The High Queen Sorceress (complete)
Author: jessicaw

Chapter 25
chapter 25

“Can’t you stop them?” Brine asked his voice so low, it was barely audible. Taddy sighed in the darkness. Her face pressed close to his as they conversed.

“No. My magic is completely gone. I feel weak. I feel tired. I don’t know what to do. If the portal was closing, Cantalile and Lauranna would have called me back. But they didn’t.”

“Maybe you couldn’t feel it after all and the portal already closed?” Brine asked hopefully. “Maybe.” Replied Taddy with a long, tired sigh.

 “But I don’t think so. If it had of closed, then Haden’s lust for blood would have diminished. Instead, he thirsts for it more every day. I don’t know what to do. And that man... I just can’t figure out how he knew about the portal in the first place, but I think we are in a lot of trouble.”  

  Her curly black hair brushed against his face as she talked. He could smell the thick layer of dirt and sweat caked into it. She was a queen and a good person. She shouldn’t be in such a terrible state. This was his fault. He shouldn’t have ever let her come.  He reached up to brush her hair back and try to comfort her.  

Outside in the darkness of night, sounds of anguish and surprise suddenly ripped through the calm, cool air. Metal upon metal rang through the blackness, scaring away the placid quiet and replacing it with enraged panic.     

Brine jumped up so fast that he hit Taddy. “Ow!” she cried in pain as his knee connected with her forehead.

“Sorry! Sorry!” Brine gasped, groping in the darkness to see if she was okay. He poked her in the eye and she wailed in pain again. “Just go!” She said, clutching her throbbing head and aching eye. Brine quickly backed out of the tent, apologizing profusely as he did. 

 Once outside, the chaos was almost unbearable. Everywhere he turned, dark shapes dotted to and fro. There were no lit fires or torches and no one knew where they were going. He stood waiting for a moment, unsure of what exactly was going on.

In the distance, a flame suddenly ignited. It quickly grew as soldiers with torches used it to light their own. Within a couple of minutes, the camp ground was cast in a fiery glow. Dead men and broken items lay scattered to the east. The loud clinking of metal stopped and only confused soldiers of Haden’s army stood around, looking dazed and confused. Some with gapping wounds, others with minor cuts.                    

As Brine began to make his way to the site of slaughter; surprised screams sounded from the south. He spun around and in the darkness could see a group of rag tag men and women fighting the soldiers. Some had armor, some did not.

A young girl with thick curly orange hair wailed as she drove a long, sharp stick though a man that was coming right at her, a deadly knife held in his raised arm. He stumbled backward and fell into one of his fellow soldiers. Both men toppled to the ground as others tripped or quickly dodged them charging at the girl. She took several quick steps back in panic, tripping over the dirty ripped hem of her long cream and brown skirts. A well build man appeared from the underbrush, his hand reaching up and snatching her by the waist as he yanked her out of the way.

Once she was safe behind him, he sliced his sword into the oncoming horde, decapitating one of the soldiers as he and the girl disappeared back into the brush. The torchlight grabbing a hold of his features just long enough for Brine to make out who he was. It was his father.

Adrenaline and fear rushed through Brine like a torrent. He smiled inwardly as he watched the rest of the rag tag fighters disappear back into the brush. He turned to address some of the men who were rushing to join the fray.

“Quickly!” he shouted. “They will attack from another direction. Do not waste time going after them. Turn and protect your rear! Confusion was rampant as men turned in circles, unsure of where to go. Suddenly they were attacked from the west, then more came at them from the north. Before any of the soldiers could react, the foe was gone. Some of the men were so confused and hadn’t realized that their opponent was no longer there, that they turned on each other.  

Angered or completely turned around, a massive fight broke out among the soldiers as they retaliated amongst themselves. Brine did everything in his power to keep from laughing out loud at the sight. He quickly whisked away his merriment as he let anger and a commanding tone over take him. “Fall in!” He commanded. “Every man at the ready. Quit killing each other you stupid oafs. Sound the alarm and wake the rest of the army. Someone fetch me the King!”

Men scrambled to do as they were instructed. Satisfied at last that the men were no longer fighting one another and content that his father and their army had safely disappeared back into the underbrush, he bid two groups to scout the area, ready just in case of another attack, but secretly knowing there would be none, he ducked back into his tent.   

Taddy looked at him expectantly. “Well?” She asked. “At least a hundred slaughtered. Maybe more. They did a good job attacking in such an organized manner. The element of surprise was definitely on their side.”

“How many?” She asked. “I have no idea. They stuck to the bushes and trees. I didn’t see too many maybe a couple hundred at the most. I hope they have a lot more than that though. It’s time to get a move on. Keep your mouth shut. If things get too hairy, I will cut you lose, but you must promise me that you will run and not try to fight them.”

She looked at his silhouette against the tent walls, illuminated by the torches outside. “I will be no good if I run.” She said.

“You will be no good if you die. I swore I would protect you, so if I tell you to run, then you better run.” He replied, not even bothering to look at her.

“Joustafix!” Haden’s angry bellow was right outside Brine’s tent. He quickly pulled on his purple cape and dodged back out of the tent, coming to full attention right in front of King Haden. “

Yes my lord?” He said, giving a stiff salute. “How many?” He demanded. “No more than a few hundred tops I would estimate.” He answered. “How would you like us to go about rounding them up?”                                             

Haden thought for a moment, his massive stomach heaving up and down beneath the fine red velvet of his shirt as his teeth gritted together in anger. Datameon came and stood silently next to Haden, looking Brine up and down, scrutinizing every fiber of his being. Brine dared not look him in the eyes. Taddy had warned him that he was a dangerous man and one look into Brine’s eyes could very likely give him away as a traitor. 

Instead, he kept his eyes focused on Haden’s red, unshaven, pudgy face. Watching as the man combated instinct and tactics in his mind. Haden stared hard at Brine for several intense minutes before finally turning his attention to Datameon.

“What do you make of this?” he asked the small man. He gave a thin, smile as he diverted his gaze from Brine to his king, bowing his head slightly in respect before answering.

“We are almost to Falkin. The portal is open but I do not know how much longer I can keep it open. These peasants are nothing but a distraction. Nothing but a mere nuisance. I say don’t worry about them; don’t even waste your time burying the dead.  Leave them where they lie and lets be on our way. The sooner we can get there, the faster we can overtake the sorceresses’ world and gain control. Once we have placed the Permanente stoppers, we can cross back and make those outlaws suffer in ways you could never imagine."

Haden smiled a sly smile. The taste of power thick on his tongue. “Yes.” He said with a wicked little grin, drool building up in the corners of his mouth. “I’ll use the sorceress’s magic to pull their entrails out and shave their limbs off one by one. I’ll let them bleed out slowly. They will beg for days to die. They will be sorry they ever crossed me. I’m going to make them suffer like no one has ever suffered before.” He had a faraway look in his eye as he dreamed of the bloodshed to come.   

Brine felt sick to his stomach as Haden plotted the agonizing death of his friends and family. But he felt even sicker upon hearing Datameon say he was the one keeping the portal open and that he had a plan to keep it open forever. His heart began to race so hard inside of his chest that it caused him to start sweating profusely.

“Are you alright commander?” Datameon asked him, a hint of suspicion evident in his tone as he cocked his head and studied Brine.

“I’m fine.” He lied, trying desperately to calm himself down. “Just hungry for the taste of blood. That’s all.” Haden laughed and slapped him on the back, his thick hands almost knocking him off balance. The heavy metal of his endless rings stinging as the bands burrowed into his flesh. “That’s my boy!” He said happily. “Right then, let’s get to it!”

Over the next two days, the entire army was on high alert. They marched all day, breaking for only short periods of time at night for brief moments of rest which proved to be ever eluding as they were attacked nonstop from all directions during the night.

Hundreds of soldiers were killed in these surprise raids. The longer the journey wore on, the more on edge and exhausted the soldiers became. They had only been able to kill a small handful of their attackers, most of which were young men and women. 

Haden used the women’s deaths as an opportunity to ensure loyalty from his troops, telling them that it was women who were evil. Women who were stupid and women who kept them from their warm beds and their own whores. He reminded them that they were men, strong and righteous and that they would prevail. That the women failed because they were weak and stupid, and the gods smiled down upon his men for doing their work to protect the world and bring everyone together under the crown of the righteous.

On the final day, when Datameon finally gave the king the news he wanted to hear; that they were only a few hours from the site of the portal, he urged his men forward, pleading with them to forget their tired weary bodies. Telling them that victory was not far from theirs and that they would all be handsomely rewarded for their roles.  

Encouraged, the men suddenly found their second wind and charged ahead with new gusto, the horses hoof beats mixing with their own to create a rumbling that shook the whole world.                                

They charged across the ground like the plague, eager for victory and to rid themselves of the pests that had nipped at their ranks and kept them from arousing dreams for days.

Yabe, Gorden and Kel stood close together several yards away from their troops. “What is the plan now?” Asked Yabe. “They don’t seem to be going anywhere that makes any sense.”                                        

Gorden Grimaced. “Yes they are. They are going to my house.” “Your house?” Questioned Kel. “What could they possibly want with your house?” Asked Yabe. Both men stared at him like he’d completely lost his mind.

“We are in big trouble.” Gorden sighed, shaking his head and scratching his scruffy chin as he  looked to the heavens for guidance. Of course, none was offered. He had to figure this out on his own. “I thought you had people on the inside.”  Yabe asked.

Gorden refocused his attention on Yabe and blinked several times. “I do, but two people against an army of that stature isn’t exactly enough to turn the tables. They did what we needed them to do; protect the Queen. But now I don’t know what we are supposed to do. Something has gone very, very wrong. I don’t know how they found out about the portal.” “What portal?” Yabe asked suspiciously, cutting him off.

Gorden licked his lips nervously. He hadn’t meant to mention the portal. Kel’s hand was slowly making its way to the long sword on his hip. Gorden swallowed and sighed a defeated sigh.

“It’s how I knew king Jarone was dead and where to find you in the woods. We stumbled through it on accident. The worlds have lined up and Haden is out to destroy us all. We met some sorceresses in the mirror world who helped us realize what must be done to stop it. They said the pull of the worlds aligning was making Haden much bolder than he would have normally been for conquest. They said we only needed to distract him for two weeks then the portal would close and although he would still try to conquer our world, his lust for dominance wouldn’t be as strong then we could stop him ourselves on our own time.                                                                       

"All we had to do was distract him for a couple of weeks so that he wouldn’t destroy our world and kill us all. I don’t understand though. That was almost a month ago and he hasn’t slowed down. He has only sped up. And if he is going to my house, that means he knows where the portal is. I fear that it means the portal is still open, and if it is, then we are all doomed. The Sorceresses said that if the portal was forced open for too long, then the bridges would snap under the pressure of the revolving worlds and both planets would die a certain, terrible death.”

Kel and Yabe stared at Gorden in horror. They were both educated men who knew of the bonds between the two worlds, but that didn’t stop them from being skeptical. “Are you sure?” Asked Kel. “Maybe it was just a terrible night mare. Surely the bridges haven’t opened up already. There is no way that it’s already been long enough.” Yabe offered.

Gorden shook his head. “No. I’m positive it happened.  The people on the inside are my son and a sorceress that closely resembles Queen Valencia.”   

“What about me?” Queen Valencia’s voice drifted through the air as she trotted up to join the men, dismounting her large brown mare and smoothing the wrinkles out of the purple dress Janna had let her borrow.  

The Three men bowed to her as she gazed over them all with her ice blue eyes, coming at last to rest upon Gorden. “What were you saying about me?” She asked him in her deep, low icy tone, thick ringlets of her raven black hair falling across her cheeks.

“Forgive me your majesty, I was not speaking ill of you.” He said, bowing deeply. “I never said you were.” She replied, her voice freezing his heart. “But what were you saying about a sorceress?” Gorden swallowed as his heart worked profusely to melt the icicles engulfing it.

“I got King Haden off of your trail because my son and I were sucked into the mirror world where we met several sorceresses, one of whom bares a striking resemblance to you, the only difference being the color of your eyes.”

She stifled a small gasp as she scrutinized him. “Impossible.” She whispered in a dismissive tone. “I’m afraid not.” He whispered back, hanging his head and studying the ground. She watched him for a moment, noting the way he looked at the ground and reading his posture. Realizing that there was no way he could be trying to deceive her now.

“Has she any power to stop them?” She asked. Gorden looked up, slightly surprised by her question. “I’m afraid not.” He said at last. She studied him hard for a moment, lost in thought as they held each other’s gaze. “Are there more?” She asked at length. “Yes, on the other side of the portal.” 

“And Haden knows about the portal then, that’s why he didn’t return to Galanda?” “I believe so.” “What happens if he enters the portal?” She asked. “I don’t know. But if the portal is still open, then I fear our time is running out. The sorceresses on the other side are holding it open as long as they can so that Taddy can go home, but time is running out and soon we will all die. When the bridges snap, both of the worlds will be blown to smithereens.”  

“I see.” She responded, playing with her moist lips. The darkness of her hair, the coolness of her eyes and the richness of the deep purple dress reminding him of winter. “Then I guess we have no choice left but to let them go or stop them long enough to close the portal. Tactics aside, we must end this now.” “But your majesty, charging in without heed is a fool’s errant. They will slaughter us where we stand.” Yabe chimed in.

"They are too focused on reaching the portal to care about killing all of us. I would rather die trying to defend my home than sitting and waiting for it to be blown up. Gorden is right. If everything he has said is true, the portal has been open far too long and the bridges could snap at any minute. We need to distract them long enough for the sorceress to slip back into her own world. Then the bridges will close and we can fight our own way, but for the moment, we are out of time and we must act quickly.”

“Yes your majesty.” Yabe said, giving her a stiff bow. He did not agree with her one bit, but he knew better than to argue. She mounted her horse and waited for the men to do the same. Once everyone was saddled, she lifter her short sword into the air, stood up in the stirrups of her horse and dug in her heels. As the horse took off in a gallop towards their army, she took in a deep breath of air, threw her head back and yelled as loud as she could. “Charrrrrge!”

 

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