At last, it’s finished!

Well, not entirely.  The story requires a good deal of editing, not least of which includes using the right name for everything! There’s a bit of tidying up to do, so that’s the next step. In the mean time I’m going to try some new stories. Enjoy:

***

The Temple of Dreams was before Felicia. Locked behind two giant, obsidian doors, gold-painted chains holding them shut, but they would not be much of a hindrance. Felicia had gathered her retinue in the catacombs, a small group of men from the Eastlands. Each of them had arrived by their own means. Brave fighters and hunters, they had sworn allegiance to her during the days, months, years of being an outcast. She had learned their fighting style, one of fluid motions, quick movements, and feints from nowhere. It suited her.

As she brought up her sword, Dusk, in order to cut through the chains, the sound of armoured footsteps came from behind her. The Temple of Dreams sat stop the castle at the end of one of its many marble walkways. Surrounded by arches, the walk to the Temple offered a splendid view of the kingdom. But Felicia’s eyes were fixed only at the other end, at the top of the stairs that came from below. She motioned to her comrades, ordering two to hide behind pillars, and two more to notch arrows. If her brother had not changed, there would be a fight.

Two of the King’s guard reached the top of the stairs, and seeing the archers, raised luxurious shields. The Arch-Knight followed them, raising his more suitable yet no less glorious shield. Then her brother came into view.

Her brother Sean looked well, healthy even. Felicia felt no anger. They were blood after all. She smiled.

“Hail, brother, oh Life’s Tyrant as they call you in the Eastlands. How do you fair?”

She saw a flash of red on his cheeks, but he recovered quickly.

“Sister, you and your jibes have not changed a bit. How good to see you.” He called out to her. “I do not know precisely what you plan, but it will fail. Look to the sea–the bale-fires burn the sky. Your fleet is set to the flame, it seems.”

Felicia glanced out to sea, down the length of the Romance. It was true, the horizon glowed unnaturally, and she doubted her small and under-equipped fleet could have razed the Golden Fleet. Still, that had not been the goal. She spied a small number of black specks entering the mouth of the river. Her mouth twitched.

“True. A minor setback. We may have more luck on the plains. Or perhaps, on the very streets of the Citadel of Day and Night. Or is it just of Day? I forget. Either way, the city is awake to its destinies.”

“Why have you returned?” spat Sean. “What is it that you want?”

“To restore the balance, of course. And since I know a civilised sibling discussion is off the table, I believe I’ll have to fight for that desire.”

“And a fight you shall have. Guards, Protector of Fate, dispose of my sister and her cronies. Let us be done with this.”

The Arch-Knight nodded, and marched solidly towards the usurpers.


The archers loosed their ammunition, but the arrows merely crashed off armour and shield. As smooth as a shadow they had another ready and fired again. One guard went down, gushing blood from a neck wound, but more were coming up the stairs. Felicia brought out her own bow, and pulled an arrow from her quiver. She had tipped them with Night’s Kiss, a nocturnal flower that opened only at night, the poison of its pollen too fast acting to counter. She aimed at her brother, but took out a hapless guard. She reloaded another, but the guards were almost upon them, as well as the Arch-Knight. She shifted her aim.

She struck the Protector of Fate on the ankle, and hoped it had pierced. She heard a growl of pain, but there was no time left to think–it was time to fight. She drew Dusk as the Arch-Knight raised a massive crimson broadsword. Her men unsheathed their rapiers as well. Battle was joined.

Round and round the melee swirled, a skirmish in the clouds. Felicia used all her skills, backstabbing clueless adversaries, riposting blows that would have maimed her. Her cloak of stars surrounded her, disorientating foes. But the retinue, those she trusted most, fell one by one. She watched in horror as the Arch-Knight drove his weapon clean through Master Graves. The Knight stumbled, the poison finally having an effect. Night’s Kiss did not hurt, but quickly put you to sleep forever. She stepped in to finish the job.

As she slid Dusk along the Arch-Knight’s throat, she felt a sharp pain in her side. Immediately she spun around, swinging her sword to deflect another strike. Behind her was Sean, the glow of Dawn dulled by blood.

“I never wanted to do this, Felicia.” He looked genuine. “But you’ve left me no choice. Coming back was never going to end well.”

Felicia spat phlegm and blood. She looked around. The King’s guards were dead or dying, and only one of her retinue was left, though he was wounded and unable to help. She flicked her eyes back to Sean.

“Brother, I have come here to end this. I have come to end this brutal sacrilege. The Temple of Dreams must be reopened, your Mirrors must be destroyed. Balance must be returned.”

“Never has the land been so prosperous! We work and toil longer, and gain ever greater riches. My armies are the strongest, the biggest. My people are the happiest. Or they were until you showed up. Do you think that crowning yourself queen will lead to something better? Your power resides in the dark, the cold of Night. Nobody wants that.”

The pain in her side was growing–there wasn’t much left in her. She shifted the hand that clutched her wound, fiddling with a pouch, as her right hand tightened its grip on Dusk.

“I have not come to crown myself. I have come to renew the cycle, brother.”

Sean’s eyes widened in realisation as Felicia struck during his moment of shock. He had time to raise Dawn, but with a lightening fast parry it was knocked to the ground by Dusk. Felicia drew the poison coated knife from her belt, and sunk it into her brother’s chest. He gripped her tightly, and she hugged him back.

“I am so sorry brother, but this must be done. Tomorrow, or whenever dawn should rise in this forsaken land, two babes will be born. Twins, yet different. We were a broken family, but with a new lineage balance will be restored.”

They looked into each others eyes. Felicia bent her head, and kissed Sean gently on the lips as his breath left him. She let him down to rest on white stone of his castle.

With the last of her strength Felicia picked up the greatsword of the Arch-Knight and wearily dragged herself to the Temple of Dreams. Raising it high above her head, she brought it down on the chains. She dragged the doors open, feeling the embrace of sleep and hopes and desires sweep over her. She was so tired, she realised. It would be good to sleep.

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