This was it, I realized. This is how we die. All our efforts, all our sacrifices, all our near death experiences. They all led down to failure. My friend, Mini the Mouse, is bleeding out at my feet. We were supposed to hold out until Norman the Hedgehog found the Polaris, an ice staff of ancient power. I’m Nuray, of the noble barn owl House of Solana. Who did we think we are? To enter the Fire Domain and challenge Achazar, the primordial being of fire? Mini’s just a bandit. Norman an old miner and me? I should’ve been a warrior like the rest of my family. Maybe if I was, we wouldn’t be down on our knees waiting for Achazar’s growing fireball to kill us. I’m just a bard with nothing left to give.
It’s a chilling feeling when you finally greet death. Here I am, in a land scorched and burning and all I feel is cold. I lost count how many times we almost died, but none of them felt like this. I suppose that means this time will finally take. Too bad I’ll be dying untrue to myself.
To enter this domain of fire, we had to become blessed by the element. If not, we’d be dodging Achazar’s fireballs from the time we stepped in to the moment we were finally in range to fight him ourselves. But, you see, I was already blessed by Reya or Altus, gods of the wind. My life was devoted to following them and the way the wind blows. I gave all that up. Everything about who I was, just so I could enter this domain and try to stop Achazar from burning the kingdom to the ground…
Mini’s not getting up. I can see the fight fading in his eyes and it brings me to tears. If I had one more spell…One more song to inspire…One more something! I could save him, but my magic is spent and all my instruments were burned. There’s nothing I can do except watch him die.
Where was Norman?! Had he found the Polaris yet?! Though, I know my questions will go unanswered. Achazar lobs his fireball at us. I could try to fly away, but then I would leave Mini here to die and he’s my friend. So, I watch as the fireball comes like a meteor in the sky. I will not look away. I will face death like a warrior and hope the wind will accept my spirit in the afterlife.
The strongest gale I’ve ever felt suddenly whips through the air. Achazar’s fireball redirects and pulverizes the ground thirty feet away. I hardly believe it! I was sure death would’ve…but why hadn’t it?!
“Rise Nuray! The fight is not yet done!”
The divine voice echoes throughout the domain. When I turn around, I think my eyes are fooling me! The great owl god Altus, and hawk god Reya are flying twenty feet above me. The gods of the winds themselves! Altus has his wings spread wide in full control of the tempest that redirected the fireball. Reya lands down at my side. Where Altus was the mighty warrior, Reya was the steward of nature. She stretched her wing over Mini and healing magic sealed his wounds.
“Achazar belongs not in this world,” Altus speaks surely and it makes me believe victory could be possible. “Continue the fight, young, devoted one, and banish the primordial back where he belongs!”
The wind picks up and it has never felt so good on my feathers. The fire blessing on my hand fades away and I feel new energy strengthen my veins. The wind patterns on my feathers returns and joy wells inside of me. Altus and Reya restored my wind blessing! There’s still a chance to defeat Achazar.
“And, for the little mouse,” Reya speaks. Her tone is as nurturing as a new mother. Mini regained consciousness, but was staring up at the two, giant bird of prey with fear in his eyes. He twitched when Reya held out a pair of winged boots to him, and–for once–he was speechless.
“Thank you.” I bowed to the two gods. With a pair of winged boots, Mini would have an easier time dodging Achazar’s fireballs. We could both take to the skies and attack Achazar like starlings on a hawk. We could buy the time it would take for Norman to get here with the Polaris.
Reya and Altus gave a single nod. Once Mini had the boots on, the two gods folded their wings. The air stilled and Mini and turned to face Achazar. “Are you ready?” I asked.
Mini bobbed his head. He was used to flying with me and not on his own. I hope he gets the hang of it quickly. He raised his sword. “For the people of the wood!”
We took to the sky, flying straight toward Achazar. I raised my own battle cry: “For the honor of the wind!”