09 Jan

I still can’t believe we failed in finding that single person without wings. 

Ability or not, we should have captured and killed the little shit. Now how are we going to explain this to the King? I look around at my three comrades flying in formation with worry. 

Almost as if reading my mind, my comrade to the left spoke up to the group. “So what exactly is our story going to be for this royal fuck up?” 

Everyone flew in silence for a while, no one responding as they couldn't think of a solution immediately.  

“The reality is we firebombed most of that island, there are no survivors. Simple as that,” our commander finally responded. That seemingly satisfied the group, except the comrade that spoke up in the first place. 

“What if he survived? Wouldn't it be our fault if this comes back to bite us?” He questioned the commander.

“Bite your tongue, Grunt.”

“How are we going to explain Cyren’s death? Are we even going to bring that up?”

“Cyren got himself caught on fire, and the flash-burn sent him into the ocean to drown. He was being careless,” Commander explained.  

My rookie comrade sighed heavily, his face holding a troubled expression.  

The commander’s right hand man flew up next to him. “If you squeal to the King, you’re dead. Dead, you hear?!”

“I- I got it!” He said nervously. 

“Give him a break,” I chimed in. “He’s still new.”

Right-hand gave me a sneer and fell back into formation. 

After several days of constant flight, we finally arrived at the King’s palace. 

I wasn’t the only one shivering. My crew and I were all still in our lighter travel-wear, as we were instructed to report to the throne room immediately after we arrived to the frigid mountain top. We walked through the halls of ice, extravagantly adorned with furs and pelts of all kinds, and weapons hand crafted and gifted to the king by his many underlings. 

Though, I suppose I should use the term ‘gifted’ lightly. 

We pushed through the massive doors that lead into the throne room. Somehow, it seemed even colder in here. The king’s piercing gaze followed us the entire time as the four of us filed in. He perched up in his throne, seemingly miles above us. Of course, all that separated us from him were several steps, but the way he carried himself, the steely expression on his face, and the lack of any emotion behind those cruel eyes…

He was a ruthless ruler. Devoid of mercy.

“King Goltri,” my commander started. He led us all to a kneel. 

“Commander.” King Goltri's voice was rich and deep, and it seemed to fill the entire room, even though he spoke at a normal volume. “How went the raid on the volcanic isles?” 

“Complete success, my King. No survivors.” My commander kept his head bowed the entire time he spoke, and we did the same. 

“Didn’t I send you with four underlings, Commander? You’re missing one.”

“Ah-uh, yes, my King. You are correct. The grunt known as Cyren was careless during the mission, and caught his wings on fire. He fell into the ocean and drowned, sir.”

Goltri did not sound amused. “For someone who is a supposed expert on crafting bombs, you would think this grunt would conduct himself in a manner that he wouldn’t catch his own flames. Are you saying that the men I assigned you were incompetent?”

“A-as dumb as rocks, sir. If I wasn’t there to lead the mission, they would have been doomed before they could even start.”

I could feel the seething aura the commander’s number two gave off, even though the commander stood between us. When I looked to my left, the newbie’s face was etched with terror. Cold sweat dripped down the bridge of his nose and froze before it could hit the ground. The ting reverberated through the icy chamber, sealing his fate in his mind. I could tell. He thought he was going to die here. 

“Cyren did not die by his own flames,” I said, clearing my throat. “There was a human boy there who bore a flame tattoo. He hit Cyren with a fireball, largely through sheer luck.”

My commander scoffed.

The brief silence that followed ate them alive.

“Commander. Care to explain why you chose to… omit. this detail?”

“What I said was true! Th-there were no survivors, not even the boy! He could not have! And-”

The commander didn’t get to finish his sentence. With a simple wave of his hand, giant jagged icicles rose from the ground and encased all three of my comrades on either side of me in a silent tomb.

I flinched, but I did not move from where I knelt. 

“Tell me your name, boy.”

“It’s Fury, my King.”

“Rise, Fury.”

When I raised my head to look at him, he was already standing, his arms collected behind his back. He’d come down off of the platform, and stood right in front of me. 

I didn’t think he could possibly be any more intimidating, but he towered over me. He was at least 2 heads taller than me. His long pelted cape draped over his dark, muscular shoulders and onto the icy ground below him. 

His blue eyes chilled me to my core, even more than the ice around us. 

“There is no room for betrayers in my court, Fury. Your fealty to me is apparent. You chose to tell the truth, knowing that it would spell your demise, and the death of your team.”

I didn’t know what to say. No words could save me now. My reward for speaking the truth would be death.

I closed my eyes and waited.

“The boy. Are you absolutely certain he is dead?” Goltri asked. 

“No. We injured him badly, but he escaped into the jungle. We weren’t able to find him after that.”

“Hm. We’ll need to assemble a team to find him then.”

“W-we?” I asked, looking up at him. 

“Who else better to lead the team than someone who was there when it happened?” 

I was petrified. 

Goltri laughed, but there was no humor behind it.

“Did you think I would kill you, after you revealed the truth? No, Fury. Your job isn’t done. And don’t forget what I said. I do not have room for betrayers in my court. You betrayed your team, and I expect you to prove that you will not do the same to me.”

I don’t think I could've been any more tense. 

I managed a nod.

“Stand by for your orders, Fury. I will provide you with a team. I expect that you will go out and find this boy and bring me back his head, along with his tattoo. He’s a threat, albeit a small one. I will not have loose strings come back and trip me.”

“Yes. Of course, King Goltri.”

“You are dismissed."

* The email will not be published on the website.