Chapter 20:

Laurel's Revenge

It had been over a month since Laurel had 'met' with all the Great Kings, and so far, all of the Kingdoms had paid up... except for the Drow Kingdom. It hadn't been a very large payment she requested. Merely three chests full of gold every month. It wasn't even the money Laurel was interested in, it was the assurance that she had control over all of them, and they had gotten her message.

Naturally, the Drow wouldn't bend to her will. In fact, Laurel had been counting upon their refusal for some time now. She wanted her revenge on that kingdom that had tormented her so much she could taste it. This refusal to pay would be her opportunity, she had given them fair warning, so it wasn't as if they weren't expecting this attack.

Laurel grinned, popping her knuckles through her gloves, then flexed her fingers. She was back in her usual attire, looking dark and fierce as usual. She adjusted the band on her head, and moved her hair back into its rightful place.

"What's the occasion, Lord Darkstorm?" A female voice asked, the sound echoing through the great room Laurel occupied.

"Just going to pay a visit to some... relatives of mine," Laurel said, chuckling evilly over the last part. She stepped back from the mirror, and spun around so she could face Nyx, the name she had recently given to the female Descendant dragon.

"Relatives, eh? What's the occasion? Family reunion? You finally getting hold of the throne of the Drow Kingdom? Oh, I know... revenge..." Nyx said, her yellow eyes flashing in amusement.

Laurel nodded and laughed, then held her arms out to her sides. "How do I look?"

"Dark. Evil... like you eat children for breakfast, or at least have no problem killing them..." Nyx said observantly, holding her chin and walking around Laurel.

"Well, that's not too far from the truth..." Laurel said, running fingers through her silky white hair. "I have killed a baby before... it was like I am..."

"You really killed a baby? Now that's amusing, Laurel," Nyx said, an evil giggle attaching itself to the end of her words.

Laurel nodded, and looked back in the mirror, fussing over her pants and a wrinkle that seemed to have formed on them. She frowned at it, then shrugged, dismissing it as unnoticeable unless one was really looking at her legs. She knew she wouldn't let any of them look that low.

"So... you going to go straight for the ruler there, or are you going to work your way inland towards the capital, Laurel? And how much of the army are you taking?" Nyx asked after a short silence between them.

Laurel shook her head. "I'm only going to attack one town as a warning. And I'm not taking any of the army, it'll just be Moraster and me."

"Only... wow that's brave, Laurel," Nyx replied, sounding a little surprised.

"It's a small town, but it will at least send a shockwave throughout their kingdom. Some important people live there, including two great assassins. Hopefully this will ruffle them into submitting," Laurel said, beginning to walk out of the room. Nyx followed close behind her.

"They are Drow though, probably the most headstrong race out there..." Nyx said, the faraway sound in her voice told Laurel she was merely thinking out loud.

"Right, that's why I didn't think that a simple threat was going to be enough to scare them into submission. But violence just might," Laurel said softly, but the sound reverberated in the tall hallway anyway.

Nyx stopped, and Laurel grinned, knowing that the dragon had just figured it out. "You wanted them not to submit, didn't you? You wanted an excuse to attack them. If that is the case, though... why are you not taking an army?"

Laurel turned around, and gave Nyx a smile that made the dragon feel like an ant in the presence of the most powerful being in existence. Nyx suddenly felt very afraid. "Because, my dear Nyx, I was the one that destroyed Urad and without much resistance. What could one small Drowish border town possibly do to stop me?"

Laurel turned back down the hallway, and began to walk out the doors. She knew Moraster was already getting ready for their journey. It would take a while before they got to Grenhise, and Laurel didn't want to be in any rush to go.

Nyx merely stood at the top of the last set of stairs, and stared down at the retreating form of Laurel. That girl... is insane...

Heralia flipped up the bottom of her shirt again, and cursed. Her stomach was definitely beginning to round out, now. She wouldn't be able to hide it from Lunas any longer at this rate. She thought she had been doing a good job, dismissing the morning sickness as her merely having a flu, and nothing more, but if Lunas had been fooled by that little act, she knew her stomach would betray her for this one. She couldn't hide this pregnancy any longer, she had to tell him.

With a defeated sigh, Heralia walked out of the bedroom, and into the main room. Surprisingly enough, Lunas wasn't there. She took a deep breath, and headed for the door to the outside. She paused with her hand on the latch, and let her mind run over the exact sequence of things she was going to tell him. When she was satisfied, she opened the door, and prepared to find him outside nearby. However, even as she raised herself onto her toes, she still couldn't see Lunas anywhere.

Where is he when you need him? Heralia growled to herself. She turned around, and began stalking back into the house, when a dark shadow passed overhead. She craned her neck back, and put a hand up to shield her eyes from the sun. What she saw nearly made her fall on her rear.

It was, as far as she could tell, Moraster flying way up above the valley. Heralia and Lunas had settled into Fyanor Valley not long after Laurel left with Moraster to go to the Sanguinaquia. As far as Heralia could tell, Laurel's quest had succeeded, or at least, she wasn't dead yet.

"Heralia!" Called a voice, and she turned around to find Lunas sprinting full speed towards her. He skidded to a halt next to her, and pointed into the sky.

"I know, I saw it. It looks like Laurel's still alive," Heralia said softly, wrapping both her arms around one of Lunas'. The elf merely stood there, and watched the dragon's form get... larger? Heralia gasped.

"She's landing... here?" Heralia asked, sounding dumbstruck. "But... there's gotta be a dozen Dragonriders here..."

"No..." Lunas shook his head. "They've been ordered not to attack her. About a month ago, all of the Great Kings were called to a meeting outside of Urad to discuss what was going on with Laurel. Problem was... she found out about it, and showed up, threatening an all-encompassing war upon them if they didn't basically bow down to her. If the Dragonriders attack her here, then I'm sure she'll bring down the very mountains on top of them, and destroy all of Tyfor when she's done with that. They'll not attack her."

"You make it sound like she actually can, Lunas..." Heralia said, shrugging.

Lunas looked down to her, and shook his head again. "Heralia, she can if she wants to. You saw as well as I did what happened to Urad."

"But that was just a city... these mountains are..." Heralia laughed. "I get it, you were exaggerating."

Lunas sighed. "Not by much."

Heralia looked up at him, confused and shocked, her mind still not registering that Laurel could do such a thing. "Well... are we going to go... greet her?"

Lunas shook his head. "No. Not now. We're going to follow her again. I have a feeling I know where she's going."

Heralia stared at Lunas, her jaw slightly slack. "We're going to go after her again? Why?"

Lunas smiled at her cryptically. "Because, Heralia. I want to see how this plays out."

"You said that once before..." Heralia noted, following after Lunas as he started back inside.

"I know, but now I think things are going to get a lot more interesting," Lunas laughed, and Heralia felt a cold chill go down her spine. She had completely forgotten to tell him about the child, and figured by now she wasn't going to today.

Clopclop clopclop clopclop

The Drowish messenger kicked the sides of the horse harder, urging the already panting stallion to move faster. He had to get his message to Grenhise as soon as he possibly could. The stallion was about to fall down under the strain, so the Drow pulled the reigns back violently, and jumped off the horse, leaving the ungulate to fall on the ground panting. He began sprinting the last few miles left until he reached Grenhise.

The message he carried was from King Caltonn, it was important but short.

The bastard half-breed of my brother's is finally returning home. Prepare a suitable welcome for her when she arrives. Some of my guards should be there in two day's time to bring her to me. Don't let her escape before that!

The sky was the deep purple of twilight just before full darkness. The Drow knew he would make it to the town just as night fully established itself, and the largest moon, Yzram, began to rise.

The air around the messenger stirred, and he stopped, confused. He could feel an intense power from somewhere behind him, and he turned around to make sure there wasn't some sort of predatory woodland creature behind him. He barely had time to scream as he was crushed in the maw of a massive black dragon. The scroll he had been carrying flew past the dragon's head, and into the black gloved hand of the young half-breed.

Laurel laughed as she unrolled the scroll, and looked it over. Ah, so they were being warned about her, and Caltonn was arrogant enough to think they would be able to keep her.

Laurel tossed the bloody scrap of paper over her shoulder, and patted Moraster on the base of his neck. Not much time left now...

Moraster nodded mentally to Laurel, and banked sharply upward. They were going to approach the town from high up in the sky.

Below, two shadowy figures of horses and their riders jumped over the now still form of the messenger's horse.

"Damn it, she managed to pass us again..." Heralia cursed, leaning heavily forward on the back of her horse.

"It's alright, Grenhise is just over this hill," Lunas called back, banking the horse to the side to avoid a small rock sticking up in the middle of the path.

"So what are we going to do when we get there?" Heralia asked. "It sounds like she's going to rip that place a new one..."

"We watch from the shadows," Lunas answered.

"That still sounds really dangerous..." Heralia gulped nervously. "And... you won't be able to do anything if she attacks, will you?"

"No," Lunas answered truthfully, without even a pause to think it over.

Laurel grinned as Moraster adjusted his pitch so they were now diving straight towards Grenhise. She could see the glow of the windows, and after a few seconds, she could make out a figure at the window of her old house.

Moraster... announce our arrival... Laurel chuckled, her voice dripping with bloodlust.

Are you sure you'd rather not sneak attack them? Moraster asked, sounding impassive at Laurel's tone, though to be honest, her thirst for vengeance scared him a little.

No... I'm now their ruler, and they should know when their leader arrives, Laurel snapped back, her voice sounding suddenly impatient. Announce it, Moraster... oh you have no idea how long I've wanted this... As if to reinforce her words, both of the Bloodstones she wore throbbed red.

Moraster opened his mouth, and let out a frightfully loud roar. The very mountains around them echoed the noise, and made it sound so much worse. Laurel could see the doors of several cottages open, and their inhabitants come out. Moraster angled down more sharply before pulling back, and flapping his wings until he came to rest on the ground. He kept his wings partially spread, shielding Laurel from the view of the crowd.

"What's going on here? What the hell's a stupid dragon doing this far north?" Asked a loud, snide voice.

Laurel grinned with nothing but evil intent, and stood up on the saddle. She turned to the side just as Moraster folded in his wings. With one fluid motion she leapt from his back, and fell towards the ground. A few inches from the rocky surface, something caught her, and she floated the rest of the way down, landing gracefully on the ground. Moraster growled, and the air around Laurel shifted as he took off into the air. Her cape billowed out behind her like demonic wings.

"Hey look! Is that the pathetic mutt come back to her masters? What a stupid dog," The voice taunted again, and Laurel turned her cold, dark gaze on the little boy. He hadn't aged much if all since she last saw him.

"So I guess you just couldn't get enough of the beatings, huh? Well don't worry, I've got plenty of those ready for you, you damned mutt," he said again, challenging her look as his mother stepped up behind him.

"Shut up. Your immaturity still shows, Frija," Laurel said, her voice unnervingly calm. "You still think you can push people around like you used to."

"Don't talk to my son like that, you bastard child!" Frija's mother screeched at Laurel. The noise made her wince.

"I said... shut up!" Laurel barked. An intense gust of wind hit the mother and son, and picked them up, sending them through the walls of a nearby house.

"Oh, so you gain a little power, and you think that's enough to come back and think you're better than us?! I think not!" Bellowed the blacksmith. Laurel turned a grimace of distaste upon the oddly burly Drow.

He raised his blacksmith hammer, and charged at her. Laurel regarded him calmly, an unnerving apathy in her eyes. The blacksmith hadn't even traveled ten steps before a chunk of the very earth beneath him was torn from the rest of it, and sent hurtling into the air. The chunk of rock flipped over, and the blacksmith fell hollering to the ground. The rock began spinning around, and soon enough became a swirling fiery meteor in the sky, which promptly was sent flying at the dazed blacksmith. The magic-made meteor exploded on the dark form of the blacksmith, and rained fiery chunks everywhere. The pieces caught two nearby houses on fire, and suddenly the main area of the village was illuminated by the burning houses.

"Good idea, let's have some light here," Laurel laughed, and several fireballs appeared in the air around her, throwing themselves into all the houses near her, including the one Frija and his mother had been sent into.

The villagers had all gathered in the center of the houses, away from Laurel, but facing her. Jeers came from the crowd, and promises of torture when they did capture her. Laurel rolled her eyes at them all, then smirked. The crowd seemed to falter a little, when a bolt of blood red lightning was sent crashing into their midst. The impact formed an explosion, which sent easily half the crowd flying in all directions.

Laurel laughed at the confusion this sent the Drow into. "That's right... you are unworthy to be me..."

"Damn you!" screamed someone Laurel had trouble recognizing, but at the bolt of blue lightning heading her direction she knew who it was. With impossible speed, a great shelf of the earth itself slid upwards out of the ground, and absorbed the impact of the lightning, then slid back down as easily. Laurel used her magic to pick up the largest chunks of rock that had been sloughed off in the attack, and sent them hurtling at the one who had cast the spell.

The first chunk caught him in the diaphragm, rendering him useless to casting again. The second, a sharp sliver, severed his neck halfway through, and the third chunk, a massive, blunt object hit him in the forehead, and removed his head.

Laurel threw her head back, and laughed, as random bolts of her powerful red lightning were tossed at gathering groups of the Drow, or at individuals. Within seconds the less than hundred Drow that originally inhabited the village were down to six. Her 'mother', and Bardiral being two.

Laurel stared down at them, every one of the Drow except the two Laurel knew personally were armed, ready to take her down. One of them charged foolishly early, and was struck in the head by a rock, before being torn asunder by lightning. The remaining Drow in the village cowered back slightly.

"What's the matter? Are you afraid of me?" Laurel taunted, her laugh making her sound like she wasn't all there. Another bolt of lightning struck out, and hit two of the remaining Drow. That left Laurel's 'mother', Bardiral, and what looked like Bardiral's wife.

Laurel began to walk slowly towards them, like a large predator that has its prey up against a wall.

"Laurel, please," begged her surrogate mother. Laurel laughed at the pitiful squeak her 'mother's' voice had taken on.

"Please what? Spare your lives? Those people who... in all of your worrying about yourselves let me suffer? Who do you think you are?! Do you even know what the hell I went through?! You can't possibly know what it was like, you who lived with acceptance! I didn't even have that!" Laurel screamed, her eyes narrowing into slits as she glared at them. She clenched her fists until she was sure that if she wasn't wearing gloves, her palms would be bleeding. The air around her crackled with red lightning as she stared down the survivors of her attack.

"Laurel please, don't... we only did what we were ordered to d-" Bardiral's wife started, but she never got to finished as her body was exploded into many pieces by a powerful bolt of Laurel's lightning.

"You only did what you were ordered to do... do you know how weak Caltonn is? Have you ever felt his power before? You can guess which of the brothers inherited all the power. Many people hate Caltonn, you know," Laurel continued, the madness in her voice painfully evident as she started to ramble. "It would've been easy to just depose him... so why didn't you?"

Bardiral stared in shock at the charred remains of his wife, his brain not registering what Laurel was saying. In fact, both of the elder Drow seemed to be stunned into silence. Laurel glared at them impatiently, but continued.

"I don't get it..." she said, her voice cracking. "What is so bad about being with a human...? Why... why is it such a crime? Why did... why did you two have to kill my mother...?"

Bardiral looked slowly in Laurel's direction, and shook his head, trying to find his voice, and failing. It was Laurel's 'mother' that finally answered.

"Not only was it because we were ordered to... but... at the time it felt like it needed to be done... to get rid of any evidence of what we thought at the time was a 'sinful' crime," She explained slowly, not moving at all from her spot.

"Then why not kill me?" Laurel asked, her voice dropping back down into its normal pitch, and gaining an edge of razor sharp ice.

"I know the answer to that," Bardiral said at last, standing up slowly and showing Laurel his hands so she knew he wasn't going to attack her. "Because... it wasn't your time to go. It seems that your fate is so set in stone that nothing else will kill you."

Laurel laughed this time, her head tilting back and her stomach heaving at the force of it. She wiped a stray tear from her eye, and looked back at Bardiral. "You are too philosophical, my dear Bardiral. Why don't you tell me the real reason?"

Bardiral shook his head, and it was the other Drow's turn to answer the question. "Aside from the fact stated earlier. I felt sorry for you, and with enough begging we managed to get the King to spare your life, under the condition that you be kept under close watch here in Grenhise."

"Well then," Laurel stated, the bloodlust returning to her voice. "I guess you should've killed me while you still had the chance." She waved her hand, and another red bolt of lightning hurtled towards the two Drow.

Bardiral managed to dive out of the way, but his companion was not so lucky. The bolt picked her up, and threw her back thirty feet before crashing into the ground. The earth shook, and the ground around her now still body began to shift and roil until they swallowed her whole.

"Her fate... is to be buried alive... and your fate, Bardiral..." Laurel said, her voice so lacking in any type of emotion that Bardiral was completely unnerved.

"What has changed about you, Laurel?" Bardiral asked, drawing his sword, and putting it in a defensive position. He looked her over, and noted that almost everything had changed about her. Her features were the same, but so lacking in anything resembling humanity that it was scary.

"Everything," Laurel said calmly, drawing her rapier and slowly closing the gap between her and Bardiral.

"I can see that," Bardiral observed. "But where did it all go? Where is the humanity I so admired about you? What happened to your human side, the one thing none of us will ever have?"

Laurel laughed bitterly, and looked at Bardiral, her eyes barely flickering the amusement. "You all happened, that's what. I was forced into a life of... sheltered slavery, no, less than that because of all of you. Congratulations, the Drow have successfully crafted me into a mirror reflection of your own cruelty and inhumane nature... amplified by my seeing what humans really are as well."

"Then you obviously didn't look hard enough," Bardiral said, raising his sword to guard against a powerful attack from Laurel. The impact was jarring, and he knew she was using magic to make her blows do more damage.

"You know, Grayhawk said the same thing a long time ago..." Laurel said softly, raising the sword to strike down one more time. The impact overbalanced Bardiral, and he flipped over backwards, nimbly dodging away. Laurel calmly followed him.

"Who's that?" Bardiral grunted after recovering from his tumble.

"A Dragonrider," Laurel answered passingly. She shot a small fireball at Bardiral, one he managed to avoid, but got caught in the unexpected blast caused by the fireball's impact with the ground. He tumbled a few times, but managed to right himself instantly.

"A Dragonrider? You managed to befriend a Dragonrider?" Bardiral panted, shaking off the effects of the explosion.

"Yeah. An interesting fellow, actually..." Laurel replied with a laugh. Several more fireballs accompanied her words, and Bardiral had to quickly erect a shield of ice in front of him to absorb the fire. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, and the last fireball got through, hitting him square in the stomach and carrying him a good distance back.

Bardiral grunted, and used his sword to help him back to his feet. He turned around, and charged Laurel, his sword raised in one of his favorite attack positions. Laurel parried, and the impact made Bardiral's teeth rattle. He managed to get close enough to her, though, to put one of his feet in her stomach, and knock her backwards. He formed several icicles in the air in front of him, and launched them at Laurel's arm, hoping to disarm her. The icicles either glanced off her chainmaille, or shattered on contact.

"What the... Forbidden Metal? So that's what happened to that town," Bardiral observed. Laurel laughed at him again, and stood up slowly, even going so far as brushing herself off.

"Yeah," she answered, smoothing out the odd dark gray skirt-like ornament around her waist. "It's really useful. It's arrow proof, blade proof, and magic resistant. You should invest in some." She held a hand out, and let loose several bolts of red lightning.

Bardiral ran as fast as he could to avoid the lightning, finally diving onto the ground, and calling up the power of earth to shield him. The ground shifted, and a wave of rock washed upward to shield him from the lightning. The first three bolts were held at bay, but suddenly a wave of power from Laurel reared up, and a particularly thick bolt of lightning shattered his earthen barrier, and struck him. But instead of completely blowing him to bits, the lightning picked him up off the ground, and tossed him all the way to the other side of town.

"I... I see..." Bardiral wheezed, his body still feeling like it was being ripped apart from the inside out. She had gotten so much more powerful, that he was very sure of. Before it was like her power was a lidded well, deep and full, but not opened. Like one day she could open it up and fend for herself easily. But now... it was so much different, like some great beast had split the well wide open, and created an endless abyss filled with power.

Bardiral knew he had absolutely no chance against Laurel now. His body convulsed once more with the leftover electric shocks from the attack, and his vision wavered. She wasn't just more powerful than him... she was better at everything, even down to picking her elements. Bardiral laughed, a dry, wheezing sound out of his charred lungs. Like most elves, Laurel had learned her elemental attacks, and as an elementalist, had chosen one element to be her most powerful. Or rather, she had two. Bardiral used ice as his element, he studied how to control it above all other elements, and it was his most powerful. Laurel on the other hand used lightning and fire, the destructive forces of the earth. Not only were they the most powerful elements, but they were the hardest to control, and the hardest to conjure. Laurel had mastered it to a level beyond anything Bardiral had ever seen.

Not only that, Bardiral thought as he called up his restorative magic to heal as much of his body as he could before Laurel bore down on him again, she could use all the other elements perfectly, and she was a better swordsman than he to boot. It was really demoralizing the more Bardiral thought about it.

Finally, his body felt well enough that he could stand up. His muscles, abused, shocked, and injured screamed in protest as he heaved himself to his feet. His hands barely had enough strength to keep hold of his sword, but he didn't dare use what little was left of his power to give himself more strength. Between defending Laurel's attacks and fencing with her, he had lost a lot of energy. Or maybe it was that the lightning absorbed his power, Bardiral thought in shock, nearly falling down. If he had had the strength, he would've shaken his head to clear his thoughts, but instead saved it for when he saw Laurel.

Which he did a moment later, watching her walk slowly out from behind a burning house to face him. Her eyebrows went up in surprise. "You survived that... but you still want to challenge me?"

Bardiral grunted to the affirmative, once again a dry, hollow sound.

Laurel laughed. "I admire your gall... my friend Bardiral... for this, your death shall be quick and painless, how does that sound?"

Bardiral wheezed a few times before whispering his answer. "As long... as I get to fight you, Laurel."

Laurel raised an eyebrow at the Drow, her amusement finally sparking to some semblance of life in her eyes. "Well then, Bardiral. A fight it shall be."

Laurel raised her sword, and pointed the tip at Bardiral. A blast of green lightning shot forth from the point, and crashed into the Drow. Bardiral winced, thinking this was going to be his last moment, when he felt the effects of the lightning wash over him. His wounds began to close up, his power returned to him, and suddenly he felt like he had before the fight had begun.

"What is..." Bardiral started, looking himself over. His clothes were still in tatters, but his body was completely healed.

"For once, Bardiral," Laurel answered his half question. "I'm going to let this fight be a fair one... I won't use that particular lightning spell on you. But in exchange, you must not, under any circumstances, fail to fight at your best. Do we have an agreement?"

Bardiral sliced the air with his sword a few times, and not once did his muscles shoot pain through his body. He was completely healed. He looked up at Laurel, and nodded. "As you wish, Lord Darkstorm."

Laurel nodded back, before settling herself into an offensive position. She charged forward, swinging her arm in a low, horizontal slash. Sparks flew in the air as the two swords met, and Bardiral shifted so he could push both of their swords up above their heads. He quickly moved his sword, and jabbed at Laurel's stomach. Laurel jumped back with inhuman speed, and tried another horizontal cut, this one aimed at his head.

Bardiral barely had time to deflect the sword and recover before another attack was launched at him. Laurel was attacking with a speed that even Bardiral had a hard time matching. He knew that even though she promised not to use that odd red lightning, he still didn't have any chance of beating her. Trained assassin or not.

Another particularly violent meeting of their two swords, and Bardiral was thrown in a pirouette until his back was to Laurel. A burning pain traced its way diagonally across his back, before a foot connected with his lower back, and sent him sprawling to the rocky ground.

"What's the matter Bardiral? I thought I told you to fight at your best," Laurel teased, and Bardiral could hear the sneer in her voice. "Come on, it should be easy to kill me, especially since my mother fell so quickly. I know it was you that almost killed me, all those years ago... whether it was my time to die or not, you should be more powerful than me, still, considering our age difference. So come on, Bardiral, fight like you mean it."

Bardiral grunted, pushing himself slowly to his feet. His back twinged in protest, but he knew the cut was not particularly deep. "Well, Laurel. If you would stop toying with me, then I might. Fight at your full potential, and I'll follow suit."

Laurel grinned maliciously at him. "That's more like it, my old friend. Then let's go!" She disappeared from in front of Bardiral, but he could follow her movement all the way behind him. He spun around right as she attacked, and deflected the powerful strike, sending her backwards a few feet, before she landed nimbly on the ground.

Now Bardiral attacked, charging her quickly, and striking just as quickly before leaping backwards and away from her. He jumped back in, and tried for another swipe so fast, that his movement came as nothing but a blur, even to himself. But Laurel deflected that one again, the evilly amused smile still gracing her features.

Bardiral was wearing himself out quickly, so he paused in his attack, and decided to let Laurel go on the offensive, which she did with earnest. Their blades connected half a dozen times in the space of only a few heartbeats. Their battle was moving so quickly, that even Lunas and Heralia, watching from the edge of the forest near the battleground, couldn't even follow it.

"Wow... that's quite the intense battle..." Heralia whispered, watching the flashes of light as Bardiral and Laurel's sword connected again and again.

"Yes... it's hard to follow it, even for me, and from this short distance. However, I can safely say that Bardiral is losing," Lunas replied, squinting his eyes at the two combatants.

"Why? Because Laurel has all that strong magic, like she used to kill all the rest of the Drow?" Heralia asked, turning to look at Lunas.

"No... because he's not supposed to be using this type of magic for so long. He conjured up a few spells to make him fast enough to match Laurel, but not only did the magic not make him as fast as her, but it's taking a good toll on his energy," Lunas observed quietly.

"You mean... he never had a chance from the beginning?" Heralia asked, raising an eyebrow at the battle.

"No one does," Lunas answered, and from the way he was silent after that, Heralia knew he wouldn't answer any more questions until he was ready.

"No one does..." she whispered softly, echoing his words. Then this whole world really is doomed...

Bardiral somehow managed to overbalance Laurel, and she stumbled past him, but just out of range of his sword. As quickly as he could, before she turned around, he sent a thick icicle at her back, hoping to knock her off balance. It didn't work, and the ice shard glanced off her shoulder, and imbedded itself in a tree a few dozen feet away.

That was when Bardiral, Lunas, Heralia, and Laurel knew it was all over.

Laurel spun around, her blade glowing white, and leaving a trail of fire behind it as it cleaved neatly through Bardiral's sword. She sliced back in the other direction, and took off his hand, cauterizing the wound immediately with the hot blade so no blood could escape. Finally, with only the slightest hint of hesitation, she swung the blade as hard as she could through his neck, and Bardiral's body fell limp to the ground, without a drop of blood falling from above his shoulders.

Laurel spun her rapier around her hand once, before easing it into the sheath. She sighed softly, and looked down at the headless body of her one-time friend. An odd pain throbbed in her chest as she stared down at him, and a few memories tried to stir up in her mind, making her feel worse than she already did. With another, deeper sigh, she picked up his head, not daring to look at his face, and set it down near his body. She took the two pieces of his sword, and fitted them back together, before conjuring up a fire spell, and making the metal pieces melt together. She turned the point of the thin sword down, and drove it into the ground just above his headless neck.

She clenched her fists once, as she walked around to the side of him, before collapsing heavily to her knees, taking off her gloves and holding one hand out palm down above his back. She whispered softly, "Great gods in the Overworld, though a sinner this Drow may be, his death was clean and noble. Great god of war, give him your blessing as he deserves, and spare him from the pits of Olle."

Bardiral's body began to glow a soft blue color, before Laurel brought her hand down on his back. Green and blue flames washed over the corpse, body and head, with Laurel's hand still in contact with his back. The flames reached higher and higher, before disappearing completely and leaving nothing but a pile of the purest white ash on the ground.

"Amazing..." whispered Lunas, his eyes wide at the sight.

"Yeah," Heralia agreed. "She's not a priest, but the gods granted her wish... wait..." Heralia gasped in surprise as Laurel stood, replaced her gloves, and turned around, looking right at them. But it wasn't that Laurel had noticed them that surprised Heralia.

"She's lost her humanity..." Lunas observed, sounding unnaturally stunned.

"There's nothing in her eyes," Heralia said at the exact same time.

Laurel began walking slowly and purposefully towards them, her eyes, empty, cold, dark, and lifeless like coals. Lunas brought his hand up to his sword, but was stopped by Laurel raising her hand up, and shaking her head. She was headed right for Heralia now, and the young girl felt her knees start shaking.

Laurel stopped a scant inch in front of Heralia, and looked down into the girl's brown eyes. Heralia felt suddenly more scared now than she ever had before. Her heart nearly skipped a beat when she felt a warm hand press into her stomach, but she didn't dare try to move, or even look away from Laurel's face.

Laurel raised one of her snowy white eyebrows, then furrowed them both in concentration. Heralia knew what Laurel had discovered, even as the half-elf leaned forward to whisper in her ear.

"You're going to lose that child, and its father but..." Laurel paused thoughtfully, and her eyebrows arched in surprise. "But... I won't be the one to do either in fact..." She trailed off before she could finish her sentence, and stepped back, looking Heralia over. "Right..." she turned around, just as Moraster walked into everyone's view, and hopped up onto his back.

Heralia fell backwards, and landed roughly on her rear as Laurel flew away. "What was... she... oh no..."

Lunas looked down at her, an eyebrow raised. "What did she say?"

Heralia shook her head. "Nothing, but I have something to tell you..."

A few days after they had left Grenhise, Laurel and Moraster came walking back into Diemos Castle through the swamp. They were greeted with cheers from the strange assortment creatures that inhabitants of the area.

"Your mission was a success?" said the little boy wraith Laurel had fought a while ago.

"Yeah," she replied listlessly. Both she and Moraster plodded in silence the rest of the way to the castle. Once there, Laurel made her way quickly up to her room, and out onto the balcony. She grabbed the railing and leaned over it slightly, staring down at the ground so far below her. Her vision began to swim, or maybe it was just the water building up in her eyes.

"Laurel...?" Moraster asked quietly, as he walked in the room. The way her shoulders were heaving up and down worried him as he approached her. She didn't respond.

"Laurel," he tried again, reaching a hand out to touch her shoulder. She didn't even move, but he could hear her hitched breathing. After a moment of listening, he thought he understood. Without another word, the dark haired man stepped forward, and wrapped his arms around Laurel's waist, pulling her back up against him. She didn't try to stop him, and in fact sagged against him, her legs feeling weak. She crossed her arms, and put one hand over her eyes, trying to cover the tears, but after a moment, a few began to leak out from under the glove.

"You killed your only support in that harsh world, that's what's wrong, right?" Moraster whispered quietly in her ear.

"Yeah," Laurel whispered back, he voice thick.

"Then take all the time you need to re-compose yourself," Moraster said finally after a moment.

"I want it, Moraster..." Laurel growled, her voice sounding angry, mostly at herself for showing such weakness. She curled the hand covering her eyes into a fist, and let it rest on the bridge of her nose.

"Want what, Laurel?" Moraster asked, confusion in his deep whisper.

"That..." Laurel replied, opening her hand, and gesturing out to the forest around them.

"What? The Sanguinaquia? You already have that," Moraster said, still confused.

Laurel moved her feet so she could stand completely on her own, but didn't try to pull away from Moraster. "No, Moraster. I want that, all of it. The world."

Moraster laughed softly, and put his mouth right up next to her ear, so his lips brushed against it when he spoke. "Then you shall have the world, O Destroyer."

Laurel smiled in satisfaction, her eyes still rimmed in red, even as Moraster's lips closed over the pointed tip of her ear.

A/N: Dun dun dunnnnnn!!! Alright, then. It's done!! Laurel's Revenge has been complete, all 15 pages of it! :cries in relief:

Well, now that that's done, I get to go to work on the next damn story. That's right. A sequel to this one. Special, huh? Now we get to see Laurel take over the world. Hm, but I think I might have another story to start in the meantime while I gather my ideas for the continuation of Laurel's story. So stay tuned kiddies!

You may commence the reviews!