“Spirit Run” – part 6

Once again, no need for intros. Just more of the story as promised.

“Harda!” shouted Balphin, a beam of light shooting straight for Harda. “Don’t stay out there too long. Tell us what you see.”
Harda focused back on the Shadow. It was far from the Trio, but advancing quickly. Its behavior was unpredictable. It ignored certain groupings of Angels while violently attacking others. Furthermore, the Shadow would sometimes split on contact, birthing a second shadow rather than die where it landed. These clashes between Shadow and Angel would emit a deafening cry, one so strong that it shook the space where the Trio resided.
“So many…there are so many this time…,” said Harda, repeating himself. He had not seen it like this before. In the past, only a few Shadows would conjure themselves. But this onslaught was vast and expansive. One Shadow, not far from Harda, tried to devour a wall of Angels but was thrown back with great force. Like the other Shadows, it split into several pieces, crying aloud as it searched for more potential prey. Then it turned its attentions on Harda.
“Time to go!” shouted Harda. He whipped back around and dove into the sphere.
“How many?” asked Balphin.
“Too many,” answered Harda. “I’ve never seen it so dense.”
“Too many?” said Armin. The sound of a challenge flared something up inside him. “I’m not familiar with ‘too many’. Don’t lose heart, lads. This is where the fun begins, remember?!” The Angel Armin bristled a dark blue, his wings rising high into the atmosphere. His eagerness was not shared by his compatriots.
“I wish I shared in your sentiment, Armin,” said Balphin. “Nevertheless, let us prepare.”
“Very well. Let them come!” shouted Harda, his heart rekindled by Armin’s fury. “We will do whatever is necessary.”
The Angels shined brightly, their wings extending upwards. Down below, the Newborn was beginning to walk at a brisk pace. Its arms lifted as it strode confidently to some unseen destination – one that would hopefully carry them away from the Shadows that lurked.
A cry shook the sphere once more. Another figure of light appeared, running faster than the Newborn. And another. And another.
“Look there,” said Harda. “Perhaps we can hitch a ride?”
There were many walking alongside. Their prints seemed to deter the Shadow and its followers. Collectively, they were stronger this way. The Newborn reached out its hand and touched others around it. When their hands met, they grew in tandem. The glow reached upward, overlapping the lower portions of the Angels.
“Wow…our feet,” said Harda. The Angel watched as his bottom half hanged from transparent to opaque. “They’re coming alive again.”
“Of all the things to get excited over…,” said Balphin.
“Well, aren’t you?”
Balphin looked at his feet. He wriggled his toes, blue light shining from his upper half in enjoyment.
“Very well. It is exciting.”
Suddenly, another being veered off course and nearly smashed into the Newborn.
“Whoa now!” shouted Balphin. The Angel stopped entertaining his toes and looked to the Newborn. “What gives here?”
“Collateral damage, perhaps?” said Armin. It was not unusual to witness other Newborns run faster than others; to rush forward ahead of the rest. The waves they generated were very powerful, knocking fellow travelers off track in many instances. This was never done via some malicious resolve; these Newborns were fierce in their pursuits and that meant unavoidable casualties along the way.
“Not certain,” said Balphin. “But we certainly can’t stand for that.”
“Best check on that.”
“Understood. I will tend to it.”
“Careful,” said Harda. “Your toes are exposed now.”
“Your observations are always refreshing, Harda.”
Balphin descended upon the Newborn, embarrassed by Harda’s comment but ready to investigate. His whole body became visible again – face, hair, shoulders, everything. The Newborn did not recognize Balphin; it tilted its head towards the newcomer instead. The other being was running in place, a few paces outside of the barrier. The Newborn reached out towards the newcomer, who began to do the same. Balphin’s large body, unable to come between them, pressed as closely as possible to the point of contact. His silver eyes, three times the size of the Newborn’s, diligently observed every action.
“Something’s not right…,” said Balphin. He peered above the traveler and saw no such Angelic trio. There were shades of something set apart from this newcomer but nothing definitive. The Newborn continued to extend its hand to the outermost wall, eager to connect in some way. Balphin stayed vigilant. He called out to the newcomer with words that sounded like a harp playing. It was the only means he had for speaking with other beings of light. The newcomer did not respond, and Balphin’s eyes became serious. Then, the once beautiful shape of the newcomer became gray and hollow while a sharp scream began emanating from its core. The tips of its fingers spilled out like weeds and vines, ready to grasp the Newborn’s hand.
“Deceiver!” cried Armin and the Angels bellowed in unison.
The brightly shining newcomer was a Shadow in disguise. Balphin pulled away for only a moment as his right side exploded with new light. A sword emerged in his hands, as big and wide as his whole body. He swooped over top of the Newborn, and swung downward with tremendous force, cutting the ghastly fingers of the Shadow before they could reach the Newborn’s outstretched hand. The Shadow howled violently, the remainder of its arm retreating within itself. Armin and Harda took their own battle stances. Light beamed in every direction as they attempted to further fortify the barrier around the Newborn.
“Behind us!” shouted Armin. Harda turned to see that the barrier, strong as it had been, was breaking. The Newborn had run hard, but the Shadows had caught them. Dark clouds, like a river of black bubbles, covered the light fortress. Black veins tore at the wall, seeping inside of the Trio’s barrier. Armin’s body transformed – his large, translucent form took shape in the presence of the enemy; skin, hair, and eyes appeared just as they did when he was next to the Newborn’s light. To Harda, the onslaught of darkness had the same effect.
“The barrier, Armin!” cried Harda. “The barrier will break completely. Very soon, I’d say!”
“Not yet it won’t!”

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