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Book 5: The Ash Collector
K. A. M'Lady
Rated: The Iron Maiden
In the beginning, God created man in his image; from dust and ash, hope was cast.
Yet, as far as time remembers, in the scrolls of history’s past, it was written that woman brought temptation to the garden. Woman introduced death unto man. But have you forgotten about the trickster? Was mortal destruction not his master plan?
There are those who say death is a celebration. One soul’s defiant, heavy passing; another’s gentle ease into the Light. Commemorations for the departed. Forgiveness of old transgressions. A final rest for pity, the end to immortal strife. But is death just the beginning? And who comes to collect you when you pass?
What happens to the worthy if the Light turns against them? Do they stand their ground – Stay and fight? What about those who seek no forgiveness? Do the deceiver’s minions scurry from the darkness? Come and collect their next eternal victim? Is everlasting damnation the deceased’s future plight?
My name is Faith Savage. I know what it is to walk the dark shadows at the edge of destruction. To feel the presence of The Collector in the night. I know what it is to bleed the dust of life’s possibilities, to sift through the ash of mankind’s hopes and dreams. To seek the evil that makes souls rot. It is here in this impossible darkness that I hunt demons, searching for my own answers and retributions, in the battle for the Light.
"Close your mouth, Faith. I already know you’ve eaten nothing today but the lies and hate of the darkness.”
I blinked. Once. Twice. Snapped my jaw shut and glared at him. I couldn’t help it, I was pissed. Where the hell was he five minutes ago when I was all but being drug into hell’s dark void? Where was he two days ago when the damn demons had claimed Father Daniel? Where were any of them? Couldn’t sully their fine, golden fingers, could they?
So, pissed it was. And so I glared. Glared at the perfection of satin black hair that hung in waves to his shoulders. Snarled at perfect blue eyes with their dark ebony scratch of brow above. I scowled at the hard angles and soft rounded edges of a perfectly beautiful face with its soft, lovely lips above the round of a perfectly formed chin.
Then I frowned at a gleaming set of perfect white teeth as they smiled back at me. I wanted to smack the smirk right off him. Not just for being God’s perfectly glorious creature, but for noticing that I noticed and being all damned smug about it. Arrogance, thy name is man—even if thou art an angel.
“Angels are not men,” he gruffly stated.
“Whatever,” I roughly replied, making sure to throw in the appropriate eye roll and snort of disdain. Then I pushed my way past him to the cabinet next to the bathroom door, all but opening it in his face so I could get some gauze and a washcloth to clean and wrap my still-bleeding arm. Each move I made was hard and with purpose. Yeah, I was definitely pissed.
Judge me, I thought. Could have shown up a little sooner. Like before the evil had killed my friend. I all but growled my annoyance as I slammed shut the door.
With supplies in hand, I turned to face a stormy-looking angel. As far as I was concerned, he could stand there and pout, or whatever he thought that look was. Peevishness didn’t sit well on such splendor. Either way, I was quite certain his aggravation didn’t compare with my own. Besides, I had much bigger problems than dealing with his wounded ego. First, I was bleeding like a stuck pig. Second, I had to figure out what the hell kind of freak-ass demon had just tried to drag me through to the netherworld. And then, of course, there was why.
Lately, there always seemed to be the why of it. Why did Rafael and Salvitor fight over me? Why did the darkness kill my friend? Why had my mom shit on me and left me with some sleazebag just for a fix? Why did God let the darkness touch me when I was supposed to be an innocent? Why, why, why? Was I ever going to get a damned answer?
“Well,” stated the voice of disgust from behind me as I began to soak the cloth in warm water.
“Well what?” I spat, back turned to Michael. My voice sounded cold even to me, but forgive me, I was having the beginnings of a shitty life—or maybe it was the middle. Did the great Michael think that just because he was in my presence, I was going to bow before him or something? If I couldn’t have my questions answered, he could stand there till, ‘til…grrr! ‘Til hell froze over, for all I gave a shit.
“I just saved you from a demon. The least you could do is thank me.”
There it was again...arrogance. I thought angels were supposed to be voids? Void of all of man’s pathetic base faults and frailties? Maybe this is what caused the problems in Heaven in the first place. I mean, here he was acting all…well, like a damn man. More like a petulant child, really, but I wasn’t going to point that out to him.
Deep breath, Faith. In, out. In and out. Just breathe, and you might get through another day.
“You didn’t save me,” I finally stated without turning, knowing that my voice was clipped, but it was the best I could do, considering. Besides, I was trying to wash away my blood. Wash it away so that I could get to the wound on my arm and see how many stitches I might need. Once again the Light had won, but I was the one that was bleeding.
“God saved me,” I finally told him. “And my faith in him.”
The snort that followed is what caught my attention and furrowed my brow. The speculative gleam in those dark blue eyes is what made my stomach clench. Made me wonder, is he kidding me?
“Just making sure you’re aware,” he finally replied after my heart skipped about four beats. Then he closed the distance between us.
I continued to glare at him. Only now, I felt very untrusting. And aggravated. How could he respond in such a way? He was God’s warrior. His right hand man, err, right hand angel, so to speak.
What the hell was going on in Heaven anyway?
Without a word, he reached for my blood-soaked arm.
He stood behind me like a towering cliff or expanding oak and I was encased in the shadow of his grandeur. For those few moments while he held my wounded arm he said nothing else to me, simply healed, where the darkness had destroyed. Eased my suffering and my pain where the darkness had only reveled in my destruction.
Just a bystander, I could do no more than watch in silent awe as strong fingers softly smoothed away raw and ragged flesh, torn deep enough to expose the meat below. I grew amazed at the ethereal, glowing light that began to shine within him as he held my arm and the pain slowly subsided. Then with one gentle caress, the light passed between us.
I marveled in the warmth of heat that filled me. It felt so much like a summer day filled with the wonder of life and hope as it spread from his outstretched fingers and passed like a soft breeze through my flesh.
I stared in disbelief as the wound dissolved away, leaving the glow of healed, pink skin below. He stepped back from me and it was then I noticed the full arc of wings that surrounded him. They were white in color, but they were so much more. They reminded me of the crystal glow of newfound snow shimmering in the first haze of dawn. The mist of morning come to life against each feather, rife with sunshine and the essence of all the light in the world—woven with wonder, magic and the glistening sparks of hope. That is what I saw reflected in the mirror. What I saw in a glowing celestial haze surrounding Michael, his glorious wings expanded, the light of God filling him. It reminded me that we should all be amazed, glorified, and most importantly, thankful.
Then, the light faded. Michael’s wings subtly disappeared and I was left to the normality of life, death and the pages of my own so-called life.
Lord, I prayed; whatever you have in store for me, just walk a little farther with me. Just give me strength.
Got Faith? Get in on the hunt....
Available Now at Mojocastle - http://www.mojocastle.com/FaithSerial.html
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Bonus Story - Faith's Temptation - In the beginning there were those with Faith and there was Faith's Temptation
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Book 1 ~ Glow - And the Light shall shine in the Darkness
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Book 2 ~ Fear No Evil - Though I may walk through the valley of death I shall Fear No Evil
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Book 3 ~ Transgressions - In the battle of good and evil whose side will you be on?
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Book 4 ~ When Angels Fall - The Light will show the way for the damned to meet their end.
Coming to Mojocastle Press -
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Book 5 ~ The Ash Collector - Available 10-6-11 - With Faith Every Demon Has Its Day
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Book 6 ~ Wicked's Kiss - Available 10-20-11 - Some Hungers Burn Hotter Than Hell
Faith Savage - Demon Huntress - Book 7 ~ Sinner - Available 11-4-11 - Redemption Has Its Price - Are You Willing To Pay?
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Ramshackle Castle ~ Bent Poetry & Other Altered Verse - Buy it today at ARe
Just Another ParaNormal Christmas - Buy it today at ARe
Then get in on the hunt with Faith Savage ~ Demon Huntress - Available Now
Enter the darkness that is Realm - the series - Available Now