It's been a while since my so-called dabbling into the occult, but I think I've got this figured out...
The writer held his chin, looking at where Alton had already placed the candles. "Is that green one set at the north?" After the angel nodded, he felt more at ease. "Okay, good. You go stand there, Alton."
"Why?" Avery asked. "If you don't mind my curiosity."
"Not at all," Nathan assured him, picking up the blue candle and switching it with the yellow one across from it, careful not to step into the circle. "Hopefully, I'm remembering this correctly, but north is associated with the element of earth, which is associated with the color green, and since Alton is arguably the most down-to-earth person here, it was the only place it made sense for him to stand."
The shopkeeper chuckled, and Nathan ignored the knowing smirk that spread across the other man's lips.
"Gabriel, you stand over there," he continued. "By the blue candle." The other man giggled and bounced his way into position while Nathan explained for Avery. "West is the only one I remembered off the bat, because west and water start with the same letter. Blue's the obvious color."
"And why Gabriel?"
"It's really round-about, but I remember reading somewhere that Gabriel is associated with the moon, and the moon is associated with the water and oceans, and... yeah, just go with it."
"And where are you placing me?" Micah asked, crossing his arms.
"Oh, you were easy: you have a fiery temper, so you're at the red candle to the south." The other two laughed as he glared at him and stepped into place, the writer moving to the remaining yellow candle across from Gabriel. With a long, deep breath, Nathan nodded with satisfaction. "I think this is right."
"It'll have to do," Alton said as he held his arms out, urging them to all link hands. "Let us begin."
Avery whimpered, wringing his hands nervously. The three angels closed their eyes, all of them calm and waiting for Alton to start, but Nathan hesitated. Something in his gut told him that this was a bad idea, but there was no going back now. He closed his eyes.
"Consecro has candelas," he heard Alton's voice, his mind reeling to translate the few Latin words he recognized. "Nomine sacri animi, ut flammae tam lucide quam oculi caeli incendent..."
Candles. Name. Holy spirit. Flames. Eyes. To burn. That was all Nathan could pick out as he opened his eyes just slightly to see what was going on. Avery was quiet, but shivering as the chalk lines of the circle began to glow, shimmering with a dim, yellow light. Alton continued his incantation. The teen snapped his head towards each of the angels desperately, then suddenly whirled to face Nathan.
The writer's eyes widened and he gasped. "Oh my god..."
No sooner did the words escape him did Avery scream. The candles all went out at once as the light from the circle flared up in a brilliant flash, a burst of energy throwing them back. Micah was the first on his feet, his sword suddenly in hand as he watched the radiant swirls surrounding the teen. He shot his own glowing stare at Nathan with a sneer. "What did you do?!"
Before he could answer, the light dissipated, revealing and empty circle. Gabriel had moved behind Nathan, standing over him protectively while Alton moved beside Micah. The warrior angel's grip tightened on his weapon as he began scanning the room for Avery. "Where are you..."
"Michael!" Alton pushed him away as a figure leapt from the shadows with a low, guttural growl, grabbing onto his arm. He grimaced, fighting off a full scream as the limb slowly changed to gold. He dropped to his knees from the pain and the figure leapt again, just dodging Micah's sword as he swung at him in retaliation. The window shattered in front of them, and a deep croak was the last thing they heard before the thing jumped out. Avery was gone.
To Nathan's surprise, Micah didn't go immediately after him, kneeling beside Alton instead, touching his arm lightly as the deadly metallic sheen continued to creep up his arm. "Lumiel..." He looked up at Nathan, fear rather than anger in his eyes. "Do something..."
"I-I thought you could change it back," he said to Alton, shaking. "What the hell..."
"I can't anymore." The shopkeeper winced, the gold up to his shoulder now. "I gave my ability to do that to you. I told you the cost would be mine."
Nathan wasted little time after that information, reversing the change with a quick touch. The angels sighed in unison, and Micah stood again. He pointed at the writer, eyes narrowed.
"This is your fault. You interrupted the ritual, and it has failed. Now, there is nothing left to do but destroy Avarice." He stepped back, fading away. "Do not get in my way..."
Alton frowned and then stood, picking up the remnants of the botched spell. He didn't speak to Nathan as he passed, not even a thank you for healing his arm, and continued as though he were the only one there. Gabriel, however, wrapped his arms around him and gave him a gentle squeeze. "We tried. We have to leave things to Micah now..."
"No." It had all barely registered until then, the gravity of what had happened. Avery had completely changed into Avarice. What that meant, Nathan wasn't sure, but the realization that it was his fault... "No, Gabriel. I can't. I can't let Micah kill him. There... there has to be a way to fix this."
"Nathan." Alton stared at him sadly. "We failed. Avery is a monster now, and Micah has sworn to destroy him. We can't..."
"What? Stop him?" Nathan clenched his hands into fists. "Like hell we can't!"
"Nathan! He is the archangel Michael! How do you plan to stop him?"
The writer took a deep breath. "I'll find Avery first."
"And then what?" Alton rolled his eyes. "Change him back? None of us know how to do that, Nathan!"
"I have to try!"
A cold hand caressed his shoulder before Gabriel rested his chin there. "It's over, Nathan," he said quietly. "Go home."
They're... they're both giving up. I can't do that. I can't! I have to save Avery. Somehow. I don't know how yet, but I have to find him and stop Micah...
But... what if there's a reason they don't want me to? There's no risk to me; I'm immune to Avery's touch. But what if Avery isn't the one I have to worry about? What if it's Micah? Can... can Gabriel not protect me from him? Is that why he's telling me to go home?
Why does it seem like no matter what I choose, I lose? What should I do?