To Hell and Back - 13 | ii

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Getting to the portal was proving to be an impossible task. Kunz's forces gave little ground no matter how hard Ava, Penny, and Marx pushed against them. With each life she took, each life she watched disintegrate into quick bursts of light at the hands of her allies, a gaping hole formed in her chest. She was supposed to be saving her people not killing them. When did her plans come to this? When did it become her new home versus the old? Whom was she kidding? It was always like this. How was she to have one without losing hold on the other?

"Listen to me," she pleaded with the two shadows before her. "You don't have to do this. Kunz is using you." They came at her ignoring her words. She kept them at bay continuing to use reason. "You're better than this."

"We are nothing," one of them said. Its words sounded as if they were coming from inside a vacuum cleaner on its highest speed.

"That's a lie," Ava shouted. "You are something. So much more than fodder for someone else's war."

"You used us," the other shadow said. "Promised us power. You used us."

They came at her again, three more shadows joining them in the circle they formed caging her in the middle.

"Power—that was your promise," another said, echoing the previous sentiment of its comrade.

Another chimed in, "You left us!"

Ava lost track of which was saying what as their tirade came at her from all angles. Defense for the violence she had, for the truth, she had nothing.

"We starved for years in the darkness."

"Kunz saved us."

"This world belongs to the shadows."

"To the darkness, this world will fall."

"He is using you." Ava kept on trying because she had to. Because they were her people. Because she would have been like them if she had not been one of the chosen few. One out of ten higher rankings who made up The Order.

One of the shadows hissed. "As you did. As you used us."

She could not forget what she did any more than she could deny it. Her legacy for her people was one of war and dissent. "That was a different time. A different me. Let me help you."

"Help? Keep your help traitor."

In unison, they said, "We need souls."

Ava killed all five, their deaths adding to her anguish. Unprepared for the onslaught of emotions she felt her mind buckled under the pressure. She reached for Daniel, but the spark of him that was left inside her to anchor her powers was not enough. Her connection to him no longer existed with him inside of Sven's body. She was alone. She was suffocating. She was massacring her people. Tormented souls who were first warped to hate by her then twisted into savage beasts by Kunz. How was she to save them? How was she to give them peace? Did the voice of five reflect the mind of the thousands? If so, they were lost to her. She could not fulfill her promise of power, and she could not allow Kunz to do the same. An insidious stain spread in her mind, distracting her from the fight.

Traitor.

That was how they saw her. Ava wanted to weep. Wrapping her hands around her body, she searched around her confused. A swirl of black spun around her, a tornado with her as the eye. The funnel grew darker. Eating away at the light, the cold air numbing her body as puffs escaped her mouth in ragged breaths. The stain grew adding to the darkness of the world around her.

Traitor.

Keep your help traitor.

Watch this world die.

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