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The kingdom through the.., p.40
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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.40

           Kell Inkston
 
CHAPTER TWENTY NINE: THE TABLE AND THE GUEST

  Oa finishes casting his next banishing spell, and the second Ancient Faery dissipates; if it cannot kill these ancient ones, it might as well put them somewhere else. Oa turns back to the unprotected Pitch, distracted by the droves of necromancers at its command, and prepares its blade. It aims it across the room for the Fairy King; it might catch a few dozen of its own in the strike, but their minds are all together.

  The necromancers all dive to the sides the moment the blade is thrown down at Pitch, who didn’t see it coming. The blade crashes down, and the Fairy King is struck down. The only one that cries out is Tylvania from the back; she’s the only one that has the breathing room to see at this moment. Oa laughs, curdling the blood of the Fairy Queen, turns its head and moves toward Order now. At that, Oa feels a bolt of condensed mana strike it at the neck. It looks to the entryway to find Love.

  “Get out of here,” Love says, staring the horror directly in its face with her bow redrawn. Oa laughs again.

  “DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE I CAN BE MOVED BY THE LIKES OF YOU?” it responds as it watches Love shoot bolt after bolt at the group of necromancers that were originally on Pitch. Oa decides it will kill her first instead.

  “Not really, at least, if you weren’t chopped up into little pieces I suppose I couldn’t- but there’s someone nearby that can do that for me,” Love says, firing her fiftieth bolt in the last twenty seconds. Oa reaches forward, blocks every path of escape, and grasps her with one of its many cold arms. By this point the entire swarm of necromancers is throwing everything they have at Order, distracting her from saving her friend, just as she was for Pitch. Tylvania simply stares from the back, her weaker arrows having proven useless so far.

  “OH? YOU HAVE A FRIEND, DO YOU? WHO WOULD, NAY, COULD WILLINGLY SAVE YOU AT A TIME LIKE THIS?”

  “My Overlord.”

  “YOUR OVER--” Oa stops, its enthused heart suddenly pulsing with terrified blood. It looks up, up into the glass roof, and above in the blackness is a pair of glowing, circular eyes and a hideous, viciously-sharp set of jaws grinning with a madness that outmatches even Oa’s insanity.

  “Well, that will not do at all,” Chaos says from above.

  In frenzy, Oa tries to snap Love’s neck with its thumb, but the roof gives way and the arms holding Love are parted from Oa’s body instantly. The necromancers swarming Order suddenly stop and turn to another target, giving her time to see what’s happening . Her eyes widen with shock and confusion; Chaos just saved Love.

  Oa’s arms smash to the ground just before a freed Love takes to her feet and prepares her bow.

  “I WILL END YOU, OVERLORD!” Oa yells as every necromancer in the vicinity descends on the blacker-than-pitch nightmare king. All of the necromancers wail on the master swordsman Chaos, their knives, swords, axes, razors and blades of all sorts useless against the High Overlord’s light-absorbing body. Chaos shrugs casually as he is assaulted.

  “It seems like you will be having a bit of trouble with that. You see, my dear, disgusting corpse ... tree person ... thing, I have become quite good and proving others wrong across my years,” Chaos says with an untouched grin. Oa roars in rage and begins slamming its sword down at Chaos again and again. Chaos leaps out of the way with effortless mobility, making a mockery of Oa’s strength as it crashes down its blade repeatedly in a rabid confusion.

  “The eyes,” Chaos says to Love, designating her target. She opens fire in the moment and clears out most of Oa’s face, each arrow tearing off a few eyes each. Oa enters a frenzy and begins sweeping the blade across the room. Faster than Oa can see with its hundreds of damaged eyes, Chaos rushes to its side, leaps up, and delivers a mountain-destroying kick to its face.

  Oa’s skull-mask soars off with its lower jaw, sending the necromancer lord flying to the side. Oa squeals with bone-cracking volume as the Overlord rushes up, tears away its sword, and uses it against Oa. Chaos, known to be able to life whole buildings, finds a feat like this easy. The same time there is a great flash of light, opening up the portal to the tea; a long, spiraling hallway of glowing whites and twinkling silvers. Order, freed from the conflict, knows what she must do.

  “I WILL NOT REST, THE TEA IS MINE!” Oa screeches as Chaos uses the sword ten times his size to slash off Oa’s arms one by one. Some of the necromancers split to Love, others to take part of Chaos’ blows, and others to stop him. None are effective in the slightest though, for Chaos is too durable and strong, and Love is too dexterous and intuitive to be foiled by their attempts.

  Only a moment of their conjoined teamwork and Oa is a reduced to a limbless, arrow-infested husk of rage, squirming in an attempt to crush the Knight and the Overlord. Between Chaos’ forceful, train-weighted movements and Love’s unquenchable volley of arrows, the necromancers serving Oa look more in common to piles of garbage than anything else.

  “I AM ETERNAL I WILL NOT DIE. YOU WILL ALL BE DUST BY THE TIME THE NEXT TEA COMES, BUT I WILL REMAIN! I WILL HAVE HER BACK! MY SPIRIT WILL BOND TO MY REALM IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOU KILL THIS VESSAL. YOU’RE COMPLETELY NOTHING TO ME! YOU CAN KILL THIS BODY, BUT I HAVE A TRILLION MORE TO REPLACE IT!” Oa screams as Chaos poises his blade at Oa for the final time tonight. The Overlord lets down his blade at Oa’s skull, splitting it open and sending the shards of flesh, bone, metal and bark flying to all corners of the room with a wave of old, blackened blood. Oa’s body goes limp, just as Redemption and the rest of the Royal Knights rush into the room. They spot Oa, motionless, and Chaos looming over the gigantic corpse in victory.

  “You, demon! Where’s Knight Order?” Redemption yells while throwing an authoritative point of the hand towards Chaos. The Overlord looks over to the portal of the High Tea, and sees Order making quick time to the table far down the ethereal hall. Chaos’ grin flickers just a moment before he turns back to Redemption and the other Knights.

  “Terribly sorry, my dear lady, I have an appointment that I cannot miss,” Chaos says, before turning around back to the portal and rocketing in. Redemption throws a few nasty words at Chaos for calling him a “lady” and then spots Order rushing down the hall.

  “Courage, go!” Redemption commands, sparing a glance to the barbarically-clothed, short-haired lady with a reckless grin on her face and her dire wolf companion. There’s only one Knight that can move faster than Order.

  “Let’s go, Cyt!” Knight Courage says, leaping in the air and brandishing her jagged, long spear.

  “As you wish, m'lady!” Cytowyn the Dire Wolf says just as he darts directly underneath her, promptly mounting her upon himself, and dashing into the portal. Courage and her great canine bolt in through the portal, hot after the two.

  Using speed-enhancing magic, Order is about eight-tenths of the way through the hall, but coming up on her left is Chaos, laughing the way he usually does when he’s been challenged. Order checks her six just in time to evade a thrust from Chaos’ razor-sharp arm and also spotting Bravery storming towards the two of them.

  Chaos and Order reach the end of the hall, blocked by a set beautiful of doors. The Overlord steps forward to Order to take another shot at her as a voice at the other side starts up.

  “Ahh, what manner of racket is this?” a voice rings out from the doors.

  “The rightful Overlord of Everything, I have come for the tea!” Chaos responds first as he throws more dismembering punches at Order, each one barely evaded.

  “Don’t listen to him!” Order says, stressed for breath as she watches for any of Chaos’ very slight, very quick telegraphs before he sends another strike.

  Back in the tea room, Redemption watches with wide eyes. He presumes at first that there’s no way any of the other Knights could be of help at that distance, but after pondering it he realizes that isn’t quite true.

  “Love!” Redemption cries out. A winded Love steps over.

  “Yes ... eh, sir?” she asks between breaths. Redemption nods his head to the portal.

  “Can you make that sho
t?” he asks, eyes still focused down the hall, watching Order scarcely dodge Chaos’ strikes. Love looks down and nods, Tylvania and the fairies grieving over the dying Pitch, beyond saving though the Knights are doing their best.

  “Yes, I suppose I can make that,” Love says, pulling up her bow for one last shot. She pulls back her string, takes a deep breath, and feels another magic bolt materialize in her hand. In this case, it will need some additional kick to it considering the physical resistance of her target, so she focuses ten times the usual mana into it, increasing its penetrating force. Love aims very carefully, making absolutely sure that her mark is where she wants it.

  Back in the hall, the voice behind the door responds.

  “Well, who is it, then?”

  “Tis I.”

  “Me!” Chaos and Order exclaim simultaneously.

  “Hmm, this simply won’t do at all. Here, I’m going to make another hall for you all to walk through, and by then you need to decide for sure who’s coming, alright?”

  “Alright!”

  “As you wish,” Order and Chaos respond in their own ways.

  “Very good then!” the voice says just before the doors fly open to a brighter, much longer hallway. The unarmed Chaos takes another shot at the unarmed Order before Courage and Cytowyn zoom up from behind and pick her right off the ground. Chaos is left watching as Cytowyn, thought to be the fastest of the Knights thanks to his myriad of speed-augmenting enchantments, ushers the two Knights a quarterway down the long hall in a matter of seconds.

  "This simply won’t do," he thinks to himself.

  “Hastenteil!” Chaos casts, spending an exuberant amount of mana to forgo 97% of the spells’ incantation. To improve his speed further, he pushes his essence out and "releases it", tripling his speed. Order listens to what sounds like a rockslide of metal crashing behind them. She looks and sees Chaos right on their tail, moving at roughly the same speed.

  “Guys, he’s right on us,” Order says as she stares behind her with wide eyes.

  “Hell no, how?” Courage asks, glancing briefly with Order to spot the rocket-speed Overlord casting what looks to her to be a magic lance spell.

  “He's going to try t'cripple you, Cytowyn. Punch it- everything you have!” Order commands.

  “We don’t have enough mana flow!” Courage says, referencing a person’s ability to manipulate the source of magic inside of oneself.

  “I’ll take care of that!” Order says as she lays hands on Cytowyn and instills mana at a deafening speed. Cytowyn’s eyes spark blue while a grin spreads across his canine face.

  “Alright! This is more like it!” he says, exerting the extra mana the moment he gets it and nearly doubles his speed. Chaos needs to take this chance; he’ll need a spell that can break through the barrier all three of them may put up, and still be strong enough to cripple Cytowyn. Chaos continues making hand gestures of an arcane sort, and then speaks.

  “Imbue, Chasen Lancyl- be mine,” he utters, skipping most of the incantation again for the trading of mana for speed. Chaos’ arm ignites with a raging blue fire, pulsating viciously in search of something to consume. It gradually forms into a throwing spear and is then arched by Chaos for the throw.

  Far behind the four, several Knights watch their trusted Love make her final estimate; she knows that Chaos won’t miss, so she can make a much safer guess as to her target’s position by the time it reaches down her range. She takes a breath and releases the monstrously-strong arrow from her grasp just as Pitch breathes out his final words:

  “From nature, to eternity- I now step,” he says as the light dies from him.

  Back down the hall, Chaos throws the spear forward and is quickly met with shield spells from both Order and Courage. It isn’t enough; however, for the two of them are too busy imbuing mana into Cytowyn to create an effective barrier. The bolt of magic strikes Cyt through the legs, sending him to the ground instantly. Order, who wasn’t holding on as well as Courage, is sent flying down the hall. Courage gets up from her wolven companion to face Chaos, but is crossed at the face by the Overlord with the force of a speeding train. The bloody-faced Courage spins out and falls only a few feet from Cytowyn, both out cold and bloody.

  Order takes the landing perfectly and tears down the hall, using her mana to increase her speed many times that of a common human. She’s only seconds from the door. She’ll make it there before Chaos if nothing interrupts her. Then, she is interrupted.

  A long, magic bolt of mana shoots straight through her leg and sends her to the ground. Order spends one moment before crashing to look behind her and spot, just at the edge of her vision, Love with her bow. Had she the time, Order would yell, cry, and cuss at her so-called friend, but she's quick to the ground. The Masteress Knight tumbles across the white hall, her crimson painting it in a row, and there she stops only a meter from the door.

  Chaos comes up with an expression of mock-concern and then speaks, grinning side to side. “What a shame that you do not have friends like mine, my dear. You really should choose better company,” he says before stepping into her left arm and passing her up to the door. Order pulls as much breath she can into her lungs and screams as she smashes her right fist down to the floor.

  “Why, hello there, tea person. Tis I, your beloved Overlord, here for the tea,” Chaos begins, looking down at Order at the corner of his eye.

  “Oh, hello there! Did you two finally settle things?” the cheery voice asks from the other side.

  “We certainly did. It will be me, this dimension’s highest Overlord, to sit with you and discuss things,” the dimension’s highest Overlord says with a wide, overpowering grin.

  “Oh, goodie! Come right in!” the voice says before the doors open into a descriptionless realm of unprecedented beauty. Order does not even look through the doors as they open, she only looks back, watching Love wave and then walk away. The doors shut, the hallway impends upon itself, and Order suddenly finds herself coupled with Courage and Cytowyn out of the hall, in front of a shocked Redemption.

  “Ranalie! What happened?” Redemption asks, his eyes unable to reach that far into the mile-long hall. Order is hard for words as the three downed Knights are surrounded by others that know healing magics. It takes her a moment.

  “Daniel,” she says.

  “Yes?” Redemption returns.

  “Love shot through my leg,” she says with a blank, bewildered expression. Redemption spares a quick glance behind him, and realizes that Love is nowhere in sight.

  He shakes his head. “... She must have missed.”

  Order squints her eyes. “... She never misses. I’ve never seen her miss,” she says.

  “Then why?” Redemption asks, watching Order's wounds disappear under the lighted, magic-bound hands of the fellow knights.

  “I think ... I think Chaos was the help she found; yeah, something like th--”

  “What?”

  “We needed someone to save us from Oa, and it turned out to be him.”

  “... But she shot you!”

  “Yes, I think that’s because ... I don’t know why. Maybe she knew I couldn’t handle that sort of ... gift,” Order says, her eyes trailing off down the hall where Meeo had appeared during the fight.

  “Don’t be crazy. We both know you’d be one of the best-suited people to have taken the seat at the High Tea.”

  “... Daniel.”

  “Yes?”

  “We both know that’s not true. I would have asked for the same thing Oa would’ve.” Redemption's grasp on Order's hand tightens.

  "That's not true!" he says.

  "I miss them. I miss them so much," Order mutters, tears failing to collect in her cold eyes.

  “Who?” Redemption asks, pressing into Order.

  She’s silent, and with a wide eyed stare shakes her head. “I don’t even remember their names,” she says, staring at the stars above through the broken glass ceiling. Redemption sighs and continues.

  “It
doesn’t matter, she attacked a fellow Knight, and as such should be marked as a traitor. We’ll find her and bring her to justice,” Redemption says after loosing a hot breath of air. Order looks down, and sees that the healing magic placed on her has almost finished doing its job. She moves again, and stands upright.

  “Alright, let’s get--” she stops, feeling a shot of blood welling up in her throat. Order is quickly put back to the ground by the Knights, and Redemption points out the obvious.

  “Did you forget? Idiot- You still have the seed inside of you! We’ll have to remove it here too,” Redemption says. Order strains once more to stand, but Redemption keeps her close.

  At this, time passes as the healing Knights work together with a fairy-execution specialist to remove the seed entirely and heal her to perfection; thankfully no specific organs were damaged, as they prove to be a much-more complicated procedure than simple wounds, breaks, and burns. The Knights wait patiently for Chaos to emerge. When he does, he simply tears open a dimensional portal and leaps in, but not before calling Redemption a “beautiful and refined woman of aristocracy”. After that, there was more patrolling about for any straggling threats, and after was discussion, apologizing on the side of the fairies, and a small ceremony to crown the young fairy prince, Tylvania and Pitch’s only child, Oberon. Once Order was back on her feet she immediately began searching for Love and by tracing her mana signature, Order found it led into the Knight’s guest quarters and then into Everlock; Aoline also seems to be missing. Order takes a guess that she is holding up with Chaos, and that her trail could be followed through Negative Space and into Chaos’ own home. She discusses this with Redemption and they decide to set forth on an official expedition to hunt Chaos through the confiscated Everlock once they’ve properly prepared and chosen the appropriate Knights to join them on the mission. Afterwards, the bodies of the dead were collected, and the Knights set off, the kingdom of fairies saved, but the High Tea and the King of the Fairies, lost.

 
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