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~:: Destinies - Chapter II ::~

A soft, diffused blue light glowed around them, apparently emanating from some sparkling crystalline formations in the walls. She could hear the echoing sound of water tricking over rock, somewhere nearby.

 "Where are we?" she asked her Guardian.

 "We are now halfway across the world underneath a city that is in great turmoil. You will find the one you are seeking here," he said, in an ominous tone.

The amulet her mother had given her began to glow with an eerie purple light. It throbbed with energy softly against her body, where she had it tucked in the folds of her robe. She exchanged a knowing look with the Guardian.

She cocked her head to one side, listening carefully, she thought she heard a soft footfall nearby, but could see nothing. Suddenly the hairs on her neck stood up, and she shuddered, involuntarily. Whirling around, she looked behind her. The shadows seemed to ripple, but then there was nothing there.

Her heightened senses, a gift from her mother, told her that they were not alone. Reaching out her hand, she waved it in the direction of the wavering shadows.

Thwack. Her hand struck something solid.

A soft, almost inaudible hissing sound filled her ears, and where the rippling shadows were, there now materialized a tall, stately figure with huge dark eyes and shining white blonde hair. And horns. Just like hers.

"Are you my sister?" she asked.

The tall girl eyed her suspiciously, her glance darting from the small waif in front of her, to the shining Guardian, standing nearby.

"Who are you?" she demanded, boldly. "Why have you invaded my abode?"

"I am in search of Azazela, daughter of Azazel," DeLara answered.

"Then you have found her," nodded the blonde, crossing her arms and widening her stance. "State your intentions."

"I am your sister," DeLara stated, firmly. "I was sent here to protect you."

The taller child's gaze wandered over the diminutive form of her sibling. "I do not think there is much you will be able to do to protect me," she snorted. "You look as though you would be hard pressed to protect yourself. And who is your companion?" she asked, nodding in the direction of the Guardian.

The Guardian answered, his voice a booming symphony of harmonic bass tones, "I was sent by the Creator, to protect this child. I am one of the Eternal Guardians, of the army of the Most High."

"We have been sent here," DeLara continued, "to help you fight the minions of our father, who it is foretold, will be sent to return you to his camp."

"How do I know you are telling the truth," Azazela asked, her eyes narrowing.

DeLara realized that her sister was a warrior, and had learned to exercise due cautions when engaging the unknown. She pondered for a moment on how to assure her sister that she meant her no harm. Using her empathic skills, she projected an aura of love and goodwill towards her sibling, and hoped that the open, raw emotions would convince her of her helpful intent.

The wave of warm love washed over the towering girl, and she met her sister's eye. Their gazes locked, and suddenly it was as if they could see inside of each other's soul.

Azazela relaxed, dropping to a sitting position on the cool stone and motioning her sister and the Guardian to do the same. Her sister moved closer, and sat very near, taking the younger girls hand. "My mother tells me that our chances of saving you are not good. But I am here to try. We have the power to alter our destinies. Will you help me towards that end?"

Nodding, as wisps of blonde hair fell around her horns and into her face, she drew a deep breath, and sighed heavily. "You have no idea the struggle I face each day. The battle I wage inside myself is far more trying than any foe I could ever fight. The urge to surrender to my dark heritage is strong. Do you believe this is the battle that you have been sent to help me wage?"

DeLara looked into Azazela's deep, brooding eyes, and wished she had an easy answer. "I am very new to this." She turned her Guardian, searching his face for any guidance he could give.

He shook his head. "I cannot foretell your future. I can tell you this - love is a strong bond and can conquer the greatest of evils."

The girls exchanged a puzzled glance, wondering if he spoke of love between sisters. They didn't even really know each other yet. How could they form a bond of love so strong that even the powers of Darkness would flee before them?

The Guardian reached out his hand and touched DeLara's pale, throbbing temple. Suddenly, the confusion she was swimming in cleared and she had a vision of great tribulation: people running, weapons being fired, huge bolts of electricity crackling through the air, punctuated by screaming and crying.

"This is where we must go," DeLara said softly. "I have seen this place in my nightmares."

"I will not go out among the humans," Azazela said, firmly. "At the present, I am nothing but a danger to them.  I am not entirely sure that I might not become one of those who are doing them harm. I must remain here in solitude, for present time."

Dee met her gaze and nodded. "I cannot force you to do anything you don't want to do."

"For the time being, I am safe here," the tall girl continued softly. "There are some peaceful mages who live here. They bring me all I require, so that I do not need to go above, to give my presence away."

Her small sister nodded her understanding, and assured her, "I will be back. You can be sure of that."

She turned to her Guardian. "I am drawn to this city - the place of chaos and pain. Can you take me there?"

Nodding his assent, he raised his hands. In a blinding flash, her sister was left staring at the spot where they'd stood. DeLara found herself standing in the middle of a huge parking lot, confused and afraid.

She looked around. Turning, she noticed her Guardian was no longer behind her. In a panic, she cried out to him in words she did not herself understand.

Be brave, my child, he pressed thoughts into her mind. I will never cease to watch over you. I am always nearby. I cannot allow these others to see me nor know me for what I am. But do not fear that I will forsake you. I am bound to protect you and keep you from harm for all of time.

She felt a wave of calm wash over her soul and knew he spoke the truth. Her eyes opened wide as she decided to explore her new surroundings. She somehow felt at home here. Looking around, she could see all manner of creatures. I can fit in here, she told herself. She reached up and absentmindedly ran her fingers over a smooth curved horn, and let her fingers continue downward to comb through her tangled mass of copious curls.

As she steeled her resolve, and mounted the steps approaching a large crowd gathered at a dais beneath the great statute, she felt a sense of foreboding. She knew that the next steps were the fated first upon a long and arduous journey that she was destined to undertake. Heaving a soft sigh, she put one foot ahead of the other, and willed that journey to begin.