Day 53


“You there!” Called out a dark shadow right in front of the fleeing party. Alastair shielded his eyes and wiped away a few tears so that he could figure out who the two shadows were. They were very tall, and from the looks of it, very strong. As Glue Pot galloped closer, Alastair could see the glint of armor and the sparkle of swords at the two shadows’ hips. “You there! Did you need assistance?!”

“Please!” Perceval barked. “Our friend has set a fire shield to keep us safe from a horde of batals. He’s unfit for a shield that complicated. I’m afraid he might burn out.”

The two shadows materialized. They were at least seven feet tall dressed in smooth silver chain mails, gauntlets, bracers, and boots. One possessed a two handed sword etched with odd script while the other wielded a slim, lightweight sword. Their skin was a light gray, like broken rock, and their overly large black eyes stared down at the party without irises. They were slender and lethal, that was certain. The one with long, sparkling silver hair pulled into a tight bun sped up.

“I’ll handle the Kitsune, Adriei. You guard these children and their companions,” said the guard. The guard ran swiftly past them with Perceval on the guard’s heels. Alastair assumed that the guard was female. She was smaller and held the slender sword by its hilt, although he couldn’t be certain. The guards had no certain defining features of gender. Was it alright to generalize them? He decided to wait until they were safe to debate what to properly call the guards.

“Stay with me. I’ll guide you to the start of the Mountain Ring Pass. Do not leave my protective circle. I can only cast it so far,” the bigger of the two guards said. “In the name of Queen Inana, we have sworn to keep all citizens of Soielle safe.”

“You’re a Royal Guard then, eh?” Digitalis panted. She braced herself against Glue Pot’s flank, caught her breath, and then continued.

“Yes. Please, I need to concentrate for this.”

“Sure.”

The companions followed Adriei, still caught in the thrall of fear concerning the fate of Tipper. Would he be alright? Could there be a possibility that he’d burn out? Would he become the dinner of hungry Batal? Lila buried her face into the crook of Alastair’s neck, and he could feel her wet tears soaking his tunic. He wished that he could protect his little sister from these tears. He wished that Tipper would still be alive. He wished that he was at home, curled in a ball on his mother’s lap while his dad made hot cocoa with cinnamon mixed in. All of this was unfair.

A gurgling cry of screams exploded behind them as if a collection of nightmare sounds had been unleashed through stereo. The children could feel a wave of heat and soon after, a bone chilling gust of wind. Ginger wrapped her arms around Gabbie while Gabbie wrapped her around Zane. They all craned their heads around to catch a glimpse of anything.

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