The Battle (Chapter 23)

King Kornelius led the army and it was not long before a division of fairies joined in too.

The king had instructed Hetty and Hetitia to take Petuna somewhere safe and to make sure not to lose sight of her but Petuna had refused. She had insisted to participate in the battle. Having experienced the adventures of her day, she felt stronger, wiser and more mature and she wanted to be able to play a part in protecting the land and her people.

The king felt proud listening to his daughter as she spoke, but a growing fear filled him at the same time. He did not want to witness the same fate that he had witnessed years ago with his late wife. It would be too much for him to bear; twice in a lifetime. No matter how hard he tried to talk her out of her convictions, he knew in his heart that there was no stopping her. It reminded him of himself as a young prince when he had just come of age and realised the responsibility that had been placed upon him. Words such as responsibility and duty took on a different meaning for him and he learnt to respect them. Now, as the king stood there, about to lead his army through to battle, he saw the same conviction within his daughter and he could not stand in its way. He knew that Hetty and Hetitia had enough experience to help her get up to speed. They had not been chosen to be the royal fairies randomly.

The trumpet sounded and King Kornelius gave his order for Glacier’s division to pursue the avalanche. Their task was to stop and destroy the avalanche and they left immediately, guided by a team of clouds, who sped ahead of them showing them the way. The rest of the clouds were divided amongst the king’s men, the fairies and the fairies’ troops. Cloud Bearer also had his own division who was devoted to the king. Wallowing Waterfall had been watching the proceedings before her with awe and she made way for the army as they proceeded through to the Crystal Well.

The army made their way to the bright cave beyond the Wallowing Waterfall where the humans had first arrived. They could see that the tunnel had been blocked off by parts of the avalanche where Glacier fought it off and diverted its course. The humans were no where to be seen, however. The king thought for a moment and realised that they had either drifted along with the avalanche or were trapped somewhere beyond the tunnel on the red mountain. As Glacier was already making his way to the avalanche, if the humans were indeed caught in the avalanche, the clouds would alert the king. For now, the king had to work on the assumption that the humans were trapped inside.

King Kornelius indicated to his army that they would proceed and the fairies worked their magic to clear the tunnel of ice and debris.

“Be as quiet and alert as you can,” said the king to the fairies, “Leave the final layer of debris intact to allow us to observe the other side. We do not want to alert our enemies.”

Very soon the fairies led the king’s army through the tunnel until they reached a short distance from the end. They were careful not melt down the final barrier of ice and debris or to step into the clearing before making sure that they would not be seen. The king wanted to present the humans with an element of surprise.

The clearing was no more the serene place it had always been. A whirling pool of ice, snow and water droplets consumed the crystals in its way. It seemed that part of the avalanche was present, trapped and behaving in the most peculiar manner.

“What do you make of this?” the king whispered to his general.

“Your Majesty, this is unlike the typical behaviour of an avalanche… could it be…” the general’s words trailed off as they stood tight watching the scene before them from afar.

“If you’re thinking what I’m thinking then this looks like it might be Storm Blazer!” said the king.

The general nodded in agreement as he tried to think how they could tackle this force. Storm Blazer’s evilness was fed through destruction and the avalanche presented itself with the right source for him. Storm Blazer had become entangled in this initial form of an avalanche until the force of the hurricane and an ice storm combined into one. The result was a whirling pool of debris, ice, snow and water that consumed anything in its way. In doing that, it grew bigger and stronger. The king looked further to see if he could catch sight of the humans but they were no where to be seen.

“Your Majesty, the intruders must still be up on the mountain,” said the general.

The king touched his crystal sword as it hung around his waist, “Get confirmation from Cloud Bearer on this.”

“Right away, Your Majesty,” the general quickly bowed then retreated to the spot they had been at earlier and sent a messenger to get immediate word from the clouds. They were on alert and word was back in seconds.

“Your Majesty, we have word from Cloud Bearer that the intruders are huddled under a crystal tree on the red mountain. The Amber Crystal has been spotted with one of them,” said the general.

“We will need to create a distraction and split up,” said the king.

“Your Majesty, we have a status report on the condition of the red mountain. The tremors are frequent and the situation is unstable. The Amber Crystal has been kept secure in their possession but there is a risk that it might be lost if we do not move fast,” added the general.

“Obviously Storm Blazer wants to prevent us to get to the Amber Crystal and that is his plan, that the humans would lose control of the Amber Crystal and he would get hold of it,” said the king.

He touched his crystal sword again and then gave his instructions, “I do not want the princess exposed. He could easily get his hands on her powers which would instantly weaken Cloud Bearer,” said the king, pausing momentarily as he thought his plan of action out, “Divide your men, General, and inform the fairies that their focus should be a surprise attack on Storm Blazer. Cloud Bearer and his clouds should be on standby too. I need his best clouds helping the fairies and your men attack Storm Blazer. Everyone else, come with me.”

The army advanced according to the king’s instructions.

“I want Storm Blazer alive!” hastened the king to add, “And I want the humans alive too but most of all I want the Amber Crystal back!”

Moments later the army was in position. Two groups stood on standby and as soon as the first group would start their ambush on Storm Blazer, the king would proceed through the clearing and up the red mountain to the humans.

“Prepare to move as soon as I give my signal to attack!” said the king.

Everyone stood waiting for the king’s gesture that would signify the start of the battle. King Kornelius was waiting for the right moment when Storm Blazer was too self-consumed in strengthening his force. That was when the king gave his signal and the fairies broke down the final barrier in the tunnel. They attacked Storm Blazer with all their might, directing their magic at him while trying to weaken his defences. The clouds who were with them starting sending forth grey shadows to block his vision and every so often would strike him with thunder or send huge hailstones hurling towards him. The king’s men used their ice and crystal shields to halt his course so that he was trapped and could not move. All this happened at once and without warning so that Storm Blazer was taken by surprise and had no chance to properly retaliate. When he realised what was happening he fought with all his might. He whirled and twirled creating a fierce wind and current. He was like a huge hurricane in the making. The fairies concentrated their magic even more and the clouds hurled more hailstones at him but all that seemed to do was to strengthen him even more.

Meanwhile, the king and his group of soldiers took the opportunity to make their way towards the red mountain. Clouds hoisted the king and his men up the surface. Fairies flew at will up in the air. Hetty and Hetitia had taken position in Petuna’s hair and were using their magic to climb up as well. They all worked diligently and quickly. Before they knew it they had reached the top and found the humans being thrown from one side to the other from the force of the tremors.

Petuna saw Phineas huddling alongside two men, as if he was trying to protect them. Anton was a distance away from them holding on to the Amber Crystal while he tried to support himself. Petuna noticed the rest of the dead men’s bodies in the clearing below where they had been earlier and realised that they must have died, either from the force of the tremor or simply that they were consumed by the avalanche. The most likely explanation was, however, that they had been killed by Storm Blazer. The avalanche would just have taken them along in its way. She brought her attention back to the scene before her and felt a pang of fury rising within her at the sight of Phineas.

The king and his army of men, fairies and clouds advanced towards them. The humans were unaware of their adversaries because they were too busy trying to keep themselves alive. But a few moments later, the king stood before them with his crystal sword pointed at Anton. They surrounded the humans who suddenly felt disoriented and confused at the sight of the king and his men. Phineas tried to stand up but could not support himself and suddenly found the tip of a sword touching his chin.

“Don’t even think about going anywhere,” said Petuna, fixing the sword at Phineas.

Hetty and Hetitia were close by giving Phineas mean looks.

“I believe that belongs to me!” said the king to Anton as he indicated towards the Amber Crystal.

Anton clutched on to the Amber Crystal harder, not knowing who this majestic creature was. Phineas felt a panic rise within him.

“Anton, give the king the Amber Crystal, for goodness sake man!” cried Phineas as Petuna tightened her grip on the sword.

The other humans were overwhelmed and watched in disbelief at the myriad of strange creatures around them. They had been captured by the king’s men and the fairies had secured them so there was no chance of them escaping.

“The Amber Crystal!” the king’s voice rose and made the ground beneath them tremble.

Anton was a man of the military and should have known when it was time to surrender but the more he held on to the Amber Crystal the more he started to lose sense of everything he had known or believed in. All he wanted was to keep the Amber Crystal for himself. He felt like its power was slowly melting into him and he could not let go of that sensation.

“For goodness sake, man, give it up! You’ve lost!” cried Phineas again.

The king was not about to wait any longer. He knew the power within the Amber Crystal and its influence. The king motioned to his men who grabbed hold of Anton. As they did so, the king stabbed Anton with his crystal sword sharply and deeply while grabbing hold of the Amber Crystal. Blood started flowing as Anton tumbled onto the ground in pain. He was wounded badly and the other humans watched in horror as Anton took his last breaths. Their heads hung low as they awaited their fate.

The king drew his sword back and all traces of blood were instantly cleansed from the blade. He held on to the Amber Crystal tightly with both hands and took in a deep breath. The Amber Crystal was back in the hands of its rightful owner but it still needed to be placed back in its throne and only the king could do that, or so he thought.

“General, secure these humans and make sure they do not escape,” the king said as he started walking towards the throne when he caught sight of his daughter with her sword firmly fixated on one particular human.

“Petuna, you must come with me,” said the king.

Petuna put her sword away and slowly walked with the king towards the throne where the Amber Crystal had been. She looked at the Amber Crystal that her father was carrying in admiration and realised that something of importance lay ahead.

None of the other men followed except a few trusted fairies, including Hetty and Hetitia. Never would the king venture anywhere with a numbered few except if something of significance was about to happen. Even though the throne was in sight and they were only a few footsteps away, the king’s movements were slow and calculated. He held on to the Amber Crystal with both hands. Petuna followed his pace and it felt like a lifetime before they reached the edge of the Crystal Well.

The End

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