Anchored

by

Doran Shroud

Episode 7- Shadows of Day

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A note from Doran Shroud

As promised, Episode 7. The next one will be out in the next couple of weeks

Drake hated the apartment. To Barry and Sam, it was there home, their place of rest and peace but to the gargoyle it was a prison. For nearly two months now, he had been forced to remain inside the apartment while Barry and Sam went out on assignments to gain more credit to get to their next rank. Drake’s wings had finally healed enough for him to fly but the spell that protected the apartment from mystical threats also prevented him from leaving unless told by either Sam or Alexander. He also had to answer any of the girl’s questions because of the former’s magic but he had found ways around that by merely stating either, “That’s too personal,” or “What is the purpose of this interrogation?” in which case she would leave him alone. Drake had poured through his adoptive father’s book a hundred times, looking over the spells and incantations that may be able to weaken the spell binding him to the girl or at least recover some of the memories he had lost since that battle above the palace. Nothing he had tried so far had made any progress.

Most of his days were spent locked in the living room, awaiting the return of his wardens so he at least had someone to converse with. Drake had also practiced a bit of magic while in his dragon form but anything that required more mana than say, boiling the kettle, mostly wouldn’t work and would always leave him feeling exhausted from the attempt.

The door clicked and Drake jumped of the armchair and ran for the door. Sam walked in carrying a sleeping Barry (in his cat form) in her arms. His aura seemed a bit weak but Drake guessed that was because of their latest mission.

“What happened this time?” he asked.

“We fought a hydra with some of the others,” said Sam, laying Barry on the couch before slumping into the armchair herself, “Took a bit more magic than we thought to banish it but it worked.”

“That is the eighth time in the past fourteen days that you both have faced giant creatures,” noted Drake, “and thus it is the eighth time that you could have called me to help.”

“Not a chance,” muttered Barry, his eye still closed, “we have these things handled.”
“You call having your powers at their lowest point after a battle ‘handled’”, mocked Drake, “In my clan we have a word for people like you, arrogant.”
“Says the self-righteous reptile.”

“Are all felines this contentious, or are you the exception?”

Sam went and made tea while the boys argued, which was becoming a regular routine whenever they returned from one of their more challenging missions. The thing was that Drake was right, their mana reserves had been pushed to their limits the past few weeks and they were both feeling it. Her uncle Alexander had warned her about using Drake’s powers anywhere near other members of the GSA but as their workload had started becoming a heavier burden, she couldn’t truthfully say she wasn’t tempted. Sam shook her head clear of those thoughts. She had to trust in Barry and her Uncle, there were no shortcuts.

“Hey Barry, let’s order in tonight,” she said, “I’m feeling a craving for Chinese.”

“Then order me some duck and noodles,” grumbled the black tabby, “And let’s get mister know-it-all here something larger than his fat head.”

Sam nodded and went to make the call while Drake went to the small bookshelf and took out the notebook he kept hidden there. In it he had made several calculations and recordings about his predicament and any changes on the limit of magic he could use.

He poured over the last few written pages, some of which had a list of each encounter that Sam and Barry had during the last two months. Since Halloween the pair had faced eleven different monsters across the city and the GSA was obviously spreading itself thin. Drake extended a claw, channelled a bit of magic, and wrote down the words Hydra December 23rd.

“Bartholomew where did you encounter the beast?”
“Kennington Park,” muttered the cat sleepily, “near Oval Station.”

Drake noticed a pattern forming. In the notebook, he also had glued in a map of London and had marked all the locations where reports of the monsters had come in from the academy. Drake had used news reports coupled with a few internet searches to figure out where the attacks that Sam and Barry’s colleagues dealt with. The larger attacks, those that required more Guardians to be sent from across the UK, were centred around the Thames, specifically around Big Ben, near where he woke up.

Drake placed the book back in the shelf and watched the snow outside. Fond memories resurfaced from his time with his clan and Drake felt a longing to return but the spell Alexander cast was absolute, with no apparent weakness or end. Drake often sat in thought about this fact. Every spell had an end, the energy needed to maintain a binding spell this strong for so long would be immensely powerful and Drake doubted that even the Zodiac Mage would waste time with that much endurance. The spell had to be tied to something, some object or creature that would have to be defeated or even destroyed in order to break the enchantment. The mage wouldn’t have cast it on his niece, of this Drake had no doubt, nor himself in case of his own defeat. Neither Drake nor Barry would be likely candidates because their own magic would interfere with the enchantment’s.

While the reptile mused, Barry flipped through the different channels on the television until he reached an episode of Top Chef Australia. By the time the show had finished, their food had arrived and all three of them were digging into the meal.

Drake watched the two partners eat with general concern. In the past few weeks they had been very generous to him and even tolerated his constant belittling of their everyday activities. They were running themselves ragged trying to stop whatever dark forces had surfaced during recent days but they still pretended to be in high spirits whenever he was around for some reason, as if they viewed him as a child and they were his parents. That night when they all went to bed and as Drake slept on his spot on the couch he wondered what would happen to him if they didn’t return from a mission, if they lost against the darkness threatening to claim London.

***

It is time.

The shadowmancers looked towards the Priestess as she laid upon her bed, deep within a healing trance from her battle weeks before.

The Convergence will occur.

“When my lady?” asked one of the hooded men kneeling before her.

Soon my children. Soon a battle will be fought and they will fall at the might of our greatest warrior and saviour.

A black haze rose from the shadows and formed a swarm of darkness above the old woman’s sleeping form. Two red eyes shone from the swarm and the shadowmancers felt the dark presence of the creature in front of them seep into their very souls. They all lowered their heads as they bowed before the beast, pledging their loyalty to its cause.

***

Christmas Eve came with the feeling of hope and happiness that it brought every year. The GSA’s schooling was closed for the holiday and the malls were filled with last minute shoppers that also came with the holiday. While the day was filled with wonder and snow for those regular mortals, those that fought back the darkness felt their first day of relief that was long overdue. During Christmas, all those on the side of light felt their powers surge until the last stroke of midnight on Christmas day and thus very few monsters surfaced until the New Year, when all magic was renewed and restored. Sam, Drake, and Barry had spent the day watching the television, bidding their relatives and friends “happy holidays” and catching the gargoyle up with all the traditions of Christmas he didn’t know about. It was well past five when Barry heard the most startling news from the reptile that he had ever received.

“You’ve never had fruit cake?” asked Barry, amazed, “or even pudding?”
“No,” said Drake, “Until you both mentioned it, neither culinary construct had ever made it to my ears.”
“But you don’t have ears.”

“You know what I mean.”
“Well mate, today you will feast upon the wonders of such a treat,” said Barry, raising his hot chocolate in the air.

Before anymore could be said an alert beeped on Sam’s phone and a message from Archie popped up on the screen. It read; TURN ON THE NEWS. URGENT

Sam obliged but what was on there did not look good. Reports of explosions, injured civilians and shadowy arsonists were being reported across London. There were videos of large unidentifiable creatures roaming around the street, attacking anyone in sight and the reporter warned everyone to remain calm and indoors for the remainder of the night. Everyone in London that received the news cast obeyed, well everyone except for members of the GSA in London anyway.

Sam and Barry prepared themselves for battle but before they left Drake stood in front of them at the door.

“Take me with you.”
“No,” said Sam sternly, “You’re going to-”

“I can’t stay here while you two risk your lives,” he yelled, cutting off Sam’s command, “You are both the closest thing I have to allies in this time and I won’t lose anymore. Please Sam, I’m…I’m begging you, let me help you.”
They stood in the hallway, frozen by the gargoyle’s words. Sam was torn between her uncle’s warning and what the gargoyle now said. This was the closest he had ever come to admitting that he cared about them and it was hard for both her and Barry to act as if they didn’t care about him in return.

Against her better judgement, Sam reluctantly said, “Fine, but you’re strictly there to help us, not to fight. We’ll need to place a cloaking spell on you so the others don’t see.”

Drake’s look of gratitude changed to a mischievous grin, “Don’t worry I’ve got that covered.”

Minutes later they were down by Waterloo station along with three other teams of two, fighting against small monkeys with twin tails and large golden eyes. The primates were using long fire staffs to melt away some of the tar in the road and cause more traffic accidents. Barry was using his elongated tonfa to keep them at arm’s length for their touch could burn through steel. Sam and the other three humans had cast a barrier spell to keep the golden monkeys contained until Barry and the other Guardians in training could defeat them.

While they fought, Drake, having refused to remain in the car, watched from the side of one of the nearby buildings, analysing the threat, and using a small round stone Archie had given him as an early Christmas gift to communicate with Sam, Barry and their Seeker

“All right Drake,” said Archie, his image appearing on the stone’s smooth surface, “I’m detecting four more mystical anomalies near St. James, Charing Cross and St Pauls. They are consistent with your earlier analysis of the Sun Monkeys, none of them are connected to the Dark element.”

“That means that Barry’s power won’t be of much help,” muttered the reptile, running across the railings before jumping to another rooftop. “We need to figure a way to anticipate these creatures at their source.”

“Easier said than done,” said Archie lowing his voice, “But the senior Seekers here have been worried about something. I can’t tell you yet but it’s something big. According to our systems they’ve set up a barrier around Big Ben, the Fire Monument and Buckingham Palace.”

“All mystical sources of ancient energy and significance,” mused Drake, holding the gem with his tail while he watched, “That’s smart but they left out the Sphinxes and the Minotaur statue.”
“Not exactly, both points have been overtaken by several shadowmancers, with similar attacks happening around the world we’re spread too thin to organise a strong counterattack.”
A Sun Monkey smashed into the barrier and disintegrated with a loud screeching sound upon contact. Barry and one of the other Guardians, a bipedal osprey, created a small storm using water and lightning magic to douse the rest of the monsters until there were none left. As the barrier faded Barry and the osprey fell to the ground, breathing heavily.

“Just… need to…catch my breath,” gasped the panther, slowly returning to his smaller beast form. Sam gave him a pink blossom to swallow as she helped him to the car. A full minute later the panther was back on his feet and his mana started to restore itself.

“What was that?” asked Barry.

“A Wind Flower,” noted Drake, his voice coming over the car’s radio, “it temporarily restores a portion of one’s stamina and grants protection against evil. They do not blossom this time of year nor are they indigenous to Europe. Where did you find it?”
“A friend of mine gave some to me,” said Sam as she drove, “what’s the next location?”
“Hold on, you both need to recover more of your strength. It won’t do anyone any good if either of you collapse in battle.”
“We’ll be fine,” said Sam, “We’ve trained for this. What’s the next location?”
“For the moment, there are none,” said Drake, using his Sight to survey what he could see of the city, “Archie and one of the other Seekers deployed another team to the locations he mentioned earlier but the closest fight is on St. James. According to one of the Anchors there they are fighting a Golem and a humanoid made of obsidian.”
Sam turned to the bridge and drove quickly, using one of the many glyphs she had placed on her car to increase the friction between her tires and the icy road, stopping them from crashing. Drake leapt off from his perch and flew overhead, now carrying the gem in his mouth.

They arrived to see three Anchors battling the metal man while three Guardian trainees, two minotaurs and a lion, used combinations of both Earth and wind magic to fight of the golem, who was at least three metres tall. Barry leapt out of the window and transformed before adding his lightning magic to the fray, striking the golem with a surge of intense electricity hot enough to turn the creature’s stone skin white hot. Sam ran in with her gauntlets, which shone with a bright radiance as she shot towards the metal man and hit it with enough force to stop a truck. It didn’t even budge.

Drake watched from a nearby rooftop while his two companions fought for their lives and wished he could join the fight. Pushing those thoughts to the back of his mind, Drake recalled what he knew about either creature and called Barry using his crystal.

“Busy now Archie,” came the panther’s reply.

“Wrong person,” said Drake, “I just thought to remind you that golems are powered by the magic in the scroll binding them. Remove it and it will crumble to dust.”
“What scroll?”

“Get it to open its mouth then reach in there and remove the paper inside!”

Barry yelled Drake’s instructions to the others then leapt back and let loose a torrent of lightning bolts, forcing the creature to take a step back. One of the minotaurs charged in and knocked it down then its brethren came in and forced the mouth open.

The lion reached inside and removed a small scroll the size of a human thumb, immediately the creature froze and the guardians nearly collapsed on one another in exhaustion. The same could not be said for the metal goliath that Sam faced.

It continued to attack the Anchors without fault and two of them were already too injured to continue. A minotaur created a large hand out of rocks and tried to hold the creature but the magic didn’t last long and the poor bovine fell to the ground out of exhaustion. Barry and the lion created a lightning wind tunnel that knocked the creature away from the humans but it fought back with equal strength.

“Sam get back,” yelled Barry, “It’s too dangerous.”
“Not for much longer,” she said loudly before whispering something under her breath.

She walked forward, her gauntlets glowing with an intense mythical light. From one hand, she summoned a one-handed sword and in the other, a round shield. She blocked the first strike with the shield and then swiped at the creature’s arm with her blade then shield bashed it into the wall before leaping back. Her weapons changed again into a bow and arrow then she fired at the creature multiple times before shifting her weapons once more into a long staff with a hammer on the end. She whacked the hammer into the creature’s head, caving in the metal helmet before she swung it across its chest, knocking it away. The creature fell into pieces and Sam picked up a small black sphere that had dropped to the ground when the chest plate had fallen then crushed it between her fingers.

Several of the others quickly rushed to her aid when she collapsed to the ground, her mana reserves dangerously low. Barry reached her first and helped get her to the car before putting her in the passenger’s seat.

“You can summon Astra?” asked Drake.

“If you mean those light constructs then yeah,” Sam mumbled, “Press the air con, would you?”

Barry did so and Drake’s magical vision saw their magical reserves quickly return to normal.

“The spell of restoration,” said Barry, laying down in his cat form, “Clever Sam but now we would be able to use it for another eighteen hours.”

“Worth it,” she muttered and stretched out her arms, “Anyway, now we’re ready for anything.”

A loud beeping noise blared from Drake’s stone and when he answered Archie’s face appeared.

“They’ve broken through!”

“Who, wait what?” asked Barry, sitting up.

“The shadowmancers, they broke through the barrier protecting Big Ben! They’re calling everyone in to help and I knew that you’d want to know.”

“Wait why?”
“Because one of them is the Priestess, and Sam, she’s duelling your uncle.”

***

Sam had never been so determined in her live. She drove like a mad woman, using back alleys and roads that she never normally travelled by to get to her uncle. Barry readied himself in the back seat while Drake pleaded with Sam repeatedly to let him help.

“No Drake,” she commanded, “Now stop asking me and stay out of the fight!”

Drake felt the magic compel him to obey and he sat on his haunches, muttering about the unfairness of humans and cats. The moment they were on the other side of the bridge and entered the barrier, all three of them gaped at what they saw. The barrier had created a glamour that prevented humans from witnessing the carnage that was around the clock tower.

There were Guardian trainees, demons, Anchors and shadowmancers clashing in the air and on the ground, using their powers and skills to their full effect. Cars had been wrecked, the road as cracked and there were several bodies from both sides scattered across the street. The dark magic in the air had frozen the Thames and every breath taken in the cold air was visible. Sam parked on the edge of the battleground, next to a healing tent that the Guardians had set up.

“Where’s my uncle?” she asked one of the nurses.

She pointed to the terrace on the building where Sam could see the lights from several battles illuminating the night sky. Barry transformed and offered Sam his hand, which she took and they shot off into the sky. Barry landed on the balcony where Hector was duelling with three shadowmancers along with Quinten. The eagle had two ocean blue halos encircling his wrist, representing the level of power he had achieve during the battle. One more ring and he would reach his limit so Barry stepped in, summoning two silver rings of his own on his arm, and fired a blast of white energy that knocked one of their opponents off the roof. Hector created a wall of wire to defend against the shadow blades and Sam slammed her fist into the roof, sending a mystical tremor through the old tiles and collapsing it beneath the remaining shadowmancers.

“Took you long enough,” said Hector, “There’re more inside but I think-”

“Where is he?” demanded Sam, her golden aura flaring.

“Your uncle is in the tower,” said Quinten, “he and Scorpius were chasing the one known as the Priestess. We were told to protect the entrance.”

“Then let’s go,” Sam made for the door but Barry stopped her.

“Sam, we would only get in the way.”
“I don’t care!” she screamed, “He’s all I’ve got left. He’s… he’s…”
“I know,” said Barry, hugging her tightly, “But we have a job to do. If we defeat them out here, then we-”

An explosion from the side of the tower sent them flying. Barry and Quinten caught their Anchors and noticed someone falling from the tower. After setting Sam back down on the roof, Barry’s wings glowed a bright silver and he shot through the sky catching the falling figure before they hit the terrace.

It was Scorpius and he was in bad shape. His cloak and armour was shredded and his tail looked broken. The Zodiac mage was barely breathing when Barry set him down at the nurse’s station. After affirming he was in good hands, Barry shot back into the air. He was using a lot of his magic to fly at this speed but he knew that he had to press on. When he returned to where he had left Sam and the others to find it clear. Before he could do anymore a scaled black creature leapt at him and he engaged the beast with his fist, being too slow to draw his weapon.

While her partner fought below Sam had convinced Quinten and Hector to take her to the tower and they were climbing up the stairs until they found one of Alexander’s scythes imbedded into the wall. The chain was broken and the scythe was bent and had a huge crack on the blade. Sam increased her pace and when they reached the top of the tower, a horrific scene awaited them.

The Priestess sat cross-legged in the centre of a Pentecostal while a jaguar made of shadows patrolled the perimeter. Alexander hung above them, pinned to one of the supports via his scythe which was imbedded into his hands. He looked like a wild animal had attacked him and a thin trail of blood dripped from his hands and onto the magic circle below.

We seem to have guests, human

The voice seemed to come from the jaguar but the feline had not opened its mouth. The woman in the Pentecostal said nothing, fully immersed in her spell.

Fine, I shall deal with it myself then

The jungle cat leaped into the air at Quinten who tried to block it but his staff broke in half upon impact and the eagle fell to the claws of the vicious predator. Hector tried to ensnare it but the creature easily sliced through the threads and knocked the Anchor into the wall. Sam threw a punch but missed and the cat was upon her. Just before it could claw out her throat out a black blur threw it off her. It was Barry. Her friend had transformed into an actual panther and engaged the feral jaguar in a fierce battle, his body glowing with a soft silver light. Barry looked like he was outmatched but then Quinten grabbled the beast by the scruff of its neck and threw it off Barry. Three ocean blue halos ran up his arm and his eye glowed a fierce sapphire to match them.

“Water come to me!” he commanded and his left arm was covered in water and snow that quickly hardened to an ice fist that he used to beat back the jaguar. The beast gave a dark laugh and caught the fist in his jaws, then crushed it. Quinten screamed as his own arm snapped and fell to the ground, Barry then shot at the creature and took it outside.

Sam fired an energy blast at the support beam holding her uncle and caught him as he fell. He was pale and his aura had dissipated, leaving him vulnerable. She cast a protective barrier around him and stepped towards the Priestess, gauntlets on and rearing to go.

“Please child,” said the woman, “if the Dog and Scorpio Zodiac couldn’t defeat me what hope do you have?”
To show her Sam slammed her fist into the shield around the witch. Her attack cracked the floor and shook the room but the shield did not show any sign of weakening. Sam continued her assault, pouring a much magic into her attacks as possible until a small crack appeared. The crack grew and grew until the Priestess started to look annoyed.

When the crack grew to be nearly a metre long she finally snapped, sending a wave of her magic at Sam, sending her flying through the air and smacking against the wall. While Sam blinked away the stars in her eyes the shadowmancer advanced towards her, long shadow blades protruding from the dark haze around her. Sam summoned all her power and two light swords appeared in her hands then they clashed, shadow sword against blades of light. Sam was far out classed but she held her own until the Priestess summoned more swords which cut at Sam’s legs and arms until the young warrior’s weapons flickered and vanished, leaving her at the mercy of the most power shadowmancer in centuries. Sam collapsed under the Priestess’ onslaught and the old woman walked over to look the young girl in the eye.

“You intrigue me child,” said the old woman, “Your power far outranks that of your peers and yet you have always hidden this part of yourself, why?”

Sam gave her a questioning look and the old hag laughed.

“How did I know? I have eyes and ears in all my creatures, dear child. They showed me your power when you first released it earlier tonight. It’s sad really, that you were the last threat in my way to complete victory. To think you and I would be so alike.”

The jaguar came back through the hole he and Barry had made, the latter hanging limp in the dark jaguar’s mouth, back in his cat form. The jaguar dropped Barry on the ground before heading to the priestess.

“I see you had no trouble disposing of the Guardian?”

It was fun. This kitten displayed potential during our… “fight” but, in the end, it was for nought.

The Priestess smiled and walked back to the Pentecostal. Sam crawled towards her friend, neither villain paying any attention to her. She picked up Barry and held him to her chest, feeling his weak heartbeat slowly move back in sync with hers, their magic collecting until a pale light could be seen between them. Alexander reached out his arm weakly and laid it on his niece’s leg, adding the last trickle of his own power to theirs.

“Do it,” he said, his voice barely a hoarse whisper at this point.

“How precious, one last attempt to defy the new order,” mocked the priestess.

How pathetic

The glow shot a thin beam of energy outwards, passing between the two shadow fiends and phasing through the face of the clock. The beam flew across the sky and then shot towards something moving quickly near the riverbank. Whatever the light struck looked like it was hit hard and fell into the water.

For a moment, nothing happened then there was a low rumbling sound. It grew louder and louder until it was an ear-splitting din that drowned out all the cries and shouts that all the magic casters gathered issued when they saw a giant vortex of fire burst from the frozen waters of the river. The power within the flames was tremendous and the roar of the creature inside sent a shockwave across London, shattering windows and blowing back everyone near the clock tower. Blasts of shadows and light struck the vortex but it swept them aside as if they were flies then the flames gathered around a tall humanoid figure that shot for Big Ben. The jaguar leapt to intercept but it too was batted away like an insect and the fiery beast floated in front of the clock. The cat had left a large hole in the clock face and it was through this that the fiery being now gazed into the eyes of the Priestess.

“Welcome child of flame,” she said as if it were an old friend, “You have certainly shown your power but what was the point? Who do you fight for?”

“Myself.”

***

When Samantha and Bartholomew went to join the battle I was left pacing across a rooftop, all but praying to the ancients that they would be alright. Then the tower exploded and I saw Bartholomew’s light suddenly streak downwards. Fearing the worst, I tried flying towards them but the battle around the tower was so fierce I was forced to value caution over speed. Then I felt Samantha’s power start to fade, followed quickly by Bartholomew’s and I charged forwards. I was more than hallway towards them before a beam of energy struck me and, in surprise, I slipped and fell into the Thames.

Then two months’ worth of power came forth and I transformed back into my original body, my new armour forming around my form whilst covered in fire. The flames were new but effective, defending against the magic thrown at me, while I assessed the situation.

Samantha and the others were all gathered in the clock tower, along with a powerful shadowmancer and a being seemingly comprised of pure shadow. The shadow creature was easy to deal with, one swipe of my tail and it was sent flying, but the shadowmancer was another story entirely. Her powers were great, and for now, my own was able to match it but when I heard her question I fought back I hearty laugh. Who did I fight for? That was easy.

“Myself” I said and the flames around me tightened as I prepared for battle but then a giant titan grew from the ground and struck me with his fist.

I fell a few stories before I could regain my bearings and shot towards him. He was almost like a giant version of Bartholomew, if he were made up of twisted plant life and possessed blood red eyes. I switch my attention to it and my combat training took over.

I concentrated some of my new power into my fist before delivering a punch to its head, forcing it to take a step backwards, then threw several fistfuls of fire at it. Where ever they hit, an explosion occurred, driving the monster back even more, then I sent a blast of flames at its head. It tried to grab at me with its thorn-like claws but my new fire aura reacted first and let loose an explosion of energy to break free. I flew higher into the air, out of reach of the titan and tried concentrating my power into a single point, forming a rapidly growing fire sphere.

Impossible, the creature said, I am the Northern God! The first dark sun, I WILL NOT BE BESTED BY A MORTAL!

“From my point of view,” I said, “You’re just firewood.”

From my sphere came forth a beam of light that burned through the creature’s chest and head, leaving the rest of the body to fade away into shadow.

I could feel most of my new powers begin to fade and the once bright flames around me began to dim. I turned to the shadowmancer, she had watched the entire battle with a mild fascination.

“And now it is thy time witch,” I said. I was starting to understand why Gabriel loved to speak like this so much. It made me feel ancient and more powerful, like a force of nature.

“Oh, how you jest,” she mocked, “as if you could defeat someone like me.”

“All I see is an old human, well past her prime and growing more senile as the days unfold.”

“Is that so?” she said through clenched teeth.

“Aye, your delusions of grandeur end here witch. Thy shall never defeat one such as I.”

“So be it,” she said, bowing slightly, “Who am I to deny a mad Guardian’s challenge.”
I returned the bow while saying, “I am no mere Guardian, old women.”

“Nor I a mere woman, young reptile.”

The clock face exploded and she flew at me on wings of darkness. Shadows shot towards me and pierced through my defences, cutting deep under my scales. I roared and my fire increased, then I charged forward.

We clashed in the sky, fire against shadow, shadowmancer against gargoyle. My powers had been diminished by the fight with the Fallen One but I had more reason to endure this battle than she did. If she won, the world would fall into chaos and I couldn’t, no, I won’t let it happen while I drew breath.

I battled with my new element as if I had trained with it my whole live but my raw power was easily matched by her skill. She dodged and weaved through every attack as if I were lobbing snowballs and her shadows tore at my scales, drawing blood with each attack. I then gathered some of the mana around me and formed two long sword-like constructs, each several metres long.

I slashed at her but the Priestess summoned two blades of her own and countered my attack. I sliced and slashed with everything that I had but she fought with the conviction of a skilled swordswoman and she easily batted away my attacks until we flew away from our clash again.

I was breathing heavily while she seemed to be completely unfazed. I dropped my weapons and sent them shooting towards her like comets while she did the same with her swords. Both sets of weapons exploded between us as we each prepared our next strike.

Then sorceress drew a symbol in the air and a blast of pure darkness came from it, drinking in the light from everything around it. I called upon more mana from around me and fired the same blast that I had used on the beast. They met and merged together into a single point that exploded outwards. Neither of us was thrown far by the shockwave but I knew she was putting on a show for a reason. She was stalling.

“I doubt you can keep this up for much longer,” I shouted as I flew up to her level.

“Long enough,” she retorted and sent another volley of shadows my way but I evaded them then returned with my own volley of fireballs.

None of them made it past her wings which sent black feathers at me like arrows. I barely had time to block them before she fired another black beam of shadow magic at me. It tore through my defences and I was thrown towards the river, landing hard on the surface, now frozen by the dark magic from her forces.

My flames flickered weakly around me but they barely softened the ice with their remaining power. A giant fist of shadows grabbed me hoisted me into the air. She gave me the same look that a cat would give a mouse it had just caught, curious yet remorseless. The Priestess hit me with a heavy volley of shadow bolts before smashing me through the ice and into the ice-cold water. I sunk to the bottom, broken and beaten.

I’m sorry brother, I thought as I closed my eyes, I failed you again.

No, you didn’t.

My eyes shot open when I heard his voice. Is that you brother? Where are you?

Where I need to be. Now get up and call to your weapon.

But I don’t know where it is.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t near you.

I reached out with my hand and clutched something that had shot into my grasp. A sword handle, made of bright orange flames.

I smiled, then my own flames suddenly reignited. This time they were a deep maroon colour and they easily melted through the ice. I shot into the air and the flames dispelled around me, revealing my brother’s sword, a long straight blade covered in glowing ancient runes. Every cell in my body felt like it was on fire and I rushed forwards.

I cleaved through the Priestess’ initial barrage of shadow bolts and parried the shadow swords around her with my own blade then I slashed through the air towards her that carried with it a wave of fire. She conjured a wall of shadows to block the flames but when the spell fell I flew forwards her with a punch so strong that it cracked the ice beneath us on contact.

“How interesting,” she mused, one of her wings having blocked the attack, “I never assumed something like you still existed. This may require some…adjustments”

“Not all Gargoyles are dead witch,” I growled at her swinging the sword at her throat but she caught it with her other wing, “and as long as I draw breath, you will not win.”

“An issue to be dealt with at a later date. For now, though, I think we’ve seen enough.”

She threw me backwards and rose into the air. Before I could follow she was swallowed in a dark haze and vanished into the shadows.

My brother’s sword faded away, leaving only the blade behind and a sour taste in my mouth. I did not enjoy been toyed with. After retrieving the broken blade, I flew up to Samantha and Bartholomew, glad to see their auras were recovering, as were Alexander’s, the eagle and bird’s partner. As the five of them stirred I took to the skies again, the remains of my brother’s sword still clutched in my hands. I felt what little power I had left begin to fade rapidly as the binding spell around me began to return. I soared into the night and disappeared in the clouds.

***

Sam and Barry were rushed to the GSA and checked over with Alexander. Whatever Drake had done to keep the Priestess occupied had given them a chance to replenish their auras and start to heal. Alexander had been rushed into the same ward as Maximus, who was still in a healing trance, where he received the same treatment as his partner while Scorpius was merely confined to bedrest.

Seekers were completely at a loss for what had happened as most of their forces had been half dead during Drake’s transformation and his fight with the Priestess. From what they could gather, someone had arrived in the nick of time and had beaten back the shadowmancer’s forces.

A few eye witnesses said that he was wreathed in flames during the entire battle so no one knew what he looked like. Sam and Barry had been given a lift home, Sam being in no condition to drive anywhere. When they got home, Sam had one arm in a sling while Barry’s chest and left leg were wrapped in a healing linen cloth.

“Do you think he’s still out?” asked Sam as she inserted her key into the lock.

“Probably,” said Barry as they limped across the threshold, “He might as well enjoy a few hours of- wow.”

Drake was sleeping soundly in his spot on the couch, as if nothing had happened. On the table in from of him lay two glasses of milk and a small plate of pink flower petals. Next to them sat a note which Sam read to Barry in a low whisper.

Sorry to disappear like that but I assumed you had enough explaining to do without me there to make things worse. Here’s a plate of Wind Flower petals, to help you regain some of your strength and the milk to help mend any broken bones. I used up a lot of my power tonight so please excuse me while I have a well-deserved slumber for the next few hours.

Sam smiled and covered the sleeping reptile with a blanket and kissed him lightly on the forehead, whispering a soft, “Thanks”. She and Barry took the treats to her room where they ate and drank in silence before taking Drake’s lead and falling into a deep slumber.

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About the author

Doran Shroud

Bio: I also have some art posted on DeviantArt: https://www.deviantart.com/doranshroud

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