Nightblood

In a world of eternal darkness, the light is slowly seeping in. It’s up to one particular winged warrior to save the Night.

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11. Chapter 11

Chapter 11

 

The Daybloods stand poised to attack, ready and waiting on the Day side of the border, Moonstones growing warm with the close proximity of the Night, the magic they contain buzzing. 

They all carry swords, wicked weapons designed to puncture and pierce. Some carry short-swords, some broadswords. They all have weapons, and they all know how to use those weapons. They are an unstoppable force. 

➿➿➿

We resume our trek, walking at a brisk pace through the densely packed forest. I am in the lead, followed by Dais. We walk in single file, each left alone to our thoughts. 

After a while, I clear the edge of the trees, bursting into the last stretch of dark before he light penetrates. 

"We're here," I announce, as Dais, Carson and Ryan burst through the tree line. 

"I can tell," Carson comments. 

"What now?" Ryan asks, face grave. 

"I'm not sure," I answer honestly. "We wait until the attack comes." 

➿➿➿

Hours pass. The Cycle ends. 

The Dayblood army appears on the horizon. 

Fear wells inside me. What if I wasn't strong enough? What if I couldn't fend off the light? 

This is no time for second thoughts. I had to be strong enough. 

Time continues to pass, and the Daybloods come into focus. 

It is not just Daybloods. Mortals race underneath them, mounted upon great stallions or on foot, fully armed and plated head to toe in heavy armour. 

Maybe I am right to fear. 

No one shows to meet them, and I begin to think well have to fight this battle alone. They draw nearer and nearer, and still no one shows. When they are within ten meters of the Divide, the Nightbloods break through the trees, rushing to meet them. 

The Daybloods reach the edge of the light. The Nightbloods reach the edge of the darkness. 

"I advise you surrender now!" The Dayblood leader shouts. 

"I'd say the same to you, but I'm always up for a good fight!" Gar shouts, and the eight leaders draw to the front of the Nightbloods. 

"You accept your ultimate failure? How sweet," the Dayblood leader returns. 

"You accept your death?" Gar fires back, unrestrained anger crackling in his voice. The Dayblood chuckles. 

"Attack!"

The Nightbloods launch high into the air, flying shockingly fast. 

To my surprise, the Nightbloods don't wait at the border. They surge forward, launching onto the Day side with only a moment of collective hesitation. 

They do not scream, they do not writhe and tumble out of the sky. They show no signs of agony, and catch the Daybloods by surprise. 

The Daybloods freeze, but only for a second. 

The mortals ride, over into the Night side, where they attack any stragglers on the ground. 

Suddenly, a group of figures burst through the trees. 

Everyone stops. The fighting haunts, 

It is an army of Creatures, led by a cat-aspect, her eyes so pale the were almost white, with a ring of faint blue encircling them. 

The cat-girl says nothing, simply leads the Creatures to fight the mortals. 

Fury erupts again, and the war resumes. 

They are unprotected, and cannot crossover, but they are still a force to watch. 

Some fight with their bare hands, wrapping with claws or chomping and ripping with their teeth. A few use weapons, stabbing with a dagger, before clawing, then biting and stabbing again. 

I launch into the air, rushing towards the Daybloods, fighting off the ones that had made it into the Night. 

I fall one, then another, and another and another and another. I lose track, lost in a swirl of blood and anger. 

➿➿➿

Missa launches into the battle, biting and tearing. 

The Creatures follow her, craving blood. 

She launches herself at the first Day-sider, slashing with her left paw and thrusting with her right, catching the Day-sider, a young male with dusty blond hair and gold eyes, on the shoulder and slamming her other paw into his stomach. 

The Day-sider lets out a fantastic huff! And Missa uses it to her advantage, leaping forward and slamming him into the ground. 

His head cracks against the gravely soil, and he goes limp. Missa doesn't stop to see wether he's dead or unconscious, instead she moves to the next Day-sider, clawing and slashing with her dagger, which she frees from he belt with a quick sweep of her hand. 

One by one, the begin to fall under the onslaught of the Creatures. They make progress, but not enough. The Day armies are immense, a crushing force. The Night armies are stronger, but smaller. 

There is no time for worries though, Missa whirled from one victim to another, clawing and tearing and occasionally stabbing with her dagger. Blood drenches her. Fury consumes her. 

A Day-sider rushes her, this one female, with green eyes, freckles splattered across her nose and cheeks, and golden blonde hair pulled into a harsh ponytail. 

Missa slashes with her claws, drawing blood in a deep gash across the girl chest. The girl in turn rushes at her, brandishing a sword. Missa unsheathes her dagger, blocking a blow from the girl's sword, before using her claws to shred the girl's thigh. 

The girl lunges, raising her sword high to bring down on Missa's head. Missa drops to all fours, before she rolls out of the way, striking the girl in the knee with her dagger. 

The girl whirls, ready to bring her sword down on Missa again, who is still on all fours. Missa leaps, barreling into the girl. She grips her dagger and plunges it into the girl's neck, before pushing herself backwards, taking the dagger with her. The girl tumbles to the ground, the life drained from her, blood trickling in a rushing torrent from the wound in her neck. 

Missa turns away, launching herself at her another opponent. 

➿➿➿

His plan is almost ready to be set in motion. He stalked the Day side of the border, encircled by practically a legion of soldiers. 

His blood is pooled into a bowl, carried by a lowly servant boy. He begins to chant, changing the blood into the magic that would make him king. 

➿➿➿

I continue my assault on the Dayblood soldiers, killing them off as soon as they breach the border. The battle is being pushed back, forced onto the Night side. 

I suddenly spot a figure from my high vantage point. 

A male, with greasy brown hair that rests in a flop around his head. He is short and thick, with stubby fingers that twitch slightly as he waves his hand dramatically in the air. He is accompanied by soldiers, each one close to double his height. 

If that wasn't strange enough, a slave scampers at his feet, carrying a decorative bowl, similar to those used in Nightblood Bloodmagic. 

My eyes make out that the bowl is filled with a reddish liquid, mixed with flecks of rusty gold. So the man is hybrid. 

He chants, and light begins to engulf him. I immediately realize what is about to happen, and break away from the fighting, swooping down to the ground. 

I can only hope I am not too late. 

➿➿➿

Carson eyes the Day, remembering the feeling of sunlight stroking his skin. His memories of the Day have grown faint and flickers, but being so near brings them into a sharper focus. 

Laughing with friends under the sun's harsh glare. Visiting the Castle of Sunlight to attend an audience with the king. Skipping through the dry desert, sipping greedily from canteens. 

He wanted to go back. 

He shouted his way through the writhing mass of warring bodies, and injures a few without even checking which side they're on. 

Finally, he reaches the Divide. 

Memories of his first unprotected crossing rise up, the agony, the pain ripping at him, the feeling of his skin slowly being peeled away and replaced with a new one, his inside ripped out and reorganized. 

He hesitates for just a moment. 

His family would welcome him, so would his friends. But would the rest of Day society see him as a traitor. It didn't matter. There is more for him there than there had ever been at the Night. 

How foolish of him, for him to cross over to the Night just for a girl who didn't want him. 

He stares at the light, and it doesn't appear as welcoming as he thought. It appears foreboding, a whisper screaming in his head don't cross! Don't cross! 

He ignored the voice, and with a deep breath and a prayer to whatever deity is listening, he pushes across the threshold. 

Pain rips through him. A scream rips out of him. 

Before when he had crossed, the agony had been nothing compared to this. It has felt like his skin had been peeled off, only to be replaced with a different one, his organs ripped out and reorganized. 

Now, it felt like his skin is being torn away, strip by strip, his organs chopped up before being removed. 

His scream is high and thin and raw, voice filled with pain. 

For a whole second, the fighting stops, as people pause to stare at him. 

How would he be remembered? Would he be the Dayblood who had lost their Moonstone and got a bit too close to the border? Or the Dayblood who betrayed his people but lost his life getting back to them? Both were true. 

Blackness creeps into the edge of his vision, spins scream building in momentum, until it is painfully cut off. 

The blackness consumes him. 

The last thought he ever has is, I wish Estrie had chosen me. 

➿➿➿

Carson's scream pierces my heart, but I am helpless but to watch, hidden away, waiting for the exact moment the man is about to strike. Anger and grief blaze through me, and I welcome it, as it makes my power surge. 

I am stronger than I've ever been. 

I clamber up a tree, perching safely on a branch, observing. Sobs begin to wrack me, as I catch sight of Carson's broken and beaten corpse. 

I shove the grief away, and retreat to the dark depths of my mind. 

I begin to get a sense of the energy around me in my mind. Each person is a tiny pinprick, a little dot of energy, of heat, in a sea of cold death. 

The light is different. First I feel the unnatural, wrongness of the created light, like a whole separate layer. It prickles my skin, causing me to worm and writhe inside myself. 

I push to far, reaching the natural light of the Day. 

A pleasant sensation tickles me, warm and happy. Like sunlight, I guess. A groan of happiness escapes me and I drop out of my trance, jerking awake. 

I see the man scream or the servant-boy to lay the bowl down, and he begins to construct the light. 

Fear courses through my veins. 

The fate of half the world, my half, is resting on my aching shoulders, a crunching pressure to bear. 

I reach for the artificial light, and I feel it in my mind, slippery and vile. 

I grab it in my mind, but it escapes. I try again, exhaustion burning inside me. I sharp cry exits my lips, as I grab at it for a third time, a flash of pain darting across my mind. 

I grit my teeth and imagine a giant hand reaching out and grabbing ahold of the light. 

This time it appears to work, my hold staying. A faint ache begins to smoulder in the back of my mind, but I push it aside, ignoring it. Now is not the time to take heed to pain. 

Bright pain flashes across me, as more light pours into my hold. My grip loosens, and I imagine the imaginary hand gripping the light even tighter. More and more comes, a flood, an avalanche. I focus on keeping it from overflowing into the Night, not concerning myself yet with reversing the d age already done. Pain builds, as even more energy is forced in. 

It has begun. 

➿➿➿

He doesn't know why it isn't working. 

The light is supposed to be taking over. General confusion plagues him, and he pushes harder with the light. Instead, the light that is already there blazes even brighter. 

A throbbing ache begins to echo inside him, painful and ever-present. It those him off balance, and he almost stops his advance, forced to a halt. 

Almost. 

➿➿➿

Ryan is lost in the fray. He whirls and slashes, using his sword and dagger to inflict the most pain and injury possible, all the while feeling a strange grief for Carson. But this is battle, there is no time for mourning. 

He lets out a screech. A scream, a battle cry. 

Out of the blue, a second scream echoes, and strange emotions flare in the pit of his stomach. 

It is the Strennans. An army on foot, coming to join the battle. 

He manages to catch a glimpse of them, most males in fearsome kohl and proudly boasting red or blue eye powders. The woman wear full face makeup, their skin painted gold, silver, blue, red, green and vivid violet. 

They let out a mighty collective bellow, charging in. Overhead, the Daybloods and Nightbloods war. 

Anger surges through me, the cause unknown, but the burst of adrenaline and strength is welcome. 

A pitiful Dayling approaches me. I use the slang term this time, the thrill of the battle drawing out my hate. 

It is an older male, his hair blond beginning to grey, his eyes green with hints of brown, reminding him of swamp water. 

The Dayling charges in, and Ryan raises his sword and slashes, drawing blood along his arm. 

The Dayling is armed with a spear only, and when he swings it at Ryan, Ryan uses his sword to chop it in half, with one mighty blow. 

He suddenly launches himself at the Dayling, who is surprisingly brawny and fit despite his age. 

Ryan swings his sword, but the man uses the stump of his spear to deflect. Ryan makes up for the miss by jamming his dagger into the man's side, ripping a terrible gash in his side. 

The Dayblood screeches, and topples over. I turn to find my next opponent, feeling no remorse, 

➿➿➿

He empties out all the light, and suddenly exhausted he collapses onto the dry desert ground. 

Why didn't it work? It is a foolproof plan, yet it had failed. 

➿➿➿

I hold it all back, but I can feel myself slipping. Pain and exhaustion pull at me, rushing through my veins. I try not to pay attention to it, but I struggle. My grip on the tree branch falters, and I crash to the ground. 

My hold on the light slips, and a little spurt shoots in. 

I manage to block it and push it back, but my strength is waning. My breath comes in shallow gasps. Black spots dance across my vision. My head spins, my consciousness on the verge of being lost. 

With a mighty shove, I thrust the light. 

It moves an inch back, then another, and another. 

I push again. It goes farther this time, but my vision narrows and I can't tell by how much. It's all just a blur of light and dark, sun and shadows. 

With a last, desperate shove, I push the light backward, until I can feel in my mind the brush of natural sunlight of the Day, and I know I've pushed it back far enough. 

I let out a heavy breath.

I feel myself fading, descending into darkness deeper than the shadows.

 But if I die I will die happy, knowing I've saved the Night.

 
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