~ ~ # Chapter 2 #~ ~
I yawned as I followed the other three Fire Elementals towards the door. The Door. The door that led outside. And I was yawning.
Sham elbowed me and snorted. “You’ll wake up when you get some water on your head.”
I shuddered and ignored him, waiting for the alarm to buzz for us to leave. I shifted uncomfortably under the heavy armor, which was also weighted down by the addition of a shield.
My head vibrated as a screech ran into my ears. Olyrei, the only Water Elemental in our group, swung open the door, and hustled us all out so the alarm would stop.
I breathed in the scent of smoke and electricity. The storm clouds – not too far-off – shifted in the sky as lightning shot down.
The ground was barren and scorched, and soot, dust, and ashes floated past me on the wind. The air was dry, and I almost forgot to move my feet until I noticed the rest of the group already in front of me.
I pulled out my sword to gain some light, because it was dark from the clouds covering the three suns. I watched my step carefully. I had already nearly stepped in five puddles of water.
Lutuma pushed through everyone else and pulled me away. “Right, listen. Something you can never tell anyone about is about to happen. When it happens – and you’ll know when it does – put out your hand and kneel.”
Olyrei was beckoning us over. Lutuma hissed, “No time to talk about it now.” I followed her, confused, back to the others.
Lutuma and Olyrei both bent down to the ground, placing both their palms on the barren soil. A whisper of wind seemed to pass, and they shifted into a kneeling position. I glanced around and did the same. Everyone else seemed to be anticipating something. I was about to whisper, “What’s happening?” To the person next to me, but it occurred to me that it might not have been a good time to talk.
I soon knew what was happening. Footsteps pattered across the ground, growing louder. There was something about the steps that seemed lighter and softer… Like paws. I risked a glance up.
All of the other six had their heads bent. Wolves, two blacks, a cream, a brown, and a grey. I quickly looked back down, my head whirling with thoughts.
A light breeze entered my mind, along with a message. Welcome, Arryn Balaka. The voice was unrealistic. It sizzled like flames but was as smooth as a still pool of water.
I closed my eyes and held my hand out. The strange voice continued, Questions later. Saire will fight by your side in this coming battle, and for the ones to come. Do not speak of this to anyone.
I will not. I shivered unconsciously as another wolf spoke.
Arryn Balaka. I am Saire Shade-Stalker. The others are Astral, the white, Hiarah, grey. Xene, the brown, and the other black is Avir.
A cold, leathery muzzle pressed against my hand, sending another wave of shudders down my body. Saire continued, You must have questions.
I do… Why is this happening, how do you know my name, and when are we leaving?
Many people ask the first two questions, according to the others. But most do not ask the third. First, each warrior has their own help, in many different forms. I know your name from the thoughts that the two eldest sent to us. We are leaving soon, after the greetings have finished.
What are you?
Wolves, I’d think. But wolves of this world, made of the earth, flames, rivers, and winds.
I will be honored to fight alongside you. The thoughts came naturally, although I was honestly nervous… and had no idea what to say.
The cold touch on my hand left, and I opened my eyes, rising. Everyone was standing and getting ready to leave. Menasi, the Shadow Elemental beside me, was slowly stroking the grey wolf’s silky fur.
Without a word, they kept going. I was startled. Isn’t anyone going to act like that actually happened?
It’s routine for them. They all know the feeling, so they don’t need to chat about it.
Minutes later, I jumped to avoid a small pool of dark water. How much longer walking?
I looked up. I had been keeping my eyes on my feet to avoid any water burns. Platforms were raised high into the dark sky, and the scent of singed… something… Grew stronger. Arcs of water shot through the air, and thunder rumbled darkly above. Darkness darted around below the platforms, and Menasi marched off to join the shadows.
I nudged Lutuma. “What now?”
She looked at me, her eyes thoughtful for a moment, before they took on their normal stern glare.
“Defend. Menasi will teach you which Shadows are allies.”
I gulped and nodded, nervous. “I sort of wish Rabana were here…” I muttered under my breath, but I turned around and ran after Menasi.
I gasped, tired from the short walk that was weighed down from the armor, “I was told to help get enemy Shadows?”
She glanced at me, then faded into the darkness from underneath a platform. I tried to keep my eyes on her, but her voice popped up from behind me. “Look at my arm.” I spun around.
Her skin was darkened, and my eyes always were drawn away from her, as if she didn’t exist. I attempted to locate her arm, by a glittering black band that seemed more substantial than the rest of her. I reached forward and grasped at it with uncertainty, believing my hand would pass through her darkened skin as it touched. Instead, my fingers brushed momentarily against a warm yet wisp-like surface that felt not at all like skin.
Her shadowed eyes glittered. “Good. That band is somewhat redder on the enemy, so look out for that.”
Her dark, shifting form disappeared, and I searched in the shadows for red-black bands.
Olyrei came over, but was careful not to touch me. “It’s your time to fight. I’ll take over.”
“Okay, the enemy has those red-black–”
“I know. Go ahead.”
I turned, embarrassed. Saire was waiting for me. I’ll show you where to go.
I followed the black female wolf with green eyes until she stopped, just feet away from where we had been before. She leaned forward and pressed a small, pale beam of wood with her snout. Touch me. I tentatively laid a hand on her pelt.
I had a faint sense of earth on my skin until I was blinking ash out of my eyes. How…?
I am of the earth, water, fire, and air. I can move in all.
I flinched as I looked around.
Laughter surrounded me. “Ha! She can’t even walk! What a joke.”
I found myself already in the stalking position, my sword whipped out. My gaze circled them – Five of them. My heartbeat quickened and I took deep breaths.
“I bet it’s her first time out.”
I… am incredibly sorry, Arryn.
“Should we go easy? Give her a couple scars that’ll leave her crying for mercy?”
“Heh, and look at that puny wolf! Awoooo!”
All of them were standing upright, arrogant and careless. They circled me. I let my sword catch on fire, and I shifted quickly to the defensive position.
“Little fire girl! Over here!”
Someone’s sword seemed to be wrapped in a liquid… water. I held up my shield in their general direction and ducked as water came flying towards me. I lashed out, my blade hitting one of theirs. The flames on mine sizzled out. They’re all water!
Saire was circling me, eying the Water Elementals with apprehension, and ready to pounce. I bent over to block another blade and water splashed against my shield. Saire crouched, tensing. She growled and her tail whipped around as she leapt on one of them, bowling them over. I stopped another sword with a raised foot, and another with my shield.
I stopped, my eyes darting around. All but one were on the ground. Saire was watching them, making rounds to make sure they would stay down.
Pain struck my side, a side effect of a woman’s sword. Her black eyes glared with contempt down at me, most likely laughing at my weakness. I gasped and spun, knocking her back as I stumbled… into a puddle of water.
I screamed and rolled over, pain throbbing everywhere from the water and the impact of the hit. I twitched and struggled to rise, fighting the pain that burned me. Heat rushed under my skin as I let out a long, shuddering breath. I gulped down the dry air as my heart raced against the pain. It was over too fast. I had barely graduated… and I was going to die.
I was aware, slightly, of Saire bounding over and touching me with her cold muzzle. My breathing gradually became more steady as she calmed me.
She arched back her head and howled, a terrible war-horn born of wild animals. I gasped as the sound pierced my ears, but barely overtook the pounding of my heart.
Something wet touched my hand. I rolled over, face to the dark sky. I blinked, and closed my eyes.
No. I didn’t die. The five around me did. I could just faintly hear a groan from my left, as well as a low growling.
I could nearly feel the white hand that we believed was death touching me. Cold through the pounding pain. My blood fell onto the ground through my wounds, sizzling into the evaporating water.
I’m.. I’m going to die, Saire?
I will… I clenched my teeth. I will, won’t I?
No, you will not. Not on the first day out… Ugh! I knew I was a failure! Why did I take you…
I searched the blurred faces groggily with eyes I had not opened for ones I recognized. Sienna, my mother, my father.
(Okay so I really don’t like this chapter because… Yeah. It’s one of the many where I just put… too much fancy details and depth into actions and stuff. And it’s really fast paced. Even though what I just said doesn’t describe what I’m trying to say, I guess it works. I tried to fix it but it didn’t work. Well, that was chapter two.)
(Can you tell I am a perfectionist and am very critical of my own work?)[/fusion_text]