In which Livia Windancer, newly fallen angel, discovers the downside of living with monster boys….
Whatever he was about to say was interrupted by a loud crash followed by raised voices in the front hall. Kai appeared in the doorway to the library looking distraught.
“It’s Orin and Finn again, Commander,” he said.
Tynan’s jaw clenched and he exhaled a breath, his nostrils flaring in annoyance.
“Perfect,” he muttered, walking toward the commotion.
Livia followed accompanied by Kai. “They fight all the time,” Kai supplied.
Turning the corner, sure enough, the two boys were squared off each glaring daggers at the other one. Orin’s lip was bleeding. The other boy, Finn she assumed, was a tall, brawny redhead. He swung a fist that Orin barely dodged.
“Take it back!” he growled at Orin.
“I call it like I see it, Wickerman,” Orin countered.
Tynan watched the goings on from the corner of the room, his arms folded over his broad chest, a look of silent annoyance on his face. He made no move to break up the fight and seemed resigned to let his captains hash things out themselves.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“She’s making you the fool!”
The temperature of the front hall plummeted and black mist swirled around Orin and Finn’s feet as they circled each other.
“She’s none of your business!” Finn yelled.
So that was what this was about, a girl. She got the feeling Orin disapproved of Finn’s sweetheart. Livia felt for him. It was hard to watch a friend be hurt by another and complicated for… her thoughts came to a halt. Complicated! Oh dear. Livia figured she knew who Juno’s Mr. Complicated was.
The Shadows who had gathered along the staircase and in the doorway of the dining hall didn’t seem terribly upset by the fight. Most held a look of amusement, but Sorah stood out among the onlookers. His expression was of stern disapproval. Surprisingly, his look of disgust was leveled at Orin, cold radiated off him in waves.
“I can’t watch this,” he snapped, leaving by way of the stairs. Livia watched him go, as he turned to take one last look over his shoulder before disappearing down the hallway she could have sworn she saw tears in his eyes.
Livia’s attention was drawn back just as Finn launched himself at Orin. The other pivoted away but Finn countered grabbing Orin in a headlock, for all his brawn Finn was very agile and fast.
“Take back what you said!” Finn demanded.
Her strategic mind kicked in and plotted Orin’s next move, there were several ways of getting out of a head lock but that’s not what happened.
Orin burst into flames. Finn let go dancing away from the other Shadow’s burning flesh. The rest of the bystanders, Livia included, followed suit. The heat from Orin’s flames was intense; it made her think of the fireball that had nearly killed she and her father as they were making their escape.
“Two can play at that, Ignus!” Finn sneered.
Spreading his fingers wide, his hands then arms deformed reaching out, his fingers growing long. They writhed toward Orin, slithering around his legs and waist. Orin sent flames up Finn’s appendages but the he refused to let go. Orin’s whole body was engulfed the blaze swirling up his torso, his delicate gossamer wings crackled as they caught fire.
The fire stoked hotter and Livia pressed herself into the wall, her heart hammering. The screams of the falling angels as they burnt…wings on fire…the stench of flesh on fire…blood…and snakes…snakes…writhing toward her…snakes coming to get her…
It was Kai’s voice she heard beside her; with effort she pulled herself out of her horrific memories and looked down to the boy who was smiling up at her.
“I can see it!” he said excitedly. “I know! I know what I want to be!”
“What you…?” she began, but then gasped, her terror made real as dozens of snakes began to squirm out from under Kai’s clothes.
She backed away but Kai followed her smiling as the snakes continued to climb into his mop of hair and slide around his arms. The snakes turned their attention suddenly to her, their cold eyes zeroing in, quickly perusing her as she backed away toward the stairs.
She dimly heard Tynan’s voice. “Kai, stop that.”
“She showed me, Commander. I can see it!”
The snakes were growing bigger, rising with dripping fangs snapping at her bare feet. Unable to contain her composure a moment longer she screamed. Flailing, she tripped on the stairs and still they came at her. She turned and ran for her life.
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