The following takes places shortly after Chayyiel and Raphael arrived on Earth back in the very first Summer Epilogue.
“Boy, it sure feels different to be back on Earth, doesn’t it?” The Seosten man asking that question had rather long, gray-blond hair that fell to the middle of his back. Had he been human, his age could have been estimated at anywhere between late thirties and early fifties. Though he was, naturally, so much older. He also stood six feet, seven inches tall. Despite his sheer height, however, he managed to not appear intimidating at first glance. His figure was not one of muscle and overt strength, but more lanky. Rather than thick biceps or any other sign of an impressive physique, the man was all elbows and knees. He appeared as though he should be clumsy, though a moment of observation would reveal just how coordinated he truly was. Gangly scarecrow in simple, stationary appearance, sinewy panther stalking its prey in actual motion.
He paused that motion then, in mid-step on his way across an unassuming-looking parking lot attached to a rest stop in the middle of nowhere at some point far north-east of Lincoln, Nebraska. This was where he and his companion had agreed to part ways for the time being. It was that companion whom he had been addressing, and looked to now. “But then, probably hits harder for you. I mean, after everything that went down between you and your old captain.” With those words, the man made a point of flicking a little dust off his clothing. He wore loose-fitting jeans and an open Hawaiian shirt over a white tee-shirt, with sandals completing the look. “But hey, just gotta brush that off and move on.” As easily as he had brushed his clothes, apparently.
Chayyiel, of course, almost couldn’t have looked more like the tall man’s opposite in so many ways. She was a quite short, slender girl with short, pixie-style black hair. While he was tall and gangly, she was small and compact. Where his hair was long, hers was very much not. Even their clothes were quite different. His gave the appearance of being open and casual, just an ordinary man on vacation. She, on the other hand, wore military camo pants, boots, and a black turtleneck with what looked like miniaturized SWAT body armor. It looked as though she was about to go trick or treating as some sort of military Special Forces agent.
Feeling the man’s gaze on her without looking that way, Chayyiel simply replied, “That was a long time ago, Raphael. A lot has changed since those days.” She kept her voice purposefully flat, looking across the lot and to the empty highway beyond. No cars were passing, nor were there anywhere in sight. And given the remoteness of this area, none were likely to be seen any time soon. The lot itself was empty, save for one vehicle, a fancy, gleaming red Porsche, which looked incredibly out of place. It wasn’t even parked in an actual spot, instead sitting right in the middle of the lot directly ahead of them. The top was down and one of the doors was open.
“Hah, ain’t that the truth.” Raphael gave a low chuckle. “I think you’ve gotten even scarier, for one.” He gave her a wink before adding, “Not as scary as I can be, but you know, still pretty good.”
“If I knew we were competing,” Chayyiel informed him casually, “I would have brought a Uelphec mask. Maybe that would have pushed me over the line for the judges.”
Raphael squinted at her briefly before giving a loud laugh. His hand patted her shoulder. “See that? That’s why you and I can get along.” He walked to the car then, bringing a hand down to tenderly rub along the hood with a murmur of appreciation. “And speaking of getting along, these humans do know how to make some gorgeous transportation, don’t they?”
“That and many other beautiful things, I’m told,” Chayyiel replied simply. She made no secret of the fact that she kept close eyes on Earth despite not physically being on-planet for so long. She had her own contacts who kept her up-to-date on what happened here, and how things were developing. A few of whom were known, but many were entirely unidentified.
In one motion, Raphael swung himself down into the car and closed his eyes, giving a groan of appreciation at the feel of the leather seat. “Oh yes, that’s the stuff right there. Excellent, just the way I asked for it. Seat’s even heated.” His eyes opened once more to look at her. “Sure you don’t wanna stick with me a bit longer? We could take a joyride and see where the road takes us. You and me together here on this world? Even if our people weren’t already in charge, we’d rule the planet in a day. Less if we made a contest out of it.”
“Thankfully, the world doesn’t need conquering,” Chayyiel replied dryly. She let that hang in the air briefly before adding, “And I think we’re both going different ways right now.” The Seosten girl stepped back then, giving a very short nod. “Enjoy yourself, I’ll find my own ride.”
Shrugging, Raphael started the car with a key that had been left there by the contact who had delivered it for them. “Suit yourself. Looking forward to hearing all about the business you attend to here.” He revved the engine loudly, a smile spreading across his face. “At least, the parts you actually talk about!”
With that, he shifted into gear and hit the gas, pulling out of the lot. An instant later, the car was tearing off down the road before it quickly disappeared from sight. Chayyiel could hear the man’s loud, excited whoop over the sound of the roaring engine before both faded off in the distance.
He was gone then, and she was alone here on Earth. Just the way she had wanted. Yet the girl didn’t move immediately. There was no rush for her at this exact moment. She knew where she was going next, but she had over an hour of leeway and her destination wasn’t far. For the moment, she was going to take advantage of that extra time and let herself breathe. Learning not to totally suffocate herself under the weight of her responsibilities had been one of the most important things she had picked up from Apollo. It was, perhaps, the only reason she had survived as long as she had with everything she had taken on. More than her absurdly potent power to absorb skills and identify weaknesses, it was learning to back away and take a few minutes for herself that truly saved her from that crushing impulse to keep working at all times.
With that in mind, the girl turned and walked to the nearby vending machines. She stood there, examining them curiously for a moment before drawing a field-engraver from one pocket. In a few quick strokes, she drew a simple rune on the side of the machine. Her fingertip touched it as she spoke a word. As soon as she did that, the spell activated, immediately summoning all abandoned human money (defined as human monetary currency that had been on the ground for at least one day) within thirty miles of this secluded spot. Given how out-of-the-way the place was, she was prepared to extend that radius if need be. But a small pile of money appeared on the ground at her feet. It came out to roughly sixteen dollars, and she put most of that away for later before buying herself a human soda and a bag of chips.
With that done, Chayyiel took a sip of the soda and considered briefly. Yup, it was even better here on Earth then the ones she had been sent by Apollo. Then she started walking. Not out to the road, but off into the forest. With her soda and chips, the girl strolled casually into the trees, disappearing from the practically-abandoned rest stop, once more leaving the place empty.
Raphael didn’t slow down any after leaving the site of the rest stop. He was here on Earth to do a few things, and one of the most important (in his mind anyway) was to have fun. He’d worked for far too long not to give himself a break, at least now and then, to just cut loose. After all, what was the point of working so hard to stop Fomorians from destroying the universe if you weren’t going to give yourself a chance to enjoy what was in that universe? Sometimes, you just had to take the time to remind yourself of what was worth putting so much effort into protecting.
So, with the top down and the human vehicle roaring pleasingly around him, the Seosten man pushed the pedal to the floor and enjoyed the sensation. It wasn’t exactly comparable to using his wings to fly wherever he wanted to go (the wings didn’t provide any lift, they just allowed an unlimited energy source for a simple flight spell), but it was still quite enjoyable in a different way. He could certainly see why so many people on this planet liked this sort of thing.
Yes, having a couple of the Seosten who had previously been stationed here on Earth give him a course in how to pilot–err, drive these human vehicles before he made the trip was definitely worth it. He would have to send a bonus to those two. And another to the one who had ensured that such a… wonderful example of a human vehicle was provided for him.
He had been racing down the highway for about thirty minutes, occasionally blowing past another vehicle here or there (particularly the big trucks with heavy trailers hauling supplies in what was a fascinatingly low-tech, non-magical solution to transportation issues) when the sound of a loud alert siren from behind him caught Raphael’s attention. Moving his gaze from the road ahead to the mirror, he watched the black and white human vehicle with the flashing red and blue lights. Ah, he knew what this was. Local authorities attempting to enforce lower speeds out of some idea of what would be safe. And provide monetary relief to their own coffers in the process. Understandable, yet he had neither the time nor inclination to deal with such mundane, unimportant matters.
To that end, he didn’t slow down. Instead, the man reached out to touch the dashboard with one hand. Summoning just a small fraction of the power provided by his (still unsummoned) wings, he carefully sent that power into the vehicle. Part of it went to surround the wheels in a protective shield, while the rest was sent to boost the engine.
The effect was immediate. The human vehicle went from doing about two hundred and forty kilometers (a hundred and fifty miles) per hour, to abruptly doing more than twice that. In a fraction of a second, he was suddenly moving down that highway at speeds far beyond anything the human authority vehicle could even dream of reaching. The flashing red lights disappeared from the mirror as the car rocketed onward while Raphael gave a loud shout of exhilaration. This, this was why he’d come to this world. He had needed a break, and the humans were providing that, however unknowingly.
At those speeds, it didn’t take long for him to reach a more populated area. The almost empty road led to a much busier one with six different traffic lanes going each way, and he was soon weaving the blindingly fast car around other vehicles. A laugh escaped the man as he twisted the wheel just in time to avoid clipping the rear bumper of a truck, missing by fractional centimeters. The near-miss did nothing to discourage him, of course. If anything, it made Raphael feel even more alive and excited. This was so much better than driving along an empty road. And so it continued like that, as he poured a little more of his own power into the vehicle to both reinforce the materials and boost its speed further. With that, he reached almost four hundred miles per hour. At those speeds, he had to use a bit of his own Seosten boost to ensure his reflexes could keep up with the rapid changes in obstacles, weaving in and out of traffic, around various other human vehicles and even onto the spaces on either side of the road. Through it all, the man laughed joyously. This was so much fun.
He hoped Chayyiel was enjoying herself even half as much as he was. The kid deserved that.
For fifteen minutes, Chayyiel continued to walk through the forest while enjoying the soda and chips. Once both were gone, she took a moment to incinerate the empty packaging with a spell. At that point, she appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees on all sides. Turning in a circle, she took a moment to observe the area around her, comparing it against the directions she had received from one of her contacts here on this planet. Freshly oriented, the Seosten girl continued to walk for another five minutes before reaching a small clearing surrounded by short pine trees, with a line of blue-white wildflowers growing next to a log. Yes, this was the right place, according to that contact. And she trusted him implicitly.
To that end, she stooped to pluck a small stone off the ground before pursing her lips to give a low, melodic whistle. As she did so, there was a quiet rustle in the nearby bushes before a humanoid figure with dark red skin and an interesting pattern of tattoo-like lines over his body emerged into view. His voice was a whisper. “Ylegni, you weren’t supposed t–” He cut himself off upon realizing that the signal did not come from the man he expected after all. But, before he could react, Chayyiel gave the small stone a quick toss, ricocheting it off a nearby tree before it struck the man in the side of the neck. He immediately collapsed as the rock struck the exact point needed to in order to leave him temporarily paralyzed. He could still breathe, but only in short, shallow gasps.
Stepping over to stand over the man, Chayyiel took a knee while he stared at her in open-mouthed confusion, sucking in as much air as he could. Her voice was quiet. “I’ll have more to say to you in a few minutes, but you can stay here for now.” She produced a small metal disc roughly the size of a coin and placed it on his chest before activating the spell attached to it. Immediately, a series of golden wires emerged and wrapped around the man to ensure he wouldn’t be able to move even once the temporary paralyzation wore off.
That done, she reached into his pocket and plucked out a large red key. The man stammered curses at her, but she ignored them and stood to walk over to a nearby boulder. There, she found the little hole where she’d been told it would be and stuck the key inside. After turning it, a literal mundane-looking human door appeared in the middle of that small clearing. Chayyiel plucked out the key, walked to the door, and turned the knob. It opened, before she stepped through, disappearing from the clearing. A moment later, the door itself vanished as well, leaving the red-skinned man trussed up on the ground, helpless to warn his companions about what–or who– was coming their way.
Over the next forty-five minutes, Raphael pushed that car as hard as he could. It was held together only thanks to his own power shielding it from the stresses he was subjecting the vehicle to. He managed to get it up to five hundred miles per hour, and might have gone even further than that, but he was rapidly approaching his first destination. So, the man gradually and reluctantly slowed down while watching out the passenger side as he neared a small town. Eventually, he spotted the building he’d previously seen a hologram of, and parked right in front. Just like when he’d picked the car up at the rest stop, he didn’t bother using a spot. He was really only vaguely aware of the concept anyway, and finding a space between two lines sounded boring. Raphael didn’t really do boring, especially while he was eighty-five percent on vacation.
So, he left the vehicle right where it was and stepped out before glancing up to read the sign next to the door of the building. Sure enough, it was the veterinary clinic he had been looking for. At least, that’s what the place claimed to be. In reality, they did a fair bit more than that.
Whistling an old song from his homeworld, the lanky man strolled to the door and opened it before stepping through. There were several people in there, with an assortment of animals waiting to be seen. A few barked, meowed, or chirped at him when he appeared, and their owners, along with the receptionist (who was clearly not human, with her dark pink scales and four separate eyes spread equa-distant across her face), looked up. As usual when seeing him for the first (or even second or third) time, they stared a bit longer than was necessary. As tall and gangly as he was, mixed with his long hair and general Seosten attractiveness, he was accustomed to gazes lingering.
Raphael, in turn, offered a faint smile. “Well, hello there,” he greeted the entire room casually. “I know this might be a bit of an inconvenience, but I’m afraid I’m going to need all of you to leave with your little friends.” He raised a hand to point toward the receptionist. “You can stay.”
The group, naturally, didn’t move at first. There were a couple more scattered barks from half-hearted animals who seemed just as confused as their owners. Raphael wasn’t surprised, but he also didn’t really care to take more time out of his day explaining anything to these people. So, he simply raised his voice. “Sorry, are you all having trouble finding the door? It’s right there.” With those words, he pointed toward the entrance. As he did so, one of his golden-white wings made of pure energy flared out, sending a blast that utterly annihilated both glass and metal doors as well as two feet of wall on either side and a bit of the ceiling.
That got everyone’s attention nicely. Every animal was going nuts while the people themselves screamed. Raphael, meanwhile, simply gazed at them while keeping his hand raised to point at the hole he’d made. After that brief moment of shock, everyone ran for the exit, taking their animals with them. Well, save for one man, who abandoned his own medium-sized canine cowering under the seat as he fled for his own life.
For a moment, Raphael frowned after that last guy. But before he could decide what to do about it, the sound of the receptionist rising to her feet caught his attention. He heard the clear sound of a standard-issue Seosten laser rifle charging up for a shot, and his second wing flared to life, crossing over to cover his left side in plenty of time to intercept the blast.
“Oh no, no, no, not–no!” The clearly not-human receptionist, who was backing away from the desk with her weapon raised, kept babbling. Her tail was swinging wildly behind her. “Not one of you, not one of you, why are you here now?! It was almost done! We were almost ready!”
“I think you just answered your own question there, Chief,” Raphael informed her. His wing intercepted another flurry of desperate shots, before transforming into a pair of long, golden-energy whips. They lashed out, cutting through the woman just before she would have been out of sight through the corridor leading to where the vets operated. Without even time to scream, she was disintegrated.
Raphael first started that way, only to adjust his course. He walked across the waiting room lobby to where the animal had been left. It was still cowering under the chair, and he crouched to get a look at the thing. He was aware enough that the general species was referred to as dogs, but had no idea what its actual breed was, with its brown and white fur, stubby legs, and wrinkled face. As the animal whimpered, Raphael slowly put his hand out, holding it there until the dog sniffed. It then sniffed again, its whimper turning to one of confusion and uncertainty rather than fear. The Seosten man waited until it had calmed down a bit before carefully picking the dog up. It whined a bit more, but soon calmed down.
“Hello there…” Trailing off, Raphael held the animal away from him, checking the undercarriage. “… boy. Your owner sure didn’t care about you, did he?” Shaking his head in disgust, the man pivoted and began to walk back toward the hallway leading to the vet operating rooms once more. “Let’s go deal with these bad people, shall we?”
Within three steps, two more beings of the same species as the receptionist popped out with weapons of their own. They were instantly disintegrated by a single blast from one wing, which also took out a solid portion of the wall there, revealing an empty restroom.
Now Raphael could hear people shouting, weapons being drawn and charged up, and various magical spells being chanted. Tucking the dog under one arm, he continued that way with a smile. “That’s right, boy.
“Let’s have some fun.”
Ten minutes after stepping through the magic doorway, Chayyiel emerged once more into the clearing. She was using a spell to clean blood and slime off her gloved hands, while the red-skinned man she had paralized and then tied up stared at her with wide eyes. “Wha-what the three hells did you do?!” he demanded, angrily squirming in a futile attempt to get free.
Chayyiel, in turn, simply walked over to crouch next to the man. Her voice was quiet. “My friend told me that you weren’t aware of what was actually going on in there. That’s why I spared you.”
“What was going on?!” the trussed-up man echoed in disbelief. “What do you mean? They were making medicine for sick people, for sick Alters who can’t go to a hospital and risk seeing Heretics!” The outrage was evident in his voice.
Rather than argue with him, Chayyiel simply turned to look over her shoulder at the door. As she did, a figure came through, followed by another, then a third, fourth, all the way to ten. All of them were emaciated, weak-looking people, an assortment of species including three humans while the rest were different. They wore ragged clothing and had dark circles under their eyes.
“Wha–who the hell are they?!” the bound man demanded.
“Prisoners,” Chayyiel informed him. “The people you worked for did create some medicine. But their primary purpose was to experiment on humans and Alters alike, attempting to create drugs that could be used to simulate the human bonding power to give any being the power of any other.” She paused before pointedly adding, “They were unsuccessful, and the more they failed, the worse they put their subjects through. These were the ones who weren’t either dead, or too far gone to move. I’m calling in some people to take care of those. And you..” She gauged his reaction briefly. “You truly didn’t know.”
As the man stammered that of course he didn’t, she rose and spoke a single word that made his magical bonds vanish. “Stay here with these people. When the people show up to take care of things, tell them everything you do know. Help them go through things down there.”
With that, she took a moment to assure the terrified former prisoners that everything would be okay, that everyone who had been torturing them in the name of their experiments was dead, and that people would be there soon to take them somewhere safe. Then she turned and started to walk away.
“Wa-wait!” the red-skinned man called. “Where are you going now?!”
Pausing briefly, she replied, “I’m on vacation.
“I’m going to Disney World.”
It took roughly five minutes for Raphael to finish clearing out the lab hidden under the vet clinic. As the receptionist had protested, their little group truly had been close to their goal. That goal had been to construct what amounted to artificial Fomorian bodies (based on the records from the Fomorian invasion and a few samples they had dug up) with all of their immunities and abilities, and stick their own minds inside of them as a total physical upgrade.
But now those people, their lab, their records, and all of the samples had been wiped from the face of the universe. After Raphael left the building with the dog still under his arm, he turned back and let his wings expand to either side of his body at full normal extension. With a blinding blast of energy, the building itself was erased, every trace of it wiped away to leave nothing but a deep hole in the ground where the lab itself had been before all of that was destroyed a minute earlier.
Well, there was one thing left from the clinic. From his pocket, Raphael plucked out a book of different dog breeds that he had grabbed on his way. Flipping through the little book with one hand, he found the right entry before looking at the animal under his arm. “Says here you’re an English Bulldog. That right?” As he asked that, the now-familiar sound of sirens filled the air as human authority vehicles approached. Raphael, however, ignored them aside from glancing that way. He stepped down into his car, setting the dog on the passenger seat. Only then did he notice the metal tag on the collar. Lifting it up, he read, “Conroy? No, I don’t think so.” His head shook while he started the car and peeled away from the remains of the clinic. “I lost an old friend a long time ago. Been thinking about him a bit lately.
“Think I’ll call you Zad.”
A week later, Chayyiel had suited action to words. She had hitchhiked her way from Nebraska to Florida. Well, not exactly hitchhiked in the strictest sense, as most of the rides she had taken had no idea she was there. Between a combination of hiding in the back of trucks or simply using a ‘forget me’ spell while seated directly beside the driver or in the backseat, she had made the long journey in relative comfort.
Not that she enjoyed taking advantage of people that way, but having the appearance that she did made certain things complicated, particularly here on Earth. It was better to avoid having well-meaning humans attempt to help the ‘lost little girl,’ whom they would undoubtedly believe was running away from home, or some such thing. Not to mention those who would have their own much less altruistic intentions toward what they saw as a helpless girl. Those people she would happily erase from existence, but it would still be yet another complication.
So, she avoided all of that by keeping herself hidden and hitching rides from unknowing strangers. And she did, at least, pay for her rides in a manner of speaking. Before leaving each ride for a new one, Chayyiel made sure to do something that would help them. For a few, that meant using a combination of magic and acquired mechanical skill to fix things in their car. For another, it had meant trading a couple coins of stored magical energy to the Alter who ran the nearby convenience store in exchange for a pile of groceries to leave in the passenger seat. Or even helping to find a child’s lost toy and returning it for them. And so on that went, as she did what little things she could to pay for the rides, even if the people involved didn’t know anything about it. She knew, and that was important.
For those intervening days while traveling, Chayyiel had simply enjoyed watching the scenery. She had been away from Earth for so long, yet kept up with what was happening and how the world was developing. She saw it in holograms, in ordinary pictures and videos, even simply in stories from those who spent time on the planet. But now she was here, and for those days, she appreciated silently watching the countryside of this small, out-of-the-way world pass her by. It reminded her of old times.
And now, as the ancient-yet-youthful Seosten girl had said, she was here in the middle of Disney World. One of their famous turkey legs was held lightly in one hand while she gazed around at all the sights that surrounded her. Yes, this place certainly lived up to the hype. Of course, she wasn’t merely here for entertainment. As in most things she did, there was a more important purpose to her presence at the park. But that could wait. For the time being, she simply began to make her way to one of the rides. Yes, this would all be considered incredibly mundane and ordinary next to Seosten technology, to say nothing of actual magic. Yet there was a charming… innocence to this place that she enjoyed. It was an opportunity to, at least temporarily, shut out all of those pressing responsibilities that threatened to consume her every waking moment and enjoy something simple. For a few hours, she was able to relax and simply go with the flow. She went on rides, played games, watched people enjoy their own vacations, and ate as many of the delightful human treats as possible. Ice cream, pretzels, cotton candy, funnel cakes, french fries, she tried all of it. And that turkey leg.
Eventually, the time for fun and games was over. The sun was beginning to set, which meant the true reason she had come here would be starting soon. With a small sigh of regret that things had to turn serious once more, Chayyiel made her way through the park to a small, innocuous-looking area with a blank wall near one of the gift shops. Without bothering to check if anyone was looking, she approached the wall and tapped six particular bricks in a specific pattern. Immediately, a doorway appeared in the wall, and she stepped through to enter a rocky tunnel sloping downward. Torches glowing with magical flames lined both walls.
“Back to work,” she murmured quietly to herself before starting her descent, as the doorway sealed itself behind her once more. In the distance, the sound of a large group of people chanting magical words filled the unnaturally cool air.
Good, she was just in time.
Raphael was having the time of his life. Well, okay, not really. After all, he’d had a very long life filled with a lot of fun. But it was, at least, a very pleasant personal holiday, even if bits of work were mixed in. Such was the life of most Seosten, let alone those as powerful and important as one of the six remaining Dyeusai (what the humans called archangels) in the universe. Even when taking a well-deserved break, there were still important things to be done.
Still, that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy himself while doing it. And while he wasn’t literally having the time of his life, he was making the best of his time here on Earth. He had visited a literal Bystander rodeo in Texas, had snow skied at the glacier in Hintertux, Austria, taken two sight-seeing tours of London, one the Bystander version and one guided by Alters (they were pretty understandably nervous about his presence, but took him on the tour anyway). He visited the Lourvre in France, had a meal and shared stories with an indiginous tribe of mixed humans and Alters in Brazil, went flying through the Grand Canyon, and went diving in Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef.
He’d done all those things and more over the course of a few weeks. And through it all, he had his new favorite companion, the incredibly loyal English Bulldog he had named Zad. Whoever Zad’s former cowardly owner had been, Raphael didn’t care. The dog was his now, and would be staying with him wherever he went. He’d taken the time to enchant Zad’s collar with various protective spells (fixing the name on the tag in the process), and stuck a few Seosten technological surprises in it as well.
Eventually, he stepped out of a cabin in the isolated wilderness of Alaska, calling back over his shoulder, “Yeah, well think about that the next time you decide to try to use the energy from an ancient artifact to give yourself the power of a demigod so you can rule half a planet.” Pausing, he amended, “Or don’t, cuz of the whole, you know, being dead now thing.”
At his feet, Zad gave a loud bark of agreement before growling back the way they’d come.
“Good boy,” Raphael praised, leaning down to rub behind the animal’s ears the way he liked. “But don’t worry about her. She’s all gone now. You and me… what do you think of another round of that… Korean barbecue like last week?”
The answer from Zad was a little growl that turned to a whine as his head tilted.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Raphael decided, rising to step down off the porch.
“Burgers it is.”
A few minutes after descending her way into the tunnels under Disney World, Chayyiel stood over an assortment of bodies. Two dozen dead figures in red-gold robes stained thoroughly with their own blood (of a wide variety of colors to go with their various species), which also leaked out in wide puddles across the dirt floor.
A single, heavily wounded survivor slumped against the nearby wall, holding his stomach in. His eyes were wide as he stared at her. “H-how… dare… dare… you interrupt… the ritual.”
“Well, usually, I would’ve sent one of my… friends here on this world to handle your kind, but I happened to be in the area,” Chayyiel informed him before making a show of ‘realizing’ something. “Oh, the emphasis there was on ‘interrupt,’ not ‘you,’ huh? You want to know why your ritual was interrupted, not why I specifically did.” She shrugged, moving to crouch next to him. His hand lashed out with a blade that jumped from the sleeve of his robe, but her hand was faster, snatching the weapon out of his grasp without blinking or taking her gaze from his.
“So, I get it. You and your little cult here had the bright idea to use the Fountain of Youth buried under this place to power your spell. Not a bad idea. I mean, the fountain’s still powerful enough to send out an aura over this entire area that tends to make people feel like kids again. More energy, more optimism, just… more innocent and wide-eyed wonder. So you figure, if it can affect over fifty thousand people a day like that, it must be strong enough to give your summoning spell the oomph it needed to call on your personal chosen god. And yeah, you’re probably right. Unfortunately, your personal chosen god happens to be a monstrous abomination that would’ve killed about… hmm… half the people in this state before the Heretics managed to contain the situation.”
“Never!” the injured cultist snapped. “The Cackling Fade would never be contained! Her shroud will spread–”
“I don’t need the spiel,” Chayyiel interrupted with a sigh. “The point is, you’re not doing that. I happen to prefer this world unshrouded. So your Cackling Fade will have to find another summer home. And that ought to be long enough.”
“Long enough for wh–” the cultist started, before Chayyiel’s hand moved to slit his throat with his own blade.
“Long enough for the energy you already put into the ritual to dissipate so your death won’t finish the spell as the final sacrifice,” she informed his dead body, then rose. Her gaze took in the corpses that littered the ground, before she tossed the knife aside and turned to start out. She would make a call and get someone to come and clean this place up, as well as put some more security in to protect the fountain.
Leaving the tunnels, she stepped back out into Disney World proper. Hmm. Maybe she could go see that electrical light parade before leaving this place. It was supposed to be pretty good.
And after all, she was on vacation.