Two silhouettes wearing feathery beaked masks and a purple gemstone on their forehead approached. Unlike the feral darlurchs, these two wore a fluffy, fiery, garb that covered everything but their right arm, exposing their pale purple skin. They hissed and clawed at Evalieh.
“We were searching for the divine one but who knew he’d fall in our laps,” said the man. He had a deep voice and a boxier build compared to the other.
“Our master will be pleased to have you,” said the woman.
Hanali and the others arrived. They were beaten and bruised. “What do you want with Evalieh?” Hanali asked.
The shaman man lunged at Hanali, swiping his claws. “That’s none of your concern!” said the shaman.
Evalieh scrambled onto his feet with all his strength and hobbled away as fast as he could. He tore through the bushes, feeling their limbs and thorns prick his skin. Otta pulled him out of the way and stood in front, guarding him with his chest out.
Hambone wiggled in Otta’s pelt and pulled out his cane. He pointed it at the shaman woman and narrowed his eyes. “Ablaze!” Streams of fire shot from the cane’s mouth, setting the plants on fire in a burst. The shaman woman leaped out of the way.
A chill of wind passed by Evalieh, making him shiver. A snowflake passed through the air.
“We do not need you in one piece,” said the shaman woman.
“As long as some part of you remains, our job will be complete,” said the man.
Evalieh whirled around. “What do you want with me? I have nothing for you!”
“Oh, but this is all your fault. A heart for a heart will let darkness have its way and carve a path for a new day,” she said. The shaman woman held out her hand and formed a whisp of black energy. It spun into a spiral and she threw it at Evalieh. He flinched and ducked but it went around him. The ball burst into two smaller pieces that morphed into two black oil-dripping squids. They danced around as a purple cloak sprouted around them, hiding their void-like bodies. A seam in their hood bulged open, revealing a big red eye that spat and chomped. The creatures giggled and rattled on in some gibberish Evalieh couldn’t understand. “Attack him, my Gomorrians!”
The squid shaped Gomorrians pulled out a its oozing black tentacle and twirled it around like the flick of a wrist. In a spark, one created a scythe and the other created a staff. The Gomorrian carrying the scythe, its cloak turned bright red. It swung its scythe at Evalieh and sliced through the branches and bushes. Leaves and twigs landed on him as he ducked for cover. He crawled through the bushes looking for a safe place to hide.
The purple Gomorrian launched a barrage of poisonous clouds at Hanali and the others. The clouds puffed along the foliage, causing them to wilt and burn. The shaman woman lunged at Hanali, swiping her claws. He sidestepped and hurried backwards, dodging her attacks. “What’s wrong, sunlight, can’t stand a little darkness?” she asked.
Otta dove towards Evalieh and pushed him out of the way. “Move…stay safe!” He swiped his claws at the red Gomorrian and clashed with its scythe. Their blows pinged like metal. The creature stumbled back and split into two, startling everyone with a frightened look. Otta howled and swiped at it again, causing it to divide into two more. The shaman man chuckled and started attacking the wolf with swift kicks and punches.
“No, you can’t handle all of them.” Hambone wiggled free from Otta’s pelt and fluttered towards the red Gomorrian. He strained to flap his wings and stay afloat. He clashed his cane with the Gomorrian’s scythe and summoned more fire, scorching its tentacles. The flames landed and gave off a mini explosion The ground shook and waves of heat burst outward. The Gomorrians screeched in pain and the divisions started to disappear, leaving the original behind.
Otta swiped his claws and kicked at the shaman man. “Evalieh! You okay?”
Evalieh tingled with fear and crawled through the bushes, trying to stay hidden. His heart pounded in his throat, and he didn’t want to answer. The wind chilled his back and snowflakes glittered through the air, one after the other until it was snowing. The big flakes clashed with the embers and fizzled out in a puff of smoke. An angelic voice sung throughout the clouds and through the wind. Evalieh’s antennas sprouted out with an electrifying jolt, and he sprang up.
“There you are!” said the shaman man. With a swift kick, he knocked Otta off his feet and leaped towards Evalieh.
“My lord, watch out!” Hambone said. He launched his fire at the red Gomorrian and spread it towards the shaman man. Little explosions went off as the man dove into the shadows and flattened along the ground. He crept towards Evalieh like a raging spider.
Otta grew angry and his eyes filled with blood. He foamed at the mouth and smashed the ground, trying to crush the shaman man.
“No, Otta! Calm down!” Hambone said.
“Otta, no! Hit their gemstone!” Hanali said. The shaman woman grabbed him by the neck and slammed him down.
Otta gave a grisly howl. His breath was fiery and his claws grew longer. “F-fire. F-f-fire fang,” he said.
The Gomorrian whacked Hambone out of the air with a flick of its wand. “No, Otta, you can’t use your flame!” Hambone said.
Fire welled within Otta’s fists as he tore through the ground. He stomped on the spidery shadow and tackled Evalieh.
“What are you doing?” Evalieh bucked and wiggled beneath the wolf’s weight. He trembled with fear as blood dribbled along Otta’s face and onto his. “No! Let me go!” Breathing heavily, Otta opened his mouth and showed his sharp white teeth. He reared back to bite Evalieh, but the shaman man leaped out of the shadows and grabbed him in a choke hold. Otta squirmed and flailed his arms around.
“Timmesi’Dpour!” said a voice. A gigantic iron bell broke through a purple glyph and loudly rang throughout the land. Everyone and everything stopped moving instantly, it was as if time was frozen. “Whew, that took a lot out of me.” A familiar bat came fluttering down from the bell, it was Enma Rome. He gasped for breath and sat on one the shaman man’s head. “Didn’t think I could still do that—good thing it worked out, huh.” He looked over at Evalieh and waved his wing. “Must be your doing—butterfly. Thanks!” Then, he knocked on the shaman’s mask and smacked his collar of feathers away. “You lot were told to capture him. Not kill him.”
Snow fell through the air, startling the bat. He jumped up and took a stance on the shaman’s head. A lady in a flowing garb of lace walked across the ground, freezing everything beneath her feet. She had four long white fluffy tails and two long fox ears atop her long flowing hair. Her skin was almost as white as snow and her eyes were a piercing emerald green. She wore a jeweled broach and bow along a sash on her waist where a flickering white flame shone brightly. Four wispy blue foxes hovered around her like ghostly ice spirits. “I’m not one for meddling but who stopped time? That sort of thing is forbidden, you know.” she said. Her voice echoed softy and carried a chilling bite.
Enma scoffed and slid off the shaman’s back in a huff. “As if I care. I’m above your silly rules.” He fluttered towards the fox lady. He took a long look at her and rolled his big eyes. “You should know better than to address me with such ignorance.”
“Me?” The fox lady scoffed. She placed her hand along his head and slid away, acting playful. “It’s you who should address me correctly—I am Fiorie, Kitsune of the fallen snow…”
“I’m going to stop you right there.” Enma raised his bat hand in front of her face. “I don’t care about your titles. I’m just here to do a job so I can go home.”
Fiorie scowled and slinked away with a laugh. “I do not meddle in the shaman’s business. They’ve always been a fair companion to the Moon Clan, but you lot can be underhanded at times. So, I dismiss you, feeble bat, you, and your shadows may go.” She drove her hand into her sleeve and pulled out a paper fan and waved it around. She spun and danced with snowflake stirring around her. “Dance of the mountain!” A powerful blizzard blew through the area and sent Enma bouncing into the shadows. Time resumed and the shamans sank into the ground and vanished.
Otta growled and lunged at Evalieh.
“Otta stop!” the others said.
Evalieh grabbed Otta’s face and squished his cheeks. The wolf tried to bite down on his hands but stopped when Evalieh’s antennas twitched. A sparkling light erupted from between his antennas and the palms of his hands. He shocked Otta with a bit of electrolyzed light. The wolf cried out a howl and fell on top of Evalieh. Otta twitched around before he returned to normal and laid there half asleep.
Fiorie walked over to inspect the group. “A cursed wolf and a strange human.” She rubbed her hand along Otta’s back. Evalieh wiggled free from Otta’s weight. Fiorie spun away and giggled. “What an odd mix—you really shouldn’t travel in your condition.”
“You can tell that they’re something wrong with them?” Hanali asked.
“This is all the shamans doing and you stand there acting like this is a game!” Hambone said. He angrily waved his wolf cane at Fiorie. “Don’t lie, I heard you—the Moon Clan and their faulty faith has always been in the shadows.”
Hanali plucked Hambone up by the wings and kneeled before his companions. “To think that the Moon Clan would support the shamans after what they’ve done. Does Sir Alderic support this too?” Hanali said.
Fiorie scoffed and her fox spirits snapped at the group. “Sir Alderic does not command me. I am under the authority of our clan’s Grand Priestess, Tenlana. From her seat in the Crystal Cathedral, she governs the Moon Clan and all her children. Sir Alderic has yet to return, since last I was there—besides, the Grand Priestess says all is fine with the world,” she said.
“That’s all fair and well but can someone get him off me?!” Evalieh said. Hanali pulled Otta off and woke him up. Evalieh jumped up and dusted his shirt and pants. “Listen, lady, I heard you talking to that bat, and I don’t care if you’re led by Sir Alderic, a Priestess, or some bush-weed in the cracks of hell. I’m collecting the sun tears so I can get out of this place.”
Hanali looked back at Hambone and shrugged out of confusion. “I know the Moon Clan enacted a monetary system for the island because of their wealth of supplies. But since when does the Grand Priestess govern? I thought she only pays tribute to the moon god on her pilgrimages to the far-off mountains?” Hanali said.
Fiorie narrowed her eyes at Evalieh and the others. “She has always been our leader.” Her fox spirits whispered to her, and she nodded in response. “Ah, my spirits know who you are, but that doesn’t excuse you for the trouble you’ve caused.” She pointed her fan at the group.
“Us?!” Evalieh said. He lifted Otta and Hanali onto their feet. “Listen, we haven’t been causing any trouble—it’s following us! The shamans are trying to do something bad, and I need to get the sun tears before the island falls apart—I need to get back home.”
“I’m afraid I can’t allow that,” Fiorie said.
“Why not? We’ve got every right,” Hambone said.
Otta growled. “Revenge. Shaman cursed family.” He clenched his fist.
“You blame the shamans, wolf of justice, but have they really done anything that bad?” Fiorie leaned beside of Evalieh and smiled. “I know all about your sun tale—the hero rises in times of need.” She spun away before he could grab her. “I can assure you; the sun tear is safe within the Moon Clan. The Grand Priestess watches over it and she would warn us if something was wrong.”
“I don’t care about your priestess. I saw what I saw! I felt what I felt!” Evalieh said. He flicked his antennas and wiggled them at Fiorie. “I’m not supposed to look like this!” His eyes turned red, and his breath became fire.
Fiorie scowled and twirled a few steps back. “You are unpredictable, aren’t you? Unpredictability is the enemy of my Priestess’s vision.” She raised the fan in her hand. “I cannot allow you to continue if you’re planning to disrupt the island.”
“A few days in and everyone wants to stop me.” Evalieh put his hands on his hips and took a confident stance. “Well, I won’t let it happen. No one will stop me…not even you.” He stuck his tongue out at her.