Friday, March 24, 2017
Flash Fiction # 243 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 27: Encounter
The soldiers brought their rifles up as soon as they saw me. I heard someone shout 'it's him' and knew that couldn't be good.
"Go Edmond!" I ordered. I saw the cat charge straight for the nearest tree and climb up. That wasn't so his best move, but had probably been instinctive. He'd be trapped --
No. He would fly away when he got up high enough. Time to worry about myself now. If Edmond hadn't been with me, I might have convinced them that I was just a human who had gotten lost in the woods. On the other hand, it might be just as well that I didn't lie to them. That would not be the best way to help win them over. They were nervous men and too ready for trouble.
An older man came out of the ranks and looked me over. He apparently didn't like what he saw. "Down on your knees, hands down in your lap. Don't speak or move your hands at all, boy."
So they'd had some interaction with magic and I suspected it couldn't have been good. I knelt and did nothing, though I was starting to feel itchy all over, like ants --
"Magic coming!" I warned. "It's not good --"
"I said to be silent," the man reminded me, his hand on the pistol at his side. "We've heard about you already, you know. Where did the cat go?"
"I can talk now?" I asked, feeling annoyed. The man glared and I decided not to be such a pain in the ass. "I sent Edmond away. I hope he can find us help, because there is something coming --" I almost lifted a hand to feel it out and realized that would be a fatal mistake. "I am not the problem, you know. You've seen the problem, haven't you?"
"I've seen a lot of things," he admitted, but that didn't make him sound any more inclined to work with me.
Which was unfortunate, because the trouble rushed closer to us. The others had begun to hear sounds in the woods, but they didn't realize the magnitude of the problem. Whatever was out there was dark, twisted -- and probably coming for me, not them, though they'd be caught in the mess.
"Go!" I shouted. I got to my feet despite the orders. "Go before they get here! They'll be coming after me --"
Weres boiled out of the woods, a mass of claws, teeth, tattered clothing, and misshapen bodies. The men must have seen such creatures before, but probably not this many at once. They began shooting, but the sheer mass of the creatures would overwhelm them. I lifted my arm and sent a wave of magic --
I should have expected one of the soldiers to shoot me. The sharp pain left a trail of fire as the bullet tore through my uplifted arm, though it did not hit the bone or remain in the flesh. I barely had time to hiss at the pain and I somehow held to the magic which knocked weres back and down. Surprise from the soldiers; I heard and felt that emotion and at least no one else shot me as I did my best to make certain the weres didn't kill the men.
The battle didn't take long. The man in charge -- I heard him called Lt. Marsh -- gave quick orders. Someone bandaged my arm and I nodded my thanks, staying silent again. I thought about kneeling, too. I was more than a little lightheaded from the wound and the sudden surge of power I'd used.
"We need to get out of here before more come," Marsh said. He looked at me and nodded, though I did not see full acceptance in his face. "You need to stay with us."
"Yes sir," I said.
I thought the reply took him by surprise. We were moving soon, past the bodies and back along a wide path that had been recently cut through the trees. I hated to see the destruction, but I understood the need. The soldiers didn't have to go in single file here, and that gave them the opportunity to watch both sides of the path.
I saw something moving through the air from the left and coming at us. "Don't shoot!" I shouted, frantic. "Edmond!"
"Don't shoot," the lieutenant ordered. I counted him my friend then, even if he didn't feel the same.
"Darman felt that magic!" Edmond warned as his wings flapped frantically and he circled over us. "He's on the way!"
"Damn! Find the others, Edmond! I won't be able to hold Darman back!"
"Hill," Edmond shouted and sounded breathless. "Hill to the right. Get behind it. Think of the mountains!"
And then he flew off.
"We need to get behind the hill," I said. "Or at least I do. You might be safe if he keeps looking for me. I think he will."
"The fae behind most of this," I said, frantic already. I saw a trail in the right direction just ahead. "He created the weres. He's trying to take over the earth and use the power here to rule other places. I need to go. I can't stop him. I need help for that."
"Is there help?" Lt. Marsh demanded. He'd paused at the trail which was better than I had expected from him.
"Some of my friends should have arrived in the last few days," I said. I worried what had happened to them. "Have you seen anyone helping you?"
"Everything has been chaos. We'll go with you for now, boy. I admit that the weres would have killed many of the men without your help, but that doesn't mean I can fully trust you."
"I understand. This way. The hill will help block my magic. It might be better, you know, to leave me."
"No," he said. "That would not be wise, whether you are friend or foe. We'll keep you in sight for now."
To be continued....