It’s getting dark. I shouldn’t have walked so far.
It’s only a few more hills until I reach my village. The wind seems sharper now the sun’s setting, and it’s a glorious sight: purple clouds with red and pink rims are drifting lazily across an amber sky.
I reach the base of a hill and I’m about to climb up when I look up to see just how large the hill is.
And my breath freezes in my chest.
There are four of them. They’re standing on top of the hill, as motionless as statues. Their scarves trail restlessly in the wind.
They look like shadows against the dying sky. But if one of them turns his head, he will see me and I have no doubt that if they see me, they will kill me and I realise, maybe too late, that I really don’t want to die. The Angels have guarded us for years, but nobody’s ever seen them. The only people who must have caught a glimpse of them are dead. Last year, Father and Mikael came across over thirty corpses, with unbloodied weapons scattered around them. Some had even been killed with their own weapons. The symbol of the Angels was carved into the flesh of every single body.
We respect them, but we fear them far more.
I slowly kneel on the grass without taking my eyes off them. Minutes pass, and the earth feels like ice under my palms. All the while, the hills grow blacker and the wind blows colder; the sky slowly turns from vibrant amber, pink and red to purple and blue.
Then they move. They spring forwards effortlessly over the hill and into the sky.
I stay still, not daring to breathe, just to make sure they’re not coming back.
Then I stand up, climb the hill slowly and see my village shining below.