Keysanya flew on the left edge of the third angel wing. They flew tirelessly over fertile fields and the great unconquered plains. The angels of her wing were known for their great beauty. There was no one amongst them who would not be found striking in appearance if mortal eyes ever glanced upon them.
Each who flew on the third angel wing was close to the vision of physical perfection so often sought by humans. They were so chosen for this wing because of these traits and because their physical essence was now an image projected by their souls. For angels the mirror reflected only one vision. The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual essences were wound into one and it was impossible to hide one's true nature.
When the call came, Keysanya was surprised although she had long expected it. The essence of an angel required that she await such calls and answer them without pause. This call was a painfully twisted cry that came out of a great darkness. Keysanya broke from the wing and they continued over the great unconquered plains without her. They knew without having to be told that Keysanya had received the call. Eventually she would rejoin them but for now there was work to be done.
In Rancho Nuevo, little feels more out of place than an angel who finds himself trapped there. Marcanus would never have been recognized as an angel were it not for his large and ungainly wings. They were too heavy and too broad for him to use them and weighed him down. He dragged his wings through the muddy streets of Rancho Nuevo as the people of the town looked upon him curiously. Sometimes he would be spat upon. At other times spit would be the least of his concerns. Marcanus screamed within his soul for release from this place.
The bartender at the Blackjack Saloon stood outside his establishment, wanting to catch a glimpse of this lost angel who had come to Rancho Nuevo. He would not have believed it had he not seen for himself this rare creature staggering and crawling along the street outside the saloon. Aside from the large and heavy wings, the angel had other problems. His skin was burned and covered with scars and sores. His bones were twisted at odd angles, leaving one leg almost inverted and his hands turned permanently outward with outstretched palms. The bartender was certain this could not be an angel, for he had seen several during the countless centuries he had spent in Rancho Nuevo. This was some creature being hideously tortured for his past sins and crimes. So clear was the creature's damnation that he had been sent to Rancho Nuevo with angel wings to ensure no one in this purgatory of a town would ever accept him as one of their own.
The tormented angel turned to the bartender and screeched in a broken, high-pitched voice that caused the bartender to go deaf after hearing his words.
"Bring me a horse so I may ride from this place!"
The Yorke brothers could not dismiss this opportunity. They had been in Rancho Nuevo a long time and yet no one saw them unless they perceived a chance for their own brand of fun. They loved to torture and murder and in Rancho Nuevo one individual could be murdered over and over without ever leaving. The Yorke brothers had grown bored with the usual suspects in town, but this fallen angel was an opportunity to ply their craft in new ways. They had never inflicted pain and injury upon an angel before. Rarely did any fly low enough for long enough in Rancho Nuevo to make it possible. Seeing this terrible creature dragging itself through town gave the Yorke brothers a chance to show themselves once more.
There was a secret that angels were able to comprehend that eluded most other souls in the streams of eternity. Where you were was merely a state of mind. Even for those who knew the secret, it was impossible to truly make use of the knowledge unless the soul bore wings. Flight through the air of any given place is no more than a concept. Flight through the walls and mazes of eternity was more than a concept for such flight carried with it great danger. The opportunity to lose oneself in the madness of suddenly recalled memories arose when such flight was taken. For Keysanya it was no different. Her flight to Rancho Nuevo brought memories to the forefront of her mind and stirred her soul with rising chaos.
Delving into the chaos of old memory was the only way to answer a call for help. The true test of angel skill was navigating the chaos and answering the call without losing oneself in the streams of eternity. There were those who were known to become lost in memory. Stories told by The Great Ones reminded angels such as Keysanya that one could be caught in the undertow of a particularly strong memory and lose one's wings as the stream in question took control. Keysanya thought about those stories and the warnings that accompanied them as a potent memory stream threatened to leave her blind to the mission ahead.
When the dark and permanently cloudy gray skies of Rancho Nuevo appeared to Keysanya, she breathed deeply. A sense of relief washed over her as she realized the first part of the journey was complete. The soul that cried out to her was here in this dank and fetid place. She would fly to it and join with it. Then she would take it from this place and deliver it elsewhere.
A dead end in the infinite realms of eternity.
Go carefully and remember to maintain faith in yourself
or you will never escape its pull."
The new warning came to Keysanya, spoken in her mind, in a voice she recognized as belonging to The Great Ones. She knew this was no ordinary place, but once the voice issued the warning she recognized the name. This was a powerful place that drew the hopeless and the disenchanted souls of deeply injured mortals who lacked faith in themselves. It was a black hole that fed off such souls and gave the energy from the slow death of such souls to a powerful overseer who needed their energy to survive. Keysanya breathed deeply and landed on the streets of Rancho Nuevo.
A crowd began to form. The barely human creatures of Rancho Nuevo came out from buildings and hiding places to gaze upon Keysanya. They had never seen anything so beautiful and pure. Her physical form gave rise to burning desires within them and the evidence of her nature drove them to want to destroy her. Her skin was so soft, smooth and pristine. Her bare breasts were perfectly shaped, rounded well and immune to the force of gravity. Her long legs were strong but shaped in such a way that one might wonder how any smooth and golden limbs could shine with such perfection. They wound their way up to an area most vital to the ways of Rancho Nuevo. Yet, there were no sexual organs or orifices of any kind to be found. Keysanya was female from the soul and sexless in the way most judge the nature of such things.
The tormented Rancho Nuevo locals dared not approach Keysanya, who had now paused and closed her eyes to better feel the presence of the one she had come for. She walked towards the sensation of his call, past inquisitive and hungry eyes. Many dreamed and hoped that she had come for them, but she walked by without pausing to gaze upon their wretchedness. An angel can be swallowed up by a desire to do too much and to right all wrongs. That was one lesson Keysanya had learned well. She knew her blessing here was meant for one soul and that soul alone. It was the way of things.
Marcanus could hardly feel the attacks upon his physical form by the Yorke brothers. His body carried scars upon scars and burns upon burns. The threshold had been crossed and there was nothing more he could feel. With little to fight for and no energy to defend himself, he let the Yorke brothers continue their attacks. The only thing that caused him pain was the sound of their raucous laughter as they stabbed and beat him. Not getting the results they wanted, they found a can of gasoline and proceeded to pour it over Marcanus' defenseless body.
Greater torment upon the soul of Marcanus came as he felt a new and familiar presence. He looked up from where he helplessly rested on his knees with the laughing Yorke brothers dancing around him. At first he believed the sight of the angel in the road in front of him was a hallucination. The vibrations of memory in his soul convinced him otherwise. The Yorke brothers stopped their attacks to gaze upon the vision of angelic beauty that came towards them. Even their vigilant and violent thoughts were momentarily dispersed when they saw Keysanya. They had never imagined such beauty to be possible.
Marcanus fell forward and caught himself with his badly twisted arms. He hated himself for being so powerless to act. This beautiful creature had come for him but was now in danger. The desire to call upon himself to defend this angel was strong, but no matter how hard Marcanus' soul begged his body to rise up against the Yorke brothers, his body would not respond. His helplessness gave him reason for anger and he went to war with himself for his failings.
The Yorke brothers attempted to attack Keysanya with their usual viciousness, but Keysanya was too strong and all four of the brothers were turned away and left dazed. They wandered off, lost in their own thoughts and enraptured by self-loathing. Keysanya watched them leave the scene and shed one tear for each of them before stepping forward. Soon she was standing over Marcanus, but stopped before she could touch him. The streams of memory were overwhelming and Keysanya became helpless in the presence of the soul of Marcanus.
"I'm sorry," murmured Marcanus. "Forgive me."
"I cannot forgive you. There is a way of things. You must forgive yourself."
"There is too much I cannot forget. Especially now."
"I must help you. There are some strains of memory that are almost impossible to avoid being drawn into."
"I remember there was a beginning to all this."
Keysanya kneeled alongside Marcanus and took his head in her arms. She kept looking into his eyes until he was able to look back. "There is always a beginning."
"If I could go back to the beginning we could change it so it does not end this way."
"That would require great sacrifice."
"There is only one way to save me and I cannot allow you to make that sacrifice. You know as well as I do there is only one way. You have done well and I am proud of you. I always knew you would become..."
"It means nothing without the beginning. If there is no other way to save you I must go with you back to the beginning and start again."
"I cannot bear your pity."
"Nor can I bear to pity you. Let me take you back to the beginning."
Keynan stood on the second floor of the shopping mall alongside his friend Eddie. A man approached them and began to ask about their faith. He talked about a God and a savior and asked if Keynan and Eddie would take them into their hearts. Keynan smiled.
"I have faith in myself, and that is what they would want of me."
"Have you ever considered being born again?"
"I believe I already have been. Thanks for asking."
Below them on the first floor of the mall was a collection of teenagers. They were being taught the nature of business by a school group they belonged to. They had split into groups, each of which manufactured different products they were now selling them in the courtyard of the mall. Looking down, Keynan spotted a table that stood out. Two teenage girls were selling keychains with small teddy bears attached to them. Looking into the eyes of one of the two girls Keynan felt a strong sense of recognition. She looked up at him and smiled. Their eyes held onto each other's for several long moments in time before breaking away.
"Let's go down there," Keynan told Eddie.
Eddie agreed and they excused themselves from the peddler of religion. Once they reached the first floor courtyard, they browsed the merchandise booths slowly. Keynan made his way towards the table that sold the teddy bear keychains. He purposely avoided giving away the fact that it was the only table which interested him. He looked at the familiar girl and smiled.
"Can I buy you one?" Keynan asked, half-jokingly.
"I already have too many," laughed the girl.
"Okay, well then let me have one," Keynan told her. "By the way, my name is Keynan."
"I'm Marcella. It's nice to meet you."
"Same here. I know this may sound corny, but haven't we met before?"
The Rancho Nuevo Series: