The black mass in the distance was getting closer and closer in the setting sun. Squinting, Erika could just make out the glinting of sun on metal. She, and everyone else in armor, knew who they were. The Barren had come at last. Come to take what was rightfully theirs. Erika knew the truth.
The rolling green hills of Kvia were stolen from King Corenth almost one hundred years ago by none other than High King Pyrrhus, making it part of his empire. Pyrrhus took the throne and had ruled Kvia for the past one hundred years. Erika wasn’t sure if that was quite possible but she, along with everyone else, had come to the conclusion that Pyrrhus was immortal.
Erika shifted her sheath strap so it wasn’t chafing her waist. The mass was even closer than before, generating restless movement throughout the ranks. Scanning the crowd, she could make out a few descendants of the Barren. Most of them were driven out, but peaceful ones were allowed to stay and make a home under Pyrrhus’ watchful eye. They stood out like blood against snow, their tan skin and dark hair standing out against the fair skinned Kvians. Who was she to talk, she was one of them.
A shoulder nudged Erika and she turned her focus to the boy next to her.
“You’ve got that look again, Erika. Don’t tell me you’re thinking about that.”
“I could tell you no, Liam, but you know me better than that.” Erika said, knowing exactly what that he was talking about.
He shook his head. “I think I should put a leash on you. I’d rather not you try to run away again.”
“I won’t, I know who I’m fighting for now.”
She looked over at the quickly approaching army. Did she though? As much as she loved being part Kvian and living here, her Barren side was tugging her the other way. She’d tried to follow the tugging once and got caught. She vowed never to pull something like that again. She couldn’t just abandon her family. Besides, it would break Liam’s heart.
“Sure you do. Next time you plan to make a run for it, tell me. I’ll come too.”
Erika studied him closely. This boy, no more than 17, who loved Kvia with all his heart, was willing to leave just like that. For her. Erika remembered just the other day when he gushed about the future. He wanted to be a general. Protect his beloved country and maybe even start a family. Warmth spread through Erikka’s chest. Liam would drop everything, his hopes and dreams, to leave with her.
Erika shook her head sadly. “I can’t ask you to do that.”
“I know. But it’s not your decision if I go or stay.”
“Alright, let’s make a deal.” Erika said as the army started to march into action. She nodded toward the oncoming mass. “This battle will be tough. No guarantee we both get out alive. But if we do, we’ll leave. Go wherever our hearts lead us. Follow the tugging. We’ll go anywhere...together.”
Liam beamed at Erika and took her hand, despite the oncoming soldiers.