Dante gasped and looked around the moon still high in the sky, his light green eyes scanned the area, he was lying on soft, dark green grass. He sat up rubbing his head as he saw beautiful trees the flowers were as white as snow, and smelt strongly of cinnamon. The bark on the trees was a dark grey almost black. The mountains were just to the far east of where he was, he continued to look around to see Zira laying on the ground. He stumbled over to her and grabbed her hand tightly, her skin was ice cold.
“Come on sweetheart, wake up, I need you.” He said softly pressing his lips against hers softly; she gasped loudly and looked around frantically her eyes landing on him.
“Santiago?” She asked, he nodded smiling happily pulling her into a tight hug.
“Yes Vera it’s me” she took a sharp breath in and hugged him, her hands grasping his shoulders for dear life, his smell intoxicating as it filled her nose, she felt nothing but joy fill her body as she held on tightly, her hands quickly sliding up to the back of his head her fingers burying themselves in his luscious black hair.
“I thought I was never going to see you again, oh how I missed you.” She said her voice cracking as she pulled away from the embrace kissing his lips softly repeatedly. Santiago laughed and grabbed her left hand.
“I never left Xaviera, as long as you wear our rings and hold the Vitale last name, I am always with you.” He said kissing her softly, she smiled against the kiss and pulled away looking down at herself. She was in her familiar clothing, the black corset tied tightly around her waist, her breasts pushed up just below her collar bone. Her legs covered in dark leather pants, her mountain lion hide boots covered her feet. She stood up hearing her chain halter ching against her hip; she looked down to see her dagger shining brightly at her. She smiled and felt something heavier on her opposite hip, her long sword freshly sharpened. She felt something hitting her back. Oh that familiar feeling of her elven made bow and quiver hitting her felt good. She pulled it off and admired it.
“Ahh your weapon of choice, I had that made for you for our wedding day.” Santiago said standing up admiring it as well. The craftsmanship was remarkable. The bow was made from solid black chimera bone, curving gently from the top to the center then curving from the center to the bottom much like a less prominent number three. The detail on the curve of the bow was carved into dragons wings, the tips of the wings adorned with emerald gemstones. The handle was carved just to fit her fingers, the name Vitale was etched into its crevices. There was a loud gasp that came from behind her. Vera quickly pulled an arrow out and placed it on the bow ready to fire, her movement was so quick it appeared merely as a shadow. Santiago mimicked her movement and got in his attack stance with his sword.
“Queen Vitale?” She heard someone ask in disbelief.
“State your name and purpose of being out here.” Vera said authortively as Santiago lowered his sword.
“I -I’m sorry your majesty, my name is Kiara I’m from the Kivuli kingdom.” The small and fragile woman stated dropping to her knees and bowing on all fours. Vera lowered her weapon and walked toward the girl. The woman’s light bouncy blonde locks fell around her face making a shield around her skull as she looked at the grass beneath her hands and knees. Vera knelt down and gently brushed the wild blonde strands behind her small ears.
“No need to kneel Kiara, you are a person not a servant, and no fellow Kivuli of mine will bow to anyone. As long as you are a Kivuli, Kiara you are my family.” She said holding her hands out so the woman could stand up on her feet.
“That means so much to me your majesty; I no longer have any family.”
“Oh and who would leave such a beautiful woman by herself?” Santiago chimed in replacing his sword in its sheath. His question earned him a glare by Vera.
“The Kalviyre’s over ran my village, they didn’t kidnap anyone, they just pillaged and murdered everyone, my husband ran out of the house and distracted them long enough for me to escape. But he couldn’t fight the horde of them that came through. He was my and always will be the love of my life: my hero.” She said, tears forming in her blue eyes, Vera clenched her hand into a fist and looked up at the moon, anger was slowly starting to consume her as she thought of the pain that Kiara felt.
“This war has hurt to many and has gone on long enough, it is time to end this.” Santiago stated firmly as Vera looked at him.
“My husband is right: Kiara, was there anyone that survived in your village that is able to fight alongside me?” She asked her softly, Kiara nodded slowly and began walking away swinging her hand over her shoulder motioning them to follow her. They followed in silence as they crossed over many roots and shrubs that blanketed the land.
“Sweetheart, I think I should go back to the castle and rally the men-“
“No.” Vera said cutting his sentence short, he looked at her irritated but she continued to keep her eyes on her surroundings, scouting for anything that was out of the ordinary.
“We need to get as many people together as we can, and we can cover more ground if we spli-“
“I said NO Santiago.” She spat, Santiago growled under his breath and tightly grabbed her arm pulling her to a stop, she continued to look at Kiara’s retreating form.
“The old Vera would have jumped at the chance to cover more ground, what is wrong with you?”
“I lost you once already, I am not about to lose you again.”
“You can’t keep me sheltered like some lost puppy my love. I will be okay, I found you –“There was a loud scream followed by a variety of high and low squeals. Vera yanked her arm back from Santiago and sprinted down the hill to see Kiara covering her mouth and shaking violently. Smoke filled her nose mixed with the putrid odor of flesh burning.
“Kiara, I need you to go and hide now-“
“But your majesty-“
“As your sister I am asking you to hide, when it’s safe I will come and get you. NOW GO!” She screamed at her as Vera saw bright white creatures run through the burning refugee camp. She saw bright blue eyes shine at her as it suddenly disappeared. Vera took a deep breath in and shut her eyes whispering:
Sono dei draghi occhi
She opened her eyes seeing everything that was previously far away, closer as if it was in front of her. The power of dragon’s eyes was truly remarkable. She heard a young boy scream as the white creature ran after him. Vera drew her bow and pulled it back, her thumb gently resting against her cheek, she steady her breath and released hearing the wind break as the arrow pierced the sky. Bullseye she thought as she heard the creature squeal and stumble to the earth. She ran towards it as she heard.
She suddenly felt a brute force smack into her side as she gasped and hit the floor, Vera looked up to see Kiara’s blonde hair circling her like a shield, the corner of her pink lips were slightly open as crimson blood leaked out of the sides.
“No. . .” Vera whispered looking into the blue eyes that were slowly dilating.
“I had to protect you Xaviera, we are family-“She said gasping making the arrow turn within her flesh. Vera gently turned and carefully laid her on the grass, the young woman wincing in pain as she coughed violently, the blood spilling out more.
“Yes family until the end, sleep now Kiara, the Gods will take care of you now.” Vera whispered as she watched her take one deep inhale before her head rolled to the side, her sapphire eyes now a muted blue staring off at the landscape. Vera got up and shot her head to her right seeing the creature trying to crawl away. She smirked and walked over to it; she drew her bow back and pierced its wings into the earth. The creature screamed in pain writhing against it. Vera simply put her boot against its slender neck.
“WHO SENT YOU?” She screamed as the creature stopped moving and looked at her. Its face was not human, it was a mutated abomination. Its face resembled a hodgepodge of scraps of skin that was sewn together haphazardly, its white eyes were shining brightly against its dirt ridden skin, its fangs were snapping at Vera’s leg roughly only causing her foot to dig in deeper.
“I’m going to ask you again, who sent you?” She said her voice having a raspy growl underneath, as she smirked seeing it’s white as snow wings beginning to be painted with red.
“I am a Kalviyre; I do not answer to you.” It hissed, its voice taking on that of a serpent.
“ I am the one who chooses if you live or die, so you will ANSWER me!” She yelled swinging her sword cutting off its entire right wing, which was quickly followed by ear piercing howl.
“I was sent –sent by the king of light. He wanted to make sure this war ended with nothing but OUR kind. He is our God.”
“He may be your God, but he will never be the God of me or my people. Tell me are you the leader of this attack?” She asked removing her foot seeing it nod yes, she smirked grabbing the demonic angel by its scalp and dragging it into the center of the camp, its talons were digging into her arm tearing layers of her skin off.
“I HAVE YOUR LEADER!” She screamed holding it up in the air, the creature desperately prying at her arm trying to tear itself free. Soon all of the creatures stopped and looked at her.
“LET THIS BE A MESSAGE TO YOU, YOUR PEOPLE AND YOUR BELOVED KING! I WILL NOT LET YOUR PATHETIC RACE THREATEN MY PEOPLE, YOU ALL HAVE JUST SEALED YOUR FATE AND I AM COMING FOR HIM!” She yelled sliding her sword quickly against its neck, severing it with a sickening sound. She proudly held its head high above her.
“I will conquer your land, and I do not care who stands in my way!” She bellowed as the creatures quickly fled in cowardice. As the creatures flew away the refugees came out of hiding and rejoiced; which was followed by everyone quickly dropping to their knees and bowing.
“NO! Stand, please everyone stand up. I do not rule my kingdom with such formalities and hierarchy. We are all one, we come from the same land and same race, and we are family. And being part of your family means I will protect you to the best of my abilities.”
“As will I, we should not have to run in fear any longer, my wife and I will fight for what is ours.” Santiago added standing by Vera covered in the blood of those abominations.
“Kivuli’s! Speak to me not as your Queen but as your fellow friend and family member, what is it that you desire?” She asked walking toward the group of people that had gathered around her and the enemy’s body.
“Your majesty, Xaviera, all I wish is for the safety of what family I have left. I want to be able to have a family again one that can live without fear.” A middle aged woman stated from the back, her face stained with tears.
“I want to feel safe again, be able to go out into the other towns without fear of being attacked-“
“I want freedom!”
“YES FREEDOM AND PEACE!” The rest of the town’s people chimed in, Vera smiled and reached her hand out toward Santiago who quickly grabbed it, his fingers lacing in-between hers.
“Then that is what we will achieve, Kivulis, my people, today a battle was won but a war is still fast approaching. I want freedom, safety and peace for not only you but my entire kingdom; I will not stand here and make fake promises, giving you false hope. But I will say this, I will fight for you, I am through with cowering in fear, I am through with this wretched life that has been made for us, and most of all I am THROUGH WITH THOSE KALVIYRE’S! How dare they come to our home and disrupt our peace, how dare they feel comfortable and rejoice in OUR pain and misery. HOW DARE THEY NOT FEAR US!” She stated her voice becoming angrier as the people began nodding and yelling in agreement.
“We won the battle but I want to win the WAR, let us instill the fear of the Gods in there pathetic race, let us be the harbinger of death. Let us take back our freedom, let them know that we are the ones that should be feared!” She shouted as Santiago raised his hand bringing hers up as well.
“This is our home let us defend it, who will stand beside me and fight for our freedom!” Santiago yelled as all of them cheered: men and women alike. Santiago pulled her hand down and pressed his lips against Vera’s ear whispering:
“Where will we put the people Vera, there are too many of them to not be seen.”
“Santiago, these are our kin they come with us to the Kingdom, ALL of them.” She said releasing his hand and walking toward the people helping them pack and ration their belongings.