‘Bastian!’ I screamed, hoping beyond hope that he could hear me. ‘Bastian, help me!’ but my pained cries were wasted over the sounds of the raging battle around me. I screamed again as the nix’s claws dug into my ankle, forcing me to the ground. I tried to get away, but the more I struggled the tighter it dug its beastly claws into my flesh.
All of a sudden the Nix stopped dragging me, and that was when pain shot up my leg, something warm trickling down across it from my ankle. When I looked behind me it was covered in blood, and the Nix was staring at me- its cold, dark eyes, calculating what to do next. To kill or not to kill. I took its uncertainty as an opportunity to run, to escape from its grip. But just as I got to my feet, something hard struck the back of my head, forcing me to the ground once again.
Black spots swarmed my vision, and dizziness warned of unconsciousness. I lay there on the ground, thinking that surely I was done for. Willing, willing that my death would be quick and painless. From the corner of my vision I thought I saw someone- a boy- running towards me, blood running down his face. Bastian? No it couldn’t be. If one of the Sagyrr’s hadn’t gotten him by now one of the Nix’s certainly would have. They are terrible creatures, with their wrinkly, blue skin and glowing yellow eyes. They come at you with claws of steel, so long that they could disembowel you with one flick of their wrists. They weren’t very tall, only about the size of a toddler, but they had inhuman speed, darting back and forth so fast, you weren’t even sure what you were looking at- unless you knew what a Nix was of course.
From my dazed stupor I heard the sounds of ear-piercing whales, coming from a few of the nearby Nix’s. It wasn’t easy to kill a Nix. They dodged you so quickly it was hard to get a clean shot, but when you did get one, the sounds they made were horrific- like the sirens of twenty police cars and the screams of dying children mixed together. Trust me, that was the only way to describe it.
Just as I felt myself drifting into unconsciousness I felt someone’s strong arms lift me from the ground, carefully carrying me away from my attackers. I felt their strong heartbeat pounding through their tattered, blood-stained shirt, their embrace protecting me. Finally I couldn’t fight it off any longer, and flowed into a peaceful oblivion.
When I awoke, I seemed to be in a strange room, only about 10 metres square. The walls looked as though they were made of ancient timber logs, and the roof had holes in it, allowing some of the fading sunlight to escape through. When I looked around I realised I was not alone. There were about five others with me- three girls and two boys- all looking as dazed as me.
‘What’s going on? Where are we?’ I asked frantically, scared that we might have been kidnapped somehow. But then I remembered what had happened before I woke here. A Nix attack- they had come by the dozens, swarming through our town, killing anyone stupid enough to get in their way. I had tried to fight a few of them off, with the help of some of my friends, when one latched onto my ankle and knocked me to the ground. Then I remembered that I had been carried here. But who would have carried me to this place? Bastian? No surely he was dead by now. There had to be a reason that only the six of us were here; something about us that someone had wanted to keep a secret from everyone else.
While I had been thinking, I hadn’t noticed that someone had been speaking to me. One of the boys had answered and was simply staring at me, waiting for a reply.
‘Sorry…what did you say?’ I asked
‘I said,’ he replied, slightly annoyed at not being heard the first time ‘that we don’t know how we got here. All we know is that we were fighting against those, those things-’
‘Nix’s’ I interrupted, earning me a glare. ‘Sorry.’
‘And then we ended up here.’ He finished.
‘Well there has to be a reason why we are the only ones here. Someone wants us for something, something important.’
‘Or we are the last ones alive.’ Suggested one of the girls in the corner.
‘Then how did we get here without knowing?’ I questioned back.
‘Well maybe we are the last good ones alive. Maybe the enemies kidnapped us and dumped us in this shack.’
‘Maybe…’ I replied, and then a thought hit me. ‘How did you guys get here? Did someone carry you, or were you knocked out before you knew you were being taken somewhere?’
‘Something whacked me in the back of the head, and I went down. Don’t remember nothin else though…until I woke up here. And with the worst headache might I add.’ The other guy said, rubbing the back of his head as if reinforcing his story.
‘Well, I was dragged to the edge of the lake by one of those…Nix’s, and then I can’t remember anything else, I must have gone unconscious or something,’ replied a girl with fiery red hair.
‘Well, I suppose it’s a start. At least we know that they didn’t want us to know anything about where we were going or who was kidnapping us. But did anyone notice anything strange before they got here, anything out of the ordinary?’
‘You mean apart from the swarm of demon spawn that killed half- or all- of our little town? No, I didn’t see anything,’ replied the first boy, his words practically dripping with sarcasm.
‘Now that I think about it, I do remember seeing something strange in the sky, almost like massive a bird,’ said the second boy.
‘What did it look like? Was it deadly? Did it have claws? What about its teeth? Was it-’
‘Stop!’ he yelled, ‘Geez, one question at a time girl! I don’t know what it looked like alright? It was probably just my imagination. Seeing all of those demon spawn today just stuffed up my brain. I’m not sure I can even remember the last time I went to the toilet- I’d sure as hell like to go right now…’ he trailed off, his cheeks flushing slightly at what he had just said.
‘Oh, sorry,’ I replied, ‘I was just hoping that maybe we could figure out something that could help us to get out of here and find out what’s going on.’
‘Shut up guys! Do you hear that?’ The red-haired girl whispered harshly, her right ear inclined in the direction of the roof.
As we all stopped to listen, we began to hear faint cries in the distance. They weren’t voices or trumpets announcing the enemies’ defeat- as much as we all hoped they were- they sounded almost like the cries of a starving animal. Except no animal we knew had ever made sounds like that before. It was a raspy, strangled sound- and extremely loud now. It also seemed to be getting closer.
‘Oh my god. Oh my god,’ fretted one of the other girls, who had- up until now- been quietly observing the conversation. ‘We’re all going to die. That THING is going to get us! Can’t you hear it! It’s coming, it’s COMING! Oh my god…’
‘Calm down, Tabitha! We’re not going to die!’ yelled the first boy. ‘It doesn’t even know we are in her-’
He was cut off as the sound of scraping claws and piercing cries sounded from the roof above us, little flutters of dust and dirt falling from the open cracks.
‘Oh it knows we’re here alright’ shouted the other boy over the noise, a slight smile appearing on his face.
Suddenly one of the timber posts holding up one side of the roof collapsed, snapping in half and falling into a heap on the floor. Everyone scurried backwards, against the far wall. With a loud creaking and groaning of wood, the roof collapsed inwards, bringing with it the terrible winged creature with glowing red eyes, its gaze directed straight at me.
To be continued...