Ruin and rumble.
On all sides. In all directions.
That was all the pair could see.
They stood, surveying the carnage which they had created.
But that was now.
A moment ago they were huddled together beneath the heap of heavy rocks and dust that had once been a dark castle on a black hill. They were protected from the immense weight of the pile by the energy bubble they had forged at the very last moment.
The moment when they, in unison – as they would always be from this point forward – realized that they were more powerful together than apart.
When the great revelation finally came upon them, and then manifested itself.
Shalise and Ethaniel were the most powerful beings in this universe. They always had been and always would be, but only when they were One.
Hands still clasped together, fingers interwoven – her cocoa ones twining through his pale ones – they breathed, again as a single force, slow…deep…purposeful breaths.
This was not a victory. It was only a beginning.
They had ended the dark reign of those who had dwelled within the walls now laid flat. Yet there was so much more to do. Ethan’s father and mother were not dead. They had merely removed themselves from danger. He could sense that – very clearly – and, by default, so could Shay. They were not near. The sinister force that had once haunted this ground had been forcefully swept far away, but not so far that their heavy presence had been completely muted. They were in hiding. Probably had taken a chosen few of their minions and gone to think, regroup, and plot their next phase. There was no doubt in Ethan’s mind – nor Shay’s – that they would resurface, eventually.
“What now?” Shay’s voice was soft, unusually soft, and its subtle texture pulled at his heart, causing Ethan to squeeze her hand slightly, tenderly.
He turned his blue eyes from the wreckage surrounding them and placed a tender, warmer gaze into her hazel stare. He loved her so much. It was an overwhelming swell in the center of his chest, a feeling of complete rapture that he had never known before and would experience only in her presence. He wanted to run away with her to the furthest corners of creation and wrap her so completely in his love, so that no force would ever be able to touch her luminous spirit or harm her perfect flesh again. Would that be terribly selfish to actually do that?
Just as quickly as the thought silked his mind, another tug called it back to the here and now.
Ethan’s eyes reluctantly looked away and back toward the coming dawn.
This time, for the first time in many years, he did not fear the rising of the new sun. The permeation of a once-feared dose of heavy daylight, instead, heralded a new sensation, which he welcomed.
It no longer burned to feel the ember waves of sunlight flowing over his skin. It was a warm caress. A revitalizing pulse of energy, renewing his purpose and setting his solemn vows into sacred places.
Ethan closed his eyes, tilted his sharp chip upward, locked his jaw tight, and breathed deeply of the new day and of the morning dew. Where once darkness had been his bondage, Ethaniel was, now and forever, reborn in Light. With his queen, his love, the other half of his soul, Shalise, by his side.
Dipping his face down and out toward the eerily silent city in the valley below, he knew there was much work to be done. Nothing stirred there. It was time to wake up others and bring them into this journey. They would need much help with what was to come.
“Now we fight.” He said, voice low and husky, filled with passion and purpose. “We hold the dark. Push it back, starting here and then move that front in all directions. This is zero ground. It will soon become sacred again.”
Shay moved her gaze in the direction that his eyes pointed toward.
She held tighter to his hand, and the glow at the center of their grasp pulsed again.
“We fight,” she repeated his oath, “We hold the dark. We push it back, as far as we can in all directions… Together.”
“Together,” he affirmed, as the couple began to move forward on strengthen legs.
Theia nodded. She was finally satisfied.
“Now we help them,” the goddess said as she began to transform her energy and descend into the human realm. “This ending is the world’s new and much-needed beginning.”
“Agreed,” her celestial husband, Hyperion, noted in an energy pulse, as he also moved toward the lower world of mankind.
In a thought, they were both removed from their watchful post behind the curtain of creation and walking among the mortal beings.
They would not be recognized. At least not until they were ready to be so.
As they moved toward the edge of the muted and dirty city, the silhouette of a couple pierced the light of dawn spilling over the hill on the eastern horizon.
“There,” Theia said, “coming over that hill.”
“I see them,” Hyperion replied, “shall we introduce ourselves?”
“No,” her answer was sharp and low. “Let them find us first. This will be the first of many tests. We must prepare them in all areas for what is to come.”
And with that, like smoke and fog, the two were gone into the air.
BEGIN PART THREE
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