The leather wraps scraped across the callouses on Lilylen’s palms as she twisted the wraps around her hands. She tied them tightly. The wraps served as good protection from the wooden sticks she picked up and spun through her fingers. It was time to go, and she was nearly ready.
Lilylen stared out from the window of the holding, counting the rows of soldiers. There were near a hundred, armored and standing at the ready. Those were her chosen enemies. Chosen, yes, because there were so many different men to fight, so many threats to her home and in this case, her soul. The lord in command of these soldiers was a dark mage who had stolen the souls of his soldiers to bring himself more power. Lord Niccen, ruler of the city of Donwyn, what he called himself.
Untrue, though. She stood in the halls of Donwyn now, ready to protect it from his army of soulless men. If her side lost, then he would take over and hold the small city under thrall. This was not what she wanted. Donwyn was not her home now, but it had been for many years. She had no home, and her family had all aged away and left for the northern lights. Still, she wished to protect Donwyn, and her magic was strong.
She adorned herself with her armor now. Silver tips on her pointed ears, twisted and pierced through the skin, were enchanted to protect her from the raucous sounds of battle and hone her hearing. She pulled on a chain shirt and belted it with a leather strap that shone bright when she cinched it - her protection spell activating and spreading over her body in a shield. Finally, she raised her only weapon: her drum.
The drum was a gift from her mother on the day of her turning. Her mother had promised her the moon, and true to her promise, the large drum was made with the whitest of leathers stretched tight and it played the deepest rumbling. Her turning was a celebration of her sixteenth anniversary of birth, and marked the day her magic came true.
Now was no time for reminiscing, though.
Lilylen joined the warriors below in the great hall who all were armored and ready after enjoying midnight feast. There was a small party of adventurers standing in the center of the hall. Her companions were the fighters Dor and Leaf, the magician Wend, and trickster Fig. They had come with her to Donwyn, excited for the prospect of battle and as true friends. She would owe them everything if they won this battle. She raised her voice loud.
“Friends!” She clapped Dor on the shoulder. “It is time for the cries of battle and the victory! Let us feast our eyes now that we have feasted our bellies, and take down Lord Niccen and his thralls!”
Her words were met with a roar of approval from the crowd. Some warriors banged swords against shields in echoing clangs while they shouted and she cheered back at them.
“That’s the spirit, my good men and women! Join me now on the field!”
The warriors began to pour out of the hall, taking their places on walls and near gates. The battle was not long off, and Lilylen’s blood began to rush in her ears.
“Dor, Leaf, Wend, Fig - you are all my companions through battle again.”
“Lilylen, we fight for you as much for glory.” Dor’s eyes were bright behind her raggedy bangs. “Once we finish this, we will go back to the road and beyond.”
Fig slipped something sneakily into Lilylen’s hand. She looked down to see a small jeweled dagger, sheathed in shadow. She looked at Fig, raising one eyebrow in question. Fig just smiled and crossed his fingers.
“To war, to win!”
The adventurers made their way to the head of the warrior’s ranks, and Lilylen called for the gates to be opened. There was a loud creaking and clamoring as the large double gates opened, revealing the battlefield ahead. The warriors and Lilylen’s companions poured out onto the field, readying for the first light of dawn.
The sun rose slow and lazily, peeking through behind the holding and shining light on the thralls. Lilylen spun her drumsticks and rolled them on the drum, creating a deep, low rumble. A light mist fell down from the sky and settled over her fellows, providing cover from the soldiers and putting a protective shield around her fellows. The thrum thrum thrum echoed across the grass, and with that, the soldiers lurched forward, the warriors began to run, and they reached each other in a glorious crash.
The warriors had the strength of their heart and home pulsing through them, and all who heard the sound of Lilylen’s drum were given more power to resist their enemies. She strode forward, slowly, between the fighting, ducking and dodging while Dor and Leaf cleared her path. She had one responsibility only: to get to Niccen.
Dor and Leaf before her ran into the broken ranks of soldiers. The soldiers were technically powerful - precise in movement - but they lacked the intuitive skills of the warriors and adventurers, which failed them. In essence, they were strong only in numbers, just landscape to trample.
Wend walked behind her, casting bolts of mana into the surrounding crowds of soldiers and calling down fire from the sky. Fig was nowhere to be seen, but that was best. His tricks were not to be noticed until they had already been done.
They were nearly through the soldiers, pushing through while the warriors battled against the twice-strong army. At the back of the ranks was Niccen, not even fearful enough to be on a horse, standing proudly as though he were untouchable. He caught Lilylen’s gaze and there was no emotion in his eyes but sneering cruelty. She quickened her pace, leaving Wend behind unknowingly.
She was pressing forward and focused on Niccen, continuing to drum the slow rumble, when she felt a sudden sharp pain in her back. Her breath caught, she felt something within her go empty, and she struggled to breathe. She looked around behind her only to see Fig jump out from behind a soldier and land on another man - a man holding the jeweled dagger she had been carrying. Fig slashed the man’s throat with one sharp swipe, then he collected the dagger and returned it to Lilylen’s pocket.
“Be more careful!” He shouted, and the noise rang in her ears as she gasped for air. She began to lose her footing. Fig’s eyes widened and he placed his hands on her back, whispering an incantation. She felt her heartbeat pumping throughout her body, and slowly felt the pain ease and the air fill her lungs again. The battle pressed in close to them, and there were soldiers moving to attack. Lilylen braced herself.
Suddenly, a clap of thunder sounded and lightning struck, spreading through the bodies of the soldiers, turning them into crisp wastes. Lilylen sighed in relief and doubled her speed, trying to make up for lost time. She reached Niccen quickly.
He didn’t even move. She stood ten feet away from him and all he did was stand there, unafraid, undaunted. She gritted her teeth, and began to pound her drum faster, harder. She opened her mouth, and the sound from inside her was a deep bellow.
“Long we fight and long we live,
we do not fear the dark.
Strong we are and never gone,
we do not fear the burning light.
Hold back the night,
the night so cold.
We fight so long,
long will we live.”
She sang it again and again, her voice becoming louder and louder. Niccen stood there, quietly at first, then laughing. He did not notice the red light growing behind him, growing larger with each drumbeat.
“This is your plan?” He yelled above the drumming. “Sing me to death?”
Niccen moved his hands, muttering an incantation she couldn’t quite catch, even with her unique hearing. There were corpses around her from the battle, and they slowly raised themselves to their feet. Her breath caught in her throat, straining her voice. She found her voice again as she spun around with her drum, changing the beat and singing faster as she slammed bodily into the undead monsters surrounding her. They pressed in on her, grabbing at her clothes and scratching her face. Her heart was pounding in her head. She knew she didn’t have much longer until she would lose control, so she stopped moving and planted her feet. The song was sung.
Lilylen’s voice stopped mid-verse, and she banged on the drum three times in succession, and from behind Niccen appeared a giant, red, translucent dragon. The dragon was massive, a full-sized red dragon with a long crest on it’s head. Its flesh was nothing more than red light, the body of a spirit of vengeance. Niccen turned in response to its roar, and Lilylen imagined that his eyes grew wide. The dragon devoured him in one bite, and inside the dragon Niccen tumbled into its stomach. Lilylen felt elation welling up inside her, until there was a loud pop and Niccen disappeared. She spun around in panic, running into the corpses crowding around her who toppled over, the incantation controlling them no longer held.
“Fig! Dor! Leaf! Wend!” She called for her companions, who were fending off the soldiers. “He’s gone!”
None could hear her. In that moment, she felt a gust of wind burst against her side and tear through the leather of her drum. She gasped and turned to face Niccen, who was spinning a whirlwind. The wind blew so hard that it wrested the drum from her hands and took the air from her lungs. She felt as though her very soul was being pulled from her, but she staggered towards him, her face contorted with rage.
Blood boiling and rage overtaking her, her muscles grew and flexed, and her eyes tightened as the irises turned to bright red. She felt the dagger in her pocket and pulled it out, pressing her body against the whirlwind, her rage strength allowing her to resist it’s power. She screamed and bellowed at Niccen, at the wind, at everything that was in her way of tearing the mage apart.
“I will eat your soul!” Niccen cried out, and now she could hear the fear. She would always hear the fear when her rage rose within her. She breached the wall of wind and watched him tumble backwards. The look of terror on his face was all she needed to see. She tackled him and stabbed the dagger into his heart, twisting and wrenching it. The shadow of the blade spread out through his skin in a spiderweb, blackness filling his veins. She watched until the light left his eyes, hearing the crunch of cartilage and bone beneath her weight.
Soon, she felt the blood draining from her face. Her muscles weakened, and she staggered, falling to the ground beside Niccen’s blood-covered corpse. Around her, the thralls fell down, slowly but surely being overtaken by death.
She felt weightless as Dor and Leaf picked her up and carried her off the field. The warriors crowded around as she was taken to the hall. As she drifted off into weary rest, she heard the song of her people. The depth of their voices. The love in their hearts.
“For life! For victory! For Donwyn!”
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