Chapter 65

She felt the other being taking over her, heating her up from the inside out. She wasn't herself anymore, she was a mix of two being, two vibrating spirits that just happened to be concentrated in the same body.

If he wasn't going to fight for them, then she or the other one would.

She turned to the edge of the hill and looked out over the battle. It was still a smoke filled scene that was ever so slowly clearing and being replaced by row upon row of ripped tents and scattered equipment. Men in shining, almost glossy armor stepped carefully over fallen magicians, their robes tangled between their limbs. The creature inside her cried out, anger bubbling to the surface.

Ardis herself felt the same, but not as much so when she saw some of the Knights lying dead next to them.

The creature was furious, but the fury did not need vengeance. She did not taste the need for blood, she did not wish for another's death. It only seemed to be giving her support, guiding her to the hill and to the new battle that was about to begin.

The magicians that were left were all robed and completely focused. She knew that they were the ones that had not drunk the tainted ale. They were the intelligent ones, the dangerous ones. Even if Ferrabry had had the upper hand, now the tide was most certainly shifted.

Another arrow flew by her. There. She spotted the archer down in the bushes at the foot of the hill.

Archery was definitely not Ferrabry's forte.

She twisted her hand and the man's eyes shut before he fell backward into the brush.

Now that threat was done, all she had left to do was to end a futile war.

She felt the magicians preparing, their magic humming in the air.

The first one, all the way to the end of the line, let out an invisible blast.

Quicker than she knew how, the creature sent up a shield around the matching line of Knights.

Almost immediately, every single one of the robed men and women turned their gazes up to her. Accusation and anger changed to fascination and confusion.

The Knights took the moment of distraction to run at them full force.

She barely had time before she herself set up a barrier around the magicians.

"Stop!" she screamed.

And they did.

Every human, every magician turned toward her.

It was silent for a long while. The rain continued to pour down and the tremble of thunder could be heard in the distance.

"Your leaders are dead. The fight is over."

That sent a cry up through the magicians.

She watched as they glared at the Knights. The Knights were still riddled with confusion.

She cursed to herself. She was such a fool. Of all the things she could have said…

"I killed them," she said slowly. "There is no use in fighting these men any longer. Go home."

A collective silence.

"Who are you?" A single male voice asked.

She looked at the magician. "Chena." The name came to her from the creature. She herself was not at all familiar with it, and it felt oddly heavy and thick on her tongue.

"An Ancient?" said another. "You just said that our Queen was dead. How could she had completed the ritual if—"

"She did not complete the ritual. Only half of it."

"Lies."

Before the creature could give her hint as to what she should do, she transported herself down into the camp before the doubtful man.

He did not appear surprised or even shocked.

"You're nothing but a ratty little girl."

She growled and gripped his throat with magic.

She felt him attempt to block her with his own, but she knocked down the defense like a weak stalk of straw.

"A little girl?" She questioned.

He spluttered and gasped for air for a few moments before she let go.

"Elmswell was not attacked by a human Kingdom. It was the Belgrava who killed our kin. It is the Belgrava whom you should war with, not these men."

Ardis…

His voice drew her attention back to where he stood up on the hill. He looked down on her, and she could feel his wariness.

She didn't dare respond to him.

"It has already begun, girl. Blood has been taken from both sides. You cannot stop it now."

Her eyes flew to Commander Haye who stood before his men, sword at the ready.

"Fight with us," said a magician.

"I fight with neither."

A great tremor ran through the ground then. And from it, smoke began to rise from the place in which she stood. Smoke rose from everywhere as the rain soaked mud began to crack and split.

She looked around when a cry sounded behind her. Flames danced upon a Knight's leg, crawling upwards until it reached his armor. He fell backward amid shouts of fury.

She let lose a barrage of flickering blades toward the magician. Before he had time to deflect them, each and every one had embedded itself in his chest. His ash covered robes turned a shade darker with blood.

He looked up at her, eyes black, before falling to his knees.

A woman now, Ardis could see a scar covering half her face, took his place.

Tiny black spots traveled down her arms and across the ground toward the Knights and her.

Spiders.

Ardis easily enough set fire to them, leaving nothing but ash that melted into the mud.

The Knights didn't bother to wait for more. The charged forward with shout and curses, with more collective fury than a group of feral cats.

She got the impression that the creature wanted to end both sides, to simply exterminate them both.

She forced that urge down and built up a thick shield. But after a few magicians pelting away at it, it had all but shattered and fallen to the ground.

A large black bird flew circles above her before plummeting down. An instant before the bird landed, it transformed into an olive skinned woman in dark trousers and a long red cape.

The Knights were being slaughtered as this woman advanced toward her. She knew she should have been helping to end it, throwing up more shields and knocking down the attacking magicians, but her own self preservation prevented her from doing that.

"Little girl," she called in a lilting voice. The woman used her own spell against her, throwing flashing blades toward her chest.

Ardis instinctively knocked them to the side before sending violet sparks from her finger tips at her opponents head. They crackled in the air but missed their mark as the woman ducked and rolled toward her.

Her cap flew like an avalanche of blood behind her as she sprung up, pushing Ardis to the ground.

Eyes black and nails as sharp as glass, she slashed at Ardis's face.

Her cheek was numb for a moment before she felt the horrible burning and wetness of blood. Her lip was split and she tasted the metallic tang of her very life being spilled around her.

The Ancient lashed out, Ardis's own fingernails sharpening to points. They cut through the woman's white tunic before digging into skin. An unearthly scream left her mouth before she wrapped her hands around Ardis's neck.

Ardis scratched, clawed at her, as the creature urged her on. But she could barely breathe and the woman's very hands were hot. She could smell her own skin burning.

"You're nothing but a weak girl. There is no Ancient in you."

The creature inside her pushed the woman over. They rolled for what felt like an eternity before stopping.

Her hands heated up with magic and she pressed them to the woman's face.

"Agh!" she leapt back, hands covering her blistered cheeks.

Ardis coughed and pushed herself away from the crying magician.

The mud had soaked through her own trousers. She shivered, half out of tension, half out of coldness.

An arm snaked around her waist and pulled her up.

She dug her nails into her attacker and spun around with a snarl.

But she let go as soon as she saw who it was.

"Damn," he cursed, holding his injured arm gingerly.

"I'm…sorry," she managed between shivers. She was shaken up to say the least.

Then she remembered the woman. Ardis turned and scanned the battleground for her, but she was nowhere, gone as quickly as she had appeared.

Capron watched her jolted movements, looking in every which way, as if something was about to attack her from every side.

Ardis didn't notice him staring.

"You need to calm down," he said, forcing her to look at him.

"Don't you see that?" she asked, motioning toward the mass of bodies, one fighting the other, some with magic, and others hand to hand. The flashes of the swords made something stir within her. It was the creature that was on edge, not just her. It knew it had to stop what was going on because it had seen war. Eons ago, long before Ardis's own father and mother had been born, the creature had lived and seen battles much more horrible than the one before them. It had even taken part in a few. Ardis could faintly see these battles within her own mind, as the Ancient shared them with her, but she managed to turn away.

"I see it," he looked up and watched with her.

"Then you know what needs to be done."

He looked at her, his brows were drawn and he appeared at best, irresolute. Something else was there, something she could have sworn was honest concern.

He knew what she meant without saying it, and maybe it scared him. Maybe he didn't believe she had it in her. Maybe he thought she didn't have the power to do it.

She dared one more glance at him before she closed her eyes and spoke the words she heard within her head.

Hirette, forgive me for what I am about to do.