Argenta and the Conjurers by all the CWI Participants
Smoke and tears blur her vision as the smell of the fire burns in front of her. Argenta watches through teary eyes as her mother’s ashes scatter around the burning stake. Panic fills the young girl’s chest as her mind processes the horror she has just witnessed. Questions blaze through her mind. Why? What did she do that warranted this? Why wasn’t it stopped?
Argenta doesn’t even notice her tears evaporating from the heat of the pyre. Everything was happening so fast. Was her father watching this next to the king? He could have- should have- stopped it. Humans were supposed to be just and honorable. There was no justice to be dealt here.
The confusion and fear of the unknown builds in her chest. The fear of everyone’s eyes overtakes Argenta more so than any other feelings. She has to get away. She has to get away from everyone. She can’t show weakness.
Before she even knows where she is going, Argenta is running. She runs as fast as she can away from the heat and horrid smell of the blaze. Away from the people she thought she could trust.
Alone, Argenta stops, gasping for air as she takes in the wooded surroundings she finds herself in. She’s been here before. A mass of trees for miles outside of the kingdom. While usually people might find this space calming, all it did was bring a swell of memories and emotions back to Argenta. All the happy times of playing in the trees, racing to the stream nearby, picnics and walks. All the happiness turns to sorrow. Her mother’s suffering drapes a blanket of striking pain over each of those happy times. Tears once again swell in her eyes and that bubbling feeling that filled her chest before overtakes Argenta’s mind. It grows and grows until a screech of everything that has been building releases. A blast of power splinters surrounding trees and sends a shockwave of her destruction through the nearby vicinity.
As the shockwave dissipates, focus comes back to Argenta’s mind. What just happened? Argenta looks around, taking in the destruction around her- not comprehending that it was her that caused it. As she goes to take a step Argenta stumbles and collapses, her body exhausted. Not having the emotional energy to try again, Argenta curls up and cries. Nothing is making sense. Nothing is right. She feels like everything she has ever been told was a lie.
Unnoticed by Argenta the sound of footsteps fills the area. A gentle hand is placed on her shoulder, causing Argenta to jolt up. The kind face of an old woman faces the younger girl.
“Hello dear. You’ve wandered far from the city’s end. Do you need any help?” The old lady speaks in a soft voice filled with compassion.
Argenta tries to respond, but her throat feels ripped apart from her scream. She slowly nods. As far as she knew the only people who lived in the woods had magic and they were dangerous and should be avoided, but maybe that was wrong too.
“Come with me then. I’m Cora. We can get you cleaned up and fed.” The old lady helps Argenta up with surprising strength and starts to lead her farther into the forest. It doesn’t take long for a town that Argenta has never seen before to take shape between the trees. “Home sweet home. We’ll go to the tavern first and get Gidian to give us some stuff to clean that gash on your hand then we can get you cleaned up at my place.” Cora explains as she leads Argenta into the town.
The adrenaline turned to numbness from before had blocked out the pain, but as Argenta looks down at her hand she finally notices the dirty gash that has stained her hand red. As her brain processes what she’s looking at she starts to feel the throbbing that had been repressed as the wave of overwhelming emotions from earlier starts to subside. Cora leads Argenta to a patchwork building that seems to have been rebuilt a few times. Outside the building hangs a sign labeling it as The Ghost Goose Tavern. Before they two could get to the door a large figure calls out, approaching as he speaks.
“Hey Cora! How’s it going? Who’s the kid? No one should have been able to get through the barrier.”
“Let me explain when we get inside.” Cora says with a smile, pointing at the tavern. “The less I have to talk the better.” She swings open the door and a wave of sound floods over the three.
“Yo, Tank! Took you long enough. We’ve been waiting to start the game.” A tall man with intricate markings calls from the corner of the room.
“Cora’s got a story to tell. She found someone in the barrier.” Tank calls back, staying with Argenta and Cora. A ripple of murmurs quiets the room down as everyone starts to aim their attention towards Argenta.
“How she got here isn’t the matter. Gidian dear, will you get us some alcohol and clean towels for her.” Cora places a hand gently on Argenta’s shoulder. “Her hand needs some cleaning.” Gidian nods and with a wave the glass they were cleaning floats to sit with the rest. Cora once again gives her attention to Argenta. “Don’t worry. Gidian has the best cleaning supplies in the town. I always go to them when my stores run out. Now, are you able to tell me your name?”
“I’m Argenta. Where are we?” The young girl looks around, fidgeting with the hem of her shirt.
“We’re where the barrier used to be.”
Why the barrier was bad
Argenta slammed the door behind her with a resounding fury, so far her efforts had come to nothing. Every connection she had in this city had proven useless. No one was willing to help. Had they always been this selfish or was she just too naive to notice. This court and city that once sheltered her now felt stifling. Could her friends, and trusted community truly be so unfeeling? Could she truly be surprised, when she herself had grown up anware till that fateful day in the woods.
Argenta sighed heavily and admitted defeat. She was disappointed to return with no aid but there was nothing left here for her and so she made her way back towards the town and towards the barrier remains.
“ Cheer up dear, in all honesty I doubt any one of us had much hope in your visit succeeding, Cora said gently , “ you can’t be disappointed where there was no hope in the first place.”
“ That’s true, I just wish I could have done more,” She whispered my throat feeling heavy.
Cora smiled, “ You did something, that’s more than most, way more than most in court could’ve done”
The door banged open, Tank came rushing in, his arms wrapped around a struggling mass of limbs. “ I found this intruder lingering outside, most likely a capital swine here to spy on us all”.
He dropped the supposed spy on the floor in front of us, the cloaked figure slowly stood. As he approached Argenta he lifted his hood.
“Father!” Argenta yells as she embraces him.
“Argenta!” Her Fathers voice booms “Where have you been? Do you know how much your departure embarrassed me in front of the court!?” Her father yells.
“Me? Mother is gone and you’re concerned with formalities?!” Argenta replied with fury in her eyes. A long pause is exchanged between the two. Suddenly it clicks. “Father, did you know?”
“I knew nothing that is of concern to you” his voice was low and stale. Almost as if he didnt care.
Argentas eyes began to glow. “You knew my mother was going to be sentenced and did nothing to stop it!”
Argenta looks behind her at the meager rebellion force. An uneasy tightness grips her heart. She’s not certain that the ten people gathered with her will be able to succeed, even with the aid, but they have to try.
Argenta feels like her mind is floating out of her body as the rebellion sweeps through the castle. Everything is a blur around her and for a few moments, she loses touch with time. Even though its impossible, she watches the castle from above, like an impartial and unfeeling goddess, ignoring the stress her body is put through. Argenta slowly begins to feel that she could stay here in this distant place forever, when she is rudely grabbed by the lapels and yanked back into her body.
A slicing pain cuts through her temples as her senses catch up with all the input she had missed. She stumbles and puts a hand to her head. She looks around her. Scattered palace guards watch her and the others, wary for an attack. From behind them, the priest meets her eyes with a hateful glare. The nobles that have tried to find safety watch on with wide, beady eyes.
The king lounges on his throne, barely paying attention to the chaos at all. A burning rage bubbles up in Argenta’s core as she sees him. He doesn’t think they will succeed. Argenta will prove him wrong.
The dragon is hunched on all fours, tensed from the conflict in the room. Argenta can see the collar that controls it cinched tight around its neck.
THIS IS SCENE 5 (by group 3!)
With an army behind her and an uncertain future ahead of her, Argenta stood with her head held proudly high. Though the king’s actions weren’t of his own volition, the damage he had orchestrated was visible for miles around. Scorched earth radiated out from the castle. Embers danced in the air, but finally, Argenta knew they were carried on the winds of change.
Perhaps, she thinks to herself, it didn’t have to end this way. Perhaps –
No. No more ‘perhaps.’
Despite the disarray of the landscape, the people’s spirits were high. Victorious chants rang out against the wind – a display of peace between peoples. Argenta turns her gaze from the land towards the new era.
Already, broken bonds were being mended as the once disgraced Conjures were using magic once banned to clear the debris that had won them their freedom. Healing magic sparkled in the air as those who had been injured were brought back to health. There were those whose animosity was clear from the way their heads were held, looking down at the magic’s twists in the air.
But despite everything, Argenta knew that change was overtaking everyone of the kingdom.
Ah, the king… that was another loose end left untied.
Who would lead this next era of the kingdom? An uneasiness settled on Argenta’s shoulders, for with the king defeated, there was no one to lead. Familiarity finds itself in the feeling of an old woman’s hand on her shoulder – Cora. Argenta had been so focused on the world around her that she hadn’t heard the old woman’s approach.
Cora came to take a place next to Argenta on the ruins of the castle wall on which she stood surveying. There was a moment of silence as the two stood, Cora’s hand held firmly on the girl’s shoulder. When Cora finally spoke, her words were soft and comforting.
“You’ve done it, my dear.”
Argenta found the short phrase filling her chest with pride. A pride that grew from her sorrows, loss, and pain. Finally, after everything that she had bare witnessed to and fought for was coming true. The golden glow of the sun would rise this morning anew and set in amber the changes they had fought for.
“With the king gone, I worry they won’t know who to turn to.” Argenta spoke her worries quietly to the old woman. Cora smiled knowingly, the glint marking a Conjure sparking in her deep-set eyes.
“You did lead them to the light at the end, Argenta. This new dawn is your doing.” Cora responded.
“What do you mean?”
“If anyone should take the mantle, you should be first in line. You’ve proven to all that your heart and intentions are true.”
“But-” Argenta began to feel emotions swell within her, “I don’t want to be another King. His tyranny was the problem, I can’t-” Cora cut her off.
“I believe the people cast their vote when they willingly fought by your side.”
Argenta could hardly begin her retort when footsteps rumbled from behind the pair. Tank pulled the both of them into his arms without a word, engulfing the two women in his grasp. He smelt of ash and battle, but Argenta couldn’t help but smile. It wasn’t until Cora cleared her throat that they were released from his arms.
Sheepishly, Tank adjusted Argenta’s singed armor and stifled a chuckle.
“Sorry, sorry! Just wanted to congratulate our new leader on her first victory!” He cackled.
“I-I mean, the people haven’t even made a choice, I can’t possibly-” Argenta began to frantically explain her position. Tank only laughed harder and clapped her on the back good-naturedly.
“The people have spoken, alright. But if you want proof-” Tank stepped forward onto the remains of the wall overlooking the crowd of people aiding each other. With a hand on his mouth, his voice boomed over the people as he called, “Do we take Argenta, leader of the rebellion and spearheader of freedom, as our new leader?” His voice shook the dirt on the earth.
There wasn’t a moment of hesitation before the crowd burst into an uproar, everyone shouting her name and praises. Fists and tattered weapons were thrown into the air in a sign of acceptance. Argenta couldn’t help but find herself tearing up with joy and honor. Her face pulled itself into a smile, one that rivaled the rising sun. With Tank and Cora at her sides, Argenta raised her own fist to the crowd, her sign of accepting their votes.
And with her fist came her promise that the kingdom would never again falter to protect all within its domain.