I should be able to see the clearing better, I had to climb high enough to see over the canopy and by then I had climbed too high to see the clearing in great detail. I walked on anyway and hoped and prayed that the little imperfection in the distance was a spring of water.

A few hours later I reached the clearing, the water in front of me was so beautiful, and so perfect I couldn't help but to shove my head beneath the surface and gulp down as much of it as I could. I was suddenly overcome with crippling nausea. Great. I thought. You've gone and found yourself the only toxic vessel of water in this entire forest. Luckily my mother's old healing remedy made itself present in my memory and I was almost one hundred per cent sure I could find all the ingredients within a few metres of the clearing. But I would do that later. It wasn't like the toxins could kill me; they just made everything a whole lot harder to do. I wondered what would happen if I threw up; I'd probably only feel the sensations, considering there was nothing for me to throw up. I sat on the edge of the tiny pond and dangled my legs into its deceptively beautiful water. I couldn't believe my luck, after everything I had planned and re-planned, I was so sure all the water in this forest was safe. It had always been like that, Mrs. Harvey had always said the forest's waters were pure. As if in response to my dismay the water sparkled a magnificent crystal blue. I reached my cupped hand into the water and brought it to my lips. The water was cool and gentle on my tongue, tickling my dry throat as I continued to gulp down mouthfuls of it, eventually giving in to temptation and submerging my head in the water again. I half expected to be hit with another wave of nausea, instead I felt remarkably strong. I had no idea what had just happened but somehow the water was clean. I had no time to think about how that was even a possibility. I filled my water bottles and had one last giant gulp of water before I set out to find the ingredients I needed. I really didn't feel like having to face another half hour onset of crippling nausea. I had the remedy brewed by nightfall and found myself two sturdy branches I could hang a make-shift hammock from. It wasn't the most comfortable night's sleep but I managed to slip into a shallow sleep after what felt like an hour or two.

A sudden change in temperature startled me awake. I was surrounded by a wall of red, orange and yellow. In the time it took me to realise what was going on, the wall crept a few inches closer burning every micrometre of exposed skin. Of all the earthly senses I had brought with me into this new spiritual life, I had never been able to feel heat or cold, unless it was created by an angel. An angel. This was the doing of someone. Would Knysna and Raphael go this for to stop me from running? Or was this some sick way of convincing me to accept my fate that the High court had ordered? Either way I didn't want to stick around to find out just how far they were willing to go. The only way out of this fiery prison was up. Crap. The second I opened my wings all the angels would know my exact location and I would end up back in the confines of my bedroom. "Are you really going to make it this easy?" the voice was high and sharp and surprisingly unfamiliar. What was she talking about? Making things easy? This fire couldn't hurt me, I had no body for it to incinerate. To prove my point I stuck my hand into the fire next to me only to draw it back just as quickly. Blisters formed on my hand as I cradled it against my chest. I had no choice but to rip my wings free and fly to meet the cause behind the chaos. My back ached as I raced into the night sky to find her. "Don't be a coward!" the words escaped my lips involuntarily.

"You can't fight me, girl, your soul is weak enough to snap with a finger" I whipped around to meet the shadowy silhouette behind the voice.

"What do you want from me?" the words felt cold and harsh on my lips.

"What I want," her voice cut through the air as she spat them at me, "is for you to go back to your little hollow and tell that wretched Raphael and his whore of a sister, Knysna, to keep their filthy noses out of my business." It was her. The dark angel. The whole reason I had left the house in the first place.

"Yeah, well we're not giving up so easily! We will find you, and we will stop you."

"Watch your mouth you foolish child. I'll see how determined you are once I have Eleanor begging me for her life."

"You leave her out of this." I spat the words at her swiping a curse across her darkened face as I did. She forced a cackle from her throat and grabbed me by the shoulders. I was humiliated as she shoved me, ever so effortlessly, to the ground.

"I toldyou to watch your mouth child" she stood over me now, one hand tensing as she raised it from her side. Her fist was centimetres from my face and I watched her fingers uncurl slowly. Then, without reason or warning, she shot back. Her eyes darted back and forth from me to the forest behind me before she disappeared leaving only her putrid stench and a black, oil like sliver in the air. I turned to see the face of a young child. The girl was not even five-years-old. How did she scare off something so powerful? Then it clicked. She was human; her eyes glistened with ignorance and wonder. It was the same curiosity that lit Eleanor's eyes every day before I robbed her of her purity and burdened her with my own self-hate. I then realised why it was so important for the destroyer of this dark angel to have an earthly connection; the power of a soul was too weak, but there was something about the human soul that scared her. I had no idea what but all I knew was if I wanted to conquer this angel, I needed Eleanor. But that had to wait. I knelt in front of the girl and mustered up the warmest smile I could find. "Hi sweetheart," I began, "Are you lost?" the girl looked at me curiously for a moment before she replied. "No." Her voice was soft and sweet like silken honey, "I'm on an adventure" she pressed her tiny index finger to her plush red lips and let a shrill giggle out.

"Oh, of course you are. How silly of me. Who are we hiding from?"

"The pixies." She replied matter-of-factly and glanced over her shoulder as if they had been following her. "But I think they're gone now, they don't like fairies."

"And where are the fairies?" she replied with a squeal of laughter almost knocking her off her feet. Tugging at her yellow sundress she pointed at me and smiled. I placed my index finger on my lips in reply and signalled her over to a flattened rock I saw near-by. She gladly followed me, playing with the ends of a lock of auburn hair, and sat down cross-legged next to me. "So," I began again, "do your mummy and daddy know about your adventure?"

"Daddy does, but mummy always tells me it's silly. She says fairies aren't real, especially when I tell her daddy's a fairy too." My heart ached in response to what I had just heard. I swallowed hard and forced my tears to the back of my eyes before I responded in a shaky voice, "What does your daddy say?"

"He says we must keep it a secret. He got mad when I told mummy 'cause she can't see him."

"Why's that?"

"Because," she said with an exasperated sigh "Only little girls and boys and sad people can see fairies. You are a bad fairy if you didn't know that!"

I suppressed a laugh, "I'm new. I didn't know it was the same for all fairies." We spoke for a few minutes longer before I convinced her to let me take her home. She made me drink some invisible potion she created out of imaginary ingredients so her mother wouldn't see me. Walking up to the house I was a nervous wreck. I studied the face of every person we passed for any signs that they could see me but luckily no one seemed to pay much attention to me. One or two people walked up to the little girl and asked if she was lost, but none payed any attention to me. The mother seemed grateful to have her daughter home safe, but it was evident that she had grown used to her daughter's "adventures" and had no emotional or physical energy to stop her. I thought it was probably good for the child, but worried about what would happen when her father stopped appearing to her. I saw him standing there, in the house, with his arm around his wife and a saddened smile plastered across his face. He glanced up at me and smiled thankfully, waving for just a second before his wife closed the door.

As I walked to Eleanor's house I wondered about that angel. How he had died and why he was still here. No doubt he would move on once his daughter lost interest or ability in their meetings, that's what most the angels in similar situations did. Raphael said there were an odd few who never left, and who greeted their families' souls the second they left their bodies. But something about this man told me he would want them to move on from him and begin a new life without his haunting presence.

"Azealia!" Eleanor's voice called from behind me as I walked up the front steps of her house. "Oh my gosh, Zea, you have no idea how much trouble you're in." She said with a giggle. "Don't worry I didn't say anything, not even to Jase." I couldn't help but laugh. I grabbed her by the hand and pulled her back into the forest, so we could talk comfortably.

"When did they find out I was gone?"

"A lot later than Jase did. I'm surprised he hasn't found you yet. He walked into your room just after nine to "talk" to you," She winked and nudged my arm with her elbow, "and two minutes later I saw him fly off into the forest after you. Your guards didn't realise 'till about eleven because Jase left on foot and flew as soon as he got through the barrier." She went on about exactly when and where everyone had realised I was gone and chased after me. Conveniently someone had stolen the flight detector device Knysna made for me so I could see which of them was closest, so all the angels were on foot. Which I knew most of them were hopeless at. The other early angels, or the disconnected as Raphael called them, went off on their own to find ways to help me. I was happy they hadn't helped The High Court or they would've definitely found me out by now. Eleanor and I spoke for an hour longer before she grabbed me by the forearm and dragged me all way to her bedroom window. She pulled the window open and hauled herself in through it, then pulled me in, almost falling off her feet, "I forgot how light you were, wait, how do you even weigh anything?"

"It's all got to do with arriving too early or something. Basically I'm an invisible human with wings." We both laughed and I sat down on Eleanor's bed. Her room was homey and the overflowing bookshelf by the door was a comforting sight. I had spent many hours in here with her talking about things that didn't matter. I remember lying curled against her chest the night Jase died. She never said a word. She never bothered consoling me with words because she knew that would only make things worse. She never told me to stop crying. In fact, I never told her until the next morning what had happened. And here I was again after I had died, dragging her into something she should've never even known about. She should be out with that guy she liked or lying here absorbed in a book like I always found her. Instead I had let my selfishness overcome me and dragged her into this mess. "So," she began, a smile plastered across her face as she walked over to the laptop open on her desk, "I've been doing some research on enchantments and angels and some other things and a lot of websites say that your enchantments leave a trial and wearing non-angelic clothes – whatever that means – can make that harder to detect. A lot of the websites also say you should be glowing and have huge white wings so... yep, not sure how legit things are."

"It's worth a shot."

"Great, see if you fit into any of my stuff." Eleanor and I weren't the same size, she wasn't fat at all but I did have an eating disorder, so I was unusually thin. It wasn't attractive, nearly every bone was visible in some way or another and my hair fell out all the time, not to mention my almost hollow cheeks and awful skin. But I had filled out a little since becoming an angel so everything was a little less obvious now. I opened her wardrobe and run my fingers through her clothes my hand stopped at a black, chiffon cocktail dress with an empire waistline. I blinked the tears back and turned to face Eleanor who was looking at the ground sheepishly. "I didn't think you'd keep this" I said weakly

"It's my favourite," she replied almost inaudibly, "you were so happy that night. I wanted to remember you like that. Not the lifeless corpse they presented us all with at the wake." She looked up and saw me leaning against the wall sobbing. "Azealia. I'm so sorry. That was unfair."

"No... Eleanor... this... this is all... my fault" I replied between sobs "I'm sorry" she sat in front of me now with her hands in her lap.

"Shut up. You're making me cry." I let a laugh escape my lips but snatched it back just as quickly. I didn't deserve this; she was so selfless. This wasn't fair. "Here," she continued, "have this, I was going to bury with you but, well you know." She handed me a tattered notebook. "It's my diary." She explained, "The one I started writing just after you told me everything that you were going through." I paged through the book carefully and read a few extracts. All the entries were addressed to me. "Read this one." she said turning the page a few times. I read the entry and felt my chest tighten. "I'm sorry," I began "When I told you, I was so selfish, I didn't think it would hurt you this much"

"If you were patient enough to read the whole thing," she replied trying to ease the tension, "You'd see that I was confused and hurt in the beginning but now..." Her thoughts trailed off for a few moments and she stared at the ground where I had carelessly placed my dress. "Azealia, the day I realised you were dead was the worst day of my life. You're like my sister and then you weren't there anymore. I remember that night lying on my bed sobbing for so long that my stomach ached and my throat was raw. And the only thing I could think of doing to cheer myself was call you because above everything else I missed hearing your voice on the phone, panic stricken or not, I missed it. When I started writing in my diary again, as difficult as it was, it was like you were here again. I was so furious at you. I put my heart and soul into trying to help you get better, and I swear to God you were!" She stopped then and wiped tears from her eyes before taking a deep breath and starting again, her voice gentle and quiet at this point. "The day before Jase died, you were here, on this bed, in this room, and I knew you were better. And then... well we both know what happened after that and-"

"El," I cut her off, positioning myself next to her and letting her fall into the crevice of my neck, "None of this was your fault. None of it. I was getting better, I thought for sure it was all over." We both cried for a few minutes longer before I found myself a pair of jeans that fit almost perfectly and a baggy t-shirt. I wasn't too worried about not having an open back because I wasn't planning on flying anywhere, and when I eventually had to I'd make-do with what I had. Eleanor packed a few things in a backpack, she was a scout so fitting everything in wasn't hard and nor was knowing exactly what we'd need. Of course when I told her about the water she had known all along that the water in the centre of the forest was all bad and I knew then, for certain, I had somehow enchanted the water to get it clean. This was not good news. Knysna would've been looking out for any enchantments and if she was looking in the right place at the right time she would've seen it and they'd be on my tail again. I spoke to Eleanor about my concern as we walked back into the forest. "She could've seen it El. She would've been looking for it."

"We don't know that Zea, she could've just as easily missed it."

"What about the rest of her entourage?"

"The High Court are too arrogant to even consider the fact that a member of the disconnected could use enchantments and Raphael is..." she trailed off, pushing an idea from her head.

"Is what?"

"Nothing, I guess he could've seen it." She knew me better than that.

"I'm not letting this go so you might as well tell me now, save me the trouble of arguing."

"You're so stubborn Azealia." I replied with a grin, cocking my head to one side and squeezing my eyes shut as I did.

"I know, so what about Raphael?"

"I think he would've ignored it."

"There's no way in hell-"

"He likes you Azealia," she cut me off "I mean, I'm not sure how but he does. Hopefully like a daughter because he's ancient and that would be weird." I laughed and decided to leave the conversation there.

We had reached forest a few hours ago and both of us were getting hungry. Eleanor found us a spot to sit near a small stream she managed to find and opened up her backpack. We snacked on a few snacks she had packed before filling our water supply and moving on through the forest. It was comforting having Eleanor there with me and the hike felt almost like a holiday. We'd always spoken about going camping together and I beat myself up about the fact that I had to die before we actually did. A light shower had the two of us spraying each other with mud and shoving one another into puddles. That night we lit a bon fire I could've used an enchantment to hide the flames but an enchantment trail was easier for the angels to pick up than the smoke, if Eleanor was right, Raphael would brush our fire off as hikers. Eleanor excavated a bag of marshmallows out of her backpack and handed me a few. We stayed up until we saw the sun peeling slowly off the horizon then found a tree to sleep in. A few uneventful days went by with the same scenery and the same food at the same time every day. Most people would've found the routine tedious but with Eleanor around the days flew past and I savoured every second of her company. After about three days we came across a small body of water, it looked like it could've been a lake once but it was quite a bit smaller than what it had been, the corroded soil and rocks went back at least another few hundred metres. The air was hot and hung heavily around us so we decided to take a quick dip in the water. Before we knew it we were huddled up in front of another fire. "Azealia?" Eleanor's voice trembled as she spoke; I assumed it was from the suddenly icy change in weather. "yeah?" I replied

"How long will you stay like this?"

"Like what?"

"How long will I be able to see you?"

"As long as I'm here."

"I don't think I'll be able to deal with losing you a second time."

"I'm not going anywhere. I'll be here as long as you need me."

"She'll always need you." The baritone voice came from behind us and pulled both of us to our feet. "Whoa-ho," the voice laughed, "Okay, sorry I startled you I should've knocked or something." He tapped his knuckles on the tree he stood beside. Eleanor's high-pitched giggle confirmed that the muscle mass in front of us was Blaine. I called him over and he sat himself down next to Eleanor, I saw her face go red before she attempted to hide it with her hair. The two of them barely exchanged greetings when I cut in, "I don't mean to be rude but, what are you doing here? And where are the others?"

"I broke off from them a few days ago, I said I was going back to the house in case you went there, but really I had a kind of gut feel about where you were. So here I am."


"I think I know someone who can help you. Magdalene Merrows. She's an old family friend my mum used to talk about all the time. The family thought she was a nutter for spending her whole life studying angels and myths and stuff, but I was kinda interested in it I guess. She once told me she had a vision about a little girl lost in the woods or something and she said that she went out the next morning and found her. I didn't believe a word she said then, but with all the crazy shit-" he looked at Eleanor in embarrassment, for swearing I think, then continued, "- all this crazy stuff that's been happening, I don't think it's too much of a long shot." I thought about what he had said for a few minutes, my mind rolled over every sentence, every word, every letter, logically placing it back into my head before I made my decision. "Look, I think we're going to need all the help we need at this point, and quite frankly at this point, I'm starting to think the most insane ideas might be our best shot at stopping this angel. She's very powerful and-"

"She?" the two of them exclaimed in sync.

"Yeah, this dark angel is female," I went on to tell them about my little encounter with her and they questioned my about numerous things for a few hours longer before I decided I should leave the two of them alone to catch up and told them I wasn't feeling very well. They believed me considering Eleanor knew I always felt sick when I spoke about things that frightened or stressed me and this angel did both. I fell asleep within minutes to the harmonic sound of my best friends bubbly laughter floating up into the air.