Hey everybody! I hoped you liked that last chapter! I agree with one of the reviews, Erik should have been brought in earlier. But this is A) a rough draft, and B) this isn't actually the correct direction of the story. Things were added merely for you guys. When I go back and edit, it'll be condensed a lot. Also, I must stress that it is my own rule to NOT publish the last chapter of my stories on fictionpress. I am debating on whether or not to do that for this story, since this one is not actually the "real" story. I am saying this now because there are essentially only two chapters left, including this one.

You Can't Crack Iron

Chapter Twenty-Two

"Sort This Out On Your Own Time"

"Wilmer!" General Rogers roared as he followed Wilmer off the balcony and away from the screaming crowd. Wilmer was arcing after Elms who had tried to sneak away after making his speech and when all eyes had been on the fainted Isabel.

"Don't you dare run away, Elmer!" Wilmer shouted, ignoring the angered General. He was furious with Elms and would not let him walk away without an explanation for his doings. He followed Elms to the end of the Audience Chamber and almost had him, reaching to grab his cloak just as the General snatched him by the shoulder and forced him to turn around and face him, allowing Elms to get away. Wilmer heard the doors shut and knew that he was gone.

"What is the meaning of this, Wilmer?" General Rogers demanded, stepping closer into Wilmer's face.

"General Rogers, there has been a grave misunderstanding and if you give me a mom-,"

"You're damned right there has been a misunderstanding!" the General growled dangerously. "How long have you been playing me, you miserable old coot?" He reached out to clutch Wilmer's collar, bunching up the fabric in his fist.

"No one has been playing you, General Rogers! Believe me, this comes a quite-," Wilmer tried again to speak reasonably to General Rogers, despite his threatening situation. He grabbed at the General's wrist, attempting to have him release him.

"Did your Emperor put you up to this? That lying, cheating, distrustful villain!" the General mumbled bitterly, all while shaking Wilmer.

"Do not speak ill of the dead!" Wilmer commanded. The overwhelming authority in his voice shocked the General and caused him to release Wilmer. "This is not the work of the Emperor! His highness would never have resulted to such treachery! Do not mock his memory!" Wilmer readjusted his collar as he spoke but not once did he take his eyes off of the General, still fuming. The passion in his voice, the love he still held for the Emperor was unmistakable.

"Then you must be responsible for this madness!" the General accused him, pointing an angry finger in his face.

"General Rogers, I assure you that I-," Wilmer tried to reason with him, to explain that the real culprit was the one who just got away, but what seemed to happen every time chaos ensued, he was interrupted. This time, by Penny rushing over from the balcony, where Jake was carrying out Isabel, all while arguing with Prince Erik.

"Wilmer!" Penny exclaimed, running up to General Rogers' side, flustered. The General barely paid her any mind besides a quick, distrustful glance in her direction. "What was that? What's going on? A marriage with Erik? How could you? I thought you spoke to Elms!" She shot off her questions one right after the other with no space in between them or any room for one to at least try to explain.

"Penny, please," Wilmer said, annoyed that he couldn't get a single, complete thought out between General Rogers and Penny. "Now is not the time."

"Now is the time, you traitor!" the General roared, nostrils flaring and eyes going crazed with his uncontrollable rage. "You owe us an explanation!" Wilmer was trying with every fiber of his being to remain calm and not allow his temper to influence his words. "I am trying to find that explanation, but it just went out the door." He thrust his thumb in the direction of the main doors behind him.

This did not go over well with General Rogers as he realized that Wilmer was placing the blame on his most trusted advisor. "Excuse me?" he demanded.

"Please, sir," Wilmer said, trying to get away and hunt down Elms. He didn't need this drama right now. He had a debt to settle first, then he could take care of everyone else's problems. "I can do nothing right now until I find and speak to Elms." He had to force himself not to refer to Elms degradingly with the list of name he wanted to call the menace. He had managed about two steps before the General pounced on him, shoving him against the door, taking the wind out of him as he hit the hard wood with much force.

"You are not leaving!" the General threatened, reaching up again to grab his collar. "You will explain your actions!"

Wilmer was quickly losing his patience with the General, despite the fact that he had him pinned up against the only way out. "General, might I be so bold as to remind you that you are a guest here, and therefore have no authority to order me around. So I must insist that you RELEASE ME! I have other duties to attend to, sir, that do not include hanging against the doors of the Audience Chamber," Wilmer hissed, grabbing at the General's forearms and glaring at him. The General snarled and dropped him none too gently. Once he was safely planted back on the floor and readjusted, he turned to the astounded Penny, "Penny," he said quickly, his gaze drifting sharply back to the General. "You are to mind your place and remove Isabel from this room to her own. She obviously needs her rest."

"But Wilmer!" Penny objected, not wanting to leave without answers from the man.

"Now!" he commanded loudly. She could do nothing but obey and excused herself from the two gentlemen to return back to Isabel, knowing no more than she had when she first came over.

Wilmer watched Penny's retreating back return to Isabel, still limply lying in Jake's arms. He observed as Penny spoke to him, nodding from time to time and occasionally sending a quick glance in the direction of his father and Wilmer. Finally, when it looked like they were done speaking, he headed to towards them with Penny in tow. Prince Erik was complaining loudly about something, and the look on Penny's face was very clear that she wished for him to go jump off the balcony. Wilmer and the General stood aside to allow for the small party to exit the Audience Chambers, waiting until the doors were shut tight again before the silence between them was broken.

"I am not leaving," the General announced. "And neither are you."

"I understand your anger, General," Wilmer said, trying to appeal to his better nature and failing. "But I cannot do anything about the current situation until I speak to Elms."

"Elms is not the subject of this discussion," he retorted. "And I really don't believe you do understand what I'm feeling! I come here to check on my son and the development, and what do I find?" He barely waited for any kind of response from Wilmer. "I find that you're planning to marry off my son's bride to the pompous heir of Amina, our natural enemy!"

"There was no guarantee of a union between Isabel and Jacob. This was merely a test!" Wilmer corrected, his anger changing quickly to irritation as he noticed the family resemblance. "You know that!"

"The Emperor and I had a deal!" General Rogers argued. Unlike Wilmer, his anger only seemed to escalate, and it was reflected in his face. "They were to be wed, regardless of how the year ended! This alliance is needed!"

Wilmer had been very aware that the Emperor was leaning towards that idea long before his death, which Wilmer had objected to repeatedly, but he was unaware that he had chosen such an idea. "So you would put your son in a marriage where he may or may not be happy just to satisfy your supposed political needs?" Wilmer heatedly asked of the General. "You would use your son as nothing more than a tool?"

"What more can the boy do for me? He'll never be in the running for the throne should it successfully be reestablished! That right belongs to his cousin, Dirk alone. His only other choice is a military career. The boy deserves to be in power! It's in his blood!" General Rogers exploded.

Wilmer could neither hide nor stop his shock, "General, you must hear what you are saying!" Wilmer exclaimed of the man, shaking his head. "You're controlling what is not yours! Do you know how to satisfy good parenting?"

This was not received well by the General, "My parenting is not a matter to be discussed. His life is mine alone. I created him!" He narrowed his eyes as Wilmer. "You are obviously childless and therefore do not understand. And this is the extent of our discussion. The crisis is not in how I raise my son, but how you have deceived the entire country!"

"I have done nothing of the sort, sir!" Wilmer exclaimed, his shock still surrounding the General's raising of his son. He suddenly had an immense amount of sympathy for the boy. "I did not even make that announcement! Consider who did!" He pointed again to the doors. The thought of catching up to Elms was gone. The General would not allow him to leave, and Wilmer knew that he now had to clear his name.

"My advisor would never act outside of my intentions! I trust my life, my son's life in his hands!" returned the General haughtily. "He has been in my service for many, many years! I have no doubts against him!"

Wilmer shook his head again, amazed at how well Elms had deceived such a forceful, powerful man. He had much to argue with the General about his views on Elms, but the man was stubborn and would probably not submit to the truth even though it was parading around in front of him.

"Sir, I do not want to distort your view of Elms, but I must implore you to please take a look at the facts here. Elms made that announcement independently, shocking us all. He brought in Erik without my knowing." Wilmer was speaking clearly and quickly, recognizing the changing facial expressions of the General. He was going to explode soon, and Wilmer would be caught in the fire. "You are wrong," General Rogers growled dangerously. "There is a scheme here, and you can be sure that I will discover it!" He stepped away and pointed back to the balcony. "But I demand that in the meantime, you return to that balcony and retract that announcement! You will amend this ridiculous situation!"

"I cannot do that, General," Wilmer replied sternly.

"And why not?" the General demanded heatedly. "This situation needs to be rectified, Wilmer!"

"General," Wilmer said, his frustrations growing. "How do you think the people would react if I were to step back out there and say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize. That previous statement regarding Isabel's upcoming marriage to Prince Erik was actually the result of a cruel prank. It's not going to happen.' Not only would we be lying outright to the people, we'd be creating an even greater problem with Amina," Wilmer tried to explain but doubted if he was getting through to the man. "And unless you have a more plausible idea, there will be a wedding." Wilmer had been prepared to end the conversation right then and there, but it appeared that General Rogers was not as willing.

"Wilmer, let me warn you of something," the General said, his face twitching. "I cannot guarantee our peace without the union between Jacob and Isabel. If we are to survive into the future, we need to be on the same front with no secrets. Neither of our countries can afford another war."

"I am aware of that," Wilmer replied, tensing up. He knew where the General was going with his words long before he spoke them.

"But without this union, without the affirmative decree of allies, war will ensue once again, and this time one of us will be destroyed. I don't want to see this happen, and I know you do not either." The General sighed loudly and shook his head. Wilmer was unable to read his facial expression, unable to know what he really thought.

"So you would give up?" Wilmer asked, feeling much like he was throwing more to the fire.

"I am a military leader, sir," the General replied. "I have a duty to my country to protect her. If I see an enemy that would threaten my homeland, I will stand up strong to fight."

"We can still maintain peace between our countries without that union, General. All it takes is a little effort and some willingness," Wilmer said, almost sadly, like he knew that the odds were stacked highly against him.

"My people do not have the effort or willingness to give. Without this, we will never agree and war, ten times more destructive than ever before, will soon follow." The General stepped around Wilmer to the doors. "And I will warn you, sir, that I do whatever it takes to win." He departed, slamming the doors. The sound echoed off the high walls, and Wilmer realized he was alone in the room, but more importantly, he was alone in this altogether.

"I will not be remembered as the man who started another war between Vegga and Colinia," he hissed darkly, clenching his fists again. "Not again."

* * *

Jake allowed for Penny to take the lead once their troupe left the Audience Chamber and followed her down the corridor of the 2nd floor towards the direction of Isabel's room, carrying the fainted Isabel in his arms. She was lighter than he would have expected, which almost worried him. Was she not getting enough to eat, or were her childish pranks that she constantly played and her running from everyone who got too close affecting her health? He considered it to be possible but knew that he simply couldn't jump to conclusions. With his luck, he'd confront her about the supposed issue and she'd accuse him of horrid deeds and added denials that he just didn't want to fight with her. He could also just be imagining things since she had become a major object of his attention.

"I am speaking here!" Prince Erik said just loudly enough to knock Jake out of his own thoughts, an act that highly irritated him. He chose not to respond, knowing that some people just thrived on the attention.

"We were trying to ignore you, dog," Jake heard Penny mutter bitterly from ahead, but her voice did not reach past Jake, and she stomped on, ready to get away from the menace and put her friend to bed.

"AHEM!" he said again, clearing his throat in a very fake manner. "I demand that when I speak, I am heard! I am a very important person!" The prince was now practically beside Jake, trying to match his long strides. Jake was nearly a head taller than him, but Amina men were rumored to be shorter than most. Jake couldn't help but wonder what else was true that they were "rumored" to be. "And I must demand that you not only give me your undivided attention but unhand my future bride!" He jumped in front of Jake, stopping him in his determined path to not only get Isabel to her room at the end of the long hall but also annoy the pest that seemed to have followed them.

Jake saw Penny turn around at those words, ready to lash out, but he seized the honor first, "She is not your bride, mongrel!" he snapped, clutching her tighter to his chest. Her head rolled slightly towards him, hair waving down over his arm.

"Are you deaf or just ignorant?" the prince shot back. "She and I are to be married." He straightened his back and stood proudly. "The Emperor has good taste."

"Had," Jake seethed.

"This was not his ploy!" Penny hissed. "It was Elms! He is behind this, and he is not a member of the Veggan court!" She strode to them, her words very much like daggers in the direction of the hated prince. "This decision will be overturned by dawn, and you will be sent back on your way!"

"I think not," the prince said icily back to her. "I will have my prize. It is mine alone."

"She is not an object!" Jake and Penny both countered hatefully at him, glaring him down. They shared a common enemy and would both not allow this cruel man to take someone from them.

"She is mine," he retorted, eyeing Isabel with a look of both greed and pride. "And I will accept my prize on our wedding day. And she will be obedient. I know that she is pleased." He reached out to touch her hair, but Jake took a quick step back; it was almost a jump as he kept the prince's hand off of Isabel. His rapid and uneven movement did not affect her state.

"Then why did she faint?" he demanded, nodding his head to her. "Could it be because she was so horrified of the prospect of marriage to such a creature as yourself?" His words were ice and would have damaged anyone who was not used to them, but the prince was a man skilled in ill words.

"I would have jumped from the balcony, personally," Penny mumbled bitterly, and she was very clearly heard by the two of them but they both chose to not acknowledge her statement, a wise move.

"She has been under such stress," Erik answered, letting his eyes linger on her face and then moving lower. She was beautiful in her tight black gown that was almost too much for mourning, but the lust in the prince's eyes was too much for Jake. He wanted to shield Isabel, hide her for fear that Erik would desecrate her. "She just collapsed from the impact of the news."

"I don't think so," Jake snapped, stepping back again. If he had to, he would take her back to the Guest Wing with him. He would gladly give up his bed for a night for her. He had to protect her from this monster that stood before him. "Stress is not an adequate reason for such a reaction."

Jake was obviously hitting a nerve with the vulgar prince as he cracked his knuckles and snarled in Jake's direction, "I will not tell you again: Unhand my bride!" He pointed to Isabel again, the lust not yet gone from his eyes.

"Isabel Penlin belongs to no one, nor will she ever!" Penny growled before Jake could. He hid his shock at how similar his thoughts were with Penny at this moment. It almost scared him, but he had much more to worry about. "You cannot control her!"

Erik turned swiftly to her, "You obviously are unaware of my powers."

"Oh, so you're a magician, too?" Jake spat out before he could think his words all the way through. Erik's attention flipped immediately back to him, face reflecting a curious yet skeptical disposition.

"Magician?" he inquired. "I am no such person, if you could even refer to them as people. But what brings this of magicians?"

Jake was inwardly cursing himself as he stared blankly at Erik, no comeback nor explanation coming to mind. He tried to keep the panic that was growing in his gut at bay, but he could almost guarantee that Erik could sense it as his lips turned wickedly up into a smile.

"It's a figure of speech!" Penny jumped in, covering for Jake, who could have praised the ground she walked on had he not been under the scrutiny of Erik. "And we have lost sight of our objection!" She hurried in between the two gentlemen, pushing Erik away from Jake and Isabel. "Izzy is in need of rest. Standing out here is not doing her any good." She looked over her shoulder at Jake. "Please take her to her room." Jake walked around the two of them to her room, and Erik attempted to follow but Penny grabbed his arm. "You have no place here." She met his eyes and held her own icy glare as he stared her down.

"That is my bride. I will not allow another man to handle her so degradingly," he snapped and tried to walk after Jake again, who was now stepping up to Isabel's door.

"Let me make one thing quite clear," Penny hissed, holding her grip tight. "You will not get what you claim is yours. Isabel was pledged to another at her birth, and that person was not you, and it will not be you. You will not go near her. I will make sure of that, as will Jacob." She had not realized that she was speaking through clenched teeth and digging her nails into his skin, but she considered the latter to be that more of a benefit to the situation.

Erik continued to stare at her, a nasty frown covered most of his face. "Hmph," he finally said and ripped his arm easily out of her grip. "This is far from over." He stormed around her. "I will get what I came for."

"No," Penny threatened. "You will leave empty-handed. That, sir, is a promise. I assure you." She stood her firm in her words, and he stormed away down the hall. She watched him go, turning the corner before she finally was able to follow Jake. She stepped into the doorway but found herself stopping as she saw the scene before her. Jake had laid Isabel in her bed, covering her with the blanket and was now kneeling beside her bed, holding one of her hands close to his face and watching her with a look that Penny found she could not even begin to describe. She could see them together easily now. She could see him sitting on that lonely throne beside a crowned Isabel, much like the picture of Roderik and his bride. In that moment, Penny knew that they would one day be together. They had to be.

"Jake?" she whispered hesitantly. He did not move nor look in her direction.

"I hate him," he said with hatred dripping from those three words.

"I'm almost certain that everyone does," Penny replied, stepping across the room to his side, watching Isabel. "He's a terrible person."

"I won't allow this," Jake growled with a fierce determination. "I don't care what it takes! I won't let this wedding happen."

"I plan to fight, as well," Penny said, voice dropping as she clenched her fists. "She would never be happy with him." Penny wanted to say just who she would be happy with but made herself refrain.

Jake leaned up and gently kissed Isabel's forehead as he placed her hand on her stomach. He straightened himself up and turned to Penny. "I will wage war against him and this ridiculous idea, Penny." His face frightened her as she saw the loyalty, the love he held for Isabel. "He has messed with a force that will destroy him." He strode past Penny to the door. "Please," he said as he reached it. "Stay with her. I don't trust him."

"Where are you going?" she asked quickly, even though it was none of her business.

"To find Wilmer," Jake replied and left the room, shutting the door behind him and leaving Penny alone with the sleeping Isabel.

* * *

"It figures that you would be here," Wilmer snapped as he stepped into the high tower room that Elms had turned into his hiding place. "Damp places are quite your style." He eyed the room that had been abandoned long ago, trying to remember what had once been housed here. Everything was nearly in ruins thanks to the window that had been neglected these long years. Shattered glass sat at the floor beneath it along with mold and loose floorboards. Wilmer theorized that the floor would fall through in a few short years, not that it would be much of a loss.

"What of it?" asked his brother calmly. Elms stood by the window, watching the darkness that fell over the land. Only the light of the moon showed any kind of presence in this room. Elms was only part of the shadows.

"I am merely stating that you are predictable, Elmer," Wilmer said, keeping his spot close to the door. He dared not chance Elms yet, not without knowing what he planned to do.

"You're stalling," he countered softly, the smile on his face hidden that Wilmer could only hear it in his voice. He was proud of himself.

"I do not stall," Wilmer snapped. "What need have I to do such a thing?" He looked irritated, but Wilmer always found himself irritated when the situation had something to do with Elms. That had been the case since he was a child.

Elms chuckled softly, and Wilmer found that he could not pinpoint his mood. Something was out of place. "There you go again," he said with his back still turned to Wilmer. "Always using such pompous language, forgetting who you are."

"Who am I then?" demanded Wilmer. "Pray tell because I seem to be under the influence that I am just me."

Elms shook his head, looking back at him briefly, "You abandoned us." Wilmer saw now that he was playing this a chain that hung loosely around his shoulder. He had never noticed it before.

"Us?" he asked, confused, but his confusion did not last long as the moonlight gleamed over the item. It was a ring, and Wilmer didn't have to guess who it once belonged to. He grumbled, "When will you let that ridiculous notion die? Roderik is dead! Stop living in the past and accept what has happened!"

"No!" Elms said sternly and loudly. "Roderik lives! I feel it! And you will disrespect him no more!"

Wilmer had grown very tried of this game, "I disrespect no one. I simply tell you the truth, as I always have. You are my family. Never have I lied to my family." He crossed his arms tightly over his chest and focused on not killing the other man in the room, even he could even be considered a man.

"Never?" Elms asked, eyeing him with suspicion. "You are no saint! You lie now!"

He refused to argue. "What have you done?" he asked instead, shifting the conversation. Elms did not reply but turned away again, the smile back on his face as an icy breeze ripped through the permanently open window. Wilmer shuddered from habit only but Elms stood much like stone against the elements. "What have you done!" Wilmer demanded again, the anger rising. "You have nearly ruined everything! The alliance between Vegga and Colinia is now in shambles!"

Elms still did not reply but his smile grew ever larger and his movements with the ring quicker. Wilmer's nerves were already greatly damaged, and he wasn't sure how much more he could take. "Elmer! Tell me!" He stepped forward threateningly, but there was no sign from Elms. Wilmer knew that there was more he could do, but he refused to resort to such actions.

"I have…a plan," Elms finally said wickedly.

"A plan?" Wilmer demanded. "Since when do you plan? You plot!" He could not help but accuse Elms.

"I do not plot. I strategize," Elms corrected irritated. "And I have done just that, old man." The name-calling did not bother Wilmer, but the idea of Elms doing something that he was unaware about did. "Would you like to hear what I have concocted?"

"Could it be any worse that what you've already done?" Wilmer demanded, ready to leave. Elms was beating a dead horse, and Wilmer knew no more than before with little prospect that he ever would.

"Much, much worse, Wilmer," Elms replied. "Much worse."

"Somehow I doubt that," Wilmer rolled his eyes. "Because of your little plan, I may have a full-fledged war on my hands. I thought you had your fun with starting wars once before."

"It's not a war I strive for, Wilmer. That is only an added bonus in my game," Elms was still smiling, speaking with much pride of his supposed plan. "And since things are already in motion, I see no harm in revealing my secrets." He stepped away from the window and pointed to a wooden crate among rotten furniture and canvas bags filled holes from the rats chewing through it. "For this, you may want to have a seat."

"I think not," Wilmer snapped. He would remain at his post by the door.

"Suit yourself," Elms said with a shrug, and he crossed over the small room to the seat he had just offered to Wilmer. "I won't give up a chance for comfort." Wilmer added nothing but a small snort of disagreement that Elms overlooked. He settled himself down, carefully rolling up the sleeves of his plain, black shirt, making no effort to ease Wilmer's curiosity. His ploy was an effective one for now.

"On with it!" Wilmer barked as Elms finished his other sleeve. A quick glance from him showed Wilmer that he was enjoying the irritation he caused all too well.

"Patience is a virtue," Elms said with a smile. In that instance, Wilmer felt that his and Elms' roles were reversed with him being the younger, immature brother and Elms the older, wiser one who knew better.

Elms smiled again at Wilmer, enjoying his game quite thoroughly. "If you insist, dear Wilmer."

"I do not," replied the advisor bitterly, speaking through his teeth, "I demand it!"

Elms shrugged, "Very well," he said. "But first, I must ask you- how do you feel, Wilmer?"

The shock on Wilmer's face not only amused Elms, but it pleased him. "Excuse me?" he demanded. "You want to inquire as to how I feel?" He stared at Elms, slack-jawed and fuming.

"Indeed," Elms said, still smiling, still remaining calm despite his companion who may very well explode from his anger. "How do you feel? Be honest now. I'd know if you lie." He laughed boyishly, mocking Wilmer.

"Enough of this foolishness, you miserable fiend!" Wilmer exclaimed, yelling now. His patience was gone now as was his tact for handling such a difficult situation. "I will not stand here and be mocked! There is a tragedy falling around us! A danger of war that this country cannot afford! I do not need to have any conversation with you when I already have enough chaos!" He stopped his ranting, panting and waiting for a reply from Elms.

"You keep telling me of your other, more important duties, and yet you always seem to come to me, like a moth to a flame," Elms said, shaking his head at Wilmer who stood again in some shock but mostly irritation. "Why don't you just admit that you need my help, my expertise?"

"I do not need the help of the madman who started this entire mess!" Wilmer snapped.

Elms stood at that, but he did not appear offended. In fact, Wilmer doubted if there was anything he could do or say that would penetrate the thick skin of Elms. "Then I take my leave." He headed towards Wilmer, intent on leaving, but Wilmer would have none of it.

"You will not leave without an explanation!" Wilmer commanded, stopping him.

"And what would you do to stop me?" he sneered. "You've forgotten our craft. Could you even curse me?" He was taunting Wilmer.

"I have forgotten nothing," Wilmer threatened.

"Have you?" Elms countered, staring at Wilmer.

"TELL ME!" Wilmer roared, shaking with absolute rage. He whipped his arms out, latching on to Elms. His hands burned through the shirt of his brother, smoldering the thick cotton. The loss of control would be paid for later, but Wilmer could not stop.

Elms retaliated, grabbing Wilmer as well, but he barely affected him. "I will destroy you!" he exclaimed, ignoing the pain. He felt the burning in his arms as Wilmer's grip tightened. "Revenge will be mine!" And he managed to thrust Wilmer away from him, pushing him against the wall. He stepped back, the smell of singed flesh filling the cold room.

"Revenge?" demanded Wilmer from against the wall, urging it as a support. It had been awhile since he'd used any kind of power, and he felt drained. "If either of us should desire revenge, that would be me!"

"It is in motion, Wilmer," Elms hissed. "I will watch you suffer. All your wrongs will come back to you!"

"Wrongs?" he asked, confused. "What wrongs? I have done nothing." He didn't understand what Elms meant.

It was Elms' turn to be annoyed. "Do not pretend that you don't remember what you've done!" he snapped, and the weakened Wilmer shook his head. "You destroyed our family! You killed Roderik! He left for that vile place because of you, and he died there because of you! Everything that happened is because of you!" he yelled, although it came out more like a scream. "You are to blame for everything, and for years I have been plotting, tracking you down!" Elms glared at Wilmer, and the latter saw the madness there that consumed him. "Luckily for me, you have not strayed far."

Wilmer shook his head, "Roderik made his own choices. I had little to do with them."

"LIES!" Elms yelled, pointing at him. "You put the idea in his head! You sent him away! You abandoned us to follow a useless woman whom you could never have! And he followed your pitiful example!"

"Everyone makes sacrifices," Wilmer whispered. He did not understand any of this. "Maybe one day… Maybe one day I can tell you the whole story, Elmer, but first you must stop this madness. I cannot help you if you won't let me." He stepped forward toward Elms weakly, wanting to help, but his help was pushed away.

"I need no help! You controlled us but no more!" Elms threatened. "Everything around you will fall, and you will be to blame. Already I can see it: Isabel will be forced to marry that Aminia slug, and outraged, General Rogers and Colinia will declare war yet again on Vegga, and it will rage far worse than ever in history. I will make sure of that! The war-torn people and your precious little Isabel will come to realize who was at fault, who made the decision to continue on with the marriage and revolt against you, and I will delight in the news of your hanging." His wicked smile covered his face. "But I doubt she'll last that long," he sneered. "Prince Erik has a…history."

"You would harm innocent people just to hurt me?" Wilmer demanded, repulsed. "You were not raised to behave in such a way!"

"These 'innocent people' tormented us! Have you forgotten?" Elms hissed, stepping forward to Wilmer, the boards creaking beneath his weight. "They tried to destroy us, never even stopped to consider that we, too, are human! So I will exterminate them They will burn at my hands!" He threw his head back and laughed.

"Who are you?" Wilmer asked sadly, shaking his head. "Because you are not my brother…"

"I will enjoy your destruction," Elms said through his crazed happiness. "And on your trip to Hell, say hello to Manai."

"Do not speak ill of the dead!" Wilmer snapped. "She gave life to you, gave you everything!"

"She was a wicked woman, no better than you!" Elms growled. "She altered our destinies, turned us into slaves instead of masters like we deserved! Had she stayed in our homeland, we would have been born into such power! We would not be rejects, hiding our true selves!"

"She did that to protect us, Elms! Why can you not see that? They would have used us just as they used her! The Order of Magi would have seen our potential and used us for things that the world could not handle! We would have been puppets, fulfilling a thirst for revenge! Together, the three of us would have destroyed the world! She had to flee from there! She had to protect us!" Wilmer exclaimed, trying to make Elms see reason.

"That power could have been ours! We would have been unstoppable!" Elms boomed, drunk on the idea and not realizing just how maddening it sounded.

Wilmer was ready to lunge against Elms, to choke the life out of him, but another angry voice was carried up from the courtyard below, "Wilmer!" Someone was calling for him, and he knew that he could not ignore them.

"Elms, this is not over," he snapped and pushed to the exit.

"Oh, but it is," he smirked triumphantly. "You're going to burn. It's only a shame that I won't be there to see the festivities." Wilmer did not respond but stormed out as another call came from the courtyard.

* * *

Wilmer stepped out into the darkened, snowy courtyard, following the voice that called him, "Who's there?" he asked, looking through the twilight as best he could.

"Wilmer!" he heard the voice again and peered across to see someone standing just inside the shadowy figure of someone.

"Who calls me?" he asked, guarded.

"I do," his companion replied, stepping forward into a pool of moonlight. It was Jake, holding something in his hand against his hip.

"Ah, Jacob," he said with a small sigh, grateful for the chance to get away from Elms and actually see a friendly face. "What can I do for you?"

"I will fight, Wilmer," Jake said, lifting the object that he now saw was a sword and pointing it at Wilmer.

"Fight?" Wilmer asked, surprised just as he was about to suggest that the two of them move to a warmer location. "What is this about fighting?"

"I won't allow the wedding," Jake clarified strongly. "I refuse to go down without a fight."

Wilmer noticed the danger in the situation, "Now, Jacob," he said, jumping in to calm down the young man before he could hurt himself. "I am doing my best to rectify what has been done here, but I doubt that I can do much. The people know now and expect it."

"No," Jake said with a step forward, arm steady holding his sword and making Wilmer that much more nervous. "She won't be happy. No one will be happy, and I won't allow it."

"Jacob," he said. "I am afraid that there isn't much I can do."

"You would let her spiral downward into a life of pain and unhappiness?" he demanded angrily. "You would allow that?"

"I have little choice," Wilmer said sadly. "Believe me, I do not want to do this either, but my hands are tied in this matter."

"Well, mine are not," Jake snapped. "And I will stop this in any way I can." He sheathed the sword. "Consider this a warning to stay out of my way."

"Hold, now!" Wilmer exclaimed, frantically shaking his hands and blocking the entrance. "Just think of the consequences! If you interfere, think of the enemy you are going against! You would be opening the dam for war."

"I don't care," Jake growled. "I will stand and fight, Wilmer. I don't care if she rejects me still. I will fight and not allow this to happen." He grabbed the hilt of the sword again. "I will kill him if necessary."

"You are serious, aren't you?" Wilmer asked, defeated.

"Always," Jake answered heatedly.

He shook his head, "Please think about this, Jacob." He knew that Jake would probably not listen to him, but he felt a warning should be said regardless. "You could be opening far worse than you can handle. I'm trying to prevent a war here." As he spoke, Jake eyed him hatefully.

"War can be diverted, and together, Vegga and Colinia would easily overtake Aminia," Jake said strongly. "And I will lead the fight myself, starting with Erik's death."

"Your father will not allow any of that," Wilmer said, desperately trying to talk some sense into Jake.

"I don't care," Jake said again for the third time. "He won't be able to stop me."

"Please," Wilmer begged earnestly. "Please be careful."

Jake stepped around him, "If you won't do anything, then I will. I will fight for her." He left for inside the palace, leaving Wilmer alone in the cold.

And Wilmer was finally sick of being left alone.

A/N: Hmm...this chapter needs alot of work, I think, but for the most part, it's all right. I hope everything makes sense for you guys. I may need to clarify things between Elms and Wilmer again, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Ok, this is kind of important, so bear with me. I normally do not post the last chapters of my stories on fictionpress for rights purposes and seeing as how most of the time, the really important stuff happens in my last chapters, but I have come to the conclusion that since this is technically not the actual story (Chapters 16 to the end will be cut and rewritten completely when I go back and edit), although I do like it, I will be posting the last chapter, which just happens to be NEXT!

Ladies and gentlemen, YCCI is almost over! *Yippe* Only one chapter to go!


Later Days!