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.

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Taking Back The Crown – Part Eleven

Collected my first year results from my university tutor today. After convincing me that getting a 2.1 instead of a 1st was not the end of the world, he asked me what I had planned for the summer. I ended up telling him about NaNoWriMo, and now I’m really looking forward to it.

 “Your highness, I can’t tell you how relieved we are to see you again.”

 Linden Hayber was red-haired, well-dressed and handsome. His dark eyes surveyed Sonya. She met them, and they looked at each other in silence for a few seconds.

 “Is there any news of my mother or grandmother?” she asked.

 “Unfortunately not. I only have bad news. The information we have gathered suggests that both Trin and Naria have been trapped in some kind of netherworld, the entrance of which lies in the Back Desert. We have been told there is very little chance of them escaping.”

 “I have faith in them. They will find a way.” Sonya replied, stubbornly.

 “We have no way of knowing.” Linden stroked his chin. “Where have you been?”

 “Somewhere safe. Trin told me not to leave until she came back for me…” Sonya found herself reluctant to talk about the Natetic training ground.

 “She probably did not envisage these events. She couldn’t have known. You are in the right place now.”

 “How many people are here? What is your plan?” Sonya asked. Starved of information about Litia for the past four years, she was now eager for details.

 “We’ve been trying to gather troops for a long time now,” He gave a short sigh. “About two years, and we have thirty recruits.”

 “Only thirty?” she replied, sharply.

“Things will undoubtedly change now. We had assumed you had been taken by our enemies, along with Trin and Naria. With you here, things are different. People will fight if you are leading them.”

Taking Back The Crown – Part Nine

Sonya knew she had been in the captain’s London home before. She pictured the street the house was situated on and transported herself there. She was immediately hit with noise and bodies. She found herself being pushed aside by crowds of pedestrians in dark woollen suits. Several did double-takes at her Natetic dress. Sonya knew she should find somewhere to change, but she stared in wonderment at the mass of people and the string of automobiles being driven through the roads. Finally, she walked to an alleyway and changed into an outfit similar to that worn by the ladies she saw walking down the streets.

 She lowered the brim of the hat across her face and walked back around to the tall brick house. Just as she was about to reach the path, two men opened the door and walked down to the street, immersed in their own conversation. Sonya decided to follow them. It might be that the captain had decided to sell the house, and someone else now lived there. Sonya had been missing for twenty years in Litian/Earth time, a lot could have happened since then. She shadowed the men until they reached a small tea room. Once there, she sat at a table near them so that she could listen.

 “I’m sorry, but I won’t do it. I have my family now. I was only a boy when we evacuated. Litia’s gone to the Rutilus. We’ve moved on with our lives.” The man who said this looked to be in his thirties. Sonya’s heart jumped at the mention of her home. The second man was much older, maybe in his fifties. Sonya looked closer. She was sure it was the Captain!

 “I still have scouts who go in and out of the capital. There’s hardly any Rutilus left, they’ve gone back to the Desert because their power isn’t as strong outside it. There’s just a group of dark magicians and a few Rutilus who are faithful to them. If we had a group of strong magicians like yourself-“

 “If we had the Royal Family it would be different. Without them, even if we reclaimed Litia, we’d be forever vulnerable.”

 The Captain shook his head and said, “Litia’s where we belong.” He stood up. “If you change your mind, Linden Hayber is trying to gather recruits in the Sprite World. He’s set up camp in the Royal Family’s second home.”

Taking Back The Crown: Part Six

Sonya landed on her back, in the main room of the training ground, panting. Seta must have already been inside the room. Within seconds he was standing over her, looking at her injury. He yelled to someone outside the room to get the medic.

“Seta?” Sonya’s voice was weak.

“Yes? What happened to you?” Seta was trying to sit her up so he could look at the laceration on her back.

“I don’t think my mother’s coming back.”

“Do you have any other family? A home to go back to?” He was now attempting to stem the blood pouring from her wound. Sonya shook her head.

“It’s not safe.”

When the medic had used his magic to treat Sonya’s wound, she was taken upstairs to a small room with a slightly thicker futon than the one she’d been sleeping on.

“Whose room is this?” Sonya asked.

“It’s yours now.” Seta explained. “You can stay in this training ground and learn our ways. I’ve seen you meditating and doing your exercises, you’re capable of graduating from this school.” He paused. “I… I thought the elders would resist. They don’t like strangers. But… they trust me. And they have a feeling about you, they said.”

Sonya sat, silent, for a few moments before responding. “Thank you. For everything. But why?”

Seta frowned. “You’re just a child. You shouldn’t be on your own.” He told her to get some rest, and then left.

Sonya buried her head in her pillow. Just a child! If he knew who she was, he wouldn’t say that! She was a Litian heir. She possessed magical power that other magicians could only dream of. No injury could kill her. She felt like a fraud, pretending to be defenceless when in reality she was just a coward who didn’t know where else to go. Ashamed, she cried until she finally fell asleep.

Taking Back The Crown: Part Four

“I saw him chasing you last night through my window. I was surprised when I saw you defend yourself.” Seta began. They were kneeling in front of a wooden table, in the same room she’d woken up in. The futon had been packed away. The walls were very bare and, although Sonya had a cushion, the wooden floor was hard on her knees. Seta poured her some tea, but she didn’t drink it.

 “Females here don’t have magic.” Sonya remembered this from her lessons. It was a strange idea to her, since she came from a family where only the first born female inherits power. However, there were an equal number of male and female magicians across Litia. Her family was unique in its inheritance pattern.

 “No. Where are you from? Litia? The Sprite World?” he asked.

  “Where is this place?” she asked, avoiding his question. If he knew about Litia, then he would probably know about her family, the so-called Litian Royalty.

 “I believe outside worlds call this Natetern.” Sonya had known this from doing her exercises. These people must have really taken pity on her. Natetics were not usually so welcoming of strangers. At least, that’s what she’d been taught. “This area is a training ground for Natetic magicians. Who was the man I killed?”

 “He was someone I knew. I don’t know why he attacked me. I was waiting for my mother.” she answered, truthfully.

 “When did you last see your mother?” Seta gently probed.

 “She brought me here. It’s not safe where I’m from. She told me not to go back without her.” Sonya quickly explained. Surely this information wasn’t dangerous to give him? Seta narrowed his eyes. He looked almost like an elderly man when his eyes wrinkled up, though his stature and normal face suggested he couldn’t be more than twenty five.

“I see. Our elders, the men who run this place, say you may stay here for as long as you need to.”

Taking Back The Crown: Part Three

There was a smell of sweet incense. Sonya awoke on a thin futon, under fresh sheets. Her shirt, coat and boots were next to her, and somebody had treated the wounds on her chest and back while she was unconscious. She sat up quickly and started redressing. She needed to get back to the woods in case Trin was looking for her. There was an open doorway into a courtyard only a few metres away. Sonya could see the clearing she had collapsed in last night. Rather than risk being seen, she teleported to the woods.

When she arrived on the little pathway, startled birds flew away. Sonya turned on the spot. On the ground, the marks created last night by Vyant’s magic were still there. There were no signs of anything else. If Trin had been here, she would have left a message, surely? There had been a lot of Rutilus last night. Maybe it was taking a long time to clear them all out and herd them back to the Back Desert? It didn’t matter, Trin had told her not to go back to the Palace by herself. She knew better than to disobey Trin’s orders.

She waited for hours. She sat beneath the same tree she’d enchanted last night and began to do the exercises she had been taught. She meditated and controlled her breathing. She stretched her senses and counted all the people nearby. She could tell that there were many powerful magicians in the complex she had slept in. They must have saved her from Vyant. Now it was daytime, she could see that the main entrance to the complex was only slightly down the path. The sign had been hidden by overgrown trees. Maybe Trin had meant for her to take refuge there.

 “We wondered where you had gone.” Sonya had become distracted by her thoughts of Trin, Naria, the Rutilus and Vyant. She opened her eyes to see a dark haired man with a stern expression.  He had eyes that were the same colour as the tree trunks and his skin was a deep tan. Though he was frowning, he didn’t seem cold. “I did you a favour last night by protecting you from that guy. It’s rude to run away.”

 “Where is he?” Sonya interrupted. “What did you do to him?”

 “He was vicious and determined to get at you. In the end I had to kill him. You at least owe me an explanation. Who are you?”

 “Sonya.” After speaking, she pushed her lips together. She shouldn’t tell him anything.

 “I’m Seta. I think you should come back inside. It’s obviously not safe for you to be wandering around on your own.” He bent down and offered her his hand. After a moment, she took it and allowed him to help her up. Trin must have brought her here for a reason.

Taking Back The Crown: Part Two

When the nausea had ceased, Sonya finally put her lessons into use. She closed her eyes and stretched her consciousness into the pathways that travelled between worlds. She identified this dimension as one she’d never visited, but had heard about. The Royal Family rarely visited here, because the resident magicians were powerful and lived by strict honour codes. Users of dark magic were severely punished by their own people.

Sonya sheltered under a tree and used the magic to wash her face and change her sodden dress into more practical clothing; a long coat, pants and boots. She then used her magic to weave the branches above her, which prevented the rain from reaching her entirely. Then she waited for Trin. She wondered how long Naria would be in hospital. It would probably take months for her head to regrow properly.

Embarrassment and shame crept through Sonya’s veins. She’d just sat and watched as people were slaughtered. She hadn’t even tried to help Trin fight off the yellow-eyes Rutilus. How would she cope patrolling the deserts the Rutilus lived in if she just froze when she was in danger? When Trin came back, she would apologize profusely. She would try harder.

A figure appeared on the nearby path.

 “Sonya?” a man called out. It couldn’t be Trin. Sonya hesitated. “Sonya? Trin sent me to get you. Everything is safe now.” Sonya slowly came towards the path.

 “Trin said she would fetch me herself.” Sonya warily stepped out of the foliage. She recognized the man. He was a politician called Vyant. He’d been at the party. But why had Trin sent him? Vyant stopped where he was.

“..She’s busy at the Palace, trying to calm everyone down.” he eventually replied.

Sonya didn’t reply. Vyant rapidly moved his arms and sent a ball of plasma hurtling towards her. Sonya raised her arms and created a shield. His magic bounced off. Sonya’s breath rattled in her lungs. She stepped back and ran into the bushes. More attacks came. Bits of ground around her exploded. Then Sonya felt a searing pain across her back and she crashed down into the weeds. She picked herself up again and she could hear him tripping on tree roots, getting closer and closer.

Sonya found herself in a clearing. There was a large complex of white walled houses in front of her. She turned and saw Vyant running out from between the trees. She rapidly created her own ball of plasma and threw it at him. He was forced back several meters. Blood roared through her ears and Sonya prepared another, more powerful attack. I can beat him, she thought. She hurled her attack, but he simply reflected it back. It hit her squarely in the chest. She was thrown right across the clearing, landing on her back. When she opened her eyes, gasping with pain and shock, everything was blurred.

 “Hey! What’s going on here?!” It was shouted in a foreign tongue by a male voice. There were flashes of light, and then everything went black for Sonya.

What Would Have Been: Thoughts

My intention with this series was not to create a perfect, polished piece of writing. It was my chance to have fun, relax and just write without worrying about getting everything right. I really enjoyed creating WWHB, and I hope at least some people who read it enjoyed the story too.

I explained that WWHB is what could have happened to the characters in my novel if the storyline I wrote never took place. However, Keats is a lot more mature in this piece than she was at the beginning of TBAM. I think it’s hard, once you’ve developed a character, to make them act the way they did at first. She’s also a lot less anxious about what Sonya thinks of her.

 Looking back, there are a few things I would change. Firstly, I would have spent more time explaining the chemistry between Keats and Judas. It’s probably not clear why Keats is so attached to Judas after so little time. There is a part of Keats, the same part that wants to reject her role as member of the Royal Family and as a “Hero”, that is very strongly attracted to him. It’s not so much what they do or say, but how they feel when they’re together. She knows that he’s unique in that sense, and she will never feel that way about another man.

Secondly, towards the end, I would have had Keats change back into her true self rather than still be in her disguise.

I could have added an extra post from Sonya’s perspective, perhaps a conversation between her and Fei.

Apart from that, it’s mostly just typos, odd sentences etc. If I was going to spend more time on it, then I would have tried to make Darkness more sinister and highlight how powerful she is.

Thanks for reading, anyway. Please let me know what you think. :c)

What Would Have Been: Ending

 Later that day, Keats stood outside the door of Sonya’s office, like a naughty child waiting to see the headmistress. She knew Sonya would never admit that Keats had done a good thing. Even though her undercover mission had been a success, it had been completely unapproved and Sonya did not like anything being done without her permission. It remained to be seen whether Sonya would forgive her.

 Keats had worn the same clothes for the past 48 hours. Judas’s scent still lingered on them. They smelled of sweet torture. She braced herself and knocked on the door before entering.

 Sonya’s shrewd eyes never left Keats as she walked towards the chair opposite Sonya’s desk.

 “I see you rebuilt the castle with ease.” Keats began, and then she winced, thinking that was perhaps not the best place to start.

 “Yes. It took Fei and I almost the whole time you were gone to get things back to the way they were.” said Sonya, her brown eyes narrowing.

 “Weren’t you looking for me?” Keats asked.

 “Where were we supposed to look for you? We had no idea where you had gone or what you would do.”

 “…You didn’t really think I’d turned bad, did you?” Keats had hoped Sonya would know her better than that.

 “I didn’t know if that was true, or if it was just what I wanted to believe.” Sonya sighed. “I thought you were too smart to turn away from us, but then I thought you were too smart to think that you could trick Darkness.”

 “But I did trick Darkness.” Keats smiled.

 “You can wipe that smirk off your face. If things had gone wrong, they would have gone disastrously wrong. You placed everyone in danger. I hope you realize that, despite the fact things turned out well, it doesn’t make what you did okay by any stretch of the imagination. Destroying the castle, taking on this undercover role without permission, running off and thinking you could handle this without any help… The list goes on.” Sonya’s nostrils were flared and she pressed her lips tightly together for a moment. There was a pause. “How did you trick Darkness?”

 “You have to admit that you’re a little impressed.” Keats said.

 “I’m not admitting anything.” Sonya said, irritably.

 “I had to bury all my true intentions and feelings under a fake persona. All the thoughts she saw were me pretending to be that fictional person. I couldn’t for a second think about what I was actually going to do until the last second. I was vaguely conscious of myself, but Darkness couldn’t pick that up when she was reading my mind.”

 “Were you not worried about forgetting yourself?” Sonya asked. Keats shook her head. “Before you banished that man using the Nox Key, you seemed to hesitate. You weren’t seriously thinking of running off with him were you?”

“Of course not.” Keats snorted. She stood up and walked out of Sonya’s office.

If she stayed another second, she would not be able to hide the fact she was lying.

What Would Have Been: Part 5

Keats never felt comfortable in a masculine body. She especially felt this around Judas. He still kept looking at her, but she knew that he saw someone different. He saw a blonde, moustached man who was well into his thirties. She concentrated and marched through the snow, letting her eyes wander over the fortress ahead of them. She’d never been inside before. She didn’t even know which room the key was in, or how to get to it.

 There were many guards milling around outside the main fortress entrance, talking to each other and smoking.

 “Gristya! Back from patrol already? Stay and have a cigarette with us. We’re enjoying the unusually mild weather.” a young man called out to Darkness.

 Darkness gave an affable smile to the man and said, “I would love to, but this new recruit needs someone to show him around still.” She gestured to Judas.

 “Ah, of course. They said there would be new recruits after word from the Queen of Litia. I say she should defend her own things. New recruits will not help us if the renegade member of their Royal Family attacks.” The man frowned and discarded his cigarette in the snow. “I heard she pulled their castle to the ground. Destroying this fortress would probably be like squishing an ant.” he concluded gloomily.

 “Indeed.” Keats said, concealing a grin.

 An enchantment had been placed on the entrance to prevent intruders getting into the fortress. It was laughably weak and the group bypassed it with ease using their own magic. Once inside, Keats used her senses to determine where the Nox Key was held. She could almost smell the magic that protected it. Within ten minutes they reached the room where it was held. Keats stood outside the door.

 “Once I enter this room, Sonya will know that I am here and will come immediately. You need to hold her off while I get the Key.” she said.

Darkness nodded. Trying to hide her trembling hands, Keats pushed open the door. She ran inside. Within seconds, she saw a flash of light that signalled Sonya’s arrival. Her heart beat rapidly as she saw the Nox Key, an egg shaped piece of smooth, black stone. Her hands closed around it and she heard loud bangs mingled with shrieks of delight from Darkness. She must be winning the battle with Sonya.

 This is it. You need to act now, Keats thought. She hushed herself, she couldn’t let those barriers break, those walls which prevented Darkness seeing her true intentions and her true thoughts. She couldn’t let Darkness see through the fake persona she’d created. If she failed her mission now, Sonya would never forgive her.

These conscious thoughts spilled out, and Keats tried to plug them up. Alarmed and panicking, she looked up. Darkness had not heard her thoughts; she was too distracted by her battle with Sonya. Keats sprinted back into the corridor breathlessly reciting the words needed to unlock the Nox Key’s power and flung her arms around Darkness. The world seemed to stand still for a second as the floor opened up underneath Darkness and she was sucked into the netherworld from which she came.

Sonya and Judas looked at Keats, shocked.

“No. No!” Judas said and Keats stepped towards him. “We can still be together, free.” he said. “No Darkness, just us two.” He grabbed her hand and Keats paused.

“I’m sorry.”

She embraced him and kissed his cheek. Then she pushed him down into the same place as Darkness.