Chapter Three: Wild Valley
Gunfire erupted in Wild Valley’s outskirts.
Smoke billowed about the bounding region as panicked families scrambled into the surrounding woods. Elementals, a few familiar faces Sion went to school with, confronted men and women wearing navy military jackets whose chest bore a white block ‘T’ outlined in red.
The Tamurians and their loyalist South Nordican allies outnumbered the rebels at least six to one.
Sion led Col and Liri behind an abandoned farmhouse and pointed past the battle between Tamurian soldiers and Wild Valley residents to a tree line at the base of a wooded hill. On the property in front, a middle-aged owner and two young men brandished high-powered rifles. The two teenage elementals sprinting toward them stood no chance. The men fired in unison, downing the kids before they morphed into an attack position across the country road.
“Look.” Liri motioned to a pole where the Tamurian flag flew higher than any structure on the property. Below it, a flag bearing Lord Tuukka’s coat of arms.
“Ten-Year War vet.” Col nodded to the men’s guns. “Tuukka would never trust a civilian with those.”
“That guy’s always given me and my cousins dirty looks when we’d walk past,” Sion said, as a stray bullet penetrated the barn’s broadside. “I’m sure his kids are in South Nordica’s branch of the Tamurian Military if they’re such good shots.”
Atop the hill behind the property rested Issa and Antto’s neighborhood. “If we can get past those guys,” he said, while the men blew two more teens off their feet.
Col grabbed the hem of Sion’s tank. “Touch the sword and Liri will do the rest. Are you still good, Liri?”
“Uh…” Liri’s eyes drooped, and she swayed before catching herself.
“Just to those woods. I’ll take care of the men. Sion, get to your aunt and uncle’s.”
Liri drew a breath and set her continual drooping eyelids on the hill.
Sion laid a finger on the flat and Liri vaped. He reappeared behind the men at the bottom of the hill outside the tree line where gunfire, shouts, and screams pierced the air.
One of the three wheeled about and pointed his weapon.
Col directed his sword and stirred a funnel cloud from its tip as the man fired. His gunshot ricocheted as Col’s vortex grew so strong it crumbled the home and sent the men flying sixty feet into the adjacent road.
Sion turned to the wooded bank leading to the rows of houses. “Wait here. And Liri, keep yourself hidden.” Before he kicked into a windsurf, something exploded with so much force the ground quaked.
“That didn’t come from a manmade weapon.” Col brandished his sword and whipped around. “There’s a powerful Fire Master nearby. Perhaps several.”
“Fire Masters against small-town elementals?” Sion said.
“It’s Tamuria like I haven’t seen them in two decades.”
Sion dipped his knees and surfed through the treetops. As a line of homes entered his vision, he surfed toward the last house on the corner which looked as if a bomb exploded within.
Praying his cousins’ bodies weren’t lying in the confines, Sion sped and threw two jabs with his left hand, sending incoming Tamurians off their feet with back-to-back gusts.
As he neared the house, a blue-cloaked female with olive skin, braided black hair, and red highlights darted from what remained of the place. She raised her sword as her lips curled into a lopsided grin.
Her body language spoke one thing; she already confronted Erno, Timo, and Hannah.
Sion landed as she pointed her sword. He sent a whirlwind, thrusting his left and right fists forward while stepping ahead.
The girl sneered before dissipating the incoming strike. She leaped, dissolved Sion’s ensuing attack a second time, and from her sword tip, shot a twin flare.
Sion kicked into another surf and she followed, her boots grazing the flames on which she rode in a firesurf.
She raised an eyebrow and thrust her sword, shooting another twin flare.
Sion went low, raised pebbles, dust, and gravel, and swirled them into a funnel cloud.
The girl’s sinister sneer deepened. “A dust devil? Such a low level for your age.”
“If you’re so advanced, why don’t you finish me?” He flung the growing storm her way.
The girl evaded his maneuver and jerked her head. “Once I’m done playing with you as I was with all of your relatives.”
Sion darted toward his aunt and uncle’s burned-out house as the girl again shot her signature flares. He zigzagged in his descent, kicked through a window, and dashed through the deserted house. No signs of a struggle except for the charred interior.
He paced the living room, feeling her eyes behind him. Sion closed his, waiting. As he learned at a local gym during his high school days from a spirit elemental, individuals could feel incoming negative energy, elemental ability or not.
A fire blast ignited. He ducked under the window to avoid the incoming inferno which hit the opposite wall in the kitchen and set the building ablaze.
As the fire grew, Sion morphed into an athletic position in anticipation for another blast, but a girl shrieked upstairs. He kicked into another windsurf and bolted toward the landing.
“Where did they take Erno and Timo?”
“Up here,” Erno’s voice called from another room.
Another twin flare shot through the window. An eruption followed, where the girl stood at the top of the stairway immersed in a fireball, sword at the ready.
Sion shot a whirlwind, but she deflected it with an ember before shooting a flare into Hannah’s room, where his cousin’s screams intensified.
“I love the smell of burning flesh.” The girl checked her wristwatch, which erupted into a hologram. “You have—”
Sion shot a whirlwind into her ribcage. He windsurfed up the stairway and kicked her across the jaw. She staggered into the window and before she regained her balance, he shot another whirlwind, where the glass shattered as she smashed through.
An unpleasant thump told him he’d done his job and somehow defeated a Fire Master in a duel. Hey, an ugly win is a win. But Hannah’s screams pierced the billowing air around him, choking, coughing, and sputtering.
“Hannah, can you hear me?”
A muffled “yes” answered, before her coughs worsened.
He leaped into another windsurf as flames engulfed the perimeter of her room. Sion wrenched open the closet doors and Hannah sat, her hands tied to the white pole in the closet’s center.
As he untied her, color from her olive face drained. Hannah held a hand over her mouth, dry-heaving.
“Here, put this over your nose and mouth.” Sion ripped one of her shirts from its hanger and held it to her face. He cradled Hannah and windsurfed her from the room as flames invaded the closet.
“Erno?” he called.
“In Mom and Dad’s room.”
Hannah hacked as Sion shot across the hallway. The flames hadn’t reached the area. Yet smoke seeped in as the fire alarms blared. Sion laid Hannah on the bed and surfed to the wall, where he grabbed a knife from Uncle Antto’s collection. He surfed toward the closet doors, kicked them open, and cut Erno free.
“Grab Hannah and get her outside. Tamurians are all over the place, so stay out of the way.”
Erno nodded, seized a semi-conscious Hannah, bolted from the room, and scurried down the stairs.
“Did you miss me?” an enraged voice said.
The girl stood in the doorway, her arrogant grin absent. She pointed the sword at the door on the right. “First, Sion Zona, you’re going to watch Timo die.” She stepped forward. “Then, my Youth are going to kill Erno and Hannah.” Another step. “And I’m going to kill you last.”
She shot a fire blast into Timo’s room but gasped as a hulking figure somersaulted into her with so much force she barrel-rolled into and across the room. Timo snapped his fingers to evoke his wood control. The tree in the front yard crashed through the window and with a wave, he directed the branches across the girl’s chest, neck, and waist.
Sion windsurfed toward the girl, tore the Sword of Fire from her hands, and tossed it into the inferno. “Have fun telling your master you missed us,” he said, as Timo stomped across the hallway and descended the staircase.
Sion kicked into another windsurf, followed Timo out of the house, and around the side yard where Erno and Hannah took refuge under one of the oak trees out back.
Hannah’s eyes widened in fear and surprise as she gaped at the house. On instinct, she conjured an aqua beam to extinguish the fire.
“Hannah, save your energy,” Sion said, as his cousin’s face grew waxy.
Flames erupted next door and along the line of houses. For a second, it looked like the girl escaped from Timo’s trap and advanced on them again. But two seconds later, airplanes and helicopters zoomed overhead, each bearing the Tamurian crest.
Sion again cradled Hannah. “Come on.” He sprinted toward the wooded area leading to the hillside. Halfway there, a vapor appeared. Col and Liri stood before them as the choppers rained gunfire.
“You’ve been almost twenty-five minutes,” Col said, as the earth quaked.
“I had yard work to take care of,” Sion said, as Liri rolled her eyes next to Col.
“They’re overrunning the town.” Col pointed at mushroom-shaped clouds rising in the distance. “We must go.”
“But our parents—?” Erno said, looking from Sion to Liri, and to Col.
Sion tightened his grip on Hannah and shook his head at Erno. His older cousin’s ashen stare told Sion he caught the hint.
Erno sprinted toward the property, knelt, and sunk his fist into the ground, allowing the house to crumble. “If anyone’s destroying it, it’s us.”
“It and Miss Fire Master.” Sion cast a sly grin toward the ruin. If anyone deserved to go like that, it was her. “Alright, let’s get out of here.”
“Grasp the sword, all of you,” Col said.
“But I can only take four—” Liri said.
“Again, Liri, side-along vaping with Elemental Masters has its perks. Now gather around.”
Steadying Hannah in one arm, Sion took Liri’s hand and guided it to the sword.
She burst into smoke, where they reappeared in another secluded area deep within the forest.
Thank you for reading the sample for Wind Wielder! To discover what happens to Sion Zona and the gang, head over to Amazon.com and START YOUR BINGE READING ADVENTURE TODAY!