The rage surging across her skin was probably making her stupid, funny how she didn’t care. She was glad Jo was on watch. Jo would have struck someone by now. Lara took a step forward into the watery sunlight streaming in from the council room’s skylight. She threw her hand out and raked it to the side gesturing to the whole room. “We’ve lost too many, to walk away. Sisters, brothers, friends – and now you ask us to run? We are not losing our-”
Her father cut her off with a cold word. “Yes. We’re losing.”
“We will if we-”
Lara bit her lip to keep from screaming and took comfort in Callen’s quiet presence a step back and to her left. Across from her, her father continued. “We’re losing and if we don’t want to lose everything, the three of you are going to run. And hide. And stay hidden. No last ill considered attempts to avenge your losses on the enemy before you die-”
Lara turned to the man on her father’s left. “What did you tell him Azazael? Did you see us dead? Are you running scared?”
“LARA.” Her father glowered at her. Callen stirred to put a hand on her shoulder. Azazael lowered the cowl of his white robes and looked at Lara. “You’re the ones with the best chance.”
Even through her anger, Lara could see how weary the seer was. They were all weary. Weary was the inevitable side effect of fighting for your life for fifteen years. Weary meant you weren’t dead. Azazael stepped back and Lara’s father ran a hand over his face. Lara felt cold inside, her father looked… lost.
“Those of us here.” He gestured to the council members standing back from the confrontation, all of them powerful, all of them old. “We have no choice but to fight. It’s in our blood and we are too old to fight fate for more free will. But you three. You aren’t restricted. You’re still young enough in power to make your own choices. Azazael can’t see his own future, but he knows the three of you have a good chance of making it out. So yes, we are asking you to run from this battle. We are asking you to carry the entire weight of this war on your shoulders for years. We are asking you to watch us die. And then carry on living. Then one day, to start the fight again. And believe me, I would not ask this of you if I had any other choice.”
Lara drew closer to Callen. Silence hang heavy at her father’s pronouncement. It was the first time she’d heard him admit that they could not come back from this. That in this case, the dark seemed victorious.
“You let them win?” she asked. “Let them overturn everything? THEM?”
A long moment passed before Azazael spoke. “No. We’re asking you to let them think they have.” Azazael was not much older than her, but right now he looked ancient. “Dark is going to rise victorious, but as long as sparks of light exist, there is hope that the dark will not reign forever. The war is not over, even if it looks it, as long as you three live.”
Lara met Azazael’s eyes and she knew they had her. She and her friends would run.
“I’ll find Jo,” Callen said. He waited for her nod before leaving. Lara waited for his footsteps to fade and for the council members to leave the room before throwing herself at her father. He gathered her close and they embraced as the sun danced patterns across the floor. Lara cried hot tears and was mildly surprised that her father did as well. “You better make them pay.”
“You know I will baby girl.”
“I love you.”
“I love you.”
Lara stepped back from her father and did her best to commit his face to memory. She hugged him again. Then turned and left the council room as the sun faded from the sky. Time to run.