It arrived when Lechka fell ill; it came and sat on her bed. Her face cracked like the surface of an iced lake splitting apart with the first rays of sunlight after a long winter as she laughed wryly and said,
The yellow eyes gleamed as she spoke to it using her own language that we didn’t understand. She had come from the high mountains one dark day as a fierce wind snarled around the houses like a beast seeking meat. We thought she was a refugee, for there were others who had come escaping the war.
Life improved with her coming; we began to look on her as a blessing. She never spoke our tongue, but we understood each other. We reckoned she had suffered greatly in the war and did not wish to speak about it. She had the power to heal, and soon, people from other villages came to visit her. This brought prosperity. Yet we knew as much about Lechka the day she fell ill, as we did to start with.
I liked cats but that cat would not let me touch him. He hissed if I tried.
“Don’t go near him, child.” Lechka said, “He’s a tool of the Devil.”
She had used my language for the first time.
“He has come for my soul.” She wept, and told me why. When she escaped captivity from soldiers who were brutally using her, she had found us by sheer chance having no idea where she was. The generosity shown her in a village so obviously struck by poverty had overwhelmed her.
“Such kindness; how was I to repay it? I made a pact…”
I told her gently that love is the greatest richness anyone can share and that, as she had learned, we were a people who valued love above wealth. She had done what she thought was the right thing – to make us rich. We still shared our riches; it was our way, and I was not prepared to let her sacrifice on our behalf enrich the damned of hell.
I sat by Lechka and prayed to my bothers in heaven. As I prayed the cat became agitated. I knew the substances capable of undoing evil, but to obliterate a pact, I needed more. It was Michael, my namesake, who came. His light filled the room, it blinded the cat. A ray from his finger roasted it. He lifted Lechka in his arms and the power of his wings chilled me as he rose with her. I shouted my thanks.
Our village is called Place of The Guardians. We made our own pact with the angels long ago to foster goodness, and they always come when we call them. I wish Lechka had spoken earlier, learned why all the boys were given the names of angels. She could have asked for a miracle instead of a pact with evil that almost ended in the loss of her soul.
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