Inés slammed the door open. “Wake up, Ladies and Gent!” she cried. “We’re under attack!”
“What’s attacking and how many?” Sylvie asked, donning her armour.
“Caucasian eagles,” Inés answered. “And there also seem to be some chimeras and ladons on the ground.”
“What’s a ladon?” Serena asked.
“A large serpent,” Wilfred answered. “Kind of like a wyrm, but with vestigial wings, longer and thinner.”
The alarm activated as they arrived outside.
“Cousin, you take Sylvie and…” she glanced at Serena.
“Serena,” Inés said.
“Right, sorry,” Jenna said. “In any case, you three will take your pegasi and meet the eagles in the air. Lilac, Wilfred and I will go out to meet the ladons and chimeras. Gail will hang back and provide covering magic where it’s needed.”
“You mean up to the skies for the mortals,” Gail said. “Maybe Lilac or Wilfred should borrow one of the pegasi. Split the mortals between the teams.”
“I mean where it’s needed,” Jenna said.”And pegasi are very particular about their riders. Those ordinary mortals were chosen. Wilfred and Lilac weren’t. Be careful out there, Everybody. We aren’t immortal just because we have the blood of Gods in our veins.”
It wasn’t long before Blitz, Busk & Demure took to the air.
“Stay close, Ladies,” Inés advised.
“We just have to move in together, strike quickly and move back,” Sylvie stated. “Hit and run until we bring them down.”
“I am a bit worried,” Serena said. “They’re so big and Gail certainly doesn’t think much of our chances.”
“She’s underestimating you because you’re ordinary mortals,” Inés said. “But I’ll bet Jenna’s group will need her help more than we will.”
“You think so?” Serena asked.
“Absolutely,” Inés said. “She’s stuck with the people who have no real experience in battle.”
There were nine eagles in total heading towards them. Each one larger than the three of them and their pegasi combined. Serena held her tonfa close to her, trusting Dusk to keep steady. Sylvie held her rapier with one hand, holding Demure’s reigns with the other. Inés held out her staff with both hands, ready to jab any approaching eagles.
Jenna, Lilac and Wilfred moved to defend the wall. Standing between it and Echidna’s children. There were half a dozen each of the ladons and chimeras.
“Not all that many all things considered,” Jenna said. “I wonder if it’s just a scouting party.”
“Perhaps they’ve split their forces, attacking all the teams,” Wilfred stated.
“They wouldn’t,” Jenna insisted. “Not a full attack at any rate. They might be sending scouting parties to all groups, looking for a weak point they can exploit.”
“Then we just have to be stronger than some of the others,” Lilac said. “And they won’t try to strike at us.”
“Not that simple,” Jenna said. “When a concerted attack comes, other groups will be summoned to render assistance.”
“But at least we won’t be the ones who have to hold out,” Lilac said.
Wilfred put his zweihänder down and approached the creatures while the two ladies were talking. “Children of Echidna!” he called. “Don’t throw your lives away in a futile battle. If you have grievances, we’ll be willing to present them to the Gods on your behalf. We can settle this peaceably.”
“That idiot,” Jenna muttered. “Let’s go rescue him.”
A ladon broke away from the formation and slithered forward, lunging at Wilfred with its fangs bared. He reached for his blade, knowing he couldn’t get to it in time. A bolt of lightning soared over his head and split the ladon’s skull in twain, gore raining from the wound.
Gail looked at the other land attackers, trying to judge whether or not she should interfere further. The three of them seemed to be rallying and Wilfred had his zweihänder back in hand. She looked to the skies.
The first eagle dove at them. The three priestesses scattered. Then they moved together. Serena’s tonfa struck the eagle’s vent as Dusk moved skilfully past its claws. Sylvie’s rapier pierced its flank and Inés’ staff pushed into its crown. It plummeted uncontrollably, dashing into the ground below.
“Just eight to go!” Inés called. “Let’s mess em up!”
They got back into formation and flew towards the next eagle.
Below them, Gail had observed the quick skirmish. She smiled wryly. “Maybe they’re better than I gave them credit for,” she muttered. “But it’s still early in the battle.”