Ally drew her sword and the flames burst forth from it in a blaze of glory. She held it out in front of her, then went through the motions of jabbing, swooshing, ducking, and parrying with an invisible enemy. She swung the fiery sword around until she spun around, facing the opposite direction; Joel faced her.
He shook his head. “You’ve got it all wrong.”
Ally sheathed her sword. “What do you mean?”
“You don’t control the sword. It controls you.”
“Controls me? Like, if I close my eyes, it would defeat my enemies?”
Joel sighed. “Not exactly. More like it will guide your actions if you let it.”
Ally wrinkled her forehead. “And how do I ‘let it’?”
Joel scratched his head. “I don’t exactly recall. My training was over 6000 years ago. But, the few times I’ve needed to use it, I have essentially relied not upon my own wisdom, but upon His wisdom.” Joel pointed to the sky.
“Oh, I see. Sort of like the saying in the Scriptures: Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
Joel smiled. “That’s the way He would phrase it, sure.”
“That is the way He phrased it.” Ally winked at Joel. “Now, where are we going for our honeymoon?”
“Oh yeah. Well, as I said before, I know of a place on the planet called Neptune that would make a romantic—in a brotherly way, of course—get away. So I’ve made the appropriate reservations for our honeymoon.”
“Cool,” Ally said. “How far is this Neptune planet?”
Joel chuckled. “More miles than you could possible fathom.”
“And how many miles is a ‘fathom’?”
“Oh, around 2.7 and 2.9 billion miles away, depending on where each planet is in their orbits.”
Ally couldn’t even begin to imagine, much less understand the words Joel spouted off with such ease. “Aside from the fact that I have no idea what a planet would orbit, just wow! You are right; I have no concept of how many miles that would be.”
Joel scratched his chin for a moment. “You have an idea of what a thousand miles is, don’t you?”
Ally nodded. “It is a very big number, but I have an idea how long it would be.”
“Well, if you took a 1000 mile trip, you would have to take it 270,000 times to equal one trip to Neptune from Camellia.”
Ally’s head ached from trying to grasp how far away it must be, so she changed the subject. “When do we go?”
“We could go now or anytime.”
“I’m ready for now.” Ally stood tall. “Let’s go.”
“Okay, but one note before we start out.”
Ally nodded. “Yes?”
“Whenever we go anywhere, only one of us, preferably the one that knows the way, should do the transport. That ensures we both end up at the same place together.”
“Makes sense. Especially now, since I have no clue where this Neptune you speak of exists.”
“And . . .” Joel wave his hand over his face. “You’ll need some gills where we are going.”
“Gills? Seriously?” Ally shrugged, then waved her hand over her own face, and a set of gills appeared on her neck. She struggled to breath.
Joel grabbed her arm and they vanished in a blaze of light.
Ally sucked in water on her next attempt to breath. She panicked at first, before air flooded her lungs. She sucked in more water. It passed through her neck, and her lungs filled again with air. “This is crazy!”
Joel, who watched her as he floated in the water beside her, nodded. “Not something you’ll soon forget, I’m sure.”
“No, definitely not.” Ally took in her surroundings. Surprisingly, the water was crystal clear, she figured she could see for miles. Under her lay a sea bed, dotted with various dwellings and buildings of different sizes. Indeed, a vast city lay before her eyes.
Ally froze. “Wait a minute! How am I hearing you underwater?”
Joel laughed. “It works with the same principle as in air, just with a different density. Plus, our ears were transformed, as are our feet, to work underwater.”
“My feet!” Ally glanced down. Her feet had groan much bigger, with webbing between her toes. “Wow!” Then she thought a bit. “Is there any land on this planet?”
“You’re not getting sick of the water already, are you?”
“No, no. Not at all. Just curious is all.”
Joel smiled. “Actually? Eh, no.”
“You mean the whole planet is covered with water? Epic!” Ally pointed down toward the city. “I suppose we are going down there?”
“You bet. Follow me.’ He swooshed downward like an expert swimmer. Ally, followed, though not as efficiently. She watched as details of the city came into view. “People” swam in “roads,” for lack of a better term, some wide, some more narrow. In some spots there was congestion as if people were getting on the path at the same time. As they neared the city, Joel veered toward a particular building.
They swam until they stopped before an entrance on the sea bed. Joel went in, so Ally followed.
“Merpeople.” Ally said.
“What?” Joel swam down a corridor.
“Merpeople. That’s the closest description I have for who these people remind me of.” Indeed, they swam primarily with a wide “fin” for a foot while they guided themselves with their hands. But unlike the mostly mythical creatures in Camellia—at least, no one had seen them—these Merpeople had an “ankle” joint, but a joint that allowed them to “stand” as if on a foot, or move the opposite way which enabled them to swim faster and better than even Joel could hope to.
Joel stopped at a door. “This is where I need to secure our room.” Joel waved his hand over himself and then over Ally. “I’m guessing you don’t know the language here, so that will enable you to speak with them.”
Ally nodded and then followed Joel through the doorway. A bland room met her eyes upon entering. Nothing on the walls, not even any chairs adorned the floor. Then it dawned on her—what need would people who could float in water have with chairs? And what kind of pictures would last that long under water? None that Ally could imagine.
A “man” swam into the room. “Well, hi Joel! Hey, you didn’t tell me what the occasion was for when you reserved your room. What are you here for?”
Joel grinned as he spoke. “Hi, Ralph. Me and the little lady here are on a honeymoon of sorts.”
Ralph raised an eyebrow. “’Of sorts?’ What do you have going on angel Joel? I thought you were already married?”
Joel frowned. “Nothing of the sorts that I know is going on in that mind of yours! Just helping out the little lady here.”
Ally smirked. “This ‘little lady’ does have a name.”
Joel dished out an uneasy smile to Ally. “Oh, I’m sorry. Ralph, this is Ally. Ally, this is Ralph.”
Ralph bowed. “Glad to meet your acquaintance, Ally.” He turned his attention back to Joel. “Now, what is this honeymoon about, if it isn’t what is going on in this mind of mine?”
“Well . . .” Joel cleared his throat. “It is a bit complicated to explain.”
Ralph let out a laugh. “Angels. You keep your secrets, Joel. I won’t tell, you know who.” He winked.
Joel shook his head. “Nay, nay. He knows and has approved this little outing.”
Ralph’s face fell. “What? How? Why?”
Joel chuckled. “I told you it was complicated.”
Ralph handed Joel the keys to his room as he shook his head. “Alright, if you say so.”
“See you later, Ralph.” Ally waved as the stepped into the hallway.
Joel and Ally walked down the hallway until they reached a door. Joel used the key Ralph gave him to open the door. They entered into a large-for-a-hotel room. A couple of comfy chairs sat in corners, a strange object with a big screen on it stood atop a wide dresser, and one giant bed filled the main area.
Joel swallowed. “Uh, I forgot to tell him we needed separate beds.”
“It is a rather big bed. Maybe we could still use it and just stay on our separate sides?” Ally glanced at Joel. She could tell he felt uncomfortable about the whole thing.
“You know, I don’t even need sleep. You use the bed. I’ll either sit in a chair or go out for a while.”
Alley nodded. “If you are sure you don’t need any sleep.”
He smiled. “You forget, I’m a guardian angel. That’s what I do, stand guard over individuals.”
She laughed. “Of course! And I’m not really an angel. I just happened to be married to one.” She grinned at Joel. “Sort of.”
Joel wrinkled his brow. “What do you mean, sort of?”
Ally shrugged. “Sort of married, as in, not the full definition of it.”
Joel nodded. “You mean not the full human definition of marriage. That is, the physical bond.”
Joel pointed to his face. “So what am I? Chopped liver?”
He waved his hand. “Sorry, it comes from an old Earth show.”
She shook her head. “You appear to be somewhat infatuated with Earth stuff. Do you tend to spend a lot of time there?”
He stared at the ceiling for a moment. “They are an interesting group of cultures, and quite needy. That said, it appears a lot of my time has been spent in Camellia the last few years. But early in my angel-life, I did spend a lot of time on Earth.”
“Interesting. Aside from Earth and Camellia, have you spent much time in any other worlds?”
Joel laughed. “All we need is a camera to record and broadcast this ‘interview.’”
“I assume ‘camera’ and ‘broadcast’ are more Earth terms?”
“Yep.” Joel attempted to focus. “Yes, there are an near infinite number of other worlds we could visit. No angel or human could ever visit them all, even an angel who has a very, very near infinite number of years to visit those places.”
Ally scrunched up her nose. “Near infinite? Doesn’t that mean finite?”
“Strictly speaking, yes. But I use it to denote those things that are finite in the beginning, but infinite on the back end. Sort of like the human soul is near-infinite in that it has a beginning, but no end.”
“Oh, I see.” Ally thought for a moment. “You said humans have visited these other worlds?”
“Oh yes. Don’t you recall the stories of Cole’s adventures?” Joel snapped his fingers. “Oh, that’s right. He never told those stores for fear people would seek out those alternate worlds.”
“I guess it doesn’t apply to you since you can already go to any of those worlds with merely a thought. There is a place called the ‘Dragon’s Dying Field’ in Camellia. It is where dragons tend to go to ‘die.’ When a dragon ‘dies’ there, he or she actually goes to another world, to live out a lifetime in that world. Wherever a dragon dies in that field, it opens up a portal whereby a dragon rider/guardian can go to that world. But they are the only ones who can go there, not even dragons, save when they die to the world they are in, can at will go to another world.”
Joel smiled. “Yes. And angels. You are actually the first human in history of any world who can go to another world aside from the dragon riders.”
A spark of excitement filled Ally’s soul. She realized that of all humans in the world, she had the opportunity to really get to know an angel. “I realize how this marriage can truly be a marriage.”
“Yes, it is through emotional intimacy. Tell me more about yourself. I want to know, in as much as humanly possible, about your history.”
They talked long into the night. Before Ally went to bed, she said, “Thank you, Joel. I’ve learned a lot about you. You already know pretty much everything about me. However, I think it best to not call this a marriage, even though it may be such by angelic standards. Because in nearly every other culture, marriage includes a physical joining.”
“On Earth, they do have the concept, at least in early Christian history, of a marriage without a physical joining, usually when the a couple decided to live as brother and sister. They had an emotional intimacy without the physical.”
“Hum, so we could considered ourselves married in that way, as brother and sister?”
She thought about it for a minute. “I guess we could refer to it that way, but I don’t know if others would understand that. They will assume we’ve physically joined, like Ralph.”
Joel smiled. “True, but not too many other worlds and cultures would know that I’m an angel, much less that we are angelically married. So how we present ourselves should rarely come up.”
Ally nodded. “True, so I should think of you more as a brother.”
“And I should think of you as a sister.”
Ally thought a bit more. “I like that, brother.” She smiled.
Joel flashed a smile back at her. “Well, sister, we have work to do tomorrow. You had better get to sleep.
Ally dived onto the bed and under the covers. “You don’t have to tell me twice, brother.” She giggled. She’d never been so happy as right now. She intimately knew an angel, a specific angel, Joel, her new brother, she was part of his family now. She actually looked forward to the next life, when she could spend eternity with him. Now and forevermore. She giggled to herself. Into near-infinity and beyond.