By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated PG)
[Editor’s Note – an explanation of the various races may be found at the end of the story.]
The four-foot being, called a naphelim, slunk down to the ground, his six blue wings fluttering, quivering with an immeasurable sorrow. Another naphelim, this one with gold-tipped black wings, walked towards him, worry etched on her face. He was her dearest friend, perhaps maybe something else, but he needed her as a friend right now.
“Techelah?” Dahariel’s voice was soft as she placed a gentle hand on Techelah’s shoulder. Techelah’s wings drooped as his head sank further into his chest. Dahariel unclasped her cloak and put it around Techelah’s shoulders, knowing that he would curl himself up if the grief became too great, and she knew this time, it would. Naphelim have a special bond with the giant rephaim; the two species have a deep friendship unlike any others.
“Why?” whispered Techelah as the tears began to fall, the grief over losing his rephaim friends was great indeed. “Why them? They had, they had so much to live for, so much waiting for them. Why?”
Dahariel blinked away her tears. He needed her to be strong right now. He needed to grieve, but he also had an important decision to make. She sighed. “You know why, the demogorgons leave a path of destruction in their wake, and Atlistah was a prominent member of the council for the islands.”
“But, still . . .” said Techelah between sobs. “So . . . much . . . death.”
Dahariel rubbed his shoulders. “Techelah, you need to make a decision concerning their hearts. We can’t let the demogorgons use that power.”
Techelah rubbed his eyes. “I, I know. I, I just need a moment.”
“I know.” She laid her head on his shoulder as she continued to rub his arms. “I know.”
It seemed more like several moments, but Techelah finally calmed down.
“You’ll stay with me, Dahariel?”
She kissed his cheek tenderly. “Always.”
He grabbed her hand and let out a breath. “Let’s, let’s get this over with.”
She nodded and led him towards the council room. His hand tightened around hers as they neared the table in the center where nine geodes sat, the hearts of the rephaim. Rephaim dissolve into dust instantly upon death, leaving behind only their hearts, which could be harvested to collect the precious stones within, stones that could hold great power. Since Techelah was the closest friend of Atlistah, he had to choose if the hearts of his friend and his family were to be harvested. But a single thought ran through Techelah’s mind. What good could be coming from using these hearts? Techelah much preferred that they lived rather than using the power stored in their hearts. He glanced up at the faces of the earthen, sixteen-foot tall rephaim and the four-headed, four-winged igigi that sat in the chairs, the rephaim’s fellow naphelim sat on their shoulders. Techelah’s heart twisted; he longed to sit upon Atlistah’s shoulder once more. He glanced at the geode that belonged to his friend, now he would be carrying Atlistah to wherever he needed to be.
He glanced back up at the council members. They all glanced at Techelah with pity and sorrow, but an underlying hint of urgency was noticeable in their looks as well. Yes, time was of the essence if they had any hope of stopping the demogorgons from getting any further in their lust for blood and destruction.
The lead igigi, Mikarel, used his human head to speak. The other three heads, a lion, a golden eagle, and a unicorn, seemed to be on the look-out for intruders. With everything that had been going on, they couldn’t be too careful. “Do you require aid in your decision, Techelah?”
Techelah mutely shook his head as he blinked back tears. No, he didn’t need aid in making a decision. Now, as he looked upon the geodes, he knew what the decision must be.
“What is your decision then?” asked the rephaim named Raphinel.
“L-let the geodes be harvested,” said Techelah in a harsh whisper.
“Speak up, Techelah, we can hear you, but they cannot,” said Raphinel’s naphelim friend, Gabyarel, in a loud and clear, but gentle voice.
Techelah nodded, the rephaim and the igigi did not have the fine hearing of the naphelim. He let out a breath and spoke louder. “Let the geodes be harvested.”
Mikarel rose and walked towards Techelah. “I know this is hard for you, but may I recommend that you be the one who watches over the stones, to make sure they get to where they need to go?”
Techelah squared his shoulders and flared his six wings.“It is my duty to watch over them.”
Mikarel nodded. “Good, thank you.” He switched to his unicorn head as it was facing another rephaim and naphelim who had visited the world of islands along with Atlistah and Techelah. “Segoriah, Jumishael, are the Islanri ready to accept the jewels from these geodes?”
The two nodded though it was Jumishael who spoke. “Yes, Mikarel, they are.”
“Good, we will send the geodes to our finest jewelers and they will cut out as many gems as they can. Techelah will take them to Islanra, Segoriah, Dahariel, and Jumishael shall accompany him, protect him, and help him in any way they can. I would, however, like an igigi to volunteer to accompany them as well.”
An igigi with a dark-skinned elvin head, a pig’s head, a seagull’s head, and a turtle’s head raised his hand. “I volunteer, Mikarel.”
“Thank you, Donturel. We have our plan then. Those who are accompanying Techelah to Islanra, please help him get the geodes to Leonarph so that he and his workers may get started quickly. Thank you all for coming, council is dismissed.” Everyone left the council room immediately, except for Techelah, Dahariel, Segoriah, Jumishael, and Donturel. Donturel and Jumishael gathered up the geodes with respect while Segoriah went to comfort Techelah, who was crying again.
“Would you like it if we brought these to Leonarph for you?” asked Donturel gently.
Techelah wiped his eyes, though the tears still flowed freely. “Y-yes, please.”
“Segoriah, will you escort Techelah to his room?” asked Jumishael.
Segoriah nodded. “Of course.”
“I will meet you there then. Come, Donturel, the faster we get this done, the better.”
“Indeed.” The two larger beings left, leaving the three-foot tall naphelim in the council room.
“Come Techelah, we need to get you home,” said Segoriah softly.
“I-I still c-can’t b-believe they’re g-gone!” said Techelah between sobs. Segoriah and Dahariel rubbed his shoulders and his back as they gently led him out of the council room. They walked him the few feet to the hotel where the council had provided a room for him. Dahariel let go of Techelah to go and open the door. She turned, her eyes widened in horror, and gasped.
“Get down!” She jumped on the two, pinning them to the ground beneath her. The next second, she was screaming in pain.
“Dahariel!” cried out Techelah. He crawled out from beneath her and stomped the wriggling purple thing that had clamped down on her wing. It let go after the third stomp and slithered back to its master. Techelah watched it retreat, his grief turning into rage. He glanced at Dahariel, but Segoriah was already helping her up.
“Dahariel, are you alright?” said Segoriah.
She nodded. “I-I think so.”
“Don’t worry, I didn’t poison her, not yet, anyway,” said a cruel voice.
Techelah glared at the newcomer. He was a naphelim with a snake-like appendix instead of wings, but it was obvious that he was a purple naphelim, just like Segoriah was, and that meant he had the power to create illusions, create music, create their own helpers to do their bidding, and use aether to summon his weapons. But unlike Segoriah, this naphelim intended to use his powers for evil. “Reljan!”
“It’s Ruyan now! Reljan is no more!” His lips curled into a cruel, malicious smile. “And I don’t need friends anymore, especially if they stand in my way.” The three watched with horror as Ruyan pulled a nasty-looking spear out of the serpent’s mouth. Techelah growled as clouds formed at his feet. He reached into them and pulled out a pair of swords.
“Segoriah, get Dahariel to safety, now!”
“But . . .”
“No buts, just do it!”
He glanced at Dahariel with a soft look. “I’ve lost Atlistah already, I can’t lose you too.”
“No wait!” she cried out, but Techelah was already moving. Ruyan laughed maliciously before he charged at Techelah. The two met in the middle, Techelah’s swords meeting with a spear and a snake’s teeth. Ruyan swung his spear and his snake viciously, but Techelah blocked each blow. Techelah flew over Ruyan a couple of times, but found that the snake had an incredibly long reach. He kept trying, though, he wasn’t exactly used to fighting solely on the ground. He flew over Ruyan again and charged him. Ruyan laughed as he blocked the blow.
“You’re pretty focused for someone who just lost a dear friend,” said Ruyan with a sneer.
“That’s because I won’t let you kill another!” Techelah attacked, but Ruyan parried it as he laughed cruelly.
“You were always the stubborn fool.” Ruyan thrust his spear, Techelah blocked. The two continued to fight viciously, Techelah’s swords whistling through that air as they blocked and attacked while Ruyan’s spear and snake jabbed at him from all angles. Neither could find an opening, both being excellent warriors, having been taught from a young age to defend themselves from large predators.
Finally, Techelah caught Ruyan’s spear with his sword and sent it flying out of his hands. The other sword was jammed into the snake’s throat. The snake and Ruyan both screamed in pain. Techelah flinched. He didn’t like hearing another in pain, but Ruyan insisted upon fighting for evil and Techelah had to defend himself and all good things.
Techelah let out a yelp as he went hurtling into the ground. He quickly got up from the fall and saw what pushed him. It was a giant eye with a pair of wings sprouting from either side of it. It seemed to glare at Techelah. He growled at it and picked up both of his swords.
“Ah, too bad. I would so have loved to have killed you, but I have a tight schedule to keep. So, killing you is going to have to wait for another day,” said Ruyan as he massaged his snake’s mouth.
“That’s too bad,” said Techelah. He beat his wings and jumped into the air, only to be assailed by two more winged eyeballs. He tried to stab them with his blades, but they were faster than he had realized. The third one rammed into him, sending him sprawling across the ground. When Techelah stopped rolling, he moaned and sat up. His swords were lying a couple of feet away from him. He quickly flew towards them and picked them up before turning around quickly to meet the next assault, but none came. Ruyan and his eyeball minions were gone. Techelah hissed and went off in search of him, but to no avail. He quickly returned to his room where Dahariel and Segoriah were waiting for him. Jumishael and Donturel showed up seconds later.
“What happened?” bellowed Jumishael when he saw Daharial was in pain. The three naphelim explained what had happened. Donturel and Jumishael watched them with concern.
“And you couldn’t find him anywhere?” asked Donturel.
Techelah shook his head. “No.”
Donturel’s face became grim. “I think I know where he might have gone. I hope it isn’t true, but it’s the most likeliest place. Wait here.” He quickly left the room.
Jumishael turned to Techelah. “You said this Ruyan used his snake… as much of a weapon as a third arm?”
He nodded. “Yes, it was rather . . . disturbing.”
“As it would be.” Jumishael glanced at Segoriah before glancing back at Techelah. “You really shouldn’t have fought him on your own.”
“I,I know, but he hurt Dahariel, I couldn’t stand back and do nothing!”
“I was trying to protect you, you idiot,” grumbled Daharial.
“I think you should rest until Donturel’s return,” interrupted Jumishael. He glanced between the three. “Now.”
“Fine,” they mumbled. The three took a nap for a little while until Jumishael awoke them upon Donturel’s return.
“What did you find?” Techelah asked immediately upon seeing Donturel.
He turned his grim face towards him. “As I feared, this Ruyan went through the portal.”
Techelah’s eyes widened as he gasped. “No! I should have stopped him! Why didn’t I stop him?”
Segoriah patted his shoulder reassuringly. “It’s not easy battling a purple naphelim when he uses his helpers.”
Jumishael nodded. “He’s right, the fact that you are still alive means you are very lucky.”
“No, it just means his schedule was more important than killing me.” Techelah paused as he pondered it. “Though, I wonder why? The portal wouldn’t close for some time.”
“Unless he was meeting with another demogorgon?” suggested Dahariel.
Techelah became grim. “It’s the most likely, it has to be. They were communicating through Ruyan’s helpers.”
“That’s the only explanation,” said Segoriah.
“Now what?’ asked Dahariel.
“We now must figure out how Atlistah and his family can help us through their hearts, and fast,” said Donturel.
“How soon can Lenoarph harvest the stones?”
“It will take him two weeks, at most,” said Donturel. “But, maybe if you helped him, it might go a little faster.”
Techelah nodded firmly. “I’ll do what I can to help. Maybe I will succeed in one thing.”
“We hope you will succeed in many things,” said Jumishael. “Do not lose hope yet, some good may yet come of all of this.”
“It will be a long time in the making, but yes,” replied Techelah.
“Then let us get started, we have a lot of work to be done,” said Donturel. He glanced at Dahariel. “But right now, young lady, you must rest that wing. I hope the damage is not permanent.”
Dahariel smiled wanly. “I hope not too.”
“Then come, Techelah, we shall see what Leonarph needs your help with. Jumishael and Seogriah can stay here and make sure that Dahariel gets the rest she needs.”
Techelah nodded. “Yes, let’s.” He turned to Dahariel. “Get better soon.”
“I will, who else will keep you out of trouble?”
He smiled softly. “Right.” He turned to Donturel. “Let’s go.” The two flew out of the building, but not before Techelah turned back around and waved lovingly to Dahariel, who blew him a kiss. Then the two were gone, and Dahariel went to sleep.
Igigi have four heads (a humanoid, a mammal, a bird, and a reptile/amphibian), four wings, fiery eyes, are about twenty feet tall, graceful warriors, champions of goodness and knowledge, and hardly ever change their mind once they’ve made a decision.
Rephaim are about twenty feet tall, their skin is like dirt, their blood like lava, their hearts are geodes that can be harvested and become jewels of power, and they have four fingers on each hand and four toes on each foot.
Naphelim are like a mix of Hobbits and fairies (their feet are more like fairy than Hobbit) with two to three pairs of wings, the color of their wings are coordinated with an element they have control over, they like to adorn themselves with jewels and flowers, and they have a strong connection to the rephaim (the rephaim’s hearts enhance the powers of the naphelim).
Demogorgons are a group of igigi, rephaim, and naphelim that follow the cult started by Lucayon, an igigi who made the decision to seek for more power and found that getting the mortals involved was the best way. Lucayon was destroyed in a combined effort of an igigi, a rephaim, and a naphelim, but many of his followers who didn’t change their ways are set upon spreading Lucayon’s evil thinking throughout the universe. Demogorgons have changed drastically upon becoming set on their ways.