~ ~ # Chapter 4 #~ ~
I watched my sister’s face carefully as she entered. Her expression was one of shock, mixed with anger and then sorrow.
Arryn seemed to brighten when Kaylessa whispered, “They’re alive, don’t worry.”
I stepped forward. “It was all my fault. I insisted that we all went, all three of us. Normally family members going together is discouraged because of sacrifices, but…” I winced. “I insisted. So we all did. About ten Waters were waiting for us almost as soon as we got to the battlefield. Shock and Kasula were there too. So, um. They…”
Arryn straightened and marched across the room to me, her face expressionless. I glanced at Kaylessa over my sister’s shoulder. She was scared. Probably about what Arryn would do to me.
My sister raised a hand and slapped me. I leaned back, shocked from the sting. I was lucky that she wasn’t wearing her gloves – it’d have hurt many times more.
She glared at me. “That was stupid of you. What were you even thinking? Besides, you obviously didn’t want to include me in that little adventure, did you? Or else you would wait, happily, y’know, like a good sister.”
I stumbled backwards, stung by not her hand but words. “W-w-wha…” Her eyes had anger, but not hatred, and they seemed scared, too.
“Now, I need to get back to my post. I assume you heard the alarm?”
“Y-y-yes… But I wanted to guard the healers.”
“You wanted to stay away from the fight. Got it. See you.” She turned away and stomped through the door, slamming it behind her.
Kaylessa cast one sympathetic glance at me then hurried out after my sister. I crept forward to listen.
My sister’s voice, “What, Kaylessa?” Bitter and angry.
The healer, “That wasn’t the reason I wanted to take you away. Lyun and Fermin did die, in fact, but we got them back. Lutuma insisted, even though her best friend would be sacrificed in the process. The others, who… You know… agreed.”
“What? Y-you mean, my parents did die… but lived because of the others?”
“W-why… Right, I need to get back.” Something in her voice changed, wobbling and cracking.
Softly, Kaylessa replied, “Be safe.”
So I stepped back to my chair, sat, buried my head in my hands, and waited.
Eventually, an uproar grew into existence, and Kaylessa busied herself by mixing some liquids and goopy things, most likely healing salves. Meanwhile, I sat moping in the corner.
Soon enough, she turned to me, “Could you put yourself to use?”
“I-I… I’ll go out.”
I pulled on my helmet and gloves, then made sure my sword was strapped to my side. I pushed the door open. The noise stopped almost immediately after I walked out, then resumed. I started to jog to the main door. All the guards positioned there were gone, most likely at the second door. Those stupids. I waited for the light footsteps on earth.
Sure enough, they approached. A light thump outside the door. I slammed the button by the door, and it swung shut, but not before I caught sight of a shocked-looking man that was crouched by the door. An alarm rang out.
“Warning. Alarm on Door One triggered. Intruders. Thank you, Rabana Balaka.”
I wasted no time in getting to the third door, where a similar crunching was outside the door. I pressed the button again. The door slammed shut, and another alarm came.
“Warning. Alarm on Door Three triggered. Intruders. Thank you, Rabana Balaka.”
I grinned, then moved to the fourth door. There were still guards there, so I ran to the fifth. A group of fifty people waited for me there. Hubark, a tall, thin Galaxy Elemental, or healer, turned to greet me.
“Thanks for those two doors. Everyone but four and us went to two, where the main forces attacked.”
I nodded, then ran to the second main door, hoping that I could find Arryn still alive. I nearly screamed when brown and white falcon wings fluttered in front of me, to land on my arm.
Whew, Skyara, you scared me for a second.
Hmm. Your sister is fighting alongside Saire just a turn away.
I rounded the corner just as the last enemy Earth Elemental scuttled outside, defeated.
Arryn turned to me, her eyes rage-filled and wild. “Nice time to show up.”
I flinched. “I came to help.”
“Well, we don’t need it. According to the alarms, you helped enough.” Lutuma spoke somewhat kinder than my sister.
I smiled faintly, but frowned when I noticed three water burn marks on my sister’s forehead, as well as a sword cut by her ear.
“Fighting without your helmet?”
“Nope. It got knocked off.” Her tone lightened slightly. “Lutuma and I were talking before the attack… and Kaylessa before the first alarm. I was thinking that since we need help, badly, with the enemy twice our size, we could search for other people on the planet to help us.”
I scoffed, “And crawl on our bellies, begging for help, if someone’s actually there? No way.”
Arryn’s eyes met mine, deadly serious. “It could be the only hope we have. I’m going to propose it to the General now.”
A grey wolf trotted up and nudged Arryn’s leg. Arryn’s eyes flashed. “Right, right. I’ll go to the healers first.” She seemed suddenly dazed.
My sister pushed past me, and I hesitated. She seemed weirder than usual. I lingered there for a second, then started off to follow her. The wolf was still padding by her side, and Skyara still perched on my arm.
It is a good idea, your sister has.
I think it’s terrible.
Listen to wisdom, especially that of others.
I took a turn away from Arryn’s path and started to run to my room.
I’ll help in a different way.
I stared at my reflection. I looked nothing like myself. I wore normal armor, but it didn’t help identify me. One glove on my right hand, on it, perched a falcon, Skyara. My hair, covered with red fabric. A sword hung at my side.
I ran black dye through my hair, tinting it darker.
No one will recognize me, I explained.
You are flying blind.
I’m doing this so we don’t have to ruin our pride in asking for help!
Pride is unneeded, sister-of-soul.
I pushed the door open, then stepped outside, glancing around. I was lucky – no one was around to see me. I jogged to the fifth door, whose guards had left. I nudged it open then snuck outside.
Wind brushed back my hair as I ran to the battlefield. Skyara had left my arm and taken to the sky, her now-black feathers contrasting against a grey sunlight, caused by the forever-raging storm. I let fire light in my hand as I ran, hurling it at a charred tree.
I exhaled as I drew closer to the war. I would help, and my sister Arryn wouldn’t need to go begging for it.