Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Day: 10/1/991; Time: 3rd hour
Miri and Nia stared at each other intently; suddenly, Nia attacked by throwing her daggers. Miri had no trouble blocking them with her shield, but it was only a diversion. Nia immediately blasted Miri with wind magic; she weakened the attack with her shield, but it was not enough. Miri got knocked back two skars. Nia was not utilizing her full strength, but it was already enough to overwhelm Miri.
"I don't understand. Why did you give us the Emerald?" asked the confused Miri.
"I've completed my assignment. We don't need it anymore; keep it safe from those that would use it again. At least tell your friend to keep it safe; you aren't coming back alive!" yelled Nia.
She cast a powerful wind spell directly at Miri. The girl used her shield and her trident to block the attack. The trident's lightning and Nia's winds fought against each other for several seconds before dissipating. Nia did not hesitate and continued to fire off wind magic; Miri used all her might to repel the attacks with lightning. This exchange lasted for almost a minute and ended with the two girls gasping for air.
Finally, Miri said, "I know how you feel, Nia. I once suffered the same loss."
"How can you know how I feel?! The Blades of Malice have slowly killed off all of my friends! If only this war never happened!" declared Nia.
"Wasn't this war your idea?! My friend Esca was killed by one of your members; I have never forgotten that day! She died because of that stone that you used today!" yelled Miri.
"Then you know why I must take your life today!" yelled Nia as she knocked back Miri with a blast of wind.
"You have no right for revenge after taking so many lives!" declared Miri.
Nia stopped fighting and began to cry. "Perhaps, you're right. But I cannot just let Kira's murderer get away! Her blood cries for vengeance!" she proclaimed.
The two girls exchanged attacks for almost a minute. Amalia watched intently and waited for an opportunity to intervene and protect Miri. But her assistance was not required; it quickly became clear that Nia was overexerting herself and fighting beyond her natural limits. Miri blasted her back with some lightning and knocked her to the ground. She ran up to the heavily injured Nia and pointed her weapon at her throat.
Miri stood there and contemplated whether she should deal the final blow. But something inside of her told her to let Nia go.
"Kill me! Avenge the fallen! All my friends are dead! I have nothing else to live for," screamed Nia. Despite her bold words the fear was evident in her eyes; the girl was trembling.
Miri kept her trident pointed at the girl; her hand shook as well. She could not end Nia's life. Miri still had trouble coming to terms with the fact that the girl in front of her was the one that destroyed the city. After several seconds of silence, Miri finally spoke up, "No, you will live. You must atone for your crimes."
Nia's eyes lit up and she began to cry. "How can I atone for so many lives?! Tell me?!" she stammered.
"I don't know. That's for you to figure out," answered Miri as she began to put away her trident. As she was doing that, a giant beast appeared out of nowhere and almost impaled her with its black horn. Miri saw it approaching her with her peripheral vision and guarded just in time. The attack pushed her back a good distance and almost penetrated her shield.
The snarling beast that almost killed Miri was a large brown horse with red eyes and a black horn on its head. The most startling thing about the creature was that it was more than twice as large as a regular horse and it had eight legs. It was a monstrosity and clearly far more powerful than a mere animal. The beast glared at Miri and looked like it was about to charge again.
Without hesitation, it rushed at Miri and tried to impale her several times. She tried to dodge and block it, but the large monster was uncharacteristically agile. Amalia set up barriers to protect Miri, but the wild beast broke through with no trouble. She could barely block his horn thrusts with her trident and shield. This assault lasted for almost half a minute, before Nia intervened: "Wotan! It's okay. I'm unharmed, you can stop now!" The beast ignored his master's commands and continued to attack Miri. Nia was too weak to control him in her current state.
Suddenly, several giant branches smacked Wotan and pushed the horse away from Miri. Morro and five of his allies had returned to aid the girls.
"I hope you are doing well," said Morro.
"Sort of… Thanks for saving me, Morro," said Miri. She looked around and noticed there were two fewer Elm than last time.
Morro noticed her concern and replied, "They did not die in vain; it was all to protect the peace in Ethos."
Miri did not say anything and turned around to face Nia and the horse. "Your horse isn't listening to you, Nia. We're going to have to be a little rough with it!" said Miri.
She ran towards Wotan, alongside the Elm. Miri shot out lightning and the Elm threw their punches. The horse stomped his foot and earthen spikes shot out from under the ground. The Elm and Miri jumped back and avoided the attacks. The horse was a rare magical beast. Ordalia had warned her that the Blades of Malice had control of such powerful creatures.
For over a minute, Miri and the Elm fought against Wotan, but neither side would concede. They were only tiring themselves out. The horse was very protective of Nia and was determined to slay her enemies. Finally, the needless battle ended when a man dressed in a red cloak appeared and ran towards Nia. Even Wotan calmed down once he saw the man.
"Nia! Are you okay?! Did they hurt you?" said the black-haired man. He glared at Miri and her companions with his amber eyes. He looked like he was ready to attack at any moment now.
Nia grabbed his arm and said in a quiet voice, "It's okay, Addas. They spared my life; I just can't get Wotan to stop attacking," said Nia.
Addas took a deep breath and looked around the battlefield; he saw Kira's corpse, as well as a few others. Then, his eyes locked with Miri's. The two recognized each other.
"Fancy meeting you here. I trust that Lady Ordalia is safe," said Addas in a sarcastic tone.
"No thanks to you," replied Miri in an equally sarcastic voice.
Addas acted calm, but there was a faint glimmer of rage within his eyes. "You killed one of my men last time, and this time I see several more that have been added to the list. Under normal circumstances, I could never forgive this. But tonight I shall make an exception," said Addas. He clenched his fist, and continued to speak, "You spared Nia's life. For that I am truly grateful, but if we are ever to meet on the field ever again, I will show you no mercy," said Addas in a threatening tone.
Morro replied in a loud voice that echoed in everyone's minds, "This woman has caused great damage to the land; Ethos itself demands retribution!" The usually calm and forgiving Morro felt quite different when the fate of the world lay in the balance. His Elmic sense of justice had finally revealed itself.
"So, you refuse?" said Addas, as he began to accumulate mana in his fists.
Amalia tried to defuse the situation and said, "Nia is harmless! She won't attack us again!"
Morro and the Elm readied their fists and got ready to attack. "As long as she holds the Emerald, she is a threat to all of Ethos!" declared Morro.
"Wait! There is no need for any more bloodshed! Nia gave us the Emerald willingly; she has no intentions of continuing to fight for the Blades of Malice," said Miri as she put her arm in front of Morro.
The Elm calmed down and Morro asked, "Is this true?"
"Show them the Emerald, Amalia," said Miri. Amalia pulled out the bleak stone and showed it to the Elm. They were in awe at the sudden revelation.
"Very well, do as you please, Miri. We will spare the lives of these enemies before us," said Morro.
"If Nia gave you the stone, then it must mean she trusts you with its fate. Keep it safe," said Addas.
"I intended to destroy it!" said Miri as she shook her trident.
"Good luck with that; I've already tried that route. Karsite is the hardest material on Ethos," replied Addas with a smirk on his face. He helped Nia get up off the ground, and walked her over to Wotan. He put her on the horse and said, "Go back to camp; I have some unfinished business to take care of. I'm going to end this battle."
Wotan neighed and Nia gave a weak smile. "Thank you, Addas for coming for me. Please come back safe," she whispered. Addas smiled, and replied jestingly, "Of course. You know that nothing can stop me when I get serious." Nia rode Wotan away from the battlefield; her part in this war was over.
"Sorry, I would love to chat and catch up with you girls and Elm, but I have to go now," said Addas. He channeled mana energy to his feet and sprinted towards the direction of the castle. Addas' use of magic allowed him to move even faster than a horse; he was gone before Miri and her companions could say, "goodbye."
"That man was very powerful; it is a good thing we did not have to fight him," said Morro.
"As someone that has fought him before, I agree. He could have easily killed all of us. I have never seen abilities such as his before," said Miri as her hands shook.
"So what do we do now?" asked Amalia.
"We destroy the Emerald," said Miri as she walked over to Amalia. She gave Miri the stone and waited in anticipation at what her friend was going to do with it.
Miri placed it on a nearby rock and stabbed it several times with her trident; she couldn't even scratch the surface. The Karsite stone remained resilient. She then told everyone, "Stand back, I'm going to take a more aggressive approach." After everyone was out of the way, she shot the stone with the strongest lightning attack that she could still muster. It was futile, for the stone refused to break.
"It is just as the man had said, karsite is unbreakable. Perhaps we can take the stone and research a method using ancient Elmic texts?" asked Morro.
Miri thought for a moment and said, "This stone has probably existed for several centuries, is there really a method? I suggest we leave the stone somewhere no one would ever look. The stone would be lost for all eternity."
Morro asked, "Do you know of such a place?"
"Yes. I will throw it into the Great Sea, where the hands of greedy men will never reach," replied Miri.
Morro and his allies discussed Miri's plan amongst themselves and agreed. "Very well. I leave the stone's fate in your hands, young one. Our part in this battle is over. If Ethos' life force is ever in danger again, then we shall return. If any of the other stones are discovered by evil men, the Elm shall join the battle. Farewell, Amalia and Miri," said Morro. He smiled and waved his wooden arm; it was peculiar to see a tree-like being smiling. But Miri and Amalia had gotten used to peculiar things and oddities during their travels; Ethos was a large and diverse world. Miri and Amalia waved back and smiled; the girls still couldn't believe their mission was a success. The Emerald was theirs. The Elm marched slowly towards the castle; they were going to assemble the rest of their brethren and begin their long journey home to the Dusk Mountains.
The girls found a nearby house and took shelter. They had the Emerald, but the battle was far from over. Loud battle cries echoed throughout the city; the war was still being waged. Amalia healed Miri's wounds with her remaining magic power and they both rested for almost an hour; it was too dangerous to move about in their present condition. But staying in one place was not safe either. Eventually, Miri made the decision to leave after noticing that the yelling had died down. The two girls began their trek towards the eastern section of the city; they needed to get out of Gamma as soon as possible, and preferably undetected.