Chapter One

Arrival

Winter's harsh grip on the northern metropolis of Bergstad and its surrounding regions was finally starting to loosen. The promise of spring was near, evidenced by days that slowly grew longer, as well as warmer. Somewhere far removed from the endless buzz of modern life a modest little farmhouse nestled all alone near the edge of acres upon acres of barren fields resided quietly under a calm night sky dotted with stars that was presided over by a crescent moon.

A large barn behind the house leaned slightly to one side, tired from decades of resisting the elements as well as housing tractors and other implements needed for bringing forth crops from the soil. Those machines and tools remained still in the night, as they had for months now, awaiting the coming end of their winter hibernation when they would once again become invaluable resources to the weathered old farmer who lived in the house.

Most nights around the farmhouse were uneventful, routine occasions for the farmer, who was dozing on a worn recliner in front of a glaring flat screen television which seemed oddly out of place in a house with settings most would consider a collection of relics. A sudden, arcing light which lit up the windows from the outside broke the silence of the night with whip-like snaps and pops similar to electrical shorts.

The old farmer was roused from his from his sleep by the sounds, then the bright flashes of light dancing outside the windows made him jump up from the recliner in an excited, but confused state. He walked hastily over to the nearest window looking for the source of all the commotion only to be puzzled further at the sight of bolts of light sparking in all directions near his barn, buzzing and snapping as they shot forth like some kind of fireworks show.

He ran as fast as his aged legs could carry him to the front door where he grabbed a rifle that was propped up in a corner near the door. Slinging the door open he ran out to the barn with rifle in hand, slowing only when he neared the arcing madness near his barn. While keeping what he felt was a safe distance as he shielded his eyes from the blinding light with one hand, he tried to look into the center of the electrical chaos in order to find its source.

To the old farmer's amazement he saw what seemed to be a small rip in the very fabric of the night itself, hovering a few feet off the ground while the bursts of light escaped from inside it. As he blinked a few times to clear his eyes so that he could believe them, a pair of hands slipped through the narrow opening and began to push against it, to open it further.

The farmer backed away cautiously, clutching his rifle fearfully as he continued to shield his eyes from the intense arcs of light that swam around the growing tear. The hands which stretched the opening braced themselves against the jagged edges of the unbelievable tear, then a large figure began to worm his way out of the opening with straining grunts until his whole body finally squeezed through and fell forward to the ground below. The tear closed rapidly, sealing itself shut without any seam or proof that it was ever there. The blinding, noisy lights vanished with it, allowing the peace of the night to return.

The farmer gasped when the figure rose from the ground to tower above him. He continued his slow, backward retreat but stumbled to the ground when the shadowy silhouette of a pair of large eagle-like wings stretched out from the figure's back, then fell gracefully down out of sight. The farmer grasped blindly on the ground for his rifle which he'd lost during his fall, not daring to remove his eyes from the approaching figure; but he froze when the tall figure stopped at his feet.

Staring up past a body covered with a brilliant suit of armor that glimmered like diamonds under the light of the stars, the farmer was speechless as he studied the figure's flawlessly beautiful face and snow-white hair as the figure looked around the farm for a moment, attempting to discern his location. The astonished farmer held his breath when the figure stared down at him with an unwavering gaze.

"Where is this place?" the figure inquired with a steady, authoritative voice.

The farmer swallowed to get his breath, then stammered out,"...um...Co..Covington..."

The figure looked immediately to the east, staring hard in that direction for a moment before turning his attention back to the farmer. "So Bergstad is that way," he said, to his own satisfaction.

The old farmer simply nodded in agreement, then he summoned the courage to ask a question. "Who...who are you?"

A wide, toothy grin reached across the figure's face under his cunning eyes, making the farmer even more uneasy.

"I am Jarell, mightiest of Heaven's warriors and Lord over all flesh. You'll do well to remember that, human," he proudly boasted.

The farmer nodded fearfully.

"Now, do you have a phone here?" Jarell asked, looking around with disdain at the farms rural setting.

The farmer quickly dug around in his pocket until he found his outdated cell phone which he pulled out and offered up to a mildly surprised Jarell. After punching in a number, Jarell held the phone close to his ear and waited for the call to be answered. Upon reaching the person he called, he gave a short, direct message. "Your Master has returned. Gather the others and meet me at the cave."

With that Jarell tossed the phone back at the farmer, then he held a hand up high above the old man as he stared down at him with another wicked grin. The old man was mesmerized when a luminous glow formed around Jarell's hand, followed by the emergence of a long sword which Jarell clenched. Before the farmer could utter a fateful yell, the fallen angel brought the sword down with a fast slashing sweep that severed the old man's head.

As the farmer's head rolled away from his slumping body, Jarell drew the sword in close to his face, admiring the deadly edge of its glowing blade with a twisted gleam of delight in his eyes. With nothing more than a thought the sword vanished from Jarell's hand, then he crouched down as his wings began to spread out once again. He looked skyward just before thrusting himself up toward the stars where he flew off in the direction of Bergstad.