Gems of Freedom By: Sebastian Iturralde

Letting life choose the next step to take, Brooke floated down a white marble hallway, while the falling water from a fountain gave the place a harmonious melody.

She didn’t know what was about to happen, or if she was going to find the angel that summoned her. Brooke wandered the gardens, leaving a trail of light behind her white veil. She—like all the angels who live in the city—wore simple white dresses.

There was no one in the garden. Being invited to a place like this was highly unusual in a city full of angels. Brooke began to fear the unknown solitude, worrying about what might happen to her… when she saw Pauline lying over a white blanket on the lawn.

Pauline was an ordinary angel, like every other one in the city, she also wore a white dress.

Brooke broadened her eyes in surprise. “What are you doing there?”

“I was expecting you,” Pauline said. “Come…sit next to me.”

Brooke stepped over the low fence that surrounds the garden and sat on the white blanket.

Pauline looked in her bag. “Look what I have here.”

Brooke couldn’t believe the brilliant color of the gem in Pauline’s hand.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a gem I found in hell,” Pauline said sincerely.

“What are you talking about!” Brooke asked, flustered with surprise. “It’s impossible to go to hell.”

“We found a way,” Pauline said.

“We could be banished for this,” Brooke said.

“Don’t worry,” Pauline said. “It’s just a shiny rock. Besides, it’s you who wants to find a way to help humans.”

“Yes, but not like this.”

“We are at war with the forces of evil,” Pauline said. “Doing nothing…equals supporting them.”

“But…going down to hell.”

“We discovered that demons manipulate these gems to increase the influence of temptations,” Pauline said. “We are only giving humans a fair chance.

“I thought you would be capable of anything to help them. That’s what you said.”

“Yes, but I didn’t mean this,” said Brooke.

“It’s the only weapon we have against the forces of hell,” Pauline said. “Do you want to help humans or not?”

“Yes…”

“This is your chance to do it,” Pauline said. “Take the gem.”

Brooke opened her hand and received the gem.

“Come with me,” Pauline said , “I have something to show you.”

The two angels floated towards the large wooden gate at the side of the garden. Then Pauline opened it…Brooke noticed that the interior of the church was no longer like she remembered. “What kind of witchcraft is this?” she asked and dropped the gem from her hand.

Immediately, the interior of the church returned to its original shape. Pauline took the gem from the ground. “Here, trust me.”

When they walked through the door, the illusion of the interior of the church became real. It was the first time Brooke had seen the secret rebel headquarters. “What is this place?”

“Here is where we fight to help humans,” Pauline said.

“Are we in hell?”

“No, hell is far worse,” Pauline said. “We are still in the city of angels. Welcome to Elysium, the secret rebel headquarters. From here we face the forces of evil.”

“But how?”

“Easy, we use the power of these gems,” Pauline said, pulling a gem from her bag. Then she placed it on her chest and a cloud of smoke completely surrounded her.

Brooke took a step back, surprised by the transformation Pauline was undergoing. Little by little the smoke vanished, leaving behind a being that stopped looking like an angel. Her white dress fell to the floor and Pauline’s white skin completely changed color.

Brooke couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The appearance of the angel with whom she entered Elysium was demonic. “Get away from me.”

“I’m still in control,” Pauline said. “We learned to use the gems of hell.”

“But your appearance…”

Pauline took the gem off her chest and immediately returned to its natural state. “Transformations are temporary, they allow us to make better use of our celestial powers. Give it a try.”

“What!” Brooke said. “Do you want me to put this on my chest?”

“Give it a try,” Pauline said. “You can always turn back into an angel.”

Brooke opened her hand to see the red gem glow. I can take it off after trying, she thought. Then she placed the gem on her chest and felt a force penetrate her…creating pain and pleasure.

A cloud of smoke covered her as she felt her skin become rough and her muscles tighten. Brooke felt her body grow slightly, as a surprising force supported her spine. Four arms came out from her sides, she immediately had control over them. Then she noticed that the skin on her hands had hardened and her delicate nails were now dark claws.

At the end of her transformation, Brooke looked up to experience what was happening. Pauline had placed the gem back in the middle of her chest, but she was now beautiful. Brooke managed to appreciate the beauty of the gray skin, the black wings, and the gleam of the green gem on Pauline’s chest.

Brooke looked down and found her red gem shining.

“Try using your angelic powers,” Pauline said.

Brooke paused. I’ll try to use prayer to see what happens, she thought. But instead of floating while a white light shone around her, Brooke noticed a red fire begin to grow between her palms. She immediately pushed it away from her and saw the fire crash against a wall. “Amazing.”

“You’re getting used to it,” Pauline said. “Follow me, let’s put your powers to the test.”

Brooke walked through Elysium, appreciating the beauty she could now admire. The place still looked like the inside of the church, only its walls were black and it was decorated with beautiful gems of different colors. The place was full of weapons and tools, all neatly arranged on shelves.

The angels that Brooke was able to observe were also transformed. All the transformations were unique. Each one was more surprising than the last. What powers will they have? Brooke wondered.

“Brooke, I would like you to meet Dindel,” Pauline said as she stopped.

Dindel’s skin was red and a blue light floated over the palm of one of his hands. “It’s my pleasure,” she said with a bow, and the blue fire died away.

“We’d like to use one of your portals,” Pauline said before Brooke could speak.

“Right away,” Dindel said and a flame began to grow in her hands. Then she dropped the blue fire.

Brooke watched the flame grow.

“Come on,” said Pauline, “don’t be afraid.”

Brooke watched Pauline pass through the flame and disappear. Then she stopped to analyse the situation.

“Move, I can’t keep it open for long,” Dindel said.

Brooke closed her eyes and stepped through the portal. Upon entering the temperature changed dramatically. The heat should have been unbearable for an angel, but for some reason she felt good. After a moment she realized that Pauline held two black swords and was fighting against… Brooke couldn’t understand the creature.

The demon was big and full of muscles. Pauline looked small in comparison, yet the fight seemed to unfairly benefit the transformed angel.

“We have to destroy everything in our way,” Pauline said, before slamming her sword into the creature’s chest. “Don’t worry about them. They are immortal beings.”

Brooke saw the demon explode.

“The only way we can deal with them is by using your angelic powers,” Pauline said.

Brooke saw Pauline run and realizing that she had no other choice decided to follow. The rock cave was lit by torches. They ran until reaching a large room with dozens of demons.

Brooke was surprised and turned to look at Pauline, she winked at her and charged.

I have to use my angelic powers, Brooke thought. Then she used meditation and noticed that her concentration was focused on the demons around her. Balls of red fire glowed between the palms of her six hands. She instinctively slammed her hand against one of the demons and felt the fireball explode on impact.

Brooke continued to hit the demons with the fireball in her hands and the explosion knocked them to the ground. She also created fireballs by using prayer. Her angelic powers translate perfectly. She felt natural hiting and destroying the demons in her path.

Pauline was also using her angelic powers, and before long they were done with demons small and large, and continued through the cave.

“Good job,” Pauline said, running past Brooke. “You can use the rest to defend yourself.”

Brooke noted and they continued to destroy everything in their path.

Finally, after a battle that lasted longer than Brooke expected, they came to a large room with an altar. On top of it there was a large glowing purple gem.

Pauline extended her hand out to the side. “Stay here.”

Brooke looked from side to side and couldn’t find any demons. “Is this what we came for?”

“Hush,” Pauline said, and began to approach the gem.

Brooke stood still, watching Pauline approach the altar.

Pauline took the gem and turned… the place began to tremble. An immense creature appeared beside her. Pauline didn’t have time to react, the gem was snatched from her hand. “This belongs to me,” said the demon.

Brooke saw the demon glow, immediately used rest and was surrounded by a red light that protected her from the flames that erupted from the demon’s body.

Pauline couldn’t cover herself in time. The blow caused her to crash against the cave wall.

Brooke launched a fireball. The demon was struck in the chest. Nothing. Brooke took a step back as she formed another fireball in her hand.

“Your powers are useless against me,” the demon said, pointing at Brooke.

The two angels felt the force of the demon pull their gems off their chests. Brooke felt the unbearable heat of hell burn her bare skin. The pain forced her to fall to the ground. Then, she felt her body begin to fade….

…”Wake up,” Brooke heard from a distance. Eventually she was able to open her eyes. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Brooke noticed the transformed angels surrounded her. One of them placed a green gem on her chest and her pain began to fade.

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