At high sun the day after the meeting, Izdaja and Eve met at the gate of Eden to set out for the small mining town. The gate was a massive one of clear crystal which was shaped into pictures of acts and deeds. One of the pictures showed Abaven slaying the mighty Draco, a dragon that had once gathered his kind and launched a campaign to take all of Mirum for him and the rest of his kind. When they met there was a calm hostility between them. Izdaja waited, he hated waiting he was an impatient man, but what a man wouldn't do for a pretty lady. Izdaja admired eve he'd even wanted her as his wife he just found something so beautiful in traitor. But eve had declined muttering something about love not being fair in war. But there was no war....Yet. But there was something else Izdaja was sure of it someone else maybe the thought had crossed his mind but he'd never really played it he didn't like eve he liked the idea of having her but it wasn't personal. Eve entered she was late but she didn't look like she'd made an effort her hair was pulled up but it hadn't quite worked. Izdaja caught his sigh in his throat and waited for Elijah, not much longer now Izdaja didn't have to pretend he liked these people. They nodded to each other and waited for Elijah to arrive so they could leave. They stood on either side of the gate like sentries. Eve was used to Elijah's tests of patience so was able to stand perfectly still, Izdaja on the other hand was impatient by nature so he fidgeted and became irritated by the long wait. Eventually he stormed off down the cobble street and back into the city to look for Elijah leaving Eve to look at him with bemusement. Eve waited for another hour standing perfectly still, sometime during this hour Izdaja reappeared looking dirty, haggard and unaccompanied. Eve gave him a grin as he returned and Izdaja scowled in return as he returned to the opposite side of the gate. At the end of the hour they saw Elijah trotting down the cobble street toward them on a lightly built horse with a dark brown coarse coat, behind him he led another small horse but this one had a coat that was the colour of rust.
When he saw them he raised his hand and shouted to them, 'Hello to you the patient watchers!'
He trotted up to them and with a mischievous smile he looked down from the horse at Izdaja. 'What happened? Take the wrong route through the garbage chute?' He laughed deeply and Eve smiled slightly as she realized what had occurred. Elijah may seem harmless at times to her but he had done worse punishments to her than for being impatient, Izdaja had got off lightly it seemed.
They both walked up to him and when Eve didn’t see a third horse she frowned and asked' 'How are we travelling? There are only 2 horses?'
Elijah grinned again 'You two are on horses, I will fly, and it’s been too long since I stretched my wings.'
Eve frowned and shrugged letting the matter drop but Izdaja didn’t see the wisdom in not arguing with a being 10 times stronger than him.
He scowled at Elijah and said, rather accusingly, 'What gives you the right to fly and tell us we can’t do the same? We are your equals not inferiors.'
Elijah raised his eyebrow and looked at Eve, 'Is he for real?'
When Eve nodded he sighed and turned his gaze back to Izdaja. 'First you are not my equal, not yet, so you will obey my commands and wishes. Secondly, you should do it because I can make you.'
With that he pointed at Izdaja with his right hand and Izdaja slowly began to levitate. Elijah navigated Izdaja as the student became more and more enraged. Eventually Elijah put his hand into a fist and Izdaja fell right into the saddle of the red horse.
'Now, are we clear?' There was a hint of menace in his voice and Izdaja new that his thought of Elijah as a non-frightening pacifist had been wrong.
Izdaja bowed his head in submission and said glumly 'Yes.'
When they left the city of Eden, Izdaja and Eve on the horses with Elijah in the lead on foot, they rode in silence for a few minutes. Izdaja sulked from his recent humiliation at the hands of his elder, while Eve, perfectly at home outdoors looked around and took in their surroundings. They were riding down an old paved road, just wide enough for a cart and horse; it had been kept in good condition because it was regularly used. The landscape around them was mainly long grass with clusters of trees dotting the landscape providing shade from the sun that beat down relentlessly. There was a large hill a mile or so north of the city, several roads met at the foot of the hill before turning and heading towards the city. The roads, often used to transport good in and out of the city, and the distinctive landmark of the hill meant that a cluster of wooden houses had leapt up on the hill where a handful of people scratched a living selling and buying from the merchants who oft travelled to Eden. The hill and village had earned itself the name of Requiem Angeli meaning ‘Angels Rest’ as Angels had begun using the village as a resting point when making their way to and from Eden. The three Angels had decided to stop at the summit of Requiem Angeli to decide the best way to proceed.
When they reached the foot of the hill they ignored the stares of the nearby people – It was unusual for Angels of such high prestige to venture out of Eden - Izdaja and Eve dismounted and without a word all three of them spread their wings and slowly glided up to the top of the hill, forgoing the traditional route of walking. When they reached the top they landed and looked at the world unfolded like a map around them. To the west of them was a river known as the River Acutus, which was vital in bringing supplies and communication for Eden and the surrounding lands, at a bend in the river there lay a small port-town called Prodigium. To their north lay a more grassland but they stood at the foot of the Confortare Mountains, their destination. To their east lay a lake and swampland lay just north of that. Izdaja pointed to a river to the west that headed north.
‘We should hire a boat and sail as far north as possible.’ He said. ‘There’s a port not far from here.’ He pointed a few miles up the rivers course to Prodigium.
Elijah shook his head. ‘That would be a fine plan if our destination lay directly north of us, but it lies north and east of us. If we took the river we would have to go north then east, which would take longer than if we just went straight there by foot.’
Eve had been looking at the landscape carefully and said, ‘If we went straight there we would have to pass through the swamp, we should go with Izdaja’s idea of the river’-Izdaja looked at her quite surprised-‘then continue on horse when we reach the mountains.
Izdaja frowned before saying ‘A boat is too slow, we would be fighting against the current, and the river is flowing towards us. We should follow the river on horse’.
Eve nodded ‘Fair enough.’
‘I still don’t see why we can’t fly.’ This was Izdaja.
Elijah replied with ‘We can’t fly because you two have neither the strength nor the stamina to be able to fly over 100 miles in 3 days.’
Izdaja scowled at this, ‘but you do?’
Elijah raised an eyebrow, ‘Yes, when you become an Embodiment you become much stronger.’ He turned and headed back down the hill. He got about ten paces when he realized that they weren’t following him, he looked over his shoulder and said ‘You coming? I want to travel 30 miles by the end of today.’
The other two looked at each other before following after him.
‘He really isn’t that bad.’ Said Eve sympathetically.
‘Oh yeah? What makes you say that?’ Izdaja replied gruffly.
They were walking down the hill now on the steep stone steps, careful to watch their step as the stairs were riddled with moss and cracks, though generally well-tended the stairs were as old as the settlement – around 200 years old – and this was beginning to show. One wrong step and they could plummet down the steep hill.
‘The fact that he’s been my teacher for the last 15 years doesn’t mean anything? Take some advice, either be willing to learn and do what he says, because there is something behind everything he asks you to do, or be prepared to have learning quite literally forced into you. He may be strict and overly harsh sometimes but it’s worth it afterwards.’
The speech had stifled Izdaja’s anger and this time he said quite softly, ‘So riding 30 miles in’ – he looked at the setting sun – ‘roughly 1 hour is normal behaviour?’
Eve smiled, ‘Actually he’s starting you off lightly.’
They walked the rest of the distance in silence and when they reached the bottom of the hill Elijah was waiting at the bottom of the hill with the two horses behind him, his arms crossed, ‘What took you so long? We need to get going.’
Izdaja scowled again ‘How? You wouldn’t let us take anything. We don’t have any food, water, even a map.’
Elijah eyes glistened mischievously, ‘This journey is going to be a lesson for you both, and you will learn how to use your surroundings to survive when otherwise you would have died. Now get on the horses we have a long journey.’
Izdaja and Eve slid onto their respective horses and guided them in the direction of the river before galloping off leaving Elijah behind in a cloud of dust.
Elijah looked at the trail they had left behind and said to himself ‘This could work.’ He slowly spread his wings and to the awe of the people around him he lifted into the air before flying in the direction of the horses, only much faster.
Eve and Izdaja rode hard and rode fast. The grassy land around them passed in a blur and as the sun sunk lower and lower towards the horizon, the sky turned a deep orange and the shadows of the horses and their riders stretched out long behind them. Around this time the outloine of a town appeared on the edge of their vision, a black blot against the orange sky. The horses would have collapsed long ago but they were being sustained by a steady stream of magic provided by their riders.
When they reached the edge of the town, Prodigium, they stopped their horses and dismounted silently.
'Where do you think Elijah is?' Asked Izdaja, trying to keep an edge of worry out of his voice. He was unsuccessful.
Eve focused her gaze on the town. 'I don't know. He might already be in the town or he might not. We should wait.'
Izdaja scoffed, back to his arrogant self, 'Wait? We should explore the town, we've never been her before, we should take a look.' His eyes narrowed, 'You're not scared are you?'
Eve seemed shocked at the suggestion and she looked taken aback 'Of course not!' She said forcefully.
Izdaja smiled 'well come on then.' and before Eve could answer he turned around and walked straight into the town.
Eve shouted after him 'Wait! What about the horses?' When he showed no reaction she cursed and ran after him just when he turned a corner and disappeared from her sight.
When she caught up to him he was outside a ramshackle building that a raucous noise was coming from.
'Sounds like a fight.' He sounded excited. 'Nothing like a good fight.'
Without hesitation he strode off again and disappeared into the building. Eve sighed exasperatingly and hurried after him.
Inside the building was well lit by lanterns that hung on the rafters and wooden support beams at regular intervals. A surly barman served mugs of ale to his many customers, but the main spectacle lay in the centre of the room where a ring was formed around two human fighters, one was small and slight and the other was large and muscly. As they watched the smaller one battered his opponent with a flurry of blows that were largely absorbed. His opponent took a swing at him but he was too slow and the small man danced out of the way. The small man came in close and dazed his opponent by hitting his face with the palm of his hand, when he went to cover his face the small man kicked at his opponent’s feet and sent the giant toppling. The cheering came to an end and many of the spectators looked at their betting slips again. The barman made his way through the crowd and held up the hand of the small man.
'Is there another challenger?' The barman boomed to the crowd. 'This man is 7 matches undefeated. There must be one person among you who is man enough to beat him! Will no one step forward?'
'I’ll do it!' This was Izdaja. Eve looked at him and then looked away, embarrassed at her friends apparent bloodlust.
All the eyes in the room turned to rest on the two Angels standing by the entrance.
The barman seemed surprised but took it in his stride. 'Okay, we have a challenger! An Angel no doubt. Gentlemen this will be a fight to remember!'
He beckoned to Izdaja who quickly joined him in the circle.
'Okay listen here, the rules aren’t these. No magic, no killing and no weapons. That’s it.' He looked at Izdaja's curved scimitar pointedly 'I’ll need that I’m afraid.' Izdaja reluctantly handed his weapon to the barman.
The man then hurried out of the circle and back to his bar. 'Fight!' and the cheering commenced.
The small man made the first move, getting in close to grapple and end the fight quickly, but Izdaja chopped at his outstretched arms and punched at his kidneys. His opponent twisted out of the punch and slapped at Izdaja's shoulder, going for the nerve endings there to disable his arm.
The fight continued in this manner, neither of the fighters able to get the upper hand. Eve noticed that by the bar a group of 7 men were sitting huddled together, apparently paying no attention to the fight accepts when they turned to point at Izdaja. Curious she moved towards the bar to try and hear their conversation but was unable to make much headway through the mass of bodies.
Back at the fight Izdaja had gained the upper hand and delivered a crippling punch to his opponent’s sternum, cracking it. The small man slumped and didn’t get up. Not resting on ceremony Izdaja hurried out of the circle and back to the bar for his weapon which the barman handed to him unceremoniously. Both of the Angels left the bar.
They were unaware that they were being followed by the group of men, all 7, that Eve had noticed earlier.