S.W.A.K. - The Couriers
By Diane J. Donaldson
Gabriel turned to the Ofanite, eyes blazing with flame.
"You will be my messenger, little wheel. Will you take my message and keep
it safe until it is time? WILL YOU?" She reached for his face.
Nodding, the Ofanite closed his eyes as Gabriel leaned towards him, and he
began to feel a heat that he had never imagined -- how could he? Fire had
always been his friend. Her kiss was pain and molten flame and something
else that flickered and vanished between them. He felt her withdraw, and
as tears streamed down his face, he opened his eyes to see her tired, her
fires banked. She turned and left without another word.
He knew what he would see when he next looked in the mirror -- the imprint
of her lips on his forehead, a mark that would set him apart from his
kindred, perhaps forever.
"I'd better invest in a few hats," he thought to himself, wiping away his
An Ofanite of Fire who receives Gabriel's special kiss is known as a
Courier by other Servitors of Fire. Three or four may be so marked every
fifty years; there are less than a hundred altogether. Though Ofanim are
normally immune to all of Fire's effects, the giving of the kiss burns.
This may be why Gabriel only marks Ofanim -- perhaps they are the only one
of her choirs that could withstand such heat.
The mark is visible somewhere on any form the angel takes, though it can
be hidden. If a Courier's vessel is possessed by another being, the mark
fades quickly, reappearing only when the Courier is again in residence.
On a human vessel it looks like scar tissue from an old burn; on animal
vessels it is burnt fur or feathers -- and it is always on the face. On
an Ofanite's celestial form it shows as a small dark spot on one of its
No one is certain what secrets Gabriel is passing on to her Ofanim, but
Soldekai has several guesses. Perhaps they are memories or important
knowledge that Gabriel is afraid to lose in her madness -- when she
regains her sanity, they can be retrieved. Or perhaps they are messages
that will be triggered when the Ofanite meets the right individual. What
Soldekai has begun to suspect and fear is that they are divine prophecies
-- that Gabriel has begun to censor herself in some cases, to refuse her
role as a heavenly prophet. Although Soldekai is certain that she must
have good and sufficient reason for doing so -- if that is indeed what she
is doing -- he wonders what a prophecy might contain that could drive her
to withhold it. And what if Gabriel has begun to receive prophecies not
only from God, but from ... elsewhere? It does not bear thinking about.
Soldekai does take comfort in the fact that after marking one of her own,
Gabriel becomes calmer, more sane, as if a great weight had been lifted
Not many on either side know of the Couriers. Belial would love to get
his hands on one, but so far he has been thwarted. Couriers are generally
cautious beings (for Ofanim, anyway) -- they carry something of great
importance to their Mistress, even if they have no idea what it is.
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