The Emerald-Opal Heir - 34

The Emerald-Opal Heir - 34

A Chapter by A.L.
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The Goddess

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As it turned out, everyone had a story that they wanted to tell. And as it turned out, Emmeline was the only one who was willing to listen.

She tried to focus on the mission at hand, but the words pounded against her temples.

Newt squeezed her hand and pressed two fingers against her palm. The signal to check on their friends. 

Emmeline hesitated, reluctant to delve back into her power. 

She had yet to actually try her magic, besides searching the world for stories. They floated at the corners of her visions, words made of silver and gold and ivory and obsidian. She knew she would probably be able to change these “stories” if she wanted to, just as she somehow sensed that she would be able to find her friends through this power. 

Calli tensed on Emmeline’s other side. “You need to find them as soon as possible,” she breathed, barely detectable. Emmeline’s magic caught the words and held them in the air so Emmeline could read them. 

“Any tips?” Emmeline whispered back, dipping her head so the veil would hide her mouth. 

“I’m not familiar with a goddess’s magic,” Calli answered. “Do what feels best to you.” 

Emmeline inhaled deeply, forcing herself to relax. She’d told her friends to mumble long live the king under their breath, as she would be able to detect the words. She pictured a wave spreading throughout the sanctuary and focused solely on the mantra they’d picked. Recognition prickled at her mind and voices filled her head. Long live the king. Long live the king. Long live the king. 

She could make out Bethany and Morgan seated towards the back, next to a stained glass window depicting Ibenily holding a book. In the very back, near the entrance, was Delilah, Rae, and Finn. She forced the blanket further until she could sense Clara, Margo, and Niko sneaking through the corridors. Gwen was standing along the pews on the other side of the room, but Forrest was noticeably absent. Either that, or he’d forgotten to repeat the words. 

Forrest wouldn’t forget. Emmeline knew that of all people, Forrest was the least likely to forget his own plan. Dread turned her blood cold. If Forrest didn’t show up… 

“Everyone is here except Forrest,” she whispered. 

“Hey, at least that’s the majority of our team. We knew it was likely that someone would get caught,” Calli replied. 

Yeah, but Forrest was the only one I needed, Emmeline thought to herself, panic rising inside her chest. Maybe he was fine, he was just going to be a little late. Maybe he was just separated from Gwen as a way of being less suspicious. Maybe-

A trumpet fanfare sounded in the distance and the audience fell silent. Newt reached for Emmeline’s hand again and this time she pulled away. Her mind raced for another way, another option… 

The doors in the back of the sanctuary flew open and in strode Baelle, decked in royal finery and robes of gold to match the jewels hanging from her hair. 

Emmeline’s breath caught in her throat. She could feel Baelle’s cold fingers on her temples, could feel her body recoiling to the touch. She could see Newt’s unconscious form during their first encounter and the sound of glass cracking from the ball last time they’d met. Her skin tingled with the phantom sensation of the slaver poison and she could taste blood from the time she’d died. This is the last time. 

Baelle strode to the front of the sanctuary, a single throne elevated slightly so it overlooked the whole room. The back wall was a mural of stained glass, illuminated by the evening sun to show a nondescript king surrounded by the twelve goddesses. 

When Baelle turned to face the audience, her face was lit with a wide smile. “Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to the coronation that you all have been waiting for.”

There was a round of polite clapping and Emmeline forced herself to join them. Why did it feel like Baelle’s eyes were meeting her’s through the veil? There’s no way Baelle recognizes you when you’re wearing Margo’s face. 

“Before we begin, I’d like to thank the lords and ladies who made this coronation possible. They have collectively decided to show their support for the new king, allying to end the war that has plagued us for so long.” Baelle’s voice was beautiful, like an eagle soaring through the sky. Nausea pooled in Emmeline’s stomach. Hurry this up. 

“So without further ado, I bring to you the Crown Prince Beckett of the Silver and Green Kingdoms!” Baelle exclaimed, raising her hands to the sky as a pale figure stepped into the back of the room. 

No way. Hadn’t Baelle said she’d killed Beckett?

Emmeline wrung her fingers together as Beckett marched down the aisle, radiating importance. He was dressed in emerald and silver, his pale face betraying no motion. The betrayal sank deeper, stabbing at her heart. 

And yet there was something missing. 

Beckett was missing his usual swagger. Even if his steps seemed confident, his hands hung limp at his sides like he didn’t know what to do with them. His eyes darted around with nervous energy. It wasn’t the Beckett that Emmeline remembered, which made her think… 

She flung out her magic again, ignoring Baelle’s as she invited Beckett to stand beside her as she gave a speech about the history of the kingdoms. Emmeline let her magic settle over Beckett, focusing on the words that lay dormant inside him. His story begged to be told, and Emmeline was more than willing to listen. 

The words twisted and writhed in her mind. She saw flashes of sentences and snatched at them, creating an incomplete picture. Twin brothers. A goddess. Poison. Assassin’s blade. Blood. Twin brothers. Inseparable. Pain in the mouth. 

Emmeline choked on her relief as she withdrew her magic. This boy was not Beckett. His story did not speak of a century locked away, of the tower ruins of Layene, or of Emmeline and her friends. Whoever this fake prince was, he certainly wasn’t Beckett. 

So where was the real prince? 

She prepared to whisper to Newt and Calli what she’d observed, but Baelle finished her speech abruptly, earning another round of applause. 

“Now, to begin the proceedings, I would like to begin with a symbolic ceremony,” Baelle announced. She held out her hands and white light trickled into her fingers, solidifying into a sword with a blade that was pure white. Gasps echoed throughout the sanctuary. “This,” Baelle said, “is the Sacred Blade.” 

Calli tensed beside her and Emmeline felt her heart pick up speed. 

“This blade is responsible for the long-standing tensions between the kingdoms,” Baelle explained, her mouth fixed in a sinister smile. “It was created in an attempt to find a weapon that could kill even a goddess, but today, we will destroy it once and for all. The kingdoms will have nothing to fight over, in theory, if the root of their disputes is gone.” 

She held out the blade to Not-Beckett, who took it gingerly. 

She’s eliminating the chances of her death, Emmeline realized. The power of this so-called Sacred Blade probably wasn’t a legend if Baelle was going out of her way to destroy it. 

“The weapon is yours to do as you wish, Your Highness,” Baelle murmured, folding her hands together so she appeared as though she was waiting innocently. 

“I wish to use it to cut off your head!” came a voice from the back of the sanctuary. 

The entire audience turned simultaneously and Emmeline nearly slid off the pew as her eyes caught on another Prince Beckett. 

This prince was so pale his skin seemed almost green and his blue eyes were rimmed with circles. There was an angry, red gash across his neck, as though someone had tried to slit his throat and failed. He was garbed in royal regalia and he held his chin high, despite the fact that he looked like he would collapse at any moment. 

Baelle laughed, a nervous sounding chuckle. The boy beside her froze, the sword in his arms dropping a fraction of an inch. 

Emmeline began shifting her fingers to find the knife hidden in her bodice. She could feel the cold metal burning against her skin, could feel it telling her that it was almost time. Forrest isn’t here. She shook the thought away. 

The crowd was alight with angry murmurs and confused whispers. 

“She’s feeding you lies!” the real Beckett shouted. “I am the true heir to the throne, and the woman before you tried to have me assassinated.” 

“Guards!” Baelle yelled. “I don’t know who this boy is, but he needs to be removed from the premises-” 

Two soldiers lunged for Beckett but before they could get anywhere close to him, Beckett lit up with emerald light. It burst from his skin and slammed into the soldiers, throwing them against the walls. 

“A false prince wouldn’t be able to do that, now would they?” Beckett asked, his voice low. 

“It has to be an illusion-”

Emmeline wrapped her fingers around the hilt of her dagger and pulled it from her robes. Newt and Calli were on the edge of their seats, preparing to fight back. It’s almost the end. It’s almost over. 

“You're the goddess of illusions, Baelle,” Beckett pointed out as he began to saunter towards the throne, though it seemed more like a drunk waddle. “You should know more than anyone else that this is real. You didn’t kill me. You can’t kill me.” He laughed, as if he was sharing his own private joke. 

He’s gone over the edge, Emmeline thought. 

Baelle’s eyes flashed with something that had to be anger and her jaw clenched. Another wave of fear washed over Emmeline, trying to drag her down with it. She fought back against the current and clenched the dagger in her hand until her knuckles went white. 

I need a distraction,” she mumbled, just loud enough for Calli to hear her. 

Forrest isn’t here, she wanted to say. Disregard the plan. But she kept quiet, forcing her fear away. This was their only chance at defeating Baelle. 

Calli gave a subtle nod and the prickle of magic filled the air. The room erupted into shouts as the audience turned to find each other all transformed into spitting images of Beckett, complete with the ragged scar on their necks. 

Emmeline still clutched the dagger in her hand and she got to her feet, disguised by the rest of the Becketts now rushing around the room in a panic. Baelle still looked the same, though her expression was one of masked fear. Emmeline let the crowd carry her, squeezing between two Becketts holding each other tightly. She forced back the guilt that threatened to make her stop the mission. Innocent people might get hurt, but they’ll thank you later. They would be grateful when they weren’t living under an evil dictatorship. 

Now is my time to act- 

Her limbs suddenly seized and her body froze and her lungs stopped working. Emmeline could see Baelle out of the corner of her eye, the goddess’s hands raised and her dark eyes glowing with power. It’s not real, you’re not actually stuck…

Emmeline nearly vomited as Calli’s illusion slid away like wet paint and her priestess robes returned, as did her normal features. Goddesses, Baelle would know exactly who she was. 

She was as good as dead. 

You already were, the logical part of her mind pointed out. 

The spell broke and Emmeline dropped to her knees as the room continued its normal state of panic. Baelle was on her a moment later, lifting Emmeline’s chin so that their eyes could meet. Frost crept over Emmeline’s mind and a scream escaped her lips. Her pulse pounded in her temples. Not again. Fear was a fire raging in her chest. 

Suddenly, Baelle was thrown aside as Gwen body-slammed her to the ground. The two rolled away and Emmeline stumbled to her feet, pushing through the crowd that was now rushing for the doors. She sincerely hoped they would manage to get away, but she’d lost her dagger in the chaos and it was her sole hope for actually harming Baelle before the contingency plan set in. 

“Emmeline!” It was Newt’s voice calling her and Emmeline searched for its source desperately. With the frost in her mind still thawing she found it hard to think straight. 

Or maybe that was the emotion clouding her judgment. 

“Newt!” she cried. 

A flash of golden hair appeared from the crowd, racing towards her with a gleaming dagger in hand. Emmeline ran to retrieve it, but a bolt of pure magic struck Newt in the chest and he hit the ground hard, rolling underneath a pew. Her heart leapt in her chest.  

Emmeline shot a look over her shoulder as she raced for Newt, meeting eyes with Beckett - the real Beckett - his hand outstretched. As if he had been the one to hurt Newt. 

Shock rippled through her and before she could react, Beckett was shooting off another bolt of magic. It hit her in the gut, freezing her in place. Emmeline struggled against the magic, throwing her own power against it, but to no avail. It dragged her forward until it could pin her to the throne. 

How was he so strong? 

Emmeline caught sight of her friends struggling against similar green bonds in various spots around the sanctuary. The rest of the people had managed to escape, and Baelle’s soldiers were noticeably missing too. 

Beckett gave a small flick of his wrist, almost lazy in nature, like he couldn’t be bothered to be here. His expression betrayed none of his inner thoughts as his magic dragged Emmeline’s friends forward so that they were kneeling before the throne. Their eyes were wide with terror as the magic gagged them. 

Fear was a beast inside her, tearing her apart from the inside out. 

Morgan, Rae, Delilah, Finn, Gwen, Bethany, Calli, and Newt. The others were still safe elsewhere, but for how long? 

Baelle approached cautiously, her gown swishing over the ground. Instead of making her way towards Emmeline, she positioned herself at one end of the line, where Morgan was kneeling. A cry built in Emmeline’s throat as Baelle lifted the white blade from earlier and plunged it into Morgan’s stomach. He slumped to the ground with a muffled groan and Bethany screamed. Blood blossomed on the ground as Morgan struggled for life. 

“That was your punishment,” Baelle said, her eyes locking with Emmeline’s. “And now for your warning.” 

She moved to the side and the blade went through Rae next. The cries of agony numbed Emmeline’s mind and she wished that Beckett would loosen his magic so she could at least scream. 

Baelle glanced at Delilah and frowned. “I think we need some proper motivation for the next part.” She took her time as she made her way to the other end of the line so that the bloody blade could rest on the base of Newt’s neck. Emmeline’s power burst at the seams, snapping some of Beckett’s magic away so she could speak. 

“Stop!”

Baelle gave a wicked little grin. “You don’t like this, do you?” 

The goddess gave Newt a kick to the side and he cursed under his breath, earning a small poke of the blade to his neck. 

“Baelle,” Emmeline pleaded, her voice wavering. “Your battle is with me, not with them. Leave them out of this.” 

“Oh, but haven’t they attacked me too? They’re here with you, after all, trying to stop the coronation. You’re sitting on the throne right now, Emmeline, and these people are a threat to your kingdoms. I am merely protecting you.” 

“I don’t know where you’re going with this, and I don’t care. Just let them go and do whatever you want with me.” 

Baelle’s eyes gleamed with challenge. “Again, you are in no position to bargain. I have you at my mercy, so therefore I already have the ability to do whatever I please with you. So, unless you have something even better to offer me…” She pretended to slash open Newt’s throat. 

No fear, no grief. Emmeline let the numbness consume her. She couldn’t allow herself to feel for this part. Not when she knew what came next. She met Newt’s eyes. Saw the warning in his gaze. Knew the pleading in his expression. 

“I am a goddess now, Baelle,” she said, forcing her voice to stay steady. Most of her friends winced, but Emmeline thought about Morgan and Rae, who had stilled. Goddesses, were they dead? “Right now, I am just as powerful as you.” Baelle snorted but Emmeline just shrugged. “Call my bluff if you want, but that day you saw me at the camp - after we talked, I murdered everyone there. And I passed that test. I’m a goddess, but if you let my friends go unharmed, you can kill me. I’ll let you take my power.” 

Baelle chuckled darkly. “You trade your own life for the ones of these … lesser beings so easily?” Why wasn’t she putting up more of a fight?

Emmeline swallowed her fear. “You’ve killed me before, Baelle, but I always find my way back.” She sent Newt a look, hoping it would convey the message she’d relayed to Forrest. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, she wanted to tell him. You can stop this.

Baelle was approaching swiftly and the numbness overwhelmed Emmeline again. 

“You could spare your own life so easily right now,” Baelle reminded her. “These people are nothing compared to us.” 

“They are something to me,” Emmeline retorted. “Now let them go.”

“No, Emmeline,” Baelle said curtly, waving her hand. “It is not in a goddess’s nature to be forgiving or merciful. You want to spare your friends, but this is not what a goddess would do, and so you are not a true goddess.”

Because mercy made one human.

Emmeline met Newt’s eyes one last time. She could hear Baelle giving some speech again, but her words were drowned away. 

This was really happening.

This is the end.

“Any last words?” Baelle asked at last, her blade poised over Emmeline’s thudding heart. Newt was screaming into his gag and Emmeline hated that this was how it had to be. She hated that the future she’d chased after wouldn’t exist.

“I’m sorry,” Emmeline said, not allowing her gaze to leave Newt’s. Tears streamed down her cheeks but she didn’t know when she’d started crying. “I’m glad I got to be a part of your story.” She shot a look towards Baelle. “And I’m glad that I get to be the end of yours.”

With that, she threw herself onto Baelle’s outstretched blade as white flames turned the world into a raging firestorm with Emmeline at the center.



© 2022 A.L.


Author's Note

A.L.
I've been planning this scene for almost a year now and I've set it to so many different songs and seen it so many different ways. It took me longer than I'd like to admit to settle on the last words and I'm still not exactly pleased but considering I don't want to spend the next two weeks rewriting a single sentence over and over again, we'll pretend it's good enough. I still don't entirely know if this will be the final copy for this chapter (the answer is no but since I like the motivation to edit anything, it probably won't happen) but let me know what you think.

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Added on January 29, 2022
Last Updated on January 29, 2022
Tags: blessed, cursed, adventure, goddesses, sword, love, death, betrayal, kingdom, kingdoms, war, castle, magic, reading, writing, prince, king, queen, royalty


Author

A.L.
A.L.

About
When I was eleven, my cousins and I sat down and decided we want to write a fifty book long series that would become an instant bestseller. Obviously, that hasn't happened yet (and I doubt it will) bu.. more..

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Fatefall - 1 Fatefall - 1

A Chapter by A.L.