The girl lay still, only the rapidly heaving of her chest indicated life. Az and Lily began to clean up the camp, knowing it was time to move on. A feeling of unease invaded him, causing restlessness and an itchy trigger finger over every sound or movement in the brush. He didn't trust this world, or the mixture of beings that inhabited it, and sometimes he wasn't even sure he could trust himself. He watched Lily hurriedly working, deep in thought, probably mulling over the latest ramblings of their crazy cohort. She had studied ancient traditions and languages, but what spewed forth from the young one's mouth were unknown, uttered before history acknowledged these things. Or perhaps they were of a time that had yet to occur, a glimpse of a possible future among many waiting to be pulled out of a magician's hat like a suffocating bunny. Only time will tell, but for now its lips were drawn tightly against savage teeth, driving them to answers that may or may not lie in New Promise. But that was as good a place as any to begin. All journeys have a beginning and an ending, with many stops along the way, and perhaps no one knows where they lead until they actually arrive, or die trying.
Azrael and Lily secured everything before Az effortlessly hoisted the girl from the ground and placing her in the back of the rusted, worn van they used as transport. Barely reaching 40 mph, it served it's purpose, saving them days and aching muscles, teaching them this cowardly new world had no place for useless complaints. Once upon a time he drove a silver Jag, complained about bird poop on the windshield, a tiny ding in the door, acid rain, and gas prices. Now he was grateful the floor hadn't completely rusted through on the EconoVan that really had no color, bloody with rust and blackened with fire, gray from steel and tortured by weather uncontrolled. But it saved them days and aching muscles.
The sky turned dark gray as they rolled down a road now unknown, in a town that lost it's identity, a rumbling of thunder and a roar of something else in the distance. The rain usually moved swiftly and violently across the land, wreaking havoc and rendering any moving object useless against the torrents. They would lose time, but stay dry at least; the ones moving on foot were the ones in real danger, of being washed away, beaten to death by winds and ravaged by sheets of gray rain, blinded by flashes of lightning, deafened momentarily by crashes of thunder that seemed to settle around them.
They came to a slight bend in the road and could make out a figure in the distance that appeared to be human, waving hands overhead signaling them. Lily cocked her gun on her lap just in case, hiding it under a tattered shawl. They neared the figure slowly, a man black as night, bald, yet very tall and very wide, appearing to hold no weapons, a dirty sack on the damp ground by his feet. As they pulled within ten feet of the man, Az stopped the van abruptly, sending Lily forward with a loud bump.
"Damn, Az! A little warning next time would suffice!" Lily exclaimed as she rubbed her head.
"It can't be! I thought he was...it just can't be," Az mumbled as he threw open his door and jumped out right into a puddle.
"Be careful, Az!"
"I was hoping for a ride, if you'd be so..." but the deep voice from the man black as night trailed off as recognition set in. "Well I'll be a..."
"Samson! My God, is it really you?" Azrael asked incredulously as he moved toward the formidable tower of a man before him.
"As I live and breathe, I never thought I'd see you again! How is it, Azrael?" Samson asked as he reached his friend and stuck out his hand, which was refused by Az and replaced by a bear hug. The men clapped each other on the back, staring at each other and laughing at the good fortune of finding each other again after so many wasted years. Lily uncocked and placed her gun on the floor beside her seat, jumping out of the van to better assess the scene unfolding in front of her, leaving Mad to sleep, chest heaving, in the back of the EconoVan.