______________________________________________

We paced each other in a circular movement with lances ready to strike at any sudden movement. Including Lilia and myself, we were in what was practically a deadly dance with a mercenary and a soldier.

“Where is she?!” yelled the mercenary.

“If you’re talking about the girl I passed earlier,” I said, “she ran off.” The mercenary looked at me with troubled eyes, looking also, in the likely direction his partner ran off to.

Though I said that, the mercenary should know that if he runs to look for his partner then I’ll just fire some spells at him while Lilia keeps me covered from the soldier. There is no other choice but to fight us.

“You side with the man who would aim his sword at you?” I asked the soldier.

“For now,” he said, a comment that got the mercenary’s attention, briefly glancing at each other. “However, I am not completely oblivious to my circumstances and neither should you.”

“It’s not too late to end this,” said Lilia. “Let us turn our displeasure towards the mercenary.”

“No,” said the soldier, “I’d rather stick my sword between the brows of your skull… I know you have a Talician princess in your group, and my country won’t stop until every Talician is dead, and that includes the royal house first and foremost.”

“It’s regrettable,” said Lilia. Our steps were crushing leafs robbed completely of moisture, some of which were mildly burnt crisply from the fires nearby. It was something I couldn’t help but concentrate hearing even as I attempted to drown out everything but the two men in front of me.

“Yes,” said the soldier. “It’s regrettable that your country ever stepped foot on our soil, along with a with a Queen, whose anger didn’t quell not after she had slaughtered many of my people. Hundreds, thousands… many were left to be nothing but ashes scattering in the wind only to land on the same roads I walk on.”

“…”

“Literally,” said the soldier, “stepping on friends and family..”

“…I have no words for what you may feel against us,” said Lilia, “nor would I ask forgiveness on my Queen’s behalf because you weren’t the only ones to incur losses.”

“Ay,” said the soldier, “loss is a part of war, I understand that… but that conflict between our countries wasn’t a war–it was a massacre.”

“Our memories tell a different tale,” said Lilia.

The mercenary looked on, just as I did at their conversation, listening in a past that had no foot in this situation.

“Then we have concluded all we have to say,” said the soldier, and from a distance we heard the phoenix’s cry loudly, echoing through the forest for its violent outburst while on the hunt. We all heard it, without a doubt. “It would seem we don’t have much time left. A’int that right, mercenary?”

The soldier quickly thrust his blade in our direction. A thin blade, perfect for sudden and precise attacks, nearly edge-less and with a very narrow and sharp point—very much something we should avoid being hit by. The attack was aimed at Lilia, and she parried it with her lance, pushed the rapier’s blade downward to the ground and opened a spot for me to join in. However, for not forgetting that there was one other person on the enemies’s side, the mercenary joined just as quickly to divert my lance from piercing the soldier’s skull. My lance’s steel scratched the mercenary’s sword, sparking some light as they made contact, and quickly all four us stepped back away from each other.

Once again, the deadly dance continued as we paced our steps in a circular pattern. The air around us was also becoming harder to breath in, along with a wound on my arm that made a constant reminder of being present.

Without warning, the mercenary this time stepped in with his right foot forwards to me and quickly slashed his sword diagonally. I answered this by forcing my lance to his head, but not only did it not affect him, but also my arm could barely keep up any strength to return the attack in full. I know I hit his skin, yet it remained untouched. I was now on one knee and one hand to my left eye that covered the bleeding, a cut from the stinging feeling left from the edge of his blade to me. Lilia stepped in between us before the mercenary had a chance to continue with a follow up. The soldier, too, had to step back because Lilia began to fire a flurry of fire spells to force their distance farther, covering themsevles behind trees.

“Thanks,” I said.

I’m at my limit after having downed one other soldier and lost most of my strength from the arrows shot at me.

“I’ll take things from here,” said Lilia.

One by one, she lightly touched the magic stones on her lance, but only did so to three that were expertly crafted on the lance’s hilt. Each of the three stones glowed brightly and Lilia began to walk a step or two, slowly, and then picking up the pace until she was now running towards the two who had hid themselves. I heard one of the stones crack an opening from its core and completely activated its magic. She pierce the tree’s thick wood, but did so easily and right through it.

“Argh!!”

I heard someone yelling, likely the voice belonging to the soldier. The mercenary took this opportunity to get out from hiding and run to Lilia while her lance was inside of the tree.

“Behind you!” I yelled to Lilia. She took out her lance from the tree and prepared it as the mercenary began slashing his sword left and right… left and right again to the moment that Lilia waited to parry it at the right moment and forced him back a few steps enough to begin her assault. With increased speed, likely from one of the magic stone’s effects, Lilia thrust her lance forward, and forward, and forward again, seemingly as if she had no need to retract her arm backwards to repeat the attack. In this time, the mercenary held his blade from the handle and to the top by its blade and used it to defend against the piercing thrust that were repeated endlessly by Lilia.

Cling. Clang. Cling. Clang.

Again and again… and again, finally one thrust rendered the mercenary’s blade broken, piercing through and stabbing his shoulder. It didn’t deeply go in at all, and I suspect he had magic enhancement placed on him before he came to us. However, though it may have helped and saved his life, he now lay on the ground… still alive but having lost.

Lilia fell on her knees from exhaustion, something that magic stones do is help us in certain ways. Becoming faster, however, means that we use more energy, we become exhausted faster at the cost becoming more deadly. Lilia began to catch her breath. The mercenary was still down on the ground and had accepted his defeat once Lilia placed her lance to his throat, a place he cannot surely protect against even with enhanced skin. She did not kill him. Perhaps thinking of making him a prisoner?

Again, we heard the phoenix’s cry and it flew in our direction, landing on the ground and dropping off Princess Ness right near me.

“I apologize for my miscalculation,” said the Princess. “I didn’t mean to let him get away, but his little friends kept me busy.” The princess helped me up and took a magic stone from her pocket.

“..?”

“Alice usually makes the better magic stones,” said the Princess, “but you’ll have to do with this one for now.” She placed the stone, though small, and had it dug carefully on the skin of my face–just beside my injured eye. “It will heal you and keep the pain away until we get you to Alice to tend to your wounds.”

“I-I’m grateful,” I thanked the princess. Her phoenix kept looking around in all directions and tugged at the princess once it seemed to have noticed something. The princess quickly ran past me and made her in Lilia’s direction. That’s when I noticed the soldier was running toward the exhausted Lilia as the princess tried to catch up. The phoenix, too, began flapping its wings to take off and fly but would likely not make it in time.

Tall trees of the forest were making it hard see to what the soldier was about to do, and just seconds later I heard a sound. Swissh! Along with a piercing sound of cloth. I got up and followed after the princess, shortly after and I arrived to where Lilia was. She was there laying on the ground as the Princess held her close.

“I’m fine,” said Lilia.

I looked over at the soldier who was on ground with the lance dug deep inside his stomach, accompanied by another stab where he had been hit by Lilia before as she hit through the tree.

“What about the mercenary?” I asked.

He sat on the bark of a tree as I had now noticed. I placed my lance up.

“Weapons away,” said the Princess, I obeyed the command and I had myself on alert instead of being on the offensive. The soldier was without a weapon, but I wouldn’t be so easy to trust him.

“What happened?” I asked.

“The mercenary took my lance and thrust the soldier,” said Lilia.

“Why?”

“Because,” said the mercenary, “ that bloody moron was about to end my life as well when hhe was about to plunged his sword through her and into me.”

“…”

“I lost anyway,” he said. The phoenix flew to us and landed by Princess Nes and Lilia. “And I just want to see Lis.”

“Can you get up, Lilia?” asked the Princess.

“Yes,” said Lilia, “I’ve recovered enough of my strength. We should regroup with the others.”

“Mercenary,” said the Princess, now looking over to the mercenary, “what is your name?”

“Marth,” he said, “Marth Fitsgerald.”

“Marth,” said the Princess. I explained to to her who the mercenary was looking for, and in what direction the woman ran to. “If she ran that in the direction I’m thinking off, then she probably met with Alice and Lehvie a long while ago.”

“Take me to her,” said Marth. “Please.”

“She might already be dead,” said the Princess, bluntly so. “Alice usually shows mercy should the enemy be reasoned with, but Dane is another story.” Dane? The beast that lurks in Princess Lehvie’s shadow?

“I understand,” said Marth.

“Then one more thing,” said the Princess. “Try anything and you will be long gone before you had the sense to realize what even happened.”

“I understand,” he repeated.

* * *

The fight was over and some time later it began to rain cold showers, unnatural ones likely created from magic and I suspect this to be Alice’s doing. I looked up at the sky as we walked, stuck my tongue out and let some of the rain water drop into it. A rain created by magic results in a different taste. Unlike the mineral rich water that we can’t help but savor, this rain water tasted like a speck of wet nothingness. Its purpose wasn’t to quench a thirst I had begun to build up since the fight had started, but to put out the fires that were increasing. Luckily, the fire wasn’t a big problem, only so in the immediate area. As well as the fog, both were now gone except for some trails of smoke that were now nothing but remnants of burning woods.

Some time later and we reached Alice and the young princess. Lehvie stood over someone, a person that was covered in soot darkened skin, not from the result of being burned from a fire as I had been used to seeing, but from something else. A shadow.

Marth quickly made his way to the person on the ground and Lehvie stepped away as he did so. Lilia and I made sure to stand in between the young princess and the mercenary. He held the person by the shoulders. What happened to her? Is this what Dane is capable of? I looked over to Lehvie. The shadow that usually hid beside hers wasn’t there to show its eyes out and look at the surroundings.

“Please,” said the mercenary, eyes tearing up, confused by what was happening to the person he held close to. I believe it was a woman, and by what Marth called her.. this person should be Lis. The young princess kept her gaze on Lis.

“I’m sorry,” said Princess Lehvie. “The moment Dane hid in her shadow—it was over for her. She might still be alive, but she is probably seeing things… illusions in her mind like a dream until there isn’t anything to dream of.”

“She is immobile,” interrupted Alice. “She should be imagining things happening around her and doesn’t know how to react to them… but she can still hear our voices.”

“There must be a way,” said Marth, holding Lis closer to him, tightly gripping his hands on her arms. “Lis, I’ll find something to cure you, you hear me?”

“Dane is a spirit beast,” said Alice. “If there is a way, then it means putting Lehvie in harm’s way to cure your frien–”

“I will not allow you to harm Princess Lehvie,” said Lilia.

“I’ll trade you information,” said Marth, quickly seeming to have come up with something.

“No,” said Lilia.

“The boy,” said Marth, thinking to himself as if trying to remember. “Lee, I remember his name was Lee, a young Talician boy my group came across a long while back.”

This took us by surprise. I could see Lehvie, especially, had her interest in hearing his words and making her way to the mercenary. It was Lehvie who first game him the short nickname.

“Where is Lee?” asked the young Princess..

“Save Lis,” he said, “and I’ll tell you all you want to know.”

“Describe him for us,” said Princess Nes.

“…About the age of a seven year old,” he said. “Short darkened red/purple hair, same eyes and a crest of a bird with open wings with sword on his talons.”

“Liar,” said Princess Nes.

“NO!” yelled Marth. “His clothing, they were tightly fit on him! He had magic stones for buttons, and we took some from him. ”

“Alice,” said the Princess.

“What he describes sounds like the clothing he was wearing the day he vanished,” said Alice. “We still don’t understand what the anomaly is doing in this world. The seeker stone, as Lehvie mentioned before, activated a few days before we headed out to find the signal’s location.” Not to mention it took us weeks to get here on flight, enough time for anything to happen to the young Prince.

“I won’t say anymore unless you save her,” said Marth.

Aliced looked on to Lehvie, and Lilia could do nothing but wait on their decision, though her frustration at this dilemma was clear as day..

“Is he alive?” asked Lehvie, but Marth just kept quiet.

* * *

“The smoke is gone,” I said. It was early in the morning the next day and we were relaxing our feet by the lake. Now we have something less to worry about.

Aril sat beside me and practiced pushing the water in front of her away, back and forth. The water was a bit cold before, or still is and we’ve just gotten used to it already. Sophie and Kahl went off on their own, a bit close to camp and started playing together with Selsie.

“Have you ever thought of returning home?” asked Aril. This was a question out of the blue and I didn’t have time to really think about it.

“Home?” I said. “I can’t say that it isn’t on my mind.”

“Anyone waiting for you?”

“A sister,” I said. “Probably, but I’m sure she’s already gotten used to living without me.”

“How old is she?”

“…She’s a young adult by now,” I said. Aril looked at me confused, then I realized I spoke words that shouldn’t have left my mouth as I was referring to someone who didn’t even live in this world. “It’s the way she acts.”

“Oh,” said Aril, not convinced.

Then there is Lehvie, my sister from this world, but I’m sure she’s fine with family of her own that she can rely on. I do feel that connection for her as well, so I wouldn’t mind seeing her again.

Like Alice, too, I hope both of them are doing well.

“We’ll be leaving the Lake soon,” I said. Aril nods and we get up from our spot. We will keep practicing our magic while having fun with it.

 

End.

 

<< Previous Chapter  I  Next Chapter >>

_________________________________________________

I’m not used to writing fighting scenes, so I hope it went well with the readers and hope that you enjoyed it. I know I still need to improve in many aspects of my writing so go easy on me! 🙂