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Elijah Creek & The Armor of God #6

The Angel of Fire

Lena Wood ]]]]]]]]]]

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Chapter 1

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YOU'LL never find it. Never . . . “SHUT! UP!” Tending my fire in Gilead on a dry, biting day in early December, I pushed the demon’s words from my mind and scratched out a map in the dirt. Over Halloween, my clan had spent a week with the Stallards on a thousand-mile search around Ireland for the sword of the Lord, only to come up empty-handed. Those raspy words from the mouth of a polite-looking book clerk named Liam still haunted me: You’ll never find it. The quest was once again at a dead stop. My clan had settled back into school with a kind of quiet resignation. No one accused me of leading us on a wild-goose chase across the Atlantic. No one even seemed all that upset. They just said to wait and see. We’d exhausted Dowland’s journals, swept his house, and scoured Ireland. But the rest of the clan didn’t know about the voice, and I couldn’t say anything about it. They’d only make matters worse: Rob would dive into research on demonology, Reece would start a round-theclock prayer marathon, and Marcus would preach at me about the evils of voodoo. I was leader of the clan; the next move was my call. I wanted to downplay the voice in my mind. I just wanted it to go away.

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The Angel of Fire

The clan didn’t understand that beings from the spirit world were watching my every move—watching all of us. I’d told only Dom Skidmore and Dr. Dale about what happened because I had to talk to someone or freak out. Neither of them had acted surprised, but I was still reeling. This spiritual warfare stuff was new to me. And with Mom being depressed and steering me away from the armor quest and anything related to church, I couldn’t see putting another problem out on the table. Better to deal with it myself on my own terms. So to my surprise, here I was back in Telanoo—a place I’d once dreaded but been drawn to again and again. Not that I counted on finding anything here; there was just no place left to go. God had spoken to me several times out here—the last time saying he’d give me some treasure hidden in a secret place. But so far nothing had turned up. I sure could use a word now, and I’m not afraid to say that waiting on God was beginning to wear mighty thin. Stirring the coals with a stick, smelling my fire going cold, I planned out my final systematic sweep of Telanoo for the helmet, sword, and arm piece. I’d give special attention to the Unexplored this time, the section lying west of Devil’s Cranium between Old Pilgrim’s cemetery and the place where Dowland once stalked me all night hoping to steal back the helmet of salvation. My headquarters would be here in Gilead, the hidden gorge in Telanoo where I’d found carved in stone a mysterious Celtic inscription, more 8

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Chapter 1

than a thousand years old and thirty-five hundred miles out of place. The Stallards had suggested that this discovery would make headlines in the archaeological world and had stepped up warnings to me about antiquities hounds and other interested parties. So fame would have to wait. I didn’t want hounds sniffing around Telanoo before I found the last of my armor. In the dirt I mapped out a rough idea of the Unexplored. Think like Dowland, I told myself. Where would he hide the helmet of salvation? Marcus and I had figured out months ago that Dowland buried pieces in their opposite environments. The opposite of saved is lost, so where was lost to Dowland? Right here, I answered my own question. A wanderer could get lost in Telanoo easily. I have—a couple of times—and I’m a good tracker. I studied my sketch in the dirt. These hills don’t follow a natural flow; ridges don’t run parallel. The landscape doesn’t make geographical sense to me. But Stan Dowland—who didn’t make much sense to me either—had been right at home here, trekking across this wasteland many a time, away from the church he’d lost, on his way to visit the daughter and grandson he also lost. Lost. The more I pondered it, the more I realized that the helmet of salvation could very well be in Telanoo. I looked around with a satisfied nod. I’d search for it back here on my own and maintain my running regimen to keep Mom happy. Good plan. The key to finding it: think like Dowland. 9

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The Angel of Fire

I had no idea what would happen when the armor of God all came together. To be honest, I wasn’t real anxious to find out. I’d seen enough old adventure and horror movies to know that when pieces to an ancient puzzle are found and fitted into place, either the sacred underground temple collapses in a heap of rubble, or creepy dead people come back to life and wreak havoc, or the volcano god gets ticked off and a whole island sinks into the sea. In space movies, the planet explodes as the last ship of ragtag rebels zooms off, inches ahead of the cloud of destruction. The result is always complete devastation with the hero escaping by the skin of his teeth—if he’s lucky. But this was real life. Still, I pondered, if I’m to believe the Bible, the whole planet does go up in a fireball. No survivors. Sometime before all that happens, the love in the world grows cold, and faith in God drops to an all-time low. I looked up into the evening sky. El-TelanYah? When the armor of God comes together—when I have the sword in my hand—are we talking global annihilation? Is that your plan? Because if it is, I have some things I want to do first. You’ve given me a taste of the world, and I sort of wanted to see more. And there’s Reece . . . Staring down the quiet gorge—my fire the only sign of life, every rock lying pretty much the way it had for eons, every tree frozen stiff from trunk to tip—I had a hard time believing an apocalypse was imminent. My mind was quiet. I’d thought my way out of the dumps, and the demon voice 10

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Chapter 1

had gone. I was in Gilead, far from the world’s problems and close to El-Telan-Yah. The sun had sunk below the gorge’s rim an hour ago. My fire sputtered. Better not worry Mom, I thought tiredly. I scattered the ashes and took off through the Unexplored, making sure I’d be home before darkness fell, reminding myself as I surveyed Telanoo to think like Dowland.

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