“In a sense.” Orsala continued without further explanation. “Mikhael gave his daughters the gift of strategy. Sadly, not a developed gift for far too long. It was not as respected as some of the others.”
“Irina revere creation and prophecy. Seeing the connections between things is not creative. It is, however, one of the more potent offensive gifts that we have learned to wield.”
“These are also not exclusive. After so many generations, our blood has mixed. So Sari exhibits some of Mikhael’s blood traits, though her primary talent comes from Ariel.”
“Those of Ariel’s blood exhibit elemental magic. He was the oldest of the cardinal angels. Some songs say he was present with the Creator at the dawn of our world, though we have no way of knowing this. Ariel’s children can control the elements to varying degrees. Primarily wood and metal. In the past, Irina of Ariel’s blood were our chief architects and builders. Very highly respected.”
“Okay. By my count, that’s six angels.”
“So who was the seventh?”
Orsala leaned forward and peered into Ava’s eyes. “The seventh was Leoc, the seer. And Leoc, giver of visions and bearer of prophecy, returned to the heavens, but his daughters bear his mark, the mark of the seer…”
Ava’s skin began to prickle. She could feel the swell of power coming from the old woman.
“…though their eyes now glimmer only faintly with their father’s gift.”
Her heart beat a rapid rhythm as the whispers in her mind grew louder.
“Leoc’s daughters are seers?” she whispered. “They have… visions?”
“And golden eyes, Ava. Angelic eyes.”
The images she’d seen in Jaron’s office flipped through her mind.
Utter black. Pain. Despair.
Two dark-haired children. A girl with golden eyes, laughing as butterflies swirled around her. A boy, staring… The ink-black jaguar curled around the children protectively as a wolf and a tiger paced behind. The tiger bent to the girl, opening his mouth. The great beast closed his jaw around the girl’s nape gently as she continued to smile and pet its cheek. A great circle rose in the sky, like a sun twisted with gold and silver. Higher and higher it rose, until the sun faded away to stars, a million scattered points of light dotting the heavens, dancing in concert to a growing song.
“I show you what has been. What will be. And what could be,” Ava whispered Jaron’s words. “Do not fear the darkness.”
Orsala’s voice came as if Ava was deep underwater. “Tell me, Ava. Do you see visions?”
She couldn’t speak. Did she? Or was that something that Jaron had projected to her mind? Could angels do that?
“Your eyes are gold, Ava. To human eyes, they would seem only a beautiful light brown, but they’re not. I haven’t seen eyes like that since I was a child. They belonged to the oldest woman in my village. A daughter of Leoc who was very, very strong.”
“I don’t know…,” Ava whispered. “I don’t know what I see.”
She didn’t. She only knew that she needed to get away from Orsala’s piercing gaze. The darkness hovered at the edge of her mind, and the frightening whispers grew in strength.
Orsala didn’t hear them. The old woman leaned forward and put her fingers on Ava’s temples. At her touch, Ava fell calm.
“Tell me what you see with your golden eyes, Ava, daughter of Leoc.”