Chapter 37 (Everin)

Ever since the night McCarthy had killed his parents, Everin had become very good at distancing himself from his trauma. He’d let his mind go completely empty, because that was better than the alternative – reliving the horrible events of that night and experiencing the emotions anew. As a result, over the past year, all the pain, the self-loathing, and the anger that roiled within him had been kept below the surface. Everin had done the best he could to push it deep down inside his mind, to a place where it couldn’t hurt him so deeply.

Of course, painful memories and feelings leaked out. No prison was perfect. However, for the most part, the core of Everin’s sorrows had resided in that dark place in the corner of his mind, the place he only visited on his worst days or in his nightmares.

Now, Everin dared to open that Pandora’s box. He lowered his mental walls, and closed his eyes, letting the memories wash over him. There was his mother’s face, his father covered in blood, McCarthy’s demented grin as he danced around Everin with the knife. Like a dam that had broken, the pain that Everin had tried for so long to hide from began to wash over him.

The tears flowed. There was no stopping them. Everin’s cheeks burned. The suffering was so intense that it made him forget where he was. The energy from the anger and sorrow that he felt was overpowering. His vision was tinted blue. When Everin tried to manipulate the energy he felt, when he tried to process the emotions, the reaction was immediate. He screamed. The pain was so much. A year’s worth of misery and hatred all condensed into a refined dose of pure energy. The pain was unlike anything Everin had ever felt. His body physically reacted to the suffering he experienced. He felt like his chest was about to explode.

However, he could also feel the power of his emotions. If absorbing suffering from others gave him the impression of siphoning the energy into his body, this sensation felt more like his body was being consumed by the immense mass of excruciating energy. He blinked hard, and when he opened his tear-filled eyes, they glowed with a cold blue light. He struggled to release the power, channeling just a sliver of it through his hands.

Blue flames erupted from Everin’s palms. They spilled onto the stone rooftop at his feet and spread out several feet around him. Everin heard Cora and Ford yelp in surprise and jump backwards, but he didn’t care about them. Not anymore. Crystal blue flames leapt up all around Everin. He could sense their white-hot heat, but the fire didn’t burn him.

Everin looked up at King Valen and McCarthy. The blue tint around his vision flashed red as he saw them and remembered why he was here. Hot blood pounded in his ears.

“Impressive,” King Valen said. His voice was still calm, but he was betrayed by the nervous flickers of green light appearing in his aura. “I’ve never been happy enough to consider using my own aura as an energy source. This is an interesting development that we should discuss, Everin.”

“No,” he snarled. “No discussion. I’m going to make you feel my pain.”

The intensity of the flames increased. Everin stepped forward, sending stream after stream of the blue fire at King Valen and McCarthy. The king hurried to cast his shields up. He narrowly managed to deflect a pillar of flame that crashed into the barrier he’d erected before himself. The square of white energy floating in front of McCarthy mostly protected him, however, a few droplets of the fire splashed upward and around the barrier. One bead of flame struck McCarthy in his chest. He let out a quiet exclamation and yanked off his smoking jacket. For the first time, Everin saw his aura turning into a solid green. A shiver of excitement ran down Everin’s body – the tantalizing thrill of vengeance within his grasp. He laughed with cruel glee. McCarthy was going to suffer.

“Stand down, Everin. Remember, I’m your king,” Valen said, a warning edge in his voice.

“And you’re one awful king,” Everin laughed. “Have you seen the suffering your war has caused? Because I have. The fact that you cheated your way to the throne isn’t going to stop me. Nothing’s going to stop me now.”

King Valen sighed. “I can’t see the suffering I cause, but I do see how my actions have stripped the joy away from my citizens. I declared this war for the greater good, Everin. It was bound to happen one day. Better to have it today on our terms than tomorrow on Meronne’s.”

“You know what? I don’t really care what you see,” Everin snarled. “You and McCarthy killed my parents.”

He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to force his ragged emotions to bend to his will once more. The flames in his hands disappeared, but the small blue fires scattered around the rooftop continued to burn. Everin raised his arms until they were horizontal. There were flashes of sapphire as swirling blue light formed a sphere around his body.

The blue orb thrummed with energy. It floated upward, raising Everin just a few inches off the ground. Then, tentacles sprang forth from the ball of light. They were identical to the blue cords that Everin had extended from his arms before, except now there were four of them instead of two. The arms of azure light angrily whipped around before they began to reach for McCarthy.

King Valen grunted as he leapt in front of his subordinate. A glowing white shield snapped into existence on Valen’s arm and he raised it to block the first tentacle. When the second tentacle reached for him, the king summoned a sword made from the same white energy. He slashed the sword down on Everin’s tentacle, deflecting it. Sparks flew. The blue appendage was intact, but it pulled away momentarily.

“McCarthy, you’re only going to get yourself killed up here. Go downstairs and let me handle this,” King Valen said.

McCarthy nodded. He started to move towards the wooden door that served as the entrance and exit to the rooftop. Everin was too fast, however. A third tentacle scooped up some of the remaining blue fire that was burning on the stone rooftop. The flaming tip of the tentacle brushed the entire door with the supernatural flames. McCarthy froze, unable to escape through the blazing door.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Everin said. His voice was filtered through the bubble of blue energy that encased him. It no longer sounded like him at all. This voice was deep and angry. It was the voice of a monster, a monster that King Valen and McCarthy had created.

“I’ll get myself out of here, you deal with Everin,” McCarthy said.

King Valen nodded and turned to face the source of blue energy. He raised a hand and a bear made of pure white light materialized in front of him. It was a glowing outline of a monstrous grizzly that towered over the king. Despite the fact that it was made from translucent light, it let out a roar that sounded very real. The bear charged at Everin, but his glowing tentacles zeroed in on the beast. They wrapped themselves around the bear, stopping it in its tracks.

The bear angrily slashed its claws, but Everin tightened the steely grip of his long blue arms, crushing the projection of the animal until it shattered into a million shards of light. Everin returned his attention to the king. All four tentacles reached for the monarch. King Valen channeled more energy into his sword. The blade of white energy glowed brighter and grew even longer. He leapt out of the way of the tentacles and stared Everin down. King Valen tightened the grip on his sword and then charged towards the monster he’d created.

Next chapter:

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