Emory trotted behind Nathaniel like a puppy dog, the heels of her boots clicking against the driveway. He didn't look her way as she caught up to him, brushing a stray droplet of blood from her sleeve.
"Y'know," she said casually, "I'd been expecting that demon guy to be a bit more... um, demonic. Or maybe slightly more... well, threatening. Black blood, red eyes, bat wings... that kind of thing. I'm kind of disappointed."
Nathaniel squinted at the turnpike gates stretching up above them. Emory winced. She remembered having to climb over that, and she had a scratch on her ankle to prove it. He didn't say a word as he waved his hand and the gates crumbled into dust. He flashed a glance her way as she raised an eyebrow. "The demons are dead." was all he said.
And that was that.
Emory figured that maybe he wasn't in the best of moods. Which was also slightly disheartening, because she'd always imagined angels as pudgy blonde cherubs who smiled and sang, floated around on clouds and played harps all day long. Nathaniel was far too tall and lean and smartly dressed. Emory guessed that maybe he's just irritated that he'd been beaten up and nearly killed by a demon with an ego problem.
She shrugged to herself. He'd probably get over it in a few minutes, an hour at most. People usually did after nearly being murdered.
As she made her way through the gap where the gates had just previously been, she was sure she heard a noise. A noise aside the scream of party guests in the front garden, of course, and the clatter of expensive shoes towards expensive cars. It was something like a rustle in the nearby hedges, or small feet in the grass.
The small Beatle parked about a hundred metres down the road was waiting, and Emory clambered into the driver's seat. She hadn't hotwired a car in months until earlier this evening, and she couldn't help but feel embarrassed at how long it took her. Twenty minutes. Man, she was getting out of practice.
Nathaniel slid gracefully into the passenger seat, silent as death, and Emory pulled away from the quiet road. It was dark, and clock on the dashboard reads that it was half eleven in the evening.
"So," she said, not taking her eyes of the road. "Where are we off to now?" It was more of a lane, actually: one way, lines with hedges and landlocked within rows upon rows of fields. She'd never have imagined that there'd be a mansion around here until now, but she guessed that it made sense. After all, why throw dramatic parties and unknowingly invite demonic creatures if you're going to have complaints come in the next day from grumpy, sleepless neighbours?
Nathaniel sighed, smoothing down his shirt. "The minor demon I killed informed me of another, Sloth, in the immediate area. I thought it suitable for them to be dealt with next."
Emory braked. "What? Right now?"
"Well, as soon as possible, essentially."
She pouted. "And I can't go back to the apartment first? I left the majority of my weapons there, and there's a small new toy I'd like to try out."
Nathaniel frowned at her. "And what would that be?" he asked curiously, and she shrugged.
"I've got a grenade launcher hidden beneath my sink."
Nathaniel raised an eyebrow. "We do have an entire chapter to take up, so yes, I believe that should be acceptable. After all, according to the plot plan, Sloth shouldn't sense us- mainly myself- until tomorrow morning at the earliest."
Emory shook her head, forcing herself to keep her gaze on the road. She had no idea what he was going on about, but quite frankly it didn't seem very important. Angels probably knew far more than they really let on- the answer to life, the universe and everything, for example. Maybe even the purpose of the rubber duck.
It was dark, the lanes difficult to navigate- sweeping from side to side, trees clawing at the skyline with skeletal branches. It looked like a scene from a horror movie. "So why did this all start then?" she asked. "Why did you guys need to kill all the demons in the first place anyway?"
"It's a long story." Nathaniel brushed a speck of dirt from his shirt. Or he tried to, but when it refused to disappear, he flicked his wrist and it vanished in a tiny puff of air. "But very well."
'Onceeeee upooooon aaaaa timeeeee-'
"You can hurry it up a bit, can't you? It's not that long." Emory asked and Nathaniel shrugged.
'The world was beautiful, once upon a time. Almost as clichéd as it could get. As perfect as it could be. The angels controlled it all, in name of their Lord- they controlled the Heavens, they controlled the Earth, they controlled the skies and the dirt, and everything- every single little thing you could ever name- was beautiful.
But corruption is a deadly thing.
And this time, corruption came in the form of The Seven.
The seven angels who found Lucifer, the Lord's favourite angel, and filled him with their poison. Until soon enough-
Emory was suddenly flying. She hadn't been expecting to, but there she was, flying.
And then she was falling again, the small car crashing back into the road, and the force of it almost threw her through the windshield.
Always wear your seatbelts, kids. See? It might very well save your life.
There was a howl of tires as the car screamed off the side of the road, though the hedge in an explosion and leaves and down the hill that, for the convenience of the plot, was lying on the other side.The little car lost its grip, slid onto its side and began to roll.
It was exceptionally dizzying, tumbling sideways down a hill that seemed to stretch out forever.
Roll. Roll. Roll.
Emory smacked her head against the driver's side window, back into the headrest, back into the window and then into the headrest again. She could barely see anything- it was already pitch black outside, but through the windshield, the grass loomed into view and back away again.
Roll. Roll. Roll.
Ugh; how far could a Beatle roll before finally smashing to a stop?
Roll. Roll. Roll.
Evidentially a long very way.
Roll. Roll. Roll.
The air was ripped out of her lungs as the little car hit something very big, spun away and hit something else, and she only remembered Nathaniel when she felt his hand on her shoulder and suddenly she wasn't inside the car anymore.
Emory blinked as the little car teetered on two wheels before falling back onto all fours, its suspension squeaking and narrowly missing a tree.
They appeared to have rolled straight into a wooded area- in fact, as Emory looked back from whence they'd came, she could make out their trail of destruction- split trees and smashed branches scattered all over the place.
Nathaniel turned back to her with wide eyes and slowly removed his fingers from her arm. "Are you... okay?"
Emory nodded and looked back at the Beatle. It looked in pretty good condition- the paint was scratched, sure, but other than that-
There was a hiss and the car burst into flames.
She let out a whistle and hoped that the owners had half-decent insurance cover. "What did we hit?" she asked, and turned back to the angel. The flames from the burning car gouged sharp shadows beneath his cheekbones and he raised a sculpted eyebrow.
"I do believe," he said carefully, "that it might have been a tree."
"Before the tree."
"That would have been another tree."
There was a snap of a twig behind her and she spun, pulling the pistol from her pocket. Dammit, all she wanted was to get back to her apartment and get her rocket launcher. That really wasn't that much to ask.
Behind her was a middle-aged man, balding and sweaty, panting for breath. He held up his hand. "Give me a moment," he gasped. "I got this."
Emory raised an eyebrow. "Sure thing," she said, cocking her gun.
"Thanks. I'll kill you in a moment."
"What are you? The demon of procrastination?" Nathaniel grinned, and when neither Emory nor the man said a thing, he nudged her shoulder, the smile still on his face. "Did you get that? I made a joke."
Emory was unimpressed, and evidentially the man wasn't either, because he narrowed his eyes and Nathaniel vanished.
Nathaniel was gone.
"What did you do?" Emory snarled, taking another step towards him and levelling the gun at his head. "Bring him back."
He raised an eyebrow and straightened, resting his hands on his sides and dragging in a deep breath. "I'm Sloth, sweetheart, not procrastination. And even though I'm not in the mood for killing an angel tonight, like I said, I'm sure up for ripping you apart in a moment."
Emory spun in a circle, but Nathaniel was completely gone.
No- he couldn't be...