Remnants

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Chapter Thirteen

I’d always believed the sickly yellow light in Hell to a permanent fixture of the realm’s atmosphere, but I had been proven wrong as soon as night had fallen.

The realm was extremely dark. There was no moon and there were no stars in the rather cloudy sky. The only light was a dim, warm glow provided by the rivers of magma that spread across the ground and disappeared on the horizon.

My friends and I had been allowed to stay at Diablo’s home for the night. Mephisto’s children had departed a few hours earlier to return to their father’s isolated living space. The only one of us that was no longer in the house was Aidan; he had been taken to a Demon hospital not far from here for observation purposes... and for restraining should he start going on a berserk rampage. While that hadn’t been directly stated, it had most certainly been implied, and it was that which I disliked about the entire situation.

I sighed softly and shook my head. My face was illuminated by the warm reddish-orange light of the molten rock outside as I sat near the window, looking out at the slowly lightening sky. Beside me the others slept peacefully, having been provided with bedding and comfort by our gracious host. I’d never believed a Demon could be so welcoming, but then again I’d only ever associated with very few Demons during my long lifetime... despite my status as a Firstborn.

I curled my hands into fists. In my left hand was a crumpled scrap of parchment, and I looked down at it as it crackled. I could just see the faded black ink of the symbol scribed upon it, and misery stabbed at my heart.

I thought back to the specific event that had caused my mother to flip her noodle and decide to massacre the innocent Human race. I knew that, despite the event in question having occurred aeons before the creation of Humanity, she had chosen to get back at them in a way that would be detrimental to the Angels and their ‘holy’ Creator-bound ways.

I closed my eyes, breathing heavily as memories flashed in my mind. Memories that I would have rather forgotten…

“We have no choice,” Tharul grunted as he hefted the massive cannon onto his shoulder. “I’m going to seal the Eversortorix under the ground.” He looked at all of us, his eyes filled with determination. “We cannot use it against the Angels... for one of their warriors possesses the power to use it against us.” He looked towards me as he spoke, although his words were not hateful. I wondered – at least, back then – why he had done that. Now, I was all too aware…

Vera stepped forward, then, her eyes dim and filled with a deep fear. “But we may need it, Tharul. It could be our only hope of withstanding the Angels’ siege...”

Tharul looked morosely at her. “I understand the point you’ve put forth to me, Vera, but the risks are too great.” He looked over at the cannon resting heavily upon his shoulder. “We cannot allow any Angel or Demon to wield what has to be our greatest creation.”

Vera sighed heavily at Tharul’s words, but nodded and stepped back so she was at my side again. Nothing more was said by the female Firstborn, but this time, it was I who stepped forward. “I agree wholeheartedly with Tharul on this,” I proclaimed, my eyes hard and confident. “Protecting the rest of the Nephilim is the duty of the Firstborn, and to do that, I believe that the Eversortorix needs to be locked away, possibly forever.” I met Tharul’s eyes as the others began to murmur amongst themselves. “Do you require aid?” I asked, knowing that he was as set in his decision as the Angels were in their plans.

He nodded. “I may, Sai.” He smiled at me. “Your assistance is much appreciated.” He looked out the sole window of the small building we were refuging in, narrowing his eyes as we all heard explosions. “We must move with haste.”

I nodded, and – after Tharul instructed the other Firstborn to go and assist those defending themselves against Heaven’s armies – the pair of us headed off.

As we left, Tharul informed me that he was planning to seal the weapon in the very centre of Tutum, as it would be the safest place for it. The core of our fair realm was one of the few places our Magic was at its strongest, and the sealing runes we would be using would already be unable to be broken easily. In Tutum’s centre, breaking them would be almost impossible.

We sprinted across the realm, spurred on by our Magic. At current time using our powers put us in immense danger, but we had to get to our destination as soon as possible, and this was the only way we could do so. I was worried about what would happen to us two and the rest of our people, and I could sense that Tharul was as well, but we were both determined to do this.

We arrived at the place we needed to be at shortly after leaving our refuge. There were no obvious marks or structures to show that this was the very midpoint of Tutum, but that was how we of the Firstborn wanted it to be. We didn’t want it to be public knowledge that this place was of importance, especially where other races and species were concerned. Even more so, now that we were going to be hiding an artefact of incredible power here…

Tharul turned to me. “Sai,” he said, his voice low and saturated with worry. “Are you able to create a deep hole? We need to put this thing as far down as possible.”

I nodded, turning my back to him and concentrating my powers on a small patch of dirt right in front of me. Power surged through my body as I felt the Magic well. My brow furrowed a little bit as I pushed that Magic into to the earth, clumping the dirt I intended to remove and forcing it upwards, a massive clod soon floating in the air. The created hole, like I had been asked, was a gaping wound in the surface of the realm; it was more than twenty metres deep, and we would not accept it another way. The weapon had to be hidden.

Once I was done, I turned to Tharul, ensuring that the clod of Magically-bound earth didn’t fall from where it floated. “What incantations and runes are we going to use?” I asked, watching as he stepped forward and placed the weapon above the hole, using his own Magic to make it float down as possible. “Logically we need use the strongest ones we know... correct?”

He nodded in confirmation. “Correct.” He looked up at me once the weapon was laid into its ‘grave’. “Now, please, cover it.”

Carefully but quickly, I obediently performed my task, and waited for my next instruction. Tharul informed me that we would put two layers of binding spells upon the area, to ensure that the Eversortorix remained underground, away from the grabbing hands of those who would try to use its destructive power for their own nefarious means.

He went first. Incanting a powerful spell, he knelt down and pressed his hand to the ground where the Eversortorix had been laid. The ground flashed, and a series of runes began to web and stretch along the area. As this happened he stood and nodded at me, indicating that I now needed to lay down my own seal. I had a different spell in mind; it was equally as strong, if not stronger, although – back then – I had no real clue as to why.

Kneeling down where Tharul had been moments before, I murmured my spell, closing my eyes as I again felt the powerful Magic flood through my body. Placing both palms to the ground, I pushed the Magic into the dirt, and three circles of runes slowly appeared around Tharul’s rune web. Both sets of symbols glowed vibrantly before fading away, becoming invisible to the eye and leaving not even a small residual Magical presence. That was a satisfactory result, and – after creating a strange stone dome over the place, placing more protection on the dome’s never-ending wall – we shared a look and a bob of our heads before opting to return to the others.

We never made it back.

Tharul and I found a group of young Nephilim children on our way back. The poor little ones under attack by a group of Angels, something neither Tharul nor I were going to just let happen.

As soon as I scanned the Angels, I knew we were in a spot of trouble. I recognised the Archangel of that time – a powerful Angel named Xaerel – alongside the captain of the Angel warriors, Augral. I was well aware that Augral, at least, was not someone to be messed with, and I looked over at Tharul with urgency in my eyes. “We have to try and stop them!”

His own eyes showed that he agreed with me. “Let’s go!” he ordered, running forward and body-slamming Augral. The Angel grunted in shock as he was thrown to the ground, and he struggled against Tharul, who was – being incredibly strong due to the Demon genetics he possessed – pinning him down. I hurried over to the younglings, trying to get them out of that situation by teleportation rather than attempt to fight Xaerel. I wasn’t strong enough to fight an Archangel.

A sharp pain bloomed in my chest, then, right through my heart, and my breath was sucked from my lungs as the tip of the lance jutted from my breast…

A hand clapping down on my shoulder pulled me from my memory with a jump and a squeak. I was trembling without my knowledge as I whipped my head around, spotting a red hand on my shoulder. This hand was connected to Diablo, and I relaxed a little as I looked at his face. He appeared to be half-asleep, actually, and I wondered if I’d cried out, especially when he asked, “Is… something the matter? You’re trembling a fair bit.”

I hesitated. Could I tell him? I supposed I could. I would just leave out details of... that. So I told him everything from the memory, omitting what I had to. I told him all about the beginning of the massacre as I remembered it, and the horrendous effects that lingered even now.

Eventually, once I had explained, I sighed. “What would have happened if I hadn’t been killed back then?” I asked, looking over at the Demon man.

He sat down next to me. “I am unsure,” he mused. “Truthfully, one must ask: would you not dying have changed anything?”

I blinked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”

He sighed softly and shook his head. “Ryval has always been a little… outspoken, to use Mephisto’s words.” He looked out of the nearby window, deep in thought, before exhaling heavily. “She’s always spoken out against the Archdemons for signing the Heaven-Hell Treaty, thinking that it was an unnecessary thing; her argument was that we needed nothing of the sort so long as the Angels and Demons stayed away from ‘civilised’ areas. In hindsight, not the best argument.” He exhaled. “She’s always been mentally… ‘damaged’, as we Demons say.”

I couldn’t help but notice his hesitation. “Damaged?”

“Yes. Damaged; we prefer not to say mentally ill. But it wasn’t really ‘damage’… it was a rebellious streak not commonly seen down here.” He grimaced a bit as he looked over at me, yellow eyes sad. “Part of her rebelliousness made her want to annihilate the Human race, merely because she saw – and still sees – Humanity as a weak, useless race. A lot of Demons do, if I’m honest, but those ones believe Humans are not worth the trouble.”

Anger and annoyance bloomed in my chest. “How dare they all, especially her,” I snapped. “Humans are not useless or weak. They’ve a certain tenacity that doesn’t seem to naturally exist in us immortals. They’re strong in their own ways. Maybe they’re not physically or Magically comparable to us, but they’re still strong beings!” I was red-faced by the time I finished my short tirade, and huffed before crossing my arms and giving an annoying look at the Demon.

A smile graced Diablo’s face. “I have to agree with you in that regard.” He looked briefly over at the sleeping Tiff. “After all, going through all of this ‘supernatural’ stuff... She is strong, for not breaking under the pressure.” He returned his attention to me. “That’s why Humans fascinate me... and probably why I eventually fell in love with one.” He smiled tenderly at some memory I wasn’t privy too, then shook it off and stood, looking down at me. “By the by, you should probably sleep. It’s ticking into the early morning even as we speak, and I’m thinking you haven’t even tried to shut your eyes.”

I nodded, feeling exhausted now that I thought about it. Diablo smiled, bidding me a restful sleep before leaving the room to go get some more shut-eye of his own.

I moved slowly over to the bed. Laying down, I curled underneath the borrowed blanket, although I didn’t really feel the need for it considering the temperature never fell below twenty degrees in Hell.

My sleep was not normal, however.

Almost the second I let myself drift into unconsciousness, I found myself in some sort of dream in which I was standing on a cliff overlooking the crashing, deep blue ocean. I could feel Magic surrounding me, causing me to instantly understand that this dream was abnormal and strange, and created by another being.

I looked around in confusion, unsure who would be doing this. I couldn’t see anybody, and whenever I asked if there was someone about, I was answered with a silence that bemused me further and disturbed me somewhat.

“Sai?” I heard a melodic voice chime, and I turned to see the familiar form of Oracle. The feathers on her radiant white wings were waving slightly in the light, pleasant breeze, and she smiled politely at me; I returned it, although mine was one of relief as my confusion vanished. It was now apparent that Oracle was the creator of the dream surrounding the pair of us.

“Hey there.” I waved a little at her.

“Hello,” she replied. “I am glad that I could catch up to you in your sleep.” The smile dropped from her face. “I am limited to dreamwalking in order to speak with you while you are staying in Hell; I’m sure I needn’t explain why.” Her eyes softened as I nodded in understanding. “I wish Aidan a speedy recovery; I am all too aware of the reason you are currently in the realm of Demons.”

I sighed softly. “Thank you for your understanding, Oracle...,” I whispered, biting the inside of my cheek as I met her eyes.

She inclined her head a little. “You needn’t thank me. Now.” She paused briefly, possibly to gather her thoughts and concrete what she had to say. “I do not dreamwalk often. I only do it in dire circumstances; alas, such an event has arisen, one that requires your specific attention.”

Uh oh. “What’s happened?”

“It is not what has happened, Firstborn,” came her reply. “It is what is still to occur.”

I stared at her, not quite comprehending immediately. “You mean... You mean in the future?”

“Correct.” Oracle nodded slightly. “Ryval is attempting to go to the lost realm of Tutum.”

I instantly became tense and rigid. The blood flowing throughout my body felt as if it had turned to ice. My thought processes came to a standstill. I almost ceased breathing. Time seemed to pause. Despite knowing that these events had not yet occurred, utter horror had flooded through my body as soon as those words had left Oracle’s lips. She knows. Ryval KNOWS.

I was trembling once more, something I didn’t realise until Oracle said with concern colouring her tone, “Are you alright?”

“No.” I swallowed in a desperate attempt to compose myself. “Ryval can’t be allowed to get into Tutum.” I hugged myself, my knees shaking, refusing to look at the now-alarmed Angel. “As desolate Tutum may be... there’s...” I exhaled heavily, groping to find the words to explain. “There’s something there, something that only the Firstborn can use... or the parents of the Firstborn, be they Angel or Demon... due to blood ties.”

Oracle frowned in confusion. “And would this... something... be an issue?”

I nodded. “Yeah... it would. Because it’s a powerful weapon capable of annihilating the entirety of the Human race within minutes.” I turned away from her, hugging myself tighter now. “While Ryval wouldn’t be able to use the weapon to its full capacity, what she can still do will be devastating enough.”

This seemed to frighten Oracle; her fear flashed briefly on her face before she composed herself, yet that was enough. “I see.” She ruffled the feathers on her wings as she walked over to the very edge of the cliff. “Knowing this information, it would be wise for you and your group to head to Tutum with all haste.” She looked back at me, her eyes calm and aloof, although her fear was still apparent. “You must destroy the weapon you speak of.”

A grimace graced my face. “I’m not sure the Eversortorix can be destroyed. All we can do is prevent Ryval from ever accessing it.” I looked at the crashing waves. “That’s all I can promise.”

Oracle nodded as a sad, small smile appeared on her face. “Very well,” she murmured in acceptance. “I will let you go, now, so you can go forth on your mission. The dream should not have affected your rest; you should be well prepared for the trial ahead.”

I nodded, saying nothing else as Oracle slowly became translucent and vanished. The dream around me crumbled, and I blinked a little as I began to awaken. As I became more aware I realised someone was shaking me, and I grunted as I opened my eyes and looked up to see Soren. Wonderful.

Sitting up, I eyed him carefully. “What are you doing?”

“We need to talk,” he said softly. “I have to apologise.”

I raised my eyebrow. “Why?”

He sighed. “For our little spat back at the safehouse, after you guys returned from the city.” He shook his head, deliberating over his words. “I... I was out of line.” He met my eyes, his brimming with regret. “I’m really sorry. I never meant to hurt or offend you.”

“It’s fine.” I spoke with an ugly grimace on my face. “Your apology’s accepted. But, listen. We have a situation on our hands, one that could get real ugly real quick. Ryval’s trying to get to Tutum. And I think she’s after the Eversortorix.”

“The Eversortorix?” Soren frowned in confusion. “Wasn’t that destroyed?” The weapon itself was no secret to the Nephilim as a whole; its fate, however, was a different matter.

I shook my head. “No. It was merely sealed away to prevent access to it. We weren’t sure if it could be destroyed, but we weren’t going to take our chances. Back then, time was of the essence.” I shuddered as I remembered sealing the weapon away, before shoving those memories aside. “Anyway, Oracle said that Ryval was trying to get into Tutum. That means she knows about the Eversortorix and where it’s hidden.”

I saw the fear strike the Nephilim man, and his eyes widened so much that I could almost liken them to saucers. “Oh shit.”

“That’s a severe understatement.” I stood, pushing the blanket off of me; Soren rose to his feet simultaneously. “She shouldn’t know. Technically only Tharul and I should.”

“We need to inform the others and find a way to get to Tutum as soon as possible.” His voice was filled with panic, and he shook his head. “We really need to—”

“Keep it between us for now,” I interrupted. “Our group’s worried enough. Don’t tell anyone until we’ve ascertained Aidan’s perfectly fine.” I bit my lip, hesitating. “They don’t need the added anxiety of this situation on top of the one from Aidan. Not yet.”

Soren seemed reluctant to accept my terms, but nodded. He left the room, and I followed, hot on his heels. We went to the others, who had awoken earlier and moved to the sitting room, and upon entering I was rather surprised (and pleased) to see Aidan sitting there. While immensely relieved to see him, I couldn’t help but notice the dark cloak that enswathed his body, keeping the scales on his arms and shoulders hidden; this was a rather disconcerting thing to see.

He looked up at us as we approached, giving us a light, kind-hearted smile. Yet I detected that the smile was not completely genuine; the very corners of his lips looked like the expression was forced, and it didn’t quite sit right on his face. Yet I didn’t mention it, nor did Soren.

“Ah, Sai, Soren,” Diablo said, smiling at us. “How good of you to join us! How did you sleep?”

Soren shrugged in response. I, however, answered. “Uh, I slept well, thank you.”

Nobody seemed convinced by my answer, and honestly, neither was I. I hadn’t put enough enthusiasm in it. But it was waved off as Diablo said, “Aidan should be okay to travel with you.” He patted his son’s shoulder, and the Halfling looked up at him, his eyes slightly blank. “He’s just going to struggle with his powers, unfortunately.” He looked at Soren and I; it was apparent he’d already explained everything to the others. “This cloak has a special enchantment on it that should help him with his battle.”

I was relieved that Diablo was so thoughtful. “That’s good,” I replied, smiling ruefully. “So now that that issue is out of the way... I have another one to report. A very serious one.” I crossed my arms as Soren gave me a careful, worried look, and everyone else gave me bemused ones. “Ryval is trying to get to Tutum, and is more than likely going there for the sole sake of obtaining the Eversortorix.”

“The… what?” Tiff asked, Hailey frowning while the Nephilim went absolutely rigid. Aidan looked bemused as well, but Diablo’s face turned into a very strong lour.

“The Eversortorix,” I repeated. “The others – save Hailey and Aidan, and you – all know what I’m talking about, but for your sake, I’ll explain. It’s a powerful weapon of the Firstborn Nephilim.” I inhaled, trying to collect my thoughts so I could say this without blundering and tripping over my words. “However, only Tharul – the first Firstborn – and I know of its fate, hence why this news would be so shocking to everyone.”

“Shocking is the wrong word,” Nathan rumbled. “We thought it destroyed.”

I shook my head as I looked over at him. “No. We doubted it could be destroyed in such little time. So, instead, we sealed it away during the very beginning of the Nephilim Massacre.”

“So… why is it so shocking that Ryval’s after it?” Tiff asked curiously.

Returning my gaze to her, I exhaled. “The Eversortorix is… special. It can only be used by Firstborn... or their parents.” My expression darkened; I didn’t want to tell her this, but I had to. “The strength of the weapon is determined by the species of the wielder; it’s at its strongest when a Firstborn uses it. However, even if wielded by a Demon or Angel, the Eversortorix is still incredibly destructive, capable of obliterating Earth’s population – and Earth itself – within minutes.”

Tiff was abhorred, Aidan seemed a little shocked, but it was Hailey’s reaction that was rather concerning. She began to tremble, tears pricking the corners of her eyes, and Lydia had to put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. Yet, when asked what was wrong the Halfling refused to explain. While I was more worried at her refusal, I didn’t push the matter, certain that she would explain in her own time. Instead, I turned to Diablo.

“Is it okay if we take use of Mephisto’s portal?” I asked, causing him to almost choke on either saliva or air.

“Wh-What?! Why?!” he spluttered, alarmed. He shook his head a little, and took the the time to compose himself before continuing. “Why do you require the portal? Mephisto’s a bit iffy of its use even by his hands... I doubt he’d accept anyone else using it...”

“It’s one of the few ways I can think of to get to Tutum,” I argued, although I kept any frustration out of my voice and attempted calmness. “And it’s the quickest. Preparing a portal for Tutum using Nephilim Magic alone would take days. If we can alter the path of an existing portal, then we can get there within minutes, which is the best way to go about this because, well, y’know, Ryval’s totally not threatening to exterminate the entirety of the Human race.” I said that last part sarcastically without really meaning to. In response Diablo gave me a half-dirty, half-dryly-amused look.

“Alright, alright, no need for derision,” he retorted, chuckling slightly. “I understand why you can’t just take a few days, so I’ll take you to Mephisto; he may be nice and give you permission, given the circumstances.” He turned his back, and murmured something in the Demon tongue, waving his hand; a few seconds later, a blazing portal opened in the wall, and he gestured to it while looking over his shoulder at us. “Step in; this should take you to my brother.”

“You’re not coming?” I asked, worried. I doubted I would be able to convince the Demon Sage to allow me to use his portal without his brother’s assistance. “I – we – may need your aid...”

He thought on this, a frown gracing his features, before nodding. “I understand your implications.” He crossed his arms, tilting his head to the left. “Mephisto may not aid you without being convinced...”

I nodded, thankful he’d gotten the gist of my thoughts. “Yeah, that was what I was thinking.” I walked over to the portal as the others rose from their seats. Tiff came to my side, gently touching my shoulder, and I nodded at her before stopping in front of the flaming opening. “Now, let’s go. Time is of the utmost importance right now.”

Everyone nodded, following me as I entered. Soon stepping out of the portal’s other opening, I almost walked right into the bone doors that led to Mephisto’s portal and workstation.

Nervousness overcame me, then; I always felt a little creeped out by Mephisto; undoubtedly that was because he looked at you like he could see the deepest recesses of your soul.

Diablo stepped forward, Aidan close behind him, once he exited the portal and it spiralled closed. He loudly knocked on the bone door, hearing a booming voice reply, “Enter!” as it slowly swung open.

We stepped inside and instantly found ourselves plunged into darkness. The shadows were broken only by a sparse few flickering candles, and after adjusting to the blackness I saw Mephisto hunched over the shimmering mirror he kept.

He looked up upon our approach, however, and pursed his lips. “Why have you come?” he asked coldly, disapproving of being interrupted.

“To ask a favour,” I said, trying to be confident in the face of the Sage. “We need to use your portal.”

His lips pressed into a thin line as he looked back briefly at the structure. “Why?” he asked calmly, showing no hint of apprehension.

I carefully explained the situation, praying to the Creator that the Sage would understand. I particularly emphasised that the Eversortorix was capable of destroying not only Humanity, but Demonkind and Angelkind as well, if Ryval decided she wasn’t content with just the destruction of one race.

An agonisingly long deliberation took place after I finished speaking, and Mephisto turned his back to us, crossing his arms. I wondered what he was thinking. I could have used my powers to find out, but he was a very powerful Demon; he would instantly detect my Magic, and I wasn’t about to risk getting my ass handed to me. I may have been one of the strongest Nephilim in existence, but Mephisto – despite appearing frail – was much, much stronger.

Finally, he turned back to me. “I will aid you.”

I had become disheartened for the few seconds before my brain fully comprehended his words. “Wait, what?” I asked, blinking, having not expected him to agree to help. “You’re helping us?”

He nodded. “I understand the direness of the situation at hand, and frankly, I would prefer not to be obliterated.” His lips slightly twitched upwards in the corners, but that expression was gone as quickly as it had come as he floated over to the portal. His eyes lit up with a vibrant glow, and he looked over his shoulder at me. “I will prepare the portal. All you must do afterwards is open one to Tutum.”

I nodded. “That, I can do.” I watched as he began to chant, and soon enough runes on the structure lit up, but no gateway was ripped open to another realm… yet.

As all the runes became aglow, Mephisto turned to me and nodded, floating back to allow me to do as necessary. I was quite apprehensive about this whole thing, but this was important, so I shoved my feelings down and prepared for what was to come.

I stepped forward, feeling a surge of Magic in my body. Closing my eyes, I gently laid my hands on the structure and pushed the Magic into it, murmuring an incantation specific to the Firstborn. Nobody else but me knew this spell now; I would have to teach it to someone, one day, in the event that I got killed.

When I opened my eyes, some sort of golden, swirling portal sat where a flaming one would usually be. I turned back to the others, satisfied, and noticed their awestruck expressions. A laugh threatened to escape me at how stunned they looked, but I repressed it, instead saying, “This will take us to Tutum. Prepare for the worst... at least mentally.” With that, I turned and stepped into the portal, feeling an instant pull to the realm beyond. Each species, except for Humanity, had a specific pull to their realm, and while Tutum had not been the Nephilim home for many long centuries, I – and the rest of my people – would always feel that connection to our ‘safe haven’.

Stepping out of the portal, I felt a dull pain in my chest, and I pouted as I looked around. I hated seeing what Tutum had become. Once a luscious, peaceful, beautiful world, the Nephilim Massacre had resulted in its decimation; it was now a bone-dry desert wasteland. Rendered uninhabitable, nothing grew on Tutum’s grounds anymore, and too much exposure to the ash in the air damaged the lungs. I hated it with everything I was.

Gasps escaped the two Halflings, and I heard Tiff whisper, “Woah...,” as she looked around, tears welling in her eyes. “Holy shit...”

She looked at me as Hailey said, “Sai... Soren... Lydia... Nathan... is this your homeland...?”

“It was,” Lydia said lowly, angrily. “It is no longer our home, hasn’t been for millennia. Nothing, nobody, can live here anymore.” She grimaced as she looked at me. “There is no time for reminiscing; I’m sure I needn’t tell you, of all people, that.” She looked towards a barely visible dome in the far distance. “That’s where you hid it, yes?”

“In the centre,” I murmured, my eyes darkening, following her gaze. “We created the dome after burying the Eversortorix, and put very powerful protection in place... but I have a feeling Ryval could break those if she really wanted to.”

“I am inclined to agree,” Nathan grunted, looking around. “We best move. I have a bad feeling.”

Nodding, I began walking forward, but I stopped short when I heard, “Aidan? What’s wrong?” from Soren.

Turning around, I noticed Aidan – shrouded mostly by his cloak – was curled up, clutching at his head, digging his fingernails in. For this to happen so soon after we’d left Hell was extremely worrying, and I went to go to him, to attempt to help... only for him to look up at us.

Horror pulsed through my body as I took in the yellow glow of his normally deep blue eyes. This was bad. I pushed Tiff behind me immediately, while Lydia positioned herself protectively in front of Hailey.

Aidan stood slowly, and we all watched him with guarded eyes and bated breath, to see what he would do.

None of us were expecting a twisted, evil grin to grace his face... nor were we ready for him to attack us.

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