The maniacal laughter of the old conjurer began to echo around the halls again, he circled the family, pointing his twisted blackwood staff at them, ensuring against any attempts at heroism from the Royals.
I rolled my shoulders in anticipation. 'Time to prove that knighthood Keth.' I thought to myself. Synchronised, the eight shadow-knights drew their weapons. "More black?" I complained quietly to myself, in the dancing light of the flames- that could cause some trouble.
My senses in overdrive, I watched every one of my opponents, felt every shuddering breath be pushed from my lungs, heard the slightest scratch of a boot on stone- A boot on stone! On the left!
I jumped backwards, just in time to dodge the jumping-charge of the first knight. Continuing with his flourish, the blade swung back down at me again, this time, I caught it fully on my shield. The blade buried itself deep into the wood, and I twisted myself around the shield and took a stab at the black helmet of the knight, only to have it blocked in return by his shield.
Just in time, I withdrew my exposed body back behind the safety of my own shield as the knight freed his blade. I wasted no time, knowing I had to keep momentum on my side. With every muscle in my body, I short-charged the knight, slamming my larger shield into him- knocking him off balance.
I took the chance, and followed the tumbling black figure of the Shadow-Knight, kicking his heels out from underneath him, and burying my blade through his chest the moment he hit the ground. As my blade passed into his would-be-heart, his body exploded back into smoke, which just drifted up away into the heights of the throne room.
I jumped back immediately after my small triumph, expecting the other seven to already be on my tail, instead they stood impassively, as they had to whole time I'd been dueling their co-creation. The whole feel of them put me off, the way they stood on watching was so much like that of students, watching and learning.
It made sense.
They were watching me, learning how I fought before- my thoughts would have to wait for later, as suddenly the remaining seven knights charged at me. I braced, and met the lead hard, full on, knocking him to the side, into one of his companions sending the two of them sprawling.
I parried a blade swinging towards my head, and jumped back, just in time for a second blade to just clip my chin, and carve a line down the leather of my chest-plate armor. I retaliated, my swinging my shield upwards, using it as an attack, slamming it into the side of one knight's helmet, and as my shield dropped with the dying momentum of the blow, I followed it up with my sword.
With the first stab, I caught one in the armor gap between the neck and chest, causing him to explode in smoke. The second was deflected off the chest-armor of another. And the third just missed entirely.
Overexposed from my attack, I felt a dull thud in my shoulder, as one of them hacked at me with his blade, fortunately being caught in the armor. I twisted back and took a wild slash at the things head, turning it to smoke.
Thud, Thud, I felt two more blades bury themselves in my shield, the weight of it felt like it'd pop my shoulder out. Thinking quick, I brought my sword around and cut the straps binding it to my arm. The shield fell to the ground, taking the two swords clattering with it.
I adjusted my grip on the my sword, wielding it two handed. Dodging a punch from an armored fist, I stepped forward, and swung my sword down with all force into the exposed side of the knight. Smoke.
Stars popped up into my vision, and I could taste blood as a second un-dodged armored fist collided with the side of my head. I saw it standing above me, and rolled to the side just in time as its fist came thundering down, cracking the stone where my head had been only instants before. Thankfully, I hadn't lost my grip on the sword, and I still had enough sense to drive it up, through the face visor of the black figure towering over me.
As the last of its smoke vanished into the rafters, I pulled myself back to my feet. The blood in mouth was pooling, so I spat it back out onto the floor. Readjusting my grip on the sword, I strolled over to the two I'd knocked over at the start of the conflict, they were both still trying vainly to pull themselves to their feet.
Stab, Twist, Out. Stab, Twist, Out. As they joined the rest of the smoke in the roof, I turned my head back towards the old man.
"Interesting" he whispered. Before swiping his staff downwards and throwing the king to the floor. I began to run back up the hall to them. He pushed the mother aside, and extended his hand to Eve. But before she could even respond to his offered hand, he clenched his fist and pulled it back towards him, his magic pulling Eve with the fist.
I was up the steps, closing the final distance when, with a small black dagger, the old man grabbed a tuft of Eves blonde hair and cut it with a singular swipe. He was within arms reach when he clicked his fingers and vanished, taking all the smoke with him.
Almost instantly every door was thrown open, and an army of servants poured in, their noise drowning out every other thought that might have been hiding in my head. Eve was scooped up, along with the King and Queen and ushered off into a separate anti-chamber.
I sighed, knowing that the King would acknowledge my bravery later, hopefully in public. I picked up the battered shield, and slung it over the torn armor on my shoulders, and quietly made my way back to my own chambers.