From the Ashes

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The Choices We Make

-12-

The Choices We Make

At Castle Arcadian in the Kingdom of Maddence.

Xcaliber could feel the whip of the cool morning breeze blowing through the thin shredded cloak wrapped tightly around him as he looked out over the castle walls in the Dragonite kingdom. Maddence was quite beautiful, even after the original cursed twins had lay ruin to parts of it. New life had sprung forth in the years that had past and Xcaliber couldn’t help but find a peace in that.

“From the Ashes,” he mumbled under his breath feeling the emotions of losing his sister once more.

He knew it had to be this way. Being able to see the future had its perks but it was not a perfect art. One choice could change it all, Nova knew this. She was determined to be certain that Everleigh made the choice that would fit her plan best.

He saw more than he was willing to share with the prince his sister had fallen in love with just yet because he knew the fool would act hastily. For all his flaws, Akoni loved Everleigh with a might that Xcaliber found peace in. Life would be lost but as is war that is almost certainly the case. Everleigh must fulfill her destiny. It was in the stars as was their birth. She must realize she was truly a Phoenix foremost, the one true phoenix. She would rise from her shattered circumstance, overcoming what others had not. She would most certainly need help and he knew that though he played his role in that, Akoni would bring her hope as was his destiny.

Xcaliber had learned to see the demons in the tower as a blessing in disguise. He had learned control. Some wouldn’t find control important but in this extraordinary life it was of the utmost necessity. Over the last few months he had realized his powers were nearly unlimited and with that knowledge the reality of escaping the tower became more enticing. What he hadn’t accounted for was the toll that using his powers would take on him as he learned to control them.

Time travel had proved itself the most daunting. The first time he had learned he could do it had been in a dream. He had drifted off to sleep after tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, suddenly warped back into what he thought was a simple dream or nightmare of sorts he had met his mother. She had shown him where to find the pieces that brought Everleigh and himself into this world. He had realized in one night that his darkness was not his, it was his sisters. He had taken it in stride as the calm and collected man he had taught himself to be through hours of torture at the hands of demons he so humorously named by their flaws. He had known she fought her own demons quietly for some time but had not realized that she would be the undoing of so many. Her beauty had blinded those that seen only the light, while she hid the darkness so easily in plain sight. Everleigh was a volcano on the brink of eruption and no one was the wiser.

His mother had done well, he mused. He had been the pawn she knew he would be young and free with his powers drawing their attention from the true source of darkness, the queen. She would topple nations, destroy boundaries no other had dared, and she would do it without regard for anyone. But what Xcaliber knew that he had hidden like the gem Nova had searched for in the forest when destiny once again stepped forth was that she had not accounted for one thing, Love.

Nova had only wanted love in the beginning. She thought it would give her a home but when Slade broke her heart she became what she hated most. She had become the same thing her parents and Slade were, power hungry. She had allowed herself to be blind to truly seeing Everleigh and what had changed for her. That fool had changed it all. That fool pacing the halls begging the man that had broken his mothers soul to listen to reason, to hear the seer from the towers warning, to fight to protect their people. Akoni loved Everleigh without reason, without boundary, with nothing more than hope. That fool would be Everleigh’s grace and Nova’s undoing.

Xcaliber would play his part in this game of pawns because he had faith in Everleigh. Being a seer was not a certain art. If the right choices were made fate would change like the tides that controlled the ocean. He saw what she couldn’t and he had found himself more determined than ever to let her see what he could. He saw the laughter, the playful spirit, the strong will, the fighter that she had always been and he had faith. He had faith she could beat the woman that they now knew to be their mother. He also knew that meant it would come at a cost.

Pulling him from his deep thoughts, he heard the bustle of footsteps approaching. “Oh great the fool has returned,” he mused.

Xcaliber could sense the anger still coursing through Akoni’s blood as it seemed to have reached its boiling point. “Stubborn old man!” He nearly yelled in frustration.

“He believes this to be a trap, a ruse, to end his life. He doesn’t believe the witch still lives. She allowed him time to get comfortable and now he nothing but the shell of the man he once was. A damn fool! He refuses to call the guard to order for a girl I have hidden an affair with. He dares tell me of his disappointment!”

And the games commence, Xcaliber mused before calmly replying, “You are future king. You are the leader of the king’s guard they must prepare or your people will be slaughtered. You can’t stop fate. You can’t stop my mother if we don’t even try. Akoni she needs you, Everleigh must feel a love like no other or she will never return to who you have loved.”

Akoni’s shoulders weakened with defeat, “I love her without reason Xcaliber. I must help her I don’t have a choice.”

“Then fight for her dammit,” Xcaliber looked at the man with a stern look. “If Slade does not understand you must make him. I wont be able to fight the call of my mother much longer, and when that happens you will be alone to fight the unstoppable force she will become. Your people will fight or they will die. Man, Woman, or child it doesn’t matter. I have seen the future and if her choice does not change there will no longer be a Dragonite tribe, their will be no more legacy for you to claim, Maddence will be no more.”

A deep tired voice spoke up from behind Xcaliber, “She promised the fall of my people and I promised revenge for my daughters.” His voice croaked in grief, “I was certain she had hurt us enough and given up on her quest for vengeance. I was just a young, restless boy. She was beautiful and I fell into a web of lies and lust. I cared for her but not enough. I broke a young girls soul and have paid for it in blood. My own son will not forgive me and now she comes seeking more!”

Turning to face the king, Xcaliber felt sorry for the man that stood broken before him. “King Slade, my mother does not seek revenge anymore she seeks your life. She will see you suffer as she has suffered. She has planned decades for this moment and she will not stop. Failure is not an option.”

In the most desperate voice Akoni had ever heard his father speak, “Then take me to your mother. I will not see my people fall once more for my failures as their king. I will not see my son destroyed.”

Xcaliber felt the rush of a vision overtaking him.

He stood looking upon the cabin that Slade had broke his mothers heart. Slade stood proud and tall, though Xcaliber noted the shaking of his fingers below the kings robes. Nova came through the door with a shell of what was his sister standing behind her. She smiled with that wry smile that told him she had won yet another battle.

Nova’s still favored the beautiful woman he had met in the spring on a fateful day, but she had changed her darkness consumed her. Everleigh too, was darkened by the curse she couldn’t fight any longer. Her eyes were devoid of emotion as she blankly looked forward, waiting like an attack hound to pounce on her mother’s enemy.

Nova and Slade studied each other for a moment, remembering a past long forgotten. Slade opened his mouth to plead, “You look well, Nova. I see why my son was intrigued with your daughter, she is beautiful you did well. I have came to offer penance for my failings. Please free your daughter, take me instead, do as you must, they are but children let them grow old. Let them have the life they deserve.”

Looking at the man with pity she grinned with an evil beyond this world, “Oh my sweet naïve Slade. I will take your life but not before you wish for your death a million times over. My daughter’s beauty pales in comparison to her powers.”

Speaking in fey she ordered her daughter, “Bind our friend, show him how we treat unwanted guest.”

Xcaliber sensed Everleigh’s hesitation her hand shook trying to fight the curse her mother had bound. Defeated she pulled the branches from the nearby trees binding the king tightly, like a snake wrapped its prey before devouring them. She then began to heat the branches with a heat that Slade couldn’t fight. Determined he tried to hide the pain she was causing him, letting out a small whimper as he felt his clothing began to melt. Nova raised her hand and he fell to the ground.

Nova glided towards the man unafraid of him. “You tell my son it is time to come home. His mother does not play well with failures and we have work to do.”

Returning to the wall he caught his breath. Looking at both men staring at him with hope still in their eyes, Xcaliber looked away longing for a better way, an escape from the fate he was doomed to.

Akoni gently persisted, prodding for the visions contents, “Tell us. Would my fathers sacrifice be enough?”

Xcaliber raised his eyes, tired from the visions, from fates fatal flaw, from being the light in a world so desperately dark. “Slade she will see you suffer before she will take your life. She is no longer the woman you knew. Her darkness consumes any side of the young nomad.” Looking towards Akoni, “Everleigh will be lost if we do not fight, she is consumed.”

“Then we fight,” Slade answered looking at his son with a love only a father can give. “I will not let you lose the woman you love because of me. We will fight and if I fall in battle it will be for the love of the son I have failed. We will save your princess. We are the protectors of our realm and no matter the cost Nova must fall.”

Akoni looked at his father with pride for the first time in his life.

Xcaliber looked at the men in awe, proudly he said “My time here is finished, my mother summons me. I must do my part, Everleigh will need me to fulfill her destiny.”

Grasping Akoni’s shoulders tightly he said, “Remember she must know she can do this. From the Ashes, remember those words. She will remember those words.”

As quickly as he appeared, Xcaliber was gone to accept fates final flaw.

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