Written by Terrestris Veritas
So, the four of us were here in Quai’s room up in the attic. I was curled up by the fire, watching the hot element swirl endlessly, and Quai was crouched on the window ledge staring up at the black clouds. Jose and Miranda were eating each other’s faces off on the sofa; nothing out of the ordinary. There was a storm raging outside, lightning scorching various trees in the wood, while thunder signified their knell. The trees were given a blessing burial from the pounding rain.
In all honesty, it was the first storm for a while. I think it was Quai’s first time seeing a storm – the way the slight teen was gazing at the dark fluffiness was endearing. Poor kid hadn’t experienced much in his life. It was nice to see him fascinated by something other than the river.
A fork of lightning slammed into the ground in front of the window, accompanied by thunder. I was startled out of my trance by Quai’s roar.
I shook myself awake. “Quai, get away from the window. You’re only gonna attract the thunder.”
Quai’s head snapped around to look at me. He jumped down from the ledge and on all fours bounded over to the armchair, lifted me out of it and sat me on his lap, all in one fluid movement.
He buried his head into my hair. “Quai saw a stranger outside…” He murmured, “A stranger covered in red…”
I frowned. “Are you sure Quai? Who’d want to be outside in that weather?” It really was terrible out there. These remote lands always have extreme weather conditions.
Quai nodded. “Stanger looked at Quai…”
Pushing myself up, I went over to the window and looked outside. All I could see were the silhouettes of trees.
Quai was by my side. “There…” He pointed.
Lightning flashed and suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere. His face was covered and he was wearing a hunting jacket, which was stained heavily with blood.
“See…” Quai said. “Covered in red…”
I turned to look at Quai but he wasn’t there.
“Stanger has Quai’s fireworks!” Quai roared on my other side, giving me a heart attack. Without warning, he opened the window and leaped outside. “Those are Quai’s fireworks!” I heard him shout.
Cursing the situation I ran out the door and downstairs to the front hall, grabbed my sword and bolted out the front door. It was deathly dark, no light anywhere. My hair was already soaked from the rain. The wind was so strong it almost bowled me over.
On a hunch I ran north, listening out for Quai’s shouts. The trees were packed so densely together that getting past them was very tight. I knew most of the pathways through them but given the lack of light and the influence of the elements, my knowledge was useless. Some trees had even fallen down, making it even tougher to navigate.
“Darn wind!” I muttered. My hair kept getting blown into my face and sticking over my eyes. “To heck with this!”
Concentrating I drew upon my power and set my sword alight. I could see about three feet in front of me now. Fabulous.
Suddenly I heard Quai shouting ahead of me. Rushing forward, I came into a clearing. On the higher branches of the trees, lassos hung down, each one occupied by a corpse. Even from here, it was easy to see they hadn’t been killed from being hanged, but from something else. Looking down I saw the man – the stranger.
“You can’t hide from me you crazy freak!” He yelled to the trees. Presumably Quai had climbed a tree.
The man met my gaze. “Ah, a substitute. You’ll do!”
Walking forward he drew a long hunting knife and brandished it. I didn’t move.
When he was two feet away, a shape rushed between us and suddenly the man was on the ground, his leg gashed in a row of three slits.
Quai appeared beside me, smiling. “Quai’s firework is safe.” His claws were out and the left one was bloody, noticing this, he cleaned it. “Red stains are bad…”
The man grunted something, kneeling heavily on one knee. Strolling forward I kicked him upwards in the forehead, hard, so hard in fact, he flew back into the middle of the clearing.
“…I didn’t kick him that hard did I?” I spluttered.
The man jumped up and floated in mid air laughing. “Silly children. I am Nature! You can’t defeat me!”
Quai laughed loudly.
The man pointed at him and Quai flew backwards to slam into a tree.
“Quai!” I screamed. I whipped my gaze back to the man, my expression promising bloodshed.
“Hahaha!” He laughed even more. “I am two elements and you one. What chance do you have? I’m the ultimate force! I shall rule al-“
I never heard the end of the speech. Quai had grabbed me and flung me backwards. An instant later, a twin fork of lightning flashed down and sliced straight through the floating man. All that remained of him were two alight slabs of flesh, quickly extinguished by the rain.
Quai wrapped his arms around my waist. “People shouldn’t lie. Strangers lie. And liars, liars die. People always think they can lie to Quai, but Quai lives while they die.”
Turning around I put an arm around his shoulders. “Come on Quai,” I said, “let’s get home.”