When the World Falls to Darkness

A kingdom at war, a web of truth and lies, a vicious game of friendship and betrayal, and a world that will kill you, whatever path you take.
When the World Falls to Darkness, nobody is safe.
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Beautiful cover by River_Summers.

(I also promise much more frequent updates starting July, when exams are over. :D)

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4. Sorcery

Avalon set Louki down on the floor, tilting her head to examine his face. It was a mess: the nose was bloodied and possibly broken; his eye was blackened; the jaw didn't look exactly as it should.

"You think I should do it?"

Ryuu bit his lip, looking at the unconscious warrior before them.

"If he wakes up and sees you using magic..." Ryuu trailed off, leaving the possibility hanging in the air. Avalon looked at Louki again.

"I'll do it," she decided firmly. "He did come to try and help us, after all. He deserves the help."

She gave Ryuu a sidelong glance, as though seeking his opinion - despite the fact she wouldn't heed his advice if he was going to tell her to leave Louki.

"Fine. But don't fully heal him. If he wakes up with no injuries, he'll know."

The angel grinned triumphantly, kneeling beside the elf and holding both hands out before her. With her hands hovering above his face, she let the energy flow through her veins, filling her body with a strangely burning and yet exhilarating pain as the emerald energy flowed from her palms and into the cuts on Louki's face. Faint light radiated from the glowing energy as Avalon narrowed her moonlight eyes in concentration.

"That's fine," Ryuu interjected quietly, laying a gentle hand on her shoulder.

The magic dispersed into the air, and her companion steadied her as the fatigue began to set in. Louki's eyes flickered briefly, and a groan escaped his lips as he woke.

His nose was no longer broken, his jaw realigned and the bleeding slowed.

She grinned at Louki as he tried to sit up.

"You still alive?" she questioned, and he winced, managing a mumble in reply.

"I've been hurt more before."

His eyes briefly met hers, but flicked away quickly. Avalon could only pray he hadn't realised he'd been healed with magic - even if she wasn't too good with healing sorcery. If he had, then that would only be one more person for her to avoid. Only one more to stay away from, because of the fear and hatred. 

"Good to ride back?" she asked, and Louki nodded slowly. Easily, she pulled him to his feet, catching him as he stumbled. Together, she and Ryuu helped him mount the horse.

"Let's go," she grinned. "There'll be food back at the village."

 

 

When they arrived back, they were greeted like heroes. Louki was given ointment to rub into his wounds; they were gifted with food and heavy praise.

She gulped down the food like a beast, ignoring the eyes of the elves around her. It was always a downside to be an angel in an elven inn, but there was nothing she could do about that. At least these people looked with respect and not fear.

Avalon raised her glass to the other hunters in the room.

"For victory tomorrow," she declared. Around her, elves stood and raised their own glasses, taking up the cry with steely determination, but her own face held simply a grin.

Ryuu had often told her she laughed and grinned more than others. She couldn't agree more.

They would win tomorrow - of course they would. The traps were perfect, the raiding party had dealt with more than she'd dared hoped for, and the ragesap had probably killed a good few of them. And there were still enough for her to fight tomorrow.

Finishing her third plate of food, she got up.

"I'm going to see Louki," she announced, and Ryuu nodded. Striding from the room, she headed towards the healing tree, where - hopefully - Louki would still be under treatment.

She entered through the wooden door, folding in her wings as she stepped through.

Louki sat in a corner with his back to her.

"Why'd you come after us?" she inquired.

Louki looked up at her, turning his head to examine her face. Avalon walked over and collapsed beside him.

"You're my allies."

Avalon laughed. "So? Allies don't usually do that. That's what friends do, most of the time. Are we friends, Louki?"

He sighed. "Perhaps."

In some ways, she guessed, he was a little like Ryuu. Neither liked conversing with people they didn't know overly well, which just meant she'd either have to keep pressing for an answer, or wait for him to tell her. Right now, he was injured and she didn't want to irritate him.

"Well, thanks for coming back for us."

She stood. Left the room.

There were some dwarves to ambush.

 

 

Avalon perched on the branch, perfectly still. Fingers of dawn were touching the sky, splashing it with a beautiful concoction of orange and pink.

She took an arrow from her quiver, notched it to the bowstring, and pulled it back. One of the guards was in her sight, a perfect target for the ragesap arrow. Aim. Hold. Release.

The guard screamed in agony as the arrow pierced his right arm, and Avalon shot the next arrow at another guard.

The first was already trembling as the poison spread through him. Ragesap wouldn't kill you. If you were poisoned with it, and weren't shot by your own allies before you killed them, you would simply collapse and wake up with a blinding headache.

Watching with a smirk on her face, Avalon observed the scene of catastrophe beneath her perch, almost laughing as the first guard lost his mind to the ocean of rage and turned on his friends, splitting the skull of the dwarf woman next to him without so much as a second thought.

Three dwarves were dead before they could kill him, and by that time the second victim had impaled another with his spear.

One of the dwarves looked up at her, his eyes brimming with anger and humiliation. She grinned, waved, and took off.

Avalon flew above the canopy of leaves, free of the restricting forest as she soared above the leaves, her jet black hair streaming out behind her as the sun warmed her wings in an almost welcoming embrace. There had been a time when she would have been terrified right now - terrified of the impending battle, the height at which she flew.

But she'd seen so many fights, soared so many times. None of that really scared her any more.

What scared her now was loosing Ryuu.

The cold air ran cooling fingers through her hair as she sped back towards the village. She hadn't been assigned to protect the village. The time when she and Ryuu had been assigned tasks had long since passed - ever since they'd disobeyed their leaders' orders and had executed their own plan with perfection. After that, they'd been allowed free reign.

Avalon could only be glad that this particular fight was going so well. She'd been anxious that the dwarves had been hiding a Guardian. And that would have been disaster in its purest form.

Guardians... Avalon found them intriguing. Sometimes, when people talked about them, she could only wish to speak to one. Creatures - intelligent creatures - who had two forms, one a breathtaking creature, the other a humanoid being with pointed ears and tainted skin.

They had never fought a Guardian before, but Avalon had seen them in chains. Any Guardians were locked up and used as mere weapons. So below the 'Alpha races' that to torture a Guardian was seen as acceptable.

Maybe that was why Avalon wanted to speak with them. Maybe it was because of the look in their eyes when the other elves took them away, for slavery or worse.

Because despite everything she had ever been told, Avalon could not help but pity them. She knew she shouldn't. To allow them freedom would naturally mean the downfall of the Alpha races. It had been hundreds of years since Guardians had been treated almost as though they were gods. The only way to stop it had been to reduce them to lesser beings - and since the war had started, reducing them to weapons had only been natural.

Anything but that would allow them to surge up again. To reclaim their position as the superior race. And Avalon valued her freedom too greatly to allow such a thing.

The village came into view, and Avalon swept down, her huge midnight blue wings skimming the treetops as she descended.

Louki and Ryuu were standing together in silence as Avalon came down towards them, neatly landing before the duo.

"You're looking better," she grinned to the traveller. Louki gave a slight nod of his head in agreement, otherwise did nothing.

"You get many of them?" Ryuu asked, and she laughed in reply. Taking this as a positive answer, Ryuu beckoned. "Shou wants us."

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