Roderick rode between Dracia and Ethen as the sun went down in the horizon to their left. They were riding to the north of the kingdom, the green hills underneath them starting to become rocky and more mountainous. He looked over at his High Captain as she looked back at him.
“We will ride until the early morning hours,” said Dracia, steering her horse clear of a large rock. “Then we will take a few hours of rest for our horses and us before we press on.”
“Do you have a plan, Captain?” asked Lord Ethen, looking over Roderick at Dracia.
“I am working on one in my head at the moment. If you have any ideas, I will gladly hear them.”
They rode on for a while, stopping only once for a quick break. After they remounted and were well on their way, Dracia turned to Roderick.
“Did you hear of your brother’s heroics before you left, Roderick? I don’t know if any news had spread yet, but I am sure the novices will be talking about it soon. From what I know of Novice Tomas, he is not quiet.”
“No, Tomas is not known as one who holds his tongue, but I had not heard anything of Galen before we left. Would you like to enlighten me now?”
“We have nothing but time,” said Dracia as they rode on at a good pace.
Roderick listened as she recounted the injury Tomas had sustained. She told him of Galen’s actions and his ability to close the wound. Roderick felt wonder and pride in his little brother fill him as the Captain told the story.
“How long has your brother studied healing, Roderick?” asked Lord Ethen when the Captain had finished talking.
“He has been at the Royal Academy for less than two months. I think he had some very basic healing lessons from the lower academy, but nothing that would help him with what he did today,” replied Roderick.
“He sounds like he has an extraordinary and rare talent, then,” said Lord Ethen.
“I believe he is very talented, but he also works extremely hard. I don’t think Galen would stop studying or reading unless he was forced to socialize at night,” said Dracia.
“He will be a good Elite,” noted Roderick. “You must be pleased to think you could have a healer in the Sentinel.”
“I would be more than pleased to have a healer amongst us. You know how much that would strengthen the Sentinel, but I am not sure it is the right path for Galen.”
“He wants to be of the Sentinel. He has always dreamed of being an Elite,” said Roderick.
“Dreams change as we grow, experience things, and meet new people.” Dracia gave a long sigh. “I don’t know if I ever really dreamed of being where I am now. I thought perhaps I would like to study the Disciplines, but I don’t know if I ever thought I would actually be an Elite, let alone the High Captain.”
“Did you dream of a palace and a prince, Captain?” asked Lord Ethen, smiling slightly.
“I still dream of a prince, my lord,” said Dracia with a laugh. “I’m not sure about the palace part. Who I am now is not the young woman I was at eighteen.”
“Are any of us who we were at such a young age?” asked Lord Ethen. “If you dream of your prince, I imagine you will need to include the palace in some part of your dream. Though, perhaps, you will find a new way forward. Lanoxan could benefit greatly from a warrior queen. Perhaps you could lead the Sentinel as the king’s wife one day. The Sentinel was first led by a Cassendar after all.”
Dracia nodded I had forgotten that. It was a younger son I believe. I suppose the Cassendar power does make one a good choice to lead the Sentinel.”
“I’ve always wondered at the Cassendar’s staying behind their palace walls with the reputed power they have. Unless the power is nothing more than a myth.” Lord Ethen looked over at Dracia.
“It is not a myth. I have seen it,” said Dracia. “But it is not always stable or reliable, especially away from Winsdell or things that the Cassendar’s see as needing protection. I believe their shielding does very well wherever they go, but their strength and fighting power can go wrong very quickly if it isn’t kept under control.”
“Is that why you didn’t want the prince to accompany you?” asked Lord Ethen.
“One of the reasons, yes. I have been in many battles, my lord. There are times where it has looked grim. I have had some close scrapes in the past; it is just a part of this life, but if Leal were to see me in those kinds of situations…”
“He would have a very hard time controlling himself,” said Lord Ethen.
“Yes, and sometimes it is hard to control where that power goes. He would hate himself if he hurt someone he did not intend to attack.”
“Especially you, I imagine,” said Lord Ethen looking at Dracia. “He has hurt you unintentionally before, hasn’t he?”
Roderick looked at Dracia with concern.
“Yes, but it was very long ago, and I was barely injured. It wasn’t his fault. I was fourteen and out in the village with Leal. A man who obviously had too much to drink grabbed me. Leal’s power had just started to really build within him at that age. He didn’t know what he was doing. When the man grabbed me, Leal couldn’t control himself. His power threw me aside into a wall as the man was pushed away.
“I did hit my head rather hard. You know how head injuries tend to bleed. I think he thought he had killed me for a moment, but it was barely anything. He is much better at controlling it now, but I didn’t want to take a chance on such a delicate mission. He is also better off protected in the palace. With the situation with the king, Leal is the most important person in our kingdom.”
Roderick had never heard the story Dracia had told. He knew the Cassendars had old magic in them, and that they were rumored to be powerful, but Roderick had never witnessed it.
“Can he work on controlling and using his powers?” asked Roderick. “Are there things he can do to train with them?”
“I’m not sure. He has mostly worked on keeping them in control when he feels them building. They feed off his emotions, all his emotions.” Dracia’s lips held a hint of a smile.
Roderick smirked at her a little before he went on, “But the power given to the Cassendar’s must have been for a reason originally. It must have been to protect the kingdom. Perhaps, the prince and even the princess could learn to use their powers in a way that would be beneficial. Maybe they could learn to control them enough to be useful in a fight.”
“Did you train with your powers, Lord Ethan?” asked Dracia.
“I don’t know if train is the right word. I was encouraged to use them as a boy and better understand them. When I was taught to fight, I was told to use my power to guess my opponent’s next move, to enter their mind and be able to tell what they would do next.”
“And are you able to do it now?” asked Dracia.
“I haven’t been beaten yet, Captain,” said Ethen with a smile. “It varies how well I can do it, opponent to opponent, but I am always at least somewhat successful.”
“I always swore the High Captain could do just that.” Roderick chuckled. “It got to the point during Disciplines that no one with spar with her. There was no point; she could beat us all so quickly. It was like she could read our minds.”
“No, it’s just all of you were very predictable. It didn’t take mind reading to know what every single one of you was going to do,” said Dracia dismissively.
“And yet, you still seem to guess all your opponent’s moves now,” said Roderick.
“Most people are predictable. It just takes a few seconds to figure out what someone will do in a fight. It is not some magic skill; it just takes observation,” said Dracia.
Roderick rolled his eyes slightly as Lord Ethen laughed a little. They rode on, exchanging conversation periodically. Roderick got to know Lord Ethen on their ride, and he found that he liked him. He seemed in the beginning to Roderick as an easy-going man, but after first impressions, Roderick noticed there was an edge to him. He thought he would not want to get on Lord Ethen’s bad side. It made him feel a tad bit more hopeful for their task in front of them.
Roderick was not a fool; he knew they were walking into something they might not make it out of. They were going to face seven fully trained Elites and at least four of them not over the age of fifty. Roderick knew Brock by himself would be a challenge. He was a large man who was known for his skills with a sword and his use of the fire Mystic. The other men were no slouches either. One did not become an Elite of the Sentinel without impressive and numerous skills.
Still, Roderick believed in his High Captain. He knew she was only doing what she could. There was no way she could ignore her Elites in peril, or the challenge these disgraceful former members had made her. She would have to show power; after all, the Sentinel was only as powerful as its High Captain. As they rode through the night, Roderick felt fear start to invade him. It wasn’t something he was used to feeling before a fight. He examined it closely and realized it wasn’t fear for himself. It was fear for Dracia.
Roderick had a feeling these men would like nothing more than to not just kill Dracia, but to humiliate her in some way. He remembered Brock called her a joke when she was named High Captain. He told anyone who would listen all the ways she was too weak ever to be a capable leader. He was one of the main ones who spread the rumor of Dracia being the king’s mistress. She had ignored him until he quit soon after she took over. Roderick had hoped that would be the end of it, but he should have known better.
It also sounded like these men were involved in the uprising Dracia had spoken of it to him, but they had not figured out where the uprising was coming from or who was involved. Dracia’s father had not received any more messages. She and Roderick and both wondered if the uprising was connected to the sudden increase in Gedonial soldiers in the kingdom.
They stopped early in the morning before the sunrise under the cover of some trees at a low mountain base. Dracia whispered to her horse and let him graze on some grass found there. Roderick did the same, while Lord Ethen tied his borrowed horse up on a long lead. They sat down in a small circle, bringing out some water, dried meat, and a few fresh fruits.
“So, Captain, did you think of a plan on our journey?” asked Lord Ethen after taking a drink.
“I have something worked up in my mind, but I won’t be able to finalize it until I see the area my Elites are kept in,” replied Dracia.
“Give me the outline then. We can finalize it tomorrow before we strike,” said Lord Ethen.
“How are your stealth skills, Lord Ethen?” asked Dracia looking at him in the moonlight.
“I would say they are pretty good. I can walk without making much noise. I am a large man, as you can see, but if there is some kind of cover, I should be able to sneak as well as most men.”
“You said you are a good fighter as well, is that correct?” asked Dracia.
“Yes, I can hold my own against anyone. I know these men are well trained, but so am I. I also have Siccarian ability that gives me a bit of an edge on most people.”
“Good, because I need you to rescue my Elites while Roderick and I draw out as many of the disgraced Elites as we can. Do you think you can handle it?”
“I do. Once I release your Elites, what then?”
“I hope they are in some condition to fight. If they are not, you will get them away to a place we will determine until Roderick and I can meet you. If we don’t get back within a certain time, you will take the Elites back to the Sentinel.”
“And leave the two of you to the mercy of those men?” asked Ethen, his voice rising.
“Yes,” said Dracia. “My first priority is saving my Elites. I am asking you to do this for me. I hope you will not have to leave without Roderick or me, but if it comes to it, you must see to the safety of those men.”
“I promised your prince, I would bring you back safely, Captain. I don’t break my promises.”
“Then let’s hope my Elites are in good condition, or I am as good as a fighter as I believe I am. Both would be preferable, actually.”
Lord Ethen chuckled as Roderick smiled.
“I am counting on these men underestimating me. They always did underestimate me before, so I hope that hasn’t changed.” Dracia put away the food and water. “You two should sleep while you can.”
“I don’t mind staying awake first, Captain. You should sleep before we face these men.”
“There is no use arguing with her, my lord. The High Captain always keeps watch when she can. She does not sleep well the night before a battle. It’s best if you leave her be and rest,” said Roderick.
“You two get settled in while I take a quick walk. I’m going to check on the horses as well. I won’t be gone long,” Dracia rose from the ground and walked into the cover of the trees.
“Roderick, I hope you know there is no way in the gods’ good land that I am going to leave either one of you behind, especially her,” said Lord Ethen.
Roderick nodded. “If it comes down to it, you need to get her to safety, even if you have to leave me behind. My only duty as her second is to see to her well-being.”
“You can consider me her other second on this trip then. I mostly came for her.”
“Can I ask why? You haven’t known her long.”
Lord Ethen grinned at Roderick. “I’ll answer if you promise to answer a question for me.”
“Very well,” said Roderick.
“It is hard to explain, but almost as soon as I met your Captain, I felt instantly connected to her. I could sense a little of what she is like using my Siccarian ability, and I could tell what kind of person she was. As I’ve gotten to know her, I believe I can confirm that she is one of the finest persons I have ever met, and I have met with plenty.
“Beyond that, I feel responsible for her for some reason. I can’t explain it, but it goes beyond just friendship. I believe we are bound together in some way, though I don’t know what it is.”. He laughed a little. “It is not a great explanation, but it is the only one I have.”
“I will take it then,” said Roderick. “I will tell you, you are correct. I doubt there is many people out in this land as good as she is. She has her faults like any other person, but the very essence of her is goodness.”
“Which leads me to my question, Roderick.” Lord Ethen sat back a little. “How long have you been in love with your High Captain?”
Roderick’s head fell, and he stared at the ground. “Since the moment she walked up to me on the first day of Disciplines and teased me until I smiled. Since then I believe I have been under her power, but it is not what you think.”
“How so?” asked Ethen. “Remember, it is very difficult to lie to me.”
“I do love her above just about anyone else in this kingdom and beyond, but I don’t have any romantic aspirations for her. I know who she is. I know who she loves, and she loves him deeply, I have no doubt. I also feel as if she is above me in every way, and I am happy to just bask in the light she cast.
“The Navalian princess said it sounded as if I worshipped her, and I suppose I do in a way.” Roderick paused knowing he was rambling. “The bottom line is I am devoted to her, and no matter where she goes, whether it is in the Sentinel as my High Captain or in the palace as my queen, that devotion will never wane.”
“Fair enough,” said Lord Ethen. “I hope you know she values you, Roderick. I can tell she does. She is very devoted to you as well.”
Roderick nodded. “I do. She lets me know in several different ways.”
“We should follow her commands and gets some rest,” said Lord Ethen.
Roderick settled down and closed his eyes, trying to find sleep. He actually spent a few moments praying. He rarely prayed unless he was visiting the chapel, but tonight he talked to the king’s gods. He prayed for his mother and vowed to check on her and Alaric more often. He prayed for Galen as he made choices to decide his future. Before he felt himself drift off, he prayed for himself, Lord Ethen, and especially Dracia. He asked for protection for all three of them, and if nothing else, they would spare her.
Roderick was awoken by his High Captain lightly shaking him. He opened his eyes to see her grimly smiling over him.
“We have to go,” she said quietly. “We still have quite a few miles, and I want to get this done before the sun sets today.”
Roderick sat up and rubbed at his eyes. He saw that the sun was just rising showing it was still very early in the day. Soon they were all three back on their horses. There was less talking today as Dracia set a fast pace for them. They made it to a few miles outside of Boreial a couple of hours after lunch. Moving into the cover of the forest found there in the valley, they dismounted their horses and stretched, gathering together.
“We need to somehow get a look at what we are facing before they know we are here,” said Dracia quietly. “We should ride ahead a bit further and look for the fabric the Elites left off the road close to the village. We will find a place to hide our horses there. It will also be where we will meet with the released Elites.
“Once we see where the traitors are keeping the Elites, Roderick and I will go to the group and announce ourselves. We will try to distract as many of the seven as we can, but you will probably have to face at least one, yourself, Lord Ethen.”
“I realize that, Captain. I am prepared,” replied Lord Ethen.
“Once we leave here, we will not speak often unless it is life or death. Lord Ethen, I trust you can find the best way to sneak in to rescue the Elites once we see where they are held. Once you have them free, if they are able to fight, circle around behind the traitors. Tell my Elites, they need not worry about survivors.”
Lord Ethen nodded.
“Roderick, you stay by my side no matter what at all times. If we get separated somehow, you are to go to the horses and meet with Lord Ethen and hopefully me. If you are both there with the Elites and I do not return in good time, you will leave for the Sentinel.” Dracia looked between Roderick and Lord Ethen.
“What about the Elites’ horses?” asked Roderick.
“If they are still alive and close, we will try to free them,” said Dracia. “Or if the Elites are well, they can see to their horses.”
Dracia turned and mounted her horse as Roderick and Lord Ethen went to their mounts. Soon they were quietly riding down the path to Boreial. About a half-mile outside the town, Dracia pulled up and rode over close to a tree. Roderick looked and could see a tattered piece of black cloth hanging off a limb that was swaying in the breeze.
She turned Aarit around and rode back from where they came a little down the road before entering the forest as Roderick and Lord Ethen followed her. She rode into the forest until she came into a more open place circled with a few trees and bushes. Dracia hopped down and whispered to Aarit as Roderick and Ethen dismounted and took care of their own horses.
She motioned to them to follow her, and they fell in step behind her, all minding to keep the noise down from their footsteps. They walked on slowly, moving deeper into the forest at an angle, until Dracia held a hand up. She quickly moved behind a tree, giving a look to Roderick and Lord Ethen to do the same. Roderick tucked into a tree next to Dracia as Lord Ethen found a large trunk to the left of both of them.
Roderick watched as Dracia turned and looked beyond her tree. She stared for a moment before motioning at Roderick with her head. He turned as well and looked in the same direction as her. It took him a moment, but he saw what she was staring at. Two older men were sitting down, side by side in front of a large dead tree.
Roderick recognized the two men as former Elites who had retired. He was a little surprised to see them, as they were much older than Brock. He had thought perhaps their retirements were only due to their age, but it seems he had been wrong. Dracia looked at Roderick and then caught Lord Ethen’s attention. She whispered very quietly. “Stay put; I will take care of those two. Don’t move until you hear from me.”
Roderick nodded as Lord Ethen looked at her. She held up her hand and mouthed. “Trust me.”
Lord Ethen finally nodded as Dracia turned to her right and moved silently in between trees. Roderick turned against this tree and watched the men. They sat beside each other, whispering, but Roderick couldn’t make out what they were saying. All was quiet and still around them. The birds even seemed to have stopped singing for the day. Roderick waited, trying to take deep quiet breaths, watching for Dracia to make her move.
There was a noise to the left of the men, causing them both to look. It sounded as if something had hit against a tree trunk. The noise came again, this time louder, and the men both stood up.
“You should go check it,” said the man on the right with long gray hair.
“Why should I go check it? You go on, you are younger than me,” said the other man, who was almost bald with little wisps of white hair around the sides of his head.
The man with the long gray hair turned to argue with the other man, when he suddenly went very still and gasped. Roderick looked closer and saw there was a knife lodged into his back. He staggered for a second and then fell down as Dracia walked into view with her sword drawn and her hand out.
“Running will do you no good, Averill,” said Dracia as she plunged her sword into the other man’s side, putting him out of the misery he was in.
“High Captain,” said Averill sounding fearful. “I didn’t really want to do this, you know. I didn’t want to take those Elites. No one told me that was what we were going to do.”
“Oh,” said Dracia with her sword pointed at Averill. “What were you planning on doing with your fellow traitors?”
“I just wanted to save the kingdom, Captain. I never wanted to hurt anyone from the Sentinel,” said Averill, putting his hands up.
“Save the kingdom from what?” asked Dracia.
“From the king, from the whole Cassendar family. They are cursed, you know, and the kingdom is dying because of it. Folk have been suffering from disease and famine, and the king will do nothing.”.
“Who are you working with then? If you are trying to save the kingdom, you can’t do it with just seven of you. What is the plan?”
“I don’t know. Brock hasn’t told me anything yet. He says I have to trust him. He says he is in contact with those who want what is best for the people of the kingdom, even if it means letting other lands come and take root here.”
“What other lands?” Dracia put the tip of her sword on Averill’s chest.
“I don’t know. I really don’t,” said Averill panicking.
“You made a choice, Averill,” said Dracia. “You choose to align yourself with those who are traitors to the royal family and the Sentinel. You are committing treason, and you have broken with the ways of the Sentinel. You know what the punishment is for your crimes, don’t you?”
“Can I not have mercy, High Captain?” begged Averill. “I will leave. I will go home, and I will forget all about this.”
“I think you’ve had chances to do the right thing. You could have left with my Elites you let go. You should have come to me and asked for mercy then. Today I have none to grant.” Dracia plunged her sword into Averill’s chest and into his heart.
He made a strange noise and stood for a second before Dracia pulled her sword out, and he fell down dead. She turned and nodded at Lord Ethen and Roderick and they both walked up to her, Roderick looking down at the two old men who lay dead.
“We will leave them here,” said Dracia with disgust. “They deserve no farewell rights. The animals of the forest can have them.”
They walked together a little further into the forest, until they came to a clearing. Dracia quickly hid behind a tree, dragging Roderick with her as Lord Ethen went to their left again. Dracia looked over at Lord Ethen and nodded. He looked around the tree and seemed to take the area in. He looked over at Dracia and nodded once before turning and running into the forest.
“Our Elites are tied up outside a small shack to the left,” said Dracia into Roderick’s ear in a light whisper. “We will give Lord Ethen a few minutes and then you and I will walk in and face the men. We need to try to draw them away from the recruits and keep them to the right of the shack. Whatever I do, just follow my lead.”
Roderick nodded at her as she leaned back slightly. They waited quietly next to each other, giving Lord Ethen time to get around to the back of the small shack. Finally, Dracia pushed off the tree and stood up. She started to walk to the right of the shack, Roderick following her.
She walked by the front of the shack, glancing at her Elites for one moment. Roderick looked and saw that though the Elites looked a little rough, they all seemed to be alert and well as they watched Dracia move past the front to the shack’s right wall that looked to be leaning with several holes in it.
“I thought we would have had a greeting party by now,” said Dracia loudly. “I expected trained Elites of the Sentinel to be better prepared than this.”
Brock walked out of the front of the shack’s door and looked over at Dracia. He was a large man who was taller than Roderick by more than a head. His shoulders were broad and his arms muscular. His hair was a dirty blonde and his eyes a cold gray.
“I knew better than to trust those old fools as lookouts,” said Brock shaking his head. He looked at Dracia with a smile.
“High Captain,” he said with a small bow. “Boys, our visitor made it after all.” Brock looked behind him and four more men came out of the shack as Dracia moved back slightly to the right side of the shack, bumping into Roderick.
“I see you brought one of your seconds,” said Brock. “Good, very proper. You haven’t brought any others from the Sentinel with you, have you?”
“No, no one of the Sentinel is within two days of this place other than Roderick and myself,” replied Dracia.
“I hope you are telling the truth, High Captain.” Brock looked back at one of his men. “Dennit, go stand by the Elites. If you see one glimpse of any black and silver or hear one word from me, kill them all.
Dennit nodded at Brock and walked over to the left side of the shack.
“Speaking of my Elites, I have to come to see to their safety,” said Dracia looking up at Brock. “I would like to make a deal for their lives.”
“Would you?” Brock, stepped forward, causing Dracia to move back a few more steps, pushing Roderick as she moved. “I’m not sure what you could offer that would make me want to give them up.”
“I offer myself,” said Dracia. “I will not fight you in any way. I will come with you willingly, and you can do as you please with me.”
Brock laughed. “You don’t mean it, Captain. You can’t possibly mean it, not with these other men behind me. You must know what is going through their minds after hearing you offer yourself up in such a way. I am guessing you have already taken care of the two in the forest, so why should I trust you?”
“It is true. I did kill the two men in the forest, but it was there I realized how pointless this all is,” said Dracia. “I did not enjoy killing the two defenseless old men. You should have known I could kill them easily, but I guess their lives didn’t mean much to you.
“Lives mean something to me. I do not wish to kill any of you, not without knowing your reasons first. I mean, you must have a reason to be doing what you are doing. You were men of the Sentinel. That means something. Why would you give up all your honor if it wasn’t worth it?”
“So, what is it you want exactly, High Captain?” asked Brock.
“I want you to let my Elites go with my second back to the Sentinel. I will stay here with you, and we can chat about the future of the kingdom,” said Dracia as she moved closer to Brock. “Maybe you can convince me to join you. You must feel very passionate about your decisions. I look forward to what you have to say.”
Brock moved nearer to Dracia as the men gathered closer behind him. “What is stopping me from killing you and Roderick right now?” he asked looking down at her.
“I don’t know, probably the thought that I might be telling the truth. The chance that I might come willingly with you and put myself in your mercy, instead of fighting you. Because while I might not win, you know at least few of you will die,” said Dracia as she raised her hand casually and a few stones floated up from the ground and rotated around her upturned palm.
“I need something from you to prove you are sincere,” said Brock.
“What would you like?” She caught the stones in her hand.
Brock looked down at her and licked his lips. He held out his hand slowly to her. “Your sword, Captain. Hand over the silver sword of the Sentinel.”
“I suppose that is fair.” Dracia glanced back at Roderick as she dropped the stones and dusted off her hands. Roderick slowly moved his hand towards his sword.
“Something that symbolic would show that I really do mean what I say. After all, only the Head Captain of the Sentinel is supposed to wield this sword.” Dracia slowly put her hand on the hilt of her sword and looked up at Brock. “Of course, I would only do that if I were sincere.”
Dracia threw up her hands and a harsh wind blew at them, knocking down two men behind Brock as he struggled to keep his feet. Roderick pulled out his sword as Lord Ethen and the three Elites stood behind the two men who still stood. Two of the Elites slit the men’s throats with their swords before the men even realized what was happening.
“You high born little..” said Brock as he swiftly pulled out his sword and swung it at Dracia. Roderick blocked his strike as Dracia pulled out her own sword.
She kicked out at Brock, sending him backwards, and she moved towards him, swinging her sword. The two men on the ground had gotten up. One of them pushed out his hand, knocking over one of the Elites with a wind. The other two Elites readied their swords. Ethen started sword fighting with the other man who was now standing, pushing him back with every strike.
Roderick ran further to the right towards the back of the shack to see the High Captain was trading strikes with Brock. He was much stronger than her, but she was faster. She seemed to guess every move he would make. Roderick pushed out his hand and sent a large rock smashing into Brock’s shoulder. He staggered for a moment, and Dracia looked at Roderick.
“Roderick, the Elites’ horses are around the backside. Go release, them quickly.”
“She turned and struck at Brock, as he blocked. His hand rose and he threw a pilar of fire towards Dracia. She ducked and rolled underneath the fire before jumping on her feet.
“Go, Roderick, now! Get the horses, and get everyone out of here.”
Roderick ran to the back of the shack to see three black horses tied up to three trees. He pulled out his sword and went to the first horse, slicing through the thick rope until it came undone. He heard Dracia cry out, and he almost left the horses there. Soon he heard the sound of sword hitting sword and trusted she was still able to fight. He hurried to the other horses and cut them free, worrying that he was taking too long. Once he had them all free, he gathered the ropes and started to lead the horses around the back of the shack.
He emerged to the left to find two of the Elites fighting one of the men. The other Elite was on the ground and holding his upper arm that appeared to be cut. The Elites finished off the man by knocking him down and stabbing him in the chest.
“Come,” said Roderick to the Elites. “Get on your horses, and go now. Ride to the south through the forest. If you go straight and then to the left, you will find where we left our mounts. We will join you in a moment. The High Captain has commanded this.”
The three Elites stalled for a moment.
“Go now,” said Roderick furiously. He had to see them gone safely before he could go help Dracia.
One Elite helped the inured to mount before the other two climbed up on their horses. All three took off quickly, and Roderick looked to the front of the shack to see Lord Ethen plunging his sword into the man he was fighting. He looked beyond him to see Dracia still fighting with Brock. Roderick moved towards her as he saw something catch her attention behind Brock. Her eyes grew wide, and she faltered for one second.
Brock noticed her distraction, and he rammed his shoulder into her, sending her sprawling onto the ground. Her head slammed against the rocky surface, and she appeared to be dazed. Brock roughly picked her up off the ground and turned her around, holding her to him as Lord Ethan ran up to face Brock.
Brock held Dracia firmly with one of his big arms, his other hand holding his sword up close to her neck. “I thought you said you didn’t bring anyone else with you, Captain?”. “Not very honorable.”
“I told you I didn’t bring anyone else of the Sentinel. Lord Ethen isn’t of the Sentinel,” said Dracia as she struggled against him.
“Lord Ethen, is it?” asked Brock. “I wouldn’t make a move towards me unless you want me to spill her blood.”
“Go, my lord,” said Dracia forcefully. “Take Roderick and go with the others. You have to leave now.”
“Yes, you should go,” said Brock. “I will even let you go unharmed if you leave the Captain with me. I want to have a long conversation with her. I will even overlook what you have done to my men.”
“I will not go,” said Lord Ethen holding his sword up. “You will release the High Captain, or you will die quicky.”
“Do you really think I couldn’t kill her before you even move your sword?”
Roderick didn’t know what to do. He felt like he couldn’t breathe properly. They couldn’t let Brock just kill her or leave her at his mercy, but Roderick had looked up the mountain in front of them and saw what had distracted Dracia. A large group of what looked like Gedonial soldiers were coming their way and would be there very soon.
Roderick watched as Lord Ethen looked at Dracia very carefully. Her face was passive, but Roderick saw her give one small nod.
“Go, Lord Ethen,” said Dracia. “Get back to the Sentinel and prepare Winsdell for the coming assault.”
Lord Ethen sheathed his sword and nodded as Roderick shook his head in disbelief.
“Very well, Captain,” said Ethen turning slightly. “I will do as you command.”
Lord Ethen turned completely and looked at Roderick. Lord Ethen grabbed his arm and whispered so quiet Roderick could barely hear him. “Be ready to grab her.”
“Come along, Roderick; you cannot ignore a command from your Captain.”
Roderick looked behind Ethen to see Dracia struggle, and Brock tighten his hold on her. She put her hand up on Brock’s arm as though in distress. Brock kept his eyes on Roderick and Ethen as they both turned as though to walk away, Ethen’s hand still on Roderick’s arm.
Brock’s eyes grew wide, and he released Dracia, cursing and grabbing at his arm, which looked to be badly burned. Lord Ethen pulled Roderick by the arm and threw him towards Brock and Dracia as he turned. Roderick grabbed Dracia and pulled her to him as Lord Ethen threw out his hands, sending a large wall of flames at Brock. Brock quickly put up his hand to send out a blast of wind but was knocked over by the flames.
“Come on, let’s go,” said Lord Ethen loudly, but Dracia pushed back from Roderick and walked towards Brock.
“We haven’t finished yet,” she said furiously. “We can’t leave until I know what is going on. We have to find out who is behind all this unrest int eh kingdom.” She continued to move towards Brock, who was starting to get up, but Lord Ethen caught her arm.
“No, Captain, we have to go now. I know you see what is coming through those trees. We don’t have the fighters to face that. We have to run.”
Dracia looked over at Brock, who was standing. He raised his hand and a column of fire raged towards Dracia, Lord Ethen, and Roderick. Dracia raised both her hands and pushed out, causing a line of fire to meet the column Brock had sent. She then moved her hands again, and the fire was pushed back as it spread all around Brock and into the forest.
She turned, grabbed Roderick, and ran as Lord Ethan followed them. They all three ran towards where the others and horses would be. Roderick hoped they could get away before the group of soldiers coming got around the fire Dracia had caused. Roderick knew if they were caught, there would be no hope for any of them.