The first match was aggravating and he was unsure if he should have been insulted or not.
He was a Bene Elohim, the same celestial race as Puriel and Dokiel. A strapping young man with flowing brown hair. He did not catch the being’s name, and the moment he stepped out into the dirt, the angel took a knee before him. Quintus cocked his head to the right, confused for a moment that the fight was over even before a strike could be thrown.
Whispers flooded through the stands all around him and if he hadn’t been able to hear the specifics of several comments, he might have assumed the angel bowed out of fear, but it was simply out of refusal to fight him. He heard the hushed conversations and he understood the defeat was in protest of his entry into the Celestial Games.
The man … angel … whatever … was refusing to fight him because he didn’t feel he should be there. As he stared down to the crouched being, he gripped his father’s gladius tightly with his leather gloves and sneered loudly across the short distance that separated them with an unhappy rattled growl. “Stand!”
“It is forfeit.” There was a knock and Quintus spun to see the Silver clad Governor standing not far from them as he hit the staff into the ground again. “Densus is the victor.”
More whispers rippled around the audience but no applause was afforded and Quintus scoffed at the situation lowly with a grunt of bitter disapproval. “Coward.”
“ABSOLUTELY SHAMEFUL!” As if she was in sync with his mind, he had no doubt she was, he heard Ozryel shouting the same word from somewhere above in the stands. “YOU FUCKING COWARD! You afraid of a little challenge!? GO AHEAD AND RUN BACK HOME WITH YOUR GRIGORI TAIL BETWEEN YOUR LEGS!”
Retreating from the field, he was a bit shaken. He had actually never experienced such an insult. In Rome, anyone who refused to fight would simply die and no man back then was foolish enough to play with their simpleton life to … prove a point.
“Coward.” Honoria huffed in agreement as he returned, showing almost as much anger as Ozryel but Quintus cracked his neck in an attempt to shake off the concern that such an action had festered within him.
“He doesn’t wish to be the first to fight you.” Sempronius stated the obvious.
“Then he is a coward. No?” Quintus stated as he spun the blade in his grip, eager to make use of it.
Sempronius shrugged, offering a less emotional take on the situation. “No one knows what you are capable of. If he used too much force … if he used too little force … He didn’t wish to be the guinea pig.”
While he waited for the second fight, he sat with his back to the arena, not watching the rest of the first rounds play out behind him.
“Don’t you wish to watch the other opponents?” Sempronius pointed.
“I do not.” Quintus stated as he took a stone to the blade and sharpened it, even though he knew he didn’t actually need to do so, but the act eased his nerves. Between battles, it always had.
“But it will help you prepare for–” Sempronius tried his argument again but Quintus interrupted.
“I do not.” He repeated as he had never needed to see any opponent before and he didn’t wish to break that tradition now. Besides, he didn’t wish to rattle himself by seeing the mythical creatures that he might face. He would either beat them or he would not. Since they did not know what he was capable of, why should he know of them?
“But that’s–” Sempronius tried again but this time, Honora interrupted.
“Stop lecturing him.” Looking back towards her, Quintus smiled slightly. “Let him be.”
“Fine.” A significant pout spread across his father’s face. “It’s your loss then.”
Thankfully, his second match wasn’t quite as simple, as he took the field and faced something that did not take a bow before him. When Sempronius had said it was a Cherub, he laughed before turning too quickly to wait for any further advice the Centurion might have offered him.
And now he regretted that slightly as what stood before him was not a chubby, winged little angel as expected, but it was something very much resembling a sphinx. Its mass likely outnumbered his own by at least four fold.
When his eyes grew wide at the realization it was his opponent, the creature, with the wings of an eagle, the body of a lion, and the face of a man, grinned madly before it shrieked with a sound that he was certain he’d only ever heard from a bird of prey. As it leapt into the air, using the full force of its feline physique to catapult itself up, it then used its massive wings to lift it significantly higher.
One flap, two flap, higher and higher until it was somewhere directly above and Quintus found himself squinting up, attempting to see past the blinding sunlight that masked its approach as it came barrelling back down upon him like a spear. It was hoping to win the battle with a single, terrifying strike and Quintus smirked at the attempt.
But, as Sempronius had already said, no one knew exactly what he was capable of, nor the dexterity that Ozryel’s divinity afforded him and he sidestepped the blow with incredible ease.
While it was true that when he was a gladiator, fighting and killing men, his opponents never lasted more than a few minutes and most no more than a few seconds, he found these adversaries took quite a deal longer. Overall, they were far more challenging but they fell nonetheless.
The battle was finished when Quintus grew tired of parrying its claws and when he stopped playing defensively, he chose to forfeit his ability to dodge the next lunging bite to grab the thick, furred tail in both of his hands. It was a costly choice and he flinched significantly when the beast’s teeth cut viciously into his quadricep, but he grinned through the pain as he knew the fight was already won.
Taking two steps back, he pulled the being forward, forcing it to lose its footing as he carried through, swinging the tail and dragging its side across the dirt as he followed through even further, lobbing it up and through the air in an arc, while maintaining his grip. The beast swung through the air above him in a perfect circle and as he slammed it back into the ground, he heard air forcefully exit its lungs.
It attempted to stand again, but fell back to the ground, lacking the strength required to even hold its own weight up and he kicked the massive beast over onto its side, placing his boot on its chest as he pointed the tip of his blade down, he smiled as he commanded. “Yield.”
When he left the field this time, Sempronius shook his head. “That was quite a risk. You allowed yourself to be wounded.”
“Perhaps.” Quintus looked down where the teeth had punctured and found no sign of the injury on either his leg nor his clothing. “Or perhaps you have no idea what I am capable of as well.”
Looking shocked, Sempronius opened his mouth to address Quintus’ quip but a sweet chuckle from Honora broke the stern seriousness of the squabble.
“Burn.” She giggled.
The next challenger he fought was not as hard as the last, and though the angel was winged and took to flight often, Quintus used this against him as once one of the wings was crippled beyond use, it had little fighting skill to fall back upon.
It was before the next round, while he was oiling the sword, when the archangel approached. He recognized the Asian-looking man from his trial and he remembered Ozryel calling him out by name.
Uriel. The actingLeft Hand of God.
Wrongly assuming that he was there to speak with him, the dhampir stood to address him, but Uriel, his hands clasped together behind his back, walked past him but not before giving him a careful once over as he continued over Honoria. Even though Sempronius was a man of indefinable statuesque posture, he saw the muscle tighten ever so slightly. He was sure not many would notice such a tiny motion, but he did.
Sempronius did not like this angel … at all.
“Sempronius.” Uriel smiled with a nod.
“Uriel.” Sempronius didn’t bother with the smile, but he did afford him a small nod.
“URIEL!” Honoria chortled as she swung around and Uriel’s smile widen further.
“Hello Honoria.” Uriel greeted her warmly, moving his hands to being clasped in the front. “I hope you will be competing this year?”
Sempronius shifted, turning his back to the ensuing conversation as Quintus caught the slightest of eye rolls from him. Walking over, he handed the dhampir an alternative blade. “I would recommend a longer blade for the next one. Malakim are twenty feet tall and with an equally impressive arm span.”
Nodding and accepting the suggestion, he put down the gladius and gripped the broadsword that was offered to him as he remained fixated to the conversation behind Sempronius.
“Of course I will.” She said gruffly. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“And … will you be winning this year?” He chuckled.
“I don’t think it is up to me whether or not I win, Left Hand. I’ll do my best.” She laughed off his comment, but even in the short time that Quintus had known her, he could hear the lie laced within her words and he found it quite curious. Such a strange thing to lie about … isn’t it?
“Well, it is an odd numbered year … Those you always lose.” He heard Uriel shift closer to her and he saw Sempronius look off to the corner as he heard the movement as well. “But, since your son has never seen you fight, you might be open to diverging from your obvious pattern?”
“Pattern? Odd numbered years?” She scoffed clumsily dismissing his allegations. “I don’t know what you mean at all.”
“Mmmm hmmmm.” Uriel said playfully and Quintus raised his eyebrow to Sempronius, who still stared off into the distant corner, keeping his back to the speaking pair but obvious listening to each and every syllable. “Just as you don’t join the contest at all on years that are prime and multiples of three.”
“Uriel.” She tried her best to sound humble. “Please. Who wins and loses is purely up to Fate.”
“You like to make them believe as such.” Quintus could hear the grin in these words even without seeing the Archangel’s face from his vantage point.
“It would not be a very fun competition if the same person won every year, would it?” She stated and Uriel laughed.
“Absolutely right.” Uriel laughed merrily. “Perhaps you might be able to convince Gabriel of that fact as well. Perhaps he can use your system.”
“Please, Uriel.” She threw off his logic with a wave of her hand. “You haven’t come here to accuse me of throwing my matches. I think you’ve come for a closer look at Quintus.”
“I need no excuse to visit a student. Especially you, Honoria.” He shifted closer. “Especially not my best student.” There was a pause and Uriel turned to face Quintus’ direction and they locked eyes for a brief moment before he turned back to her. “Though … he is shorter than I had assumed the son of Sempronius would be.”
Shorter? Was this an insult? The Archangel was easily more than a few inches shorter than he. However, Sempronius was taller than Quintus by at least an inch … but regardless. The insult seemed to affect his father more than him as Sempronius took a sharp break in, closing his eyes for a moment before exhaling to calm himself.
“Come now. Is it really his height that troubles you?” She quipped as Quintus looked down to the ground, beginning to share in Sempronius’ dislike of the Left Hand.
“Troubles me?” He laughed out loud in an exaggerated manner, ensuring that both men would hear him. “Please.”
“Then what is it?” Honoria raised her brow to him as she smiled.
“Trust me. It takes more than a boy to trouble me.” He ensured her, hoping to instill in her his overconfidence. “Besides, I’ve seen nothing so far that would warrant concern. He’s a bit undisciplined.”
Quintus began an attempt to stand, but Sempronius’ hand was on his arm as they locked eyes and he read the hidden meaning clearly as he relaxed back into his seat.
“Maybe so.” Honoria shrugged as she glanced to Quintus with a smile.
“As much as I would love to catch up … I have to be going.” Uriel looked up at the board. “I apologize for rushing off.”
“Of course.” She pleasantly accepted his apology for the immediate departure.
“I wish you the best of luck today.” Uriel said bowing slightly before he turned. “Though, I know you never need it. I do hope you will put forth your best efforts.”
“Uriel.” She bowed back.
“As always, you’re welcome at the training hall.” He said as he stepped away, stopping at the two seated men as he smiled down to them. “Sempronius.”
“Uriel.” Sempronius forced the name out and the archangel left, without so much as a glance towards the dhampir. As soon as his father was certain the angel was out of earshot, he shook his head as he sneered towards her. “You humor him too much.”
“Oh please. Should I be rude to him? We’re friends.” Honoria waved off the remark. “He came to size up Quintus. It’s obvious.”
“Me?” Quintus asked innocently pointing to his own sternum. “He did not even address me.”
Ignoring his comment, his parents continued to bicker, as Sempronius retorted. “He did NOT come to speak with Quintus. It is obvious.”
“Do you hear how foolish you are being?” She dismissed his concern. “Jealousy has never suited you, Roni. He is a celestial being and I am just–”
“I’m getting a Churro.” Sempronius stated forcefully, standing as he turned to point to her. “Do you want a Churro?” Answering his question with a pout, Honoria crossed her arms to show aggravation and Sempronius turned to Quintus next. “Churro?” That was a type of food, was it not?
“I do not–” He was about to say eat, but no one had to eat here, did they? He really did not want a … Churro?
Regardless, Sempronius interrupted him. “EVERYONE GETS A CHURRO.” And he was off in a huff, walking in the direction of the entrance to visit the food stands beyond, while leaving Quintus blinking at Honoria in confusion.
“He does not seem like someone who would be so easily …” Quintus started and as the next word lingered on his tongue, he halted suddenly. Was he really about to criticize someone else for thisemotion? Hmmm.
“What?” Honoria asked innocently. “Doesn’t seem like what?”
“Umm …” Quintus looked down guiltily continuing to sharpen his sword. “Jealous.”
“Sempronius? Jealous?” She laughed and he exhaled in relief. Perhaps he had misread the situation and he was glad for a moment that he was not similar to Sempronius in yet another way. “He’s always been insanely jealous.”
“Well …” Quintus shrugged. “Uriel seems to quite like you so–”
“Oh please!” She barked. “Now you too?” Uh oh. Quintus looked up from his task with wide and puppy-like eyes. “It is not like that.”
“Mmm hmmm.” His fake innocence melted away as he looked up at her with beaming eyes as the side of his mouth twitched in a slight smile.
“He is my teacher.” Waving off the comment as she tried to distract herself in her bag. “Nothing more, nothing less.”
“He teaches you?” He asked.
“Well … taught. Well … trained.” She sighed. “I had to do something while I was waiting for Sempronius to …” A pause and Quintus was sure she was about to say die, but she chose better words. “Arrive.”
“So …” Quintus knew he should just leave it, but information was power, was it not? “So … you did the Left Hand of God?”
“What?!” She looked up with shock. “No. No! That’s not what I meant. There was no doing, ok? Good lord, you are as bad as he is.” She fussed as she waved her hand in the direction her husband had stomped off.
“I did not mean to imply any judgement in one way or another.” He tried but he could see the topic was much more of a button than he realized. “Ah … So, Uriel taught you how to fight then?” Reading her growing agitation, he attempted to change the subject, but she was still speaking.
“Besides, he has no right to be jealous of anything.” She turned, thrusting the point of a jeweled dagger towards him while she spoke, her voice full of passion. “He was remarried on Earth. Did you know that?!” Quintus shook his head, staring at the blade. “Was I supposed to just wait around like a good little obedient first wife? HA!”
“So …” Quintus furrowed his brows. “Something did occur?”
“NOTHING HAPPENED. We are friends.” She stated forcefully and plunged her knife back into her bag in anger. “End of discussion.”
The Malakim was indeed twenty feet tall, but it was obvious its kind was not built for battle. The length of the broadsword was incredibly useful and the match was the shortest that he would fight that day.
However, the following match was quite unexpected. As he walked out, he was greeted with the all too familiar shadow that had been attached to him for months.
Before him stood Bene Puriel.
She was an absolutely stunning beauty of incredible stature and skill. Slender though muscular, her shoulders were wide, yet she was still extremely feminine. Her height matched Quintus exactly. Her hair was thick, black, and straight, pulled into a tight ponytail and her skin was a metallic copper.
She rarely smiled, but as he locked eyes with her, she did so now.
“Are you prepared for a real challenge now, Prince of Snakes?” She said as she drew her blade and swung it in a circular fashion as she used the nickname that he hadn’t heard since Barqan.
“With all due respect.” He bowed. “I doubt you are the one to provide that feat.”
While she was faster and stronger and better trained than any man he had ever fought, he proved that she was not up for that challenge, even though the fight lasted longer than any thus far. She withdrew often, attempting to read what his next move might be and he found her fighting style more defensive than offensive. This likely worked on beings with less patience, of which Quintus was not one.
Her strategy fell apart once she realized that he was not just hard to predict, but, as the Master had learned over several thousand years, he was completely unpredictable.
Each time he had stepped out into the arena, he could hear a sighed huff of annoyance from the Governor. Each time he had proved victorious, the Governor would bellow an obvious disappointing “Densus is the victor” into the crowd and this win was no different.
In all honesty, he quite liked disappointing the Governor and each time, he would bow towards him, just as he had done with the Patrician class in Ancient Rome.
But of all the opponents that he had previously fought that day, the fire Seraph was the one that caused him the most pain. Sempronius offered him leather vambraces for his forearms, which Quintus initially refused. Luckily his father did not take no for an answer.
“I do not require armour.” Quintus declared. “I find it is more cumbersome than useful. I heal quickly.”
“Even so.” Sempronius refused to accept his refusal, pushing the leather pieces against his chest and forcefully holding them there until Quintus took them. “But I doubt you have ever fought a Phoenix before, have you?”
A … Phoenix? He gulped.
Stepping out into the arena, his eyes grew wide as he beheld something so bright and majestic that he gasped. This being gave new meaning to ‘burning one’ as it was nothing short of a dragon on fire. Its skin was covered in scales, and its, not two, but six wings were covered in burning feathers. There was no part of its body that was not on fire and the brightness that it projected, Quintus could tell, was pure sunlight.
He tightened the harness grips on the leather forearm guards and the beast cackled in a thunderous and resonating voice. “Do you really think those will protect you from my fire, half-breed?”
Well, he hoped and … they partly did, but he could still feel the heat through them and he realized quickly into the round that he was not able to touch any part of its body without being brutally singed by it. Concern washed over him when the first burn he received did not heal as quickly as he assumed it would. And it hurt. There was supposed to be no pain here, was there? It throbbed and stung, distracting him from planning his next counter.
There was a brief moment when he faltered, stepping back and holding his hand up in a defensive manner. This was the first moment today that he had began to doubt himself and that is when he heard her reassure him from within.
“Seraphiel may be the highest of the Seraphim, but he is still no match for you, Quintus.” Ozryel’s voice rang inside his mind. She was watching and he’d almost forgotten that they could speak this way. “He is relying on you fearing the burn. Push through the pain. Ignore it. You can heal afterwards.”
Indeed. When he walked from the field having been declared the victor again, he estimated that less than ten percent of his entire body was left uncharred.
It was some time before his next bout and he sat calmly, allowing his spirit to heal whatever damage the elemental being had inflicted upon him. Healing the wounds were almost as painful as receiving them and he was reminded of that incredible pain when Michael had urged him to heal himself during his last battle with the Master on that fateful island. Sitting with his back against the wall, he shut his eyes as memories of that entire last day replayed in his mind, from its euphoric beginning to its agonizing end.
“You are up.” Sempronius woke him from his torturous thoughts and he stood, cracking his neck from side to side.
“Any advice for this one?” Quintus asked as he wiped the blade clean of the dust that had accumulated on it.
“This one? Advice?” Sempronius turned to verify what he already knew, looking over the leader board. As he turned back to face Quintus with a serious face, he heard Honoria giggle from her seat. Had he asked a funny question? “Just try to losegracefully.”
Quintus furrowed his brows as he turned to see the board and read the name of his next victim upon it.
“Hmmm.” He pondered loudly. “You think him impossible to defeat?”
“Uriel is Elohim. The Second Brood, but still the Left Hand of God.” Honoria said as she stood and placed a hand on his shoulder. “The only non-Hayyoth to ever be granted a place beside God. You don’t have something like that handed to you. You earn it.”
“So … “ Quintus glared at the seemingly Asian man across the way as their eyes locked and he saw the faintest of smirks spread across his face. “He is a capable fighter then? Good. Perhaps this one will be worth the time.”
“I think you might be missing the point. You should just be happy that you’ve made it to the semi-finals. That’s an impressive feat by itself.” Sempronius said but Quintus was already approaching the entrance, disregarding the words as he walked out onto the dirt of the arena floor.
The angel stood perfectly still and when the chime rang to start the match, he made no motion to draw his sword. In fact, he did not move at all. He just stood and watched Quintus for a moment, squinting at him and waiting.
“Did I miss something? Is this a staring contest?” Quintus quipped as he gripped his weapon and pointed it towards the Elohim. “I was expecting something more … “ His practical mind warned him not to say it, but his ego plowed forth with the regretful word. “Impressive.”
There was a raise of an eyebrow and a slight grin of one side of his mouth before Uriel, in one gloriously fluid movement, opened both of his hands, spinning them in mesmerizing circles in front, as he stepped up onto one foot, then down into a deep and exaggerated stance. Still not drawing his blade that was strapped to his back, exactly where Quintus usually carried his, he brought one hand back to rest against his stomach as the other hand remained in front, both open palmed. He used an inviting wave of his open fingers to entice Quintus forward: come.
He’d seen similar circular movement before and he was unimpressed. The man looked like he was performing a silly dance in front of Quintus and the dhampir laughed at the show. He’d defeated many men who thought their training was something to be feared.
“So, you are a Martial Artist then? Seriously?” Quintus scoffed at the entertaining jig. How … stereotypical. “Shaolin Kung fu? Wushu?” Uriel stood still, ignoring his baits. “Perhaps something older? Varma Kalai? Kalaripayattu?”
The archangel laughed out loud. “I don’t really care what Man called it after I taught it to them.”
Wait … what? Afterhetaught it tothem?
Hmm, perhap Sempronius–
Quintus cocked his head to the right as the words sunk in and he might have thrown another insult, but the man was already upon him, closing the gap with speed that clearly surpassed his own and as the first strike landed between his ribs, he felt the air expelled violently.
There wasn’t time for him to spin and attempt his own blow before the second punch landed in his opposite ribs and he was gasping desperately for air. Stumbling forward, he swung the blade in an upward motion to where the Elohim had just been, but Uriel was already behind him, striking again to the kidneys while also kicking the back of his knee in. Quintus buckled to the ground.
His only thoughts were screaming at him to retreat and he scrambled away desperately, clawing through the dirt and rocks beneath him. When he had put enough distance between them, he regained his footing and slowly realized that Uriel had allowed him to escape. There was no doubt in Quintus’ mind that if Uriel wanted the fight to be over, he could have easily have ended it right then and there.
The angel sighed and smiled, looking down at Quintus’ dropped weapon. Tucking the tip of his boot under the middle of the blade, he kicked it up, flinging it towards the dhampir and Quintus plucked it out of the air, grabbing the handle tightly as he snarled towards the Left Hand.
“Now.” Uriel said, performing the same dance as before, preparing himself for round two. “How about you show me something impressive this time.”
Oh dear god.
It was not possible. Victory was not possible. He panted into the dirt as his rage ratcheted to the next level. If there hadn’t been a stadium full of people, he would have punched the ground like an angry child, but all eyes were on him now. And what made it all the worse, was that the archangel was obviously toying with him. As he stood, dragging himself to his feet for the tenth time … tenth? Twelfth? Perhaps more … He had actually lost count. Uriel kicked the blade back up to him and he grabbed it from the air as he showed his teeth again.
He had performed the same technique against Quintus, over and over and over again. It was getting the point of being embarrassing and Quintus wasn’t sure if this was a competition or a lesson.
“Your form is sloppy. Your stance … Terrible. How did you make it this far?” Uriel stated without emotion as he circled his furiously dangerous dhampir prey and Quintus snarled at the insults. “You’ve relied on your abilities without bothering to learn any type of proper discipline or control. Disappointing.”
Quintus sneered, showing his discolored teeth even more to the graceful serpent before him. “Trust me, Left Hand. I’ve shown you nothing but control.” That was a total lie. After he’d downed him the third time, Quintus had lost all semblance of control.
“Does it anger you? You are no longer the fastest or the strongest, boy.” Uriel stated. “Not here. If you desire victory, then earn it with some modicum of skill or be forced to embrace defeat.”
Had anyone ever spoken to him so brazenly? Not anyone who lived, save for possibly the Master and the Master was not alive any longer, so no. Not anyone who lived. This man … no … this angel was not afraid of him and from what had just occurred … repeatedly, he had every right not to be. He felt like a fucking child again.
“Do you wish to conversate or fight?” Quintus spat at the amused angel.
“To fight of course!” Uriel threw his hands up the crowd and applause rang out. Quintus was certain he heard the bellowing laugh of Gabriel from somewhere as well and that just made this experience all the worse. “I was welcoming a challenge finally. Especially from Honoria’s son. I’d heard so very many promising things.” Uriel insulted. “I expected a General. Instead, I’m faced with a child. Are you certain that you are hers?”
“DO NOT–” He began a bellowing snarl but that familiar voice rang within his head, sharply bringing his mind back to focus. Ozryel.
“Calm yourself, Quintus. He baits you, my boy. And you have always been so susceptible to it.”
“I cannot defeat him.” Quintus spoke back, his voice was rich in growing disappointment.
“Probably not. He is quite good and he’s had hundreds of more millennia to practice than you … but …” Ozryel trailed off.
“But what?” He pushed as Uriel advanced again and he found himself retreating. Had he ever retreated so readily, without a plan of attack before?
“Perhaps we can spank him a bit first though.” There was a tinge of delight in her voice.
“How? I cannot even land a single strike!” Quintus was desperate. He hated feeling so weak … so human.
“Then let me help you.”
“I don’t understand how you can–”
“You need to trust me.” Ozryel purred confidently. “Take a whee, tiny step back for just a moment, my dear boy.”
A step … back?
The thought of allowing Ozryel any type of control over him caused his heart rate to jump, but when Uriel advanced further, he felt himself ducking back both physically as well as mentally. Everything slowed around them as Ozryel sidestepped the same punch again, moving faster than Quintus thought he was capable of.
She dodged the blow by only an inch out from its path as she brought Quintus’ elbow down, cutting it into the forearm muscle of the punching arm and Uriel winched at the pain. Ozryel never lost a beat, never hesitating as she spun with a dance, much like Uriel had continued to do to him, around his body until she was behind him and she hit him in the kidneys just as he had done to Quintus so very many times.
He felt himself smile as she finished off with the same attack, kicking the back of his knee as he almost buckled, but he regained his footing quickly as his elbow struck up, towards their jaw.
“Oooof. Almost didn’t see that one coming.” Ozryel chortled as she barely dodged. “Slippery fucker, isn’t he?”
She remained in the same stance, making no motion other than to help his elbow strike along, pushing it up and over with Quintus’ palm, forcefully causing Uriel to take several steps back as he spun around to get his bearings. The extra step he taken at the end exposed his backside to her and she used Quintus’ other free hand to swat his bottom loudly.
Laughter erupted from the stands and Quintus felt himself blush. Did she just … did she just spank him with Quintus’ body?!? OH GOOD LORD.
“Ozryel!!! NO!!!” Quintus screamed with absolute embarrassment as he thrust himself back in control of his faculties and she broke out into uncontrollable laughter.
“Hey! Not yet! Not yet! I wasn’t done yet!” She complained through her unabating cackle. “I warned you we were going to spank him!!!”
“Figuratively!!! NOT literally!!!”
“Oh.” That damn chuckle again. “You should know me better than that by now.”
However shameful the act was, it was well worth the look on Uriel’s face when he spun back around to face Quintus, his eyes full of rage.
“I …” Quintus stuttered. “I apologize. I did not intend–”
Damnation. So much forgracefullylosing.
“WOO HOO! FINALLY! SOME REAL ENTERTAINMENT!!!” He heard Ozryel scream from above and the stadium erupted with more laughter and applause. It might have all been worth it, except Uriel was no longer amused and the next move was a grapple, as he flung Quintus around like a rag doll, forcing him into a sleeper hold as the dhampir fought violently to escape.
Of all the ways for him to lose this day, he cringed at the memories that this hold was drumming up within his mind. The shame that flooded over him wasn’t due to the fact that he was about to lose, but it was because, in the arms of this powerful and strong being, he was completely and utterly powerless. This was the same way that he had silenced Dawn his final day on Earth. This was the last act that he had performed on her. The last time he had touched her, he had made her powerless.
Tears filled his ice-blue eyes as he did everything he could to break the hold, desperately scratching, kicking, and bucking against the action. In his entire life, he had never felt so powerless and the second before the blackness washed over his eyes, while the wind kicked up and blew sand into his eyes, all he could think was that this was the last thing he had made his Poet feel.
This was the most painful revelation he’deverexperienced.
He had promised her that she could trust him … he hadpromised.
“Victor is Uriel.” Michael bellowed and Ozryel thrust her chained hands out, thumbs pointing down.
“BOOOO!!!” She screamed. “BOOOO!!! NOT A FAIR FIGHT AT ALL!”
“Not a fair fight, huh?” Raphael stated as she turned to catch a disapproving look on her little brother’s face.
“What?” Oz said innocently. “How is that fair? Uriel is like … a MILLION times older than he is. Poor Quintus. He’s just a baby.”
“Uh huh.” Raphael said as he raised his eyebrow at her accusingly. “But, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Quintus … spank someone before.”
“What?” She giggled madly. “I know for a fact that he’s spanked people before. Very recently in fact.”
Raphael couldn’t help but laugh now. “That is not what I was referring too and you know it.”
“No idea what you are talking about.” She nudged him with her shoulder. “But it was pretty funny, wasn’t it?”
“Yes. It was. The look on Uriel’s face.” Nodding, he smiled and laughed again, looking at Ozryel with eyes of relief and happiness. “I’ve missed you, brother.”
“Me too.” She said as she sighed, leaning the side of her head against Raphael’s shoulder. “Missed me too that is.”
They both chuckled and watched on as the other semi-final battle between Gabriel and Michael completed. And then the short final between Gabriel and Uriel, with Gabriel, as always, taking the prize.
The Battle of Man was next and most of the celestial beings, not willing to even waste their time on such an event so beneath them, shuffled out of the stadium and Quintus found it only half full when the human competitions began. It wasn’t until Honoria walked out onto the field for her first round that he noticed all eyes were quietly upon her and he didn’t realize until it began why.
“You know, it all made so much sense.” It was Raphael’s voice from somewhere behind him. He could hear the angel advancing upon him slowly. “When Oz told me her name.”
“What made sense?” He asked, unable to tear his eyes from the spectacle that he was witnessing. She moved similarly to Uriel, but there was something more organic to how she flung her body. Uriel was calculating and precise, whereas Honoria was entirely unpredictable, just like he was.
“That you were hers.” The angel said and Quintus finally saw him out of his peripheral vision as he walked up and stood next to the dhampir. “When she fights … it’s less technique and more … feeling.”
“Indeed.” Quintus watched as she floored the man while swinging her body around similar to a ballerina. “And … You think I fight like this?”
There was a chuckle. “You’ve never seen yourself fight, have you, Quintus?”
As the match ended and he watched the small, blonde woman exit to prepare for the next round, he turned to face the Hayyoth. “I would be quite impressive if I could manage that feat.”
Raphael laughed out loud at his quipping humour. “Well, you do. You both fight with …” The angel seemed to be stuck on the correct word to use.
“Precision?” Or perhaps rhythm would have been a better word? “Training?”
“Passion.” Raphael smiled. “Unyielding and furious passion.”
Indeed. “Uriel’s training has proved worthwhile.” He asked and Raphael grinned.
“Honoria was impressive before Uriel took note of her, Quintus.” As he reached out, he placed a hand on his shoulder and gripped it. “Do you really think an average human teenager could have escaped the Master? If she hadn’t been truly exceptional, Quintus, you would have never been born.”
Quintus smiled. “There are no coincidences … only eventualities.”
“I like that.” Raphael nodded. “And … for what it’s worth, I’ve known Uriel since he was born and Honoria is the only human pupil that he has ever accepted in Heaven.”
Quintus laughed uncomfortably. "Ah yes. You have seen the interest as well?”
“She is the only human that he allows in the training hall. She hasn’t been in some time, but perhaps you can accompany her. She might be able to teach you a few things. Or even possibly Uriel.”
“I may indeed visit it. But, Sempronius is not permitted?” Quintus asked and Raphael cringed slightly.
Expertly ignoring Quintus’ questions as he often did, he smiled as he turned to leave. “I would give it some time before you go though. It is Uriel’s domain and …” Raphael chuckled. “You did just spank him.”
“However, if you show up with Honoria, he might be more accommodating.”