The wind wrapped her hair viciously around her face as the screams echoed ahead of her. She cursed herself for ever letting that bastard Kane twist her emotions enough to leave the kingdom defenseless. She should have bit her tongue and walked away, she should have never let herself fall into his little game, and she should have never left his side. But she did and now hundreds of innocent people were being slaughtered and all she could do was listen. Listen and pray she make it back in time. No matter their personal relationship she took an oath, she promised his mother she’d protect him, and she could never face Esther in the afterlife if she didn’t die trying. “Woah there.” She muttered pulling at the racing mare’s reins. Looking ahead, she figured her best bet would be to cut through the Everglades, a sorrowful forest she had hated since childhood. A small tear fell down her cheek as she turned her back on the people on the edge of town. As much as she wanted to save them all, much of the army would probably be marching north by now; and north was where the crown prince lived.
Oakley neighed harshly as she made her way through the forest. The old leaves crunched beneath her hooves as they hurried over the mess of twisted roots and fallen limbs. This path would have been last on Freya’s list of undesirable shortcuts to the palace, but she had no choice. The woods let out in the courtyard and she had to avoid detection from the Vax army, every second counted. It would take them at least an hour to march all the way north and if her calculations were correct, they would beat them by at least twenty minutes.
Ducking under a branch, they suddenly came to a stop. The surrounding air stilled, and Freya’s hand rested lightly on her bow. Shallowing her breathing, she surveyed the area around them, Oakley shifted her weight uncomfortably; letting out a quiet neigh as something rustled in the bushes. Freya squinted at the road beside her and nearly felt her heart drop into her stomach when a small rabbit hopped out and skittered across the road. “Oh,” She sighed, a breath of relief. “It’s just a rabbit.” Her hand found her way back to the reins as she gave the area around her one final look. Something didn’t sit right with her, but there was no time to investigate a change of wind.
“We’re almost there Oakley.” Freya’s heartbeat quickened and her eyes stiffened as she heard the pounds on the outer gate. Jumping off her horse and running to the back door she forced her way inside. The once beautiful tapestries of the royal family had been ripped and the entire palace smelled of smoke and death. The echoing screams at the outer wall were ear-piercing and she could hear a lone voice calling her name.
“Adrien” the name slid off her tongue in a soft whisper. Filled with horror and revenge she took off in a sprint towards the front of the castle. Of course that idiot wouldn’t hide like the prince he is, he’s probably at the front of the battle. Curse his valor. Freya felt hot streams on her cheeks as she feared for his life. The whole palace reverberated as the outer wall came down. She almost didn’t make it, and her horrible miscalculation could have cost everyone she ever knew. Not that it hasn’t already. She was certain her parents were dead; they were never fighters and her sister. Shuddering at the thought, Freya blinked away the pain. This was no time to be distracted by emotions, and as the world seemed to slow down around her, she ran faster than ever before.
She could hear the vicious growls as she got closer, following the once familiar blue walls she felt like a stranger in her own home. The beautiful archway windows were shattered and there were holes in the walls from the onslaught of attacks. She could feel the tension rise in her body as she held her breath. She’d make it in time, she had to. As the door finally got blown down, she heard the battle cries of the Vax and their growling mischievous language as they uttered their goodbyes to the prince and his army. Freya could see the twisted horns sticking up over the stocky bodies of Adrien’s army, and she could smell his breath from here. King Lucas the third. She thought he died years ago when he murdered the king and queen, Adrien’s parents.
As she heard his blade slice the air, aiming for the crown prince, her own sword met metal before she could even comprehend pulling it from its sheath. She stared into the beaming red eyes as she shoved his sword away. “Freya Kane, if you’re still going by that ridiculous surname. Still protecting the little orphan, I see.” He growled. “You have no right to speak my name. Now leave if you ever want to see the light of day again.”
“Oh, I have every right, and one day you’ll understand. But fine, we’ll leave. Say hello to those humans you call mom and dad on our way out will you? I hear they’re looking kind of thin these days.” Growling, Freya slashed her sword through his throat. “No!” ripped Adrien’s voice as his guards pulled him away. “Freya!” His scared voice was the last thing she heard before they were on her.
She heard cries and metal clash against metal as she parried a sword aimed for her stomach and stabbed the deliverer through the chest. Taking a moment to breathe she looked around her, there must have been thousands of these monsters and their odds of survival were low.
She managed to sink an arrow into the face of one charging at her with a mace, but for every one she killed there were three to replace him and two of the royal army fell. Two of her closest and only friends.
Sighing, Freya knew there was only one way to end this. Surrender and accept the consequences. Something she had never done before but this time there was no other way. Even if they did continue fighting, eventually they would all tire or fall and the remaining Vax would storm the castle and destroy everything she worked so hard to protect.
Hoping they were at least true to their dead king’s promise, she lowered her weapon. “What are you doing?” screamed a nearby guard she thought was Ruth, a stocky red-haired girl fond of punching things. “What has to be do-ah!” she screamed as a shield bashed her in the head. Muffled voices surrounded her like in a dream, and she felt the rocks move beneath her before everything was black.
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