Xorsis : Invasion\Lost
When they reached Cridelford, the sun had already sunk into the horizon. The gatekeepers outside Cridelford scrutinised them and their identity cards. At first, they were reluctant to let them in, glaring at their dusty clothes and messy hair, they assumed that they were some third-rate criminals trying to escape bounties. However, when they looked deeper in the cards, their expressions were complicated. And in the end, they let them, though the reluctance in their actions were clear as day on their haughty faces.
This night at Cridelford was quite different than the one they had before. Aez was tired. As if the undead invasion wasn’t already enough.
He didn’t know whom to trust anymore.
And the one he believed in, his brother, was in trouble, and he was sure of it.
He didn’t know who was shot at, though Mersoy implied that it could be Ms D, but still, would the Tokreians believe that his brother was not guilty? They couldn't be fooled so easily. They were science people, they were advanced, and they were very logical - there was no way they would just nod heads with everything.
It was stressful, but there was nothing they could do now.
The Cridelford court opened in the morning at ten, and until then they had to do nothing but wait. For now, they had rented a room in a hotel. The manager seemed wary of them though, as he kept shooting them a nasty glance from time to time.
The Cridelfordian food was a nice change from the terrible food in the army, but still, Aez couldn’t eat much. At night, he couldn’t sleep. None of them could. They sat on the floor, waiting as the time passed by. Nia dozed off a few times, but she was still mostly awake. And Mersoy too, though she said nothing to them at all.
The next morning when the sun was up, they paid for the room, and headed out. The capital was located in the insides of Cridelford, and by the time they reached it by carriages, it was noon already. But fortunately, the court was still open, and so the trio walked to the main gate of the court. Mersoy tried to talk to the guards to let them in, and said that it was urgent, but they didn’t listen until they all showed them the cards.
In one year, Mersoy had learnt all the major languages, apparently. Her accent was still there though. Nia knew Dottonexan and Cridelfordian, but they weren’t good with Tokreian at all, despite being in the army. Both Aez and Nia found Tokreian extremely difficult - the writing system was very different from theirs and the pronunciations too. But somehow - Mersoy had learnt it one year only. How did she do that?
As the guards looked at their identity cards, they shared a weird look. They let them in, but Aez could feel them staring down at them as they passed.
They walked through a long corridor. There were so many people, bearing all sorts of expressions. A trial had ended, and the witnesses were still talking about it.
Mersoy led them to the front. Aez didn’t know how she could be so calm-headed in such a situation.
“We’re here on orders by Ms. D,” she announced. The guards and the judge stared at her. Mersoy showed them all the cards. “We have information. Please listen to us.”
“The court is ending today,” the judge said, “Come back tomorrow. With proper documents.”
“If you are talking about the scroll, it’s right here with us,” Mersoy said. Her eyes were calm but they had a threatening aura in them, “We were sent by one of your secret agents. How come you still ignore us?”
“Because Doreza, or let’s say your Ms. D, we never sent her,” said the judge sternly, “she went on her own accord to ‘investigate’. That scum.”
Aez raised his eyebrows. “Pardon?”
One of the other men present in the court started speaking. “Oh that woman believes she can prove that she can be a top investigator. There are good men for that job already. We don’t need any women butting their head where they don’t belong. It’s not like they’d be any good with those fragile bodies. The truth is Doreza is nothing. Just a pathetic...”
That’s disrespectful. Aez clenched his fists.
The judge cleared his throat.
“Besides,” he said, “We know better than to meddle in these affairs. She didn’t listen, and look, we’ve got three brats. Claiming you have what wasn’t found for years. That mysterious scroll.”
“You are misinformed,” Mersoy corrected, “There’s no goddamn mystery in that scroll. It simply contains farming techniques that are now used almost everywhere.”
‘Then it simply means that you have been misguided!” The judge shouted, his eyes burning with flame, “There have been two wars for the sake of that scroll! Don’t you dare to bend history to your own pleasure.”
Mersoy gritted her teeth.
Nia started talking, her eyes were on fire.
“Oh I get it,” she said sarcastically. “Ms D isn’t your favourite investigator, isn't she? Is it because she’s unusual, or is it because she’s talented enough to be at the top of all investigators? And you can’t deal with the fact of a woman being at the head of the department?”
The judge looked at them threateningly. His face was scarlet. “You have no right to insult an authority here,” he said scornfully. “Get out. Now.”
Before Nia could object, she was dragged by Mersoy outside.
They sat down at a bench in the road, recollecting their thoughts.
“Cridelford is worse than I thought!” Nia exclaimed, “Last time we were here, the poverty was apparent. And now it seems like they can’t even respect women!”
“Stop making offhand remarks like that,” Mersoy said, standing up and pacing around, “You don’t know Ms. D fully. Whatever she did here is none of our business.”
“Of course it is our business!” Nia exclaimed, “You said that yesterday it could have been Ms D who got the bullet. She died so that we could escape! I can’t believe this,” Nia gasped.
“It was her plan and we shouldn’t feel responsible for it,” Mersoy replied, “And it was the Tokreians who killed her - though it’s all a hypothesis. She might not have died.”
Both Nia and Aez remained silent.
“It doesn’t affect you at all, does it?” Aez whispered.
“You just don’t get it,” Nia said, “It’s like you don’t even have feelings. Of course you wouldn’t understand how we feel. And we don’t even know who you are. There’s no telling that you’re not that assassin who murdered everyone in Nevidilandi.”
Mersoy felt her eyes widen.
Nia and Aez were both looking at her, suspicions held behind their dark eyes.
“That’s…” Mersoy uttered, slowly, “That’s a horrible thing to say, isn’t it?'' Then she turned away from them.
“My hometown, Crovas, was in Estoyca. I watched it burn. I watched the people I loved and cared for being slaughtered. And I watched the person I loved facing things no one alive should experience.”
She held her hand near her elbow in hesitation. She clenched her teeth, hoping that would stop the oncoming tears. There was a hollowness in her heart, and now it was starting to fill with pain the more she thought about it.
Cinthia. Idoph. Azura. Everyone. What had they died for? What had she been fighting for, when in the end, it was all a lie fabricated by the water spirit? What right did he have to meddle with the lives they had? What was the justification for all the deaths his actions caused?
But Mersoy also knew that if she had been in the water spirit’s place, and if there was Azura in the place of the forest spirit, she’d do her best to protect her. To help her. Love was a strange, wonderful, but also a dangerous feeling. And now it bruised her heart.
She was a failure. She wasn’t able to protect the ones she cared about. But she also failed the remaining fiends, she failed the water spirit, she failed the forest spirit. All her life - she had been nothing but a failure. When did it all begin? Maybe she had already failed when she had been born after all.
“I’d never…” Mersoy spoke, though her voice trembled, and now the tears were falling from her eyes. “I’d never kill people just because I want to. It’s unforgivable.”
“And you did that. You killed Jordan,” Nia whispered from the back. “We hadn’t even attacked you then. You could have waited. You could have talked to us.”
“You wouldn’t understand. In that situation, there could never be a ‘talk things out’ scenario. Even if you hate to admit it, you know it very well.”
They went back to the hotel again, and decided to stay there until they could decide on what to do next. Mersoy told them multiple times that if they really wanted, they could leave her alone and go to Dottonex. Aez was hesitating, but at last he made the decision for both him and Nia - they wouldn’t.
“You’re suspicious,” Aez said quietly, “The last time we let you go, you caused this invasion. Who knows what you’ll do? Even if it seems like we are siding with the enemy, we can’t let you go off like that.”
Mersoy rolled her eyes. Teenage bullshit. But she was so done with it. So she stood up from her seat and walked to Nia and Aez, who were sitting on the opposite side of the room.
“I think I’ve told you this many times already,” Mersoy loomed over them, and Nia twitched her face, “If I wanted I could kill you easily. If I wanted to destroy the world and what not, there’s not a single way you could have stopped me. You two young immature inexperienced teens. And I’m a lot older than you. So stop spouting nonsense when you can’t even understand anything.”
“Sure,” Aez whispered back, his face dark, “It’s just that, Mersoy. I don’t even know what to believe in anymore.”
“Aez…” Nia murmured.
“Do you know, Mersoy?” Aez was now directly looking up at her, “Do you know? I had a dream once. A dream where I’d become a research scientist. That’s the only thing I could call mine since my parents’ death, since my elder brother had to go. That time was hollow. It was dark. You don’t know anything about that, do you? Just clinging on to one hope so that it would come true. Hoping the hell would end.
“And you.... Put an end to my dream.”
Mersoy didn’t know what to say. She walked back.
“Both mine and Nia’s parents - they were both assassins. And they both died for their jobs. They had pointless lives, lives only to be sacrificed in exchange of little information. And I wanted to remove those scars they left us. I’d not just survive, I’d live - a life I’d be proud of - a life where I can be myself and feel good in my own skin. A life with Nia, Aaron, granny and Leo too.”
“I tried to accept the deaths. Because nothing could be changed. There was still my dream - I could try living for myself and Nia only. There could be a bright future ahead. Now you are telling us that the ones I believed in - the true people who’d make our age progress - the ones I believed who were masterminds - Tokreians - they have connections with past wars.”
Mersoy remained silent.
“You know what, Mersoy?” Aez was speaking determinedly, “I don’t know what to believe in, but I’m definitely not trusting you again. But I’ll stick with you. I’ll need to see the end of this. Because I don’t believe that my dreams are that fragile.”
Mersoy now couldn’t help chuckle. “No matter how dramatic you make it seem, your problems are nothing, if you were to compare them to others. You’re still a kid who believes he can fly when he can grow up.
“But once, I was like you too. I dreamt too.”
“Unless you return to the grounds of reality and accept things the way they are, you won’t be able to fly, even in your dreams.”
“Why do you say that?” Aez said, gritting his teeth, “Why, just what have you faced to be so insensitive to other’s pain?”
Mersoy scowled. “You really want to know that?”
“Yes,” Nia answered from the back. Her face was buried in her knees, but she was still listening. “Tell us. Why… why are you like this?”
Mersoy laughed. “Sure.”
She walked back and leaned against the window, starting to talk.
“I have told you already. I’m a part fiend - yes, those mythical creatures you heard of. A part of our tribe resided on the land, and became part-fiends. Some say, the water spirit made that possible with his ‘magical powers’ - but I’m sure that’s bullshit.
“The things I’ve been doing - ever since I became an assassin, were for my sake. I wanted to be a veteran soldier. ‘I’ll rescue my kindreds - the pure fiends from their misery, by finding the scroll which will make them all part fiends. Then they will be able to walk on the lands, and be free. I’ll be free too, because I’ll be recognised; people will look up to me.’ - that’s what my younger self believed.
“I and two other assassins infiltrated Pensylan thrice, in search of the scroll. Results were grim. They had no scroll, and furthermore, they destroyed my hometown.
“These eyes you see, my blue eyes - they weren’t mine. I had brown eyes from the start. But you see, after that destruction, the Pensylan invaders gouged out my eyes - they wanted that devastating scene to be the last thing I’d ever see. And then, they left me on the seashore to die.
“I hoped to die then. But I didn’t.
“Because the girl I loved, Azura sacrificed herself for me. The details aren’t clear to me because I was unconscious. But I heard from the sea serpent - the water spirit - that somehow they gave me Azura’s eyes.
“And that’s why… I’m bound to this burden of their deaths. It’s something that haunts me every time I see myself. Those very blue eyes.
“The water spirit said that to ease that burden, I’d have to do what was necessary - to continue the mission of searching for that scroll. Maybe I’d feel okay when the pure fiends would gain their freedom. So I went ahead. I went into hiding, and meanwhile, the whole of Pensylan and Estoycan lands were taken by Crilania, present Cridelford, and Nevidilandi.
“I found the man who ordered to destroy Crovas. That’s the only time I killed because I willed.
“And then, I went to Nevidilandi. Stole the scroll, only to know from the Nevidilandian prince that it was really… nothing. And afterwards, the first memory I have of yours. And you are telling me that Nevidilandi has been wiped out.
“I went to the sea to ask the water spirit the reason for this all. And then…” Mersoy took a deep breath, “I found the pure fiends were dead. They were slaughtered. And the water spirit was fatally injured. He died because you shot him quickly. But he didn’t get to answer my questions. All he said was… that he was sorry for everything.”
“I’m sorry,” Nia whispered, “I thought… the serpent was trying to kill you. You were standing so close to it, and we were standing at a distance, we didn’t know…”
Mersoy walked to Nia. She stretched her hand towards her.
“Look. It was a terrible thing to do, but I don’t think I’d have done anything different if I was in your place,” she said, “You ended his suffering. I think that’s okay.”
Nia didn’t accept her hand.
Mersoy sighed heavily.
She put her hand over her face, “If I knew - I would have never wanted to become an assassin. We were all children, trying to do what felt right. But there’s no one left to take revenge for those who died. Pensylan - or Crilania from back then - or Nevidilandi - or the sea-serpent - no one’s there anymore. And I’m the only one who has recollections of everything that happened, and there’s no one who can share that burden. It’s heavy. Ah, it’s so much like a bird who lost its wings.”
She remained silent for a while.
Then Aez spoke up. “No, your wings aren’t lost yet.”
Mersoy looked at him. Tears had gathered at the corners of his eyes, but they weren’t falling yet.
“No. I refuse to accept these all,” Aez grunted, “And I won’t. Mersoy. I want to search for the truth. And you’ll be able to avenge their deaths only when you’ll be able to discover the truth. I’m sure - if you asked them, the people you loved - that’s what they’d want you to do, instead of killing.”
He took a deep breath in and then said, “Because there’s something more behind all these.”
“I’ll admit one thing. I caused this last invasion; I planned to let the Dottonexan authorities know about all this. Tokreians will try their best to kill or resist me, and I felt it was beyond my capabilities to reach the Dottonexan authorities when there were so many of these Tokreians out there... so as a distraction I led the undeads - and the forest spirit assisted me.
“I thought that’d be my final mission. It turns out, it wasn’t so.
“I could very well end my life,” Mersoy continued, “But I doubt I’ll rest in peace with so many questions lingering in my mind. And so, I’ll go search for it - the truth.”
Her eyes were determined.
“And I’ll come,” Aez said. “Because I can’t return to Dottonex anymore. Maybe…” he sighed, “You are right. Unless I don’t accept reality, I won’t even be able to take one step towards my dream.”
“Nia?” Aez looked questioningly at Nia, who had lifted her face from her knees and was listening to both of them attentively.
“Of course I would,” Nia smiled through her red tearful face.
Then pausing, she smiled mysteriously. Mersoy heard her muttering.
“That’s the only way left now.”