The others piled in the boat behind Talia. She stood frozen in horror as the shadow creature lept over itself, its form changing shape with every tumble. A lion, eagle, bear, a giant serpent, the creature morphing into one another. It was all of them and none of them. Its ever-changing form adding to the unnatural spectacle before her.
Talia’s magic faltered. The red pulsing light around her seemed to lose its hold, slipping back into its hiding place. As her fight from moments before turned cold with fear.
“No, no, no” Talia cursed as she tried to pull her power forward. She needed it now. Frustrated, Talia tried to push her power out around her as she had earlier, but only a weak glow surrounded her. Lightening shot overhead and Talia saw the creature flinch back, a pause long enough for Talia to run. She didn’t think it could leave land. She just needed to get to the water, and she would be safe.
“Talia let’s go!” Amara yelled. Talia ran into the water. Her dagger in her hand was the only part of her that still pulsed bright red with her power. She sheathed her blade as she headed deeper into the ocean.
Ryker had pushed the small vessel out to sea, he was waist-deep in the water now, Talia wasn’t far behind him. The rain poured down around them, the waves rough as Tobias and Amara tried to steady the craft with their oars. Ryker hopped in then turned to help Talia, his hand outstretched toward her. She reached her hand out her fingers brushed Ryker’s as a wave crashed hard into her, knocking her off balance.
The current brought her down into its embrace. She thrashed as she was twisted around, salt stung her eyes as she tried to find her way up. Everything was dark and panic gripped her as she remembered the night they spent in the ocean prison. Her lungs burned as she hit sand. She brought her feet underneath her and pushed up away from the soft sediment. Gasping for air when she hit the surface she was met with another wave to her face. Coughing and disoriented. Talia caught a glimpse of Tobias jumping from the boat in after her.
“No!” She knew this. She had lived through this before. “No,” She screamed, but Tobias was swimming towards her. She willed him back, images from years ago flashed through her mind. She was a little girl. Rope tangled around her, the crispness of the water around them, Tobias’s limp body as they were dragged out of the water by her father. The memories bombarded her, overtook her logic. There was no one to save them this time. No one to pull them out of the freezing waters. It was all happening again, all happening too fast.
Talia caught a glimpse of Ryker pulling back his bow, a bright magicked arrow knocked, before her feet could no longer touch the soft sand beneath her. The creature shrieked as the arrow sliced through its shadows. Then it split. Half of it dove down into the water. The swell of its form pushed through the waves towards Talia, towards Tobias.
Hands wrapped around Talia’s waist and pulled her towards the boat. Talia struggled to keep her head above the waves crashing down around them. Tobias wrapped his arm under her shoulder and around her neck. Keeping her afloat with him as he tugged on a rope tied around his waist. Amara started to pull them in. They moved quickly through the water both kicking to help, but the creature was faster. Talia watched in terror as it gained on them. Lifting out of the water like a sea dragon the creature reared back ready to strike.
It lunged down and Tobias pushed Talia away from him, at some point he had wrapped the rope around her and Talia felt her fear tighten her throat as she was dragged away from her brother. She reached frantically for her power and it answered, she shot out her magic towards him, willing it to protect him. The shadow serpent lunged down at him mouth opened another screech tore through the air. She remembered her dagger at her hip and how Shelley had used one like it to fight. She grabbed it and threw it at the creature as it crashed down into the water on top of her brother.
She could barely hear her scream over the raging storm around them. Lightening shot overhead and lingered over the thrashing water. Talia’s back hit the boat and she was hauled up by Ryker. Coughing she got to her feet and leaned over the edge. It was too dark. The creature must have dragged him under.
“Tobias!!” She yelled her voice hoarse from the salt.
The other half of the shadow creature flew overhead headed straight for the large vessel of villagers. Ryker shot another magicked arrow at it and it only split the shadows again. The creature howled as it tore through the haul of the ship. Amara screamed. People dove from the bow into the water. The two twisting creatures seemed to relish in the chaos. They pulled villagers from the ship, tore through the sails, and broke the mass.
“Where is Tobias?” Amara looked at Talia her face showing the panic Talia felt.
“I have to go get him,” Talia made to jump back in after her brother, but Amara stopped her.
“Wait, look!” a red glow started to pulse getting brighter as it moved closer to the surface until it was pushing its way through the water towards them. Lightning crackled and Talia gasped as Tobias shot out of the water and landed in a heap behind them on the boat.
“Tobias!” Talia was at his side she reached out to touch him and was shocked. A small lightning burst jumped from his cheek to catch her hand. She quickly drew it back. He pulsed with his own magic, a jumping sliver color with gold veins wound around him.
“I have never,” Ryker breathed behind them staring down at Tobias as he coughed and leaned forward in an attempt to catch his breath. He held out his palm to Talia. Her knife rested in his open hand. The glow of it wrapped in the color that now surrounded her brother, a layer over the red.
“Thanks,” He breathed, “I think somehow it helped unlock my m-” He went into another coughing fit.
Ryker’s face fell as he looked out over the water. The rain slowed to a steady hum.
“My people,” Ryker breathed looking out at the shadows terrorizing the ship. People screamed from a distance. They were too far away, even for Ryker’s arrows.
Before any of them could come up with a plan something knocked the boat. They stumbled nearly falling off, as they righted themselves, they looked up to the shadow creature as it flew up out of the water. It appeared to have tripled in size, it made a clicking noise and was joined by the two other shadows that had been terrorizing the villager’s boat. A deep growl rumbled through it as the three tumbling shadow creatures circled them in the small boat.
Ryker pulled back his bow, a magicked arrow at the ready. Talia touched his shoulder and shook her head. She turned her back to him so that the four of them stood in a circle of their own. Shoulder to shoulder looking out at the creatures surrounding them.
“It only seems to make them multiply,” Ryker nodded and she felt him next to her grab for his sword. Amara was on her other side and she drew out her ax. Lightning crackled from behind her, Tobias. She smiled and felt for her magic, this time it answered.
The shadows lunged at them the largest finding Talia. She shot out her magic, red light found its mark and the beast reared back from the blow. Before it could recover, she launched another one knocking it back further. It split and two came at her from either side. She ducked and rolled out of the way. The shadows recovered and turned back towards her on the same path they merged, an open, multi-creature mouth charging at her. She held up her dagger ready to meet its blow.
“Talia, look out!” Amara yelled. Talia glanced to her right to see Amara on the ground the shadow that had knocked her cousin down, now headed right towards her. Talia held up her free hand willing her power towards that creature as the other closed in from the front. She took a calming breath feeling the strength of her power come back to her. Time seemed to slow around her.
“Talia!” Ryker’s voice warned of the third shadow coming for her. She turned and saw Tobias. He grabbed her shoulder and they erupted in a circle of red and gold light.
- : YA - fantasy -adventure