Scarlet Shadow: Secrets of a Kingdom - Part Four
To Cenoal’s surprise, Crystal nodded. He was about to question her when Kelland interrupted. “You forgot her love of butterfly swords,” he stated, indicating the pair strapped to Crystal’s back. “And as for that,” he continued, pointing at the book clasped in Cenoal’s hand, “I don’t know where you got it, but I’ve been looking for that thing for the better part of twenty years.”
“What is it?” Shade asked, speaking for the first time since the trio had entered the chamber.
“It’s the book Crystal’s mother was writing. She was recording what had happened in case...” Kelland stopped. “In case what happened would happen. Sadly, she never finished it.”
“What happened to my mother?” Crystal asked. “What’s the truth?”
“I’m sorry that you can’t hear, or rather read, her part of the story, Crystal,” Kelland continued, “but here’s mine...”
“I need you to promise me that you will return here one day,” the Faerie replied. “Bring with you your daughter.”
“Why would I bring her here?” Reign asked, suspicious. “And what makes you so sure I won’t have a son?”
“Your child will need to prepare,” Morning continued, ignoring the second question. “There is a war coming, and she must be trained. I will not take the girl from you. You will be allowed to stay here to watch her training, but she must remain until this training is complete.”
“What war is this?” Reign pressed on. “What type of training will be required?”
“It is a war we cannot afford to lose,” Morning responded. “And it is the kind of training that will bring those that pass through war.”
Kiel broke in, “And those that fail?”
“Her daughter will not fail,” Morning hissed. She held out Light just out of reach of the Acara. “Oh no, your child will help save millions one day, but you must take this gem and survive first. Will you give me your word?”
“What if the girl does not want to come?” Kiel pressed on.
“Oh, she will. Trust me, she will,” the Light Faerie stated. “If it is not her mother who convinces her, then it will be Betrayal. And, yes, that is the true name of the Lady Rayal. She will survive this encounter, but the next will be with the one chosen by destiny to defeat her.” Morning saw the doubt in the Acara’s eyes. “If you will not do it for your kingdom, do it for the rest of the world.” Still, the doubt remained. “I will give you my word that I will not send her into battle without her being prepared, My Lady.”
Finally, Reign nodded. “I will bring my child,” she said, “but remember that promise, Morning, or you will have me to deal with should you break it.”
The Light Faerie tossed the gem to Reign. The gem glowed a deep red as it seemed to engulf the Acara in light. She stood transfixed as the once white pelt turned pure scarlet. “It is but a precaution,” Morning explained, “You will be held to your word by that gem.” She stepped closer to Reign and waved her hand to indicate that Kiel do the same. Once he did, she continued, “I will send you into the throne room of your brother now. Tell Betrayal I sent you. Tell her I will be seeing her soon enough.”
The throne room was filled with light as a great flash exploded in the middle of the chamber. Blake stood from his throne as the two figures became clear. Reign and Kiel were standing not two feet from him, both their expressions grim. The Lady Betrayal was beside the spell-bound ruler in seconds, her eyes shining with hate. Reign drew her swords and pointed one at Betrayal. “Leave this kingdom now and you will be spared,” she stated.
The faerie’s laughs came ringing into the Acara’s ears. “You insolent little fool!” she jested. “You think that just by visiting my friend Morning, you would be rid of me?”
Reign stepped forward, brining her hand up to order Kiel to stay where he was. “I will fight if I have to free this kingdom, Betrayal,” she responded.
Betrayal smiled as well as she senses the power emanating from the girl. “My old adversary has gifted you with more power,” she stated. She stepped aside to allow Blake to pass in front of his sister. “Now, let me show you the gift I gave your brother.”
Blake drew his twin swords and attacked, bringing both down upon the Acara. Thankfully, Reign had blocked in time, sidestepping as the king’s swords hit hers. She surged forward, giving a cut. The armlets around the king’s wrists glowed as the gems that had been placed within them worked their magic. His swords were engulfed in the flames of the orange gem as the harm she had done was healed with the aid of the blue. Around her the earth trembled as the brown gem did its work. Finally, the grey gem gave swiftness to the king and he gained ground, each second pushing the girl out of the room and into the hallway.
Kiel struggled to go help his sister, but the guards of the throne room blocked his way. They were no match for the Techo, but they kept him busy. Disarming each one and knocking them unconscious was all he did, not willing to lose those who were clearly working not of their own will. Once the chance arose, Kiel ran through the doors of the throne room and pushed a huge statue in front of the entrance, barricading them in.
The Techo was exhausted and he fought for breath as he ran frantically through the halls in search of his sister. He found them, stopping dead in his tracks as he gazed at the fight that continued between twins. The girl stood no chance, not while all the gems worked for her brother. Each wound was healed, each strike was blocked, and she was slowing down. Kiel attempted a charge, bringing his sword down upon one of the gems on the armlet. Not even a dent was made as the blade shattered.
Blake shrugged him off as though he was some small petpetpet and he hit the wall hard. Still, his deed did not go unnoticed. While her brother was distracted, Reign grabbed the pinkish gem from the pouch she had kept it in. She sheathed one of her swords, striking out with the single gem at the smooth blue gem, Water. She managed to chip it, but her strike was not hard enough. Only a fragment came off, but she retrieved it from where it lay on the floor the moment she could. She thrashed out with all her might once more, only this time at the actual metal holding the gems together. It worked. The metal was dented now and the most important of her brother’s gems began to slip out because of it. She had struck true when she struck the side containing Darkness.
Blake had not yet noticed, so he thrust his left sword right for the girl’s throat, barely missing it. Reign had swooped low and had yanked the black gem from its place. She stepped out and ran toward the end of the hall, where a balcony was located. She stood there, out of breath. She held both gems tightly, knowing that none of the others would function without them. Blake’s eyes lost the red gleam. He looked around, as though lost, his gaze resting on his sister, exhausted and more worse for wear than he had ever seen any other. He struggled with the accursed armlets and threw them to the ground.
Betrayal stomped into the hall, fuming. She saw the Acara standing there with her shoulders drooping and her eyes tired. But she was smiling. She loathed that smile, that knowing look in her eyes that announced the battle as won. She hated the girl, yet still she bargained. “I can give you so much power, Child!” she coaxed. “I can give you wealth as well, and anything else you may want!”
“You’ve lost,” Reign stated. “Leave, now, and don’t ever show your face in this kingdom again.” The fury built up inside the faerie and she pushed all her she had into a single deadly strike. All the power of one of the greatest Dark Faeries in history was surging through the Acara. She took the one chance she had. Pouring all the power she had acquired from Morning, Reign filled the two gems with it, also redirecting Betrayal’s energy into them. The last thing Kiel saw were his sister’s eyes, once sapphire, deepening into a dark indigo. With a deafening crash the gems hit each other, and the whole kingdom was surrounded in both the brightest of lights and the darkest of shadows...
“I woke up after that with no memory,” Kelland continued to explain. “Who could have thought that the first to find me would be a thief?” He shrugged. “I was swift, had good eyesight, and great hearing. I supposed I could be quite a talented thief and decided to make a name for myself. I have now, but it’s not quite as I had once planned it.”
“And what about this thing?” Crystal pointed at her cheek. Her voice was softer now, without the hard edge it had barely concealed beforehand.
Kelland nodded. “Hang on, I’m getting there. It was during the construction of Altador that my sister reappeared...”
Kelland was pacing in circles in his room. His mind was hard at work thinking up a solution to the latest bout of thievery that had come upon the city’s outer roads. There were bandits hiding in Altador’s mountains, awaiting the tired travelers and the unarmed merchants. There was no reasoning with such thieves as far as the Techo was concerned, but King Altador had requested a peaceful way of dealing with them, and he could not say no.
Hearing hurried footsteps heading his way, the Thief ceased his pacing. Hopefully it was some messenger come to inform him that King Altador had changed his mind and was about to ask Torakar to send in a few soldiers, but he knew better. No, it would probably be a messenger from the king inquiring about whether or not he had found a solution yet. It had been three days, after all. A sharp rap on the door sounded and Kelland opened it.
An Acara stood there, her eyes staring intently at the Thief. Her breathing was heavy and labored, and she leaned heavily on the doorpost. In her arms she held a bundle. A small smile crept onto her lips as she pushed the bundle into the Techo’s arms. “I found you,” she whispered before collapsing in a heap on the ground. Kelland was about to roughly place the burden on the floor to examine the strange Acara when he heard a small cry. He looked down at the bundle to see the face of another Acara, no older than a month. Her hair was a fiery red, just like the other Acara’s, and her fur was powdery blue. Her eyes were a brilliant amethyst shade and on her cheek rested a birthmark in the form of a blossom engulfed in flames. What was so familiar about that mark?
Kelland pushed all thoughts from his mind as he focused on the elder Acara. Carefully, he placed the baby on top of his bed and pulled the girl up to lean on the doorpost. He checked her pulse, confirming that she was still alive, although barely. He then raced off to find Fauna, his mind abuzz with questions...
Fauna exited the sick bay, her face a picture of worry. Just outside, sitting on the ledge of the arch, was Kelland. In his arms slept the young Acara. “She’s weak, Kelland,” Fauna commented.
Kelland looked down as the child gave a chuckle in her sleep. He smiled. “She seems fine to me.”
“I was speaking of her mother,” Fauna continued, not being able to hold back a smile as well.
Kelland suddenly felt foolish. “Of course,” he stated, looking up. “What ails her? And do you, or anyone else here, have any idea who she is?”
“Sadly, no, I don’t know who she is, and I haven’t been able to ask around,” the Healer stated, “but I think I have found out why she is so weak.” Kelland nodded for her to go on. “At first, I couldn’t find anything wrong with her besides the fact that she seemed exhausted. Then a few moments ago Siyana came to see me and she said that the girl’s magic was overused.”
“Magic?” Kelland questioned. “The girl has magic?”
“Apparently quite a bit of magic, according to Siyana,” Fauna said. “So much, in fact, that her body was not able to handle it when she used it.”
Kelland looked down at the now-awake Acara. She was just staring up at him, contenting herself with nibbling on the blanket that held her. “What about her?” he asked. “Why wasn’t she affected?”
“I’m still not sure about that,” Fauna admitted. “She’s probably more resilient for some reason. It could also be that her mother was generally weaker.”
At that moment, the doors of the infirmary burst open and the elder Acara stumbled out. She stared at Kelland, and although she still seemed weak, her voice held such strength that it seemed she could well be one of the most powerful people Kelland had ever encountered. “Kiel, it’s me,” she stated. Kelland was at loss for an answer. “I know you don’t remember me, but you must listen carefully...”
To be continued...