Aridela fell to her knees, whispering, “Velchanos.” She stared into the sky, at the lightning. “He comes for us….”
Another rift opened, so close that she teetered and started to fall, but Chrysaleon grabbed her and jerked her back.
Something else, a boiling blackness, ringed with molten haze like clouds of fire, obliterated the heavens in the same direction as the lightning. He stared, stiff with horror, seeing Great Poseidon rise from the sea. “Come,” he cried, knowing this blood-soaked shadow brought their deaths. “Run!” He half-dragged Aridela past freshly uprooted trees.
“There’s a place—” Aridela took the lead. She pulled Chrysaleon to the west, into a wood untouched by damage. Soon she found an indentation at the base of a tree-covered slope, where erosion, root-growth, and the digging of animals had created a shallow cave. They knelt and wormed past the roots into the hole, only to discover it was too small to cover them completely.
“Fill it in,” Chrysaleon shouted.
They scooped everything they could, earth, rocks and leaves into the opening of their refuge as the world around them transformed into a white rage of heat and fire.
Murderous wind snapped tree trunks like twigs in the angry clasp of a god. The air grew hot and stank of sulfur. Branches burst into flames. Chrysaleon made sure Aridela pressed her face to her knees and he did the same. He covered his head and hers with his arms, but there was no escape, no choice between breathing and not. His lungs and mouth seared like meat on a spit. Aridela whimpered.
The wind died, leaving a crackle of burning wood, branches collapsing, the tortured shriek of animals. They saw nothing through the gaps but a smoky-red haze.
“Are you hurt?” The words scraped against Chrysaleon’s scorched, swollen throat.
She whispered, “I am burned.”
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