Last Line(s): Audrey stopped walking. As did Will. He painfully held the Devil up as Audrey stood in front of Akol and inspected him. When she saw how slumped he was and that his eyes were closed, she gasped, her hand over her chest.
“...I think he fainted!”
It was a bit after two in the morning when Akol finally came to. Everything felt extremely light as he opened his eyes and turned his head to the left. His eyes met the wall and he knew he was in his room by its unique color. It had color, but no color at the same time.
As much as it hurt, he took a long breath in. “Ah…” and straightened himself up on the bed, laying his head against the headboard. “Askel?” he called, hoping that his brother, someone close to family, or anyone was near him. As soon as the name left his mouth, someone flashed by in front of him and stood right beside him.
“You’re awake!” Askel exclaimed. His eyes were bloodshot, as if he’d been drifting in and out of sleep for a long time. “You bloody idiot, you scared me half to death!”
Akol smirked. “Ha. Ha. Very funny.” Everyone knew Devils couldn’t be killed so easily. You would need a wooden spear and pierce their heart for them to be dead. And anyway, if Askel did die, that would be his first death, meaning he’d have two other deaths to go before he completely perished. It was a common joke among Devils.
Askel chuckled. “I see no damage has been done to the brain.”
“Yeah. I think. Where’s Audrey? And Will?” he added before Askel lectured him about thinking of the couple together and not separate.
“I told them to go to their room and get packed up and take a nap for a while before they have to leave…” Askel glanced up at the clock as he sat down beside his little brother on the bed. “...in three hours.”
Akol drooped like a wilting flower. “Do you think they’ll be able to handle the Angels?” he asked quietly after a long and tense pause.
“Do you want anything to eat?” Askel was changing the subject on purpose, and Akol hated him very much right then for that.
“Shut up. Answer me. I order you to,” he snapped.
Askel bowed his head, remembering his place as an ordinary Devil. He himself had told Akol to take him away from the royal position. Akol would have been better anyway. If Askel sobbed over a dying butterfly, imagine what he would’ve been doing now, as King, and Akol, as Prince.
“I don’t know. They seemed very tense when they were in here with you and we took shifts watching over you. Will, me, Audrey, then Zoya and Ujalaa again. And all of them all over again. I think they’ll take it seriously. Don’t worry,” he assured, giving him a half-hearted smile. “I’ll send some food for you,” he added before exiting the room.
Still in bed, Akol drooped more - if that was even possible. He prayed silently that the couple would stop the Angels. It was heart-breaking to know exactly what the galaxy would look like if they failed. The King of the Angels, Herschel, had shown him exactly what would happen in one of his dreams. Akol closed his eyes.
“It’s going to be fine.”
At exactly five-thirty in the morning that day, Zoya burst into the couples’ room, not bothering to knock. Audrey screamed as she jumped up in bed, waking up Will in the process.
“Zoya!” Audrey shrieked.
“Get up!” Zoya shrieked back.
“Has no one taught you manners?”
“In case you haven’t heard, we kids don’t have manners.” The teenager crossed her arms and scowled.
Will rolled his eyes. “Such an idiot.”
“Maybe you can parent me, then, if you think I’m such an idiot,” Zoya snapped.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“It’s six o’clock and neither of you are awake!” she exclaimed, throwing up her hands. “I’m all ready.” She crossed her arms.
Audrey looked down at what Zoya was wearing. A long green flannel sweater over a gray shirt and black jeans to match. Her shoes looked like a mix of black Vans and Converse. She also had a big (heavy looking) denim backpack slung over her shoulder. She was definitely ready.
“Oh.” Will looked out the window. “Child, it’s still dark.” He threw his head back onto the pillow, groaning.
“Get up and I’ll stop,” Zoya said. Audrey sighed and crawled out of the bed. “Both of you,” she added, glaring at Will.
“Okay, mom.” Will made a face at her.
“You’re both acting like kids.” Audrey rolled her eyes.
Zoya completely ignored her. “Be down in twenty minutes flat,” she ordered.
“You’re late!” Zoya yelled from the front door when Will and Audrey came trotting down the stairs.
The couple looked at each other, confused. Audrey had checked the time on her phone - which was somehow still at a hundred percent. It was exactly five fifty-eight when they left their room. She pulled out her phone and checked again. She sighed, exasperated. “It’s six oh one.”
“Still late!” Zoya exclaimed, crossing her arms.
“She’s so moody,” Will whispered.
“I have a feeling that if she heard that she would have your guts cut out,” Audrey whispered back, adjusting their backpack behind her. They had put all the necessary things they would need in it - Audrey’s canvas (with the paintbrushes and paint) and Will’s notebook. Whatever else they would need in the future could easily be made with magic.
The couple continued down the stairs - there were a lot - and soon enough, they were standing in front of Zoya.
“Aren’t we going to say goodbye to anyone?” Audrey asked.
“No,” Zoya said, turning on her heel and reaching for the huge doorknob. She opened the door and stepped to the side to let them get out first.
“Why?” Will asked as he and Audrey walked out, followed by Zoya.
“That’s not what we do here.” Zoya stepped in front of the couple and started leading them into the forest again. “And no, you can’t see King Akolxohez either.”
Audrey and Will stayed silent and watched as the sun - Sweztyn - started rising. The moons started fading away and the twinkle that came from the three lone stars hid behind the light of dawn. The looming trees of the forest still looked as frightening as ever, sending chills down their spines. The three of them continued walking towards the forests led by Zoya, each of them lost in their own thoughts.
Will had his shoulders slumped. Honestly, he’d thought they’d get a farewell party, or a feast, or even a goodbye from the guy who had pretty much given them no plan and only orders. Does anyone even do that? Not at all. Earlier, because of the thought of a party or a feast, he put on slightly fancier clothing - khakis paired with a white t-shirt and a gray-black hoodie over. To top (or bottom) it all off, he had on the best sneakers he could find in the walk-in closet.
Not Audrey, though. She wore her simple clothes she wore all the time. A camouflage long sleeve shirt that reached her mid-thigh. It hugged her skin around her waist and went down to her thighs in a bit of a flare, giving it a dressy look. But it wasn’t dressy to her. It was her normal type of clothing. Underneath that, she had black jeans, only ripped up a bit at the hem. And she had brown hiking boots. Audrey’s thought process was much different than Will’s. She was fine with not having a party or a fancy feast. She didn’t care much.
Everyone froze, and their heads snapped in the direction of the sound - a bush. Of course it was a bush. What else could it be?
“What was that?” Audrey asked.
Will shushed her. Audrey furrowed her brows at him and elbowed his He puffed out his cheeks in pain, and recoiled. “Thanks,” he breathed.
“Will you two be quiet?” Zoya asked. It was more like an order. “I’m trying to identify the noise.”
A silence fell over the three of them and they all stayed still, breathing extra quietly, making sure not to spook whatever was behind the bush - or in it.
“It’s an Angel,” Zoya said, her heart dropping. Even her voice became high-pitched out of fear. “Eemoc tuo,” she said shakily.
The supposed Angel appeared from behind a tree - not the bush. She was the same one. The one they had seen before. Was her name Obraya? When Will mouthed her name, it felt right and he knew it was her. This time, for some weird reason, he didn’t feel light in the head and weak in the knees.
“What are you doing here?” Zoya asked, trying to butter her voice with strictness. “King Akolxohez told you to stay away.” Zoya took out her wand and pointed it directly at the Angel.
“Good morning to you too, darling,” Obraya said. Her voice was soft. It was like honey dripping from a honeycomb. Will almost melted right then.
“What do you want?” Zoya asked.
Obraya’s mellow gaze flitted towards the couple. Audrey took a sharp intake of breath and held onto her husband’s elbow.
“Look. Away,” Zoya growled. “Now.”
The Angel smiled sweetly at the teenager. Zoya faltered and her hand - the one with the wand in it - shook. Slightly. Barely visible. But Obraya saw it and frowned.
Everyone felt ten times better than they had two seconds ago.
“Fine.” Obraya floated - she didn’t actually float, she was walking, but it looked as if she was floating - towards the three of them. “But hear me out first.”
That caught the travelers' attention.