Fantasy Fiction posted June 8, 2024

This work has reached the exceptional level
The story of how Demi got his blue flames


by Erika Whittle

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

The sounds of battle envelop me. The clashing of metal against metal. The battle cries. The cries of pain before death. The stench of sweat and rotting corpses permeates the air. This is hell, and I, in the middle of it.

My name is Demetri Von Arstine and this is my story.

Today I turned sixteen. My father’s wife gave me a surprise present. Sounds exciting right? For her it is. Under the pretense of shouldering my royal duties she has convinced the king to send me to the battlefield. Of course to incite the morale of the soldiers I should be at the frontlines. The king, the queen and my hateful half-brother gave me the news with disgusting smiles plastered on their faces. I’m convinced nothing good happens when people smile.

I am the unfortunate child between my royal father and a maid. A mistake made in a moment of passion. The queen refers to me as the stain of the royal family. My mother was killed shortly after giving birth to me. She was poisoned by a lady in waiting whose family was swimming in debt. Nobody says it but everyone knows it was the queen’s doing. The queen comes from a powerful and well established family lineage so, short of killing me herself, the king will undoubtably cover for her. Plus it’s his fault I’m here in the first place. So for as long as I’ve been alive there has never been anything more dangerous or dreadful as family.

The perfect excuse to get rid of me took the form of the Continental War. An unresolved trading dispute led to the current situation. Though this royal decree was an obvious conspiracy to kill me, they had to at least make it seem like I’m a cherished prince. There’s always someone who wants to pull down whoever is on top, so this was nothing but a political charade. They gave me the best armor, the best sword and the best horse that money could buy. Then they sent me out to die with fake tears in their eyes.



Members of the imperial guard “escorted” me to the frontlines. Really they were just afraid I’d run away and live to threaten my brother’s throne. Duke Silvester came out to greet me. He was known as the imperial family’s sword but he was a just man who never discriminated. He taught me the sword when I was ten, not officially, but whenever he came to the palace. On my tenth birthday he stopped an assassination attempt on me. After that he said I needed to learn the sword to live and that he would teach me how to survive. He taught me technique, strategy and even a little politics. I’ve always been grateful for that. His teachings have saved my life countless times. There was pity in his eyes as he shook my hand.

“Welcome, prince. Why don’t I brief you before I introduce the men.” I followed the Duke into a large tent that I assume is used for strategy meetings. There was a map and chess pieces arranged to represent the two armies. The Duke gestured to the seat at the head of the table but I shook my head and chose the seat beside. He sighed and sat on the chair he had pulled out for me. “There’s only the two of us here.”

“Yes but my family has eyes and ears everywhere. I don’t need them to have an excuse to poison my food. It would be best to remain in the background so they forget about me.”

haaaaah. “Yes, well, I see what you mean.”

There was a brief moment of silence before the Duke continued. “I know why you were sent here and what the king expects of me...but it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. What honor is there in sending a sixteen year old out to die? Neither of you are eighteen so the fight for the throne hasn’t even begun in earnest. I’ll make an excuse to move you to a safer position instead of the frontlines.”

“No, don’t do that. There’s no use sticking your neck out for someone who will be killed one way or another.”

“Your highness.”

“You’re the only one who treats me like a prince, Duke. You taught me the sword. I’ll either die doing my duty or survive and return with merit. That’s the only way I have a chance to keep my life.”

“...I get it. I can’t change your mind so I’ll join you at the front.”


“Enough. I can’t change your decision nor can you change mine. It is my job to serve the royal family and regardless of how others feel, you are a royal. As long as you’re on my battlefield I’ll stay beside you until the end.”


True to his word, the duke built his strategies with himself at the front and me by his side. He introduced me to his trusted colleagues. I saw in real time strategies that I had only learned about, take form. I had grown a lot in this time. Physically I was bigger and stronger and my sword skills grew along with me. Silvester continued to train me, even lecturing me in the midst of battle. Now my sword was a dance of death forged in war. The enemy called me ‘the Dancing Reaper’. The duke had long had his own nickname ,‘Master of Sword’. Yet our efforts were proving futile.

Unfortunately, no matter how great the man, there’s something to say about numbers. The kingdom of Arrs is significantly smaller than the kingdom of Pera. Our armies reflect our countries’ size. When I first came here there were fifty platoons. Now there are a mere twenty. We dominated in skill and strategy but the terrain worked against us. The whole province is a prairie. The open plain made us vulnerable to Pera’s overwhelming numbers. The longer we fought, the greater the disadvantage. After a year and a half of war, we were finally losing. All because we lack cover. The duke and I gathered the captains of each platoon for a strategy meeting. This would be our final stance.

“Duke the preparations are finally complete” the excited knight reported. The Duke had implemented both long-term and short-term strategies and the one that took the longest was finally ready. Inspired by royal security, Duke Silvester had drawn inspiration from the many secret escape tunnels in the imperial palace. When it became evident that the war wouldn’t quickly resolve, he instructed two platoons to work on a secret mission. They were to dig two tunnels, one on the east and one on the west, that reached from our camp to either edge of the enemy encampment. Since we couldn’t hide above ground, underground was the only option.

“That’s great news!” Silvester exclaimed with renewed vigor. “Men, this is our final battle, our last chance to defeat the Pera army and return home. It has been an honor to serve alongside you.” The duke bowed his head to his men. In response, every man took a knee in respect for their leader. I too, showed my respect. “Please give us your orders Duke.” I said as I made eye contact with Silvester.


After the strategy meeting, everyone cleared the tent to prepare for their respective roles. Only the two of us remained.

“Silvester,” I called. The two of us had grown extremely close and we were on a first name basis in private. He even gave me a knickname, Demi.  “No matter the outcome, I appreciate all you have taught me up ’till now. You are the only one who has ever cared about me. You're more like my father than the man I share blood with.”

“It's not your fault kid. Irresponsible adults pushed their problems on a child. You deserve to be loved. If I had a son, I would want him to be like you. Demi, you are my best student. Out of all the men I’ve trained, it’s you that has come the farthest. Now the only thing you need to do is survive until the end.”

“You as well. Don't leave me now old man! We will return together.”

“Of course! What would you do without me? Ah, why don’t you come to the North with me when this is all over. Leave that worthless palace behind.”

“Yeah, let’s do that.” I grinned. Silvester tussled my hair and left to get ready.

Both of us knew there was a chance that such a happy future would never come. Everything was riding on this last strategy. But what does wallowing in dispair accomplish? It's better to dream of success than to be consummed by tradegy that has yet to come.

Like planned, we moved under the cover of darkness. Two platoons each were sent into the tunnels. There task was to kill as many of the outside troops as possible while they were sleeping. These platoons had been specially trained for covert opps, resembling assassins more than soldiers. A little while later the bulk of the army moved towards the center of the Pera forces, with Silvester and I taking the lead. Because of the sheer difference in manpower, the Pera army had let their guard down and they didn’t sense our presence until it was too late. Before they could grab their bearings, we began our slaughter. The two of us started our sword dance and created a pathway for the knights behind us. No reinforcements came from the east or west. The plan was a success.

As we carved our way into the heart of our enemy I received wounds here and there but nothing that significantly slowed my movement. I looked over and saw that Silvester was falling slightly behind me. “Keep up old man!”

“This brat!!” Silvester growled. I laughed when he started picking up the pace. Everything was going well until a particularly skilled soldier headed our way. “I’ve got this boy, continue clearing the path.”

“Are you sure? Looks like you got slashed on the arm earlier.” I said as I looked behind me. He was engaging the soldier like his wound was mere decoration.

"Never you mind boy! That young body of yours is faster than mine, better for you to go on ahead!"

"I didn't know you take make excuses Duke!" I teased. I looked over and my eyes widened. “Behind you!” I screamed. Silvester had been flanked. A swordsman of even greater skill had come swiftly from behind. I recognize him because of the trail of bodies he leaves every time there's a battle. He would always slip away whenever I tried to approach. In horror I watched the sword plunge through Silvester’s chest.

“Ahhhhhh!” Something within me snapped. With crazed eyes I lunged forward, chopping through the first man. I fought the second soldier like a rabbid dog, decapitating the man who had killed my everything. I knelt on the ground and cradled Silvester’s body. My teacher, my friend, my father, was gone. I am alone. Tears streamed down my face as I screamed in rage. Blue flames broke out around me. As if reflecting my soul, they weaved through the people, consuming only the enemy. Soon only a mere handful of enemy forces remained. The rest turned to ash. As my rage died and sadness took over, the flames extinguished. The sound of my cries was lost in the cheers of victory.


Much to my family’s chagrin, I returned to Arrs a war hero. A parade welcomed me and the surviving army. But I couldn’t smile, my face as cold as ice. A banquet was held in celebration of our victory. Because the royal family constantly kept him in check, Silvester died without a wife or heir to mourn him. My father, a hateful opportunist, transferred Silvester’s title and fiefdom to me. I guess I’ll be going north after all. For the first time in my life, my father congratulated me.

A grand funeral was held amidst the celebrations. I gave up half of the spoils I was due and laid Silvester to rest in the royal cemetery. I transcribed his tombstone myself. It read:

Sylvester Von Arstine

To the one who remained until the end,

May you rest in peace


Shortly after the funeral I headed North to Silvester’s, no, my fiefdom. People who always avoided me now shamelessly clung to me. Apparently my blue flames are a manifestation of something called Aura but it had been generations since anyone had awakened as an Aura user. This made me both dangerous and valuable. Even the king tried to hang on to my coat tails. But I wasn’t having it. I found the whole thing disgusting. I told everyone it would take a while to travel north so I needed to leave right away. 

Ahh, Silvester, what did I survive for? There is no light in my life. You are not here to scold my errant thoughts. Perhaps the north is where I belong, for everything here is as cold as I am.

The End

Sci Fi or Fantasy Writing Contest contest entry

Post Number 50
A Milestone Post

This is a prequel to The Tainted. The story is about Demi's participation in the Continental War and how he awoke his Blue Flames.
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Artwork by Jewell McChesney at

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