Took me longer to get to the point where I could get the words written today, but I did it! And here they are…
Seven – Part 4
© 2018 Patrick Hester – All Rights Reserved
Sucking in a breath, Seven groaned. Breathing hurt. Opening her eyes, the world went from black to blurry gray. Rolling to her side revealed a shooting pain in her back, ribs and left arm. Still, she managed to get to her knees and spit out a mouthful of blood. It splattered red against the brown dirt.
“At least I can see again,” she muttered.
She took several quick, wheezing breaths and noted the lack of sound other than her own breathing. No insects, birds or other creatures you’d expect to find in a forested area. If her horse had been lamed it would make a sound, a cry or whinny in pain. There was none. Nor were there any sounds from Julian’s horse, either in fright or pain. And no sounds of battle she would’ve expected.
Scanning her immediate area, she found her horse laying dead on the ground, neck bent in an impossibly wrong direction. Her weapons were a few feet away from the horse. Beyond that, Shadows danced with Light.
Julian was surrounded by at least four distinct Shadows, each moving with a speed she could barely track. They seemed amorphous in shape, shifting and undulating like oil in a pan and constantly striking at her brother who blurred with speed all his own. In the few scant weeks they’d spent together, she’d never seen him use this much magic before. And it had to be magic. She’d also never seen Julian move with such precision or grace.
Where the Shadows struck, Julian’s hands and feet shot out to block, a greenish haze that seemed to cling to him sparking with the contact. The way the Shadows reacted, that haze caused them pain, which was good. They’d killed a perfectly good horse and she wanted them to feel pain for that.
Standing took some effort, as did leaning over to retrieve her swords. Her left arm felt numb but she didn’t have time to worry about it, not with her brother in danger.
At that thought, a wisp of wind touched her ear and she heard the husky whisper of Julian’s voice say, “Stay back. You cannot fight them.”
So, she thought. He could bloody well whisper when he bloody well wanted to!
Lightning of the same greenish color of the haze surrounding Julian, lashed out from his fingers. Everywhere those arcs touched a Shadow, it froze in a silent shriek of agony, pieces flaking off like ash.
Seven grinned wide in pride. Her little brother had power, she knew, but never before had she seem him wield it in battle. Gone was the awkward boy turned man who complained about riding a horse, or gathering wood for the campfire, replaced by a warrior in his own right. Her chest swelled with that pride.
One of the shadows split off from the rest, shooting towards her.
Julian screamed, the words deep and clear, “Sytyttää Käännös!”
The power of his voice slapped her across the face. The green haze coalesced into a bloom of bright light that burned at her eyes, forcing her to close them and look away. Then a wind unlike anything she had ever experienced before, slapped her aside like an insignificant bug. She swirled and spun away to land this time in soft grass a good dozen meters away. Heat prickled her skin. The air held the scent of burnt hair and woodsmoke. She felt dry to her bones, as if she could drink more water than any river contained.
Moving this time was far more difficult and deliberate. Though sure nothing new had broken, she didn’t want to push her luck. Trying to use the swords in her hands as leverage caused her to wince in pain. The leather grips had melted somewhat, sticking to the skin of her palms. Releasing them was neither easy nor pleasant. She cradled wounded hands to her breast while scrabbling to her feet.
The trees closest to her were simply gone. Tendrils of smoke curled up from the blackened ground. The body of her horse was gone, as were the bodies of the dead she’d seen before. It was as if there had been a perfectly controlled forest fire of extreme heat just long enough to turn everything to ash without moving onto the rest of the forest.
And in the center of it all stood Julian, arms outstretched, head back and free of his cowl. The tattoos on his skin glowed green and orange, fading even as she stared. When they appeared normal again, he looked at her watching him, blinking for a moment.
She nodded and smiled and he seemed to appreciate the gesture.
Pulling his hood up again, Julian adjusted his robe and flashed his fingers at her. They are no more.
“Well done, little brother,” Seven croaked, throat dry as a desert. “Well done.”
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