On Monday, I'd finally had enough and with pen in hand, I challenged my muse. The fight was on. It was like arguing with a two year old.
"We need to write this last chapter," I would say. My muse would stick out his tongue and respond with, "I don't wanna."
Finally I said, "Alright, how about if I start with a chapter number and title?"
"Go ahead. Knock yourself out."
Almost an hour later and a lot of back and forth, he said, "The least you could do is add an opening sentence."
I had him! The ink started to flow again. Of course we had to argue over every sentence but soon I had at least 500 words on the page. It's now Wednesday and I'm almost finished.
I hope I never have to go through this again. It had such a negative impact on my life and I'm sure it affected those around me also.
To celebrate, here is the first scene of the last chapter. I will share the whole thing on Saturday.
Thanks for reading.
He had read about the morning after glow, but Aldan never understood what that meant until now. It was as if, for this short period of time at least, all was right with the world. The doubts and concerns of yesterday were forgotten, and his insecurity a thing of the past. Maybe it was an after-effect of the magic he used last night to bind them together, but a golden mist covered them like a warm blanket. Unfortunately, the gravity of their situation filled his thoughts with a clarity he’d never experienced before.
He rolled up on one elbow to gaze with wonder at Odessa’s beauty and the realization that she returned his love. She surprised him by reaching up, entangling her fingers in his hair and urged his lips to meet hers in a passionate kiss. He sensed the smile behind her kiss and opened his eyes to dark green pools that threatened to drown him.
No words were needed as Odessa’s eyes mirrored the regret that he knew was in his own. There was no time. The King had made it clear that he intended to mount an attack on his old court mage as soon as possible. AS promised, a knock at their door signaled that the King was awake and expected them to break their fast with him shortly.
They rolled out of the old four post bed on opposite sides and turned to smile at each other, the bond between them still strong. Aldan washed and dressed quickly so he could help tie the straps holding Odessa’s leathers as she attempted to brush the tangles from her hair. With a look of regret for the warm, cozy nest they had to abandon, hand in hand, they approached the door. Aldan opened it just as a surprised young page raised his hand to knock. Caught off guard, he stared in amazement at Odessa in her armor before recovering and bowed low.
“Your Highness. The King sends his regards and awaits your pleasure in the dining room.”
“We would be honored to join him,” she replied. “Lead the way.”
King Rodger and a grizzled, uniformed old man stood as the pair entered, then resumed their seats after Aldan escorted the Princess to a chair next to the King. Aldan chose to sit across from the old veteran.
“Princess Odessa, Mage Aldan, may I present Regis Erikson who has commanded our guard since the time of my father’s reign. I took the liberty of inviting the Commander to join us in an attempt to save time.”
“Well met, Commander,” Odessa responded, raising her glass to him. “I only wish we were able to meet in better times than these.”
“Forgive me your Highness, for my boorish manner, but if we are to assemble and depart soon, I must eat and ask questions at the same time,” he said while cutting the food on his plate. Gesturing to Aldan with a piece of meat on the end of his knife, he asked a question before jamming the food in his mouth.
“The King tells me that you and a group of villagers defeated a nest of goblins. How is this possible? When the goblins first appeared, I sent out two patrols and both were destroyed to a man attempting to protect the residents of the city.”
“Commander, without a mage, the chances of killing a goblin are slim. They were conjured up for the sole purpose of killing men in the dark. Their only weakness is total blindness in bright light.”
It was Aldan’s turn to quickly fill his mouth with eggs and a slice of ham as the Commander thought over what he’d said.
“So as a mage, you were able to cast a bright light, blinding the beasts so the villagers could attack.”
Odessa spoke up to prevent Aldan from choking on his food. “Aldan sent a ball of light into their lair to drive them out. The sunlight blinded them. Even so, it was a close thing as their reach is greater than a man with a sword. Crossbows and long handled pikes are the best weapons to use against them. Even blinded, the goblins are extremely hard to take down.”
King Rodger, having finished his meal while listening to the others, leaned back in his chair and fixed his gaze on Aldan. “Mage Aldan, you do understand that Bartleon will stop at nothing to kill you. How will you fight him and the goblins together?”
Aldan continued to chew for a moment as he considered his answer. “I’m afraid it will be the task of your guardsmen to kill the beasts. They were designed to be resistant to the spells of a mage, so keeping them blinded and casting what protective shields I can, will be the extent of my abilities while confronting Bartleon.”
At the Commander’s look of resignation, Odessa attempted to reassure him. “Take heart, Regis. I am a Blood Mage and if you can enlist the services of several townspeople to carry the injured to me, I can heal them of anything short of a mortal wound. They may not be able to continue with the battle but should live to fight another day.”
Commander Regis rose from the table and bowed to the King and the Princess. “By your leave, I must go and begin preparations for departure. I believe I’ve heard enough here to implement our plans and brief the men.”
He headed for the door after a nod from the King, but stopped and turned back to the table. “Mage Aldan, regardless of the outcome of our impending battle, you have already achieved a great victory here. Your kind words and actions yesterday, while riding through the city, have lifted the spirits of the people. The confidence level, both in the castle and out, is higher than I’ve seen in a long time. For that, I will always be in your debt. Thank you.”
The click of the door closing behind him was the only sound to disturb the silence that settled over the room. Odessa reached out to take Aldan’s hand in hers and squeezed. Her eyes spoke volumes.
Rodger stared into the glass in his hand and softly spoke. “What he said is true. As much as I hate to admit it, the morale in this kingdom has declined from the day I took the throne. I swear to you both that after this is over, I will try and persuade my sister to return to her rightful place and rule as I have failed to do.”
Aldan tore his eyes away from the Princess and answered the King in kind, “Majesty, this I swear to you that whatever the cost to me, Mage Bartleon will not survive to trouble your kingdom.”