Not Today! (short story).
Will the Demon King take over the kingdom? Not today! Today we fight!
1000 Day MFA week three:
For week three of our write a short story every week challenge, a bunch of us ninja writers set ourselves the challenge to come up with something based on a song title. The BTS (Bangtan Boys) song, Not Today had only been in the worldwide charts for a fortnight and like the K Pop tragic that I am, I was obsessed. Unable to get the song out of my brain, it became my focus. This story is intended as fan fiction and an expression of K Pop love. I hope that you enjoy where my inspiration took me; I had a lot of fun with this one.
Point, aim, shoot.
Poor Pedro was killed instantly. The lead bullet lodged within the back of his skull, causing his tall frame to fall forward like a tree struck in a thunderstorm. His comrade, Felix, screamed.
The Demon King’s servant, hidden beneath his black robe rushed forward. He shifted his aim in preparation for his next kill.
“Felix, get down!”
In one swift movement, Tomas drew a pistol from his holster and took aim. At the same time he charged at Felix, pushing him out of harm’s way. As the two comrades fell to the floor, Tomas’ bullet struck the servant right between the eyes. The bullet, intended for Felix, lodged into the stone castle wall behind them.
As Tomas returned to his feet, Felix crawled over to Pedro. When he saw his vacant, green eyes staring back at him, Felix started to sob. His mission leader, Tomas, let him take a moment to grieve. He had watched those boys grow up together. Inseparable, they had been as close as brothers. Before long, Tomas had no choice but to place a steadying hand upon Felix’s back.
“We cannot stay here any longer”, he cautioned. He reminded Felix of why there were there and how close they were to their objective.
“If we are going to live in a new world, we need to build it for ourselves. We need to overthrow the Demon King and our time is running out”.
Felix nodded and swallowed his tears. He gave Pedro a kiss on his forehead and then met Tomas’ gaze. His grey eyes were as hard as steel.
“I’m ready”, he swore. “Today we fight”.
As they crept through the castle, Tomas went over the plan in his head. Their band of rebels had succeeded in shattering the four sceptres, located in the north, east, south and west of the castle. With the impenetrable magic shield destroyed, they were now free to approach the Demon King in his inner sanctum. Their mission wasn’t to confront the beast. Tomas would like nothing better than to vanquish the villain who had married and bewitched their Princess, and turned their kingdom upside down, but he was also a realist. The courage and well aimed bullets of two men would prove useless again the king’s dark magic and power to enslave others with his demonic eyes and honeyed voice. Even if they did stand a chance, the Demon King’s hooded servants roamed the castle like an infestation of cockroaches.
“Keep your eyes open”, Tomas hissed. While Felix had checked the hallway to see if the coast was clear, he had failed to see the servant leering at them from above. Tomas disposed of him with a single shot and prayed that the noise and powder would not attract unwanted attention.
Felix, feeling like a burden, apologised. Tomas alleviated his fears by placing a hand upon his shoulder.
“It’s been a long night”, he remarked. “God knows I wouldn’t have gotten this far without you. We need to hold it together for just a while longer, alright. The resistance will have gathered by now. For their sake we need to stay focused and strong”.
“I can do that”, Felix assured him, freshly inspired. Last night, at the rally, he had been so proud. Tomas and his brother David had been secretly recruiting for months now and their efforts had paid off handsomely. Brave warriors, magicians and strategists had shown up in droves. What had been truly impressive were the volunteers who had shown up at their own accord. Farmers, fisherman, mothers of the children brainwashed by the Demon King’s magic. So many people who had never held a sword or fired a gun were willing to place their lives on the line for their freedom. The army’s determination, coupled with the power of the rebellious magicians should give them a fair chance of freeing the dark servants from their dark spell and in overpowering the Demon King once and for all. Rebellion had been an impossibility while the barrier had stood. Now that it has been destroyed ,Felix and Tomas now had one final task to complete.
Five hallways, two flights of stairs and four silenced guards later, the pair had finally reached their target: the castle gateway. Felix leapt into the air with his pistols and showed why he was chosen for this mission. Three of the servants guarding the entrance fell before they even realised they were under attack. Tomas provided cover for his friend, shooting one servant in the shoulder and another in the knee. As Felix continued to fire, Tomas knocked each of the fallen servants unconscious with the hilt of his gun. Though it made no sense strategically, the band had sworn before going in to spare as many of the servants as they could in the hope that they could be turned back into their former selves one day. When Tomas reached the last servant and saw the head wound he cursed. His bullet has been the cause of this accidental clip. The blood gushing down his face belonged to a young man, no longer breathing.
“Your day is coming, demon” Tomas cursed. He then gestured to Felix to get into position.
Standing on either side of the portcullis, the two of them turned a crank each. The ancient wheels squeaked as the cogs spun around. Far too slowly, the iron, grilled gate was lifting. The door was a third of the way open when the footsteps thundered towards them.
“Lucie, Luisa, William, Pedro”, Felix whispered, acknowledging the fallen. “I wish you were here now”.
It had never been a part of the plan to get this far without them. With nobody left to watch their backs, Felix and Tomas would have to choose between defending themselves and opening the gate.
“They’re here with us”, Tomas promised, for what little comfort that was. Urging his comrade to keep going, they focused on the task before them.
The band of servants appeared at the top of the stairwell. There had to be at least a dozen of them, all with their pistols drawn. Felix gulped. Tomas assessed the situation, quickly trying to come up with a plan.
“When I give the signal, I want you to duck and run”, he instructed the boy. While there was no a complete entry way yet there was enough gap for his friend to crouch under the spiky grill and escape.
“I’ll find the strength to finish the job somehow. You’ve done enough, Felix. Now go”.
Felix’s eyes widened. Refusing to entertain the idea, he frowned.
“That’s a stupid plan”, he critiqued. Tomas’ heart lunged as he said it. It was so easy to forget sometimes that the kid was just seventeen years old.
“It is the only plan”, Tomas insisted. He paused to shoot at the first wave of gunfire. Felix did the same.
“You are going to leave immediately”, the soldier commanded. “Go while you still can. We keep talking about the new world but it is only right if one of us is left around to see it”.
Felix, refusing to acknowledge the plan, kept on shooting. To the kid’s credit he was cutting through their defence swiftly. Still, it was foolish to believe that he would remain bulletproof or that the wave of servants would stop coming. Already they could hear more footsteps coming from the floorboards above them. Soon more would be arriving from the second floor.
“Put your hands up”, one of them called. Felix ignored the command. He would never surrender.
“I’ll shoot and cover you as you work on the gate. Then we will switch”, he informed Tomas. “Everybody’s best chance is if we can get it open before the re-enforcements get here. Nothing matter except for today”.
Tomas’ heart shattered when he heard the young marksman’s brave vow.
“Together we will die”.
Fate decided to be unkind to Felix then. One of the servant’s bullets tore into his shoulder, spraying his blood upon the floor. Felix screamed but did not pause. He shot the servant down and then gave a few more rotations to the crank. Seeing that his will was set, Tomas did not push him anymore. Unfair as it was, it was better that he stayed.
“Together then”, he agreed. “And you’re wrong, Felix. Together we’ll survive. Today is our legacy and we will…ahhh”.
Tomas yelped. He felt the burn of the bullet as it pierced through his stomach.
“We will make it count”, Felix finished. Amazingly he was wearing a carefree grin, at peace with what was to come.
“Hang in there a little longer, Tomas”, he encouraged his comrade. “This is the price we pay for immortality”.
It is a price I will pay a thousand times over if the reward is freedom.
Tomas gave his partner in arms a quick, carefree smile of his own and refocused. The gate was already half open. They just had to hang in there for a little longer and then his brother would see to the rest. If they could give David and the others a shot at vanquishing the Demon King then this would all be worthwhile.
Watching upon horseback, Commander David smiled as he witnessed the castle gates clicking into place. They were open at last.
“You’re a miracle worker, Tomas. Thank you”.
He whistled to assemble his troops.
“It is time to bring down the Demon King, once and for all”, he crowed. “Get ready to fly. If you cannot fly, run. If you cannot run, walk. If you cannot walk, crawl. A day may come when we lose but it is not today. Today we fight!”.
With a rallying cry, Commander David led the charge. Every soldier, housewife, farmer, fighter and magician added their voices as they stormed down the hill. On foot and on horseback they thundered across the drawbridge into the castle. As the first person to enter the gate, David took notice of the miracle in its full glory. At least two dozen dark servants lay unconscious upon the second floor stairwell . Slumped at either side of the gate were the warriors who had claimed this victory.
“Onward”, David commanded his troops, though he did not follow. Climbing down off of his chestnut horse he paid his respects to the fallen. He stayed with Felix just long enough to say thank you and to close his weary eyes. To remain by his side would have unraveled him completely. He could still remember what Felix had been like just after he had been born. He had been fearless even then, a trait which had served him until the very end.
When he realised that the second fallen warrior was Tomas, David was unable to hold back his tears any longer. His heart swelled with pride, as his younger brother was still wearing a satisfied grin.
“Lend me your courage, Tommy. If I could hold onto even half of it then I am certain I can see this battle through to the end”.
David brushed away the bloodstained hair that was obscuring Tomas’ face. Then he gasped as his younger brother’s eyes flickered open. Amazed by this miracle, the commander became swept up in foolish optimism.
“It’s okay, Tomas”, David reassured him. “We’re here now. Just hang in there. We are going to get you out”.
Tomas barely had the energy to shake his head. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that the only place he was headed was to find Felix and his band.
“David”, he croaked. “Promise me that we won’t lose. Promise me that we won’t let evil win”.
“Katherine, Katherine can you hear me?”
David became distracted by a frantic cry to his left. He noticed the disarmed cluster of dark servant sitting dazed upon the floor. Newly awakened by the magician they each removed their hoods. The blond girl, Katherine, looked up at her rescuer and grinned.
“That’s the last of them on this floor”, another soldier cried. “We’ve weakened the Demon King for sure. Come on, everybody. Together we will win back our kingdom”.
David turned back to his brother, wearing a hope filled smile. As long as they stayed united, then the fight against evil was already won.
“Not today, Tomas. I promise you”, the commander vowed.
Tomas returned David’s smile. With absolute faith that the Demon King would fall, Tomas relaxed and quietly slipped away.
If you have enjoyed this story, I highly recommend that you watch the BTS Not Today music video with English subtitles as I have drawn inspiration from the lyrics and some of the concepts used within the clip. Not Today is from the You Never Walk Alone album by BTS, copyright Big Hit Entertainment.
Free image taken from Pixabay.
This story is an original work by Danielle Nolan, 2017