And just like that, she charged Celeste, who had easily caught the two wooden rods. Solana sent a knee into her stomach, channeling Essence at the kneecap. Celeste collapsed into it, losing her grip on Solana’s weapons. Once her hand was free, Solana slammed one of the clubs into her hip, then sent the second one towards Celeste’s temple.
Celeste, however, deflected the second club just inches before impact. She yanked Solana forward and their foreheads smashed into each other. Blood began to drip from both of their heads, but neither seemed affected by it.
Solana had yet to create an “opening.” What was I even looking for? Was she going to hold her down and let me whack her? Or was it when she lowered her guard? I continued to watch closely, in hopes that the answer would become clear to me as the battle went on.
Still, Celeste had already disarmed one of Solana’s billy clubs, snapping it in half and reverting it back to Essence. The blue light returned to her, filling her with a newfound vigor. Her heavy breathing steadied along with her wobbling stance. Perhaps one was all she needed.
She slammed the billy club into Celeste’s hip, then followed it with a quick chop to the collarbone. Celeste readied her Essence Burst, but not before Solana kicked her shin and sent her off-balance.
That has to be the opening.
I charged up my fist as fast as I could, but it was too late. Celeste effortlessly regained her balance and slammed an elbow into Solana’s stomach.
The two of them were too fast for me to keep up. Punches were thrown, blood was exchanged, and Solana was gradually being pushed into a corner. How could I help her? She couldn’t create an opening, unless…
Solana held out her billy club in front of her face to block an incoming left hook. She ducked and rolled away from Celeste, giving her plenty of time to charge an Essence burst.
When Solana returned to her feet, Celeste already created a ball of green fire in her right palm. Without a ranged weapon to manifest, Solana was at her mercy.
“Looks like you’ll be the first to die tonight. Goodbye, Solana.”
And just like that, time seemed to slow down around me. Before her Essence could be released, I charged at her. Fear consumed every fiber in my being, screaming at me to stay away from her, to run away and never look back...to be the coward that I truly was.
But I couldn’t stay away. Not anymore. No more being the confused, timid Elijah with hopes of finding his absent kin. I had to be Elijah the Guardian, the Icarus who would soar to danger…
Even if my wings burned up in the process.
So I dove. I dove into her and knocked her into the wall. My vision had been obscured by an emerald flame. Pain unlike any I had ever experienced singed the nerves on my face. My muscles began to relax, and I could feel myself drifting out of consciousness…
“Elijah!” a voice called out to me, one with the power to slice through even the strongest of barriers.
My eyes snapped open, and the world suddenly became clear again. The blood returned to my legs, allowing me to stand up and gather my bearings. I turned to Solana, who stared at me wide-eyed, her jaw nearly tearing from its hinges.
“Elijah, your Essence…”
Curious, I took a look at my hands. An alabaster radiance flared from my fingertips, running up to my shoulders and down to my toes. I never saw such a bright light. The only thing I could imagine myself shining brighter than was the sun, before the Solar Convergence.
Celeste wrapped herself around me and threw me back onto the floor. My head pounded against the floor tiles, blurring my vision. And yet, on the brink of losing consciousness, the Essence within me continued to burn.
Pinning me to the ground, Celeste channeled Essence into her palm once again. Her once maniacal grin was replaced by a menacing grimace. Solana’s screams echoed in my head as Celeste’s Burst inched towards my face.
At first, I was plagued by that agonizing sensation, the product of Celeste’s rage summoned and simmering in her Essence. As quickly as it came, however, the feeling became...numb. Maybe the nerves in my face were beyond repair.
But then, her Essence began to flood my body. All of my strength returned to me as I was able to toss Celeste off my body and into the nearby wall.
I stood up again, wiping some of the blood off the back of my head. There was no pain. In fact, I felt better than ever, and still gleamed with a blinding ivory.
Celeste fumbled as she got up, taken aback by my sudden burst of energy. “What? How did you—?”
Before she could finish, Solana smacked her on the head with her billy club, knocking her unconscious.