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If only Johnny and Robert could see me now.
Angel knew that this compound would not last for much longer. For days, there had been word that an army of once-men and demons would arrive here and destroy this place. An army, the likes of that this compound had never seen. They wouldn't know what had hit them when they came. Angel shook her head sadly as she walked solemnly amongst the hubbub in the lower courtyard, her black staff trailing behind her in the dust, leaving a wavy line behind her.
Of course there would be people in the compound who would remain hopeful and positive, right to the last second of their short and helpless lives. There were always a handful of them in every place that she had ever been to. What brave, stupid fools they had been! The people here too, would stupidly think that this compound could defend itself and then slowly, like so many others when it was too late, they would realise that they had been wrong. Dead wrong. It reminded her of Robert, another fellow Knight of the Word whom she had befriended a few years before. He too had left her to make a final stand with the New Mexico and Arizona compounds. It hurt to remember him now. In any other circumstance she might have fallen in love, but fate had taken him from her just like so many other things in her life.
Running a hand through her thick black hair, Angel pushed her hood back and looked around the courtyard. People were busy running around, making preparations and defences for when the army came. Smoke and dust hung in the air, partially obscuring Angel's vision of the courtyard. It made her eyes water slightly and quickly she brushed it away with the back of her hand.
I can't appear to look weak. These people have put their faith in me! Although, If they knew what had happened to all the rest of the compounds...
She paused, shocked at what she had just began to think.
Suddenly, Angel felt a small tap on her back and swiftly she turned round. Her eyebrows raised in surprise. Before her stood Helen Rice, a small, slight woman with short straw blonde hair. Her face was grave and foreboding, and this alarmed Angel. Whenever she saw her, Helen always seemed to look surprisingly composed. A sense of dread filled Angel. Maybe she had guessed the compounds fate?
Clearing her throat, she looked Angel squarely in the eyes, and asked in a hushed whisper;
"Angel, is there any hope?"
Angel's heart seemed to drop into her stomach. So she has guessed...Trying to keep her face set into an unreadable mask, she replied, also in a hushed whisper:
"I am not going to lie to you Helen. From what I have seen and from my experience, the army that is coming after this compound is going to be unlike anything you will ever see. There are going to be demons and once-men, who can kill hundreds of people with just one blow. No compound has ever survived this type of attack, ever."
There was a still pause as Helen seemed to struggle to take all of this information in. Finally, she spoke;
"I see. Is – is there any way that a few of us could escape? Children I mean, with adults to help them." Helen spoke these words quickly, as if they were too bitter for her mouth to contain them. Angel nodded. She knew that Helen, if she had the choice would stay at the compound and fight. But she also knew that Helen was no fool and could see as well as Angel, that the end was inevitable.
Draping her arm around Helen's shoulder, she led her into a small alcove amongst the buildings. Looking over her shoulder to check that nobody was nearby, Angel started to speak in a hurried whisper;
"As you now know, we do not have much time, but yes there is a way we can get some people out. It will be risky and I cannot guarantee that it will work or that I will be able to accompany you, but I will try. Beyond this camp as I'm sure you will know are the Black Mountains. If you go there you will be safe for a little while. Once you get there, you must keep travelling south."
Helen nodded silently. Angel continued;
"Convince as many people as you can. I will help the others prepare for the attack. Believe me when I say this Helen, it will be difficult but if you keep trying I'm sure you will get people to follow your cause. As soon as you have convinced as many people as possible get those to pack food and essentials, then take them to the old hotel aside from the compound. Stay close together and do not make a sound. As soon as I can, I will come for you. Now go! Make yourself ready."
Without a word, Helen rushed off through the smoky haze that now covered the whole of the Lower Courtyard and disappeared from sight. Looking up at the sky Angel prayed silently.
I just hope I'm doing the right thing.
Swiftly she spun round and stepped out of the alcove and back into the centre of the Courtyard, gripping her staff tightly now, her face set into a purposeful mask. Striding forward she walked over to a group of men and women making defences and started to help them. A wave of exhaustion swept over her, but she shook it off. There was no time to rest. She had to help these people, whatever the cost. To give them the best possible start before the inevitable happened. Gripping her staff with two hands, she closed her eyes lightly and let the familiar tingling sensation of magic sweep through her. Slowly she released it onto the defence mechanism, wielding the joints together with a bright, white hot fire. Now it would almost be impossible to break.
Stepping back to admire her work, her mouth twitched grimly. This was certainly going to be a long night.