Oralech’s rough shove had Brighton stumbling, flailing his arms to regain his balance. It wasn’t as if Brighton was short, but Oralech was just extremely tall, and he had strength to match it. Erisa was watching from the steps of the Blackwagon, a look of shock on her face. Had Brighton been able to think about her expression, he might have thought she was scared.
Instead, he was trying to dodge a fist being thrown at him. Brighton bent down to avoid it, lunging forward in Oralech’s moment of weakness to shove him backwards. It set the taller man off balance, and from there it was an all-out brawl. It didn’t matter that the Rite had just ended, or they were both feeling the onset of Banishment Sickness, or even that they hadn’t even changed out of their robes. All that mattered was their anger.
The punches that Oralech swung were from his irritation at Brighton’s foolishness. Brighton’s swings were from anger that Oralech expected too much of him. All up, it was a recipe for disaster, and as a solid punch sent Brighton into some nearby rocks, it all seemed to be over.
“Shut up,” Oralech simply growled, looking down at Brighton with contempt. Brighton merely glared at him, watching as the man moved towards the Blackwagon with large steps. Erisa had already retreated inside, and Brighton could see her with the Beyonder Orb in hand, making light conversation. It seemed as if they were in no rush to leave, and Brighton was relieved as he let himself sink onto the slightly jagged rocks, exhausted.
It took time for Brighton to get back up, and it was mainly because his body refused to. The rocks that dug into him were painful, but he’d grown so used to it, he couldn’t feel them anymore. He could feel the fabric of the robes becoming hooked on the jagged edges of stone, and as he tried to heave himself back up, there was the unmistakable sound of clothes tearing.
“Damn,” he cursed softly, reaching behind to feel the damage. The tears weren’t huge, but he’d need to set aside some time for sewing them back together. It would depend on the stars and, having cast his eyes above, it did not seem they had that time. The next Rite would be tomorrow, not awfully far away from where they were now, but between resting, doing maintenance, and chores, there wouldn’t be time for it.
Without another word, he trudged back to the Wagon, slipping off his robes and placing them back on the hook. The night’s chill cut through his thin undershirt and boxers, but at this point he couldn’t muster the effort to care. Oralech was in the kitchen making himself something to eat, while Erisa had seemingly vanished, most likely holed up amid the Drive Imps. It was impossible for a person to get up there, but she always seemed to be able.
With them elsewhere, Brighton retreated to the sleeping quarters, snuggling up in his sheets. By morning this would be swept under the rug, and they would be well on their way to the next Rite, where the cycle would repeat itself. For now though, it was time to rest, and Brighton fell asleep long before Oralech or Erisa came to retire for the night.
Once again, chapter art done by Jyunkie on tumblr
The Stars burned up above, shining bright against the dark sky. It signaled the start of the Rites. As the Celestial Orb fell before the Nightwings, Brighton rushed forward, feeling the way his Aura separated from the others, settling around him in a small ring. Behind him, he heard Erisa call out some advice and he heeded it, ducking around the oncoming Savage and projecting his aura.
It cut right through them, sending them away from this plane of reality and into the void of Banishment. Oralech clapped his hands at the action, mildly impressed that Brighton had managed to outwit his opponent. Usually the man was too caught up in grabbing the Orb as soon as possible, but he was rather good when it came to passing, which at least made up for the fact he would be banished a second later. As the Orb was scooped up into Brighton’s hands, Oralech prepared himself for a pass, but instead watched as the Exile dashed around the Cur on the other team, heading straight for the fire.
“He’s gonna dunk it,” Erisa commented, crossing her arms and rocking back onto her heels. Oralech copied the action, watching expectantly for Brighton to plunge into the flame. Instead, he hurled the ball with all his strength, watching as it hit their Pyre and dimmed the flame.
Above them the Voice spoke, and Brighton cheered, dashing back to his side of the field while the Banished Savage returned spitting curses. The Nomad grinned at his team, and for once, they grinned in return. “Good job.” Oralech clapped a hand onto Brighton’s back, making him stumble slightly. “Keep it up.”
Brighton grinned, and as the Celestial Orb fell again, he passed control to Erisa, watching as she darted ahead and cleared the path. As he felt himself gain control over his limbs, he rushed forward and cleared the way for Oralech, letting him get up the field. The man had complained more than once about not getting to extinguish the Pyre at least once in a match, and both Brighton and Erisa were sick to death of it. Still, they bit their tongues, and let Oralech grasp the orb, dunking it into the flames and snuffing it fairly well.
“At least we won’t have to hear him complain this time,” Erisa commented as they walked back to their Pyre, much to Brighton’s amusement.
The flames of the opposing Triumvirate began to dim and flicker under the relentless assault of the Nightwings. Erisa had thrown the Orb into the flames a few times, and although her attacks had been weak due to the close proximity of the opposing Nomad and their aura, it had done something, chipping away at the flame.
There was only a mere glimmer of flame left when the Celestial Orb dropped from the sky again. Brighton felt control be transferred to him, and he ran forward, scooping the orb up. The Savage and Nomad rushed towards him, and he tossed the Orb back to Oralech who caught it. Brighton’s aura flared out, and both he and Oralech laughed as it banished the two Exiles, leaving only an Imp who knew better than to try and approach the wide aura that Brighton projected.
Oralech rounded the Imp and, rather cockily, threw the Celestial Orb to Brighton, just managing to regain his aura as the Imp began to Implode. It banished him, and with only a few seconds until the Exiles returned, the Pyre was wide open. “Go for it, Brighton!”
The Nomad nodded and dashed forward, ready to leap into the flames. Oralech stood behind him, watching as he darted towards the flame. There was something wrong though. As Brighton ran, Oralech saw a small flash of skin.
It all clicked too slowly.
Oralech had screamed for Brighton to stop, but the momentum had been too great. The Nomad leapt into the Pyre and the flames had engulfed him. An agonizing scream left his throat as the purifying flame washed over him, slipping through the tear in his Raiments from the fight with Oralech a day before. It traced over his skin with a heat so intense, Brighton couldn’t see, blinded with pain. It pulled him down into Banishment, and Oralech could only stare as the opposing Pyre flickered so gently, only just managing to cling onto life.
Both he and Erisa sprinted back to their starting positions, watching as the Celestial Orb dropped down to earth. The three of them had shared before that being Banished felt like being inside a cauldron of heat, with only their robes to keep the feeling away. It made them feel unpleasantly warm, but okay. If there was a tear in the clothing, Oralech could only imagine the pain Brighton was in, unable to find solace in the light of his Pyre.
Erisa was the one to lead the charge, darting forward and casting her Aura towards the Nomad who had run forward. It seemed as if their opposition had learned, Nomad leaping over the manifestation of wrongdoing and landing safely. They casted their aura forward, barely missing Erisa. Oralech felt himself gain control and he picked up the slack, banishing the Nomad and grasping the Orb. His movements were nowhere near as swift as he needed them to be as he tried to avoid the Savage’s Aura, tossing the Celestial Orb back to Erisa just as he was banished. She picked up the slack, dashing towards the opposing Pyre and flinging the orb. Their Imp jumped for it but missed, instead watching as the Orb sailed into the dying flame, snuffing it out.