Chapter 31: Loss of Innocence

9 2 0

It's hopeless.

She stood surrounded by enemies far beyond her measure. A dozen soldiers augmented by archonic mana all focused their heavy assault rifles on her. A specter of despair stood close behind her, his mere presence filling her with dismay. And her nemesis, the deadly Wu'laujan, who had just taken the love of her life from her, stood before her, mocking her.

Though Teijurzi would protect her and heal her, she held no more mana for which she could use to fight back. Wu'laujan was right. She wasted it foolishly. Not that she could prevail against such an insurmountable force, anyway, but she might have been able to avenge her wife using the last of her archon busters.

She wiped the tears from her eyes, and decided it didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore. It was over. Courtney was gone. But she had to try. Taylor Calvin and her father, possessed by the vile fiend, Visnau, tormented her in the past, and the hellish ordeal forged her into a strong, capable woman. No matter what, she wouldn't go down without a fight.

Two heavy hands grabbed her arms from behind. "It's over, lass," an acolyte's deep voice said in a thick accent. "I do not wish to hurt you, Miss Amber."

She knew that voice. Emil Kyrzinski was once a trusted ally, a devoted bodyguard, and almost a friend to her in the past, but somehow, he was now a possessed acolyte. Her sadness for him only left her more vulnerable to Jornell's haunting presence.

She fought the sensation from his violet mana. They could have killed her easily by now, but no, they were keeping her alive – and she remembered why. They needed her. They wouldn't let her throw her life away. They wouldn't show her friends the same regard. She jerked to break free from Kyrzinski's grip, but he proved much too strong, and without any mana of her own, she was sorely unable to resist his firm hold.

Hopeless, she lamented again, and her gun finally lowered.

She felt the massive acolyte shift to drag her away, and she could not even begin to fight him, but then an otherworldly screech filled the air. They all turned to see Wu'laujan standing rigid with her mouth agape in shock and agony, her fingers tensed starkly – and a long, curved blade protruding from her chest as black as the darkest night, save for the red kanji letters etched in its side.

Before Amber could begin to contemplate the meaning of it, her world rocked from a massive explosion behind her. The huge acolyte's body slammed into her, shielding her from an immense heat, and they were both thrown through air violently by an unseen force. Tangled up with Kyrzinski's body, she couldn't attempt to roll with the landing, and so she struck the ground brutally. Hard earth was the last thing she felt before her world faded into darkness.


*****


Gradually, something came back to her. Her head swam, emerging from a deep, dark emptiness. Other people stood around her, watching her. This was an unusual experience for her. Typically when she slept, her dreams were vivid and woke her suddenly. Yet she couldn't remember anything. Nothing except...

She assumed she must be in horrible condition after her body was smashed into oblivion, yet she felt no pain. She felt calm despite the terrible experience, everything that happened to her, and everything that happened to...

"Come on, honey, you can wake up now."

Though she was so close to waking fully, she squeezed her eyes shut at the sound of that voice. If she was hearing that, then she must not have survived the explosion after all. She was dead, and in the world between Earth and the afterlife – the Astral Plane.

Whispers from the VoidRead this story for FREE!