"Where are we now?" Sparrow asked. He sat behind Eva, who was mounted on her battlehorse Saiph and wearing a scowl on her tan face. Lisbeth, sitting atop Hyacinth, smiled. "We're passing the ruins of Castle Elunsear, if that helps you form a picture."
They had been on the road for quite some time, and everyone was getting restless. Sparrow was annoyed because Eva was being cross with him, Eva was annoyed because Sparrow was asking where they were every ten minutes, and Lisbeth was annoyed because she had to listen to their constant bickering.
Lalune had sent them off with cheery waving and plenty of food. Lisbeth even got a change of clothing that matched her new strand of hair. The witch had said that it was another way of showing friendship between a human and their Guardian. Lisbeth was just happy to have clean clothes after being stuck in the same outfit for weeks.
Their destination, the northern town of Greyglen, was just over the next hill in the distance, and they hoped to reach it by nightfall, if not sooner.
"Where are we now?" Sparrow was lucky that he couldn't see Eva's face. She fixed him with a glare that could kill a cockatrice, and let out a huff. "You just asked that."
"I know. I figured that we were past the ruins."
"We're not past them yet." Eva said, raising her voice a little.
"Who's that running up to us?" Lisbeth noticed a small shape approaching.
"How should any of us know the answer to that question? Have you ever been to Greyglen?" Eva snorted.
"We should probably see who it is. They may be in need of some help." Sparrow said, as quiet as ever.
Lisbeth nodded and stopped Hyacinth with a tug on the horse's reins. Eva did the same, and the girls dismounted.
As the mystery person came into view, they saw that it was a boy around nine or ten. He had soot smudged on his face and clothing, and they couldn't tell if his hair was naturally black or just dirty. The fact that he had run all the way from Greyglen indicated that he was probably a squire or messenger boy.
"Do you need help?" Lisbeth called out to him. He finally caught up to them before stopping to catch his ( )eath. He tried to speak, but coughed instead, thumping his chest and nodding. Eva sniffed the air.
"It smells like smoke. Is there a fire?"
"Sparrow, can you heal him?" Her tone softened. "He seems to have inhaled a lot of smoke."
Very carefully, Sparrow dismounted Saiph and found his way over to them. "Yes, I can."
A golden light lit up his palm and he pressed it to the boy's chest. The boy began to ( )eathe more easily.
"Greyglen is being attacked." Fear shone in his eyes. "The man who leads the army must be some kind of monster. His army is filled with creatures from the Otherworld."
"Oh no..." Eva quickly helped Sparrow back onto her horse and swung up after him. "Lisbeth, take him on Hyacinth. We need to go help."
"What's your name?" Lisbeth asked as she started to help him up. He stopped her.
"Corin. And I can mount a horse on my own, thank you."
She let out a sigh, and mounted Hyacinth. "Very well."
The riders urged their horses into a gallop. Lisbeth felt nervousness creep over her, remembering how her first battle had gone. The pouch around her waist glowed a comforting shade of pink, and she felt a little better knowing Sylvan was around.
As they rode over the crest of the hill, Greyglen came into view. It was aflame, wooden houses crumbling to the ground as they looked on.
"We have to find Ethan Wells!" Eva shouted over the roar of the fire, which got louder as they approached.
"Who?" Lisbeth yelled back.
"He's the leader of the town, Mother told me! Leave the horses, let's continue on foot!"
They were close enough now that the horses could be burned by the tongues of fire lapping at the wall of logs that protected the small city.
Lisbeth looked over at Sparrow. He was dismounting with no trouble, and ran inside the gates with no problem. He had told her that his Guardian was able to give him sight if it was of absolute importance, and she wondered if Angeline had gone into action. She followed Eva, who had her sword out and was yelling at the top of her lungs.
"SPIRITS, SHOW YOURSELVES!" She roared. "I AM EVA, CHAMPION OF SILVERBELL FOREST, AND I CHALLENGE YOU TO A BATTLE!"
Dark forms darted between buildings, and gleaming, glowing eyes peered out from the fiery wreckage.
"Intha ganishthe bathka." A man stepped into view, carrying a corpse under one arm.
"What are you saying?" Eva asked. Chills washed over Lisbeth's body. I can understand him...
"He...he says hello." She gave a shudder. His black eyes bored into her, and he looked surprised.
"How can you understand me?"
"I...I don't know!" Lisbeth felt her neck start to hurt, like she had been shot all over again. She started to shake.
"ARE YOU THE MAN WHO DESTROYED THIS TOWN?" Eva stepped in front of her. Sparrow stood a little to the side, hands crackling with magic. "Where is Ethan Wellis?"
"Ah...so you're the hero Xera told me so much about. I had no idea there were two more of you miserable justice-serving idiots coming to challenge me." The man gave a chuckle, and whistled. Evil things of all shapes and sizes rushed to surround them. "As for Ethan..."
He dropped the corpse, revealing a middle aged man. "Pity his guards were only for show. When it came to it, they ran away like the fools they were."
Lisbeth stared, horrified, at the body. Then she felt herself float into the air and a ( )ight light blinded her. Suddenly she couldn't see anything...or feel anything. She seemed to be some invisible entity, a mind without a body.
"Help! Sylvan! I need you!" She cried, although her tears were nonexistent. Her surroundings were wet and rubbery, and though she tried for at least an hour, she couldn't find an exit.
A glow emitted from her pouch, and she found herself back to normal, sobbing in fear. Sparrow took her into his arms and hugged her.
"We're going to figure this out." He said gently.
"What was with the glowing?" Eva asked, awkwardly patting her on the back. "And the floating? Your Guardian showed up during the battle and stopped it somehow, but we don't know what caused it."
"Wait..." Lisbeth sniffed in a very unladylike fashion. "You fought without me?"
"Mmhmm." Sparrow rubbed her shoulders. "You were in that state for the whole thing. Don't worry, we're fine...all of us. The people of Greyglen are mostly alive. They thank us all for driving the demons out."
"We even managed to wound whoever the strange guy who killed Ethan was. Not fatally, but moderately. He'll be off the battlefield for a while." Eva said.
"And for that we offer our sincerest thanks." A tall, graceful woman approached and bowed. "Miss Lisbeth, the glow of your eyes disintegrated every demon that dared to gaze into them."
"Oh...ok." Lisbeth wiped her eyes and stood up straight. That must have been what blinded me. "I don't know what I did, but at least I was able to help."
"We know what happened." Colin stepped forward. Before everyone's eyes, he morphed into a handsome young man who looked a bit like Sparrow. A pale pink-to-cream gradient graced the long ( )aid hanging down his back. "We apologize for not showing our original form sooner. Our youngest form is easiest to run in."
"Brother! I didn't recognize your voice." Sparrow had gone back to being blind. Eva nodded in agreement.
"Lisbeth, this is Ren. He's Sparrow's twin. Coincidentally, their Guardians, Angeline and Eos, are also related." She introduced them. "He's magically gifted, can shapeshift."
"And it seems like you can enter the minds of others." Ren looked at her quizzically. "How long have you been able to do this?"
"I did it by accident today, I guess, and that's it." Lisbeth said.
"Well, you'll need to practice. It's a skill that takes years to perfect." He said, a grave note in his voice.
"How does this...ability work?"
"Well, you can, as We said before, enter the minds of others. Not physically, but as a voice. You partly replace their thoughts and can tell them to do things. Sometimes their actual thoughts will fight against you, but most people will not resist." He explained. "We can teach you a bit if you are willing to learn from us."
"I have a question..." She was a bit hesitant to ask. "What if the person you...possess...is...you know...dead?"
"The dead do not think, as their soul has either ascended or descended. It would be dark, and you could not hear anything but your own voice." He adjusted his silver-rimmed glasses. "Why do you ask?"
"I...uh...possessed Ethan's corpse." She whispered into his ear, so the townsfolk wouldn't hear. He nodded understandingly
"Excuse me?" The tall woman spoke up. "We have a cele( )ation feast prepared in the town hall."
"It's not burnt down?" Eva asked in amazement.
"A bit of it crumbled, and the door's a bit scorched, but it's stone." The lady turned to Lisbeth. "I'm Odaira Deiren, the new governer of Greyglen."
"Nice to meet you." Lisbeth shook the pretty blonde's hand.
"Let us go eat!" Ren said jovially, clapping Sparrow on the back. Surprised, his twin jumped.
"Yes, let's!" Eva ( )andished her sword and pointed the way.
"No, only us." Ren pointed to himself. "We're starved. You all can stay here."
Lisbeth giggled, trying to supress the memories playing over and over in her mind. "We're hungry too, shapeshifter!"