Moonshadow smiled at Thunderstorm.
She had known the instant that they had met this group of close-knit
friends that the Cherokee's shaman powers would resurface. It
had been an undoubted fact. One thing Shadow had never expected
though was the men having secrets of thier own to keep. Shadow
glanced at the mound of rubbery flesh that was heaped in the road,
and then at the two men and Kayura.
Thunderstorm was standing under her own power now, albeit unsteadily, but she was standing. Kayura had sat Cale up, and the Overlord was carefully watching the two young women as they approached. Dais stared, eye wide. Then in order not to alarm anyone, he banished the full armor and stood quietly watching the scene in his dark green body-armor.
Storm watched him carefully out of the corner of her eye. Shadow smiled at him, showing no fear. Kayura stood slowly.
"How.. how did you do that?" Kayura asked the Cherokee, one hand resting on Cale's shoulder.
Storm merely smiled, extending her hand to aid Cale in standing. The Overlord accepted, with a moment's hesitation. Once standing, he brushed his hand against Kayura's in a silent thanks.
"Tell us, please," Dais asked, joining the group fully. "How did you manage that feat, Storm?"
"We all have our little secrets," Storm began, her voice still resonating with the dormant power of the supernatural. Her glance strayed to Shadow, who reached out and flicked her fingernail against the shoulder-guard of Cale's battle armor. "Some require little explaination, some require much."
Cale, too, banished his battle armor after a moments thought, leaving him standing in his crimson body padding. He glanced at Kayura, waiting to see what she'd say before speaking himself.
Kayura nodded her head at Storm. "I respect your secrets. Thank you for saving Cale's life. Thank you."
"I owe you, Thunderstorm." Cale said, his throat felt raw and sore from the heat of the flames that he had been buried within.
He ran a hand through his hair, shaking it clean of soot and ash on his way through. Kayura ducked out from beneath the damp shower, glaring playfully at the Overlord.
Storm and Shadow glanced at one another.
"We have some things to talk over," Storm said quietly. "Excuse us."
Taking the silent Shadow by her arm, they walked off into the damp greyness, fading away like ghosts. Cale squinted to see if he could discern them from the background, but found no trace of them left. Kayura took his hand.
"Let's get you back to Mia's." She breathed. "Both of you need to be cleaned up."
Dais looked down at himself, finding the gooey green ichor from the beholder on his hands and armor. Smiling, he mused to himself.
"What in the Seven Circles of Hell was that?" Diamond shrieked.
Styx panted, face flushed clean of color, her eyes wore dark circles. The Jewel of Transendance was silent, dormant, dark. Not a gleam or a glimmer gave indication of the pure light that had emitted from it seconds ago. The cantrip that Diamond had placed upon it was still alive; it had moved slightly, becoming a visible black cresent against the dull surface.
Styx shrugged, having not yet regained the facilities of her speech. She closed her hand around the Jewel and it flared to life again. The brilliance forced even Diamond to look away. The young Emperess' mouth opened in a soundless scream of agony. Just at that moment, Lethe and Phlegethon appeared in the tiny glen.
Lethe, seeing her sister in the throes of agony, rushed over, prying her fingers loose from the Stone. Phlegethon joined his two sisters, breaking the cord that was looped around Styx's neck and yanking the Jewel away.
Diamond could see the cantrip fly loose, its six spindley little legs splayed. The sorceress moved to catch it, but was too slow. Archeron snatched the insect-beast from the air, looking at it with disinterest. Diamond held her hand out, demanding the cantrip.
Acheron looked from the sorceress to his sister. "Should I?"
Styx nodded, panting to catch her breath. As Diamond recieved the cantrip from Acheron, Phlegethon held the Jewel up by the cord. It glowed with a pure, healthy light, alternating colors between sky blue and angelic white. His brow furrowed in confusion as Diamond approached, murmuring the arcane and esoteric words of magic.
The cantrip leapt from her hands, folding its legs around the Jewel and altering its own coloring and that of the Jewel to a sickly shade of blue and ivory. Styx straightened, rasping in the backwash of pain.
"What happened?" she demanded.
"The cantrip slipped," Diamond explained. "Without the cantrip, the Jewel is unable to be physically touched by those with evil thoughts."
"Sister!" Lethe exclaimed, at the same moment. "The Overlord of Corruption is dead!"
Styx stared at the two youngest members of her family. Phlegethon thudded his fist against his chest, puffed out with pride.
"We worked together."
he declared, with a toss of his fiery red mane of hair.
Styx beamed with pride.
"Good work.." she murmured. "Now only if we could take the others down as easily."
"Remember," Phlegethon growled. "The orange runt's mine.."
Sage's boredom wore off as one after another the guys returned to spend a few hours together at Mia's. Aside from the time they spent at Mia's, the guys were never together as a full group. And after the rain had stopped today, they were all eager to get outside and work out thier pent up energies. Today, the usually inane chatter was confined to serious talks about that.. that thing that had floated through town earlier.
Cale, Dais, and Kayura had returned silently to the house, and without making thier presence known, retired for the evening. The Ronins, along with Sekhmet and Liza, sat outside on the deck, awaiting the return of Mia and Artemis. Kento paced the deck irratably, rubbing his square jaw with one hand and with the other stuck deep into his pocket.
"So, what do you think that was, Sage?" Rowen asked the pensive Warrior of Light.
"I have not a clue." Sage smiled though. "I only saw if for a few seconds before it knocked the news camera out."
"From what I heard, it was big and round," Cye inserted.
"With a whole bunch of eyes on it."
"And it floated on the air, as if it were flying," Sekhmet finished.
Liza let out a nervous laugh. "Do you really believe that there was anything there? What if it were a hoax? Or maybe they were filming a new.. a new Godzilla movie or something.."
"Liza," Sekhmet began as gently as possible. "This is something very serious. If you had seen some of the things that we have, you would understand the whole problem."
Liza turned to look into Sekhmet's eyes. "That's the whole problem!" she exclaimed. "I don't understand! There's a lot of things that you haven't told me about yourself, Sekhmet! I want to understand as much as I want to help you. But you have to help me to understand you."
Sekhmet gave a deep sigh, closing his eyes and shaking his head slowly. "One of these days, I'll explain it all to you, but not right now."
The sound of an opening door cut him short. Looking up, he joined all the others in gazing towards the sliding doors that led out onto the deck from the house.
Artemis pushed the doors apart, and walked outside, followed by Mia.
"I am telling you, Mia," Artemis was saying. "That creature that terrorized the city today was a beholder. A beast that was fairly common in the Underrealm when the wizard covens still held power."
Liza was instantly confused. "Underrealm? Wizard covens? Someone had some explaining to do!"