"Ugh..." I gasped deeply as I lay upon a soft bed created from bird feathers and covered with cloth. I was in a medical tent on the outskirts of the battlefield, where the Hydra Kingdom were not allowed to attack.
My shoulder was still searing with pain but the antiseptic I had been given by Ricardo reduced the pain slightly. I groaned every time a spasm of pain went through the wound.
The agony eventually sent me to sleep.
I was woken up by the sound of chirping birds and the tent flap swooshing open. I had to shield my eyes with my right hand as the sunlight threatened to blind me.
"That was some battle last night! You're lucky someone found you before..." The person with a white pointed hat and long cape spoke before stepping into the tent, closing the flap gently behind her. "How is your wound?"
"Not brilliant." I groaned, taking my hand from my eyes. Movement was painful. "I think my antiseptic wore off. Do you have anything stronger?"
"Yes Captain." She smiled, examining a nearby table covered with medical tools and supplies. I took this moment to think about how casual lower-ranking members of the army were to the higher-ranks. I think it was a society thing.
"Ah, here." The mage smiled, picking up a small, worn scroll.
"Magic, huh?" I chuckled, craning my head so I could see her actions better.
"Yes." She unwrapped the scroll, observing it with gentle eyes. When she was done scanning it, she placed it back where she got it from. The mage stepped over to me, raising her hands so they were hovering just over my tender shoulder.
"This may hurt." She stifled a small grin before a blue aura surrounded her hands. From what little experience I had with mages, I knew this one was summoning up some healing magic.
The blue aura separated from her hands, seeming to fly away with its own free will. It dropped down into the wound, causing me to wince in great pain. I stifled a scream.
However, that was all I felt. As the mage continued her magic, I could feel it closing up.
"Thanks..." I muttered when she was finished. She took her hands away and helped me to sit up straight on the bed. I glanced at my wound - or rather - where it had been. There was nothing but a scar.
"You'll be fine now. By the way, we're all leaving since the war didn't turn out so well for us. The King expects us all to be out by midnight." The mage spoke with a frown.
"Really? Did we at least capture the castle?" I asked.
"Yes, part of it. A search party is going to go in the half we managed to claim and see if they can salvage anything."
"Oh! May I join that search party?"
"You..." The mage was taken aback. "I've only just healed you! Can you imagine what would happen if I allpwed you to leave so soon after an injury and you got injured again?!"
"I can take care of myself now." I chucked, using my left hand to brush away my untidy amber hair from my face. "When does the party leave?"
The mage sighed in resignation.
"Take their flank."
The sound of metal on brick.
"Keep close to the walls, we don't want to be seen."
The moonlight shone down upon the castle. It was late autumn, when the days were getting shorter. I could tell we only had three hours to execute this mission before we had to leave.
I adjusted myself so that my body was in the shadows. I was wearing a brand-new set of light armour that fitted me perfectly. It screeched quietly as it scratched against the walls of the castle.
"Hush." I commanded. Through a shattered wall, I saw a foot patrol of the Hydra Kingdom cross the partially-destroyed castle corridoors. When they passed wordlessly, I commanded my soilders to follow me. I clambered over some rubble toward the main gate. I dropped down from the rubble, hugged the main gate and made my way silently along the shadowed coridoor.
My team of 5 including me crept silently on. Every time we heard a noise of any sort that wasn't made by us, we would freeze until we were sure that any dangers had passed.
It took about an hour of sneaking before we found a room that was still intact. We gathered on either side of the oak door that led into it.
"Romeo, use your sword." I commanded with a whisper. He nodded, stepping in front of the door. He brought out his sword from his sheath, pointing the tip at the door with both hands on the handle.
I stepped in front of him, turning the dented brass handle quietly and pushing the door so it opened with a creak. My other hand rested on the handle of my sheathed weapon.
There was a hiss.
I stepped back in horror, almost falling into the arms of one of my companions.
Someone had put a snake in the room.
Romeo staggered back in shock as the snake darted out to bite him. However, it missed by a fraction of an inch and he was able to bring his gleaming sword around to smack it away, into the far wall with a loud crack where it collapsed, motionless.
I collapsed to the ground, my adrenaline levels slowly dropping again. When Romeo was sure that no dangers remained, he clenched a free fist. I stood up shakily, following him into the room.
What lay before me was an amazing sight. The circular walls of the chamber were covered with elaborate tapestries and two stained-glass windows that looked out upon the battlefield where we had the afternoon's battle.
"This is amazing!" Romeo exclaimed. I followed his gaze. He was staring at a gold-plated statue of what seemed to be a small kiteshield, mounted on the wall.
"That must be worth a lot!" I gasped, stepping over to him. "And it looks light enough to carry."
"Then let's take this and the tapestries and get out of here." Romeo agreed. "I think we've done enough scouting for today."
"We still have a couple of hours left..." I grumbled before silently accepting. I commanded a third soldier to come into the room with his leather backpack. He heaved the statue off the wall, placing it in the backpack.
The remaining two soldiers who had been keeping watch stepped into the room. "We have company."
There was a blinding flash of light then an amazing rush of heat. I ducked down as quickly as I could, covering my head. Romeo did the same as did the third soldier. However, the other two did not. I looked up once the light and heat had subsided.
Two piles of ash.
"This must be their destruction spell! They have red mages here! Teleport us the F- out!!" I yelled commands, grabbing onto Romeo's arm. Upon it was a golden bracelet that had been left to him by Isabelle, the green mage. Romeo instinctively grabbed the third soilder's arm with a gasp before the world vanished in front of the three. The last thing they saw was a flash of red in the doorway.
"I should have you executed, but I don't think I will. Instead, I'm going to be demoting you..." The King pointed at me with a menacing glare. "To the lowly rank of a soldier. You will not be called up for battle for two months and you must forefeit your current weapons and armour."
Great. If only that bracelet didn't leave a "trace of teleport" when it was used. The King had quickly figured out what had happened once us three had appeared in his bedchamber in the middle of the night. He had just enough magical power to detect our teleportation.
I nodded in resignation. At least this would give me a nice holiday with my family, right?