This might seem familiar, because it is a continuation of the very first B.O.S.S. story: the Monkey. Since then the entire story has been published on E-fiction’s Fantasy branch: New Realm
The Gold Queen, Part 1
Screams filled the city of Prost and Tillesia could do nothing but watch. Shadows twisted around the great towers of the capital like a hand gripping a throat. It would only be a matter of time before the Usurper King met his end at the hand of a Shadow Lord.
She tightened a gauntlet of her golden armor, checked her blade in her scabbard, and walked away.
“Are you sure about this?” Yulos said. She rested a casual hand on her waist, pushing the holy robes to hug her shapely form, and twirled her staff idly. Yulos’ long silver hair fluttered in the pungent winds, the stench did nothing to stifle her beauty.
Tilliesia stopped, her muscles tense. “As sure as I’m going to be.”
“This is delicious. You are letting thousands die, for what? Because your order tells you to? Shouldn’t you be running in head first to save the Usurper King?”
She wanted to. There would be no honor in watching the King die at the hands of Finnrick or seeing him turned into a slathering beast of shadow. But his death would bring peace and unity.
The fingers of shadow closed around the tower. The screaming worsened.
“Focus on protecting the forest folk and those who fled the city. I will come to you when I can.”
“As the Gold Lady wishes.” Yulos slammed her staff into the ground and chanted unearthly words. Dark whispers to the one below belched shadow to counter shadow.
Tillesia left Yulos to her work, struggling to ignore the pleas from the heart of Prost. Sometimes the wounds she did not heal, hurt most.
Soldier applause greeted Tillesia as she entered the camp. The army of Lye clapped gauntleted fists to their breastplates in rhythm, setting a metallic heartbeat to ring through the camp. The high bishop stood at the heart of the camp waiting between two walls of infantry, standing ready for the invasion and reclamation of Prost.
Tillesia raised a tight fist to the bridge of her nose, laying her extended thumb to rest at her forehead.
The bishop stopped her from kneeling. “Not today.”
Bisop Irrias squeezed her shoulder and tightened the slender features of his face. While his robes were pristine and pressed, the stubble on his face and the rings under his eyes told her more than any military report could.
“I don’t understand. Have I done ill, Bishop?”
“No you have done splendidly,” he said. “This is a moment of triumph.”
Tillesia tightened her jaw. “With all due respect, Bishop, this is not.”
“We’ve waited for this day for some time, you have lived humbly and in sin for this moment.”
“No sin, Bishop. Finnrick and Mattis are–were good men.”
“Even better. We will reclaim Prost and subdue the Dark Lord. That is a promise.”
“And the people lost, Bishop?”
“It will take weeks to put their souls at rest. More than half have been turned, much higher than the expected amount. What kind of person is this Finnrick?”
Tillesia fell to silent consideration. “One that hurts, sir.”
“Did you love him?”
“Yes, sir.” Tillesia knew this might save Finnrick in the end. She did not, or rather, had no clear love for the boy. Not the way he wanted her love at least.
“And the Dark Witch? Yulos?”
Tillesia shook her head. “She is unrelated to the incident, Bishop, but I convinced her to help hold the creatures at bay. She will—“
“Unacceptable.” Bishop Irrias shook her arm. “I want that Witch having no part in the recapture. She is as much a threat to the world as a Dark Lord. It wouldn’t surprise me if she worsened this ordeal just to get an in with this Finnrick.”
Tillesia winced. She did. “Bishop, she can save those on the outskirts until our main forces arrive. Please do not speak ill of her.”
The Bishop pulled his hand away, frowning. His eyes poured accusations left unsaid. He knew what Yulos meant to her and the nature of their relationship. He cleared his throat. “Very well, but I bring news. With the death of the Usurper King, we need a figurehead to lead our soldiers to glory. Pick your best three men and three women to be your personal guard.
Tillesia’s heart sank. “Sir you don’t mean—”
“I do.” The Bishop waved to his protectors, they fell to their knees as did the rest of the soldiers. The heartbeat chant ceased, and the Bishop himself knelt. “Your majesty.”
“Impossible,” Tillesia said. “I am no queen.”
“But you are. Our Golden Queen.”
The cheers erupted, all bets were off and the typically composed soldiers whooped and hollered around her. She spoke to protest, but the words were lost in their revelry. No one would protest, the borderlands would unite to crush the Dark Lord and once he was captured she would sit the throne.
“Wait. Wait!” Tillesia raised her arms, regarding those around her. Everyone fell to a hush.
“Why are we celebrating? People are dying in Prost. People are being twisted to shadow. There will be no celebrations until Prost is reclaimed and the Dark Lord kneels before me.”
The gathered soldiers exchanged glances. “I need a gathering of brave men and women to march with me. This ends today.”
“My Queen,” the Bishop said, standing. “A full on assault would be suicide.”
“We will succeed because it will not be a full on assault. We seek to parlay with the Dark Lord. His isn’t a monster, he is a boy who’s emotions have been devoured by shadow.”
Confused murmurs surrounded her. They didn’t understand. She had to make them understand.
“His name is Finnrick. His is forest folk pushed from the cities of the East. If we aim for conquest the world will be consumed in shadow. The ideals of Lye are founded on peace, not war.”
The soldiers lowered their heads in shame. How quickly bloodlust infects even the holiest of armies.
“Who will come with me to Prost? You will endanger your bodies, but your souls will sing. We must forge a righteous road through Prost to meet the Lord of Shadow. There I will show him—show Finnrick that this will not need to end in blood. Steel your hearts because those who are lost in rage will rise as monsters.”
Tillesia cast her gaze over her kinsmen. Consideration danced in their eyes as thick as fear. But the battle could not be concluded.
“I’ll go.” A girl of twelve called from the back ranks, standing on a wooden crate. “I will follow you to Prost.”
Tillesia smiled, admiring the wooden drum held before the girl. There’s no one braver than the Drummers of Lye.
The girl hopped off her box and pushed through the crowds, hurrying to greet her queen. A soldier broke rank to follow, then another. The girl arrived, panting heavily, and stood before Tillesia. Fear danced in her eyes, but the brilliance of courage dimmed it. The soldiers behind her, a mixture of armored men and women were a mere dozen.
“Suicide,” Bishop Irrias said.
“You have it wrong,” the girl said, smiling. “It is sacrifice.”