As quietly as humanly possible, the five of them slipped through the large black doors to the throne room of Merdock's castle, Ringmore was holding one door slightly ajar to allow the others through, just managing to slide past the guard that had sauntered over to shut the door, then each of them chose a corner of the room to hide in and wait for their disguises to wear off.
"How's the battle faring Madelia? Have we crushed the rebellion into the dust yet?" Merdock asked intrigued, the answer to his question already formed in his mind.
"They managed a sneak attack to begin with but our forces are advancing with every passing moment" she replied a smirk on her thin face, the friends around the room hoped their comrades were holding Merdock's forces at bay.
"You say that as if it's good news Madelia"
"My Lord, I do not understand?"
"Understand this, I do not want you to report back to me until the rebels have be ground to a pulp and I have their leaders locked tightly in irons" He rose from his seat barking down at Madelia, her face empty of both emotion and response. Slowly, one by one Merdock's hidden enemies began picking off the guards standing in their vicinity, gradually a look of panic and anger spread across Merdock's bony face as he watched in horror as his men seemed to drop dead of their own accord, his thick black, greasy hair fell over his face as he swung around to see the guard on his far right crumple to the flag stone floor.
"Show yourselves!" Merdock screamed at the air in front of him, even Madelia seemed shaken by these mysterious deaths.
Time was up and all the guards were dead; Elera, Haylie, Ringmore, Aden and Adiana stepped out of the shadows, drew their swords and glared at Merdock, the figure who had haunted their dreams and who's eye had followed their every move wherever they had travelled; even though none of them had ever laid eyes on him he was just as they had pictured him and more.
Merdock was a tall imposing figure, he wore a thick dark brown cloak that brushed the floor, tears littered what once had been a hem, black leather boots with wicked metal claws, like crooked knives attached to the toe end covered his large yet agile feet. A black tunic embroidered with his crest covered a worn and tattered chain mail suit, rust spots blotting out the once shimmering silver. On his thread bear belt, he carried a small beautifully crafted, silver elfish knife; it seemed out of place compared to all of his dirty, rusty clothes and armour. Instinctively he drew his thick metal sword, which seemed to radiate the terrible qualities of its owner, rusted and dirty with other bits of sharp metal crafted onto it, a horridly wicked object, its only purpose to crush and destroy, he hadn't taken their sudden appearance in his private, supposedly secure quarters very well. Every person standing before him had as good a reason as any to want him dead but first he spoke to Ringmore.
"Rider," he exclaimed, "how many years has it been old friend? I believe you have a debt to pay" Merdock's steely grey eyes stared through Ringmore's soul, but they did not shake him.
"That debt was paid my lord" Ringmore replied controlling the tremor in his voice.
"And yet here you stand before me Rider" Merdock stated
"Ringmore what's he on about?" Haylie asked, confused by the half conversation going on.
"Nothing Hay," he glared at Merdock, "a memory of a memory is all." With that the talking seemed to be over and the six of them prepared to do battle, to decide whether or not their efforts had been for nothing, whether the soldiers had died in vein. But then something unexpected happened, something no one could have anticipated, something no soothsayer could have predicted. All of a sudden Merdock's face twisted in pain and he screamed out in agony: in the centre of his chest protruded a thin silver blade coated with thick dark blood. Merdock the oppressor, the dark one fell with a silence splitting thud, face first onto the cold stone floor, his body strewn over the steps up to the raised platform. Immediately behind the spot where he had been standing, looming over the five bewildered friends, holding the blood stained blade stood Madelia.
"Finally. I have waited forty years for this moment, and now you give me the perfect opportunity and..." Madelia breathed a sigh of great relief, and stared triumphantly at her kill lying powerless and defeated upon the ground. Each of the friends stood awestruck, each had dreamed of having the chance to kill Merdock with their own hands and now that chance had been stripped from them.
"What just happened?" Adiana said, really quite puzzled.
"It seems Madelia was never quite as loyal as she seemed" Elera said still quite mystified herself.
"So that takes care of our problem then" Aden said also very perplexed by what had just happened.
"I don't think so" Elera said cautiously.
"Of course now only one thing stands between me and total control," Madelia's gaze swept across them, "well five things" Madelia positioned herself before her enemy, a flash of red light swirled around her, as it disappeared her crimson dress melted away and left behind a long chainmail dress topped by a blood red coat, gold flames decorating the bottom of the garment, a large vampiric hood rose up behind her head. Suddenly realising the situation was no longer acting in their favour they re-prepared themselves for battle. Madelia began cast spells at each of them in an attempt to throw them off balance or worse; but now they were prepared and they dodged the shafts of light and fire that flew their way and hit the wall behind them creating dark smouldering patches on the stone. Madelia had pulled out a second sword and was locked in combat with Ringmore and Aden; Adiana raised her bow and fired an arrow their way, aiming at Madelia's crimson covered chest, but in a split second she conjured a charm and deflected the arrow. Unfortunately the arrow had thrown Ringmore off his guard allowing Madelia to land a blow and hit his lower leg, Ringmore cried out stumbling backwards in pain and slumped against the hard stone wall where he remained.
Elera rushed to Ringmore's aid while Haylie turned and focused her attention on Madelia, she held the golden Ventura sword high above her head, just as Ringmore had shown her, the first time she swung the blade Madelia blocked the heavy blow but Haylie was quicker to react and she brought the second swing down squarely upon Madelia's shoulder.
Haylie was engulfed in a blast of brilliant white light and several feet below her she saw an enormous troll charging towards a group of rebel soldiers, headed by Fredrich and Killga.
She was back in the throne room of the black castle at the summit of mount Morgant, Madelia, their final adversary lay slumped and broken on the ground at her feet, her black blood stained the golden blade, still clutched tightly in her hand. But now she had another mission. If she didn't stop the battle in time, Fredrich and Killga would join the fallen of the day. Elera having finished patching Ringmore up, ran to Haylie's side.
"Hay you did it, you fulfilled the prophesy" She stared at her friend a look of utter pride and amazement on her face.
"Guess I did, but you can thank and congratulate me later, right now we need to move"
"Why what's wrong the danger's gone, it's over Hay" Elera tried to reassure her.
"Not for those still fighting its not"
"Why what did you see in the vision Hay?" Elera asked, her delighted expression suddenly fading to a look of concern.
"Fredrich and Killga will be in terrible danger if we can't stop the battle now"
"But what about our parents and everyone else in the dungeon, we can't just leave them here" Adiana reminded them.
"Adiana, Aden, you two stay here with Ringmore and empty the dungeons, Haylie and I will go and put an end to the battle and save our friends" They all agreed and Ringmore, Aden and Adiana rushed back to the dungeon while Elera and Haylie searched for the main exit. Once outside the main gates to the Black Castle the pair tried to think of ways to cease the fighting quickly.
"This is no good, we'll never reach them in time" Haylie fretted, "isn't there something you can do from here?"
"Hold that thought my friend," Elera stopped pacing and lifted her arms skyward, chanted some strange words and suddenly her voice was everywhere and a bright white light covered her and she spoke to Lardinia, "Stop. Soldiers of Morgant, your lord is dead, his hair is dead. You are defeated, stop fighting and help rebuild your once proud lands." The world was silent for a moment, then a roar of cheers erupted throughout the mass spread about on the battle field as the Morgantian soldiers threw down their arms and the trolls and giants halted their charges, Merdock's evil rule had ended.