Chapter 16:

The Loyal Blade

Reverie's End: Blades of Malice

Date: 6/17/991; Time: 17th hourBookmark here

The rain continued to pour on this ominous night. Dart was standing outside the city walls of Northgate, a city in the Shima Kingdom. He was waiting for his two underlings in this country located in the northwest of Ethos. A few days journey by horse to the north would land them in the Kildar Mountain Range, a region perpetually covered by snow and ice. They were lands that sane men never entered. Today, Dart's mission was of a different nature, but perhaps just as deadly. His squad was to head east into the Elder Vale.Bookmark here

Dart was young and had just been appointed a commander of the Blades of Malice. He was eager to prove his worth and loyalty to the organization. He was thin, had curly white hair, amber eyes and wore the same red cloak that everyone in the organization wore. His cloak had 3 black stripes on each side, and a silver badge above the right breast, thus signifying that he was a commander.Bookmark here

The Blades of Malice start training their assassins as early as age 5. Orphans of war, such as Dart, made up a large part of their force. That's why they are far deadlier as adults than regular knights in the army, and the commanders were of a level of strength that few in Ethos could even hope to surpass.Bookmark here

Most disgruntled people never did more than complain or start a small riot, but there were some that hated the aristocracy so much that they started banding together with other like-minded believers. These people were the original Blades of Malice; they waited in the shadows for decades, biding their time. The time to strike has arrived.Bookmark here

Two figures appeared from the forest near Northgate and started walking towards Dart. They wore red cloaks with 2 black stripes per side, signifying the rank of "Blade", only one step below a commander. These were veteran fighters that had proved their worth in the past. The ranks within the blades, from lowest to highest, were Trainee, Apprentice, Blade, and Commander. Above all of them was the "Grand Commander", a figure shrouded in mystery.Bookmark here

"Greetings, Commander Dart," said both voices, one male and one female, saluting him.Bookmark here

"It's good of you to come, Siegfried and Era. We can now commence our mission. We are to ride to the Elder Vale in the east and disrupt the supply route between the Scorched Castle and Balassar," said Dart in his usual confident tone of voice.Bookmark here

Siegfried was tall muscular, had golden hair, blue eyes, and fought with lances. His girlfriend, Era, was slender, had brown hair, green eyes and was a sword user. Both had plenty of reasons to want the king of Shima dead. This mission was their chance at vengeance for their families' exile.Bookmark here

"At last… we have long waited for this day," said Siegfried in his deep voice.Bookmark here

"King Shima VI shall lose his head. May you overthrow him and take his place, Commander Dart!" said Era with her resonant alto.Bookmark here

"Who rules over Shima is for our Grand Commander to decide, but I suppose it would make sense to dole out the kingdoms to the commanders and you two shall be my right and left hands," declared Dart.Bookmark here

"You greatly honor us, Commander Dart," responded Siegfried. Both Era and Siegfried bent the knee, and Era said, "Lead us to a new age, one of glorious peace for all."Bookmark here

They both got up and Siegfried asked, "What of Balmung? He would be a great aid in this mission."Bookmark here

"He does not take well to this rain. I can only presume that he will meet us there. Balmung is loyal, he will not be absent in our time of need," replied Dart, looking up at the sky.Bookmark here

The three red cloaks packed their bags and rode their horses eastward for five days. It was then that they noticed their prey. There were approximately 70 supply wagons headed for Balassar, the capital of Shima.Bookmark here

Destroying them would deal a heavy blow to their enemy. They were heavily guarded though, at least in terms of quantity. Shima relied on militias and did not have a strong military presence. The men guarding the wagons were pushovers, but Dart was never one to underestimate his enemy. He had a trump card to help dwindle their numbers.Bookmark here

Dart looked up at the sky and saw a mid-sized firedrake flying towards the wagons. This was Balmung, Dart's companion. He was red, covered in scales, and large enough to be dangerous. Although, Balmung was not yet large enough for Dart to ride him. It was a rite of passage for any Commander in the Blades of Malice to tame a rare beast of the opposite element, symbolic of one's ability to overcome weakness. Thus, each Commander was paired with a rare beast of the opposing element. Dart was Ice and Balmung was fire. The duo had defeated many foes for the Malice in the past, and today would not be any different.Bookmark here

Balmung swooped down and breathed fire on the wagons and militiamen, causing wide panic. "Now is our chance, said Dart as he ran out with his arm stretched outward, readying an ice spell. Dart was a slender man and not physically strong; he was not skilled with any combat weapon. He was a scholar and a mage above all else. He shot an ice dart and impaled one of the men to a wagon. Besides being skilled as an ice magic user, Dart was also a competent alchemist. He was an expert in various potions that modified battle parameters. This made him a good support fighter for the team; his potions allowed his team mates to do things they normally couldn't. Raised strength, endurance, and agility; It was all possible.Bookmark here

Siegfried and Era ran out as well, with their weapons in hand. They both wore red armor underneath their cloaks; it was the appropriate attire for warriors. Era struck a militia man in the back and Siegfried stabbed a man in the eye. King Shima's men were not ready for an assault of this magnitude. Some of the men fought back, but most fled when they realized that they were outmatched.Bookmark here

Balmung continued to burn down men, and unfortunately some wagons that the Blades were planning to take for themselves. Dart continued to generate icicles and daggers that flew at high speeds. Siegfried (who went by Sieg) and Era, continued to stab and slash the grunts before them. In a matter of minutes, the vale was quiet again. The Blades of Malice had claimed their territory.Bookmark here

"Balmung burned down a few, but we'll be fine. There are enough supplies for several weeks. The others will be here soon… this will be our base of operations until we are ready to strike Balassar in the south!" announced Dart.Bookmark here

They waited for a few hours before the other members of the organization started to arrive. There were now 90 of them present. Meanwhile, Balmung had flown away to hide in a cave until called upon; he certainly did not appreciate the rain.Bookmark here

"This is not everyone. We will need many more men if we are to succeed. Unfortunately, we do not have an Ethos Stone with us. We will be fighting Balassar the traditional way. We will continue disrupting their supply routes and begin our operation one month from now!"Bookmark here

Overthrowing Shima was the first step in many of Dart's main goal of getting revenge on East Valis, his homeland. He was born into a poor family and lost his parents at a young age. The Grand Commander rescued him and became his savior. While many young children were in regular orphanages, Dart was being taught how to destroy his targets. He had been taught that power was the only way to make one's dreams come true. Dart was loyal to his own strength.Bookmark here

The Blades of Malice slowly grew in number until they had 1000 men ready to storm Balassar Castle. By then, the season had changed to one of earth.Bookmark here

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