The small group stared at the guards facing them and waited. They were vastly outnumbered and the pirate was more concerned in protecting Emma than actually engaging in a senseless fight.
A bout of dizziness hit the blonde as she stood next to Killian and he pulled her even closer to him when she swayed slightly.
"You all right, love?" he murmured in her ear.
She nodded then gasped as the movement caused the pounding in her skull to intensify. She stilled as a wave of nausea rolled through her body then finally let out a slow breath when it had passed without her losing her breakfast.
Killian looked at her in concern wishing he could do something to alleviate her discomfort but then his attention was drawn to the guards as they suddenly began to move apart to allow someone to approach.
"Gisbourne," Robin suddenly sneered in dislike as the dark haired man sauntered towards them carrying Myrddin's Staff.
"Loxley," Gisbourne acknowledged coldly as he came to a halt then glanced over at Regina. With obvious distaste he continued, "I had a feeling I'd find you here being that you're playing consort to the Evil Queen now...and here I thought you couldn't stoop any lower."
"You would do well to watch your mouth," Robin bit out as he took a step towards the other man.
"I hardly think you are in any position to tell me what to do," Gisbourne countered sardonically as he gestured to the men behind him, "Do you?"
"I could pierce your heart before a single man of yours gets anywhere near me," the archer threatened grimly, lifting his crossbow.
The men behind Gisbourne moved forward immediately but he raised his hand to stop them and retorted harshly, "And this staff could turn you to dust before you even tried."
Robin stared at his enemy a moment longer then glanced over at Regina. She gave him a slight nod, letting him know that the villain's claim was true and he reluctantly lowered his weapon.
The others noticed that the archer's silent communication with the Queen seemed to infuriate Gisbourne and they soon realised why when the raven-haired man strode up to him with a cruel smile. Leaning in close, he queried in a voice just loud enough for all to hear, "I wonder if you will so quick to seek her opinion again when I tell you that she murdered your wife?"
"Marian?" Robin gasped in shock. He stared back at Gisbourne then shook his head as he vehemently denied, "No! You're lying."
"Am I?" the other man countered icily before looking at the Queen, "Why don't you ask her?"
"I don't have to because I know she didn't do it," the archer reiterated tersely.
"Such devotion," Gisbourne scorned, "What a shame you didn't show the same for Marian. Maybe she would still be here if you had and not burned at the stake for protecting Snow White."
Regina let out a horrified gasp and Emma felt her stomach drop when she saw the colour drain from the other woman's face. While she and the Queen rarely saw eye to eye it didn't stop the pang of compassion she had over the heartbreaking circumstances she knew they were all about to bear witness to.
Upon hearing her, Robin turned to gaze at Regina. One look at the pained, sorrowful expression on her face was all the devastating confirmation he needed to know that Gisbourne was telling the truth after all.
"I always said that choosing you over me would get her killed," Gisbourne continued taunting harshly, "I loved her while you...you failed in your duty as her husband and then dishonour her memory by aligning yourself with her murderer."
"No, please," Robin pleaded in an agonised tone as he stared miserably at Regina, "Please, just tell me that it's not true."
"Robin, I..." Regina began then shook her head as tears began to brim in her eyes, knowing she was unable to deny the accusation.
She took a step towards him but he immediately backed away, the confusion and pain clear on his face as he tried to deal with Gisbourne's revelation.
The Queen stopped then, her face briefly registering her anguish before she visibly got control of her emotions and turned to Gisbourne, her tears replaced by a burning hatred. Without warning she raised her hand and launched a fireball right at the raven-haired man.
Gisbourne reacted quickly and moved the staff in front of him smiling malevolently as the fire was absorbed by the jewel.
"You can't hurt me with magic," he told her nastily, "Not when I have Myrddin's own staff in my possession." He began to slowly circle around her, eyeing her with disdain as he continued, "I consulted with many a mage and sorceress to seek this out after you killed Marian. I had just retrieved it when I got caught up in your infernal curse only to return years later an outcast in my own realm. It took me months to regain Prince John's trust and control his army once more only to come back to this kingdom to find you had gone. Again. I knew you must have returned to Storybrooke but I didn't know how to reach you…fortunately for me you solved that little conundrum yourself." He came to a halt in front of her then added arrogantly, "And now, here you are, powerless against me just as Marian was against you. Just as you showed her no mercy, nor shall I, you. I'm going to take your power and then I'm going to take your life."
"You'll have to go through me first," Charming suddenly declared, surprising Regina as he instinctively moved to protect her.
"And me," Emma stated, straightening up defiantly even though she still felt a little unsteady.
"Looks like you've got a fight on your hands, mate," Killian commented as he drew his sword and made sure to angle himself between the other man and Emma.
Gisbourne glanced at them all unmoved by their solidarity then signalled his guards to attack as he drawled, "So be it."
Emma watched in horror as the room erupted into chaos and the guards surged towards them. Her father and Killian immediately raised their swords; the sound of metal striking metal echoing loudly around the room as they bravely engaged the first of the foe. She sent a panicked glanced over at Robin and felt a modicum of relief that he finally seemed able to rouse himself out of his pained stupor enough to realise he had to fight.
Still feeling a little light-headed, she did her best to summon what power she could and shot out a blast of white magic into the group of guards that sent a fair few of them flying across the room. Killian flashed her an elated grin, the pride obvious in his eyes if only for the briefest moment before he turned back to face another couple of guards.
She raised her hands again and was just about to send out another blast when suddenly, a searing pain sliced through her body causing her to cry out agony. She fell to her knees and tried to catch her breath but it felt as though a thousand white-hot daggers were pricking her skin all at the same time. She gasped, her head pounding as she tried to draw in air while feeling as though her very soul was being ripped forcibly from her body.
Somewhere in the distance, she hazily heard Killian call her name and then she recognised the familiar drag of her magic slowly draining out of her. Dimly she realised that it must be Myrddin's staff at work. Forcing her gaze to Regina, her suspicions were confirmed when she saw Gisbourne leaning over the queen, the gem atop the staff glowing ominously.
Pain coursed through her again. It wasn't like the first time it had happened to her when she'd touched her lips to Killian's and enacted the Wicked Witch's curse. That had been quick; a rush almost, probably because she'd accepted it, was happy to lose it even because she knew it would save him.
But this…this was something else.
An agonising pull on her entire being as her magic was literally wrenched from her inch by excruciating inch. Magic that she desperately tried to cling on to because she knew she didn't want to be without it again.
She heard Killian call urgently for her once more, nearer now, the fear in his voice palpable and she used every last bit of willpower she possessed to turn her head and look at him.
He was running towards her, panic and concern clear on his face, making him careless as a guard came at him from the side, swinging his blade. She tried to call out but her throat was too tight and all she could manage was a whimper as dread filled her at her helplessness.
It was her father's voice that finally bellowed out an urgent alert to the pirate who turned right at the last moment, eyes widening when he saw just how close the other man was and tried to dodge the sweep of his sword. He grimaced and let out a hiss of pain as the tip sliced through the left sleeve of his coat and cut his arm underneath, drawing blood. Killian angrily lashed out with his hook, knocking the weapon out of the man's grasp then lunged his own sword forward, the blade slipping cleanly into the side of his assailant. The guard doubled over clutching at his injury and the pirate shoved him down onto the floor before turning his anxious gaze back to Emma.
"Just hold on, love," he shouted above the noise of the fighting, "I'm going to stop him."
Her mind fearfully screamed at him not to go but then she felt something spark deep inside her as his impassioned words caused her remaining magic to unexpectedly surge and ignite. Watching him cut a path through the guards towards Gisbourne and desperate to help him it suddenly hit her what she had to do. Her emotions had always played a big part in her abilities and never more so than when loved ones were in danger. Her power had come back because of what she felt for Killian and it was reacting now because of him too.
Staring at the pirate, she used him as her anchor while she did her best to try and ignore the pain long enough to let all the love she'd been hesitant to show for him pour out from her heart. Instantly she felt her power within begin to respond. The heat of it welling up, gathering momentum as it raced through her veins and pooled in her chest. The pressure built higher and higher, her magic swirling around and around her body until it burst out of her in one shocking blast of blinding white light.
The ball of energy shot through the air and hit the staff with enough force to wrench it from Gisbourne's hand. It fell to the ground and everyone seemed to pause and watch as the white magic crackled like lightning up and down the mahogany pole before racing up and encircling the large sapphire, causing it to glow. Brighter and brighter it shone, the light burning Emma's eyes and then, suddenly, the gem exploded into a thousand pieces releasing all of the power it contained.
Everyone was pushed forcibly to the ground as magic shot out in all directions, every colour of the rainbow swirling around in the air before dispersing outwards shattering windows and doors in its wake as it sought out its owners once more.
Emma gasped as hers returned with a rush and she fell forward trying to support herself on shaky arms. And unexpected wave of exhaustion overcame her blurring the edges of her vision as everything around her began to grow darker, the excessive use of her power taking its toll.
Distraught at losing the staff, Gisbourne suddenly let out a shout of unadulterated rage then grabbed a nearby fallen sword and got up. Barely missing a beat to strode over to Regina and brandished the weapon above his head.
"Look out," called Killian as he jumped to his feet and dashed towards them.
His cry alerted the queen to the danger and she looked up in time to see Gisbourne swinging the sword down upon her. Too weak to do more than hold up her hands in a vain attempt at defending herself, she let out a gasp of surprise when a bolt suddenly flew swiftly over her head and embedded itself in Gisbourne's heart.
Stunned, the villain let out a gurgling groan as the sword slipped from his hand and fell on the stone ground with a dull metallic clang. Clutching fruitlessly at his chest his eyes rolled back then he crumpled to the floor in a heap, exhaling one last rattling breath before he died.
Killian looked over at Robin who stood with his crossbow still aimed at where Gisbourne had just been standing. Swallowing hard he felt for the other man when he saw the conflicted expression that he wore. It was only made worse when Regina stood and took a couple of steps towards him offering her thanks but the archer quickly shook his head and held his out to stop her coming any closer.
Unable to watch any further, the pirate turned his head in search of Emma as all around them the guards started to slowly get back to their feet. His heart missed when he saw her laying face down upon the floor and he rushed over, roughly pushing the now passive guards out of the way in his haste to reach his love.
He knelt down by her side and checked her pulse. Relief washed over him when he found it steady and strong beneath his fingertips and he realised from her even breathing that she was merely asleep.
"Is she okay?" asked Charming in concern as he joined him and looked down at his daughter.
"Aye. Using her magic like that must have taken it out of her," the pirate replied as he gathered her into his arms and stood up, "She just needs some rest."
"Let's get her up to one of the bedrooms," the prince decided then nodded at the men that were filing out of the room and continued pointedly, "I've spoken to the captain of the guard here and with a little extra coercion from Regina we've reached an understanding. He and his men are leaving the castle now and taking a message for Prince John with them."
Killian followed his gaze over to where a few of the guards were picking up Gisbourne's body and shook his head.
"I always said that revenge was an end and not a beginning," he muttered derisively.
Charming glanced over at him and sighed.
"I really don't think he cared about that."
"I know. He just wasn't fortunate enough to find something else worth living for," the pirate stated quietly.
"Something? Or someone?" the prince countered with a raised brow.
The pirate merely gave him a wry smile back then adjusted the sleeping woman in his arms to a more comfortable position before heading off to seek out a room where she could get some much-deserved rest.