“Duty to Extremes” Part 2 by Dylan Birtolo

With a start, Morann jumped to his feet. His entire body tensed as he scanned the sky for an airship of approximately the same size as the one that was just saved. It needed to be a passenger vessel; otherwise the balance would be skewed. He settled on a target, reaching out with his hand as if to grasp it in his palm. And then he began to dance.

The Fae twisted and turned on the edge of the landmass to a tune that was ancient by any creature’s standards, even the immortal ones. The tension eased from his body as he danced, his movements becoming more liquid and less rigid with each beat. The dirt on the ground shifted and rolled with him, reverberating from the song without words or tune. All the while, Morann kept his gaze locked on the airship he had designated as his victim, often twisting his neck halfway around to keep it in view as he spun.

His feet came dangerously close to the edge, but it did not give him pause. More than once dust and small stones skittered out into the open air, but Morann only picked up his pace. The wind began to respond in kind, making the trees creak as it rushed past and followed the path laid out by his outstretched hands. As the gust struck the airship, the flying monstrosity tilted in the air and shifted far off course. Morann adjusted his dance, keeping the vessel trapped between his hands. The air itself heeded his commands and continued its assault. The vessel dropped suddenly, the bow of it pointed straight down for a moment.

“Morann! Cease your dance!”

Morann froze. After a second, he twisted his head to face the voice which commanded him to stop. He kept his hands outstretched and the wind continued to push past him. He saw another man standing behind him–at least he looked like a man on the surface. But Morann knew he was no Duine. He wore simple clothes and carried a dagger with an ornate handle on his belt.

“Dorhanin. It has been years.”

“Morann, I beg you to stop.” Dorhanin’s voice was softer as he pleaded.

“I cannot. The balance must be maintained.” Morann began to dance again, ignoring the other Fae behind him.

“You must cease–it is not our place to interfere.”

Morann continued to move and direct the wind at the airship. It once again turned into a dive, plummeting towards the city. Dorhanin took several strides forward and reached out to grab Morann’s wrist. He jerked on it, forcing Morann to turn and face him. Morann spun around and brought his other arm across his body in a punch. It connected with Dorhanin’s jaw, dropping him to the ground and making him let go of Morann’s arm. The other Fae continued to his dance, ignoring his companion.

“This is madness!” Dorhanin tried as he stood up and moved to grab Morann again.

“This is my purpose!” Morann screamed to the sky as he summoned more wind with his movements. “I am Ainghid Fas!”

Dorhanin reached out with both hands, trying to grab Morann and force him to stop. Morann twisted away, just avoiding the other Fae’s grasp. He continued to keep his arms pointed towards the falling airship but split his attention between his adversary and his target. Dorhanin scrambled forward, launching himself into a headlong dive. He wrapped his arm around Morann just before his shoulder collided with Morann’s ribs. The two of them hit the ground with a crack. The wind died down immediately, but the ship continued to accelerate toward the city.

Morann growled as he tried to pry himself free from the other Fae. He wedged his foot against Dorhanin’s hip. He pushed through his leg as strongly as he could and the two opponents slid away from each other. Morann scrambled to his feet first. He took two quick steps and kicked out, catching Dorhanin in the jaw and forcing him to roll onto his back.

Looking up at the sky, Morann saw the airship correcting its course. It had managed to avert disaster and was already on the rise back into the relative safety of the open air. With a wordless scream, Morann began his dance again, this time with renewed intensity. The wind howled in response, immediately picking up to a frenzy that made his clothes snap as they whipped around his body. With a snarl, he directed the raw energy of the wind towards the escaping airship.

Dorhanin shook his head to clear it, and then reached down to his dagger. He curled his fingers around the handle and slowly drew it from its sheath. Dorhanin gathered his feet underneath him and charged into the center of the building gale, straight at Morann. The force of the wind threatened to push him off balance, but Dorhanin reached out and grabbed his companion’s shoulder. He dug in his fingers and pulled, yanking Morann off balance. Morann fell backwards, straight on Dorhanin’s outstretched dagger. The mystical blade sank up to the hilt in Morann’s back. He gasped once and froze as the weapon pierced his lung.

The wind died down to a gentle breeze as Dorhanin eased his kin to the ground. The airship managed to right itself once again, pulling itself out of a maddening spin. Morann gasped, each attempt ending in a wet gurgle. Dorhanin wiped his blade clean and tucked it away with a slow motion. Then he reached out and grabbed one of Morann’s hands in both of his. He gave a reassuring squeeze. The gesture was returned, but significantly weaker.

“Thank you,” Morann whispered, so quiet that Dorhanin needed to lean forward in order to hear it. “I no longer need to carry the sins of our people. This too, is balance.” As he spoke, a smile spread across Morann’s face.

“Rest well, my friend. Allow another to carry the weight of our clan.” As he spoke, Dorhanin reached out and gently closed Morann’s eyes. He hung his head low with his chin against his chest and began to utter a prayer.

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