We had been travelling for a period of three days when we reached Arianna’s village.
We didn’t really worry about Tark’s influence when we were in the elf’s lands. Most of the population was elves, but anyone was allowed to live there with the proper permits. Most people didn’t want to live away from all the rest of their kind, so few non-elves lived in the Elvish territory.
As for visitors they were always welcome, but the elves hadn’t liked Tark ever since he became king and showed his true colors. They liked Queen Eva, but she didn’t do much in the affairs of the kingdom, let alone external affairs. Most likely because Tark wouldn’t allow her to.
Anyway, because of the strained relationship with Ranvier, the elves have slowed down the flow of people from Ranvier into their kingdom. In the end, Tark’s men would have a difficult time getting into Elvish Territory, if they even could.
We ran into no problems while travelling those three days. As we were approaching Arianna’s village, we started talking about the tentrite weapon.
“I got and been lugging around enough material for two swords to be made,” I called back to them because I was several yards in front of them, trying to get a clearer sense of the path ahead of us. “But I think we need only one sword forged, right?”
“I see no reason to have multiple weapons made, if only one has to be made in order to kill it,” Artemis answered. “I mean we are having what is possibly the most deadly type of weapon of all time made. Deadly in the sense it can kill basically everything, and even its tiniest cuts only heal with the help of magic.”
“One thing though,” Arion spoke up. “I think we should have the weapon become imprinted on someone.”
Imprinting was the process that only elf and few other very skilled blacksmiths could accomplish. When something forged was imprinted, then only the person it was imprinted on could use it. Once the person the weapon was imprinted on died, then the forged material basically died in the sense it was no longer usable. The only way you could break an imprinting was through very powerful magic that only the most powerful sorcerer and sorceresses could have executed.
If we the tentrite sword imprinted, then we won’t have to worry about someone else using it for evil.
“Sounds like a great plan,” Shade barked. I once again wondered how much he understood us.
Artemis also agreed. I told them it sounded well.
Then Arion commented, “Looks like you’ll have two swords, Raven.”
“No,” I instantly replied. There was no way I was getting that weapon.
“Why?” he asked sharply. I didn’t need to see it to know that he was staring at the back of my head trying to force the answers out of me.
I flatly informed him, “Because it’s not a good idea to have me go around carrying a tentrite sword.”
Artemis then asked, “And why is that?”
I then turned around and replied, “In case you haven’t noticed, I travel around alone into dangerous situations. That sounds like a great opportunity to get robbed or to somehow lose it. To put it shortly, it’s too dangerous to leave it with me.”
“You are one of the best swordsmen I know,” Arion countered.
“You’re great with a sword,” I also countered.
Arion folded his arms as he told me, “I’m no expert though.”
“So what?” I exclaimed. “After the demon is dead, you can put it in your section of the vault, and you won’t have to worry about anyone ever stealing it from you.”
“We broke in,” he responded in a tone I couldn’t read. I couldn’t tell if he was concerned or frustrated or stating the obvious just to get under my skin. No matter what his tone was, it was annoying for me though.
I turned back around as I reminded him, “We also were almost killed. We only survived because you knew the entire layout of the vault.”
Artemis then replied, “He does have a good point right there.”
Arion then argued, “I won’t be able to kill the demon with or without the sword.”
I then commented, “If we ended up working like we did last time we fought it, you will.”
He sighed and told me, “There’s no way we are going to make you take the sword, is there?”
I agreed with the sentiment he expressed by stating, “No, no there isn’t.”
Arion breathed in deeply, in what may have been annoyance or maybe even exhaustion. I wasn’t sure. He then let out a long sigh.
“Fine,” he groaned. “We won’t give you the sword.”
I felt good after, for once, winning one of our arguments. I didn’t really show it though as I turned around and continued to scan the road ahead of us.
A couple of hours later, as dusk was settling in, we reached Arianna’s village.
We got a few glances our way as Artemis and Shade led us to Arianna’s house. I wondered why we attracted so much attention, then I realized that they saw a regular human, a rather large dog, a vampire, and the last dark elf in this realm (even though they won’t have known I was the last) all travelling into town together as a group. Even the very few creatures who weren’t elves might have thought that we were a group of three humans and a dog walking through the land, where usually only elves went.
At that point, it just hit me how unusual our group truly was to an outsider’s perspective, especially if they could tell what type of creatures we were.
Of course we had to go into the center of town to reach where Arianna was. I was certain half the town knew we were there, and, in worst case scenarios, it was harder to leave the center of town than the edge of town.
Artemis didn’t seem to mind though as she went up to the door and knocked in a pattern, as if she were knocking out a short melody.
After a short pause, a fire elf opened the door while saying, “Artemis, your knock is as distinct as ever.”
“It helps friends know right away who has arrived,” Artemis told her. “It’s good to see you.”
The two of them hugged and then started to walk inside. Shade immediately followed them. After a moment, Arion went inside and I followed.
As I went inside, I heard Arianna and Artemis start to ask each other how they were doing. Arianna told her family sitting in the front room that she had some business to take care of and Artemis greeted all of them. They replied, and Arianna led us to the back of the house into what appeared to be a small office room.
“Well, I enjoy the pleasant chatter, but since you are here you probably are about some official and important business, right?” Arianna asked.
“That’s right,” Artemis informed her. From there, Artemis and Arion filled Arianna in on the situation, as I sat there and actually zoned out of the story. I lived through it, so I wasn’t very interested in hearing it once again.
A few minutes later, when they had finished, Arianna simply replied, “You have quite the situation on your hands. Don’t worry, I’ll get the forge up and running. This weapon should be completed in no time. Can I see the tentrite?”
I took the bag filled with tentrite, which I was carrying around for quite awhile at that point, and handed it to Arianna. The rest of us sat as she examined the metal. She picked it up and switched to the part of her house that was a forge.
Once there, Arianna made sure the fire was going well. She then turned her attention to the metal. She hit the tentrite a few times with various objects or would weigh portions of it. The very last thing she did was reach in the fire that was now blazing fiercely, pulled out a coal, and pressed the burning coal against the metal.
Fire elves were appropriately named because fire didn’t burn them. They could stick their hand in fire, and it wouldn’t burn them. There were some downsides like how fire still felt extremely hot to them. Some would train themselves to get used to the heat like Arianna had. The other downside was that smoke from fire could still harm them if they got too much of it. However, most of the time if they got some smoke in their lungs, they would be able to repair the damage that was caused. No one knew for sure how much smoke they could tolerate.
Fire elves were the best blacksmiths in the twelve territories because they could work with fire in ways everyone else could not. It allowed them to do many different things to their forgery that seemed almost impossible.
Once Arianna finished examining the metal she put out she set the coal back in the fire and sat back.
“So how long will it take you to forge the sword?” Artemis asked.
“I can’t forge a sword with this material,” Arianna answered.
“Why not?” I asked. “There’s enough there for two swords to be made.”
Arianna sighed then answered, “With ordinary metal yes, but tentrite is different. I just did some tests to see if what I read is true, and it appears that it’s true that tentrite condenses when it’s forged. It’s fortunate that you brought what you thought to be extra because all the tentrite you have here will be enough for one knife.”
“So how long will it take you to make a knife?” Arion questioned.
“Two and a half days or three days, if you still want me to imprint it.”
Arion nodded and stated, “We still want it imprinted. But now Raven is going to have to be the one it’s imprinted to, because he’s the only one out of all of us that can fight with knives.”
Well, so much for winning an argument for once with this group, I thought. I just consented because I knew I wasn’t getting out of that one.
Arianna then jolted as if she remembered something.
“Raven,” Arianna spoke. “Do you happen to be short on knives at the moment?”
“He usually carries around twelve, but he only has two right now,” Artemis answered. “He traded them for an artifact we needed.”
Meanwhile, I was starting to get on edge. I didn’t usually like it when others seem to know details and facts about me, especially if I didn’t share that information with them.
Arianna then went to the corner of her forge and pulled out a box. I could feel that there were knives inside. She handed it to me as I finished counting nine in there. I opened it up to find that my suspicion was correct that they matched the ones that Gaxi gave me. I picked them up to examine them more closely because I was very confused at that moment how those knives seemed to be set aside for me in a sense.
“Our village has a seer,” Arianna told me. “I was making this pair of knives a few years back for someone in Tardon, when she came in and told me to make nine more. She also said when someone comes in with those knives to give them the other nine I made. I just happened to recognize those two knives you’re wearing were those knives I made.”
“Who is this seer?” Arion asked.
Arianna turned to face him as she answered, “Her name is Hekate. She was a water elf until she got her seer powers. She has already been consumed by the seer powers. I should also mention that she wished for me to tell the person who I gave the knives to and his companions that she wishes to speak with you tomorrow.”
The next day Arianna started the knife like she promised.
After careful consideration, Arion, Artemis, Shade, and I decided to go see Hekate. (Well, to be honest, I didn’t want to go at all. I just went because the others were going with or without me, and it was my somewhat annoying job to look out for them.)
Seers were people who could look through time and had a few other powers. They were all different people before they became seers. They chose to become seers by finding a seer who was ready to pass on their power, had them passed on to that person, and then used them to the point that they were transformed into a seer. The power manifested itself in them in the form of looking like a tattoo wherever they took the powers in at.
The more a person used the seer powers, the more the tattoo-like markings on them grew. It made different shapes depending on the person. The thing was when they used the seer powers, they lost a part of themselves each time. Eventually if they used their powers enough, they lost themselves to them. Their tattoo-like markings reach to every part of their body and stop growing. They always saw through time then, and got lost in whatever reality they were viewing.
Over time, seers had been growing smaller in numbers because people didn’t want to lose themselves to the power. (The most there had been was six, but the rumors suggested that only one remained.)
Seers rarely talked to others, but, when they did, it was because something important was about to happen in that person’s life.
When we were informed that Hekate wished to speak with us, I felt a sense of apprehension because I didn’t want it to be like the times when seers gave vague warnings about the future that drove everyone over the brink of insanity. I would have preferred that we had not gone, but Artemis and Arion thought it might give great insight, so I once again lost an argument. I was just hoping the conversation didn’t turn out too strange.
We stood outside her door. Arion knocked on the door. I could feel her inside her house. She stood up from her chair. Instead of coming and opening the door, Hekate opened it with magic.
“Enter,” I heard her voice echo in my head. I knew she was using telepathy.
So much for a somewhat normal conservation, I thought.
We all entered, and she greeted us. Her aura creeped me out a little. The cool, flowing elvish aura that all water elves had was still there. But it was suffocated by the seer magic which grew on it like a parasite until it became the majority of her aura. I could barely tell the water elf was still there because she was so far gone.
“Greetings, King Arion the First,” Hekate actually spoke. “Hello to Artemis, Lady of the Ranvier Coasts.” Artemis told us she was a high birth, so that must have been her actual title. “Welcome, Shade. Salutations, Raven, the last dark elf of this realm, Darkest.”
I had to work on keeping my heartbeat normal. The way she spoke about me made it sound like she knew things that I would never understand about myself, and that filled me with an nameless emotion that I didn’t like.
“Greetings, Hekate,” Artemis replied. “We are honored that you wanted us in your presence.”
“Spoken like a true diplomat,” Hekate replied, sounding far off, as if she were in a thousand places at once and that house was only one of them.. “Yet again, you used to be one years ago.”
Artemis started tracing her tattoo after that comment, as if deep in thought.
I was remaining in the corner of the room, fiddling with my raven pendant. I just wanted to get out of there. Arion head turned from place to place and stopped once he noticed me. He paused for a moment, alerting me that he was analyzing me, but then he turned away.
“Mistress Hekate,” Arion addressed her. “We wouldn’t want to take any more time away from you as necessary, so might I inquire as to the reason for you wanting us here?”
Hekate then commented, “I like how you’re straight to the point. So, I’m glad you took the opportunity to come here because this is where you learn what’s real and what’s an illusion.”
“What do you mean?” Arion asked, not bothering to hide the tone of his voice. It was different from his last comment. The only way I could describe it was that it was slightly unstable.
“Starting forty-six days ago, I felt a power that shook the magic of this world,” Hekate continued in a quick way, as if she wanted to get it out as fast as possible. “Only those of us who have extremely powerful magic could feel it. I wondered what happened to cause it. It was a demon being summoned, I realized. In consequence, I was puzzled as to why someone would want to do such a thing.
“So I looked deeper into the situation, and I saw so many things. I realized that for years I have been seeing things that would have revealed this truth to me, but have brushed it aside as just more random visions.”
Here she stopped as if examining the fact that she didn’t know this knowledge for so many years.
“Mistress Hekate,” Artemis softly spoke. “What did you discover?”
When Hekate spoke again, her voice was quiet, but energy lingered on every word as she told us, “There’s an enchantress causing you trouble, Arion.”
My mind slowed down for a moment then sped up, trying to comprehend the implications of this.
Enchantresses started off as a very rare people, but were now starting to get more common. The effect of when someone with a lot of magic (like a sorcerer) had a child with someone who has no magic or little anywhere in their system. Or when an enchantress or a warlock had a daughter.
Those women (all enchantresses were women) had magic that was very difficult to place or describe because each one of them had different abilities. But all enchantresses have magic that had a specialty for controlling others and some charms (such as telekinesis).
Enchantresses could bend anyone under their control as long as the first time they did it on that person they made eye contact with the person. It was believed that when the person saw into the enchantress’s eyes, it kick started the magic that allowed for them to take control. Sometimes the enchantress could get in complete control of someone the first time, but the enchantress risks harming herself by doing so. Instead they did it slowly over time.
The people under the enchantress’s spell didn’t stand a chance. The strong-willed would take a while, most likely years, to be under complete control. Weak-willed a few months until they were under control. For a time, they showed small signs that a spell was being worked on them. They would begin to lose focus, they spent a lot of time with the enchantress, and they would do small things that they normally won’t do.
Most of the time, they didn’t even know they were being put underneath a spell. When the spell has taken strong enough roots inside of them, they then will do anything the enchantress says, like killing their best friend. It was usually then that they realized what was going on, when it was too late for them to stop it. After that, the more time with the enchantress, the weaker they got until the enchantress destroyed everything they ever were.
The only way to free the person was to kill the enchantress and after that it would take anywhere from hours to days for the magic to leave.
After a moment, Artemis, Arion, and I seemed to have come to the same conclusion at once.
“Eva,” Arion groaned. “I should have known.”
“She’s an enchantress,” Hekate stated. “She’s supposed to be deceiving.”
I didn’t think Arion was listening much though, as he sat down and started murmuring to himself. Artemis sat down next to him and patted his shoulder, in a sort of comforting way. Shade then started to rub his head against Arion’s leg.
For a moment, I thought that Arion noticed, but then he reached down and rubbed Shade in his favorite spot behind the ears.
I turned to Hekate and asked her, “How come no one knows about Eva being an enchantress? Don’t they try to record anyone with magic that powerful?”
Hekate told me in a light tone, “I don’t really know. It’s difficult to see into her life.”
I folded my arms and asked, “How so?”
Hekate turned to face me as she answered, “Enchantresses do have powerful magic and a certain ability to hide themselves with it. Eva has somehow managed to make it difficult to look at her, even with my powers. I can catch glimpses, but it’s like looking for her past, present, and future in a mud pit.”
“Is there any way you can clear out the mud then?” I asked, knowing that I was feeling frustrated. Here we had an opportunity to look for information about our enemy, but to only be blocked.
Then I sensed Hekate seemed to grow relaxed, she was no longer standing tense, and seemed to be letting her aura give off more power.
She murmured in a melodic voice, “Everyone who hides their past, hides in a different way. But the thing is that they always forget that there is always a way to get enough power.”
“What?” Arion asked, sounding as confused I felt.
“There are many different types of energies,” Hekate explained. “Some are more powerful than others. Some just have different types of energies, different strengths, different weaknesses.”
Hekate started to examine me. I could feel her magic probing me, looking at my aura.
“Elves are strange,” Hekate then started up randomly. “Water, fire, light, and wood elves have left behind their heritage. They don’t spare a thought for the dark elves from which they hail anymore. Then the dark elves left. Not knowing entirely what they were giving up.
“Dark elves have a special connection to the energy of this realm, since they are the only people that were actually born in this realm. They can’t see it because they don’t have the power to connect to it. If they could, they could harness so much of that power.”
Hekate trailed off at this point, as if lost in thought about what she could do if she was a dark elf.
“Where are you going with this?” Arion asked, with a tone of voice that I couldn’t pinpoint. It might have been distrustful, interested, concerned, or curious.
She walked up close to me and answered, “If I could tap into the realm’s magic, then I won’t have to look for Eva’s past, present, and possible future through her, which blocks me. If I had that ability, I could simply look through the realm’s history and easily find her. Everything everyone does leaves an imprint on the realm, so I just would have to find her imprint. I just need a point of origin to find that power. I need a dark elf.”
I could sense everyone looking at me right then. My mind was reeling. I was taught never to trust a seer. Their powers were too dangerous, too sporadic, too consuming. I had always thought that it was good to learn things for myself instead of relying on other sources of information, like magic. I never once thought about going to a seer to get information. Dread filled me as I felt her powers growing, getting ready for use.
“So, what do you say, Darkest?” Hekate asked me as she held out her hand. “Will you lend me your aura?”
I was only half-aware of Artemis and Arion speaking, but I zoned out, not hearing a word of what they said.
I have a job to do, I thought to myself as I took her hand.
I felt her magic run through me in a path that I didn’t know existed. All the sudden, I could feel a place so vast that my aura seemed to be insignificant. Everything around me seemed to fade except for the strong rush of Hekate’s powers and the overwhelming pool of energy near me. Then they were gone.
There was a newborn child in her mother’s arms. She couldn’t have been more than a few hours old.
Another woman entered the room. The mother didn’t say anything, just waited for the information she would bring.
“Nexa,” the woman standing by the door whispered. “There’s no sign of Falk anywhere.”
Nexa waited a moment before replying, “So, my husband left me and our daughter to fend for ourselves?”
“It appears so.” The woman stayed a while, trying to come up with something to say or do to make the situation better, but she couldn’t. She eventually left.
“Well, Eva,” Nexa whispered to her daughter. “It’s just us in this hovel, but I’ll take care of us. I shouldn’t have trusted Falk, but I’ll make up for that mistake. I’ll make you into something greater than he ever could have imagined. You’ll be unstoppable.”
Nexa and another woman were watching the six-year-old Eva playing in the yard with a few girls around her age. Their house was no longer a hovel but the best house in the small town.
“Business is treating you well then?” the woman asked Nexa.
“Yes,” Nexa replied curtly.
The other woman smiled and commented, “I never thought blacksmithing would have suited you.”
“It does,” was all Nexa replied.
It was obvious to almost everyone else that she wasn’t just a blacksmith. Her posture wasn’t that of a just a blacksmith but of a warrior as well. It was her job to look after Eva, and she was going to make sure her daughter was well taken care of, no matter what jobs she took on. As far as everyone else was concerned, she was an average woman, but she was a fighter. On top of that, she would make Eva one, when the time was right.
One of the girls fell, and the other woman went to help her up. She didn’t notice what took place afterwards.
Eva and another girl started arguing over a toy. Eva kept saying it was her turn to play, but the other one refused.
Eva finally had it. She was furious, but she knew her mother wouldn’t like it if she yelled or lost control. She was told that those who lost their composure were weak, and she wasn’t going to be weak. Even if her father was weak.
Eva stood up tall and firm, maintaining eye contact with the girl in front of her. If anyone there could sense auras, they would have noticed something wake up inside of Eva’s aura that filled her with power.
“Give me the toy,” Eva commanded. Her voice leaked with power as she spoke. There was no doubt that there was something magical in her voice.
The other girl gave up the toy with no question. She didn’t even try to object. She had to. Eva took the toy happily.
“Eva,” Nexa called out. “Come here, please.”
Eva looked at her mother. She was confused but obeyed immediately.
“Could you do that again?” Nexa asked.
“Do what?” Eva questioned.
Nexa smiled and stated, “Get them to do what you want.”
Eva shrugged and replied, “Sure, Mother.”
The rest of the afternoon Eva charmed the people out of their possessions and controlled their actions. Sometimes it took a few tries, but, in the end, people would do as she wanted. Eva wondered if she should feel so happy while doing it. Her conflictions ceased when at the end of the day she saw how happy her mother was. Nexa was hard to please, so that meant that Eva was doing well.
A few years later, once Eva had mastered her ability to control people, Nexa and her left town.
“Why are we leaving?” Eva asked.
“Because we progressed all we could in that town,” Nexa answered. “That’s the number one rule, never stop progressing. We can become more powerful yet. Especially as we start to see what else you can do with your magic.”
“Yes, Mother,” Eva replied.
Later Eva was kneeling on the ground, gasping for breath. The boulders she had been levitating have dropped to the ground. They were a few months older, wearing nicer clothes.
“Why did you stop?” Nexa yelled.
“I can’t do it anymore,” Eva gasped. “I’m not powerful enough.”
Nexa stepped in front of her daughter and with a low, threatening voice asked, “Are you saying you’re weak?”
Eva couldn’t even look up into her mother’s eyes. Her mother had to pry her head up in order to look into her eyes. There were tears in the corner of them.
“Don’t be weak like your father,” Nexa commanded. “He’s the most powerful magical creature in this land, a sorcerer, yet he wasted his gifts. He could have helped you, helped us, helped others. He didn’t. He ran away. So be strong and gain the power to do that which he couldn’t even imagine. Progress until you are higher than he can ever reach. Understand?”
Eva slowly nodded. She blinked away the tears. She would not be her father. There was no one in this world she hated more than her father. The only good thing she got from him was her magic, and she would use it to become better than anyone thought she could be.
Eva grew. Her mother and her practiced more and more. Her magic was improving, but not at the rate Nexa wished. Nexa couldn’t seem to accept that there were limits to Eva’s powers. Only when Eva would pass out with over exhaustion did her mother relent. Then she would calm down for a while, stop pushing Eva so hard. However, it was only a matter of a few months until she would start pushing Eva again.
Nexa became richer and more successful. Most of the time, it was because of her own work, but other times it was because Eva would lend a little magical help. When this happened, Nexa was pleased and would do so many nice things for Eva.
The public didn’t know about Eva’s powers. She was Nexa’s biggest secret and most powerful weapon.
Eva at first was reluctant to help her mother that way. She had to be relentless to put people under her control like how her mother wanted her to do it. She had to take their will power and crush it. At first that was hard to do, but as her mother kept praising her successes it slowly got easier. Eva slowly changed her attitude about it then.
Eventually she began to enjoy the sensation of her relentlessly crushing someone’s will. It was satisfying achieving that level of victory.
Nexa and Eva never stop progressing. Only when they progressed were they happy. Nothing was worse than staying in one place.
After time, Eva started taking things into her own hands if they weren’t moving. She only felt happy when she was progressing. She needed to progress.
Nexa got sick. It wasn’t long before Eva and her found out she wasn’t going to make it. Even though they spent almost all their money for possible cures, none of them worked. The last few months they spent together, Eva took constant care of her mother.
The last act her mother had Eva do was swear that she would never stop progressing. Then she moved on from that life. Eva was left with only a few coins, a promise she made, her magic, and a resolve that could never be shaken. She would keep progressing. She would be relentless.
Eva first tracked down her father. She hated her father and always dreamed about taking vengeance on him for abandoning his wife and daughter.
Falk was in a small town. He was the town drunk. He was in debt. He was a disappointment.
Eva walked up to him one day. He had no idea who she was. She talked to him, trying to see if it was possible for him to feel some remorse for leaving his family. He didn’t though, he was proud of it.
Eva reacted in rage and with her powers, the powers she got from him, and killed him. She never was able to do that strong of magic before and would be annoyed that she could never summon them again.
The next day, the town Sheriff would find Falk lying on the edge of town dead, looking as if he was struck by lightning. His magic book, the only valuable object he possessed, was taken from him. They thought it was a robbery gone wrong, not revenge.
Eva loved the magic book she found on her father. Her mother had Eva try to do magic just by thinking about what she wanted to do and having her do it. But the magic book explained the different types of spells and how come she couldn’t do some things because they were too powerful for her limited power. It was then that she wasn’t a sorceress like her mother thought, only an enchantress.
She did feel strange about killing someone. In the future, she decided only to kill if she had to. It was easier to just put them under her control.
She looked at this book every night as she headed to her next destination, Ranvier.
Eva found her way to Ranvier. She studied its system and who was in the different positions. She only had eyes on the throne. She would be powerful, far more powerful than anyone thought she would become. She would be a queen.
She determined that the fastest way to the throne would be to marry in. She was in her twenties and attractive. She could be nice when she wanted to be. No one would wonder why she was chosen as a wife, even if no one had ever heard about her before.
She found Tark at a social gathering. He was the best choice for her to choose. It was hard to get him alone. He kept around King Arion and the King’s personal bodyguard, the familiar, Zurex.
King Arion was young, but he had power. Everyone with a little bit of intelligence could tell he was in control of the place. Eva recognized him as a threat from the beginning. Anyone who thought Arion was just a kid and that he could be manipulated in politics would find themselves being crushed before they realized what just happened.
Eva realized that right away. She then knew that she would have to kill him, instead of putting him under control like she originally debated. There could only be one person in charge, and Arion wouldn’t go down quietly.
Once Tark was finally alone, Eva approached him. They engaged in small talk. Eva started to layer her voice with magic, and started to draw him in. He spent the rest of the night with her, as she started to attach her strings on him. Everyone else thought that the pretty, nice girl had simply caught his interest.
Eva eventually got control over Tark. It was hard, but she could handle it. She was relentless enough. Tark realized what happened too late. He was trapped inside his own body. Eva married into the steward’s family. She was only one step away from the throne. She was happy.
The biggest problem was her hiding her real intentions from Arion. He was sharp, very observant. She had to use years of lying experience to fool him. She worked actively to avoid him just in case. Once she had Tark suggest that Arion made her a little nervous with his humorless and cold attitude, then he didn’t think much about why he barely saw her around.
In the end, she was pretty sure that he just began to think of her as Tark’s shy wife, which was exactly what she wanted him to think. Although, she could have sworn that sometimes he managed to stare through her and almost completely figured her out.
Despite Arion’s opposition, Eva couldn’t help but to start thinking about what to do once she got the throne. She would probably end up trying to take other territories. She was looking forward to the challenge.
The only thing she was concerned about was what would happen to her after she was gone. She started to want an heir. Someone she could give everything to. She could have them become more powerful compared to anyone else (except maybe herself). She could have someone she trusted take over once she went to her grave. She always wanted a family. She decided to have an heir.
She did stop to think about the practical applications for a moment, after she had already decided to do it. She thought that it would help secure the throne even more because there was a next heir. It would make the people a bit more accepting.
With all this in mind, she didn’t hesitate to put her plan in action.
The happiest day of Eva’s life was when her son was born. She already loved him more than anything. He would receive everything she could give him. He will become a force to be reckoned with.
Tark came up with the name Argi. Eva liked it because it was the name of kings. Her son would be a king.
She decided not to kill Arion right away. She wanted to adjust a little to being a mother before becoming queen.
A few months later, Eva summoned Tark in to have a private talk.
“It’s time,” Eva announced. “I want Arion and Zurex gone within the next week.”
Tark was pushing and trying with all his might to fight against her, but it was too late.
“Yes,” Tark eventually replied. He walked away. Eva went to go check on Argi. Things were about to get better for them.
Tark captured Arion. He was furious when one of the guards killed Zurex. He did order the guards to catch them alive, but they were better at following Eva’s intended orders than he was.
At least Arion is alive, he thought to himself as Zurex’s body was being burned in Arion’s place. She wanted them gone. They are gone, but Arion is not dead.
Tark fought against the strings all the time, and every once and awhile he had small victories.
Eva was ecstatic when she became Queen of Ranvier. She was keeping her promise to always progress. Her son was going to be a future king. Power made her happy. She didn’t care that it was a fake crown on her head because the power was still hers.
Over the next few months, she started putting strings on Ranvier’s council. She started to control all the laws. She was unstoppable. She enjoyed working behind the scenes though. She was safe, in a way, in case it didn’t work out. The people would go after Tark if they found out how exactly he got to be king, allowing her to slip away.
It helped that she managed to get her hands on an artifact that hid her aura from others. Whenever she was around an elf or sorcerer she was sure to use it. It helped people trust her even more.
She didn’t care for the people that she used. All she needed was her son, power, and position.
In the end, Ranvier wasn’t enough. She set her eyes on Tardon next.
Months later, there was a break in at the Royal vaults. The real crowns were gone.
Fury swept through her. She could only think of one explanation for this.
She forced the truth out of Tark. Arion was alive. She was experiencing more anger than she ever had before.
“I said I wanted him dead!” she screamed at Tark.
“You said you wanted him gone,” he grunted back.
She let out a scream of pure anger before yelling, “Next time I say I want someone gone, I mean I want them lying dead in a pool of their own blood. Understand?”
“Yes,” Tark murmured sadly.
Eva’s mind was spinning; she had to find a solution and fast. It was time to take drastic measures. She grabbed an object used to summon demons from the vault. She would not let King Arion come near Nextar. She’ll also send the Royal Guard after them for good measure.
Eva didn’t have time to stop the attack on Tardon. She’ll have to go forward with the plans there, despite her other concerns.
Eva knew that somehow Arion had helped stop the Shadow’s assassination attempt. She knew it. He had to be working with someone. They would be dangerous. She constantly wondered who was helping Arion. She had no way to find out and that made her even more furious.
Eva had to find a way out of this mess.
There must be a solution, she thought to herself. Until then I’ll have to use caution. Always have guards around, a lot of them. The only time I wouldn’t be able to have many with me is the council meetings, due to the magic surrounding them, but I‘ll have the council there to control. But how is Arion doing this?
“Raven,” Artemis called again.
I was still spinning. I couldn’t tell where I was at first. Everything was out of focus. It was like all my senses seemed like they turned off.
Will the demon pull through? Eva thought. Is it possible Arion is creating a tentrite weapon?
“Raven, snap out of it, or I’ll kill you,” Arion told me.
I was aware that he was shaking me. I somehow ended on the ground I realized as my sense of touch was coming back. My hearing was working but everything was far away.
Eva felt concerned. No. Not concerned. Afraid. Everything she worked towards would be for nothing. Someone was trying to take away her power.
Shade started barking at me. I then found myself feeling somewhat attached to my body. I tried to speak but all that came out was a long groan. I found that a strange soreness was starting to creep in. I could seem to feel it throughout my whole body.
The more I came to my senses the more I realized why everything felt so wrong. It seemed as if my aura had been used to the point of exhausting my whole body. It felt like I did the most intense physical trial ever and was dealing with what it felt like right after completing it.
“What did you do to me?” I was finally able to groan.
“I was using your aura as a path to the energy of this realm like I said I would,” Hekate answered. “But then your companions here started to interfere.”
“He was starting to convulse, and you just continued to use him!” Artemis yelled at her, fury burning with every word. “He just had a seizure.”
“So, what did you do?” I asked.
“They pulled you away from me severing the connection!” Hekate yelled. “I was about to see the possibilities of how the future could play out!”
“Oh, so it’s okay to know the future, even if it costs someone their life!” Arion then shouted. It was turning into quite the screaming match.
“Knowledge sometimes comes at a price!” the seer screamed.
“Some knowledge isn’t worth the price!” Arion yelled this as he started to sit me up.
“Can you move?” he asked me quietly, something sounding like concern coming from his voice.
Since I was finally coming to my senses, I started to wonder why they seemed so upset. The only explanation I could think of was that they cared for me or something along those lines. But I shrugged the impossible idea away and focused on moving instead.
I started trying to get up, but strangely lost balance.
“Sorry, Raven, but this will be easier,” Artemis told me. She then hoisted me up over her shoulder. She got up and easily started to carry me out. It made me remember how strong vampires could be.
“Let’s get out of here,” Arion grumbled, as we moved forward.
“Agreed,” Artemis declared.
For me everything was out of focus, especially with my sense of touch. After a moment, I realized that most of my problem was that I was tired, more tired than I had ever remembered being.
“I could have helped you more,” Hekate told them.
“You helped enough, thank you,” Arion grunted as we left the seer behind.
I was going to stay awake, but before I knew it I fell asleep as Artemis carried me away from the seer’s house.
When I woke up, I realized that the others seemed to be waking up too. We were all in Arianna’s front room sleeping on the ground, since she didn’t have any more beds in the house.
Artemis stood up straight and announced, “Hey, Raven’s waking up!”
Arion, who had been pacing, as he did in the morning to keep himself from falling asleep again, said, “Really?” I tried to figure out what tone of voice he said that with and in the end had no idea.
I sat up as I replied, “Yes.”
“Are you feeling okay?” Artemis asked me.
“Yes,” I answered. “I feel like I could sleep for three more hours, but other than that I’m perfectly functional.”
I was searching all over myself to double check, and I found that it was accurate. My body seemed like it always did.
Artemis hugged me as she told me, “That’s great!”
“What is up with you and hugs?” I questioned.
“Just go with it, Raven,” Arion told me as he sat down next to me.
“Okay,” I murmured.
“Sorry for going to the seer,” Artemis told me as she let go. “Apparently the only thing that we learned was that Eva was an enchantress and almost got you killed.”
“And I saw all of Eva’s life in this weird vision thing,” I commented.
“What?” Arion asked.
I then realized they had no idea what happened to me. I ended up telling them about the weird visions I saw from Eva’s life as we found some food to eat and long afterwards. We ended up then discussing the new information we got and how that changed things moving forward.
The next day, when it was around noon, we gathered with Arianna. She was almost done with the knife. She was starting the imprinting process. Arion, Artemis, and Shade were watching silently in the corner. Meanwhile, I was right next to her for the process.
The knife was turning out to be in the same shape as my other eleven knives. The difference between this knife and the others was the metal being used.
Arianna then announced, “The process will begin. It’s really simple actually. I’ll need a few of your hairs and a few drops of your blood.”
I then provided those to her. That was definitely the first time anyone had ever told me that.
Arianna put my hair and blood in a liquid solution. She stuck it over the fire and stirred it.
“That’s interesting,” she murmured to herself. “I’ve never seen it go a black color before.”
“What does it usually look like?” Arion asked.
Arianna finished stirring it as she answered, “The white liquid usually turns to a light color like gold, sky blue, or a light green.”
As we thought about this, Arianna then took the liquid out and smeared about three-fourths of it on the nearly completed knife.
She then handed me the rest of it and told me, “Bottoms up.”
I decided to just chug it down, since it most likely was going to taste terrible. As I did though, I realized it actually tasted rather sweet.
Arianna nodded, satisfied once I finished.
“Now, I would like you all to leave as I complete this last part,” she informed us. “I work better when people aren’t watching me.”
We crept out of the room.
“So how did it taste?” Artemis asked.
“Not bad,” I commented.
“That’s good because it didn’t look good at all,” Arion said. I just shrugged and began to think about what I should do as I waited for the knife to be finished.
Later that day when dusk came, Arianna came out with the finished product. To say that I was impressed was to make a huge understatement. The knife literally felt like the best knife I ever held.
“Are you sure you did this in three days?” I asked as I tested the knife.
“Yes, I am,” Arianna answered. “Believe it or not tentrite is a lot easier to forge than most metals are. So, are you heading off tomorrow?”
“Yes we are,” Artemis answered.
She nodded and asked, “What route are you taking?”
“We’re taking The Mountain Pass,” Arion answered.
They came up with that path when I was asleep. Logically I saw it was the best choice for us to go. Eva would have the least amount of power over that path due to its location and people in the area. But emotionally I was thinking about how much I hate mountains. It was the closest path to Nextar though, so I had to just go forward with this plan.
“I have some supplies I can give you,” Arinna told us. “I’ll inform the Society about Eva.”
“Thank you,” Artemis replied.
Arianna brushed it off my saying, “Anything. As long as you get that enchantress off the throne.”
“With pleasure,” I commented as the last of the embers burned out.