Chapter Forty-Four

When the blackness in Nisa’s vision finally receeded and she fully awoke, the fighting around her still continued. Her eyes immediately landed on Oliver where he still furiously pressed a sword against the leader’s throat, but the leader’s claws blocked it. The leader’s strength, even with the smoke in the air, seemed to be winning out.

How was that possible?

Nisa jumped to her feet and stood behind Oliver. With all the strength she could muster, she pressed her hand on his and helped him press the wooden sword toward the leader’s throat. At first, she wondered how the wooden weapons would even do any damage, but they were sharpened. It seemed as if the captured women in the camp had really prepared for this.

The leader howled, opening his jaws wide as he bit the sword. With a grunt, he snapped his mouth closed, which cracked the sword in half. His claws raked across Oliver’s chest and threw he and Nisa backward. They landed on the ground in a heap, gasping for breath.

Oliver hissed in pain with a curse. “Don’t have my gun. See anything else to fight with?”

Nisa glanced around but they had been knocked to the edge of the camp on the other side, away from the fighting. There were no fallen weapons in sight. “No. Ollie…”

The leader growled unintelligible words at them and glared at them in fury. With a mighty howl, he leapt toward them.

Oliver shoved Nisa to the right as he leapt in the opposite direction, out of the way of the leader’s lunge. The movement propelled him forward and as he stumbled, Oliver leapt behind him and kicked the leader’s knee. He buckled, so Oliver grabbed the back of the leader’s head and slammed it against the ground. The leader didn’t seem phased and he turned and bite Oliver’s arm.

His teeth tore through Oliver’s skin and Ollie screamed in pain.

Nisa darted up behind the leader, wrapping her hands around his throat. She pressed against him as hard as she could, desperate to choke the life out of him.

He thrashed and viciously shook his head, which only tore Oliver’s arm more. Oliver cried out in pain.

Nisa jabbed her fingers into the leader’s eyes. He howled, releasing Oliver’s arm. Oliver collapsed onto the ground, cradling his arm that dangerously spurted out blood.

The leader used both his hands to grab Nisa and pry her arms off his neck.

“Nisa!” Oliver groaned, trying to stand to his feet, but he collapsed.

The leader clamped onto Nisa’s arms with his hands and then flipped her over his head. He slammed her against the ground. All the air in her body disappeared as pain erupted in her chest and blackness surged on her.

A wild cry echoed in her ears and mixed with terrible growls and howling that made her want to cringe. Air finally filtered through her lungs and she gasped, blinking to try to clear her vision.

White shapes blurred into view just as the leader threw Oliver to the ground beside her. His arm spurted blood, so she grabbed it and tried to hold it in.

She paled. “Ollie…”

He gritted his teeth. “Hit an artery. Minutes before I…” His eyes slowly started to flutter shut.

“No…” Nisa cried.

Above them, the leader growled and leapt toward them.

Suddenly, a blue shape slammed into the leader and wrenched his head to the side in a single movement. Nisa stared at the blue figure in shock before finally registering who it was.

“Kor’ok! I thought you were hurt!”

“My body recovered. Good thing Jols are stronger than Fabari. Our ancestors used to fight them all the time.” Kor’ok’s eyes landed on Oliver and then Vanmor, still bleeding on the altar. “No…”

Tears fell from Nisa’s eyes as she bent down to Oliver, pressing her hands against his wound. His face paled, turning as white as a ghost and his head fell back. “Ollie, stay with me. God, please don’t let him die! Please!” Nisa begged with a heart-wrenching sob that twisted her stomach.

A loud screeching forced her gaze far to the right. Behind one of the huts was a creature lying on the ground, tied with more of that strong rope to the ground. It thrashed and tried to escape, but couldn’t.

The Storm Griffin.

“Kor’ok!” Nisa called.

Kor’ok glanced at her. “Protect him and Vanmor. Susie! Bea!”

Susie and Bea darted over while Chris held off another warrior on their other side.

“Keep your hands on his wounds. He doesn’t have long. Is Vanmor awake enough to create a fire? If not, one of you find one of the fires the women started to get that smoke in the air. See if you can cauterize Ollie’s wound!” Nisa shouted.

Bea shook her head. “But Nisa, if it doesn’t kill him, he’ll lose the use of his arm!”

“Just do it!” Bea took over holding her hands on the gaping wound in Oliver’s arm. Desperation surged through her as Nisa jumped to her feet, fighting through the tears.

She darted inside the leader’s hut, grabbed two swords and dashed back outside. One of the women slammed a spear into another warrior’s chest. Nisa jumped to the side to avoid another woman and warrior rolling around on the ground in a tangle of arms and legs.

The Griffin hissed as she neared it. Nisa swallowed deeply. So far, the smoke didn’t seem to be as badly affecting the Fabari as the women thought. They outnumbered them, but the warriors were still stronger than they were and if she didn’t do something, they would all die or be recaptured and she didn’t know which was worse.

Taking a deep breath, she met the Storm Griffin’s eyes. “Please don’t kill me.”

With that, she slammed one of the sword’s down against the binds on the upper left leg, then the right, followed by the back left and right. The griffin still couldn’t stand, since the Fabari had tied its wings down. With a sharp exhale, Nisa brought both swords down on the ropes over the griffin’s wings.

Its beautiful wings unfurled and it took off through the air. Dark clouds rolled in overhead and thunder trembled across the sky. Lightning zapped down, striking each of the Fabari warriors in one blow.

Nisa stared at the Storm Griffin in shock.

“Nisa!” Susie screamed.

Nisa sprinted toward Bea and Susie where they knelt over Oliver. He had fully passed out and his breathing slowed.

“He’s barely breathing! We don’t have long!”

Susie held a torch.

Nisa closed her eyes, bile forming in her throat. This would destroy him, but better lose his arm than his life. “Do—“

Before she could finish her sentence, with a mighty squawk, the Storm Griffin landed behind them.

Bea, Susie, and Nisa all froze but the griffin’s eyes met her gaze. It lowered its head, gesturing to Oliver with its beak.

Kor’ok’s eyes widened.

Something about its gaze made Nisa feel completely safe and comforted.

“Nisa…” Susie’s voice trailed off with a squeak.

“It’s okay,” she murmured softly. She gently pushed Susie and Bea away and scooted to one side.

The griffin lowered its beak to Oliver’s arm. Bright golden lightning poured from the Storm Griffin’s beak and surged through Ollie’s arm. For a horrified second, Nisa thought she had just made a terrible mistake.

Then, the slashes on Oliver’s arms closed as the lightning crossed over them. Right in front of her.

“Wh—“ Susie gaped at Oliver.

Bea’s widened eyes slowly reached out to touch the griffin’s beak, but it twisted its head out of the way. The griffin met Nisa’s gaze and squawked, as if it was saying that they were even.

With another, final soft caw, the Storm Griffin took off into the air and disappeared into the clouds. The thunder quieted and the rain and lightning disappeared as the sun came out, revealing God’s glorious creation.

Oliver gasped and sat up, staring at his arm in shock. “Wh—“

“The griffin healed you,” Nisa said, still in complete awe at what had just happened.

“The Creator truly has made wonders,” Ena said where she, Aleyr, and Teho joined them.

Kor’ok nodded where his hands held some of Vanmor’s worse cuts. “The Fabari have a habit of hunting creatures they shouldn’t. Years ago, my people were constantly fighting with them to try to get them to leave the creatures in peace. They must have angered the griffin in the first place.”

Kari walked over as Oliver and Nisa stood to their feet, Oliver slipping his arm around her. “We don’t know how to thank you enough for your help. Many of us have been captured by these beasts for years. And now our children will all be safe.”

“And you can return home,” Ena said.

Kari nodded, smiling from ear to ear as the children slowly emerged from the hut. “Yes. We can finally be reunited with our real families.” Her eyes glanced at Vanmor, still passed out on the altar. “One of us is a healer. She will do what she can. Mosura!”

A woman with white hair and light-yellow streaks darted up. “Yes, Kari?”

Kari gestured to Vanmor, who groaned where Kor’ok held his hands on some of Vanmor’s worse wounds. “Tend to him, please.”

The healer inclined her head and several women brought baskets filled with cloths, water, herbs, and other supplies. Kor’ok backed off to give them room to work on Vanmor.

“Will he be alright?” Nisa asked Kari.

Kari nodded. “I believe so. His skin was cut up, but the wounds were shallow. Not like your friend’s arm.”

“We are free!” one woman cried. The others joined in, lifting their voices to the heavens with cries of happiness and joy and celebration.

Nisa laughed, embracing Oliver as she slammed her lips against his in a fierce, passionate kiss.

Susie leapt up in Chris’ arms and Ena and Aleyr hugged. Teho and Chris both laughed and some of the women began to dance and sing, which made Nisa’s translator glitch.

“We’re all okay,” Nisa said with a sigh of relief that surged through her and left her suddenly feeling completely exhausted.

“Yeah, we are.” Oliver wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in for a tight, warm embrace.

Oliver swallowed deeply and glanced at his arm. “How—how did that creature heal me?”

Nisa opened her mouth to answer but no words came. “I—I don’t know. Have any of you heard of a Storm Griffin doing that?”

Aleyr shook his head. “Nope. They get angry, cause storms and floods, kill people with lightning. But not once has one of them ever healed anyone before.”

Bea shrugged. “You saved its life. The Storm Griffin is intelligent enough to know that, so all it did was repay the debt.”

“That’s not what I’m wondering,” Aleyr said, staring at the sky warily. “What bothers me is the fact that griffins don’t have healing abilities. Lightning doesn’t either.”

Nisa shook her head and waved him off. “It doesn’t matter. Oliver’s arm better and hopefully the healers can help Vanmor. The Fabari are dead and everyone’s free and safe. That’s all that matters now.”

Aleyr clicked his tongue with a shrug, but his gaze never left the sky.

Warning signs and fears rang in the back of Nisa’s mind like bells, but she ignored them, wrapped her arms around Oliver’s neck, and planted another kiss on his lips. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Ni.”

Nisa pulled away and met his warm, green irises, ones that she had worried she would never see again. “When we get back to Earth… let’s get engaged.”

Oliver chuckled. “You do realize I’m supposed to ask you that, right?”

Nisa’s lips pulled up into a huge grin. “Of course, and you still can. I expect a really dramatic proposal.”

“Don’t worry. You’ll get the proposal you deserve, my love.” Oliver burrowed his head into her neck and kissed her before he pulled away and just simply held her against him.

Two of the women grabbed Oliver and Nisa’s hands, dragging them into a circle as the rest of them danced and sang. Nisa shrugged and decided to celebrate. They were all safe and had such a close brush with death, they deserved to relax and have fun. All the cares in the world washed away from her in that moment, and Nisa felt truly happy and free.

Even being on this strange yet beautiful new world wasn’t bad. After all, if they had never been stranded here, they wouldn’t have met any of their new friends.

Ena was so sweet and deserved to have more in life than what she had been able to have before. Nisa hoped that she found someone to make her truly happy. Kor’ok had been so discarded by people that it brought Nisa joy to see him finally laughing and spending time with friends. Vanmor had protected them and done so much to help them; she hoped and prayed he would recover. Teho had lost so much that Nisa wanted him to be safe and happy. Even Aleyr, despite the fact that he was a pirate, had grown on her.

These captured women and their children were finally free, their pain was over, and they could return home. It was likely their town was the next stop in their journey, so Nisa looked forward to them all traveling together.

After a lot of food and celebration, and, especially, a good night’s rest.

Joanna White

I'm a Christian author with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Entertainment. I love God and my family and am passionate about writing Christian Fantasy. I'm a total nerd; I love Star Wars and video games and many other TV Shows.

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