Two angels, a brother and sister, guard a family of travelers through Italy. Soon enough, troubling visions of demonic activity and a mysterious murder causes the pair to team up with their fellow watchers, Samuel and Camille and hunt down an artifact known as The Book of Enoch. Hopefully, it will bring light to the demonic plot and aid in saving the world from a new age of demonic rule.
The Travelers Way
Summertime in Italy, just outside the borders of Venice and hugging the part of the countryside known as The Travellers Way (It got this local name from the Gyspy Families that freely roamed the area.) The Abatangelo caravan was making its way through the deciduous forest towards the closest small farmers’ village to restock on supplies. Though they typically didn’t have much money to exchange, the Abatangelo’s would barter with services and trade goods in its stead. In Stregharian Tradition, this was a much cleaner way of living. The caravan consisted of about 30 members, all but two of them sharing the same blood – those two being Jacob and Rose.
The head of the family, an elderly woman with very pronounced crevasses on her face, long disorganized smoky hair and hazy dark green eyes, named Magdeline, had come to adopt the siblings ever since they first awoke. Like every traveling family, it was a crucial part of not just their religion but there very way of life. Without them, many of the services the family provided could not be carried out. With nothing to offer the farmers and agreeable merchants, very little necessities could be bartered for. How else could the fortune tellers work their divinations? How else could they perform the cantrips that entertained many during the short nights? How else could the witchdoctors cure fevers and mend wounds? For Jacob and Rose where not just mere humans in their late teens, they were what those witch held the Stregharian belief called Grigori – or more informally Watchers.
In Stregharian lore the Grigori were a group of angels sent to the earth at the very start of early civilization to guide and watch over mankind as they grew and flourished. Not only this, they also served as the guardians of the entrance ways to the other planes of existence. The Grigori could allow temporary access to these planes, in particular the Fifth, which allowed for the necessary energies to flow into the Third; the material world. However, doing so too freely and interfering too heavily with early civilization was what led to the eventual first generations fall. As the Grigori grew closer and closer to the humans they were sworn to protect, the final straw was struck. Some angels began to become enchanted by the lure of women and gave birth to what is known as Nephilim – the angel/human hybrid. This act was the damnation of the Grigori and for this, the creator flooded the third plane destroying the abominations and all mankind with them. From then on the Grigori were to serve on earth eternally, forever being reborn in human form and denied access back into heaven.
Naturally, the bond between the watchers and their adopted families was of great importance for both parties. Granting a sense of belonging and purpose to the watchers and the enabling the families to live their way of life; the travellers way.
As night drew in, the Abatangelo’s reached their destination and the mini carnival could begin. Farmers would bring their sacks of surplus crop; fisherman, their freshest haul. Children would dance around the small campfires to the travellers light and jolly folk music. The women would trade their handcrafts for beaded jewellery, scented perfumes and seemingly alchemical beautification tonics. Every now and then Jacob would be called forward to allow access to a gifted few to enable their divinations. Magdeline was one such gifted in the ways of magick and, as always, was very popular that night. She had a small tent erect just on the outside of the centre of the festivities. She sat inside on a small wooden chair next to a table supporting various trinkets, candles and incense. She had many visitors, some just to talk, some to play a game of cards or seeking her wisdom. Of course the main attraction was her fortune telling.
“Remember not to stray too far Magdeline.” Said Jacob, as he rubbed his hands together in preparation for the opening.
“Boy I have been doing this for more than 60 years; you do not have to remind me.”
“Just a precaution, Magdeline.” Jacob blew briefly on his hands, and then began to place one on her forehead. She closed her eyes for a few moments, took a deep breath and it was done. “What was that all about?” enquired her visitor, a middle aged farmer and newcomer to her tent. “All normal, think of it as a good luck charm.” She smiles. Jacob takes a few steps back and stands to watch as Magdeline takes hold of her visitors’ hands and looks to the skies. Once again, she shuts her eyes and breathes as if falling into a deep sleep.
“You are expecting a child,”
“Yes, but that’s common…”
“A girl. I can see her a few years from now. A darling little angel.”
“A baby girl?!” he retorts with great happiness.
“I can see you hard at work, meeting with members of the city; you wish to provide her and your family with a better life. You dream of finding something that will change the world… and you do.”
“How? What do I find?” he leans forward with anticipation.
“I see you overlooking a great island within the city,” smoke from the incense begins to form shapes before the farmers eyes as a steady gust starts to pick up rattling a few chimes hanging from various strings and decorations within the tent. Jacob eyes Magdeline closely, “you’re signing something, an agreement of some sort and – oh my” Magdeline looks down at the man her eyes now clear of their usual hazy form. Her hair begins to darken and her face growing ever younger.
“What is it? Tell me what I achieve, I must know!” The chimes begin to rattle heavily as the interior gust increases in speed. The scented smoke seems to increase in potency and the candles burn ever more vibrantly.
“Fire,” she utters “a blaze like never seen before. I hear cries and screams. They’re coming from all around. Ash rains from the sky.” Things begin to topple off the table and the candles shake as she starts to sway to and fro, her eyes getting darker. “People are choking, the flames are everywhere. It cannot be stopped. So much screaming; so much pain. Your daughter, nothing but a blackened char. Nothing but an empty husk.” The man looks horrified trying to withdraw from her now cold grasp.
“That’s it! I’ve heard enough!” he cries, falling on death ears. Candles hurl themselves off the table, chimes fly from there hooks and the smoke begins to choke. Magdeline thrusts violently backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards.
“No one can escape the flames!!” she screeches like a banshee. Jacob lunges his hand forward as the tent goes up in a blaze.
“Magdeline! That’s enough!” Grabbing her shoulder, breaking the opening and pulling her back. She collapses into his arms, her hair returning to its rough weary state, her skin becoming wrinkled once more and her eyes becoming once again cloudy. Jacob and the farmer hurry outside, greeted by the many panicked residents and other Abatangelo members all rushing to douse the fire. Jacob lays Magdeline down on the grass, as she still scrambles to catch her breath, coughing harshly as if she had been amongst the great fire she had described. Many ran over to see her, curious as to what had happened.
“Get back she needs room for air!” he shouts.
“Jacob what happened?!” Rose came rushing over to her brothers’ side, kneeling down beside Magdeline, “Is she going to be alright?”
“I…I think so. What she saw took its toll.”
“What did she see?”
“A great blaze!” the farmer stepped forward with a tremendous look of confusion, fear and anger upon his face. Turning to face the crowd, “A great darkness lies ahead! She claims the great city will burn! Ashes will rain from the skies,” he looks towards his wife,” and our daughter will be one of countless victims.” The crowd mutters wildly with fright and mass hysteria. Many fall to their feet in disbelief or faint with shock and discomfort.
“Is this true?” Rose turns to Jacob. He nods with reluctance. Looking back down at Magdeline, she stands and addresses the withering rabble. “Fear not, what my lady sees does not always come to pass. The future is never set in stone. Take peace now, calm yourselves. Enjoy what remains of the night, for tomorrow we shall leave and you will not have to think of this again.”
“She needs to rest. We’ll have to find out more about this tomorrow.” Jacob turned to Rose, “You take her to bed, I’ll handle the clean-up and finish up for the night.”
The next morning, the Abatangelo’s started preparing to leave early. They ordinarily don’t like to overstay their welcome, but with the events of the previous night, this feeling was more so for everyone. Luckily, Jacob managed to salvage most of the pieces from within the tent and also to his relief no damage was made to any other part of the caravan or the village. Rose was still asleep at Madeline’s bedside when Jacob crept in.
Rose was always the more worrisome of the siblings. Despite appearing quite strong on the outside, Rose was a very fragile and soft spoken girl. Jacob had always felt the need to protect his little sister and would happily put his life on the line to do so. The bond they shared ran deep, right into their very cores. As they imagined it did with every Guardian-Seer pairing. As a Seer, Rose had always felt less useful to the family than her older brother. She didn’t have the ability to open conduits between planes nor the physical strength to fight off intruders and bandits when they travelled around Travellers Way. Jacob could sense this feeling within her, but knew little of what he could say to console her. As you could imagine, being both in their humanly late teens and as watchers, finding purpose and managing emotions was a very difficult thing for them to handle, but for Rose, it was always much much harder. Sometimes this was even made clearer when she slept. She suffered from frequent nightmarish vivid dreams, some that would make her shake during the night. Overtime, she’s learned to control this to some degree, but her human-side had always struggled. Her sensitivity, sense of empathy and compassion for those she loved and cared for often caused so much emotional feedback that being able to cope was a battle in itself. When things reached the brink, her humanity would break and for her she felt as if her world ended. When these moments happened, she always looked to her older brother; Jacob was her rock, her anchor – the only one that really made her feel safe within herself. Jacob had his fair share of burdens too, but for him they all paled in comparison to the welfare of his sister. He knew that, in reality, all they really had was eachother.
“Rose,” he whispered loudly whilst nudging her slightly “we’re getting ready to go.” Roses eyes opened slowly, for once it seemed like she had had a peaceful sleep. She tidily brushed back her long blonde hair and rubbed the sleep from her rich hazel eyes. “How is she?” Jacob asked.
“She didn’t stir all night” Rose answered “and her breathing is pretty normal once more. I think she’ll be alright. How are the locals?”
“Some are still shocked, even less abit irked but well none-the-less. Come on, you should get some breakfast. We’ve got a long day ahead of us on the road again.”
“Where are heading?” she enquired getting to her feet and lightly patting down her peasants royal blue gown and rolling back the attached white chemise.
“I think the plan was to head for the Meet, if Magdeline is as well as you say.”
“The Meet! Who else is attending?” Rose continued, brushing her hair finely and further making herself ready for the day ahead.
“I’m not sure. Now hurry, go eat, I’ll join you in a moment.” Rose kissed Magdeline on the forehead and headed out for the centre camp. Jacob pulled over the small wooden stall and sat beside Magdeline at the bedside, gently holding her hand.
Not long after, her cloudy eyes shifted and she began to stir. “I take it you have questions?”
“I do. What you saw last night, whilst horrific as it was, wouldn’t of normally caused this much feedback. Whilst you wandered, you saw something else didn’t you – something you withheld to mention within the tent?” Magdeline took a moment to sit up and compose herself.
“Amongst the flames, the blackened bodies and beneath the wails of crying souls I also heard another; very faintly, but definitely present. Chilling maniacal laughter, enough to freeze over the warmest of tropical seas and a sense of darkness, blacker than shadows cast from the most solid of things.”
“What does it mean and why hadn’t you seen this before with the others?”
“I would hazard a guess that would be down to the man’s loss of his daughter, his direct relation to the time at hand. As for the more sinister issue, I cannot tell at this time.” Magdeline reached for a small metallic half-moon talisman engraved with small runes, the necklace made with thick black string littered with small feathers and beaded charms and placed it round her neck.
“Maybe someone at the Meet has also seen something that can shed more light on this.” Jacob suggested, helping her to her feet.
“That is what I hope to find out also, my boy. Go to your sister, I will be with you all shortly.”
Within the next few hours the Abatangelo’s had all had their breakfasts in the centre camp and were now on their way back into the woods. The Meet they were planning to attend was at a grove deep within the wooded Travellers way, just short of a day’s travel from their current position. The Meets were, as you’d expect, a gathering of different travelling families. They provided an excellent opportunity for further trading, socializing, sharing of talents and opportunities to learn various things from one another. Rose always loved going to the Meets. It was one of the only times she felt most at home as when there are other families around more often than not they’ll have their Watchers with them too. She felt, and to some degree so did Jacob, that the Watchers were like a secondary family.
Jacob and Rose resided within Madeline’s horse driven caravan when the family was relocating. With each wooden wagon being able to house 4 people comfortably, Magdeline had more than enough room to accommodate them. For most of the journey, the siblings would play cards or hang from the shutter-opened windows and watch the scenery go by. Jacob took some of this time in meditation, astral projecting himself to the Fifth to further his ability and train in his Guardianship. Rose however, was content with Madeline’s stories and simply enjoying the wonders of nature.
As the warm light breeze of the morning turned to the soothing heat of the afternoon sun, the rattling of the herd of wagons became silenced as they began to approach the grassier greener carpets of the grove. Many families had already arrived, their convoys set up in a wedge in the vast circular clearing, with the head of each bloodline nearest the centre aside an unnaturally large singular weeping beech tree. Smaller trees along with petit ponds and monoliths of stone were scattered throughout the grove. To a newcomer, it would become crystal clear to see why such a place of beauty would be given such significance.
“Magdeline!” cheered a man, with open arms, dressed in a long leather robe draped with rags, as he left one of the central caravans. “It’s been far too long. How are the Abatangelo’s fairing?”
“Very well, Giovanni, very well” Magdeline replied completing the embrace. Rose steps out from behind her “Quite a turnout” she observes.
“Yes and a few more families have sent word of later attendance also.” replied Giovanni scanning the area.
“This serves us well. I wish to hold a meeting of the elders.” Magdeline asserts.
“Curious, that is what many have called for today. There appears to be many irksome occurrences within the families as of late. I shall begin preparations for as soon as the others arrive.” With that, he bowed, withdrawing to his families’ convoy.
“Rose, I want Jacob present at the meeting. Please inform him wouldn’t you before you head off to see the others”
* * *
That night, the elders of each family met around a blazing bonfire near the central tree. The air felt heavy, thick and cold – despite the warmth of the burning glow.
“Now,” Giovanni spoke, “it appears there is much to discuss. Lady Magdeline, would you care to go first?”
“Friends, as you all know, we make our living by exchange of services and goods. One of those services being fortune telling. During a routine fortune telling, I foresaw a tragedy fall upon Venice – A tragedy filled with burning thick flames, sickly black suffocating smoke and the worst of all, an unearthly shadow over it all, cackling in the chaos. Now I have my theories, but I turn to you all for any further insight.” An elder turned to her and spoke,
“A dark shadow? I have also seen this but not at this scene you’ve described. During an Astral Meditation, provided to me by our Watcher, I followed such a thing towards a whisper. I withdrew before I ventured too far from my body, but still, it was unnerving.”
“Aye!” said another “Many of my kin have spoken of silhouettes in their dreams. Just watching.”
Giovanni stepped forward, “Cackling shadows, sinister whispers, watching silhouettes? Are these the grave matters you bring to the Meet? All of you know too well the circumstances in which we are even able to interact with the planes. Such things as these are expected when moving between them.”
“Not like this,” Magdeline proclaimed “not with this intensity. If what I saw is to come to pass, then there must be significance to these demons.”
“Demons?! Demons have been a nonissue since the fall of the first watchers. Our Guardians have insured that, more so now than ever. We live in a time of relative peace in both this plane and the others. I speak to all of you when I say; think no more of this until further evidence is moved forward. Until that time, I suggest we act with caution until we know more. Now if that is all…”
Before Giovanni could finish, a late arrival to the Meet, out of breath as they hastened towards the gathering bellowed “It’s Triss!” All turned their gaze to the newcomer and Jacob rose from his position. The arrival took centre, puffing and panting, leaning on one of the standing stones. “Triss… our Watcher… she’s dead!”