~ ~ # Chapter 3 #~ ~
I had already been locked in the room for five days.
I ruffled through the rest of the clothes that they had left me. They had forced me to wear all black and only dressy clothes, for some reason that I didn’t know. Probably my mother’s doings.
I slid the silky black dress over my undergarments. Bleh. I draped the silken scarf on my shoulders. Blargh. I pulled on the pitch black boots. Meh. The door slid open. I was free.
I had been badly injured. Five Water Elementals against one untrained Fire Elemental were bad odds. By the time they had gotten me back, pain was surging through me so much that I didn’t know anything but pain.
I thought of the burnt, yet beautiful landscape. I’ll probably never see it again, firsthand.
My arm was snatched, and I reached for my sword. Nothing was there. I spun around. My guard.
“Your request to see the General has been processed and allowed.”
I rolled my eyes and set off down the hall, walking slowly so that I could stare out the windows. I sighed, and pushed open the doors. Everything looked bleak to my eye.
Before anyone else could speak, I said bluntly, “I want to be able to go out again.”
The General stepped down. “As soon as you have recovered. It was brave to take on those five, especially the opposite element. However, it was foolish to not call for help.”
I bowed my head, secretly rejoicing.
“In fact, you shall be promoted after your fifth outing and successful return. I also thought you would like to know that you died. Died, because your heart stopped and you went cold. Everyone, and I mean everyone, tried to help. They succeeded, as you can tell.”
I rocked back on my feet, “Wait… I died? Is that why I’m dressed in black?”
He frowned. “I believed you chose to wear black? That is all they gave you?”
“Yes, and I’ve been locked in my room.”
He shook his head. “I’ll tell them to stop. Now you must go.”
“One last thing…” I scanned my very faint memories, running through the misty faces from the time of my death. “Um, you said everyone helped… There’s someone who didn’t… Or did they?”
“Ah… Well, yes. Someone didn’t help.”
My stomach weighed down and I gulped. “Alright then. I’ll go find that… person.” I turned and slowly walked out. By the time I was at the end of the hallway, I was running.
I shouted out into the crowd, “Rabana!”
My sister came running, her eyes worried, “Yes?”
“I wanted to make sure you were alright. I haven’t seen you since I left.” I didn’t bother to remove the accusatory note in my voice.
“Uh… about that… Well, um, I was outside. Even though you died, we needed to keep fighting, so…”
“Oh, okay.” I still was slightly disappointed that my own sister didn’t come to see me, especially since I had died, or something.
“No, no, it’s fine.”
“O-okay, I guess.” My sister turned away and started towards the door that led outside. My heart clenched and I spun, going back into my room.
She’s doing what she wants to. I shouldn’t feel jealous. I went out before her. I couldn’t shake the betrayed feeling that my own sister hadn’t helped in healing me.
I kicked the wall inside and muttered, “This isn’t bad… Rabana was busy… She was doing what she needed to do, defending us.” I added in my mind, As if. Then I stopped myself.
Someone knocked on my door, and I looked up from a book that was laid open on my lap. I rose and quickly closed the book. “Oh! Kaylessa! Hello!”
The blue-haired Galaxy Elemental plodded in heavily, then slumped down on a chair. “Hi, Arryn.”
Her eyes were heavy-lidded as she replied, “I spent most my energy helping… But I wanted you to know that Saire lived, and carried you back to us. I thought you might want to ask questions, so ask away.”
“Oh… no, it’s fine, if you have better things to do.”
She gave a hollow laugh. “I would be out on the battlefield if there was anything to do. Olyrei and Shock, who used to be Sienna, both died yesterday. There was nothing we could do.”
I sat up, suddenly alert, in my seat. “What? But…”
She gave me a grim smile. “Yes, as well as Kasula, Lorelei, and Valanch. Many more, as well. I could name about fifty more. Fermin and Lyun were heavily wounded, as were Sham and Alas… as well as about twenty others.”
I gaped. “W-what? So many?”
Kaylessa nodded. “It’s terrible. We need help, badly.”
I buried my face in my hands. “Y-yeah. Maybe… Nah.”
“Well, umm… Maybe we could look for help? I mean, we’re only on one small area of the planet, and… Uh…”
“And there could be people willing to help in other areas,” she finished. “Good idea, but we can’t spare the warriors.”
I lifted my head. “But we can! I, for one, can go. Everyone who’s not going to be much use in the war currently can go, as well as some of the people in-training, if they have good survival skills…”
She seemed to brighten up under her tiredness. “I… I suppose. I’ll mention it to the General.”
“Good! But one thing–”
“Notice to all trained warriors. Notice to all trained warriors. Enemy attempting attack of fifty or more soldiers to main building. Repeat: Enemy attempting attack of fifty or more soldiers to main building. Ready yourselves immediately. Second door.” The monotone of the alarm-woman’s voice rang throughout the building, but then added on, in a warmer, more natural tone, “And good luck to you all.”
Kaylessa and I both shot up from our seats immediately. Her eyes snapped onto me. “Get your armor on, now. I need to go join the other healers.” She turned and ran out the door.
My heart pounded in my chest as I pulled on my metal armor, strapped on my shield, and pulled my sword out of it’s sheath. I stormed out the door to join the others at the second main door, where the enemy was expected to come in. We were all split up, one group of fifty at each door. There were twenty doors. The door-guards didn’t even include the trainees or healers.
I shouldered my way up to Lutuma. Her eyes were shadowed, as I could see through her helm. I had forgotten – Olyrei was her dearest friend, despite the fact that they never could touch because they were Fire and Water. She nodded at me and turned to the open door. Glints of metal flicked in the distance. We crouched on either side of the door, so as to give the enemy a clear view inside.
I whispered to all present, “I thought of a few ways to beat them… with what happened recently. There are more people, most likely, in other parts of the world… We could send some able people – not warriors – to go ask for help.”
There were a couple of dismissive snorts, but Lutuma had turned to me, hope sparked in her eyes. In an equally hushed voice, “It could work. Tell the General if this goes well.”
I grimaced – most of the elder warriors did not support my idea, except Lutuma, but she was filled with anger.
So we waited. I was sore all over, and my hand was trembling despite the fact that we were more than evenly matched. My back throbbed, as I was bent in a crouch that prepared me for any sudden attack.
I could almost feel the time ticking away, as well as the tension in the air. My eyes started to close, but snapped open again to the sound of footsteps from behind. I spun around.
“Kaylessa!” I whisper-shouted. She rushed to me and took me by my heavily-armored arm, dragging me away. “Wait! I need to keep watch!”
She shook her head mutely and pulled me to the healer’s quarters. She pushed open the heavy stone door, and inside… lay my mother and father, Rabana standing beside them.