“It doesn’t count if you’re already planning your defeat.” Simi said, her arms crossed.
I took a controlled inhale, breathing in the anxiety, coffee-infused smell that made up the map room. So many victories had been decided here.
"Seriously?" I didn't take my eyes off the map, determined not to let her shake my stance. This was happening whether or not a certain elf wanted it to.
"You are giving up, this is the dumbest plan, I have ever heard!" She snapped, moving next to me, her dark eyes drilling into my head.
"Weren't you the one that said I was a selfish jerk? That I didn't think of anyone but myself?" I mimicked her accent, annoyed that when I finally made the right choice, she had to interfere yet again. "Do you just hate character development? Is that why you've been a brooding, know-it-all elf this whole time?"
She didn't recoil, smiling at the challenge. "Oh, I see, all the training really has paid off. The one time you decided to grow some balls, you're sticking to the advice of a coward!"
I didn't look at her, gritting my teeth and forcedly trying to locate the Ferian Pass. That's where the trade-off was supposed to happen, tomorrow under the eclipse. When everyone was powerless. I moved the pawn representing me there, and Simi grabbed it and hurled it against the wall.
"Oh wow," I turned to look at her in amazement. "So if I don't always listen to you, you'll just kill me?"
Her armour rustled as she placed her hand on my shoulder. "I'm trying to stop you from getting killed! And for what-?"
I shrugged her arm off angrily. "My family! My sister! You idiot, I cannot let them die!" The anger that had been steadily building combined with sleep loss made me sway a little.
"We lose the war if you go," Simi said, calm compared to me, which just made me angrier, clearing my head. "If you die, the prophecy says we lose. If we lose, my people die. Your kingdom falls-"
"You don't care about anyone who isn't in your stupid prophecy!" I snapped, shoving her back. It hurt hitting adamantine armour, but it was satisfying to finally shove this self-absorbed elf away.
She let out a hiss and moved like lightning, sweeping me off my legs in a flash. "Forgive me if I care about thousands instead of two insignificant-"
I punched her in the face, feeling savage satisfaction instead of anything else when blood trickled down from her mouth.
She launched a hit back, hitting me across the face, then kicking. I fell against the table, and rolled over it, shoving it back to trap her against the wall.
Simi used her sword to cut through it, throwing a piece of smoking wood at me.
I dodged and rolled, scooping up a practice sword left behind.
CLANG! Instantly our swords connected and my muscles burned to push back. I moved back, springing forward to come down onto her head.
Simi blocked horizontally, and I felt myself overheating, wildly swinging to cut her.
She blocked with her armour, then used her other arm to knock the sword away and punch me in the throat. It burned, and I fell against the wall, gasping wildly.
"You're forgetting everything in anger," Simi told me, her face expressionless.
I swore at her, my voice hoarse. "That's my family you're abandoning, again! Just because elves have no family, and care about nothing, nothing but their goddamned magic, doesn't mean I don't either!"
Simi knelt down. "I am not saying we should abandon them. I'm saying there has to be a strategy that doesn't involve you turning yourself over. These notions of family are so nice to hear but ultimately useless." She blocked my punch before it hit. "I don't care about them, you're right, your father and sister mean nothing to me. But I do care about you, I didn't train your worthless princely ass for five months to see you surrender."
"If they die," I spoke with rigid control over my voice. "I have nothing. I will lose, and I will not let them die when I could keep them alive."
"You don't know that. You do not know that they'll let the royal family live anyways. I think we should send someone in your place, like the shapeshifter Orri."
"Stop! The eclipse means no magic, you think I didn't try that?" I was not in the mood to hear anything but a solution. "I should have been in the palace, protecting them."
"If you never left, you wouldn't be the warrior you are today. You wouldn't be the hero who can save the land." Simi said, wiping her lip. "We'll come up with something, attack them first, find a way to hide you, something. But you cannot give up before we try."
"I don't want to try. I'm going to fail, there's too much." I said, exhaling a long sigh, feeling the thumping migraine in my head and the burn in my eyes. And now the bruises from Simi's stupid fists.
"Getting yourself killed is not street relieving your majesty. And every great conquest seems like this, you just need to push through, and worst case, we all die in a blaze of glory."
"So, worst case, we all get tortured and slowly killed, I'm supposed to find something good in that?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. I still planned to follow through with my mission, no matter what Simi said. If there was no solution, my family would not pay the price for me.
"I'll call the generals, we will strategize this time, properly instead of just your lazy thoughts."
An idea occurred to me, and I leapt up, hitting my head against a shelf. "Agh! Concussion! No!"
"In the name of the First, what are you doing?" Simi asked in alarm.
"I have an idea! I am going to surrender, but wait-don't you hit me!" I pointed at Simi threateningly as she moved forward. "Get the generals in here, I have an actual plan now."
Simi narrowed her eyes at me, and I could tell that was itching to throw me in a padded room until all this was over.
I felt slightly irritated now, and I let it show. "Trust me, for once. I've been trained by some of the biggest assholes on the continent," At this, she smiled. "And I do care about the prophecy and staying alive. I have a plan, and it will work if you believe in me."
"Fine. Fine!" She said at last, after an intense staring contest. "I'll get the generals. Also, next time, when you're going for a right hook, turn your hips more." She smirked, ducking out of the door.
"Who's bleeding right now? Huh?" I yelled after her and then stared at the wrecked room. I groaned in annoyance and tried to balance the two halves of the table against each other. "Oh my god, Simi!"
I propped up some tables chairs, and books strategically and covered the whole mess with the map. Oddly enough, I still felt panicked like before, but so much less compared to the sleepless four nights I had spent, worrying over my sister and father's fates.
As the generals approached I ran through the plan in my head, feeling strangely calm and confident. I know what I'm doing, I told myself. I am not going to give up until he kills me.
The moment the generals entered, the slam of the door caused the table to collapse.
I avoided looking at it. "So, I have a solid plan. More solid than this table, even though, uh..Okay, so I'm going to start now."