The travelers continued their journey; over the next two days, they had made their way to a wide open valley between two mountain ranges. Angelica kept them amused with stories that Harry had told her. On the second evening, as they as sat around the fire, they were blessed with the appearance of Harry. He flew in and sat beside Angelica on the log. Bella couldn’t help but laugh because the bird did, indeed, look hairy.
Harry chirped loudly, flapping his wings, and bobbing his head. Angelica listened intently to Harry, and, when he finally stopped, she turned to the group.
“It seems that we will run into two new friends soon. They are close, and we should meet them tomorrow.”
“You don’t know them?” Jasper asked, concerned about Bella’s safety.
“No, but Harry says they are fine. They are a brother and sister, and they seemed to have a power that allows them to shift into animals.”
“What do they shift into?” Rose asked.
Angelica turned to Harry and chirped. Harry flapped his wings, and began to sing. Once he stopped, Angelica stroked his feathered head.
“He doesn’t know, but all the other birds that hang out around the caves say that they are nice and very protective of all animals.”
“Bella, I am not sure if this is a good idea. I have read in the ancient scrolls that shape shifters are sometimes very dangerous.” Rose exclaimed. “I know we have Alice, Alec, and Angelica, but what if they shift into something from which we can’t defend you?”
Bella understood what Rose was saying, but she also knew that they might run into dangers on the quest. After all, they were traveling into a world they knew very little about; however, as much as the unknown dangers lurked out there, she knew she must go on and fulfill the prophecy. “Rose, Jasper, we must go on. I have faith in your abilities to watch out for me.”
“We will protect you with our very lives.” Jasper proclaimed.
“This I know. Please, let us get some rest; I have a feeling tomorrow is going to bring some great surprises.” Bella proposed.
The party bedded down for the night, with Jasper taking the first watch. As Bella fell asleep, her dreams were filled with the vision of a tall man with flaming red eyes, but a kind heart. His every thought, every action were filled with ways to make her happy and to know she was loved. All too soon, it was morning, and, after doing their morning routines, they were back on the trail.
The trail went through a lush green forest, and, as they started their ascent, Bella was amazed by how the trees seemed to be untouched from the destruction they had seen in other parts of the world they had seen. Looking up toward their tops, she could only imagine how old they might be.
“Lovely, aren’t they?” Angelica asked.
“Oh my, yes. I couldn’t even guess that the world had been torn apart by looking at these beautiful trees.” Bella exclaimed, as she touched the bark on each one of them.
Angelica walked over to Bella and placed her hand on top of Bella’s. “Do you feel the life force pulsing through them?”
“Not that I can tell.”
“Open your mind, and let your hand be the only thought in your head.” She explained.
Bella stopped, cleared her mind, and only thought about her hand; a few moments later, she felt the swoosh of the life of the tree. “I feel it!” Bella exclaimed.
“Every living thing in this world has a life force, and, if you truly try to listen, you can feel the force.”
Bella smiled as she thought about what Angelica said. She had been worried that the world was only filled with death and merciless beings, but she had been so wrong. If everything worked out like the prophecy had predicted, she would love ruling over this world.
Toward midday, they had crossed over the mountain, and they were, once again, in a great valley. Unlike the structures that they had run across before, which had been badly damaged by the destructive force of what the humans had caused, this area seemed untouched. Ahead, there was a tall stone structure with a few small windows on the side, but, on the top there were three tall arched windows. Jasper looked around the structure and found a door. He pushed it open. Taking a torch from his pack, he lit it, and found that there was a staircase that led to the top of the building. Feeling sure there was no danger, he walked out to the group.
“It is safe to come inside.” He announced.
Rose pulled out a torch of her own, and lit it. The group walked in and began to look around. Over in the far corner was a glass box. Inside was a book opened to a page about woman named Belle Brown Northcott, whom the structure honored.
“Who do you think she was?” Alice asked, as she read the page.
Unfortunately, over time, the page, even though it had been encased in the glass box for protection, had deteriorated to the point where only a few words remained visible.
In the other corner was a large box made of wood, with black and white slender and smooth tiles laying across the front of it. Curious about what it was, Bella placed her finger on one of the tiles, and pressed down. When she did, she heard a bell ring above her head.
Jasper looked up, and wanted to investigate how that happened, so, he began his ascent up the stairs, with the rest of the group following behind him. When they got to the top of the stairs, they were amazed to find that the room was full of metal bells, in all different sizes. There were cables attached to them, which went all the way down to the lower floor.
“What do you make of this?” Jasper asked, pointing to the cables.
“I don’t know, but they seemed to be attached to the box on the lower floor, and they seem to assist with the ringing of the bells.” Angelica answered.
“Wow, look at the view from here!” Bella exclaimed.
As the group looked out the windows, they were amazed at, not only how far they could see, but also how beautiful the mountains and valleys were. The sun was getting low in the sky, and it cast an orange glow against the mountain range. After a few moments of enjoying the view, Bella moved to the window in the back, and looked out. It was a view of an old building, with a stone sign. It was too far to read, but movement to right caught her eye. Looking toward the movement, she saw a large, brown bear walking on all fours. Beside him was a large, white horse, with a long white mane and long powerful legs.
Rose came over beside Bella. As she looked to where Bella was looking, she saw the strikingly beautiful creature. It was nothing like anything she had ever seen, and, for some reason, she wanted to get closer.
“Rose, are you okay?” Bella questioned.
“It’s breathtaking beautiful.” Rose marvelled. Something was pulling her toward the striking white horse.
“What is, Rose?”
“The white horse. It is marvelous.”
Bella wondered what was going on with Rose, because, as long as she had known her, she had never acted this way. The rest of the group came over to see what was going on, and, as Angelica looked out, she saw the bear and horse.
“Those must be who Harry was talking about. Come, let us go say hello.” Angelica proclaimed, then turned and started walking down the stairs.
“Bella, I want you to stand behind Rose and me. Alice, dear, please stay beside Bella and, Alec, flank the other side of the Bella.” Jasper instructed. “If something dangerous happens, Bella, you need to stay as far away from the fighting as possible.”
“Jasper, I can fight. I have been trained.” Bella said.
“I know, but we don’t know how strong they are, or if they have any types of magic. Until we know for sure, I must insist that you stay back.”
“Fine.” Bella huffed. She understood what Jasper was saying, but she wasn’t some fragile vase that would break easily. She had been very diligent with her instructions on hand to hand combat as well as how to use her bow and arrows.
The group proceeded down the stairs, and out of the building where Angelica was waiting for them. “Don’t be afraid, I have a feeling that great things are about to happen.” She said.
Jasper, Rose, and Angelica took their position in front, while Alice, Bella, and Alec were in the back.
The large brown bear and the tall white horse made their way toward the group. They had heard one of the bells ring. When they went outside of the cave, and changed into their animal form, they could smell and sense other beings in the area.
Emmett and his twin sister, Evelyn, were the last survivors of their race. When mankind destroyed the earth, they also caused a small insect to mutate. This newly mutated insect attacked their race, which caused their skin to fall off, and their blood to thicken. Emmett and Evelyn’s parents parents had sent them deep into the cavern, and made them promise not to come out until the end of the winter. They felt that the bitter cold would kill off the insects. The insects did die, but not until they had killed off the entire race, save for Emmett and Evelyn.
Emmett and Evelyn had been careful about who they interacted with, always siding on the side of caution, but, today, they both felt something special was about to happen.
As Rose walked toward the two animals, she couldn’t take her eyes off of the white horse. Her heart was beating so fast that she was sure that it would soon jump from her chest and run across the field.
Emmett and Evelyn came near the group and stopped, hoping that they were friendly.
When they were only a few feet away from each other, Jasper spoke for the group.
“Greetings, we have come in peace. We are on a journey, and just so happened upon your land. I am Jasper, this my sister Rose, and our friend, Angelica. Behind us is my mate, Alice, and our friend, Isabella.”
Emmett looked at Evelyn and nodded, letting her know that he was going to change into human form. He closed his eyes, and willed himself to change. Soon, he was no longer covered in brown fur and walking on all fours, but standing tall with large, muscular arms and chest. Once he had changed, he once again looked at the group. When his eyes meet Angelica, he knew that she was the one that was made by the gods just for him. Never taking his eyes off her, he moved slowly toward her, and, when he was directly in front of her, he brought a hand up, and touched the side of her jaw.
Angelica couldn’t believed that she had found her mate. All this time she was only a few days away from him, yet she lived alone, hoping for a mate. When he placed his hand on her face, she felt a warmth pulse through every cell in the body. She closed her eyes, tilted her face into his hand, and, suddenly, she felt a burst of energy. Her dress tore in the back as a pair of majestic wings sprang forth from her body.
“Oh my!” Bella exclaimed. She was so shocked to see a pair of wings appear seemingly out of nowhere.
Angelica stretched the wings out as far as they could go, and moved them up and down. As she did, she began to lift off the ground. She quit moving the wings, and floated back down back in front of Emmett, then wrapped her wings around herself and Emmett, making a cocoon of feathers. Once they were enclosed, Emmett leaned in, and brushed his lips across hers.
“My angel.” He whispered.
“My protector.” She replied.