A fog set upon the land of Brocente, smothering the land's crops and forestry. Within the forest, birds squawked a desperate cry. The critters within ran eagerly to make their escape. Trees toppled carelessly onto others, causing a domino effect of destruction. Larger animals choked on the smoke that seemed to be smothering the land, bit by bit. Bushes and trees burned up like that had been dried out for years, triggering others to follow suit. Fire billowed from shrubbery to shrubbery, designing a war path. Blurry eyes of the innocent cried out for salvation, trying so desperately to get out alive only to be trapped by endless wreckage. Freedom would not wash over the blameless, to the inevitable end unless someone could extinguish the fire.
Brocente sat guarded by mountains, the strongest of soldiers. While they worked to keep warriors out, they also kept citizens in. Mountains acted as a barrier, creating a blanket of smoke over the city. The distressed worked to gather what supplies they could manage to no avail. Smoke created a thick haze, disguising the sun's rays. Screams of those who had been injured could be heard echoing off the mountains, causing panic to erupt among citizens. Young ones cried in retaliation to the smoke filling their lungs.
Mothers grabbed their children, holding onto them as if the wind could sweep them away. They waited for their husbands and brothers to guide them to the safety of the Frya, a city located at the south of Brocente. Frya would be safer, resting on a plateau with mountains to guard it from the smoke and fires. Men could take their families there to ensure their safety as they fought the fires. Where crops had grown on flatlands now rest graveyards of soot and smoke. Walking through would leave anyone covered in ash but getting through would mean safety by the sea. Once at the rivers, the men could gather water to save what crops and forestry was left. Soldiers had already made their descent to rivers, consistently prepared for any attack, but they were no match for the alchemists of Darynan. Alchemists could create fire and easily destroy what lay in their path. Within an instant the entire Brocente civilization could be destroyed and unless they could put out the fire, it would be.
Morgane awoke to the sound of screaming as her brother, William, as gave orders to troops. She felt as though she were in a dream still, life moved in slow motion. Panic looks on people's faces her frozen in place and sounds were muffled. Morgane soon realized the sounds were muffled because the roar of fire drowned them out. Shocked faces were aimed at her in her room and soldiers fought their ways in to rescue her. She could not believe that she had been trapped in her own room. Being princess of Altherie and commander of the armies she was a target, constantly being on guard for a surprise attack but being prepared would not help her while sleeping.
Without hesitation, Morgane was up, planning how she would maneuver through the fire blocking her exit. Dropping from the window would mean the end of her and staying in her room was not an alternative. Time had slowed and the movements of those around her became majestic, as though they were ballerinas pouring the utmost passion into their dance. She grasped the iron cross she wore around her neck and projected her body foreword as fast as it would go, her feet feeling like weights unable to move quickly enough. As she neared the fire she leaped to her best ability, with a fighter's heart she would not let this fire destroy her.
Wood paneling met her body as she stumbled beside her brother who stood wide eyed. She thought the smoke must have been getting to her as her brother's face clouded. A stinging sensation climbing its way up her legs, she had not escaped the fire unscathed, the hem of her night gown had caught and began the burn her skin. Someone standing beside her held a blanket and beat at the fire until it was extinguished. Just below her knee laid a layer of skin that had been scorched. Before the pain could register Morgan ripped a piece from the blanket and wrapped her leg and as she did she could feel the pain of a thousand stabs. Muffling her screams, she grabbed a William's pant leg in an attempt to lift herself.
"Morgane careful, we will help carry you out, you're badly injured," her brother caught her as she fumbled.
"Let go of me, I'm fine. There's an entire city here that needs direction now let's go," fury erupted from her as she thrust herself away from him. She was not about to give in and give up, not while her kingdom needed her.
"Just take it easy. The skin from your leg is missing in a large degree, this needs checked by a doctor," he grasped at her again, worried she might falter.
Morgan ripped away from him again. "I am not weak; I will survive, and now let us go. Where are the troops?"
William sighed. Getting his sister to receive help was no use. "They're stationed at the river and sea. Currently they are gathering up water to put out the fire and salvage what crops we may have left."
"How did this occur?"
"We think the alchemists must have come through the forest in the cover of night and started the fires. While we sleeping they must have grown to the degree they are now."
"Can we put them out?"
He hesitated. Not being able to put the fires out meant rebuilding and a near famine to come. "We're not sure yet, they've grow massive. Some have wiped out entire fields. The mountains keep them circulating."
"Make sure the troops go after the crops first, fewer forests would mean less space for enemies to hide. Have any of the alchemists been found and captured?"
"No, we were too worried they would come after us while imprisoned."
"Well squander your fears brother, did you not think that maybe we could turn one against Darynan?"
"Of course but the odds of them turning on us is far greater and we cannot afford to lose anymore men."
"Well find one. Pour water on him or something. Research them even; they could be a great use to us." Morgane stormed off to assess the damage of her city.
Numerous citizens lay injured or dying on the streets. Their homes had been in the crossfire, igniting as quickly as the trees had. Just as Morgane nearly made it out, they also struggled for freedom. Some were not so lucky, becoming trapped in the oven of their homes. Some lost everything they worked hard for.
From within the city of Frya smoke could be seen collecting above Brocente. The sound of fire destroying what lay in its path could be heard indoors and citizens fought to block out the noise. They had not been prepared for an attack so devious and the death toll was heartbreaking. Families had been divided, leaving mothers to fend for themselves and orphaning children. Citizens rest in Frya and by the sea to keep safe while soldiers fought and fought to put out fires.
Frya was the last fortress, a place for Mrogane and her brother to stay during time of war. Being the leaders of Brocente they needed to be protected Morgane looked out the peephole of the dungeon where she had been interrogating an alchemist. Soldiers were able to locate him in the forest where he was hiding. Before he was able to run away the soldiers had him tied up and locked away. Now he sat, bruised and beaten, in a chair that was tied to his arms and legs. The chair was mended to the ground so there was no possibility of escape.
"Now, alchemist, I've done research on your kind. It appears your powers do not work unless given the proper elements, am I right?" Margane stood behind her prisoner in an attempt to intimidate him.
"You'd like to think, wouldn't you?" he sneered.
"So you can access them at any time then?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"Stop answering me with questions. Remember who you are dealing with."
"Like a few pieces of rope will keep me down," just like that, the ropes sizzled and slid to the ground and his hands were free. The guards surrounded him, pointing spears at his throat.
"Just because you can untie yourself does not mean you can leave here alive. Now, how does this alchemy work?"
"You would like me to teach you then," the alchemist was nervous now. He had the powers, but before he could use them he would be done for.
"Of course I would."
"And I shall teach you, on a condition."
"What conditions could you have?"
"Ensure my safety. If Pyrrhus knew I was helping you I would be put to death. When this war breaks out I want an escape.'
Morgane pondered the proposition. Learning to control fire would give her another way of attacking Pyrrhus. If the alchemist tried to trick her in any way she would have him killed. "Alright alchemist, teach me and you will have a deal."
Training was rigorous. The techniques of the alchemist were unique and required much studying. Symbols and combinations of elements needed to be learned in order to be successful. Morgane grew more relieved as she learned to control the beast that once tried to kill her. With this new ability she could tame the beast and use it against others. She would no longer have to dodge it; she could send it back to where it came.
Though Morgane was able to gain control over the element that tried to destroy her, she still felt defenseless. The attack had been launched while the town was asleep. Had it not been for William for waking her she would not have made it through the fire. She was weak because she had not been prepared. Since the incident she spent most nights awake, ready for anything that came for her. Nothing came for her; after Brocente was burned down Pyrrhus rested his attacks thinking he had won. Morgane needed to be ready for anything though, she could not be seen as weak.
Lack of sleep began to wear on Morgane. Her strategies were sloppy, having no clever beginning or end points. When others would ask if she was okay she would lie and tell them the stress of losing her city was weighing on her. But they could see something was wrong. She was falling apart all because she was not able to control what happened that day. Those events were unforeseen but now she would be ready.
After a few weeks Morgane had managed to make fire balls with her hands. She could shoot them at oncoming targets, but only for a short while. Creating fire through her body took copious amounts of energy and should be used in times of great need. Until she could truly master the power she would continue to be worn out by it. The attack on Darynan would be in a week and what she knew would be enough to help her get to Pyrrhus.
The weeks that past since the attack were proved to be no help to Brocente, it remained in shambles. Most of the forestry was wiped away, leaving small trunks of trees that used to exist. The crops were diminished and turned to dust with no way of being salvaged. Homes had burned to the ground, leaving very few habitable ones left. Smoke still surrounded the city, making the air difficult to breathe. The city was a black cloud, damaged and destroyed. Citizens fought to rebuild their homes and plant new crops but it would take years before the wreckage was reversed.
Upon the battlefield Morgane stood amongst her troops armed and ready to attack. They had started their march at day break and were nearing the entrance to Darynan. Morgane's troops stood ahead and beside her prepared to protect her. The troops from Frya stood behind ready to pick up the rear, in case of ambush. Morgane had inspired her troops, reminding them of the great loss due to Pyrrhus. Now it was his turn to feel the burn.
Once they were within the city arrows flew from rooftops aiming to kill. Some men were able to block the attacks while others were unable to move in time. Arrows burrowed into chest cavities, striking at the heart. Others were deflected by cast iron. Bodies collapsed in their spots worrying Frya's soldiers. Numbers dropped frighteningly fast and something needed to be done. Morgane's men moved fast and fierce to take out the attackers. They struck with swords without hesitation. On the battle field it was kill or be killed and dying was no option today. Within minutes the arrows ceased fire and those who survived fled.
The win raised the troop's morale, leading them to take charge into the city. Swords men jumped from hiding places, scaring unaware soldiers. Some were taken down without warning as others struck out of fear. The battle was brutal, but those who could fight got through the carnage. The swords men were skilled having been trained and prepared for war. Brocente's men had lost their will to fight years ago and lacked the skills necessary and others could not stomach taking another person's life. They fought until they could break through the men and make it near Pyrrhus' kingdom.
After surviving through the troops, Brocente's men were ready to take on their next challenge, but what happened was not what they expected. A swarm of Darynan fighters had collected around the troops, disconnecting them from Frya's men. As they attempted to reconnect, Frya's men quickly abandoned the battle. Remorse was not apparent of any of the men's faces. Within moments they were gone and Brocente's men were surrounded. Morgane was just between them, baffled by the recent departure. The strategic move was not part of her plan and now she and her men were defenseless. They fought all they could but without the proper armor the battle was soon over.
One of Pyrrhus's men grabbed hold of Morgane and gained control of her, shortly before she burnt his hands. She had nearly forgotten her new ability and this was as desperate a time as ever. Men came from all directions trying to grab hold of her as she shot fireballs towards them. Some had taken the blows, landing them off their feet, others managed to dodge and kept on running. After extended use of her powers, Morgane would not be able to fight back as hard. She had her sword, but her energy dropped quickly. A soldier latched to her back and she struggled to break free but her powers had passed their climax. Now small spurts of fire came, just enough to singe those who came near. Those who came near could tell she was worn out and stopped at nothing to capture her.
After exchanging glances the warriors ran towards Morgane, knowing that she would not be able to stop all of them at once, they took their chance at capturing her. Morgane shot small flashes of heat from her palm but soon those flashes turned to ashes. She blacked out before the men even reached her exhausted from the fight and lack of sleep.
"Morning my dear," Morgane awoke to the sight of Pyrrhus standing above her. Her memory of the battle was hazy and she could not remember being taken down.
"W-where…" she still lacked the energy she needed and fought to stay awake.
"Now, now dear, we will talk when you are awake."
The sound of men cheering echoed through the halls along with the pit pattering of water droplets. Prisoners whimpered in their cells, hoping to find escape before their punishments. One scratched at the wall to mark the days he spent trapped, a number nearing a year. Another ripped apart their serving of bread making it last as long as she could. A small child sat behind her, gripping the tattered cloth her mother wore. Neither had seen daylight in days and hunger ate at them.
Morgane awoke in panic; she had been trapped in a nightmare that was proving to be real. Around her she could see shadowy figures of people she did not know. Her cell was cushioned with straw and dirt that entwined with her hair. Small light came through a window just above her, but the chains around her neck made it difficult to stand tall. She was taunted by the desire to look outside and see where she was.
"They do it to torture us," the mother said looking away from her meal.
The voice shocked Morgane, she realized others were in the room but did not acknowledge that they could speak. "Do what?"
"Put in a window. The chains will never allow us to look outside again and they keep it just out of reach."
"How long have you been down here?"
"My daughter and I have been here nearly a month now."
"Your daughter is here? What could she have done to deserve this?"
"She is not in trouble, it is to hurt me. Knowing she will never have freedom again all because I denied the prince's orders."
Morgane suddenly remembered that she had been captured by Pyrrhus. He wanted to take her land and she would not give it up to him. "Where is the prince?"
"He will be coming for you again, just sit tight."
"Yes, you have been asleep for nearly a week now. He comes to check on you but you have not been responsive until now."
The nightmares she had were in fact true. She had been captured by Pyrrhus and no matter how hard she tried to fight him she could not work up the energy. Her fear of not having control made her vulnerable; the energy she needed to use her new ability was diminished and made her easy to capture. Chains rattled as she scooped together straw for a pillow. The worst has come and all she could do was pass the time.
Jingling noises made their way through the corridors into Morgane's cell. Prisoners cried out their pleas for freedom as others taunted the guards. Heavy footsteps came closer and closer to Morgane. When the steps stopped before her cell she rolled to see the shiny side of a blade. Her sword had been taken from her and now lay in the possession of Pyrrhus; she was defenseless unless she could manage her power.
"You are awake," his voice teased her.
"What do you want with me?"
"I'm sure you can figure that one out, your highness," he chuckled at himself. He had managed to capture the princess of Brocente, a feat no man had managed before.
"You will never get my land," in an attempt to stand, Morgane grasped the bars of her cage. She wanted more than anything to rip him to shreds.
"Oh careful, we would not want you to get hurt. Come let us feed you," several men flocked into the cell, weapons ready, and tied Morgane's hands behind her. The rope was thick, made of a scratchy material. It left burns on her wrists as she struggled to break free but it was no use. A near week of sleeping and not eating left her fragile enough for a guard to sling her over his shoulder and carry her up the steps.
Within the room she was brought to sit a chair and a table with a small bowl of soup and bit of bread. The guard sat her in front of the food, retying her to the chair as she was fed. Morgane knew fighting was a waste of time; she was bound in a way she could not break free of. The vigor the food provided was not enough to fight. She let her body rest against the chair.
Pyrrhus's men circled the room, ready to attack at any moment, just as her men circled the alchemist she captured. Pyrrhus stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders. The will to shrug him off fled from her and she could only stare at the empty bowl before her. Wind picked up, blowing her hair about, skittering across her shoulders and arms. Each wall was solid bearing no windows and no cracks; the source of the wind was a mystery.
"You are not the only one who learned a few tricks," his grip on her shoulders tightened and Morgane cringed from the pressure. "Don't think we didn't find that alchemist and destroy of him properly. No one betrays me and gets away with it. Now look at you, you are weak, too weak to use your new ability against me," there was certainty in his voice. He was right, Morgane could not conjure her ability, let alone sit up straight.
"Had my numbers not grown so low, you would be in this chair," her voice shook from the anger building inside of her.
"How do you think that happened? Those men just decided to flee on their own, denying the princess."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying you have an enemy in the ranks, princess. Those pesky Hadken were never quite fond of you, were they? They are the ones that ordered Frya's troops to exit quickly and no damage would come to them. You see, they got tired of how weak you were. Your own city burned to the ground and they were not about to let that happen to their own."
Information hit Morgane like a stone wall and she could not believe the words coming from his mouth. How could her own men turn against her? In the time of need her people needed to come together, not work against each other. The wind stopped swirling her hair and the air became dense. Her breathes were shallow but the oxygen levels in the room did not drop. Those she fought to protect turned against her and allowed her to be taken into captivity by their biggest threat. Now that she was not able to lead her city, it would be conquered by the man standing before her.
A surge of energy shot through to her finger tips and a small spark came at her finger tip, a revelation that assured Morgane that not all hope was lost. She repeated his words in her head, growing angrier and angrier with the memories. Soon the ropes around her wrists and ankles snapped and turned to ash, but though she were free the guards still blocked her way. She stood, grabbing the chair she previously sat in ad set it aflame. The bits shattered to pieces, as they came in contact with several guards, catching their garments.
Once they had been distracted, Morgane went for Pyrrhus. His winds could easily knock out her flames but that was not what she was after; she needed her sword. The sword remained secured to his side and with a slip of her hand it was hers again and she was gone. Her legs moved faster than she realized, nearly falling as she turned a corner. Soldiers lined hallways but were not prepared for the taste of silver she brought as she stormed past. Adrenaline fueled her, kept her moving; there was no stopping until she reached Frya.
After passing the cities gates her legs wobbled as her balance teetered but desperation and rage moved her. Running felt like standing on a cloud with the feel of wind on her face. Mountains grew before her and she knew she was getting closer to her destination. No obstacle could break her focus; she dodged rocks and jumped over ditches. She passed the charred remains of her once so vibrant Brocente, taking no time to aid workers in the rebuilding process. Frya would be mere miles ahead and the Hadken would feel no mercy.
Soon, charred ground turned to soft soil. The citizens of Frya starred amazed by the sight of Morgane. They had been assured the princess was no longer with them, as good as dead. Who received the greatest shock was William. He was prepared to go in swinging at the news of his sister's captivity; he did not expect her to break free so early. She ran past; meeting his troubled gaze and time had stopped again. His eyes were the same as the day she was trapped in the fire; ready to do what it took to save her and broken by the thought of losing his sister. Once again, she felt the panic and desperation; no traitor would get off easy today.
As she passed her brother, Morgan grasped his hand and maintained her speed. He stumbled, nearly losing his footing, but managed to keep up pace. The same anger that surged through her, now found its way to him. Though he did not know the Hadken were responsible, he knew someone was and they were going to get what was coming. In a joined frenzy, the two kept pace to their destination as citizens and soldiers watched in awe. Soldiers who had purposely retreated from the battle turned away in shame.
Wooden doors were no match to the flames that found their way from Morgane, igniting them like matches. Inside the Hadken headquarters workers were frightened. Their plans did not go as they had hoped and now they were to be punished. Just as Pyrrhus would not let those who betrayed him go unharmed, she would not let these men get off easy. William and Morgane fought through the minors, their pick axes having nothing on their swords. The brawl was brutal and no one was spared.
Morgane led the way up to the top floor where the Hadken's leader would be. He was the one to make a deal with the devil, selling out his princess who he should have served. A leader who begged for more power than he could handle, leading to the downfall of Morgane's empire. As they made their way into his office, he cowered against a wall with nowhere to run, but Morgane would not kill him, no his punishment would be worse than the release of death.
"Citizens of Frya, come and rejoice with your Princess. Soldiers, hold your heads high for you should not bare the shame of one man. This," she pulled the leader of the Hadken foreword. "This is the face of a traitor. This is a person low enough to sell out his own princess. He would buy you and sell you to Pyrrhus for trampled on pigs feed. Make him an example of someone you never wish to become and watch him spend his nights alone in the darkest cellar we can find. Minimal food, minimal water, no restroom," she tossed him foreword and watched as he fell to his knees.