Fiction logo

Save One

Will Battles: Chapter 39

By Kristen LeavittPublished about a year ago 10 min read
(photo from Inc Magazine)

Narissa tried to appear calm for Eshi’s sake. She held her hands in her lap and forced herself to sit, even though she would rather have been up and pacing. Eshi, for her part, kept looking at the door worriedly.

“When will they come back?” she asked. It had only been about an hour since Joree and the others had left. Narissa gave what she hoped was a reassuring smile.

“Soon enough, honey. They have a lot they need to do. Hard things.”

Eshi seemed troubled by this, pulling her knees to her chest as she sat on a small rug. “Why does everyone here fight so much?” she asked softly.

Narissa sighed. How did one explain concepts like war to a child?

“I mean, you have…what do you call it? Will? Shouldn’t that help you to understand each other?” the girl continued.

Narissa paused, cocking her head. “What? Eshi, Will is…it’s a weapon. A measure of strength.”

Eshi’s eyes grew distant. “I guess…I guess the power is different here,” she murmured. “Or at least you use it different.”

“What do you mean?”

“What you call Will, it’s…well, it can reach into another person’s mind. It can heal and calm and connect people. But you use it like a knife, cutting into the brain. You break the other person’s mind instead of just changing it.”

Narissa just stared at the little girl, at a complete loss for words. Eshi didn’t seem to notice her bewilderment as she stared at her feet, a small frown on her face.

Finally, Narissa managed to find words for one of her many questions. “So, how would you use Will, in this situation?”

“Well, I could never use Will,” Eshi said. Her brow furrowed. “But if I could, I would…reach into their minds. Find out what they want, what they are planning. I think?”

Narissa gaped. “You mean…like…” She tried to wrap her mind around what Eshi was saying. “You mean like mind-reading?”

Eshi looked up at her. “Mind-reading? What’s that?”

“Never mind,” Narissa muttered. But her thoughts were spinning with possibilities.


The group consisted of Joree, Jistan, Aniah, Ordel, Horick, Lanae, Karrin, and four Mind Scythe who would guard their retreat. They were at the open entrance to the underground passage, where a group of Kriton guards sat lazily, some of them dozing. One lifted his head as they entered.

“’Ey,” he drawled out lazily. Joree almost jumped. He was speaking in perfect Manicoti, no hint of an accent. “Who are your friends?”

“These are prisoners I am taking down to the cells,” Horick replied flatly.

“Oh, good. Good. Maybe that will make everyone stop freaking out.”

“Freaking out?” Horick repeated, raising one eyebrow.

“Yeah, soldiers keep running past, yelling about an army and saying stuff about evacuation to the failsafe.” The guard rolled his eyes. “We were told to wait until Den gets up here, then escort him and that creepy Verse or Viz guy-”

“Vris,” a woman supplied, one arm flung over her eyes as she lounged.

“Yeah, him. Escort Den and that Vris guy to the failsafe.”

“Where is this failsafe?” Horick asked.

The guard yawned. “Dunno. They didn’t tell me. Figure we’ll find out soon enough.”

Joree shared a glance with Jistan. The younger boy looked equally baffled by the apparently docile enemy soldiers. Aniah just looked impatient, dancing from foot to foot and glancing over her shoulder every few seconds.

“You have new orders,” Horick said. “Guard the palace doors until Den and Vris come. We can’t allow the intruders into the palace.”

“Sure, whatever.” The man stood, nudging a sleeping companion with his boot. “Let’s go.” They all slowly made their way out. Joree shivered a little at the vacant look in their eyes.

“What in the Flames is wrong with them?” Aniah hissed once they left.

Horick frowned. “Connection is…hard here.”

He seemed to think that was an adequate explanation, because he strode into the darkness.


Dennison was annoyed. However, he wasn’t overly concerned. This would be nothing more than an inconvenience, a small delay. And he had time to spare, even if he didn’t particularly like being patient.

Then a soldier came streaking towards him, running like he was being chased by a Wraith. Actually, that was probably exactly what was happening.

“What now?” Dennison snapped.

“Intruders!” the youth gasped. “In the tunnels!”

Dennison growled. “I thought,” he said between clenched teeth, “that we still had at least twenty minutes before they reached us.”

“They must have sent an advance force,” the messenger said, shaking his head.

“How many?”

He shrugged. “I’ve heard multiple reports. There seems to be at least three separate groups, but only two or three people in each.”

Dennison relaxed. “Then why are we worried? We’ll kill them when we run into them.”

The messenger hesitated. “We think one of them is the escaped prisoner.”

Dennison perked up. “Really?”

Vris stepped up beside him. “The boy?”

The messenger looked uncomfortable at Vris’s presence but nodded.

Dennison glanced at Vris. “Well?”

“The talisman will work.” The disturbing man gestured to his wrist, where he wore his protection stone, forged from solid Pulse at the expense of many of his own people.

“You’re sure?” Dennsion pressed. Vris just stared at him, not deigning to reply.

“Very well. Bricken!” The man-who was carrying a heavily sedated Highness over his shoulder-tried to snap to attention and nearly dropped his burden.

“Take your talisman off and give it to me. Then shoot the Highness with another round of sedative to ensure she doesn’t wake up.”


Joree crept along behind Horick, closely followed by Aniah. They had been forced to split from the others when a patrol spotted them. In the panic of the moment, everyone had turned in different directions to flee. Joree and Aniah had followed Horick, who seemed the most calm.

They reached an intersection, and Horick paused. He looked between the pathways, seeming conflicted. Finally, his gaze hardened. He pointed right. “You will find the Highness that direction.” He turned and moved down the left path.

“What are you doing?” Joree asked, alarmed. Horick turned to face him.

“I still have my own task to complete. I don’t know if it is possible anymore, but I can’t give up now.” He didn’t wait for an answer. Instead, he took off running.

“Come on,” Aniah said grimly. “I guess it’s just us again.”


Bricken didn’t feel safe without his protection stone. True, he didn’t really feel comfortable with it, either. But at least he knew the Manicoti Will Masters wouldn’t be able to flay his mind while he wore it.

He shuddered, thinking of Vris’s calm, cold explanation of the stone’s creation. He and some other Delani had been searching for a way to block Will power, a weapon to use against the Manicoti in war. Vris’s research had led him to a theory: if Pulse could be solidified, it could create a shield against Will. And he’d turned out to be right. But there was a catch: it required an immense effort of Pulse from multiple Delani, all of whom ended up dead to create a single talisman of protection. Only five were ever created before the project was deemed a failure. But still, those five stones had been put to good use.

The talisman the Queen lady wore was different. For one thing, it was purple. It was also much bigger. But the major differences weren’t physical. Instead of shielding its wearer, the talisman blocked Will from getting out. No, that was wrong. Dennison had explained it, but it was hard to grasp. The talisman sucked away the Will from whoever was wearing it, leaving them perpetually weak.

“Get out of here,” Dennison snapped as Bricken handed over his protection stone. “You’ll be useless now.”

Bricken let out a relieved breath, saluted, and scampered off, leaving the Queen laying in an undignified heap on the ground.


Aniah led the way, fueled one hundred percent by determination and zero percent by confidence. Joree followed without a word, for once not trying to make light of the situation.

They rounded a corner and Aniah stopped dead in her tracks, her heart skipping a beat. Two figures blocked the tunnel ahead, dark and tall, radiating malice.

Dennison and Vris. Of course. Two of the most evil, twisted beings in existence. People who had tortured Joree, then tortured Aniah to get to Joree, and had no doubt been torturing her mother and countless others.

Dennison held his hands out to the side in a calming gesture. “Good to see you two again,” he said smoothly. He held no visible weapons, but with a Delani standing at his side, that wasn’t exactly comforting. And what was that behind him, on the ground? It looked like a prone figure, human or Delani by the shape. Or…possibly a corpse?

Dennison followed her gaze, then smiled humorlessly. “I see you’ve noticed our guest of honor.” He gestured grandly, stepping to the side. Aniah started to step forward but Joree put a hand on her shoulder.

“May I present the great Highness Arellia,” Dennison continued, as if he were the announcer at a grand feast.

“What have you done?” Aniah hissed, anger boiling up inside of her.

“Do not worry,” he said. “She is still alive. Just heavily sedated. I couldn’t have her wandering off before you arrived to safely escort her away.” His voice was thick with mock innocence. “Now, we would like to deal.”

“Go burn in the Flames,” Aniah growled.

He shook his head. “Now, now. That’s no way to act. Our deal is simple. Let us walk out of here alive, and we will leave the city and never return. We will even leave your precious Highness alive.”

Aniah paused, momentarily taken off guard by the offer. That was it? They were just…giving up?

Her mind whispered a warning, but one more look at her mother and she didn’t care. “Done,” she snapped. “Get out.”

Dennison and Vris both moved carefully forward. Aniah and Joree inched along the wall, not taking their eyes off the two.

Just as they were about to pass, Vris lunged. He moved with incredible speed, grabbing Joree by the wrist and jerking him forward. Joree cried out and stumbled on his bad leg.

Instinctively, Aniah threw Will at the Delani. Nothing happened. She wanted to scream. Not again!

But there was another way…

She redirected her efforts, pushing her Will into Joree. She waited for him to use it, to blast Vris and Dennison through a wall, but nothing happened.

And then she saw it. A small bracelet on Joree’s wrist, apparently affixed there when Vris grabbed him. A tiny silver jewel was attached. Dennison and Vris wore identical bracelets. She remembered, what seemed like ages ago, seeing the same jewel on the circlet of King Abicotta.

And suddenly it made sense. Those jewels blocked Will. That was why she couldn’t hurt them when she tried to use mind strikes. And now she couldn’t give any to Joree to use as a weapon.

Vris suddenly let loose a small blast of flame. But not at Aniah.

At Arellia. It caught hold of her ragged clothing and very slowly started to grow. Aniah screamed.

“I may have need of you later,” Dennison said, “but she has proven useless.” The he smiled darkly. “Of course, you may still be able to save her.”

Vris was already backing towards the door with Joree. Aniah looked between him and her mother.

“Save her!” he screamed. “You need her to save the city!”

She rushed towards Arellia as the three moved swiftly to leave. She couldn’t save Joree. Besdies, he was not in immediate danger.

Of course, if she let him go now, she would probably never see him again.

She paused. So, this was her choice. Joree or Arellia. Joree, the bright, cheerful boy with an incredible and inexplicable gift. The one who had saved her multiple times and stuck by her side throughout this entire disaster, starting with the Kriton invasion. And Arellia, her mother. Who she loved. But who had never shown her, or anyone else, a modicum of mercy or compassion. Who had kidnapped and imprisoned a child for unknowable reasons. Someone with incredible power and no ability to truly care about those who were weak.

All these thoughts passed through Aniah’s mind in the space of a heartbeat. A sob broke from her chest.

She knew what she had to do.


About the Creator

Kristen Leavitt

Hey all! I am a recent graduate from BYU in Provo with a masters in PE. I have a passion for the outdoors, physical activity, sports, and health, but I also love writing! I love my husband, parents, and all eleven of my siblings!

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.