“That I have,” said a voice through the fog. A few moments later, an older woman stepped out of the thick fog. She was taller than Kiya, and her eyes were a beautiful blue. When Kiya saw the color of her hair, she gasped. Her mother’s hair was bright auburn.
“You…” Kiya stuttered. “You are the murderer! It was you who killed our father!”
“How did you find out about that?” she asked.
“Vasili, it was my fault,” Raúl said. “I was teaching her magic and my mind wandered.”
“What’s done is done,” Vasili said. “Kiya, your father wanted to take control of Avlon. He didn’t want anyone to disobey him.”
“He didn’t have to be killed!” Kiya spat, “especially not by his own wife!”
“You don’t understand! There was a group of rebels who wanted to overthrow him as king. Being magicians allowed them to trick others into rebelling. Soon the land was split. Your father took those who supported him and led them into war. Entire villages were burned down! He killed innocent people!”
“I do understand! I understand that you murdered him!” Kiya was furious. “He could have been stopped with magic instead of death!”
“Death was the only magic that could stop him!” Raúl said.
“Korth was a monster!” Kaliki growled.
“No he wasn’t!” Kiya yelled. “Isa ma vaba teid saatus”
“Kiya, No!” Vasili yelled.
“Mis seob teid!”
Suddenly the fog thickened, and the sky darkened, despite the still- rising sun. Lightning streaked the sky, but no rain fell.
“He hasn’t left Caledonia yet,” Vasili said frantically. “Kiya, take back the spell! Hurry!”
“No! It wasn’t fair, what you did to him!”
“If you will not take back the spell, then we will prepare for battle!” Vasili’s words were quick and filled with fear. “Ruick, Sasha, Shauna, can any of you use magic?”
“I can.” It was Sasha who spoke.
“Use it to dress yourself, you sister, and your betrothed in armor.”
Sasha turned to face Ruick, and muttered a spell under her breath. In a matter of moments Rick’s clothing vanished in a swathe of armor. His dark hair was invisible under the steel helm that now capped his head. Now tethered to his belt was a sword, and on his left arm rested a shield.
When Sasha muttered the spell towards Shauna, her dress shortened to her knees. A steel mail hauberk laid gently over her now short- sleeved dress. In her hands she held an ivory bow, and on her back hung a quiver of arrows.
At last Sasha’s dress faded to knee length and her sleeves shortened. Chain mail covered her dress and a belt appeared around her waist. Tethered to the belt was a sword, and on her arm was a shield. Hung over her back was an ivory bow and a quiver of arrows.
Kiya turned to face Meko and Kaliki. They were dressed the same as Ruick. Raúl’s dress faded and was replaced by a pair of pants and a shirt, all covered in chain mail. Her hair pulled back and a sword became tethered to her leather belt. Underneath her chain mail and around her legs leather appeared in the place of armor. Vasili’s dress faded only slightly. The hem now reached her ankles and the sleeves were only slightly above her elbows.
At last Kiya watched her own dress fade to knee length, and the sleeves shortened as well. Chain mail laid gently over the dress, and a sword became tethered to a leather belt. She looked up from her new clothing and turned to face her mother. “He is my father! I refuse to fight!”
“Then you will be killed!” Vasili said. “Men, to arms!”
Soldiers began flooding onto the castle grounds. Magicians popped into sight beside Vasili. Another flash of lightning ripped through the sky, and accompanying it was a roar of thunder that made everyone flinch. The fog slowly thickened and from the midst came a haughty laugh. It was loud and smooth, and it echoed strangely.
“You thought you killed me, didn’t you, my wife?” came a thick, rich voice.
“I did kill you, but your daughter brought you back,” Vasili called into the fog.
“While I was dead, I made some friends. I really think you should meet them.”
“Korth, if you do this you will be killed again, and the rings will be destroyed.”
“Destroy them for all I care,” Korth said. “My army of living and the living dead will ensure that I survive.”
At last he stepped out of the fog. His sapphire-pummeled sword hung from his belt, and a shield with his crest rested on his left arm.
“Come, my friends,” He called, “rise from Caledonia and the dark depths beyond! Fight with me and be free of that horrid place!”
Lightning streaked the sky and the ground shook violently. Magicians popped into being beside Korth. Soldiers that had been long dead climbed out of the ground dressed in full armor. Within a few moments the ground before them was filled with Korth’s soldiers and magicians.
“What have I done?” Kiya gasped.
“You’ve unleashed an evil that is more powerful now than ever before!” Raúl spat.
“I rescind the spell!” Kiya shouted.
“Silly, silly daughter!” Korth said. “Rescinding the magic won’t work. I’m free of Caledonia’s gates,”
“Attack!” Vasili called to her soldiers.
The soldiers poured around them and began mixing with the other soldiers and magicians. Screams and yowls came from the battlefield.
“Stay together and watch each others’ back!” Sasha called.
Suddenly a patch of smoke surrounded them. When the smoke cleared, Menari was standing in front of them.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Angela’s angels!” he spat. “How do you think your mother would feel if she knew you took to killing?”
“Angela is not our mother! Our mother’s name is Lori,” Sasha said.
“So they told you your mother was Lori?”
“Don’t you speak our mother’s name!” Shauna exclaimed, “Your filthy mouth doesn’t deserve to speak the name of a respectable woman!”
“Lori isn’t your mother. Angela is, and a harlot is hardly a respectable woman!” Menari sneered.
“You filthy liar!” Shauna spat.
“I’d watch my tongue if I were you!” Menari exclaimed.
“I don’t have to watch anything, except an arrow run through you!”
“I would make you regret that, but I’m not going to let you live long enough to give you the chance,” he said.
Ruick stepped in front of Shauna and put his shield up. Menari raised his hand, and from somewhere behind him a lance came whizzing through the air. It struck the shield with such force that it didn’t stop, but pierced and killed them both.
“No!” Sasha gasped.
Before Sasha could move her sword, Menari disappeared, but his laugh still echoed.
“First my parents and my brother, and now my sister and my betrothed!” Sasha said., with bitterness filling her voice. “Tonight Menari will die at my hand, even if it is the last thing that I do!”
Before anyone could stop her, Sasha darted into the battle. Kiya knew that if she had never talked to Menari then she would have never been able to bring her father back. It was her fault that her friends were dead. Quickly she unsheathed her sword. A soldier rushed towards Raúl, but before he could reach her, Kiya killed him. At first she looked down at the bloody, crumpled corpse in horror, but when she looked up, Raúl could see determination burning in her eyes. As quickly as she unsheathed her sword, Kiya disappeared amongst the mass of bloody, writhing bodies and thrashing swords.
Raúl rushed after Kiya, fearing her sister would be killed. She found Kiya fighting side-by-side with Sasha. Within moments Kiya dispatched her opponent and Sasha’s. Spotting Raúl, Kiya nodded. Determination still raged in her eyes, and the three of them dashed off together. Moments later they spotted Menari.
“You distract him while I make my way behind him,” Sasha said, “but just don’t anger him.”
“Alright,” Kiya said. Cautiously she approached Menari. “Menari, you were wrong to trick me into bringing my father back.”
“I didn’t trick you. I just told you how to do it.”
Kiya watched as Sasha made her way through the battling soldiers.
“Don’t you see just how much he’s hurting the people of Avlon?” Kiya asked. Sasha was almost directly behind him.
“To obtain power there are sacrifices that must be made!” he exclaimed.
Kiya looked past Menari to where Sasha was standing. Her blue eyes were cold, yet they were filled with a raging wildfire of determination. She raised her hand as Menari had done. A lance lifted from the ground beside its owner’s mangled body, and soared through the air. It hit Menari in his lower back, and instantly he fell to the ground. Sasha walked over and stood above him.
Looking down at him, she said, “You killed my family, but after tonight you won’t kill another child’s family!”
As Menari took his last breath and closed his eyes, Sasha walked away.
“Should we follow her?” Kiya asked.
“No. She needs to be alone right now. Let’s go.”
Together they walked off into the flood of soldiers. Side-by-side they fought until their father became visible amongst the soldiers.
“There’s only one way to stop him,” Raúl said.
“I’ll do it,” Kiya said.
“You don’t have to, you know.” Raúl wasn’t sure how killing their father would affect her sister.
“Yes, I do,” Kiya said. Yet again determination burned in her eyes.
Quickly they moved through the soldiers. Raúl and Kiya stood side- by- side with their swords drawn. A soldier was battling directly behind them. Korth strung an ivory bow with a gold- tipped arrow. He aimed towards the soldier and released. The arrow headed in the direction intended, but missed its target. Instead of hitting the soldier, the arrow hit Raúl.
“No!” Kiya screamed.
Raúl stumbled and fell. Blood soaked the ground around her waist, where the arrow was embedded in her flesh.
Korth looked upon the scene first with satisfaction, but upon realizing he had hit his daughter, he let the bow fall from his hands.
“No!” he whispered, his voice shaking. “No!” He rushed to where Raúl laid on the ground. Her breath came in short, ragged, gasps and her hands were shaking as she grasped the arrow shaft.
“See what your madness has caused?” she rasped.
“I am sorry,” he said, “Can you ever forgive me?”
“Anyone can hold a grudge, it’s what we do best. It takes a true human to forgive.”
Korth stood up and looked around the battlefield. “Everyone stop!” he roared. Men and magicians alike stopped at the sound of Korth’s voice. “This war is of great cost to all of you and of no gain to me,” he thundered on. “And because of this madness I might lose my daughter.”
“No!” Vasili screamed from within the mass of mottled soldiers.
“If there is a magician among you who can heal her, please show yourself.” Korth scanned the crowd with dismay, for not a single movement was made. He was about to give up hope, when a young woman separated herself from the crowd. Her hair was mottled, and her face was streaked with dirt and blood. Her blue eyes were stained with grief. When Kiya looked up, her eyes rested on Sasha.
“I can heal her, but it will be for her, not you, that I do it,” Sasha said, her voice filled with bitterness. She knelt down and looked carefully at the arrow protruding from Raúl and the bloody area surrounding it. “The arrow sunk deep,” Sasha said. “Even after it is removed, she’ll still feel pain. There will surely be a scar, as well.”
“But you can save her?” Korth asked.
“I said I could, didn’t I?” Sasha snapped. She pulled a small knife from where it had been hidden under her belt. She unsheathed it and carefully began cutting the leather and cloth from around Raúl’s waist. Looking intently at the wound, Sasha began mumbling a spell. Raúl screamed as the arrow dislodged itself from her body. The opening around where the arrow had been closed quickly, though the skin was still red and swollen. Slowly Raúl sat up, wincing as pain shot through her side.
“Thank you, Sasha,” Raúl said, her voice no longer being barely a whisper.
“It was the least I could do after all you did to help me and my….” she paused, closing her eyes briefly. “My family.”
“I’m sorry about Ruick and Shauna,” Raúl said. “They shouldn’t have died here.”
“Doesn’t matter now.” Sasha stood up silently and began walking away.
“Come, my daughters,” Korth said. “Let us leave this pain stained field. Come with us, Sasha. You will be the castle’s guest.”
Sasha waked back and stood beside Kiya. Together they helped Raúl to her feet.
“All of you that I have brought from Caledonia, go home to your families,” Korth said to the mass of soldiers. “All of you who stay here, go wash, eat and get some sleep. All of the wounded, go to the healers.”
Men began to go in their separate directions. Those who could walk helped those who could not as every man and woman struggled to escape the field of dead bodies.