Chapter 37 - Battle Trance
CHAPTER 37- BATTLE TRANCE
June 3, 1645 (Noon)
Island of Djinn, Virlinn
-Queen Almira Adrienne Ivaris-
“Duncan! Help me!” I shouted as I tried to free myself from my bonds. I shouted until my throat was hoarse but Duncan didn’t open the door and burst into the room to rescue me just like he always did.
Dread instantly filled me at the thought that something could have happened to him and his men. “No...” I whispered softly as King James laughed once more.
He waved his hand and whispered words I couldn’t understand. Instantly, my bonds were removed only to be replaced with a thick rope around my wrists. “Those are enchanted ropes. Try to struggle and it will only become tighter and tighter until it cuts your circulation.” He said in a menacing tone.
He walked towards me and lifted me from the chair. “Where are you taking me?!?” I shouted.
“You’re going to see your beloved husband.” He replied.
“W-what?” I stammered.
Seth is already here? Then that would explain the familiar feeling in my spine that I felt minutes ago. No... This can’t be... Gods no...
King James Murray continued to drag me across the room. He flung the door open and I gasped at the sight that greeted me. Duncan and his men were sprawled across the hallway. “No!” I shouted and quickly kneeled beside Duncan.
But before I was able to touch him, King James pulled my arm up and dragged me away. “No need to fret. They’re only asleep by a spell. They’ll wake in a few hours. Now, come. You must not miss this show.” He said excitedly. His tone sent shivers down my spine and fear around my heart.
We exited the palace and I found that his servants had horses waiting for us. The King dragged me to his mount. He climbed up his horse first and then reached for me and lifted me onto his lap. He reached over for the reins and directed the horse on a fast gallop.
When we reached a clearing over the cliffs, he stopped for a few moments and pointed at the horizon.
“Look there.” He instructed. I turned my head to look and saw a ship in the distance. It was moving very fast towards the dock. Icy fear gripped me in its claws as I saw my husband’s ship making its way towards a trap.
“Seth... Please... If you hear me... Don’t continue. Go back! It’s a trap!” I tried to send him these thoughts in my mind and hoped that he heard it. I concentrated hard to get my message across through whatever bond we have.
But there was no reply...
King James Murray spurred his horse again and we were racing towards the beach once more. We rode hard for what felt like hours and finally emerged behind a rock near the beach. He reached behind him and dangled a scrap of cloth in front of my face. I tried to move away from him but his grip was tight.
“What are you doing? No!” I shouted as he tied the gag around my mouth and muffled any sounds I made. “Shh...” he said in a soothing tone. “Just making sure that you don’t ruin everything before our grand entrance.”
I tried to scream and curse at him but all that came out were muffled, incoherent sounds. King James lifted an amused eyebrow and laughed at my pathetic attempts.
“Now we wait.” He said in an evil tone.
We waited for a few moments and then I saw several small boats from the distance. My eyes scanned the rows of men for my husband. I was able to see him quickly for he stood out among men. His skin was radiant and glowing just like how Aiken looked in all of my dreams and visions.
I roamed my eyes over his body and saw that he wasn’t wearing his usual black tunic and breeches but a golden robe and white pants that also glowed with light. This was what Aiken wore when he was crowned King...
I closed my eyes and tried to feel the magic around me. There were three things that stood out: the evilness behind me, the power of Ruadan and a warm and bright spark.
The warmth and brilliance of the sun...
“Ahhh... I did not expect this. I see that Aiken now has re-emerged.” Argyll whispered behind me. I looked back and he was smirking as if this event did not even ruin his plans one bit and instead it became better.
Argyll watched with interest as Seth talked to the men while I looked on with fear and confusion. Could it be true that Seth has done what I cannot? That he has remembered everything and accepted that he is Aiken?
Did he have his memories and his powers back? If so, then he stood a chance! Hope blossomed inside me. If what Argyll said is true, then his powers here in this realm is weak. And Seth, combined with Aiken’s powers, could quickly defeat him!
I closed my eyes and sent a silent prayer to the Cosmos.
Please... Help my husband... Don’t let him die again... We have not fulfilled our destiny yet. Please give him strength... Please don’t let him fall into this trap.
My fear and confusion turned to one of awe as I saw Seth jump from the boat and his form shimmered. When he landed on the shallow waters, his golden robes were gone and it was replaced by black breeches. His chest was bare except for straps that held his weapons in place. His arms were also left bare and I saw that he had a tattoo of a sun in his arm. Seth didn’t have any tattoos but Aiken did.
I exhaled as I saw that Seth truly has merged with his past as the God Aiken...
There were two black straps that crisscrossed in the center of his chest. These two straps held the two large swords in place on his back. There were several smaller straps on his chest which all held sharp daggers.
In the blink of an eye, he withdrew both swords and placed it in front of him in a clear battle stance. His legs were planted wide apart and he crouched low. One of his swords was held out in front of him with his elbow bent while the other was at his back.
He threw back his head and roared his battle cry to the heavens.
And with that signal, the men with him all leapt to their feet and charged the Virlinn soldiers.
June 3, 1645 (Earlier that Day)
Island of Djinn, Virlinn
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
My entire body hummed with power as I felt the ship pass through the barrier of the island that contained the Fountain of the Gods. The sensation was a pleasurable one. It was as if a huge amount of power was being dangled before you and you can just reach out and take hold of it.
I closed my eyes and allowed my body to be immersed in the island’s heady aphrodisiac. This almost felt like being back at Ilyia. This, right here, felt like being a God once more. A powerful God...
The magic felt like freedom... It felt like coming home...
I opened my eyes when I heard the sound of footsteps right outside my cabin door. There was a knock and Malcolm entered. He bowed before me but not before he had this stunned look in his eyes.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Y-you’re glowing brighter...” Malcolm remarked. I nodded. “It’s because I’m close to a source of power.” I answered. He sighed and shook his head as if he still did not understand everything.
“I’m afraid I have bad news...”
I felt something inside me crack. Please let this not be about my queen. Please let her be safe... We’re almost there. We’re very near the shores of Virlinn and just a few hours away into being with her again.
“What is it?”
“A raven arrived bearing bad news. Ivaris is under siege. The provinces have fallen. The last frontier is the Walled City of Arcadia and even now, the defences are crumbling down. The message says that it’s only a matter of time before Arcadia falls and then Ravenswood...”
I felt the light in me become completely extinguished. Then I threw my head back and roared. My power flared with my temper and it flashed in a display of blinding white light. Malcolm raised his hand in front if his face to shield it. Then he took a step back.
“Who dares?!?” I bellowed.
“The invaders march under the Virlinn flag. According to the missive, they wore no colors when they first marched but when they declared their intent, they raised the Virlinn flag high in the air.” Malcolm said with anger in his voice.
“Treachery!” I shouted. And then I remembered something about a large army camped outside the borders of Virlinn wearing no colors. “They were the ones who attacked us at the beach! They were there and it was Murray’s army! That bastard. I shall rip him apart!” I shouted.
I quickly walked past Malcolm and threw the door open. I went up the stairs and emerged into the ship’s deck. Because of Kaori’s winds, the ship was gliding smoothly over the waves of the ocean. I could already see the docks of Djinn Island from a distance.
I clenched my fists in anticipation. I would rip apart Murray’s body and then throw it into the sea for the sharks. I also bowed my head for Ivaris. For all the brave men who fought and for all those who lost their lives in the process.
I should have been there. Adrienne and I should have been in Ravenswood. Knowing that she’s safe, I could fight an entire army and Ivaris wouldn’t fall. I ran my fingers through my hair in frustration.
All the problems just keep piling up!
“What are your orders regarding Ivaris? Should we turn back?” Malcolm asked.
“No. We’re nearly there. Besides, the return trip would take days and we wouldn’t know how much time we would need to fight them. I must retrieve my queen and then we can regroup and plan our strategy.” I replied.
Malcolm nodded and he began to pace the deck. He was as angry and as anxious as me.
“Prepare the longboats!” the lead sailor shouted. I heard loud splashes of water as several longboats were dropped onto the water. My men along with the sailors went down the ladder beside the ship and into the longboats. They picked up the oars and began to maneuver the boats.
I dropped down one of the boats and we all began to row towards the shore. One longboat contained about forty men. There were three longboats all in all. I scanned the beach and saw that Virlinn soldiers were already standing on deck in anticipation of a fight.
I was able to recognize the signs of an upcoming battle and my body responded immediately. Energy coursed through my body in waves and my muscles tensed in anticipation of the upcoming fight.
My hands itched to hold my sword and the savage beast inside me wanted to be appeased by the sight of the blood and carnage of battle. My senses became sharper and suddenly, it was as if everything was in slow motion. I could hear every sound and see every sight very clearly. My peripheral vision also became sharpened and I could see every movement on the corner of my vision.
The men rowed and each dragging motion of the large oars brought us closer and closer to shore. When we were near enough, I ordered my men to halt with a raise of my hand. I wanted to talk with the soldiers first and see if we could be allowed entrance without any bloodshed.
“Who goes there and what is your business here?!” one of the men, who I assumed to be the leader, shouted.
“I am Seth Liam Ivaris XV, King of Ivaris! I have reason to believe that your king is harbouring my queen. I am here to get her back.” I declared. The soldiers surprised me by laughing.
“Ivaris has fallen! You are no longer a King! And you dare go here with only a small contingency of men? Not a wise move! You cannot pass!” the soldiers’ leader taunted.
I summoned my power and jumped high into the air, out of the boat and into the water. Before I landed, my body glowed with a bright light. The moment that the light died, my golden robes were gone and it was replaced with my battle gear.
I felt the straps of my swords on my back and felt its comforting weight. As Aiken, I fought with one sword: The Destroyer. As Seth, I learned to fight with two swords and one of them I inherited from my father in this life, King Anstruther. He was also the one who trained me to fight with a sword using both my hands so I wouldn’t be rendered defenceless when something happened to my sword hand.
It was a great trick and now, I shall merge past and present and fight with two curved swords instead of one: Destroyer, the sword of Aiken the God and Conqueror, the sword of Seth, the King.
I crouched low and bent my right elbow in front of me. The other one I placed on my back. By now, the battle haze has consumed all of me and I felt the energy pounding inside my veins to be let loose. I haven’t fought for a long time and the God inside of me yearned for the blood and the carnage.
My heart pumped faster inside my chest and I exhaled loudly.
Time to let the beast free.
I threw my head back and opened my mouth. The sound came from my chest, travelled to my throat and then split the air with a loud battle cry. I heard the sound of steel as my men withdrew their swords in answer to my call. They leapt from the boats and I heard the loud splash as they landed into the shallow water and ran towards the shore.
All thoughts fled my mind except for the need to kill. The need to shed blood and the need to maim. The intense burning for victory...
The leader of the soldiers rushed towards me and before he could blink, his head was separated from his shoulders and rolled onto the sand to be kissed by the salty water of the sea. I thrilled in my first kill and turned around just as another soldier raised his sword and attempted to stab my back.
I flung the Conqueror up in defence while Destroyer surged forward and imbedded itself into the man’s stomach. I twisted the curved sword and I watched with glee as the life faded from the man’s eyes. I lifted my foot and planted it in his chest so that my sword could be freed.
I heard a loud grunt and saw that Malcolm was pinned down by two men. He was fighting fiercely but they outnumbered him. I transferred both swords into one hand and reached for the straps to draw a dagger.
I aimed and threw it and the first dagger found its mark on one soldier’s right eye. He fell sideways and Malcolm was able to rise. Without hesitation, he swung his sword and his opponent’s entrails coated the warm sand of the beach.
The savage warrior side of me revelled in seeing the blood and the gore before me. It increased my energy and made me stronger. I grinned and held both swords in hand once more. I twirled them around in a challenge and four soldiers quickly rushed towards me.
I jumped high into the air and crossed both arms across my chest. Then I swung them downwards and two heads rolled and joined those that already littered the sands. The two others who rushed towards me blinked and looked hesitant.
“Scared?” I taunted and twirled my weapons again.
The hesitation vanished in their eyes and they rushed towards me again. They spread out and one attacked me from the left while the one attacked on the right. I crouched down low and spun around in a circle. I kept my arms steady and I felt the flesh tear and bones crunch. When I stood up straight again four halves of two broken bodies faced me. They screamed in pain and I quickly ended it by stabbing the hearts inside their chests.
Before I could stand up, an arm wrapped around my neck and squeezed tight. The breath was instantly knocked out of me and I struggled to be freed. Another one rushed towards me and kicked both my hands which made me let go of my weapons.
I grunted at the effort and then flew deeper into rage as I saw their triumphant faces. They thought they could bring a God down with this?
Well they were wrong.
I bent forward and then rolled and slammed down my first attacker into the sand. Before the other one could grab me again, I swung my foot in a sweeping wide arc and I caught the back of his knees. The maneuver sent him tumbling backwards.
I brought my attention back to the man before me and I drew one dagger. With a swift motion of my hand, I brought the dagger forward in a slashing motion. The man’s frightened screams were silenced and replaced with gurgling noises as the blood poured out from his mangled throat.
I stood up and looked for my swords but there were too many men fighting and the beach was turned into chaos. I heard loud cries and saw that men were rushing towards me again. I grinned and started to remove all the daggers in my vest. I threw them one by one with deadly precision and one by one, the enemies fell.
Their broken bodies fell to the sand and blood ran down their faces as my daggers found its mark in their heads. My daggers ran out and I dove into the sand for my swords. When both of them were on hand again, I whispered the magic words to retrieve my enchanted daggers.
“Ki’rham.” I whispered and the daggers shimmered and vanished from the bodies it killed and returned to my straps clean and free of blood, waiting to be used again.
The battle continued on and on and I lost count of those I killed. My hands and my swords dripped the blood of my enemies and it turned the white sand into red. My body was covered with sweat, blood and sand. My hair stuck to me head in clumps of sweat.
Yet I never felt more alive than today. It felt good to unleash the savage side of me. The beast part of me that enjoyed the thrill of the battle and the amount of power it triggered inside of me. The God part of me revelled at being unleashed.
I am Aiken, the God of Warriors and this is what I do best.
The thrill of victory seeped through the battle haze and I was able to see things clearly. Not a single Virlinn soldier was standing and we were the winners of this siege. Some of my men also fell but the ones who survived were more than those that have fallen. I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw that among the survivors was Malcolm. He smiled at me but his entire posture showed how tired and drained he was.
The battle lust slowly evaporated and the energy dissipated. I found some minor cuts on my skin but they were already healing with the help of my power. I sent a wave of healing energy towards my men and it came in a flash of warm blue light. Their heads shot up and they looked at me thankfully.
I closed my eyes and raised my hands to the heavens. “Zoran, God of Death, I entrust to you the souls of my men. May you guide them to the light and peace of the Cosmos... Cosmos, o great one, take the souls of the fallen into your loving embrace...” I whispered and then channelled my energy.
The bodies of the fallen men vanished and I sent them back to Ivaris to their family so that they may receive the proper rites of a burial and so that their loved ones can mourn their departure. This is an honor I have given those who have fallen in battle. This is for those who fought for the light of truth and the right cause ever since I started fighting...
The men saw their fallen comrades vanish and started to move to tend the other wounded. I went towards them so we could plan our next move. I halted when I sensed a new amount of magic in the air. I also saw movement in my peripheral vision. I turned around and there stood King James Murray of Virlinn with an arrogant smirk on his face.
I instantly felt the urge to wipe away that smirk by slamming his face on the sand and smearing the blood of the fallen on his face.
“Where’s my queen?!?” I growled.
“Closer than you think.” He replied still with that smirk. I scanned the beach and the nearby forest for any signs of Adrienne but she was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is she?!? Give her back and I swear I won’t kill you.” I growled. My body vibrated with energy as I said those words.
“Oh?” James taunted.
My hands immediately went to the daggers inside my vest and I pulled two free from their sheaths. With a flick of my wrist, I could end his pitiful existence. I threw it and aimed for his head but he was able to raise his hand and it was as if a shield was erected before him. The dagger fell to the sand.
He used magic and I felt it. It was a sorcerer’s magic. I never knew that the King of Virlinn practiced sorcery... But... Underneath that magic was a greater magic, an evil one. It felt very familiar...
“Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Still as hot-headed as ever. By the way, I enjoyed seeing you fight, Seth. You know, like I always do.” He said.
“And you always lose whenever we fight.” I spat.
“True. But it wasn’t I who lost. It was the old James Murray. As I recall, whenever we fought and trained in Ilyia, we were nearly equals. Of course, you have the advantage... You being the God of Warriors and all that... King Rashad did not choose you to lead his army because of nothing...”
All my muscles clenched after I heard his words. How did he know about all that?
And then he answered as if he was able to read my mind. “Oh, I know all about you, Aiken. I was your second-in-command. Don’t you remember me?” he asked in a tone filled with sarcasm.
Everything else clicked into place. “Argyll.” I snarled.
“Hello, Aiken.” He said cheerfully.
“How--?” I started but he cut me off.
“Plenty of time to catch up later. And it’s quite a long story. I think we’d both be more comfortable if we reminisce about times past in my humble castle. Nowhere near as elegant as yours of course. Oh wait. Ivaris is not yours anymore! It’s mine!” He laughed.
In the blink of an eye, I had my sword in my hand and I was running towards him. I intended to sever his head from his body and I shall do it happily. He raised his hand and a shield was erected in front of him once more.
“You’re coming with me.” He declared.
“I don’t think so.” I replied and raised my palm. I started to draw energy from the sun and intended to channel it into Argyll’s shield so that I would be able to kill him.
“Ah... Pity...” he replied.
He waved his hand in front of him and the air shimmered. It was as if a veil has been lifted and a figure before Argyll was revealed. My heart stopped as I took in what I saw.
It was my queen.
Adrienne, my wife, bound and gagged and being held by Argyll. There was genuine fear in her eyes and she tried to speak but her gag wouldn’t allow it. She held her bound wrists up in her chest and her entire body trembled with fear.
She was wearing a replica of Selene’s gown in Ilyia. It was white and embroidered with golden thread in a beautiful intricate pattern. More anger rose inside me at the thought that Argyll orchestrated all of this. His twisted mind even went so far as to clothe Adrienne in an imitation of Selene’s clothes.
I know she still does not remember for her power is still encased inside of her...
More anger rose inside me.
“Do not think of using her as a shield. You will die for your treachery!” I shouted and my hand glowed as a small ball of fire began gathering more and more energy. I felt it draining my strength but I continued to try and make it more powerful so that I’ll be able to kill Argyll with one hit.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” He said in a menacing tone. When I looked up again, the Silver Dagger that killed me was now aimed at Adrienne’s neck. He smirked when my face lost all its color.
He pressed the dagger closer and I saw a small trickle of blood drop down from a wound and rin down the bodice of her gown. She whimpered and my heart was encased with terror.
Pure, paralyzing terror at the thought of losing her again...
“Now, let’s try it again Seth. Shall we?” he said. The smirk was back in his face.
“You are coming with us and you shall be my prisoner.” He said with triumph in his voice.
I sighed and accepted my defeat. I could not risk Adrienne a second time. I could not bear the thought of losing her again. Knowing Argyll, he wouldn’t hesitate killing her in front of me. I let the magic leave me and my weapons vanished. Once more, I was clothed in the golden robes and white pants that I wore as a King.
I tamed the Warrior part of me and tucked it away.
“Yes. I’m coming with you.” I said. Adrienne shook her head repeatedly.
“You’re the most important part of my life...” I told her.
I smiled at her in an effort to comfort and assure her. Then, I held out my hands. Argyll waved his hands and my wrists were bound together. He whispered some archaic words and I knew it to be some sort of spell for an enchanted sleep. Instantly, I felt tired and my eyelids felt very heavy.
The last thing I saw before I lost consciousness was Adrienne’s tear-stained face and her beautiful brown eyes gazing at me with a mixture of crippling fear and intense longing...