Eye of the StormMature

Lara Leona

     I looked up and saw the sky.

     Then I realized that it was because the ceiling had been blown open, and all the memories rushed back to me. Rai. Juxon.

     "Shit." I cursed and pushed myself onto my elbows. This was bad. Really bad. The fact that I was still here, not waking up in the infirmary meant that no one found us. And even if anyone did interfere, they were probably dead. And the ceiling...

     "Juxon?" I call out tentatively. He wouldn't have left me here. The sky above was already darkening. It could've been an hour since I was knocked out.

     There was no answer. I cast out my magic, searching for life inside the room and came up with nothing.

     I needed to warn the other guild members, especially about Rai. She's not stupid enough to stay at the guild after this, but we could send out a team to catch her. It's been years since the last trial, but no guild member has done anything so drastic. What did she want with Juxon anyways?

     A tremor went through the floor. I cast out my magic again, trying to sense my fellow guild members to see what was going on.

    I felt a wave of energy come over me. Downstairs, there was a chaotic mass of magic, and I could immediately tell that there was way too many people in the guild, definitely more than twice the amount of people.

     It didn't take time to piece two and two together. Supernova was being attacked, and Rai murdering Juxon was just the start of it. I stood up, and swayed slightly on unsteady feet.

     I needed to get down there. Needed to help my teammates, to make sure the non-fighters were evacuated, needed to find my sister and my new apprentice. My mind raced as I stood up and immediately tripped over a cushion on the floor. 

     I needed to get to my workshop. I steadied my thoughts, and focused on that one objective.

     I left the room, and saw that the rest of the fourth floor was calm and empty. Then floor shuddered under my feet as I felt the aftermath of an explosion. I broke into a run, heading for the stairs that would lead to my workshop on the third floor.

     I skidded to a stop when I saw a translucent shield in the middle of the staircase, stretching out straight through the guild. I reached into my pocket for a shield breaker, but only found a few pieces of plastic and metal. Panic rose in my throat, as I mentally sifted through my inventory. Nothing but broken glass and pieces of useless junk.

     I took a deep breath, trying to get rid of the weight that had settled on my chest. Looks like it's just me and my magic. It's been a while since I've used it in it's pure form. It's always been too hard to control when it's not bottled up.

     "C'mon, c'mon," I held my hands as close to the shield as I dared, sensing the runes rippling beneath its surface and the magic its made of. My shield breaking bomb had some coding written into it, and if I could just translate that into magic...

     My fingers tingled and went momentarily numb, but the shield's surface popped like a bubble, and I kept going.

    For a second, I almost didn't recognize the workshop. I ran past the huge hole in the wall before I realized that it was supposed to be my door.

     The room was dark and empty, and I stared at the wall of smashed computer screens and the splinters of wood and plastic and glass sprayed over the floor. As I took another step forward, I heard a huge crash in the back of the workshop, inside my storerooms.

     I could only sense one person in there, radiating with magical power. But I've never fought alone before. Without my arsenal at my fingertips, and no way to assess the threat, I felt a wave of helplessness nearly overwhelm me. 

     My second home, the safest place I could think of, was being attacked, and I couldn't even bring myself to handle one enemy. The only time I had fought against individually was in training, and now I was in a real situation where people were dying, where I could die.

     I have never lost a single battle, and I can't bear the thought of losing one now.

     Shut up, I told myself, and took in a deep breath as the crashes continued inside. I've probably handled worse before. Maybe. It doesn't matter. I found myself remembering something my old instructor told me, "Progress can only be achieved when you take a step into the unknown."

     That old nerd, always spouting out something deep or insightful. I felt a corner of my lip twitch up at the thought of her. That comment was probably about something stupid that has nothing to do with this situation, but I felt calmer now.

     I have never lost a single battle, and I won't lose this one either.

     I slipped into the room quietly, listening for any sign that the intruder noticed me. As I neared the crashing noises, I realized that someone was trying to break into my ammunition room.

          I watched the runes on the door flicker as the man's hands, covered in enormous gauntlets of crystals, smashed against them again and again and again. 

     He was tall, and probably strong too, but his attacks won't be fast, with those heavy gauntlets. He barely had any armor, only a battered metal chest plate. A strategy was forming in my mind, and I started to focus my magic into my body, increasing my speed and agility, strengthening my shield. 

     I cleared my throat loudly, and when he whirled around, I realized with a start that he was a teenager. He couldn't be older than fifteen or sixteen, and his wide-eyed expression of surprise made me hesitate for just a second.

     In that moment, a shower of shards of crystal flew towards me, only stopping inches before me when they smashed into my shield. Immediately, I grabbed a board from a broken shelf near me, and rushed forward, smashing it into his face.

     He staggered, then swung his fist towards me. It barely knocked into my shield, but I felt the power behind that blow as I dashed aside, aiming another blow into his stomach.

     He stumbled, and tried to attack me again, but I ducked under his arm, and jabbed the flat side of the board up into his throat, hard. As he reeled back, I took the knife out of my boot and slashed the inside of his exposed elbow.

     His arm fell uselessly to the side, unable to lift the gauntlet. I moved again to dodge his other fist, and drove my knife down, through his foot into the floorboards. There was a shout of pain, and then he brought his gauntlet up again, shattering through the shield and into my side.

     My body lifted upwards, and for a second I was suspended and weightless in the air.

     Then the ground came up and met me with a burst of pain. I felt the rough floor scrape my cheek as my body slid a few more feet. 

     My vision spun as I tried to get up. I blindly reached out and grabbed the nearest thing to me. It was something heavy and solid, a slim plank of wood nearly as tall as I was.

     When I got up again, I saw that the boy was also struggling to recover. He had dropped his gauntlets, and was trying to stop the bleeding on his arm. His wounded hand loosely clutched my knife.

     I wielded the plank of wood like a staff, put on a burst of speed, and charged.

     He barely had time to react as I knocked the knife out of his hand, and jabbed the makeshift staff into his solar plexus. He choked and gasped for air, doubling over, and I brought my weapon across the back of his knees.

     He fell, and my last blow shattered the staff against his head. As his body slumped to the floor, I dropped the splinters of wood that was left in my hands.

     I stared down at his unmoving form. "Who are you?" I wondered out loud, "What are you fighting for?" I felt like kicking him in frustration. I hated being in the dark.

     This... organization that was attacking us. I had no idea who they were or why they were here. Supernova didn't have any enemies, at least none that I knew of. What's their purpose? How could they let this inexperienced kid fight with them?

     Stop thinking too much, I told myself, Just focus on the present.

     My eyes found the battered door that covered shelves and crates full of bombs and ammunition, and I felt a grin stretch across my face.

The End

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