Flight of the Five Swans

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Fear Chapter 7

Eurielle

For a moment, Eurielle stopped breathing entirely. Then she gasped as pandemonium erupted in the courtyard. Lord Soran yelled, “Guards!”, and the two columns of Deturian soldiers rushed down the palace steps to attack the small band of Kyorians. Drawing their swords, the Kyorian guards sprang into action to meet the assault. Osric and another guard ran to where Cliodne was still attempting to reach her sisters. Though she struggled valiantly, her efforts were impeded by the five men who had been stationed around the pond, two of whom had already caught her by the arms. The remaining ten Kyorian guards situated themselves with their backs to the other five princesses, forming a ring of protection around them.

The palace yard filled with the sound of steel meeting steel as the Deturians pressed forward, trying to break into the circle. Vastly outnumbered, the Kyorians were forced to battle multiple opponents at once. Eurielle saw that many had already sustained minor injuries in the process, and some sported wounds that looked much more serious.

Niall had been cut across his brow, and the opening rained blood down his face and into his eyes, obstructing his vision. He cried out in pain as a sword slashed at his arm, releasing another stream of red. Eurielle squealed as her friend Baelor narrowly avoided a cut to the head as well, only for him to be sliced in the side by a different enemy altogether. Though his face contorted in pain, Baelor fought doggedly on, one hand pressed firmly to this new wound.

Alexandre was forced to switch his sword to his left hand after a well-positioned attack put his right arm out of commission; his sleeve was already dark with blood. Rather than weakening him, however, this injury seemed to give him an added strength born out of anger. He struck out with his sword, cutting one of his opponents down with a well-positioned swipe. Despite the seemingly endless barrage of enemies, the Kyorians were maintaining their protective positions around the princesses. But seeing the sheer number of Deturians surrounding them, Eurielle was convinced that this would not last.

Killian was the first to fall. Eurielle looked on in utter shock as he crumbled lifeless at her feet, the front of his tunic stained with the last of his lifeblood. Frozen in place, she could only watch with wide eyes while the Deturian soldier yanked his sword free from Killian’s still form and moved to press his advantage into the breach towards her. Suddenly, Thaleia was there, her own sword clanging as it struck against the enemy soldier’s blade. She had been training almost nonstop for the last several years to prepare for such a conflict. Yet despite knowing this, Eurielle still found herself in awe of her sister’s surprising skill with a blade.

Petra was right behind her fighting sister, holding a small but evil-looking dagger. Her expression as sharp as her blade, she jabbed the blade forward with startling accuracy considering its diminutive size. As someone who was more often than not on Petra’s bad side, Eurielle recognized the fierceness in her sister’s eyes, and almost pitied the men who would cross her.

Suddenly, Lord Soran’s voice rang over the battle, “Do not harm the women! I need them alive!”

The shouted command snapped Eurielle out of her daze like nothing else had.

Soran wanted to take them alive?

Over her dead body.

Cursing herself for not having a weapon readily available like her sisters, Eurielle knelt down and quickly removed first her left boot, then her right. Gripping both of them tightly in her hands, she stood upright again. The circle of guards had tightened around them as more of their men had fallen. Seeing Baelor’s body among them, Eurielle felt a stab of grief.

‘He has three daughters,’ she thought numbly, and she lashed out with her boots, suddenly more furious than she’d ever been before. She swung her boot around at the first person she saw, which fortunately was a Deturian soldier and not a fellow Kyorian. Her makeshift club connected squarely with the side of the man’s head, and he grunted as he stumbled backwards. Eurielle struck again and again at different targets, slowly gaining more control over her flinging footwear to avoid hitting the allies around her.

And then suddenly, Eurielle realized that she and her sisters were the only ones left still standing against the Deturians. All twelve members of the Kyorian royal guard—the men who had protected them, taught them, eaten with them and laughed with them—now lay on the ground, motionless in death.

Half-blinded by tears, Eurielle screamed and swung her arms madly around, striking the enemy left and right. She had none of Thaleia’s training or Petra’s precision, but what she lacked in skill, she made up for in pure fury. The Deturian guards, she realized, were now at a slight disadvantage in spite of their numbers. According to Soran’s orders, she and her sisters were not to be harmed. The soldiers had orders to capture them, not to kill them.

The princesses were under no such constraint.

Thaleia and Petra had positioned themselves to fight back to back. Thaleia’s standard ponytail was falling out, leaving sweaty strands of hair hanging all around her face. Her jaw was clenched as she thrust out with her sword, not faltering for a single moment. Petra was still fighting with her dagger, but had also gained a sword as well. Though slightly clumsy with the longer blade, she nevertheless avoided the enemy’s grasp, successfully keeping them from getting any closer than a couple feet away. The tips of both of her blades were covered with blood, which looked almost black in the moonlight.

Callia had clearly had a similar idea to Eurielle in regards to a makeshift weapon, though Eurielle was shocked to see that she had chosen one of her oh-so-precious books to use to clobber the guards, rather than her shoes. Still swinging her footwear at any and all approaching soldiers, Eurielle slowly moved so that she stood back to back with Callia, thinking to imitate Thaleia and Petra’s fighting position. Her arms ached, but she continued fighting all the same.

“Stop!”

Startled, Eurielle looked and saw Lord Soran once again at the top of the stairs…with Raia. A smirk on his boyish face, he stood holding a wickedly sharp knife to Raia’s throat. Behind the pair, no less than four Deturian guard held Cliodne captive. The guards’ faces were scratched and bleeding from Cliodne’s fingernails—testaments of her vicious attempts to avoid being recaptured. As for Raia, her hands scrabbled uselessly in an attempt to try and break Soran’s vice grip, and her face was white with fear. Her eyes darted around, searching frantically for a way to escape.

“Now if the rest of you would kindly drop your…weapons,” Soran drawled, sounding slightly amused. His eyes lingered on Eurielle’s boots. “We can all go inside for a nice, long chat.”

Eurielle hesitated, as did her older sisters. She was willing to bet that they were all thinking the same thing she was: Soran had said that he needed all of them alive. Could he be bluffing?

Lord Soran seemed to understand the reason for their indecision. He tightened his grip on Raia and moved the knife so that it touched the side of her neck just under the chin. “It’s true that I need you all alive,” He said, his voice sounding all the more sinister for its cheerfulness. “But as for unharmed, well…I’m a little more flexible about that request.” Soran pressed the knife into Raia’s neck, and a thin line of blood appeared. Feeling the painful prick of the knife’s edge, Raia whimpered in terror.

“All right!” Callia called, holding up her hands and letting her book fall to the ground. Thaleia and Petra let drop their weapons as well, Thaleia growling in frustration and fury as she did so. Her eyes, wet with unshed tears, were fixed on the knife at Raia’s throat, and her face mirrored the pain in her twins’. Eurielle could have sworn that Thaleia, too, felt the sting of the blade on her neck.

Defeated, Eurielle let her aching arms fall to her side. The boots dropped out of her fingers, each hitting the ground with a muffled thud.

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