Sparks flew from Sadow’s eyes. “What?” He demanded. He was so enraged that he nearly forgot to enchant his voice.
“It weren’t our fault,” Femre protested. “Brat had a dragon or a harpy or somethin helpin er.”
“You’re certain?” Sadow asked.
“What else can fly?” Femre countered.
“Flight,” Sadow muttered. “Indeed, what else could have flown? My master will be most disappointed by this news.”
“Tell im not to worry none,” Femre stated. “Me an the boys, we’ll get er back.”
“He’ll be most relieved to hear that,” Sadow stated. He left Femre to his own devices and returned to his carriage. He until it was in motion to bring Laina out.
“The draconian came to her rescue,” Sadow stated. “She acted faster than anticipated.”
“And what would you have me do about it?” Laina asked.
“I need to know, is this what you foresaw?” Sadow demanded.
“I foresaw your death at the hands of a draconian,” Laina stated. “The events leading to it were not mine to see.”
“So I just have to survive against this final one,” Sadow muttered. “If I can do that…”
“Then you will have beaten fate itself,” Laina finished.
Sadow’s skeletal face smirked. He liked the sound of that. Very much indeed.
I was on my way to Het Wald to offer my services, thereby putting the elves in my debt, when they struck.
The fireball hit me from behind, pushing me into the ground. I struggled to retain consciousness.
“It’s the draconian who kidnapped the princess!” I heard a voice declare.
“Hurry. We have to finish hir.”
I was unable to rise and I slipped into oblivion.
My mind burned. There is no other term to adequately describe it. It was as though some force beyond mortal ken reached into my very psyche and set alight a part of it.
I struggled to stay in flight, very nearly losing my grip and crashing. I would not, could not allow that to happen.
“Michael, what’s wrong?” There was a tinge of panic in Illyana’s voice, beneath the concern.
I needed to keep her safe. I landed as quickly as I could, setting her down before the pain became too much and I lost consciousness.
Just a moment ago we had been flying. I had been secure in his arms and everything had been fine. Then, he had started shaking. I’d felt him lower and he’d placed me on the ground and now I couldn’t get him to wake up.
Drake flew around me. “Michael.” I managed to find his hand and made my way up to his wrist, checking his pulse. It was still going strong, thankfully. Why had he collapsed like that? Exhaustion, maybe?
I went to work casting a protective spell around us. I wasn’t sure how long I could maintain it if we were actually attacked, but it would give us some measure of safety.
I listened to the sounds around us. Feeling very alone and very vulnerable.
“Lynai, I’m placing you in charge of the twelfth unit,” Lais said.
“Am I the best person for that?” I asked.
“Don’t worry,” she said, stroking my head. “You’re a good fighter and you know how to lead.”
“But won’t I be putting someone else out?” I asked.
Lais shook her head, sadly. “Former commander Liny lost her life repelling the trolls.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said, not sure what else to say. How can you more eloquently express condolences over someone you barely knew?
“She will be missed but we have to keep up the fight,” Lais said. “She, and the others who have fallen, gave their lives for our victory. All we can do is try to perform their jobs as well as they could have.”
“I’ll do my very best to honour her command,” I said, trying to keep the uncertainty out of my voice. I was used to giving orders, true, but I’d never done so in an actual battle.
“I’m assigning Miss Perom to guard duties,” Lais added. “I appreciate that she came this far for your sake but…”
“It’s not her fight,” I finished. I knew Callie would disagree and probably say something that would make my heart race to explain herself, but Lais nodded.
“That’s part of it, but there’s also the political aspect to consider. She is an important figure who was chosen by her people to represent them and we don’t need strained relations with Strecner right now. If she were hurt or killed it would be a problem.”
“Definitely!” I agreed. Lais gave me a quizzical look, making me wonder if I’d spoken too enthusiastically. “So, what’s the twelfth unit’s assignment?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“A dangerous one,” Lais stated. “We need to go on the offensive, but we also need to rebuild Het Wald’s defences. Several units are being sent to try and initiate aggressive action against Relna. The twelfth unit is one of them. You’ll have to be cautious. Don’t try to encroach into their territory too much. Just gain enough of a foothold that it’ll decidedly put them on the defensive.”
My head filled with questions. Was it a good idea to send a unit that had lost its commander on a mission like this? What other units would be sent? How far exactly did we need to go to meet the objective? I stopped myself from asking all of them. After all, coming back here to help had been my decision and this was the help they needed me to offer. Instead of asking questions, I nodded. “You can count on me.”
“I know,” Lais said. “Tonight, you’ll meet with the other commanders. Lang is in overall command of this operation so you should iron out the details of the attack with him.”
“You aren’t coming?” I asked. Lais was the finest warrior we had, it seemed like an odd decision to leave her behind.
“I’ll be directing the troop movements here,” Lais explained. I knew what she meant, in case we failed she was going to take care of the city defences. I had to remind myself that it was a sensible precaution.
“Good luck,” I said.
“To you also,” Lais said. “You’ll need it more than I.”