Chapter Twelve

(Porter)

 

The woman took a hesitant step forward, her hand over her mouth.

 

“Porter?” she asked in a soft whisper. “Is it… I had heard Rayalga talking about you, but… it can’t really be…”

 

“How do you know me?” Porter asked.  His hands were shaking, but he didn’t know why.

 

That face…  He knew that face.  He had seen it before.  But where?

 

The woman took a couple of deep breaths, trying to calm her racing heart.  She was old.  Her hair was iron gray, and a pair of wiry spectacles framed her eyes.

 

“I’m not surprised you don’t remember me,” she said at last, still speaking like she was trying to catch her breath.  “You were so young the last time we saw each other.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Porter asked, his eyes growing wider.  “Who are you?”

 

“My name is Glenda Moore, but you…” Her voice cracked, and she put her hand to her chest again.  “You always called me Nana.”

 

Porter froze.  He couldn’t breathe.

 

“It’s been twelve years,” Glenda said, taking a step towards him.  “You’ve grown up into such a handsome young man!”

 

Porter stepped backwards out of her reach.  Somewhere in the back of his mind, the irony of the situation occurred to him.  He had fought Slayers, Mythics, and his own dark side made flesh, but this woman terrified him more than any of them.

 

Glenda stopped and stared at him.

 

“Porter,” she finally said, “when the Slayers killed your parents, you were put in a foster family.”

 

“I know,” Porter said.  Flicker was still in his hand, but it was shaking now.  “I read my file back at their base.”

 

“They loved you like you were their own son,” she went on, tentatively taking another step closer to him.  “And they were heartbroken when the Slayers came back and took you away again.”

 

“How do you know all this?” Porter asked, his voice little more than a frightened whisper now.

 

“Because, Porter,” she answered, “I was your foster mother.”

 

CLANG!

 

Flicker hit the floor as Porter’s hand went limp from shock.  He stared at the old woman as if he were looking at a ghost.

 

I practically am, he thought.  For a moment, he felt like he was going to fall over and faint.

 

“My foster mother?” he asked, speaking the words as if they were another language.

 

“My husband and I raised you from an infant to a feisty little four year old,” Glenda went on, her eyes turning red with happy memories.  “We’d always wanted a son, but could never have one.  You were the greatest blessing we’d ever received!”

 

“My… foster mother?” Porter repeated, still unable to wrap his mind around the idea.

 

“You must remember something, don’t you?” she pressed him.  “You lived with us for four years!”

 

Porter shook his head, his mouth hanging open.

 

“A lot has happened,” Sarah spoke up when he didn’t say anything. “Things that he never should have had to deal with.”

 

“Who are you?” Glenda asked, as if seeing the sphinx for the first time.

 

“I’m his friend,” Sarah answered quickly.

 

“My girlfriend,” Porter corrected her, his voice acting on autopilot.

 

Glenda paused for a moment, looking between the two of them.

 

“What are you doing here?” she asked at last.

 

“Rayalga sent bounty hunters after us,” Ozzie answered, glancing nervously through the curtain.  The guards were getting closer.

 

The old woman’s face darkened. “There’s been something wrong with that gryphon ever since the Dwarf City was destroyed.”

 

This time, all of them looked away.

 

“We’re trying to get out,” Sarah said, “but the guards are after us.”

 

“Was that what all the commotion I heard outside was?” Glenda asked, brushing past them to look into the bigger chamber.  She turned around and began ushering all of them to the back of the room, where several empty pots lined the walls.  “They’re on their way over here now.  Get in and hide!”

 

They all hastened to do as she said, and Porter lowered the lid of his pot over him just as the curtain was thrown aside.  A dozen angry looking guards tramped into the potion room.  Their leader was a troll with skin as tough as armor.

 

“Excuse me, what do you think you’re doing?” Glenda demanded, marching straight up to the one in charge.

 

“Prisoners escaped,” the troll answered in a deep, gravelly voice.  “Looking for them.”

 

“Not in here, you’re not,” the old woman snapped.  “You clumsy oafs will break every bottle in my stores!”

 

“Gotta look everywhere,” the guard insisted, trying to go around her, but Glenda planted herself firmly in his path.

 

“There’s only one way into this room, and only one way out.” She spoke to the guard like he was a child.  “Don’t you think I would have seen them if they’d come in here?”

 

“Uh…” it said, raising a banana sized finger to its lip in thought.

 

“Try using your brain,” she snapped.  “They’re not in here.  They must have taken one of the other tunnels.  Now shoo, shoo!”

 

She began waving her hands, as if warding off nothing more than a pack of cats.  Even more shockingly, they obeyed her, turning tail and leaving the room.  Once the curtain was in place again, she turned and hurried back to the pots.

 

“That was too close,” she clucked worriedly.

 

Porter stood up, still clasping the lid on top of his head. “Are you really my foster mother?” he asked, staring at her.

 

Glenda paused as she helped Manchi out of her pot. “Do you really remember nothing at all?”

 

He shook his head.

 

“It’s not his fault, ma’am,” Sarah said, coming to his rescue again.  “They… did things to him while he was in the Slayers.”

 

“We’ll have to explain it later,” Ozzie interrupted.  “I don’t mean to break up the family reunion, but we still have to get out of here.”

 

Glenda paused, looking at Porter as if there was so much she wanted to say to him, but finally she nodded her head.

 

“Of course,” she agreed.  “You all need to get out while you still can.”

 

She led them to the curtain. “I’ve been living here in the mines ever since the Slayers stole you away.  They took pity on me, since I was a victim of the Slayers myself, and I’ve been brewing potions for them for the last twelve years.”

 

“You’ve lived in the mines for twelve years?” Sarah asked, impressed.  Humans who interacted with the Mythics were rare.  That one of them could live with them for so long was astounding.

 

“Yes, so I have a very thorough knowledge of these tunnels.”  She opened the curtain to reveal that none of the guards were still out there, and pointed down one of the tunnels they hadn’t taken yet. “Go down that one and take the third tunnel you find that goes to the right.  After that, take the next left and keep going straight.  That tunnel will take you out of the mines.”

 

“Thank you so much,” Sarah said, making her way to the door.  “Once this is all over, we’ll bring Porter back so you can talk.”

 

The old woman nodded, tears glistening in her eyes.

 

Porter followed Sarah, a dazed look still in his eyes.  He paused at the doorway, and turned around to face Glenda.

 

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “This is yours.”

 

He held out his hand, which still held the vial of Yin Potion.

 

Glenda looked at it for a few seconds, and then reached out and closed his hand around it.

 

“You keep it,” she whispered, and then smiled. “It might come in handy.”

 

Porter looked from her to the potion, and then nodded and slipped it into his pocket.  Before he could react, Glenda leaned in and planted a quick kiss on his cheek.  Porter blushed dark red, but the old woman smiled as if she’d just been given the greatest present on Earth.

 

“Just like before,” she whispered, wistfully.  “Now, go!”

 

With that, Porter forced himself to turn around and lead his friends through the chamber and into the tunnel that Glenda had pointed out.  At the mouth of the tunnel, he turned to give the old woman one last look, but the curtain had already fallen back into place.

 

“My… foster mother,” he whispered.  Flicker scraped the rocks beneath him as he thought.  Could she—

 

“Porter!” Sarah snapped, jolting him out of his thoughts.  “You need to focus!”

 

“R- right,” he agreed, forcing his attention, with some difficulty, back to the situation at hand.  He raised Flicker to a more ready position and took the lead again.  Behind him, he heard Sarah tell Manchi to climb on her back.  Ozzie brought up the rear, with Misty right in front of him.

 

Porter could hear commotion ahead of them.

 

“Sounds like the guards are right in front of us,” he whispered, crouching as he walked. “Go slow.”

 

The group obeyed, walking as slowly as they dared, hoping that a stray Mythic wouldn’t wander past them.  Porter was surprised by the way his armor responded to the need for stealth, the metallic clanking of his footsteps becoming almost completely silent.

 

“Put out the lamps,” Sarah suggested, noticing the dim, flickering light they filled the tunnel with.

 

Porter nodded and summoned a gust of wind to blow through the tunnel and extinguish the fires, leaving them in total darkness.  The only light now was ahead of them, where the tunnel opened up into another large chamber.  Creeping forward, Porter stopped just close enough to the next room to see in without being easily spotted.

 

“They must be in here!” said the massive troll guard that Glenda had driven away.  “They can’t have gotten farther than this!”

 

“They’re still there,” Ozzie said.

 

“And they don’t look like they’ll be leaving anytime soon,” Porter agreed.

 

“What do we do?” Sarah asked.

 

“We’ll have to go back and try to find another way out.”

 

“We can’t do that!” the sphinx protested.  “We don’t know our way around down here.  We’ll get lost!”

 

“There has to be more than one way out,” Porter argued.  “All these tunnels have to intersect at one point or another.”

 

“But it will take too long,” Sarah pointed out.  “Even if we—”

 

“They’re not here!  Half of you go ahead, the rest of you double check the tunnels we came through.”

 

“Go!” Porter exclaimed, practically pushing them back the way they’d come.

 

They ran as fast as they could, and only just managed to get back into the smithing chamber, each of them diving behind a piece of equipment, before the guards came tramping back in.

 

“You think they’re still in here?” one of the other guards asked.

 

Porter, with his back pressed against an anvil as big as he was, gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on Flicker.  If they decided the search the chamber a second time, they’d be found for sure.

 

The troll gave the potions room curtain a wary glance, and then shook his head. “No, keep going.  We look for them in next room.”

 

They left through the other tunnel in a swift jog, and Porter let out a sigh of relief.

 

“Hurry, before anyone else comes back,” he said, jumping up and charging into the tunnel a second time. “Remember: third tunnel going right, and then the first left will bring us to the entrance.”

 

The next chamber was empty as well, probably cleared out by the same panic they’d created in the smithing chamber, but Porter made them go slow again when he blew out the torches in the tunnel after that one.  The shadows were so thick in the dank, humid tunnels that Porter couldn’t see his hand in front of his face.  Occasionally, they would branch off into other chambers, and what he saw in them made Porter’s blood run cold.

 

Mythics being outfitted with armor and weapons, their blades ringing as they sparred against each other.  He spotted a blue skinned creature with eight arms, a sword held in each hand, just as it disarmed and neutralized a young vampire with a mind bending series of spins and twirls.

 

“There’s the exit!” Sarah suddenly exclaimed.

 

Porter faced forward again, and saw that she was right.  The entrance to the cave was twenty feet away from them, with blue sky and sunlight lighting up the tunnel instead of weak, sputtering torchlight.

 

“Where are Azkular and the others?” he asked, turning back to look further down the mineshaft.

 

“Maybe they’re already outside waiting for us,” Sarah suggested.

 

Porter nodded. “Let’s hope so.”

 

Another shout came from further down the tunnel, and Ozzie glanced backwards nervously. “Come on,” he said, making for the exit and drawing his knife.  “Let’s go before the guards catch up.”

 

Porter followed, Sarah and Misty directly behind him, and soon they were out of the mines, bathed in sunlight once again.  Ozzie paused at the mouth of the cave, taking a deep breath of fresh air.

 

“I can hardly believe we made it out of there,” he said.

 

Porter scanned the area, searching for any trace of his friends. “I don’t see them.”

 

“You don’t think something might have happened to them, do you?” Sarah asked, worriedly.

 

“Of course not,” Porter answered with more confidence than he felt.  “Those three together are probably even more dangerous than we are.  They’ll be fine.”

 

Of course, he didn’t mention the fact that after regrowing his leg and blowing down the cell door, Azkular had to be running low on power.

 

“We’ll have to hide and wait for them,” Ozzie decided.  “We can’t just stand out here in the open.”

 

Without waiting for the others to reply, he ran down the hill towards where the trees grew more thickly.  Porter was about to follow him when, suddenly, a shadow passed over them, momentarily blocking out the sun.  Porter looked up…

 

“Ozzie, look out!” he yelled.

 

It was too late, though.  Before Ozzie could react, Arch-Mythic Rayalga swooped down out of the sky, landing directly in front of him.  Ozzie skidded to a halt with a look of sheer terror on his face, and held up his knife, which looked absolutely pathetic compared to the gryphon’s majestic power.

 

“Insolent human!” Rayalga roared, and spun around, striking Ozzie across the chest with his tail.  Ozzie flew backwards and then rolled across the forest floor before coming to rest in a heap.  “How dare you raise a weapon against me?”

 

Ozzie didn’t move.  With a look of pure hatred on his face, Rayalga advanced on him, raising his beak to peck the boy’s skull in.

 

“Ozzie!” Misty screamed, and leaped into the air to sink her jaws into the Arch-Mythic’s shoulder.

 

Rayalga shrieked with rage, and began to thrash around, trying to shake the werewolf off of him.  Misty held on for five whole seconds before she lost her grip and was sent flying.  She flipped in midair, landed on her paws, and charged at him again.

 

“Stay away from him, you big buzzard!” she yelled, and jumped up to bite him again.  This time, though, Rayalga swatted her out of the air with a massive paw.

 

“I’ve heard of you,” the Arch-Mythic growled, pinning her to the ground.  “The werewolf that has pledged her allegiance to the Slayers.  You’re no better than a human!”

 

“We’ve got to help them,” Porter said, and took off running towards the fight.

 

“Manchi, go hide!” Sarah ordered, and the chimera took off running into the woods.

 

Summoning his magic, Porter sent a massive gust of air at Rayalga, and the gryphon squawked in surprise when wind slammed into him.  He probably could have resisted had his wings not been extended, but when the wind caught them he was thrown off his paws and sent rolling down the hill.  Before he could regain his footing, Porter ran up and stabbed him in the side with Flicker.

 

The Arch-Mythic gave a roar loud enough to shake the ground.  The force of it threw Porter onto his backside, and he could only watch as Rayalga leaped to his paws and spun around to face him.  He could tell the gryphon wanted to insult him, to say something that would demean both him and the entire human race, but the fact that he’d been wounded actually seemed to have startled him.

 

“You… stabbed me?” he asked at last, his voice shaking, but his eyes no less steely and cold as they glared at him.

 

Porter knew he ought to stand up, but the Arch-Mythic was radiating his power at him again, making his body go numb under the weight of the gryphon’s authority.  Almost without realizing it, he nodded.

 

“Die!” Rayalga shrieked, and pounced at Porter.  Over four hundred pounds of muscle, claws, and beak came hurtling straight at the young man, and Rayalga’s power rooted him to the ground, unable to dodge.  He closed his eyes, waiting for the pain.

 

Instead, Rayalga was knocked out of the air by a blue fireball.  He hit the ground hard, his fur singed and smoking.

 

“Azkular!” the Arch-Mythic screamed.  His voice was so loud that Porter had to clamp his hands over his ears.  The stones on the ground shook, and then split open.  In the distance, a cloud of birds took flight out of the trees, frightened away by the Arch-Mythic’s rage.  He got to his paws again and turned towards the mouth of the cave where Azkular stood, smoke curling out of the hand he’d shot Rayalga with.  He was still leaning on Faska’s shoulder, and Droma stood behind them.

 

“Enough is enough, Rayalga,” Azkular said, and Faska began to lead him down the hill.

 

The gryphon’s eyes narrowed. “So, your treachery is complete.  You are willing to attack your own leader in defense of a human?”

 

“You’re not my leader,” the djinn shot back.  “A true Arch-Mythic would never do the things you’re doing!”

 

“I’m leading my people to victory,” Rayalga said, “and a future of freedom and prosperity.”

 

“All of which can be achieved without sacrificing the lives of innocent humans,” Azkular insisted.

 

“There are no innocent humans,” Rayalga said, abandoning Porter and coming to meet Azkular.  “We must do to them what they’ve always done to us.”

 

“And become Slayers yourselves?” Azkular demanded.

 

“It is the only way!  And if we are to die in the attempt, then we will die proudly!”

 

Azkular was silent for a moment, and then he put his hand on Faska’s shoulder and gently pushed the elf away.  Faska reluctantly obeyed, his hand straying to the white bow staff on his back.  Azkular teetered for a moment on his new leg, but managed to keep his balance.

 

A cruel chuckle came from the gryphon’s throat. “You mean to fight me, djinn?  I know you have expended your magic escaping the mine.  What will you do?  You can barely even stand on your own.”

 

Azkular clenched his fists and looked the Arch-Mythic in the eye.  Even from the distance, Porter couldn’t help but shiver at the sight of the djinn’s unnatural red and black eyes.

 

“You’re right,” Azkular said.  “I spent almost all of my power breaking free of your prison.  I regrew my leg and then blew down an iron door.  It was difficult to summon enough fire just to strike you like I did.”

 

He hesitated, as if he were reluctant to admit what he was about to say.

 

“When you revealed my past inside the mine, you broke me.  Everyone knew my weakness.  The fire inside me is fueled by anger, but all my anger was suddenly replaced with shame.  I felt like I was a failure.”

 

“You are a failure!” Rayalga spat.

 

“I realized I’d been wrong all these years,” Azkular continued.  “I’ve been blaming the humans for all the suffering the Mythics have endured for so long.  But like I told Porter earlier, he’s shown me that not all humans are like the Slayers.  There are good people to be found out there.  People I believe we can live in peace with.”

 

Azkular stopped talking.  He bowed his head and closed his eyes as if he were praying.  He stood still for a few seconds, and then he raised his head to look at the Arch-Mythic again— and this time, his eyes were alight with blue fire.

 

“But I’ve found another reason to be angry,” he said.  “Mythics like you, Rayalga.  You claim to be perfect and pure, a blameless victim of the Slayers.  Well, you’re not!”

 

He stomped his foot, sending out a ripple of fire twenty feet around him in all directions.  It burned the grass off the ground, leaving gray ashes under his feet, stopping just short of where his friends stood.  The flames washed over Rayalga as well, but the gryphon didn’t even blink.

 

“You’re no better than the Slayers!” Azkular went on, building himself into a proper rage.  “You’re looking for reasons to kill innocent people.  You don’t want peace, you want revenge!  The only thing you care about is killing everyone you label an enemy.  You’re no hero, Rayalga.  You’re a monster, and you’re turning my people into monsters as well!”

 

Fire erupted from Azkular’s skin, growing higher with every word he spoke. “And it makes me very, very angry!”

 

With a howl, he held out his hands and the fire extended to form his twin knives.  The flames coming out of his body were so bright that Porter had to look away to keep his eyes from hurting.  It was like looking at the sun.

 

“So, this is the path you have chosen?” Rayalga asked, putting himself into a pouncing position. “Very well.  Fight me!”

 

He threw himself at the djinn, but Azkular spun out of the way at the last moment and lashed out with his knives.  They sliced into the gryphon’s side, cutting through fur and skin.  With a growl, Rayalga jumped into the air, his wings carrying him backwards before landing again.  Blood dripped from the gash in his side, splashing into a puddle on the ground.

 

Azkular came at him again.  He jumped up, his fire propelling him like a rocket, and performed a flip just as he passed over the gryphon.  His scimitars cut two more marks on Rayalga’s back.  Rayalga roared and spun around, batting Azkular out of the air with his paw.  The djinn flipped again and landed on his feet, skidding a little but never turning his back on the gryphon.  Rayalga charged at him, his eyes glowing with just as much anger as Azkular’s, before bringing his head down, trying to impale the djinn on his wickedly sharp beak.  Azkular parried the blow with his knives and swung at Rayalga’s throat, but the gryphon leaned his head back far enough that he missed, and then struck again.  This time, his beak went into the djinn’s shoulder, piercing it all the way to the bone. 

 

Azkular grunted, but didn’t let the pain distract him.  With his beak buried in his shoulder, Rayalga had inadvertently put himself within striking distance.  Before he could rear back, Azkular brought one of his knives up and plunged it into the Arch-Mythic’s shoulder all the way to the hilt.

 

Rayalga roared and reared up on his back legs, raking his claws down Azkular’s chest.  Four wide cuts were opened in the djinn’s skin, but no blood spilled out— just blue fire.  Azkular blasted a river of flame out of his wounds, striking Rayalga so hard that it picked the gryphon off the ground and threw him seven feet away.  He landed on his back, one of his wings bending unnaturally under his own weight, and Porter cringed when he heard the bone snap.

 

Rayalga didn’t get up.  He raised his head and glared at the djinn, his wing hanging limp by his side and large amounts of fur and feathers burned right off his body.  Azkular stood still for a few seconds, letting his magic heal his wounds, and then approached his fallen enemy.

 

“You plan to kill me?” Rayalga asked, his voice quivering

 

“You need to die, Rayalga,” Azkular answered.  Porter was surprised to hear a touch of sympathy in the djinn’s voice.  “You’ve led our people well, but the pain has finally gotten to you.  You’ve gone mad, and only more death will come if you stay in power.  This is the only way.”

 

With that, he raised his knives, preparing to take his own leader’s life.  It would a quick and merciful death, Porter knew, but he still couldn’t bring himself to watch.

 

“No,” Rayalga said suddenly.  “This is the only way!”

 

Suddenly, a bright yellow circle of light sprang up from the ground around the Arch-Mythic’s body.  It grew brighter and brighter until it hurt to look at it, and Porter had to look away.

 

“Stop him!” he heard Droma yell.  “He is teleporting away!”

 

But it was too late.  The light died just as quickly as it had come, leaving nothing but burned grass where Rayalga had just been.  Azkular stood where he was, frozen with his scimitars still held above his head, ready to deliver the fatal blow.  Slowly, he lowered them and allowed them to disperse into fire once again.  The flames retreated back into his body as well.

 

“I let him get away,” he cursed softly.  “I’ve failed again.”

 

Faska came to join him, placing a consoling hand on his shoulder. “No.  You stood up to him.  You even defeated him.  It was the right thing to do.”

 

“But he’ll continue to lead the Mythics to war,” Azkular insisted, not raising his head.

 

“Exactly,” Porter said, finally standing up and coming to join them.  “You know there’s only one way to stop it.”

 

Azkular looked at the boy, and nodded.

 

“You’re right.  We have to get to the Historians’ Tower!”

 

Porter turned to look at Ozzie, who was still lying on the ground.  Misty was standing over him, as if she still thought someone might try to attack him,

 

“Is he all right?” he asked from where he was.

 

“He’s alive,” she said, nodding at him when his chest rose.  “But I think he some of his ribs are broken.”

 

“We’ll have to heal him before we leave,” Porter said.

 

“No time,” Sarah exclaimed, turning back to the entrance to the mine.  A swarm of guards were flooding out of it, armed for battle.  “We have to go now!”

 

“I will teleport us to the tower!” Droma said.  “Everyone get over here!”

 

The giant went to stand over Ozzie.  Everyone came to join him, those closest to him taking his hand.  Those who couldn’t reach him took the hands of those who could.  Manchi was the last to arrive, running to them out of the forest.  She hopped on Sarah’s back again and hugged the sphinx’s neck, her eyes wide with terror as she watched the soldiers charge toward them.

 

“Now, Droma!” Azkular shouted and a golden ring appeared around them, just as it had for Rayalga.  It grew brighter, preventing them from seeing past it, but they could hear the guards getting closer.

 

Suddenly, Droma screamed.  For a frightening moment, Porter thought the spell was going to fail, leaving them at the mercy of the Mythic guards.  Fortunately, whether it was because Droma had already completed the spell, or because he was able to focus and complete it anyway, the sounds of their attackers suddenly faded away.  The light vanished.

 

They were alone.

 

“This isn’t the Historians’ Tower,” Porter said, letting go of his companions’ hands and looking around.

 

“My apologies,” Droma said, his voice sounding strained.  Porter turned to look just in time to see the giant collapse to one knee, his hand on his side.  “I got distracted.  I missed our goal by a long ways.”

 

Porter gasped when he saw that Droma’s hand was wrapped around a short spear that was embedded in his side.

 

“Are you all right?” he asked, coming forward to inspect the injury.

 

“I must admit,” the Soul Smith groaned, a wry grin crossing his face, “that I have felt much more pleasant things than this in my life.”

 

Porter turned to Azkular and Faska. “Can we do something about it?  Can you heal him?”

 

Azkular shook his head. “My fire can only heal me.  It would burn anybody else.”

 

“I can heal him,” Faska said, and then glanced at Ozzie, who was still lying on the ground. “But not both of them.”

 

Porter looked at his friend, who was obviously in pain.  Soft moans escaped his lips as he tried to breathe.  Misty stood over him, whining anxiously.

 

“Why not?” he asked.

 

“Because a healing spell is one of the most exhausting spells there is,” Faska explained.  “Mending bones is simple enough, but muscles, ligaments, and veins are far more complicated.  I could heal Ozzie’s ribs without much effort, but that would leave me without enough energy to heal Droma.”  He shrugged. “I’m sorry, but it’s one or the other.”

 

“Heal him!”

 

Porter and everyone else spun around to look at Ozzie.  He was still lying on the ground, but his eyes were open now.

 

“Ozzie, how do you feel?” Porter asked.

 

“Like a truck ran into me,” Ozzie said, wincing.  “But my ribs will heal on their own.  Droma will bleed to death if you don’t fix him.”

 

Porter looked from Ozzie to Droma. “Are you sure?  Travelling won’t be easy for you like this.”

 

“I can deal with it,” Ozzie said, and then stopped and made a face when he breathed too hard.  “But Droma can’t.  Heal him!”

 

“Okay, do it,” Porter ordered, turning back to the kneeling giant.

 

Before Droma could react, Azkular reached out and jerked the spear out of his side.  The Soul Smith screamed in pain, a sound fearsome enough to rival Rayalga’s.  Porter was sure he felt the ground shake beneath his feet.

 

CLANG!

 

Three massive swords and a battle axe appeared out of nowhere, landing in a pile next to Droma.  The weapons were bonded with their creator’s soul— they were reacting to his pain.

 

Wasting no more time, Faska went to inspect the wound.  Even when Droma was on his knees, the elf had to stand up straight to see the injury.  Then he held up his hand and a beam of light came out of it, shining on Droma’s wound.  Porter had seen this once before.  The night he’d first awoken in the forest with Sarah, his leg had been broken.  Lowatai Elan had been the one to heal it, using the same spell that Faska was using now.

 

It took several minutes, but Droma finally gave a sigh of relief.  He reached up and patted his side, and pulled his hand away without any blood on it.

 

“I feel much better,” he said, standing up.  He turned to Faska. “Thank you.”

 

Faska smiled wearily, the spell having tired him out just as much as he’d anticipated. “Anything for a friend.”

 

“What do we do now, though?” Porter asked.  “Do we even know where we are?”

 

“As I said, I failed to bring us to the tower,” Droma answered, “but we should not be that far away.  A day’s journey, two at the most.”

 

Porter turned to Ozzie. “Are you going to be able to walk like that?”

 

“I’ll have to,” Ozzie answered, and attempted to sit up.  His face immediately went ashen, and he collapsed again, trying to hold in sobs of pain.

 

“He can’t travel like that,” Azkular decided.

 

“Use this,” Droma offered, and he took off his massive leather cloak.  “Faska and Azkular can both hold an end, and Ozzie can lie on it like a stretcher.”

 

Porter nodded his agreement.  Ozzie wasn’t thrilled about the idea of being picked up, but they managed to get him loaded up without causing him too much pain.

 

“All right, Droma,” Porter said once everyone was ready.  “You know the way best.  You lead.”

 

NEXT TIME: They’re free from the mine, and now they have a plan!  It’s a long way to the Historians’ Tower, though, and Rayalga isn’t just going to sit back and wait for them to complete their mission.  Will they make it in time?  And if they do, will they even be able to find what they need?

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!

FOLLOW ME

  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic