Bri stepped forward, holding her hand down in front of Orifiel. Malak watched her do so, knowing the truth of the matter didn’t matter. The fact that dealing with Orifiel would be so much more difficult than any of the other messengers, no matter how cooperative he would try to be, did not matter. Bri would persist as she always had.
While the wait before her next words was not the same, the rest of the action felt so familiar. As if they had fallen only yesterday.
“My name’s Bri. I’m here to help you.”
Orifiel would no longer be able to see the past as he once did, the fall had begun the process and soon enough all of what made Orifiel a messenger would have drained away. Those pupils began to focus on Bri’s hand, then upon her face.
“Malak?” His voice was quiet.
Malak’s tone lost the ever-present edge. “We are here to help you.”
Orifiel took her hand.
Orifiel’s head leaned back, bare skin touching the tree. Orifiel’s mouth opened, then closed.
“You know each other?” Bri was aware enough of the atmosphere to keep her voice quiet, waiting for Malak’s judgment.
“Orifiel… has never seen the present before.” Malak’s explanation stuck in their throat. Those eyes which now shifted, black pupils contracting smaller than they had ever been, colour threatening to blossom over the whites around them. “Orifiel, do you hear me?”
The recognition held no feeling within. Malak did not feel dread, hadn’t felt such things since their fall. Discomfort, however, had become a regular companion. “Orifiel, what happened to you?”
There was no answer forthcoming.
Bri stopped them for a couple more people, though she didn’t make as much pointless conversation as she had in the centre of town. The roads turned from mainly straight lines of pavement to curved, to gravel and dirt. The bottoms of Bri’s jeans were beginning to collect the dust of the road. Malak’s shoes were still covered in the wet line of the dog’s nose.
The sense of the faded immortality finally suffused Malak’s senses. The taste of something they hadn’t had in so long, the feeling which had already dispersed to the point of torture. They walked over to the short fence, stepping on the barbed wire and easily clearing the top to land on the other side. Instead of continuing forward, they stopped long enough to turn and help Bri over. The field was currently unoccupied, Malak could see the horses which occasionally inhabited this area down further in another pasture.
None of that mattered. They made as straight a beeline toward the feeling and the person accompanying it.
The messenger sat next to a tree, their tattered clothes nearly blending them into the texture, if not at all hiding them in colour. The being’s eyes lay open, staring forward without blinking. Pupils without irises, expanding and contracting no matter the shade.
Malak recognized this messenger. “Orifiel?”