Electricity encircled Opeth, the Osiris Beam as lightning tore the sky. Pistons whirred and blue light rippled through its entire body, glowing like lantern light beneath its slick, metallic skin. Its roar came like an avalanche of iron scraping steel as Botan howled, her wing singed and smoking.
Quickly, grab on to me, Botan said telepathically to the children. Hue grabbed hold of one of Botan’s tendrils and held his sister’s wrist.
“I’m losing it!” Sara said, the egg falling out of her grasp just as the first raindrop fell.
“Hold on!” Hue told his sister as Botan ducked another of Opeth’s cannon blasts.
But the scales were too slippery and the wind gusts too strong. The egg slipped from her fingers.
Leave it, Botan said. We will come back for it.
“I can’t,” Sara said, ripping her wrist free from her brother’s grasp. “I won’t!” She dove off Botan’s back, chasing the egg.
“SARA!” Hue screamed, and before he knew it, he jumped.
“I’ll save you,” Sara said over and over again as the rain smacked her face and the lightning shook her bones. She reached. The egg was almost in grasp…
Opeth appeared out of the darkness, light rippling off of its horns. Iron scraping steel. Another cannon blast, this time right at Sara.
She forgot to breathe.
“Leave my sister alone!” Hue fell on top of Opeth, kicking him in the head. The momentum from the kick sent him sprawling into Sara and the two fell together.
“Gotcha,” Sara said, grabbing the egg and holding on tight.
Thank you, little ones, Botan said. I will take it from here.
She swooped, tearing wires from Opeth’s neck.
“I love you, sis,” Hue said, holding her tightly as they fell.
But Sara could only hear her heart beating louder than the thunder or the dragons fighting above. She closed her eyes and heard another heartbeat, beating in unison with hers. The egg’s.
The egg had slowed in its descent until it was level with the children. A comet streaked across the shell again and for a second, everything went silent.
Light poured from the egg in waves, surrounding the children in a protective orb, slowing their fall. A cannon blast bounced off the orb and ricocheted back into the night sky. Sara opened one eye in time to see Botan ripping Opeth’s wings from its back.
“Botan, watch out!” Hue screamed. The light inside of Opeth burned bright. Its neck and head shook as if collapsing. It exploded, taking Botan with it.
The blast sent the orb sprawling to the ground where it bounced once and then dissipated. The children lay under cover of tree branches as the egg lowered itself into Sara’s arms again.
“Did you see them?” came a voice.
“Up ahead. They had the egg.”
Hue covered Sara’s mouth faster than she could form thoughts. He silenced her with a look.
Five soldiers ran through the trees next to them. How far had they traveled from Pirth? Sara couldn’t say. Far enough that the fields of grain had given way to forest.
When he was certain they were gone, Hue lifted his hand. “Those men aren’t from Southmarch,” he whispered. “I don’t recognize their uniforms from anywhere in Arcania.”
“How could that be?” Sara said.
Hue looked from the egg to his sister. “How could any of this be, Sara?”
“Did you see what happened to Botan? Is she okay?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “Quiet! I hear something.”
Opeth’s sizzling mechanical body whistled as it fell from the sky and crashed through the undergrowth near where Sara and Hue lay. The ground collapsed underneath its weight, opening a dark hollow that swallowed them whole.