Five: Ad astra per aspera

Luminarist + November 2015 – June 2017: Chapter Five — Ad astra per aspera

Celestial Institute, a boarding school for adults, is located on the fabled world of Terra. Only those chosen by the Shining One may enter. People of all walks of life come here to hone their gifts and effect positive change. The newest recruit is Meissa, a young woman anticipating the future.

She becomes fast friends with Nadir, a man with little self-confidence whose guardian is the powerful Zenith. Upon the school throne stands Alhena, the Shining One herself. Backing them is the Acolyte of Archangels. Becoming entangled in Celestial Institute’s inner workings, Meissa knows that everyone has purpose, and her light shines the brightest of them all.

Why?

Inside she was fuming, but Alhena always appeared as calm and collected as best as she could. She stalked the aisles of old and new collections of compiled scholarship when something shiny caught her eye. There was a sparkle in the air of the biography section, and she felt compelled to discover for herself why it was so. Single-mindedly she chased after the sparkles, and they settled upon a very young looking book. She was expecting something terribly ancient if the spiritual world was to summon her, something full of secret knowledge waiting for anyone to pick it up and peruse its hidden contents. This was a new book. It appeared to be the newest one there. She grasped it.

“The Selected Autobiographies of the Founding Angel of Celestial Institute,” she read the title aloud, and nearly dropped the book. “How is this possible? It’s a new book. It can’t be!” She hurriedly stuffed it back into place; her breathing had gone heavy and laboured. She nearly sunk to the floor, staring up at it on the highest shelf of books. The founding angel of Celestial Institute was known to her, too well known. “Mirai,” she gasped as her wings flared beyond her careful control. “Daddy.”

This had to be collected from an archive. Mirai disappeared many years ago, shortly after her birth as the Acolyte had informed her. He simply dropped her off on the face of Terra without the parting gift of a promise of his return for her, entrusting her to the care of the Acolyte of Archangels. She narrowed cold blue at the book. Mirai wasn’t her true father; only the Acolyte should be the one to claim that title. She cursed her heart for its weaknesses; she cursed it for the emotional capacities that made her effective as a top Raphael student. It came at a price, however, a cost she dared not to name.

“Shining One?” a voice floated over to her. She picked herself up.

“I’m all right,” she smiled serenely, “truly.”

“Okay.” She was left alone again … alone again. Dusting herself off despite the lack of airborne skin based particles; she resolved to pay her nightly visit to the Fire Tower. There was a certain someone who needed her immediate attention.

The night was still young as she slipped into the shadows, the inky blue sky above writing its story of hope for the Terran pupils of Celestial Institute. She went southeast towards the Fire Tower, no guard to prevent her entrance. As the Shining One, she had access to every secret place except for the Acolyte’s most private chambers. That didn’t bother her; her father figure despite his youthful appearance deserved a hiding place for his secrets. Still, she wished he would explain to her about Mirai’s choices that altered the fate of not only herself, but of everyone who came to Celestial Institute. How could one angel, who was not the angel of death himself, have such influence? For the millionth time, she wanted to know more about her parentage. Who was her mother? Did she love the one who sired her daughter, or was the human female a victim of some dark purpose? Where was her mother now? On that matter, Mirai simply vanished, and there was no record of anyone he had mated with. Perhaps this ‘selected’ collection supposedly written by him provided these answers. At this moment, she wasn’t ready for what truths she could possibly glean from the freshly pressed pages.

Her musings brought her to the apex of the tower’s living quarters, and she knocked on a door constructed of polished ruby. “Zenith?” she called out. “Hey, it’s Alhena.” She received no reply or echo. “Zenith, open this door at once, or I’m coming in.” Still she received no acknowledgement of her request. Figuring that she had no other choice, she pushed against it, and nearly stumbled at the sight of a slumbering Gatekeeper, fully clothed besides the missing articles of his crimson vest and leather choker, entangled in the sheets. His hair at least was free, cascading down his neck. The sword he always bore lay rested against a bedpost, and she was careful not to venture too near to it. “Zenith?” she tried again. When his breathing remained steady to her hearing, she bent over his ear and whispered, “Elkanah?”

He stirred slightly, a barely perceptible sound emitted from his lips. “Hannah.”

“Are you awake?” She could feel her heart pounding far too hard in her chest. That name brought back the memories of when he initially came to Celestial Institute, he’d been here for the longest duration of time besides herself and the Acolyte. He had been her first chosen one. No other sound was uttered by him, and she tentatively used her senses to peer into his body’s automations. He was asleep. “Come on, Zenith, I need you to be conscious for this.” Nothing, no signs that he was aware of her presence graced her understanding. She sighed. “All right, you asked for it.”

Wings flared, she focused on enlarging her heart chakra, the spinning wheel of emerald green light near the centre of her chest. She had to be careful since this would cause an imbalance in the flow of her life force, which was precisely the point. She couldn’t heal properly with her own standard faculties. Yet for this to be at maximum effectiveness, she needed the one who could unlock her potential. That person was well knocked out on a bed before her. So much for partnership when the need was near critical in scope. Emerald green light should be emanating into her aura, and directed into his body to where his mind chose. She wasn’t clairvoyant though, and couldn’t see what she was doing, but she could feel something. Something was happening, because he began to display signs of awakening and she could sense his ability to freely manipulate energy working in tandem with her healing. Yes, they were working together now, and the light she couldn’t see expanded to fill the room and was absorbed by him. He exhaled rather loudly at the end, a sigh of deep relief. The fatigue was gone; his body appeared in a far better condition than when she came across him in the library.

“Thank God,” she murmured, and sunk to the foot of his bed, falling fast into blissful darkness.

——

Zenith woke up before a proper sunrise, as was his custom, shedding his tunic and tossed it aside. His skin was slick with not an unwelcome dampness. He sat up and yawned, stretching his limbs before swinging them to the right near his window. He felt great as he always did when awakening after an intense session of manipulating Alhena’s emerald light. Smiling to himself, his fingers made a motion like the breeze rustling through leaves, and a miniature sylph created from his power bowed in greeting to him. It chirped at him, ears made of wings twitching slightly in pleasure as he patted its head.

“I haven’t seen you this at ease since before the Gate was erected,” came a voice both pleasant and unpleasant to his senses, “and certainly never shirtless.”

He dismissed the sylph and turned very slowly, eyebrows signalling displeasure to her as he frowned. “What are you doing in my room, Alhena?”

The deceptive woman smiled as if she knew a precious secret and was dying to spill it. “Someone wasn’t answering my calls. You exhausted me by not responding to me when I tried waking your ass up.”

She’d been here all night? Fuck. Wrong word. That was definitely the wrong word, particularly when he considered the reason why his skin was glistening in the dawning sunlight.

“Don’t you glare at me,” she said crossly. “This is the thanks I get for saving your ass again?” Her body language appeared innocent enough, arms crossed in front of her chest on his bed, and he couldn’t see the rest of her, which was likely a good thing.

“Leave this room immediately,” he commanded with his back turned to her. He could sense her eyes on him, and closed his grass green to project his vision outwards. Asmani’s tempting mouth was slightly open, cold blue clouded slightly with bridled lust. He wished he’d at least kept his tunic on. Her legs were partly separated, no doubt was she feeling the effects of her arousal, and it certainly didn’t help his position. “Alhena, out.”

It was if she knew that he was engaged in his extrasensory perception. She pushed upwards and moved her arms, the dress she wore dragged downwards to reveal more of her breasts. His hands twitched almost noticeably, though he still had good enough control. He’d have to, dealing with this seductress every single day – but he hadn’t expected her to stay overnight. His freckled face flushed unbeknownst to her, or so he mistakenly thought. “I didn’t know you dream of me,” her voice dropped in pitch, her need apparent to a fool. He quit his extra peripheral vision, not wanting to see her slide his bed to press herself into his back, her arms coiled around his partially exposed hips. Now she could feel his tension, and she smiled to herself as she nipped between his shoulder blades, biting and sucking at his lightly toned skin with a barely concealed promise of more to come if he let her. Working up a rhythm with her teeth and tongue, her hand dipped past his hips to scrape her nails against hypersensitive skin to reach his secret place as her breasts and sex rubbed up and down against him. He exhaled loudly.

“Come on, Zeni,” she murmured as she leaned into him, little bites along his earlobe making the situation all too clear. “Better than a dream, hmm? I’m here, I’m right here. Turn around.”

“No,” he managed to say. Hell, she was incredibly hot and heavy against him, and that precise knowledge was a betrayal. He forced himself to think of something painful – like how she had done this with countless other Terrans. Male, female, non-binary, she’d done them all. Even Nadir had fallen for her charms until he realized what the deception was. Swiftly he turned, but she caught on to his plan, catching his lips with her own before he could dodge her advances quickly enough. Struggling for dominance so that he could dismiss her from his immediate presence, they duelled and he reached up to yank her braided ear tails in an attempt to negate her lust. Instead, she only kissed him harder; apparently she didn’t mind rough foreplay. When she began to mewl like a kitten and thrust against him, he knew he had to do something drastic or there would go his resolve to keep her at an intimate distance. Without warning, he picked her up easily and lifted her high, her clothed stomach the only part of her in his line of sight. He trapped her between the window wall and his body, glaring as his hands kept her at an arm’s length from him. “When I say no, I mean what I say.”

Her voice was timid all of a sudden as she bit her lip in fear, looking at him in a small measure of fright. “Zeni?”

“To you, oh Shining One, that would be Zenith, the Gatekeeper of Terra’s Fire, or simply, the Gatekeeper. You will not attempt such a stunt with me again, and you are hereby banned from my room. I may reconsider my position as your partner once I speak with the Acolyte of Archangels regarding your indecent behaviour towards me.”

She trembled as her voice shook. “What are you saying?”

“In simplistic but vulgar terms, if you choose to fuck with me again, I’ll make sure that your shit hits the fan. Understood? You hear me?”

“Zenith,” she whimpered, the proud woman reduced to a mess nearly in tears.

“I’m off to see the Acolyte after I cleanse myself of you. Get the fuck out of my room, and don’t you dare come back.”

The tears refused to fall, but she was dangerously close to bursting into sobs. She squeezed her cold blue tight in pain, and he briefly thought of helping her to rid herself of her arousal. He decided not to, decided to allow her to suffer. It was a small taste of revenge, and when she left, he sunk into his bed, brick red-orange hair in disarray as he held his head in his hands.

“What have I done?” he questioned himself before his grass green took on a hard light as he picked up his sword and gripped it too tightly. He knew he had to go through with his plan; it was the only way she’d wake up out of her perception and see. He wondered again how much she took after her legendary father, or her mysteriously unknown mother. Nobody knew the answer to that question, except for perhaps the Acolyte.

He supposed he should check up on the newest recruit to Celestial Institute after speaking with the school’s sentinel.

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