27 // OBSIDIAN

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As the first wave of Powers surged through the forcefield, Ethan sent bolts of energy at them so strong that not only did the power of his assault stop them in their tracks, it literally blinked those first warrior angels out of existence. They were there - faces contorted with pain, mouths wide open with screams that would never be heard – and then they were simply gone.

The Powers that did make it were already crawling over the ceiling, down the shelves, hovering in the air as they swerved each thunderous bolt. Like the Cherubim, there was something vaguely human-like in their appearance. Despite the slavering grins, the scarred flesh that stretched over their angular cheekbones, the hands that ended in savage talons and the angel wings that beat at the air, I could see a similarity with the race they were so desperate to rule and control. They were like human hybrids, a breed cooked up in a nightmarish laboratory, an experiment to make war machines that had gone horribly wrong or horribly right, depending on which way you looked at it. Because they were war machines. Creatures engineered to fight and enslave, their bodies were perfectly honed, all sleek sinewy muscle that looked as if it had been carved from marble.

Ethan stood in the central aisle, an immovable force, his feet slightly apart and braced against the floor. He hit them with a power I had never seen before, far greater than when he'd fought against the Angel outside Oscar's club. Far greater even than when he'd fought Juliette and that battle had been enough to almost tear the house down around our heads.

A grit and dogged determination cast a shadow across his features, combined with something else, something that, ironically in comparison to the Powers, looked less human. A darkness. Something almost monstrous. Again, and again he struck, but still the creatures came swarming through the tear in the shield, which was widening by the second. Ethan's forcefield was slowly dissolving.

Gritting his teeth, Ethan seemed to double his efforts as his gaze darted here and there, not missing the slightest advance of the Powers as they swarmed worryingly closer to our position. Sweeping his arms in a wide arc, a stream of energy pulsed from his palms, hitting the top level of the towering stacks lining the aisles and they shuddered violently. Objects stored there began to fall one by one, an avalanche of centuries-old secrets crashing to the floor. Whole shelves began to topple, dislodging everything and as the first one fell, hitting the next and the next, the Angels who had been using the huge bookcases to gain an advance on us, were crushed in the landslide of dusty tomes, wooden chests and skull-bones.

A high-pitched, gut-wrenching screech pierced my ears.

Standing just inside the door to his hoarder's lair, the Erelim was shrieking, as his many eyes surveyed the chaos of the Vaults. He looked bigger than he had before. Gone was the frail-looking old man, now his bulk filled the doorway in which he stood, his head touching the top of the frame, as if he'd just consumed the Eat Me cake from Alice's crazy world. Glaring at Ethan, he opened his mouth wide and screamed, and on his tongue, another eye appeared, a bloodshot eyeball protruding from the saliva-drenched pink flesh.

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