Before Kyrik had time to stand up, a pillar of green light exploded to the sky like a raging volcano. Kyrik watched in open jawed horror, recognizing it immediately.
It was the same light. The same light he saw when…when he was cursed with the powers he now held. It didn’t come at him like before, but it was the same. He stood, paralyzed as it expanded further and further, green mist shooting through the streets faster than the eye could blink.
A barrier erected itself around the thrift shop, but no one nearby made it before being consumed in the thick cloud of decay.
A choir of screams assaulted Kyrik’s mind, sending him to the ground as each and every victim’s spirits cried out in confusion and rage. The bells he always heard, banging in his head like a gong. Together, they blocked all outside sensations. Kyrik whimpered, clutching his face and ears to drown them out.
He was aware of someone grabbing him while he writhed on the ground, the reaper consciousness flaring and screaming alongside the choir of the dead. It was angry. It was rageful. And it was threatening to take over.
Kyrik felt the changes already. It never hurt, but the way his mask became one with his face felt like a fusion of bones. The feeling in his legs slowly disappeared.
Bwiop! A blinding white light surrounded Kyrik, cutting him off from the outside. The screams stopped, and the reaper half calmed slightly. Opening his eyes a crack, he found himself encased in a translusent white barrier; Jirmen’s work, he was certain.
Glancing down at his body, he frowned grimly at how far along he’d transformed. Blades jutted from between his middle fingers, the claw itself warping into a scythe-like appendage. His bottom legs, skeletal and fusing together with the spine. Quivering muscle from disappearing flesh and scale thumped like a heartbeat, but again he felt no pain from this.
Wrestling back control from the reaper half, the parts that had been warped and changed back to normal slower than Kyrik would’ve wanted.
As he slowly stood, the barrier blinked away, allowing Kyrik to regain sense. No one had left, but Kali was demanding answers from Jirmen about what happened to Kyrik.
“Are you alright?” She turned attention away from the lycon.
“No.” Kyrik admitted quietly. “I can still hear the bells and screams.”
“Is that why you were rotting?” Kali inspected his legs and other parts that were previously skeletal.
“Remember how I said I can transform?” Kyrik asked. She nodded grimly. “That was a partial one.”
“Save your questions for later, our culprit approaches.” Azulia burst down the door to the thrift shop, where a figure stepped from the mists.
Kyrik’s hearts caught in his throat at the sight of Methir. Paled from the chill of death, her once comforting face and smile twisted into a horrifying snarl. Orange eyes alit with a dark, burning passion. An aura of green enveloped her form; reaper magic.
“I did not expect you to show yourself! I was ready to hunt you down the old-fashioned way.” Azulia addressed Methir, who’s limp form slowly turned her gaze to the queen. “Tell me, what do you hope to accomplish by eradicating a village? Was there a plague I was unaware of? A flaunt of power? If so, you must try harder to impress me.”
“I take no joy in this.” Methir’s voice echoed alongside another’s. Who, Kyrik didn’t know, but his reaper side reacted negatively if the internal screams were any indication. “But it needed to be done to save the world.”
“How is killing everyone supposed to save the world!?” Jirmen boomed, stepping in front of everyone. “That is the exact opposite of saving!”
“I required an army of the dead to stop the cataclysm that is to come.” Methir spat. “Magic isn’t dying, you idiot. It’s going right to Ephiral’s prison! And guess who is already stirring!”
“And what logic is that!?” Jirmen snapped. “Do you really think we haven’t tried with the dead!? That Aurgal hadn’t!? Being dead does nothing against him!”
“Aurgal lacked patience! He lacked finesse! He didn’t see what I saw!” Methir’s tail lashed out in anger. “If we do nothing, Ephiral is going to rise again!”
“Methir,” Kyrik stepped forward, trembling. “Please…stop. This isn’t right.”
Methir’s face softened at his approach. For one moment, a brief flicker of remorse and sanity crossed her face.
“I can’t.” She answered with finality. “I’m sorry Kyrik, but I cannot allow you to interfere. Should you move from this spot, I will have no choice but to contain you.”
At her words came the shuffling and moans of the dead. Their glinting eyes shone through the mist, shapes standing just out of view. Kyrik felt their spirits crying for freedom, trapped in their broken bodies. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Azulia twitch, face emotionless before she threw her head back in laughter.
“Contain us? With Necrolites!?” Azulia cackled. “Jirmen, you never told me she had a sense of humor!”
“It won’t contain you,” Methir’s face hardened with resolve. “But it will contain them, and by proxy, you. They wish to fix the damage.”
“This isn’t going to work, Methir!” Jirmen protested. “He’ll burn them before they get close!”
“Not with the way I’ve been shown. Kyrik would understand, but he lacks the skill.” She shifted her gaze to him. “This is your final warning.”
Methir vanished in a pillar of green light, Kyrik unable to track her presence. He nearly surged off anyway, instead looking to the others. Kali was confused but sympathetic at his crestfallen gaze. Azulia’s face was stoic in calculation, eyes flickering between the three.
But one look at Jirmen, and Kyrik felt something shatter at the look his face slowly changed to.
“No!” Kyrik shouted. “I’m not going to sit here any let her do this! She has to be controlled!”
“Kyrik, there is no one pulling the strings.” Jirmen answered quietly.
“He is quite right.” Azulia agreed. “There is influence, but no puppet master. She is acting of her own accord and is beyond saving. You saw it yourself. Stay here; I will end this swiftly. That is the only kindness I can offer.”
“NO!” Kyrik boomed, hovering in the air as it churned around him. “I will not let you do it!”
“Stop acting like a spoiled whelp for one second and assess the situation.” Azulia regarded him coldly. “I have seen this before, and there is nothing we can do.”
Kyrik felt the dam holding back his emotions – something he didn’t realize he had - burst. Eyes glowing bright green, he and the reaper side found common ground for the first time; anger at Azulia. He screamed in frustration, unleashing a powerful gust of wind that struck the surprised queen square in the chest. She crashed into the thrift shop and out of sight while a stunned Kali and Jirmen watched.
“I am finding her!” Kyrik announced, no longer hiding the rage and grief he felt. “And I am bringing her back! If you try and stop me, I will stop you!”