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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Collecting, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 147 > Continuing Series > Rainy Days: Part Eight

Rainy Days: Part Eight

by child_dragon

Grievm's army was closer than they thought. They heard it approaching as the Acara picked the lock into the library for the second time that night. Anry took to the air to look, then landed a couple minutes later with a breathless report that there had to be at least twenty pets. They were vastly outnumbered.

      "Everyone behind me!" Payne ordered, "Anry, Mia, take the rear. We're going to fight a running battle here, all the way to the top."

      And with a rattle the lock came open and the group burst into the library, shedding cloaks and jackets to free up movement and drawing weapons as they made for the stairs, Payne in the lead with a blunt sword in her hand.

      To the top. That was the only thought that was driving Payne now. Summon the wind and end this madness, save the school and save her strange assortment of friends. Behind her she could hear the cries of the pets chasing them but it was merely a distant buzz, a minor factor in her brain. To the top. She burst through the doors to the stairs, taking them two at a time, her paws flying like the wind she was going to summon, the rest clattering behind her in a tumbled blur of strain and panicked breathing.

      A cry of "Go on!" reached her and she numbly identified the voice as Anry, that and the ring of metal on metal, of swears and exclamation as a battle broke out. Engagement number one of the rush. And it was quickly lost behind her as she made her way up the stairs. Third floor now - four more to go. She had a stitch in her side and a thought arose in her mind.

      "Mia!" she cried back, "To me!"

      The group reformed, a couple people dropping back to stem the tide once more, since Anry had apparently fallen. One of those was his friend Deft, the soot washed away from the constant rain outside. Mia appeared by Payne's side and for a moment the sister's eyes met.

      "I can fight," Mia wheezed.

      "Rain Gray and Mist Gray," Payne replied, "I'll need you for the top."

      And still they ran. Sixth floor. The combat was dying away behind them, Payne's legs were screaming in protest from the strain, her breath coming harsh. A couple more of the League dropped back, too exhausted and deciding to make a stand of it. A risked glance behind her revealed that Maria and BlazeFast were still with her, the small Ixi's chest heaving, Maria's face flushed with effort.

      "Almost there," Payne murmured, "almost there."

      Eighth floor. One more to go. She burst through another door with a white nine painted on it. There. Now to the roof. She slammed up against the door, reaching for the handle.

      "Locked!" she cried in dismay. "Where's that Acara?"

      "Fell behind," Maria wheezed.

      Payne fell silent, straining to hear what was behind them. Shouts, unfamiliar voices.

      "Move aside!" BlazeFast cried, shoving up to the last step and turning around, "It's about time I made myself useful. Maria, help me."

      The two reared up on their forelegs and kicked with the hind, the wood around the doorknob splintering with the force and throwing the Ixi off balance and to the ground, rolling down some stairs before Mia grabbed her hind leg and stopped her fall. The door knob hung half-off and Payne opened it with a gentle push. They were out onto the roof, into the night air and the rain that sleeted down to greet them.

      "Barricade the door," someone ordered, slamming it behind them and leaning against it, "someone help me."

      Maria and BlazeFast added their weight to it while Payne glanced about them. A lightning rod in the direct center of the roof, a two foot high ledge about the edge of the building itself. Other then that and the doorway leading back down into the library, nothing.

      "What do I do?" Payne asked, holding the sword at her side with one hand.

      "I don't know!"

      There was a flash of feathers and a Uni and an Eyrie landed before them, both carrying Sinsis swords.

      "You hand over that sword," the Uni snickered, "that's what you do."

      "Flyers," Mia muttered in disgust, "that's cheating. You should have taken the long route up like we did."

      "Ahh, poor ickle Gelert," the Eyrie retorted, "step aside brat before you get hurt."

      Mia snarled and bared her fangs at them.

      "Before I get hurt? Listen to the big featherbrain talk. Com'n -- I've trained my whole life for this moment. I'm not letting you hurt Payne!"

      She leaped for them, the WereLupe's claw catching in the light. Power grew and swelled around her as she landed on top of the Uni, clawing and biting. The Uni in turn lashed out with the sword before it was knocked from his grip by Mia's hind leg.

      "Payne!" Maria called. "The rain! Your friends are with you, your sister is protecting you. Summon the wind!"

      Payne took a deep breath and shot one last glance at the battle which had dissolved into a brawl, Mia somehow holding her own against both pets at once. The wind. It had to come.

      "I've never felt the wind here," she whispered, "but I want to. Summon the wind. How do I summon the wind?"

      The snatches of an old rhyme ran through her head. An old rhyme, first taught to her by her family, then picked up and thrown in her face as a taunt.

      "But that's who I am," she announced, striding forwards to stand staring up at the rain, "a Gray. Payne Rain Gray."

      She knew what to do. Exulting in this, in who she was, what she was, she raised the sword above her head with both hands. She was Payne Gray, she would summon the wind. Her paws seemed to tingle and the air seemed to crackle with unspent power.

      "Painted in shades of black and gray, rainy day, rain gray Payne," she chanted singsong. "Painted in shades of black and gray for those rainy days!"

      The last line she shouted out as a challenge to shake the heavens. Laws of nature could be forgotten. She was a Gray, she defied the rain, she summoned the wind.

      It answered. It tugged at her ears first, sending them dancing into the night, lifting it off her face, the rain slowly dying away, the patter sliding away into the triumphant cry of the wind. She laughed out loud, the sword still raised in her hands, the power surging through her as the wind rushed across the campus, wrapping about her, promising her everything. She was Payne Rain Gray and the wind was hers to control.

      The battle with Mia had stopped, the Uni laying unconscious and the Eyrie limping off, thankful to be in one piece. Mia was panting, her face alight with triumph. And slowly Maria and the rest moved away from the door. The battle was won. The wind was here, the rain was relinquishing its grasp. Behind them burst the Grievm's hired pets, weapons raised and ready for a fight. Payne simply lowered her sword and stared at them, the wind billowing about her and lifting her ears up like angelic wings. The pets stopped still, stared, and saw something. And whatever it was, it frightened them. They turned and slowly slunk back into the stairwell, away and out of sight. Slowly, Maria, BlazeFast, and the three others that had made it to the top gathered about her. She met their eyes in turn and no one held her gaze.

      "What is it?" she whispered as Mia returned to her rightful place by Payne's side.

      "You are bearer of the Sword of Wind and Rain," Maria said in a hushed voice. "The wind is yours."

      "But I am still Payne. Look at me Maria. Nothing has changed. I'm the same Payne you've always known."

      Maria locked eyes with her friend and mutely shook her head.

      "No. I wish you could see yourself now -- you have changed. That timid little girl that I met on the first day is gone. You're Payne, yes, you are. But you're a Payne that isn't afraid anymore and who is willing to challenge anything."

      "The moon," BlazeFast said, gazing up, "Look."

      Slowly, everyone turned to stare in the direction he was looking. The wind whipped about them, whistling and calling to them, to Payne and her sword. And above them, the clouds were thinning out, gently blowing away in the roar that blanketed campus.

      "Is it always like this?" Payne asked, watching as the night sky unfolded, the first time she had seen it since arriving here.

      "Yes," one of the League members replied, "this is the campus wind. Sometimes it's so strong you can barely open the door."

      No one spoke after that, just stared up at the sky. The moon was visible, a thin sliver of pale silver, gleaming as brightly as Payne's sword. A lone star managed to fight through the rapidly dispersing clouds, glinting directly parallel to the bowl of the moon, cradled in its two points. The only heavenly features visible. And to Payne it seemed that this was her and Mia, together, protecting one another, etched into the night sky. In a bit other stars would join the moon and these would be her friends, Maria and BlazeFast, and now Jessica, VerdeVer, Anry, Deft, Eric, and all the rest. What a strange world that her enemies would become her friends.

     In a couple hours the sun would rise and it would be the most glorious sunrise to ever break across Neopia, a reprieve after the heavy days of rain, the rainy days that threatened to wash everything away and dissolve all ties between the students of campus. Later, she would have to deal with Eric, and Mia would have to come to terms with VerdeVer. But that was still a couple hours away. For now, the campus slumbered on, perhaps a couple people were wakened by the shift in the ambient sounds, the transition from rain to wind. For now, the night was their own, the moon and the star their own, just Mia and her alone in the sky, ready to face anything that fate threw at them. Even those Rainy Days.

The End

Previous Episodes

Rainy Days: Part One

Rainy Days: Part Two

Rainy Days: Part Three

Rainy Days: Part Four

Rainy Days: Part Five

Rainy Days: Part Six

Rainy Days: Part Seven

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