Side Story Three
Two Years Ago
Esen Peak One
Karen couldn’t help the moan that escaped her when they emerged into the sylph city of Esen Peak. It lay in the crater of an extinct volcano and must have been a beautiful place before the attack – but now it was a smoldering wreck. Once tall towers and delicate bridges of obsidian had been shattered and corpses were strewn in the rubble-filled streets. Only a few dazed survivors were wandering among them.
“Shit!” Jason burst out. “What the hell happened here?” Karen looked over and saw he had gone pale. “I’ve never heard of something like this before.”
“W-well I guess we’re too late,” Kyle said shakily. “Looks like they’ve already gone.” He looked around. “Where did Matthias and Sarah go?”
“They jumped to the palace.” Karen walked slowly over to where one of the bleeding survivors was weeping by a mangled body. “All we can do now is help clean up.” Karen knelt beside the sylph then flinched as she cringed away from her, obviously terrified.
“Don’t hurt me, please.”
“No one is going to hurt you,” Zilah said. “We’re here to help.”
“You need to tell us what happened,” Alban said. “Do you know what happened to my father?”
The sylph eyed Zilah and Alban uncertainly. “You mean Prince Kiridan? I don’t know, he was at the palace when they attacked. When we realised they were human, he organised a defence and ordered the city evacuated. Mystral and I were leaving because neither of us are fighters and the tower fell on us. I managed to cushion most of it but…” She trailed off and sobbed before continuing. “There was this girl, she was smaller than you and she blasted Mystral through the wall.” She started rocking back and forth. “What am I going to do without her? What am I going to do?”
“Hush,” Karen said. “Hush, we’ll get you somewhere safe-” Karen broke off as Sean, who had knelt down on the other side of Mystral’s body, gasped.
“We need a healer! She’s still alive!”
“What?” Karen stared at the twisted body. It looked like every bone in the sylph’s body had been shattered but now that she looked, she could see the fluttering rise and fall of her chest. “He’s right.”
“I’ll call Sal,” Jason said. “She and Birke will be able to help.”
“S-she’s alive?” The sylph asked. “R-really?”
“Well she’s breathing,” Karen said. “I don’t know-”
“My sister and her heart friend will be able to help if anyone can,” Jason said.
“That we will,” Sarah said from behind them. Birke swept past her and knelt down by Karen.
“Damn!” The dryad swore in English. “Give me a hand here, Sal. We’ll need to stabilise her so we can move her to Waldhafen and get her into stasis. It’s going to take a long time to fix the mess she’s in and she’ll die before we can if we don’t.”
“Of course.” Sarah joined her by Mystral and they began to work on her. “We really need more healers but we can’t call in a team until we’re sure we’re secure here.”
“Did you find my father?” Alban asked.
Sarah nodded sadly. “He didn’t make it, I’m afraid. I’m sorry. It looks like they slaughtered everyone who fought back. They took some prisoners as well.”
Karen caught Alban as he collapsed to his knees with a sob. She hugged him as they both wept. Even though she’d never met Alban’s father the tearing ache in her heart mirrored her heart friend’s grief. She looked up at Sarah. “Why?”
“I don’t know.” Sarah had tears in her eyes as well. “I don’t understand this. Why send in humans when the people here couldn’t have fought back against dragons? And why smash the place up like this? I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“This?” The voice came from above and they all looked up to see a girl of about ten standing atop the toppled remains of one of the towers. She was dressed in red mail and her long dark hair was whipping in the wind. “This was a training exercise, and to get your attention, so we could say hallo.”