Archangel's Prophecy (Page 46)
Tepe said a little prayer while his friend spoke.
“I kept my head down, never knew anyone could be that angry and that icily calm. But”—Vernon’s voice dropped—“it was hard to ignore the screaming.”
“Well, the lad shouldn’t have signed on the dotted line if he didn’t want to play by the rules. Near-immortality’s no feckin’ free lunch.”
Elena moved to steer the conversation away from any specifics on Harrison’s punishment. “Anyone—other than Claire—on Andreas’s staff who might know more?”
After a short discussion, the two offered her a couple of other names.
However, when she found those members of staff, they were cooperative but didn’t have much to give her.
“He does his work and he goes home,” the male said. “Doesn’t hang around to chat.”
“Harry knows his wife and baby are going to die before him,” the female added, her lips downturned. “Can’t blame the man for wanting to spend every minute he can with them.”
Her partner nodded. “He’s the only one of us who has a kid, so we all get why he doesn’t party with us when we have time off. Must be sad as f**k to think of outliving your little girl.”
Yes, “sad as f**k” described it perfectly.
The end result of Harrison’s devotion to Beth and Maggie was that he didn’t have any close friends among the staff. No one to whom he’d speak his secrets. But she had the Jade angle to follow.
Considering her next move, she walked to the front of the house without going inside then headed to the cliffs that edged Andreas’s property. Her takeoff was a smooth glide over the Hudson . . . and it took teeth-gritted concentration on her part to make that happen. Her wings felt heavier, less responsive to her control on takeoff. But once up, she felt no undue stress and decided to continue on rather than detouring to the infirmary.
She had to use her time wisely. She knew others would pick this up if she was grounded but, as long as she was mobile and could think, she couldn’t stop in the hunt. She needed to keep this monster from reaching the door, keep a little girl’s life untainted by torture and death.
The Legion flew with her on silent wings. When the Primary came close, she said, “Can you share your energy with me in other ways?” If they could, she might be able to extend her safe operating hours.
“We did not share energy,” the Primary said. “We pushed the other energy out.”
Elena considered that. “Could you do it again?”
“The other energy is of the Cascade. It is . . . deep.” In the pause that followed came hundreds of whispers at the back of Elena’s mind. “We can try again, but we may fail, should the power surge.”
“Better than nothing,” Elena said, then reached into a pocket to grab her phone. Calling Vivek, she asked for the addresses of the other two members of Andreas’s “trio of fools.”
“Sorry, Ellie,” Vivek said after running the search. “Terence Lee and Nishant Kumar used to live in the Quarter, but as of two months ago they’re permanently unavailable.”
Elena’s hand tightened on the phone. “Why didn’t this come up when Blakely and Acosta were found?”
“Because no one knows if these two were stabbed, decapitated, or mutilated. Lee and Kumar were turned into crispy critters so fried their bones cracked from the heat. Their shared apartment went up in flames.”
Raphael landed on the border between his and Elijah’s territory after a long flight from New York. Elijah had flown approximately the same distance from his home. A number of birds of prey sat on the branches of the tree under which he waited for Raphael.
“I see you have an escort,” Raphael said.
“They can be possessive creatures.” Elijah, dressed in worn leathers of dark brown, drew him into a backslapping hug.
Raphael returned the gesture because he knew it was meant in good faith. “You are well?” he asked afterward. “How is Hannah? I am instructed to tell you to say hi to Hannah from Elena.”
“I have been given much the same task.” Elijah’s hair glinted gold even under the dappled sunlight, his smile open. “Hannah and I are content. It is good to have peace, and to be able to remain at my home with my consort—and the vast array of creatures who consider my court their personal playground.”
The Cascade had brought with it new powers for all of them. Where Raphael had inherited the Legion, Elijah had gained the ability to control cats both large and small as well as birds of prey. The wild beings were drawn to him, like metal to a magnet. “No one will ever again be able to sneak up on you at least.”
“There is that.” Elijah held up an arm clad in a heavy leather gauntlet, and a large eagle flew to land on his forearm, its claws closing tight. Rubbing the fingers of his free hand over the creature’s head, the bond between the two apparent, Elijah said, “I think you bring me no good tidings, Raphael.”
“No, though I would be glad for any you have to share.”
“I’m afraid I will disappoint you.” Elijah lifted his arm so the magnificent bird could fly aloft into the sky once more.
After watching the eagle soar against the gray-blue of the sky, the two of them fell into step beside the tree-shadowed stream that was their meeting point.
“Jason has come back with disturbing reports of Favashi gathering an army,” Raphael told his fellow archangel. “It’s concentrated near her stronghold.” A stronghold that had been built for Lijuan by an architect gifted and tragic.
“My spymaster has not returned home yet,” Elijah murmured. “I thank you for the warning, and I have something I can share with you in turn.” He folded back his wings even tighter, his feathers a pure white. “The reason my spymaster isn’t home is that he’s investigating reports of ghost villages on the edges of Favashi’s territory.”
“People missing or killed?”
“The very question he seeks to answer.” The sunlight spearing through the canopy highlighted the strong angles of Elijah’s face. “The villages are rumored to just be sitting there empty, as if the residents had simply stepped out for a moment and been sucked into the ether.”
A long silence filled only with the sound of water tumbling over rocks.
“We are both thinking the same thing,” Raphael said as they came to a halt at the curve of the stream.
“Lijuan Sleeps,” Elijah pointed out. “An archangel in Sleep cannot affect the external world. Else chaos would reign.”
“Lijuan was no ordinary archangel when she went into Sleep. She is the only one of us who has ever been able to turn non-corporeal.” Raphael thought of the old voice in Elena’s head, her sense of a being that was stirring awake. “It’s also possible she’s begun to come out of Sleep and to interact with the world once more.”
“I see your point.” Eli didn’t flinch when a gyrfalcon most likely resident in Raphael’s territory winged over to land on his right shoulder, its claws curling into the leather that now reinforced the shoulders of all Elijah’s shirts and tunics. “Do you think she is feeding on the disappeared?”
The suggestion wasn’t an outlandish one, not when it came to this one archangel. During the course of their battle above New York, Raphael had seen the dried-out husks of the ill-fated from whom Lijuan had sucked their life force. “It’s possible—I have a theory that she has found a way to create a reservoir of power for her eventual return. That is why she went into Sleep. To glut herself.”