|When Gods Die
Author: Strawberiwine18 PM
Eleanor was just a girl trying to cope with her tragic past and a vacant father when Aric stumbled into the tiny town of Provence. Together they discover that their histories are intertwined - buried deep in myths of an ancient land the world has forgotten.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,919 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 02-05-13 - Published: 01-04-11 - id: 2879444
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thunder rolled in the distance and she cowered closer to Aithon wishing to make herself as small as possible. Just keep going, she told herself over and over. Reaching him was all that mattered now. She had half a night's ride on an injured horse. Resilient as Aithon was, the others would easily cover twice the distance in half their time. The ride was treacherous, though, the ground was slick from melting snow and gnarled by the roots of old trees that grew too close together. She was one rider whose horse knew the terrain against their many; they'd be forced to stick to the road and that could work to her advantage. Aithon heaved and snorted, his swollen belly trembling beneath her and she could feel his body wanting to quit. It will all be over soon, she whispered hoping that her companion would make it.
The trees began to thin and the stars were once again visible between the entagled branches. Ahead of them a shadow rose from the earth, jutting into the sky like a beacon in the night. She had made it. The gate keeper, a robust silhouette, stood in the watch tower's archway, his bow trained on her heart. She called out to him demanding that he lower his weapon and the gate.
They're coming, she warned over the echo of Aithon's hooves. A final pathetic whinny came out as little more than a breath and suddenly the two were tumbling end over end, her body colliding – hard – with the cobblestone over and over until, finally, she came to rest several feet from Aithon's body. A guard appeared at her side, she pushed him away, insisting he tend to the dying horse instead. She stumbled to her feet calling His name as fear swelled inside of her. In the darkness, the castle became overwhelming and disorienting, with every turn she found herself more and more panicked. Her body was exhausted and aching, and as her heart pounded wildly in her chest she stole a glance out over the castle walls trying to find something by which to navigate. Cutting through the mountainside was a winding red glow of cavalry torches. Time had run out.
Rounding a corner she hoped that he would suddenly appear, taking her in his arms and assuring her that it was all just a misunderstanding. She wanted to wake from this nightmare, for the danger to exist only in her mind and for him to say that it was all over now. But she knew the truth. She'd stood in the middle of battle and saw for herself what was coming for them. So she called - her voice shrill - until, finally, a light flickered ahead of her. One by one other light's appeared around the castle. Below, hushed voices rose from the courtyard. At the end of the corridor he stumbled out in his night clothes, brushing back his hair and looking around in confusion.
"They're coming!" She sobbed, falling to his feet as she was overcome with relief.
He cursed, lifting her to his feet and holding her close and then turned to Ithas, his oldest and most trusted advisor who had appeared in the corridor, "protect the castle at all costs."
"Good god." Someone gasped at the sight of the approaching army.
"Sir, we must warn the Argo, if the others…" Ithas trailed off.
"There isn't any time we mus – "
"They know." She interrupted, clawing at his chest, "they know."
"Go then!" He yelled, pushing Ithas as if to shake his disbelief.
The old man bowed and then disappeared into the chaos.
He turned to her, "you must find Arke; she will know what to do."
She shook her head, unwilling to leave his side. She felt safest when she was with him and now, more than ever, she needed to feel safe. He wasn't harsh with her, the way he had been with Ithas, but she knew by the look in his eyes that she must do what he asked of her. Around them the castle had come to life. Women wove through the shadowed corridors, embarrassed to be seen in their night robes. Clinging to them were the tiny hands of sleep confused children. Men, young and old, ran past with weapons in their hands, uncertainty tightening their jaws. She would find Arke, taking with her any women and childre she found along the way and lead them to their last hope of escape.
Somehow, amid the confusion, she found Arke begging an indignant old woman to leave her husband for the safety of the tunnels. After a minute of arguing Arke seized the woman by her shoulders and gave her an exasperated shake. Mortified, the woman ran to join a group of passing women. She called to the young girl, hoping to be heard over the commotion, and pointed towards the south wall.
"Is that everyone?" She asked after they had filled the tunnels with all the women and children they could find.
Arke looked around, shaking, "I can only hope."
Arke stepped back, closing her eyes and bowing her head, resolved to face her fate.
"Go with them, Arke." She took Arke by the arm and pulled her into the tunnels after the refugees, "you know these tunnels far better than I. It must be you that leads them to safety. Get word to the others of what has happened here –"
"Surely you will not stay! My lady, I cannot take your place, I will not leave you –"
"You must! For their sake, please." She pointed to the terrified faces behind them, "The time for arguing has long passed. Go now, Arke."
She threw her arms around Arke who had begun to sob into her hands. Arke seemed hesitant at first but then quickly embraced the girl she'd been charged with looking after. With a great deal of tenderness she kissed Arke's forehead and pushed her away before closing the heavy stone doors as quickly as she could, knowing the two would never see each other again.
She stared at the sealed off entrance for a moment, her last hope of survival now gone, taking with it her closest friend. The courtyard erupted with the cries of battle as the torches were now right outside the castle walls and stretching on into the distance. There was no hope for any of them. All those who had stayed behind knew their fate. Despite the call of death, they stood proud and defiant, their weapons in hand. All that would happen here tonight was for her. She was what the cavalry sought to destroy and the very thing they had vowed to protect.
"What are you doing here?" He caught her by the elbow as she came into the courtyard, a bow in hand.
"I won't leave you."
His eyes flickered, a mixture of anger and regret at her decision. It mattered little, though, they would stand together and they would die together.
"Menoetius, my sword!"
"One last time m'lord?" Menoetius smiled.
"I have enjoyed your company most my old friend."
"It will be a pleasure to die fighting at your side."
He turned to her again, his lips moving, but she couldn't hear him over the men chanting around them; they had all caught sight of a single flaming arrow soaring over the wall behind him. The battle had begun.