Rising, Part 5

Fiction By Jackie West // 10/5/2011

Tala backed off as she swallowed a lump in her throat. "Where's Zephyr?" she asked Chathel in a hushed voice. "Shouldn't-shouldn't she be here by now?"
Chathel nodded quickly. "There's no way we can stand up to Blackscar, not even together."
"I'm a Jett, and they're supposed to be brave-but I'm terrified!" Tala moaned quietly. "I feel so scared."
Chathel set her jaw firmly. She was not used to her friend doing this, but she knew she had to say something. "Don't worry. We'll survive." She swallowed and added under her breath, "I hope."
Tala's sharp ears caught it, and she shook her head, all the while looking like she was going to groan again. "Don't say that. I've already lost too much. Master Ryuthan coulpdn't stand up to Blackscar. How could I?"
Chathel almost answered, but she kept the words inside her mouth. Better not to bring up sucha a subject now, she decided. "Tala, be brave!"
Her words fell on empty ears. Tala was looking off into the distance, her eyes far away. Some of her master's last words echoed in her ears.
Tala, your life is before you. Follow your destiny.
"But what is my destiny?" she said aloud. "What was I destined for? What am I destined for?"
"Greatness."
The two girls jumped and backed away even more quickly as they saw Blackscar come toward them even faster.
"You were destined for greatness, Tala Kione, and I will bring you there."
Tala stared at her. "No! I will never join you."
"Brave words, girl." Blackscar's pace never slackened, and neither did the girls'. "It's either that or death."
"Kill me then," Tala said firmly, her old self returning as her fear washed away. "You killed my master-I will never join you. I will fight against you all my life!"
"Tala!" Chathel said warningly. "Don't say things like that."
Tala ignored her."I'll fight the Cyclones 'til I die! No one will make me join them!"
"I'm sure your mind can be changed," Blackscar said. "Very quickly."
"You can try, but you can't make me," Tala said between clenched teeth.
Blackscar reached out a black-gloved hand. "Come."
Tala backed even further away. "No."
Blackscar came forward and Tala backed up even further. "Come."
The voice of the Cyclone was strangely calm now, even almost soothing.
For a moment Tala let her guard down-and that was all Blackscar needed.
Skillfully whipping out two rounded blades Blackscar curled them Tala's neck as Chathel was pushed suddenly to the ground by an unseen force.
"If you won't come willingly, then I will force you to," Blackscar said coolly. "But-your friend is staying."
"Let her live," Tala said as she heard the sounds of Chathel breathing hard as another unseen force pushed at her chest and caused her to breathe harder. "Let her live!"
"Let me make that decision," Blackscar said cruelly.
Tala made up her mind quickly. Ducking out of the sharp prison, she unsheathed her sword and with swift movements broke Blackscar's hold on her friend. "I said-let her live!"
Blackscar smiled behind the hood. "Going tough on me won't help your cause, girl."
Fire flashed in Tala's eyes. "I will only go with you-willingly-if you let her go, alive and unharmed."
"So be it," Blackscar replied.
Tala saw what was coming next. "Chathel, run!" she yelled. "Now!"
Chathel took off before her mind realized what her feet were doing.
Tala faced the Cyclone. "You can't pull off an old trick like that. I know many of them-that's one of the oldest in the book." She pointed her sword at Blackscar. "And for that-"
Blackscar whirled her blades skillfully. "You want to duel."
Chathel stopped on the top of a small hill and turned in time to see Tala clashing blades with the tall, evil figure. She had seen the tactics used before that Blackscar was using, and, unfortunately, she saw what was coming. "Tala!" she screamed. "Look out!"
"Chathel!" came a voice.
She turned and saw Zephyr standing behind her.
"Get on!" she said. "We need to get out. Tala-cannot be saved."
Chathel turned one last time to see Tala lying in the snow darkened by her blood. Blackscar stood triumphantly over her.
"Chathel, get on. Don't look back," Zephyr whispered urgently.
Tears spilling from her eyes, Chathel leapt onto Zephyr's back.
They took off.

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