Cherub Geleriel was content to guard the Garden of Eden. In all the time he’d stood the post, no one had tried to get to the Tree of Life. In a word, it was an easy post.
But when he was mysteriously reassigned to other duties, his well-ordered world began to unravel. Caught between divided loyalties, he must decide how far he’s willing to go when disaster strikes.
This is a story about sacrifice and why it matters. It’s an imaginative telling of events that just might have happened will entertain you and challenge your belief about the heavenly realms.
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He could remember when the Garden had been beautiful and well-tended. Graceful paths wound between neat groves of trees bearing every fruit possible. Today, the paths were nearly indistinguishable from the press of undergrowth and bushes.
He’d been there since sunrise. In the predawn darkness, he had crossed the river and walked from camp to watch the sunrise and see the Garden again. As he walked, he watched the sky turn colors in the east and reached the rock just as the first rays of sunlight that pierced the gloom to bring light to the day.
Once, this had been his regular practice. Now, the Garden only reminded him of what had been lost. It cried out for a caretaker, but his task was to ensure that no human ever set foot inside the walls again.
Geleriel sighed heavily and glanced up at the sun. It had risen well above the hills on the other side of the valley. Soon he would need to head back down. He thought he ought to head back to headquarters in the Heavenly Realm before noon. But he didn’t want to leave.
Eventually, the sound of the birds bubbled up to his awareness. Not because he understood them, but something seemed out of place. For a moment he listened to their singing, searching for the part that made his neck itch. A discordant sound wove through their chatter. A shrill ringing, the sound of swords clashing, floated on the wind.
Geleriel grew very still, concentrating on the sound. As he listened he could hear more, shouting voices amid the sounds of weapons. For a moment, he sat frozen, mesmerized by the faint cacophony of battle.
With a jerk he swung his head around, looking for enemies nearby. His hand reached over his shoulder for his sword, fingers closing on air. Then he remembered leaning the sheath against his bunk, next to his armor back at the camp.
“Fool!” he muttered, clenching his fist.
In a single movement, he uncoiled from his crouch and sprang into the air. The ground fell away as he lifted into the air and began to soar down the hill. He’d walked up when he wanted to enjoy the trip. Now he needed to get back quickly.
Crashing noises in the trees caused Geleriel to drop to the ground and partially crawl under the prickly branches of the thorny hedge. His gaze strained to pick out the approaching shapes.
Two figures in dark clothing emerged from the path on the opposite side of the clearing. Geleriel shivered.
“I think this is it,” one of the figures said. He had thick shoulders and carried a trident lightly in his hand. Turning, he faced back the way they had come and planted the butt end of the weapon on the ground and leaned against it.
“Looks like it,” the other figure answered. She was tall and slender and wore a bandolier of daggers across her chest and a coiled whip on her belt.
Feeling vulnerable in his white clothing Geleriel carefully squirmed deeper into the hedge. He gripped the pommel of his borrowed sword tightly. He didn’t want to draw the sword as it might catch a stray ray of sunlight and give away his position. Even so, he felt naked without a weapon ready.
The female walked around the Tree toward him. Her eyes flicked briefly over the bushes where he was hiding. She didn’t stop and kept walking around the Tree.
“Looks pretty deserted,” she said.
Her companion grunted in response and kept leaning against his weapon.