“It looks pretty clear,” Lysara stated. “Maybe Axra and Lilly rescued Twila already!”
“Perhaps,” Bonnie said. “But why haven’t we seen them yet?”
Fang led them through a corridor filled with rubble and corpses and down a staircase. The little dragon turned the corner. Bonnie froze for a moment. In the middle of the corridor, Lilly and Twila were kneeling over Axra. Fang flew over and gently perched on Twila’s shoulder.
Bonnie hurried forward. “Is the Princess okay?”
“Sh… sh… she w…” Lilly struggled to get the words out.
“She’s injured but alive,” Twila said. “We managed to stop the bleeding, but it’ll be bad if we don’t get her to a cleric soon.”
“I’ll carry her,” Bonnie volunteered. “We’ll put her in Velvet’s wagon and get her to town.”
The group hurried back up the stairs, Bonnie moving carefully so as to avoid jostling Axra.
They were in the corridor when Twila stopped. She looked like she was concentrating for a moment and smiled.
“happy about something?” Velvet muttered.
Twila nodded. “It’s all going to be okay. We’ve got help waiting outside.”
“You mean the forest demon and Mister Lennard?” Lysara asked.
Twila shook her head. “No, my aunt Reira is on her way. She’ll be here sooner than it would take us to reach the nearest town and we won’t find a better cleric around!”
They hurried outside. Bonnie noticed a third person talking to Lennard and Jayko, a human with blonde hair that had grey streaks throughout.
Bonnie set Axra down away from the battlefield and Lilly went to work making sure she would be comfortable.
“How soon will your aunt Reira be here?” Bonnie asked.
“Fifteen minutes or close to it,” Twila said.
Lennard, Jayko and the third member of their entourage hurried over. “Twila, did those animals do anything to you?”
“No, Uncle Lennard,” Twila said. “I was just bait so that they could instigate a war between the dark elves and Nervius.”
“I’m ashamed of myself,” Jayko said. “I let them set up camp so close to my territory and did nothing.”
“It isn’t your fault,” Twila said. “You had no way of knowing what they were up to.”
“Why don’t you tell us all about it while we wait for the others,” the newcomer said, taking a seat.
“You and your stories,” Lennard muttered.
“Why not?” he asked. “Reira is on her way to help Twila’s friend and there’s really nothing to be one until everyone shows up.”
“He has a point,” Jayko said. He turned to Twila. “Why don’t you tell Florence and Lennard all about it. I’ll scout the area, just to satisfy myself.”
While Twila spoke with her uncles, Lilly watched over Axra. After a short time, Isaac and Moira arrived, hugging their daughter.
“I was so worried about you,” Isaac said.
“I’m fine,” Twila said. “Thanks to Axra and Lilly.”
“I hate to interrupt,” Jayko said. “But there’s something you two should look at.” Isaac and Moira followed him, heading inside the building.
After that, Reira and Lexine finally arrived. Reira went right to work.
“Yes, I can heal her,” Reira said, not giving Lilly a chance to actually speak. “She should probably rest for a couple days to regain her strength, but she’ll be just fine. Just wait with Twila while I work. I promise that I’ll call you both over as soon as I’m done.”
Lilly was hesitant, but she listened to the djinn woman and moved beside Twila. Twila clasped Lilly’s hand. “She’s going to be just fine,” she whispered. “Trust me.”
Lilly nodded. “Y… yes. I do trust you, Twila.”
Florence looked back. “Looks like the last of the gang’s here,” he said. He waved. “Hey, Lulu! Shin!”
Lulu nodded, walking over. “Twila, looks like you came through okay.”
“I did,” Twila said. “Thanks to Lilly and Axra.”
“I see,” Lulu said. “Guess I owe that girl a retraction.”
“What?” Twila asked.
“Nothing important,” Lulu said. “Excuse me.” He headed inside.
“I was worried about you, Twi,” Shin said. “It’s not like you to get captured like that.”
“I was taken by surprise,” Twila said. “It won’t happen again. Unlike some people, I learn from my experiences.”
“Says the girl who set the house on fire five times practicing spells,” Shin said.
“I was eight the last time I did that!” Twila declared. “And it only happened thrice.”
“Still counts,” Shin said.
They heard a loud cough behind them. “I hate to interrupt,” Axel said, his voice low “but will someone explain how that happened?” he gestured at Axra.
“Bonnie, perhaps you can explain how you let my daughter get that wounded while you’re barely scratched?”
“It was…” Bonnie began.
“It was my fault!” Lilly interrupted. “I… I went with her but I… I couldn’t protect her… I…”
Axel moved his hand back as though preparing to hit the young ranger.
“No,” Twila said. “It was my fault. If I hadn’t gotten captured then none of this would have happened.” She lowered her head. “Please, forgive me.”
“Leave it at that,” Lexine said. Axel turned to face her. “Your daughter is going to be okay, Reira is tending her wounds. So, don’t say or do anything you’ll regret, ‘King’ Axel.”
Axel glared at her for a moment before looking away. “Very well. I will let it go this time.”
Isaac, Moira and Jayko stood in a circular chambre, examining a half-collapsed arc-like structure.
“A way gate?” Lulu asked, approaching them.
Isaac nodded. “It looks like they destroyed it during their escape, though.”
“Can you find out where they went?” Lulu inquired.
“I couldn’t,” Isaac said. “But there are stronger mages than I. Mages who could.”
“You could if you hadn’t wasted so much time learning and practicing swordplay too,” Moira said. “but don’t worry, I’ve got it.”
She stood in front of it and chanted, eyes closed for several minutes. Finally, a light blue energy trail appeared in front of them, vanishing in seconds. “I know where their base is.” She said.
Lulu nodded. “Good, let’s finish them and be done with it.”