“What are you talking about?” I looked at King Helmut. This must have been part of the spell that this maze of a hall cast on some people. They turned your sadness into something vengeful. “I didn’t kill, him. Nora did, and she’s dead. You made sure of that.”
“Yes, but it still was you. If my son hadn’t loved you, he would still be here today!” I flinched as he yelled that last part at me. “We should’ve never have come here today. We should never have freed Etan or your father.” His chuckle sounded so broken, and I stared at him. “You think your father was so saintly? Many people have no idea what he and his dragon did. He deserved to be cast out. The things he did. The things they did.”
“Stop it, this isn’t you. You loved my father. You told me so many times.”
“It wasn’t love, it was years of years brainwashing and enslavement.” He chuckled again. “Ironic, isn’t it? He gave voice to all the Chromatic dragons, and yet us, the ones who were always so close to him, never had one.”
“I don’t believe you. Stop this. It’s this place. We need to get out of here, so stop your whining and help me.”
“I lost my son!” he roared.
“I didn’t kill Lucian, and it took me a long time to finally get that.”
“You did kill him. It was his love for you that put him in that cave. And how do you repay him? You fall for the Rubicon that used to be his best friend. You would’ve killed him if that hippogriff hadn’t.”
I didn’t say anything, as I knew that was the truth.
“Now I have no one to take over Tith. No one.”
I felt his sadness. Hell, I’d been there myself, but it was not the same. He’d lost a child, two in fact, in a span of ten years.
“Nora wasn’t enough, was she?”
He shook his head. “At first she was, but then I thought about it again.”
“Killing me isn’t going to bring him back either.”
“It will make me feel better.”
“Like killing Nora made you feel better? You need help. Not killing people, because nobody will bring him back.”
“No one can help me, not even Margerite.”
I stared at him. He’d never said his wife’s name using that tone. It was as if he blamed her in some way.
Fear crept into my gut and thickened inside my chest. This was all so wrong. It shouldn’t have been like this.
I shook my head. Blake wasn’t here, he wasn’t going to reach me in time. The mission was to kill the Saadedine, not fight Helmut. Blake thinks I’m safe with Helmut.
The wall slightly rumbled and we both stared at it.
“They need our help, Helmut.”
“They don’t. Etan is lost. We should’ve never tried to free it.”
I took a deep breath. Blake was right about our foretelling. I’d done my part, now he had to do his, but never in a million years had I thought I wasn’t going to make it. One was going to die, and it was clear I was that one.
I didn’t know if I was me finally giving up too, as I really didn’t want to die, but something just happened. It was some sort of courage and my mind conjured a plan without me really thinking about it.
I let out a breath. “Then fine, if you want to kill me, do it. If that is going to bring you peace, do it, but just remember this, you have to kill Blake too, because he was supposed to be there, and he refused. He came later, so if he’d been there on time, your son would still be alive. So if you want to kill everyone for disappointing Lucian, then you have to go after Blake too,” I said, hoping that knowing he would have to go and kill Blake would put everything back into perspective for him.
I didn’t blame Blake anymore. He had been dark then and he had thought I would die instead of Lucian.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there,” Helmut said without any expression. He looked so different without the mustache.
“Just make it quick please.” I couldn’t believe this was going to be the way everything ended.
I closed my eyes and could hear King Helmut stepping forward, drawing his sword.
I love you Blake…
Magic engulfed me, and Elena and Helmut were trapped inside the spell. I smelled her scent it was so strong, and when I finally realized what it was, it was too late. I’d only heard about this spell, never experienced it myself.
This was the one Sir Edward had told us about back at the Academy, that nothing could break it.
I knew immediately that she was right in front of us, inches in front of me. I could’ve just pulled her back, but I was too late.
At least she would be safe while I went after the Saadedine.
My heart bled for her as she kept running toward me, thinking I’d died. She couldn’t find a way to me, confusion all over her face as she would just find Helmut standing in the middle again.
“It’s no use,” I said to Raymond as he kept throwing acid balls at the shield. Our abilities had come back the minute they stepped through the barrier. I could feel the magic of this spell getting stronger, drawing all power, separating us so we couldn’t fight the Saadedine together. And King Helmut was trapped inside with her because he knew they would send him to kill him. “It won’t break. It’s one of the strongest spells there is. She is at least safe.”
“You can’t kill the Saadedine by yourself.”
“I have no choice. It was always my job. Hers was to get all of us in. Paul was right. Goran knew all along.”
“If that is true, we walked into a death trap!” Raymond yelled.
“No, he knew this day was going to come. He doesn’t have enough forces. Listen.” I cocked my head toward the wall. “They are fighting outside. He doesn’t have enough men and the wyverns don’t stand a chance against the dragons. Once the Creepers are down, they will lose.”
Footsteps approached just as I made the decision to leave, to go find the Saadedine.
It was Emanuel. It felt as if I could breathe again. He was alive. King Caleb was right behind him, with his guard. He wasn’t going to like this one bit, and then my heart stopped as I looked at the fourth person running toward us. It was Helmut.
Jeff, Virgil and Raymond wielded their abilities as I stayed standing on one spot.
Emanuel blocked his company from us.
“This castle is filled with enchantments; it is me,” Emanuel said. “It is me, Emanuel, your friend, not your enemy.”
“We know it’s you,” Raymond snapped at him. “What are you doing with him?”
Emanuel turned around and stared back at the king, then turned back to me.
“Where is Elena?” he asked as he stared at my frozen body. “Blake, I haven’t left Helmut’s side since the minute Elena brought us in. Where is the princess?”
I turned my head and looked at Elena. I’d finally found myself again and wielded my pink kiss, as an angry grunt left my mouth. I attacked the wall with everything I had.
Virgil and Raymond put two and two together real fast.
We were the idiots who had been fooled. I should’ve trusted my instincts when I saw him on those stairs.
“Blake!” Emanuel yelled and came closer.
“We need to destroy this wall or she is going to die.” I grunted and put my hands, engulfed in the pink kiss, on the wall. It lit up, fire ran to the corners, turning the spell into a door of fire, but it never budged. The spell was strong, even stronger than my pink kiss.
“Blake!” Emanuel shouted and the fire on the wall disappeared. Then they all saw my worst fear.
King Helmut and Caleb stared at Elena and Helmut’s twin speaking to one another about how they were trapped, that she was safe.
Helmut wielded his fire, and as one all four of us turned our abilities on the wall.
I couldn’t believe I’d been such an idiot. How could I have been fooled like that? I was the Rubicon, and I’d put my princess’s life in danger. She was trapped with the one guy we were trying to surprise. He hadn’t just known we were coming, he’d participated, planned everything. I should’ve used more precautions.
Emanuel, Helmut and Caleb didn’t say a word as they helped try to break the spell. We even did one together, a spell King Helmut knew well, one of the spells he’d used many times through his twin, but it was no use.
The wall was waning, but it didn’t break.
“Again!” I roared.
“Blake it’s not working. He’s gotten too strong,” Helmut said. “Even for me.”
“He is your twin. You must have some sort of a connection with him still.”
“I don’t.” He sounded defeated.
Still Emanuel, Caleb and I didn’t stop trying to break through the enchantment.
Elena and Goran were both just sitting there then Goran started speaking about Lucian’s death, and how it was all her fault.
A cold finger traced down my spine as I looked back at Elena. “No!” It barely left my mouth. He was going to kill her, and she would think that it was by King Helmut’s hand.
“You bastard!” Helmut yelled, sounding deranged. “You killed my son, you and that filth you love so much!”
“We need to break this spell!” Emanuel roared and threw his fire. I helped with everything I had. I screamed and tried so hard to connect with her mind as she’d started buying his words. Believing it was Helmut.
“It’s not going to work, Emanuel.”
“Well, then you just became her murderer, as she believes with all her heart that it’s you.” Emanuel gave Helmut a glare I’d never seen him give to his rider before.
“Elena, fight. This is not the way you are going to die!” I screamed. I felt so helpless. I yelled out spells, Helmut even tried but they took time to work. Time we didn’t have.
I tried to break down the wall again, but nothing. Not even a crack.
One of us was going to die… No, no, it’s not supposed to be her. I struck the wall again.
She’d given up, and tears streamed down my cheeks.
“Fight, Elena, fight!”
She bowed her head, and he drew his sword.
“Elena!” I screamed. “It’s not Helmut, it’s Goran! Fight!”
“Blake, calm down, she is not going to hear you,” Helmut said, with tears glistening in his eyes.
“You should’ve told her!” I screamed at him.
He drew the sword.
“Noooo!” I yelled as Goran raised his sword. I could’ve sworn it had been Helmut on the stairs. He’d truly known about everything we were planning.
I bowed my head, and waited for his blow. “Elena!” Blake’s screamed filled my head. “It’s not Helmut, it’s Goran! Fight!”
“Blake, calm down, she is not going to hear you,” Helmut said. Images of them watching from behind some glass wall appeared in my mind.
“You should’ve told her!” I heard Blake screaming that it wasn’t Helmut, it was Goran, his twin. That was what he’d been hiding.
I saw the image in his head, how I’d just given up, and knew when he was going to strike. Just then, I ducked and rolled out of the way.
He hadn’t expected it at all. He came for me again and struck the wall as I ducked that blow as well.
“You’re not Helmut, are you?” I yelled. It all made sense. Why Blake was contemplating on the steps, why none of them had lowered their swords. They all knew what Goran looked like, and they’d tried to hide it from me. That was why all the secrecy when it came to the king’s missions.
The way he’d said Maggie’s name; she wasn’t his love.
I had my hand on my one ax, which was safely in its sheath on my back, without taking my eyes off the man, whoever he was.
“What are you tattering about? Of course I’m Helmut.”
“No.” I shook my head. “Helmut’s never said Margerite’s name with so much hatred. Who are you?” I yelled.
Blake’s voice was gone.
He started to laugh and bounce on one spot. “Answer me,” he mocked me in an animated voice.
I knew immediately that the voice in my head was Blake’s. The connection had come back, even if it was just for a second. The man changed drastically, the way he spoke, the way he moved, it was the Dragonian from that day in the woods, when Brian had died, who was being controlled by Goran.
“Goran,” I whispered.
“Ta-dah,” he joked again and laughed. He took a bow without breaking his gaze on me. “Elena.” He smiled. “So nice to finally meet you.”
He looked so much like Helmut, the spitting image. Now I knew why Helmut had shaved his mustache to pretend to be his brother so we could get closer, yet this idiot had used it against us, making it harder to tell who was who. Even for Blake. “You knew we were coming today, didn’t you.”
“You should’ve listened to Jerry, or was it Malik? No, it was Paul.” He smiled.
“He’s dead, and I don’t listen to dead cowards. Now answer me,” I spat.
“Yes, I knew you were coming, I had my informants, and I’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time.”
That brought on a new fear. If he knew how we’d gotten in why… “Why didn’t you just use my father’s blood to get out?”
He gnawed on his lips and smiled.
“No.” I had tears in my eyes. He can’t be dead.
“Sorry,” he mocked me.
I screamed and went for him, and he pushed me away.
Calm down Elena. I heard Blake’s voice again, but it wasn’t like before. It was from the time I’d trained with him. He’d found ways to make me angry and I would attack in anger, seeing my ass every time. I pushed my father’s death to the back of my mind.
“So you would jeopardize millions of innocent people’s lives just so you can have your stupid war?” I huffed, because I knew he would.
“I guess being locked up in Etan for…how old are you now…nineteen, twenty? Doesn’t matter. A long time does that to you!” he yelled that last part as if it was my fault the Creepers had trapped them.
“No, that was your dragon’s fault for giving you too much of her Essence.”
“She didn’t give me shit!” he roared.
I narrowed my eyes. “How did you manage to grow this old then? Without a trace of aging?”
“I took it from her, and then I killed her.”
Bile struck my throat.
“Oh, they all believed that it was her dying wish, oh Sarafina,” he acted, mocked his dragon. “If only they knew what a coward she was.”
“Swallow Annexes are many gracious and wonderful things but never cowards.”
“She was, when she didn’t want to give me her Essence.”
“Yeah, and now I know why she didn’t want to. I wouldn’t either. She knew what was truly in your heart. You were evil even before you took her Essence.”
He mocked me by pulling his face and shaking his head. “It looks like we have a real know-it-all.”
“It’s your fault everyone is locked up, Goran. You betrayed my father. He was your best friend, how could you?”
“You know, my brother asked me that same question, that night.” He looked at me, leaning on his sword, and started to laugh like a mad man again. “It was easy. Your father wanted to control me, like he did everyone else.”
“Ohhh, Katie wouldn’t have liked that mouth of yours.” He was mocking me again, pointing his sword at me as we circled one another.
“My mother. My mother would’ve skinned you alive if she knew you were the one that was going to betray them.”
He moved. It was so fast, and then his hand was over my throat and he slammed me against the wall, hard. “Don’t talk about things you don’t know anything about, little girl. Like your mother and I.”
I spat in his face. He struck my face hard and threw me down onto the floor. I loathed everything about him. It angered me more that Helmut hadn’t mentioned the resemblance. They were twins, but I’d found his weak spot. My mom. That was why he’d fallen for the lookalike.
What was it with villains and people spitting in their faces?
He bent down close to me. “Just so you know, I will get my dragon, Elena. You think claiming him has kept him safe? There are ways to break that good, and bring back the evil darkness that he should’ve been left in.”
I brought up my elbow and struck him as hard as I could on his chin. He flew up onto his feet and staggered a bit.
“Oh, you will pay for that.” He raised his palms but nothing happened. He did it again and then I remembered what he’d said a couple of moments ago when I couldn’t wield my abilities. Then it was my turn to laugh.
“It sucks when your little plan backfires on you, doesn’t it?”
He growled and went for me again. I jumped up and kicked him away with both my legs, and he staggered back giving me time to get on my feet and draw my axes.
He just looked at them and started to laugh as he spat on the floor. “Axes. Isn’t that just beautiful?”
“Keep your mouth shut about my mother,” I said.
Calm yourself, don’t strike when you are angry. Make the other angry instead, and you will always have the upper hand as they will attack with their heart and not their mind. Blake’s words from that day, more or less, entered my thoughts.
Calm down, Elena, I told myself as Goran and I walked in circles again.
“It was clever of you trying to trick me by being your brother. It’s just so sad that you don’t really know him.”
He shrugged. “Guess I can’t play pathetic and helpless, even if I try.”
“Twins don’t really talk about each other like that, unless…” I looked at him. “He betrayed you.” I smiled.
“He was an idiot, chose that wretched father of yours, over me, his twin.”
“I would too, if I had been in his shoes.”
He pointed his sword at me. “I told you to keep your mouth shut about things you don’t know.”
The wall shuddered behind me. It was a sign of war. Goran looked at it for a few seconds then grimaced.
“What? Am I getting hotter about the things that seriously make you tick, Goran?” I carried on as the wall vibrated. “I’ve got a couple more theories. You loathed my father, that we both know, but not because he was so evil as you claimed. I think it was the opposite. He had everything. Got the kingdom, and from what I’m getting from you whenever my mom’s name gets mentioned…” I gasped. Why am I doing this? “He got the girl too. You were jealous of him, weren’t you?” I smiled. He was so pathetic.
“I told you to shut up about Katie,” he spat as the wall behind us shuddered. Still it didn’t break.
“You don’t have the right to call her that. You burned her in her bed. You are a monster. My mother could never have loved you, and that was why you killed her!” I yelled and stared at him. I huffed. “That was it.” I laughed. “You told her how you felt, and what, she broke your little bitty heart so you thought she deserved to be burned alive?”
“Shut up,” he growled. “You Malones just know how to get under one’s skin and…you are just like your father.”
“Well, his blood does flow through my veins.”
He laughed. “Special blood.” He spat on the ground.
Just then he struck. I blocked his sword with my ax and threw it off me, while the other one sliced his chin. He was really fast and had good reflexes. If he hadn’t moved backward, it would’ve hit an artery and maybe, just maybe, it would’ve killed him.
He came for me once more, and this time he got a kick in as I went for his throat. He connected hard with my leg and it felt as if he’d broken it. I fell to the floor, and was surprised that he hadn’t killed me yet.
He bent low again. “I knew what you were that day I saw you in that forest. I knew somehow the idiot had gotten you out of Paegeia. I will find a way out of this stinking world soon enough and then everyone in Paegeia will regret ever crossing me.”
“You know what your problem is?” I replied, and he looked at me stupidly. “You talk too much.” I head butted him, and blood flowed from down his lips as he cupped his nose and bent over.
I kicked him again and carried on using all of his pain to my advantage. The signs of war were still going on outside, making the castle rumble slightly.
Goran was going to die, real soon for everything he had bestowed on my family.
I raised my ax to strike him as hard as I could, when he pulled out a flag mounted in the wall and struck it with force into my thigh.
I sucked in a breath as I just stared at it. No voice, just utter shock grew evident on my face. Then the pain seared up from the wound straight through my body. I grunted and tried to keep my scream at bay.
Blood started to seep out then a loud buzzing started to sing in my ears. It was deafening, just awful and ground into my mind, together with the pain.
I covered my ears, trying to drown it out, but it only slightly dampened the sound.
The hallway started to shake, and not the one that I’d thought would shatter, the opposite. It started to disintegrate. It fell away, disappearing into darkness. My heart beat as I looked at it. What type of magic is this?
The other one was still standing. Rumbling again, but it didn’t shatter.
He gave me one kick, and I couldn’t keep my balance with the mother of a pole sticking from my leg. I slipped and went over, but my fingers caught onto a rocky ledge a few feet down. It wasn’t big enough to hold my weight.
Goran appeared on the ledge and saw me hanging on for dear life.
“What is it with you Malones? Why can’t you just die like the rest of us?”
I looked up at him. “I guess that is what makes us royalty and you scum.”
His hand sparkled slightly again. It was a purple lightning, similar to Cara’s.
He looked at it too and smiled. “Guess it’s time to say night-night, Elena. Nice to have met you.”
He zapped my one finger. It hurt like hell as I wasn’t immune to Cara’s lighting anymore, but I still held on with everything I had.
More zapping came, and it was faster this time. It scorched all of my fingers.
I couldn’t hold on anymore, and the flag-pole stuck in my leg didn’t help at all. In fact the pain started overpowering my entire body.
I didn’t want to look down. It was so dark, and I knew with whatever was down there, I wouldn’t survive the fall.
A final zap make me lose my grip completely and I fell into the pit of darkness below.