A Voice Whispers
I’m not sure how we ended up where we were. The five of us were all sitting (and perched) around a table inside an inn a few miles outside of town. None of us had really spoken yet, the shock was still too great and too recent. Right now we were the only ones who had an idea of what had just happened.
Master looked at me with a sad tilt of his head. I gave a slight shake of mine in return and took a long hard drink of ale. The four of us should have seen it coming, should have realized that our plans could be so fragilely ripped apart.
“-On the eve of your Sixteenth Birthday, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and you will fall into a death-like sleep and there you will sleep for a hundred years until he awakens you with a kiss.”
Everything was going as planned so far. I kept switching between my normal sight and the Story sight to see how things were unfolding. I could see the magic swirling around the King Queen Child and Dark Queen. The magic binding things into place and securing that this part of the story was finally done.
Curse on the child. Check! Now to just get out of here safely and everything will be great. But why was I starting to feel this impending sense of doom?
I kept my face a mask of a smile, just one that rang a little like evil. It didn’t matter that much anymore. Dark Queen Allouise turned around and started to walk back to me. We would need to run most likely any moment now. Maybe this feeling was knowing I was going to need to put up a good act about fighting off Red and Violet to get away?
I closed my eyes for a second, not paying attention to the stir among the people, switching again to “story magic vision” as I’m starting to call it. Something wasn’t right here, the king was suddenly not surrounded by magic anymore. Like his part was finished or…
“Arrest those two immediately!”
Narrowing my eyes I saw something thin and small, something that looked like a bead, following the trail I saw it float up high into the upper reaches of the castle. My mind went blank for a moment, as I spied something glinting in the light, Something that had no place in this world at all. My eyes met with those of the one holding the weapon that shouldn’t exist in this world, I could feel his smile at me when he noticed I had realized his presence. Those blue eyes no doubt filling with sadistic red as the hooked hand laid across the trigger of his sniper rifle.
I turned around, reaching out my had to gather magic and push the king out of the way. Everything moving slow, like time itself was preventing me from stopping this. The words on my tongue as I tried to give a warning to them.
I watched the blood, bone and brain matter splatter all over behind the King. The hole in his head going clean through, feeling sick to my stomach as I found myself peering through the hole watching the remaining goop and blood that had been his brains and back of his head dripping down and leaking out the back.
He remained standing only a few seconds longer before falling to the ground. Collapsing into a heap as time began to move normally once again. The crowd around us started to panic and flee, gripping hold of Allouise’s hand I pulled her along and tried to figure out how to escape. She was looking at me with eyes unseeing, unable to comprehend what had just occurred.
The guards were trying to fight their way through the fleeing crowd toward us. Crisis sense gave me a half flash of warning, I ducked under a spell that was aimed right for my head. Watching the jet of red light soar off and hit one of the running civilians. They collapsed in a heap and disappeared in the mass of running bodies. I grimace and hoped the guy would be ok.
Looking behind me I see the Fairies starting to fly up and attack us. Part of me starting to worry if there was murder in those eyes as I clench my jaw and start to swirl the magic around myself. Stirring up the wind around me as I look at Allouise.
“Now would be a good time to get us out of here.”
“You just… That wasn’t…”
“That wasn’t my doing! But no one else here is going to believe that! Get us-”
I duck another shot of magic in my direction and whip forth a blast of air sending all nine fairies flying up toward the ceiling. We gotta keep moving. Allouise still seems to be out of it as I pull her along trying to keep the crowd between us and the guards trying to make their way into the hall. The ones who might be closer were trying to cover the queen and convince her to escape as she collapsed over her husband, crying and begging for him to get up.
Violet and Red started rushing toward me, shadows rising from the ground as they jumped in close, Red swinging his sword at me, but his movements were not as fast he could go. I blocked him and we stood still blade crossed with staff as we tried to look like we were fighting as the shadows surrounded us.
A tug at my feet and the noise of the hall vanished. Or rather muffled while I felt a jerk of something pulling me away from things. I could feel a hand in each of mine, Violet grabbing hold of my right while I kept the Dark Queen in my left. A moment of supreme blackness before we arrived inside Violet’s study chamber.
Violet hurriedly moved over to the desk and started grabbing things stuffing them into her belt pouch while shooting glances to me. I couldn’t move anymore and just stood there while Red and Violet did everything else.
“The hell was that?” Red demanded while looking between me and Violet hoping for answers.
“Sniper Rifle… Though how Captain Hook got his hands on one… it doesn’t matter right now. We have to get out of here before the other mages activate the wards.”
I look up questioningly. “What wards?”
“You know that feeling of being watched? Its wards track every person in this city. It does it passively marking who and when someone arrives. Once they get organized enough to start searching for you two there won’t be a place in the city to hide from the guards or the army.”
“So we need to get out now. Can you teleport us out of the city?”
Violet shook her head. “This is about as far as I can take four people. Alone, I could get to the city wall but that is the extent of my reach at Rank 1.”
I look at Allouise, she stares back at me unblinking. To her, the main reason she had done all of this was now in shambles. An unrequited love murdered in front of her and probably believing it was me still.
“That wasn’t me. It was an enemy of mine. He was out to destroy my plans.” I ignored Violet’s questioning glance. She was still trying to finish packing some things she needed. This wasn’t the time to be explaining myself.
She nodded half-heartedly, I’m not sure if she believed me or not. But right now she was probably our best chance to get out without fighting the entire city off while we escaped.
Outside, I could hear tower bells ringing out alarms across the city. They were no doubt already starting the manhunt to find us. We were running out of time. I don’t want to hurt a bunch of people just trying to escape. And I wasn’t going to surrender either, this was beheading kind or wrongdoing and I knew there was no one who’d believe talk about sniper rifles.
“You’ve got to get us out of here before they come to kill us. It doesn’t have to be back to the castle, Just outside the city as far as we can get. Just like you planned before this.”
She nodded blankly and raised her staff starting to begin the teleportation spell. I didn’t think there was anything I could do to help her right now. Red was watching her casting, giving me a curious side glance as I walked over to the side, using my magic to send Master a quick message letting him know we were escaping.
A few moments later we were just outside a village on the western side of the kingdom. Far enough away that the capital would take a day or two of hard riding to reach if they had ways to track us from there. The next several moments were a blur as we found a place to sit down inside the local inn and just take time to let everything that had just happened in the last hour started to sink in. Sitting in silence until Master arrived and we started to fill him in.
Violet sighed shaking her head. “With the King dead, the country won’t be able to fend off that… That monster from invading, and we’ll lose everything. We should probably go find a new place to start this story all over again. It’s hopeless to-”
“What?” “Master?” “Clarion-san?”
“If this tale absolutely needed Sleeping Beauty to be a princess with a living father then maybe. But there are other alternatives to think about. That isn’t the only version of the tale. Though as close to the Brothers Grimm and Perrault’s narrative the story has been, it could also be turned easily to Basile’s or even Perceforest. Ye cannot simply think that one story has to conform to what ye know of the tale. Story Magic can be quite flexible in that regard.”
That made sense. We just had a beginning of a tale started, and one that could still continue despite the problems we might be facing here. A murdered King didn’t change anything, just made it more difficult. Red nodded and spoke out quietly.
“Hook did say he wasn’t going to make it easy. He hasn’t ruined the story, yet. He got the better of us, but as Clarion-sama says. We don’t have to abandon the story just yet.”
Violet shook her head with a sardonic laugh glancing between the two of them. “The one problem is that we still have to fight off him. We aren’t strong enough to even face him. None of us are. Alone or fighting together, you all will be dead and he’ll… I won’t let him.”
“We have time to plan. He won’t know about the King’s death for a couple of days at best. And even then we have a few more days to counterattack if he invades. Maybe there is something the four of us can do that ye haven’t thought of.”
Dark Queen Allouise simply sat quietly in her chair listening to us talk in our exclusive language, I don’t think she even cared or knew what was going on around her. Just sitting quietly and letting the drink in front of her warm to room temperature.
There was a banging noise as someone barged into the inn, nearly knocking the door off its hinges. A soldier panting hard and looking like he had just ridden using most of his life force just getting here. The five of us tensed fearing that somehow the message of the king’s death had spread faster than we had hoped.
“T-the Mourcelines! Lord Ran… He’s invading!”