I awoke to the feeling of warmth. I snuggled closer to the wall of warmth at my back. I felt it completely wrap around me, making me feel completely sheltered and safe. I let out a soft sigh and slowly opened my eyes.
The room was cast in a warm glow. The sun was beginning to rise, it was early. The sounds of nature that I was so used to hearing didn’t meet my ears. Instead, all I could hear was the sounds of horses and marching feet.
I pushed myself up from my pillow, Rupert’s arm fell from my hip back to the softness of the mattress. I slipped from the bed, grabbing Rupert’s shirt off the floor and pulling it over my naked body. I moved to the window and looked down at the scene below me.
Hundreds of men and women were armed and equipped marching towards the streets of the city and out towards the forest edge.
An army, getting ready for a brutal battle, all because of me.
I let out a deep breath and followed the lines of townspeople that were making their way through the castle gates and into the front doors of the castle.
Hundreds of people, families, children that could lose their homes and loved ones all because of me.
I wrapped my arms around myself. My eyes caught sight of silver and gold orbs flowing through the sky. I followed the magic and saw Grace and Nix standing in the middle of the castle lawn. Nix was no longer in her torn evening gown, she was dressed in black tight pants, an emerald coloured shirt that was layered under a black piece of leather armour.
I watched as both of them moved their hands in sync as they used their magic to form a protected shield around the castle. The magic spread across the ground moving up over the walls and kept climbing up past the metal gates and towards the sky. I felt like I was placed right into a scene out of Harry Potter.
“Come back to bed.” I heard Rupert’s voice next to my ear before I felt his arms wrap around me.
“I can’t, we need to go.” I turned to face him. He looked at me in confusion before his eyes moved past my face to the window behind me.
I slipped from his arms and quickly grabbed my clothes off the floor. I pulled them on before throwing my hair up. I turned to look back at Rupert, he was pulling on his own clothes. He looked at me as he ran his hand through his hair.
“Everything will be fine.” He said as he moved towards me.
“It doesn’t feel like it.” I moved out into the hall. “I have this sinking feeling that something bad is going to happen.”
“It’ll be fine.” He kissed the side of my head before we moved down the steps and out towards the field.
We moved across the field towards Grace and Nix. They stood together looking at the completed dome above us.
“What’s happening?” I asked, I glanced over at Rupert and watched as he slipped away to move towards a man that was handing out weapons. I frowned and moved my eyes back to Nix and Grace.
“All the townspeople are in the castle. Your father and his army are moving out towards the forest, to await the incoming Carnelian Kingdom. The castle is protected.” Grace said.
“For now,” Nix spoke up. “This shield will only last for so long before it will break. It’ll be impossible to keep up if they start attacking it.” She shook her head. “It’ll use too much magic and concentration if it’s being attacked.”
“So what happens if they get to the gates?” I felt my heart beating in my chest, my stomach began to knot tighter as anxiety began to form.
“Nix and I will take on the biggest problem. Valerian, and his parents, if they’re here too.”
“Magic against magic is only fair.” Nix agreed. “Some of the men will be staying back to fight anyone that crosses over the kingdom walls. They will not win.”
“How can I help?” I asked.
Grace looked at me. Silent as she processed the right words to say to me. Her eyes moved over to Rupert who had now joined us. I looked over at him. A strap was tied across his hips that held a covered sword.
“I need you to keep the townspeople calm in the castle,” Grace said, her violet eyes snapped to mine. “Rupert will go with you.”
“You want us to sit in the castle and wait while you’re out here fighting.” I narrowed my eyes.
“Yes, our people need to feel like they’re safe no matter what’s happening out here.”
She didn’t get a chance to respond. A large boom sounded above. I felt the earth shake beneath my feet as my eyes moved to look above us.
I watched as a large ball of fire moved through the sky, leaving a trail of black smoke behind it, as it landed against the shield that was formed above us.
“Get in the castle now!” Somewhere in the distance I heard Grace yell.
My eyes left the sky and moved to find where Nix and Grace had moved to. I watched as Nix stood there moving her hands as she whispered words and looked up at the shield before her. She was the only one that was working on fixing the shield. Grace stood behind her, her own back pressed against Nix’s back. She held her hands out in front of her as she created a smaller orb around them. A shield to protect themselves against the debris that exploded off the ground from the impact of the fireballs that made their way through the holes.
“I can’t fix it!” I heard Nix yell. Her face was red, her skin damp from sweat as she put so much power into trying to protect the castle.
“Let it go,” Grace said. “We will have to do this the bloody way.” She shook her head as she collapsed the shield around them. Her eyes moved away from Nix and looked back over at us.
“Rupert, take her!” She yelled in anger as another fireball shot to the ground around them.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the place where Nix and Grace had just been standing. The dust faded around them and a small glittering orb showed. Nix and Grace stepped away and moved back towards us, keeping their shields up.
“Get down!” I heard a voice call from behind us.
I felt a hand wrap around my wrist and pull me to the ground. My eyes left Grace and Nix and moved down to look at Rupert. I fell to the ground, words that I wanted to speak were left silent on my lips. Rupert pulled me beneath him, his large body covered mine, his arm wrapped around my head before his other arm covered his own.
I felt the earth shake dangerously hard beneath me. The feeling of dirt and stone hitting the exposed parts of my skin was my first warning that the shield had completely collapsed without Nix and Grace’s power. Rupert moved to stand, his hands reached out to mine. He pulled me to my feet. I looked around us.
Fireballs continued to soar through the sky and land randomly around the grounds of the castle. Men and women around us scrambled to protect themselves from the flying debris and the onslaught of the Carnelian Army that charged through the castle walls. Hundreds of soldiers rushed the gates, swords swinging at our own army that vowed to protect us.
“Get in the castle now!” Rupert yelled over the sounds of war around us. His arms pushed me towards the castle. I stumbled back and watched as he quickly pulled the sword from his hip and swung up. His sword connected with another one, his focus was now on the man that was attacking him.
I felt my mind trying to catch up to the scene before me. I struggled to comprehend anything, I was in a state of shock.
“Ariella! Go!” Rupert’s voice shouted at me again. I stumbled back a few steps before I turned and ran back towards the castle.
I moved as quickly as I could, trying to move as far away from the men that began to move towards me. I watched as a man swung his sword towards me. I let out a small scream before I stumbled back from him. I fell to the ground. I watched with wide eyes as a man in full body armour moved slowly towards me. He held a large smile, his eyes glittering with happiness.
“I’ve always wanted to kill a Princess.” He said. He moved his head to the side as his eyes moved over my body. “I’m just not sure what part of your body I want to cut off first…maybe your leg so you can’t run.”
I felt my heart in my throat as I tried to figure out a way to get away from him without dying. My eyes moved around as I tried to find something that I could use for a weapon. My eyes landed on something that wasn’t a weapon, but it shot a bullet of fear straight through my body.
My eyes watched as men and women fell to the ground, blood pooling around them as they were slashed and stabbed to death. I felt tears well in my eyes as they moved past the falling bodies and towards the figure who stood out the most.
His skin was an orange and red, his hands were large and clawed, his smile as sinister as it was the night he dragged me through the forest, and the night he held a blade to my neck. I let out a shaky breath before a shadow moved over my line of sight.
The man before me, raised his sword to swing down at me. I looked at him with wide eyes as I tried to move back away from him. I let out a scream as his blood splattered over me. A sharp object cut through his neck before pulling away.
The man fell to his knees as he choked on his own blood. It bubbled past his lips and down his chin. I felt my body begin to shake, I felt completely helpless. I could do nothing but watch those around me kill or be killed.
“Ariella.” I felt a hand on the side of my face. I blinked my eyes and focused on who was in front of me. “Love,” Rupert said.
“We need to go.” He said. I looked over his face, blood splattered his cheeks and neck and soaked his shirt.
“Y-Yes. Okay.” I nodded my head and moved to my feet. I grabbed his hand and gave it a tight squeeze.
“Run to the castle. I will be right behind you.” He nodded his head to try and encourage me. “I will always be there.” He let go of my hand. “Go, my love.”
We ran as quickly as we could. I felt Rupert’s hand press against my back to push me to keep going as I slowed down. I covered my head with my arms as a fireball created a crater in the earth beside us. I fell to my knees and pushed my shaking hands against the grass to try and get myself back on my feet. My ears were ringing, dirt-covered my skin and clothes. Stands of my hair had come loose from the hair tie that I had trying to hold it in place.
I turned back to look for Rupert. He was pushing himself off the ground, his blond hair was stained brown from the dirt that just showered us. He looked up at me, his sword in hand.
“Get in the castle and lock the doors.” He moved towards me. He pushed me back towards the doors. I felt the cool metal of the handle against my back. I pushed the latch with my hand and gave the door a small shove. I felt it open behind me.
“You have to come too.” I pleaded. “I can’t be in here alone.” I shook my head.
“I need to fight. I’ll be okay.” He brought his empty hand to the side of my face and pressed his lips to mine. “Lock the door.” I felt him push me back into the castle.
I tried to give him a small smile like I believed the words he had just said. He gave me on in return before his lips moved from a smile to a small O as he let out a soft gasp. I felt the thud of his sword hitting the ground next to our feet. I watched him as his eyes left mine and moved down to look at his body. His hands moved to his stomach, where he was holding his side. I stepped towards him, my eyes never left the stain of red that began to grow bigger and bigger. His eyes left his stomach and moved back to look into mine.
“Go.” He whispered as he fell to his knees in front of me.