Far away, across the sea, beyond the snowy heights of Canada and the smoking, stinking towers of Manhattan, there exists a small hamlet called Rammon. A mile or so to the West of Rammon there is a cluster of trees known the locals as the Knot. In the heart of the Knot, there is a clearing. Just on the edge of the clearing, something new exists.
It is nestled in the centre of a roughly circular crater, smouldering and twitching feebly in the night. It is small, only a hand’s breadth across, and a deep coal black. To say it is an animal would be stretching the term to its limits. It is more of an amalgamation of a plant and a rock – jagged and blocky, but parts of it glistens, definitely organic. From it emanates a pungent, choking grey gas, twisting and coiling upwards like a snake.
Around it, a group of figures stand in a circle. Each is garbed in robes of purest white, their faces hidden beneath heavy woven hoods. There are thirteen of them in total; each one is tense, nervous, beads of sweat dripping from beneath their cowls. They whisper in hushed, fearful voices, wary of the thing in the crater and yet not fleeing. Only a few words are audible: “Angel… lost… return to… impossible…”
One of them seems to hold himself higher than others do; his back is straighter, his head higher. Perhaps he is a leader. Behind his cowl, he chews on a salty strip of beef, biting down on it to prevent sour bile rising in his mouth at the stench emanating from the pit. His eyes are hard and determined, his face heavyset. Clenched tight in his fist he holds a silver blade, akin to a scimitar. The grooves of the grip dig into his hand; the force he holds it with, invoked by nervousness and anticipation, actually draws blood, sending minute itching pains up through his arm.
Aside from the whispering, there is little but the wind to fill the silence of the night. It stirs the leaves of the trees throughout the knot, kissing the men’s skin and tugging at their robes. Like a thief it steals across the clearing, avoiding the foul, alien thing in the crater, hurrying with unknown purpose towards an unseen destination.
The thing in the crater is most certainly not an angel.