Neytiri looked up at the massive glaciers. After three days of constant travel, they had finally reached the Misai Glaciers. Sure, Rhea and Alek were ready to faint from exhaustion, but at least she had gotten them that far, right?
“Wowza,” Rhea said before falling to her knees.
Jay laughed as he walked up, carrying Alek. “You two really need to get in shape.”
Rhea grinned. “I bet we’d be in shape, too, if we spent all our time chasing Shadwows.”
“Hey, that’s not all we do, you know,” Neytiri grumbled. She had been growing impatient with the two Shadows and was having trouble keeping her temper under control. “What we do is what keeps you Shadows alive as well.”
“Really?” Rhea asked skeptically.
“Why do you think there aren’t any demons in the NMS vicinity?”
Rhea narrowed her eyes. “Why would you guys get rid of all the demons around our school? What would you get out of it?”
“Absolutely nothing. Mother has a pact with Berret. We keep your place clear of demons and she produces non-violent Shadows.”
“Are you trying to say that Shadows are generally violent?” Rhea asked.
Neytiri sighed. “Of course not, Rhea. And I don’t want to argue with you right now. I want to find the last crest and head back to the school as soon as we can.” Even though it was already nearly dark and Rhea and Alek were tired, Neytiri started walking toward the glaciers. She glanced over her shoulder. “Jay, set up the tent and you three get some rest. I’ll be back later.” She started walking again and left them far behind as she reached the end of the land and the start of of the glaciers. She glanced around at the looming frozen structures. How was she expected to find her crest in all of that? She could ask Rhea to perform the summoning spel again, but that had left the witch so exhausted that Neytiri didn’t even consider it. Besides, Rhea had been further tired by al the walking and the glaciers were emitting such cold that Rhea’s powers were probably doubly reduced here.
She began walking and jumped onto a slab of ice. From there she jumped to the top of a small glacier. She continued along through all of the glaciers, searching for a glowing locket in all the ice.
It was nearly dawn by the time she found what she was looking for.
Frozen in ice was a golden heart on a chain. She used an arrow to dislodge the cube of ice from the glacier and started to lift it when there was a loud groaning sound and the glacier she was standing on began to shake.
“Why can’t this stuff ever just be easy?” Neytiri muttered as a large serpent crashed through the ice and dove towards Neytiri. She quickly grabbed the cube of ice and dived into the ice cold water and began swimming, serpent dead on her tail. She shivered as she burst onto land and took of running. The serpent burst out of the water and began slithering after her on land. “Of course. First was a seas serpent, second a land snake. So mine justhasto be both, doesn’t it?” she muttered as she averted her direction away from where Jay and the others were camped. She tossed the icecube in the direction of the camp and unslung her bow. She nocked an arrow and turned to shoot it at the serpent. She shot the arrow, but as it hit the serpent’s scales, it burst into flames and the ashes blew away on the breeze.
“Well, that can’t be good.” Neytiri continued to run and wondered what else she could throw at it. If everything simply disintergrated upon contact, there was nothing she could do but run. And even that she couldn’t keep up for very long.
“Tiri!” Neytiri turned and saw Jay running form the direction of the camp to run alongside her. “The lockets!” He was holding her icecube in one hand and his own locket in the other. Rhea came running up behind him, her locket around her neck. Both were glowing, and as Jay got closer, the locket in the icecube began to glow as well.
As Jay tossed the cube to her, the ice melted in the air and the locket landed in Neytiri’s hand. It glowed brighter in her hand and she turned to Jay.
“What are we supposed to do now?” she asked.
“Get closer!” Rhea called out. Neytiri changed her direction and ran toward Jay and Rhea. She reached Jay just as Rhea did and the three of them stopped running and held hands and faced the serpent.
The large snake halted its slithering and stared down at them with large intelligent green eyes. “I see you have figured it out.” Neytiri’s eyes widened as the snake spoke directly to them. Then she glanced down and saw the three lockets were glowing brighter when together than they ever had on their own.
The snake turned away and slithered slowly back toward the glaciers.
“Anyone else think that was extremely strange?” Rhea asked in astonishment.
Jay nodded, eyes still wide in shock. They let go of each others hands and Neytiri held her locket up to eye level to ready the inscription.
“What’s it say?” Jay asked, stepping closer to get a better look.
“Nesaraii quita con tashiqui yta kaderakou.‘Hunter of strength and courage.’” She placed the chain around her neck and felt warmth radiate through her body.
Just then, a slip of paper burned into exsistence in front of Neytiri. She grabbed it out of the air and read aloud what it had to say.
“Daughter, sorry I haven’t been able to write before this. Much ahs happened since you all left. Some Hunters and Shadows were accused of trying to help the Darkness get into the school. We waited three days after that in anticipatin of the inevitable attack. But it didn’t come until just now. We are in desperate need of the help you three can bring. Please come back as soon as possible.
Jay and Neytiri exchanged glances. The Darkness had attacked sooner than they had hoped. They still had a five day walk ahead of them. Neytiri and Jay would have been able to cut that time in half by running, but there was no way Rhea and Alek would be able to keep up with them.
“What are we supposed to do?” Jay asked aloud.
“We still have five days ahead of us,” Neytiri muttered.
Rhea looked at them. “I could offer something that might help.”
“What?” Neytiri asked, desperate for any way of getting back to her mother.
“If you can get a nite back to your mother and she can get a couple of witches to perform a summoning spell from the school, I could perform a lacting spell to find it and get us back to the school in no time.”
Neytiri’s eyes sparkled. She took out a pad of paper and a pencil from the small pack she kept around her wasit. She quickly scribbled out the note and held it out to Rhea. “Burn this.” Rhea complied without hesitating. The little slip of paper burned out of exsistence and the three of them stood there in silcence for a few minutes before another slip of paper burned into exsistence in front of Neytiri.
Daughter, I got your message. Berret has stationed three witches to perform the task you ask for. Send another message as soon as you are in place and ready to be summoned.
Neytiri looked at Rhea. “Let’s get back to Alek and get you ready, shall we?” She smiled and led them in the direction of their camp. When they reached the tent, Neytiri roused Alek from his slumber and rolled up the tent. It shrunk and she fit it into her pack. She stood up and faced them. Everyone was wearing their packs, ready to leave. The sun was rising in the distance as Neytiri scribbled another note to her mother telling her they were ready. She held it out to Rhea and the wtich quickly burned it.
Begin the spell.
That was all the last note read and Neytiri nodded to Rhea. Rhea closed her eyes in concentration and her hands began to glow a dull blue color. “Hold my arms,” she muttered to them. Neytiri and Jay held onto her right arm while Alek clutched her left.
Suddenly the Misai Glaciers vanished and Neytiri felt like she was being pulled through a tiny dark hole and when they came out the other side, they were in the school.
Neytiri looked around and everywhere there were Hunters and Shadows fighting demons. She immediately readied her bow and bgean fighting. Rhea was exhausted the the three witches who had summoned them led her off to one side.
“We’re being overrun!” a werewolf girl with blond hair called out. Neytiri recognized her as Alexia.
“Alexia!” she called, grabbing Alek by the collar and dragging him along with her. “Take better care of this one next time.” Alexia turned and her golden eyes lit up when she saw her little brother. She embraced him as her werecat friend and Zendaya protected her form charging demons.
Neytiri shot an arrow and a demon that had been bothering Zendaya burst into flames and turned to ashes.
“Thanks,” Zendaya called as she flew above the crowd and took in the scene from above.
“How does it look?” Neytiri asked, shooting down another demon.
“Not much better from up there,” Zendaya muttered as she came back down and blasted a Greater demon to bit with glowing purple hands. The swirling designs on her wings and arms glowed as well.
“Neytiri! Jay!” Neytiri turned at her name and sawGriffinmaking her way to them through al the fighting in the entranceway of the school.
“How did this happen?” Neytiri asked as she met with her mother.
“Nevermind that. Did you all find the necklaces?” she glanced at Neytiri and Jay’s necks and the sight of the lockets answered her question. “Perfect. Now find Rhea and join together. It’s the only way we can defeat this enemy.” She was lost to the fighting crowds after that and Neytiri and Jay hurried to find where Rhea had gone off to.
“Where is she?” Neytiri demanded one of the witches that had performed the summoning spell.
“Rhea?” the witch asked. “On the fifth floor. Through the purple doors.” The witch turned back to the demon she was fighting as Neytiri and Jay ran to the Hunters doors. They stepped through it to the Hunters floor and found it had been transformed to a medical station. Zarina and the school were-bear nurse were running around and tending to everyone.
Rhea was lying on a cot in one corner with her eyes closed.
“Rhea!” Neytiri shook her roughly.
“Whaa?” Rhea asked, eyes fluttering open.
“We need your help!” Jay told her.
She sat up and looked at them. “Sorry, I just feel so weak…”
“You need to rest, Rhea. You’ve depleted your magic supply.” Nurse Kaki said as she walked by with bandages for a bleeding Hunter.
“Apparently the summoming spell, with the locating spell, and it being winter was all too much for my magic supply,” rhea told them. “But tell me what you need me to do.”
“We need you to help us empower the lockets,” Neytiri said. “We can’t do it without you.”
Rhea sighed and got to her feet. “Of course I’ll come. I feel bad lying up here while people are getting hurt down there anyways.” She followed them to the door and together the three of them stepped through it back into the crowded entranceway.
They held hands and the lockets at their necks glowed a brilliant golden. The demons close to them disintergrated instantly. Hunters and shadows turned to see what the cause of the commotion was.
The three of them walked through the entranceway and demons turned to ashes in the wake of the glowing lockets. Finally they reached a tangle of fighting figures at the front of the entranceway by the door.
Berret, Baramore,Griffin, and Drey were locked in combat against a creature made entirely of shadows. It was like no demon Neytiri had ever encountered before and she assumed this was the creature called the Darkness.
“Griffin!” she called, stepping forward with Jay and Rhea at her side. But the light from their lockets didn’t have the same affect on the Darkness as it had on the demons. The Shadows and Hunters behind them were staring in silence.
The Darkness stopped fighting and turned to face Neytiri, Jay, and Rhea. “What have we here? The new Three, eh?” he laughed derisively. “You three have no idea what it means to wear those lockets, do you? Loyalty, Strength, Determination, it all means nothing if you don’t know how to wield its power.”
“The way you wielded it?”Griffindemanded with a snarl.
“Of course, dearestGriffin!” The Darkness replied mockingly.
Neytiri stared at her mother in shock. Did she…knowthe creature within the Darkness?
“Well, I see you’ve managed to destroy my demons. So I’ll be taking my leave now.” But before he could move, Zendaya ran up and placed her hand on the lockets. The light they emitted grew stronger and the Darkness cried out in pain as a beam of light shot out straight at him. He was cut in half, shadows burning away. The Darkness turned and flew through the front door and out of sight into the night.
Griffinran over and embraced Jay and Neytiri in a tight hug. “You two okay?” she asked.
Neytiri was about to nod in answer when a sudden pain in her stomach caused her to buckle over in pain. She grabbed her waist, dropping her bow and fell to her knees. Beside her she saw Jay, Rhea, and Zendaya fall to the floor as well.
The last thing she heard before facing darkness was Berret gasping and Baramore saying, “It’s happening.”