Lily awoke to her surprise a sunny day, the warm sunrays washed over her slightly cold cheeks. She was reluctant to get out of, but she knew she had to so she could explain to the others what she had about the day before. That she had found where Artemis' lair was and how many demons he has guarding him, and now she has to figure out how to get inside and kill Artemis. But she cannot do this alone, she must devise a plan with her companions on how to get inside and kill Artemis, she remembered how many had died that painful night eight years ago.
She got out of bed and walked over to a bowl on small table, she filled her hands with cold water from the bowl and splashed it on her face to make her more aware and to take away the sleepiness. She walked out of the bedroom and headed for the front room where Etyn, Melanie, Link, and Violet were in deep conversation.
"Good morning, Lily," Link said, without looking at her.
"Good morning to you all. And what are we talking about?" She looked at Link.
"Talking? It is more like questioning we are getting answers from Violet, and her intentions are of good intent, so no worries. But there has been some problems with the others, they are not happy about attacking Artemis' lair, too many memories from eight years ago, they're afraid that we'll lose more of us when we attack. And some are planning to flee." Link thought of what he had that night, shame filled him because of he did was inhuman.
"But we are the best and this is what we do, they know that as well as we do. So why be afraid now? It does not make sense. Who are the ones that want to flee?" She was demanding the answer and nothing else.
"That is for them to tell you, not me and I think they will tell you what they feel about this."
"Link… I sorely tire of you playing around, this is not the time for word games just tell me before I get angry." She did not like being aggressive towards her allies.
"Claire, Jill, Krauser, and Ada… I think that is all that do not wish to do this." He looked down at the floor the feeling shameful, like he was betraying them.
"I will have a word with them. Are you sure there is no one else?"
"Etyn, will you be going with us or do you have something else that has to be finished?" She looked at him.
"I have something else to do first, when I am done I will be more than happy to assist you." His voice was silky and heart-warming.
"Lily…." Melanie was barely able to speak. "I do not think I can help you this time, for my own selfish endeavor I cannot go." She couldn't bear to look Lily in the eye.
"Why, Melanie? Why can't you go is there something you wish not to face?"
"Aye, my father, therefore I cannot go… I am sorry, Lily." Etyn put his hand on her shoulder.
"Please, Melanie, I need you. Because you know better than all of us what we are facing, I need you… but if you wish not to go I certainly understand." Lily looked at Link. "Where are Claire, Jill, Krauser, and Ada? I must speak with them."
"Outside," he said.
Lily walked to the door she threw Melanie one last glance before she walked outside. They were standing in front of the door, talking about what Lily assumed was how to tell her that they weren't going with her.
"I heard you do not wish to come with me, why is that?" She threw them a disappointed looked.
"Lily, this is not about you this is about what happened so long ago. I lost my husband that night I lost friends… I do not wish to go through the same pain, again." She looked at the ground. "I hope you can understand and forgive us for not going."
"Forgive you for what, for being cowards? What are you going to tell the queen and king when you arrive in Marden, that you are scared and you lost the nerve to fight?! And you are not the only one to have lost someone you love, Claire. Jill and I both lost are husbands as well. You do well to remember that war is costly and it is not always happy!"
"Who do you think you are? Is this not all for your own selfish endeavor? This is all about you finding Thorn, and you know it you want our help because you aren't strong enough to do it yourself!"
Jill, Krauser, and Ada didn't wish to argue so they remained silent, though they didn't agree what both sides were saying. They went to stand by themselves.
"If I had known that you were a coward I would have never asked you to join me. You cannot deny the fact that you are a coward and I am ashamed to have fought along side you." Lily spit at her feet and walked into the house.
Claire looked at the others sadness filled her eyes, she was hurt by what Lily had said it was the worse thing to hear another warrior say. It was worse than death because you feel empty inside. Claire had to remember to breathe Lily's words had crushed her. She fell to her knees weeping Krauser laid his big hands on her shoulders; he tried to comfort her the best way he can.
"We have a long ride ahead of us, it would be best if we went inside to warm before we leave," Krauser said.
"I agree with, Krauser. There is no since in freezing to death." Jill's voice was gentle.
"I… cannot go in there… not after…." Claire was crying so hard that she was incapable of speak.
Krauser picked Claire up over his shoulder and carried her inside, she cursed at him to put her down but he ignored her and went into Etyn's house. When they got inside only Link, Etyn, Melanie, and Violet were in the front room. They were staring at the dancing flames in the fireplace. There was only silence except for the cracking sound coming from the fire.
"Have you decided to stay?" Etyn asked.
"No, we would like to warm up before we take our leave, may we?" Krauser asked.
"Aye, you may. But I suggest that you stay clear of, Lily, she is furious. I… I know this is incredibly rude of me to ask, but why do you want to leave? I thought you agreed to help Lily find Thorn, am I mistaken?" He stood up and faced them.
"It is hard to explain and now is not the time nor place for such conversation." He sat Claire in a chair near the fire. "Certain ears are upon us that I do not wish to speak in front of. I hope you understand, my friend perhaps one day I shall tell you the whole story." He looked at Melanie and frowned.
"I know it is not my place to say…." He took a deep breath. "But is it not Artemis' followers whom killed your friends? Would you not avenge them? This is not about Lily this is about you avenging the ones you lost to that monster, if you died by Artemis' hands or the hands of one his followers would you not have someone avenge you?" He stared at them waiting for one of them to answer.
There was silence the air in the room was thick with pine. They were deep in thought Etyn assumed they were trying to think of something to say.
Finally Claire spoke. "You are right Etyn, I would have someone avenge me. I let fear control of me it consumed me and that is only a petty excuse for my behavior. I wish to speak with Lily, do you know where she is." Claire rose to her feet.
"She is in her room?" He smiled at her.
Claire nodded to Etyn and went to Lily's room; she knocked before entering the room. Claire heard her get off the bed and walk to the door; she paused before opening the door Lily was shocked and angered to see who was on the other side of the door. Lily went to slam the door in shut but Claire stopped it with her hand.
"Lily, please hear what I have to say." Her tone was almost begging.
"What are you going to say, good-bye? Because if you are you are wasting your breath here. I have nothing to say to a coward… so leave and be done with it." She wiped her tears off her cheeks.
"No, no. Etyn spoke with me and made me realize something. I did not join you for the sole purpose of finding Thorn; I joined you because I wanted avenge my beloved Chris. We all have different reasons for this quest; still we came together all the same. And now I ask for your forgiveness for I was wrong to have said those things. Lily, can you forgive me?" Claire didn't bother to wipe the tears that ran down her cheeks.
Lily opened the door slowly, tears in her eyes. "Aye, Claire, I can forgive you only if you can forgive me for what I said. I should not have said what I did, I am proud and grateful that I have fought along side you. Will you ever forgive me?"
Claire nodded unable to speak, they embraced each other letting the tears flow wildly. They knew better than to show weakness in troubled times, but they didn't care they needed this burden lifted off their chests. They fell to their knees still crying they like all others just wished this madness would end. But they were the ones who had to end it.
"I am sorry to interrupt but we have intruders, they coming from the front gate and I think they are headed here." Link said.
"It is okay, Link. How many are coming? And what are they?" Lily got to her feet and wiped the tears away, as did Claire.
"A half-breed and a warlock I do not know why two lower being would dare come here, they stand no chance of defeating us. But it matters not we will kill them nonetheless." His expression was serious.
They headed back into the front room where the others were waiting. They had their weapons in hand ready to attack, they knew using magic was out of the question because there is too many innocents. But they would use magic; Lily would have to use magic to protect the innocents, she knew that she didn't have enough energy to shield everyone. She hoped that they wouldn't use their magic, but that kind of hope had been lost to her for a very long time. Link could feel them approaching at a quickening rate they were almost to Etyn's house.
"They have surrounded us, take caution, they are at the front and back of the house," Link explained.
"Are they powerful?" Lily asked at Link.
"Aye, but that does not make sense they are lower beings. Tread carefully their look is deceiving, they may look weak when in fact they are powerful." Link looked at them as he drew his weapon. "Melanie, Etyn, and myself will guard Lily the rest of you will attack, is that okay with you?"
"Yes, it is okay, if either one of them manage to get by us kill them." Claire looked at Lily and smiled.
Sarina, Anna, Ada, Tina were the first to attack. Claire, Jill, Krauser, and Abriel followed them. They ran out the front door Adrian was waiting for them with an evil smirk on his face.
"This will be easy," Adrian said.
Adrian raised his hand up at Sarina; he threw her back into the house with an unseen force. Then he ran up to Tina and Ada he kicked them in the face. Anna went to do a spell but he was behind her in a blink of an eye, he stabbed her in the back with his athame. She fell to the ground she was gasping for air; he pierced the back of her right lung.
"Julia, they are over here." Adrian smiled. "Is this the best you can do? I was told you would kill us."
Ada got back to her feet and charged Adrian, but Julia grabbed her by the back of the neck and threw her aside. Adrian nodded to Julia before he continued the fight. Claire and Jill shot arrows at Adrian he caught them on fire, they brunt into dust. As snow started to fall it would make it harder to fight, the cold wind stiffening their joints made almost impossible to move.
They stood still not making a move because these two foes were stronger than they look, making it difficult to kill. Only a couple of them would attack at a time. Adrian walked over to Anna he wrapped his hands around her head and broke her neck. Ada tried to make her way over to Anna, but Julia did a backward kick to her chest sending her flying into the side of the house. Erin rushed out of the house swinging her mace at Adrian; she hit him in the face he hit the ground so hard that his face was buried under snow.
Erin raised her mace above her head to finish him off, but Julia kicked her in the ribs she fell to the ground. Erin heard a cracking sound by her guess her couple of her ribs were broken. While Julia's back was turned Claire and Jill shot arrows at her, one got her in the hip and the other in shoulder. Sarina and Ada took their stance, now Adrian was standing next to Julia. Sarina attacked Julia and Ada attacked Adrian, she wanted to kill him for killing Anna.
Ada swung sword at him then tried to stab him both attempts was unsuccessful. He kicked her knee in breaking it then punched her in the face forcing her to the ground. He stood over her he bent down with a smile and ripped her beating heart from chest. He stood up straight he saw Lily standing in the doorway; he threw her heart at Lily's feet. Enraged Lily attacked Adrian he grabbed her by the throat and threw her aside with ease.
Sarina tried to take Julia's legs but she kept evading every blow. Sarina managed to stab her in the gut before Julia took Sarina's sword and decapitated her. Lily has already lost two of her allies and did not wish to lose anymore, for a second she thought to send them away and she would fight them. But she knew all too well that they would stay.
Two bone-like spears impaled each of them in the shoulder. Link walked out of the house. When Adrian saw who it was a smile curved his lips.
"It has been quite some time since I have seen your face." Adrian stepped closer to Link.
"So it has Adrian, though I do regret not killing you when I had the chance."
"Now, now. Is that any way to start a reunion? I see you went back to the side of light, what a pity you were a strong ally and you have sunk so low as to join these weaklings."
"Enough of this, I did not come out here to have a word with you. This time Adrian you will die!" Link drew his sword. "Everyone stand back this is between me and him."
"Julia, stand back this fight is mine." She nodded and did as he said.
Adrian drew his sword they started walking in a circle, neither one making a move they were looking for the weak point as where to attack. Link saw an opening and went for it, he stabbed at his gut but it was a trick Adrian swung his sword cutting Link's chest. Adrian dropkicked him in the face as he was in the air; he threw three fireballs at Link he hit his head on the house which knocked him unconscious. Adrian laughed he knew Link could have done better than that.
Abriel started shooting at Adrian, but he stopped every bullet just an inch from his face then he shot them back at Abriel. He fell to the ground. Julia decided to join the fight again. Lily and the others were standing by the house, some of them were still inside and that is where they were going to stay. None of them wanted to attack because they were afraid they would die.
Julia threw throwing knifes at Tina she fell to the down. Link came to and slowly got back to his feet.
"I think that is enough of them for now he will be pleased with us. Let us take our leave." They sprinted away.
Lily walked over to Link she was crying. "Link, what did they mean by that?" She put her hand on his shoulder.
"I know not, but something tells me that it has to do with Artemis. And I was foolish enough to allow Adrian to trick me, I should have known better than to attack… I could have killed him if it wasn't for me being over confident." He lowered his head.
"I… cannot handle this anymore they killed five more of my friends…." Tears fell down Claire's cheeks. "I do not know how much more I can take."
"I know, Claire, but we will avenge them… all of them. When we arrive at Artemis' lair we leave no one alive, mark my words." Lily walked over to her and put her hands on Claire's face, she lifted her head so Claire could look her in the eye. "Do you wish to leave? I will understand if you do but you can get revenge, make them pay for what they have done."
"I will stand by you." Claire let her head fall.
Etyn walked out of the house and frowned at the sight. "I am sorry, I should have left my sister's side to come help you. If you wish them to be buried I will arrange for someone to take them back to Marden… unless you want to go yourself?"
Lily looked at Claire she looked up at Lily. "Would you please make arrangements for someone to take them back? We will end this once and for all." Lily was filled with anger. "Let us rest and feast for when the morrow comes we leave."
"Of course, I will have Ariel make a feast I will wake you when the dinner is ready." He looked at Claire her tears were never-ending. "Lily, I have made a very important decision I have decided to join you. I will finish my other business other time."
"I thank you, Etyn," Lily said.
They headed back into the house preparing for their attack and hopefully to rid the world of other evil. Claire was the last one in she heard someone coughing, she looked and saw that Abriel had not died… though he was wounded badly he was still alive.
"H-h-help… m-m-me," Tina pleaded.
"Krauser, come quickly Abriel and Tina are still alive."
Krauser came bolting out of the house he picked up Abriel carefully, without his knowing Link had come out with him he picked up Tina. They took them into the house and into their rooms they laid them upon their beds. Erin came as quickly as she could to start the healing. Claire was relieved to find out they were alive… she wanted to run back out into the freezing cold to see if the others had made it. But she knew it would be futile.