“Come here often?” The angel looked to the woman with a cruel smile, sitting atop a jagged volcanic rock as the woman did her best to avoid its gaze. “I’m thinking of setting up a shop, right here. An emporium, filled with bustling crowds. Think it’s a good location?”

The woman pressed on, silent as she tugged her pack closer to her and slipped into a descending slope. A few paces later she came out to level ground, the angel sitting in front of her once again, now with a cup of tea in its hands.

“Come to think of it, I may be a few centuries early for that sort of thing…” It sighed wistfully. “Always so difficult to keep track of time down here. Speaking of, aren’t you supposed to be being fruitful and multiplying about now, rather than… whatever this is?”

“Please leave me alone,” the woman muttered, kneeling down to collect some odd crystals peaking out of a flow of obsidian. “This is penance enough without an audience for it as well.”

“Well, surely better places to be than here, though?” The thing laughed, a sliver of radiance creeping out from it as it did. “Why, I hear the first city is already built, not very far from your once-home. Farms and cattle galore, lovely place really.”

“I said, leave me alone.”

“In fact, when I visited, the city’s king, well, petty king I suppose, told me a fascinating story about his once-wife. Blamed so many of his problems on her. Said she was cursed by the Creator themself. Of course, he seems to be doing well enough now, remarried and all.”

“You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you?” She stood, unsheathing a knife from her side and holding it out towards the angel. “If you continue, I’ll find a better use for your ichor.”

“Oh, wonderful!” The angel beamed, standing up and beginning to shine in excitement. “Do you promise? It’d simply make my eon to have you take a literal stab at me.”

“What do you want with me?”

“Information, is all. Company as well, I suppose. I saw a stray human, years and years away from her children, and I thought maybe she could use a friendly face?”

“I wouldn’t describe an angel as a friendly face.”

“Oh, forgive my other siblings, they’re just very excited to finally see the earth filled with you lot.” It shrugged, still smiling eerily. “Though that does return me to a previous point. Why does he talk so poorly of you?”

“Why does he talk so poorly of everyone who disappoints him? I wasn’t the first; I won’t be the last.”

“Ah, yes, the first wife. I hear she’s doing well for herself, making a new home in another realm. A real bright side of everything sort of woman, that one. Remarried, too.”

“I hope all is well for her.” She sheathed her knife, looking at the angel with newfound curiosity. “None of the others I’ve met would speak of her; why do you?”

“I’ve never been much like my other siblings. They’re content to their secrets; I think eternity is enjoyed far more without them. We all deserve knowledge, and especially you, even if recent experiences may not have been so kind to you. How long has it been, anyways?”

“I haven’t been counting the years.”

“No, I imagine not. Time might not have much meaning for you yet. The terror of what comes after hasn’t quite set in yet.” It laughed once more. “Come now, though. Ask me about my travels, I can tell you’re dying to. No stipulations. No catches.”

She thought for a moment, watching the angel’s face for any hint of its intentions, before finally sighing and sitting down. “How are my daughters?”

“Well enough I suppose; certainly not lacking in attention from their father. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he has more an interest in them than he ever did in you.”

“Nothing new for him. I bored him well before we ever stepped foot on this cursed soil.”

“Well, you know what they say… well, no, you don’t, they haven’t said it yet. Still, I wouldn’t worry about your children too much. I have a feeling everything’s going work out just fine. Why, one of my brothers already is preparing a settlement for the banished and exiled.”

“Cold comfort, forced from one tyrant to another.”

“Such a grim outlook. I hear he’s teaching them how to refine the earth into tools, amongst other wonders. Always the craftsman, that one.” Its gaze drifted to the woman’s satchel, tilting its head with curiosity. “You, meanwhile… quite the collection of items you’ve been harvesting. You mentioned my ichor, earlier, threatened to take it at knifepoint. What significance is it to you?”

“I know it has power.” She fished a vial from her side, its golden hue shining brightly in the shade. “This was given to me by one of your kin. It took pity on me and bled itself. A drop staves off hunger for days, but I know it can do more. I can feel it.”

“It certainly can, but I would… hmm, hesitate to use it as food. May have unintended consequences.” It laughed a final time, looking towards the sky with a certain yearning and excitement. “Tell you what, let’s make a deal, me and you. I know you feel more than just the ichor. You feel the power of the earth beneath your feet. You hear the music, the resonance of things that hold sway over this world. You just don’t know to conduct that chorus quite yet. But I do.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“That power you feel is the magicks of this world. Different from my own, but similar enough. Threads of mana permeate everything; soon, they will gather to form rivers. And you… you will be able to bath in that power, to claim it for your own.”

“And why would I agree to this, if I could discover this myself?”

“Well, you might kill yourself, for one. Hate to cut a vibrant life like yours off so quickly. Besides… I genuinely want to help you. I see such potential, in you and in your kind.”

“And what do you get out of this… mentorship you’re proposing?”

“A friend, of course.” It leapt to its feet, holding a hand out. “Someone interesting to talk to. Come, I’ll give you a trial, a taste of what’s to store, and you’ll give me your thoughts on my family troubles.”

She looked at the thing’s hand, thinking about the countless miracles she could work if she understood the world, the risks involved in commanding them…

She took its hand. “Show me.”

“As you wish, my witch-to-be.”







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