Chapter 29 (Everin)

Everin leapt over to where Cora and Ford lay.

“Hey! Guys! You need to wake up. Now!”

They both slowly stirred from their sleep. It wasn’t until the building shook again that they realized the urgency of the situation. Ford bolted upright.

“What was that?” he demanded.

Everin pointed to the window. “The angels are here.”

Cora and Ford sprinted to the window to join Everin. They looked outside. There was a muscular figure clad in shiny alumin armor standing in the garden before the monastery’s entrance. A visor was pulled down over his face, but his arms were crossed in a gesture of annoyance. That would be Ichoron. Even with the visor, Everin recognized him from the royal procession several days earlier.

Next to Ichoron was a short woman with a dark complexion. She looked to be a few years older than Ichoron but wasn’t as old as Kyzella. The corners of her mouth twisted upward into an impish smirk. By process of elimination, that had to be Saphine, the second angel. She raised an arm towards the building. Her hand glowed with blue light before a beam of energy erupted from her palm. It was eerily similar to the beams of sapphire energy that Everin had shot at Kyzella as she’d made her escape. The blue light crashed into the side of the building, sending wood splinters flying from the point of impact. Everin felt the entire structure shake again with the force of Saphine’s blast.

Overhead, Kyzella circled the monastery, aloft on golden wings.

“Bring us Everin Thornwood, or face punishment of death!” She cried.

Everin hurriedly backed away from the window. A sinking feeling entered his stomach. He was trapped. There was no way he could slip by three angels, and they seemed prepared to bring the whole monastery down if he didn’t show himself soon.

Everin tried to consider his options, but none of them were appealing. It seemed like all there was left for him to do was to face the angels and try to surprise them somehow to give himself enough time to escape.

“You two stay here,” he said to Cora and Ford.

“What? Everin we can’t just sit here while they capture you,” Cora said.

Everin shook his head. “Cora, I appreciate how much you want to help. That’s always been the best thing about you. But these are angels – the three most powerful beings in Allomoria. I mean this in the best possible way, but there’s nothing you can do against them.”

Cora frowned, visibly distraught at her own inability to help.

A monk burst into the room. Everin recognized her as Castro.

“Everin, what’s going on? You have a lot to explain and not a lot of time to do it.”

Everin started to open his mouth, but he didn’t have a clue what to say. He felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Cora.

“Do what you need to do. Try to distract the angels or something. I’ll explain everything to Castro.”

Everin nodded to his friend. She tried to give an encouraging smile back. He turned away, running past the monk and into the hall. Everin leapt down the stairwell. The ground floor of the monastery was chaos. Monks were shouting and running in all directions. As Everin made his way to the front, one of them stopped him.

“What’s going on? Why have the angels come here?” he demanded.

Everin tried to gently push him aside. “I’m going to deal with the angels. Please, just make sure my friends stay safe.” He didn’t want to say it out loud, but in his head, he was beginning to realize that there was a good chance he would be captured or even killed in this confrontation.

The monk nodded and let him pass. Everin raced to the double doors at the entrance of the monastery. He pushed them open and faced the angels.

“I’m here!” he shouted. “Leave the monastery alone.”

Saphine and Ichoron looked his way. Kyzella slowly drifted downward to join them. Saphine let the blazing blue light around her hands fade when she saw that Everin had presented himself. She smiled.

“See, I told you that healer gave us good information,” she said to her partners.

“Healer?” Everin asked.

Saphine grinned maniacally. “We heard reports of a fourth angel appearing in Thistleton and that he’d stayed with a healer in that city, so we tracked her down. She wasn’t too keen on telling us where you’d gone. That is, until we threatened her boy. What was the kid’s name again? Delvin? Dellan? Anyways, she told exactly where we could expect to find you.”

Everin didn’t want to imagine what that interaction must have been like for Edoll and her son.

“What do you want?” he asked.

“The same thing that I wanted last time,” Kyzella spoke. “Only I’ve brought reinforcements with me now. You’re going to come with us to our master. You can either do it peacefully, or we’ll make you come with us.”

Everin’s mind raced. Their master? That had to be McCarthy. He wanted to find the man, but it would be on his terms. He couldn’t imagine a worse fate than being dragged helplessly to Doronhine at the mercy the man who’d taken his life from him. No, he would have to fight. He would have to fight and hope for a miracle.

Instead of answering Kyzella’s question, Everin began searching for energy to absorb. There was plenty of green energy from the monks in the building behind him, but he needed more control here. He had one chance to catch the angels by surprise, and he needed to take full advantage of it. The only non-green auras came from the three angels. Their auras were unique, but they all consisted of nasty combinations of blood-red anger mottled with sorrowful blue. Whoever the angels were, they really were miserable.

Everin reached for Kyzella’s anger. Hers glowed the brightest, presumably due to her rage at being beaten by him before. Everin braced himself as the hungry red light began to flow from Kyzella’s frame and into his own body. He could feel his heart start to pound furiously. A metallic taste entered his mouth, and he felt sick as his stomach twisted itself in knots. Kyzella’s anger was potent. He felt blood rush to his face. The time for subtlety had passed. Everin snarled as he swiped his hand forward, casting a wave of flames toward the three angels.

Kyzella threw of a wall of golden light in front of her, blocking the flames. With unnaturally quick reflexes, Ichoron tackled Saphine, pushing them both to the ground. The fire passed over the two angels. Everin took advantage of the opportunity to unload the rest of the crimson energy he held within himself. He hurled two fireballs at the angels on the ground. One exploded in the grass next to Saphine. She leapt to her feet and swiped at her hair. The flames had only managed to singe it. The other fireball fell towards Ichoron. He raised a gauntleted hand to block the fire. The flames enveloped his hand momentarily before fading away. When they were gone, Ichoron ripped off the gauntlet, which was glowing slightly. Ichoron shook his hand and clenched his fist. He was clearly in pain, but not as much as Everin would have hoped for from someone who’d just burned their entire hand. Maybe he had higher physical durability was well as supernatural strength.

He heard Ichoron snarl, “That’s a dirty trick. You’ll pay for that!”

With his right hand, his good hand, Ichoron unsheathed the massive broadsword at his hip. A normal man would have needed two hands to even hope to swing the blade, but Ichoron wielded it easily, causally, with a single hand. He crouched as he prepared to charge toward Everin.

Saphine held up a hand. “Don’t kill him,” she said. “We need him alive and…” she paused and tilted her head almost comically, as if she were weighing her options. “Well, we need him alive and at least mostly in one piece. Don’t go too crazy.”

Ichoron nodded. Everin couldn’t see his face behind the metal visor, but an intense red energy was seeping into the angel’s aura. “I won’t kill him, but I’ll make him hurt.”

Saphine smiled. “He’s all yours.”

 Ichoron turned on Everin. The angel wore thick alumin plate armor. While not as heavy as other metals, the alumin gear must have weighed at least sixty or seventy pounds. It covered him from head to toe in protective metal. On a normal human, it would have slowed their movements dramatically and drained their energy. Ichoron sprinted across the garden as though the armor were weightless. His feet flying as he trampled over the dirt and flowers between him and his target.

Everin panicked. Ichoron was an unstoppable force. Without thinking, he let the suffering nearest to him flow into his body. Blue light from Ichoron’s form raced towards him, even faster than the angel could run. Everin felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. His knees almost buckled beneath him from the shock of inundating his body with another form of suffering so soon after purging Kyzella’s anger from his system.

Then, the sadness set in. Everin’s hands felt cold and clammy. His breaths became ragged and shaky. It took all the willpower he had to keep his attention focused on the threat of the approaching angel. It would almost be easier to let Ichoron mow him down. It would be a faster release from this all-consuming pain that he found himself in. No, Everin chided himself. The suffering wasn’t letting him think straight. He fought to ward off the depressing influence of the angel’s blue energy and focus on the imminently approaching threat.

Just as Ichoron began to bring his sword down towards Everin’s shoulder, he threw his hands up and channeled the sapphire energy outward. A glimmering wall of blue light materialized between him and the angel. Ichoron’s sword rebounded violently against the light, but the wall didn’t break. Ichoron slashed at the barrier of light again and again, fueled by his rage.

Sadness was the most powerful form of suffering, Everin knew. And the blue light didn’t burn away all at once. However, it took massive amounts of energy to maintain the barrier between himself and Ichoron. Every strike of the angel’s broadsword carried enough force to fell a small tree. He couldn’t hide behind this shield for much longer without running out of energy, Everin realized. Quickly, he gathered up all of the vile, heartbreaking energy that he had left and released it, pushing his hands forward as he did.

The glowing wall of blue light lurched forward, smashing into the armored angel. Ichoron was knocked off his feet and sent flying thirty feet through the air. He landed with an impact hard enough that it might’ve killed a normal man. Ichoron, however, wasn’t normal. He slowly climbed to his feet. If anything, the red light in his aura grew even brighter. What had the stories about Ichoron said? He was proud. Everin’s attack had probably hurt his pride and fueled Ichoron’s fire even more.

Everin bent over, resting his hands on his knees. His body threatened to vomit, as though it were physically reacting to the suffering he’d just endured. Everin tried to gather his thoughts. He’d managed to survive the first retaliatory strike from the angels, and he had at least one advantage, he realized. Saphine had said that they couldn’t kill him or even do any lasting damage. McCarthy must want him captured alive.

Now came the hard part: figuring out how to use that knowledge to his advantage. The angels were powerful, but their abilities lent themselves better to slaughtering enemies on a battlefield, not capturing a single individual with his own array of powers. Everin took a deep break and pushed his hands off his knees. He couldn’t let the angels see his weakness. It was possible they didn’t know how much it hurt him to use his powers, and he didn’t plan on letting them discover that any time soon.

Everin stared down his three opponents. Angels. King Valen’s agents of death and destruction. He wondered how many people they’d killed and how many families they’d split as they enlisted soldiers for King Valen’s army. They were an extension of McCarthy, the man who’d taken everything. There was no way Everin would let himself become like them. He clenched his fists and waited for the angels to make their next move.

Next chapter:

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