Chapter 2: Of Angels and Mortals

Lenore sought sanctuary in the cathedral, with its Gothic-inspired architecture and solemn statues of angels. She liked sitting at the base of one of the angel statues, where she would begin to think. Her favorite statue was an angel holding an open tome, even though the statue was weathered by rain and snow, leaving stained streaks across the angel's cheeks, as though it were weeping. Despite the mars from time and the elements of nature, Lenore thought it was the most beautiful statue of an angel she had even seen. She found company with these solemn-faced statues, these icons of immortality and humanity.

She then remembered the angel she met in the rain, the angel who claimed that he was impure. Lenore remembered his hand against her cheek, which was the only thing she could clearly remember about him. Everything else seemed to be a surreal product of her imagination, though Lenore was convinced the angel was real. Her memory was usually sharp, and Lenore had a particular gift for remembering things easily, though every time Lenore tried to recall the angel's face, it became a blur. He was an ethereal creature who wasn't from the realm Lenore resided in, yet there was something undeniably human about him, all the same. Was it because he felt like a creature of flesh and blood like she was, or was it because he showed sorrow like any fallible being would?

The way his hand touched her face convinced that he was real, that he was tangible. Everything about Lenore's life seemed surreal, as she drifted through the days without a home to call her own. She always stared to the heavens in expectation, and a strange sense of nostalgia and heartache would form in her chest. Sometimes Lenore had dreams about the sky, the rain, and flying. At one point, she was drifting among the clouds, until a savage storm came, forcing her to plummet down to earth like the raindrops, colliding against the ground.

Once there was a girl (whom the angels called Lenore) who flew among the sky with a great pair of wings. But one day, she lost her wings during a storm, and then the rain—

-always elicited a nostalgic feeling within her. There was a gray overcast to the sky. Lenore had a feeling that it would rain tonight.

Slipping from the base of the angel statue, Lenore wrapped her arms around herself to soothe herself from the numbing cold. Something in the temperature indicated that winter was fast-approaching this season. Lenore heard footsteps, and Lenore's first instinct was to dart and hide among the statues in the cemetery.

Yet Lenore did not run and hide-instead, she stood rooted in place, wondering who wandered in this abandoned cemetery. Lenore held her breath, half-hoping that she would see the angel again. She first saw a glimmer of pale hair in the sunlight. Lenore's heart pulsed in her throat, and she is half-convinced that her angel came after all. Lenore would see him again, and then she would probably ask for his name again. She would apologize for forgetting his name (even though she never heard his name spoken in the first place, and he disappeared before she could ask him again) and say that she was a forgetful girl, that she was good at remembering faces rather than names. It's true that she remembered people's faces, though for some reason, she could never seem to remember his face-she could never remember him in all his utter clarity, his otherworldly presence, because he was something that absolutely unreal. Lenore could only capture a glimpse, a pale replica superimposed in the fragile lens of her mind from the brilliant and hallucinatory image that he comprised.

It took her a few moments to register that this stranger standing before her wasn't the angel after all. His eyes were the wrong shade-his eyes were green, not blue. The angel had blue eyes, she remembered that much.

Lenore blinked and wondered whether she was having one of her surreal moments. She had plenty of those moments, where she felt where nothing around her was real, and everything happening around her was a stimulus. The stranger before her didn't help matters.

"You have a lovely aura, Mademoiselle," the teenager said, staring at her with an easygoing grin. "Though you're a pretty girl yourself. Your eyes are interesting."

Lenore blinked again. It was unusual that he thought her heterochromia was interesting. It was an immediate signal to other people that she was different, and most people flinched when they saw the ocular disparity. Still, he managed to make her smile. There was something compelling about this figure, with his sun-kissed blond hair, vibrant green eyes, and wide smile. His expressions were animated, and all the subtleties and nuances of his emotions revealed themselves clearly on his face. Lenore immediately liked him when he flashed a disarming smile toward her.

"Thank you," Lenore said, her gaze becoming downcast. "You're the first one to say that. Though what did you mean by aura?"

"Am I now? People obviously don't understand the aesthetics of women, and you, mon cheri, are beautiful. As for auras-do excuse the lack of proper introductions, as I tend to be very scatter-brained about certain things-I'm an exorcist. I'm involved in the paranormal and the like, you see."

Lenore cocked her head. He was an interesting person indeed, and Lenore knew that her first impression of this teenager was a good one.

"My name is Lenore. What's yours?"

"Lenore, is it? I'm very pleased to meet you. My name is Marius. Marius Belvederes, at your service."

"What do you know about angels?"

A more contemplative cast took over Marius's features.

"I can't say that I've encountered an angel before, though I can tell you of other things I've encountered. I fought with a vampire once, and one of the vampire's closely related cousins, the succubus. She was a real pretty one, for a demon, you know, but, unfortunately, I had to banish her back to the Underworld. Oh, and I had a nasty fight with a Hell Hound-awful creatures those are. Though while we're talking about angels-what business do you have with them?"

"I'm looking for an angel," Lenore said. "Though I don't know how to begin looking for one."

"Well, lucky for you, you're looking at an exorcist. The paranormal's my business, you see. It's a risky affair, though it's something I'm willing to gamble. Besides that, I won't leave a lovely lady in distress. Though I must say, a cemetery is hardly the place for proper conversation. Rather morbid, wouldn't you say?"

"I like it here," Lenore found herself saying. "It's peaceful. Nobody else really comes here. I like that."

"Now that I think about it, this part of France is called Le Sanctuaire d'Anges—or the Sanctuary of Angels. Fascinating, isn't it? France is a beautiful country, though I'll always harbor a love for England in my heart. America is also a nice place-I've been there on a paranormal investigation a couple of times."

"It sounds like you have been all around the world, Marius," Lenore said wonderingly.

"I am well-traveled, if I do say so myself. Not to brag or anything. Still, I actually was investigating for paranormal activity. This place is thriving with spiritual energy, you know. And as I mentioned before, you really do have a lovely aura."

"T-Thank you?" Lenore said as she cast her gaze down. She didn't know how to react around boys, especially ones as cute as Marius.

Marius grinned.

"I've seen you from time to time while I'm performing my exorcism writes. You come to this church often?"

"Yes…" Lenore said.

"But you don't come out and greet other people," Marius said as he walked over and touched a few strands of her hair lovingly. "Hardly saying hello to anyone, except to come watch the pigeons eat the breadcrumbs from the priests."

"They let me sleep inside the church when it rains or snows," Lenore said. "But I prefer it out here with the angel statues. I feel like they're watching over me."

"I can give you a proper place to stay," Marius offered. "Forgive me for being so forward, but I've got a mansion you can stay in. You will be treated well and live in comfort. It must be hard, living out on the streets like you have."

"Have you…been watching me?" Lenore said.

"I just watch people and things after a while," Marius said. "And you would come to this church and put flowers on a grave for the people who died. I thought it was a sweet gesture of you, and you were called the Graveyard Angel in this cemetery and church."

"I see," Lenore said.

"I also heard rumors that you can see the supernatural," Marius said as he leaned forward and took in her heterochromatic gaze.

Lenore blinked. "I put the spirits at rest here. That's the least I can do for them…"

Marius smiled.

"You're actually a really kind girl, aren't you?"

Lenore blushed.

"I've….always been able to see spirits. I didn't think that there were anything like them. Though when I helped the Priests perform their miracles, people started to come to the Church and it made me really happy to see the smiles on their faces. It's a small church, and people may forget to pray, but at least this church can be a snctuary for those who need it. I take it that you're seeking sanctuary here, Marius?"

"Indeed your'e correct," Marius said. "Smart one, aren't you?"

"Well? Will you accept my offer, then?" Marius said.

"Can I still come to teh church."

"Of course. Whatever your little heart desires, mon cherie."

Lenore smiled shyly. "I've…never been good at handling people. I could talk to the spirits and ghosts and put them at ease, but I couldn't ease the hears of the still living. I guess I'm…too strange."

"Well, Lenore," Marius said as he grabbed her hand. "You've eased my heart today. You're easy on the eyes, let me tell you. But non, you're more than just you're allure and appeal. You've got brains too. I like that."

"Shall we?" Lenore said as she took Marius' hand and he led her towarrds a wide boulevard where his butler awaited him.

"Young Master," Cornelius said. "You're bringing the girl, I expect?"

"Of course," Marius said. "The poor thing has been living in the church instead of a proper home. I say it's about time that we take in one of the homeless and help ease her existence, right?"

"Very good."

Cornelius then drove the car that they cruised around in. Lenore stared out the windows, gazing in awe the summer landscape before her. The flowers blossomed beautifully.

"This looks…" Lenore said as she admired the grand estate while Marius took her her hand out of the car. "Amazing."

"Awe-inspiring, isn't it?" Marius asid with a chuckle, before he led her to the gardens. "This will be your new home now. I will test your abilities, if you don't mind."

"MY abilities?" Lenore cocked her head to the side.

"Yes. Obviously, the Priests have said that you've been given a divine blessing from an angel," Marius said. "It is apparently a special blessing that only the most powerful of angels could cast. It's a magical encryption that prevents the wearer from curses."

"I have that kind of power?" Lenore said. "I mean…the angel gave me that power?"

"As I thought, you really have seen an angel," Marius said while shaking his head disbelievingly. "All my life, I've never seen one. No matter however. We need to help you develop your powers so that you can fight against the eldritch abominations."

"You mean…" Lenore said carefully. "Someone like Satan?"

"I'm not talking about Satan, but rather the monstrosities that have been deformed and warped by his will," Marius explained. "There is a legend about the Sanctuary of Angels. That this part of France was protected by an angel that sung a song of magic and interwolve the city with blessings and magical encyrptions that kept this one Eldritch Monstrosity at bay. There's only a little remnant of the lyrics, though the encyrptions have corroded and faded over time."

"What was the angel that protected the city like?" Lenore asked.

Marius shrugged.

"Who knows. My family is said to be descended from that angel. Of course, I'm not so narcisstic that I'd think of myself as a divine being, but honestly, I hope that my beautiful image is firmly imprinted into your retinas, my dearest Lenore."

"You want help finding this angel?" Lenore asked.

Marius laughed.

"I've almost given up on seeing an angel myself. Or God, really. I don't know what it is, but there's something about preying to a Deity that is indifferent to a world of cruelty and harsh realities that makes it a bit hard to mindlessly devote myself to. There's still a lot of misfortune in the world, too many people are killed in senseless wars and violence."

Lenore frowned.

"Mankind was made in god's image," Lenore said, while Marius laughed.

"Indeed. He is said to be the ultimate creator who wrought life into the world, though humans also depict the very ugly side of God too. Did you know that Satan killed less people than God did? Who is really the good or bad guy here? And they said that Lucifer was the most devoted to God of all, and that his sin was loving God too much."

Lenore grabbed the pedant around her neck. "I think God put ugliness in the world because without that ugliness, we won't be able to see the beauty and splendor of it all. That's what I think."

Marius shrugged. "Well…call me cynical, but I don't think much of a Creator that spurned Lucifer. In Muslim ideology, Lucifer found God so perfect and loved him sodevotedly that he refused to bow down to his supposedly greatest creation, man, because Lucifer believed no other stood above God. His love for God only caused his downfall, and God threw away his most precious and loyal lover. The harshest rejection, don't you think? A deep betrayal."

"I see…" Lenore said, her gaze tilting downward. He wondered what caused Marius to loathe the notion of God, to speak of such things. She didn't know that interpretation about Lucifer, though she knew that Marius was a very intelligent young man and likely told the truth. But still…she couldn't bring herself to believe that Lucifer wasn't the evil being that was Satan.

"Lenore," Marius said. "My goal was to have you discvoer the lyrics of the ancient song of Sanctuary of Angels. I would sometimes hear you singing in the couryard of the Church and I know that some of it is the lyrics of the city, the True Words, instead of the trasncribed words that translators itnerpreted from ancient texts."

"I don't remember all of it," Lenore admitted. "Butit was a song that I heard, a long time ago."

"I would love to hear your singing, if you would please," Marius said, before he guided her into the piano room where he sat at the bench and began playing a soothing melody with his long fingered hands. Lenore took a breath and began t osing.

"In the Sanctuary of Angels

The one the angels called Lenore

Sang a song of divinity

That healed the hearts of those she mended

Her singing echoed throughout time

Going back to the first Angel

Who people say shone like the brightest star"

"Lovely singing," Marius said with a wink. "Truly lovely. I would've mistaken you for an angel myself."

Lenore cast her gaze down. "I'm just a simple girl."

"Well, it seems that we have some parts of hte lyrics," Marius squinted as he looked at piece of paper with copious notes on it. "The faulty transcription echoes what you just sang, though I know that your Words are the True Lyrics, because there are Auraflies all around you. Look."

Lenore looked around and blinked. All kinds of lights surrounded her, drifting gently and swirling around her like a mini galaxy. They were like fireflies,or maybe miniature fairies, and Lenore reached out to grab one. However, the ystarted to fade away and disappear, before they swirled and led her ot another part of the mansion while Marius followed her.

Lenore rested her hand on a wooden case, and opened it. Inside was a music box that closely reflected the song that she sang through sweet tinklling.

"Taht's the music box that dear Mother gave me," Marius whispered. "She was an avid devotee of the Church."

"Did she love God?" Lenore asked.

Marius smiled a bit sadly. "She devoted her whole life to God."

"I see…" Lenore said, before snapping the music box shut. "I don't know how to ease your heart. But I will do my best around here."