Malik stalked through the forest to the small copse where Iyas and the Harmwitch, Amaya were supposed to be waiting. His heart was fluttering wildly with nerves. Hopefully, their plan would succeed, and it would look like the Firewitch and Scentwitch had somehow managed to breakout of their bastilles and escape. But it could just as easily fail, however, with Malik's Witchery being revealed and him being burned all the same. Luckily, Malik had been told to watch the prisoners during the night, and he was able to tell their plan to the Firewitch. However, the Scentwitch hadn't woken, so Malik could only hope that the Firewitch would update his friend on the plan.
Malik slowed his pace as he neared the copse. He didn't want to catch them off guard.
"Iyas. Amaya!" He called softly.
"We're here." One of them responded quietly.
Malik slid through the thick bushes and into the copse. It looked like Iyas and Amaya had prepared their things to flee, so they didn't have to worry about that.
"You two ready?" Malik asked.
"As ready as we'll ever be." Iyas replied. Amaya just nodded, looking focused. "Well let's go. The sooner we get this done, the farther away you can be when the village discovers what happened. Malik turns, and leaves the copse without waiting for them. He and Gwen would get this done with or without them. The soft rustling of leaves behind him tells Malik that they're following him. Malik glances back, nodding at the two of them, then slips away into the trees. Malik will be providing the distraction for this breakout. His Poisonwitch mist will be perfect for this. He comes upon the opposite side of the village, where the least people live, as its closer to the mountainside, and the land begins to slope up dramatically in that area.
No one is in sight as he nears the area as he gets into position behind a thick clump of shrubs. The absence is slightly concerning. But no matter, it was time to save those Witches.
Malik took a deep breath, spreading his fingers, preparing to unleash his mist upon the little village. That's when he feels something cold and sharp poke into his spine. Malik stiffens, not daring to move.
"That's quite enough of that, Malik." The voice of Chief Quilin purrs in Malik's ear.
"Chief Quilin. I hadn't noticed you were around." Malik said stiffly.
"That was my goal. Now stand. And walk forward." The Chief commanded.
Malik did as he commanded, seeing as he had no choice. Granted, he could just poison the Chief now, but he didn't know what would happen to the others. Chief Quilin forced Malik through the village, thick smoke covering the early morning sky. That wasn't a good sign. Cooking fires never produced this much smoke, at least not this early, because no one was usually up by this time. It was too early.
Finally, Chief Quilin shoved Malik into the square, where a large pile of wood and a tall pole in the center waited. Malik watched in horror as some of the village soldiers tied both Iyas and Amaya to the post. The Firewitch, whom Malik knew to be Biryn and his friend the Scentwitch, were already tied around the stake.
"It would seem that your new friends happened to be Witches." Chief Quilin growled, dragging Malik to the side of the square, to where he saw a horrible sight. Gwen was covered in dark bruises, long, cruel, jagged cuts laced her skin.
"What have you done to her?" Malik gasps, starting to turn but stops when the sword tip digs harder into his spine.
"I thought she was acting suspicious. I knew she'd talk eventually." Chief Quilin.
"You'd do something like this to your own daughter?" Malik cries.
"And more. Ideally, you'd be up on that stake with the other Witches, but your parents managed to persuade me otherwise." Chief Quilin purred.
"You're a monster." Malik hissed at him.
"Maybe so." Chief Quilin snickers, "but at least I'm not a Witch. Let's get this over with." Chief Quilin looked over at a nearby soldier. The man grinned, brandishing the torch he was holding and stepped toward the pyre. And that's as far as he got.
Malik screamed as his poison mist billowed out from him. Chief Quilin shouted and tried to escape, but he was the first to be engulfed but the mist.
"Poisonwitch!" Quilin coughed. This poison wasn't Malik's usual. This one was meant to kill, not knock someone out. The soldier screamed as the poison rushed towards him. He shut his mouth, but Malik forced the mist to go up his nose, flooding his brain with the deadly toxin, killing him almost instantly. Beside him, the mist swirled over Gwen, avoiding her completely as if she was somehow repelling it. But no, Malik was making it go around her.
He helped her up and turned back to the pyre. All four Witches were free, and Iyas and Biryn were each using their Witchery to fight back the flames. Water swept through the wood, soaking it, while in other spots, they died out completely for no apparent reason.
"Come on! Hurry!" Malik cried.
The Witches turned to face Malik. Immediately Iyas and Biryn made a path over the wood, ushering the other two over the logs. Then Iyas came, closely followed by the Firewitch.
"Quickly. Your friend should be this way." Malik said, turning on his heel and rushing back into a village, creating a break in his mist so they could slip through.
"If we hurry we- "That's when something punches into his back, pain flaring wildly, making his vision go completely red. Malik screamed and fell to the ground.
"Malik!" Gwen screamed. "Oh gods!" In an instant, all the mist filling the square vanished as Malik's concentration was broken.
"Get… them…" Malik heard Chief Quilin choke out behind them.
"Gwen… go. Take them to the girl. Get out of here." Malik grunted.
"What? No!" Gwen spat. "I won't just leave."
"Go. Take Amaya with you." Iyas said. "I'll get Malik out of here. We'll have to meet up somewhere."
"But- "Gwen began.
"I'll stay, too." The Firewitch, Biryn jutted in. "Your friend will be fine."
"Fine." Gwen sighed, meeting Amaya's gaze. "Let's go."
"I'll come with you!" The Scentwitch offered, but Iyas turned on him.
"So you can kidnap her again? I don't think so." Iyas snarled.
"We'll need some help anyways." Gwen added.
"Iyas, it'll be fine. I'll keep the Prince in line. Just help Malik." Amaya said.
"Okay." Iyas conceded. "Alright."
As Gwen led Amaya and the Prince -as Amaya had called him- off to find their imprisoned friend, Iyas and Biryn turned back to Malik. "Can you stand?" Iyas demanded.
"I-I think so." Malik grunted, pushing himself up slowly.
"Stop what you're doing!" Someone shouted. Malik glanced over his shoulder and saw the few village soldiers approaching their group, swords raised.
"Help him." Biryn said to Iyas. "I'll hold them off." Then the Firewitch stood and turned to face the soldiers, flames sparking to life all around him.
"Come on. Let me help you." Iyas said, gently grabbing Malik's arms and helping him stand. Malik turned away unsteadily and, with Iyas's help, began to stumble away from the fight.
"Firewitch! Let's go!" Iyas called, glancing over his shoulder.
Malik felt too weak to follow suit, so he just kept his eyes facing forwards and focused on his breathing. But he wasn't able to focus for long, as a strange sense of cold began to sweep up his back. Then before he could say anything, his legs promptly gave out and he collapsed to the ground.
"Malik!" Iyas cried out in surprise, trying to catch him, but reacting slow. "Come on Malik. You can walk for a bit longer can't you?"
"I'm… sorry. I don't think so." Malik coughed out, something warm and sticky filling his mouth. Malik coughed again and bright red splattered over Iyas, but the Waterwitch didn't seem to mind, or at least notice.
"Oh gods." Iyas murmured. "Don't worry. I'll get you out of here." Malik's vision had faded to black, but he was still conscious, still aware of what was going on. He could feel Iyas's muscular arms scooping him up and cradling him in between them. Then a strange feeling began to spread through Malik's chest. A sensation of warmth and… and happiness maybe? Malik wasn't sure. This sensation was nothing he'd ever experienced before, but it pleased him. It felt natural, normal. And a sense of safety and belonging.
"Stay with me, Malik." Malik heard Iyas grunt. "We're almost free."
But Malik couldn't. He didn't know how. All the strength he had vanished, his mind, his thoughts, they felt sluggish. He felt empty, and nothing, not even this new sensation that Malik was experiencing could help him stay in the moment. And that's Malik's world vanished completely.