Everyone else in the cabin was still pressed back against the walls. I took the moment to smile to myself. I might not exactly be in my prime anymore but it seemed I still had the power to instil fear. It felt strange to be proud of it, but soon to be faced with my imminent death for the good of the entire world I was pretty sure I was allowed to be proud of whatever I damned liked.
“I guess we’ve got to hope you’re right Katha!” I yell trying to hide my grin. Pointing at Theo I began my commands. “Get both the doors open, six of you archers we need you to fire out of one side and the windows if you can. Theo you will be with them, keep their arrows as swift as possible and make sure nobody falls out.”
I turned to Katha and Layla. “You two and two more archers, we’ll take the other side with literal fire power. Captain! They haven’t worked out about the speed of the chopper blades yet, mow as many down as possible” I didn’t even know if the captain could hear me but I assumed he would keep flying anyway. The adrenaline from my angry outburst was still coursing through me, it had been far too long since I got to take it out on a real enemy. The thrill did nothing but heighten the power I felt. Today I was going to kill; I was going to enjoy every crush, every slaughter.
The roar of the hoard, the whir of the blades above, it all reminded me of the noise of the show ring. Everyone’s eyes on me once more as I tempted death. Okay this time I was in a chopper and not on a bike, but the air seemed the same. The heat of the ring, the atmosphere of tension, everyone holding their breaths. Except me. I learnt a long time ago how to deal with the pressure of the show, and I intended to use the same principles now. Take a deep breath, relax and let your senses take over, let my fire be my guide.
Letting your fire take over is one of the most dangerous moves it could be possible to make. Despite the high chance of it tearing me apart it would at least let me fight long enough to let Gloria rescue Morgan. Fire affinities are both a gift and a curse, the element of fire is ruthless. Air, water and earth all give life, without provoking these elements live in perfect balance. Fire is different. Fire consumes, fire destroys everything in its path without distinction. Our element is by far the most dangerous, the easiest to misuse and easiest to fall to the power of. I once had a friend who was killed by his own power. You have to have total restraint and I wasn’t exactly the best example, if we all made it through this she would need a better teacher. I hoped someone would give Morgan the fire talk one day, if I didn’t make it out alive. I remember getting the fire talk myself from my own teacher, my father never had the time.
I must have been staring at the hoard pretty hard, Layla looked concerned as she timidly waved her hand in front of my eyes.
“Are you sure we can hold them back long enough?” She looked as if she doubted what we could do against such a huge army. I didn’t blame her.
“What choice do we have? If we turn to distract them they will know it’s a trick. They are after all the masters of devious plots.”
She nodded solemnly.
I felt at this point I should give some kind of motivational speech, but I’ve never been good with words and hell there wasn’t enough time to fumble over them. Standing by the door looking out at the approaching horde I took Layla’s hand once more. I only had two words “Bring it”
That was the moment we hit the thick of the beasts. The air around us seemed to just be a wall of black; claws scrambled to get into the chopper as bodies and limbs were destroyed by the blades. The archers were the first to act, they we’re far more prepared for this situation, far more trained. It was a distinct advantage they had over us faerie. Arrows began piercing through the creatures. The howls of pain were blood curdling; the urge to throw my head under a pillow and shut out all noise was over whelming.
Layla’s hand broke away from mine as she started on her attacks, they were messy and confused but effective.
“Looks like you were right kiddo!” She beamed “They can’t take fire.”
Katha shot Theo a smug look before turning back at the hoard and unleashing her own destructive force; giving me the que to do the same. Her style was unusually different from her mother’s which utilised quick powerful bursts. Instead with a delicate flick of her wrists a huge whip like flame formed inches from her fingertips. With assassin like precision she sliced straight through the masses before us, keeping them far enough off her mother and I could easily pick them off.
Still the numbers never seemed to dwindle. It was as if they were still rising from the forests bellow us.
That’s when it really hit me what these beasts were intended for. They were designed to wear us out far before their numbers even reduced a fraction. We could starve to death before we killed them all. Something wasn’t right. Although saying that, when surrounded by unnatural daemons trying to rip you to shreds not much was right if I was honest, but there was something worse. I just didn’t know what yet.
It must have been hours, sweat was pouring down the side of my face, two of the archers had been badly hurt. As we had suspected the beasts numbers never diminished. It was only when Layla collapsed to her knees that my hope finally wore out. “Do you think they are out yet?” She mumbled through heavy breaths.
“I don’t know, but we can’t give up till they are” I still shot out fire as best I could, but through this exhaustion I was achieving little other than keeping the beasts back.
“Have you felt her presence at all?”
“I did... for a few minutes it grew so faintly stronger, but I felt it. Then it went again. It hasn’t come back.”
It was then Layla looked suddenly straight up and into my eyes, I couldn’t have broken the stare if I wanted to. “We won’t see the end of this war will we?”
I wanted to comfort her but I never wanted to lie. She was right, we probably wouldn’t. Everyone of us could be dead by sunrise. I stopped my attacks and kneeled by her side.
The noise seemed to fade out as I put my arms around her shoulders, the rest from fighting seemed blissful. It took me a moment to realise it genuinely was getting quieter. Everyone had stopped attacking and were standing confused. The horde had turned around. They were going back.
“It doesn’t make sense.” Katha blurted. “Why would they retreat as we attacked less?”
That’s the moment it hit me, what was wrong about our situation.
“They are trained to sense when they have tiered us out. They were supposed to weaken us so we wouldn’t survive whatever they throw next, and whatever it is those flying monsters are scared of it.” I watched as everyone’s faces turned. It took a moment to sink in, but something was coming for us, something big.
It was finally Theo who spoke up.
“I think we better find somewhere to land”
A small patch of green nestled between the thick over growth of the island forest was to be our resting spot. The landing was bumpy to say the least. The chopper had been severely beaten up by the attack so it was no surprise the ride wasn’t too smooth.
Theo was the only one to have spoken since we decided to land. “Anyone sensing any big unstoppable evil lurking around here?” He looked around for responses. “No? Well good. I’m going to get a good scout of the surroundings before we make any plans okay?”
“You can’t go alone. Who knows what might be in these woods!” I worried I sounded more forceful than I intended. I had tried to convey worry but a concerned tone was not something I was practised in.
He gave me an almost patronising look. “Um, Air affinity. Hello? I won’t be going anywhere where you can’t see me” with that he chuckled before shooting himself up into the trees on the edge of our little clearing.
I had to hand it to the boy, indoors he didn’t ever seem much use, but out here he was really in his element. I doubted Theo would ever need wings the way he darted from tree to tree as lightly as if gravity were merely a novelty.
“How’s it looking bird brain?” Katha gently teased from the ground with the rest of us.
“Guys....” Theo stuttered. “You’re not going to like this!”
Suddenly Theo glided onto a cushion of air next to me. His face pale and drained.
That’s when the rumbling began.