Chapter 5: Amidst the Chaos
The sting of fire was an unforgettable one, a damaging touch that made you quickly pull your body away, and even when it burned at a distance, its sting had an impressive reach. It came with a toxic stench, poisonous smog that’d seep into your lungs with unimaginable difficulty, and choke you so that, suffocated and confused, you crawled into fire’s embrace and meet a torturous end. It was a sting Sakuya had felt before, and as it moved in and choked her, and nipped at the skin of her right arm, it pulled her from her sleep just in time for the door to fly open. The stench of fire was creeping in from the hallway, and obscured the face of an already blurred figure that raised a knife above his head the moment he saw Sakuya’s face. He charged and she threw herself at her sword, grabbing it only moments before he was upon her, and stabbing it through his chest. As she pulled her sword free and turned to wake Aeriane, she saw her shocked friend standing in the corner as three more men slid into the room. Sakuya charged with her blade held low and stabbed through the neck of one before he was ready to react, and blocked a downward slice of another at her side. She knew that behind her the last man was about to attack, but had no need to turn as she heard a voice boom down the hall, and saw from the corner of her eye a powerful fist go forward and crash into the attacker’s face. He buckled and fell as the scarred arm knocked him aside, and Sakuya ducked as his machete was taken and swung to cut the final man’s neck. Arty looked down upon the men he slew, and seemed to hold back a hurl before his hand came up to point at their window, and several more man began to rush down the hall.
With Aeriane and Arty behind her, Sakuya jumped through the window with a blanket wrapped around her arm, and rolled and threw it aside as the others landed behind her. Behind them, the men entered the room, and one yelled an order to someone in the back as Sakuya and her group began to run and some began to climb out after them. With fury and speed, Arty and the young bodyguard slice through the men who stood in their way, and the ones that trailed behind received arrows to their chest, courtesy of Aeriane. When they reached, the main road Sakuya’s jaw dropped and she cursed herself, as her eyes spun around the road and saw a festival of flames.
“What happened?” She asked as she turned to Arty.
“I don’t know. Bell and I decided to explore the town some more and then it just happened.” The man was stressed and ambivalent to the blood that stained his head as he held it. “It started with some blast, and then fire started raging. I rushed back to the inn when I thought about you and your group but it was already too late. Whoever these people are, they work fast!” He said and Sakuya shook her head.
“Do you know where everyone went?” She asked.
“Y-yeah, some of the people told us to head to the school, that’s apparently the safe house.” Arty took a deep breath as Sakuya calmness reflected.
“Aeriane,” She turned to the young mage who remained entangled in awe. “Head to the school, Arty and I will hold off the town stealer’s troops.” She said and Arty grabbed her shoulder.
“Whoa whoa, the town stealer?” He barked and she nodded.
“I can’t explain but I know that they’re the town stealer.” She said. “Arty I need you to stay focused; where is the school?” She asked and the man after a bit of denial, calmed down again.
“Its north of here, just go and you’ll be able to find it easily.” He said and Aeriane was off, leaving Sakuya with the troubled man as several more people emerged from the woodworks.
With her back to Arty, Sakuya stood at the ready, her sword firmly held in front of her and her eyes jumping from form to form. It was two against about ten who stood a good distance away with knives and machetes at the ready, almost as if waiting for someone else to move. Battle instinct called out to her as she turned her body around and held her sword above her head as a machete swung down. Around them, the troops were moving, running after Aeriane with their silent order given, but Sakuya couldn’t chance chasing them with Arty pushing his sword down above. She pulled in and let the machete fall to the ground, and thrust her sword at him only for him to pull to his right and watch her keep going. Arty spun and swung the machete hearing a clink through roaring fire as Sakuya brought her sword around and defended again. He swung the blade down and Sakuya blocked it again, but this time she drove his arm down and thrust forward in his lapsed defense, tearing through his retracting side. In the moment of pain, Arty wrapped his left arm around his body, and felt pain surge through it as Sakuya’s sword came down. His arm swung back as the pain resonated and as Sakuya moved in to drive her sword through his heart, it arched around and crashed into her shoulder. She was thrown aside by the might of his fist and cringed as she felt her arm welt, but threw herself out of the way, as he swung his machete down. As she rose, Sakuya was knocked back by and thunderous head butt, and was barely there enough to block his machete with her sheath. His left arm arched up and collided with her chest, knocking the air out of her and blowing her senses away, as the machete swung around and dug into her side. Sakuya let out a shriek as it cut into her, and struck with fury as she swung her sheath around and hit Arty’s face. The strike mimicked his strategy and stunned him as she stabbed, bringing the battle to a swift end as the blade cut with ease through flesh and bone. Arty gasped as he felt the blade slice through his lung and smirked at Sakuya as she pulled it free.
“This…was bad…” He struggled as he hit the ground and Sakuya stood unaffected overhead. “I…didn’t think y-you were trouble… If… If you didn’t know…I’d still be alive…” He panted his dying breaths and Sakuya listened.
“So what were you going to do then, just add me to your ‘collection’?” She asked and he forced himself to nod.
“That was the plan… you’d get off lucky… but that girl… that little girl from the diner… there was no way.” He laughed and Sakuya’s eyes turned sharp.
“What are you saying?!” She roared.
“She’ll die…” He laughed and Sakuya’s face twisted with fury as she left the man to die and rushed toward the school...