Home > Fallen Academy: Year One (Fallen Academy #1)(4)

Fallen Academy: Year One (Fallen Academy #1)(4)
Author: Leia Stone

I knew who that guy was. He was the Celestial from five years back. Lincoln something. He’d made it in all of the papers. He was very rare in that he held the power of two Celestials within him, Archangel Michael and Archangel Raphael. They said he’d changed the face of the war, that his demon kill record was one of the highest, and he’d taken back part of the valley for Angel City. Even though demon and fallen were in the same room for the Awakening ceremonies, the war between them was still waging outside of these walls.

Tilly walked nervously up to the stage, and my heart went out to her. Being the first to be called for something like this sucked. It sucked bad. I leaned forward a little, and turned my head to the right, trying to catch Shea’s attention, but the slave minder’s hand clamped down on my thigh, forcing me to look forward. I bit my tongue to keep myself from lashing out at her. Tilly looked ridiculous in her large yellow evening gown. We all did. But the fallen were sticklers for ceremony and respect, so I imagined it was for them.

As she stood before the fallen archangel, I could feel her anxiety from where I sat over fifty feet away. The Awakening was a terrifying thing. To be turned into a monster at random for the rest of your life—how could anyone look forward to that? I noticed a bunch of other Fallen Army officers waiting to the right of the stage to greet her once she was done. Once her powers were revealed, she would immediately be enrolled in Fallen Academy, the illusive and fancy training school for the free souls. Unless she was a Gristle. That was the only supernatural race that didn’t get schooling; you just exited the stage and were given a job working for the city sanitation department.

Raphael held his hands above her head and a golden orange dust began to fall from his palms, saturating her body. We all stared in shock at the golden dust that coated her skin, making her glow like an angel atop a Christmas tree. I saw the appeal of the dresses now. She looked breathtaking. But the beauty was short-lived. Soon, she started breathing roughly, her body lurching forward as she doubled over in pain.

I had never seen an Awakening ceremony, since it was only for the families of those involved, and was never televised. Now I knew why. Tilly made a whining noise and then, as if it had never existed, the dust disappeared. She stood shakily and looked out to the crowd. Holy shit. Her once blue irises were black, her skin looked as white as paper, and her canines were more pronounced.

Raphael took one look at her and nodded. “Tilly Anderson. Nightblood. Welcome to Fallen Academy.”

I heard weeping in the upper deck, and guessed it was Tilly’s mother. Nightbloods couldn’t go outside in the day or they had some type of allergic reaction. They were trained, and used in the war for their extreme strength and speed, but to the free souls, they were seen as an offspring of the tainted. Nightbloods were demon gifted, along with Beast Shifters, Necromancers, and Dark mages. Tilly would be feared by those in her community for the rest of her life, and she would probably end up moving to Demon City just to feel normal.

Tilly cast her head down in shame and exited the stage, walking across the white tiles, and down to the waiting Fallen Army to get her new government-issued identification. She would be matched with a Nightblood master teacher for her training.

“Brielle Atwater. Demon bound.” Raphael’s voice snapped me from my remorse for Tilly.

No. Fricking alphabetical order!

I stood, a wave of dizziness hitting me as the adrenaline coursed through me, and my heart rattled against my chest. I walked numbly to the stage, trying not to trip over my too-long black silk dress.

“You got this!” Shea yelled. I heard the slave minder shush her, but it made me smile the slightest bit, and I walked a little taller. No matter what happened today, I would still go home tonight and be with Shea, my mom, and my little brother. Nothing would change that. If I worked a shitty job for the rest of my life, then so be it. I still had my family.

Before I knew it, I had reached the stage, and stood before the fallen angel.

“Brielle.” He said my first name as if we were dear friends. It both made me nervous and comforted me at the same time.

“Yes, sir?” I didn’t know what protocol was. I’d grown up around demons, not these nice winged creatures.

Raphael looked sadly down at me. “I’m sorry for the circumstances in which you find yourself,” he whispered.

For some crazy reason, I wanted to burst into tears. What was he doing? Throw the freaking glowing dust on me and be done with it already! Saying heartfelt shit wasn’t going to get me through this; it was only going to make me look weak.

I simply nodded, holding back my emotions. Looking past him, I saw Lincoln appear over his shoulder and glare at me as if I was the scum of the Earth. That was more like it. More of what I was used to from those people—looking down on me for being slave bound.

I was tempted to give him the middle finger but thought better of it, instead deciding to focus my attention on the huge palms that had just spread out above me. I was standing in the presence of a fallen archangel, a being with more power than I could ever imagine.

Before I could think more on it, the dust began to fall. It lay on my skin, settling into the pores there, tickling as it worked its way into my body. I felt a zinging sensation as an unseen energy moved up and down my back. The tickling gave way to a burning, and I started to sweat. Would I be a Gristle? Or worse, some form of a demon like Tilly? What if I sprouted horns? I just wanted to be something middle of the road. Not too low but not too high. If you were too powerful, they were calling you to the front lines of the war after you graduated Tainted Academy. I just wanted my life to stay the same.

A red-hot pain shot from my navel to my chest and out through my shoulder blades as I fell forward with a shriek. The pain was unlike anything I’d ever felt before, and the edges of my vision went black as I fought to stay conscious. My back was on fire, and I’d bet my mother’s life that I had just endured a pain worse than childbirth. Bile came up my throat, but I swallowed it down. I tried to keep quiet, but at the sight of a bright blinding light shooting out from behind me, and a ripping sensation down my back, I screamed. I screamed bloody freaking murder.

Dresses? They gave us dresses to get through this? Where’s the Vicodin? Morphine? Anything!

The pain started to pulse, giving way from a sharp stabbing to a dull throb. The gasps from the crowd gave me the first indication that something crazy had just happened. I didn’t dare move. My skin felt like it was on fire all over. It hurt so bad that I wanted to scream again.

“Brielle!” Shea shouted, and I heard a commotion in the seats. I looked up and squinted. Everything was too bright, noises too loud, smells too strong.

“She’s angel blessed,” Raphael’s words were the tiniest whisper, I wasn’t sure I’d even heard it.

Angel blessed.

There were only four angel-blessed powers compared to the four demon-gifted things you could become. I looked down at my hands, but other than a shimmery glowing on my skin, they looked no different. I tried to stand but felt off balance. I must’ve grown horns or something. Or maybe I was a Centaur, with animal lower half and human upper half.

Murmurs started on the Fallen Army side and it made me nervous. They hardly broke protocol, but now they were gasping, pointing, stepping closer.

“Get up!” the Grimlock demon roared, and fear flushed through me. Once again I tried to stand, and that’s when I noticed what was wrong. Turning my head behind me, I glimpsed a shimmery set of Celestial wings. They were pitch-black.

Oh shit.

Raphael’s hand came out to steady me, and a warm soothing balm coursed through my body, taking away all the pain. I could breathe a little easier, without the throbbing pain between my shoulders.

I had wings. Black freaking wings. I’d never heard of a black-winged Celestial. They were all white. All of them. Always.

“Brielle Atwater. C-celestial.” Raphael’s voice cracked as he spoke.

I couldn’t bear to look at the crowd.

“Come forward and receive your slave mark,” the Grimlock demon said, standing at the very edge of the black line on the stage. I tried to release my arm from Raphael’s hand, and step over the line when his grip became viselike.

“She’s with us,” the fallen archangel hissed.

What. The. Frick did he just say?

Lincoln stepped closer to me, and pulled a glowing sword as I stared in shock at the Grimlock demon, whose horns had begun to spew black smoke.

“You will honor the accords, or we will war right now! Give. Her. To. Me!” the Grimlock roared. My mother’s master demon stood and walked closer.

Raphael looked pained, his features tightening. “You tricked her mother into the contract. She didn’t know it involved her firstborn.”

Whoa. How the hell did he know that?

Master Burdock clapped loudly, and in his once bare palms was suddenly a tan parchment. It had tiny golden writing, and at the bottom a red bloody thumbprint. My mother’s.

“It’s her fault for not reading the entire thing. Now hand me my slave or bring Hell upon the Earth once again,” Master Burdock crooned.

Raphael was holding me so tightly that my wrist began to hurt. At that thought, his grip lessened.

“No,” Raphael said, and the walls shook with his voice, as if it had been amplified a thousand times.

The Grimlock demon looked at one of the slave minders that stood beyond the stage. “Bring me her mother so I may kill her.”

“No!” I lurched forward, but Raphael yanked me back.

“Do not cross that line,” Raphael whispered.

I looked at him incredulously. “Let. Me. Go!” I demanded, and I saw the hurt cross his face. One rule I knew the fallen were big on was free will. They had to honor our free will.

He bit his lip. “You don’t understand. It’s not final yet. If you take that mark—” “Let go,” I said with more authority, cutting him off, and a rising of power crackled within me. At the same time I heard my mother scream in the stands.

He dropped my arm, eyes wide in shock, and stepped backward a foot.

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