Chapter 24: Epilogue
The Kingdom of Temra had not been a particularly friendly place in decades, but ever since the lost battle against Kells' forces and the theft of the queen's most powerful artefacts, most of the land had been all but abandoned by the soldiers, allowing thieves and bandits to lay claim to the villages. Only the border to Kells, which had been relocated to its former position, and the royal castle were still heavily guarded. In fact, even more so than usual, to make sure that the kingdom was safe from its neighbouring enemies, even in this weakened state.
The castle itself was completely locked off, a small army stationed outside to protect it, granting not even Temra's own citizens entrance. Many had already voiced their complaints, demanding that the soldiers resumed their patrols in the villages, but their queen would not hear them, having severed all connections to the outside world.
Instead, Queen Maeve remained inside the throne room of the castle where she was busy sifting through countless scrolls and parchments that were strewn across the table that had been moved into the centre of the floor. Dust-covered wooden crates full of books and baskets filled with ancient manuscripts were standing all across the room, waiting to be examined by the queen.
She wasn't even sure what exactly she was searching for, just something – anything – that would help her against Kells and the Mystic Knights.
Without the rune stone and her sceptre Maeve was almost powerless, only a faint residue of the magic she had once been able to command still under her control. Without Mider's help there was no hope of getting it back anytime soon, either. So the queen had started to look through the castle's archive, searching every text for even the most obscure hints to a solution for her problem.
She would make them pay, she had to. Nobody could be allowed to defy the Queen of Temra like this and live to tell of it. This war wasn't just about reclaiming her birthright anymore; it had turned into a personal battle between her and the Mystic Knights. One that she wasn't prepared to lose, even though the odds had turned against her for now.
After her most recent setback, she also wasn't the only one willing to do anything for her victory.
"My Queen, you should get some rest. You haven't slept in days." Torc's voice came from the entrance of the throne room, but Maeve ignored him and continued to read the scroll she had been studying for a while now.
"I will rest when I have found a way to destroy Kells and those insolent knights. Not a moment earlier. Make yourself useful and bring me the rest of the documents from the basement archive. Or have you already forgotten that vow of revenge you made recently?" the queen asked, now lifting her eyes from the text in front of her to look at her general.
The older man had a grim expression on his face as he returned her gaze; or at least he had as far as Maeve could tell. The thick bandages covering the right side of his head weren't making it very easy to read the general's mood at the moment. The explosion of the ram skull sceptre, when Angus had attacked him with it, had caused a lot of damage to Torc's face, even preventing him from wearing his trademark helmet for a while.
As he answered his queen, the general's voice was filled with unconcealed hatred, his fists shaking in anticipation.
"No, I haven't forgotten anything. Sooner or later we will be strong enough to take the war back to Kells and when we destroy the Mystic Knights, that thief will be mine. I'll rip him apart and when I'm done with him, a missing eye will be the least of his concerns." Absentmindedly, Torc moved his fingers across the bandage covering his face, just above the spot where his right eye used to be, before the magical explosion had damaged it beyond any chance of recovery.
Following Maeve's request, the general grudgingly left the throne room and went down to the basement level of the castle and into the small archive located there. It held the most ancient and valuable writings in the castle, and the royal archivist had almost had a heart attack when he had heard of the queen's orders to have all the scrolls and books from there moved into the throne room.
Most of the archive's content had already been cleaned out and when the general entered, he had to look around for a second to find the last remaining scrolls he could bring to his queen.
A box filled with parchments was standing in the corner of the room in front of a small cabinet, apparently the only thing left in here. Just to be thorough, Torc also opened the cabinet and to his surprise he found a series of books that hadn't been taken yet. He gathered them up, but as he was about to pull out the last one, the book couldn't be removed from its spot. Instead, a soft clicking noise could be heard as it snapped back into position and a small hatch at the side of the cabinet opened.
Torc dropped the books he was holding unceremoniously and reached inside the hatch. A second later he pulled out an elongated wooden box, a casket, that bore the crest of the royal family of Temra.
"Where did you find this?" Maeve asked in surprise. Anything adorned with her family's crest should have been handed to her once her father had died, not been kept away from her.
"It was hidden in an old cabinet down in the archive. I didn't open it, of course, as it belongs to you, my Queen," Torc explained as he bowed to Maeve.
"Yes. Yes it does," the queen muttered absentmindedly and carefully opened the dark purple box. There was a single scroll inside, kept dry and safe within the carefully crafted casket.
"This is written in the old language, it will take time to fully translate it," Maeve exclaimed exasperatedly as her eyes wandered over the ancient text. "But I think I understand a few of the words." Her voice sounded more hopeful at this point, but she quickly fell silent again.
Torc stood beside his queen, not questioning or rushing her, but remained completely quiet as she tried to make any sense of the document in her hands. After a while, Maeve's expression began to brighten up, her eyes finally leaving the ancient words and moving over to look at Torc.
"This is old magic, very old. I don't understand much of it yet, but this scroll speaks of blood and strength gained through sacrifice. Apparently I have had at least one blood mage in my family and he or she was so kind to leave this behind for me. An instruction on how to take back my powers and vanquish all of my enemies."
As she moved to find the books she needed to translate the ancient language, Maeve held the scroll in her hand tightly, not willing to let go of it again, now that she had finally found what she had been searching for so desperately. The blood magic would give her unimagined powers and a way to increase her strength with every enemy she defeated.
This time she would make sure that the Mystic Knights would pay for everything they had done; and they would pay with their blood.
A/N: I almost can't believe I actually finished this! Not that I ever would have abandoned this story, but I know that I can be a reeeeeaaaally slow writer, so I'm happy to have finished such a long fanfiction.
Thank you all sooo much for your constant support, your amazing reviews that brought my fingers back down on the keyboard, even when the most persistent case of writer's block had hit me once again. You are all completely awesome and I can safely say, I couldn't have done it without you. ^.^
Now, to thank all the bands and artists who were so kind and lent me their song titles for my chapters, a complete list of them. They're all very cool songs, though I have to admit that I chose most of them solely for the title and not for the actual content of the songs. But here they are anyway:
1. Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms
2. UFO – Rock Bottom
3. Evanescence – Going Under
4. The Rolling Stones – Laugh, I Nearly Died
5. Linkin Park – Numb
6. Smashing Pumpkins – The End Is The Beginning Is The End
7. Evanescence – Haunted
8. Face to Face – The Devil You Know
9. Foreigner – Long Long Way From Home
10. Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight
11. Ted Nugent – Stranglehold
12. Asia – Heat of the Moment
13. I Am Kloot – Avenue of Hope
14. The Windupdeads – Reverse of Shade
15. Ben E. King – Stand By Me
16. Phil Collins – Against All Odds
17. Hurts – Silver Lining
18. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising
19. Snow Patrol – Open your Eyes (Part 1)
20. Guano Apes – Open your Eyes (Part 2)
21. The Fray – How To Save A Life
22. Beatsteaks – …and wait
23. Unloco – Bruises
See you in my next Mystic Knights fanfiction!