Rain struck. The sky grayed and the sun dimmed. Flooding the crops and the cobblestones, the villagers rushed to their homes to get themselves dry. The humid air glued on their nostrils and stuffed their lungs. At school, the Young Guards cancelled the daily ceremony, and allowed the kids to go home early. They were shaking and freezing from the sudden weather, some of them even caught the common cold.
Snots and tears, the students took off. To them, it was good that they didn’t have to withstand a minute of silence, given that the showers could bury them into more of the sickness.
The school grounds were empty, but Neha and Sachen had yet to depart. It must have been that they had to stay after school due to an important matter. However, due to the absence of the teachers, they were alone in the place. More significantly, Sachen forgot to retrieve something. She had nodded herself to sleep throughout the whole day, occupying herself by meandering in her dreams. Realizing that she was missing one thing, she bolted out of the classroom and zoomed through the hallways, with Neha pursuing her friend. She called for Sachen many times, yet the latter kept spurring forth.
“Sachen! Just where are you going? Are you going to tell me or not? I might have to chase you until the end.”
The feet of the girls squeaked the tiles, and they left a huge trail of water behind them. The residue of rain on their hair wetted the walls and windows. At this rate, they could submerge the whole building.
Had the teachers been here longer in time, they would have scolded the two for making a mess of themselves.
Towards the end of the hallways, Sachen turned right to the restroom area. Neha caught up with her. Entering the female’s room, the humidity was permeating through the walls, and the girls coughed and pinched their noses. The stall doors remained open, and showed the toilets in sparkling, clean conditions. From the middle part of the ceiling, a series of droplets impacted Neha’s head. She seesawed between her steps.
Sachen, looking at the corners, and huddling to the sink area, found the object that slipped out of her mind hours ago. She sighed.
“Ah, there it is!” From the furthest sink, Sachen snatched her umbrella and pressed the bottom spring near the tip cup. Opening it, she waved it up and down, creating a huge whip of wind that made the moisture even more stifling. Neha shivered and sneezed. Sachen continued to do until the wind brittled their skins. She exhausted herself more in this instance than from sleeping in her classes.
“Well then Neha, let’s go home.” Sachen walked to the door.
“W-wait, before we can, do you want to wring our uniforms here? Standing in the flagpole area under the rain really soaked our clothes.”
“Here? That’d be messy. The janitor might get mad for us spilling some water here.”
“But we’ll catch a cold. Wet clothes are not good when they are worn after all.”
“That’s what my mom say every time! She keeps on nagging me whenever rain occurs! That’s why she always shove an umbrella in my tote bag, and I’d complain that the dang thing is too heavy to carry.”
“You should listen to her, because you’ll never know when you’re going to get sick.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Ah, we can do it now.” Grabbing a chair near one of the stalls, Sachen placed it before the sink near the window; she lifted Neha to the chair. “You go first.”
Neha coughed as she looked at her reflection on the mirror. She clutched onto the end of her dress and overlapped it to the sink; she then twisted the part. Her hands going in opposite directions, water gushed from the clothing, and it spiraled down the drain. Numbness possessed her, Neha felt that her hands were going to fall out. She persisted. In less than a minute did she turn her dress into wrinkles, it distorted the pattern of the flowers and vines. Although it was so, she worried little about it.
“I’m done,” Neha said, she hopped to the floor. “Now it’s your turn.”
“Roger that!” Nodding, Sachen stumbled her steps upon the chair.
Before she could start, she smirked in front of the mirror.
She then opened her arms, and let the droplets of the rain dripped on its own. She glanced at Neha, giving a smirk again. With the force of her hips and abdomen, she spun herself. On her toes, she fountained the water from her dress and body, the residue invaded the air and damped the floor.
“S-Sachen!” Neha shielded her face, her hands got wet. “Don’t do that, you’re going to be in trouble! And you were the one who said that the janitor will get mad if we do this!”
Sachen laughed. “Nobody is going to catch us! We’re fairies in stealth! We can escape by the window if the janitor comes. No worries, no problems!” She did this more and more, until she managed to soak everything around her. The mess from her became terrifying; water surged along the cracks and lines of the tiles, the walls swelled and turned sticky, and the stall doors trembled. It could have been better if she had opted to wring her clothes. If the devil were to see this, then he would weep.
“Yay! Now that we’re done, let’s go home. Today, we have no time to search for Kuraizang, so we’ll hold the plan off.” Sachen jumped from the chair and almost slipped upon one of the puddles on the floor.
Holding her umbrella, she headed for the door. Her footsteps were the only one echoing the place.
“Neha? Did you hear me? Let’s go home.” Like what Neha did before, Sachen called out her friend countless times, but no response came through. She then shifted herself, clanging the tip of the umbrella against the ground. Neha’s face was cementing itself through a glass pane.
“Neha, what are you doing? Staring at the window? What could be there?” Sachen marched to the window on the opposite side of the room. Neha’s eyes were scanning the environment outside. The silence from her began to bother Sachen. What was she looking at? Was there something interesting, or rather peculiar, in the rainy weather? In light of a lack of answers, Sachen shrugged.
Along with her friend, Sachen zipped her lips. She wiped the fog off the window and inspected the place across the street of the school.
There was a blacksmith’s workshop, nothing seemed to be out of place, albeit nobody being there. Sachen scratched her head, she continued to look. Squinting and focusing on the buildings next to it, a bright light manifested from one of the roofs. The light expanded, it sizzled the incoming rain. It seemed to be a mirage, judging from the bleakness of things. But smoke then emerged. From there, heat emanated and burned the pair’s faces, causing their skin to wrinkle. In spite of that, it sparked their curiosity; they pushed their faces against the glass.
The window shook. The next thing they knew it, screams and yells scratched their eardrums, causing them to wince. It then started to occur everywhere in the village. From children to adults, they boiled their voices and agonized in the setting fury. Tides of gallops and gunfire soon invaded the place, and sank everything into chaos. Bullets barraging, gallops growing louder than the screams, it left the two girls in fright. More to that, the light that came from the row of buildings revealed itself as a hellish inferno. It cooked the roofs and doors, its brightness monopolized the grayness of the sky. The whips of the fire lashed nonstop, as though it was punishing the village for the stagnation of their souls. Wherever it had came from before, there was no use to stopping it. One by one, it charred the buildings. People on the street cried. In discomfort, Neha and Sachen held each other, they were unsure of what was happening.
“W-what is this?!” Neha cowered upon Sachen’s chest.
“I don’t know! But it seems that the village in trouble!” Sachen gazed out the window again, only to find more of the chaos.
Along the streets, a large group of soldiers was marching, with their rifles pointing at anything that crawl even a single inch. At the front of the formation, a trooper held a green flag, the same sight that the girls had encountered not too long ago. They noticed also, the emblems on the soldiers’ armor. No words they could express, they watched the soldiers unleashing hell. The battalion stopped before the villagers.
Their eyes were kindling. Without a single drop of mercy, the officer with the belly and mustache ordered his men to fire; they shot the villagers. The bullets ripped their flesh, and in an instant, they dropped dead like flies. The unit continuing to move, they bulldozed more of the people, their hollers gave way to an unstoppable terror. In the village center, they clashed against the Holy Army. Though outnumbered, they made momentum. An abrupt attack like this dared to disturb the peace of the village. Of what the people once considered themselves safe from anything, such a notion became broken. Now they were in a great deal of trouble, more than anything they had expected.
Sachen darted to the door. “Oh, it’s them! Goodness, I didn’t expect them to show up now!”
“We should have reported it!” Neha said. “W-we should have… I can’t believe this!”
“Don’t worry Neha, it’s not our fault! Besides, the people won’t believe us anyway, they still think of us as innocent fools. But let’s get out of here, before the enemies find us! Come on, there’s no time to look! We have got to go!”
“Y-yes! We must!”
Together, they returned to the hallways. Neha heaved, while Sachen was panting. Going to the back doors, where it led to the stables, they encountered a wooden plank with a lock blocking their access to freedom. Sachen shimmied her hands on one side of the plank. Neha went to the other side and helped her friend. They tried to lift it, but even with double the strength, the wood remained as it was. It strained their muscles. Sachen then used her fingernail and undertook the task of picking the lock. Her nail burying deep inside, it bended a little when she twisted her finger clockwise. Paining her, Sachen retracted.
Time was running out. They could go anywhere in school, from the desks of their classroom, the doors of the storage room, or the upper floors; even so, it was better to get out. Thus they attempted to take the plank away again; but they managed to move only a tiny bit of it. Their muscles ached, their chests contracted.
It then occurred. The girls heard clamors from outside the school.
They cowered against the walls, held each other’s hands, and let their eyes shrink. The front doors collapsed. Coming in were a detachment of soldiers – bloodlust soaked their pupils. Waving their rifles in the air, the foes giggled when seeing the two helpless girls. Like monkeys, they hooted and scraped their armpits; with the lead of the overweight officer, the troopers maimed everything in sights with their axes and hammers. The tiles, the windows, the doors, the table, and the stairs, they smashed them into chunks. It gave nothing but tremors for the girls. In a fleeting moment, the pair considered bowing and surrendering to the enemies in order to have them spare their lives. But was it possible to act upon such a consideration? The foes were closing in and destroying everything. From the start, they had no qualms in letting the villagers live, blood stained their armor and faces. This circumstance shredded the possibility of doing so. What could they do?
The enemies then halted. They targeted at the two girls. The officer laughed, he was about to break in tears. In his language, he called his men to withdraw their arms. Looking back and wagging his hands, he summoned a muscular, beefy soldier. The man came forth, he cracked a smile and drooled. His pupils flared. He wielded his axe from the right side of his hip; Neha curled to Sachen’s side and wobbled in place.
What could they do at this point? Pleading for a miracle was ludicrous, there was no way for the gods to help them; it seemed that they were taking this in apathy. Could they run away, when they were facing a bunch of savages? Limited options came with little hope. They could only pray with their delicate hands.
Flames coating his face, the officer commanded the muscleman to finish the task. The man guffawed, he choked on his spit. He twirled his axe, stomped on the broken tiles, and licked his lips. It looked like he was willing to do something more heinous later on.
Holding his smile, the muscleman conducted his strike. He whipped his axe downwards. He cut the air in half, creating a blasting gale. Out of instinct, Sachen seized Neha and rolled to the side. They tumbled to the walls, and hit their heads and flinched. As they emerged out of the cocoon of their fear, the soldier chopped his weapon onto the plank and lock. At once, he severed the obstacle in one try. The split wood clunked, and the lock dinged upon landing to the floor. The girls set their eyes on the door, feeling a little relief that they were not the ones having their heads crack in half. The officer scolded the muscleman for doing a poor job, and his comrades began to taunt him.
“Quick Neha! Let’s get a move on!”
“All right!” The pair blitzed away. They headed outside, and although rain was still occurring, Sachen left her umbrella closed. The enemies then stormed out of the school, and crept close.
Neha couldn’t calm her heart. It was beginning to hurt her. “W-where shall we go?”
“For now, let us make an escape! To where?”
Confused, they glanced at the stables. Inside, the animals squealed and cried for their lives. The horses, goats, pigs, and chickens were bashing their heads against the fences and burying themselves in their haystacks. As it happened, Sachen wanted to save them, but there was a huge risk. Liberating the animals would allow the soldiers to have enough time to strike back. Of course, she was confident that she could do it in one go. But Neha stopped her. From that, Sachen decided to abandon the suggestion. She whimpered when hearing more of the animals’ agony. She wished that they were going to be all right.
“We need to go to the school gates, and break away!” Sachen said.
The two passing the flagpole area, the torrent began to clog up the ground. They then trudged as if a river had formed among them. Soon they arrived at the gates, with the detachment following behind them.
They roared their voices and beat their chest, at the same time they fired their rifles upon the air.
“Yes! We’re finally here! Now we can get out of this area!” Sachen pumped her fists. The pair jostled their steps to the street, sweating and their hearts flapping faster than a butterfly’s wings. Once they were out, Sachen cheered and twirled her dress; it was the wrong occasion to do such a thing. The detachment was still here.
Neha and Sachen skipped to the other side of the street, and avoided the inferno that was furnacing the buildings. They went right and took a sharp turn to a new area – they stumbled upon a mess. There, the rubble and dust from the fallen structures of homes and businesses pulverized the villagers’ bodies into a pulp. Their blood covered the cobblestone and sidewalks. It became to the point where the corpses were unrecognizable, and it packed a punch upon the girls’ stomachs. They wanted to vomit. As so, the torrent intensified, and drenched the debris, making it difficult to navigate through the ruins. Nothing seemed to keep their hopes up. The discord throughout the village, let alone their area, brought undeniable dread. If they had sufficient strength, then the girls might have fought against the enemies alone. Reality showed otherwise.
It was then that the rainfall was ebbing, the dark clouds were about to turn white. Behind, a gunshot fractured their ears. The girls turned to the rear. The muscleman showed up again. His muscles enlarged the veins along his skin, and his face was crimson. Licking his lips again, he moved his fingers and fondled the air.
“N-no! It’s him again!” Neha stumbled on her steps, and she fell to Sachen’s arms. “P-please, don’t kill us!” The man cackled.
Going in front of Neha, Sachen mobilized a bit of courage, or what she had left of it. She brought out her umbrella, and swung it side to side as to intimidate the enemy. She then whacked it to the soil, and even drew a circle around her in order to make some magic. Protecting her friend was the only option she could come up with, if it meant that Sachen needed to resort to this.
“You fiend! Stay away from us! Shoo, shoo!” The man laughed his guts off until he ran out of breath. Summoning his firearm, he scowled through his iron sight. Sachen dropped her umbrella, and crossed her arms, her face contorted. She was defenseless, the courage that she had mustered vanished. Defeat, or worse, death, was sweeping her feet away. Her heart dropped. Sweat overmastered her face more than the rainfall. Only the heavens knew what would happen this time.
The brutality of the rain was gone. The man, who was laughing the whole time, fell silent. His firearm plummeted to the ground, and the clinks of his armor waned. A burst of gunshot from the rear banged.
Sachen looked up – she let out a huge gasp. A single bullet lodged itself in the enemy’s head. Blood surging, eyes rolling backwards, lips puckering, it bathed the man into his own demise. For a while he stood still. Then, his body thudded on the sidewalk.
Sachen blinked rapidly. Her skin became cold. “W-what… What had just happened?”
Neha sniffled. “Somebody had killed him. But who?” She glanced about the area, she then turned her attention to the corner that led back to the scorching buildings. There, an individual was pointing his rifle towards the fallen foe. He nodded, and Neha shuddered from his presence. Her voice trotted. She could have known that it was him; but for him to show up out of all these times was a miracle, more so a stroke of luck. She wanted to bless the person if she could, but the time now was not right.
“W-wah! I-Is that you?”
The soldier gave a thumbs up. “Yes Neha, it’s me.”
Neha shook her head. “Sachen, look! It’s Tulisen!”
“Who? Where? Over there?” Sachen then saw him. In armor and with the silver chevron, Tulisen straddled to their vicinity.
“Hey… so it was you who killed this man? How brave of you.”
“Indeed. If I were late, then this guy would have ended your lives.”
Tulisen withdrew his gun, and he crouched to the girls’ height. Showing sympathetic eyes, he raised his voice. “Anyways! What are you doing here, in the middle of the dang streets? You know that you will get sick if you keep staying here in the rain! You should have gone home by now! What is the meaning of this? Naughty girls you are, I ought to punish you!”
“Um… we were at school, and Sachen forgot her umbrella. She found it, but then we put ourselves in danger…”
Not more than a second later, Neha sobbed. Tears blinded her. “We just wanted to go home! But the bad guys went to the school, and tried to kill us! I couldn’t do anything, and Sachen tried to save me! I-I just can’t…”
Neha plunged to Tulisen’s arms; Sachen followed suit, her eyes watered. They had endured one of the worst times of their lives, and for the heavens to offer an event like this, it was cruel and inhumane. But as such, the world spared nothing of them but their fear, and it was beginning to anguish them.
“Don’t worry anymore,” Tulisen said. “My men are currently winning and beating up the enemies. I will take you guys home, okay?”
Carrying them in their arms, the girls slumbered from their endless bawling. Tulisen accompanied them among the disappearing rain; he found himself walking through piles of bodies, friends and foes alike. A few of his comrades died from the fight. How could a band of people from the forest be able to create such devastation? The sight saddened him. He cast his eyes towards the sky, and relished the blue color canvasing over the clouds. From here on, the ordeal and troubles of the girls would not end. Darkness lingered.