We moved through the passageway. It was small, and it wasn’t large enough for me to stand up straight in. I was hunched over as I moved through it. Arion was lead, with me close behind. Artemis was next with Shade bringing up the rear.
After moving for about a minute, we reached the end of the passage. We all stopped. The passageway was still sealed on their side, so they couldn’t be aware of our presence yet.
“Raven, how does the situation look?” Arion asked quietly.
I strained my senses to try and sense everything in the Council Room in great detail. The room wasn’t very large. It had a rectangular table with nine chairs around it. There were two at the head of the table at the side of the room farthest from the entrance, but they were the closest to the passage. Then there were three chairs on the left and four on the right.
There were three women and six men. It was a little unsettling that all of them were armed. Five out of the six men and two women had swords on them. The other man had a battle-ax. The last woman had only a throwing knife on her, but I realized that it was Eva and that she didn’t need it. She seemed to radiate power.
I relayed this information to them. We came to the conclusion that the man and woman at the end of the table were Eva and Tark. Eva was powerful and as strong as she could be. She sat up strong and firm. She was around average height and build, but she held herself up as if she were seven feet tall and loved showing off her height. The enchantress was right at home.
Tark, however, didn’t seem to be faring well. Though he was tall, he was only skin and bones. He wasn’t anywhere near the weight a man that size should be at. It was as if he hadn’t been eating at all. I knew this was the effect of being under an enchantress’s control for so long. It was draining him. The only way we could help him at that point was to kill Eva.
When I thought about that, I looked a little closer at the other Council Members and saw they were also starting to lose weight. They weren’t unhealthy thin yet, but they were all on the thin side. This suggested that Eva had been using quite a bit of magic on them too.
Arion, Artemis, and maybe even Shade seemed to just have to take this information in. They didn’t seem ready to act.
“Come on, we decided, this is our best chance,” I commented.
The others nodded.
“Yeah, sorry,” Arion whispered. “I guess I feel a little nervous fighting against people who will be fighting us against their will.”
“Understandable,” I replied.
“Good news is they will be free at the end of the fight,” Artemis told us.
I nodded as I tried to get my longbow ready.
“What are you doing?” Artemis asked.
“I’m going to try and shoot Eva before she can act,” I answered. “Maybe then this thing won’t escalate into a large fight.”
“Ready?” Arion asked as I pulled out an arrow. We all agreed we were as ready as we could be given the situation.
Arion opened the passageway, and we burst inside. I quickly aimed my bow at Eva and shot at her. Even though she was sitting down, I had a clear shot at her head. The arrow flew towards her. It made it a few inches away from her. Then, just my luck, it appeared she placed protection charms on herself. The arrow stopped and hit the ground.
Eva quickly sat up to see who just tried to assassinate her. Once she noticed us, specifically Arion I believed, I felt her powers flare up.
“Kill the intruders,” Eva commanded her puppets. After her order, the Council Members and Tark sprang into action. Tark, who had been controlled so often, couldn’t even fight back, so he was the first person up and withdrew his sword. The other council members who haven’t been under her spell as much had varying degrees of reaction. Some of them, it took no time at all. Others fought it for a short while, but all were overcome by Eva’s powers. Arion, Artemis, Shade, and I made a small circle and started to fight off the incoming people.
Arion was holding off the man with the ax and another man with a sword. Artemis was dealing with two people with swords. Shade was battling someone with a sword. I was battling three guys with swords. One of those guys was Tark, and Arion was right about him being great with a sword.
We were all focusing on blocking strikes. We couldn’t even land one of our own too many strokes were coming at us. Even if we could land blows, we wouldn’t want to land any that would cause serious damage. It wasn’t their fault that Eva was doing this.
Three strikes came in at once for me. I angled my sword to catch two of them and caught the third with one of my knives. So far, I was able to maintain regular heartbeat and breathing.
“So, now what?” Artemis shouted. Since she was a vampire, only certain weapons could hurt her. One of the people she was fighting didn’t have a weapon that hurt vampires, so Artemis literally was letting one person hit and beat her continually, but it wasn’t doing any harm. Meanwhile, she would grab and dodge the other guy’s weapon because it would actually wound her.
“Stay alive,” Arion shouted as he was using his sword to block the battle-ax and was using his crown to block the sword. (I couldn’t help but to think that it was a well-made crown to be able to stand that much pressure. Then I remembered it was forged with magic.)
I had to duck in order for Tark not to take off my head.
“Guys, I think it’s time for you to come up with a plan!” I shouted as I blocked three more strokes.
Shade barked in agreement as he bit a guy in the leg then darted out of the way of his sword.
“Isn’t fighting more your area?” Arion questioned as he blocked an upper hand sword thrust.
“They aren’t when I’m not killing the people,” I answered as I kicked one guy hard in the knee in order to deflect his sword thrust, while blocking strokes from the other two. “But, these people are just under a spell, and even I don’t want them to die because of that.”
“What you need to do is kill Eva,” Artemis responded as she tried to punch the person whose weapon she’s been avoiding, but instead that person stepped back, and she hit the person right next to them and sent them flying backwards. “But, there’s that whole eye contact thing going on there. I don’t think any of us can kill her without looking into her eyes, and I heard that if an enchantress tries hard enough they can control someone at first glance.”
I then blocked two sword thrusts and replied, “That uses up all of their powers though. Also, some of us can’t look into anything.”
“That’s right!” she shouted enthusiastically as she grabbed the hilt of the person’s sword and yanked it out of their hand. She then kicked them away from her. She was kind enough then to fight one of the people I’ve been fighting.
“Well, Eva certainly is in for a shock,” Arion replied as he used his sword to pry one of the swords out of one of the men’s hands. The man responded by trying to punch Arion in the face.
“Anything else you’d like me to do?” I asked as I blocked the two strokes again and attempted to land an underhand stroke, but Tark caught it.
“If you can get Tark out of the fight without severely injuring him that would be nice,” Arion replied as he blocked the battle-ax again.
At this I groaned.
“Why me?” I asked.
“Because he can run any of the rest of us through within fifteen seconds,” Arion told me.
At first, I was lost on how to even get out of this circle, but then an idea popped in my head.
“When I leave the circle close up my space,” I ordered them as I attempted to thrust my knife at one person, but they blocked it. “And, Arion, I’m going to need to use your back.”
“What?” he exclaimed as he lifted his sword to block a swing from the ax aimed right at his chest.
Right as he applied to force to block the ax, I jumped up, bent my knees, and pushed my feet against his back. I then angled myself, so I sprang upward. When I jumped again, I shot up over Tark’s head and landed feet first behind him. The impact sent a jolt up my legs. I once again felt grateful that I had elfish physical abilities.
I checked myself to find my breathing harder than normal. I worked to try and get it back to normal.
As I left, my companions closed up the gap where I was standing. Shade was still fighting that one swordsman, Artemis was fighting two swordsmen, and Arion was back to fighting a swordsman and the ax man. Tark turned around to face me as I hoped, and two of the council members were still unconscious. The odds were getting slightly better.
I whipped around just in time to block one of Tark’s strokes with my sword. I then thrust my knife at him to have him hurry to deflect it. I’m not sure how long we struck and blocked each other’s weapons. It certainly felt like a long time, even though it really wasn’t.
My main problem was I wasn’t trying to kill Tark, but he was trying to kill me. If it were the other way around, things would be so much easier, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I killed him. Tark was innocent, but Eva wasn’t.
I then formulated an idea in my head. I started to press Tark towards the open chamber doors. Eva opened them to see if the guards outside of the door were there. To her surprise, they were gone and no other guards were around. So she stayed to make sure the job was done. She wasn’t going to let Arion live again like Tark did.
As we moved closer to the doors Tark did little to stop me. For the most part, he didn’t seem to see any difference from moving the fight farther from the other fight, so he did little to try to stop it. I, at one point, wondered if he was trying to get farther from Arion by allowing me to push him away in my fight. If so, then it worked to both of our favors as he allowed me to push him out into the hall.
He then faked an overhand stroke but instead aimed his sword at my throat. His moves were so quick I could barely bring up my sword in time to deflect it. His sword managed to slice my shoulder. It was only slightly deeper than skimming the surface, but it certainly stung.
I decided to play it to my advantage. As his sword was sliding part way through my shoulder I dropped my knife, grabbed his right wrist, and dropped down. Since his sword was in his right hand, as I twisted his wrist so that his sword twisted in his grasp. I managed to move out of the way of his sword so I didn’t get any more injuries from it. I then twisted his wrist hard enough that I heard the bones break in it. Only after that did he drop his sword.
I then pushed Tark onto his back and ran back inside the Council Chambers. I took the doors and slammed them shut. I quickly hurried to get the lock in place.
Tark managed to get up and was trying to break through the door. I could feel the door buckle underneath the pressure he was putting into it. I never thought someone with a broken wrist could push with that much force. It was going to take him a while to get in there though.
I stood back and checked myself. My heartbeat was normal, but my breathing was getting heavy.
I quickly checked on how the others were doing. They were holding up, barely. I could tell their hearts were racing. They wouldn’t last five more minutes.
The only other thing I had to do was kill Eva, then that whole thing would be over. Enchantresses never went down easily though.
The first thing I did was try to shoot Eva with my bow and some arrows, try to find a weak spot in her protection charms. There is usually one spot that protection charms couldn’t protect. But whatever her spot was I couldn’t seem to find it, or it wasn’t in an area that would make that much of a difference. It didn’t help that sometimes she seemed to deflect arrows for the fun of it. She even sent a few back my way, which I had to dodge. After about twelve arrows, I decided to ditch that plan.
I made my way across the room at full speed towards Eva. She saw me coming and then turned her knife into a sword.
I had my sword in my right hand and a knife in my left. When I came up to her she blocked my sword swing with her sword, and she blocked my knife with her magic. She then disengaged swords and attempted to stab me through the heart, but I managed to parry it out of the way.
She summoned some fire in her left hand and tried to burn me with it. I ducked and dodged the fire. I then used my knife to smack against her flaming hand. I heard the bones in her hand snap and felt the heat of the flames go out. She then whispered an incantation, and I felt magic sweep through her hand.
“Did you really think a broken hand was going to stop me?” she whispered, her voice sounded sweet and flowing, but it didn’t seem innocent like it was when she was a child. “I can heal injuries worse than that.”
She swung her sword at my neck, and I lifted mine to block it.
“It was worth a try,” I told her as our swords clanged together.
I felt her summon a lot of magic together. She was preparing for a powerful spell. I disengaged so I wouldn’t be in close proximity when the spell hit, but she then rushed forward and swung an upper-hand stroke at me. I blocked it, and we ended up facing each other. Our faces were lined up.
She spoke, and her voice was layered with so much magic it made my bones shake as she told me, “You don’t want to fight against me.”
I knew she was trying to take control of me, and I could feel strong magic in her voice. But I felt no desire to do her will. Her words sounded almost completely normal to me. The only reason for that was all because I couldn’t see those eyes of hers.
After a moment, she was confused that my push didn’t lessen. She took an involuntary step back.
“Sorry, Eva, but that old trick won’t work on me,” I informed her as I thrust my knife towards her heart.
She then jumped back, dodging my knife. She was beginning to breath hard. I imagined her trying to come up with explanations for why she couldn’t bring me under her control, but not coming up with anything.
I took the opportunity to check myself. My heartbeat was regular and my breathing was almost back to normal.
“Raven!” Arion shouted. “If you can hurry up, that would be nice!”
I checked on them to find that Shade was unconscious, Artemis was fighting three people, and Arion was also fighting three people.
Tark almost made his way back through the door.
Well, I better try to end this thing, I thought. It’s not like I wasn’t trying to end it earlier.
I then threw one of my knives at Eva. She used magic to deflect it. It barely passed her, instead of like the times I shot arrows at her. Those missed by a long shot, but this was more difficult. For her to deflect She must have expended a lot of energy trying to control me.
I pulled out another knife as I leaped close to her. She held her sword up to block me. I felt her take an involuntary step back. At this point, I realized I made her doubt she could win this fight, and that was more dangerous than any other weapon I could hit her with. Weapons could easily be deflected, but doubt couldn’t be.
I then came at her with an upper hand thrust with my sword. She then blocked it. I thrust my knife, and she blocked with her magic. She only blocked it enough that it stopped a bit from her skin. My knives and sword were forged with magic that could cut through simple protection charms. They appeared to work on Eva’s charms too.
We continued at this. I would quickly thrust my weapons, and she would attempt to block them. She was beginning to fall behind though. I was moving too quickly for her. She was getting tired and couldn’t keep up stroke, after stroke, after stroke. I managed to give her quite a few cuts as she desperately tried to stop me. I wasn’t able to land a serious blow, but I was getting close.
At this moment, I heard Tark manage to break into the room. A quick check told me the others weren’t doing well.
I then disengaged a few feet away from Eva. I threw my knife at her. She used magic to deflect it. During that time, I ran forward and stabbed her through the heart with my sword. She spent all of her energy trying to deflect the knife, so she didn’t see the sword coming. In the end, she couldn’t stop the sword. Once it went through, I felt her magic and her aura go out as if someone had snuffed a candle.
I pulled out my sword, and she then crumpled to the ground never to rule over anyone else ever again. The enchantress didn’t even get the chance to utter any last words.
At this moment, all those under Eva’s enchantment also dropped to the floor. I felt the magic inside them also start to die out. In the end, Eva only came to be a shadow in history.
Arion, Artemis, and I just stood there for a moment. Shade was now awake, but he was lying on the ground with a broken leg. The others had several cuts and bruises from their fight. I looked at myself to find my breathing and heart rate were regular, but I was also banged up. I got a bunch of bruises and the cut Tark gave me on the shoulder. I realized I was feeling exhausted.
After a moment of just standing, we all then spoke at the same time.
“I’ll check on Shade,” Artemis informed us.
“I better start looking to make sure we didn’t injure them too much,” Arion announced.
“I’ll go get a healer,” I also chimed in as we spoke simultaneously.
We all then paused for a moment before setting off to do what we just said.
Despite everything that just happened right then, I found myself moving along with a rather light step. It was done. Ranvier’s throne was reclaimed by its rightful King.