Part 70

The Birth of Prophecy

 

Novana, shocked and stunned by recent events, the lies, betrayal, death… Six weeks before her due date and she went into labor. Her waters broke as she was restrained roughly by brutal guards, bound and dragged without a care for her nearing contractions. She was pulled towards the palace chapel, the peaceful sanctuary had been violated in the most horrific manner. Corpses hung limp from rusty chains, their blood gathered in brass bowls and used to decorate the walls and ceiling and floorboards in vile magical runes, corrupt language and morbid symbols.

Fear gripped her heart as the desire to push increased, pressure building within her tummy, a rancid goat, diseased and maggot ridden was draped over the alter like a sick trophy, its slick black blood used to strengthen wards in a circle upon the floor. Terrified, Novana was stripped and painted in blood. No chains were required to hold her now as the magic spell decorating her body held her immobile. No scream, either in fear or in pain, could escape her throat.

Nine robed men, or women, she couldn’t tell, entered the ruined chapel and stood circling the struggling pregnant woman, her body craving birth, but Novana was trapped within her body, in her mind, she could only see the terrible scene evolve around her. The hooded figures started to chant, to sway, repeating a strange arcane phrase in a rolling pattern.

Carrying a severed leg, totally naked save for blood stained hands, Fendor walked into the circle. Novana knew the boot and she tasted bitter bile at the back of her throat, yet the spell even prevented her vomiting from repulsion. He used the blood from the stump to draw upon her convulsing stomach, uttering the same chant as his fellow robed companions.

Her fear was overwhelming as Fendor stirred his seed into the blood, yet she could not even shed a tear. For at one point, Novana had loved Fendor, loved him enough to carry his child, the babe now struggling to breach free too early, too premature. To be born into this gore was devastating, she wanted nothing more than death, she silently prayed to die in childbirth, to save her soul from this evil magic which was suffocating. Yet that was selfish, she needed to protect her babe but how was that possible while immobile?

Her eyes were dry now, fear and shock overwhelmed her mind as Fendor cut his child free from her womb, her mind tipped on the edge of insanity. Only the sudden cry of her tiny daughters first breath drew her back from the verge of madness, the pain was unbearable and finally there was nothing more than blissful darkness and the dwindling cries of a new born babe…

 

Anne Harrison 19.04.17

Part 69

A Chance to Kill 

 

Alleia slipped out the bed and wrapped a sheet around her slender figure, it was mid-afternoon and the sun pooled through the locked windows. She stood watching the people mull around in the courtyard beyond, once more feeling a captive in her former home. Her thoughts a jumbled web of confusion, she regretted leaving Hera with Kol, yet she had been so keen to be reunited with her Son’s Father, she had failed to consider any danger. This last twist in events caused her to fear who she could trust. Fendor had betrayed her Father with the aid of Grave, then Fendor had turned against Grave once his usefulness had come to an end. Alleia wondered how deep Fendor’s plans were set, how many layers there were to his betrayal and what his end goal ultimately was…

Everything was overwhelming, even Kane appeared to know more than he would say and her delight to be with him was overshadowed with doubt. She could no longer trust him, trust anyone…

Kane was actually sound asleep, sprawled in the sun, his breathing heavy and rhythmic. Their son,  Seizon-sha, laid upon his chest, the babe had fallen to sleep first. Tears stung her eyes, was it not for her troubled thoughts, this scene would be idyllic.

A notion to escape came into mind, to flee with her son to Hera and get aid. Glancing around Alleia noticed Kane’s discarded clothes, scattered across the floor with her own. Among the garments a blade, a knife she had seen him with before… She softly padded over the floorboards and gathered up the weapon, it felt heavy in her hand, so clumsy, she wasn’t used to being armed. It slid free easier than she anticipated, wicked and sharp.

Returning to the bed she held the edge of the blade against Kane’s throat, he didn’t move, his breathing never changed, still heavily slumbering. Alleia could quite simply cut his throat as he slept, gather her babe and run. Her eyes glanced over to her beloved Seizon-sha, could she really murder his father as they slept together. The scars which still healed were evidence of what Kane had been through himself, had he been part of this deeper conspiracy, would he have really suffered so, just to have killed Davenport, kill Pepe. Was this all part of Fendor’s plan? Was Kane so loyal to his General that he withstood torture?

Her head swan with all these questions, tears fell freely down her cheeks, frustrated, confused. The knife trembled in her inexperienced grip, nerves stole her courage.

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did.” Kane opened his eyes.

Alleia shrieked…

 

 

Anne Harrison 12.04.17

Part 68

The Mutilated Prince

 

Kol was conscious as he was restrained, back flat against a hard table, his arms bound to the table legs. His own injured legs he could barely move, if he raised his head, he could see the wicked bolts that had torn through both thighs, yet could not count their number, his slacks were stained crimson, hot blood still flowed, though the stream had started to slow. He near fainted from shock several times as he was roughly manhandled.

Two barbarian guards held him down by the shoulders causing fear to shot through his core, panic threatening to blur the edge of his consciousness as Fendor came into view, brandishing a wickedly sharp curved knife that caught the light.

“That looks painful.” he remarked, gripping Kol’s right thigh, The Prince winced. “Very nasty.” Fendor purred, gripping hold of one arrow shaft and wrenching it free violently.

Kol jolted, screaming, yet the hefty barbarians easily held him down.

Fendor ripped a second arrow free, blood pouring. Kol swooned until Fendor slapped him hard. “Stay with me, you’re not going to want to miss this part…” His smile was pure evil as he leered at the injured Prince.

Kol felt the cold steel of the knife slowly dip into the white hot injury left torn and exposed, following the track of the arrow shaft, Fendor admired how easily the new knife severed flesh, tearing into the leg to bone. Twisting the blade to cut wider, slipping through muscle, circling the entire thigh. Blood soaked the table, the floor. Kol had ceased screaming having gone into shock, trembling, jolting nerves afire as Fendor slowly severed his leg.

Yet Fendor found the bone difficult to break with the knife and reverted to a smaller hatchet. Kol lost consciousness, mercifully, as his leg was finally torn away from his body. Shock and loss of blood threatened to end his life, yet Fendor needed him alive, the stump cauterized and cleaned, yet he cruelly left the arrows in bedded in his remaining leg …

 

 

Anne Harrison 12.04.17

Part 66

Divided

 

“You are brooding.” Fendor ceased his relentless scheming when he realised his companion was not listening, just starring absently out the window, silently regarding the bloodstains that remained on the sandy arena floor.

“I’m just tired.” Kane replied, lifting his glass to his lips yet again without taking a drink.

“Don’t tell me you’ve actually falling for her, you know she will have to die.”

“Then why shouldn’t I be able to enjoy her?” He pushed the glass away. “At least until I have to kill her.”

Fendor laughed then… “And they say I’m cold hearted!”

“Well?”

“Fine, go, enjoy the woman!” Fendor chuckled, claiming the discarded drink.

“I’m taking the baby with me.” Kane stood, regarding the crib set up in the room. The babe was sound asleep after a wet nurse had settled him down following a feed.

“No. He stays where he is… Don’t!”

Yet Kane had already scooped his child up carefully, awkwardly, his inexperience evident. Completely ignoring Fendor.

“Why? Kane are you fucking stupid…”

“This way she will trust me.” He replied, “and she will continue to trust me until I crush her throat.” His coldness stopped Fendor short, instead he stepped aside, allowing Kane to take his son to Alleia…

 

***

 

Alleia was asleep, curled tightly in the far corner of the room. Her hair had stuck to her face where tears had dried upon her cheeks. Kane knelt by her side and softly brushed her hair free, he considered killing her at that moment while she slept, regarding the size of his hand and how delicate she appeared, so slender and petite. Hardly any strength would be required to snap her neck.

The baby gurgled, causing her to stir… “Kane?” She blinked… “How did you find him? Find me? What are you doing here?” She sat up reaching out for her son.

“Don’t ask me anything.”

“Why Kane?”

“Because I don’t want to lie to you.” He gathered her in his arms and simply kissed her so softly…

“You’re frightening me.” Alleia leaned into his embrace.

“You should be frightened of me.”

“And that only makes me want you more.” She whispered…

 

 

Anne Harrison 07.04.17

 

Part 65

The Rift

A stunned silence fell over the arena, only the shrill cries of Alleia’s baby shattered the still. The General nodded a command, a prearranged deception, executed flawlessly. His troops rounded up the survivors, they were bound securely and then divided to individual holding cells. Novana and Indigo both numb with shock,  Kol was barely conscious.

Kane kicked off as soon as the guards tried to restrain Alleia, Fendor anticipated his desire to protect the family he had mere moments ago been reunited with and The General circled to slam the hilt of his sword into Kane’s temple as Kane has stood to square off against the soldiers. Kane dropped like a rock.

Alleia was hysterical,  her son dragged from her arms, he was wailing, Alleia screaming in panic. Though the whole episode was over shortly, with each hostage removed, restrained and contained in different parts of the vast palace.

***

Finally only Fendor stood alone, surrounded by three bodies and an unconscious Kane…

He spat in the dust and nudged Kane with his boot. “Are you awake?”

Kane stirred, scratching his head and coughing. “You didn’t have to fucking hit me so hard.”

“It needed to be convincing.” Fendor extended a hand to help his Captain to his feet. “You look dreadful.”

“I need a drink.”

“Ooh you’re funny.”

Kane just raised an eyebrow…

“Whisky Captain?” Fendor suggested

“Aye General.”

The two men turned and left the arena, discarding the carnage behind them.
There was still much to discuss …

Anne Harrison 06.04.17

Part 64

When Nothing Would Ever be the Same Again… 

 

The timing had to be perfect… Had to be exact…

Pepe was dead, but he had outlived his usefulness. Within the arena Kane embraced his family with relief. Grave had retrieved his sword, Kaxa approached her lover. Novana watched with Indigo off to the side and Kol arrived following Alleia into the arena smiling. These were significant players in an intense game of warfare that lingered over the realm.

Closer… Kol stepped towards his sister… Patience… They all needed to be in range…

Indigo spiked first, her witch-like instincts alert and cautious… Too late…

***

A heavy barrage of arrows fell into the arena, their target was Grave, the huge man had three bolts buried deep in his back before he realised they were under attack. Kaxa screamed and ran towards him, getting caught in the crossfire herself. Four more arrows hit the giant before he fell. Kaxa was already dead.

Novana screamed and dashed forwards yet Indigo pulled her away quickly before she endangered herself and her unborn. Kol had his legs taken out from under him, skilled marksmen targeted his legs alone, bringing him down heavily into the sand.

Kane covered Alleia and the babe, arrows loosened over their heads, the baby wailing in sudden distress from the screaming and chaos…

In a matter of moments, Grave and Kaxa laid dead near Pepe’s body. Kol thrashed wildly in agony and everyone else was instantly surrounded by guards. Loyal guards in Royal uniform.

General Fendor stepped out of the shadows and approached the carnage, straightening his own uniform and slicking his hair back casually.

“Well then… This changes everything now, doesn’t it?” He smirked.

 

Anne Harrison 06.04.17

 

Part 63

Mercy

 

Pepe had not handled a sword for many a long year, preferring to fight with pen or words, his inexperience a distinct disadvantage yet he was not prepared to give up without a fight and take the cowards way out. His hope lay in the fact that Kane was still injured and he had this insane plan of action, which involved relentlessly hacking and chopping at his opponent in the lingering hope he could score a winning hit.

It was uncomfortable to watch, but Pepe persisted, raining down countless blows, without giving Kane the chance to raise his sword to attack, he even scored a clumsy strike, the crosspiece of his sword catching Kane above his eye, splitting an old injury, drawing first blood.

Kane simply kept on the defensive, allowing several wide open killing shots to slip by, almost toying with Pepe, were it not for the hammering assault, had he two blades the fight would have been over within the first opening moves. However he waited Pepe out, there was only so long he could continue with this course of action before his arms tired, his shoulders screaming with effort and he could no longer raise the blade to attack.

Panting, wiping sweat from his chin Pepe realised at that moment Kane was just waiting him out. Kane paused only to clear blood from his eye then spun low raising one leg high to kick Pepe in the side of the head, sending him reeling backwards, landing heavily the air blasted from his lungs, sword flying from his grasp.

Before he could recover, Kane had the point of his blade to Pepe’s throat…

“Mercy!” Pepe cried out in desperation.

“I will show you mercy.” Kane spoke calmly, not even out of breath. “I will show you more mercy than you ever showed me.”

He leaned on the blade, the sharp point easily penetrating the soft flesh. Pepe bucked, gurgled, blood flowing quickly, freely, pooling around his head, the thick blade near severing his head. Pepe spluttered and ceased his desperate thrashing as the sword was buried right through his neck…

***

“That possibly was more mercy than he deserved.” Grave retrieved his sword from the corpse, but Kane said nothing. He wondered how many lives he had taken on the battlefield. He recalled killing The Guardian, the man had been beaten to the point of death and his colleagues would have continued had he not shown mercy and broke his neck.

“That wasn’t mercy, that was a relief.” Kane sighed…

“Is he dead?” A soft voice inquired, soft footsteps approached the scene, soft hands circled around Kane. He held his breath, not daring to turn, yet he could not resist beyond an instant and turned to take Alleia into his arms, holding her, holding their babe securely in his arms…

 

 

Anne Harrison  06.04.17

Part 62

Conflict of Interests

 

“Are you quite sure you are fit enough for this?” Indigo watched the hands of the clock inch closer to midday, before turning to regard the injuries which still healed slowly with concern. He sat with his head in his hands, he did not look up and did not reply. Indigo sighed, so tempted to provide magical strength, but could not. An instant disqualification would mean his execution.

Grave approached, narrowed his eyes with a stern jaw, he scrutinized the lash marks on Kane’s back, still angry, still sore. The barbarian thrust his own sword into the sand by Kane’s feet. “It’s heavy, but it will serve you well.” He said, slapping Kane on the shoulder as though there were no wounds. Kane did not flinch, but he looked up then and took the hilt in both bands.

“Thank you, I don’t know what happened to my sword.” He spoke rather quietly, calmly and reserved.

Across the arena from him, Pepe paced in chain-mail, swinging a well balanced looking sword with rough chops through the air. He kept licking his top lip nervously, sweat causing his face to glisten.

At that point the clock struck twelve…

***

“I don’t want to watch them fight.” Alleia said softly to Kol. They both stood outside the arena, both painfully aware at what was at risk by this duel, far more than a love lost and broken marriage, the whole of The Northern Clan Territories and a significant force in any forthcoming conflict was being decided between two opponents.

“They do not know you are here.” Kol replied, having collected The Princess from Hera’s sanctuary on his sister’s request. His words were little comfort as she paced nervously in the sand, her son sound asleep in her arms.

“I only care for one.” She replied, clutching the old uniform jacket tighter around her bare shoulders, despite the heat of the noon day sun Alleia trembled with nerves.

Within the arena the tall clock tower struck twelve, indicating the start of the duel… Alleia flinched with each strike of the bell, squeezing her eyes shut, praying to her Gods for success…

 

 

Anne Harrison 05.04.17

 

Part 61

The Calm Before the Storm

 

Six people gathered around the table, before them coffee was brought and served. Only Pepe refused a hot drink, demanding alcohol, even though it was just past dawn. His demand was refused, so he rejected refreshments.

Circumstances were tense before Indigo arrived with Kane, now a heavy silence fell across the table as their lands stood on the pinnacle of conflict and this gathering might prove to be the trigger point or resolution.

“You realise my Father can not accept your claim to his throne.” Indigo broke the silence, her words were not unexpected. Jago had every right to inherit the crown from his Grandfather and the lands it governed.

“I see he didn’t have the balls to attend himself and sent a little girl instead.” Pepe sneered. His bitter words caused stunned expressions across the table, Pepe was supposed to be a Royalist, a devout loyal subject to King and Country.

“You knew of Fendor’s plan? To assassinate my Great-Grandfather?” Indigo narrowed her eyes. Her words were actually speculation, her family still unsure of the traitor, yet her investigation had lead her to this conclusion and the fact that Fendor had support within the court.

Pepe just smirked.

“Fendor approached us seeking allies.” Grave spoke up, spilling the truth. “We saw countless refugees make the difficult journey through the wastelands, neglecting the Capital City and heading South seeking sanctuary. The corruption within the Royal household near destroyed the people and the land. Fendor was a revolutionary, initially, he saw how great the North could be once more, but this he could not do alone.”

“Where is Fendor? Why does he not speak for himself and defend his traitorous actions?” Indigo enquired.

“He fell victim to the bottle, guilt and stress plagued his mind. His only escape was drink. He’s currently under guard while he sobers up.”

“This is ridiculous!” Pepe fumed interrupting the exchange. “Lets keep things simple shall we? The King was a corrupt bastard who had prolonged his life and his reign through magical properties. Fendor sought an end to his destruction and his life. Fendor should be ruler, not this brute! The barbarians were just brought in as muscle, not to take over!” He huffed… “I want my land back, I want my wife and the babe and I want Fendor to assume command.”

Kane tensed by Indigo’s side and she placed a hand on his arm to still his temper at the dandy’s words.

“You are in a position to demand NOTHING!” Grave was fast loosing his patience, slamming his fist on the table. “You’re a vile little coward of a man, who made underhanded bargains to secure your own comfort.” His tone raised in fury.

“How dare you… you… you..” Pepe stood, but was interrupted by Kane…

“…I dare…” He slid papers across the table as evidence, signed and sealed by Pepe with the Montoto wax seal, which placed command of The Northern Clan Territories under the leadership of Master Davenport.

Pepe shrugged…

“Davenport is dead, by Clan law what he commanded reverts to his killer as his property.”

“You?! You killed Davenport? You.. You.. should be dead… Not Davenport!” Pepe licked sweat from his top lip. “This is utter nonsense.”

“The Princess Alleia has requested a divorce.” Indigo spoke up. “Which would prevent you from any claim to her or her son.” She glanced at Kane.

“I challenge you, by combat, for the rights to your land and your wife… The babe…” Kane smiled, “He’s already mine.”

Grave laughed, a deep belly rolling howling laughter as Pepe near fainted at the words… “You can’t challenge me, you have not right!” His voice broke, a pitiful plea.

“He has every right.” Novana replied having glanced through the papers. “You see your new pretty estate falls within his boarders, so he can challenge you for all you own, including your wife… So you can either scoot away as a coward or fight with honor. Which will it be?”

 

Anne Harrison 05.04.17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 59

Peace and Magic

***

Alleia found life with Hera and Brynn out in the woods idyllic, she was able to relax and recover from her ordeal in the tower, eating lovely fresh foods, gaining a healthy weight being able to focus on her newborn feeling safe and peaceful. She knew her extended family were aware of her location and yet she was far removed from the politics and the threat of war. For once she had found some measure of happiness, dedicating herself to her newborn.

Occasionally she would find Kane in her dreams, yet in reality she believed him to be dead, aware that Pepe was a deeply jealous man and would not allow her lover to live. There was cause for concern regarding Pepe, technically she was still married to him and he had vowed to take her son away. This haunted her peace of mind, yet she also knew he was lazy, perhaps too lazy to venture beyond the safety of his new lavish coastal home to seek out the babe.

At least that was her hope…

***

The search for the missing Princess from the tower stretched out into weeks, Fendor had since replaced her in the stone room, where the weeks of solitude confinement had forced his body to sober up, yet he had instead fallen into a deep depression. Guilt haunted his thoughts and his dreams, he was never free from his troubled mind. Without the escaping bliss of alcohol he was trapped more in his mind than any lock or key.

Grave, with the two Southern Sisters, Kaxa and Novana, had the Capital City firmly under command. They re-named the City ‘Seiiki’ and finally, after long long years under the Kings crushing command, Seiiki started to flourish. The threat of war still lingered over the whole land, yet no one had made any move to act, but there were bristlings of activities evident, an increase of troops along the borders and, following Fendor’s arrest, some of his loyal guards fled the city.

Curiously the forces that Master Davenport had sent on Lord Pepe Montoto’s command had been recalled back to the Northern Clan territories. Grave considered this an interesting move for Davenport and suspected some internal conflict among the clans, he selected a few spies to venture forth and follow the retreating army and report.

The absence of Princess Alleia was correctly contributed to magic and this troubled Novana as the child she carried was interwoven in fate with Alleia’s own babe. However before they had the opportunity to investigate this magical intervention. Lord Pepe Montoto turned up spontaneously to lay claim to Alleia and her son.

 

Anne Harrison 04.04.17