Jalen screamed. His face flushed white, then a bright crimson. He wrapped his hands around Nastasya’s arms, but she just stared down at him.
Flashes of white and black and yellow erupted across the landscape as their magic collided with each other, touching ground every so often. Two Order priests dropped out of the sky, dead on impact of the icy ground.
Jalen let out another roar, and a stinging burn started up Nastasya’s arm. Was this what he was feeling? Were his bones smoldering like a blacksmith’s iron?
“Let… go,” Jalen stammered through gritted teeth. A wince crossed his face, but his expression did not immediately relieve. Instead, the grimace lasted, like the pain that rested inside his bones was unending, like the pain and torture Order inflicted all across the Ice Lands.
“I told you to make them leave,” Nastasya said. Four wolves joined Nastasya by her side. “Now look what you’ve done to them…” She eyed the area where a half-dozen lifeless Order priest bodies lay motionless. “Why did you come here?”
Another wince caused Jalen to recoil for a moment before answering. “Order,” was all he managed to say before another wave of agony triggered over his face. Jalen gasped for air.
“Well,” Nastasya started, thinking. There was nothing left to do but complete what she had started out to do. If Order would continue to kill Chaos in its tracks, then the only thing she could do was inject Chaos back into the Primary Crystal, like her magic wanted all along. “Get up,” she commanded.
Jalen tried to stand, but something rolled behind his eyes and caused him to stop, recoiling for a moment. He took another long, steadying breath, and his skin seemed to gray with every attempt to quench the torment raging through his body. “What?” he asked through gritted teeth. “No,” he said a moment later with a little more persistence.
Nastasya smiled, recognizing the familiar black swirls in the whites of his Order eyes. “I think you will,” she said with a sneer. It was Chaos that controlled him now. It might take a while to fully grasp its power, but it would soon enough. “Whether you like it or not.”
Contented confidence washed over Nastasya like adrenaline surging through her body. She knew what was about to happen, even before it happened. With a simple insinuation, she would command Jalen, the righteous Order priest, to take her to the Primary Crystal. And, without fault, he would. It did not matter what bits of Order still scrounged inside his body—her
Chaos still controlled his mind. By touching her Chaos to his Order, Nastasya had infected him, had injected everything Chaos had into him, and it was with that Chaos that he would help her.
A light blinked on in her head. That was exactly what she needed to do to the Primary Crystal.
“And why…” Jalen pressed his teeth together hard, and his lips turned white like he was trying to fight something off—but he was losing miserably. A second later, his face relaxed, and he continued. “Why’s that?”
Nastasya cocked her head to the side and arched her back. “Because Chaos reigns.”