This was a whole chapter I cut early on in the drafting process. Earth Angel began when I was a teenager which I rewrote. I don’t know what I wanted to achieve when I originally wrote this chapter, it had some world and character building but did nothing for the plot so I was ruthless and cut it.

We join Zenovia after she leaves with her new companions. Their first stop along the journey was one of the God’s temples. This chapter is in no way on par with the writing of the final draft, it’s also written in first person which was changed and will definitely contain inconsistencies and ideas that I dropped in the final draft. No spoilers. Enjoy!

*Warning. Scenes were deleted before the final edits and may contain errors and inconsistencies*

The Bird’s Nest

I could immediately see why they called it ‘The Bird’s Nest.’ Within the entanglement of enormous vines and roots rested the largest griffin colony on the continent. I could see them nesting and flying, sharp beaks, eagle feathers and tiger stripes. The roots began in a deep crater in the land where lush green islands surrounded the pools of crisp, clear water. The great roots sank deep into the earth creating a maze over the surface. The castle sat atop the strength of plant, white towers rose up into the sparkling sky. It looked alive with trees lifting up from the gardens. Stairs, walkways and bridges linked the towers and the buildings. The built structure merged with nature over time. It looked like a beautiful jigsaw with pieces missing, wonky or misplaced. The rocks were eroding in places or gone completely, leaving bridges unconnected and stairs leading nowhere. The green vegetation was part of the structure as the towers rose above it. You could see the great dome, which was the epicentre of the temple; the throne room where the Griffin King now slept peacefully. The entanglement of nature held the buildings together, showing how griffin architecture sat in perfect harmony with its surroundings. Griffins nested high in the undergrowth of the nest, flying in and out of the great trunk like roots.

Flying was the sole most nerve racking thing I had ever done, but also the most pleasant. The fast jerking movements of the take off terrified me but once we were gliding and I could open my eyes, I found the experience relaxing as long as I did not look down.

We were greeted by three large griffins that flanked us as we came into land. I gazed at their magnificence; the mixture of fur and feathers, sharp talons and beaks and their beady black eyes. They were checking we were safe before we entered their sanctuary.

Alfonso landed gracefully on a grassy area at the entrance to the gardens. Cautiously, and with a hand from Orlando I slid down from the saddle with my new companions. It was good to be on ground, although we were still at a height.

‘Thanks for the ride Alfonso. We won’t be long,’ said Faith. The great dragon nodded his mighty head.

I tried to pat my hair down, running my fingers through the length but the wind had whipped it into giant cots. I would have to brush it later. I looked at Faith and dared not ask how her hair stayed so perfect.

‘I’m going straight to the temple to pray to Ezekiel. You can come with me or explore the grounds; the gardens are great for quiet reflection or just to look at. If I don’t see you at the temple we can meet here in about an hour and a half.’ She looked at me, ‘The temple is pretty much a straight line from here,’ she indicated the direction, ‘you can’t miss it.’

‘Ok,’ I answered. And she was gone.

 

The gardens were incredible, I could easily get lost here. They were naturally organised, full before the point of overgrown. Flower beds bursting with colour, lush green vegetation, and fantastic trees twisting to the sky with leaves of odd shades and shapes bristling like the fur on a cat. I recognised none of them. The greenery mingled in harmony with the structure of the buildings around it. Creepers climbed up the worn facades, dangling from stairways and entwined the towers, columns and archways. The yellow sun illuminated everything with its bright rays. Birds, butterflies and small creatures fluttered and scuttled beneath the array of colours in the sea of green and white. I could die here. Streams of pure pale water snaked through the garden. The riverbed, like a small canal, was made of pure white marble. Where the source was I did not know.

I removed my canvas shoes and carried them; the grass was the softest I have ever felt, like a comfy bed. I followed the direction of a stream with my eyes. The blue water matched the blue sky as it trickled over the edge. The grass curved down the slope, it was like someone had cut through the garden with a giant knife. Leaving my shoes behind I crawled up to the edge and peered over. The river fell in a dispersed curve to the ground below. The height hit me and gripped my whole body, weighing me down like a magnet. I could see the expansive crater of roots and the pools between them. Griffins flittered about the surface and glided through the sky. The place was alive with life. I edged away, back to the garden and found my feet again.

When I turned and viewed the garden once more my perception had changed, everything seemed brighter. I narrowed my eyes, straining to see the slight shadows moving around the flowerbeds. Slowly they came into shape, human form but transparent. Some were bent over the flowers, others walking around. The figures all seem to be wearing a white robe, the hood pulled over their heads.

I gasped as one of the ghost like forms lifted its head and gazed directly at me. I was expecting my reaction to be one of fear but I felt nothing but peace. I could see her round face and the human detail.

A memory came to me, a memory not mine. I saw this woman who looked at me now, in a different place, a small child that was not her own, and the person whose eyes I looked through was a close relative, sister maybe. They were all happy, but I could tell a great tragedy was soon about to occur, looking out the window seeing a figure on the ground, wounded, then a painful scream.

The faded figure smiled at me warmly. I felt she would have run and hugged me, but her form would just pass through my body. Instead she sent waves of warmth and love in my direction. I was left standing, comforted by her love.

‘They say spirits volunteer to maintain the temples.’

The voice made me jump. Orlando approached me, his eyes scanned the garden. He had not seen them.

‘Spirits?’ I asked.

‘Some stay behind and live in the temples, tending to the gardens, looking after the animals, making it a safe and spiritual environment.’

I looked at the spirits again and indeed they were caring for the plants. The woman who had looked at me before now had her back turned, caring for a small rose bush, the flowers black as night.

‘So what’s the difference between a spirit and a ghost?’

‘Spirits are conscious, they realise they have passed from the body and they have accepted it. They can choose to stay here or travel to the next plane. Ghosts are simply lost souls; they don’t realise or can’t accept they have left the body. The God Pandora is a ghost, however conscious, she clings onto the past and can’t let go of her life as a lost princess… or so the story goes. She travels the globe and helps ghosts who are lost to move onto the next life. Cyrus however, is a human spirit God, who guards the portal to the next life and lets the spirits pass through, he also houses spirits in his castle, a kind of hotel for the dead who want to linger a while before they move on.’ As he spoke his eyes moved around the garden as if he was looking for something. I felt drawn into his eyes but as I stared I felt the white face of the drowning woman swimming back into my vision. I let it go and looked away.

‘Creepy.’ I answered him.

‘I’m heading to the temple, you coming?’

‘Sure.’

 

Before she entered the temple Faith took a moment on her own to think. She sat by a small pool and gazed at the marble statues of griffins wearing armour and holding weapons in a guarding stance. She felt at peace when visiting the temple, it was the one closest to home and she visited often to regain her strength or quieten her doubts; sometimes the weight of her responsibility was too heavy. Given the chance she would love to live there. Surrounded by the protective walls and soothing gardens her heart felt lighter and the abundance of chatter in her mind faded to a whisper. She wished to stay longer but felt pressed to move on.

Her mind briefly touched on to Yanto and Inga, Zenovia’s blood parents. It had been years, when Faith’s father was in Wolfpack since she’d last seen the couple and she was not altogether sure how to find them.

Gazing at her reflection in the calm water she sent out a prayer.

Only a few more stops my love and we’ll be there. There is a few things I need to do. Just hold on a little longer. I love you so much.

She dragged herself away from the pool and entered through the open arch into the temple.

 

Faith was crossed legged on the stone floor of the throne room in complete darkness. She took long breaths into her stomach and let them out slowly. Her mind became still as she pushed lingering thoughts away she focussed on the ever growing presence that surrounded her senses.

I see you Angel.

‘I see you Ezekiel Griffin King,’ the Angel answered to the impression in her mind. There was no physical voice, only information.

Why have to come to me today? The impression asked. Faith paused.

‘Peace of mind. I have experiences recent hardship,’ Faith answered with her mind. She felt a breeze of warm air brushing her skin.

We have been sending healing your way Angel. You serve us well and you will not go unrewarded. We can see you are tired but you must stay strong for those around you.

‘I am strong,’

You are. It is not time to say goodbye yet. Your service will be needed again shortly.

‘When will it be time?’

Not yet. Maybe never. This is your life purpose.

‘I know.’

Look out for a messenger bringing news. You must listen to him as he offers protection. You must be strong. Keep praying. Keep the connection strong. You will rest in the end but for now you must be strong.

‘I am strong.’

We know. Faith felt the presence withdraw and the air fell cold again.

‘I thank you Ezekiel Griffin King for your guidance today. I can continue on my path as Angel knowing you walk beside me. I have what I need for my purpose. Blessings and thanks to you.’

 

I had my expectations bested yet again. Outside of the temple were life size marble griffins buried in niches in the walls, armed with a sword and shield as if to guard the temple. We entered through the archway and found ourselves inside a giant marble dome where twelve podiums circled the floor adorned with statues of the twelve Gods. The effigies were twice as tall as a man. Twelve archways in the roof shone light down illuminating each statue at a different point in the day. They were all great creatures, one species is now extinct, and another close to. Two of the Gods used to be human, but are now spirit and ghost, immortal without flesh. They all rested in their temples away from the world.

The Gods are our immortal protectors. They choose specific people to become Angels who alert the Gods if there’s an outside danger. Not that there often is. Some people are Angels all their life like Faith but some are only Angels for a short time, it depends on your life path. But that’s all I know about that.

As far as we know the Gods cannot be killed, although stories in history tell of people who tried. All they were to me were twelve stone statues, distant and unreachable. All my life I didn’t believe in the power of prayers, people pray because they want and because they fear, but somehow being in a temple made me want to kneel in front of one of the statues and pray. Pray for a safe journey, pray to find my parents, and pray they will not reject me.

There was a short staircase leading up to an ornate door at the far side of dome. That must be the throne room, Gods and Angels only.

‘Do you pray?’ I asked Orlando.

‘I’m not much of a praying man. They can’t hear us anyway.’

‘That’s what I always thought.’

The sound of marble scraping echoed in the dome as the ornate door slowly slid open and Faith appeared on the other side. Her body looked rejuvenated, however there was something missing behind the eyes. I tried to sneak a look into the throne room but it was dark, and the door closed behind her.

‘I’m ready to leave now.’

When we arrived back at the grassy platform Alfonso was there waiting for us. On arrival he turned his head toward us. He was stood up, muscles tense, ready for action.

‘Thank goodness you’re here, we need to leave immediately.’

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