Ragnar sat on the wooden bench, oddly calm and collected. He looked around the small hut and observed his fellow mages, all that remained of them. Ten years of war had ended in the deaths of most mages and sorceresses and those who decided to follow Wulfstan lived a life of violence and chaos. Many had changed sides simply to save their lives and others had taken their own lives and that of their families to avoid a brutal death.
Ragnar sighed quietly, rubbing his hands on his face. He had been at the gathering held welcoming the lost mage home and had listened to Wulfstan’s words. At first, Wulfstan had described all that he had seen and learned on his travels. Ragnar had thought instantly that the man was holding something back and then it had all turned sinister. Wulfstan talked about changing the order of things and had urged everybody in the council chambers of the university to accept him as the new ultimate power or perish. Ragnar had immediately rejected this as many others had done on the council. Some, maybe out of fear or for the opportunity to rise to power, had joined Wulfstan. Together with Thurida he had fought. He had made it out alive somehow, Thurida had not. Spikes of ice had blasted through her shield and torn her almost in half. The memory flooded back vividly and the scar on the left side of his face which stretched all the way from his temple down to his collarbone throbbed painfully.
He was now part of the last resistance group. Though in his heart he knew the futility of it all but his instinct would not let him give in. Somebody handed him a mug filled with ale and he lifted it to his lips and drank in one long movement, drying his mouth with the back of his hand when he had finished. The bitter but herby flavor of the ale filled his mouth and warmed his stomach.
He would prepare himself now for the final battle. Rising, he walked over to the fire that was burning in the center of the small hut. An opening in the roof allowed for the smoke to escape, it rolled in shapes and figures as it ascended. Ragnar pushed aside his heavy leather coat which covered him completely from neck to toe and showed his simple but functional clothes beneath, a shirt which once had been white but now stained with a variety of dirt and coarse trousers. He felt for the belt every mage and sorceresses carried, attached to which were numerous leather pouches containing the Alnamaks. These were small glass spheres containing the energy to all magical powers. Ragnar let his hand glide over the pouches, sensing the Alnamaks that needed charging. He pulled out several and held them in his palm. Not much larger than an eyeball but they held great power.
With another deep sigh Ragnar relaxed and reached towards the fire. His skill instantly took over and quicker than a breath drew the energy of the fire into the Alnamaks. The spheres began to glow red hot and with another command to his skill Ragnar sealed the power within. The fire before him had extinguished, only cold ashes remained. He was the only fire mage amongst the fighters and he needed all the power he could get. Looking around he observed the others similarly preparing for the battle. Only a few water mages remained inside, emptying large bowls of water as the power flowed into their Alnamaks. All others had gathered outside to charge theirs, except for one. She had caught Ragnar’s attention instantly when she had arrived last night.
Dusk had just fallen when the lookouts had pointed out the sole figure approaching the village. It was not a large village, only five houses, including the great gathering hall, which served as the final refuge for the families, all the other houses had been taken over by the last fighters. The call of the lookouts had caused all of them to run out. The figure which had appeared before them was a young woman, dressed in a simple gown the colour of a stormy day, revealing a slim but curved shape, not at all unattractive. Her long brown hair had covered her face but in the light of the torch had revealed pretty features and piercing green eyes. She introduced herself to the gathered mages as Yolaine and explained she had fled and seeked refuge amongst the last mages and sorceresses fighting. She would not offer any further information and nobody had wished to press the mater.
Ragnar had wondered. He sensed powers within her beyond the basic human capabilities, marking her more than a sorceress. However, he could not sense the nature of the magic. He could not tell if it was fire, water, air, earth or light. Yolaine remained a mystery to him. He kept a close eye on her to reassure himself she was not a spy or an infiltrator but the night passed and the morning came together with a message brought by sparrow that the army approached.
Yolaine now sat in the hut clasping her hands together and waited. She had not made it clear if she wished to fight or if she would remain and await her death. Ragnar frowned and with a quick spin turned and strode out. Outside, mages were gathered in small groups waiting, nobody spoke. The day promised to be beautiful, a blue morning sky and the sun rose drying the dew from the plants. The village stood on a vast grass clearing which opened to the north and had woodlands to both west and east. Once certainly beautiful now full of brown patches and dead trees where the mages had pulled their respective powers.
Suddenly, the silence broke.
A long deep roar echoed across the clearing quickly followed by the sound of a horn. They were here. The mages and sorceresses broke out into frantic movements trying to prepare themselves. Screams and outcries could be heard from people, the last farewells had been given. Ragnar strode to the front looking out towards the north. Silently and without him noticing, Yolaine had stepped next to him staring intently at the road ahead.
The minutes felt like hours as noise approached them and finally the enemy came into view. Ragnar was shocked by their sheer numbers which overshadowed their own greatly. Murmurs and whispers reflected his shock and he heard steel drawn from its scabbards. Even though this was going to be a magical battles the feeling of a weapon in hand brought some reassurance. He observed as hundreds of mages and sorceresses came into view, walking in tight lines. With great horror Ragnar saw the two dragons flying above the lines. One was a large Silvertip and the other a smaller Bluecrest. Both dragons carried people and roared in delight for the coming blood bath. The lines and dragons advanced and came so close that Ragnar could make out faces. In disbelief he saw that at the front of the lines marched Wulfstan himself, grim determination on his face. He had come to see the last resistance destroyed, marking his final and ultimate victory.
Quietly Yolaine stepped forward, passing Ragnar and stood before the advancing enemies. Ragnar starred in amazement as she lifted both her arms to chest height, palms facing upwards.
A moment passed, nothing happened, but then she pushed her palms straight and a great wall rolled towards the enemy, only visible because of the ripples it had created in the light. Glinting like millions of rainbows come together, it was beautiful. Ragnar felt a tingle of the enormous power unleashed and saw a shimmer in the air as the wall of power hit. First it hit Wulfstan, who had his mouth open in shock, then the advance halted, every mage and sorceress stopped cold in their tracks. Both dragons froze and fell from the sky like giant rocks, no sound was heard other than the loud bang when they both hit the ground and buried bodies underneath them. The people on their backs had been flung off and now lay still and broken on the ground. Blood soaked the ground under the dragon’s bodies. No cries of pain or any other sound was audible but the sight was horrible. Although none of the resistance had been affected by Yolaine’s power they too stood frozen in shock and amazement, mouths wide open.
She swung her arms in a wide arch and a line of golden colour appeared around her. Its power heating the air around it until visibly steam rose. With a soft grunt, Yolaine swung her arms again forcing the blade like arch away from her, it rushed into the remaining enemies. It hit them all waist height and cleaved the bodies in two. They all went down in showers of blood, lying dead and destroyed on the ground. None remained alive and Wulfstan, who had brought all the destruction lay defeated on the ground. He had died without a chance of a fight and his death had been unceremonious.
Calmly Yolaine turned away from the massacre, facing the mages and sorceresses. She had not even broken a sweat or looked otherwise visibly drained by the powers she had unleashed. Ragnar tried to make sense of it, relief flooded through him as well as fear of this women. As if by silent command, people stalked past him, weapons raised. They recognised a new threat and it had to be dealt with, even before any celebrations could take place that they had survived because of her. Same as him a few others stood still, waiting.
Yolaine stood straight, shoulders pushed back and head held high waiting for their judgement.