Chapter 372: Captured! Angel of Healing
He could hear Lan Jue’s voice, faint but biting: “This guy is worthless.”
In a flash, the two figured who had assaulted Julie were gone from her side.
Raphael stumbled through the store, headed for the window. From there his communicator could get a signal out the Citadel for help. These two were strong, but they couldn’t be any higher than ninth rank – neither were Paragons. It would take time for them to take him down, if that was their aim, hopefully long enough for his friends to arrive. At the moment, Julie was completely gone from his memory. Surviving was paramount.
Just then, a strange attractive force caused him to stagger. It was coming from behind, pulling him away from freedom. In the next instant the world was spinning all around him. Reality warped, and a stifling pressure bore down on him with strength enough to shatter bone.
It was terrifying. Raphael had never experienced this level of suppression. The power of these strangers had the entire area under their control.
Was this… a Paragon’s Domain?
Stunned as he was, he hardly noticed the pair of hands groping toward him; one black, and one white. He summoned the loudest shout he muster, and brought his Discipline to bear as a shield. It was just in time, for no sooner had his shield materialized than a series of blue flashes began to assail him. Somehow the power penetrated his shields, shocking him and constraining his abilities.
The massive hands came crashing down upon him, slamming in to the circle of holy light at his feet. There was a terrible sound, like glass crackling, then Raphael’s protective shell exploded in a shower of twinkling light.
Real fear was reflected in the Archangel’s wide eyes. These foes were even stronger than he’d thought, and there were two against just him. On top of that, he’d never even seen this strange Discipline before.
Raphael focused the entirety of his remaining energy in to the palms of his hands. With a grunt, he shoved them both forward and released the energy in a staggering shock wave. His hope was to push his enemies back enough to make an escape.
However, just as the blast of energy left his hands, the world before him spun dizzyingly. A vortex swelled in to view just in front of him that dispersed his last-ditch effort.
It was a new sensation for him, and one that was entirely unpleasant. He’d never come across a power that could negate his holy energies in such a way. It was, in a word, incomprehensible.
He looked on as the masked woman appeared. From the center of her chest, she extended a palm toward him that was wreathed in tendrils of violet electricity. Raphael went flying.
That vacuum force returned, sucking him forward despite the crushing force that had blown him back. The large black and white hands reacted as well, reaching for him. Raphael felt like he was caught in molasses, unable to move. Although he desperately fought to withstand them, he had no more energy to do so.
The two hands clapped down on his shoulders, and again the world went spinning. Raphael felt his innards warp with it, like they were trying to tear themselves apart. Every inch of him felt as though it were being pulled in a hundred different directions.
The world went black.
All of this happened in the space of a spark. Julie had freed herself, and rushed outside just in time to see the hands lay Raphael flat. He was limp, and the masked man lifted him easily from the floor with a single hand. He flung the unconscious Archangel over his shoulder before approaching her.
“Y-you…” Julie shook, both from fear and surprise. Even under duress, she never doubted the strength of Raphael. These terrorists couldn’t have been stronger than he, she’d thought. To her, the Pontiff’s Six Archangels were synonymous with unbeatable. However, what she was looking at now disproved that. These two were stronger than her sweet Raphael. Her brave, strong, valiant Angel of Healing was slung like a slain mongrel over this man’s shoulder. It was unthinkable… something that she would never have thought within the realm of possibility.
“When his friends get here, tell the Citadel that I’ve taken him. Let’s see who I get next…” He let the words hang in the air for a moment. Then, with a nod to Qianlin, the two of them and their sleeping prize vanished in a flash of lightning.
When turned to electricity, Lan Jue didn’t have the capabilities or bringing someone with him. What he could do, though, was store a person in his interspacial container. At Raphael’s level of cultivation, it would be a couple days before he suffocated to death.
Lan Jue was already familiar with the layout. They exited out in to the market while removing their masks. Then, with the change in clothes they’d just purchased in hand, they went in to the bathroom to change.
A few minutes later two entirely different people exited, or so it seemed. Even Julie would have a hard time recognizing them if she was walking right passed. They headed for the market’s exit as an alarm screeched in the distance. They simply walked on, strolling by the shops like they hadn’t a care in the world.
It wasn’t until they reached the hotel room and shut the door behind them, that Qianlin felt safe enough to let out a sigh. She looked at Lan Jue and saw the light of excitement in his eyes. It was a different experience for her – she’d never kidnapped anybody before!
There was a flash of silver light, and Raphael appeared on the ground before them. He was still unconscious.
During their confrontation, Lan Jue was careful not to use any of his thunderbolt Discipline. Instead, he used his Discipline to empower his Taiji 1. Zhou Qianlin, in contrast, gleefully employed the electrical attacks of their shared Discipline with one hand, while the other was wrapped around his waist. Through the Soul Caller gemstone they were able to communicate instantly, silently, and with precision. Under Lan Jue’s command their coordination was flawless.
Raphael was unique – all of the Archangels were. However, he had never really been a match for Lan Jue individually, not to mention his support-based Discipline. In the face of two ninth level seventh rank Adepts, he didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell. Part of that, too, was the presence of Lan Jue’s Taiji martial power. Such a spiritual based manifestation was almost certainly nothing like what he was familiar with.
Lan Jue sharply slapped Raphael’s forhead. The actions was met with a crackle of electricity that raced all across his body, making the angel flop like a fish on the carpet.
“What are you doing?!” Zhou Qianlin asked with a start.
“These sorts of Disciplines rely on occultism,” Lan Jue explained. “They’ll certainly have him tracked with some sort of spell. With a net of protogenic energy, I can locked that power away so he’s no more traceable to them than we are. Now we get to watch as the Citadel goes crazy.”
He’d walked to the window as he spoke, and looked out over the city. Just as forecast, it was only a few minutes before scores of guards dressed in Citadelian habit poured from the Cathedral doors. He could also see the faint light of a pulsing Discipline somewhere inside. Lan Jue was right – their response time was very fast. A minute or two too late, and they’d have been in real trouble.
“What? Someone kidnapped Rafael?” Shock twisted Metatron’s perfect features. What he was hearing was impossible.
This was the Holy City of Reims! How could there possibly be someone mad enough to take an Archangel? More importantly, they grabbed him without a sound, without a trace. The Citadel was entirely in the dark.
The Pontiff didn’t trouble himself with most matters of the Citadel. Those clerical duties fell largely to the Lord of Archangels. There was a reason for this, and Metatron quickly put away his surprise to get down to business. A chilly calm calm over him.
“Summon the Messenger of Death, Gabriel. And call for the Cherubim Uriel as well… we’ll have to go take a look for ourselves.”
Ten minutes later, three of the strongest Adepts in the Pontiff’s employ were standing in the tailor shop. Julie was among them, stunned.
These men knew Julie. The Archangels were close, and knew of one anothers’ exploits. Gabriel, with knit brow, was first to speak. “Tell us what happened, and don’t leave out any detail.”
The tailor took a deep breath to calm her nerves. “Raphael was here trying on some clothes. Then, two people came in. They wore face masks that covered their nose and mouth…”
She spend the next few minutes going over everything that had happened, from beginning to end. Julie had a good memory, and the traumatic experience wasn’t likely one she was quick to forget.
“’Let’s see who I get next’?” Metatron’s handsome face bore a beautiful fury. This sort of arrogance was certainly their way of angering the Citadel.
Gabriel went on. “The Inquisition is already looking for them 2. Should we let Constantine know?”
Metatron nodded. “Yes. This whole thing is very unusual. Obviously they’re targeting the Citadel. I tried to locate him back in the Cathedral but could find no trace, so it’s likely they have him sealed away somehow. We have to be prepared, because they certainly were. Come, let’s check the security footage and see if we can pick up any details. Then we’ll go to the market, the shop that sells those masks. Perhaps the shop owner can remember something. Someone get on the communicator with the Inquisition and tell them the Holy City is now under martial law. Get lists of all foreign nationals staying in local hotels, with pictures. Leave no stone unturned.”
Metatron was a master at his job, and he put his full intellect to the problem at hand. With clarity and without hesitation, their plan of action was implemented.
“If this attack was deliberate then we’re unlikely to find any evidence,” Uriel mused. “The assailants probably took this all in to account. I’d be surprised if we find anything at all. Should we bring this to His Majesty?”
- I can’t recall how I wrote this before – either Taiji or Tai Chi – but if I wrote Tai Chi then I was either drunk or negligent because that’s a terrible way to translate/spell it. It’s Taiji going forward, just know they’re the same. ↩
- In case you aren’t history buffs or fans of Monty Python, the Inquisition was a group of organization that were tasked with stamping out heresy, and anti-church sentiment. The most famous was probably the Spanish Inquisition who killed hundreds of Jews and forcibly converted thousands of others. All together, it’s estimated the inquisition killed between three thousand and five thousand people. ↩