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Chapter 28

After Kalama and I talked we went our separate ways to start preparing for the battle. When I went back to the tent, Storm was still somewhere with Camden, so I started to dig through the weapons and suits that I had. Since I was still wearing a red suit I changed into my black one. We were sneaking around trying not to get caught. I also made sure to tie my boots as securely as I could.

Then I started with the weapons, starting to strap on holsters and such for the plethora of knives I had packed. I secured some to my thighs, around my waist, and a baldric of them across my one shoulder. I made sure my sword was secure after I had filled all of my sheaths, and slid a dagger into each boot.

Then I grabbed a hair tie out of my bag and attempted to put my hair into a braid. I failed, so I decided to just do a simple loose ponytail. Storm came into the tent just as I was checking everything was secure. Storm smiled and shook his head when he saw me.

I glared at him and raised my eyebrow. “What?”

He chuckled a bit as he said, “Because you shouldn’t go into battle with a loose ponytail. I know it tends to happen a lot last minute, but you should braid your hair.”

I rolled my eyes at him. “I know.”

He smirked at my response. “You don’t know how, do you?” My crossed arms, and glare were answer enough. He walked over to the bedrolls to sit down and patted the spot in front of him. “Let me braid it for you?”

I sat down in front of him with a huff, and said, “Only if I have to.”

He laughed at me but started to do my hair. I relaxed a bit into his touch, and he started to finger comb my hair back.

“I learned to braid from my sister,” he said. “I used to have longer hair, just to my shoulders, when I was younger. Probably around when I was 10. And when I saw all of my sister’s elaborate braids I wanted to learn how to braid. So she taught me.”

I could imagine young Storm with longer hair. It was sort of ridiculous, how he looked, and how close we had become since we first met. “I can just imagine little you with longer hair, constantly annoying your sister to teach you to braid.”

He made an offending sound behind me, “I did not annoy my sister.”

I scoffed. “I may biologically be an only child, but I was the oldest out of my adopted sisters. Sophie bugged me constantly to teach her stuff, and Chloe didn’t care enough to even talk to me.” I sadly smiled at the thought. Even though they were only a few months younger than me, Sophie constantly bugged me yo teach her things. She was best at what I wasn’t good at. Like braiding hair. “You know when I was younger, Sophie used to braid my hair. I was never any good at the ‘girly’ things like hair and makeup, and such. Although my internal feminist hates calling them girly things, because everyone does them, just some put in more effort. Anyway, after she died I attempted to braid my hair a few times but would ultimately fail. I haven’t really worn a braid since, because I was so bad at it, and because I didn’t trust anyone enough to do it.”

He continued to braid my hair and used the hair tie he had taken out to secure my braid. “You’re planning something.”

I tense at his words and turn to face him. I turn myself completely around, so we were both sitting cross-legged, knee to knee. I wanted to tell him, but if I tell him about the conversation I had with Kalama, the plan that we had made, he would try to save me. And I wasn’t someone who needed saving, especially not at the expense of my family.

Storm waits for me to starts talking, trusting me enough to start talking. So I do. “I think these guys are going to betray us. But we can’t give up the opportunity of knowing where their headquarters is. But I have a plan in place that will work. I’m going to get Kalama to open a portal to the Academy if we’re attacked, and get everyone through it. I need you to go in first and make sure that it’s safe on the other side. I’m going to go through last.”

He nodded along with what he said. “Why do you need me to go first?”

“Well, Kalama is going to be too busy maintaining the portal, Camden will be a big help keeping the attackers away because he can literally blow them away, and Raphael can burn them, like me. Also, you’re one of the better fighters here, so it makes sense to have you go first, with me and Raphael being the last.” Some of what I said was bullshit, but it did make sense that he go first. If he’s first he can make sure everything is okay and deal with it before anyone else goes through.

I stand up and look outside to see the sun setting. I turn back to Storm to say, “It’s getting close to the time to leave. We should go and check that everyone’s ready.”

Storm nodded, and we walked out of the tent to search and observe, making sure everyone was ready. I started to look for Kalama while Storm went to look for Camden. I found Kalama talking with some creatures around the fire, putting her weapons on as she talked. She had always been very social.

I approach her, tapping her on the shoulder to get her attention. “Hey. You all ready to go?”

Kalama nodded. “Yeah. These guys invited me over to get ready, and talk. Turns out creatures of all kinds are like us, who think, talk, interact, just like humans. No wonder they’re fighting for equality, even the ‘dark’ creatures think like us. They just want to be able to live without prejudice.”

I nodded. “And that’s why we need their help. That’s why we’re fighting for them. Anyway, we need to get into our attacking group at the portal.” I nodded towards the creatures still strapping on gear. “I know I’m not your lieutenant, but you should finish suiting up, and get going to the portal.” They acknowledged me and finished suiting up. Kalama and I started back towards our tents after she finished strapping on her twin daggers. She also slung a staff around her, her weapon of choice. We met Camden and Storm along the way and continued to meet Raphael at the portal, where everyone was split up into groups.

It was something that the Lieutenant and I had figured was most effective since we needed a distraction, but the five of us weren’t going to be able to effectively make it far enough with just us. So we had split into groups of about 5-10. Together we made a group, but there was another group of ten creatures that were going to join us.

Once it looked like everyone was gathered the Lieutenant made a short speech, saying to stick to the plan, remember your part, and call for backup if it’s needed. Once he was finished he gathered those who were opening the portals and opened it. We were the last group to go in, with the people who had opened the portal right behind us.

When I stepped through I led my group, Kalama right behind us, to a wall that the Lieutenant said would be best to wait for the distraction. we had to sneak our way over to the wall, a gate close by. I scanned our surroundings, making sure that there weren’t any guards or such waiting for us. When I didn’t see anyone I emerged from the copse of trees that was separate from the wall.

We ran until we hit the wall, turning so our backs were against the wall. Then we just had to keep an ear out for the distraction. We just had to wait for the first bomb to go off.

Once we heard the first bomb we rushed through the gate. We still had to sneak our way through because there were still guards, creatures rushing around the area. There was a servant’s entrance a bit to the side of the main entrance through this gate, so we made our way there.

Just as we were reaching the servant’s entrance, a few creatures came out of the shadows. With Raphael and Kalama guarding our backs I heard their murmured sounds of surprise. I looked behind me to see that there was a group of creatures blocking the exit. Before I knew it, we were completely surrounded by creatures.

I unsheathed the swords on my back. We had been betrayed.

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