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Chapter 14

Nypre’s long sleep remained undisturbed by dreams, something he was grateful for. When he woke he couldn’t help but be relieved. His body was so sore all over that he could barely move, but he was alive. He took a look at his surroundings. He was in an uncomfortable bed against a wall. He took a look to his right and saw metal bars blocking his only way out. He was in a typical Tawarln prison, which meant he was in a town. Despite being in prison he was overjoyed. He was finally away from the night. He reached up and felt his face. His previous injury had been bandaged and taken care of. It still stung when he touched it.

“Ah, so the son of Wonik awakens,” a voice spoke out as a man walked into his sight. Gruff was the best way to describe him. He had a long beard, which covered his neck. It was the same color as his dark black hair. His face was covered in scars. He was a battle worn soldier, dressed in pristine leather hides for protection, and armed with a large blade that would take two hands to wield.

“Hello?” Nypre asked confused. It was still difficult to move, but he forced himself to sit upright. Talking made him realize how thirsty he was, and his thirst helped remind him of his hunger.

“You plan to finish what your mother started? There are still people alive, after all, “he asked cynically.

“What happened to my mother?” Nypre’s anger was apparent in his words.

“Originally we thought that she decided she had had enough of us inferior beings,” the soldier began explaining. He continued before Nypre could interrupt. “I didn’t buy it for a moment. She led an army out of the Night Land. I know from experience the Night Land can mess with people’s heads, control them. I believe she’s under the influence. Explains why she kept fighting even after being as gravely wounded as she was.”

“Gravely wounded?” Nypre asked horrified.

“Reports say her robe was stained red by her own blood as she pushed on from town to town, destroying them with her magic, while the army of men and beast that she led picked off any stragglers. The wind mages of our army tried to combat her, but we were not able to hurt her at all and she flew high above our swords’ reach. Makes you wonder how she received those wounds in the first place,” he sighed. “Anyway, I’m to determine if you and the others you arrived with are under the same control. First look appears you’re not.”

“We aren’t. One among us is a priestess from Lumin. Her prayers were able to counteract the Night Land’s effect on our minds,” Nypre explained. “Please, tell me more about my mother. Is it as bad as I’ve heard?”

“Priestess of Lumin. Never thought I’d see the offspring of a guardian wander around with one like that. I regret to say that Wonik has indeed been destroying town after town. We are lucky she ran out of energy and had to stop. It gives us time to evacuate,” The man explained.

“Evacuate? What do you mean?” Nypre asked.

“We contacted Aqnis with magic. She has already sent a small fleet of ships, which has just arrived, to take the survivors of this territory back to hers. Most of our people are already there. However there wasn’t enough room for all of us, so myself and a few others decided to stay behind and wait for the next ship to get here,” he explained.

“Wait, how long was I asleep?”

“You were asleep for one day and one night. We have plenty of soldiers from the army patrolling the night border, picking off any creatures that emerge. One of these patrols found you and the others. The boats will be arriving soon, so we’ve begun to recall the patrols. It was up to me to decide whether or not you and your friends would be joining us. Since you seem to be in your right mind, I think that can be arranged. The others are safe. We decided to separate you for safety reasons,” he let out a small chuckle.

“So, my brother and the others are okay then? Thank you. I’m Nypre by the way.” Nypre quickly realized he hadn’t even introduced himself to possibly the nicest person he had met since they had left Lumin.

“Nice to meet you Nypre, though I wish it were under better circumstances. I’m Tawarln,” Tawarln grinned. Nypre was shocked, this was Tawarln? He was definitely old enough to be the lord of the territory, but Nypre had never expected him to look like this. He also wouldn’t have expected the lord of the territory to be one of the last ones to leave.

“Lord Tawarln, it is an honor to meet you sir.” Nypre quickly stood to his feet, only to kneel in respect.

“Don’t worry about the formalities. I’m hardly a lord now that the Night Land has taken over my land,” Tawarln chuckled.

Tawarln summoned the jailer let Nypre out of the cell, and even apologized. The jailer seem wary of Tawarln’s decision, but obeyed regardless. He led Nypre outside to what was a small coastal town. The sun shined down beautifully, reflecting from the waves that rolled onto the shore. The town was indeed very small, consisting of only a couple of buildings, with a long dock jutting into the ocean. A man on horseback trotted up to Nypre and Tawarln.

“Sir, is that one of the sons of Wonik? What did he say?” the man asked curiously.

“He doesn’t know anything we don’t already know about Wonik,” Tawarln replied. “He does have some interesting news about the Night Land. How prayers to Ana are able to counteract the effect it has on our minds.”

“I’ll be happy to tell you everything I know. I just want to see my friends first,” Nypre told the truth.

“Of course, that’s where I was taking you before I was approached.” Tawarln grunted annoyed at the rider. He led Nypre away from the man on horseback without even saying a goodbye. Nypre walked alongside Tawarln surprised to see his lord act so improperly. The two of them approached another of the buildings. It had only one room, and appeared to be a small storage shed, and was locked from the outside. Fortunately, Tawarln had the key. Waiting inside the empty shack was an already conscious Deren, sitting there calmly.

“Nypre!” he called out in excitement upon seeing his brother. “We made it!”

“Deren!” Nypre was thrilled to see his brother. Tawarln smiled at the two boys’ reunion as they ran and hugged each other for just a moment before pulling away.

“Greetings Deren. I am Tawarln,” Tawarln grinned holding out his hand and shaking Deren’s. Deren quickly accepted the handshake before falling to his knee just as Nypre had. “You really are twins,” Tawarln laughed to Nypre. “You two wait here, I’ll go get the others.” Tawarln took his leave quite quickly, leaving Deren and Nypre alone.

“I’m surprised we’re alive, but it does make me wonder if this is all a dream,” Deren laughed forcefully, thinking of that creepy thought.

“I’ve been thinking that ever since Dustin,” Nypre admitted. “I’m just glad we’re finally out of the night.” Nypre let Deren know what was going on. How they were to wait with the other survivors of the Tawarln territory for the boat from the Aqnis territory, which would be arriving soon to take them to safety. They walked out of the shack to the center of town and waited for Tawarln to return. Both of them couldn’t help but feel truly happy for a moment. The sun was shining above them, they felt safe, and most importantly they were alive.

“Nypre, Deren!” Lina called out. The two boys looked and saw Lina running over to them. She wore her infamous priestess smile, but for the first time Nypre felt like it wasn’t false. Norris and Tawarln walked behind Lina, joining the rest of the group in a less enthusiastic way. Norris was already in his full armor, spear in hand.

“Lord Tawarln has been telling me and Norris what happened. We are lucky to be alive. He said the orders were to kill any who walked out of the night,” she said cheerfully.

“It’s true, I admit it,” Tawarln frowned. “Grim orders I know, but we’ve had more than one case where people pretended to escape the night only to backstab some of our good men. One among the patrols saw you four and decided to disobey my orders.”

“What is the name of this man? I want to thank him. He risked his position in your army and saved our lives,” Norris said seriously.

“Ah, he isn’t part of my army though. He goes by the name of Ryan, some kind of traveler,” Tawarln answered.

“Wait, Ryan? Here?” Deren blurted out. “That doesn’t make any sense. Where is he?”

“Don’t know. Shortly after saving you he disappeared. His horse and sword were found where he was staying, but there was no sign of Ryan. It’s as if he vanished. I fear the worst. He wouldn’t be the first one.” Tawarln let out a heavy sigh at the thought.

“I see,” Deren groaned. There was an awkward silence, broken only by another man on horseback approaching Tawarln.

“Sir. An army amasses at the border. They will be striking soon,” the man spoke with a disturbed tone. “We are already hopelessly outnumbered, and still more gather just across the border in the night.”

“I feared this would happen. The boat from Aqnis should be here shortly. We have to hold them off until then,” Tawarln responded as if were obvious. “Good job catching it this early, it gives our men time to suit up. Wake every soldier, we’ll need everyone.”

“Sir. I don’t mean to disobey, but those soldiers that are sleeping worked through the night. They’re exhausted. Asking them to fight is asking them to die,” the man countered.

“I’m not asking them to fight. Someone needs to assist the civilians and transport the wounded when the boat docks. Nypre, Deren, Norris. I ask you three to help them if you’d be willing,” Tawarln ordered.

“Understood, I will gather the soldiers.” the man rode off on horseback without another word.

“I will help too. It’s the least I could do,” Lina said proudly.

“And I will fight along the frontlines, holding off the army for as long as possible.” Norris placed the butt of his spear on the ground, holding his arm up and saluting Tawarln.

“Norris, this isn’t your fight.” Tawarln tried to deter him. Norris’s stance alone said that he would not be swayed.

“It’s not his fight. But it’s ours,” Nypre said seriously. He turned to Deren, who nodded back. “We will fight.”

“Wonik is a friend of mine. She wouldn’t want her children fighting in a battle. Especially one like this,” Tawarln countered.

“We’ve already had our fair share of battles we should have died in,” Deren laughed. “What’s one more?”

“I don’t believe you understand,” Tawarln spoke with a grim voice now. “Our job will be to hold off the army for as long as possible while the rest of the civilians and soldiers get on the boat. This isn’t a battle we will be winning.”

Nypre and Deren said nothing. They just stared at each other, and then both shook their heads at Tawarln.

“We’ll fight,” they both said at the same time.

Deren and Nypre joined the other soldiers shortly after eating a much needed meal. They were given heavy leather armor, much more protective than their regular leathers, as well as blades of fine steel. It was much more difficult to move in this stiffer, heavier armor than Nypre was used too, and still feeling the exhaustion from the trek in the Night Land wasn’t helping. The soldiers were rallied in the center of town where Tawarln stood on some boxes of supplies to give a speech.

“The night has taken everything from us: Our homes, our freedom, our loved ones.” Tawarln began, glancing downward to Nypre and Deren. He continued his speech about how the Night Land had taken everything from the people, about how there was no choice but to fight. Nypre found it hard to pay attention. While Deren and the other soldiers rallied and cheered at his speech, their morale growing, he knew this was the end. He would fight on this day to protect people he had never met. He would die on this day. Even if he survived until the boat arrived, there would be no way to escape the battle.

“Enough!” a dark voice echoed out. Appearing on the boxes, standing next to Tawarln, a dark shadow appeared. It formed into the creature Nypre had seen in the Night Land, the humanoid creature of pure darkness. It stood overlooking the soldiers who gasped, readying their arms. Without further warning, Tawarln grasped his sword with both hands and attacked with a powerful slash. The sword cut right through the shadow, which reformed in moments. It was nothing more than an illusion.

“You fear the night. You fear your insignificant lives ending. Should you fight, they will end on this day. I offer you a chance to save yourselves. Give me the one you call Lina. Bring her to me and I will withdraw my army. You will be allowed to flee,” the dark creature cackled. Lina had been standing to the side, away from the army. She gasped in fright at these words. Some of the soldiers turned their heads looking toward her, fear in their eyes.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” a familiar voice called out from within the crowd of soldiers. A man calmly walked out of the crowd, standing atop the boxes. Tawarln himself stepped aside as this man took his spot in front of the army. Nypre and Deren recognized him immediately. It was Ryan, and despite the urgency of the situation he was smiling.

“You,” the dark creature shrilled. “I know what you are.”

“Me? I’m just an ordinary human,” Ryan responded cheerfully, still smiling.

“You lie!” it screeched. “Wonik has taught me of you, of your homeland.”

“Then you should know not to attack. You know I don’t like to interfere. But you just had to come and give them an option of escape. You just had to come and tell them to offer Lina up. That’s something that just can’t happen,” Ryan sighed, shaking his head.

“We would have never have traded Lina for our lives.” Tawarln seemed offended by Ryan’s words.

“I know that,” Ryan quickly said. “Lina would have thought about it and then offered herself up to spare everyone else’s lives,” he said. Lina let out a loud gasp again. She was unsure who this person was, but the thought had already crossed her mind. It wasn’t a serious thought, only an option. How did he know of her plans that hadn’t even been fully formed yet?

“Enough!” the shadowy creature hissed. “You are right that I know you Ryan. Because of your interference I will attack now. I was going to give them precious time to decide to give me Lina while they wait for their escape. For the rest of you humans, you had your chance to survive, but Ryan here ruined it. You can thank him for your death as you breathe your dying breath.” With that the shadow disappeared. Tawarln jumped back up onto the crate, retaking his place and looking to Ryan.

“Ryan, you are just a traveler, you said. What history do you have with this creature, and how dare you provoke him into attack?” Tawarln nearly yelled.

“Truthfully, I have no history with this creature. The calculations have been made. I will see you on the battlefield,” Ryan responded calmly. He stepped slowly off the box, then began running with speed unlike anything Nypre had seen before, heading northward toward the Night Land.

“We have no time left. Form a line surrounding this village. Do not let any of them through!” Tawarln yelled, giving out the orders. The soldiers all scattered from the town holding their weapons high, yelling out war cries as they ran. Nypre and Deren ran with them, it was hard not to get caught up in the mood. They ran north, following Ryan’s footsteps, though they weren’t nearly as fast.

As Nypre ran forward he lost sight of his brother. Worry ran through him, and his worry grew when he saw the army ahead. There were large swarms of spiders, packs of claw beasts, humans of varying nations carrying a vast assortment of weapons, all moving forward without a single sound. Nypre and the other soldiers of Tawarln yelled their battle cries, but the opposing army was quiet. It was disturbing.

It happened so fast. The distance between them disappeared and the armies clashed. Nypre found himself in a battle with a claw beast. The half wolf half man like creature stood several feet tall. It slashed at Nypre with its claws. Nypre jumped back, holding out his hand, knowing better than to compete with it in close combat.

“Wonik-e!” he called out, electrocuting it with lightning. He heard the familiar clashes of thunder and the wind around him roared chaotically. He wasn’t the only mage in this battle. The claw beast died and was quickly replaced with a human soldier, a soldier of Tawarln. The soldier wore the same kind of leathers as Nypre, and wielded the same sword. He thrust his sword forward. Nypre quickly parried it, countering with a slash of his own. The enemy soldier jumped backward, dodging his attack, just as Deren would have. Nypre took this chance to follow up with lightning, only to be interrupted when a spider jumped at him. He held his sword up quickly stabbing the spider and flinging it to the side, recovering just in time to parry another attack from the first soldier. He smashed his sword hard against the enemy’s, disarming him, and followed up with a forward kick, knocking him down.

A woman took the soldier’s spot wielding a curved blade she held in two hands. She wore a decorative robe which flowed about her, clothing unlike anything Nypre had seen before. Her fighting style was exotic and fluid. Nypre did all he could to counter her attacks as she danced around his attacks with great finesse. She disarmed him easily, knocking his blade away with hers, following it up with a vertical slash straight at his head. He dodged to the side and countered with lightning, leaving her a smoking corpse on the ground. He used wind to return his sword to his hand just in time, and held it high above his head as a large dark skinned man jumped forward. The man wore heavy protective furs and held a large axe in both hands that slammed down against Nypre’s sword. Nypre tried blocking, holding his sword up and supporting the blade with his other hand. The sword shattered but deflected the attack, knocking Nypre to the ground and leaving him unarmed. Nypre held out his hand ready to use lightning but the man stopped his attack and held out his hand too.

“Foran-e!” the man spoke calmly, as if he weren’t in a battle. Flames formed in the man’s hand and shot forward.

“Wonik-e,” Nypre called out quickly swirling the wind in front of him into a small tornado which ripped away the air, putting out the fire before it reached him. Nypre was still on the ground, and the man jumped forward, slamming his axe at Nypre. Nypre rolled out of the way just in time and attacked with lightning. The man stood strong through the electrocution and recovered. Nypre tried discharging more and more lightning into him, but the man ignored all pain and swung his axe down towards Nypre once again.

Deren interceded just in time, pushing his sword against the axe as hard as possible, deflecting it just enough. The axe hit the ground right next to Nypre’s head. Deren recovered from the parry, and with a quick slash he whipped his sword across the man’s neck, killing him. Deren smirked at his success and helped Nypre up.

“You can thank me later!” Deren called out before engaging a new foe. Nypre quickly looted the Tawarln soldier he had killed before, rearming himself with a familiar sword. There was a large, well-muscled man with no weapon punching and kicking one of his allies. Nypre took his sword and slashed vertically. The man turned in time and clapped his hands together, catching Nypre’s sword with his bare hands before kicking Nypre in the stomach, knocking him backwards. Nypre managed to keep hold of the sword as the man pushed forward, striking with hands and feet. Nypre parried one of the punches with his sword, slashing the man’s arm deeply, and then finished him off with lightning.

Nypre saw a short female with long pointed ears and dark green revealing clothing behind the man he had just slain. It was an elf with a loaded bow aimed straight at him. He stepped quickly to the right, hearing the arrow cut through the air as it soared right in front of his face. He held out his hand, grabbing it with wind and reversing its’ travel back at the elf. The arrow pierced through the elf’s heart.

Nypre fell forward, hitting the ground hard as a spider jumped on him from behind. He rolled forward to keep the spider from pinning him, tossing the spider off his back. The spider flew forward, landing on its carapace with its underside revealed. Nypre quickly thrust his sword into the spider, killing it. Nypre pulled his sword out of the spider and stepped back, stopping to breathe for just a moment before a fully armored man that looked just like Norris attacked him with a spear. It was a soldier of Lumin! Nypre dodged the forward thrust from the spear and tried countering with lightning. The lightning had no effect, dissipating against the soldier’s dragon metal armor. The soldier pulled his spear back, and thrust it forward again. Nypre jumped back, barely escaping the tip of the spear as another soldier from Lumin jumped forward attacking the first one. It was Norris who fought against the soldier.

“Nypre, look out!” Nypre heard Deren’s voice call out. He looked for the source of the voice and saw Deren pointing at an unarmed man wearing a blood red robe.

“Foran-Dorei!” the robed man called out holding his hands straight at Nypre. A large ball of fire shot forward. Nypre quickly rolled behind Norris as the fireball hit Norris’s armor, splashing harmlessly against it. Norris finished off the Lumin soldier he had been fighting, and then quickly rushed the fire mage.

“Wonik-e-ti!” a new voice called out. Lightning arced through Nypre’s body. It hurt him all over as the energy charged through him, bringing tears to his eyes. He looked to his attacker. It was a female wind mage wearing a white robe similar to his mother’s, standing there with both hands out, arcing lightning through several soldiers.

“Wonik-e!” Nypre held out his hand weakly, but he was unable to channel lightning when being hit by another’s spell. Deren jumped forward, attacking the wind mage and interrupting her spell.

“Stop using my brother’s tricks against him!” he yelled out slashing forward. The wind mage dodged his slash with ease, holding her hands at Deren.

“Wonik-Dorei!” she called out. A large gust of wind sent Deren flying backwards. Nypre held his sword, still recovering from the lightning, and rushed the wind mage, stabbing her through the chest. As she fell from his blade, he could only think of how his mother had taught that mage, how she was likely one of the many mages that Nypre and Deren had seen before. He turned to Norris, who was concentrating his attacks against the many fire and wind mages that were in the attacking army.

Nypre turned and saw a wolf running towards him. He ran toward it, attacking first with a quick slash, killing it before it could pounce. Another woman attacked him, wielding two sticks with small blades attached. Her fighting style was just as exotic as the first woman Nypre had killed, only she was much quicker wielding the two weapons. Knowing better than to fight against her in melee, he simply attacked her with lightning. His head began to hurt a little after finishing that spell. He was using too much magic. He was able to stop and catch his breath again, thinking. The battle had only just begun. He looked around. He was surrounded by people fighting, and blood stained the grassy fields. This wasn’t about to end soon. He saw Ryan taking on three claw beasts at once. Ryan was unarmed, but moved with such perfection between the claw beasts’ attacks that he was able to manipulate them into killing each other. He did this all within a couple of seconds before engaging a new target, still unarmed.

Nypre let out a heavy sigh and turned back to the battle. Deren was in trouble. One of the large dark skinned men had disarmed him and was getting to finish him off. Nypre rushed forward, stabbing the man through the gut before he could swing his axe downward to kill his brother. Deren looked to be in worse shape than Nypre, his leathers torn and bloody where he had taken a hit. He didn’t even stop to thank Nypre, and rage burned in his eyes as he attacked another.

“Ugh!” Tawarln grunted from nearby. Nypre saw him pushing his sword against the axe of another man wearing the same type of heavy furs. Finally, Tawarln overpowered him, slamming his large sword straight through the man’s arms. Nypre saw one of the women in the decorative robes pull out three small knifes which she held between her fingers. She swung her hand forward, throwing them with great speed.

“Wonik-e!” Nypre yelled out knocking them away with wind just in time. He rushed her with his sword, stabbing her before she could parry with her own weapon.

“Quin-Dorei,” a deep voice spoke calmly. Nypre turned and saw a large boulder being hurled towards him. He ducked under it just in time, moving away as the rock hurled over his head. Nypre held up his hands, discharging lightning at the earth mage.

“Quin-e,” the earth mage said. A pillar of stone emerged from the ground, negating the lightning. With another hand movement the pillar shot forward still attached to the ground like the fin of a fish swimming through water. Nypre stood, but was too slow to react as the pillar slammed against him, knocking the wind out of him and pushing him to the side on the ground. He coughed, gasping for air, coughing up blood as he struggled to stand. A spider jumped on his back while he was down, pinning him to the ground.

“Wonik-e,” Nypre spoke weakly, electrifying his own body like he had done so many times before, killing the spider, but unable to dislodge it from his back. Nypre lay there for a moment, the dead spider on top of him. He hurt all over, and he could barely breathe, and now every inch of him stung with electricity. He knew the end was coming soon for him. He thought of Lina back in the town. Had the boat arrived yet? Would she be safe? He felt tears forming in his eyes. He didn’t want to die. He thought of just staying underneath the dead spider forever.

“The boat has arrived, hold only a little longer!” Nypre heard a man’s voice call out. Were they really fighting for that long? He pushed himself up, pushing the corpse of the spider off of him. He saw another dark skinned fire mage wearing a blood red robe.

“Foran-Koretops-Wonik-Dorei-Ti!” the mage said calmly. Nypre could feel the wind all around the mage begin to swirl and then combust into smoke making it impossible to breathe.

“Wonik-e!” Nypre coughed, barely able to speak. He created a bubble of fresh air around his head letting him take a deep breath. The smoke circled all around the fire mage bringing several soldiers to their knees, including Tawarln and Deren. The smoke curved around the enemy soldiers so they were not affected giving them a large advantage. Nypre saw Norris run through the smoke, the air around his armor was pure. Nypre quickly ran alongside him, channeling his spell to make sure he too had breathable air. They made it to the center of the ring of smoke. The mage stood there unbothered, continuing to channel his spell. Norris was about to thrust his spear when an enemy soldier from Lumin blocked him. The two of them fought leaving Nypre alone to deal with the mage. He slashed his sword at the fire mage the best he could. The mage channeled the spell until the last possible moment before dodging the attack. The smoke in the area dissipated and people were able to breathe normally again now that the spell was interrupted.

“Foran-Koretops-Quin-Dorei-Sol!” the fire mage called out creating a ball of flame larger than Nypre. The ball formed into a spider made of fire that towered over the battle field. The spider was reinforced with stone plating, from its mouth dripped burning lava. The spider moved towards him slowly. Nypre stood there, unsure what to do, he was paralyzed with fear and indecision. An arrow shot forward into the spider, piercing its rocky armor plating. All at once, the spider froze into a large block of ice, the flames were extinguished and the remaining earth magic dissipated as well leaving nothing but a giant hunk of ice there in the center of the field. Nypre turned to look for the source of the arrow.

He saw an older woman his mothers’ age. She wore blue silk clothing which crossed over the center of her chest from her shoulders and attached to a long skirt of the same color which flowed down her legs. She had tanned skin and long dark hair. In her hand she held a bow that looked as if it were made of pure ice. Glowing water flowed through the inside of the bow, it was beautiful. Nypre recognized the woman immediately, Meni, the guardian of water. Meni turned to the mage who had just summoned the creature, holding her bow and pulling back on the impossible to see string. An arrow of pure ice formed which she shot forward. The arrow hit the mage, freezing him in another block of ice.

“Where is Wonik!?” Meni screamed out loudly towards the Night Land in pure anger. “Show me Wonik!” As if answering her question the clouds thundered overhead. Out from the Night Land a woman flew. She wore a robe that was dyed red with her own blood. It was Wonik. Deren ran to Nypre’s side, grabbing his arm.

“Nypre, we have to go!” Deren yelled, trying to pull him away. Nypre just stood there. A shirtless man ran to Meni’s side doing the same, trying to pull her away from the fight. Meni pushed him to the side and held her bow ready, aimed at Wonik. She pulled it backwards, shooting an arrow of pure ice.

“Wonik-e,” Wonik spoke just as calmly as all of the mages Nypre had fought. The arrow was tossed to the side without even a gesture from his mother. She held out her hands. “Wonik-Koretops,” Lightning surged from all around her. Meni stood strong, as if accepting her fate. The man from before quickly ran in front of her just as a bolt of large lightning discharged from Wonik’s hands, turning the man to darkened ash instantly.

“No!” Meni screamed.

“Nypre, we have to get out of here!” Deren repeated his words, pulling harder on Nypre’s arm. Nypre pulled against him and ran to Meni’s side.

“Meni, we need to go now,” Nypre told her. Meni looked up at Nypre and he saw the tears in her eyes. She stood up and the three of them ran back to the town.

“She wasn’t supposed to fight back,” Meni whispered solemnly.

“Wonik-Koretops-Mas!” Wonik screamed in sadistic laughter, the first of the entire army to show any emotion. Dark, thundering clouds formed throughout the entire battlefield. Nypre, Deren, and Meni ran as fast as they could. Everything seemed to move in slow motion around them as they ran. It was the strangest sensation Nypre had ever felt. They ran for what seemed like hours, moving slowly through the battle that still raged around them. Other soldiers from Tawarln’s army were ahead of them retreating back toward the town. Nypre, Deren and Meni all reached the edge of the town. Nypre looked back to see the spell his mother had cast finally go off. All at once, throughout the entire battlefield, large bolts of lightning struck down hitting the land. There was a loud explosion of thunder which sent everyone in the town flying forward. With one blinding flash of light the spell ended, and what remained was a large crater, just like the one they had seen in the Night Land, the same spell that had destroyed entire towns. Anyone left fighting, friend or foe, were completely vaporized.

“We have to get to the boat,” Meni ordered the two boys. From out of the crater a swarm of spiders and claw beasts ran forward. Meni, Nypre, and Deren all ran down the dock, quickly running up a ramp which led onto the boat. Water mages were standing on the boat, using water from the ocean to push back any pursuers.

“Thank Ana you two are okay.” Lina ran forward to Nypre and Deren, hugging them both.

“It wasn’t Ana. This was his doing. He’s the only reason we’re alive.” Meni said seriously. She held her bow out, ready to take out any pursuers. “We have to leave now, we cannot wait any longer.”

“Wait, Norris?” Nypre asked looking to Lina.

“He’s here, don’t worry. He’s below deck with the injured, where you should be.” she told him. She grabbed both Deren and Nypre, pulling them away from the edge of the ship. Nypre suddenly felt dizzy. He fell forward to his knees. Deren dropped to his side.

“Nypre, we need to get you to a bed,” he said in a comforting voice. Nypre coughed, blood splattering on the wooden deck of the ship. He heard Lina scream and Deren attack something with his sword. There were enemies on the boat! Everything was twisting all around him as he stayed on his knees. He heard the incantations of water mages everywhere casting their spells. He could feel sea water from their spells splash across the deck of the boat. Nypre fell from his hands and knees, laying face first on the deck of the ship, the world spinning all around him. He heard Lina’s voice call out to him. It sounded so far away. All went dark.

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