Tags: thaladeneth


Some Days Are Worse Than Others...

I wrote this to ysabetwordsmith's prompt " From the Angels setting: a forgotten holiday."

Tala found Lasrial sitting morosely on a rock on the edge of their practice ground.  The older angel was usually serious and solemn but today he drooped.  The shades of the dead that thronged Thaladneth’s halls usually ignored the angels but they were crowded around Lasrial, so many in number that they made a barely audible susserating murmur.

“Lasrial,” Tala put her hand on his shoulder to make sure she got his attention, “what’s wrong?”

He looked up and asked eagerly, “Does our master have a task for me?”

“Not that I know of,” Tala replied, “but you looked so sad, I was worried about you.  What’s wrong?”

“Today would have been my first master’s highest holy day,” he was solemn again and a tear might have glistened in one eye.  “It’s a day I like to be busy on.”

“But today you’re not busy and you miss him?”  Tala couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to lose her divine master, and she didn’t want to know.


“Humans mourn their dead by going and putting flowers or lit candles on their graves,” she offered.  “I could come with you if you would like company.”

“Thank you,” he smiled at her, “but with a dead god that’s too close to worship to be safe.”

“Oh Lasrial,” she knelt down beside him and put her arms around his torso, and only his torso, under the point where his blue-grey wings sprang from his back, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s all right little one, it’s not your fault.”  He still hugged her back and he may have cried a little while she couldn’t see him as he petted her hair.

When he let her go she stood up. “If you want something to do,” she offered, “you can come and help me put all the books I pulled out in the library back on the shelves.  If there’s time left after that, then you can take me through my spear drill again.”

“Your spear drill’s okay,” Lasrial observed in a why-would-we-do-that tone.

“Given the amount of time I’ve been doing it, you can’t tell me it’s up to your standards!”  She flashed a smile at him.

“Well, no.  You have a point.”


How Large Is The Problem?

I wrote this to kunama_wolf's prompt "Tala/the swordlords - "Three turns of the tide""

The convocation of the gods was over and the participants had dispersed to their home demesnes.  Tala had taken Warial’s advice and kept her speculations to herself but she had continued to speculate and once the Thirteenth Swordlord and his small retinue had returned home, she took to the library when her duties and training allowed.  Dorthiel found her there when he passed the open door on his way to wash and change after practising sword work with Lasrial.

“What are you looking for?”  He had a fair question. She was surrounded by stacks of books, each book with pages marked by a tagged scrap of vellum or paper stuck between its pages.  Some books had several such tags.

“The Vardmasters,” replied Tala, “and their agents.  Tell me, Dorthiel, how do we know that an angel at the convocation is in the service of a god?”

“They arrive with their divine master, they wear his or her token,” he shrugged, “They’re an angel?”

“I didn’t see everyone arrive so I can’t say who arrived with who,” she started counting off on her fingers.  “I saw angels who weren’t wearing tokens, come to that I saw angels who weren’t wearing clothes-”

“The servants of Ebroum,” interrupted Dorthiel.  “It’s best not to ask, really.”

She looked at him doubtfully.  “If you say so.  My third point is that the Outcast are angels but they don’t serve a god.”

“They don’t serve the vard either,” he pointed out.

Tala sighed.  “Dorthiel, do you remember what it was like to be newly made?  Wanting desperately to serve?  Did you get turned down at all before you found a position?”

He shook his head, though she wasn’t sure which question he was responding to.

“I was rejected and I remember what it felt like.  I think if a Vardmaster had approached one of the Outcast when they were new and didn’t know any better, he would have taken service with it.”  Tala looked at Dorthiel, waiting for a response.

“But that would only give them one or two…,” Dorthiel trailed off at his younger sister’s expression.

“How does a new angel know that the Choirmaster who accepts his or her service is the Choirmaster of a god?”  Tala waited for his answer.

“Because-,” Dorthiel broke off and muttered a soldier’s expletive.  “You don’t think they’ve got the one or two we assumed they’d coerced or turned somehow, you think they’ve got a Choir?”

“It would go with these references to the Perverted Choir in The Three Turns of the Tide ,” Tala indicated a heavy, leather bound volume that sat on its own, not stacked like the others around her.

“Those are the prophecies of an insane god,” pointed out Dorthiel.

“Which came first, the prophecies or the insanity?”  Then she added, “And if he was insane and they meant nothing, why were the Vardmasters so quick to go after him?  Even before they challenged the Swordlords?”


The Need For Vigilance

I wrote this to kunama_wolf's prompt, "More on the world with the angels. Tala?"

The convocation of the gods was a great thing even if no-one else knew what the gods discussed behind their closed doors, not even the angels who had accompanied them from their own domains to this great meeting place.  The angels waited outside the bounds of the meeting in their Choirs, Phalanxes and Congregations their mien and demeanour depending upon their individual natures, some hovering anxiously figuratively and literally while others treated the event like an enormous angelic fete.

Thaladeneth, the Thirteenth Swordlord, had brought the smallest number of angels with him, a bare dozen, of all the gods.  That was few enough of them to move around freely and almost unnoticeably as a group.  Almost unnoticeably.  When they went visiting, which they did because the older angels had former colleagues in the service of the Third and Seventh Swordlords, the clustering of grim faced and dark clad male warriors had a single white clad sister in their midst.  Her white wasn’t the long gown or robe some angels serving other gods wore but trousers and a tunic finished off by brown boots.  She was a grace note in their clustering, breaking them out into individuals of strength from the lump of their commonality and when they spoke to her their faces showed unfamiliar flashes of humour, animation and even compassion.  Their old colleagues who’d taken service on different paths when their original masters died saw flashes of their old friends again.

Tala was asking questions.  What she’d asked this time was, “Why do the other gods bring so many angels with them?  It’s not as if we’re helping with the meeting at all.”

“It’s a hangover from the murder of the goddess Erithme when she was bathing alone in the Pool of Beauty at the beginning of the Death War,” admitted Dorthiel.  “Having our divine masters go off on their own still makes those of us old enough to remember that very nervous.”

“And no-one ever leaves their demesne unattended either,” added Gadiah.

“But that’s not why our master doesn’t bring us all, is it?”  Tala was looking around.  She cleared her throat, “I’ve been told there are some of us who’ve never been to a convocation.”

“Yes, that’s true,” admitted Dorthiel.

Tala tumbled on before he could speak again.  “It’s because he doesn’t want anyone to know how many of us there really are, isn’t it?  And someone who’s never here can’t have their face counted.”  She looked around again, taking in the sights beyond her now still brothers.  “So, is it because the convocation is being observed or does he believe it’s been infiltrated?”

Mauve winged Warial dropped his hands on her shoulders to ensure he had her attention.  “Little sister, we can all be trusted but never speak of this to anyone else.”

She looked around at the others, suddenly chilled as she realised that they all believed the enemy was already inside the gates.


An Instructive Conversation

I wrote this to ysabetwordsmith's first prompt.

“There are angels,” explained Lasrial, “and there are vard.  Angels are servants of the gods.  It’s what we’re created for.  We have free will, a desire to serve, a propensity to support the functioning of the universe and a talent for singing.  The vard are miniatures of their masters, the Vardmasters.”

“Wait, those things are miniatures?”  Tala interrupted him.  “But the one fighting Gadiah was as big as you are!  How big is a Vardmaster?”

“I’ve only ever seem them arrayed for war, manifesting to battle the gods themselves,” he admitted.  “Of course, the gods can manifest at any size they desire.  I’ve seen them large enough to hold a human or angel on the palm of a hand.”

Tala got a faraway look on her face, “That would be awe inspiring, to be held like that.”  She snapped back, “But the Vardmasters can do that too?  What are they?”

Lasrial nodded.  “They can.  The Vardmasters aren’t gods, they’re unmakers.  A lot of the gods have destructive aspects but the Vardmasters are different.  The gods and their angels support the sphere of creation we know as the universe.  The Vardmasters don’t want to destroy the universe but to subvert the principles of its creation so that it not only never was but never could be.  Everything they do is aimed at that.”

“Everything?”  The younger angel was astonished.  Lasrial sometimes thought that she was too open in letting her every emotion show on her face but when her thoughts were on their divine master he remembered what he had been like before the First Swordlord had fallen.

“Everything,” confirmed Lasrial.  “The Death War.  Stealing the souls of human dead.  Encouraging good men to worship dead gods.  Killing angels.  I don’t know how it all fits together but I know they’re doing something out there in the spaces beyond creation.”

“But what?  Why?”  Tala was confused.

“I don’t know,” he shrugged.  “Perhaps it is their nature.”


Tala's Fight

I wrote this to kunama_wolf's prompt.  It follows on from Might Have Beens.

Tala was returning home with the Third Swordlord’s reply to her master’s message when she came across the fight on the borders of her master’s demesne.  Angel versus vard, one on one, with spears.  Tala didn’t recognise the brown winged angel but she did recognise her master’s symbol on his shoulder brooch.  She didn’t know much about fighting either but she thought her unknown brother was in serious trouble.  She wanted to help but she didn’t have a weapon and didn’t know how to use one anyway but as she looked at the fight she got an idea…

“She yanked on its tail,” Gadiah told Dorthiel and Lasrial while Tala stood to one side in admonished silence.  “Threw its balance and guard off so I could kill it but I don’t know how she managed to pull it off without getting herself hurt.  I didn’t see or hear her coming and I’m sure the vard didn’t either but getting away without getting its spear through her, that was just sheer dumb luck.”  He looked at the much younger, female angel severely and she looked down at the floor.

“Tala is a very fast, quiet flier,” observed Lasrial.

“She is,” agreed Dorthiel.  “Do you remember those close-order, flying combat drills Hadural used to insist on?  Tala would have been good at those.  She can turn inside half her wingspan at full speed.  I don’t know how she does it.  Well,” he corrected himself, “I’ve seen how she does it but when I tried it I nearly broke my wings.”

“She shouldn’t be jumping into fights if she doesn’t know what she’s doing,” Gadiah said severely.

“But you’re my brother and you needed help, what was I supposed to do?”  Tala looked at back at him with her dark, silver-speckled eyes.

“Go for help,” he snapped.

She crossed her arms and snapped back, “I meant more useful help than driving that thing away from your body.”

“Do you have any idea what it would have done to you if it had gotten its hands on you?”  Gadiah was beginning to lose his temper.

“Nothing worse than it would have done to you.  I have actually read the texts with the educational pictures of those things in them.”  Tala was fired up as he was.

“Enough!  Both of you!”  Dorthiel held up his hands and spread his black wings in emphasis.

“You both have a valid point,” added Lasrial, “and I have another.  What if the vard find out Tala is our lord’s messenger?  They might well target her.”  The looks the three older, male angels gave her chilled Tala to the bone.

“So?”  The question came out in a very small voice.

“We teach you to protect yourself,” said Lasrial cheerfully.  “Gadiah will give you your first lesson this afternoon on the practice lawn.”

“I will?”  Gadiah’s question had a bewildered air of ‘how-did-this-get-to-be-me?’ to it.

It balanced out Tala’s response of unequivocal delight beamed at all three of them.  “Thank you!”


Might Have Beens

I wrote this to Anonymous' prompt.

Tala was sitting on a bench outside the entrance to the Third Swordlord’s sanctum.  She had delivered her master’s message and the Third Swordlord had sent her out here to wait for his response.  From here she could see everything that was going on in the great, open hall.  She assumed either the Third Swordlord did not care what she saw or wanted her to see what was happening.  She didn’t mind either way.  This vast, sunlit space was very different to her own master’s halls and although it was a pleasant place to visit, she was not so certain she would want to be in service here - there were so many angels she could not see how most of them would ever be able to speak with their master as often as she spoke with hers.

“Tala?!”  She thought she knew that voice and turned to look.  Not one of her cohort-mates stood there but two.

“Jalira and Menifi!”  She stood up and smiled at the golden and teal winged female angels.  The three of them had received their robes together and their voices had a similar range.  For the short space of time before Tala was told for the first time that she did not suit a Choir Master’s requirements they had hoped they might all three be picked for the same choir.

“What are you doing here?”  That was Jalira, surprised but pleased.

“And what are you wearing?”  Menifi was intrigued.  The other two were wearing sandals and robes very like the ones they’d been given when newly created.

“My master sent me here with a message for the Third Swordlord and he bade me wait out here for the reply.”  She looked down at what she was wearing.  “Menifi, do you mean the trousers or the boots?”

“Both really,” the teal winged angel clarified.  “I haven’t seen even the warrior phalanxes wearing boots.”

“My brothers don’t wear them either,” Tala shrugged, “but I got sick and tired of having bushes whip my shins when I came in for a landing.”

“Then land on the paths, not in the garden,” suggested Jalira.

“Oh, it wasn’t a garden,” explained Tala.  “I was out in the world carrying out a task for my master and I did a lot of landing and taking off in paddocks and overgrown places.”

Her cohort-mates looked at her with dawning respect.  “You carry messages and go out into the world?”  Menifi was wide-eyed.

“You don’t?”  Tala looked at them and was puzzled.

“We’re not experienced enough,” Jalira told her.  “We sing His praises in the Choir, of course, but we don’t have other jobs yet.”

“Our masters must organise the work differently,” said Tala calmly.  “So, you sing.”

“Yes.”  Both of them beamed with pride then Menifi startled.  “Practice!  We’ll be late!  Sorry Tala, we have to go!”  With that the two of them dashed off.

Tala waited till they were out of sight and then sat down again.  There might well be much to be learnt in a large Choir, she reflected, but such duties seemed flat compared to her master’s taskings.


The Work

I wrote this to ysabetwordsmith's first prompt.  I may have to work on getting shorter ideas...

“And Lasrial,” the darkly clad angel who had already turned to pursue his divine master’s orders paused and turned back to listen to the rider that was being added to them, “when you have finished, return here and spend some time with your new sister.  I believe it would be good for you.”  The rhythmic sound of whetstone on steel filled the spaces between the words.

“As you wish, Lord Thaladeneth,” Lasrial bowed again, turned for his running take off and was airborne almost as soon as he cleared the balcony door.  As he neared the metaphysical borders of his lord’s domain his mind was already on the task ahead.  Murder was always unpleasant but, then it was supposed to be.

The secret priest was, like all of his kind who tried to do good in the world, not nearly so secret as he believed.  For the matter to have gotten as far as Lasrial or another of his brothers the man had to have ignored divinely sent warning dreams and some fairly unsubtle rebukes from the priests of all three surviving Swordlords.  They were down to their last option for dealing with the man and that option was Lasrial.

The house was dark and everyone asleep.  Lasrial liked that.  It always seemed better for the survivors if they believed the victim had died in his sleep.  A few suggestions in the right ears usually saw any dependents into suitable new lives.  He just needed to find the right-

“Ho villain, put up your weapon!  This house is under angelic protection!”  The figure that stepped around the corner radiated light, its golden hair and the gold band of feathers on each wing the only relief from the unrelenting pure white of its appearance.

“What are you doing here, Outcast?  And keep it down,” hissed Lasrial, “or you’ll wake the entire household.”

“I am here to defend a righteous man whose good works enhance the lives of all around him,” proclaimed the white and gold angel.

“He worships a dead god and won’t listen to common sense and reason,” Lasrial told him flatly.  “I’m what you get when common sense and reason run out of time.”

“Who are you and why are you in my house?”  The sleepy man in the doorway was Lasrial’s target and obviously had no idea what was going on.

“I am here to defend you from the dark powers that would silence your light,” proclaimed the white and gold angel.

“I have to concede that,” admitted Lasrial, his blue-grey wings held in tight to reduce his profile.

“Angels fighting,” a fourth voice growled into the conversation from behind Lasrial, “if I’d known I’d have brought rat-on-a-stick.  By the way, I don’t want the priest dead either.  What you going to do, tough boy?”

The whiff of sulphur and the expressions on the faces of the other angel and the human together with the sound of that voice told Lasrial everything he needed to know.  He said conversationally, “There’s a vard behind me, isn’t there?”  The human and the other angel nodded, the angel beginning to draw the sword strapped to his side as he did so.  The sword blade glowed, of course.  Lasrial shifted his grip on his spear.

From behind him the vile voice commented, “Oooh, pretty boy’s got a sword, but tough boy’s going to make his move first.  What’s he gonna do?”

From the sound of its voice, their normal proportions and stance, the vital point in that baboon-like body with double bat wings and a donkey tail should be-.  The spear rotated in Lasrial’s hands faster than thought and he lunged backwards.  The resistance and weight told him he’d met his target.  Lunge forward to pull the spear free and rap the other angel on the side of the head with the butt, hard enough to knock him out.  Pivot the spear round its butt and take out the third target.

And it wasn’t a clean kill.  Lasrial wrenched out the spear, dropped it on the ground and caught the dying man before he reached the floor.  Once the angelic weapon was removed from the wound there was no mark in the mortal flesh.  “I’m sorry.”  The rusty emotion in Lasrial’s voice was compassion.  “That was supposed to be instantaneous, I must be out of practice.”

“But why?”  The man was bewildered as his life ebbed away.  Lasrial was acutely aware of other voices but this was the important one right now.

“I fought in the Death War.”  So many painful memories.  “I saw my lord, our lord, the First Swordlord fall under the weapons of the Vardmasters.”  The dying man’s eyes widened in surprise and wonder.  “I helped recover his body after the battle.  I helped clean it and lay it out.”  Pain and tears.  “He was gone.  There was no bringing him back.  No resurrection.  We cannot worship or serve a dead god, it’s too dangerous to the world.  When you wouldn’t listen, my brother, we still had to cut off your conduit of faith.  I’m sorry.”  The man’s eyelids fluttered, all tension went from his muscles, his eyes dulled and he was gone.  Lasrial dropped a kiss on his brow and gently put the corpse down.

“My husband…?”  The woman inside the room, who must have heard if not seen everything, was sensibly terrified.

“Is dead.  I’m sorry.”  Lasrial was brusque but he thought sympathy from him would be unwelcome.  “I’ll leave now and take the other angel with me.  You should summon assistance from the authorities – your husband is dead and you have a slain vard in your hallway.”

Lasrial collected his spear, resheathed the Outcast’s sword and picked up the unconscious angel under one arm.  Then he left.  The entire affair had been messier than he cared for and there was still to dead man’s family to consider.

Later.  “The affair was messier than usual, my lord.  My apologies.”

The sound of whetstone on steel continued unabated.  “Sometimes these things cannot be helped.  One of the Outcast rescued from himself, a vard dead and the worship of a dead god ceased.  All in all, I believe you should consider that a good result.”

“I caused unnecessary distress, my lord.”  That, that stung his pride.  Lasrial prided himself on doing his job cleanly.

“Distress can bear desirable fruit.”  His divine master continued with his eternal task, honing the edge of a sword.  “Now, go spend some time with your sister.  And Lasrial,” the tone said ‘look at me’ so Lasrial raised his eyes from the floor to meet his master’s, “she has never been in a Choir.  She’s as ignorant as that fool we’ve just packed off to Ashrenat’s Choir to be socialised, though less foolish.  She needs you and your few brothers to teach her the things she should know.”

Lasrial’s wing’s flared in surprise and interest.

“Now,” Thaladeneth paused his honing to consider the edge of the blade in his hand, “go make friends and be about your tasks.”


The First Of Her Kind

I wrote this in response to aldersprig's eighth prompt.  It is the same world as 'Forewarning' and 'Choices and Consequences'.  It overlaps with the second story.

“I’m afraid that you’re not quite what we’re looking for,” the Choirmaster said regretfully, his wings held tightly behind his shoulders, their great white feathers only visible where the folded wings protruded above his head.  Tala had already learnt that this posture meant the speaker was uncomfortable about what he or she was saying.  “Perhaps there is a place for you in one of the other choirs.”  He turned and began to shepherd his recruits away, his wings relaxing into a more natural position as he went.

Tala watched as he and her cohort-mates moved away, her own wings drooping as she did so.  “But you were the last of the Choirmasters,” she murmured sadly, uncertain of what she was going to do.  The newly created angels, and they’d been given to understand that angels were not often created so they were all special, had been told that they would be taken into a Choir serving one of the gods.  Looking around, she was the last of her cohort still standing in the middle of the sward in this junction of the divine realms.  The older angels who’d escorted them here from the place of their creation all seemed to have gone and the few angels who remained were beginning to disperse.  She needed to ask someone what she should do and quickly, before she was left alone.

“Why are you still here?”  The voice came from behind her and she turned quickly to face the speaker.  He was an angel with buff wings almost as large as any of the Choirmasters’ but unlike any of them he was wearing a short tunic and a garment her mind called ‘trousers.’  “If you’re not careful you’ll get left behind.”  His wings sat in a natural rest position and she thought he had a kind face.

“I wasn’t accepted into a Choir,” she admitted.  “Apparently I’m not what any of them are looking for.”

He ran a hand through his sandy hair.  “I thought we’d gotten past this with banded wings,” he said in a slightly annoyed tone.  “When the first angels with bands of colour on their wings were created, the Choirmasters were reluctant to take them on because angels had only been self-coloured until then.  Now they’re used to that but the younger gods tried something different with you and the Choirmasters have baulked again.  Now-.  I’m Micorah, by the way.  What’s your name?”

“Tala.  Are my wings really that different?”  She extended the right one forward so she could look more closely at it.  Each of her feathers was one of two patterns: a white rachis with white afterfeather and alternate white and black barbs; or a black rachis with black afterfeather and alternate black and white barbs.  The two designs leapfrogged each other down her wings, the fine striation and lines complicated by her new-made iridescence.

“I’ve never seen anything like them,” he admitted.  “I’m not a member of a Choir myself,” he went on, “more of a general roving task pool but you get selected for that by distinguishing yourself in a god’s Choir.”  As her suddenly hopeful face faded again he went on, “What I think you should do is visit the seats of gods who don’t have a Choir and ask for the chance to serve.  Start with the younger gods who were involved in your Cohort’s creation.”

“Because they must have wanted angels or they wouldn’t have helped make us?”  Her silver-speckled dark eyes lit up again with hope and a touch of curiosity.

“Exactly,” he agreed.  “I can give you names and directions.  Follow the directions and be polite to anyone you meet and I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

“Thank you,” she clutched the parchment he handed her to her bosom, “thank you so much.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

“Off you go,” he instructed.  “The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be settled.”  He watched her enter the demesne of the first god on her list.  If this strategy didn’t find her placed then certain gods were going to find themselves being divinely admonished along with Choirmasters who needed to be reminded of their responsibilities.  He hoped he wasn’t going to be presenting an unplaced Tala along with his report.

Tala had reached the last name on her list.  At least this god’s servitors hadn’t turned her from the door with her plea unmade.  The uncanny automatons matched the gloomy architecture, full of shadows and the whispering shades of the dead.  The automaton that led her through the building paid the shades no attention and Tala wondered if they were being rewarded or punished by their presence here.  Finally the automaton brought her to a chamber lit by torches and braziers.  Weapons and other war gear lay around while in the centre of the room, under a ruddy candelabra, a sole figure was sharpening a sword.  The automaton indicated the figure in the middle of the room and left.

Tala approached the god enthroned in his demesne and bowed.  “Excuse me, Lord Thaladeneth-“

“Which of my sibs sent you?”  He kept sharpening the sword as he spoke, the rhythmic sound oddly comforting.

“None, my lord.  I am Tala, one of the newly created angels and as yet unplaced.  As you contributed to my cohort’s creation I thought you might have need of my services.”  She waited on his reply.  The whetstone continued its work.

“I contributed to your creation as a favour in repayment of a debt.”  The god-voice rumbled through her.  “However, I do have a need for a messenger.”

“My lord?”  She looked up hopefully.  “Might I serve?”

He put the whetstone and blade aside.  “Let us consider this task a test.  Come here and I will tell you what I want you to do.  Your ear please.”

She walked up to him and turned so he could whisper into her ear, then listened intently as he did so.  The thrum of the god-voice through her body was surprisingly intimate at this range.

When he finished speaking and leaned back in his throne she did not move for a moment, then turned slowly to face him.  “Is there anyone, my lord, whom you do not wish to know of this matter?”

He smiled slowly at her.  “That is a very good question.”  He spoke a little longer before finishing, “And do not return until you believe the matter has reached the completion I desire.”

“Yes, my lord.”  She bowed.

“And you may use that exit,” he pointed with the sword at an archway that led to an outside balcony, “and come back that way when you return.”

“Thank you, my lord.”  She left him without a backward glance as she made a small run up towards the balcony, but he was not offended.  Angels needed that run to get easily airborne.  He resumed sharpening his blade.  This new one’s wings were really quite extraordinary.  He would have to make enquiries.

It was several months before Tala returned, re-entering by the door from which she’d left.  Thaladeneth might not have moved during her absence.  He was, as when she’d gone, sharpening a sword.  He looked up from his task as she presented herself and noted that she had acquired a light tan and a change of clothing, no, her clothing had been remade.  The long white robe a newly created angel was given had been resewn into a belted thigh length tunic and trousers.  Somewhere she had acquired a pair of soft brown knee-high boots.  Confidence glowed off her in happiness.

“You’re back.”  He laid aside the sword and whetstone.  “I had expected you sooner.”

“I wanted to make sure it all worked, my lord.”  She smiled, pleased with herself.  “Once I found someone for the task it was easy enough to put the scroll in his hand.  It was in with some books he wanted, and he didn’t even notice that I wasn’t one of the librarians.  Then all I needed to do was watch him to make sure he actually got it and it got back into circulation.  If I hadn’t stayed I wouldn’t have known if anything went wrong.”

“Very true,” he nodded.  “You have done well and I am pleased.”  Pleasure at his praise rolled off her in waves.  “A chamber has been prepared for you with a bath, bed and clothing.  There are chambers there for my other few servants of your kind, but they are rarely occupied and it will be some time before you meet your fellows.  This servitor will take you there,” he gestured and an automaton moved forward.  “I will send for you again when I have another task for you.”

“Yes my lord.  Thank you, my lord.”  She bowed and then went after the automaton.  She had barely left the room before a happy little song in an angelic soprano reached his ears.

The god took up the sword whetstone and resumed his rhythmic sharpening.  “What do you think, Dorthiel?”

A dark olive-skinned angel with black wings stepped out from behind a pillar.  “She is very young, my lord.  Micorah was concerned about her when I spoke to him and he’s right, she should be in a Choir with her fellows.”

“Perhaps,” Thaladeneth allowed the opinion.  “She is a thoughtful messenger and certainly a less threatening one than any of you.”

“True, my lord.”  Dorthiel did not smile.  “Our messages tend to be very final.  When will you put her to the work?”

“I won’t.”  Thaladeneth regarded the blade in his hand and with a flip of his will swapped the sword with another from a far corner of the room.  He resumed sharpening.  “I have other tasks for her.  You all carry out my will and the will I have the rest of you execute is often dark and grim.  Her task is to remind the rest of you that you have not become monsters or demons but remain angels.”  Only the whetstone spoke for a moment.  “Despite what I have you do.”

“You’d have us sing rounds of hymns with her?”  Dorthiel was sardonic.

“Why not?”  Thaladeneth looked up at him.  “It might be good for you.”