Chapter 10: Plans
Mori flitted through the dark throne room in the Castle Agaru Gurtha until her dark purple light illuminated two faces at the head of the throne.
“My lady,” the Dark Fairy called.
“What?” Uaine groaned. “What could be so important that you would interrupt my moment with General Rada?”
“The king’s first mate went to Edan,” Mori explained as Uaine craned her neck back, allowing Rada to trail sloppy kisses over her neck as she straddled his lap while he sat in her red marble throne. “She told Fry, Zeller and the Griffin General Velaro of the King’s behavior. Verlaro volunteered to report it to Blackwood and the Enuria.”
Uaine sighed and laid her head on Rada’s shoulder as she ran her fingers down his arm before saying, “Our arrangements aren’t ready yet. We need a bit more time for preparation.”
“Perhaps we should send a hindrance for Velaro?” Rada suggested, fiddling with a lock of Uaine’s hair and she looked up at him in surprise as he smirked, “Maybe Keiji could catch up to him?”
“Velaro is on his way to Roch where Blackwood and the Enuria are,” Mori reported as Uaine smiled and kissed Rada again before turning to Mori.
“Find Keiji,” she ordered. “Tell him to stall Velaro any way necessary.”
“It will be done, my lady,” Mori said and flitted out of the room as Uaine turned back to Rada, nipping at his lower lip.
“That was a very good idea, my sweet,” she murmured.
“I have my moments,” he smirked.
“Rada, I want you to be with Jellina when she fights that girl,” she ordered, making Rada look at her in shock. “General Blackwood will no doubt be with her. You’ll have a chance to kill him.”
Rada grinned and pulled her a little closer, growling, “You know exactly what to say to me, my lovely.”
“I know what you like to hear,” she chuckled before his mouth crashed into hers.
Elias and Zoey rode silently through the Edhel forest, the morning sun shining through the leaves of the trees making little rays of light hit the grassy ground beneath Phantom’s hooves. Zoey leaned back on Elias as he held the reins in front of her while she slept.
“We’re almost there,” Phantom reported. “You should wake her up.”
“Why?” Elias wondered. “She’s so peaceful. Leave her be until we meet up with General Xaunder.”
“You really love her, don’t you?” Phantom snorted, making Elias jab his heel in the horse’s side. “Oi! That hurt!”
“Of course,” Elias smirked, triumphantly. “It was supposed to.”
Zoey suddenly groaned and snuggled closer to Elias. He couldn’t help but pull her closer and nuzzle his face behind her ear, making her giggle as her eyes fluttered open.
“Wha—?” she breathed in a raw voice as she sat up a little straighter. “Where are we?”
“On our way to the Elf encampment,” Elias replied.
“Elves?” she smiled, looking up at Elias and he nodded. “Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“You were so ‘peaceful,’ he didn’t want to wake you,” Phantom replied and Elias jabbed him with his heel again. “Ouch!”
Zoey giggled and kissed Elias’s chin before snuggling against him again. Elias smiled and rested his chin on her shoulder to whisper, “Did you sleep well, Angel?”
“Yes,” Zoey nodded. “I had a nice dream.”
“Really?” he murmured into her ear, “Tell me.”
“I can’t,” she giggled. “Your horse is eavesdropping.”
“Go ahead and tell him, love,” Phantom replied. “I’ve probably heard worse.”
“Do you ever shut up?” Elias growled.
Instead of answering, Phantom came to a stop and Elias looked to his horse in confusion before looking around as well.
“What is it?”
“I hear something,” Phantom replied, his ears moving in all directions.
Elias and Zoey looked around as they stayed very still. Phantom suddenly turned his head to the right and the couple looked to the same direction. In the shadow of a huge tress was a figure in a long, hooded, canvas cloak, a bow in his hand and a quiver of arrows strapped to his back.
“General Blackwood,” a deep, male voice called. “What brings you to Edhel Forest?”
“The war,” Elias sighed. “And a need to shelter the Enuria.”
“I got word from Herne that you would be heading my way,” the figure replied, walking toward them. “Is she the one?”
“Zoey Walsh, say hello to General Elastan Xaunder,” Elias introduced, holding a hand toward the figure. Elstan pulled down his hood to reveal short sand blonde hair and ice blue eyes with slits of black down the middle of the irises, pointed ears emerging from his tousled hair.
“It is a pleasure to meet the Savior of Kalina,” Elstan smiled, taking her hand and kissing it, politely.
“Th-Thank you,” Zoey sputtered, a blush on her cheeks. The Elvin General smiled again and turned to Phantom, releasing Zoey’s hand to pat the horse’s neck.
“And how are you, Phantom?” Elstan wondered. “Still driving Elias nuts?”
“More than ever,” Elias muttered and Zoey giggled.
“I hope so,” Phantom replied and felt Elias lift his foot to jab his side again, but Phantom retorted, “You hit me again, I’ll buck you off my back and onto the ground, bum first.”
Elias sneered and lowered his foot as Elstan took Phantom’s bridle and said, “Come with me, and follow close.”
“Why is General Elstan so familiar with Phantom?” Zoey whispered to Elias.
“He gave him to me,” Elias replied. Elstan turned and smiled at Zoey making her frown in confusion as he turned back. “Elves have excellent hearing. Don’t be surprised if he hears some things you whisper.”
“So you’re saying I should be careful about what I say when I’m talking all lovey-dovey with you?” Zoey smirked, but she looked ahead in realization and she looked to him with wide eyes as she slid a hand over her mouth. Elias stared at her with wide eyes as well as Elstan simply led Phantom through the forest toward his camp.
“Love?” he breathed.
“I-It’s a phrase,” Zoey sputtered. “They use it…where I come from. It’s the way people…dote on each other. I think that’s the word you would use.”
“Oh,” Elias sighed then nodded, “Yes, that is the word.”
“I’m sorry if I scared you,” Zoey murmured. “Sometimes I forget who I’m talking to.”
“It’s alright,” he smiled, warmly. “Some of the newcomers do the same thing.”
Zoey nodded as she still looked up at Elias, she noticed a figure in a cloak like Elstan’s standing on the limb of a tree. She looked ahead to see more Elves bustling around tents with horses and weapons.
“Welcome to the Elvin Army, Angel,” Elias whispered into her hear. “Elstan’s legion.”
“I can see that,” Zoey smirked as Elstan stopped Phantom and walked to the two on the saddle.
“Miss Zoey,” Elstan entreated, holding his hand to her.
“Thank you, she smiled, taking his hand as she swung her leg over to slide down. Elias dismounted as well and took Phantom to a hitching post with other horses tied to it.
“Would you like your own tent?” Elstan asked Zoey as she watched Elias walk away.
She turned to the Elf General with a start before smiling sweetly, “Elias and I…”
She trailed off, not knowing if Elias would want anyone to know that they were ‘doting’ on each other.
“I understand,” Elstan nodded. “He can protect you properly if you share a tent. Correct?”
“Uh…yeah,” Zoey breathed with a slight nod.
Elstan nodded and Zoey suddenly saw a purple light flit around his head, making her smile.
“Coria, is that you?” she giggled.
Elstan frowned in confusion as he looked around him, turning and spotting the Sleep Fairy.
“Coria,” he smiled, holding up a finger she could perch on. She landed on his finger and he brought her close to his face. “I haven’t seen you in a while. How are you, my sweet?”
“I’m well,,” Coria replied, floating into the air and touching his nose making him chuckle as she floated into the air again.
“Zoey!” Elias called drawing hers and Esltan’s attention. He was standing near a tree on the edge of the camp. “Come here! I have something to show you!”
Zoey frowned in confusion and after excusing herself from Elstan’s presence, she ran toward him. He held his arms out as she ran into his arms, throwing her arms around his neck. He chuckled as she pulled away to look at him with a bright smile.
“What is it, Elias?” she wondered, her hands on his shoulders.
Instead of answering her, Elias gently placed his hands on her cheeks and pressed his lips to hers, his eyes closed. Zoey moaned in contentment as she pressed into him, wanting him to be closer to him, closing her eyes as well. They slowly pulled away and Zoey smiled with a sigh.
“Is that what you wanted to show me?” she murmured.
“Actually, that was half of it,” Elias smiled.
He placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her around to face the tree in front of him. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders as he placed his chin on her shoulder as well.
“What am I looking at?” she asked, looking around.
“You see that white flower up on the branch?” Elias whispered in her ear.
Zoey looked up on one of the branches of the tree in front of her and saw a four petaled flower that looked familiar to her.
“That lily up there?”
“Yes,” Elias nodded. “Can you get it?”
“Not while you’re holding me like this,” she smirked.
“Try,” he murmured into her ear. “I’m not letting you go.”
Zoey chuckled and raised her hand to the flower. She thought of what she wanted and the flower gently came off the tree to float down toward them. Elias lifted his hand and Zoey let it land there. He placed the lily in her hair above her left ear, making her giggle as she turned to face him as he took her hands in his.
“Lovely,” he whispered and Zoey giggled, blushing as he kissed her hands.
“What’s gotten into you?” she smiled, placing her hands at the curves of his neck. “Once we got here you…” She trailed off for a moment before murmuring, “Are you…doting on me?”
Elias glanced around as if distracted then looked back at Zoey with a smirk, replying, “Perhaps. Do you mind?”
“No,” Zoey giggled. “I’m just wondering what brought it on.”
“The Elves bring out the romantic side of me, I suppose,” he smiled, closing in on her lips. He suddenly froze and Zoey frowned in confusion.
“What is it?” she wondered.
“I almost forgot,” he murmured in a smirk. “You were supposed to sing for me.”
“Right now?” Zoey sighed, hoping he had forgotten.
“You promised, Angel,” he reminded her, leaving an Eskimo kiss on her nose.
Zoey sighed and nodded them grinned as a light bulb went off in her head and she wrapped her arms around Elias’s neck.
“I’ll sing for you,” she agreed. “But you have to sing for me, too.”
Elias stared at her in astonishment before nodding and swallowing in nervousness, making Zoey smile widely and leave a grateful kiss on his lips. He sat on the ground and she leaned back on a tree, taking a deep breath to begin her song. Elias smiled, closing his eyes to enjoy the sound of her voice, making Zoey smile at him, but she didn’t move as she continued. It was a short song, but it was enough to make him smile as she hit every note perfectly, and he couldn’t believe the chills that ran up his spine when she hit the very last note and held it just as perfectly as the others.
His eyes opened when Zoey suddenly sat next to him, a worried look on her face as he looked back at her.
“What’s wrong?” she wondered, running her fingers over his cheek.
“Nothing, Angel,” he smiled warmly, touching her hand with his. “I was so mesmerized by your lovely voice, I wanted to savor it.”
“Elias!” Zoey giggled, leaning her forehead on his shoulder, still giggling. “You’re making me blush!” She looked up at him with am embarrassed smile on her lips, a red blush on her cheeks. “Do you enjoy doing that?”
“Yes,” Elias murmured, nuzzling the side of her head, making her giggle.
“Your turn,” Zoey whispered, closing her eyes to savor the feeling of his lips suddenly kissing her neck. “You have to sing for me, now.”
“Must I?” he murmured back. “I would much rather stay her…like this.”
Zoey shivered but she managed to push him away to look him in the eyes.
“I want to hear you sing, my Masked Knight,” she whispered and he sighed, knowing she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
Elias stood, but for Zoey held his hand to keep him from walking away, making him look down at her in confusion.
“What’s wrong, Angel?” he wondered, kneeling down next to her again.
“I…” she trailed off for a moment before resuming, “I want you to stay near me.”
Elias couldn’t help but smile warmly and sat next to her, gathering her in his arms and nuzzling his cheek to the top of her head.
“Sing for me?” she requested, timidly and Elias smiled taking a deep breath.
Zoey smiled and sighed in contentment as Elias began singing and she snuggled closer to him. Elias pulled her a little closer, still singing. It was a short song, like the one she had sung, and when it was over, Zoey sighed again.
“That was wonderful,” she smiled as he kissed her temple then snuggled his cheek to the side of her head.
“You cared for Eona, didn’t you?” Zoey wondered.
“Yes,” Elias sighed, hugging her. “For a time, I was very much in love with her.”
“For a time?” she wondered, feeling a pang of jealousy in her heart.
“Yes,” he replied. “But it was a very long time ago. I was young and it was before I began wearing this mask.”
Zoey had to fight the urge to ask him about his mask again and Elias seemingly sensed her inner conflict.
“That’s enough of my life story for today, Angel,” he whispered, making her look up at him in surprise. “We should prepare out tent for tonight.”
General Velaro glided through the air toward Roch. He had to tell Elias and Zoey what the King was planning to do. A shadow suddenly flew over him and he looked up to see Keiji above him, diving toward him. Velaro screeched in pain as Keiji’s claws dug into his back and wings. The dragon grabbed Velaro’s face roughly and roared at him as the griffin struggled to be free and tried to scratch at Keiji with his talons and pecking at him with his beak. Keiji grabbed a hold of Velaro’s front and hind legs then dove straight down, Velaro first. The griffin tried to free himself without any luck.
Dust and dirt filled the air as the two landed on the ground, hard. Keiji stood away from Velaro as the griffin tried to get up, but the dragon head-butted his side, sending him across the ground and he hit a tree with a grunt of pain. Velaro tried again to get up and Keiji hit him in the face, tossing him like a rag doll to the side. The griffin fell fully to the ground, unconscious and Keiji stood over him triumphantly with a sneer then turned and flew away.
Zoey scanned the trees around her carefully, poised to defend herself with Elias’s sword, listening intently for any sort of sound. She suddenly felt cold steel on her neck and lifted her head to avoid being cut.
“You’re too good at this,” Zoey smirked as she gave a sideways glance to Elstan.
“You can learn, Miss Zoey,” he smirked back lowering his blade and backing away as she turned to face him. “Tinechor is a skill passed down from generation. A skill learned through years of training.”
“That doesn’t make me feel very confident about learning it,” Zoey muttered, leaning on Elias’s sword.
“But you are the Enuria,” Elstan reminded her. “You can learn it easily, I’m sure.”
“Aren’t you, a flatterer,” Zoey smiled then stood at attention. “Ok, show me Tinechor.”
Elstan nodded and stepped next to her, sheathing his long knives and explaining, “First, you must feel the rhythm of the things around you. Everything has a rhythm and once you find it, you can disguise and hide yourself in it. That is Tinechor.”
“Rhythm, got it,” she nodded.
Zoey closed her eye, listening to everything around her. The howl of the wind. The rustle of the leaves through the trees. Rhythm. She opened her eyes slowly, still able to hear everything around her. Elstan was gone, but she knew he was around. She scanned the trees and shot her gaze toward a glint of silver behind a tree.
The whistling of the breeze disguised her first step. Her next step was hidden by the rustle of a branch and before she knew it, all the sounds of the forest hid her footsteps as she came closer to where the glint had come from. She lifted the sword and rounded the tree, holding the sword at neck height. Elstan lifted his blades to stop the sword from slicing his head off. Zoey froze and gazed at Elstan in worry as he lowered the blades and smiled at her.
“Very well done, Miss Zoey,” he complimented with a nod. “I almost didn’t hear you.”
“Almost isn’t good enough,” she sighed, lowering the sword fully with a disappointed expression. “Not when I go up against the Mor Witch.”
“Still, you’ve managed to learn more in five minutes then I did in a month,” Elstan insisted.
Not good enough, she thought to herself.
The call was strangle by a cry of agony as he and Zoey ran back toward the camp only to find a battle raging. Zoey looked around frantically to find Elias and spotted him fighting an ugly, bulky creature, one of the many.
“Trolls,” she breathed in realization.
Elstan grabbed her arm and hid her behind a tree, snatching Elias’s sword from her hand.
“Stay here,” he ordered.
Before she could reply he was gone. Zoey peeked out from behind the tree to watch Elstan toss Elias his sword as the battle continued. She suddenly noticed an exceptionally large troll spot her and ducked behind the tree with a gasp of horror. She suddenly heard his footsteps walking toward her and kept still. She remained still, hoping her hadn’t seen her, but a moment later the tree splintered above her head and she ducked to the ground, covering her head as she screamed.
“I found you!”
Zoey looked up in terror to see a huge troll looming over her in black armor with a mace in his hand.
“I found you, Enuria!”
Zoey screamed and ran deeper into the woods, not looking back. The ground suddenly shook as the troll ran after her, making her steps falter slightly, but she quickly regained her balance.
“You not getting away!” the troll bellowed as Zoey hid behind a tree.
The tree crumbled, just as the other had and once again she ducked, covering her head. She cautiously looked up at him as he grinned a crooked tooth and evil grin at her.
“You will die now!” he growled, lifting his weapon.
Zoey gasped and threw her arms over her head just as he swung at her and her shield stopped it from injuring her. She shot to her feet again and ran to her left as fast as she could. The rumble of the trolls steps followed her and this time she stopped and faced him head on. She lifted her hands and shoved at the air, shoving the troll back as well. She ran again and ducked behind another tree, suddenly disappearing and hoping Elias or Elstan would find her.
Elias swung his sword, mercilessly at the enemy troll and finding an opening for the kill strike. He suddenly froze when he heard a scream from the woods and turned his gaze there.
Elias turned as Elstan stopped the troll’s weapon from coming down on Elias’s head.
“Go help Miss Zoey!” Elstan strained under the force of the troll’s strength.
Elias darted toward the woods, running through other fighting trolls and elves to get there. When he finally came into the woods he saw two trees blown to smithereens and the Troll General, Moria on the ground not too far away.
“Zoey!” he called and saw her suddenly appear from behind a tree. He breathed a sigh of relief when she came running toward him, unharmed and he wrapped his left arm around her as she threw herself into his arms and he whispered, “Thank Seldarine you’re alright.”
Moria suddenly groaned and began to get up, catching Elias’s attention. He shoved Zoey behind him and held his sword to the troll as he stood.
“I kill Enuria!” he rumbled.
“Not if I can help it,” Elias growled.
Elias and Moria charged at each other as Zoey ducked behind another tree for safety. The sound of steel hitting iron filled the silence of the forest, making Zoey jump. The Troll General attacked and Elias parried before Moria brought his mace down to crush Elias’s head, but the Masked General held his sword up just in time to block the attack. Moria jerked his weapon, taking Elias’s sword with it and it fell to the ground.
“No!” Zoey cried. “Elias—!”
“Stay back!” he barked when he noticed her trying to run to help him.
“You die for Queen Jellina!” Moria boomed, raising his mace again.
“She’s not my queen,” Elias snarled, kneeling to one knee.
His sword suddenly slid into his hand and he plunged it into Moria’s gut as he tried to make the killer stroke. The troll choked in pain as Elias yanked his sword from him and moved to let him fall to the ground. Elias panted as he turned to see Zoey with a hand toward him and nodded his thanks. She’d taken the cue to levitate his sword to him perfectly.
He sheathed his sword and held his arms toward her as he still caught his breath. Zoey bolted toward him and threw her arms around his neck as he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair.
“Elias, I was so scared,” she shuddered breathlessly, holding back sobs.
“I know, Angel,” he whispered, stroking her hair, soothingly. “It’s alright. I’m here now. It’s alright.”
She looked up at him with a tear socked face, her lower lip quivering as she sniffled. He brought his hand up and tried to dry her tears, but more kept flowing as he gazed into her eyes.
“No more tears, my sweet,” he whispered, leaning his face closer to hers.
Zoey closed her eyes and breathed in as his lips touched hers, pressing them fully onto hers, closing his eyes as well. He held her tightly as he heard her whimper.
Elstan stopped when he saw the two and only smiled as neither one of them looked to him. When they finally emerged from their kiss, Elias looked at Elstan as Zoey leaned her head on his chest.
“Is it over?” Elias asked. Elstan nodded and Elias looked down at Zoey to whisper, “It’s done, Angel.”
Zoey looked up at him and nodded with a sniffle but when Elias moved to walk them back to the tents, she wouldn’t move. She was rooted to the ground in shock, making Elias sigh before he bent down and swept her into his arms to carry her. Elstan frowned at him in worry as Elias approached.
“She’s fine,” he assured him. “She’s in shock, that’s all.”
“Is there anything I can do?” Elstan wondered and Elias only shook his head as he carried her to their tent, ducking in and sitting her down before he sat next to her.
“I couldn’t even fight a troll, how can I fight Jellina?!” she cried as Elias held her in his arms.
“Hush darling,” Elias whispered. “We all rise to the occasion when it’s required of us. We all have faith in you courage, Angel.”
He placed his fingers on her lips to gently silence her.
“Don’t dwell on it, my sweet,” he whispered. “When the time comes, you will be victorious, I have no doubt.”
Elias laid them both back and left soft, tender kisses all over her face. Zoey couldn’t help but smile as he did, but she was still concerned and she had a feeling that the faith all Kalina had in her was for naught.
Nikolai ran into Varen’s tent with Nim, the Truth Fairy flitting behind him.
“Lieutenant General!” he called, and Varen looked up at him as Namir stood in a corner. “General Velaro was taken down by Keiji the Dragon, just outside Roch. He was badly wondered, but he is alive.”
“The enemy knows of our plans,” Varen ground out. “Someone is watching.” He turned to Namir and asked, “Can you get me on board the Mela Ear?”
“Varen, if he catches you, he’ll kill you!” Namir warned. “They way he’s acting right now, he’ll think you are conspiring against him as well!”
“He won’t catch me,” Varen assured her. “He’s not seen me yet. One of his men will stay here and I will take his place. Trust me, friend.”
Namir stared at him in uncertainty, but remembered Varen’s skill in making himself unrecognizable and even invisible. She nodded, hesitantly making Varen grin as she said, “I’ll pick the man that stays behind.”
Varen nodded, turning to Nikolai and ordering, “Inform Ayaki that he will be in command while I’m away. Tell no one else of our plans.”