TBAM – Chapter Two: C

See the rest of the novel here.

In Helena, Litia’s capital city, there was a morgue reserved for those whose deaths were unusual. Ordinary murder victims did not qualify. Police workers who had their suspicions consulted Dr. Kine, who was the sole person to work in this section of the police department. He was paid very well for this job, mainly because there were not many people who were capable of doing what he did while being willing to complete so much paperwork.

It takes a magician to recognize a magical death, and Dr. Kine had been very persuasive when negotiating his salary. Trained as a healer, he’d hated hospital work from the moment he began, and considered dropping out on numerous occasions. Graduating with passable exam results had been a struggle, but now he had no regrets.

There was only one part of this job he considered unsavoury.

When Keats teleported into the morgue, corpse in tow, Dr. Kine didn’t even look up from the notes on his desk.

“So, which poor soul inspired your wrath today?”

“I missed your sense of humour, this was just an excuse.” Keats replied, deadpan.

He finally glanced at her, only to convey his expression of non-amusement. He noticed that she was bleeding from a wound on her upper arm. He could help her, but he didn’t quite feel like doing so. Besides, she didn’t look especially bothered by it.

“Sonya promised me that I would be seeing less of you from now on. Have you any idea how difficult it is to put the bodies you bring here through the system? Especially when you never fill out the paperwork?”

“Hey, it’s not my fault there isn’t a box you can check which says ‘Got what they deserved.’”

“And remind me why this guy deserved to be killed? Actually, don’t. Write it down on the correct forms instead.”

“Sorry, no can do. I need to find Sonya and inform her about what’s happened,” Keats lied. What she really needed was some rest before Sonya found her. Keats teleported out of the morgue, leaving Rappel’s body on the floor behind her.

Dr. Kine regarded the corpse from behind his desk with exasperation before he continued with his notes. It could wait there a few more minutes while he finished this report.

Taking Back The Crown – Thoughts

Okay, so I know it’s been a few days since I posted the ending of TBTC, but bear with me. I hope you enjoyed the series, I had a good time writing it, and it was great for me to able to focus on a longer project in preparation for NaNoWriMo.

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who stuck with it, or went back and read the whole thing! Thank you so much!

Honestly, how did you feel about the ending?

I hated it! I was so disappointed with myself! I kept on telling myself I had plenty of time to fix it and I never quite managed to get it to feel right.

Obviously, the relationship between Seta and Sonya is so complicated. Seta’s transition from guardian to romantic partner is tricky. I felt like I managed to make them equals from Sonya’s point of view, but I could never really figure out when Seta realizes Sonya isn’t a child anymore. When does it become acceptable for him to have romantic feelings for her?

I originally wrote Seta as younger than I really wanted him to be. For that reason, there’s an edge of jealousy when he thinks Sonya is sneaking out to see a boy. I never changed that when I rewrote Seta to be older, and that’s a mistake on my part. That was originally when I wanted to hint that Seta was beginning to develop those kind of feelings. With the later age differences, we’re on dodgy ground right up until Sonya sees him on the day of her coronation.

I guess I just felt a huge amount of pressure to get it absolutely perfect, because Sonya and Seta are my favorite couple in the TBAM series by miles, even though they hardly feature/will feature in the main books.

Another possibility I considered was having Seta help Sonya with the final battle, as it would allow him to see her in a leadership role rather than as a child. However, I felt this would veer far too closely him “saving the day” and that is absolutely something I wanted to avoid. This was Sonya’s coming of age story; she did need to do this by herself.

If you would like to read the series, click here. That link will take you to the first post.

Taking Back The Crown – Ending

 Later that night, after the ceremony, Sonya found Seta in the newly refurbished Palace gardens. He turned to her, looking upset.

  “What’s wrong?” she asked.

  “I’ve been talking to people here. The amount of difficulty you’ve been through in the past five years… Why didn’t you allow me to help you? Did you really think the Elders could have stopped me if I thought you needed me?” His face looked pained.

  “I didn’t need you, Seta. I needed to do this myself.” For the first time, Sonya realized they were of almost equal height.  If they battled now, would she beat him? “I hope you understand.”

  “I wish I could forgive you straight away. Did you have any idea how worried I was?”

  “You didn’t need to worry about me. I’m not a child anymore.” As if to prove it, Sonya took what she felt was the boldest leap of her life and kissed him.

 Afterwards, he held her tightly and they stood in silence as thoughts trickled through their minds. Seta was the first to speak.

  “Do you think the Elders knew that this would happen?”

  “I suspect they did.” Sonya murmured into his shoulder.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Nineteen

Half a year since they’d won the battle, and Sonya was still working tirelessly with the other magicians to restore the Palace and other homes in Litia. They sent out the message that Litia had been reclaimed. Slowly but surely, families and individuals came back to reclaim their properties. They formed an emergency government with Sonya at its head, planning for a proper election within the next three years. Their main project was rebuilding the Litian academy, a school that would educate both magical and non-magical students.

 Sonya had never really given up hope that Naria and Trin would return. However, she knew that Litia needed and wanted its Queen. Under pressure, she agreed to a coronation ceremony, scheduled after the Palace would be completed. It was going to be Litia’s fresh start, but she knew that she couldn’t begin until she had determined one last thing.

 One evening, she warped to the Natetic Training grounds. It was midday there, and the sun shone down on her. Sonya hoped it was a good omen. Luck did seem to be on her side, she came across nobody as she walked to the old combat room they’d trained in. They must all have been eating their main meal. As she waited for him, she looked out of the window and told herself that if he stayed here, she’d understand. It would still hurt, but he would have his reasons.

 “Hello?” Sonya swung around to see him. He suddenly dropped the tray of tea he was holding. She winced and hoped that the noise would not attract the elders. “Sonya?”

 She nodded. She wondered if he would recognize her, even without the scars. It had been five years for her, and a year for Seta. There was a big difference between fourteen and nineteen, but did Seta still see her as a child? Sonya swallowed. She hoped not.

 “Where have you been?” He stepped over the mess on the floor and grabbed her arms. “You’re so much older.” She looked him in the eyes.

 “Litia.” she replied, honestly.

“Is that where you’re from? Sonya, why did you leave? I was angry, but I didn’t think you’d run away. I didn’t want you to go away.”

 “I came back before. You didn’t recognize me, but I came back.” Seta’s eyes widened.

 “That was you? What happened to you? The elders never told me…”

 “The elders haven’t told you much, have they? They forbade me from coming back here. They knew who I was, where I was from, and they neglected to tell you.” Sonya explained.  “Let me show you where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing.” She held out her hand and Seta took it.

Sonya teleported them both into the foyer of the Palace, which had been decorated for the Coronation. Seta looked around, taking in the view, especially through the windows where the ravaged city could easily be seen.

 “The country was attacked and I lost all of my family on the night that you found me. They’re crowning me as Queen tonight.” she said. Seta closed his eyes.

 “The Litian Royal Family. I’ve heard of them. I should have known.” He opened his eyes again to see Sonya smiling.

 “I think Litia deserves a Queen that’s actually completed her training. Will you help me, even though the elders forbid it?” she asked.

 “As long as you are honest with me from now on…”

 “I promise. Always.”

 “…I’ll assist you in any way that I can.”

Taking Back The Crown – Part Eighteen

Sonya laid her plans carefully. This time they would not be surprised by the enemy.

 On the night of the attack, Sonya transported herself into the bathroom attached to Naria’s old bedroom. She peered out of the door and saw Magdalene sleeping in what once had been the bed reserved for the Queen. She recognized her as the woman who she’d attacked the day she’d came back to the Palace, shortly after the raid.  Sonya knew that Magdalene wouldn’t be able to resist the idea of taking over that room, taking full glory in the fact she’d overthrown the Royal Family. Sonya had no doubt that Magdalene saw herself as the Queen of Litia now, and thought that the bedroom rightfully belonged to her.

 “Magdalene.” Sonya called out, as she walked out of the bathroom. She couldn’t kill Magdalene in her sleep; it would be dishonourable.

 Magdalene suddenly sat bolt upright, and slashed her arm across the air, making Sonya think she had perhaps been awake the whole time. Sonya managed to reflect the attack, sending it into the wall, causing brick dust and plaster to fly across the room. Magdalene jumped out of bed, but Sonya’s next blow caused her to fall the floor. They duelled wordlessly, panting with effort, but Sonya always had the upper hand.

 A messenger came to warn Magdalene of the troops attacking the Palace and Sonya struck him dead within seconds. It wasn’t long after this that Sonya struck Magdalene across the body and she collapsed lifelessly to the floor.

 Sonya grabbed Magdalene by the collar and dragged her corpse out of the room, leaving a trail of blood behind her. As she walked towards the staircase, she heard the noise of intense battle. If her plan had worked, the majority of troops would be in the palace foyer. Sonya wasn’t disappointed. Proudly, she looked on and watched as her army fought with the Rutilus.

 She then took pleasure in the faces of all the dark magicians as they watched their leader’s dead body tumble down the staircase.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Seventeen

 Sonya put all her efforts over the next few months into not only recovering physically, but emotionally from her last encounter with Seta. After looking in the mirror, Sonya concluded it was hardly surprising that Seta had not recognized her. It was a long time before her face did not bear horrendous scars from the disastrous battle in Helena. Sonya was surprised at the number of recruits that remained. They had lost almost a quarter of their number in the battle, but almost everyone that survived remained loyal to the cause. They even had new magicians turn up, eager to fight.

 Linden seemed suddenly reluctant to talk about plans with her. Every time Sonya suggested how they would attack next time, he shrugged her off, saying they needed to be patient. This went on for about five months, until one night, her turned around and put his face uncomfortably close to hers.

  “We need to play the long game.” he began, quietly. “If we had another Litian heir, we’d have more of a chance…”

 “You’re not suggesting…” He put a hand on her hip, making it perfectly clear what he was suggesting. “It’s out of the question.”

 “You’re being selfish. These men are laying down their lives for you, and you won’t even do this to help them?” He stayed where he was, still gripping her with his left hand.

 Sonya thought about it. Was she being selfish?

 “No. The next battle, we do things my way.” Sonya pushed past him and walked out of the room.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Sixteen

“Do you think she’s any closer to waking up? It’s been weeks.” Sonya heard Orika’s voice, but couldn’t open her eyes. Her body seemed to be made of pain. She paid for every breath with agony.

 “She sustained serious internal injuries, especially on her brain. Even if she wakes up soon, it will be months before she fully recovers without a properly trained healer.” Linden replied. “We need to go. It’s time for another patrol.”

 After both Linden and Orika had left the room, Sonya finally managed to lift her eyelids. When she’d almost gotten used to her aching limbs, she pulled herself out of the bed she was in. Once stood, she felt heavy but delicate. Most of all she felt defeated, and she could think of only one place to go, of one person that she wanted to be with.

 Using energy she didn’t know she had, she warped to the Natetic training ground. She ended up in the upstairs corridor and stumbling towards Seta’s room. It was empty, so she went inside and ended up sitting on the floor, her back against the wall. She didn’t have to wait long. She heard voices outside in the corridor.

 “Elder, I don’t understand why you want to see my room, there’s nothing in-“ Seta’s voice suddenly stopped as they opened the door and saw her. Sonya had never seen an elder before. “Who are you?” he abruptly asked. Her heart sank. How could he not recognize her?

 “Seta, you must leave us alone while I talk to her.” the elder said. Seta reluctantly obeyed.  The elder watched him leave then turned back to Sonya. “I know who you are. I know why you’re here. We are not interested in your wars or agendas. We won’t tolerate you coming here ever again.” He turned on his heel and left.

Summoning all of her remaining strength and swallowing back tears, she warped back to the camp.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Fifteen

Sorry about the missed day. Been a little distracted of late. I can only hope this mood improves by the time I start NaNoWriMo.

 Eighteen months later, their small army marched into Helena with Sonya and Linden at their head, but they didn’t see a soul. They pressed on, Sonya feeling uneasy, until they reached the central square.

 “This is a mistake.” Sonya breathed.

No sooner than she had finished whispering those words, a screaming mob of Rutilus and dark magicians had surrounded them. Sonya found herself taken back to the night of the raid on the Palace, watching as people were slaughtered. Not again. It wouldn’t happen again. She surged forward, throwing attacks at her enemies and watching them fall. Her recruits followed her into the chaos. She suffered blows on her back, front and legs but kept going until she found herself against the tall Palace gates. Sonya turned to see hundreds of Rutilus pressing towards her, and she couldn’t keep them at bay.

  What can I do? What can I do? Sonya thought. A Rutilus threw an attack, and she was blown into unconsciousness.

 Linden saw this happening and used his magic to shoot a blue flare into the sky. This was the signal to retreat.

 “What about Sonya?!” Orika yelled above the din.

 “She’s gone! There’s nothing we can do!” With that, he teleported back to the base.

 Orika ignored him and dived into the mass. With the aid of some other recruits who did not want to lose their leader, she retrieved Sonya’s body and finally retreated.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Fourteen

For months there were arguments about how they should oust the dark magicians from Helena.

 “We should approach from the North and slowly clear everyone out.” Linden advised. “There aren’t enough of us to split into groups. If all the Rutilus come in from the Back Desert, they’ll be able to pick us off, one by one.”

 “No, we need to take them by surprise. If we take Magdalene, the leader, before she can call them in, they might just leave us.”

 “Your highness, I appreciate you are concerned, but I have experience in these matters. You must trust me.”

 Sonya walked out of the room, frustrated.

While the plans were discussed, Sonya spent time teaching new recruits everything she knew about magical combat. She was even taught new things by those who had studied different methods under trainers from other lands. In the end, Sonya had her own style that she was comfortable with, but she never stopped feeling guilty about her incomplete training with Seta.

 She made friends with Orika and, six months after moving to the camp, confided in her about the Training Ground and the circumstances in which she left. She neglected to mention her feelings for Seta, but Orika understood and comforted her.

 “Why not go back and explain properly? He might want to fight with us.” Orika suggested.

 “For a group of magicians who train in combat, they’re very anti-conflict. They don’t get involved with other people’s wars.”

 “Maybe in general, but he might not be.” she pointed out. Sonya was doubtful. It was best to leave Seta and those painful memories behind.

Taking Back The Crown – Part Twelve

Sonya visited Linden’s camp every night while she completed her training with Seta. As time ran only slightly slower in the Sprite World, she survived on very little sleep. Seta noticed her fatigue, but she gave him no hints as to why she was tired. To keep secrets from him, to put this emotional distance between herself and her mentor, saddened her. However, she had many distractions.

 Linden had been correct in his assumption that magicians would be more willing to fight with a member of the Royal Family at their side. The numbers grew quickly, and there was barely enough room for all of the recruits. Eventually, they created a concealed camp on Litia’s outskirts, one that was much larger. This made things much easier for Sonya, as the time difference meant she could get more rest.

 After weeks of patrolling Litia’s outer districts, they had not seen anyone, Rutilus or human. They came closer and closer to Litia’s capital, Helena. Only when they reached the edges of the capital did they come across small groups of Rutilus. Most of the time, they hid. When the time came to attack, they wanted to be prepared and they wanted the element of surprise. On one patrol though, they were seen by a female Rutilus. They captured and restrained her in an abandoned home.

 “Your efforts will be in vain!” she hissed. “We are all faithful to Magdalene. If she calls us you’ll have our entire race to contend with!” She spat in Orika’s face, broke her bonds and sent an attack flying across the room. Linden yelled out as it hit him in the face, cutting deeply across his cheek. Sonya quickly reacted, using her magic to trip the Rutilus before she could escape.

 Sonya executed the Rutilus that night. It was the first time she had killed anyone, and was shocked to find it so exhilarating. Having the power to rip someone’s life away was terrifying, but Sonya had no regrets. It needed to be done.