Faded Memories #2: Rise of the Battle Faerie - Part Eight
The day of the challenge dawned bright and early. Already, palace servants were setting up one of the dueling courts. Valeane was strictly banned from the courts until an hour before the challenge. Lydriel and Anna were charged with making sure that steered clear from any dueling circle.
“I don’t know why they won’t let me at least warm up!” grumbled Valeane to her not so sympathetic friends.
“That you will do during the hour before Sirine arrives,” stated Lydriel. “Under supervision, of course.”
“What. Why?” demanded Valeane. “I’m not a child in need of constant care.”
“You certainly are whining like a child,” responded Lydriel. Valeane glared at the air faerie.
“It’s for several reasons,” said Anna in an attempt to be helpful. “One, to make sure you don’t exhaust yourself ‘warming up’ due to nerves and secondly to make sure Sirine doesn’t try to turn the odds into her favor by getting at you.”
“I am not nervous,” mumbled Valeane. This wasn’t true, however. The Battle Faerie was jumpy and each minute seemed like an hour to her. Lydriel and Anna exchanged amused glances.
Ignoring her one time mentors’ exchange, Valeane laid a palm on one of the blades belted to her waist. She didn’t need to look at the sword to identify it. The sensation of burning heat on her skin told her it was the Sword of Fire. She felt her muscles relax. While the Swords still unnerved her slightly, it was oddly calming to feel the tingle of their magic on her skin, giving her a small amount of reassurance.
After what seemed like an eternity, Lydriel and Anna took Valeane to an open court and began to help her stretch out. It wasn’t long before her muscles were loose and she had completed a couple of passes. Her hour was up. Taking a drink of water before leaving the court, Valeane proceeded to make her way toward the court set off for her match against Dyra.
Fyora and the council were already there. It mildly surprised Valeane to see that there were spectators lined up around the courtyard. Then again, it would have been foolish to keep a duel that would decide who ruled Faerieland a secret.
The queen saw her first and beckoned her toward the group. After excusing herself from Lydriel and Anna, Valeane made her way over. Everyone smiled at her.
“How are you feeling?” asked Rani. Valeane shrugged.
“You’ll be fine,” said Sheila. All other reassurances voiced by the council were cut off by Mithana’s voice.
“Heads up,” she warned. “Looks like somebody is going to make an entrance.”
Everyone looked in the direction that the dark faerie had motioned. Sure enough, an oily cloudlike substance was accumulating in the air at the center of the dueling circle. Eerie lights played over the surface of the could as it continued to expand. Spectators gasped and began to move away. Valeane reached for her blades while magic glowed in the queen’s and council’s hands. This could be some kind of attack.
“Oh please!” cried Mithana. Before anyone could stop her, the young Uber faerie stepped forward. She hissed an incantation and made a shooing motion with her hand, as if she were waving away an annoying pest. Instantly, the cloud began to dissipate, revealing a group of very surprised looking dark faeries standing in the center of the court.
“You know, Sirine...” Mithana’s voice was colder than Valeane had ever heard it before. “If we were interested in watching a light show, we would have gone to see the illusion demonstrations being shown at the Faerie Academy today.”
The faerie at the head of the group, presumably Sirine, snarled at Mithana. It was easy to see the family resemblance between the two. Both faeries had raven black hair with thin, violet streaks running through it, though Sirine kept hers cut in the typical dark faerie fashion and Mithana’s reached almost to her lower back. They were both of medium height and had violet eyes set under perfectly arched brows. They could have been sisters if not for the distinct dislike they each had for the other.
“If I had wanted your opinion and interference,” hissed Sirine, “I would have asked for it, Brat.”
The surrounding faeries stiffened at the insult to one of their Uber faeries. Mithana’s eyes narrowed.
“I certainly see that Your Royal Haughtiness hasn’t improved her manners.”
“Mithana.” The queen’s voice was low and held a warning tone. Sirine gave a small, evil smirk as she looked at her cousin.
“Those are big words coming from the family castaway.” Obviously, Mithana’s current standing with her family was a sore spot for the young faerie. She moved towards Sirine.
“Mithana, enough,” hissed Sira, grabbing her fellow councilor. Lilia and Rani moved forward to help restrain the dark faerie. Prilla moved in between Mithana and her now widely smirking cousin.
“Stop it,” she said firmly. “She wants you mad. She wants you to attack her. If you do that, you automatically forfeit the match for your ruler.”
“She’s right,” said Valeane. “She could accuse Fyora of cheating by having you attack her before the duel was won.”
Mithana was not stupid and she listened to reason. She relaxed and nodded, murmuring an apology. Fyora smiled at her in return.
“Enough of this,” commanded the queen. “Did you bring a champion?”
Sirine sneered at her and beckoned one of her followers forward. Valeane looked the faerie over, knowing at once that this was the rebel leader’s champion. She was tall, even for a faerie. Her medium length purple hair was pulled back into a braid. She carried a variety of weapon on her belt, including a sword and dagger. She had no shield. The faerie’s expression was blank, revealing no emotion, but Valeane could see the wickedness and malice hidden behind purple, merciless eyes. She would be hard to beat.
“Very well,” said Fyora. “Champions, step forward.”
The group of rebel dark faeries moved away from the dueling circle, allowing Dyra to step forward and meet Valeane at the circle’s center.
“The stakes of this challenge are simple. The ruler of the winning champion will assume the throne as queen while the other forfeits any claim to power.” Fyora’s voice carried easily over the courtyard. “Champions, cross swords.”
Valeane drew the Sword of Ice and touched her blade to Dyra’s.
Valeane slid quickly out of the way of Dyra’s thrust. Her sword flashed forward, only to be blocked. The faeries circled one another, wary. The dark faerie lunged and pulled back in a feint. Valeane danced around her opponent, trying to wear her out. Lunge, block, retreat, slash, parry over and over again. Neither could get an advantage.
Valeane sidestepped, faking a strike to the right. Suddenly, Dyra’s free hand reached down and flicked sideways. Sheer instinct told Valeane to drop to the ground and roll left. The lack of any pain and the clatter of metal on the cobblestones behind her told Valeane that the dagger thrown at her had missed. She cursed under her breath. She should have known that the dark faerie would be able to use multiple weapons. That had been way too close for comfort.
Dyra took advantage of Valeane’s bad position. She bore down on her shorter opponent, using not only her sword but also various hand to hand combat maneuvers. Valeane gasped for breath as she tried to ward off the dark faerie.
Suddenly, the Sword of Ice seemed to come to life in her hand. Energy coursed through her body bringing a sudden clearness to her mind. With a small smile, she drew the second blade. Moving faster than she ever had before, she bore into Dyra. The dark faerie back pedaled frantically as she tried to keep out of reach of Valeane’s Swords. The Battle Faerie kicked out with a foot, tripping her opponent. As Dyra fell to the ground, Valeane disarmed her. Placing the points of her swords at the base of Dyra’s throat, Valeane smiled.
“Yield,” she said. Dyra snarled.
“No,” she hissed. She then let out a stream of incomprehensible words.
Without warning, Valeane found herself flying through the air, to land roughly on her side. The Swords clattered from her hands. She tried to rise, only to find herself unable to. She could hardly breathe, much less walk. Faintly, she could hear the outraged cries of spectators.
“That was a curse!” someone yelled. “She used magic!”
Sirine glared at her accusers and pointed toward Fyora and the council.
“Get them!” she commanded. Her minions leapt to obey.
Fyora and the council sprang into action immediately. The queen shot a spell at Sirine, while Prilla, Lilia and Sira met the attacking dark faeries. Sheila and Rani created shields around the innocent bystanders, intent on ensuring the safety of the people not involved. Mithana dodged around the ongoing battles to make her way toward Valeane.
“Calm down,” she hissed at Valeane, who was still trying to fight the curse Dyra had hit her with. “It’s a simple spell; she didn’t have time to cast a more powerful one. If you’ll just hold still, I can remove it.”
Mithana’s shadowy magic poured over Valeane. She shivered. The dark faerie’s magic felt cold to her. Not evil, but more like she had gotten the sudden chills on a warm day.
“There, it’s off,” said Mithana. “Now come on and--Look out!”
Whirling disks of shadow magic shot from Mithana’s hands. Whirling around, Valeane saw them slam into Dyra, who had been mere feet from them. She instantly grabbed her swords and moved to challenge Dyra. Mithana, after seeing that Valeane was now in control, moved off to help with the dark faeries still persistently attacking the other council members.
The remainder of the battle was complete chaos. Valeane didn’t know what was going on outside of her own personal fight with Dyra and she was often trying to avoid the spells flying through the air from seemingly random directions. Then, suddenly, she saw the opening she had been looking for. Lunging forward, she moved inside of Dyra’s sword and brought the hilt of the Sword of Ice toward Dyra, knocking the dark faerie unconscious.
Sheathing her swords, Valeane looked around in time to see several of the rebellious dark faeries fleeing by teleporting spells. The remaining minions were surrounded by council members who magically binding them faster than they could flee. Fyora had managed to trap Sirine within a web of lavender ropes, successfully binding her to the spot. After pausing to overlook her handiwork, the queen motioned to several palace guards.
“Place them all in cells,” she ordered. “I want guards on them as well.” Bowing, the guards, moved to obey.
Valeane walked over to her sister, who enveloped her in a hug.
“Don’t ever do that again,” demanded the queen. “You scared the living daylights out of me when you didn’t get up after Dyra cursed you.”
“Don’t worry about it. After a little help from Mithana, I was as good as new.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” agreed Mithana. The council had joined them.
“So what do we do with them?” questioned Valeane, jerking her head toward the captured rebels.
“Take them to court and let those faeries deal with them,” responded Prilla.
“Can we do it tomorrow?” begged Sira. “I'm completely worn out after that little scuffle and all in all, I think we’ve all done a good day’s work.”
“Sira, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal,” teased Mithana, slinging her arm over the fire faerie’s shoulder, “I couldn’t agree more.”
The others laughed, but they had to agree. They all deserved a rest. And, as to what would happen to Sirine and her cronies, well, that was a story that had yet to unfold.