Steel and Spell

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Chapter 21

I went back to the cabin and started to pack our belongings; we needed to get the hell out of there.

Cassius opened the door of the cabin but didn’t move further. He just stood there, staring at me moving in frenzies throughout the cabin collecting our stuff.

“Stop.” He said in such a soft voice, my whole body came to a halt. I turned around and look at him.

“What are you doing standing there doing nothing? We need to go!” I exclaim harshly, not understanding his behavior. I was about to yell at him but something stopped me. He looked... devastated. His gaze was sorrowful, his hands were into fists by his side, and he couldn’t dare look at me.

“Cassius?” I asked timidly, my heart starting to race with fear.

“I’m not coming, Lib.” He said blankly, looking at the floor.

I just stood there looking at him, paralyzed with dread.

“You can’t do this to me. I won’t-” I started to say with desperation and fear in my voice but he interrupted.

“They know I’m royalty, and they won’t stop until they get their hands on me. They need information, which they think I have, and I won’t expose you to that. I can’t. You need to go alone.” He said, his voice finally giving some emotion. Pain.

I shook my head vigorously. “No. No, no, no I don’t care. I’m coming with you. If we are together the odds are more in our favor and-” He stopped my ramble.

“Liberty, this is out of the question so stop!” His powerful voice shutting me up. “There aren’t any odds in our favor, it’s the opposite. Everything is against us.” He swallowed and looked at me. His gaze was hard, maintaining a controlled facade.

Me? I was a mess. My breathing was heavy and my chest hurt in anguish. Tears started to trickle down my face, and I was putting all my effort so I didn’t sob.

“They are hundreds, even more. We don’t have a chance against them. But I can slow them down. That is going to give you time to get out of this woods.”

I shook my head, more tears streaming down my face and finally, a sob made its way out of my mouth.

“Y-you promised we would be together in this! That it was us against the world!” I yelled at him, anger and sorrow seething inside me.

I walked up to him and punch him in the chest. “You can’t do this to me!” I started to hit him out of control but he didn’t flinch. He took both of my wrists with his hands not saying a word. I rested my head on his chest, letting myself cry freely for the first time in a long time.

I looked at him, and his gaze was cold, looking at me with indifference. I could feel my whole body heating in rage and tried to get out of his hold.

“Say something dammit! Talk!” I fumed, trying to understand what was going on in his head. My wrists stop struggling and I gave up. He let go of wrists and goes to the bed. He kneels and takes something from it.

“I need you to give this to my mother. Don’t read it.” He hands me a letter and I take it with trembling hands and put it in my pocket, not even feeling curious about it. I was destroyed at that point, not caring about anything.

“I hate you.” I lied, just wanting to get that anger and sadness out of me. “You’re not even trying and you know why? Because you don’t care! You don’t fucking care!”

I look at him straight in the eye, hoping he felt the same way that I did. “But you know what? I care. And you must be an idiot if you think I’m going to walk out of this woods without you and let you die at the hands of those monsters.” I stated with determination, trying to get a hold of the situation. My eyes stung with tears and my face was flushed. I could hear my heartbeat, and I felt dizzy with a crash of mixed emotions I couldn’t control. Anger, sadness, shock, but most importantly, my heart breaking into a million pieces.

Suddenly, he was in front of me and punched the wall behind me. I flinched involuntarily at the sound of his fist colliding with the wall and looked up to see his angry face glaring at me.

“You think I’m happy about this? This is fucking torture! It is even worse than when I left my family. I can’t stand the idea of you leaving, but I have to! You are the most important person in my life, and I would sacrifice my life for you for all eternity if I have to. I’m sorry, but you don’t have a say in this.” He looked defeated at the end, his indifferent composure evaporating into the air.

My world was rolling downhill, colliding with trees, rocks, everything that's on its way. It had felt stable for once, and it had just needed a little push to go to hell. I was in denial, thinking there was a chance, that something was going to stop this, and that my world would be finally in balance. But as the seconds and minutes passed, deep down, I knew there was no turning back.

“We can’t give up...” I whispered, shaking my head.

“You need to go now Liberty,” Cassius said coldly. I was looking at the floor, still processing that I was leaving.

“Take this.” His voice interrupted my turmoil of thoughts. I looked up to see he was handing me his sword and knife.

“No! That’s your only weapon against them, I can’t take it! That’s basically me letting you get killed. Besides, their spells don’t affect me.” I argued back, starting to think he lost his mind.

“We don’t know that for sure.” He said looking at the sword.

“You need it more than I do! Maybe I-” I was searching my mind desperately trying to find something to convince him to keep his sword and knife.

“I’m already dead. There’s no need for me to keep them if I’m going to die anyway. At least let me give them to you knowing that you are going to be safer.” He pleaded, handing me the sword and knife.

I slumped my shoulders in defeat, letting a short shaky breath in dread. I took the weapons from him and exchanged them with the ones I had on my belt.

Silent tears were streaming down my face, but I didn’t bother to wipe them out. Without realizing it, Cassius put his black cape around my shoulders and secured it with a knot on my neck.

“I c-can’t do this. Please...” I tried in a desperate attempt to make him change his mind.

He swallowed but kept a straight face.

“Go, now.”

He started leading me towards the door, and I followed numbly. The moment I stepped through the door, the cold wind hit my wet cheeks and an involuntary shiver ran down my body. The night was one of the darkest I had seen in my life, and possibly one of the worst I had yet to live.

“Call Lucy.” Cassius suddenly ordered me. I didn’t know what surprised me the most. That he had just called Lucy by her name, or that he even thought about her.

I followed his order and put my pinky fingers in between my lips to let out a loud whistle. It resonated through the clearance, and in only seconds, Lucy appeared in sight, trotting towards us. I had taught her that some weeks back and it hadn't taken long for her to learn that every time I whistled, I was calling her.

She stopped by my side and knock me slightly with her head, a thing she did when she wanted to be pet.

“What are you doing?" I finally asked with a slight shake in my voice.

“Why would he care about Lucy?”

“Listen to me well, Liberty. To get to Lux Novum, follow the mountain range in the north. The city is located at the foot of the mountain.” He said quickly, leaving me disconcerted.

“Go to the palace, and ask for a hearing to talk with my parents. Hand them the letter, prove them you know me, and then ask to join the Black Knights. From there, you can stop this war.” He said professionally as if he was talking about plans for a battle.

I looked at him astonished, not knowing what to think or say. It was too much information for my brain to take in quickly and react.

A glint passed through his eyes, and he started to take his Calieum chain and ring. He put it around my neck and looked at me with adoration in his eyes.

“Show this to my mother, she’ll know what it means.” His hands cupped my cheeks, and he stared at me as if I was his whole world.

My rambling started before I could stop it. “I won’t give up on you. Never in a million years. I will go through hell and fire to find you. I will find you no matter what, understood? You’re going to be fine, I swear to God, you will get out of this before you realize it.” I promised, my voice breaking and tears falling into his hands.

With his thumbs, he brushed the tears away and his hazel eyes looked at me right in the eyes, right into my soul.

“I love you, Liberty. I will always love you.”

The air was knocked out of my lungs, and I felt like I had just been kicked in the guts. My eyes widen in realization to his confession, and I felt like my voice had been stolen from me.

His head dipped and his lips caught mine in a passionate kiss, one that was burned into the back of my mind for the rest of my life. His lips moved against mine with need, with so much love. It was the last taste before goodbye, after all.

I didn’t know what to answer, but it seemed that words weren’t needed. That kiss said everything I wanted to say at that moment, even if I wasn’t sure if I loved him.

Before I could react, he took me by the hips and broke the kiss. He expertly positioned me on top of Lucy.

“Good luck my love.” He said with a small smile on his features.

“Wait! No!” I started to yell in despair and before I realized it, Lucy was flapping her wings and we were off the ground.

“Cassius!” I looked at him in the eyes, and the memories of everything we did together started flowing. The first time we met, the 20 questions game, dancing in the middle of the forest, all those training hours, and countless more memories.

His eyes prickled with tears, but before I could say anything else, he turned around and left my sight.

Lucy started to fly further and further from the ground, and until the cabin had disappeared, I was in shock. My body was tensed, not even holding on to Lucy. My breathing was heavy and a headache was starting to form.

I wasn’t ready, not at all.

I had been thinking for weeks about going to Lux Novum, but in every case, Cassius was included. He was there, showing me everything, presenting me to his family, both of us fighting together to stop this war.

He sacrificed himself, but I refused to think they were going to kill him. They needed information, and they wouldn’t get any from Cassius. He was a tough nut to break. And that was going to give me enough time to find him, I just knew it. Thank God, the mage had told us they were coming after us. Both of us would have been busted, and the Kingdoms would have never known that the mages were resurfacing. I prayed for the mage, hoping he was resting in peace.

My mind snapped in time to realize we were very high up in the sky and quickly hold on to Lucy. My legs straddled Lucy’s side and I hold on to her neck.

I sniffed and tried with all my will to stop the tears from falling, but my eyes didn’t seem to get the message. I sobbed loudly, screaming desperate for him to come back.

I needed to be strong at that moment more than ever, there was no turning back. But it was all too much at the moment, and crying seemed like the sane option.

Even though my vision was blurry and my eyes burned, I saw the huge mountain chain started to appear insight, and I remembered Cassius's words.

“There Lucy. We need to go that way.” I pointed towards the mountain chains.

I wasn’t even sure she understood what I had said. Maybe she could have taken me to the other side of the world, but I remembered how intelligent she was, and decided to trust. Well, it’s not like I had more options.

And we flew through the sky as I thought about what the future would hold.

Cassius POV

A/N: Written in the present.

I felt like my heart had just been ripped from me. My whole world was burning to ashes, and I couldn’t do fucking anything about it.

Liberty had disappeared from my life, but it was the best. I was doing this for her, I have to do this for her.

She is too young, she has a life waiting for her. She still needs to see her parents, fall in love and marry a man with whom she will have kids.

My blood boils thinking of that; her in another man’s arms laughing and kissing him with those lovable lips of hers. She is so oblivious to the fact she can make any man fall into his knees for her, and that just makes her even better.

I know for a fact that she will find another significant other, and that man will surely know he has the best gift life could have ever gifted him.

I had planned a whole life with her; I was going to marry her, even if my parents were against it. We were going to live in the castle and maybe someday going to live in another place. She could be easily be mistaken by royalty, with her soft hands and pale face. Right now, all that plan was going to belong to someone else, and I can’t help but think that maybe it was never meant to be.

Something deep inside of me feels Liberty is destined for greatness. Maybe it is because of her determination and fierceness, or maybe her kindness, intelligence, and humility. But I know for sure, she has a great destiny ahead of her. Maybe my destiny was to cross paths with her and prepare her, nothing more and nothing less.

I’m sitting on the grass looking at my surroundings, my gaze occasionally falling on the dead mage at the entrance of the forest. Why did he warn us? What did he gain by telling us all that information? Or Liberty was that persuasive?

Time passed, and orange started to fill the sky slowly, telling me my time was up. They were here.

I stood up from the grass, leaving the knife and the sword on the floor. It was useless to use them in the first place.

I hear the faintest of shuffling of leaves and ahead of me, two mages appear. One of them holds a large wooden scepter while the other had a wand. Their gaze falls first on their dead fellow. They don’t react, and just watch the lifeless body with a blank face. Then, their gaze falls on me.

Their expression doesn’t change, in their heads knowing exactly who I am. They look at each other and mutter something. The one with the wand nods and starts to walk in my direction fastly.

I tense, preparing myself for any kind of pain, but nothing. The mage deviates his walking and starts to walk in the direction of the cabin. The mage with the scepter walks slowly towards me, his eyes watching my every move, analyzing me. He stops walking and stands 10 ft away from me, watching and analyzing my every move, waiting for something.

“The girl is not here!” The mage that went into the cabin shouts behind me.

“So that’s what they are looking for... in that case, they will be very disappointed.” I think smugly, suppressing my smirk.

“You thought it was going to be that easy?” I ask the mage in front of me, restraining myself from walking over there and punch him so hard in the face his nose would be inside his brains.

His face changes quickly into anger and with a quick movement of his scepter, my chest is struck with a painful spell.

I fall to the ground and groan, tensing my jaw to the point my whole face hurts. My limbs are moving with spasms, and the pain moves to every inch of my body like lightning. I can’t move, and all I want to do is to scream in anger and frustration. I feel more mages arriving into the clearance, and my body is fucking having spasms, leaving me defenseless.

Strangely, nothing happens. I don’t receive any more painful spells, and somehow, I’m grateful for it, but it doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t they attack me when I have killed lots of their kind.

My senses start to come back, and when I tilt my head to the side, I see a crowd has gathered around me. Many of the mages look at me with hatred, others with superiors look, and others are not interested at all.

“Stand up, mutt.” A woman says, and before I can even do something, two men grab my shoulders and force me to stand up. My legs feel numb, and they give out, my knees falling to the ground.

“Such a weak idiot.”

“Dirty as a rat. He should be dead.”

“I’m going to enjoy breaking him into pieces.”

“Why are we not doing something?”

I hear different conversations around me, but I don’t show any sign of weakness. I held my head high and look into their eyes, not giving any emotion.

Suddenly, everything is quiet. A distant whistle can be heard from where I am, and it seems is getting closer and closer. In front of me, people start to part, leaving a pathway for whoever is whistling that calming tune.

When he appears on sight, I know who he is. He irradiates power, but it’s contrasting to the nonchalant way he walks towards me.

He looks just like a teenager. His face doesn’t show any sign of all the centuries he has, and the mischievous look in his green eyes show arrogance and superiority. His clothes are bizarre, making him stand out even more from everybody else. They remind me of Liberty’s clothes back when I found her.

He stops before me with a smug look, but I don’t say or move an inch of my face. He’s not going to get anything from me, not even a single emotion.

“Hey, buddy. How you doing?” He said mockingly, with the same strange accent Liberty has. And the way he talked, it only reminded me more of her...

He lifts his gaze from me and looks to the mage with the scepter, the one who appeared first.

“Where’s Liberty?” He asked with expectation, a defiant look on his gaze.

“She’s not here, my lord. We think she escaped.”

His expression changed entirely, and his gaze was now murderous. His jaw was clenched and he looked like he was about to murder someone. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did.

“Well, idiot, if she’s not here, it’s obvious she escaped. She’s probably not too far though. Go and get her. Now.” His voice irradiates with irritation, and I’m tempted to laugh at his ignorance. She was now too far away for any one of these bastards.

He looks at me, and a wicked smile grows on his face.

“Don’t worry, lover boy. I’m going to get my hands on her faster than you think.”

I glare at him, feeling my blood boil just imagining him putting a finger over Lib.

His index finger started to move towards my forehead, and I tilted my head back to avoid his touch. To my dismay, the mages grabbing my shoulders grab me by the hair, immobilizing my head. His finger touched my forehead, and sleepness drowns me all of a sudden.

“I’m going to make sure she is mine, and I’ll enjoy how your heart breaks knowing the person you love most is betraying you.”

I feel the raging fury within the surface, but the darkness takes me too fast, and my body and mind go numb.

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