The Knight and His Squire 2
Copyright© 2015 by Spherical Spoon
The week passed uneventfully, as Rohea regained his strength and agility. Although he was still slightly sore, he felt well enough to travel, and he felt honor-bound to inform Puccar.
"Are you sure?" Puccar said. "It has only been a week since you were sliced open. We can afford to wait a few more days."
"Pyar should have arrived in Wolle by now," Rohea said. "If she succeeds, we will hear of the good news before we arrive, regardless of whether we wait or not."
Puccar nodded and said, "Very well, let us make arrangements for travel then."
The party of four packed their belongings and mounted their horses. Soon, they were riding towards Wolle. After they had ridden for an hour, Feisty began to become fidgety. Rohea raised his hand to signal to his companions, and they all stopped.
"I suspect there is a trap ahead," Rohea said.
"Mages?" Puccar asked, looking at Feisty.
Rohea nodded and replied, "Possibly. They may have been sent after Pyar arrived in Wolle."
The party dismounted, and Rohea and Puccar put on their armor. Rohea winced as he secured his armor tightly. Rohea strapped his shield across his left arm, and placed his right hand close to his sheathed sword. Puccar did likewise, and instructed his squire to walk behind him.
Before long, they made out a small figure in the distance. It looked like a teenager whose legs were tied together. Puccar squinted and made out the clothes the teenager was wearing.
"Sir Rohea! That looks like one of our pages."
"Fleomr!" Rohea called out.
The teenager brought his head up at the sound of Rohea's voice, but frantically shook his head from side to side.
Rohea and Puccar looked at each other and nodded. They signaled for the others to wait, and the pair ran towards Fleomr, with Rohea lagging behind due to his injuries. Puccar arrived first and pulled off the cloth covering Fleomr's mouth.
"Sir Puccar," Fleomr said, "it's a trap!"
"We know," Puccar replied.
"But why come for me then?"
"Honor demands that we save an innocent," Puccar replied as Rohea reached the duo. "Regardless of whether it is a trap or not."
A loud crackle from the side caught their attention. Rohea and Puccar instinctively turned and raised their shields, as a large fireball flew towards them. The fireball hit squarely on their shields, and it was so large that it began to wrap itself around the shields. The heat began to singe and burn their arms, but Puccar and Rohea held fast, knowing that releasing their shields would mean certain death. Finally, the heat dissipated and the pair lowered their shields slightly, breathing heavily.
A voice called out, "Innocent? The boy is no innocent! He is an agent of the dark practitioner!"
"Reveal yourself!" Rohea replied.
The same voice replied from a different direction, "So that you may attack me? I am no fool, Sir Rohea."
"So you know who we are," Puccar said, "and that we serve the King. How dare you attack us, mage?"
"You serve the dark practitioner, Maes!" the voice replied. "She has placed all of you under her spell."
"If that is the case," Puccar said. "Then shouldn't you try to reverse the spell instead of killing us?"
The voice laughed, the sound coming from yet another direction, "It is too late for that."
A fog seemed to form before their very eyes, obscuring their vision beyond a few feet. Rohea quickly freed Fleomr from the remainder of his binds, and the three stood close together. Suddenly, a shout was heard from afar, in the direction of Maes and Puccar's squire.
"Maes!" Rohea exclaimed. He turned and started to run back towards the horses.
Puccar and Fleomr followed suit, and Puccar said softly, "Beware, Sir Rohea. It may be another trap."
"Trap or not, we must ensure that Maes and your squire are safe," Rohea replied urgently.
As they got closer to their original position, they caught a whiff of roasted flesh. Rohea and Puccar nodded at each other and sprinted as quickly as they could.
Puccar's horse was laying on its side, its skin blackened from heat, and its flesh roasted to charcoal. Puccar's squire laid nearby, looking badly burned and barely alive. Maes was kneeling beside him, with her hands over his chest, deep in concentration.
Maes shook her head, "I ca-can't do it! It isn't working, I can't heal him!"
Rohea arrived and put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Calm down, Maes. You have it in you."
Maes blinked away the tears that had formed in her eyes, and tried again. A warm glow emanated from her palms. The glow flowed towards Puccar's squire, and also seemed to push back at the magical fog.
"An abomination!" the voice called out.
"She has demonstrated her dark powers, she must die," the same voice said, in a different direction.
"Yes, let us put an end to all of this," the same voice said again, from a third direction.
As the fog lifted, three figures could be seen a short distance away. In unison, they lifted their hands towards the sky. Rohea tore his eyes off of them and glanced upwards, and gasped. A huge fireball was forming in the air above them, and looked to be about to hit them at any moment.
"Run!" Puccar yelled, grabbing Rohea's arm.
"There is no time," Rohea replied. He reached behind his shield, and retrieved a small flask. Taking a quick sip, he passed the flask to Puccar.
Puccar nodded and took a small sip, and handed the flask to Maes. "Quick, drink the remainder," he said to Maes.
Maes took the flask and brought it to her mouth, just as the fireball flew downwards at them. Maes could feel the air around her heating up, but strangely the heat seemed to wash over her, without leaving a mark. She closed her eyes as they began to hurt from the bright light. When she opened her eyes again, she was standing by Rohea and Puccar, but the ground around them had been completely burned, with nothing except black ashes around them. The black ashes formed a perfect circle around them.
"Impossible!" one of the mages said.
"She must have countered our spell," another mage continued.
"No matter," the third mage said. "They are trapped like animals in our ward. Let us try again."
Rohea and Puccar drew their swords, and charged at two of the mages. As they approached the edge of the black ashes, they felt a physical force pushing them back. As hard as they tried, they could not gain any ground past the edge.
"What is this sorcery?" Puccar yelled.
The mage Puccar was charging towards laughed, "Merely a simple spell to keep you where you are."
Maes stood up and walked towards Rohea. She placed her hands in front of her, with her palms facing forward. As she approached the edge, she felt the physical force push her back as well. Closing her eyes, she concentrated and the warm glow began to emanate from her palms.
One of the mages shouted, "Quickly, she is attempting to break our wards! Let us put an end to them."
The three mages raised their arms again, and visibly concentrated. A small light appeared above Rohea, Puccar, and Maes, and it began to grow in size to form another fireball.
Maes shook her head and blinked away her tears of frustration. She took one step towards the edge, then another, and another. Finally, she made it through past the edge of charred ground. The mage closest to her noticed her progress and gasped. His concentration was broken, and the fireball fizzled away into the darkness of the night.
Rohea tried to follow Maes' path but he remained trapped in the circle and was unable to progress. Maes turned around and started to take a step towards Rohea.
"No, Maes," Rohea said. "Leave this place, we will deal with the mages."
"It is me they are after," Maes replied. "I will deal with them."
She spun around, and drew the short sword that was sheathed on her waist. She ran towards the nearest mage. The mage took a quick step backwards, and started to turn around but stumbled onto the ground. Before he could pick himself up again, Maes had caught up with him and stuck her sword into his back. The sword went easily in, and blood spurted out of the man's chest. However, Maes realized that the sword was now firmly lodged in the man's body and she was unable to get it out again.
A crackling noise to her left broke her train of thought, and Maes quickly looked up to see a fireball headed her way. Knowing that it was too close for her to dodge out of the way, Maes threw herself onto the ground and laid as flat as possible, hoping that the fireball would pass above her.
The fireball flew across her, a few inches above her body. While it did not make direct contact with her, the heat burned her clothes and back. Maes gave a shout in pain. The mage who cast the spell laughed. Maes pulled herself up to a kneeling position, and glared at the mage.
"My, my," the mage said gleefully. "A simple fireball is all it takes to bring down the dark practitioner? I must admit that I expected more from you."
"I am not a dark practitioner!" Maes spat back.
"Pffft," the mage said. "That's what they all say. Hmm, how should I do this? A fireball might burn your body to the extent that the council will not recognize you."
The other mage joined him in front of Maes and said, "Let's bring her in alive, the council will surely want to interrogate her."
The mage lifted his hand and pointed at Maes. A blue ray flew from his fingertips towards Maes. She flinched, but was unable to move due to her wounds. The ray struck her squarely in the chest, and she fell forward unconscious.
"What shall we do with those two?" the second mage asked the first.
"Their minds have been corrupted by the dark practitioner. Let us put an end to them," the first replied.