Anaira turned to face me as I walked towards her. Her eyes glowed like heated metal in the moonlight. She shrugged off her cape and it slipped onto the grass. Her white hair and skin were luminescent against the black of her dress. Her lips were strawberry red and parted and she looked breathtakingly beautiful. I had never noticed before how striking she was.
“Well, well Esereht is this a party of one? Is everyone hiding in the shadows? How dreadfully disappointing for you. You always fancied yourself a leader, didn’t you?” Anaira smiled.
“It is just me.” I said.
“Oh dear and I was so looking forward to a grand finale. And you noticed I brought all my friends? They will not be satisfied with such a paltry offering. Whether they like it or not Esereht, everyone in Nolavia is invited to the party.” She said.
“Anaira it is me and only me with whom you have a fight. Let it be.” My voice was steady and I felt no fear whatsoever. If this was to be my last hour I was ready. My shield was in place and Davalast; my dear Davalast was holding it firmly. I could feel the sensation of his energy around me.
“Esereht you are mistaken.” She spat. “I want the whole of Nolavia to quake with what I have in store for them. Not one man, woman or child will remain standing when I have completed my mission.” She stalked towards me until I could smell her breath. The scent of lemon zest and juniper was so distinctive memories licked at the edges of my mind and I shivered involuntarily.
“Oh dear, have I scared you?” She smiled again.
“Not at all. You first have to get past me Anaira.” She laughed a cold and mirthless chuckle.
“Oh Esereht you do make me laugh. I have three hundred Snilboglins, fifty dragons, eighty snoobabs and two hundred Vulcanas aimed at you at this very moment. I could crush you with a wave of my hand. Where is the sport in that?” She said.
“It has never been about sport for you Anaira. It is always about winning. I want nothing from you but it seems you want everything from me. I will not fight you. So you have to do what you will.” Her eyes darkened to gunmetal grey and she twisted my hair in her fingers. She drew my head to her and kissed me on the lips. I was so taken aback I froze. She took my bottom lip between her teeth and bit hard. I pulled away with a cry and put my hand up to my mouth. It was sticky with blood. Davalast must have kissed the coating away.
“You are so sweet Esereht but you see we are doomed you and I. In another world or another time, who knows we could have had something special. But you chose not to.” Regret flickered in her eyes for a millisecond and they became steely once more. “Your sacrifice will do no good, my dear. They will all die. I will personally see to it.” She stepped back and flicked her wrist.
The earth beneath my feet trembled as Vulcanas galloped towards me. I braced myself but when they hit all thought left me as I was flung up into the air. I hovered for what felt like minutes before plunging to the ground. I lay winded and gasping hearing their thudding feet once more. Three times they flung me into the air and three times I landed with a thud. The ground stilled as they snorted their foul breath on my face. My own breathing was rasping and my chest screamed. Flicking my hand weakly my lungs cleared and air rushed in unimpeded. I stumbled upright and shook myself like a dog.
Anaira gaped at me slack jawed. Fear flickered in her eyes and I felt overwhelming sadness that she was so tormented with hurt and anger.
“I Am Love Anaira. You cannot hurt me and I have no wish to hurt you.” I said. She shrieked and ran at me stopping inches from my face. Her beautiful features were twisted with rage. I did not avert my eyes from hers. She broke our gaze and stepped back flicking her wrist again.
The whoosh of dragon wings cut the air and panic made my legs heavy. ‘I Am Love, I Am Love’ I chanted under my breath. Massive talons seized my shoulders and I was lifted high into the sky. ‘I Am Love, I Am Love!” I shouted louder as the talons opened and I plummeted. I flicked my wrist and soared with less effort than usual. Flying has always been complicated for me but now I flew strongly weaving away from the dragon’s talons. I landed unharmed onto my feet on the grass.
A second later I was gasping for breath again as snoobabs hung on every inch of me snapping their sharp teeth into my flesh. Although they had not broken through the coating yet the pain was unbearable. My clothes ripped as I swung around and around faster and faster but I could not dislodge these fearsome creatures. My eyes rolled back in my head and my vision blurred. I tried to call out to Davalast but darkness was blotting out all sense of me.
To be continued…