As Val and I got packed up to leave, Tenzin pulled me aside and took me up to the partially destroyed castle. It didn’t look much like the home from in my visions, at least not anymore.
“Tenzin, where are you taking me?” I asked him as we walked inside the castle and over some rubble and large pieces of debris. Everything that we passed looked familiar but also unfamiliar. A lot of the things within the castle had been torn apart and burned to the point where I couldn’t recognize what was what anymore. I felt a pang in my chest when I saw the destroyed tapestries and paintings, there wasn’t much left of our home.
“To a place, so that you can be prepared for what you are going to face when you go back to the battle front,” Tenzin responded as he stopped in front of a large dark wooden door. There were large pieces of ruble and some wooden beams blocking our way to the door. I was about to ask Tenzin how we were supposed to get in when he jumped up to the ceiling, where I swear was at least 50 feet off the ground. He grabbed the hold of the wooden beam and hoisted himself up onto the beam. I watched as he carefully walked across the beam to a giant hole in the wall that was about half his size, and ducked into the hole. I had to try to think of how I could get up there too. I knew that I could but I just had a lot of different options on how. It’d be just easier to just do as Tenzin had considering that it was the least complicated of my options. Once I was inside the hole in the wall all I could see was darkness. Something must have happened to my eyes because after a couple of moments at staring into the darkness I could see the outline of a set of stairs that led down into what look like an extremely large room. It didn’t appear that there were any windows in the room. However, I saw some debris that made me think that there used to be rather large windows. Stone and wood must’ve crushed the glass and frames before covering the holes up.
I looked around the room as I walked down the stairs. It look like an old armory or perhaps a weapons fault, but with the amount of cobwebs and dust it look like no one had been in this room for years instead of months. Why was there so much dust on everything? Than I remembered what I had proclaimed as law shortly after I had taken the throne. We weren’t going to resort to barbaric violence like the other countries had. We were going to try to be a peaceful country that would attempt to settle things civilly first. That’s why all of the weapons were confiscated and locked away. Instead of practicing swordplay we had practiced how to keep control over the elements. Instead of target practice we practiced healing others. This village was happy and peaceful and I wasn’t about to let someone else’s war destroy our sanctuary.
“I almost forgot about these,” I whispered to myself as I glanced around at the various weapons that were pushed against the walls. But Tenzin must have heard me, because he dropped to the ground in front of me from wherever he had been hiding.
“Yeah I almost did too but I figured that you might like the leg up when going out there,” Tenzin told me as he walked over to some stands that were draped with different armors. There was a hint of something in his voice that concerned me though.
“Tenzin, are you alright?” I asked as I slowly approached where he was. Tenzin stopped walking for a moment and didn’t say anything.
“I just don’t want to lose my sister, again,” Tenzin whispered over his shoulder before he continued over to the armor. Oh geez, I hadn’t even thought about what he had been going through since he acted so well put together. It was similar to the same mask that I used to pull on everyone what I wasn’t feeling up to par. I couldn’t let anyone else see me falter.
Tenzin had followed in my footsteps and that was the exact thing that I had wanted him to never have to do. I paused in my walking for a second as I stared at his back. He looked tired and worn out. My heart hurt knowing what have caused him to look like this. I rushed up to Tenzin and threw my arms around him making sure to lock down his arms so that he wouldn’t be able to fight me off. I smirked a little as I realized that I was still stronger than him, but not by much anymore.
“I’m sorry that you had to do all that,” I whispered into Tenzin’s back. He relaxed and leaned his head back until it bonked into mine.
“I just don’t understand how you could have done this for so long on your own and I could barely last a few months doing what you did everyday for years,” Tenzin whispered back to me. “But I had to do it because there was a whole lot of people depending on me to pull them out of this crisis, if it wasn’t for what you did right before you disappeared a lot of people that are alive in the village, wouldn’t be. Even on the brink of death you still managed to heal the whole village and get rid of the guys who were attacking us. I want to be like you someday, sister.”
“Once this is all over you can come with me on more of the royal duties if you like, and I could teach you the ropes,” I told Tenzin as I let go of him. He chuckled and shook his head as he turned to look at me.
“I think that after this I’m going to relax for a little while and just help with the rebuild instead,” Tenzin told me, “but after that I will consider taking you up on that offer.”
“Fair enough,” I said smiling as we walked over to the armor. Tenzin manage to find my old armor from back when I was young and impetuous. I also managed to find my old helmet in a trunk with a bunch of other helmets. My helmet had a huge crack near the top on the left side. Someone had tried to shoot an arrow at me but the helmet stopped it. I considered it my lucky helmet and I wouldn’t use any other one. No matter how much my brother and the family servants had told me to reconsider.
However, there was still something that I needed to do. The chain that I had received from the fish in the pond a while back, when Avin and I had rescued Tray, was still around my neck. The chain though was not mine, it had been lost during all of the fighting. I reached around the back of my neck and unhooked the necklace.
“I believe that this is yours,” I said as I held out the chain to Tenzin.
“Where did you find this?” Tenzin asked as he stared at the chain like he was seeing things.
“Those fish friends of yours didn’t want you to be without it,” I replied with a smirk as I dropped into his shaking hands. “Your lucky that Val didn’t know that you lost another one of his proposal gifts.”
Tenzin chuckled as he shakily hooked the chain around his neck, rubbing it affectionately between his fingers.
“I’m guessing that you know about the scouts that I sent then too?” Tenzin commented sheepishly as he looked to me from underneath his eyelashes.
“Yeah, but why were you sending them out in groups of three instead of just pairs?”
“We just felt like it would be better, you know, safety in numbers and all that.”
I smiled proudly at my younger brother, he had done such an amazing job in my absence. I hugged him in a tight embrace before going over to look through the armour for the rest of my suit.
Once I was all geared up I headed back out to where I had left Val and Sebastian. We really couldn’t waste any more time. I had a really bad feeling that we had already wasted too much time as it was. Val and I left our home village and flew back to the battlegrounds on Sebastian. Along the way though, no one said a word. We were completely silent in flight because we needed to be able to sneak up on the soldiers undetected. We needed that so that we could make our grand entrance and draw everyone’s attention at the same time. But as we flew over the battlefield there was no one there, well no one that was alive anyway, hundreds of corpses littered the entire field. Confused, I flew closer to the enemy side so I could see their healing Camp the entire thing was nothing but a couple piles of scattered remains of buildings. I looked back to Val but he looked just as confused as I felt.
“Where is everybody?” Val asked as he looked around at the Healer Camp when we got closer. The enemy’s camp was completely burned to the ground but now we could see a couple of burnt corpses that lay just outside the buildings.
“Now do you really think that Elves could do this?” I asked Val as I steered Sebastian to go back towards the camp that I had worked at before I was kidnapped.
“No, not at all,” Val commented absently. It sounded like his mind was elsewhere. “Unless, do you think that maybe someone from our side teamed up with a different Kingdom in secret to wipe out the other Elves that they were fighting against? Like the people who had created that weird parasite spell for example.”
Again I thought back to how easily the king had been slain it just really wasn’t making any kind of sense to me. Could he perhaps have been in contact with someone else to help him win the war at whatever the costs? This was definitely not looking good. The king might have been connected to other people in Amavin’s realm, that would explain where the parasite spell came from and why people who came back from the battlefield kept saying that they were attacked by Shadows. Amavin was the princess of the dark and the night, those Shadows could have been some of her minions. Since Avin wasn’t really helping them out in the war the next best thing that he could be used for was to unite the two kingdoms more firmly. That’s probably what the king had in mind when he announced Avin’s betrothal to Amavin.
Sebastian flew silently over the battlefield as Val and I search for any other living soldiers, it didn’t matter what side they were because no one here really was an enemy. Well except for any sort of Shadow creatures and those who were on my hit list. Val and I were both stunned that we didn’t see anyone not even any animals. This was more than a little bit strange. As we got closer to the Healer Camp the buildings finally came into view. However, now that the buildings were in sight that meant that we were too.
“Sebastian go towards the forest I don’t want them to see us,” I told Sebastian as I patted him on the side of his neck. Sebastian snorted an affirmative and veered left towards the forest and trees. He flew directly over top of them so that his belly was almost skimming the tops of the trees as soon as Sebastian got within 200 feet of the camp I started to get a weird feeling so I told him to duck down into the forest. Sebastian closed his wings and drove straight down into the trees, barely making a sound. The leaves that fell to the ground around us floated silently to the ground from the branches we had just flown through.
“I don’t suppose that you could change into something a bit smaller and, I don’t know, less noticeable,” I asked Sebastian as I craned my neck around to see his face. Sebastian turn his head around to look at me. He just looked at me for a moment before responding.
“Would a wolf be a more suitable form, or perhaps a horse?” Sebastian asked as he cocked his head slightly to the side. A horse would be more common place but we were in a war so we could use all of the muscle that we could get.
“Wolf is fine, at least until we get out in the open then you can return into my arm until we need your assistance again. It’ll also give you a chance to rest up for a bit,” I told Sebastian as I patted his neck.
“As you wish mistress,” Sebastian replied but I could tell that he really appreciated the thought of being able to rest for a bit.
“Would you mind dismounting for a moment so that I may changed more swiftly?” in response to his request I motioned for Val to get down and we both jumped off of Sebastian’s back. We stood over by the largest tree to give Sebastian more space to change his form.
“This is going to get ugly isn’t it?” Val asked grimly referring to what we were about to face at the camp. I nodded in a solemn agreement. This was going to get really ugly before it got any better. It wasn’t long until Sebastian was finished changing his form. But just before we mounted up I pulled Val back and got him to look me in the eyes I had both hands on his shoulder so that he wouldn’t turn away from me while I was talking to him.
“You don’t need to go out there with me,” I told Val and shushed him when he opened his mouth to protest. I wasn’t finished talking to him yet. “Things are going to get pretty bad really fast, and there’s a very high chance that this could fail miserably and that we could both wind up dead. So I’m asking you only once; are you sure that you want to go out there and face the evil that surely awaits us at the camp?”
Val didn’t even hesitate in his response. He even stood up straighter and looked me directly in the eyes with undeterred determination
“I understand completely, your highness. But I started this with you and I will end this with you as well,” Val replied with a very serious expression. I had never seen him look like this before. He has never been this serious about much else that I could remember. I gave him a grim smile, and squeeze his shoulders.
“Then let’s go kick some ass,” I told him, and he smiled back at me. Then we both mounted on to Sebastian’s new wolf form and galloped towards the camp.