The sequel to Wingéd tells the story of Kapera, a rebellious foiche Dé, a weapon of God, in her fight to save the life of the little baby, Grace, to whom Friedel gifted her powers. This seemingly innocuous act eight years ago made both Grace and Kapera targets of Demons. The Wingéd cannot let them fall into demonic hands. However, Kapera is a reluctant participant. She finds the Wingéd pompous, cryptic, and cold, and she wants nothing to do with them. Yet in spite of her feelings, Kapera risks everything she holds dear to save the millions that would die if the Demons get a hold of this one child. Can Kapera put aside her anger long enough to defend Grace against certain death? Will she ever find the peace she craves?
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At the dawn of human existence, a human soul leapt from the ledge of a mountain and merged with a Moth Spirit, giving her wings. Since then, thousands of souls have taken the Leap in commemoration of the sacrifice Mien made. They are the Wingéd, spirits called to guide the living. However, born from the fires of hell came the Demon Wingéd. Tortured and twisted spirits, their wrath and hunger for violence knows no bounds, leading them to kill and spread torment wherever their feet touch down. Chaos reigns where Demons dwell.
Caught in the crossfire, the living ventured out at their own peril. So, they were sent a warrior: the foiche Dé. They were never meant to be more than a weapon, but a mistake was made and Friedel, a foiche Dé, died and became Wingéd. After discovering a conspiracy stemming from the Seraph, the highest of all Angels, Friedel cleansed the Hall and gave her powers to a very special little girl, Grace, not knowing she’d put all other foiche Dé in the worst peril. These are not the stories of the Wingéd. These are the tales of the foiche Dé.
The Dragons were Demon hunting. Due to a recent surge in activity, they had been put on the offensive. Cassius focused his eyes down on the streets below. His squadron had tailed a Demon Wingéd through the forest. Their aim was to lure it away from the city, but instead, it had slipped through their ranks and was hiding among the humans there.
Under the setting sun, most were headed home. He heard a crash, and his eyes darted to see a goat trampling some pottery. “You filthy beast!” a woman shouted and started to chase it with a broom. “I had milk in there for the morning!” Cassius grumbled at the distraction.
When he was alive, Cassius used to live in this city, although it was barely more than a village then, with brick huts made out of mud and grass. It had flourished in the time he’d been dead; they had houses carved out of stone, distinct roads, walls one could walk on, and others that carried water. The advancements were amazing, but they made it possible for evil things to hide. Things far more sinister and frightening than any human man could fathom in his worst nightmares.
His squadron leader glided in next to him from a few rooftops away. “Anything?”
“No activity so far,” Cassius replied. “Do you think he’s gone?”
“Oh, no, he’s here. I can smell him. Just can’t pinpoint where.” He crossed his arms. “What the hell are they doing here? That is what I want to know. No intelligence I have says this area is of any importance.”
“Demons sometimes do things at random.”
“Yeah, but not the high ranking ones. This isn’t just any grunt looking for a kill,” his squadron leader insisted. “What is he looking for? What does he know that I don’t?”
From across the city, a female Dragon waved her hand; it was the signal they’d been waiting for. As they grew closer, the smell of sulfur and rotting flesh strengthened. The team gathered in formation to secure the area. No humans walked the streets. The Demon would not escape this time. Once all street exits were covered, the leader took Cassius and two others to infiltrate the city block.
They found him peering into a window, but then he stopped. “I thought I’d lost you in the forest.”
Surprise was gone, but an ambush was still possible. The Dragon Wingéd sprang forth as the Demon backed away from them. It screeched in their direction, but before they could do anything, he gasped in pain. His wings and head fell to the ground.
Cassius lowered his sword as his leader began to swear.
“Son of a bitch! Phoenix Wingéd!”
Tree leaves rustling, a Phoenix jumped down from its boughs, a large smirk crossing her face. “Thanks for keeping him busy, boys. Don’t think I could’ve gotten him without you,” she said, securing her bow and quiver to her back.
The Leader’s face grew bright red with rage as he stormed over to her. “You evil, conniving, spiteful wench! That was our kill and you know it!”
“And you’re ugly,” cried the Dragon to Cassius’ right.
The edge of the Phoenix’s lips twitched as she crossed her arms. “Oh, now why do you have to say things like that? It’s not like it’s a competition. The fact that you just helped me reach five hundred kills is immaterial. No one cares about numbers anymore. Frankly, I don’t even know why I bother counting.”
“Oh, shut up, Portia. You stole that kill from my troops.”
“Excuse me? If you had just done your job in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to come clean up your mess.”
Cassius rolled his eyes as the two bickered, but then, he sensed something. “Quiet,” he tried to say. “Quiet!” he shouted. “Do you feel that?”
The two of them stopped, and horror overcame them. They all started sprinting in the direction of the rooftop that Cassius previously occupied before becoming aloft. The stench and sense of urgency were overwhelming as he took flight. His mind raced as he remembered the woman and the goat. Focusing his eyes, he could see them.
“What do you see?” Portia asked, following close behind them.
“A large Demon Wingéd just entered a house. It’s the biggest Demon I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if we’ll be enough to take him down. He’s enormous!”
From inside the house, the Demon bellowed, tossing the contents of the woman’s table onto the floor, “Where is the weapon?!”
The woman quaked on the floor crying. “What weapon?! I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t have anything!”
Barely fitting in the tiny stone house, the Demon towered over her, staring as if perplexed. He stomped his foot until floor split and cracked under the force. “Don’t lie to me! The witch said you have a weapon. Where is it?!”
“Please! Please, don’t kill me! I’m just a poor woman. I don’t know anything about a weapon! There’s nothing here! If it’s money you want, just take it and leave!”
The Demon Wingéd smiled and then began to laugh. “Oh, don’t tell me… You–? Ack!”
An arrow hit his back. “Shit! I missed!”
He snarled as he turned around to see them, though the woman could see nothing in the doorway. The Demon growled, “This does not concern you.”
“Dead humans are a big…” Cassius started, but his voice trailed off when he saw what was happening to the woman behind it. She’d levitated off the ground, her eyes glowing blue. “What on Earth…?”
Blue flames emerged from her hands and raged up her arms. She spoke the language of the Wingéd as her expression became angered. “Foiche Dé muscailt! Lámh dar Dia!” She pointed her hands at him, and he was soon engulfed in flames. He shrieked in pain as the fire turned him to ashes. And when she was finished, she collapsed onto the floor unconscious, all evidence of the flames extinguished.
Cassius looked to his leader. “What was that, sir?”
“I have no idea.”
Back at the Hall of Wingéd, upon hearing the news, the Seraph asked, “How many of them are there?”
The Angel Wingéd looked down at her papers with a grim expression cast on her face. “Over a thousand so far,” she replied.
“So far?” The Seraph’s glance shot up. “You mean to tell me there are more?”
The Angel swallowed. “No, Seraph Dahlia, we are certain there are more; it’s just difficult to pinpoint a number.”
“Why is that?”
“Not all of the souls touched by the magic are ours, and the nature of these beings’ souls is cyclic. Once they die, we cannot find them until their powers are returned to them once they come in contact with Demon Wingéd. Some do not come into them at all, making them impossible to distinguish.” The Angel rubbed her hands together to calm herself as she attempted to explain the predicament. “It is in my opinion, we many never get an accurate count unless each one had their powers at the same time.”
The Seraph, far from pleased, leaned back in her chair. Pursing her lips, she sat contemplating. “I’ve only been the Seraph a short time, Angel, and these beings appear with the power to torch a Demon with a single touch. They are born from humans, so they must be human, but they die and are reborn instantaneously. Not a second as a spirit, and no human does that.” She paused. “There is no doctrine to prepare me for this.” She looked back at her subordinate and asked, “What do the Angels want?”
“They wish to know how closely we should be… watching the phenomenon.”
“And what do they say…?” the Seraph prodded.
“They are heavily divided, almost precisely so. Some say, since they fight Demon Wingéd, it is our duty to watch them as we do potential Wingéd. Our fight is theirs and they deserve some answers and training for what they can hardly understand.
“The other side protests saying, since they spend no time as spirits, they require no guidance or cultivation. Their fates are the same: reincarnation. Our time is best spent on souls who require our attention.”
The arguments were good for both sides, but the Seraph had to admit, they hadn’t the resources to watch over thousands. She needed the guidance of someone more knowledgeable than herself. “Come, Angel, we must seek out the Wise Ones before I may make any decision.”
New to her post, the Angel appeared confused as the Seraph expected. “Wise Ones?”
The Seraph stood and began walking with her helper in tow. They walked through the library to the stacks that held the most ancient of manuscripts at their disposal. Behind a particularly dusty shelf, the Seraph revealed an even dustier and decrepit corridor. The Angel was in awe of it as they walked into the pitch black. “Fire is not permitted here. I hope you aren’t wary of the dark.”
“I am not, Seraph, but I still don’t understand what we’re doing.”
“We are entering the sacred hall of the Wise Ones. They’re clairvoyants, psychics, prophets… Wingéd. They are rare. For them, the veil between worlds is quite thin, and they choose to isolate themselves. Coherence and cohesion are not among their many gifts, you see. You will remain silent.”
“Of course, Seraph.”
The tunnel opened up to a large chamber. No one knew how it was lit as no source could be seen. It was eerie, but somehow welcoming. The Seraph stood at its center, raised her arms, and spread her wings to them, and suddenly, they were all around them clutching the walls. No more than two dozen, they were of all types: Angel, Phoenix, Dragon, Pegasus, Fairy, Pixie, Bird, Butterfly, Moth, and Bat. Their eyes were all covered by pieces of ripped fabric tied around their heads. “We know why you came, Seraph Dahlia.”
“You came about the shift.”
“You came to ask us.”
The Seraph remained silent but focused on her question. Even the instructions she’d inherited from previous Seraphim regarding the Wise Ones were unclear, thus she waited. They each spoke individually, but at random around the circle, so she spun around wildly, trying to face the speaker as they addressed her.
“You have permission to speak.”
“Even a spirit degrades in time.”
“Memory degrades even faster.”
“Fear not our temperament, for we have none.”
“We have all temperaments.”
“You have permission to speak.”
Seraph Dahlia lowered her extremities as she came upon the realization, she didn’t even know what she wanted to ask. One thing she knew to be true, the instructions explicitly warned against allowing the Wise Ones to argue with one another. Understanding what they meant was difficult even in the best of times. Clearing her throat, she opened her mouth to speak, but she was cut off.
“That is not the right question.”
“There is no right and wrong, just what is.”
“It will not give her the answer she truly seeks.”
The Seraph interjected, “Who are the beings that have appeared?”
“The beings are a gift.”
“The beings are a curse.”
“Act of God.”
“Fire and Water.”
“Damnation and Salvation.”
The Seraph stopped them, “’Damnation?’ … Have we much to fear from them? We have not seen them kill one of our own.”
“They are as any weapon.”
“You will not.”
Relief washed over her. “Are we bound to them?”
“You will have one chance to stop it.”
“Demon Wingéd corrupt.”
“Your choice is irrelevant.”
“You will find Grace.”
“Our word will be sent to them.”
“This choice has no bearing on what is to come.”
“Some things are set in stone.”
“Others as changeable as water.”
“Your choice cannot move stone.”
“Your Angel charge. She is stone.”
That was all the information she needed. The Seraph made her decision despite being reluctant. She left the Wise Ones’ chamber, once again with her subordinate in tow. Her mind began to race over what the Wise Ones meant, but one thing was clear: no matter her decision to watch the foiche Dé or not, the outcome would be the same. The outcome of what was the question. It seemed to her, a matter of great importance was about to arise with the foiche Dé, and, whether they were watched or not, it would be brought to their attention. She decided that since their resources were so limited, the Wingéd would not watch them. It was put into doctrine as such. “Their fates are their own. Unchangeable as stone. Until a time where our presence is required, they shall be alone.” However, she was not willing to leave them without answers.
She instructed a few to be sure doctrine would be sent. It was a difficult task to make and protect apocryphal texts magically bound to an indefinite number of people, but the Wingéd did their best, and the matter was deemed closed for over five millennia.
Dahlia’s time as Seraph had come and gone before any mention of the foiche Dé surfaced again.
On the night she was summoned to intervene on the matter, her mind was full of questions. What was so important they had called her at so late an hour? Why was Ethirva, the current Seraph not called? Was she unable to perform her duties? Was she injured somehow? None of the possibilities in her mind were comforting, and she was horrified to discover what had passed without her knowledge.
She approached the three offending Angels with two attendants following her. “Angel Thrace,” she said when she saw one she recognized. “Why have you summoned me? Where is Seraph Ethirva?”
“Milady Dahlia, thank you for coming; we have a situation that is very delicate.” He nervously explained the situation in great detail. Friedel, the foiche Dé turned Wingéd, discovered a conspiracy with Seraph Ethirva at its heart. “She was selling the names of potential Wingéd in order for decreased Demon Wingéd activity. Friedel took care of an entire Demon horde, and Ethirva has lost her wings in the process… you don’t appear surprised.”
“You’re correct, I’m not. To be truthful, I had warning.” She saw Thrace’s face tightened with anger, so she put a stop to it. “Calm yourself, Angel. I had little more than a vague statement that her fate was set in stone. As for the foiche Dé, I have heard several accounts of their strength.”
Thrace nodded. “That is why we chose you. We have no leader and no consensus about what to do with the Seraph or the foiche Dé.”
“I have already been Seraph. It is not my place.”
“We have called a conclave of the elder Angels, and we have made it your place. We could not reach an agreement otherwise.”
Dahlia closed her eyes momentarily. They must have been quite desperate to call her. “I will tell you what I’ll do. I shall decide what to do with the persons in question and appoint a new Seraph… And there is something else. I would like to assign an Angel to every active foiche Dé. I believe a storm is coming, and I don’t want us to be blindsided this time.”
8 years later…
Kapera walked down the busy street, possessed with her mission. Her class started in ten minutes, and she still had a half an hour walk to the campus. She plowed her way through the hustle and bustle of the market street, cursing it for being the only direct route to the campus from her hole-in-the-wall apartment. “Death to the architect who designed this city,” she growled, pushing a vendor away from her in a vaguely controlled manner.
She ran her fingers through her long blonde hair as she waited for the light to change. “C’mon, c’mon…” The unseasonably warm autumn sun made her tank top and baggy pants ideal, but she nearly tripped around the corner on her untied shoelaces, where she spied a clean delicate woman leaning up against a whitewashed wall. “Fuck off, Pegasus, I don’t have time for you, today.”
“My, my, my, aren’t we in a grumpy mood this morning?”
Kapera glared at her, then kept marching toward her destination. “Leave me alone, Charasi,” she grumbled, “I told you I’m on strike. I’m not listening to anything either you or Phoebe has to say anymore. I’m done.”
“Your Angel Wingéd and I are just concerned with your well-being.”
“If you were so concerned, you wouldn’t be talking with me right now. You would leave me be.”
The woman followed her. “Hope, wait.”
“My name is Kapera and has been for ever since you found me seven years ago. If the federal government can acknowledge that fact, then so can you. There is no Hope, just me. So, don’t bother trying to sway me otherwise.” She turned her head back to look her in the eye, but Charasi had vanished, reappearing up the road.
And as Kapera passed her, she heard, “There will always be hope. If there wasn’t, all around you would cease to exist.”
Kapera snorted. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
Charasi threw her arms up then pushed them down harshly by her sides. “How is it possible that such a selfish child such as yourself is one of our finest foiche Dé? You’re so stubborn!”
“I didn’t have a choice, not like any of us really do.” Kapera walked up to the signal light and pushed the button hard, not that it would matter if the cars hit her anyway. “Besides, from what I hear, your greatest foiche Dé, Friedel was hard to handle herself. I read somewhere she was a murderer.” The light turned green, and Kapera continued onward with Charasi still following as a duckling would follow its mother.
“You mustn’t speak of Friedel in such a manner.”
“Why the hell not? She’s the one who started all of this nonsense anyway. Before her miserable existence, you wouldn’t have even bothered approaching me much less known what I was. Like an idiot, I listened to you. You never said that it would ruin my life or that it would turn me into your puppet.”
Charasi stuck her nose in the air at the very idea. “Your life being ‘ruined’ was not determined by me or your Angel Wingéd. Destiny chose you, and you have handled it perfectly well since the dawn of time!”
Kapera stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, and turned around to face her. She shouted, “I have no memory of any of this! So, save your breath. The sun from my ‘dawn of time’ has set.” With these words, she trudged on, leaving Charasi standing there.
She could tell that Charasi stood there longer than she should have, because she heard the cars honking. Kapera sensed her disappearing before she could even blink, and the astonished driver staring at the crosswalk until the drivers honked about the hold up.
She eventually reached a path that would lead her to the south side of campus without so many people on it. She hauled her bag from her shoulder and fumbled through it, looking for her paper while still trying to see where she was going. However, something caught her eye, and Kapera could feel a delicate pang tickling the base of her breastbone.
The south side of campus was just a few feet away and seemingly empty, but its serenity grew eerie once she stepped foot on the worn path. While under the bright sun, the usually picturesque landscape, shaded by cherry trees and man-made stream, masked a darkness that Kapera couldn’t quite put her finger on. She took another step toward her class, then stopped again, staring down the quiet lunch area. She took another step onto the grass away from the bridge, and the pang returned, with its vibration steadier and radiating down her spine. Curiosity caused her feet to lead her way back onto the cement path leading to the bridge. What was over there that she needed to see?
The siren song beckoned her forward, and she walked slowly toward it. Her arm tingled, and the sensation danced down her fingertips sparking near the nail. There was only one thing in this world that could summon this reaction.
She stood on the bridge and listened to the water trickle beneath her feet. She turned her head slowly until that too came to a halt. She was barely breathing as she waited for the faintest sound…
Kapera ducked as a figure flew overhead. She twisted her body and kicked the figure into the shaded lunch area. She ran forward to keep it from getting up. Flames burst from her hands, but the creature rose.
He looked like a man, but Kapera knew he was no man. His skin had discolored to its signature dull gray, and it smelled like burnt rubber and sulfur. His eyes were inhuman. They were as dark as his hair, but they were filled with sick, empty desire. A desire for her pain, a desire for her death. A twisted smile formed on his lips as he growled low as if he had glass in his throat, “Foiche Dé.”
Kapera cocked her head to the side. “Demon Wingéd have a death wish?”
“Yes…” he hissed. “Yours.”
She didn’t have to look behind her. She could sense three others with their eyes plastered on her back. “So, that’s the way you want to play it?” She rolled her head over her flaming shoulders. It was imperative that she didn’t miss.
Kapera twisted. With one arm, she shot a stream of flame back at the water’s edge and, with the other, fired at the creature in front of her. The Demon Wingéd burst into flames under the onslaught of her holy pyre, while her eyes searched the grounds for her next opponent. There was one on the bridge. But where–?
She turned her head to the left, but an unexpected Demon in the form of a woman took advantage of her torso left wide open. She struck her open palm hard in the stomach, and her touch seared into Kapera’s skin.
Kapera grabbed the female Demon’s arm and sank her fingers into the rotting flesh, delivering the fire that began consuming her. She saw the last one approaching and, in a swift motion, walked up its solid body, sending him back toward the creek. She flipped over the female Demon’s arm, and when her feet planted on the ground, she threw the female over her shoulder to the bridge as well. She cast another stream of fire at the two of them lying there, turning them to ash.
With a gentle sigh, she relaxed her arms, wondering if anyone would notice the scorch marks on the ground. She flicked her wrists to the side and examined herself. The burn on her stomach would heal soon enough, but she gasped when she touched it. They’d never ganged up on her like that before…
A light wind blew through the trees, and Kapera lifted her head to the bit of sky she could see through the cherry branches. “You’re going to have to work a little harder if you want to recycle me.” She took a look at her watch and groaned. “Great… twenty minutes left of class…”
Regardless of the time, she hurried off to her class, but as she reached the door, it nearly hit her in the face as the class flowed steadily into the hallway. Kapera sighed, exasperated, moving against the rush of students eager to get away. She descended the stairs of the lecture hall to a small desk surrounded by a few students who stayed behind to ask questions. She bit her lip, waiting for the woman in her early fifties, and swallowed the lump in her throat.
The instant her professor caught sight of her out of the corner of her eye, she took grip on the frames of her glasses and stuck them in her jean pocket. “Doth my eyes deceive me? Seems I see a ghost.”
“I’m sorry that I missed today’s class–.”
“Uh huh, I’m sure you are. Kapera, do you realize that you have missed over half of all of my lectures?”
“Yes, I do, but I–.”
“Well then, how do you expect to properly absorb the course material in time for the final?”
“I have no intention on falling behind.”
“You’re already behind. You’re failing my course.” The middle-aged woman sat back against the desk, completely ignoring the other students staring. Kapera had nothing to say in response, so her professor spoke, “I suppose you’ll be wanting an extension on the paper that is due next class, don’t you?”
“There are circumstances that are beyond my control.”
“Save it, Miss Duval. I will not have you bringing down my grading curve for yet another semester. I am dropping you from this course and from now on, you will be unable to register for any more of my classes. Please leave my classroom.”
Kapera nodded, trying to get a grip on herself before marching out. Dropped from her class, Kapera knew she would lose her financial aid, so instead of continuing to her next class, she left for home.
Whenever Kapera needed some time to think, she sat on the roof of her apartment building overlooking the city. The streets were a mashed, blazing ball of light, and Kapera added to them with a few pink candles, sitting along the ledge among the white splotches of the pigeon feces. The city was restless, but all she wanted to do was remain still.
She sought her peace in the flame that flowed from her fingers. All she had to do was snap, and the blue flame would be there. Much like if she had a lighter, she flicked it on and off at her leisure until she lit the rose candles before her. An arrangement of colorful round stones sat in between each of them. She leaned back on the old rickety picnic table. “Why?” she asked the flame, “What kind of sadistic soul would take away my education? Tell me, what kind of God would do that?”
The lightest of whispers reached her as she stared into the blue now turning white. “To everything there is a season and everything a place under heaven…”
Kapera snorted. “’Heaven.’ I don’t even think such a place exists.”
The whispers started again. “It is your choice to believe what you will. I have never seen heaven and can bring you no proof of its existence, but you must have faith. Heaven is what you make it.”
“There’s something we have in common, Phoebe. Neither of us will ever see heaven.” She trailed her fingers across the weather-worn grains of the tabletop, avoiding even more pigeon excrement.
“Does that comfort you to have this in common with me?”
Kapera smirked as she started to burn the spots she’d been fingering. “It makes me sound… cruel somehow, but… yes. Makes me think that you might be going through the same hell that I’m going through…” Kapera could feel the smile on Phoebe’s face in her mind’s eye. “You don’t though, do you? You’re happy. You love it.”
“I have accepted what I have been dealt.”
“You never… long for more?” she asked, watching the table corner catch fire and burn.
“It is a human trait to desire that which we cannot have.”
“Do you remember being human? Being alive, struggling, and being shot down by ‘the cards that you were dealt’?” Kapera hid her face from the candles and stared into the charred texture of the fire.
The whispers of Phoebe hesitated. “I remember, but I have learned its purpose. I am at peace with what came to pass.”
“You refuse to!” the whispers hissed.
Kapera extinguished her flame, turned her head, and shouted into the glowing candles. “I am damned to relive countless mistakes and for it to mean nothing! I can’t just accept that!”
“You make your own choices to stay this way. Anyone can become light enough to Leap even if you do not or cannot make it.”
Kapera bit her lip and started to extinguish the candles.
“Goodnight, Hope,” Phoebe said as the last flame went out.