My Ranking Points
You all know what this is.
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I heard a great cheer, and turned to see a large space clearing in front of the Great Tent. Mikah had taken down the knight on horseback, and he was rushing to join me where the fighting was calmer.
Standing in the center of the circle was Reina, over the bloodied corpse of King Alfred. I could see Arden, Darya and the others looking on from the sides, hopeful. We had won. Or so we thought.
Only minutes after the King went down, and we were sure we would be able to claim victory, an even more determined batch of knights arrived, the captain of the King’s Guard taking command of the army. Mikah had mostly been trying to get me to safety – or another sword – before the enemies could find and kill me.
But things were only getting worse, and while the battle had before been mostly limited to the Rogue complex, it had spread into the surrounding woods, and it seemed like no matter how far away he ran with me, we couldn’t get out.
“Let’s go back,” I panted.
“What? No! It’s too dangerous, Alina!”
“But it won’t be any worse than this,” I said, gesturing to the surrounding trees. “We can’t even attempt to locate allies out here should we be in need of help. And no will try to stop us from moving into the fighting. The King’s forces are trying to stop anyone and everyone from leaving. They want us all dead. They’ll welcome us back to where the fighting’s worst.”
“There’s a better chance of me finding a sword back where there are more people.”
He sighed, and we began to, slowly, make our way back to the heart of the battle.
I didn’t find a sword.
And by the time we got there, and semblance of the well-organized camp was gone. Everything was in shreds, and knights on horseback ran rampant, taking down large groups at a time. I didn’t even bother to look for the general… Because it didn’t matter. We were all dying.
I could see more knights cornering Devyn’s tank towards the back, attempting to force him into the trees where his size would hinder him. Reina and Arden were struggling to control the area around what had, just a few hours ago, been the Great Tent, the Court of the Rogue. Darya was near the collapsed gates, trying to organize a line of the few remaining Rogue Mages to stop further knights from gaining access to the area.
“Mikah. Get our allies to the back of the battlefield as soon as possible. I’ll meet you there.”
He looked confused, before I grabbed his hand. “Go.”
He ran. I ran in the opposite direction.
I searched desperately for anything that I could channel magic through. A sword, a spear, something that wouldn’t break immediately upon having energy pushed through it. I found nothing. Most weapons were broken, poorly made, or stuck in the corpses of fallen Knights and Rogues.
I was desperate. Truly desperate.
I couldn’t let this go on… It would all have been for naught. I could see our allies pulling back towards Devyn’s tank one by one, receiving my message that they needed to be there. It was the only place they’d be safe.
I did my best to calm down, and thought logically for a moment. I didn’t have a weapon, and didn’t have time to find one. But… My plan could still work.
There was one way for me to kill a force of this size – my magic. The thing everyone had agreed I shouldn’t use – our last resort. Raw magical energy could kill just about everything – sure, it would destroy what remained of the Rogue, but that could be rebuilt as soon as all of this was over. As soon as I was Queen. If I was alive.
Without a weapon, I could still use the magic needed to kill this many people, especially if we lured them together, which seemed to be working. But now, I’d have to channel it through my body, which, when it came down it, it could kill me.
But Mikah was here. He’d see me. He’d heal me. He’d understand why I was doing this, and though he’d scold me afterwards, it wouldn’t be real… He’d be as glad as anyone that this one-day war was over.
Our side had gathered around Devyn’s tank, keeping the King’s forces off of it and holding their ground. The opposition was quickly rallying to take them down, now that they were clumped together.
However, they faltered when I stepped in between the two sides. I had picked up a cheaply-made sword on the way over, just in case.
I glanced back towards Darya, Mikah, someone. I heard a call from our side.
“Get behind the Heir!”
I closed my eyes.
They fell back even more, as I slowly began to draw on my magic. As it began to slowly make its way through my veins, I dropped the sword. It was too late to turn back now.
As I pulled on more and more of it, it started to burn, but I was determined to contain it until it was enough.
When I opened my eyes, I looked the enemy General right in the face, to see a look of pure terror. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I later learned that in that moment, I had been glowing like some sort of messiah.
And then… I let it all go.
If the burning from gathering the power had been bad, the feeling of releasing it was worse.
It felt like I was being ripped at the seams. Fire ripped through my veins, appearing before me as waves of white, which engulfed the King’s forces.
The burning kept going, as I poured power out, not willing to risk missing a crucial enemy. But when I finally stopped, the white did not leave my vision. Everything was blurred, and though I at first still felt the burning, it slowly turned into a pleasant warmth, as I felt heavier and heavier.
My vision began to haze more and more, and soon enough I, faintly, felt head hit the earth beneath me. I had passed out before, but never like this.
I heard voices behind me, all mashing together into one.
My eyes struggled to keep open.
The white began to turn to gray.
Suddenly, the gray gained a faintly yellow hue, and I heard one voice, slightly above the rest. Just barely clear enough to make out.
“Lina? Lina… Lina! I need you to stay with me! Great Truth, what were you thinking? I… You’re… Don’t die on me Lina. Please. Don’t die on me. Don’t… Die.”
The warmth subsided for a second, before coming back, different this time. No longer was it the hazy, blanketing warmth of struggling to wake up, but rather the warmth of a hearth in the winter, the warmth that held me every night, that had protected me for years. The warmth that said ‘I love you.’ Mikah.
My thoughts began to come through clearer, and though my eyes were struggling to open, everything seemed easier, better. I felt, overwhelmingly, that all was right.
Then, quieter, as I came to, I heard Mikah again, quiter, quiet enough that only I could hear.
“That’s it. Please. Come back. I don’t… I wouldn’t live without. You can’t die, Lina. There’s so many things you haven’t done yet. You were meant to find happiness. You were meant to find peace. Y-you were meant to be a queen. You – you – you were… You promised me your hand as my wife…”
As feeling returned to my body, I could feel his tears hitting my cheeks. My eyes flicked open as the magic subsided. I was alive.
“Lina,” he gasped. “You’re… Alive.”
But even though the Mikah in front of me loved me, he didn’t seem like himself. Looking closer, I could see… He was glowing.
“Lina. We need to get away. From…” he gestured, somewhat vaguely, towards the large group of allies behind us. His grip tightened on his sword.
The fear came back.
“Mikah, I don’t know what this is, but we’re fine.”
“No. We really aren’t.”
From the group, Arden’s face in particular was full of regret and terror. She knew whatever this was.
“What’s going on Mikah? Are you… Are you okay?”
“I’m fine Alina. I’m better than ever. Just trust me, okay. You’ve never had trouble doing that in the past.”
“That’s because in the past you made sense!”
Something snapped for a second, before an arrow, fast as the wind, shot through his heart. He fell to his knees.
“Who…” I started, running forward. “Who did this?!”
A figure emerged from the trees, small crossbow in hand. “I did.”
“It is the only way to save him.”
“Make… Make sense, witch!”
“His magic was on the verge of consuming him. If that had happened, I can only imagine the chaos he would bring over Veritaria. Eventually, not even you would be safe. My Queen.”
Many realizations hit at once.
“Then bring him back.”
“Bring him back. He brought me back. His magic is your magic. So you can bring him back. I’m ordering you… As your Queen.”
“That can’t be simply done. Especially not while the Vitalis is a part of him.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. But whatever it is that’s stopping you… Bring him back.” Then, much quieter, broken. In a voice I was ashamed to show to anyone… “Please.”
She knelt down, taking Mikah’s hand in hers, and slowly, the gold glow returned to his skin, before fading. Dimmer, dimmer… Until the only part that glowed was where Faye’s hand held his.
As his glow faded, Faye’s steadily began to glow.
As Mikah blinked awake, Faye stepped back.
“I’m sorry, my Queen.”
“I never intended for this to happen. I shall attempt to flee as far as possible before it takes over… But I cannot say how long I will be able to hold on. What took him is beginning to take me, as well. I…” she grimaced, struggling to keep control of herself. “I bid you farewell. Pray that you do not see me again.”
She vanished off into the woods.
I looked back down to Mikah to see him blinking awake in confusion.
His eyes were a painfully ordinary brown.
Knights & Knaves
Alina Verdan Lazur
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