Fyonn didn’t have much time to think, the crow spread its large black wings and with a few heavy beats it took off. Through the smoke that was quickly filling the corridor Fyonn could see the wild smile of the evil little pixie on the back of the crow. It was coming for her, a mass of dark feathers and vicious talons. She took off into one of the classrooms, hoping to lose the crow in the tangle of chair and table legs, the shrill sound of Amanita’s laughter followed. A horrid name for a horrid pixie. This was all so much simpler when it was just her and her books. Darting low between the chair legs, zigging and zagging Fyonn came out at the far end of the table. She risked a glance behind to see if the crow was following.
“Looking for us?” came the voice. Snapping her head back around Fyonn barely managed to avoid the sharp claws of the crow. She tucked into a dive that took her close to the floor and headed for the door. Behind her she could hear shrieking laughter and the rhythmic beating of wings drawing closer. Racing through the open door, her heart pounding in her chest, Fyonn made it to the corridor. The smoke was now so thick it was hard to see. The fire was beginning to creep up the wall and along the ceiling, consuming everything in its path. The air was hot and Fyonn found it difficult to catch her breath. The smoke burned as she breathed in. She had to get back to the library and out of the school, there was nothing she could do against the rising flames, not alone. She had failed. Glancing about she found what she was looking for just beyond the swirling smoke. A small red square on the wall, a fire alarm. Once it was broken the humans would come and deal with the fire, but she would have to be far away from there before they arrived. Buzzing into action she made for the alarm as fast as she could, the heat and the smoke causing her eyes to tear up. She covered her mouth to keep her from inhaling any more smoke. Fyonn reached for the alarm when a huge black talon encircled her and pulled her back into the smoke, it squeezed what little breath she had left from her. With only one arm free she did the only thing she could and bit down hard on the crow’s foot. The bird squawked loudly and threw her to the floor below. Fyonn tumbled but managed to keep her wings beating and made quickly for the library and the air vent that was her way out.
“You’ll pay for that you stupid little girl,” Amanita called behind her. Fyonn tried to block it all out, the fire, the heat, the crow. She just had to get out. Flying as fast as she could she found the enormous bookshelves that marked the school library and began to wind her way up them. She began pulling out books at random and letting them fall behind her, if she was lucky she would be able to squash that wicked little pixie. She moved up quickly, the vent was just on the ceiling between two bookcases. She pulled loose a dictionary, something Squigg could use very much, but instead of falling there was a dull thud. On the other side of the book was a lance buried deep into the books cover, on the end of the lance was a wild looking pixie with dark hair, and under her was a vicious looking crow. Amanita smiled nastily at Fyonn and Fyonn smiled back. With a lazy motion she took her hand off the book. It took the wicked looking pixie a moment to realise what was happening. The book fell to the floor, the lance still stuck, taking her and her crow with it. Fyonn gave them a little wave before darting up into the vent.
Outside the night was cold and the rain was coming down heavily. Fyonn breathed in several deep, cool breaths and steadied her shaking wings. Her cardigan was a little singed but all in all she had made it out in once piece. She looked around to see smoke coming from the other rooftop vents. The books, all the book and the children’s things, their schoolwork and pictures, all ruined because of one evil little pixie. Ahead of her she could see her tree, safety. There was a rattling behind her, a clattering of sharp talons on metal. Fyonns’ stomach dropped, it wasn’t possible. She flew into the air and away from the vent as the crow and its rider burst free, Amanitas’ hair was wild and smoking with, the crow was cawing angrily as it shook embers from its wings.
“I am going to feed you to Corvix bit by bit,” she screamed. Fyonn didn’t answer and darted for her tree, behind her the crows claws snatched at her wings. Fyonn could feel the bird behind her, the beat of its wings buffeting her in flight, her aching wings began to falter. Putting everything she had into one last burst of speed, her wings finally gave out, she found herself falling. Dipping in the air Fyonn managed to glide the rest of the way, she made it to the tree.
It was dark inside, the hole in the tree was now her only source of light, her only way out. She couldn’t see either of her pursuers, just the rain beating down outside. Fyonn crept forward, the hole was large enough for a small owl, but the crow outside was huge, it would never be able to squeeze itself inside. At least Fyonn certainly hoped so. Keeping herself pressed to the inner wall of the tree she moved around and risked a glance out. A great black wing knocked her backwards and Amanita landed inside. Her wild hair was soaked and stuck to her face, she held a nasty looking dagger in one hand. Corvix clawed at the edge of the entrance but wasn’t able to get its massive body inside.
“You could have just left, skulked away with the scruffy looking tramp and his hedgepig,” she snarled at Fyonn.
“Road worn, the term is road worn, in a dashing yet disheveled way,” Squigg said coming from the back of the tree pointing a strange looking device at the intruder, “honestly, why does everyone always assume the worst of me?” Amanitas’ eyes went from Fyonn, to Squigg, who had been waiting in the tree according to plan. Fyonn scrambled to her feet while her foe was distracted.
“What, you didn’t really fall for that fake argument did you?” she smiled, she had to admit they had made the fight in the corridor look quite convincing, Sprocket especially had acted his spikes off. Amanita gritted her teeth and waved her dagger.
“It doesn’t matter how many of you there are, you are no match for me!” she yelled.
“Well you see this here,” Squigg said hefting his invention, “this is a great equaliser.” He brought up the device to his shoulder, it looked like a clothes peg taped to a pencil with an elastic band and a net. “This here is the patented Net-launcher 3000, by Squigg Inventions.” He stepped forward past Fyonn, the net-launcher aimed at Amanita.
“We’re giving you the chance to leave,” Fyonn said. Squigg didn’t take his eyes off the wicked pixie or the crow perched on the edge of the hole.
“We are?” he asked. Fyonn smiled a little, someone really needed to teach Squigg how to deal with people.
“We are. What can she do now, she has no crew, her bird is useless here and they failed to split us up,” Fyonn looked Amanita in the eyes, “she is just an evil little sprite with no friends, all the loot in the world can’t make up for that.” Amanita laughed, a high cackle that was unpleasant to the ear.
“Friends, is that what you think is worth anything in this world. You really are just a silly little girl. Corvix!” she screamed. Fyonn watched her step to the side as the crow batted a wing inside sending Squigg sprawling, the net-launcher skidded across the floor. She tucked her wings into a quick roll and scooped up the launcher and fired before she realised she had acted. The crow squawked and took off, the net billowed out entangling Amanita, she stepped back to try to unfurl her wings but couldn’t, and then she was gone.
Fyonn and Squigg rushed to the edge and looked down, at the base of the tree a crow gathering up a netted form. It bundled it into its talons and quickly took off into the night. Below Sprocket ambled into view shaking a his spines at the retreating crow, Fyonn took a long breath. Next to her Squigg began to laugh, a deep bellied laugh of pure joy. She was about to scold him for laughing at such a serious situation but found herself smiling with him, and then laughing herself, the tension lifting from her wings.
“Well at least the net-launcher works,” she smiled. Squigg nodded and picked up the empty launcher.
“It did,” he said looking it over, “not a bad idea, though it could use a couple of tweaks,” he set it aside and looked at her, “I know you missed the bird but you’re not a bad shot lass.” Fyonn didn’t even try to correct him, she didn’t have the energy left.
“I was worried you wouldn’t be here, that you really might have left,” It was a horrible thought, she had asked Squigg to trust her, to follow her plan. She would lead the crow and Amanita away to give him time to build the net-launcher.
“It was a dangerous plan, but you were the one taking the risk, mighty brave of you Fyonn,” he stood and looked out at the School, small flames could be seen drifting from the roof. Along the road came flashing blue lights and large red trucks. “look,” Squigg said to her excitedly, “fire engines!”
“Really!” she sighed at him, “you don’t know what a toilet or a kettle is but you know about fire engines!” She wasn’t sure if he was doing it on purpose just to tease her.
“Everyone knows fire engines, fire engines are fantastic they have all these really cool tools and hoses and…” but she wasn’t listening. They might have driven off the band of miscreants, but it had cost them the school.
“My home,” she said, “what am I going to do now?” She looked across at Squigg, the thief who didn’t steal, who’s crazy invention had helped her fight off the invaders. He looked at her with a serious expression.
“I’ll tell you something my Gram told me before I left to go wandering. Home isn’t a place, she said to me, it’s the people you’re with. Right wise old gal my Grams is.” He nudged her with a shoulder, “Me and Sprocket are going to be looking for a new place. You could come with us if you want to.” There was something there in his eyes, honesty or hope, but it was quickly lost in the mischief and he smiled widely. “Besides, we might need someone to keep us in line, especially Sprocket, that hedgepig gets into all kinds of trouble,” he laughed. It was a contagious sound and she couldn’t help but laugh along with him.
“I guess I could share the road with you, but if we find a new place, let’s make sure it has a door.”