Crucible Vows

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Chapter 33

I waited for Elora to arrive so I could speak to her. Thanks to King Darien’s letter, I had little problem getting to the palace, but the Knights wouldn’t let me enter beyond the gate. I remained on Zealot’s back and waited patiently as one Knight was sent to be a messenger to Elora. As I waited, I glanced up to the beautifully sculpted palace. My eyes caught sight of a balcony high up and I saw a figure up there. I couldn’t make out who, but I wondered if it was Elora.

A few more minutes passed and another Knight returned with the one who sent the message. Arlen. I had a bad feeling about what was going to happen. I dismounted Zealot and walked forward, letter in hand from the King.

“The Princess has asked me to speak on behalf of her.” Arlen announced. “I thought I made it clear that you wouldn’t be welcomed here.”

I held up the letter. “I have instructions from His Majesty, King Darien to relay some information about the alliance they have made.”

“She can’t right now.” He responded. “Return another day when she isn’t preparing for her wedding.”

My heart stopped. “Wedding?”

Even the other Knights were shocked at the news. They hadn’t heard this before. But they didn’t argue it either because Arlen had said he was speaking on behalf of the princess.

“Yes,” Arlen smiled. “She will be marrying soon so that the Kingdom will be built strong again by her King.”

My eyes narrowed. Though he didn’t say it. I could tell he was talking about how he would be that King. Something didn’t feel right about the whole situation. Elora didn’t seem the type to take part in a political marriage like that. Not with a Knight from her own Kingdom. Something told me that Arlen was blackmailing her somehow.

“I won’t leave until I speak to Princess Meira.” I responded.

“Yes, you will.” He said as he pulled free his sword.

I only had a moment’s notice before I dodged a swipe of the sharp metal. I pulled my sword and blocked the next attack. He pushed against me and I noticed several other Knights pull their swords from their sheathes.

“No!” Arlen shouted. “I’ll take care of this. Make sure no one interrupts us.”

They did as commanded and our battle commenced. I pushed him away and we continued our dance around each other while avoiding a strike from our blades. As I held my ground, I glanced up at the palace and saw a figure climbing across the balcony to another window. My heart fell, I knew it was Elora. Fear filled my being as I prayed that she wouldn’t fall. What was she doing up there? My attention was forced back to Arlen and I blocked another attack from him. I glanced back up to where I saw Elora and saw she had made it to a window and climbed in, alleviating some of my fear.

The clash between our swords continued for what felt like an eternity. I did my best to remain defensive. He was still a friend of Elora’s and I didn’t want to hurt him. But I could see in his eyes that all he wanted was my death by his hand. A hard hit caused me to fall to the ground. Arlen raised his sword high and brought it down with all his strength. In a flash, Elora stepped in front of me and used a Dagger in her hand to deflect the blade. But the deflection caused the angle of the attack to go off course and slice into her back. She instantly fell forward.

My sword dropped and I caught her in my arms. Her dress was stained with her bright red blood and it quickly seeped into the fibers of my tunic and seams of my gloves. I turned her towards me and stared down at her with shock.

“Elora...”

She looked up at me. “You came.”

The Knights around us let out an outcry. Both Elora and I looked over to see them surrounding Arlen.

“You attacked the Princess!” One shouted.

“She jumped in front of me.” Arlen tried to defend himself. “It’s her own fault!”

They didn’t accept his defense and quickly restrained him and took away his weapon. He was dragged away kicking and screaming. My attention went back to Elora. I grabbed her hand and gave it a small squeeze, bringing her attention back to me.

“Why did you do that?” I questioned with some anger in my voice.

“I couldn’t let you die.”

“It was reckless and thoughtless.” I countered with anger.

“I thought about it.” She responded. “I just didn’t expect that my deflection of the blade would cause it to hit me.”

I activated my crystal and focused on the wound on her back. I hoped that easing the pain would make it more likely for us to get her the medical help she needed to survive. But something was wrong. I couldn’t feel the pain coming to me. I kept trying, over and over, but I felt nothing. Tears began to sting my eyes when I kept trying.

“Why can’t I take your pain?” I asked as my eyes met her purple ones.

She reached up and lifted my visor to look at my face. Frustrated with the thought of her using her strength to see me, I reached up and grabbed the helmet and threw it to the ground. My hand grasped hers again, pulling it close to my chest.

“It doesn’t hurt.” She responded, causing my eyes to widen with shock.

She lifted our joined hands until her palm rested on my cheek. Her eyes gazed into mine, and a sudden flow of sorrow filled my chest. I pulled her closer and pressed my forehead to hers. Finally, the tears I had held back began to fall onto my cheeks. I had just got her back. I couldn’t lose her again.

“Elora...” I cried with a shaky voice.

She took in a harsh breath. “I love you.”

I pulled away and stared at her. A weak smile came to her lips. She loved me too. Though my heart wanted to soar, it quickly crashed when she suddenly went limp in my arms. Her hand fell to the ground and her head fell back. I let out a silent cry of anguish. I pulled her as close as I could and pressed my forehead to hers again.

“No...” I whispered. “You can’t die.”

“Sir!” A Knight ran up to me. “We have to get her inside. We have a healer ready to help her. But we must be quick, or she will die.”

The news gave me the motivation to lift her into my arms. Her head fell back again as I began to run towards the designated area. I hoped, I prayed, that she would make it. She lost a lot of blood, but I had to keep hoping that she would live. I just had to wait.

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