EndingArrow: Part Ten
The Place Where She Perished
When Terzin and Dayne left the tomb, they'd found that
Aillara had left the standing stones as they had suspected. Terzin peered through
the thick snowfall that was plummeting from the atmosphere, but couldn't find
a trace of the Eyrie's black pelt. "They must have left a while ago," he called
to Dayne through the winds.
"Which way's East?" the Island Zafara asked
The Cloud Lupe had a well-developed sense of
direction and was able to answer confidently, "That way," nodding ahead.
Dayne nodded in return, and gathered her cloak
around her tightly. "IT'S SO COLD!" she cried to the icy precipitation whipping
past her. She noticed that Terzin had cocked an eyebrow at her, as if to say,
"Why did I get stuck with you?"
"Sorry!" she bawled, "I'll shut up, then!"
"Okay," replied the Lupe briskly. "Let's go."
The two friends then began to stride through
the swirling gales of snow, freezing, but knowing that if they hesitated, it
could be the difference between victory and defeat against Frey.
Dayne strove not to complain as they made their
way east, even though she felt like flopping into the snow, throwing a little
tantrum, and then waking up in her own bed. But she was forced to bite her lip
and keep walking, the gusts of wind tearing at her fur and skin like scythes
Terzin kept a steady pace, testing his sharp
nose as he strove to pick up the despicable Eyrie's scent, or that of Frawl,
or the Ruki or Grarrl who had accompanied her. He had listened to Dredless and
was determined to redeem his family's line. Frey had manipulated his ancestor,
and he knew that right now he was the only one who could set things right for
the HowlSoul Lupes, including his mother. He didn't care if he almost froze
to death seeking her, but he silently vowed that he would get his claws into
Aillara and make her pay for what she'd done. That done, he would have aided
Sisslio and his family proudly.
The two of them continued on for several hours,
and the snowstorm eventually abated. They trudged onward, the trek now a little
more manageable. "This is taking for ever," grumbled Dayne. "I'm an icicle."
"It's a long way back," Terzin replied. "It
was half a day to the League's headquarters, so it might take all day to get
back to my village and the field."
Dayne stopped. "Well that's just perfect!" she
exclaimed sarcastically. "We'll get there and they would have already resurrected
her or something!"
Terzin sighed in exasperation. "They can't resurrect
her without the Storm, remember? Sisslio's gotta be there."
She managed to calm down as she realized that
the reasonable Lupe was right. She'd decided to give her all to pull Sisslio
through this final confrontation with Frey KeenBlade. Bracing herself for the
cold, she kept walking, thinking of her best friend with each step.
It was a struggle, but the Zafara and Lupe managed
to not stop or slow down for the rest of the day. By dusk, they had reached
the League's canyon.
They stared down into the abyss sadly. It appeared
to be a dead end for them.
"The one thing it's missing is a typical rickety
bridge!" Dayne stated. "Which is exactly what we need right now."
"We'll have to go into their tunnels," said
Terzin, thinking aloud. "That's how they go from one side to the other."
Dayne didn't say another word; she too knew
that the winding corridors of the canyon were the only way to go. It was easy
to get lost in them, but she'd resigned herself to the fact that it was just
another risk they'd have to take.
After scouting around the western cliff of the
abyss, they discovered one of the openings into the League's maze of passages.
"Here we go," said Terzin, and stepped inside. Dayne followed hesitantly, and
as they descended into the earth, they both realized something. The torches
that normally lit the corridors had been snuffed out. It was pitch darkness.
"They must have all left to follow Aillara,"
remarked Terzin, spitting out the Eyrie's name as though it left an unpleasant
taste in his mouth. "They don't need light if they're not here to use it."
Without another word, the Lupe stood still and
closed his eyes, and a few seconds later, Dayne was shielding her eyes from
the intense white blaze that emanated from her companion's pelt. "Awesome,"
"Light magic has its uses," said Terzin with
"Wish I could do that," said the girl under
They continued on quietly, taking several wrong
turns and trying not to become frustrated with the endless tunnels spreading
in all directions. Suddenly, just as they were about to make a sharp turn, Terzin
raised his head and sniffed the air. "Incense," he announced, "Or at least the
remains of it. The main room smelled of incense!"
"Great!" Dayne cried excitedly. "Lead the way!"
Terzin looked over his shoulder, a little weirded-out
due to Dayne's sudden joy, but bounded ahead, confident that he could now locate
the central room where they had been brought the other day.
The narrow passage ended abruptly and space
spread out in all directions as Terzin and Dayne entered the main chamber, lit
only by the sharp glow of Terzin's body. Dayne glanced around, unsettled by
the sight of this chamber filled with shadowy corners. This was where she had
almost died about two weeks ago. It was where Sisslio had saved her with the
Storm and helped her to escape up a staircase…
She glanced around the room; trying to remember
which archway they had gone through. She had been only partially conscious at
the time, but she had to make a reasonable guess. Her green eyes scanned each
exit, and she mentally discarded each one for lack of familiarity. Finally,
Dayne noticed one passageway that triggered a twinge of recognition. "That's
the way out," she announced, pointing.
"You're sure?" asked Terzin, turning his head.
"Yeah. That's where we went when we came to
save you guys."
"Okay - let's try it."
The two moved towards the stairs, and Dayne
became uncertain as her foot touched the first step. Was this the right staircase?
What if she was wrong and they were stuck in this labyrinth forever? Inhaling
a bit to gain confidence, the Island Zafara kept moving, and as she quickened
her pace, she became surer of herself. This was where Sisslio had gone with
her - she remembered moving upwards here at an incredible speed!
Terzin struggled to keep up with his friend,
who was now bolting ahead. The stairs seemed to go on for infinity, and they
were racing uphill for several minutes. Suddenly, a waft of clean, fresh air
blew into the Lupe's face and he tasted winter again.
Dayne leapt off the last step and into the night
air, her feet making contact with the cold, moist snow underfoot. Before it
had seemed that she loathed nothing more than the freezing, fluffy substance,
but it was different now - feeling the chilled air of the season indicated that
she'd found their way out - she'd chosen the right path.
"We're OUT!" she yelled victoriously. "Kay,
let's get to that field and kick some League behind for Sisslio!"
This time, Terzin couldn't help but laugh at
loud for the combined reasons of the amusing nature of Dayne's enthusiasm, as
well as the fact that he was happy to be out of the complex network of canyon
Gazing at the star-speckled sky, the pair of
companions took on new confidence in their mission and without once looking
back, bounded forward into the darkness, towards the field where Frey had perished
Aly and I held our breath as the light grew steadily
brighter, and then took on the colour of fire. I realized what was happening,
but didn't understand why.
Tasson was coming back.
It seemed like a lifetime before the light finally
began to ebb to a subtle glow. Slowly, the shape of a Cybunny lying on its back
began to rise out of the casket and slowly moved until it was standing upright.
As his feet touched the ground, he seemed to make the transition from celestial
to mortal. The bow and quiver were summoned into his hands, moving so naturally
that it didn't seem to be unreal.
His head was bowed, the strands of flame-coloured
hair that sprouted between his ears falling thickly into his eyes. He raised
his face towards us and his eyes opened, millimetre by millimetre. I could see
that they were a strange, steely blue hue, something I hadn't noticed in the
His mouth moved as he spoke my name, which was
barely a whisper.
I hesitated for a moment, and Aly, beside me,
glanced from one Storm-blessed being to the next, unable to predict what would
"Yes." I strove to keep my voice from shaking.
"I didn't know…"
"That I would come?"
"We have to end this together. We have to…kill
I gulped, the enormity of my task falling over
me once more. I didn't know what to say, and Tasson brushed past me, his fur
blazing, although his body was no longer illuminated by the ethereal light,
which had shrouded him moments ago.
I knew to follow him, and with Aly close by,
we ascended from his tomb.
We passed Saskar on the staircase, and the old
creature gaped as his distant ancestor strode by him. He was stricken mute,
and Tasson paused to stare at him once, sadly. There seemed to be no need for
words, and we continued upward.
After travelling up the mouldy staircase yet
again, I was assaulted by a fierce gust of icy wind. We were outside again,
and although seeing the physical world in which I lived heartened me, I knew
that I was not yet free from my quest. Tasson stood by me now - we both had
reason to fight Frey one last time.
Aly spoke up suddenly. "Come on," she urged,
"Let's get moving - the field's over a day's journey away." She took a few steps
forward, but Tasson held out a paw, the stark blackness of his pelt seemingly
absorbing the whiteness around him. Instinctively, the Striped Zafara stopped,
knowing not to cross the revived archer.
He turned around slightly and looked at me, deep
wisdom dwelling in the well of his eye. He was the black heart of the white
winter, and I met his gaze evenly.
"Use the Storm," he said, and I didn't know why,
but I had almost foreseen his words - it was so clear to me that the Storm's
strange power was my new tool.
"How?" I asked.
"The Storm is controlled by emotion, thought,
and most prominently, instinct. Take us there."
By the expression on his face, I could see that
he would not elaborate. He barely showed emotion, and I could understand why.
His previous life had been scarred so harshly, and his business now involved
only Frey, the Storm, and myself. I knew I had to do this, even if I had no
clue as to how. I had to trust in my ability to wield the surreal magic I'd
been born with.
My eyes closed, and I tried to think about something.
Anything. I visualized a storm, clouds rolling, rain falling, lightning striking.
What could it do? What was it capable of? The dark clouds moved silkily, tossed
about by the atmospheric gales, the raindrops sped by, perfectly straight, like
silver hairs. The lightning spun out from the darkness and illuminated the sky
in savage streaks, like neon marks left by a demonic beast's scathing claws.
I realized that it was so full of movement, and I wanted to ask the question:
"Can it move us? Take us where we want to go?" But I hesitated. No questions;
only the Storm. I was taken back to the League's HQ for a millisecond - when
I had climbed that staircase in an impossibly short time. I felt a crackle of
lightning in my soul, and I knew that I had succeeded in awakening my power.
I opened my eyes and looked upon wintry reality
once more. Tasson looked inexplicably satisfied, Aly looked at me although I
was a different person than the Sisslio she knew. I tried to soften my gaze
to reassure her that the Storm didn't change anything, but I had no time for
I felt the flow of air around us change, and
a sudden weakness came over me. My desire to be standing on the field intensified,
and the snow began to feel like bullets of rain. It took much of my strength
just to keep up this beginning motion. "Take us there," I whispered, feeling
the Storm building up as I continued to focus. This was it. Frey was waiting
for me - and I was going to meet her. The thunder crashed in my mind, and I
knew that I could do this.
The swirling air bound me tightly, holding onto
me as it prepared for its journey. A second later, the world began spinning
past in a wild blur of colour as we became superior to time and space. The wind
was rushing; the lightning and thunder collided in lapsing rhythm. I couldn't
see Aly or Tasson, but I could sense them. Tasson was subtly proud, and Aly
was awed that I could do this.
As I looked ahead, only one thought filled my
I'm coming, Frey.
Dayne and Terzin tore through the woods, a lithe,
muscular Lupe racing through the trees gracefully, while beside him scuttled
a shopper-extraordinaire Zafara who had never gone on a jog in her life. Fortunately
for Dayne, darting through throngs of Uni's Clothing customers to haggle her
brains out had its benefits. She was able to keep up.
The two were rapidly closing in on the fringe
of the field they had travelled so far and long to get to. As they neared the
edge of the trees, they simultaneously put on an extra burst of speed and their
thoughts were one: For Sisslio.
They broke free of the cover of the mass of spindly
overhead branches and continued across the meadow, its grass cloaked by the
thick blanket of snow. Their breath turned to icy clouds as they continued on,
hanging in the air for a moment, and then fading away and becoming one with
the breeze, like teardrops on water.
Finally, shapes began to become clear on the
horizon - an immense crowd of pets, who Terzin and Dayne knew to be impatient
The Cloud Lupe's heart was already exerting itself
as it circulated the vital blood his vigorous body needed, moving at this speed,
but it clenched in fury and sent a chill through his veins as his hate for Aillara
welled up inside him once more.
Suddenly Dayne stopped, and Terzin dashed by,
only mimicking her action when he was a number of metres ahead of her. He looked
at her questioningly, but the Island Zafara explained quickly.
"We can't keep going - we'd run right into them
and get killed," she reasoned breathlessly, panting from the long and hard run
she had just endured.
"But -" Terzin struggled to retort in some way,
but he realized that for once Dayne was being the logical one. At first hesitantly,
but then gradually moving faster, they headed back to the trees and looked out
onto the open space.
"I didn't think there'd be like so many of 'em,"
Dayne commented. "Your ancestors sure weren't much help." She then realized
that what she'd just said might have been impolite and grinned apologetically.
"No offence, or anything!"
"None taken," Terzin sighed. "I'm starting to
believe that Dredless was a bit of a simpleton."
"Wow, really?" Dayne then nodded slightly, but
couldn't stop thinking about what Terzin had just said. Oh jeez, she
thought, this'll be embarrassing…
She looked the Lupe squarely in the eye and spoke
her mind. "Uh…Terzin?"
She paused for a moment. "Umm…what's a simpleton?"
The Lupe only guffawed loudly in reply, and Dayne
glared at him as he found amusement in her inferior vocabulary.
The Storm abated and as I looked around me, my
blood ran cold - and yet this was not due to the icy atmosphere.
We were on the field, just as I'd requested,
but I stood next to the sword Sirocco, planted in the frozen earth, and around
us stood ravenous-looking League members, Aillara included. The Eyrie's emerald
eyes widened considerably at the sight of Tasson alive, but they then narrowed
as she sniggered amusedly. "So you've arrived - and brought the Storm with you,"
she said. "We won't harm you - we come to see our Mistress return and do away
I almost laughed aloud, but this was only because
of the Storm. Its power had not yet ebbed from my body, and I felt fearless
for a moment. "She won't do away with me," I told her quietly. "We're here to
She wasn't at all intimidated by me, and the
smile remained on her beak. Her ebony feathers gave off a dull sheen in the
pale winter moonlight, which was beginning to slowly morph into sunlight.
I was amazed at how quickly the night had come
and gone, but I knew that as this new day dawned, I would confront Frey for
what I hoped would be the last time.
But why wasn't she here? Why wasn't she rising
with the Storm?
I first thought to look to Tasson for some help,
some guidance, but I stopped myself. I was the Windstorm, and when it came to
the conflict between Frey and I, I was alone. It didn't matter what kinds of
magic Terzin and Aly used, or how good of a friend Dayne was - it was my fight.
Even Tasson, who shared the pain I'd been cursed with, was separate from me
somehow - he wasn't a part of my prophecy.
I knew that Frey couldn't manipulate the Storm
like we could, but right now it was the one thing that could bring her back
for a third time. I then realized what I had to do - I had to awaken her myself,
of my own free will. It was going to be like the first time I'd come to the
field, only this time I wasn't being deceived by her ancient words. I knew that
I would never be more ready and prepared to call on my Storm, which was becoming
more and more familiar to me with each use.
I looked at Aillara, who was fixing me with a
quizzical expression, wondering why I was so silent, wondering why I wasn't
afraid. I managed a weak smile towards my enemy and dug deep within my spirit
to instigate the Storm's power.
Lightning struck earth…where Frey now lay dormant,
quietly awaiting my call, anxious to slay me. Electricity ran through the nerves
of every living creature, and I needed it to wake her. I saw the image she had
drawn to show Tasson so long ago: The white Zafara, curled into a ball, the
star of the Storm resting within it. Light shrouded the Zafara, and I called
to her softly. "Wake up. Come and face me. The Storm has returned."
I felt the frozen soil beneath my paws shift
- it shifted ever so slightly. I knew that if I hadn't been trying to draw on
the Storm's magic, I wouldn't have felt it at all; I felt so much more attuned
to the world now.
I had to keep trying. Her anticipation was reacting
to my aura's strength. I knew now that I was a mage, and a rare kind: a Storm
mage. That's what the Windstorm was meant to be, or rather what Frey was meant
to be after she stole the breath from my body.
I tried again, focused my thunder to the underground
realm in which she dwelled. "I'm here, Frey," I hissed, and sent waves of mental
lightning radiating into the earth, which buckled under my feet without warning.
The members of the League backed away in fear
and awe; one or two of them were unsuccessful with their escape and fell into
the newly formed crevasses, shrieking once, and then falling silent. I saw Aly
leap clear of the destruction, and Tasson already safe, moving so quickly and
gracefully that he was standing on stable ground in the blink of an eye. On
the edge of my vision, I caught sight of two shapes break from the nearby forest
- one a pale cobalt, the other an earthy tan with a burgundy cloak billowing
out behind it - Terzin and Dayne.
I sprang onto the nearest stable area of earth,
and, struggling to keep my balance, made my way over to Aly and Tasson. Terzin
and Dayne were a short distance away, and continued to near us. They weren't
the most important things on my mind right now, though. Whipping around, I saw
exactly what I'd expected: Sirocco, floating above the broken ground, white
light beaming from its blade. In a moment, a hand covered in silky fur of the
same colour gripped the hilt, and lowering my eyes slightly, I saw my sworn
enemy, Frey KeenBlade who wanted nothing more than to trade my life for her
She twirled the hilt of her gigantic sword deftly,
and then brought it down in a graceful arc, bearing it single-handedly as she
usually did. "You must be a fool, Windstorm, to bring me back yourself! Do you
truly desire death?" She then tensed her legs and pounced across the destruction
around her, landing nearby and continuing to face me.
"You know what I want," I responded, drawing
the Windscythe from the scabbard at my side. "To put you to rest." I then noticed
that she wasn't even looking at me - she was staring distantly to my left. Turning
my head, I beheld the sight of Tasson, bow drawn. I took a few wary steps to
the right. What was happening? Did Tasson plan on killing Frey instead of me?
It appeared that this was the case, but I didn't know why.
"Tasson," she said, in the archer's direction.
She gave a soft snort of casual glee and went on. "I see that you still loathe
me; holding a grudge this long isn't like you, Tasson. You killed me once before,
and yet you're still not satisfied."
The Cybunny held his weapon steady. "You're the
one who wasn't satisfied," he retorted. "One life wasn't good enough for you."
He then followed this up with a dose of sarcasm. "You're above it all."
Frey sneered at her one-time comrade. "So you
see it fit to kill me in place of the Windstorm?"
"He's an innocent creature - he should never
have dealt with you! This whole matter of your lust for the Storm was between
you and I, centuries ago. To disturb the modern world is going too far."
"I thought the deaths of your precious family
was 'going too far', according to you," Frey snapped in return. I saw a pained
look come over Tasson's stern face. I was amazed, and sympathy washed over me
like a chilling wave. After one thousand years, his wife and son's murder was
still there, an eternal ache in his heart.
The arrow was suddenly flying through the air,
released from his hateful grasp. Frey held her ground, an open target.
The shaft thudded into her chest.
I couldn't believe it - I thought I would be
the one to take her on. It wasn't supposed to end this way. I should have been
sighing with relief, but it was just too…wrong.
Suddenly I noticed the smile spreading across
Frey's face. She snatched the missile from her body and broke it in two by clenching
her fist, spitefully tossing the mangled arrow into the snow. "You can't kill
me, Tasson," she informed him. "Yours is the Storm of the past. It can't harm
I was equally shocked at this statement. Tasson
had no power as a resurrected being? But Frey had used her mage abilities against
me in our first meeting. I then understood. The Storm was only in this world
once each millennium. It couldn't exist in two beings at once. I was the only
one present who held this power - Tasson's arrows had become mundane, and a
great wind mage like Frey could render herself immune to such missiles.
Tasson looked as though he was aware of this
fact, but nonetheless thwarted. "So it's true," he breathed, "The only force
that can rival your power is the Storm, just as I feared. I thought you might
go peacefully with me - come back to death. But you'll never change Frey - I
don't think I ever accepted that fact until now.
"Why was it so important to you? Why were you
so willing to steal my magic?"
Frey's eyes narrowed, her mocking expression
changing to a serious one. "Because it was unfair. I had to live beside you
for so long, seeing the formidable feats you were capable of, but rarely performed
- and I know why. You sensed my jealousy, and you abandoned the Storm's use
to spare my feelings."
"I didn't -"
"Yes! I don't need your sympathy, Tasson! I never
did, and never will! From no one! I had to show you my strength - and now I
Tasson looked at her sadly. "You murdered our
friendship, and then my family. Was that how you showed your strength?"
Frey snarled at him. "It was. I don't care about
you anymore, Tasson."
Tasson swallowed, choked by his grief. "I cared
about you, Frey," he told her, turning away. "I thought you knew that. I thought
you were my friend. Now…" He paused for a moment, feeling deceived. "I know
you never were." He turned his eyes towards me now. "Sisslio, I'm sorry I couldn't
stop her. Don't hate her for what she's done to you. Just end this. For us."
I nodded solemnly. It was time for me to face
her. "I will," I promised.
Returning the nod, the archer turned away again,
and was lost to thin air in a number of strides. He had returned to sleep. All
that remained was his bow and quiver of arrows, lying abandoned on the earth.
I tightened my grip on the Windscythe's hilt
and strode forward, ready for her.
Frey did the same and smiled at me sardonically.
"This is it, Windstorm. Meet your doom."
She sprang, Sirocco glittering threateningly
as it descended in a blow that could have hewn my head from my neck. I danced
out of the way, but the blade came again, this time I blocked it with my own
Our fight was performed with a new, desperate
energy, different from any of our other conflicts. This time, we both knew,
one of us would die.
Terzin stalked through the crowd. The fight between
the Windstorm and Frey KeenBlade had begun, but so had his. His golden eyes
scanned the mass of League associates until he found who he was looking for:
Aillara, Siersha's killer, the Rogue of the League
She was his.
He finally spotted her, and without an ounce
of consideration for what Frey's other followers would do, he bounded through
their ranks and threw himself onto his adversary.
The Eyrie screeched in rage at the surprising
attack. Rolling over, she managed to shake off the vengeful Lupe. The surrounding
pets backed off in shock, some drawing weapons.
"You're that HowlSoul that always follows the
Windstorm around," spat Aillara, recognizing him in an instant. She could tell
that a fight was coming, and muttered to her nearest comrade, "Do not interfere."
"The soothsayer you killed - she was my mother."
Aillara put on a face that was a sham of sympathy.
"And you want the noble revenge you deserve?" she asked in a high-pitched, scornful
"Exactly!" And with energy forged from pure abhorrence,
Terzin pounced, and their battle began.
Sirocco and the Windscythe clashed aggressively,
steel upon steel. Her strikes were brutal, but I strove to match her blow for
blow. Sweat had begun to gather on my brow and dripped into my eyes as I fought.
Still, I never hesitated for a moment. I couldn't let her win. I couldn't let
her steal my Storm and my life.
The League had surrounded us, forming a kind
of arena. Aly and Dayne stood in the inner ring of it, and I had lost sight
of Terzin. Although hundreds of eyes watched us, our combat was ours alone.
After a few heated moments I had forgotten about the world around me - about
the Neopia I existed in. There was only her, our swords, and I.
Frey brought Sirocco across again in a violent
horizontal swipe. The Storm, always present, tingled, and with sudden reflexes,
I ducked under the killing blade, the air humming above my head. I straightened
up - the threat was soon gone.
And so was Frey.
I glanced around, pivoting on my heel, searching
for her. She'd seemingly disappeared, and I was filled with dread at the idea
that she could attack me from behind. I kept turning, not caring that the entire
League saw was the Windstorm, spinning in circles. My life was at stake.
"Frey!" I called out. I received no answer. I
felt like Tasson in the secluded forest centuries ago, forever wary of his elusive
enemy. She was hiding from me, and not out of fear. Rather, she wanted to instil
fear into me.
I never stopped turning, but at the same time,
I made sure that I wasn't making myself dizzy. I cleared my mind, deciding that
perhaps the Storm could pinpoint my foe's location. Focussing, I suddenly became
aware of a living breeze following my every move, following me like a hunter
stalks its prey. Then I knew: she was using her wind magic to make herself invisible.
I saw her in my mind's eye and spun around to
I was met by Sirocco, speeding towards me. I
had no time - I couldn't move fast enough. Frey materialized out of thin air,
laughing insanely. She raised her sword for the deathblow.
And her blade met my heart.
To be continued...