The appearance of a mysterious woman. An attack on a peaceful magical town and a quest to return the Scroll of the Dead, to its final destination. Join Jessie, Chris, Hazel and the rest of the gang on their fourth instalment of adventures.
The rhythm of hooves on the leafy ground echoed louder than thunder as a squadron of riders picked up speed. The mounts carried men in metal armour, free from any sigils, only their eyes showing through slits in the helmets. They were focused on the black unicorn in front of them. It was a mare and was slighter than the ones behind it. She was quicker and more agile but was beginning to lag in speed, she was exhausted. The hooded figure on her back urged her on but knew that neither of them could outrun their pursuers.
At length the figure leaned back, took aim and a shower of energy bolts blasted, seeming to come from her hand with no weapon in sight. The riders in front dodged the attack but their comrades behind did not see it coming and fell with painful yells tumbling across the leafy floor as the unicorns reared and whinnied in fright. The first three riders picked up speed as they saw what they were heading for. Their quarry had already reached it: an open cliffside.
The black unicorn skidded to a halt and within seconds, the rider had dismounted, slapped the creature on the hindquarters and it cantered off at speed. The three remaining riders slowed their pace as they approached the ledge facing out to the open sea. Waves below smashed against jagged rocks. A fall here would mean certain death.
The hooded figure stood motionless, their back to the ocean, facing the impending iron-clad trio.
‘It’s all over half breed,’ said the middle rider. ‘You’ve nowhere left to go.’ The figure seemed to scan the area before throwing back their hood. Beneath scruffy dark brown, almost black hair, hazel eyes narrowed as they flashed in anger.
‘You want to think very carefully about your next move,’ she growled. ‘I won’t be held responsible if you have fair warning.’
‘Miss Iolair,’ came the stern voice from the middle rider again. ‘We are tired. This charade has gone on long enough. Give yourself up now and save us all more trouble.’ Iolair only smirked.
‘Really? So I give you what you want, then what?’
‘We let you go free of course.’ The smirk became a sneer.
‘And shoot an arrow in my back as I walk away? I don’t think so.’
‘You are handling stolen goods..!’
‘Stolen is a matter of perspective!’ she shouted back. ‘This belonged to our people for generations, long before men came into this world. Then your kind razed our towns cities and villages to the ground… and in the name of what? Of whom? A King on his mad quest for power. When he fell, in battle you stole the scroll and used it in dark magic to bring him back, cloned with a beast from the shadow world, of all things. You unleashed that thing upon our world and now you’re trying to take it again? You’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.’
‘That can be arranged,’ came a younger voice from the figure to the left of the centre rider. There was the sound of steel being drawn but he was stopped by the middle rider with a motion of his arm. Iolair had already taken a step towards the cliff-side, the wind picked up whipping her shoulder-length hair across her face. From her robes, she had taken a small battered-looking scroll, tightly bound by a deep red ribbon. She held it out just behind her, over the crashing waves, hundreds of feet below.
‘Just try it,’ she glowered. ‘I will let it go. I’ll drop it. Maybe that would be for the best after all. Life and death are powerful things; no good can come of mixing the two when not needed.’
‘We do not seek it for any dark power it may possess,’ said the middle rider. ‘We’re on the same side, you and us. We can keep it safe. Safer than it would be in some witches cottage.’
‘You have no idea about our kind and what we do, what we’re capable of.’ Her voice was steeped in hatred and disgust. ‘We are nothing alike. We use magic because it flows through our veins, we were born with a gift that is honed from an early age. It wasn’t our choice to bear the burden of magic, but we do what we can because we believe that we should help others who do not. Men, elves, you tar us all with the same brush and if my fate is sealed then I would rather seal it myself than let you do so for me.’ So saying she took a final step towards the edge of the cliff and, still holding the scroll, opened her arms wide. The armoured figures went to dash at her but the next second she let herself fall backwards and disappeared over the edge. The three men urged their horses forward and peered over expecting to see a mangled body on the rocks below, but instead, a huge winged figure soared upwards, high above their heads. Its long beak was as black as the rest of the feathered body, and its eyes as red as rubies. A cry emitted from the bird’s throat before it turned and left knowing full well, there was now no chance of being pursued. In one of the creatures’ huge clawed feet, it carried the scroll safely. The three riders could only watch, knowing full well that this bird was, in fact, Iolair.
‘She’s heading west,’ said one of the younger accomplices. ‘What are your orders, sir?’ The older figure was silent for a minute.
‘We return to base,’ he said at last. ‘Ready our messengers, man and beast and send word. We will be taking back what is ours one way or another. She may not realise it but she has indeed just sealed her fate and the fate of every other half breed. We wipe them out, all of them, every town every village every settlement. It’s time for men to rise above them once and for all. From this day forward, we take up arms with anyone who’ll stand with us and kill every last one. This is the beginning of the end for all those with so-called magic in their veins.’