#NaNoWriMo 2013 Chapter 2
Confusion broke out through the castle, which only made the ensuing attack that much worse. No one was prepared for the onslaught. The best army in all of Schachar was being bested, and quickly, out of the simple fact that they were not prepared.
As with any battle, no one expects they were betrayed by one of their own.
“I see it.” Rayne was standing at her window gazing out upon the gardens that were already burning. All of the care and love she had given those flowers over the year, all of the days she had spent in there, watching her daughters grow amongst brightly placed flowers, it was all gone in a flash. Her daughters had blossomed with those flowers and it meant little now. All that mattered was saving the lives of her daughters.
Selwyn joined her by the window. Both were surprisingly calm as the invaders came over the gates and through the holes that were broken through brick. Every weak spot in the aging castle had been found and they were taking down the gates surrounding it with ease. There was no stopping the onslaught, only minimizing the damage.
And saving her daughters.
Rayne’s biggest fear was that she would not be able to save them all. She glanced at Selwyn and said, “You know what to do. I will go to Alana’s room.”
Selwyn gave a short nod, his heart aching for her decision. He moved from the room and turned the corner. He passed the king’s room and went to the next door. Adare was already standing in the doorway.
“She’s getting dressed,” he assured Selwyn. “She won’t be a m–”
“I’m here,” Lena said, appearing in the doorway. “What’s happening?”
“To the spare bedroom,” Selwyn ordered.
Adare did not question the captain. He simply gripped Lena’s arm and began leading her down the hall. There were many spare bedrooms in the castle, but adare knew what Selwyn was demanding. Lena looked confused, but like the docile princess she was she followed the orders of those who knew more than her.
Down the hall Rayne could hear the invaders coming up the stairs. She looked between her eldest and youngest daughter’s doors, one across from the other. For one moment she hesitated, not because she did not know who she was meant to retrieve first, and who she would, but because she was saying a silent goodbye to the one if she had no time.
Rayne turned to Alana’s door and pushed it open. Maynard had his sword to Rayne’s throat in a moment. He had been prepared. He lowered it as soon as he realized it was the queen and he bowed his head. “Apologies, your majesty.”
“It is fine,” she said. “To the spare room.”
Maynard nodded and gripped Alana’s arm. Rayne followed them out of the room but as she suspected time was already running short. Kinsey was in the hallway with Edric, the royal sword. He was ready to fight the warriors coming up the stairs and invading the hallway, but when he saw Rayne with Alana and Maynard and without Selwyn he realized what she was doing.
“Alana, back in your room!” Maynard cried, realizing it was too late at the first sight of the blond heads filling the hallway.
“Barbarians,” Alana had time to hiss before she was pushed into her room.
“Your majesty,” Maynard said, glancing back at her, “go into the room with Alana.”
“I can not,” she whispered and fled towards Oralee’s door. Oralee would be alone. Ethen had not taken up his duties yet. She was probably alone and scared and Rayne would not leave her youngest daughter to fend for herself.
Kinsey stopped her, grabbing her shoulder. “Where is Selwyn?”
“We don’t have time for this!” Rayne cried, the few knights in the hallways keeping the warriors at bay, but the quarters were cramped and even small injuries could prove detrimental.
The warriors broke through, men painted in red, but it was not an insurmountable amount of blood, it was the face paint of their people. They were backward, often referred to as barbarians by those in the kingdom, but they were strong and swift. The one in the lead grabbed a hold of Rayne’s arm and forced her to the floor. She screeched out in pain while he towered over her, raising his sword.
Kinsey stood, simply watching his wife get taken down. Then, like a true coward, he turned to run. Kinsey was headed off by warriors coming up the other set of stairs, closing in on the hallway. The knights had barely recovered from the drunken revelry they would have had that evening in celebration of defeat in the tournament. Even with fewer numbers the warriors had a better chance.
“Some king,” the man above Rayne hissed. He bent down and gazed at her for a moment and said, “Don’t worry, I have no need of shedding your blood. Stay down.”
The warrior stood and Rayne rolled out of his way. A woman followed him, tall in stature with hair that was shaved close to her head. She carried a staff and looked down at Rayne with a look of pure hatred. She kept moving, leaving Rayne to lay on her side. As long as they were more distracted by her laying there they would pass Alana and Oralee’s doors
Down the hall Selwyn and Adare were dragging Lena into a doorway that was hidden in the closet. Lena was fighting tooth and nail now, no longer the docile princess. “I won’t leave without them!”
“They will follow us shortly,” Adare told her. “There is just no reason for us to wait behind. We can open the door on the other side and be prepared for them.”
Lena stopped struggling, looking into Adare’s gray eyes. “Do you promise?”
Adare nodded his head. “I promise, your highness, that your sisters will not be far behind.”
Lena looked to Selwyn who had a cold face on, which was his usual look. She could read nothing from it. She turned to Adare and took his hand. He began running with her down the corridors that lead them under the castle and out to the other sides of the gate. It was a hidden passage that had not been used in their lifetime. It leaked and there were creatures that were unpleasant to find, but it would save their lives if they made it to the other side.
The rumbling that followed had Lena in a panic. She dug her heels into the floor beneath her and looked back. The light that had been offered was dying out. The doorway as closing.
“You lied to me!” Lena screeched. She turned to Adare and screamed at him at the top of her lungs. “You promised me they would be right behind! We can’t leave them!”
“I’m sorry, your highness,” Adare said, meaning every word. “It was the queen’s orders that you would be saved. If the castle is to be taken down, one must be there to take the throne.”
“That’s Alana!” Lena yelled, pounding on his chest with small fists. “I’m not supposed to take the throne.”
Adare reached for Lena’s body and pulled her up, throwing her unceremoniously over his shoulder. “I’m sorry, your highness.”
With Lena still screaming he took her down the passage, disappearing deeper into the darkness with her.
“What have you done?” Kinsey yelled as he stepped into the room, seeing the destroyed closet. Selwyn stood over it looking satisfied, a different look than his cold calculations.
“I saved the heir, you should be thanking me,” Selwyn said.
“You fool, we all could have lived.” Kinsey stepped further into the room, Edric raised and pointed at Selwyn’s neck. “You’ve condemened the rest of us.”
“Where’s your wife?” Selwyn asked calmly.
“She’s on her way.”
Selwyn knew a lie when he saw one. “Your majesty, you do not want to raise your sword to me. I will take you down. Where is Rayne?”
Warriors filled the hallway behind Kinsey and pushed through the door, finding the king, their true destination. They wrapped their arms around his limbs and dragged him down to his knees while Selwyn stood still, his sword still at his side, never having been drawn. The warriors looked to him and seemed to have no fight with someone with their weapon not drawn.
Oddly respectful of a race that they referred to as barbarians.
A big bulking man stepped through the door and glanced down at the king, a sneer on his face. “You took our leader from us. It’s only fair we leave your people without a leader as well.”
Selwyn blinked. “You must be mistaken,” the older knight said. “We have never-”
“I know when a war has been waged, old man,” the warrior spat.
Selwyn reached to his sword, his wrinkled fingers playing along the end. The warrior who seemed to be in charge gave him a look that clearly said he would regret pulling the sword. Selwyn felt that was true, if only because he was vastly outnumbered. No amount of sword skill would keep him alive cornered in this small room where the only opening had been taken out in order to save Lena and Adare.
The warrior, seeming satisfied that Selwyn needed the comfort of the sword opposed to the fight itself, glanced back down at the king who had submitted easily. “Not so strong yourself without others doing your dirty work. When all we wanted was a treaty you gave us death. Are you going to beg for your life or are you going to submit to death like a real man?”
“I will not beg, but you will not kill me.” Kinsey’s eyes fell to Selwyn, sure the knight would save his life.
Selwyn had no inclination to do so.
The warrior looked satisfied and raised his sword.
“Oralee!” the scream was clear enough through the commotion that all of those standing in the room turned to look out the door. Kinsey took this as an opportunity to pull free from his captors and reach for Edric. Ethen rushed into the room, driving his sword at the first of the warriors he saw. The group separated and divided and made the small room seem larger than it was. They were well oiled and worked together well, but they were not a match for Ethen and his rage. Ethen went at the warriors with blind rage, glancing through the room and taking three down to their knees.
“Ethen!” Selwyn cried, one of the warriors behind him. Ethen stopped swinging and the warrior slammed his fist into the man’s skull. Ethen fell to his knees and pulled his sword again. He rolled out of the way and to his feet, despite an obvious dizziness. He faced the warrior that was in charge, who sneered down at him.
“You were too ambitious.” He raised the sword and started to bring it down. Selwyn barely moved fast enough, taking the blow to his side instead of allowing Ethen to take it to his head.
Selwyn fell to his knees and said, “The princess, he only wants to protect his charge…”
The warrior stepped back and turned, finding the king charging down the hall, away from the warriors who clearly had the advantage. The man flipped blond hair over his shoulder with a roll of his eye and turned to a woman who stood in the hallway. “Tove, take him down.”
“Yes, sir,” she said. She pulled her bow up, an arrow already knotched, and released the arrow. The hallways, mostly empty, left a clear shot for her. The arrow found its mark and he went down.
“Seems an unfitting end to a king,” the warrior stated.
Down the hall Rayne, who had stayed pressed against the wall, watched her husband fall, an arrow sticking out of his skull. His eyes were glazing over, even as he searched around, wondering what happened. She held back a horrified scream while the warriors who kept knights down in the hallway seemed satisfied with the results. They leaned back on their heels and waited.
The lead warrior stepped out, dragging Ethen and Selwyn behind. He threw them both to the floor and laughed, “This seemed to be the best they had.”
“Selwyn!” Rayne could not keep her scream to herself this time. She rosed to her feet and found an arm to her throat, pinning her to the wall.
“Take her out,” the woman with the staff said. “Leave them without a king or queen. Leave the kingdom to their rotten daughters. It would be similar to how they left us that way.”
“The queen is no leader,” the man said.
The woman sneered and whispered for only his ears, “Do you want to look weak already?”
“I just brought a castle to its knees,” he snapped, pushing her back. “You can stop questioning my every move.” He stepped forward, leaving Selwyn to bleed and Ethen to stretch and try to lift. Ethen had fight left in him and two of the warriors were standing over him ready for him to make a mistake that would cost him his life.
The woman raised her staff high. “They took out our chieftain and three of our senior council. Yay or nay to allowing the queen to live?”
Hands went up, either with a full fist or with a pinky. She seemed satisfied as the fist outweighed the touch of pinkies in the sky. She glanced over at the warrior in charge, who turned his head and stared into Rayne’s eyes. Even with an arm at her throat she stood with her back straight and an accepting look on her face.
“I will make it quick,” he promised her.
The warrior holding her back pulled away and left her to stand, waiting for her death.
In her bedroom Alana was searching desperately for something to use as a weapon. Maynard had not returned and she had heard her mother scream Selwyn’s name. If the knight had fallen then she would not, could not, believe that Maynard had survived. If she was going to die she was going to go down with a fight.
She reached for the candelabra and tried to heft it into her hands. She never had tried to pick up the thick silver before and did not realize how heavy it was. This was the scene that the warrior walked in on as Alana was falling to her back, the candelabra falling beside her and a small fire catching to the curtain beside her. Alana rushed to pat out the fire and only a smoke trail was left.
The warrior crossed his arms and said, “I’ve found one of them.”
“I found another.” Oralee was thrown into the room beside Alana by a man who was bigger than the leader in every way. He was nearly a giant to the small girl and when he threw her she practically skidded.
“Saldis,” the leader called out, “where’s the third?”
Saldis came in shaking her head. “No one has seen her. I believe that room with the fallen in closet had an escape route. She’s hiding under the castle somewhere.”
“Send four men after them with orders not to kill her.”
“Are you sure?” Saldis asked. “We should destroy them all-”
“I know you are angry,” snapped the leader, “but we are not murderers. War and murdering is different. We do not kill an entire nation because they took out our leaders. There is a plan and we are sticking to it, do you understand me?”
Saldis bowed her head and turned to the hallway, searching for warriors. She gave them their marching orders while the leader stepped further into the room, crowding the two princesses. “It’ll be easier,” he told them, “if you tell me where the passage leads out to so we aren’t hunting down your sister. No more people need to get hurt.”
Alana’s blank expression must have told him something. He shook his head and said, “In due time, then.”
Her eyes roamed over his body and to the blood that stained the already red warrior paint. She grimaced and looked away, unaware that the blood on his hands was her mother’s. She pulled Oralee to her and they wrapped their arms around one another. Alana was glancing around for another weapon, wishing she had not been so quick to put out the fire.
“Wyborn?” a man asked from the door, a soft spoken man who stood tall despite an obvious quiet nature. The leader looked back at him before the man continued, “What should we do with the knights who are not injured?”
“There has to be a dungeon around here,” Wyborn suggested. “Throw them all into their own dungeon.”
“Shouldn’t we just leave?” the largest man suggested. “We’ve done what we came to.”
“I’ll say when I’ve decided we are leaving,” Wyborn growled, though his eyes stayed on Alana and Oralee. “And right now, we aren’t leaving yet.” He sent his men out of the room and slammed the door. Alana was smart enough to know there was someone on the outside making sure they stayed in.
“What just happened?” Oralee asked.
“I’m not sure,” Alana admitted, “but I think we’ve been invaded.”