Xorsis : Invasion\Lost
“Is it going to happen today?”
“Why wait for a whole year?"
Mersoy stayed quiet.
“Well, not that it matters anymore,” the forest spirit said casually. “You fiends-”
“It was necessary,” Mersoy said, interrupting her, “I needed to know if you were right. Learning Tokreian from the shades wasn’t easy. Not to mention, those instructions were in ancient Tokreian, a variety from the current one. But yes. I believe you. You were telling the truth, even though I wish it wasn’t so.”
She sighed, and then closed her eyes. Turning away from the giant tree, she started to walk away. “Well, I don’t have a choice anymore. I’ll do it.”
Mersoy turned her head to the forest spirit once again, eyeing her with disgust, “That doesn’t mean I forgive you. I can’t, and I won’t.”
“I’m afraid your sentiments won’t take you further, dear,” the forest spirit chuckled.
“You killed the Nevidilandians in rage and somehow they came to your aid. You created weapons unintentionally. But you weren’t supposed to do that, you know.”
She paused. The images of those two children were emerging in her mind. They weren’t supposed to lose them.
“So many people… lost so many people important to them,” she said quietly, looking down at the blackened grass.
She looked at the giant tree again, noting the quietness of the forest spirit.
“Ah yes, it’s probably pointless telling you that,” Mersoy said, “It’s not like you know the meaning of losing someone close to you. Yes, you know nothing of that pain.”
It’s the pain that never goes away. It burns, it’s always there in the back of your mind, reminding you of how useless you have been, how much of a failure you have been. Even now, I can’t escape those thoughts.
The forest spirit broke the silence and said, “But that’s why you are here now. End this all. End the ones who started all this in the first place.”
“I still wish there was another way,” Mersoy whispered. “I don’t want this. There’ll be more deaths. But…”
She answered herself. But it’s pointless. It isn’t like I didn’t think of alternatives, it isn’t like I didn’t try them. I did - for a whole year, I’ve been trying to avoid this. But there’s no way. They are blind in their trust.
There was no more bloodless way to solve this. Mersoy sighed. I have to do this.
As if to validate her decision, the forest spirit replied, “This is the only way. Your ideals aren’t going to work everywhere. You were alone back then, when you ambushed Nevidilandi. But now, you aren’t anymore. You are a leader. And you have to give up your ideals if they aren’t even close to what the reality is.”
I won’t. I can’t.
Mersoy made up her mind.
She walked away from the giant tree, talking loud enough so that her voice resounded through the quiet forest.
“What’s a person without their ideals? Nothing. Because I’m a leader, I’ll hold on to my ideals. I might be a devil but I want to be someone with a goal. Unlike you, who killed indiscriminately.”
She stopped in her tracks, bringing out her necklace. She looked at the blue amulet. Closing her eyes, she grasped it, whispering out the last words.
“For no matter what - I can’t let the events of Estoyca repeat again.”
“All soldiers, assemble!”
Everytime those words were uttered, Nia felt a shiver down her spine. Because it was never good news. It had been two days since Aez introduced the new strategy to them, and they had practiced around with it. This strategy involved the two elite soldiers, Nia and Jordan, to take place at two edges of the formation. Aez came up with this because lately, the undead had apparently ‘learnt’ to sneak, and they were trying to ambush them whenever they weren’t looking. There had been plenty of deaths these days, and the situation wasn’t looking good. The captain, a veteran soldier, had accepted this strategy because there weren't any other options left.
“Well, another mission.” Jordan said, standing in the assembly next to her. “Don’t die, Nia.”
“Same to you,” Nia mumbled out.
And the next moment, they both went to opposite sides of the formation - Nia to the left, Jordan to the right. Ahead, the undead were slowly approaching.
The soldiers started marching ahead. It would be their first major battle with this tactic. Nia concentrated, looking at the surroundings for any sneaking undead. She, along with six more soldiers would be focused on this. Jordan would do the same with six more soldiers on the other side. The other soldiers of the squad would be in the middle, aiming at the ones that’d charge right at them.
So far, Nia didn’t find any of the undeads in the surroundings.
Whenever these invasions happened, the squads would go to the forest and eliminate any lurking swarms. They tried to not go into the deeper parts though, for hiding would be easier for the undead in the forest. Their skins were almost the colour of barks of very old trees, so it’d be difficult for the soldiers to spot them.
As she looked around, something abnormal caught her eye. Alarmed, Nia concentrated on it. Then she noticed it.
There, at a distance, behind a tree, one of them was hiding. Nia focused, and aimed at it. It would be a bit difficult to shoot at it from this distance. Nia held her breath, making sure to not make any sounds; lately, the undeads were growing very sensitive to sound - much more than they used to be.
Though, to be honest, they still weren’t sure whether the undead could hear or see them, because retrieving undead for tests was difficult, as the further they went from the forest, the bodies of the undead would become very brittle and at some distance, they’d decompose to dust and soil.
Nia shot, and as she thought, the aiming was a bit off. Everyone else had started shooting at every chance, as they were fast and so they had to be killed off very fast. Nia too, kept shooting, though she wasn’t sure if any of her bullets were hitting the area between the two eyes - which was the only found vulnerable spot so far. A year back, when the invasion first started, just hitting the head would be enough. But with the passing of time, that too, had changed.
And that’s why Nia found Aez’s opinion about any group targeting Dottonex or Cridelford was ridiculous. The change of the undead was nothing but evolution, in her opinion. And that could only be a natural phenomena.
Nia shot as many bullets as she could; when she thought things were clearer, she looked backwards to look at the situation behind her.
Her eyes widened. The scene horrified her.
Many of the soldiers were lying on the ground, injured… and some apparently dead. When did they come? How come I wasn't able to hear the sounds? On the right side, Jordan wasn’t able to hold them off very well. An undead was inches away from him, and apparently he had run out of bullets.
“Jordan!” Nia aimed at the undead, but her hand was shaking a bit. If she missed - Jordan would be…
You can’t waste time thinking such things now!
The voice interrupted, and gasping, Nia pressed the trigger.
The bullet flew fast, and in a second, it hit the undead in the eye. It was a miss, but it was enough. Jordan leapt back to another position, reloaded his rifle and shot three bullets at it. It dropped dead.
He’s using too many bullets - he’s nervous!
Nia clenched her teeth and looked towards the left again. Too many of the undeads had rounded up there, baring their teeths at her, their red eyes glowing maliciously.
She shot as many as she could, then backed away seeing one walk fast towards her. Aiming at its weak spot, she shot again, and the bullet hit it. It dropped on the grass, unmoving.
Nia looked backwards again.
The formation was failing. Too many soldiers were injured, and many were dead. So much blood, so many of them, dying, and there was nothing she could do. Nia hated this. She looked around, but she couldn’t spot the captain anywhere. Somehow, this swarm was killing soldiers off way too quickly, though it didn’t seem like it was a bigger swarm than the ones they had faced. They’d need reinforcements. Someone had to be sent back to Dottonex asking for more troops. Maybe they could send Aez. Aez would be safe then…
At a far distance ahead, Nia spotted Aez. She looked around, and seeing that the formation was almost broken, and realising that the captain wasn’t around, she arrived at a conclusion - there was no point in fighting in the formation way anymore. There was no more time to think.
Nia looked at Jordan, who had grasped the situation very well too. He nodded at her.
He might fight Aez for his inaction, but that doesn’t mean he hates him.
Nodding back at him, she ran forwards, ignoring all the undeads around. Aez was shooting as many as he could, but he couldn’t hold them off any longer with the thinning group of soldiers around him. Jordan too, followed Nia and went to the front.
“Aez!” Nia yelled.
Aez looked at her, his face white in shock and fear.
“It’s a horrible day, isn’t it?” Jordan commented as he arrived and stood beside Nia. “I don’t think we have lost as many soldiers as today.”
“Yes,” Nia said, now aiming and shooting at the undead that were starting to surround them.
“Captain is dead,” Aez said in a low voice. Nia noticed his body around a nearby bush. It was a bloody mess. She felt sick.
“Listen,” Jordan spoke in a commanding voice, “Aez. Go to Dottonex for reinforcements. We’ll hold them off till then.”
“Are you kidding me?” Aez hollered, “There’s no way you two can hold them off for an hour! And I’m not leaving you two with these few soldiers! You all will die!”
“Then what other plans do you have? You can’t make any tactics out of these few-”
And suddenly, his words stopped. Nia turned to look at him.
The time seemed to stop.
Her eyes were widened in shock.
His voice had stopped as he gasped for air. His chest was red with blood; he clutched his chest as he reached out for anything to hold on to, to stop falling down. Aez freezed, looking at him in shock.
Nia screamed, reaching out her hand. His hands didn’t meet hers. He collapsed on the ground, reddening the green grass with his blood.
But… but… there wasn’t any undead nearby who could… The undead doesn’t have any ranged attacks...
Nia stooped down to Jordan’s still body. His eyes were wide in shock. He was still holding his rifle with his left hand.
“Jordan. Speak something.” Nia said, shaking him. “Jordan. Get up. We are the two elite soldiers. We can’t… we have to keep fighting…”
There was no answer.
Tears streamed down her cheeks.
She wanted to scream, she wanted to burst out crying. She wanted to call his name again and again - if only that’d bring him back to life.
“Nia…” Aez spoke slowly.
“You said you won’t die,” Nia said softly. The vision was blurred by her tears, “You said it…”
Then, Aez’s shaky voice reached her ears. “Nia. I don’t think-”, he took a moment to breathe, “I don’t think there’s only the undead here today.”
Nia couldn’t believe her ears.
“What do you mean?” she whispered, looking up at Aez.
“Nia, do you notice? All the soldiers are gone. It’s only us now. And they - they aren’t trying to attack us at all.”
Nia slowly stood up.
The soldiers were dying even though there weren’t any undeads near them.
There was something uncomfortable about the whole situation.
Aez muttered, looking around, “What’s the best position to hide when there’s a fight going on here? To get the bird’s eye view about the whole situation?”
They both looked up at the top of the trees instantly.
Even if there’s someone hiding up there, it won’t be easy to spot them...
Nia held the rifle steadily.
They can be anywhere. Anywhere...
And the next moment, Nia was pushed back, and something - a bullet - hit Aez’s hand, blood gushing out of it. Nia gasped. Aez had dropped his rifle and was holding on his left hand now, the pain contorting his face. Nia looked forward and her heart sank.
Standing in front of them, facing them with a gun, was a tall girl, clothed in brown clothes with intricate green weaves that imitated leaves. There was a hood in her face, but it had fallen off, revealing a familiar face inside.