“Alright. It may get us in a lot of trouble, but we shouldn’t leave them,” I said.
Faiza gave a nod of satisfaction. Rachael looked concerned.
“Alright,” Ethan said, “so who’s going to do it?”
“I am,” Faiza said.
“There should be more than one,” I said. “Two people will get it done faster than one, and it’s still a small enough group that there shouldn’t be trouble being stealthy.”
“Are you volunteering?” Faiza asked.
“I have the stone. If something goes wrong, they can’t hurt me.”
Faiza gave a nod. “The two of us then.”
“Shouldn’t I go?” We both looked down to Samel.
“Do you really think it’s a good idea to have an invisible person sneak up on a group of kids in the middle of the night?” Faiza asked. “We’ll have enough trouble keeping them from making any noise when they see us. A floating knife cutting through their ropes will—“
“They won’t see the knife,” he said. “I can make what I touch invisible if it isn’t too big. You didn’t see the pack on my back that night I snuck up on you did you?”
“Ropes that cut themselves isn’t any better,” Faiza said dryly.
“I won’t be invisible then. I’ll go like this and if any of the soldiers wake up,” he snapped his fingers, “I’ll be gone.”
“You could still be hurt though,” Rachael told him. “Dalan has the stone to protect him.”
“You’re not taking Dalan’s place,” Faiza said, for once agreeing with something Rachael said.
“I’m going in your place.” Samel’s lips quirked in a little smile.
“It should be me and Dalan. He has the stone, I have invisibility. We’d make a great team.”
“I’m going.” Faiza was staring daggers at Samel’s curly head. It meant a lot to her to rescue those kids, but Samel was right, out of all of us it would be safest for him and me. Faiza wouldn’t give up her opportunity to do this though.
“Samel can go instead of me.” That earned me a scowl from Faiza, but I kept talking before she could interject. “Samel can’t give his magic to another person, but I can.”
“You’re going to let me wear the Hashna Stone?”
“You’ll need it if the soldiers wake up.”
Rachael stepped up. “You shouldn’t let anyone else wear it.”
“I’m not going to steal it.” Faiza rolled her eyes.
Rachael ignored her and continued looking at me. “If a grimulin comes, who is going to protect it from being taken?”
Faiza crossed her arms. “It’s not like I’m completely helpless.”
“But you don’t have the dwarves’ sword.”
“He can give me the sword too.”
“Can you use it?”
Faiza huffed. She had great aim with her bow, but she’d probably never held a sword before.
“I won’t give her the stone until it’s time,” I said, hoping to keep them from fighting. “I’ll take it back as soon as the children are free.”
“I guess there isn’t much chance of grimulin coming in such a short amount of time,” Rachael said, sounding like she was trying to convince herself.
I sat and leaned against a tree. “Now we wait until they fall asleep.”
Even with half a moon in the sky it was hard to see. Faiza and Samel were making their way down the hill toward the children but I could barely see them from where I sat on top of the ridge with Rachael and Ethan. It wasn’t until they reached the bottom that I saw a glimpse of their shadows against the glimmering orange ashes in the fire pit.
There was some movement to the side that must have been them getting the children up. As long as I didn’t hear the soldiers, that’s all that mattered.
There was the sound of a bunch of tree branches breaking, and I thought there must be a couple of really big owls landing in the trees. I hoped they didn’t wake the soldiers up.
The rustling got louder. It sounded like the owls were falling to the ground and hitting every tree branch on their way down.
Faiza yelled and I thought I heard a growl. I was running down the hill before I knew what I was doing. The soldiers were all awake now, yelling to each other. Faiza was hunched over on the ground with a mass of black twisting around her. Grimulin. There were more than one, but it was hard to tell how many.
They pinned her down. She couldn’t get up to shoot her bow.
I rushed in and swung my sword at the black mass moving around her. My sword jarred as it sunk into the flesh of one of them. I had no idea which part.
The grimulin turned on me and swiped me with its long claws. They hurt a lot worse without the Hashna Stone on.
I stabbed my sword into its chest. Its wings faltered and it sank to the ground, taking my sword with it. I just pulled my sword out when Faiza yelled, “They’ve got it!”
I looked up to see her hanging on to something in the grimulin’s talons. It was trying to fly off, but she was keeping it there. They were fighting over the Hashna Stone.
I went for it, but another grimulin came at me, blocking my path. I stabbed its side but that wasn’t enough to kill it. Its jaws clamped around the arm holding my sword. I screamed and tried to stab the thing again, but I couldn’t move my arm enough to swing at it.
A white blast shot past me and hit the grimulin. At the same time, a hot blast zapped my insides. It only hurt a moment, then the feeling was gone.
On the ground lay the unmoving grimulin. I had no idea what just happened, but I didn’t have time to figure it out now. I jumped over the grimulin and raced to Faiza who was still holding on to the other end of the necklace hanging from the grimulin’s talons.
She was too much weight for the grimulin to lift completely, but it was dragging her farther and farther into the woods. Just as I’d come up to them, Faiza’s hand slipped and she fell to the ground. The grimulin flew up with the stone in its clutches.
It was hard to see in the dark but I took a guess at where its leg was. I jumped in the air and slashed it. The grimulin shrieked but didn’t stop. It dipped just enough so that I could take another hit at it. I jabbed upward and stabbed it in the stomach. Blood spilled over my hand as I pulled the blade out, and the grimulin sank lower, shrieking. Once it hit the ground, I cut off its head to silence it.
“What the blazes?” It was one of the soldiers. The three of them stood at a safe distance, swords drawn, watching the strange creatures attack us.
“What’s going on here?” asked one as he stepped toward Faiza and I. Now that the grimulin were dead, he was brave enough to come toward us. “What kind of sorcery is this?”
“How should I know?” Faiza said. She was a little out of breath, but she sounded just as sassy as ever. “It attacked me. I sure didn’t tell them to do that.”
“Our captives are gone,” growled the tallest one, “and you’re here. Would you like to explain that?”
“I don’t know anything about your captives,” I said, glancing at the grimulin at my feet. I couldn’t run from the soldiers until I had the stone, and I couldn’t see it in the shadows of the forest floor. “We were too busy try to escape from these things’ claws.” I poked my sword at the dead body like I was showing it to them, but I was really looking for the stone. There was a glimpse of something glimmering under its body.
“Sure you don’t. Well since you’re out here and our orphans are missing, I guess you’ll have to replace them.”
“We aren’t orphans,” Faiza snapped.
“You are now.” The three of them started coming forward. My stomach leapt to my throat. I’d never fought trained soldiers before, much less three of them at once. All the sparring with my father couldn’t prepare me for this.
Before they reached us, someone came running out of the darkness at them. A white light came from the figure. It was the same light that zapped the grimulin that had my arm in its mouth earlier. The light hit the soldier on my left and his body jerked. He was consumed by the light for a moment, then he fell backward and the light disappeared. The other two soldiers stood for a moment, at a loss for what to do. Before they recovered, the a stream of white light came from the figure and blasted them. They stumbled backward and cried out, but only one dropped to the ground. The other started coming toward the person who’d blasted him but another stream of light reached out and zapped him again. He collapsed.
I kept my sword up, expecting the figure to shoot its light at me next, though I wasn’t sure what good my sword would do against it. No more light came though. The figure slumped to the ground.
Faiza and I ran to the spot. As I got closer, I recognized the person.
“Rachael?” I knelt beside her. Her eyes were closed and beads of sweat dotted her forehead. I touched her shoulder. “Rachael?”
Faiza stood beside me and Ethan and Samel appeared from the woods.
“She used too much magic,” Samel said in a low voice. It was the most serious I’d seen him.
“I’m fine.” Rachael said feebly. Her eyes were still closed.
“What do we do?” I asked Samel.
“We get out of here.” He nodded his head to the soldiers to our right. “They’ll wake up soon.”
“They aren’t dead?” asked Ethan.
“She just stunned them. There were too many for her to kill.”
“I’m going to find the orphans and tell them how to get to the Foxes,” Faiza said, heading into the darkness.
“I saw where they went to hide,” Ethan said, going after her.
Rachael opened her eyes and looked at me. Even in the dim moonlight, they looked deep blue. “Did you get the Hashna Stone?”
“It’s still somewhere by the grimulin.”
She sat up. “Let’s get it and get out of here before they wake up.”
I held out a hand and when she took it, I helped her up. She gripped my hand tighter and swayed a bit.
“Are you alright?” I was scared that she was going to pass out again.
“I’m fine.” She steadied herself and let go of my hand. “Let’s get out of here.”
Check out the Hashna Stone Page for previous chapters
The next chapter will come out next Thursday. Be sure to vote for what you want to happen next!