Shadowchild: Part Eight
"DAYNE!" The zephyrs tightened around me like ropes as
I bawled my friend's name. She'd been swept away by them into the now treacherous
WindRoads, and what was worse, she had no form of magic with which to protect
herself. Who knew where she could have gone? As I had first learned, the Roads
were made up of hundreds of passages; each leading to what Aly had called "other
worlds." I didn't know what that meant exactly, but I did know that if Dayne
got lost in one, I'd probably never find her. We had memorized the route to
Aly and Terzin's world, but since the Roads had suddenly become rampant, I doubted
Dayne would be able to manoeuvre her way there.
I thrashed about with more energy than before,
Dayne's disappearance setting my purpose aflame. I had to get through this,
I couldn't linger here in a blustery limbo for eternity and let Tyrin have his
victory: the Windstorm's death.
I knew what I had to do. The Storm had to have
some way of breaking through the Roads' disarray. Striving to concentrate, I
beckoned the Storm from its three-year slumber; as I had never once used it
since defeating Frey, save for my scuffle with Tyrin. "I need you now," I whispered,
and fought the pathways with my own wind element. My mind was filled with the
whirling threads snapping, being blown away from my body by shearing gusts that
encircled me. I could feel my magic doing its job, shrouding me in a protective
vortex of air. I felt tense for a moment, unsure whether my barrier would falter
or not, but it seemed to hold strong. The strands of Road breezes recoiled with
trepidation from me, dangling anxiously a short distance away instead.
Struggling to find my bearings, I finally became
aware of where I was along the pathway - there was still some distance to go
before I reached the other world, let alone located Dayne. Sweat broke out on
my skin but was torn away just as quickly by the roaring wind encircling me.
What if I never found her? What if I never got out?
The Storm's gales hugged me tighter, and I found
it in me to regain my calm. I reached out to the Roads with lightning and thunder
once more. Where is she…?
And suddenly I beheld a vision of Neopia, its
soil so steady and unmoving, containing every world in existence, whether it
was the Neopia Central I knew of, or some wild dimension that had never been
explored in any pet's memory. There were so many places Dayne could have drifted
off to, but I was determined to pinpoint where she had been lost. Maybe she
was only a hairsbreadth away from me, maybe she had been swept away to another
world - I had no way of knowing.
Unexpectedly, another aura became apparent to
me, but it didn't feel like Dayne… it was more fiery, but dulled at the same
time. I moved towards it and noticed a shape that seemed fixed to one wall of
the WindRoad tunnel, covered in vines forged from air, clutched in their suffocating
grasp. I sensed a strange familiarity about the aura and my fear only built
up further as I tore the winds apart with the Storm.
It was Aly. Her body was limp as though all her
energy had been completely drained from being held captive by the Roads for
so long. Reaching out, my arm still shielded by the Storm's protective whirlwind,
I pulled her towards me, away from the dangers the squall surrounding us offered.
Once she was within the cloaking breeze, I relaxed slightly, but only barely.
The presence of her aura told me that she was alive, but that didn't solve the
problem of Dayne. And now that I thought about it, Terzin must be here too.
On their way home the Roads must have still been in this untamed state. And
that meant that Aly had been drifting through this mess since yesterday! I grasped
her hands - cold and lifeless. "Aly!" I called. "Wake up!"
She wasn't budging. I needed her to show some
signs of life; if she was all right, then perhaps she could help me find the
others. And I simply wanted to see her alive and well to calm my own fearfully
"Aly!" I didn't know what I could do to revive
her. I tried to support her by gripping her shoulders, shaking them first gently
and then more firmly. This did nothing but cause her head to loll and tip backwards.
My strength was draining - holding up my barrier
was spending my strength. I tried to think of ways to conserve the Storm's use
enough to buy me time to seek out Dayne and Terzin, and the best I could come
up with was to make it smaller. Cradling Aly's body with one arm, I brought
her closer to me so that she wasn't taking up as much room. The safety of the
alcove shrunk slightly. It was a little snug, but I didn't care right now -
all that mattered was that we got out of the Roads to see another day.
Trying to concentrate again, I thought of my
two remaining companions, lost in the gales. I sensed Terzin's glowing aura
almost immediately - he and Aly must have become trapped in the same area.
I felt a short jolt of elation at the sound of
Aly's groggy voice. Her fingers weakly spread apart and then hesitantly closed
around my shoulders. I looked down at her, ineffably reassured at the sight
of her indigo eyes opening.
"Yeah, it's me."
"We're in the Roads."
Her eyes widened considerably. "Terzin! We were
coming home and then everything just… went bizarre. We were separated and the
wind was holding me down. I couldn't breathe and -" She stopped herself, and
I could tell that she didn't want to let on how scared she'd been. "Never mind."
"I think I might have found Terzin. Dayne and
I got separated too on our way here." I swallowed nervously. "I'm glad I found
"Yeah," she answered dismissively. Then, in a
whisper so hushed I had to strain my ears to distinguish her words; "Me too."
She then shifted her body so she was beside me
rather than in front of me. "I sense it too - his Light aura." Aly placed her
hand on the side of our shield and I suddenly felt the strain of using the Storm
ease up slightly. She had transferred some of her power into my efforts, which
was making things considerably easier for me.
Terzin soon came into view, or at least a cloud-patterned
shape swathed in the Roads' tendrils. Together, Storm fused with flame; we tore
apart his prison and then absorbed him into the security of our magical niche.
I had to expand the barrier to accommodate the Lupe's size, but it wasn't as
difficult with Aly's steady stream of energy assisting the Storm.
"See if you can wake him up," I told Aly. "If
he's got enough strength, he can help with this wall. When we find Dayne, I'll
have to make it bigger again." If we find her, I thought to myself worriedly.
"Right," muttered the Striped Zafara, who then
proceeded to poke Terzin in the side, and none too gently. Similar to how his
comrade had behaved previously, the Lupe didn't show any sign of coming to.
"Wake UP!" With this, Aly landed a smart rap
across his snout, which caused him to blink lazily, his glazed eyes taking in
his surroundings and company slowly.
"Aly? Are we still in the - oh, Sisslio. What's
"Dayne's lost in the Roads too," Aly tersely
explained. "Sisslio and her were passing through, but the same thing that happened
to us happened to them. Now help us keep this wall up."
Terzin struggled to his feet and brushed the
side of our protective shell with his tail, beginning to channel his own magic
in with Aly's and mine. "It might be a little trickier to find her," the light
mage remarked. "Magic would make her aura more vibrant, but since she doesn't
have any…" He trailed off momentarily. "If she's been weakened like we were,
the traces could be faint."
"But you guys were like that for half a day,"
I argued, trying to coax some hope into my voice. I'd already been fortunate
to find the two of them in the direct path to their world, but I couldn't guarantee
it would be the same story with Dayne.
Using the Storm, I propelled us through the Roads,
the lashing gusts driven back by the torrent of swirling air that surrounded
us. I wanted more than anything to find her again - no doubt she was confused
and disoriented, perhaps already unconscious from being smothered by the wild
Roads, or… I tried not to think about it, but maybe she was in an even worse
condition, considering her mundane aura.
"There!" Aly had suddenly called out. "I can
barely… I think it's her!" She indicated a narrow tunnel veering off the left
of the main stream we were in.
I strove to concentrate on both the Storm and
on picking up any trace of Dayne's presence. That tunnel was not one that led
to Aly and Terzin's home. At the edge of my senses, I thought I could pick up
some form of life - Dayne! It was definitely her. Aly had not been mistaken.
What little of her aura I was aware of was powerfully familiar: colourful, in
We sped towards the passage without hesitation,
and I reached out towards Dayne's tan shape, the winds sluggishly twining their
way about her body. I first extended the shield around myself, but it was a
valuable waste of energy. I managed to prod her shoulder with one hand. "Dayne!"
I cried, "We're here - get up!"
Her green eyes opened slightly, hooded by her
eyelashes. "Huh…?" She struggled to sit up, but her bindings seemed to realize
what she was doing, and tightened rapidly on her body. Before I had time to
blink, they had begun dragging her, slowly but surely, further into the depths
of the tunnel, further towards the doorway to another realm.
"No!" I lunged forward and seized her arm - as
I did so, my barrier fell. My heart pounding with fear for my friends' safety,
I commanded the Storm once more, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the
wall close around Terzin and Aly again, but I remained unprotected. I didn't
have the time to focus, and I couldn't regain my self-control. All I could do
was strive to drag Dayne back into the main path of the Roads before she was
whisked away to a world I knew nothing of.
The ropes of wind continued to haul her away
from me, but I fought them, tugging in the opposite direction.
"Sisslio - they won't let go of me!"
I suddenly realized something: the Windscythe
was still at my belt.
…But could it cut flexible breezes?
"I'll get you out," I assured her, and drew the
blade from my side.
Struggling against the gales, I brought down
my weapon, breaking the flow of the windy ropes. Dayne was released and pitched
forwards, my grasp on her arm still firm. The Roads were closing in around us,
and I was about to reclaim my shroud of wind when I felt a tugging on my tunic
and arms closing around my waist. Terzin and Aly dragged me back into our haven,
along with Dayne, and I gave them a brisk nod of thanks before turning my full
attention back to the barrier.
I gazed around, trying to figure out which direction
we should be headed it, and swiftly steered all of us along, the Roads cowering
in our wake.
Finally, the real world resurfaced and I let
my protective wall fade as my feet made contact with the ground. Suddenly aware
of the sweat prickling all over my body, I sank onto my knees, spent with the
constant use of the Storm's power.
"Is everyone okay?" I muttered.
"We should be asking you that," remarked Terzin
in response. "But I'm fine."
"Same," agreed Dayne, a little breathlessly,
and Aly nodded.
"It's because of Tyrin," I said after a pause.
"He must have done something to the Roads by passing through them." I shook
my head slightly, deciding to speak of the Roads later. "But I came here to
tell you guys something - it's about my fight with him yesterday."
"Well you can tell them when we get away from
here." Dayne waved a hand to indicate the invisible portal that linked this
world to the WindRoads, the ebbing fear in her voice clearly evident.
"Yeah," I agreed, and we wordlessly made our
way down the hill, leaving the writhing, windy corridors behind us.
To be continued...