Journey to Hell - 12 | iii

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Seeing the sign, Ava knew where they needed to be. Using another portal, she cut their journey short. They came through some distance away from their destination, intending to make the rest of the way on foot. They did not get far before they came under attack.

"Shadows."

They broke away from the shadows of the trees coming at her and Penny from all angles. Ava was confused and panicked at the same time, her mind going in a million different directions. The only other person she knew who could wield shadow magic in this world was soul-dead on an examination table in Pentorium. Salvay had the magic he stole from the temple in Zanu, but it was one of light, not death. He would not have been able to do this.

Several shadows tried to overpower Penny, one going for her soul. It looked like it was trying to suck a tennis ball through a straw. Ava blasted them with magic, disintegrating them into flashes of light. She came to stand side by side with Penny.

"None of this makes sense." She blasted another wave of shadows that rushed towards them, a blanket of soul-consuming darkness.

Ava noticed that when Penny breathed her breath came out condensed. She huffed a breath out seeing the same thing when she did. Her brows furrowed as she did it a second time. It was warm out. Why were their breaths turning into cold vapor? Ava placed the reason too late.

"Penny, no!" It's too late now; she heard Passerini's voice in her head. She was not able to stop Penny as she charged towards the source of the cold spot. A shadow Gollum. The worst of the worst. At the same time, another horde of shadows came at Ava cutting her off from Penny, both locked in a fight for their lives. These shadows were stronger. They were not fragments like the ones Sven could create. These were originals. They could have only come from one place.

Ava dug deep creating a massive rune that exploded, scattering the shadows and the Gollum. With her field of vision cleared, she saw Penny on the ground, wounded and laying on her side. The shadows and the Gollum were closing in again the effects of the rune wearing off. Ava ran to Penny creating a hasty portal underneath them, not giving the gateway any directions.

She came out on the other side free falling through the air. Through the portal, the Gollum started to descend.

"Lac nu." Ava sent a blast of energy in its direction knocking it back so the portal could close, preventing the thing from following them through. She had no time after that to cushion her fall or Penny's.

The sound of thunder woke Ava. She hissed as she grimaced trying to move. Overhead the sky was alive with dancing arcs of lightning, the thunder booming through the night. Black clouds rolled across the heavens, a fierce storm developing. It was no ordinary storm. Between the shadows, the Gollum and the display of chaos above them Ava knew what was happening. The final chapter of the war had started. Lansguard had come to Earth.

***

Anabella wiped the blood from her nose, rolling the napkin into a ball in her fist. Since waking up from what the others said was a catatonic stupor, she'd been having headaches. The nosebleeds were a bonus from her trip into Sven's mind. Once she got past the sludge, she entered the mind of a man who felt too much. A man who was driven by debilitating fear, quelling the fear in him by instilling it in others. Sven was a complicated man. Peeling back each layer had taken a toll. How extensive the damage was she did not tell the others. They did not need to be worrying about her when so many other things were happening.

She stood on the outside of Anax Corp needing the fresh air. Around her, men moved in a frenzy, preparations underway for a mass evacuation. All the persons underground in the bunker were going to be bused to the Mountain, forgoing the original plan to move in organized waves. They had no time to be organized with what was coming. She looked up at the storm churning above them. It was a familiar sight, one that had brought with it death and destruction in the dead of night. The memories she used to place the phenomenon were Sven's, not hers. His memories were bleeding into her own, and Anabella was anxious that she was not going to be able to separate the two. The last thing she wanted was for the lines to blur to the point where she could not discern her memories and emotions from Sven's.

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