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Excerpt From: The Wings of Fury

Moya Tobey, Editor in Chief

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Chapter 1

The steady chatter escalated to a pulsing roar in less than a second. Willow snapped her head in the direction everyone was looking. Sparwan, the soon-to-be-king, has finally arrived. Willow studied him carefully. He wasn’t quite what she was expecting; she imagined an elf who had the bearing of a great leader. The elf before her—riding upon a black horse—looked sickly. A child trying to to fill his father’s shoes. The contrast between his sickly pale skin and pitch black hair, made it seem like he was glowing. Despite his sickly appearance there was no doubt he was handsome. All of the raven elf women swooned as he passed them. The crowd was going completely insane at this point. Willow was doing everything she could to just stay on her feet.

Elves surged closer to the royalty passing in front of their eyes. Sparwan’s horse didn’t seem fazed though. hundreds of elves were rushing to meet their new king, and the horse remained completely calm. The horse and Sparwan were the eye of the hurricane swirling around Willow. There was still at least a quarter of a mile left until he reached the doors to the Hall of Meeting. She didn’t know if he would be able to stay on his horse that long with how the crowd was acting. She-elves were crowded around his horse now, walking with him. They followed him like ducklings after their mother. It was quite amusing actually. It wasn’t just the women either. The men were just as excited as their wives and daughters. They truly were a people that blindly followed their king. Such a pity they couldn’t see their king’s true colors.

Willow tried her best to move parallel to Sparwan as his horse expertly navigated the thickening crowd. It was a wonder that no one was hurt yet. She utilized the riotous actions the crowd embodied and jabbed elves with her elbows, shoved them out of her way. With the chaos occurring in every direction, her actions went virtually unnoticed. I wish I had my wings, it would be so much easier to fly over everyone. For the time being, she would have to settle with giving other elves bruises that may last well over a week. Willow noticed that they almost reached the doors to the Hall of Meeting, and angled herself away from the crowd. She glanced at Sparwan upon his horse one last time, and fought her way out of the crowd. Willow burst through the last wave of starstruck raven elves, and took a moment to get her bearings. The crowd was behind her now, and the building in which Sparwan would become the new king stood on her left. She glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and made her way toward the building.

It was an extravagant structure made from stone and marble. In the front, there were four pillars and a short set of stairs leading up to enormous doors. The front of the building was none of Willow’s concern though, she was tasked with finding the servant’s entry. She crept along the wall, trying to keep to the shadows as much as possible. The first door was about 10 yards from the front of the structure. Willow scanned her surroundings, but found that no one was pursuing or watching her. Satisfied with her momentary safety, Willow tested the knob and found it unlocked. Out of habit, she looked around once more then slipped inside the great Hall. Inside the building, she found herself in a dim hallway. The smell of a torch burning wafted through the air. Willow followed the smell; she knew it would lead to other elves, and the source of her new disguise.

Willow let her feet move a little quicker, Sparwan would deliver his speech soon and be crowned king, and she wouldn’t miss it for the world. She came to a sudden halt when the first doorway came into view. This must be where that smell is coming from. Willow made a quick change in tactics, and ran toward the door. She burst into the entryway, and found an elf and she-elf taking advantage of some alone time in the torch storage room.

“Oh! I am terribly sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude,” Willow apologized, and made her way toward the couple. “my master sent me to fetch more torches.”

“It’s fine,” The elf mumbled backing away from his lover. “I should be going anyway.” As he passed Willow, she felt him press a small object into her hand.

Now Willow was left alone in the storage room with the she-elf. A quick glance at her would tell any simple minded elf that she was part of the coronation ceremony. Her gown was made of satin and colored violet. Willow took a step closer to her, and reached for a torch above the elf’s shoulder. The maiden sniffed, and moved toward the door without even acknowledging Willow.

“Oh no you don’t.” Willow snatched a torch from the wall and wielded it as a club.

The elvish woman crumpled to the ground wounded, but not dead. Willow rushed to the door and looked either way before silently closing it. She whirled around and stripped, then removed every article of clothing from the elf she clubbed. Willow cinched the corset and donned the gown as quickly as possible, then slipped out of the storage room. She glanced at the object in her hand. It was a necklace. Their source came through after all. Willow slipped on the necklace, and moved toward the atrium. Now that she appeared to be the she-elf who would crown Sparwan, there was no need for her to lurk in the shadows. Willow raised her head and threw back her shoulders, acting like the royalty she was supposed to be. She could hear the dignitaries prattling away in the atrium less than 20 yards away. The hallway she was traveling down lead straight into the main gathering area in the Hall of Meeting. There was a guard stationed at every entryway that lead into this part of the building if her sources were correct. Willow crossed the threshold—paying no mind to the guard—and made her way to the seat saved for her in the front row. She noticed a guard peel away from a row of seats to walk behind her. So the spell worked. Willow let any built up tension flow from her body, and took her seat by Sparwan’s Uncle. They were the only elves sitting in this row, it was a necessary precaution to ensure that they stay safe. There was no telling what kind of characters would be attending this monumental event. Characters like Willow. She let her nerves settle a little more when Sparwan’s Uncle nodded to her. the plan was working. No one suspected that the woman who was supposed to crown Sparwan, would be the one to kill him.

Suddenly the stone doors were opened and the hall became silent. The new king has arrived. Willow followed protocol for an elf in her position, and kept her gaze turned forward. Sparwan’s footsteps echoed around the marble and stone chamber. Everyone sat in silent anticipation. Willow glanced at the elf beside her, and noticed sweat dripping down his brow. His lip quivered ever so slightly. She let satisfaction wash over her. It looks like they are prepared for some sort of intruder, but I doubt they were expecting me. Sparwan came to a stop at the foot of the elevated platform on which he was supposed to be crowned. It seemed as though he was debating whether he actually wanted to be crowned king. Willow studied him, waiting for something to happen. Finally, Sparwan mounted the steps and climbed to the platform to face his people. Willow narrowed her eyes, he’s walking too slowly. This is all for show, he doesn’t want to seem overly eager to take the throne. What is he hiding? It wouldn’t matter soon enough though.

Sparwan looked over his people. Willow involuntarily shuddered when his gaze passed over her. Such evil lay within his eyes. The entire hall held its breath in anticipation of the words he would speak. Sparwan flashed a soft smile then set into motion events that would change history forever,

“Tonight you will receive a new leader. A leader whom you hope you can trust. I can readily assure you that I am well equipped to lead the raven elves through every trial and every victory. My father’s death was untimely and unfortunate, and I only hope that I can somehow please him in the way that I shall rule. I know the road has not always been easy for the raven elves, but I promise you that you will no longer have to worry for your children’s safety from the eagle elves,” pausing, Sparwan let everyone applaud him, “Tonight, the raven elves shall claim victory!” Sparwan raised his hands as if to proclaim his victory.

Willow clapped with everyone else, but inwardly rolled her eyes just waiting for it to be over. Sparwan’s Uncle leaned over and whispered, “It’s time” then stood from his seat. Willow followed suit, and took her place on the platform a few feet away from Sparwan. Another attendant approached her with the crown on a velvet pillow case. Willow took the pillow and looked back at the hall, brimming with elves. Most of them were adults, but a few adolescents and children were scattered through the seats. Pity filled her gut momentarily, for the children and their parents. A world of chaos was about to be unleashed, those children would be scarred for life. Had her daughter still been alive, this was something Willow wouldn’t want her to see.

Another look at Sparwan chased away all notions of abandoning her mission. This was necessary, there was no telling what kind of evil he would unleash if he ever got the chance to rule. Sparwan’s Uncle stepped closer to his nephew. The room turned their attention to him.

“I regret that our former king could not be with us to welcome his son into his birthright, but I know that our people will see brighter days with Sparwan as our leader,” Now speaking to Sparwan, “if you would please repeat after me with your left hand raised and right hand placed over your heart.”

Sparwan nodded and did as he was told. Willow’s finger twitched in anticipation.

“I will uphold the law.” Sparwan’s Uncle began.

“I will uphold the law.” Sparwan echoed.

“I will always do what is best for the raven elves.”

“I will always do what is best for the raven elves.”

“I will protect the raven elves.”

“I will protect the raven elves.”

“I will judge them fairly, and give punishment based on their crimes.”

“I will judge them fairly, and give punishment based on their crimes.”

“And I will be loyal.”

“And I will be loyal.”

Sparwan’s voice echoed in the spacious room. Everyone was still, they were frozen in time by his words. His promises that won’t mean anything. His uncle waved Willow forward. She stepped forward so his uncle could take the crown. All eyes were upon the golden crown which gave Willow the window she needed. While all eyes were turned to the new king, Willow slipped her knife out of the sheath under sleeve.

“Raven elves!” Sparwan’s uncle bellowed, “You’re new king!”

Cheers erupted from every crevice of the atrium. The raven elves stood to their feet and welcomed their new king. Willow scanned the positions of the guards, and predicted how long it would take them to reach the platform. A couple of the guards looked a little tired. If her instincts were correct she would have less than 6 seconds before the guards reached the platform once she stabbed Sparwan. It would have to do. Willow took a deep breath, and stepped directly behind Sparwan. Without hesitation she gripped his shoulder and plunged her dagger into his back.

Sparwan gasped, then moaned and crumpled to the floor. The room immediately fell silent as the realization of what happened dawned on them. Willow didn’t waste another moment. She needed to take advantage of their shock and escape while she still stood a chance. The guards were still standing at their posts, dumbfounded. Willow gathered her skirt and took off in the direction of the nearest exit. A doorway loomed to her right with a guard stationed right in front of it. Another guard was stationed 15 feet away. Willow whipped out her other dagger. She didn’t slow as she came to the guard, Willow gripped her knife and slashed the elf across his face then slid under his legs. Willow sprinted down the dimmed hallway. She heard shouts behind her. The guards were in pursuit. If she remembered correctly, this hall should lead to another servant’s entrance. That was her escape route, and her comrade was waiting for her at the border 3 miles away.

Willow sprinted to the end of the hall and threw a backward glance at her pursuers. They were gaining, but once she was out of the building they wouldn’t be able to stop her. Willow barged through the door, and paused for a moment. She was panting slightly. Something felt off, but she couldn’t quite place her finger on it. Willow took a step forward. Out of nowhere a pair of strong arms snaked their way around her waist, pinning her arms to her sides. She lashed out at her captor. Willow stomped on his foot and kicked his knee cap out of place. The elf folded over, unable to stand. She turned away, ready to sprint into the forest, but was faced with half a dozen swords. It would seem that while she escaped one captor, the guards from the atrium finally caught up with her.

A scowl plastered itself onto her face. Willow put her hands up in surrender, the chance of escape was too small to risk dying. She bored holes through the heads of her captors with her eyes, and hoped they knew they were the first ones she’d kill once she escaped.

“On your knees!” One of the guards yelled.

Willow glared at him, but complied.

“You are a disgrace to your people!” The guard screamed in her face.

Willow only smirked, Oh if you only knew.

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Excerpt From: The Wings of Fury