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Chapter 21

Andre returned to Kentro to meet up with his classmates at the bistro for lunch. His mind was reeling from what he had just witnessed and with the uncomfortable feeling that Costa was right. Maybe it was too soon for the komer to have come back. He hoped desperately that he was wrong with the selfish desire to keep his mentor on the island. He tried to convince himself that Costa would improve even more where Abaddon couldn’t poison him so easily. Rest at the Sanctuary under the protection of the Panoplia, that’s what he needed most.

Andre left his car in the alley and walked around to the front of the bistro, lost in thought and paying little attention to his surroundings until the ground shook beneath his feet and the air was rent with the sound of the earth being ripped from its foundation somewhere high on the mountain. Andre grabbed hold of the side of the stone building beside him, watching the sky in alarm as Panoplia flew from their posts around the island and rushed to the source of the sound. Shopkeepers and villagers cried out with exclamations of wonder and gathered in the Circle with their gazes on the mountain.

Pushing away from the bistro and jogging down the walkway, Andre brushed passed spectators standing in his way until he had a good view of what was happening. He knew before he even saw the thick cloud of dust and blasted rock drifting from the western cliffs that it was the foreseen explosion happening in the present. And it came from Abaddon’s cave.

Andre sprinted for the highway and the road above the village leading to the trail and the cave. He hadn’t reached the turn off for Oikos Crescent when Lavi appeared and grabbed him around the middle, abruptly slowing him in his tracks and tossing Andre back several feet where he stumbled and nearly fell. Standing in his way like a brick wall, the spirit put up a hand and blocked the prophet in the chest before he could make another run for it.

“Remember the Message,” Lavi told him as Phulake vehicles sped by on the highway with their sirens blaring. Villagers surged to the road for a better look while exchanging curious and nervous glances between the dust cloud on the mountain side and their Agabus standing frozen on the edge of the blacktop.

The emergency vehicles careened to a stop before the service road to Kopiao Mine. They turned off their sirens and sat at intervals of disorganized parking.

“Relax folks!” Elder Kerr arrived from his office on the Circle, waving his arms and gaining their attention. “There’s nothing to be worried about! This was our doing. The Agabus saw this in his vision, remember? It’s just a precaution the Council thought necessary for your protection.”

“Precaution?” someone asked, and Kerr drew his gaze away from the penetrating glare of the prophet and its uncomfortable undertones.

“Well, it’s something that should have been done long ago,” he sounded as if he were making excuses already.

Andre’s anger flashed and would have made itself known had Lavi’s hand not been holding him firmly in place. “How did they get past? Where was Shamira?”

“She tried to turn them away,” he said. “It is not her fault they did not heed to the feeling of foreboding.”

“Here come Elder Mathis and the Kopiao team.” Kerr pointed up through the scant coverage of evergreens along the gravel road winding down the mountain where a service vehicle from the mines appeared, returning from the off-limits trail to the cave. “We can rest assured now folks,” Kerr announced with confidence. “No dark influences are infiltrating this island. Not with the cave blocked and secure.”

The news was not met with relief, but with confusion on many of the faces staring back at him. Only Andre’s expression remained stony.

“Make your choice, Agabus,” Lavi spoke in his ear and eased up on his hold.

Andre didn’t need to say anything. No doubt Kerr understood him just fine.

Stepping away from the Warrior, he turned his back the mountain. “Return to the Sanctuary,” he muttered and crossed the highway to the guardhouse. Stepping inside, he found the place empty but for the usual officer behind the counter manning the radio while peering out the window at the action up the hill.

Andre walked to a bank of phones along the opposite wall. He picked one up and dialed the extension for Erotao. “Get me Costa,” he spoke into the receiver, glancing back over his shoulder out the window while he waited for the call to reach the komer.

“This is Costa.”

“Your warning really sunk in,” Andre announced. “Our elders just blew up the mountain. I just thought you’d like to know.” Hanging up, Andre left the station and walked back to the bistro, ignoring the growing crowd of villagers watching the dissipating dust cloud drifting in the wind.

“Have you seen this?” Evil stood before the wall of crumbled stone and could not help but be amused. The mortals never ceased to amaze him with their absurdity. “You can see the fear,” he scoffed. “You can smell it.”

Havoc was intoxicated, and he emitted a vibrating growl through barred teeth in response.

“Breathe it in,” his master encouraged his pet’s appetite. “This is what an open invitation looks like. I hope you’re ready for it.” Moving away from the cave-in, Abaddon returned to the abyss through the rising stench and steam. “You need to be prepared now that the holy man is home early. I turn my back for one second and those interfering locusts swoop in and take back what I clearly won.” Evil expressed his loathing for the Panoplia by grabbing Havoc by the throat and throwing him down the jagged stone stairs to the floor of the lower chamber.

Havoc scrambled to raise himself into a submissive, crouched position on all fours at the bottom. Watching with darting eyes as Abaddon stepped through the doorway of the chamber, the Daimon struggled to fight the urge to sink his fangs into the hand which abused him. He had been cooped up in that hole for too long and denied the taste of humans and their easily broken souls.

Abaddon quickly forgot the sniveling beast at his feet. Walking with long, calculated strides, he crossed the underground room to the pile of bones on the floor. “Let them have their komer. There is little man left in him now. He is nothing you can’t handle.” His cruelty quickly turned to praise, and Havoc’s tense stance relaxed as he fell in behind his master’s shadow. “Their ignorant actions only prove the time is right. Prepare yourself. It is time to return to your host.”

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