Twice Upon A Sword

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Chapter 3- The Fall of Andreas

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As the years began to slowly tick by, Eleanora grew up beautifully and gracefully despite having such an adventurous personality and with her beauty grew her strength and with her strength grew the love people had for her.

She was the youngest yet she was one of the strongest mages in all of Andreas and could easily be called the most beautiful of them all. Her strength knew no bounds, with the click of her fingers, erupted the most colourful flowers and with the wave of a hand, clouds dispersed to make way for the sun before reappearing to make it rain.

She brought in abandoned animals, treated them before sending them on their way when they were ready but the one animal that always stood by her side was Apollo who was beginning to grow old and tired.

Now, at the ripe age of 19, a week after her birthday and Eleanora was in the conference meeting with the rest of the high mages. Her father sat, a forlorn look on his face, at the head of the table as he took in the words of one of the members.

“The mages are being worn out. If we continue living like this- Andreas will fall,” It was the hard truth but it had to be faced.

“Nora, what do you think?” Arturo asked.

Eleanora sat on her father’s right-hand side, looking through some papers with a concentrated look on her face. She wore a white dress that tumbled down to the ground and hugged her in all the perfect places, a cape rested on her shoulders with her hair falling to her waist in golden waves and resting on the shoulders of the cape were golden hand-embroidered designs.

She looked beautiful and everyone could see that.

“I-I don’t know,” She said, rejected. Placing the papers on the table, she looked down at her interlocked hands which rested on her thighs with a disappointed sigh.

“Don’t lose hope yet. No matter what happens, Andreas must not fall. Humans are living their lives beneath us, we cannot endanger their lives as well as our own,” Arturo slammed his fists onto the table, jolting everyone up in surprise.

“Then... what should we do?” His daughter meekly asked. “We can’t keep endangering the lives of the mages and continue to survive, the truth is that we need more mages but there aren’t anymore and Andreas takes a lot of energy to keep afloat,” She boldly said.

“We need to come up with something,” She huffed, running her fingers through her hair which she had never cut except for the occasional trim.

“For now, we must move Andreas to a place where there are no humans on the land beneath us and continuously rotate the mages around every few hours so we can all preserve our energy without risking our lives,” Arturo said and everyone nodded in agreement.

The meeting continued for another hour or so until everyone slowly filed out of the room, leaving only Arturo and Eleanora.

“Are you feeling unwell, papa? You’ve not been sleeping well for the past few days and you’ve been providing the most energy to the city,” Eleanora asked her father as he slouched down in his seat, tilting his head back and closing his eyes.

She went behind him and placed her hands on his shoulders as she began massaging them. A smile crept onto his face but no words were spoken.

“Do you know what I wish for?” Arturo asked after a long while.

“For Andreas to stay alive?” She guessed.

“That... but something else as well,” He peeked through one of his eyelids and chuckled at the thinking face of his daughter before finally deciding to put her out of her misery.

“For you to smile, my darling daughter. I want to see you live a wondrous life surrounded by people you love and people who love you,”

“Then I already have that, papa. Who do you think you are? A stranger?” She joked and he breathed out a small laugh.

“You are beautiful, Nora. You are brave, strong, dedicated and resilient. I knew you would become a great person one day and I was right... but your life has only started... and I will do anything to make sure you live a life worth saving,”

“I appreciate the compliments, papa... but why do you talk as if you’re getting ready for battle?” She raised a suspicious brow at him but he didn’t reply.

“I am tired. I’m going to retire for the day, make sure you don’t stay up for too long either, okay?” Eleanora nodded as she watched her father make his way out of the room and sadly continued to stare after him even when he was out of sight.

She missed seeing his happy self, one that wasn’t constantly burdened by the struggles of leadership. His eyes had grown dull, his body slumping and face ragged despite how young he was.

However, it wasn’t only Eleanora that knew but rather the rest of the mages that inhabited the city of Andreas too. The fact that Andreas was in danger and if nothing was done about it soon then the whole city would collapse, along with everyone in it and under it.

“What am I to do, Apollo?” She asked the old lion that curled up under the shade of the large tree but got no reply. “I can’t bear to see them all suffer,” She sighed, looking up at the rays of the sun that shined through the fresh leaves that hung off the branches of the large tree.

That night, Eleanora was dressed in a simple white dress as she stared at her reflection in the mirror and combed through the tendrils of golden hair that rested on one side of her neck.

Humming a small tune to herself, she was caught completely off guard when a large vibration racked her entire room and self to the very core and with a surprised yelp, she fell off her seat and fell to the ground.

“Huh?”

For a moment, after everything had settled down, Eleanora cautiously looked around herself and her room, wondering if what had just happened was just a crazy figment of her wild imagination.

But alas, when another jolt ran through the area, she jumped up from the ground and confirmed that this was all real.

Running out of her room, she ran through the hallways of the crumbling palace barefoot, hands clutching onto the sides of her gown.

“What’s happening!?” Eleanora burst through the doors of the control room where the last mages of Andreas where rushing around, there couldn’t have been more than 50 people here.

“Papa!” Eleanora called her panicking father and he jolted forward, gripping onto her shoulders.

A forlorn look clouded Arturo’s features, his eyes sparkled with unshed tears, begging the gods that this was all just a dream... but it wasn’t and Eleanora didn’t need anyone to specify anything since she didn’t need to guess twice to know what was happening.

And she was right.

If only she wasn’t.

“Andreas is falling...”

“Half of you go down to the land to warn the humans and help evacuate them out of the area. The other half do whatever you can to delay Andreas from falling faster than it already is!” Arturo shouted his last command to his fellow mages.

“And try not to die!” He added on, grinding his teeth in anger.

“I have a lot of magic preserved, I’ll help to go delay the fall,” Eleanora told her father before spinning around but his hand on her shoulder stopped her.

She waited for him to say something but Arturo kept his mouth shut as he glared at the ground as if he were having an angry mental debate with himself.

“Papa. What’s wrong?-”

She gasped in surprise when Arturo lunged forward, his hand tightening around her wrist as he ran out of the room and towards the east library. “Papa! What are you doing!? We have to help everyone!” Eleanora shouted.

“Trust me, Nora. I made a promise to you on the day we met. No matter what will become of this world, of this city, of me- I will never allow for any danger to befall you, I’ll protect you and I’ll do anything to keep you safe and keep that wondrous smile on your face,” Arturo panted as he rushed through the falling palace.

But Eleanora didn’t say anything, she was confused but she didn’t look away from her father’s back. He was shaking. Was it from worry? Fear? Tiredness? Or possibly all of them?

Eleanora was scared, her father’s words rang through her head and she wanted to hug him like he always hugged her, she wanted to tell him that everything was going to be okay. That it didn’t matter if Andreas were to fall because if everyone tried together, they could all survive.

But that made it sound easier than it was and Arturo was a smart man.

“And I intend on keeping that promise,”

Slamming the doors to the library open, Arturo stormed in and walked further into the room as he began shuffling through the bookshelves that rested against the walls.

“Papa. I don’t understand,” Eleanora quietly whispered out, shaking.

Even from this distance, the screams were deafeningly loud. Mages shouting orders at one another, screaming in pain, in fear, in desperation. The city was shaking, it was falling and so were all the mages.

How many would survive? How many would die?

“Ah, here!” Arturo clapped his hands and threw the bookshelf out of the way and Eleanora watched as it tumbled through the sky before crashing onto the ground in many broken pieces with the wood flying in all directions, releasing a resounding boom that didn’t seem to be as loud as the beating of her heart in her ears.

“Come,” Arturo grabbed his daughter’s hand and ran through the gap in the wall and rushed down the stairs, tripping the whole way but he continued nonetheless.

“I-I don’t understand...” Eleanora quivered, confused by her father who’s supposed to be valiantly helping the other mages instead of acting suspiciously.

“I’m sorry, Nora. I promised you a lifetime of happiness but I’m afraid I won’t be able to be here to see you experience that,” Arturo smiled at her as he pulled out a chest and opened it. Digging through the gold coins, Arturo yelped in relief when he pulled out a sword.

It was a beautiful longsword with a long blade that went well past the distance from Arturo’s shoulders to his fingertips. A double-edged blade where the metal was shiny enough to blind someone and a golden cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use.

Arturo stared down at the hilt of the blade which was encrusted with golden jewels and despite how it looked, it was comfortable to hold.

Eleanora simply stared at her father but didn’t dare say a word and watched carefully as he made his way towards her, a loving smile on his face.

“I love you, Nora,” He placed an assuring hand on her cheek.

“As do I, papa,” She replied bravely.

“Now... Let’s go help everyone,” She jumped to get away, thinking that Arturo went through all this trouble to get the sword but she was wrong and failed in running away when her father grasped onto her wrist tightly.

With one hand, Arturo grabbed her wrist and spun her body towards him and with the other hand, he tightly clutched onto the hilt of the sword before swinging it up.

The tearing of skin was heard as the blade dug through Eleanora’s stomach and peeked out of her back.

It took some time for what just happened to clearly process through her mind. Even the pain of getting stabbed happened slower than it was supposed to.

It was as if time itself was lagging and Eleanora saw the next few moments in slow motion, not being able to believe it even though the evidence was right in front of her.

He stabbed her.

He put a sword through her chest.

“W-Why?” She gasped.

Biting her lip and squeezing her eyes shut at the pain while tears slowly slid down her face but she didn’t dare to let herself scream as her body rested forward on her father’s as if demanding his warmth and he didn’t hesitate to give it to her.

With tears staining his own cheeks, Arturo hugged Eleanora’s body tightly to his and stroked her hair, nuzzling his cheek against her hair as he sobbed.

“Because... I don’t want to see you die,” He said simply.

“I don’t understand,” She coughed and tumbled forward onto her knees, resting her chin on her father’s shoulder as the blood seeped out of her mouth and the deep red colour of her blood-stained both of their clothes.

“You will soon. I love you, Eleanora. Today, tomorrow and always... I love you, I love you, Nora. Forgive me for leaving you and be happy. I’ll always be watching you,”

It was odd.

She was the one that had a sword going through her body, she was the one that was coughing out blood, she was the one that was dying... but why did it seem as if it was Arturo that was dying.

“Papa...” Eleanora called as her vision began to fade.

“I love you, papa,” She whispered out her last words before her hands dropped to her sides and her face fell off his shoulder but Arturo caught her.

With muffled cries, his body shook uncontrollably as he stared down at his dead daughter.

Lifeless eyes which used to be the most beautiful shade of orange no longer glistened, blood coating her once plump, pink lips and her honey-kissed skin was now as white as a sheet of paper.

With shaky hands, Arturo moved down to shut the dead eyes of his daughter and leaned forward to kiss her forehead.

“I take it back, Nora... Don’t forgive me, ever,” He mumbled before smiling at her lightly.

Then, Arturo clapped his hands once.

The resounding echo was loud enough to silence the destruction of Andreas for a mere moment and in that short moment, a light emerged, a bright light filled with all the colours of the flowers that Eleanora loved and in that light, Eleanora vanished... along with the sword.

And in the moment after that, the only thing left was the dead body of Arturo.

Looking lonely and cold yet peaceful and happy. With closed eyes, his lips were tilted up in a small smile as he clutched onto a single tendril of golden hair.

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