Saphira yelped and turned back, running away from the tower in her tame wolf form after a gun narrowly missed hitting her blue fluffy tail, which fluffed up even more when it felt the threat. She hid behind Vienna with her now very fuzzy tail tucked in between her legs, looking up at the tower with a whimper. A burnt graze was visible on her front leg and she lifted it up gingerly to lick it. Sarah cooed in sympathy and bent down to pat Saphira’s head reassuringly but drew back immediately to avoid getting bitten after Saphira gave her a menacing growl. Sarah then hid behind Sheela with a whimper, staring down at Saphira warily and with a pout. Vienna tilted her head to the side while staring up at the tower and frowned.
‘Why does there have to be so many of them?’ she whined and stomped her foot childishly ‘It’s not fair!’
‘What have we talked about, Vienna?’ Xeann asked after the remark. Vienna hunched her shoulders and sighed.
‘Life can’t always be fair,’ she mumbled.
‘Precisely,’ Xeann nodded.
‘OK, my turn now!’ Sarah announced brightly with a cheerful grin as she abruptly turned into her pegasus form. Sheela snapped her head to her sister in alarm.
‘No, don’t!’ she cried but it was too late. Sarah was already up in the air and sailing towards the tower at break neck speed. She neighed in panic as the guns and cannons immediately turned to her and began shooting vigorously. She dove, swerved and spiralled to dodge the bullets and cannonballs, neighing in alarm when a cannonball hit her wing. She spiralled down to the ground, hitting the wasteland and kicking up a cloud of dust as several more shots from the guns were thrown at her. Amber winced sympathetically as her enhanced hearing heard a painful crack when Sarah landed. Sheela covered her mouth and nose with her hands in horror, an upset gasp escaping from her mouth. Xeann rolled her eyes while Saphira and Vienna stared in horrified awe.
‘I’m OK!’ Sarah’s voice rang out of the dust cloud. The guns and cannons swerved and began shooting once the dust cloud began to clear. Sheela let out a horrified gasp as she saw Sarah running down towards the tower with a stubborn aura about her and a very painful-looking limp. Amber watched speechless, eyes wide in wonder as she watched the clumsy young pegasus run for her life. Saphira, still in her tame wolf form, whimpered and covered her eyes with her paws when she lost the will to watch. Vienna began biting her nails, watching her nervously. Xeann folded her arms and raised an eyebrow unimpressed.
‘How reckless,’ she commented as Sarah rapidly darted from one side to the other to dodge the countless bullets and cannons.
‘Sarah! Get back! It’s too dangerous! Please come back!’ Sheela shouted, screaming whenever she thought Sarah had gotten hit ‘Sarah Stefanie Whitney Miura, get back here right now or I’ll kill you!’ Sarah either didn’t hear her or ignored her completely as she continued running towards the tower. One cannonball eventually hit her good leg, sending her toppling down onto the ground. The guns and cannons stopped when she stopped moving, letting her lie down on her back in the blistering sun, about fifty metres away from the actual tower. Sheela looked absolutely mortified as she saw her sister down and so close to the tower. Xeann tilted her head to the side curiously.
‘Well, you have to admit,’ she shrugged ‘She’s determined.’
‘I’m still OK!’ Sarah yelled from her position.
‘You sure don’t look OK over there!’ Saphira shouted as Sheela hovered on the spot with her arms out towards her younger sister. Sarah was lifted up and carried out of the wasteland by her sister’s spell. Amber watched curiously in awe as Sheela staggered in concentration due to the heat that was bearing down on her. She remembered seeing different sorceresses struggling in spells since the Nightmare Blanket came because apparently there was something in the Blanket that disrupted spells. No-one knew what it was exactly, but it must be powerful to make even the easiest of spells backfire. Amber bowed her head in sorrow as she remembered that was how Sabrina died. It was just a simple fire spell that went out of control and engulfed both her and the soldiers. Amber had gotten away before she was claimed by the flames. Amber sniffed back tears and turned away when Sarah was out of the wasteland zone.
‘I’ll take her to the medical centre and see if she’ll need new legs or not,’ Sheela muttered as they both floated over into the town.
‘I’ll be OK,’ Sarah scoffed ‘You should have more faith in me, Sheela.’
‘I told you flying would be a bad idea!’ Sheela scolded Sarah as she wobbled a bit with her spell.
‘But it seemed like such a good idea at the time…’ Sarah whined with a pout as they disappeared into the medical centre. Saphira sagged her shoulders and stared at the tower.
‘There must be some way across,’ she said ‘Otherwise, how can an idiot like Cody reach it to get orders from the Queen?’
‘You really think so highly of your cousin, don’t you?’ Xeann drawled while folding her arms. Saphira snarled and snapped at her.
‘Why don’t you try getting across?’ she challenged.
‘I would like to observe the tower’s movements before trying to get across,’ Xeann answered simply ‘If I was to start running at it like a maniac, I would probably get shot down quite quickly.’
‘You’re a vampire, I thought you guys had super speed,’ Saphira sneered with a raised eyebrow.
‘Our speed does not match those in the Enhanced category,’ Xeann sneered back.
‘Break it up,’ Amber clapped her hands sharply as she sensed the friction between them. Saphira snarled once before turning her back.
‘I’m going for a walk to clear my head,’ she announced and flounced off into the town. Vienna blinked and rolled her eyes.
‘Well done, Nan,’ she muttered ‘So much for teamwork with a wolf.’
‘Behave, Vienna,’ Xeann said as she looked up at the tower to study it further.
Saphira hummed to herself and walked around the outskirts of Magia Town, her head down in deep thought as she tried to come up with a decent solution to get across to the wasteland to the Queen’s tower so she could get to Cody. Humming to herself to try and cheer up slightly, she glanced up every so now and then to glare at the cursed Nightmare Blanket above her. She had seen Cody coming back from that tower so many times when she was tracking him down. He surely must have gotten across the wasteland somehow before to be going away from the Queen’s tower. Saphira was determined to not be bested by her lovable idiot of a cousin. …Maybe he dug a tunnel underneath the wasteland to get to that damned tower? Wolves really like to dig but Cody seemed a bit too stupid to dig in the right direction to get to the tower. Yeah, for one who can control lightning and electricity, Cody isn’t exactly the brightest of sparks, no matter how hard he worked in school. He was always teased about that. It didn’t upset him really; he would usually laugh it off before going off to do something stupid and idiotic. Sure, he was an idiot, but he was a lovable idiot.
Saphira sighed as she took her hair out of its ponytail and ran her fingers through it, growling as she felt the consistent knots in it. She needed to find a way to get him to leave the Queen. His ability to control thunderstorms and manipulate electricity could help them out to take the Queen down and get the world back to its normal state. Truth to be told, Saphira missed the bloody idiot blundering about whenever he visited. She worried about him too, he was like a brother to her more than a cousin. They went once a month to the full moon festival before the Nightmare Blanket and Saphira would always watch and laugh as he ran away from the many girls who wanted to mate with him. Cody was absolutely terrified of girls, especially if they tried to flirt with him because he was fairly good-looking and just too cute. Apart from the girls in the family, of course, but no-one in the family flirted with him.
Saphira sat down on a large rock by the terraced pathway that went up to Magia Forest. She crossed her legs and closed her eyes to go into a meditation position, keeping alert around her surroundings. She thought about that large daunting tower that was the group’s goal to take down along with its Queen. It was so frustrating; they had been at it for three long days since the vampire recovered from her injury. One theory that Amber had come up with was that the tower could sense the movements in the ground so Saphira had worked hard to create an ice bridge to get over to the tower. Not only did the blistering hot sun melt it, the cannons and guns knocked it over in minutes. Saphira, with her fear of guns, cannons and loud sounds, ran off before anything could shoot and hit her and hid in the medical centre for about two hours. Vienna could control earth due to her unique vampire ability so she tried to make a tunnel across the wasteland in the hope that the tunnel would shield her from any attacks. It didn’t really work, it was blasted in several small pieces and Vienna would have been toast if Xeann hadn’t been quick enough to snatch her and get her to safety. Amber had tried her weave and dodge technique, professionally taught to her by her father, on the guns but the cannons nearly floored her, sending her back to safety because those large cannonballs really intimidated her. Xeann could sink into shadows and travel around in them. It didn’t work, she was shot at and thrown off the wasteland.
Saphira sighed in frustration and shook her head sadly with a pout. How could they ever get safely across the wasteland? It seemed pretty impossible but Xeann seemed pretty determined that there was some way to get across. Of course, Saphira herself was sure that there was a way across. Saphira’s eyes suddenly snapped open as she heard a twig snap and she turned her head sharply. She gasped as she saw Cody creeping past her. Cody froze in position when he saw Saphira’s icy blue gaze, his golden gaze somewhat warm, as if to try and melt her. He was still in his torn khaki shorts but he had some material wrapped around his arm where she had bitten him. Saphira got to her feet as he braced a running position.
‘Don’t you dare move!’ she shouted, her eyes flashing light blue. Cody yelped as ice encased his feet and legs, making him unable to move.
‘Alright, alright, you got me, Saph! I’m not going anywhere!’ he said immediately holding his hands up in defeat with wide eyes when Saphira marched over towards him resolutely, tying her blue hair back up into her ponytail. Saphira looked up at him, determination written clear on her face. Cody winced at the stern look and leaned away warily. ‘Please don’t hurt me too much…’ he whimpered, pulling puppy dog eyes ‘I promise I’ll do whatever you want me to do…’ Saphira’s eyes softened somewhat as she relaxed and sighed heavily.
‘You idiot, you know I want you to leave the Queen’s forces,’ she said ‘I know you don’t enjoy what you do and I can’t see why you’re continuing to work for her…’
‘Have you seen who’s on her side?’ Cody asked as he grabbed Saphira’s shoulders ‘She has two demons working for her, Saphira. They know nothing but torture, nightmares, horror, sadism, cruelty and they take pleasure in doing anything that would cause other people eternal pain. If I stop, they’ll target Mom, Dad, my brother, you, your sisters, everyone who’s dear to me! I can’t let them do that and to make sure they stay put, I have to stay with the Queen and continue to work for her.’ Saphira grabbed him by the face then slapped his cheeks, three times in succession.
‘You idiot, we’re werewolves!’ she shouted as Cody shook his head out when his cheeks stung from her slaps ‘Where’s your pride?! We can take care of ourselves! All you need to worry about is yourself when you come back home!’
‘Oh, so you’ve been up against two demons before, huh?’ Cody raised a sceptical eyebrow. Saphira blinked and growled.
‘There’s always a first time for everything,’ she said.
‘Trust me, this is one experience I don’t want you to have, Saph!’ Cody said as he shook her ‘Saphira, I care for you and everyone else. I don’t want you to suffer their torture, they know no limits!’
‘Why do you refuse to come back?!’ Saphira wailed as tears began to collect in her eyes ‘Do you hate us so much? I can take anything on, Cody! And so can our family! Any pain, any torture, any threat! I just want you back home…’ She sniffed and wiped her face, sobbing helplessly in her hands. Cody looked down at her and reached into the pocket of his shorts, pulling out a small golden trinket. He clasped it around her neck and ruffled her hair.
‘Happy Birthday, squirt,’ he smiled softly and kissed her forehead. Saphira gasped as the cold metal touched her skin and looked down at it in wonder. It was just a simple gold chain with a gold coin attached to it. She clutched onto it and closed her eyes. He would always give her jewellery for her birthday, no matter what she protested. The gold coin was birthday money, money that he gained from his job as an oddjobber. He always remembered her birthday, no matter what happened. Smiling to herself, Saphira opened her eyes to thank Cody. But Cody wasn’t there. Blinking in disbelief, she looked down to see that the ice had been shattered and looked behind her to see Cody sneaking off.
‘CODY!’ she screamed shrilly as she turned into her feral wolf form and lunged for him, jaws wide open to clamp down onto his neck. Cody turned into his feral wolf form just in time so he could catch her and pin her down to the ground. Saphira yelped at the sudden transformation and whined slightly when her back collided with the ground. Their eyes connected and they simultaneously growled at one another. Cody dug his nails into Saphira to try and calm her down slightly, showing off his strength.
‘Don’t make me do this, Saphira,’ he rumbled in a low tone.
‘Oh, I assure you, my dear idiot of a cousin, I shall take you down painfully before you can even know it!’ Saphira snarled challengingly as she snapped her jaws at him. Cody grabbed her by the neck harshly and threw her into the building behind him, smashing it down in the process. Saphira yelped in surprised pain as she tumbled into the building and rubble fell on top of her. Cody breathed softly as he watched the collapsed building warily, bringing his large front paws up to get ready to catch Saphira if she suddenly came flying out of the rubble. Saphira burst out of the stone rubble, sending it flying everywhere, nearly knocking Cody out. She lunged for him with an animalistic howl and he caught her easily, swinging her into the cliffs of the terraced pathway like she was a rag doll. Saphira grunted as she landed and glared at Cody. ‘Since when were you so strong?’ she asked with a snarl.
‘Being in the Queen’s forces ensures the healthy living that’s essential for battle,’ Cody said with a smug smirk and flexed his muscles to brag a little bit ‘And you’re overcome with anger which makes you lose your focus. I’m sorry, Saph, but the only way you could possibly beat me is if you join the Queen’s forces. You could do with some weight or you’ll end up getting anorexia like Teresa.’ Saphira snarled in outrage and got to her feet.
‘I’ll kill you if you don’t shut up about that stupid Queen!’ she howled angrily and ran towards him to tackle him with a menacing snarl. Cody picked her up effortlessly, catching her off guard and held her over his head. Thunderclouds swarmed above him as a dangerous low rumble vibrated in his chest. Saphira wriggled in his grip, yelping as his large claws dug into her skin deeper the more she resisted him. Cody sighed as he shook his head and glanced up at his younger cousin.
‘Saphira, I really don’t want to do this,’ he said.
‘Put me down, I want to claw your stupid tongue out so you’ll stop talking!’ Saphira snarled and wriggled in his grip. Cody sighed as he howled loudly. A large bolt of lightning came out of the black abyss above him and struck Saphira in the chest. Saphira gasped as she slowly sunk into her human form and lost consciousness, static electricity crackling all over her body. Cody slowly brought her down and cradled her with a forlorn look.
‘Sorry, Saph,’ he sighed ‘But I can’t take any chances despite what you think.’ He trudged over to the medical centre and placed her carefully on the steps. He took out a tooth from his pocket and placed it on her lap. ‘Uh…yeah, I thought you’d want it back,’ he murmured and shrunk into his tame wolf form ‘I still love you and the others no matter what you think and I just want to say, I still care.’ He whimpered softly, licked her cheek before padding off towards the tower in the wasteland.
Xeann meditated calmly as Vienna tried to dig a tunnel underneath the wasteland to get to the tower. She ignored the comments made at her for doing nothing and letting the younger children do all the work for her. Amber peered down the tunnel curiously, stealthily dodging the clumps of earth as it came flying out of the hole.
‘How is it going?’ she called down to Vienna.
‘I might actually manage to get to the tower at this rate!’ Vienna’s voice echoed back up to her.
Xeann cracked open one eye immediately after she smelt a strange werewolf. Snarling, she turned her head and paused as she saw a wolf, its golden fur shining brilliantly in the sun, pad over the wasteland towards the tower. She watched as it casually walked across the wasteland without a worry and no gun or cannon swerved to try and shoot him down. She stood up as Vienna shouted and cursed in frustration after finding steel walls underneath the wasteland, complaining that she couldn’t get through them. Xeann cautiously stepped out onto the wasteland and began walking at a slow and steady pace to the tower. She kept a close eye on the tower, keeping her breathing even as she made sure to dodge any bullet or cannonball that came her way. She sighed softly in relief as she passed the halfway mark which was Sarah’s dent, where she crashed into the wasteland. Amber gaped as Vienna popped her head out of the hole and looked at Xeann with a disbelieving look.
‘How’d you get over there?!’ she shouted. Xeann smirked and placed her hands on her hips.
‘I found the way across,’ she said smugly with a grin ‘Prepare for battle girls, we’re going to be storming down a tower.’