Chapter 7

War Torn

I missed my J'Spurr. The days passed, and I kept thinking that I could escape, but every time I tried, the castle stopped me. Doors became walls, and windows refused to open. In the gardens all I had to do was walk toward the gate, and that walk turned into a pilgrimage I could never finish. I tried to go over the wall, and vines snared me and held me tight. When I tried to fly away, I felt as if I hit a ceiling I couldn't pass. I was moved into a luxurious suite of rooms, and I cried myself to sleep every night.

Over and over again, I tried to appeal to Jyss'ca, but she just dismissed my arguments and my sadness, and pushed me toward Prince Mar'n. The last time I tried to get through to her, she'd commanded me to spend the day and most of the evening with him. I was compelled to stay in his presence from the time I awoke until I was ready to drop from exhaustion.

I wished he was a bad man—or fairy, or whatever—but he wasn't. For the most part he was pleasant, and always kind to me. If I weren't already in love, I might have found him an acceptable choice. But instead, everything he did reminded me that he wasn't J'Spurr. He lacked J'Spurr's predatory edge. His eyes were a dark brown instead of blue, and his hair was the same color as my own, and I missed the way J'Spurr's always seemed to be lit from within.

He smelled different too. Not that I wanted to get close enough to notice, but with Jyss'ca pushing us together, it was inevitable. He had a flowery fragrance that I once found appealing, but it soon began to sickened me. J'Spurr always smelled good to me. He smelled like earth, and trees, and the sea. Mar'n just wasn't the one I wanted.

My misery left me wandering the castle, trying to find some way of escape, or something to help me change my fate. I happened on a room high in a castle turret with a view of the valley below. It was the focus of a lot of work and preparation, with carpenters and craftsmen creating a beautiful, one-of-a-kind bed in the center. When I questioned them, I was horrified to discover it was the wedding suite of the new queen and her groom. It was the place where Prince Mar'n would force me to join with him. Only I knew he wouldn't have to force me; I'd be magically in love with him by then. What was to happen in that bed would be the official end of any chance I had to be with J'Spurr.

I fled. I needed to find a place where I could hide away from my reality. I couldn't escape, and I was beginning to despair that there was no way out of my fate. I even thought about killing myself—then realized how foolish that would be. No. I couldn't end my own life. But I thought that maybe I could hide from it all. I made my way to the area of the castle where the servants lived. There were many of them, and they had small rooms in the lower hallways.

Looking around, I observed the lives they lead, saw their children hidden away, compared their meager possessions to the abundance the royals enjoyed—and felt ashamed. I'd been so worried about myself, I hadn't even paid attention to the servant fairies doing the work around the castle. What they wore could be called rags next to what I wore. Their rooms were so small, and none of them faced the sun. Their children played with simple and worn out toys, and they ate little better than the prisoners.

If I did become queen, this would have to end. It was the first time I could imagine marrying Prince Mar'n. It would give me the opportunity to fix what was wrong under Jyss'ca's rule. As this thought crossed my mind, I heard the sounds of an argument coming my way. I ducked into one of the small, empty rooms as the sounds came down the hallway. It was a man and a woman, and it sounded like he was trying to keep her quiet, but she was clearly upset with him.

They passed my door, and I swore I could hear Prince Mar'n. I left my hiding spot and followed them. I peered around the corner, and it was indeed the prince. They stopped a few yards away, and he turned to her.

"Enough! Don't you understand, I cannot change this! I will not change this. The kingdom matters more to me than my own selfish emotions. If I don't get married, Jyss'ca stays in power, and our people all suffer for my choice."

"You're tearing my heart out." I focused on the young woman he was with, and recognized her. It was Bree, the young, blond girl who had called him master. She was weeping openly as she held on to his sleeve. "I love you, Mar'n; doesn't that mean anything to you?"

"It means everything to me!" He pulled her close. "You know I love you, and I would give anything if we could be together—anything but the kingdom. I cannot place our happiness above the welfare of the people." She pulled away from him, turned her back and crossed her arms.

"It's easy for you; you'll have her! You'll be married to the princess; you'll love and adore her, and you'll forget all about me. You'll have each other, and I'll have no one!" She spun to face him. "I want to put the people ahead of my own happiness, but I just can't! You know I'm never going to forget you. I'll have to watch you... every single day for the rest of my life. I'll see you and love you... but you won't feel the same way ever again. I'll have to see you look at her the way you now look at me. I'll be a witness to your embraces and your kisses, and all the sweet things you do and say. I'm bound to you by more than love, and I won't be able to leave. It would have been better if you'd just left me in the dungeon to die alone!"

Her tears were flowing so freely I felt guilty for watching. He again gathered her in his arms, and held her tight, trying to comfort her.

"Don't say that... you're my world, Bree. I could never love her the way I love you. We just have to hold on to the hope that the magic won't work—or maybe it will fade over time."

"If the magic doesn't compel you, would you leave her? Would you set her aside for me?" She looked up at him with sad, blue eyes.

"I... that's not possible, Bree. You know it would destroy the kingdom. But we could still be together—sometimes—like now." He tipped her chin up, and would have kissed her, but she turned her head.

"Secret meetings. Lies. Sneaking. Cheating. Is that what our love will be reduced to? I'll be the deceiver, and I'll have to watch her beside you all the time in public. I'll get to see her have your children, and know I never can. She'll live the life I want, and I'll have to play the servant, hoping for the crumbs of affection you throw my way. And that's if the magic fails, and we both know it will not." She again looked up at him and took his hands.

"Kill me, Mar'n. Run your sword through my chest and end my suffering. Be merciful, I'm begging you." She fell to her knees, completely broken. I wiped the tears from my face, and tried to leave.

Instead my feet carried me toward them.

"No." They both turned to look at me. She let go of his hands and he backed away. "We are not getting married! There has to be another way, and the three of us are going to figure it out." I looked around and then opened the door to one of the rooms. "Let's talk in here, so we don't attract an audience."

The room was tiny, with a small bed and a chair. Bree collapsed onto the bed, and Mar'n sat beside her, putting his arm around her comfortingly. I took the chair, again wishing for J'Spurr to be by my side.

"Why didn't you tell me you have just as much reason to avoid this marriage as I do?"

"It doesn't matter, Alyss. The scrolls say we are to be married; it will happen." He sounded so defeated; it was another difference between him and J'Spurr. I knew J'Spurr would never give up on me.

"No it won't! I won't marry you. I don't owe any loyalty to this kingdom, and even if I did, I can't believe that peace built on lies and manipulation can be a good thing. You two are in love, and that has to mean something! Every fairy tale I've ever heard, claims love is the most powerful magic there is. It can break curses, it can wake the dead, it turns wrong into right. It does not roll over and give up! If you say you love her, Mar'n, then by the earth mother, you better be willing to sacrifice the kingdom for her—anything less isn't real love!

"The kingdom will suffer so much more, if their king isn't willing to give everything for love. If leaders are willing to put their whole being into war, jealousy, power, and hate, then you better be able to counter it with love—that's what matters—not some stupid prophesy!" They both stared at me.

"Listen, do you think I just happened to be down here at the exact time you two had your discussion? What kind of an accident would that take? Perhaps there's something more at work here than what's written on paper?" They looked at me like I'd grown an extra head. "I can't believe you put so much faith in those old writings. They're open to interpretation, and no one ever knows for sure how they're supposed to work out. Maybe instead of working to make it easy, we should work to make it right?"

"You don't understand, Alyss. It's always been this way. Everyone written into those scrolls married, and there was nothing they could do to change it."

"That was before I got here. I'm not going to marry you, Mar'n. I'd just as soon fall on your sword myself—I'm not going to be a puppet. If the magic of the realm can change me so much, that I would forget loving J'Spurr, then I would rather die." I met his eyes. "I have no intention of dying or killing myself, but I refuse to marry you—especially now that I know you're in love with someone else." I smiled at the small woman clinging to his side.

"Then what do you suggest we do?" He was skeptical, but she looked hopeful.

"I need to look at the scroll again. There has to be something there that we're not seeing."

"There's nothing. I've looked at it so many times I've got it memorized." I scowled at him as he spoke.

"I don't care what you think you know about it! I need to see it for myself. You need to decide it's worth it to fight for what you want. If your love for Bree isn't enough to fight for, then we're all just wasting our time! Do you want to be a very lonely, single man? I already said I wasn't going to marry you, and if you won't make a complete commitment to her, then she won't either!" It was only a guess, but as I spoke the words, I knew they were true. This was a turning point for them both.

He turned to her and held her hands in his. "She's right. I've been a fool, thinking that I could turn my back on you, in favor of the kingdom. I hope the people can forgive me if I'm wrong, but there's really no choice here. I love you, Bree. I will love you til my dying day, and I cannot marry anyone but you." He went down on his knees before her.

"Marry me, Princess Bree."

I gasped as she said yes. As they were wrapped in each other's arms, I replayed his words in my mind: 'Marry me, Princess Bree.' Unless he misspoke—and I doubted he had—she was a princess, a blond-haired, blue-eyed, princess of the enemy fairy kingdom! The pieces started to fall into place, and I knew it was no accident that we had decided to thwart the prophesy. I felt more hope than ever before, that I would be reunited with my J'Spurr.

I left them for a while, to celebrate their engagement. As I walked through the servant's halls I realized the prince had a much better grasp of what was wrong in the kingdom than I did. His willingness to turn his back on true love made sense, when I took into consideration what Jyss'ca's rule was costing the people. He really deserved to be king, and Jyss'ca deserved... she deserved to live down here—or better yet in her own dungeon.

The sound of many booted feet caught my attention. At the end of the hall, I saw a guard detail, and I hurried the other way, to warn Mar'n and Bree. We met them in the hall. They'd come to find Prince Mar'n, with reports of a serious battle underway along one of the main roads leading to the city.

"Queen Jyss'ca wants you to lead the army there immediately and turn them back." The guards ignored me, and Bree was pretty much invisible in her servant's dress. Mar'n looked as if he would go immediately, but I took hold of his arm.

"Give us a few minutes, will you?" I was looking at the soldiers, who didn't seem to want to listen to me. Jyss'ca commanded them, and I was still an outsider.

"I'll be along in a few minutes." Mar'n spoke to the soldiers. "Gather the soldiers from the city, and we'll collect the rest of our forces once we pass through the gates. I won't be long." The uniformed fairy looked at me with mistrust, but then turned and took the rest of the detachment and left us there.

"What's so important, Alyss?" Even Mar'n looked impatient. He was the one who commanded the army, and he obviously took his job seriously.

"Take me with you! I can help in the fight, and if I'm part of the army the castle has to let me go. My friends are out there somewhere, and I know we'll find a way out of this curse if I can only reach them."

"No! I can't take you, Alyss. It's dangerous out there, and even if it was safe the castle won't let you go. It obeys the queen, not me. I don't have time for this now."

"I know." I looked to make sure all the soldiers were gone from the hall, then smiled. "You do have time to kiss your fiance` goodbye, right?" He looked surprised as I retreated and Bree took my spot. I didn't stick around to watch their goodbye, but instead followed after the soldiers. It was a dim hope, but I had to try and see if the castle would let me go if I went with the soldiers. I made it all the way to the gate, then the portcullis slammed shut, narrowly missing the wings of the fairy in front of me.

The next squad of soldiers was assembling in the courtyard, and I thought about waiting for them. But instead I flew back inside the castle. I knew I wasn't fighting the prophesy alone, and that gave me hope, but I felt like I needed to somehow be involved in what was happening. I passed Prince Mar'n coming out of the castle as he went to take charge of some of the soldiers gathering near the gates. Standing in the shadows of the castle was Bree, looking forlorn and worried.

"Come with me." I didn't give her a chance to argue but took her by the hand and lead her away from the door. "You can't do anything but distract him out there." I lead her through the halls, making certain to stay out of the way of Queen Jyss'ca. I stopped outside the door of the library. Neither of us were permitted inside, and I'd come up against the defenses every time I'd tried to get a look at the prophesy scrolls.

"You've read the scrolls yourself. I haven't been able to get through the door so I could see them with my own eyes. Will you help me?" I knew she didn't trust me; up until an hour ago I was her enemy. "Please, Bree, I need your help. I'm in love with J'Spurr, and if I can't figure a way out of this mess... I don't know what I'll do!" I hoped she could see we had the same goal.

"Fine. I'll get the scroll. You stay out here and keep watch." I felt the power of the magic she used to get the door to open. As I stood there waiting, I had time to consider that most of the fairies I'd seen rarely used magic. The queen used magic, but I got the feeling it came from her crown, and not her own ability. Bree had used magic to get into the room. My own magic had been limited by the queen. We were fortunate that no one came by while I waited on her; I don't know if I could have done anything to help.

"I've got it, let's go." I didn't see the scroll, but I didn't doubt her. I lead her through the castle and up several flights of stairs.

"Where are we going?" She was following me, but the route we were taking had her confused. I was trying to keep out of the way of anyone who might question the two of us together.

"With so many going to fight the battle, I think I know someplace where we shouldn't be disturbed." A circular set of steps lead even further up, and we came to the room at the top of the turret—my honeymoon suite. Bree looked around, and I didn't need to tell her what she was seeing. The bed had been draped in gauzy silk since I'd first seen it, and there was no doubt its intended purpose.

"Why did you bring me here?" Her trembling voice told me she was on the verge of tears.

"Two reasons. One is to remind you why we're going to scour this stupid scroll for a way out. And the other is..." I tore away the gauze from the bed. "...no one's going to be using this room anytime soon—unless it's you and Mar'n." Our eyes met for a moment, and a timid smile lit her face. I went to the door and locked it from the inside. It struck me as odd that the lock was a physical lock, even though I knew it would be a simple matter for a fairy to lock it with magic.

"Bree... why don't the fairies here use much magic? I've seen a few underlings use it, and you and Mar'n do too. But most everyone I've encountered here—well except for the sprites—use as little magic as possible." She plopped down onto the bed with a sigh.

"The wanderer who wrote the prophesies shared a truth with us all. The magic of this realm is almost a living thing itself. It seeks balance and peace between all creatures of Fey. The magic becomes a part of everything and everyone who comes here, and it works to make everything fall in line with that balance. Using the magic makes us more in balance with the realm. It makes us more peaceful."

"I don't get it, isn't that a good thing?" I sat down beside her on the bed.

"Yes... most of the time it's a very good thing. But the wanderer showed us that this peacefulness was making us vulnerable to the attacks from the dragon realm. His recommendation was that we have an army ready to meet any threats, and that this army should not use magic at all. At first we were in agreement with him—that's part of the story the usur... this group of fairies does not believe. Our side agreed to train an army, and these soldiers didn't use magic in their training. When a monster came out of the gateway, our army went to meet it. They tried to fight it without magic, and they weren't strong enough. When they resorted to magic, they were untrained in its use, and the monster destroyed them all." She looked like she would weep.

"I'm sorry, it was a very long time ago, but it became the cause of the split between our two peoples. The traveler showed up as the monster headed toward the city. It was eating people..." Here she stopped and wiped the tears from her eyes. "... I've seen these things in my nightmares—it was horrible! The wanderer was somehow able to fight this menace, and he used magic to do it. He made the reigning queen look like a fool—she was trying to hide the people in the tall trees. People began to doubt her, and put their trust in the wanderer.

"Two more times creatures came through the gate; the second time there was a small army there to fight it, and they turned it back through the gate. The last time, it was a terrible dragon that came through, and it surely would have destroyed the people of the first city. But by this time the wanderer had a large force, and he lead them to a victory against the dragon, and it fled back through the gate." She pulled the scroll from the pocket of her dress, and it was clear there was no way it would have fit in there naturally.

"Most of our two histories are the same on the conflict with the monsters. But it's the details of the split that we disagree on. I was always taught that the usurper demanded to lead the people, and for this the queen banished him and anyone allied with him. Mar'n tells me he was taught that the wanderer tried to appeal to the queen, and instead he was cast out and cursed. The people joined him freely, but they could never go back home. At this point it doesn't matter, we've been growing apart for hundreds of years. Every now and then we go to war..."

"I don't understand how fairies can go to war. I thought the original problem was that they didn't want to fight the monsters coming through the gate. How does a peaceful people come to war?"

"Now that's where the answer to your first question comes in. The usur... I mean the wanderer tried to tell us that we needed an army that didn't use magic. What he didn't tell us, was flying was considered magic too. The essence of magic is all around us, and the beating of our wings pulls the magic into us, like a fine net. Flying was the same as casting spells; it made the soldiers too passive and weak. The trick to being able to fight, was behaving more like the other creatures of Fey—trolls, giants, goblins and ogres. They don't use much magic at all, and they're very good at fighting."

"Mar'n said that fairies used magic to kill one another." I remembered his explanations.

"Fairy magic is very powerful. But until the wanderer came, fairies were rarely malicious enough to use it against one another. Accidents happened, of course, but the magic of Fey also works for the good of the people. Unless a fairy was completely destroyed, the magic would slowly heal them. Even missing limbs will slowly regrow, though I have heard of weapons that can make this damage permanent. I know my sister the queen has one of them." I wanted to ask how her sister was the queen, and she still wound up rotting away in Jyss'ca's dungeon. But I wanted to know more about how they had changed.

"Once the split happened, our side became vigilant against attack from our enemies. There was the worry that the usurper would return with an army to wipe out the first city. The usurper instead went into the valley to build his own palace and city. They didn't have to worry about being attacked by dragons, and so they used the magic of Fey to build the city here. They put a lot of magic into the palace and the royal items as well. Your necklace is one of those, as is Queen Jyss'ca's crown, and my sister's tiara. They used a lot of powerful magic back then."

"I thought using magic made fairies want peace?" I was getting confused by the story.

"There was something about that wanderer—he was able to keep most of them focused on building a new city. There were a few who tried to return, but they were turned away. The great divide was permanent"

"So now that this wanderer is gone, no one uses magic here?"

"Mar'n told me that the wanderer left them about a hundred years after he arrived. He left them with the city, the palace and all its defenses, and several powerful items of magic. He wrote the scrolls, giving future generations a guideline of succession, marriage, and rule. At first they followed his guide out of respect. But later they discovered the unions, the succession, all of what he'd written had a way of coming true—as if he'd seen the future."

"He's wrong this time." I looked her in the eyes and spoke the words with all the assurance I had. "You can trust me; I get glimpses of the future, and I have never seen Mar'n in mine."

"I hope you're right. Be careful with the scrolls, I brought you the originals, not a copy." She got up and went to look out the window over the valley.

"As I was growing up, I observed the limits we had on magic use. I've always felt it there, as if it were calling me; it calls to all of us who are attuned. I knew we limited magic, so we could always be wary and vigilant—in case our enemies attacked. I think this is how we've maintained the divide; none of us use much magic. When I was captured, I was locked away in the dungeons, and I couldn't even cast a simple light spell. I promised myself if I ever got free, I'd use my magic no matter what; I'd swim in it like it was the sea." She turned to look at me.

"I think it's that promise that freed me. As soon as I came to that decision, Mar'n found me. He said he didn't even know why he went to the dungeons that day, but I knew I wouldn't have lasted any longer if he hadn't found me. He saved my life." She gazed at me intently. "He wasn't alone in saving me; I really do believe the All Mother of Fey saved me. I think she heard my silent promise, and she lead Mar'n there to free me."

"Do you think she made you fall in love with him?" I didn't know if I believed her story of divine providence.

"No." Her smile was beautiful. "I hated him at first. Imagine that, hating the one who saved me. I was raised to believe everyone here was my enemy, and the imposter queen reinforced that belief when she made me his slave. I kept my promise, and I used a lot of magic trying to escape. I did many devious things to irritate the queen and make life miserable for anyone living here. I actually created a thunderstorm inside the walls, and it rained and flooded for two days before they found me and forced me to stop it." We both laughed at this story.

"The false queen had to use the power stored in her crown to put an end to my magic. She thought she shut me down for good, but little by little it came back; it's found a way around her barrier. I could cause another thunderstorm if I wanted to, but I've been using it to try to put an end to the war instead."

"End the war? Wouldn't you try to help your side win?" I wasn't sure what was motivating her.

"I do all I can to confuse the armies and send them in the wrong direction. I send rain to turn battlefields into mud pits. I corrupt their weapons and armor with rust and corrosion—on both sides. Since I've been using magic... the hate is gone. It's like the magic washes it away and I just can't hold it anymore. The fighting needs to stop; even Mar'n can see that now. The queens—both of them—they need to end this war. Our people need to be reunited. It's not just about the split or our two different peoples anymore. It's tearing the realm apart. I can feel it, like a discordance in the song the all mother sings."

She turned back to the window as I unrolled the scroll on the bed. I noted the path of the sun crossing the floor as I read over every detail of what seemed to be both family tree and history. It was dull reading, and most of the names were unfamiliar to me. I did read my own mother's lineage, and traced it back to when the split occurred. One of her great grandfathers had been in line for the throne of the first city. It seemed the split hadn't destroyed the royal lines; they took those titles with them, and this ancestor of mine had been one of the first kings here. I was able to trace back Jyss'ca's lineage, as well as Mar'n's. I opened my mouth to ask Bree a question, when I heard her squeal of alarm.

"Alyss come quick!" I rushed to the window, and tried to see what she was seeing. All I saw was the beautiful view, with hills trees, and meandering streams. "Can you see it?"

"See what?" I looked harder where she was pointing. I thought I saw smoke, but that was all.

"Oh, I forgot, you can't use your magic." With a wave of her hands, it looked as if she drew a second window in front of me. Through this window, I could see what she was trying to show me. There was a battle going on in the valley. It wasn't very far from the palace, but it was still far enough away I couldn't see it without her help.

As I watched, two forces clashed in a small clearing. There were giants throwing boulders, ogres smashing with hammers, and goblins with razor sharp swords in a fierce melee combat. I couldn't tell if anyone was winning, but it was clear to see there were a lot of losers. Bodies littered the ground like broken toys.

"There's Mar'n, on that rise." She pointed him out, and I could see where he was commanding his army. "It's too late for me to do anything to prevent the battle. They were too close to send them wandering, and I'm not going to attack my own forces directly. They'll have to fight it out now."

Even as I watched, a volley of rocks were hurled from the giants at Mar'n's command. A dozen smaller creatures went down under the barrage, and goblins rushed to finish any who didn't get up from the field. The counter attack from the other side was just as swift, and even more brutal. Ogres and hobgoblins came from the cover of the trees. They charged the goblins, spitting many on spears, and cleaving others into pieces. Then the trolls and giants charged the rise where Mar'n's giant brigade was readying their next attack.

I had to turn away, there was just too much carnage. I felt sick.

"Alyss, look!" Bree shook my arm and I heard fear in her voice. The enemy giants had broken through, and Mar'n was under attack himself. Fortunately the fairy wasn't without magic, and it soon appeared he had another army coming to his defense

"Those are illusions; except for the sprites and a handful of commanders, he's alone out there." Her fingers clawed into my arm in her fear. Most of the enemies turned back at the sight of his illusory army. But some continued. We watched as Mar'n cast several attack spells at the enemy, driving all but a handful back.

Then the dragons came to his rescue!

It was M and Ehd Wyrd, and they flew in low over the enemy, breathing flames and lava. They were just in time to save Mar'n, but their appearance didn't turn the battle as I thought it should. All at once the enemy monsters targeted the dragons.

The black and the bronze dragon flew intricate patterns to avoid the rocks being hurled by the giants. The ogres were chucking spears into the sky with deadly accuracy. I never would have believed that anything could fight a dragon, let alone two, but the monsters were giving them a serious fight. Both dragons instead flew high enough the spears and rocks fell short. They were still able to breathe down on the melee below, and soon the battlefield was burning and smoking in many places.

"They're not trying to kill the monsters; they're trying to separate the armies." I pointed this out to Bree. From our tower we could see the rough line of flames and lava, and the monsters were indeed returning to their respective sides to avoid being cut off. I thought they might be able to end the battle.

Another dragon joined in, dashing those hopes. The huge blue dragon seemed to dwarf everything as it took to the sky. It's lightning breath tore first into Mar'n's monsters, then it flew after the black and bronze dragons above. M and Ehd Wyrd narrowly missed being hit by bolts of lightning, as the dragon I thought was our friend tried to blast them out of the sky.

"No... this is all wrong! Ghar'rett would never attack them like that. What's going on?" The only good thing about the battle, was that now the monsters had mostly stopped fighting, and they were watching the aerial combat. M breathed fire at the blue dragon, and Ehd Wyrd darted in to nip at his wing. Ehd Wyrd underestimated the giant blue menace. He was big, but he was older and fiercer than the sinuous bronze, and he definitely wasn't slow. The spiked blue tail whipped through the air and batted Ehd Wyrd like a club, smashing him toward the ground. I saw the broken trees where he went down, but he disappeared so fast I lost sight of him.

M was on the defensive, as he flew through the sky, dodging lightning attacks and trying to keep Ghar'rett from catching him. He couldn't get close enough to breathe on the blue, and if he flew too close to the ground the monsters lobbed spears at him. I wondered why he didn't fly away, then the horrifying realization hit me; he would never leave Rose. The others had to be nearby.

I started to look for Rose, Be'lah, and my J'Spurr among the creatures on the ground. It was no use, Be'lah could easily hide them from normal sight.

Bree and I both caught our breath as the tide of the battle changed again. I didn't need Bree's magical window to see it, and I knew Be'lah wasn't hiding my friends in the woods.

The fi'nyx took to the sky.

One thing the window did, was allow us to hear her song. It was beautifully soothing, and we stood there in the tower feeling the anxiety fall away. The fiery bird was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen, and as she spread her wings in the sky, Ghar'rett stopped his attack. Indeed, all the monsters stopped fighting. She flew over the battlefield, singing her haunting song, and the fighting ended.

Then something caught my eye, and my heart stopped beating for a moment. On a rock, behind the enemy lines I spotted a lone figure. It was clear in an instant he was leading the enemy army. J'Spurr!

A/N: Apologies for the time between chapters. Four stories simultaneously-what was I thinking? Please don't give up on me, I do intend to finish.