Eral landed tentatively on one arm while Elias worked at the puzzle. “And why are you poking at the thing that knocked out an entire city for thirty years?”
Elias snickered. “My spellsong woke everyone up and it kinda shot the spell back at it,” he said. “Mom predicted that and that’s why she sent us. This thing’s got a headache now and we’re gonna hit it while it’s down.”
“ ‘We’?” Eral echoed. “How’re we gonna do that?”
“Once I get the damn puzzle open,” Elias said, frowning at the thing as it still refused to open up after all his twisting and poking, “you’re gonna do that handy little dispel thingie you do.”
Eral scoffed. “I can’t just make that happen, y’know,” he pointed out. “It just kinda does whenever I need it to.”
Elias worked away at the puzzle, a pleasant smile on his face, and hummed a repeat of his earlier tune. “Get ready for your moment, then, buddy, I’m kicking this puzzle’s ass.”
Eral’s wings flared open and he threw Elias a betrayed look, then turned to look back at the puzzle. Indeed, the glass and the silver were nearly completely separated to either half of the sphere. Eral flitted off of his perch on Elias’ arm the second the last piece clicked into place.
He was tense as the hands big enough to snare him in a fist with ease closed around the sphere and pried it open with a metallic creak. Eral tried to call up his wayward fae ability, something he had never managed to really pin down since discovering he even had it. Elias had certainly teased him about it before. Now he was asking him to just use it like it was a snap of the fingers.
The sphere opened up and there was no more time to avoid it. If the thing in there really was bad for the city … Eral had to help. “Gods dammit, Elias,” he spat, flitting closer as the puzzle opened up.
Elias snickered. “You keep saying that, they might hear ya, and they’ll tell you the same stuff. It’s their Oracle that sent you along.”
Eral shot him a glare, and then landed on the edge of the opened sphere. Sitting inside the small space within was a white crystal, no longer than his arm. It pulsed with a pale glow, like the beating of a heart or the slow breath of someone asleep.
Eral stooped to place a hand on the thing, and waited. Like he anticipated, nothing much happened. The crystal kept up its steady glow and Eral didn’t feel any shift in the magic housed in it.
“Come on, buddy,” Elias encouraged. Eral rolled his eyes; he could picture the smirk on the man’s face without turning to look at him.
Still, to his credit, Elias was keeping still while Eral waited for some sign of what to do. It helped him to notice a faint hum right in the middle of the crystal as whatever intellect living within recovered from the shock. Everyone waking up had shocked it and broken its hold on the city, and now it had to move to protect itself.
When it tried to lash out at the two intruders, it hit a wall. Eral flinched, and then pushed back against the magic with surprise. “Oh, shit, I got it,” he blurted, placing his other hand on the crystal, too.
The ability that pushed back at the magic only ever reared its head when he needed it. It was just as unpredictable as Elias, and Eral thought ruefully that he wished one of them would sort that out. His palms and fingertips felt ice cold as he shut down the magic in the crystal bit by bit without any idea how he was doing it.
When the glowing from the crystal winked out entirely, Eral released a sigh and stood up straight. “I think that’s-”
He was interrupted when the hands under him shifted. One stayed cradled under the puzzle ball, but the other swept around to scoop Eral off the edge and lift him up. He was unceremoniously tipped onto the demigod’s shoulder, catching a glimpse of Elias’ grin as he snapped the puzzle ball shut again.
“I knew you had it in ya, buddy. I think I owe you a drink,” Elias cheered, beginning a jaunty stroll across the room.
Eral scrambled to find his balance, a frown on his face. “I think you owe me several.”