Lolan was angry—angrier than he had been in a long time. It wasn't something he had a lot of experience with. It didn't make sense to be angry. It didn't help. Everything had happened to him and he had learned to deal—to roll with the punches. Getting upset about his situation never changed anything anyway. His parents were still dead. He had still lived with a cousin who hated him and an aunt and uncle that only kept him around by obligation. And even now, anger didn't erase all of the things that his cousin had been through. But this time, it could change their future.
The anger fed his magic. He could feel it. The fire ripped out of his palms—a manifestation of his feelings. He was angry at Wikith. He was angry that someone he had idolized was willing to murder parents and children based on who they loved or who they were related to. He was furious that the first time Brendell showed him any amount of love, Wikith stole him away. He seethed at the thought that Wikith was now aiding in slavery.
And it felt good. It felt powerful.
Lolan charged forward, screaming, guttural at the small vortex that held Wikith aloft. The Elven warrior was holding his own in a room full of warriors from other races. Lolan knew that Wikith out-matched them, despite their numbers. But it didn't matter. His anger drove him forward.
He fired blast after blast at Wikith as the Elven mage managed Marv in his rock suit, blasts of water, and counterattacks with storm magic. Each of Lolan's flame blasts licked the vortex, but Wikith was also powerful. A current of wind was placed to meet each flame, stopping them before they reached the Elf.
Brendell worked in tandem with Wikith now, watching his backside for additional attacks. And between the two of them, they were a hard group to penetrate.
But Lolan didn't have another option. He needed to stop them. He needed to free Brendell from the mind magic and put an end to the evil that was WIkith. He needed to break their facade. He needed to do it for Ashlynn. He needed to do it even for Tarnall. He needed to do it for himself. Brendell wasn't perfect, but he was family. And when it came down to it, Brendell was there for him in a way no one else had been in his life. Failing wasn't an option.
Lolan stopped, assessing the situation. He pulled out his bow and nocked an arrow. He fired it at Wikith, but the vortex redirected the arrow, sending it at Tallesia. It only missed her by an inch.
Ferek took the chance to charge Wikith, but Wikith was prepared for the attack. He amped up his vortex with wind and dust now spinning twice as fast. Ferek had trouble pushing through the storm to get to the Elf. Wikith dropped to the ground, keeping the vortex spinning around him, and kicked at Ferek's leg. He fell, and the winds did the rest of the work to slam Ferek into the wall of the chamber. Wikith followed up, flying after Ferek.
Lolan fired another arrow hoping that the distraction would provide an opening. No luck.
Garlar stepped in, trying to give Ferek an opening to escape. Blue emanated from his hand and a burst of water slammed Wikith, breaking through the vortex momentarily. Wikith adjusted the wind, and the water shot at the floor, making the stone slick.
Abigail launched a column of rock at the Elf and Tallesia tried to trip him with her own gusts of wind opposite the vortex in direction. But Wikith was always ready to use any change of environment. He ignored the incoming attacks and bent down, rolling out of the way. In the same action, he put a hand to the ground yellow lightning rippled into the wet floor. It traveled quickly, hitting the Saurians, then Abigail and Tallesia, and then Lolan.
It hurt and made him shake. He couldn't think, couldn't try and escape. It hurt and there was nothing he could do as he saw the others fall.
The lightning stopped, and Lolan tried to gain his bearings. He climbed to his feet and found Wikith standing over Ferek who had been the closest to him when he unleashed the lightning. Ferek looked up helplessly at the Elf. He lifted his club, trying to swing it at Wikith, but the lightning had left him weak.
Wikith put a hand on the Saurian's head.
"NOO!" screamed Lolan. He had read about this. It was how the Elves carried out executions—controlling the lightning well enough to conduct it through your own body into the core of your target. Wikith had taken to using as his signature finishing move in battle.
Wikith paid no attention to Lolan's scream. A lightning bolt, stronger than any the Elf had used in the fight so far, ripped down through Wikith's body and into Ferek. Ferek twitched and then fell, unmoving.
The anger returned to Lolan in full force. Fire was his only option. Lolan put the bow back and prepared. He wasn't sure it would work, but he needed to separate them to give his allies any kind of chance. He charged for Brendell who wasn't in a vortex of his own. Although, he did have his own form of protection.
Blue lightning flickered across Brendell's body. It was magic that was all too familiar. Lolan tackled Brendell and the two rolled past the bars of the cell, far enough away from Wikith that the two couldn't play off of each other.
With the hit, came the pain of the electricity. But Lolan had a leg up on the rest of the people fighting the Elves. He was half-Elf. More than that, he had endured their magic before. Brendell had practiced on him while teasing him as they grew up.
Lolan stood back up, as did Brendell. He couldn't let Brendell rejoin Wikith. They were too powerful together.
"You know me Brendell. If nothing else, you have to remember hating me. Remember how angry I made you. I'm half-Human, and it kills you."
Brendell glared at him. With a burst of rage, he yelled and sent a blue bolt at Lolan.
Lolan dodged, rolling in the space between the bars and the entrance to the room.
Good, thought Lolan. That's what I was hoping for.
"You can end this now, Brendell," said Lolan. "Are you actually better than me? It's time to prove it." They were words that Lolan never would have dared saying as they grew up. Lolan was always weaker. But now, he needed Brendell to take the bait and get away from the fight. It was one way that Lolan could help.
"Brendell," yelled Wikith. He was too occupied with the other warriors to say anymore.
Brendell stopped, glancing back at Wikith.
"He doesn't control you," said Lolan, knowing what kinds of things would provoke Brendell in normal circumstances. "He'd praise you for defeating me."
Brendell turned back to Lolan and turned his head downward. He charged.
Lolan ran as fast as he could for the door of the room. He tried to round the bend, but Brendell was too quick and hadn't been weakened by the fight. Brendell crashed into Lolan and tackled him off of the edge of the cliff.
Lolan plummeted toward the floor. He could only make out piles of rock in the dark cavern. It wasn't going to be a soft landing. He spun in the air and locked eyes with Brendell who was falling after him. The pink glow on his temples stood out in Lolan's mind and the anger came back to him. Someone had brainwashed one of the only people who ever cared about him. Wikith had taken him and gotten them into this mess. Lolan wouldn't let it end there. His face flushed as he spun again facing the floor.
Right before he slammed into it, Lolan screamed, and a blast of fire shot from his hands so hot furious that it could have burnt through a tree trunk in an instant. But it had a secondary effect too. The pressure of all of that fire pushed against his descent and even lifted him back up a few feet before it gave out. Lolan hit the hot charred floor, still alive.
A moment later he felt a gust of wind on his back, and then a boot. Lolan flipped around and shot a blast of fire straight up. Brendell stumbled back and Lolan climbed to his feet. The look on Brendell's face was something he had only seen on him once before: fear.
Lolan pushed through the anger. He was fuming, but he also couldn't hurt Brendell. He couldn't kill him. There was still hope. "You need to stop, Brendell," said Lolan with grit teeth. "I know you don't want to do this. Remember me. Remember how we got separated. Wikith took you. This isn't you."
Brendell didn't speak and instead screamed again. One after another, Brendell punched his arms forward with a bolt firing with each motion. Lolan stepped backward, trying to dodge. The first missed, as did the second. But the third struck him in the shoulder. He stumbled and began to seize up. The fourth bolt hit him in the chest and he toppled.
Brendell ran at Lolan, and Lolan reacted with another blast of fire. It shoved him backward. Lolan stood and fired again, causing Brendell to dive behind a pile of stone. There was silence.
Which way did he go? thought Lolan.
"Brendell, we can still fix this. You need to remember." They were difficult words to say. It was hard to direct his anger in the right direction, at the people who did this, the people who put them in this situation, and not at his cousin—his brother.
There was no response. No noise. Brendell was hiding.
Is he considering it? Or is this now a game of cat and mouse? Lolan had to believe the former. There was no way he would defeat Brendell. Brendell was too skilled a fighter. And now that he had a chance to learn from Wikith, he would be even more deadly. Lolan's only hope was that he was getting through to his cousin.
"Help us," said Lolan. "They brainwashed you. Wikith stole you from your family. Help us make things right." Lolan crept around the piles of rock looking for signs of Brendell. He couldn't hear anything from his cousin so he resorted to his abilities in hunting. He searched the floor for tracks or signs of movement. He found faint black footprints walking away from Lolan's ashy landing place.
Lolan slinked around the pile, hoping he could catch him off guard. Maybe he could grab him, and keep him safe until the brainwashing wore off. Maybe Brendell would fight off the magic if he just had one more chance to talk to Lolan.
Lolan rounded the bend, and the footprints stopped. He glanced around looking for a possible exit. Then a rock fell and he realized his error.
"This is what needs to be done," said Brendell from the top of the mound, firing bolts of electricity after Lolan before he even finished the sentence.
One hit Lolan in the leg. He limped as he ran, and the anger came back. Not at Brendell, but at the Gnome or Elf that was behind the brainwashing. He spent his whole life being attacked by his cousin, and as soon as they figured things out, as soon as Brendell chose to protect him, they had to go and brainwash Brendell into hurting him more.
The pain in Lolan's leg made it hard to run. A blast of wind hit his back and slammed him into another pile of rocks. Brendell jumped down to the floor and kicked Lolan in the ribs—the same ribs that he had broken not that long ago when he went out on a limb to save Kaia, another victim of this war.
So much anger.
Lolan fought back, throwing a fist at Brendell. But Lolan was already too week. Brendell caught the fist and shoved it back. Rocks fell down the mound, settling around Lolan as he stared up at his cousin—his brother.
"If you're going to do it, then do it already," said Lolan. He seethed as he spoke. "But at least make sure it's done well."
Lolan knew what he was asking. If Wikith had taught Brendell anything in the time he had spent with him, it would be the Elven execution.
Brendell chuckled as he looked down at Lolan. "If that's what you want," he said. He reached out a hand to grab Lolan and end his life.
But the anger was overflowing.
"I'm sorry," Lolan breathed the words as he grabbed Brendell's wrist. The flames blasted from his hands straight upward, engulfing Brendell's arm and blazing inches from his face. Lolan hated himself for doing it, but it was the only way.
When the flame stopped, Brendell's arm was a mangled slab of charred flesh. His face was blackened from the flame, and his eyebrows were burned clear off of his face.
Brendell's eyes dropped to meet Lolan's and then they rolled back into his head as he collapsed in shock.
Tears streamed down Lolan's face as he held his brother. He could feel the light rise and fall of Brendell's chest against his. He struggled to his feet and adjusted Brendell to rest draped over his shoulder.
There was a loud crack in the distance, and rocks started falling from the ceiling. Lolan ran, with his barely breathing brother in tow.