The smell of burnt flesh and blood filled the air around Avery, seeping into her nostrils. She kept her eyes shut tight against the piercing flood of bright light emanating from the open Gateway. A cackling laughter echoed throughout the clearing, travelling across Avery's skin like painful ice. She didn't need to open her eyes to know exactly who the laughter was coming from.
They had failed. The Protectors had failed. Avery had failed. Simone had won. She had killed over half of The Five, used their blood to open the Gateway to the Underworld, and now Malvenia, Draven's Demon mother, Queen of the Underworld, was standing in front of her, laughing over her escape from the Underworld and entrance into Avery's.
Through her closed eyelids Avery could tell that the blinding red glow from the Gateway had died down, and yet she was still unable to open her eyes. At first she couldn't understand why, but the uncontrollable shaking of her body let her know that it was due to fear. If she opened her eyes everything would be real and the most dangerous villain the Protectors had yet to meet would be standing in front of her.
Next to her, Avery could feel Draven begin to stir. Slowly she moved out her hand towards him and took hold of his hand, ignoring how rough his charred flesh felt on her skin. She squeezed his hand, gentle enough not to peel off any of his damaged skin, but hard enough to help speed up his rising.
"Avery." Draven moaned, his voice gravelly and his face still turned towards the ground.
Rocking on his arm lightly with her other hand, Avery breathed out in a panicked voice, "Draven."