Chapter 13:

The Cynic and the Youth

Reverie's End: Blades of Malice

Date: 6/6/991; Time: 16th hourBookmark here

A young woman in blue armor lay in the Talis River. Her body and face were covered in scales; she was Kali, but that did not stop her from succumbing to starvation after a month in the Emerald Jungle. Had she been human, she would have died several days earlier.Bookmark here

This was the sight that the medics of Twilight Sanctum saw as they were walking outside in the rain. She was quickly rushed inside to the room of healing. The girl was alive for now, but she was in dire need of medical attention and food.Bookmark here

The Sanctum was an order dedicated to the good of man, but unlike the Advent and other similar organizations, their methods were non-violent. It was a place for burdened souls to go when the outside world was too cruel to look at. It was in this Sanctum that Amalia was raised and taught how to be a medic.Bookmark here

Amalia was a young girl, orphaned at the age of 5 due to the civil unrest in Valis. There were many others like her brought to sanctums and raised there as members of the "Shining Light" in those days. They were the inevitable victims of war.Bookmark here

She was slender, average in height, had long golden hair, and green eyes. Her attire included a robe of white and red, adorned with flowers. Many of her friends would say she was quite cute. Amalia was a good girl and loved by those at the Sanctum. Unfortunately, despite her best efforts, she was not very quick at developing her skills, and could still grow a lot as a healer.Bookmark here

Amalia was in her room when the commotion started; she was sitting around, bored as usual. She got up and decided to leave her room, sliding the door open. She walked towards the direction of the commotion and noticed it was coming from the room of healing. She asked a brown-haired middle-aged woman that was present there, "What happened, Walda?"Bookmark here

Walda replied, "They found a Kali girl near the Talis River. It looks like she's finally about to wake up."Bookmark here

Unlike most places in Ethos, the Order of the Shining Light never discriminated against non-humans. It didn't matter that the girl was Kali; they helped all that came underneath their roof.Bookmark here

Amalia peered inside the room to take a look at the girl. She had long brown hair, dark-blue eyes and was partially covered in scales. She must not have been much older than Amalia. The injured Kali girl woke up but was struggling to get up out of bed.Bookmark here

"Don't move yet. You are still heavily wounded but had it not been for the rain's blessing and your bloodline, you'd have long been dead," said the blonde nurse taking care of her.Bookmark here

The Kali girl said, "Where am I? They need to know that danger is coming," she whispered, unable to speak any louder.Bookmark here

"We can worry about that later. Focus on resting first," said the nurse. She continued, "Wait, you look familiar. Have I seen you before?"Bookmark here

Several people in the room confirmed that she looked familiar. At the moment, Walda spoke up, "It's that girl Miri! The elder sent her and another girl on a mission for Helim Root!"Bookmark here

The others in the room were nodding in agreement. It was at this moment that the elder of the sanctum walked in. He was Elric, a tall bald-man, wise in years and the best healer in the sanctum.Bookmark here

Elric looked over at Miri with sympathy and sighed. "My poor child, what happened in that jungle? And what befell your friend?" he said with deep compassion.Bookmark here

Miri turned her face away from him and started to weep. She said not a word for several minutes before the elder finally dismissed everyone and said, "I have been too hasty, forgive me. You can tell us the story when you feel ready."Bookmark here

Amalia and the others left the room, deep in thought, as they went about their daily chores. Miri remained in silence the whole day.Bookmark here

The next day, Amalia woke up early in the morning, ate her simple breakfast of soup and bread in the dining hall, and then decided to pay Miri a visit.Bookmark here

Miri hadn't even touched her food and was staring off into space. Amalia came in and quietly sat next to her. She asked Miri, "How are you doing?"Bookmark here

Miri continued her brooding, ignoring Amalia. The nurse walked in, saw Amalia and said, "Don't bother her, Amalia, she needs time to heal."Bookmark here

Amalia pouted but left the room. "She needs to cheer up," thought Amalia to herself. The young healer had yet to learn about the gravity of Miri's situation and the realities of the real world. She knew little of life beyond the sanctum, where she was kept safe from harm.Bookmark here

The day went by uneventfully and Amalia went to bed. She dreamt that night, a nightmare she has seen before. There were two figures standing far away, while a fire burnt the entire city to the ground. The figures' faces were blurs. Amalia tried to unravel the mystery so many times in her mind but could never see anything clearly. She awoke from her usual dream, confused as always. The dream always felt so real, as if it was a memory from the past.Bookmark here

Amalia had always been curious about her parents, but none of the members of the sanctum would tell her anything. She only knew that the elder found her in West Valis and that she had lost her memories during the incident. Amalia had just graduated from the sanctum one month ago. She was now allowed to leave and explore the world, aiding those in need. Amalia did not think she was ready for such a grand endeavour. However, there was a part of her that wanted to believe that her parents were still alive, and she wanted to find them.Bookmark here

A few more days passed without incident, and finally, Miri recovered enough to speak. Her heart was beginning to mend. The elder allowed only a few people into the room, but Amalia stood outside and eavesdropped. The elder began by thanking Miri for her courage in speaking up about her recent tragedy.Bookmark here

Miri told them about how they ran into the Emerald tribes, found the Helim Root, and how they stumbled into the Emerald tribes' capital. Miri still had great difficulty describing the events that followed.Bookmark here

"Mana, Nana and the Blades of Malice were burning the village. They wanted the Emerald and they found it," stammered Miri. She fell silent for a moment, and then continued, "They killed Esca. I will make them pay!" The rage was clearly shown in her eyes.Bookmark here

Those in the room fell silent and looked on with the deepest sympathy. Many had similar stories. Amalia finally understood Miri's pain.Bookmark here

Miri announced, "I'd like to be left alone."Bookmark here

The elder nodded and escorted everyone outside. The rest of the day seemed to drag on for Amalia, who was deep in thought. The outside world scared her. "Who are these Blades of Malice people?" she thought to herself.Bookmark here

The next day, Miri could be found sitting in the common dining area with everyone else during breakfast. Amalia spotted her and sat across from her in hopes of getting some questions answered. Miri ignored her and kept eating.Bookmark here

"Are you feeling better today?" asked Amalia in her usual sweet voice.Bookmark here

Miri looked over at her and replied, "Yeah." She continued to eat, never giving more than one-word answers to Amalia's questions.Bookmark here

Finally, Amalia said with boldness in her voice, "I want to leave this place. There must be something I can do to help make this world a little less cruel."Bookmark here

Miri looked over and said sternly, "This world eats little girls like you and spits them out. You won't last very long out there."Bookmark here

Amalia looked a bit scared, but replied, "If I go with you, I'll be okay then! You know how to fight."Bookmark here

Miri looked at her bewildered for a moment and then laughed. This was the first time she had laughed since the incident. Everyone in the dining hall was starting to take notice. Miri then started tearing up and replied, "No. You won't be okay. I couldn't protect Esca and I won't be able to protect you either."Bookmark here

Amalia started to blush now and realized that it was a lost cause. They continued to eat in silence for the remainder of breakfast. A few hours later, Miri announced that she was leaving. She packed her belongings and started to head outside. Everyone was already waiting for her, ready to say their goodbyes.Bookmark here

Miri thanked everyone for helping her recover and made a farewell speech: "Ethos is about to face a great danger in the form of the Blades of Malice. I don't know the details, but they have an 'Emerald' that is capable of great destruction. If they ever come here for some reason, they will show you no mercy. I beg of you to learn how to defend yourselves just in case that day ever arrives." She continued to say, "As for myself. I am leaving for Charlo, and then I will find out where Nana is hiding and I will hunt her down!"Bookmark here

The elder came to Miri and responded, "The path of vengeance will never give you peace, Miri."Bookmark here

Miri replied, "I'll find that out when I get to the end of the path." She then took out a bag and handed it to the elder. "This is the Helim Root you wanted," she said.Bookmark here

The elder looked at the bag with hesitation. "That root cost a poor girl her life. It's tainted with the blood of an innocent," he said, showing regret in his face.Bookmark here

"No… I killed Esca. It was my fault. Take the root. It may save lives. Don't let her death be in vain," said Miri as she was on the verge of tears.Bookmark here

The elder nodded and took the bag. Everyone continued to stand in silence. Finally, Miri announced, "It's time for me to go. Thank you for everything."Bookmark here

Then Amalia raised her hand and said, "I'm going too!"Bookmark here

Everyone looked at her in amazement, especially Elric, who had been very protective of her and treated her like a granddaughter.Bookmark here

Miri replied, "We already discussed this. It's a dangerous world out there. Little girls like you should stay home." The elder and everyone else nodded in agreement.Bookmark here

"You are but a child, Amalia. Stay here and train some more before you leave," said the elder.Bookmark here

Amalia responded, "I graduated last month and by the laws of the sanctum I am free to do as I please. All of Ethos is in danger and I can't just sit here knowing I can do something! I also to find my parents. I know they are alive, somewhere out there."Bookmark here

The elder said, "I beg you to reconsider but it is not in my power to stop you. Do as you wish." His hands shook as he spoke, fearing what may lie ahead in the little girl's future.Bookmark here

Miri, looked over at Amalia, annoyed and responded, "Fine. You can follow along but I can't promise you safety. Nobody can ever make that promise."Bookmark here

Amalia nodded and stared at Miri with a serious expression. "I'm ready for anything!" she saidBookmark here

Miri mumbled to herself, "I highly doubt that. Please don't die on me."Bookmark here

Amalia bid farewell to the rest of the sanctum members and the two girls walked over to the horses that Elric so graciously provided them.Bookmark here

"Can you even ride a horse?" inquired Miri.Bookmark here

"There's a first time for everything!" replied Amalia.Bookmark here

Miri sighed and watched as Amalia tried to get on her brown horse multiple times and failed. Eventually, she got on but her victory was short-lived.Bookmark here

"I got on!" she said, as the horse immediately knocked her off in the next moment. Amalia and the horse did not get along it seemed.Bookmark here

Miri looked at Amalia, who was now shaking in fear. "Still want to ride now?" asked Miri.Bookmark here

Amalia screamed, "I hate horses! I'll walk!"Bookmark here

Miri looked at the determination in Amalia's eyes, and couldn't help but chuckle. "Okay then. Let's walk," said Miri. They left the horses at the sanctum and began their journey south.Bookmark here

"So where are we going?" asked Amalia after a few hours of walking.Bookmark here

"Charlo, capital of Aegis. I have questions and I'm hoping they have the answers," replied Miri.Bookmark here

They stopped for the night after a long day of walking and hid inside a cave, to avoid the heavy rain. After warming themselves by the fire and eating only bread, and some berries they found along the way, they began to talk.Bookmark here

"So, what is it like being a Kali? Do you swim in the sea of Ethos?! It must be fun!" said Amalia, smiling at the thought.Bookmark here

Miri laughed and responded to the silly inquiry, "I guess nobody at the sanctum told you that I'm only one-quarter Kali. Once the Season of Water ends, I'll go back to being a normal human." She sighed and continued, "This body is a blessing and a curse. The rain gives me strength but I'm unwelcome in most towns during that time."Bookmark here

Amalia looked at Miri in amazement after the revelation that she was presented with. She then asked in her usual innocent voice, "Why do humans not like Kali?"Bookmark here

"It's not just Kali: Fang, Neko, Elm and even the mysterious Kildar are all persecuted in most kingdoms. Humans fear that which is different. There are few safe places for them and Aegis is one of the few that exist on Ethos," replied Miri solemnly.Bookmark here

"It's not fair!" said Amalia with her hands on her hips.Bookmark here

"The world would be a better place if more people thought like you," said Miri, smiling. "Now I have a question for you, Amalia. Don't you speak Thorian? You're going to need it if you ever go to Western Ethos," said Miri.Bookmark here

"I was not a good student. Even my Aegean is not that great. But I'll learn it! My parents are from Valis, so I'm definitely going there to find them!" declared Amalia.Bookmark here

"That's good to hear. You're going to need to learn a lot of things to survive in this world, including how to ride horses," Miri responded while smirking.Bookmark here

Amalia pouted but laughed afterwards. The two were finally beginning to talk to each other. Amalia looked up to the beautiful Miri as an older sister and Amalia's innocent and naive questions warmed Miri's cold heart.Bookmark here

The two slept the night in the cave and continued their journey the following day. They continued to travel for several days until they finally reached Charlo, capital of Aegis, and the birthplace of the Advent guild.Bookmark here

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