Free {Kingdoms of War}

An outlaw, tuned to kill. A shifter, transformed from myth to monster. A prince, denied rightful claim to the throne. An assassin, adapted to survive and to kill. Four monsters, and a common enemy to unite them.

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21. Chapter Twenty

It almost amazed him, how much safer he felt fighting beside the two dark mages than with his own comrades; than with people who had followed him for years. The connection was strange, but strong.

They cleared the tower with ease. When they finally reached the top, Silver kicked the door open, dashing in. Lux followed, running to stand slightly behind him in the room.

Before them were five figures: a man clad in royal blue, cowering behind four others. Three of the sentinels were clad in armour, but the other, a woman, wore simple trailing silk of white and azure, with blonde hair let loose to flow down her shoulders. Evidently, the man in blue was the leader.

"We shall not let you hurt him," declared one of the armoured bodyguards. Silver laughed - that cold, heartless ringing sound that made Lux shudder uneasily.

"Oh? I'd like to see you try to stop us," Silver mocked the man. For a moment, the two simply glared. It was Silver who moved forwards first, blasting a hole through the man's chest, armour and all. A scream ripped from the lips of the leader, and Lux narrowed his eyes. Silver, apparently, was serious. And his opponents were going to pay with their lives.

Surging towards the next armour-clad enemy, the mage deflected a sword with a shield of darkness, unsheathing a blade and driving it through one of the weak spots in the man's armour.

"As I said," he commented briefly, wrenching the knife from the dead man's body, "I'd like to see you try and stop us."

Lux noticed how the woman didn't move, instead allowing her comrade to charge at Silver. Perhaps the man was simply using his wife as a shield, though the woman had a knife strapped to her belt.

The prince didn't even need to see Silver's decisive blow to know that he would be victorious. Falling and hitting the floor with a resounding thud, the final guard gasped out a strangled cry, soon cut short as Silver slammed the guard's own spear down through his back.

"You're the leader, I presume?" Silver asked, tilting his head as he examined the final man. Tears had formed in the his eyes, and Lux almost pitied him. Such a humiliating death... And yet Silver had a point. They couldn't simply allow criminals to trick them, and to escape unscathed.

"Step aside, unless you want the same fate. And drop the knife," Silver ordered the woman. With a glance to her husband and back, the woman clenched her teeth, unsheathing the knife and dropping it to the floor. It made a ringing clatter on the stone as she stepped aside.

Lux watched as Silver approached the leader, walking deliberately slowly.

"Why did you do it?" he demanded. "Why did you try to trick us?"

"You were stealing the best business! Everybody was talking about you, hiring you because you were so good at everything," he stammered, words merging together and spilling from his mouth. Terror had turned his voice into a wreck, but Silver was unfazed.

"You tried to kill us because of that?" Silver growled. His eyes seemed to emit light in the incandescent luminance of the glowstones.

"I-We-" 

Before he could finish, Lux glimpsed, from the corner of his eyes, the sharp movement of the woman as she darted forwards, her hands shooting towards Silver. Lux's lips opened in a cry of warning, but a cannon of water smashed into Silver, throwing him backwards. He hit the wall on the far side of the room, and slumped, groaning, to the floor.

"Silver!" Lux screamed, running towards him. The older boy's eyes flickered weakly, his jaw clenching as he tried to stand. "Wait!" Lux demanded. The woman's laughter, crueller, colder, more hateful than Silver's, echoed through his ears as his eyes scanned his comrade's body for any visible injuries. What should he do? He'd never been taught about treating wounds!

"Run..."

The croaked word barely left Silver's lips, and Lux swallowed.

"No," he said decisively.

"A foolish decision," the woman's voice mocked from behind him. "I suppose I'll have to kill you both, in that case."

Lux spun around, standing protectively before Silver. He wouldn't let her just kill the mage who had saved his life; the mage who had connected to him somehow.

"You won't hurt him again," Lux growled, clenching his fists and digging his nails into his skin to try and stop the trembling. The woman was terrifying - easily a more powerful mage than Lux had ever seen before, with power verging on the same level as Silver's.

"Oh?" the woman sneered. "Just watch me."

She lifted her arms, and water seemed to form from the air, coiling around her arms like serpents. Gripping his knives, Lux faced her, resisting the urge to run.

"Lux!" Silver's managed a strangled, spluttered demand.

"I'm not leaving," Lux insisted. His voice was shaking, and the woman laughed again.

"Don't pretend to be a hero, little boy. It never ends well." With that, she swept her arms forwards, and the serpent of water snaked towards him. Lux tried to duck beneath it, but the water slammed into him, smashing the breath from his chest before engulfing him completely. Instantly, he was holding his breath, frantic to breathe while trying to sustain the few remnants of air within him.

Fear shot through his body, and he writhed within the grip of the water, trying desperately to break free. Through the wall of water, he could glimpse the distorted image of the woman, stalking closer to both he and Silver. Around one arm was the coil that was connected to the prison of water Lux was trapped within. In the other, a long, curved blade.

Silver. She was going to kill Silver.

Frantic urgency flooded him with terror, with horror, with pain. She couldn't. She couldn't take away the first person who knew exactly how Lux felt!

He did the only thing he could: acted upon the instinct of a cornered animal, allowing the power to take over. An ocean of agony washed over him as the power ripped free, finally unleashed. The pain - oh, gods, the pain.

Blinding light lit the room as electrical energy erupted from Lux's body, shooting through the water.

A scream.

And then, he was free of the aquatic prison, dropping to the floor and gasping for breath, spluttering out mouthfuls of water and convulsing in a violent coughing fit. Somehow, Lux pushed himself weakly to his knees. A numbness had taken over his body, replacing the strangely addictive pull of the lightning's power.

He turned to the dark mage, eyes wide with the shock of using his magic again. He was met by silver eyes, unfamiliarly startled and shocked. Instantly, his eyes fell. Lux had lied to Silver. He'd lied to the boy who'd kept him alive, the one who might have understood everything.

Lux had kept it from him, because of that one lingering fear - that he was not human, that he was a monster.

There was a blur of black as Silver flew up, throwing himself somehow at something behind the prince. Lux turned around, surprise glistening in his eyes, as Silver collided with the leader of the criminals. The two fell to the cold stone floor, and Lux scrambled to his feet. Already, the leader had pinned Silver to the ground, using his weakened state against him. Slamming his fist against Silver's jaw, the leader snarled out a vicious cry of rage.

"Silver!" Lux screamed. Throwing himself forwards, Lux unsheathed a throwing knife, plunging it into the leader's flesh.

Blood.

Another scream.

And then, silence.

For a moment, Lux could only stand there, trembling. Then his knees buckled beneath him, and he fell beside Silver, still shaking.

How had the woman been so strong? So powerful?

Lux tried to gasp in more mouthfuls of air, the exhaustion of the fight refusing to let go. He tried to push himself up, but he was too weak. Instead, Lux turned his head, letting out a relieved sigh as he saw the faint rise and fall of Silver's chest.

The glowstones in the ceiling looked down on him as his eyes slid shut, and he finally fell to the realm of unconscious fatigue.

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