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The mist carried along the river banks, floating over the small stream and eventually filling the forest. Iris brushed her brown wavy bangs from her forehead and stepped back, positioning herself in front of a large redwood tree. Her body trembled as she began to think about what would happen next. Visibility began to diminish and she didn’t know how much longer she could hold out until the mist became too thick to tolerate.
Suppressing her anxiety, she closed her eyes and concentrated, feeling the vibration of a squirrel’s movement through the tree ahead. Once she made extrasensory contact, the squirrel quickly jumped from one tree limb to the next, eventually landing on the ground and running into the thick of the mist.
Through the squirrel’s vision, Iris saw the animal jump over broken branches, make its way through thick leaves, and stop just short of reaching Felecie. Able to make out her hazy silhouette in the mist, she saw Felecie step forward and flick her curly bright carrot-colored hair over her right shoulder.
From afar, Iris gasped, noticing that Felecie wasn’t alone. She made out Maka’s outline from her waist-length mini braids. When Maka finally stepped out from the mist, her caramel-colored skin contrasted Felecie’s pale glow. However, it didn’t matter how both teenage girls looked. What concerned her more was the power they possessed.
Iris hesitated. If she attacked, they’d immediately be aware of her location. She didn’t want to make the first move, but she felt that she had no other choice. She swallowed hard.
At her command the squirrel launched its attack, jumping and tearing at Felecie’s face. Felecie screamed and fell back, landing on the wet dirt. Maka chased the squirrel into the bushes, annoyed when she lost sight of it. She cursed under her breath, helping her friend back to her feet.
“That’s it!” Felecie brushed the leaves and dirt from her blue tight fitting jeans. “I’m going to kill that animal loving bi—”
“Wait,” Maka interrupted her. “Please let me.”
Iris thanked the squirrel in a thought and she opened her eyes. Maybe that would buy her enough time to locate Sina. She retreated further back into the woods until the mist became lighter, making it easier to see the environment around her. Sweat collected on her brow, and just as she raised her foot to step over a large tree trunk, a thin branch wrapped itself around her midsection, yanking her off to the side.
A bolt of lightning struck the ground, missing Iris by inches. The branch released its grip and fell to the forest floor. Iris watched Sina, dressed in a long black trench coat, black jeans, and a white shirt dotted with dirt, walk from behind a large redwood tree. She swiped back the corners of her dark hair behind her ears. Directly behind Sina, Iris saw a levitating, glowing brown ball—Sina’s sphere—hovering a few inches from her right shoulder.
“You have to be careful next time”—Sina walked over to Iris—“that bolt was meant for you.”
“Sorry. I’m still learning.” Iris caught her breath. She could still feel the heat and static electricity from the bolt resonating through the air and the tiny hairs on her arm stood straight. “That was close.”
Still new to the whole “sphere” thing, the idea of always having it at the ready skipped Iris’ mind. Months had passed since her parents told her about her birthright and of her power, but calling on it still seemed unreal, until now.
Sina immediately held up her hand and closed her eyes. “They’re headed this way.”
Iris began to panic. “What do we do now?”
With the power of electricity at her disposal, Maka was considered to be the most dangerous of the Dark Carriers—those who pledged their allegiance to Apere, the dark guardian. There was also Anatoly and out of all three of them, Iris feared him the most because of his unpredictable nature. Before all this madness, he had once been her friend. Now, having chosen the path of darkness, he’d killed several Light Carriers in the past by burning them alive with his gift of fire. She didn’t believe he was rotten to the core, but hoped that one day, he would renounce his loyalty and come back to their side. But that day felt a long way off since Sina had trapped him inside a shallow cave just north of their location.
Being the most experienced, Sina taught Iris everything she needed to know about their type. Her mother had been part of the ongoing struggle and instilled within her the means to survive. In return, Sina became stronger and led the little group of Light Carriers to overcome the growing conflict against the Dark Carriers.
Iris nodded and looked over her shoulder. “They’re too strong, Sina. We need to get out of here.”
Sina slowly opened her brown eyes and stared at Iris. “We are as strong as they are. We just need to be smarter.”
Iris glanced around. “Where’s Darrien when we need him?”
The strongest of the Light Carriers, Darrien often appeared and disappeared without notice. He hated confrontation. However, his gift of being able to absorb and release energy came in handy during times like this.
“Darrien is scouting ahead,” Sina replied. “Just in case we don’t make it in time.”
“What do you mean by ‘if we don’t make it’?” Iris breathed in heavily.
Sina raised her hands. “I’ll slow them down. Just watch my back.”
Iris saw the trees and branches around them and the dirt and roots beneath them come to life. Sina’s gift of controlling the natural environment proved to be exactly what they needed at that moment. Under her command, the branches travelled toward Felecie and Maka in unison. Sina wasn’t going to kill them. It wasn’t an option. Light Carriers didn’t kill.
Ten large trees in front of them popped up from the ground, detaching themselves from their roots. They fell in large thuds and squirmed across the land like fast moving snakes. The ground buckled, raising the dirt into huge mounds swelling like a large tidal wave. Following Sina’s lead, Iris concentrated hard, letting her beautiful gray sphere appear in front of her. She called out to the animals in the vicinity with her mind, commanding them to follow the attack. Deer and bears from miles away joined in the pursuit. Even the smallest of animals listened to her telepathic call.
Moments later, Iris and Sina waited.
Sina placed her hands on the ground and taking a moment to feel the earth’s vibration, she finally spoke. “That should slow them down.” She stood up.
The mist began to reside and the air became thinner, revealing the chaos in front of them. Bright lightning flashes filled the clouded sky, and Iris sensed that Maka had overpowered several of her animals in just one strike. She made contact with an eagle hovering above the carnage and she let her sight intertwine with its own. Sharing the eagle’s vision, she witnessed Maka and Felecie as small dots on the ground below, surrounded by her animals, walls of dirt, and trees.
“What do you see?” Sina asked.
“They’re surrounded by the animals.” Pressure lifted from Iris’ chest and she smiled.
“Good.” Sina grabbed Iris’ hand and began to drag her away. “We need to hurry, Minneapolis is a three hour walk from here.”
“Can’t we just find a ride or something? We’ve been walking for days. My feet hurt.”
“You know we can’t. We’ll put other people, the non-Carriers in danger.”
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