Chapter 4


There were two others survivors with me the day the canisters fell. Two people who have shaped my life every bit as much as the destruction of the attack.

A tall man and his daughter. But then, I’m forgetting…there was a third, the man’s son, Jake.


Emmalee’s name was barely out of my mouth before I was up and tearing open the metal door to the tiny surveillance booth. I hit the ground running and was the first to reach the barricade outside of the cave. Which was a phenomenal feat since, of the four of us, I was by far the furthest away from the cave opening. At least a good two hundred yards.

Angie was bearing down on me to my left. I knew she was screaming at me. Without her words flashing across my dimly lit screen, or her actually facing me, I had no idea what she was saying.

I didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Anything she could have said wouldn’t have stopped me from sprinting through the narrow opening. Em was in there and nothing was going to stop me from getting her out. Even if it was only to have her die in my arms.

The first thing I noticed was that the residual effects of the last fyre egg Jam had broken hadn’t reached as far as the opening of the cavern. The second was the abundance of moist heat. A thin veil of steam was coming off of the rock wall.

The brightness of the lit passageway way ahead of me had me glancing upward. If I hadn’t known I was in a cave, I would have sworn the sun was shining directly above me. Thankfully the light wasn’t blinding.

I kept going heedless of the danger. Prayers’ spikes were known to be capable of travelling hundreds of yards and Em and Jam had been on the receiving end of a spike attack. I had no idea how close the Prayers was. Nor did I know if the light flooding from the cracked eggs would prevent the creature from picking me out of the bright light.

Again, I didn’t care. My only concern was reaching Em’s side.

A hand gripped my shoulder and jerked me violently back. I stumbled and hit the inside wall of the cave with my hip and right arm. Pain jetted through me. I swung my head angrily to the left and glared at Angie Sky, Em’s sister. I saw her lips form the words “stay back”.

“Are you fucking insane?” I shouted, although I couldn’t tell you how loud my cry was.

It must have been fierce for Angie winced. She clenched her teeth and snapped on her helmet. I ignored Angie and got moving again.

The light became brighter as I rushed around a corner. The full glare hit me square in the face. I careened off the side of the passageway and into the cavern opening. I came to a full stop.

The light reflecting off the slick rock was strong, intense, blinding in fact. I refused to squeeze my eyes shut. I had to locate Em. No matter how painful the throbbing in my head became I knew it would never compare to the pain I would endure if I lost her.

Angie darted past me. I’d forgotten that most of the crew’s helmets, unlike Jam’s, had a built in sun resistant screen barrier. My eyes followed the direction she was going. I squinted unable to see anything and then as the light began to fade my heart stopped. Jam with Em lying on his back lay facedown on the rocky floor of the cavern.

Stevron and Dirk Vance, the other two members of our team rushed by me. I took a nervous breath and reached Em’s side a moment later.

Angie was already bent over Jam. She lay a gentle hand on her sister’s helmet. Em raised her head and I saw tears streaming from her eyes. Dark patches of crimson mixed with the tears trailed down her lower face to drip off her chin and onto her jacket. Jam’s neck had been grazed with a spike. Blood oozed at a steady trickle from the wound. Their other wounds bled profusely.

The air stank a coppery tang. My stomach turned. I forced down the bile that threatened to spew out of my mouth. The sight of Em bleeding had me feeling sick. I was weak with terror.

Angie lifted her head. She must have been issuing orders for Stevron and Dirk wasted no time in hauling Jam up.

It took a few tries before Jam was able to get his feet under him. When he finally did, he ventured forward. Dirk propped his shoulder under Jam’s right arm and wrapped his thick left arm around Em’s back.

My throat clogged when I saw Em open her mouth and for once I was thankful I couldn’t hear her screams. I’m sure the sound would have brought me to my knees. Even so my heart started pounding.

There wasn’t much I could do, so I stood back. Dirk, thanks to the effects of the canisters, had the strength of several men and anything I could do to help would only impede his progress.

The journey out of the cavern and back down the passageway was arduous. I kept glancing over my shoulder searching for the pursuing Prayers. The blinding light was quickly fading and I was sure that the hideous beast must not be too far behind.

Angie was leading the way. She stopped abruptly and gestured for Stevron. I saw her hands go to her sides. She began pulling off small trigger mines that were attached to the holsters strapped to both her legs. She handed several of the mines to him.

Stevron fell back. I turned and watched as he slapped the mines against the rock face of the cave’s wall. That’s when I caught a glimpse of the Prayers.

The deadly creature was still deep in the cavern, quite a far distance away. I didn’t want to take any chances.

“Stop, Dirk!” I shouted and hurried along the passageway until I reached him. “I need some eggs from Em’s pouch.”

Dirk gave me a curt nod. He obviously knew what I intended to do.

I fumbled with the flap of Em’s pouch. The scent of her blood sent the bile back up my throat. I plunged my hand in and quickly retrieved two eggs. The second I had them clear, I shouted. “Go, go!”

Dirk continued on his way. A moment later Stevron and Angie reached me.

Stevron glanced down at my hands. I didn’t have to tell him what I was about to do. He lifted his visor. “You’re sure?” He mouthed, giving me a concerned look.

I nodded. I had no illusions that the trigger mines would do nothing other than distract the Prayers. I’d witnessed first hand how impenetrable the armoured skin was. The fyre eggs though, I hoped would blind the creature. If only for a few seconds.

Angie ripped another series of trigger mines off her holsters.

Stevron put a hand to my shoulder. “No more than the count of thirty. Got it?”

I nodded again and watched as he turned to take the mines Angie held out to him. They both headed back down the passageway without looking back.

I swallowed. I could no longer see Dirk. My heart started to race. Would he get Em and Jam to safety?

I found a tiny cropping of rock jutting out of the passage wall. I quickly squeezed myself into the small opening and then flattened myself against the rock and waited.

Slowly I began to count off. One...two...three...four...five... When I got to thirty, I carefully shifted my weight. I peeked around the edge of the rock face. The light was almost gone. I glanced back toward the others. They were no longer in sight. It was now or never.

I stepped out into the middle of the passageway, switched one of the fyre eggs to my right hand, and screamed as loudly as I possibly could. “Stev! Angie! Dirk! Ruuunnnnn!” Then I turned around making sure that I was facing the passageway in the right direction and brought my hands together.

I of course never heard the sound of the eggs cracking, though the blinding light shooting from the split eggs shot daggers of pain through my skull. I gasped at the intensity and felt my chest tighten. My stomach rolled. I forced the bile down my throat and stepped forward. I ran blindly as fast as I could.

As I passed each trigger mine, I felt shards of exploding rock ricochet off my arms, legs, and upper body. I winced as several embedded themselves into my exposed flesh. I kept running.

©Legend of the Sapphyre Wings by Janet Merritt