In The Darkness

What she would find that day would change the world she lived in. Ancient pages would show her things that no one would ever believe and lead her to a land beyond her home town of Lockley.
Louisa McCain discovers an old diary in her basement, that tells her of a fantasy land that she could only dream of. She slowly gets entranced by the idea of the beyond, the potential that it holds. She becomes obsessed with finding this place called Philia, frantically scrambling to put together the clues and find the portal.
If she does, will it all be what she imagined or will she be plunged into a world that she wishes she'd never found?

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16. Sixteen

We had all stayed in the house that night and day, sleeping until the sun was blazing high in the sky. We all woke up refreshed and prepared for the new day and the events that it would bring with the sinking of the sun.

I sat in what used to be the living area, leaning against the wall with its wallpaper peeling off and torn in various different places, revealing the pink plaster beneath. The floor was void of any warmth, baring its naked wooden floorboards to all that went inside, cursing their feet with its unforgiving coldness. A beam lay strewn along the centre of the floor, scatterings of dust and debris surrounding it, outlining its fall that had happened sometime in the past. Where the beam had fallen, a crack scarred the ceiling, giving me a view of a streak of light stained by the dust that floated carelessly around in the beam of light.

All the wolves had gone out into town to buy some necessities that they would need for the length of the battle, which was, as of yet, unknown. It left me and Elara to wait around the house, picking at its flaws and finding every spot where it was coming apart at the seams. I had wandered around the whole of the house at least twice already, meandering through the rubble that lay motionless on the ground. I had seen every inch of the place, every leak and spot of damp that there was to be seen.

The door slammed open, its hinges squealing in protest. A shadow stood in the doorway. I scampered behind the chimney breast, standing up and breathing in. I wanted to peek out and see who was there, but I had no idea who it was. I doubted the wolves would make such a sudden entry, so it was most likely someone else. An unwanted visitor.

Elara sat at my heels, looking up at me, and fear in her cornflower blue eyes. I knew it wasn’t them for sure now. Elara would surely know if it was them.

“I know you’re here, mutts.” The voice called out, anger burning through, “Give me back what is mine.”

A foot fell on the creaky boards, thudding as it dropped to the floor, shaking the house in its rickety foundations.

“I can smell you in this rancid place. Come out, come out wherever you are.” The voice called again, sounding like the person was gritting their teeth. The intruder was clearly male from the deeper tones of his voice and the heavy footfalls that continued to progress towards me.

The dust flew backwards in the draft the invader was creating. Maybe it was an angel. Maybe it was and archangel. Maybe it was Zach.

I wanted so badly to just see who it was and what they were doing here. The urge to just peer around the wall was almost overwhelming but I couldn’t. If it was one of the angels, they would see me and take me back to Zach in an instant. Or if it was Zach himself, he would probably murder me then and there on the floor, burning our plan to ashes in a blaze of fire as he tortured me to death on the dusty floor.

Elara was the one that finally took the leap, poking her small, black nose around the corner, followed by one of her eyes. As soon as she had had a glimpse of the intruder, she shot back in, looking me straight in the eye. It was clear to me that this person was unwelcome and unexpected. Their footsteps got closer and closer. A slow thudding rhythm pounded the floorboards. My breathing got shorter and sharper. A shadow crept along the floor, pulling itself along by the shaft of light from the still open door. The tip of a polished black shoe came into view. My back was pressed flush against the wall. Elara cowered against my legs.

“Hey!” Someone shouted from the door way. The intruder looked back to see who was there but was too late to prevent the wooden club whacking him round the head and knocking him out. An ear-splitting crack echoed around the room, followed by a muffled thud as the body fell to the floor.

I waited for a moment, unsure of how safe it really was, even though the angel was now sprawled out on the floor, its face downward facing and its wings lying limp either side of its muscular body. I peered around the corner, seeing four silhouettes lining the doorway, standing confidently with weapons brandished and armour equipped.

“Are you alright, Louisa?” the familiar voice asked, sounding stern and stony, like the general of an army.

I ran into the comfort of Xander’s arms, my body shaking from the fear of almost being found. Tears streaked down my cheeks, pattering on the silver breast plate that I was hugging like my life depended on it.

A hand rested in between my shoulder blades, running up and down the length of my spine to sooth me. It did the complete opposite. It made me cry even harder at the thought that, after tonight, I would never feel this way again. I would probably never see Xander again, even if I went to Lockley Park every single new moon. I knew he would want to avoid me after he had sent me on my way. He wouldn’t want to ever get close to me after that time on the night of the official’s ball because of what he knew was inevitable. My departure.

“Ok.” He said, pushing me away from him, salty tears still staining my face, “We have got the weapons. We have rested up. We have our plan in place. All that is left to do now is to wait, correct?” Xander’s face was expressionless, the stone work of a true leader that showed nothing but steely concentration that would not waver for anything.

“We need to get rid of this angel before he wakes up.” Sam said, gesturing towards the unconscious body on the floorboards.

“No. We shall keep him here in the attic. If we have a hostage, the angels will be distracted from Louisa’s escape and concentrate more on getting their comrade back, rather than finding Zachariel’s food source.” Xander replied, thinking strategically about every detail of the plan.

“Do we know which angel it is? An identity or where they come in the hierarchy would be helpful so we know how much of a distraction this angel will be.” Alex asked.

Xander marched over to the body and picked up the angel’s face by the back of his shirt. I recognised the face instantly as that of Raphael, one of the archangels that had been at the ball. The fight between him and Harriet Shaw forced its way into my mind’s eye, replaying all the shouting and screaming that had gone on between the two of them.

“I know who it is.” I said strongly, taking a step forward into the shaft of light that rained down from the ceiling. All the wolves looked at me expectantly, wanting to know who the hostage was.

“It is Raphael, one of the seven archangels.” I announced, causing grins to break out on the face of every single wolf, except Justin. His face fell at this discovery, his face visibly slackening.

I looked at him, trying to figure out what was wrong with him. Shouldn’t he be happy that we had one of the most powerful angels as bait, like the others?

He stormed off out the door, slamming it forcefully shut as he left. The house shuddered as the door smacked into the frame, making a cloud of dust rain down from the insecure rafters. The smiles fell off the faces of the others, replaced by confusion and scrunched up brows. No one knew why Justin had just walked out like that. He was always the quiet one, with nothing much to say, so I knew next to nothing about the dark haired, square jawed man.

“I’d better go after him; check he’s ok.” Sam said, opening the creaking door and shutting it gently.

Silence fell among the rest of us as we stared at the now securely shut door as the dust settled on the floorboards.

Raphael lay motionless still, the only sign he was still alive was the slight rise and fall of his back that indicated he was breathing. I tried to connect the dots. Why had Raphael caused Justin to get all angry and storm out onto the street? I scrolled through any memories I had of both of them, thinking back mostly to the fight between Harriet and Raphael.

Then it struck me, like a bolt of lightning out of nowhere. Harriet had said on the night of the ball that she had fallen in love with someone. Raphael had then started calling Harriet’s love a dog and an ugly beast. Harriet had then retorted, saying that her werewolf wouldn’t let him get to her. Justin must have been that werewolf that she had fallen in love with. That’s why Raphael caused such an incensed spark in Justin when I mentioned his name.

I decided to keep it to myself, not wanting to share that private information with the others. It was not my tale to tell and I wasn’t definitely sure I was correct yet either, so I wouldn’t want to cause such a stir, especially today.

A few minutes later, Sam and Justin walked back into the house, Justin visibly calmer than he had been before. He still looked tense as he entered the same room as Raphael, but had obviously been calmed down by Sam outside the house.

“You ok now, Justin?” Xander asked all business. Justin gave an acute nod, vaguely looking in the direction of Xander before glaring at the unconscious angel on the floor.

“We’ll have to take him up to the attic and restrain him before he becomes conscious again. Sam, you can help me.” Xander ordered, marching off up the rickety stairs that were only half there now after years of rotting and abuse. Sam followed after him, Raphael slung over his shoulder. He shot Justin a look, asking if he was ok, then walked after Xander obediently.

“Why is this house such a wreck?” I asked out of the blue.

“It’s always been like this; as far back as I can remember.” Alex said, absorbed in his thoughts. “It was back at the time of the war. This place was burned by the angels and all that was left was this mess of a place that has never been brought back to its former glory. We have never had the time to, but have used it as a base ever since we discovered the place.”

I looked around now, seeing the black scarred wood and burnt edged wallpaper that had been burnt all those years ago. The damp was surrounded by rings of ash, showing patches where water had been thrown to save the place that seemed so normal, yet meant so much to these people.

“Why does it make such a good base though? It’s a mess.” I asked, not understanding how such an unstable structure would make a good base.

“It has the tunnel to the portal. That’s the main reason. Also, the angels would never expect us to use such an unsound structure as our stronghold because of the damage it has undergone. However, that also makes it a prime position because if it can survive a fire, it can survive any attack they throw at us.” Alex explained.

I now saw why they had chosen this place. It had a good vantage point and was well hidden amongst the rows of houses that lined the alleys and streets of the village. It was like all the rest of the houses, except it bore more scars of the past than the rest.

I pulled a heavy velvet curtain aside from one of the small windows at the front of the house. The sun was just dipping below the line of roofs, cautiously sinking lower and lower in the expanse of blue that was now burning brighter and brighter with the sun’s fiery orange flame. Normally, where there would have been a moon rising in the sky, there was nothing to be seen. The white circular shape had fully disappeared from sight, leaving the world to get darker and darker as the sun dipped lower below the horizon.

Xander and Sam descended the stairs at a run, charging to the ground floor and picking up their weapons.

“Is everyone ready?” Xander asked, looking around at everyone as we all nodded our heads.

“Ok then, guys. Let’s move out. Alex, I want you to stay here and take care of the hostage with Sam and Elara. Louisa, I would prefer it if you didn’t come with us but you need to stay with me to ensure I can quickly get you to the portal without having the hassle of having to try and find you. Justin, I want you to come with me and Louisa. We’ll need someone on look out in case any of the angels decide to pay a drop in visit on Zachariel. Are we all clear?” Everyone nodded their heads in response to Xander’s commands. “Good. Then let’s go.”

 

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