The following week saw Vincent and Sara settling into the condominium that Gideon provided for them in Bergstad, as well as Vivian and Sebastian departing from Allender Manor with the hopeful gleam of a new life in their eyes and more than a little help from the Allenders in their pockets. The week was a peaceful one, with no unusual disturbances, and the following Saturday found Corbin and Lydia walking back from the family mausoleum on a warm spring day.
Corbin draped an arm around his little sister to pull her close as they made their way along a wooded trail that wound from the outer reaches of the manor's rear grounds, through the adjoining acreage of dense forest that surrounded the revered stone building which safeguarded the tombs of their parents. It was a trip they took together on occasion, when the mood and weather agreed as one. They were about half way back to the manor, chatting freely between themselves as they strolled casually near a blind bend in the trail.
As they rounded the bend the unexpected presence of a towering, winged figure standing in the trail's center caught them both by surprise. Lydia gasped as Corbin shoved her behind him just before the beastly form of the Protector within ripped through his clothes as a reflex to the would-be threat blocking their path. The figure, whose glistening armor and large wings behind his back forced thoughts of Jarell, had a more angular face and shorter hair than the being Corbin hated with a burning passion.
Still, he shielded Lydia as he snarled an aggressive warning to the angel while his claws hovered restlessly by his sides. The angel stood calmly with the posture of a soldier, hugging a helmet with one arm that resembled that of a Roman centurion while his other arm rested peacefully at his side. Corbin kept a slightly hunkered stance, breathing heavily while eyeing the angel sharply, ready to pounce at the first hint of danger.
The tall angel held out his free hand to caution Corbin. "Careful human, unlike Jarell I still retain all my heavenly powers. Besides, I did not come here to fight."
"Then why are you here?" Lydia asked as she stepped bravely out from behind Corbin, who protectively set her boundaries by extending a clawed hand out in front of her.
The angel lowered his hand as he acknowledged Lydia with a subtle smile. "I have come to bring you a gift which shall aid you against Jarell," he explained.
Lydia, with a curious expression, looked up at her beastly brother to gauge his reaction, but his purple eyes were locked in a distrustful gaze at the angel.
"Those among the heavenly ranks are aware of your struggle with Jarell," the angel revealed.
Looking back at the angel, Lydia offered an emboldened response to his statement. "Then why don't you do something? Why don't you stop him?"
"That is not our way little one. We have stripped him of his rank and cast him out from among us. That is all we are permitted to do," he answered.
Corbin growled his disapproval and Lydia folded her arms with a huff at the angel's professed restrictions. They were not at all pleased with his seeming lack of action against their tormentor.
"But I can give you this..." the angel said as he once again held out his free hand. A surge of blinding light swelled around his hand then quickly flashed away, causing both Corbin and Lydia to momentarily shield their eyes before looking back to see a brilliant sword in his hand. The sword was similar to Jarell's, but even more polished, more luminous with a golden glow and a hilt made from some kind of bone.
"This is the Sword of Ancients. It is the only weapon which can slay an angel," the angel boasted as he admired the lethal blade wielded by his hand. "If you can pierce Jarell's heart with this blade, you will be rid of him forever," he ensured confidently.
The angel turned the sword downward, then let it fall so that its point stabbed deeply into the ground before stopping and leaving the sword standing on its own. He put his helmet on and turned as if to leave.
"Wait!" Lydia urged as she ran out from beside Corbin, stopping before she reached the sword.
Corbin rushed up behind her, but only to keep her safely within reach. The angel twisted back around just enough to look past his wing at Lydia.
"What is your name?" she asked, almost pleading.
The angel grinned harmlessly at her. "Does it matter child?"
"It matters," she insisted.
The angel smirked at her persistance, then just before he vanished from before them he uttered,"Xander."
Lydia walked over to the sword, which even with its tip stuck in the ground was still as tall as her. She reached up above her head and took the handle with both hands, then strained with a soft grunt as she tried hopelessly to pull the sword up. Corbin stomped up behind her and she stepped out of the way, yielding to his attempt at removing the sword. He reached down with a single claw and effortlessly pulled the sword from the ground, carefully swinging it up to a ready position in his huge hand as he examined the blade. Lydia watched in awe.
They rushed back to the manor with the sword, and after Corbin laid it carefully down on the livingroom floor for everyone to examine for themselves, he slipped away to revert back to his normal form. Lydia captivated Gale, Ethan, and Shade with vivid details about the encounter with Xander, and when she was done Shade walked along side the flawless sword as she eyed it with a keen appreciation. Any weapon which boasted the ability to vanquish her family's greatest foe had her approval already, but one as stunning as the shimmering blade before her had her admiration for such perfect craftsmanship too.
Corbin strolled into the livingroom, adjusting a newly adorned shirt as he went over to Shade's side and joined her in gazing down at Xander's gift. He glanced up at the fascinated faces of Gale and Ethan, then over to Lydia who was examining the bone-carved hilt of the sword with a tracing stare. The people around him were what he considered more precious than anything else, which is why when he looked at the sword, he relished the thought of using it. With a certain satisfied resolve showing in his purple eyes, he thought to himself: Jarell, your days of tormenting my family are over, and now your breaths are numbered.