Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Day: 8/18/991; Time: 11th hour
News of Manheim's death had spread throughout all of Charon rather quickly. Ordalia held the funeral invitation letter in her hand and smiled. It was sent to her as a formality; Aria did not expect her presence or even wish for it. Ordalia spit on the letter and threw it in the trash. Manheim was old news; she was more interested in his successor's next move.
Meanwhile, Miri continued her sparring match with Lloyd; he was one of the few knights at the castle that could give her a challenge. It was a beautiful day outside, and they decided to take advantage of it by going to the forest where the Elm were staying at. But her mind was occupied with the red-cloaks that attacked the castle a few weeks earlier. The man had let them go; she was lucky to be alive.
"You seem distracted. You won't last very long fighting like that," said Lloyd, as he knocked her trident away with his sword.
Miri looked at him intently and with worry in her eyes. "The Blades of Malice have others as strong as that man… he pushed us around with such ease," she said.
"No sense worrying about it now. That's why we're training right now… to be ready next time. What happened to the fierce warrior that slew Nana of the Blades?" said Lloyd.
"That was my Kali blood and a blessing from the water mana," said Miri. She looked at her hands, and continued, "Now I am only a mere human."
"Do not underestimate humans. There is much power within our race as well," replied Lloyd. He looked over to the right at a wooden rack, filled with small Bluish-Green circular shields. They had the "Wave of Isles" drawn on them. He walked over and picked one up. "We need to work on your defense. Take this shield," said the warmaster.
"But I've never fought with a shield before. Will it be easy to change my battle style? I've always fought two-handed, " said Miri, looking confused at Lloyd.
"You'll need to change a few things about how you fight, but this shield could save your life one day. You won't be able to dodge every attack that comes your way; a shield can block a few punches for you," Lloyd spell out, as he threw the shield to Miri.
She caught it and held it with her left hand. It was lightweight, and surprisingly easy to move. Then she grabbed her "Astral Trident" with her right hand. Miri was surprised that she had no trouble spinning the weapon and moving it around with just one arm. Her training was finally paying off.
"Let's see what you can do now," said Lloyd. They continued their training session for almost an hour. Miri was starting to get used to her new weapon set-up by the end of it.
Elsewhere in the castle, Amalia was learning the ways of healing from Vira. They were both in the infirmary healing soldiers that got wounded during training. Under Vira's tutelage, Amalia was making a lot of progress. While she was healing a patient's leg, she noticed that her pocket was glowing green. Amalia finished her job, and pulled out the glowing branch from her pocket. "They're here!" she exclaimed. Amalia ran out the door and into the forest outside the castle gates.
By the time she got there, Miri and Lloyd were already greeting the guests. Morro had brought more friends from the east; there were many of these newcomers. The Elms of Dusk Mountain were of a light-brownish hue, but the ones from the Nihil Alliance were of a dark-brown color; some were even black. They were slightly taller and leaner than their Dusk Mountain brethren. Their eyes came in every shade common among humans.
It was a frightening sight to behold; all of these tall giants in front of them stood there calmly, towering over them. Amalia and the others looked on in awe. She felt as if these creatures could crush the Blades of Malice without their assistance. It was a wonder that they had not yet taken over the world.
"We have returned. It was difficult to convince many of the Elm, but I managed to procure a small force of Elm. I present to you, Orro, the leader of this group. He is my cousin and a friend we can trust," said Morro slowly in his calming voice.
The humans present were taken aback for a few seconds. They had forgotten what telepathy feels like.
Orro began to speak in a stern tone, "We have come to rid Ethos of those that harm it. Do not think of this as an alliance."
"That's okay with us," said Ordalia, as she walked towards the gathering. She looked at the horde of Elm in front of her, and asked Morro, "How many are there now?"
"Over 1500 in total," answered Morro.
Ordalia raised her eyebrows, and replied, "Wonderful! Feel free to dwell in this forest; it should be large enough for all of you. Castle Isles welcomes your services." She turned around and walked away in a good mood.
"Glad to have you back, Morro!" said Amalia.
"It is good to see you, little one," replied the calm giant. The Elm army said their goodbyes and ventured deeper into the forest. Miri and Lloyd were relieved to see the Elm; their chances at victory had just increased.
The next day, Miri and Amalia decided to visit Morro and his friends. They walked deep into the woods, using Amalia's branch as a guide. "Hi Morro!" greeted Amalia, upon finding him.
The two talked at length; usually it was Morro patiently answering Amalia's countless questions about the lives and history of the Elm. Finally, Miri said, "Morro… let's fight. I need to get stronger."
Morro looked at the little girl, and responded, "Are you sure that is a good idea, Miri?"
"Don't worry. I'm tougher than I look. Sir Lloyd can only teach me so much…. I need a bigger challenge. I need to be strong enough to fight a Commander," replied the girl earnestly.
Morro could see that Miri was serious. "Stand back, Amalia," he said. The tall giant walked over towards Miri, and was preparing to attack.
"That's more like it!" she said, as she held her shield and trident. Miri started to lunge and thrust her weapon at Morro. He had no trouble deflecting her strikes. Her weapon kept bouncing off his body. Morro looked like a tree, but his body must have been made of rocks. Like most Elm, he was over three-quarters of a skar in height, and could hardly be damaged. She continued to stab, but could only make light scratches. He wasn't even trying to dodge.
It was Morro's turn to attack. Elm did not need weapons to fight. He extended his arms and used them like sharp wooden spikes. These spikes were as tough as stone. Morro's attacks lacked any sort of conviction or effort to them, and Miri easily deflected them with her shield.
"Fight me seriously, Morro! It doesn't do me any good if you don't try!" exclaimed Miri. She said that she wanted Morro to fight at full power, but knew that it made no difference if she couldn't even scratch him.
Morro lifted up his right foot and stomped on the ground. The resulting shockwave knocked Miri off her feet. "We are poorly matched, Miri. Steel weapons mean little to Elm. It was not meant to be," said the Elm.
Amalia breathed a sigh of relief now that the match was over. She didn't want to see any of them get hurt.
Miri frowned, and then replied cheerfully, "You must be as strong as a red-cloaked commander!
"Not exactly… everyone has a weakness. If you can find it then you will have the advantage. From the stories you have told me, it appears that the Blades have plenty of capable magic users. They will not go down easily," responded Morro.
He then looked at Miri's white trident, and said, "Let me see your weapon."
Miri was puzzled, but brought the weapon to Morro. He examined it carefully, and said, "You have not been using the full power of your trident. A hidden power sleeps within it. I can sense its presence."
Miri's eyes open wide, and she responded, "It was a gift from my mother; it was her weapon back when she was an adventurer. She never told me about any hidden powers within the Astral Trident."
"Astral Trident is its name? It will be a power weapon if you learn to use its magical properties better," said Morro.
"But I was never good at magic. My mom tried to teach me some basic spells as a kid, but I could never cast anything. I had to learn to rely on my strength," responded Miri.
"There are limitations to physical strength. It can only take you so far. Perhaps, if you knew some magic, you could have harmed me during our match," replied Morro
Miri's expression became serious, and she said, "You have a point, but how do I learn? I have failed so many times in the past…"
"You will need the help of a good teacher. The castle should have someone that can be of assistance to you," said Morro, as he looked over at Amalia. "Maybe even Amalia can teach you a thing or two about mana manipulation," he said, smiling at her.
Amalia cheerfully smiled back. Miri looked over at her friend, and realized how much she'd grown during the two months that she has known her. It was now Amalia's turn to teach Miri something.
During this same time frame, Ordalia was in the council room, and had just dismissed everyone after the meeting. She notified them of their new allies, but the situation had not changed much since the last time they spoke. The Emerald's whereabouts were still unknown; the Blades of Malice were preparing for the big day in secret.
Everyone had already left, except for Ordalia and Lloyd. They sat there in silence for almost a minute. "Do you think it's wise to keep this information from the crown? I have reservations about this… we are endangering the lives of everyone in Gamma, and possibly even all of Charon," said Lloyd, breaking the silence.
"My decision is final… it's not like Nyr or Eris would do any differently. They'll take advantage of the situation, regardless of the cost involved. They have already drawn first blood by killing my men," said Ordalia.
"But we are not like them… We are House Isles. What would your parents say?" replied Lloyd, trying to plead with Ordalia.
"It was that kind of sympathy that got my parents killed two years ago. None of our enemies must know about the Emerald. Yes, even the king is a threat. He is the most dangerous of all. I can never tell what he is thinking," responded Ordalia.
Lloyd, realizing that Ordalia would not change her mind, replied, "Is the Emerald worth all of these lives?" He got up and started to leave the room.
Ordalia spoke up, just as he was about to leave, "Your brother was a good man. He died so that I could be here today."
Lloyd replied, "Gustav was only doing his duty, as will I, if that day ever comes." Their conversation ended with that last phrase.
Elsewhere, Amalia was desperately trying to teach Miri about mana control, but was failing. Suddenly, she had an idea. "Don't you use water mana to turn into a Kali?" she asked.
"Well… yeah. But that just happens naturally. I don't have to do anything. My body just transforms," said Miri.
"But that means that your body doesn't repel mana. You can use it! You just haven't learned how to do it," replied Amalia.
"But how? I still don't get it." inquired Miri.
Amalia frowned and got lost deep in thought. "Let's ask Vira. She's been teaching me how to channel mana through my flail, but I still have a lot to learn. Maybe she'll know something about that trident of yours," she said.
The two girls got up and went back to the castle. Vira was in the infirmary as usual, and was pleasantly surprised to see the two girls visit her.
"Hi, Vira! Miri wants to know how to channel mana through her trident," said Amalia.
Vira went over to look at the weapon, but seemed puzzled by it. "What element is it?" she asked, looking at Miri.
"I have no idea. Does it have to have an element?" asked Miri.
"Yes… at least under normal circumstances. It can be Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Darkness, or Light… this trident is neither of those. It's very odd indeed," said Vira.
Miri and Amalia looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. They were just as clueless as Vira.
"Perhaps you should see Advisor Gerdo. No one in this castle understands magic better than him," she replied, hoping to be at least of some help to them.
The girls thanked her and left to go see the Advisor of Castle Isles. He was in his research room, reading as usual, when the girls arrived. He looked up, surprised to see such young girls visiting him.
"I did not take you for scholars, Miri and Amalia. How can I be of service?" said the gray-headed old man.
"It's the trident… Vira and Morro told me that there is magic within it, but the element is unknown," responded Miri.
"Very curious indeed," said Gerdo, as he walked over to examine it with his monocle. "This is no ordinary Kali trident… I have seen a few similar weapons before. They also had no element within them," said the old man, as he continued to mutter to himself, and examine the trident.
"So how do I use it?" asked Miri.
"There is a way, but we're going to need six mages. You're going to become well-versed in all the elements. This trident can channel all of them," replied the advisor.