Golnar stood in front of the large tree in the forest of the Great Surrounding. He pulled his robe tight to his body. It was very cold, and Golnar felt it in his bones. He was tired, and he felt weak. Journeying with Philo to the forest had taken a lot of energy. Golnar wanted nothing more than to go into Helmer’s tree dwelling and sit by the fire. Instead, he stood outside watching Helmer perform the last of a blood magic spell.
Golnar looked around. There were thirty Aurumist soldiers circled around them. All at the ready facing in towards Philo, Helmer, and Golnar. They all stood perfectly still and looked ready to strike if need be. Helmer stood in the direct center. He had a stone bowl full of liquid that Golnar knew contained the queen’s blood. Golnar could feel the power coming from the potion inside the bowl, and it made him uncomfortable.
Helmer had said the spell he would use would summon the queen to them. She would be subdued and weak. They could easily take her inside to do the blood magic sacrifice they needed to transfer the ruler of Regventus from the line of Adalwen to the Quick family. Golnar felt sick at the idea, but the temptation of regaining his magic was too much.
He told himself he should be happy. He would finally get to see Gryphon Keene die. She would really be gone this time, and he wouldn’t have dreams of her anymore. She wouldn’t tempt him with mercy and forgiveness. He would regain his power and go on to achieve his goals. He would finally be able to create the Regventus he had seen in his lifelong visions. He should be elated, but he was not. He was dreading the whole affair.
Golnar watched as Helmer took the bowl, closed his eyes and bowed his head. A few moments later he emptied the bowl in the middle of the circle. Philo stood close by watching as the wind picked up. It blew hard, almost causing Golnar to fall backwards. Philo stood tall, his long blonde hair blowing in the wind. For a moment nothing else happened.
Philo looked at Helmer, but Helmer just smiled. Golnar suddenly felt a change happen around them. The air became charged, and Golnar could feel his heartbeat quicken. He blinked, and suddenly she was there. Gryphon appeared next to Helmer. She looked around and stumbled right into Philo. Philo smiled and picked her up, placing her over his shoulder.
“Come on, let’s get her inside,” said Philo looking at Helmer. He looked over at a couple of his soldiers. “Stay out here and keep watch. Do not let us be disturbed.”
Helmer touched a spot on the tree and a small door opened. He stood back as Philo carried the queen inside. Helmer nodded to Golnar , and Golnar followed Helmer inside as Helmer shut the door behind them. They entered a large room. There was a huge fireplace on one end and a long, wide table in the middle of the room. Philo placed Gryphon on her feet next to the table. She swayed a little but looked around the room with wide eyes.
“Hello, Gryphon,” said Philo smiling. “I didn’t think I would get to see you again after our last meeting.”
“I have no doubt of that,” said the queen with a grim smile. “I am guessing you will think this will be our last as well.”
“It will be,” said Philo. “I’m afraid this time will be much more painful than my last attempt.”
Gryphon looked over at Helmer who was setting up a kettle over the fireplace.
“I see you found your friend rather quickly, Helmer. You always were keen on joining with the powers in Aurumist.”
“I was fine staying in the safety of Abscon until you came and ruined everything, Gryphon. I should have gotten rid of you a long time ago.”
Gryphon turned again until her eyes were on Golnar. “Hello, Golnar, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see you here a part of this. I had hoped you had learned your lesson, but I guess you truly don’t want to change.”
Golnar said nothing as he just stared at Gryphon. He didn’t know what to say. She was right, he should know better. He should know that no matter if he got his magic back or not, he would gain nothing that would make anything any better.
“Now, Gryphon, I hope you don’t mind, but I will need to do something to make this a little easier on all of us.” He put his hands on the queen’s shoulders and closed his eyes. She gasped and then almost fell over, but Philo caught her and steadied her.
“I just need to make sure you are nice and relaxed. We can’t have you fighting this, or it will just take longer and be messier,” said Philo walking around to her back. “I will also have to get rid of your dress.” Philo moved his hands down, and her dress split down the back. He roughly took it off of her, leaving her in a simple, thin shift she wore underneath.
Philo walked around looked at her with a horrible smile. He looked her up and down. “You know I never could understand what Marcus saw in you, but I understand a little better now.”
Philo roughly grabbed her and took her to the table. He pushed her down, making her lie on the table. He waved his hands, and she went stiff. Her hands went to her sides and her legs straight.
Philo smiled and turned to Helmer. “How long will it take to get the potion ready?”
“I am almost done adding the ingredients. We will just need a little time to let it brew before adding her blood. You will need to kill her when the potion starts to bubble. Shouldn’t be more than thirty minutes.”
Philo nodded as Helmer added a few more ingredients to the kettle.
“What magic are you hoping to perform? If you wanted to just kill me, you could have been done already.”
“Oh, we want to kill you, Gryphon,” said Philo, “but first I will take something from you. I will take it from you and your blood line.”
Gryphon looked at Philo with a frown and a questioning look.
“Those of the line of Adalwen have always been the true leaders of Regventus and look where it has gotten us. We are a weak, divided kingdom. A new ruler is needed. I will take your right to rule and put it in my own family.”
“You think you can do this? How is that even possible?” asked Gryphon.
“Helmer knows how. He has the skill and the spell. We just need a sacrifice of the rightful ruler. Luckily, we have you right here.”
“So, you are still doing blood magic are you, Helmer?” asked Gryphon from the table. “I hope you have gotten better at over the years. The one you did on my father didn’t seem to work like you wanted.”
Helmer looked over at Gryphon. He stirred the potion once, and then walked over to her. Helmer looked down at the queen and smiled. “Or did it do exactly as I wanted?”
Gryphon looked up at Helmer and frowned.
“I knew what I was doing when I made that potion for Renweard. I couldn’t tell Hector or the other Ring members what I really had planned. They didn’t have the stomach for what needed to be done. I just wished I had done away with you as well. I figured you would continue on being wild and unruly. I never expected you to actually come and lead the Ring.”
Golnar saw the queen was breathing hard. Tears formed in her eyes. “I should have never shown you any mercy,” she said venomously. “I should have killed you instead of banishing you from Abscon.”
“Yes, you should have,” said Helmer looking down at her. “But you are weak just like your father. You could never do the ugly things that needed to be done.”
Gryphon closed her eyes and shook her head against the table. Golnar could see tears fall from her eyes. He wanted to go over and comfort her. He wanted to help her somehow, but he knew he could not. He had worked too hard on his plan to turn back now. He had gone too far.
Helmer chuckled and walked over to look at his potion as Philo joined him. They stood by the kettle, waiting for it to boil. The queen opened her eyes and looked over at Golnar. He wanted to turn away, but he could not. She stared at him for a while before she finally took a breath and spoke quietly to him.
“What will you gain from this, Golnar? Do you think Philo will be a fair ruler? Do you think he will go along with your plans?”
Golnar didn’t answer. He didn’t know what he was getting out of this deal. He found he didn’t care about his plans as much as he thought he did.
“You don’t want to do this, do you?” asked Gryphon whispering. “You are tired, Golnar. You want rest and peace. You will not gain peace from this.”
Golnar knew what she was saying was true, but what could he do? How could he stop Philo? Philo had all the power, and Golnar had nothing. He stared at his queen. He looked into her eyes, knowing he wanted to help her. He wanted to set her free. What Philo was doing would destroy the kingdom. Golnar knew this. The kingdom needed the queen. It could not go on without her. He looked over at Philo and Helmer as they stared at the fire.
Philo looked over his shoulder at Gryphon, and she moved slightly on the table.
“How much longer will this take?” asked Philo. “I don’t know how long that spell will hold her.”
“Just a few more minutes. We can’t rush this if you want it done right. If you are worried about her escaping, go get a little of her blood. I can do something to subdue her for a little while longer.”
Philo grabbed a knife and a small bowl off of the mantle over the fireplace. He walked over to Gryphon and placed the bowl by her arm. He took her arm and quickly sliced it open by her elbow. Golnar jumped as she cried out. Philo collected her blood until half the bowl was full and then let her arm go. Golnar watched as blood flowed from the wound onto the table and the floor.
Philo took the blood over to Helmer. Helmer took a vial out of his pocket and threw it into the bowl, waving his hands over it. Golnar turned to Gryphon as she cried out. She twitched slightly and then her eyes closed. Golnar could feel tears coming to his eyes. He could almost feel her pain.
“That should buy us some time,” said Helmer. He and Philo continued to watch the fire.
Golnar walked over to look at the queen. He could not keep away. He looked at her pale face to see it was screwed up in pain. She was twitching slightly, and sweat had formed on her brow as her breaths came quickly. Golnar reached out and grabbed her hand. She squeezed his tightly and slowly opened her eyes.
“Golnar,” she whispered. She closed her eyes, seeming to fight off a wave of pain.
“I am sorry, my queen,” said Golnar quietly. “I am sorry for what I have done to you.”
“I forgive you,” she said as she opened and closed her eyes. She let go of his hand.
Golnar looked over at Philo and Helmer. He could not let them do this. He could not. Somehow, he had to help her. He had to stop them from hurting her. He walked over to the side of the room, looking for anything he could use. He tried to think of a way to set her free.
“I think it is time,” said Helmer looking into the kettle. “It is starting to bubble.”
“Good,” said Philo.
Philo walked over to Gryphon with the knife. He stood over her, looking down on her with a smile. He reached down and cut three lines into her right arm. “I Philo Quick take the right to rule from the line of Adalwen.” Gryphon cried out, and Golnar cringed at the evil feeling that invaded the room.
Philo cut three more lines into her other arm. “I take it by force and with power.” The queen screamed as the potion over the kettle boiled over.
Golnar saw the blood run down the queen’s arms. He felt panicked as he knew what would come next. Golnar looked to his right and saw a large silver bowl. He grabbed it and looked at Philo. Philo raised the knife and looked down at the queen. Suddenly there was a loud bang outside the room. It sounded like someone was trying to get into the dwelling. Philo looked in the direction of the noise, and Golnar took his chance. He ran over with the large silver bowl and hit Philo hard across the head with the bowl.
Philo looked at Golnar and swayed. Golnar could see blood dripping down Philo’s forehead as Philo dropped the knife and stumbled. He fell into a seated position on the floor. Golnar looked at the queen, and she sat up and threw out her hands. Helmer threw up his hands, but he still flew into a wall.
Golnar watched as the door opened forcefully from the outside as fire flew through the opening. A dark haired man wearing a hat ran in with his hands out. He looked at Golnar with a deadly look in his eyes, and Golnar stepped back. He suddenly felt himself being flung across the room, hitting the wall hard. He felt himself break as he fell to the floor. He looked up to see Philo with his hand extended towards him. Golnar looked over at the queen who was standing up. She was the last thing Golnar saw before everything went black.