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Bix stood up and made a slashing motion with her hand. Haradeth stopped clapping before Synit – the half Alohym woman looked less certain than he did about what the gesture meant. “I’ve never seen anything like that,” Haradeth said, doing his best to convey shock and excitement over the feat as opposed to letting any of his horror at the carnage slip though.
It’s not that he felt bad for the Alohym soldiers Bix had laid low. This was a war, casualties would happen. Bix hadn’t been especially cruel in the slaughter. Haradeth had just never seen anyone or anything kill so many people with such…frivolity. She’d been singing, for the light’s sake?
“What are you?” Synit asked. She’d barely moved since the beginning of the fight, and had not yet taken her eyes off of Bix.
“I’m amazing.” Bix turned back towards the hallway. “You two need to pull your weight some, though. I can’t kill all of them myself. Well, I mean, I probably can, but it will take slightly longer.”
Haradeth nodded, his brain finally kicking back into focus. The danger hasn’t passed yet. Theognis is still out there. “Synit, can you shoot an arcwand?”
“No,” Synit said.
Haradeth clenched his teeth. He didn’t mind that they’d found this woman. If she hadn’t been honest about being on their side, she easily could have betrayed them during Bix’s slaughter of the soldiers earlier. Haradeth had been completely transfixed by the carnage. However, he was starting to wish he’d left her in the cauldron. “Then what can you do in a fight?”
“I’m part Alohym,” Synit said, as if that was an answer. “Their blood runs in my veins as much as my human side does.”
Haradeth took a deep breath to avoid screaming at the obtuse woman. “I’ve seen Alohym fight. They move at incredible speed, strike hard enough to crack stone, and can command unlight. Can you do any of those?”
Synit nodded. “The last one. I can command unlight.”
Haradeth sagged with relief. “So you’re a lumcaster. When Teognis arrives, I’ll need you to-”
Synit’s antenna twitched, and Haradeth felt his heart sink. “You misunderstand. I can project unlight beams. Theognis is a true lumcaster, he can do far more than I.”
Haradeth clenched his hands into fists. “So when you said you didn’t need an arcwand, it was because you are one. Why…why did you not simply say that?”
“I answered the question you asked.” Synit shrugged. Haradeth could see her wince from the pain the gesture caused her. It tugged a bit of sympathy out of him, but the irritation was still strong. There was a murderous lumcaster coming for them, and she was playing word games.
“You really should let me stab her,” Bix said.
“Don’t tempt me,” Haradeth responded. “Synit, get to cover and get ready. Bix, would you be so kind as to toss me one of those arcwands? I’ll need it when Theognis arrives.”
“I will, if you’re absolutely certain I can’t stab the Alohym woman right between her spines.”
“Yes, I’m absolutely certain that you-” Haradeth caught the way Bix’s eyes started to narrow. “I’m absolutely certain that I’d prefer if you didn’t stab her.”
“Yay you can learn. Fine.” Bix skittered over to one of the arcwands and kicked it towards Haradeth. “Now why don’t you-”
Bix’s sentence was cut off and she started to shriek, a harsly metallic sound that sent Haradeth’s hair standing on edge. An unlight dome had dropped around her, and Bix was slashing at it with all four limbs.
“Synit, get back!” Haradeth barked, raising his arcrifle and pointing it down the corridor.
Theognis walked into view, his face contorted into anger. Haradeth opened fire. Theognis held up his hand and caught the unlight beam with an open palm. Haradeth pulled the trigger again and again. Each beam was intercepted as Theognis’ hand blurred, catching each individual bolt. That shouldn’t be possible. No one can move that fast. No one should be able to move that fast. Even the speed Bix had shown wasn’t on par with this. And yet Theognis was easily keeping up with Haradeth’s attacks.
“A godling using an arcwand. How delightfully pedestrian,” Theognis said. The hand he’d been using to block began to suck in the ambient light. Next to Theognis, Bix had switched all four of her limbs to the tiny rotating saws and was pressing them against the unlight barrier surrounding her. They made a harsh grating sound as they dug into the energy barrier, but it did not break. “I’ve gotten very tired of dealing with this inane meddling. Surrender, godling, and I’ll make your death quick.”
Haradeth tossed the arcwand aside as it clicked empty and grabbed a new one. “I’m sure to get right on that,” Haradeth said, aiming the arcwand at Theognis’ head. “Let me guess. If I continue to resist, my death will be long and painful?”
“Oh no,” Theognis said. “You’re the last surviving godling. You’ll be used to spawn more of your kind, and you’ll watch as your offspring are bound with Alohym and made into new beings.”
Haradeth paled at the implications. “I would never touch -”
“Please,” Theognis interrupted. “The Alohym do not need you alive. They merely need your blood. That is more than enough to fabricate all that they need. I should have been clearer – your blood will be used to create more godlings. The question is if you are alive to witness what your progeny become, or if you rest in the Shadow while we make them.”
Haradeth responded by shooting again. Theognis caught the blast.
“So you choose to watch. I see. I suppose there’s no point to even asking you where Synit is?”
Haradeth frowned. Is that why he’s here? He’s looking for her? How could she be that important. “What’s a Synit?”
Theognis sighed. “I endured this idiocy from Armin earlier, little godling. Tell me where she is or I will-”
“I’m right behind you.”
Theognis whirled to face the voice. Synit had emerged from behind cover, her hands held together. No, Haradeth realized. Her hands have merged together. The limbs formed a star, and the center was drawing in so much unlight the entire cavern darkened to the level of twilight.
She let loose a blast of unlight as thick as the main weapons of the Alohym’s skyships, focused directly on Theognis’ chest.