Storm makes a mistake costing some time; Nobody is happy with the predicament.
Despite the noise, there seemed to be no attempts from the creatures on the other side of the door to get through. We were all completely silent.
I glanced around, just as I saw the shadows gathering around Scout. I tilted my head at him, and he shrugged, giving a small smile beneath his face mask. Then, he disappeared into the shadows, right in front of Valla and the other Elves, earning me and Storm panicked glances. I sensed him move quickly through the wall, still completely hidden from view, and then stop on the other side. There didn’t seem to be even a slight response from the other side--at least, not one perceptible to most present. The invisible creatures, however, got even more panicked… or… perhaps they were angry. Regardless, within a moment, Scout was back on our side of the wall, and the shadows slipped off of him. He looked more pale than before.
“It’s not good,” he said.
“Was that shadow magic?” Safiena whispered. Scout ignored her question, as did almost everyone.
“Who is on the other side?”
“...They… almost look like scientists. Or… the chimeras who, well… never made it out.” Scout took a deep breath. “They’re… not really people any more. That’s clear.”
Sentinel shook his head, cursing under his breath. “Damn it…”
“But… will they attack?” I asked.
Snitch shrugged. “Depends. If we go in with our weapons out? Probably. If we don’t… they might anyway. You can never tell with the Chimeras who are mutated the worst, and what it sounds like to me is just that.”
I almost got angry with Snitch, but then Scout nodded. “They look similar to me, but they’re not. They’ve lost their ability to see the difference between people and animals, friend and foe. It… happens, sometimes. It’s what the dust does to people when it doesn’t kill them. Honestly, if we could kill them, it might be a mercy…”
“So are we going in?” Fayne asked. He was trying not to be impatient, but it was clear that the tension and fear were making it hard for him.
“Do we have any other options?” Snitch said, shooting Fayne a glare.
“I don’t believe so. This is the only way through to the area where the records were most likely kept,” Sentinel said. “We’ll… need to use caution, and be prepared for a fight. Does anyone have an idea for how to deal with this?”
“I can kick the door down and attack first,” Storm said. I glanced at him, narrowing my eyes.
“And if they don’t attack?” Valla asked.
“Then I’ll stop attacking, but most of the time? Chimeras mutated that far aren’t going to pass up an opportunity to attack someone.”
Valla took a deep sigh, but nodded.
“I’ll be there with you,” I said. “Rune, do you know any attack spells?”
“Yeah. Harold has been helping me refine them.”
I blinked in surprise, and nodded at Harold. “Good. Then you can both use those spells to support Storm and I.”
“Sounds good,” Rune said. Harold nodded in agreement.
“Then on the count of three, I’ll open the door as quickly as possible- kick it down if it’s locked- and attack any that try to come near.”
The people who weren’t going to be fighting immediately hid behind the walls, making sure they weren’t in range of us. Storm put his hand on the door, and I was right behind him. I let my magic channel through my arms and head, preparing to use it to throw anything that tried to get near him down. Rune was gathering a small flame in his hands behind me, and Harold was beginning to do the same as Storm began counting down.
The dark magic was flowing through me, and I thought of Valla. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the door, but I could see the soft yellow glow of her aura in the corner of my eye more and more clearly as my own magic filtered through my veins and skin, and the knowledge that she was watching somehow made me simultaneously more anxious and more determined. Had I told her about my magic…? What if I lost control of it?
I couldn’t think about that. Not at that moment. It was far too important. It couldn’t hold me back. I closed my eyes. Storm and I had never hurt anyone we had cared about directly using our magic, even when we lost control completely.
Storm turned the handle, but the door didn’t open. There was a quick shuffling noise on the other side of the door. Storm didn’t hesitate, pulling back and giving the door a powerful enough kick to break it off of the hinges and make it fall flat on the ground. I opened my eyes. The world looked different when I was channeling this much magic; I could see the glowing auras of the creatures inside, and of my brothers, and everyone else. I focused on the closest monster. It had muscles so swollen they had torn through its skin, and a face that was hard to interpret, except for a permanent grimace. Through my magic, I could see the dust flowing through its veins. No… the dust wasn’t mixed into its blood. The dust had completely replaced its blood.
Storm pulled out his sword and charged forward, shadows dancing around his feet and his blade, making his footsteps harder to interpret and his blade’s movements harder to predict. I let the dark energy coat my arrow’s tip, and aimed at the creature’s head, firing as Harold and Rune both sent bolts of flame flying at creatures behind the front one, making sure that they wouldn’t be able to overwhelm Storm.
The creatures who were on fire stumbled back with roars of pain. The one who wasn’t, however, didn’t react to my arrow. It was only when Storm cut into it with his blade that it staggered back, glowing dust pouring out of the wound. Storm suddenly darted back out. “Someone, make a barrier! Now!”
I nodded, and crossed my arms in front of me, directing my magic to form a thick, dark barrier of shadows in the doorway.
“What was it?” Valla asked, sounding shocked.
“They… they…” Storm was stuttering. “Dust… They’re filled with Dust.”
“What the fuck?” Snitch asked, his usually cynical tone dropping completely. “Are you actually serious?”
“He is,” Rune said. His ears were flat against his head, and his eyes were wide. “Harold and I saw it too.”
“So… entering the room was a bad idea after all,” Sentinel said. “And… we can’t close the door.”
I glared at Storm, who looked sheepishly at me. “...Gray, let me help you,” he said.
“I don’t need help,” I growled.
“This is my fault. I’m helping you.”
“Do you two know how to make a barrier permanent?” Harold asked. My concentration faltered for a second. No, I didn’t. I got irritated the moment I saw through my barrier, and focused fully on it again.
“No,” Storm admitted. “I didn’t know that was possible.”
“Well, it’s what prevented me from reaching out to my family,” Valla said. “Hm… I… don’t think my magic can make Gray’s barrier permanent. Light and Dark magic doesn’t mix well unless you want to destroy something… Harold, you probably don’t know any dark magic, either, do you?”
“It’s forbidden by the temple,” Harold said with an apologetic nod. I immediately felt- and saw- Valla’s aura light up, from the soft yellow glow to an aggressive white flash. Yet somehow, her tone didn’t change.
“Of course. Scout, you used Dark magic earlier, right?”
“Yes, but… I’m sorry. I don’t know either, and mine isn’t as powerful as Gray’s.”
I heard Valla curse under her breath. “Damn… Do we have anything physical we could use to barricade the door?”
“I’ll go find something,” Storm said. “There might be a bookshelf in a nearby room or something that we could use.”
“Just hurry,” I growled through gritted teeth. I saw Storm nod, and then he, and most of the Elves, left.
“Gray, if you need a break…” Sentinel tried to talk, but I interrupted him.
“I’m fine. I’m not going to lose all my energy over this…”
“I know. Your magic is powerful. But just be careful.”
I felt one of the creatures slam its entire body weight into my barrier. The force carried all the way through my arms, but I only responded by making the barrier stronger, though a low growl escaped my throat.
Valla was standing right next to me. The dark magic flowing through me and the barrier was overpowering, but I could feel the warmth of her aura right next to me. I knew that she was trying to think of a way she could help me… but I didn’t know enough about magic to know how she could help.
As if from a long distance away, I could hear Safiena. “Valla, you need to get away. What if her magic reacts to yours?”
“That’s not likely to happen,” Sentinel said. “Gray has control over her magic right now.”
There was a sudden tension from Valla. “Right now?”
“Yes,” Scout said, his voice lower and more threatening than normal. “And even when she has lost control of it, she has never attacked or hurt anyone who didn’t give her reason to.”
“I don’t know, Scout,” Snitch said. “Your kids have a lot more magic than they know how to handle.”
“Shut up,” I hissed through my teeth. “I can… still hear you…”
Everyone went silent. Valla didn’t back away from me, in fact, she took a step closer. Then, I heard a yell from a nearby room.
“Found something!” Storm yelled. Everyone except Valla, Rune, and Sentinel went to go look.
“Hopefully this’ll work,” Rune said, and I felt Valla’s hand on my arm. Somehow, it calmed me only a little.
I heard the others pulling something large up to the doorway, and quickly push it in front of the doorway, interrupting my magic’s flow. I moved my hand so that it would only be cut off at the last second, and then finally released the energy. The magic was still flowing through me. I let my arms rest at my sides, and looked down at Valla. She was looking up at me, her hand still on my arm. I closed my eyes and breathed as deeply as I could, trying to gather some of my energy.
“They attacked my barrier,” I said, glancing at the doorway. They had put a large wooden bookshelf near the doorway. Storm was beginning to pick up bricks and put them on the bottom shelf.
“Hopefully, the weight of some of these rocks will stop them from toppling the bookshelf,” Storm muttered. Snitch shook his head.
“It won’t,” he said. “Let’s just go find another way to get to the records and everything. There looked like there were other doorways to that room. Maybe there’s another way downstairs.”
“There probably is,” Sentinel said. “We’ll keep searching.”