Jehane turned her head away from La Hire and waited, eyes widening. The soldiers were moving slower and slower as the light brightened and tore.
'Glory,' Jehane said in a hoarse whisper. 'Glory, glory, glory.' She felt herself smiling broadly as St. Michel stepped down from Heaven, his gravely stern face full of light and his wings burning after-traces of colours into her eyes with their sharp pure whiteness. 'St Michel, I knew you would come.'
Yes, he said sternly, but with what she knew was love and compassion hidden beneath. I bring you warning, Jehane. He stood in the air, his beautiful form clad in the finest armour like the great lords of France, his sword naked in his hand. You will be sore wounded. You must not fear. You must not show pain. Wounds of the flesh are but little things.
Jehane stared at him, thinking of what she had seen swords do to flesh, and how she had always said she was not afraid, that her Voices had said nothing of her being wounded. She thought of the pain she had felt when she had scalded herself when cooking as a child and how grown men screamed louder than she had. It seemed suddenly like the flesh was not a thing of little import and to wound it seemed terrible.
Jehane, St Michel said, why do you shake?
'I am afraid,' she said, 'I'm sorry. Will I die?'
All flesh is grass, St Michel said, springing up and withering. But the time for death is not yet. Do not fear, Jehane.
He sheathed the thin, shining blade and reached out, his mailed fingers barely touching her cheek. The metal was warm and smooth against her flesh. Little Jehane, he said, amusement in his silvery voice. She felt her body tremble once again, but it was not fear. She gasped in astonishment as his fingers traced the lines of her face, as if he did not care that she was filthy with the day's work. He stroked her sweat-matted hair as she staggered, her eyes filling with light and flames running through her. She barely felt the great wing sweep round to support her, the feathers soft and gleaming over a thin, steely strength. Little Jehane, he said again as she sobbed and clutched at his fingers, you are not afraid.
'No,' she said, 'no. I'm not afraid.'
Good, he said, and was gone.
The sounds of the men were loud in her ears as she turned back to La Hire, still caught up in his tirade of profanities. She held up a hand and he reluctantly stopped talking rather than give up cursing.
'We must return to the fight,' she said, and smiled brilliantly. 'But don't worry. I will not sustain a mortal wound.'
He laughed at her fancies, and she smiled gently at him until he cursed her for calling bad luck upon herself. Then she obediently went out to fulfil St Michel's words.