Author : Martin Berka
“Should you see a Fallen, send us a prayer that we may bring them peace. Otherwise they will bring you death.”
Egor felt like death. He could not get a full breath, and every joint asked only to be left alone, preferably far away. He approached the prone figure with curiosity, instead of the prescribed summoning chants.
Why would the gods’ commandment mention this? The description matched – wings, blades, tubes long and short, wires – but it all seemed so earthly. Traceable curves, clear edges. Profanum, not sacrum.
Then it opened its eyes, and Egor voiced the profanity aloud. It could have passed for human. After a moment, it shook its head (rattling wires, several were broken) and answered curse with ragged introduction:
It was a peculiar name, but who was Egor to question Fallen nomenclature? Death was far more gripping, having Eyn caught firmly. Creakily, Egor knelt, wedged a rock under its head, and pressed the stale bread from his pack to its lips. No sooner had they closed around the food, he felt a burst of heat. A strong hand clutched his forearm for long seconds. He felt a tingle, then for the first time, nothing. He stared at his arm as its skin tightened and thickened.
“Blessing,” he heard.
Egor led Eyn-Jel to the village. Several, those not paralyzed with fear, began their prayers at the sight of a Fallen, but none finished – word of its miraculous, life-giving power spread like the mist. Food was given, and shelter, and scraps of metal, and the sacred tongue went unspoken.
In time, it taught them of new gods, or perhaps older ones, ones they had followed before the “elders” filtered down from the stars, and they understood its purpose. Having healed the sick and given sight to the blind, the angel blessed the children, laying a hand on the foreheads of all but the gentlest. After a brief whimper or squeal, each seemed to gain in years and purpose.
One morning, the youngest, Chotei, ran into the largest hut where the angel held court. A priest was approaching, with escort. Judgment, monsters, and madness could be called down in seconds should they find anything unusual. Might their teacher hide?
“Stand tall or die,” it responded. And so the villagers led A’olate Rth’ola to the hut, avoiding the gazes of his massive companions. He screamed when he saw the metallic, undeniably earthly wings reaching up to the roof, and so did the villagers when lightning flashed from several of the angel’s tubes and reduced cleric and guards to charred scalps and hands.
It left that day. The villagers watched as their angel of death ascended once more. Egor stood pensively to the side. As the silvery glint vanished on the horizon, he lowered his eyes from heaven to earth, to the few dozen people who were his life. He saw his granddaughter Nola absently scratching between her shoulder blades. There were literal blades now, pressing up against the tunic, and the tip of a chrome-colored feather extending above the neckline. He fell to his restored knees and thanked whatever light-bringer had enabled humanity’s uprising.