Shadowchild: Part Two
The figure laughed, and Aly was surprised to discover
that it was the voice of a male pet; this was not Frey KeenBlade. He stepped
forward, but it was dark inside the house and Aly could not make out his features.
Glancing at the short blade clutched in her hand, Aly realized that her weapon
was no match for his.
"Who are you?" she demanded, snarling, "One
of the League?"
There was hesitation, as though the newcomer
didn't understand Aly's words. "I don't know what you speak of, but I'm above
any being or group when it comes to my charge."
"And that would be…?"
The other Zafara raised his shadowed face. "The
Windstorm. You know him - tell me where he is!"
Aly's eyebrows rose curiously. "Why?" Although
she was fairly certain that she already knew the answer.
"I must kill him."
The mage prepared for a fight, but she couldn't
believe that there was still a serious threat to Sisslio's life - Frey was dead,
shot by his arrow, cored with Storm power. Why did this other creature carry
Sirocco? Who was he to Frey? Why had he shown himself now, when the KeenBlade
herself had perished three years ago?
"I'm not telling you anything," Aly spat. "I
don't know who you think you are, but there's no one left who has reason to
kill the Windstorm."
Without another word, he sprang, at first taking
the Striped Zafara by surprise, but as he descended, her brain screamed at her
to react. Rolling away from her attacker, Aly whirled around, dagger drawn.
Before her enemy had time to meet her gaze once more, she hurled her blade at
his shoulder, but she overestimated and the most it did was shear a few ebony
hairs from his pelt.
Cursing under her breath, Aly flung herself
back into battle, weaving under him and aiming a kick to his stomach as her
fingers searched for the discarded knife. Her foot met flesh, and she heard
a low moan of pain nearby. Finally, she discovered her blade on the wood floor
and snatched it up again, desperately. Turning her attention back to her opponent,
she reached for his sword arm while he was recovering from her blow, wrenching
it backwards with a puissant force.
The other Zafara let out a terse gasp as he
strove to keep his fingers locked around Sirocco's hilt. At the sound of his
weakened voice, Aly realized that her opponent must be young to be suppressed
so swiftly - taking a closer look at him in the darkness, his lesser frame suggested
that he was in his early teens. Still, this didn't convince her to go easier
on him. He was an enemy, and anyone who wanted to hurt Sisslio would be subject
to her full strength. Although she had managed to hold him down, she wasn't
about to underestimate his ability to fight - he was capable of wielding that
enormous sword, for one thing.
Aly took advantage of the opportunity she had.
"Who sent you to kill him?" she demanded. "Who still lives to hate him?"
In the dimmest light, she was still able to
make out contours of the other's face. Right now his eyes were narrowed in an
incendiary glare, piercing the mage with malevolent contempt. "No one sent me,"
he gritted, "I was born to slay him. He should have been slain long ago - I
know that. But the Storm protects him, even though he does not deserve its might."
Aly felt his muscles tense underneath her restraining
grip and knew that he was ready to break free.
"If you don't let me go, I'll kill you too,
and find him alone."
She brought her face closer to his, matching
his icy gaze. "And if I kill you first?"
He actually smiled, his teeth gleaming in the
shadows. "Then you would never know the full measure of how despicable that
act was. You don't know what I am to you."
Aly's grasp slowly weakened, her fingers becoming
limp as the sweat crept up the back of her neck. There was something about the
way he'd oozed those words, something that made her think twice about what she
was doing. She knew that he was ready to spring again, and readied herself,
but asked one final question.
"Tell me your name."
The youth shot away from the mage, knocking
her to the ground. As she struggled to get a hand on her dagger, he paused in
front of her, brandishing Sirocco threateningly. "I've named myself Tyrin,"
he informed her. "You'll remember that before your end."
Aly let this sink in, but didn't linger on the
thought of his name. Now she had to be fleet, now she couldn't be followed.
She relaxed her body temporarily, planning to rely completely on her honed reflexes.
In seconds she had rolled away from the menacing blade and bolted out the open
door, darting into narrow side streets and alleys, her heart thumping wildly.
She had to make it to the Roads and get into
Sisslio's world. She had to tell him that his war as the Windstorm wasn't over.
Her feet pounded against the ground silently but desperately as she headed for
the cliff at the summit of which was the entrance to the WindRoads. She prayed
that she wouldn't be followed, but she didn't have much of a lead.
In the next second, Tyrin's ominous footsteps
became audible, and Aly strove to put on an extra burst of speed. He couldn't
be much faster than her; they were both young, but she was older and had fought
and run more than he ever could have. Still, she was wary, expecting anything
- someone connected to Frey was not to be underestimated.
Suddenly, the dark Zafara had bounded up beside
her, sword raised and gleaming in the starlight. "Yield to me!" he spat, and
cleaved the air between them.
Aly attempted to weave away, but by the time
she'd evaded his first strike, a second one had fallen. She saw the silver sheen
and skipped away, but the blade prevailed, landing a slash under her shoulder.
The Zafara mage gasped, clutching her arm as the searing pain permeated her
flesh. Blood welled up between her fingers as she raced away from the doom Tyrin
The cliff loomed up ahead, and Aly knew that
she wouldn't make it without slowing her attacker down first. Mustering as much
energy as she could risk, Aly formed the image of a short spike of fire in her
mind, and, raising her now bloodstained hand, let it loose into reality.
The flaming bolt struck Tyrin's side, and he
was forced to slow his pace, wincing as his skin sizzled. He gritted his teeth
and his fingers tightened around Sirocco's hilt until the knuckles under his
dark fur turned a tense white. He glanced upwards again, and cursed as he saw
Aly gaining distance. He stopped and watched, then slowly smiled.
"I don't need to catch her," he whispered into
the night air. Moving forward again, he proceeded in absolute silence.
Aly dashed up the cliff side, the wispy, dry
tussocks caressing her speeding feet as she brushed by. Upon reaching the top,
she glanced around below her, into the meadows and village streets, but couldn't
see her shadowy pursuer. Her indigo eyes took in the blanket of shady green
that cloaked the land, the small rustic squares that she knew to be houses,
and the forested horizon, glowing with the faintest light imaginable. She whirled
around, wanting to be prepared in case he snuck up from behind her.
Realizing that he was nowhere to be seen, Aly
calmed slightly, and turned towards the invisible portal of the WindRoads. Even
the warm air stung her wound and as she stepped forward, she felt light-headed
from blood loss. Stopping momentarily, she forced herself to focus. She couldn't
faint on the brink of her world - Sisslio's life may have depended on it!
Raising her head as her vision first swam, then
cleared, the mage stepped through the gateway, the enchanted breezes filling
her with subtle exhilaration. Her body seemly evaporated as her mind wandered
through the passages. Without a physical presence, the fiery pain in her arm
ebbed momentarily. She sighed invisibly as she glided into the separate world.
On the cliff's summit, Tyrin stood, looking
at where the wind meshed to form the entrance to the ordinary world of Neopia.
His eyebrows furrowed in deep thought. He would follow the mage, who - unbeknownst
to her - had helped to create him. Then he would find the Windstorm, and kill
him as his preceding enemy had failed to.
…But who was the previous enemy? The
Striped Zafara had mentioned "Frey" and the "League"… was he connected to these
words? He didn't know - the only thing that was clear to him was his purpose
- the Windstorm's demise. It was the one thing he could do to satisfy himself.
Grinning roguishly, Tyrin hefted his sword over
his shoulder and stepped through the whirlpool of air, into the void of the
To be continued...