“This will definitely not work,” said Thoc as he sat by my side as we overlooked the plains of Ashford from the citadel walls.
“Not with that attitude,” I muttered. “I hate to say this but you should be a bit more optimistic about it, it’s not as if there’s much room for error. It’s an extremely simple plan. I head out with you, call in for backup, Gafas goes, you return and tell everyone we got killed by flame legion.”
“Itan won’t buy it,” said Thoc. “You two have been killing off flame legion left and right. You’re starting to gain a reputation for it.”
“Then say they sent out several shamans for us,” I shrugged. “Having a reputation will only justify them sending more so the story will still be feasible.”
“I dunno,” said Thoc. “I just have this feeling.” I could sense concern in my friend’s eyes, while I knew he was happy for me, there was a definite sensation of dread creeping into him. I admit I was a bit nervous, but it was overshadowed by my excitement. I never expected my life to eventually lead up to this, I had dreamed of leaving the citadel, of exploring the world. I never actually believed I would work up the nerve to do it, however, much less with my husband of all things. I was still in disbelief that I had a husband.
“We’ll be fine,” I said as I thought about Garfas, who was fulfilling his part of the plan. A smile appeared on my face.
“So how’s the married life?” Asked Thoc. “Still can’t believe you did a human ceremony and everything.” We both chuckled at the novelty of it all.
“It’s the same, but different.” I said. “He’s still him, and I’m still me.” I looked at the ring on my hand, how the setting sun made it reflect the warm light. “But now everything just seems so certain now.”
“This calls for something special!” Thoc drew out a bottle from his coat, two mugs from his pocket. “A drink, we probably won’t get to share one for a while.” I smiled, despite the fact that I was invited to drink alcohol. I braced myself as my friend filled up the cup for me, yet I was taken aback as I took a sip. There was indeed alcohol in the drink, but it felt more like fruit juice than anything. “Made sure to get something even you would like.” Thoc winked at me.
“I’m going to miss you, Thoc,” I said as I placed my arm around my friend’s shoulder.
“Don’t say it like that, now,” said Thoc. “You’ll visit me won’t you?”
“Of course,” I said. “Mara too, and maybe Fumus on occasion.” Everything felt as if it was coming to a close. The past few days felt so quick. The planning for escaping, the planning for what our lives would be, the ceremony that Fumus conducted, and the party that Mara organized. Everything lead up to this point, this plan.
Thoc and I walked just outside the citadel gates, since it was night not many were around. It was a relatively quiet and peaceful night. Thoc drew out the radio from his pocket, what he would use to call for backup. We sat down, I took the radio as Thoc placed on his new invention. Goggles that could see in the night. They made him look ridiculous, but if it would keep us from being caught by surprise then I wasn’t about to complain.
“Anavari to warband, over.” I said to the radio. There was a pause of silence, a pause that took too long. “Anavari to warband over!” I spoke louder into the box. “Garfas!” My box began to crackle and hum. Then it came.
“Cub get out of there!” Garfas’ voice came so suddenly, I jumped. “Itan is—” The sound cut off.
“Garfas?” I spoke back into the box. “Garfas?!”
“What’s going on?” Asked Thoc.
“I don’t know,” I said as I jumped back on my feet. “We got to get back to the barracks!” We both began to make our way back to the citadel, but we froze as soon as we found several dark figures standing in our way. Their eyes glowed like burning coals. Shamans.
“Flame legion,” said Thoc, voice trembling as he drew out his pistols. I drew my sword. “Anavari, I’ll keep them distracted, you need to get to Garfas.” I shot a look at him, I wasn’t about to leave my friend to fight a group of shamans on his own.
“You’ll die on your own,” I said.
“And they probably sent something worse than shamans to deal with Garfas,” said Thoc. “I’ll be fine, you need to make sure Garfas makes it.” He was right, I hated to admit it, but Garfas was probably in more danger than Thoc and I. I needed to be there, to defend him, to fight by his side.
I sprinted across the citadel, feeling my feet land on the cool metal floor, feeling the warmth in my body slowly drain away, feeling dread consume me. It only made me faster, only made me draw the threads of magic within me with more ease. I could feel the ribbons of darkness coil around me, they made me anxious for a fight, hunger for blood. Dread began to change to excitement. My shrouded form raced to the barracks, I kicked down the door with ease, but the horrifying scene before me forced me to bring my shroud down.
“No…” I said to myself in disbelief, as I saw the corpses of my warband scattered across the floor.