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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Incasta Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Riku stood back from a slain opponent and took in the surroundings. Chaos roamed all around, steel clashing against steel as the Incastans fought valiantly against the Empire’s soldiers. And from the amount of enemies now pouring through the front gate, there were still plenty more Imperial troops left to be dealt with.

An Imperial soldier stepped forward, swinging hi blade in a mighty overhead arc towards the Duke, but Riku sidestepped this and brought his sword up, slicing a deep wound into the wrists of the soldier. As his sword fell to the ground in a clatter, Riku’s blade found its mark in the soldiers’ stomach.

Another came from behind, but Riku blocked his sword and stood back as two Incastan Guards struck him down at once.

“You must fall back My Lord,” One said before blocking the halberd of an Imperial. “The Princess and Duchess must be made secure.” Riku looked around the battlefield, then to the Viceroy Building. His eyes widened when he saw Nikz preparing to exit her room through a window, a rope made out any fabric they had in her hands.

“You two,” Riku yelled at two nearby Guards, who immediately came close to hear his orders. “Come with me, for we must get to the Viceroy building at all costs.”

“Yes, My Lord,” They said in unison before the three of them set forth, slaying any Imperial soldiers that dared to get in their way.

“Nikz, this doesn’t seem like a good idea,” Stone said cautiously as Nikz fastened her makeshift rope tightly around the doorhandles.

“We don’t have much choice Stone,” Nikz replied, even now considering Stone’s feelings despite the circumstances. “We don’t know how long Miles and the others will last. We must get out of this room, find Midnight and Riku and get out of this city before it falls any further.”

“But what about the archers,” Stone questioned again. “At least inside this room we know we are safe.”

“But we also know that in here we won’t be safe for long,” The Princess shot back, now moving towards the window. Cautiously, Nikz opened the window to see the courtyard below had become a field of death. Even though they were outnumbered, the Incastan Guards never once faltered.

Nikz took a deep breath and turned around; tugging the cloth to make sure it was firmly secured. Looking at Stone once more, pulling a smile that neither felt calmed by.

“I’ll yell for you once I’m on the ground,” Nikz explained, and Stone nodded worriedly as she positioned herself on the window ledge, then started walking backwards one step at a time.

The scene below her reminded her of a bad dream, but enhanced beyond anything she dared to imagine. The sound of steel striking steel was heard all around and the sky was turning grey as if it was saddened over the loss of life.

Nikz then dared to look out beyond the walls of Authos, and she nearly lost her grip on her cloth rope in shock before regaining it. There was still at least half of the Imperial army out there, still waiting for the chance to enter the fray.

“Nikz, look out,” Stone’s voice yelled from above, and Nikz moved her head just in time to dodge an arrow, which bounced off the wall beside her.

But another connected with her rope, tearing it asunder in an eye-blink.

“NIKZ,” Stone practically screamed as she watched Nikz fall, her long black hair trailing behind her.

Nikz turned herself around, seeing the stone courtyard approaching at a rapid rate. The wind roared past her ears, drowning out Stone’s cries of fear. Nikz herself was in a paralysed panic. Her heart beat fiercely, yet fear barred her from moving her body any further than an inch. All sounds around her – those of the battle below or otherwise – seemed to be dampened somehow, sounding fuzzy and indecipherable.

So,” Nikz thought as she closed her eyes, “This is where it ends?

But instead of impacting into the ground, someone caught her, causing them both to roll forward, Nikz resting on-top of her saviour. Opening her emerald coloured eyes, Nikz saw Riku’s weary form lying beneath her.

“Riku,” she said, quickly getting off of him. “Are you okay?”

“Sure,” He moaned, propping himself onto his elbows, but wincing as he moved his left shoulder. “Catching falling Princesses is great for my health.”

“You don’t have to be rude about it,” Nikz said, pouting before seeing one of the soldiers who accompanied Riku struck down by an Imperial solder. Before she could react, Riku was on his feet and slit the Imperial’s throat, letting him fall limply to the ground.

“Come on Nikz,” Riku said, offering her his hand. “We need to get you safe. I have sent reinforcements inside to evacuate Stone. We’ll move further into the city and then I’ll have you two sent back to Astraea. I’ll stay behind to organise the defence of the city.”

“Oh no you don’t,” Nikz countered as he led her away from the gates of the wall, defeating anyone that dare cross them, “I’m not leaving this city unless we all leave. That means you, me, Stone and Midnight.”

“Nikz, now is not the best time for this argument.”

“Commander of Incasta,” An accented voice shouted out, forcing Riku and Nikz to stop in the alleyway they had escaped into at see their assailant.

He wore less armour than his fellow Imperials; nothing more than wrist and shin guards and black shoulder armour trimmed in gold. A brown cloak that ended in tatters hung down to his ankles and medals hung on his dark red shirt displayed him as a man of high military rank.

He had a head of black hair, a large scar trickling down the left side of his face like a river system. The tired stare of his dull brown eyes and the age lines underneath them told Riku this man had seen many a battle.

“You can speak our tongue?” Riku asked, turning to the stranger, sword at the ready.

“Yes,” The soldier replied, drawing his sword before holding it to his side. “All leaders of the Imperial army must know the languages of other nations for meetings like this. I am Mirco Krzysztof, Commander of the seventh division of the Imperial army.”

“Seventh division,” Nikz asked in astonishment. Riku’s eyes widened in surprise to this as well; seeing that massive army, only to find out that was one seventh of the Empire’s military strength, was mind-boggling.

“I am Duke Riku,” He said in response, taking a battle stance while trying to ignore the pain from catching Nikz, “Minister of Defence for Incasta. I assume you wish to kill us?”

“I am not my army,” Commander Krzysztof said, taking a step forward. “I would never harm a lady. You, an armed opponent on the battlefields of war, on the other hand...”

Riku barely had enough time to block the Commanders’ strike before being kicked in the stomach and punched in the face, sending Riku down to the ground. The Duke rolled out of the way of Krzysztof’s sword, rose to one knee before swinging hard.

The Imperial Commander blocked Riku’s slash as the Duke stood up, but forced the blocked blade up before slicing Riku’s right wrist.

Riku yelled in pain as he dropped his sword and fell to one knee, clutching his wrist which now bled furiously. The earlier injury to his shoulder now faded to a numbing ache compared to this new pain.

“Riku,” Nikz, shouted, instantly rushing to his side.

“Nikz,” Riku said through gritted teeth, “Run, safe yourself.”

“I already told you,” She said, smiling at his stubbornness, “I am not leaving this city without all of my family.”

“A noble sentiment,” Krzysztof said, now standing before the two, Riku’s blood dripping off the edge of his sword. “But, my lady, I must ask you to move aside.”

The trademark determined look returned across Nikz’s face as she stood up in-between Riku and the Commander, arms outstretched.

“I am Nikz, Princess of Incasta,” She proclaimed defiantly. “And if you want him, you must go through me first.”

Krzysztof scowled at her, indecision clearly rolling around behind those weary eyes of his.

Narednik,” A rough voice called out, and all eyes turned to the entrance of another alleyway.

There, beside an Imperial soldier and two young commoners, stood Midnight.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Incasta Chapter 14

Chapter 14

“Why couldn’t I go with them?” Shards complained as she slouched in her personal armchair, the red fabric feeling comfortable as ever.

“Because,” Romeo began from the couch nearest the fireplace, reading the newspaper. “Like Riku said, the fringes of a warzone is no place for a young lady such as you.”

“Oh don’t start Romeo,” Shards sighed, looking away to the kitchen, watching Strawberries cleaning up after making snacks. “Besides,” she went on, “If that’s the case, then why did Nikz and Midnight get to go?”

“Because Midnight went to act as a translator,” Abigail said as she entered, giving a wave to Straw before standing beside Romeo’s couch. “And Nikz went to make sure Midnight is looked after when Riku isn’t there.”

Shards thought of launching another question as to aid her cause, but knowing it was futile, sigh instead, muttering “Whatever.”

“So,” Abigail went on, now talking to Romeo, “How are you feeling today?”

“Alright,” He replied, looking up at her with a smile. “At least Ales hasn’t done anything to rouse me yet.”

“Don’t worry,” Abigail said, placing a hand on his shoulder. “We can hold our own in a verbal exchange with him. Just don’t let him get under your skin and you’ll be fine.” Romeo shook his head, the smile still stretched across his face.

“Sometimes,” He said, looking Abigail in the eye. “I think about how lucky I am to have you as a future spouse.”

“That’s right,” Abi replied, leaning down so their faces were close. “And don’t you forget it.”

“Never planned to,” Romeo said before the two kissed.

Shards stood up from her armchair, a finger pointing to her open mouth. She headed for the doors, avoiding the public display of affection.

“Not one for romantic moments, Shards?” Strawberries asked from the kitchen, a smile on her face.

“No,” Shards replied, waving as she walked off. “I just need some fresh air. I’ll see you three later.”

With that, the young Duchess began walking the length of each hallway, bored and thinking on what she could do. She had already had a training session earlier that morning, so that was out of the question, and without Nikz to fool around with and the others busy with their own activities – or each other – Shards had no one to relax with.

As she ascended the staircase towards the bedrooms however, something outside the window caught Shards’ eye. Standing closer to the glass, Shards peered down at the view, looking over the northern side of town. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until Shards glanced at the Palace walls.

Angel was lying prone on the wall.

Fear and confusion quickly spread throughout Shards’ petite body, her heart rate accelerating. She quickly started back down the steps, descending two at a time. As she jumped down to the foot of the stairs, Shards motioned for two patrolling guards to follow her at once.

Palace attendants quickly made way for her, confusion written clearly on their faces. Shards quickly thought up of every conceivable reason for Angel to be in the position she was in, but not one made any sense.

Shards and the guards halted at the door leading onto the wall, the young Duchess turning to face them.

“You,” She said sharply, pointing at the one standing to her left.

“Yes My Lady,” He replied, standing at the ready.

“Head to the Garrison and fetch Captain Arthur, and tell him to bring my personal item.”

The guard bowed from the waist and began running back the way they came. Shards then turned to the remaining guard, awaiting his orders.

“You’re with me,” Shards said, and the guard nodded in reply before they began running on the wall. Shards did not allow herself to get distracted by the beautiful day that was on display all around them. Only one thing ran through Shards’ mind at that moment; to see if Angel was okay.

After a few minutes running, they finally reached the Lady, unchanged from when Shards first noticed her. Shards fell to her knees beside Angel, concern overwriting any other emotion that could form on her face.

“Angel,” She cried as the guard knelt down on Angel’s other side to see if she was okay.

“She is unharmed, My Lady,” He replied, sending a minute feeling of relief throughout Shards’ being. “She has just been tranquilized. It will take some time for it to wear off.”

Shards breathed a sigh of relief, looking down at Angel’s unconscious form. “At least she’s alive,” She thought.

“What’s happening there?” The guard asked, staring towards the northern gate. Shards stood and turned, trying to see what the guard had pointed out. Once she spotted it, her eyes went as wide as they could and her mouth slowly opened in shock.

Ales was returning to the Palace, with a knife at Lydia’s throat.

Her teeth and fists clenched, Shards emotions morphed from shock to nothing but pure, unadulterated rage. She turned on her heel and began running back to the Palace.

“My Lady,” The guard called out, still cradling Angel.

“Attend to her,” Shards ordered without looking back, seeing Arthur waiting at the Palace entryway. He saw her features set in a furious mask, and stood aside, holding her sword outstretched. She caught it as she blitzed past, focus set on extracting an explanation from Ales, by any means necessary.

Tired from the run, Shards finally reached the northern entrance hall, and saw both Ales and Lydia staring at her.

“Ales,” Shards panted, her breath ragged from her run. “What are, huff, you, huff, doing?”

“The question should be what are you doing holding that?” Ales replied, his face impassive as he pointed at Shards’ sword,

“You, huff, should have an idea.” Shards, glared at the Prince as she drew her blade, Lydia’s eyes widening at the suggestion.

“Ha ha,” Ales laughed. “You really think you can use that against me?”

“Run Shards,” Lydia cried out. “Don’t worry about me-” Her pleas were cut short by Ales tightening his hold around her neck.

“Don’t give her ideas, Lydia,” Ales whispered in her ear.

“Ales,” Shards said, taking her combat stance, “If you have any shred of honour left, you will fight me in a duel.”

“What,” Lydia said incredulously.

“What would the stakes be?” Ales asked.

“If I win,” Shards continued, “You will release Lydia and peacefully march yourself down to the gaol in the Garrison.”

“Very well,” Ales replied, a familiar smirk on his face. “But if I win, you take Lydia’s place.”

The stake Ales placed confused Shards for a second, but she let it recede to the farther recesses of her mind for now, nodding in agreement.

Ales flung Lydia to the floor like a doll before throwing the knife at the Duchess. Shards ducked, falling forward onto the floor. When she looked up, she saw Ales drawing his sword, a murderous look in his eye and a now psychotic smile on his face.

Shards rolled to her right just in time to dodge a stab before rising to one knee and slashing upwards. Ales sidestepped this easily, bringing his right arm around in a wide arc as he slashed wildly at her. Shards blocked this but then Ales grabbed her right wrist and squeezed hard, pulling the hand away and with it her sword.

Shards winced in pain, but saw the opportunity and landed a resounding punch to Ales’ cheek. Ales let go and staggered back a step, his hand resting over his cheek. It still stung as he pulled his hand away, but instead of grimacing, he smiled even harder.

“Looks like you’ll give me a good fight after all Shards,” He said, now eyeing the Duchess as she took a defensive stance. “You have no idea how happy that makes me!”

Ales began swinging his sword wildly again, but every strike was block by Shards. Shards noticed Lydia was now protected by at least three guards and Arthur was readying his sword. But she shook her head at him before blocking another attack, silently telling him this was her fight and her fight alone.

After one more resounding strike was blocked, Ales kept the pressure on Shards’ sword, testing her strength.

“Is that all you’ve got?” He roared in delight. Shards spun around Ales, spinning as she swung her sword with all her might.

But Ales placed his sword across his back, blocking her attack. Shards gasped.

“You really think I don’t recognise Riku’s technique when I see it?” Ales asked as he knocked back Shards’ blade, spun on his heel to deliver a backhanded fist to Shards’ cheek before kicking her to the ground.

“Looks like he hasn’t taught you enough to challenge me yet,” Ales mused as he approached Shards, one hand clutching her sword while the other pressed against her left cheek.

Shards tried to slash at him from the ground, but Ales deflected the attack and kicked the handle out of her hands. Shards tried to reach for it, but Ales had his blade at her throat.

“Looks like I win,” Ales stated with that twisted smile on his face starting to morph back into its common scowl.

“You will come with me. Do anything else and you die.”

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Incasta Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Tobias led Ginny and Midnight onto the roof of the hideout, and the three witnessed smoke starting to rise from the north. Midnight gasped involuntarily at the sight, witnessing the signs of war for the first time.

“Riku, Nikz, Stone,” She murmured to herself, silently praying that they were alright.

“We’ve got to head for the Viceroy building,” Ginny stated, noticing the sad look in Midnights’ brown eyes.

“Are you crazy?” Jake said, joining the three on the roof. “You want to run towards the enemy army? You’ll get killed.”

“We need to know if our family is alright,” Ginny shot back. “How would you feel if it was your family stationed up there?”

Jake fell silent, but gave a pleading look to Tobias to try and convince them otherwise. Tobias just shook his head, conjuring a plan.

“Toby, please,” Ginny asked, clasping her hands together as she begged him. Tobias looked at her in the eye, and then he looked at Midnight, who also looked pleadingly at him.

“Very well,” He finally sighed, turning back to Jake. “Jake, I need you to take the guys and get the hell out of the city. Follow the evacuation orders from the soldiers. Just make sure everyone gets out of here safe. I’ll take the girls to the Viceroy building.”

Jake was about to respond, but after seeing the look in Tobias’ eyes he silently nodded and ran back downstairs.

“Thanks Toby,” Ginny said, and with a nod from the boy, the three began moving quickly along the rooftop paths that had been laid out long ago.

As they moved, Midnight noticed citizens running in the opposite direction. There were burly business owners, families huddling together and children all by themselves. It saddened her inside, seeing the commoners in such a panicked state.

“They’ll be okay Midnight,” Ginny said, noticing the look upon her sisters’ face.

As they advanced, Tobias slid down a ladder to secure the way for the Princesses. Once all three were down, they got onto the main street and continued running, gaining some strange looks from fleeing citizens. They left the main street and turned into another alleyway, quickly advancing further.

Midnight fell to her knees, exhausted from the run. Ginny turned to see what was wrong before rushing back to her sister’s side.

“Midnight,” She said worriedly, “Are you alright?”

“Yes,” Midnight panted. “I’ve just never had to... run this far before.”

“Well,” Ginny replied, a smile playing on her face, “You never have to run in the Palace like this, do you?” Midnight smiled and nodded before Ginny helped her to her feet. Tobias stood there silently, waiting for the two to catch up. Ginny looked back at him whilst still smiling.

But that happy face rapidly morphed into one of horror when she looked behind Tobias.

“Toby, look out!”

Tobias only just Ginny’s cry before being struck from behind, the slash of a sword carrying creating an arch using his blood.

“TOBY,” Ginny screamed as she rushed to him on the ground. The slash wasn’t too deep, but would still require treatment.

As Ginny looked at the perpetrator, her face whitened to see the black and gold armour of an Imperial soldier, holding his sword at the ready.

But as he took one step forward, Midnight stood between him and Ginny, arms outstretched, an unusual look of determination on her face.

Ugoditi cepljenje,” She spoke in Imperial tongue, pleading him to stop.

“Where is he?” Nikz asked nervously as she and Stone overlooked the chaos that was transpiring below them.

Although the Incastan Guard had produced a valiant defence, the weight of numbers was too much to fend off for long and the Imperial army had breached the wall, whether by the shattered gate of siege ladders, and was now engaged in close combat with the defenders.

“I’m sure Riku’s fine,” Stone said comfortingly, but she was unable to believe the words herself. The Duke was somewhere down there, fighting alongside all of his countrymen.

“Excuse me,” A voice spoke from behind them, and the two turned to find a bandaged Miles standing in military uniform. Though his left arm was in a sling, he was prepared to fight and die for them, as were all the soldiers fighting below.

“Yes Miles?” Stone replied, waiting for this new snippet of information.

“We’ve successfully evacuated more than half of the city to outside the southern wall.

“And what about Midnight,” Nikz asked.

“We haven’t found her yet,” He replied solemnly, “But we are still searching. There’s every possibility that she is safe and will be found at the southern gate.”

Miles’ face then became more serious. “But if I should make a suggestion, you two should also be evacuated. The soldiers of the Empire have broken into the city and it’s not safe here. It’s only a matter of time before they break into the Viceroy building and begin their slaughter in here.”

“But we cannot leave Riku down there,” Nikz argued back, “And I am not leaving this city until Midnight is back by my side.”

“Nikz,” Stone said, placing a hand on Nikz’s shoulder. “We have to think rationally in times like this.”

“I am not leaving without her,” Nikz stated again, her determined nature on display.

A crash from outside brought Nikz and Stone’s attention back to the battle, boulders once again flying into the area behind the wall, crushing friend and foe alike under stone.

Nikz eyes widened as she witnessed Riku, no less than a few feet from a freshly fallen lump of rock, fighting for his life within the madness.

“There he is,” She nearly shouted, pressing against the glass as she pointed below. Stone looked a little before spotting him.

A crash sounded from the halls outside before shouting was heard. Miles quickly went to the railing of the upper floor they were on to see what was causing the commotion, Nikz and Stone following close behind.

“Oh no,” Miles murmured to himself, as Imperial soldiers started flooding inside the building.

“What do we do?” Stone asked, her nervousness starting to surface.

“You have to stay in here,” Miles said, having two other soldiers guide Nikz and Stone back inside the room. “Block the door while we hold them off.”

“Miles wait,” Stone said, but the doors were already closed, and though Nikz tried to open the door again, it appeared to already be blocked from the other side.

“What do we do?” Stone asked again, clearly unsettled by this whole situation.

Nikz thought quickly, trying to keep her mind off the battles being waged all her. Her eyes rested on the couches she sat on just hours ago before the negotiations.

“Stone,” Nikz said, “Help me move this.”

Stone looked to the couch before understanding took hold, as the two girls pushed the couch to block the doors. But as they finished doing so, a cry of pain could be heard from the other side.

“Damn it,” Nikz said out loud. “Stone, we need to get out of here.”

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Incasta Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Stones crumbled and soil flew as the wall of the Viceroy building came under fire from the Empire’s catapults. Another boulder came dangerously close to the building, crushing three men partially under its weight.

“Hold your ranks,” Riku shouted at his men, hoping to convince both his soldiers and himself that they could do this.

Riku turned to a soldier standing to his left. “Have the catapults ready to fire on my mark.” He then turned to the men standing on the wall with him and those standing behind it. “Archers, get ready!”

As they all notched arrows into place, Riku looked back out at the enemy army. After a few minutes, the catapults stopped firing. All was silent on the battlefield before the forward section of soldiers shouted a battle cry at the behest of a commander.

Then they charged.

“Take aim,” Riku yelled, and all archers stood at the ready, bows drawn. The soldiers behind the wall aimed upwards, leaving the probability of hitting an opponent up to chance.

Riku waited, spying the catapults now raised and being readied to fire. He raised his arm, watching roughly one third of the enemy force charge towards them.

“FIRE,” Riku bellowed, and all archers on the wall unleashed their arrows, cutting down a great score of soldiers. Then the soldiers behind the wall fired, and it was as if the sky had replaced rainwater with arrows, as they embedded themselves into more Imperials.

“Catapults,” Riku shouted, “You may fire at will.”

The boulders placed the Incastan catapults were put to a torch, lighting the oil poured onto them before being flung towards the Empire. Some of the boulders landed on top of advancing soldiers, burning them alive or crushing them outright, while others managed to hit those soldiers that were holding back. One even managed to smash a Imperial catapult to smouldering smithereens.

But for all of Incasta’s firepower, the Empire pressed on.

“Fire at will,” Riku shouted at the archers, and a steady stream of arrows now flew over the wall. But even so, there were still at least seven hundred soldiers advancing towards the wall.

“Where are Nikz and Stone,” Riku asked a nearby soldier, moving away from the wall for a moment.

“They are both still in the waiting room, watching the battle My Lord,” the soldier replied.

“Have them remain there and organise the evacuation of the city at once,” Riku replied, turning back to the battle.

But the Duke’s eyes went wide once they saw the battering ram approaching the gates, and the siege ladders being carried forward.

Riku scowled, grabbing a bow and taking an arrow from a soldiers stock. Riku notched up the arrow, taking aim at one of the forbearers of the ram. But an enemy arrow grazed his right elbow, forcing Riku to fire early and off target, hitting a random soldier in the shoulder.

“My Lord, are you alright,” Asked a soldier as he and another pulled Riku out of the line of fire, shielding him with their bodies.

“I’m fine,” Riku muttered, shoving the soldiers off of him. “Everyone prepare for close range combat!”

As the soldiers behind the wall drew their swords, Riku glared at the battering ram.

“It’s times like this I wish Lydia was here,” The Duke thought.

“Are you sure you wish to do this,” Lydia asked as she and Ales accompanied Terrya towards the northern gate of the Palace. Ales was still in military uniform while Lydia was in a navy blue gown with silver trimmings.

“Yes Lydia,” Terrya replied, wearing a midnight blue gown with a common cloak draped over her in order to make her look more of a common-place traveller. “If there is a chance he is there, then I must take it.”

“The information I received was not completely accurate,” Ales stated, seeming to sympathise with Lydia. “There’s a large probability that you won’t find him.” Terrya stopped, turning to face Ales with the same sad yet composed face she had worn for the past three years. Her empty gaze intimidated even him, the Prince of Wrath.

“I understand that it is only a small chance,” The Queen spoke, “But even so, I need to find him, if at least to find some form of closure.”

Ales nodded in understanding. “My apologies, Your Majesty,” He said then turning to face the gate watchmen. “Open the gates.”

As the large wooden gates slowly opened, the three could see a carriage with four accompanying horsemen now slowing before the gate.

“Your Majesty,” The lead horseman began. “I am Alfred; we shall escort you to your intended target.”

“You have my thanks,” Terrya replied, showing them her well worn smile.

Terrya then turned to Ales and Lydia, the Princes’ face impassive while the Lady’s full of concern. Lydia quickly came in for a hug, which Terrya slowly replied to in kind.

“Be safe Terrya,” Lydia whispered, trying hard to keep her emotions in check.

“You too,” Terrya replied. When they broke away from each other, Ales gave a short bow and she nodded to this before heading for the carriage.

Once she was inside, Ales came up to Alfred to say something. When Alfred bent down in his saddle, Ales grabbed his shoulder to get the horseman’s attention.

“She is of great importance to me and my family,” Ales whispered in a deathly tone, speaking of Terrya. “Should you and your men allow any harm to her, I will have your heads, understood?”

Alfred’s face showed his fear of Ales’ threat, but he nodded, and in an instant, the cavalcade was off, Terrya’s hand waving from out of the window.

“Do you think she will be okay,” Lydia asked, worriedly looking on at the disappearing carriage.

“She will be,” Ales replied, a small smile starting to form on his face. “At least she won’t be here.” Lydia looked at him, confused by this.

“What do you mean, Ales?”

“Lydia! Ales,” A voice cried out from behind them, and the two looked back to see Katherine moving quickly towards them, concern written on her face.

“What are you two doing? Where is Terrya?”

“She’s gone on a trip to Allisia,” Ales replied bluntly, with no real emotion in particular.

“What,” Katherine nearly shouted, trying her hardest to maintain her composure as commoners were watching from a distance. “What do you mean she’s gone to Allisia?”

“Katherine,” Lydia began, trying to calm the Queen down, “If you could calm down, we can explain-”

Lydia was unable to finish her sentence as Ales brought an arm tightly around her throat, and placed a dagger at her side. Some gasps from afar were heard as the eyes of both Katherine and Lydia widened in shock and fear.

“What are you doing Ales,” Katherine asked, extending a hand to stop the Prince. But he tightened his grip around Lydia’s throat and lightly pressed the dagger towards her side.

“Try anything and Lydia dies.”

Incasta Chapter 11

Chapter 11

“You’re sure you’re okay?” Ginny asked as she and Midnight sat in the main room of the hideout, with Tobias, Jake and a few others standing off to one side. Midnight sat on a wooden crate that rested next to an old, dusty couch in the corner of the room, and a rug fraying at the edges lay on the floor in the centre of the room.

“Yes, Ginny,” Midnight said, looking kindly at her sister. “I’m fine now.”

“So... wait a minute.” Jake interrupted. “Ginny, since when have you known royalty?”

“That’s none of your concern,” Tobias swiftly came in, standing after leaning on the wall. “These two want some privacy, so all of you get going.”

There was a common groan and complaints, but once they looked eye to eye with Tobias and Ginny, they all accepted it and walked off, Tobias joining them to leave the two Princesses alone.

“Who are they,” Midnight asked as she turned back to Ginny, who was smiling being together with her again.

“They’re a street gang,” Ginny replied, resting her hands behind her head. “They’re not bandits or anything like that. We just look after this place and make sure no real criminals cause any problems.”

“But isn’t that the responsibility of the City Guards?”

Ginny sighed. “Midnight,” She said. “Most of the time, the Guard don’t patrol down this far. There is a rare occasion when they have to, like when you and Nikz arrived, but other times, it’s only people like us that help people feel safe.”

Midnight’s gaze was locked towards Ginny, shock registering on her face as the information filtered through.

“But,” She mumbled, “There was never that problem in Astraea.”

“That’s because Astraea hosts the Palace,” Ginny continued, careful to keep her emotions in check as she placed a hand on Midnight’s shoulder. “We don’t get the same luxury out here because Stone’s the Viceroy. If it was someone like Nikz or Abi in charge, then it might be different.”

Midnight looked down, feeling stupid about her naivety. Ginny noticed this, and came in for a hug.

“I’m sorry for leaving like I did,” she apologised, “But I didn’t want to be nothing more than a pampered figurehead. I wanted to see what it was like to be normal, to live life without the constraints and protocols of being a Princess.

“But I’ve also missed each and every one of you back at the Palace... you and Shards especially.”

“So have I,” Midnight said, feeling tears welling up as she returned the hug, the silence of the moment hanging in the air. When Ginny pulled back, both Princesses wore tearful smiles.

“So,” Midnight said, trying to change the topic, “Who is the leader?”

“Oh, that’s Tobias, but I call him Toby,” Ginny explained. “He’s the leader of the gang, and he’s really cool. He’s kind, responsible and his father even let me stay with them. He’s... also the only one I’ve told that I’m royalty.”

Midnight’s smile widened a little, her posture easing. “You like him, don’t you?” She asked.

“W-What,” Ginny stuttered, her face quickly going a shade of red.

“Just because you have been gone for a few years, doesn’t mean I still can’t tell when you like someone Ginny. At least that part of you has not changed.”

“Hey,” Ginny wagged a finger at her sister. “Just because he’s a boy and he’s a friend, does not mean that he and I are in love.”

“Oh really,” Midnight replied cheekily. “Then why do speak of him so passionately?”

Ginny opened her mouth to argue her point, but realised doing so would give Midnight more reason to tease her. Instead, Ginny pouted and turned away, causing Midnight to laugh. And even though she was trying to be mad, Ginny couldn’t help but let a smile cross her face as well.

But that was when a loud horn broke the calm atmosphere of the room.

“What was that,” Midnight asked, but Ginny shook her head.

“I don’t know,” She replied. “I’ve never heard that horn before.” As the horn sounded a second time, Tobias rushed into the room, his face wearing a feature Ginny rarely saw; fear.

“Ginny, Your Highness,” He said quickly, the tone of his voice scaring Ginny. “We’ve got to move, now!”

“Why,” Ginny asked, wondering what could be so drastic to have Tobias concerned. She turned to Midnight, whose hands covered her mouth while her eyes were wide with shock.

“The border dispute,” She murmured, before a loud crash echoed throughout the city.

Angel stood on the high Palace walls, letting the wind toss her long blonde hair about. She looked to the north, past the edges of Astraea and out to the horizon, her thoughts on how Riku, Nikz and Midnight were doing.

“It’s not often to see you out here, I’d bet.” A familiar voice spoke out. Angel turned to see Ales standing nearby, and in his personal military uniform.

Always one to stand out in a crowd, Ales’ uniform consisted of a dark red trench coat with the sleeves torn off, a long sleeve black shirt – of which the top two buttons were undone – and dark pants. He also wore black combat boots and armoured wrist guards, upon which intricate lines circled and flowed.

“Maybe I like to look out at the capital,” Angel replied, looking back out beyond the wall.

“Suit yourself,” Ales said nonchalantly, resting his arms against the wall itself as he joined Angel in gazing out beyond.

“You’re worried about them, aren’t you?” Ales asked after a minute of silence. Angel was surprised, but regained her composure quickly.

“Yes, though I’m certain you aren’t, are you?” She said with an accusatory tone.

“Oh here we go,” Ales moaned. “I’ve got enough problems with Romeo watching me like a hawk. Stop treating me like an enemy already.”

“We will once you stop giving us reason to,” Angel replied quickly. “I can only hope you have apologised to Straw for what you said.”

“I did apologise,” the Prince replied, his emotions starting to get the better of him. “I wrote her a note saying so.”

“Funny,” Angel said sarcastically. “Straw never mentioned it to me.”

“Well... I delivered it by shooting it onto her windowsill with an arrow.”

“And you think she’s going to notice it there?”

“Just leave me alone,” Ales shouted, turning to face the city, but away from Angel. He let out a drawn out sigh before falling silent.

“Ales,” Angel said, her tone a little less acidic. “We do care about you, but we all think it’s time you grew up. If you were to slow down and relax a little, then maybe you wouldn’t see the need to cause fights and mayhem.”

She paused, hoping to see if he would react, but Ales remained turned away. Sighing, she placed a hand on his shoulder.

Finally reacting, he gently took her hand in his before turning to face her, a sombre face staring back at her.

“You really think everyone else would believe me,” Ales asked, “even if I did change?”

“If you do wish to genuinely change, then I have no doubt you would have the family’s support, even that of Riku and Romeo.”

A small smile stretched across Ales’ face, and Angel replied in kind.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Ales admitted. “Those two will take the most convincing.”

“True,” Angel laughed softly, before something caught her eye.

Far out on the horizon, a small blur was starting to inch closer towards Astraea.

“Well, that’s a shame,” Ales muttered out loud. “We’d just made a connection and now my plans have to ruin it.”

“What plans-” Angel asked, but was interrupted by Ales’ fist colliding with her stomach.

Shock mixed with pain as the two flowed through Angel’s body. Her eyes froze in a wide state as she was eased to the ground by Ales, shushing her like a young child.

“It’s a tranquilliser,” Ales explained, revealing a green-tipped needle extending from his right wrist guard. “The effects should wear off in about half an hour.”

Ales stood up, looking towards the horsemen that were fast approaching the city limits.

“W-Why,” Angel was barely able to say before the tranquilliser took effect.

“Because Terrya’s plans will greatly accelerate my own,” Ales said, looking down at her. “I feel this is the best path for all of us.” Ales’ face held no specific emotion as he bowed before turning away.

“Farewell Angel. I can only pray you aren’t harmed in what is to come.”