The group was on the move next morning.
Sara walked in back with Caycee and Darek.
Caycee, with her power of intuition, knew something was on Sara’s mind and asked, “What are you curious about?”
Slightly unnerved, Sara stopped, allowing most of the group up front to move on before continuing, “Leon,” she answered.
“What about him?” Caycee asked
“He said he belongs to all of the Houses, but I don’t see how that’s possible.” Sara replied.
“Intriguing, isn’t it?” Darek said.
“Don’t worry,” Caycee said, “It’s understandable. Leon isn’t a Vesuvian like us. He wasn’t born as much as he was created.”
“What do you mean?” Sara asked.
“When the Pelasgians invaded Rhea,” Caycee began, “It wasn’t enough that they outnumbered us. They had a group of three warriors called Myrmidons. No one could stand against them. The Council didn’t want to risk their lives, so they came up with the idea of creating a special Vesuvian.”
“Leon?” Sara asked.
“Yes,” Caycee said, “Blood was taken from each member of the Council. Alexia used her power to create Leon, but...I mean...not to say that it backfired. The thing is that he kinda turned out to be a better weapon against his own people. Some of his powers are similar to the Houses’, but he has other abilities that defy what should be possible for even the strongest Vesuvian.”
Sara was definitely intrigued, “Like what?” she asked.
“Sunlight, for instance,” Caycee said. “It would kill any other Vesuvian almost immediately, but it doesn’t affect him, and there’re rumors that he can control it.”
Darek laughed, “They call it the Vesuvian Starlight. But I think Leon was just messin’ ’round in his house, and that’s if it really happened, which I doubt. If you ask me, the Turin slipped up.”
“No way,” Caycee said, “Marus insisted that there was no break in the cloud, and there are a few people who claim they not only saw it come from Leon’s house, but they were actually burned by it.”
Darek shook his head, “Too bad our bodies quickly heal; else they might have been able to prove it.”
Sara asked, “So, what exactly went wrong with Leon?”
“No one knows.” Caycee answered, “He fought the Myrmidons several times, but he could never beat them.”
“Then why not make more Vesuvians like Leon?” Sara asked.
“There’s no way that’ll ever happen.” Caycee said, “It’s his power, the Council is afraid of it. Why make it worse? Besides, when the Pelasgians backed off, the Council had no use for Leon, so they put him in charge of making sure no one ran off in the middle of the night making bedtime visits.”
“Are you afraid of him?” Sara asked.
“Nah,” Darek answered, “He’s a good bloke.”
“Admired by the young, resented by the old," Caycee added.
The group emerged from the cave into a large canyon with a fast-flowing river and the sun’s rays beaming down, until only Caycee and Darek were left.
“Oy!” Darek cried.
“We’re stuck here ’til the sun passes,” Caycee said.
Leon threw his head back in frustration.
Darek shook his head, “Here I thought you had a plan.”
“I did!” Leon retorted, “It just didn’t include you two.”
Sulking against the cave wall, Darek said, “Walk slow.”
Sara observed the sun’s position, “Either way we go it won’t be safe to come out until the sun sets.”
“We need to move on.” Leon said, “Caycee, you know the way so catch up as soon as you can. Kamala, Gillan, bring up the rear.”
Several hours passed as the group made its way through the canyon.
Walking with Leon, Sara asked, “Do you ever get nervous about what you might run into?”
“Not really,” Leon answered, “You?”
“I find this kind of exciting,” Sara said. “I never thought I’d be on an assignment with a bunch of Rheans.”
“I’ve got a feeling this won’t be the last time.” Leon said.
“I hope so,” Sara said, “Any other assignment would pale in comparison.”
“Any other assignment would be a whole lot safer than this one,” said Leon.
“True, but being a Ranger isn’t exactly the safest job,” Sara said, nimbly following Leon around a few large rocks, “I’ve been meaning to ask how you learned to fight. You’re like a warrior monk from the Synchin Mountains.”
“The Turin,” Leon answered, “They may not look it, but when it comes to skill – they’re the best.”
At that moment three large people emerged from around several rocks ahead of the group: two males, one female. Each was at least seven feet tall and muscular. Their clothing was unkempt and their skin had a decayed appearance.
“Prometheans,” Leon said, concerned.
Sara reached for her equinox.
“No,” Leon whispered sternly.
Janah came up behind Sara, “Whatever you do, don’t do anything hostile. These guys hate everyone and love to fight.”
The Prometheans, Arloff, Lugos, and Elsa, approached the group. As they got closer, they spread themselves out to block anyone from going anywhere but back.
“Leave this place,” Arloff demanded.
Leon spoke, “We’re not here to fight, but we have to move on.”
“No one is allowed to trespass!” Arloff said.
“Please,” Nedim pleaded, “We are trying to stop the invasion in the Netherworld.”
“Which means we’re trying to help you,” Leon said.
“No!” Arloff growled, “We may be dead, but this is still our land. We don’t need your help!”
“We need to get to the Netherworld.” said Leon, “Your portal is the only one we know of.”
Arloff’s naturally menacing look became even more so when he asked, “You want to go to the Netherworld?”
Leon stepped back, “Yeah, but-”
“Then I’ll send you there!” Arloff yelled as he swung at Leon, who just barely managed to get out of the way.
Nedim, unable to react fast enough, was grazed by Arloff’s forearm, knocking him unconscious.
Elsa charged in.
“Move!” Janah said as she and Sara jumped in different directions to avoid the attack.
Lugos went after Kamala and Gillan.
Using her ability to control the earth, Kamala launched a horse-size rock at Lugos, only for him to crash through it without stopping.
“Oh!” Gillan said, astonished.
Lugos came within a few feet when Kamala opened a crack in the ground big enough for him to trip over, though he quickly got back up, growling in anger.
Arloff’s frustration grew with each attempt to hit Leon. Every swing either missed or shattered rock.
Leon took the first chance he had to land a series of hard blows to the gut with no effect.
Arloff quickly seized Leon and violently threw him, but Leon landed on the canyon wall like a fly and counter-attacked with a kick to Arloff’s face.
Sara and Janah took turns attacking Elsa from different angles. Their weapons slashed and pierced the skin with some difficulty, accomplishing little besides making her increasingly angry.
“I could use a little help here!” Kamala cried out, desperately launching everything she could to stop Lugos, only to have every pebble and rock simply bounce or crumble against his body.
Gillan drew forth a powerful stream of water from the river, sweeping Lugos off his feet.
The impact of a large Promethean hitting the ground threw plenty of debris around.
Sara, backpedaling away from Elsa at that moment, slipped and fell.
Without hesitation, Janah jumped on Elsa’s back and tried to choke her with one arm while blinding her with the other, giving Sara the chance she needed to get back up and out of the way.
Arloff was being taken apart piece by piece with every slash from Leon’s sword. The first things to go were his right hand and left arm, but even then, he attacked relentlessly with his legs – until Leon cut those off too, leaving Arloff an undead pile of limbs.
Elsa stumbled around with Janah holding tight.
Sara jumped in driving her equinox into Elsa’s gut. The blade exited out her back, narrowly missing Janah’s legs.
“Whoa!” Janah hollered.
Elsa, partially blinded, managed to grab hold of Sara while inadvertently falling into the river.
Unable to help, Leon yelled, “Gillan!”
Seeing the women being swept downriver, Gillan immediately jumped in.
Lugos turned his full attention to Kamala. Standing only a few yards away, he was about to make his move when a yellow ball of energy burst through his torso, causing so much damage, his body simply couldn’t function and collapsed.
It was then Kamala saw Nedim standing with yellow smoke emanating from his hand.
Gillan moved through the water with incredible speed. After easily catching up with Sara and Janah, he grabbed both and used his abilities to wash them ashore.
After catching their breath, Sara and Janah were back on their feet.
Leon stood by, “You two okay?”
Janah gave a thumbs-up.
“Thanks, Gillan.” Sara said exhausted. She holstered her equinox, “Geez, I hope we don’t run into those guys again.”