Not only is Chase attacked, Marissa’s mother, as well as Jackie and Maribelle, have been hit. Elise, cradled in her mother’s arms, doesn’t seem to be harmed, but Claude checks her anyway.
“She’s fine. Take her inside. Jordan, you stay with her. Neil, help Marissa get Chase in the shed. Brian, go get your father.”
“Where is your father?” Claude looked around, realizing that there should be more people around. “Oh, sweet Jesus….”
Brian did as he was told. Jordan followed, taking the baby up to the master bedroom. She locked the door after Brian left. Terrified, she said every prayer she could think of, for Elise, herself and the others. There should have been more activity. The house was too quiet. Where were the others? She was anxious, wanting to know, but took her duty to care for Elise very seriously. After all, this was her future sister-in-law.
“It’s okay,” she said over and over, trying to assure herself. “It’s okay.”
They came from the swamp, wave after wave of dark spirits, slicing through the air with a singular hiss that set Brian’s nerves on edge, The hair on the back of his neck sprang to attention. Where were the others? Surely not all taken down with darts? Why hadn’t the wards stopped them? The spirits circled him, snatching at his hair, scratching his face, ears, any exposed skin. With a flick of his hand, he conjured a wind that scattered them like leaves. A thin, airy scree of distress accompanied them. The wind whirled, dragging them into the earth. The sand covered them, obliterating them as if they had never been.
Scurrying around the side of the house, the shadow of a fox and crow charged Brian. He realized now why they weren’t affected by the wards, they weren’t real, merely shades. They could still hurt him, causing serious physical damage, but at least he knew. A blast of hot air drove these away, slowing him down. As he raced through them, they reached for him, snapping and clawing. Brian pushed on, looking for his father and the others. He heard the sound of battle at the front of the house. His friends were in a cluster, fighting more of the wraithlike shadow creatures and taking the worst of it.
“Air!” he bellowed. “Blast them with air! Smother them with earth!”
Rushing to them, he laid waste, expelling the shadows with a blast of air, hammering them to the ground.
“Where’s my dad? Mom’s hurt,” he asked Sweet.
The young man pointed to the woods. “He and Heath ran that way. I don’t know why.”
“Come with,” he commanded. “Andre, get the women inside. Jordan needs you.”
“We can fight….” Ginnifer stated angrily.
“And Jordan needs you more. Go! Some of you help Claude. Healers. Fast.”
Andre did as he was told without question. Caleb and Summer followed Sweet and Brian.
“He’s my brother. I’m coming,” she stated, chin firm.
“Do you know what you’re doing?”
“Os has been training me.”
He ducked into the woods, following his father’s path. It might not be obvious to others, but he could see the scent of his passing. He and Miles were chasing something.
“This way,” he pointed to the right.
The others followed without question. They heard sounds of battle a few yards ahead in a small clearing. Brian recognized it as the spot where they’d had their showdown with Mr. D and knew it wasn’t a coincidence. It had been chosen with the sole purpose of sapping his confidence. It hadn’t worked, quite the opposite feeling surged through him, especially when he saw his father figthing Mr. Fēng. Wondering how the man had gotten free, he dashed forward, sending a wave of dirt at the man’s legs.
Fēng toppled, trying to right himself. Restraints made of dirt wound up his legs. Jian leaped from the trees, screeching like a bird of prey. He slashed at Brian with huge claws where his hands should be. The talons sliced Brian’s clothing, stinging his skin. He faltered, knowing it was the same poison that had been used on Chase. Fighting it off, he used water from the air to wash his body, cleansing the pores, sealing them with a layer of moisture.
Balling his fist, Brian called forth earth and slammed it into Jian, knocking him down. Earthen fists pummled the downed teenager, pushing him deeply into the ground. It opened, closing over the boy.
With a roar, Fēng jumped at Brian, using earth against him. As the first clod rose, flying at him, Brian faced the onslaught, raising his hands like a shield. The clumps of earth fell to dust. Rocks shattered, their pieces racing back at Fēng, stinging him like dozens of needles. With a roar, he raised a boulder, slinging it at Brian.
With a twitch of his head, Brian halted the huge stone. It dropped to the ground. Fēng lifted it again, finding it heavier. It took precious seconds to realize that the ground held it, pulling it back down. Soon, it too was buried like his son. Suddenly, the grass exploded upward and Jian came out of the ground. Flames shot from his hands, whirling at Brian like knives of fire.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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