Following the Wind: Part Seven
Also by noob
Elora, Illusen, and Fyora flew through the air, the frigid sea racing by below them as they headed to the Air Faerie Cloud. After Fyora had touched the top of the staff and proclaimed that she knew what to do, she had led them out of Vasai’s chambers without another word and taken to the sky, clearly headed straight for the home of the Air Faeries.
As they flew, Fyora clutched the staff in her hands, the old rusty metal that coated it had flaked away to reveal shining sliver below it after the girl had triggered the orb’s powers. Deep inside, Fyora still felt unsure of herself, but all the visions and old thoughts that had entered her when she picked up the staff assured her that what she was going to do now was the right thing.
“Fyora! We’re getting close!” Elora shouted over to her, causing her to start a little. “What do you want up to do when we get there?”
“Ah! Sorry! I forgot to tell you! I need to get to the tallest point! Your city has a castle, right?” Fyora asked the Air Faerie.
“Yeah, it does!” Elora called back, recalling the time she was lead into it and tried by her own council. “It’s right at the heart of the city, though, and there’s a spell over the whole place to prevent anyone from flying in! We’re gonna have to go through the front gates and fight our way to the castle!”
“What about the Earth Faeries?” Illusen asked Fyora. “Are they going to be on our side?”
“I don’t think so. Thestra already sent them out before it was revealed she was a traitor so there was nothing Vasai could do to call them back.”
“So it’s us three against a huge number of Faeries who are fighting amongst themselves?” Illusen asked, sighing quietly in frustration as the impossible situation they were facing became all too real.
“Pretty much,” Elora replied. “Let’s get this thing over and done with; this feud has lasted too long.”
The three Faeries fell silent as the silhouette of the floating city appeared in the distance, rapidly growing larger as they advanced. When they got close enough, they could see the gates that opened up into the city were sealed shut and in front of them stood one lone figure.
Her large bat wings were folded down against her body and her purplish hued skin glimmered in the early morning sun. A livid acidic green streak could be seen running through her hair, and as they neared they could also make out the poisonous smile that graced her lips.
“Jhudora,” Elora, Fyora, and Illusen all whispered at the same time.
The other two Faeries looked over at Illusen in surprise, and Elora asked. “You know who she is? How do you know her?”
“I’ve caught that particular Dark Faerie sabotaging some things... she set me up and nobody believed me when I tried to tell them that the Air Faeries weren’t out to get them,” Illusen said bitterly.
The three landed in unison and it was Elora who first spoke. “What are you doing out here and out of your disguise? Aren’t you supposed to be playing Atrik’s lackey?”
“How nice to see you again, you cowardly little sprite,” Jhudora laughed, her glowing eyes twinkling with glee. “Come to live out your far-fetched dreams of vengeance?”
“No, I’ve come to stop your far-fetched plans of destroying my element,” Elora snapped back, a deep frown etched into her face.
Jhudora’s smile faltered for a moment. “You’re going to save the people that sent you into exile? How very foolish.”
“It was you who convinced them to send me away, because any trace of friendship between elements could jeopardize the feeling of unrest you were trying to cause,” Elora said defensively, stepping towards Jhudora in anger.
“Don’t blame me for Atrik’s paranoia, or that of the rest of the faeries. They were already a fire of hate... all we Dark Faeries were was kindling,” Jhudora scoffed, her insolent smile biting into Elora and filling her with seething rage.
“Kindling that turned a flickering candle into an inferno!” Elora shouted, launching herself at the Dark Faerie.
With a cry, both Fyora and Illusen grabbed her arms and held her back. They pulled her away just in time, Jhudora’s acidic nails sweeping inches away from her stomach. Jhudora snarled in disappointment as Elora fought against the two Faeries restraining her.
“Elora! Stop it!” Illusen urged, leaning closer to her ear before whispering. “I’ll take Jhudora on; you need to get Fyora into that city and to the tallest tower in that castle... I can’t guide her like you can.”
Elora relaxed and turned to Fyora. “Come on, we have to go.”
The two broke out into a run, the soft cloud bouncing beneath their feet as they raced towards the gate. Jhudora spun around to strike at them, but her attack was deflected by a wall of leaves. Angrily she turned back to Illusen, who was standing there facing her with a resolute look on her face.
“Step aside, little fool. You’re no match for me,” Jhudora spat.
“I could take on a manipulative hag like you any day,” Illusen snapped back, watching Elora and Fyora reach the gate in safety from the corner of her eye.
“There’s an easy way to find out if that’s true,” Jhudora hissed, throwing herself at Illusen as she spoke.
Quickly Illusen feinted a dodge to the left, and when Jhudora tried to strike, she pulled back to the right and rammed her elbow hard into the Dark Faerie’s chest. Jhudora let out a gasp but managed to reach down and take the Earth Faerie into a vicious headlock, both of them toppling down onto the ground as Illusen struggled to get free.
Back at the gate, Elora watched in concern as her friend fought for her freedom from Jhudora’s grasp. Fyora tried to move forward again to help Illusen, but Elora raised her hand up and held her back, even though she too wanted to rush back there and aid her. Just as she was considering freeing her friend, Illusen cast another earth spell at the Dark Faerie and freed herself.
“We have to open the gate,” Elora told Fyora urgently. “If we don’t get through, then the risk she’s taking right now is pointless.”
“Okay... I think I can get it opened,” Fyora said, clutching her new staff tightly in her hand.
Fyora took a deep breath, closing her eyes and focusing on the power pulsating deep within the scepter. She raised her arms up high, a glowing light surrounding her and then shooting out towards the gate. The light began to arch and expand, flowing through the veins in the wood of the doors that blocked their way. Once it had spread, it grew brighter and brighter, until the wood split and burst underneath it.
Elora shielded her eyes from the blinding light, and when she looked again, a gaping hole stood where the gate had been. Elora grinned at Fyora, who was standing there blinking in shock at her handiwork.
“I-I just meant to push it open... I didn’t want to destroy it...” she mumbled.
“I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it over time,” Elora said reassuringly, rushing through the remains of gateway, Fyora running close behind her.
Illusen relaxed a little when she saw Elora and Fyora enter the city but instantly tensed up again when she looked back over towards the horizon. At first she thought it was cloud cover rolling in because it was so dense, but as it rolled in she realized that coming towards the cloud on all sides were five huge groups of Faeries.
“See, they’re not going to make it in time to play out whatever plan you had in mind,” Jhudora hissed in Illusen’s ear. “They’re already here and preparing to attack... this cloud will be rubble before noon.”
Illusen spun around and aimed a kick at Jhudora but the dark faerie caught it and knocked the Earth Faerie to the ground. Illusen placed her hands on the ground willing sprouts to shoot up out of the earth and entangle Jhudora like she had done to Thestrea. Only, nothing seemed to happen.
“Did you forget?” Jhudora leered. “You’re on a cloud, you can’t have something sprout out of the earth when you’re not anywhere near soil. Ha!”
Jhudora formed a sparking spewing orb of darkness laced with acidic green and advanced upon the Earth Faerie. She was about to bring it down upon Illusen’s head when she began to choke, the spell dissipating as he reached up to clutch at her throat.
“There may not be earth here,” Illusen said, smiling in satisfaction as a cloud of plant spores engulfed Jhudora, “but there’s plenty of air for these to travel through.”
The Dark Faerie couldn’t breathe and toppled down onto the ground into unconsciousness. With Jhudora incapacitated, Illusen walked over to stand before the ruins of the gate, watching with steely resolve as the armies of Faeries approached. Illusen deeply hoped that Fyora and Elora could make it to the castle and follow through with their plan on time, because it didn’t look like there was much of it left.
Elora and Fyora ran through the city, dodging attacks and catcalls from some of the residents as they headed straight towards the castle. Before long, they reached the castle steps and paused for a moment to catch their breath before they entered.
The doors to the castle were unlocked and swung open when they touched them, creaking on their old hinges. The hall they walked into was strangely quiet; the echoes of their footsteps bouncing off the ceiling and floor and a feeling of great unease washed over both of them.
Without warning the silence was broken by a huge thunderous crash and Elora and Fyora were thrown back against the walls and a huge gust of wind smashed down where they were standing moments before. Down the corridor, they could hear a new set of footsteps clicking, and when the dust and haze that was kicked up by the strike settled, they could see a figure standing before them.
“Lady Atrik,” Elora said, a new wave of bitterness welling up inside her. “We finally meet again.”
To be continued...