Firejewel: Part Eight
It was a storm.
Storm: the combined Element. All six elements
of Neopia belonged to it.
Light and Fire became lightning.
Darkness and Water became clouds and rain.
Air became the sky and the wind.
And without Earth, there was nowhere for lightning
to strike, nor rain to fall.
It belonged to me. It was the power of the Windstorm,
something Frey thought I would never discover. And now it was attacking the
Firejewel, striving to make it undo its actions and bring Dayne back.
"You…wretch!" Frey hissed, and the Storm turned
the Firejewel's flame backwards, causing it to singe the other Zafara's newly
formed fur, turning the silky, colourless strands into curling, dry blackness,
like scorched grass. "Curse you!" she cried. "That my wish of Storm power came
alive in your mangy carcass! You're dead!" And with that she sprang at me, clawing
and biting in a frenzy of anger.
I fought to keep my Storm building, the thunder
rolling, the lightning striking. My energy clashed with hers as we struggled
on the ground, two White Zafaras fighting to destroy each other. Outwardly,
I thrashed violently, doing whatever I could to survive. Inwardly, I was concentrating
intensely, commanding the white fur to retract to Island, the dark eyes to become
a friendly green, and Frey's spirit to be driven back into the depths of her
field's earth, trapped once more below her war sword, Sirocco.
"Break!" I grunted, "Go away!"
"Give it up, Windstorm!" she retorted, landing
a punch on the side of my face. "You can't win!"
That was it. I was sick of her insults, I was
sick of her toying with my friends' lives in order to get me to fight. I unleashed
my inner thunder.
The force of the Storm flung Frey off of me.
She slammed into the rock Dayne had been bound to moments ago. I noticed that
the moment I let loose the power, I was immediately fatigued. I felt cold beads
of sweat on my face from the effort of using Windstorm magic. Struggling to
stand, I wiped at the stream of blood trickling from the corner of my mouth
and regarded my enemy. Seeing her panting after her impact with the stone made
me remember my fight with her last year, when she had done something similar
to me. After taking our combat into an underwater world of her creation, Frey
had propelled me into a cliff side with a blast of magic, and I'd almost gone
unconscious. That I was more capable of facing her down than ever astounded
I then noticed the large blotch of black, charred
fur that marred her chest and shoulders. The Firejewel had thin wisps of smoke
wafting up from it and was cracked and broken. Had I won?
Frey sat up, glaring at me with pure hatred
in her eyes. "You may have mastered the element known by few," she gritted through
teeth clenched in rage, "But you have not, by any means, broken me. I will never
stop haunting you, nor cease hunting you. In order for me to receive life, I
must slay you, and I will. Take your friend's feeble body back - she means nothing
to me anymore. The one thing that can break my link to the Firejewel is Storm
magic, but do not let that reassure you! I have other ways of killing you, and
I always will." She then turned her attention to the League around her, all
of who gazed at the scene of their leader's temporary defeat with bewilderment,
terror, and fury. "My steadfast comrades, take the life of any intruders but
the Windstorm's, for he is my target alone. I will be back among you again."
Aillara stepped forward, looking absolutely
distraught. "When?" she whispered.
Frey looked from the Eyrie to me, a sly grin
plastered on her face. "Soon."
With that, she tilted her head back and closed
her eyes. As if being cleansed by water, the pale shade of her fur was washed
away by the imposing tan of Dayne's familiar pelt. The whole room seemed to
sigh and loose much of its tension with the departure of Frey KeenBlade.
I almost collapsed, partly from relief and partly
from the sudden tiredness that had overcome me with the use of the combined
Storm Element. But I didn't, for the simple reason that I had to make sure that
Dayne was alive and well. Frey had referred to her as a "feeble body", which
had led me to believe that she was possibly dead. I raced forward, then fell
to my knees beside her. "Dayne," I said, but there was no reaction. Carefully,
I raised her slightly so she wasn't leaning against the boulder. Gently, I cradled
her head in my hands, then moved my fingers to her throat to feel for a pulse.
My heart slowed its swift, worried beats to a more natural rhythm as I discovered
the sign of life I had been seeking. Quickly, still being gentle, I eased her
unconscious form into my embrace. "Thank Fyora," I whispered gratefully. She
was all right.
It was then that I glanced around and saw the
rest of the League splitting up into two groups. One, led by Aillara, was advancing
towards me and Dayne, while the other was heading up a staircase cut into the
stone of the chamber's walls. Their actions perplexed me for a moment, but then
I realized their motives. Frey's plan to return by the Firejewel had failed,
and they undoubtedly had gained a thirst for revenge against me. But seeing
as Frey had ordered them not to kill me, they were ready to take it out on my
companions, who they had been given permission to slay. The ones headed upwards
were going to take care of Aly and Terzin, who were at the top of the canyon,
and Aillara's group was ready to attack Dayne.
I planted my feet firmly on the ground and drew
the Windscythe from the scabbard at my side. I was exhausted from wielding the
force of the Storm, I wanted to lie down in my own bed and take a weeklong nap
- but I couldn't. My enemies were encircling me, and it wouldn't have mattered
if I was ready to die. I had people relying on me and I was going to protect
The silver blade gleamed before me, and I knew
that I was going to give this my all. Without so much as a war cry, I urged
my drained and worn-out body onwards, slashing back and forth with my weapon,
cutting down as many foes as I could, and suddenly I felt some new source of
energy tapping into me. It was the sort of new vigour brought on by the heat
of battle. It was as if my eyes suddenly became clearer, my hearing more attuned.
I was more in touch with my surroundings than ever before, and now was the time
to take action with it.
I charged through the mob, sensing their every
move. Some of them even staggered backward in shock at my newfound strength.
I retreated a few paces until I was standing next to Dayne again. I nudged the
Island Zafara with my foot, and heard her grumble quietly as she slowly came
to. "Dayne," I muttered through gritted teeth, "You awake?"
"Mm-hm," she managed. "I'm okay."
"That's great. Will you be able to run if I
"Why? Are we in trouble?"
"Yes. Answer the question."
"I…I think I can."
"Good. Get up, because we've gotta sprint."
One Draik made a lunge towards me, but I landed
a slash across his snout, causing him to hesitate, whimpering in pain. Beside
me, Dayne was taking her time getting on her feet, but I couldn't wait for her.
This whole situation was going to determine whether she lived or died, but I
wasn't about to tell her that. Transferring my sword into one hand, I used my
free limb to grab Dayne's upper arm and get her standing. Without a moment's
pause, I darted through the throng, swinging the Windscythe in wild arcs, carving
a way through to the staircase so many League associates had ran up moments
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity,
my foot made contact with the first stone step. Hauling Dayne along, I careered
up the passageway, desperate to reach Aly and Terzin before they plunged to
The staircase was long, and the cliff was high.
I had little hope of getting there in time, but that didn't mean I wasn't going
to try. I pushed my leg muscles to the limit, running on and on, practically
carrying Dayne, since she couldn't keep up. I had to get there - now! The thought
of Terzin and Aly flailing as they fell through space, awaiting only fatal contact
with the canyon floor sent a chill of anxiety through me. I couldn't lose them!
It was then that a sensation flooded over me,
and I felt both weaker and stronger at once. Everything turned into a paradox.
My legs were moving as if through jelly, but I felt like I was moving faster
than time. Dayne's weight was a burden, but she was as light as a feather. The
stairs continued up, up, up, but ascending them was as easy as gliding downhill.
I was at the top - I wasn't. I'd already escaped - but I hadn't.
Lightning struck at my senses. Storm forces.
And I was there.
I had no time to consider this strange magic
- how it had allowed me to reach the top of the gorge in an impossibly short
time. I had some rescuing to do.
My senses rapidly ingested my surroundings.
I was near the edge of the gorge the forest we'd camped in was on, and Terzin
and Aly were standing near the edge, wrists bound. The rest of the League was
advancing toward them, thirsting for their demise.
I let go of Dayne, who was still shaky from
her horrendous experience with the shattered Firejewel. She steadied herself
against a nearby tree and gazed upon the scene with fear in her eyes.
Well, if I had anything to do with it, this
would be the last fearful thing she'd have to look at for as long as time allowed.
I charged, the Windscythe swinging once more, its blade becoming a silver blur.
Those I didn't cut down, I shoved over the edge. It was cruel, and I felt like
a murderer, but there was nothing else I could do. Dayne and I were exhausted,
and if we had to run again, we wouldn't make it. I had to make sure that there
would be no pursuers.
"Sisslio!" cried Aly suddenly, amidst the melee,
"Over here! Cut our ropes!"
I surged forward, streaking through my adversaries,
and finally, I reached my friends. Hastily, I sliced through their bonds, freeing
them to fight.
"Good to see you alive," remarked Terzin.
"Same to you," I responded, then hurled myself
back into the mass of opponents.
Joined by Aly's dagger and Terzin's teeth and
claws, the number of League members diminished much more swiftly. I wielded
my sword, inflicting gashes on any Neopet who tried to stop me. Out of the corner
of my eye I saw Aly whirling back and forth in her own deadly dance, the point
of her dagger weaving a net of steel in the air. Terzin battled like a true
Lupe, howling madly as he sprang at a Shoyru, tearing at flesh with jagged fangs.
The chaos raged on, but eventually we began
to tire and the opposing force began to fall. Finally, it was over.
I fell to the ground, completely worn out from
injuries received during the struggle, as well as from previously manipulating
It was the Storm that had saved us. I didn't
know what had activated it, but whatever it was, it had won us the fight for
Aly strode over to me, followed by Terzin. "Hey,"
she said worriedly, "are you okay?"
"Fine," I managed, even if it wasn't completely
true. "I'm okay. What about you? What did Aillara do to the two of you?" I paused
momentarily. "She's a traitor."
"Yeah, we figured that out the hard way. Tell
'im what she did Terzin."
The Lupe stopped licking a wound on his front
leg and related the tale. "We didn't even get on her back. She just walked right
up to us once she came back from taking you guys down and told us that it was
all over and we weren't going to live to see the League's HQ. A bunch of other
flying pets came at us from the ravine until we were surrounded. We tried to
fight back, but then they tied us up and gave us a couple random beatings. We
didn't know what was going on, and still don't know what went on with you. All
they told us was that Frey was coming back, so we thought they'd killed you."
"They almost did," I answered. I decided that
I'd tell them about it later. I wasn't ready to relive those terrifying memories
so soon. There was only one thing I had to ask. "Have you heard of a combined
Element? The Storm?"
I'd expected Terzin to give me one of his straightforward,
informative answers, as usual, but he merely shook his head. "No. Why?"
"The only reason Dayne and I are alive is because
I triggered some sort of power that Frey knew about. It sounded like she'd intended
the Windstorm to have it, but never really use it. She called it the combined
element, and I sensed that its name was Storm. It sort of happened on its own,
like an involuntary action. I don't know what made it work, but it's a good
thing it did."
"I haven't heard of it either," said Aly, sitting
down. "Maybe it was something Frey kept to herself."
I sighed. "I guess so." I glanced over at Dayne,
who looked ready to fall asleep. I managed to get up - there was still something
I had to do. Once I neared her, I asked, "You sure you're okay?"
"Uh-huh," she answered. "Just tired. I was really
scared." She then fixed me with her emerald gaze, which I was so glad to see
again. "Thanks so much for saving me, Sisslio. I would have died. You're so
brave to face her down all the time. I couldn't even take Frey once, and she's
almost won against you twice."
I smiled. "Thanks." I then leaned over her and
lifted the hemp cord over her head, the broken amber crystal dangling from it
like a shard of glass. Standing up, I strode over to the edge of the canyon,
leaping onto one of the large stones that bordered it - the same place where
I had watched the sunrise only this morning, but that moment seemed so distant,
as though that had occurred years ago.
I raised the Firejewel, the noon sunlight piercing
through it as though through a prism. It was so small, so beautiful and harmless-looking,
but it had almost cost my best friend her life. I brought my arm back and whipped
it forward, letting the cursed gem fall into the abyss it had come from.
I stood there for another short moment, watching
it fall into the shadows.
Then, I turned around and hopped down from the
boulder, striding back towards the camp.
"Are we leaving?" Dayne asked.
"Yeah," I said. "Get in the cage."
"But I'm not possessed anymore."
"But you're hurt. You can relax on the journey
She managed a giggle. "Sure," she agreed.
We packed up our belongings, and Terzin volunteered
to pull the cage. Aly followed, carrying the almost-empty bags of food.
I followed at a distance.
The whole way to the flatlands I was continually
looking over my shoulder, thinking back to the foreboding chasm I had almost
died in. Frey had told me that she was coming back, and I knew that she'd keep
her word. I was almost expecting another nightmare tonight. Being the Windstorm
was by far the most difficult thing in my life right now, but it was my fate,
and therefore something I'd never be able to escape.
But for now, being alive was enough.
"Hey," called Aly from up ahead, "are you going
to lag behind the whole way?"
I jogged to catch up. "I'm coming," I assured
her. "Let's go home."