Short Stories

Crane’s Light – Chapter 8: Chaos

Lyra slept without any aid for the first time in her memory, curled up happily within Hideaki’s arms. When she woke, she felt perfectly rested, energetic, and happy. Hideaki was out of the house on council business and she took some time to make adjustments to her clothing in order to be compatible with her new wings.

Her back no longer troubled her. The only sensation that she was constantly aware of now was the presence of the wings, something she imagined she would grow accustomed to in time. Beginning to dress in her newly tailored outfit, she heard hurried footsteps and turned in time to see Hideaki burst through the door. She smiled at him initially, but the smile faded as she realized something was wrong. “What is it?” She asked.

“The emissaries for our villages are false emissaries, agents of chaos, and the reason we are unable to return to the Celestial Plane,” Hideaki muttered as he strode over and grasped her into a tight hug. She frowned as she returned his embrace. “What will we do?” Hideaki kissed her cheek as he pulled away and grasped her hands. “We are to fight. Many are gathering at the Yang village and preparing.” Lyra nodded and pulled away, beginning to grab her things. “Then fight we will.”

They silently grabbed their weapons and packed provisions before leaving, making their way over to the Yang village where a good number had already gathered. Lyra eyed Tianshe warily, the elder having made some despicable comments toward Hideaki. Their last conversation hadn’t been pleasant either. Regardless, she was intent to fight side by side with those she didn’t trust in the cause of removing these chaotic figures and restoring the way home for those who wished to return if that’s what it took. Once everyone had gathered and planned their course of action, they made their way to the city of Hope, then through an opened portal to the outer boundary of the plane.

They moved through the area, finding that some of the creatures that had once resided there now were gone, replaced by ones more sinister and dangerous. They fought hard, communicated well, and did all they could to work together, whether they were of the Earth, the Sun, or the Moon. Eventually they stopped, three large, ominous figures standing before them. The agents were there and had been waiting for them.

Words were traded with some bantering, but Hatori made the first move and began the fight. Their group, made of twenty or so, tangled with the three agents for what felt like an eternity. They did – as predicted – target the healers and users of magic, and Lyra found herself dodging and running many times throughout. One of them had taken her by surprise and slammed her hard against a nearby boulder, and while she had managed to get away while a few of the others swarmed him, she immediately felt as if something wasn’t right inside of her body.

She heard a deep, sinister laugh, and turned to find another one heading straight for her with a spear. She quickly readied an arrow, pulled back the string, and fired with precision, striking him in the knee and knocking him to the ground. He howled as two others swiftly began attacking, and she turned, tripping over something and falling. Looking behind her, she felt the world slow to a crawl as her eyes fell on Miao’s body. She crawled over and desperately examined her for signs of life, letting out a dry sob her hands shaking when there was none to be found. Something abruptly slammed into her and she went flying, hitting the wall behind her hard, the unease in her body growing in intensity. She looked up to see one of the other agents grinning maliciously at her before looking down at Miao. He spoke with some sort of taunt, but she didn’t catch his words. She looked at Miao and froze, her bow lying next to her body. She gazed back up at the agent, who had noticed the same thing and was starting to advance. She focused the heat of her body into her hands, the green of her eyes going orange as the fire took over, and the agent appeared panicked, unaware of and unprepared for her magical capabilities. He was in close range and was already starting to back away as she shrieked and threw her arm forward, a ball of fire propelled from it and speedily sailing right for his chest. It contacted him before he could do much about it, the force of it sending him backwards and giving her the opportunity to dive forward and retrieve her bow. Before he could get up and recover himself, she was gone, finding others and aiding them.

The three finally fell and Lyra leaned against the wall as the group took stock of their injuries and their dead. She could hear sobs from the area where Miao was and turned her head to look, her vision blurring as she saw what seemed to be Hideaki’s figure strutting towards her. She felt some measure of relief that he was okay, and coughed a little bit, tasting iron and spitting, a small piddle of blood hitting the ground, causing a swell of panic to rise; she was bleeding internally. Hideaki immediately had her in his arms and was carrying her, telling the others he needed to get her home. Her eyes were drooping as he ran and she could hear him plead, “Lyra, tell me what I need to do.”

She groaned, “Golden lotus…paste….aloe extract…shake…” and dipped in and out of consciousness, unaware of where she was until he was laying her down on a hard, but slightly cushioned surface; the medical examination table in their home. Had time gone by that fast? She heard the stone clink of mortar and pestle, smelled aloe, and was almost falling asleep as she felt a vial at her lips. “Drink,” Hideaki softly commanded with worry, and she did, the thick liquid oozing down her throat. She took a deep, shuddering breath as her eyes closed, a dark figure walking toward her, silhouetted in front of a bright light. She watched as it came closer, and when it had arrived close enough, she recognized the figure as her father, who was smiling widely at her.

“You fought well, Lyra” he said with obvious pride. She sniffed as tears welled up in her eyes, the sight of him unraveling her into nothing more than the child who had grown up listening to his bedtime stories and sleeping in his arms, “Are you here to take me somewhere else?” she asked in almost a squeak. He continued to smile and assured her, “The lotus will heal you, but if you want to come with me, I will take you.” She inhaled sharply and let out a small sob. “If you had asked me weeks ago, I would have said yes.” His smile widened as he stepped even closer and reached out, touching her wing. “And now you have him, and your pain is gone.” She nodded and lowered her head, “But I miss you. So much.” She felt his fingers under her chin and her head tilt upward, their matching eyes meeting, “I miss you too, Lyra, but now, you have this wonderful new life ahead of you, someone to spend it with, and a purpose that is no longer about surviving, but living, which is all I could have ever wanted for you.” She nodded and sniffed as he leaned in and kissed her forehead. “I have always been proud of you, but I don’t think I could be prouder than I am right now.” She smiled at him as he stepped backward, the light behind him fading as he whispered, “take care of yourself, and each other. We will see each other again.”

Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled softly as Hideaki hovered over her, fear showing in his eyes. He relaxed immediately when he saw her smile and quickly kissed her forehead as he whispered, “Are you okay?” She held her sleeve to her mouth and coughed, examining it afterward and showing it to him. “No blood. Perhaps you should look into the healing arts yourself, Hideaki.” He shook his head, though the hint of a smile appeared. “I only did what you told me to do.” She pulled him in and hugged him tightly, “Thank you.” They held each other for awhile and she melted into his arms, a swell of pride, happiness, and comfort rising within her.

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