“Captain MacDonell stand down,” the other man yelled, obviously used to having his orders obeyed. He pulled out his sword.
“No. I’ve done terrible things for the Empire but not anymore. General Lanthier, we were friends once. Don’t do this.” The handsome man brandished his sword.
The rest of the guards seemed to symbolically move to one side or the other. All the ones in armour followed the General and all the ones in the comfortable looking uniforms followed the Captain.
“You’re a fool Mac, these animals don’t deserve your pity. You know I’m a better fighter than you are, you’ll die for nothing.”
The handsome man turned and looked directly at her and winked. He shouldn’t be able to see through her illusion but somehow he did. “I won’t die here.” He pulled a strange curved cylinder from a holster in his hip and something shot out of it, knocking the other man down.
Taika took her opportunity and dropped the invisibility. “Go and protect the children,” she ordered four legion. “The rest of you. Let’s help this man out.”
Two of the armoured men dragged the General into the gate. The remaining and some of the unarmoured soldiers attacked Taika and her group. With the help of the turncoats, the ensuing battle was over quickly. When they’d caught their breaths the handsome man called Mac said, “Thank you and I’m sorry for all this.”
“A blessing on you and your family,” Taika said as she bowed at the man.
“Thanks. I guess.” He turned to the surviving soldiers. “Alright. Let’s get the hell out of here before these people close the gate.”
“I’m going with you,” Aleenia said. The man only responded by nodding. They grouped together and at the last moment before walking into the gate they turned and waved.
“Good luck,” whispered Taika before she shouted, “Ok Julien, get those people and yourself to the outskirts.” She pointed at the children and Legion.
The group huddled up and Julien motioned to her. When she was close enough he asked, “You sure you remember how to shut this thing down?”
“Of course I do-” she didn’t get a chance to reply before he teleported her and the others away from the gate.
Still connected with the communication spell she said, “Damnit Julien. I’m teleporting back.”
“No you’re not. You’re twenty three years old and one of the brightest battlemages I’ve ever met. I’m a hundred years older than you. If anyone is going to foolishly martyr themselves, it’s me.”
“But I’m in command…” she said lamely. She and the others were now inside the battlemage headquarters. Stepping outside into the training field where she’d spent so much time with Julien and the others she forced back the tears. The sun was setting on the giant wall in front of her.
“Yes, you are and that’s where you’ll stay. I’ve shut the gate down and I’m activating the volcano. On my mark.” The quiet seemed to stretch forever and Taika wanted to say something but couldn’t think of the words. What felt like years but was only seconds ended with Julien saying, “Now!”
“Thank you!” she said as she activated her side of the shield. The entirety of the inside of the wall started to glow a peaceful blue.
The shield held in the ash and magma but force shook the entire continent; no one was immune to the devastation. When everything was done there was a giant dome of volcanic stone where there was once a wall.
Taika had to spend time in the hospital; even with the excess of ambient magical energy in the capital, she almost killed herself keeping the shield up. When she heard that the remaining battlemages had not only saved the army and Panos warband, but helped evacuate the rest of the Panos and nomads from inside the wall, she was extra proud of her people.
She was lying in a hospital bed, trying to decide the best way to escape when her brother, the King, walked in. “You saved a lot of people.”
“Julien saved them. I just helped. We also lost a lot.” She wasn’t sure if she should add your majesty but decided not to.
“The other nations are agreeing to a new treaty. We’re going to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
“But the gate-”
The king cut her off, “Is still under there. Our magical scholars say there’s no way to destroy it.”
“Then I need to get out of here and start re-building the battlemages.” She started to get up and fell back into bed.
“There’s time for that, sister. Right now you need to rest. In a weeks’ time you can go back to re-building the battlemages. General Taika.” He turned to leave. “When you get better I need you to help Addison create wards and a rotating battlemage guard unit for the catacombs.”
“The invaders sent a small force and managed to steal Father, Mother, and two other Crystals.” His mouth was tight and he was obviously angry. “I spoke to a seer with the Panos and he said that the crystals are no longer here but through the gate.”
“If the gate isn’t destroyed I can go after them.” She knew she couldn’t. They didn’t know how to target the gate. It could go to any other world attached to the great tree.
“We’ll get them back. I’ll make sure if it.” There was a darkness in the king’s words, but she was too tired to ask him anything further.
If you liked this, why not read more stories set in The Tree of Worlds: