The afternoon sun shined brightly in the sky. The blistering heat was canceled out by the frigid winter winds. The massive clouds of a snow-storm could be visible in the distance, signaling the first snow-fall of the season.
Adam sat silently above the roof of the highest tower of Castle Caelum. His golden hair flowed with the wind, and his violet eyes looked above at the crystalline blue sky. The sounds of Aidan’s neck being snapped echoed through Adam’s mind. The longer he pondered the boy’s death, the more frustrated he grew.
Intense hatred swelled up inside of him like an unquenchable fire. Adam gripped hist fist in absolute rage, slamming it down upon the roof of the tower, causing it to cave in slightly. He then sighed and leaned his head further back. As he opened his eyes, he was met with a familiar face.
“Catching some sunlight before the storm engulfs the village in snow, huh?” asked Setaurus, one of the other Eight. His black hair hid his blind, hazed-over eyes. Though he had no sight, his hearing, sense of smell, and sensitivity to vibrations made him all-the-more a dangerous foe to meet with a blade – though Setaurus uses no blade. He uses special steel-bladed gauntlets to crush and slice his foes.
“Setaurus…” Adam sat up suddenly and tried to hide the slightly caved-in spot on the roof.
“The Commander has told me what happened. It is… unfortunate. Both for the village and us. Do not forget this incident, however. You must remember why the Hellspawn do not have a place amongst this world.”
“Lecture after lecture…” Adam muttered as he stood up, “I know why we kill them, Setaurus. I know why their damned flesh must be sliced open for the worms and flies to consume.”
“That’s an interesting way of putting it.” replied Setaurus as he placed his hand upon the boy’s shoulder, “We lecture you because you are like a son to all of us. In over 20 years we have not recruited another within Gabriel’s most elite of Archangels. To be so young and to wield such power…”
“Then why?!” Adam pushed Setaurus’ hand away and looked at him with hateful eyes, “Why was Ichosen?! Why was I the one to be taken from my parents?! From my sister?!”
“Because you hold a light within your heart of which the likes we have never before experienced. King Gabriel saw something in you… he saw valor, honor, righteousness, and justice. Your parents agreed to let us take you so that we may shape you into a weapon of the light – to serve the King of Heaven.”
“I never wanted this… responsibility…”
“We all never did, but we do what must be done to protect God’s creations – even if they are not so… grateful.”
“Why protect those of which do not appreciate our effort?”
“Because that is charity, Adam. It is within us to do so.”
Adam looked down at the courtyard below. The Commander was talking to the rest of the Eight. A certain face made him cringe each time he looked at it.
Zaerta was a recruit brought into the Eight by his father, Darius. He showed exceptional skill in wielding the Soulreaver, the sister of Death’s Scythe itself. He scythe’s power could return a life to any deceased Human, though the act of doing so is frowned upon. The Scythe also grants the ability to conjure a white fire that seeks out the flesh of the damned, burning their skin until the sinful victim is sent to the Lower Kingdom of Hell.
As Adam looked into Zaerta’s unnatural red eyes, his shining silver hair hung loosely down to conceal them. A slight smile curved in his lips, as if Zaerta knew Adam was looking at him from a distance. Setaurus started to walk down the cone-shaped roof and turned his head to look at Adam.
“The boy’s death was not your fault – rather it was our miscalculations to blame.” he said as he hopped off the roof, plunging down to the courtyard below. As Setaurus did so, he landed perfectly on his feet and walked into the formation that the other Eight were in.
Adam, too, jumped off the ledge, but sprouted his wings to glide slowly to the formation. As he did a perfect landing, he was met face-to-face with Zaerta himself. Adam paused for a moment and gulped as Zaerta’s red eyes stared deep within his. Adam stumbled to get within the formation, standing at attention in the presence of the Commander.
“As you all know, the Hellspawn incursion has struck fear within the hearts of the villagers of Unstern. Not only have they taken the life of a young boy, they have acted differently than their usual behavior. We have reason to suspect that there must be another encampment nearby, though we cannot be certain as of yet. The Hellspawn do not travel during the day, but when the sun falls, they move at incredible speed. The fact that the encampment was so close to the village has us all drowning in anxiety. However, you must not forget who you are. You are the Eight Archangels of Earth, the most elite group of Heaven’s Legion. King Gabriel has chosen you all specifically to protect this world. Our main objective right now is to find the source of the Hellspawn, and put an end to it. It is highly unlikely, but if there is a Hellgate open, we must close it at all cost, lest the festering vermin of the Lower Kingdom infest Earth.”
Everybody, including Adam, placed their right hands over their hearts and their left hands straight down their body.
“We offer our hearts to mankind so they may flourish. May the Heavens grant us strength.” the Commander said one last time before everybody replied, “Amen.”
“Zaerta, Setaurus, and Darius – you are to set up a perimeter around Unstern to guard the villagers against any possible threats.”
“Aye, Commander.” Setaurus replied at the three of them sprouted their wings and took off into the sky.
“Era and Nicholas, you will tend to the villager’s needs during this crisis. You must keep order among the growing fear.”
“Yes, Commander.” Era, the only female of the Eight replied as her and Nicholas, the master sorcerer, began walking down to Unstern.
“Quentarion, Adam, come with me.”
The two Archangels followed the Commander inside quietly.
“I have not disclosed any of the information I am about tot ell you to any of the others. The secrecy of this information is vital to keep order.” the Commander said to Quentarion and Adam, who both looked at each other in uncertainty.
“There is something drawing the Hellspawn to Unstern. What is is I do not know, but it has tempted the beasts enough to come in packs. The Minotaurs you faced earlier are nothing in comparison to what could be lurking near.”
“Why would they attack a village that is so close to the Eight’s headquarters?” Quentarion asked.
“That is the most frightening fact about this situation, Quentarion. The object luring them to the village had driven them to such lust and greed that they are willing to obtain it, no matter the cost.”
“But why keep it a secret from the others?” Adam asked in curiosity.
“Because… I have reason to suspect that one of us has implanted this… object within the village.”
A moment of silence passed by as the sudden realization that the two Archangels could not trust their own kin.
“So… how do you know it is not us?” Quentarion asked suddenly.
“I trust both of you with my life. I have watched both of you grow into incredible paragons of righteousness. I know you do not harbor the treacherous motifs that one of the others contains.”
Adam’s eyes suddenly grew bigger at this statement.
“What would you like us to do?” Adam asked the Commander with a determined look.
“Nothing for now.”
“What?!” Adam stood up from his chair and looked down at the Commander.
“One of the Eight is a traitor and you just expect me to sit idly by while their schemes come into tuition?!”
“There is nothing you can do, Adam. I need you and Quentarion to assist Zaerta, Darius, and Setaurus in defending the perimeter if the worst comes.”
“I… understand…” Adam replied rather glumly, plopping back into his chair.
“I have a feeling something will be revealed tonight. Be alert, my children.” the Commander said as he dismissed them.
As the stars began to litter the dark blue skies of the twilight dusk, the wolves howled to signal their nocturnal activity. As Quentarion and Adam sat upon the walls of the castle, they watched as Zaerta, Darius, and Setaurus fly swiftly in a triangle formation around the outskirts of the village.
They could hear quite a commotion coming from Unstern. Era and Nicholas were both surrounded by an uproar of villagers who were consumed by fear. The storm was well above them now. The howling wind made Quentarion shiver beside Adam, who simply observed the events below.
“The air smells of death.” Quentarion said as he shivered in the cold.
“Aye, it does.” replied Adam.
“If the Hellspawn do decide to take us on, they can handle it.” Quentarion said with a smile. Adam looked at him and scoffed.
“Do not speak to me as if I’m afraid of the loathsome beasts. I killed six of the bastards without even breaking a sweat.”
“Now is not the time to let arrogance take over.” Quentarion replied coldly.
“Are you going to lecture me as well?” Adam suddenly stood up. “I’ve had enough of lecturing!” he shouted as an enormous rumbling growl made the wall vibrate beneath him.
The two of them paused and looked at each other. A loud screeching howl made them both cover there ears as a massive winged beast flew overhead.
“DRAGON!!” Quentarion shouted down to Zaerta and the others. The frantic look on their faces made Adam feel uneasy. The enormous reptilian beast screeched once more, flapping its gargantuan wings. The wind from its wings caused Adam to slip off of the wall, plummeting 50 feet below.
Adam was too paralyzed in fear to react. The Dragons of Hell were supposed to be only legend – stories told by the Commander to warn us what mysterious are beyond the Hellgates.
They aren’t supposed to be real…
The dragon performed a full u-turn and began to soar toward the wall at Adam. Still paralyzed in despair, he could not regain his balance. As the jaws of the beast opened, revealing jagged dagger-like teeth and a massive forked tongue, Adam closed his eyes and prepared for his impending doom.
Suddenly, the beast stopped entirely. As Adam opened his eyes, he was shocked to see that the dragon was frozen in time, as was everything else around him. He found that he had stopped falling, and looked up to see Quentarion’s frightened face.
“Let’s go, Adam.” said the Commander as he wrapped one of his arms around Adam’s waist and carried him off into the village below. The Commander’s wings were different from the rest. Instead of a bright ivory white, their feathers were like golden silk.
The Commander gently let Adam down once they reached Unstern. As time began to catch up with them, the villagers scurried to safety in the face of the dragon, who had slammed into the wall face-first.
The Commander dropped to one knee and panted as if he had run a marathon, “Halting the flow of time isn’t like it used to be…” he said to Adam as he patted his back.
“There is no defeating the beast. Zaerta and his team are fending off the Minotaur who are attempting to raid the village. You must help Era and Nicholas evacuate the villagers through the caverns below. I wills stay behind to ensure the others’ safety.” the Commander explained.
They both heard a screeching roar from the wall that Adam fell from. The dragon had recovered, and its massive body attempted to climb the walls to reach Quentarion above. With his battle-axe in hand, Quentarion fought off the dragon from entering the courtyard. He fought with valor and fearlessness.
“Quentarion…” Adam muttered as he began to step forward. The Commander grabbed his wrist and shook his head.
“Do as I said, Adam. Quentarion can handle himself.”
“Now!” The Commander shouted. Adam looked at him for a few seconds and nodded his head hesitantly. He could hear the battle taking place outside the village between Darius, Zaerta, and Setaurus against the hungering Hellspawn. The chaos surrounding him made his mind partially clouded.
Adam stumbled to Era and Nicholas who directed the women and children down the hidden entrance of the mill that led down to the Cathara Caverns – tunnels used by the villagers if ever an emergency surfaced whether do to bandits or otherwise.
The women and children were a top priority. Many of the women were pregnant – most escaped from the cities in pursuit of a more simple lifestyle. They could not take vehicles due to the number of Hellspawn swarming the outskirts. This fact angered Adam.
To be chased like mice… is such a dishonor…
A little girl tugged on his tunic with a sob, “Have you seen my mommy?” she asked as a tear rolled down her dirty cheeks.
“What is her name, child?” Adam knelt down to look the girl in the face. She began to sob hysterically, holding Adam’s arm tightly. Adam then learned why they must run. The enlightenment of the fact angered him even more.
“Come with me. We’ll find her.” Adam spoke softly as the girl wiped her eyes. He held the child’s hand and began to walk with her to the crowd of people waiting for their turn to enter the caverns.
“Excuse me,” Adam shouted out for all to hear, “This little girl is lost, can somebody please direct me to her parents?”
The crowd gasped and backed up quickly. A look of fear in their eyes told a story in and of itself.
“Anybody?” asked Adam one last time as the girl sobbed beside him.
Adam sighed and knelt down to the girl once more, “What’s your name?” he asked.
“Vic-… Victoria…” she sobbed once more.
“Stick with me, Victoria. I promise everything will be okay.”
Victoria nodded silently and followed closely to Adam as he made his way to Era and Nicholas. As the last of the villagers entered the caves, they all sighed with relief. The battle between Quentarion and Ryder against the dragon ensued. The dragon’s fiery breath lit up the blizzard sky.
“We have to go now!” yelled Setaurus yelled as he as well as Zaerta and Darius ran from their bloody battle, covered in Hellspawn blood.
“What about the Commander and Quentarion?” asked Era pointing to the castle.
“I will stay behind to help them escape. You need to go now! Nicholas, you know the caverns well. Fly to the exit and ensure the villagers’ safety. I doubt the militia could handle any danger down there…”
Victoria gripped Adam’s hand tightly. As he looked down at the little girl, he nodded in reassurance.
“Let’s go, Adam.” Era tugged on his shoulder as Nicholas took off into the snowy skies. The rest followed them down into the deep Cathara Caverns. As Adam looked back one last time at the battle behind them, he caught a glimpse of a second dragon in the distance. Before he could react, Zaerta slammed the trapdoor closed.
“They need our help!” Adam pushed him out of the way.
“There’s nothing we can do, boy. We must get the villagers to safety as Ryder commanded.”
Adam gritted his teeth.