Irin Chronicles - 2
For my mother
A remarkable, powerful woman, and an inspiration to her family.
The Fallen appeared on the summit of Mt. Ararat. Golden eyes reached west, settling on some point unseen by the hawks circling overhead. The wind whipped past Jaron, brushing the black hair that fell to his shoulders. He wore his human form, content to cloak his true nature and enjoy the sharp pleasure of the sun on his skin. Ancient talesm covered his shoulders and chest, gold against bronze. He was a vision of glory, resting against the snow.
His brothers appeared beside him: Barak with his wolf-grey hair, gold eyes watching the birds overhead; Vasu, already pacing, his lean human form dark against the snow.
“You gave up your city, brother.” Vasu stared down as he spoke, seemingly mesmerized by the tracks his bare feet made in the snow. The angel chose to reside in warm climates, though none of their kind were truly bothered by either heat or cold. They commanded their senses at will.
“You imply defeat. I simply chose not to fight for it. It no longer interested me.”
Barak murmured, “And the rest of your territories? Are they secure?”
“Volund knows better than to challenge me. I allowed his child to overrun Istanbul because it served my purpose. No doubt, he was confused to find my people withdrawn.”
“Where are they?” Barak asked. “And do not underestimate Volund. I thought the same about him until he attacked. Now my children think me dead. They hide, afraid of their own shadows.” Barak’s lip curled. “I would cleanse the earth of their presence if doing so wouldn’t give away my continued existence.”
“I am watching,” Jaron said. He couldn’t take his eyes off the city. Something was churning there. Some pain reaching out. The sun fell in the west, slipping below the clouds to shine pink over Asia Minor. “I am always watching.”
“But for what?” Vasu asked. “I hope your visions sing true.”
“Have they ever not? I warned you of Galal’s attack, didn’t I?”
Gold eyes flashed from behind Vasu’s curtain of black hair. His talesm sparked gold. Black and gold, the Fallen glared at his brother. “And I allowed you to persuade me. Now my children think their father murdered by a foreign god. They fight to remain true, even as Galal’s soldiers slaughter them.”
“Tell them to be more careful then.” Jaron shrugged. “When the time comes, you will breed more.”
Vasu curled his lip. “I have not consorted with human women for years. You know I tire of their attention.”
“I hear sorrow,” Barak growled, rising to his feet and looking west to the ancient city. “What is this? I thought the female was unharmed.”
“She formed a bond with one of the Irin scribes. He sacrificed himself for her.” Jaron’s voice held a faint note of admiration. “She mourns.”
“Does this change anything?” Vasu asked.
Barak cocked his head. “Why did you allow the sacrifice? Did you foresee it?”
“I did. I was… curious.”
“And she mourns him?” Barak’s voice held no pity. His gold eyes were impassive as he stared into the distance, the evening sun flushing his pale skin a gold-tinted rose.
“You were curious?” Vasu asked, his voice holding more judgment than Jaron expected. Then again, Vasu was younger than his brothers, a mere boy when the Fallen had left their home. He had lived longer in the human realm than the heavenly. “Toying with humans is beneath you.”
“His sacrifice was necessary for the pieces to be put into place.”
The three angels rested at the peak of the mountain, the hawks circling above them, screaming at their intrusion. Jaron, bronze and gold in the light, eyes watching the distance, seeing beyond time and space. His children, when it served him, bore traces of his foresight. Vasu stood slightly behind him, dark and brooding. His physical presence dwarfed his brothers, not in size, for the tall, lean human form he donned was not imposing; but his energy, the tightly chained physicality of his presence, marked him as different, more terrestrial, than his brothers.
Barak sat next to Jaron, his brother’s mirror in eternity. While Jaron saw, Barak heard. His solemn presence was the eternal and constant punctuation of Jaron’s curiosity. Friends. Brothers. The two angels had existed in tandem for millennia. And now they struggled to attain what others thought was lost.
“Do you truly think it possible?” Barak asked, rising to his feet. “After all this time?”
Jaron continued to stare. Something was stirring in his vision. “Seven years or seven million, brother. He does not see time as we do. It has to be possible.”
A flicker. A wavering in the heavenly realm as the stars danced above. Jaron stood and walked to the edge of the cliff.
Barak asked, “What is this I hear?” His eyes sought Jaron’s, which were wide and filled with a long-lost emotion.
Vasu darted to his side. “What? What do you see?”
“Look, my brothers.”
Then Jaron opened his vision, sending it to the two angels at his side. All three looked curiously at the woman crouched in a hotel room. All three heard the words she uttered, then the tearing of the heavenly realm.
Vasu blinked. “Unexpected.”
“Does this change anything?” Barak asked.
“No. He was necessary to keep her alive. Other than that, he is incidental.”
“The female did this,” Vasu said.
“So it would seem.”
Barak said, “We knew her powers would be unstable.”
Vasu lifted an eyebrow, a decidedly human gesture Jaron wondered if he was aware of. “Is it any wonder our sons fear them?” he murmured.
“She is a means to an end,” Jaron said. “That is all.”
Barak and Vasu exchanged a look but did not argue with their brother.
Vasu and Barak asked in unison, “Does this change our course?”
“No,” Jaron said, his eyes narrowed on a dark riverbank. “We do what we always do. We watch.”
He stared at the whirl of stars overhead, feeling their loss even as the soft grass caressed his back. They danced, tremulous in his vision, as her voice floated away on the night breeze.
Come back to me.
As the words drifted away, he caught flashes of another life.
Dark curls lifting in the breeze as the sun flashed on water. Rocking. Snatches of foreign voices and scents.
“Do you like to travel alone?”
“Am I not allowed to ask you questions?”
“Call me unusual, then.”
He closed his eyes to the stars. Another vision. Arms and legs tangled together. Sun-darkened skin against milky-white. She arched above him, her hand pressed to the carved wall of the cave as she sighed a name.
Her face flush with pleasure.
Gold eyes and fair skin. Her mouth parted. She was speaking.
Hidden in the shadows, he saw her. Surrounded by grime and the scent of foul water. Saw her eyes widen in horror. Then…
The man sat up with a gasp, looking around with wide eyes. The river was familiar. But not. The air didn’t smell as it should. There was an acrid tinge of smoke in the breeze and lights in the distance. He pushed to his knees, his legs feeling stiff and uncertain, as if he hadn’t used them in days. He stared down at his bare chest and arms, frowning. Something was missing. Something lacked. But he couldn’t find it in the jumble of his thoughts.