Chapter 33 - Night Reveals Her Hand

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Jaylina was slowly suffocating.

She, along with Aiden and Bellamy, were trapped in an immense pool filled with a thick blue-glowing substance that engulfed her like tar, pulling her relentlessly downwards into its sticky mire. Nearly her entire essence was beneath the ether-sap. Only her eyes and one arm that she rested on the surface remained free. She could feel it consuming her, disintegrating her, merging her into it one iota at a time. She saw Aiden struggling against it but there was nothing she could do to help him right now. Bellamy, half-submerged, didn't fight at all. He just leaned sideways, regarding everything as though watching a sad play, looking for a moment like the statue of a steadfast captain going down with his ship.

The pool was ringed with hundreds, perhaps thousands of hissing, slithering shadows of all grotesque shapes and sizes, taunting and daring the trio to escape: The stuff of nightmares.

Above her, like a weak thread of pulsating light swaying high into a smokey dome of nothingness that reached a thousand meters or more up into the ether, she spied her silver cord. It looked so terribly thin and fragile. A faint and reluctant light attempted to make its way down from that great height but its pittance couldn't seem to find its way to the bottom of the pit.

Beyond, the dark walls of a grand chamber reached into the infinite around the pool. They were carved with obscure symbols and images of creatures Jaylina could have scarcely imagined. The timeless engines of Night reverberated through the chamber and powered the machinery that moved the moon across the sky and turned the Eater of Souls as it fed in the Void.

Ghosts we may be in this universe, and yet we are prisoners, Jaylina thought.

Michael stood on a high transparent platform of moon-glass in the center of the chamber where he had tumbled. How he survived the fall, Jaylina did not know but his umbrella was missing. He was surrounded by the Shadow Queen's dark hordes. Night Herself stood silent and menacing on the platform facing Michael.

Other than the platform there was no floor.

Below them all turned the galactic mouth of the Eater.

To fall now would be to fall forever, she thought.

She wanted to speak to Michael but could not lift her mouth to the surface of the blue ether-sap. Even if she could, it was unlikely he would hear her over the pandemonium of the shadows.

Three monstrous shades attacked Michael, and he dispatched them with the Sword of the Sun, leaving only the Goddess of the Night alone with him on the platform.

"You have threatened my kind long enough, demon," Michael said in a powerful voice that echoed between the great cracked beams that held up the bones of this primal holy place.

To Jaylina, Michael seemed so small standing next to Her: Goddess of the Night, Queen of Shadow. She was glorious.

"Demon?" hissed the Night. "Even you dare to label me thus? You of all mortal souls?"

In her wrath, the beauty of Night entranced Jaylina.

Michael gripped the Sword of the Sun, took a deep breath and looked into the eyes of the Shadow Queen.

"And so the mortal agent of Light challenged the immortal Night," whispered Bellamy. His eyes were wide as he drifted near Jaylina, his little arms covered by the elixir they stewed in.

"It's time to end this," said Michael.

"Because the pawn of Light says so?" snapped the Night.

"I'm no one's plaything," he responded.

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