Storms May Come – Chapter 8

Storms May Come – Chapter 8

Suddenly Queen Aetherina emerged in her sea funnel, water rushing and whirling around her body; the power radiating from her instilled fear in us all. She rapidly flung forward what seemed to be an endless amount of water spears, exploding the chests and heads of countless soldiers in a bloodbath. She paused for a moment, her eyes glazed over and her mouth was agape throat moving letting forth an otherworldly song. It made my skin prick all over, and my knees slackened, but thankfully it was not directed at any of us villagers and we were equipped with our protections.

The soldiers began to contort strangely, their faces twitched as they tried to fight whatever was happening to them. They could not control their bodies and watched themselves in horror as they slew their own kinsmen. They could not fight it, nor did they seem to be able to speak or utter any cry of agony, silent slaughter unfolded. Pure shock and disbelief echoed all around, I glanced at Fina trying to understand what was happening. I was glad the soldiers were falling, they deserved their deaths, but it was terrifying to witness. My eyes locked with Fina’s and she mouthed to me “There is water in blood” and my own blood ran cold with realization. 

Finally, the song ceased, and the Siren Queen nodded in my direction and returned to the sea. I was ever glad they were on our side, what an incredible alliance we had achieved, and at this my heart swelled with pride and the horror subsided.

What was left of the soldiers were shaken to their core, and they scurried in the opposite direction as fast as they could. I scanned below looking for any sign of Dreven, hoping he did not escape his fate.

At length I spotted him writhing in pain on the ground, blood pooled around him. His eyes were wild and when they locked with mine they lit with fury and fear. He did not expect to be defeated, that was clear, but he underestimated the power the Sirens wielded, and this sealed his fate. He should never have come for Calder.

Dreven attempted to crawl away, but his right leg left a trail of blood and his movements were labored. Clearly one of his men had wounded him gravely. Thankfully, I would get to end his wretched life.

I walked up to him, taking my time. I contemplated how much a man like him should suffer. In the end, I was ready to be done with all of the fighting, and with him. The citizens of Calder deserved peace, at last. It wasn’t about him, not really, but what he represented. 

When I reached him, he begged, but I had no patience for it. We had let him live once, and he came back to destroy us. I couldn’t allow him another attempt. I had to protect what we had built here. But I wasn’t a cruel person, not like Dreven. I wouldn’t torture him or prolong his suffering. I decided to give him a meaningless death. 

Without a word to acknowledge his existence, I lifted my sword and severed his head from his body. 

I contemplated the cannonballs embedded in our city wall like grisly pockmarks. 

“Leave them,” Fina said as she walked up beside me. “They are a mark of victory against Dreven and the king’s men.”

“The Sirens did say it would be best not to try to remove them,” I replied. “They said the cannonballs won’t affect the stability of the stone, but I’m worried about the dark reminder they hold.”

“Let them serve as a warning to anyone that might try to destroy our town.” Firth joined us. 

He had quickly become known as the protector of Calder. I intended to make it an official title at our post-war council meeting. I was confident the measure would have unanimous support. Now that we had defeated the King Zayin’s army, we expected our population would grow. With that, we would need to appoint leadership positions within the council. 

Fina, Firth, and I made our way to the town hall for the meeting. It was crowded these days, but we still included every family that wished to send a representative. The three of us made our way towards the front, where I began the meeting. 

”I have an important matter to bring forth today. I believe it is time for us to appoint leadership positions within the Council of Calder.” I paused to wait for the sounds of people’s reactions to die down. “Each position would still be held accountable to the Council, any new ideas would need to be approved by the group, but each position would be responsible for directly overseeing a certain area and carrying out related duties.” I saw many heads nodding along. “We already have one unofficial position that I would like to make official: that of Ambassador to the Sirens.”

Ailsa beamed at me. “Truly? I won’t just be playing at ambassador now?”

“Truly,” I said with a nod. “If the council approves your appointment…” I looked around at the other members. “Ay!” rang out heartily from the group. I turned back to Ailsa. “The Council of Calder hereby appoints our first Ambassador to the Sirens.” Cheers filled the hall. 

Ailsa looked as if she could barely stand still. “As my first official act, I would like to put a proposal before the Council.” She glanced at me, and I motioned for her to continue. “I propose a yearly festival to commemorate our victory against the Kingdom of Zorin with the aid of the Sirens, to be held on the beach where both the townfolk and the Sirens can celebrate.”

A few murmurs rose out from Bartram and his sympathizers, men who were still distrustful of the Sirens. Doubtless, they were nervous about gathering with the Sirens. 

“You all really want to break bread with those creatures after what you saw on the battlefield? They could make us turn on each other in a heartbeat!” Bartram cried out. 

There were far too many murmurs of agreement. The battle tactics of the Sirens had made more people fearful of them than I had realized.

“We have a treaty with them. They only did those things to protect us. The Sirens would not harm us,” Ailsa responded. She lifted her chin and looked Bartram in the eye. “I am not afraid of them.”

I saw Firth rub a hand over his mouth to cover a grin. Bartram’s face reddened. 

“What would you have us do? Break the treaty with them?” Fina asked.

“We don’t need them anymore,” Bartram spat. “Now the King’s army has been defeated.”

“And I’ll remind you that without that treaty the Sirens are free to unleash their vicious powers on us,” Fina said with a wicked grin.

“Let’s not be hasty,” one of Bartram’s friends stepped forward. “We don’t wish to end the treaty. It…it wouldn’t be fair after the Sirens held up their end of the bargain.” He looked pointedly at Bartram. “We wouldn’t want to offend them.”

Bartram scowled silently.

I cleared my throat. “Now, back to the business of leadership positions. I would like to nominate Fina for the position of Mistress of Intel.” I watched people nodding around the room. I knew this would come as no surprise. “She would be responsible for training the Shadows, gathering intel on the Kingdom of Zorin, and helping citizens who wish to flee to make their way here. She would, of course, report back to the Council with any intel she finds.”

A chorus of “Ay! Ay!” filled the air. Everyone in town loved and admired Fina.

“The Coucil of Calder hereby appoints our first Mistress of Intel,” I proclaimed, grinning at Fina.

She sketched a little bow and grinned back. Laughter filled the air. 

“As my final nomination, I would like to recommend Firth,” I watched as his eyebrows rose, “for the position of Protector of Calder.” I smiled at Firth gently. “He may be new to join us, but he showed no hesitation in defending what we have built here. It will be a very long time before King Zayin dares to attack Calder again, but we must remain vigilant. The Protector of Calder would maintain our walls and defensive fortifications, as well as manage the watch at our borders.”

Firth looked around hesitantly. When the chant of “Ay! Ay! Ay!” carried through the crowd, his eyes glistened. I clapped Firth on the back. “The Council of Calder hereby appoints our first Protector of Calder.”

While Firth went around the room shaking hands and grasping some supporters in fierce hugs, I decided it was a good time to wrap up the meeting. “If no one else has anything to add–”

“Actually, I do,” Fina spoke up. “I would like to nominate Aelesia to be the Representative of the People. Throughout all our struggles, you have made the tough decisions and always kept our best interests at heart.”

I had not expected any nomination for myself, but that made it all the sweeter when the cry of “Ay! Ay!” was shouted by every voice in the room.

What do you think of the conclusion to the battle? Have you enjoyed the story so far? Let us know in the comments! Check back in two weeks for the final chapter!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

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