Laran looked up as Lord Aristata walked in a huge grin spread across his face making Laran laugh. As he walked gracefully over to the table at six foot four with his short dark auburn hair classic good looks and athletic build, he could have the pick of any of the girls but no he had to want the one who never seemed interested. This Laran found most amusing about his friend and spent most of his time teasing Aristata about that fact.
‘Finally got past first base then?’ Laran grinned back at his friend and second in command.
‘Oh yeah,’ Aristata replied his eyes glazing over with a small smile flitting across his features as he bent his head to give the appearance, he was looking over the plans spread across the table.
‘Does that mean I’m finally going to get to meet her then?’ Laran asked.
‘Maybe, one day,’ Aristata hesitated in his answer his expression sheepish.
‘Why all the secrecy, we’re friends aren’t we? You’re being so cloak and dagger about this mystery lady of yours I’m beginning to think you’re making her up.’
Lord Aristata was serene, ‘you’ll get to meet her…eventually. It’s just that...you know you’re a big scary fella. The last thing I need is you scaring her off. Besides remember that little blond I introduced to you one look at you and I didn’t even register,’ James huffed crossing his arms over his chest.
‘What’s that supposed to mean, I’ll have you know I can be the perfect gentleman…when I want to be. Yeah, I remember her racy little thing,’ Laran shrugged with a look of mock hurt. ‘I feel I did you a favour with her showed her true colours.’
‘Hmm…a likely story, anyway, look sharp the boss is coming,’ Lord Aristata said as Mother Nature entered the command tent.
‘What are you two slackers chuckling about?’ Holly asked as she walked over to Laran and put her arm around his waist, kissing him on the cheek as she did so.
‘James here is about to finally reveal the identity of his mystery girlfriend?’ Laran announced with a cheeky grin.
‘You know full well who she is,’ James laughed as Laran kissed Holly back.
‘Oh, get a room you two,’ said Ash as he walked into the tent, Laran grinned at him, he looked tired and not his usual cocky self.
‘That baby still keeping you up then Ash?’ Laran enquired watching a huge grin spread across Ashe’s face.
‘Sure, is the little rascal and I get massive brownie points if I get up to him at night,’ he winked at the others making them chuckle. ‘Heard you met Jasmines family, how did that go?’
‘Oh, you know awkward as you would expect I am not quite what her father had in mind for a son in law. Who told you’ James chuckled as a blush crept up his neck.
‘Oh, erm Lord Allocise, the girls are friends you know,’
‘How’s Ana?’ Holly asked grinning she liked the springs and felt Lord Aristata needed a diversion.
‘Still messing with that rock star,’
‘Yeah cocky bastard, hoping she takes him down a peg or two,’ Ash chuckled. ‘Bought her a château last month been holed up there ever since,’
‘Right then are we doing this,’ James enquired still grinning ‘I for one am certain that Lord Eriator is in there and once we’ve got him, we can nip this little rebellion in the bud,’ he grinned.
‘Alright ladies, enough socialising, we have a job to do. I’ve just spoken to Alectrona and her man on the inside has assured her that the Dark Elf Emperor is definitely in the castle,’ Holly said her expression serious.
‘How certain is Alectrona that her man is trustworthy? It wouldn’t be the first false lead we’ve had recently,’ Ash asked.
‘She’s pretty positive, apparently her spy is pretty high up the Dark Elf pecking order and is possibly even a lord,’ Holly reassured him. Ash studied the map ‘Exactly how certain are you, it’s too costly capturing this place, I’m not sure we can afford it if it turns out to be an expensive ruse.’
‘Yes, I’m sure, Alectronas man on the inside assured her that he is definitely there,’ Aristata replied.
‘Yes, well I’m not too thrilled to be trusting Alectrona on this one, after all she won’t even tell us who this Dark Elf spy of hers is,’ Ash replied
‘Alectrona assured me her man was well placed.’
‘He must be, from what I’ve heard things are falling apart in the Dark Elf camp, the Emperors generals have realised that the end is near and apparently there have been two attempts on the Emperors life this year alone. He’s had to move around a lot to stay ahead of the dissidents let alone us,’ James Aristata said.
‘I’m pretty certain this is the one, the moment news got out that we had the castle surrounded a large Dark Elf force rushed up to aid them. Anahuit managed to intercept them and is currently engaging them around a small town twenty miles south of here. Even if the Emperor isn’t inside, this place must be pretty important for them to respond like that,’ Holly replied.
‘Well alright then, how do we get in to find out for certain?’ Ash asked with anticipation.
‘That’s where I come in,’ Laran said as he leaned over a large map of the Dark Elf stronghold on the table.
‘The Emperor had holed up in a classic medieval castle town. Due to the strong possibility that there are plenty of civilians inside we aren’t going to be using artillery to crack the nut I’m afraid. As such I’ve brought up a force of trolls to break through the castle front gates into the city. Lord Aristata and I will be leading the vanguard with them. We’ll fight our way through the city to the main fortress complex.’ Laran gazed around at the faces before him.
‘Seems like the best plan, FERA want him alive if that is possible,’ Holly smirked as Laran rolled his eyes.
‘That settles it then,’ Laran said with a grin, I will lead my men over the walls with the grappling hooks and capture the gate house, once its open you will bring your men up to assist me Aristata, and help me secure the courtyard. Assuming we still have some semblance of a fighting force after that, Ash’s troops will link up with us and well storm the keep, agreed.’
‘Agreed,’ Ash Aristata and Holly said together before steaming out of the tent to make the final preparations
The castle was heavily defended, and the fighting was fierce, Laran took the first wave of troops and using grappling hooks scaled the walls, before securing the gate from the other side, without too much trouble. Right on cue Aristata led his men rushing through the narrow entry way to join him ‘Are you secure here,’ he panted getting his breath back
‘Yeah just about,’ Laran managed he could feel pain.
‘Your bleeding Laran where are you hurt,’ Aristata looked at him concerned he could see a lot of blood.
‘It’s fine just a scratch looks worse than it is,’ he grinned to reassure Aristata
‘Okay if you’re sure Ash and Holly are in already, found a poster gate and blasted their way through.’
Laran looked up with alarm that wasn’t the plan damn that woman. He took a deep breath and blocked out the pain.
‘Better get in there then,’ Laran managed heading toward the entrance six of his best warriors flanking him.
What met him inside was shocking, the castle was littered with bodies of fallen combatants and the corridors were thick with smoke
‘Ah king autumn at last so good of you to finally join us,’ a tall dark elf smiled evilly at him he nodded his head slightly and another group of dark elves moved forward neutralising Laran’s guard and taking hold of Aristata dragging him forward and forcing him to kneel.
‘What do you want,’ Laran snarled realising too late he had walked into a trap the dark elves had been warned he had been betrayed.
‘I want the elder council crushed and I want this planet back and without you I can remove the human vermin once and for all,’ he answered calmly all the while smiling. Two of the elves picked up king springs body and dragged it forward dumping it on the ground in front of Laran.
‘Your brother I believe,’ the elf smiled coldly as he nodded his head and Holly was dragged forward, she was barely conscious Laran’s eyes opened wide with shock as the elf calmly stabbed her through the heart dropping her next to Ash
‘Oh, whoops did I just kill Mother Nature,’ he starred at Laran coldly smirking as he slowly walked toward Laran
‘I can’t kill you, but I can make this hurt make you scream for death, just like you did to my family. Do you remember them? No didn’t think so,’ he casually dragged the blade of his sword down Laran’s body before stabbing him in the thigh dropping him to the ground. Taking a handful of Laran’s hair he pulled his head up forcing Laran to look him in the eye. ‘Your disgusting elves raped my wife while my son was forced to watch, watch his mother beg for mercy and do you know when they had finished with her they turned on an innocent child,’ Smiling he ran Laran through enjoying the pain on his face before dropping him to the floor. Kneeling down he grabbed a handful of Laran’s hair. ‘If one day you have a son I will hunt him down and I will make you suffer like I did, you will know how it feels to know you failed that you couldn’t save them,’ rising to his feet he casually turned and walked away from the carnage that now littered the floor.
‘Goodbye king autumn might see you around,’ he laughed as he stepped over Laran’s body viciously clubbing Aristata on his way out knocking him to the floor unconscious.
Robert paced the room in the distance he could hear the crash of artillery, he knew they were heading this way. He also knew they were outnumbered, and they couldn’t fight them. His only option was to get Jasmine and baby Gaillardia away to safety if only his stubborn friend would agree. In his head he cursed the humans stupid war as it was the perfect cover for the elves to wage a war of their own.
‘James you have to take them and leave.’
‘It is too late for that or did you know that?’ James whirled around and glared at Robert.
‘No, it isn’t, if you don’t, she will kill you both,’ Robert pleaded.
‘Both, you have struck a deal haven’t you, what do you get, Jasmine, you have always been jealous that she picked me,’ James glared at Robert seeing the emotions morph across his face. ‘No not her, him you get my son.’
‘No James she would never allow that, and you know it. Helen is dead, Laran is missing,’
‘The boy, Laran’s son, where is he?’ James asked.
‘I don’t know, FERA took him,’
‘I told you to drop it,’
‘How could I drop it. Its his future what he will become,’ James turned to his friend. ‘Keep him safe, don’t let him meet her. If he never meets her, he will be normal just an elf,’ James pleaded. ‘Robert you have to find his pair the other one,’ James was almost manic now so worried for his sons future.
‘I will do everything in my power to keep him safe, but he has to survive this first,’ Robert paced the room.
‘Rose has charmed him giving him a better than average chance to survive this,’
‘Rose what does she have to do with this?’
‘She knows, about the link about his heritage. I am sure she knows who the other one is,’
‘Damn the Natures,’ Robert swore.
‘Why, why must she die as well, I don’t understand,’ James slumped into a chair and ran his hands through his hair the opulence of the room seemed to mock him, all his wealth and influence and he couldn’t save them.
‘Please James, you know what she plans, take him and hide him please if only for Jasmine,’
‘No, she will hunt us down, I would still have to hide my son away, I still won’t see him grow up,’ James got to his feet. ‘Go to Hàlfr get Gail to him it’s the only way he will be safe,’
‘Not Bracken then?’
‘No, they would never let him have him you know that,’ James looked at his friend and probably rival. ‘Watch over him for me won’t you promise me that.’
‘Yes, yes of course.’
‘Thank you now I have a village to defend,’ with one final handshake James strode from the room certain he would never see his friend or family again.
He walked into the office building striding purposefully toward the lift. No one paid him any attention he was just another man in a dark suit. He stepped into the lift and selected the fifth floor stepping out he walked calmly with authority to the office the target would be in.
He knocked and pushed the door open without waiting for a reply removing the gun from his jacket pocket as he stepped into the office. The woman turned her eyes widening with fear as she gazed at the gun pointing directly at her.
‘Sarah Le Sar?’
‘Yes who…,’ her sentence unfinished as she crumpled to the floor a single bullet hole to her head.
Jacen walked the dog along the lane to Willows house upon arrival he knocked on the door and tried the handle. It was locked. Strange, he thought to himself, they never lock the door. After a few more seconds of waiting he decided that there mustn’t be anyone in. Just to be sure, he took the dog and wandered down to the green houses to find David. Maybe he would know where Willow was. He was only to find all that locked up as well. Jacen shrugged and turned and walked back up the lane to his house with the dog. Getting his phone out of his pocket he text Willow.
Where are you???
I am with gran
Got some new powers
You will enjoy these
Bet I won’t. Is Gail awake yet???
No not yet
Jacen shoved the phone into his pocket and walked back along the lane to his house calling the dog as he went. Putting his earbuds back in and listening to his music he strolled along coming to an abrupt holt at the sight of three dark cars parked on the drive.
Pushing the door open he pulled the earbuds from his ears and silenced his phone as the dog scampered past his legs into the kitchen. Jacen toed his boots off and pushed his feet into his trainers. Gingerly he walked along the passage to the kitchen struck by the silence. Odd he thought the house was rarely silent even if his dad was home alone, he would have the telly on.
He entered the kitchen to find his dad sat at the kitchen table talking to some men in suits they all looked up when he walked in and his dad tentatively smiled. Jacen could see his dads’ eyes were red rimmed as if he had been crying. What the hell was the first thought that went through his head. Jacen could see this was anything but normal.
‘I…um just took the dog for a walk,’ he muttered looking around the room he opened his mind the way Heli had taught him the men were FERA agents and they were here to collect him and his dad and remove them to a safe location. Why thought Jacen smiling pleasantly.
‘Have you been to see Willow,’ his dad asked smiling at him.
‘No not yet, might later,’ he replied trying to be normal while trying to form a plan these people wouldn’t know he could travel by tree or that he knew what they were all thinking. ‘I…err was going to do some study in my room if that’s okay with you guys,’ he smiled again.
‘Oh, it might be best if you don’t. Jacen there has been an incident involving your mum,’ Mark gazed at Jacen and Jacen could clearly see his dad was only just keeping it together. Jacen cleared his mind and gazed at his dad focusing like Heli had taught him. Jacen felt the colour drain from his face as he picked up his dads’ thoughts. His mum was dead, murdered.
‘Dad where is mum?’ Jacen whispered sitting down next to his father.
‘She’s gone,’ Mark managed as one of the FERA agents turned to them.
‘Okay time to go,’ he gestured to Jacen and Mark to get up.
‘Where are we going where are my sisters?’ Jacen asked climbing to his feet his dad doing the same as the kitchen exploded erupting in gunfire. Jacen dropped to the floor pulling his dad down as the FERA agents returned fire.
Jacen felt his dads’ hand on his arm. ‘Jacen get out of here find your sisters,’ Mark gasped. Jacen gazed at his dad seeing the blood bloom cross his chest like a macabre flower as Mark slumped to the floor.
‘No dad, don’t,’ Jacen held his dads’ hand in desperation that he could will all this to just go away, feeling it go limp as tears ran down his face. Finally, he let go and crawled toward the back door slipping outside he crouched low and then made a run for the hedge he glanced back to see the farmhouse burning the odd gunshot ringing out. Jacen closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath while trying to work out He felt his phone buzz and took it out of his pocket.
At the castle now why????
They are dead
Who is dead??
My parents everyone
Stay hidden someone will be with you
Jacen shoved the phone in his pocket and wiped away the tears. The house was still burning but it was silent now. The dark cars ruined on the drive as black billowing smoke rose into the sky. Jacen turned his head at the sound of the herd baying in distress. Scrambling to his feet he made his way to the barn opening the gates he released the herd into the field hoping farmer Bridgeson next door would deal with them. Shutting the field gate, he leant against it as fresh tears clouded his vision. Looking down at the dog now sat at his feet he rested his hand on its head.
‘Jacen,’ a voice came from behind him, startled; Jacen turned his head and stared into the young face of Lord Aquillo. ‘Time to go mate,’ he said taking Jacen’s arm.
‘My sisters I need to find them,’ Jacen burbled out his body shaking as shock set in.
‘It’s okay they are safe I am taking you to them now,’ Lord Aquillo signalled, and three more winter elves materialised from the undergrowth, forming a protective ring around Jacen as he was escorted to the nearest tree, stepping out at the castle.
‘Is Willow here or Heli,’ Jacen asked restraining the dog.
‘Yes, Child of nature is here, do not worry human consort,’ one of the elves smiled at him placing his hand on Jacen’s back ushering him toward the castle.
‘Please do not call me that,’ Jacen grumbled as Lord Aquillo smiled as he led Jacen up the steps of the castle as the door opened and Solstice rushed down the steps and enveloped Jacen in a hug.
‘Jacen sweetheart it’s okay your safe now,’ Solstice held him feeling him shake as the tears came reminding Solstice that he was the same age as Willow really still a child. Jacen stepped back and wiped his eyes as Solstice led him inside to his sisters who were stood with Taranis making an interesting sight as he had his arms around them. They rushed over to Jacen wrapping themselves around their baby brother.