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The Assembly of the Faithful

(Realm of Elysia)

Those summoned by the Spirit from the seven realms became quiet as Dove entered the Great Hall. Her features remained serene while greeting each and every one personally. Fully present, perhaps for the first time in a thousand years, her form emanated comfort and life as she moved gracefully from person to person in front of the congregation. Each one whom she welcomed, felt deep gratitude and respect for the Arch-Seraph.

Outside, the air moved with a slight breeze as birds of all kinds quieted in the trees. As if in respect, they sat on branches, chirping or cooing quietly, feeling safe and secure.

Dove began, “Time is one of YHWH’s most mysterious creations, for though one understands that it never ends, yet, depending on our circumstance, it may become precious indeed. We, who are immortal, tend not to concern ourselves with how much or little time we have, yet because of recent developments, we must pay close attention to the present, because our time to act may be running out.”

Dove paused, letting her words sink in, as the assembly listened attentively. Continuing, she said, “We have come to a point in eternity where a turning of events, one way or another, signals a new paradigm emerging, which few of us foresaw or understood.”

Abel speaks

Carrying a beautiful box gingerly, two attendants entered the hall and lay it at Dove’s feet. The box, exquisite lid creaking almost imperceptibly as it opened, yielded a single piece of parchment from its interior. All eyes darted immediately to the document, as Dove read the words of the prophet Abel aloud:

“Beauty from old sees a final blow,

Seven days shall pass until the prophecy unfolds.

A Seraph in season, in time shall recur

From one shall be two as seen in a mirror”

Handing the sacred scroll to an attendant, Dove proclaimed, “Not since original sin has the Assembly of the Faithful faced events so unexpected or dangerous. As with all the seven realms, this City of Peace once suffered terrible violence. Thankfully, through the personal heroics and sacrifices of many now present, and some who gave everything and are not, these walls withstood the rebellious onslaught. Others, unfortunately, did not fare so well.”

A new peril

Dove continued gravely, “Today, as reported by 3, we face a new peril, one potentially more formidable than any faced in the First Rebellion. We have not one, but two recurrences, two emergent seraphs of unknown power, that have not chosen either good or evil. These beings, like ourselves, span the seven realms. As you have all felt, one has already awakened.”

Thandeka’s grip tightened on her spear as she watched Dove move about, her wings shimmering.

Alethea, standing next to 3, felt her heart pounding, orange streaks glowing incandescent in her hair.

Michael, in full armor, stood motionless, giving no expression at all.

Whaitiri, Guanyin, and Coatlicue completed the council of the Seven Sisters, listening intently.

Dove, sensing Guanyin’s desire to speak, stepped back as she came forward.

“Sisters, you know me and my realm from old. You know how we suffered during the Rebellion and how many of our people sacrificed their lives to overcome original sin. If what Dove says is true, we face an even greater threat than at first, for if two Seraphs fall and join Beauty, even our combined might may not be able to withstand them.”

Excuse me

3, clearing his throat, caused everyone to turn towards him disapprovingly.

“Yes, what is it,” Dove finally said.

“If I may, Your Highness, I believe we are missing the point.”

“What point is that?” Thandeka asked impatiently.

“Well, the prophecy, Your Highness. If we got it wrong about who it referred to, perhaps we don’t understand the meaning of the rest of it as well.”

Whaitiri, face framed in lustrous raven black hair, streaked with vivid green, pulsating as she gazed calmly at 3, said, “Please, speak further.”

I feel cold

(Vatican, 1647)

On the horizon, barely a hint of dawn showed in Vatican City, as Tim stared up into the darkness. The small cubicle he lived in seemed especially cold and damp today, causing a shiver to run through his young bones. “This will be a long day,” he mused ruefully, not having slept at all that night.

The shoes on his feet, trying as he might to avoid the puddles, quickly soaked through as he walked to the abbey. Though comfortable when dry, they tended to feel slippery inside when wet. Lighting a small candle from the ones already present in the abbey, Tim made his way to his master’s room.

After making all the necessary preparations for the day, Tim politely knocked on the old man’s bedroom door, saying, “Good day, sir. Your water is ready.” After a moment, Tim heard a stirring, then a cough, then wheezing. Usually, after 15 minutes or so, Cardinal Jenkins emerged with only his nightshirt on, as he made his way slowly to his morning bath.

An unexpected kindness

Today, as the old man held out his silver crucifix for him to kiss, Tim’s heart beat fast as his blood ran cold. Metal, heartless metal, met his lips. Remembering the words of Father Donovan, ‘You must never let on that you know, or else you might end up dead like your father,’ Tim remained expressionless.

Watching him hobble down the hall, Tim imagined how easy it would be to kill the old priest. Briefly toying with exactly how to carry that out, as it made his anger feel a little better, Jenkin’s servant discarded the notion. The old cardinal was Tim’s entry into the cabal of unholy men who murdered his father. “No, I will play you for everything you have. Then, after you know you have failed, only then will I watch you die,” Tim thought coldly to himself.

Standing motionless, except to hand each piece of clothing to the old man, who occasionally wheezed when he struggled into his garments, Tim asked, “Are there any special duties you have for me today, sir?”

You look tired

Cardinal Jenkins, after a moment, said, “Why do you appear so tired today, boy?”

Tim, feeling guilty for no good reason, replied, “My room is cold sometimes, sir, and I find it difficult to sleep soundly.”

With that, the old man made his way to his room and, folding one of his own blankets neatly, handed it to Tim. “Sir?” Tim said surprised.

“Take it, it is yours. You can pick a new one up for me this afternoon on your errands,” the cardinal said. “You must take good care of yourself, boy. When I was a lad, I slept cold just like you and developed this cough. Take it, it is yours,” he finished.

Confused in his heart at the old man’s kindness, Tim thanked him profusely.

Rare occurrences indeed

(Montana Territory, 1876)

Northern lights, a rare occurrence in the Montana territory, danced above their tent in a peaceful sky.

“Sleep well, Bren, you are my best friend,” Chapi said as she finally felt safe enough to drift off to sleep.

Bren, snuggling close, whispered, “Good night, sweet Seraph, I love you, too.” Both slumbered late into the morning, as the other women and children of the village woke to the new day. Curiously, the braves slept late as well, despite the chiding and protest of their womenfolk.

Red Devil

Several miles from the village, the first wave of cavalry prepared for direct attack, as Custer and his men made their way in a flanking maneuver through the hills towards the river. Looking up to the top of a crest before them, one of Custer’s men pointed and shouted, “Injuns!” On top, a single brave, magnificent in stature and sitting on his pony, gazed steadfastly at the soldiers.

“Two Guns!” Custer said, looking over to Derek, “Use that fancy Winchester of yours and shoot that Red Devil!”

The black man, removing his rifle from its scabbard, flipped the long-range ladder sight up, adjusting the range to about 200 yards. A difficult shot for many, Two Guns knew he could make it without fail as he targeted the Brave’s chest. Sighting him in, the Brave made no move to retreat, but stood motionless, the few feathers fluttering in the breeze.

Suddenly Two Guns lowered his weapon as Custer angrily shouted, “What in the hell are you doing, Scout? Shoot him!”

Insubordination

No, Captain, I’s can’t. Behind that man is enough angry Injuns to kill us all. I’s won’t be responsible for starting a war we cannot win,” the black man finished.

Red-faced, Custer moved his horse over, taking Derek ‘s 1876 from him, and lifting it up, carefully squeezed the trigger. The report of the bullet, flying through the air, spooked grouse in the nearby thicket, as the Indian twisted around, falling from his horse.

“Seize that man Corporal, take him back to Fort Abraham Lincoln and throw him in the stockade,” Custer commanded. “I saved your sorry ass once, Good Scout, but I will see you court-marshaled and shot for this!”

Tossing the rifle to one of the soldiers, Custer said, “take this man’s rife, it can’t shoot straight anyhow.” Remanding Two Guns into the custody of the very soldiers he fought with only days ago, the company of cavalrymen road off in a cloud of dust. Barely concealing his delight, the captain that Derek stepped on tied his hands tightly to the saddle horn while his two comrades trained their guns on him.

Feeling searing pain, Chaska gasped for breath after having the wind knocked out of him when he hit the ground. After a few minutes, he managed to mount his pony, blood flowing down his right arm. A desire to warn his people driving him, Wichapi’s brother galloped as fast as possible back to the village. Near fainting from loss of blood when he arrived, the wounded Lakota brave fell off his horse into the arms of startled women.

Wichapi, waking up to the screams outside, immediately said out loud, “Chaska!”

Oh God, no, no…

In great pain, the Indian princess’s brother allowed the women to wash his wound, a great gash across his bicep, exposing muscle, but fortunately, not bone. Bren, saying, “Oh my God, no, no,” followed after Wichapi running frantically towards where Chaska lay in agony. Finding him, taking his face in her hands, Wichapi cried, seeing his anguish. Bren cried too, trying to understand what was going on, as her stomach felt sick. Then suddenly a word of knowledge came to her, she shouted, “This was the first volley of an attack!”

In the distance outside their village, a lone bugle sounded the charge. Almost 100 cavalrymen split off from Custer’s main regiment and swept forward like a wall of thundering horseflesh, galloping towards the sleepy village at full speed. Rifle shots rang out, some piercing the teepees near where Bren stood. Panicked, the young Seraph Hunter stood frozen, not knowing what to do.

Emergence

Wiping her tears, stilling looking at Chaska, Wichapi stood, arms at her side. Letting out a low, guttural scream, gradually rising to a shrill crescendo, the half-black Seraph fanned out in all directions. In a waking vision, Bren saw waves of power emanating from her friend, causing her to drop to her knees. Six partially white, partially black wings extended to their full breadth as the bursts of spiritual energy intensified. Birds for miles around took to flight, startled out of the trees and thickets. Deer, coyotes, elk, and bison bolted and ran in all directions. Horses in and out of the village bucked like broncos and whinnied wildly. Finally, every brave, everywhere in the Lakota camp, suddenly woke out of a sound sleep.

Struggling to control their horses, the Cavalry neared their prey. Instead of finding only women and children, to their utter surprise, braves poured out of a sea of teepees like hornets from a disturbed nest. Horrified, the cavalry’s commander ordered his men to halt as their horses continued to dance and buck. Taking in the dire situation, the battle-hardened man sounded a full retreat. His own men fell around him, shot through by the very rifles whites had sold the Indians to hunt buffalo.

A dangerous trance

Wichapi, as if in a trance, left Chaska’s side and began walking towards the river. Bren, following, trying to gain Chapi’s attention, couldn’t stop her from going towards the approaching soldiers riding down from the hills on the opposite side. Walking fearlessly towards the mounted soldiers, as other women and children fled past, Bren prayed to God that He would protect them both.

The men, intent on crossing the river to wreak havoc on the camp, noticed the lone white woman standing with the squaw on the other side. One even took a shot at them but missed badly. Horses neighing, the cavalrymen tried in vain to force their steeds over the river into the camp. However, no matter how they dug their spurs into their mounts’ bellies, their ponies wouldn’t move beyond a certain point. Finding crossing the river impossible, frustrated, they turned and retreated back up the canyon draw.

Save me

Bren, witnessing their retreat, knew the horses had been controlled by Wichapi. Turning to her friend, now shaking uncontrollably, blue lips frothing at the mouth, Brenzel tried to break her out of whatever was happening. Shaking her, Bren screamed, “Wichapi! Wichapi! Wake up!” as her eyes rolled up, back into her head. Taking her in her arms, Bren cried, “Chapi, please, please come back to me.”

Initially stiff as a board, Wichapi suddenly relaxed and, just before she went totally limp in her arms, Bren heard her say weakly, “Save me.”

SEOISB.