The Balance tipped as the tension in the City snapped and he felt his heart drop with it. Felt exactly like he had when he’d watched Rhyshladlyn stride into the Eighth Palace like an Old Story made into stark reality. Felt exactly like he had when he’d watched the love of his life speak the words she’d never verbalized in all their time together until the moment she knew she’d never have the chance again. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Double fuck. His hands gripped the edges of the parapet that ran the length of the retaining wall as he leaned forward, breath stuck in his chest, eyes wide, as he watched Azriel race through the air back towards the Companion Watchtower as Relyt’s and Jerald’s lit up with a golden glow that burned to look at but he couldn’t close his eyes. He had to see this. Had to witness it.
Because if everything went sideways here and their attempts to save the City and its citizens failed, he needed to be a witness. Even if he died, too, at least someone would have seen that they’d tried.
Thae’a’s Weave trembled around them and he frowned as fear slipped slowly up his legs towards his torso. The soldiers and warriors spread along the wall to either side of him began to mutter prayers and he didn’t blame them. The loss of Balance in Ryphqi was bad enough but if Thae’a’s Weave failed them, too? They’d all die because there was no way there was enough warriors, trained or not, in the City to fight off all the Hounds, Oiki, and Xhlëndïr that filled the streets. The screams that rose from the ground grew in pitch and intensity and then another joined them, as power the likes of which Eiod had only felt once when he’d faced off against Rhyshladlyn in the Eighth Palace’s Main Hall all those centuries ago, when the Qishir had stood in his truest form and stared them all down as he obliterated Lulphé from Existence buffeted the Worlds just as Thae’a’s Weave shattered like glass.
The fear became a roaring forest fire of terror and slammed into his chest, buckling his knees. Had it not been for the grip he had on the stone parapets, he’d have fallen and lost sight of Azriel pumping his wings with a single-minded purpose, left arm outstretched as the air around the Anglëtinean shimmered, waved, and then sparked into fire as every single Shield, Barrier, and ward he had came crashing down. No, not crashing. He lowered them on purpose.
He shouldn’t abandon his post, he knew better but he’d sworn to keep Jerald safe. Had sworn to himself that he’d make sure that Azriel was around and in one piece when Rhyshladlyn returned. And seeing the Grey Companion flying at a speed that made him nothing more than a blur in the sky, feeling his power rush to the surface without anything to tamper it? Eiod knew that that wasn’t doable from his current position. It made him sick to his stomach, made him feel like his throat was too tight to draw enough air through, and he swayed on his feet at the mere thought of leaving his post and wading into the City proper. He knew he was strong, knew he was powerful even, but he wasn’t a major player and never had been. But knowing and seeing it were two very different things. But High and Old Ones See him, he had to try.
That was when Azriel’s unhampered power slammed into him and pulled a scream from his throat. That was when he felt that power arc from him to every soldier and warrior to either side of him, pulling screams from their throats, too, before it dropped down off the wall to every Dhaoine running for the tunnels and now the above ground gates as the magickal creatures Thae’a’s Weave had been trying to save them from caught on and aimed for the true reality instead.
And as it did he knew that they wouldn’t die here because he felt Azriel’s Call as it cascaded out across the Worlds. Felt the Worlds take a breath and hold it, waiting. For a moment time seemed to slow down until every movement, every tiny stuttering breath he tried to take, took minutes rather than seconds. Azriel threw that Call out again with such intensity that it could be seen with the naked eye and Eiod watched with a sense of impending disaster that didn’t quite feel like disaster, hands gripping the stone so tightly he could hear it whine in protest over the cacophony, as the air began to boil around him, as Azriel shook the very foundations of the Worlds with his power and his desperation and his grief as his tattoos began to glow, when his hand finally touched the Companion Watchtower and amplified his Call.
He didn’t even think about it, didn’t register he’d made the choice to do so, before he was suddenly being pulled back from where he’d begun to climb over the parapets by too many hands to a chorus of, “Eiod, no! You cannot leave here! It is not safe below!” But he didn’t care, he had a duty to fulfill, he had promises to keep, but those hands wouldn’t let him go. So instead of doing something to stop it, he stood there in stark horror and awe as first Azriel then Relyt began to glow the same golden color that the Watchtowers they touched. Watched as Ryphqi came Awake and Alive around him.
Watched as Azriel lost his grip on the Watchtower and fell out of sight, saw Relyt’s mouth form the Anglëtinean’s name before he, too, went limp and fell away Jerald your ass better be on the ground right now just as Ryphqi City filled with flames in shifting shades of violet, black, and rich sapphire blue to the sound of gods laughing. And riding on that laughter was a sound that reminded him so much of Rhyshladlyn’s own laughter, of the promises it had always held. He shuddered even as tears burned hotly down his cheeks because he recognized that fire. He knew what it was and nothing survived that save the Dhaoine who controlled it.
Then Worlds let out the breath they’d held in a slow gust of wind that made his hair whip around his face as something that tasted like Azriel, Jerald, and Relyt’s power combined and something so much more and so very different Spoke in Answer, “Yes.”