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K. L. Stewart's Dark Angels blog gives details into the characters, worlds, and inspirations related to all of the books in my Angels and Shadows series.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Angels and Shadows Chapter One.


A Mother's Plan

Shea, castle of Kristiniva
          Morning had come again with its illusions, its deceptions of light, and the dread that had come with every morning that had preceded it. Celeste laid hanging to the lasting comfort of the dream she had awakened from. She lay under the golden silk blankets woven by the quiriels, the elves of the sky. She dared not stir, for fear of waking to face the day ahead. She dreaded the mornings; for they brought a deep sadness and longing that she could often forget as she slept at night. When darkness fell she could sleep, and dream of her husband, and her old life, and live where she belonged. Now there were times when her old life, her rightful life, seemed so far away that she often tried to tell herself that it was a fantasy, but then she would look at her daughter, and be reminded that such a beautiful angel could not come from her alone. She carried so much of her father in her, that he could not be forgotten. He was a man that Celeste loved too much to have dreamed up.
          The feeling of anxiety was overpowering her. She dreaded to live, to wake, but what choice did she have? She was a dark angel, and immortal being who could not die, but who was also separated from the land in which her powers should be used in. Here, her powers had always been different, because they were not really needed. Her daughter, being only seven, was an angel of light, being bred of two dark angels. It seemed appropriate for her to be born here in the skies of Shea, where the moon filled the sky with silvery light during the darkness, and the sun filled everything with shining brilliance in the day. Angelik had never seen her true home, and Celeste felt this could be for the best. She was unsure if her child's powers would be different there, in Sark, but she knew that it was a possibility. Then again, how would she ever know if her daughter was better off here, if never given the opportunity to live in her true home?
          As she lay pondering this, there were footsteps in the nearby rooms. They were lightweight, yet full of a subtle power. It was the sound of her captor's footsteps as she prepared for the morning. Kristiniva was both her captor and savior. When her own people had betrayed her, she had been burnt alive, but since she could not die, Kristiniva took pity on the angel. She sent rain down on the land, and a deep raging storm swept through Sark, melting the snow, and flooding the valleys. When the fire was extinguished, Kristiniva gathered Celeste's pregnant, burnt body in her arms, and carried her back to the hidden land of Shea, where she nursed her back to health, and helped deliver Angelik into the world.
          There were now laws in Shea that kept Celeste here. It had been seven years that Celeste had lived in Shea, and because Kristiniva had saved her, Celeste was indebted to the sky goddess. She owed her ten years of service. Five were hers, and the others were her daughters. Her daughter would be free of a servant's life, but because she was not grown, she had to be left with her mother, and was not allowed to return to her homeland.
          She was treated more as a friend than a servant, but Celeste was kept from her duties to her god, the duties to her kingdom, all of her friends, but most painful to her was being kept from her husband who no doubt had been searching for her these seven years. She had often thought of running away, but she did not know how to get back to her homeland, and the sky goddess, although kind and pleasant, could be one of the most wrathful creatures that Celeste had ever encountered.
She laid thinking, as she did every morning, and she realized what she must do and how she must do it. It had come to her in a dream. She knew that it might not work, but she also knew that it was probably the only chance of seeing her husband again. Kristiniva feared the angels, but none more so than Victor, the angel of justice. Celeste would have to make her believe that he was trying to force his way into the land. In her dream she had been shown how to make the goddess believe he was coming. She lay preparing her emotions for the day ahead.
          Her eyes were closed, but the subtle footsteps of her captor were coming closer now, then into her room, and to the bedside. The gentle weight of the goddess sitting on the bed shifted the blankets, and Celeste faced what she dreaded more than anything. She opened her eyes pretending to awaken just now.
"Celeste," Kristiniva's voice flowed like a light wind. The dark angel opened her eyes, and felt the familiar warmth of blood swelling in her tear glands. She wiped the blood away as she sat up, careful to use a gentle hand on the right side of her face, where the scars of fire still ached and burned in a horrible disfigurement. She was sure that if she were in her homeland, she would have already healed, but things were different here.
She forced a sideways smile at Kristiniva. The right side of her face would not allow a smile. Instead, it hung limp and swollen in a constant frown.
          "Did you sleep well?" The goddess asked with her usual concern.
          Celeste only nodded her head in reply.
          When she thought about it, she realized that she had slept very well. The riddle in the dream she had been having for the past two weeks had been solved. She knew what must be done, and she felt an anxious wave pass over her with the realization that it had to be done today. She knew now that she was the weakness of her captor. Kristiniva couldn't deny that she had wronged the angels, and she feared the wrath of Victor, the angel of justice above all else.
          Kristiniva smiled; her face smooth and white as the brightest clouds of the summer sky. Her eyes reflected her mood, mirroring the morning sunshine that was getting brighter as the minutes passed. Her bright blue hair was down this morning, flowing as if in a breeze. Kristiniva reached a long, thin arm out to the angel caressing her face in a gesture that Celeste had always thought was meant to comfort her. Lately, though, she felt that Kristiniva's touch was taking power from her, like a morning ritual to drain her of strength.
The goddess spoke with a light voice, "I am glad that you are feeling well this morning. Our meal is waiting if you feel hungry."
          "Yes, I'll be there in a moment," Celeste said, straining to speak. Speech was difficult because the side of her face burned with each word she spoke.
          Kristiniva stood, towering to her full height of six and a half feet. "I'm sure that Angelik is hungry. She has been up for hours already." The goddess turned to exit the room; her flowing purple robes billowed out behind her as she glided breezily out of the door.
          Minutes passed with only the sounds of muffled voices, and light breezes blowing through the castle. Celeste smiled, hearing her daughter's footsteps approach the door. Angelik's footsteps had a distinctly light and springy pace. The sound came closer, and there was a sudden burst of energy as Angelik ran through the door, her arms outstretched to her mother. Angelik's golden curls bounced with each step she took. She had a sweet grin on her face. It was a smile that only the innocent could possess. Celeste threw her arms around her daughter, embrcing her tightly and pulling her onto the bed. The small angel let out a squeal of delight.
          "And what have you been doing this morning?" Celeste asked.
          "I've been playing with my new friend. His name is Raffie, and he's a pegasus...a very beautiful one. He wants to take me flying one day. Can I go flying with him one day?" A silence followed. Great anguish overcame Celeste, making her doubt the meaning of her dream...or at least the courage to follow through with her plan. Her daughter looked back with a stare of undeniable comprehension. She knew what her mother felt, her angelic gift allowed her to feel the emotions of others.
          "You want me to go away?" She asked, reading her mother's feelings and thoughts.
"Shhhh..." Celeste carefully and silently placed a finger over her scarred lips, leaning in closer to her daughter. Angelik came closer until their faces were almost touchng. Celeste's eyes were suddenly intense, "Darling, if you can read my soul, then you'd know the last thing I could ever want would be for you to depart from me." Celeste lowered her voice to such a small whisper that only an angel could hear it. "The time has come for us to leave Shea. We need to go home. It is the only way that I will ever truly heal, and the only way that you will meet your father. Now understand, and listen carefully." The angel took her daughter's hand, and whispered so low that not even Kristiniva could have eavesdropped.
"I cannot leave. I am bound here by the laws of this land, and it would make Kristiniva very sad if I were to leave her at the moment. You don't want her to be sad do you?" Angelik shook her head, and looked back at her mother attentively, with shining blue eyes.
          "You have to go home, and find your father. He will be able to come here and get me. I can't make any promises about how you will find him. He is a dark angel just as I am and he will be able to read your soul, if you let him in. You must tell him where I am, and have him come find me. Can you do this, Angelik?"
The small angel felt a rush of excitement pass through her. "Do you mean that you are sending me back to him? I'm going to meet him?" Angelik whispered back, a little louder than her mother had. Celeste put her finger over her lips reminding the child to keep her volume low.
          Celeste nodded her head in reply. Angelik looked into her mother's emerald green eyes, and saw determination building with a new light of purpose.
          "Yes, mother." Angelik nodded as she spoke in a voice that was just as hushed as her mother's.
Celeste looked back at Angelik with an expression that her daughter could not comprehend. The child could feel the weight of her mother's emotion bearing down on her own soul. "This is going to be harder than it sounds, honey. Things in Sark are not the same as they are in Shea. Even your gifts will be different."
"I can do it mommy!" Angelik exclaimed. Celeste put her finger to the child's lips.
          "Then here is my plan. Listen carefully, because we have no time to waste. We must begin now, at breakfast. We don't want to upset Kristiniva by telling her that we are leaving, so you must not speak a word to her about it. We must get her to agree to send you to your father. We can only do this by making it look both necessary and unplanned. I need you to pretend that you are linked to your father through a soul connection. She has seen us do it before, so you must make it look believable. You must pretend that your father is talking to you. Pretend that he is coming here. If you play your part well, she will believe that it is necessary to send you back to him. When you find him, you must tell him where I am. You must help him find me. It is the only way our family will be together again."
          The small angel reached out, comforting her mother with an embrace. "I understand mother, but I will miss you while I'm away."
          "I will miss you more." Celeste smiled out of habit from this game, but this time she meant it like never before.

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