When Gideon regained consciousness, the world around him seemed to be full of chaos. What the hell? Groaning as he rolled over onto his side because every part of his body hurt, he propped himself up on one elbow and looked blurry eyed towards the opening of the cave. There were figures there. One seemed to be on the ground while another knelt down beside it. Someone was standing off to the side watching while another stood at the edge of the ledge looking into the sky. A roar that send a fresh wave of pain through his head sounded just before something huge flew past the cave entrance. Suddenly the memories flooded back.
There was a dragon heading for the cave where he knew Sara was waiting. When he burst into the back of the cave yelling her name, it startled the dragon who inadvertently knocked Sara off the ledge. Was that who was lying on the ground? Were they unable to catch her before she hit the rocks below? The thought of her broken body or that she was dead turned his blood cold.
“Sara,” he called pushing past the pain onto his feet. It was too fast. The world went all squiggly lines and spots. The only thing that saved him from eating rockbed was an arm around his chest stopping his fall.
“Easy,” Aitan’s deep voice rumbled next to his ear.
“Is Sara all right?” Gideon groaned, his eyes on the blurry forms in front of him as he wrapped one arm around the angel’s waist. They usually did not hang on each other – it so broke the man code – but Gideon could not stay upright and he needed to get to Sara.
“That is not Sapphira,” Michel assured from his other side. Carefully he pulled one of Gideon’s arms around his neck before moving in close so he could wrap his other arm around his leader’s waist.
“What?” Gideon asked looking at Michel in confusion.
“It’s Damien,” Michel answered as they slowly began to move towards them.
The closer they got the clearer Gideon’s vision became. Even though he knew Sara cared for Damien, too many centuries of having to deal with this irritating creature could not keep the snarl off of Gideon’s face. “What the hell happened to him?”
“Long story,” Loghan answered coming up from behind them. “How is he?” looking down at Damien.
“He’ll live,” Adalrik announced grimly.
As much as Gideon wanted answers about Damien and why they were worried about his welfare, there was something more important he needed to know. “Where is Sara?”
“That we don’t know,” Quinn answered looking towards Darrick who was at the edge of the ledge watching the dragon fly by. “When we arrived you were out cold. Sapphira and Drew were gone and that…beast,” he motioned towards the dragon with a certain amount of disgust in his voice, “was flying around like a mother hen who had lost its young. Damien told us Sapphira could call them to her. Is that true?”
“I don’t know,” Gideon hissed as pain lanced his head. Looking away from the brightness of the sky, he shook his head trying to clear the rest of the cobwebs. Instead it only made things worse. Just what he needed on top of everything else. A concussion. “I didn’t have time to ask,” he added his voice tight with pain. Putting his hand to his forehead, he closed his eyes trying to ride it out.
“Drew and the dragon went after Sapphira,” Darrick added walking back to them. “Talon went looking for them. That was over twenty minutes ago. The only one that has returned is the dragon, and as you can see, it’s upset. Something is wrong.”
“She’s in trouble,” Damien’s voice hissed weakly. He tried to rise up but Adalrik pushed him back down.
“Stay still or your wing will never heal correctly,” he snapped.
Wing? Gideon forced his eyes to focus on what Adalrik was so carefully working on. A wing. A silver feathered wing, and it was attached to the demon on the ground. Demons did not have feathered wings. Those were saved for angels, and if you were fallen they were black. As far as Gideon knew, Damien was not a fallen angel and there was no such color as silver.
“Since when do you have wings, demon?” Gideon snapped.
“Since I hit puberty,” Damien answered his voice breathy with pain.
“So all this time…,” Gideon hissed.
“Can we discuss my power of flight later,” Damien snapped. “Sapphira is in trouble. You need to help her.”
Why was everyone calling her Sapphira?
“Where is she?” Michel asked.
Closing his eyes Damien concentrated, or tried to past the pain. Everything was still a jumble between him and Sapphira, and she was scared. It was hard to decipher exactly where she was. Suddenly, he saw a vague picture.
“In a jungle.” Another picture, this time blurred because of the speed she was traveling. A temple with a flat top. “There are temples,” he said between clenched teeth.
“Well, that narrows it down,” Loghan muttered.
“She’s being chased…by four…. I’m not sure what they are, but they are big and can fly. Fast.” Damien took a breath and tried to relax. Tried to let her thoughts flow through him instead of forcing them. Finally they snapped into focus and suddenly he could not breathe. Not even trying to hide the fear in his eyes as he stared at Gideon, his voice pleading, he begged, “You have to find her before they do. If they bring her back to their master, we are all doomed.”
“A bit dramatic but to the point,” Quinn mused with a nod, standing at his feet.
Damien ignored him, his eyes remaining locked with Gideon’s, willing him to understand what he had just realized. If he said that name out loud, he might as well call every evil creature known, and some unknown, down upon them. Whether it was the obvious concussion or the angel did not want to understand, Gideon just stared back not comprehending the extent of the danger that chased his sister.
“You said four?” Quinn asked tightening the belts that held his weapons, which had suddenly appeared on him.
“Yes. I saw temples with flat tops and people.”
“The ruins in the south?” Quinn asked looking at Gideon.
“It could be,” Gideon frowned. “There are a couple with nearby towns that are heavily populated.”
“I think she is trying to lose herself in the crowd. She can blend in well enough, but so can they. It will be only a matter of time before they find her, and they will kill anything in their path to capture her.”
They all looked at their leader. Gideon hesitated. As much as he appreciated the gesture, how could he keep leading these men when he was only half the warrior he used to be? He could not even go with them to save Sara. After this latest mess was over, he would have to appoint a new leader and step down. It was the only logical solution. Until then he would delegate. Not one of his strong suits, especially when it came to Sara, but he could do it. Besides, he had some questions for the demon. No, not demon, but also not angel. There was a connection between Damien and Sara, and he wanted to know what it was. What it meant for him. The feeling of loss tried to engulf him, but he pushed it back.
“Michel, take whoever you need, but leave at least two here, including Adalrik. He’ll need to tend to the de…Damien.” Closing his eyes as the world took a spin, Gideon wondered how much of that was due to the concussion and how much of it was his world collapsing around him. Opening his eyes, he looked at Michel who was watching him with concern. “We’ll need to keep the monastery secure so you have someplace safe to bring her. If we are compromised we will let you know.”
Nodding he understood, Michel said, “I’ll take Darrick, Aitan, and Loghan. Hopefully Talon will return soon. Or is he with Sapphira?” he asked looking at Damien.
“I only see the four chasing her,” Damien answered hoarsely, his eyes closed as he rode out a fresh wave of pain. “They are heavily armed and very powerful. Watch your back.”
“Noted. Quinn, you stay with Gideon and Adalrik. Can you stand, Gideon?” Michel asked turning his attention back to the man he was holding up.
Good question. Only one way to find out. Gideon nodded and Michel carefully moved out from under him. The world wobbled, but this time he stayed upright.
“Go. Find her and bring her back to…,” he looked at Damien, the realization that she may not be his to claim clenching his heart painfully. “Bring her back safely.”
With a nod the four angels ran for the cliff’s edge and threw themselves off. In a flash they were gone. Outside the dragon roared in frustration at being left behind, making Gideon’s head pound harder. Groaning, he once again held his head in one hand, eyes closed, trying to will it to stop throbbing.
“You need to lie down,” Quinn ordered suddenly beside him taking his arm.
“Not until I get some answers.” brushing him off, Gideon glared down at Damien. “Who the hell are you and why were you looking for Sara.”
“That’s not my secret to tell,” Damien grimaced. Adalrik took that moment to gently take a hold of his broken wing, one hand on each side of the break and suddenly all Damien’s attention was on that one spot. “Shit! Careful!” he hissed through clenched teeth, his back arching.
“I need to set the break before I can heal it. This may hurt a bit,” Adalrik warned.
Damien glared at him, his look saying, Really?
Adalrik smiled. “Ready?” He waited for Damien to close his eyes, dig his nails into what little dirt there was on the ledge floor and nod his head he was ready. With one jerk Adalrik set the wing. Damien screamed, the dragon roared in response then it was silent.
“Well, at least he won’t feel anything else,” Quinn said ruefully.
No, and he won’t be able to answer any questions either, Gideon thought angrily as he stared down at the unconscious male. And he needed answers sooner rather than later.
There was a sensation of someone pulling him. As if they wanted him to follow. Gideon resisted, but he knew in the end it would be useless.
“Was that what I think it was?” Quinn asked warily.
“I am being summoned,” Gideon sighed suddenly very tired. Great. Just what he needed. A session of being told what a mess he had made of things. Obviously they had not heard about his wings.
“Who do you want to go with you?” Quinn asked.
Usually the second in command was the one who went with Gideon, but Talon had not yet returned. Maybe he could wait…another pull, this time with more force, and Gideon knew he could not wait. He looked down at Damien.
“Let’s move him inside. If Talon has not returned by then you will go with me,” he answered, pulling away from Quinn. At least the world did not wobble. The concussion was receding, although arriving worse for wear may help his cause.
Because of the delicacy of Damien’s injuries, it took the three of them to pick him up and carry him down the long corridors into one of the spare bedrooms. Just as Gideon stepped back from the bed, another pull yanked him so hard it almost took him took his knees. Grabbing onto the bedpost was the only thing that saved him. What the hell? They knew very well that he could be in the middle of a battle or something equally important, yet it never seemed to matter. If they wanted to talk now, then that was what would happen.
“Are you going to be able to teleport?” Quinn asked quietly.
Nodding, Gideon slowly stood on his own. Where their wings were a major part of their transportation, they were not necessarily needed. Teleportation by thought was common enough. “I’ll meet you there,” not liking how breathless he sounded. What was wrong with him? They had told him he had been out for almost two days. Aside from the wounds on his back, he should have completely healed by now.
With a nod Quinn disappeared.
“I’ll tell Talon where you went,” Adalrik said, his eyes full of worry.
Gideon nodded. “We’ll be back soon. Hopefully with some answers.” Then he too disappeared.
Adalrik stared at the empty space his leader once stood and prayed Gideon would find answers, because something was not right with this entire situation. Looking down at Damien, Adalrik had an idea. If anyone would know the answers to their questions, it would be the witch currently residing in their dungeons. Once he was assured Damien was healing properly, he went to do some of his own interrogating. Michel may love the blood and gore, but Adalrik’s touch was much more subtle, and at times more effective.
Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes