28. A Fiery Tempter. A Shattered Heart.

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The man named Riden pushes the dagger deeper into Vanya her skin. She doesn't dare to breathe, causing her lungs to burn. Even though her eyes should stay on the man in fear, they stay on Elisa. Now that no words can leave her lips, Vanya attempts to talk to Elisa through her eyes.

And Elisa understands her. The glossy, broken and panicking eyes tell Elisa that Vanya truly doesn't want Elisa to choose her above the world. If you cause the end of the world, then I'll die with all the others, too. I'll die anyway. Vanya attempts to tell Elisa, but there are countless more words that Elisa reads from her expression.

She'll die both ways, Elisa knows that. But she doesn't want Vanya to die. She doesn't want anyone to die. But that is a fantasy that cannot happen. Some must die, and Elisa knows who it is.

The handler.

She should've killed the woman earlier. The fire should've burned her. Maybe then Vanya wouldn't have that dagger pressed to her throat. Maybe then Elisa wouldn't have to choose between ending the whole world and watching Vanya's throat get slit.

The handler is causing all this hurt and misery. This has to stop, and Elisa knows how to stop it, but it seems impossible . . . killing the handler. Well, not impossibke—clearly. Elisa almost killed her just today. But she doesn't want to be a murderer. She doesn't want to ruin herself like that.

A sigh leaves Elisa her lips. Some things she cannot choose. Some things must happen in order to save millions of people. The handler must die. Elisa knows it. She has known it before this moment, too. She knew it when she almost put the handler on fire. Back then, she stopped herself. But now she will not do so. The handler must burn.

"Accept the fire burning in you, Elisa." It is the handler's voice that shakes Elisa out of her thoughts. Hearing this voice, Elisa knows what she has to do. Today, Elisa will intend to kill, but at the same time she will save the entire world. "Accept it."

"I accept it," Elisa murmurs quietly. No one heard her. "I accept my fate."

The now familiar feeling rises in Elisa again. Her whole body shakes softly as her eyes burn again with the same blinding light that scared Cha Cha before. Not only Elisa changes. No, her surroundings do as well. At first, it is only the ground that shakes softly. Nothing much, really. But the handler notices this, and a smile comes upon her dry lips. She thinks Elisa is truly going to cause the end of the world.

A fog appears—but no normal one. This fog is a combination between dust and fog. It thickens, and no one is able to see much. Elisa narrows her eyes, thinking of everyone's place in her head. Hazel and Cha Cha stand behind her, several steps from Vanya and Riden. The handler is somewhere in front of Elisa, but that does not matter—not yet. First, Elisa will rescue Vanya out of Riden's grip. That promises to be tough since she's completely in his hold.

Determined to save Vanya, Elisa starts to walk. The dark fog makes sure she cannot see a thing, too, but she remembers. She rushes herself forward. Riden and Vanya should be just a few steps . . . There. They are right in front of Elisa.

Vanya whimpers when Riden's dagger lowers. Panicking because of the fog, Riden puts the dagger back in his pocket. Yet, his arms curl around Vanya, pressing her back against his chest.

"Don't think of anything," he warns her.

Immediately, Elisa goes for him. Riden notices soon enough since she's in his eyesight. Fortunately, he doesn't make any sound. Not yet. He frees Vanya, but he pushes her behind him. This makes Elisa sigh in relief.

Even when Riden takes out his dagger again, Elisa does not flinch when he aims the weapon at her because Vanya is out of eyesight—for now.

Riden attempts to press the dagger to Elisa her throat, but a fireball fixes this. Elisa blasts it at the hand with the dagger, causing the weapon to fall on the ground, making a sound. This was a mistake. Surely everyone has heard.

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