Chapter 50:

Chapter 40.75: Second Message to Marna, Part Two (Interlude)


From the wavering boundary, the eyes of the hidden bird atop the magic lantern shined—observing and documenting thoroughly—every single movement. It remained a silent and autonomous statue as its focus was fixated on three particular figures in the distance. Toward the imminent chaos, one that would resound to the beckon of a belligerent dance. As Vaalyun situated himself with his shield, Amara ran forth as the vanguard.

“How barbaric the Elven continue to remain after all! An invitation for a civilized discussion, only to be met with acts of aggression? You’re truly making your ancestors proud, Princess!”
“Skill: [Wander of the Eldritch Fog].”

Amara sought to close the gap between herself and Kamui, allowing a white and obscuring smoke to engulf his vision as it immediately cloaked her entirety. It then began to mimic her own appearance, creating feints that were seemingly leaping in different directions as she continued toward him. His smile remained unfazed in response, without a dent in his composure as he began preparing his own trick in kind.

“The freakish and hallucinatory methods of a Phantom, huh? A rare sight to see. So, maybe an eye for an eye—an illusion for an illusion should suffice? [Facsimile].”

At the tail end of his own skill usage, a mirrored effect came into play as Kamui’s body created similar shifts amid his own whitened fog. Yet, it seemed to go even further and beyond Amara’s own display as he was suddenly divided into four. As one remained behind, the other three headed in her direction.

“A rather inept attempt at a deceptive wile, lass.”
“Says you.”

With [Wander of the Eldritch Fog] still active, Amara stopped, now standing her ground in preparation for the incoming clones. She closed her eyes, pulling her downward facing kukri to her chest once more, as she then quietly activated a second skill in tandem the moment they came within her reach.

“Skill: [Necrotic Effluere: Pulse].”

An incautious third eye without form. One centered around probing at the life energy of anyone affected by the slight necrotic echo that stemmed from the now coated kukri. Like a damaging sonar, she sought to find out whether the real Kamui remained behind or truly was one of the three before her. She would feel that twinge from the echo herself, but it wouldn’t be for naught in her mind.


In that split second, her blade shifted from her right to left hand as she immediately attacked the one to her direct left. Given his initial personality, she had a hunch. That Kamui wasn’t the type of person who would simply sit back and watch from a distance. And she stood correct, as the sound of metal connecting with each other filled the air. The clones disappeared, and she had no intention on stopping there either.

“That’s a neat trick you got there, lass! Practically pinching at my own heart!”

A barrage of strikes, with each stab, thrust, slice and connecting chime aiming for his sweet spots—his vitals. And yet, Kamui still managed to evade and block every attack of hers without baring his weapon. He simply toyed with her for the entire duration of her effort, all the while sending slight feints her way until an opening arrived. And as Amara made her mistake, a misstep and stumble, a swift kick to her side connected—sending her toward Vaalyun.

“Quite the flimsy Sword you have there, Princess. Might want to—?!”

Using the momentum of his kick, a stoic Amara then effortlessly pivoted out of the center of the hallway and toward the wall. Replacing her, a staggering force missed her by a thin margin.

“Skill [Shield Rush]!”

Propelling himself forward with his shield aimed at Kamui, Vaalyun was only a second or two away from a direct collision. Kamui had still been in the process of readjusting his stance from the prior kick, thus it was the perfect opportunity to strike. Or so, Vaalyun had assumed.


With a short and sudden flick of his hand, a small blade appeared and made contact with the force of Vaalyun’s shield. It was as if Vaalyun had collided with a wall as his body came to a full stop. His attack was then repelled as he stumbled back in obvious confusion, creating a gap once more between himself and the others.

“Aha! Third law of motion, and then some! A rather close one there. You almost had me—”

Before he could finish his sentence once again, the edge of a sharp object connected with his right cheek. He had moved his head just in time to evade most of it as that same object now punctured a hole in the wall far behind him. A trail of blood made its way toward his chin as his gaze then met the origin of said attack. Her eyes remained in an unwavering, golden glow as she held her weapon toward him. It was a metal fan with a now missing center.

“I see. You still managed to dodge even that, just in time, after all. How contemptible.”
“Ha. Ahahaha! What marvelous synergy! I should have expected as much from the trio that was rumored to have cleared that dungeon. Good, very good. I believe it now! You baited me, one after another, just for that single attempt. And if it had been against anyone else—it may have surely succeeded. But enough with the feelers. How about we all get a bit serious, hm?”

The shift in the tone of his voice was reminiscent to a starter pistol as Amara accepted his challenge, rushing toward him all alone once more. She didn’t have the slightest intention on holding back anymore. Her enmity toward Kamui had already breached the brim from the very start—and the moment he spoke ill of the one she served only furthered that.

“Skill: [Embodiment of the Eldritch Fog], [Necrotic Effluere: Self], [Deathly Grace]. If death is what you seek, then allow me to greet you properly this time.”
“Now, that’s one hell of an eager blood lust you have there, Phantom! Good! It suits you well!”

A faint, white aura now glowed delicately over Amara’s skin like a translucent veil. It shined and meshed, syncing with its additional counterpart—a vague, dark energy. Amara had prompted herself to go all in, facilitating her own trudge toward death in order to receive the consequential boon that was [Deathly Grace]. And once again, her barrage commenced.

“There it is! Your strikes are even faster—far heavier than before too! Show me the unmatched techniques and gambit of a Phantom—of an Elven of Dusk!”
“You...! Skill: [Necrotic Effluere: Burst]!!”

The swaying of her build as she danced around Kamui left afterimages as each strike came with absolute precision. Her once silver kukri was now dyed black, bathed in a negative energy. She already had a feeling each strike would be met with a block, and thus her next skill had already begun to take effect as Kamui suddenly pushed her back with a sudden kick once more.

“This...? Aha... I see now. That exchange allowed for your skill to slowly spread to me, is that it? I can barely move... Quite amusing, the tricks of a Phantom...”
“Unlike myself, your body won’t be able to take that energy for long. Fortunately for you, I don’t have any intention on allowing you to reach that point.”
“Ah. So eager to kill. Seems more like it’s just all talk coming from you though. Shouldn’t your blade already be in my chest by now, Elven of Dusk?”

Kamui’s lips began to move as if he were silently talking only to himself as Amara then closed the short gap between the two of them. She was pushing her skills to their limits as she prompted a feint toward his front. With a swift pivot toward his rear, she the motioned to sink her blade into Kamui’s back. From her perspective, the necrotic energy would prevent him from being able to retaliate at all. This would be the end of him, if not the crucial wound to force him to retreat.

“That’s too bad, lass. All that effort was simply wasted toward the void!”

From his words, to his movement, and all the way to the point where her body was sent flying—she didn’t understand anything. Not a single thing about what had happened nor why. Her body and mind shut down, mid-flight, as she rag-dolled into Vaalyun’s right outstretched arm. Amara was barely conscious as Marna watched on with a now grim expression on her face.

“I had my doubts, but it seems my speculation was correct after all. For an Effigy to have such an obstructing skill as that one... You truly are one to be reckoned with. Vaalyun.”
“I understand. Please leave it to me.”

Vaalyun set Amara off to the side, against the wall, as Kamui watched on with an amused smile. He then nonchalantly walked toward them, now only standing a short distance away from each other.

“That Sword of yours already lost, Princess. What exactly do you expect from this Shield? You should have all came at me together from the start. With that synergy from that loosely string of attacks earlier, you might have even landed a second hit by now.”

Without a single reply to Kamui’s taunt, Vaalyun readied himself as Marna continued to silently observe from behind once more. Vaalyun was still intent on using only his shield for now, and Kamui realized this, he decided to take on the challenge.

“Fine. I’ll just have to break that Shield of yours too!”

A torrential onslaught was put forth, yet Kamui still refrained and refused to show his main weapon of choice. Each strike was a blur as they came in contact with Vaalyun’s shield in swift and unending succession. Even so, Vaalyun didn’t let a single attack make it beyond his defense. Their exchange then came to an abrupt end as Kamui suddenly leapt back. He stood in thought, studying the shield.

“Is that all you have, human jester? I haven’t even drawn my blade yet. Are you giving up already?”
“You really don’t leave any openings at all, do ya? As expected from the Elven Captain. It seems I don’t have any other choice, hm? Roll.”

A short gasp could be heard from Marna in the distance as she immediately held her tongue. Kamui was now brandishing a small orb in his right hand, one that began to magically spin on his command. It then landed in his palm, and his smile spoke volumes.

“Vaalyun! It’s coming!”

It was already too late as Kamui was now in the process of slamming his fist at the center of Vaalyun’s shield. And as they connected, the shield instantly cracked and shattered. There was now nothing in between Kamui and his target as the thrust of his hand aimed at Vaalyun’s chest. Yet, the moment it sunk in even slightly, Kamui became alarmed as he retracted his hand and leapt back to his previous spot once more. In his prior position, the slam of a large sword collided with the ground.

“You really are an issue to fight up close and personal against, Shield. It’s almost unnatural how quick you can react while your chest is getting impaled.”
“And you somehow even dodged that one, human jester. You have a knack for making one’s risks go unrewarded against you.”
“It seems experience does wonders for us both.”

Clutching at his chest, Vaalyun began to probe how deep and life-threatening the attack he received was. Realizing he succeeded in preventing any significant damage done to him, he grumbled.

“It’s quite deplorable to say, but I’d have to agree with you. Though, I’ve never gone against someone like you before. A snake that bends effortlessly at their own whim against all obstacles like flowing water.”
“You flatter me! Yet, you did pretty well yourself while practicing against that Wizard, didn't you? Hm? You must have a deep understanding toward how an Effigy thinks by now.”

A lingering and squinted glare from Vaalyun now connected with a smiling, closed-eyed Kamui.

“You even know about him, huh? As expected of an informed jester. I wouldn’t be surprised if you had eyes on him even now then.”
“It’d be a waste not to! Amid seekers, qualms, eyes, Effigies, and bearers—a hound, an aberrant and political iniquity! The indifferent audience of the primordial spirits themselves! To be at that forefront of a generational shift! The return of a bygone era! The Effigy of Dormou truly is blessed in his lack of monotony. And Nefra is undoubtedly the melting pot toward the beginning of his tragedy! You think I wouldn’t allow myself a front row viewing? That’s—”
“Enough chatting, human jester. I’ve already done my part.”

Kamui’s first mistake was his inability to stop himself from rambling. His second mistake, was the fact that he remained ignoring his most crucial threat that entire time. A white light now bridged one end of the hallway to the other, as Kamui’s body was locked in place. His eyes then met hers, as she held her fan outward. She had yet to move even once from her spot as she spoke aloud.

“Talkative, arrogantly so. It seems you have a rather informative source, don’t you? I’m actually quite thankful for your prating, as it allowed for some questions to be answered.”
“This light...? You truly are something yourself, Princess...! This was your intention from the start, wasn’t it?! That initial attack was nothing more than just a beacon to allow for this! Marvelously done! The clasp of the two pillars, with its temple baring its fangs at me! I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
“Vaalyun, step aside.”

Vaalyun now positioned himself near an unconscious Amara, and for the first time since the battle began, Marna walked forward. The air trembled once more as her stride held none of her animosity back. That white light was practically her realm now as it extended toward the separated piece of her fan that was situated on the wall. Kamui was forced to watch her slow arrival with a mix of terror and excitement.

“Having you here has definitely been quite the eye opener. There’s a lot that I’ll need to look over, but first, I should let you know this. Whether your role in all of this was required or not; I don’t care anymore. I won’t let you do as you please for any longer.”
“Ahahahahaha! That’s the spirit! Your original task is nothing more than just that—a task! Appease your desires! Whether that goes against your divine providence in the end shouldn’t matter at all, Princess! One’s mind and heart will always be separate, for as long as your allowed to remain that fragment with your own ego!”
Silence. You’ve done enough speaking already.”

From this point onward, Kamui wouldn’t have the ability to even allow a single gasp to escape his mouth. Yet, that didn’t stop him from projecting that familiar smile—one that made its way to his ears. Marna remained impervious to it now as she began chanting her own spell in whisper to bring about his end. She couldn’t spare a single thought to the future as long as Kamui continued to sit in her presence. Blinded by her emotions, she had every intent on finishing him—right here and now—regardless of what it would change. Yet, someone else wouldn’t allow for her to continue.

“You’re in the way, human.”

A sudden and towering silhouette appeared behind Kamui as he was then sent flying seconds later, at the unmitigated brunt from the back of someone’s fist meeting his left cheek. The amount of force that met Kamui’s body was nothing short of the equivalent of being shot out of a cannon as he tore a hole through the barrier, becoming lost within the clutch of the encircling forests amid the Outer Region.

“Father! Why did you...”
“That grim expression on your face doesn’t suit you, daughter of mine. I came out for a late-night snack, yet it’s rather rowdy in the city tonight. Did you invite guests?”

Lorcan now stood before her, as her mind began to settle down in his presence. She already understood that he was simply feigning obliviousness, but couldn’t say anything about it as a wave of fatigue rippled across her body. The white light that once stretched along the hallway grounds then faded, while she breathed an unsteady exhale as the realization of her actions dawned unto her. She looked toward the man that saved the situation, as that same man was biting into a white pastry—nonchalantly looking around. Turning behind her, her eyes then met her companions.

“Vaalyun, how is Amara doing?”
“She’s only unconscious, Princess. She doesn’t seem to have any serious injuries either.”
“Thank goodness. How about yourself, that wound in your chest...”

Vaalyun stood to his feet, patting against his chest lightly in a reassuring smile.

“Don’t worry about me, Princess! A simple flesh wound like this won’t hinder my abilities.”
“If that’s the case, can you head into town, please? I would like to know the current status of the city.”

Vaalyun immediately then headed toward the exit as Marna’s eyes drifted from his back to the hole in the wall that came from Kamui’s sudden departure. It was as if he knew exactly what she was thinking as Lorcan then interrupted her thoughts.

“He’s already long gone. And you’ll gain nothing by chasing after him, daughter of mine.”
“As expected, you didn’t strike with the intention on killing him at all, did you?”
“Do you take me for a mindless barbarian?! He was simply in my way, and I moved him. Gently.”
“Mm, gently? That’s quite the stretch, Father. Even so, thank you...”
“I don’t understand why you’re thanking me, as I am simply doing my duty as your father. There are two kinds of mistakes you can make. Mistakes you can learn from and mistakes you can’t. A daughter of ours has no need for the latter.”

Lorcan extended his hand over Marna’s head, as she looked toward him and his crumb-covered smile. One that reminded her which hand he had been using to eat the white pastry with shortly earlier. She quickly slapped at his hand, removing her wreath in realization.

“Can you at least use your other hand, Father—see! You really did leave crumbs!”
“Ha ha! Sorry, sorry! I forgot! Ha ha!”

He walked away with a trail of laughs echoing against the walls of the hallways as Marna pouted toward her father’s childish behavior. She then sighed, looking around and toward one of the magic lanterns.

“Cruubi, come.”

Immediately, the appearance of a small bird hovered into her view. It landed upon the palm of her hand as she slightly smiled at it.

“Thankfully, it seems he didn’t notice you at all. But... I don’t think your appearance changed anything, since everything was already...”

She didn’t finish her sentence as a wrinkle formed amid her brows in deep thought. She sighed once more and continued with a strained smile.

“I’ll have to fix that letter I gave you though, Cruubi. After that, I want you to immediately head back to Sir Albel, okay?”
“Chirp! Chirp!”

The bird had seemingly agreed to Marna’s request as she quickly then made adjustments toward the letter. Cruubi then flew off and out through the hole in the wall. She watched it depart for a short while, then headed toward Amara who had still remained resting. A solemn expression came over her face as her murmured under her breath.

“It’s going to be a bit earlier than I had hoped, but I don’t think I have any other choice. I hope you’ll forgive me for this, Amara. It’s time to finally bring to light the remnants of Saelmere—and the Elven of Dusk.”