Time struggled to open his eyes, squinting up at the painfully bright blue sky.
“Oh thank goodness you’re awake.” Time heard Swampy say.
There was a second of confusion before everything came flooding back. Time scrambled to his feet. “What just happened?” He demanded.
“Well there was an explosion but then it was gone and you suddenly passed out and I’m pretty sure you’re th-” Darina began.
“How long was I out?” Time interrupted.
“Only a few minutes, jeez, what’s got you so worked up?” Swampy said, crossing her arms.
“No time to explain but we have to find Nightwolf before it’s too late.” Time said. He rushed out of the alley and began running towards the school.
“Whoa, hold on, what’s too late is Nightwolf in danger?” Swampy asked. “Am I don’t to need to punch someone?”
“Lots of danger.” Time said. “We need to get to her before the CSES people do.”
“...oh.” Swampy said, her eyes widening in realization. “Hold on how do you know this?”
Time sped around a corner to avoid the CSES guy that had escorted them to the building before. “I’ll explain later.”
“Do you know how crazy you sound right now?” Darina asked from where she was flying behind them. “Because you’re sounding very crazy.”
“Once again, I’ll exp-” Time stopped as he nearly ran into someone as he burst from the alley. What luck!
The man he’d nearly run into was a CSES guy, and with him was Nightwolf. “Watch it.” The man growled.
“Sorry.” Time said.
“Nightwolf!” Swampy exclaimed and hugged her friend. “Are you okay? The explosion didn’t hurt you right?”
“...no.” Nightwolf muttered. She had a faint relieved smile on her face. “I’m fine.”
“Hey.” The CSES guy said. “You two come with us.” He pointed to Time and Swampy. “You can go back to whatever stupid things you kids you.” He said to Darina.
Darina narrowed her eyes. It seemed that she too had figured out what Time meant. She crossed her arms defiantly. “No.” She said. “I don’t think I will. In fact, none of us are going to follow your orders, you murdering psycho.” Nightwolf’s eyes widened in horror while Swampy and Time grinned.
“Excuse me?” The man growled. “You don’t have the authority to defy me.” He drew his sword. “There is a cursed Sapien running around and it is my job to find them. I have permission to subdue anyone who interferes with that job.”
“G-guys, what are you doing?” Nightwolf squeaked.
Darina darted forward and punched the man in the jaw. He stumbled back and swung his sword at Darina, which she jumped over. She kicked him hard in the stomach and wrestled his sword out of his grip before hitting him hard in the head with the flat of the blade to knock him out.
“Mkay, now we really need to get out of town.” Darina said. “Which I am totally okay with doing.” She ignored the horrified looks the other people on the street were giving her. The terrified whispers too.
“What’s going on?” Nightwolf asked. “Why’d you guys attack him?”
“From what I’ve been able to figure out, no thanks to Time, you are the one who caused the explosion, so we’re getting you out of here. Darina and I had already discussed what we would do if we found the Sapien who caused the explosion before Time went to go find you and we agreed to try and get them out. So that’s what we’re going to do” Swampy explained.
“I time travelled. Accidentally.” Time said. “Nightwolf got shot with an arrow and Swampy can turn into a husky apparently. I tried to help and ended up back in time.”
“W-what?!” Swampy exclaimed in surprise. “I turned into a husky? In front of yo- I mean, I can turn into a husky?”
“Did...Did I die?” Nightwolf managed.
“I’m not sure.” Time said.
“What happened to me?” Darina asked.
“You went to school.”
“Darn, the future really does suck.”
They all managed a laugh at that.
“Okay, we should get going.” Swampy said. “I don’t like the looks everyone is giving us.”
“Agreed.” Nightwolf said. “Um, you said something about getting out of town...how are we going to do that?”
“Uh…” Swampy started.
“I know.” A soft voice offered. They all whirled around to see a black-haired fairy.
“Who are you?” Time asked.
“Um, Ruby.” The fairy said. “And I know a way out.”
“Well, then can you show us?” Swampy demanded.
“Y-yeah.” Ruby said.
“Lead the way then.” Darina said.
Ruby nodded awkwardly and began to walk.
After a few minutes the group arrived at the mini forest next to the giant wall that surrounded Dispa. It was grown specifically so they could create wood for houses and other useful things without having to risk opening the main gates. It was also off limits.
Ruby swung open the gate that blocked it off from the rest of town. “The lock sucks.” She explained. She had a quiet voice and Time had to pay close attention to hear what she was saying. “And they haven’t replaced it in years, so I sneak in here a lot. I found an opening in the wall a few days ago and was figuring out how to report it without admitting to sneaking in here when I overheard you guys, and well... I was thinking if you guys snuck out through here, they would also discover it, plus you wouldn’t die...so win-win. Well, unless you betray all Dispa’s secrets, but you won’t do that, right?”
“Of course not.” Darina said. “We’ve still got our families here. We can’t betray them.” Ruby looked down at the dirt at Darina’s words.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about the continent being better than death.” A voice once again interrupted. This one, again, came from a fairy, though this one had brown hair with blonde streaks. “Trust me, you want to stay here.” The girl continued.
“No, we don’t.” Darina said. “At least in the continent we have a chance of survival. They’ll lock me up to rot for assaulting that CSES jerk and they’ll kill my friends!”
“Well actually Swampy might surv-” Nightwolf began.
“Time said she turned into a husky in the future, so either she’s also a cursed Sapien, or she’s supposed to be extinct. Either way, everyone’s going to die except for me, which is something that I am not okay with.” Darina’s voice wavered a bit at the end.
“On the continent, you never know who you can trust. You never know when someone might attack you.” The girl stared Darina straight in the eye. “It’s especially dangerous for fairies. Someone tried to steal my dad’s wings once. They nearly ripped them right off his back.”
“No matter how much you try to scare us, we’re going.” Swampy said.
“You can come with us though!” Nightwolf offered.
The girl seemed to be considering. “Sorry, but it’s safe here. And I can’t just abandon my sister.” She said after a minute.
“I could take care of your sister.” Ruby offered.
“Still no.” The girl said. “I’ll keep watch so Ruby doesn’t get caught though.”
Ruby gave the girl a grateful smile before leading Time and his friends through the mini forest. When they reached the wall, they discovered that it was covered in grapevines, despite the fact that Time had never even heard of anyone who had been able to get a taste of one since coming to Dispa.
Ruby peeled back a particularly thick area to reveal a hole not much bigger than themselves. There was a boulder blocking the other side, though from the light filtering though it was probably possible to squeeze past it. “I’m probably going to have to go now, just in case.” She said. “And uh, good luck on the continent.”
They all said their thanks before squeezing through the opening. Time was the last one out.
Beyond the wall of Dispa, there was a grass field, pocket marked with holes where cannonballs had struck the ground and areas where the grass was much thicker and greener where fires had started. Beyond that, was the beginnings of a forest.
They heard a grumble behind them and whirled around to see that Luana was wriggling her way from out behind the boulder.
“I thought you weren’t going to come.” Time said.
“A guard took me by surprise. She didn’t see Ruby, but she definitely saw me. I knocked her out and stole her weapons.” Luana said and held up a bow with a few colorful designs painted on it. “Actually, I stole back my weapon, plus a sword for whoever wants it.”
“I want it!” Nightwolf said.
“No, that’s too dangerous.” Swampy said. “I’ll take the sword.”
Nightwolf gave her a disappointed look.
Time ignored them, choosing to gaze out at the field of grass.
I wonder what the rest of Altraea will be like. He thought.