This time the silence I always longed for sickens me. My idea of surrender, so far, had brought peace. Minuscule in time, but peace never the less. And space of a few rare moments to think with the clatter and slither of chains behind me from my two hostages.
Layla had given the order for everyone to back down as did Thaddeus and Sylvan. I had contacted Shai with a simple message, we surrender to the war, let the remaining survive.
Within seconds, Layla and my mates confirmed that the killing had ceased after the Requiem Horde members had dropped their weapons.
And then Shai had finally spoken back to me minutes ago with a simple message to match my own, everyone will be marched outside.
She had seemed more than satisfied. Heavily content with the way this was leading.
I was now walking through empty corridors, the lower halls splattered in blood and seperate limbs... some heads... while I was the last to leave the empty Requiem Mountains.
I had checked on Madeline but she refused to speak at length with me as she stood between her stone mates, gazing into their eyes desperately. She had simply said, ‘be on your way, Luv’. And so I left her, knowing in her state of grief, at least being in her bed chamber was one of the safest options for now.
Eventually I finally hit the place where the caves lead to the Requiem forest, after blocking out my mate’s thoughts of ordering around warriors, I was left with my own thoughts.
I had already considered using Roi and Althor against Shai as a very last resort.
They were behind me now, both in chains as I led them forward.
I meet Dane and Aneurin by the entrance, in their human forms. They are covered in blood from killing, but they silently come forward and take the chains off me.
“You’ll be dead soon, most likely,” Roi calls out to me.
“This is madness,” Althor hisses while Aneurin and Dane grab the chains of Roi and Althor and I step back to purse my lips and think further.
“Cover them in mud,” I suggest to both of Summer’s mates, “They need to be unrecognisable. Bring them forward if I request it.”
“Good thinking,” Dane replies, a little pale.
“What’s the matter?” I ask, even if it’s a stupid question.
“Wait until you see,” Aneurin answers for me, neutrally, as if thinking about the near end of all our lives.
I straighten my back and I turn to head away from them to see what the battle field outside will look like.
I hesitate when I see rows and rows of Requiem members, many injured and bloodied. Much of the forest has been burnt to ash and is still burning as the invading army stand poised for fighting. Three hundred Silver Breeds, mages, Fire Spitters and human warriors. The combined mass of their army seems to dwarf the current all-mortal forms of the Requiem Horde. All Dragons were not allowed to be their true forms in this surrender.
I see Layla facing Shai while Thaddeus and Sylvan stand behind Layla.
Luvenia, I pause in my strides when I hear Amadahy whisper through my head, I have that army sent for me, on my side, I did it! I can prove allegiance.
What the- I’ll ask of the details later. What about now, what do I do to win? I have no idea, I plead with Amadahy and I’m surprised how calm she is in her reply.
They will not follow Shai if you prove the balance is not with them. Show them all, that you are favoured in the eyes of the Sky Gods and if you are lucky they will leave back to their Tempest Lands without a fuss. Right now they believe Shai’s judgement can not be questioned, but that doesn’t mean they can not be persuaded otherwis-
Amadahy’s voice cuts off as a more powerful one enters my mind.
About time, Shai drawls through my head and meets my gaze through the crowd as I trudge my way forward, you kept me waiting. I’m not very patient, Luvenia.
I watch as she lazily whispers a few words and Layla slowly turns to stone, which makes everyone in the surrendered Requiem Horde, gasp and stiffen with fear.
“She was getting annoying,” Shai shrugs, smiling when my fury rises.
“Make way,” I ask as I push through the crowd and finally reach my mate’s sides.
They look at each other and then at me, until I see that they both have a wound to their head each, as if they had been slammed into each other.
“Luvenia,” Sylvan welcomes me and tries to keep a positive tone, “So, we’re surrendering now?”
“Yes,” I keep my eye on Shai as I stand next to Layla’s stone form, “I want you to know there is one more way, Shai,” I bluff, this was it.
It was all improvisation now
“Oh, how, darling?” Shai asks, truly keen to humour me.
“You can be challenged,” I am interrupted by a dark, brooding tone and I spin to see Rawk and Zoraul step forward.
“By someone of equal power, yes,” Shai nods to the new arrivals, content, still.
Her nonchalant behaviour is rubbing me up the wrong way. She was so confident.
“Who is of equal power?” I ask Rawk and Zoraul.
“Us,” Rawk and Zoraul raise their palms, “Twin Leading Breeds qualify-”
“I accept your challenge,” Shai answers, bored, she waves her hand through the air, mutters a few words and I watch as my heart drops into my stomach, as the two Silver Breeds on our side, turn to stone in seconds, “Oh, look at that, I win,” her words have the blood thirsty Tempest Dragons behind her all laughing in approval, “Any other challenges or last words before I choose which souls get to live and which will be set in stone?” Shai asks me, “Don’t worry, Luv, I’ll be as merciful as I can.”
“I, um...” I trail off and Amadahy’s words filter through my brain... and I match it up with something Shai taught me... “Balance,” I spit the word out, thinking quickly, “The Sky Gods demand balance.”
You preach to us of our belief? A male voice growls through my head and I watch a humongous Tempest Dragon step forward, baring golden fangs, you know nothing of our way, idiotic half-breed princess. And your side is clearly a little on the back foot, accept defeat graciously to our Blood Raven or I’ll personally rip you in half for her-
“Stop, Jawr, let her speak... it will be a memorable speech, I bet,” Shai humours me again and I nod my ‘thanks’ until she says, “How’s your mother coping?”
This shoots my anger through the roof.
"Don’t talk to me of my mother. As for balance, you are notdestined to win today, I know it. We have the true power... you just haven’t seen it yet,” I hiss, while Shai raises a slow brow.
“If you’re planning on fighting now, it’ll be a blood bath of your Horde, writhing in four parts or more on this battle field. So, let’s cut this short. You have no terms of negotiation and the Sky Gods are with us. And you have no more champions to challenge me. So, if you’re done -”
“I challenge you,” it is not me. It is a tear strained voice behind me, croaking with passion. I turn slowly to see Madeline storm out in her night robe as she protectively comes to stand in front of me, “I challenge you, bitch.”
“Oh, please. Only someone of my power can challenge me,” Shai murmurs, bored, while narrowing her eyes.
“If you will not accept my challenge then I want one more thing,” Madeline snarls.
“Anything, you poor soul... but it better be entertaining, after organising all this travel,” Shai warns my mother and I look at Madeline, wondering if she’s crazy or brilliant.
“I want to sing my Requiem Horde a song,” Madeline explains, a little more calmly, “And I will defeat you with my words.”
“You’re insane,” Shai whispers, mockingly, “But go ahead, Madeline... sing. And if your Dragon Slayer powers can touch me, since I’m a Blood Raven... I’ll personally surrender myself, I’ll bend the damn knee to you and plead for mercy. Deal?”
A rumble of chuckles come from the Dragons behind.
“Deal,” Madeline slowly smiles.
“Let the crazy bitch sing!” Shai calls out, putting up her hands to emphasise the drama.
Right before the ground shakes.
With the start of a song that pierces all our ears... and my mother hasn’t even started to sing the words yet.
She has simply turned her back on Shai, to face the Requiem Horde.
And then she opens her lips and the lyrics pour forth.
[Youtube this song exactly as the title appears: “I Started A Joke” (Official Suicide Squad Cover- Trailer Version) Exclusive - CMX]
I started a joke
that started the whole world crying
but I didn’t see
[she turns back to Shai and the Army of Tempest Breeds]
that the joke was on me
I started to cry
which started the whole world laughing
if I’d only seen
that the joke was on me
You’d have to believe it to see the way the magic of the sound, lifts the spirits from the whole front row of Dragons, bringing up at least thirty souls, which all mist and make the air pregnant with fog.
It slams back into Madeline, all of it, but not before it flows right back out of her hands, needing an outlet... and it all slams right into Shai.
It slams her back into the ground, even cracking the scaled armour the Blood Raven wears.
It knocks her out cold and has the rest of the Tempest Breeds watching in shock as their leader falls and so do the first row of heavily armed Dragons... now, so quickly, dead at their feet.
I watch as Madeline is crying through her tears and at the end of her power, which is still wracking through her body.
She can’t seem to control it.
Thaddeus steps forward and put’s a hand around her throat, holding her back up and somehow sucking out her remaining power... giving her her strength back.
All the way, Jawr, who has survived the attack, steps forward menacingly.
One trick does not prove the Sky Gods are with you, Jawr’s snarl has everyone around him lowering their heads for an attack, Shai is simply sleeping.
His army is ready... until another distraction happens.
A high pitched deadly and snarly woot echoing across the forest like a call.
The Fire-Spitters with the Tempest Breeds, very suddenly raise their heads, flap their wings and shoot off into the sky... away... as if they are retreating.
Not to matter, Jawr mocks the miniature Dragon’s retreat, we have Dragon Slayers of our own to take your life. Let me -
“Good luck, I am a Slayer of Dragon Slayers,” Thaddeus snarls out, cutting Jawr off, he steps forward to stand beside me, “Send them to me and I’ll kill every single one.”
You seem confident in the face of certain death, Jawr is persistently positive.
“I have a Prophets Eye,” Sylvan steps forward next, “I saw the end of the war. We win. Shall we end it bloody or with peace? Go back to your home. You don’t belong here. But when you leave, you’ll leave Shai the Blood Raven under our hand for punishment. It’s what the Sky Gods desire. ”
Funny, I’d believe you, Warlord Sylvan, if we didn’t have the numbers to slaughter you all, Jawr mocks, get ready to eat these jokers alive. The negotiations are over, take no prisoners!
“Look, Jawr!” A mage comes forward, pointing up to the sky.
Now we all look up, as Jawr is unbelievably interrupted, embarrassingly for the third time.
And what I see completely astounds me.
In the moonlight I see Silver Breeds from the west and from the east, two seperate groups of Dragons heading our way.
And at the top of the mountain tops I see the Fire-Spitters have circled back around and they are all willingly watching a purple Dragon flying before them, spitting out fire in speech.
That bloody Minx!
I’ve brought the army, Amadahy laughs through my mind, I talked to my old grump of a father... who hates Shai. I told him she insulted his bond with her, by mentioning another hundred babes in truth. Well, my father always thought Shai only had one child; me. My father being an ancient brute, decided he didn’t like her fooling men into love... when she had once loved him.
“Interesting...” I whisper to myself, a little overwhelmed as I look to the second group of Dragons, but who are they? I ask Amadahy.
Umm, I don’t know, Amadahy answers, honestly.
It can not be true, Jawr’s suddenly terrified growl is satisfying for me to hear... but I’m wrong if I think it’s just because there is enforcements or that their Fire-Spitters have left to join Minx.
He seems to be focused on the unknown group of Tempest Breeds.
They are the reason he is shaking in his scales and armour.
The only slaughter today will be of the filth who disrespected my sons in helping the bitch who turned them to stone, a new voice filter’s through everyone’s minds and I see all the enemy Tempest Breeds coward on the field.
It is him. It’s Storm, the Legendary Shadow in the Sky, Jawr tells his army in a panic, everyone, remember how to fight in Shadow Magics, eyes up, eyes everywhere. They could appear from -
“Or you could surrender,” I give the answer to Jawr and he snarls down at me just as Storm... Rawk and Zoraul’s father, comes in for a fast and aggressive landing.
The whole horde of Silver Breeds, fifteen in total, land beside the Requiem wounded as Storm lands with his jaws wrapped around Jawr’s neck, crushing down and snapping until blood pours forth.
I’m shadowed by Storm’s wing, and he is about the biggest Dragon I’ve ever seen.
I mean, I think I had heard somewhere he was nearly 750 years old.
“Well, shit,” Thaddeus murmurs beside me as Sylvan walks up to my other side.
“I think we’re about to win, Luv,” Sylvan kisses the side of me head, “Because of you.”
“Ha ha... I’m not sure about that,” I murmur as I see Storm raise his horned head, blood dripping down his teeth.
The rest of the enemy Tempest Breeds start backing off.
Wise, or you’ll all become my Horde’s breakfast, Storm snarls this and the rest of the Dragons all fly off in retreat, just as Amadahy’s army starts to chase them off.
And so does an angry line of Fire-Spitters... led by a purple scaled beast.
No words needed to be said as I hear the roar of happiness from the Requiem crowd behind me, even while I watch Madeline pick up Shai’s ankles and angrily drag her over to us.
“We’re not done yet,” Madeline calls out, stopping by me with a defenceless Blood Raven knocked out into a coma.
“Roi can heal her with Summer,” I suggest, “And then we can save Hael, Lochness, Layla, Rawk, Zoraul and anyone else affected by the Stone Magic.”
“And then I can shove a dagger through her heart,” Madeline says, “Just like she did in all of ours.”
“I will accompany you,” the shadow from Storm is replaced by a tall man wearing clothes... did he... he did... he was able to shift into his clothes with his magic. Impressive. He was wearing a grey coat, grey leather patchy pants and boots with his mane of burnt silver hair out wild, which contrasted with his golden eyes, “If you can save my son’s lives, I will be your grateful ally,” Storm nods at me and I nod back.
“Sounds like a deal, Storm.”