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Back to where it began

In two days’ time, their company arrived back to the place where it all began. Brenzel saw her motorcycle sitting where she’d left it, still intact. Where am I going to get more cables? Suddenly she felt it and she looked up and knew, She’s here.

Halans, whose sight was keener than humans, all began speaking excitedly. In the sky above, first appeared angels, then Alethea. It was the first time she’d witnessed a Seraph fly and it was magnificent. She flew in from the north, circling slowly. Six large gossamer wings, tinged with light orange, almost blending into the sky, stretched out, gliding like a great bird of prey. As she touched down, softly, all bowed down along with Brenzel, as Derek and Fallon did, too.

Melodic words came, “Rise my people, welcome home.” As all stood, they saw a large group of angels, all appearing to be male, standing behind her. The orange Seraph stepped forward and greeted each Halan in turn, speaking to them kindly, pairing them with an angel who they left with. Where are they going? Brenzel thought. ****angels taking them back to Alfheim – explain more?

It took some time, but it was a sight to see the faces and embraces. Brenzel had learned that most Halans had only seen Alethea from afar, and that was a very long time ago. Finally, only Komae was left with Meha, who was busy hiding behind Brenzel, shaking like a leaf. Brenzel tried to reach around and coax her forward, but to no avail; the Hadite seemed to always feel her safety was invisibility.

Finally, Alethea stood before Komae, talking with her at some length. There were no more angels left. Maybe she will go with the Seraph herself? Finally, after it appeared they had reached a conclusion, Alethea and Komae approached Brenzel.


Looking down, smiling at Brenzel, Alethea said, “Well done Seraph Hunter, your efforts are beginning to liberate the Fey. You have my gratitude.” Everyone that remained looked up at her, for the orange Seraph stood at least six inches taller than Derek. Brenzel noted the big man stood utterly humbled and in awe seeing the winged being before him. Fallon, holding his arm, looked similarly awstruck. Bren felt sorry for Meha, though, for she still hid behind Brenzel as if her life depended on it.

Turning to Komae, Alethea said, “Komae, please take Derek, Fallon, and Meha with you and wait for a few moments. I wish to speak with Brenzel first.”

Bowing, the forest warden moved forward and gently removed the frightened Hadite from behind Brenzel, “Meha, I will not harm you. Please, come with me.” Komae said kindly. Meha stared for a moment at Brenzel, not daring to look upon Alethea. Then, as Bren nodded, she allowed herself to be led away with the others.

Turning back, Brenzel looked up into the smiling face of the big blond Seraph, who inclined her head slightly. “Brenzel of Eden, well done.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty.”

“You may call me Alethea.”

Happy to drop formalities, Brenzel replied, “Please just call me Brenzel, too.”


“What are those?”, the seraph asked, pointing to the motorbikes.

“Oh, those are motorcycles, we use them on earth to move around. They’re kind of like metal horses. I thought they would work on Hala, but Komae didn’t like them. Would you like to see them?”

“Yes, please,” Alethea said.

Proudly, Bren took the hand the big Seraph offered and led her to her bike. She explained how it worked and sat on it to demonstrate how to ride it, thinking, unfortunately it’s broken.

Alethea listened attentively, then asked, “May I try?”

“Yes, of course,” Brenzel replied. The Orange Seraph moved her wings out of the way, lifting her leg over, then straddled the seat. Running her hand over the tank, she said, “It likes to be ridden, what a curious thing.” Alethea sat, her face now on level with Brenzel’s.

Turning, gold jewelry on her pointed ears glinting in the sun light, Alethea said, “I’m very proud of you, young Hunter.” Tilting her head a little, studying Brenzel’s features, Hala’s Seraph said, “I must admit, when Dove first suggested you for this mission, I had my doubts. Fey has grown very powerful over the years, but you handled things well, showing both restraint and compassion.”

Flattered, Brenzel ventured, “Thank you, Alethea.” She paused. “May I ask a question?

Alethea nodded.

“Why didn’t you come to Fey yourself? Surely she would have listened to you more than me.”

Considering for a moment, the orange Seraph replied in her sweet way, “As you grow in power, young Seraph, you’ll find that it has limitations. Often, for us, it isn’t how much power we possess, but how best to use it.” Swinging her leg back over the bike, Alethea sat on it like a small chair, folding her hands in her lap.

I don’t understand

Brenzel said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

Looking over at the others standing some distance away, Alethea continued. “When a person is thirsty in a hot land, what do they need most?”

Brenzel, thinking that was obvious, said, “A drink of cold water.”

“Yes,” the Seraph said, “but only a specific amount. A waterfall would be too much, but a cup of cold water from that same waterfall would be just right.

“I owe Fey a great debt of gratitude, Brenzel, all my sisters do. Through her sacrifice, she made it possible for us to fight against the Red Seraph during the Great Rebellion. However, she paid a terrible price for her bravery. Her pain is very real and she was dealing with it in the only way she felt she could.” Alethea paused, a look of sadness crossing her face as if she was remembering something. “But through long isolation she lost her way, harming not only herself, but others too. That is, until you came along and gave her…” she smiled, looking intently at Brenzel. “. . .a hug. Your embrace is the cup of cold water she needed. She needed to feel safe with someone for her healing to begin. That could not have happened with me, you see how everyone reacts when I’m present. It needed to happen through someone like you.”

“I see,” Brenzel said, the truth of it opening up to her like a vista coming into view after climbing a hill.

“Likewise, young Seraph, to truly help others, use your powers only to the extent that it satisfies the need before you. Too much and you risk destroying rather than helping. You had the power to use force,” she glanced at the guns on Bren’s hips, “but you chose instead to show Fey a small amount of kindness. In the end, this proved much more powerful.”

Power isn’t everything

Brenzel realized what Alethea was getting at, and replied, “Power isn’t everything, then, is it?”

Nodding, Alethea finished with, “Often, very big events turn on the smallest word spoken at the right moment, or a little understanding performed, not upon the use of great force. Always remember, my child, we Seraphs want to help save those we come in contact with. You did very well.”

Brenzel felt good to know that Alethea approved of her. It meant a lot that someone so wise thought she’d done well.

Touching the handlebars, Alethea smiled and said, “Oh, it’s fixed,” as the bike started by itself, idling like a purring cat.

“Thank. . . .you,” Brenzel said, raising her eyebrows, having no clue how she had just done that.

The motorcycle shut off, then Alethea stood and opened her arms, inviting Brenzel in for a hug. After a moment in the Seraph’s warm embrace, from behind, she heard a familiar voice saying, “How’s my favorite hunter?”

Opening her eyes wide, Brenzel turned, exclaiming, “Joshua!” as she threw herself into his open arms. “I’ve missed you so much!”

Joshua replied, “I’m glad to see you, too. I hear very good things about you.” He spoke softly, as he was near her ear.

Alethea, leaning down and over, kissed Joshua on the cheek, saying, “I’m going to see the others off.” Then she smiled at Brenzel. “Good to have spoken with you again, Brenzel. Next time you’re on Hala, let’s have tea.”

Brenzel said, “Thanks, Alethea, I’ll visit again soon.”

She couldn’t seem to let go, it felt so good to be in his arms again. He didn’t pull away either, but held her and snuggled for as long as she pleased.

Joshua, I’ve missed you so much!

She exclaimed again, “I’ve really missed you, it’s been so long. How have you been?” Finally unwrapping herself, she stepped back a bit, looking into his kind eyes.

“Well,” Joshua said, “busy as usual, but things are going well. At least in the general direction of well.” Looking over at her bike, he quipped, “Nice ride, ’89, right?”

“You know about motorcycles?” Brenzel asked, surprised.

“A little,” he replied.

“You must ride with me sometime then, it’d be fun.”

“I’d like that,” Joshua replied, looking the bike over wistfully. Then, as if coming to some conclusion, he said, “Okay, someday we’ll ride together. When everything settles down.” He turned and looked at her with those twinkling eyes she remembered so well that warmed her heart. “Right now, though, I have a question.”

Surprised, Brenzel said, “Yes?”

“I’d like to take you to one of my favorite places. We could spend some time together if you like.”

Heart leaping in her chest, she gasped, then tried to compose herself. “Yes, of course! I’d love to! But. . . do you have the time, Joshua? You’re so busy- ” she said, instantly regretting her big mouth.

Smiling, he shrugged saying, “Sometimes you just have to make time for those that are important to you.”

She felt her face flush and become warm, his words hitting home in her heart like an arrow to a bullseye.

Brenzel, insides a flutter, looked over at her friends standing with Alethea. “What about them? Where are they going?”

“You’ll all meet down south at the port city in a few days. Derek and Komae can ride your motorbikes and find their way.” Brenzel raised her eyebrows, glancing at Komae. Joshua reassured, “Don’t worry about Komae, she’ll be fine. Anyway, truth is, she’s going to have to get used to a lot of different things shortly. Come, l want to speak with them before we go.”

I release you from fear

Walking up to Alethea and the group, Traveler greeted everyone warmly, chatting with Derek and Fallon for a while, finally coming to the Hadite woman who looked at him curiously, evidently assuming he was with Brenzel, so posed less threat.

Looking at her intently, Joshua said, “Meha, I know you have concerns, but I promise that we will bring you home safely.” Then, laying his hand on her heart, he said, “I release you from fear.”

Brenzel watched, assuming that Meha would have pulled away, but instead, almost as a reflex, she grabbed his hand and held it on her chest, eyes closed tightly, but her face relaxing as if something painful had left. After a moment, opening her eyes, looking at Joshua in wonder, she breathed deeply. “You’ll be alright. These are my friends, Meha. Trust them. I do.”

Meha nodded just a little.

“Well, then,” Joshua said, “I think everyone’s on the same page now. Komae,” he said, looking at the tall Halan, “you and Derek lead, and take good care of Fallon and Meha. I’m going away with Brenzel for a little while, but she will meet up with you at port Nilfheim.”

He said goodbye to Alethea, who alighted into the heavens, heading north.

Brenzel looked down and saw a blue feather in her hand, and smiled broadly as she put it in her hatband, a thrill running down her back, flutters in her stomach. Holding Traveler’s hand with her left, her right waved goodbye to those below as they lifted off together into a silver-lined cloud.

Nothing more by the Alternate Routes