Chapter 115: The Bearer of the Soul

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The forces of barbarism had crashed against the walls of civilization like dark and storm-tossed waves, and slowly they eroded the foundation. But they could never breach the walls, and they never will. They sought to end cultures that grew towards life, that reached towards the True, Beautiful, and Good the way a tree reaches for the sun, and they sought to raise up anti-cultures to reach to the bowels of the earth. But they have failed here. They will fail again, and again, and again.

***

The small group of them ran through the streets, and Indra thanked God that they weren't crowded. People had some sense, it seemed, and were hunkering indoors, preferably in cellars where Kazalibad's and Laidu's -and Rhaedrashah's, she mustn't forget- rampage would pass over them. That was a wise move, as the rampages of immortals was nothing to sneer at.

Thaen turned around, staring back. "You're worried about Karik'ar and Skaria, aren't you," Indra said. He nodded.

"Go," Mirsari said. Thaen's eyes widened. He had become protective of her, in a way that was endearing to Indra, seeing as Mirsari needed to get out more, find someone to settle down with, and Thaen seemed to fit the bill. The thought of him abandoning her, however, seemed to shock him. "My magic lets me do all the things you can do. Besides, Po Shun and I can protect her." Lord Solstael seemed to agree.

Thaen looked at Po Shun. "Keep them safe, you understand? Alright?"

"Of course," Po Shun said. "On my life." With that, Thaen unlaced the sides of his shirt, stretched out his wings, and threw himself into the air.

They turned back, and kept running. Indra heard splashing to their right, the sound snaking through the alleyways and gaps between houses, before a roar that overwhelmed every sound rose over the houses and crashed down on them like a wave. Indra could feel it reverberate through her bones. The two were close. Dangerously close.

Thoughts raced through her mind as she ran, keeping Kyra, Lord Solstael, and Mirsari in sight. Why would Kazalibad want Kyra dead? It couldn't be to spite Laidu, as Kazalibad put too much effort in slaying the young woman for it to be a grudge. And, while Laidu was the kind of person that the legends about Kazalibad said was hated by the immortal fiend, Kazalibad was much more direct. If anything, his threats directed at Kyra seemed to be a method to enrage Laidu.

He had another motivation then, but what was it? The only thing Indra could think of was Kyra's savant status. Despite her father, and his influence, she doubted that one of the Eight would deign to interfere with a single nation's politics, or even try to start a war. Her odd sensitivity to aether was a possibility. Her fortune wasn't, despite Kazalibad's avarice. He was greedy for more... immaterial things, like dragon's power, which he had somehow stolen, or life force.

There was a bridge ahead, spanning over a canal, one of the last landmarks before they got to the University. All they had to do was cross it, dash down a street, take a turn to the left towards the center of Saefel Caeld, and they'd be safe in the University.

They made it onto the bridge when the headache started.

Indra lurched to the side as the world pitched and warped. Not this, not this again. Kyra caught her, stopping Indra from falling over the edge. She gripped onto the rails as her stomach did an acrobatics routine, and she stared out as the immortal waded in view.

"There you are!" he snarled, the ruined tear in his face (where that infamous eye once stared out) weeping blood. "Why won't you just die?"

Indra's head pounded, and the world shifted into mist. Designs and fractals spiraled in the air, shifting with every gust of wind. She knew what they were to represent, the different chemicals that composed the air. But when she saw Kazalibad, she stopped, stunned.

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