As she raised her hands, the army stood frozen in its tracks. She took a casting stance, pushing forward her hands and foot. Blue strands started to grow from her hands as she pulled them apart. She brought her fingers together and pulled them apart, quickly folding the strands back in upon themselves. The wind, once blowing strongly, deadened, as if something had pulled all the life out of it. Her blond hair came to rest over her right shoulder. The long sleeves of her dress fell limp at her sides as she forced her hands together, making the strings thicker and brighter. Pulling apart the strings, and shaking them between her hands one final time, she waited for Andor to step forward.
Like a shot, the army advanced almost before Andor had unsheathed the sword. He assumed a stance as quickly as he could, and rushed into the fray. He could never remembered being this fast, as dispatched two, sometimes three at a time. Somehow he could see the attacks before they came, watching them as they seemed to fall into order. Parry, riposte, the next attack arrived almost as soon as he felled the last enemy. High attack, block, counter slash. His body was moving faster than his brain could think. He knew he couldn't sustain this. Had it been only five or six more, that would have been something entirely different. They were out of options now.
Fatigue was setting in as he was nearing the third wave of soldiers. He was getting sloppy, and attacks were starting to get through. Knowing he didn't have much longer, he tried to push the enemy back upon itself. His sword might pierce one, two at best, but he could not hold out. Another strike came in at an unexpected angle, knocking him off balance. He tried to support himself on his sword, swinging his head wildly to push his now damp black hair out of his eyes, but it was to no avail. One more side attack was all that was necessary, and he fell.
Through his blurred vision, he could make out the girl backing further onto the headland. She was throwing whatever she could remember at them. Flashes of light filled the sky, and the wind howled at her retreat. He could tell she was looking at him, and shouting something, but he was too far away to know what she wanted. Andor tried to pull himself up, and the girl ran to him.
Kneeling beside him, she said a few low words and Andor could feel the pain drift out of his body. His vision cleared, and he could see the girl's tear stained face, pleading with him to get back up. He blinked his green eyes, slowly, grunting as he pushed against the ground to stand up. With her help, he was able to get back onto his feet. The gale was blowing through the holes in his armor. They could only find the old leather kind in the escape. Andor was shaking, but resumed his stance.
Against impossible odds, they had both fought as hard as they could. It would be impossible to continue. They had made it through the labyrinth of the dungeon, and out of the woods, but now this would be their final stand. He almost laughed at how cruel the situation seemed in his head. He had done everything he could for her, and it would end here, like this. Andor fell back, landing flat on the hill, panting.
Remembering her face was the most painful. Watching it change from desperation, to shock, and finally to horror made him try and push back up, but his body refused to respond. All he could see above him was a blur of stars. They shone down, indifferent to what was happening, watching the life drain out of this pitiable creature, coughing and struggling to live.
Over the next few minutes, he lost track of what was really going on. Everything was starting to blend together. He could feel the girl pulling at him, but he couldn't even respond. The sky blended to the horizon, and the ocean became so far away. The stars were pulsing in time with his heart. He knew that he had to get up, that he had to do something, but he could no longer remember what.
Andor suddenly felt very heavy. He could feel himself coming back as everything came back into focus. Looking around himself, he could see thousands of soldiers were dangling in the air, heads hanging to the side. Row after row, stretching on for miles, balancing in mid air. All of these men who had seemed so fierce only seconds ago, now like puppets. Their eyes were wide with fear. He saw the blue strings enter their bodies and watched as it pulled the life out of them. The strings weaved their way through the soldiers; their screams silenced one by one. One could feel the dull thud as it struck a new victim through the chest. Almost as quick as it had started, the strings returned to their source; the woman next to him.
This could not have been the same girl he knew. She had smiled gently, and been so silent when they were running away. She only wanted to help him get away. She refused to make more than enough sleep spirit to knock the guards out. She said making more would only raise suspicions. These people were innocents for her. The girl had taken the care to make sure that no one would follow. She could only do cantrips, after all.
Smiling cruelly, she moved her hands together; pulling the strings closer as they retracted into a ball. Raising her hand into the air, the ball ascended as row by row, the soldiers collapsed to the ground, melting into nothing. Eventually, it was only the two of them on the hill, she with her hand still raised. He moved in front of her, grabbing her by the shoulders and looking directly into the once beautiful face. Her eyes were wide open, but they had a hollow tone to them. They were brilliantly blue, almost glowing. The girl's hand pressed against his chest, and he felt that same dull thud from before. He looked down, and called to the girl, shaking her.
“You have to stop this, now!” Andor cried.
She was still smiling, wide eyed, as she whispered, “Help me, Andor. I can't find my way out.”
Faces started swirling around him. Scenes of people he had never seen before and battles that had never happened spun around him. There were dances, and women, and children and all these things that seemed so real that were cast away from him into the sky like cinders. In the center of it all was her face. It was piercing him, and calling to him. It began to consume all that he saw, disappearing into her hollow, lavender eyes. With that, everything went black.
Blind and desprate, Andor shook the girl's shoulders. It seemed to do no good. The outstretched arms of the void opened before him. He could feel himself slipping away. A cold breeze was blowing against his face. He fought back against it, and pulled at the sword that was at his side, but the force was too strong.
“Andor, snap out of it,” called a familiar voice. “You're having that dream again! Pull yourself together.”
Andor opened his eyes, reaching for whatever was there. The blackness of the night sky opened in front of him as flashes of blue fireworks broke the night sky. He stood up and almost plunged backwards into the blackness behind him. A strong hand grabbed him from the front, pulling him forward and on top of the arm's source. He landed hard against someone, his head forced against a curved wall.
He lay panting for a minute and felt the rough wooden floor below him. He reached up towards the wall and the person on whom he had just fallen while moving his hand down for his sword. There was nothing there. Pattting his side frantically, he swung himself up looking for where it had been thrown in the commotion. Andor was unable to find it. He looked around a final time, coming to a sitting position against the wall, looking up into the night sky, trying to understand. Still confused, Andor looked at the now rather confounded man. The man held his hands in front of him. Moving slowly onto his knees, The man lay against the wall opposite Andor.
“Remember what we talked about when this happens,” said the man slowly and calmly. “Think. Breathe and think.”
Andor took a deep breath. The night sky flashed and shouts continued. For the life of him, he could not remember anything. He breathed out. They were someplace high up, because there was nothing around them. He closed his eyes and took in another deep breath. He could feel gentle rocking, and remembered being on a boat, but couldn't remember where the boat was going. He started to hyperventilate.
He never succeeded on the first try. She was too real. Her eyes, her face, everything about her implored him to stay with her. All the faces of the people that he almost knew looked so happy. They were waiting just on the other side. He had looked into that darkness countless times, listening for the echoes of a possible past seemed to wait for him, somewhere on the other side of the darkness.
“Breathe, dammit!” the voice shouted, punching him in the stomach, “You're going to wake up the whole ship at this rate.”
Gasping, he doubled over in pain, slamming his nose against the floor. He moved his head back up against what felt like rounded planks. He heard nothing around him and opened his eyes. They were indeed high up. He could see the ocean. It all started to come back to him, and Andor broke into a fit of coughing.