“I have received word of important business that will force me to leave the palace immediately. My sister, the Imperial Princess Royal Sofia will be your hostess for the remainder of the celebration. Please enjoy yourselves,” Stela made the announcement as Roderick and Jordan came to meet her.
As Roderick approached Stela, a large ice wall appeared behind him. He turned quickly hearing the noise. An arrow embedded in the ice. He looked around. “Get the Empress inside the castle,” Roderick ordered.
Jordan escorted Stela to safety along with a few guards. Those in attendance began to run in all directions. Felicia retrieved her sword. Harris was next to her, armed and ready.
“We need to remain calm,” Roderick called out to the guests. “We need to stay together for protection.” The crowd stopped running and began gathering in the middle of the courtyard.
Daniella joined Roderick. “What do you think is happening, Roderick?”
“I do not know, Duchess. Please stay close, we may need your help if we cannot find the attacker,” Roderick commanded.
“Of course. Do you think the Empress is safe? Perhaps I should go to her?” Daniella began toward the castle.
“No, stay here. She is safe within the palace. The attack came from outside.” Roderick wanted as few people around his sister as possible.
Sofia rushed down to join Roderick. “Where did the arrow come from, Roderick?”
“I do not know but stay here, get behind me.” Roderick pushed Sofia behind him.
“Use your power, my dear. You can hear him and his plans,” Braynard was beside her. “Concentrate on the voices.”
Sofia cleared her mind and focused, sorting through the voices. ‘I failed. The Imperial Prince Royal will have my head. She got away. I need to take someone’s life for the Emperor Consort.’ The voice was clear.
“He is here on behalf of Edmund, tasked with killing Stela,” she informed the Magister. “Now he just wants to kill someone, anyone.”
“Good, Sofia,” Braynard commended her.
Suddenly the courtyard became cold. The sound was deafening as the outer walls of the palace were surrounded by a thick dome of ice. There was no escape. They had to find the man before he found Stela.
“Roderick, are you okay?” the voice called out. Roderick turned to see Antonio approaching.
“Grandfather, what are you doing here? Hurry before the man strikes you down.” Roderick called out to the old man.
“His arrows are not faster than me. I think that is quite obvious,” the Benedictus pointed to the sheet of ice in front of Roderick.
“You did that?”
“He did, Roderick,” Braynard answered. “He also trapped the would be assassin within the walls of the palace. We just need Sofia to point him out now.”
“Yes, Roderick, I am a Magister. Braynard showed me what was going to happen at the celebration, so I needed to come. He saw you die, the arrow had reached its mark, and I could not allow that to happen.” He hugged Roderick.
“I need you to focus, Sofia. I need you to tell us where the voice is coming from,” Antonio instructed her. “Let the voice lead us to him.”
“What is going on?” Charity joined them.
“I need you to go protect Stela, Charity,” Braynard ordered. “She is alone with only guards. She will need your powers to keep her safe.”
“Of course. Where is she?” Charity asked.
“They took her to her salon,” Sofia responded. “I can hear her thoughts. She is worried about our safety. Let her know we are all fine. Keep her safe.”
Charity rushed off, heading to the palace. She sensed it. She turned as an arrow was headed toward her. She raised her hand, and the arrow met a fire ball. A shower of arrows followed, each met a similar fate. She reached the doors of the palace, they were locked.
“Let me in! The Imperial Princess Royal, Sofia sent me to protect the Empress,” she called out.
“Sorry, Imperial Highness, we cannot allow anyone in under orders of the Empress,” the guard responded through the door.
“Let me in, I have to protect her, you will not be enough.”
No response. She continued to ward off the arrows, which were now coming from multiple directions.
“I demand you open this door now, or I will be forced to take it down,” she gave them one last chance.
The guards on the other side remained silent. She focused, the air around her became heavy, the heat increased. The pressure around the doors grew until they were blown open. The heat rushed into the palace as Charity entered. The guards attempted to stop her, but the air around her had become too hot for them to do anything. She rushed to the salon.
She found Stela and Jordan inside. Jordan raised his sword as she entered. She focused the heat on his blade, he quickly dropped it. “I am here to protect Stela,” she said.
“What is going on out there, Charity?” Stela asked. “Was anyone hurt?”
“It seems the palace is under attack. Sofia claims he is here on Edmund’s behalf. You have to remain here until the assassin is found.” Charity approached Stela. “Everyone is fine.”
“I am sure he is gone by now,” Stela stood to leave.
“No, the Benedictus surrounded the palace in ice, he will have no escape. Sofia is trying to find him. It seems Sofia has gifts as well,” Charity answered.
“I do not know what is going on. The Benedictus too? It seems everyone has some sort of power.” Stela paced the room. She wanted to be out there, not stuck in this room.
Astrid joined Roderick and Sofia. “I picked a bad time to visit. Do you know where the arrows are coming from?” Kyle stayed close to Astrid. “Master Scientia, I see now why you wanted me here,” she said, turning to face Braynard.
“Yes, I knew you would be of assistance, Astrid,” Braynard responded.
“It seems there is more than one assassin,” Sofia offered. She was hearing several voices talking about their failure.
Astrid’s eyes fixated on the towers around the palace. Within moments several ravens emerged. They started to circle the palace perimeter.
“There is one up on the north tower,” Astrid advised.
“I see him,” Felicia said. She concentrated on the figure in the tower. ‘Jump,’ she thought focusing on the man cowering behind the stone.
They watched as the man jumped from the tower, hitting the stone below.
“One down,” Felicia laughed.
“There are three along the roofs of the barracks,” Astrid added.
“I got this,” Harris said. He moved from in front of the stands for a clear view. He could see two of them. He turned his hands, palms up as two fireballs formed, growing in size. An arrow was headed in his direction, he was focused on his hands. A sword had met the arrow before it hit its mark. He turned to see Felicia. Her blade inches from his face. He released the flames. The two men on the roof fell to the ground ablaze.
The Benedictus quickly encased the third in ice, eliminating the threat.
‘I will not fail him. I may not make it out alive, but I will have served my love well.’ Sofia heard the voice. ‘I had not planned on killing Duchess Emery, but she leaves me no choice,’ the voice continued. “There is one in the palace,” Sofia yelled. “He is with Stela. Her and Charity are in danger.”
“Who is he?” Felicia asked.
“I do not know, I cannot tell.” Sofia panicked.
“I have this,” Astrid looked up. The ravens quickly dipped in the sky and entered the doors of the palace.