By Moe Lane
"I will not insult you by asking whether you're sure
The Archangel of Faith turned and looked his brother
straight in the eyes. An independent observer might
be forgiven for thinking that no expression of quiet
mirth had taken possession of Khalid's features.
"And yet, the question is there - without ever it
technically being said. Your position has taught you
The Archangel of the Sword half-frowned. "Among a
number of other things. One of them is that the
Seraphim Council hates surprises. I can see the
strategic value of your demonstration, but are you
quite so certain of its tactical utility? Our
colleagues will be in an uproar for days over this..."
"And is this such a dreadful outcome?"
Laurence chuckled softly. "Possibly not. If nothing
else, it should get Janus firmly in our camp. He will
find the next few days enjoyably chaotic, no doubt.
That's three. I am certain that Blandine will not
cause much of a fuss, and of course my mother will
almost certainly beam one of her diabetes-inducing
smiles and then fall immediately into our camp. This
brings us up to five ... six, if I have read Gabriel
correctly ... and that will be enough for a start. We
can get the others to accept the inevitable in good
time. After a good deal of screaming and shouting, of
At this point, the slight figure, cloaked in the
combined attention of two Archangels, spoke up.
"Forgive me, Great Ones, but I would not have my
affirmation cause an unseemly contention between
The Archangel of the Sword cut her off with a sudden
gesture of the hand, his black wings flickering in
almost-irritation. "Your pardon, milady, but this has
been already settled. What you are must be accepted,
and the sooner the better. My colleagues on the
Council tend at times to forget that while I listen to
their counsel, it is my duty and privilege to
command ... and that I am remiss in my duties if I
fail to use any and all honorable weapons that come to
hand. You are most assuredly an honorable weapon, and
I will not allow you to rust uselessly away." Laurence
looked up to meet Khalid's eyes. "We have been doing
too much of that lately as it is.
"And I suppose that I have answered my own question,
brother. You are no stranger to subtlety,
yourself: your silences are most eloquent."
The Archangel of Faith spread his hands. "You always
did find the right answer, if given the chance to work
through the problem." He quirked his head.
Laurence grinned. "Remind me to have you up on
charges of insubordination later. If this goes
extremely badly, Dominic might even try to give us
adjoining cells." The Archangel placed one hand on
the door to the Council Chambers and opened it.
"Ladies before gentlemen ... and, of course, age
Khalid murmured as he passed, "You are happy that I
am back, it seems."
"Of course," came the equally quiet reply. "If
nothing else, it gives my Sergeant-Major someone else
to benevolently tyrannize."
The Council Chambers were, of course, packed. An
announcement from the Archangel of the Sword that he
'requests and requires' the presence of every Superior
is exceedingly rare, and taken quite seriously for
just that reason. Of course, every Archangel present
had also decided to come escorted with quite a few
aides, adjutants, assistants and ceremonial guards,
the better to underscore the fact that, indeed, they
were all very busy entities who should not have their
collective time wasted. This did not particularly
bother Laurence: indeed, he expected it. The more
witnesses to this, the better. It would save valuable
The Archangel of the Sword could feel the shifting
dynamic in the room as everyone present attempted to
look at him, Khalid and their mutual guest at the same
time, only to be blocked by Superior-level shielding.
The mass attention gradually coalesced upon him as he
ascended the podium - after all, he was the only one
of the three actually doing anything - and focussed
sharply as he accepted the ceremonial gavel from Marc.
Laurence recognized the slightly apprehensive flavor
of that attention, and grinned inwardly as he led the
congregated angels in a short prayer.
"I am not here to make a speech." The apprehensive
flavor notably decreased. "In fact, I am not going to
speak much at all ... except to say that Khalid bears
my message. He also bears my full, total and utter
support for that message." Laurence unblocked part of
his shielding. "Full support."
The Archangel of the Sword looked down on his brother.
"Lord Khalid, you may proceed. Do you require the
podium?" The Archangel of Faith shook his head
slightly as he laid a short carpet on the ground.
"No, Lord Laurence. Indeed, I will follow your
example and not give a speech at all. Like you, I
have someone who will speak the message that I wish to
convey. Anushin-rawan, you may step forward, if you
so choose, and speak."
The cloaked figure came forward. "I thank you, Great
One." She moved forward to the edge of the carpet,
stood for a moment - and both Archangels silently
removed her shielding. The Council was stunned to
utter silence as her form was revealed.
She was a Djinn.
Not one of the demons called by that name: her imago
was clearly ethereal, and showed her to be one of the
spirits associated with Middle Eastern legend.
Technically, it would be more accurate to call her a
Djinniya, or possibly an 'Ifriteh: while her garb was
modest, it made no attempt to hide her femininity ...
or incongruous beauty. As she stood there in utter
silence - an ethereal, standing in a place where no
ethereal could be expected to stand and survive - it
was clear why human legend spoke of her species as
being made of 'smokeless fire'. She burned, and was
not consumed: she shed light, and did not bring
Up on the podium, Laurence allowed himself a slight
smile as he witnessed Dominic and Michael
simultaneously read Anushin-rawan's essential Truth
... only to sit back with identical looks of shock.
He idly noted that Litheroy, Marc or Zadkiel did not
look particularly surprised, and filed that piece of
information away for later use.
In a perfectly timed moment, before the inevitable
cries and shouting could begin, Anushin-rawan
curtseyed to Laurence, bowed low to Khalid and knelt
on the carpet, prostrate before the Light of Heaven.
Her voice was musical and rich as she spoke.
"La Ilaha-Illa Allah, Muhammad al-Rasul Allah."
The words of the traditional Muslim profession of
Faith rang out like a bell. The two sons of Uriel
looked at each other. One smiled; the other slowly
And then the screaming and shouting started.
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