The battle was in full swing at that point. The sound of steel scraping across steal, the low hum of magic and a sudden explosion when the spell met its target. The air was filled with the smell of blood and burned flesh something that normally would make Leland highly uncomfortable but right now he didn’t have a choice but to push through the discomfort, his life and the life of his friends depended on all of them staying focused. Another one of the priest's guards charged at him with a sword raised high above his head, Leland immediately felt bad for the man, he was human sent to fight against warlocks. This proved that the High Priest expected the fight to be short and one that did not require deploying the witches and warlocks so instead he sent the human guard, which consisted of poor souls who didn’t have any other choice but to obey for scraps of bread and a sense of purpose. Before the guard could even reach him Leland flicked his wrist making the man go unconscious, he did so with all of the men that charged at him shortly after.
The fight looked to play out like any other before that but something felt off, It looked almost identical to the one they fought in weeks ago. Something didn’t sit right with Leland so he started analysing his surroundings for any signs of a trap or upcoming danger. Looking to his left he saw Viviane throwing glowing knives at a group of guards that protected the entrance to the library, above her Carridven was shooting arrows and shouting commands at the Peryan warriors that fought from the ground. Turning to his right he saw Sander pushing forward mere inches from the libraries tower, his face was covered in blood flowing from the nasty cut that formed along his hairline. Then Leland’s gaze looked for Aaron and found him not far away from Sander. Aaron was always a resilient warrior but Leland could see the exhaustion in his face, his friend and leader seemed to be at the end of his rope for the past few weeks. The constant fights and planning attacks to get to the holy library sucked the energy out of him, even his magic seemed to have less impact than usual the beams of black mist coming from his palms were less dense and had a smaller reach. This was going to be a disaster unless they figured out how to get to the library as quick as possible.
Leland knocked out another human guard that attacked him from behind and looking around it finally clicked, he realized what was wrong. Stomping his boot on the ground the guards surrounding him fell over themselves and with a frantic voice he yelled over the noise
“Aaron!” his friend turned to him in acknowledgement but continued to push forward “We need to pull back!” Aaron looked at him confused.
“Why In the hell would we do that?” asked Carridven shooting an arrow straight through one of the guard’s arms.
“It’s a trap!” Leland explained looking around for the best escape route. “Everything looks the same as the last time but now there are only human guards! Why do you think that is?!” Sander looked at Leland with realization as he threw a guard against the wall.
“They want to tire us out!” Sander yelled back “The gate is enchanted, I’m sure the Gold Guard is waiting for us right behind it, somebody told them we were going to strike from here!”
“Well then in that case we have to go!” Viviane yelled back frustrated “Carridven order your people to pull back to the catacombs!”
“But we are so close!”
“What’s more important to you the book or the lives of your people that will go to waste if we continue?!” Leland heard Sander yell back to the Peryan general.
“Aaron what do you say we do?!” Carridven asked angrily but Aaron stayed silent as he continued to fight off the guards who seemingly stayed oblivious to the whole conversation happening.
“Aaron!” Sander yelled at his brother, waiting for a command or the slightest acknowledgement of the fact that they should run. Aarons's face froze as his whole body did, Leland saw him closing his eyes for a moment before clasping his hands together.
“Hold on everybody!” he yelled and expanded his palms the whole square filled with bright white light as Leland felt himself being moved through the channel between worlds.
When he opened his eyes back up, he recognized the familiar surroundings of the Château. Looking around he saw the confused Peryan warriors still in fighting stances looking around for their next target only to realize that they were no longer on the battlefield. He saw Viviane rubbing her temples and Carridven looking around angrily as she chucked her bow and arrows on the nearest table.
“You fool” Leland heard Sander say, turning to the side he saw Aaron kneeling on the ground breathing heavily and clutching his chest as Sander run-up to his side. “You can’t just teleport dozens of people on your own, do you have a death wish?!”
“He certainly does,” said Leland walking to his friends. Summoning his medical kit he began looking for an appropriate potion to help Aaron breathe. “When I said we should leave I didn’t meant pull back to the Tree and then go back to the Chateau” Aaron coughed and run a hand through his sweaty hair. Leland kneeled next to him and extended his hand with the potion towards Aaron but he didn’t make a move to grab it.
“If we left the traditional way they would have the time to take down the shields and send the witches after us. This was the only logical option.” He said coughing again. Sander opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something to that but he was interrupted by a scoff coming from Carridven.
“You are a weak and stupid man Aaron Reid,” she said looking down at him “We could’ve had the book in our hands right now but you decided to be a coward” Viviane looked at her disgusted.
“We would be all dead by now if he didn’t bring us back here!” she shouted and Carridven rolled her eyes.
“Maybe you are not strong enough to hold your own but my warriors are”
“I’m not saying they are not strong but there is wisdom in knowing when to surrender instead of pushing forward like a herd of stubborn mules!” Viviane replied stepping into the general's space.
“Listen here, you little girl…” Carridven began but this time she was interrupted by Aarons booming voice.
“Stop it!” when everyone was focused on the general and the witch arguing he managed to stand up with Sanders help. Leland watched his leader carefully, he looked as If he was about to faint any second now but he stood his ground determined to put an end to the discourse. “This is not the time for petty insults, go tend to your wounds and rest we will talk about this tomorrow,” he said and turned to leave limping towards the staircase. But Carridven wasn’t done.
“Your father is a better warrior than you are” everyone froze at the comment, it was a low blow and all of them knew that. The worst insult that anyone could say to the Reid brothers. Aaron did not reply, he relaxed his shoulders and begun walking again. Leland watched as his best friend walked up the stairs, he knew that the comment hit him with the force of a dying star but he knew better than to follow him now. Dragging his hand over his face Leland sat on the nearest chair as the Peryan warriors begun tending to their wounds. He felt a hand rest on his shoulder and looked up.
“Let's go get a drink,” Viviane said and it was the best idea she had that day. Leland got up and along with Viv, they made their way towards the kitchens.