Chapter 23:

We Fight - 12 months later

Downcaster


Teph walked through his army’s formation. Today they were practicing their defensive drills before they were thrown into battle tomorrow.

The men’s movements were timid; everyone was anxious about the big day. The hard work every man in this revolution army had put in was going to be tested tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow was a day that was going to be marked in history. Whether it was going to be marked in the way Teph hoped for was up to the events of the next few days. Everything in the past eleven years was leading up to this moment.

He was nervous but mostly ready for what was to come, thousands will die, both Pure Blood and Mixed Blood. There was no changing fate, once it came knocking on your the only option for you was to answer it or it would bite you hard. Fate, fate was a word people like and Teph and Entz rarely used, it was something only salchonists referred to in their lives. Teph and Entz weren’t atheists, NO. They didn’t believe in any religion, Yes, but, they still believed that there was one which they truly can believe and truthfully follow.

His other friends were praying at the moment and so he decided to use this time to give an encouraging speech to the men he will lead. He walked towards a short structure and climbed over it.

“Men of honor” he called, grabbing the attention of those that heard him; it took a while before word spread amongst the ranks and everyone got quiet.

“Tomorrow is a day we all have been waiting for. Just minutes ago I walked through your lines and noticed quite a few of you seemed nervous. Do not worry, I am more nervous than you’ll ever be. I understand that most of you have not been in battle for years and some are going to experience it for the first time. But, here me out. Tomorrow will be the day we take action in this revolution to rebuild our country from the ground up. I want to tell you that these past few months have been truly a privilege for me to have trained you all. I am sure General Khol would have been proud if he was here. So, with all that said, let us all cheer for victory.” The men in front of him erupted in joy and screams of blessings from lord Hasharash - the Salchonist god of war.

“That was a great speech General,” said a voice in his ears, as if it was speaking directly in front of him. He looked around startled by the small incident and found no one next to him. However, right inside the ranks stood a tall twenty-year-old kid. His hair was short; he’d cut it earlier this week. His face was regularly shaped making his looks no ordinary than any other human being you’d see on the streets. But, something about the complexion on his face made him stand out nonetheless. Entz had spoken words from across a distance that reached Teph without any problem. He’s one of them.

Teph gestured to the kid and called for him to follow him. Entz did so and hurried his steps towards him.

“You can hiss?” Teph told the kid without any hesitation. He didn’t like to waste time or play games with the things he wanted to know.

“So you noticed,” Entz said, “Yeah, I can hiss or whatever these powers are called.” He stopped talking for a moment then spoke, “How do you know about it?”

“Beth was a hisser.”

“Yeah, I figured.”

“You did?”

“Yes. Remember the time you spoke about her when you told me about you and the guys, well, I realized that not once did you describe her using Downcasting. And, when Korn rescued you, and the artillery cannons struck you, you specifically described that you were fighting to protect her, which means she didn’t have the healing powers of a Downcaster. ”

“You’re smarter than you look kid.”

“Thanks, I guess”

“So, how do I control it?”

“Hissing is different from downcasting, they are both natural in their ways, but, they are different when controlled. In downcasting, you yourself are the one who is directly using the reserves of downsap and manipulate it in your body to parts that you targeted. However, in hissing, you control the wind. Beth explained that you can use it to move the wind itself in ways you can’t begin to imagine. The first and simplest way is by communicating through the wind.”

“Just like I did earlier. I’ve been practicing for three months and I could do more than that.”

“You could use it to give you a boost in your movements. Your punches can become faster, your jumps can become higher, and your vision can stretch further.”

“Vision?”

“Yes, Beth said it was the hardest part of Hissing a hisser can master.”

Entz didn’t ask further questions and Teph didn’t explain anything further; ending the conversation. They walked quietly without saying a word, from across a distance Teph was able to make out Mort’s office standing taller than most buildings in the Middle City. The whole street was crowded with soldiers standing in lines doing their practice.

Teph felt proud walking through them, it was unbelievable to see how much they have come in just a year's time. He curtly nodded to the men who saluted them as they passed and even stopped to pass words of encouragement to some patrol squads.

About a few minutes passed before they were able to reach their destination. They walked past the entrance door and found that everyone was already ready for the meeting.

“Were we late?” Asked Teph.

“Nah, Jack arrived a minute earlier,” answered Mort who was dealing with a small device in his hands as he appeared to be working it with Trent.

Jack isolated himself near the east corner of the room; he always kept quiet when they were nearing a battle. He already had his uniform on, his role along with Korn’s was 6 hours away from being executed; making them the first step into their journey towards freedom. Their two uniforms were identical; it always was after they stepped down from their spots as generals. They wore Teph’s white glyphs of freedom; while it was Teph’s uniform they were the colors Khol used for his men.

White armor. One might consider it a bland choice, but in reality, it had quite the ostentatious design. The breastplate was melded into a charion’s head; it didn’t pop out like a ship’s figurehead but it was still visible on the surface. The pauldron had a similar design, but instead, the charion’s eyes were colored blood-red. The vambrace was streaked with golden lines that circled to meet at a point containing a ruby for some reason. And the gauntlets were colored in a simple white color that reached the fingers; up there stood out five bold letters in a color that resembled downsap’s blue.

H on the thumb.

O on the index.

N on the middle.

O on the ring.

R on the pinky.

Honor, was the theme Teph wanted to incorporate into this specific army, the army that will be remembered for its bravery in, hopefiully, freeing this country.

The faulds were all covered with small pitch black glyphs of the Bentecko house. At first Entz didn’t agree with making his family appear as the people whole will dominate over the Mixed Bloods once this rebellion was over, but Teph convinced him otherwise. He explained that while it was wrong for someone to rule over the other, people still wanted to feel protected and cared for. And that was the actual role of the government Khol wanted to build, Entz reconsidered and later agreed to Teph’s reasoning.

The chausses – leg armor – were specifically designed for each captain; allowing them to move freely. They covered the thighs and shins with strong yet flexible metal plates. The knee had an extended metal piece that joined the chaises to allow the leg to move. But, the hips and calves wore decoyed leathered cloths making its wearer able to put it on without any issues.

The room was as usual still lit by a single light bulb and the window behind Mort’s desk. Teph and Entz walked towards Korn who lounged on the couch. He left his helm on the table next to Jack’s one. The beautiful piece of metal resembled what a roman soldier would put on, its eyepiece was outlined in a beautiful light yellow and the back side of it held a big Bentecko glyph.

Korn appeared to be deep in his thoughts and so Teph didn’t want to disturb him. The ‘aging’ man had that scar paint across his face. Downsap helped heal a person but didn’t fix scars. Teph had many life-threatening wounds that left their marks on him, but none of them were like Korn’s. It was Teph’s fault, he dragged everyone into this mess. 

Korn might be a very strict and disciplined person, but he was also stylish. He might have not taken care of himself in the Under City but he still carried that white hair with him. Even though no one admitted it, the scar on his face made him look more badass. He had an angular face that complemented his facial features, he didn’t have a beard but a mustache could be seen on his face every once in a while.

If hadn’t accepted that offer to be Khol’s bodyguard everything wouldn’t have led them into this place. If he had succeeded in sneaking into the Frol faction's building and assassinated Tor, Beth would have died and Korn wouldn’t have had to hold this scar. If he-

Stop it, he told himself. Look forward to the future, do not forget the past, but do not grieve over it, learn from it and make it shape you into the person you are today. After a few moments, Mort and Trent were ready.

“Alright,” announced Mort with a clap of his hand grabbing everyone’s attention.

“Let us go over the plan one last time,”

“Jack and Korn,” he pointed at the two.

“You guys will march with 16 thousand men, eight battalions led by each of you. You are to sneak through the tunnel system and split at an intersection. Jack, you will attack the Under City’s gate from the Pure City. While Korn, you will go through Under City and get the Mixed Blood Citizens out. You two will reunite at the gate and make your way to the outskirts where Mort and a fleet of ships will be ready to transport the women, children, and elderly through the Notranian border. To ensure that you don’t get intercepted, Teph, I, and Entz will attack the real operating engine of Morshina at the Tower of Knowledge. This will draw the national army’s attention, which, as estimated, only has 25 thousand men on standby. They might have the number advantage, but, we have the art of surprise on our side.

“That is basically the plan in a nutshell.”

“A few things you forgot to mention,” Teph said from his seat.

“First and most important part. Do. Not. Kill. Any. Pure Blood,” that seemed to bother Trent, but Teph couldn’t spare mistakes or regrets, “I know how you guys feel about those damned bastards, but we cannot repeat the same mistakes. It will be a never-ending cycle.”

“What do we do if we are attacked?” Said Korn.

“Obviously we fight,” Teph chucked on the comment, “fight those who attack you, spare the lives of innocent. Is that understood?” The men nodded, Mort included.

“Second, you all will be equipped with communicators, Jont – my assistant – will be in charge of three battalions stationed here in the Middle City. Korn and Jack, while we will act as a distraction, the retired officers living in the Pure City will be the main source of distraction. At 2 am; an hour before you set out. They will march a protest to the presidential house and so police patrols will be busy calming them down. Jack, the exit you will use to get to the Under City’s gate is closed. Make sure you rush your way there without wasting your time.”

“This is quite the undertaking, for all of us. But, we can do it!”

Everyone nodded on his encouragement, there were no questions; they had heard this plan multiple times before, and now were just ready to execute it.


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