“I still don’t believe that Lilim is on our side,” Pixie said.
“She isn’t,” I said. “She isn’t good, and she isn’t evil. She just does whatever she feels like at the moment. I don’t think she’ll ever be on anyone’s side but her own.”
My name is Thorn. And I still have these strange memories popping up at random intervals. At least now I remembered who Lilim was. Well, a little. There was still a lot I couldn’t recall, but at least it was a start.
“Why is it that you can never remember these things when it’s important?” Pixie asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t even know why I forgot in the first place. Sometimes something I see’ll trigger a flashback, and sometimes I’ll just be talking to ya and say something weird. Ya know I can never remember anything if I try.”
Pixie sighed. “So your memories are just as sporadic as your powers. Wonderful.”
“You Gigaflamed the entire troop?!” Naga demanded. Now Lilim had stepped way out of line. There was no way she could talk herself out of this one. The little witch was cornered.
“How many times do I have to explain it to you, Naga?” Lilim asked, sounding bored. “It was the only way to get them down.”
“Really? Did you try anything else, Lilim?”
“The only other way would have been to pull them down, one by one. Had I tried that, I would’ve gotten stuck myself.”
Naga turned angrily to the Vanity who stood meekly off to the side. “Kyoko! Is that true?!” he shouted.
Kyoko looked up at him, an unreadable expression in her emerald eyes. Then she nodded. “It’s true, Master Naga. The more we struggled, the more we became stuck. Lilim greatly damaged our troop, but I believe it may have been the only way to free us.”
Naga barely suppressed his cry of rage. Once again, the little witch had slipped through his claws. “You are dismissed!” he shouted.
Lilim walked out at her own pace, but Kyoko’s exit was decidedly hurried. Good. She should be afraid. They should all be afraid.
A Durahan (Durahan/Durahan) walked in as soon as they had left. He kneeled respectfully as he addressed his master.
“Master Naga,” he began. “My Kelmadics (Durahan/Golem) are battle ready, as you requested. What would you have us do?”
Naga smiled. At least one thing was going right today.
Black clouds roiled angrily above us. It may as well have been night for how dark it was. It had begun to rain, then to pour. Every part of me was soaked. I was cold, wet, and generally having a miserable time. “Thorn, can you summon an umbrella?”
“If I could, don’t ya think I would of done it by now?” she replied. It figured. The one time it might actually have come in handy, and she can’t do it. “Where’s a good forest when ya need one?”
“Oh, be quiet.” The last thing I needed right now were her stupid questions.
“Do ya think the weather’s plotting against us?”
I ignored her and looked down at Big Blue. “Hey, Blue, how are you holding up?”
“I’m fine, Master Pixie,” Big Blue said.
“Oh, sure, ya don’t ask me,” Thorn said, smiling.
“You’re an annoying little brat who doesn’t know when to shut up,” I retorted.
“So? I’m soaked too, ya know.”
There was a sudden flash of lightning, then a gruff voice called out, “Kelmadics, charge!” A group of Durahans rushed towards us, swords upraised and ready to strike. I took to the air, but the rain beat down hard on my wings, forcing me to land.
Thorn just stood there and looked at the wave of Kelmadics charging towards us. “Ya’ll have to wait a minute,” she said. “We’re not done talking.”
The Kelmadics paused in mid-charge. I stared at Thorn in disbelief. She just smiled and shrugged.
“You imbeciles!” shouted the gruff voice. There was another flash of lightning, and I saw it was a purebred Durahan. “I told you to charge! You don’t stop charging unless I tell you to! Now, charge!” And the Kelmadics continued forward.
I couldn’t help it anymore. I burst out laughing. I hadn’t really expected that to work, but…
I ducked under a Kelmadics’ sword. Wake up, Thorn! You’re in the middle of a battle; this isn’t the time for stuff like that! “LIGHTNING!” Pixie shouted, and a Kelmadics went down. I knelt down and picked up his sword.
“Ya mind if I borrow this?” I asked. Being out cold, the baddie couldn’t reply. “Well, thanks! I said, and lifted the sword. It was surprisingly light, and had a good balance. It would do.
“She’s a fine blade, isn’t she?” Cecilia tossed her long red braid over her shoulder.
I studied the sword in my hand. It was a long rapier, made of a strange, bluish metal, honed to a killer edge. The blade caught the light, causing it to run like liquid flames along its edge. “Soulfire’s never let me down,” Cecilia continued. “But then, I know how to use her.”
“And so will Nemesis, once Zel teaches her,” Kyra said smoothly. She was sitting to the side, a young woman with dark skin and hair like burnished gold. Next to her sat Adrian, who was busy staring at his quarter stave, twirling it over and over in his palms.
“So, are you ready, Nemesis?” Zel asked. He stood in front of me, his own sword drawn and held at the ready.
Zel smirked. “Just remember, whatever you learn from me, you learn the hard way.”
Another Kelmadics charged me, and I leapt to the side, whipping the sword around hard in the process. The blow connected with his helmet, and he staggered sideways, bumping into one of his comrades. I stifled a giggle as they both fell into a tangled heap of armor, then ducked as a sword sliced through the air where my head had just been.
It was unsettling having to fight on the ground, but the battle seemed to be going well. Big Blue wasn’t hindered by the rain, and Thorn actually seemed to be doing something useful for a change. She slashed and parried, her skill with a sword rivaling that of the Kelmadics she was facing. She took down several as I watched, disarming one and pushing him into two others waiting to attack.
There was a sudden flash of lightning, and I saw the Durahan dashing towards me. I flapped my wings, trying to fly out of harm’s way. I was faster in the air.
But I had forgotten the rain. It hampered my flight, slowing me down by a fatal fraction of a second. I felt cold steel slice through my wings. Had I moved any slower, he would have impaled me.
I fell to the ground, searing agony pulsing through my wings. I glanced up to see the Durahan standing over me.
It was a wild shot. Durahan deflected it with his sword, sending the attack back at me. The ground exploded beneath me, and I was flung backwards into a Kelmadics’ Lost Disk.
I struggled to get up, but my body refused to respond. There was another flash of lightning, and I saw the Durahan approaching, his sword soaked in blood and rain.
Around us the Kelmadics continued to battle with Thorn and Big Blue, but it seemed in that moment that Durahan was the only other monster there. The world shrunk down to the black and merciless sky, the wet grass and the roots of the Lost Disk I lay against, and the Durahan, his orange eyes glowing inside his empty helm.
“So you’re Pixie of the Big Bad Four,” he sneered. “I’d heard so much about you, I really expected more of a challenge.”
“Go to hell,” I said. “LIGHTNING!” The attack didn’t even go near enough for him to deflect it.
“I’ll meet you there.” Durahan raised his sword… …then screamed and shriveled into a Lost Disk as Big Blue slammed into him.
It was over. The Kelmadics froze in shock at their leader’s scream. They bolted the moment they realized what had happened. The sword had disappeared from my hand during the battle, and I figured the Kelmadics I had “borrowed” it from had become a Lost Disk.
I walked over next to Big Blue, who was standing protectively over Pixie. There was another flash of lightning, and at first I didn’t believe what I saw.
“Pixie, what happened? Your wings…” I didn’t even want to complete that thought.
“My wings?” I asked. They felt like they were being immolated. Durahan had damaged them…they must look worse than I thought. I still didn’t have the strength to stand, so I gingerly reached back to touch them.
Where there should have been a full wing, there was only a jagged, bleeding stump.
Pixie’s eyes widened in shock as she realized. Big Blue reached down and gently lifted her up in his arms. “Master Pixie…” he began.
“Don’t talk to me!” she shouted. “ Don’t even try to comfort me! Wings don’t grow back!”
“Pixie…” I said.
“You don’t understand! How could you understand?! You’ve never known what it’s like to fly! Imagine, having all that freedom, then having it taken away from you!” She collapsed, sobbing into Big Blue’s arms.
That’s just wrong, I thought. I shouldn’t be here, wondering whether that’s rain or tears on Pixie’s face. Pixie’s supposed to be the strong one. I’m supposed to be the one to break down and cry. Suddenly she was silent. She had fainted.
Seeing her like that…I felt my power stir within me. I walked up to Big Blue.
“Here, Big Blue,” I said. “I can heal her.”
Big Blue lowered her enough so that I could reach, and I cautiously reached out and touched her, half expecting her to wake up and slap my hand away.
What was left of her wings began to glow with a faint green light. It slowly grew out from them, until the light formed a solid outline of her wings. There was a bright flash and the light disappeared, leaving behind two perfect, undamaged wings.
I fell to my knees, completely drained. Then I felt Big Blue’s hand around my waist, and I was lifted up and placed on his shoulder.
“Big Blue, I’m fine, I can walk,” I protested.
He walked off, pretending he didn’t hear me.
“Big Blue, really, I can walk.” I felt completely exhausted, but I didn’t want to…I was as bad as Pixie. I didn’t want to admit my weakness.
Pixie stirred in Big Blue’s arms. “Oh, just be quiet and enjoy the ride,” she grumbled.
I laughed. “Pixie! Are ya alright?”
“I’ll be okay,” she said. “Thanks.”
“It was nothing.”
Eventually, the storm broke and the sky lightened. Neither darkness nor light can ever be eternal.