Chapter 16: Rescue
We still had some time. The storm was definitely brewing, but there was at least enough time to go in the general direction that the guardians of the humans had gone.
As we left, I started paying attention to the auras of life around me and immediately noticed that something seemed… strange about that of the girl who had insisted on coming with Storm and I. The auras of the other humans were strange as well, but not to the same extent. They all felt frail, like none of them had even fought before. But the girl who was with Storm and I had a bright aura that felt light and… almost comforting. Almost. Perhaps it would have been if I hadn’t had the experience of the dungeon behind me.
But as we moved forward we couldn’t afford to focus on her aura. Even though I felt her aura grow brighter and reach out like Storm and mine could. I grew extremely uneasy and agitated quickly, and I could tell that it made Storm nervous. We ignored it and kept moving forward. We only paid enough attention to the girl to make sure she was keeping up with us, only stopping and turning to her when she started to trip over a branch, or flinched away from a sudden sound.
She seemed far more afraid than we were.
Then, Storm held out an arm and touched my shoulder. “Gray. There.”
I focused my aura in the direction he pointed, and the girl did as well. There were three auras, similar to the girl’s aura but without the same light as hers.
“That’s them!” she said. Before Storm or I could react, she darted forward, and we went after her. She yelled out, “Fayne! Safiena! Nayila! You need to come here!”
“What is it!?” One of the men shouted just before I came into his view. As soon as he saw me, he charged past the girl and slammed into me, and I felt a sharp blade against my side. I lashed out and struck his shoulder before kicking him away from me.
“Don’t fight! Stop!” The girl said, getting between us and facing the man. Storm grabbed my arms and held me back. I wasn’t bleeding, but I was ready to attack again. The other two armored humans- both women- had their weapons drawn and aimed at Storm and I, but they were staring at the girl. “They’re friends! They’re trying to help us- please don’t attack them!”
There was a moment of silence, and that moment was enough to frustrate me even more.
“We have no time,” I growled, standing up as Storm let go of me. “There’s a storm and we need to get inside. Now.”
The man who attacked me glared at me before looking at the girl. “Princess, are you sure about these… people?”
“No but we don’t have a choice!”
“We absolutely have a choice,” the man said, attempting to walk past her towards me again. But the girl grabbed his arm as roughly as she could- which, while she was clearly much weaker than him, seemed to shock him into stopping.
“You have no idea what is coming,” I snarled. “And we have no reason to trust any of you either, and we definitely have a choice on whether or not to help you. You do not want to see what the dust can do to people.”
“And what the hell are you talking about?” the man yelled, glaring at me again.
“Fayne, we’re going with them,” the girl said. “That is an order from your princess, you didn’t see how… wrong the water looked when we last saw it!”
“What the hell are you talking about?” The man said, taking a step back from the girl. “Princess…”
“We. Need. To. Go. Now.” The girl said, raising her voice. “We don’t have time for this, okay?! Just- suck it up and follow them! They know what’s happening better than us and right now- they’re probably our best chance to survive!”
The man slowly nodded, but glared at me. “I swear that if either of you try to hurt our princess, my sword will-”
“Shut up, for the love of the light, Fayne!” One of the armored women said, exasperated. “And listen to our princess, will you?!” She turned to Storm and I. “Lead the way. Now. Before he wastes more time.”
Storm and I turned and began to run through the forest. We had no idea whether we had enough time left to get there or not.
By the time we arrived at the shelter, the dust was rising from the ocean in wispy pillars. My stomach turned over. Had we wasted even a second more it would have been too late.
The humans all stopped and stared at the dust for a second in awe.
“Hey!” I yelled with a snarl, snapping their attention back to me. “Keep. Moving!”
I turned around and followed Storm, bolting into the shelter. The girl was right behind me, and followed closely by the armored humans. Rune was there to seal the cloth closed, and the moment he started, I saw a dim light from one of the humans. The girl. Her fingertips on one of her hands were glowing dimly.
“What is that?” I asked, narrowing my eyes.
“It’s just a light,” the girl said. “I’m using light magic to make it easier to see. It- is it a problem?”
I glanced around. I could see fine in the dark, as could Storm and Rune, and Scout, who was hiding in the other part of the house. But the look of the humans told me that they couldn’t see as well in the dark.
“If it’s necessary for you to see then no,” I said with a curt nod. The man was looking around with narrowed eyes.
“Perhaps you should make it brighter, princess. I can’t see if there’s a way out.”
“There isn’t,” Storm said, putting his wing around my shoulders. “We’ve sealed every hole so that dust can’t get in.”
“And what, exactly, is so terrifying about that dust to you all?” the man asked, in a mocking tone. I narrowed my eyes and couldn’t help but lift my upper lip in a silent snarl. It was going to be a very long storm with this asshole in here with us.
But we didn’t have to answer him. Scout made a soft coughing noise and stepped into the light, with his swollen and malformed arm lifted a little bit to make it more visible. The armored humans all seemed to lose their breath for a long moment as Scout looked at them.
“This,” he said. “It hasn’t done all of… well, this, but it’s made everything worse for us Chimeras. Everything.”