Pharial had been summoned to the holy presence. Even for an angel of his rank and time in the Third Swordlord’s service it was a great privilege, a rare event for individuals among the Phalanxes of angels that served his holy master. Even more surprisingly, when he rose from his obeisance he found that he was almost alone with the god: the Choirmaster was absent and none of the Flight Generals were present. Clean, sparkling light filled the sanctum, and the Third Swordlord himself, Heraclaid by sacred name, stood on the other side of a large map table from both the entrance and Pharial. The only other angel present was one of much his own age who was also currently assigned to the care, guidance and support of their god’s paladins. Elekiel had brown wings that were permanently mottled from the effects of a vardbeast’s breath weapon that he’d survived during a battle of the Death War.
“I have summoned you here,” said Heraclaid in a quiet voice that Pharial felt throughout his being, “because my human servant, Sempleticus Lorax, has died in unusual circumstances.”
“I did not know him,” admitted Pharial humbly.
“I didn’t expect that you would, because he was on Elekiel’s roster,” Heraclaid answered quietly. He turned to the other angel, “Were you able to glean anything from his soul, Elekiel? From my point of view he was suddenly dead, and that’s all I have.”
“I don’t think he even saw me,” replied Elekiel carefully, “and neither did the priestess of Hasnor he was travelling with. From what I could tell, they could see and hear each other perfectly, but I and the angels of Hasnor who were there, four of them, couldn’t get a flicker of acknowledgement out of either of them. If I didn’t know it shouldn’t be possible, I’d say they were almost dissociated.”
“I know it happened in a temple of Hasnor, and that’s why I don’t know what happened,” admitted Heraclaid. “Pharial, Ordestia Prima is on your roster and she’s been praying to me about this. She’s there, she’s seen the bodies, and she and some religious of Hasnor’s seem to have found how the killer got in to the temple. Go there, talk to her, and find out what happened. If Hasnor decides not to let you enter his temple, then we will have to rely on her observations.”
“We have not, hitherto, been close, she and I,” admitted Pharial. “She has not required personal guidance or intervention from me – her mortal preceptors have been sufficient for her.”
“Ordestia Prima is a steady and steadfast soul,” agreed Heraclaid. “I should not like her to feel unappreciated or overlooked because she does not require as much cultivation as some of her fellows.”
Pharial bowed, chastened, and replied, “My lord, I will do my best to cultivate her acquaintance during our time together on this assignment.”
“Good,” said Heraclaid. “I’m glad we were able to cover this subject – I would not like to lose my little armoured lily because she became exhausted by a heart broken through unrequited love.”
The angel looked up, startled. “Unrequited love, my lord?”
“My paladins come to me from love, Pharial, and you are part of my response to that love. If you spend all your attention on others because she ‘doesn’t need you’, how will she know that her love is reciprocated? After all, she cannot hear me as I hear her.” The god smiled for a moment, then went on grimly, “I have already sent a messenger to Hasnor, asking his permission for you to enter the temple where Sempleticus died. Elekiel, I need you to return to the Hall of Judgement; see if you can make contact with his soul and find out what happened. Off with you both now, I have implications to consider.”
The two angels bowed and left their divine master considering a map of shifting and phasing elements that was too complex for an angel to understand.