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Ein wonders why his skin is not white.

 

He and Rose have spent months digging through the cache of musty files and long-winded reports, and every photograph they find confirms Ein’s own experiences—Grim Angels have skin the color of ash. Ledah did. Even though Malice was incomplete, so did she. All of Hector’s experiments were pale as anything, from what Ein can tell, and every one of the original Grim Angels from the great Lorelei to Aries the Fallen had white, white skin.

 

Grim Angels have white skin. But Ein—his is a healthy earthy hue, tannish peach like that of a human or a Sprite. He does not know what to make of it.

 

And another thing—Grim Angels have black wings.

 

Every real Grim Angel, that is. That didn’t seem to be the case for Hector’s experiments, now that Ein and Rose have unearthed their data; from what he can find about Aries it seems the fallen one was a special case, as his wings were always mismatched even before he was made a Grim Angel by the gods—it was a congenital deformity. All those without such failings, all those who could call themselves true Grim Angels—had wings the color of pitch, to contrast their skin’s paleness.

 

Ein was born a Grim Angel. His own files claim this to be true; through all the tests and trials, he scored far higher than most other natural subjects, and his synchronization with Einherjar has always been perfect. (It was made for his hand; this is only appropriate.) There’s nothing that can be wrong with the numbers—this solid data is something that Hector had relied on, an element of his plan. Things that Hector found trustworthy are, ironically, some of the only things over the past thousand-odd years’ worth of records that Rose will accept as factual.

 

Ein was born a Grim Angel, and yet his wings were always pale green, never black. When he became a full Grim Angel and received his Diviner—even then—perhaps they might have become black, but he lost them at that time. He can’t know.

 

But it doesn’t feel right.

 

He has been acknowledged as a Grim Angel by angels and Grim Angels and Hector and the other Magi and even the goddess of Sprites, but—they have also claimed him to be no ordinary Grim Angel. He is too powerful to be so young, so new. To come into his power when he was still so pure.

 

“Hey, Rose—”

 

She looks up at him, frowning; surely she’s about to scold him for letting the stack in front of him sit as he stares off into space.

 

“Who am I?”

 

She folds her arms and scowls at him with concern.

 

“You’re you, Ein. That’s all that matters. Don’t start worrying about other stupid, pointless things now.”

 

That’s not what he meant—but he does not press the question. His mind has grasped at possibilities, but they are terrifying, and he might go mad if he were ever forced to learn that any were the truth.