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This piece was made for an English class, and is mostly about war, and how war affects everything around it.
War is conflicting, it’s unforgiving, uncontrollable, and inevitable, both sides lose but one gets to call themselves the winner. The words engraved in my head up until I became a troop for the Kings-guard. My father said those words to me the day of his execution, he was a fool for scheming against the King. For my loyalty the King showed me mercy and let me live, though being a traitor's son is a just punishment as is. I still don’t understand why he decided to betray the King but I’ve been told it’s because he supported the rebels and their cause.
The rebels, who call themselves The Saviours are vile human beings. I've heard stories of their attacks on villages across our Kingdom, Pandora, they’re savages that attack men, women, children, any innocent.
I think as I lay, in a dusted rancid smelling tent. Waiting for my first attack, my first ever major battle, even though I'm merely a squire I have hope that my performance will prove my bravery and loyalty to my King so I can finally be knighted.
We got word that the rebels are stationed outside of Strategos Bay, it's not a long way, maybe half a day in horse riding distance. My mind overthinks possible scenarios, imagining the glory I will bring to my house's name: Lucan of house Laurent, a master swordsman that defeated an army of traitors. I have to redeem my house name and bring it back into honor where it belongs. Something my mother is very opposed to, seeing as she spends most of her day unconscious after a long day of drinking wine or ale.
“Lucan we’ve got word that Sir Corvin Selma will be there,” said Sir Henley, my best friend. The closest thing I ever got to a sibling.
He helped me after the death of my father and is one of the many reasons I fight for the King. He trained me to become the skilled combatant I am today. Teaching me the way of the sword, and how to fight with honour. Though he does not have the luxury of being noble-born like me, he is still a knight due to his immense level of skill, and has a high ranking position in the Kings-guard. Only one of the few in the entire Kingdom of Pandora.
“I shall kill him, I shall kill all of them, they deserve what's to come,” I replied.
“Sir Corvin is an experienced knight, he's fought and won many battles, I will kill you myself before I let you charge into battle with such a foolish mindset. Do not forget that war is not like the stories you've heard, or the songs that are sung,” said Sir Henley with a stern tone.
Sir Corvin Selma is one of the lead commanders in the Saviours. It is said that he is as tall as a full grown tree, his armor so heavy that it will weigh any other man who isn't him down. He wears a steel helmet the shape of a bear head. He is feared by many, it is believed that fear is what gives him his monstrous strength, but that's just what kids used to say to scare each other..
“Get some sleep; I talked to Commander Noute he believes the rebels are fully oblivious of our ambush and--” Sir Henley was interrupted by a soldier who barged into the room, his eyes widened with fear.
“We are getting attacked--the rebels are here!” he exclaimed.
Sir Henley wasted no time, in a split second he glanced at me.
“Get ready boy, we are going to war!” He said.
Without a second thought I pick myself up and start putting my armor on. Even though I’m not a knight, I’m still a Lord, so I have a fine piece of steel armor, forged when I was young, and still had a castle. An ancient relic called the Fang, it goes with our house sigil, a large snake clutching a sword. The blade is not long, and not short. It's lightweight meant for mobility instead of full blown power. Along the blade, embedded in the steel are two snakes slithering along. The handle is perhaps the best part of the sword. A snake's head with its mouth wide spread, the opening is where the blade sits. I inherited it after my father was executed. King Ades stripped us of our lands, but we kept our titles. We were indistinguishable around commoners. At first my mother was adamant about working to bring pride to our house. It did not last, soon we were out of money, selling anything…everything we could. Which gave us nicknames like, the Beggar Lord and Lady Even though we had almost nothing, Sir Henley stayed beside me and my mother.
My eyes broaden, my sword will bring justice to my family. At the moment I feel no fear, I just feel anger. It might as well have been the Saviours who put my father to the sword.
We hear the bloodshed. Even before we exit the tent.
Our side of the camp is likely the first to be getting hit. The tent next to us has been set ablaze. Everything is just happening so fast.
“Stick with me Lucan, we need to rally our forces, retreat with the other side of the camp and launch a counter attack!” Sir Henley shouted.
The sounds of war drowned out his words. I hear swords clashing. Horses squeal as they are cut down. I hear the sounds of men I know and men I don’t, dying to traitors.
I’m not going to run. I’m going to fight.
Without a single exchange of words I run towards the nearest man I see and thrust my sword in him. It pierces right through his stomach with a loud squishy sound. He did not see me coming. The handle of my sword is covered in blood. I turn him around and look him in the eye. I’m frozen, watching the life of a man slowly fading. He tries to speak, but his words suddenly turn into blood that spills out of his mouth. At that moment I’m pulled away by Sir Henley.
“Listen to me! We’re going to die if we don’t pull back!” he yelled, with a frustrated, worried expression.
I say nothing, still in shock. I let myself be dragged, staring at the ground beneath me. We reach another tent, it’s still in the war zone but everything sounds fainter.
“Listen, I have to tell you something,” said Sir Henley.
“Whatever comes next you have to trust me, Lucan You have to believe me, promise me.”
I don’t say anything, I just sit on a bed. My sword stains the cloth on it. He starts approaching and before I can even respond I hear clanking metal, loud footsteps. I draw my sword because I know that there’s only one person that is big enough to make the ground shake when they walk.
Sir Corvin Selma.
He enters the tent; what they say of him is true: Sir Henley's shadow is consumed by Sir Corvin. I’m still not intimidated by him or his presence so I stand up and engage in my fighting stance. Our eyes meet.
“Stop,” says Sir Henley.
“This is the child of Lance Laurant. His name is Lucan; I’m bringing him with us.”
My heart sinks. I'm in shock--now I'm afraid, and feel betrayed.
“Bringing me with you? This is the enemy Henley, have you heard the things he and his men have done?” I shout.
“Those are all lies, I swear I can explain just come with u--” he responds.
Sir Corvin whispers in his ear. I can make some of the words out, it seems like the Kingsguard on the other side of the camp is already launching a counter attack. We have roughly 2,000 men on this expedition, sources have compiled that the rebels have a little less stationed in Strategos Bay
Henley and I begin to bicker.
“Look, we can answer any questions later but right now is not the time.”
“Not the time? You've lied to me, you've sided with the rebels who want to destroy Pandora, our Kingdom.”
“Since when Henley?” I glare.
“Since when Henley? answer me RIGHT NOW! I will kill you myself or die trying.”
“We have been working with the Saviours since the beginning; I want to tell you everything, I swore to your father that I would protect you and tell you the truth.”
“Me and your father, Lucan”
I don't say anything.
I get up, and pace towards the entrance. I feel like I can hardly breathe. My life has been a lie, this whole time, the person I trusted had been hiding that he was a traitor. My tears turned into anger.
When we exited the tent the first thing I did was run. Smoke filled my lungs, the smell of the dead ran up my nose. I keep running, it's the only thing I can do, I can't stop, a feeling of defeat courses through my body. Until I see them, an incoming Kings-guard troop. I wave my arms and call for their support. Following me, Henley and Sir Corvin approach.
“Henley.. SIR HENLEY IS A TRAITOR WORKING FOR THE REBELS!” I screamed with shortness of breath.
I look back and see Henley, his powerful stare. He was still determined. The troops saw him with Sir Corvin, it was undeniable.
“Get back kid,” told me the leader of this troop.
Henley and Sir Corvin both draw their swords. They were greatly outnumbered but both of them were immensely skilled fighters. The troops surround them, they strike first. I can't see anything. All I can hear is the sounds of the steel clashing. Troops fall to the ground with loud grunts of pain. The more bodies that dropped, the less my vision was obscured. Henley stood his ground, covered in blood. He remained unphased. I remain a coward. He took down almost all of them. I look at the bodies that lay beneath his feet, my emotions conflicting, I had ordered those men to slaughter my best friend. He stared at me with no anger, just concern.
A sword pierced his stomach. He fell to his knees. I ran towards him, Sir Corvin took care of the last of the troops, becoming increasingly brutal.
“I’m sorry,” I said with a quivering voice.
Tears fell from my eyes and I hope he saw my regret.
“We have to go, more reinforcements are coming,” Sir Corvin said, trying to pull me away.
“It’s ok, you are going to be ok, now go with Sir Corvin, he’ll take you to the Saviours, they will tell you everything. They will tell you the truth,” said Henley with a soft voice.
“No, you can still make it, I’m not leaving you here,” I replied.
“Do you want to die with me here and be remembered as a traitor? Just like your father? Find the truth,” his tone sharpened.
I look at him with a determined and reassured face. I wipe my tears, and promise myself not to look back when I start walking.
Sir Corvin had two horses stationed not far away from the camp. I'm sure Henley had given information to the rebels about our camp, but I trust that he had a good reason. We rode all night. My memories of Henley all came flooding back. I played out scenarios where I didn't betray him. He is dead and it's completely my fault.
Three years prior
“Who’s this?” I said.
“He's your present, for your 16th name day!”
“Father you can't just buy someone,” I whispered.
“Son this is Henley, I met him at the marketplace, he's a commoner... but amazing with a sword. He promised to train you and I promised to let him have a place to sleep and food to eat,” father said with a grin.
He looks a couple of years older than me. He's short and famished there's no way father believes he's good enough to be company. Mother won't be pleased either, a commoner…sleeping in our castle? She is going to freak out.
“My lord,” he said and bowed.
“You don't have to call me that, I don't care about that. However I do care about being good with a sword…will you teach me?” I said with obvious excitement.
“Yes my-” He looked at me with confusion.
“Lucan, im Lucan, what's your name?” I said with a chuckle.
“I'm Henley,” he replied with a big smile.
I can tell that he and I are going to get along.
Later that day I noticed that he looked uncomfortable. His gray colored eyes stared down at the marketplace grounds, and his light brown hair glistened, from the balcony in our guest room.
“What's wrong? Do you miss your home?” I asked.
“I never really had a home, I just had a roof to sleep under, I miss my family, it's stupid,” Henley replied.
“Your family? Are they-”
“Probably. My little brother has been missing, I lost him one day. Both of my parents are gone,” he said with a serious face.
He didn't shy away from the truth. He was used to being defeated, and I bet my mother giving him death stares doesn't help.
“So what're you going to do then?”
“I'm going to be knighted. I'm going to find my brother one day, or I just…I don't need to find him, I just hope he's safe,” he said with a determined look.
We reached the camp and sure enough it was nowhere near Strategos Bay where we were supposed to attack. I respected Henley, and trusted him, however the rebels still might be just another group of corrupt power hungry people. So I kept a watchful eye on Sir Corvin.
“Where are you going to take me,” I said.
He's ignoring me, it was quite obvious and he made sure I knew it.
“Hey, I'm talking to you. Answer me right now,” I demanded.
“Listen here boy, you're in no place for demands i'm taking you to the Usurper”
The Usurper is the supposed leader of the Saviours, I know little of him just that he used to be noble-born like me.
We entered the camp, set with hundreds of tents all of them which had the sigil of the rebels engraved somewhere. A sword piercing a crown. Sir Corvin kept me close by and ushered me to keep up.
We finally reached a tent significantly bigger than all of the other ones with guards posted outside.
“Get out the way you idiots,” said Sir Corvin with an annoyed tone.
They stepped aside. We entered the tent and there he was, the person who they called the Usurper. The man who was a founder of the Saviours. He created a rebellion that had lasted since I was born. He was a tall man with a powder-white goatee. He looked about as old as Pandora. His face was world-weary and his smile was freakishly friendly. Next to him was a youthful version of him. He was also tall and had the same features, but he looked more tense.
“Selma, it seems the road doesn't suit you” said the Usurper with a mild chuckle.
Sir Corvin didn't say anything and just pushed me in front of him
“This little twat got Sir Henley killed, he's also Lance Laurent's son who was fighting fo-”
“I know, can you please let me get a word…alone,” he replied.
Sir Corvin let out a little groan and exited the room.
“You too Ambrose,” he told the younger version of himself
“Right away father,” Ambrose replied and left with a still shuffle.
“You know you do look a lot like your father Lucan,” said the Usurper.
“You look like you're too old to be the leader of a group of traitors,” I said with a sharp tone.
He chuckled and gestured to me to sit down. I’ve been on the road and horseback since night so I could not refuse that offer.
“I know you believe we are traitors, that’s why you joined the Kings-guard. But the truth is that we want to free Pandora from tyrants. The ruler right now, King Ades, is an evil man. He’s abused his power for too long, that’s the reason why we started rebelling,” he said.
“We?” I said with my tone becoming unhinged.
“Yes we, you’re father, Lance was one of the founders who approved and helped build our forces, since he was of a high noble house, he armed us and provided strategies,” he replied with a calm smile.
“No-but my fathers a traitor. He conspired with rebels who destroyed and pillaged small villages. Your people have done horrible things in the name of justice.”
“Those are also lies, these lies were fabricated by King Ades to cover for his men, who are the ones that do those vile things”
I don't buy it one bit. He expects me to trust him, when all I've known my entire life is that I'm fighting for a good cause. That the rebels are the ones who have put this realm upside down.
“Why am I here?” I finally respond, after a long pause.
“You're here because I commanded my men to bring you. You seem like a promising boy that could be of aid. I don't want to be fighting against the son of my friend.”
“If what you're saying is true and King Ades is what you say he is… then I need to get back to camp, I need to explain this to everyone, maybe I can get them to fight against King Ades.”
Before I even finished speaking, he began to shake his head.
“No, those men know what they’re doing, they get to do anything they want because they can just blame it on us,” he became increasingly hostile.
“Those are good men, I know… they've helped me.”
“No, it’s safer for you to stay here.”
“Why?” I said with a questioning face.
“Because you're on the right side,” he replied with a stern face.
How do I know? I thought to myself, how do I know that this isn't a lost cause. Even though my emotions are conflicting I nod, the Usurper seems he truly wants less corruption, but at what means is he willing to achieve his plans.
“You will be training with Sir Corvin there's no one better than him-”
Sir Corvin? I thought to myself.
“-and will be attending future discussion of the coming battles, I have a feeling that we will strike the capitol soon.”
That night I could not sleep. I lay on my bed thinking.
Should I escape? No, even if I make it out, what will I do?
Should I stay and fight with them? And wait for them to turn out like the Kings-guard.
I thought and thought.
When I woke up, I saw a towering figure, it was Sir Corvin, standing over me, holding a dulled out blade. Sparing? The sun was barely coming up, I couldn't complain though, if I was going to be learning from one of the most known swordsmen. We hardly ever exchanged words other than callouts on my mistakes during training. Sir Corvin carried out his duties well. Even though he seemed to have a tough exterior I'm sure it involved his traumatic childhood. People have told me about his past, he was noble-born, from a family dynasty. However his family's seat was invaded, his whole house was slaughtered. Presumed at the command of King Ades. That's the main reason I believe he is really upright, I cannot blame him though, if I too had lost everyone I would be bitter until the day I die. I also believe it's the reason his training is so strict and apathetic to my failures.
Due to my build, I'm more agile than strong, and Sir Corvin is working off my strengths. Fang is a small sword that adds to my swiftness. We trained from sunup to sunset. He has me play a game, childish I know, but it made me sly and stealthy. I would have to sneak up on him and hold a knife to his throat, if I succeeded he took off hours for training, if he succeeded at disarming me or caught me while I snuck up, he would get my supper. I would lose almost every time. He always saw me coming.
Two years later
I started training two years ago. My skills are on par with Sir Corvin, even though we have vastly different skill sets, I can hold my own. Now, I almost always win the game. My first expedition happened about three months ago. I was tasked with assassinating the Archbishop of the capitol. He's not just a pawn, he's one of the King's most trusted advisors. I didn't get much time to question him, he was heavily guarded and I intercepted his passage cart. He would not budge, terrified is the only word that could describe the man, I wonder if it was due to the fact that he knew he was going to die or that if he said anything about anything and King Ades found out, he would slaughter his family.
These past two years have made it clear that I'm on the right side, for now. King Ades has grown more and more ferocious. With more people joining the Saviours and finding out that he is in fact unworthy of his crown, his only role is his fear and loyalty to the crown.
I have received word from the Raven, our main spy, that Commander Noute is traveling with a group of well trained swordsmen. Trying to safely and stealthy travel the capitol. During these two years Commander Noute was appointed a higher role and now serves the King with more purpose. Commander Noute was a cowardly man and I imagine his allegiance to the King has to do with major victories he's led, two battles lost by the Saviours, in the span of two years. I don't want to kill him, he was good to me, but I must do what's best for Pandora.
“I'm leaving soon,” I said.
“Ok? you want a going away party?” Sir Corvin answered.
“You know your dont have to be such a hateful man all the time”
“It's better to be hateful, than it is to be weak,” he replied.
Sir Corvin was able to help me toughen up, I have helped him soften out. I was a nuance and naive, I'm less of those today because of him. He was spiteful and bitter all the time. He's a little less now but we still have a lot to learn from each other.
“Will you go alone?,” Asked Sir Corvin.
“Not scared of me dying right?” I replied with a smirk.
He kept a frowned look on his face.
“It'll be an easy mission, in and out,” I finally said.
I could tell by his face, he approved of my progression.
I left when the sun came up, I was going to be there at sunset. Commander Noute was not taking the main road to the capitol, he was doing everything to not be caught. However, Raven had joined the swordsmen under an alias. He is a master at his craft, leading me to their location. Cunning and mysterious is the only way to describe him.
My journey was going to be pretty short, the last hint I received was not so long ago. I can't help but think about the possibilities. My first solo mission. Im vulnerable, and have heard stories of the Raven being a two sided, and loyal to himself. I could easily be betrayed and sent to King Ades to be tried for my crimes, killing an Archbishop, he would definitely not pardon me this time.
I know I'm getting closer, it's sunset so they need a place to camp. I tie my horse up to the nearest tree, and only bring Fang with me. It'll have to be on foot now.
Sure enough I spot them, four, wearing black masks each painted with a different animal, and Commander Noute. One stands out, a fifth one enters my line of sight and sure enough, a mask with a painted raven.
I'll wait for the perfect opportunity to ambush the commander, I don't know much about the men's skills, I have one ally, but even then the Raven could not be a fighter. I can't risk his cover being blown. I'll have to do it by myself.
The only move is waiting for them to mess up. As night falls upon us. Three of them and the Commander sleep, two are posted on guard. Raven is one of them. It's the perfect time to strike. I have little armor protecting me so I can move faster, but it's less effective at protecting me.
I approach they're cart. The dirt road makes no noise as I crouch in the shadows. My mind keeps calm, knowing I can work silently. I run to attack but the man with the painted Fox mask spots me before I can even make my first move. He knew I was coming, he knew.
“He's here, wake up,” said the fox.
I stand in my fighting stance with confusion. Did Raven betray me? What tortuous execution will King Ades have planned for me.
“I thought he wasn't going to show up,” said the bear with a soft tone.
As the Monkey exits the tent I widen my stance. I could take all of them, if there is little light.
“I was actually getting a bit sleepy” said the monkey with a snarl
My sword is drawn and pointed at Raven
“Traitor,” I say as I stare at Raven.
“There's no need for that,” says Raven with a soft spoken tone.
He took off his mask and revealed that she was a young woman that looked around my age. Fox took off his mask, then Monkey. Fox was slender and a little taller than me, he had a strong face, and silky blonde hair. Monkey looked a little younger than me, with short buzzed brown hair. Bear didn't remove his mask, he sounded young, younger than Monkey and me.
Commander Noute was the last to exit the cart with the last of the five, a Cat.
“Raven told us you were coming, she told us because we want to join the rebellion. I've served King Ades and he is a monstrosity of a man, we want to help the rebels, Lucan,” said Commander Noute with a serious tone.
“Then why didn't you just tell me or the Saviours, Raven,” I said with my sword still pointed at her.
“While on the cart I overheard the Commander's intentions, he spoke about coming to us and giving information, then going back to Thessaly and Castle Pithos to be an inside man. We couldn't take the main road because there's too many people. We couldn't stop and wait for you to catch up because King Ades is paranoid, he sent spies and men to watch us. We found said men and eliminated them-” Raven was interrupted.
“We?” Monkey with an annoyed tone.
My face and mind painted with confusion.
“Thessaly is the city that surrounds Castle Pitho-” I interrupted her.
“Yeah I know that,” I said, also with an annoyed tone.
“-enough explaining?” Raven said with passive aggressiveness..
I don't know if I can trust Raven or what she was saying but, why make everything up? It didn't make sense to create a false alliance with an incompetent commander.
“If all of this is true,” I said.
“It is true,” she replied.
“What's the plan now?” I answered.
“King Ades will go back to the capitol, the swordsmen will come with us. Before he leaves he will give us the information we need to secure Thessaly and before long King Ades will be dead,” she said.
“His troo-” I was interrupted
“Too much commotion we have the winning numbers, when we storm the capitol they will surrender or fall,” said Commander Noute.
It doesn't sit right with me that a commander would lead his troops to a slaughter or betray them, but the longer King Ades is on that throne than Pandora will bleed more than this war.
Commander Noute was sure to give us the information that we needed. He packed blueprints of Castle Pithos and how Thessaly was structured. It had entrances that we could use, that were either abandoned or secret. Everything we need to know. He gave us a booklet that contained important information about the events to come. We knew each of King Ades steps which gave us about a fortnight if we wanted to invade and know his plans.
“This time constraint is going to be tiresome,” said Fox.
“We know they’re plans, we’ll be 10 steps ahead of them if we invade, it's worth it,” responded Raven.
“We can discuss this with the Usurper. When do we go back to camp,” I said impatiently.
“Right now, it’s best we get there quickly, Cat will give safe passage to Commander and re-group with us at camp. She will take him close enough to the capitol to where he's safe,” said Raven.
I gave a redundant approval. The Saviours continued to gather more and more forces. Noble families pledged themselves to help us in secrecy, we honored their request and when time comes they will be rewarded. Families loyal to the king will be unharmed but forced to give up their titles and lands.
We tread home very quickly, we were back at camp by early morning with no problems. It was a silent trip but we all needed time to process the planning. The group of swordsmen seem trustworthy-the ones who took off their masks. Bear kept his mask on at all times…or so I was told. Raven was as mysterious as could be, her tone of voice was alluring, she was a spy after all. I needed to keep a close eye on them.
The first thing we did was give an update to the Usurper.
“You’re back?” He said with a questioning tone.
“It was a quick mission, me and Raven recruited some swordsmen that accompanied Commander Noute,” I replied.
“What of Commander Noute? Is he dead, captured?”
“He’s on his way back to the capitol--he was planning on coming to our camp to give us information. He gave us notes and blueprints. These give us a fortnight to invade and know every step,” I said waving the documents.
Confusion was written all over his face.
“Commander Noute is on our side, he was on his way here, he’s going back to the capitol with one of the swordsmen escorting him, he’ll be our ear inside.”
“Do you trust him?”
I nod, expecting to get scolded for being a trustworthy fool.
“What about the swordsmen? Are they any good? Do you trust them?
“I haven't gotten a chance to check them out. They seem promising…Raven said something about one of them being extremely good. It's too early to know---if they try anything I'll kill them,” I said confidently.
He briefly paused, he was thinking.
“Well then. that gives us a fortnight to strategize and attack, bring me the top commanders, and the lead knights,” He finally said.
I'm only thinking of these new recruits. Questioning if they are an asset or dead weight. From what I have observed Fox seems to be the one commanding them-a leader. His fighting style reminds me of Sir Henley, he reminds me a lot of him.
Monkey on the other head seems to be a hothead. Quick-witted, slippery, I noticed a sharpened pointy blade on our trip here. Definitely made for piercing instead of dueling.
Bear isn't a fighter, I can certainly tell, he's too young. I don't know why they bring him along, he does carry small daggers but they are useless if he doesn't know how to use them.
Cat seems to be the most proficient of them all. That's why she escorted Commander Noute, trustworthy and respectable, we can definitely use her.
I sparred with Fox, he wasn’t that quick but had strength…a tactile mind. I went for a hit behind him and he was able to block it. I faked him, tried for a hit in the side of the stomach but pulled a second blade and went for a hit on the neck. He wasn’t fast enough to block the second hit but he was fast enough to also put his sword to my neck. In a real fight we both would’ve been dead.
The group seemed promising but what did Bear bring to the table, he was small, young, and not good with a sword.
My curiosity ate me from the inside out, so I finally went up to Fox and asked.
“What’s with the Bear guy, is he good…at anything---like at all?” I asked with genuine interest.
“Not anything with weapons but we need him. If anyone gets injured he patches us up,” answered Fox with a defensive tone.
“Ok…but if we need you guys---he's going to have to pull his own weight,” I replied with a whisper.
You could tell they were all protective of him, because he was the youngest. I respect that but my concern is genuine.
We could definitely use them. If I get chosen to assassinate King Ades it might not have to be a solo mission after all...
Now that I have assessed the group, they can help us. I have to go talk to the Usurper.
When I enter they are having a heavily heated discussion. The commanders seem to be disagreeing with the Usurper's ideas.
“We will send a group of elite men to assassinate King Ades. They will be in and out,” said the Usurper with a heavy tone.
“No he’s heavily guarded…besides we don't have any great assassins,” said one of the commanders.
“Let’s just march in there and take the castle, our troops can handle their soldiers,” argued one of the lead knights.
While they bickered amongst each other, it was clear that the Usurper observed and thought. It seemed like ages had passed by and the arguments escalated.
Finally the Usurper spoke.
“Instead of a unified attack, we need to spread out forces evenly, take the surrounding neighboring villages with little bloodshed, and surround the city. We will have a small group infiltrate from within. When the invasion starts their forces will be spread thinly, which means our inside men will have an easy time taking the King,” he said confidently.
“Who will our inside man?” asked another commander.
After a long pause, his eyes pointed at me.
“He’s just a kid, you want the plan to rest on his shoulders!” Another knight exclaimed.
“Listen we all have a part to play in this, Lucan is a skilled assassin, he’s in and out,” said Sir Corvin with a supportive tone.
It’s not an easy task, but I nod.
“Will he be alone, or will he have a group?” Said the Ambrose.
“He’s leading the assault so he can choose. Will you go alone or will you infiltrate with a group?” The Usurper asked.
It’s not a tough decision. The new swordsmen are amazing, but they will not be trusted here in the council. Sir Corvin is too big of a distraction, his size alone would get us recognized.
“The swordsmen that were recently recruited. I got to train with most of them- they are all experienced, and have roles to play, they are the best choice.” I said with a serious tone.
I expected backlash but everyone seemed to agree. They trusted the Usurper and the Usurper trusted me.
“Perhaps I can tag along-?” Asked Ambrose with a raised brow.
He looked at his father, the Usurper.
“Nonsense, you have little training experience. You will stay here with me,” the Usurper answered with a concerned look.
Ambrose was a little younger than me. He had certainly grown in these past two years but he was not ready to tackle this challenge.
“You will discuss the plan with your group, you’ll ride for the capitol. Raven will go with you, she does not work alone and has friends at the capitol, she’s a source of information.”
“How will we know the start of the attack?” I replied.
“You’ll hear us,” he said with a shifted tone.
Our plan heavily relies on me, I have to be perfect. One mistake and I-and all the people of Pandora are doomed. The Usurper is tasking me with making and carrying out the actual plan. I trust myself, but I need my team to trust me. I also need their input-that's if they agree to join me.
As soon as Cat arrives two days later I tell them everything.
“I need you guys. I'm going on a mission to assassinate King Ades. You are all capable and bring something to the team---table.”
“Look..what im trying to say--ask is if you will all help me,” I say.
“What do we gain from helping you carry out this mission,” says Monkey with a chuckle.
Fox and Cat are both considering it, a seriousness is added to their face.
“Well you get to save Pandora from the King. Look if you guys want compensation I'm sure you will get something after King Ades is dead,” I reply.
“Well that is if we live…you're asking us to walk into a death trap, we have like no actual advantage in that castle,”
Bear tilts his head, as if he's agreeing.
“Look if we are smart about it…this will be easy,” I say with a sigh.
“Guys come on, we can't just sit back and watch the Kingdom fall to pieces. Otherwise what will we have when all of this is over? A Kingdom of rubble?” Said Fox.
“We’ll have our lives, you really want to risk our lives for a cause that we don't even believe in?” Monkey scoffed.
Raven nodded approving of what Monkey said.
“We? I believe in what Lucan is saying, we truly have a shot at winning,” said Cat with a supportive tone.
They seemed reassured, except Monkey and Raven. Both had sour faces all throughout the discussion.
“I need help strategizing our infiltration and assassination,” I said.
“We should be the first ones at the capitol.”
“We’ll need to be ready, hide there,” said Cat.
“What good will that do us?” Asked Bear.
“It gives us time to get familiar with the place. We can’t just map it out in our heads. We can set up on the outside of a secret entrance or inside the Pithos,” she replied.
Her strategy made sense, we needed to be prepared but the only thing that bothered me was if we got caught before the raid, then we would be useless.
“How do you suggest we disguise ourselves? Inside of Pithos…” Said Fox.
“Not all of us, just me, Fox and Lucan. We have an inside man, Commander Noute, we can pose as stewards or servants, he will vouch for us. Raven, Bear and Monkey can stay in a room, with Monkey on guard and Bear in there in case someone needs treatment,” she suggested.
It seems like a promising plan.
“It's not a horrible plan but it will need tweaks,” said Raven.
“Are we really gonna leave like right now?” Said Monkey with an annoyed tone.
“We’ll be able to rest for two days, it gives me time to fill the gaps in the plan, but be ready to pack and leave,” I finally said.
There’s something missing in the plan, it can be that easy to take the capitol. I know there are guards posted all around Pithos. The whereabouts of the King are mostly unknown, that's the missing piece. It’s going to take at least two days to take the surrounding villages, we can sneak in before those days. The assault on the King will be shortly after that, our troops will need time to gather themselves and rest before the big attack. When we hear the city outside of Pithos start to get raided, that’s when we carry out our orders.
We trained, and established protocols in case anything happens, before we went to the capitol. I talked to the Usurper about our plans and what they were going to require for our assault to be successful.
We left one day later. Early in the morning. We each took our horses carrying our equipment, the medicinal herbs that Bear needed for treatments. Cat revealed herself, nothing crazy I guess she was just shy. A young woman, maybe a few years older than me. Always carried her hair in a bun, ready to pounce and fight. I still haven't gotten the chance to see her skills, though I can infer she's an exceptional fighter. Raven told me that her and Bear were likely siblings, she protected him when it came to fights. They had met because Bear treated Cat when she was wounded. That's all she knew about Bear, there were little records of him.
I told her to make a note of all the swordsmen, their real names, ages, everything known about them just in case. However, that was before I asked them to aid us in this mission.
The journey to Thessaly was quite long. It took about three full days of horse riding. We shared stories, adventures the swordsmen had. How they all met each other, apparently Fox and Monkey had known each other for the longest time. They reminded me of me and Henley.
We finally reached the big city of Thessaly. The gate of the city was as large as the walls in my castle. They made the ground tremble as they opened. The inside of the capitol was vast, it stretched forever, the structures were as old as the Gods. People lived amazing lives within the walls. I've heard stories of shops the size of castles, amazing delicacies, great big sculptures. The city we were met with was the cold truth. We entered under the alias, traders and merchants who wanted to make a living in Thessaly. It appears word had spread quickly about the rebellion striking. The city seemed strict. Curfews were appointed and soldiers were spotted punishing presumed traitors in the street. When panic ensued, that would be the best time to strike.
Pithos was built on a coast by the River of Nyx. We can walk along the coast until we reach an opening, but the only concern is guards roaming the beach.
“We’ll have to sneak in at night, kill any guard that sees us or poses a threat. Put your masks on, I have my hoo-” I was interrupted.
Bear tapped my shoulder and his arm outstretched, a mask with a painted snake. It was black, the outline in dark forest green was the head of a snake with its tongue out.
“Thank you,” I said.
He just nodded.
When the sun went down, our hoods and masks came up. We snuck past most guards patrolling the area. Before we entered the darkness we looked at the map searching for a cave, it would be our camp. It is unguarded and has a door leading beneath the Pithos.
“Hey do you see that?” An undistinguished voice shouted.
“Hey you can’t be here,” said a soldier.
“You heard the King's orders, kill anyone that gets close,” the other soldier replied.
The sound…they drew their swords. We had to fight them. There were two, they stood by a torch, we saw them but they couldn’t see us.
“Fox stay, Cat come with me,” I whispered.
Cat knew what she was doing. We surrounded them in the shadows and pounced at the same time. She got a clean kill, just a single poke movement. My soldier fought back, but was met with a pierce through the back. Cat gave me an assured look.
“Let’s go,” I said with a loud whisper.
After what seemed like hours of walking we finally found the entrance, it had jagged rocks surrounding it and the opening was almost submerged in water when the tide came up. The entrance leads to a room of storage. It was accessible and had many doors and hallways connected to it. It was the perfect place to camp, since the cave was not going to work out. The commander's chambers were marked which was where we had to go. Tonight we all slept in the storage room.
When we woke up, Me, Fox, and Cat put on commoner outfits. Raven told us how we needed to act, talk, and where to get things in case we had orders. It’s supposed to be one of the highest honors for commoners to be serving for the guests at Pithos.
Commander Noutes' room was where I had to go first. I need to explain the whole plan in case he needs to know anything. The castle was lavishly decorated. Hallways are decorated in all kinds of gems. The sigil of King Ades house, a bolt of lightning, plastered everywhere. The colors blue and gold spread all throughout. The corridors, so convoluted, intertwined, and huge you could get lost easily. The castle is so clean and smells amazing. Every hour the bell would strike, we agreed to meet up at the 6th bell strike after sunrise to discuss.
The commander's room was well decorated, only one of us was allowed in at a time to make it unsuspicious. We caught him up on the plans and he approved.
Bear, Raven, and Monkey stayed in the storage room. It was so large and filled with enough food to feed the whole Kingdom, they could hide and set up behind the large crates.
“I have a council meeting with the King today,” said Commander Noute.
“Will it just be you?” I asked.
“No, he is rallying his allies to propose a counterattack.” he replied.
The King would always have loyalists. It’s the lords of noble houses that sit beside him. They will all run the second the Saviours take the city. I'm prepared for them to underestimate our forces.
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked again.
“You need to be there, you need to hear the plan. I'll have you as my cup bearer,” said Commander Noute with a sharp smile.
I’m not scared of him, King Ades. I’m scared that he’ll recognize me or my plan will be exposed.
“It’s too risky, what am I going to do with that information anyway?” I said with a voice of concern.
“Tell Raven and she’ll pass it along to the Usurper.”
“When is this meeting taking place?”
“Tomorrow when the bell strikes for the 8th time, meet me in my room first,” he said with a now more serious tone.
The bell struck for the 6th time.
We all discussed and slept in the storage room. Very few people would go into the room and we made sure someone was always awake. More than a week had passed, which meant we only had less than a week to know the whereabouts of the King. We could not receive word from Ravens spy’s because we were trapped in here.
Everyone grew impatient. We were digging our graves if the Saviours didn't attack soon.
The 8th bell struck.
I met with Commander Noute.
“Don’t be suspicious, don’t make eye contact with the King or any other lords. Do you hear me boy? One wrong move and we’re dead, you're friends are dead, the Kingdom goes back to how it always was,” he said with a panicked tone and both hands on my shoulders.
Sweat trickled down my neck, my heart was pounding. But I kept my composure. As we approached the throne room, the hallway expanded, becoming wider and wider. With more and more decorations. Portraits of the dynasties that had ruled Pandora over the years. It seemed like we had walked for ages before coming to a stop. We reached a huge door, inscribed with bolts of lighting that touched the roof and ground, decorated for the King's liking I assume.
Commander Noute opened up the door and I was taken away by the beauty of the throne room. It was large, and tall. The roof was decorated with hanging candles that lit up and shimmered. Balconies on both sides of the room that had a view of both the river of Nyx and the beautiful city. Everything was perfect down to the floor which was decorated with beautiful art. Structures all along the pathway to the throne. There were sculptures of past Kings. It was filled with too much detail to describe what I was seeing. I look up to see King Ades sitting down on a big throne. Embroidered with his house colors. Right in the center of the room.
King Ades looked middle aged. He had long blonde hair with silver accents. His face was sharp, he looked in shape. His blue eyes glared at me and commander Noute throughout our walk to the council. A large crown lay on his head covered with jews, mostly sapphires and made of what I assume, gold. He was not the man I pictured to be a cruel ruler, clean and didn't seem insane. Beside him, his new Archbishop, and the lords of some of the greatest houses. The mood was intimidating.
“Welcome, commander Noute,” said King Ades with a strangely high pitched voice.
` “Noble highness,” Commander Noute said while he bowed.
King Ades hadn’t seen me in ages, I was just a child when my father was killed. I wasn’t worried about him knowing me. As I stood behind Commander Noute waiting to pour wine. My mind filled with scenarios that could play out. Commander Noute could be a traitor, and my friends could get slaughtered right now. The King's presence had a sense of fear, it felt in the whole room. His power and malevolence.
“So where shall we begin? This meeting will be long, that's why I suggested you all bring your cup-bearer,” he said with a little chuckle.
Everyone else laughed with him.
“We have guards deployed in every inch of the city and castle.”
“We need more resources, will house Mandori provide them?” King Ades said with a demanding tone.
Lord Mandori nodded.
“I requested that everyone bring all their men, was that request fulfilled?”
“Yes, your noble highness,” everyone collectively said.
“Great. They will strike hard and fast, we have word that the Usurper is planning on raiding the nearby villages,” King Ades said.
“Will we deploy our men and station them there?” Asked one of the lords.
“What? Oh no, no no no. They can have those villages, we need to protect Thessaly and Pithos,” he said with a scoff.
Everyone believed that our troops would slaughter the villages and yet they decided to sacrifice them in order to protect themselves. Tyrants and cowards.
“Request that all troops station themselves in the city, we will prepare for them here. For the most defensive guard. I want archers on rooftops whatever we need. Just make sure they don’t get past,” he said.
“They’re all already here, your noble highness,” said Lord Mandori.
“We brought the wildcard, they’re planted around the outskirts of the city. They'll reduce the numbers,” said another lord.
The wildcard? It's planted? Do they have some sort of explosive? Whatever it is, I need to get word to Raven as soon as possible.
“But your noble highness, we can just protect ourselves, they have around 18,000 men, we have more than 20,000, we can counter attack and defend the city’s,” tried to argue a simple-looking lord.
King Ades just gave him a stare and he quieted himself.
If their men aren’t out there spread thinly then that means more guards will be posted around the castle.
“Have the Commission by my side at all times, they want me dead, they're going to have to pass them first,” he said.
Commission, I’ve heard that name before, there the King's personal bodyguards composed of some of the best warriors in the Kingdom. It will be nearly impossible to take them down.
Damn, I think to myself.
“Wine,” said Commander Noute with a pale face.
I can believe them. All these lords are just letting innocents die to live a little while longer. My mind is so full of hatred that I spill the wine. It's all over the floor. The splash was big enough to hit King Ades.
He just looked at me with the most hateful face. Just as he was about to gesture at the guard to probably throw me in a cell as punishment, they sounded the battle horn.
Everything was drowned out by a deafening low pitched blow.
“THEY'RE HERE!” Several men barged into the room.
Every man stood up and left in a hurry.
“PREPARE THE DEFENSES KILL ALL IF THEM,” finally said King Ades.
I’m guessing the villages surrendered. They didn’t even need time to recuperate. As night fell, the city erupted with lights and sounds. I could hear from Pithos. It’s time.
I don’t have my sword, or anyone with me. I have to go to the storage room first.
When I arrive, everyone's waiting for me, everyone has their masks on. They heard it. I hurry and grab Fang. My armor is as light as can be but I can still take a couple of swings.
Monkey, Cat, Fox and me, prepare to leave.
On the way out I remember.
“GET WORD TO COMMANDER NOUTE THAT THEY ARE ONLY ON THE DEFENSE, THEY HAVE SOMETHING UP THEIR SLEEVE I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS!” I yell loud enough to keep my words engraved in Raven's head.
We get moving.
“The Commission is being called up to guard him, we must get there before they do,” I say and they nod.
I felt the worry they had. Sweat trickled down my face, we can't have doubts now, we either finish it or they do. The mood was gloomy and we thought that we would've been ten steps ahead of them but we were caught off guard.
We approached the throne room. We burst through the door and.. it was empty. The King was gone
“Dammit,” we all said.
We swept the whole castle looking for the King. We all split up but he was nowhere to be found. Even though I couldn’t see their faces I knew it, they were in despair.
“Commander Noute?” Cat asked.
“Probably in the defense giving orders,” I relayed.
“Where would the King be?” Fox said.
“THE MAP-check..for a place of last resort ?!?!” Said Monkey.
Cat pulled it out and sure enough. A tiny room deep under Pithos marked as, bunker.
As we approached, we knew the Commission was already going to be there. We knew that we had to kill the King no matter what. The hallways grew narrower, spiraling stairs that led deeper and deeper in the ground, they became less and less decorated. The feeling of tenseness was all that I sensed.
Finally we reached the bottom. The door was wooden and plain with only a single torch beside it. We gathered ourselves. I knew this was either the end or the beginning.
“On the count of 3…1…2…3!” I yelled.
We barged in the room. Sure enough there he was King Ades. Standing behind four guards each, taller, broader and definitely stronger than every single one of us. We wore only our armors and masks. They wore heavy set armor embedded with their house sigil, of course incorporating the bolt of lightning.
When we walked in they didn't even seem phased…or surprised.
“What kind of coward wears a mask? Your king commands you to take it off,” he snarled.
We stood there. I took my mask off.
“The cup boy who spilt wine on me?” He burst out into laughter.
“Don’t tell me you're trying to kill me because I was going to order them to execute you.”
We stood there.
“I’m Lucan Laurant, son of Lance Laurant, you’re going to die,” I said with a serious face.
He burst out in even more laughter.
I put my mask back on. We all striked first. Monkey went for the biggest one. He was almost as tall as the roof which meant he was slow and out paced by Monkeys speed. Cat took on the smallest of the four; he was on par with her agility, he fought with grace but she fought harder. Fox went for the one standing next to King Ades. Fox knew how to block the fastest swing of the sword, he would always counter attack mine. I went for the last one that was left, he had the biggest sword. He reminded me of Sir Corvin, I’ve had practice with his type, I have at least one thing going for me. The sound of steel filled the room. The King cowards behind the Commission. I move great. Fang wasn’t heavy enough to cut through the steel armor. If I was going to do any real damage I had to get his helmet off. His swings were predictable, he took too long to wind up his sword due to its size. But he was like an immovable mountain.
It felt like we’re holding our own for ages. We were conditioned well enough not to tire out but so were they. A loud crack echoed through the room. Monkey…his small blade had broken. He wasn’t completely helpless, he pulled out a smaller blade. That wasn’t going to do much though.
“I need to finish my fight,“ I said to myself.
Cats' agility slowly decreased and Fox was not able to parry the hits. Fox he’s the closest to the King he can—
BOOM a powerful piercing blast sounded.
The wildcard…Raven wasn’t able to warn them in time. It shook the room to the point where dust fell.
“WE HAVE TO GO NOW!” said Fox.
Who was by then barely blocking swings.
“It’s gonn-“ He stopped.
The sound of a sword piercing his head, swallowed the after sounds of the blast.
He was dead. Fox was dead in an instant, at the hand of King Ades, who drew the sword back.
“FOX,” shouted Cat.
“RUN NOW,” I yelled to Monkey and Cat.
They dropped their swords as the soil dropped by larger amounts. We have to climb those stairs before the ground swallows us.
The clinging of metal echoed behind us. They were coming and they were going to make it out if we didn't do anything.
“I’ll keep them at bay. I’ll hold them back, I swear it. King Ades needs to die,” said Cat as she stopped in the middle of the stairway.
“Stop your brother--Bear—we'll find another way,” I proposed with a panicked voice.
“There’s no other way, tell Bear I love him. Tell him I’m sorry,” Cat replied.
“I will-I swear it,” Monkey said with a quivering voice.
She turned around to face the men coming her way.
We heard metal clings. Then they faded. The steps began to crack and crumble, we were getting closer and closer. The metal clanking still heard behind us far down. Soil fell on our faces, the shaking stairway swung us left and right. We finally saw the opening of light, we got close enough and plunged forward, just as the ground closed beneath us and swallowed everything below the door.
Me and Monkey lay there, defeated.
“King Ades is dead,” I exclaimed and jolted upward to my feet.
We need to sound the horn, call off the attack, he’s dead. I sent Monkey to get Raven and Bear. The horn was near the throne room so I looked down the balcony, the little joy I had left was completely drained by what I was seeing, carnage.
The city went up in smoke. The only light was from everything that was burning. The city wept, screams sent a chill through my spine.
I rang the war horn.
TOO-ROOON, sounded the horn with a low loud tone.
The carnage continued, until everything and everyone stopped.
The split second of peace felt lifelong. Then chaos ensued. Things worsened when the Usurper led his troops through the city slaughtering everyone who wasn’t a part of the Saviours. He led the attack even though the King's allies surrendered. My fathers words were the only thing I could think of as I watched Thessaly fall.
The fighting was done by dawn. I lay in the storage room, with Bear, Monkey and Raven. Our masks on. The horror that was the night before. Raven had gotten injured. Monkey was silent. Bear was even more silent, I saw tears slide from under the mask.
We were paraded with cheers as we walked through the city to meet with the Usurper. Our defeat and tiredness looks hidden under the mask. He deceived me, Commander Noute stood by his side chanting. Sir Corvin on the other side with a starstruck face. He knew that what they had done was horrible. I could tell that that’s not what he wanted as revenge.
“Why?” I exclaimed as I looked up at the Usurper.
Standing on a huge statue of King Ades.
“Why are we celebrating? Because I'M THE NEW KING OF PANDORA!” He shouted, throwing his hands up in the air.
I gestured to Sir Corvin to come meet me so that we could talk in private.
“We need to do something,” I said.
”I know…he tricked us and he’s met with a celebration.”
“He’s not fit to be a ruler, this isn’t what we stood for in the Saviours” he said
“What happened while we were gone?”
“His son…Ambrose was killed in the blast.”
“He wanted blood after that,” he said with a sigh.
“Damnit what now, another rebellion? This is what’s going to keep happening, his men trust him, they think he’s fit to lead, he won the throne back after all,” I said with frustration.
I met up with Bear, Monkey, and Raven. Bear patched Raven up. I had to go talk to the Usurper. I had to do anything to make sure another tyrant did not sit on the throne.
“I gotta go, I’m going to do something, I might not be able to return” I said.
“Where?” Asked Bear.
“I-I can’t say,” I said with a doubtful tone.
“What? We’re safe and now you just want to leave? No, no no,” said Bear with a quivering voice.
“No? What do yo-“ I was interrupted by him.
“My sister died, Fox died, Raven almost died,” Bear broke out crying.
He took off his mask to reveal his face, a huge scar went across his whole face. That wasn't what stood out to me, he revealed his sad gray eyes. His light brown hair was impossible to miss. He was Sir Corvins lost younger brother.
“You can’t just leave us now,” he sobbed.
“I cant- we can’t stay here, Pandora will never be safe or peaceful with a ruler like King Ades or the Usurper, he’s gone completely off the rails. He had innocents killed on his commands,'' I said.
“Then… what now?” Raven asked..
“He needs to die, so that someone who is fit to rule can actually rule. Before he actually gains power.”
All of us walk to Pithos. Passing by the remains of what was once a beautiful city. Passing the mountains of corpses that lay on the streets, men, women, children. I knew what I was planning to do was right.
He wore the crown, the clothes of King Ades. He was delusional not mourning.
“Your noble highness,” we said and bowed.
“I’m guessing you want compensation…” He said with a chuckle.
“Yes, we have all been through a great deal and have contributed to this war, I would like to think-” I was interrupted.
“Come here son,” he said with a calm voice.
He led all of us to the balcony in the throne room that pointed towards the city.
“This is ours now because of what you all did, you can have all the land, titles, money…wives,” he said.
“This is what your father would have wanted, Lucan.”
He said that as we stared at a city of rubble. This is not what my father would have wanted. This is not why he founded the Saviours. This is not why he gave his life to the cause.
“I’m proud of you,” said the Usurper.
He leaned in for a hug. I leaned in.
“My father, Henley, Fox, and Cat, and all the innocent did not die for this” I whispered, and pierced him in the heart with Fang.
He dropped to the ground. It was a quick death. The man I looked up to turned out to be a traitor to his own cause.
The question is who will rule. Who will truly be good for Pandora. If no one is fit to wear the crown and responsibility. In the end, after the rebellion everyone in Pandora has lost something…so who won?