The Darwin Chronicles, Book One: The Mountain Ranges

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Chapter 12

Emmett woke up that night to loud ringing of the bell. It was a panicked ringing with no sequence whatsoever, not the orderly BONGS that signaled for a certain squadron using a mallet, or the metallic tings of metal on metal calling the village to evacuate in case of fire, or for those who weren't soldiers to evacuate in case of monster attacks. He went to the window, where Isaac was already watching, mouth open.

"What?" Emmett asked. An ear-blasting roar made both boys covered their ears. "What is that?!"

"Dragon!" Isaac shouted back. They grabbed their weapons and ran outside in their sleepwear.

"Emmett!" Norie cried, grabbing his arm as they ran their families.

"We have to help!" Emmett told her, pulling away.

The square was ablaze and in chaos. People scrambled around, like little ants that had been blown on. A huge black and red dragon trampled around, blowing fire everywhere.

"Emmett!" Darren yelled at his son. Emmett started towards him, but stopped. A plank of wood fell right on Darren's head from one of the burning houses, knocking him out.

"Dad!" Emmett shouted, scrambling towards his father. Joseph reached them at the same time.

"Pete, get Darren to safety! Emmett, can you sense if it's a Legend?!" Joseph asked him.

"I don't know! No one ever told me how," Emmett told him. He was distracted by a wail of agony, and turned to see his sister on her knees, holding her badly burnt face in pain, still wailing. He ran to her and put his arms around her. "Norie!" He shouted into her ear. She ignored him, still crying. "Norie! Look at me!" He pulled her hands from her face, and what he saw made his blood rush in rage. Half of her pretty face was blistered and bleeding and even steaming. Who was it that had hurt his little sister? "Norie, get to Mom! You hear me?! Get to Mom! She's going to help you! I'll be okay! Everything's going to be okay! You hear me?!" She nodded, still sniffling, and he kissed the cheek that wasn't burnt. "Norie, you're going to be okay! Go!" Norie stood and ran away from the square. Emmett stood, facing the dragon, and shot an arrow at its wing. The wing-it seemed already injured, and so did one of its legs. Was it possible-?

A column of flames soared towards him, and he quickly rolled aside, and shot another arrow, and sprinted towards the dragon, swinging his sword into its already-injured leg, anger for his sister burning through his veins. It roared in pain and shrunk down to a girl in a cloak and nightgown, ripping two arrows out of her bandaged arm. Her cries of pain reminded him of his sister and angered him more.

"What the hell?!" Emmett screamed at her. "What are you doing?"

"Emmett!" Joseph put his hand on his shoulder. "I'll handle this. Step aside." He stepped closer to Amelia calmly. "Amelia. What's going on?"

She was tugging on something around her neck. She looked up at them, and what they saw sent shivers down their spines.

Evil. Pure evil. Around her neck was a shadow serpent fang, which was glowing purple. Her grey eyes were now the same shade of purple.

"What's going on?" Isaac pushed passed Emmett to get to the girl, but Joseph put out an arm to stop him.

"The Ciis is rising," Amelia told them. She sounded like she usually did, yet...different. Her usually silvery voice was now slightly scratchy, and laced with evil. "And there's nothing you can do to stop us. We and the monsters will take over this earth. We will take you over, gather your strongest forces and have them join us, starting with your precious Legends." She laughed, and the purple glow from her eyes and the fang faded, and she collapsed to the floor.

"What does that mean?" A young man named Daniel said.

"What is the Ciis?" Another young man, Phil, asked. Joseph's expression darkened.

"Take her to the dungeons. Lock her there. We'll get some answers in the morning. We have to take care of the wounded. And....our dead."

"She killed people?" Isaac demanded.

"A number. More than twenty of our people, Blackfire and Briarlight residents alike, were burned alive or trampled. Many, many more are wounded."

Emmett and Isaac returned home to find their families crying.

"What's this?" Emmett asked.

"Your father," Eliza whispered. "Oh, Emmett. Your father's dead."

"What?" Emmett stood in the doorway, stunned. Isaac shot him a sympathetic look. He realized that what they were crowded around was his father's body. He dove torwards the floor, pushing the others out of the way.

His father. A trickle of blood ran from his mouth, as did his head. His skin was cold, and his limbs were stiff. But his eyes. Those leaf green eyes. They were the same as Emmett's. But the only difference was, his stared blankly at the ceiling. Lifeless. Unseeing. And that's what killed Emmett. He utterly crumpled, his heart shattering like glass, into a million pieces. And, like glass, Emmett wouldn't be able to ever put it back together. Not completely.

"No," he said, his voice heavy with grief. "No. He's not dead. He can't be dead!"

"I'm sorry, Emmett." Isaac said softly. Rage flew into Emmett's shattered remains of his heart, making him want to scream. To kill. To break.

"HE'S NOT DEAD!" Emmett screamed, leaping to his feet. He ran to his room and grabbed a few of his glass dragons ornaments off his shelves, smashing them to bits, screaming. He knew it was scaring everybody. He knew. But he didn't care. He smashed the figures to smithereens, hating his father for leaving him, hating his mother and sister for just sitting there and crying, hating Isaac for feeling sorry for him, hating Amelia for what she had done. He couldn't forgive her. He couldn't forgive anyone. His father was dead, and that's what hurt, that's what mattered. He screamed a final bloodcurdling scream and punched the wall, his hands bloody with bits of glass stuck in them. And he broke down, sinking onto his bed. He needed his father to talk to, but his father wasn't there. His hands stung, the house was silent. His violent sobs echoed in the empty house where it wasn't empty, but it was.

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