Summery: Rea Lincoln is part of a Magical race that can be traced back directly to Lilith the alleged first woman who stole the knowledge of God's power and made it her own – hence making herself and her descendants the most powerful Magicals next to God. On her 'accidential' missions Rea encounters friendship, enemies, family and love. But in Rea Lincoln's world nothing ever is as it seems.
Rating: Rated M for a reason.
Miscellaneous: # indicates mind-speech
Prologue - Memories
Memories are like shadows; they chase you and never let go for the rest of your life, until you turn on the light and see them for what they really are – a portrayal of yourself.
Each night when I close my eyes, they come for me - to haunt me.
"Do you have everything?"
A door is slammed shut.
"Yes. Did you find the little one?"
"I found her, Mum, she was behind the piano."
"Thank you, Max."
The sound of rustling skirts and the faint smell of violets.
"Rea, sweetie, why do you always have to hide? Don't you want to go visit Aunt Adriana and Uncle Taylor?"
A barely suppressed sniff, then a childish voice - my voice. "I wanna…"
"Then there is no reason to hide, sweet. You are a big girl now, aren't you?"
"But … but… Dev always bothers me. He broke Sylvia, Mommy."
"Are we there yet, Dad?" Max is shuffling nervously beside me.
"Not yet, little man."
"I'm hungry, Mommy."
"I know, but we can't stop now." They are afraid -I can feel it in the air around us.
Max doesn't; he is annoyed. "Why not?"
"Don't ask so many questions, Max."
He shrinks back into his seat, sulking.
Silence, then muffled voices. They think we can't hear them.
"How far away are we?"
"Too far." Mommy's knuckles on the steering wheel are turning white.
"Did you contact 'Riana?"
"Yes, they are coming to meet us. But, Vel… I'm afraid. What if they can't reach us in time? The kids…"
"Don't talk like that. We're going to make it, okay?"
Lightening ... Screams ...The feeling of being thrown through the air. Burning heat and blood -everywhere the feeling of blood. Tired, so tired ... can't keep my eyes open ...
My parents died when I was six years old. My older brother was never found. The police believe he burned entirely when our car exploded. But I know it wasn't like that. It was worse -much, much worse.
Endless white with voices floating through it, like colorful, useless ribbons ...
"Oh, God … NO…no…"
" … poor Beille."
"… healed herself…"
"... healed herself … was thrown through the air … seen …"
"… strong trace of energy…"
"... the Ewed … taken … with them…"
"... must … Max … back…"
"… dangerous … forbidden … Guardians."
"we … to … owe … Vel…"
"…poor little girl…"
My eyes open slowly. It is difficult, as if there are weights attached to my eyelids. The light is blinding, I can't see anything.
Suddenly there are voices:
"She's awake! Art, get Dad, fast!"
A face appears before my eyes, blurry, vague.
"Hey, flea, there you are."
The Ewed killed my family. Because we hunted them. Them, who were slaves to the gods of the past – a past that is still alive in their name, as Ewed means 'slave' in Hebrew. But they disobeyed their masters and became free – free and wild. Fair game. In their eyes, my parents must have been the murderers. They deserved to die. As did we, their children, bearing the guilt of the gods in ourselves. As do all of our kind. Lilith's seed. Lilith's curse.
They never did find my brother.
"Do you remember me?"
A friendly face with big eyes, a mouth made to smile – and the smell of freshly baked cookies and endless secrets. I know who she is.
"Aunt 'Riana." My voice is tiny -I'm not used to speaking anymore.
"That's right, sweetie. And who is this?" She points at the dark-haired man next to her. I remember him.
"Uncle Tay," I answer, not really looking at them. "Are my parents dead?"
My bed moves when she sits down next to me. I'm not allowed to leave the bed yet because of my back, says uncle Tay. But I heal fast because that's my talent. It saved me, says Dev. He promised me that I can stand up soon. He wants to show me the gardens.
"Yes." Aunt 'Riana caresses my face. "Do you know what dead means?"
That's a weird question, of course I know what it means
"That their hearts don't beat anymore and their blood stops flowing."
Even today I can sometimes feel the moment my parents' hearts stopped beating, just like that.
Da damm … da…damm …da…dd …silence.
"What's gonna happen to me now?" I fiddle with the blindingly white bed sheet on my lap.
Dev turns around. He has the chocolate bar in his hand that a colleague of my mommy sent to me. Her name is Mrs. Emms and she always gave me cookies when we came by. To me and Max. Max...
"What do you mean?" Dev has a faint streak of chocolate on his cheek from the candy, which is melting in his hands. His powers get out of control sometimes when he gets excited.
"Where am I gonna go? Now that my parents aren't … here anymore?" Sometimes, late at night, I wake up screaming for my mommy. It is hard to realize that she won't answer any more. That's why I believe she does answer – from the heavens. They live there now, Mommy and Daddy, between the gods and the stars because they have done such good work on earth -that's what Aunt 'Riana says anyways.
"Stupid question. You're coming with us."
"But won't that be too much? You're five already." Rory, Art, Lo, Luca, and Dev, that makes five all together. Daddy taught me that.
"So? Our house is really big." He makes big movements with his arms and the chocolate splashes everywhere because he made it melt so much. "And Mama and Papa are your goust – parents, or something like that. Whatever. They're responsible for you."
I draw up my knees and study the patterns on my blanket. "What means responsible, Dev?"
"It means that they are there for you, I guess."
"Like they're there for you?" I try to keep my voice from shaking.
"Yes. And if they're not, I'm gonna kick them. Like that." His little foot kicks the air where he lets it stay for a minute before slowly pulling it in again. "See? Papa showed me that. Soon I'm gonna be able to fight just like him an' Mama."
"If I come to your house, can I call Aunt 'Riana and Uncle Tay Mama and Papa, too?"
He seems to think for a moment. "I think so, but you have to ask them first."
When I was six and a half years old I moved in with the Cone family. They had been my parents' best friends and were, just like them, descendants of Lilith, the first woman, the first demoness, who cursed her children.
And, to evade this curse, we sold ourselves to the gods, who once cast her out.
"Hey, flea, why are you so sad?"
I turn around as he suddenly appears next to me on the porch. "I don't know."
Dev stares at me. "But you should know. Aren't you happy for Rory? She's thirteen already. That's sooo old." He makes a big movement with his arms. "Papa says she can come on a mission soon because she's so strong."
I lower my head. "I am happy for her. It's only…"
"It's only what?" he inquiries as he sits down next to me.
It isn't easy to admit that I'm jealous even when it's to my best friend in the whole world. Mommy always said that you aren't supposed to be jealous.
"She has a birthday."
He doesn't understand me. "And?"
"I … I don't have one."
"Sure you got one," he tells me, ever confident. "Everybody has one."
"But I don't. Everybody gets presents twice a year. I only get once." I hold up a tiny finger. "See? Just once. And that's Christmas, and everybody gets presents on Christmas. So I don't have a birthday."
He looks at me, surprised. "Really?"
That's when he leaps up and runs into the house. I only stare at his retreating back.
"I asked Mama." It doesn't take long for Dev to return to the porch. Aunt 'Riana -Mama- has followed him and leans against the door. "She said that you do have a birthday and that's Christmas. That's why you always get twice as many presents."
I ponder that for a moment. It does make sense. "But I still wanna have presents twice a year."
Mama kneels down in front of me and takes my small hands in hers. "You are really special, you know, because you were born on Christmas Eve. Just like Jesus Christ, the son of God."
"Which god?" I'm confused, I know of so many gods. What is so special about their sons? They're just like us.
Mama smiles. "The highest one. The others, which contact us, are just His Guardians, precious. His angels. HE never speaks to us directly, but yet He is everywhere."
"Everywhere?" I look around. I don't feel anything.
"Well, that's what the Church says."
"And because He is the mightiest being in all of the worlds, His son is something special, too," Mama explains. "That's why we celebrate his birthday every year. And because you were born on the same night as he was, you're also something special."
"I guess." I think for a moment. "I don't wanna be something special, Mama. I want presents two times a year."
Mama sighs and caresses my hair. Dev, who has stood next to us the entire time says suddenly: "I think it's fair, if she gets just as many presents on Christmas as we all do. Can't she have a birthday someday else, Mama?"
Mama looks at me and is silent for a moment. "I guess she can. If you really want this, Rea."
Adriana and Taylor Cone became my second parents, even though they never adopted me officially. Their children were my best friends. I had a happy childhood.
Taylor was the head physician at the local hospital and Adriana the head of the police of the entire district. When asked how they got into such important positions at their young age, they often said it had been their firm believe in God. But, to us, they said we should never trust the gods. They would shoot us in the back the moment they estimated they didn't need us any more. Because to them, we are a thread. We are strong enough that we can be safely manhandled, and each generation becomes more powerful. That is the result of Lilith's curse. We are nothing but the tool of her revenge. One day we are going to destroy the gods. They know it just as well as we do.
But they still need us to bring peace to our and all the other worlds. Because the gods are not evil. They can't be as God's Guardians; as His Angels they are not created to be evil. But, in their benevolence, they only know the one God, and he who does not serve Him is to be damned into the outermost depths of hell.
"Dev … Dev …!"
He is outside on the field and the sweat is running down his young body. He is training everyday now so that Papa will take him along on a mission.
"What is it?" He doesn't turn around when I come to a stop next to him.
"Where is Rory?" I'm afraid, he has to understand that.
"She's on a mission." He wants to make me leave. "You should know that, flea. I have to train."
"But I can't feel her any more, Dev." The panic I feel raises my voice and finally he turns around, sighing.
"Sure you can't. She's in the underworld," he explains as if he knows everything. "She has to keep a low profile there. Otherwise, Luci would know right away that she's one of us, that's for sure. And if he knows who she is, she won't be able to keep an eye on him, now will she?"
"But isn't Lucifer one of the Guardians? Why is he supposed to be guarded?" I hate it when I don't understand things.
"Dummy, where were you when Granny taught us history?" He laughs slightly. "Good ol' Luci turned against the Guardians and was exiled because of that."
I narrow my eyes at him. "But Granny also said that Lucifer still worships the one God, and he only became the devil because God needed a balance in the world between good and evil."
Dev nods reluctantly. "That's true, too. And that's also why Rory is down there right now. 'Course, Luci has done too many good things, lately."
That confuses me. Can you do too much good?
As it so often happens, Dev seems to sense my question.
"When you are the devil," he says, "then you can't do too much good, otherwise you wouldn't be a counterpart to God, now would you? And when there is no balance between the two forces, then we have a problem."
I know what he wants to say: "Having a problem" means death.
"Damn it! She is only freaking eighteen years old, what the hell were you thinking? That she would be able to resist his charm once she got busted?" Mama is so angry that her energy forms thunderbolts in the air around her. But we all can sense the fear that lays underneath.
The astral body of the Guardian in front of us seems nervous. "We were unable to send somebody else at that time. She was considered untouchable. An 'ice queen,' was this not the term? Professional despite her age, and extremely powerful."
"Inexperienced, that's what she is. And if something happened to my daughter while you guys were too busy somewhere else to correctly cover up your fucking traces, then …"
She leaves the threat hanging in the air between them, but we all know that it is anything but empty. Mama is angry.
The Guardian knows it, too. "Your husband is in the underworld as we speak. He will bring her back to reason."
But Mama shakes her head and massages her temples. "She's a Wildcard, councilman, there is nothing to bring back to reason."
My foster-sister, Aurora, was a Wildcard. Wildcard; that's what the Guardians called the unpredictable amongst us. They aren't controlled by their fate, their fate is controlled by them. Some say that when a wild card decides not to die nobody can kill them. That's bullocks. Everybody dies.
Wildcards are many things but one – free. They may control their fate, but once they choose their path, they are utterly unable to diverge from it. That was the undoing of Aurora - the Dawn - when she decided to fall in love with the Night. And he returned her love.
Papa never brought her back home that day.
"Why are you still sad?" The old hinges squeak as Dev sits down on the swing next to me.
"Rory isn't coming back, is she?" I am afraid to ask what I already know.
"No." His voice sounds sad -she is his sister after all.
Pensively, I draw figures in the sand beneath me with my toes. "I'm a Wildcard, too, Dev. I'm afraid, you know? What if I fall in love and never come back? I don't wanna fall in love, Dev."
He shrugs. "I'll protect you. I'll never let anybody get close enough to you."
He holds out his hand, the smallest finger raised and slightly crooked. "Pinky promise."
I cower in the dark of my closet and hold my breath. I should have known that he would find me. He always does. "Rea, flea, get outta there. I know you're in there."
The door opens slightly and Dev kneels down beside me. "This is childish, Rea."
"So? I am a child," I say in a huff. "As are you. You are fourteen years old. You shouldn't be going on a mission already."
He crosses his arms. "But I want to."
"But I don't want you to." I refuse to look at him
"You don't have anything to decide. Papa says that I'm ready."
"Then Papa is wrong this time." He just can't go and leave me alone. I don't know what I would do if he never came back.
With utter conviction he retorts, "Papa is never wrong."
I sniff silently. "I don't want you to go."
He takes my hand reassuringly. "I'll be back in no time."
"That's what Rory said, too." There is so much fear in me.
He pouts. "But this is different. And anyways, Mama says that Rory is coming to visit us soon with her baby. It's not as if she's dead, you know."
I hold him down when he tries to stand up.
"But you could die out there. It's dangerous." My voice sounds weak even to my own ears, trembling.
"Yeah, as dangerous as a walk in the park." He tries to calm me down. Even in the dark I can see his ever-confident smile. "It's only an exploration trip, flea, that's not dangerous. And it's in territory that has been secured by Papa's friends. It's completely safe, okay?"
And I believe him.
The dreams come again and again. Sometimes I wake up from my own screams. Everywhere there is blood and a heartbeat that's slowly declining, just like my parents' hearts. Da damm … da…damm …da…dd …silence. Dev's heart.
Mama and Granny are becoming worried, even though they try to keep it from Apollo, Artemis, Luca and I. Luca says that Papa hasn't contacted anybody for days.
The part of the world Papa and Dev were supposed to explore, Kajtana, wasn't as secure as they had thought. And so they stumbled right into the eve of one the bigger battles that world was severely shaken by at that time.
I don't know how I got here. I fell asleep and suddenly I'm here ... On this battlefield full of blood and death. Out of nowhere a giant of a man appears, swinging his battle axe, but I don't feel any fright. He stares at me, as if I'm a hallucination of some kind. And then he lifts his axe and starts to strike out at me. But the blows go through me as if I was made of air. No, not air, but butter, warm, pliable butter which merges right back together once cut through without leaving any traces.
I have stumbled around for hours now, or has it been minutes? The warrior who attacked me is dead now – killed by an enemy with a blow to the back while he was distracted by me.
I don't have a clue where I'm supposed to go. They're everywhere, killing each other. But I'm totally cold and empty. I don't feel anything. As if it isn't me who stands here. I want to believe that's the truth. I'm not here. I'm laying in my bed and this is one of my odd dreams haunting me.
Suddenly I'm swung around.
"What the hell are you doing here, Rea?" I know that voice.
He can touch me. Does that mean I'm real after all? Papa releases me and caresses my hair. I know that he has cast a protective shield around us because the noise of the battle field is muffled.
"So, you have sent your astral body," he says, looking at me pensively.
"My astral body?" I glance down at myself ... and through myself. "I can do that?"
"Papa, where is Dev?" I don't see him anywhere. Why isn't he with Papa? He promised me that he would stay with him, no matter what. So that nothing would happen to him.
Papa suddenly lifts his head and all the colour leaves his face. "Fuck! DEV!"
Alarmed, I follow his gaze-
-and scream and scream.
There, on a little hill, between the enemies, my best friend lies in his own blood. And I hear his heart...
Da damm … da…damm …da…dd …silence.
The sound of my scream startled me awake. Cool hands caressed my face, calmed me down.
"Shhh, it's okay." His soothing voice reached my ear. "I'm here. Everything is all right."
And, just like every night when I woke up screaming, he took me in his arms and cradled me.
"Was it the dream again?" he asked.
I nodded silently against his chest. "It just won't stop, Dev."
His hands felt like cool towels washing away the last remains of my nightmare.
"It will, Flea, it will." He always said that and all I wanted was to believe him. "Someday everything stops. Just remember that I'm still alive, okay? That you saved me."
I smiled against his chest and slowly let myself fall back onto the bed. "You should try to catch a little sleep, Dev. We have a mission tomorrow, remember?"
He observed me pensively from behind his green orbs.
#Are you ready for it?# his voice asked inside my mind.
#Don't worry so much. It's just a small one. Now go to bed.#
He smiled at me but didn't move an inch. #Do you want me to stay?#
As if he had to ask. #Yes,# I told him, smiling.
When he lay down next to me, I snuggled into his warmth. Only when he was there did I feel safe. Because he didn't keep the promise he made me when we were both thirteen. He was unable to keep love away from me. And that's the one thing he was never supposed to know about me.
But Fate, once set in its ways, never plays by any rules.