As a dreary silence descended over the motley group, broken only by the tearing sounds of the time void, preparing to rip apart and hurl its denizens back into the hostile outside world, each reflected on the words that Moonal had uttered.
With a shuffling of hooves, Count Vladislau stepped forward. All through the angry exchange between the birdman and the fire-conjurer, he had remained aloof. He had seen that kind of anger before, in no other place but himself. And what had happened then had not been pretty. Now, before things got out of hand, he had to speak up.
“People, all this bickering, this fighting will solve nothing. I, for one, believe this Moonal. It is clear that the creatures on the outside want to destroy us for some reason. However, I don’t think we want to destroy any of us, except maybe through misplaced anger.” The centaur’s beady eyes wavered in the general direction of Zanaria, Issac and Sedusa who was slowly coming to. “If we do not band together, we will be overcome. I know how this feels, to work with a bunch of strangers.” This time he gestured clearly towards the Angel, Sedusa, Mike and Crexnettle. “When we first met each other, we fought the exact same way. But we have learned to work in unison to achieve…our objective. That’s what we have to do now.” Vladislau exhaled heavily, strangely conscious of having spoken so much. A moment’s silence, and then the Angel spoke, “I agree with Count Vladislau. I can sense the evil outside this …time void or whatever it is you speak of, but not in any of us. We are the good guys, however hard that might be to believe.”
Zanaria sneered, “Easy for you to say, Angel. You don’t have to live with what I did.”
The Angel snapped back, “Well, you won’t have to live with it for very long either, if you keep up with this.” Zanaria fluttered his wings in protest but kept his mouth shut.
The Angel continued, “Now, it seems to me, that to avoid further incident, we should take Moonal’s advice and split into groups more …compatible with each other. I will of course prefer to work with Sedusa, Vladislau, Mike and Crexnettle. Issac, I’d be honoured if you could join us.” Issac nodded in agreement, his eyes still on Zanaria’s talons. The Angel kept on talking, “Zanaria, you and this young man in the jacket seem to get along well. And clearly, you…” the Angel pointed at London, “You seem to know this poor girl, Autumn as well as the other unconscious girl.” He gestured towards Anna lying groggily on the ground. “Perhaps, you can work together maybe?”
London looked briefly at Zanaria, but he seemed disinterested with the proceedings. Eventually, he said, “That doesn’t suit me at all.”
A twitch in the eye.
“I mean, I think that ought to be fine with me.”
Moonal interjected, “Autumn is a lot weaker than she was when she brought you here. She needs protection and shelter. I cannot leave her …so fragile. I will come with you.”
London shrugged his jacket to indicate that it was one and the same to him.
The Angel finally spoke, in a tense tone, “So, that’s settled then. We fight together in our respective groups and regroup when we’ve learnt something new. Is that understood?” There was a general murmur of assent. And with that, the two groups slowly walked further away from each other. As they stepped away, Sedusa brushed past Zanaria, and snarled at him real softly. Zanaria merely grimaced and walked faster to keep pace with Moonal. Ominously, both groups noticed the hole in the time void growing larger. And then…
Black lightning rent the white peacefulness asunder, cracks of vermilion fury slowly streaking across the periphery of the protective globe. The cracks widened, and the black night sky of the outside slowly spread across, overtaking the two groups. And with the creeping darkness came the creatures of the shadow.