After we left the boys' bathroom, we entered the principal's office then a dorm room, a hallway, one of the math rooms and then we ended up in the indoor swimming pool.
"Where on earth is this guy?" Tigerlily whined. We hadn't come across any druggies or Council troops and we had no idea where to go or how to get there.
"It's a goddamn maze," Daniel cursed. "Why won't he just come out? Spineless coward."
I was getting frustrated as well. We were wasting valuable time. The only one who seemed calm was Matt. He simply examined each room we were in and followed quietly, not a single sound came from him other than his footsteps and breathing.
There's gotta be some way to get to him. C'mon Nyx, think! Everything you've read about dimensional magic. There's gotta be a weak point, a crack. Something dammit.
"Hey, uh, guys," Matt called us. We stopped in our tracks and I tightened my grip on my daggers, preparing for an attack.
Matt had stopped in front of the diving board of the 4th lane. He was staring at it with his brow scrunched.
"What's wrong?" Daniel asked, coming up behind Matt to try and see what he was seeing. "I don't see anything."
Matt pointed at the diving board, "But there's this glowin' crack. How can you not see it? There's black smoky things comin' from it n' there's even some blood!"
I frowned and walked towards the group, but like Daniel, I couldn't see hide nor hair of what Matt was describing.
Tigerlily worriedly asked, "Are you okay? Maybe all this evil business is stressing you into seeing things."
Seeing what other can't.
My eyes widened and I whispered, "One whose eyes are free from cloth and grime...He sees only truth, not lies or shades of deceit...Blood and death shall lead their path, to one consumed by black wrath."
The other three hadn't heard exactly what I said and I ignored their questioning gazes. "Everyone move back. Now," I ordered.
They hesitated but followed my command quickly. I stood directly in front of the diving board and directed my next question to Matt, "Where exactly is the glowing crack?"
He hesitated before using the dagger I had given him to trace a jagged lightning-shaped line close to the bottom right of the board. "Right there," he said.
He moved away and I crouched down to examine the area, using my own dagger to retrace the line he drew. "Tell me if anything changes," I ordered Matt as I pressed the dagger's tip deeper into the board.
Tigerlily spoke up, keeping behind me, "Um, what are you doing?"
I kept my eyes on the line I repeatedly carved as I answered, "Gordon bigmouth told you of the Prophecy right? It spoke of a pure human who could see what shouldn't be seen. He can see past illusions, shades, mirages, anything and see only truth. If Matt says he sees something, I trust him."
I stood up and looked to Matt to see he had a faint blush color his cheeks. Even though the temptation to comment on his change in skin color was strong, I shoved my inner bully away and asked, "Did I draw the line exactly?"
He swallowed and nodded, "Y-yeah."
"Okay then." I took in a deep breath and handed my second short dagger to Matt so I could grip the long one with both my hands. "Everyone, step back. Not sure how this will turn out, but no harm in trying."
"Unless it kills you," Daniel muttered but nonetheless stepped further away.
I held the dagger point down over my head and focused on the line I had drawn. I imagined what Matt described, the black smoke, blood splatters and glowing. I thought with such intensity, I almost saw my etched line turn into the glowing crack only he could see.
With a grunt, I plunged the long dagger into the board, right on the top of the line. When it was lodged in, I dragged it down the etching. As I tugged the blade, I felt the air around us change. It was similar to teleportation, but this was different in the sense that it wasn't my skin tingling, but the air was breaking apart. Like I was cutting through an invisible wall made of Jell-O.
As I cut the board, black smoke began to seep through the tear until I saw the bloodstains and glowing crack. I kept pulling the dagger down the now visible crack until I reached the end. I was blown back by a blast of pure magic and darkness, crashing into whoever was behind me. I heard Tigerlily scream as the wind was too strong for her small wings to battle and I heard Matt and Daniel's yelps.
I shielded my eyes with my arms, squinting against the blast. When I no longer felt the overpowering force, I slowly lowered my hands to see I was sitting in the center of the main auditorium of the school with the stage right in front. The stage was far from empty though.
All around the stage, metal cages secreting dank, black smoke piled around or on top of each other. The cages weren't unoccupied though, they contained humans. Children, teenagers, babies, adults, even the elderly. Humans of various ethnics, ages and sizes crammed into the many cages looking as if their next breath would be their last. Fear was etched in every face, and when they saw the four of us, rage and terror emanated from them.
I turned behind me to see Matt sprawled out with Tigerlily caught in his hands and Daniel was the person I crashed into. I got up and ran to the cages, not checking to see if the others were following at my heels.
I stopped at the first cage and gripped the bars, looking for a door or some way to open the metal contraption. "Don't worry, we'll get you out," I promised to the group who had backed away as I approached.
"Stay away you monster!" a frail woman screeched. She held her child close to her chest and the others began to yell and thrash.
"Why should we trust you?!"
"Keep away you demon!"
I backed away, confused.
Matt came up behind me with a confused frown. Soon, all the conscious caged humans began yelling and screaming.
"Stay away, monsters!"
"Haven't you tortured us enough?"
"Go back to Hell where you came from!"
The shouts got mingled, English mixed with languages from across the world. But they were all saying the same thing.
"Hey!" Matt roared, slightly angry. "She's riskin' her life to save you! She's no monster!" He was defending me. I sensed Tigerlily and Daniel walk up behind us, but I couldn't remove my attention from the fury directed at me for no apparent reason. What in Hell's name did Draheim do to them in such a short amount of time?
A gangly man pointed at me, "She's got fire eyes of a demon and a black wing. What are you? Another Hell creature?"
The others shouted in agreement, though they were terrified. Barking Chihuahuas. When smaller creatures are threatened they resort to attacking.
"I'm human, like you. She's not a demon, she saved my life. Now she's savin' yours," Matt rebutted.
I turned to see my back and there it was, my wing was out. How? I hadn't released it though. Was it the blast?
"You traitor to mankind! Siding with a demon," one of the humans spat. Matt was momentarily shocked and soon other began spitting curses to Matt as they did to me.
The shouts became louder and louder, filling my ears until a flash of light and smoke erupted from behind us coupled with tremors sending the humans screaming and me off my feet once again.
When the shaking ended, I stood up, helping Matt along the way and asked, "You guys alright?"
They each responded with their own grunt or grimace when a maniacal laugh resounded from the center of the auditorium. I whipped around and pulled my gun out from my waistband since the sudden blow from the crack had thrown my dagger out of my hands. I aimed the barrel towards where the laughter originated from, directly at a leering Draheim.
He had changed his appearance, but I recognized the mad grin that adorned his face. He was no longer a portly old man, but a middle-aged stick, all flesh and bones. His eyes though... They were black, soulless and empty. Lucifer's at least looked alive with emotions even if well hidden, but Draheim's? They were dead.
"So he really is the boy of the Prophecy. But where's his little girlfriend? The one with wings of fire and darkness." Draheim sneered. He was completely fearless of my gun aimed at his chest where his heart would be. He strolled leisurely to the front of the stage until he was standing right before the stairs.
I maneuvered myself to stand in front of the others so that if Draheim attacked I'd be the first in line. I heard them move behind me, probably readying themselves.
"You better stop, Draheim. If we were able to get here, the Council troops are sure to follow. Release your spell and surrender," I called out. I cocked the gun and smirked grimly, "Is what I'm supposed to say, but I doubt you'd listen."
Draheim laughed coldly, "If you weren't a hybrid mistake, I wouldn't have minded having you be part of my army. My leading general perhaps." He tsked, "But you're too loyal to the big guy downstairs. Such a shame."
I noticed that the humans were deadly silent and a quick glance showed me that they were screaming muted screams. "Let them go, Draheim," I ordered sternly even though I knew he wouldn't listen. "They haven't done anything. They didn't even know of our existence until now."
He laughed, "After going through all the trouble of capturing them? They should feel honored. The first batch of worthless humans to feel my power. The first of many useless trash to be disposed of. Their screams shall be heard across this wasted world to show the rise of a great power." He smiled and said simply, "Me."
"You sick bastard..." I scowled, my tone leaving a rancid taste.
He began to pace along the length of the steps, and I never let my gun stray from his chest. "I could give you what you've always wanted, little Nyx."
"Don't call me that," I spat out. The words sounded vile coming from him.
He pretended not to have heard me and continued, "I could give you what has made you an outcast your entire life. I can give you a second wing."
"That's impossible," I replied blankly. I should know. During one of the lowest points in my long life, I spent almost thirty desperate years looking for some way to have two wings. I searched through multiple spell, lore, myth, alchemy and enchantment books and came with nothing. So many sleepless nights just going through all the information I could find, steal and borrow. All for naught.
Draheim chuckled ominously, "It is also impossible for a mere warlock to live for three extra centuries, survive a death blow from Satan himself and create a drug to take over the minds of supernaturals in order to rid the world of humans, hybrids and half breeds. I know just what to do to give you two large pairs of black wings, little Nyx."
Small drifts of smoke floated out from the barrel. "I said, don't call me that."
Draheim looked down at the bullet lodged in the left side of his chest. He placed his palm across the hole and inhaled sharply. He shook, and then crumpled to the floor to his knees with his head down.
Something's not right. It can't have been that easy.
I tensed in preparation for whatever was to come. It was not over yet.
"Did...you just..." Matt whispered. I put a hand up to silence him and waited. I watched Draheim's form, still on his knees. Just when I sensed someone behind me step forward, probably Matt, laughter left the lips of the warlock.
His head rolled back and pure, hoarse, cold sweat-creating laughter erupted from his lips. He stood up, still laughing and stuck two of his fingers into the hole in his chest. Right where his heart should have been, he slowly pulled out the bullet.
"Oh my..." Tigerlily gagged behind me.
Not a single drop of blood.
"That actually stung. Lucifer's little weapon? Ha," Draheim jeered. His voice held only smug, sadistic glee, not an ounce of pain. He grinned maliciously, "My turn."
I tensed immediately as dark matter surrounded Draheim's hand once again. This time it was larger, brighter, much more powerful. Sparks of deep purple lightning surrounded the ball.
"Dan, Tiger, Matt, dive out of the away!" I shouted just as Draheim released the dark magic ball. I dived to the side, rolling to a stop on my feet to see that the ball had only gone half the distance. It was just floating there and Draheim had his hand stretched forward, palm face up. He curled his fingers in until he was left with only his index finger pointing forward.
I stood up and checked quickly to see that the others had heeded my warning and were now spread out and getting up themselves, though Tigerlily just had to fly.
"What is it that the younger people say? Psych?" Draheim smirked. He began to twirl his forefinger in a circular motion and the magic globe began to follow his gesture. He moved his finger to the left, the ball moved, the right, the ball went to the right. He made a Z, the ball moved in a Z formation.
"I'll give you one last chance, Nyx," Draheim drawled though his eyes showed his seriousness. "Join me or die."
"How about you go and fuck yourself with a cactus," I growled.
He wrinkled his nose in disgust, "Pity, for a hybrid, you did have some talent. Good bye."
Draheim flicked his fingers and the sphere went into to motion. I tried to jump out of the way again, but my feet were trapped. I looked down and saw that he had magicked my feet to the ground with black chains. I couldn't move.
"Nyx!" Daniel, Tigerlily and Matt yelled in warning. I couldn't do anything. I struggled uselessly but the sphere just came closer, time slowed but I knew mine was about to end. So, I stood tall in a pathetic attempt of a last stand.
"No!" a gut-wrenching cry tore through the distorted time, shattering the lagging effect.
The sphere of dark magic sped up and slammed right into the body that ran to protect me. The one I was supposed to protect. The frail human with forest green eyes and a head of sun streaked dark brown hair.