“Curse that wretched human!” Trokar spat as he watched the scene play out on the screen before him. Orborok stood behind him giving a playful grin, finally. He was all too pleased to see Shylaya gone from his life. Trokar was silent with rage and when he turned to look at Orborok, his eyes were filled with venom. Orborok stepped away from Trokar, fearful that his lord would turn his rage over Malik against his nearest subordinate. Orborok’s movement had the opposite effect that he had intended, and instead of moving out of Trokar’s way he had directed Trokar’s attention onto himself. When Trokar looked at Orborok, his rage subsided somewhat, and he regained control of himself. This wasn’t a time for blind anger but a time to use that anger to some purpose.
“Orborok, take Agger with you and dispose of that group. If not all of them, at least Shylaya and the boy, Malik. I will not allow him to possess my pet so,” Trokar said.
Orborok bowed low to his lord and turned toward the door, grabbing his sword as he went.
“On second thought, bring Shylaya and the boy to me. I will kill them both myself,” Trokar said before Orborok could leave the room.
“As you wish, my lord,” Orborok said and looking to Agger he grinned.
“It’s this way,” Reniko said as she weaved through a multitude of passages. Malik was right at her heels, while Rimca and Dertrik were close behind him. Rounding another corner they were met with another imposing doorway. Reniko did not hesitate, but instead pushed on the door until it swung open. They were met with the site of another large hall, this one bigger than the last one they had been in.
“This is Trokar’s audience chamber,” Reniko said. “He’s in a room through that doorway,” she added just as the door she had been pointing too swung open. Orborok stood in the door frame sword in hand. He was looking at Reniko who also had her sword drawn.
“Didn’t have enough the last time we fought?” Reniko asked as soon as she caught sight of the loathsome figure.
“You do not harbour the protection you once did, Shylaya. You have lost favor in Trokar’s eyes. It will be my pleasure to take your life,” Orborok responded as he stepped fully into the hall, Agger close at his heels.
“I would prefer to shed as little blood as possible, but if you are so eager to end your life, so be it,” Reniko said as she came up on Orborok and engaged him in battle. Agger was close behind him, carrying her chakram, and tried to enter the battle as well, only to be stopped as a throwing knife embedded itself into her forearm. Giving out a cry of sudden astonishment, she turned to Rimca who stood a few feet away, two short swords now in her hands.
“Forgotten something?” Rimca asked. Agger sneered and ran at Rimca who caught Agger’s advance with her swords. Rimca staggered when she finally came to a stop, having slid a few feet backward at the force of the Rük’s blow. Dertrik joined their fight, his sword drawn. Noticing the new addition to their foray, Agger smiled. “I think I will enjoy killing you both.” With her arrogant words they flew into battle, Agger a formidable match for both Rimca and Dertrik.
Malik had added his power to Reniko’s battle, though he wasn’t quite sure that she needed his help at all. She was all over Orborok, who could barely keep track of where she was going to be next. Malik remembered his own fight with Reniko only moments ago and was suddenly very glad he would never have to fight her like that ever again. Malik watched as Reniko parried one of Orborok’s coming blows and took to the air to land neatly to one side. Watching her fight against him, Malik realized that all his time fighting with Reniko had made him accustom to her style, and with one fluid movement he joined the fight, both of them fighting as one. Despite the sudden disadvantage that Orborok suddenly had, he held his ground, even gained ground, Malik noted, the angrier he became.
Orborok suddenly lunged at Reniko violently, voicing his rage, as his blade came down on her sword. The force of the blow knocked Reniko clear to the ground and Malik, who was coming to her defense behind Orborok, was thrown across the room as Orborok suddenly turned his attention away from the fallen Reniko and kicked Malik square in the chest. Malik crumpled to the ground unable to breath. He heard a sudden astonished cry come from Reniko, and taking a sudden deep breath, lunged to his feet and ran back into the fight. Malik saw red blood covering the white feathers of Reniko’s left wing; he also saw the fire that now filled her eyes.
“You know, I never liked you as Shylaya,” Orborok said as he stood over Reniko who was clutching Imako so tightly in her hand that her hand had turned white. “I’ve always liked you better as Reniko. You harbour so much more spirit than your other self. I think it must have been this fire that Trokar could not tame. I’m glad that he couldn’t subdue you.” Orborok reached out his hand gently toward Reniko’s face. However, before he could touch her skin, Malik had engaged him once again and the Rük was forced to defend himself. Reniko broke out of the trance she had been in and went to help Malik in his fight. Malik however protested.
“Go, Reniko. End this,” he cried out as he evaded another blow from Orborok. Reniko looked at him helplessly, torn with indecision. She couldn’t just leave Malik alone to fight Orborok. Then again, if she killed Trokar, all of this would all be over. She couldn’t give up the chance that Malik was giving her, and so looking at him desperately, she fled to Trokar’s chamber.
“I love you, Malik,” she said turning back to look at him once more and she disappeared from sight.
“Take a good look, boy, for that is the last you will ever see of her,” Orborok said as he swung violently at Malik who deflected the blow making his arm numb from the impact.
“You’re wrong,” Malik said regaining his composure and lunging at Orborok. The wound in his left shoulder throbbed violently. Hurry Reniko, I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.
Reniko ran down the hallway and entered the room, coming to a halt at the sight of Trokar standing before her waiting.
“I knew you would come,” Trokar said.
“This ends. Here. Now,” Reniko said trying to subdue the anger she felt. The memories she had tormented her. She remembered every cruel thing that Trokar had ever done to her, and every cruel thing that Trokar had made her do. I did them willingly, she thought, no amount of denial will change that.
“As you wish, my pet,” Trokar said as he unsheathed his sword. “You bested the most skilled Rük in my ranks. Now let us see if your prowess can stand against my own. You are right, Shylaya, this does end here, with my death or yours.”
“My name is Reniko,” Reniko screamed as she flew at Trokar. This sudden change of tactic on her part startled Trokar momentarily, but not enough that he could not counter Reniko’s sudden flurry of attacks. He had watched her battle his underlings for the past few months, had studied every move that she had. She would be no match for him, for unlike him, she did not harbour any knowledge about his fighting style at all. Trokar toyed with her, letting her gain the advantage, made her believe that he was bested. It was only when their blade were locked that he smiled at her and Reniko knew that he was hiding something.
“Why are you smiling?” Reniko asked, tensing for the answer she suddenly knew was coming.
“Because, dear pet, you can’t win,” Trokar said and pushed away from Reniko with such force that Reniko had to take to the air to keep from falling.
“You think that I would let you get so close to me, if I thought you could kill me?” Trokar said. Reniko ignored his taunting words and fought fiercely. Trokar did not hold back, and for all Reniko’s speed and skill, his strength began to weaken her. Seeing an opening, Reniko went for it, only to realize to late that it was a feint. Before she could recover from her folly, she felt the cold sting as Trokar’s blade cut into her flesh. She let out a cry of pain, clutching her side feeling the warm blood spill through her fingers. Trokar came in for his final blow and Reniko willed her remaining strength into Imako, blocking the attack, which sent Imako crashing to the ground out of reach. She was defenseless. Clutching her side, she sank to the ground. Trokar stood over her now, triumphant.
“I had hoped you would put up a better fight, Shylaya,” Trokar said, “however, your death will have to be enough.”
Trokar lowered his height by bending all four of his knees and lifted Reniko to her feet. Reniko made no movement to resist. Instead she looked into Trokar’s eyes and spoke.
“You thought you knew me so well,” she said, “but Shylaya lacked one quality that I have, something that makes me a different person than her.”
“And what might that be?” Trokar asked.
“Compassion,” Reniko whispered, and with a loud cry she pulled the dagger from Trokar’s belt and stabbed it solidly into his right side. Trokar gave out a loud cry, and before the heart Reniko had stabbed gave out, he thrust his sword forward impaling Reniko in her chest. Trokar fell to the ground, the impact taking his last breath from him. Reniko fell to her knees breathing sporadically. “I’m not afraid to die,” she whispered and slumped to the ground. “It’s over. Malik… take care of them.” She closed her eyes and exhaled.
Malik was on the ground and no amount of anger could move him now. He was spent, his last reserves gone. Orborok stood over him grinning. This is it, Malik thought and instead of shutting his eyes to it, he looked at Orborok. My death will not be for nothing. Orborok poised his sword over his head readying for the final swing and stopped. His eyes went wide and he let his sword drop to the ground. And with an insane cry, he clutched his head and fell to the ground unconscious.
Malik reached for his sword and slowly got to his feet and stood over Orborok’s unconscious body. “What just happened?” he asked and looked toward Rimca and Dertrik who were both standing beside Agger’s still frame. Dertrik and Rimca looked at him.
“She’s done it,” Dertrik said and fled in the direction of the door to Trokar’s chamber. Malik and Rimca followed closely behind. The both of them nearly ran straight into Dertrik’s back as he came to a stop in the doorway. Dertrik remained silent, and Malik pushed passed him to enter the room. The sight before him was ghastly. The room was torn to pieces from the battle. Trokar lay on the ground, a dagger in his side. Reniko lay close beside him, a sword pierced clean through her.
“No!” Malik cried. He ran across the room and clutched Reniko protectively. “You can’t die. I won’t let you. You can’t leave me behind.”
Rimca was beside him, standing over him in silence, unable to console him in anyway, too devastated by this loss herself. Dertrik was the only one able to speak.
“She’s still breathing,” he said as he leaned in close to her and saw her chest working labouriously.
Malik wasted no more time and instead ripped open the pouch containing the Reflaydun sphere and shouted at it desperately, “Save her!”
The sphere activated and looked at Reniko. “We are afraid that this damage is beyond our repair.”
“There has to be something we can do,” Malik said.
“We cannot fix this damage, but if you can get her to this facility,” the hologram said and suddenly illuminated a map, “within the next four minutes and thirty-six seconds we are sure that the damage can be repaired.” Dertrik scanned the map hurriedly, picked Reniko up off the ground and ran.
“Open the door, quickly,” Dertrik said as they stood outside the door to the archives. Malik went to the panel and set his hand on it, and waited impatiently while the tingling sensation passed through his hand.
When the door opened, Dertrik hurried through, and looking around in confusion glanced back at Rimca who was holding the sphere in her hands.
“In there,” she said pointing to a room on the far right. Dertrik went in and set Reniko in the centre of the room. The room was spherical in shape with silver walls that conjoined much like the Reflaydun sphere. It harboured nothing inside its wall but the still frame of Reniko.
“You have to pull out the sword, Dertrik,” Rimca said. Dertrik stood over Reniko’s body and grabbed the hilt of the sword.
“Forgive me child,” Dertrik said as he pulled hard on the sword and drew it swiftly from her chest. Blood began flowing from the wound immediately and Reniko let out a small cry, her body writhing in pain.
“Get out of there,” Malik cried and Dertrik fled from the room, leaving Reniko alone in her agony.
Once Dertrik had cleared the doorway, a transparent force shield activated. Malik, Dertrik and Rimca all turned to look into the room. Reniko was floating into the centre of the room and a strange blue glow was emanating from her, trails of crimson blood floated in the air around her, and as the three of them watched , the blue light coalesced at the centre of Reniko’s chest and exploded in a brilliant flash causing the three observers to turn away blinded.
“What, in the name of the goddess, was that?” Malik asked as Rimca grabbed the Reflaydun sphere from the panel she had inserted it into causing the force shield to fail. He didn’t wait for an answer to his question when he saw Reniko, who was lying on the ground once again, start to move. He ran to her side and grabbed her hand protectively as she sat up and gazed around the room.
“What happened?” she asked with a weak voice and suddenly remembering the events that had transpired she grabbed at her chest. Parting the torn fabric she looked at the scar that now graced her chest instead of an open wound.
“How?” she asked.
“Does it matter?” Malik asked.
Reniko looked at Malik and fell into his arms, “No.”
“I’m never letting you out of my sight ever again, Lyss. You always get into so much trouble,” Malik said as he hugged Reniko, his tears falling into her hair. “Be my wife, Reniko.”
Reniko looked up at him and smiled, she too had tears trailing down her face, “Only if you tell me what, Lyss, means.” Malik laughed through his tears and Reniko joined him.
“It means –”
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