See Part 1 here.
Delia walked up to the edge of the moat as Kaya stood a little to her right and behind her to back her up if necessary. Delia wiped her hands on her trousers then focused as she raised her hands. Her mouth was so dry her tongue was sticking to the roof of her mouth. She refocused on the yellow bands, her energy forming the green magic. At the point when she thought she couldn’t hold the magic any longer, she released it, watching it flow across the moat and cover the yellow bands. She kept feeding the magic, urging it to cover every yellow line, smother it, eliminate it.
Beside her Kaya had her hands raised as well, green power circling her hands, ready to assist if needed. “You can do it,” she whispered.
Delia gave a brief nod. She had to stay focused. It wasn’t long before every yellow line was covered but something was wrong. “It doesn’t feel right.”
“What do you mean?” Kaya looked at her, eyebrows high.
“It’s not the same magic we practiced on. It’s wrong.”
“What’s it doing?”
“Resisting, pushing back.” Her arms began to shake with the effort. “I’m not sure I can hold it.”
Kaya through her magic at the bands. Delia could feel the other elf’s strength and it helped but it wasn’t going to be enough. “We have to build a wall. This is going to blow back on us and the army.”
Kaya had beads of sweat running down her temples. “How did you hold this alone?”
“No idea.” She drew a shaky breath. “Can you hold a few moments while I build a protection shield?”
Delia could see Kaya’s entire body vibrate with her effort.
“A very short time.”
“Here I go.” Delia removed her green magic and using the edge of the moat in front of her as an anchor, began weaving yellow bands in a circle. Around and around she went. Behind her she could hear her father ordering the army back. That was a little relief. She continued to build—around and around until the yellow wall was two stories high. She whispered the command and dropped her arms. “Stop, Kaya!”
Kaya fell to the ground, panting just as the protection on the gate flashed. Delia was knocked backward off of her feet, a wave of energy passing by, ruffling the grass and shaking nearby bushes. The army behind her roared. She twisted around to see what was happening.
Out of holes in the ground elves came running, dressed all in black, she could see that most of them had auras dark as night. Shaking, Delia realized that she and Kaya were on the wrong side of that mass of elves.
She crawled over to Kaya who was lying limp on the ground. “We must move!”
“The black elves are attacking from hidden tunnels. We’re on the wrong side. Move!”
Delia helped her to her feet and the two began working their way to the left at the edge of the moat. They hunched over, hoping to avoid being seen. Delia desperately wished for some bushes for cover but of course, none would be found this close to the moat. “We have to get far enough around the castle to cut back to the forest.”
“Yes.” Kaya was breathing harshly.
Delia didn’t like the sound of it but there was nothing she could do about it at the moment. Ahead, she could see the dust rising from Mystesto’s force. “Look. The same thing happened to them.”
Kaya raised her head. “Not good.”
“Not at all. We’ll try and cut into the forest here.”
Kaya nodded and did her best to move quickly. Delia tried to see all around her. Nothing was coming up behind them. Nothing was coming from Mystesto’s direction either. They were closing in on the tree line. She began to think they were going to make it.
They ran into the shade, a blessing in itself. Kaya struggled to stay on her feet. “I have to rest.”
Delia found a tree and helped Kaya sit, back against the trunk, on the side away from the fighting. She glanced around. They were alone. She knelt next to the apprentice. “Can you tell me what hurts?”
“Everything. I used the last of my strength to hold that spell.” Kaya stopped, breathing hard. “Then when the spell snapped, even with your shield, it felt as though I’d been whipped.”
Delia took a look at Kaya’s aura. It was very faded. “I’m sorry. You’ve been injured in a way I don’t know how to fix.”
“I just need rest. It’ll come back.”
Delia sat back on her heels. They were in a fix. She couldn’t carry Kaya. Two forces were fighting on either side of them. Neither of them had more than simple eating knives on them and they were cut off from their own side. Delia pressed her fingers to her temples as though that would generate an idea. All she could feel was panic.
“Take a breath.”
Delia shook her head with confusion. “What?”
“Take a deep breath,” Kaya said weakly. “I can see you’re panicking. Just take a breath.”
Delia felt like a selfish child that the injured elf had to comfort her. “Sorry. I don’t know what to do.”
“That’s fine. We’ll get out of this.”
Delia nodded. She refrained from asking how. She held Kaya’s hand. “Of course, we will.” As they sat, she listened to the battles on either side of them. The clang of sword on shield or sword on sword was loud. There was screaming, too, though she tried not to dwell on that. She worried about her father and the ambush. Was he safe? What about Mage Kaepli and Sisruo? Delia fought back the tears of fear and grief. Stop being a baby. You can’t stay here. Move! “We need to move, Kaya. We’re too close to the castle and the battle.”
“Let’s go then.”
Delia helped her to her feet and they did their best to move quietly through the forest. “It’s just a mile to our camp,” Delia whispered. “Do you think you can go that far?”
They edged around a large bush and just beyond it, Delia heard a snap. She turned around and out of the bush emerged four male elves, dressed all in black like the ambushers. There must be a tunnel in that bush, she thought, just before one of the elves raised his hand and threw a blue ball of magic at them. She didn’t have time to untangle herself from Kaya. The ball hit them. Her last thought was, No!
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 29.
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