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The kingdom through the.., p.36
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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.36

           Kell Inkston
 
PARTICULARLY TO MY MOST-TREASURED OF MORTALS. TELL ME OF YOUR THOUGHTS,” Oa says as it kneels down to get a better look at Love, its giant stolen skull glinting dully in the light. The fairies and Knights look to Love, all faces mixed with horror and confusion.

  “Thank you, Oa,” Love begins with perfect serenity as she stares up to the possessed skull that once belonged to a great Outman, “ Actually I’d like you to again reconsider doing this, the fairies are not bad people, just… ignorant… and annoying,” Love says, smiling as she delivers one damning look to Gallin. Hundreds of stolen voices laugh in Oa’s wide, long throat, and Order gives Love a trusting, pained glare; she’s buying time for everyone.

  “OH? OUR FIRST DISCUSSION LEFT SOME DOUBTS?”

  Love nods. “Mhmm. I think now would be a good time to settle this.”

  “AS YOU WISH. LIKE I SAID EARLIER, I WILL TAKE THE SEAT AT THE TEA, AND NOTHING ON THIS EARTH OR ANY OTHER CAN STOP ME. I WILL HAVE HER BACK, YOU SEE, IT IS FATE’S MANDATE.”

  “Now Oa, don’t be selfish,” she says in front of the entire crowd, horrified frozen as the necromancers watch their movements from the roofs.

  “TRULY? I DO THIS ENTIRELY FOR HER, YOU KNOW.”

  “So you two could be reunited?”

  “YES.”

  “If that was your goal, why didn’t you just ... kill yourself back then? You could have spent all this time together, you know,” Love asks. Oa exhales a breeze onto the group, chilling them to the bones.

  “... WELL SAID, SMALL ONE. IN HONESTY I WILL ADMIT I HAD CONSIDERED IT MANY TIMES, BUT I WAS AFRAID. FEAR WAS WHAT HELD MY HAND.” Love raises her head a bit as if she were looking down on Oa, and forms a wanton smirk.

  “But you were fine with taking the lives of others.”

  “THEY WERE AN ACCEPTABLE PRICE TO BRING HER BACK TO HER RIGHTFUL STATE.”

  “All the people you killed would disagree, I think.”

  “POSSIBLY, THOUGH IRRELEVANT.”

  “You don’t care for the decency of life?”

  “ONLY HER OWN AND MINE.”

  “Really? Did you feel nothing in any of those hearts of yours when you butchered people?”

  “... YOU FAIL TO GRASP THE CRUX OF THE SITUATION. I DID NOT ENJOY KILLING THOSE MILLIONS, BUT FOR THE SAKE OF RESEARCH, BOISTERING OUR RANKS, AND SELF-REPAIR I HAD NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER.”

  “I disagree, Oa; you’re pretty wrong there.”

  “OH?”

  “You had the choice to die with her, but instead you’ve been afraid for all these years. All you’ve done is delay the inevitable.” Oa looks to the fairy-folk, the Knights, and then looks back to Love.

  “... JUST AS YOU ARE AS YOU SPEAK TO ME ... YOUR WORDS RING TRUE IN THE EARS OF THOSE AROUND YOU, BUT NOT IN THE EARS THAT WILL AVERT YOUR DEATH. PERHAPS I WAS WRONG ABOUT YOU, KNIGHTESS; YOU ARE TRULY FEARFUL FOR YOUR OWN LIFE.”

  “Possibly, but I do it to help the people around me first. If I can live through this, that’s great, but my biggest goal right now is to either turn you around ... or stop you.”

  “STOP ME? WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO SO? ALL OF MY ACTIONS AND STRATEGIES WERE FLAWLESS. THE ONLY THING THAT COULD STOP ME NOW WOULD BE AN UNPRECIDENTED, UNFORWARNED DISASTER THAT I COULD NOT HAVE PREPARED FOR. NOW WHAT FINAL WORDS DO YOU--”

  Oa stops as it hears the unmistakable, soul-crippling laugh of a certain High Overlord: the true public enemy #1, as he’s been for millennia.

  Everyone looks up to the sky, listening for the voice of a wayward killing machine.

  “Well well well, look what I have found here. Fairlings, is it really true that your adorable high tea is happening in only the next few minutes? I certainly hope I am not late to be given my seat. Oh, and look here! It’s Oa and his trashlings! Been a while since I kicked you poor weaklings around. Of course, my dear masteress Order, I have not forgotten about you either! It really seems as though everyone is here! The only thing that could make this party better would be some ... hmm, yes, some tea!” rings the mysterious voice, vibrating through the souls of everyone in the square. Oa stares upward looking for the source and is struck with a flying tea cup filled with chilled red-leaf from out of the air.

  “WHAT HOLE FROM THE UNDER-HELLS DID YOU CRAWL FROM, MOST DEPRAVED CHAOS?” Oa yells.

  “A small, precious bird spoke into my sharp ear. I have my finest Minion to thank for it. Now, I would love to stay and talk about things but I suppose you are all a bit busy, and while I do enjoy intruding, I also enjoy being punctual. I will be going to the tea, so you all have a lovely time,” Chaos’s ghost-like voice rings out. By this point Order is trembling more at the idea of Chaos’ closeness than the crying crillion planted inside of her. Somehow, by his appearance she knows this is not how she is going to die; only by his hand can her life end, that is the spiritual, unspoken agreement between her and all the forces that control the Omniverse.

  “UNACCEPTABLE. IT SEEMS AS THOUGH YOU FAIRIES AND KNIGHTS ARE THE LEAST OF MY PROBLEMS. BROTHERS IN DEATH, FIND IT, CHASE IT, AND KILL THE MONSTROSITY!” Oa commands, his words striking a few in the crowd as a bit ironic. Eight-tenths of the necromancer horde move to Liefholn keep to locate and engage Chaos, and Oa looks back to the Knights as Gallin quietly creeps their way, along with a shadowy figure dashing out from Liefholn.

  “Not all has gone as planned, eh, Oa?” Love asks with a mix of smarm and pity. Oa scoffs violently, sending a pound of turf soaring from its mouth.

  “THIS IS TRUE, BUT I HAVE MORE METHODS UP MY SLEEVE THAN ONE WOULD EXPECT. THE NIGHT STILL BELONGS TO ME AND MY LOVE. BEHOLD,” Oa says as it again raises its hand to open the seals placed on Lain and Aoline.

  “Oa, please, wait! There’s too many people here, you can’t just--”

  “I CAN. ALL LIVES BELONGED TO ME THE MOMENT I CHEATED DEATH FOR THE FIRST TIME. NOW DIE, WEAK-FLESH. SETLEAN, IMP--”

  “GLORY!” Lain cries just as he lunges at Oa’s heel, the very same moment it begins casting the release spell. “I’ll take you with me you bastard!” he continues, having witnessed Order’s planting by the gardener from within Liefholn and there finally decided he too would do his duty as a Knight. The words of his comrades have caused him to do much thinking over the past day, and guided him back to the greatness he dreamed of as a boy.

  Oa looks down with indignant shock as one of its prepared living bombs clings right to its tree-sized ankle; he hadn’t planned for this sort of contingency. The threat of the giant postponed, Gallin makes his way to the knights and begins working on Order’s ties in a frantic attempt to free her. He’s willing to bet on them now, even at the chance that they are traitors.

  “THIS CHANGES NOTHING. YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN A WASTE,” Oa says, canceling the casting and then removing the seal spell on the two young knights with another spell, so that the two might be killed by Oa personally and prevent the chance of them exploding upon their deaths. Oa also gathers that it will need all the spare mana-control it can get if it will be crossing fists with the legendary High Overlord of Dimension #13, The Unkillable Tyrant, in only a matter of minutes. The spell mark disappears on Lain, and in the same moment he is crushed by Oa’s leg, his blood gruesomely painting the ground. The living graveyard scrapes the crushed body of Lain from underneath its foot, and then raises its foot again to rid the world of Order, and then down the line to Love, Law, and finally, Dresmond.

  Unbound and freed to cast spells the moment Oa raises its foot again, the brilliant masteress Order activates the alteration-magic pathways along her entire body, returning to her the inhuman strength and speed she’s used to. She bolts out of the way in a blink-moment just before Oa’s foot impacts again into the ground. The strike blasts Gallin away, sending him flying into the nearest building and uprooting Love from the constraining vines. Disoriented from the shock, Love stumbles about and is grabbed by Order the second Oa throws down its foot again to step on her. Order puts Love aside and quickly tears the other two Knights from their bindings, saving them too from Oa’s weight.
r />   “MASTERESS KNIGHT. LONG HAVE WE BEEN FIENDS TO EACHOTHER, BUT I ASK THIS TIME THAT YOU JOIN MY SIDE OR LEAVE ME BE. THE RESULT OF CHAOS GAINING THE SEAT AT THE TEA WOULD BE SOMETHING NEITHER OF US DESIRE!” Oa says, focusing its gaze on Order the moment she moves slowly enough to be tracked by its many eyes. Order pauses and enters a combat stance.

  “Love, the weapons!” the Lord Knight General says as she keeps a close eye on Oa for any signs of movement.

  “On my way!” Love responds before she bolts into Liefholn, the most likely place of their confiscated things.

  “YOU ARE MAKING A MISTAKE ... LISTEN TO ME. I WILL SPARE THE FAIRIES, AND THE LIVES OF THE KNIGHTS, BUT YOU MUST FIGHT ALONG SIDE ME! WE ARE ALL HOPELESS SHOULD WE WASTE OUR TIME FIGHTING EACH OTHER. COME WITH ME AND WE SHALL REMOVE HIM,” Oa exclaims, pointing a finger the size of a human towards Liefholn keep.

  Order is quiet a moment and grits her teeth at the thought of working together with Oa. “IF YOU DENY MY GENEROSITY, I WILL NOT HALT TO GIVE MY NECROMANCERS THE ORDER TO SLAUGHTER EVERY FAIRY IN THIS CITY. THEY ALL AWAIT MY COMMAND,” Oa adds, reiterating its point towards Liefholn. Order sighs and then meets her gaze to Oa’s.

  “Alright, we get him and then ... you can have the tea. I don’t want anyone to die here,” Order says. Oa scoffs, and starts to the castle.

  Order rushes to Liefholn Keep with Oa, but spares just a moment to turn her head to Law and Dresmond, gestures her head over to the groups of straggling necromancers around the square, and makes a silent, very un-Order-like throat-cutting motion. Law and Dresmond display that they have the message, the human boy by saluting, and the dragon-kin by making a wide grin. As the two ancient legends enter through Liefholn’s giant gates, Law turns to the downed Gallin, and gets him back to his feet.

  “Are you alright?” Law asks, holding the wavering Gallin a moment to ensure he won’t tip over.

  “A-aye. Th- ... What do you want from me?” Gallin asks with what seems to be the workings of tears building up in his eyes.

  “Rally up your men. We kill these necromancers together, Order’s going to turn on him,” Law says with a direct, striking glare into Gallin’s eyes. The dwarf nods, and makes a signal to a guard up on one of Liefholn’s walls. The guard rushes off to the alarm brazier to alert the troops all over the capital.

 
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