"She's waking up!"
I opened my eyes and was slightly blinded by the sudden light. As my eyes adjusted, I found myself in a tent. My leg felt sore, but I couldn't remember why. I could see a handful of familiar faces huddled around me. Lance, Bruce, and Daniel, some of the instructors from the training academy, were there and so was my mom.
There were also a couple people I didn't recognize.
There was a girl with long, chestnut brown hair and dark eyes. Her gentle features suggested that she was younger than I. She had a charm to her that made her seem familiar like a long-lost sister.
There was also a boy. He looked a couple years older than me. He had black hair and the bluest eyes I'd ever seen. He never looked directly at me, though. He seemed slightly shady, but at the same time strangely inviting and trustable.
After I had a moment to process what was going on, I noticed that someone was missing.
"Where is Jacob?" I asked. The one person I really wanted to see wasn't there.
"He's at the Angelic Attic checking on Grace," Daniel answered. "He should be back soon."
As if on queue, Jake stumbled into the tent. He looked extremely distressed. Whatever cheer we had drained as we saw him.
"It's gone," he gasped.
"What do you mean it's gone?" the girl I didn't know inquired.
"The Angelic Attic . . . is . . . destroyed," Jake said. He paused a moment to catch his breath. "When I got there, the magic that kept it hidden was terminated. I could see a note among its ruins, so I grabbed it and came back here as quickly as I could."
He pulled out a slip of paper with elegantly formed letters on it and handed it to the girl because she seemed the most concerned.
She read it aloud:
"Dearest brother, I hope you are well. I see you still have a taste for beautiful girls, especially those that are so pure. At least I can put this one to good use. She'd look good in black, don't you think? See you in Greenland! Your faithful brother, Adrian Prince."
I imagined the wicked smile on Adrian's face as he signed that letter. He could never keep himself from doing what he wanted - especially causing harm.
"Did you find my mom?" the girl asked.
"Vesta? No. I'm sorry, Charlotte," Jake replied.
Charlotte looked at the ground in dismay. My mom turned to her and comforted her. I wondered why I hadn't guessed the connection between the girl and Vesta before. They looked almost exactly alike, minus the age difference.
"Well at least we know where to go," Lance said. He was right. We were going to fight the big battle in Greenland.
"Should we get ready then?" Bruce suggested.
We all agreed. A majority of the people left the tent to prepare. Jake and I were the only two that stayed. Neither of us said anything for a moment. He surveyed the room until he found the sheathed sword I'd brought back.
"So that's it," he remarked. He picked it up and tried to unsheathe it, but it wouldn't budge. "Hm. That might be a problem."
Jake picked up a white book that was on the ground and scanned through the table of contents until he found something about the sword. "It says here that it only opens for its master."
"Oh. Maybe Lance should . . ."
"No. You try."
I got up off of my cot and grabbed the sword. I curled one hand's fingers around the hilt and I pulled the sheath off with the other.
I caught my first glimpse of the uncovered blade then. It was a magnificent sword. It was large; intended for two sturdy hands. Gold designs traced up its side like clouds that lined the sky. It filled the tent with light.
I felt a surge of power when I held that sword. Jacob stared at me like I was a circus act. It didn't feel very good to me, so I put the sword back in its cover. I hadn't realized until the excess light was gone that it was the awkward kind of stare; it was a gaze of wonder.
"Liz . . . you've got . . . wings."
I was surprised to see that he was correct. I, indeed, did have beautiful, white wings mounted on my back. It was incredible!
We were both in awe. Jake grew closer like my wings were magnets. He wrapped his arms around my waist and I draped mine around his neck. I knew what was coming.
Just before his lips could meet mine, a voice from outside shouted, "Could you get the book about the Land of Below out, Liz?"
I sighed at the interruption and looked for the book. I couldn't find it. When I wasn't giving a response or a book, the rest of the angels came in to see what was going on.
"Did you lose it?" Jake inquired.
"I don't remember."
"Then start at the beginning of what happened. Work your way forwards."
I explained what happened when I was Below. I remembered more as I went along.
"So you lost it . . ."
"And in the process of losing it, you lost whatever we could learn from the book. Since it's in another realm, you can't summon it either."
They seemed angry. It was crushing.
"At least she made it back safely," my mom said.
"You're right," Jake agreed. "And by doing that, she brought us the sword."
Attention turned to the blade that I had set down.
"Is that . . . is that Lumen Spatha?" Lance asked. Being a weapons expert, he recognized the sword easily.
I picked up the sword and read the words engraved onto the hilt. "Yeah."
"So maybe we have a chance after all . . ."