Knights Aurorae – A Smouldering Hope
Episode 8: “March to the Battlefield”: The End of Night
“March to the battlefield, The foe is now before us; Each heart is Freedom’s shield, And heaven is shining o’er us.” ~Seneca
- Caeldryn, Hope, Sigea, Zanne, mikaMikal (Back Baby!! Ba-da-boom!), Fin, and Pelor.
Dead. He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s gone.
The truth echoed blankly in my head. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t believe it. I was dead. I had been dead. Krya had killed me. But now I was holding one of my most precious friends in my arms, and he was the one who was gone. Not me. Morgar. Always so brave. Always watching out for me.
Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.
The voices were mocking me now. A familiar chill gripped my bones. It was them. The Shadowfell was still with me, still in the room. They were laughing at my pain. They were glad he was dead. They were mocking his sacrifice. I looked at the ceiling, writhing in darkness. The portal was still there, and they were trying to come through.
Immediately white hot rage shot through my veins. I felt myself stand effortlessly, as though I hadn’t just been drained of life a few minutes ago. I was strong. I would destroy them. The heat blazed around me easily. I felt the darkness recoil away from it. I could hear them crying out in alarm and pain. Another voice was dimly attempting to compete with the voices from the Shadowfell, but I pushed it away. The heat surged around me again, and then suddenly there was a sharp pain and then darkness.
My eyes opened slowly. The room was dark, but a beautiful light flickered beside me. My eyes met Morgar’s. He raised his hand from my shoulder and gently touched my forehead. The light remained at my shoulder, glimmering softly. I tried to speak to him, to tell him I was sorry, to tell him to come back to us, but I couldn’t remember how to open my mouth. He stood and backed away from me, slowly fading into the darkness. Panicking, I tried to cry out-
The broken voice of my father made my eyes snap open. His crystal green eyes were boring into mine. The room smelled like smoke and blood. My head throbbed. Hope was hovering at Pelor’s shoulder, looking furious and concerned at the same time. I sat up, too fast making the room spin, and looked frantically for Morgar. My heart dropped when I saw his still form still lying prone of the floor.
Before I could speak, my father crushed me in his arms. “I’m so sorry, Aurora. I tried to save you from the darkness, but you have so much of it still within you.” I stared at him blankly, my mind stuttering over “Aurora.”
“I must tell you the truth.” He barreled on, his eyes filling with tears. “I’m the one who cut off your wings. At the celebration of your birth, Eladio, King of the Winter Fey, cursed you with the winter. He told us he would remove the curse when we gave you to him to be his bride. We tried everything, but it was no use.” Fury filled his eyes. “I would not let my daughter be so degraded.” He spit the words out, then looking back into my stunned face, his eyes softened. “I had to cut off your wings to keep the winter from filling your mind. We sent you to earth and hid you there to keep you safe, to keep you out of Eladio’s reach. He does not know that you are still alive.”
My mind reeling, I tried to take it all in. Spinatta and Roland were nervously urging Pelor to move back further into the room. The sounds of battle were growing nearer. Marching feet came from the hallway. Pelor helped me to my feet, his eyes begging for my forgiveness. I looked down to avoid his eyes. I didn’t know what to say. It was then that I noticed my shoulder. A mark, still faintly glowing, was fading into a golden tattoo. It was the elven symbol for hope. New tears choked me, but before I could say anything, a new group of snakes burst in through the battered door, hissing in delight when they discovered Pelor. The guards rushed Pelor away from me, firing quickly into the oncoming army. The snakes were nearly upon me when I threw fire into their faces. They shrieked in agony, halting their charge. I readied myself to attack them again when suddenly someone was right next to me. I glanced over, and then almost fell over. Romance the tiefling stood next to me.
I wasn’t sure who was more shocked, me or him. We both gaped at each other for a few seconds before Romance grasped my hand in his massive one. “Caeldryn! You have to help me! I have to kill him!” And then he pointed straight at my father.
“What?” I gasped. “Romance, you can’t kill him! That’s my father! That’s Pelor! We’re fighting to protect him!”
Romance’s face was suddenly filled with hate. “I have to. You remember the Unicorn Fountain? How I was finally lifted from my enchantment so that I could see beauty again? How I finally remembered who my wife was? Well I was in the Imperium about to meet her at the docks when there was a huge explosion. She was killed right before my eyes! And he’s the one who did it!” He shouted, pointing again at my father.
For a brief second, I couldn’t breathe. Romance’s jabbing finger felt like it had pierced my heart. All I could do was look at the horrible hate in his eyes. I suddenly realized that the snakes were starting to rush around me towards Pelor. I grabbed Romance, hurled a burst of fire around me, and teleported with him. We appeared again away from the fight in a quiet corner. Gathering my courage, I gently pushed him against the wall, and told him the truth.
He shook his head in denial as I spoke, trying to keep my voice from shaking. I could see him trying to cling to his misguided blame, blame that the snakes had no doubt used to their advantage. Finally he stopped trying to deny my words and just stared at me in horror. I ran out of words, and we just stared at each other helplessly. A glance over my shoulder showed more snakes pouring in the door. I turned away from Romance and shot fire into the midst of them again. And then Romance stabbed me.
It went cleanly through my shoulder, but the pain made me gasp in shock. His sword was wreathed in darkness, and his face was a hard mask of hate. He drew it out and I put one hand against the wall to steady myself. Our faces were intimately close. He swallowed hard and whispered harshly, “I wish I’d never met you. I wish I’d never found that fountain. What good is seeing beauty if it’s just going to be taken away?”
I could hear Pelor yelling something, and I felt one of Hope’s spells fly by my face and hit Romance. I half turned again and yelled at them to stop. Hope narrowed her eyes at me, but then a huge grappling hook flew through the broken window and distracted her. Pelor was watching Romance and me with fury written all over his face, but his guards prevented him from coming near.
“To see beauty is to feel pain.” I whispered back to Romance. “I did a horrible thing, and I have hurt you in the worst way imaginable. But please, please….there is so much more going on right now. The fate of the very world is at stake. Please Romance…”
He didn’t even flinch as he stabbed me again, this time in the side.
There was a sudden crash, and then there was a dragon in the room. Mikal sat on it’s back, shooting bursts of chaos and whooping with glee. The dragon’s tail took out several pillars, causing more of the roof to collapse. Pelor’s guards shielded Pelor from the debris and glared at Mikal. But Mikal and his dragon were already on the snakes, sending them flying.
I could feel my body going into shock. “Please, Romance.” I begged him. “I’m not going to fight you. You’re one of my dearest friends!”
This time there was some hesitation. His face twisted in pain, but his sword moved as if on it’s own. This time my legs gave out. I clutched my other shoulder and slid slowly down the wall to my knees. Blood was pooling at my feet. I needed to make a decision. I could’ve sworn I heard him whisper, “I’m sorry,” but several things suddenly happened at once. A blast of ice went past my body and I heard Romance howl in pain. His sword arm was now frozen against the wall in a block of ice. A second dragon crashed through the ceiling with Zanne on it’s back. She saw me kneeling on the floor at once and vaulted off her dragon, eyes blazing. I managed to call her off, begging her to wait. Black spots dancing in my vision, I quickly traced an outline of a door around Romance’s furious head. The wall fell away, revealing my sacred grove. I tried to free Romance’ hand, but it was frozen solid. Behind me, I could hear snakes approaching.
“I’m sorry, Romance.” I whispered to him. “I will come back for you.”
I pushed him, and he was instantly sucked into the portal. He gave a terrible scream and I saw that his frozen hand had indeed been left behind. The door slammed shut behind him, and I turned to face the snakes. A golden light surrounded me for a brief second and I felt my wounds slowly close. I gave Hope a glance of quick thanks, and threw myself back into the battle, trying to forget what I had done, trying to forget Romance’s face.
Sigea came crashing in on a dragon a few seconds later. A dark dragon climbed up on the roof and began lashing out at us with seering darkness. Another evil dragon flew in, tangling with the other dragons, teeth flashing and roaring louder than thunder. A beautiful woman who looked strangely similar to Zanne chanted a blessing over Hope, myself, and another long lost friend I did not expect to see here, Finn! The blessing strengthened our powers, and we fought with all our might. Watching Finn and his army help us defend the sun, I thanked Baj with all my heart for his devotion. My friends were fighting more fiercely than I had ever seen. Zanne brought down a huge dragon by implanting it with seeds until it’s head exploded into a huge tree. Mikal brought down an trebuchet, sending snakes and debris flying. Sigea was attacking the other dragon. Hope was taking care of the huge snakes attempting to climb into the room. I managed to take out a hideously ugly snake woman who was attempting to cast spells of darkness over us. Zanne was astonishing. She was completely one with nature. She created a tidal wave of earth that buried an entire enlistment of snakes. The tree growing from the dragon carcass was pushing through the broken ceiling. There was a new fierceness in her face. She looked so much like that statue of Yvonna we had seen.
The battle raged for hours, but the sun elves fought with renewed hope and vigor. Together we slowly turned the tide of the war. Cries of jubliation echoed throughout the city as the snakes, finally outnumbered, began retreating, running back to their portals to escape. Pelor stood watching the darkness slowly retreating from his city. His face was lined and gray. Hope stood at his side looking young and strong. So soon she would be the new ruler of the sun. I looked at her determined face and wondered if I would ever be strong enough to replace her. Pelor turned to both of us and uttered the words we were waiting for.
“It’s time, my daughters.”
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