The sword wasn’t just aimed at my heart. It was aimed at my magic.
A single word, nothing more than a thought, echoed in my head. I must have said it out loud, because it also echoed through the square.
The sword came to a halt.
The angel’s orange eyes blazed with hatred. His muscles strained as he tried to break through the magic suspending the sword over my chest. The tips of his wings grew longer, quivering with agitation and dripping orange acid that sizzled and blackened everything it landed on.
“Cursed be Amo,” he snarled, his voice loud and sharp as it hit the church’s steeple and bounced back.
Amo? “It’s Amy, nitwit. Amy Atwood. If you’re going to kill someone, at least get their name right.”
He could have lifted one massive foot and squashed me like an ant, but he seemed determined to spear me instead. Another surge of strength rocked the sword. Sparks flew from the crystal blade, reminding me of July 4th sparklers. The searing orange embers burned through the material of my red robe and branded my skin.
In response, the dark energy flooding my body rushed forward to meet his renewed attack. Once more, a single word entered my mind.
The light inside the sword flashed bright enough to blind me, and a heartbeat later, there was the sound of an implosion. The energy inside me quieted instantly and I peeked through my eyelashes to see nothing but destroyed buildings and a few sizzling piles of debris.
Going through the motion of heaving a deep sigh—satisfying, I must say, whether you actually draw oxygen or not—I sat up, propped my elbows on my knees and scrubbed a hand over my face. I kept an eye on the horizon where the fog was dense and cocked my head so I could listen closely.
Definitive silence met my ears. Nothing moved outside of the swirling fog. My taut muscles relaxed a fraction and I wondered what to do next.
Clap, clap, clap.
The sound, coming from behind me, broke the silence. I scrambled to my feet, whirling around to face whoever it was.
Zayfeer stood at the top of Immaculate Conception’s steps, a cigarette dangling from his lips as he clapped. He took it out and blew a smoke ring into the air. “That was some cool-ass shit there, Amo.”
Brushing dirt from my hands, I ignored the purposeful misuse of my name. “What are you doing in my dream?”
“Dream?” His laughter cut through the heavy air between us. “You think Michael is a dream? I don’t know what planet you’re from, but where I come from, he’s a freakin’ nightmare.”
A chill slipped over my skin and I gathered the robe closer. “Michael?” I glanced over my shoulder, some part of me still waiting for the chainsaw guy to appear. “As in the archangel Michael?”
“Real peach, ain’t he?”
Damn. “What is this place, Zayfeer? Why am I here?”
The church steps reversed themselves and became stairs once more. Zayfeer took another drag from his cigarette and sauntered down toward me.
“This?” He extended both hands and motioned at the deserted town, now decimated, thanks to Michael and his sword. “This is your purgatory.”