“This is…fascinating,” Kairon crooned. His consciousness invaded every corner of the link, like an aggressive animal searching out new territory, shoving against each of us.
“Get out of here!” Dare raged, and tried to gather his waning energy to buck Kairon from the link.
He failed, miserably.
“Pipe down, insect.” Kairon went to flex his energy to push Dare out, but he hadn’t been in long enough to have complete control; despite his abundance of energy versus ours draining away.
We had to get to Mother, all of us. If we were connected, we could fully enter the link and do a partial meld. Hopefully, that would give us the oomph we needed to get rid of him.
I crawled toward Mother, as Bash and Dare did the same.
“How useless,” Kairon hissed.
Bash was closest, and could barely get a finger through the barrier surrounding Mother and Kairon. Dare joined him not longer after, but held off until I got there, too, to try and not let on to the plan. The barrier was stronger here, next to its source, than at the perimeter of the shrine.
Even after we put our hands one on top of the other, as we did to get through earlier, we couldn’t manage to get inside farther than our elbows. When we stopped our progress, Kairon smiled wider.
“Mother…” I whispered, the effort of trying to pass through the barrier strangling the word, even in my mind. Even if things were to end here, we would see this end together.
Then she looked up at us trying to get through to her. She reached out, her arm and hand trembling to reach us. A slippered foot came down on her hand–hard. With no energy to cry out, her face contorted in a grimace of pain.
It was then that something inside of us snapped. Mother might be bossy, in my business, and obstinate, but she was caring, steadfastly loyal, and kind. No one did that to her and got away with it.
“Hang on,” Bash said, rage like I’d never heard from him in his voice, and suddenly it was like we were being sucked through a space a thousand times smaller than us.
I’d have screamed if I could’ve, but there was nothing in the space, and like Mother I couldn’t muster the energy anyway.
We landed next to Mother in a tangle of bodies, and knocked Kairon away from us. He stumbled forward, and then whipped around, shock over his features.
But he was too late. We were touching, and that was all it took to throw us into a shallow meld.
Maybe because we’d never tried this exactly, or maybe because of the bizarre situation, but we weren’t in the link. Once we melded, we were thrown over Raventide, as though we were flying above it like the seagulls and their hungry ha-ha-ha calls.
The battle between the Angel and the Demon continued to rage, though how long they could continue was anyone’s guess. The Devourer was harrying the Angel while the Demon made calculated attacks. Hood, on the other hand, had no issue keeping the both of them at bay. One was measured and controlled, while the other two were overzealous with their attacks.
We were mesmerized, the four of us, until we were pulled toward Haven. It was over in a blink, and we hovered above, then lowered toward the ground. The children were grouped around Spud, who was on the ground. His form was hazy, and some of the children were weeping. Coye’s eyes were wide and fearful, the fallout of losing the Haven gods like a chaotic stew in her mind. Eero watched on, a sadness and resignation beyond his years on his face.
Spud looked upward, sensing our presence. We reached for him as he reached for us, then he disappeared and reappeared next to us. Some children gasped, while the others cried out, and not a small number fell to the ground and sobbed.
“What is going on?” Spud asked.
“Quiet, little flies, for time is short,” Babaga said, her voice ringing out in in the meld.
“What are you–“
“Silence! Or I shall eat you instead of help.”
We were quiet after that.
“It’s time,” she said, “to have some fun, become more powerful: be as one.”
Dare opened his mouth, which was met by an irritated hiss. He promptly shut it again.
“Picture your goal in your minds, and join hands. Without you, Kairon rules the land. Such a thing cannot pass, the power of gods is not to last,” she intoned.
No god lasted forever, and our power was meant to return to the Celestial, to be recycled for other needs and desires of the humans. When a god, such as Kairon, went beyond their reach, it tainted their energy. Such energy couldn’t be allowed to return to the fold, or risk tainting it all. That was where the Demons and their Devourers came in. They protected the Celestial from the tainted energy by having the Devourer consume the god’s tainted energy.
The Angel’s function was to protect all the gods whose energies had not been tainted. Devourers and Demons made no distinction: any god in their way was fair game.
After the Demon had called Hood an Angel, all the knowledge that Kairon made us forget by manipulating the celestial energy, had come rushing back.
“To what purpose? Fight Kairon? He’s too powerful,” Bash said, and shook his head.
“Together, strong. Apart, fall. Stronger means more control.”
“More control of the Celestial energy? Like what Kairon did to make us forget?” Mother asked.
Babaga cackled. “Smart little bug.” Then, though we could only sense it, she sobered. “Now, shoo.”
The five of us faced each other.
“Beat the tar out of Kairon?” Dare prompted.
“Sounds like the best plan we’ve had in ages,” I said, a feral grin on my lips.
“Then let us concentrate on that,”Bash said, and held out a hand to me.
I took it, and then took Spud’s hand on my other side. Then we all closed our eyes. It wasn’t the easiest thing, keeping my mind from a thousand other thoughts to concentrate on the one, but I willed every fiber of my being toward the one objective: stop Kairon.
It took forever, though only moments must have passed. Slowly, though, something warmed at my fingertips, then progressed up my arms. I didn’t open my eyes, for fear of what I might see, as well as breaking my single-minded determination to kick Kairon’s arrogant head across the city.
When I did open my eyes, everything was different. I was no longer me, but I was. I turned to look down at the children, still expecting them to be absorbed in their grief at losing us. However, they were all looking back up at us, wide-eyed.
“You’re…so beautiful,” Coye whispered, her eyes shining with tears and awe.
It warmed something inside to see her better, if not happy, to see us alive, like the sun breaking through the clouds. Though I wasn’t sure what would happen after this, at least we could give them this moment.
“Go beat the bad man,” Eero said, conviction replacing his resignation. A grim determination on his young features, combined with the line of tears and snot through the dirt on face, made my chest ache. It was a new sensation for me, and it must have been Mother’s contribution to the joining.
We nodded our head at the children, and then turned toward Kairon’s shrine. Golden and black lightning waged war across the skies, as the two protectors of the Celestial continued their battle. Beyond that, the power they wielded struck the barrier and sizzled off. It was time to level the playing field.
“Let’s go,” we said, our voices and purpose united.