The Writers Royale
Monsters & Knights
Created and written by
Sora Miyuki 空 美雪
For The Quill and Magic Guild
The Writers Royale Contest
On the edges of the small village of Willowbrook, located near the canopy of ancient Oak trees, a woman named Aeliana stepped down out of her cottage. The morning had just begun to cast a delicate spell, and the remnants of a refreshing rain shower still clung to the leaves and grass. Aeliana’s steps were gentle as she descended the worn wooden steps of her home, her bare feet making contact with cold, damp earth. The clouds once shrouded in heavy rainy clouds, had now begun to unravel the blue sky, like a masterful artist, strokes of golden light started passing through the sky, covering the world in vibrant colours.
Aeliana glanced over the village, her new home, as the first signs of the day emerged. She could not believe that she had a peaceful life, once, she had been an adventurer, exploring dark caves, and fighting monstrous creatures in pursuit of gold and glory. Her fingers, almost unconsciously, brushed against the scars that covered her body. As the morning sunbathed the village in a gentle light, her thoughts inevitably turned to Ethan, the Paladin who had stolen her heart. He had chosen duty over love, and she respected him for it, even if it caused pain in her heart. Unpleasant memories resurfaced like ghosts from the past. Memories of their time together, the passion that ignited between them, and the bittersweet farewell when he left to serve his calling. She knew that her defiant spirit could forever clash with Ethan's unwavering faith, but she couldn't help but hope for a way to overcome the gap between their worlds. Aeliana quickly carried out her patrol and watched the village come to life, she quietly hoped that someday she and Ethan could find a middle ground, a place where they could flourish.
The laughter of children and the distant calls of a woman snapped Aeliana back to reality. She observed as the children ran and played in the fields, enthusiastic and full of energy, a woman, their mother, yelled at them to help with the work in the fields. Aeliana's heart was filled with gratitude for the life she had now, it was more than she had ever imagined. One of the kids noticed Aeliana and began waving enthusiastically, Aeliana couldn't help but smile in response and waved back. Soon after, children were running toward her, their faces bright with excitement. "Tell us a story, Eli!" one of the boys shouted, his eyes full of anticipation. "A story about princes and dragons!" Aeliana loved the company of the village children, they reminded her of the innocence and wonder that she had once possessed as a child herself, she used to sneak out from her home and spent time in a tavern listening to stories about heroes. She knelt to their level and began to weave a tale of brave princes and fearsome dragons, of epic battles and quests. Their imaginations ignited, and the children listened with attention. During this time Aeliana couldn't help but feel anxious, she dreamed of a family of her own, children who shared her blood and her spirit. But, she also knew that her heart belonged to Ethan, she could never love another man or woman, like she loved him. Their storytelling was interrupted by the approach of the children's mother. She wore a warm smile as she greeted Aeliana. "My apologies, Eli. I can’t control those little rascals, especially when they see you." Aeliana returned the smile. "I could never refuse them a story," she replied with a warm smile, kids followed their mother to help in the fields. As she resumed her daily patrol, Aeliana carried with her the bittersweet feeling of love she could never forget and a newfound love for the village that had become her home.
The morning had passed peacefully for Aeliana, a former adventurer turned guardian of the peaceful village. She was among the few who took up the mantle of protecting the villagers from the occasional threats of wild monsters and bandits. The role was relatively easy, and she often kept her sword by her side, having abandoned her armour some time ago. It felt as though nothing bad could ever happen in this peaceful haven. As she began to make her way back towards the village, a rumbling in her stomach reminded her it was time to head back for dinner. She turned her steps, ready to return to the warm comforts of home. As Aleina head back, her sharp eyes caught a plume of smoke rising from the fields. Without a moment's hesitation, Aeliana started sprinting, her heart pounding with a sense of urgency. As she approached the fields, a harrowing scene unfolded before her. Lifeless bodies lay strewn about, and four menacing figures in blood-soaked armour stood callously above them. Among the fallen was the young girl she had met that very morning, a sword cruelly thrust through her back. Unadulterated rage consumed Aeliana. She acted instinctively, launching herself at the knights with the skills honed by years of experience. Surprise worked in her favour as she delivered swift, precise blows to their vital points, eliminating two of her assailants in quick succession. Her sword, however, was stuck in the armour of one fallen foe. Undeterred, she used the momentum of her spin to retrieve a concealed dagger hidden beneath her sleeve, which found its mark in the neck of the third knight. As victory seemed within reach, a searing pain sliced through her lower abdomen, causing her to gasp in agony. She glanced down to see a vicious wound, her once-white shirt now drenched in crimson. With sheer determination, she jumped back, creating distance between herself and the last remaining foe. Her heart sank as she looked upon the knight's armour adorned with the markings of The Order of the Flaming Rose. Panic threatened to consume her as she realized that Ethan, her beloved, was a member of this order. Desperately trying to suppress her pain, she focused on the immediate danger, the knight charged, but it was too late. Aeliana's proficiency with various weapons allowed her to adapt quickly. She dodged to the left, biting her lips to endure the searing pain. Her hand reached out for a nearby farmer's scythe, a makeshift but lethal weapon. With a swift spin, she brought the scythe's blade close to the knight's neck, and the sun bore witness to the grim spectacle as his head rolled to the ground. With her adversaries vanquished, Aeliana's heart ached as she examined the lifeless bodies of the children and farmers, but it was too late, she could not save them.
Aeliana's eyes widened with fear as she looked towards the village. The ominous plumes of smoke rising above it filled her with dread. She knew that something terrible had happened. She felt an urgent need to protect the peace and safety of her village and her home.
Pain coursed through Aeliana's body, threatening to consume her. She had lost a significant amount of blood, and her vision blurred at the edges, but sheer determination and iron will push her forward. Every step was a battle against her frailty. As she drew nearer to the village, her vision sharpened, revealing the gruesome scenery that unfolded before her. The sight of lifeless villagers, once filled with warmth and laughter, now reduced to pale, lifeless forms. She knew every single one of them by their names, their faces embedded in her memory, they had welcomed her into their hearts with open arms. But amidst the sorrow and despair, a scream shattered the silence. A group of knights had surrounded a young girl from the village. Her clothes were torn, and her body bore numerous wounds, each a testament to the terror she had endured. Blood stained her torn garments. Aeliana's heart pounded with rage as she rushed toward the group, her every instinct screaming for her to protect the innocent. But before she could reach them, a cruel blade pierced the girl's back, and a guttural cry of agony escaped her lips. The anger within Aeliana surged, a fiery tempest threatening to consume her. She was prepared to exact vengeance upon every one of these heartless knights who had brought such devastation to her home. The knights turned their attention to her, assuming defensive stances. Amid the bloodshed and chaos, a deadly standoff loomed, and Aeliana's eyes burned with a fierce determination, not to protect what remained of her village but to seek justice for those who had fallen.
Blades clashed in a whirlwind of fury as Aeliana faced off against the knights who had brought death and destruction to her village. Her body was exposed, devoid of armour, but this very vulnerability made her more agile and swift compared to the heavily armoured knights. Years of experience in combat allowed her to predict their movements with precision. Every attack they made was clumsy, born of brutality rather than skill. Aeliana recognized that these knights had no real combat experience, their only proficiency being the slaughter of unarmed civilians. This realization fuelled the fire of anger within her, pushing her to fight with relentless ferocity. Aeliana parried and dodged their strikes, using their lack of finesse to her advantage. She danced around them, her movements fluid and calculated. One of the knights, the very one who had taken the young girl's life, made a sloppy swing towards her. He had no helmet, and Aeliana seized the opportunity. She used the hilt of her sword to strike him in the head, the impact forcefully penetrated the knight's skull. His lifeless body crumpled to the blood-soaked ground. With ruthless efficiency, Aeliana continued her assault. She spun to the left and lunged at the second knight, knowing that the armour's weak point would be beneath the armpit. Her blade slid effortlessly into the gap, and a harrowing scream filled the air as the knight's life was extinguished. Aeliana was ready to take on the next opponent when she heard a voice from behind. She turned and froze, her heart pounding in her chest, she could not fandom the image she just witnessed. A man sat atop a horse, surrounded by dozens of knights. But her gaze was fixed solely on him, the one whose voice had shattered her world.
"Ethan," she whispered, her voice with a soft voice that seemed almost drowned by the cacophony of the scene. Disbelief and shock painted her features as she locked eyes with the man she had loved, a man she hoped to never see in this context.
"Drop the sword, Aeliana," he ordered, his voice devoid of the warmth she once knew. Tears welled up in her eyes, a mixture of sorrow and disbelief.
"Why?" she pleaded, her voice breaking. "They were unarmed... you murdered them all, even the children... Why?"
Ethan's response was callous, and it sent a shiver down her spine. He pointed towards the lifeless body of a girl, her once-peaceful expression now locked in a terrifying visage. It was Cale, the daughter of the innkeeper, who had made such delightful stew.
"This entire village was a nest for all those creatures," he accused, venom lacing his words. "Orcs, Goblins, Dwarfs and even Elves like you. Stain on this land that belongs to us, Humans”.
Aeliana was stunned, unable to comprehend the hate in his voice as he pointed towards her. They had spent countless days together, shared their lives, and their bed, and now this unfathomable betrayal was unfolding before her eyes. Her thoughts swirled in confusion and pain. She tried to focus on the human knight she had once loved, but her vision was blurred by a combination of agony and tears.
"Drop your weapon!" he commanded, his voice demanding compliance.
But Aeliana could not comply. Her body assumed a defensive stance, determination burning fiercely in her eyes. She could not surrender to this man, not now, not ever again. He glared at her, clearly seeing her defiance.
"Very well," he declared, dismounting from his horse and drawing his blade. The surrounding knights formed a ring around them, sealing Aeliana's fate. She knew that these were likely her last moments, but before she embraced the inevitable darkness, she vowed to take their leader with her to meet the Banshee Queen, the lady of the dead.
Their blades clashed in a ferocious dance, a symphony of steel that resonated with their shared history and knowledge of each other's weaknesses and strengths. Aeliana fought with every ounce of strength left in her wounded and tired body, struggling to keep up with Ethan's relentless assault. But the odds were against her, pain in the abdomen slowed her movement, and he toyed with her like a cat with its prey.
"Time to end this," Ethan sneered, his voice laced with disdain as he looked down upon her. A sudden, sharp pain lanced through Aeliana's back, she dropped to her knees, struggling to catch her breath. She looked down to see two crossbow bolts sticking out from her stomach, the taste of blood filled her mouth.
"This is it, huh?" she muttered, her voice strained as she struggled to maintain her posture on her trembling knees. "I should have seen this coming... You, crusaders don't care about right or wrong, you just see us as monsters to be exterminated."
More crossbow bolts pierced her body, Aeliana collapsed onto the ground. Despite her grievous wounds, Aeliana mustered all her remaining strength to get up, to swing at his opponent, but she was at her limit. Her eyes, filled with pain and anger, locked onto Ethan.
"Are we so hateful to you?" she continued, her voice weak but defiant. "Our children listened to stories about glorious knights saving princesses, never would they have thought they were the monsters to be slain."
Aeliana's consciousness began to slip away, and Ethan stood over her fallen body. With a casual gesture, he turned her onto her back with his foot, a final act of disdain.
"And you, my beloved, did I perhaps break your heart for you to slay mine?" Aeliana whispered, her voice barely audible, yet it carried a weight of sorrow that transcended words. "Know that I never lied to you, not once. I sincerely wanted to live with you, be happy with you, grow old with you... But now... All is lost."
She fixed her eyes upon him for the last time, filled with a mixture of hate and anger. Ethan, holding his sword poised for the final strike, looked down upon the woman he had once loved.
"One... last... thing... darling..." Aeliana gasped with her dying breath, her words barely more than a whisper. "Is your god happy now?"
Darkness descended as Ethan's blade pierced her heart, and the battlefield fell into silence, marked only by the weight of their choices and the legacy of their love, now forever lost to the legends of history.