(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Caeden was written by Caroline Centa.)
Caeden stoked the fire in his forge, causing it to flare up a little. He pulled off his shirt and threw it into the corner of the room and then picked up an unfinished shield from the shelf. He placed it in the fire and watched the metal heat up. The orange glow always induced a sense of relaxation within him. More of his tension left his body as he began to bang rhythmically on the softened metal, shaping the detail into the piece of armor.
He wouldn’t have even noticed the imp at the door if it weren’t for the soft knocks penetrating his thoughts. “Your guest has arrived,” The imp said
“Oh, thank you. Show her in.” Caeden put the shield down and wiped his hands on the back of his pants.
The imp poked his head around the door and gestured for a woman to enter.
Kelly stepped into the workshop and had to pause to become accustom to the heat, but she took in the sights and sounds, and it was incredible. She drew near to him to watch him work. “What are you making?”
Caeden smiled. He loved it when the women asked about his work. “This,” he said as he picked up the round shield, “is a Buckler. That’s a type of shield. Oh, pardon my manners. I’m Caeden. I see you’ve figured out how to travel in the astral well enough.” Caeden shook Kelly’s hand before pointing to a two bar stools on the opposite side of the bench he was working on. “You can take one of those seats if you’d like. Do you mind if I work while we talk?”
“I don’t mind at all.” Kelly shook her head with a smile as she sat on a stool and watched him. “But I will warn you, I might get distracted asking you about yourself and begin asking you about your work and what this or that is and all the finer details. What can I say? I like weapons!” She grinned at him, but she steered the conversation back to the main topic. “So, I understand you are half-demon and half-god but born as a human…does that mean you were born on Earth?”
“Ahh. this is your first time to the Astral, isn’t it?”
Kelly nodded. “Yes it is. I’ve been to a lot of places, but first time to the Astral.”
“I can tell by the question you asked.” Caeden flashed Kelly a giant grin. “Your memories must not have returned yet. Sometimes it’s slower than other times, especially when things seem new. All souls are born on the astral.”
“Okay…” Kelly trailed off, tilting her head and furrowing her brows at him confused. “How can you be half-demon and half-god but born as a human? If you’re half this and half that, half and half equals a whole….I’m confused.”
Caeden laughed.”I’m not half-demon and half-god. My soul was created from the union of an elven-demon and a goddess. I don’t know either of my creators anymore, that was a long time ago and I’ve lived many lives since then.” Caeden picked up the shield and heated it up some more in the flame as he spoke. “Hades, the God of the Underworld, invoked the spark of life into me. He’s the one I consider my father, but he trains me too. I’d take you to meet him, but… time and all.” Caeden flicked another smile to Kelly and continued to work on the Buckler. “Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. So we’re all created as souls on the Astral. This is where we live. You’ll have a room somewhere.” Caeden noticed that Kelly still looked confused. “Ever heard of reincarnation?”
Kelly nodded. “Of course.” Though she wasn’t sure how this played into everything, so she leaned forward, placing her chin in her hand. “So, how many lives have you lived?”
“Oh too many to count. But I’m glad you know what that is, as it helps me explain. There are three core races in the Astral wold. Well, technically four but the Khalidans only have one, no two, remaining alive and one of them is, shall I say indisposed? She’s Mother Earth. The other is her grandchild.” Caeden checked to make sure he hadn’t lost Kelly before continuing. “Anyway, besides the Khalidans, there are the Gods, Demons, and Humans. But humans on the astral are not exactly humans on the Earthy plane. Any of the races can be born as humans. And over time we’ve bred with each other and created blends. That’s how my soul’s father is half Elf – oh I forgot about the minor races… you’ll need a few weeks to go over them. They are subcategories of the core races.”
Kelly shook her head as she chuckled. “Yeah, we don’t have time for that unfortunately, but tell me about Melody. I heard she was your unioned Soul…what does that mean?” She watched him closely as she brought up this topic.
Caeden’s felt his heart skip at the mention of Melody’s name. No one spoke of her anymore. His eyebrows narrowed as he looked at Kelly, wondering how she knew about Melody and why she’d be bringing her up. “Union Souls are sort of the same as marriage on the physical plane,” Caeden said cautiously. “Some souls are meant to be together and are usually born in lives on Earth together. Ever heard of the term soulmate?”
Kelly nodded. “So she was your soulmate? What happened?”
“Soulmates don’t just go away. They’re always your soulmate. Unless something drastic happens. Like…” Caeden’s face hardened. “Melody was killed with the Blade of Khalida. Lilith is my unioned soul now, after her union with Michael was dissolved due to her actions.” Caeden hoped his bitterness about Lilith didn’t come through, but doubted he could hide it well enough.
Hearing the bitterness in his voice, Kelly wondered which course she should take because she had a lot of questions but only so much time. “We’ll get back to Lilith in a bit. Take me back to Melody. I’m sorry she was killed, and that must have been horrid for you, but tell me about her? What was she like? When was the first time you two met?”
“Melody and I were union souls for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember exactly how we connected in the astral, but in our last lifetime, we met waiting for a bus. I knew who she was straight away, but I’d been coming to the astral for a while by then so had my memories restored. She had no idea who I was.” Caeden avoided looking at Kelly and pounded on the shiled a little harder than necessary.
“Must have been difficult knowing who she was but she not knowing you, but what was she like?” Kelly had to speak louder because he was pounding harder, but that was okay. She knew she was touching sensitive issues, but that was her job.
“She was kind, considerate, beautiful…” Caeden smiled a little at her memory. “She was very religious and our bond confused her, but we loved each other. She even learned to accept Sera as my mate.”
“Okay, explain to me that. If Melody was your soulmate, why did you need a mate….?” Kelly could guess, but she preferred for Caeden to clarify it for her.
“Souls are not monogamous. Emotions are not the same here as they are on the physical realm. Sera and I are, well was for Sera, astrally aware, so have our natural desires awakened. Melody didn’t understand any of it, but she loved me enough to accept it. That was until she met Jaakob and… can we talk about something else?” Caeden could feel his emotions rising. He hadn’t turned into the Formation of Wrath since he had killed Jaakob and was scared he would transform in front of this innocent person.
Kelly stared at him for a moment, weighing her options. “Caeden, I’m sorry, but I need to ask difficult questions. That’s why I’m here. Who is Jaakob?” She tilted her head to a side, but she was fully aware that he could lash out if he wanted to if he were angry enough. Of course, she wasn’t concerned because she knew she couldn’t be hurt at all, but still.
Caeden tightened his lips. “Jaakob was Lilith’s pawn. She made him kill Melody with the Blade of Khalida – one of only three ways a soul can be permanently erased. At least I got retribution with him.”
She nodded. “And Sera though? You still have her, do you not?” She raised her brows.
“No, she’s gone too. Same way, but Lilith… well the new Lilith.”
Kelly frowned when she heard this, and she softened her voice. “I’m sorry.” She decided not to press forward with that specific topic, so she floundered about for some kind of idea of what to ask next, but one question burned her mind. He said the ‘new Lilith’. “What do you mean ‘new’ Lilith?”
“Everything happens in cycles. Life is about cycles. When one dies, it is replaced by the next. When we killed Lilith, she was replaced. Of course, it’s strange because the one who killed my mate is now my unioned soul.”
Kelly raised her brows when she heard this. “….and how does that work exactly?”
“That’s way too complicated to explain. Everyone has a purpose and they will grow into that purpose. Technically I am Archangel Samael now, but I prefer to be called Caeden. It feels strange evolving into someone else.”
Kelly nodded. “I bet it is strange.” Then she brought her hands together and leaned forward, trying to figure out how to breach the next topic. “I hear you’ve come across a new friend.” She locked eyes with Caeden, so he knew what she was talking about. “What’s so special about her?”
Caeden looked quizzically at Kelly. “New friend? I guess you’re meaning the one from the prophecy. She’s a strange one. She was one Lillith’s spawns saved by Michael.”
Kelly shrugged. She wasn’t given a name, so it was hard to work with. “What prophecy was that exactly?”
“The one where the Daughter of hell, Son of the Underworld and Child of Khalida join together to restore balance to the world. ” Caeden was surprised that whoever had told this woman about Melody and all the rest didn’t know about the prophecy. Maybe she just wanted to hear it from him.
“And how’s that coming?” Kelly lifted her brows as she sat back. “Any progress on that front?”
“Yes, that’s why we have a new Lilith.” Caeden smiled. “We destroyed the last one, and the new cycle has begun.” Caeden looked at his shield and decided that he wasn’t really making any progress on it. He returned it to the shelf and took the seat next to Kelly. He looked her right into her eyes. “So, have you got any of your memories back yet?”
Kelly shook her head. “I’m afraid I won’t. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way with me. It’s complicated to explain.” She gave him a shrug. “So was there ever a time you didn’t remember of this place and everything?” She motioned to their surroundings. “I’m assuming there was a time you didn’t have your memories either. Do you remember that time? Or have you lived too many lives since then?”
“I suppose you won’t be here long enough to get your memories back anyway.” Caeden sat up on the stool and wiped his hands on his pants. “They work funny anyways. Whenever you’re born into a new life, your memories are locked away. Makes it better to learn the lessons from the life if you’re not focused on another life elsewhere. I don’t remember the astral in every life I’ve been born in, only the ones that are important. In my last one, Freya came to me in my dreams and took me to train with Hades for the battle. That’s how I became aware of the astral and… well once I got here my memories came flooding back. The older the soul, the quicker they come.”
Now that he mentioned him, Kelly was curious. “What’s Hades like? In my time, I hear mixed things about him.”
Caeden smiled. “Hades is cool. It’s a big touchy on the outside but really he’s a softy. There’s a lot of mixed stories about him because of his role in the Underworld, but he’s a God, so he’s not one of the baddies, if you know what I mean. Well Gods can be bad, just as Demons can be good, but he’s not one of them.” Caeden wondered what the time was. Hades expected him for training after the interview with Kelly. “He’s a tough trainer though. Almost got me killed a couple of times.”
Kelly chuckled when she heard this. “So he trains you. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from him…even though he might not have intended to teach it?”
“Oh my. He’s taught me everything I know. But when I first learned to transform into the Formation of Wrath, I learned that Gods can be scared too. I never though I’d see Hades scared of anything. None of the Gods get scared, but he did then.”
“And what one lesson would you say that Sera taught you?” Kelly was beginning to work backwards through their conversation.
“Sera taught me patience. She was the mother of all creatures and only knew love. She taught me that I could defeat anything with love.”
A smile tugged at Kelly’s lips when she heard this, and she nodded then asked softly, “And what of Melody?”
“She taught me that everything can be lost, even when you believe it not possible. The hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn.”
Kelly nodded then rose to her feet to meander around. “Hope you don’t mind me. Walking helps me think sometimes.” She kept her hands behind her back though as she paced—as not to accidentally touch something. “I’m assuming time, the future, and such have a different meaning for you, but…do you have any hopes and dreams? If so, what may they be?”
“The new cycle has brought new issues and the Gods speak of an unexpected influence. The Orb baby was born early and no one knows what that means for the next round of prophecies. I hope that the new Lilith and I can overcome our differences and perhaps help solve the problems with the Gods. While it’s easy to follow the prophecies and ensure balance remains, it is difficult to fight a battle that has not been planned.” Caeden watched as Kelly wandered around the forge. “I hope that one day I can relax and not need to constantly train for the battle. I want to be a wise, old man. But I know that my destiny is not what I want – unless these changes mean we can break the cycle.”
Kelly nodded, pausing to inspect a tool, but then she looked up at him and smile. “For what it’s worth, I think you’re already wise. As for ‘old’…well, depends on your definition.” She shrugged, moving away from the tool, and she sighed. “Well, Caeden, it appears my time here has come to an end. I must return home, but I appreciate this conversation. Thank you for answering my questions…even if some of them were difficult for you.”
“Thank you. I must be heading off for training,” Caeden said as he reached out his hand.
She shook his hand, smiling. “Take care of yourself, Caeden, and thank you again.” And with that she left.
Caroline Centa’s novel, Daughter of Hell, is scheduled to be released SOON, November 7th! Follow her on social media for updates.
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