There were reasons why Fallon followed her cousins as they moved from place to place but always at a distance. While extremely close to them, considering them all siblings just as much as she did her own, there were a few secrets that she couldn?t share with even them and staying an arm?s length away usually did the trick. That was when being a cousin and not a blood sibling came in handy; while the O?Connor home housed all but one of them under its roof, as a cousin she was left with a bit more freedom of choice, and one that went unquestioned and unargued. Sure, she kept up the fa?ade that she just needed space but, as usual, things weren?t always as they seemed.
She had been in the library of her society for hours, stretching on until daylight fell to night. Candles now lit the vast room around her, giving it a warm and inviting glow despite her being its only occupant, and lines of books rimmed each wall, thousands of labels in various languages and texts glittering on the shelves towering above her.
She had taken over a wide table in the center of the room, the dark wood older than herself yet glinting with a sheen as if it were made yesterday and bearing not a scratch. Stacks of books overtook much of it while the rest supported the splayed pages of half a dozen opened volumes, their sizes both big and small, thick and thin, and each one spouting a different language, some illegible to even the most trained human eye. A notebook sat beside her, its current page displaying a series of lines and circles, the words ?glowing?, ?blind?, ?demons? and others, as well as the questioning ?savior??, written among them.
Her hair was a tumble of blonde spilling over one shoulder, leaving the other side of her neck completely exposed. A hand supported her head, fingers delved deep into the incurable mess, while the other held a pencil captive so that teeth could hold a bite to the well-worn eraser. A particularly large book laid opened before her, its words in a dozen different foreign languages and scribed by just as many hands, although each word was glittering as if written in the same liquid gold. Her eyes, always busy when she was deep in the belly of research, moved over them all with ease.
?How the hell am I supposed to find anything on something I know barely anything about?,? she asked no one in particular, her teeth still set firm around the pencil?s end. ?Couldn?t be something easy like she?s got something inside of her that we can just pluck out and put in a jar.?
Fallon gave a healthy snort, wishing that things were that simple (and they rarely, if ever, are) as she freed the eraser, setting it against the page and using it as a tool to flip through the pages. Faeries, Spirits, Angels, Demons, Gods, Vessels, Possessions... The list went on and on and not one of them gave her an answer. She let out a sigh, continuing to flip through the chapters with a heavy feeling of frustration. Why could things never be easy?
But then she stopped, the pencil posed to turn a page, leaving it half lifted and curved down the middle. Her eyes, those imperfect things, were locked upon the filigree label overtaking the entire page, each letter gilded and highly decorated, situated directly in the center. Astrals. Her lips moved, forming the soundless word as she slowly moved the pencil, letting the page settle back down.
Astrals... She rolled the word over and over in her head. She hadn?t heard that term in a very, very long time, and even then it had been in brief passing. But its sudden reappearance had her mind shuddering off mental cobwebs and dust alike and she was quick to recall that they had also been called ?pristine beings? and that they were almost unheard of. Could our Kingsley really be an Astral?, she wondered to herself, feeling the beginnings of a prickle at the back of her neck. She turned the page, blinking as she was suddenly greeted by an elaborate full-page illustration. She ignored it for the moment, quickly setting to reading the tiny text diligently scribed on the mirroring page.
?An Astral is a being of immaculate grace, their Essence pure and their Soul unhindered by the need of greed or violence. While appearing mortal (most specifically Human) to most any being or race, and typically even to themselves, their goodness is something unavoidably noted, oftentimes leaving them isolated from those around them. But while they exude a natural air of innocence, they are not incapable of intermingling themselves among other beings, quite often going without notice by others and seeming as nothing more than extremely caring, empathic, and compassionate Human Beings.?
?Well, hell. That sounds like Kings,? Fallon muttered to herself before she kept on reading.
?Being that these creatures are fiercely scarce, it has been found that Astrals, while once argued to be, are not created. Each Astral is born with their otherworldly Soul already within them, their basic attributes (kindness, generosity, innocence, etc.) dominant from the very beginning of their lives. But even as such, not every Astral Soul comes to full maturity, the majority of the Soul remaining dormant (also known as ?Sleeping?) within the vessel until stirred. The triggers for such a self-realization are still highly debated, whether it is their atmosphere and surroundings or something of a much more random encounter, yet the former has provided much more reliable in evidence. This suggests that it is who and what the Astral interacts with and the resulting reactions and emotions they provide that Awaken the Soul, opening it to its full potential. The latter suggestion simply leaves it entirely up to Fate.?
?Regardless, should the Soul of an Astral begin to be Awakened, their aura will become amplified and certain powers will become evident. These are most typically the ability to heal (themselves or others, or occasionally both), a radiance of warmth or cold (sometimes also explained as life or death depending on the strength of the power), the ability to see one?s true alignment, a gift for seeing the existence of a truth no matter how hidden, and other varying abilities. While it takes time for the Soul to reach full development, if it ever does, it will become more and more evident through this aura and these otherwise never before seen powers that those harboring the nature of an Astral are not simply mortals but truly something of a purely heavenly being.?
?And that?s why she?s been starting to change. Quill was right,? she mused to herself, even affording herself a tiny smirk. It didn?t last long.
?With that being said, there is also something known as an Astral becoming Truly Awakened, or a Truly Awakened Astral. Although this is a nearly impossible and unheard of occurrence, it should be known that this is a capable (albeit highly unlikely) evolution of any and all Awakened Astrals. While there is little to no knowledge as to the full potential or power of a Truly Awakened Astral, and therefore very little to be written here on the subject, it should be known that such a being would be considered akin to what most would call a Seraphim, with each individual gaining its own personal title and their powers, while their ultimate limit remains unknown, would be created by the most holy of source.?
?It should be known that with the birth and existence of an Astral, even if it remains Sleeping, danger will come with, hand in hand. It should also be known that if the Soul does begin to Awaken, with the Astral?s aura becoming empowered and their gifts beginning to surface, this danger will intensify and become much more deadly. Even though their natural existence is already extremely rare, the hunting of them has made them even more scarce, even pushing them to near extinction. Although those known as Demons (also known as Devils, evil spirits, dwellers of Hell, etc.) are the ones that most often seek Astrals, it has also been noted that other creatures such as Undead, Liches, Vampires, and other such beings of an Evil alignment have been known to hunt them as well, though their process of using them to their benefit is not definably cataloged.?
?Demons, on the other hand, are quite well-known in their capturing of Astrals, rare and infrequent as said captures are. They are drawn to the pure auras, able to sense them even while the Astral remains Sleeping, and the more they become Awakened, the more easily the Demons are attracted to them.?
?Once an Astral has been taken prisoner, Demons almost seem to bask in the glory of being able to capture, possess and use such a powerful being, boasting of it when and where they can and oftentimes even calling it their ?salvation?. As Astrals are purely holy and their Essence, or blood, is literally made of holy light, it is not highly unimaginable as to why Demons desire to capture such beings. It is, however, very unknown as to exactly how Demons use the Astrals and, perhaps, this Essence, whether by sacrifice, ingestion, forced labor and slavery or other means more magical in nature. But while this remains a mystery, it is almost certain that every capture ends with the Astral?s death.?
?Oh, sh*t...? She felt a chill spill over her, like an icy finger dancing at the back of her neck down the length of her spine. Her fingers fell out of her hair so that her arm could thump quietly on the table next to the book and she could feel the color draining from her face, her heart thudding heavily as she read on.
?In conclusion, Astrals, while absurdly uncommon and dramatically endangered, are incredibly holy beings. Durable and diligent to their alignment even when left unknowing of their true identities, Astrals create an extremely potent weight to their side of the scale and, should one come into existence, be it Sleeping or otherwise, it should be considered a blessing as they are considered the true epitome of Good. Sleeping, they occupy a status equal to Angels. Awakened, they graduate to a status above. Truly Awakened, they can hover just below a God.?
?But just the same, it is advised that the Astral should be guarded with close care by those who come to know of its true being until it has become Awakened, and even more so afterward. With Great Good comes Great Evil and with the existence of such a Holy Being it is inevitable that the counterbalance of something equally Unholy will be stalking not far behind.?
Fallon felt as if time itself had frozen, as if she couldn?t even breathe. Since the latter was true, it was moments later that she regained the ability, the inhale taken as a loud and raspy gasp. She felt a whirl of dizziness overtake her strong enough to make her sway and she steadied herself by closing her eyes and sitting back, glad that every chair in the library had a tall back lest she should go tumbling to the floor.
It was more than a handful of minutes before she reopened her eyes, fingertips pressing to the center of her brow and propped up by an elbow planted on an arm rest. The information she had just absorbed swarmed like an angry hornet?s nest in her head, leaving her mind buzzing and whirring and trying to run in countless different directions. She took a steadying breath, forcefully calming her frayed nerves, and her racing heart, as she demanded herself to gather each thought back together, putting them next to each other piece by piece.
?So Kingsley is an Astral? That explains a lot,? she murmured to herself, giving a small frown. ?Leave it to God to give us something this big to deal with. Couldn?t have made it anything a little easier, huh?? Her eyes lifted skyward, rhetorical as that question was. Like I ever expect an answer, she thought with a huff of air through her nose, her eyes falling back down to the book in front of her... and the picture she had failed to yet examine.
Fallon?s eyes narrowed, her hand falling away and her forehead gaining a healthy splattering of wrinkles as she leaned forward to more easily see. What the hell..., went the silent thought as she looked over the elaborate illustration, eyes flicking over every bit and detail.
No. No way. No f*cking way. She could feel her heart racing in her chest, her breaths coming quick and shallow. This can?t... No, there?s no f*cking way! She swallowed hard, her head shaking and crinkles lining her brow. Her thoughts were already in a tangle, too overburdened by the wealth of information gained by the text, each word a golden fish swimming around in her head. This picture threatened to put on that last layer, to send it all toppling down.
?F*ck this,? she said, slamming the thick book closed. Her sigh of relief mingled with the resulting huff of air. ?If we get there, then I?ll worry about it. But for now... I think this is enough to make everyone freak.?
She pushed herself away from the table and stood up, unhooking her jacket from the back of the chair and slipping her arms through the sleeves as she moved toward the door. She?d leave the books where they were for now; no one in the institute would bother them while she was gone. Right now she had to hurry up and get to the rest of her family, to find Quillan and Kingsley... and Sai.