The Tale of Edgar and Essa
Tedros storms towards a stymph and climbs onto it. “The stymphs are assembled. If we want to attack, now’s the time, when Rhian’s still reeling from the first attack.”
Alison shakes her head. “What about Ruby?”
“She’s going to be in danger whenever we attack. We need to do it while Rhian is on the defensive. Any more time and he’ll win.”
Elena steps forward. “He… has a point. It’s the perfect time. Every cloud has a silver -”
“I don’t care! She needs to be safe!”
Tedros pulls her towards his stymph, and Essa steps forward from where she is hidden behind a huddle of students. “Alison can go on my stymph. You can take… her.” She pulls Rafaela out from behind her. “Go on.” Rafaela stumbled towards him.
“I don’t want her.” He spits the word ‘her’ in Rafaela’s direction, filling it with all the hatred he feels at than moment. Her face falls, and he feels guilty.
“I don’t care. Stop acting like a baby and get onto the stymph.” Essa jumps onto the lead stymph, gesturing for Alison to come on with her. “The rest of you, follow. We’re going to fly.”
At that same moment, Fifer is leading Beatrix down a passage. “This one comes out in a stone room inside the castle.”
Fifer shrugs. “The old king knew the value of a good escape route. They’re everywhere if you know where to look. And we know where to look.”
“How?” Beatrix is walking at double-speed, and she is still behind her, falling back. “Could you slow down?”
She slows, but only slightly. “There are servants paid to not tell anyone about the escape routes.”
“How do you know?”
“We pay them more.”
Beatrix smiles. “Cool.”
Fifer reaches a solid stone wall and presses a corner. The slab swings around, revealing a room made entirely out of stone, the corner of something that Beatrix can’t quite see – and something else, because Fifer closes the door immediately. “The other door’s locked. We can go back and come in at the balcony. It’s better and easier anyway.”
Beatrix pushes forward. “Why? What’s in there?”
“What’s not in there. An open door.”
“You’re not telling me the truth.”
“There’s a good reason for it.” Fifer whispers to Kiko and Reena quickly.
Kiko nods. “Bea, maybe you… shouldn’t… go in there.”
Beatrix presses the wall, but it doesn’t open. “What is in there?”
“Just come!” Fifer pulls her away from the wall, dragging her into a different tunnel. “Come with me!”
Beatrix follows her, but she knows that she will come back later to see whatever Fifer is so desperate for her not to see.
She looks back to see Reena and Kiko having a whispered conversation. “Do we tell her?”
“I don’t think so. It would only distract her.”
“But she deserves…” Reena lowers her voice and Beatrix can’t hear her.
Beatrix waits for them. “You need to tell me what was in there.”
They share a panicked glance. “Nothing!” Kiko squeaks.
“Ruby,” Reena admits.
“What’s the problem?” Beatrix frowns. “Why can’t I see her?”
“She’s not… in a good state. She’s… worse than
we’ve ever seen her.”
Beatrix breaks into a run, but Godfrey grabs her arm. “We need you.” She fights against him, and for a moment she looks frail, not like the girl trained in swordplay for a term, not like the girl who rescued dozens of people from the Snake.
“Bea, if you help us now, then you’ll be able to help her. If you go now, then Rhian might stay in charge forever,” Reena says.
She stills, and starts walking towards them. “Fine.”
Fifer smiles. “Then let’s get on with it.”
They walk down the passage, Fifer seeming to know the way without even a lamp. “Here.” She pushes a part of the brick wall away, leaving a gap wide enough for one person to walk through at a time. “Rhian’s there.”
At that moment, Rhian hears something, and looks towards the new hole in the wall, and they have no choice but to go out.
Beatrix steps forwards, slapping him across the face, but he doesn’t react. “Hello, Beatrix, Reena, Kiko.”
Godfrey towers over him, and Rhian has the good sense to look scared. Still, he feigns bravado. “I’ve won. You may as well stop fighting.”
“It looks like we’re winning.”
Rhian gestures to the gathering crowd in the town square below. “I’ve got them on my side.”
Beatrix spins around as she hears another voice. “Not for long.” The man that limps onto the balcony is weak, but the look in his eyes is determined. But Beatrix isn’t paying any attention to him – no, her eyes go straight to the sword at his side. “Excalibur,” she breathes.
“That’s a fake,” Rhian says immediately. “Where’s Edgar?”
The man grins. “Poisoned.”
“The sword that you are carrying is fake!” Rhian shouts. He produces another sword, the twin to Excalibur.
Rhian advances on the man, showing impressive swordsmanship. The man falls back, trying to escape Rhian’s sword. “Stop!” Rhian doesn’t stop – instead, he moves forwards, still swinging his sword. Beatrix gasps as she sees blood well from the man’s leg, but Rhian still doesn’t stop there – he drives the sword straight through the man’s heart.
He dies instantly.
Beatrix runs forward, taking Excalibur from his hands. “You can’t prove that that’s the real Excalibur,” Rhian says.
“No. But I can.” Beatrix turns around to see a tall, blond man climbing from a stymph.
“Father?” Rhian breathes. “Rafi?” Beatrix notices that there are more stymphs behind the new man – King Arthur? “Tedros?”
King Arthur walks to the edge of the balcony, the crowd cheering louder than they ever did for Tedros or Rhian. “Rhian faked Excalibur. He is not the eldest son. Tedros is.”
Beatrix looks at Rhian. His mouth is open, and his eyes on fire. He raises the sword and walks towards his father. “Watch out!”
It is too late.
Rhian drives the sword through his father’s back, and Arthur falls over the balcony to land on the hard cobblestones below.
“My father is lying. I am the true king!”
A girl who bears a slight resemblance to Rhian pushes him out of the way. “He was not lying.” Beatrix can hear the confused murmurs of the crowd from here. “My name is Rafaela Pendragon-Gremlaine, and I am Rhian’s sister. He was telling the truth – Tedros was the eldest son. But I am older than him by an hour. Let’s see what Excalibur thinks.”
She takes the sword from Beatrix and plunges it into the stone wall. Rhian walks forwards first, and pulls at it – but nothing happens. Then Tedros.
Rafaela takes the hilt and pulls it. Still nothing happens.
“Tedros.” He frowns, confused, and she gestures him forwards. They both pull at the same time.
Excalibur slides out like a knife from butter.
Rhian’s mouth twists as he looks at Tedros. “You’ve lost your father.” A girl with wine-red hair and eyes of the same colour. “You’ve lost the person you thought was your brother.” And someone else, plain with dark skin and black hair. “Alison, I killed one of your best friends.”
Alison runs towards him, snatching Excalibur. Rhian doesn’t have time to duck as the sword swings towards his head.
But someone is already there.
The girl who has saved his life clutches her face, shell-shocked by the blood seeping through her fingers. “Anastacia!” An older lady with greying hair wraps her arms around Anastacia.
But Tedros and Rafaela don’t notice.
They are stood by the edge of the balcony, their hands clasped and held up for the whole of Camelot to see.
The Lion and the Eagle.
~End of Part One~
THERE WILL BE A PART TWO
Sorry, I haven’t been keeping up! Can you post a doc with all the chapters in it for me if you can?
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