If we're going to do this, we need to do it right, and it's too risky bringing in someone completely new, so...
"Sorry Avery," Nathan said with a shrug and a shake of his head. "Neither of us really like Micah, but I don't think it's a good idea to try this without four, and your friend won't know what's going on. If we're going to..." He mulled it over, trying to find the right word, "cure you, then we have to have Micah here for the ritual. That's our best option."
Alton glanced over at them with a sullen smile, and muttered softly that he would summon him while walking into the next room. Avery buried his face in his hands. "Can I at least call Wren and say my goodbyes? Just in case?" The teen looked up at Nathan desperately. "I don't like this. Micah's going to kill me on sight..."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that." Gabriel leaned against the wall, smiling cheerfully at them. "If the ritual works, he'll have no reason to."
Avery didn't seem to be comforted in any way by his words. "And what if it doesn't?"
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there."
"When did you get here?" Nathan asked.
The angel just shrugged and casually walked over to the teen offering his hand, but the teen wouldn't take it, resigned to sitting on the floor. Again, the angel shrugged, strolling next to Nathan instead and wrapping his arm around his shoulder. "I've been here the whole time, in the kitchen. Needless to say, Alton went into a bit of a frenzy with the research after we left him. It's a good thing he did."
"And now that we're all here," the shopkeeper said as he emerged from the room, four pillar candles in his arms, Micah close behind with his arms crossed, surly as ever. "Nathan, would you and Gabriel clear out the living room? Just move everything against the wall. Avery, if you could..."
"Can I still call my friend?" he asked again, not daring to look up and let Micah see his eyes. "Just... you know..."
"You can use the phone in the kitchen while we set up," Alton said with an understanding smile and motion in that direction. Avery quickly scuttled away to make his call while Nathan helped Gabriel move the coffee table and Micah rolled up the rug, revealing the wooden floor beneath. They could hear Avery's muffled conversation in the kitchen, but all Nathan could get from it was that he was scared. He couldn't understand a word of what he was saying in Chinese.
"He sounds terrified," he sighed sadly. Micah scoffed.
"He should be. If this ritual fails, then there is nothing that can be done but slay him." The angel hefted the rug up on his shoulder, looking on into the kitchen. "At least he is being discreet and not telling this friend about what is happening, although I do not like that he has told him..."
"You're being too harsh on the boy," Gabriel interrupted, to which Micah scoffed again and put the rug against the wall. Nathan looked at both of them.
"Am I the only one here who doesn't speak Chinese?"
"Shì de," Alton grumbled as he shooed him out of the way and kneeled on the floor, chalk in hand as he began drawing a large elaborate circle. Nathan could infer that meant yes.
By the time Avery was done his conversation and had returned to the living room, Alton was finished. The teen's eyes were red and his cheeks damp as Micah moved beside him and guided him to the circle. "Know that I do not want to kill you," he said to him. "I simply cannot allow a dangerous monster to live. Let us hope this ritual of Lu's works, for your sake."
Avery swallowed hard, watching as Alton added a few final marks to the circle. "What's this for anyway?" he asked.
"Well," Alton breathed, lighting the candles he had placed at four spots around the circle. "That's so that when we release Avarice, it doesn't get out and try to kill us."
Nathan stared at him. "Angels can die?"
"No," Gabriel clarified. "But that doesn't mean it won't try. And believe me, I have had much lesser beings try to kill me before. It isn't pleasant. For anyone."
"Consider feeling the pain of death without actually being able to die, and you may have some idea," Micah added.
Nathan thought that all was too much information and would have settled for a simple no.
Alton clapped his hands together and inspected his work. With a satisfied nod, he looked up at all of them. "Now for the hard part. I know prayers that need to be said, but we need to choose where we stand before we begin, and for the love of..." Micah looked at him curiously, but he rolled his eyes, "...me, I did not write down how that was determined. I know we each have to stand in front of a candle, but I don't know if there was some method to the selection."
"Fantastic," the man in white drawled. "You are not making this easy on any of us, are you? If I did not know better, I might believe you want this ritual to fail."
Alton shot him a glare, but then turned to Nathan. "Forgive me for this, but I know you've dabbled in the occult, so perhaps you might have a better idea of how this should be done."
Nathan's eyes widened and he pointed at himself. "Me? But... but I..." He looked at the four candles -- green, red, yellow, and blue -- and it occurred to him: one for each cardinal direction, one for each element. He bit his lip. "I don't even remember the associations!"
"Please," Alton looked at him pleadingly with those damn blue eyes. "You have a better shot at this than any of us, even me." Micah growled and muttered something under his breath, but what language he'd spoken was anyone's guess. Alton continued to stare at Nathan, begging. "Please?"
That's total bullshit; he has to know which direction is which element and who would best be suited to stand where, but I guess I have no choice. I don't like this all. I barely remember anything from my studies, and what happens if I choose wrong? Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck...
Who should I assign to stand where?