Life After Living...

What happens when you die? Well when Evangeline finds out, her world is tipped upside down quite literally...
Terra, Para, Infernum. The three dimensions within time that coincide to create the sacred bond known as existence...

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4. Angelus Acadamai

As we walked out of the Leone household I couldn't help but notice Para was changing around us like a different advert on the TV every minute.

“What is this?” I asked motioning to all around us.

“There has to be a place where all the elements can prosper, it's like in a zoo there are different compartments to suit each animal’s needs,” Raphael explained. I could see it now; there were four elements, Aether(air), fire, earth and water. Well there was what seemed to be a seaside on the far left of us stretching out into a sea which must have gone on for miles, leaving pulpy green seaweed, shells, twigs and scrabbling hermit crabs in its wake. In the distance you could see smoke billowing from what must have been a bonfire in the jungle forestry, cradled by the tribal people as they danced to a lively upbeat melody. There was a sky scraper much taller than the empire state building as it towered high above us, which was hard to make out as it was filled with fog and the wind from above hit you like a great wave.

“Oh so we're animals now!” I joked but Raphael just rolled his eyes at me. “So what exactly do we do here on Para?” Raphael looked at me intently maybe he was surprised at the rate I was taking this all in. Maybe this whole tour thing was meant to last days, weeks even, learning of a whole new world, a whole new life, and well life after death. I expected him to comment on my endless questions but he didn't.

“Well on earth most people believe life has a purpose,” Raphael began, I nodded, “Well that purpose was to learn so that by the time you get to Para you have learnt what is necessary, well the next stage is to use that knowledge because if we didn't it would be like training in medical school to become a doctor and then becoming a shop assistant,”

“Okay but what exactly is it you do here on Para?” I asked. I swung my head to face Raphael who was very slowly sprouting wings, in the colour of, well Raphael. I looked at the angels around me, gently flowing towards their destination, I realized they all had wings.

“We use our knowledge to help people on Terra, no one is left to die alone and humans need protecting from the mortuus. But first you must spend a little while mastering your element there are fire, Aether, water and earth and one other, spirit, but it's very rare, no ones been a spirit user in a long time... anyway you should find out yours today!”

“So what's your element?” I asked as we carried on walking through a clear meadow.

“Aether, at first it was a nuisance learning how to control the levitation skills air brought but now I wouldn't have it any other way!” Raphael replied, lifting off the ground ever so slightly. “And before you ask wings are part of the uniform, I probably should have been wearing them yesterday whilst giving you the tour but they tickle a lot, I need an upgrade!”

An upgrade on wings! If I didn't know better someone back on Terra would think he was talking about a phone. “And you've just reminded me you should probably put your wings on now!”

“But how?” I asked; he was talking to me like I had been here for years rather than a day.

“Sorry, I need you to close your eyes, imagine you’re at the seaside-”

“An English seaside? Because where I'm from seasides really aren't pleasant, with the rain and more rain and let’s not forget rain-” I interrupted.

“Okay, okay let’s start again, close your eyes...imagine you’re in a garden bathed in sunlight, you lay back and relax, all your worries slipping away....there's a slow hum of birds tweeting and the softness of the sunlight shimmers through the leaves of the trees... you curl up in a ball as you sway up and down, up and down to the rhythm of the wind...”

I am so relaxed and dazed I let myself fall backwards and instead of screaming in fear as I fall to the ground like I would back on earth, I lift myself up. I don't fall down because there is no down and instead, the wings on my back lift me like the puppet strings gravity has on me have been lifted. Raphael grinned at me and I turned to the side to see the tightly clenched core of my back unfurl into the brightness of my wings. Without realising it I had altered the way I walked. I walked slower with more grace and softness but also stiffer.

“They look great, but try not to slouch because of them, it's just like growing a new tooth they'll be tender at first but they're stronger than they look!” Raphael said. He put a hand on my waist and my shoulder and instantly I felt myself relax as cool air flowed past my skin. He unravelled the strand of hair I had tucked behind my ear and he laughed playfully as it fell into my eyes. It's a new side I haven't seen to Raphael, his boyish side.

“Wings suit you Eva!” Raphael said. I stopped for a moment staring at his shadow on the pavement. It was tall and well-formed, ten times more perfect than any human could be, but then he was an angel. He walked effortlessly faster with his long strides so that I had to quicken my steps to catch up.

Soon we come to what I realised was a lift but above it was no building, well as far as I could see there wasn't one. There was a deep fog smothering the sky but it was only in this particular place. We stepped inside and the usual relaxing- awkward lift music played. 'Lift going up' the lift said but of course every button on there was up, there was no down just up1, up2 and so on. The lift opened and I had just been introduced to a palace. It was like the Garden of Eden all over again but modernised. water trickled into little channels, out of pools, bubbled out of fountains. It sounded beautiful like the melody of nature dancing on the wind. We passed a spiral staircase which wound around a real waterfall. It was magnificent the shining stairs curled around the tiny glowing rainbows as the waterfall reflected off the ever glowing staircase. Angels were everywhere young and old, but all with the same bright glow, their colours all standing out. We headed rapidly for some impressive wooden doors, carved into them were wings with water on the outer ring and fire on the inner part of the rings. Air flowed in between refereeing the fight between water and fire as plants and flowers curled round the edges, it was the four elements. On top of the door it said ANGELUS ACADEMIAE and below it said Angel Academy, which I guessed was the English translation.

“Just to warn you, Headmistress Bloom is a little, shall we say....eccentric!” Raphael said smiling. I was slightly scared by that and when he opened the door I was so glad he had warned me, because I was able to hold in a gasp. Her dark brown hair ended in flames which made me shudder (it reminded me of Gwithian), she wore several gypsy skirts one on top of another and her eyes such a deep blue they transcended into purple. Her blouse looked like it was literally made out of earth.

“Salve, Evangeline, benedictum umum!” She exclaimed. Cool air filled the room as she spoke, it was something I needed but hadn't noticed until then. ‘She said hello Evangeline, blessed one.' Raphael said through my thoughts.

“Salve!” I replied.

“Very good, you’re picking up the language well I see!” she said beckoning me to sit down. Everything in her office seemed to be alive, from the aquarium on her floor to the dancing butterflies on her wall.

“You've done well Raphael,” She praised as he blushed. “But perhaps you'd like to go back to see your friends before the welcome assembly?” Raphael nodded reluctantly and I felt unease at him leaving, without his help I would be a duck out of water. Head Bloom must have sensed this as she called him back.

“Perhaps you wouldn't mind staying a little while longer, Eva might feel more comfortable asking you questions on what I am about to tell her!”

“I wouldn't mind at all!” He said grinning. Suddenly my hair fell into my eyes with the help of his Aether magic, I shook my head at him. I hoped it wouldn't become a habit of his.

“So how did you die, Eva?” Bloom asked, tapping her fingers against the computer screen.

“I, I don’t know,” I sighed.

“Oh,” Bloom said looking at me surprised, “Not to worry, it should be on the database, all deaths are recorded.” I sighed with relief; I thought not knowing my death would become an issue. I had even imagined being marched up to the seven sorcerers and shouted at. I sat patiently, swinging lightly on the chair, my legs hitting Raphael’s every so often. He seemed unfazed, when suddenly he wrapped both his legs around mine, completely trapping me. A smile creased his face and I bit my lips afraid I would burst out laughing. We were like school children but Head Bloom hadn’t noticed; her brows were furrowed as she leant forward towards the computer screen. Something seemed to be wrong.

“Bloom, is everything alright?” Raphael asked his green eyes wide with concern.

“There’s no record of her death…” Bloom replied, “I mean I was surprised you couldn’t remember your death, normally it’s the first thing a person remembers when they enter Para, but for it not to be on the system…it’s like you never died at all.”

I felt a bead of sweat recede from my forehead, but Raphael looked at me reassuringly.

“It’s probably just a glitch to the system, computers!” Raphael said, flipping it off. I didn’t think people that calm existed.

“Your right, I will check for you tomorrow, it’s something that can wait, there are more important things for us to discuss,” Bloom agreed, thrumming her hands on the desk.

“Like the elements,” Raphael said and Bloom nodded, she seemed a bit scatter brained.

“In magical terms there are four main elements that make up this realm, earth, Air- known as Aether here on Para, fire, and water; these are the elements of nature. Each one has energy and a spirit of its own. Each has its likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. The first step in your spiritual journey is to get to know these elements. Know them as individuals, feel them, taste them, hear them, and see them every day. Get to know them for who they are, and learn their personalities well. Most of all respect them like you would your grandmother or grandfather, respect them like you would a royal or president; they are the rulers and leaders of the our world. They will come to know you as you come to know them, and will soon become powerful allies. Welcome to the magical world that has been there all along.” She paused.Magic, elements, it was all so intense. I had never thought about them in my past life, they were never something that was solidly real but right then I was learning that seeing isn't believing.

“There is earth; its nature is fertile, nurturing, stable, working, moist, grounding and gravitational. earth users tend to like gardens, canyons, caves, forests, parks, you know natural places. The element relates to; the sense of touch, and many people with the earth element have the astrological signs of: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.

The next element we are going to explore is Aether which I’m sure Raphael can tell you more about. Aether's nature is moving, fresh, suspension, sound, flying, and intelligence. This element is associated with the senses of smell and hearing and its' astrological signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Airs' time of day is dawn and aether users tend to like cold places.

fire is the next element. Its' nature is destructive, purifying, energetic, cleansing, forceful. Its' astrological signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius and if you are under those star signs you are more likely to become a fire user.

water is the final element with its' purifying, soothing, loving, flowing and healing nature. Rituals pertaining to this element are love, psychic, sleep, dreams, marriage, friendships, purification, and peace and its' astrological signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.”

“But what element am I?” I asked overwhelmed by all this information, it had only just occurred to me that in everything she had just said I was able to master one of those elements, to perform magic spells.

“Let's find out!” Raphael said. Bloom after rattling around in her desk found an old battered cooking pot, she placed it in front of me.

“Say your name three times and as soon as you have done that dunk your head into the pot until you see one of the signs!” Bloom said, she showed me what each sign would look like, fire- a flame, earth- a tree, air- the sky, water- a teardrop.

 

After saying my names three times I dunked my head into the pot and I was emerged in an indescribable bright light, a white box unravelled itself in front of me and I expected myself to see one of the symbols. But I didn't see one. I saw all of them. I blinked and blinked but I was right, every single symbol was there, earth, fire, water and Aether. I took my head out of the pot.

“What was revealed to you Evangeline?” Bloom asked.

“I saw every single symbol,” I gasped. Raphael and Bloom exchanged looks.

“Raphael I think its best you make your way to the theatre room, this may take a while, as you know this doesn't happen often...” This time without hesitation Raphael left and I was scared. I always had to be different, the odd one out, so what was it this time?

“Evangeline, you are something special, something very special indeed, there hasn't been one like you for a long time,” Bloom said but I was confused, why was I special? Bloom pressed a button and a TV screen rose from her desk.

“To some the spirit element is as much a curse as it is a gift... The element of spirit does not have the same arrangements as the physical elements, since spirit is not physical. Various different systems may associate planets, tools and so-forth but it’s far less standardized than those of the other four elements,” Bloom started. I was baffled,so very, very confused.

“Spirit,” I tested the word not at all sure what it meant and what it led me to. She handed me a book and instructed me to read the first page.

As spirit is metaphysical users can do far more than users of the standard four elements, mostly psychic abilities. Gifts range from hosting a human body to extreme powers of persuasion and mind reading stronger than the average angel. Mind communication, telekinesis and visions of future events that will affect the them in some way, aura sensory, dream walking, healing, creating illusions.

 

People on Terra have documented sightings of spirit angels as superheroes and villains. But all of this comes at a cost, spirit user’s battle depression and insanity. One of the powers of spirit is being able to step inside another person’s mind as easily as stepping through a door, this not only causes mental breakdown but physical breakdown also.

I know this is a lot to take in Eva, more than most beginner angels have to deal with and many will say to you that it’s impossible to survive with the element of spirit but I believe, your element is matched to you from the point of your birth and spirit is only given to people thought worthy of it, you have to be a very strong willed person to use it because there has never been a spirit sorcerer but I have hope in you Eva!” Bloom said, dismissing me.

 

“And Eva,” She added “I'm a spirit user!” I gasped in surprise. Spirit seemed to be more of a curse than a gift because battling with insanity didn’t seem at all a fair fight but if Bloom could do it, without entirely going mad (just about), then so could I.

 

As I stepped out into the palace hallways I felt like a new person. It was like my mind had been upgraded. The auras were bolder, brighter colours and my hearing was so sharp, I could hear every person around conversation, (it seemed they had been on school holidays). But I could feel the spirit within me, simple eye contact with a person gave me facts that most people wouldn't learn about their best friends for years. I was so enraptured with my new view of the world that when a girl came speeding past me she nearly knocked me off my feet.

“Oh, sorry!” She said her American voice clear and sweet. She pulled me up with a good hard yank. She bounced around from one foot to another like a buzzy bee; her ginger hair forced up in a messy bun similar to mine, bar the fact that my dark brown hair was frizzy. Her green eyes bubbled with joy, and her freckly face broke out into a big smile. It was creepy; it was as if I had met her before.

“A re you, new too?” She asked; I nodded in reply.

“I'm Lola!” She giggled and I had no idea why but I laughed too.

“Eva.” I just realised we wore more or less the same thing. She was wearing a flouncy skirt and I was wearing ripped shorts but we both wore a bumble bee cardigan. We burst into laughter again and you wouldn't have thought we'd known each other for less than five minutes.

“We better get to the theatre room!” She said and with a lot of help for directions, we made our way to the theatre room.

As students flooded in I was swept into a huge sunlit hall, which looked remarkably like the Royal Opera house back in London, high above our heads was a dome of stained glass. Sunlight pored over it spilling extraordinary colours everywhere; this school was just getting better and better. Across the stage was a cinema sized TV screen which said: 'Welcome Back' in big bold letters. Teacher glided up and down the aisles and you could tell what they taught. You could see the fire teachers from the water element teachers clearly, in their wacky outfits.

“Salve, my students!” Headmaster Bloom said cheerily. “And a special welcome to those of you that have just arrived, welcome to Para, welcome to Angelus Academiae!”

After that it was the same as any other normal school assembly, expectations, blab, blab, and blab. The talk ended and Bloom called out students names as they glided over to their teachers. As the list ended, I seemed to be missed off of the heavenly list. I heard Bloom talk to some teachers around us.

“Did she not specialize?” A woman said in hushed tones who seemed to be dressed as a dragon, I assumed she taught fire. Well I knew she taught fire, spirit saved a lot of time. You didn’t have to get close to someone, to get to know them. As Bloom explained my situation they all gasped. Lola had left long ago as she was of the water element and so she could fit in with the rest of her water buddies nice and easily but me with my loner spirit self ,was stuck the last one in this gaping hall with no one.

“I'll take her into my class, Aether is all about telekinesis which is one of the spirit users powers am I right?” A woman with silver streaked black hair said, she looked so pure and light.

“Thank you, Feather, it's greatly appreciated, it's hard enough becoming an angel not to have to deal with all this spirit business, if you need help controlling her do call!” Bloom said, controlling me? How strong was I now I had spirit?

“Eva,” Bloom said. “I have decided you will be trained in all of the four elements as all of the four elements were revealed to you in the pot of Revelation, It will mean you have to work extra hard but I have faith in you Eva and once you have learnt your strengths and weaknesses I will see if I can arrange for you to have spirit lessons also!” I nodded; it was good to know I wasn't to be sat in a classroom by myself.

“So what lesson do I start with?” I asked.

“Perhaps earth if that's alright with you, Ursula?”

“It would only be natural!” Ursula said. She had a natural glow, her plaited hair wrapped in ivy and flowers of all different species and her dress flowed like the trunk of a tree.

We arrived at a classroom but it wasn't just a standard classroom, it was incorporated into a tree, it was a tree house.

“Eva, earth is all about the five senses, the taste, the feel, the sound, the look, the smell of something; in the earth element they are all heightened and crucially important!” Ursula said as she climbed up the tree effortlessly to her classroom.

“Salve, my Earthlings!” Ursula said, she opened her palm and a bouquet of flowers appeared. She dropped one in each of our hands.

“Today our practical will be on new life and why is that Amber?” Ursula asked the girl nearest to her.

“Umm, because, earth is all about growing and the balance of rain and sun creating new life,” Amber said.

“Correct, and today we are going to be creating new life, I will wither each of your flowers and being in the earth element you will automatically shed a tear, it is vital it falls onto your plant and then you think of something that brings you happiness, basks you in joy, this will act as your sun and the flower should regrow!” Ursula explained. As thirty or so plants all withered at the same time each person in the class began crying, it was astounding. Each person shedding waterfalls of tears for the fallen plants,. They shed a single tear drop on their plant and then they raised their hands over the plant. Slowly the plants were revitalized, the buds bursting into beautiful flowers, it was magnifecent. Truly, amazing.

“Sadness and happiness created something beautiful,” I muttered to myself, Ursula lifted my chin,

“Sadness and happiness created life, created spirit!” She said and it made me feel reassured about my rare element. Suddenly a man walked into the room. His hair was a dark red and his wings were huge, slightly bigger than the other teaches and so white they were almost red.

“Ursula, I’ve come to take Eva to my fire lesson!” He said.

“Of course Flame!” Ursula said but it was clear Ursula didn't like Flame. I supposed fire does destroy earth. “Goodbye Eva!”

“Bye,” I said as Flame took me away.

“I'm Flame,” Flame said, “You’re of the spirit element which means your element is strong like fire, it can cause a lot of destruction and danger but also joy and adoration, people love to see our elements, they bring excitement, so we're more alike than you think!” Flame said. He seemed a lot friendlier than the intimidating look he gave off.

“I suppose so!” I replied.

The classroom Flame led me to, was the most extreme so far, it was a dragons mouth which looked scarily real. We walked into its mouth of flames which terrified me and came out into a classroom decorated with fire objects. People of the fire element seemed to be daredevils, one boy was setting his friends hair on fire without him realising. Another boy was skating on a rink of fire he made, I ducked as he slid past.

Unlike the other teachers, Flame did not tell the students to stop what they were doing but his presence commanded it.

“In today’s lesson you will be learning how to make a fire shield, Lionel attack me with the biggest fire wave you can manage, don't worry about hurting me I’ve done this many times before!” Flame said.

“Don't worry, I won’t!” Lionel said and the class laughed; he had a devious look on his face. He blocked him with a wave of fire which rose up way over Flame and the class gasped as this huge tsunami wave of fire was being blocked, Flame blocked it with a huge green flame, it pushed Lionel’s wave up into the air and then Flame slammed it to the ground creating a mini Earthquake.

“That,” Flame said, “Is a fire force field!”

This time as I watched the rest of the class perform what Flame did (in smaller measures of course) I was glad I couldn't participate, fire definitely wasn't my element.

“Salvus Flamey boy, I've come to pick up Eva!” A woman that was definitely of the water element said.

“Don't call me that Aqua!” Flame said and I instantly knew they were siblings. Aqua’s hair was the blue of the sea melting into the veil of her dress which seemed to be made entirely out of water.

“Nice to meet you Eva, I’m Aqua!” Aqua said as she led me away from the blazing classroom. We came to a stop at a courtyard filled with tropical plants surrounding what seemed to be a bottomless pool. People were playing beach ball but with a ball of water and another boy was holding water in his hand changing its shape and colour, from a green starfish, to a white unicorn made entirely out of water. Aqua dived into the pool, making no splashes. I looked down and I had magically changed into a green swimsuit, I dived in after her. I forgot to hold my breath but then I realised it didn't matter, I was dead already. Under the surface looked like the lost city of Atlantis, sunken buildings, plates, tables.

“In today’s lesson we will be learning how we would transport water from one person to another, come forward Lily!” Aqua said. I found it amazing that I could understand her completely even though we were underwater. She picked up the water then Lily swam to the surface and she made her hand the same shape as Aqua's who had chosen to do a bunny. We all looked up and could see Lily now had the water.

“This is to use if you had been backed into a corner by your attacker and your friend couldn't get to you, you would transport the water to them and they could attack from behind. I leant on some rock as I watched the students practice what they had been taught, Lola gave me a wink. She was so lucky that there were people all around her with the same talent as her and they could all help each other. With this spirit thing, I knew I was on my own.

“Eva, Feather the air element teacher is waiting for you on the surface, off you go!” Aqua said smiling, I waved goodbye before swimming up to the surface.

 

“I'm Feather,” Feather said, I'll escort you to my class, I know it must be daunting for you as at the moment you don't really have a role model student to help you with your element but Raphael's your tour guide and he'll be sure to give you as much guidance as possible!” I nodded, lost for words.

We came to a glass building which had clouds skittered over it like playful lambs but up above the sky was a clear blue, no clouds to be seen. It was like they had pulled the clouds onto the building.

“This is the air wing, the air element is mostly based around the weather and how we control it and use it to our advantage, this is what you'll be learning in my lessons!” Feather explained. We walked inside and students were already practicing their magic, one girl turned into mist and then reappeared the other side of the room. A boy chucked a ball at another boys head but the girl stopped it by blowing it the opposite direction creating a boomerang effect. Another boy, I recognised well blew air onto water droplets making them spin in mid-air. It was Raphael and he was using telekinesis to hold liquid water in mid-air. Feather opened the door quietly, not disturbing the concentration on the student's faces.

“Class, settle down into your seats, if you want time for a practical we have to have finished my presentation on levitating people!” Feather said cut off by shouts of joy. We all watched intently as she levitated the dummy, lines forming on her face from concentration. “There are many jobs that will ask for your levitation skills and to be able to levitate humans up to Para is one of the most important jobs,” It danced and spun in mid-air and at one point she made it gallop around the classroom, then she carefully let it float to the ground like a feather. “Now I will let Raphael do a demonstration on lifting real people, any volunteers?” Everyone stepped back but I had a late reaction. “Thank you Eva!” I gulped.

“Okay,” Raphael said, I just prayed he didn't drop me. “Just relax, make your mind blank!” I tried my best but I wasn't sure it was working and just when I thought it wouldn't work I felt myself lifting off the ground. It was really weird, I didn't feel like I was just floating like they say in films but I felt like I was being lifted up, like Raphael had me literally cradled in his arms, I closed my eyes. Then suddenly I was in a place similar to where I used to live in Terra, a teenage girl lay on the floor dead, her grey eyes staring up into space; Gwithian standing over her grinning. I looked at myself to see blood dripping from my hands, and then I realised it wasn’t my blood. I screamed out.

Suddenly I was on the floor in the classroom, without fully being conscious I had used spirit because the classroom was a tip, everyone sat crouched under the tables as if there was an Earthquake. I stared around the room looking at the mess I had made. One thing I knew was one of my spirit powers was to create a force field. I felt so ashamed. So embarrassed.

“What did you see?” Feather said frantically.

“I, I saw…” I said but I couldn't tell her. I could already feel my mouth burning, at the hand of Gwithian's curse. But no one could know, I dread to think what Gwithian would do to me if anyone found out, I forced my burning mouth to speak.

“I didn't see anything, I just got scared I would fall, I suppose....” I said, the pain searing through my body as I tried my best to hide it. Feather nodded suspiciously.

“Well class, that's all for today!” She said, eyeing me one more time in suspicion and then I left. Everyone stared at me as I left the room and right then being able to read minds was horrible, I could see what a laughing stock they thought I was. I was a weirdo in an angel school, what was wrong with me? But one thing I knew I couldn't close my eyes for any long period of time, Gwithian would invade my dreams and all hell would break lose.

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