CHAPTER 9

Thick blood seeped through the gaps in the road.

Bodies lay slumped against stalls and houses. Most were dead, others dying. The ones who were gone made no sound while those on their way moaned and cried. Some begged for help while others cried in fear, and there were those screaming for others to run.

Two men appeared before him, each brandishing a pike. They lunged at him but he ducked and swung out his sword, cutting their abdomens open. The two men cried as their blood spilled to the floor before they fell onto the pool of red. He carried on up the road.

Thunder.

Though the day was bright and the sky was clear, there was a sound of thunder. A greater power disapproved. He would welcome rain now for the air was sweltering. A door to his right opened and he met eyes with a women. She held the crying baby close to her chest while her other hand pushed a little girl behind her back into the house.

A warrior charged at him, this one armoured better than the last two. They exchanged blows and traded wounds but at last the warrior fell. More came to engage him and more fell to his sword. He grew tired and weary but something empowered him, giving him strength when he felt weakened. He felt his blood boiling and his muscles tensing.

The woman did not scream when he kicked the door open. She stood at the far end of the room, a look of defiance firmly gripped on her face. Behind her the little girl held on to a bundle. The little girl whispered and coaxed but the baby kept on crying. Now the woman was shouting at him, warning him and threatening him. But when he approached her, she lost hope and her tears betrayed her. She fell to her knees and she begged.

For her baby she begged. For her daughter she begged. For her son she also begged.

Mother, Fayte said, reaching to help her up. Mother, I am here to save you!

As he reached forward and pulled her up, Fayte saw instead his hand drawing his sword. A blade of gold curved with malice. His mother lunged forward and seized him by the waist, holding him down as she screamed. Primrose shook her head once, twice, before she knew she had to escape. She ran with Priscilla in her arms.

Fayte swung and cut down his sister.

"NOOOO!" He turned to his mother and raised his curved sword. "NO! NO! NOOO!"

A flash of light blinded him and he felt his ears go deaf. He fought and he struggled and soon his vision returned. Fayte heard voices everywhere, yelling at him, screaming at him. Slowly he could feel arms holding him down and he saw strange faces all around him. Faces and arms that resembled men’s but were hard and grey like stones.

Three earth elementals were holding him down.

"Fayte!" The voice was familiar. "Calm down, my friend! Fayte, listen to my voice, listen to it and calm yourself. You are safe now. It was only a nightmare!"

"Knock him out," another voice said plainly.

"No!" said the familiar voice. "I will not have him return to his nightmares again. Fayte! Calm down now, calm yourself! Please!"

I killed Primmy, he thought. I killed Primmy! It was me! I was the one who killed Primmy! "I KILLED PRIMMY! NO! NOOO!"

"Losing his mind."

"I can see that!" the other voice snapped. "Fayte, that is not true! You did not kill Primrose, alright? Listen to me, you did not kill Primrose! The Saldarians did it, not you! It was a nightmare. Just a nightmare. You didn't kill your sister."

"I killed her!" Fayte could see the face of a human now, a guy with blonde hair. "I killed Primmy! Then I killed Priscilla! And my mother as well! I KILLED THEM! I KILL THEM ALL!"

"Fayte!"

Emily. He stopped. Emily.

Another face came into view, a girl with large clear eyes and long dark hair, spiralling down as they hung over him in curls. She swept her hair aside and touched his face. Her hand was cool on his cheek and Fayte found himself relaxing, longingly to hold her hands again.

"Wilson, he's burning up!" Emily said. "Why haven't you healed him?"

"Not a fever," a voice said, one that sounded neither bored not interested. "Remnants of corruption."

"Fayte was corrupted by a scale of Ra’gelor," Wilson said, shaking his head. "I didn’t expect he would just pick it up."

"Ra’gelor?"

Wilson and Emily looked away from him. He saw Wilson rolling his eyes before glancing at him. Fayte could feel himself shaking now and he was covered in cold sweat. The elementals holding him down were hurting him and as if they read his mind, he felt them easing off though not completely.

"How did one of his scale fall loose?"

"I don't know," Wilson said. "Perhaps the demon bumped into a tree or something."

"And it resulted in this? We could hear his cries outside the tower. It sounded as though the demon had possessed him." Wilson was getting irritated. "How do we know that Fayte hasn't been- Hey!"

Wilson turned back to look.

"Leave this room," Kestel said, following by the sound of a book being flung into the air. "You are unwanted."

His friend was grinning. "Are you feeling better, Fayte?"

Fayte did his best to nod. It was difficult enough with an earth elemental holding him down. The shivers and shakes were not helping.

"Who killed your family?"

"The Saldarians," Fayte said weakly, but his thoughts were clear now. "I dreamt that I was one of them. I… I've never had that dream before."

That seemed to assure Wilson.

"Kestel, please, he means no ill," Emily said. "He is only here to defend us."

"Make, him, leave," Kestel said, his patience tested and soon to be lost.

Emily's expression hardened. "Kestel, sooner or later you must accept that-"

Fayte felt a rumble from underneath him and suddenly there was a loud barking. The sudden appearance of the large dog made Emily jump and Fayte could hear the sound of swords being drawn. The thing is Fayte had spent years hearing the sound of sharpened steel leaving its sheath. He had grown used to it so it was distinct to him when he heard a sound unfamiliar to his ears, though it wasn't the first time he heard it. There was a distinct sound to steel sliding against steel.

As there was to gold sliding against steel.

"Scygard…" Fayte could feel his strength returning.

Wilson was surprised when he heard him.

"SCYGARD!"

Fayte slipped from the elementals and he shoved Wilson aside. There were more people in the room than he realized, but Fayte's eyes were locked onto the figure with the golden curved blade. He reached the Scygard in a mere second.

"I WILL KILL YOU!"

There were screams and yells before a flash of light blinded him. The chill of winter scratched his skin but Fayte was unfazed.

"SCYGARD!" he screamed, hearing the ice hardening as his tried to reach the Saldarian warrior. Fayte was bruising himself and the ice was not giving way but he did not care. "I WILL KILL YOU! I WILL TEAR YOUR HEAD FROM YOUR-"

A strip of ice formed over his mouth and Fayte felt someone grab the back his head. A soothing energy began to pour into him and slowly, he felt himself growing weaker but he was calming down too.

"It bothers me to see how foolish the Princess has become," an old woman said. "As well as those around her."

The Scygard stepped aside along with Commander Reyner and two other knights. Only the Whiteguard seemed wise enough to have not drawn his sword when the only threat was a single dog. Kestel's companion was now sitting in front of Fayte, licking at the ice as though trying to free him.

"Archimage Lasandra," Emily said, stepping forward with none other than her betrothed.

Rinmar La'ou. Fayte met with the Saldarian's green eyes as Wilson removed his hand.

Emily and Rinmar hurried in front of Fayte, holding hands as the old lady stepped through the wide doors. Behind her was a wizard draped in a flowing robe of crimson and amber. The two royals bowed.

"Princess Emily Whiteart and Prince Rinmar La'ou offers our greetings to-"

"Quiet," Archimage Lasandra said. "Idiots the lot of you."

Emily flinched at the harshness of her tone while Commander Reyner's eyes widened though he said nothing.

"You as well, Reyner."

"But I said not a word, my lady," the Commander of the Whiteguards went.

"Exactly! Have you no mind of your own to lend your voice to the High Sage?" Archimage Lasandra turned around to Emily, her sapphire robes swirling. "And have you no common sense? Or has your coming wedding dull your mind to the point where you think yourself wise enough to chide the High Sage of Hylan, you insolent child?"

Rinmar stepped in front of Emily. "I will not have anyone speak to-"

A staff of ice flashed into existence and smacked the Prince across the face. And just as the Scygard moved to defend his Prince, Icildix, the ice staff of Archimage Lasandra, touched the ground and the Saldarian warrior was trapped in ice just like Fayte.

"I am the Archimage of the Order of the Elements. I’ve lectured the King himself when he was a boy and not even his father dare threaten me. Know your place, Saldarian."

Prince Rinmar was bleeding now but it was his pride that was wounded. Emily didn't dare to go to him, not when the Archimage was in such a foul mood. Instead she went to her knees and Rinmar was quick to follow.

"Forgive me, Archimage," Emily said. "I… I have spoken out of place in the presence of the High Sage."

"It is obvious that the scale of Ra’gelor corrupts with rage," the Archimage explained. "And we all know the history that the Kaywin family shares with the Saldarians. Did you think it was wiser of you to introduce your friend to your Prince's guardian at this time?"

Emily shook her head. "No, it was not."

"It was not indeed," said the Archimage. "He is a boy but he was not named the High Sage of Hylan without reason. Here in our nation we find it queer that he speaks in threes and only threes. But there are those beyond the Northern Gate who would name him ruler for that very reason. The next time you think the High Sage speaks out of his own grudges, I advise you, Your Grace, think again."

She tapped Icildix on the ground and the two ice blocks crumbled to the ground. Commander Reyner jerked his head at the Scygard who promptly sheathed his sword and pull his green cloak over it. At first Fayte just kept glaring at the Saldarian warrior, but there was something calming about being trapped in that block of ice. Whatever Wilson did helped as well. When he finally looked away, he met eyes with the Archimage and Fayte held his head low in respect.

"Would it be true of me to send word to your father telling him that you are well now?" she asked.

Fayte wasn't exactly sure but he nodded.

"Can I trust that nod, High-" Archimage Lasandra paused when she found the High Sage sitting at a corner of the room reading his book. "Sage…"

"Ask the priest," was all he said like he didn't want to be bothered.

The Archimage turned to Wilson.

"I have sealed the scale with a null-barrier," Wilson said. "It has been sent to the White Light herself to be reinforced for I am only familiar with the basics of nullification magic. Fayte will recover as remnants of the corruption we witnessed earlier fade."

"Good, then I will tell your father that you are well and advise him not to halt your pilgrimage."

Not to halt? It was only then that Fayte realized they didn't know about Jeremiah's dagger.

"The assassin that attacked me had Jeremiah's dagger with him," said Fayte, his frustration rising. "Didn't any of you know that?"

From the look on their faces, no one did.

Commander Reyner stepped forward. "What do you mean?"

"That dagger belongs to Jeremiah?" Wilson said. "Why would the assassin have it on- Oh no."

The Whiteguard took Fayte by the shoulders. "What of my nephew? What happened to him?"

"I DON'T KNOW!" Fayte yelled, shoving the Commander of the Whiteguards away with little effort. "I WAS KNOCKED OUT! YOU PEOPLE WERE AWAKE! AWAKE! AND NONE OF YOU DID ANYTHING!"