teh 1337est n00zpaper Circulation: 142,874,434 Issue: 200 | 22nd day of Swimming, Y7
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series
 

EndingArrow: Part Five


by sara_mossflower

--------

The League's Return

Everything had happened so quickly. I could scarcely believe what had just taken place. Terzin's mother had been seriously wounded and Aillara was upon me again.

      Behind the Eyrie were the shapes of other League members. How had they found me? I brandished the Windscythe threateningly. "What are you doing here?" I demanded.

      Aillara chuckled darkly. "What do you think? To find you and bring our Mistress back, of course. Foolish Windstorm, I thought you knew that. You must be more dense then I first imagined."

      I gritted my teeth in frustration, glancing from my opponents to the collapsed Lupess to the curtain behind me. What would they do if I called for my friends? I didn't want them to attack any sooner than they needed to. I needed time to handle this; I was outnumbered and in grave danger, that much was obvious.

      "Come with us," the Eyrie commanded. "Or do we have to take you by force? I really don't care - a struggle might turn out to be quite amusing."

      "Shut up," I hissed. I was getting so fed up, so filled with hatred at the fact that I would always be prey for the League. I was more than "Windstorm", as Frey and her followers continually called me. I was Sisslio; once an ordinary green Zafara, now a prophesied being, branded with a white pelt, so similar to my enemy's.

      "By force it is then!" Aillara let out a joyous squawk.

      It was at this point that Aly, Terzin, and Dayne swept the curtain aside. The sound of breaking wood had tipped them off to what was going on, and Aillara's screech only confirmed it.

      Terzin was the first to react. His mouth hung open limply at the horrific sight of his mother, bleeding on the floor, her breaths becoming shorter and shallower with each second. It was obvious to us all that she did not have much chance of surviving this terrible encounter. The Cloud Lupe had only to glance at the Shadow Eyrie's bloodied talons to realize what had happened. "COWARD!" thundered Terzin as he sprang at his mother's attacker. "SCUM!" In an instant, his teeth were tearing at the wing of his dark adversary.

      Aillara screamed in pain and kicked at the Lupe with her hind claws because of the awkward angle at which she had been attacked. The assault was like a cue for the rest of the League, and a few well-muscled pets stepped forward to assist their leader.

      Aly didn't waste a second. "Get your cursed paws off of him!" she bawled, leaping over Siersha's body, careering through the mass of foes, dagger drawn. She bolted through the throng and landed outside, leaving scathed flesh in her wake.

      I followed suit, charging through the group, swinging the Windscythe wildly, Dayne close behind me. To my surprise, she had picked up a tall, ornate, metal candleholder that had been standing in the front hall of the small house, and was now wielding it to the best of her ability.

      Struggling through the horde, we found ourselves tumbling out onto the ground, the grass around us frosted with snow. Terzin also stood nearby; Aly's distraction had given him time to extract himself from the melee, but he was standing his ground, four paws braced against the earth, and appeared to have no intention of running away.

      Terzin wasn't the only one. The League had come to deal with us, and we all knew that there would be some kind of confrontation. It was better that they fought us than others, though. As we had already seen, they thought nothing of killing innocent villagers in order to get to me. I sneered at Aillara and the mob she lead, my sword gleaming as dangerously as ever. Dayne took on a random battle stance, the candleholder wavering in her paws. Aly's dagger remained in her fist, the blood on it now cold.

      "I only reasoned that we'd have to deal with the whole lot of you," Aillara scoffed. "That's why I brought so many of my comrades. Frey KeenBlade awaits you, Windstorm, so it would be best to do the wisest thing and sheathe your sword." Her beak and talons took on a cruel sheen in the dimmed morning light. Fog had begun to roll in, bringing with it light snowfall.

      "I don't think so," I retorted. "I'll fight you. Just come over here and get it!"

      Beside me, a low, deadly growl was slowly rising in Terzin's throat. "She's mine, Sisslio," he whispered. "She won't get away without payback for my mother." He let out a fierce bark and bounded towards Aillara once more. "I'll tear out your throat!" he swore, but before his fangs could latch into flesh, he was seized by two League members, one a Skeith, the other a Buzz. Unfortunately for them, Terzin HowlSoul was a force to be reckoned with. The Lupe lashed out with claws and teeth, and at the same time sent out beams of light magic from his aura, blinding his foes momentarily.

      We Zafaras took advantage of this action and advanced, weapons ready. Aly and I took care of a good number and sent several others scurrying away. Dayne managed to send at least six of them unconscious with large Negg-shaped lumps forming on their heads.

      Eventually, it was only Aillara and four others left: a Krawk, two Acaras, and a Bori. We advanced towards her, Terzin at the head of our small force.

      "I suppose you were right, Windstorm," said Aillara, a little too nonchalant. "I was the unwise one. I guess hubris can slow one down in a battle, but I can turn the tables nonetheless."

      What was she babbling on about? The odds were almost equal between our two groups, and Terzin was hungering for vengeance. How could she turn the tables? Still, I was forced into a state of wariness, for I knew what Aillara was capable of.

      "Do it now, Khall," the Eyrie calmly commanded.

      The Bori nodded solemnly and swiftly removed a small package from the confines of his cloak. I couldn't tell what it was, and I had no time to think about it. The Bori scented the air, and I could tell that he was checking the wind direction. Satisfied, he slit the package deftly with a single claw and threw it to the ground, where it expelled its contents: an extremely fine powder that was carried away by the breeze effortlessly.

      In our direction.

      "Cover your mouths!" I warned, but even as I spoke, I inhaled some of the strange powder, which I suspected to contain some kind of poison or other substance. I saw Frey's followers shielding their noses and mouths with a cloak or handkerchief, and I heard Aly, Terzin, and Dayne coughing as they failed to do the same. And then, the world ceased to exist.

     *

      I awoke in a small, torch-lit stone room, to my surprise free of bonds. The air inside the chamber was cold, and I shivered as I glanced around. The others, I was relieved to discover, were sprawled nearby, or at least Aly and Terzin were. Dayne was awake, sitting against a wall, her knees drawn up to her chest. "Are you okay? I asked groggily. "We're all alive, right?"

      She nodded mutely.

      "Great," I replied, satisfied for a few moments. The slight headache that then came over me reminded me of what had last happened. "Aillara," I muttered, "She captured us." I winced at the sudden throbbing of my temples, and my frustration only built up. "How dare she? Serving Frey to hurt us! I swear I'll kill her one day!" The voice of reason that was currently shrouded in the back of my mind knew that the vow I had just spouted was uncharacteristic of me, but I didn't care. My blood boiled at the knowledge that the League would never cease willing to serve Frey, despicable Frey.

      And it was because I hadn't reacted in time that Siersha had been killed. I felt so guilty, knowing that I had only added another scar to Terzin's life. If I was the Windstorm, why couldn't I have sensed the League? And why was I so hesitant to kill? I drew my sword from its scabbard, just to admire its silver length. I noticed that there were still specks of the soothsayer's blood scattered on it from Aillara's fatal blow. I started scratching the dry, crimson flecks off, and then noticed an especially large spot near the hilt. I began chiselling it off with a nail, and some kind of almond-shaped symbol became visible. Curious, I continued my task.

      Suddenly a soft sobbing filled the unfamiliar cell. It was Dayne.

      I stopped scratching at my blade, sheathing it once more. I mentally kicked myself as I realized that I wasn't the only one suffering in here. Dayne had the most ordinary life outside of our dealings with Frey, but going through all these tussles with the League must have been so hard for her.

      "Hey," I said, looking up, "What's wrong?"

      "Nothing," she replied, which was obviously not true. "Just-just leave me alone."

      I shrugged awkwardly. "Practically impossible in a room this small." I knew that if Dayne didn't get whatever was bothering her off her chest now, it would only plague her incessantly once Terzin and Aly were awake. We had been friends for years, and I had already figured out that the introduction of the steadfast Lupe and tomboyish Zafara had upset her previous lifestyle. She had recently lost her spunkiness, which was largely the Firejewel's doing. And the Firejewel was linked to Frey, just like Terzin and Aly's long lines of ancestors. I got up and moved a little closer to her, sitting cross-legged. "Come on," I prompted, "We both know that if you don't say something, it's just gonna bug you. I've got nothing better to do, so shoot."

      She sniffled a bit, but eventually made eye contact with me. "Well…it's just that I feel all useless and stupid every time we get in trouble."

      My brow furrowed in both confusion and interest. "How do you mean?"

      "Well, we wouldn't be captured now if I was actually useful!"

      "Dayne -"

      "I know that you're going to tell me that it's not my fault again, but it is. Terzin and Aly actually help you when you get into a tight spot, but I can't do that! I mean, you've been forced to learn a few sword moves, and they have magic and claws and dagger skills. I always feel like I should just stay home every time you have to come to this world, but then I feel all left out. I know I sound like some baby whining like this, but it's true. It's not fair that I can't do anything to help you when Aly can!" Her green eyes suddenly widened as though she had regretted what she had just said, and she then fell silent. Looking down, Dayne whispered her next comment so quietly I barely heard it. "It's like she's competing to be your friend. We're so similar, but she's useful and I'm not."

      I was a little shocked at this. I'd always known that Dayne and Aly had never been great friends or anything; Dayne's feminine love of shopping sharply contrasted with Aly's tougher, more practical nature, but I'd never suspected that my roommate had felt threatened by the striped Zafara's abilities as a mage and fighter. "Dayne, you're both good friends of mine, okay? She's no better than you are. Just because she can use a knife doesn't make her superior. I don't see you as a good-for-nothing. I see you has a close friend who I've known since I was ten or something, and who's always stuck by me even when it gets really hard for either of us." I felt really overly sensitive saying this, but I didn't know how else to put it. We were already in a bad situation, with the League finding and capturing us again, and I didn't want Dayne getting all depressed with this extra issue on her plate.

      "Are you just saying that to make me feel better?" she asked.

      "No. Just because Aly's more efficient at cutting down Frey's thugs doesn't mean that you're not my friend anymore. That's just something she's good at. I mean, I don't think she'd ever beat you at bargain hunting!"

      She managed a small smile at this. "I guess not. It's just that I find her hard to deal with. You should have heard her when you got hit by that dart."

      "Why?" I inquired, curious. "What did she say?"

      "She was being so stupidly rude! I mean, the most commonly said phrase coming from her mouth was 'shut up'! I was just wondering what was wrong with you - I mean, who wouldn't be concerned? - And she got all nasty and kept cursing at me and everything else. I was worried about you and so was Terzin, but it was like she hated me. I felt like she thought I was just getting in the way, so I backed off. I talked to Terzin about it when you were asleep, and he said that it's just her nature to get really ticked off when she's really worried, scared, or nervous. I found that sort of weird, but that's just me."

      I shrugged; a little embarrassed at the knowledge that Aly had got so fierce and defensive over my well being, especially among friends. "Well, everyone's different," I muttered.

      "Yeah, well, does that mean I can quit my training?'

      "Training?"

      "Yeah. Ever since we got back from the whole Firejewel scenario, I've been going to the training school on Mystery Island for a few hours. I know some basic kung fu sort of stuff!"

      "Oh. You mean instead of spending thousands of Neopoints on clothes, you're spending thousands of Neopoints on Codestones?"

      "Yup."

      "Ah. Well, I guess it's a little more of a…practical thing to spend your money on…"

      "Well, if we get out of this alive, I'll probably spend my first day back home at Uni's. Wanna come?"

      "Uh…"

      "I need someone to carry the bags."

      "You always do."

      It was strange, joking about silly things like Dayne's crazy hobby in a dark dungeon-like room, unsure of what the League would do next, but it cheered me. As Terzin and Aly stirred in the dimness, I was glad to know that I had true friends by my side. Even Dayne the shopaholic was willing to lay down her life for me. All four of us were united against Frey, and I felt a surge of pride at this thought.

      Moments later, when we were greeted by the ominous shadow of a stocky Shoyru in the narrow doorway of the cell, come to fetch us, I felt utterly fearless.

To be continued...

 
Search the Neopian Times




Other Episodes


» EndingArrow: Part One
» EndingArrow: Part Two
» EndingArrow: Part Three
» EndingArrow: Part Four
» EndingArrow: Part Six
» EndingArrow: Part Seven
» EndingArrow: Part Eight
» EndingArrow: Part Nine
» EndingArrow: Part Ten
» EndingArrow: Part Eleven



Week 200 Related Links


Other Stories




Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.