The Writer - Chapter 25

The Writer - Chapter 25

A Chapter by A.L.

The Silent


“So this is the Rogue hideout we’ve been searching for,” Rae commented. “Kinda disappointing if you ask me.” 

“These are some of the most powerful people in the kingdoms,” Coral reminded them. Not that Forrest needed any reminders. After his experiences with Uris and the other Rogues, he had learned not to underestimate them. 

Their camp was a little underwhelming though. 

A few tents were scattered around a large bonfire. The residence didn’t look permanent, quite the opposite. Forrest found it hard to believe that the Rogues had been living here for a while now, especially with Argenti so far away. 

“Are we sure they’re the Rogues?” Morgan asked, slightly echoing Forrest’s thoughts. 

Coral nodded confidently. “See that girl - the one that just stopped to talk to the older one? She can manipulate memories. I remember her distinctly from…” Her voice trailed off. “Yeah, they’re the Rogues.” 

She must’ve been called in during the torture, Forrest thought bitterly. The girl looked harmless enough, but she obviously upset Coral and that was reason enough for Forrest. 

“So what, we just … attack?” Margo questioned. “I think we should run down the hill screaming. That’ll take ‘em by surprise for sure.” 

“There’s no denying it won’t surprise them,” Calli said. “But weren’t we on orders to wait?” 

“The people who gave those orders are fired,” Margo argued. 

“It feels weird to be on offense for once,” Coral whispered to Forrest. “I almost feel that we should run.” 

He shook his head. These women had sided with Baelle, they didn’t deserve to be left alone. But he also felt bad for killing any of them. If only we could give them a chance to beg for mercy, he sighed. 

“We could stroll in and pretend to belong, maybe steal some stuff,” Rae suggested. 

“How would Forrest and I blend in?” Morgan pointed out. “No, I think we should just go. The Rogues won’t be expecting an attack. Aim for capture, not killing. We can let them decide.” 

“Fine,” Coral humphed, apparently ready for action. “This is what we travelled here for.” Then she turned and gave Forrest a not so subtle wink, which seemed to confuse Calli and Bethany that noticed. “Does everyone have their weapons?” 

They nodded their affirmatives. Forrest took a quick inventory of the supplies with him. The group would be leaving their bags, assuming no one would steal them. So Forrest was taking both of his swords, but also a shield that Rae had found along the journey. Fighting with a shield wasn’t really his style, but he decided to take it just in case. The bottle with his voice in it was also contained in his pocket, hopefully not easily breakable. 

Adrenaline began to kick in and Forrest felt eager for battle. His friends had their weapons ready. Rae’s tiny sword was unsheathed, and she was polishing it with her shirt. Calli was given a dagger, but she preferred her magic. Margo’s knives were tucked away and both Coral and Bethany were splitting arrows. Only Morgan was weaponless. 

Forrest caught the boy’s attention and gave him a questioning look. 

Morgan just laughed. “At home, I wanted to be in the cavalry - so I use spears most of the time. But mine broke right before we left. I fight well with my fists too, so I think I’ll just keep an eye out for a spear.” 

Forrest nodded, mentally noting that he needed to watch for a spear. Fists wouldn’t be very effective against magic. 

“Well,” Coral sighed at last. “I suppose we’re ready.” 

The group stood at the top of the hill, almost as if they were posing. Forrest noticed just then how beautiful Coral actually was. Her bright eyes were filled with a fierce determination, her short hair blowing slightly in the wind. And he knew then that she was his reason for fighting against these Rogues. 

With that thought in mind, he let out a raucous shout and charged down the hill, his sword at the ready. 

Beside him, Coral and Bethany let their arrows fly. Calli shouted a spell that shot fireballs towards the camp, illuminating several tents with violet flames. The Rogues turned and realized they were under attack. 

Forrest immediately took on one of the larger women. He didn’t have time to admire her abnormally large nose, as he began to stab wildly. The woman apparently had no idea that Forrest was a formidable opponent and gave a mighty laugh. He slammed the flat of his blade against her large nose, squashing it flat and leaving her half conscious on the ground. 

Right away, he heard something whiz by beside his head. He spun around wildly to find himself face to face with another Rogue. She had a sword in one hand and the other was empty like she had just thrown a knife. 

Forrest swung his blade, and the girl blocked. Sparks flew. He ducked down and swung his sword backwards, striking hers right above the hilt and sending it flying away. He slammed the hilt of his own sword into the back of her head and she crumpled to the ground. 

Someone tripped him and he hit the ground hard, the breath leaving him. Before he could recover, another person was on top of him. He flailed around, managing to get onto his back. A woman was attempting to wrap her meaty fingers around his neck, so Forrest brought his knees up into her rear end and sent her sprawling overhead. 

The woman landed a few feet away, but Forrest barely had time to register that thought. Another woman lunged towards him, a javelin aimed at his chest. He jumped off the group, his adrenaline launching him high. He landed just in time to avoid another swing of the long weapon. Luckily, strategy told him to simply get closer. Spinning under the javelin, he ducked and slashed at the woman, making a small cut in her side. 

He heard one of his friends, though he couldn’t tell which, shouting not far away. “They won’t surrender! Change of plans! Aim to kill!” 

Forrest didn’t need to be told twice. Head empty with the exception of energy and battle, he attacked with twice as much fervor. 

His next adversary was an older looking woman with a spiked club. She swung at Forrest’s head and he didn’t have time to duck. Instinctively, his hand with the shield shot upwards, saving his life. Unfortunately, the shield shattered on impact and Forrest’s arm lit up with pain. 

Sure, he could fight with one hand, but not well. His left arm limp at his side, Forrest jumped back into attack. 

The club was heavy, and that meant the woman was slower. He used the time she took to lift her club as a way to stab at her stomach. He didn’t wait around until she fell to the ground, immediately finding someone else to fight. 

The next opponent was a tiny girl, maybe Clara’s age. The similarity unnerved him at first, until she blew him a kiss that made his eyes begin to flutter shut. 

“Forrest!” someone screamed - maybe Coral - awakening him. He sped towards the little girl, her eyes now bright with fear. Forrest hesitated as he grew closer, and the girl looked up at him with big eyes. 

He gave her a stare that he hoped meant run, and that she did. 

Little girls had no place on the battlefield, but that didn’t make any of the other Rogues any less ruthless. 

His arm throbbed with every movement, but Forrest didn’t care at this point. 

The battle became a tide of never ending fighting. He attacked, he dodged, he delivered final blows. When he heard calls for help, he cut through the waves of Rogues and made his way to his friends. 

Soon, there were few Rogues left. But they were becoming desperate - they knew they were losing. 

Forrest saw about ten, but his friends were handling them well enough. Then movement caught his attention, and he saw a younger woman dart away from the group. His sword at the ready, he followed her. 

She wound her way between burning tents, and finally came to a stop in the shadows. 

“I know you’re there,” she whispered, spinning towards Forrest. His sword shot up instinctively, and there was a click. He had just deflected a knife he hadn’t even seen the girl throw. 

“You must be Forrest,” the girl said, giving him an unnerving smile. Her eyes were gleaming darkly. “Baelle has told me much about you.” 

Was she bluffing? It was impossible to tell. 

“Y’know,” she commented, spinning a blade in her hand like a toy, “I’m the demigoddess of weaponry and swordplay. If I was a patron goddess, I would’ve thought I Blessed you. I’ve seen you fight.” 

Forrest snorted. Flattery? As if he hadn’t heard that tactic before. Wow, they really were desperate. 

“Baelle doesn’t want you as an enemy, Forrest,” the young lady said. “You could have everything. You can keep the water girl. When the goddesses fall, your Curse will be gone. You can be normal, or you can have all the power in the world.” 

Forrest nearly slipped. Oh. A life without the goddess… without his Curse. It felt like everything he had always wanted, all right within reach of his fingertips. 

The young woman seemed to notice the relaxed grip on his sword, because she took a step closer. “We know you, Forrest. We know that you never wanted any of this. The Reader yanked you out of your home. The prince has uprooted you. They should be the ones indebted to you. Join Baelle, and you can finally get what you deserve.” 

Finally get what I deserve, Forrest thought bitterly. 

And for some reason, his mind chose to jump to the letter he had found at the Beach of Lost. The one addressed to Coral. Suddenly, he realized that he recognized the letter. Because he had written it. He had written it to finally tell Coral that he loved him, but quickly discarded it because it was a terrible idea. 

He could imagine what Coral would say if he agreed to help Baelle. She would never love him again.

He heard Emmeline’s voice in his head. Forrest, you are one of the bravest people that I’ve ever met. I trust you with my life. He could see her, feel the confidence in him radiating off of the memory. 

The choice was easy now. 

He pretended to lower to the ground, holding his head in his hands in fake contemplation. His fingers grazed the knife. 

And he threw it. The blade arced gently through the air, a less than perfect throw. 

The demigoddess caught it in her hand, shocked. Her expression morphed into one of anger. “You’ve made your choice? Well, now you’ll pay.” 

She attacked vigorously. Forrest was one handed, fighting with a single sword, exhausted. And yet he was still able to hold his own against the demigoddess of weapons. Their blades locked with a spray of sparks. 

Forrest used every trick he had up his sleeve. He faked attacks, he lunged, he spun, he dodged. The goddess deflected his attacks. He parried hers. 

There came a rhythm to their fight. Strike, strike, strike. Over and over. Forrest was panting, sweat dripping down his back. He was getting nicked with the blade more often now, though none of his scratches were deep. 

All around him, the sounds of fighting had faded. Just like his strength. 

One wrong move would be the difference between life and death. So Forrest got a crazily stupid idea. 

He let the demigoddess win. 

It had to be believable, so he put up a small fight. He let her leave a deep cut in his numb arm. He collapsed to the ground. 

The Rogue closed in for the kill, and Forrest could practically feel the pride coming off of her. Footstep. Footstep. Footstep. His heart was pounding in his chest, but not from fear. He knew he was safe. 

As the Rogue raised her sword for the final kill, Forrest kicked her legs out from under her and rolled away. She slid to the ground, and laid there, dazed. 

But what he hadn’t anticipated was her magic. About twenty blades materialized in front of Forrest’s face. He felt himself grow pale as the Rogue rose to her feet. He remained frozen. 

“It’s over,” she hissed, wiping her dirty face. 

“Yes, it is,” a voice said from behind her. The Rogue looked down to find a spear buried in her gut. She collapsed into dust, and the knives fell to the ground around Forrest. 

Morgan grinned at him. Coral and Bethany appeared from behind some trees, and Calli and Rae strolled casually up the street. Forrest broke into a smile, and he realized he was crying. Not because he was sad. 

Because against all odds, his team had accomplished their goal. 

Despite their unexpected victory, Forrest’s team had many unanticipated losses too. For one, they had to clean up the Rogue’s camp before anyone found out that fighting had occurred. 

And that wasn’t even counting the various injuries that his team had attained. In addition to Forrest’s limp arm - which was declared not broken by Coral - everyone had at least a dozen minor cuts and scratches. Rae almost managed to get a large, nasty cut with a sword on her shoulder. 

“Just be glad I lived,” Rae said as she winced. Calli tightened a bandage even further around Rae’s shoulder, making her yelp. “Geez, Cal. I thought we were friends.” 

“We are,” Calli replied. “Which is why I’m tightening this. I don’t want you to bleed out.” That thought sobered Rae and she fell silent, though she did give an occasional grimace in protest. 

They had gathered around the smoldering remains of one of the buildings, using it as a campfire. Despite the odd, violet hue of the flames, the fire still gave off plenty of warmth. 

“Do we head back now?” Margo asked quietly. “I mean, we defeated the Rogues.” 

“Most of them,” Morgan revised. “Some of them got away. I suppose we could track them down.” 

“Or we can try to meet up with Emmeline, Beckett, and Newt,” Margo suggested. 

Coral and Forrest exchanged a look. Coral still wanted to go to Rackelofft and remove Forrest’s Curse. And as much as he wanted to do so as well, he knew it was unlikely Racke would let him off the hook. 

Taking his friends with him would just get them killed. 

Which meant that if he wanted to go to Rackelofft without risking anyone else’s life, he had to sneak out, which also meant convincing everyone to spend the night here. 

Coral would insist on coming if she found out, and most likely she would follow even if he didn’t let her. The only option appeared to be finding a way to somehow restrict the others - like knocking them out. That wasn’t a readily available option. 

“What are you two doing?” Margo interrupted. 

Coral looked away, blushing. “Nothing, sorry.” Margo raised an eyebrow and turned back to the other conversation. Coral continued to try to make eye contact with Forrest, but he ignored her. 

I’ll sneak out tonight, he decided. I’ll try to get a shift with someone other than Coral and convince them that I’m just going to check something out. 

You could drug Coral, the voice in his head suggested, suddenly surfacing. Forrest bit his lip. That definitely was not an option. Oh, c’mon. You really think she’s going to let you out of her sight? She has to be knocked out and I’m assuming you don’t want to hit her. 

Shut up, Forrest spat. I’m not drugging my girlfriend. 

That’s your choice and your problem, the voice commented. She’ll come with you whether you want her to or not. 

Go away. 

Fine, the voice humphed before disappearing. 

Forrest then caught Coral staring at him. She looked worried, but he ignored that too. She was probably just trying to figure out the best way to slip away. And since night was approaching, she wanted to do it soon.  

“We should spend the night here,” Rae announced, giving Forrest an excuse to look away. “Travelling at night is dangerous.” 

No one seemed to argue with that, so they decided to divide shifts. 

“I’ll take Forrest,” Coral said immediately. Forrest wanted to argue, but he knew that would be even more suspicious. Besides, he was already coming up with a plan - even if it did make him feel terrible. 

He had to be the worst boyfriend ever

So Forrest quickly asked Coral if they could take a later shift using hand gestures. He explained that he was tired - which he was. But Forrest had no intention of sleeping. She agreed. 

Morgan and Bethany were on the first shift, so they all laid down to rest. Forrest felt his heart racing in his chest. I just have to get far enough out that no one will be able to catch up by the time I’m gone. 

He waited until he heard Coral’s breathing slow from a few feet away. He knew how she inhaled in tiny breaths and exhaled in one big one, so he could tell when she was asleep. 

Finally, he sat up. 

Bethany and Morgan were still up, making a small, quiet conversation. He knew he wouldn’t be able to slip past them, so he stepped into their line of vision. 

“Get some rest, Forrest,” Bethany whispered with a sleepy smile. “Morgan and I can handle this.” 

Forrest shook his head. He knew that Bethany and Morgan couldn’t understand his hand gestures, so he grabbed a stick nearby and began to write in the soft dirt. I’m going to Rackelofft quickly to see if I can get Racke to remove my Curse. 

When the message was completed, he erased it so no one would know it was there. 

Surprisingly, Bethany and Morgan didn’t argue. They gave him a small wave, and turned back to your conversation. He stood there for a moment longer. 

“We’re not going to stop you, dude,” Morgan said after a few more minutes. “Just be safe. And remember that we’re your friends. If you want, I can send Beth with you to show that you don’t have to face this alone.” 

Forrest shook his head. Yes, yes I do, he thought to himself. 

He gave them a silent thanks and then checked to make sure he had his swords. When he was sure they were there, he gave a small smile and darted into the darkness. 

© 2020 A.L.

Author's Note

This wasn't the real "climax" - or at least I didn't intend it to be. But let me know what you think of the fight scene.

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Added on December 28, 2020
Last Updated on December 28, 2020
Tags: adventure, fantasy, blessed, cursed, fiction, mythology, death, love, friendship, kingdom, prince, princess, queen, king, youngadult, ya, goddess, sword



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