It was probably a few hours until the village of Leve appeared over the horizon. It was so quiet, so tranquil—the exact opposite of the chaos in Old Tenebris. A certain kind of hospitality warmed me as the Guardians led the refugees towards the golden hamlet.
“There it is, Wyatt,” I said. “Your new home. I think you’ll like it a lot more than Old Tenebris.”
“Are you kidding? I’ve been dying to get out of Old Tenebris. This is a dream come true!”
Wyatt’s eyes lit up as he spotted his new home in the distance. He was ready to start anew in the “village of light,” as it was so aptly named. I was happy for him, even though the circumstances were...less than ideal.
Still, his grief was apparent by the watery sparkle in his eye. He was having a hard time denying any connection to Old Tenebris. I couldn’t blame him. Even in the Castle, Old Tenebris was ingrained in the back of my head. We could reject that all we want, but it wouldn’t change the fact that it was once our home.
And now it was gone.
Leve continued to expand in our view. It was much larger than I expected from a village, with dozens of brick houses lining the city limit. They resembled the houses in Old Tenebris, but rather than being dingy and decrepit, these were quaint and elegant. Vines didn’t spread across the walls and onto other homes, and moss didn’t seep down from the windowsills.
“Elijah, you’re not tired of carrying Celeste?”
Solana approached me from my left, concerned that I had been overexerting myself. In all honesty, I felt perfectly fine. I’ve been chased around Old Tenebris with just as much weight on me. I could last another hour or so if I really wanted.
“I’ll be fine. She’s my responsibility, anyways.”
“That doesn’t mean we can’t help you,” Solana urged.
“Fine. I’ll let you know when I start feeling tired.”
Solana nodded, “How are you feeling, Wyatt?”
Wyatt smiled faintly, “Better. Definitely better. It’s not every day you get out of Old Tenebris. Not many people have the opportunity. Now I have a place I can spend the rest of my life and know that my family will be safe.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re seeing the positive side of things,” Solana replied. “Looks like we’re almost there.”
At last, Leve was mere yards away. Soon, Wyatt, his grandmother, and all the refugees could live in peace, safe from the harsh effects of the twilight in the crime-ridden project.
“Can you believe anything that’s happened?” I asked Wyatt.
“In all honesty, it feels like a dream,” he answered.
We walked through several paved roads into the town square. Although the village seemed calm and amicable—which it was—the center of town was quiet, silent even. Not a soul inhabited the circle in the middle of Leve, even though it was paved in a brilliant pattern of assorted stones. I expected the village to be a little more sociable, especially at the wake of IE.
“Is Leve always this...empty?” I asked.
Wyatt shrugged, “A little peace and quiet never hurt anyone.”
I chuckled, “Well, let’s go find whoever’s in charge of this pla—”
“Elijah! Get down!”
Keith’s voice soared through the air, startling me. It was then that I felt a rush of warm air whiz by, as if someone had launched a fiery arrow in my direction. Instinctively, I dove to the ground, tackling Wyatt in the process. I could hear Solana scolding me in my head about letting instinct guide my danger reflex, but that didn’t matter now. As long as Wyatt was safe, it meant nothing.
“What the hell was that!?” Wyatt yelled.
Keith and Josef ran over to us and lifted us off the ground, “Are you two alright?”
“Forget about us! We need to get the refugees somewhere safe!”
And then it happened. A barrage of green flames were flung into the crowd of exiles. The throng of people dispersed, frenzied by the onslaught of Essence.