I was staring, agape, sword out, but Dichall put his hand on my shoulder. “Eve! On the owl! Now!”
I slipped my sword in my belt and leapt atop Bracey. Gretchen followed as snow erupted with the impact of Yonya’s fin. Bracey spread her wings and took off just in time, but Dichall wasn’t with us.
I looked down and saw him face down in the snow.
I tried to leap off Bracey’s back, but Gretchen held me by my cloak.
“Let me go! He’s hurt!”
“You have to stay!” Gretchen held tight. “The only way this is going to work is for you to kill Yonya with Grassblade!”
“I can’t leave him!” My vision started to blur with the tears in my eyes.
“The mission before the mouse, Eve! You have a job to do.” Gretchen pushed a packet of scranch dust into my paws. “Use this to make her fully materialize!” And with that, she leapt off, hurtling toward the receding snow-covered ground.
I shut my eyes and held on to Bracey’s feathers. I wanted to go back to Dichall so badly. I grabbed my grief and turned it into an arrow pointed right at Yonya. Reaching into my bag, I stuffed the enchanted pine nut into my mouth and chewed, then fought not to scratch the tingling as magic flooded my system.
I have a mission. I am a Councilmouse.
We rose in the air.
Yonya’s claws swiped the air at us, and Bracey dove, dodged to the side and twisted into impossible turns to avoid them while I clung for dear life. While dodging one swing, she flew headlong toward another and hooted arcane words. A pearly contact lens of energy sprang into being on her forehead and thrust out between us and the fae. Yonya’s arm struck it and not us.
The fae screamed in rage. I gulped.
Bracey sped higher, wheeling around to face Yonya when just out of her range. Hooting loudly, her wings moving in strange patterns, we dropped at the same time a bolt of red eldritch light shot from her talons.
It dissipated inches away from the fae.
Yonya hesitated, then turned her back as if deciding we were nothing and started after Nathan, blasting through the woods like a tornado. Trees uprooted at her passing, branches cracked, small animals lifted from the ground and smashed into the landscape. She might be nothing more than an essence, but she sure had a devastating effect on the environment when she was mad. I shuddered and prayed I could get close enough to shove Grassblade into her.
Bracey sailed on silent wings, tracking her from high over head, but staying a safe distance away as Yonya closed on Celina.
“Fly closer! I have to cover her with scranch dust!”
When we were about four feet above the fae, I clutched feathers with one hand, and leaned over as far as I dared, then turned the packet upside down and let the dust out. As it floated down onto her, I closed my eyes and invoked its magic. Jerking my eyes open, I dropped the packet, grabbed feathers with both hands, and sat up. “Up! Up! Get us out of here!”
Yonya’s screams echoed off of the frozen Gatineau hills as she realized what was happening. For the time being, she was completely corporeal, and any old physical object could hurt her. But especially a magic sword. I just hoped it would be enough.
Bracey started to rise, but we were too slow.
Yonya, spun around, spotted us and leapt, her arms swinging razors in a crisscross pattern in our flight path.
I ducked a too-close swipe and scrunched my eyes shut, hoping Bracey had the flying skills necessary to pull our escape off.
These animals are so brave. I love your writing style, Jim, and, as always, the illustrations are perfect.