"Hey, it's okay."
She swooped down and picked the child up, cradling him in her arms. He began crying in earnest, startling her, but she quickly realized that he had dropped his stuffed toy. She smiled and dove back down, retrieving it for him.
"Shh, it's okay," she soothed, fingers ghosting over the small frame, mending his clothes and fixing the wounds she could. She could alleviate the pain for the rest. Below them and behind them, the ground shook, remains of buildings toppling and crumbling. Most of the screaming was dying out, at last, so at least it was starting to quiet down again.
She put the boy to sleep and pressed him to her breast, glancing fearfully back towards what had once been a city. Now, it was full of shells of buildings, ruined cars, and the slowly dying.
Her heart clenched as she soared over the husks of what had been a lively city. A few survivors, groaning and pleading, reached up for her. "I cannot help all of you!" she cried, a blatant lie. She could have helped any number of them.
Well, she could have moved them. She couldn't have helped them. Their bodies were already rotting, fusing with whatever was nearby, flesh falling off of bones and bodies still moving throughout it all. She knew it had not been the princess' idea to start the magical arms race, but she was still facing the horrors of what it had produced. She pulled the boy tighter against her chest and beat her wings harder. She couldn't get back to the castle fast enough.
Princess Candy had bypassed candy and went straight to bubblegum. She paced back and forth, tearing at her hair, blowing bubbles and chewing furiously. Her guards and attendants watched from the sidelines, hesitant (and fearful, in all honesty) to interrupt her. "—and if it weren't for the Gumball Guardians, mein gott, where would we be? This is not the time that I want that stupid Lich breathing down my neck!"
"What?" She whirled around, teeth bared, hair flying, eyes wild. The attendant squeaked and swooned, only caught by his brother.
"I have returned," the Angel said, stepping up in front of the twins. She uncurled her wings and presented the small boy in her arms, still sound asleep. "I have brought another child."
Candy's glare softened, but only by a hair. The Angel smiled up at her, offering the child like a gift. The princess finally sighed and looked back out the window, blowing another bubble. "Angel, we're not running a day care here. You can't keep bringing back strays."
"I just thought... You have so much room in your palace, Princess. And with the royal city protected, I feel as if the children will be safe here."
"They will be, but what will I do with them? I am not their mother, I am their ruler. I can't take care of everyone," she said, voice rising suddenly. The Angel stepped back, wings curling in once more, taken by surprise. The royal attendants hastily started pushing her back towards one of the doors. "My people are out there dying! And for what? A war no one asked for? This isn't fair—I can't save everyone!"
"Go, go," the elder twin urged in a low voice, pushing the Angel and the child towards one of the side doors. "She is just having a bad day, don't you worry none. She will be fine. She's just stressed with the Royal Sweet Celebration coming up and that last bombing."
"That's another thing!" Candy shrieked, turning on them once more. "Why am I still holding celebrations when people are dying—?"
"Go," the younger one said in a pained voice and pushed them both out the door.
The Angel sighed and floated down the hallway. The boy in her arms stirred; she pressed the stuffed toy tighter into his arms to try to prevent it. It didn't work. "...Mama?"
"Shh now, I'm not your mama. I'm just an Angel," she murmured and hummed. She glanced back towards the room she'd just departed from, nervous, but determined. She ducked down the rightmost hallway. She shouldn't be down there, but there was no one around. She opened the door on the end and swooped into the pink-themed room.
The young princess looked up, startled. "Why are you here?"
"Can you take him for me?" the Angel asked and set the young child down, making sure his toy was secure in his little arms. "I... don't know what to do with him."
"So you give him to me?" the little girl scoffed, standing up and dusting off her striped dress. "Does mother know you're doing this?"
"It'll be okay. I'll take care of Princess Candy," she soothed and produced a lollipop out of thin air. Both children had their eyes grow wide at the unexpected treat, even the little princess'. The Angel smiled sadly and created another, handing them each one. Even in the castle, such treats were rare? "You take care of him for me."
"He'll probably just be put with the others," Princess Candy Cane said, voice muffled by the sucker in her mouth.
"Can you... visit them some time?"
"Mother doesn't like it when I do."
"I know she doesn't." She sighed and ducked out the door, waving goodbye to the both of them. She knew what she was doing wasn't strictly the best. But what else could she do? So many children were being orphaned and starved. The castle at least had safety, and there were enough children from all parts of Ooo for them not to be lonely, at least.
Well, that was how she let herself sleep at night, at any rate.
The Angel winged down the halls, trying her best to seem like she ought to be there, though it seemed like Princess Candy's anguished cries rang farther than they should have normally. She knew it was hard on the princess; all of the subjects of her kingdom knew that. She was a mother, a young one at that, and she was a mother to her land. And now for all of these terrible tragedies to happen...
"And where are you going?" She jumped, still mid-air, and turned guiltily around. She was incredibly relieved when it turned out just to be the wizard Licorice. "Just me? I'm hurt," he said with a catlike smile.
"Not now, Licorice."
"Why not now? Why in such a rush, Angel?" He sidled up to her and grabbed part of her dress, yanking her down to the ground. She shook her head and beat her wings again, tugging him up into the air with her.
"Princess Candy is distressed, and Marzipan City was just hit last night."
"You sure it's safe to go in there already?" he asked, brows rising underneath his dark red hair. He didn't seem at all bothered that she was carrying him through the castle.
"Not many other creatures can. They're only using crystal power, so I can handle it. Please, Licorice, let me go back. I can still help people."
"Not if those bombs are as nasty as I've been hearing." He hooked his boot around a table, sending both of them sprawling and flipping the table. The glass vase that had been on top of it shattered, sending half-dead flowers and water everywhere. She kicked him away with a frustrated huff, smoothing her skirts, but he offered her one of the flowers. Without a word, it grew green and colorful again, blossoming healthily. "Take me with you."
"Candy isn't letting the royal wizards out of the castle. We can't help anyone stuck in here, and the Gumball Guardians won't let us teleport out of the city. There are guards everywhere to prevent too many citizens from coming in, and I've already tried sneaking out before," he said with a cheeky grin that she didn't buy.
"You're staying here. What if the princess needs you? You're one of the most powerful wizards in the country."
"And I'm sitting in here, cooling my heels!" He pointed down to his boots, and at his point, they became encased in ice.
"I can use healing magic well enough, and if I'm carrying anyone back, I can't carry you as well."
"I can get back in by myself, don't worry. I just need to get out."
The Angel looked away, debating the merits. He was very talented and he could do some help. But if the princess ever found out, or if they got caught... It was likely she would lose her privileges of going outside the city as well. Or get thrown in the dungeon. Or both. "...Fine. But you're following my rules," she threatened with her best glare.
"Cool, cool. What are they?"
She helped him back up to his feet, looking around once more to make sure there weren't any guards in hearing range. "We can't go into the city itself, it's too dangerous and no one can be saved there. Outskirts only. Stay within my sight, and try not to touch anything steaming or glowing or dangerous looking."
"Deal," Licorice said, thrusting out his hand. She reluctantly shook it. "Alright, sweet Angel, take me out of this place!"
She swooped down low, dropping Licorice near a dirty old house with a crying girl in the yard. The girl seemed fine, though her hair had burned short and her clothes were in rags, most of them scorched. She picked her up, looking her over with a little alarm. "Why are you crying, my child?"
"Hambo got hurt!" the girl replied with a surprising amount of ferocity. She kicked the Angel in the face, causing her to drop her, and scooped up a raggedy pile of fluff and scraps that had no right calling itself any sort of toy.
"Angel, it's one kid. Come on, she's fine!" Licorice groaned, gesturing to the still-glowing skyline of the city.
"Here, let me mend that for you," she said, ignoring the wizard. The little girl—definitely not human, but nothing else the Angel knew of, judging on her pale skin tone and small fangs—handed over the Hambo. The Angel looked at it for a long moment. She wasn't a miracle worker.
She magicked on its missing arm and stuffed what fluff she could into a hole in a seam on its head. It looked terribly lopsided. She didn't even know what it was supposed to look like. She sewed up its holes and mended most of the fabric.
"Here you go," she replied uncertainly.
"Thank you," the girl replied, voice polite but distant.
"Would you like me to mend your clothes? Would you like any snacks or food? Are your parents around?"
She looked around her, as if for the first time. The Angel fixed her clothes anyway, just because she couldn't stand to look at the poor thing looking so pathetic. Still, for being so close to the city, she didn't look hurt at all. "I dunno where mom is. Dad is probably—"
"What are you doing to my daughter?" Both the Angel and the wizard gave a violent start when some sort of beast came out of the desiccated house in front of them. Wearing a suit, its head was large and bulbous and pale, mouth far too large and housing far too many sharp teeth. Shedding panicked feathers, she took to the sky again. Licorice caught up with her with a magic-powered bounce.
"Nice going, making a demon mad," he groused.
"How was I supposed to know? The child looked human!" she replied irritably.
"She had blue skin!"
"She could have been a vampire!"
"They're not nice, either!" he burst out, swinging in her arms. She was sorely tempted to drop him, but decided better. They approached the city at a safe altitude. Licorice hung on tight to his hat as they were buffeted by the heat coming off of the buildings. "Holy math, you weren't kidding, Angel."
"We're landing here," she said firmly, tucking her wings in close to prevent any more updrafts from catching them. He swung out of her grip as soon as he could land safely and with a clap, yanked his twisted staff out of wherever he was keeping it. "Don't go too close to where it landed! It's... not pretty down there."
She stayed silent, feathers and dress fluttering in the warm breeze.
"Look, I know magic. It's what I do. The more I know about what's going on, the better chance I have of fixing things!" he growled and placed his fists on his hips.
"You're impossible!" she exclaimed, stomping the air. "Fine! I think this one was powered by a Crystal Eye, so expect lots of heat. It's fusing creatures to whatever is nearby, melting them, really. You can't help those ones—I have tried. You just can't."
"...No. Don't stray too far! And don't get into trouble. Don't go fighting anything."
"But baby, I was born for this stuff!" he cried and ran off. The Angel sighed and ran a hand through her white hair. Whatever. He was responsible... sometimes. He was at least talented. She just hoped he didn't get in over his head.
She soared over the city, scanning for survivors. Just a lot of bodies. It seemed as if the ones that had melted were done melting, and most of them were reduced to skeletons. Others stopped halfway, piles of flesh and sludge on sidewalks and in the streets. She didn't dare look inside any buildings.
At one point, she thought she saw something towards the area where it had fallen, but whatever it had been, it would soon be dead. She couldn't even go that close, and the crater itself was still glowing and steaming. She didn't come across any other survivors, however, as she had feared. They were too close to the city itself for there to be any.
"Licorice! Lord Licorice!" she called, cupping her hands over her mouth for the sound to carry farther. She found him a block over, his tunic coated in something dark pink.
"Don't worry! It's not blood." Not the best way to start a conversation. "There was this mutated thing near the limits. I think it threw up on me."
"Are you okay? Does it burn? Sting? Sticky?" She waved her hands over him, but hardly any of it came off.
He gave her a tight smile. "Yeah, it stains, apparently." She frowned; not quite what she had thought. "I think it was just scared, or hurt. It's long gone, whatever it was."
"I haven't found anyone still alive. Have you?"
"No. I think I had seen something downtown at one point, but—Look out!" She was pushed to the ground as a massive, black hand swung down where her head had just been. She rolled over, heart racing, and found a monstrous thing she couldn't readily identify. It appeared to have a skull for a face underneath a headdress adorned with curling horns. "You!" Licorice spat, holding his staff at the ready.
Do not fight me, the monster stated, and the air around them grew cold. The wizard faltered.
"Angel, that's the Lich!"
"What? He's never been this strong, o-or powerful!" she exclaimed, flapping up into the air, out of its immediate range.
I have come to feed on the death and the power, the Lich said tonelessly. It swung at Licorice again, this time catching him and sending him flying. The Angel swooped after him, dodging the following blow with ease. She felt a blast of heat near one wing and turned, shocked, to find the monster's fists burning with flames.
"We have to tell Princess Candy he has grown stronger! Probably with the magic in that blast!" Licorice growled, and then shouted, "Magicus Nomoreicai!" The Lich stumbled in its approach and one fist went out. The wizard growled again and bent his staff, conjuring an arrow to use it as a bow with.
"How can we fight that thing? I-I don't have any offensive magic!" the Angel said in a panic, wings fluttering nearly as rapidly as her heart. She waved her hands over his body as an afterthought, healing his bruises and hardening his skin.
Firing another arrow, Licorice glanced sideways at her. "You're not fighting, you're going to go tell the princess about this!"
"What? And leave you here? I'd rather face the Lich than how mad she'd be at me!"
A blast of fire caught them both, sending them tumbling. She flapped most of the flames out, wincing as she ran her hands over herself to mend her body. She was starting to feel the toll on her magical reserves. Licorice was worse off and she hastily crawled over to him, shielding them both with her wings as she rushed to heal him before the Lich shambled over to them again.
"Stop it, you're only draining yourself on these little wounds!" he admonished with a sharp smile.
She poked the rib sticking out of his chest. He winced and allowed her to heal his burns and the broken bones. "Licorice, we can't fight him."
"And leave him here to eat up the rest of the magical energy floating around? Not a chance!"
"This isn't up for debate! We'll both die if we stay out here and try to fight that thing!" she hissed at him, a long-ignored anger bubbling in the pit of her stomach. "You are not staying, and you are not dying today, Licorice." She hauled him to his feet with a fierce look. "I am taking you back to the Candy Kingdom and we are both going to explain to the princess what is going on here."
You think I will let you? the Lich asked, nearly sounding polite.
Suddenly, Licorice swung at her with his staff. It caught her in the side, sending her sprawling with a betrayed look. "Licorice—?" He stumbled towards her, movements jerky and eyes blank. She glanced between him and the Lich fearfully, then reached up and pressed both hands into the wizard's chest. She blasted him backwards.
"Ow!" He sat up at once, arms around his chest. He blinked, focus sliding in and out, before staring up at the Angel once more. "He's capable of Hypnosis now. This isn't good."
"I've guessed that, yes!" she snapped, anger frothing in her stomach. She scooped him up in her arms and took to the air, narrowly missing another gust of magical fire. The second one hit them again, just as she felt a tug on her mind. The world shifted in and out with a black one and her wings seemed numb. They hit the ground with a painful thump.
Licorice stood over her again, twisted staff raised. He shook his head, staggering to one side, and eventually hit himself in the face with his own staff to clear his mind. The Angel pressed her palms against her forehead and forcibly cleared her mind, though the blackness creeping in on the edge of her vision told her that that trick wouldn't work for long.
"Angel, you have to tell the princess!" Licorice said in a strangled voice, then pressed his hand on her shoulder. The Lich's arm came down on them just as he shouted, "Razzmafu!"
She found herself cowering, dizzy, and hurt in the throne room, in front of a very surprised Princess Candy.
The first crack came when she whirled around and hissed with a surprising venom, "Licorice is dead and the Lich is growing in power and I couldn't help!"
Author's Note: Heeeeey there. This is my first foray into Adventure Time fanfiction! So yeah. This will probably be a fairly short story (I'm aiming for four or five chapters) and is mostly an origin story for my favorite character in the Land of Ooo, the Guardian Angel. Since this was set so long ago, obviously this will contain a great many original characters and a lot of speculation on the actual history. I've tried, okay? There's also a lot of guesswork on how the world acted - magic versus technology, human versus other creatures - so that's mostly my own view on things. It's difficult to keep in tune with the silly tone of the cartoon, but I'm trying. Slightly.
(And a quick note - this is sort of the Lich's rise to power as well. He's not as strong here as he is in the canon timeline of Adventure Time.)