Chapter 371: Raphael and His Tailor

    Chapter 371: Raphael and His Tailor

    What happened next was simple; a ninth level Adept had no trouble dealing with the normal security - little more effort than lifting a finger. Lan Jue didn't even need to enter the room. He urged his electric Discipline through a nearby outlet, shorting out all of the equipment within. At the very least, all of their surveillance footage for the day was lost.

    It was quick, and quiet. Those in the shop were none the wiser. Still, they'd left a mess and wanted to vacate as soon as possible. They returned to the third floor.

    Raphael was still there. He was trying on clothes while chatting with the tailor. She was a woman who looked to be in her thirties. Her long black hair was stark against a white blouse with the sleeves rolled up. Agile fingers pulled her crimped hair back in to a pony tail, accentuating her long pale neck.

    Lan Jue and Zhou Qianlin watched from a distance. Raphael and the tailor seemed well acquainted. They would laugh together from time to time. She swatted at his shoulder from some comment he'd made.

    One constant among the Archangels was their beauty. Each one of them looked as though they were sculpted by the hand of God himself. They certainly didn't have to try in order to attract attention, especially from women.

    Raphael had replaced his outfit with a pale yellow three-piece suit, purple shirt and white tie. He looked like Spring, given flesh.

    Lan Jue couldn't help but smirk. "This guy, desperately trying to act the young man. Fresh colors won't hide his age. It looks like he and the Gourmet share the same taste in tailors."

    Qianlin blinked at him. "You mean the Gourmet and the Seamstress...?"

    Lan Jue nodded. "They made it official not long ago. I'll bring you along when they hold the wedding. 1"

    "Great! So, when do we make out move?" Qianlin nervously said.

    Lan Jue produced two butterfly masks he'd picked up while shopping, and handed one to Qianlin. "Soon."

    Zhou Qianlin's face reddened. "Should we..."

    Her companion chortled, but did steal a glance at her delicate lips. "It won't be necessary to handle Raphael. Let's go, he's in for a surprise."


    Raphael's appreciation for this store wasn't simply because of the well-tailored clothes, but clearly involved the tailor - Julie. She was famous in the Holy City. In fact, Raphael wasn't the only one interested in her, for Gabriel had also expressed some interest. In the end, Raphael had been more direct and more charming.

    It was obvious to everyone that this was not Raphael's first lover, or his last. Archangels were always in demand, and the only thing that mattered was bliss in the moment.

    "Mh. Yes, very good. It's a little young, but it'll be suitable during springtime." Julie looked him over with a small smile.

    This was what Raphael appreciated about her. Man or women, someone who took pride in their work was to be respected.

    Julie could feel his burning gaze on her. She raised her head, just as Raphael leaned down to plant a kiss on her lips. His deep voice whispered, "What would you say about spending a little private time? Just to clear our heads."

    The tailor's face reddened slightly, and she gently bumped a fist against his chest. "What sort of Archangel are you? It's the middle of the day, you aren't afraid of upsetting the Father?"

    Raphael smiled disarmingly. "How's that? We aren't in the Cathedral. And you're my girl, there's nothing wrong with this. 'We love because He first loved us'; Book of John, chapter four verse sixteen. My affection for you comes from the heart, and thus the body yearns!"

    Julie slipped from his grasp, but her expression showed that his words were working. Raphael didn't insist - he enjoyed the chase. He was a mature adult, and patience was a virtue.

    The Archangel took another look at his suit. Julie had done a fine job, she was very familiar with his dimensions. Her suits were always perfectly fitted.

    "Hello. I'm so sorry to trouble you, but is this shop open for business?" A pleasing voice interrupted their exchange.

    Both Raphael and Julie swung their eyes to the door. The tailor's face was no longer red, and she smiled amicably. However, a strange look came over her when she saw who'd addressed them. They were certainly a strange couple, these two. Both had the bottom parts of their face hidden behind a face-mask.

    Raphael scowled in irritation. "It's too early for Halloween, and this isn't a costume shop."

    A gentle titter came from the woman. "No it's not, but we felt like having a little fun. It doesn't change our need for a new wardrobe."

    Julie approached, full of professionalism. "Absolutely, please come in. Please don't worry, we take pains to ensure completely anonymity of our customers."

    Raphael said nothing further. Instead, he busied himself with admiring the suit. His plan was to return to the Cathedral wearing it, to make the other Archangels jealous. The Citadel imposed very few restrictions on the Archangels. They were often out and about integrating with the populace and, although they were devout, details tended to go unnoticed when they weren't under the Pontiff's watchful eye.

    "I heard that the men of Reims were all very gentlemanly. Is that true?" It was the man who'd spoken this time. His voice sounded hoarse.

    Julie continued with the small talk. "Oh, that must mean you aren't from here. I can't hear an accent, though."

    The couple slowly traipsed closer their way. The man laughed again. "We're not from here. I was just curious whether His Excellency Raphael, the great Archangel of Healing, cared whether you lived or died."

    Raphael had just been preparing to go, when he stopped in his tracks. His face changed suddenly, and grew dark with anger. However, before he could react, a milky white light enveloped Julie and separated her from the others. Shock was written clear on the tailor's face, but in a testament to her character she remained calm.

    The angel's skin took on a radiant, divine glow. From beneath his feet arose a soothing pale light. But the murder in his eyes was anything but holy. He fixed the masked man with a cold stare. His deep voice filled the shop. "That is not a very funny joke."

    He hadn't felt anything menacing since their pair had entered Julie's store. Neither of them let off an aura, either. More importantly, however, was the fact that they stood in the near center of Reims. This was the home of the Pontiff's Citadel, with all of the organizations most powerful players minutes away - including the Pontiff himself. No Adept would dare make trouble here, and the normal folk were all strict adherents to their religion. Using belief as a means of control worked better than Skyfire Avenue's methods by a large margin.

    Lan Jue, of course the man behind the mask, chuckled dismissively. "My time is precious, and I wouldn't want to waste it making jokes about His Excellency. Now, if the Lord Raphael does indeed care for the life of this beautiful woman, we ask that you seal your Discipline and take a walk with us."

    Raphael was equal parts stunned and infuriated. "Do you think you can threaten me with this? Since you seem to know who I am, you should know this isn't going to end well for you."

    Lan Jue looked at Julie, and grunted. "It appears His Excellency the Archangel isn't as fond of you as he lets on. He isn't willing to make any sort of exchange."

    Julie's calm exterior never cracked. "None of this instigation is necessary. I never wanted to bring any harm to him - Raphael, go. They're here for you, just leave me here. Go!" There was an almost fervent air about her, like Raphael had completely brainwashed her.

    Raphael had indeed been prepared to leave, but her words touched him. His mind reflected on the... benefits of her company. Pretty things were as transient as the clouds, but his affection was deeper for her than for any of his former lovers. Perhaps he could love this woman, until she grew old.

    That split-second of hesitation was all that the pair needed. The man waved his right hand, the world around them began to swirl nauseatingly. Raphael felt a strange sensation race through him, as up become down and left became right. Even his Discipline was writhing and twisting inside him like a ball of worms.

    What power was this? Raphael turned pale with fright, for right then he could feel that both his attackers were stronger than he. Under circumstances like this, he had but one recourse. His Light Discipline flooded through him and burst forth as he prepared to flee.

    In the end, his own life was the most important. All vestiges of chivalry and valor were gone. He was already thinking about revenge, not how to save his 'beloved.'

    Whoosh! Raphael rushed out of the tailor's as fast as he could. Although Julie's pleas had been true and impassioned, her face fell when she saw him flee with no thought for her.

    1. In China, the marriage process is different than you might expect. It's a long, laborious celebration laden with tradition and ceremony. It BEGINS with you and your spouse signing the wedding papers. From that point on, you're legally married. However, the actual wedding celebration won't occur for another six months to a year in some cases (seven months for mine). During that time all the preparations are made for the wedding, parties are held, groomsmen and bridesmaids carefully selected, and ultimately a date settled upon by your local astronomer.
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