Click here to read Part One, here to read Part Two, here to read Part Three, here to read Part Four, here to read Part Five, and here to read Part Six.
The beast roared again, and the ground seemed to shake. The commander of the black army took a step backward, adopting a defensive stance. Just as he did, the icedrake reared its head back and shot a stream of liquid straight at him. As soon as it touched the commander’s sword, it froze solid, creating a wall of ice in front of him.
The icedrake continued to shoot, the wall growing larger and larger, pushing against the commander’s sword. His feet began to slip as the impact drove him backward, towards the two children.
Just as he looked as if he was going to fall over, the icedrake’s stream of liquid diminished and then stopped altogether, as it paused to regain power. The man stepped back and knelt down for a moment to regain his breath, then he stood and raised his sword. He struck the wall of ice and it exploded, pieces flying everywhere.
When the fog cleared, the icedrake shot again, and the children watched in grim fascination as the entire process was repeated several times. It was clear that it would be quite some time before either opponent was worn out.
“What’s the plan?” the boy asked the girl, trusting the noise of the battle to cover the sound of his voice, and hoping he didn't sound as worried as he looked.
“I don't know,” she answered. “Just give me a minute to think.”
She stared at the icedrake, unable to stop herself from admiring the pale blue scales, the sleek wings, and sapphire eyes. I wish I knew where it was from…
To her horror, the icedrake stopped, mid attack, and turned towards her, looking her straight in the eyes. The boy took a step backwards, and tried to pull the girl with him, but she shook him off. There was something about that gaze…
Who are you?
She reached back and grabbed the boy’s hand, suddenly feeling dizzy, but she couldn't shift her eyes away.
What…? How…? she thought, panicking. She'd never heard of anything like this ever happening before. Did that voice come from you? she thought at the icedrake.
Yes, it answered. How can hear me? My master said that he alone has the power to speak to drakes.
I don't know, the girl thought. Who is your master?
The Ice King, came the answer. The thought came with a sensation of cold, almost as if the words themselves were frozen. The girl felt her eyes being directed downward, and for the first time, she noticed a man standing behind the icedrake. On his head was a crown of ice.
The boy saw him too, but his gaze was quickly distracted by the Black Commander, who had spotted the children and was walking towards them with his sword raised.
The girl was still trapped in the icedrake’s gaze, so he looked around for a weapon. The boy spotted a sword — belonging to the ice army from the looks of it — several paces paces away.
There was no time to consider. He dropped the girl’s hand and took off at a sprint, snatched up the sword, skidding as he spun around, and retraced his steps as quickly as he could. He was only halfway there, though, when he saw the Black Commander raise his sword, and remembered that he didn't have to be touching an object to turn it to ice.
No! The mental scream tore through his mind. I can’t lose her! The commander’s sword was pointed to the sky, and it was beginning to drop. The boy pushed himself forward, running faster than he’d ever run before. Still staring at the icedrake, the girl didn't seem to see anything else that was going on.
The sword was nearly even with its target. I have to make it, he thought, searching for any reserves of energy that he hadn't already spent. He held the sword out, ready to try and block whatever the Black Commander shot towards the girl.
The boy had one moment of pure relief. He was only a few paces away from her, and he knew that she was safe.
Or, he thought she was. Until he ran into what felt like a brick wall.
Someone was laughing. The boy, shaking his head to clear the black spots from his eyes, turned to find the source of the noise. The commander was walking towards him, smiling and looking almost amused.
“Did you really think I would just hand you one of the most powerful spells in the world? Of course I had to take precautions. There are those who would be most displeased if commoners began meddling in such things.”
Suddenly the boy felt something like chains wrapping around his arms and legs, and he was jerked upwards into the air.
“This restraint is rather rudimentary; I couldn't do anything too complex last night without you becoming suspicious. But as you have no real skill, I don't have to worry about you breaking out,” the Black Commander said. “Thanks to your completely unfounded trust in me, you’ll have a good view of your friend’s death.”
The boy struggled desperately, but there was nothing he could do. He couldn't even open his mouth. Hoping for a miracle, he watched as the commander lowered his sword again.
Just as he thought all was lost, the icedrake looked away from the girl, and she turned quickly towards the commander. As she did, something blue and transparent shot out of the end of the commander’s sword. She quickly raised her hands, and out of them came a string of golden light. The two collided with a blinding flash. When the afterimage faded from the boy’s eyes, he saw the commander and girl facing each other, both blinking and looking slightly dazed.
The commander recovered quickly and tried again; the girl stopped it again. He cursed and slammed his sword into the ground, which gave her a moment to check on the icedrake. It was cowering before the Ice King, who was glaring and, she guessed, speaking to it.
Seeing that the Black Commander had raised his sword again, the girl prepared herself. This time, though, a steady stream of blue emanated from the weapon; the girl did the same with her light. The blinding light this time was constant, not just a flash. She found that by squinting she could see vaguely the meeting point between the opposing forces.
To her amazement, she found that it was much closer to the commander than it was to her. She wasn't sure what would happen when it reached him, but she knew it would be to her advantage.
She put all of her energy behind the line of gold, and it inched closer to the Black Commander. He was pushing back now, but it wasn't enough to stop the girl’s barrage.
All she could see now was a tiny line of blue many paces away. Almost there! she thought, giving one last big burst of energy.
Then, to her shock, the line of blue moved. It stopped almost immediately, as the golden light found its target, but a small bit shot forward and hit something to her left. The girl turned to see what it was.
Her heart stopped and her vision started to blur. The world around her started spinning as she rushed forward to where the boy lay, completely frozen. She dropped to her knees and put her ear against his chest.
Nothing. There was no heartbeat. She felt a sob rising in her throat, and tears were slipping out onto her cheeks. She wept into the boy’s cold chest, having no strength to move or even think.
How long she stayed there she never knew, but after some time she heard a voice behind her. “What a pity you had to see that. If you'd both gone at the same time it would've been much less painful.”
The girl’s sorrow was quickly replaced by anger. She stood and spun around, hands raised, ready to destroy whoever had just spoken. The Ice King stood in front of her, no more than five paces away.
“What do you want?” the girl asked, glaring at him. “You're systematically decimating this entire island. What's the point of ruling an iceberg?”
“I'm not after the island,” the Ice King answered. “All I'm doing here is experimenting. I have much bigger plans, plans which will come to fruition when my icedrake is full grown.”
The girl opened her mouth to speak, but the king interrupted her. “The reason I didn't kill you while you were distracted is that I have an offer to make you. The icedrake tells me you can speak to it. You must either be the child of a sorcerer, or you must have something new… something that's never been heard of. To win the battles I have planned, I need more strength.” He paused for a moment, apparently lost in thought, then looked her in the eyes. “I want you to join me.”
The girl didn't hesitate for a moment. She gathered her anger and shot a huge burst of energy through her hands and towards the Ice King. He quickly raised his own hands to ward off the light, and to the girl’s shock, they did. Only then did she notice that his skin was the same pale shade of blue that hers had been when she’d touched the ice arrow.
“Don't be difficult,” the Ice King said. “I'm offering you a chance only a few in history have ever had. You can rule the world alongside me… or you can die here.”
“I would much rather die than join a scheming, murdering—”
“That's quite enough,” he interrupted, then turned to the icedrake. A moment later it stepped forward and opened its mouth.
The girl thought back to what the icedrake had said to her earlier, just before the Black Commander had attacked. It said it couldn't disobey its master’s command, but maybe….
She looked into the icedrake’s eyes. Does your master love you?
The icedrake hesitated. What do you mean?
Does he care for you? Would he risk his life for you? she asked.
Of course not, the icedrake answered. I am his servant.
Exactly, the girl thought. This boy behind me, he loved me. He… she bit her lip, barely able to even think the words, he died because he was trying to protect me. Your master knows nothing of love, he only knows hate. If you serve him, you will be miserable all your life.
But, but… the icedrake started, knowing that the girl must be wrong, but unsure why. Or maybe she wasn't. I don't know what to believe.
The Ice King was shouting something and hitting the icedrake, but neither of them paid any attention to him.
Then go, the girl told him. Explore. Learn. Grow. If you ever want to return to you master, you're free to do so. If you don't, you're free to stay where you are.
The icedrake considered for several moments. The advice you have given is good. He spread his wings, knocking the Ice King away as if he was a piece of grass.
Holding his gaze just a little longer, the girl thought, You will always be welcome in my kingdom.
The icedrake bowed his head in thanks and then launched himself into the air with a powerful stroke of his wings. The girl watched as he disappeared behind a row of buildings. Just as she was starting to turn around, something smashed into her face and sent her sprawling on the ground.
“What did you do?” the Ice King screamed, standing over her. “Where did you send my icedrake?”
The girl had a few dark spots in her vision, but she noticed that his hands were in the air, exposing his head and torso. She raised her own hands and shot a strong blast into his stomach.
He fell over, screaming with pain. The girl closed her eyes and tried to block out the sound. She wanted to go to sleep… so tired… sleep… But something wouldn't let her rest. Slowly the fog in her mind faded, and she remembered: the boy. I have to see if I can do anything for him.
She slowly opened her eyes and sat up. The ground around her was strewn with ice and broken cobblestones, and it was nearly dark now. A few stars were showing themselves in the heavens, and it looked as if one of the moons was about to rise.
The Ice King lay on the ground next to her, motionless. She didn't have to check for a heartbeat, she knew he was dead; his skin had turned a sickening shade of black. She glanced over to where the duel between her and the Black Commander had taken place and saw him, too. His skin had retained its color, but he wasn't breathing. Perhaps the Ice King was affected more by her gift because of his ice power.
With a sigh, she walked over to where the boy lay. She was so completely exhausted, both physically and emotionally, that no tears would come. She sat and mourned silently, trying not to let herself think about what might have been.
But it was impossible. Images flashed before her mind: riding together in the forest, reading in the library, hunting, even one that looked suspiciously like a wedding.
She brushed her hand gently against his cheek, pouring all of her trust, all of her hope, all of her love into that touch.
And then something happened. The spot where she had placed her fingers changed. The cold, blue tinge of his skin started to fade. It looked… normal. The effect slowly started spreading across his face, and then to the rest of his body.
The girl's eyes widened and she drew a quick breath. Do I dare hope…?
The boy coughed, and his eyes slowly opened. The girl threw her arms around him, all the tears that she hadn't been able to shed pouring down her cheeks.
“You're alive!” She was too overwhelmed to think of anything else to say.
“Not for much longer if you keep squeezing me like that,” the boy said, sitting up.
“Sorry,” the girl answered with a laugh. She wiped her cheeks and smiled as he returned her embrace.
“What did I miss?” he asked.
An hour later, the two children started back towards where they had left the King of Cliffhaven and his army. They both had an arm around the other; they were taking no chances of being separated again.
As they were getting close, the girl turned her gaze towards the boy. “There's one more thing I need to tell you,” she said.
“What's that?” the boy asked, keeping an eye on the path to make sure they didn't trip.
“My father was supposed to be King of Cliffhaven,” she told him. “The current ‘king’ stole his throne and sent him to your kingdom.”
“Then you’re the rightful ruler,” he said.
“For now,” the girl answered. “If I can revive everyone the way I did you, my father will be.”
“But we should get rid of him either way,” the boy said, nodding towards the king, who had just appeared as they rounded the corner of a building.
“Exactly.” The girl let go of the boy and raised both her hands towards the king. He froze and instinctively raised his hands. “Don't move,” she called, hurrying towards him.
“What happened? Has the ice army been—?”
“Be quiet,” the girl said as she reached him. She walked around him slowly.
What's she doing? the boy wondered. Then she pulled a dagger out of the king’s belt. Ah.
She walked back around to face him. “You,” she said, pointing the dagger at his face, “are hereby charged with treason and attempted murder, by the true queen of Cliffhaven, Uncle. And don’t try telling me that’s not what the dagger was for.”
The impostor’s eyes widened and he seemed to be unable to speak for several moments. Finally he got out, “Prove it. Prove you're my brother’s daughter.”
“I don't have any way to do that,” she answered. “But if you don't proclaim it in front of the entire city tomorrow morning, you'll be dead.”
The boy doubted that she would actually carry through with that threat, but it had the desired effect. The impostor nodded quickly.
“Now get out of here,” the girl said, giving him a push. “And if you or any of you soldiers even think about trying to harm either of us, I'll kill you.”
He nodded again and hurried away.
“That went well,” the boy said.
“You have no idea how long I've been wanting to do that,” the girl answered, a contented smile on her lips.
The next evening, the two sat on a grassy hill on the edge of town, watching the sunset. Everything had gone as planned that morning, and the people had accepted the girl as their temporary ruler.
She had begun repairing the city, starting, of course, with the people. Most of them had fled when the ice armies approached, but there were a few hundred who hadn't been able to get away quickly enough. The girl had healed them all, and restored a few of the largest fallen buildings.
“Do you think we should stay another day?” she asked the boy, not taking her eyes off the orange clouds in the distance.
“No,” he answered. “They can make the small repairs easily enough themselves, and our kingdom is still frozen solid.”
The girl nodded. “What do you say? Shall we leave at dawn?”
“Sounds good to me,” the boy said, laying down on the soft grass. Then he sat back up, remembering something. “You said you would tell me about the Creator.”
“He can tell you Himself,” she answered. “He said He’d speak to us after the battle.”
The boy laid back down. “Well then, I guess there's nothing to do except wait.”
“That doesn't sound too bad, actually,” the girl said, laying down beside him.“Just as long as I'm waiting with you.”
He took her hand in his, and they watched the sun slowly sink below the horizon, the diminishing light doing nothing to dampen the joy and hope filling their hearts.
They didn't have to wait long.
Written by Elia Tyson
Edited by The Flabbits
Copyright © 2018 by The Flabbit Room
Welcome to The Flabbit Blog! Here you will find writings by the many members of The Flabbit Room, most of which will be set in the world of Ildathore.