As the last of the dust settled, Lillee’s mind was finally released from the witch’s visions and she could move once more. Her head ached from the pressure and it took her a moment or two to regain her senses, such was the onslaught, but when she had, she could finally move her feet again and started for the trees. The witch realised Lillee was no longer trapped and released a lightning bolt in her direction, barely missing her and landing in the trees behind. Lillee felt the searing heat and the prickle of static as the bolt went by and realised, she was in real trouble. The witch, so intent on attacking Lillee, didn’t notice Kaleeb and his man arrive as the pair exploded from the trees behind her and went in for the attack; allowing Lillee to run for cover once more.
In the trees she ran right through the first wraith without noticing before coming to a halt behind the largest tree in her path. She could hear the fight between Kaleeb and the witch and hoped she could bolster his strength by casting a ward or a spell, anything to help them fight more safely. She began rummaging through her pouch as the wraith gathered around her, unaware of their presence until the voice came into her mind again and told her what they intended to do.
One by one the wraith headed out into the clearing and waited.
It wasn’t long before the kings knight fell, and the wraith had a chance to show Lillee how they intended to help. She had forgotten their ability to transfer life energy and as the knight hit the ground and took his final breath one wraith smiled and vanished bringing him back again with a start. He was on his feet and fighting again with renewed vigour within moments.
The witch was furious and began attacking the wraith, shattering swathes of them into smoke with her lightning bolt spell only for them to reform moments later, a duplicate of the one before. The wraith stood fast. They could not attack the witch directly and she knew this, but they presented a real problem for the her. Each time she struck down the knight she was fighting, he got right back up. She had to change her attack and so she cast a bind spell on the knight instead. Roots sprung forth from the ground and wrapped around the knight and Kaleeb who attempted to cut himself free, in vain.
Lillee never expected to have garnered so much support for her cause but in a short space of time she had gone from being alone to having an entire army of wraith and knights behind her. She boggled at the enormity of the situation and felt a little useless at the same time. All these people here where trying their hardest to protect her and help in the completion of her mission; something she was not used to at all. She was brought out of her revere by the arrival of Dapple, the kings remaining knight and Kiyonari, who flung herself into Lillee’s arms as soon as she saw her.
The witch noticed the arrival of the girl too, she sensed an energy, a magic force appears within her realm and her interest piqued. How had she not sensed it before? How did she not know another magical being was in her lair, had her focus been so intent on Lillee she missed it? The witch changed her attack plan in that moment and resolved to kill the girl before she went after Lillee.
In a flurry of lightning the trees around Lillee and the trio burst into flames causing Dapple to rear and bolt once more; right into the path of the witch. He had not reached more than two feet from the tree line when a bolt hit him square in the flank and he went down. As he lay on the floor the witch saw her chance to damage Lillee’s resolve and hit him twice more; ensuring he was truly dead.
Lillee and Kiyonari screamed out but were held back by the remaining knight as the wraith began to circle the horse. Lillee could only watch in hope as the wraith she had spoken to previously smiled a gentle smile and disappeared. As the wraith parted from around Dapple Lillee gasped in shock. Instead of her horse laying there on the ground, a man in his mid-twenties lay battered and bruised on the floor.
The wraiths powers had completely reversed the curse the witch’s spell had placed upon the then little boy and had returned him to his original form. Upon seeing this the knight raced over to drag him back to the relative safety of the tree line. Kiyonari raced over to greet him and showed no sign that the transformation had phased her in the slightest. This struck Lillee as odd. Had Kiyonari always known that Dapple wasn’t really a horse?
Her revere didn’t last long as another bout of lightning fizzed and cracked in the air around them and as they ducked for cover an arc, attracted by the knight’s armour, jumped from the trees and headed right for them. Kiyonari screamed at the imminence of her death but in that instance something unexpected happened. A shield formed around the group and the lightning bounced right off. Kiyonari had found her powers and the witch was furious beyond measure.
It was in that moment that the witch knew she could not win. She had not anticipated the help and support Lillee would have at her disposal and now with a magic shield she couldn’t hope to have any effect on them. Defeated she ceased her attack and walked dejectedly back to her throne.
Lillee assumed this was some kind of ploy to lure her away from the protection of the girl and so she stayed in the tree line with the party, whilst the knight gingerly stepped forwards into the clearing. He watched as the witch, head hung low, sat in her throne and began to cry and he took the opportunity to free his prince and fellow knight from their bonds before scurrying back to the trees once more.
They were at a stand-off.
It was then that Kaleeb took matters into his own hands and tentatively walked out into the clearing alone and headed right for the witch’s side. Lillee was sure that he would be killed instantly but this wasn’t the case as the witch just sat and sobbed in her chair. Lillee could hear muttered words but nothing with clarity as she watched in horror as Kaleeb conversed with the witch.
After what seemed like an eternity Kaleeb held out a hand for the witch and she took it, raising from her seat with renewed hope in her eyes. The pair walked out into the middle of the clearing together and Kaleeb knelt before the witch. Lillee watched, appalled as he allowed the witch to remove his own sword and in one fell swoop, plunge it into the prince’s chest before removing it again. As Kaleeb gasped and spluttered the witch threw the sword to the side and bent to catch him as he fell. She lay him down on the ground in front of her and with his final breath she smiled at Lillee and vanished; bringing Kaleeb back to life.
Lillee could see daylight breaking through the trees as the party made their way out of the forest and she had never been more grateful for dawn in her life.