So for those of you that have read Divinity and/or Damnation, first off, THANK YOU and I hope you enjoyed it! Well… you may be interested to know that there is a third novel that’s been on the back burner for a very long time. I’ve been going back and forth on putting it through editing and publishing, but never really came to a final conclusion.
This book is one I don’t think I’ll ever publish. I just don’t think there’s enough of a market for it, so instead, I’m posting it here for all of you to enjoy!
Keep in mind, this is a very rough draft. So what you’re seeing isn’t a complete and final product like my other novels!
Thanks friends appreciate your feedback, critiques, and criticisms!
A Novel by James Harrington
Printed and Bound in the USA
Copyright © 2015 by James Harrington
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual living persons is purely coincidental.
A note from the author:
Hello and welcome! I hope that you will enjoy your journey our characters as they embark on their adventure. Before you begin, I just wanted to clarify a few things.
You encounter many characters, both fictional and historical. The fictional characters are just that; fictional. Any resemblance they bear to real people is purely coincidental.
As for the historical figures that appear in the pages ahead, I have done the best I can to portray the historical characters as accurately as possible, based on the information availavle on each. However, please understand that I am exposing them to fictional situations. It is impossible to predict definitively how one might have actually reacted in these events, so again, this is based on what information is available.
Lastly, I would just like to note that this story in no way should be taken as a criticism of the beliefs of any denomination of Christianity. As a catholic, I acknowledge that the leaders of several denominations weren’t always the most upstanding of people and that is what is reflected in my writing, but that does not invalidate anyone’s belief in God or the teachings they follow.
I hope that you will enjoy this work of fiction for what it is; a work of fiction. Thank you and God bless!
Black clouds choked out all light from the sun as a dark, ominous, day turned into a black and violent night. As the remaining light vanished from the skies of Venice, the water became extremely choppy and rain hammered down on any poor fool still outside at that late hour. Boats tugged at their moorings as the wind beat down on them. It was as though the world had transformed into something malicious.
The small fishing village was no stranger to rough weather, but this night was different. The wind coming in off of the water bore ill tidings from afar. Even people possessing little to no awareness could feel the evil around them. Many instinctively closed the shutters on their windows as though the town were about to fall under attack.
Federico watched from the safety of his house near the harbor, as the waves picked up. The water poured over his private dock, and he wondered how long his boat would last. It was his livelihood and had been in the family for generations.
At the moment, however, this was the least of Federico’s worries. He knew what was approaching, and what this meant for his family. As he peered out the window, his vision was obscured by the amount of rain water pouring down the glass. It was as though he was standing behind a small waterfall trying to peer through, but he still had enough clarity to see the black carriage with lanterns on either side break through the night.
Two mighty brown horses pulled the old carriage right to the door of the house. Federico breathed a sigh of relief as the carriage stopped just outside of his door. The waterlogged driver jumped out of his seat and pulled the carriage door opened, allowing three people in black robes to step out.
The fire in the stove fought to stay alive as the door opened and a gust heavy wind penetrated the room. It was as though opening the door had allowed something evil into the house. The three cloaked figures entered the room and, once sheltered from the rain, removed the drenched cloaks that they had been wearing.
Federico fought against the heavy wind to get the door closed. Once it finally connected to the lock, he breathed a sigh of relief before turning to his guests. As the cloaks came off, they revealed two young priests and a nun. The priests wore red and black robes and each had swords sheathed on their belts.
“Welcome to my home,” Federico said with a relieved look, “I appreciate your quick response to my letter. I take it that you know what is going on?”
The nun turned to Federico and nodded. Her face had deep creases, indicative of someone who had lived a hard life. Her face was twisted into a scowl as she spoke, “We came as soon as we heard. I am Sister Mary, where is she?”
There was a sudden flash of light and a winged woman appeared behind them. Federico brushed back his light brown hair and nodded, “Lailah will take you to her.”
Sister Mary bowed, “Blessed Angel, we are here to carry out the Lord’s bidding as you commanded.”
Lailah returned the gesture with a smile, “Please follow me, Sister. It won’t be long now.”
The two women disappeared into the next room and closed the door behind them. Federico shook his head as he turned to the priests, “I had prayed that this night would never come. I was told about the prophecy from childhood, but had hoped it would pass my generation by.”
The older priest placed his hand on Federico’s shoulder, “No one who faces these dark times would choose to bring it on themselves or the ones they love, my son.”
“But how could God let this happen?” Federico asked. “If he knew… it was possible.”
The priest shook his head, “I somehow don’t think that even he foresaw this during certain events in your family’s history.”
Federico lowered his eyes and spoke in a defeated tone, “Padre… just promise me that she will be safe. Don’t let this all be for nothing.”
“On my life,” the priest replied as he touched his sword, “she will be safe and she will live comfortable life. That is our mandate and it will be carried out as long as we draw breath.”
Federico was satasfied with the priest’s promise. It appeared that everything was going according to how it had been spelled out in the prophecy. It was little comfort to him though as he could feel danger approaching.
“Padre…” Federico finally said softly with tears in his eyes, “Would you be so kind as to give me my last rights?”
The priest’s eye’s narrowed, “Of course my son, but why?”
“Please Padre,” Federico insisted, “I have a very bad feeling that our time is growing short.”
The priest didn’t understand what Federico meant, but he had not been given all the details of what was about to transpire. Sister Mary was in charge in this case, by official order of the bishop. His job was simply to see to her saftey. Having no other choice, he finally agreed, “Very well, my son.”
In the next room over, Sister Mary, led by the angel Lailah, encountered a woman lying in a small bed. She was covered in sweat and breathing rapidly. Her dark brown hair was matted to her head and she was clearly in pain. Sister Mary spoke in an emotionless voice as lighting struck outside, “It has begun.”
The woman’s stomach was bulging as Sister Mary took a seat at the edge of the bed. The old nun adjusted her robes to prevent them from being soiled and spoke in an emotionless voice, “Cecca, I’m Sister Mary. I am here to help. It is almost time, are you ready to start pushing?”
Cecca struggled to brush her matted hair back from her face and nodded. She was in so much pain that she could not move anything else. Lailah folded her wings, tied back her curly, light brown, hair and knelt down near Cecca’s head to wipe the sweat from her brow, “You can rest easy. I will be here with you to the end.”
“Bless you, angel.” Cecca forced out between breaths. “Bless you.”
Sister Mary took hold of Cecca’s legs and bent them up at the knee. She watched and waited patiently for a few minutes. Cecca’s breathing was becoming eratic as her whole body shifted.
Finally, when Sister Mary decided that the time was right, she looked up at Cecca, “It is time, pray to Almighty God and push.”
Cecca closed her eyes and screamed as she pushed with her entire body. Sister Mary nodded as the woman’s arms and legs quivered, “Good, good, again.”
Federico listened desperately as his wife struggled in the other room. He wanted to be there with her, but the elderly nun would not have allowed it. This was one time that he needed to remain out of the way. An hour went by as the young man listened helplessly as his wife’s agonizing screams shot through the house. Her voice suddenly fell silent and a new one appeared.
The scream of a newborn child shattered the dark aura in the room. Federico’s faced lightened up as he turned away from the door and back to the priest, “Do you hear that? Do you, it’s clear as day!”
Both priests nodded as the older one smiled, “Congratulations my son. The baby sounds healthy.”
A short time later, Sister Mary came to the door, pale white, with a look of fear in her eyes. She stood for a moment looking at Federico, and then over to her escorts, “Our worst fears have become reality.”
The two priests stepped past Federico and into the room where Lailah was holding the child. Lailah looked at them both solemnly and nodded, “As the Most High feared, the prophecy has come true, look.”
She held the child out to them and uncovered its face. Miraculously, the newborn’s eyes were wide open. Her pupils looked almost identical to those of Lailah. She giggled as she looked up at the priests.
Cecca sighed as her eyes began to close, “Little Aralyn…”
The younger priest’s lips twisted, “I still don’t understand, blessed angel, would you not be better suited to keep her safe?”
Lailah shook her head, “That is outside of my mandate. I have already done more than I am supposed to. Priests travelling hallowed grounds will have a better chance of keeping her hidden and safe from the dark one’s eyes than a lone angel flying around. The dark ones will not be able to trace you like they can me.”
The priest sighed as Lailah handed the mystical child to them, “Very well.”
At that moment, one of the windows crashed open, shattering the glass. The wind ripped through the room like an invisible wildfire. The thunder became even louder as Federico struggled to put a plank of wood over the opening.
Sister Mary turned quickly to the preists, “The storm is getting worse, we must go now or we will be trapped here!”
At that moment, Cecca came to life on the bed, “Wait, please, just a few minutes… won’t you please let me hold her?”
Sister Mary looked at the child stoically and shook her head, “I’m sorry, there is no time.”
“Please, no, you can’t take her, please!” Cecca pleaded with the old nun as she tried to get up. “My baby!”
Federico heard Cecca’s frantic cries and ran into the room to confort her, “I’m so sorry my love…”
Cecca buried her head in Francesco’s arms, “No… It’s not fair… why us?”
Federico looked up at Sister Mary, “Is there no way?”
For the first time in years, a look of sympathy came over Sister Mary’s features as she shook her head, “If there were, I would allow it. As it stands, there is not. We must leave if there is to be any chance.”
Federico sighed and closed his eyes, “Then go, now! Leave this place… keep her safe…”
The priests obediently turned and began to leave. The older priest looked back sympathetically, “Peace be with you, my children. For what it’s worth… I am sorry.”
Federico, remembering a promise he had made to Cecca, suddenly shot to his feet, “Wait, Padre!”
“My son, we have no time!” The old priest responded sternly.
“I know,” Federico replied apologetically, “but I have something for you.”
He quickly went to the closet and came back with a staff-like object draped in a red cloth. The priest saw that the cloth was protecting two very old swords. He looked at them oddly for a moment and then back at Federico, “My son?”
“Please take them.” Federico insisted. “They belonged to my great grandparents. Make sure she receives them when she is old enough… “
“You want us to give your daughter weapons?” The priest asked in disbelief.
“I understand that it may not make much sense to you Padre,” Federico replied, “but these swords have protected my family for generations. Please take them.”
The priest eyed him oddly for a moment. Federico’s expression became despirate under the priests eyes, “Consider it the last wish of a dying man.”
The priest sighed and took the swords before turning back to his party, “Oh very well.”
Once they were ready, the group bid farewell to Federico and left him to tend to his emotionally shattered wife. The group exited the house and boarded their carriage with the child in their care. They knew that they had to move quickly in order to get her to saftey.
Lailah followed behind them, “Keep that child safe, at all costs.”
The elder priest turned back to her, “Blessed Angel, what will happen to them now?”
Lailah turned back and looked at the house. She brushed her long brown hair from her eyes and let out a defeated sigh, “I did the best I could to shield the family from the evil that is hunting them… but it proved to be too much for me. They aren’t safe anywhere now.”
She turned back to the priest with a reassuring look on her face, “Don’t worry Padre, my sister has seen to it that her kin will be taken care of. You need to focus on your own part.”
“What hope do we have against such power?” The younger priest demanded.
“Leave that to me.” Lailah replied. “Just go while you still can.”
The driver took his seat without another word and snapped the rains. The horses whinnied as they charged forward. The priest looked back as the carriage sped away, “Peace be with you, blessed Angel.”
Lailah closed her eyes for a moment and muttered a prayer under her breath. At that moment, a white aura appeared around the carriage and then vanished. She nodded, confident that they were now safe from harm.
A moment later, Federico came to the door with a look of sorrow on his face as the carriage disappeared from view. Lailah turned to him, “They will be safe now.”
When Federico’s expression didn’t change, she became worried, “Federico, what is it?”
“My wife…” Federico replied. “The stress of the pregnancy was too much for her.”
Lailah closed her eyes for a few moments. When she reopened them, a sharp pain entered her heart as tears fell down her cheeks, “Federico, I am so sorry…”
Federico’s jaw tightened up as he stepped away from the house and stood beside Lailah, “Tell me that this has all been worth it. Tell me that she’ll survive.”
Lailah nodded, “Your daughter has a long struggle ahead of her, she will not know who she is and may never know her family, but she will survive to adulthood.”
“What about after that?” Federico demanded.
Lailah closed her eyes for a moment and shook her head, “I don’t know. Her future is clouded even from my eyes.”
Suddenly, out in the distance, an unearthly moan emanated over the waves. Lailah began breathing heavily, “They are coming…”
Federico ran back inside his house, grabbed his sword from behind the door, and rejoined Lailah out front, “I’ll kill him myself.”
Lailah smiled, “You have your ancestor’s heart, but that won’t protect you this time. You are no match for this creature. I would suggest you go back inside.”
“I don’t think so.” Federico replied adamantly. “You have watched over me and my family as we waited for this day. There is no escaping now and I’ll never see the two people I love the most again. I have nothing left and you are the closest thing I still have to family. My soul is prepared Lailah. You’re not facing him alone.”
Lailah nodded, “Very well…”
The two looked at each other hopelessly as a deep moan emanated from the black water. Lailah went pale and took a step forward, “He approaches.”
There was another flash of light from the sky as a formless black entity appeared in front of them. It was little more than a cloud that quickly took the shape of a human, but had no features at all. It was little more than a silhouette in the darkness.
Two bright yellow eyes appeared on its head. It stepped forward and spoke in a dark, inhuman, voice, “So many years since we’ve been able to walk the lands of this world… Where is she?”
Lailah stared into the creature’s malice-filled yellow eyes, “Safe.”
The creature’s eyes began burning bright as they took a menacing shape, “We are giving you one chance to give us what we want. Do this, and we’ll let you live… for now.”
Lailah shook her head, “The Most High won’t negotiate with the likes of you.”
“The Most High is a part of us!” The creature shot back.
“Why resist us?” It asked. “We only wish to take back what is rightfully ours from that deceptor, Lucifer.”
“Because Lucifer isn’t a threat to us,” Lailah replied, “you are.”
The yellow eyes narrowed, “If you won’t help us willingly, then we will rip the answer from your corpse!”
“Never!” Federico shouted as he stepped forward. “You will die first!”
Before he could say anything else, a sharp object burst through Federico’s chest and he was elevated off of the ground. A small imp appeared behind Federico as his body fell limp. Lailah was unable to react in time, “No!”
The entity cackled, “We think not. We did not wait eons to be stopped by a child race.”
The imp pulled the blade from Federico’s back as he fell to the ground. Blood mixed with the puddles of water that had pooled on the beach. Federico lay on his side as his eyes began to flutter. He looked up at the sky and reached out with all his strength, “Cecca…”
Within moments, Federico’s body went limp and his eyes closed. Lailah spoke through a clenched jaw, “Federico was an innocent! He never hurt anyone and he was of no threat to you! If you want to retake the underworld, then by all means do so, but leave these people out of…”
Lailah stopped mid-sentence and found herself unable to draw breath. She grabbed her neck as the entity raised a clenched fist from its side. Lailah’s body began to levitate off the ground as though she were being hanged.
The entity moved even closer until Lailah could feel its hot breath on her face. Its eyes suddenly went from yellow to red, “We do not take orders from you! Be gone, pathetic insect!”
The creature flicked its wrist and released its grip on Lailah. In response to its hand motion, the helpless angel shot backwards through a window. The glass shattered all around her, ripping into her skin as she landed in Federico’s kitchen. The entity began laughing hysterically as it waved its arm.
At that moment, the entire house burst into flame as though obeying his command. The flames filled the dark sky and lit up the town like it was daylight. The heat inside was so intense that any human would have been horribly burned had they been too close.
Inside, Lailah tried to protect herself from the inferno by covering herself with her wings. When the flame hit her, it incinerated her feathers. She screamed out in pain as the skin of her wings seared and began to blister.
There was nothing Lailah could do now. Knowing that she was near death, she closed her eyes and began to pray, “Oh Lord Most High, let this fate pass me by. Take me into thy loving hands. Spare your loyal servant this pain…”
Lailah received no answer as the skin of her wings began to turn black. She clenched her eyes shut and tried to fight the pain, but she was losing control of her mind as the agony took over. Looking at her wings, she knew she wouldn’t be able to fly again, if she survived.
Outside, the entity raised its hand again and squeezed its fist. Lailah was elevated by her neck once more and tossed through another window. Her clothing was scorched and all but burned away, her skin was badly scarred, and her wings were completely crippled. She landed on the beach away from the burning house.
Steam poured off her skin and the agony was destroying her mental stability. She trembled as her memories and reason gave way to madness. She rolled on her back as the remains of her clothing disintegrated.
The entity slowly made its way down to her to avoid being seen by the crowd of people coming out to fight the flame. Lailah saw it coming and didn’t even bother to try to cover herself. Her mind was almost gone and she barely even knew who she was.
The creature looked down at her, “You are now powerless and no one is coming to save you. There is no escape, tell us what we want to know and we’ll grant you a quick death!”
Lailah breathed in as deeply as she could, but refused to speak. Even in her state, she was not about to give the creature any satasfaction. The entity saw this and nodded, “We understand… despite the fate which lies ahead of you, you still protect such pitiful creatures. We admit that we did not think his servants had such iron.”
From her hands and knees, Lailah looked up at the entity with a defiant yet fearful look in her eyes. Her mind was scrambled and she had a hard time just putting words together, “Wh… what you go… do with me?”
The entity laughed at her broken speech, “Nothing I can do to you would compare to the horror that awaits you at the hands of these creatures… or your own mind. We are going to leave you here for them to find. What happens to you will be up to them.”
Lailah gasped as the entity turned away from her. She closed her eyes and rested her head on the cold sand as her sight left her. The rain and the damp ground were her only comfort as she waited for death. The imp that had accompanied the entity landed nearby, “I live to serve you my lord!”
The entity clenched its fist, barely paying attention to the small creature, “Where did they take the child?”
“I don’t know my lord.” The Imp responded nervously. “The humans appear to have been protected from our site, we couldn’t track them.”
The entity clenched its fists as it turned away, “It would appear that even in her weakened state, the angel’s powers were more than enough to help them evade you… you’ve failed us yet again… We want you and your minions to begin searching everywhere! Search for a lifetime if you have to, but we want that child found! Fail, and it will be your last!”
The imp bowed, “My life is to server you, Legion.”
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