Holy War

Sahaqiel was born in the year 88, an only child, and normally even among the angels, that meant a little bit of spoiling. Not so in Saha's case; she was taught responsibility from the moment she could walk. This became a must, as her parents were both busy with their respective duties. Her mother was Pesagniyah, a messenger in the Scroll Network, and her father was Aiel, Angel of Rising Air and Right Hand of the Prophet once Metatron was born. They were absentminded parents but kind, pushing little Saha to learn things on her own as soon as possible. She transcended for the first time at two, and preferred to remain transcended most of her young awake life. She had no problem adapting to dorm life like most little angels, and went 'home' to stay with her parents on weekends.

Aiel was the younger brother of Iahmel and a guard of the Keep's northern gate, a tall young angel of imposing nature with dusky skin and black eyes like his father. He was an intense, committed career military man, but lost most of that facade whenever he was around Pesagniyah. She had a way of keeping him 'real'. He met her on one of her first missions when his unit was assigned to guard a batch of messengers in training. Their courtship was long, and they built a strong friendship before deciding to marry. It was he who convinced Pesagniyah that their little daughter should go to the dorms, in case the Keep was ever breached. That way, the family would not run the risk of being wiped out in one blow. The never consciously decided not to have any other children; they were simply too busy.

Pesagniyah was a keeper of keys in her off duty life and a messenger between the Watchtower and the outlying settlements and forts while on active duty. She held keys for her uncle Michael when he was away - keys he would not want the enemy to get hold of. She saw little of her family even once Sahaqiel was born; she only took Saha with her on the shortest or most mundane trips, as leaving the Keep became more dangerous and children were being stolen. Saha loved these short trips and looked forward to playing with the children she encountered.

Pesagniyah was a curvy redhead with sparkling blue eyes and a laugh that was often heard ringing through most of the Keep's hallways. She grew up in one of the smaller outlying forts and went back as often as she could, to help with recovery efforts. She did not want her daughter to be a career soldier, although she suspected it would happen; she knew she carried the angel of the sky while she was pregnant, and she had doubted her daughter's life would be mundane.

So there was time to learn, and explore, and play practical jokes. Every morning meant a new little angel in the dormitories, sometimes brooding, sometimes too happy to handle, sometimes secretive. She would vanish for hours or up to a day at a time, unseen by any other angel, occasionally worrying her parents, friends, and dorm matrons into raising an alarm. She wasn't so much hiding as just losing track of time. She liked to keep her thoughts to herself, and the best way to do that was find a high place to think and look around.

From her earliest days, she often fell from things she'd climb up on - chairs, bookcases, beds, anything to get as high up as she could. This went on until she gained her full height and lost a bit of her gawkiness. She was never seriously hurt, but she was a frequent visitor to the hospital wing, and was generally sporting some sort of scratch or bruise. Anyone not knowing better thought she was constantly in fights, something she never engaged in until the war started much later in her life. She spent a good deal of time in any high place she could find. She tried several times to sneak up into the Watchtower itself, but the tower guard was too vigilant for her.

She paid more attention to the comings and goings of what she referred to as the 'upper' Angels, i.e. anything to do with the weather, sun or moon. She didn't mean anything snobbish by it, she just grouped angelics in her head by relation to each other, and she decided they were her 'group'. She would occasionally follow them around without actually engaging them or accepting offers to be included. She wanted to observe.

Then she met Venni. Vennibeth was a tall, chestnut haired girl that Sahaqiel met in her first detention assignment, at age 7. Saha was there for manifesting only one wing and telling the other children she was half human and a freak of nature. Venni was there for practicing her invisibility and listening in on Council doings. She was only caught when she triggered the suspicion of one of the Council guards by rustling the curtains. The girls were fast friends from then on, and managed to cause as much trouble as possible without ever truly causing destruction or endangering anyone. They eavesdropped, they annoyed authority figures, and they switched the sugar for the salt. They also got into the catacombs as often as they could, and would get lost down there or go searching for 'treasure' with other young angels. Venni was full of mischief, wasn't shy, and had no problem getting involved in anything and everything. She later worked in a tailor's shop and liked to spend her free time designing enchanted clothing for the winged. She became a spy like her father before her, and did quite a bit of undercover work for the Council while on active duty. She married young, to a teacher, and had two daughters. She and Sahaqiel remained friends until Sahaqiel's death.

At age 11, Sahaqiel and Vennibeth rearranged part of the Great Library as a prank, scattering a good portion of the restricted section into the wee angel section, and they were both summarily pressed into forced!service there for several months as a result. She was slated to be mentored to either the Office of Astronomy or to the air guard due to her sphere. But her rambunctiousness made them change their mind. Very soon after, she was mentored to Narcoriel, head of the Night Watch, and was chosen for the Tower Guard.

Her friends, always angels of nearly the same age or older (read: mainly Ymlael and Tarquam and Vennibeth), weren't in high numbers; everyone knew her but few knew her. Her smallish group of friends were often at the root of a number of troublesome occurances - things moved around, false alarms, wings dipped in various substances while the angel attached to them wasn't looking. She and Venibbeth were often together, trying to see if they could get into places they shouldn't. It wasn't mischief for its own sake; it was to be included, to hear things before others did. Saha and Venibbeth were once able to sneak into Council proceedings while they discussed the growing threat of Darkness.

The tone of the meeting, which included the War Council, had a huge impact on Saha; she grew more serious after that, paying attention to her powers and learning battle tactics from her mentor and the rest of the Tower Guard. Somehow the possibility of losing home and friends hadn't seemed likely prior to then; but after hearing the gist of the meeting she'd eavesdropped on, she began to think otherwise.

She had numerous young crushes that she struggled to hide; that was Getting Involved, and it meant putting one above others. She wasn't shy, but she simply wasn't lonely, either, and she watched friends grow and change through relationships, and have children of their own, and felt no real echoing need. She preferred to watch things and keep track of them without disrupting the flow with her own input. She never paired off with anyone in particular or had children of her own. The closest she ever came was with Rahtiel, a studious and dreamy-eyed young man who eventually became head of the Office of Astronomy. They were a pair on and off throughout her life.

Her duty was her love; her later troops were her children. She lacked for nothing, in her mind. Her penchant for vigilance continued all of her life, and it bred occasional resentment, as some saw it as an encroachment on their activities. She wasn't spying or waiting for anyone to do anything inappropriate; but the weight of her regard was too heavy for some, and they avoided her. She made it plain that it wasn't her place to make certain everyone was where they should be and doing what they should be.

When Narcoriel was assassinated in 121, she was named Captain of the Tower Guard, no one was surprised; she had been groomed for it. Even if she had not, she would have been the likely choice due to her dedication.

When the war began, Sahaqiel was responsible for guarding the skies around the Keep, and preferred to remain at her post more often than not. She was never quite anti-social, but she was difficult to engage. She was In Charge. She was one of the elder generation by then, so she behaved as if all of time lay behind her, and her mind always seemed to be elsewhere. She kept her eyes out for anything approaching from the air, and could be found in the skies themselves or standing on the tallest of the battlements of the Keep, the wind whipping her wings and hair.

Her kindness and sense of humor became anecdotal, as they rarely saw the light as time went on. A word of approval or grin of delight had more impact than from angels who made a practice of such things. She ran a tight ship and tended to be harsh with those who didn't show the same dedication that she did. Mistakes were handled with surprising gentleness so long as a lesson was learned and it wasn't repeated. She made it plain that, while a shift may be over, she expected constant vigilance.

The why of war, the good and bad of it, meant little to her on the surface; she understood that when you took away the peripheral consequences, it simply *was*. It was a job, and she would fulfill her duty until the conflict was resolved, or until she perished. She was affected by it, but not to the point that she let things distract her from the ultimate goal. She had troops to be concerned with, which left little room for the emotional and personal aspects. She lost everyone and everything she cared about during the worst of it, but pressed on regardless. Those who didn't know her found her cold and calculating, never realizing it was the mask of duty and conviction. She was never hardened or unaffected; she just refused to allow distractions. Every injury or heartbreaking loss became another rung up on the determination ladder.

But...

Sometimes...

When no one was looking...

She ran downstairs and made brownies for her troops.

And she expected her defense to be the final defense whenever an attack occurred.

Aiel and Pesagniyah remained married but grew apart as the years passed, spending so little time together. Aiel was killed in a rout at the north gate during Sahaqiel's first year as Captain of the Tower Guard. She spent more time with her mother after that, accompanying her on messenger runs as often as she could. Pesagniyah outlived her daughter, but unhappily.

Sahaqiel died late in the war, during the sacking of the Keep. As a last resort, she made a spectacular mess, using the last of her strength to Ascend to malakim for an instant and destroy as many of the enemy as she could. She conjured a massive ring of purple-blue light and heat that ripped sideways through the remainder of the towers. It took a wave of the opposing host with it, shattering the towers to dust and hurling bodies to the ground below. There was almost no one alive who didn't see that final burst; with the ring still fading in flight, Saha plummeted, still glowing with residual energy, slamming face-up into the ground and burning her shape into the earth below. She never saw the result of her efforts; she meant to make one last sacrificial gesture, but died without knowing if she had made a difference.

In the lives she's lived since, Sahaqiel has gone on trying to make that one last gesture.