Ruth stood at the entrance to a deep cave. She couldn’t see anything inside and was troubled by the darkness. Ruth was an angel and had sight strong enough to see in the dark, so why could she only see black?
Ruth took a step forward and the darkness consumed her. The outside world behind her had vanished. She tried to step back into the light, but it was no longer there. Sheer panic came over her. It took a few moments before she was able to steady herself enough to keep moving. She would have to use her other senses to move forward. Ruth had the ability to sense other living things. If something drew near she would know at once.
Ruth slowly flew slowly further deeper into the pitch-black cave. She used her hearing and breathing to tell how far ahead a wall was. It was easy for her to maneuver without eyesight. All the same, Ruth felt uneasy. She had been inching along for hours. She made sure she knew every turn she took, so she could find her way back to the entrance.
A feeling of dread came over Ruth. Something or someone lay a ways ahead. She could feel its life force. Along with it came the feelings of horror, hatred, and despair. What she sensed was pure evil. She never experienced anything like it in the natural world. As she cautiously approached, the feeling overwhelmed her senses.
A shiver ran down her back as something crept slowly toward her. Ruth heard only a faint movement among the silence. Suddenly she found herself completely restrained. She couldn’t move a single muscle. Fear threatened to take over as she awaited unimagined horrors.
“You will watch, helplessly, as your world turns to dark.” A voice deep and raspy echoed throughout the cave.
Ruth’s vision came back in an instant. She was above the entrance to the cave looking down as the darkness in the cave expanded outward. Ruth could only watch as all things were consumed by the black mass as it expanded.
The angels arrived after sensing the danger. She tried to scream out a warning, but not even air escaped her lips. As the angels drew nearer, figures detached themselves from the black mass were as dark and as evil as the black mass from which they came.
Ruth thought she recognized one of the dark faces. Her stomach lurched. Though he took on a new form, she could now tell that it was Bezaleel. How had he escaped Ki’s prison? Bezaleel seemed to be the leader, hollering commands to the other black creatures.
Everywhere Ruth looked, she saw angels falling to the ground, their skin a dark icy black. The angels were being overrun as the dark mass crept slowly over their frozen bodies. In her fury, Ruth tried harder to escape, but found herself still unable to move. She tried to set the black images on fire, but nothing happened. She could only watch until all of her friends lay frozen, and then consumed by the dark.
Without the angels standing in its way, the mass quickly spread, covering the land as far as the eye could see. The black mass soon covered the entire surface of the earth. Instead of a luscious blue and green, there was only black so dark not even the stars could penetrate it.
All the luscious forests and life Ruth protected for thousands of years had been destroyed, engulfed in a blanket of darkness. Ruth was filled with the agony of losing everything she ever knew. Her entire body felt like it was on fire. The flames of which were much hotter than she had ever experienced. It was all gone. Jacob, the earth, and even Ki had ceased to exist.
Ruth found herself released from her bonds. She was very much alone in the middle of space, but then she heard someone’s voice as if it were coming from a very far distant place. Was it calling her name?
“Ruth, dear, it is time to come back.” It was Ki’s voice. He was alive, but his words made no sense. There wasn’t anything to go back to. Very slowly Ruth’s view of the empty solar system disappeared. She realized that she was now looking at the inside of her eyelids. She was becoming conscious once more.
Could everything she have just witnessed been a nightmare? It felt too real. Ruth had never been unconscious as an angel, maybe dreams felt real to them.
Ruth’s body felt exhausted. Every muscle seemed tense. She didn’t have the energy to open her eyes, but she could hear concerned voices in the background. She was thinking about her two visions. She first saw Bezaleel’s betrayal. Everything that occurred in that dream actually happened long ago.
The second dream with Bezaleel’s return and the destruction of her world was far more disconcerting. Was it possible that she was seeing the future? The first vision was of the past. The second one could very well be the future.
She had to ask Ki. As the Great Protector, Ki would know the meanings of her visions. Ruth struggled to open her eyes. She was still very weak from her encounter with the volcano Lao-Yaina. It was an unusually strong eruption, which took all of Ruth’s strength to subdue.
“Ki, she is coming around.” It was Jacob’s voice to Ruth’s left. She was relieved by the realization that he was still alive.
Ruth had to speak to Ki. She tried to sit up, but every muscle in her body sang in protest. Jacob helped steady her. Ruth tried to turn to her side. This made her muscles scream in protest once more. Ki stood only a few feet away. Ki wore a disconcerting frown upon a light blue shimmering face. The color of Ki’s body was a perfect combination of the snow, which blanketed the ground and the pale sky above.
“My dear, what you have seen is what could come to pass. The future is ever changing. Your vision was merely one possibility of a great many, however, it poses a threat that must be dealt with. Every angel here has already been made aware of the situation we were waiting for you to join us before we begin our training.”
Ruth took a better look around her surroundings. There was an Angels’ Flight taking place. She suddenly felt embarrassed for being so vulnerable in front of all them. Her next thought jumped to Ki’s comment on training. She wondered what Ki meant until she saw Heracles standing directly behind Ki.
Ruth disapproved of Ki’s decision to transform Heracles to an angel. He was a violent man. He was neither humble, nor discrete. The humans came to know him as Hercules the son of their most mighty god. As a human, he was a champion among warriors. Ki changed him to fight the fiends that escaped from hell’s gate. Ruth has only seen Heracles at the Angels’ Flights. She didn’t know what he did for Ki now that the monsters were no more.
Ki answered Ruth’s unspoken question, “Heracles and I have been preparing for this day for a long time. Heracles has been working on a technique, which will allow us to fight the darkness. Heracles if you please.” Ki gestured for Heracles to take the center of the circle.
Heracles stepped forward. His tall frame, broad chest and hardened face gave him an intimidating impression. “We have learned that the darkness is particularly susceptible to fire. We have also learned that the strength of the fire we usually are capable of manipulating is not enough to consume the darkness.
“I am here to show you how to make the fire stronger. Fire composed of the yellow and orange are not hot enough. The darkness can easily suffocate those flames, however, Ki and I believe a much hotter blue flame will be sufficient to rival its strength.
“Establishing a blue flame can be done in two ways. The first and easier way is to surround the fire with a lining of hydrogen. Hydrogen burns easily and will grow hot enough to produce a blue-white flame. This flame is the weaker of the two forms of blue flame.
“The second flame when done correctly will be a much darker blue. This fire is created by using a helium lining instead of a hydrogen one. If the fire is able to absorb the helium it will burn five times hotter than the sun. It is tricky to create that much heat, and when you do it is even more difficult to control.
“All of this Ki and I have succeeded in doing, and we will teach you how. It is Ki’s hope that the angels will be able to master the fire well enough to create the darker blue flame. On top of that we believe that an even hotter blue can be used to reemit ionized helium in overpowering heat, which will give us the advantage.
“I have yet to be successful at creating such great heat.” He looked towards Ruth with a reproachful look. “Perhaps some of you might have better luck at that than I have.”
Every eye fell upon Ruth as Heracles finished his explanation. As the First Angel, Ruth was more powerful than the rest of the angels. They would look to her to produce the ionized helium flame.
Ki stepped back into the center. All eyes turned away from Ruth and fell on the Great Protector. “Learning to control the fire will be our number one priority for the next several months. Heracles will be in charge of the training. If he is to call on you, you are to answer to him as you would answer to me.
“It is hard to know when we will see the darkness’s next attempt, so we must be ready. Go now with Heracles and begin your training.” Then Ki added, “Jacob, stay with Ruth a while and allow her to rest.”
The three of them waited until all the other angels were gone. Ki returned to Ruth’s side. She could see the grief on Ki’s face. Ki waited a moment then spoke solemnly, “The darkness already grows in the deepest corners of the earth. I did not wish the others to know, but where there is darkness I am blind. This makes it hard to detect its presence.”
“What about the angels?” Jacob asked. “Will we be able to sense the darkness like we are able to sense other disasters?”
“You will be able to sense the darkness, but I am afraid it will be much like your encounter with the volcano. You will have little time to react once the darkness decides to strike. I fear it may not be enough warning to counter its moves before damage is done to this world.” Ki expressed.
“Wait.” Ruth interjected, “Did you mean to say that the darkness had something to do with that volcanic eruption?”
Ki gave a grave smile. “I am sorry to say that the darkness has grown strong enough to release our old friend from his prison. The eruption was Bezaleel’s first attempt of revenge.”
“But the lava, I thought Bezaleel was weakened by fire.” Ruth said.
“I am sorry you had to face him in combat a second time, but it is not likely to be the last. He will return again,” Ki explained. “You’ve already witnessed his power to control the lava. The next time he comes forth, he will be even more powerful than ever, and he will come with an army born of darkness.
“Jacob, see to it that Ruth is fully recovered before you two join the others. Conjuring blue flame is tricky. She will need all her strength if she is to succeed. This is the only way to stop Bezaleel. You must learn control and fight.” With that Ki evaporated into flurries, which were carried away by the wind.