"So, what do you think?" Tansy asked them all after she had finished leading them around backstage.
"Complex," Turel finally answered, looking around. "But very interesting."
"It is, but you'll find— Ah!" She reached up quickly to feel her ear, which had felt like an electric shock had run through it. Touching the skin, she could detect the skin shivering slightly. Then, another small, painless shock went through it and her fingers brushed soft feathers.
"What's wrong?" Rahab inquired worriedly, seeing her look.
"Um, nothing," she assured hastily. "Wait right here, would you? I just remembered something."
She swiftly darted down the hall and slammed the door open to the women's dressing room. A fast glance informed her that there was no one else in the room. She moved to the mirror and pushed her hair aside to see her ears had gone pointed, and the tips and outward sides had sprouted small, down-soft white feathers.
A sudden twinge in her back made her give out a small, surprised noise. She pulled off the white shirt she was wearing and leaned heavily against the table as a pair of huge white-feathered wings exploded from her back. She stared at herself in the mirror as her eyes started to swirl through colors, finally landing on a yellow-green to indicate her surprise. Tansy closed her eyes, fighting against her growing anger and fear. Not only did this mean someone was in the third floor, someone had been in her room and crushed the feather.
She cursed softly and glanced around for something to cover her body with. Now that her body had transformed fully and the feather was completely damaged, she could not channel the energy off into it. And she certainly couldn't wear her shirt with the wings.
Looking at the costume rack, she spotted a halter-top with an excess of hanging cloths that would cover the part of her body where her wings were mounted. She might be able to get by telling people they were a prop to a costume for a character she was trying out for. She quickly pulled it on and settled it about her wings. With one last check in the mirror to make sure it was all in place, she breathed deeply to regain her composure and walked back out into the hall, keeping her wings pressed tightly against her back.
As she headed back through the halls to find the boys, she heard a voice shout out behind her, "Tansy!" She turned back to see it was the director walking quickly toward her.
"I just heard you were out here and— Wow," he murmured softly, looking over the wings. He crossed his arms over his chest.
"Tansy, you are going to tell me where you find such life-like wings right now, aren't you?"
"Oh, these. Um… er…" Tansy glanced around furiously, trying to quickly figure out an answer. She silently wished Ky was there with her; the black-haired girl was better at lying than Tansy was.
"They're an old family heirloom," another voice interjected. Both Tansy and the director looked over to see Israfel walking toward them quickly. "They were carefully built with the most extremist of attentions and actual white feathers were used to make it look real. She was borrowing them from me to try them on."
"Ah, they are most beautiful," the director complimented. "I wish we could find some that looked that real. But in the meantime, Tansy, I was looking for you to make sure you felt you were ready for the performance."
Tansy bobbed her head up and down in an affirmative.
"Oh good. Well, then, I will leave you to your little group." He glanced over at the vampires who had walked over quietly, and his eyebrows knit together in concern. Apparently shaking himself out of it, he headed away. Tansy let out a sigh of relief, then felt Israfel touch one of the wings gently.
"Someone must have crushed the feather, Issy." She grabbed the angel's hand. "We have to get home. Now!" Israfel nodded.
"Boys," he called to the vampires, "you've seen everything. It's time to go."
Rahab cast a glance at Tansy. "You're sure you're okay?"
Tansy nodded. "I'm fine, really, Rahab."
"But that look on your face, though…"
"It was nothing, Rahab! I can assure you of that." She took a hold of his hand and gestured for everyone to head to the car. Melchiah tapped Tansy on the shoulder.
"Can I touch them?"
Tansy gaped at the little vampire. He was just like a small child. Israfel looked at her with slight amusement.
"Can he?" he asked with a chuckle. Tansy sighed deeply and nodded.
"Okay, Mel, you can touch them. Just don't pull any feathers."
Melchiah squeaked with surprise and gently stroked the top of her left wing with one finger. Tansy's wings twitched slightly, but if Melchiah noticed, he gave no sign. He did, however, comment on the softness of the feathers. Turel stood nearby, eyeing Tansy with some suspicion. Israfel had said that the wings were an old family heirloom. But where were the straps that indicated that the wings were false? There were no signs of straps at all, in fact, and the wings had twitched when Melchiah had touched them! Were the wings, then, real wings? Turel stroked his chin in thought.
"Kain will be most interested in this."
The instant Kain heard the car door slam he knew that he'd better get off of the third floor, and fast. He wondered where Dumah and Raziel were, but after a moment, decided he didn't care. Let them get in and out of their own trouble. He hastily replaced the book and teleported out of the room.
Tansy flung open the front door and stormed in. Zephon sat on the couch, reading The Hobbit.
"Oh, hello, Tansy," he greeted cheerfully.
"Were you on the third floor?" Tansy fumed.
"Now, why would I be on the third floor?" the second youngest lieutenant asked in a syrupy sweet voice. Tansy glared at him, and sighed.
"I'll get back to you on that…"
Zephon smiled widely and stuck his nose back into the book as Tansy stormed up the stairs to the third floor.
"Oh, by the way," he called as Tansy was halfway up the stairs, "nice wings!"
Tansy found Raziel and Dumah in Ky's room. There was also a strange woman there, tending to her. Tansy thought that the woman looked like a mousy secretary. She ignored the stranger and glared murderously at Raziel and Dumah.
"Were you in my room?" she growled in a slow, deliberate voice.
"No," Dumah stated. "I've no desire to go any place where I'd be putting my life on the line."
"What about you?" Tansy snarled at the eldest. Raziel shrugged and shook his head. The pink-haired woman turned on her heel and stormed out of the room. Amihiel looked from Ky, to the lieutenants, to the open door of Ky's room.
"What bit her ass?" the angel asked. Ky sighed, grabbed the angel by the arm, and whispered something in her ear.
"Oh, so THAT'S why."
Turel, meanwhile, was in search of Kain. He had many, many interesting things to report to the self-proclaimed ruler of Nosgoth.
"My Lord?" he called out softly as he walked down a second floor corridor. "My Lord?"
"What is it, Turel?" Kain called from behind a door that was somewhere in the middle of the hallway. Turel peered into the room that Kain had answered from. The lord vampire sat with his arms crossed. He appeared to be deep in thought.
"My Lord, I've discovered something interesting."
"It's about one of the twins, my Lord."
"What about her?"
"Well," Turel began quickly, "as you know, Tansy took us to see her theatre today. She began behaving peculiarly toward the end of the tour. Rahab asked how she was, and after insisting, rather clumsily, that she was fine, dashed toward the women's dressing room."
"And?" Kain pressed.
"When she emerged, large, white-feathered wings adorned her back. She and that Israfel insisted that they were costume props. However, the wings looked incredibly realistic, and I noticed no signs of straps holding the wings in place. Furthermore, she gave Melchiah permission to touch them, and I could have sworn that the wings twitched."
"Are you suggesting, Turel," Kain inquired pleasantly, "that the wings on Tansy's back were real?"
"Yes, my Lord."
Kain leaned back in his seat and looked up at the ceiling. He was certain that Tansy would be suspicious if Turel, who barely talked to her, suddenly wanted to get to know her better. Tansy's diary probably held some kind of revelation, too. A plan formed in his head.
"Turel, kindly inform your brothers Zephon and Rahab that they are to get to know Tansy better. In the meantime, I'll think of how to procure the girl's diary."
"Yes, my Lord."
Turel quickly turned and headed out of the room, and related the news to Zephon, who was still sitting on the couch. Zephon grinned and nodded until Turel fixed a glare on him.
"This is not playtime, Zephon, this is a job from our Lord. Take it seriously."
Zephon's smile melted away to be replaced by a cold, predatory glare and he nodded once.
"I am aware of that, Master of the Smokestacks."
Turel growled as his younger sibling, but moved on to find Rahab standing in front of the second story's bookshelf. He repeated the orders to Rahab, and the fourth born nodded, accepting it.
"What are you looking for?" Turel finally inquired.
"Something of interest to read. I haven't quite decided where to start."
"Well," Turel murmured, rubbing his chin, "there were those two people talking about the Harry Potter series. I think the Sorcerer's Stone, the one that's right there, is the first one. Why don't you try that?"
"Sounds good," Rahab agreed, nodding. As he picked it up, Turel added, "And tell me what you think of it. I might be interested in reading it myself."
With his Lord's orders distributed, Turel could go back to studying the computer, so he turned and walked calmly away as Rahab flipped the book open to the first page. Strangely, the first page had nothing to do with a boy named Harry or magic of any sort. It was a written page that in laymen's terms, told Ky to stay away from the book and not read it because it wasn't any of her business. Eyebrows knitting together, Rahab flipped to the next page to discover it wasn't the story, but, rather, Tansy's diary. He closed it gently, pondering what to do next. He didn't want to read her diary because it was there, but he did understand his Lord's orders, and a diary was always a wonderful way to see inside someone's head. With a sigh, he headed to his room and started to read.
Tansy had apparently had it a long while, as it was over almost halfway full, and after a time of reading the young girl's thoughts, Rahab voted that it was late and he could always return to reading it later. About halfway through her writing, he closed the book and shut off the light.
Everyone as a whole was woken to the sound of a baritone male voice bellowing out loud enough to be heard across the property, "YOU IGNORANT, CARELESS LITTLE CELESTIAL!!!"
There was a rush as six young vampires raced up the stairs to the third floor, the eldest vampire teleported to the library and stood in the doorway, looking out into the main hallway, and Tansy jumped up out of bed and raced out of her bedroom door. Out in the main hallway was Israfel, golden energies pouring off his form in waves, a pair of ribbon wings fluttering in the air behind him in his intensity. Curled in a small ball in the corner near Ky's room was Amihiel. Amihiel uncurled slightly and looked up at him.
"But, Mr. Israfel, I thought I was doing the right thing…"
"Feeding Kyviana AngelTears is anything but helping!"
"I didn't try to poison the poor dear, it just kind of happened!" Amihiel said in defense of herself.
"You do not feed AngelTears to anything but an angel! As a journeywoman healer you should know that!"
"I thought she was the half-angel one!" Amihiel protested.
"You incompetent, foolish angel! If you cannot even perceive the difference between the two twins' energies, how do you expect to EVER earn your wings?! All one of the demons would have to do is shapeshift into an angel's form and you'd heal him!"
"…" Amihiel bit her lip and sniffled.
"Rest assured, child, this is going to go on the report back home."
Amihiel was silent a moment, another sniffle escaping her, before she burst out, "I know I'm hopeless! Did you have to rub it in?"
Israfel sighed deeply. "You're not hopeless, angel, you just have a habit of being very…"
"Ditzy," Tansy put in. Israfel nodded. Amihiel bit down on her lip, sniffled again, and quickly stood, running to the end of the hall, opened the door, and dove into it, slamming the door shut behind her.
"Why did she go into the broom closet?" Tansy inquired amusedly.
"I have no idea." Israfel's energy condensed on his form and the wings disappeared.
"Why were you so angry, Issy?"
"Thinking that it would help Ky, Amihiel gave her a concoction made of AngelTears."
"Wait, isn't that the liquid that's…"
"Good for angels and bane to everything else?" Israfel finished for her. "That's the one."
"She did WHAAAT?!" Tansy shrieked. She darted passed Israfel and dove into Ky's room. She skidded to a stop at Ky's bed, seeing her sister was no longer pale, but now a sickly green color, somewhat resembling the demon from the mall's coloration. Her breathing was ragged and came in short bursts, and her eyes were tightly shut. Ky's body abruptly jerked upward by the chest, as if there was a string attached to her ribs that pulled up, and she let out a small scream before falling back to the bed. The sound drew the vampires' attentions, and they peeked in curiously. The movement of Ky had shifted her bedcovers to show a nightgown that exposed her sternum. Over it a pale white light had begun to glow. Israfel turned to Tansy.
"That light will slowly grow stronger and begin to encompass her body. Should it completely surround her body…" He trailed off into silence.
As Tansy stared down at her sister in horror, Israfel brought his hand together in front of his body and began concentrating. White energies played off between his hands, then dispersed in a small burst of light. He let his hands drop and looked at Tansy again. She turned to him.
"Issy, can we call in Raphael now?"
"I just did," he answered, smiling gently. Tansy stared at him a moment, eyes wide, then grabbed his face and kissed him passionately. After a few tense seconds, she released him and turned back to her sister. Israfel leaned heavily against the wall, blinking rapidly, trying to bring his mind back from its shocked state. Both Rahab and Zephon glared at the angel, and Zephon began plotting elaborate death traps. Rahab bit down on his tongue and shoved away his jealousy.
The fight over, the vampires began to disperse. Zephon grabbed Rahab and dragged him down the stairs into one of the vacant rooms.
"Come on, you're coming with me and you're going to help me plot the death of this angel."
"Why would I want part of that?" Rahab retorted, but allowed himself to be pulled aside.
"Bah, don't tell me that, Rahab. I've watched the way you look at Tansy, and by the Dark Gods, I'd rather have you as competition than that angel."
Rahab looked warily around. "Zephon, this isn't a good idea.""Of course it is, and you know you want him out of the way as much as I do!" "But…" Rahab sighed and gave up. Once Zephon had his mind made up to kill somebody, it was useless to argue with him. Although, Rahab did admit that it would be nice to have that angel out of the way for a little while… He shook his head and left the room. "Let me know what you come up with, okay Zephon?" Zephon, however, wasn't going to let his brother get out so easily. He leapt in front of the door.
"You aren't going anywhere!" the second youngest hissed. "You allowed me to drag you in here, so I'm assuming you want some part of this!"
"When did I agree I'd help you kill a divine entity?" Rahab snapped. "I don't recall ever saying 'I'll help you!'"
Their argument was interrupted by the sound of a deeper, gentler male voice.
"Ah, Israfel," it said, "What appears to be the problem?"
"Oh, shit," Zephon moaned. "Another one!" Rahab rolled his eyes and shoved his brother away from the door.
"I'll go up and see what's going on," he told his younger brother hastily, dashing out of the door. Zephon remained behind.
"Tansy better not be kissing this one, too," he grumbled, glaring up at the ceiling.
Upstairs, Melchiah was trying to coax Amihiel out of the broom closet.
"Miss? There's someone named Raphael here to see you."
"Go away!" the voice on the other side of the closet sobbed. "Oh, I'll be joining the Fallen for sure this time!"
Raphael chuckled. He was not quite as tall as Israfel was, and his short black hair fell into his eyes.
"No, not the Fallen, child," he called to the closet. "You haven't done anything quite grievous enough to merit that punishment."
"Not this time!" Ami's voice replied.
"Ami, Ami," Raphael sighed. "Come out of there, dear. You know perfectly well that the absolute worst that can happen is that you just have to do more missions."
Ami peered out of the closet. "More missions for me to foul up?" she whimpered. There were still tears in her brown eyes.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll get one right," Raphael answered. "Just keep trying. Now, come out of there so we can see what exactly is wrong with Miss Kyviana."
"You're trusting her to help you?" Israfel asked, gaping at Raphael.
"Of course. She may be a little… absent-minded, but she's got her heart in the right place. Besides, she is one of my charges."
"Absent-minded is an understatement," the angel of music muttered.
"I'm still demoted, aren't I?" the young angel asked her superior.
A minute later, Raphael's voice boomed throughout the house.
"Of all the asinine, stupid things to do! Child, you should never have left basic training!"
"I'm sorry, I really am…"
"I'm sure you are," the angel said in a gentler voice. "Unfortunately, I will have to demote you and get you into remedial aura sensing at once."
Ami emerged from the room a few minutes later.
"Where's Raphael?" Israfel inquired.
"Oh, he said he was better off doing the ritual alone," Ami answered.
"Wonder why?" Israfel muttered. Ami glared at the older angel, turned away, and crossed her arms.
"Just you wait, Mr. Israfel," she mumbled. "I'll show you all that I'm not a complete idiot!"
In the room, Raphael had just completed his healing ritual. He stood over Ky for a moment as the pale white light above her chest dispersed. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked up at the angel.
"Hello, Kyviana!" Raphael chirped. "How are you feeling?"
"I love you, Raphael!" Ky sighed, reached up and hugged the angel. Then she fainted.