46: Caught
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You!” Liam growled when he saw Col beside us.

We’d descended from the shrine to where he and Alexia were directing the battle, and he didn’t look all that happy. Couldn’t blame him, we were losing, but still.

Just down the hill was the rear of our lines, which also happened to almost be the front of our lines, because we had like seventy people to their hundreds. Everyone flinched as a fireball screamed overhead, harmlessly detonating in a shower of flame and sparks overhead. Jesus, this was actually quite dangerous.

Our leader wasn’t fazed however, and his angry gaze squared down firmly on Colourless.

Urgently, I shot a look in Izzy’s direction and she nodded, placing a featherlight hand on Liam’s arm to stall him. As though he’d just been shot with some sort of heart shaped arrow, he glanced down at the small dryad beside him. Little zaps of wordless communication flashed between them and Liam reluctantly settled into a less antagonistic stance.

“Interpersonal stuff later, Liam, he’s here to help,” I said placatingly. “He and I took out their war camp, any we kill from like ten minutes ago onwards, they won’t be respawning.”

That got his attention. I watched as a relieved smile crept onto his bloodied face, while Alexia did a silent fist pump.

“Fuckin’ good work kiddos, holy shit!” she exclaimed, giving us a nod of enthusiastic respect.

“We still have to kill them,” Liam warned, ever the voice of reality and reason.

Alexia gave him a sassy, hand-on-hip look. “Then why’re we all standing around chatting? Let’s get to killing!” 

“Good point,” Liam nodded, giving Col a look. “If you’re really on our side again, climb up onto the cabin roof and start firing away with that fancy fire magic of yours.”

“There should be a ladder around the back,” I told him helpfully.

He poked his tongue out at me. “I know where the dang ladder is Syl, I made the stupid thing.”

Oh yeah… he’d been our carpentry dude before this whole dumdumdickfollowing thing had happened.

“Good, then get going,” Liam ordered.

Col trotted off to do as he was told, while our leader turned to the rest of us. “Karen, go back to doing what you do best with that big fuck-off sword of yours. Izzy, I need you to go all tree-hulk down there, if that’s okay. Syl, we don’t have many skilled healers… scratch that, we have exactly two skilled healers, and Yure is running out of mana. We need you out there asap.”

“Got it boss!” I said with a smile and a goofy salute.

Everyone else received orders and off we rushed to defend our home from Blackfeather’s assault.

I made my way into the center of the fray and began to do my thing, throwing out spells to mend bones and knit flesh back together. You know when dudes joke about a target rich environment? Well, instead of like, a whole bunch of low level mobs, it was bleeding wounds and burnt skin. I guess you’d call it a healer’s paradise? God I hoped not. Very disgusting.

I saw one of our newbies get her arm slashed open, bow spinning off to land in the dust. With a twirl I let off a double shard barrage that smashed into the face of her attacker. Then I was there, one hand on her arm to heal it, the other ramming a light-plated gauntlet into his… uh… jewels. No idea what prompted me to go for that particular area, just an instinct that seemed to come from a long way off. Or something, no idea.

“Grab your weapon,” I told her quickly, and she gave a grateful nod. “Oh, and maybe stand back from the very front line, not sure that taking to the melee with a bow is a good idea.”

“Right,” she said with a sort of relieved chuckle.

I finished her attacker off with a dagger of light between his ribs before I rushed away to aid Izzy.

She was in angry dryad mode, ripping and tearing her way through our enemies like a demon. Her hardened bark-like skin had rents and cuts all over it, with even a dagger stuck through her arm. I slid up beside her and yanked the dagger out on my way past, using my frictionless momentum to send it flying into the crowd of Blackfeather goons that assailed her.

Her face, craggy with bark as it was, curled into a smile as I got to work pushing healing energy into my body. Of course, our enemies weren’t going to just let me work in peace, so I had to sort of fend them off while I did my job.

A blade flickered in towards Izzy’s back, but I battled it away with a hand armoured with gold and blue light. A shard followed where the attack had come from, exploding in the face of the guy who’d sent it. He wore a helmet, sadly, so all it did was ring the thing like a bell, but at least it had him dazed for a few seconds.

At one point I took the flat side of an axe to the chest, which sent me sprawling down onto the dirt. Holy shit, that hurt. Something had broken within me, not an important bone, mind you, but it still hurt like hell.

Izzy growled in high pitched fury and lifted the man who’d attacked me up by the jaw impaling him there with her claws.

The structural integrity of said jaw failed, tearing free with a disgusting popping sound and the angry dryad girl threw it away with a high pitched squeak of disgust.

“Ew! Gross!” She proceeded to kick him into his friends with a vicious jab from one of her wooden raptor feet. The man left his guts behind him in a grisly trail from stomach to claw.

“Aaah! Extra gross!” she squeaked again, shaking the gore off her foot.

A hand came down to lift me back to my feet, Karen’s concerned eyes giving me a once over for wounds. “You okay?”

“Yes, thanks,” I said, wiping sweat from my eyes. Fighting was really gross work, even before you dragged people’s guts out.

A series of explosions tore through the enemy and we both turned to see Col standing atop the one remaining building in the town that was un-burned, our cabin. He’d just let rip with his last use of the big death beam spell and it was just as effective as it had been earlier in the day.

Big spell done, he began to rain down death with lesser ones, fireballs screaming down throughout Blackfeather’s people. The sudden onslaught had them reeling temporarily while they tried to understand what was happening.

Fuck yes Col, let them have it!

A masculine voice shouted over the din of battle, “Shoot him down!”

Blackfeather. He was here, not ten meters away within a group of his toughest looking dudes. He took his own words to heart and raised his bow, kissing the feathered end of the arrow before letting fly.

The arrow seemed to have some sort of strange red energy to it as it ripped through the air, taking Col right in the chest. He gave a cry of pain and toppled, rolling down to the ground and out of sight.

“Go, heal him up!” Karen said, pushing me behind her while she pulled her massive sword into a defensive guard.

I skipped through the fray like a pinball, weaving and dodging to get to where he’d dropped. I found nothing but a pile of ash.

“Fuck,” I swore, slamming a fist against the wall of our cabin. Guess the arrow had been enchanted or something. We’d have to wait for the gods to finish remaking his game body before he’d be back. It wouldn’t take long, but every second counted right now.

While our enemies numbers were thinning, it wasn’t happening fast enough. They seemed to have realised that they weren’t getting their dead back as reinforcements and had adopted a more conservative approach to their attack. Shields were coming up, arrows flying between them while they simply pushed and pushed. Each step forward with their greater numbers sent us back two.

Then there was Blackfeather himself, each arrow I saw lash out past his guard was a dead ally. There was no healing from one of his arrows, and when I looked for them, I saw other piles of ash where defenders had died.

How the hell were we meant to win this?

A red scorched arrow thudded into the wall next to me, and I found myself locking eyes with the man himself. His expression turned dark, but also slightly fearful. He gave orders to his people, and although I couldn’t hear what he said, his intent was clear. He was coming for me.

I tried to duck away and get out of his sights, but his people moved fast, bulling their way through the crowd with heavy maces and shields made of heavy wood and steel.

Shit shit shit, they were too close! I made an attempt to skate, but I was running low on juice in that department after using it so much to get around the battle. Plus, I didn’t have enough space to get properly airborne.

What else, what else? Uh, my grappling heal! I needed a target to grapple to!

Except I was out of time, black and green armoured bodies closing me in against the cabin. I was trapped. Panic rapidly began to set in, robbing me of my ingenuity and intelligence, the final bolt slamming home in a cage made just as much of fear as it was of my enemies.

“Sylanna,” Blackfeather said, not arrogantly, not gloating… no, his tone was almost respectful.

I cringed away from all of his goons, flattening myself back against the wall of our cabin. Past the dark enamel of their armour, I caught a glimpse of Karen as she realised what had happened. Her expression was fury and worry. She was going to get to me if it sent her back up the hill or not. All I had to do was wait for her to save me, I just needed time.

“Hello,” I said with a fearful whimper, engaging him in conversation in an attempt to buy my friends time. Please hurry karen, please hurry and also bring help! It wasn’t that I was suddenly afraid of dying, it was that I was afraid of what would happen before I died.