An Army of Angels
This story was originally published in the pamphlet for Grissecon, the first ever Wraeththu fan convention, back in Oct. 2003. It was written by the creator of the original Forever web site, Mischa, who passed on duties to me several years back. -Wendy
Title: An Army of Angels.
Author: Mischa Laurent
Disclaimer: All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. ‘The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit’, ‘The Bewitchments of Love and Hate’, ‘The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire’ and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringements on the copyrights are intended. These stories are for personal enjoyment only and should be reproduced, electronically or otherwise, only for this purpose and never for profit of any sort.
Notes: This fanfiction is set in the period prior to the beginning of the trilogy and is based on quotes from The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, which read:
“What did Ashmael say when he saw you?” I asked. Vaysh’s glassy eyes did not flicker.
“Say? What do you think? A long time ago, I died in his arms.”
My thanks to my betas and editors for their invaluable assistance thus far and in particular to Storm herself, for asking me to write it in the first place.
Dedication: To my daughter, Tiffany; congratulations on the commencement of your first Wraeththu book and here’s to many more!
An Army of Angels
The breeze lifted the smoke and carried it away. It also brought to their ears the screams and pleas of the dying warriors below. Vaysh curled his lip in distaste over the scene and turned his head to his companion.
“Must we linger here?”
Ashmael calmed his restless horse with his hands, never taking his eyes from the celebrations of the victors below them.
“We need to see which way they go when they leave, Vay. Can’t have them turning up on our doorstep.”
Vaysh looked downhill once more. The celebrations showed no signs of abating; the warriors in their paint and finery gathered around one of the burning vehicles, whooping and hollering, their weapons held above their heads, while to their left, their fellows searched through the bodies, stealing from the corpses and summarily executing any who still lived.
“They look like Indians in an old movie.” He observed, disgustedly.
Ashmael gave a short laugh. “Someone down there probably saw the same film you did.”
All afternoon they waited on their hilltop for the bandits below to gather themselves and depart. The horses grazed on the other side of the hill, tethered to prevent them wandering up into view.
Ash appeared perfectly relaxed, chewing on a stalk of grass, his long lean body laid out comfortably, but the watchfulness of his eyes told the truth.
Beside him, Vaysh contemplated the scenery, refusing to give the carnage below any more credence by witnessing.
The rolling hills to the north gradually gave way to the sharper gullies and peaks where he and Ashmael sat. The summit of the mountain that protected them rose abruptly from the earth behind him, covered by cloud and mist, even on the clearest of days. Within this maze of networking valleys, dead ends and sudden rises, lay the small town they called home.
Formerly an isolated human town, Basik was a home to disaffected Wraeththu seeking shelter from the tribal storms that rocked the land and had grown into a quite sizeable community, one that Ashmael was in charge of protecting.
Vaysh had little to do with the town’s defence. He had ridden out with Ash today, merely to spend some time alone with the har with whom he was chesna. They had seen so little of each other lately, that even the prospect of spending the day patrolling the rough hills on horseback had seemed a bearable idea.
Coming across the raiders in the middle of their murderous rampage had been the vilest of misfortunes. Ash may well be used to such sights, but Vaysh, insulated by his duties on the council had not seen much of fighting and death for the longest time. Not since he and Ashmael had first set out to find Basik, footsore and weary, drawn by stories of a place hidden in the hills where Wraeththu lived in peace.
“Why do they do it?” He sighed. “Why can’t they just . . . get along?”
The question was rhetorical, but Ashmael answered anyway.
“Because death always accompanies birth. It’s the nature of the beast, Vay.”
It was an old argument, one they had had many times before and now as then, there seemed no fitting comeback. Still, he tried.
“I can’t accept that.” He shook his head sadly, pale hair flying about his face like wind-whipped silk. “We are . . . better than this.”
“Supposedly.” Ashmael disputed. “Not yet, though. Not until the first throes are over. Until there are more who think as we do and less who see this as an opportunity for profit or power.”
“Inception is supposed to burn away our humanity.” Vaysh argued. “Har like those down there need guidance, need to be taught the proper way. Not killed on sight.”
“Vay, your lost lambs would murder us all without even blinking. Don’t delude yourself.” Ashmael turned toward his chesnari, a smile on his face to soften the words. “I know your intentions are all good and don’t get me wrong, it’s a noble cause and one I subscribe to heartily. What we disagree about is the timing.
You want it all now; I think it is going to take time. Time and a couple of generations removed from . . . this.” He illustrated his point with a sweep of his arm toward the dying fires below, the bodies and the drunken, staggering hara who had caused it.
“But we can’t progress if we don’t begin.” Vaysh voiced the argument that had been doing the rounds of the council lately. “We have to start somewhere.”
“True. We do. We start small, build our numbers, then we enforce. As much as you would like to picture all the warring tribes as misguided and misinformed, the truth is that they enjoy living the way they do. They chose it, Vay. Just as we chose to seek a different way. Superior strength is the only thing they respect. Only that will make them listen.”