LadyStar: Escape from Widow Island, Part Three
In this new multi-part serialized fiction story for The Mary Sue, LadyStar: Escape from Widow’s Island tells the story of Jessica and her team of fighters pitted against their teacher during the last phase of their training as Ajan Warriors. Check out more LadyStar books here. Click here for Part One and Part Two.
“The mind that is without fear is a weapon with a diamond’s edge.”
Near The Shroud
“Talk to me, Professor.”
Ranko Whelan stood alone in the center of a gloomy road. Before her, light reflected from the writhing bars of an ominous looking gilded metal gate.
A viscous black fluid dripped from the structure.
The Warrior of the Storms brandished Thundercaller, her mighty two-handed War-Hammer. She wore formidable-looking plate armor and was a comforting presence for the more lightly protected warriors anxiously watching the gate from a safe distance behind her. Her reddish ponytail hung down from under her helmet.
Talitha Casey huddled with Cici next to the Chronicler’s Lantern. It was the only reliable source of light. Legend had it sunlight on Widow Island was rare, and the light that did get through caused people to see things that weren’t there.
“It’s the Hagog Gate. The substance is–” Talitha looked more closely at her quire, her expression one of disbelief. “The substance is the blood of the cowards buried here.”
The other girls fidgeted uncomfortably. It was one thing to be a powerful fighter and win battles with magical weapons. It was another to have to be around bleeding metal. All four of them gripped their weapons more tightly.
“If this is the Lockvern gate, the Shroud must be nearby,” Shannon added.
“That’s it,” Alanna said. Pointing beyond a stand of dead trees along the far side of the road. A shadowy tower-like structure loomed in the distance.
“We have to light the beacon first,” Jessica said. “That’s how we beat the ghosts.”
“Please don’t talk about ghosts,” Shannon said nervously.
“What about that, Professor? If we light that thing, are we good?”
“The Shroud’s Beacon will make the ghosts corporeal so we can fight them, but we have to light it in both our dimension and in the astral dimension at the same time,” Talitha replied.
“And?” Alanna asked.
“And if a non-corporeal being touches any of us while we’re in astral form, it will sever our connection to this dimension. We’ll be carried off by the ghosts and lost forever.”
“So no pressure or anything,” Ranko quipped with a wink. “I’ll go.”
“Ranko,” Jessica said, stepping forward to look her friend in the eye. “You can’t. We need you.”
The red-haired girl smiled. “You need everyone else first, Goofy Bird. I’m just armor and a big club. The rest of you guys have the important powers.”
“You know that’s not true. You protect us.”
“And that’s why I’m going first.” Ranko slapped Jessica on the shoulder and grinned. “I’m good. You think there’s a ghost walking who wants to try and carry me off? They’d rather be dipped in gravy and dropped into an alligator cage.”
Jessica tried to be courageous, but she was still worried.
“Alright, ladies. Last one back to the village buys the lemonade,” the Crimson Champion announced. She started towards the gate.
Movement caught Jessica’s eye at almost the same instant it caught Shannon’s. A dark object of some kind slithered out of the trees in a frightening instant and wrapped around Alanna’s arms and shoulders.
“Where! Where are they!?” Ranko shouted.
“Cici! Get back!” Talitha said with an uncharacteristic sharpness. The Forest Warrior reached over a shoulder and rotated her Shield down in front of them both, crouching for maximum protection. Cici ran behind Talitha and her shining wooden bulwark and readied her Lantern.
A tall darkly dressed humanoid of some kind emerged from the inky trees.
“Get behind me! Get behind me!” Ranko shouted to Jessica, turning on the now armed creature.
“Where’s the fight?!” the red-haired girl shouted, slamming the head of her War-Hammer into the ground. A shockwave of sonic energy exploded in all directions, coalescing into bright bluish-white bolts of lightning as it reached the trees.
“Someone said there was going to be a FIGHT!” The energy from Ranko’s Hammer surged back in her direction, flowing through the ground and into her metal-reinforced boots, causing her armor to brighten. “COME ON!!”
The humanoid leaped towards Ranko with a bloodcurdling scream.
Jessica backed away, drawing her Sword frantically and almost dropping it. Teko took flight and veered away from the gate, flapping his wings powerfully and trying to gain airspeed.
The Warrior of the Storms and the dark creature crashed into each other like jousting knights. The two crude-looking weapons slashed and banged against Ranko’s heavy ducimite pauldrons and bracers. A particularly savage swing caught her helmet at an angle and sounded like someone had dropped a metal brick on a tile floor.
Ranko recovered from the flurry of blows quickly. Her eyes narrowed before she charged right back, blasting the handle of her weapon directly into the creature’s shoulders and knocking it off balance.
Talitha glanced towards Alanna, who was struggling to get loose from the black net-like snare. Shannon had already vanished into the trees. Talitha knew it wouldn’t be long before she found a good vantage point from which to open fire with Blackwhisper.
During their training, the Ajan Warriors had learned well the strategy of anchoring any fight in an open area around the two girls with the most effective defensive powers: Talitha and Cici. Reina had repeatedly hammered home the danger of allowing an enemy to divide the team. She reminded them of the theory of the phalanx formation, and showed them how to use its principles in the ever-changing conditions of a real battle.
All six of the girls had faced the failure of being isolated and told by a suddenly appearing Vicereine they were “defeated and now probably being raised from the dead to attack their friends.” All six of the girls agreed, some more fiercely than others, they weren’t going to let that happen.
A second humanoid wielding a spear of some kind rushed out of the trees directly towards Alanna.
“Cici!” Talitha snapped.
The Warrior of Stone raised the Chronicler’s Lantern in the instant before the creature reached Alanna. All eight lenses cycled their colors once and a spiraling rainbow-like burst of brightness emerged in all directions. A glimmering translucent sphere appeared around Alanna for only a moment, but it was long enough to protect her from her onrushing enemy. The creature stopped just short and thrust the spear’s dull metal point into Cici’s Spectrum Deflect. The sphere crackled with magical energy and dimmed.
“This just won’t do,” Alanna muttered to herself. She closed her eyes and relaxed her body. A thin layer of ice appeared and solidified around her shoulders and upper body, covering the snare. A moment later the ice shattered, along with the net.
Jessica saw it first, but thought she must have been seeing some kind of illusion. Nothing that big could possibly move like that. Talitha and Cici’s faces paled as they stared up at it.
A black widow spider the size of a house skittered to the edge of the forest at an unsettling speed. An otherworldly hiss echoed across the desolate road as it lifted its red-marked abdomen high into the air and bared its poison soaked fangs.
All eight of its glowing eyes were focused on Jessica Halloran.
Prepare for battle and don’t miss next week’s chapter as the Greatest Fighting Team of Teenage Girls Ever Assembled continue their impossible quest to Escape from Widow Island!
W. Scott’s LadyStar series is celebrates its fifteenth year in 2015 with the release of a brand new collection of thrilling fantasy stories filled with romance, magical creatures and spectacular battles! Visit the Official LadyStar Bookstore and join the adventure!
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