Then read on…
“They are coming!” Senon shouted above the noise as he barricaded the door. “Marcaria, take Larissa to the garden, to the shuttle!”
“No, I can’t leave you. I won’t!” Marcaria shook her head.
“Don’t worry about me, I – ”
A deafening blast blew the door open, knocking Senon to the ground. He quickly picked himself up as an ear splitting scream followed, forcing both him and Marcaria to crouch over their daughter. With their hands over their ears, they waited for the scream to die down. They rose to their feet as soon as it did. The scream was the witches’ scream, deadly, if anyone came close to it.
A series of blue, green, and yellow flares flew at them but Larissa had used her shield.
“Good girl,” said Senon.
“Father, so…hard…” Larissa lost her strength and the spell collapsed.
“We can’t stay here, Senon.” Marcaria picked Larissa up and ran to the garden.
Senon looked at the space where the door once stood and followed his family to the back of the house.
The attacks were aimed from afar, but Senon knew the Empire Witches were moving closer into their village. The most powerful and merciless on Zrotaz, were the Witches of the West, the Empire Witches will do anything to get what they want, and this time it was the girl. No one had yet defeated this clan, meaning Senon and Marcaria alone did not stand a chance.
Trying to find cover in the back yard, Marcaria tried to rouse Larissa, who was still unconscious. Suddenly she heard the undisguiseable cries, coupled with a surge of heat, and realized the witches brought dragons. They were evil black dragons, huge, muscular, and scaly. Their red talons scraped the earth, and their large ugly nostrils could smell fear. It wasn’t a myth; their fire breath was the most lethal and cursed than any other creature on Zrotaz. Other dragons feared these monsters that had been recruited by the Empire Witches.
The townsfolk were fighting side by side with Senon and Marcaria. They promised they wouldn’t let the Empire Witches take Larissa. She was their only hope to free this world of them. Marcaria knew the Empire Witches needed and wanted their daughter…no, she would not let them. She needed to take Larissa away to safety!
A terrifying roar filled the night sky and a rush of raw, dry, hot air blew towards them. Marcaria felt her daughter’s hand squeeze hers tightly. She looked down at her, and gave a nod. Senon looked at his wife with worry and fear etched on his face.
“It will be too much for her,” he said.
“Larissa is confident, she wants to try. It may be our only chance to get away,” replied Marcaria.
Larissa took her father’s index finger into her small palm and he felt the beginning of her spell, already powerful for a five-year-old Zrotaz witch.
“Okay,” he sighed. “Be careful, my angel.”
They led her to the edge of the garden where the trees hid them, but where they could still see the dragons and the Empire Witches. Larissa took a deep breath and muttered a spell. White film trailed out from her palms, she pushed them up and towards their enemies. Marcaria was acutely aware of Larissa’s power emanating from her very core. Soon, the roar of dry heat and screams died. An eerie silence followed as snow particles replaced the dragon’s fire.
Marcaria spotted the Empire Witches’ surprise and hatred etched on their faces as they hovered above the ground, sitting on the backs of the dragons. They leapt to the ground, defying gravity, from the now dazed dragons who tried to blow fire.
“Two can play at this game,” sang Richiney, the High Witch’s personal guard.
Clapping her hands, she spread her arms wide and opened her mouth. A whistling noise enveloped them all, which made it almost impossible for their thoughts to flow. Larissa’s spell broke, the dragons’ disorientation lifted, and once again, oppressing heat came forth, only this time stronger and fiercer than before. Richiney called her comrades.
“The child is near; I am able to sense her. Burn down every house until she is found. Now go!”
Marcaria turned to her husband, fearing for Larissa and this village. “We must do something, Senon. Everyone will die! The Empire Witches will not care, nor will they show mercy. The village will no longer be!”
“Take Larissa to the shuttle. I will try and hold them off,” said Senon.
Marcaria, who was torn between getting their daughter to safety and leaving her husband, didn’t move. Senon took her hands in his and kissed her.
“I know what you are thinking. I will be safe, I promise. I will be with you and Larissa in no time. Please take her. Get her to safety.” He pushed his wife and daughter towards the shuttle and waited until he saw Marcaria put Larissa safely inside.
As he turned back, the trees burned down in front of him, sending waves of more dense heat his way. Shielding his eyes, he crawled away and took a moment before his mind cleared so he could gather his power from his core. He sensed an Empire Witch behind him, summoning the spell to kill. He concentrated on his own spell. A hot glow began within.
“Kurrancha!” he yelled, waving his arms high above his head.
The trees that escaped the dragons’ wrath, tore from the roots and hovered over the witch’s head, then crashed down on her. An ear-piercing wail escaped the damned witch before she dissipated into dust. Senon looked towards the shuttle, but he could not see Marcaria or Larissa. He supposed they were inside, but he wanted to be sure. His heart thumping in his chest, Senon called to them using telepathy. There was no reply from either of them.
The lights in the garden flickered and then complete darkness surrounded him. A witch was there, hiding in the dark…he felt himself succumbing to the spell of the Sleep of Death…
“Wake up; I will not let you die on me!”
The spell lifted a little, allowing Senon to open his eyes. It took a moment before he realised Marcaria was kneeling in front of him.
Senon smiled. “Where is Larissa?”
“She is here, with me. Come my love, we must leave.”
“So weak…Sleep of Death…”
Marcaria gasped. “No! No Senon, you are stronger than this! You can fight the spell. Just…focus! I will not let you die!”
“Take care of our angel, my darling…”
Marcaria screamed as Senon closed his eyes, finally giving out.
“Mother, what is wrong with Father? Why is he sleeping?” Tears slid down from Larissa’s emerald eyes.
Marcaria wiped her own tears and hugged her daughter tight. “Go Darling, go back into the shuttle, and lay low. Keep the Crystal close. Do not worry about me and do not look for me. I will be with you in a moment.”
“Yes, Mother,” Larissa ran to the shuttle.
Marcaria’s close friend, Zarina, appeared by her side.
“Zarina, oh thank heavens you are here. I need to wake Senon…”
“Marcaria, Senon is dead. You cannot wake him. Look at me and listen. Richiney will be here any moment. You must go now. The shuttle is ready and the gateway is open.”
“But Senon…” tears blurred Marcaria’s eyes.
“There is nothing you can do for him. I’m sorry.”
“You can revive him, I know you can.”
“I cannot. It is beyond my powers. Marcaria, his soul has left his body. Please, you must take Larissa away, before it is too late, before the Empire Witches take her.” There was a note of urgency in Zarina’s voice.
The lights in the garden were glowing again; Marcaria saw the mark that the spell had left on Senon’s forehead.
“Oh, Senon,” Marcaria fell to her husband’s side, kissing his closed eyes and still, warm lips. “I shall miss you very much.”
“Do you have the Crystal?” Zarina asked.
“It is in the shuttle.”
“Then you must go – now!”
“Not without giving me the child,” bellowed a voice from behind. Both witches jumped.
Richiney smiled. “Where is she, Marcaria?”
“You will not have her, Richiney,” Marcaria braved.
“You will do as I say or…” the Empire Witch looked at Senon. “Poor Senon, if he hadn’t tried to fight, he would still be alive.”
“How dare you. I will kill you!” Marcaria screamed while lunging herself at the evil witch.
Richiney pointed a finger towards Marcaria and she rose into the air. A small twirl had her slamming to the ground. Zarina attempted to go to Marcaria’s aid, but a blast from Richiney’s wand had her frozen. She laughed and used another spell to bring Marcaria to her feet.
“Hand over the girl or you will regret it,” the tone was not forgiving.
The shuttle began to glow. A blue mist surrounded the transport. It was time to go. Marcaria knew she had to enter the shuttle now and dissolve into particles before the Gateway closed.
“I will not succumb to you or any of your kind!” spat Marcaria.
Before Richiney could respond, she flew into the small shuttle where her daughter lay hidden. Larissa sat crouched in a corner, with the Crystal clutched in her hand.
Marcaria kissed her daughter’s forehead and took the Crystal from her hand. She drew a breath and the transport, along with herself and Larissa, dissipated into particles, she heard a high- pitched scream…
Marcaria should have felt relief at escaping Zrotaz and the evil Empire Witches, but her heart was heavy. She and her daughter were leaving their home and loved ones, living and dead, behind. For how long, she couldn’t bear to consider, she just knew that they’d be gone as long as was required.
Marcaria hugged her daughter closer, closed her own eyes, and sent a silent prayer to her husband to watch over and protect them in this new chapter of their journey.
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