Chapter 4: Clash Of Divines
Helio tightens the lid of the jar and places it in the empty space on the shelf. Amsyn gathers up the unusable parts of the plants and tosses them through the open window. “Thank you for your help.” Helio nods, a smile tugging at his lips.
“You know you do not have to thank me.” She waves off his remark.
Helio looks past her to the outside. Shafts of sunlight illuminate the stone floor, a pleasant contrast to yesterday’s storm clouds. “I’m going out for a while. I’ll be back later.” He tells her.
“Alright, be careful.” She lifts Sinnion from the table and places him on a chair. The little beast glares up at her.
“Anything happens you know where your bow is and my katana is under my bed.” She rolls her eyes and turns to face him, planting her hands on her hips.
“No one’s going to attack me Helio.” She exclaims. The insufferably protective Dragon is going to drive her mad one day.
“I would rather not risk it.” He takes her face in his hands and places a kiss to the top of her head.
“I will be perfectly safe. If anyone should be worried, it’s you.” Helio smirks and taps her nose with his finger. She swats at his hand.
“I can take care of myself, little sister.”
“So can I.” Amsyn protests, folding her arms across her chest. Helio kisses the top of her head once more before leaving.
Helio ventures into the forest surrounding the town. The forest is familiar to Helio. He and Amsyn often search the woods for herbs. Well, Amsyn searches for and collects the herbs, Helio ensures she doesn’t get hurt.
During one of those incursions, two years ago, Helio discovered a corner of the world unscathed by his family’s desire for power. A small, serene waterfall surrounded by smooth rocks and luscious plant life. Standing before it he can understand why Amsyn wants to stay and fight. This place could steal the breath of the of coldest creatures. He also remembers why he left. He couldn’t be a party to the destruction of such beauty, to the slaughter of innocent creatures. The waterfall roars over his thoughts pushing them into the depths of his mind.
Helio props himself up on one of the large boulders in front of the pool the waterfall empties into. He rests his forearms on his thighs and looks to the steady stream of water pouring down.
It isn’t long before uncharacteristically cold air washes over him. The hair along the back of his neck rises. He whirls his head around. Standing at the tree line is a slim figure in a violet cloak. Before Helio can even rise from the rock, she has reached him.
Ra’venna drives her fist into his stomach sending him flying backwards into the pool of water. Helio jumps up. His hair and clothes drenched and his breathing, labored. She stands at the edge of the water staring at him. Her face bares no emotion.
Helio gathers a ball of fire in his hand and hurls it at Ra’venna. She sidesteps it and the fireball passes right by her head hitting the open ground beyond her.
Helio’s wings erupt from his back in a firestorm. The fire solidifies to form red, Dragon wings twice his length. Helio tears away the remains of his shredded shirt. He charges at her, knocking her to the ground. Helio tries to pin her down, but Ra’venna is quicker. She delivers a sharp jab to his throat with her elbow. Then knees him in the gut and kicks him off of her while he struggles to regain his breath.
She pulls one of her sais from under her cloak and raises it, preparing to stab Helio in the back. Helio rolls over and swipes at Ra’venna with his Dragon claws. She pulls back, able to feel the claws cut through the air in front of her face.
With one flap of his leathery wings he is on his feet. He spins around delivering a kick. Ra’venna blocks it with the silver cuff wrapped around her wrist.
Ra’venna wraps her hand around his ankle, preparing to snap it when an arrow flies between the two of them nicking her cloak. Both turn to see five armed Dragons-three men, two women-dressed in all white with the Quvania crest stitched to the back of their tight fitting jackets.
Ra’venna grits her teeth. How dare Terdar betray her? She summons a ball of her destructive power and hurls it at one of the attackers. It strikes his chest and over the course of seconds devours him-clothing and all. His ashes are captured by the wind.
Helio does not trust Ra’venna, but it appears in this fight they are on the same side. He launches himself at one of the elite soldiers using her claws to rip out his throat. As he collapses blood spurts onto the green grass turning it red.
Ra’venna slashes one of the women’s sides then drives the other sai into the woman’s throat. She pulls it out and the woman crumples to the ground, spraying Ra’venna’s clothes with her blood.
The bow-wielding soldier fires another arrow at Ra’venna. She uses her silver cuff to deflect it. She launches herself at the woman dodging the arrows she fires. Ra’venna slices through the soldier’s bow with one sai and slashes the woman’s throat from ear to ear with the other.
The Dragon is dead before her body hits the ground.
Helio effectively dodges the soldier’s kick and retaliates by punching him in the face. He staggers backwards, but is quick to regain his footing. The solider delivers a well-aimed strike to his ribs. Helio instinctively grabs his side. He goes to hit him again, but Helio is quicker. He reaches out and grabs the soldier’s throat. In one swift movement he tears out his throat.
Helio lifts his eyes from the dead body to see the woman in the purple cloak retreating into the woods. “Wait!”
Ra’venna pauses at the sound of the prince’s voice. She slowly turns around. She watches as his wings retreat into his back and his claws rescind into his blood soaked hands.
“Who are you? Why were you trying to kill me?” His real question is: why aren’t you still trying?
Ra’venna decides to indulge him. Her vow of secrecy only extends to those who do not betray her. Terdar tried to have her killed and now he must pay for this transgression with his life. “Your brother, Terdar, hired me to do so. He has heard rumors that you intend to return. He has no intention of surrendering the throne.” Helio nods, unsurprised.
“Aren’t you going to try to kill me again?” He wants to know why she is just walking away.
“Your brother has betrayed me. I do not take betrayal lightly. For what he has done, I will leave you alive and slaughter him in his sleep.” She snarls.
She turns to leave, but pauses and turns around once more. “I would suggest you consider returning to Quvania unless you would like the throne to fall into your brother’s hands.” Helio shakes his head.
“I don’t want the throne.” It has been bathed in the blood of the innocent. He could never sit on it knowing that.
“Then your brother will rule.” She tells him. “At least until I drive my blade through his neck.”
“Who are you?” Helio demands, choosing to ignore her remarks about his brother. Ra’venna eyes him curiously, few have every had the courage to demand her name.
She doesn’t know what part of herself is compelled to answer. “Ra’venna Voltrea. You may have heard of me; The Dark Duchess, The Nether Fairy.” She cannot conceal the smirk that spreads across her face. Helio’s face drops. He should have known; her destructive power, her skill.
Before he catch himself the words fly out of his mouth. “I can give you what you want. I can give you my brother.”
Ra’venna cocks her head to the side and takes a singular step forward. “Continue.” He lifts his head to meet her eyes glowing beneath her hood.
“I will make a deal with you. I will give you the access needed to kill my brother, if you help me stop my paren-the Emperor and Empress from invading Fulor. You may not care, but there are good creatures here and they do not deserve to suffer as other kingdoms have suffered.” He cannot believe he is bartering his brother’s life.
But if it means saving Amsyn and every other creature here, he will hand over his entire family.
Ra’venna’s heart skips a beat and the memories she has spent years suppressing flood her mind. She is not supposed to care. She is a mercenary. She is a murderer. She is a monster. Underneath though, she is a Fairy and the fault of all Fairies is that they care.
“You have a deal Helio Shalquim.” She agrees. She stalks up to him allowing him to glimpse the face beneath the hood.
Helio marvels at both her beauty and age. She cannot be more than a year or two younger than him and already one of the most feared creatures in Tevata. Helio can see the way her ears round up to form a slight point, beneath her hood. They’re not as pointed as an Elf’s, but they do mark her as a Fairy. Could his eyes be deceiving him? Fairies are known for being loving, creative, and peaceful. He never knew one possessed the capacity for cold and callous violence. He realizes her cloak conceals her wings.
Helio has to admit she is beautiful. She has large, round eyes that shade of storm clouds. Her deep, violet hair is braided off to the side, clasped together with a Fairy wing clip. Her lips are slim, but somehow still voluminous and her nose, small and rounded. Her skin is a soft brown. The color reminds him of a lit fireplace or a cozy library. Of home.
Beneath her right is a tribal tattoo that reaches down her cheek. It is a puzzle of curved and swirled, silver lines etched onto her face with care. He wonders, briefly, who she might have let close enough to do that. Underneath her left eye are three, silver stars.
Helio is astounded by the sight of her, that much Ra’venna has determined. While it is nice to be admired for more than her ability to decapitate men she doesn’t want him to get any ideas. “Do not expect me to bow. I have been in the presence of kings. I have killed for kings. Betray me and I will kill you and accept the Iakutopia that comes for me, willingly.”
Ra’venna is no fool she knows killing Helio will be nothing short of a declaration of war. The Emperor and Empress would make sure of that. They would spin his death into a glorious reason to conquer the world.
“Fair enough.” Helio replies, amused.
“Do you have a place for us to talk further about his plan of yours? The dead may not listen, but the living do.” She gestures to the wood around the, where someone could easily hide and remain unseen.
Helio nods. He does not want to bring Ra’venna into their home where she could easily harm of kill Amsyn, but he will need Amsyn’s help, if she’s willing. The plan. It’s been something he’s thought about since he fled Quvania almost four years ago when he was fifteen. It has never been a coherent strategy, just an assembly of late night wonderings and hopeful daydreams. He never believed it could be possible, but with Ra’venna’s help...
“My home. I share it with a trusted friend.” The way Helio says trusted friend tells her whatever his plan may be it involves them.
“Lead the way.” Helio hesitates. It would be foolish to turn his back on her, but they need to establish some degree of trust.
Ra’venna is bewildered to find Helio leading her to a cottage. She expected the prince to have taken over a castle somewhere and to just have been passing through this nothing village. It almost makes her doubt the prince’s identity. He even appears...happy to be living here. He is so different from what she expected. What makes him different from his brother? From his parents?
Is he different?
Helio ushers her into the cottage. Inside, Ra’venna finds a Lightning Elf slicing herbs strung across a wooden table. His trusted friend is an Elf. Or perhaps she is his lover? She glances between the two and then around the cottage. She can find no obvious signs that they are more than friends.
The Elf lifts her gaze, revealing her peculiar, magenta eyes. “Who is this?” She asks, smiling.
“Ra’venna Voltrea.” He introduces. Amsyn greets her warmly and apologizes for not shaking her hand (they are covered in dirt). Ra’venna replies with a curt nod.
Helio recalls their encounter to Amsyn. He doesn’t spare a detail. Amsyn collapses onto the bench, her eyes wide. Ra’venna suppresses a smile. The Elf’s eyes dart between the two and she slides back after catching Ra’venna looking at her.
Helio turns his attention to Ra’venna. “What prompted my brother to hire you now? I have been gone for four years.” Ra’venna takes a seat on a chair at the other end of the room, far from Amsyn, but only a couple feet from Helio.
“Your brother said he heard rumors of your return. Which doesn’t make any sense, because there are always rumors of your return, but it is nothing more than wishful thinking, and you seem to have no desire to reclaim the throne.”
“I don’t.” Helio says, as if it explains everything.
“Unless, of course, someone has fed your brother this information.” Ra’venna thinks aloud.
“Possibly, but my brother does not easily believe the words of those that he thinks are below him.”
“Who does your brother believe is below you?” Helio laughs dryly.
“Everyone.” Ra’venna shifts in her seat.
“What of the word of a conspirator?” Helio whirls around to face her.
“Do you have a creature in mind?” Ra’venna lifts her gaze. Her purple eyes pour into him.
“Lord Haemir.” She replies.
Helio bares his Dragon teeth. They are as sharp as a blade’s point. Ra’venna briefly wonders that if they were to graze over her flesh if they would slice it open. She bites the inside of her cheek to keep from smirking. That’s the side of him she wants to see more of. His Dragon side. The beast he tries to bury. What monster lies beneath?
Helio exhales and his Dragon teeth retract. He clasps his hands behind him and straightens his back. Just like that, even half naked and bloodstained, Ra’venna comes face to face with Helioson. No matter how much he thinks he’s changed or how hard he tries he is still Prince Helioson of the Quvanian Empire.
“Why did you take the contract?” She raises a groomed eyebrow and smirks.
“I considered hunting you down and killing you when I heard you ran away, but then I thought I might as well wait until someone offered me money to do so.” She muses. Not one word is a lie.
“You are despicable.” Helio states.
“And you are the son of tyrants. You are hardly in a position to judge me.” She retorts. Her tone is sharp. She’s offended by his words, he realizes. Perhaps, there is more to her. He chooses not to reply. Ra’venna exhales her emotions and her face becomes blank once again. Helio has lost her.
“What is your plan?” She inquires.
“Plan?” Amsyn voices, finally joining the conversation.
“Yes, I am going to put an end to this, once and for all.” Helio declares.
“How?” Amsyn exclaims, rising from the bench. Her cheeks flaring red.
“With Ra’venna’s help.” He hesitates. “And yours. If you are willing.” He adds. Ra’venna rolls her eyes. She has yet to see what use the Elf will be.
“And what, pray tell, would a healer contribute? Will she heal us to victory?” She remarks sarcastically.
“Her skills as a healer will prove valuable for the task I have in mind.” Helio retorts. He will not allow anyone to talk down or about Amsyn. Ra’venna notices his protectiveness.
Amsyn turns somber. “You know I would do anything for you.” She tells him. Those are the words of lovers and while Ra’venna sees love in their eyes, it is a familial love. Helio dips his head.
“What do you want her to do?” Ra’venna asks. Helio keeps his gaze on Amsyn.
“I want you to go to Gorus and join the Children of Tevata.” Ra’venna’s eyes widen.
“You want her to join the rebellion.” She clarifies. There is no way the Elf can do that. She lacks the spine.
“Yes,” Helio confirms. The prince is not a tyrant, but a fool.
“If we are to succeed I will need her help.”
“You are more naive than the Elf.” Ra’venna exclaims, throwing her hands up.
“I will do it.” Amsyn says.
“You are forgetting one thing, princeling. The Children of Tevata were founded for the sole purpose of destroying your family. They would not agree to aid you if you had swords to their throats.” The fool is sending her to her death. If not at the hands of the rebels than at the hands of Quvanian soldiers.
“I won’t have to tell them right away. I can wait until I have gained their trust.” This time Ra’venna does roll her eyes.
“You are naive, Elf." She sneers. “Do you honestly believe they will agree to help the son of the creatures that have ruined their lives, slaughtered their familiars, and destroyed their homes.”
“I am not naive.” Amsyn argues, crossing her arms over her chest.
“They will kill you.” Amsyn, Ra’venna decides, has the stubbornness of a Dwarf.
She turns her focus to Helio instead. “And your plan for me, princeling?” She mocks.
“I will bring you to the palace as my personal guard. My brother will be mortified. You can keep him distracted until you see fit to deal with him. And you will protect me. I am going to make enemies, and who better to scare them off than the Nether Fairy.” The edges of Ra’venna’s lips turn up. Both cunning and cold, perhaps the prince is not hopeless.
“Oh, I am going to greatly enjoy dealing with your brother.” She smirks wickedly.
“Then we agree. Amsyn will go to Gorus and we will return to Quvania.” Ra’venna and Amsyn nod.
“It will be a pleasure working with you Helioson.” Ra’venna comments, maliciousness dancing in her eyes.
The Silver Prince shall deliver her his traitorous brother and who knows what other fun she may find in the Silver Palace.