Ruth rested on the cold frozen ground. It took several hours before she felt her strength returning. Jacob, her closest friend, held her close as they stared up at the stars above. For the longest time neither of them spoke.
They had much to think about. There was a darkness that even now, lurked in the most desolate places on Earth. Bezaleel, the angel who turned dark, had tried to return with a vengeance. It was only a matter of time before he would return again, this time stronger with an army of dark soldiers.
Ruth still felt weak, but it was a comfort to have Jacob with her. His arms, warm as the wrapped around her, felt good in contrast to the snow on which they sat. She wished she could stay here with Jacob and enjoy a moment’s peace, but there were things to be done.
Jacob knew what Ruth was thinking as he often did after so many thousands of years of friendship because, at last, he broke the silence, “It looks like your strength is quickly returning, but Ki told me to keep you here until your strength has fully returned. There is nothing you can do in this condition. Rest a little while more. We will join the others in training after the sun rises.”
Ruth looked to the east. Her superior angel eyes could see the sunlight coming over the distant mountains, but the sun would not rise for another couple hours. Ruth looked imploringly up at Jacob.
Jacob smiled back at her, “look at the brightest star in the sky. See how it burns a bright blue. It shines beautifully just like you.”
Jacob often made compliments. It was one of his great characteristics, but Ruth couldn’t help but blush every time he paid her a compliment. “You are trying to distract me Jacob. It will not work.” Ruth replied trying to keep the red out of her face.
“No honest, in all the thousands of years I have never met someone as beautiful as you.” Then Jacob did something he had never done before. His put his lips on hers.
Their kiss was soft yet passionate. Ruth did not know what to expect, but she enjoyed the movement of his lips on hers. A feeling swelled inside her. It was a desire she had not experienced in her angelic life.
Their lips broke apart. Jacob pulled her body even closer toward his. Both of them turned to watch for the rising sun. Neither of them spoke of their moment of romance. Both of them knew it was nothing more than a kiss. Ruth was glad to share this human emotion with Jacob. It made their friendship stronger.
As the sun rose over the mountains, they both stood up. Ruth shook the snow off of Jacob’s head. “For a minute there I thought you had decided to go back into the circle of life and gained a few more white hairs,” Ruth joked.
“One day maybe I will convince you to join me in mortality.” Jacob said with a more serious tone. Before Ruth could say anything he added, “Though, I can’t imagine leaving this world to the darkness.”
Ruth nodded her head in agreement, “Speaking of which we have a lot of work to do.” They flew off to join the other angels who chose to begin their training well hidden along the vast frozen mountains.
As they arrived, Jacob and Ruth noticed the other angels attempting to use the fire to melt rock. It seemed they have yet to be successful in creating a blue fire. Heracles was shouting out encouragements to the others, explaining the difficulty of the process.
“Don’t worry if you don’t manage making the fire on your first day. Even I had to work on it a long time,” Heracles bragged, “it took me nearly thirty-six hours to successfully create a sustained blue flame. I would hope most of you will have it down in the next seventy-two hours.”
Jacob whispered so that only Ruth could hear, “That guy can sure rub me the wrong way. He could use a little bit more humility.”
Ruth smiled weakly. She too thought Heracles could be more humble, not to mention less aggressive, but she wasn’t about to teach him some humility. She felt reluctant to try creating blue fire. It seemed against her nature to create something so destructive.
Sensing her reluctance, Jacob tried to encourage her, “It is the only way to protect life. If there was another way Ki would pursue it. Ki is just as reluctant toward violence as you are.”
Heracles walked up to the two of them. He instructed them to make a fireball in between their hands.
“Good, now concentrate on the hydrogen in the moisture of the air. Try to bring it in toward the fire.” Heracles talked them through the process, “Surround the fire with the hydrogen. Don’t let it be consumed by the fire. If the hydrogen touches the fire too soon it will simply burn off, creating no heat.
“Now, be careful here, when the hydrogen and fire meet they don’t like to behave. Once you have the fire completely encircled by hydrogen, close the gap, so that there is no particle in between the two. If done correctly, the blue should start on the outside of the fireball. As soon as you see the blue try to ignite the entire flame in blue. Make sure you…”
Boom! The three of them were thrown back by an explosion made by Jacob’s fireball. He had momentarily succeeded in creating blue flame, but it combusted almost instantly. Ruth saw what Heracles meant. The flame refused to stay in Jacob’s controlled ball.
Ruth, Jacob, and Heracles now lay flat on their back on melted rubble. Their clothes burnt to ash. Ruth hurried behind a boulder as Jacob laughed. “Wow, did not expect that! I suppose we should figure out a solution to this flammable clothing problem.”
Heracles recovered to his feet, shaking off a bit of rock, which was still hot from the explosion. “Aw, yes, Ki had provided a special fabric, but I did not think we would need it this early. That was an impressive display on your first attempt Jacob.”
Despite his compliment Heracles looked a little envious. He retrieved a garment bag. Its contents consisted of a white robe with gold lining, similar to the style the Greeks wore. Ruth could tell that Ki had placed some magic on these robes, for they shimmered the same way Ki always did.
Heracles held out the garments for the angels to take as he explained, “Ki has developed these specifically to protect the angels from the pain of their own fire. With these on, you will not feel the heat of the flame.”
He pulled one over himself and then finished saying, “They too are impervious to burning. Unlike your usual clothes made by human hands, these cannot be destroyed.”
Heracles extended the last shimmering white robe out toward the boulder that Ruth hid her naked body behind. He held it there for a second, no doubt hoping Ruth would expose herself to grab it. When Ruth did not budge he handed the robe to Jacob who reached over the boulder to hand it to her.
“Thank you,” Ruth said shyly.
Ruth quickly got dressed and joined the others as their training continued. After seeing what Jacob managed to do on his first attempt, many of the angels watched as Ruth produced her usual yellow flame. She had no desire to create the destructive blue flame, and it showed in her efforts.
After several tries, most of the angels looked away with bitter looks of disappointment. They continued practicing. Within the next few hours a few angels had managed to create a blue flame, only to see it blown up in their face.
Jacob was able to create a sustaining blue flame in half the time it took Heracles. He looked a little smug about that fact, but by the end of the day he was the only one to control the hot fire.
After the first seventy-two hours almost all of the angels were now regularly able to create and control the hydrogen fire. Most of the time their fire was whiter than it was blue. Heracles encouraged them to keep working to bring the temperatures up to make a more pronounced blue flame.
Ruth was among the few angels who have yet to master the flame. She managed once to ignite her fire into blue flames. It almost blew up in her face, but her instincts were too quick. She extinguished the flame right before it exploded.
“I can’t believe I am going to suggest this but…” Jacob hesitated to tell Ruth. “I think you will have better success if you can feel the pain of your own blue fire.”
Jacob had an excellent point. Ruth hated the destructive aspect of the fire just as she hated destroying dying forests by flame. She convinced herself that it was the same situation. She would allow herself to burn with this fire the way immerses herself in with the forest fires.
Ruth started a fire in her palms, and let it crawl up her arms and cover her entire body. When the flames blocked her from sight, she stripped out the protective robe. It was a pain she was well familiar with. She pulled the hydrogen out of what little snow remained on the ground. It covered her flaming body as it multiplied its number.
The next moment, she was covered in a blue flame. The burning intensified with the heat of the fire. Ruth recoiled at its strength. The pain was too much. She changed the fire to a cool red color, put her robe back on and let the fire die.
Heracles addressed the group again, “Now that we have mastered the blue flame we will learn different ways to use it in offensive attacks.” He must have enjoyed the idea of flaming angels because he had everyone attempt to immerse themselves in blue flame.
Their training continued for another few days. At the end of it Heracles expressed his disappointment in the time it was taking them to master the skills. Nonetheless he seemed please with their progress. He dismissed them all to go back to their usual duties, and told them he would call for them again for further training.
Ruth turned to leave with Jacob, but Heracles stopped them, “could you two wait one moment?” Without waiting for an answer he began, “Well done Ruth that was some inspiration you had there.”
He turned to Jacob, “And Jacob, I was hoping I could keep you for a while. I have some ideas of how to sustain a dark blue flame, but I think it will take two angels, you showed considerable ability. I could use your assistance.”
Jacob, of course, agreed to his request. They said their good-byes then Ruth took to the sky. She was glad it was over. She could not wait to get back to a more calm and peaceful life. Who knew how long that would last, but for now she had unfinished business.