Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Day: 10/1/991; Time: 2nd hour
Miri and Amalia had arrived in Gamma a few days earlier. King Janus received an anonymous letter warning him of the Blades' attack. It was thanks to the letter that the city was evacuated on time and the three houses' armies could arrive on time to aid Gamma.
There were many armies gathered outside Gamma that night: The Gamma knights numbered 20,000. The three major houses supplied another 12,000. The rest of Charon was only able to send 5,000 soldiers that could make it on time for the fight. There was also an army comprised of members of Advent as well as many unaffiliated mercenaries. They numbered only 1,500; all of them were at least Mythril class fighters. This was not a battlefield for rookies; the inexperienced had enough sense to stay away. Finally, there was an Elm army numbering over 1,500. Even the weakest of them was as strong as five grown men; they were frightening and valiant fighters that never tired.
All of these armies put together created a large force, but they knew not to underestimate the Blades of Malice. They did not know what to expect from their secretive enemies. They kept their troops spread out in case the Blades had any tricks up their sleeves. This way, they could be stopped from any direction. The troops all waited in anticipation, hoping that it was only a false alarm and that the red cloaks would never arrive.
The girls waited patiently until it was the right time to strike. Miri was fighting as a mercenary hired by House Isles, but she had her own personal reasons for taking part in the battle. She wanted to seize the Emerald and destroy it in order to prevent any further tragedies. Miri did not want anymore innocent lives to be taken. Ordalia and Lloyd were unaware of her intentions; all Isles' troops were tasked with securing the Emerald and bringing it back to Castle Isles. This did not sit well with Miri; the past few months had taught her to be distrustful of nobility. If the powers of the Emerald were as great as the ancient texts claimed they were, then the stone should not belong to anyone.
Amalia was tagging along so that she could protect her friend and heal the wounded. She wanted to make herself useful without having to take any lives. Amalia had grown a lot during the past four months; she was now a competent healer and a great addition to Isles' forces.
Miri was already a fine warrior, but still improved greatly after being trained by Lloyd and Morro. She now had a turquoise shield with Isles' sigil on it and an improved Astral Trident. With the help of Gerdo and a few elite mages, she was able to unlock her weapon's hidden abilities. Miri was anxious to test them out in battle.
The two girls had been waiting in anticipation for over an hour. Finally, they saw a young girl in a red cloak flying over the city. She stopped somewhere in the middle and held up a green stone in her right hand; it began to shine brightly and resonate. Miri recognized the Emerald, but she had yet to see its powers in action. The stone began to glow brightly and continued to pulsate for almost a minute. The girl holding the stone looked like she was in pain; she was holding the Emerald with both hands and was barely able to contain its powers.
The armies inside the city could now hear the sound of a loud rushing wind. A few seconds later, five large tornadoes formed in different parts of the city and began to destroy its beauty. Miri and over 30,000 others looked on in horror; the stone was able to manipulate natural phenomena. It was a visible manifestation of the Light's full unbridled power and was far in excess of the level attainable by mortal men. Although, Gamma's defense force was in shock, they quickly realized that they were in danger and started looking for shelter. Miri and Amalia ran into a nearby house that looked sturdy and hid; it was their only option given the circumstances. It seemed like an eternity, but the sound of the tornadoes thrashing the city only lasted for a few minutes.
However, that short time frame was long enough to greatly alter Gamma's topography and destroy many residential and commercial districts. Many historical monuments that survived for centuries came crashing down that night; the tornadoes effortlessly tore them apart. The city quickly became covered in rubble, broken glass, and anything else that got caught in the winds. The Tornados indiscriminately crushed anything in their path.
Eventually, the howling screams subsided and the girls left the basement that they were hiding in. When they emerged, they were surprised to find out that they were outside. The building that they were in had been completely swept away by a tornado. They were greeted by a foreign landscape; it was hard to believe that the city had changed so much in just a few minutes.
The girls fell to their knees when they saw what had become of the city. They knew that the stones were dangerous, but the ancient writings could never have prepared them for what they saw that night. It was too late for regrets.
Miri slammed her fist into the ground; her gauntlet was the only thing protecting her from a broken hand. "Why?!" screamed Miri. The rhetorical question echoed throughout the city; there was no answer. No mortal being had an answer to Miri's inquiry. "This wasn't supposed to happen!" she exclaimed. "Perhaps if the houses only worked together they could have retrieved the Emerald before it could be used against them," thought Miri to herself. But there was too much distrust among the great houses of Charon. There were too many agendas and too much self-interest. Miri's worst fears had been confirmed; the stone was too powerful and it needed to be destroyed.
Amalia began to cry; she knew that many souls would perish that night. "I can't save them all!" she screamed inside her head. Unfortunately, the girl's introspection was cut short; the tornadoes had not yet dissipated.
They both heard a loud rushing sound off in the distance; the tornadoes were now approaching Gamma Castle. As they gazed upon the castle, they could see the five tornadoes merge together into one. The Emerald's current owner was preparing for the grand finale. The large swirling mass of wind was about to destroy the oldest castle in all of Ethos. It was the symbol of humanity's achievements and progress and of civilization at its peak. The Blades of Malice were trying to undo everything and begin anew; humanity was to start all over from the very beginning. Gamma Castle was the greatest display of the corruption that the Blades wanted to root out.
The large tornado was just moments away from destroying the castle. But King Janus was not about to hand the castle over so easily. He stood outside the castle's 8th floor balcony and held his ground. The king's dark-blue eyes showed no fear; he held out his golden-tipped lance in front of him and stared at the whirlwind in front of him. "Now!" he exclaimed.
Suddenly, a giant wall of water materialized in front of the castle. It was 10 skars in height; this was tall enough to block the castle from any harm coming its way. Everyone in the city gawked at the wall of water; it was a sight to behold. The tornado kept ramming into the wall, but failed to make any noticeable progress. It only splashed some water around.
The wall of water was powered by 40 of Charon's finest water mages; five on each of the eight floors held their hands out while chanting fervently. If it were not for these warriors, the castle would certainly have fallen. Years of intense training had prepared them for this day when they could defend their homeland. They bravely stared at the danger before them.
This water vs. wind battle lasted for less than a minute. In the blink of an eye the tornado dissipated and ceased to exist. Miri and Amalia did not have time to process what had just occurred. They next thing they heard was a young woman's shriek from the center of the city. The girls quickly looked over in that direction and saw a red-cloaked girl falling from the sky; the Emerald had finally overpowered the caster. The glowing green light of the stone had gone out. Miri and Amalia breathed a sigh of relief; they were hoping that the worst was behind them.
However, they did not have a long time to rejoice. In less than a minute after the shriek from the sky, the sound of galloping hooves and battle cries could be heard from the city's entrance. The girls looked over and saw torches illuminating the red banner of the Blades of Malice; there was a blade surrounded by two wings on it. The prelude to the battle was over; the real fight had only just begun.
Miri did not have a lot of time to think about what to do next. Thankfully the city was large and maze-like in many locations; the girls had a head start. It would be a while before the red-cloaks reached them. They could claim the Emerald before the Blades could regroup with the caster. Miri looked at Amalia and they both nodded in agreement. The girls ran towards the location of the falling girl.
It took several minutes to get there, but reaching their destination was the easy part. Much to the girls' dismay, the Emerald's wielder was not alone. Perhaps the darkness of the night hid her allies' presence. The young silver-haired girl that was responsible for trashing the city was resting on top of a green cloud. This was the spell that broke her fall and it was cast by one of the nine wind mages protecting her. They were her bodyguards and levitated beside her during the summoning of the tornadoes. They may have even had an impact on the strength of the spell.
Miri and Amalia were ill-prepared to fight against such a large number of specialized veterans. But Miri was feeling bold at that very moment; perhaps this confidence was the product of her training and new abilities. Amalia was a bit hesitant, but her bestfriend's courage empowered her.
The blue-armored warrior, Miri, brandished her white-pronged trident. Amalia took out her white flail and took a defensive stance. Their enemies were amused by the girls' resolve.
"Foolish girls! You should leave if you know what is best for you!" declared a brown-haired female mage. The girls didn't budge from their location and stood there in silence.
"Fine! I'll take care of this myself! The rest of you stay back and protect Nia," exclaimed the female mage. She drew closer to the girls and immediately started firing off wind blasts at Miri.
Miri was able to dodge them, but the loud sound caused by the attacks was making it difficult to concentrate on attacking. Each blast was strong enough to heavily damage a small house and the woman did just that on a few occasions. The mana in the air greatly amplified all forms of wind magic. Miri could not afford to get hit or risk a fatal injury.
She dodged a few more times, but was not able to get away from the last attack. Prior to being struck, she blocked the attack with her shield. Miri avoided a serious injury, but was sent flying backwards a good distance and landed on her back. Castle Isles' shields were specifically designed to reduce damage from wind and water magic. Lloyd gave her the shield knowing that it would be useful at such a time as this. The turquoise shield in her left hand was instrumental in keeping her alive tonight.
Miri got up within a few seconds and was ready for round 2. The female wind mage looked irritated. She continued to cast wind spells as Miri ran towards her while dodging her attacks. It was a fool's errand; Miri was about to get hit once more and this time she could not raise her shield in time. But there were others that were looking out for her. Just as Miri was about to get hit, a glowing white wall appeared in front of her and blocked the wind blast. It took a few seconds, but the wind finally dissipated.
Miri looked over at Amalia in awe. The golden-haired priestess smiled at her friend in return. Amalia's training had paid off; she had successfully learned Shield magic. The ability to heal her allies was useful, but now she could prevent tragedies before they even occurred. The mana cost was high though; Amalia was looking a bit tired already. It was not a spell that could be cast multiple times in quick succession, especially when deflecting such a powerful spell.
The female mage was starting to get agitated. "Why won't you die?!" she yelled. She then looked over at Amalia and smirked; the woman had the eyes of a killer. She began to lift up her arm and was preparing to fire off another attack.
Miri recognized those eyes; the woman wore the same facial expression that Nana had just before she murdered Esca. Miri was not about to allow history to repeat itself; she was not going to let Amalia die tonight. As long as Miri was alive she would guard her best friend with her life. Miri pulled out her trident and let out a battle cry. Her trident shot out a blast of electricity and knocked the mage back about 2 skars. The attack was fatal; it hit the woman directly in the chest. She gasped for breath for a few seconds and then died. She did not have a lot of time to ponder what had just occurred.
It was now Amalia's turn to have a surprised look on her face. Miri had picked up a few tricks of her own; she had overcome one of the main weaknesses of a melee fighter: range. Miri could now defeat enemies from a distance. She wanted to keep her best attacks for the boss fight, but the mages were a serious enough threat to warrant it.
The other mages were in shock; they had underestimated the young girls' abilities. This time, seven of them attacked her at once, while one of them guarded Nia, their commander. Miri took a defensive stance and waited for her enemies to draw near. Several shots of wind magic were fired in her direction and she whirled her weapon around in hopes of deflecting the attacks. Miri partially succeeded; the trident's electricity negated most of the attacks, but there was enough force left to send her flying back; she crashed into a nearby wall that had yet to be completely destroyed. Miri did not damage any vital organs, but she struggled to get back up. She began to realize the arrogance of attempting to take on seven elite mages all at once.
Amalia saw her friend in dire need and quickly chanted a spell; she had yet to reveal everything that she had learned in the past few months. Their enemies now gazed upon the sight of three Miris and three Amalias all running away in different directions. Miri needed a split second to comprehend why there were two extra copies of her, but after realizing the reason, she quickly spotted the real Amalia and ran away with her. The girls ran for about 20 seconds and then hid behind a nearby building. Amalia's spell had worn off; she was utilizing her powers to the max, but it was taxing her mana reserves. They would not be able to keep this type of battle up for very long; the girls needed a strategy if they were to win.
They both looked worn out, but Miri's light-blue eyes showed her fierce determination. "They're too strong! We can't get anywhere near them!" exclaimed Miri as she clenched her fist.
"Maybe we should wait for reinforcements. We can't take them on all by ourselves," said Amalia in her sweet voice.
"We can't wait. There is no one that we can trust; neither the blades nor any of the great houses of Gamma have noble intentions. The stone's fate cannot be entrusted to them. Tonight's calamity will continue to repeat itself as long as the Emerald exists," said Miri in a somber voice.
Amalia nodded, and then replied, "Do you have any plans? Knowing you there must still be at least one more trick up your sleeve, Miri."
Miri chuckled and responded, "Yes, I do think there is a strategy that might work. Follow me, Amalia."
They made their way back to the battlefield, but made sure to stay above ground level as much as possible. Miri wanted a good view of her surroundings. When they approached they noticed that the mages were all scattered in different directions; they were scouting the area and searching for enemies. One mage continued to guard Nia. The mages were now separated from each other; Miri could handle a one-on-one fight, especially if she could ambush the enemy. The girls got on top of a building and waited for the right opportunity to strike.
Amalia used some illusion magic to dampen the sounds that they made as they moved around; being discovered was not an ideal situation. The night might have concealed their movements, but it made it difficult to spot their enemies as well. Miri peered into the darkness and waited for her prey to show up. One of the perks of having Kali blood was enhanced eyesight; it was nowhere as good as the Neko's night vision, but it was sufficient for the occasion.
Finally, a red-cloaked make appeared. He passed by the building unaware of his hunter's presence. Miri took a deep breath and jumped off the building with her trident and plunged it straight into the heart of her enemy. The man managed to let out a scream that lasted one second before Miri put her hand over his mouth. He struggled, but she held him down and he died a few seconds later. Miri had claimed her second kill of the night, but her job was far from over. The male mage managed to alert a few of his allies prior to his demise. Miri dragged the man's body into a nearby house, in hopes of concealing her presence.
Miri and Amalia ran away from the crime scene and found another nearby house from which to strike their foes. It was smart to keep moving and not to stay too long in one location. Amalia's illusion magic was helpful at times like these. They were able to take out two more mages with Miri's aerial attacks.
The girls' guerilla warfare was effective, but it was not foolproof and it was time consuming; time was not a luxury that they had. The Blades of Malice and any member of Charon's great military force could arrive at any moment. Miri was growing impatient; she finally told Amalia, "Let's go for the commander! We're running out of time."
Before Amalia could stop her, Miri was already quietly running towards the location of the sleeping silver-haired girl. Nia was still sleeping on the green cloud; the Emerald had drained her of all of her strength. She was an easy target to take out in her current state.
Miri got on top of a building that was right above Nia and looked down at her defenseless body. Nia's face looked like it was in agony; the girl had been crying. The sight startled Miri for a moment, but she quickly regained her composure and began to plan her attack. The young black-haired female guarding her commander was oblivious to Miri's presence.
Unfortunately, Miri had waited too long. Several seconds earlier, the other four mages had entered the area. They were returning from their rounds after deciding that there were no intruders in the nearby area. They were wrong because Miri had already slain three of their allies and was about to claim even more lives.
The situation had grown more complicated for Miri; she now had to take out five enemies. But it was still better than having to fight the nine that they started with. Her odds of success were now better than ever before. She only needed to wait for the right moment. The mages all gathered around the slumbering Nia and began to discuss what they should do next.
"The others haven't returned yet. There is also no sign of the two girls. It's safe to say that they ran away," said a brown-haired man.
"We can't be too sure… It's suspicious that the others aren't here yet. Let's have another look around," said a blonde woman.
"The sound of hooves and yelling is getting closer. We can't stay here any longer. We need to take Nia with us and get out of here," replied the brown-haired man.
"Agreed," said a silver-haired man.
Miri realized that she needed to act now or forever miss her opportunity. The mages were all conveniently located next to each other and stood in a circle. Miri seized the moment and jumped off the building, plunging her trident into the ground; the impact caused an electrical shockwave to blast all of her enemies and throw them back a good distance. She had learned an "Area of Effect" move while training at Castle Isles. It was the only way she could take on several enemies at once.
Four of the mages suffered minimal damage, but the young black-haired girl standing closest to Nia shielded her commander with her own body. She gasped for air and coughed out blood, but continued to protect Nia.
Miri did not hesitate for a moment and thrust her trident at the black-haired girl. The black-haired girl did not hesitate either and shot out lightning from her hand. Miri was not expecting any retaliation and barely had enough time to block the attack with her shield; she was sent flying backwards about 2 skars, but got up quickly. Miri was not the only one capable of using the rare lightning magic; she had once again underestimated her enemy's strengths because of her impatience.
The other mages had already gotten up and aimed their spells at Miri; She whirled her trident around and canceled everything that came her way with electrical currents, but this defensive strategy could not last for long. She was not a natural-born mage; Miri was a fighter and only started learning mana control and conservation last month so that she could unleash the full potential of her trident. Amalia was standing nearby, but even she would not be able to help out for very long. The logical thing would be to run away again; the girls were about to do just that, but the mages were not going to let them get away this time. They were irate.
"You killed them, didn't you?! That's why our friends have not returned yet!" screamed the blonde woman.
"We will not go so easy on you this time! Prepare to die!" screamed the brown-haired man.
Just as all five mages were about to fire off their spells, Amalia noticed that Morro's tree branch was glowing. In the next moment several giant tree-like arms knocked back four of the mages casting wind spells. They all smashed into stone walls or piles of rubble. However, the black-haired lightning caster was still standing behind Miri and almost hit her, but Miri still had enough strength to deflect one attack with her shield.
The Elm had arrived; Morro was accompanied by seven of his companions. Miri and Amalia looked very relieved to see them. "Greetings, little ones. Allow us to take care of those four. You can handle the lightning caster. Remember, the Emerald must be seized at all costs," said Morro in his deep and mellow voice. As usual, the Elm spoke telepathically.
Miri had forgotten that there was one group of warriors on the battlefield that fought for the future of Ethos and its people: the Elm. They were her only allies and the only ones that she could entrust with the Emerald's future. It was her good fortune that they arrived before anyone else. But it was only a matter of time before soldiers from Gamma, or worse yet, the Blades of Malice, arrived onto the scene.
Miri spoke, "Thank you, Morro. We couldn't do this without you. Be careful… they have the elemental advantage over you."
"Of course, but there is not much we can do about that. It is the season of wind after all, but we must still fight. We will buy you some time, children," replied Morro.
Amalia didn't have much time to say hello to Morro and only waved her arm and smiled as she ran towards Miri. The two girls now stood before the lightning mage and the Elm were walking towards the fallen mages.
The black-haired girl refused to budge from her location; it was as if Nia was more than just her commander. She was protecting her as if she was a close friend; her eyes glared back at Miri and Amalia. Miri noticed this, but did not have time to give it much thought. She brandished her weapon and drew closer to the lightning mage.
In the blink of an eye, both Miri and the girl threw out their right arms and fired off lightning magic. The two attacks hit each other and were at a stalemate; both girls continued to pour energy into their attacks, but nobody was winning the duel. After a few seconds, the black-haired girl raised her left hand and shot Miri with it. Miri almost didn't make it, but she lifted up her shield arm and blocked the attack. She avoided a severe injury, but she lost her balance and her stomach got grazed by the enemies lightning. Miri held back her screams, and tried to regain her footing as quickly as possible.
She held out her weapon in front of her and began to breathe deeply. The lightning mage was definitely the strongest of the group; she was a worthy guard for the commander. Miri muttered under her breath, "I guess we won't be able to win this one the honest way."
Amalia nodded with a serious expression on her face and began to chant a spell quietly, so as not to be heard. Miri ran forward with her trident at the black-haired girl and yelled really loud; the girl was rather startled, but still managed to fire off an attack. The lightning strike hit Miri directly in the heart; the girl presumed that she had won the battle. Much to her dismay, the image of Miri turned into a mist and disappeared.
The lightning mage looked on in shock; unfortunately, it took her too long to realize that she had been tricked. She turned around and was about to strike Miri. But Miri was already behind her and just a moment away from thrusting the girl through with her weapon. The young black-haired girl was stabbed in the back in the next moment. She coughed up some blood and said earnestly, "Forgive me, Nia. I have failed you. Please run as far away as you can. Forget about the Blades of Malice! Save yourself!" The girl dropped to her knees and then fell on top of Nia's slumbering body.
It was a surprise that Nia was able to sleep amidst all of the chaos and fighting nearby, but the fallen body of her friend lying on top of her was enough to finally awaken her. Nia opened her emerald-green eyes and cried out in terror when she saw the dead body on top of her. "Kira! What happened?! Speak to me!" screamed Nia. But Kira didn't answer back. Nia began to weep bitterly.
Miri was taken aback at the sight; Nia truly cherished her comrade. She looked at Nia and saw a young and innocent-looking girl with short silver hair and olive skin. Her appearance did not look threatening; it was hard to believe that she was the one that nearly destroyed Gamma. It was unknown at this time how many lives had been lost from the Emerald's massive winds.
The sight before her reminded Miri of that tragic night that took place less than five months ago in the depths of the Emerald Jungle. Back then, Miri was the one weeping bitterly. Her eyes started to tear up, but Miri quickly regained her composure. "Now is not the time for this. I need to get the Emerald or these tragedies will continue to happen," thought Miri to herself.
After almost a minute of crying, Nia was finally starting to accept reality. Nia's hands were now covered in her friend's blood. She stopped clutching Kira's corpse and put her body down on the ground. Miri was growing impatient, but allowed Nia her short grieving time.
Nia got up off the ground and wiped away her tears. She started to look around at the post-apocalyptic landscape before her; Nia's tears started to flow once more. "Why?! When will it be enough, Dios?! Is this bloodshed really necessary? Is it really worth it?" she screamed so hard that her voice went hoarse.
Miri was once again amazed at what she saw and heard. Nia was not the kind of person that Miri envisioned her to be. Apparently, not all members of the Blades of Malice were as cruel and vicious as Nana. The organization had people within it that possessed different opinions. Perhaps, there were some that opposed the attack on Gamma. But history could not be unwritten; the consequences were before their eyes. It was a fact that Nia brought calamity upon the city.
The silver-haired girl stopped screaming and looked over at Miri; she eyed her intently and was particularly curious about the blood dripping from Miri's trident. "So, it was you! You killed Kira!" said Nia. Her natural tone of voice was sweet and soothing, but there was currently too much anger mixed in. Nia's eyes darkened as she stared at Miri. She let out a loud shriek and allowed her power to freely manifest itself around her. The winds around Nia's body were powerful enough to make Miri lose her balance and get thrown backwards.
"She's not even casting a spell yet!" thought Miri to herself, as she had her back pressed against a wall. Finally, Miri understood why this girl was made a Commander in the Blades of Malice. Her powers were frightening; Miri could not even get close to her right now.
Nia stopped yelling and regained her composure. She looked down at Kira's dead body once more and said to Miri, "I guess this is the cost of war; you were only doing your duty. But I can't help but want to get revenge."
"Fine. You have the right to take my life, but I'm not going down without a fight! I still need to take the Emerald from you! It needs to be destroyed… too many have already died because of it," said Miri, as she clutched her trident.
Nia's light-green eyes opened wide; she was surprised at this development. She did not know that there were those in Ethos that sought to destroy the stone instead of using it to fulfill their own agendas. Nia looked at Miri intently, as if trying to ascertain the truth. Then, she looked at Amalia with the same intent. Finally, she said, "You do not have the eyes of liars. It is probably for the best if I give the Emerald to you. Keep it safe; as you know very well, there are many who would use it for evil." She went over to Kira's corpse and took the stone from the girl's pocket. Kira was keeping the Emerald safe for Nia after she lost control of it in midair.
Then, Nia tossed the stone in Amalia's direction. The priestess did not have much time to react. She fumbled the Emerald, but eventually grabbed hold of it. Both Miri and Amalia looked at Nia in awe; the silver-haired girl did not stop surprising them with her actions.
Nia took off her red cloak and tossed it aside; she was wearing lightweight armor underneath. She also pulled out two daggers and looked like she was ready to fight. Under normal circumstances she would have fled the field of battle already, but Kira's death was still fresh in her mind.
Miri looked at Nia with a serious expression on her face. She pulled out her trident and got ready for another fight. Miri was already exhausted after all of the prior battles, but she would have to hold out for one more. It was going to be a very long night.