It was strange, but all Charlotte wanted to do was warn Michelle. Charlotte had helped Xander formulate the plan. She knew what was supposed to happen, and she had been as eager as he to watch Charlotte fall, to finally have her at a disadvantage, to be able to disarm and then disable her and then disembowel her.
Charlotte could see it happening, her eyes following the paths that the blades would take as they crossed and the footwork of the fighters. She could see it playing out just as she and Xander had planned. Xander fought as if he were being beaten back while casually, subtly retreating, drawing Michelle forward where he wanted her to go. Michelle was following him, thrusting to chase him backward.
Michelle fought with the confidence that ought to have been her due. What could the bronze blade that Xander wielded do but follow in the wake of the Charlotte’s steel, as fire followed lightning and could not come before it? Perhaps it was that: her strength, her confidence, her surety that had somehow softened Charlotte’s heart towards the doomed warrior. Perhaps it was that she was doomed and that that feeling Charlotte knew—all Tilians knew in the speed and sharpness of the Aloalindans’ steel.
Michelle’s doom was as palpable to Charlotte now as Ava’s had been when Charlotte had heard of her fight with Timor, as when news came that Ryder had fought Inga, as when Charlotte had heard that her own little Magdalena’s had tested her bronze blade against Michelle’s steel.
The thought of Magdalena and how the blade had plunged into her heart with all the speed of lightning ripping through the air, still echoed like steel and bronze through Charlotte’s body, a gaping wound that opened again with the faintest tug of memory, and left Charlotte ill, her body aching.
Now she looked on Michelle as she had looked on Magdalena so often. Their blades may be of opposing colors, but they braided the dark hair the same shade, that contrasted as sharply against pale skin and chiseled features. They shared the same fierceness.
Charlotte had not been there when Magdalena had fought—she had only found her afterward—but Magdalena had always worn her ferocity on her face as she practiced, had swung her sword as if each thrust brought down an Aloalindan.
Michelle wore her ferocity now. Looking at Michelle now Charlotte saw her Magdalena.
Michelle was someone’s Magdalena.
Michelle was someone’s Magdalena, and suddenly Charlotte could not watch her be cut down by Xander, by a doom that Charlotte had helped to create.
The cry tore from her, not even an articulate cry, but enough to draw Michelle’s attention to Charlotte, for Charlotte to see the army ranged against her and the bronze net that the Tilians had fashioned for her, her end of which Charlotte dropped.
It was enough to make Michelle’s ferocity waver to doubt.
It was enough for Xander to strike her a blow he could not otherwise have landed, a sharp stab that drove into the chink of her armor below the shoulder blade, to draw blood from beneath her sleeve.
But it was enough that as Michelle cried out, and her hand flew to staunch the wound to her arm, she turned, and she fled the trap, and though Xander pursued, Charlotte knew that he would not catch her.
I’m not sure where the line of creative property falls when it comes to name generators, but lest I tread on any toes, thanks to NameGenerator.biz for providing the names of the two races—or of the kingdoms from which the races hailed.