Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Day: 10/1/991; Time: 3rd hour
While Miri was off searching for the Emerald, the rest of the city was in chaos. The Blades of Malice and Charon's forces clashed in several locations throughout the city. It was difficult to say who was winning; both sides fought fiercely. There was no room on the battlefield for those that lacked resolve. The Emerald's tornadoes did a good job of chasing away the weakest of the warriors. Many of the mercenaries fled as soon as the battle began; only the bravest were willing to put their lives on the line for some gold.
However, Castle Isles' troops did not retreat and fought alongside Ordalia and Lloyd. Today was a good day for Ordalia; she was Athena. Her powers could be fully utilized. Athena's goal was the Emerald, but her troops got intercepted by the Blades before she could get anywhere near it. She had no choice but to fight off the enemies before her.
Athena defeated her enemies with earthen spikes and quick thrusts of her Steelpiercer rapier; she was fully capable of taking care of herself. Lloyd and the rest of the council members tried to keep her off the field of battle, but she insisted on joining her troops on the field. Lloyd did his best to keep an eye on her, but her reckless attack style made it difficult to shield her.
After almost half an hour of fighting, Athena exclaimed, "They won't stop coming! I'm wasting too much time here; I need to get to the Emerald!
"Allow me to accompany you, my lady. I shall take 10 good men with me as well. Dari can take over as leader while I'm gone," replied Lloyd. The Warmaster of Isles was not about to allow their ruler to go on a suicide mission.
"Fine. Let's get out of here!" said Athena, as she stabbed through a soldier's steel-plated armor, killing him. She then kicked down another enemy and stabbed him as well. Athena's appearance was deceiving; she did not have the physical strength of most male soldiers, but she more than made up for it with her talent and ingenuity. Her enchanted rapier had no trouble cutting through armor.
Wasting no time at all, Athena got on a nearby war horse and rode towards the center of the city. Lloyd and the others could barely keep up with her. Unfortunately, they were not able to ride for very long before they were stopped by a black flame that sprung out of nowhere. The flame surrounded Athena and her troops and formed a barrier. They could not progress forward and the path behind them was closed as well. The horses got frightened, but Athena and her troops managed to keep them under control and not get thrown off.
From the flames emerged three figures in red cloaks. The middle one appeared to be an old man with gray hair. He wore a black cloak over the red one. Athena felt a very dark and ominous power coming emanating from him. She had a feeling of deja vu, but could not remember where she might have met the man.
The other two figures were a stocky brown-haired woman in her early 30s and a tall young man with short red hair and amber eyes. The woman was carrying a large halberd and the young man had a saber by his side. The gray haired old man appeared to be unarmed, but that did not detract from his menacing aura.
Athena and the others got off their horses and readied their weapons. It was 12 against 3, but it was obvious that their enemies were veterans of war. Casualties were inevitable.
"Who are you?! Get out of the way if you don't want to be stabbed to death!" declared Athena in a bold voice. Her captors did not flinch; the black flames continued to encircle Athena's party.
"It seems that my magic was a success. You do not seem to remember me," answered the black-cloaked old man in a menacing voice
Athena and her soldiers looked puzzled. "Do you know this man?" asked Lloyd.
"No. I don't think I've met him before," replied Athena hesitantly. She could not shake the strange feelings of familiarity and fear that she felt.
"Of course you do not remember me. I made sure of that two years ago when I killed your parents. It's a shame I couldn't finish the job and kill you as well. Your wretched and meddling mother sealed my powers just before she died! It took me two years to finally get them back. Finally, I can tie up loose ends and make sure nobody can get in our way!" exclaimed the gray-haired old man.
Athena and her troops were speechless; they did not know how to respond to the old man's revelation. The man that Athena had been searching for willingly revealed himself at the most unexpected moment. This was the man that almost destroyed the House Isles' legacy in just one night. This was the man that ruined Ordalia's life and split her soul in half, thus creating Athena. The cause of all her pain and suffering was standing before her. There was no way that Athena could restrain herself given the situation. Without a moment's hesitation, she leapt forward with her rapier in front of her. The old man only chuckled and smiled in a sinister way; he showed no signs of fear.
Lloyd did not have a lot of time to react; Athena was quick and nimble. He ran towards her and grabbed her with both arms. She yelled and screamed at the top of her lungs. Lloyd was almost twice her size, but had difficulties keep the feisty Lady of Isles restrained. Athena continued to elbow Lloyd while glaring at the black-cloaked man before her.
"Let me go, Lloyd! I need to avenge my parents! House Isles needs to reclaim its honor!" exclaimed Athena.
"I understand this very well, Lady Ordalia. But charging in recklessly will only get you killed and repeat the tragedy of two years ago. Your parents did not give their lives so that you could die in vain," replied Lloyd in a calm voice.
It took almost another minute of convincing, but eventually Athena calmed down. The three red-cloaks in front of her looked on in amusement during the whole ordeal.
Athena took a deep breath and calmed down. "You can let me go now, Lloyd. I'm okay," she said calmly.
Lloyd ascertained that she had indeed calmed down and let her go. "Forgive me, Lady Ordalia, for grabbing you. I am only keeping my promise to your parents," he said in a dutiful tone of voice.
"It's okay, Lloyd. Keep doing your job; House Isles needs more men like you," said Athena.
Lloyd almost blushed from the compliment, but kept his composure. He readied his sword and shield. His glance was upon the three foes in front of them. Lloyd was ready to defend his Lady at a moment's notice.
"That was a wise decision on your part, Sir Lloyd. I was hoping to have a more extended discussion. It would be a shame to kill off Lady Ordalia so soon," said the old man.
Athena pointed her rapier at the man and yelled, "Who are you?! Why did my parents have to die?!" This time her anger was mixed with sadness; Athena was on the verge of tears.
"I am Dios, Commander of the Blades of Malice. It was I, Dios, that stole your memories! You saw something that you were not supposed to see and learned something that you were not supposed to. I have come to make sure the truth is kept in the dark for as long as possible!" exclaimed the man.
His two allies looked confused. "What truth?" asked the brown-haired woman.
"Do not concern yourself with such things, Beatrice. All will be revealed in time," smirked Dios.
"So, Gerdo was right all along. I did witness some dark secret that night. If only I could remember it! Perhaps my parents' deaths would not have been in vain if I could only recall the memory!" declared Athena boldly as she clenched her fist. The scar on her hand began to hurt; it reminded her of the pain she felt that night when Dios stole her memories. Athena's quest for the Emerald was to be put on hold; it was no longer her priority. She set her sights on defeating Dios.
Lloyd put his arm out in front of her and said, "I know how you feel, but your safety is paramount. We must escape as soon as possible."
Athena gritted her teeth and sprinted forward with her rapier; Lloyd was unable to stop her this time. Her attack was blocked by the red-haired man's sabre. The two exchanged several blows and it quickly became clear that the young man was the better swordsman. Five of Athena's soldiers ran to defend their lady from harm.
"It has begun. I wonder how long you will last against us? Beatrice, go and kill the rest of Ordalia's henchmen. It is a shame that you must die on such a night as this, Sir Lloyd. My apologies," said Dios.
"Do not underestimate the might of Isles' soldiers!" declared Lloyd as he lifted up his blade. He and his men ran towards Dios and Beatrice with their weapons drawn.
They were greeted by Beatrice and her halberd; the bulky woman had no trouble swinging around the large object and blocking several of the knights' attacks. Just as it looked like she was about to be pierced through with several swords, she raised her left arm and surrounded herself with a cloak of fire. The soldiers leapt away from her, but suffered some mild burn wounds.
"I won't be so easy to defeat!" yelled Beatrice. Her loud voice was enough to frighten some of the soldiers. She ran towards them with her flame cloak and they tried their best to defend themselves with their shields. Then she enchanted her weapon with the same flames; her burning halberd was a weapon to be feared. Blocking her flames was all they could do; they lacked a method of attack.
Athena's battle was not going very well either. Despite outnumbering the red-haired man, their attacks had limited effectiveness. He was not only skilled with a blade, but was also a powerful mage. His wind magic blasted them away effortlessly; fortunately, their shields took the brunt of the attacks. Athena's earth magic was easily negated; she was outclassed by the man in every category.
Dios only chuckled and smiled as he held up his hands and kept the barrier of black flames active. He didn't even need to join the fight. The red-haired man and Beatrice continued their onslaught and killed eight of Athena's men during the next five minutes. Athena and Lloyd were fatigued and severely injured by this point in the fight. But Athena's eyes never lost their glimmer of hope; she was fueled by rage.
Athena and Lloyd's prayers were eventually heard; aid from an unexpected source had finally arrived. Just as Beatrice was about to decapitate another soldier with her burning halberd, a torrent of rain poured down on her and knocked her back. Immediately afterwards, the black-flamed barrier began to flicker and disappeared. Dios was irate and looked over to see the culprit. Before him stood a girl with hazel eyes and dark blonde hair in her mid-twenties. She was the holy magic user that nullified his barrier. Next to her stood a girl that appeared to be her younger sister; she had long blonde hair and hazel eyes. This was the water mage that knocked out Beatrice. Dios did not have much time to think about what had just transpired, because in the next instant an arrow surrounded in lightning came out of nowhere and nearly pierced the neck of the red-haired man fighting against Athena.
These uninvited guests had managed to get everyone's attention. The Blades of Malice and what remained of Athena's party all looked in the direction of the newest arrival. The man who had shot the lightning arrow was tall, black-haired, and had amber eyes. He seemed to be the leader of this trio.
"Who are you?! Do not meddle in affairs not intended for you. Begone! Or you will suffer the wrath of the Blades!" exclaimed Dios.
The tall man with the bow ignored Dios and set his eyes upon Athena. "Can we be of assistance, Lady Ordalia? I am Syldor, a member of the "Brywood Seven", a band of mercenaries. The two ladies next to me are Anna and her younger sister Pearl. It seems that you are having some difficulty with these three red-cloaks. Our services come at a price, of course. Consider the earlier intrusion free of charge," said the man in a very diplomatic tone of voice. He spoke like a true mercenary.
Athena was using her rapier as a cane and could barely stand. She looked at the man, smiled, and replied, "Do I really need to answer that question? Prove your worth, Syldor of the Brywood Seven."
"Much obliged to be of service, Lady Ordalia. You shall not be disappointed," said Syldor.
"You call yourselves the Brywood Seven, but I only see the three of you. Where are the rest?" asked Lloyd, who was almost as worn out as Athena.
"My brother, Scythe, is the leader. His fiance Karst is probably with him somewhere on this battlefield. Orkus and Tim are probably making themselves useful and killing some red-cloaks as well. We are a free folk and do as we please. Do not worry, Sir Lloyd; the three of us will be enough for the job," answered Syldor.
"You are welcome to join us then," said Lloyd. He then turned around to face Dios and his two allies; he clutched his sword and tried to look imposing. But it was obvious to everyone that he could barely stand. However, his efforts were not in vain, the three villains before them had all lost considerable mana.
"Okay, girls. Let's take care of these bad guys!" said Syldor, as he shot another thunder arrow at the red-haired man. The man blew it away with his wind.
"Kaito, you can handle that man. Beatrice, I leave the girls to you. Lady Ordalia and her knight will be my prey for tonight," said Dios, as he conjured a black flame in his right hand.
"Anna, you keep an eye on the lady. That dark magic user looks dangerous. We can't have our patron dying on us," said Syldor.
The battle resumed and went on for several more minutes. The trio from Brywood proved to be worthy allies; Syldor relentlessly shot at Kaito with his thunder. The red-haired youth could barely keep up and had difficulty retaliating. Beatrice was far stronger than her opponent, but she could not land a hit on the agile Pearl. The petite girl's water magic was also the perfect counter for Beatrice's flames. Had she arrived several minutes earlier, Athena's soldiers may have been saved. Meanwhile, Anna used her holy magic to diffuse Dios' dark magic. She refused to allow him near Athena and Lloyd, who were incapable of fighting any longer.
The three battles ended in a standstill; nobody could land a decisive blow. It was then that Dios got annoyed and yelled, "That is enough! This battle has gone on for too long! You leave me with no choice. I summon thee, Arok!"
Dios created a dark gate with his hands; a few seconds later, a large white wolf with black eyes emerged from the gate. Storage and teleportation magic were already rare abilities, but transporting such a large beast was unheard of. The white wolf was approximately three times as large as regular wolf. Arok howled; his voice reverberated throughout the battlefield. The sound was powerful enough to strike fear in all but the most valiant warriors. Unfortunately, Dios was still hiding a trick up his sleeves. The advantage was now his.
Arok stomped his front paw on the ground and the ground shook. Athena and the others almost fell over. He then took a step back and shot out a white beam of energy from his mouth in an arc shape. Lloyd leaped out and grabbed the unwitting Athena before the beam hit her. The Brywood trio avoided the beam as well by jumping out of the way. Arok had destroyed several buildings in the area with his attacks.
"Kneel down before the power of the mightiest of the magical beasts! Arok shall make quick work of all of you!" exclaimed Dios.
"Was this really necessary, Commander Dios?! Arok is a wild animal. He cannot distinguish friend from foe!" said Beatrice.
"Do not worry, Beatrice. I will keep his powers in check. All you need to do is guard me while he finishes off our enemies for us," replied Dios smugly.
Arok charged at Athena's party; he swiped at and attempted to bite some of them and almost succeeded on several occasions. The nimble wolf was beginning to leave tears in Anna and Pearl's robes.
"I'll grab his attention," yelled Syldor, as he shot an arrow at the wolf's back. Arok let out a howl and charged after the archer. Syldor expertly dodged the attacks, and allowed the girls some time to charge their magic. Anna pointed her staff at Arok and hit him with a holy beam of light; just as she expected, it was not very effective. Pearl's water magic had limited effectiveness as well. Even Syldor's lightning was leaving the mad beast unfazed. The trio's attacks did little more than annoy Arok, the White Wolf.
"I've never seen such a resilient foe!" said Anna, who was still trying to sound brave.
"What do we do, sister?!" said Pearl, who was starting to panic.
"Do not fear, my ladies. They will be here any minute now; my thunder was the signal. We only need to stall. Scythe will not fail us!" said Syldor.
Syldor's trust in his older brother was not misplaced. A giant black broadsword was swung at Arok's right shoulder just moments after Syldor finished his sentence. The white wolf yelped from the pain and jumped back. The man wielding the black broadsword was Scythe, the leader of the Brywood Seven. He was a tall and muscular man in late 20s; his hair was raven black and his eyes were such a dark shade of brown that they looked almost black. The armor that he wore was also black; everything about this man screamed "I am a Dark Knight." Scythe surveyed the battlefield with his cold eyes and said nothing.
"You finally made it! Let's get these guys, Scythe!" exclaimed Syldor.
Scythe only nodded in agreement and pointed his sword at the growling white wolf in front of him.
Meanwhile, Beatrice grew tired of waiting and decided to slay Athena herself. She ran towards the lady of Isles with her burning halberd and aimed at her head. Lloyd was about to get in front of her and block the strike, but his intervention was unnecessary. A woman with long red hair in her late 20s intervened and conjured a powerful flame. Beatrice stopped and retreated, but not before burning her right arm.
"That is the correct way to use flames, woman!" said the red-haired woman. Her appearance startled everyone present on the battlefield. It was not her beautiful face or figure, nor her light brown eyes that caught their attention. It was her black wings that made everyone except for her friends stare in awe. Kildar blood flowed through her veins, but that still did not explain why her wings were not white. She was a rarity among rarities in the world of Ethos.
Anna and Pearl breathed a sigh of relief. "You finally made it, Karst! We're so glad to see you," said Pearl.
"You did well girls. Now allow us to help you finish the job," replied Karst. Her voice was calm and seductive. She did not seem the type to be easily rattled; Karst and Scythe had seen plenty of battles during their lifetimes.
"I never thought I would receive aid from a Kildar; the world is full of surprises. The Elm joined us to protect Ethos. Do you fight for the same reasons?" asked Athena.
"No, Lady Ordalia. Our intentions are far less noble; protecting Ethos is just a fortunate side effect," answered Karst with a smile.
"I expected nothing more from a mercenary. It is not as if my intentions are very noble either," said Athena, as she faced Dios.
"It seems that we have more uninvited guests. Where do they keep coming from? Wouldn't you rather fight for the winning side," said Dios.
"The Brywood Seven have no interest in fighting alongside terrorists. The Blades of Malice have destroyed too much; you are too reckless. Perhaps you have invoked fear tonight into the hearts of Charon's army with your display of power, but you will never have the respect of the people," said Syldor.
"It's a shame. You would all be welcome additions to our forces. Thankfully, there are those that did not mind forming an alliance with us. Thanks to them, we have 7,000 less troops to worry about. House Eris and Nyr were more than happy to stand by and watch as the tornadoes ripped apart the greatest city in all of Ethos," said Dios in a sadistic voice.
Both Athena and Lloyd gasped, but quickly realized that it was to be expected. "I knew that they wanted the throne, but allying with terrorists was foolish. The beautiful city which they wanted for themselves has been ruined," said Athena.
"You could have joined us as well and saved yourself from this futile struggle, Ordalia. The people wish for this; they want a rebirth for the kingdoms of the world!" declared Dios, as he raised his arms into the air and chuckled.
Athena gritted her teeth and raised her rapier into the air; Dios' words stirred up her spirit. "You disgust me, you vile dog! How do you know what the people of Ethos want?! I will not align myself with those that killed my parents and butchered my men! I want the throne of Gamma just as much as Eris and Nyr, but I will not besmirch the honor of my house to do it!" she declared boldly.
"Truly a shame, Lady Ordalia. Very well, you can die alongside your mercenary friends. It is a strange way to die for a woman of noble birth, but the choice is yours. Let's end this," said Dios nonchalantly.
There was silence for several seconds; everyone was deciding how to proceed with the battle. Finally, Scythe said in a calm voice, "I'll take care of the wolf. You do the rest."
Syldor nodded and ran towards Dios, while firing a thunderbolt at the old man. This was the signal to begin the next round of combat; the field erupted in chaos. Anna joined Syldor and kept Dios at bay. Karst chose Beatrice for her target; it quickly became a battle of flames. This left Pearl and Athena's exhausted troops to take on Kaito. Athena was not going to sit this battle out; she desired revenge.
For several minutes the fighting went on unabated; the forces were evenly matched. Arok was a vicious foe, but Scythe did a good job of stalling and baiting the beast. He made sure to keep his distance because he knew that the white wolf was stronger than any of them. However, Arok lacked in intellect. Scythe had no trouble keeping the beast occupied. His dark magic and scythe were the perfect weapons for fighting the light-elemental Arok.
Karst mocked and provoked the heavy-set Beatrice as they fought. The larger woman couldn't help but be jealous of the red-haired beauty. Karst's lance clashed against the other woman's halberd and their flames both burned brightly. Karst did manage to slash her opponent's face at one point in the battle. Beatrice screamed a few profanities and then continued the fight; this time she purposely aimed for Karst's face in an attempt to get revenge.
Anna and Syldor struggled against the dark mage, even though they kept their distance and used long range magic. Dios was an old man skilled in many dark arts and curses. It was only thanks to Anna's magic that the toxins and plagues could be nullified. Otherwise, Syldor and herself would have already died from Dios' various spells.
Athena, Lloyd, and Pearl fought against the red-haired Kaito, who rarely spoke. He maintained his calm demeanor throughout the fight even though he was outnumbered.
Suddenly, Arok turned back and ran towards everyone else. Scythe had led him out of the battlefield, but the wolf had grown tired of the fruitless battle. As soon as he got within range, Arok stomped his foot and caused a small tremor; he then blasted everyone with his holy arc beam. This time, he did not distinguish friend from foe; Dios had lost too much mana and could no longer control the beast.
"I told you that he was too dangerous to let loose!" screamed Beatrice as she ducked and narrowly avoided the beam of light. Anna cast a barrier and shielded some of her allies from the attack.
Dios muttered under his breath, "Damn! Nothing is going according to plan tonight!" He began to cast a spell and ran towards the wolf. A black portal opened up below Arok and he fell through it; Dios had teleported him away from everyone.
Everyone was exhausted at this point in the fight; few had enough mana to conjure more than a basic spell. "Damn you all!" yelled Dios.
Athena chuckled and said, "I didn't think it would be so easy to defeat the lead commander of the Blades of Malice!"
"This battle is not yet over! I will not go home empty-handed!" said Dios. He raised his right arm and a portal appeared underneath Athena and she fell through it. Everyone gasped and Lloyd exclaimed, "What have you done with her?! Bring back Lady Ordalia this instant!" He pulled out his sword and got ready to charge.
A black portal appeared next to Dios and from it fell out Athena. He grabbed her and smirked. "I will finish that which I was unable to complete two years ago," he cackled and began to cast some spell on Athena. She struggled to fight it, but couldn't. Her body was covered in a dark energy; she screamed and could feel her consciousness waning. Athena felt like she was forgetting something important; many images flashed through her mind, but they instantly became blurs.
Lloyd and the others did not hesitate; they ran towards Dios. Beatrice and Kaito intercepted them, but they were quickly thrown aside by Karst and Scythe respectively. Then, Lloyd grazed Dios with his sword. The dark mage ducked out of the way and dropped Athena. Lloyd caught her and kept her from falling. He then pointed his blade at the chuckling Dios.
"Beatrice, Kaito, we are done here. Consider it a partial victory; it's a shame that House Isles will not be part of our new empire," said Dios. Dark portals opened up and grabbed the wounded Kaito and Beatrice. Then, Dios teleported himself away as well.
The battle was over, but it was unclear at the time what Dios had done to Athena. Lloyd shook her body and pleaded with her to wake up, but she continued to slumber.