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Dark Vow: Chapter 1, Part 2


Chapter 1, Part 2: Human



“Look, Papa! She’s waking up!”

The angel slowly opened their eyes to see the girl from before, her face filled with joy. Beside the girl’s beaming face were three men, the girl’s father and two others the angel didn’t recognize. One wore a white coat, while the other dressed all in black except for a single square of white at his collar. All three men look at the angel with an emotion somewhere between disquiet and reverence.

Upon seeing the angel’s eyes open, the man in the white coat moved closer.

“Miss- erm, Master? Entity? Can you understand what I’m saying?”

It still hurt to move, but breathing was bearable. “Principality.”

“Pardon?”

“My title is Principality,” the angel murmured. Or at least, it used to be.

“Principality,” the doctor said with a measure of relief. Behind him, the other two men exchanged a heavy glance. “Very good, Principality. How are you feeling?”

“Not good.”

The doctor laughed as if the angel had told a hilarious joke. “That’s to be expected! You appear to have taken quite a tumble! And your other, um, wounds…”

The angel wasn’t sure if he was referring to their battle wounds or their missing wing, but they didn’t want to comment on either to a human. Ignoring the doctor, they cataloged the aches that remained. Their wounds had been bandaged with an expert hand, which had sped up the healing process. In fact, they were further recovered than they expected.

Pushing themself into a sitting position, the angel demanded, “How long have I been asleep?”

“Several days, my dear Principality- please, don’t rush yourself!” The doctor begged. “Nice and slow now, there we are…”

Once the angel was fully upright, the doctor pulled a candle close to their face. “I’d like to examine your eyes now, if you please.”

The angel drew back. “Why?”

“To check for head injuries like concussions, my dear Principality,” the doctor explained. “It will be quick, and painless, I promise. Please allow me to do so.”

The angel couldn’t think of a reason to refuse him, so they allowed the doctor to shine the candle in their eyes. After a few moments, he shook his head.

“Fascinating…”

“What is it, Doctor?” The man in black asked.

“Her eyes- well, they don’t appear to have pupils at all! Such a strange body, Father. I fully believe that-”

“Hush!” The man in black suddenly stood up. “A word, Doctor, Master Evens? In private, if you please. Detta can watch her for us.”

“I’ll not leave my daughter alone with this thing-” the first man started, but the man in black quickly cut him off.

“She will be in no danger from our Principality friend. But I must discuss with you something important.” He turned a smile on the young girl. “And Detta is perfectly capable of keeping her company, isn’t she?”

The young girl practically vibrated with joy. “I will! Don’t worry!”

The girl’s father looked like he was going to protest again, but the doctor and the man in black each grabbed an arm and marched him from the room. Before the door swung shut, the angel caught a snatch of their hurried conversation.

“She is a complete scientific oddity-”

“Forget scientific oddity: A Principality is a high-ranking member of the heavenly host! If she’s the real thing, we might have an honest miracle on our hands…”

The voices faded as the door locked behind them. The angel strained to hear more, but the young girl immediately jumped into the bed next to them with a grin. The bounce jostled their tired body, but the angel refused to grimace.

“Hi! I’m so glad you’re okay! I was so scared when you wouldn’t wake up, but now you have and I’m so happy! I just know we’re going to be best friends! Where are you from? What’s your name?”

The angel blinked at the onslaught of words from the girl. After her tirade, she paused for breath, waiting expectantly for answers.

Slowly, the angel said, “...Lian.”

“Lian? Is that your name?” The girl clapped her hands together in delight. “That’s such a pretty name! My name’s Detta, by the way. Bernadette Sapphire Evens, but the only person who calls me that is my Momma, and only when I’m in big trouble. You can just call me Detta!”

“Okay… Detta.”

Lian shifted, and a shot of pain went through their shoulder. Hissing, they reached for their wing instinctively, only to remember that the wing was gone. Their remaining wing protruded comfortably from their right shoulder blade, but their entire left shoulder and the left side of their back had been covered with a white bandage. They felt a stinging pain, and the white started to bleed through with red.

“What- what’s this?”

“The Doctor cleaned your wound and bandaged it,” Detta said, her earlier enthusiasm melting away. “He and Papa don’t know what to do with you. They wondered if you were from a circus or something, but Father Hampton thinks you might be a real Angel. Is that wing real? How did you lose the other one?”

Instead of answering, Lian extended their wing. It brushed up against Detta when she leaned closer, the white feathers tickling her nose underneath her wide, disbelieving eyes.

“Can I… touch it?” She breathed.

Shifting under the girl’s stare, Lian nodded. Detta traced the downy feathers on the ridge of their wing, then fingered one of the larger feathers closer to the edge.

She giggled, exclaiming, “It’s so soft!”

“...Yes, it is.” Lian looked down, fisting the material of the blanket that covered their lap.

“Lian?”

The angel looked up to see Detta’s frown as she stared at their wing. “What is it?”

“Does this mean you really are a real Angel?”

“I’m…” Lian started, then bit their lip. “Yes, I was an angel.”

Detta’s eyes grew wide again. “A real Angel? From Heaven and everything?”

The angel gripped the flesh of their upper arm, their knuckles whitening. “Not anymore.”

“Because you hurt your wing?” Detta clasped a hand over her mouth. “Does that mean you can’t go back?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“What will you do now, then?”

Lian swallowed tightly, thinking of the home they might never see again. “I don’t know.”

Detta frowned, then she threw her arms about Lian’s middle, gentle but insistent. “Then you can come home with us! We can be sisters!”

“Sisters?”

“Yep, sisters!” Detta grinned. “That’s another thing the Doctor was confused about. He couldn’t tell if you were a boy or a girl. I think that’s silly that he couldn’t tell. It’s obvious that you’re a little girl, just like me!”

The angel didn’t bother to mention that angels were both genderless and sexless, concepts which only humans put stock in, so the doctor’s confusion was rightly warranted. “Why do you think I’m a girl?”

“Because your hair is long, duh!” Detta rolled her eyes. “Only boys have short hair. And because we’re both girls, we can play dolls and braid each other’s hair and have so much fun together! I’ve always wanted a sister.”

The angel fingered a curl of the blond hair that fell over their shoulder. If they couldn’t make it back to heaven, they should try to fit in with the humans. And if this Evens family would truly take them in, it might behoove them to take on a persona that pleased Detta.

“Yes, I’m a little girl. Just like you.” She smiled at the girl sitting on her bed, trying on the new identity. As she did so, she felt something inside of her click into a new configuration.

“Ha! I knew it!” Detta grinned in triumph and leaned forward so their noses almost touched. The dark material of Detta’s skirt settled over Lian’s lap. “That means we can be best friends, right?”

Lian blinked and pulled back to put the girl’s face into focus. “...Sure, we can be friends if you want.”

Sitting back, Detta wagged her finger in front of Lian’s nose. “Not just friends, best friends! Friends that do everything together and never let anything come between them and like all the same things and swear that the other will always come first, even before family and boys! Bosom friends!”

“Do you… not have many friends?” The angel asked, watching the overeager gleam in Detta’s eyes.

“It’s hard to make them!” she complained, leaning back to brace her hands against the bedsheet. “Papa says our family’s disgraced, but I don’t know what that means. I only know that I can’t be friends with the people I used to be friends with, and he says I can’t make any new ones. I think he’s just jealous and wants me all to myself, because Mama went away on a long trip and she hasn’t come back. He’s lonely.”

“I… see. I’m sorry your Mother has been away for so long.” Lian reached out to touch the girl’s arm, but drew it back at the last moment. While her wing had been shredded, she hadn’t lost all of her angelic powers, and she could see the shadow of death that hung over Detta’s shoulders like a black shroud. She doubted her mother would ever return from that ‘trip’.

“It’s okay. I don’t need a Mama because I have you now!” Detta grinned, then hugged Lian tightly around the neck. “I’m so happy! We’re going to be best friends forever!”

After an initial shock, Lian relaxed into the contact, tension draining from her limbs. Living as an angel was exhausting. Her life up to this point had consisted of training and then being sent as fodder against a demon horde. She’d been working so hard for so long that maybe… maybe living in the human world, living away from the pressure of being an angel, wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Maybe she could have a new life here.

Without warning, the fabric between worlds ripped apart next to her bed. Lian immediately sprang into action, sheltering Detta behind her outstretched arms and wing. Instinctively, she reached for a weapon, only to remember that she didn’t have one; she’d lost it in her fall. Still, if a demon came through that hole, she would fight to protect this girl, with her bare teeth if she must.

Then a familiar face materialized from the tear, and her single outstretched wing trembled.

“Healm? Is that you?”

“Lian?” The angel swept across the room and caught her arm in a powerful grip. “When I couldn’t find you after the battle I thought… How did you find yourself here?”

“I…” Lian bit her lip, then lowered into a bow so Healm could see the damage that had been done to her body.

A sharp intake of air was the only response Healm gave. Their hands hovered above her back, but they didn’t touch her.

After a long moment, they asked quietly, “The demons did this, then? Those foul beasts caused these injuries?”

Lian swallowed against a sudden fear in her throat. “Some of them,” she said eventually. “Some were caused when I was ejected from the celestial realm.”

It wasn’t a lie, not technically, but it still tasted bad in Lian’s mouth. She was a coward who had injured herself to flee, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell Healm that. She couldn’t bear the look of disappointment in their eyes.

Detta suddenly jumped between Lian and Healm, her arms spread wide. “Leave my friend alone! She’s going to stay with me and be my new sister!”

“Detta!” Lian gasped, grabbing the girl and picking her up. “I’m so sorry, Healm. Detta, you don’t have to protect me. Healm is- Healm is like me.”

Peering up at Lian, Detta gasped, “Another Angel?”

“What is this human doing here?” Healm asked derisively, barely flicking a glance at Detta.

“She convinced her father to offer me treatment,” Lian said quietly. “Without that treatment, I would have died. I owe her a great debt.”

Healm finally turned their gaze on Detta and regarded her for a moment before nodding. “A debt that shall be paid,” they intoned. “Well, human girl? What do you desire? An Archangel can grant any wish.”

Her stranglehold on Lian tightened. “I want Lian to stay with me forever and ever and a day more and be my best sister friend!”

A broken smile fractured Lian’s face. “That’s an easy enough desire to grant. I’m grounded.”

But Healm shook their head vehemently. “Not an option. You’re returning with me.”

Surprise filled Lian as she looked up at her commanding officer. “Wh- what?”

“No!” Detta yelled, starting to cry. “I want you to stay here with me!”

“But- I failed!” Lian gasped.

“You failed, yes- but after how many wins?” Healm leaned down to make eye contact with her. “How many demons did you slay before you were defeated?”

“T-twelve,” Lian stuttered. “But that doesn’t-”

“More than any cadet that day, even those that survived unscathed. You risked your wings for the sake of the battle, and while the celestial plane does not recognize such actions, commanders do.” With a hard look, Healm gripped Lian’s arm tightly enough to leave new bruises. “I’m offering you a field promotion, Lian. If you become an Archangel, the Cherubim will fix your wings.”

New wings. Lian caught her breath, her single wing trembling. “I- I can go back?”

The angel looked at her with hard silver eyes. “Our healers have brought back those with more severe wounds. You will be fine.”

Lian could have made a happy existence here in the human world, but to have her wings back was to be whole once again. She shuddered, unable to contain her joy, when suddenly she felt an ineffective blow across her cheek, and Lian realized that Detta was hitting her in a childish fit of rage.

“No! Don’t leave me! You promised we would be best friends! Bosom friends! Sisters! You-” Detta hiccuped “-you promised!”

“Detta…” Lian turned and set the young girl on the bed.

She was pouting, her lips quivering as fat tears rolled down her cheeks. But even that wasn’t enough to sway Lian’s resolve. With a gentle smile, the angel caught Detta’s hand so she couldn’t hit anymore. “Thank you for… everything, Detta. You don’t know how much your kindness meant to me.”

“No! No! You promised!” Detta twisted violently in Lian’s grasp. “The angel man said it too! He said I could have anything I wanted! I just want you!”

Suddenly, Healm was beside Lian. They gently held Detta’s shoulders so she couldn’t throw herself off the bed. “Anything you want within reason. Money, status, virtue- all these we can grant, in time. But having an angel all to oneself is too much for a human.”

But Detta refused to be comforted. She stopped squirming, instead sagging onto the bed with a great hiccuping sob.

Then suddenly, Lian realized something. “Healm, why are you here?”

Healm frowned. “I’m bringing you back to the celestial realm.”

“Yes, now, but you didn’t know it was me at first,” Lian said quickly. “How did you find me in the human world?”

“Oh.” Healm’s expression smoothed. “I was searching for survivors after the battle, both from our side and the opposition. Cases like yours are rare but not unheard of, so I always scan the human realm just in case.”

Lian nodded, her mind whirling.

“Does that mean Archangels have the power to visit the human world whenever they like? So long as it doesn’t interfere with their duties?”

They frowned. “Technically we do, but I don’t see the relevance.”

“I do.” Lian leaned down so she was at eye level with the crying girl. “Detta, can you listen to me?”

Wiping away her tears, Detta nodded.

“You’re a good girl, and I wish I could stay here and be your sister,” Lian said quietly, petting the top of her hair. “But I’m very sick, Detta. You did a wonderful job helping the Doctor keep me alive, but I need an angel doctor to make me all the way better again. Don’t you want me to be fixed?”

Slowly, Detta nodded, her tears drying to a trickle. “You have to go away… to get better?”

Lian nodded. “Yes, I do. But,” she added, her eyes twinkling, “if you keep being a good girl, I’ll be able to come back and visit you. How does that sound?”

Detta turned wide eyes on Lian. “Would you really come back to visit me? Will you come back every day?”

“Not every day, but I’ll come as often as I can,” Lian laughed gently, then turned to Healm. “I’m ready to go.”

Healm regarded her with hard eyes, but did not comment on her actions. “Then take my hand.”

They extended a hand to Lian, but before she could take it, Detta pulled her back.

“Wait! One more thing!” She yanked Lian closer so she could press her mouth to the angel’s cheek. With a smack of her lips, she released Lian, looking pleased with herself. “Goodbye, Lian! I can’t wait for you to come back and visit me again!”

For a moment, Lian just stared at Detta, her hand pressed to her cheek. New and strange emotions ran through her, leaving her disquieted. Murmuring a quiet goodbye, she took Healm’s hand.

The last thing Lian saw of the human world was the door slamming open, revealing the three men who were talking just beyond. Detta’s father had a slack-jawed expression as Lian gave him one final nod, leaving Detta to explain.

In the time it took to blink, Lian and Healm were back in the celestial plane. They stood on a bridge in the city of the angels, high above the battleground. The tear closed behind them, healing as if it had never existed.

Her hand still pressed to her cheek, Lian turned to Healm. “What… was that? That thing she did to me? She did it once before, too.”

“The thing with her mouth?” Healm frowned. “I see humans do it often. I believe it may be called a kiss.”

“A kiss…” Lian murmured, tracing the shape of Detta’s lips on her cheek. “It… was nice. We should do more human things like that.”

“There is no need to emulate humans. I don’t know why you even bothered to promise that girl you’d come back.” Healm turned and walked away. “Come. It’s time to fix your wing.”


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Welcome to Story Arcs & Subplots! This is my personal blog where I post anything and everything related to stories, including some original works. I believe in the power of creative media to cultivate a positive change in our culture with diverse and open-minded storytelling. 

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