It’s so red. It’s just so red, she thought as she looked down at her hands covered in Cristianos’ blood. Sandriel’s breathing was ragged. She was in shock. She looked to her left and saw Lauriel shaking. She needed to comfort her sister, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave Cristianos’ side. He was the first person they had trusted and now he was going to die for defending them. Another ambush. Will we ever be safe? she thought. As his head rested in her lap, she looked into Cristianos’ eyes and saw nothing but pain. She placed her little hand on his large chest and she could feel his shallow breath.
“We have to move, we can’t stay here,” she whispered. He nodded in response and tried to stand, the arrow protruding from his right arm still oozing blood.
“Count to three and pull it out,” he said.
One...two...three... she counted to herself before pulling the arrow from his arm. She fully expected him to scream out and give away their position, but he just winced as a tear fell from his left eye. She ripped a piece of the cloth from her dress to bind the wound and helped him stand, putting his arm over her shoulder. Grabbing her sister with her left hand, they made their way slowly through the forest as quietly as they could, until they came to a clearing and Sandriel stopped. Whoever was sending these men would stop at nothing it seemed. She looked at her sister and Lauriel gestured with her hands to wait. Lauriel looked beyond the safety of the tree line as she sniffed the air and searched the ground for tracks. Listening intently, Lauriel took one tentative step forward before stopping abruptly. Something was wrong. Sandriel searched but couldn’t find anything. She began to move, but her sister was adamant they needed to stay still and Sandriel listened. Motionless, and just hidden inside the trees, movement across the clearing caught their attention. Horrified, Sandriel immediately recognized the garb of another squad of assassins. They wore the same dark hooded cloaks and had crossbows at the ready. Ok, ok, relax. Deep breath. Laurie needs you to be strong, she thought. She began searching her memory for any spells that could help them, but couldn’t concentrate. Lauriel stood at her side and grasped her hand, the instant contact strengthening her resolve. I have my sister, we must stay safe, Sandriel thought.
The sky overhead began to darken as storm clouds rolled in and a light rain began to fall. The squad didn’t seem to notice them, so they remained still as the threat passed through the clearing and into the tree line opposite the girls. As she was beginning to relax, thinking the squad had missed them, Sandriel caught movement from the corner of her eye. A split second later, she saw an arrow flying toward her sister. Without thinking, she raised her hand and her eyes glowed a faint green as she yelled, “Noooooo!” A green energy appeared in front of Lauriel, like a shield, deflecting the attack. Wide eyed and shocked, Lauriel staggered back momentarily before realizing the true danger. She held tightly to her sister as they sprinted across the clearing while Cristianos fumbled as fast as he could behind them. Almost there, almost there. Just get to the trees, she thought. They were only halfway across the clearing before another arrow soared, catching Cristianos in his side.
“Stop!” yelled a deep voice. Sandriel turned to see a dwarfish man no taller than herself run forward. Three other men outpaced him, one subduing Cristianos in a headlock, his left arm bent at an awkward angle, while the other men closed off their escape. Sandriel could see they were trapped. She held tight to Lauriel as one of the men came closer. His face was shielded by his hood, but a long brown beard spilled from his chin. He had stubby fingers and only stood a foot taller than her. He made no comment and only grunted as he ripped the girls apart. He threw Sandriel to the ground, while holding tightly to Lauriel.
“Leave us alone!” Sandriel shouted.
From across the field, the man with the deep voice approached. “Well, well, well. Iz zat wha we wuz lookin’ fer? Come right on us, ye did. Lucky us,” he bellowed.
Lauriel looked her sister deep in the eye before kicking her captor in the shin. He grunted but didn’t release her.
The deep voiced man chuckled and said, “Feisty one, she is. Might need to snuff her, only needs one anyway.” The man holding Lauriel nodded and smacked her to the ground before removing a dagger from his side.
Sandriel tensed. The anger of her father’s death rushed to her. The injury of their friend Cristianos, the relentless feeling of helplessness and the threat to her sister overcame her. The whites of her eyes seemingly vanished as her pupils began to shine a brilliant emerald green. Her skin had an angelic glow as her whole body produced sparks of electricity, traveling all over her small frame. The rain began to pour violently around them. A storm wind of savage air whipped through the clearing, pushing back several men as one of them released their hold on Cristianos. Thunder crashed so loudly the men could barely be heard. Between the claps of thunder, the only words audible from her now nervous captor were, “What are ye?” Sandriel was lifted inches from the ground. She stood upright as jagged wings of electricity unfurled from her back. Just before a flash of lightning shot down from the sky, a small electric halo crowned her head. The bolt of lightning struck at the assassin who had slapped her sister, then arched over to each other man. The fury of the strike matched the intensity of her anger, leaving four smoldering bodies.
Cristianos was awestruck. “This is why they are after you. You said your father was human but what was your mother? It could be....but they’re so rare...” he stammered mostly to himself. Cristianos looked weak. He scanned the field; even with that display of power he knew it hadn’t killed those men, some were already starting to twitch and move.
“You have to go,” he yelled. “You and your sister need to get as far from here as possible. This is bigger than I thought.” He threw the lute that hung from his side to Lauriel and said, “Run. Stick to the trees until you get outside of Devonshire Woods. Nature will protect you.” He looked like he would fall over but somehow he stood up, took a deep breath, managed a smile and said “I’ll hold them off, my little fauns, now go.”
Lauriel noticed he still held the stick that was always in his left hand. She had never thought anything of it before, but she watched as with a flourish it elongated and became a bo staff. He twirled it a couple times before taking a defensive stance and waving for the girls to leave. She didn’t want to leave him, but she knew what must happen, her sister was barely standing after that display of power. How did she do that, Lauriel thought. Most times she had to look at their mothers spellbook to remember complicated spells, but this time she had just reacted to the man hitting her. Can I do that too? she asked herself. There were so many questions, but she jumped to her feet and grabbed her shaking sister. Once again, they were fleeing for their lives.
Sandriel woke with a shock. She was exhausted. Aching all over, she could barely hold her eyes open. She didn’t know where she was, but she was lying in a bed. All she remembered was her sister being struck and falling to the ground. Laurie, where is Laurie! she thought in a panic. Then she felt a small hand on her shoulder, and her sister brought her into an embrace. Sandriel turned to face her sister and Lauriel looked back, gesturing over her heart. She brought two fists together and motioned pulling something down. “I don’t understand. I was strong?” asked Sandriel. “I don’t remember doing anything. I just remember that man hitting you. Are you ok?” Lauriel brushed off her shoulders and wiped her face, then went into a long explanation in hand gestures before Sandriel stopped her. “Lightning? I can’t control lightning. And what do you mean my eyes glowed? That’s never happened before with my magic. And I couldn’t even think of a spell to cast,” replied Sandriel. She looked around and noticed they were inside of a home. Where were they? she thought. A small fire had been built in the hearth and she could smell something simmering in a pot. The small windows were closed so she couldn’t tell what time of day it was. The dwelling was a one room area with two windows on either side and the fireplace to her right. The walls were made of stone and there was a simple wood floor. There wasn’t much in the way of furniture, besides the small bed that Sandriel woke up in, a table with two chairs, a bookcase and two rocking chairs in front of the fire with a small side table between them.
“Where are we Laurie? How did we even get here and how long was I asleep?” asked Sandriel. Her sister looked at her and frowned in consideration before signing to her an explanation. She explained how the first couple of hours they ran in a barely lucid haze. Sandriel had reacted to questions and commands but hadn’t said a word since the lightning. Lauriel pushed them onward and followed the signs of the forest; Animals would stop before them and point to the way they needed to go. Flowers would bloom in patches that led a path for them. As night fell a gray owl guided their way until he perched on the windowsill of this small cottage. No one had been home and the door was unlocked. Once they had stopped, she said Sandriel had collapsed. Lauriel explained she had kept a vigil at her side for two days now, venturing out carefully to the nearby city only for necessities. Lauriel was starting to think the worst until just now when she had awakened.
“It makes no sense,” said Sandriel. “How could I have done that? And how did you do magic before? Why are we so special? Papa was just a tinkerer. He fixed clocks and watches.”