Lethe laughed as she and Phlegethon watched the building collapse. Her brother was silent, lost in the dance of the flames and swaying to the rhythem of the rain. Swaying to the rhythem of the rain.
The young girl savored the anticipation of praise for a job well done. Nothing stirred within the rubble of the building. The eldest could rest easily for the Overlord of Corruption was dead! She laughed mirthlessly as she pulled her brother away.
Not far away
Thunderstorm and Kayura had managed to pull themselves from the press of humanity that threatened to claim them as two more victims. So many had been trampled, so many had died. And so few had been able to escape.
Storm shook her wet hair back from her face. The umbrella had been lost, but that wasn't anything compared to the instant fear she felt when she couldn't find either of the men. Kayura wasn't hard to spot, after the mob had run away, her slight form slipping up the street, pausing here and there to check on people. No one breathed. Kayura's face was etched with sadness and pain.
Storm met her halfway down the street. The Cherokee could feel something on the air, something dark.. evil.
"We have to get back to Dais and Cale." the woman said, her eyes shining mysteriously. "I fear the worst."
Thunderstorm followed her silently, unwilling to ask the question that posed itself to her. 'What's the worst?'
Down the street
"CALE!!" Dais' voice echoed down the empty street for some distance.
He waded into the rubble, pushing slabs of brick, blocks of concrete, sm ouldering wood and insulation from his path, searching franticly for his comrade. His armor was beginning to lose its lustre, caked with mud and ichor and soot. His mind numbed with ideas that he didn't want to play with.
He saw the two Children of Hell depart, but he didn't care. Nothing was as important as finding Cale. He called his name again. He opened his mind to the others, testing the link between the eight, attempting to do what he had never done before.
'HELP!' His mental voice cried. Keeping his mind open, he could feel pain and fear, but the strength was quickly ebbing. Cale was alive, but not for long!
With a cry of semi-truimph, Dais fell back to digging through the rubble.
As Kayura and Storm appeared on the scene, Storm froze upon sighting the armored-man flinging aside rubble. She knew on sight that it was Dais beneath the maroon steel, but she refused to believe that she was not dreaming. Kayura ran forward, looking for Cale. Tears gathered in her eyes as she drew nearer to Dais, as she began to understand what he was searching for. Her tears flowed and mixed with the rain as she fell among the choatic mess.
Dais grunted as he lifted a large slab of concrete off the pile. He nearly passed out when he saw Cale's Sword of Darkness, held loosely in a curled fist. Working with more urgency now, he cleared the mess from Cale's prone form. Lifting his body gently out, Dais was met with no resistance. Kayura looked up, and leapt to her feet, tearing away from the tenative comfort that Thunderstorm had offered.
"Cale!" she cried, sobbing.
Dais laid his friend upon the ground, then removed his helmet, exposing Cale's easeful face to the elements. In Cale's mind, there was no pain, no fear, now, only a depressing clarity. Kayura fell to her knees, putting Cale's head in her lap, her tears splashed on his face, running over his closed eyelids and cheeks with the steady flow of rain.
His eyes flickered open weakly.
K...kayura.." was his only word.
She put her fingers to his lips, hushing him. Dais rose solemnly, fixing his eyes on Thunderstorm.
The Cherokee stood not far off, with her face raised to the clouds. Her mouth was moving, like she was speaking, but Dais could hear no words. The rain swirled around a shadowy figure in the street, a shadowy figure that solidified and became Storm's friend, Moonshadow. Shadow was silent, walking with refined grace to Storm's side. The young blonde rested a hand on Storm's shoulder, comforting the Cherokee.
Since her birth in America, Thunderstorm had taken great pride in all her abilities, all except for one. At the age of fourteen, she had been chosen to praticipate in her tribe's annual Sun Dance, where the tribe would dance and chant for a prosperous year. Her uncle had been the tribe shaman, and he had chosen her to follow in his footsteps.
Now she tapped the powers hidden since the Sun Dance, the powers of the supernatural world. Her eyes rolled back in her head, as she fed the rai nclouds; thunder rolled.
Moonshadow kept one eye on Storm, and one eye on Cale. Even from the distance between them, with her eyesight enhanced by the flow of energies around the Cherokee shaman, she could see the shallow rise and fall of his chest. Then, she felt a tug within her soul, just like she had less than a decade ago, on the same day that Thunderstorm had danced the Sun Dance. Shadow was a Conduit, one of the rare humans who could withstand the tremdous strain of channeling raw energy. The tug on her soul meaned that Storm needed more power to complete her task, and that power had to come from Shadow.
Lightning flashed, rippling the sky with a crack of subsequent thunder. The two women were surrounded in an aura of St. Elmo's Fire; Thunderstorm's arms raised in silent plea to whatever higher powers there were.
Elsewhere, in hidden spot, Styx doubled over with agony, a pure, brilliant blue beam of light erupting within the Jewel of Transcendance. The burning pain was a reaction to the energy of life that Thunderstorm was calling down.
And in Mia's home, lying atop her dresser, the Jewel of Life erupted with a flame-like light, reacting to the proximity of the Jewel of Transcendance.
Thunderstorm's chant could not be heard over the crashing of thunder. Dais' eyes strained to see her through the downpour and flashes of lightning. Kayura attempted to shield Cale's eyes from the light, to protect him from the unfathomable fury of the storm. As his breath became weaker and weaker in his throat, his body began to glow, to burn with a heat, growing stronger with each lightning strike and each thunder clap.
Then, as suddenly as the storm had heightened, it died away, leaving not a drop of rain falling. The clouds boiled overhead, soon calming to a placid sea of greyness. Thunderstorm dropped her hands and staggered, face lined with fear and exhaustion. Shadow supported her best friend, silent, as she had been the entire time. Together, they walked towards the Overlords.
Kayura's tears had stopped, and now she tore her eyes away from the Cherokee, and looked down to the face of the man she loved. His eyes were closed; the features, easeful. But... his skin was bright with the flush of life; he breathed a steady rhythem. As she watched, his eyes opened, and he looked directly into her face.. and he smiled.