The Last Descendant Ch. 01byElianna©
She looked back towards the dungeons and the catacombs. She hoped she had chosen well.
"Take me to my father, Captain," she said wearily. "Then go and die with what honor you see fit."
"I will die defending the king," he said resolutely.
"You will die with honor, then."
The captain took her arm and hurried her through the remaining hallways towards the throne room of the king. She could hear shouts echoing down the hallways and the clash of metal that spoke of battle. It was upon them. The castle guards were taking their last stand. There was a large force of guards standing before the grand double doors that led to the throne room. When they saw Keldrig and the princess, they parted and allowed them to pass. Keldrig pushed upon the doors and they swung open easily.
"You'll need to barricade the door, princess," he said to her. "We won't be able to hold out against the enemy long. Perhaps the barricade will do more than I can."
"Goodbye, Princess," he said bowing to her for the first and last time.
Elenna stared after him for a moment and then obediently wedged the door closed with the long oak board, wondering to herself if perhaps she was safer facing her enemy than her own father.
"And so we end," she said turning to the king, her voice dead. "How does it feel to know your line ends today, father?"
The king said nothing. He was sitting hunched upon his throne, his large body almost completely still. His eyes were open and glazed, and she knew that he could not see or hear her. She sighed and walked to the throne and sat upon the bottom step leading up to the dais. It was time once again to wait.
Entrari led his own troops through the dark halls of the castle of Hartstak. This was a task he did not appoint to his generals; only his most elite and trusted men raided the palace. Less disciplined forces could not be trusted with the riches, women and children usually hidden in the strongholds of their enemies, but today his soldiers encountered none. Obviously the place had been evacuated, though he couldn't imagine how a large number of people could simply slip out unnoticed.
The whole thing was a mess. It started with Gosta's strange dream, and then he had that eerie feeling in the morning right before the attack. Now he was storming a deserted castle. Things just weren't making sense. From all he'd heard, the king was a raving lunatic, but the evacuated palace and the surrender of the Druids indicated otherwise. As he and his men fought the remaining palace guards, the uneasy feeling grew.
They made it easily to the great throne room, but by now Entrari had determined that the palace had been completely evacuated and he would find nothing. To his surprise, he came upon the last vestige of the palace guard standing resolutely before the door. Death was in their eyes. They were ready for the ultimate sacrifice. Once again, the imperial prince shook his head. Things just weren't making sense.
"Tell them to drop their weapons and their lives will be spared," he told one of his knights who spoke the language.
The soldier spoke in a loud voice to the guards. They did not reply and instead held their swords at the ready.
The prince saluted them with his own sword, acknowledging their sense of honor even if it was foolish.
"You little traitor," said the voice of the king sharply as he emerged from his trance. Without warning he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to her feet.
"Father!" Elenna cried in pain. "Stop!"
"Where are our people, Elenna?" asked the king menacingly.
"They're dead!" she cried in pain and in anger. "You've killed them! The armies of Haladon are marching through the palace as we speak and have destroyed our city!"
He struck her suddenly across the face and she stumbled to the ground. Her father was a large man and though his madness had weakened him, he was still quite strong.
"Your words are treason!" he screamed at her, his eyes glazed in his fit and his mouth foaming at the sides.
"Treason against what?" she shouted at him in tears. "In moments you'll have no crown!"
She heard the shouts of battle outside the throne room. The castle guards were making their last stand against the enemy. Suddenly the king paused and threw aside his ermine trimmed mantle, drawing a large sword from a scabbard at his side. His maddened eyes suddenly seemed clear and for a brief second, Elenna remembered the man she knew as a little girl.
Once, the king of Hartstak had been a powerful warrior. In his youth, he was feared, honored and revered for his skill at arms and his bravery. As a young man, he had shown more promise than had been seen in the monarchy for over 300 years. But then the madness came, and with the terrible decline of the king, so were the hopes of the people dashed. There were days when his eyes cleared that Elenna could only imagine what a king he would have been. However, only seconds later, the insane glare filled his eyes. He turned and looked upon his daughter with menace, the long sword suddenly pointed at her.
"Traitors to the crown must die," he said to her quietly. "I will not abide in a kingdom where a woman disobeys my commands."
"Father," she said looking up at him defiantly. "You have no kingdom."
There was a loud pound upon the massive doors.
In another sudden outburst the king shouted out in rage and kicked her forcibly in the stomach again and again screaming at her incoherently. She cried out in pain and struggled to breathe, the wind knocked from her lungs. Desperately she tried to crawl away from him, even as he continued to beat her and kick her in fury, his body contorting strangely and his eyes glowing.
"Papa! Papa!" she cried desperately hoping her voice would draw him from the fit. "Stop. Papa!"
Another loud pound upon the door shook the stones to the throne room. Elenna began to cry, but the king seemed shocked once again from his madness and held his sword aloft.
"Out of my way girl!" he cried. "Now you shall see the power of your king!"
Elenna wrapped her arms about her body gasping in pain. Then, mustering all of her remaining strength, she crawled to the side of the massive throne room and curled into a miserable ball, hoping to avoid the inevitable slaughter.
There was another thud and suddenly the massive doors blew inward. Elenna could feel the rush of power through her body. A sorcerer had entered the room!
"Drop your sword King of Hartstak," cried a man in a loud voice. He spoke Semanic, the common tongue of the lands. "Your kingdom is ended!"
"A kingdom ends only with the death of the king!" her father cried in retort.
"So be it," said the man.
Then he commanded his men in his own language. Elenna spoke it haltingly, but it sounded like he told them not to interfere. Even though her body was in pain and her mind clouded in exhaustion, Elenna noticed the magnificent armor the man wore. This was no mere soldier. A huge, white diamond sat in the crown of his helm, and his silver armor was polished to reflect light like a mirror. He held a bright sword aloft before his face in a strange salute to the king and then advanced upon the monarch with deadly grace.
She watched as her father held his own sword out in the style of their people and made ready to meet the man in shining armor. Insane though he was, the king of Hartstak had always been a gifted swordsman and once their swords met, his opponent seemed to respect him grudgingly. Perhaps his only weakness was that in his madness, the king was brazen and overzealous putting too much force behind his blows. The armored man was patient, watching calculatingly for mistakes, and his composure and coolness seemed to enrage the mad king even more. The monarch doubled his efforts and began to curse at him and swing erratically. Suddenly, with a sharp parry, the armored man wrenched the sword from the king's grasp and held his own at the madman's throat.
"No!" cried the king, slavering.
The mad king of Hartstak lifted his hand and uttered a word. Elenna gasped as she recognized the language of magic. The rush of power shook Elenna's wounded and weary body to the core. For a moment the soldier was surrounded by a sickening gray mist.
"I am a god!" the king cried suddenly and he began to caper and dance with joyous insanity.
"No," said the voice of the man in armor softly and deadly, "you're a madman." Suddenly the mist disappeared and he swung his sword powerfully at the insane king's head.
Elenna closed her eyes, but she could still hear the sound of sword severing bone and then she could hear the thud of a massive body collapsing to the floor. For several moments there was absolute silence and then a loud cheer went up among the ranks. Elenna shivered and curled up in a ball struggling to remain conscious.
She could hear the voice of the soldier calling to his men. It seemed that she'd been discovered, but she was barely conscious enough to understand what was going on. Someone grabbed her wrists and bound them tightly. She heard the soldier who had just slain her father command them something else, and a gag was bound across her mouth. He spoke to them quickly in his language and she barely understood the words "dungeon," and "sorceress." The soldiers bowed to him and called him "Your Highness."
The last thing she remembered before she lost consciousness was one of the soldiers saying, "What a beautiful girl."
So this is one of those stories I've had sitting on my hard drive for several years. Obviously I'm branching out into a new category, and I'd like your feedback on what's going well and what isn't. As always I love to improve :) If enough people are interested in this, I'll keep editing and posting... so give me a vote and some feedback so I'll know.
As always, you guys are the best!