- Sci-fi comic about ancient things people find in melting icebergs
Once upon a time an unusual angel was born in one of the Sky Towns. He was all black - hair, feathers, skin - but had bright grey eyes.
Unlike other babies, he didn’t cry and looked with thirsty curiosity at things and faces around him instead.
Many grown up angels came to see the little boy and he happily smiled at everyone who approached his crib no matter how surprised and scared they were. The strange baby boy had given his whole home town quite a fright without knowing that.
He wasn’t ugly, no. He had chubby cheeks, funny curls in his hair, and cute little wings. It was all about the black colour which had been seen as an ominous sign by many.
Poor mother named her little son Lucius - which means “light” - as if it could’ve mended something. Of course, it couldn’t.
When Lucius turned one week old, a rare event had happened in his little town: one of the high ranked archangels came to see the unusual baby with his own eyes.
He spent a long time by the crib bending his thick white brows, thinking, and didn’t smile back at Lucius even once. Lucius’s mother and father awaited the high guest’s decision with fear and awe as he towered over them like a mountain.
But harsh and austere as he was, Lucius’s innocent smile had touched his heart. The archangel shrugged, his powerful wings folded on his back, and said: “It’s not a demon. That’s all I can say right now. Let him grow up and show his true self. I’m postponing my decision indefinitely”. With these words he left the town and returned to the Seventh sky.
Lucius grew quickly and was not much different from other little angels. Maybe a bit more quarrelsome, though not in an evil way, and always very curious.
“What are these creatures down there, on earth?” He asked once pointing over the edge of the cloud.
“Humans.” His mother replied.
“They look like us. Just without wings.” Lucius wondered. “May I play with them?”
“No, son. Don’t even think about it,” his father said. He rarely forbade anything, but on this he was adamant. And Lucius obeyed.
Years passed. Lucius had grown old enough for school. That’s when he faced his first real hardship in life.
There was no school in his little town and if he wanted to learn angel sciences he had to go to a different cloud which was a whole sky higher, two days journey from his home.
He could spend vacations at home, of course, but they were only three months a year and seemed so miserably short! Lucius’s parents did their best to encourage their son, of course, but he understood that from now on his life will never be the same.
And he was right.
The big city (at least it seemed big to Lucius) wasn’t nice to the little black angel. Kids at school hated the unusual boy and superstitious teachers shunned him. Even Lucius’s former friends who came with him from his hometown had turned against him eventually because otherwise they would have become hated too, and not many kids are brave enough to risk it. They were not evil, just weak, but Lucius felt betrayed all the same.
When his peers were playing and having fun Lucius sat alone at the edge of the cloud, his little feet dangling in the air, and felt very sad. Over and over again he glanced at the forbidden land below having no trouble to discern little human figures with his sharp eyes.
Their children seemed such happy creatures at first, just like the angel school kids, but soon Lucius had learned there were outcasts among humans too. One day he saw a sad wingless girl who sat aside from her happy peers, lonely and forgotten, just like Lucius himself.
That day he disobeyed his father, because loneliness became unbearable. He descended to the earth.
“Hi!” He greeted the girl shyly, doing his best to hide his wings behind his back, afraid of scaring her away. But then the girl raised her eyes, blue, yet veiled with milky white, and Lucius had realized that his fears were groundless: she was blind.
“Hi!” Replied the girl happily. “What’s your name?”
“And I’m Lila”.
From that day on, they were friends.
Lucius had been very cautious and very lucky in keeping this friendship secret from humans and angels both. He studied well and never skipped school so nobody would search for him when he disappeared. That way he was free to spend all his spare time with Lila.
The blind girl was overjoyed to finally have a friend and could hardly imagine him to be an angel, a black one at that.
During Lucius’s vacations when he left for home both he and Lila yearned after one another badly. These three months Lucius used to look with longing toward once seemed so miserably long now!
Growing up, children didn’t notice the moment when their beautiful friendship had turned into love.
Years passed quickly. Lucius, shy and ungainly as a child, grew up into a handsome young man with long curly hair as smooth and shiny as silk and beautiful strong wings as black as raven’s. His colour hasn’t changed: he was still coal-black. His eyes haven’t changed also being as bright and kind as they were the day he was born.
Lila grew up too. Tall, slender, and beautiful she was now, her hair as bright as gold, her lips as red and tender as rose petals. But her eyes were still blind, sky blue covered with misty veil. Sometimes a sad thought came to Lucius’s mind that their friendship and love would not be possible if Lila was able to see.
The girl loved Lucius with all her heart and called him “my angel” often. It frightened him at first, but then he realized if was just a beautiful phrase.
“My kind, beloved Lila…” He whispered to himself on his way back from his long, long vacation. It took a while for Lucius, dreaming of his beloved among the clouds, to see the horrible things happening down there, on earth…
The young angel has never seen humans at war before. Naive, he thought only wild demons and mighty archangels fight and kill each other and couldn’t even imagine humans doing the same thing to their own kind.
But a war it was, brutal and bloody, raging under the sky. Human city was burning and while some people continued fighting others fled leaving everything behind.
In the very heart of this nightmare Lucius saw his Lila. Blind, she tried to run, desperately chasing screams and sounds of steps of others, and no one stopped to help her. The fire singed her shabby dress, her hands and face were black with soot.
Lucius darted down. He opened his wings right above the ground, with a loud flap, landing. It hurt, but he didn’t care. A moment later he embraced Lila. Scared as she was, he recognized him at once. His heart pounding with fear, his wings burning with pain, he took off and flew away with Lila in his hands.
He put everything he had in this flight trying to make as many miles between them and the burning city as he could, but flying with double burden took its toll, and soon.
Weak and gasping for air, he landed in a green field and fell prone in tall grass at the feet of his beloved. Lila kneeled beside Lucius and put her gentle little hands on his prostrate wings. He was too weak to hide them now.
“My angel,” she said quietly, no surprise in her voice.
“You knew,” sighed Lucius.
“Of course,” Lila smiled. “I am blind but my hearing is keen. Very. Have you ever thought how I always knew you were coming? By the soft flapping of your wings”.
It took a long time for Lucius to recover. He was just a boy by angels’ standards, far from coming of age, and not as strong as a full grown angel yet. The effort he put in his flight with Lila had broken him. His overstrained wings hurt mercilessly, his heart ached with every beat.
During the first two days Lucius couldn’t take anything but water Lila brought him from nearby spring in her cupped hands. Then she fed him wild apples she picked from the ugly little apple tree at the edge of the forest.
Returning to the Sky was out of question. Lucius would never abandon Lila. He made his decision: if he cannot get her up there he’s going to stay with her here, on earth. His life, he realized with the same clarity as he did years ago, will never be the same from now on.
And he was right.
Not a single soul was there, on the barren land trampled by armies, burned by war, to see the miracle: an archangel descending from the sky. The one who visited the little town where Lucius was born many years ago. The one who had postponed his decision indefinitely.
The archangel was huge and seemed even more powerful now. His radiance was so painful to look at that Lucius couldn’t help covering his eyes with his hand.
“Return to the Sky, young man,” the archangel said, his voice booming from above, his face both fierce and beautiful.
“No,” Lucius, so small and fragile, compared to him, dared to talk back. “I love her and I’m not leaving her here!”
“You have nothing to do with humans,” said the archangel. “Go back to your studies before you make things worse”.
“Worse?” Lucius repeated, not following.
“Humans in this city,” archangel pointed toward the North-East with his white wing, “are talking of nothing but a black demon that had carried the poor girl away! You’ve scared them more than the war did. You will go back to the Sky now, young man, and I will return the girl to her family.”
“No!!!” Screamed the black angel, tears streaming down his cheeks. “I won’t let you!!! They left her to die in the fire! She cried and cried for help, and nobody came!.. No... “ he fell on his knees, helplessly, with his wings drooped.
Archangel remained silent watching Lucius and Lila from above.
“Forgive me for interferi,” the girl said shyly, rising her blind eyes at the archangel. “But why would people think Lucius to be a demon? He’s an angel! Kind and pure. I know.”
A pained and pitiful expression had crossed the archangel’s face. For a moment he hesitated, but then he lowered to one knee before the girl and had carefully passed his shining hand over her face erasing the misty veil of blindness from her eyes.
With a cry of pain Lila covered her face with both her hands: the light she saw was so mercilessly bright! Scared for her, Lucius rushed to Lila at once. He embraced the girl and raised his wings above her head to protect her eyes from the blinding light.
The pain ceased as Lila’s eyes grew accustomed to the world she’s never seen before. Finally, the girl drew away from Lucius to look at him for the first time. Her beautiful face turned sad…
Lucius noticed this, and his heart sank. Lila sees him, as black as a demon… And everything is changing forever once again.
Despair grew in his bright gray eyes. He’d rather die here and now than see Lila leaving him.
Lila turned her back to Lucius, slowly, and cast a cautious glance at the archangel, wary of his merciless radiance that she knew could hurt her eyes.
“I have no family,” she said with a sad smile. “I’m an orphan. My uncle took me out of pity, but he never was happy about this. I have nowhere to go back to. Nobody is waiting for me. And Lucius… he is the only person I love in the whole world. You tried to scare me by restoring my sight, by letting me see him for what he is, but it didn’t work. All I see is that my beloved is beautiful!.. If you truly wish me well, please, let me stay with him”.
“So,” the archangel nodded, “you haven’t changed you mind, have you, Lucius?”
“No!” Replied Lucius fervently, with his hand on his heart.
“You are mortal on earth,” the archangel reminded him. “There is a good reason why this realm is forbidden to your people: anyone who stays here for too long, grows old and hideous, and then dies. What humans call “old age” is in fact a disease that kills one’s body slowly…”
“Body, but not the soul!” retorted Lucius.
Archangel met his reply with a puzzled silence and raised brows.
“You were just a week old,” he said, “when I saw you and understood that you are not an ordinary child. It’s not about your colour, it’s about the choices you make. You’ve chosen a strange path and a hard life, but I admire your courage. Stay here, Lucius, and be well.”
With these words the archangel had departed, ascending to the Sky with a few flaps of his powerful wings.
Lucius and Lila lived a long hand happy life together, despite all the hardships they had to undergo.
Beautiful black wings Lucius himself and all his children had, brought them a lot of trouble because humans tend to hate and fear what they do not understand.
But the divine light, the one Lucius had brought to this world the day he was born, kept his family safe. And while all winged people lived the life of hardships and trials, they always did find happiness in the end.
(July 22, 2006)