“We trusted you! How could you betray us?”Her shrill voice drifted through the portal. How had it gone so wrong? How had they gotten to that point? I tensed, staring at my once good friend, Kristarian, who was blocking our way forward. Instead of his usual golden helmet, what he wore was blacker than coal, decorated with a pair of pointed horns that had been dipped in blood.
My mind raced, my body tense as I stood in front of the others, trying to hold them back. There was a possibility that it was all just a misunderstanding. Kristarian’s wings still glowed a fluorescent white, so his soul had not yet been plunged into the darkness. “You don’t have to do this.” Trysianna- his wife- held out her hand. “Just come back with me. It will all be on.”
“You don’t understand! You never did!” Kristarian yelled, tears clinging to the corners of his eyes. I tried to get my thoughts in order, but I still couldn’t wrap my head around why Kristarian had betrayed us, especially after giving up all of his father’s secrets to prove his loyalty to the Creator once again.
“You think I don’t hurt everyday? You think I don’t miss our little baby with every part of my heart? This isn’t the answer.” She pleaded, but Kristarian backed away. Not even his wife could get through to him. We were all doomed.
“I have to do this.” He said darkly, suddenly raising his hand. A black mist started to crackle and form around his fingers, and I quickly flew in front of it’s path. There was no way I would let the other’s suffer at the hands of a traitor. As their guide, it was my duty to keep them safe until the battle.
“If you want to get to them, you’re going to have to go through me.” I threatened, puffing out my chest and raising my sword. I had always been one to advocate for peace, but if it meant protecting my friends, I would stand and fight in a heartbeat.
The mist surrounding Kristarian’s hands halted for just a moment, as if he was trying to contemplate what to do. But then it grew again. “I have to do this.” Kristarian yelled, tensing as the black mist grew. I watched in horror as it swallowed Kristarian’s whole hand, listening to his screams of anguish as his brilliant white wings shriveled and turned black. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, and when he opened them again they were a burning red.
“Everyone fall back!” I yelled, backing away as I desperately tried to warn the others. In all my 557 years, I had never seen a power quite like that before. It devoured everything around it, leaving behind a thick, black sludge.
Kristiarian struggled, his breathing becoming noisy and labored. His forehead glistened with sweat, and the mist finally stopped growing- only inches away from my face. “I’m sorry.” I heard him whisper before screaming again, and suddenly a black vortex shot out around us.
“Saerin!” A voice behind me yelled, grabbing my arm and yanking me away from the attack. I scrambled to get to my lover’s side, but the black sludge was gaining on it. I felt a tickle up my side, and I think I heard myself scream.
Then, everything went black.
The next thing I heard was my own choking. My eyes shot open as I wheezed and gasped, trying to fill my lungs with air once again. I yelled out in pain, clutching my side- or, where my side used to be. I almost didn’t want to look, but I knew I had to inspect the damage. I turned down, watching my body flicker between one form, and my natural form- light. If I was too injured to hold a bodily form, then I was dying.
I looked around, trying not to think too much about my imminent demise. “Saerin?” I called out into the monochrome space, searching for my lover. I got no answer. “Saerin?” I called again, but louder, panic rising in my throat. There was no one. I was entirely alone. It was like they had all just… vanished. I pushed through the black space, using all my strength just to float backwards a little. I felt my back brush up against something, and I reached behind me to grab it and see what it was. And I paled.
It was an arm.
I sucked in a breath, using my power as I glanced around again. Bits and pieces of souls were strewn across the area, coating the once black space in death. I screamed, pushing myself back a little. Where were the others? Had they been blown to pieces with the troops. “Saerin!” I screamed, my voice echoing across the empty space, but I still got no answer.
My throat clenched with panic as I struggled to take off my sleeve- looking for the mark. On my wrist, a little halo glowed with a soft white light, and I let out a breath I didn’t even know I had been holding in. The bond was still intact, which meant that the others had survived. But where had they gone?
I suddenly stopped floating when my back pressed up against a door. I turned, looking at the brilliant gateway with a little excitement. Of course! They had to be in the Third! The door was still open, so I had some time. I bit down on my sleeve, ripping at the fabric until I had torn off a pretty decent piece. I needed to let someone know that hope was not lost. I was going to find the others, and once we regained our strength, we were going to defeat Lucifer and take back the Seven Realms once and for all. I left the note floating in the space behind me as I pushed open the door.
And then, I fell.