Wingless, страница 1
Copyright © 2014 Taylor Lavati
Books by Taylor Lavati
Copyright © 2014 Taylor Lavati
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means including photocopying, recording or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The use of these trademarks is no authorizes, associated with or sponsored by the trademark owner.
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Cover Design by Danielle Rose
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I never thought that I'd be here. The obvious reason being that I'm an Angel—or at least I thought I was. The Lower Veil is nothing like I expected it to be, though. Now that I've made it here, I'm starting to think that maybe I could fit in. Since it's so obvious that the Angels don't want me, maybe the Demons do—specifically the king of Demons, since he's the one who kidnapped me, dragged me down a huge, black hole, and then locked me in this dungeon-like room.
"Annie, please hurry. Dinner is waiting and you know my wives wait on no one."
Speaking of the Demon king…
"One minute!" I yell back as I survey myself in my chambers. I'm hiding in the bathroom, which is monstrous in size—it has more space than anything I've ever been in, including my house on Earth. There's some wear and tear on the appliances, but it is the Lower Veil after all, so I don't know what else I'd expect to see.
The mirror I stare into is cracked along the edge, a spider-like vein shooting across the center of the glass. Everything in this place is broken, but nobody cares. The castle isn't made to accommodate or to feel safe. It's here to house Demons.
I hear his footsteps retreat down the long, black hall I know to be just outside my door and let out a sigh of relief. Just looking at the man has my palms sweating and my body trembling. He scares me—for many different reasons. The obvious reason being that I was brought here against my free will and under very false pretenses. He took me away from my safety. At a point in my life, I thought he was safe. I trusted him, and he betrayed me in the sickest way possible.
But, I'm better now.
Yet, it doesn't make it any easier to be stranded here.
I glance one last time at myself and idly wonder how this all came to be. My plain, brown hair hangs lifelessly down to my waist in subtle curls. My normally green eyes are dull and tired. They ache from being in the dark for over a week now. I look old, worn down, heavy bags where pale skin used to be. I hardly recognize myself.
I touch my reflection with my pointer finger, and then leave the bathroom adjoined to my chambers. It's really just a jail cell in the highest tower in the Demon kingdom. I'm never allowed to leave without permission. I'm not allowed to do anything, unless the king allows me.
My only saving grace was that the king healed me from a rough Demon fight on Earth. I almost died at the hands of a monster for no reason at all, other than I thought Demon hunting was fun and my calling in life. It sounds so childish, thinking back to my time on Earth.
I was stupid, hateful. I was vengeful and carried a grudge against all the Angels from the Veil. They turned their back on me, but I turned my back on them, too. I can't blame them for their actions against me. They were warranted. But I couldn't move past it and just accept my fate.
Now look where I am? I'm stuck in the Lower Veil, a place I can honestly say I never wanted to experience. I remember my mother once read me a book as a child. It was about the Lower Veil and how scary and dangerous it was believed to be. The book claimed that there were red Demons that resided in the black castle with snake-like tongues, licking and biting with their fangs at anyone who dared to enter. It said that you could barely breathe, because the air was so thick with people's souls rotting away and contaminating the air.
Of course, I believed every word that tumbled out of her mouth. I believed them all.
But here I am, in the Lower Veil, breathing the air. Nobody is licking at me or attacking me. In fact, most of the Demons accept me as the king's plaything—his conquest from his time on Earth. I'm an abomination that the king found and stole.
I quickly exit my chambers, not wanting to upset the king and his court. I've memorized the way to the dining hall, so I make quick work around the labyrinth-like hallways. The dining hall is the first opening after the hall, and it's quite expansive.
I take my seat in the main dining room next to the king, across from one of his wives. I believe this one is named Percy, although they all look alike. They have long, nearly black hair that falls down to their butts. They have light eyes, with sharp noses and cheeks. They're all equally beautiful in similar ways.
They're all also equally scary. Their eyes are light, but they're anything but soft. They cut through the air and burn you with their intensity. They're cold, hard, and aggressive. They only ever speak when they're angry and their voices are like a man's—deep and throaty.
A large piece of red cake with thick, brown frosting is placed in front of me from a waiter, daring me to take a greedy bite. It's crazy how things always change. My whole life, I lived in the Veil where food wasn't ever around. We could only eat on birthdays and even then it was a sliver of your favorite cake, and we had to share with everyone. When I was banished to Earth, I allowed myself to indulge in any food I wanted since it was always available. It's one of my many things I miss.
Currently, I'm feeling very emotional, and I begin to miss it all. I miss the people, my Nephalem family from Earth, my Angel family from the Veil, my best friend, Perry, the smells, the coldness in the air.
But wanting and missing are such useless needs to me. I need to remember my past—all that's happened to me that led me to this point. The Veil didn't want me, I couldn't last on Earth, so the Lower Veil it is. I'm stuck in a state of perpetual abandonment.
I guess there was a moment when I had a glimmer of hope.
But that h
It's my last day in children's school. In three days, my sixteenth birthday will be here, and I will be a real Angel. I quickly dress in my uniformed outfit and meet my Guardians at the bottom of the stairs. My mother Guardian has tears in her eyes—like usual.
"Soon these stairs will be gone," my mother says, looking at the stupid set of stairs. How she finds these stairs nostalgic is beyond me. She looks up and down at me, but she's not happy. "I thought you'd wear a dress on your last day."
"I hate dresses." I narrow my eyes on her, because for every single second of my life, I've hated dresses. She knows this, yet she refuses to just understand me. "I'm training today, anyway, so I can't wear a dress."
"Let me at least fix your hair." She comes over to me and starts twisting my hair into some big pile on the top of my head before I can even reject her. I have long hair, and it's as thick as it gets. I don't know what to do with it most of the time so I just let it hang, but of course, my mother Guardian won't accept that. It's lazy.
"I have to run, Angels." My dad comes into the front room and wraps his arms around the group of us in a big hug. I groan at how annoying they are, but try to stifle my aggravation. In a few days, I'll be gone and, most likely, missing them.
"Have a good day at work, Val," my mother says, kissing him on the cheek. Their baby blue wings clash and wrap around them like a cage, so I'm blocked from witnessing their affection.
"Are you kidding me?" I groan as they continue to make out like young Angels. "I'm out of here!" I yell as I step out of the house, shutting the white door behind me.
We're still stuck living in the young Angel community. Couples with children who don't have wings yet are forced to stay here instead of the main city, which is just a quick fly through the air. Since I'm wingless, I have to attend school and do mundane human things until my big birth hour.
The worst part is that without wings, I can't get around the best parts of the Veil. The only way I can even visit my best friend, who just got her wings recently, is if she flies over and literally picks me up. It's traumatizing, degrading, and I just hate it.
Luckily, I'm not completely alone. My boyfriend, Tab, still doesn't have wings, so we're suffering in school together. He has another month before he turns sixteen and gets his wings on his birth hour. While it's unfortunate that he'll be stuck here alone for that month, I'm happy that it's not me left behind.
I walk down the white path that leads from my house to Tab's. It's a normal day in the Veil. I thought that maybe I'd feel different as I walked around, but I don't. The air is still perfectly clean, and the temperature is still moderately calm. Nothing has suddenly switched from white to any other color. Boring.
I find an identical house to mine just a few steps away from my home. They're all identical, but this one is Tab's Guardians' place, and I knock on the front door. Both of Tab's Guardians are Princers, just like mine, which means that they make sure that things are going smoothly in the Veil. It's a boring job, and one I don't wish to have.
"Hello, Annie," Tab's Guardian, Lina, says as she swings open the door. Tab looks just like her—with their light brown hair and light brown eyes, it's hard to tell them apart. Their dark coloring only makes them that much prettier.
"Bye, mother!" Tab says as he barrels down the stairs and meets me right at the door. He's always running, always moving fast, two steps ahead of the other guys. It's something I admire about him.
"Bye!" I yell over my shoulder as Tab spins me around. Tab reaches for me, clasping his hand around mine, and we begin our fast walk to the school. It's about a five-minute walk, which isn't bad, especially since Tab and I both like to walk faster than normal. I ask Tab about his day since he had a job test last night and listen intently the entire walk there.
Tab is an Angel of determination, but he still needs a job. He can pretty much be whatever he wants to be, which is something I envy. I finished all of my testing, but am still wondering what I will end up doing with my life.
Classes at children's school are split up based on what we want our jobs to be and we take different tests to decide where we belong. I've always wanted to be a Fighter, but because both of my parents are Princers, I have to take some classes that have to do with Angel jobs, the Veil, and its many facets and boring life lessons like that.
But since I'm getting my wings soon, I've started training with an Archer. Specifically, Micha—the cutest Archer to ever live. The Archers are famous, because they protect Earth and humans from the Demons that reside in the Lower Veil. I'm not sure exactly what they do, but they're daring, adventurous, and heroic.
I would want to be an Archer, but there's only ever seven at one time. This group of seven was chosen only two years ago. I don't have a chance at all to be an Archer, which is why I want to be a Fighter—the next best thing.
Fighters protect Angels and the Veil. They do different things, like patrolling and stabilizing threats. The job isn't as intense as the Archers, who get to fly to Earth, or as selective, which is why I'm going to be a Fighter.
Also, I'm really good at it, and I have the mindset to be even better.
"I'll see you during social hour?" Tab asks as we enter the hallway full of wingless Angels. This particular school ranges from young children up until the age of fifteen going on sixteen, or the last levels.
"I was thinking of heading to the training center early, actually."
"You have a session with the Archer later, though, right?" It really annoys me that Tab refuses to say Micha's name. I know he feels threatened, but my crush is just that—a crush. Micha barely looks at me and even more rarely speaks to me, so Tab has nothing to panic about.
"Yes, I do," I tell him. I pause at the point in the hall where we usually break off. Tab goes to his specialty class, which is supposed to shape his focus of determination. I have to go to my Guardian etiquette, which is a huge waste of my time. I won't be chosen any time soon.
"So, you're training twice today?"
"Yeah. In three days, I'll have to start my real job, and I don't want to be behind," I explain, even though I don't owe Tab anything.
"I'd prefer you spend time with me," he whines.
"I really can't. But, after school you can come over and spend social time with my Guardians and I."
"Sure," he answers, but I know that he's upset. Truthfully, I don't like hurting Tab, but it seems like lately, and especially the closer my birth date comes, Tab just won't let me go. It grates on my every nerve, but I don't want to upset him.
"See you later," I say and turn to go. But Tab catches my elbow and spins me around so we're face to face. He kisses my cheek and then pulls back, staring into my eyes. I can't tell what I see inside of his.
"I love you, Annie," he says, and before I can say a thing, he kisses me on the lips. He's kissed me before, so it's not completely out of the blue. Although, the last time he kissed me, I shoved him down on the ground and explained that I don't want a relationship.
I don't know why it's so hard to believe that I don't. I want to be a Fighter. I have personal goals. Tab has agreed to my plans and said that as long as he's a part of them, he'll support me. For some reason, he just can't keep his lips off of me.
To make it worse, my Guardians love Tab. They know that I need to settle down sometime soon—I am sixteen in a few days after all. But, I just can't even fathom a serious relationship.
Tab breaks the kiss and then turns and walks to class. He waves over his shoulder while I stand here, dumbfounded. I don't even know what to do. I can't waste another minute thinking about my conflicted feelings, so I turn on my heels and walk to class.
Final Training Day
Outside of the main school building is a long, paved trail that wraps around the campus. I like to warm up after school by going for runs up and down the trail. It's one of the negatives about Angels—our legs aren't so strong. But I've been working hard to make sure I have no weaknesses.
After I finish running, I move into the training center, where I meet Micha. There are four people in my training group left, and we all work together and spar and have fun while getting stronger.
When we began our specialized training, there were ten of us in the group that wished to become a Fighter. In the first day, Micha had us sparring and two of the girls dropped out almost instantly, leaving me to be the last female standing.
A week later, a guy got injured when we were running through an obstacle course and was ejected. They apparently said that he was banned from being an Archer or Fighter because of the injury. Nobody ever saw him again, so that's what we're all left to believe. I try to only believe half of what a rumor is.
The others in the group just randomly left, so now there's just the four of us. I'm the only girl, but that's not hard to believe. Most girls want to be Virtues—the miracle makers. Perry, my best friend, got white wings and became a Virtue a few weeks ago. She said it was the happiest day of her life.
As I enter the training center, everyone in the room claps. I feel my cheeks heat with embarrassment. Normally, I like to come in, learn, get my work done, and get out. The guys tend to just ignore me, so I follow along and we have a comfortable, mutual understanding. When everyone, including Micha, is staring at me, clapping, I inwardly freak out.
"What?" I ask, holding my hands up in surrender. I stop in front of the five of them, my hands on my hips, awkwardly swaying from side to side while they continue to clap and embarrass me.