Three Wishes: Part Nine
“What happened?” Sylkon heard Ellie gasp, and her claws tightened in his mane as if he was her last lifeline.
“I d-don’t know.” It was a relief to hear Ophir’s voice. Then a thought came to him.
“Kodovak?” he said hesitantly.
There was a thump and a loud “ow,” from Ellie.
“Sorry, I thought you were Sylkon,” Ko said. “I keep telling him not to call me Kodovak.”
Ophir shushed them with a hiss, and even though Sylkon couldn’t see her – or anything else for that matter – or tell where she was, he could sense her urgency. He shivered, noticing how even their voices seemed muffled in the overwhelming darkness.
Then suddenly a voice was floating over them, oozing from the blackness and wafting over them like a bad smell.
“I can sense you, little spies. You are trying to escape me.” The Master’s voice, now twice as horrible with disembodiment, clawed its way into Sylkon’s mind. “I’ll find you eventually. You can try to escape, but your escape route has been cut off.”
Sylkon chanced a single spark on his hoof and held it aloft. Ellie jerked backwards, taking some of his mane with her, but Ko moved forward, his eyes fixed firmly on the flickering flame.
Then there was a sharp hiss from Ellie, and they all followed her gaze to where Sylkon had burnt through the Maze wall. Now a pool of blackness filled the gap, and stretched the entire length of the wall. Sylkon moved closer to the middle of the pathway, pressing up against Ko. The Lupe’s eyes were wide in shock.
“What do we do?” he whispered.
“Hmm, yes. You follow me, you do. I know the way. Master thinks you are lost, but me knows you are still here, waiting. For me? I don’t know.” All four of them turned at the sound of the voice, but only two of them recognised the pet standing before them.
Ellie stepped forward and grasped the mutant Blumaroo by the wrist, but far from struggling, he hung limp in her grasp.
“Me knows the way,” he rasped.
“Why would you help us?” Sylkon narrowed his eyes. The Blumaroo gave him a blank look.
“Because he doesn’t like the Master any more than we do. He’s a slave.”
“A slave, yes. That’s what me is,” the Blumaroo agreed, nodding his head vigorously. “But me no likes Master. Master is cruel. Me will help you. Master will trap you in Maze for ever. But me no let that happen.” He shook his head vigorously this time. You must get out and stop War. Tell your Prince, yes?”
“We will,” Sylkon said, nodding gravely. “But for now, show us the way.”
“The way? The way, yes. Me shows you the way.” With that, the Blumaroo was off, bounding down through the darkness without hesitation. Sylkon transferred the flame on his hoof into his horn and it glowed in the tip, leaving his hooves free to canter.
He had no idea if they were going in the right direction, he couldn’t even tell which direction they were moving in. But anything was better than chancing the oozing blackness coating the Maze walls, and even worse, the Master himself.
Then his eyes widened as he saw a glint of light ahead, and he smiled slowly. It was daylight, and it was so good! Only a few more metres and they would be out. The Blumaroo skidded to a stop a metre away from the light, leaning backwards as if it was going to burn him.
“Me no go no further. Master can tell, yes. When you leave Master knows as well. So you must race fast and leave Woods. Go to Desert and talk to Prince. Master sends pets after you, yes? But you be gone before then, you will. Run. Fast.”
He jerked his paw forwards, and Sylkon charged forward without hesitation, drinking in the sunlight. His siblings tumbled out behind him, and they stumbled blindly into the trees. There was a cry of rage, and Sylkon chanced a look at the Maze. The inky blackness was soaking into the trees, leaving it as before, but the cry went on and on. He looked wildly at his siblings, and surprisingly Ko took the lead.
“I know which direction to go!” he shouted. “This way’s south.”
They followed him, hearts beating wildly.
Minutes later they heard the sounds of pursuit, plus dark growls and short, sharp barks. Ko’s eyes lit up in awe.
“Werelupes,” he whispered.
Ellie shivered and took a look behind her, just seeing a shadow flitting through the trees.
“Do we stay and fight?” she asked,
“No,” Sylkon growled from beside her. “Wait.”
He skidded to a halt and Ellie cursed him, digging her claws into the ground to slow down also. But then she stopped. And stared.
The ground before Sylkon was moving, and he was swaying slightly, perspiration gathering on his forehead at an alarming rate. The solid mass of dirt and rock rose like a wave, curving away from him, making it difficult to climb from the other side. It froze, at least as high as the maze, and stretching a hundred metres to left and right, maybe more. Ellie couldn’t see farther than that through the trees.
“That’ll slow them,” Sylkon panted, starting up a trot again.
“What was that? Ellie asked, shocked.
“Magic. One of my wishes. I can control elements.”
“So that’s how you got into the Maze...” Ellie said. “And that flame from before. I never really thought about it...” She looked at him sharply. “And what were you planning to do with these extraordinary powers?” she asked shrewdly.
He looked into the distance. “I honestly don’t know. I never really thought about it.”
He paused and they both heard the snarls of frustration from the trapped adversaries behind them.
“How far to the border?” Ellie called.
Ophir looked back. “A few hours at this pace. If we can manage it,” she added.
She was right; already Ellie could feel her muscles aching from running. She nudged Ko.
“Slow down the pace a bit,” she said.
He blinked once, then nodded and pulled back. At least now it was a manageable pace. But after a few hours? They would probably need to sleep for a few days in a row. Ellie gritted her teeth and kept going.
Ellie sighed in relief as something gold flashed between the trees in front of her. They had reached the desert at last! But there was still the Werelupes on their trail to worry about. And Sylkon. He had used his magic again three more times, and though it didn’t seem to tire him physically, it seemed to be mentally pushing him to the limits. He looked like his brain had just been scrambled by one of Sloth’s brainwashing machines.
He didn’t even seem to notice the glow of sand, or the tree that he nearly crashed into. It was only Ophir nudging him in the right direction that saved him.
A few more minutes and the trees were thinning. But now they could see their pursuers.
Ellie didn’t know how big Werelupes usually were, but for an average Lupe, they was massive. At least twice Ko’s size. The only consolation was that there was only three of them. It was an even match... sort of.
They had seen the Desert as well, and it seemed to add more energy to their paws, because they were closing swiftly again. Sylkon stopped, looking like he was about to use his magic again, but then he swayed and his legs folded neatly from underneath him.
The nearest Werelupe leered and changed course towards the crumpled figure, but Ellie was there first, and she whacked it firmly on the nose, sending it reeling backwards in shock and pain. Then she drove her claws into the brown furry stomach, and they both went down.
The only good thing about being small was that she could weave out of the Werelupe’s grasp as it tried to claw her. She skipped backwards and took in the situation.
Ophir was standing with her back to Sylkon’s slumped form, her horns lowered dangerously, while one Werelupe snarled and tried to manoeuvre around her. It could easily have swiped her away, but it had two bleeding pricks from her horn already, and wasn’t taking any chances. The other Werelupe was trying to pry Ko from its back, but the Desert Lupe clung on determinedly.
Ellie back into Sylkon as her opponent advanced. She felt the Uni shift and slowly he staggered to his hooves, the tip of his horn glowing with bright white light.
“Go away,” he snarled. “I’m stronger than your master.”
The largest Werelupe stared at him as Ko dropped off his, no her, back. She tipped her head, her eyes fearful at the glow. Then with a howl she called her mates with her and they bounded away.
Ellie turned to Sylkon and stared at it.
“What is that?” she asked.
He let the light flicker out. “I guess...” he began, but then his eyes rolled back into his head and he slumped over again.
“Light is an element,” Ophir finished off for him. “Otherwise there wouldn’t be light faeries.”
And dark faeries, said a voice in the back of her head. Darkness is an element as well. You better hope he doesn’t realise that.
She shivered and looked at the Lost Desert, her new home, waiting for her.
“I guess we’d better move on,” she said. Then she looked at Sylkon.
“Or maybe we should stay the night. I don’t fancy carrying him for any length of time.”
She was quite relieved when the others agreed with her.
To be continued...