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Two pale figures stood in the mist, at the edge of a lake. They both stared out at the whirlpool in the center. Bright wings glowed through the fog. Darkness filled the sky, a blue quarter moon and purple sun dancing slowly around each other at opposite ends of the sky. A gentle breeze carried the cries of newborn babes and the sighing last breaths of the dying, in rhythms reminiscent of the push and pull of ocean waves.
“I wonder which soul will be next.” One angel said to the other.
“Shenti, with the realms in disarray, we may have riots to deal with before any new souls make their way here.” The other angel replied. She sat on the lush, soft golden grass. Her red hair dancing slightly with the breeze. Her eyes closed, and head tilted, as if concentrating hard on the sounds of their home. She sighed.
“The last of the archangels, reduced to eternal guard duty,” she said, almost bitterly.
Shenti chuckled. He knew she didn’t mind. She loved this realm. Just as much as he loved her. He gazed at her beautiful face, admiring the way her battle gear sat on her body. How her feathers seemed to glow a gorgeous shade of silver and green.
‘Nine eons with you, Taluhlah, and I still don’t know how to put into words how I feel about you,’ Shenti thought.
Taluhlah opened her eyes, and turned to look at Shenti. Shenti blushed, standing up quickly. “We should probably patrol the borders.” He said nervously.
Taluhlah stood up, and turned to walk in the opposite direction.
“I’ll check the list to see if anyone is ready to make their next transition on the way. Meet back here in one cycle.” She said, as she made her way down her route.
Shenti looked up at the celestial bodies above him. One celestial cycle, when the sun and moon have danced around each other one full time.
Without looking at her, he called out. “Best wishes!” Then made his way down his own separate path.
Halfway through her patrol Taluhlah reached the gate she checked the scroll that floated next to the gate, an apple-sized portal that connected the Fountain of Youth to the other realms of the Nexus. But no new names had appeared, she waited a few moments, in case an eager soul had sidetracked the process for reincarnation.
No souls appeared, and on the other side of the gate, all she could hear were the echoes of the riots scattered throughout the Nexus. Taluhlah turned and began the last leg of her patrol.
The whole of the Nexus faced unrest, a member of the destiny council had broken the most sacred of laws. The great eternal Faith, had fallen in love and became jilted in her once balanced passions. It seemed the council had become tyrannical, and segregation between beast and humanoid entities was all anyone could talk about. The few who could keep their heads in the midst of the madness knew it was the ruler of Perdition who had corrupted Faith, and the rest of the council.
Taluhlah was lost in thought when the Gate expanded, vibrating and glowing bright. Someone had shot through it, landing awkwardly into the grass. Taluhlah turned around, smiling warmly, thinking a soul had just popped through ready for its transition. She was excited about finally escorting someone for the first time in ages.
“Welcome to the—” Taluhlah gasped, no soul had come through the gate. Instead, it was another angel.
As tall as Taluhlah was he laid, splayed on the grass and shirtless with blood red hair and squinty black eyes. He held a sword in one hand, and he rubbed his head with the other and he took in his surroundings. His pants were dark blue and torn in a few places throughout each leg. He was barefoot, and one of his pearlescent pink wings looked broken at an odd and painful angle.
“Hairoku! What’s happened?” Taluhlah shrieked as she ran over to her kinsman, and helped him to his feet. He scrambled to his feet and stumbled. “Taluhlah! The riots! The souls! They’re crossing the bridge! We can’t hold them back!”
Horror fell across Taluhlahs face, she spun and bent low.
“Fight off who you can, I’ll be back with Shenti. Can you call the allies?”
“They’re on their way! Artemis gathered them. They sent me ahead to warn you. Don’t worry about me we need all the help we can get!” Hairoku called back.
Gripping his sword in his hand, and building the energy of a plasma ball in the other.
Taluhlah took flight, beating her wings as hard as she could, flying fast across the lake. ‘Please don’t let them get through before we get there.’ She prayed desperately as she flew.
Shenti was walking slowly, lost in thought whilst looking up at the sky.
“Shenti!” Taluhlah shouted.
Shenti jumped out of his stupor and looked over at Taluhlah flying towards him. He could see the serious look on her face and jumped up to meet her in the air.
“There’s no time to explain here! Hurry! Follow me!” Taluhlah said as she turned back to where she came from.
“Explain on the way!” Shenti replied as he followed her. He grabbed her hand, and flew ahead of her, pulling him with her. He was much faster in flight than Taluhlah, his wings slightly larger than hers.
“The riots have bled into the realm. Hairoku came through the gate and warned me, but there is a horde of souls on the verge of breaking through! I don’t know how the council has let things get this far!” Taluhlah explained.
“Is anyone handling the problem at all?” Shenti asked as they flew.
“There wasn’t much said about the whole situation, there wasn’t much time,” Taluhlah replied.
Fear struck Shentis face, nothing in the whole of the nexus could die, he wasn’t sure if he could fight off a horde of souls desperate to get into the fountain of youth. How would the population increase affect the living worlds?
By the time they arrived at the gate between the realms, chaos had erupted from the gate. Hairoku, Artemis, Thanatos, Axel, and a few other friends were nowhere to be seen among the rioters. Taluhlah murmured holy words under her breath and turned to face the edge of the lake. She plucked one feather from her wings, and threw it at the lake, and cast her hands in front of her. Before her, a wall erupted around the lake, iridescent, purple, but almost see through. It looked thin and delicate.
“That wall is as strong as the source, the souls shouldn’t be able to get through there!”
Shenti landed on the golden grass and began tossing the weaker souls back through the gate. Hairoku, looking as if he was having the time of his eternal life, was chopping soul after soul into many pieces, and throwing them at his twin brother Thanatos.
Thanatos chuckled and looked a bit dismayed as he looked at the growing pile of the pieces of souls.
“For a guardian angel, you sure enjoy being destructive!” He called out jokingly, as he threw the pieces back through the gate.
Hairoku wasn’t listening, he slashed through soul after soul, all while keeping a vigilant eye on Taluhlah, who was tackling a soldier of perdition.
Artemis was using her archery skills to bind souls to her arrows, throwing what looked like a mass of shishkabob's through the gate, one arrow at a time.
Axel, was chanting, as he walked calmly through the horde of souls. He touched each one, with his hands, and putting each soul into a restful sleep like state.
The battle raged on, and it seemed that for every soul, soldier, and deity sent back through the gate, five more came through in their place.
Taluhlah had been backed against her wall, and from Shenti’s perspective it looked as if she was about to be crushed. He beat his wings and let out a rush of wind, knocking a pathway between the souls to get to her side and aid her.
Hecate burst through the gate wielding the staff of Hades. In a business like fashion, she raised his staff and murmured under her breath. Light shot out of the staff, obliviating the chaos in one motion. It blinded all entities in the vicinity of the small realm. It shattered Taluhlahs wall and any souls near the edge of the lake were blasted into the fountain of youth. Souls closer to the edge of the realm, which were blasted into the void. Into oblivion. Those souls safest, in the middle of the grass, were merely left unconscious.
Hecate, lowered the staff, smiled as if she were satisfied with herself, and stepped back through the gate, looking far too satisfied and busy with herself to clean up the aftermath of what could have been mistaken as a spiritual nuclear bomb.
Hairoku looked around, short of the unconscious souls the devastation seemed to have repaired itself in an instant.
“Okay everyone, sound off!” he called out. Artemis patted Hairoku on the back.
“Here!” she exclaimed. Thanatos responded next, followed by Axel and the others.
“Shenti? Taluhlah?” Hairoku called out, noting they had not made an attempt to note their presence.
There was no response.
“What’s with Hecate?” Artemis asked, clearly more concerned with the fact that Hades was without his staff than if anyone had gone missing.
Axel had started throwing the unconscious souls back through the gate, and Thanatos had begun to help.
“Hades has been busy dealing with other events, he lent his staff to Hecate to stop the riots, they’ve become a plague among the Nexus.” Thanatos answered Artemis.
Hairoku wasn’t listening to anyone, he paced the nearby area looking for Shenti and Taluhlah, who were still nowhere to be seen. The more he searched the more distraught he became.
“I can’t find her anywhere!” He cried out.
Artemis patted his back, “Does anyone remember seeing where they were when the fountain was hit?” Artemis asked.
“They were on the edge of the lake. Beating back the rioters,” Thanatos replied.
“Oh no!” Exclaimed Kione. She looked out at the lake. “I think they fell into it.” She continued as she pointed at the fountain of youth.
“Hairoku, what are you doing?” Artemis asked, noticing his frantic frustration, as he searched the pockets in his pants.
But Hairoku wasn’t listening anymore. He looked horror-stricken, as he searched his pockets. Finally finding what he was looking for, he pulled out a pearlescent flower, ate it and darted towards the lake.