Skirmishes and Schisms by FibroJedi | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 3: Chaos at the Viàn

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Skirmishes and Diversions


 

The Viàn Falínai

23, Jylta 545 AFD, 5 Ur 35

The sneeze echoed across the Viàn and Arrnwarr immediately jumped down from her tree, slamming Natarr against the Pine he had been hiding behind. His head struck a rough section of its bark and he fell to the floor, unconscious. By the time Rusziné had turned to react, the shadow had vanished.

"Check him over!" he shouted, "I must know if he is out cold or worse."

A figure, robed in the traditional white-and-blue uniform of the healers of Elemental Binding rushed from a nearby hiding place and removed the hat the Neophyte was wearing, placing her hand on his head. Jaridà looked on in confusion.

"I never saw anything, Sir, I'm sorry."

Rusziné shook his head.

"That was entirely their idea. Not your fault. Well, medic?"

"He's still breathing. It was just the shock and sudden force of the attacker."

"Do we get him out of here or just defend him?" Rusziné asked.

"You're the Commanding Officer," the medic protested.

"Yes, but you're the one with knowledge of medicinal treatment!" Rusziné argued.

The medic, taken aback, stood and nodded to him.

"So do you, if the right plants were around. But they're not. So, apologies."

The Captain frowned.

"I don't remember having two medics in the team when we left the Capital, either," he muttered, "not that we have time for this."

"You did not have one in your half-squad, did you? Are you saying you would rather have less help?" she hissed through her teeth.

"Of course not," he replied shaking his head, "I just dislike the variables changing when I'm not looking."

"The variables are changing all the time, where you are supposed be looking, sir," the medic pointed out, "including the fact that one of your half-squad has abandoned you already."

"They what?" he replied glancing around, before cursing, "my apologies, I shouldn't let my nerves get the best of me," Rusziné acknowledged, "please, attend Natarr."

"I will stand watch," she nodded, "if there's a way to wake him and make him useful, I'll find it."

Rusziné breathed heavily, acutely aware he was already down to himself and Jaridà, who he considered a possible liability.

"Thank you," he stated simply and returned his gaze to the Viàn, fidgeting nervously with his sword.

As he did, he felt the same sensation he had experienced moments, before and glanced up into the nearby trees, until he finally located the shape of something that should not have been there.

"I see you," he flatly announced, "you're cockier than me to be sat watching the results of your actions play out."

Arrnwarr growled.

"And you, Man of Byantē, arrre slow and loud," she replied, "be grateful it was me who found you and not one of the otherrrs. Don't brrring swords to a claw fight..."

"Wait," Rusziné interrupted, "how could you possibly...?"

Arrnwarr chuckled slyly.

"You do not have the bearrring of those under your charrrge. So long."

Waving a hand-paw across her body, she vanished from sight, nimbly jumping from tree to tree as she retraced her route back to her comrades. Rusziné sighed, perturbed at the Kyadd's sudden revelation of his roots. The medic, while still making her patient comfortable, glanced up at Rusziné, then lowered her eyes to her task.

"Where you are from does not matter to me," she said, barely audibly.

"Nor me," Jaridà agreed, "All I have ever seen is you defending this Realm with every effort. That matters more."

"Thank you," Rusziné acknowledged, "and to be absolutely clear, the King is well aware of my original homeland," he stated, before taking a huge gulp of air and slowly letting it out, "anyway, it's time we got on with the urgent task at hand."

Hearing the sounds of conflict at the edge of the Forest, Ferrfeiss indicated to his three groups to take separate routes. With a nod, they all ran in their designated directions. He was about to start his own dash when Arrnwarr leapt at him from behind one of the tombs.

"Qal'ath are here," she panted, "I took one of them out, but wanted to get back here, because...well..."

Ferrfeiss threw his arms around her shoulders and briefly pulled her close before releasing her again.

"You're safe, the rest is secondary," he nodded, "did you need to listen to the Walled City's soldiers?"

Arrnwarr smiled and finally understood, grateful the feelings were mutual.

"Yes, therrre aren't many of them, four in total I think, though one has the bearrring of a warrior - a real one, I mean. All were arrrmed, howeverrr."

Ferrfeiss, while his eyes were darting across the Viàn, took a moment to think.

"Most of ourrrs have Rzarchprls, but others have only their claws and wits. So, I've divided our grrroup," he explained slowly, "I am to follow to ones in that direction," he motioned with his right hand-paw, "where were the Qalathii?"

"On the opposite side," she reported, "and don't think the weapons of the Rarshk10 will be sufficient against those of the enemy. Only yours and Klorwyrrb's truly stand a chance. All we have to do is navigate around that group of trees and then dash into Doon. Let's stop wasting time."

It felt like they came out of nowhere, and Calledth struggled to count how many were hurtling in his direction. Quickly checking he could reach his backup knife, he drew himself up and let loose a number of arrows at the wave of fur, making sure, for once, to aim at their lower legs. While some narrowly missed their targets, a few went down with piercing howls of pain at which Calledth winced.

Fighting doesn't mean I like inflicting pain, he thought, then grimaced, I'd best be careful, or I'll become a Foyveri.

"Better a Foyveri than a bloodthirsty brute, I guess," he muttered.

As the group neared, Calledth threw his bow up onto a higher boulder for later, and unsheathed his knife. One North Kyadd, who seemed to lead the group ordered them to stop in front of the Woodsman.

"Let us thrrrough," one Kyadd hissed, "we don't want to hurrrt anyone."

"You took this route knowing it was sacred!" Calledth retorted, eyeing their unusual weapons.

"Ferrfeisss may have known, we did not. You will not let us pass?" the leader asked, eyes wide in disbelief.

Calledth shook his head.

"We cannot allow it when your group came in stealth and aggression. Had you approached with respect...or at least...not angrily, we could have spoken."

A few of the Kyadii unsheathed their Rzarchprls while Calledth stood his ground.

The leader sighed.

"Then we only have one choice," he replied, bitterly.

He turned his eyes to his followers.

"Fight your way through."

Kighas, from his vantage point, could see two of the groups of Kyadii divide and make their way through the Viàn. He readied an arrow on his bow and then addressed the Blàmis.

"Fifteen or twenty, give or take. We may not have the numbers to drive them back. Find the Qalathii and tell them to look from different directions."

With a short trill, she lifted off and sped southwards. Kighas watched one group sneak behind the tombs and begin to creep between caves.

They had scarcely reached the shadow of the first tomb when two of them were felled from an unknown direction.

"Wherrre did those arrrows come from?" the leader of the second diversionary force demanded as another zipped past his head and embedded itself into the hillside.

He followed the line and glowered at the cluster of trees North-East of the easternmost cave.

"Jump-Climbers, show your skill!" he shouted, pointing.

Three of his group immediately charged to the trees and began to scale to where Kighas was standing watch.

"Frrriend!" one of the remaining Kyadii called to his leader, "these arrrows arrrent for killing."

"What?" he retorted, before lowering his eyes to those he thought dead, but were just nursing wounds and struggling to stand. "But I just sent the Jump-Climbers to kill our attackerrr, with no way to rrrrecall them!" he despaired.

"Then do something you can change, keep on with the diverrrsion!"

He had managed to hold his own, disarming a number of them before his knife was sent flying into the long grass. Those without their weapons had been hesitant to use their claws, which Calledth had capitalised on with a few gut punches then leapt to where he had thrown his bow. But that was not before a Rzarchprl cut across his turned back, making him cry out in pain and fall to his knees.

As one Kyadd made to jump at him to finish the job, another Woodsman appeared in his vision speeding towards him with spear outstretched. Evading the manoeuvre, he turned to swipe at Lyssah's head, which was parried before she slashed at the arm holding his weapon and pushed him to the ground with the shaft of her spear. The Kyadd howled and clutched his arm, tumbling into a sitting position on the ground.

"Were you never taught it's dishonourable to kill a person with their back turned?" Lyssah growled, her spear pointing towards his collapsed form.

"Of course you were," she spat, "the Kyadii are supposed to be honourable! What, an erdàn, drives you to attack like...like this?" she screamed in disbelief.

Realising no reply was forthcoming, she noticed a number of the group's Kyadii had slipped past her and were heading towards the edge of the Forest.

"I'm alright Lys, bone wounds only," Calledth called from somewhere behind her, his voice evidently croaky from the pain, "and my pride was damaged as per usual."

"Not the pointy end?" she asked, wanting to make sure he wasn't covering for a more serious injury, "the wound, not the pride."

Calledth forced a chuckle, though it came with pain.

"No, I promise. I need a healer though, but I can fire arrows while sitting down."

"Only do that if you have no other recourse, okay?" Lyssah reminded him, fully aware that he would likely disregard that piece of advice.

She knew him too well.

Kighas panicked. He felt the rustling of leaves and creaking of branches, reached for his knife and threw it at one of the shadows, which fell out of the tree with a dull thud. He did not sense another one behind him.

Kyadii seemed to be pouring through the Viàn from the centre and the West. It was then that a Blàmìs came into his vision and alighted on a nearby branch.

"What is it, friend?" Rusziné asked.

After hearing her message, he frowned.

Great, he thought, they're dividing up their forces. And I am down two hands.

"Send word to Jewan. Tell him to expect some of our furry friends within ten minutes, thirteen at an absolute push. And," he continued, looking the bird in the eyes, "get some water, you're going through a lot."

The bird bobbed and took wing. Hearing a Woodsman cry out from the centre of the caves, Rusziné turned to his only remaining soldier.

"Jaridà, with me!" Rusziné ordered, "Remember, do not kill anyone. Fight with weapon hilts, or fists holding our pouches of sleeping herbs."

They charged towards the tombs.

They were nearer now. They just needed to slip past a dense cluster of trees and they would be able to hide in the safety of the Forest. Both were nervous. Both kept hearing the cries of pain from  Kyadii and non-Kyadii alike.

Both regretted the decision to come here but kept their slow, forward progress regardless.

Rocks fell on the trees with impunity, dropped by the Hawk-Riders, causing the Jump-Climbers to fall unceremoniously to the floor. Others were blown from their approach by the Hawk's own Wind attacks. Seeing a lifeless form flop out of a centre tree, the Leader's Hawk made his own mind to catch it before it hit the floor. Momentarily confused, the Squadron leader was about to express his annoyance until he saw who they had caught.

"It's Kighas!" he shouted aghast, before pulling up alongside the other Hawks, "I'm getting him to Everspring. Continue with the neutralisation of the Kyadii. Non-lethal."

The other riders nodded, and the Squadron leader whispered to his Hawk, who, drawing upon Aevyen11 shot towards Chief Ki-E-Vwa's hut.

Kyaevy saw them long before they could sense her and she tensed her leg muscles in anticipation. She briefly closed her eyes and invoked the Linking with her Hawk, Aillèpi, knowing she could communicate what was necessary with minimal time loss. What took her aback was his reply.

We are already engaging Kyadii on the East of the Viàn, my friend.

Kyaevy grimaced.

They aren't, perchance, approaching in three groups, are they? she asked.

They are, Aillèpi confirmed, do you have any insight?

She thought for a moment. The strategy the Deenfeiss Leen was employing was similar to when they took over dens or invaded enemy towns. Eventually, the groups would converge again, but the plan was always to move forward.

Yes, they will be so intent on their target that they won't expect an interception from behind.

Her Hawk paused, either through thought or due to focusing on his own task.

Very well, my thanks, though you will have to cover your contingent without my assistance. At least, until ours is sufficiently weakened. Stay safe, Kyaevy.

The Linking ceased and the Kyadd was grateful that her targets were still moving slowly. While they were being cautious and hiding under an Elemental invisibility incantation, they clearly had not banked on there being another of their kind who was ready to oppose them. And one who could sense them, regardless of the magecraft they employed.

"Let us at him, or let us thrrrough," the Kyadd whined.

"I'm taking the third option," Lyssah stated through gritted teeth.

"Killing us?" the Kyadd half-sneered, "even without visible weapons we are never unarmed."

Lyssah frowned.

"Can you give me one good reason why I should kill you?" she asked.

"You...want me to give you a reason?" the Kyadd responded, taken aback and unsure now of their fate.

"No!" Lyssah shouted emphatically, "don't you get it yet? All life is sacred. All life matters. That includes Calledth's and it includes yours too."

The Kyadd scratched his head and looked around at his part of the so-called diversionary force, which was down to half-strength.

"Yet you oppose us, with weapons and arrows and rocks. What next? Magical incantations? Of course you wanted us dead."

Without warning, an arrow flew between them and lodged itself in the ground. Lyssah turned and looked up to see Calledth with pain on his face, looking down on them.

"Look at that arrow," he wheezed, "it was my last one, so feel free to finish me if you want. But look at the arrow first."

The second diversionary group was about to stumble into the first when a tall Qalathi and a shorter soldier ran between them and where Lyssah and Calledth were.

"Stop right there," Rusziné yelled, his great sword outstretched,  "You go no further."

The leader stepped forward, claws and Rzarchprl ready. His weapon appeared more menacing than others in the clan, with strange symbols, wolf's teeth and some form of rock fragments buried into the wood.

Klorwyrrb sneered.

"You have already seen that my weapon is different from those of my brothers and sisters. Let us rrrreach Qal'ath to frrrree our brother, or pay for opposing me."

The arrow was supple, sturdy and well-fashioned. It would clearly injure whoever was on the receiving end. But there was one clear conclusion the Kyadd could draw.

"This arrow won't kill, unless aimed at the head," he muttered loud enough so only those close to him could hear.

"And where did my partner aim at?" Lyssah asked, still on her guard.

"Is he your life partnerrr, or just work partnerrr?" the Kyadd asked.

"Not that it makes any difference to you, but we are life partners," Lyssah confirmed, momentarily confused by the sudden side-step in the conversation.

"Yeah, she's stuck with me, I'm afraid," Calledth grimaced from the rock above them.

"Then I understand," the Kyadd responded, "you were able to fend us off, because you were in the rrright. And to answer your question, you aimed at ourrr legs orrr foot-paws."

The commotion behind them made them all turn and look as Rusziné and his opponent were walking on opposite sides of an invisible circle, keeping their eyes fixed on each other.

The Stones of Myrn

He could hardly reprimand his half-décantà for being restless and antsy, when he was feeling and being both of those things. So distracted he was with his thoughts, he nearly caused the Blàmìs to fly into his face.

"S-sorry friend," Jewan apologised.

The bird chittered and the Marshall shrugged.

"My apologies again, but I don't share Rusziné's ability to understand your words, something I think he may have forgotten."

The bird perched atop one of the Stones and looked down at the ground as if deep in thought. At that moment two others joined her on the rock one on either side. The bird motioned to Jewan to stand in front of her, waving a wing this way and that until he was exactly where she wanted him to be. Bemused, Jewan only just followed, but knowing the intelligent birds only ever worked for the good of the realms, he did his best.

Once he was in position, the three Blàmìsii formed a line one behind the other.

"You are making me see one bird, yes?" Jewan asked.

A nod from the front Blàmìs helped to confirm his assumption. She lifted a leg and held it towards him, curling her toes.

"Like a claw?" Jewan asked.

"Is she using that to indicate the Kyadii?" a Neophyte, called Oesuli, asked.

The Blàmìs nodded again.

"Thank you," Jewan acknowledged Oesuli, before returning to the Blàmìs, "so you're making me see one bird to indicate the Kyadii." Jewan summarised, then was startled when, with a loud trill, the other two birds jumped to either side and also made their 'claw'.

The Marshall rubbed his temples and closed his eyes.

"It may have seemed like the Kyadii were one, but now they are three?"

"It sounds like they've divided their forces to me?" Oesuli interjected again.

At that, the Blàmìs bobbed, chirruped to her friends, then jumped on the shoulder of Jewan and then Oesuli, rubbing her head against their cheeks.

"Thank you. You should probably go back to find Rusziné. Sorry for being such hard work."

The White Bird, along with her friends, took off again and Jewan turned to his half-décantà.

"Next time, I'm leaving the whole Sky-Speech thing to you, Oesuli," Jewan smirked.

"That's hardly fair, any misinterpretation would get you into more trouble than me!" she objected.

"That's probably true," Jewan shrugged, "anyway, Rusziné may have forgotten we don't speak bird, but he has not forgotten us. We must be ready for some Kyadii to breach Doon and reach the Stones."

His subordinates grumbled and stretched, reaching for both their weapons and sleep-inducing herb pouches.

"But," the Marshall continued, "one of us needs to inform the King that the enemy will reach the Stones. And," he stated firmly over the voiced opposition and unwillingness to carry out that particular task, "someone needs to go and do it and it categorically cannot be me. Get out your Kal-Cubes, folks."

The Viàn Falínai

"What's going on over there?" Ferrfeiss hissed, "a diversionary force wasn't supposed to end up in a fixed-position battle. But I hear a clash of weapons."

"I don't know," Arrnwarr replied, "but I do know if you don't stick close to your group, what work the others are doing will be for nothing."

Ferrfeiss bowed his head.

"You're...you're right."

Arrnwarr laid a hand-paw on his and looked into his eyes.

"Coming here was wrong, Ferrfeiss. You know it. But thinking about that doesn't fix it. If freeing this brother means so much to you, turning back will only lead to regret."

"Continuing on leads to regret also, I now realise."

Arrnwarr nuzzled his cheek with her nose.

"Maybe, but we'll regret it together. You're not alone. Come on, our group should break out in a few seconds time and then the second phase will begin."

"We're not going reach Qal'ath, are we?" he asked, sadly.

"We don't need to reach Qal'ath - the city," Arrnwarr pointed out, "stone cannot answer questions. Who did I say I saw at the Forest's edge?"

"Qalathian soldiers, but that...," he paused, "oh, I think I understand."

"We still need to traverse Doon, but its people are not our focus. Getting to the other side is," Arrnwarr explained.

"We're still trying not to kill people, right? Just to give them a good battle and make sure they leave with scars?" Ferrfeiss asked.

"Trying, yes. That's not always possible though, okay?"

Ferrfeiss nodded and Arrnwarr removed her hand-paw and resumed her search of the distance between their position and the edge of the Forest.

Rusziné panted, but did not give up. He had claw marks on his arms and chin which stung, but had parried almost all of the Rzarchprl attacks. His hybrid metal and leather armour had been singed by an unexpected fire attack from the Kyadd, but had done its job by keeping him unhurt.

"You fight...hard, but what...are you...fighting for?" he asked, trying to control his breathing.

To his credit, Jaridà had not tried to intervene, choosing instead to place himself between the duel and the other Kyadii in the group. Now he looked on, as the battle switched from one of weapons, to one of wills.

The Warrior Klorwyrrb had taken minor cuts, but was no worse for wear than Rusziné, except that now the sun was shining through the Viàn and his muscles were no longer as responsive as during the cold of night. He cursed under his breath.

"For my clan, for my brothers and sisters, and for the freedom of one that your people have imprisoned."

Puzzled, Rusziné straightened himself, jabbed his sword into the ground and leaned on it, to catch his breath.

"Excuse me?" he asked, puzzled, "there are no Kyadii in our prisons. I should know, I visit them regularly enough."

"A slave is a prisoner in all but name," the Kyadd snarled.

"You think we have a Kyadii slave?" Rusziné frowned.

"I know you do, so don't feign ignorance," the Kyadd growled.

A silence followed, and no one knew what to expect. Feeling his bravado fade away, Jaridà cleared his throat.

"Um, sir? The Crystal Circle have a servant, Deenfeiss Leen, I believe," he recalled.

"Servant?" the Kyadd spat, "The Deenfeiss Leen serve no one."

"Oh, I think I know who you mean," Rusziné recalled, passing over the Kyadd's protest and focusing on Jaridà, "the one who ventures all over the Realm and has a job to do, but has his own interests also?"

The solider nodded. "It's not that he is a slave in all but name, sir. It's that he is free in all but name."

"That...that can't be true!"  Klorwyrrb stammered, his own ferocity draining away, "but then why did you try to kill me?"

"Did I?" Rusziné countered, retrieving his sword and fixing it to his back. He put his hands in his pockets and tried to look as relaxed and as least threatening as he could, hoping it would bait Klorwyrrb.

"Why would you place soldiers and watch-guards in a tomb complex of all places, if not to kill those you think are trrrespassing?" the Kyadd demanded, noting his now-disarmed opponent.

"Why would we think killing people on a sacred burial ground of the Foyii would honour the death of those resting here?" Rusziné asked in like manner.

"But...I have to prove my strength to my clan leader, else he might not achieve his goal."

"So that's really why you fight? Well, specifically, that's why you're fighting here and now. I know that's your general principle already."

The Kyadd growled and fidgeted with his Rzarchprl.

"I wouldn't do that, if I were you," a voice called from above him.

He was about to retort when a Kyadd from the other diversionary force burst through holding an arrow, which he thrust into his friend's hand-paw.

"Why do I need a fancy arrow?" he frowned, glancing at it in disgust, "arrre your skills so lacking that you can't even fashion an arrrow that would cause a prrroper wound?"

"They can, but they didn't," Rusziné shrugged, "that is the entire point."

"They were never intending on killing us," one Kyadd piped up, "but we assumed they werrre. Now we arrre the ones humbled."

"Humiliated, you mean," the warrior growled, and snapped the arrow in half.

"Hey, that was hardly necessary," Calledth called again, "now I have to remake the thing. But I repeat: I wouldn't do that if I were you."

"Well, if you werrrre me, you would understand," he snarled, "and as you're not me, I will do that."

He leapt at Rusziné, ready to bring his weapon to bear on the man with all his strength.

She was about to intercept them, when the scent of her kinsfolk invaded her senses.

"Hùlàn, I was so focused on them, I didn't think to look for others," Kyaevy muttered, then glanced up into the trees and motioned to the others that unforeseen Kyadii were revealing themselves.

Ayàvi unhooked a branch from her belt and dropped down next to her, indicating to the other White-Leaf to do the same.

"They had an invisibility spell, but it's fading. There's one large group and a small one." she reported.

"So which do we intercept?" Ayàvi asked.

"We have no choice - the larger group has to be our focus. Are you ready?"

Ayàvi nodded and all three of them strode out to meet the ten or so Kyadii, much to their surprise.

"I hope you weren't thinking of dashing into Doon?" Ayàvi asked with a tight-lipped smile, but keeping her branch outstretched, "because, on the off-chance you were, we would be forced to try and stop you."

 There was some muttering of dissent among the Kyadii until Kyaevy stepped forward, her Rzarchprl in her hand-paw, but purposefully held loose at her side. Silence descended on the group, and some took up their own weapons, ready to defend themselves.

"So, that's how you werrre able to see us," one acknowledged with resignation, "you used one of our own against us."

Kyaevy shook her head.

"No. I'm not being used against you, I am using my skills for the Foyii as I have all my life, since cubhood. I don't wish to fight you," she explained, "especially as my body is struggling with the dawn as all yours are."

"But you will move if we attack," the group's leader pointed out, "and your physical body may be struggling, but we don't know if you use your Rzarchprl mostly for paw-to-paw combat or as a mage's focus."

"Then there's an unknown you can't yet control. Howeverrr, I don't think you want to attack, not really," Kyaevy countered.

"But...we have to," one of them admitted sadly before unsheathing his own weapon, "you know our orders," he said, addressing his fellow Kyadii, who all nodded then brandished their claws or Rzarchprls.

Ayàvi sighed, closed her eyes and focussed her attention on the branch in her hand.

"Kyl-y-Ormà, Ai-ormà Navyai," she whispered moments before one in the group was about to command their own incantation.

A flash of light stunned the group of Kyadii who, momentarily blinded, fell to the floor clutching their eyes. The invoked shield covered them.

"There," Ayàvi stated with satisfaction, "out of action and protected. Now, you don't have to attack us, but it looks like you did. Win-win."

"That was...too easy," Kyaevy observed with distrust.

"Grrr, what have you done, Leaf-Woman?" the group's leader cried out, "my eyes feel like they're burning out, it hurts!"

"Then I apologise," Ayàvi, replied in shock, "I presumed light being reflected off snow would be a realistic way to dazzle you, but not hurt you."

Kyaevy interjected. "That would normally be true, but we function betterrr at night, so an unexpected source of light can be painful, as you've just witnessed."

Her friend cursed and turned to the group once more, and with a kindly smile, pointed her branch towards them and pronounced

"Renberàun màt navyai.", she commanded, then hung her head, "and... I'm sorry."

Those of the Kyadii who had been writhing in agony or clutching their faces crumpled into sitting positions or laid on their backs. The leader, while blinded, could still smell where Ayàvi was and shame covered his face.

"You would heal the hurts of your enemies?"

"You're not my enemy," she replied, "and even if you were, and you were incapacitated as you are now, yes, even then I would ease your pain. If you have no mage in your group capable of doing so, I will also restore your vision once we feel it is safe to do so."

"I...am our mage," a Kyadd with more blue fur than white growled, "but this Azagrrn has no power compared to you."

"To your credit, Azagrrn, you did a good job with the invisibility cloak," Kyaevy pointed out, "it was my hearing and sense of smell that revealed your position."

"Don't try to lift us up after beating us down," the mage muttered sadly.

Kyaevy sighed and glanced around.

Kyadii pride. We can be so strong in battle, but when defeated we don't recover easily.

She shook her head and refocused. Ayàvi's initial words had sounded like a victory, but the Kyadd could no longer see the other group she had been tracking, which meant only one thing.

"Ayàvi, " she muttered quietly, "I knew it had been too easy. The smaller group has made it into Doon."

"They what?" she replied in shock, "we need to get back to the others, and fast!"

Kyaevy shook her head.

"No, you need to stay here and maintain that shield," she reminded her.

"Oh," Ayàvi acknowledged, taking a step backwards and nodding, "good point."

Kyaevy raised her eyes to the sky and closed them.

Aillèpi, I need you, she called through the Elements.

A race was now on.


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