Zarya took a deep breath, steadying herself for the conversation she was about to have with Paulo’s son. Deep down, in places she didn’t want to acknowledge, she questioned the War. Its consequences always weighed heavy on her, but even more so when she dealt with the children of fallen and wounded comrades.
Taking the last few steps to enter into the Battlement of the Stars, Zarya said, “I thought I’d find you here.”
Jordan watched the night sky from the Battlement of the Stars, his face pulled tight with worry. The cool breeze blowing across the plain ruffled the feathers of his wings.
He turned to face her. He had to tilt his head to look her in the face. She was tall, even for an angel.
Zarya shook her head. “There wasn’t enough hemlock to wipe out his entire physical system, but they are still evaluating his condition.”
Jordan hunched further into his jacket. “How come he got hurt? He said he would be safe.”
“Have you heard the saying ‘Where angels fear to tread’? There’s a reason for angels to be cautious when they are on Earth. When your father took on a body, he became vulnerable to death.”
Zarya’s wings twitched. “We aren’t immortal when we’re in bodies.”
Recognizing his silence for worry, she said, “Hey, he’ll be okay, I promise.” She put an arm around his shoulders, and squeezed lightly. “It’ll all be okay.”
She spoke with conviction she didn’t feel. Somehow Ahriman, or his followers, identified Paulo as an angel, and poisoned him. They had brought the War to Earth, where angels could die.
Jordan looked out across the plain, his face twisted in a scowl. “So why would anyone volunteer to go down to Earth?”
“Because your father believed it a worthy risk,” Zarya said, wincing at how sharp she sounded. She leaned against a rampart, and crossed her arms.
“Your father has seen, on Earth, places every bit as beautiful as the garden of I AM. Trees and plants grow large and green, water flows, and the air is sweet to breathe.”
She followed the boys gaze, taking in the open expanse. Trees no longer grew in the barren ground. Scrub grass poked through the sandy, red soil. The Citadel of the Stars was the last stronghold in this principality against Ahriman’s army.
“If we don’t stop him, Ahriman will turn the humans against us, and then the Battle will be lost forever. Earth will be destroyed, the Angels will all be imprisoned, or murdered, and I AM will be alone.” She looked at Jordan. “Our fate is tied to Earth’s… to the humans. We have to help them.
“Jordan?” An angel from the infirmary called from the head of the stairs. “Your father is asking for you.”
The boy’s face lit up. He took several steps toward the stairs, and then turned back. “Thanks, for staying with me.”
“Sure.” She watched until he disappeared down the stairs. Straightening up from the rampart, she smiled to herself, and said, “Thanks for making me remember why the risk is worthy.”