As the others emerged from the rabbit hole, Rhys stood sentry scanning the forest for anything that may have tried to sneak up on them. He wasn't sure whether to be pleased or displeased when his preliminary searches came up with nothing. They were either truly alone, which the boy doubted. Or he'd not looked quite hard enough.
Nevertheless, he followed the group as Jill took the lead... and proceeded to lead them directly into the awaiting hands of the Black Rabbit's minions. The hellish and nigh demonic laughter surrounding him as each effeminate voice spoke. He grabbed onto a nearby tree branch as one of the voices wailed loud enough to nearly blow him away. Rhys's grip on his bow tightened as he noticed the humanoid shades making their way towards the group of humans. He was about to pull back on the string just as Dorm Mouse arrived to break the tension.
I can surely say that I've never been quite this relieved to see a mouse before.
He watched as the girl marched towards the silhouettes, comically oversized butcher knife in hand. For a moment he considered just how absurd it was that she'd had this weapon all along before Rhys remembered just where he was. In Wonderland sense and nonsense were the exact same thing.
Shaking himself from the momentary stupor, he offered a nod of appreciation to their saviour before taking off like the rest of the party.
Their relief however would be short lived as primal shadows promptly surrounded them. A myriad of strange and nearly alien looking creatures manifesting from the abyssal sludge that had blocked their path moments prior. Rhys wasted no time in drawing his bow and loosing an arrow in the direction of one of the shadowy primates... only for the arrow to have no effect whatsoever, harmlessly passing through the beasts form.
Why isn't it working!?
He internally exclaimed as he heard Adam voice a similar sentiment. Evidently they were all missing a piece of the puzzle, none of them had "awakened" yet as Jill had put it. How though, were they to awaken? He knew that Peter had instructed them how to use their Chronovokers, and yet it still seemed impossible! Was this it? Is this how he would die? Alone, and forgotten by all? Fallen into a coma to never wake again? Would he meet the same fates as the two boys before him?
No...No,no,no... The boy thought to himself, mind locked on that self-destructive train of thought. Panic threatening to take hold of his entire phyche. As he teeters on the edge of breaking Rhys watches Alice as she pulls out her own Chronovoker and unleashed a power he thought impossible. Light dancing all around her as she summoned what looked like a girl with a wolf coiled around her. Like nothing the apparition tore through their assailants and even Alice herself managed to slay a few of the beasts. Is that the potential they all held? The true reason they were brought to Wonderland? All around him the others began utilizing very similar powers, in mere moments a lion-headed man, a monk, and an almost demonic looking entity had joined their ranks. Could he truly hold such potential within?
"Hast thou made peace with oblivion?" a voice commanding inquired in his mind.
"Are ye content to hide and cower whilst others stand against darkness incarnate? Is thine burning resolve extinguished?"
M-My resolve? Rhys thought as he remembered the foul deeds of the Queen of Wonderland. The white hot flames of righteous fury stoked once more.
"Wilt thou stand by as the wicked subject the innocent to pain and suffering so that they may fulfill their nefarious ends? Even now I know what it is you desire most, proclaim it boy and let us forge our contract."
What he desired even now... his hatred for the tyrant fueling his anger,the pity he felt for the children brought to this nightmarish dreamscape. He could sum up what it is that he wanted with one word.
"Justice..." Rhys said, his fury permeating his normally reserved tone.
"It seems there is fight left in thine soul after all. So be it. Feed the flame of thine resolve, let it become a beacon of hope for the innocent, and the funeral pyre upon which the damned shall burn! Call upon mine strength and rise O avenger of the wronged!"
Wordlessly Rhys withdrew the Chronovoker from his pocket and opened the golden lid. Light coalesced in its center, and the clock face manifested itself on the ground, hands slowly spinning in opposing directions. Focusing on the Queen, the object of his hatred and the unjust fates of the two souls that had been lost on their way. He felt the flame grow and grow and grow and threaten to overwhelm him as the clocks hands spun faster and faster. The voice's words resonating within him, as the light and spinning came to its climax.
"PERSONA!" Rhys roared uncharacteristically as anger boiled over, and he shut the watches lid. The hands of the clock simultaneously stopped on 8 o'clock, as white hot flames began to burn all around him. The ivory inferno growing larger and stronger as it encompassed even him, completely obscuring Rhys from view. A pair of large heavenly wings extended outwards from the blaze and mightily beat once, casting the flaming form away from Rhys.
He turned and saw the being before him, a tall winged angelic figure roughly 9 feet tall, donning smoke grey metallic armor with ornate silver trim and hooded alabaster robes. Where one would expect a face the being had only darkness that was occupied by two sole motes of white flame, the same sort that currently raged around the angel. In his right hand lay a sword made of dark grey steel, in his left a spark of divine light.
"I am thou, Thou art I. From the sea of thy soul I cometh. I am Akrasiel, Arbiter of Heaven!" The angel proclaimed as he rose. In his presence Rhys felt, no he knew that he would be fine. The angel held his blade to heaven and announced once more. "This blade is thine will, thine resolve made manifest. By its edge shall the foul and wretched be slain, whilst the innocent shall find refuge under its steel. Now, shall we dispatch these demons?"
Rhys slowly rose to his feet, being knocked to the ground when the angel beat its colossal wings. For once, the usually stoic boy had a grin plastered across his face. In that instant, he'd forgotten his poised demeanor, for all that mattered was their survival."Very well... SMITE THEM, AKRASIEL!"
"SO SHALL IT BE DONE!" The angel bellowed as he brought his free hand over the blade and it began to glow with the same white energy that currently raged all around it. The sword glowing as if it were a beacon in the darkness. Without so much as another word,the angel swung the blade and a wave of light coursed off of it and rocketed towards one of the masked slimes. The pitiful creature had but moments before the intense light utterly eradicated its form. One of the primates sought to sneak in a strike on the seemingly vulnerable boy, but Rhys was quicker and sent an arrow straight through its skull as the corpse turned into naught but smoke. Rhys's face was alight with righteous fury, he refused to let these demons snuff out lives any longer.
"What are you all waiting for? Cast away your doubts and use the Chronovoker! He yelled towards those who had yet to awaken.