Boundless Page 86

“Ah, now,” says a voice. “Don’t cry.”

There’s an angel sitting on the edge of my bed. I can feel that he loves me. He’s thankful that I’m all right. Home. I can feel his relief that I’m safe.

I turn over to look at him. “Dad?”

It isn’t Dad. It’s a man with clean-cut auburn hair, eyes the color of the sky after the sun’s gone down, when the light has almost left it. He smiles.

“Michael couldn’t come this time, I’m afraid, but he sends his love,” he says. “I am Uriel.”

Uriel. I’ve seen him before. Somewhere in my brain I’m storing an image of him standing next to Dad, looking all fierce and regal, but I don’t know where that comes from. I sit up and am instantly flooded with weakness, a hollowness in my stomach, like I haven’t slept in days. Uriel nods sympathetically as I sink back onto the pillows.

“You’ve had quite the adventure, haven’t you?” he says. “You did well. You did what you were meant to do. And perhaps more than you were meant to do.”

But not well enough, I think, because Tucker’s dead. I’ll never see him again.

Uriel shakes his head. “The boy is fine. He’s more than fine, as a matter of fact. That’s why I’ve come to talk to you.”

It’s like my whole body goes limp with relief. “He’s alive?”

“He’s alive.”

“So I’m in trouble?” I ask. “Was I not supposed to save him?”

Uriel gives a little laugh. “You’re not in trouble. But what you did for him, the way you poured yourself into him, it saved him, yes, but it will also have changed him. You need to understand.”

“It changed him?” I repeat, dread uncurling in my gut. “How?”

He sighs. “In the old days we called a person with so much glory, so much of the power of the divine inside them, a prophet.”

“What does that mean, a prophet?”

“He will be slightly more than human. The prophets of the past have sometimes been able to heal the sick, or conjure fire or storms, or see visions of the future. It affects the little things: their sensitivity to the part of the world humans don’t usually see, their awareness of good and evil, their strength in both body and spirit. Sometimes it also affects their longevity.”

I take a minute to digest this information. And wonder what the word longevity actually means in this case.

Uriel’s expression is almost mischievous. “You should keep an eye on him. Make sure he doesn’t get into trouble.”

I stare at him. Try to swallow. “What about Asael? Is he going to come after us?”

“You’ve dealt with Asael quite efficiently,” he says, a touch of pride in his voice.

“Did I … kill him?”

“No,” he answers. “Asael’s returned to heaven. His wings are white once more.”

“I don’t understand.”

“A glory sword is not just a weapon. It is the power of God, and you thrust it right into the center of Asael’s being. You filled him with light, vanquished him with truth.”

Like maybe I am that Buffy-type chick.

“All I did was use a sword one time,” I say, embarrassed at the thought.

“Oh, is that all?” he asks lightly, like he’s teasing me, but I can’t be sure.

“What about the other Watchers? Will they come?”

“When Asael fell, leadership of the Watchers reverted back to Samjeeza. And for some mysterious reason, I don’t believe he’s going to attack you.”

That worked out well, I think. It all seems too good to be true, if I’m being honest. I’m supposed to keep my eye on Tucker. I’m safe from the Black Wings. I’m not, for once, in trouble. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop any time now.

“You’re not safe from the Black Wings,” Uriel says a bit sadly. “The Watchers are only a small faction of the fallen, who will still be seeking out the Nephilim and pursuing their agenda all over the world.”

“And what is their agenda, exactly?”

“To win the war, my dear. We will need to be vigilant in our work against them, all of us, from the mightiest of the angels to the smallest of the angel-bloods. There is much work to be done. Many battles.”

“Is that what my purpose is? To fight?” I ask. I’m the daughter of the Smiter, after all.

Uriel sits back. “Is that what you think it is?”

That’s my mom’s best trick: answer a question with a question. Which, frankly, I’m getting sick of. I think about the sizzling noise the glory sword made when I pushed it into Asael’s chest, his scream of anguish, his gray face. Revulsion ripples through me. “No. I don’t think I’m a fighter. But what am I, then? What is my purpose?” I lift my eyes to Uriel’s, and he gives me a sympathetic, close-lipped smile. I sigh. “Oh, that’s right. You’re not going to tell me.”

“I can’t tell you,” he says, which startles me. “You are the only one who can decide what your purpose is, Clara.”

I decide? Now he says I decide? Hello, news flash. “But the visions—”

“The visions show you forks in the path along becoming who you are meant to be.”

I shake my head. “Wait. So which turn in the road am I supposed to go down? I mean, which is it: I decide or it’s meant to be?”

“Both,” he says.

Okay, so that’s an infuriating answer.

“What is your purpose, Clara?” Uriel asks me gently.

Christian, I think immediately. In every vision, there’s Christian. He’s present, anyway, at every fork in my path. But does that mean he is my purpose? Can a person be a purpose?

My purpose is you, my mother told me once. But what did she mean by that? Was she being literal? Or was she, too, talking about some kind of decision?

Every answer leads me to five more questions. It’s not fair.

“I don’t know,” I admit. “I want to be good. I want to do good things. I want to help.”

He nods. “Then you must decide what will allow you to do that.”

“Will there be more visions?” Somehow, even before he answers, I think the answer is yes.

“Do you think there will be more forks in your path?” Uriel asks, another question for a question. He has familiar eyes, knowing, blue with tiny lights in them.

I know those eyes.

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