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Chapter 29: Conflicted

They thought the storm would hide them and that they would catch Sebastian while he was asleep and vulnerable. They should have known that would never go smoothly. If the static hadn’t woken him the ominous feeling of evil in the air would have.

They were as ready as they could be. A shield of ice protected them if only for the moment. Sebastian was in contact with all the water in the sewers beneath them. It wasn’t pure sea water and left an unpleasant tang in his mouth but it would do.

It began when the storm touched the ice barrier. The first blast of what Sebastian knew to be lava hit the ice and created the beginnings of cracks. Not a good sign.

Then something worse happened, there was a movement out of the corner of Sebastian’s eye and he looked back to see Darcy and Alina disappear in a flash of light.

“Where are they going? It’s not safe! They need to…” there was an explosion of shards as the ice dome shattered and Sebastian had to throw a wall of water up to stop the shards hitting anyone. Shaft bent her knees and then jumped up above Sebastian and into the looming storm clouds.

The clouds parted as Shaft blew them away and revealed three Peacemakers including one figure in a black robe that Sebastian knew was Gabrielle.

He recognized the other Peacemakers as Francis and Casper. The two who had tried to kidnap him once before. Those two weren’t like the majority of the army, they wanted to be there.

Of course Sebastian was more powerful but they had caught him by surprise last time and no one should have been able to do that. He knew they were more cunning than they appeared. Especially with Gabrielle there as well.

Francis might be problematic. Air was a powerful and potentially deadly element. Whoever fought him had to keep their wits about them, that Sebastian was sure of.

“Looky looky, Francis it’s water boy! Standing all by himself!” Casper had noticed him at last. Uncle must have chased after the Twins because he was no longer anywhere nearby.

“You got lucky last time, don’t think I’ll make the same mistake twice mmpf!” while Sebastian had been trying to distract them with empty promises of revenge Francis was already attacking.

They were still floating in the air where the cloud had been, but now they were getting blurry as Francis cut off Sebastian’s air supply. He would have berated himself for not being careful if he had the breath to do so.

Can’t… See…C-Can’t… Breathe…

“Blue? Blue wake up!” Sebastian opened his eyes as his airway opened again and he heaved one deep breath after another until his vision cleared. Shaft was there and she had given him back his air.

“I’ve got these two… It wasn’t easy, but you aren’t dying on my watch” Sebastian saw Casper hanging upside down behind Shaft looking very cross. Francis was in a similar position. Power didn’t equal victory unless you knew how to use it.

Sebastian shook his head to clear the lingering dizziness and looked to see where Gabrielle was. His stomach dropped when he saw her standing about a hundred metres from Alina.

Darcy was on the other side and they both had their hands on the ground. They must be trying to trap her again only Gabrielle wouldn’t stand there if she knew… Something clicked in his brain. She knew, she was letting them get close. Lightning can strike in more than one place at a time.

Sebastian ran towards Alina just as Gabrielle smirked and lifted up her hands. The ground trembled as a wall of earth blocked the lightning from hitting Darcy but Sebastian and his shielding water were about a second too late.

No! Alina was flat on her back, the light coming from her hands fading, burnt from arm to shoulder. There was silence for a moment as Gabrielle stood back and surveyed the damage she had caused with a smile on her face.

Where was Darcy? Sebastian looked over to the earth wall and he saw black tentacles trailing over the top. Gabrielle was about to feel the full force of a shadow Elemental. Alina was the most precious thing in the world to him.

“You. Hurt. My. Twin. You are nothing against the dark!” Darcy’s disembodied voice seemed to come from all directions. A flicker of fear crossed Gabrielle’s fact and Sebastian didn’t blame her. Darcy was scaring him as well and he wasn’t even the target.

Gabrielle’s shadow bulged and then wrapped itself around her body and trapped her in place. Almost see through hands reached up and held her arms by her sides preventing her from moving.

Out of the liquid blackness Darcy appeared, black energy seeping off him like smoke and his eyes harder than diamond. He was barely up to Gabrielle’s shoulders. Yet he was more terrifying than ten of her.

“You are going to see things now, and I promise they will not be nice things!” trailing black hands opened Gabrielle’s mouth against her will. She was truly shaking now, as the black energy poured into her.

She screamed and shook as whatever Darcy was doing took hold of her. Behind Sebastian uncle was tending to Alina’s wound. Sebastian’s eyes were locked on the blackness around Darcy.

Shaft stood beside him and they watched the scene together for a moment. Before Daniel walked past them and put one hand on Darcy’s shoulder. Something that Sebastian would never have dared to do while he was surrounded by tentacles and malicious looking hands.

“My shadow, she will be alright, you can stop now. Do you hear me? It’s ok to stop” for a moment Sebastian hoped that he wouldn’t. That Gabrielle would suffer until she begged for mercy. Then he felt bad for wishing Darcy would continue to torture her.

The black energy faded from around both Gabrielle and Darcy as he calmed down. Gabrielle slumped on all fours while Darcy ran over to his sister. Sebastian turned to Alina and saw that Darcy was almost in tears. Something Sebastian would never have thought possible.

“Ali… I’m here, I’ve got you” he held his sisters hand and even though she was still unconscious Sebastian hoped she knew Darcy was there.

“This is what you get… For whatever that was!” Gabrielle was still shaky but she was in no way beaten. Before Sebastian could fully turn around she threw one pure bolt of lightning straight towards Darcy.

Sebastian opened his hand to yell for Darcy to watch out but before he could a dome of earth formed around them. Protecting all five of them. Uncle was on his knees with both hands on the ground as he held the dome up.

There was the sizzle of multiple lightning strikes and Sebastian saw in the darkness that his Uncle was starting to sweat. Odd. Since he hadn’t used much power today and maintaining the dome shouldn’t be hard work.

“Come out here and fight! You only hide because you know that you will lose!” Gabrielle was trying to bait them into coming out. She could not penetrate the earth dome nor could she reach them inside it.

“Uncle? Are you alright?” Sebastian watched as green cracks grew up his Uncle’s legs. Like a creeping web of power crackling its way up until it was past his knees. Daniel was wincing in pain but he held the dome up, stubbornly refusing to let go.

“Shaft, something is wrong with him! We have to get out of here!” Sebastian wanted to stay and fight, but Alina was hurt and staying here was doing something to his uncle. He would not let anyone put themselves at risk against Gabrielle. That was only something he should have to do.

He drew water out of the ground beneath them until it was bone dry. He just needed to distract Gabrielle.

“Darcy, I know Alina is your priority, but I need you to get everyone out of here while I keep Gabrielle distracted. I don’t care where you take them, just find somewhere safe” he didn’t know if Darcy was strong enough to transport four people. At this point, he could only hope.

“But…” Darcy wasn’t sure either, there was doubt hovering on the edges of his voice. Sebastian needed him to do this, they had no other choice. He drew a deep breath and prepared to reassure the young Elemental.

“My uncle trusts your abilities, and that means more than you know, he still doesn’t trust mine” Daniel had complete faith in the light and shadow twins but he was more hesitant with Sebastian. It almost didn’t seem fair since Sebastian was older, but they were stronger.

“I don’t like you, but Daniel and Shaft kept Ali and I safe… I can get them out of here” it was probably the closest to an actual conversation that Darcy and Sebastian were ever likely to have.

“Alright, I won’t hang around after you’re gone, I have to make sure Gabrielle doesn’t know until the last moment” if she realized they were trying to leave she might hurt them. Or try to follow them.

He touched the wall of the earth dome and felt the heat from multiple lightning strikes running through its shell. He soaked his water into its crevices and with the help of the water he stepped through the wall and out the other side.

He immediately had to raise one water covered hand to block a lightning strike from Gabrielle. She stood alone, her other Peacemakers subdued earlier in the battle before everything went wrong.

She was battered and left quite disturbed from whatever Darcy had made her see. Her eyes held a slightly haunted look, it was interesting that she would fear the Nine-year-old more than anyone else she had fought. Even Sebastian did not invoke terror in her.

“Sebastian the hero, do you want a repeat of last time? When your friends and family had to come save you?” Sebastian gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the barbed comments. He had fallen for her bait before, he couldn’t afford to lose his temper now.

“How many times are you going to let them put themselves in danger for you?” the one thing he hated the most about facing Gabrielle was that she knew him. In the months he’d taught her she had learned so many of his weaknesses.

“They chose to come and help me, I notice barely any of the people who are helping you chose to be here” Francis and Casper aside, most of the Peacemakers served under intense fear for their lives. Most, had been scared by Eric into joining.

“Yeh, well…” Gabrielle couldn’t even come up with a comeback for that one. Sebastian wondered if it was lonely, commanding an army who would desert you given the opportunity.

“They don’t want to help you Gabrielle, you should stop this, free them and give up, after all this was what Fairless wanted you don’t have to…” Sebastian didn’t get to finish his sentence. At that moment there was a rumble from behind him.

The earth dome collapsed, there was no one left inside. Darcy had taken the chance and left with the others. It was now just him and Gabrielle, something that had never ended well in the past.

“The one thing I cannot do, the one thing you should never ask me to do, is give up” there was a single tear running down Gabrielle’s face but Sebastian couldn’t tell what had caused it. Had he struck a nerve?

“I’d stay and chat, but if you don’t want to give up its not safe for me to be here” he didn’t want to leave, but if he stayed she would hurt him. Of that he had no doubt. He had to keep reminding himself that she was a traitor, that she was now the enemy.

He wouldn’t have stayed and had a nice conversation if she was her father, and he needed to treat her as equally as dangerous. Because she was choosing that path. If she no longer wanted that she needed to be the one to make that decision.

“Next time, don’t expect me to leave you uncaptured and alive” he turned away from her and asked the water to take him to his family. He had a feeling that she wouldn’t stop him leaving, He’d shaken her, best to leave before she recovered.

I could stay and fight and I might even win but last time, I had to choose between you and my family and I chose you. They could have died because of me. Not this time.

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