Aaricia and the Noland Army

An epic tale of adventure that features Aaricia; a young woman having being betrayed by a loved one, lost her family and her home, must find a way to raise an elite army to help reclaim all she’s lost. Bestowed with a remarkable gift to communicate with a rare kind of beast, and armed with a handful of mercenaries, she must rise to face the most revered ruler in all the lands; the evil Queen, and swayer of the great kingdom of Azzodonia.

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6. The Queen of Azzodonia

Aaricia and her men, all dressed for the ceremony walked into the great hall, her arm tucked in Zack’s. In the great hall were all the vassals, noblemen, knights, dancing girls and jesters. All dressed for the banquet.
As she stepped in with Zack by her side, and her men behind her, all the people in the hall turned to have a look and were astonished by her beauty and what she wore. With a circlet crown upon her head she smiled like the new bride of the kingdom. Zack helped her gently take off a blue wool coat she had on, leaving her in an extravagant light aqua green dress that exposed her exaggerated hips. Leaving both the men and women astounded with their jaws dropped.
“Princess Aaricia?” said someone in the crowds.
“Could it be?” asked another.
Those who were seated stood to their feet and those who held glasses of wine lowered it as they all struggled to the front to have a good look at the Princess.
“Aaricia, the lady of Noland!!!” Stuttered the announcer as he cleared his throat.
The Queen stood to her feet from her throne on sighting Aaricia but managed to maintain her modesty.
Aaricia and her men made their way up. Zack had on his other hand, an object wrapped in a garment.
“Loyal subjects,” said the Queen, “Welcome to our presence, my sister, Aaricia!”
“I am here to take what’s rightfully mine!” said Aaricia, as she faced her sister, the Queen.
“You and what army?” asked the Queen, mockingly.
“She and the Noland army!” said a fancy dressed Simo, a bit frightened and shaky, standing behind Aaricia.
Both Aaricia and Zack turned and stared at Simo.
“Noland? Army?” the Queen laughed, “Is this a joke? Never heard of it!”
“Yes,” said Aaricia, “And that’s why you’ll never see your downfall coming!”
All the invited guest began to move back against the wall as the tension arose between the two sisters.
“Aaricia?” said an old man amidst the crowd, “You are alive?” he ran forward to her.
“Priest Jinson” she smiled, “Still looking strong!”
“Why present thyself like a sacrificial lamp within these dark walls?” said the old Priest. “You should’ve stayed away from the evil eye of the world, your sister has changed, and she is not good within!” he cried.
“I am done hiding,” she said, “I’ve come to do the needful!”
“Oh dear,” he said, “So, it is true what I’ve heard about what it is believed your mother did?” he smiled joyfully, “Oh, look how sweet your dimples beam up thy face when you wear such great smile, like your mother’s!” he marveled at her beauty, looking at her like a goddess, “Oh Aaricia! Save us, save us from the fangs of destruction!”
“I am a kind and merciful Queen,” Assiana bragged, “Just as my father and mother! I knew you’d come, someday, sister, if you had told me you were coming I would’ve made the feast more…warming and welcoming!”
“Yes,” said Aaricia, “Just as you welcomed death into the castle years ago, killing father, mother and brother just so your desperate wicked heart shall sit its dark bum on the throne!”
The Queen’s laughter echoed through the banquet hall, “Oh, dear sister!” she said, “How I’ve missed you so!” she walked to embrace Aaricia, “All those silly prayers we said on our beautiful royal knees! If only we knew we needed not a God or gods for protection and provision! We were royal, we had everything. Because all we needed to do was to seize anything we’ve ever wanted, and make it ours!”
Aaricia then winked at Zack, who then brought forth a blade wrapped in a fabric and laid it on the floor.
“What’s that?” asked the Queen, “Guards!” her eyes widened in fear as she moved back. The guards ran towards her, “Rid me of this filth!” referring to the blade.
“For your information, that’s known as Azzo’s sword!” said Aaricia, “The real Azzo’s sword. Not the dummy you hung in your throne room to fool the great people of this once great, prosperous and beautiful kingdom.” she then turned to the invited guest, “My sister, your so called Queen, killed your great king, also she took away the lives of our mother and brother, just so she’d satisfy her desperate and wicked heart. We all know that whoever wield Azzo’s sword is the one fit to serve the great people of this kingdom!”
The people began to murmur and some pulling back.
“It’s just a sword, sister!” said the Queen, “An old filthy metal! I do not fear no sword, for I do not fear no man nor God or gods. I should’ve had you killed when they told me they’d discovered where you stayed hidden!” she bragged, “But you’re blood, and he was water. Hmm! You know what they say, blood is thicker than water. So, I used and dumped him for the rag that he was!”
“Lift the damn sword, and prove to your subjects that you are the rightful heir to the throne!” said Aaricia, “And that your hands are not stained by the blood of the late great king, his Queen, and Dassia, our brother!”
Some of the kingmakers, vassals and guards turned their gaze at the Queen.
“You cannot order me, sister!” remarked the Queen, “I am the Queen, I command, and not you, not the old sack of a man you called father. So what if I rid the great kingdom off some of its old roaches?”
“Roaches?” said Aaricia, “You my dear, is that cockroach!”  
“I watched mother and father give you an exceptional treatment, placing before you all the necessary tools to become the next Queen…of the world,” she snorted, “Well, who owns the world now, big sister!?” she stood on her feet vexed, “Preparing you for a featherbrained fairy tale, leaving me overwhelmed by my own thoughts and tears!” she turned facing her throne, caressing the golden arm of her throne, “They prepared you to lead, unknowingly grooming me to rule, and a great ruler I’ve become!” she bragged, “Even better than all the kings in the kingdoms I’ve conquered!”
“Ever since you got on that throne, darkness made the lands its dwelling. You’ve made all the men, women and children in almost all the kingdoms suffer in the hands of your unmerciful army, in all the lands you’ve conquered!” said Aaricia, “I’ve nothing against you, I just don’t like the idea of you laying your wicked hands on things that do not belong to you, leaving them in worse conditions than you found them!”
“Things? That-do-not-belong-to-me? You said?” the Queen laughed maniacally, “Pathetic, this is why you will never own anything. You’re weak, sister, you’ve always been weak!” she paused and sighed, “Same old prayerful, weak child, I guess that’s why they spent most of their time trying to make you better. But you see, me, I was born strong! Strong enough to give myself that which the whole world and the entire stars could not make you own or become, sister!”
“Oh hush,” said Aaricia, “You’re a miserable excuse for a Queen!”
The Queen walked to Aaricia and smacked her, “Don’t you dare squirm your smutty tongues at me!”
Karazan drew his sword, and so did all the Queen’s guards.
Zack made an attempt to interfere, Aaricia stopped him.
“This young one seems to be concerned about you,” she said, “Hmm! Young men and their superficial affection. I guess this one loves you too, just like your Gerald!” she smirked, “I’ve always wanted to teach you what mother and father couldn’t, who would’ve taught I’d be a better teacher? You think all these people love you? Gerald abandoned you and even arranged to have you killed in spite of everything you’ve done for him, just so he’d get to live in the castle and enjoy the spoils!” she laughed and sat on her throne, “Love,” she sighed, “Men will always choose the best option over love and leave you drowning in your own scummy tears, big sister! Just like your love and blind compassion for the people, your heart is weak, and that makes you unfit to rule. Your kind is meant to be ruled!”
“Pick the sword, Assiana!” said Aaricia, “Or are you afraid, what they would find out?”
The Queen stared at Aaricia like a lioness locked in a cage.        
All the people began to murmur and protest in agreement to Aaricia’s proposal. The Queen became infuriated, uncomfortable on the throne.
“I have had enough of your contempt, sister!” said the Queen, “Raising my loyal subjects against me right in my presence?” furiously, “Guards! Bring me the gift from our western ally!” she commanded, “I’ve longed for this moment, and you offered it to me with ease!”
The guards sprang into action and quickly ran out. They came rolling a machine on wheels covered with a big black garment. They rolled it to the front of the throne and the Queen stood up as they unveiled the machine.
“With this, your guts and your filthy army shall be put to the test,” the Queen threatened, “And all those who questioned my authority shall be sterilized. A thousand more headed the kingdom from the seas as we speak, with this, even Ghourak shall bow before the great Queen of Azzodonia!”
The Queen yelled at the guards to load the machine; a clump of mechanical metals fastened together with a long cylindrical snout, like an iron beast.
“I hope you’ve said your prayers before setting your foot on my palace, sister” said the Queen, “Prepare to meet your maker!”
“Assiana, I did not come here to fight you,” said Aaricia, “I’ve come so we’d talk.”
“You sound scared, sister!” said the Queen, “You look like someone who’s buried in the tomb of the absence of God’s presence!” raising an eyebrow, “You’ve walked into the beginning of your own doom, you and all those who gave the slightest thought of rising against me!”
The guest became scared as they began to run out of the great hall. The Queen charged her weapon and without any hesitation made an attempt to fire a shot when all of a sudden, the roof of the great hall came crashing in; the gryphons have crashed the party, and the old beard Griftbear rode on the white one, holding an object wrapped in a garment in one hand.
Aaricia jumped happily, “Grapapa!” as he flew passed her and landed right in front of the Queen.
“Enough!” he yelled, “When would you stop this madness!?”
“Stop stirring my business with your rod, you old buffoon!” shouted the Queen, “Enough of what?” she then noticed what he held, “What’s that you carry?”
“Something important,” he said, “That will seal the fate of this kingdom before dawn!” he turned and looked at Aaricia.
“Azzo’s sword,” said the Queen as fear gripped her heart, “So what she had, too, was a fake?” she laughed, “Old man, so you are the house of wisdom, that appear old and wilted, where the heavens caresses the earth…you had the sword all along. I should’ve known!” she frowned, “You tricked me, and lied to me when you last visited me. You told me that the secret location is not known by you. She’s always had favour in your eyes!” she charged her machine and fired a shot, a cannon ball popped out accompanied by dark powder sent the old man and his gryphon to the floor. The garment went up revealing the sword, and it fell from the fabric, half of it sank into the ground, the old man and his poor creature died on the spot.
“No!” Aaricia screamed, “Grapapa!” running towards him when another ball of fire came through but Zack was quick to push her away as they both dodged the deadly luminous ball.
“Kill them all,” the Queen commanded her guards, “All of them! Including the big birds!”
Aaricia rushed as she whistled and mounted on a gryphon that ascent along with the rest, flying beneath the shattered roof of the great hall. The Queen returned to her machine and continued to fire at Aaricia and the gryphons. While the guards and the Noland army clashed, Zack managed to run towards the Queen, he drew his sword, jumped and engaged her but he was no match for her skills, as she shamed him with a sword she pulled from underneath the arm of her throne.
“I made sure anyone who ever loved her dies,” she said, pointing her sword at him on the floor, “Fool! What do you know about love?”
Zack was in a frazzled state of mind, he could not meet up with the speed at which the Queen moved. She raised her sword to strike when Aaricia jumped off her gryphon and attacked her.
“I’ve longed waited for this!” said Aaricia, punching the Queen on the face, sending her to the floor. Aaricia tore off the elegant dress she wore to have a good balance, took of the circlet and tied her hair like a pony tail. Zack then passed his sword to Aaricia from where he lay.
“A dishonourable act,” said the Queen, “Don’t you think?”
“There’s nothing as dishonourable as your butt on that throne, little sister!” replied Aaricia.
“You don’t scare me, sister!” said the Queen, “Father never, did, mother never did! No one in this kingdom and beyond can scare me!!!” as she rose to her feet and challenged Aaricia, who seemed outmatched as the Queen swung her sword in a fraction of a second, cutting about an inch deep on the thigh. The Queen appeared highly trained, but even though in the midst of danger, Aaricia remained focused on what was, as she engaged her sister with care. The Queen was balanced and put up a strong defence. She tried to push Aaricia against the dead end corner of the hall, Aaricia maneuvered to protect herself, handling her sword with ease.
All the gryphons and the men, including the guards and the nobles stood aside and watched the two sisters settle their feud in one of the most fascinating swordfight, each displaying their skills in a remarkable art of swordsmanship.
“She’ll be killed!” said Simo.
“Not with what I’ve seen her do!” answered Karazan, “Go get her, my Queen!”
“The moon nor the stars are up tonight,” said the Queen, “The sunlight isn’t here for you to take its advantage to block my eyes like when we were kids, huh?”
“You’re the one who always love to cheat your way through everything,” Aaricia remarked.
Their swords clashed. Both were skilful with their swords as though taught by the same master.
“Maybe your beauty has placed before you all the things you needed to survive,” said the Queen, “But my zeal gave me all I’ve ever wanted. As I have taught you lessons in life, so shall I teach these ingrates how to appreciate what they would never find; peace! They never appreciated father’s work so they shall all die in immiseration! ”
After a long fight, the queen kicked Aaricia to the floor and stepped on her sword with one leg, holding Aaricia down with the other; with the tip of her sword, the Queen delivered a sharp strike to Aaricia’s chest, but a violent force thwarted the sword and it disintegrated. Some of the pieces from the broken sword pierced through the Queen’s face.
“What sort of sorcery is this?” cried the Queen, covering her face with her hands “Cheat! You cheat!” she sighted an amulet on Aaricia’s chest that blocked her strike. The Queen began to look around for another weapon, left with no choice on sighting Azzo’s sword, she went for it without a second thought.
“Assiana, no!” Aaricia warned, “It’ll destroy you!”
“Destroy me?” yelled the Queen, “I am the epitome of destruction, for to hell itself, many have I offered, sister!” she held the sword.
The men moved back in reverence as the Queen pulled out the sword from the ground, and it metamorphosed into a red flame. She laughed like a wildly disordered lunatic as the sound of thunder broke the surroundings, they all looked up as lightning lit the skies.
Queen Assiana and the sword became one. Every hair on her body rose and turned red, and so did her limpid evil eyes. Like a serpent on its feet, she arose and grew twice her size, the shape of her blood-red heart could be seen by all as it engulfed in flames.
“We’re dead!” cried Simo, “It was a lost cause!”
“It was nice fighting with you, my comrades” yelled Karazan to his stricken men.    
The Queen laughed as the fire from her heart moved through her veins like a stream and down to the sword, the sword glowed and began to burn brightly and so did the Queen. Fear gripped all the men as the gryphons cried out in confusion, the Queen stood mightily before them like a dreadful storm that came to life. The men noticed some slimy dark roots cut through the floor and began to spread in the great hall and unto its walls.
“Such tremendous power!” yelled the Queen as she spoke like a legion, in many languages and voices, she spoke “Oh! If only I knew what I was missing!” she laughed, “Old fool!” turning to old Griftbear’s corpse.
“Stay away from him!” Aaricia cried.
Karazan and the rest of the Noland Army, including the guards moved to one side, the gryphons yowled and their voices filled the great hall, they all stood in horror as the Queen transformed into a new being.
“Nowhere to run, big sister!” she said, “Nowhere to hide!” she charged ahead flying into the air, raising the sword to strike Aaricia when a great lightning struck her, emitting an enormous spark. The only thing that descended was the sword, accompanied by flakes of ashes. The sword landed with one third of it buried in the ground still in flames.
Aaricia left the men and walked towards the sword, crying, she fetched the ashes, wetting the floor with her tears, the ashes absorbed her tears. She then stood up to pick the word.
“Please don’t!” said Zack, “I need you!”
“Don’t do it, my lady!” cried Karazan, “The kingdom isn’t worth your life!”
She turned to them but ignored their warnings. Aaricia walked without emotions to the burning sword, and as soon as she touched it, the fire quenched and the blade turned blue and glowed, and so did she.
Light shone upon the men and the gryphons almost blinding them, they turned their eyes away, and the sword dimmed its light.
Roses and flowers grew beneath the men’s feet and in all the surroundings.
Aaricia’s smile was frozen by the sight of her grandfather. A relieved Karazan, an excited Zack and peeing Simo, the gryphons, the guards, noblemen and the Noland army bowed before her and embraced the presence and essence of a new dawn of peace.

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