It was over.
Zardria looked up at her with blank eyes, that same small smile on her face. Yarrow reached up and brushed her sister’s eyelids down, glad the woman was finally at peace.
She didn’t know what had happened to Umbra. The Goddess was no longer in Zardria, and so far as Yarrow could tell, no longer around. She sat, almost waiting for an answer from Kore, but none came. Perhaps They are dealing with Their own aftermath, she thought.
“No!” she shouted, and lunged from the door to the hall to where Yarrow was, the bellica’s hands inches from the Magi weapon. Somehow she made it, and wrestled her cousin away from the Magisphere.
“What are you doing?” Yarrow screamed in frustration, and Ghia looked up and saw what was going on across the room.
“Oh, Goddess,” Ghia said, still on the ground by Yarrow. “Is that….”
“It’s Umbra,” Yarrow said, standing and grabbing her sword from where it lay.
Jourd’Selene, 17th Trinnia
She watched things unfold, agony gripping her heart, barely able to believe what happened before her.
Yarrow and Umbra fought in the centre of the hall; the bellica frantically, the Goddess almost lazily. Anala could see, now, though she’d missed it before, that Yarrow’s belly bulged slightly, and she held her breath as she watched the pregnant warrior engage a Deity of unimaginable power.
She woke from darkness to the strangest sight she’d yet witnessed.
Her twin sister, crying as she held Caelum in her arms.
Caelum’s eyes were open, his face caught in a slight smile. He was dead. Yarrow knew this as well as she knew the layout of the castle. Anguish tugged at her heart. Gates of sorrow threatened to open then and engulf her, but she kept the tears back.
She was not thinking when she’d run from the hospitalis, and she was not thinking as she ran into the banquet hall. She did not think as she drew her boot knife, and did not think as she flung it at the chest of Zardria who stood triumphantly over the dead body of Yarrow. Anala did not think until, like a shock to her system, Caelum rose and took the knife in his back.
The signal had been lit. They opened the gates, ready to attack the forces of Voco.
What met their eyes astounded them. Half the Vocans slept peacefully, another quarter stumbled around as if suffering from a hallucinogenic drug, and the final quarter was engaged in battle with Yarrow’s regiment.
She waked with the feeling she had to leave, had to get out of the hospitalis quickly. She got dressed as quickly as her leg would allow and left the room she shared with her mother, who slept peacefully. Anala was gone. Knowing she’d never be let out of the hospitalis alone, she cast a blending over herself and hobbled past the regiment that guarded her domain.
They didn’t see her. She moved on, towards the banquet hall.
She felt an anger she’d never felt before flood her. It was not her other side, she could tell. No, this rage was pure Zardria.
Somehow, against all logic, the empress with no formal fighting training was beating a man who had served beside her mother, and killed her sister — best bellica in the realm — and beaten her Consort to a bloody pulp.
Perhaps that was why.
He was sure the man had not expected the blow that knocked him from his position of choking Yarrow and to the ground. Caelum didn’t give him a chance to regroup. He landed vicious blows across the Vocan’s face, turning the man’s once attractive features into a pulpy mass.
Lord Exsil Vis only laughed, acting as if Caelum had been tickling his face with a feather instead of punching the living Tyvian out of it.
The message from Yarrow had come late in the night; it was only at 2500 hours that Anala had received it from Ghia. It seemed Jester had tried most of the night to get the message through, without much success.
Once they knew what to do, Anala had flown into action; she was still settling her regiments and trying to get the castle ready for the battle ahead. She would not let them attack Lord Exsil Vis’ troops until the regiments from Harbourtown were seen coming into town by a sentry; she wanted a victory, not a bloodbath.