I turned back to the person before me. I didn’t know who he was, but honestly, I didn’t really care. His identity meant nothing to me. Alicia might not have been someone I had known for long, but she’d done more for me in a single day than anyone else–save Azazel–had done in a whole year.
“You made a mistake in coming here, Boy,” the devil said, a snarl on his face as he tried to pull his arm from my grip. I didn’t budge. “You should have run away when you had the chance.”
“I don’t run when someone important to me is in danger.”
That was the only thing I said before I reared my left fist back. A white magic circle appeared, and then light engulfed in hand. Divine energy radiated from my fist, a white miasma so powerful that the devil in front of me gagged as his eyes nearly bulged from their sockets.
I didn’t give him time to move. I slammed my fist into his face, listening to the resounding crunch! that echoed across empty park. The devil flew backwards, hitting the ground. His hands flew to his face as he wailed. Smoke rose from between his fingers. I watched as the devil screamed himself hoarse.
“Jacob,” I heard Alicia’s voice behind me. “That was…”
“I’ll explain later,” I said, forestalling her words. If I was going to lose her company this night, I’d rather it be done after she was safe. “For now, let me take care of this guy.”
I walked forward as the devil stood to his shaky feet. Blood dripped from his nose, black and reminiscent of oil. It was burnt. The divine energy had seeped into his skin, creating a network of small cracks reminiscent in appearance to a broken glass window.
With a roar, the devil tried rush at me. I held out my other hand, palm pointed at the devil, fingers splayed, and I pumped energy into it. The magic circle that coalesced in front of my hand was a prelude to the orb of pure darkness that sprang forth.
“What?!” the devil shouted right before I unleashed my attack. He created a barrier, a wall of bright blue flames, which my attack slammed against. The black orb sizzled and crackled, then sputtered before dying out.
That meant nothing.
I created another attack, this time, an orb of pure white light. It shot forward, crashing into the barrier. The devil screamed as he skidded backwards along the ground. The fire wall crackled as it struggled to protect the one who’d summoned it.
My attack eventually fizzled out as it ran out of energy, but I didn’t mind. My goal had been to push him away from Alicia. I didn’t want her getting caught up in what would come next.
I was about to walk toward the devil. Before I could take a step, something grabbed my leg. I looked down. It was Alicia. She was looking up at me, her half-lidded eyes filled with pain but also pleading and curious.
“W-why did you follow me?” she asked.
“Wouldn’t you do the same for someone you care about?”
“But you barely know me.”
“That doesn’t matter. You’re still important to me.”
“Why ask that question when you already know the answer?”
“This isn’t your fight.”
“I’m making it my fight.”
Alicia stared at me for a second longer. Her hand remained gripped to my leg. I could have pulled out of her grip, which was tenuous due to how little strength she had left, but I didn’t.
“You are more stubborn than I thought,” she said at last.
I shrugged. “I suppose I am.”
“Promise me you’ll be careful.”
“If that will make you let go.”
She sighed and, with what seemed like great reluctance, released her grip on me. I turned back around and was about to move again. I paused and looked back at Alicia, who lay on the ground, her clothing tattered.
“Alicia,” I called. She looked at me. “Will you still accept me after knowing what kind of monster I am?”
I didn’t give her a chance to answer, mostly because I was afraid of hearing it. Instead of sticking around, I walked toward the devil, who was standing several meters away, his hands still outstretched. His palms and fingers were burnt. The skin was peeling and blood seeped from the wounds. My attack might have been blocked, but he’d clearly suffered for it.
“What the hell was that?” the devil asked. “Your first attack was almost like the light powers of an angel, but your second attack was clearly demonic in nature! What the hell are you?!”
“I’m no one special, just a monster who has no place in this world.”
Taking a deep breath, I peeled away the numerous defenses that I had been using to keep my powers locked away. A sound not all that dissimilar to the shattering of glass echoed within my soul. Then, like a torrential flood, my carefully hidden energy poured from my body in overlapping waves. I felt the back of my shirt tear as pinions burst out of my back.
The devil screamed as the light burned him. He cried as the darkness blinded him. He stared at me in fear, his eyes so wide they might have fallen out of their sockets were they not attached by muscle.
I raised my hand.
“You… you’re a–”
He didn’t get a chance to finish. A wave of black and white energy exploded from a magic circle in front of me, two swirling vortexes that twisted around each other, tearing apart the ground in their wake. The devil disappeared as my attack mowed over him. It continued on, smashing against the barrier, shattering it before dispersing into innumerable light and dark particles.
The devil was gone. All that remained was a massive trench.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Mastering myself, I carefully resealed my power under a series of mental defenses. Fear coursed through me, but I turned around and walked back to Alicia. She was staring at me, or rather, her eyes were locked on to the two things jutting from my back.
My wings. On the left was a wing with feathers of pure white, spanning at least two meters when unfolded. The wing on my right was every bit my left wing’s opposite. Dark, leathery skin attached to a bony anatomical structure. Spikes jutted from the top of the arch, and the bottom had two sharp curves before ending in a point.
She continued to gaze at me in shock. It took a while for her to find her voice. “Y-you are…”
“Yes.” My smile was laced with sadness. “I am a Nephalem.”