Things have changed. POV is still Tima. Friend is still Igu. Uncle is still Weron. Healer is now named Aisa. Ewmak is now named Modaj. Kanli is now named Ekanli. Wheeler and Helious are no longer characters. Sashis is now Orshis and is Aisa’s sister. Captain planet aka the One was summoned at the end of chapter 10 and it turns out he is crazy and evil as the two groups have parted ways. Also, POV is now a water wielder and there is no more psychic. Sorry for the major changes. I hope the transition is smooth, and I apologize for not being able to post the updated version of chapters 1-10 since I’m going to use it for a short story contest.
Previous: Chapter 10
Chapter 11 (Never look back)
Another twig snapped behind me, and I started off at a run. Well, a lumbering trot. My back was still killing me, and my muscles screamed out in exhaustion, which was more the reason to get out of here.
Whoever was following me couldn’t have my best interests in mind. As if confronting the One hadn’t been enough. I would say it was an awful day, but Igu had lived, and I wasn’t absolutely sure Mother and Aisa had been killed or taken.
The fresh scent of pine and holly made me want to lay down and take a nap, but the crunch of leaves—other than my own footfalls—said I didn’t have that luxury. Even my shorts and forge vest started to feel smothering, the night doing nothing to dampen the heat. Worst of all, few stars were out, and after last night, none of the four moons decided shown themselves.
This day just kept getting better.
Fine, if that’s what the day wanted, I’d turn to fight. It wasn’t like I had any supplies or any destination in mind. Just away from my friends so they would be safe.
I passed a tree and slowed, pressing my back to it. I stilled my breath and clutched Barges tight. Without supplies, using my power would be suicide.
Yalrein’s gladius thunked the tree, inches from my head.
By the four! I exhaled as Yalrein ripped his blade free. Oh yeah, this wasn’t the time to be admiring how clean a strike that had been.
If only Yaldrein hadn’t started picking fights with everyone and been accused raping Ekanli, though she had been willing. No, now wasn’t the time to think about age differences.
I rolled backwards, focusing on the fight, allowing grace to flow through me.
Hopefully, he didn’t have enough food in his belly to produce—
Fire exploded around Yalrein, destroying the towering pine and stabbing me with thousands of splinters.
The creaking groan of the woods around me howled that was the least of my problems.
I scrambled to the left as the pine crashed into the ground, and I brought Barges up to deflect a wild strike just before it bit into my flesh. But my timing and footwork didn’t give me a good angle, and Yalrein’s strength sent me skidding backwards.
He was on top of me before I could take a breath.
By my grace, I managed to slip under a wild strike and out of his range, edging backwards. “Yalrein, stop.” I was still pissed at him, but in the face of all that has happened, his reckless violence and disrespect of Mother when she confronted him about Ekanli—which didn’t bother me since he was only two years older—seemed a bit childish, and I was an adult now. I needed to act like one. “We shouldn’t be fighting.”
“Monster,” Yalrein said.
“Floor calling the ground uncomfortable.”
“I’m not sure what you did back there, but you’re responsible for the deaths of at least four people.”
“In self-defense. If they hadn’t attacked me, they would still be alive.”
Yalrein’s stomach grumbled, and a grimace crossed his face as fire glowed on the tip of his sword. “Because you betrayed the village and conspired with terrorists.”
“And that was good enough reason to try and kill me? Because I wanted to save Igu. Is my action also why you attacked Aisa and Mother? How about the attack against Ekanli?”
Yalrein started, and he shook his head. The fire turned white. “I wouldn’t have let them hurt her.”
“So, even after you were punished, you kept seeing her.”
“Don’t act like you didn’t know.”
“Don’t act like I didn’t help you keep it a secret.”
“Help me?” Yalrein spat into the underbrush. “You only helped Ekanli out because she asked you to. I told her not to do it.”
“But the two of you would have been caught if it weren’t for my help. Then you would have lost your place on the mayor’s staff and probably have been disqualified from ever entering the Gladiatorium.”
“Not like you can ever enter it, momma’s boy.”
That truth hurt. “I might be able to enter under a fake name. Or maybe my description hasn’t reached the higher-ups of the Regime.” I stopped moving away from Yalrein and set my feet.
“And I couldn’t have done that?”
Yalrein had a point.
“Why don’t we just stop fighting?” I wasn’t starving, but without food, using water to deflect the fire would mean I’d never make it to Paster. If I could get supplies there, I’d be able to get far away from here. And considering how the Regime dealt with information, I doubted I’d have any issues other than with Regime Hunters. “We can go our separate ways, and no one has to know.”
“If the Regime found out I didn’t follow direct orders, I’d be executed as surely as you will be when they catch you.”
“Any major city has enough people to hide amongst, much less the free cities.”
“You mean the terrorist refuges.”
“I guess.” I drew upon water, preparing to craft a layered shield in front of me.
“It’s too bad no one knows exactly where they are. That almost sounds tempting, but I’d rather not wonder through the dessert, and hiding in a city doesn’t appeal to me.” The fire lanced straight at me.
I darted to the side as I crafted a barrier of water then charged Yalrein. The fire ripped through my barrier with ease, but I closed the distance between us.
Yalrein slashed down.
Spinning, I got inside his guard and elbowed him in the chin. The difference in our size gave me the power to knock him off balance, but I pulled Barges up short of striking him in the face. Killing the Regime Hunters—from how foggy that time was—wouldn’t be the same as killing someone I knew. And Ekanli would hate me if I did.
Yalrein lashed out with his blade and gashed open my arm.
It dropped limp to my side, blood dripping from my fingers to patter against the underbrush.
I reset my stance, Barges in my left hand, held tight. My stomach groaned, but I could produce enough water to strike Yalrein or to throw him off and land a blow with Barges.
He came at me.
Ba-boom! A massive shockwave ripped through the woods and threw me and Yalrein to the ground.
It had come from near the village.
Next: Chapter 12