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Chapter 18 : War
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The wind whispered softly through his short black hair as he gazed into the sky. The very same wind that had caught gently underneath the outstretched wings of a group of gulls soaring amongst the wispy clouds set against the brilliant blue sky. A smile crept across his face as he watched the tips of their feathers ruffle as the air rushed past them.
The gulls danced around each other in a playful manner as the passed across the sun. Their calls drifted to his ears as they continued their dance moving in and out, up and over. The smile working over his face vanished suddenly as the gulls split apart to avoid the gleaming tips of the arrows passing them by and falling on the ranks gathered around him.
John brought his gaze once more to the advancing ranks of the Celts as the arrows fell amongst his troops. A wave of restlessness swept over the figures gathered about him as the King took a deep breath to prepare himself for battle. Into the forge once more, he thought shifting his grip on the reins of his horse.
“Steady men. Hold your nerve.” He yelled across the organised lines as he noticed them beginning to shift, whether by fear or restlessness he was unsure. “We have weathered their assaults so far and we shall do so again.”
“Our lines won’t break milord, they are ready to die for our cause.” Came a voice to John’s right.
He turned to look at the face of his trusted friend. “I just wish that there had been an alternative Michael. This ground has already been tainted with more than enough blood.”
John’s horse shifted once more as the enemy lines continued to approach. John was very happy with their position on this hillock, there had been almost no preparations required to make it defensible. Any approach to their position was noticeable miles before they came into range with their archers, which was just as well, for the moment that the advancing army came into range they would unleash volley after volley of arrows into their ranks. It was so commonplace that the soldiers in the front lines would merely kneel and raise their shields above their heads as they were doing in front of his eyes as the arrows landed with dull thuds into the moist ground at their feet.
John was sure that several of them were even laughing and chatting between themselves as the arrows continued to fall. The smile crept back onto his face at this, and his thoughts drifted once more, not to the sky but to two castles many miles away, ones which safely harbour the two he cared for most, and how long it would be before he could return to them.
“Sire! Celts approach from the shoreline.” Michael yelled from beside him and John turned to survey the western flank.
Indeed there were almost a thousand Celts heavily disguised creeping over the sandy beaches trying to take their flank unaware while the arrows distracted the men. The lines of troops suddenly quivered as the news of the surprise attack that would befall them in moments spread like wildfire. There were faces glancing all around in fear, while others beside them just repositioned with a steely resolve in their eyes. The Celts appeared to be finally learning. John nodded to Michael without taking his eyes from the advancing troops.
“Reform the ranks! Attack on the western flank. Prepare for battle men!” Michael yelled as he urged his horse around the lines and settled before the hundreds of men that would take the brunt of this attack.
The approaching Celts sped up on both fronts now, casting off all pretence now their plan had been discovered. Unearthly battle cries buffeted the ears of the men standing in wait. John felt for every one of them, he knew they wanted nothing more than to return home to their families. No-one liked the horrible feeling now settled deep in the pit of their stomach, it churned and twisted and constricted your gut until you feel like you are going to vomit all over the place. The feeling of a battle was bad, but this was not it, this was the feeling of waiting patiently for battle that you could not avoid.
John steeled himself as he once more turned to gaze on the advancing lines, they were truly a fearsome sight to behold. Faces of anger twisted into hatred and covered in dark war paints in gruesome patterns. Powerful arms brandishing wide axes and jagged swords, designed purely to rip as much flesh as possible from their enemies. Loose furs were wrapped over their shoulders and midriff in some horrible perversion of armour. And the worst part of all, the helmets of the generals. Painted with blood in horrid designs, broken and bent in unnatural ways though they were, there was no mistaking them. Their helmets were made from human skulls.
Gritting his teeth and drawing his sword, John shifted his grip on the reins once again as the Celts came within range of his own archers.
“Ready men!” He ordered as the archers raised their weapons behind him.
There wasn’t a twitch in any of their fingers. John and his generals had handpicked every single one of his archers, they were the very best you could find in this part of the world. Their eyes were locked on their prey while every other sense was tuned intimately to the world dancing around them. The whisper of the wind brushing against their hair as they turned to compensate for it. The echo of the war cries reaching their ears, distorted due to fluctuations in the ground. Every fibre of their being was focused here and now, on a single target.
John brought his sword high into the air, drawing a battle cry from all the troops gathered behind him. Swords were clanged and spears rattled as they roared there defiance back across the plains at those who wished to take what wasn’t theirs. A simple movement of his arm and the sword came down followed immediately by the sound of hundreds of feathers striking the long wooden handles of their bows as they were unleashed upon the world. Free to soar for an eternity in bliss before falling down and tearing themselves into the advancing troops.
Hundreds fell as the arrows belted their lines, every one striking its target with deadly accuracy. Many tripped on the bodies of their fallen friends as more began to fall about them. What had been a solid wall of advancing terror slowly unravelled as gaps broke forth in their lines, slowly becoming gaping holes as more and more men fell.
The quiver of restlessness had escalated behind John. Troops were moving behind him anxious to meet their foe head on. But they waited. None of them would move without the order. They watched their king with rapped attention, some holding their breath as they knew it would come soon.
The roar was even greater than before as hundreds of men shot forward of their mark as one advancing rapidly as a single line upon the enemy. Hundreds of spears tips gleamed in the sunlight as the advanced just ahead of the line, poking out from behind shields as John urged his horse forward charging the advancing enemy line. Closer and closer they came both sides a cacophony of sound as the two lines collided breaking against each other like waves on a cliff. Neither side giving way as the spears of both sides crashed fiercely into the other. Bodies were squashed between the now dead bodies at the front of the lines and the shields of those still pushing forward in spite of the losses.
If it was a horrible sight to stand back and watch, then it had to be hell itself to be standing amongst the fighting. Men screamed horribly as they were cut down and cast aside. Half-dead bodies were scattered everywhere and were being trampled as both sides continued to wash against each other in a sea of red. The once green grass underfoot was now trampled and drenched in the blood of the fallen. Cries of battle rent the air as they mingled amongst screams of pain and terror as more and more bodies lay writhing on the ground amongst the dead.
Utter chaos ruled as sword met shield in their beautiful yet violent dance. Spears cut their way through air and flesh as arrows crisscrossed the sky, light flickering down on the heads of the soldiers as they passed in front of the sun. The air filled with the whistling of axe blades swinging through the air on wild trajectories, cleaving long bloody gashes through flesh and armour alike with the horrid squeal of metal on metal. Bone gave way like butter to the viciously sharp edges lining the bright metal surfaces flying hither and thither flinging long fluid strips of blood into the air.
John carved a great gash into the enemy which left an easy line for his troops to follow into the core of the Celts. His sword flashed back and forth in his right hand while the spear in his left slayed all who came near his horse. The silver armour strapped over the gleaming white coat of his mighty steed deflected all those foolish enough to get into its path. Armour that had been highly polished going into the battle was quickly becoming clogged with dirt and debris making it harder to strike with every blow.
He continued to plough forward ignorant of his surroundings due to the small slits in his helmet. His own breath pressed back in on him as he panted hard, as the sweat poured from his brow into his eyes, further restricting his view. Even the terrible sounds of battle were dimmed by the heavy steel. But none of this could discourage John from his goal. He had to drive this menace back into their own lands, only then would he be able to return to his family. Only then would they be safe.
But many of the Celts he was aiming for were now ducking his blows as they back towards the hillside where they began their attack. John pulled up his horse to watch as hundreds of Celts just turned and ran from his troops advancing lines.
“Milord, they appear to be in full retreat. Shall we chase them down and end this battle?” Said Michael eagerly from his side.
“No.” John replied still watching the Celts as they seemed to form at the base of the hillside again. “Reform the ranks, this isn’t over yet.”
As he finished this sentence almost a thousand Celts came roaring over the crest of the hillside and their enemy tore down on them once more like some evil bloodthirsty beasts.
“RETREAT!” Screamed one of the men behind them.
There was no argument or mention of desertion, every single man turned almost as one and ran full tilt away from the approaching Celts. John saw nothing but the chaos of their retreat as he spun his horse and urged her to follow them.
Millions of tiny flakes of ice slowly drifted out of the heavy grey sky littering the ground. Several inches were already caked on the battlements, settled into the groves between the stonework of the castle. The once green field was now completely white. The pristine layers of snow stretched as far as the eyes could see, and had even drifted between the trunks of the huge trees lining the edge of the forest, which stood stoically accepting the cold. Nothing broke the tranquil beauty of the scene, except the occasional ball of packed snow flying past.
Max grinned as he watched the foursome dart back and forth over the icy ground casting ball after ball at each other. Some even found their way in his direction as he watched from the gateway. Max loved these moments. They showed that they were all still children, even after all that they had gone through. But the change in Godric was the most pronounced. In fact this was one of the first times that Max had seen him smile since their return from captivity, and the change it wrought in his entire demeanour was incredible. His joy seemed to radiate into those around him.
He watched on as several of the unicorns danced out from the forest to join them. So brilliantly white were their coats that they made the bright snow look dirty and dull. But the foals stood out even more, their golden coats gleaming despite the lack of direct sunlight. Helga summoned her Patronus to join them and it pranced lightly over the snow, not leaving a single trace of its passing on the soft snow as it moved. It too gleamed as the snowflakes passed straight through its body, some melting as they did so.
Max jumped slightly as a lion leapt forth from Godric’s wand roaring fiercely as ever as it began to run circles around the group, it even left the slightest shadow of a footprint with every step and the snow slowly gathered amongst its fur as it moved. And it was soon joined, as always, by a griffin that danced softly beside it. Rowena and Godric whispered to each other as they cast shields to protect themselves from Salazar’s continual onslaught.
With a broad grin Godric quickly conjured about a hundred snowballs and climbed onto the back of his Patronus while Rowena mounted her own. They lunged at Helga and Salazar as the other two ducked for cover behind some rocks.
“Hey no fair. We can’t cast corporeal Patronuses yet. Impedimenta.” Yelled Salazar as he struck a dozen snowballs dead in midair. “You’re cheating!”
Helga flicked her wand and her Patronus charged at Godric as she twirled on the spot and vanished. “Expelliarmus!”
Helga beamed as she reappeared right behind Godric and Rowena and deftly caught their flying wands. They fell in a heap on the ground as their Patronuses vanished from under them and the snowballs dropped on top of them. Everyone began roaring with laughter, and it could even be heard emanating from the big pile of snow that were now all that you could see of Godric and Rowena.
The pile of snow dropped suddenly and Godric grabbed Helga from behind as he reappeared spinning her around as all three wands fell from her grip as they fell over spread across the ground. The laughing got, if it was possible, even louder as Salazar strutted over and plonked himself beside the others.
“Max? Honey?” Alexandria said as she walked up behind him.
“What is it Alex?” Max asked finally tearing his eyes from the others now making snow angels while the unicorns dashed off to the forest.
“It’s a letter, from the King.” She replied looking rather worried.
Max slipped the parchment from her fingers and unrolled it and read through it quickly. His face fell further the more his eyes drifted down the parchment. Things must have been going very badly for the king, he was calling for all under his rule to send as many able bodied men to join the battle. Never had he called on the people to fight before, his soldiers had always been enough.
“What’s wrong daddy?”
Max whipped his head up as he noticed the kids were standing right in front of him.
“You look worried.” Helga continued.
“It’s nothing. Just a letter from the king.” He replied as he made to put it in his pocket.
“From father? Can I see it please?” Asked Rowena stepping forward.
Ma stopped as he considered her. Was it fair to put this news upon them, after everything they had been through. He looked up at Salazar and Godric and saw from their faces they weren’t going to let him go until he caved.
“Alright,” He started handing Rowena the letter. “But it’s not good news.”
A tear caught in Rowena’s eye as she read down the letter, and Helga wrapped her arms around her. Godric and Salazar’s faces gave nothing away as they read the letter over Rowena’s shoulder. But Max didn’t have to wait long to find what they were thinking.
“Did Thomas get one of these letters too?” Godric asked looking Max straight in the eye.
“I am not sure, but I believe so.” He replied looking down.
“Then it’s settled, I’m going.” Godric stated.
“Going? Going where?” Max queried, but he was already certain of the answer.
“Godric, I know you want revenge for what he did to your parents and the three of you, but this is not the time. That is a war you are marching off to.” Max pleaded.
“I don’t care about that right now. I want revenge but I’m not stupid. Like you said that’s a war he is marching to, a gathering place of dead bodies for anyone skilled in Necromancy to plunder. Thomas is going to march after the King swelling his ranks and then crush the king while he is weak. I wouldn’t be surprised if he set this whole war up for this very reason.”
Everyone stopped as Godric finished, obviously they were thinking the same thing Max had. But Godric was right. If Thomas was allowed to march to battle his army would grow more and more with every battlefield he visited. It wouldn’t be long before he would be invincible.
“So when do we leave?” Asked Salazar.
“No.” Max stated as Godric went to speak. “I will not let you go. It’s too dangerous. I know the danger Thomas poses but if you march after him you’ll all be killed. It’s a suicide mission. One I will not stand by and let you undertake.”
“But...” Godric began as Max cut him off again.
“That’s final Godric. I don’t want to hear another word about it.” And with that Max turned on his heel and walked quickly inside.
The parchment crumpled as Thomas clenched his fist about it. This was the moment he had been waiting for. All his planning would now pay off. He tightened his grip on the reins clutched in his other hand. Urging his horse forward as his troops stretched out behind him, marching steadily forward, moving as one, driven purely by Thomas’ malice.
Every figure in the lines wore heavy black cloaks under the layers of armour, hiding their true nature from any passersby. The occasional scabbed or skeletal hand was visible sticking from the end of the sleeves. Scarves pulled up and tucked beneath hideously shaped helmets concealed the dead or missing eyes as the group marched forward with a deafening clank as they moved, clashing in unison.
Not once had the army stopped to camp on their march, not that these troops needed to rest, or eat for that matter. However, it was more due to the fact that no town would tolerate the presence of the army, for even though they could not see what was hidden beneath the heavy cloaks, the army had an air of death and despair about it. It was as if a chill air was spreading from the centre of the ranks and moving steadily outward from their mass.
Thomas grinned maliciously at the thought of his armies very presence striking fear into those they followed. He only hoped that the Celts didn’t finish the king before he could arrive, that pleasure he wanted for himself.
The screams coming from outside were demoralising enough, but to look upon the wounded was even more terrible than anyone could imagine. John had fought many battles since he became king, but none could compare with the disaster this one had become. The Celts were vicious fighters, but fought smart. Instead of killing all they came across they would deeply wound them making it impossible for them to continue fighting, but this tactic was exploiting the camaraderie of his own troops as they refused to leave their friends to the mercy of these mad men.
Those who chose to help often ended up slaughtered as they tried to help their friends, and John could feel the will leaving the men as wave after wave of murderous enemies broke upon them, forcing them to retreat well back from the shoreline. And to make matters worse the onset of winter had brought with it a terrible cold, which made it even harder to care for the injured and dying. There was almost nowhere in the camp where the snow remained white and untainted by the blood of the wounded.
John felt horrible as he watched the doctors rushing between the tents, some even tending the dying outside in the cold, because they were steadily running out of places to keep them. They had even constructed a makeshift cemetery off to the side of the camp, to at least give them some dignity in death. John felt someone walk up beside him and they stood there for several minutes watching the activity outside.
“Milord, they are ready.” Michael said as he turned and walked back into the tent.
John stood there for a moment longer before he too returned inside. All his generals were gathered around the table inside, even they had taken a battering in the weeks they had been here. What was supposed to be a quick and simple routing of the enemy advance had turned into a standoff. Neither side could afford to back down now, but John had a feeling that if things continued at this rate, they would either be forced to flee, or die at the hands of the enemy.
“Milord, we have sent out envoys to the country as you requested, and have already received responses from twelve counties. They are sending all the troops they can muster at short notice straight away, and will march with the rest as they become available.” Said Arthur from across the table. “We do not have a set number yet but we are hoping these will be enough to rout the enemy assault.”
“My lord this is madness. We must retreat further. We have more wounded than healthy soldiers, and even they are barely alive with this horrible weather. I don’t believe that they can take much more.” Injected Kevin from John’s right.
“How can you even consider retreat?” Demanded Arthur. “We cannot back down from these barbarians. We must force them back, and make sure they never try to take our lands again.”
“The men are broken. Those that can still fight have lost the desire. Watching their friends cut down like animals, suffering this unbearable cold. How much more must they be forced to endure.”
“Enough.” John yelled, as Arthur made to reply. “You both have valid arguments, however arguing between ourselves will get us nowhere.”
John surveyed the piles of maps and war plans they had laid out across the table in a vain attempt to make the situation look a little brighter. Half showed them routing the enemy forces and cutting off their retreat in an attempt to destroy their enemy, but most showed the more likely end, where the Celts swept in and wiped them out. John knew the only option they had left to them lay in the number of reinforcements that were now marching their way.
“Without substantial reinforcements, I am afraid I have to agree with Kevin. There is no hope for victory with the small forces we have remaining here. If not enough come then we will be forced to retreat.” Michael stated quietly.
John just nodded quietly taking all of this in. Retreat was the last option he hoped to use. However, he would not send his men to their deaths for a lost cause either. Michael was right, without a sizeable amount of reinforcements they were doomed to fail.
“Milord.” A runner entered the tent and bowed. “I have news of a large force approaching from the east. They bear the banner of Lord Gryffindor and are approximately two weeks march away.”
“Thank you.” John said as the runner bowed and left the tent once more. “Hopefully he brings enough troops to save this battle.”
Godric was sweating profusely as he stood panting. There were bruises all over his chest and arms, but he still refused to give in. “Again.” He said as he shifted back into a ready position and waited for movement. The cloaked figures around him raised their weapons again and stood ready. A flicker to his left caught Godric’s eye as he spun about to block the attack as something hit him heavily from behind.
Godric fell to the hard stone floor gasping for breath. That last blow had winded him. He got slowly to his feet and turned to face the stoic figures once more. “Again.” He forced through clenched teeth. As one they struck at him forcing him to duck and twist between three of them. Now he was outside their circle he focused his attention forward. Two of them came at him swords raised as Godric struck forward piercing one through the chest and twisting to the right to avoid the other. Unfortunately, a club caught the side of his wrist breaking his grip on his sword.
Godric rolled back and jumped back to the left as a sword passed right where his feet had just been. He climbed quickly up the back of a particularly large figure and jumped off him twisting through the air and landing right in front of the one he had stabbed. Godric pulled the sword from its midsection and parried three blows from his right as he leapt back to his left to get away from this new onslaught. Anger burned through him as he charged forward slicing and battering the three remaining figures back against the wall where he severed two of their heads and buried the blade deep into the third ones chest.
There came a slow clap from behind him and Godric turned to see Rowena walking towards him.
“Very nice. Do they always hit you as much as that.” She waved her wand and the severed wooden heads and limbs returned to the cloaked dummies as they zoomed back towards the wall.
“No. I was just distracted.” Godric retorted. “Usually I have to repair them several times before they hit me. And for your information I have been here for six straight hours. I’m a little tired.”
Rowena giggled as he grabbed her around the waist. “Unless you have a miracle cure for that too?”
Rowena smiled as she let him wrap her up in his arms. He spent almost all of his time locked up in the Room of Requirement lately, and she had missed been held like this. Ever since the letter had arrived Godric had been obsessed with practising.
“Rowena. You know that I love you don’t you.” He whispered into her ear.
“Of course I do. Why?” She asked suddenly suspicious.
“Because I need you to do something.”
“Oh really? And what might that be?”
“I need you to stay here.”
“What?” She asked spinning about to look at him.
“I need you to stay here. I’m going after Thomas, and I need to know you are safe.”
“If you think I’m going to let you go and face that maniac alone then you must have taken a fair hit to the head. If you’re going I’m coming with you.”
“I didn’t get hit in the head. I know you want to come but I can’t let you. It’s too dangerous.”
Rowena slapped Godric hard across the face causing him to stumble backward.
“How dare you! I am not a little doll that needs to be wrapped up in blankets for her own safety. I can handle myself Godric as you well know.” The look in her eyes was almost scary as she glared at him.
“I know that Rowena but I can’t put you in that kind of danger. I just can’t.” He pleaded trying to make her see reason.
“You can’t let me? I am not at your command Godric. I can do as I choose.”
“Please Rowena. I couldn’t stand it if I lost you.”
“Fine I’ll make you a deal. Fight me.” Godric looked stunned.
“I swear sometimes you aren’t very bright. I’m,” she began pointing to herself, “challenging you,” she continued pointing at him, “to a duel.” She finished waving her hands as though clutching a sword. “If you win, I’ll stay here. If I win then you take me with you.”
“You can’t be serious?” Godric stuttered.
“I’m completely serious.” She replied sternly. “You want to go, you have to go through me.” Rowena shifted her position so she was directly between Godric and the open doorway.
“But,” Godric began as he cast his gaze about the room as though looking for something that would help him out of this awkward situation. However, the room yielded no such help as Godric’s mind weighed up the alternatives, which all came to the same result. “Ok.” He acquiesced quietly.
“What was that?” Rowena grinned.
“I said ok.” Godric griped as he stared at his shoes.
“Good,” Rowena smiled, “Just Let me get changed into something more suitable and we can begin.”
She spun on her foot and disappeared out the door as Godric dropped to the floor dejectedly and waited for her to return. It didn’t take Rowena long to change, she was back before Godric could come up with some way of changing her mind.
“Ready?” She chimed as she entered once more, now decked out in a tight hunting outfit. Godric just groaned as he stood again and walked over to his stuff. “So how shall we do this? First blood? Or until one of us is defeated?”
“Defeated. I don’t like the idea of having to cut you up.” Godric confessed as he moved back into the centre of the room sword drawn. “Are you sure about this Rowena?”
“Completely,” she cooed as she danced lightly to face him drawing her sword as swishing it erratically.
Godric smiled a little as he shifted into his duelling pose, legs slightly apart, arms raised above his head with the blade pointing back behind him. Rowena raised herself up bringing her sword up dead straight in front of her and spread her feet in a more defensive manner. Their eyes locked and they both stood completely still, the only movement in the room was the soft rising and falling of their chests as they breathed slowly, readying themselves. A silent tension built in the room until the air crackled softly with it.
With a sudden deft move, Godric brought his sword down as Rowena twisted to her right, parried the strike shifting her weight to her left foot as she brought her sword about, and took a broad stroke at Godric’s shoulder. He just brought his blade into position to parry as she shifted her strike to swipe across his stomach. Taken off guard Godric flipped back to avoid the strike and resumed his ready pose as Rowena softly approached once more ready to strike. Once more, the soft puffs of their breath were the only sound in the room as they stood facing each other.
Rowena darted forward as quick as lighting, thrusting her weapon toward Godric once more as he was forced to swipe her attack to the left. He leapt again clearing Rowena and bringing his blade to bear at her heels, which it grazed as Rowena jumped the strike and brought her own blade down upon his.
“You’ve been practising.” Godric breathed as he urged his blade upwards knocking Rowena to the side as he stepped back to regain his footing once more.
“Every day since Salazar showed up.” Rowena smiled as she resumed her ready pose once more. “I had a feeling that you were going to go running off sometime and I wasn’t going to let you leave me here.”
“How have you found the time?” Godric asked, shifting to match Rowena’s more defensive pose. “And who has been training you?”
“You have.” She remarked as she dashed forward swiping her sword around behind her body and striking across Godric smacking his blade aside and knocking him back to the floor.
Rowena smiled as she saw the look on Godric’s face as he climbed back to his feet. “I have? When?”
“You remember how I used to sit and watch you train, well I was watching you for pointers. Then when you finally left the room I would practise myself. Though I have only gone against two of the dummies at once.”
Godric grinned at the thought of what she had done. “Very nice. But I’m not sure that it will be enough.”
Godric advanced slowly twirling his sword quickly with his right hand before twisting tightly to bring an attack at Rowena from his right which she easily parried up before striking once more at his exposed abdomen. Godric flicked himself quickly aside then brought his sword up and entwined it with Rowena’s locking them together as he leaned toward her.
“But I must say I’m impressed.” He complimented stealing a quick kiss before releasing the lock and jumping back.
Rowena just glared at him in a half-angry half-happy manner. “Well I’m glad you are.” She chided as she charged forward again.
Godric stepped back as her blade flashed up in front of him then quickly changed into a sidewards stroke. He twisted his blade to collect hers but it had already shifted again to a forward lunge. Godric ducked backwards and swished his sword across in front of his body knocking Rowena’s attack aside. Godric thought quickly as she advanced once more. She was striking at him so quickly now he could do nothing but parry her attacks. She was very good. He had no idea she had been practising like this. And if things continued at this rate he would find himself defeated. So he did the only thing he could think of. He jumped backwards soaring through the air to land behind the inanimate dummies by the wall.
“What’s the matter Godric?” Rowena laughed as she advanced on him. “You’re not tired already are you?”
“No just considering tactic.” Godric explained as he rolled forward.
He flicked himself up swinging his sword at Rowena’s shoulder but as she went to parry the blow he shifted his angle and the broadside of the blade struck the back of Rowena’s hand causing her to release the sword. Godric shifted his angle again to catch the weapon under the hilt and flicked it into the air where he jumped once more and caught it in his spare hand.
“Like that.” He said plainly as he landed in front of Rowena.
Her stunned expression was quickly replaced by sadness as she realised that it was over. She had lost.
“You’ll need to pack quickly. I want to leave before sun down.” Godric said as he walked forward, giving Rowena her sword back.
“But I lost, what about the deal?” She questioned unsure of what had just happened.
“To hell with the deal. You have been practising for ages and you are really good too. I just got a lucky shot that is all. Besides, I’ll feel much better knowing that you’re by my side than worrying if you are ok back here.” He finished as he wrapped his arms around Rowena once more.
“You really mean it?” She asked as a tear welled slowly in her eye.
“Of course. You have every reason to go after Thomas as well. And let’s face it, even if I tell you to stay here you’re just going to come after me anyway.”
They both laughed loudly for several minutes before either one moved again.
“We need to get going though. It will take you a while to pack.”
“Are you kidding me?” Rowena asked incredulously. “I’ve had a bag packed for weeks now. I have been waiting for you to realise you wanted to leave.”
And they both laughed again as they walked out and headed for their rooms. It didn’t take Godric long to gather up his things, as Rowena had pointed out every seemed to realise it was only a matter of time before he went after Thomas, even he must have known deep down because everything he needed was already out and sorted ready to go, he had been slowly gathering everything together without even realising it. He rushed down to the stables catching up to Rowena at the back gate.
“You ready?” He asked as he approached.
“Of course we are.” Helga replied. Godric merely stood there watching her as she mounted her horse and turned to face him. “You didn’t seriously think you could sneak out of here without me noticing did you?” She laughed.
Godric stood transfixed until someone slapped him sharply on the back. “What took you so long? We have been waiting here for hours.” Salazar said as he too mounted his horse.
“Damn it Salazar. It was more impressive making him think we got here just in time.” Helga chastised as Rowena walked into the stables.
“Hey guys.” She said as she set about preparing her own horse.
“You guys aren’t coming.” Godric said finally snapping back to reality.
“Oh really.” Helga replied sternly. “And what exactly are we doing? Going for a nice nighttime ride for no reason. Because we certainly aren’t waiting here while you rush off to face Thomas.”
“Godric do you really think you can win this fight?” Salazar asked. “She is the only person I know who is even more stubborn than you.”
The others giggled as Godric went red, he looked ready to explode. Helga cut across him as he went to yell. “Look, we are coming whether you like it or not Godric, so unless you want to sit here and wait for my father to catch us trying to leave, I suggest you get on Dracari so we can get out of here. Agreed?”
Godric mumbled under his breath as he headed off to saddle up Dracari and returned a moment later astride him.
“Fine then let’s get going. Everyone ready?” He asked still slightly red in the face.
“We've been waiting for you.” Teased Salazar.
Godric just glared at them as he urged Dracari between them and out into the chill night air.
A.N: Here at long last is chapter 18. My sincerest apologies for the delay and I hope you all enjoy it. Keep reading and let me know what you think. And thank you all for reading.
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