The Valkyrie War (Act 2)

With war officially declared on Merope, the tension between the humans and the kree is greater than ever, with Amelia and Ellisia stuck in the middle of it all. They promised to stay together no matter what and without any secrets, but as more secrets are revealed, the pressure mounts and when King James starts his plan in motion, they will find that it's not as easy as they had hoped. With the battle lines forming and sides being chosen, will the two ever have the happy, quiet life they so desire? Or will their differences be far too great to handle and force them to turn against each other? Don't miss the epic second act and conclusion to this beautifully tragic love story, of the star-crossed lovers, born from different worlds.

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3. Believe in Me, Believe in You, but With These Lies, What Can We Do?

*** “The Royal Estate”, Garmin-The West Province, Spring Year 2529 ***

          Amelia knocks on her father’s door and he waves her inside. She enters and shuts the door. She’s feeling slightly nervous, but at the same time, she knows if there’s anyone she can be open with, it’s her dad. So, she approaches him and in a gentle voice says, “Papa, is this an ok time?”

He stops writing and turns his attention to her with a smile. “Of course, I’ve always got time for you Baby Love. You’ve got great timing actually, because the car is arriving as we speak. In just a few more minutes, you’ll be on your way to a peaceful life. I’m sure you must be excited.”

“Actually, about that Papa. That’s why I’m here. I decided that I don’t want to go away. I realized that all I really want is here and as long as I have that, I am at peace. I’m sorry to decide this at the last moment after you put in all the effort, but I won’t run away. Even if mom wishes.”

James looks slightly surprised, but his smile doesn’t fade. “I see. You changed your mind overnight then?” Amelia nods. “So, if I may guess, you spoke with Elli, didn’t you?”

“I did. I hope you’ll understand Papa, I’m sure you had your reasons for not inviting her, but I just couldn’t go my entire birthday without seeing her. So, I snuck out to see her. I’m sorry.”

He doesn’t seem angry at all and he actually laughs. “It’s fine Lia, I know very well that you sneak off to her from time to time. It’s the only reason I haven’t had that tunnel system closed. So, I figured as much that you’d go to her. However, I didn’t expect that she’d talk you down. You were so sure last night, did speaking with her change your mind so much?”

“Well, she didn’t really change my mind. It was more so, she helped me reach a better clarity on the situation and it allowed me to adjust my feelings on it. I don’t think running away is the answer, so although I still don’t want the Valkyrie Princess title, it’s still my birthright and as long as Elli will be by my side, I know I’ll conquer it and be a worthy successor.”

“Wow, you sound so strong and brave, just like your mother.” His tone suddenly shifts. He pulls Amelia to him, as though to embrace her in a hug. Thinking nothing of it, she easily falls into his grip. “Oh, my darling Lia, why couldn’t you have just stayed the same? Everything would’ve been so much easier that way.” His tone becomes darker and full of bitterness.

Amelia finally picks up on the change in him and attempts to pull away as she says, “Papa, what are you talking about?” She finds his grip hasn’t loosened and she’s trapped. “Papa? Why are-?”

Her speech is abruptly cut short by her loss of consciousness. James releases her pressure point and supports her body as she collapses. “You don’t have to worry about a thing Baby Love, just sleep for a while.” He carries her over to the sofa and lays her down gently. “Garrett!”

“Yes Sir?!” A tall man in a guard uniform enters the study. He waits for his King’s orders.

“Has the carriage arrived already? Also, is Schmidt ready to head out with his team?”

“Yes Sir, the carriage has just arrived and Schmidt is waiting out back, as you requested.”

“Very good. Then please, take Amelia to the carriage and tell Schmidt to be on his way.”

“Yes Sir!” He walks over to Amelia and gently picks her up and hoists her over his shoulder.

“I want you to go along too Garrett, I’m entrusting you with her safety. I know this may seem very crooked, what I’m doing, but understand it’s for the greater good. More importantly, understand that I love my daughter and would never want to see any harm come to her. So, if anything happens to her, if even the tiniest strand of her hair is plucked, I’m holding you accountable, understand?” He looks at Garrett intensely, quite serious and he knows it.

“Of course, Sir, I understand. I will protect her with my life and strike down anyone I must.”

“Good. Be discrete on your way out. If anyone asks, she collapsed from the news of her mother and you’re taking her to an undisclosed location for her protection until we can regain order.”

“Or course Sir. If I may ask though, has the Queen really been confirmed dead?”

“It hasn’t been publicly announced as of yet, but yes, it’s been confirmed. The students are being briefed as we speak I believe. I will be making the official announcement to the entire province within the hour. I expect you to be long gone by then, understood?”

“Yes Sir! I’ll be on my way then. Please take care your majesty in this difficult time.”

“Of course, I will, thank you Garrett. You have a safe journey as well. Send notice when you arrive there.” Garrett nods and then with Amelia in tow, walks out of the study. “Hah.” James let’s out a deep sigh and sits back down at the desk. “That’s what I’d like to say, but with her body unrecovered, it’s hard to say with certainty. Even in death she makes things difficult.” He sighs again and then returns to writing his speech. It’s one of morning as well as new hope. He may not have found her body, but there’s no way she survived. The Queen is dead, surely.

          “Where is she!” Elli charges into the study, not even considering her manners as usual.

James drops his pen and lets out another deep sigh. “I believe all you students were briefed.”

“Yes, the Principle fed us the drivel you told him too, but I know that’s not true.”

“Oh, how can you be so sure Miss Almont? Do you think I’d lie about my own wife’s death?”

“I just find it very convenient that the Queen is dead so suddenly, at the same time you convince the very person who’s meant to succeed her to go away. Also, you seem very calm for someone who just lost his “beloved” wife. Amelia had already decided not to go away, so the only way you could’ve gotten her to go was by force. So, I’m asking again, where is she?!”

“You know, you’ve gotten quite beside yourself since you’ve moved to Garmin, have you realized this? I think you feel that just because you’re screwing my daughter, that gives you the right to appear before me as you please and make demands like this. Have you forgotten who I am? I’m your King! I can have you arrested for treason or put to death in an instant!”

Elli smirks. “So, there he is. That’s the real James, the one Amelia and probably the Queen doesn’t really know. The James my mother told me about. The evil, spiteful, bigot James! I think Amelia sees me as more than the person she’s screwing, but it’s good to know how you see me now. I’ve always thought you were just putting on an act, just like Toby did. But the difference is, you’ve been doing it with malicious intent, Toby is just a typical vain Prince with a big ego.”

James scowls and approaches Elli aggressively, with his hand on his sword. “I could kill you.”

Elli scoffs. “I’d like to see you try. You know, as much Amelia hated her mother and adored you, I’ve finally realized that her mother was the most sensible one in this family. I don’t believe for a second she didn’t know your underhanded dealings and I’m willing to bet when she decided to stop pretending, you ended her. Am I close? Actually, let me go a bit further. I think her mother was never as much of a hard ass as she appeared to be. It doesn’t make sense that a woman who herself didn’t want the throne and rebelled, would really see it as an odd thing that Amelia would do the same. I think you convinced her that being hard on Amelia was better, forcing her to show affection only in the dead of night when Amelia would never know. You wanted Amelia to hate her, so that she’d turn to you and only you. You wanted to have complete control over Amelia and you got it through a fake sense of love and trust. I bet the Queen got sick of having her daughter hate her and wanted to stop the act, but you didn’t want that. So, you had to come up with a quick scheme to get the Queen out of the picture and then get Amelia away, so that you would by right, have full control over the kingdom. As we both know, all you want is power.”

 Livid, James grabs Elli by her shirt collar, but she doesn’t even flinch as he pulls her close. She simply smirks, daring him to try something. “Listen, you may think that you have free reign here because you’re with Amelia, but you should understand that it’s only possible because of me. I call the shots around here, I always have. It may have looked like the Queen was the one with power, but that was also my doing. You’re right when you say that I forced her to do many of the things she did, including giving Amelia the cold shoulder and tough love. She hated it, because it made her feel like she was doing just like her mother did her and she never really wanted that. She couldn’t defy me though, she knew better than that. So, things remained as they were, until she grew back her spine and stood up to me. Demanded I stop what I had planned, only now thinking it was too much. So, I had to remind her of her sins and in the end, I eliminated her.”

“What did you have on her? It must have been something really big to get her to yield to you.”

“That’s really not any of your business, but I’ll simply say, she couldn’t let go of the past.”

“Yea well, she’s clearly not the only one.” Elli snickers at her snide comment.

“I should kill you right now, like the Kree scum you are, but I still have use for you.”

“Ha! Do you really think I’ll let you use me? I’m not a pushover and no one rules me.”

“Oh, is that so? So, you mean you’re not completely whipped by Amelia’s touch?”

“Wow, you sure like to make references to the intimacy between Amelia and I, don’t you?”

“Well, it seems to me that’s all the substance your relationship really has. As far as I’ve seen, the only times you’ve really had together are times like last night, where Amelia sneaks out to see you for her routine booty call. In time, she’ll grow tired of you. She’s been raised to hate the very existence of Kree, so do you really believe she’d genuinely fall in love with one and devote her life to one? To be honest, I think she just took interest in you to get back at her mother.”

Elli continues to smirk, not being swayed by his attempts to get in her head. “I know what you’re doing, but it’s not going to work. I have no doubt in Amelia’s love for me, so just give it up.”

“Very well, if you wish to continue to believe in your love, that’s fine, it’ll only make what comes next easier. Show me just how much you love her, and do as I say, if you want to ever see her again. As we speak, she’s being taken somewhere far away and unknown to all but me and a handful of others, who are all with her. Even you will not be able to track her down.”

Now Elli scowls. “I swear to god, if you hurt her somehow, I will kill you and everyone here.”

“Please. I’m evil, but I’m not a monster Elli. I love Amelia, just as I loved Almyra. It’s unfortunate she couldn’t continue to overlook things. Amelia however is different, as where love can fade between husband and wife, love for a child is eternal. I don’t want her to be harmed, which is why I’ve sent her away where no one can hurt her, but also where she will be out of the way so I can act freely. So, I’m giving you a chance to be reunited with her, but you must do some things for me first. I know you’re prideful, just like Almyra, which is why she liked you so much, but will you let that pride consume you and lose what’s precious to you, or will you yield and do whatever it takes to save it? The choice is yours Elli, I won’t force you, but if you ever want to see Amelia again, you know which choice you have to make.” He smirks and then releases her. “Take the day to think it over. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a speech to make.”

He takes the paper he was writing on and folds it, placing it in his pocket. He exits the study, leaving Elli alone. She kicks over the chair in rage. “Ugh! That ass!” She pulls out her phone and calls Amelia’s number. She’s not expecting to actually get an answer, but by the slim chance that she may have left her phone behind, she wants to give it a shot. It starts to ring and Elli laughs, thinking she’s an idiot for trying to do this, but just as the first ring ends, she hears the familiar ringtone coming from behind her. She whips around and looks, localizing the spot where the ringing is coming from. Beneath the sofa, she can see the glow of the phone screen. She runs over to it and picks it up. It’s Amelia’s and the fact that it’s here and not with her means she was indeed taken by force and the chances of finding her are as slim as she thought. “Dammit!”

Elli’s phone rings and she can see it’s Liam. She answers and he says, “Elli, I just got word about everything. You should come home right away. They are ordering everyone to remain in their homes for the time being and the King will be making his speech shortly too. Hurry back.”

“I can’t, I have stuff to do here. I must find out where he’s keeping Amelia and only one person has any chance of knowing. They never leave the Royal Compound, so I can’t either. Sorry bro.”

She hangs up the phone and stuff both hers and Amelia’s in her blouse’s pocket. She doesn’t know exactly where Navi is being kept, but she knows she’s somewhere in the compound, so she’ll start from where she last saw her, at the Academy. If anyone has a chance at knowing, it’d be her, since she knew this was coming. She tried to warn Elli, but she didn’t listen and now she’s got to live with that regret, but she won’t stop for anything. She must find out where Amelia is and she must do it soon, or she’ll have no choice but to become the King’s lapdog.

*** “The Royal Carriage”, Outer Limits-The West Province, Spring Year 2529 ***

          Amelia stirs and finally opens her eyes. She can feel the motion of the carriage and realizes she’s being transported somewhere. Looking out the window, she sees an expanse of open field, which means they are outside the walls of the province and headed somewhere far away, as her father promised. However, she no longer wanted this, so why would her father do such a thing? She starts to realize that maybe all Elli had said about her father wasn’t so far-fetched after all.

“You seem confused Princess.” Amelia turns to see Garrett addressing her. “No need to worry though, as I will keep you safe in your father’s place. So, just relax. We should arrive soon.”

“Why is father doing this though? I told him I changed my mind, so why did he knock me out and send me against my will? I don’t want to go! Take me back at once! I command you!”

“I’m sorry Princess, but I can’t do that. It’s too dangerous for you to be there right now.”

“What do you mean? How is it dangerous? Everything I know and love is there. My mother-.”

“Is dead.” Garrett says this bluntly, but with a remorseful expression. “She was killed by Kree.”

“What?” Amelia can’t believe what she’s hearing. “No way, I can’t believe that. There’s no way she’d be killed by them. She’s fought off hordes of them alone before, so there’s no way-.”

“She was ambushed. It was reported that it wasn’t just regular Kree, it was Demikri.”

“What? The only Demikri around is Navi and Elli right? So, obviously, it couldn’t have been anyone but Navi.” Amelia frowns. “I always knew she was trouble and she’s always had a vendetta against my parents, so I’m not surprised. But if that’s the case, even more so, I can’t run away. My kingdom is going to need me now and my father might be in danger. I’m sure he forced me to go thinking he would keep me safe, but I can’t abandon them. I also won’t rest until I see Navi pay for that. I want to go back Garrett and I’m not asking. I don’t care what my father told you. As Princess, I’m commanding you to bring me back, is that understood?”

She looks at him with an intensity he’s never seen before and he realizes that she’s finally starting to embrace her duties as Valkyrie Princess after all these years. Although he knows what the King said, he can’t refuse her when she’s got strong eyes, just like her mother’s. “Ok, but you’ve got to promise to cover for me when we return. He won’t be happy I defied his orders.”

“That’s fine, leave it to me. I’ll tell him I gave you no choice. Thank you, Garrett.” He notifies the driver and soon they are turning around. It’s not until they have a steady pace that Amelia realizes her hand feels wet. She touches her face to feel the tears falling down her cheeks. “I always thought she was invincible, but even she is human…huh?”

She starts crying harder and Garrett embraces her in support. “I’m sorry Princess, losing a parent is never easy, especially at such a young age, but the Queen was strong and fearless and so surely she went down proudly. I believe that you will be a worthy successor and just as brave.”

“I’ll try to be. I owe her that much.” She accepts his embrace, lying against him all the way.

*** “The Royal Briefing Hall”, Garmin-The West Province, Spring Year 2529 ***

          James enters the briefing hall and approaches the podium. Before him is a panel of reporters and journalist, eager to hear his words on the Queen’s untimely death. In the back, news cameras are set up and ready to record his news, which will be streamed to the televisions of all citizens and on every radio. His speech will also be broadcasted on the emergency broadcast system, so that everyone in the province will be informed. This will be his defining moment as King, and the now sole ruler of the kingdom, so he wouldn’t want anyone to miss it.

“I’d like to thank you all for being here today, in light of the tragedy I’m sure everyone has already been informed of. Therefore, I won’t delay in getting to the reason I’ve called this conference. Last night, Queen Almyra was informed of a possible Kree attack outside our walls that threatened to endanger our province and so she promptly responded. However, it seems it was a trap, set up by the Kree, and there were far more forces than she’d anticipated. With only a handful of soldiers, despite her unrivaled skills, she couldn’t hold out against the Kree masses and was overtaken. Reinforcements were sent, but by the time they arrived to the location, the Queen and her team were nowhere to be found, only blood. Search efforts proved useless, as no trace of their bodies were found along the trail of blood. Therefore, we had no choice but to believe the worst. With a heavy heart, I can now confirm officially, without any reason of a doubt, Queen Almyra, our Valkyrie Queen is dead.” His voice shakes ever so slightly.

The room becomes filled with gasps and murmurs and whispers of the Queen’s demise. No one wants to believe it, but for the King to make this official announcement, it can only be true. He’d never announce something so major, haphazardly. They all look at their King in remorse, certain that he must be in so much pain. Everyone becomes suddenly sentimental, tears even being shed. To his side, James can even make out a conversation between several journalists.

“How tragic.”

“How terrible.”

“The King must be devastated.”

“Oh, and our poor Princess.”

“She must be distraught.”

“Naturally.”

“Poor thing probably can’t even get out of bed.”

“Our poor King, a widow so soon. I wonder if he’ll ever marry again?”

“The Princess is now our Valkyrie Queen, but so sad it had to happen under such circumstances.”

“I wonder if she’s ready?”

“Either way, she’ll have no choice, though she’ll never be as regal as her mother was.”

“Yes, she’s a good girl I suppose, but to be in a relationship with a Demikri…I can’t help but question her morals.”

“Oh yes, I had heard that. Demikri are those humans raised among Kree right? Kind of like the Tarzans of our society?”

“Yes, that’s what I’ve always heard. That girl is certainly human, but when raised among such monsters, her morals are certainly questionable.”

“Yes, but she’ll never be a Queen beside our Princess, Queen Almyra would roll in her grave first.”

“Yes, apparently King James convinced her to let their relationship go on temporarily, but word is he’d never intended to let them wed.”

“Well of course not. Nevermind the fact they are both girls, but a girl with such origins as hers would never be able to rule beside such noble blood.”

“Yes, yes. Surely this is just a fleeting phase for the Princess. I mean, who could ever love someone so deeply rooted within the Kree society?”

“Simply said, Ellisia Almont is but a dirty stain on the Kingdom’s reputation that will soon be cast out and I live for that day.”

 James discretely listens in to their conversation and grins to himself. He finds it amusing that so much gossip has made its way around, but the fact that it’s only information he wished them to know is reassuring. Although not quite true, these facts on Demikri and otherwise are what the public knows and that’s exactly how James wants it to stay. They must never know that Almyra was much more accepting than she seemed. That she liked Ellisia and didn’t mind her being with Amelia. That she didn’t see the Kree as scum of the earth, but tragic beings. Yes, Almyra Mangier was nothing like the Queen Almyra everyone knew, and is a secret she brought with her to her grave, where it belongs. By having the Queen be a Martyr, the citizens will be willing to take action against the Kree. They’ll be willing to go to war to avenge their Queen and protect the Princess so that she may continue the Queen’s legacy. Everything is going just as James wished, in fact it’s almost perfect, except for one sore in his side, named Ellisia. He’d planned to use her in his plans as well, once he realized she wasn’t going away any time soon, but he hadn’t expected her to meet Evani. Or to learn the truth. He hadn’t expected her to be so informed and to see through his plans. That’s why he had to strike her the only way he knew he could, and that was by sending Amelia away to a place she could never find her. He realized that if he could use the love Ellisia has for Amelia against her, she’d fall in line and do anything he wished, to ensure that Amelia stays safe and that she’ll see her again. He’ll have Ellisia become his pawn and have her destroy Merope and the entire Kree civilization with her own hands. He has no doubt she’ll do it, as Amelia has always been the most important thing to her, and she’d die to protect her.

“King James, may I ask where the Princess is at this time?” James is brought back to attention upon hearing the reporter’s question. He returns to his solid demeanor and starts to answer.

“Oh yes, the Princess was naturally distraught to hear the news. With her safety being the ultimate priority at this time, I felt security measures needed to be put into place. Therefore, the Princess-.”

“Is right here!” Amelia’s voice interjects James’ words like a sword, making everyone look her way. They are all pleasantly surprised to see her, apart from James, who curses under his breath, but keeps a straight face. Amelia approaches the podium and stands beside her father. She turns to him and whispers so only he can hear. “I’m sorry Papa, forgive me, but my place is here.”

James is fuming on the inside, but he can’t let his emotions ruin the rest of the plan. The fact that she still treats him with respect and doesn’t seem to hate him, means that Garrett told her that he only sent her away by force out of the desire to keep her safe, just as he asked of him. However, she must have finally grown her spine and demanded he bring them back. Perhaps she’s a bit more like her mother than he’d first thought, but nevertheless, he must play this off now.

“Amelia, I didn’t expect to see you here. I’m sorry too, perhaps I was rash in sending you away. Perhaps I didn’t give you the chance to rise to the occasion and show your strength as the Valkyrie Princess. Forgive me. I was just so scared of losing you too after your mother, so-.”

Amelia hugs him tightly. “I know Papa, I never believed you’d do anything so cruel without good reason. I forgive you. I want to honor mom’s legacy by following in her footsteps and protecting our kingdom with her same determination. I don’t know if I’m ready yet, but I must try. I have to show mom, watching from heaven, that her belief in me wasn’t wasted.”

“Oh, your mother would be so proud of you Baby Love, so proud. I’m proud of you too.” He hugs her back and everyone in the room has their spirits lifted, seeing such a tender moment.

They pull away from each other, and they turn their attention back to the room full of the press. James continues to speak. “Well, as you can see, the Princess is just as unpredictable as her mother.” They laugh at his joke, which lightens the mood and he continues. “Yes, she’s a firecracker for sure, but she’s also very strong, just like the Queen. Despite her sadness and her pain, she’s ready to step up and be the Princess she needs to be. No, I’m sorry, let me correct that. She is no longer simply the Princess, but she is now Queen. The official coronation will come later, once everything is resolved and we are victorious, but for now, I will make the temporary designation. He turns to Amelia, who looks a bit nervous. He places a hand on her shoulder and recites a basic coronation speech. “Princess Amelia Diane Mangier, I beseech thee, interim Queen over all of the West Province. You are tasked with protecting our land and our people, from all threats, including that of the Kree. Do you accept this duty?”

Amelia bows down and with a shaky voice says, “I accept. It would be my honor and privilege.”

“Very well. Then as of this very moment, you are now The Valkyrie Queen of the West.” There is applause and cheers as James removes his hand and Amelia stands. “Address your subjects.”

Amelia nods in acknowledgement of James’ request. She approaches the podium and faces everyone. If it were only those in this room, she’d be able to manage. However, knowing that all of the West Province is watching and listening to her now, she’s terrified. She looks around the room, hoping that she might see the only one who could calm her, but naturally she’s not present. She should be home with Liam, watching on the television. However, this thought suddenly gives Amelia the boost of courage she needs to address the crowd, with a clear and steady voice.

“My mother was an amazing woman. She was strong and courageous and ruthless in times of battle, but her heart was kind. She loved this kingdom and her subjects dearly and would’ve done anything she had to, to ensure their safety. She loved my father dearly, I often envied their love. However, for too long, I turned away from her, believing that despite all of this, I was the only one she didn’t love. I was convinced my mother hated me and saw me as a disgrace. I often thought that she’d wished Tobias had been born a girl, so he could succeed her rather than me. I know that he’s more regal, and refined and would absolutely be a better ruler than me. I absolutely would give this honor to him if I could, because to be honest, I never wanted this. I wanted to live a simple life, with the girl I love and our children. For all these reasons, I often rebelled against my mother and treated her with little respect. However, I realized too late that I was wrong. My mother did love me and she loved me dearly. She wanted me to be happy, but feared that being soft on me would make me weak and unable to rise to such a situation as this. I understand now that I can only stand here before you all today and accept this role because she was so hard on me. I realized too late that my mother loved me and that I honestly loved her too. I never got to tell her I loved her and now it’s too late.” She gets a bit chocked up, but holds herself together. “However, I will make it up to her now by doing my best to follow in her footsteps and protect our home and her beloved citizens. I know I can never really measure up to her, but I hope that I will be able to serve you all, in this difficult time, and you’ll accept me.”

The room is silent and this makes Amelia very nervous and she almost feels like crying, but she won’t, only because Elli isn’t here with her. She braces for rejection, but then she hears an uproar of applause and cheering. Suddenly, everyone in the room is chanting out “Queen Amelia” with joy and Amelia smiles, feeling accepted. “Thank you everyone. I promise to do my best.”

The cheers continue and James continues to stand beside her, smiling with delight, however inside he’s raging, feeling that those cheers should be for him. However, he knows that this is only temporary and that as long as he plays things right, he can pull her strings to do his bidding and in the end…he will be the sole ruler of this kingdom.

From the corner of the room, Tobias stands watching the two, his face neutral; giving nothing away. He knows Amelia’s words of praise should boost his ego, but it honestly does nothing. He somehow feels that Amelia is still faking it, he should know what that’s like more than anyone after all. He believes her when she says she’d pass the honor over to him if she could, as always, looking for the easy way out of difficult situations. Her face may be smiling, but her body language screams that she wants to run away. She wants to run into her beloved’s arms and feel safe. She wants to be saved and protected, just the same as always. Her words were pretty, but still fake. Of course, he’d love to be King, but he’s never wanted it handed to him. He’s wanted to earn it and show that he’s the better man for the job. So, looking at the “Queen” before him, makes him feel disgusted. She’s not worthy of the honor and is just going to be the puppet of their father, just like their mother was. The only difference is the pawn he will use against her. For their mother, it was Amelia, and for Amelia it will be Ellisia. He was powerless to do anything then, despite knowing about it. But this time, he won’t sit idly by on the sidelines. He hates his “Queen”, but he loves his sister and so he will protect her, no matter what it takes.

*** “The Royal Academy”, Garmin-The West Province, Spring Year 2529 ***

          Elli searches the academy, high and low for Navi, but she’s nowhere to be found. She starts to lose hope and fears that she really will have to become James’ pawn, for Amelia’s safety, but then she hears a whisper from the side. “I hear you’ve been looking for me.”

She turns to see Navi, looking nonchalant as ever. “Oh Navi, thank goodness, I have been looking for you. James sent Amelia somewhere and unless I do what he wants, he won’t tell me where she is. So, I need your help in finding her before it gets to that.” Navi starts to laugh. “Hey, this isn’t a joke! I’m seriously asking for your help. Amelia’s safety is on the line here!”

“Why the hell should I care?!” She suddenly becomes angry. “You make it seem like I care what happens to her. Surely you haven’t forgotten my feelings for the royal family? I’m loyal to you because you’re the rightful heir of the Kree kingdom and I vowed as much to Empress Evani, but I’m not obligated to care about Amelia just because you do, Princess. Besides, I’m not exactly James’ favorite person in case you didn’t realize, so how’d I know where she was anyway?”

“Wow, I came to you as a friend, to who I thought was my friend, asking for help and you say that? I guess I had too high of an opinion of you.” Elli says this with disappointment.

“I never claimed to be your friend, did I? In fact, if I recall, you hated me. So, what’s the issue?”

“You’re right. It was clearly my mistake. I’ll find her on my own then. Enjoy your day Navi.” Elli turns and starts to walk away, feeling totally upset, but then she feels Navi grab her arm. She looks back at her in disgust and snatches her arm back. “Don’t touch me! I’m not your friend.”

“Whatever. I just thought you’d like to know that your precious Princess doesn’t seem to be very lost to me, unless it’s a doppelganger.” She points up and Elli follows the path of her finger.

She sees Amelia on the screen, being applauded by the people and she feels sudden relief. “Oh, thank god. She’s safe after all. Curse that man for deceiving me. I really hate him.”

“Um, I wouldn’t be so sure about that Elli.” Navi stands approaches Elli, who frowns and scoffs.

“I believe you said we weren’t friends, so I really don’t care to hear what you have to say. Now excuse me, but I’m going to meet my-.” Once again, Navi grabs her arm and she snatches it back. “I told you not to touch me! If you don’t want to be involved, then stop bothering me!”

“I don’t want to be involved with any of this shit!” She flares up, but takes a deep breath and sighs, calming herself. “Listen Elli, I really don’t care about this kingdom or anyone in it, but I do care about you. I don’t consider us friends, because I’m not worthy to be as such. I’m devoted to you only as a loyal subject, as it should be. So, I feel that I’d be betraying the kindness your mother gave to me if I didn’t keep you from walking into a huge mistake.”

“What do you mean exactly? How could I possibly be walking into a big mistake?”

“Clearly James didn’t plan for Amelia to be here right now. Everything you’ve told me makes that clear. So, the fact that she is here and doesn’t hate him, means that she believes he forced her away for her protection and he’s playing it off as such. He had no choice but make her the Queen in front of everyone, because anything else would cause suspicion. However, don’t you think for a second he’s not still going to be calling the shots. He had planned to use her as a pawn against you, but now that she’s here, he only has one option, to use you as a pawn against her.”

“So? What are you trying to say?” She looks skeptical.

“I’m saying that in order to get Amelia to do what he wants, he’s going to use you as leverage. You and I both know Amelia would do anything for you, even bring the whole damn kingdom to its knees. He’ll find a way to trap you and only her cooperation will keep you safe. He’ll probably convince her that the things he says must be done in order for you two to be together as you wish. In turn, he may also try to use her against you still. So, if you want my advice, I say you need to get as far away from here as possible and take your Princess with you.”

“Seriously Navi? You’re telling me to kidnap the Queen of this kingdom and run away? Don’t be ridiculous. Besides, how would I even get her to go? She believes her father is genuine.”

“Oh please, it won’t be hard. All you must do is say come, and she’ll be right at your side. She’ll abandon that damn throne quicker than lightning if you asked her to. If she knew she’d be with you forever. That’s all she really wants. You know it and James knows it. Which is why you two need to leave, before he can use her love for you to his advantage. Trust me on this Elli.”

Elli thinks it over for a moment, but quickly makes her decision. “No, I won’t do that. Knowing Amelia, she mustered up a lot of courage to come back here and take her rightful place, even though she never wanted it. She could’ve easily stayed away, but she didn’t. She came back, but not because of me. She came back for her mother. To prove to her that she didn’t die in vain and that she could be a good ruler in her stead. She’s resolved herself to do this and so I won’t steal it from her. I won’t let her father pit us against each other either. I’ll stay and protect her, even if I must do so in secret, while playing the game. I won’t let James achieve his goal of wiping out the Kree nation, but I won’t force Amelia to forsake her legacy either. So, you need to trust me.”

Navi looks at Elli with such pity, knowing she’s making a huge mistake, but that it’s her final choice. So, she decides that she’ll play the game too, for all their sakes. She sighs deeply and then faces Elli with a calmer expression. “Ok, perhaps I was rash. I won’t say you should abandon the kingdom, but as for me and my friends, we must go. Unlike you, we have no safety net of a royal lover. Now that James is putting his plan in full motion and now that the situation has changed, he no longer needs us. Clearly, the Berserker competition will be cancelled, and either you or Spencer will be allowed to fight at her side. So, Johan is no longer needed. Amy, who you haven’t met yet, but is the final Demikri, has had her eggs practically depleted to make James’ army, so she also will be discarded. As for me, well, he’s surely going to cast me out right along with them, so I can’t stay either. Therefore, I’m afraid I need to ask for your help. I need you to help us escape like you helped Alice and the other Kree prisoners escape. Please.”

Elli can see that Navi is being earnest, probably the most she’s ever seen her be. She knows that Navi isn’t used to asking for help, so if she is asking, she must really need it. She also feels she should show her appreciation for her concern. “Ok, I can help you with that. What should I do?”

Navi smiles and again grabs her arm. “Come with me, I’ll take you to our home away from hell.”

*** “Underground Bunker”, Undisclosed-The West Province, Spring Year 2529 ***

          “What is this creepy place?” Elli asks this while looking around at all the strange equipment and the pale walls. “This is like an army bunker or something, but way creepier.”

“Yea, that’s about right actually. They use this for all their super-secret, science stuff. It’s where they experiment on Kree and where the massive Demikri army is held.”

“What is this massive army you keep mentioning?” She looks at her with genuine curiosity.

“Exactly as I said. It’s a massive army of Demikri, created from the embryos of Amy and Johan. Of course, they use some of our high tech Kree tech to age them up rapidly, so they are mature enough to fight, but still, they are pure Demikri. They’ve got all our abilities and will be a nightmare against any other force, including your Kree army. I guess Empress Evani didn’t have the chance to brief you on all those but the truth is, our army is weak. We don’t have the forces like we used to once upon a time, due to the destruction by the Valkyries and the further disabling of our forces by this kingdom’s actions. We have just enough protection to protect our Empress, but if a large army like the one James has cooked up were to attack, we’d be dead meat. The Kree would surely be annihilated. James knows that too, which is his goal.”

“That sounds horrifying. Mom definitely never said anything about that.”

“She probably didn’t want to worry you, but it’s a serious concern.”

“Well, I won’t let him do it. I’ll find a way to keep him from unleashing that army.”

“No need, because I’ve already taken care of it.”

“What do you mean?” Just as she asks this, a security alarm begins blaring.

“Well, no time to explain. Let’s go get the others!” She grabs Elli again and drags her along.

They arrive at the holding cell where Navi and the other two were kept. Navi breaks the lock with her force alone and they enter to find Johan and a girl cowering into his arms. Elli realizes she must be Amy. “What’s going on Navi? Did you guys really live in here? It’s so small.”

“Yea, well not all of us were as blessed to have a nice place and warm meals, Princess.” Johan speaks, his tone condescending.

“Now, now Johan, don’t be like that. She had no control of this and she didn’t even know. Anyway, she’s here to help now, so let’s get out of here, or we’re all toast.”

“Navi, what did you do?” Elli asks again, but gets the same response as before.

“No time! Hurry!” They run out of the cell and Elli has no choice but to follow behind.

They run through the corridors of the lab, avoiding the guards best they can, and running from those they can’t bypass. They eventually get themselves underground further, into the sewer system, where Alice had fled with the prisoners before. “Show us the way out of here Elli, only you’ve been through this maze before. That’s why we needed your help.”

She looks around and orients herself, finally recognizing her surroundings. “Uh…right, this way!” She runs through the confusing tunnel system, skillfully navigating the twists and turns and they finally reach the path to the exit. However, Elli stops short, refusing to go further.

“What are you doing? We have to go! Or do you actually want us to get caught?” Johan shouts.

“I’m not going with you guys. I told Navi that already. My place is here. I wish you all luck.”

Johan scoffs. “I knew she was a traitor! You actually believed this girl would be a worthy successor to your Empress Navi? What a disgrace. She clearly is loyal only to them. Let’s go.”

“I don’t want to leave here without you Elli and you’re not going to want to stay.”

“Give me a valid reason of why I shouldn’t?”

“Because after what I’ve done, they will never forgive me or anyone related to the Kree.”

“What did you do?”

“Well for starters, I wiped out their entire army. Those thousands of soldiers, dead.”

There is a loud gasp and the girl, Amy, steps forward and grabs Navi. “Navi…you don’t mean?”

“I’m sorry Amy, but it was the only way. They could never have been turned against James.

“No! How could you do that! They were my, my-.” She’s distraught.

“I made sure it was painless. I poisoned their food source, so they died peacefully in their sleep.” That doesn’t console her much, but it’s all she could really say or offer in remorse.

“That’s so cruel Navi. I didn’t even know about that army, but still, to kill so many innocents, that’s cruel.”

“I did what had to be done! Someone has to think of the Kree here.”

“Whatever. So, what was the other thing you did then? It must be a big deal, because I doubt that you killing his army is enough to make him cast me out too.”

“You’re right, it’s not, but killing the matriarch of the kingdom might be.” She grins.

Elli looks at her seriously now. “Wait, Navi? You’re not saying? You killed…no, it can’t be!”

“It’s true Elli. I killed that bitch with my own two hands. I killed Queen Almyra in cold blood!”

“You!” There’s a sudden scream that echoes through the tunnels and Elli doesn’t even need to turn around to know who it is. “I knew it had to be you, you disgusting monster! I’ll kill you!”

Elli looks at Navi’s face, the artificial smugness dripping from her face. “You’re lying.” She says this under her breath and Navi simply grins. She can hear Amelia approaching and the release of her blade. She finally turns to face her. “Amelia, wait a minute! This isn’t as it seems!”

Amelia looks at her with surprise. “What are you doing Elli, get out of my way. You heard what she said didn’t you? She killed my mother and now I’m going to kill her. You should help me!”

“No! Navi is lying. She wants to turn us against each other so that I’ll leave with her. She didn’t kill your mother. But I agree she was set up. Perhaps you need to consider other options.” She looks at James, who smirks.

“You’d seriously try to pin my mother’s murder on my father? Are you crazy Elli?”

“I’m not crazy, but I think you’re just a bit blind. He’s been lying to you for so long.”

“I know how much you hate my father Elli, but this is beyond low. Why would he kill his own wife? And are you seriously trying to defend her? Since when did you like her this much? The last I checked, you hated her too. You may have come to tolerate her now, but I never thought you’d be taking her side over mine. Now I’m asking you again, please move out of my way!”

“I can’t do that. I’m not taking her side over yours, I’m simply doing what’s right. Allowing you to kill an innocent person wouldn’t be right and I know how painful it’d be for you to learn that.”

Amelia looks at Elli in the eyes and she can see that Elli is genuine. “Elli, I believe in you, I do.”

Elli sighs happily. “Oh, that’s great. I knew you’d understand.”

“No, don’t misunderstand me Elli. I believe in you and that you truly believe what you say is true. I love that you’re trying to save me from making what you believe to be a mistake. However, I don’t believe what you believe and I cannot deny the truth that I’ve heard with my own ears directly from the accused’s mouth. So, please answer this question. Do you love me?”

“Always.” She already knows this, so why would she ask her that now?

Amelia walks over to her father and reaches for his blade. “May I, Papa?”

James smiles pleasantly and replies, “of course you may, Baby Love.”

Amelia takes his sword and walks back over to Elli. “This sword has been in my family for generations, passed on to every Berserker to follow the last. I still wish for you to be my Berserker and considering the situation, I think the competition should be exempt this time. Therefore, I choose you Elli. Will you be my Berserker?”

“Lia…of course I will, but I still want to do things properly. I haven’t earned that yet.”

“It’s ok, because I’m going to give you a chance to do so right now.” Amelia looks at Elli, her expression becoming more intense, making Elli a bit uneasy of what’s to come. “If you truly wish to be my Berserker and rule beside me, I have but one task for you, to prove your loyalty.”

Elli wonders why she suddenly sounds so formal and serious. Nothing like her usual self. “Lia?”

Amelia motions to Navi. “Kill her.” Elli looks at Amelia with shock and an expression of disbelief. “You heard me correctly Elli. If you wish to be my Berserker, if you love me, then you will do this for me. You will avenge my mother’s death and kill that girl. If you believe in me, trust my words and kill her. Do that, and I’m sure Father will welcome you with open arms.”

“Oh yes. If Elli were to do the kingdom such a great service, no one would object to me instating her as your official Berserker and first ever Valkyrie Princess to replace the Valkyrie Prince line. I wonder if she can do it though?” James smirks at Elli, who scowls back at him and his taunts.

“So, will you do this Elli? Will you do this for me? For us? So, we can be together forever?”

Elli looks at the girl before, a shadow of the girl she’s always known. This is not her Amelia. This is not the kind-hearted, sensitive, cry-baby that she loves. This is a cold, manipulative girl who is using their love as a bargaining chip. The girl before her now, is a stranger. “You can’t do this Amelia. You can’t let that man win! He’s finally succeed in corrupting you to think like him. My Amelia would never do this, but he would, because he’s evil. Please snap out of this Amelia. Realize that this is all a game of his design and we’re all being played. Come back to me!”

“I said to kill her Ellisia! If you’ve ever loved me, then do this for me! Avenge my mother!” Amelia shouts out in anger, but looks remorseful when she sees the tears in Elli’s eyes.

“This is not you Amelia. I love my Lia, but you’re not her, not now. So no, I will not do it.”

Amelia feels a crushing devastation, and her beloved looks back at her with defiant, teary eyes. “So, you’re choosing her? You’re choosing her, that monster, over me? You’re choosing them?”

“If by them you mean innocent people who’ve done nothing wrong, then yes. I’m not choosing the Kree, but I’m not opposing them either, because to do so would be to oppose myself. I’m not a monster and neither are they. My Lia already understands that, but clearly you don’t.”

Now Amelia has tears in her eyes. “Sia, don’t do this to me. Don’t you betray me, not now, not ever! It is me, I’m your Lia, but I need you to be my Sia. That bitch killed my mother! Don’t you care? Don’t you want to avenge her death, for my sake? Or did you hate her too and don’t care?”

“I liked you mother actually. She was honest and real. I would like to avenge her, but the only way to make that happen is if you allow me to use that sword on your father. He’s the real enemy Amelia, and I know it’s hard to accept that, but it’s still the truth. You need me to believe you, but I need you to believe me too. We promised to have no secrets, right? I meant that, so I’m being honest when I say Navi did not kill your mom. Your father did. Why can’t you trust me?”

Amelia looks down and with a trembling voice says, “so, you won’t do it then?”

“No, I will not. I will not kill an innocent person.”

The sword shakes in Amelia’s hand and then with eyes full of tears and rage, she pushes past Elli and aims the sword toward Navi as she shouts, “then I’ll do it myself!” Navi makes no efforts to move, but smirks, making Amelia even angrier. Just before the sword pierces Navi’s chest however, it penetrates someone else’s flesh. “No!” Amelia stops and retracts the sword, drawing blood from the arm of her victim. “Elli…why did you defend her? You made me hurt you!”

“I’m not going to let you make a mistake you’ll regret for the rest of your life!” Elli is angry.

Amelia looks down at Elli, who’s on her knees, in complete disbelief. Her face darkens and she raises her sword again. This time to Elli’s neck. “If that’s how it is, then maybe I need to kill you first. I mean, you promised me, didn’t you? You’d stay with me until the day I took your life with my own hands? Perhaps today is that day, since you seem to have lost all reason.”

“If that’s what you wish, I won’t pull away. I am yours and will gladly die by your hands, but with YOUR blade, not his. Use yours and I’ll die happily.” Elli looks at her with strong resolve.

Amelia puts the blade closer to her neck, almost piercing the skin, her eyes full of anger from the painful betrayal. She almost feels as though she could. She feels a powerful sensation within her and for a moment she feels like she’s not herself. However, Elli’s eyes gaze into hers, deeply and unwavering. She can’t bear to see those eyes now, when she’s in such a position as this. So, she drops the blade and then falls to her knees in front of Elli. “I can’t kill you Elli. I love you.”

Elli smiles, thinking that she finally broke through to her. “I love you to Lia. So much. So-.”

She’s caught off guard by Amelia’s sudden hug, which grips her tightly. She repeats her words. “I love you Elli, I love you so much. I always will you know? There will never be anyone else.”

Elli embraces her back. “It’s the same for me Lia. So, how about we stop all this and focus on-.”

“I love you, and I cannot kill you, but I cannot bear to see you anymore.”

Elli is caught off guard by her unexpected words. “Huh? What do you mean?”

“Get out, right now. Take Navi and her friends and all of you leave, before I change my mind.”

“Lia? What? You’re not serious? This isn’t a very funny joke.”

“This isn’t a joke. I want you all gone, right now. I’ll inform Liam of your betrayal and ensure he continues to be taken care of, as he’s done great work for us, but you are no longer welcome here Elli. None of you Kree scum are! I want you all gone and I never want to see you again.”

“Lia! Stop this nonsense, this is your father speaking. Don’t do this to me, to us! I love you Lia!”

“Get out!” Amelia shoves Elli, making her topple over, but she catches herself with her arm. Amelia picks up her father’s blade and aims it at Elli once more. “Get out of here right now.” Her eyes are full of hatred, so much so, that it makes Elli shiver. With a low and frightening tone, Amelia speaks her final words to Elli. “The next time I see your face Elli, it will be when MY blade impales you right in your heart. This is my final promise to you. Now, GET OUT.”

Elli can see that Amelia is not messing around and means her words. There is nothing that she can say that will get through to her, not as long as her father’s influence is looming over them. So, Elli stands and with a pained, but serious expression, gives Amelia a final word of her own. “You’re making a mistake Amelia and I promise you, you’re going to regret it. However, just know that no matter how much time passes and no matter what you’ve said, I will never stop loving you. Not even as your blade pierces my dead heart. It’ll still be yours, even then.”

Elli looks at James, who’s grin is wide as the moon and simply scowls. No words are needed to transmit how she feels. She turns to Navi, who has a surprised grin on her face and with her and the other two, they make their way to the exit. Just before stepping through it, Elli looks back at Amelia. She can’t help but feel like things are reversed now. Before, it was Elli leaving her, but now it seems Amelia is leaving Elli. However, unlike before, she can sense that it will be a long time, before they meet again and when they do, it will be as enemies. Such is their tragic love.

***

          Everyone is quiet as they walk through the forest. Navi knows that although she got what she wanted, it can’t be called a victory, because Elli will probably resent her for it for quite some time, but even still, she doesn’t regret it. It was the only way to protect her from herself. “Well, I guess this is where we part ways then, since I’m kind of banned from Merope and all.”

“So, where will you go?” Elli asks mechanically, not looking at Navi, clearly upset.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll wander I suppose. Take these two with you though.”

“No! I refuse! We’re going to stay together till the end. Amy and I agree. So, you can go alone!”

Johan insists Elli go on without them and she’s in no mood to object. “Very well. Good luck.”

“Sorry to interrupt, but before you go, could you come with me?” Navi’s eyes go wide.

“Ma-, Makena?” Navi trembles, as she stares at her red-haired love. “Is it really you?”

“Hey Navi, I’ve missed you so much, honey. So, what do you say, will you all come with me?”

Elli looks at Makena skeptically. “Why? Nevermind them, but what reason would I have to go with you? You’ve infringed on my life more than enough. So, thanks, but no thanks.”

“If you want to save your nation from annihilation and protect Amelia from herself, then you’ll come with me. I promise you’ll be glad you did. However, I won’t beg, so take it or leave it.”

Makena walks away and Navi follows behind her like a lost puppy and with no hesitation. Johan and Amy follow Navi. Elli follows, having nothing left to lose, as she’s already lost everything.

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