Richard advanced, leaving the others behind. He knew what he must do. It had been told, years before hand, what he had to do. It was up to him to save everyone from these evil people. For some reason, he felt like he knew exactly what he was doing. He almost felt controlled, yet he was very calm and relaxed. Even though he swore he wouldn’t fight Zarha, it all seemed to make sense. He had been destine to fight him.
“Fight him, and you will die,” he heard Katie said. She understood, the same as he, what had to be done. She knew that it had to be him who would have to kill this man. It was all up to Richard to do as he was born to do.
He was going to kill Zarha for what he did to Katie. He almost killed her. Richard would not forget. He was also going to kill Zarha for what he did to Brianna. He would pay for what he did to her.
Richard felt a power surging through the sword and into his hands. His mind went blank as he advanced. This was it, the faith of the world rested on his shoulders. He feared not to lose or for the battle that was about to happen. He only feared that Brianna still wouldn’t be the same after Zarha was killed.
His feet moved without him having to think about it. He marched forward, ready. He watched Zarha coming at him at a run. Everything seemed to be slowed down. He heard Zarha shouting something, but he did not bother to comprehend what he said. He simple walked.
Words rang through his mind as he took another step forward.
Do not bother taking extra steps in this battle. You will win by your gut and instinct only. Now is your chance to prove that you are the one from the prophecies. But do not let him taunt you into battle. Take him as he would take you. Do not play fair.
Zarha’s sword went over his head in a rush. Richard watched. Zarha was standing in front of him, the sword coming down. Richard just watched. His own sword was held to his side. He did not even bother to bring it up. He knew what he had to do.
He sidestepped Zarha’s attack. Zarha was ready for such a tactic. He didn’t go off balance, but simple spun and attacked Richard from behind. Richard spun, as if in slow motion, and parried the attack. He hadn’t even meant to raise his sword, but his body acted on its own will.
Zarha struck at him. Richard blocked the attack. He didn’t even bother counterattacking. He didn’t want to waste energy needlessly. He would attack when there was an opening.
Zarha was pretty good at keep his body blocked. He was an excellent fighter. He knew his tactics and was ready for Richard, should he decide to attack back. He spun in a quick motion and went to attack Richard from behind again.
Richard spun, blocking the attack and throwing Zarha off balance. Instead of taking advantage of his opening, Richard allowed him to get his feet and turn. Zarha looked mildly surprised that Richard hadn’t kill him when he had the chance. He laughed, thinking Richard hadn’t noticed it.
“You are good with the fancy movements, but you don’t want to kill!” he mocked. Richard ignored him. He spun when Zarha was busy mocking him. Zarha flinched back, but Richard didn’t hit him. He missed, wanting to scare him.
Zarha pulled a hand up. Resting upon his palm was what appeared to be a a sphere of light. It spun on his palm, letting off rays of light. Richard was dazzled by it. A moment later, Zarha flicked his wrist and sent the sphere flying at Richard.
“No!” Richard heard Katie scream.
Only a second past before the sphere collided with Richard. Instead of burning, like Richard had expected, his body seemed to absorb it. It warmed his skin and he felt revitalized.
Zarha was watching Richard with wide eyes.
“How is that possible?” Zarha whispered. “Why didn’t my magic kill you?”
Richard knew the gods were protecting him.
Seconds later, Zarha recovered.
“No matter. I’ll still kill you,” Zarha shouted.
Zarha spun, trying to take whatever advantage he could get. Richard parried and twirled around. The fight almost seemed like a strange dance. All of Richard’s moved were smooth. Zarha’s attacks and thrusts were jerked and quick.
Richard, getting bored of the fight, spun and thrust his sword out. Zarha blocked the attack and swung while Richard’s sword was above his head. The blade ate flesh.
Richard found that a shocking amount of blood gushed from his wound. He did not seem to be affected from the wound. He still moved with graceful arcs. He heard Katie shouting something from behind him.
Zarha was grinning. He let out a maniac laugh.
“You see? You cannot defeat me,” he laughed.
“Release Brianna,” Richard said. This made Zarha laugh all the more.
“Persuade me,” Zarha mocked.
Richard spun. His sword knew exactly where to go. In the spin, Richard allowed his mind to find a blank calm inside his head.
In that calm blank, Katie was there. Her perfect smile brightened everything. Her grace seemed to power Richard. Her shining blue eyes seemed to give Richard all the strength he needed. At the moment, he fought only to keep her face.
As soon as Richard’s mind found the calm, his blade glowed bright orange. The hilt of the sword grew warm beneath his fingers. His sword flew in a wide graceful arc. Richard pulled the last of his strength and thought of the only person who would ever mean anything to him.
One second, Zarha was grinning and laughing. The next, he was one his knees, the smile gone, and his hands covering the deadly blow Richard’s sword gave him. His sword hit the ground with a loud clang.
Zarha’s eyes looked back up at Richard’s. He gave a sputtering gasp as he fell to the ground. Richard watched him with disgust for a moment before taking a few steps away. He sighed as the pain of his wound took him to his knees.
He heard Katie shout again. Footsteps told him that they were coming. Richard was glad. Katie would be there with him. The only pressing thing was that he had to get Katie out of enemy territory.
Katie’s hand came onto Richard’s back. She lowered herself down next to him and reached out to touch his wound. Richard knew her strength and magic was low. She hadn’t even been able to heal her own wound all the way.
The thought that scared him was that he knew she would give her own life to save him. Even if she used all of her remaining strength, at least she knew she had healed him. It was likely she would die if she did that.
“No,” he said, thinking quickly. “We have to get out of here first.”
“Richard, I have to heal you first,” she said.
Richard stood. His head spun, but he was able to keep his feet.
“Here,” Ridley said, handing Richard a small glass bottle. He knew what it was. It was the holy water he and Katie had talked about before. “Drink it and you’ll be able to heal yourself again.”
“Why couldn’t he heal himself before?” Katie asked him.
“Probably because of the strength it took to fight and kill Zarha. Zoey told me that magic took its toll after a while,” Ridley answered.
“But I wasn’t using magic,” Richard said, pulling the topper off the little bottle.
“You may not have noticed, Richard, but you were glowing the same color as your sword. You were using a lot of magic to fight against Zarha,” Robert said.
Richard looked startled.
“Drink,” Katie whispered to him.
Richard brought the bottle to his lips and dumped the clear liquid into his mouth. The effects were instant. He felt something rush through his body. It was warm and ran the length of his body in seconds. He felt his strength coming back and the wound on his arm healing. The skin lit up and he could actually see the skin knitting itself back together. It was amazing.
Richard found that his knees were weak. As suddenly as his strength was returned, it was sapped away again. Ridley quickly pulled Richard’s arm over his head and began to drag him down a hall. Katie grabbed his other arm and did the same. Robert ran ahead and made sure everything was clear.
In a matter of minutes, they were climbing back into the hatch. Robert went first, then Richard, Ridley, and Katie. Richard noticed that Katie paused before she dropped in after them. Ridley reached up and pulled the hatch down. The place was smothered in darkness.
“Where is the light?” Katie asked Ridley.
“It goes out after a while. There is no way to turn it on from here,” he answered.
“So we have to travel through the darkness?” she asked. As soon as she said it, her ring glowed brightly, lighting many feet in front of her. The glow of the ring was the same blazing glow of orange that Richard’s blade had shone.
“I guess not,” Ridley murmured. He gestured for her to lead the way. Ridley and Robert helped Richard walk down the tunnel. Richard kept him sword out and his eyes on Katie.
After a few minutes, she said, “There it is.” Robert took all of Richard’s weight as Ridley walked over to open the hatch. He climbed through first and told Robert to help push Richard up. Together, they were able to get Richard up to the top. Richard saw Katie glance at the dead creature that had attacked her.
They quickly walked along the same path it took for them to get to the hatch. Katie was the first to spot the horses. She quickly ran ahead and began to untie them. Richard didn’t let her out of his sight.
When they stopped, Richard lowered himself to the ground. He replaced his sword in its sheath. Richard sat down on the grass. His head spun and he laid it upon the grass.
Katie’s head came into view. Her wide eyes told him that she was very concerned for him.
“Are you okay? Can you make it back to the palace?” she asked him. He nodded. “Can I see the wound?”
Richard carefully pulled his shirt away. As he did so, he felt a sharp pain. There on his skin was still a large gash.
“Why didn’t it heal?” Richard asked. Ridley looked concerned, but shrugged. Katie placed her hand over the wound.
“No!” Richard shouted at her.
“What?” she asked, her voice shaking.
“I don’t want you to use up all your strength,” he answered.
“Richard, you are more hurt than I am. It looks like the holy water didn’t heal you very well. I have enough strength to at least heal you,” she said.
“What about your own wound?” he asked.
“It’s nothing to worry about. Just a small scratch now,” she said, showing him. Indeed it was now a small scratch. It looked like her magic was slowly healing it. Katie placed her hand over his wound again and closed her eyes.
Light, a pearly white color, ran over Richard’s body. It warmed him from within. He watched Katie. Her brow twitched suddenly. She gave a slight gasp, but did not open her eyes. To Richard, it almost looked like it hurt her.
The warmth intensified. He couldn’t feel the pain anymore. It seemed to melt away with the warmth that Katie gave him. He smiled, feeling sleepy. He felt himself slipping into blackness. He thought of Katie, and held tightly to his mind. He didn’t want to black out now.
As the warmth started to fade, Katie’s face began to relax. The tingle ended and Richard felt a cold blow of air. He looked up at Katie. She opened her eyes and smiled, but her brow was wrinkled.
“What?” he asked as she pulled him into a sitting position.
“It hurt,” she said.
“What did?” he asked. He gingerly touched his stomach, but found it whole. He had blood on his shirt, but he appeared to be fine.
“Healing you,” she said. He pulled himself up and stood. He gave her a concerned look.
“Why? What was different?” he asked her. She shook her head that she didn’t know.
“All that matters is that you are okay,” she whispered, pulling him into a hug. He embraced her.
Richard turned and saw that the horses were ready. Robert didn’t have a horse, since he left it when he had entered the prison. He told them that he snuck in the front entrance, leaving his horse somewhere near there. He didn’t want to go back and get it, so he was fine with riding on Katie’s. She was to ride with Richard on his horse. Richard smiled.
They all climbed atop their horses and kicked them into a run. They had a long ride ahead in the dark. Richard felt his eyes droop, but he would not allow himself to fall asleep.
Katie, sitting behind him on the horse, placed her head on his back. He heard her give a deep sigh. Her hands wrapped around his waist. He was glad for that much, because it helped keep him awake.
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