Fireheart: Part Eight
Episode Eight- Endings
“Aroma!” Gwen said in surprise, her dagger out and glaring at her with hatred. Alex had his sword out, and Pippa was in a fighting stance like she expected to use hand-to-hand combat against the woman.
“Four against one, that’s hardly fair. Let’s even up the odds,” she said, grinning wickedly, then four sleeping guards zoomed into the room and through the energy wall, which really surprised me. Maybe it only worked on people who were awake.
The guards’ eyes snapped open, but they were bright green. “That’s better. Now, attack!” Aroma commanded her sleeping warriors.
“Enna, we’ll handle them, you take care of her!” Alex said. I glanced over my shoulder, ready to protest. “Just go!” he ordered, seeing my hesitation.
I sighed and dodged out of the way of the oncoming guards, running towards Aroma, shielding myself with a red energy shield from her green missiles. When I was in good range of her, I formed an energy knife and threw it. She flung up a shield of her own that the knife sank into and exploded.
I gritted my teeth in frustration, ‘This won’t be as easy as I thought it would be,’ I said to myself. I let down my shield, and formed two red swords, one for each hand; they felt natural there, like reuniting with lost limbs.
Green energy daggers flew at me; I knocked them off their course with my swords, and sprinted toward her. She dropped her own shield and formed a longsword that required both of her hands to hold.
Our swords clashed together with a loud, metallic clang. “Why are you doing this?” I said between clenched teeth. Her strength was amazing for someone who sat around all day, eating every hour.
“Why am I doing this? Anna, dear, you’re the one who attacked me,” Aroma said in false sweetness, her high bell-like voice mocking me.
“Don’t be stupid, you know what I mean,” I said, glaring at her. My arms screamed at me to break the sword lock, but I ignored them. This might be my only chance to get answers.
“Oh, you mean trying to kill King Skarl and Sir Jeran? Surely you’ve figured that out already? Revenge, my dear,” she said, breaking from the lock and jabbing at me with her oversized sword. I danced away from her. She brought her huge sword around and swung it down towards my exposed head. I brought my own swords up and caught her blow between my crossed blades.
We stood nose-to-nose, “What do you have against them? What did they do to you?” I hissed at her, swinging my swords up and around, pushing her, and more importantly her sword, away from me.
“Not what they did to me, but my family. When King Skarl was here being enchanted by that Court Dancer, my father was killed by the Darigans.” She spat out the words, ‘Court Dancer.’ I didn’t know what she was talking about, but it didn’t sound like King Skarl was at fault. I would have to ask to Gwen or Pippa what she was talking about... that is, if I lived through this.
“That doesn’t mean it’s exactly King Skarl’s fault!” I said, parrying her swipes at me. She glared at me as if she wished she could blow me up with a Wizard’s Fire.
“Then when my brother came to take our revenge as Court Magician, Sir Jeran and his knights killed him before he could finish the job,” she said with bitterness in her voice, her forehead beginning to brim with sweat as we locked swords again.
“He tried to kill the King! That’s treason!” I snapped, pushing away from her sword, and following it with a rapid series of swipes, thrusts, and jabs.
She just ignored my comment and dodged my attacks. “I knew I had to take revenge on the King, his knights, and all the kingdom of Meridell. I rose in his favor, with my mother’s help. She’s an enchantress, you know. She can control people’s feelings.”
“So then you schemed and came up with all those plots. But half the time, you were in danger, too,” I said, frowning at her, as I danced away from her and began to circle, looking for an opening to attack.
“Yes, genius, wasn’t it?” Aroma said, looking very pleased with herself. “No one ever suspected me, did they? The fake name was my idea, Cordelia Cromwell. Quite nice, I think.”
“But you could have been killed by the chandelier or the Ladies’ Bane!” I said, looking at her in disbelief.
“I can’t be killed by something as petty as a chandelier and don’t you know I bought that Bumble Weed?” she said, laughing at me, sending some of her hair to stick up in odd angles, but she still circled. “Of course you did.”
I glared at her, but she continued. “But what about you, Anna? When I picked you, I thought you were just a meek little country girl.” I felt my anger in me swell at the mention of ‘country girl.’ I really hated the term. It was like a sick disorder to be born in the country, the way these townspeople said it.
“Guess you were wrong,” I managed to say while Aroma bounded across to me and swiped with her sword, which I barely blocked. My energy was draining fast from all the magic I was using; I had to finish this soon.
“Yes, I guess I was. You puzzled my plots together; you even broke mother’s enchantments. But no more of that,” she said as she drew back, her sword separated into four parts, each one flew at me.
They clicked around my wrists and ankles like hand cuffs and ankle cuffs, locking my arms and legs together, pinning me to the floor. She smirked down at me. “Enough of you and your friends’ meddling. I’ll dispose of them first and then you.” She strode across the room towards my friends, who had defeated the guards. She formed a long sword, raising it ready to strike.
Pippa and Alex were bent over Gwen, who, it looked like, had an ankle injury. Po and Kedmiel were across the room checking that the guards were still alive. They shouted and ran towards the others.
I screamed. Alex and Pippa looked up, but it was too late. Aroma’s sword was already descending. “Now, sorceress, watch your friends die!” she shouted. Finally the anger willing up in me burst, and I felt like I was on fire.
A fire barrier appeared above my friends, shattering Aroma’s blade. She whipped around at me with a glare which quickly turned into horror. “A Fireheart,” she gasped as my green chains fell away. I ran towards her, my anger driving me forward. I formed two Wizard’s Fire bursts, sending them ahead of me, surprised to find it wasn’t my normal red energy but actual fire.
She barely deflected the fire. I formed my two swords again, raising them and bringing them down vigorously. Aroma met my swords with a single sword this time and a shield. I moved my swords so fast they turned to just flashes of light. “No one hurts my friends!” I screamed as I jabbed and stabbed.
My swords found their mark when Aroma let out a burst of green energy, sending us in different directions, across the hall. Her hair stood on end around her head, green energy flowing through it. “I never thought you were so powerful,” she whispered, the sound carrying across the hall. She stood there panting. She was tired, I could sense it.
I formed another Wizard’s Fire, and it burst from my paws. Surging across the hall, it looked like a giant fire bird diving towards Aroma, I would later remember. The flames engulfed the ex-Kougra lady. She just stood there, her form black against the red and orange fire. Her figure vanished as the flame grew wider and taller, and then the fire melted away.
There was no one standing there, not even ashes. She wasn’t dead, but her fire for revenge was quenched. I knew I had seen the last of Aroma. I stood and stared at the scorched marble floor. A sudden weariness over came me, and I fell to my knees. The last thing I saw were my friends running towards me and the last thing I heard was a tremendous roar of cheering. But exhaustion finally took over, and falling the rest of the way to floor, I greeted sleep happily.
The feast hall roared with cheers and applause as we all entered. It was two days after my battle with Aroma, and much had happened since then. After I woke from a very nice nap, my friends and I had to explain to the King what exactly had happened, which meant we had to tell about finding and puzzling together the clues about Lady Aroma, or Cordelia Cromwell or The Mistress, which meant I had to tell about my past.
The King, thankfully, believed our story. He offered me a job as the permanent Court Magician, and I accepted, seeing as how I didn’t have my job as a lady’s maid anymore. Lady Prudencia was nowhere to be found by the time the knights went to get her. Of course, she had already left.
Pippa, Gwen. Alex, Po, and Kedmiel told me I had fainted after the battle, which I had already figured, with half the court watching. The commotion had wakened them, and they had watched most of what had happened, which I thought was rather dangerous.
The guards Aroma used were fine, maybe a little bruised and most had bad headaches, but other than that, were perfectly healthy. The energy wall had disassembled itself after I fainted, making the only mark of the battle left in the Great Hall the scorch marks. Despite our earlier secrecy, the King made all of us Heroes of Meridell, with our having our portraits painted and a feast held in our honor.
Townspeople had even started saying ‘country-folk’ with respect; I guess they figured out Pippa, Gwen, and I were from the country. It was nice not having them look down their noses at us anymore, probably because we were heroes.
The cheers died as we all took our seats and the King stood to make a speech. “People of Meridell.” He paused, glancing around the room. Many people were there. Elina had come along with Felix and Annie; Edwin sat next to Jen, who was his master’s wife. Derek the guard was standing by the door; he had apologized early today, which was a real surprise.
King Skarl continued, “We gather here today to celebrate our heroes, Pippa, Gwen, Alexandre, Po, Kedmiel, and Enna, who saved Meridell from the evil clutches of the vengeful Lady Aroma.”
Many cheers rang through the hall. “They saved our kingdom from a terrible future by using their wits and acting on what they knew. So now, on that note, let the feast begin.” It wasn’t a very long speech, but it did give me something to think about as the servants came in, carrying plates loaded with food.
The future. ‘It will, hopefully, have more celebrations,’ I thought, glancing over at Alex and Gwen on my right, ‘adventure,’ looking over at Po and Kedmiel who shared a chair with cushions to make them taller, two seats down, ‘and fun,’ I added, looking at Pippa, on my left, who was laughing at the two petpets. If the future was bright for most, then mine promised to hold riches, and of that I was sure.
Alex raised his goblet for a toast. “To the Fireheart, Enna, the real hero!” Everyone in the hall drank and cheered, I stared at him in shock.
“What?’ I asked, wondering if I heard him right.
Pippa laughed next to me. “That’s what you are! We did some reading. A Fireheart is someone who can control fire magic without spells. Aroma must’ve triggered the magic in you.” I looked over at her again; she smiled at me and nodded her head.
“Yeah, and it fits you, Fireheart,” Gwen said, nudging me jovially. Then the rest of them laughed, but it wasn’t from a joke; it was because they were right and I looked so shocked. I looked across the room and caught Sir Jeran’s eye, he raised his goblet to me in a silent toast. I looked down, feeling my cheeks redden.
When I was little, people called me by the nickname ‘Fireheart,’ and at the time, it was just that, a silly nickname. But now my friends use it as a title of honor, knowing all I did to earn that name. And that, in fact, was what I was. I agreed, it did fit me. Fireheart, Enna Fireheart.