The ground trembled beneath them again. Yonas ran through the carnage, pushing his red hair out of his eyes as he craned his neck, trying to locate any of the Nine. To his right, he could see the brave Sir Richmond battling two creeps all by himself. He tried to catch his eye as he passed, but did not dare to linger. Ahead, in the mass of dust and sweat and blood, something bright and white caught his eye. The Queen of the Lost! He rushed forward, darting through the feet of men and beast caught up in a lust for battle that his young mind could not yet fathom.
He struggled to keep her in his sight, heart soaring with pride as he saw the Lord Shade and his young squire flanking her as she cast devastating spell after spell at the charging enemy lines, only pausing to summon up protective shields around her friends. The elven archer grinned as he spotted the boy, and yelled out to the Queen. But he need not have bothered, for she was already looking at him, a worried smile lighting up her tired features. She swayed, and the Knight and his squire simultaneously leapt forward to catch her, swords at the ready in their free hands, daring anyone around them to come seek a challenge. She smiled at them reassuringly and steadied herself on the forest floor, preparing to cast once again.
Suddenly, a sharp pain stabbed through his spine, and he dropped to the trampled grass, confused. He could barely make out the Queen’s distant screams as she lunged forward, only to be held back by Ether, even as Janek and Shgyar moved in closer and assumed defensive positions. Lord Shade and the Mhak man charged forward, but a tightening feeling in the pit of his stomach brought forth the sudden realization. He had been stabbed. And he was dying.
He could hear the Queen calling out to him, much like the first time he had met her on the bridge outside the town, her dark hair blowing about her pale face, even as Lord Shade spoke to her in low urgent tones. She had caught sight of Yonas perched on the tree growing on the riverbank, and she had smiled at him causing Lord Shade to turn about to investigate the source of her humor. For some inexplicable reason, he left his hands and hung upside down from the tree, reveling in her gasp and the pretty laugh that followed. She was the most beautiful lady he had ever seen. And, as he swung upside down on the tree, offering to pluck her some fruit for one of the pretty stones around her neck, he noticed the Lord watching her as she fingered the green gems about her neck, and when she screamed in delight at the berries Yonas tossed her, he saw that the Lord was smiling. Yonas had never before then even seen the Lord of Shade smile since he returned from the first Crusades.
But now she was crumbling to the floor, eyes wide and unseeing and pointed at him. He wanted to reassure her about his place in the palace of God, but did not know how to. He shivered violently, and felt rather than saw her helplessness and fear.
Another tremble took over the ground, and the last thing Yonas saw was the Mhak man peering down at him intently, even as Lord Shade cursed out loud. The trembling intensified, and the two sword wielding men turned just in time to see the burst of flames heading out towards them at a rapid speed.