Chapter 117: The Terror of the Night

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They had thought the savagery of barbarism, closely aligned with the evil within men's hearts, would win out after all and become the unstoppable force, the flood that would wash away the glories of civilization. They had assumed that the baser desires of man's nature, corrupted from the beginning, would overtake the higher nature man aspires to, though his flesh may fail time and again.

But as for the brilliant, searing light of divine Good, that they couldn't comprehend.

***

There was a stillness in the air, Thaen learned, right before the power of his brother ripped through space.

Thaen had leaped over a fallen cart when the blast clipped his leg, sending him flying and spinning to the side. It was the same sensation of swimming under a wave in the ocean, feeling it pass overhead, feeling the energy and force roll over him, but catch his leg and yank it back towards the shore. It was like that, but with tenfold strength and not nearly as gentle. The sea wave, on a bad day, would drag his face through the ocean floor and have him resurfacing spitting out sand and brine. This was a lot worse.

He slammed into a wall, and his head swam and ears rang. He must have hit his head or something, seeing as the ground was spinning and buildings were tilting left and right. He rose unsteadily to his feet.

Once the ringing in his ears subsided, he heard screaming.

Immediately, he whirled around. He had been lucky in only getting clipped by the blast of force. The house behind him, not so much.

Most of the roof had been blown off, and the house was covered with scattered debris and shattered chips of red roofing tiles. There were remnants of bottles and splintered shelves, and half of the lattice of a wine rack still hung.

Thaen focused, despite the pounding in his head. There, the sound was coming from below the store. A child screaming, a woman pleading, a man struggling.

There! A large chunk of that pale masonry lay across the floor, over a trapdoor. "Are you alright down there?" Thaen asked.

"What happened?" A man's voice struggled to get through the trapdoor. "Why can't I open the door?"

"Well... you know that monster and dragon that are fighting out here?" The man answered in the affirmative. "Well, you're roof's on the street behind you. I think this is part of your stone doorframe atop the trapdoor." The smell of spilled alcohol made Thaen's already-spinning head lighter.

"Oh. How bad is it?" The man seemed nervous. "Apart from missing the roof, that is,"

"Not good," Thaen said. "Stay below, but... actually, what do you have down there?"

"What, are you looking for money?" the man asked.

"Love, just give him the gold if that's what gets us out of here," Thaen heard the woman, presumably the man's wife, plead.

"I don't want money. Do you have a weapon down there?" Thaen asked. "Also, I'm going to need some blood."

"Blood? What, are you a witch or- no, you're a Vesperati, aren't you?" the man asked.

Thaen nodded, then realized that the man couldn't see him. "Yes."

"I... I have an old military pike down here. Will that be enough?"

"Perfect. Get under the trapdoor." Thaen had little time to help Karik'ar and Skaria, so he was glad that he heard shifting down below him without questioning. "Now, when I tell you to do it, push and open up. One, two, three!"

Thaen felt the strength surge through his arms, his core, his legs. He lifted, groaning with the weight. The stone was cold enough to bite into his hands, and the weight was almost too much for him to handle, but he lifted.

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