Her vision was blurry. Sapphire was breathing too fast, panicking.
She could hear the boys talking, but could only just make out the words.
"I'm going to look for whoever sent those creatures," Gustav said, his voice full of a cold anger.
"No," Sapphire muttered.
Gustav knelt down next to her. "It's alright Sapphire. I'll be fine. But you just need to slow your breathing, okay? Try to calm down. Think of calming memories."
But Sapphire was too scared. Her breathing didn't slow, and panic started to build in her throat. Any minute now, she knew her asthma would kick in.
"Sapphy," said a soft voice. Alex. He hadn't called her that since she was little. "Remember the day you introduced me to your sisters? For some reason, Ferne was dressed in a viking outfit. Xena and Detta walked straight up and asked if I liked Doctor Who, before they even introduced themselves. Jasmine and Scarlet were giggling about something, but as soon as they saw me, they jumped on me in a giant hug and Jasmine tried to convince me to give her a piggyback."
She smiled, remembering the terrified look on Alex's face. The panic started to subside.
"I remember how Ferne asked me questions for almost an hour on my family, my magic, my favourite books and TV shows, and right before you left, she said, 'What's your name?' And you were having a floating competition with Xena, but you fell out of the sky because you were laughing so hard, and I caught you. I've never seen you smile so wide. So then I made the mistake of inviting you and your sisters to a party. Detta and Scarlet stole each others food. Ferne started singing 1D really loudly, even though they weren't playing, and Xena chased her around the room trying to shut her up. Jasmine had earplugs and several pairs of earmuffs on top of each other. And you and I were talking and laughing and dancing. You were wearing a sapphire-blue dress and you looked beautiful."
Sapphire's breathing had calmed down. She breathed in slowly, and then out again.
Gustav was crouched to the side, watching them. She struggled to sit up, gasping at the pain in her arm. It was healing, but slowly.
"Gustav," she said, her voice slightly croaky, "It was probably Mevolent who sent those creatures. Which means that sorcerers aren't far behind. We need to get out of here."
Gustav scowled, looking indecisive for a minute. "Okay. But do you want one of us to carry you?"
"I'll be fine," She assured him.
Alex glanced at the sky, acting casual about the memories he had shared. "It's getting dark. I really don't want to see what this forest looks like at night. Let's get moving."
Gustav picked up his glasses and the backpack of supplies. Sapphire reached out with her left arm for help to get up, and both Alex helped her up. She was confused, her emotions all tangled. When he had said that she looked beautiful, did he...
They made their way through the woods as quickly as possible. Sapphire tried to hide it, but every part of her body ached and she was utterly exhausted. It didn't fool Alex, who raised an eyebrow at her in silent question. She shook her head. They couldn't stop.
Alex dropped back to make sure they weren't being followed, while Gustav guarded the front and kept an eye on Saph.
"So how did you two meet?" he asked. Sapphire smiled sadly.
"I was six years old. My family had just... they...." she took a deep breath. "Mevolent killed them a few days before."
"I'm sorry," Gustav said, and Sapphire could tell that he meant it.
"Don't be," she whispered. "I was wondering the streets when I met Alex. I was a natural Sensitive, and when he looked at me I accidentally asked if he was alright in his mind. I was really surprised when he replied." She chuckled. "So he taught me some magic, and became like my big brother. But when I was nine, I got a vision telling me to go to an orphanage on the other side of the country. He couldn't leave his family, so I went alone. I met my sisters and found a home. Alex and I kept in touch with mind messages, and he's come over a few times. He knows me better then anyone else alive, even my sisters."
Gustav was quiet for a minute. Then; "Have you ever fought in a war before?"
Sapphire frowned. "Ah. That's a complicated question with a long answer."
Gustav took off his glasses and rubbed the lenses as they walked. "Is there a short version?"
Sapphire laughed. "All Sensitives meet in the mental space. We call it cyberspace. Anyway, occaisionally there are wars in there. I've been in one of those before. But never an actual, phsyical war." She shivered. "I'm curious and excited, but also scared," she admitted.
"Me too," Gustav said. He sighed softly, and a cloud formed in the air in front of his face. She watched it drift up, and up, dissolving into the night air.
Sapphire felt another presence nearby. Not an animal. Another human. She froze.
"Sapphi-" Gustav began, but she put a finger to her lips and dragged him over to behind some bushes.
She sent a thought to Alex. Come over here. There's someone else nearby.
To Gustav; I can feel someone nearby. I don't know if they're an enemy. Hide and stay silent.
He flinched slightly when she first spoke, but when she had finished he nodded. Alex joined them almost immediately, crouching next to Sapphire.
Who are they? Where exactly are they? Why are they here?
Give me a minute, she grumbled. Her mind touched the other person's, careful not to let them feel the contact.
It's Jubi, she said in surprise. She's an old friend of mine. her name's Jubilance Glee. Up ahead, slightly to the left, by a big tree. I don't why she's here, but she's badly injured.
There was a pause. You want to save her. It wasn't a question.
We have to Alex.
Alex raised his hands slightly ina placating gesture. I agree, Sapphire. We can't leave someone injured. Gustav, what do you think?
Gustav nodded. We should help her. I know Jubi.
They crept out of the bushes, padding towards where Sapphire could sense Jubi.
Moonlight filtered through the trees, and Sapphire could see her clearer now. She was lying across the roots of an oak tree, and there was a very nasty wound on her shoulder.
"Stay back," she threatened weakly, pointing a dagger at them with her uninjured arm.
Sapphire raised her hands slightly and stopped. "It's alright," she said gently. "We're not going to hurt you. It's me, Saph. We've got some stuff that can heal you."
Jubi blinked. "Saph?" she croaked, lowering her dagger slightly. "I haven't seen you in ages."
"I know," Sapphire grinned, kneeling down next to her and examining the wounds. "You're not hurt anywhere else?"
Jubi shook her head. "Just my shoulder, but I'm freezing, filthy and starving. Got any food?"
Sapphire shook her head, concious of her own empty stomach. When had she and Gustav- and Alex for that matter- last eaten?
"No," Sapphire admitted. "But here, have my jacket." She slipped off her cosy jacket. It was midnight blue on the inside, but black on the outside. Jubi accepted it gratefully and stopped pointing the dagger at Sapphire.
Gustav swung the backpack off his back, opened it and tossed the tub of green goo to Alex, who knelt beside Sapphire.
"Who are they?" Jubi asked suspiciously, glaring at Alex and reaching for her weapon again.
"It's okay," Sapphire said hurriedly. "That's Alex, my friend. And that's Gustav, Persephone's brother."
"Gustav!" Jubi said with a grin. "I almost didn't recognise you!"
Gustav smiled. "Hi Jubi. How are you doing? As good as my sister yet?"
Jubi stuck out her tongue at him. "Good enough to kill you."
Gustav started to reply, but Sapphire cut in. "Okay, okay. Enough, you two."
"Spoken like a true older sister," Alex muttered. She swatted him.
"Anyway, Jubi, Alex is going to put the healing stuff on you."
Alex opened the pot and showed Jubi the green goo. She wrinkled her nose.
Alex laughed as he smoothed some on her shoulder. "It speeds up the healing process, but you won't be okay for a few hours, and it can't reverse the blood loss."
"Thanks," Jubi muttered. "That stuff's so nice."
"I know, right?" Sapphire smiled. "Anyway, it looks like your staying with us for a while. Do you know how to get out of here?"