Complete the short story/flash fiction, that has the following opening:
She felt him approach before she heard him, his presence warming her, fighting th chill that was spreading across the land. When he wrapped his arms around her waist she leaned back into him and, just for a moment, let herself believe that they were alone. The world faded away until all she could hear and feel was the beat of his heart, the steady rhythm letting her relax amidst the chaos that lay before her. He nuzzled her neck, causing a small moan to escape her lips and a chuckle to escape his. She turned in his arms and looked into his eyes.
“We shouldn’t do this,” she said, holding on to the lapels of his coat.
He brought his arms up higher as they continued to encircle her, protect her, keep her warm. “Why?”
“Because you almost make me forget what I have to do and that’s something that I can’t forget.” She sighed and pulled back but not before gathering his hand in hers as she turned back to the valley that lay beyond. “That,” she said, pointing into the valley, “is why I can’t forget.”
The valley, once green and fertile, was slowly being filled with a black mass. Demons of every shape and size were flooding into the valley, held in check by the Gates of Thalissar, the Gates that she was pledged to defend to her dying breath. A breath which would come all too soon if the Gates were breached. The inky darkness that the demons spread leeched the light from the sky and made their encroaching swarm almost painful to look at. But she did, knowing her duty and the consequences of her actions.
He sighed, pulled her close for one last hug and then turned back to the camp just below them. He walked slowly as if he could delay the inevitable, and she thanked him silently for the thought, but nothing could delay what needed to be done. She took one last look at the valley before she strode into camp, her brightly polished armour sparkling even in the presence of the demon horde. With a grim determination, she marched to the front of her cadre of fellow paladins and mounted her stallion.
She turned in the saddle to look in the eyes of the hundred men and women that followed her. “We’ve pledged our lives to defend the Gates. Like our ancestors before us and those before them, we thought the pledge to be something that never needed to be called upon. But today, as the demons beyond the gate have demonstrated, that pledge means more than just hollow words, it means that we are willing to sacrifice our lives so that others may live. We have trained for a fight we never thought we would have, a day we never thought would come. That day is here, that fight has come. It is now time to show that our pledge is something that we did not take lightly. It is time to show the spawn of hell just what it means to take on the Paladins of Thalissar.”
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