Ellyn, the Valiant, stood at the rear of the chamber, keeping watch on the King and his advisors as they discussed plans for the future of the Empire. She had been a knight for the King for nearly five years and had been sent on many missions. She knew the King trusted her implicitly to participate in the conversation, but this time she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
King Bertrand Heyles, fifteenth King, in a long succession from his family, was discussing the unthinkable in Ellyn’s opinion, to cull the commoners of the Empire. She had already told everyone at the table what she thought before she banished herself far enough away not to suffer any more of the conversation.
Ellyn shook her head as she watched the King’s advisors, Anrath, Emmaya, and Gabvi’el, begin to talk to Bertrand excitedly. She turned away from them and looked out over the Parrstone Valley, where Shebury sat nestled and protected by the jagged peaks of the surrounding mountains.
Ellyn’s hand instinctively moved to the hilt of her sword as she saw a bright white object approaching from the peak of Ammar Mountain, the tallest of the peaks.
“My Lord!” Ellyn cried as she moved toward the table.
An explosion of white-hot fire destroyed the table, reducing it to glowing dust as the Ansiel, Guardian of the Realm, landed on the balcony, wreathed in flames as its wings flapped a few times.
“King Bertrand Heyles, you have been found guilty of committing unforgivable acts against your people,” Ansiel said, its eyes flaring with radiant energy.
“Protect me!” Bertrand screamed, looking to Flinar, the elven wizard at his side.
Ellyn’s sword sang from its sheath before she knew what was happening.
You cannot save him, the sword said, communicating directly into her mind. You will not wield me against Ansiel.
The hilt of the sword grew too hot for Ellyn to hold, and she dropped it to the floor as Flinar stepped forward, muttering his incantation, his hands a flurry of somatic components.
Ansiel’s eyes closed for a moment before a storm of swirling divine weapons extended from the angel, encompassing the entire space. Ellyn watched in horror as the King’s advisors were stripped of their flesh in agony.
Flinar held on a moment longer, pointing his finger at Ansiel as he screamed the Celestial word for death. The spell that he had used seemed to recoil back from the spinning weapons and slam into the wizard, who’s face was one of surprise as his body turned to ash.
Ellyn rushed forward, leaving her sword where it lay as she pulled her shield from her back and interposed herself between the King and Ansiel.
“You have to stop!” Ellyn screamed as the radiant weapons spun past her.
“Ellyn, this is something that you do not need to get involved in. You are pure of heart and a true protector of the people,” Ansiel said, as he stepped closer. “I will not harm you unless you force my hand.”
“I swore fealty to Bertrand, I cannot allow you to harm him,” Ellyn said, bringing Ansiel to a halt.
“You leave me no choice, I’m afraid,” Ansiel replied, the creature’s face grew sad as it lifted it’s arm and pointed its finger at her.
Ellyn pushed forward as the world around her collapsed, leaving her in a dark void, standing on something she couldn’t see.
“No!” she screamed, spinning in place. “My King!”
A moment later, the darkness was cut through by the light as the world flooded back into view. Where Ellyn stood now was nearer where she had been during the King’s meeting. In a vast swath, the side of the castle had been reduced to rubble. Tears welled in Ellyn’s eyes as she felt her stomach twist, and she dropped to her knees.
“I am sorry for your despair, Ansiel said, emerging from the crater in the side of the building. “It was never my intention to hurt you.”
“Why?” she asked. “Why did you have to kill him?”
“Me and my brethren searched his soul for anything salvageable before passing judgment against him,” Ansiel replied, “There was none. The plan in which you walked away, had already started on the outer edges of the Empire. Entire villages were being destroyed to satiate the King’s bloodlust. My kin are in those villages in which his soldiers were killing indiscriminately protecting the people.”
“What of the empire?” Ellyn asked. “Who will lead the people now? Bertrand had no heirs.”
“You will lead them, Ellyn,” Ansiel replied, landing softly next to her. The bright light of the creature diminishing, leaving what looked like a normal man standing before her. In its hands, her sword was presented to her. “I believe this is yours.”
“I’m not sure I can wield it any longer,” Ellyn said. “It refused to help me protect the King. It wouldn’t stand against you.”
“This weapon is not bound to my kind,” Ansiel said. “This weapon is bound to you alone. You know it to be a righteous weapon of great power that sees more than even me. It will not attack the good and just. You know this to be true.”
Ellyn nodded, then shook her head. “I don’t deserve such a weapon. I failed in my oath and failed my King. Now you are offering me something which I must refuse. I can’t be the leader of the people, nor can I wield a weapon destined for the worthy as I am no longer capable of being either.”
“Very well,” Ansiel replied, pulling the weapon back. “I will retain your sword until you require it once more. I must extend the offer once more to take the throne of the Empire, and lead the people to peace and prosperity.”
Ellyn shook her head.
Without another word, Ansiel’s wings burst from its back, and it flew away toward the mountains once more. Ellyn watched it go through tears as a handful of castle guards emerged from the door behind her, skidding to a halt at the edge of the crater.
“What happened!?” The guard asked, looking around, “Where is the King?”
“Bertrand has fallen,” Ellyn said. “Inform the court. The King is dead.”