“I only take orders from the dragon carrier,” Airlia called over her shoulder to her riders.
“The what?” Katie shouted over the wind.
“Dragon carrier,” the griffin answered.
“What is that?” Katie shouted.
“It is--” but Airlia was interrupted.
“Intruders!” a distant voice came from below.
Katie looked down. They weren’t that far from the men guarding the gates. They could see them. Any minute, and the wizard would be upon them.
“Airlia, take us out of here!” she shouted. The creature started beating her wings, pushing them forward. Then things went terribly wrong.
Arrows raked the air all around. It looked as if it were raining them. Most missed them all together, but they weren’t very lucky. One grazed the side of Katie’s arm. She cried out in pain as the arrow slipped and fell away.
Airlia snorted. Katie guess that she had been hit too. She covered the wound on her arm as best as she could. The beat of the wings grew loud as Airlia tried to get away from the arrows.
“Higher!” Richard shouted from behind.
Airlia didn’t take his order.
“Go higher!” Katie shouted.
Airlia did as she was directed from Katie. They soured higher. Most of the arrows couldn’t make it this high.
“We have to get away!” Katie shouted. “Before the wizard gets here!”
She looked down towards the ground. They were far up, but she could still see things on the ground. And... there! There was Lord Zarha.
“Now!” she screamed. The wizard’s arms rose up, shooting something at them. Katie knew what it was. The very same thing that had destroyed her home and village. Fire.
The griffin struggled to raise them higher. She must have been wounded. There was nothing they could do about it. They would have to wait until they land. Katie’s hand was covered in blood. Her blood.
The first jet of fire shook the very air as it flew past. Katie thanked the gods that the wizard had bad aim. She was glad that he wasn’t able to hit them.
As if she had thought too soon, the bolt of fire curved through the air above. Suddenly, it was racing back at them. They were going to collide. The griffin didn’t seem to notice that death was speeding its way at her. Or maybe she didn’t care.
Katie rose her own hands. She wasn’t sure what made her do it, but she knew that the consequences would be dire if she failed. Summoning her courage and strength, she shouted the first thing that came to her mind.
“Water!” Though she had screamed it, it was gone with the wind rushing past.
She cursed herself for being useless. She wasn’t sure exactly what she would have been able to do, but she knew she had to do something. Thinking quick, she looked down again. Was it just her, or could she see the evil smile of Lord Zarha? Then it hit her.
The ring had to be what was giving this man power. He had said something about a prophecy. She wondered if the ring held magical powers. Did he obtain his magic from her ring? The prophecy he had read to her rang through her head.
‘The Gods will come to power when the day turn black; and an evil power shall take rein when the ring of all power comes into the hands of the Lord.’
The day had turned black, but Zarha didn’t appear to be at his greatest power yet. She wondered if something was wrong with the ring. Or maybe . . .
No! It was too much to hope for. Of course Zarha wouldn’t have been careless enough to lose the ring.
The fire ball was soaring at them. Less than a minute and it would hit the griffin. Richard was shouting something, but Katie ignored him. She had her own thoughts to sort out. If only she could remember the rest of that part of the Book of Tradition. There had to be something.
“Showers of light can beat this power, but only when the ring is back in her possession. A fly of feathers shall save the one that is destine to do so. And so the ring will be used to point out another destiny, one that will save the work from a tyrant,” she shouted aloud. She remembered! That was it! She carefully thought this through and decided that there wasn’t any other choice.
Katie jumped off the griffin’s back.
“No!” Richard shouted at her. Katie wished that he wouldn’t jump after her. She had faith that Brianna wouldn’t allow him to.
She was falling head first. Her hair streamed around her face. She accelerated so quickly. It was the most wonderful rush she had ever felt. Wind in her ears blocked out every sound. A soft laugh left her lips, but was pulled from her mouth the moment she uttered it.
Katie knew what was going to happen, but she couldn’t help but fear that she had thought wrong. What if she was wrong?
There was no place for doubt, she told herself. She closed her eyes.
“Air,” she whispered, but it was lost in the wind. Nothing seemed to happen.
She could sense that the ground wasn’t that far away from her. There were shouted from above her and below her, but they sounded so quiet. She could feel the arrows ripping through the air around her. None struck her.
“Enough!” a voice shouted from below her. She did not have to look because she knew who it was. “Hit the girl! Forget the griffin! Hit the girl!”
Katie didn’t bother to open her eyes. She knew they would be coming. The wind lashed her hair around, but she paid it no heed. She focused.
“Air” she whispered. It wasn’t there. She couldn’t get a grip on it.
But she knew it was there.
Another moment, and she heard the sound of arrows ripping through the air again. This time, she knew, they were coming at her.
At last, she threw open her eyes. Leaning forward so she was looking up at the griffin in flight, down her body and legs, she saw what she knew was coming. The fire ball, which had not been directed at the griffin, had been directed at her. This magic had a link to her, through her necklace, somehow. The bolt of fire covered the griffin and its ridders. She couldn’t see Richard or Brianna from behind the fire bolt.
She threw her hands out and pointed them down her body towards the fire that was coming at her. She felt it, the little click. Everything came together in an instant and she knew what she had been doing wrong.
“Air!” she screamed. In her mind she saw what was about to happen. She knew it would happen as she wanted it too. That was the trick. She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew it was true.
A large burst of light shot from her hands as soon as the word had cleared her mouth. The light was brighter than anything she had ever seen before, but it didn’t hurt her to look at it. She knew she was the boss of this light. She was the creator of it and could direct it to do as she wanted.
The light connected with the fire bolt. A loud crash shook the very air as the light took the fire in. Lashes of heat raced past her as the remainder of the fire fell away. The light shone brighter than before.
She felt the ground pressing upon her. The time has come if she will live or die. If she could use the light to envelope the fire, she should be able to use it for other means. Now was the test to see if it will save her life. If it didn’t save her, at least she knew she had saved Richard and Brianna.
In her mind, she directed the light to fly at her. It came at a startling speed, but she did not slow it. She had moments before the ground came up to her. She wished that her desperate acts weren’t playing in her judgment.
The light raced past her.
She saw it happen, even before it had actually happened. Now was the moment. She feared it wouldn’t work. The ground was so close.
She landed atop the light, as soft of a landing as if she hit clouds. It cushioned her fall, making it easy on her body. She smiled.
Her strength seemed to have been sapped from her body. She laid back, tired. A smile pressed against her lips as she looked up at Richard above her. He was leaning over the side of the griffin. It was hard to see, but it almost looked like he was smiling down at her.
And then the arrows came.
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