Reverie's End: Blades of Malice
Day: 10/6/991; Time: 15th hour
The Blue-winged Kildar were in awe at the new world that they had entered. Some of them wanted to go out and explore the land, but Paul tried very hard to convince them to stay put.
"You can't just go out into the towns. People will see you and that's not good; humans on Ethos aren't very friendly towards Kildar," said Paul to Shiba and Aton, trying to get them to understand the situation that they were in.
"Then what do we do?" asked the young Aton, still eager to explore the world that was denied to his ancestors.
"If we travel southwest for a few days, we can stop at the Zil base. If you pledge loyalty to the Blades of Malice, then we can help you. Otherwise, I am afraid we must part ways here," declared Paul. He had fulfilled his end of the bargain and the Kildar were more than grateful for what he had done for them.
"Very well, Paul. It would be an honor to serve under one such as yourself," said Elder Thalos.
"I do not have any qualms about having you as our leader. The Blue Kildar are forever in your debt," replied Shiba.
"Then it's settled! But I still can't guarantee your safety. We're in Brywood territory right now; these lands aren't part of any kingdom. But there are plenty of thugs and criminals here, so we'll have to be careful and avoid them. Be ready to fight when necessary," said Paul.
The following day, Paul and over 900 Kildar made their journey south. The old Paul would have been cocky and arrogant, but his travels through Lithos had given him a bit of wisdom and some survival skills. It surprisingly made him into a better leader as well; he had a hard time admitting it, but the Kildar had grown on him. Paul was still a tad overconfident at times, but he was the type that enjoyed a good challenge.
It was important that they traveled quickly and avoided the various criminal syndicates in the area. The Brywood Moor to the west was usually safe, but the Rotten Wood to the east was quite dangerous. Even though they took the safer route, it was hard to not attract attention with such a large group of people, especially when they all had wings on their backs.
The inevitable had finally occurred on the fifth day of their journey when they were assaulted by a group of 40, all members of the criminal organization known as Tor. It was easy to recognize what group they belonged to because of the They had been following Paul's group for several days and waited for the right moment to strike. The Kildar were very weary; they had been traveling for three straight weeks with little rest. Tor decided to strike when they were most vulnerable.
But they underestimated Paul, who had powers far beyond what was normal. They also failed to notice the large blue ice phoenix that had remained hidden most of the time. Shiba, Aton, and the other warriors helped out during the fight with their bows and lances, but the majority of the killing was done by Paul and Kurasa.
Kurasa froze the men with his icy breath and Paul melted the frozen corpses with his flames. Only the ashes of the fallen remained; they did not want to leave any evidence. Paul was already a merciless killer before he took his plunge into the realm of Lithos; his travels in the lower world only warped him even further. It was a miracle that he had any shred of kindness still left in his soul and that he hadn't butchered the Kildar when he had the opportunity. Paul must have had some small speck of humanity left in him; it was this that drew the Kildar towards him.
Shiba and the others looked on in awe as Paul fought; they had already witnessed his powers when they were attacked by pirates in the Sea of Traitors, but they still could not believe it. Despite being Kildar, they had very limited powers. Being robbed of Ethos' Light for several centuries had taken its toll on their bodies. Yet, a mere human such as Paul used both Flame and Ice magic effortlessly; Kurasa's powers were an even greater spectacle. They couldn't help but feel jealous and respect their leader even more. He was worthy enough to rule over them.
After a long and exhausting battle the thugs were finally wiped out. Unfortunately, there were casualties on the Kildar side as well. Paul and Kurasa were strong, but even they had trouble fighting against so many enemies in quick succession. Fortunately for them, the Blades' Zil base was only a day's journey away. They rested that night and continued their march the following day with renewed hope.
They had arrived at Zil, one of the Blades' six bases. Zil was a series of caverns on the Brywood-East Valis border that used to house almost 2000 red-cloaks. The failed attack on the Golden City had drained their numbers down to a mere 500. Many of the caves' former residents were either dead or rotting in the Golden City's jails. Those that still lived in Zil were quickly running out of food and were starting to lose hope; some were considering turning themselves in hopes of receiving some form of clemency.
None of them expected Paul's arrival and certainly not with a horde of loyal Kildar right behind him. As soon as Paul and the Kildar approached the cave they were greeted by 10 hostile red-cloaks with their weapons drawn; some were even getting ready to cast a spell.
"Freeze intruders!" yelled one of them.
"Are those Kildar?!" exclaimed another in a bewildered voice.
Paul raised his hands up in the air and smirked. "Is this how you greet a Commander of the Blades?" he asked in a sarcastic tone.
Some of the guards looked at each other puzzled. A young brown-haired woman looked at Paul inquisitively; she noticed that his left eye was scarred and that his left leg was made out of ice. She then looked at his face one more time and recognized the silver hair and amber eyes of her former leader.
"Commander Paul?! Is that you?! Where have you been all this time?! You look awful! Who did this to you?!" she yelled, while almost bursting into tears.
The rest of the red-cloaked guards stared in shock for several seconds; some of them were beginning to recognize him.
"It's a very long story, Eri. I'm not sure you'll believe all of it even if I told you. We can exchange information later, but for now we all need to rest and eat something. It's been a very long journey, especially for me. You have no idea how happy I am to finally see the Light of Ethos, " replied Paul.
"Our supplies are running low. We can hardly feed ourselves… how do you propose we feed all of the people you brought with you?!" said Eri in a very concerned voice.
Paul looked around at the Kildar behind him and said, "Here is your opportunity to prove yourself useful. All able-bodied hunters, come with me! Let's bring back some meat and have ourselves a feast tonight!" declared Paul.
The Kildar were exhausted, but still cheered. They were overjoyed and knew that soon they would finally be able to rest; the Kildar had found themselves a new home.
Paul turned around to face the bewildered Eri and her allies, and said with a smile, "We'll be back in a few hours with enough food to feed all of us for a while. Stay put and get acquainted with your new friends. They're here to stay."
Paul got on Kurasa and flew away; the Kildar hunters did likewise. They scoured the nearby area and managed to bring back deer and other land animals suitable for food. By the time the hunters returned, some of the Blades had already become friends with the Kildar. The girls were playing with the Kildar children and were enamored by their adorable wings and even the adults were beginning to open up to each other. However, some of the Blades' remained suspicious, as was expected.
The Blades of Malice were starving; the feast that night put them in a good mood and renewed their hopes for the future. Once they were sufficiently full, Paul and the Kildar exchanged stories with Eri and the Blades. The stories they told each other kept them up for long into the night; it was almost daybreak by the time they finally went to bed.
The Blades learned of Paul's travels through the lower realm of Lithos and the Blue Kildar's exile to the far north 700 years ago. Paul and the Kildar learned of the current situation in Ethos, including the failed capture of Gamma that took place earlier that month. Even Nia and Addas' desertion was common knowledge among the Blades now. There was plenty for Paul to think about and mull over for days to come. Everyone rested for a few days before another informal meeting between the Blades and the Kildar was held. Paul sat next to Shiba, Aton, and Thalos. Eri was accompanied by three of the Blades. They were going to discuss the next course of action.
"Dart managed to take over Shima? The person I least expected to succeed was the only one that actually accomplished something! Jill, the sadistic wench bit off more than she could chew; can't say I ever got along with her. And those softies, Nia and Addas, finally decided to make a run for it? I guess I came at a good time to fix all of your problems! " laughed Paul.
"This is no laughing matter, Dart and Dios are the only leaders left, besides yourself; it will be a while before Dios can find suitable replacements. We've lost all the stones and two of the magical beasts as well. The Blades are in shambles!" exclaimed Eri.
Paul cleared his throat, and said, "That is why I am here. I will restore the Blades to their former glory; our mission of liberating Ethos is not over. The Blue Kildar army that I have with me is only the beginning; I will consolidate all of our forces together. Nothing shall get in our way."
A young blonde-haired girl asked, "Are they good in a fight?"
"You better believe it! They survived in a land where the Light has little influence. The Kildar will make powerful allies, especially if they regain the ability to use magic effectively," replied Paul. He looked over at Shiba and asked, "How is it coming along, Shiba?"
The Kildar man held out his hands and began to concentrate; a white light formed between his hands. "This is the best any of us can do at the time; it will take more training and acclimation before we can wield magic in combat effectively," answered Shiba.
"If our best mages train them for a few months, they will be an unstoppable force in battle. Kildar are naturals at magic; they only need to regain the powers that they were robbed of," said Paul.
"What will we do once they are ready?" asked Eri.
"We will meet up with Dios' forces in Fire Keep and take over the city during the Season of Flames; the Ruby shall be ours. It might not look like it, but a few months can make a huge difference. We stand a chance at victory," declared Paul.
Eri and her allies were taken aback by Paul's confidence. "I'd normally be skeptical, but seeing Kurasa grow to twice her size in just a few months, your ability to survive a fall off the edge of the world, and this Kildar army with you makes me want to believe in miracles," replied Eri.
"Let's get started immediately then. We don't have a moment to lose," announced Paul.