Flames spread across the damp green land, swallowing up even the wettest of plants and sending up plumes of thick suffocating smoke. “Nereus! A little help here would be greatly appreciated!” A partly high pitched voice pierced through the roar of the blazing fires.
“Just hang on a while longer.” Mistveil was slowly burning to the ground after an unexpected attack was launched by a rather unusual feral creature. Itzal and Tamotsu were in the process of driving the creature away from Mistveil while Nereus attempted to put out the larger of the fires. If it could be avoided, the elemental warriors always tried to avoid killing- even in cases with rampaging feral creatures. However, Nereus was not all too sure that they would be able to calm down the creature before it seriously hurt anyone.
Three of the elemental warriors, Ebele, Urith, and Enlil, were currently in the process of evacuating the area and leading everyone safely up river where the flames were unlikely to reach. Shant and Onatah had been sent to find Aalok and Soyala who had not been at base when the news of the attack had come. The last of the elemental warriors, Garan, was on a trip doing some research as was usually the case.
Nereus was an Eastern Serpent- a rare type of Eastern Dragon that had adapted to be best suited for life in the ocean or in large lakes. While these creatures were capable of walking with little difficulty on dry land, they were one of the few species of Dragon incapable of flight. Nereus was the current leader of the elemental warriors and remain so until he dies, steps down, or is incapable of continuing his duties.
“Hurry up then!” Another voice, almost identical to the first, called back. “This beast is not getting any happier!” The feral creature that was attacking Mistveil was clearly a fire elemental with a huge mean streak. At the moment, it was unclear of what species the creature was due to the fact that it was entirely coated in red hot flames. From what they could tell, based on the shape of the flames, the creature had a long slender body.
One of the warriors that was fending off the feral was Itzal, a Lion who possessed the shadow element and had proven over time to be a very reliable asset to the group. He had originally traveled further north to find a new place to live and settle down and eventually ended up in Hala where he had met Nereus. Shadow elementals were hard to come by, just like spirit elements, so after proving his skill in an emergency caused by a sudden flood he had been invited to join the elemental warriors.
The other warrior that was helping Itzal was a far stranger being. Tamotsu was a rather long and thin grey snake. What made him unusual was the fact he was born with two heads- and lived. If it were not for the fact he was quite small in size and only had two heads, he could have been mistaken for a Hydra. Both heads had their own independent thoughts, though one was often more quiet than the other. It was not rare to see the two quarrel, but they made a very efficient team when they managed to cooperate long enough.
Being a metal element, Tamotsu’s main job was as a blacksmith. There was no question that he was one of the best at what he did despite the more than obvious lack of paws or claws to work with. The snake was not much of a fighter, spending more time at the forge making whatever the two heads could agree upon. However, Tamotsu was more than capable of holding his own in a fight. What he lacked in both size in strength he made up with speed, strategy- and poison.
Nereus turned his attention to the lake that sat beside Mistveil. At least the fire elemental made poor choice in where to have a fight. “Heads up!” He called out to Tamotsu and Itzal. Thankfully, the feral creature seemed to be too focused on the other two to notice Nereus plotting in the background. Water began to rise up from the lake slowly gathering into one giant blob of water that floated over their heads.
“Itzal!” The snake called out as he noticed what Nereus’ was doing. The Lion gently grabbed Tamotsu and slung him across his broad shoulders. Being as small and light as he was, Tamotsu could easily be washed away by a strong enough rush of water.
Nereus released the blob of water on top of the fire elemental. The sizzling sound of evaporating water filled the air followed by a cloud of steam. The earth, just a little bit damp before, was now completely drenched and muddy. “I wish he’d give us more warning before he does that. Last time I nearly ended up taking a ride down a water fall.” The snake hissed as he dropped down into a big puddle.
“This isn’t over.” While most of the fire had been put out, the fire elemental was still standing and ready to fight- coat of fire and everything.
“Are you sure that thing is feral?” Tamotsu gazed at the fire elemental for a few moments. “No normal fire elemental- feral or not- could still use it’s abilities after a drenching like that.”
The feral creature stood incredibly still save for the wind pulling at it’s flames. The creature’s red tinted eyes, barely visible under the burning coat, were wide open and gave no hint to what the fire user was thinking. Even Nereus began to feel unsettled as the silence persisted. No one moved.
“Something isn’t right here.” Nereus spoke quietly, barely audible to Itzal and Tamotsu. This can’t be a feral creature…
There was something in the way the beast acted that bothered Nereus. It seemed as if it had a purpose- what that goal was, however, remained unknown to the Eastern Serpent.
“Should we attack?” Itzal asked, slowly circling the fire elemental as he sought out a point at which he could attack. Every creature had a weak point, it was just a matter of finding it.
“I suppose. It’s better than just waiting for it to make the next move.” Nereus knew better not to underestimate any creature, especially the unpredictable ones. “Just be careful.”
The shadow elemental carefully crept up on the flaming beast as if he were stalking prey, not knowing what to expect. “Itzal, wait!” The Lion had just leapt forward as Tamotsu cried out. “It’s an illusion!” The Lion’s claws met empty air and muddy ground as the image of the fire elemental vanished. This is definitely not an ordinary feral creature.
A jolt of electricity shot through the Eastern Serpent’s body. “Gah!” He growled and shook his back as a searing heat scorched his scales.
“Nereus!” It was clear that the creature was now on his back trying to severely burn the water elemental. He continued to thrash about until finally he dislodged the creature’s claws from his scaled body just before the Serpent dove for the lake. Thankfully Nereus’ damp scales had protected him from any serious burns although they were slightly blacker in color.
“This thing is getting really annoying.” One of the snake’s heads muttered as the three warriors once again lost sight of the creature. ”You’re one to talk.” The other said retorted and received a head butt from the other.
“Itzal!” the Lion looked over at the water elemental who was about knee-deep in the lake. “We need to catch it off guard. Tamotsu and I will serve as a distraction.”
“Of course, thanks for asking.” Tamotsu protested just as the Lion vanished without a word.
Shadow elements were perfect for ambushes and surprise attacks due to their ability to literally hide in the shadows. The shadow element was often considered to be closely related to the dark element, which was partially true, and like the dark element, was often disliked, but not to the same extent. Shadow abilities were mostly non-offensive and relied more heavily on the user’s intelligence rather than brute strength or speed. When used effectively, the shadow element has great potential and is considered very dangerous. Thankfully, Itzal was on their side.
“It’s moving around to my right.” The snake motioned with his tail tip in one direction.
“Where?” Nereus saw nothing except the mist, smoke, and some steam. “I don’t see it?” One would think a flaming feral creature would be pretty easy to locate.
“It’s using illusions, but it’s there.”
“Fire elementals cannot create illusions.”
“Or electrocute serpents.” Tamotsu snapped back. “This one is obviously no normal fire elemental.” The snake coiled up into a defensive position.
“Alright then, how do you know where it is?” The creature was likely watching them and waiting for the first opportunity to strike.
“Heat.” Tamotsu replied. “The best is still on fire, illusions or not.” Nereus paused. The metal elemental was right. He could feel a wave of heat coming from the direction that the twin-headed creature had pointed out. “Now that we’ve cleared that up- now what?”
“Itzal can’t attack yet, so we wait.” The fire would give off a light that would get rid of any shadows in the area directly surrounding the unknown creature.
“Fun, as if we’ve never tried that before.” Tamotsu muttered. “Want to play a game or two while we wait?” He said sarcastically.
“This isn’t the time to joke around.” Nereus scolded. What is this thing’s motive?
Whoever or whatever it was that they were fighting was far too intelligent- and powerful- to be a mere feral rampaging through the area. The problem was, only a feral or simply cruel creature would attack a village as peaceful as Mistveil unprovoked.
“It’s coming.” Tamotsu’s quieter head warned. Nereus could feel the air around him rise in temperature gradually. As the heat intensified the illusion began to fade until the fire elemental was more than visible before their eyes. It’s target was the much smaller and more vulnerable Tamotsu, but a powerful swing of Nereus’ tail sent it flying in one direction.
At that moment, Itzal came out and crashed into the flaming creature midair just before it could begin it’s descent back to the earth. “Hold it down!” Nereus ordered. He knew Itzal would not be a very happy feline after this, but this was their chance to extinguish the flames.
“That’s gonna hurt.” Tamotsu noted.
“Whatever you’re planning, do it fast.” The Lion pinned the fire elemental down with a firm grip despite the flames lapping at his mane, belly, and legs.
The serpent created a large sphere of water from the lake. Hopefully the residents of Mistveil would not be too horribly upset that a good portion of the lake water would be not in the lake, but scattered across the ground in both large and small puddles. It took a great deal of focus for Nereus to guide the sphere of water towards Itzal and the best. “Alright, push it in!”
At this point, the creature was struggling furiously, biting and clawing at the shadow elemental with no particular aim. With some difficulty Itzal managed to grab the fiery creature with his claws and shove it into the sphere of water. “Thanks, Itzal.” Nereus muttered as steam burst from the sphere creating a veil that cloaked the sphere from view. “That should get rid of the fire this time.” Based on the amount of white steam, it would take a minute or two for it all to clear. Unless the creature was much smaller than it seemed, it would live long enough without air. “Are you alright, Itzal?”
“Never ask me to do that again.” He muttered and let himself collapse onto the muddy ground. Thankfully a thin layer of mud coating had helped reduce the amount of burns he received, but one could still easily see his blackened belly fur.
“Tamotsu, would you go get Ebele?” Ebele was a nature elemental that specialized in using plants and herbs for medical uses. It looked like the Lion would need some of her expertise. “Tamotsu?” The snake had slithered closer to the sphere of water to get a better look at the feral creature.
“Nereus, let it go!” There was an edge of panic in his voice. Several red flashes illuminated the sphere one after another.
“Tamotsu, what’s wrong?” The creature had not been in the water long enough to suffocate… right?
“Just do it!” The tone of Tamotsu’s voice startled the water elemental. Without another moment of hesitation the Eastern Serpent released the water allowing it, and the creature, to fall to the ground. An eerie red glow enveloped the fire elemental. A sickening screech filled the air as the glowing form thrashed on the ground.
Unable to comprehend what was going on, Nereus merely stared in shock. “What’s going on?” The creature thrashed about furiously setting off several sparks of fire which quickly died with nothing to grab onto. The piercing cries soared into the air sending a shiver of fear down Nereus’ spine. As quickly as it all began, the red glow faded to reveal who had attacked Mistveil.
“What just happened?”
“I… I don’t know,” Lying on the ground was an Eastern Dragon with light grey, almost silver, fur and a dull blue mane. Several splotches of dark red suggested that the creature’s fur was covering up a good number of deep cuts and scars- most of which seemed very recent despite none of the three having directly attacked the fire elemental with claws, teeth, or other sharp objects. Two short horns stuck straight out from the Dragon’s head bearing the same dull brown as it’s underbelly scales.
“Do you know who it is?” Nereus could not help shake the feeling that this Dragon looked vaguely familiar. Tamotsu slithered towards the motionless Dragon to take a closer look.
“No need.” He muttered. “She’s dead.” The Dragon, upon closer inspection seemed to be a young Dragoness with a very peaceful face. No one would have believed that only minutes before that she was trying to destroy everything in sight. Nereus noted that the Eastern Dragon did not bear the appearance of a feral creature.
“I didn’t mean to kill her.”
“I don’t think you did, Nereus.” Tamotsu spoke calmly. “I don’t think being trapped in water for two minutes would have killed her. Anyone who can use fire, electric, and light abilities must have extreme endurance.”
“I think you two are looking too far into this.” Itzal grunted.
“Hmm…” Nereus looked to the sky then back to the dead Dragon. “I suppose we should clean up here.”
Aalok could now see the plumes of smoke rising up from the direction of Mistveil. To put it simply, things did not look too great from his current position. It must have been a large fire to have caused so much smoke. “Please.” He whispered. “Let everyone be okay.” However much he tried to ignore it, a feeling of dread had crept into his heart.
Before long he finally caught sight of small, charred, buildings next to a lake that looked like it had been partially drained of water. The Eastern Dragon could see Itzal laying down in a part of the village that had been heavily damaged. “Itzal!” He can’t be dead!
He quickly made his way down to the ground to go to the aid of his friend.
“Careful!” Aalok had nearly landed on top of a very muddy looking Tamotsu.
“Sorry, I didn’t see you there!” He apologized to the snake then turned to Itzal. Was he… sleeping? Oddly enough, that did not surprise him. And here I was worried.
The light elemental was glad to know that everyone, so far, seemed to be okay. At least there were no dead bodies scattered about.
“It’s alright- just be more careful.” The lack of sarcasm told Aalok that the twin-headed snake was rather tired.
“Just a fire elemental going on some sort of rampage.” He pointed at Itzal with his tail. “The lazy kitty over there and Nereus took care of it, though.” Itzal grunted some sort of response then fell back asleep. “So, how’d it go with your girlfriend?”
“What are- uh- Tamotsu!” Aalok stammered. “I’m not- We’re-“
“Relax!” Tamotsu laughed. He enjoyed giving the Eastern Dragon a rough time. “I’m just kidding with you.” Not really. “Anyway, you missed all the fun over here.”
Aalok remembered that he should go back to meet up with Amaris since things seemed to be under control. First, though, he wanted to make sure his sister and friends were alright. “Where is everyone?”
“Nereus is cleaning up the mess, Shant and-“
“No, I mean the Mistveil villagers.”
“Oh, I’m sure everyone will be glad to know you were so concerned.” Tamotsu laughed. “As for the villagers, Urith, Ebele, and Enlil led them upstream some ways. Just follow the river and you’ll find them eventually.” There was a large river that emptied out into Mistveil Lake. It was well known for it’s usually calm and warm waters and was a favorite spot for swimming and fishing. “Oh, if you’re heading there, tell Urith that things have settled down over here.”
“Also, I do believe Shant went to find Ebele, but if you see her, send her over. Itzal might appreciate that.”
“Alright. Is that it?”
“Tamotsu- I’m in a hurry here!”
“Actually, that’s it.” Tamotsu laughed and coiled up on top of a nearby rock. “Lighten up, it’s not like there’s some sort of emergency going on… anymore.”
You have no idea.
Aalok sighed and flew up into the air. He quickly found where the river emptied out into the lake and headed upstream. Everyone was only a few short miles away.
“Aalok!” What is it now?
A large, handsome, Griffon met him midair. The Griffon had dark brown feathers with white flecks at the tips of most of his plumage. Around his neck was a black mane that blended into his brown feathers and fur. “I was about to go check up on Nereus’ group.”
“Everything has settled down from the looks of it, Enlil.”
“That’s good to hear. We were getting a little bit worried over here.”
“Tamotsu asked me to send over Ebele… do you know where she is?”
“Is everyone alright?” The Griffon asked immediately sounding concerned.
“Just some minor burns from what I could tell. Nothing serious.” He looked at the small crowd of creatures that represented the entire population of Mistveil. “Sorry, Enlil, but I’m in a bit of a hurry.” He muttered before going over to the crowd.
“No problem.” Enlil called out from behind. “Don’t worry about Ebele, I’ll find her.” Aalok was grateful for the help. Enlil was usually very reliable and was a great friend. If anyone ever needed help, no matter how trivial or difficult the task, Enlil would do his best to help in whatever way he could manage.
Aalok landed and began weaving through the small crowd until he found a very familiar face, which thankfully did not take too long. “Shira!” A small female wolf with neatly groomed grey fur lifted up her head.
“Well, well, what do we have here?” The Wolf was an intelligent and independent being with a knack for getting into all sorts of mischief. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Some of us were beginning to think that you’ve forgotten all about us in our humble little village here.”
“I’m sorry, but you know how busy I can be… Anyway, have you seen me sister?”
“Maybe.” A playful grin crossed the Wolf’s muzzle.
“Shira, please! I don’t have time for this!”
“Alright, alright. Stop being such a grouch.” She yawned. “Aala left for Kalm a few days ago.” At least she was safe away from Mistveil and the attack. “She said she’d drop by Hala on her way home. Try not to be too busy when she comes.”
“Thanks, Shira.” Aalok turned to leave. It was about time he headed back to Hala to look for Velius again.
“Leaving so soon?” Shira stopped him.
“I have something I have to do, sorry, but I’ve really got to get going now. I’ll come by another day.”
“Oh really now?Care to let me in on what you’re up to?” The Wolf gave Aalok a playful push.
“I’d rather not.”
“Is it something to do with your dark Dragon friend?” She winked at Aalok.
“Why does everyone jump to the conclusion that- No!” Aalok sighed.
“I knew it!” Shira laughed. “You’re a horrible liar. You know that?” Aalok said nothing. Was she trying to delay him or something? “You should take lessons from me!”
“That would be a rather bad idea, actually.” Aalok looked at the sky. The sun was beginning to descend behind the mountains. “I should get going now.”
“Don’t waste your time, Aalok.” The Eastern Dragon had no time to respond before Shira jumped up on top of him and forced Aalok of his feet and onto the ground. “If it’s Amaris you’re looking for- she’s right there!”