Take a Breath

Glad you could join us for the next restful episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: Geoff Gallice

Beneath the churning web, agony’s wail rode the final unbreaking wave as it crossed the field to leave behind the silent, still shallows of death. The enemy Flyers who dared to attack its surface learned too late that the struggle to destroy it only drew the attacker further under. Those who witnessed it from above soon retreated toward The Arids.

Vernon and Ambassador Arturo waited at the web’s edge where an escaping whisper of breath hinted at the Wildlands ants’ approach. Commandant Marabunta was the first to emerge.

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Above and Below

Glad you could join us for the next tangled episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Image credit: mirmiran-architecture / fogdenphotos / S.T. Ranscht

The gluey silken lattices fell like a curling wave, spreading across the battlefield as the Alliance Flyers approached the Hive. Enemy land troops ran, but the smothering webs overtook them and trapped them where they stood. Arids Flyers, circling low after the retreat sounded, tangled in the ropey strands and fell, unable to escape. Webs continued to rain across the clearing, blunting the impotent struggles of the doomed, advancing toward the Hive.

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Flights of Death and Glory

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Image credit: Tomás Saraceno / Guido Limardo

The Alliance’s call to retreat rang out beneath the approaching shadow. All land and air forces, except the Freelands bees, pulled back to the Hive tree, beating away the closest attackers to defend and hold the royal residence to their deaths if necessary.

Ripping away from its parent darkness and speeding toward them, a smaller shadow became Sam and Clifton leading their company in a desperate race to reach Central Fen ahead of the growing darkness. Sweeping past the swarm still tormenting the enemy vulture, Sam yelled, “Retreat! Run! Get back to the Hive!”

“Captain,” Clifton called, “those are Freelands bees—”

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They’re Coming!

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Photo credit: Kimballstock.com

At the Hive, Captain Avery’s screeching alarm yanked Vernon from his troubled dreams of nameless shadows creeping in from all sides, and threw him into a harsh reality of impending doom and death. How Lilian had remained asleep he couldn’t fathom, but leaving her to enjoy a few more moments of peace, he flew outside to find out what the hell was happening.

The Captain of the Dark of Night Aero Squadron flapped through the dwindling spatter, stark against the lumpy sky, lit in a final blast of lightning. Spying the Queen’s Liaison, he landed on a branch above the Hive.

“Sir,” his breath burst hot on Vernon’s face, “a patrol of grounded Flyers has discovered five slain Guards right here in Central Fen.”

“The General’s henchmen?”

“It looks that way, Sir. They’re too far apart and too recently dead to believe there was only one killer.”

Vernon closed his eyes. “And Cyrus? The Guard outside the Bower?”

“I’m not certain. If he’s one of the victims, he’s been dragged away and hidden. But we found another body — an enemy’s — close to the Bower.”

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Casualties

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Image credit: SD Zoo/Aussietrev/wallup.net/S.T. Ranscht

Bog’s army had arrived in time to help push General Hai’s troops back across Fen’s border, at least for the night. Now, at the end of a day filled with conferences, bad news, and tough decisions, Queen Lilian heard the same remorse in King Arnie’s apology that she’d expressed to Vernon earlier.

“No one saw it coming, Arnie.” she said. “What’s important is that Bog’s army is here now, and Commander Torlex has taken the Arids’ Alliance Army across the northwestern corner of Fen to cut through the enemy.”

“Torlex is a cagey one,” King Arnie confided. “He’s hinted he has a secret attack plan that’s going to take the General by surprise, but only his army knows what it is.”

“Do you trust him?” Lilian asked.

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Not the Only One

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Photo credit: RWS

As Barry and Trevor lifted Randall between them, a screeching alarm ripped across the sky which instantly filled with the raucous cries of every Flyer within earshot. Captain Avery of the Dark of Night Aero Squadron streaked from the woods, dropping to the ground when he saw the two Knights.

“Another one?” he asked. “The Eastern Guard is dead, too. An apparent Stinger attack.”

“Randall isn’t dead,” Trevor explained, “but we don’t know where to find Fen’s Healer.”

Taking a closer look at the prostrate frog, the owl said, “Take him to Princess Cassandra. Straight west, just beyond the Hive. I’d transport him myself, but I have to see the Queen.” He swept his wings out scooping gales of air to lift himself into the sky.

“I know where she lives,” Barry said. “Let’s go.”

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Fen’s Send Off

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Photo credit: lajollalight.com

In the starlit Field surrounded by most of Fen’s civilian residents, Captain Harper presented Fen’s troops to Queen Lilian the Magnificent.

“— and each Captain has their unit’s assignment. Daylight Land and Light of Day Aero forces deploy at sunrise. Nocturnal Land, Dark of Night Aero, and Hive Elite forces will deploy immediately following the Queen’s address. Your Magnificence, your troops stand ready.”

Scanning the assembled army, the Queen hovered before them.

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