The essence of magic, a mystical ash, a resonance of light and memory, settles to the ground like falling snow. Time comes into focus on the two, as reality recovers existence and the shroud of blindness clears like smoke on ice. The substrate, that is the sheen of Nickolas is reclaiming his face as he sits up straight again, as if of a morning rise. Nickolas checks himself and comes to find that Merlin has blasted one of the wine sacks of blood covering him in a thick indulgent coat of crimson disappointment.
Nickolas looks over himself but rest his head saying, “This is not all my blood.”
“Fuck’s sake. All of that for nothing.”
“Help me up.”
“Can you continue?”
“Yes I can,” said Nickolas, checking the bags, “this one is intact.”
Merlin replied, “Good than we go, if you’re sure you’re able.”
Nick complains, “Partially a waste and more so a mess,” as he looked over his clothes, sitting up, the palms of his hands still on the ground.
“It is hardly our concern,” said Merlin. His eyes shut, his head tilted back, looking to the sky through his eyelids, surely covering his rolling eyes.
“Are these your friends Merlin?” said Nickolas, looking over the brush at the tree line, out along the path.
“Let’s go see how their friendly intentions are.”
“, and reconvert their attention.”
Nickolas and Merlin have not a need to run any further through the wood, none at all, because the soldiers that approach are travailing the rising path toward them, their complaints are close enough to be heard in mentions of the incline of the mountain’s countermeasures. The first confrontation is to be with both troops, seemingly unarmed, each very slender and dressed in red uniforms of straps and belted sleeves. Merlin stood dumbfounded at how Nickolas restarted and heads to the open path, as quickly as is done.
As Merlin stands in wait of his own personal sage knowledge congruence with new information, whatever is his motive, he gives his mind moments to catch up with circumstances, as Nickolas walks over the overgrowth at the edge of the woods. Stepping out, still soaked and dripping blood, notably looking as if he had just murdered a bear with his teeth, ready for a morning dip, or a sunbath. “Allow me,” Nickolas said at the forest’s edge.
Nickolas steps out into the path and they stop trudging forward, cautiously approaching Nickolas, no longer angry with their own feet or the climate, fully scowling with bloodshot stares at him, not for certain, if he was someone having escaped death by their army prior, or a maniac of the wood. They drew their weapons each, ready to kill him hence. As this they do, one of they, the syndrome of pawns of dictators, reaches into his lapel, and pulls out a small bag, next to a short sword with a broad handle. Thomas at this time pulls out a small dagger, from his side, beneath his remaining clothes, obvious to both of them, as the shirt stained and tattered from having the run-in with the bear just only moments ago.
“Jump over the edge.” The first of the two said to Nickolas, giving them cause to laugh.
“You first,” he replied.
“What are you going to do, prick us?” said the second tawdry soldier.
“It’s so I can get in close to see your eyes when I do real damage.”
“You’ll what?” said the soldier laughing again, whom stands slightly taller than Nickolas stands, alongside an equally tall sentry, one gulping at his breath and hand shaking, the other still as of yet, reaching into his pocket.
The show of suspense breaks ground as the first soldier throws a black powder wrapped in a loose cotton bundle at Nickolas. It gets into his eyes but does nothing else, the powder drifts around them all, adding insult to missing injury, peppering the blood drying on his face, the rest taken out to sea.
“The bad news is, you two are decoys,” he said as the two looked together, than back to Nickolas. Nickolas twists at his waist, towards the forest line, looking for Merlin’s exit from the trees, though there is none. Without finding him, he shouts into the forest, “Its gunpowder,” and has a small adequate laugh, as he turns back smiling through a red and black mask. The two guards gain their deserved anxiety and rattled, take up their swords, but with notice of the approach of a third, Merlin lets a blast from the forest line, hitting the soldier closest to the edge, knocking him over the bluff, into the sea.
“Nickolas! Do not play with your food,” Merlin said, stepping out from the forest edge. “Assured,” Nickolas mutters to himself. Nickolas rushes the remaining other guard and begins to fight with him, blade to blade he fights the guard with an arm behind his back. Even as the guard runs to the forest, Nickolas chases him, making it to the fleeing guard’s side as the guard turns back the other direction to see where follows Nickolas. Before the thick forest, Nickolas renders him unconscious by pushing his head into a tree as he turned to look back and laughter and gasps of breath and moans of the soldier immediately ensues and Merlin puts on his hat behind, out on the terracotta path.
Merlin steps down, now without The Silver Sword, and stops Nickolas from getting zealous with defeating the combatant sent from below, halting any further violence by way of grabbing his arm before Nickolas could even kneel.
As the third sentinel approaches, steadily and low in the shoulders, Merlin steadfastly sends from his pocketed collection, a glowing stone toward him, causing an immense blast before his feet, sending him spinning in the air, backwards head over feet, in reverse, over the fallen log on the path.
In projection, his feet hit the fallen tree with high branches, now over the cliff, and he, in finality, spun vigorously in his flight. The determined sentry gathers his senses, viciously approaching again, once more with precaution, stepping over the fallen tree trunk, as Merlin reaches into his bag of stones, and pulled another, this one a black agate stone of negative radiance, of bright darkness, in the palm of his hand. As it begins to glow, the soldier becomes overwhelmed and in full feared retreat, runs back down the slope, shedding some of his affects along the way, as fast as his legs can carry him.
Merlin, “That is never a good result.”
Nick, “Fine, Run I was going to make you, suffer.” Giving emphasis on the second half of the latter word, he shouted down the path that spanned along the edge near the cliff, which seems to cause the fleeing soldier to fall and tumble like a wheel, only to pick himself up again when the momentum gives and continues to the chaos below the mountain.
Merlin says while standing at Nickolas’ shoulder, closer to the trees, “No need to antagonize, he’ll be back.”
Nickolas says while standing at Merlin’s shoulder, closer to the cliff, “With more I imagine.”
“It would have been better if warned they weren’t.”
“It’s not pleasing, give me the bag, I suppose you're quite careless as you fight.”
After off carrying the strap from over his shoulder and across his neck after noticing, much as Merlin had, that one of the bags were not broken, Nickolas hands the bag over to a Merlin of chagrin saying, “Set me free of my bonds and take my blood.”
Nickolas turns to face him, takes the bag strapped over his shoulder and neck off from around him, and looks into the distance again, much as Merlin has been and for a moment, they stand mesmerized by the city under siege.
As the two rush down the hill, they fail to see one of the northern fleet's enormous white snow ships heading in their direction along the coast, rushing to the city in chaos and the merchant fleet challenging from the south, having already passed the city heading toward the massive white vessels.
Nickolas not so much yet focused notices Merlin’s skin, “Merlin look to your wrist,” he stated, as soon as he notices what is happening to Merlin’s arm. He looks to his wrist and sees a band of black ink from within his skin begin to glow. Merlin stops and looks back, up the path and as he turns back instantly, to notice, alongside Nickolas, that the motus in which Ana had left the city was happening, a great white light, from within the walls of the city.
From far above, on the edge of a rigid burred bluff slowly declining to the city, they can see the pillar of light from the center of the city go dim, as the circle barely seen over the city walls grows bright and as quickly fades to the red light of a city lit by fire. From its center, a concentration of light launches upward, the same way a raindrop travels a strand of a spider’s web. Into the clouds along a coursing beam of shining light, a burst of light travels upward faster than a thought, along the line and then all together fades leaving the part of the city where it had been, heavily damaged, remitting the walls to falling in and crumbling slightly, an explosion from the city center. Another man is running up the path.
“We should wait for this one.”
“I had planned on it.”
The man rushing up the hill is Horus, armed and dangerous, running as fast as he can possibly, not knowing whether Merlin has even run his errand, or not. Merlin sees his friend running up the hill screaming to them and they aptly rush down the hill to meet him.
Horus, “Run, turn back, it’s better to,” huffing and puffing and catching his breath, “better to take to the north, less food, more welcome. “ Oh Merlin, it is you. ” They encounter, the king not in his clothes, but in disguise, he reveals to them his identity, and when asked about retrieving and taking him the blood, they reply in fair and hasty response.
Horus, “Did you get it, good,” he said, Merlin taking the pouch off from ‘round his body.
Merlin says, “It is here, take it.”
Horus, “What happened to you?” he said looking at Nickolas, still catching his breath.
“What?” replied nick, in a smug and arrogant tone.
Horus, “Who is this?”
Merlin, “What is happening? Tell us Horus.”
Horus, “They have what they think will get them into the city of lights.”
Merlin, “They have no reason?”
Horus, “They are set on conquest.”
Nick, “But they can’t use what's inside, and only the light bringers can live there.”
Horus, “But they head there, killing my city on the way, their ships have already launched.”
“I cannot stop such a fleet,” said Merlin.
The armada moves in force, speeding along, most with oars stretching out from their sides, like spiders, crawling along the water, towards two ships much larger, the difference seen, even from such great heights.
“But you can show me the door and send me back, hurry, we still have time,” said Horus, reaching to Merlin and grabbing him by the fabric, “Look to that,” he said pointing to the chaotic city downhill, “I can repair such things.”
Nickolas, “Go back?”
Merlin, “He is going back.”
Nickolas, “He is going back.”
Horus, “What else you have not told him?”
Nickolas, “What else is there to know, friend?”
Horus, “I can stop this, but we must hurry, friend.”
Merlin, “Obviously, you have not, or we would not be here.”
Horus stops confoundedly, pondering this fate shortly, and replies to them as they again, move closer to the city with Horus taking the lead, “You mean that I would not be here. I am not going to a where, but to a when, to be a hero.” Ahead of them he stops and turns to them, “I have to try Merlin, and you can save a few before you leave the land again.” He continues without answer, walking step by hasty step.
Merlin halted and spoke loudly, Nickolas waiting alongside, “Wait.” A silence crowded the air as a scowling wizard, last in line of progression of their descent down the long narrow path, looms as he speaks. “Give me that dagger,” said the wizard to Horus.
The king without a crown stops, pausing before turning back to Merlin and then replies, “Why should I?”
“Because you owe me, and obviously, I do not think you survive your trip or this would not be happening,” Merlin replied, as he lifted his feet, and began walking once more along toward Horus.
“Fine, here, shall we do this?” said the king, tossing the dagger, which Merlin catches by the handle, as he steps to his side. He holds the dagger in hand to his side; he turns his head to the knife. Confused is Nickolas but he plays along, counting the seconds between the lines, as Horus seems in no hurry at all. Merlin slips the dagger into his sleeve and they unanimously depart.
“Did you see Ana leave?” Horus asks concernedly.
“We did. Nick here noticed my sigil ignite.”
“Did she make mention of me?”
“The devil is in the details.”
The three now travel together downhill to the city, the fields without, in flames. Merlin troubled by the ease of Horus’ ability to release the knife to his possession asks, “What are you not telling us Horus?” as he stopped the three from proceeding.
Horus looks up at a cloud-connected haven of the sky, and looks back briefly as he walks saying, “Be careful, the Totem mercenaries are at work.”
“Wait,” said Merlin again halting in his footsteps, “You didn't say that there would be any blood bugs.”
Horus answers, “Only a dozen or so.” Merlin looks to the city, with a contemptuous stare, the grey in his eyes beginning to crawl through the porcelain white of his sultry stare.
Nickolas intervenes, “Or so? What’s a totem?”
Merlin, still staring at Horus and the city behind him says, “You have heard that the body is a vessel.”
Nickolas, “Yeah, more than you know.”
Merlin, “They seem to live in their heads, and can switch them onto a new body, if it suits them more.”
Nickolas anxiously asked, “Them, their heads?” and gulped a dry swallow of nervous tension down into his stomach.
Horus, “They are highly trained and skilled deadly headless assassins that will put their head on your shoulders boy.”
Merlin, “He is older than both of us.”
Nick vacantly asks, “How many?”
“Maybe twelve,” he answered.
Horus, “Merlin, this war is older than today, but if we don’t go, I’ll have no chance stop it.”
Nickolas now stands oblivious to the two others and to their conversation, and begins a staring at the city with contempt, the beginning of a systematic panic. Merlin put his hand on Nickolas’ shoulder and says to him, “There easy to fall, they’re just a bit unsightly.”
From that, they go into the surrounding fields before the castle, where the guards can be seen firing green flames in waves and torrents of fire, at the mercenaries from their unique staff-like weapons from near the city wall, on and below.
A few of the villainous so-called blood bugs surmount and scale the small city walls, giving the guards hell at the tops before obviously jumping to the center, within the solid outward wall. The city is among anarchy with explosions, fires set, and people fleeing the city by boat into the ocean across the watery battle lines, out to the vaguely known distances of the sea, and by foot into the hills away from the ravished metropolis.
The army may possibly see the people flee from their failing fortifications, but makes no effort to alter course and intercept. Undeterred, the army marches toward the city, followed by a single row of archers the width of their formation, followed by a small set of rows, of unwavering and patient cavalry lines, at half the pace of the groundlings, watching their men progress forward, under black and red flags.
In the tall grass surrounding the paddocks, in the paths leading into the city, they find their first Totem warrior, black as death and evil as much, hunched with hands near the ground and snarling among the amassing battle that is swiftly encompassing the coastline of their entire country. Its eyes, mouth and hair are black as a toxic night, but the body wrapped by tattered strips of fabric, in the style of self-bandaged cloths, like a mummy of the sands of the great deserts of the cursed earth. The ghastly creature has visible sharpened teeth, clenching a short blade without a handle in one hand, which cuts into its own, awhile dripping a vile and dark blood. Its veins flow onto a slain farmhand who lies innocently below, with deathly devices carving into him as if for play, tossing pieces of flesh to the side as it suddenly notices the marching approach of the three men, who implicitly are dressed for war.
It smiles, its dark eyes unwavering, devoid of expression, and rises to its feet and begins to drift toward them slightly floating above the ground swiftly, only being able to hunch over with bent knees. Not a single piece of the creature stands straight and tall, as it cries out to them without vocalizing more than a raspy voice, and only a whisper came from within its throat, as it glides along, its toes dragging. A whisper’s speech of another dialect ensues after the initial wail of the monster with a spider’s tongue, and the king strikes it through with an arrow to its chest, which protrudes enough to hold it to anything soft as the wood of the fence and a second into the fence in a clear miss.
Behind the toxic smelling creature with peeling skin and black blood dripping, it turns to see the arrow’s insertion point, looking back to them while snarling like a rabid wolf, snickering of ignorance at Horus’ loose shot. Merlin then causes a great wind to blow, a wind of loud cleanliness forces the creature into the fence where the arrows run it through and holds it, and Nickolas runs up to it, jumping the fence at the cretin’s side, circumventing it before it could defend itself, to cut off its head.
Nickolas grabs the fowl creature’s skull by its hair and it tears away, much to Nickolas' surprise, and reaches to Nickolas to return the attack still impaled and fastened. He reaches his hand to the side of the demon’s face, putting a thumb into its eye, with a twist and a final slice of little effort he severs the putrid creatures head. The head falls sullenly to the ground and rolls, spilling darkly thick black blood like a bucket of paint. With young vigor, emanating a sense of confidence, he jumps down and upon landing, punts the head of the creature into the grasses of the distance.
“It had no eye.” He said, dusting himself as he begins to show signs of discomfort.
Horus asked a disheveled Nickolas, “And the hair?”
“Fowl enough to fear,” Nickolas replied.
“And now you understand,” Said Merlin who had in the time since his actions, taken his new dagger and began balancing it by its point on his finger, with magical ease, and now stands waiting and watching to the sound of marching feet, heard like drums in water, a blade spinning on its point at the end of his finger. Thomas turns and begins to notice the body of the creature turning to fine white ash.
Nick, “What is happening?”
“We must go.” Merlin and the king said, with a new chilling sense of urgent seriousness, in unison. Nickolas looks to Merlin who says, “The witches are coming. Follow…, Quickly.”
“So we must go, post haste Merlin.” Said Horus to a Merlin who was staring at a barely shinning sun through the clouds over the forest horizon, a glow of fire begins to burn into the darkness past the city, against the dark sky slowly burning brighter and brighter into the darkness above the land below the stars.
Directly to the city they jaunt, past many a confused stockyard animal. At the open doors, the prepared men save a guard on their way inside by way of Nickolas finalizing the intruder from behind without notice, as he himself was attempting to quell the palace guard in the same way. “No more squealing pig,” he said just before Nickolas grabs his blade hand and put the trespasser down to forever rest.
Nick with a low and calm voice, revealing a new darkly candor says, “Flawless.” He then spats on the body of the dead insurgent, and stares at the rescued guard. Horus goes over to the guard, bends over and speaks, “Take as many as you can and flee the city, save yourselves or tell this the others, you mustn’t stay I told you.”
“I have nothing left sir,” the random guard said covered in dirt and blood, nearing a break of tears.
“There is always something left sir,” said Nickolas, offering his hand out to the man after having wiped his blade. He did not take his hand and stood up, and leaves out the gateway, indefinitely scarred, essentially forever marred.
As in ritual chaos, fires are lit, innocent are crying, children are running, anarchy is everywhere. A designed city is in battle with ruin, its architecture failing. Staring out, Nickolas is looking to Merlin, who is looking at the damages as Horus slaps him on the shoulder. Without a single word, they move among an inexplicable commotion felling many a foe with swift passage and little notice or opposition. They three, end the lives of eighteen wicked men, each as like tearing through a page in a book. The king leads them into the inner sanctum, where they enter the main hall and find many of the scouts of the enemy, gathered and waiting for them, dressed the same as those they met high on the hill, who turn insipid white and intimidated, once again at the sight of bewildered Nickolas covered in blood.
Horus immediately draws and strikes one of the enemies in their chest near the heart, though they attempted to swat the arrow, failing to do so fell haphazardly backward, uncontrollably waving arms about causing their weapon to slice the face of one of their allies. When this happened, one trespasser then orders the others to, “Kill the survivors.”
Horus, “We've been announced.”
Merlin summons a wind that blows with red sand, gathering them down at the floor and he and King Horus find Nickolas to be excellently skillful at throwing small knives, and with this in only moments, the villains that were awaiting the three heroes, fell to a painful fate.
Nickolas had thrown small blades no larger than carving knives into their throats and such from hidden sheaths in the seam of his trousers that spanned the length of the outside of his leg. Horus follows his actions by finishing things with a long waved dagger. They three, walk through the bodies but Nickolas stops to pick pockets for bounty, these guards were of little contest to their actions.
Merlin scolded him, “Thomas.”
“Earn later, guard now.”
“I had to get the knives, didn’t I?”
“Keep close and your head on straight.”
Nick said in a concerned tone, “Not funny.”
His condescension discernable by the look upon his face, Nickolas stands to join the others, forgetting some of the knives, but taking a much larger one from one of them. “Don’t move,” he said in sarcasm to the dying guards. On to the inner hall, they notice that much of the carnage is keeping to the outer wall by these pirates, drawn to looting of a city more attractive than their mission north, a few of the totem creatures lay dying or dead and strewn about, laying and bleeding out, among twice as many palace guards.
The king’s men are much worse for wear than they had planned to be, holding together tightly as a team to benefit their own defenses, and startle by their entry. These guardsmen with as much damage as the castle are leaning on each other amidst the carnage at a table in the center of the room, in the center of the bodies, in the heart of the castle. The leader of the resistance says, “The city folk have taken losses and gains, but have mostly fled, except for the brave and those of us cornered into the main hall,” as he drops his sword in hand to his side, as blood runs down his arm.
Horus walks across the bodies to speak to his guard at a closer range, “This will all be over soon, tell us what happened.”
“We were too late to warn everyone after we noticed the intruders, when we noticed the fleet a sail, and the army…we all but waited for you sir.”
Horus, “I understand my friend, we all would do the same,” he said and returns to tossing things aside that block the tattered peeling painting on the wall behind them all.
Elite Guard, “What are those things?”
“Demons,” Nickolas seemed to say from beyond the room. He has climbed above the ornate stone doorway to the entrance of the chamber and waits; Merlin glances, notices him above the door, and shakes his head in disbelief. One of the enemies comes in through the door and Nickolas pounces, and battles quickly to his prevail, victory and triumph.
Merlin tosses a bowl of water into the large cauldron that had given the vision of the Dragon Lord’s young and hunted family member, and the water turns to an instant boil on the surface of the contents of the cauldron that moments earlier, held a content that was certainly solid.
King Horus clears the debris and clutter away from before a painting on the wall, Merlin can see through the pillars. Merlin himself walks to him with the empty bowl. Above and surrounding the flaked painting is a stone decoration, carved to seem like curtains pulled away from a stage, not as tall as the doors to the room, but more than a man. Merlin walks over to the wall to see that the curtain has a trench above it, across the length of both sides, while Nickolas fights intruders and sends citizens away that come through the door on the other end of the hall.
“What is this?” Merlin asked Horus.
“This is how it’s done.”
“This is where you want to cross?”
“Yes, don’t worry, this is how they left.”
Merlin said crossly, “They?”
“The old stewards, do it now.”
“This is where I’m glad you’re going, this is cipher’s gate.”
Merlin begins to pour into the ridge above the wall the contents of the last pouch and together he and Horus cast the blood curtain.
With a divine intervention accompanied by incantation, Merlin’s eyes begin to fade of their light, as the king begins an incantation as the wall begins to glow. Merlin seems flushed and his eyes begin to fade to and from neutrality and a solid whiteness. As Merlin pours, the blood turns a dark black on the wall and seems lucid and transparent simultaneously as it pours over the decaying painting, in separate streams down the wall, eventually thinning and spanning the wall as if it lay flat on the ground with a downward wind pushing paint across the surface. The red spans to the edges leaving no space uncovered, the blood turns red than fades until the image seems true as a doorway or a window to another world.
The hall is like a spring storm, taking candle flames with it and offering only watery blue light from another setting sun. Two of the Totem living dead fiends, came crashing through the room, colliding with Nickolas as they pass, sending him to the ground, one latching into one of the king’s men, another next to Merlin, and before anyone could blink, it leaps again through the window in the wall. The blood begins to recede from its boundaries, revealing the antiquated painting beneath, closing quickly and flickering with dark flashes.
“That is why you are going,” Merlin shouted over the commotion.
“We will meet again,” said Horus.
“On better terms.” he replied, looking to him one last time before pushing his friend, through the magic gate.
The king swiftly jumps, having leapt through the passage, as it slips shut, with the sound unexplainable, and then the portal and the king were gone. The lone brackish creature of darkness was still feasting upon the guard, having already torn at him, trying to twist off his head by hand while tearing by teeth at his neck. Merlin grabs a toppled, golden goblet from a ledge in the room, and walks over to the demon; gesturing for Nickolas to come closer with his free hand, and kicks the maniacal creature over on its side and put his foot to the side of its chest.
“Place your foot on the other shoulder Nick.”
Nickolas does the act apprehensively as a guard walks over and raises a broad and massive sword above his head, in preparation of a death strike.
“No wait, like a snake, you must destroy the head,” said Merlin.
“I will,” the elite guard replied adamantly.
Merlin places the goblet on the creatures face and before he let go of it, the creature begins a shrill squawking as the goblet begins to glow. Before Merlin could stand upright, the cup begins to melt into the creatures head, causing it to shake violently. The plague of species does not bear any innocence with a mauled guard lying next to it. Nickolas pulls an empty vial and fills it with the black substance pouring away from the melting metal and fire.
Elite Guard, “What is it?”
Nickolas, “It’s a body snatcher.”
Merlin, “It was a man, now forgotten.”
Merlin thinks about the king on the other side, and the events which are to follow, but then the city begins to rumble from the coast and the room begins to tremble at the seams. The sound is likely result of stray artillery from the ocean. More of the king’s guards enter but Merlin, nonetheless, leaves. Merlin holding the door open says to them as they enter the garden, “Those of you, who can flee the city, because you can or must, go. The rest of you come with me.”
They all step outside at that very moment as Merlin pauses in hesitation. They stop and notice and turn to face him with confused expression, wounds, broken armor, and damaged weapons. Nickolas stands in the doorway wearing the empty pouch from their adventure.
Merlin, “Take who you can and flee, more of their army marches currently.”
Nickolas, “Go to your families and save them...”
They darted at the immediate utterance of these words. Nickolas pulls a small bottle, as if blown for a child from behind himself, taking a drink and tossing it to Merlin, spilling some of the contents. The two begin to pass the little bottle back and forth, and when it shortly emptied, they tossed it to the wall beside them.
“Where to battle next?” asked Nickolas.
“We head east to the wind trail,” said Merlin as he checks his pockets and sleeves.
“You do not want to stay?”
“How many wars have you stayed, to fight?”
“You are very true my friend. Somewhat callow though.”
“I cannot fight an army, even if you can.”
With Merlin’s decision, they leave the city, while to the south along the coast are smaller boats lowering from the sides of the larger ones at sea. Their sailors are jumping into them as the much smaller vessels lower over the side. The ships are not abandoning the whole of the fleet as they head directly to the coast of the cliffs of the cape to the north, but are boarding the ice ships. The larger ships sent for convergence are not sinking, nor have even confronted the northern vessels nearing battle. The road east is slightly uphill, laying along a plain ahead and somewhat left was the tree line where into the forest Merlin could at least disguise himself as the wood fauna or in fact hide within a tree, and let Nickolas deal with things in his own way.
The two, Merlin and Nickolas, made it to the edge of the thick flora, a part of the Garden of Eden at the edge of a once erected now crumbling agora. At the forest's edge, Merlin looks out to the sea, witnessing a fleet of ships moving north and two much larger ice ships, floating into the heart of the southern fleet just as the southern army begins to rise over the southern horizon of the rolling hills, whose marching feet can be heard from the distance.
The thunderous sounds of their uniform marching of conformity can be heard far from them, as they stomp the earth and sing to the god of war certain that the next city will fall, like a millipede in a hobble, causing a sense of urgency in Nickolas that made him race, leaving Merlin unable to follow at pace.
The first of the two winter born ships is cutting into the fleet, firing its weapons, lightning arcing from the sails and sending flames to the nearby vessels and pirates, when it began to sink, from the surrounding attacks and as it were from melting. As it sank three greyish dragons, burst upward into flight from each of the white ships’ decks and headed north. Behind it were two more ships but the day has not been as long as imagined and the suns fully set, the occupants do not abandon the following ships, and both of the suns are inoperable as the night defeats the day.
The day’s events reveal its awesomeness to Merlin who stands at the edge of the trees, waiting for an angry beast to crawl out of the ocean. One could almost hear two setting suns crashing to the ground behind him, not swaying his attention to the carnage. He imagined lighting the ocean on fire one last time before the night overruled the day. A marching army with fire in hand, and a burning city before a fleet of ships with lanterns on board that made them seem like sailing lightning bugs are all that is left of a serene dream, full of his fonder memories.
Nickolas rushes back to Merlin’s presence and asks, “Are we staying?”
“No, the storm is for the open sea.”
A cold air begins to flow, from behind Merlin blowing out to the sea, blowing the fires out on land, within the walls and at sea, as a cold mist begins to fall to the ground.
The darkness of winter seems to hold within the clouds, as turrets on the great northern fortress in sight show new lights beginning to glow that scatter along its defensive posts. The darkness of night crawls out from the land and over the sea. Wrapping his clothes tighter, he turns into the forest of the night.