Archangel's Prophecy (Page 60)
“My arms would be safer.”
Listening to Galen, no one would guess that he was the one who’d placed the order for Jessamy’s custom-built plane with extra cockpit space for her wings, as well as an extra-wide door for ingress and egress. Till then, Jessamy had been borrowing the far less comfortable plane of the vampire pilot who’d taught her to fly.
Another time, Raphael might’ve used the knowledge of Galen’s contradictory actions to nudge his weapons-master into laughter, for they were not simply liege and warrior, but today, tension knotted his tendons and crackled through his veins, his eyes drawn toward Sara and Deacon’s home. He hadn’t realized how often he and Elena spoke mind-to-mind until he could no longer reach the steel and wildness of her.
Reminding himself of the silent message she’d given him about this night, he took a sip of the twenty-five-year-old Scotch that Galen had brought as a gift. It had no impact on his archangelic system, but the complex and smooth taste was pleasing. “Did you notice anything else while you were in the region?”
“Yes,” Galen said, his eyes on a small squadron of angels silhouetted against the glittering nightscape of Manhattan, on their way to relieve the guards at the lava sinkhole. “Lady Caliane says that a number of vampires and angels previously resident in China have resettled in Japan.”
“Is Favashi playing power games?” If so, it was an act of true madness. Caliane was an Ancient content with a tiny territory and who’d offered Favashi her assistance. A young archangel struggling to enforce her rule over a large territory could ask for no better ally.
But Galen shook his head. “Caliane’s people weave like smoke through the landscape, and, per their reports, these new residents are scared, their only aim to move out of Favashi’s sphere of influence.”
Raphael knew a significant number of strong angels and vampires who’d once served Caliane had quietly resettled in Japan after fulfilling their obligations under any contracts they’d signed in her absence. An archangel’s madness could be forgotten with far more ease by her warriors and courtiers than by the son she’d left broken and bleeding on a lonely field far from help.
“Leaving aside the age and strength of those who oversee various parts of Japan for my mother, Caliane is far more terrifying in power than Favashi.”
“But Lady Caliane is gentle with the people under her care,” Galen said, for he had only ever known this Caliane. Raphael’s weapons-master had not yet been born when Caliane’s madness painted Raphael’s world in pain. “Her punishments can be harsh, yes,” Galen continued, “but she only ever metes them out when the crime deserves it. She does not seek to seed fear in the veins of those who call her their liege.”
That, too, was true. Prior to her madness, Caliane had run a stable and peaceful territory renowned for its art and its scientific discoveries, her court a place that often hosted other archangelic guests. “Elijah has told me of empty towns and villages, where it appears the residents abandoned their lives and left without warning.”
“Such can’t be explained by the immigrants.” Galen’s brow was heavy. “Their numbers are limited—and it’s not poor mortal or vampiric villagers who have moved in. These are people with wealth and power enough to get out without being noticed.”
Jason, he said to his spymaster. Will you join us? He had no interest in Favashi’s games right now, not with one of Elena’s feathers lying healthy and shedded in his pocket, but those games could not be ignored.
Archangels who destabilized could take down millions with them.
When Galen filled in Jason—Raphael had already told him of Elijah’s news—the spymaster said, “I will return to that corner of the world.” His face gave nothing away. “I focused on gaining as much information about her army as I could. Clearly there are more shadows I need to penetrate.”
“You have just come home after a long sojourn, Jason.” His spymaster had walked alone for hundreds of years, even in the midst of the Seven, his aloneness a ghost he couldn’t shake. It had taken a princess from Neha’s court to pierce the veil.
“Mahiya will understand.” Light and shadow played over the curves and dots of the tattoo that marked his face. “Whatever is occurring in China, it could have implications for the entire world.”
“Elijah’s consort is reaching out to Favashi,” he told Galen, having already shared the same with Jason. “Her goal is to get an invitation to visit Favashi’s court.” Should Hannah succeed, she and Elijah would be right in the heart of Favashi’s territory.”
A cascade of whispers at the back of Raphael’s mind, hundreds of bat-winged beings settling on the buildings around the Tower, hundreds of gargoyles peering at them in interest.
“Sire.” Venom came to stand with Raphael as Galen and Jason stepped away to talk. “I know they are your Legion, but they are also creepy as hell.”
“That is very amusing coming from you,” Raphael said to this member of his Seven who enjoyed using his slitted viper’s gaze to disconcert and, at times, frighten.
“But there’s only one of me—imagine over seven hundred vampires with viper eyes staring at you.”
“You make an excellent point.”
Beside him, his eyes unshielded among friends, Venom raised his glass toward the Primary, who’d landed directly across from them. “Would you like a drink?”
Taking his words as an invitation, the Primary came to crouch on the small wall that edged the roof. When Illium walked over with a tumbler full of amber liquid, he took it.
As they watched, he sniffed it several times then drank the entire thing down in a single movement. Placing the glass on the roof wall beside him afterward, he said, “This is a thing I have tasted before.” As if he’d logged the experience against the millions of memories in his mind.
With that, he opened his silent wings and flew off to join his brethren on the buildings around the Tower. All those buildings were considerably shorter, but the attraction for the Legion was clearly the Tower roof.
They were there two hours later, when the night sky began to crack with gold. The lightning was silent and uncanny and beautiful. The white-gold filaments in Raphael’s wings vibrated in time with the strange lightning . . . and the sky, it was golden fire.
The thought raised every hair on Raphael’s arms. He’d last seen a sky full of golden fire as a youth, when Caliane executed Nadiel. The death of Raphael’s father—of an archangel—had released energy so violent that it had scarred Laric through time.
His mind reached out, searched. Elena.
A searing star above him. All that golden lightning coalescing into a single spot directly above Raphael. Flaring out his wings, he flew up while ordering the winged members of his Seven to stay down. This, he knew, was not a thing that could be dealt with by angels.
It was a thing for an archangel.
But as he flew up, he turned in the direction of the rooftop that belonged to Sara and Deacon, and though his hunter was too far for him to see, he knew she’d taken off and was flying toward him. This was not a thing for angels, only for an archangel . . . but he waited for her to make her way to him.
Aeclari, sang the Legion. Aeclari.
Then she was there, breathless and with her gray eyes stark against the lightning-lit dark gold of her skin.