Keera’s eyes shot open. Jerking her head up, she winced at the stiffness in her neck. She froze in her massaging when she realized she hadn’t imagined the thump that woke her. It came again, a repetitive banging originating in the kitchen. Cautiously she stood up and grabbed her backpack--it was loaded with heavy textbooks and hopefully she could use it as a weapon against the intruder.
Moving quietly, she tiptoed towards the door separating the living room and kitchen—the sounds stopped. She reached out a hand to push back the swinging door, when a hand clamped down on her shoulder. With a strangled squeak she whirled, swinging her backpack as hard as she could. Josh ducked, with a curse, just in time to avoid being bludgeoned.
“Josh,” she said irritably. Another thud from the kitchen made them both look towards the door.
Josh grabbed Keera’s arm as she went to enter. “Wait,” he murmured, eying the door warily.
Keera closed her mouth on her protest, worried about the tone in Josh’s voice. She had never heard that hard edge there before. His eyes were fixed on the door and she felt sure he was trying to sense what lurked behind it. She felt her nervousness rise when he narrowed his gaze sharply and slowly moved back from the door, pulling Keera firmly with him.
She didn’t resist. “What is it?”
He shook his head and opened his mouth to respond, but at that moment the kitchen door shattered, wooden missiles flying at them.
Josh threw himself out of the way, dragging Keera with him. She dropped her backpack and landed on top of him, her elbow grinding into his abdomen. He winced, but ignored the discomfort as he quickly shoved Keera aside and rolled to his feet. They both stared at the three creatures standing in the kitchen doorway.
They were small, barely three feet tall. Their entire bodies looked liked they had been shaved from ice. Their legs were thin and long, their arms made of long, deadly looking icicles. Smaller icicles hung from the tips of their large ears and noses. They saw Keera and grinned malevolently, revealing tiny, sharp teeth.
Keera gaped dumfounded at them, even as her brain whirled into fast gear. She had seen these creatures before, what were they called? She scanned her archive of information of things she had read. She had it!
“Ice Elementals,” Josh whispered above her. Annoyed he had said it first, Keera thought about whacking him with her backpack after all, but then the first elemental charged.
Josh muttered a soft word and the ice elemental flew backwards, repelled by an invisible hand. Keera shivered at the sound of ice grinding together. She suddenly felt like she was the one made of ice when the realization screaming at her reasoning finally broke through. She could feel Josh’s magic. The velvety language had slid over her and she could still sense a heavy, dark pressure in the air. She looked at Josh sharply, but his gaze was on the creatures that were moving towards them again. They had spread out, coming at them in a triangle pattern.
Josh watched the creatures carefully. He could feel Keera’s concern and not surprisingly her curiosity as she watched the creatures and attempted to analyze this new awareness of Josh’s powers. Intrigued himself, he shoved it aside for later reflection.
He swore vehemently as one of the elementals launched itself at him, only to jerk away before his magic could blast it back. At the same instant he felt a sharp pain in his side and Keera gave a soft cry. He looked down at the large cut on his side. His cool eyes met those of the creature before him--now missing one of its arms. His remained unconcerned as he watched it grow back.
Keera leaped to her feet before he could stop her. Her movement threw the creatures into high gear. With no more hesitation they fired the deadly icicles straight at them. Gripping his bleeding side with one hand and grabbing Keera with the other he dashed for the couch. He and Keera ducked behind it, the thud of sharp objects hitting it, following them. Josh saw Keera flinch slightly as one of the tips of the icicles penetrated the couch by her ear.
Josh held his hand to his side and glanced around trying to figure out what to do. Ice Elementals, Ice Elementals, what destroyed them? The answer came to him and he mentally smacked himself. Of course, fire, his specialty. He set his jaw, the muscles in his legs tightening in preparation as he mentally visualized his plan. Stand, one blast of fire and then it would be all over. Hopefully. The thudding barrage suddenly stopped. Keera looked at him curiously but he just shrugged as a soft wintry sigh filtered through the room. With a small cry Keera grabbed him, dragging him away from the couch. He saw why as a sheet of ice spread over the couch and everything touching it.
A loud thump and the couch shattered as a torrent of icicles flew at them. He jumped to the side and Keera flung herself the other way. Instantly another volley of the sharp projectiles flew at them. Josh didn’t move, ready this time. He created a small wall of fire that melted the ice shards flying at his head. He smiled fiercely, until another attack instantly followed the first. Easily, he called forth another wave of flames.
The shards flew faster. He cursed silently, once again holding off the attack. They were keeping him busy so he couldn’t use his fire on them. He glanced quickly at where Keera scrunched down a few feet away from him. She looked at him and then at the next wave of icicles thoughtfully, reaching the same conclusion he did. He felt a slight twinge of concern at that telltale glint of silver in her eyes but a never-ending cascade of icicles distracted him.
Keera watched as Josh melted each wave of ice that flew their way. She had to do something; they couldn’t keep this up forever. She looked at her backpack that lay a few feet away from the now shattered couch. A thought came to her. It would give Josh the opening he needed, though he would probably be furious at her later. She eyed the icicles and tried to figure out their trajectory, she would get only one chance. Taking a deep breath she sprang forward before Josh could stop her.
In one fluid motion, she rolled, grabbed the pack, stood and flung it with all her might in the direction of the ice elementals. She heard a satisfying crunch as she crouched down again. The wall of ice shards ceased for a moment. Instantly, Josh stood protectively over her while a wave of his fire washed over the broken couch and the elementals. Keera heard their watery cry of dismay and then silence.