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Dust and Light VI

The battle raged around me, swords clashing, magic crackling through the air. I stayed low behind a table, the wood rough against my fingertips as I gripped it tightly. Heart pounding.

Rohan moved with the speed and grace of a deadly predator, his sword slicing through enemies with precision and his magic crackling around him in a dazzling display. I could barely keep up with the blur of his movements, the glint of steel flashing dangerously as he mercilessly took down each opponent.  He’s incredible,  I thought, admiration mingling with my worry.

Our allies fought bravely, their shouts mingling with the roars of the monsters. I wanted to join them, to help in any way I could, but I remembered my promise to stay hidden.

The battlefield was a chaotic mess. Screams, raw and desperate, filled the air, punctuated by the bone-jarring clang of metal on metal. A wave of terror paralyzed me as a dark figure detached itself from the shadows behind Rohan. Its movements were fluid and silent, a predator stalking its prey. It was the old witch, her face a mask of cruelty. Blood drained from my face as I realized the true danger Rohan faced.

Oh gods, no.

“Watch out!” I screamed, but my words were a futile whisper against the roar of battle.

With a flick of her wrist, the witch unleashed a roiling vortex of dark magic that erupted from her outstretched palm. Time seemed to stand still as the dark magic slashed through the air, striking Rohan squarely in the back before he could even react. A gasp ripped from my throat as he arched backward as if struck by an invisible fist. His cry cut short as he crashed to the ground. His sword clattered away, and his face contorted in a silent scream, eyes squeezed shut against the agony.

Please, no.

Terror clenched my heart, the air ripped from my lungs as I watched helplessly, fearing the worst.

But to my astonishment, he recovered with a speed that defied belief.  He conjured a blade of pure shadow, its inky tendrils swirling around his hand. The witch closed in for the kill, her dark magic pulsating around her like a ravenous beast.

Come on, Rohan.

I couldn’t tear my gaze away from the scene, my knuckles turning white as I gripped the edge of the wooden table, my heart pounding in my chest like a frantic drum.

With lightning-like speed and deadly accuracy, Rohan’s shadow blade sliced through the witch’s body, a dark aura surrounding it as it pierced her flesh.

Yes! Take her down!

A ball of green smoke erupted, engulfing the witch in its suffocating embrace. Her agonized screams echoed through the battlefield before she dissipated into nothingness.

Rohan stood, his shadow blade dissipating into the air. His chest heaved, his breath ragged, but his eyes held a grim determination. A wave of relief flooded over me as I realized that he was unharmed. Thank the gods, he’s safe!

As our eyes met, a flicker of something more than gratitude passed between us. It felt like our souls were reaching out and connecting on a deeper level.



Crouched behind the overturned table, my eyes were fixated on Absinthya’s bloodied figure lying only a few feet away. The sounds of swords clashing and screams of pain still echoed through the air.

“Princess!” The urgent hiss came from the shadows, and I spotted Sylvenna’s silhouette behind a column. Her hand beckoned me with a desperate flicker. “Come quickly.”

Crawling on all fours, I dragged myself towards her, my palms and knees scraping on the marble floor. Each movement sent sharp spikes of pain shooting through my body as tiny pebbles dug into my skin.

“We’re fleeing through an ancient route,” Sylvenna hissed, barely audible over the chaotic sounds of battle. “A secret passage in the old wing of the palace. You must come.”

I hesitated, my eyes flicking back to Rohan and allies fighting valiantly in the battle.

“Rohan said to take you there if our plan succeeded,” Sylvenna continued as if she had read my thoughts.  “We must go.”

A prickle of irritation crawled up my spine. Was I a package to be delivered?  My fingers clenched into fists. But despite my anger towards being treated this way, there was a part of me that couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Rohan behind, not knowing what would become of him. How could I hold onto my anger when my heart was torn between staying and going?

“Screw what Rohan wants,” I spat back, my voice filled with defiance. “I won’t abandon him and the others.”

Sylvenna’s expression hardened, her gaze piercing into mine. “The High Lord didn’t ask for your consent, princess. He demanded it. And if need be, I will use magic to drag you along.”

Who does he think he is?  My eyes narrowed, but my initial anger gave way to a gnawing worry as I watched him fighting. Finally, I sighed in resignation. “Alright, fine. But Caelia, is she safe?”

“Many have fled already.  With the queen’s death, the powerful magic that cloaked the palace and kept us trapped… it’s gone. Caelia is likely with them.”

Another tremor shook the castle, dust and pebbles raining down like a deadly hailstorm. My heart raced with terror at the thought of being buried alive.

Sylvenna’s frantic tugs on my arm snapped me out of it.  “We need to go now,” the healer urged.

“But what about…” I began to protest.

“The immense amount of magic released has made this place unstable. It could collapse at any moment,” Sylvenna warned. “We must leave now,” the healer insisted urgently.

My chest tightened as I imagined Rohan and the others, their bodies entombed within the crumbling walls of this cursed castle. I rooted in place, wanting nothing more than to stay. But the ground trembled ominously, and dust rained down from the ceiling. Sylvenna’s hand clamped onto my arm, her grip surprisingly strong. With one last worried glance back, we fled for our lives as the place threatened to collapse around us.

I followed Sylvenna, our bodies low to the ground, darting from shadow to shadow. Then I saw her—Caelia, entering the throne room with a look of pure terror, her eyes scanning the chaos.

“Caelia!” I gasped, my heart leaping with relief.  She looked scared and lost, her eyes scanning frantically for a way out.

“I thought she was safe with the others,”  the healer muttered, her brow furrowed.

As I moved towards her, ready to bring her to safety, Sylvenna gripped my arm. “No time,” she hissed. “We must leave now.”

But I couldn’t leave her behind. Not Caelia. Rohan would understand… wouldn’t he? 

“I won’t leave without her!” I declared firmly.

Sylvenna hesitated, then reluctantly let go of my arm “Hurry!”

“Caelia!” I called out to her urgently. “Come with us!”

“Aerin!” Her eyes widened in relief. “Thank the gods you’re here!”

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