After the Flames
Flora Lee


At first, he couldn't feel the pain. Silently he prayed that the flames had singed his nerves beyond repair, that he could die painlessly.

He prayed in vain.

Pain jolted through his body as angry burns made themselves known. Shadows crept over his field of vision. He closed his eyes, hoping to black out before death claimed him. He had fought with all he had for his mother – his father – his kingdom.

He had lost.

He needed to come to terms with this. He had never lost before. At least he would never live to see the consequences of his defeat.

A cool hand touched his burnt shoulder, jerking him from the edge of unconsciousness. Mysterious, almost holy power drove the pain away from his shoulder. A shadow materialized into a white figure…a knight? The knight offered his hand.

“You okay?”

Maybe this was death. Perhaps the knight would escort him to the Great Thereafter. Would he find his parents there? His mind flashed back to the battle.

“How could I lose?” he mumbled.

Three other forms slowly came into the light. Closest to the knight stood a woman draped in tattered white robes. A healer. Some distance from the two stood a dragoon. He wore battered light blue armor, though it seemed darker even than the near–black walls of the cave. He glanced at the fourth member of the party.

He had definitely gone to Heaven. His dwindling heartbeat sprang to life. The fair damsel's light brown eyes widened slightly at the sight of his wounds. Waves of short hair, in the most unusual color, framed a heart-shaped face.

He closed his eyes, trying to imagine the motley crew before him battling the demon that had done this to him…and his kingdom. They wouldn’t last an hour.