Chapter 15 (Everin)

The angel was flying purposefully over the treetops, scanning the trail underneath as she moved. When travelers spotted her overhead, they would cheer and call out to her. Thrilled at the chance to see their hero, even in passing. Kyzella spotted a group of three travelers who matched the description she’d been given. She began to slow, opening her massive golden wings to their full length to catch the wind and decrease her speed. Kyzella was the first angel. Many speculated that her ability to produce wings just behind her shoulders was why she and her kind had been given the title of “angel” in the first place.

Kyzella slowed herself to nearly a stop in the sky overhead. She folded in her wings so that she could descend through the gap in the forest canopy that occurred above the path. She dropped to the ground before the trio with a heavy thud, landing solidly on her feet. Kyzella looked up at them, and the glowing yellow wings faded out of existence. Everin realized that they hadn’t been real, physical wings – they were made from some kind of golden light.

Everin studied the angel. She was tall and athletic, with olive skin and short hair that fell to her shoulders. She wore a white robe and was definitely older than Ichoron, but still fairly young. She couldn’t have been older than thirty. Her aura was surprisingly intense, with deep shades of red and blue shimmering around her form.

Kyzella spoke. “You match the description of Everin Thornwood. I’ve been sent here to take you into custody and to eliminate these criminals you’ve been traveling with.” Her voice was monotone – completely serious.

“Everin Thornwood?” he managed to say with what he thought was a convincing amount of confusion. “I think you’ve got the wrong person.”

Kyzella raised an eyebrow. “Is that so? Well, I’ll be taking you into custody anyways, just to be sure. Please, tell your companions to lay down their weapons, and I’ll kill them quickly.” She eyed the swords hanging from Cora’s hip and attached to Ford’s pack.

His heart had begun hammering in his chest. He’d heard plenty of stories about angels brutally executing opponents on a battlefield. The stories had never bothered him, but now that his friends were on the receiving end of Kyzella’s supernatural powers, the seriousness of the situation hit him like a sack of bricks.

“You’d kill two innocent citizens of Allomoria?” Everin asked.

“I’m acting under orders. I’m justified as long as there’s a chance that they’re the deserters I’m after.” Her confidence didn’t waver.

Ford sighed. “It was a good try, Everin,” he said as he set his pack down and unstrapped the sword. He gripped it in both hands and turned to confront the angel. Everin saw that Cora had done the same, unsheathing her blade and facing their opponent.

“It’s not going to be that easy to kill us,” she said. Her voice sounded confident, but Everin could see that both her aura and Ford’s were shining with blindingly bright green energy.

The angel frowned. “You three would really defy me. Do you not know what I’m capable of?”

“We don’t care.” Ford replied. Kyzella rolled her eyes. Everin studied her aura carefully. The red and blue hadn’t faded. Despite her indifferent demeanor, she had some serious emotional turbulence stirring within her.

“Fine,” she said. “I didn’t want to make a scene in front of these people, but you leave me no choice. I suppose this will give them a reminder of what happens when you desert from your king’s army.” Everin had forgotten about the two families up the road. All nine travelers stood transfixed, watching the dialogue unfold. Everin’s attention was drawn back to the angel as she sprang into action.

Bright yellow light appeared around Kyzella’s right palm. A long sword made of gold energy flared into existence in her hand. Swiftly, she sprinted towards Cora, easily closing the distance between them. Cora barely had time to lift her sword in front of her face before the angel’s blade came swinging down. There was a crash as Cora managed to narrowly deflect Kyzella’s sword. The weapon may have been made out of light, but the impact was very real. Cora’s sword was nearly knocked from her hands. She stumbled backwards several steps, falling onto her backside. Everin saw that the steel of her sword was glowing red-hot where it had made contact with Kyzella’s blade.

The angel crouched as she prepared to deliver a second, lethal blow.

“No!” Ford screamed as he ran forward, lunging with sword to stab at her left side, which was exposed. Before Ford’s blade could land, Kyzella sensed him. More light blossomed around her left forearm, and a round shield made of the same yellow light materialized. The angel held up the shield to block Ford’s attack, and his blade bounced harmlessly off the glowing circle.

Kyzella whirled to face him. Everin saw her aura flare with blood-red fury. Ford’s aura blazed with fearful green light as the angel’s eyes locked onto him. Everin gazed at the emerald energy. There was so much of it. It would be incredibly painful to experience all of Ford’s fear, but it was something he was more than willing to do if it would stop Kyzella. No, that wasn’t the problem. Frustrated, Everin looked at his hands. How could he trust himself? When he lost control over the energy as soon as he released it, how could he risk doing more harm than good?

Ford pointed his sword at Kyzella as he slowly backed away from her. His grip on the weapon was so tight that Everin could see the blade quivering. Kyzella ran towards him, preparing to deliver a brutal downward slash. Ford dove out of the way at the last second, rolling clumsily in the dirt path before scrambling back to his feet. He resumed his stance, angling his sword toward the angel.

“Everin?” he shouted between panting breaths. “Remember what we talked about!”

Everin nodded, mostly to himself. The energy was there. Ford’s fear was palpable. Cora was climbing to her feet beside Everin. Jade-green light blossomed all around her as well. Everin could feel the energy reaching for him. It wanted to be let inside, but when he tried to lower his walls, he found that he couldn’t. Some unconscious hesitation prevented him from taking in the energy.

Kyzella snarled as she turned to face Ford. She didn’t charge at him again. Smart. Instead, she raised her shield and slowly edged towards him. He was a trapped animal. She had the advantage, and she knew it. Ford slowly shuffled backwards, trying to stay just out of her sword’s reach. In one fluid motion, she lunged forward and swiped sideways. As her blade moved through the air, it flared with an even brighter light. The blade grew another foot in length, suddenly putting Ford within reach.

The shining weapon smashed into the base of Ford’s blade. The force of Kyzella’s swing plus the added leverage that the longer blade gave her was enough to knock the sword clean out of Ford’s hands. His weapon flew through the air and disappeared into the trees off the side of the road.

“Everin! Please!” Ford cried. Panic was pouring off his body in waves of iridescent light.

He jumped back from the angel, but she knew that she’d won. Her sword and shield fizzled out of existence. In their place, a long spear appeared with a flash of yellow light. She angled the point of her new weapon directly at Ford’s heart.

“Stop it! Hey! Over here!” Cora screamed in an attempt to distract the angel, but Kyzella didn’t even look in her direction.

Everin was terrified, even without absorbing any fear. His heart pounded in his chest. Time seemed to slow down as he saw Kyzella slowly bend her knees, preparing to pounce. If he didn’t do anything, Ford was going to die. He was a failure when he acted and a failure when he failed to act. Everin looked at Cora and back at Ford. They were clearly suffering. In fear for their lives. He saw Kyzella’s legs start to straighten as she prepared to lunge forward and deliver her killing blow. Ford was going to die, and it would be his fault.

No. Not again.

Never again.

The thought raced through Everin’s mind, tearing down his walls as it went. Cora was closer to Everin, so he siphoned her aura. The green light flooded into Everin’s body, faster than he’d ever let it in before. The fear hit him hard and fast. His heart jumped to life and blood began to pound in his ears. He gasped as it felt like Cora’s fear slapped him across the face.  He maintained control, however. He focused the frantic energy into his right arm and raised it skyward.

A massive green lightning bolt erupted from his fingertips. It arced overhead and flashed with a bright, searing light. Just as the bolt of energy disappeared, an earsplitting crack of thunder rolled through the path. Kyzella ducked at the sound, surprised. Everin grinned as the effects of Cora’s fear cleared from his head. He’d been able to release his entire store of energy in a single bolt to produce an actual thunderclap. Maybe it was possible to control these abilities.

Kyzella blinked her eyes, recovering from the blinding flash. When she did, she turned her gaze on Everin.

“Ah, now I see why McCarthy sent me to collect you. You’re another experiment.” She grinned widely.

Everin only heard a single word she said. “McCarthy? What do you know about McCarthy?” he shouted.

Kyzella licked her lips. “Plenty. But you’ll find out soon enough – once he puts you to use.”

Everin yelled, “Ford, get away!” The boy complied, running away from the angel to stand behind Everin. As he moved, Everin absorbed the boy’s energy. His fear was just as extreme as Cora’s, maybe even worse. For a moment, Everin forgot where he was. He saw the monstrous angel wielding her glowing spear, and his throat tightened. He turned to run, but then regained control. He staved off the terror and he raised his hands towards Kyzella. He exhaled and cast a net of lightning into the space before him.

Green sparks zigzagged through the air, moving in a dozen directions. Cora and Ford were well behind him, being sure to stay out of range. In an instant, Kyzella’s spear had vanished. She threw her hands up and a wall of golden light materialized in front of her. Several bolts of lightning collided with the wall. It flashed brilliantly at every impact, absorbing the energy.

Once Everin’s lightning had disappeared, Kyzella pulled her palms off her wall and let it fade away. She summoned her sword and spear and began to charge towards him. The insanity of Everin’s fear had dropped down a notch after he used some of the energy from Ford. However, seeing the sneering angel racing towards him, sword raised, was more than enough to horrify Everin. Instinctively, he raised his hands. A streak of lightning raced from each one. The lines of green energy crackled as they tore through the air towards Kyzella.

The angel rolled to the side, avoiding the attack. She rose, unharmed, sword and shield shimmering to life in her hands again. Everin quailed. His reserves of energy from Ford were quickly diminishing. Kyzella ran at him again. He released another flash of lightning to keep her at bay.

He only had enough energy to keep her away for another few moments. Why didn’t she just re-summon her spear of light and throw it at him, he wondered. He could keep her at a distance with the lightning, but he was powerless to stop a projectile. Then, it hit him. Anything that Kyzella created out of light, her wings, her sword, her spear, they all needed to be in constant contact with her body. If she let go, like she did with her wall, then they would fade away. It was comforting to know that her powers had limits, but Everin was sure that she was plenty dangerous, even with those restrictions.

Another advantage he had was that Kyzella wouldn’t kill him. She’d been sent here to collect him, which meant he was needed alive. Maimed, perhaps, but alive. He couldn’t say the same for Cora and Ford, though. He could sense their fear regenerating behind him, but it would be minutes before they’d produced enough energy for him to use.

Kyzella leapt into motion again. This time; however, she ran towards Everin’s left. Belatedly, he realized that she was going after Cora and Ford. Ford stood behind the girl as she shakily held the sword before her in a feeble attempt to ward off the oncoming attack.

“No! Not them!” Everin shouted.

He ripped a bolt of lightning through the empty space between Kyzella and his friends. The bolt came dangerously close to Cora and Ford, but it didn’t touch them. The angel sidestepped out of the bolt’s path, turning her attention back to Everin. She dashed towards him, golden wings appeared behind her and gave a powerful flap, sending her flying into the air.

As she came swooping down towards him, Everin cried out in terror. He leapt backwards and instinctively threw of a web of lightning between himself and the angel. Kyzella altered her course at the last second, landing a few yards from her target. Everin steadied himself and felt a sickening realization. He was out of Cora and Ford’s fear. The nearest onlookers stood hundreds of yards away. This meant that Kyzella’s raw emotions were the only source of energy within reach.

Everin eyed her aura with trepidation. She had rage and misery, and she had a lot of both. He’d had more experience handling anger before, so Everin let the crimson energy flow from Kyzella and into his body. The angel didn’t appear to immediately notice it as she rose from the crouch that she’d landed in. She circled around Everin, wary of another lightning strike.

Everin’s thoughts were chaos. A bare, primitive hatred coursed through him. He wanted to lash out at anything, at anyone. He fought furiously to keep his anger centered on the angel before him and not on Cora and Ford. Everin’s muscles tightened as he clenched his hands into fists. He could feel the rage boiling over. There was so much of it. The hatred threatened to consume him. There was something or someone that Kyzella hated with a single-minded focus. Everin struggled to turn the focus of that hatred back on the angel. He let the heat gather in his fists before finally setting it free.

Everin roared as he hurled the fireballs at Kyzella. Surprised by the sudden change in tactics, she barely had time to summon her shield. Everin flung several orbs of blazing energy at her. Like the wall had earlier, the shield flashed with white light whenever a ball of flame struck it, but none of the fire did any lasting damage. That is, until a ball of flame bounced low, skimming underneath the shield.

The ball exploded when it crashed into her shin. The angel gasped in pain as she retreated. Her white robes were singed, but the flames quickly dissipated. He hadn’t done any real damage, but at least he new now that she could be hurt. Thrilled with landing a hit, and fueled by her relentless fury, Everin took a step towards Kyzella. He wound up and swung his arm forward, casting a wall of fire towards the angel.

Her shield disappeared and the golden wall reemerged, protecting her from the flames. When the fire was gone, she let the wall fade away and examined her opponent. Everin knew he looked drained. The last of the red energy had been depleted from his body. Kyzella’s anger had burned up even faster than Galimus’s had when Everin was fighting the ghosts. Without that burning insanity driving him forwards and invigorating his muscles, Everin was burnt out. He swayed on his feet.

Kyzella sensed his weakness. Drained of her anger, she was cold and calculating. The angel shuffled forwards, keeping her re-summoned shield held high. Her sword faded into existence in her other hand.

“You’ve proven to be peskier than I expected,” she chided. “I can’t do any permanent damage, but I’m going to have to incapacitate you to the point that you won’t cause me any more trouble today. Maybe I’ll take out your legs.”

Everin didn’t respond as she came ever closer with her sword. He couldn’t think of anything to say. All that he was focused on was the ominous blue light radiating from Kyzella. There was so much more of it than had been on Gamah when he’d absorbed her sadness. Suffering in its purest form. Everin could feel the energy reaching for him, ready to be channeled, and he grimaced at the thought of experiencing all the angel’s sorrow. Channeling someone’s sadness was a much more intense and personal experience than absorbing their fear or even their anger.

Kyzella continued to creep forward, her shield at the ready in case Everin created any more flames. Everin slowly backed away. He was ready when Kyzella swiped low and fast at his legs. He jumped backwards, giving extra space for the lengthening of the blade, as he’d seen Kyzella use the same trick on Ford. He danced around her first attack but wasn’t ready for the follow up. As Kyzella had swung the blade in her right hand, her shield vanished to be replaced with another glowing sword. She swiped at Everin with the new blade. She held back, so that she didn’t cut clean through him, but the weapon still nicked his upper arm.

White-hot pain exploded where the solid light touched Everin’s skin. He screamed and fell backwards. Distantly, he thought he heard concerned shouts from Cora and Ford, but he was too focused on the agony radiating from his right arm. Kyzella stepped forward, sword in hand. She wound up, preparing to administer another painful wound. There was no more time to think, Everin pulled down his walls and let the deep blue energy course from the angel’s body into his own.

The pain was all-consuming. Not a physical pain like the burning in his arm. Instead, it was a hopeless, miserable pain that told him everything in the world was wrong and would never be right ever again. His throat tightened, and his eyes began to water from the harshness of the sorrowful energy. Everin just wanted to curl into a ball and wait for it to go away. He didn’t, though. He was used to this type of suffering. He knew it well, in fact. He also knew that, however much it hurt, he could keep fighting through the pain.

Kyzella’s shining blade slashed down towards his shins. Everin reflexively raised his hand, and a square of blue light shimmered into existence between his legs and the angel’s blade. Kyzella’s sword glanced off the barrier of energy. Everin let it fizzle away as he jumped to his feet. Everin could tell that she was surprised at his latest demonstration of power, but she didn’t say anything. Truthfully, Everin was surprised as well. He was acting more through some innate instinct rather than a willful control of the energy.

The indigo energy made Everin’s chest hurt the longer he held it inside himself. It was an aching deep under his ribs – the somatic symptoms of heartbreak. Kyzella raised an arm to jab at him with her sword again, but Everin summoned another field of blue energy. This one materialized inches in front of the angel. Everin pushed his hand forward, and the square of light moved forth, crashing into Kyzella and knocking her off her feet. Everin waved his hand, and the blue energy faded away.

He still felt incredibly sad. Twice, he’d released some of the blue aura, and he’d hardly expended any of Kyzella’s energy. The power of the sorrow he’d absorbed terrified him. It was so vast. If Everin hadn’t spent the past year immersed in these same emotions, he would’ve drowned in its intensity. As it was, he let the tears roll down his face as he pushed the misery down into the depths of his mind, where the sting wasn’t so sharp.

Kyzella gave him a look of disdain. “Are you crying?” She flashed her teeth in a malicious grin. “For a second, I thought you might actually prove a tough opponent. I guess I was wrong. Your weakness is beginning to show.”

Everin didn’t answer her. Instead, he channeled more of the azure energy. He reached out his hands, and a thick strand of blue light extended from each arm. The lines lengthened, forming twenty-yard-long extensions of his limbs. The blue arms snaked forward and reached for the angel. Her eyes widened as she saw Everin’s sapphire energy racing for her.

Instantly, golden wings appeared on her back. She attempted to take flight, but Everin was too fast. His tentacles of light circled around the angel. White sparks flew where they touched her wings, but the blue energy was unyielding. Everin squeezed the angel tighter. Her wings vanished under the pressure.

“What is this?” she shouted.

Again, Everin didn’t answer. Instead, he squeezed his fists harder. The grip of the coils of blue light around the angel tightened even more. He raised his arms. The currents of blue light flowing from his limbs mirrored his movements, lifting Kyzella several feet into the air. Without hesitation, Everin swung his arms down, bringing the angel crashing into the dirt path. She cried out in pain from the impact.

A sword of golden light appeared on one of her hands. Its light wasn’t as bright as it had been just a few moments earlier. Her arms were pinned to her sides by the coils of melancholy energy, but she still managed to awkwardly slash at the blue tentacles that ensnared her. There were bright flashes of white as the two manifestations of solid energy crashed into each other, but Everin’s tentacles didn’t relinquish their grip. He swung Kyzella into the trunk of a tree just off the side of the path. The impact was so great that leaves were shaken free from the upper branches. Everin raised Kyzella and smashed her back into the ground again. Her head snapped back and slammed into the dirt. The sword faded from her hand.

Everin cut off the flow of energy, containing the rest of the sorrow in his body. He’d only burned through half of what he’d absorbed from the angel. She lay on her back a few yards away. Everin purposefully strode up to her.

“What do you know about McCarthy Loxborne?” he demanded.

The angel was grimacing in pain, eyes screwed shut. She opened them and managed to focus on Everin. “He’s a monster, but he’s the one who gave you those powers. He’s the one who made you into an angel, just like me.” She managed a grin.

Everin’s blood ran cold at her words. He was an angel. McCarthy had turned him into an angel.

Kyzella continued, “sorry, kid. It’s too late to take away your abilities now. You’re destined to become one of King Valen’s war machines.”

Everin shook his head furiously. “No. No! That can’t be true!” He wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince Kyzella or himself.

The angel didn’t answer. She just looked up at Everin from where she lay.

“Why? Why did McCarthy do this to me?” Everin screamed at her.

She shook her head. “It’s not for me to say.”

Everin snapped. “Tell me!” he demanded. “Why give me these powers? Why let me see these auras? Tell me everything you know, right now!”

He held his hand up threateningly. Malevolent blue energy began to pool in his palm. He wound up and swung his arm forward, extending forward another arm of blue light that crashed into the side of Kyzella’s face. Her head was jerked to the side by the force of the strike. Her eyes dipped out of focus momentarily. Blood began to flow from one of her nostrils.

“Tell me about McCarthy,” he growled.

He raised his hand to strike the angel again, but a cry from Cora stopped him.

“Everin, stop! You’ll kill her!”

He paused and turned to look at Cora. She and Ford had been standing several yards away, hiding behind Cora’s sword, as the fight had gone on.

He heard a rustling sound behind him. Everin snapped his head back towards Kyzella. In the brief seconds that he’d looked away, she’d climbed to her feet. She sprinted away from him.

“No!” Desperation cracked his voice.

Everin extended his arms of blue energy forward, but the angel was fast, even when injured. Golden wings blossomed across her back. Just like her sword the last time she’d summoned it, their golden light was diminished. The wings flickered in and out of existence for a moment before becoming solid. Once they were established, Kyzella hurriedly flapped them and pushed herself into the air.

She was getting away. Everin screamed. He raised his hands and poured the rest of his pent-up energy into them. Beams of blue light exploded from his palms and lanced through the sky. Kyzella ducked and rolled through the air, avoiding the streaks of energy. Everin burned through the rest of the sadness that he’d absorbed, failing to land a hit on the fleeing angel. Soon, she was nothing more than a speck in the sky overhead. Glowing wings carrying her away to safety.

With Kyzella’s misery out of his system, Everin fell to all fours. The emotional pain didn’t stop. It was his own that he felt now. He’d let her get away. He’d let his one source of information on the man who killed his parents get away. He’d failed again.

Next chapter:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s