Chapter Nine: The Ravens
“Kaydence! Kaydence! I got a reply, she replied” Mayfel yelled running as fast as his legs could carry him up the stairs and down the hallway to their room.
They were still staying in the tavern and had become fairly familiar with the hallways and little nooks like the door that lead to the flat roof at the back of the building where they often found themselves over the past few days, just sitting in silence watching the sun go up or down sometimes just watching the night sky with its expansion of stars and constellations.
Even from their room where Kaydence resided, he could hear the plodding footfall and yelling of his name, he was comfortably laying on the bed admiring Acuere’s details, some that he’d overlooked and others that simply brought back pieces of memories long forgotten.
The door burst open with a panting boy standing leaning against the handle to keep his body up.
Kaydence looked over to him, their plan relied on this one note and he’d be damned if their mission ended here.
“Well bring it here then I can’t read it from there you dimwit and you’re too out of breath to read it out loud” he demanded shaking his outstretched hand as a sign to hand over the envelope with a seal of the Aqua clan crest.
With a grunt and a displeased look, Mayfel smacked the paper into his hand before letting his body collapse into the comfort of pillows and bedsheets.
Kaydences slim fingers peeled off the royal blue seal as he sat up, his hand dove into the slightly stained envelope, most likely caused by rain on its journey, pulling out folded parchment and quickly opening it to read the writing scrawled across the sheets.
Eyes darting back and forth across the pages, his heartbeat picked up as did his breathing, his tongue slipped out between his lips and ran across them giving them a dampened shine.
Mayfel who sat trying to read his expressions wasn’t sure if it was good or bad news when Kaydence turned to him with wide eyes, his hands bearly even holding the pages any more.
That was until his face broke into the biggest grin he’d witnessed in his time being the man’s companion.
“The plan is a go, she’ll be waiting for us at the other side of the bridge. Mayfel this is it!” he laughed, throwing himself back onto the bed narrowly missing Acuere’s blade, not that he noticed.
“Well let’s pack then and go and get resources we could leave tonight, less people would notice that way, especially the council” he replied.
Kaydence nodded, the smile still plastering his face.
“How about I pack and you go get us food and other things we might need, I know you like shopping” he said which made Mayfel smile to mirror his own as he grabbed a bag and checked to make sure he had his money.
“I won’t be long” he said before heading out leaving Kaydence in the confines of the room, yet he didn’t feel claustrophobic or even unsettled about being left with the silence, he could make Bregan proud he could honour his death and sacrifice, he could honour his life.
“Jeanove” he grumbled, not bothering to turn around while paying.
“Did you want to go for lunch?”
“No offence Jeanove but I’m not looking to date at the moment I have serious business to attend to and you’d be a distraction also unless I dreamt it, every other time you’ve asked me that exact question I have given you the same answer. Can you remember what answer I gave you?” he said finally turning around to meet his gaze briefly before walking passed and out of the shop.
“I remember but I hoped that maybe you’d changed your mind, I haven’t seen you for a while so I was wondering if you’d thought about it” he said desperately, not because he wanted any of this but because his mother had been pushing him more since their last talk a few days ago.
“You was me yesterday and no, my answer hasn’t changed it is still no Jeanove” Mayfel replied, taking off with a steady pace in another direction.
“It’s because of him, isn’t it. The Fallen boy.” he spoke loudly making sure he heard, he did indeed hear so did a few passers-by who’s heads turned in curiosity.
He froze as his shoulders and the rest of him tensed and went rigid.
“He is my friend nothing more”
“You didn’t answer my question. You have feelings for that traitor don’t you?” he pried stepping closer.
“You don’t get to call him things like that, you are no better than them, you’re arrogant and so blind to everyone Jeanove even if I did have time I wouldn’t use my time for you now just leave me alone and say one more thing like that about Kaydence and I won’t hesitate to hurt you. Unlike you he’s shown me kindness” he said before turning away and briskly walking up the street and out of sight.
He arrived back at the tavern not long after, both bags filled with supplies.
By the time he was back in the safe space of their four-walled room Kaydence was once again casually sitting and admiring the weapon, he dumped the bags next to the others and slumped on the bed with an aggravated huff.
“Did everything go alright? Didn’t get into trouble did you?” he chuckled sheathing Acuere, it seemed Mayfel never had luck with markets seeing as when they’d met he had a row at the baker and everyone else, a fond memory Kaydence thought.
“No it didn’t go alright Jeanove caught me and tried getting me to go on a little lunch date with him. Then he had the audacity to insult you and accuse me of having feelings for you. He just won’t quit. I completely exploded and told him he wasn’t worth my time and that I don’t like him.” he exclaimed all the while flapping his arms around as if to explain his point more.
“Did you get any chocolate?”
“I know right- wait what?” he asked astounded,
“Did you get chocolate? He didn’t talk your ears off too did he?”
“Are you serious? I just told you I’m being harassed and you ask me if I got chocolate?” he said dumbfounded
“Yes, must I ask again?”
Mayfel ’s pot boiled over, he grabbed the closest pillow and launched it at Kaydences head landing it directly into his smug face.
“What was that for?” he gasped
“What was that for? That was for being an insolent pigeon!” he yelled while grasping blindly for another pillow as to not peel his deathly glare away from him.
“Pigeon? Really that’s the best you could come up with” he laughed seemingly making the younger angrier.
“Oh shut up, would you? I don’t even like you” he sighed laying back on the bed.
“That’s not what Jeanove said” he smirked, receiving a glare back.
“Hey, at least I listened. And I was only joking with you I don’t actually like chocolate all that much”
They both went silent before Kaydence started laughing, the previous events swirling on repeat in his mind, it tickled Mayfel and soon his laughs were mingled with Kaydences own.
“I can’t believe you called me a pigeon”
The buzzing and humming of nightlife, the high pitch juddering of crickets, the soft crackle of dry leaves above them, the distant sounds of cattle.
They had weaved their way onto the fields and away from the cobblestone streets for the last time, the grass and mud beneath Mayfel’s shoes and Kaydences bare feet were damp with dew and the air stilled and cooled from the bustling day, no longer warm and energising but weak and subdued.
The market came into view, countless sturdy and empty stands arranged in lines, it was barren and lifeless not to mention eerily quiet.
They passed by all the wooden structures to reach their end goal of the pens and stables, located down the far end from their current position, they kept up a steady but quick pace to savour as much time before the sun would rise as possible.
The stables were cast in complete darkness like everything else around them offering a slither of an outline as a bare minimum, the hearing had become their most essential sense since their sight was sorely lacking in the muted glow from the pale orb above them if it hadn’t been for the moon Kaydence would have run into the stable door while tripping Mayfel up in the process.
Huffs and movements could be heard indicating the steeds inside the colours and details all remaining unknown and would continue to be hidden until the sun rose in the early hours.
Kaydence wasted no time in opening the door and selecting his own horse before using his fingers to slowly assemble and fasten the equipment.
With bags arranged and then mounted idly on top they began their travels.
They would have to travel a fair way down to the border to the bridge which would be at most a day’s ride including the time to cross the bridge.
Hooves against dirt, it reminded him of the thundering skies as the thunder rolled in thick waves over and over, he’d be sat on his sofa wrapped in a cosy blanket watching the trickling of water down the windows and the flashes and slices of lightning coursing through the sky as if it were alive.
The steam would warm his senses as would the hot porcelain of the mug, he’d sit for hours just watching the skies change knowing he was safe and huddled up.
Those had been simpler times he wished he could have back, he’d trade a lot of things to have his old life back, a life where he’d train with Bregan and lay in the meadows or worked alongside the others on the crops.
But those times were long gone and only time would tell if he’d be able to get a fraction of that life back or if it truly would be just a memory.
* * *
“Two armouries here in Lirren, one in Ignis, one in Nirvariten and three in Himiratia or so our allies say” she said
“Are they all ready to implement step 1 tonight?” he replied
“From what I’ve heard, yes. We are ready. Should I send word for us to move into position?”
Seemingly thinking it over in his head he stared off blankly at the wall, they’d already made the plans but it didn’t prevent him from going over it all in his head and pondering on the question of whether it was a good idea or the right time to do it.
Looking back o her, having made up his mind he said “Do it, we attack tonight. I’ll inform Rowan if we are successful”
“Yes sir” she said and saluted in a teasing manner.
Before she could walk away however his voice called to her again saying “Oh and Helena”
“Be careful and stay close to Everette, I don’t want you getting hurt out there, it’s going to be dangerous.” he worried looking at her with fear in his eyes even though he tried to cover it up and act like the leader he was meant to be, a leader in charge of an army.
His sister was strong-willed, to say the least, she always had been even when they were children not to mention she was seriously stubborn and no matter what you said it’d end up going her way.
They’re twins, not completely identical anymore but still, they shared the raven hair and the icy blue of the ocean in their eyes, she looked a lot like their mother some would say a spitting image whereas he himself looked more like his father.
“Oh brother of mine” she smiled sweetly “Don’t you worry about me, I’ve made it this far, you can’t get rid of me so easily” her smile brightened prying a small unsure one from the male.
Ever since their parents died in the War and left them to fend for themselves he had become very protective of her, they’d been seven when they lost their guardians and even though they were the same age he took it upon himself to care for her.
“Remember to talk to me over your radio please so I can keep tabs on everyone’s position.”
“Will do now I best go and get ready and head out”
With a nod he returned his gaze to the table at which he stood, the map of the four lands spread outlined with close-ups of the armoury buildings and the land around them spread out in a not so visually pleasing manner but in a way, they could understand and see everything vital at once.
Everything was planned out down to the last possible outcome, everyone knew their job and positioning, they’d been planning for months with the help of Rowan who had leaked information from the high council itself.
Rowan had been clear on what was expected of them if he was caught- which in his position there was a high chance- they were to carry out the plans they’d set and the one being carried out tonight would hopefully begin the domino effect that would help the chances fall in their favour.
Step one had been difficult to plan, with limited visuals on the number of guards and workers as well as the interiors of the buildings meant they’d be going in blind.
Some members of their alliance had training for this kind of operation, some being ex-military like himself and his sister not to mention his second in command also.
The other ally groups placed in the other four clans were mostly the same, all holding up in abandoned buildings dotted throughout the human territory, warehouses, aircraft hangers or simply anywhere they could fortify that wouldn’t be seen as suspicious to the surrounding citizens.
In the past twenty-one years since the Trinity War, they’d created new technology, weapons, vehicles and even infrastructures.
Most had moved on from the war and were simply happy living their lives with their families instead of thinking of the past, some like himself and his allied forces wanted to coexist like before the war. Two species living in the same countries but separated by an invisible wall that neither dared cross made little sense and so much more could be accomplished without the terror of being near each other.
They were fighting against everything the high council of Lirren and their allies of humans were striving for, they knew of the schemes to overrun Evangelis to then allow for Lirren’s high council to take over their lands especially Braylen to who they knew was Rowan’s wife and mother of his child.
From what Rowan had told them in his short and vague letters- to avoid information getting out- they knew she wanted power and by running Evangelis and with it Himiratia she’d have that power, the only thing standing in her way was the other councils and the king and queen hence why she had struck a deal with the humans who wanted the same.
Power and land.
Not all humans fit into the fair folk’s stereotypes, not all of them wanted war or to be separated from those whom they loved or were friends with, but the laws put in place after the war forbid any interaction between the fae and mundanes resulting in families that had found each other again after the reset, being torn apart as well as the countries.
Since then his own species had been seen all the same, as traitors and warmongers.
He and his family of misfits- that had found him and his sister not long after they’d lost their parents and had raised them- found Rowan doing a terrible job at blending into their streets, he was obviously lost and out of his element.
They had captured him and taken him, blindfolded and gagged, to their base camp and for hours they interrogated him.
Throughout it all Rowan had given them information after finding out they weren’t part of his wife’s plans and were simply trying to survive, he had recruited them shortly after with the promise of coexistence between both species again.
With nothing else to lose they started the rebel group that spread and grew into each and every country under the noses of the councils and citizens even the king and queen themselves, they grew stronger and braver like a disease readying itself to strike the most vital areas.
They’d soon come to be known by many as The Ravens.
“Zacky are you there?” his sister’s voice rang out through the radio on the table, he grabbed it and clicked a button on the side.
“I’m here and please don’t call me that you know I hate it when you call me that in front of everyone” he muttered and released the button with a beep only to hear his sisters quiet laughter through the other end along with chuckles of another he could only put to his second in command.
“Aw is Zacky all pouty?” she teased
“No I’m not pouty I just want this mission to go as well as possible so if you’ve had quite enough could you give me your positions?” he said in a leader’s tone.
“Always work and no play” she sighs “We’re on the north side of the compound, your other snipers are placed at East, South and West and your groundsmen are awaiting your orders. Sir” she said
He marked everyone’s positions on the map before thinking the strategy through.
“Can you see any guards?” he spoke
“There are ten surrounding the compound, all carrying weapons.” she said “Everette says she can see three on the second floor through the North window and she’s contacted the others, we’re looking at about twenty to thirty targets maybe more” she informed.
“Well then what are you waiting for? Send in the strike team” he smiled.
“Yes sir” she grinned before signalling to the leader of the team on the ground with her torch.
Everette and herself were perched on top of a hill looking down at the compound giving Everette- one of their snipers- a clear shot at the targets.
She admired the concentration on the woman’s face beside her, the dark brown curls of her shortly cut afro and her toffee eyes with the swirl of orange resembling the flames of Ignis.
Even in the darkness, the orange was striking.
She watched as the strike team- part of the groundsmen group- closed in on the target, all of them wore black clothes to help them blend in with the night, ammunition pouches and a multitude of knives and guns lined their belts.
Each member of the strike team took out a handful of dynamite each stick tied together in a bunch of five others even more, in order for it to inflict maximum damage.
They crept closer until they were at throwing distance of the compound, that’s when small lights that looked like fireflies ignited and went sailing through the air disappearing beyond the walls of the building.
A moment went by before shouts could be heard followed by the deafening bang and an uproar of flames and smoke.
“It’s begun brother, I’ll see you when I get home.”