|Chapter 10: Escape from Elohim|
Giants yelled. Fighting to keep their balance, the Haruchai circled defensively around Linden and Covenant.
As she looked back toward the fountainhead of the Callowwail, Linden saw that the water was on fire.
Burning and blazing, a hot surge of power spread flames down the current. Its leading edge spat out fury like the open door of a furnace. On either side of the swift fire, the maidan rippled and flowed as though it were evaporating.
In the heart of the heat, Linden descried a dark figure swimming.
He struggled down the Callowwail as if he were beset by acid. His strokes were frantic--and growing weaker every moment. The flames tore at his flesh, rent his black essence. He appeared to be dissolving in the fiery current.
"Help him!" Vain's need snactched Linden to a shout. "They're killing him!"
The Haruchai reacted without hesitation. Their doubt of her did not hamper their gift for action. Springing forward, Ceer and Hergrom dove straight into the River and the crux of the flames.
For an instant, she feared that they would be consumed. But the fire did not touch them. It burned to the pitch of Vain's ebon being and left their flesh unharmed.
As the Harcuahi reached him, he threw his arms around their necks; and at once the erosion of his strength seemed to pause as if he drew sustenance from them. Gathering himself suddenly, he thrust them beneath the surface. With a concentrated effort, he cocked himself, braced his feet on their shoulders. From that base, he leaped out of the Callowwail.
The flames tried to follow; but now they ran off his sleek skin like water, fraying in the sunlight. He had escaped their direct grasp. And the sun poured its light into him like an aliment. Over all the maidan, the air was dim with preternatural twilight; but on Vain the sun shed its full strength, reversing the dissolution which the Elohim had wrought against him. Spreading his arms, he turned his black eyes upward and let the light restore him to himself.
The bells rang out keen loss, wild threats, but did no more damage.