Daniel’s first two blows sent two of the alfs flying. It seemed that their lack of conscious thought impeded their reactions to the unexpected. Unfortunately, it also seemed to render them immune to pain. They were up and charging back into the fray even as he went for was hitting the other two. With the four of them mobbing him, he couldn’t keep an eye on the Leshy and he was the real danger here.
He backed away from his assailants as he tried to catch his breath.Â Something wasn’t right here; he shouldn’t be having this much trouble with only four alfs. He’d taken on worse odds before and won easily. They followed after him, raining down blows and forcing him to flare his shield. It flickered under the barrage and looked weaker than usual, but still turned them for now. He needed breathing space so he leapt up into a tree and looked around for Ebona. He couldn’t help smiling when he saw she had taken up a guard position between the children and the fight.
Eb, get those kids out of here.
I… Ebona hesitated.
I’ll be fine, Eb. We’ve fought worse than this, he said then conceded, but it is harder than usual. I don’t know why I’m struggling like this but that makes it even more important that we get them clear.
I… yes, you’re right. Ebona knelt down by the girl. “Come on, let’s get you somewhere safe.”
The girl stared at her for a moment before pushing the goblin toddler onto Ebona’s back and scrambling on herself.
“Hold on,” Ebona said and took off like the wind towards Waldhafen.
Daniel breathed a sigh of relief and returned his attention to the battle. He needed to deal with the alf’s quickly, because the leshy had disappeared and that likely meant reinforcements were on the way.
He just wished he didn’t feel like his skin was tearing open.
Karen was about halfway through her third warm milk when her stomach clenched up and an image of Daniel in a fight for his life shot through her head. She glanced up at her parents and saw they’d both stiffened as well. She slammed the mug down on the table and rushed towards the door. Her father caught her by the arm.
“Where are yoiu going?” he asked even as Waldhafen’s alarms sounded.
“To wake Alban and get my axes,” she said. “Dan needs us.” She shook her head. “Did you warn him not to get into a fight when he was this close to maturity?”
“I-” Sonia shrugged helplessly. “I think we did, but it wouldn’t have helped. Not in this situation.” She gave Karen a quick kiss on the forehead. “Come straight back here and your father will teleport you to him.” She hesitated. “Fetch Val as well. Elaranor might be able to help.”
Karen nodded curtly and ran from the room.
Valeria and Alban were already awake when she reached their chambers and he’d fetched his and Karen’s weapons. Karen looked at them quizzically.
“Mother woke me when she sensed what was happening at the border,” Valeria said tiredly. “I think I should just give up on sleeping tonight. Let’s go. Your brother’s in a lot of danger if he can’t hold on.”
Kyle was still plotting with Estara even though Darya had dozed off hours ago. He was considering getting some sleep himself when the purple dragon stiffened and gasped.
“Estara-miria?” he asked.
“We’re being attacked!” She uttered a few choice oaths in various languages. “How the hell did they manage to hide an invasion into my own territory from me?”
“Who? What?” he asked, then felt himself blanch at the images she put into his mind.
“I didn’t sense the attack. I still wouldn’t know about it now if that brave little one hadn’t leapt the border to escape.”
“Those circlets,” he said. “They’re…”
“I know. I heard about Elapyron City. I shall have to take their lack of freedom into account.” She rose to her feet. “Now I need to organise a defense before it’s too late.”
“Let us help!” Kyle said. “We’ve dealt with these things before.” He reached over and shook Darya. “Wake up, sleepyhead. There’s trouble.” He showed Darya what Estara had shown him.
Estara regarded him for a moment and then nodded. “Thank you. This is not going to be simple. We need all the help we can get.”