Posting from a small cottage in The Cotsworlds, here is a returning perspective!
Chapter 32. Return to Earth
Etho looked at himself in the mirror. He’d promised himself he would behave, but here he was. He turned on the tap and splashed cold water on his face. It was three o’clock in the morning and Etho was in the bathroom of a man he’d only just met.
“Etho, you have been found guilty of fraternising with humans. You are sentenced to a fate worse than death,” the words from hundreds of years ago rung in his ears. A fate worse than death, a life on Sunreth without his wings. He turned to look at the upside down V scar on his back in the mirror. He’d forgotten what having wings was like it’d been so long.
For his first few years he’d fooled around with more humans than he had when he had his wings, but as the years went on he slowly started to miss Arcadia, but he couldn’t return. He wasn’t allowed. Etho had gone through some truly horrible experiences, but exile was by far the worst.
He glanced back at the door, wondering what to do. He’d been out of the coffin for a week and already had broken the promise he’d made to himself while he’d trapped there. The humans of Earth had a thing called Karma, and Etho felt that was what had happened to him. He’d misbehaved and Karma had given him what he deserved by having him buried alive.
The fallen angel clenched his fists and turned to leave the bathroom. He walked through the short hallway to the bedroom and quietly went back in.
A handsome man with brown hair and a well kept beard was curled up in the bed. Etho smiled, suddenly feeling the guilt trickle away at the sight of Nebris.
Etho, Erin, and Skereth walked through the graveyard that Princess Cassandra had given them permission to take souls from. Etho was using magic to sense what species the bodies had been before their demise. It wasn’t too slow of a process, but was somewhat tedious.
“So, how many are we thinking of going for?” Etho asked as he checked a grave.
“I think we agreed that four would be best so that we have a spare,” Erin said.
Etho made a humming sound, “If we can I think we should get five, so we have two spares. Better to be safe than sorry, right?”
“True,” Erin sighed, “I just feel terrible about doing this. These poor people deserve to rest in peace.”
“Not hexers,” Etho said darkly, “they’re terrible people, not as bad as some of the people you’ve encountered, but they’re pretty bad.”
“Does that mean my mother was a hexer?” Erin asked, suddenly realising.
Etho stood up from his kneeling position and looked Erin in the eye, “She was a hexer, but she was a good person. She was an anomaly. She studied from the Erizul to become more powerful with the intention of doing good. I remember her talking to me about it, asking how I could be so good while being an erimancer. I told her I wasn’t.”
“Well, duh, you got kicked out of Arcadia, you’re not going to be a saint,” Skereth pointed out. Erin smacked her for being insensitive.
“It’s all right,” Etho said reassuringly to Erin, “although, what I did wasn’t too bad...I mean, in angel law it’s one of the worst things you can do, but amongst mortals it’s completely legal.”
“Fraternising with humans, right?” Skereth asked. Etho just nodded.
They continued their search and eventually found the five souls they needed. Etho expertly trapped the souls in bottles to contain them until they had Greenwood back to find a rift to take the Erizul Guild to Mercury.
The next task on the agenda was to go to the rift that would transport Etho to Earth for him to collect Greenwood. Annoyingly it was in Skol Prida.
“One day,” Etho heard Erin mutter as they were getting into Sevadus’ airship, “I will be able to settle down in one country.”
It was a fairly uneventful journey, everyone was feeling a little nervous about the plan. They all hoped it would work, but until it was put into practice, they couldn’t know. Erin, Skereth, Chad and Sevadus were all also venturing to Earth, Erin wanted to show them around. They were defacing a soul anyway, they might as make the most of it, Erin had said.
Etho said that they were welcome to do what they pleased as long as they were all at the church where Erin had originally been transported through at the agreed time, however he said he would only wait so long.
They landed outside the forest where Chad and Vechs had first found Erin all those weeks ago. Etho thought about how these completely ordinary people had had their worlds turned upside down by one person being hired on a magical case.
Etho wondered if it was fate or something else that had brought this bunch of misfits together. He wasn’t certain he believe in fate. One of his jobs in Arcadia was to help mortals follow the best path for them. There were hundreds of possibilities for everyone in life and guardian angels would point them in the right direction. Etho had abused his access to Sunreth for selfish reasons though.
“We’re here,” he announced, trying to take his mind off the thoughts spinning through his mind.
“Great,” Erin glanced down at her clothes, “Uh, when we get transported through we’ll be naked.”
Skereth grinned, “Oh really?”
Etho scratched his head, “That’s true. I will call upon Greenwood using our connection to ask him to bring clothes for everyone. I’ve already told him we’re on our way today.”
“Also, Chad and Sevadus look like humanoid cats. That’s weird on Earth.” Erin pointed out.
“I can transform into a human and I can do a little glamour on Chad to make him appear human,” Sevadus said. Everyone watched as Sevadus’ features morphed and he contorted into his original human form.
He then waved a hand and the same sort of thing happened to Chad.
Once Chad had been transformed he looked down at his hands, “I feel so naked!”
“You look great,” Sevadus said kissing his cheek.
“You picked what I look like!” Chad pointed out. He pulled down his hair to look at it. It was bright red.
Etho looked around, “Okay ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to travel to Earth?”
“Ready,” the four said in unison.
“Then away we go!” Etho declared and smashed the bottle releasing the ghoul.
Etho sat in Greenwood’s office sipping tea. He’d just explained the plan to him and Greenwood was mulling it over.
“It would be excellent to spite him just a little bit more,” Greenwood said with a grin.
“Because stealing me wasn’t enough?” Etho asked
“Well, this idea would be the icing on the cake, as people here on Earth would say. I would also do anything to return to Sunreth.”
Etho nodded, he knew Greenwood’s morals and opinions would be swayed by the prospect of returning to Sunreth. The man had principals, but his mind could be subject to change with the right price.
“I have one condition, though,” Etho said. He had his own agenda that the rest of the group didn’t know about. He wanted to be freed from the contract of Greenwood.
“What a coincidence,” Greenwood said slowly, “so do I.”
Etho raised his eyebrows, “And what’s that?”
“My friend Craig comes with us,”
“Craig? As in 'Craig-You-Always-Complain-About' Craig?” Etho asked, surprised.
Greenwood shrugged, “He’s not so bad, I just enjoy complaining about him,” Greenwood leaned forward in his chair, “and what is your condition?”
“You free me from my contract with you. I want to be a free man,”
“That, my dear Etho, can be done,” Greenwood smiled.