Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Date: 5/19/991; Time: 3rd hour
Miri woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of yelling a short distance away. She leaned over and woke Esca up, letting her know something was amiss. The girls could now see a village burning in the direction of the screams. They could hear bows being shot and the clanging of axes and spears.
"It's not safe. Let's get out of here," said Miri.
The girls were weak from their travels but mustered up enough strength to get up and start walking. They stumbled but kept moving away from the burning village. It was not their problem, and it was too dangerous of a venture to get near it. Unfortunately for them, they were spotted by some Emerald warriors before they could get very far.
A neighboring village saw the flames and decided to investigate. Miri and Esca had just gotten caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The warriors surrounded the girls and prevented them from escaping. Miri shook her trident at them, but her weak physical condition had already been noted. They were unimpressed and continued to close in on the girls.
Miri and Esca ran in the only direction they could, and that was towards the village. They ran as fast as they could and never looked back. As they entered the premises of the mayhem, they noticed many red-cloaked people slaying the villagers and burning down huts. Miri and Esca had suffered plenty at the hands of the Emerald tribes, but even they still had some compassion in their hearts.
The girls took advantage of the chaos and hid inside a nearby hut that had already been pillaged and burned. They waited in silence, limiting their breathing, to avoid detection. Meanwhile, the red-cloaks continued to destroy as they laughed with glee.
A large Emerald warrior ran out to meet them and yelled something in their language. He held out his axe with both arms and glared at the intruders.
"You must be the chieftain," said a male red-cloak while smiling.
"Are you even going to be a challenge?" mocked the man.
The chieftain swung his axe at the man but missed. He took a few more swings, but none connected. The red-cloak was too agile for the slow chieftain.
"I grow bored of this," remarked the red-cloaked man. He jumped back a few steps and conjured up several pieces of gravel, and flung them at high speeds, leaving several wounds on the chieftain's body.
The chieftain grunted but continued to run towards the much smaller red-cloaked man. The leader of the Emerald tribes swung his axe one last time and was greeted by a large rock crashing down on his head and crushing his skull. The red-cloaked men showed no mercy.
The chieftain plummeted to the ground, bleeding, while his killer laughed. At this point, the woman next to him remarked in an irritated voice, "Mana, you're forgetting why we came here. Don't forget about the stone."
"What's wrong with having some fun, Nana?" retorted Mana. The cruel man, Mana, complied and the two searched the village intently. The fire had already been put out by the rain, allowing them the opportunity to search without restriction. The two girls in hiding were debating whether or not to leave while there was still time.
"It's probably in the chieftain's house," Nana commented. The two went into the largest hut, and after a short search, emerged with a green stone in Mana's hand.
"Finally! Commander Dios will be pleased with our work. We are the first to find a Stone of Ethos! The Blades of Malice can now stand toe-to-toe with the monarchs! We have ushered in a new era!" exclaimed Mana while he laughed maniacally.
Miri and Esca continued to wait in anticipation. They were puzzled by the sudden turn of events. The shining green stone piqued their curiosity.
Nana motioned one of the other red-cloaks, and told him in a stern voice, "Move out; we are done here." The red-cloaked men started to exit the premises of the villages, so Miri and Esca only needed to hold on a bit longer.
"Are you just going to keep standing there?" asked Nana.
"Let me enjoy this moment of glory a bit longer. Besides, it seems that we have unwanted guests," replied Mana as he glanced over to Miri and Esca's hiding location.
"We certainly can't let them leave now, can we?" smirked Mana. He levitated a boulder that he had materialized and threw it at the house the girls were in.
They had little time to think and dashed outside to avoid being crushed. Unfortunately, their cover had been blown, and they were now standing before the two ruthless red-cloaks.
The two dressed in red removed their hoods and revealed their faces. The woman was slender, had long silver hair, and dark-blue eyes. She was smiling sadistically at the other girls. The man was of average build, had short silver hair, and bright green eyes, just as the emerald in his hand. Both were young; they were no older than Miri.
"You must have heard everything!" said Mana angrily.
"Let us go. We don't want any trouble," said Miri, as she stood in front of Esca, and held her trident firmly with both hands.
"We don't want any trouble either. Letting you go would be troublesome for us," replied Nana.
The man looked over at the girls, scanned them from head to toe and remarked, "They seem to be members of the Advent guild. Iron class. Shouldn't be too hard to handle."
"What a pity. Even though you're unaffiliated with our enemies and just passing through, we can't let you leave. No hard feelings but we wouldn't be able to sleep at night if you were still roaming around," said Nana emotionlessly.
Mana looked over at the girls once more, and stared intently at Miri, "This one is a Kali. We'd better be careful," he said in a serious tone.
"I see. Maybe we'll finally have ourselves a challenge," responded Nana.
Miri clenched her teeth and stood her ground. Esca stood behind her and held one arm out, ready to cast a spell.
Nana took the initiative and ran at Miri with her steel lance. They engaged in a sparring contest with their weapons. Meanwhile, Mana threw rocks Esca while she tried to dodge, and fire off her own water spells at well. The girls were on the defensive and were barely keeping up. Suddenly, Mana looked over at Nana and nodded his head, as if beckoning her. Nana deflected one last blow from Miri, grinned sadistically, and ran towards Esca, without any hesitation.
Miri had only now realized their plan was to split them up. They had been played for fools. She ran after Nana as fast as she could but was too late. Esca was busy dodging Mana's attacks and failed to notice the lance that was just about to go through her chest. Miri could only look on in horror at Esca, as she fell to the ground, covered in blood.
Nana turned around, grinning and cleaning her lance with the grass. The two Blades of Malice members were enjoying the sight of Miri's face. She had fallen to the ground and began to weep bitterly as she tried to process what had just occurred.
Mana looked on with glee and said, "Rule #1: Kill the healer first. Everyone knows that."
Nana commented afterwards, "Don't worry. You'll be joining her soon. There's no need to waste tears."
Miri looked up with rage in her eyes. Her blood was boiling and the streaks below her eyes glowed green. The rain was making her stronger. She eyed Nana and lunged towards her with the trident in hand. Nana mockingly laughed and prepared her weapon as a response to the threat. Mana started throwing earthen javelins at Miri.
Miri's instincts fueled by rage were not to be taken lightly. She dodged all attacks and left three holes in Nana's left leg before the other could properly dodge. Nana groaned and stumbled away.
"You'll pay for that!" yelled Mana as he prepared a heavier than usual boulder to toss. Miri glared at him, closed the distance between them and knocked him in the head with the backside of the trident. The spell took too long to cast and left him vulnerable; this was a fatal mistake. Miri, without missing a beat, stabbed him in the back as he was falling to the ground. She made sure that he was dead by taking another stab at his head. She was not concerned with the decency and elegance of her death blows; at least not at this very moment. Miri was livid.
It was now Nana's turn to weep. "NOOOO!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. She got up despite her leg wounds and fiercely held her lance in Miri's direction. The two stared at each other for a brief moment and then lunged at each other. They exchanged blows for a minute, blocking or dodging all of them.
They both jumped backwards and started breathing heavily. The women were preparing for the next round and it was then that Mana lifted his arm, still with the green stone in his hand. "Take it, Nana. You can't die here. The Emerald must not be lost. I have served my purpose," he said in a raspy voice.
Nana looked at him with disbelief as she burst into tears. She ran towards him in hopes of grabbing the Emerald, but Miri was not going to let her. Nana dodged a strike aimed at her neck and lept forward, grabbing the stone from Mana just in time. He smiled at her one last time and his head dropped to the ground. Mana was gone for good this time.
Nana put the stone in her pocket and took a defensive stance while facing Miri. The two stared at each other.
Nana said in a raspy voice, "How about a truce?"
Miri screamed in fury as she stomped on the ground with her foot. "A truce?! Why now?! Where was your "truce" several minutes ago?" she exclaimed. "Esca died because of you!" she said bitterly. "And now you will die too!" she said with wrath in her voice.
"I do all for the will of the Malice. I have no regrets," said Nana dutifully. "However, I don't think I'm going to get out of this situation," she said regretfully.
By now the other Blades of Malice members had been alerted by the noise of the battle and were running back to the burned down village. Nana started to smile and said, "You better run now. I'll let you go. At least for now."
"No!" wailed Miri as she clutched her weapon.
If at that moment Esca had not beckoned Miri, she would have certainly met her demise at the hands of the red-cloaked men.
"Miri," whispered Esca, with her hand outstretched.
Miri immediately ran towards Esca and held her head in her lap. She looked at Esca with bewilderment.
"Be a good girl and get her out of here. Maybe you can still save her," said Nana mockingly. Nana knew her own power better than anyone; A frail girl like Esca was not going to live and she knew it.
Miri glanced back at Nana with cold eyes and quickly looked back at Esca. The girl was bleeding profusely. Miri picked her up and ran away from the village as fast as she could in her present condition. After running a short distance, she set Esca down by a large tree and started rummaging for healing salves.
"Don't bother," said Esca, as she looked away from Miri.
"NO! I'm going to save you!" cried Miri.
Esca smiled and replied, "I'm too weak to even heal my own wounds right now," she continued, "Only promise me one thing. That you will rise to the top and do it for both of us. Become a legend of Ethos."
Esca's head slumped after her last word and her body laid motionless, against the trunk of the tree. Miri looked down and cried for several minutes. She could not take back anything that she did. Her friend now lay dead right in front of her eyes. Miri did not move for quite some time, but then got up and buried Esca. Digging the grave took her mind off the pain and sorrow she felt.
There lay Esca, a cheerful girl of 16, who had not even made it past Iron class. She was supposed to still have many more days ahead of her. Miri brooded over this for several hours.
Miri had sustained severe wounds, but the mana in the water was boosting her recovery. She was fine physically, but nothing could be done about her emotional and mental state. Miri sat there for hours until the following day started. She gathered all of her belongings and started her trek back to Twilight Sanctum.
She didn't care if she got lost and died in the jungle. Miri only wanted to keep moving forward and to not think about anything right now. Thinking only led to more hatred and sadness. She stumbled along in this manner for two weeks, before finally passing out in front of the Talis River.