by Dan Hiestand
Lucas Reese came out onto the Fairlawn plain at the head of a short convoy of wagons transporting the citadel guard (whatever their name is). Just as the flames were really taking hold and catching in the Fairlawn Woods. He saw the smoke rising from as far back as the roads leading into Fairlawn City on the other side, and as he passed through the city he had many of the civilians asking him if he knew anything, or heard anything about what was happening out there. Having faith in authority, even though on some level they must have known he was coming from Telminster and could have known as much as them as to what the combat had been like already taking place.
Though most of the woods were, at this point, an inferno, he saw some sitting and some standing, the whistlers, he could tell they were whistlers, by their rings as Veil’driel sharpshooters, and a group of Fairlawn sentinels. Less than a hundred. By the looks of them he could see they had seen intense fighting. They all looked tired and beaten down. They had all just been through a hellish experience that only they could know about and he was painfully familiar of what he must have looked like, riding in on top of his horse looking clean and unspoiled at the head of the wagons.
He road over to the group of them, sitting and looking depressed and like they had lost all hope, and even with some hostile looks when he road up on them. When he got there, he realized while some were wounded, none so bad that was life threatening or even crippling. Because he realized that during their mad dash, their retreat out of the woods, there would have been no time to bring their wounded comrades with them. And then Lucas looked up and glanced into the trees as they continued to burn, shaking the thought from his head of the men lying wounded, on both sides, who had likely burned or were currently burning alive. For the Fairlawn Sentinels, this was the second time they had retreated from their post. The first time when Creed ordered them to retreat as a precaution after the first comet attacks. And just now, though this time had been far more bloody.
When Lucas came on them, he dismounted immediately, intentionally, not wishing to literally be looking down on them.
“Who’s in charge here?” he asked plainly, and though he was sure he knew the answer, followed with. “Where’s Captain Barringer?”
“Where do you think?” one of them asked and he glanced towards the burning Fairlawn Woods. “He’s dead. Dead because of the High Council that let us down.” Now he rose to his feet and it became clear he was speaking for all of them. “They knew this army was enroute for months and said nothing to us. This blood is on their hands. We were defenseless!”
“That government is gone. Aleister Ducheyne is the First Consul now, and he is the one who has been working with Gabriel Foy who did eventually warn you all. He’s going to change things. There’s more to it. But right now we have to reorganize. Regroup and fight.”
“Fight? What do you think we’ve been doing? There’s thousands of them. An army of those golden riders backed by those ones that stand in a circle and shoot comets and troops of god damn wizards.” He glanced over at the woods. “Those woods won’t burn forever, and when they do, they’re gonna come through here with everything they got. Because what we were all fighting and dying for before was not even close to what they have. It was nothing. It’s over, scout. When those flames go out everything they have will come right through those woods.”
Lucas looked to the blazing woods and sighed.
“Maybe,” he said. And he stared a good while into those flames, and it was obviously not the reaction the sentinel was expecting. Then after awhile of the flames reflecting in his eyes he turned back down to the sentinel and as he continued to talk he started addressing all of the whistlers and the sentinels, what couldn’t have been more than sixty or so men. “I can’t imagine what the fighting you have just experienced must have been like. And I don’t blame you for being betrayed, because you were, we all were, and on a scale deeper than any of you can even know. Which if the Republic survives, you will learn more about in time. But I’m no bureaucrat. If I was, maybe I would be able to give some speech that would speak to your soul, that would get you all geared up and ready to go. But I’m not gonna do that. I’m not going to give a speech, I’ll just tell you what I know. I know it might be too late. I know it probably is. I know whatever fighting that awaits us will most likely be even more horrible than what all of you have just gone through.” These words in some strange way appeared to calm the sentinel who looked to be more defeated now than angry, his shoulders sagging as Lucas went on. “But I also know that on my way through the city to this plain, I saw the fear in the people’s eyes that I passed. I saw their desperate hope that this was not it. I saw children playing with no knowledge of what is happening here. And I saw that Fairlawn Memorial, with all of the names on it that have lost their lives to defend and fight for this Republic. And I don’t wanna live in a world without Veil’driel. I don’t wanna live in a world where the desperate hopes I saw riding here aren’t answered. And I’m not gonna do nothing. I’m not going to dishonor them, myself, my family or my friends and countrymen in Sindell.”
Now that sentinel matched his appearance of sad and defeat with a tone. All anger gone from his tone.
“It’s already in vain, son. Everything is. Everything they fought for is going to be for nothing.”
“I don’t believe that,” Lucas said. “Even if the Republic falls, and everything we know ceases to exist, I don’t believe that. Because they died serving something that was better than themselves.”
He still looked defeated and sad.
“I thought you weren’t gonna make any speeches,” he said.
Lucas sighed, and although he knew he would make no more progress with these men, he still could not get himself to feel anger. Not after what they’d been through and seen and lost. They had all been betrayed, like they said, but these men were the first to suffer because of it. These men were the first casualties of Leverette and Katic and all the men like them. So without another word, not even another glance down, he took one more look at the burning Fairlawn Woods and started back as fast as he could to the wagons, whistling as loud as he could as he did. And when he did, the (name of guard) deployed efficiently one by one out of the canopied wagons and started to form ranks, and he immediately started organizing them and giving orders, and they followed his lead, strongly, heroically, forming neat rigid ranks in the face of the flames of the Fairlawn Woods, all of their visors up but the expression on their faces stern and hard as stone. Conforming with the greatest traditions of their order. When they were founded, they were responsible for maintaining the Republic when it was weak and in its infancy. To protect the Senate and the First Consul, as as while they all lived so did the Republic. They had since been more ceremonious, in all of the most important buildings throughout the Republic, their numbers scaled down for that purpose, more ceremonious than anything else, but tonight, they would serve that original purpose. So they would be called on again. And then, as Lucas watched them assemble, trying to think up some kind of passable defense, and dealing with the stress of that, he was spun around by a sound he did not expect to hear. Thunder.
When he turned, he saw the sky, behind him, as he expected was crystal clear. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky this night, the sky filled with a blanket of stars and a full moon, remembering from his reports, that was the same conditions as Relic and Jace’s now legendary mission from this very same plain. But then, as he watched transfixed, along with everyone else of the (cool name guard) behind him, for at this sight even they showed emotion, though did not break ranks, purplish, swirling clouds manifested over the woods, only over where the flames roared the most. Not even over the long stretch of woods north and south where the flames had not yet reached. Without thought, he glanced back to the ranks of the cool name guard standing behind him, heads arced back just slightly staring at the storm clouds with the lightning sparking within them as they gathered (maybe a little research on how storm clouds form, etc.).
“Stand fast!” he yelled, loud enough so that the cool guard was paying attention to him and not the mini storm. “I don’t know whatever’s causing this, but what it is will not be immune to your halberds,” he said.
Then without waiting to even see how they reacted to his words, or giving any thought to it, he reared his horse around and road out onto the plain so he was in the middle of it, now staring at the storm. The lightning intensified, the rain fell, there was heavy enough wind so that the fiery trees blew around, still on fire to where they looked like giants fleeing hell on fire, and yet all around where even he was, there was next no wind at all. The flames were still raging, but already swaying and dying in some places. He knew it wouldn’t be long before they were completely out.
And still he just sat there, staring at all of it. Strangely, surprising even himself, he was not afraid. Even in standing before this, with all the implications, he found he was able to just focus on the present and not allow any other thoughts sway or scare him. Instead, he was looking at the storm clouds with something like curiosity. There was something about it, something he couldn’t quite define, that made him recall the storm that night near Lornda Manor. The storm he had been caught in as he rode to carry Jace’s message back to the other post rider on the line and then road back through the night in the same storm. He didn’t now how to describe it, it didn’t make sense to him, but somehow he felt like it was the same storm. Not because of the conditions, it didn’t just remind him of it, there was something within him that was convinced it was the same storm. Or, more accurately, from the oddity of it, a little piece of that storm.
This is what he was thinking about, consumed with, hypnotized and lost in, when the first comets, of varying color, began to fire and arc over the Fairlawn Woods and into the distant lights of the Fairlawn Cityscape. He looked up at them, obviously knowing about them from the earliest attacks and the events of Relic and Jace’s now legendary mission from Senator Bren’s famous herald The Outriders of Veil’driel which would christen that night forever more as The Night of the Outriders. Then after as he read the accounts of the whistlers and other outriders fighting against isolated attacks by wizards on the frontier and on Veil’driel forces only to have the enemy quickly disappear as if they had never existed, like ghosts. About the bowman, Malcolm Hawkins, who became single-handedly responsible for getting the wizardess safely through Bryce Valley, and how he had encountered and battled the wizards and their comet wizards and brought the same prestige to othe Whistlers the way Jace and Relic brought back to the Outriders. He waited and watched, as all of these people earned the monacer Liberty’s Watchdogs by an adoring public, spending every waking moment as he waited for orders in Avaleen that he was one of them. That he would get his chance. Only to finally get those orders and be a post rider, despite the high honor that was within the Outrider Order, and he knew on some level how dangerous it was, it was not what he was meant for. Not the same thing, he knew he was meant for more. He remembered reading the accounts from the front when all of this started, that’s what came to him now, then he realized, as he watched the comets streaking across the sky and arcing back that he was now in that exact same spot. Standing on the exact same plain as Relic and Jace were when they were set out. Standing exactly where he had closed his eyes and imagined himself being when he was lying in the barracks in Avaleen after reading it. And now, that he was here, watching the different color comets for himself, basking in their terrible beauty, that’s what was going through his mind. Pleased that he felt no fear. Pleased as he stared up at the piece of the storm he felt he had a connection to. Drawn to it in such a strange way. As if it were his storm. And something in every fiber of his being told him he was supposed to be exactly where he was. He was meant to be right here.
No sooner did he come to that bizarre, yet strangely undeniable thought than he heard a voice behind him.
“What are you gonna do?” the voice asked, ignoring all of the comets and looking straight at the scout, even as glittering reflections of the attacks were in his eyes.
Lucas turned around to see it was the middle-aged, sentinel. Still with soot on him. Still marked from the battle, but somehow not looking so weery as he did before. Then in an instant he he looked over his shoulder and saw they were all assembled behind him, all looking to Lucas. When the scout saw this, he nodded and then looked back to the Fairlawn Sentinel.
“I’m gonna have the cool name guards tip over those wagons and arrange them to form some cover,” he motioned with a nod behind him again. “Then I’m gonna place the whistlers behind them to act as archers as all of them are capable of being, as all of them were before becoming Whistlers. One of the wagons we brought is filled with all kinds of supplies including ample supply of arrows and medical supplies which I want to be used on your injuries while we can. There’s also water and food, if you can eat, to keep your strength up or replenish it.” The words rolled off his tongue with total authority. The thoughts came clearly and easily. “Then, after being replenished and seen to in the little time we have, to the best of our ability, we’ll organize the sentinels into a small group and use them as a tiny reserve force to the first columns of cool name guards starts to break first. I’ll only be able to get more specific than that when I see whatever comes through those woods.”
The sentinel’s expression barely changed the entire time he listened to Lucas’ plans, as in truth, they hardly mattered. They were not only hundreds against thousands, but on an open plain. They were all going to die, that was totally clear.
“That’s not what I meant,” he said, then he paused, glanced back to the assembled men behind him and then back to Lucas. “We wanna know what you’re gonna do.”
Lucas, looking down to the sentinel, did not have any bravado In his tone when he spoke. He just said what was on his mind.
The flames in the woods were out now, soaked and smoking and dead for that whole stretch so that you could see deep in, view no longer obscured straight ahead by any greenery or leaves. And the storm dissipated just as mysteriously and suddenly as it had appeared, once again leaving the sky crystal clear with the full moon. (when they’re coming through the woods with their crystals on their horses, it’s as if a bunch of the stars fell from the sky, into the Fairlawn Woods, and were now coming towards them. It looked, surprisingly like the Fairlawns Woods look in winter. How they looked, Lucas thought as he spoke, as they did when Relic and Jace went through on their mission, facing too the unknown then with no idea what to expect. Only that the wizards with that army, if they were capable of putting out the fire in those trees, with that display they just put on. Were more powerful than any wizard they had yet seen or known. And they were all from across the sea.
“I’m gonna wait.” He gritted his teeth, the comets no longer looking beautiful to him just causing him anger. “And as soon as tonight’s fireworks display has come to an end.” Lucas looked back to the woods, burned out now they looked like the Fairlawn Woods in winter. The way they looked in the Relic and Jace mission, and that only fueled the fire burning within him. There was something about whatever energy he must have been emitting as well because all of the sentinels behind him and whistlers seemed suddenly as transfixed on him as they might have been on the appearance of the comets. He had that thing. That natural thing JAce did. “Then I’m gonna fight’em,” he said, turning back to the woods. “I’m gonna fight’em ‘till I can’t.”
The way Artemus and Jace walked side by side through the opening of the confined Caladrayad Air Base was as if they could have been old friends. It made Jace think about walking through the streets of Sindell. Made him long for it, and felt weakness there in that longing, in that memory and pushed it away. And they walked side by side. Indeed, Jace even found himself thinking of conversations he had in the same manner with Thean, even. Like his confrontation with him in the Tunnels of Armageddon, he wondered, in a glimpse, what this man could have been like under different circumstances. But he was also guarded against this, wary. This is what Artemus did. This is who he was. A man who disarmed, who lured, who deceived. A man who used all the gifts Jace had as well, for all the wrong reasons. And that’s what made him so dangerous. That you wanted to believe him. You wanted to like him. There was no denying the power of the man. The authority, even now, and as they walked the rest of the golden riders simply stood guard, watching him.
They walked up and around little trails, up hills and around things, a serene little walk while the devastating battle raged both here in Sindell and on the borders of Fairlawn just like the first night when all this began for Jace. Battles that were costing lives by the moment.
Artemus took out an apple, then held it up to him to Jace.
Jace raised his eyebrows a little bit. He was playing the arrogant role to perfection.
“No,” Jace said.
“Ah,” Artemus said, then looked to be about to take a bite before glancing back up. “You don’t mind if I …”
“No,” he said.
“There was a loud crunch as Artemus bit into the fruit, and then as they came to the center of the base, to a small peak in the center, he stopped.
Jace, had he not found all of this out already, might not have believed his luck at this moment. You couldn’t have picked a better place if he tried, if he had planned it months in advance. He knew where Malcolm would set up, the War Hawks. He’d picked the places himself as he always did for these missions. Just as he did in the Zarponda mission, when the target had been his daughter.
“It’s like I told you,” he said. “We’re all pawns.”
“I prefer to think of us more as players,” he said. “Roles in a play. Playing out Acts in a play.”
At this Artemus smiled a little.
“And my role is at an end then, isn’t it?”
“It was all played so perfectly.”
But he knew he would have a clean shot from here. When it was taken, there would be chaos. Hell, with any luck, maybe they’d all be able to escape, especially with the power of Isabelle, Foy, and Thean brought into the mix. But he also knew enough about this man to know to be careful. Never assume anything, including the possibility that he had planned to stop here himself.
“You asked me about your daughter before,” Jace tried. “You know what you’re doing now puts her in tremendous risk. What’s your plan? To level Sindell with those airships and their weapons?”
“No,” Artemus said, shaking his head in a way as someone might if they were only marginally interested in a topic. “She isn’t in any danger from all this. The target of these airships is very specific.”
“Yep,” he said. “If mere destruction was my only intention. Genocide as you so ignorantly put it in our last meeting, was my only goal, my life would have been far easier in recent years. All this scheming and plotting and planning,” he sighed, then smiled as a man who had been working on a very long home project and could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. “Yes, it’s almost over. Almost over and I’m glad, truth be told.”
“You’re more right than you know,” Jace said, and while he had said the phrase with confidence, Artemus’ indifferent half smirk half sigh and nod shook it. Either Artemus really didn’t care about what they were talking about, or he knew something the outrider did not. Or possibly both. “And I hope it was wroth it,” Jace went on. “To have been used for this whole time. I know all about it now. The bits you left out in the Tunnels. You’re not bringing about Heaven on Earth, this Sun Kingdom as you call it. You’re not merging the two aspects, physical and metaphysical and joining it all. You’re a lapdog. Serving a Tear from a continent away simply because he needs dominion over Ciridian before he can take whatever steps are necessary when he gets here. He needed you because you control the Illumanar. The Golden Riders on Ciridian, nothing more.”
“Well, there is something more. He needed my permission to allow Illumanar from Emren, AND THIS IS ALL INFORMATION TO BE SHARED IN THE ADJACENT BALL ROOM SCENE. WHERE ITS ALSO GOING TO BE TO SUBDUE THE CONTINENT UNTIL ARKHELAN COMES. the army marching on Veil’driel as we speak, to set foot on Ciridian soil. There are rules that even he has to follow. An order of things, a greater purpose.”
“You mean that Underwater Empire,” Jace said, and while he didn’t fully understand it, he liked that that made him sound smarter.
“Ahhhhh….” Artemus said with a smile and he clapped lightly with one hand hitting the apple for a second. “Bravo, kid. Bravo. You’ve been studying.” He took another bite of the apple.
“Jaden told me. You know, the mother of your daughter? The woman you tried to have assainated in Bryce Valley. The culminating moment. She trusted you. You were here Illumanar Captain and you betrayed her. The key to all of this. You’re a disgrace to that mark on your hand. The woman you supposedly loved.” JACE KNOWS ABOUT THE ILLUMANAR CAPTAIN AND IS TOLD ABOUT IN ADJACENT BALL ROOM SCENE, BUT HE JUST DOESN’T KNOW HE’S THE NEXT ONE.
At this Artemus laughed a little.
“She made her choices,” he said. “Nothing I could do. The woman’s an idealist, what can I say? She believes people should govern. Think for themselves. I think people are ignorant trash.”
“I’m through having philosophical debates with you,” Jace blurted, visibly agitated now, and he was hoping that Malcolm would be in position to take the shot soon. Poetic, even, that Artemus would be cut down in the very same fashion as the men he sent to kill Jaden. “You’re a tool. You’re nothing but a tool, and nothing can change that.”
“Well, that’s not really fair, is it?” he asked, his tone mock hurtful. “I prefer to think of myself as a rather powerful and important tool.” He watched as Jace’s anger grew, spiked, and then eased into the malaise, the beginnings of acceptance. “It’s like I told you, kid. We’re all pawns. The only difference between you and I is that I can accept it. In fact, I like it. Pawns are important. King is nothing without them, in fact.”
“You’re gonna lose,” Jace said. “Your attack is going to fail.”
“Maybe,” he said. “But the odds are in my favor. Your presence here has disrupted things for me. I won’t deny that.” He glanced around. “Forced me to relocate to this rather dreary accommodation, for example, when I was much happier planning to launch my airship attack from Zarponda. Lucky for me I have a backup plan.”
“Always three steps ahead, aren’t you, Artemus?” Jace asked.
“You don’t get to where you wanna be in life, without being so, isn’t that right?” He glanced around but it seemed a bare gesture and nothing looking for anything. “Though I have to thank you. Of course, I had backup airships hidden here in case I lost Zarponda, but all of my pilots were almost captured. But you left them go. That ship you let out of Glate Bay.” He winked. “Thanks again.”
This got to Jace and he stood there, stunned.
“Lucky for all of you that the men who have been training in those airships are not adept enough to fly those abominations at night. Last night would have been the perfect time for my attack that can get through the forcefield. I mean, seriously. A Ball? What the hell’s wrong with you people?”
Jace looked defeated, sighed, stood up with a malaise, like a stiff wind might blow him over.
“Not my idea,” he managed with a smirk.
“You know why you let that ship go? I do. Because deep down you know I’m right. You know now, from your experiences, that death is not an end, but a primitive definition given by those who can’t understand. Something snapped in you in Lornda Manor, I know it did. You believe the world would be better with the Sun Kingdom being reinstituted. By holding this continent in submission until Artemus will come and save all of their souls.”
It wasn’t defiance, it wasn’t anger. Jace was struggling to to focus. He had that same feeling he had in their confrontation in the Tunnels, and it was more than just wanting to believe him, a very big part of him in fact did. He knew the line between he and Artemus was not very dinstinct at all. Then his eyes started to shift thorugh every color of the rainbow, like they had in the Lornda Manor Communion Vault, and for a moment, it looked as if it might have worked. But then he took a deep breath, and when he spoke, what he was saying, for the first time, looked to legitimately surprise him.
“No. When we have all the answers we stop asking why,” he said, and he looked up, and it was a sort of epiphany because he believed it. “The fall of the Sun Kingdom, the separation of heaven and earth, if that’s what happened, was not some cosmic tragedy. It was evolution.” Then he looked up as if just reaching an epiphany, and he believed it, and there looked to be a physical weight lifting off his shoulders, indeed, he smiled a little. “When people have all the answers, they stop asking why. The meaning of life is just to live.”
“Huh,” Artemus said. “That was beautiful.” Now he took out the crossbow on his right hip holding it down at his side, and as he did so the tattoo of the rune on his palm was clearly seen. “You know this is the crossbow all of this started with.” He held it up and examined it. “The one that started you on this course, or at least opened the door for you.”
“Yes,” Jace said, careful to communicate that he wasn’t in the slightest bit intimidated by the threat. “You told me that last time.”
Artemus nodded but was still looking at his crossbow.
“I never miss my mark,” he said. “The shot should have killed you that night on the Fairlawn Thoroughfare. But I knew even before that, you know? When you survived the energy blast, wearing a that necklace, what were the odds? Infintesable. And that’s when I knew. I knew Thean would send you that night, I was counting on it, but still, finding myself face to face with you that night with you. With the son of Sara Ducheyne. It was shocking. Any doubt I had that you were what everyone hoped you were faded right there and then. But I had hoped you would come to understand given time. The closer you came, the more you experienced. And I thought you had. When you let the ship go that I know you saw, making all of this possible, by the way. When you saved Hazel’s life.”
Jace found himself hypnotized by Artemus’ words, not even considering how Artemus could have possibly known some of the things he knew, but then realizing what he did in the Tunnels of Armageddon. How he could read Jace’s mind, to an extent, when they were together. And he had that quality that made you want to listen. That made him likeable. To want, almost need to believe him. Jace knew it so well, because he had it as well. Knew how dangerous it could be when abused. He spoke, distracted without the intense emotion he came into with. Exactly the same as that confrontation.
“But you can’t. Can you? You said it yourself. I don’t know why, but it’s like you said yourself. In the tunnels. You can’t kill me because it’s fate. They’re intertwined, and you can’t fight fate.” Then he looked straight at Artemus.
“Yes, you’re right,” he said, and then he lowered the crossbow down the length of his body again. He sighed. Then he looked back to Jace. “But I think I’m ready to try,” he said.
Jace saw the look in Artemus’ eyes right away, knew what was about to follow, that he had misjudged the situation and then all the world fell into silence, a warbly note he heard in the back of his head as if the world were crawling to a stop around him. And then, though even he did not appear aware of it, he whispered: Fatalistic. and with the one arm holding the crossbow, he straightened his arm towards Jace’s chest, pulling the trigger five times while turning his head and taking another bite out of the apple (I’m in that unavoidable phase, at least I’m finally accepting it. I’ve officially become the villain, or what this world defines one to be.). One by one, after each quick succession, there was a blue glint as the crossbow bolts mystically reloaded. One by one each hit Jace square in the chest.
From up somewhere in the surrounding caverns there was a scream, a woman’s scream, and Isabelle came running down from one of the trails, all thought gone she ran full speed, and even in his shocked, agonized state, Jace held out his arm as if to beg her to stop, fearing that she would be shot down by the golden riders. She wasn’t. But she was grabbed by the golden rider guards and held back from reaching him, still screaming.
Jace’s vision was getting blurry, but he saw, just beyond Isabelle two more guards were leading Malcolm down another trail, his arms bound behind him, a prisoner. Foy, Relic, and Thean were there as well. When Isabelle screamed and gave up her position, she had given them all up. And then with great effort he looked straight up to look into Artemus’ face.
“You know nothing of Jaden, kid,” he said, then he looked back to the golden riders who were bring them over. “Bring those three here!” he yelled. “Send the Whistler to the Tower. I’m sure there are quite a few of our Tears that would like to torture him, the infamous Malcolm Hawkins who has killed so many of them.”
“He was killing the ones committing gurilla warefare against his homeland, your homeland whether you want to forget it or not. All in your attempt to convince them there’s a large enemy host all around them. Including Valith and Orinus,” Foy said. “I can’t believe you worked with them.”
“Yes, a necessary evil. Stereotypical villains have their uses, don’t they? That was to be their final use for me anyway. If they weren’t killed by Malcolm, they would have been by me shortly after, believe me.
Two started Malcolm up to the tower that was up off of a trail. The others held on to Isabelle who was struggling mightily against her captors and Thean and Foy towards the location they were all on in the center of Caladrayad.
Then he looked to the side, signaled to two of the golden riders and they let Isabelle go, and like she was lost in another world, aware and conscious of nothing but the state of Jace she ran forward. That their entire cause was lost not even the slightest concern. She ran, totally unarmed, her weapons in position of the golden riders.
Artemus was still crouched down, and Isabelle was getting ever closer.
“See, that edict is there for a reason,” he said, and he glanced up in her direction running towards them. “That’s not exactly maintaining your military bearing in a critical mission,” he said. He stood up just as Isabelle skidded up beside him, weeping, holding on to his hands. Not being able to move but appearing to be agonized with every moment. She was in throes of panic. In every sense of the word.
Some have come on horses, others on foot, he tells all the ones on horses to stay with me, swing and fight with everything you got. We’ll go straight up the middle and try to ride over some of them. The cool name guard fan out to our right flank, fight as a single unit, everyone else, on my right flank, and fight like there’s no tomorrow, because there probably isn’t. Then he yells to all of them: “All I need is all you got! Right now! Tonight!”
The first line came out of the woods, their crystals bobbing and showing they were being held on their forearms.
Lucas charges, and as ordered, everyone else does what they’re ordered to do and the battle begins.