Adventure in a Virtual World

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 28 (v.1) - Angel of Death

Submitted: June 13, 2016

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Comments: 1

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Submitted: June 13, 2016

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Dear Leaders of Caldona,

I respect your right to self governance, however that stipulation has no bearing on matters concerning The Vanguard. Without just cause under no circumstances may you bar a sworn Vanguard knight, acting on official orders, from entering your city. As Duchess of Calemdor I may employ Vanguard knights at anytime to act as my envoys, as long as I have legal justification. The leader of The Flaming Vanguard, Devlin Brintwall, himself has allied with my house and serves as my chief advisor so I can assure you I have conducted business through the proper channels. I have named Shana Belrose, a Vanguard knight sworn in under the rule of the late King Crestwater, to act as my envoy. Shana Belrose will be accompanied by 300 Vanguard knights, including Devlin Brintwall. As they act on my behalf I ask you to treat them accordingly. Furthermore my authority as Duchess of Calemdor affords me the right to conduct military maneuvers within my jurisdiction, my army is here to stay.

Now as for the reason of my intrusion. If you are unaware, the presence of a massive Dermith force along our northern borders has become a severe cause for alarm. With such a dire situation at hand I have come to your city to recruit able bodied soldiers so I may lead an army to safeguard against the looming danger, 2nd amendment of The War Act. I am well aware that you know I have no right to force your hand in regards to the station of your army. Unfortunately as I know not when the new rulership will be decided we must observe these unpleasantries.  This is why I invoke the ruling stated in Strauss Law article 27 third clause, bringing forth the involvement of The Vanguard to mediate between my envoy and yourself pertaining to the recruitment process. Also stated in the 6th amendment of The War Act, any citizen that willingly answers a call to service by a Duke or Duchess of Strauss is free from all prior pledges of fealty and taking ANY adverse action against said individuals or their families is a capital offense and punishable by death. 

I pray you make the right decisions in the hours ahead.

Best regards,

The Duchess of Calemdor


I nod somberly to Devlin as I seal the first carefully crafted letter. With his and Hesire’s help I found the proper words that should gain us access to the city. Unfortunately it lacks all of the things I truly want to say. Staying civil took all my effort because I blame them for yet another attempt on Jake’s life. I blame them for the death of the six brave soldiers that laid down their lives.

I blame them for the death of the boy I murdered. 

I also blame Arino for filling me with just enough doubt I misinterpreted the boy’s intentions. Everything was going fine until he pushed me over the edge and snapped something inside of me. I used to think he was a kind, duty bound individual that trusted me. After his open defiance, hell-bent on revenge instead of justice, it shifted my perspective ever so slightly.

Most of all I blame myself for ending the life of a boy who just wanted a hug from his savior, the girl who showed mercy and gave him another chance at life. If only he had known ahead of time that death and destruction follow me wherever I go. 

As a wielder of healing magic one might think that I would be akin to an angel of light. Why then does my “gift” come with such a high price? My parents died in an attempt to give me a better life. The young man in the tavern would probably still be alive if I wasn’t denying my own strength all the time. Jake nearly gave his life protecting my honor and Landon did sacrifice himself so I wouldn’t have to pay the price. Why with such a gift am I cursed to be the angel of death?


Dear Leaders of Caldona,

As you have been informed, I represent The Duchess of Calemdor and have been designated as her emissary. Once you have had ample time to read her decree I shall request entrance to the fine city of Caldona. If at that time you refuse to open your gates I will have no choice but to declare you enemies of The Kingdom of Strauss for interference regarding a Vanguard matter and issue a notice for your arrests. May I remind you that the consequences include, but are not limited to, the stripping of all land and titles. I am sure that you are willing to see reason and such extremes will not come to fruition.

Best Regards,

Shana Belrose
Honorable knight of The Flaming Vanguard


I can’t wait until I finally step foot beyond those walls and meet face to face with the monsters responsible for the bloodshed. As satisfying as it will be to arrest them for their crimes I regret their inevitable punishment will be a quick and painless death—far too forgiving after using an innocent boy as a tool. 

With both letters sealed and ready for delivery I hand them to an older Vanguard knight. Despite the risk of being shot on sight the twenty year veteran had no qualms with accepting such a dangerous task. I can only hope that Devlin is right in that the messengers’ failure to return will be completely ignored. I fear the worst if those upon the wall hear the fate of their comrades and take the news poorly. 

Most of the soldiers have been milling around the edge of camp since the disturbance this morning so it doesn’t take long before every man, woman, and child are in attendance as Devlin explains the precarious situation. We stand united looking across a barren wasteland to the dark gray walls. The green clad archers populate the battlements so densely the forty foot walls look more like a forest than the stone construct that stands in the way.

Listening to Devlin’s speech reaffirms the drive that brought every last one of us to this place—the desire to defend our home from those who wish to take it away. Though we may be from different backgrounds today we are one people and closer than ever. Even as the sun shines down with its full intensity and the sweltering heat attempts to melt away our resolve, we will adapt and flow as strong as the river towards our destination.

As noon draws near Devlin rallies the masses and whips them into a roaring frenzy. Determined to make our voices heard by the entire city itself, we cheer at the top of our lungs as our messenger breaks rank and sets out on his ride to the city gate. All I can do is watch with bated breath as the lone man leaves the safety in numbers far behind.

No one moves or speaks as we watch the progression, one step at a time, across no man’s land. Cold sweat trickles down my back as nervous anticipation builds. 

A painful five minutes go by as the messenger continues past the halfway mark, the point of no return. My entire body sizzles in the sun as my stress level builds. A void in the pit of my stomach drains every remaining drop of my happiness away. My hands begin shaking and my knees grow weak as despair threatens to overtake me. The angel of death has sacrificed yet another human being like a lamb to the slaughter. 

When will it end? How long do I have to suffer this unquenchable thirst? The sweet nectar of life continues to evade me, turning to poison the moment it touches my lips. How can I learn to love when everything is ripped away the moment I begin to show compassion? Is it my destiny to walk alone in my own barren wasteland for the rest of eternity?

I turn away and push my way toward the back, ignoring the concerned looks as I desperately retreat. I can’t stand to watch the weight of my decisions to come crashing down again. However I don’t make it far before someone grabs me by the arm.

“You know you’re not allowed to run away without at least saying goodbye first,” Jake says.

“I’m not running away,” I reply as I continue working my way through the crowd.

“Oh? What would you call it then?”

“Hiding. It’s far too crowded to run.” As if the universe felt the need to prove a point I reach a dead end. A line of Vanguard knights form an impenetrable wall as they stand shoulder to shoulder. I tell them to move but Jake immediately overrules my command. Like statues they continue to stare straight ahead as they ignore a second request for them to move. “Fine, you win. Happy?” I spin around in defeat and look up into Jake’s eyes.

“I’ll be happy when you smile… for real this time,” he anticipates the inevitable fake smile.

“Jerk.” ‘You just can’t leave well enough alone.’

“Yep, but it’s only because I love you.”

“Shhh!” I cup my hand over his mouth as those around us finally begin to take notice to our being here. “They can hear you, you know,” I hiss.

“Yes, that they can, but it doesn’t really matter if they hear me say I love you, now does it,” he says through my makeshift muzzle and gestures to the men and women looking on. I glare at those I catch smiling and nodding their heads in agreement with him. I feel my inner brat seeping out as they cower from my reaction. 

“You’re not being fair,” I whimper. ‘You know this embarrasses me and still do it anyway.’

“These people want to love you as well and in time I’m sure they will.” 

I look around as even more people nod in response, eagerly listening to his words. ‘Being cared for or caring for me only causes suffering.’  

“They want to trust you but first you need to trust that they follow you of their own free will. They follow you because you have a light within you that makes them feel safe.”

And then they die.’ I look darkly into his bright silver eyes.

Jake sighs as he gets frustrated being the only one carrying on the conversation out loud. ‘You are not the angel of death but even if you were I would still love you.’

Excited chatter buzzes through the air as a brief rumble betrays the opening of the city gates. Ten seconds later the gates once again close. 

“He made it in,” Jake announces.

The top of the wall ripples with green as the trees shed their leaves to the city below, leaving only a handful of green uniforms at their stations. Their withdrawal signifies that at least the immediate threat has been averted. Whether or not they fully cooperate remains to be seen.

Soldiers return to their tents to straighten up the messes they left behind while the commonfolk get to work on preparing lunch. Jake takes me by the hand and leads me back to my tent without saying a word, using the crowd as cover to hide from the Security Council members looking for us.

“I love you,” he says the instant we sit down next to each other on the spread out sleeping bag. 

“I tolerate you,” I jokingly reply, a real smile forms on my lips.

“So I’ve been demoted? And now you can smile about it, I see how it is.” He pretends to be offended and scoots away from me.

“Well, duh. It’s just the two of us now,” I blurt out as I move right next to him again.

“Because someone might hear you accidently say I love you?” He leans back, bringing the mood down with him from flirty to irritating.

I reposition myself until I’m kneeling next to him. “What’s that supposed to mean?” I ask leaning over so that my face is directly above his.

He playfully swats at my hair as it dangles in front of him. “Why are you so afraid of being in love?”

“I’m pretty sure you’ve known the answer to that since the last time it came up.” I lie down next to him and rest my arms along my sides, my hand briefly brushes against his.

“You’re right, I do know the answer but I keep asking because it’s obvious that you don’t. And now you hate me because you can’t even argue against how well I know you,” he laughs softly.

“I’m afraid of myself,” I say after a long silence. I roll on my side to face him just to realize he had already done the same. I pull away slightly out of embarrassment, my cheeks flush to an unbearable level. 

“And so you make up excuses as to why others should be afraid of you too… Miss Angel of Death,” he teases.

“Come on, be serious.”

“I am being serious. If you want to continue thinking of yourself as the angel of death, go for it, but it won’t change who you really are.” He takes my hand and presses it to his lips. “As soon as you can learn to embrace your power you’ll see the light… literally,” he winks. 

“Ha ha, you’re so funny,” I say sarcastically as I wriggle my way closer to him.

“I know I am,” he says coolly. 

He rolls over and straddles my legs, then leans down with his arms on either side of me to kiss my forehead. As he pulls away I follow him, propping myself up on my elbows. He has that look in his eyes, the one he reserves for when he gazes into my very soul. 

Similar to before, the void in my stomach churns but this time it’s as if the switch has been flipped in reverse. Despair recedes as happiness flows endlessly from within the abyss until the void nearly overflows. 

I promised myself that I would never feel this way, convinced that the risk involved surpasses the reward. As my lips meet his I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore. ‘Don’t get any ideas. I’m still not in love with you.’

“But you’re certainly falling-” His words are interrupted as Hesire calls my name from right outside the tent. 

“Uh, just a moment!” I call out to him. To my horror the tent flaps move aside and his tall figure stands frozen in the entryway as we’re mid-kiss. Startled by the unwanted audience my elbows give way resulting in an even more awkward position. Jake’s full weight now presses down on me. I’m sure from Hesire’s vantage point it looks like a whole lot more than kissing. 

A few uncomfortable seconds later he strides over to the table and sets two letters down before scurrying back outside, apologizing profusely and denying having seen anything. Stunned I don’t even attempt to move, with any luck suffocation will soon set in and I will never have to admit that this ever happened.

“Oh. My. Gosh.” I say at last.

“Scarred for life,” Jake says chuckling.

“Him or me?!” I squeal. “On second thought, get off and don’t answer that. You’re enjoying this a little too much.” 

He climbs to his feet and grins. “Just a bit.” 

Jake reaches a hand down to help me up but his laughter from seeing my mortified expression takes away from the gesture. I think for once I’m better off if I don’t get his help

“Even as you slowly die of embarrassment you finally learn something useful,” he snorts. 

It’s sad that my life has to become a joke for one of his lessons to legitimately sink in. The long sought after epiphany, that all this time the only thing holding me back has been myself, eludes me no longer. I have been so obsessed with what others think of me I never stopped to acknowledge whose feelings really matter. Before now I always assumed what others thought of me instead of taking the time to discover the truth. Up until this very moment I was the only one who had ever hurt me. Jake’s laughter over how foolish I’ve been hurts, it hurts because he’s been right all along—and through it all he loves me just the same.

“You were right,” I tell him.

“Right about what exactly?”

“Everything.”

“Even what I was saying before this little mishap?”

“You heard me jerk.” I leave it at that as I pick up the letters and begin reading.


Duchess,

Please forgive my hasty judgement. Allow me to make it up to you by hosting a feast in your honor before uniting our banners before the one true banner.

Regards,

The Baron of Caldona


Because that doesn’t sound like a trap at all.


My Lady Duchess,

I was unaware of your status Your Grace. Please accept my sincerest apologies and enjoy your stay.

Yours humbly,

The Earl of Kelton


I crumple the letters as I clench my fist, an intense fire courses through my veins. My blood boils at their audacity to welcome me in after such a brazen display. Their two sentence apologies are an insult to my intelligence and may as well be an admission of guilt. I promise they will regret allowing me to set foot beyond those walls.

As I rush out of the tent the smoldering remains of their words slowly float to the ground.


© Copyright 2018 T.J. Little. All rights reserved.

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