They wore dark green suits, black caps, and brown belts, sheathed swords and bows, and their teeth glinted in the shadow of their hoods. One brandished a long, curved knife and waved it at my face out the window. Somehow I’d wedged myself between the two carriages, stuck myself into the frame of the door, and grabbed the handles on each side. My legs screamed continuously as I blocked the incoming carriage with my feet, pushed it away, and had it slam back into me, jerking my knees sideways and twisting my back at a weird angle.
I cried out angrily, and the Guards yelled things to each other, things I didn’t understand. We were nearing the edge of the clearing, and I knew I’d only have a few moments to save the kids. The soldiers pulled away again and prepared to come back to squish me like a grape.
The pressure pounding on the inside of my head increased again. I felt time blur, and the world became a watery painting of greens, blues, oranges, and browns. My hands grew hot, like I’d reached for a cooking pot without mitts. As I brought them before me to hold off the next attack, even in the chaos of colors, I could see very clearly that blood was surging down to my fingers, turning my arms a ghastly white. The heat in my hands pulsed stronger and faster, until I thought they’d catch fire.
Without any idea what I was doing, I brought my hands in front of my face, flames licking sideways, elegantly and steady like a weaving flag, and braiding itself with my hair. I crossed my arms and turned my palms to face me, a bonfire in my skin. I shaped my hands into a bird: thumbs together, fingers out…and blew.
A great ball of fire leapt off my hands and flew across the great, murky space towards the second carriage. The remaining heat and flames retracted into my fingers and transformed my skin back to a healthy peach hue. I watched as the ball crossed over the painted, blurred world. Seconds before it impacted, the ball suddenly spread out and reshaped into a bird, with fiery feathers trailing behind. Its head twisted back, and a pair of bright white eyes looked at me.
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