Chapter 11:

Chapter 11: An Unholy War | Part 2

Beyond Waters

Gripping 'eir cold corpse tightly, the freezin' stone body weighed on 'em, crushin' 'em with guilt an' sorrow. Claspin' tight onto 'eir hands, the Arch-Mage soaked the seas with salty emotion. They stamped at the floor; kickin' off sand from the ground they stood upon. They yelled out, callin' 'eir name. Jennice! Jennice! The cries grew louder. Jennice! Jennice! 

The Arch-Mage seething red; the cold, lifeless body in 'eir arms felt delicate, yet broken. Like a split stone, unmovin' an' filled with a dull grey—brittle an' light. Whilst the corpse wasn't heavy, the other guilt they carried was. They killed 'eir sister. Nothin' they would do could make up for that. It was a feelin' they had to take to 'eir grave.

Arthur was far away at the time. The empty Ischlam had little voice to break the news to his father. Let alone the energy to make the journey to reach the great hero. Would this have been how they died? Clutchin' the arms o' the lifeless sister they killed? Well, you are sure to know the answer, o' course not.

Steelin' 'eir heart, they took the first step. It crumbled the sand, leavin' a deep footprint in it with 'eir boots. They never felt so heavy in 'em before, all o' a sudden they just weighed so much. It took all o' 'eir strength to take that first step. How many more would it take to reach 'eir father? It would take thousands. If not tens o' thousands to reach 'em.

Then, they remembered 'ose words taught to 'em by 'eir father.

'Like a coral's beauty, gasped in vibrance.
The playful nature o' a dolphin, elegant in its cheerful glee.
Me arms that o' eel. Slitherin' soared in the cavern skies holy light.
Blessed by the gods, the Whale in all its precious greats.
Craftin' the grandest o' sights to witness the grandest dance.'

Passion brought itself to 'em once more. Charged with the rage o' a thousand men. 'Eir soul swam once again—the length o' a million seas. They took 'eir second step. Aura wanderin' around 'em, like a beacon it shot to the cavern's sky. The third step was soon taken. Then the fourth, then the fifth. Eventually they made 'eir tenth step.

11. 12. 13. 'Eir movements begun to strengthen. 'Eir resolve stronger than steel. A cold confidence strung past 'em. Lit by the pain they lost, they made for the fourteenth step.

Riddled in pain, they continued. For 'eir wounds not visible, deeply struck 'eir heart. Playin' like a magic harp, 'eir soul's song continued to play. 'Eir walk began to turn brisk. They made 'eir thirtieth step. Vision obscured by 'eir own madness. Anger flocked 'em like a school o' fish. It fed 'eir strength, turnin' 'eir brisk walk to a jog, turnin' 'eir jog to a run an' the run to a boltin' sprint.

A chrome trail tailed 'em. Catchin' 'eir path an' chasin' it. Glowed with the need o' seein' 'eir father's face, 'eir resolve pledged twice as strong. 

The hundredth step had been passed. Clogged by magic in replacement for 'eir weakness, 'eir resolve only grew as 'eir magic ate up 'eir energy. They eventually lost count o' 'eir steps. What once was an iron way o' steelin' 'emselves, became trivial as they withstood through sheer willpower. By the time they reached the next village they became tired an' hungry. 'Eir magic was dwindlin' in number. 'Ose fine an' mighty strokes o' swim were reduced to mere paddles o' steps. They could reach 'em at any moment. That's what they thought. Really, they had no idea where they were goin'. For all they knew, 'eir father was on the other side o' the sea. They just knew they were some distance away, that was all. They picked whatever direction and went with it.

"But why?"

Why they had no choice. It was either that or bein' another lost casualty to add to the war's total. Luckily for the great mage however, they spotted 'eir father at last all but an hour later. The hero's white coat was unmistakably that o' his father's. The Golden Whale so righteously hung from it, glowin' in all its proud radiance. 

Tears once again fled from Ischlam's eyes. They called out 'eir father, distress quakin' in 'eir voice. Turnin' back at 'eir son's shakin' words, they rushed over after they finished off a soldier with 'eir sword. 

- Are you alright? They asked, How's your brother? They asked, How's Jennice? They asked, Where are they? They asked.

Lookin' down at the body 'eir teary-eyed son was carryin', it seemed like the cries were infectious. The hero broke down to 'eir knees, hands coverin' 'eir face. 

-It can't be. They sobbed. Thes can't be happenin'. 'Eir voice cradled. It's just another soldier right? It's just some random nobody right? It's not Jennice es it? Please. Say somethin'.

Ischlam averted his eyes. Quietin' his cries to a somber sorrow as his face darkened in shame an' pity.

- What happened? Arthur asked. Who did thes? He continued.

The crushin' guilt hit Ischlam even more. It hurt 'em like bein' stabbed by a million knives. It was less o' a punch to the gut an' more a barrage o' 'em. Each one hurtin' more than the last. Each one takin' 'eir breath away an' bringin' 'em to a crushed silence.

- Who was it?! Are they dead?

Ischlam shook 'eir head.

- Where are they?! I'll kill 'em!

The face on his usual peace-lovin' father resided that o' disgust. A vile ball o' hatred. Tossed in a whirl o' emotion. This wasn't the face o' a hero. It was the face o' a distressed father. One who loved an' cared for his family. One who had that which he loved ripped away from 'em. 'Eir face contortin' to a still shock,

- It was me.

The hero's face lost all hope. The Golden Whale was not its normal colour at that moment. It lacked the shine an' glimmer it was known for. The radiance lost its glint. What hung from it was a grungy, depressed an' sandy yellow. 'Eir son's words hurt. They dug deep into 'eir once soft heart, hardenin' it to a rusty steel.

- I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-

- Why? Why did they deserve to die? What did they do? Tell me, what happened?
Why did you do it?

It was the worst thing they could have heard. What did he mean why did he do it? Could he not have trusted in him? Could he not have thought it was just an accident? Have had faith in his son? Havin' had believed in him.

- I thought they w-were a soldier, I-I didn't see their face.

The father trembled. Like 'eir son's quakin' words, the father trembled. They opened 'eir mouth to quickly shut it again, holdin' 'emselves back. Then, they reopened it,

- Don't be sorry, it's not your fault. It was an accident. Nothin' to be done.

- Listen I-

- I dont want to hear it!

- But I-

- Shut up! If she were here, she would say not to worry. She would want us to smile. I want you to smile. Can you do that for her? Can you do that for me? Can you smile?

'Eir face weaseled its way to up a curve. Musterin' what best it could o' anythin' other than a frown. Like a stumblin' child, they couldn't get up. They couldn't do it.

- I can't do it.

- Why? You need to be able to. If you want to succeed me, you need to smile. I won't be here forever; you can't have people for your entire life helpin' you smile. You need to do thes, for your sake. For my sake. For your sister's sake. For the Whale's sake, you have to smile. It's not too difficult. See. Smile. 'Eir voice crackin' as they forced 'emselves to a quiverin' happy face, 'eir tears bein' picked up an' stolen by the sea.

- I-I can't. I can't do it! I CAN'T. Not after thes. Not after I killed my sister!

- How did she die?

- I stabbed her. It happened in an instant. I-I had no way of saving her.

- Argh! They screamed, kickin' at the gravel on the ground. They had no clue how to react to the mage's confession. It hurt him. More than any sword could do. It stabbed deeper—delvin' further an' further the more they thought about it.

- I-I'm sorr-

- What did I tell you?! Don't apologise. It wasn't your fault. It wasn't your fault...
...Why did you have to kill them?

- Huh?

- Why? Why did you all have to fight each other. Why do we have to spill blood? All thes meaningless fightin'. When does it end? It ends when a victor is decided and then the victor does it again decades later? That's no victory. That's just a total lie! To put your people through so much pain. This wouldn't have happened just to us. Even the people on the Coral's and Islander's sides would have had this happen to them. Bein' pitted against family. Against loved ones. This cycle of hatred will never end if someone doesn't put a stop to it. So, Ischlam. Smile. Smile for the sake of everyone. Smile for me. Smile for your sister. Your brother. Everyone living person in thes sea. If you can't do it, I'll carry that burden for you. But don't think I'll be able to do that forever. The people need a hero. Whether that's you, me or your brother. We'll figure that out eventually. But I don't care who's sake it's for. Put on a smile and lead the people. Lead them the right way. Not this horrid path. If you can do that. Smile.

Real Aire