Livia knew who he was. The face was familiar and one she seen in more than a passing, but she didn’t care. She didn’t spare Saer a second glance. She instead rushed to his side, falling to her knew as her hands press on the grave wound to his back, trying to stem the blood. It was soaking into his uniform. The color of it quickly being enveloped in red.
She tries to heal him, to seal his wound, but her magic falls through her hands like seeping water.
“No, no, come on, work! Work, damn you!” She curses, calling her magic once again. She knows the spell; she knew a multitude of healing spells! Not a single one would work. His wound would heal for only short moments before it started to bleed once again. The slash was so deep she could see the bones of his spine. Her white hands were soon drenched in his blood but she didn’t give up.
He tries to turn over, to push her away, “L-l-leave me,” he garbles at her. His head was bleeding and blood spills from the corners of his mouth.
His eyes were a mirror of the night sky, and they were wide with terror, but he still tries to get to his feet.
“Don’t move!” She shouts but he ignores her.
He stands in front of her and fumbles with the sword on his belt.
Saer’s emotionless face breaks into a cruel smirk, “You were never good with the sword brother. Spare us the sight and put that down. You will only hurt yourself,” He mocks, his gate still slow and unrushed.
“D-Don’t come any closer!” He yells, swinging his sword wildly.
Livia calls onto her magic once again, this time she gets a spark of purple light around her fingers before it fizzles out. She tries again and again, anyway. She thinks of all the protection and healing spells she knew and goes through the list. Very few stick to his person. The bleeding on his back slows once more and the wound begins to close. She focuses her all on that. He won’t last a second more unless she stops him from bleeding.
Meanwhile, Saer humors him. He bats at his oldest brother with his sword lazily, easily blocking his weak attacks all the while continuing to taunt and mock his existence. From his brother's stout appearance to his cowardice, and even his laziness. He boasts about killing all of his other concubines, about going after his newly appointed empress.
“Your mother escaped without looking back,” Saer says darkly, nicking his brother in the arm, “Her great highness was the first to scatter. It won’t be long before my men find her and gut her like the pig that she is,” Saer continues as he sidesteps his brother, who yells in anger.
He cries as he swings blindly at Saer. Even after everything his mother has done to him he still weeps and morns for her. Livia thought it was a waste of his energy. That woman did not deserve her son's tears. Of all the people who will die or have already died tonight, the Empress Dowager’s death was the only one she felt true satisfaction in.
Livia finally manages to heal his back. Her magic is slowly starting to respond to her command but it wouldn’t be enough to take on Saer. No, that would take time she did not have. She rakes her brain of destructive spells, something, anything that could distract Sear enough for them to escape into the forest.
She wasn’t above playing dirty.
As the two brothers grapple with each other, she edges closer to them, a dark spell rolling off her tongue as her hands dance in the air.
Saer raises his arm, his face stony in his resolve (He pays her no attention at all). “Enough. I humored you long enough, brother. Your filthy reign over this land ends tonight!”
His older brother flinches away, closes his stupid little eyes instead of attempting to dodge the attack.
Livia throws out her hands.
A slashing hex whips through the air. A blink and an amputated arm still holding a sword lay on the grassy floor, oozing blood. It was a clean cut.
She doesn’t even pause to admire her work. As Saer is distracted, Livia snags his brother by the arm and drags him away. He stumbles after her, looking just as stunned as Saer. His neck turning around to watch as Saer stares in slowly dawning rage at his arm laying on the ground.
Livia could have escaped by herself long ago. She would have been halfway lost in the forest by now if only she could shake the unpleasant feeling he draws up in her.
She doesn’t though. She could be a cold bitch on her best days but even she couldn’t turn away from saving someone when she knew she had the means.
This time she manages to latch open the hidden door when another devasting slash of wind hits them. Once again, he takes the brunt of the blow while she is only left with a few scrapes. This time they land even further away from the door. Livia doesn’t look back, she grasps at his hand again, already starting healing spells anew as she also tries to drag him back to the door.
Saer recovered much faster than expected. She thinks grimly. This time it catches him in the shoulder, crisscrossing over the newly healed wound. Her magic responds much faster but heavy footsteps belay how little time she has.
“You dared,” Saer growls lowly, holding his right shoulder. He had already picked up his sword from the ground, and hold it with perfect ease in his left hand.
The window of escape was rapidly closing for the both of them. In the distance, she could see soldiers pouring from the entrance of the hidden passageway.
It was now or never.
She throws out a shield that envelops them in a clear blue and it comes up just in time to avoid another slashing wind. This dampens her healing spell significantly, but Saer isn’t letting up. He doesn’t yell as he wails against her shield, but his eyes promise a slow torturous murder.
Livia almost wants to laugh, maniacally.
You were once my favorite character, she wants to tell Saer, I once thought that out of all of them, you had a right to your anger, a valid reason for your cruelty and eventual madness.
Saer Andrew Kane was the only surviving brother of the current Emperor of the Eastern Empire. His mother had been a concubine that quickly fell out of favor and who had later died giving birth to him. His life had only been spared because he showed little to no desire to become the emperor and soon left the Eastern Empire altogether to study in a far-off land.
The Eastern Empire was a land of great corruption and greed, a human plague on the world of Ethetia.
Saer eventually returns and eradicates the problem in the original timeline, starting at the heart.
It had been a noble goal.
But Livia sees now that it was nothing but an excuse for senseless murder.
The other concubines were completely innocent. They had no say in their capture, they had no say in being sold off. Saer could have just let them go. Let them live. That’s all most of them wanted.
And what of the Empress? Sure, she was a conniving woman with large ambitions, but she was just a girl no older than Livia, dreaming of a life she thought was in her grasp. She didn’t deserve to die.
They weren’t just some people mention in passing in the background of a story they had very little relevance on. They were people Livia met, talked to, and even become friends with. She knew them. All of them. And Sear killed them in cold blood. He saw them as part of the problem, and therefore, they had to be removed.
And now he was coming after his own brother, the current emperor.
The 14th Emperor of the Eastern Empire was just a puppet of his mothers. He was just a baby when he became emperor and he never regained power over his own country. It was the empress dowager who had all the power, the one who controlled the shots and let the country sink further into deprivation.
The 14th Emperor wasn’t entirely guiltless, not by a long shot, but neither was Livia. If she could avoid her own fate, then maybe he could as well. Once they escape to the forest she will put a barrier on the palace wall, making it impossible for them to follow after them right away. It would buy them enough time to get lost in the forest. From there, they would head up the mountain, the exact opposite way in which their pursuers would think they would go.
Livia just needed to get them out.
A clammy hand falls on top of hers, bringing her attention to the emperor. He was pale, his lips were nearly blue, but he still tries to offer her a brave smile, weak as it is. He was losing too much blood. She would need to take the barrier down if she wanted to heal him again.
The other soldiers have joined Saer outside the barrier. Saer steps back to get medical attention to his arm while the soldiers take his spot in weakening the barrier.
“Bring me the void weapon,” Saer can be heard saying as a medic tends to him.
Livia needed to do something and fast.
Slowly, she starts to weaken the barrier around them to put more emphasis on healing the emperor.
It will still take too much time.
She glances back at the exit and then to the soldiers. Eventually, they will break it. Since her magic was split the barrier would last for a minute or two longer, but that was it. They would kill her before she could put up a new one, and the emperor would soon be dead after.
Livia forms a new plan.
“L-lea-ve m-me.” The Emperor gurgles and she shushes him, trying to think.
He outweighs her by more than a few pounds. There was no way she could carry him for long, but it would be enough, she would make it so.
Livia puts his arms around her shoulders and slowly maneuver him to her back. Blood quickly seeps into the thin fabric of her revealing gown, one of the thin straps falling down her arm. She doesn’t care. It was already beyond ruin, and if she accidentally flashed a few soldiers a little of her cleavage she could care less about that too. She was beyond being embarrassed about who saw her body. Her stay in the empire made sure of that.
She trudges ahead as the emperor mutters deliriously on her back. Livia pours a small amount of magic in her arms in legs to close the distance faster. Splitting her attention and magic in three ways. The closer she gets to the door, the more she can shrink the barrier so it is just around the two of them, making it denser and harder to break.
The exit is swung agar. Livia can even see the tall shrouding trees just beyond it.
Just a little closer.
It happens in an instant.
The only warning is the soft whistle in the air.
Then there is the wet sound of metal slicing into flesh and a small grunt. Her body jolts forward from the force of the blow, she feels pain in her own back and stumbles through the exit with the emperor slumping over her.
She isn’t given a second to think, her magic flickers, as if it was once again on the brink of being nullified. She crawls from underneath the emperor's body, dislodging the void metal that sunk into her back with a grimace.
Livia then sees it.
Sticking out of the back of the emperor, embedded deep in his flesh was a fucking harpoon. It had struck him dead center in the chest, went straight through his heart, and a few centimeters into her own back. The metal glinted in the same way the binders around her wrist had. If it had sunk any further, Livia would have been helpless once more.
She follows the cable to white-gloved hands holding the other end. Livia meets Saer's triumph grey eyes. Her barrier shatters around her, her healing spells fail. It was pointless anyway. She felt it. The moment his heart had seized up and eventually stopped altogether.
The emperor was dead.
She had failed him.
Saer raises his sword once again, as do his soldiers.
That’s as far as they get before Livia throws her head back, and screams.
A wave of raw magic travels out from her, over the corpse of the fallen emperor, and straight to Saer in his men. They fly back from the force, crashing all the way back to the entrance of the garden. Saer regains his footing, inhumanly fast as usual, and flings two slashes at Livia.
They don’t hit their target. Her hand snaps up and the blue barrier is up once again. The slashes slam into it and are redirected. One cuts the cable connecting the Emperor to the harpoon while the other is flung at Saer who barely manages to dodge it.
When Saer looks up again, Livia and the corpse of the emperor are gone.