Chapter 44: Movement on the Chessboard
Ash Alworth is lying alone on the back of a horse drawn carriage, looking up at the afternoon sky and watching the clouds fly by has left her deep within her own thoughts.
She remains that way until the man driving the carriage says, “I hope you know how difficult it was for me to smuggle you across the border. Because I'm a traveling merchant it gives me a passport to move freely between Troy, Eiyalazo and La'Juune, but it doesn't mean that I wouldn't be put to death for human trafficking between enemy countries.”
Ash ignores his words and coldly replies, “As a traveling merchant you obviously like money, I gave you more than enough to last you a whole year so you could take me to the Capital. You shouldn't be complaining.”
The man takes a sigh of resignation and says, “Well, you’re not wrong about that.”
Ash has bought the service of this man to bring her from Troy to La'Juune, and she has paid him almost all of her and Zurvick's military money to do so.
“Do you mind me asking what you plan on doing here?”
Ash halfway snorts and replies, “That is irrelevant to you, unless you're a La'Juutian nationalist... If that's the case I recommend you drop me off right now.”
The man who looks to be in his mid 40's shrugs his shoulders. “I actually moved here from Eiyalazo when I was a teenager, La’Juune doesn't mean too much to me. If what you are after is the life of the King or some other high ranking official then I have no problem with that. Truth is, the death of a Royal family member could raise the prices of certain goods, so if you'd be kind enough to let me know who it is you're going to assassinate it'd be greatly appreciated. That way I can buy up those goods at a cheap price beforehand.”
He said that because the King gives members of the Royal and Noble families management of certain goods; Royals own resources and Nobles own materials. Some are in charge of coal, some of steel, and some are even in control of agriculture. The King decides this because it evenly distributes La'Juune's wealth so all members of the Noble and Royal families don't use class warfare to rise the ranks. Of course, some make more money than others but that is the privilege bestowed upon them by the favor of the King, they can hardly use that to say they are better than one another.
Naturally, if the King doesn't like the way one of these factions are being run he can legally repossess it. For instance, if he sees that the granite industry is not making it's deadlines for the new buildings being built, the King can either oust the Royal who's running it or seize control of it himself and decide what to do at a later time. For a Royal or a Noble to lose their position as leader of a resource or good, equals a punishment worse than death, the majority of them end up dying poor in disgrace.
With this rule adding such an importance to the role of those particular people, their untimely deaths can drastically lower prices or immediately boost the prices of certain goods. More often than not it is the merchant with the sharpest ear who gets to make a profit, the man holding the reins of this carriage would be really keen to know ahead of time if one were to be assassinated.
She is somewhat surprised by how nonchalantly he said that, it would seem as though this man is very business savvy and notices every little thing around him. People like him are on a far different level when it comes to economic knowledge than she would ever be as a career soldier. She finds him to be quite intriguing.
Nonetheless, she has no intention of trusting him at all, she is an enemy soldier invading the country of La'Juune for reasons unknown to him and she'd prefer it to remain that way.
With this in mind, she answers, “I have no plans for the future anymore, so I can’t promise you any information that might make you rich.”
“No future plans huh? Did something bad happen back at Troy?”
The merchant wasn't expecting to get much of an answer out of her because he understands that sometimes the tragedies that go along with war are better off being kept to oneself.
But much to his surprise, Ash quickly concedes, “Yes... I lost someone, the most important person in my life was killed.”
“Then that means you're here for revenge right? I can maybe get rich by just knowing that.”
Ash pauses for a little while, though she doesn't want to reveal any information, she desperately wants someone to talk to, she's been alone for over a month now.
During the silence as she contemplates her words, the man forms his own answer for her in his head. Just another sad war story that won't end well, the cycle of hate continues and the merchant who's seen it all knows the ending of these kinds of stories all too well.
Ash takes a deep breath, stands up on the back of the cart being pulled by the two horses and declares,
“I won't seek revenge.”
The merchant turns around and looks at her in surprise as she continues.
“The person who died is someone who'd never consider something as terrible as revenge. He'd be disappointed in me if I had that kind of goal, so I want to do something in his honor, something that even I don't know if I can do.”
“And that something can be accomplished here in La'Juune?”
“It can only be accomplished here. I know who killed the most important man in my life... and I'm here to meet him... I'm here to see if I can look him in the eye and forgive him.”
Seeing how her knees were shaking when she said that, the merchant can't help but understand how difficult doing such a thing will be for her. He's never seen anyone like her before, the world needs more people who are willing to forgive and he is proud to see that there still are youths who are willing to do so.
He smiles and looks back to the dirt road in which he is guiding his carriage and says, “Then allow me to help you as much as possible. I may not get rich off of your forgiveness, but believe it or not even I know there are things more valuable than money.”
Ash sits back down and again zones out on the scenery, watching the dust from the carriage flow into the blue sky.
“I’ll need all the help I can get...”
Back at the Capital, there are two people walking in a large and well designed hallway. Holding hands, one could easily mistake them as young lovers, but their disjunctured expressions reveal the opposite.
The girl with long black hair that parts at her shoulders named Rain Von Ronheim frowns and asks, “Doesn't holding my hand all of the time become tiring for you?”
Noah, the orange haired boy doesn't avert his gaze away from the innards of the hallway when he replies, “Not really, it needs to be done in order to keep myself and others safe from your wretched power. As of now I've made it so in certain rooms such as mine your power is automatically nullified, but in the majority of the castle and in public I must always hold your right hand.”
“People may get the wrong idea, you know?”
“What do you care about that? You don't strike me as the type of person who'd be embarrassed over appearances.”
“I'm just trying to tell you that people will think you have found a wife and expect a wedding.”
“I doubt that, chances are they'd just think of you as my mistress... Technically my actual wife is currently a missing person.”
Rain, still skeptical of him as it pertains to the disappearance of Princess Niera and Daey, noticed the sarcasm in tone when he said that, this prompts her into the assumption that he knows more than he's letting off.
“Where is the Princess?”
Noah finally looks at her and replies, “That's a good question.”
Rain clicks her tongue at that response, the way he double speaks to her makes her feel like the two are constantly in a cat and mouse situation. She hates that most about him.
“You're lying, whatever game you’re playing with me won’t work out in your favor, you might as well tell me the truth.”
“You’re in luck, I'm about to show you the truth.”
The two reach an entrance way that obviously leads to a room of importance. The Courlivet family crest adorns the large polished wooden double doors, the handles of which are tied with a red cloth, sealing it shut.
Noah lets go of Rain's hand and says, “It's the King's suite…” Noah then proceeds to untie the cloth and toss it to the side. “This is where it all started, and it’s where you’ll finally get your truth. Why don't you take a look for yourself?”
Rain sends him a suspicious glare, but she doesn't want to waste her chance of having her hand freed by refusing him.
She huffs air out of her nose and opens the door and walks through without much thought, only to feel herself falling uncontrollably.
She suddenly feels a pressure on her hand and the falling stops, she looks up and she is being held by Noah.
With a straight face he says, “Look down.”
Rain hesitatingly does so and finds herself dangling over fifty stories in the air, at the bottom of such a height are the castle grounds that surround the big structure.
Rain isn't naturally afraid of heights, but dangling this high has gotten her petrified, she doesn't speak nor demand to be pulled up. Instead she is stuck in this state of shock and Noah can see it, he pulls her back up into the hallway and she quickly latches onto him.
Noah takes her body and turns it once again towards the door, looking closely over the edge she can see that this entire block of the castle is completely gone. It's as though it has been cut perfectly out of the structure like a piece of cake; she understands that there was no explosion that caused this and no human could possibly cut something so perfectly.
“On the day they disappeared, they were all in this room when we heard a loud blast, we immediately rushed to their aid and this is what we found. Nothing... Nothing at all.”
Rain remains silent but the sound of her teeth chattering can be heard, Noah continues to speak despite her state of petrification.
“At first, we naturally thought that either Troy or Eiyalazo were the ones behind this, so we began our investigation right away. However, we were left with more questions than answers. With both of the other countries blaming us, it would have been foolish not to mobilize our armies and declare war preemptively.”
Noah squeezes her hand and keeps talking.
“But deep down inside I knew that what happened in this room is part of something much deeper than the ties of our three countries... It wasn’t long after that, I began finding people like you lurking in the shadows of this world, and I now firmly believe that the one giving you all powers is also the one behind the disappearances.”
Rain glares at him with her eyes wide open, it would seem that she finally understands what Noah has been saying all along.
Confident that he’s reached her, he faintly smiles and says,
“Now do you see what I mea----”
Noah is interrupted by the loud voice of Rain and the accompanied strikes on his chest with the sides of her fists.
“How could you let me walk into that room like that!?”
She keeps beating on him and Noah can’t help but be surprised, her face is flushed and her tone sounds like she is on the verge of tears.
“What were you trying to prove by doing that!? You piece of shit! I'll..! I'll!!”
Apparently this tactic of scaring her into submission to his opinion backfired, he did scare her alright, so much so that perhaps not even a word of his opinion was heard.
She never seemed like the kind of person who'd get rattled by anything, but when he thinks about it, he can see that other than her right hand, she is still just a normal teenage girl. Being one slip away from falling to your death is most people's worst nightmare, it must have been traumatic for her to be safe in one moment and thrown into a life threatening situation the next.
It’s only now that Noah can see that he’s been dehumanizing her this entire time. It’s easier to see foes in that light, as unreasonable as a projection he’s put onto her, he now understands the error in doing so.
She stops her assault and throws her head into his chest, with her fists still clinched she softly says, “I'll kill you... No matter what, I'll definitely kill you..”
Noah lets her stay like that, allowing her as much time as she needs to recuperate.
“At the end of all this, you probably will.”
Lelaine is holding the flask she once gave her husband as a parting gift when he left for the military; it has been passed down as a family heirloom in the Niveusvenia family for centuries. It's something that should be treasured, yet here it is, the item that once carried all the love between her and Zurvick is charred in her hands.
There is a gash from what seems to be a knife piercing the flask clean through, if not for the severe charring from the fire that distorted the metal, she may have noticed Zurvick’s dried blood. She shivers at the thought of what Zurvick's flesh and bone body went through alongside this ruined heirloom.
The disgruntled Queen has been locked in her room for two weeks, ever since she heard the news of her husband's death she has yet to talk to anyone. In a state of disbelief she has been consumed by grief and her distraught only grows with each day.
Glaring at the wall in front of her she hears a knock on her door.
The voice of Sturgess is heard from the other side saying, “We will commence the funeral in two day's time, it will be a grand funeral that all of Troy can see.”
Sturgess smiles and thinks to himself how much easier it will be to stage a coup during such a large event.
But those thoughts are destroyed when Lelaine says, “Throw that body in the damn trash for all I care, I will not allow any kind of funeral and I will not allow any information to leak about the supposed 'King's death.'”
“But my Queen...”
“But nothing!! If I find out that anyone speaks a word of it to the public I will have them executed! That charred mess of a man is not my husband!”
Sturgess truly thinks that she is going senile, he isn't angry about her sense of loss and the way she handles it, but, he doesn't want his future mistress to be crazy. The thought of the woman he has always dreamed of being a broken mental mess of a person by the time he finally gets her displeases him.
“Please Queen Lelaine, don't let King Zurvick be buried in an unmarked grave... That is the ultimate insult to a man.”
“Listen Sturgess... Don't you ever doubt my orders again, do your job or I'll find someone else to do it for you.”
Sturgess sighs and relinquishes his pursuit in burying Zurvick's body in such a grand way, it looks like things will go as originally planned and in two days time the country of Troy will be taken the hard way.
He walks away from Lelaine's room and informs a couple guards, “Tell the coroner's office to put King Zurvick's body in a coffin.” The two guards look at him quizzically and Sturgess explains, “By the order of the Queen, he is to be taken away and buried right away, the pauper’s graveyard at the outskirts of the city should be just fine.”
The men salute him and run off to follow his orders.
Sturgess watches them off and leans against the wall. Looking out on the city from one of the hallway windows he says to himself, “As much as I was jealous of you Zurvick... even I wouldn't have wanted you to be buried as an unknown... your wife has truly gone mad, but don't worry.”
He walks his way back through the castle and licks his lips when he finishes,
“I'll take good care of her.”
Dice has finally reached the Capital city of Eiyalazo, this trek normally takes a couple weeks to a month but he has exhausted the powers given to him by the snake in order to get here as quickly as possible. His face is full of hate and distrust and each step he takes carries disdain for the ground he walks on.
This is a person who has lost control of his soul and let darkness take over his mind, this is a person whose thoughts are consumed with how he will kill the people who gave him birth.
His eyes are red with sleep deprivation as he mutters to himself, “I'll kill them I'll kill them I'll kill them.”
Walking in such a miserable state, he finally reaches the Castle; the guards look at him questioningly but let him in without making any fuss about it. Dice makes his way to his room and collapses onto his large bed. He feels as though he shouldn't be wasting any time, but knows that if he's not careful, he could end up losing everything after killing the King and Queen.
(There is definitely a way for me to kill them and be declared the new King in the process... Once that happens I'll be able to expend any resource to get Rain back.)
He turns over on his back and points his hand to the ceiling, as if talking to someone he asks, “What do you think?”
Out of the pentagram tattoo comes the head of the black snake, it slithers down his arm and replies, “I think that is something easily attained... would you feel more comfortable if it was I who came up with the plan?”
Dice rests his eyes and thinks before saying, “I would.”
“Then sleep my fair Prince, by the time you wake I'll have a foolproof plot ready for you.”
The tired Prince doesn't say thanks nor does he even bat his eye in gratitude, the only thing Dice cares about is getting Rain back. It's come to the point where he expects the snake's help with everything, and the snake wouldn't want it any other way.
To the snake, this is Dice's point of insanity, and just like always, the insane are easiest to manipulate.
Dice drops his hand and quickly falls asleep, the snake slithers its way back into the pentagram while laughing the entire way.
Ebihara Seiri is packing a large duffle bag full of silver canteens, it would seem she is off to another battle excluding the fact that she is half naked in her little white underwear.
On the other side of the room sits Allia with a sour look on her face, she also has some frilly expensive looking bags packed sitting next to her.
While tapping her foot impatiently she says, “You know, it's a bad habit for young girls to take so long to get ready. This kind of problem can really affect your married life in the future.”
Seiri doesn't turn her way but replies with venom, “Says the nineteen year old virgin who's never had a boyfriend. You are the last person I want to hear any criticism from.”
Allia's face instantly shines bright red, her shoulders rise as she tries to retort, “Y-You cheeky brat! W-What do you know about anything!??”
“To be perfectly honest I really don't. But I'm right, aren't I?”
Allia looks away in embarrassment. Her flustered face is so cute it should be a crime.
“I-I've never had the chance to find a boyfriend...”
She said that because as a member of the Royal family, she has always been caged from living a free life. Used more as a political tool, she was more likely to be married before ever having a boyfriend.
Seiri looks at her with her eyes watering, and sniffs her nose as she clenches her tiny little hands together.
Allia is surprised by this and asks, “Ehhh?? Why are you crying!?”
Seiri wipes her eyes and drops her head, Allia walks up to her to comfort the little girl.
“You didn't actually think I'd sympathize with your inability to find anyone to love you, right?”
This immediately angers Allia, she grits her teeth and a vein bulges on her forehead. “You little...”
“Wait, you did?”
Seiri puts her hand over her mouth and laughs cockily like some sort of ojou-sama would.
“I must say, my acting skills are increasing with every moment! You even thought that I was crying for real, I truly am an artistic genius!”
“I just might have to kill you Seiri.”
The little girl continues her obnoxious laugh and Allia feels the sting of it beating on her, she has been insulted and embarrassed at the same time and it's something she's not used to.
Allia is about to pounce on the half naked Seiri when the closet door violently swings open and out comes Elise Whittier.
She is breathing rather hard and pieces of clothing fly all about as she shouts, “I FOUND IT!!”
In Elise's hand is a beyond skimpy lingerie outfit, this black strip of clothing would make a stripper blush and the mere fact that Elise has one is very suspect. What is worse about it is that it is the perfect size for a girl much younger than an outfit like that should be made for.
Elise points it at Seiri and says, “Don't you think this is perfect!? You have got to try this on!”
Seiri's face turns blue in horror as she replies, “There's no way that thing is going anywhere near me.”
Allia can only stand by and blush at such a thing, she is quite innocent for someone who is considered an elite soldier. With her shoulders raised she attempts to show her displeasure at such a sight.
Elise pays no mind to their complaints and presses on, “Come on Seiri! This outfit will show off your silky smooth white thighs, ahhhhhnn~! Not to forget about your-----”
Seiri groans in fright and covers her ears as the perverted Elise continues her rambling.
Though Seiri is young and Elise's attraction to her is creepily unnatural, the young actress is quite the beauty. She's the type of girl that would make a grown man awkward if he found himself in an elevator with her.
Elise pounces on a struggling Seiri and attempts to put the lingerie on her, such a sight is so inappropriate it makes Allia shriek and rush to the door to flee.
As soon as she reaches the door, it flings open and in comes Celestia Letrova saying cheerfully, “Alrighty are y'all ready to go!?”
“Ehh, uh... I am.” Allia replies, surprised by Celestia’s sudden appearance.
Celestia looks to the left side of the room and sees the sight that the police should be called for.
She sighs and interrupts the commotion with a shout, “King Noah is waiting for us right now! We must leave immediately!!”
Seiri and Elise both stand astute and without question pack up the rest of their stuff and are ready to go shortly after. Of course, Seiri is no longer half naked, she threw a small navy blue one piece over her head and slipped boat shoes onto her feet.
This look of hers is causing Elise to find it extremely hard to hold her composure, the only thing going through her mind when she follows the three out of the room is,
(Moe moe moe moe moe moe!!!)
The four girls walk down the innards of the castle until they reach the large double doors that lead to the library room. This particular library room is small and filled with historical books. It is normally used for meetings involving economic problems or battle strategies, only the most important country matters are discussed in here.
Once the girls enter they find that the men are sitting around the large table as well, they take their seats and look towards the tip of the table. There sits Noah, and holding his hand is a girl that they are unfamiliar with.
The girl is Rain, and she sits next to him with a scowl on her face.
Noah snaps his finger on his extra hand and London Stott pulls out a wooden case, he opens it up and sets its innards on the table so everyone can see. It's a chessboard.
This makes the others who aren't in the loop a little confused so Noah begins to explain.
“As you all know, there have been people with powers popping up as of late, and the girl next to me is one of them... These people pose a grave threat to our country and we can't allow them to get any closer to the Capital.”
The Ten Knights who are usually loud and unsettled are listening intently as Noah continues.
“This doesn't exclude Troy and Eiyalazo, I am under the firm belief that the one giving these people their powers is the one responsible for the abductions that started this war. So we must absolutely destroy his pawns in order to ensure his plans are doomed to failure.”
For the most part, the Ten Knights know about the people with powers bestowed on them like Rain, four of them almost fought Prince Dice when he was in such a frightening state. They understand that this is something on a level in which they are not familiar, so they make sure they try to know every detail possible.
“So what's with the chessboard?” asked Lennox while fixing his hair.
“I was waiting for one of you to ask that. I have dozens of Dravic Branch spies throughout all three countries and they report to me every detail on the ones who are being controlled. If there is one thing I've noticed, it's that they are assassinating lower ranking officials and rising the ranks slowly. All of them have killed, and are after people who will have a direct impact on the war for all three sides. The number of these controlled people match the exact amount of squares on a chessboard, I figured it’d be fitting to present our new battle this way.”
The ten of them begin to get where he is coming from and let him finish to consolidate it.
“The side that represents Earth only has three chess pieces left, the pawns with the powers have killed everyone they needed to in order to get close to the leaders of our countries.”
“So what would happen if those last three pieces were to be taken out?”
“Checkmate. The world is over.”
They all collectively take a gasp in disbelief, it’s a struggle to imagine such dire consequences to this game they’ve been presented with.
London tilts his glasses up and asks, “So what do you want us to do?”
Noah faintly smiles and answers, “What do you say we add some chess pieces to our side of the board? There's a reason why I told you all to pack your things before coming here, I'm going to split you all into groups of two. Your jobs are to seek out these troublesome pawns and kill them. But I will warn you that some of these pawns are high ranking officials behind enemy lines, one of them is even the Prince of Eiyalazo. So this mission is going to be extremely dangerous.”
Some of the Knights smile in excitement at such an opportunity and some sigh as if this is just another hassle.
For some, the most worrisome thought that comes to mind is who their pair will be. In Seiri's case, if she gets paired with Elise it could result in a disaster.
Noah can read the vibe and is ready to announce the pairings but he is interrupted by the sharp voice of Rain saying,
“You... It was you who killed the King of Troy right?”
Her hate filled glare is directed at Jeffery Durbin, the Captain of the Knights.
He shrugs his shoulders and nonchalantly answers, “Yeah it was.”
Rain frowns and turns to Noah, she looks him square in the eye when she says, “I want him to be the one to assassinate Prince Dice.”
“This man has taken something very dear to me, and in turn he also took it from Dice. But we'll be even if the Prince defeats this despicable man in the process.”
Jeffrey chuckles and says, “That sounds like a challenge.”
Noah turns to Jeffrey and asks him, “Is it a challenge that you're willing to accept?”
He again shrugs his shoulders and in his usual tone he replies, “Sure, I don't see why not.”
Rain's disdain towards him hit a high, she is bitter at the fact that all she can do is put her hopes onto Dice. This situation has long since spiraled out of her control and she is beginning to feel like she is being tied to a leash by Noah. At least she feels that this opportunity for Dice to help her exact revenge is still present, she’ll use it as her own way of taking back a semblance of autonomy.
“Now then, the pairings will go as follows: Jeffrey, you'll be with Elise. Allia and Celestia: Seiri and Haas: Lennox and London: Jessiah and Olin:”
“So when do we leave?”
The Ten Knights all stand up and salute, once done they walk to the door.
Before they can leave, Noah speaks again.
The ten stop and turn around.
"There's something I need you all to do before you go.”
“There will be a parade celebrating your departure, it's already been set up so chances are there are thousands of people waiting for you in the streets outside the castle.”
Sending him quizzical glares, they wonder why he’s bothering to go through the trouble to do this, it's not like they have celebrity status like Napoleon did.
Perhaps this is a kind gesture from their King?
As nice as that sounded in their head, those thoughts are demolished when Noah explains plainly, “The people of La'Juune need to know that we are making drastic moves in order to win the war. Sending our best soldiers across the globe would boost public morale on a large scale. So be sure to smile and wave.”
They all collectively sigh and reply, “Yes sir.”
With that, they exit the room and head to a parade they would rather not attend.
Now alone, Noah and Rain sit in an awkward silence, the dreaded atmosphere of absolute hate pours from the air around Rain as she glares at him with killing intent.
Noah senses the sharp stare beating on the side of his face but chooses to ignore it, instead he looks at the chessboard and moves one of the ten white pieces that represent the Knights upwards.
Rain breaks the silence and asks, “Do you intend on killing me as well? I am one of those people with powers after all.”
Noah ignores her again and speaks to himself, “Who would've thought that I, now the King of La'Juune, would be sending my soldiers into battle to protect the rulers of Troy and Eiyalazo..?” He then turns to Rain and asks, “Tell me... what kind of person do you think I am?”
This question catches her off guard, she wonders if his words signify an answer to her question.
The frown doesn't leave her face when she replies, “A piece of shit.”
Noah faintly smiles, “You know, I’ve never met anyone who can hold a grudge quite like you.”
Rain tut tuts and looks away. “Then you should have known it was dumb of you to ask me what kind of person I think you are. You already knew damn well what my answer was.”
“I guess you're right.” He stands to his feet and lifts her up in the process, looking at her with a rare, genuine smile he says, “At least try to enjoy the festivities with me.”
Seeing such an unusual side to him, Rain is left speechless for a moment,
“I don't want to.”
Noah wasn't thinking that she'd actually want to go, so he has already prepared his room for her, this way she couldn't do any damage while left alone.
He chuckles while holding his hand out to her, “Well then, I'll have you wait for my return.”
Rain flares her nostrils and looks away while saying, “Fine.”
With no fight between either of them, she walks with him hand and hand out of the library room.
Ash has already gone through the amazement of her first sight of the City of Grandeur and is now weaving her way through a mass of people.
“There’s so many people, this is crazy!”
The sound of people cheering rings through the air as trumpets are heard playing a triumphant nationalistic tune, she notices that all of the people around her are staring towards the road leading from the castle.
With her curiosity piqued, Ash cuts through the crowd to get a good look. On her way there she gets jammed and a man tells her rudely to watch where she is going.
She pouts in frustration and asks herself, “Just what the hell is going on here??”
Out of nowhere she gets an unexpected answer from someone nearby who happened to hear her.
“It's a parade for the King and the Ten Knights of La'Juune. They should be coming by any moment.”
Ash's face drops and a frown forms above her eyes, she remembers clearly who it was that killed Zurvick and sacked Tronoble. Under the orders of the new King, the Knights are the source of her misery, without replying to the passerby she shoves the people in the way to clear a path to the road.
After struggling for a while she reaches the road, and just in time because the horse drawn float that's carrying Noah and the others just happened to be rolling by. She stares at the awkwardly smiling Knights with fists clenched, especially when she gets a good look at Jeffrey, the one who inflicted the fatal wound on Zurvick.
Without thinking she shouts, “King Noah!!!”
Just about every person attending this parade is shouting the name of Noah, so he doesn't pay any mind to one voice of many lost in the din of the crowd. The float passes her by and the sight of his back infuriates her.
However, Instead of giving up she chases the float down and continues her shouting, she is mere feet from the people who are the ultimate enemies of Troy, and this adds to her desperation to get their attention.
“King Noah! My name is Ash Alworth! I am the Captain of the 105th Specialist Division of the Trojan army! I am the Captain of the division that King Zurvick was serving under!!”
Something so different from the other chants of the crowd is enough to reach Noah's ears, he looks to his left and sees the girl weaving her way through the mass of people with a look of intensity. Not doubting her for a second, he asks her to announce her name once more to make sure.
“What was your name again?”
This is the name he knows as the source of Rain's hate, standing a few feet away from him is the person that's holding the veil of darkness over her head. He knows he can use this person for something, and in that instant a plan forms in his mind.
“Interesting.” he says under his breath.
This spot of luck that has shined on him will not be taken for granted, whenever things like this happen it is best to take advantage of it. Realizing how slim of a chance this is, he walks to the edge of the float and smiles confidently.
Not caring that she is an enemy soldier, he orders a guard standing by to let her under the ropes that lead to the road. While the carriage is still moving, he holds out his hand to her and says,
“Come with me.”
“An interesting play Prince Noah.” said Satan as he stared down on his chessboard.
On the white side where there were once three pieces left, now has thirteen. He is playing the game in which Noah has positioned more characters against him. The dynamic has changed from these ten extra pieces that include rooks, knights, bishops and pawns.
But Satan feels that it is too little too late.
He has already infiltrated all three countries to the highest of ranks, he is extremely close to the leaders and nothing is standing in his way.
“It is amusing how you think this would be fair game between equal opponents. If only you knew just how close I am to winning already, I’m only one favorable move away..”
Chess is a game of positional strategy, one has to think many moves ahead in order to win, but what kind of chess game would it be if one player’s pawn could jump the entire board and defeat the king in one move?
It’d be a sham.
It’s exactly the type of advantage Satan enjoys operating within the most.
“I’ll let you have your hope for now and enjoy watching you struggle.”
Satan takes a black rook and moves it to the far right corner of the board, parallel to the King piece representing the real life Queen and King of Eiyalazo.
His red eyes glow and with an evil grin he says,
Dice awakens to find himself alone in his room in the middle of the night.
(How long was I out for?) he thinks to himself.
Looking at the clock he sees that it hasn't been too long, just a little over six hours.
He rubs his tired eyes and remembers that the snake had promised to devise a plan to kill his parents.
“Snake... Did you come up with a plan?”
An onlooker would think that Dice has gone mad talking to no one in the dark of his room, but he is not alone.
The snake's bright red eyes shine the room in an eerie red tint as it speaks, “I have secured a pathway between here and your parents room... Once you walk through your door you will end up walking through theirs.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are hundreds of guards in this castle, if you simply enter their room and kill them, there’s bound to be witnesses. While you were asleep I set up a spell that will give you the benefit of absolute obscurity, you can finish the job and walk right back into your room without anybody noticing.”
Dice looks towards his room door, just beyond it is where the source of his hate likely sleeps right now.
Without a hint of hesitation he walks to it and opens it.
Just like the snake said he finds himself in the large room of the King and Queen, the lights are off and the atmosphere is ominous. This is the kind of room that is so big that one could get lost in it if he isn't careful; in fact, this is Dice's first time here, so he is treading cautiously.
Making almost no noise he weaves his way around the fine wood furniture and expensive vases, after what feels like a long walk he finds the bed where his parents sleep. It is a large bed that is covered by the extravagantly designed curtains that are used to block the morning sun.
Seeing that the curtains are down he realizes that his parents are currently sleeping behind them, he inches closer and the insanity in his eyes grow. A wicked grin surfaces on his face when he holds his hand out, all around his arm an evil black smoke forms, it grows larger the closer he gets to the bed.
The snake's voice rings in his head, “This is for Rain, this is for the person you love most... Soon, very soon you will be able to hold her in your arms.”
With visions of his dreams coming true swirling in his head, he quickly opens the curtains and sends his black hand into the bed forcefully. The entirety of the bed explodes and sends cushion fabric flying throughout the room. The destruction caused by this simple motion is truly frightening, the bed and its frame is mangled so badly one couldn't wouldn’t guess the shape of it beforehand.
Although blinded by his delusions, the sensation of hitting only cushion is still felt in his hand. Now with the blur of his adrenaline filled eyes gone, he sees a sight that makes him bite his lip in anger.
There is no one there, not even a trace of human remains.
“What the fuck is this?” Dice hisses to his hand.
The snake doesn't answer his question, it is already apparent what is going on.
Dice quickly turns around and heads toward the door.
He runs through and finds himself in the hallway leading to the innards of the castle. Though the original plan was for him to end up back in his own room, the snake ended the spell so Dice could get to the inner castle faster.
Running through the dimly lit hallway he turns to his left and heads down the absurdly long flight of stairs leading to the lobby. Once at the bottom he carelessly bumps into someone and falls on one knee.
Just the mere surprise of such contact inflames his anger.
With eyes full of fury he looks to the person he ran into and sees the flushed face of a girl in her teenage years.
The fury quickly fades when he recognizes who he knocked to the ground.
The girl moves her short grayish hair from over her bright silver eyes and says, “Prince Dice! I heard you were back and I came rushing!”
“It’s so unlike you to have so gracefully found me.”
The girl named Evelyn shrugs her shoulders and smiles off his subtle insult; she gets to her feet and holds out her hand to help him up.
“You know, I was worried about you when you left for the battlefield... When I heard about the division you were with losing its Brigadier General in an enemy attack, I couldn't help but panic. You should have let me come with you...”
“If I brought you, I'd just be constantly annoyed.”
Evelyn frowns and shouts, “B-But I am your bodyguard! Why would you not bring me!?”
Annoyed by the rise in the tone of her voice, he rubs his ears and replies, “I needed to prove to my parents that I was able to fend for myself... Bringing you along would make them think less of me.”
“There’s no shame in going into battle with your retainers. Please allow me to accompany you next time, I could have helped.”
“Wait a second…” Dice takes her hand and stands to his feet, he rubs the back of his neck while saying, “What do you mean by losing the General?”
“You know, that girl... Detrieg Von Ronheim's daughter. I heard she went into the battle of Tronoble and was killed when the LaJuutian's attacked.”
News traveled fast back here in the Capital, of course there is the possibility that numerous runners brought this false information here but it is still suspicious. The only thing he could think is that the King and Queen knew of the result well beforehand and doomed Rain to death before they could even prove it.
He knows she is alive, he knows that she has been kidnapped by the La'Juutian Knights that sacked Tronoble. What makes him angry is that his parents didn't even make an attempt to save her, he's sure that they purposely did this to destroy her name permanently.
He grits his teeth, but takes a deep breath to calm himself down, he then grabs Evelyn's shoulders and inquires, “Where are my parents!?”
Such a change in his attitude has gotten her confused, but nonetheless she answers, “They went out on a campaign earlier in the day.”
“Yeah, you know, those kinds of campaigns where they go around the country to boost up public morale during war time. I'm pretty sure every country does that kind of-----”
“When do they come back!?” he sharply interjects.
“Eh, Uh... They're supposed to be gone for a couple weeks.”
Dice grits his teeth and pushes her away, “Damn it!!”
Evelyn is extremely confused by this sudden outburst, he morphed from his normal self just a few seconds earlier into an angry person she doesn't even recognize.
Because he went straight into his bed for sleep once he got home, his parents left the Capital from right under his nose. He wants to blame the snake for this disposition but realizes that he can only blame himself for succumbing to his body’s exhaustion.
It's his fault that Rain is being held captive by La'Juune in the first place and now he is forced to leave her in that situation until his parents return in two weeks time.
Dice grips his hand over the front of his face extremely hard and says bitterly into his palm.
“I was careless.”
Noah and Ash are walking along the grounds of the castle, the parade is long over and the sun has been down for quite some time now.
Guards alongside the castle walls salute Noah proudly and Ash can’t help but feel bitterness towards their devotion. To her, this person has nothing that should be honored or saluted; as a person of military rank such as herself, she finds adult men paying such respect to a despicable young King to be disturbing.
“Where are you taking me?” she asks coldly.
Noah keeps walking in front of her, without turning to acknowledge her question he answers, “I'm going to have you stay in the castle for the time being. I'm taking you to your room.”
“This makes me a prisoner?”
“Hmm, you can think that way if you want to... Personally, I consider you more of a necessary tool than a prisoner.”
Glaring at his back, Ash frowns and smiles simultaneously. “A tool or a prisoner, it’s still unwise to turn your back to an enemy like me. I am a trained soldier after all, I could easily kill you and end this war.”
Noah still doesn't bother to turn to her, it's as though he doesn't even comprehend her words as a threat.
He calmly replies, “I doubt my death would end the war though, we have quite the capable militarial command structure here in La’Juune.”
“Even if the war doesn’t end after I kill you, I’ll still get what I need out of it.”
“You aren't the type of person to attack someone with his back turned to you.”
She flares her nostrils in anger, he is right. Unlike most others, Ash’s honor would never allow her to do something so cowardly.
What she is left wondering is just how he could tell that this is the kind of person she is, they haven’t so much as made eye contact yet.
The two start an awkward silence that extends all the way to the room where Noah wants Ash to stay in. He opens the door for her and points his hand in, this is actually the first time she has seen his face since she was invited onto the float. This makes her feel like she is more on the same level as him instead of feeling unbearably low in his presence.
The room is very extravagant, the castle itself has dozens of rooms but this one would seem like it has a lot more put into it than the others.
“This is my brother Luke's room. I hope you understand that this is only a temporary accommodation.”
This will explain why this room is so much better than the others, an actual Prince of La'Juune once slept here before he disappeared.
Ash doesn't say her thanks and walks in without hesitation, this is her way of expressing how little she cares about the wealth of the royal family of La'Juune.
Before shutting the door, his words about this being temporary enters her head once more so she asks, “How long do you intend on having me here?” Noah plainly answers, “As long as it takes.”
The door shuts abruptly and the two part ways through the wall.
Ash leans her back against the door and finds herself breathing hard.
She's not tired, nor is she nervous about how long she'll be held captive for. She is shaking with fists clenched as the hate she holds for him is desperately being subdued by her conscious thoughts.
With these emotions running through her mind she thinks it is going to be impossible to forgive him.
“I have to stay strong.” she says to herself unconvincingly.
To her this means everything, and she won't give up until the bitter end, for Zurvick's sake.
Noah turns to head to his room when he’s surprised by the sudden appearance of Rain standing just a few feet away from him with a suspicious look on her face.
“What are you doing here?” Noah asks.
Rain puts her weight on her left leg and throws her hand on the right side of her waist.
“Who cares about that?”
“You know, I am Eiyalazo's best Battle Strategist for a reason... I came up with more than a few reasons on why you're late.”
Noah sighs slightly and smoothly replies, “That’s just you acting upon your boredom. I didn't know that my presence is so essential for your amusement.”
Rain furrows her brow and puffs. “Don't get conceded, I'll never need you for anything. I just assumed that you would only be late due to something important... with that in mind I realized that what is most important to you, is me... So since it involves me, I'd like to know what it is.”
Surprised by how well her suspicious instincts sense his intentions, he decides not go further into it and changes the subject.
“Whatever I do outside of you is besides the point, I’m interested in hearing how you got out of my room?”
Rain smiles confidently and replies, “Like anyone else would, I used the door.”
“I assumed as much, but the thing is, I locked it.”
“Well I picked that lock, I'm not an idiot that can simply be put in a room alone and not try to escape.”
Her answer is self-evident, but the real question is why didn't she go on a rampage with her power and kill off whoever she could to escape the castle?
Noah is wondering this and Rain can see it in his face, she frowns when she answers,
“I originally left the room in order to flee from this damn city... But my power still didn't work, even when I got outside of your room.”
“Oh? That's certainly interesting enough.”
“What did you do to me?” she queries in anger.
Noah shrugs his shoulders and walks up to her, he grabs her hand and begins to pull her away from the room.
“I didn't do anything, the only answer I can give you is that your evil is beginning to dissipate. In other words, your hate is fading.”
Getting pulled helplessly along she hisses, “I don’t believe that, my hate for you is stronger than ever.”
Noah sighs and smiles, in somewhat of a tender voice he says, “I really must be a terrible person... To be hated so much.”
She halts the assault of her words on him, for some reason seeing him like that has shattered her desire to continue any further insult.
She stays silent as they walk hand and hand and she softly says, “You know, since my power doesn't work you don't have to hold my hand... Or is it that you think I am lying to you?”
“Not at all, I actually trust the things you say completely.”
He stops walking and turns, he looks at her in the eye and a thin smile surfaces on his face.
“What if I told you that I just want to hold your hand?”
Rain looks at him confused for a moment, then a frown surfaces on her face to counter his smug expression.
“Then I'd say you were full of shit.”
He lets out a little laugh and starts walking again.
“Think what you will.”
Getting further away from the door that Noah had exited, Rain begins to forget what she originally asked him in the first place. She realizes this and says, “You are hiding something from me... aren't you?”
Noah ignores her question like he so commonly does and replies with one of his own, “Tell me Rain... If you met with the person that killed your father, what would you do?”
Without hesitation she replies, “I'd kill her.”
A slight smile forms, this is exactly what he thought she'd say if that was brought up.
He meant what he said when he mentioned that he completely trusts her word, he believes that this would actually be the case if she found out he is hiding Ash.
“That's a shame... But at the same time, that is what I'm here for, I am going to destroy that hate of yours.”
As if accepting his challenge, Rain says,
“Well this is lame, I thought that we'd be traveling to a far away land to find one of these so-called 'Pawns'... We're only a five hour train ride from home!” Celestia groans in annoyance.
Both she and Allia are cooped up in the bell tower of a large cathedral.
It's close to midnight and it looks as though the lack of sleep is beginning to pick at their psyche.
They, just like the other eight Knights, have been sent off to assassinate the people that hold the same powers as Rain in an attempt to thwart the puppet master's plan.
All of them didn't get a route in which they were going until they were already on the road, and out of all of them, the pairing of Celestia and Allia were sent to a city just outside the Capital.
“This really isn't that much of a bad thing, I heard that the ones sent to Troy and Eiyalazo aren't allowed to take breaks on the way. It must be hell for them to travel non stop like that.”
The others' mission is that of the utmost urgency, so much so that once at the end of the train tracks of La’Juune when they are forced onto horseback, they are to ride until horses pulling their carriage grow so tired that they need to kill them off or let them go and replace them. Because of this, Noah has set up relay points to where certain spies are to resupply them with energized horses.
This marathon will certainly be hard on them; travel time from La'Juune's Capital to the others usually takes well over a month, with the constant speed in which they are currently traveling they hope to make it in half that time.
Celestia sighs and agrees halfheartedly, “Hmmm, that is true... but still, being in La'Juune during war time for a secret mission feels kind of off.”
Allia reaches into her expensive looking nap sack that's strapped to her side, from there she pulls out binoculars and puts them up to her face.
She stares out of the window intently and Celestia asks, “How's our target lookin'?”
Through the binoculars she stares towards the direction of a mansion atop of a hill, through a second story window of that mansion, she can see the figure of a man sitting at a desk. On the desk are tons of gold coins that he is counting and charting off on a piece of paper with a feathered pen.
This sight really gives off the feeling of a stereotypical rich man doting over his fortunes and Allia holds back a laugh as she is reminded of her father back at home.
“He's been cooped up in his room counting his money all day... I don't think I've seen him even move from that desk yet.”
“That's to be expected, he is the Royal in charge of gold after all... I'm pretty sure he is a cousin of the former King or something, it's hard to believe that we're ordered to kill off a member of Noah's family like this.”
“It is... but according to our information this man named Edward has been abusing his authority and supplying mercenaries with funds in order to take out other Nobles and Royals to obtain their resources through 'WTA'...”
WTA, which stands for War Time Absorption, is a term used by the Royal family as a legal way to obtain the resources of others or of their kin during times of war. If the Royal in charge of silver has died, then the one controlling a similar mineral can absorb that into his or her own wealth structure. The only reason it goes to another Royal instead of the King is because of the special occurrence of war, the King has to waive all responsibilities concerning that and concentrate his efforts on the war under La'Juutian law.
This will make it so the King doesn't make any decisions that would disrupt or damage the home front while being distracted by problems abroad. During war, the balance structure of the Royals and Nobles literally teeters on who will use the most off-hand methods to acquire more power. By the end of all this there could be one Royal holding three or four resources and there is nothing the King can do about it unless they are being handled improperly. This is one of the reasons why members of parliament tend to overwhelmingly support a war proposal, especially when they are certain that victory is obtainable. The selfishness of the world shines brightest during times of tragedy.
“Doesn't this put your dad at risk?” Celestia asks while twirling her hair with her finger.
Allia's glare remains through the binoculars as she replies, “No not really, my father runs the cotton industry. People like this Edward fellow here who are involved with monetary elements wouldn't waste their time on the riches of my dad.”
As mentioned earlier, Royals are part of the family whilst Nobles aren't. Allia is a Royal but she is not related to Noah in any way, the reason for this is that her father used this backhand tactic of 'WTA' to acquire his fortune during the war ten years ago.
Celestia nods her head as if agreeing as she pulls a blanket out of a duffle bag at her feet and wraps her body in it.
Boredom has crept into her, and as a natural result she yawns, “Uuuaahhhh! I've never been one to have enough patience to pull off an all night surveillance mission like this, so wake me up when----”
“He's moving.” Allia says unconsciously as the sight of him leaving the desk chair for the first time reaches her eyes. “Wait, now he's talking to someone.”
With her interest piqued, Celestia looks out the window in the mansion's direction as well.
Allia pauses for a moment, and replies confusedly, “With himself?”
“I'm serious, he's not talking to anyone, it's like he's holding a conversation with the wall.”
“Oho? Or maybe he has an imaginary friend.”
“Now's not the time for jokes Celestia, this is a serio---- Wha? What in the world is that!?”
The man named Edward is talking to a black snake coming out of the back of his right hand, the snake swirls around his arm as if it has control of him. Something like this should certainly be impossible and Allia's mouth hangs low in disbelief because of it.
Seeing how rattled Allia has gotten, Celestia pouts and snags the binoculars out of her hand.
Looking through, she sees what has gotten her partner so rattled.
“I-Is that snake coming out of his hand!? Eww that's gross!”
It would seem that the snake and the man are conversing with each other as if such a freak thing is commonplace.
Celestia is fixated on this as she tries to wrap her head around just what is happening, nothing comes to her mind that can be logically explained. All she can do is watch in amazement.
That is, until she sees the red eyes of the snake shift its gaze from Edward, directly towards her.
They make eye contact with each other for a split second and a chill runs down her back, coming to her senses she ducks behind the wall and takes deep breaths.
“What's wrong?” Allia asks.
With a pale face Celestia replies, “That snake... It saw me...”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
Allia finds it easy to shrug off because from the mansion to the cathedral is well over two kilometers in distance, something like someone seeing them crouched in the bell tower would be impossible.
“I'm serious! I swear it spotted me...” Celestia shoves the binoculars into Allia's chest. “Look for yourself.”
The two switch positions and Allia prepares to look through the window for the sole purpose of proving her wrong.
“Huh?” she mutters.
Allia squints her eyes through the lenses of the binoculars as she says, “There's no one there.”
“You're kidding right? Lemme see again.”
Celestia takes another look herself and sees the same thing, no one is there. There's almost an eerie emptiness about the room that makes her heart pound.
“What in the world... Where did he go?”
Suddenly, on the backs of their necks they feel the warm breath of someone accompanied by a deep voice saying,
“I'm right here.”
They both turn around as quickly as possible and find that the man named Edward they were doing surveillance on is standing just on the outside of the bell tower.
In that exact short instance where they were looking him in the eye, the midnight bell rang like it does every hour in the day.
With that, the bell tower explodes and sends the two girls flying violently into the air before crashing onto the cathedral rooftop.
The two go sliding down the roof's angled slope towards a fall that would definitely kill them, this cathedral is massive. Knowing that they must stop their momentum if they are to live, they both regain their senses and dig their feet into the tile-plated roof to halt their movement.
Once stopped, they quickly stand to their feet and look in the direction of the demolished bell tower and find that the large bronze bell is hurling down the roof in their direction like a bowling ball dropped down a flight of stairs. The bell likely weighs more than a couple tons, if they are hit by something that heavy they would jellify upon impact.
The two dive out of the way and luckily the bell takes one extra bounce and barely passes over their heads. They take deep breaths in a state of shock for a couple seconds until the sound of the bell smashing into the road below wakes them up to how close they are to death.
“It's interesting... being spied on like this. Who are you? Who ordered this?” The man named Edward asked while walking down the roof towards the girls.
They both struggle to stand but quickly grab their weapons and guard themselves, Celestia with her shield and Allia with her bow and arrow.
“We're here to kill you, that's all you need to know.” Allia smoothly responds.
Edward chuckles, and that chuckle turns into an arrogant laugh. “Do you know how many people have tried to kill me since this war started? I've already faced off with famous assassins hired by other Royals to take my fortune. What damage can a couple of young girls do?”
Little does he know, the two girls in front of him are part of the ten most elite soldiers the world over.
Allia and Celestia smile confidently, but they too must be worried. Because in that man's hand holds the power of a demon, a certain demon that can oppose the power of God himself.
Rain and Noah sit in the King's room in an awkward silence, at least it would be awkward if some other party were witnessing it. To them, it's as though they are communicating in silence like this is their natural way of doing so.
Rain is laying on the large King's bed; to be more precise, King Noah's bed.
Noah on the other hand is sitting on a chair on the other side of the room.
It is well past midnight and the lights have long been turned off since the two began trying to sleep, but the two are wide awake.
Rain is staring at the wall with an angered look on her face, Noah has his arms folded and is staring at her back that is coldly facing him. It is a full moon outside so the light from it that enters the room adds to the tension in the air.
“Why aren't you sleeping?” Noah asks.
“How can I sleep when I feel your sharp glare beating on my back?”
Noah doesn't answer, he instead huffs a sarcastic air out of his nose and looks away.
“Feel better now?”
“Not in the least.”
“Then there is nothing I can do for you.”
Rain bites her lip in order to sooth her pent up frustration.. This still doesn't prevent her voicing her displeasure.
“You know what, I'm tired of your shitty attitude Noah! You need to stop treating me like I'm an idiot that deserves to be looked down on!”
She grits her teeth, he is doing it again, this time he is adding a childish spice to it just to agitate her. She can't threaten to kill him because that has been done daily since arriving here as his hostage, it’s long lost its value as an actual threat.
When she really thinks about it, she wonders, what exactly can she do? She can’t help but feel she’s reached the limit of what she can possibly do for herself, the weeks living here under this situation has made it painfully evident.
This sense of entrapment and the emotions of anger it brings out of her, clouds her vision when she realizes something.
(...Am I really?)
Finishing her thought process for her is the voice of Noah saying,
“I know how much you hate depending on others to survive, but being dependent doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”
“I looked into your profile, or past if you will... I know how your life went from the moment you were born, from that I was able to grasp what kind of person you really are...” Noah says as his glare is returned into her back. “You always relied on the bravery of your father to give you the will to become strong yourself... Once he was disgraced as a coward, you lost faith in your own abilities that were modelled after him. So you abandoned them in favor of playing your part in the sociopolitical game of Nobility, it made it much easier for you to accept the whispers and insults from those around you I’m sure, stooping yourself to their level like that. But an imposturous version of yourself could only last so long, soon you switched your dependent nature to the comfort and the support of your mother.”
His words are beating on the back of her head, her throat becomes dry and she feels as if there is something trying to pull it down to her stomach. She can't retort, she just lets him continue with the pounding.
“You may have been able to withstand the vitriol flung your way for a time, but your mother couldn’t. When she died, the support that you desperately needed was finally taken away from you for good... With the attacks from within the Nobility continuing to follow you, you had no choice but to turn to the only friend you had left in Princess Daey.”
She feels as though the words that are entering her ears are taking on a life of their own. Those sorrowful memories are resurfacing in her head like a replay of a cheap film.
“Not long after, she was sent away to another country to be married and mysteriously vanished in the process, followed immediately behind that loss is the death of your father in a war caused by her very disappearance... With all of that loss, you gave your soul to an unknown being that promised you power of your own, he promised you freedom from ever having to depend on those that had always left you alone in the end.”
Noah pauses for a moment, but continues shortly after.
“Now I’m the one who took that liberating power away, leaving you once again with nothing.”
Suddenly, Noah feels the soft sensation of a pillow hitting him directly in the face.
Rain's voice is cracking as she yells, “You don’t think I haven’t realized that!?”
Noah glares at her in shock, tears flow down her red cheeks as she lets her emotions finally reveal itself to him.
“I’ve always known that I'm a weak person in reality, I feign strength in order to help myself get by… I hope you’re really proud of yourself for figuring that out.”
She throws the blankets off of her and starts using the assistance of her hands to prove her point.
“Since you have all the answers, why don’t you tell me just what I was supposed to do instead!? Everyone I cared for has been taken from me! Stolen from me by someone else!!” She puts the palms of her hands over her face and talks into them, “Can you really blame me for wanting something more than constant loss?”
Noah leans back in his seat in awe. This is Rain, this is the normal girl who was thrown into a tragic situation and exploited because of it. It's as though this is the first time he has met her, an overwhelming feeling is warming up in his chest.
This sensation prompts him to say,
“I don’t have an answer for your past. But I have an answer for you now.”
Rain takes her hands off her face and looks at him with an innocent face that she hasn’t shown since she was a child.
Noah's confident voice is brimming with security when he says, “You still have the power to make a change that no one else but you can, and you still have someone you can depend on. Everything you’ve lived through has led you here in front of me at this moment.”
Noah grabs Rain’s hands and looks her square in the eyes when he says, “My answer for this moment is for you to depend on me..”
“Depend on you?”
“You’re free to depend on me for however long it takes for you to embrace the power you do have. You have me to help you until you feel that you are finally at peace with yourself.” Noah smiles, “You're Rain Von Ronheim, and you have a lot more within your grasp than you think.”
The two look at each other for a few moments, Noah can feel Rain’s heartbeat pulsating through her hands as the two share this almost surreal moment. Rain is looking at him through her tear filled eyes as if she’s asking him if such an offer is really okay to accept.
Noah is astonished at how different she looks compared to before. What was once a face whittled with malice is now filled with an expression of hope and tenderness.
“You're an idiot.” Rain puffs and sharply throws herself back onto the bed. “I'm not going to be that easy.”
“I wasn't expecting it.”
She throws the covers back over shoulders and turns away from him, revealing the same cold back as earlier.
Noah lets out a sigh and gently smiles before resting his eyes to go to sleep.
“Hey.” Rain’s voice cuts through the silence. “You've been sleeping on that chair every night since I've come here...” She pulls the covers from her shoulder over her head and speaks in a small voice, “You can sleep here with me, the bed is big enough, and it is yours after all...”
“Is this a trick so you can smother me with a pillow in my sleep?”
Rain’s agitation at his reaction to her kindness can be felt permeating through the blankets when she replies, “I wouldn't do something so cowardly... If I'm going to kill you, I'll make sure you are looking me in the eye.”
Noah waits for a moment, and says under his breath so she can't hear,
Rain is normally one to speak in absolutes, all the way to this point, she had always expressed with ruthless assurity that she ‘will’ kill him. Hearing her say ‘if’, means she doesn’t hate him nearly as much.
Feeling grateful for what she just said, he decides to hop in the bed he hasn't slept on for quite some time.
“You are gullible, Noah. Who would’ve thought some sugary offer would entice the King to willingly allow himself to be so vulnerable.”
“I don’t think gullible is the right word,I told you before that I trust what you say completely. I don't think you realize how honest you are.”
“Hmph... I guess I don't.”
“Don't get cozy with me. You’re still a piece of shit.”
Amused by this version of the once stray cat-like Rain, he can’t help but let out a laugh.
“S-Shut up! I'm trying to sleep.”
As though letting a valve release the pent up pressure of this entire day, Noah allows himself to succumb to the moment he’s found himself. He begins to lose control of his laughter; Rain couldn’t possibly know it, but Noah is laughing in relief, appreciation, hope, and happiness.
Rain frowns and her face turns red, she doesn’t know why he’s become hysterical after she insulted him, but she feels as though his laughter is at her expense.
Certain that he is laughing at her and not with her, she takes the pillow from under his head and begins her comical attempt to smother him with it.
Lelaine's sleep is abruptly ended by the ear ringing noise of a loud explosion.
Two weeks have passed since the news of her husband being killed in an attack by La'Juune had reached her, and despite the explosion that has just shook her from her sleep, she struggles to find enough motivation to get out of the warm covers of her bed to investigate.
It isn't until she hears the accompanying noises of anguished screams that she gets up to take a good look. She slowly walks to her window to peer outside, and what she sees wakes her from her half drowsy mental state.
Hundreds, if not thousands of men are fighting to the death on her castle grounds.
If this sight alone wasn’t enough to frighten her, the men who are fighting are all wearing the uniforms of Trojan soldiers or Royal Guards. Her country's men are fighting amongst themselves.
“What the hell is going on here?” she asks herself, attempting to suppress the overwhelming shock of the sight.
She rushes out of her room for the first time in days and hurries into the hallway, all throughout the castle are the sound of swords clashing and the resounding echoes of battle cries and death screams.
Without a doubt, with each step she takes, her beloved castle is being filled with blood.
Not knowing which way to turn, she heads in directions at random until she runs into a guard of hers. He is bloody and injured, his breathing is shoddy and it looks as though he has been desperately running towards something.
“My Queen!” he shouts in exhaustion. “Y-You must escape!”
“General Sturgess... he has staged a coup!”
The guard grabs her arm and attempts to lead her to safety, but he suddenly feels the sensation that what he is pulling becomes weightless. He looks over to the source and sees the Queen standing with wide eyes a few meters away from him, and then, he sees an arm lying on the ground in front of him.
His arm has been severed at the shoulder, and the sharp loss of blood causes him to go into shock and lose and quickly lose consciousness.
Watching the bloodied man hit the ground in a loud thud has caused Lelaine's body to become stiff.
“I can't be letting a lowly guard put his grimy hands on you, Lelaine.” came the stern voice of Sturgess.
Sturgess is standing there triumphantly, holding a bloody sword with an exceedingly evil grin on his face.
Lelaine finds his smile to be so utterly disgusting that she has an acute difficulty staring him in the face when she asks, “You... how could you do this?”
“It was quite simple really...” He pulls out a rolled up piece of paper from the inside of his Trojan armor and hands it to her. “Go ahead and take a look.”
She unfolds it and begins to read as her eyes shake, she reads it aloud as if to make sure her mind is working.
“As a result of the King's death, we have concluded that Queen Lelaine is no longer suitable to run the country due to her mental state. Because of the harsh environment of the world during war time, she is to be relieved of her duties in order to protect the best interest of Troy. This is an official request for permission to commandeer the authority of the Queen.”
At the bottom of the letter is the signature of many members of Royalty and Nobility from around the city. The ones that stand out the most are the Leader of the Trojan Church Cardinal Franz Luudnt, and the Commander of the Royal Guard Anders Hansen.
These two have worked around the castle grounds and by her side for many years, for them to look her in the face with the intention to betray all this time makes her sick to her stomach.
At the bottom of the declaration is the large signature of Sturgess Wilhelm, the man who has been considered a childhood friend has written down his name so boldly on a proclamation of betrayal.
“I put a lot of effort into minimizing the bloodshed by getting this paper authorized. But some people didn't take the death of their King well, and they weren't about to accept power to be taken from the Queen without a fight... That's why some soldiers and guards are opposing me at this very moment.”
Sturgess said while twirling the sharp end of his sword on the smooth granite floor.
Lelaine stays silent in disbelief, Sturgess was supposed to be more than what he’s presenting himself to her as. This person she has watched grow up alongside her is revealing himself as a warped monster.
Sturgess continues to speak as though he is addressing the people still opposing him, or like he is attempting to break Lelaine's will to resist by pointing out the obvious.
“It's pointless of them though, even if the miracle of my men being defeated actually happened, it'd be too late. My coup has spread from the castle all the way to the front lines. Sooner or later the country's citizens will follow my rule as well, especially since I've already gained control of Troy's gold reserve. It's amazing how easy it is to sway the hearts and minds of people by dangling that pretty color in front of them.”
Lelaine despairs, dreadful thoughts of panic immerses her as she tries to comprehend the consequences of what has just happened. Without her title, the Queen is just a normal woman vulnerable to the men with weapons around her.
“It's the Queen!” a man shouts from deeper in the hallway.
He is accompanied by five others and they are all members of the Royal Guard. These men are loyal to the throne of the Queen and the sight of the blasphemous traitor named Sturgess sends them into a rage. They all charge to protect the woman they consider their ruler.
Seeing the men attack for her sake, Lelaine is filled with hope once more.
It's people like this who have given her strength as Queen, and even more so as a person.
With men like this working under her, there is no doubt that they will prevail in stopping this absurd coup.
All five of the men are ripped apart by an explosive wind that flies past her shoulder. Their limbs go flying in every direction and blood and flesh sprays and sticks to the walls like an abstract painting.
They didn't even get a chance to scream, as quickly as it started, the sight of the bloody aftermath of the massacre impacted her so greatly it immediately brought upon an intense migraine.
She quizzically moves her stiff neck towards Sturgess and sees that an evil black smoke is floating around his right hand.
A twisted thin smile is on his face when he says in an annoyed voice, “Those damn loyalists are a lot more persistent than I thought they’d be, but it is nice to test out my new powers. I enjoyed that.”
Lelaine can't even fathom what had just happened. What she had just seen is something that defies the laws of everything physically possible. Her hands begin to shake when one is grabbed by the evil hand of Sturgess, he tugs her towards him and the two begin to walk.
“W-Where are you taking me?” she struggles to ask through her dry throat, it's as though she is choking on a cotton ball while trying to speak.
He doesn't answer, but that thin smile remains on his face, and it grows wider and wider until he reaches a door and opens it.
The two walk in and he shuts the door behind him.
This room wasn’t chosen at random, this large and well decorated room is Sturgess' personal room given to him as the General of the Trojan army. This is where the plan to betray Lelaine was hatched and she can feel the energy of the lingering maliciousness towards her beating on her temples.
Lelaine turns to him and gives him a look of confusion, the look is asking him what he intends to do.
Sturgess feels obliged to answer, in fact, he is taking so much pleasure in tormenting her he is shaking.
With that horrifying look on his face he answers her glare by demanding,
“Lelaine... Take off your clothes.”
“Finally, we can get out of here.” Allia said in an exasperated tone upon reading from a letter she holds in her hands.
Both she and Celestia are resting on a comfortable leather couch in the living room of an over-sized mansion.
“Is that the new order?”
Allia waves the piece of paper in her hand that was just delivered by the postman through the mail slot in the door.
“That's right. It says we're supposed to go all the way to the southern point of La'Juune.”
“Ughh... It snows down there, I hate cold weather.”
“Well at least we can start moving again, I need to shake these injuries off.”
Celestia agrees and adds, “Yeah, who would've thought that Edward guy would be such a monster? Those powers really are frightening, I've never had that much of a problem fighting anyone before that. I mean jeez, I actually got hurt!”
Celestia has her left arm in a sling and she is waving it around to prove her point. Allia, who has a gauze pad on her cheek that totally cramps her pretty face even more than her hair style, is also quite amazed at how difficult the battle was.
The battle between them lasted for hours and they had barely won with their limbs intact, but the end result worked in their favor. After the fight with Edward they decided to wait in the man's house for further orders. Living leisurely in such a mansion has its benefits, free food and expensive liquors were a great reward to treat themselves with, but in the end they are still soldiers, if there isn't any action they become uneasy.
“To think that there are more of them hanging around the world right now... I hope the others will be okay, especially King Noah since one of them is alone with him in the castle.” Allia said worriedly.
“I'm sure they'll be fine, we can't really afford to stress about them when we have another mission to head to. Our focus should be on ourselves.”
“Oh wow look at you, so serious.”
“Hee hee I have my moments every now n' then.”
Celestia stands to her feet and picks up her shield with her available arm, she heads toward the door and urges, “Come on let's go, we have more of these 'chess pieces' to knock out of the game.”
“Take off my clothes?” Lelaine asks in shock.
That wretched smile is still on Sturgess' face as he demands, “That's right, do it now.”
Knowing what he intends to do, her fear is piqued. If she denies him, it is likely she will be ripped to pieces by his strange power. But if she agrees, she could live through this and wait for a chance to get control of the country back.
This is when she asks herself, just what is the true cost of either decision?
On one hand, she'll die and her country will forever be doomed to be run by a man who committed a great betrayal. On the other hand, she herself would have committed a great betrayal, not to the country of Troy, but to herself and her beloved husband.
She is still clinging to the belief that he is alive and can walk through her door at any moment to embrace her in his arms, she wonders if she’d be able to accept his touch if she goes through with doing whatever it takes to survive.
This overbearing thought of guilt and disgust for herself overruns the fear of death, she'd rather die than be forced into Sturgess’s sick fantasy.
This makes the decision easy, she frowns and looks at him with so much hate it feels though her glare alone could start a fire.
Sturgess' face twitches abnormally upon hearing that.
“No??” He takes a few steps towards her and the pitch of his voice rises, “No!?”
He takes a large step forward and smacks her with the back of his hand, she flies back and lands on top of his bed. He leaps on top of her and with that frightening right hand he grips the girth of her neck, cutting off any kind of air to her lungs.
His eyes contort as he looks down on her blue face.
“No!? It’s always a no with you, isn’t it!?”
“It was no when the candidacy for me to be your husband was denied back when we were kids! It was no when I offered myself to help you bear your second child in case Zurvick was killed. And it's no now! Even when I can kill you with a snap of my finger, it is still a no!?”
As if he wants any kind of reaction from her, he loosens his grip on her neck to let her speak.
Lelaine gasps for air and keeps that strong scowl pointed in his direction when she answers, “It's always going to be no... I'd rather die than ever have to look at you again. You'd be better off killing me now, because I'll fight you until you are forced to kill me.”
She's saying this as an off hand threat in case Sturgess still wants to force himself on her, she has already come up with a dozen ideas that would make his attempt an extremely painful and unpleasant one.
Sturgess understands this and it enrages him, he postures up and sends a clenched fist directly down on her forehead.
The solid sound of a fist hitting a skull resonates through the room. The punch had so much force that they both bounced a couple feet in the air as a result of the springs in the mattress contracting and retracting so quickly under their weight.
Lelaine's vision becomes hazy but she refuses to let herself lose consciousness in fear of him doing something to her in her sleep. A steady pressure pulsates with each heartbeat on her forehead and she knows a large knot is quickly forming.
However, she can't be thinking of such a thing at this moment because the black smoke that she saw floating around him has returned. It spreads from the back of his clenched right fist and into both of his ears from behind his head.
It's only then that she realizes that the person she is dealing with is no longer human; this is a monster that has revealed its evil in the plain of day. He is a man possessed by a demon, and that demon decided to show itself by coming out of the back of Sturgess' hand.
It is in the form of a black snake with blood red eyes.
Lelaine instantly recognizes it as the snake from her dream that offered to bring her daughter back safely at the beginning of the war.
The snake slithers up to her face and begins to speak, “You can see now what power you had refused by rejecting me. You could have had your daughter back, and your husband would still be alive if only you had allowed me to help you.”
Perhaps still hazy from the punch, Lelaine is left speechless at such a spectacle, this more or less feels like reality has left the world around her.
“But now look at you, quite literally on your deathbed because of your stubbornness. A sad fate for such a proud woman.”
It looks like the snake’s presence is causing Sturgess some pain, he holds his wrist in discomfort above the hand that the snake is coming out of.
“Let me handle this snake.” he says as his face contorts.
“Then handle it by killing her, she plays no part in our glorious future.”
The snake begins to shrink back into the pentagram, its eyes looking directly into Lelaine's as though it is mocking her on its way back in.
That is, until Sturgess does something that catches both the snake and Lelaine by surprise.
“..?” The snake stares at him awaiting an answer.
“This woman... If I kill her, she wins, I won't let that happen.”
“Then have your fun with her and get rid of her. We don't have time to be wasting on---”
The snake recoils back in shock as Sturgess continues.
“Forcing myself onto her eliminates all the pleasure... I want her to have to beg for my mercy, I want her to beg for my touch!”
“You fool, that won't ever happen!”
“Of course it will! All she needs is a little persuasion!”
A sick and scheming smile forms on his face, it's the kind of smile that would be nightmare fodder for children. This twisted smile is cast down upon the helpless Lelaine; the worst of thoughts rolling through her head as she contemplates what he means by 'persuasion.'
The snake shouts angrily. “You’d dare defy me now!? I have given you everything you've ever wanted have I not!?”
“If I kill her now, then what you have given me is not enough!!”
Sturgess slams his left hand into the snake and it disappears into the pentagram. But the black smoke still continues to float around him as he grabs Lelaine by the arm. He pulls her up to her feet and forcefully leads her out of the room.
Outside in the hallways and all over the castle grounds, the fighting of the coup still continues, but it would seem that the side allied with the Queen is on its last leg. Just by judging how the military men around her don't even care to give her a second glance tells her so.
“...Where are you taking me?” she asks weakly.
“To a place that will break that resolve of yours.”
After walking through a hidden passageway and down a long flight of dimly lit stairs, they reach their destination, a dark and dank dungeon that wreaks of mold and rusted metal.
Sturgess opens up the only jail cell in the room and roughly throws her in, he slams the cell gate shut and declares, “You're going to stay in here until you beg me to take you out.”
Trying to feign strength despite her devastation, she resolutely replies, “You should have listened to that snake and killed me, I’m never going to let you beat me.”
“Hahahaha! You say that now but what will you say in a couple week's time when you haven't eaten anything for days? What will you say when your throat is so dry that you begin to choke on your tongue? What will you say when you haven't seen even a hint light for weeks? What will you say then, hah!??”
She can feel his spit land on her face from behind the bars, this man that she grew up with is so far gone that he’s become a complete stranger.
She gives him a look of pity and leans against the uncomfortable stone wall.
The ten by ten cell has a toilet area and a small hay area in the corner for a bed with a little ratty blanket over it. On the walls are the graffiti of men who were once held captive in this little cell before her. Most of them are just scribbles but some are the etchings of how many days or weeks they have spent until they abruptly stop, the sudden end of which almost certainly meant their deaths.
She takes a deep breath and tells herself she can handle the dimly lit and windowless room as long as it takes in order for her to prove him wrong. She looks at him in disgust and shouts, “Go die, you pathetic man.”
Sturgess takes her insult in stride and smiles menacingly, he turns away from her and begins to head up the stairs to head out of the secret door. But not before blowing out every lit candle on the way.
Lelaine hears the door opening and slamming shut, it is then that she realizes it is so dark in the cell that she can't even see her hands. The eerie quietness is occasionally broken by the sound of water dripping from the ceiling or the rats squealing as they squabble over bread crumbs left behind by former prisoners.
This place, and this moment, is the definition of solitary confinement; and unlike the fairy tales, there is no knight in shining armor coming to save this damsel in distress. Her knight had been declared dead just a week earlier.
These looming thoughts can't keep her down though, she lays down on the straw bed and says to herself,
“Hurry up and come home, Zurvick...”
Just saying his name fills her heart with hope.
Until the darkness becomes so all encompassing that she doesn't even know if her eyes are open or closed...
Until the overwhelming smell of death in this dungeon finally reaches her nose in that terrible silence.
Until the knot forming on her head pulsates in pain with each heartbeat, with her senses dulled in the darkness if feels as though the very pain in her head is taking on a the physical form of a monster eating her alive slowly.
The sensations of the dreadfully dark world she has been thrown into assault her; it causes her to experience something she had so successfully thwarted until this very moment.
It has been two weeks since the Ten Knights of La'Juune were sent out to numerous locations across the world in order to defeat the mysterious power holders Noah calls the 'Devil's Pawns'.
It has also been two weeks since Ash was taken in by Noah for reasons unbeknownst to her.
Ash has yet to find out that she has been living only a few doors down from a certain girl who would go to any lengths to kill her.
Confused about her extended stay, Ash finds herself becoming restless at her disposition. She had come here to see if she had the will to forgive Noah, but with each passing day she finds it more difficult to do so. He is cold and demeaning, and has an uncouth smug air about him that makes her frustrated by the mere sight of him.
Any conscious attempt to hide her disdain for him has been abandoned as she glares at the back of Noah's head like she is trying to make it explode. Noah feels this pressure squeezing the area between his ears and asks, “Is there something in my hair?”
“Nothing but your ego.” Ash huffs.
The two of them are walking along the green grass of the castle grounds, earlier on in the day, Noah woke her up to tell her that they'd be going out on a picnic for lunch. She doesn't know what the occasion is but she had no choice but to oblige due to the situation she is in.
Though the company is bad, the day itself is perfect. Puffy white clouds spot the clear blue sky and their shadows occasionally block the gentle rays of sunlight. From atop the castle grounds, the skyline of the magnificent city stretches for as far as the eye can see, framing the green of the grass with a golden hue.
“For such a nice day, you sure are in a bad mood. You haven't gotten used to me at all these past two weeks?”
“Hmph! You are intolerable. I'd be surprised if anybody could get used to you.”
Noah doesn't reply immediately and keeps on walking until he reaches a table resting directly in the center of a grassy field.
“Here we are, have a seat.”
He pulls out one of the chairs from under the table and gestures to her to sit.
She scowls at him and sits down forcefully as she folds her arms combatively, intentionally trying to make him feel uncomfortable.
“You look like a pouting child.” Noah said as he took his seat on the other side of the table.
He then gestures to one of the butlers standing nearby, and the man walks up and pours them both a glass of wine.
“Do you like to drink, Captain Alworth?”
Ash isn't a drinker at all, in fact, she has never even had a sip. But with it presented to her like this, she considers the offer and finds the thought of it appealing when the pleasant memories of Zurvick drinking the Queen's homemade liquor comes to mind. She’s reminded of how he indulged himself whenever he was stressed, or celebrating one his numerous small victories or stroke of fortune.
This makes her smile and grab the cup to take a sip.
“Bugguaahh!?” she yelps as she spits it out. “This stuff tastes terrible!”
“I don't think I've ever seen that much of a bad reaction to wine, I’m finding it hard not to laugh.”
“S-Shut up! It's not my fault I'm not used to alcohol!”
“Then why'd you drink it then?”
Ash stops herself from speaking by putting her hand over her mouth. She doesn't want to get overly comfortable with him so she decides to go back into her bad mood and lean back in the chair with her arms folded once more.
“You were about to say something weren’t you?” Noah asks while grabbing one of the sandwiches prepared on the table and taking a bite of it.
She hisses at him and turns her head away.
“Since I already have you here, I'm quite interested to find out why you have surrendered yourself to an enemy country...”
“Can't you guess?” she replies sarcastically as if implying that he is the all knowing King who should already have the answer.
It would seem that Noah didn't catch that and began to answer her question seriously.
“If I were to try and guess... I would assume it has something to do with the death of your King.”
She flinches and Noah continues.
“But it can't be as simple as you wanting to get revenge for your leader, to come after me personally means that... He takes a sip of his wine and comes to a conclusion, “You were with him the Night of the Ball, you know it was I who ordered him dead.”
Ash frowns and viciously slides the back of her hand across her side of the table, the wine and the food that were so elegantly prepared fly off and it makes quite the loud noise.
She then grabs a knife that was supposed to be used for cutting bread and lunges it toward Noah's throat as she jumps atop the now bare table. Noah doesn't even flinch as the knife gets closer and closer to him.
It's as though he knew it was going to stop.
Ash doesn't take the final step needed to exact her revenge and instead has stopped herself just a few inches away.
The butler who poured the wine likely has some kind of battle experience because he unhesitatingly pulled a dagger out of one of his pockets and is holding it to Ash's neck with a straight face.
In such an intense situation, the only one calm is Noah.
With his hand he gently pushes the butler away and orders him to stand down.
Noah is now staring directly into Ash's crimson eyes and ignores the vibrating knife being held shakily in her hands that's only an inch away from his throat.
In as cold of a way as possible he says to her, “Just being present in Tronoble that night isn’t enough to bring about this look in your eyes. The truth is, you are in love with him aren't you?”
Ash talks through her teeth as she replies, “That's right...”.
“Then I was correct in assuming that you wouldn't kill me.”
“If it was for a political reason, you wouldn't hesitate to slit my throat. But since you came here out of love for that man, you came to try to forgive me in his honor... Hmmm, you are much stronger than a certain girl I know who's going through somewhat of the same situation.”
“You know... I'm having a real hard time with this.” she says in a low voice, “King Zurvick... He was so much better of a man than you, I can't stand the fact that a person like you gets to live while he had to die! How is that fair!?”
With his index finger he pushes the knife away from him.
Tears are welling up in her eyes as she lets him move away the weapon that was so close to enacting her revenge.
“You're right, it isn't fair,” he replies.
“Then why!? Why can't I kill you!? Why can't I decide what I want to do and do it!? Why can you, who's such a rotten person, know yourself so well and I can't!?"
Ash is yelling out her insecurities without much thought put into what’s causing her to do so. She speaks from pure emotion, feeling like she has become a fence sitter since Zurvick had died. Not being able to decide what to do or what kind of person she really is has made her resent herself. Looking at somebody like Noah, who makes his decisions instantly and acts upon them with an almost inhuman level of confidence adds to her anger. She doesn't want to be just like him, but under certain circumstances like dealing with the aftermath of a death, why is it that he gives off the vibe that he can deal with it better than she can?
Is it because he is better than her?
Is it because she is weak minded?
Just what kind of person is Ash anyway?
What is there to live for now that her most important person is gone?
Just what is she supposed to do now?
Noah can sense those questions rolling through her mind as she fights back the decision to kill him.
What he knows that she doesn't, is that those questions all fall under one answer, and it is the most difficult one to find.
Noah stands to his feet and puts his hand on her shoulder. “I can only speak for my rotten self. Those questions you have for yourself can only be answered by you... whenever you manage to find it, you'll be fulfilled.”
“I-I can't do that on my own.” the stunned Ash said while zoning out on the knife in her hand.
“Then I'll help you.”
Ash quizzically looks up and stares at him.
“I won't be able to give you the answer that you need, but I can help you find it.”
Having the King of La'Juune offer his assistance to an enemy soldier sounds absurd to her, but he presses forward.
“I'm going to need your help with a person who is very important to me as well, so the least I can do is help you forgive me... Even if I have to take on your hate, I'll do anything I can.”
Noah begins to walk away, leaving her swirling in a dustbowl of her emotions.
Ash wants to ask why he’d do this, but she feels that whatever answer he gives would only add to her confusion. She drops the knife and stands to her feet, glaring at his back that she hates so much, and then out of nowhere she feels that it may not be so bad after all.
Once back inside the castle, the two of them reach Prince Luke's room and Noah opens the door for her. She walks in silently and then glares at him as if she wants to say something but can't find the words to do it.
“I'll have dinner sent to your room for you tonight.” Noah said with a faint smile.
He then shuts the door and the last thing he sees is the glow of concern in Ash's eyes, before the door completely shut he thought he heard her softly say, “Wait.”
He pauses for a moment, but at the end he thinks nothing of it. He takes the key to the keyhole to lock her in but at the last second, he decides that locking her up like a prisoner isn't needed since she isn't a threat.
Noah throws the key in his pocket and turns to walk away when...
“There you are.”
Looking at the source of the voice, he finds Rain standing there with a look of displeasure on her face.
“I'd really like it if you'd stop sneaking up on me like that.”
“I don't care what you like... You said you had something that you wanted to show me, so I want to see it.”
“Oh? Could it be that you are excited about something like that? It's not a wedding ring so don't get your hopes up.”
“Don’t be stupid.” she puffs, her cheeks slightly flushed. “why would I want something like that??”
“Hahahahah, I could get used to that look on your face, Rain. But seriously, I can't show you just yet, it's not ready.”
“Fine then, I'm not gonna beg you.”
Noah is trying to lead her away from Ash’s room in order to avoid disaster. He was actually planning on revealing her to Rain today, but feels that she isn't ready to drop her revenge just yet. The only reason he brought Ash to the castle in the first place was so he could introduce the two and have it somehow result in Rain abandoning the hate that has consumed her.
The two words of 'revenge' and 'forgive' seemingly circle around Noah and he can't help but feel surrounded by the pressure of them.
The two walk along the hallway in silence until Rain holds out her hand to him.
Noah looks at her hand and then to her face and asks, “What?”
“Hold my hand, you idiot. Don’t embarrass me and leave me hanging like this.”
“I thought we got through this phase already, your power is almost gone so I don't need to hold your hand anymore.”
Rain scowls at him, she turns her head away and asks, “What if I said that I just wanted you to do it?”
Noah is certain he had heard this somewhere before, and he is pretty sure she had taken these words out of his own mouth. With this in mind, he replies by returning the favor.
“Then I'd say you're full of shit.”
Rain begins to laugh, she tries to act like him in order to jab at him and in turn he ends up acting like her to give it right back. Since her stay here at the castle she has tried to wittingly one up him multiple times but has yet to do it even once.
But, she has a secret weapon, she is still an attractive girl, this alone can outdo any form of witty words.
She grabs his hand anyway and leans her head on his shoulder, she knows this got to him because his shoulders instantly tensed up.
She smiles and in a soft chuckle she says, “Think what you will.”
Noah is genuinely confused about what is going on, he has many thoughts running through his head. However, the thought of enjoying this peaceful and carefree moment with her, even if she is only teasing him, makes him genuinely happy.
“Hey...” Rain says softly.
“What is it?”
“You know... I remember you once told me that you must be a terrible person in order to be hated so much...”
Noah sighs as if anticipating an insult.
“What about it?”
“...That's not true.”
“You're not a bad person at all. In fact, I have grown to find you quite wonderful.”
“Are you kidding me?”
His normal sleepy expression lightens up in disbelief, he is waiting for her to say something sarcastic afterward but nothing happens. She instead says something that makes him feel like he stopped breathing for a moment.
He can't see her face, but if he could he would probably see her blushing.
Since the war started he has likely been the most hated man in the world, he has accepted that hate and was rewarded with loneliness. It was only confirmed that he is such a despicable person when the feelings of Ash and Rain were so negative towards him. It has gotten to the point where he has just given up on trying to change his image and has chosen to embrace it as a way of protecting himself.
Noah tries to fight back a smile but it isn't working, he is overcome with happiness.
Trying to do good things and being hated while doing so is enough to destroy the toughest of men. Having the person he is trying to do good by showing her appreciation for the first time is enough for him to feel like he has stumbled upon salvation.
“Thank you...” he replies shyly.
This is a moment that both of them have yet to experience, it feels like this could go on forever and they'd enjoy every second.
Thet joy comes to an abrupt halt when he hears a voice from behind him calling his name.
He recognizes this voice and turns around to see Ash running down the hallway towards him wanting to say something.
(Oh no...) he thinks to himself as a cold sweat falls down his temple. (I knew I should have locked that damn door!)
He feels his arm being squeezed tightly and looks toward Rain.
Her eyes are wide open and she is glaring at Ash with a broken look that screams agony. The person who killed her father is in the castle of La'Juune, the only living source of her hate is defenselessly running towards her.
Not caring how or why she is here, Rain steadily loses all control of which way her body moves.
Her right hand that was holding Noah's left begins to shake violently, the pressure of her hate sends shock-waves up his arm so severe he's forced to let go.
Shaking off the sudden surge of pain, he quickly grabs her shoulders and shouts,
“Rain! Don't look at her! Turn away!”
But Rain's eyes never leave their target, it's as though she is some kind of robot that has locked on to something it intends to fire heat seeking missiles at. Any kind of rational thought process Rain had just a split second earlier has been eliminated and replaced by the desire for one thing... Revenge.
Suddenly, out of the back of her right hand a black smoke comes rushing out, it zooms behind her back and begins forming what looks to be wings. Those wings flap and
The hallway behind her gets blown into bits.
Pieces of the wall are sent flying and the ground collapses to its lower levels. The wind sent all kinds of debris flying in a vortex through the hallway window and out of the castle like a vacuum.
The noise was so sudden that Ash fell to the ground. This black smoke and evil aura reminded her of Prince Dice of Eiyalazo. The same killing intent that flowed to her from him is felt tenfold from this girl she has never seen before.
“Rain!” Noah shouts, hoping desperately that his voice will reach her.
The delicate features of Rain’s feminine face became distorted like a plastic doll on fire. Her eyes turn from its transparent sky blue into two black pentagrams.
The sleeping hate that was thought to have been sealed has revealed itself darker than ever before.
“Damn it!” Noah shouts before rushing to Ash's side.
“W-Who the hell is that!?” Ash asks as Noah shields her with his body.
Trying to be as calm as possible he replies, “Rain Von Ronheim... You and King Zurvick are the ones that killed her father Ditreig.”
That name seemingly haunts Ash wherever she goes, the last time she heard that name Zurvick was killed; and now it shows up once again. The man she killed in a secret mission during a world war has brought her nothing but disaster.
How can such a man's death cause her world to change so much?
The answer is right in front of her, spewing the desire to kill under that terrible word called revenge.
Rain floats towards them and Noah takes nervous steps back, if he isn't careful they could both be blown away by one of those ferocious attacks. Thinking about how to get out of this situation is making his head spin, and to add to that, Rain opens her mouth and lets out a voice.
“What did you expect would happen if Rain saw the person who killed her father standing right in front of her?”
The voice exiting her mouth is not hers, it is a deep voice of a man that is filled with the overbearing pressure of evil.
“Who are you!?” Noah inquires.
Rain's mouth again moves and the voice replies, “I am the opponent you are playing this game of chess against.”
“Holy shit I'm tired!” Elise says in exhaustion as she and Jeffrey finally reach the Capital of Eiyalazo.
The two of them are traveling with a convoy of numerous knights and other higher up officials. Carriages are being pulled by large white horses that are wearing decorative saddles and robes, the carriage proudly displaying the Eiyalazonian flags and colors.
“Yeah that was a pain in the ass... But who would've thought that we'd be lucky enough to stumble upon this political convoy.” Jeffrey responds while picking at his ear, “To top it off it was the one holding the two people we were sent here to protect.”
Elise takes a look at the leading carriage where the King and Queen of Eiyalazo are.
“Lucky is an understatement, but then again it's easy to fool people like them when pretending to be a part of the Royal family. Especially ones they haven't even met in person.”
On their way to the Capital, they stopped in a city and found out that the King and Queen were in town on a campaign to boost public morale and raise funds for the war effort. In order to get close to them, they decided to do some snooping around to find out who the local members of the Royal family were. Once they found out that it was a husband and a wife, they decided to invade their home and take their place.
As brutal as that may sound, they didn’t end up killing the couple, instead they just tied them up for a while and dropped them off somewhere random in the middle of a forest.
Part of this political campaign involves meeting all the people in person supporting the war effort, the couple whose identity Jeffrey and Elise took were on that list. It couldn't have worked out any better really, these particular Royals have never met the King and Queen in person, so there is no way that they would suspect anything.
The two of them showed the campaign sympathy and asked to join them on their way back to the Capital to continue their support. They offered a great deal of money to spend a couple days at the castle and then go back home, to which the King and Queen happily agreed to.
As of right now, Jeffery's name is Harold Berman and Elise's name is Melissa Berman, both are distant relatives of the King.
Jeffrey is definitely taking this luck in stride, crowds of people in the streets welcome them back and he waves back at them politely as if he deserves to do so.
He then shows a somewhat sour face and says, “I still can't believe this is happening though... I mean the two leaders of one of the enemy countries are right in front of us, on any given day we'd do anything to kill them. But now we are to do anything in our power to protect them, the irony sure is a kick in the balls.”
Elise agrees and leans back in the seat of the open carriage as the view of the world's most massive castle becomes closer and closer. The convoy eventually reaches the front gate and crosses the suspension bridge over the moat.
At the very front of the castle grounds, a certain young man is waiting to greet them.
This young man is immediately recognized by Jeffrey, an uneasy feeling instantly reaches his stomach as this young man's face brings back memories of a monster.
He pokes at Elise's shoulder and gestures to her to look in the young man's direction.
“Although the King and Queen may no longer be our enemy... their son is.”
“Y-You can't be...” Noah struggles to speak out of his dried throat.
“It’s taken a lot of work over the last thousand years, but the great God Satan has made his triumphant return to Earth.”
“I knew it! I knew it was you!”
“I’ll have to admit that I am surprised, receiving an open challenge from a simple human child like this.”
As if finding courage in the fact that he was correct, Noah confidently smiles and demands, “Did you really think now one would be here to stop you? Let her go.”
“I don’t think you understand the position you’re in, what makes you think you can do anything to stop me?”
Rain takes her hand and points it out towards Ash and Noah.
An invisible wave of energy is sent flying towards them and it is ripping the hallway apart in its wake.
Ash knows that if they take a hit from this incoming wave, they would be turned into mincemeat; she shuts her eyes instinctively and shrinks away from it. But Noah again guards her, and with his left hand he takes the invisible energy into his hand as though it were a ball being tossed to him, and tosses it aside.
It smashes into the side of the wall and explodes in the adjacent room, ripping it to shreds.
He then takes Ash's hand and shouts, “Run!”
The two run as fast as they can whilst Rain flies in the air in haste.
“I still don't know what's going on here!” Ash yells while being dragged along.
“All you need to know is that girl is possessed by the Devil, and is trying to kill you.”
Ash easily believes him upon hearing that. She has been raised as a Catholic just like most Trojans are and the horror stories such as possessions are preached about occasionally in the pew. But once she reached a certain age she stopped taking such things to heart and drifted away from the religious beliefs of her upbringing. She still held those memories inside though, thus the reason she is able to comprehend what is going on if only just a little.
“Why is the Devil trying to kill me and not just that girl!?”
“Because that girl sold him her soul under the condition that you'd die. If he can't kill you, then the contract binding Rain's soul is nullified. On the other hand if he does kill you, Rain's soul is lost forever and he can have complete access to her body, the full power of Satan would be brought upon my country and it would likely be destroyed.”
Seeing how big of a deal her life is and how much her death would affect the world actually makes her extremely nervous.
“Then should I hide somewhere??”
“No, we're going to fight.”
The two were so deep in their conversation that before they knew it, they had entered the large and bare ballroom of the castle.
The ballroom here is at least three times bigger than the one in Tronoble; It has been used not only for balls, but even as a courtroom for popular criminal cases. For the most part however it is used for the King's speeches, especially during wartime. In fact, Noah had a speech here just a few days ago addressing some military commanders and their battalions about what to do now that the Knights were gone.
To get a proper grasp on how large the ballroom is, there were four battalions of three hundred people occupying it at the time.
The chairs they had once sat on have been removed and placed in storage so the only thing remaining is the bare smooth marble floor that seemingly stretches forever.
Rain follows them into the room and demolishes the door she had entered from with a flap of her now extremely large black wings. With the roof of the room being so high, she flies even further upwards as though she were a bird of prey stalking a rodent.
“You were able to stop my attack with your left hand… this power, tell me, how did you obtain it?”
“I'd rather have you answer my questions first.”
“Will this be an equivalent exchange?”
“If that’s what you want.”
“Then ask away.”
Noah takes a deep breath, although he feels like he has a trump card, he knows he is still dealing with a being that has been the source of mankind's dismay for thousands of years. To be confronted by such a being has him frightened, it takes all of his willpower not to show it when he asks,
“Where are they?”
“You mean the people whose absence started this war?”
Satan pauses, and this leaves time for Ash to grasp the topic of discussion. She pulls on Noah's sleeve and asks, “This guy knows where Princess Trojia is!?”
“Of course he does, I am under the firm belief that it was him who kidnapped them.”
“Hahahahahaha!” Satan laughs, causing them to look puzzled. He folds Rain's arms and declares, “It's funny how you are only a few steps away from the truth, yet so far from knowing it.”
“Then tell me the truth!”
“I can't say that I'm not involved in it in any way. But this war, and those disappearances are caused by my son Damien.”
“Yes, that son of mine never even told me what he was planning. To this day I still don't know his true intentions, but I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to take advantage of a situation like this. While he's dealing with 'him' over there in Purgatory, I'll take control of Earth.”
“So they’ve been sent to Purgatory... General Napoleon, my brothers, are they alright?”
A thin smile surfaces on Rain's face, it's as though Satan is taking sick pleasure in what he's about to say.
“Your middle brother Luke is dead.”
Ash, who has been just standing by feels a tight pressure in her chest upon hearing this, she has been staying in Luke's room after all. She understands the feeling of loss that comes with the death of a loved one.
Not even giving him time to soak it in, Satan demands, “Now tell me, how did you obtain the power in your left hand?”
Surprisingly, Noah only needs a deep breath to soak in the death of his brother before finding it within himself to answer calmly.
“It's an interesting story actually…” The tips of Noah’s lips rise. “Your son has made a big error... the man who gave me this power was abducted along with the rest. So in his absence, it is my job to fulfill his wish.”
“That's not good enough of an answer. This man, who is he?”
As if those words were a trigger, Noah rushes toward the sky bound Rain.
The look of Satan on Rain's face is that of confusion, and behind him he can feel the quizzical glare of Ash as well.
“In my hands, is the power to destroy you.”
“Tell me who the man is!”
Noah spreads his arms and shouts, “You’ll find out with this!”
He then slams his left hand into the ground and is catapulted up to her level.
Knocking away the shock of the situation, Satan swings Rain's right hand and sends a black beam screaming towards him.
“No, I’ll find out with this.” Satan said as his eyes rolled from Noah and onto Ash.
The beam makes an awkward bend to the right and is now heading directly toward the Trojan Captain.
Noah turns around mid flight and shouts, “Ash, get out of the way!!”
Ash quickly dives forward and the beam hits behind her, accelerating her dive by the explosion. She flies a good ten meters away and tumbles along the ground, she then takes a look and sees a massive crater behind her. No doubt she'd have been turned to dust if that thing hit her.
Noah can't stop his momentum and ends up grabbing Rain's shoulder with his left hand, and in that instant Satan becomes paralyzed.
“As long as Ash is still alive you are nothing but a shadow of your real self. In this state, you are weak.” Noah said as the two hang in the air.
“Don't underestimate Rain's hate, you pathetic human boy! This is more than enough to kill you!”
Rain grabs his throat and begins to choke him while black smoke swirls around her arm.
Even though he is struggling to breathe, Noah smiles and explains, “You know... There isn't anything that benefits God fully from the left hand.” While saying that, he pulls her closer so he can look into her pentagram eyes. “There were angels sitting at the front, at the back, and at the right of God's seat. But nothing on the left. Jesus cured illnesses, blessed people, and performed miracles with his 'right' hand. Even the Bible was written with the right hand…”
“My left hand has the power to deflect an evil like yours, it’s why Rain hasn’t been able to wreak havoc here in my castle this entire time.”
As if knowing what is going to happen, Rain's eyes grow large as Noah concludes.
“But in my right hand, I hold the power of the Son of God! I am no mere human, I have the power to destroy you!”
Noah takes his right hand and grabs the hand holding his neck, a sound like that of glass splintering and then breaking reverberates throughout the room.
As if being electrocuted, Rain's body jolts in many different directions as Satan screams at the top of his lungs.
“Urraaaagghhh!!! It can’t be! How is it that you have this ability!?!?”
The black smoke is sent into a frenzy and flows all over, Ash stares upwards in amazement as the gurgled screams become louder. Looking closely at Noah, she can see that there is blood flowing out of his mouth, ears, nose, and even his eyes.
The pain that Satan is going through answers the questions rolling through his mind while looking at Noah, it dawns on him that the person he is in this chess game with was given an advantage as well. He’s found himself in a game where his opponent can simply jump pieces on the board and attack his king piece without any interference.
He’s found himself competing in this sham of a game against an opponent on equal ground.
The luxury of having the power to dictate the game has been taken from him right at the first move on the chessboard.
“The man that you were talking about, it couldn't have been him!?!?”
Noah shows his blood stained teeth in an intense glare, revealing to Satan that it is exactly what he feared.
“I won’t let you survive this!” Satan yells. “You might think that you are no mere human, but your body tells me otherwise, you can’t take on Rain’s hate! It will eat you from the inside out and you will die!”
“I don't care if it kills me! You will never have her, even if it costs me my life! Now give her back!!”
The black smoke moves from its frenzied state and zooms into every opening on Noah’s face, his body writhed as the pain hits him in an avalanche.
He still musters up the strength to shout a word whose meaning only he and Satan would know.
The electric sounding noise reaching the ears pierces the air as evidence of the pain he must be feeling.
He lets out a ghastly yelp as blood falls from his body and splashes on the ground.
"Noah!!” Ash shouts.
But he doesn't respond, he simply twitches as the evil from Rain's hate rushes into his body like a poison.
Satan's voice begins to dissipate from Rain's mouth and he leaves Noah with final words.
“You have found yourself ahead in this game, but you won’t survive long enough to see it through.”
Rain's eyes shut and she drops her head, the wings that kept them afloat vanish and the two fall toward the hard marble floor.
With his last bit of consciousness, Noah wraps his arms around her and tilts his weight so he lands on the ground first to cushion her fall.
Knowing that a fall from that distance could be bad, Ash rushes to them as fast as she can to help them after they land. The sound of Noah's body smashing into the ground increases her leg speed, and when she reaches them, the damage has already been done.
They are both unconscious and she doesn't know who to tend to first, she pulls Rain off from atop him and holds Noah's head in her lap. In case he broke his neck in the fall, she tries to keep it as straight as possible.
She contemplates giving him CPR but when she feels him breathing without much restriction, she lightly taps him on the face and shouts his name, but no answer comes.
Came the voice of a girl who has just opened her blue eyes and is looking at her with an intense glare.
“W-Wait! This isn't what it looks like” Ash attempts to explain, gesturing with her hands to emphasize her point. “I'm not trying to hurt him!”
Unbeknownst to her, Rain was conscious during the whole ordeal, she was literally trapped in her own body as it was attempting to kill them both.
Throughout time, most possessions are just like this, otherwise the person wouldn't ever know that they were under the control of a demon in the first place.
Rain pushes Ash away from him and shouts, “Get away!”
Wrapping her arms around him, she begins to sob.
“Wake up Noah...”
He still doesn't answer.
“Wake up! I can’t depend on you if you leave me just like everyone else! You’re not allowed to make me a promise and just die like this, damn it!”
The tears fall rapidly down her face as she contemplates coping with another major loss.
What would be even worse for her is the fact that it would essentially be her fault.
The emotions of it all are just about to boil over when she feels the gentle touch of a hand wiping the tears from her eyes.
It is Noah, even with blood all over his face, he still manages to show her a smile.
“Don't worry... I have no intention of leaving you just yet.”
Rain is immediately overcome with relief, she almost can’t believe that her words actually reached him.
“Good...” She takes his hand and helps him wipe the tears off her cheek. “I’m not near ready for you to go.”
Noah gestures to Rain to sit him up and she does so.
Ash looks almost as happy as Rain to see that he is okay, and she takes a big sigh as if letting out the pressure that has been building up since this whole thing started.
He takes deep but short breaths when he addresses Ash, “I need you to listen to me...”
Sensing the seriousness of his tone, Ash replies in kind, “What is it?”
“Your role in this game is not here in La'Juune... you need to go back to Troy. Your Queen... Satan has control of someone very close to her... he needs to be stopped.”
“B-But what can I do? I can't fight something like that by myself.”
“I sent four of my Knights to the Capital of Troy specifically to fight him. They will help you.”
“Who will we be fighting?”
“General Sturgess, I'm sure you know of him.”
“Of course I do, that guy...”
Ash stands to her feet and addresses Rain.
“Your father Captain Ditreig, his dying words were warning King Zurvick about him... we were on our way back to the Capital for that very reason when Tronoble was attacked.”
“My father really did that?”
“That's right, he said he had a bad feeling about him for years... and that the only reason he gave him this information is because he felt they would always be friends, no matter what.”
Rain laughs out of her nose and looks away. “That's just like that buffoon..."
Hearing what his final words were, the familiar feeling of admiration for him returned; even disgraced and on death’s door, he remained the honorable person she had spent her whole life looking up to.
"To try to help the man who killed him... only my father would do something like that.”
“Please listen to me...” Ash said with a determined look on her face, she takes a deep breath and then bows as low as she can go. “I'm sorry! I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me one day, I truly never meant to hurt anybody!”
Rain reveals a strained smile and says something that would have never crossed her mind if it weren't for Noah.
“There's nothing to forgive... You were doing your job in a war you have no control over. I was foolish to ever bear hate towards you, my father would be ashamed of me...”
This puts both Noah and Ash in a state of disbelief, to be able to come to terms with the death of her dad so quickly after being so angry about it is amazing.
This is when Ash realizes that she ought to do the same, she gets ready to speak to Noah but he speaks before she can.
“Since we're on that topic, I must apologize too... I know I ordered the death of a great man, I wish I was smart enough to have found another way. I wish I had never made a decision that caused you and so many others so much pain, but I had to take on the burden of Rain’s hate if I wanted to find out what happened to our loved ones. I really am sorry.”
The words that Ash was about to speak were swiftly taken away with that.
All of that animosity that she held towards Noah since the Night of the Ball had built up to this point, only to be destroyed and replaced by a sense of appreciation for him.
She has learned that can do it after all, she can truly forgive Noah, the King of La’Juune for the great injustice of taking her one true love away from her.
Ash responds with a smile and heads for the exit of the ballroom.
With her back turned to them she says, “It's like Rain said... It's war.”
She turns around and raises her voice, “I couldn't protect the King, but I'd be damned if I let his wife be in harm's way without a fight. You said you would help me find the answer right? I know I'll get a better handle on myself once this whole mess is over, and perhaps then I can finally move on..."
She smiles and clenches her fists in determination.
"So let's end this war, together!”
“I see... Then go, Captain Alworth, protect everything that man stood for and find the answer for yourself.”
Ash smiles and begins to run off, but not before leaving him with some final words,
“You can call me Ash.”
Satan sits alone in the dark room with his chessboard laying in front of him.
He has an evil grin on his face when he speaks to himself, “As much as I wanted to use Rain to kill you, the raw evil that I fed to that girl now coursing through your veins should be more than enough to take care of that problem in due time.”
He rests his head on his knuckle, "And let's not forget about that friend of yours who gave you that bothersome right hand... I'll be sure to pay him a visit.”
Out of his wide grin a deep snicker starts to form, and it in turn grows into a loud laugh of confidence.
There isn't much for him to be confident about, he has just lost a crucial piece in Rain on his side of the chessboard.
Not to mention, the presence of his great enemy in Purgatory, and the power of his great enemy left with Noah on Earth is something he never could have foreseen happening.
To add on to that, Dice has yet to kill his parents.
To add on to both of these problems, Sturgess has defied his orders and left Lelaine alive.
All of those together, equals a game in which he is in the process of losing, and the chessboard before him shows him that as if mocking him.
Satan swings his hand and knocks the board off the table, chess pieces fly all over and the sound of the ivory pieces rolling along the ground eat at his ears. Before it was knocked down in anger, the board most certainly told him exactly what Noah had said earlier.
“Stupid London and Lennox. They shouldn't have left me alone so they could go find a hotel that's closest to the castle.” said Ebihara Seiri in a way befitting of her young age.
Standing behind her is Haas, and he is as stone faced as ever when he attempts to say,
The two of them are walking in the Capital city of Troy in a town plaza to go shopping for food that will last them for a couple of days. She and Haas, along with London and Lennox are the Knights in charge of assassinating General Sturgess. So as of now they are in the preparation stage after having just arrived in the city a few hours earlier.
“Yeah well you don't count as anybody, you might as well be my shadow.”
Her insult flew over Haas’s head and hit a woman who just happened to be walking by; the woman doesn't know what their conversation is about but those simple words sent chills down her spine as she went on her way.
Haas would love to give her some kind of witty reply, but sadly he is physically unable to do so. All he can do is accept it.
Seiri looks around the bustling town square and changes the subject. “Really though, it's like these people don't even care that their country has been taken over from under their noses. It's just like it never happened.”
This is the typical reaction of people who are put in this kind of situation.
Of course there are ones who vehemently disagree with a political upheaval like the one that had occurred just a couple weeks earlier. But for the most part, people will just go along with it in order to protect themselves and the lifestyles they live. To them, it's already done, no amount of protest would change the situation they’ve found themselves in, it’s much easier to mind their own business and blindly hope for the best.
“It never ceases to amaze me how Noah can predict these things though, I'm pretty sure he sent the four of us here specifically to end this revolution of sorts before the coup even started.”
This is in fact true, the others were paired in groups of two because they would only be fighting one enemy at a time. However, he sent four here because chances are they would be fighting whole battalions. He even gave them orders ahead of time to try to create a disturbance in the general population and form a rebellion so the people of Troy would be involved in winning the country back.
This way, no one would even know that it was La'Juune that actually saved them.
The thought of saving the people of Troy's pride in the process of completing this mission wasn't even overlooked in his plans.
“...Yes...” Haas agrees.
“Alright then, let's not let his efforts go to waste. We'll get this shopping done and start gathering people for a rebellion. Hehehehe, I see a lot of light shows in our near future!”
A man wearing a thick brown overcoat with its hood over his head walks into the Capital city of Troy.
He looks out in the distance and sees the beautiful white castle that seemingly floats into the sky like a cloud. A smile forms on his face as the cool breeze flows through his nose and he is overwhelmed with the feeling of nostalgia.
The two legs that have moved him along this long journey can finally relax. The shoulders that have been carrying a heavy luggage bag for countless miles drop in relief, and the tension in his bones seemingly disappear once freed from the effort of his trek.
He starts doing some ridiculous looking stretches in the middle of a town plaza which prompts hundreds of creeped out passersby to give him dejected looks. But this man doesn't care, he says the reason why when he stretches his arms upwards and declares,
After speaking in a voice that obviously hasn't had much action as of late, he starts to do an outstandingly disturbing form of a jumping jack. In the process of doing this he accidentally bumps into a little girl of about twelve.
“Kyah!” she yelps as she falls to the ground, dropping a duffle bag and having its contents roll all over the street.
“Ooh!? I'm so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going!” he shouts in an overly apologetic manner.
The girl with long black hair has a cute pouting face as she picks up the contents of her bag; the man immediately tries to help her, but is taken aback when he notices she is hastily grabbing alcohol flasks.
The girl scours the area with her slightly teared violet eyes as if searching for someone, she finds him and grabs onto the pant-leg of black man who holds no emotion in his face.
She turns to the man in the brown coat and starts to sniffle adorably as she softly says, “P-Please forgive me... I don't want to make anybody mad because I just moved to the Capital.. You see... m-my parents died when I was little, me and Haas here escaped from the orphanage that mistreated us."
The man waves his hands to interrupt her.
“Wait wait wait wait! I'm 100% sure I've heard this story before!”
The little girl's face that was just so adorably cute, turns twisted in a way that resembles a delinquent that has just found out that the kid he has been stealing lunch money from had ratted him out.
“No no it's not like I don't believe you or anything! Look!”
The man takes off his hood and shows her his light brown hair and his dark green eyes.
His face is lodged somewhere in the back of her memory and it takes her a few seconds to fully recognize him.
“Oh? You're that guy!”
The man smiles and pulls her up to her feet when he says,
“I guess I never properly introduced myself back then... The name's Zurvick.”
Chapter 47: Their Rebellion
Noah and Rain sit in a horse drawn carriage travelling eastward on a road in what seems to be an area completely void of human activity. After a twelve hour train ride to the border, the two had proceeded onto a scheduled carriage to take them across the border to Eiyalazo.
All around them are nothing but rolling hills of green grass and the paved road they are on makes its way through them in delicate ups and downs. The red oak carriage is enclosed and rather large, it takes six horses to pull it and the chauffeur holding the reins is secluded outside in order to give the passengers their privacy. On the inside is a red suave seat that wraps around the entirety of the cabin, and the walls even hold fine art. The bar in the corner for drinks really gives it the extra tinge of first class needed for royalty.
To put it simply, this carriage is the horse drawn version of a limo.
However, the face Rain is making shows that all these amenities mean nothing to her at all, she has her arms folded in a combative manner and wears a light frown.
“Don’t give me that look.” Noah says when he feels her demeanor weighing on him.
“What did you think I’d say when all the sudden you told me that we’re going to Eiyalazo? You didn’t even give me a reason why.” Rain replied.
“Aren’t you excited that you get to go back home?”
“Not really, there’s nothing for me here.”
“I’m sure there is someone at home that means something to you. Stop being so pessimistic and look forward to it.” Noah said, he didn't even turn his head to address her when he said that.
Rain clicks her tongue and is left thinking about what he just said to her, and that’s when Prince Dice just so happens to unintentionally pop in her head. She had almost completely forgotten about him due to the events of recent weeks. The last time she saw him he had succumbed to the poison of anger and hate he was overcome with.
Understanding that just recently she was in the same position, and was miraculously saved by the right hand of Noah, she figures that he is still consumed by it.
She begins to worry about him, and she feels a strange pressure in the pit of her chest as she looks at the back of her hand and zones out on the area where the pentagram once was.
“Putting my feelings on the matter aside, you can at least tell me what we’re supposed to be doing once we get there.” she said, her gaze still fixed on her hand.
“We’re going to try to stop this war. We now know where our abducted loved ones are, there’s no reason why the war should continue if none of our countries are responsible for their disappearance.”
“You certainly know there’s no way they’d buy an explanation like that. It would be a ridiculous thing to explain to them, they’d think you’re crazy.” “I’ve already planned for such an occasion...” Noah holds out his right hand and finishes, “God and his Son had to use miracles to convince people of their existence, so I’m going to have to do the same.”
“Then what about Troy?” she asks, “Wouldn’t they need to be involved in stopping this war too?”
Noah holds his index finger up as he quickly answers, “They will be informed as soon as the rebellion reinstates Queen Lelaine as ruler of the country. With that bastard Sturgess at the helm and under the control of Satan, he’d certainly continue the war even if everyone were to suddenly return tomorrow.”
Rain sighs, she understands why he would wait out the results of the rebellion, but is worried about the success of the whole situation in Troy.
“You have a lot of faith in Troy’s citizens if you have based your plans off of their victory.”
“You’re right, I do, with four of my Knights and people like Ash leading the charge to take the country back, I’m very confident in their success”
Finding herself perplexed by the confidence of his declaration, she still can’t help but feel a sense of security in it; she has seen the Knights work firsthand and knows just what kind of person Ash is.
“I’ll believe in them as well then… let’s do our job here in Eiyalazo and get this war over with.”
Rain hasn’t seen Gile and Diana in quite some time and wonders how they will receive her considering she failed miserably in Tronoble and fell captive to La’Juune. Showing up with La’Juune’s King isn’t going to help her cause either, so she is a little hesitant to show her face.
“When is our scheduled meeting time?”
“You know, like what day are we supposed to meet with the King and Queen?”
Noah looks at her in a bewildered fashion as if he has no clue what she is talking about.
“There’s nothing like that going on.”
“...Hah? Are you stupid!? We’re already past the border and you’re telling me the King and Queen don’t even know you’re coming!?”
“Well yeah, if they knew I was coming there’s a good chance that they’d try to kill me before I even got there.”
“What the hell do you think a regular Eiyalazonian soldier would do if he caught you trying to sneak in!?”
“Calm down, I already have two Knights stationed at the castle in the Capital posing as members of the Royal family. We’re going to be smuggled in by them.” he replied coolly and without any worry at all in his tone.
Rain throws her hand over her face in disappointment, she can’t believe that they are going about this in such a hap-hazard way.
“I have a feeling that this isn’t going to go as smoothly as you think it is, Noah. You shouldn’t have rushed this kind of thing.”
“...I had no choice.” Noah replies.
The way he said that blanketed the cabin in tenseness. It's obvious those words meant something, and the weight of the air in the cabin felt like weights placed on Rain's shoulders.
Rain wants to ask what he meant but is interrupted by Noah’s sudden violent coughing.
He doesn’t slow down or stop after a few moments and Rain pulls a handkerchief out of her pocket and hands it to him.
“Here use this... You’ve been pretty damn sick the last week or so, you really should’ve waited until you got better so you could have planned this out properly.”
Noah takes the white handkerchief and coughs into it, it is a deep and painful sounding cough that one makes as if there is something clogged in their chest.
Rain looks away out the window so she can give him his space while he clears his throat.
Noah finally stops and it takes a few moments for him to catch his breath, he glances down at the handkerchief he was just coughing into and sees that the white cloth has been stained with a black ink like liquid.
He folds it up and puts it into his pocket as he wipes the remaining black liquid from his lips with his sleeve.
Talking into his arm, he mutters, “I had no other choice... I don’t have much time left.”
A knock is heard on the window connected to the chauffeur's seat used by the driver to communicate to the passengers if needed. Judging by the intensity of the knock it seems pretty urgent, so Noah reluctantly gets up and opens it.
“We have a big problem, your majesty!” The chauffeur shouts anxiously, “Eiyalazonian soldiers straight ahead!”
Noah sighs and sits back down in his seat, leaning back nonchalantly.
Rain on the other hand, turned blue with fright upon hearing the news.
This is extremely bad, a carriage holding the most hated man in the world is rolling defenselessly into enemy territory. There’s no telling what the average soldiers would do to him if they were able to put their hands on him.
Rain hurriedly searches throughout the cabin for something, her frantic movement speeds up when the sight of numerous soldiers can be seen surrounding the carriage through the window. Naturally, the carriage stops abruptly and awaits the soldier’s search.
They hear another knock, but this time on the door of the cabin, but luckily for Rain, she found what she needed behind the bar at the last second. She takes a silk towel used for the decoration of the glass cups and quickly runs to Noah.
“Put this on quick!” Noah doesn’t move, so instead Rain wraps the cloth around his eyes and orders, “Pretend that you’re blind, I’m going to have to talk our way out of this. If they find out where we came from we could maybe get away with being arrested, but if they find out who you are we’re as good as dead.”
Noah remains silent as Rain puts her finishing touches on the knot.
At this very moment, the door to the cabin slowly opens and an Eiyalazonian Captain enters saying,
“Pardon the intrusion.”
Rain is frozen in fear as she thinks about what she needs to say to get them out of this.
All things considered however, they need a miracle.
A rather large, red headed man is walking with a couple men through the hallways of a facility in the most southern part of La’Juune. The walls have thick pipes running from one end to the other and blue lights line the roof.
The man is wearing a La’Juutian winter coat that has a fur hood; thick black pants are tucked into shin high steel-toe boots that clang loudly on the ground with each step. He is obviously a man of rank just by the air he gives off.
A deep frown resides on his face and the two men behind him look nervous as they follow his fast paced walk.
The three cut to the right and enter a large storage room filled to the brim in a maze-like fashion with metal cargo boxes. These boxes likely carry weapons and other metals like tools and utensils. The lights in this room are red and it really gives off an eerie feeling as the freezing temperature causes the breath of the three men to plume out of their mouths like a heavy smoke.
After making their way through a pathway between a couple cargo boxes, they come upon a grizzly sight. Four men lay dead on the ground, blood splattered all over the place and separated limbs are scattered across the room.
“They were found like that not too long ago sir.” One of the men shoddily reports.
The other one adds, “We have no way of knowing how long they’ve been here because of the cold, if these bodies were here for more than a day they’d be frozen just like this. So it’s safe to assume this wasn’t too recent.”
The red headed man sighs and pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, putting one up to his mouth he takes his lighter and lights it. Taking a big drag, he blows it out and remains silent.
One of the men behind him turns his head as the smoke hits his nose before saying, “These four put the death total to 28 in the past few days. This is certainly the work of intruders. It’s gone past the point of one of our men going rogue and committing serial murders.”
“But who could it be? No one has ever gotten past our defense lines before; we’re way too far from Troy for it to be one of them. It must be Eiyalazo.” The other man added.
The red haired man blows a big puff of smoke out and calmly asks, “Do you guys believe in ghosts?”
“Ghosts?” They both answer quizzically.
The red haired man shakes the hand holding his cigarette and continues in an almost annoyed manner. “Yes ghosts, ghouls, goblins, phantoms, whatever the fuck you wanna call it. Do you believe in them?”
They both answer differently at the same exact time.
“Hmmm...” The red haired man scratches his chin in wonder. “That’s interesting... I remember when I was a kid I was always afraid of those kinds of things. Wanna know why?”
The two men don’t answer but the red haired man continues anyway.
“Because I couldn’t kill them. Seriously, it took me a while to get over something like that. I mean, most people are afraid of things like bears, sharks, wolves, shit like that; but how can you be afraid of living things if you could kill them? Do you get what I’m saying?”
“Yes sir.” The men reply, going along with it as if to avoid trouble.
He takes his big boot and steps on one of the severed heads on the ground, he leans his upper body on his leg as he continues to speak.
“Cause I really don’t like things I can’t kill. Especially if that thing has a conscience of its own and I can’t kill it; that takes all the fun out of life right? Not being able to die is a waste of existence. So in turn, that was the reason why I was afraid of ghosts.”
By now, the man is putting so much weight on the almost frozen head that the skull is beginning to crack and make a horrible squishing sound.
But he pays no mind to the disturbing noise as he continues, “What if the person or persons that are killing off my men in such a fashion are actually phantoms? What do we do then?”
“I’m sorry sir, but I don’t think that a ghost is behind this.”
“Shut up, didn’t you just say that you believe in them?”
“No sir, that wasn’t me.” he replies as he points to the other man standing next to him.
“Oh yeah, all of you background characters look the same nowadays.” he said, picking at his ear and turning to the other man. “Since you believe in ghosts. I gotta ask, are you afraid of them?”
Fearing that this is some kind of trick question, the man decides to answer honestly, “No I’m not, they can’t actually touch me or anything so there’s nothing to be scared of.”
The red haired man stomps all of his weight down on the severed head and flattens it, sending frozen bits of brain sliding across the smooth metal floor. He then flicks his cigarette at the man and the cherry explodes off his face, causing him to back up in reflex. That’s when the red haired man sends his fist into the nose of the so-called ‘background character’, causing his body to slam into one of the metal cargo boxes and fall to the ground.
The red haired man doesn’t stop there, with the same boot that crushed the skull of the severed head, he stomps on the man with all his might as he shouts.
“Are you implying that I’m some kind of pussy who’s afraid of something that you aren’t!? Huhhhh!?!?”
His eyes twitch as a twisted smile surfaces on his face.
The other man retreats back in shock as the blood coming from his downed comrade’s head squirts up and splashes onto his face. The sound of meat being pounded reaches his ears as he watches the red haired man stomp the other to death in horror.
“Do I seem weak to you!? Do I seem afraid!? Hahahahahaha, you stupid fuck!”
The red haired man gives him one last square kick to the face and stops his assault, he takes a deep breath as his smile becomes calm and a gentle laugh leaves his throat. He pulls out another cigarette and lights it up, while blowing out a puff of smoke he says rather calmly considering he had just beat a man to death,
“All kidding aside, who the fuck actually believes in ghosts?”
He walks off and exits the blood stained cargo room, but not before addressing the other man who’s frozen stiff with shock.
“Let’s go, it’s about time we find the real culprit behind these killings.” The red haired man starts to laugh, “I’m looking forward to getting my hands on those real life phantoms.”
The only man left standing in the room of dead people slowly follows him, more afraid now than ever before he answers,
“Y-Yes sir... Captain Red Spektor.”
In a dark room sits Allia and Celestia, two of the Ten Knights of La’Juune.
They are huddled in a thick blanket together drinking alcohol out of a little flask in order to stay warm. The room’s temperature is below freezing and if one’s not careful their strength could be sapped in a few seconds.
“We’ve been here way too long for my liking. We should’ve made a more direct assassination plot, killing off these soldiers is becoming more of a drag each day.” Allia said as she stands to her feet and takes a gander at her wristwatch.
“I guess we could have tried that, but realistically; there are over 150 soldiers stationed here at this weapons plant. It’s best to kill off as many of them as possible without being seen before we jump right into another battle with one of those monsters.” Celestia smoothly replied.
Allia sighs, she then looks up at the roof in the corner of the dark room they are in and sees a vent that’s making a loud blowing noise.
“It’s just that if things continue on the pace we’re going, it’ll be another couple weeks before we can finally get out of here. Travelling through those vents periodically in order to get from one place to the next is time consuming.”
“Well what did you expect? If we got careless and happened to be in those vents at the wrong time we’d be baked to death. All the hot air comes from the volcano below the plant, the vents periodically bring in that air. This place was built here specifically for the hot magma below the plant to be used to mold the weapons being made and to heat the entire place. Without using the volcano’s heat, this place would be below zero and impossible to occupy.”
“It’s a good thing we know when the ducts open up and release the hot air. It didn’t take all too long to figure out.”
“That’s right!” Celestia smiles and taps her head with her knuckle, “I’m a genius after all! These kinds of calculations are nothing.”
“I don’t think it’d be that hard even for a regular person.” Allia says under her breath.
She sighs and walks over to a rather small cargo box in the middle of the room, she uses a pocket knife to pick it open and takes a gander inside.
“What are you doing?” Celestia asks.
“I’m looking for arrows so I don’t run out. This place makes all the weapons for the La’Juutian military, there’s bound to be plenty of arrows stored in one of these boxes.”
“Hmm, I’d think you'll most likely find the arrowheads only. We’re at the bottom of the world; I don’t recall seeing any trees around here that could’ve been used to make the shaft.”
“Huh? What are these?” Allia asks in wonder.
“Ooh was I right!? Nyahaha I knew it, I’m so smart!”
“No you’re wrong.”
“Come here, take a look.”
In Allia’s hands are little metal cigar shaped balls. At least that’s what they see them as; anyone from a certain time frame in the past would instantly recognize them as bullets. Bullets that have an aerodynamic tip and a shell carrying gunpowder behind it.
“What do you think it is?” Celestia asks.
“You are the genius aren’t you!? You tell me!”
“I’ve never seen one of those in my entire life. Here, let’s try this.”
She gets up and walks to another one of those cargo boxes, this one is much bigger than the other. The two of them both pry it open and what comes tumbling out are dozens, if not hundreds of rifles.
“Don’t tell me that all these boxes are filled to the brim with these weird things?”
“I don’t get it, I’ve never seen one of these in La’Juune before. And I don’t even know what these would be used for...” Allia says, folding her arms across her chest in deep thought. “This confirms our suspicions, the weapons plant has betrayed us and is selling weapons to outside countries that are looking to take advantage of the aftermaths of this war.”
This has always been a worry for the three world powers of Troy, Eiyalazo, and La’Juune. Once the war is over, the losers and even the winners will be vulnerable to smaller country’s attacks. All they need is for some of them to unify and they could create a force strong enough to rival the three great nations.
It would seem that Noah has predicted this would happen all along, this is the main weapons plant for all of La’Juune, and the biggest plant in all of the world for that matter.
When everything was going smoothly it was business as usual, but when the weapons started to reach the soldiers at the Capital at a much slower pace, it became obvious that something was wrong. That’s when he acquired the information that there was a ‘Devil's Pawn’ residing in these walls and it is likely that the pawn is trying to sabotage La’Juune in order to fulfill Satan’s desires.
“That makes our job a lot easier, it completely eliminates doubt. Killing off our own soldiers was a bit discouraging before.”
“I agree, but now that I know that they are creating mysterious weapons in order to weaken us, they are enemies of La’Juune.”
The sound coming from the vents stops and the temperature in the room drops even further, Celestia hops up a cargo box and pokes her head in.
Her voice echoes when she says, “We’re good. It’s time to get a move on.”
Allia grabs their things and quickly jumps up into the vent to join her comrade on this dangerous assassination mission.
Little do they know how important it is that they stop the distribution of bullets and guns; if they don’t, it is more than likely that the face of the world will once again be shifted in the direction of disaster due to mankind's ability to find more convenient ways to kill each other.
Just like it was in the past.
“Shut up, there’s no way you’re the King of Troy.” said Ebihara Seiri while sitting on a booster seat in order to stay eye to eye with Zurvick, who is on the other side of the table.
Joining them on the table is Lennox, Haas, and London Stott.
The four have met in order to lead a rebellion against the hostile takeover of Sturgess.
In this large wine cellar room along with them are dozens of others socializing as well.
“Why’s that?” Zurvick asks.
London uses his middle finger to push up his glasses when he answers, “Because the King is supposed to be dead.”
“Did you guys hear that from Sturgess? I’m sure he twisted it around to make it seem like I died in order to fool all the citizens into hopelessness. Well let me tell you, I’m alive and well, and once the people know that, they’ll join us in our rebellion.”
“You’re missing the point here.” London completely ignored Zurvick’s high and mighty speech.
“You’re supposed to be dead because our leader is the one that killed you.”
Seiri elbows him and says, “Are you stupid? The people of this city can’t know our identities! It’ll blow this whole thing up!”
Lennox sighs and agrees, “She’s right, wasn’t the whole point of keeping our identities hidden so the people of Troy can savor their victory knowing that no one helped them?”
“What are you people talking about..?” Zurvick asks, his hands that were once laid flat on the table have molded into clenched fists without him realizing it.
London puts his hand up to keep the others from speaking, all the while continuing to address Zurvick. “Our leader Jeffrey Durbin had stabbed you, and then if I recall correctly, you went into the burning Ballroom to save whoever you could when it exploded, killing everyone inside.”
Zurvick’s eyes grow wide as he hears this explanation.
London slightly smiles as he notices this and continues, “That explosion was caused by this little one here.”
He pats Seiri on the head and she hisses at him.
Paying no mind to her, he continues.
“She’s the youngest in our military and the only one under the required age limit. Want to know why? She’s our greatest chemical physicist, the liquid that she carries in her flasks is highly combustible, blowing something like a 700 year old castle was nothing.”
“S-So you’re saying that...”
“That’s right.” Seiri interrupts, “The flask full of alcohol I gave you was a bomb, it’s not harmful if you drink it though. It probably got you super drunk right?”
London glares at Zurvick with his empty black eyes and asks, “So tell me, if you’re the King, what would you think about having us lend you a hand?”
This sets off a trigger in Zurvick, he lunges across the wooden table and grabs on to London’s collar, violently lifting him in his direction.
“You bastard! All of those people! Do you have any idea how many people died that night!?”
London hasn’t even flinched, Zurvick is much bigger than he is, a normal man would have at least batted an eye.
But not London, he coldly continues his stare as he says, “1,873 people to be exact. Plus the amount of destruction caused to the city of Tronoble. The entire place was just about demolished.”
The rage in Zurvick turned to fire upon hearing him so casually say that.
“Since you probably don’t know what exactly happened that night, allow me to inform you that it was only ten of us who caused such devastation.”
“The Ten Knights of La’Juune were the only soldiers who attacked the city.”
“With that in mind, let me ask you. Divide the number of dead Trojans by the number of the La’Juutian soldiers responsible for their deaths, and what do you get?”
“That’s right, a lot. So what if I told you that four of those ten Knights are all present here at this table, at this very moment?”
That’s when Zurvick notices it, Haas has two small swords pointed directly at two of his vital points. Lennox has a weapon directly under his throat, and even Seiri has a steak knife pointed at the soft spot under his chest cavity.
London stays straight faced as he asks one more question, “What do you think your odds of survival are?”
Zurvick backs off and sits back in his seat, even though he’s reluctant, he’s not dumb enough to take on four of the most elite soldiers in the world.
“So what are you people doing here?”
“We’re trying to stop the war.”
“Don’t tell me, once you're done aiding the Trojan rebellion you plan to take over in the shadows?”
“Not at all, no need for conspiracy theories. Once the mission here is done, it’s on to the next. That’s just the way it is for us.”
Zurvick can’t believe something as far-fetched as this. Having the La’Juutian Knights, who had just sacked Tronoble and killed off almost two thousand people, helping the Trojan citizenry retake the country sounds ridiculous.
“You saw a man with tremendous power back in Tronoble, correct?” London asks.
Still a little wary of this whole thing, Zurvick slowly answers, “Y-Yeah, he was covered in black smoke.”
Just by remembering that, it sent a cold chill down his spine.
“Very good. That’s all I needed to hear from you.”
London faintly smiles and relaxes his posture, leaning back into his chair.
This was all just a way for him to find out if Zurvick was telling the truth about his identity.
Considering the way he reacted when London told him of the night of the ball, and how much he knew about it, London has deduced that Zurvick actually survived that whole ordeal somehow.
Though he wonders how Jeffrey was careless enough to let him survive in the first place, he is glad he did, because this will certainly help their mission in the long run.
“You passed my test, King Zurvick, so sit back and stay calm, I'm going to tell you everything you need to know. Consider it an apology from King Noah.”
“Wow I’m actually home.” Ash said in awe as she took her first step into the Capital city of Troy.
It’s been over a year since she’s been here due to her time in the army. There’s so much she misses about this place, the fresh air, the perfect snow-capped mountain scenery, the beautiful white castle. All of this overruns her with nostalgia, she takes a deep breath and the feeling is accompanied by the relentless pounding of determination brewing in her chest.
Of course she wants to stop and see the sites, along with her parents, and do other things now that she’s home, but this is not the time. She needs to find Noah’s Knights so she can join them in taking the country back from Sturgess’ control.
Even though she can’t forgive the Knights for what they’ve done in Tronoble, she won’t shy away from what she has to do. She has promised to aid in ending this war, and in order to do that she must put her personal feelings aside.
In her hand is a piece of paper with an address on it, the address is to the headquarters of the rebellion. She rushes quickly, checking streets and making turns accordingly to the directions until she reaches it. However, she is immediately overrun with skepticism when she sees that the building is just a regular old style barber shop.
It’s one of those kinds of two story buildings where the business is downstairs, whilst the owner of the place lives and sleeps upstairs. These kinds of businesses are very popular, especially in Troy, because due to high property taxes, it costs much more to own a business in a separate location. Most shops in the Capital city are just like this one, and this is the reason why she is so dejected upon her arrival here. She was expecting something much more out of the ordinary.
Ash takes a deep breath and walks in, and just like what the sign outside says, it’s a regular old barber shop. Four barbers are cutting their customer’s hair as if this was a normal business, she double checks her address to see if she walked in the wrong place but it only confirmed her position.
“U-Um...” she mutters, trying to find something to say to get one of the busy barber’s attention.
One of the barbers stops the clean shave he’s giving a man with a razor and addresses her, “You know, women don’t normally come in here for haircuts.”
The barber glances at one of his colleagues and gives him a head nod, he then turns back to Ash and asks, “Are you looking for a shave?”
“Whaaa!? Do I look like I need a shave!?” Ash replies, bewildered as to why he asked something like that.
She then puts her hand on her face, the area right under her nose to be exact and gasps.
“Could it be that I have a mustache!?”
She nervously checks and to her relief finds that her face is hair free and as smooth as it should be.
The barbers all collectively sigh and one tries to shoo her off by saying, “Alright nevermind, this is a barbershop for men. So go on and get out of here.”
Offended by the way this whole interaction went, she puffs her chest out and declares, “I’ll have you know that I’m a Captain in the Trojan army! I don’t want to be talked to like I’m some kind of stray dog.”
Things grew eerily silent after she stated that; the barbers all glared at her with the look of death on their faces.
And that’s when she feels it, something cold pressing up against her neck.
One of the barbers is standing behind her, holding a razor blade to her throat.
She knows that one flick of his wrist will paint the walls with her blood so she doesn’t make any sudden moves.
“Tell us Captain... whose side are you on?” The man with a razor asks threateningly.
“I’m on Troy’s side.” she replies smoothly.
“I don’t know if you realize this or not, but there are two sides of Troy now. The side allied with the Queen, and the side allied with the General. Which is it?”
Ash slightly frowns and repeats herself in a manner as if she's stating the obvious,
The man sighs and drops his razor, with those two words he knows exactly who she is loyal to.
“You should have said that earlier.”
“I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that this was a normal barbershop.”
“Since you’ve found your way here you should know that this isn’t a normal barbershop. When we asked you if you needed a shave you were supposed to say ‘A Trojan cut’. It’s our password.”
“I kind of joined the game late so I didn’t get the memo. I thought you were just trying to insult me.” Ash replies, scratching her head a little embarrassed.
“Nonetheless, you’re here to meet with our leaders right? Then come with me.”
The barber walks to the corner of the room just past the large mirror used for the customer's view of their haircut and leans down. On the black and white tile floor is a little rope, he pulls it up and a set of stairs leading down to a hallway can be seen.
“Go down.” he instructs, “Walk through the hallway and knock three times on the door, someone will open it and you’ll find what you need in the basement.”
Ash heads down and the man’s voice is once again heard, “Don’t come back up this way, there’s a back door that leads to a back alleyway, someone will show you out.”
The latch shuts behind her and she is left alone in the dark hallway, the door is about twenty feet away and she lightly slaps herself on the cheeks to boost her determination.
“Alright, here I go.”
“That’s a lot to take in...” Zurvick said in disbelief.
London has just told him everything about Noah’s plans, and all that goes along with it. Starting with the mysterious disappearance of his daughter and the others, all the way to the ‘Devil’s Pawns’ that are being controlled by Satan. Such a story was so far from his mind that he is having trouble comprehending just what all this means.
“We had problems coping with the facts as well, but you and I have both seen these strange powers firsthand so believing it shouldn’t come too hard for you.”
“That’s not necessarily the problem here, sure it’s a shock that Sturgess has those powers, it explains why he was able to accomplish a hostile takeover so easily. But what’s really hard to believe is that La’Juune really doesn’t have my daughter... I was certain it was you guys.”
“It’s reasonable to think that we’ve staged this whole thing, but we’re just as confused as you are. Now that we know it isn’t Eiyalazo, a far deeper mystery lies behind their disappearances. It’s Noah’s firm belief that the man who bestowed the powers unto all of those people is the key to unraveling it and getting them back. That being said, our reason for fighting each other is no longer there.”
“But Purgatory? And the Devil? I mean, this is insane.”
“I agree, I was never too keen on religion. To be perfectly honest I had always thought it was just some story made up to make the lives of desperate people easier. But this is our reality now, this is who we are actually fighting. Are you able to put aside your grudge against us and help?”
Zurvick takes a deep breath and looks away, he is still trying to wrap his mind on all this, it isn’t an easy feat to fully believe in what they are saying.
He stands up off his chair and asks, “Can I take a moment to get my head straight?”
“Of course, if you want some fresh air then go on outside through the backdoor. Haas will lead you out.”
Haas gestures to Zurvick to follow him and the two head to the door behind the bar to get outside. They exit the basement and leave the others sitting there.
“That went well.” said London as he tilted his glasses up.
Seiri sighs in exasperation, to her, that totally didn’t go well at all.
“Can we really trust that guy? He can’t possibly be the King can he?”
“He’s the King alright, that I’m sure of.”
Lennox nods his head and agrees, “Yeah I don’t think he was lying. Besides, there’s no reason to lie now, if he wants his country back he’ll have to join us and do whatever it takes.”
“Geez this is becoming a hassle, we weren’t supposed to tell anyone except for the Queen about any of this. The plan is already veering off track.” Seiri moans.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, if Noah knew the King was alive all along he’d make us inform him of the truth anyways. Let’s just improvise on this one.”
“Then what do we do next?” Lennox asks as he pulls out a mirror and looks at himself.
London reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a rolled up piece of paper, he unravels it on the table and replies, “This is our battle plan for the rebellion; we’ve already gathered enough people to pull this off. But...” He takes a feathered pen and circles a spot in front of a line that signifies the allied forces, in that circle he writes ‘KING’ in bold letters. “This time, the King will be leading in our place.”
“I take it we should inform the others? Once we go public with this news, the battle officially starts. Sturgess' men will do anything it takes to find him, I bet they'll even start arresting people en masse for even spreading this info. We won't have a choice but to start our offensive before they get a chance to declare martial law on the citizens.” said Lennox.
“We do have the guy who makes all the newspapers for the Capital on our side. We can use him to do it.”
“Yeah, this is a perfect way to unite the city and waver the resolve of those loyal to General Sturgess. An uprising of sorts is needed in order for our rebellion to be victorious; this is the perfect trigger for that.”
“Well first thing’s first, we should at least let all the guys in this room know.” Lennox puts away his mirror and runs his fingers through his hair in order to make sure he looks good for his address.
But before he can make his speech, he is interrupted by a sound coming from the door.
London lets out a sigh and gestures to someone to go answer the door.
He turns to the others and says, “I guess one more person can join us for the big announcement.”
Elise Whittier and Jeffrey Durbin are attending a welcoming party for the King and Queen at the Eiyalazonian Castle.
They are in a large dining hall that’s twice the size of anything that borders on necessity. That’s the way this country works, they pride themselves on overdoing things just to one up their rivals.
What’s amazing about this hall is that the pillars any other normal castle would use as a frame base is not made out of stone, but rather they are planted sequoia trees that have been smoothed out and glazed over with wax, giving it a distinct shine.
All around them are expensive items, whether it’s the dresses or suits the patrons wear, or the table clothes made of the finest linen. Everything in this hall could be stolen and hawked for a good price at the local pawn shop.
The atmosphere is stuck up and snooty and the two Knight's discomfort is written all over their faces. If one looked closely it’d be obvious that they don’t belong.
“Damn, I hate this shit.” Jeffrey says under his breath as he politely waves to a woman walking by.
“Tell me about it, I haven’t even seen any cute girls here.” Elise replies in a disappointed tone.
“Yeah, not one girl under eighteen around he---- Wait a second... How did I just get pulled into your pace!?”
“Oooh so you have the same eagle eyes as me I see!” An antagonizing smile forms on her face, “Though I gotta say, you should keep those thoughts to yourself since you’re a man. You could get in some serious trouble for that.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m some kind of lolicon! I’ve just been around you way too much, you’re rubbing off on me, you pervert!” He then puts his two index fingers together to form a cross and points it at her. “Evil person be gone! Go away!”
Elise grabs one of his fingers and twists it violently. “Hey now don’t overreact on me just because you’re insecure about your sexual preferences.”
“That’s not true! I’m a normal straight guy who likes women his age and older!”
“Never trust a man so overly defensive.”
In the process of her assault on Jeffrey’s finger, something catches her eye out in the distance of the room.
Prince Dice is standing alone, leaning up against the wall with a horrid frown tainting his brow. He is glaring at something, and following his eyes she sees that his gaze is directed at the King and Queen who are sitting at a large table happily socializing with party goers.
“That Prince, he hasn’t stopped glaring at his parents since they got back.”
“So you noticed too huh? I guess it’s true, he really is going to kill his own parents in order to make that girl love him... kind of pathetic don’t you think?”
Elise releases him and shrugs her shoulders. “I happen to think it could be seen as romantic.”
“There’s nothing romantic about it at all. If that kid succeeds then the world is totally fucked, we need to take him out at all costs.” Jeffrey responds, a strong tinge of seriousness in his tone.
“I know, but it really is a shame. He most likely isn’t the same as he was before the pentagram was put on his hand. He’s being manipulated from the shadows by somebody and we’re going to kill him for it.”
“Don’t tell me you actually feel sorry for him? It’s his own damn fault in the first place for being a loser who couldn’t even get the girl he likes to notice him. Fuck that guy.”
Elise turns to him and puffs her cheeks, “That was super mean.”
“Well it’s not like I’m a nice guy.”
Elise sighs, she takes a look at herself in the ridiculous white dress she’s wearing and says, “I’d normally fight you more on your lack of empathy, but I’m beyond the point of my patience breaking. I just want to get the hell out of here so I can get out of these clothes and as far away from this stuffy environment as possible.”
Jeffrey folds his arms and nods his head in agreement, and continues that even when Elise finishes her statement.
“And also, I wanna get my hands on Seiri and rub her silky white smooth body all over until I’ve had my fill. Ahhhnn~ and then I’ll take off her little teddy bear underwear and throw on some hot lingerie and start licking her!!”
Jeffrey smiles and while still nodding his head says, “Yeah that’d be nice------ Hahh!? Where did that come from!? I will not allow you to do that!!”
By now Elise is wiggling around creepily as drool drips from her mouth. “Huuahahah you not only have the same eagle eyes as me, but the same sense of fantasy!”
“No I don’t! You had changed the subject way too fast and it caught me off guard!”
“You do realize that it’s just as creepy for a woman to have these fantasies as a man right!? Just what kind of demon are you!?”
He again holds his two index fingers out in a cross and begins to chant something under his breath. His incantations carry no effect on Elise as her perverted thoughts continue in her mind and it shows on her face.
Shifting his attention away from her to keep himself from falling for her antics, he notices that Dice, who was being a wall-rat just a few moments ago has now left his position.
He didn’t want to lose sight of him because an occasion such as a party where a lot of people are present is a good time to carry out an assassination. He frowns as he scours through the hundreds of people in the room.
Elise catches this and stops her perverted dance and joins him.
With two sets of eyes they quickly spot Dice walking intently towards the King and Queen.
“Shit! Is he actually going to do it now!?” Jeffrey asks as he reaches into his coat pocket and grabs onto a small dagger he is carrying just in case of an event like this happening.
Elise has one in her stocking but can’t reach for the weapon without causing a scene, she’ll hold off until absolutely necessary.
“This is bad, I’d rather have my own weapon fighting against a monster like that Prince.”
The two keep walking, weaving through people in an attempt to cut Dice off from reaching his parents.
Jeffrey keeps his eyes forward when he says, “We’re going to have to do something. At the first sign of him doing anything that threatens the safety of the King and Queen we’ll stab him in the back if we need to.”
The two walk on a collision course with Dice; intensity rises with each step as the thought of what’s to come lays itself out in front of them. This will very likely be the decisive moment in both Satan’s and Noah’s plans; if things don’t go well, there’s no telling what might happen to the landscape of the world.
All of this danger looms over the heads of King Gile and Queen Diana without them even knowing it.
Dice reaches for something in his pocket and it becomes obvious that the threatening motion in which Jeffrey talked about is occurring. The fast paced walk of he and Elise turn into a sprint; and the world turning moment they are so worried about will unfold as a result of the actions they take at this very second.
Jeffrey pulls out his dagger with a smooth motion so quick that nobody has even noticed it yet.
Unfortunately he won’t have the time to intersect Dice before he reaches his parents, so he plans to throw the blade from his position. Of course, there are about a dozen people standing in his way so he awaits the perfect time for him to weave his throw through the gaps in their figures.
Dice pulls his hand out of his pocket, and in that instant, time slows down and hits Jeffrey like a ton of bricks. He readies to throw the dagger with all his might when he catches sight of something that forces him to halt halfway through his motion.
What Dice pulled out of his jacket wasn’t a knife, nor any kind of weapon for that matter; it ended up being a small box with a little red ribbon on it. Jeffrey immediately puts his dagger back into his coat pocket and to his surprise no one noticed.
All eyes are on Dice at this moment when he says, “I’d like to give you a gift upon celebrating your safe return.”
A perfectly inauthentic smile was worn on his face as he said that, it’s almost as fake as someone being forced to smile for a picture they didn’t want taken.
However, Gile and Diana don’t catch the imposturous grin and happily accept the item.
“I’m no good with opening frilly presents like these.” Gile says as he hands the box over to his wife, “Will you do the honors?”
Diana accepts and begins unwrapping the present neatly.
“You don’t think that could be a bomb, do you?” Elise asks, still on her guard.
“He isn’t Seiri, I doubt he could get his hands on something like that... I think.”
The two take weary steps back as Diana finally pulls out the item in the box and holds it up so everyone can see. It is two, expensive looking diamond necklaces, a silver one for the King and a gold one for the Queen. Though it doesn’t look like much thought was put into buying these, it still looks like it must have cost a fortune to purchase, so they are much appreciated both by his parents and the patrons surrounding the table.
“Thank you Dice, they're beautiful, this is a wonderful gift.” Diana said graciously, sounding like she meant every word.
Gile stands to his feet and addresses the party goers. “Everyone, my son has just returned from the battlefield. He has survived many hardships in order to return here to us, please give him a round of applause for his bravery.”
All the people in the hall begin to clap and Dice scratches his head bashfully.
Really though, his performance has all of them so fooled he should be put up for some kind of acting award. Only Jeffrey and Elise see the hate hidden behind that mask-like smile.
While still being applauded, Dice walks around the back of his parents and whispers to them, “I know you two are busy with being hosts tonight, would you happen to have time to meet in private tomorrow? I’d like to go over my experiences over the last few weeks on the battlefield.”
“Of course, I’d like to hear all about it. I’m curious as to why you’ve returned so early.” Gile replies.
Dice politely bows and replies, “I promise, I’ll tell you all about it.”
In the back of his mind an angry voice is speaking the words he can’t allow to leave his mouth.
(You already know, you bastard.)
“Good.” Gile says, patting Dice’s shoulder. “How about we meet at the top of the castle for lunch? Does noon sound good to you?”
“Noon sounds great.”
Dice again bows and walks off with his head held high; with his back turned to everyone who could see, his face contorts as he clenches his fists.
“Tomorrow’s meeting will be the death of you... Mom and Dad.”
“Should we follow him?” Elise asks upon seeing Dice exit the room.
Jeffrey is now relaxing near the buffet table and pouring himself a glass of wine, he chugs it quickly and lets out a loud exhale of relief. “Forget it. He’s not going to do anything tonight; we’ll continue our surveillance bright and early tomorrow. Until then, I’m going to take advantage of all this free shit.”
Elise takes a sigh of resignation and joins him for a drink. “Fine, let’s just make sure we have our own weapons on us tomorrow. I don’t know if we could’ve won tonight if it came down to a fight.”
“I agree, I don’t want to be caught with my dick in my hands again. We’ll be fully prepared to assassinate the Prince come tomorrow.”
“So let me get this straight, you were the object of that girl Rain’s hate and Noah used you to save her from it. Once you weren’t of any use to him there he then sent you here to join us in retaking the country?” London asks.
Ash, who is sitting on the other side of the table where Zurvick was just at, replies, “W-Well yeah in so many words.”
London made it sound like she was some kind of tool for Noah that lost its value after he used it. It actually offended her a little. With the little girl with black hair and violet eyes staring at her with a face full of skepticism, she finds herself feeling even more uncomfortable by that line of questioning.
“You sure did come at the perfect time; we’re just about done with the recruiting stages for the rebellion. You’d be surprised at how many people want to jump right into something like this even though having a new leader hasn’t affected them personally. A couple weeks is all it took to gather over four thousand citizens and rogue soldiers who swore allegiance to the Queen.”
“That’s reassuring, I was worried that not many people would join. Even when I got here there didn’t seem to be any sense of urgency with them.”
“Oh trust me there is, if you looked close enough you’d find it. Today is the last day before we launch our attack, a lot of people are going to die tomorrow. They know it, we know it, an inevitability to say the least.” London leaned back in his chair and looked around when he said that.
The dozens of other people in the wine cellar are all chatting with each other, sharing drinks and being merry. This is their way of preparing for the bloodbath to come. Of course, others will react differently but most just want to enjoy the day that could be their last to the fullest.
Ash looks around and somewhat notices the same thing, a solemn sigh is given when she replies, “It’s just a shame that everyone who dies tomorrow, no matter which side, will be Trojans.”
“You can’t think that way.” London says, shifting his gaze to her. “There are only two types of people in this world, allies and enemies. It doesn’t matter where you’re from; the person trying to kill you is no one other than the enemy.”
It is likely this stern statement has come from his experiences as a Knight, or he was taught to think that way since the beginning of his training.
But Ash thinks those words remind her of someone.
“Did you get that from Noah?”
“I will admit that he has said something along those lines before, but both he and I were taught that lesson by General Napoleon.”
“General Napoleon huh.”
Just hearing that name gives her the shivers, she had grown up hearing horror stories about him after his stunning victory over Troy in the Battle of La’Juune, she finds it hard to separate the myth from the man that the people in front of her trained under.
“That’s right; if you’re smart you’d take that advice. Abandoning all the guilt that goes along with killing someone beforehand makes the job easier.”
London’s voice is as unwavering as ever, he knows that he’s right and this is his way of trying to help her so she doesn’t become a burden.
“I won’t be able to do that. A man once told me that after killing someone comes the most empty feeling in the world. I don’t want to forsake the pain it’ll give me, that’d be like throwing the essence of the other person’s being away. That’s not fair.”
London faintly laughs, “An innocent girl you are... too innocent. I hate to say it to you but that man was wrong; there is no other feeling than what you want it to be. If he was smart he would force himself not to feel anything, only the weak do the opposite. The essence of a dead person only exists for scavenging animals feeding on his corpse.”
His words come across as exceptionally callous; he’s an expert and one of the ten best at his job in which the main work he does is kill people. He knows all too well what it’s like to end a life, and it would seem that he has lost his humanity in the process of the many times he’s done so.
She could be staring a monster like that straight in the eye, but what he said simply proves to herself that Zurvick was right.
She frowns and squeezes the skirt she is wearing when she replies, “Don’t you dare say something like that.”
“No reason to get offended, I’m merely telling you how it is. When people die, they die. There’s no sugar coating it with gentle words and pretty euphemisms, once they’re dead, they’re worthless to the living.”
This sends her over the edge; she stands to her feet and scowls at him. The next thing she knew, she had sent the table flying across the room in a blind rage. To her, he is specifically tarnishing the memory of Zurvick, he is basically telling her to forget about him just because he’s dead, he is nobody now that he’s not breathing.
Well she won’t accept that kind of talk, especially not from one of the men responsible for his death.
“Even after they're gone, the lives of those we care about still have the ability to shape those of us left behind. Do you think that just because some heartless bastard like you says so, I’ll accept that King Zurvick’s life is now meaningless and toss him aside? He’s not dead in my mind, nor will he ever be, you got that!?”
London smiles and stays silent; he folds his arms and leans back in his chair as though he was expecting her outrage.
A man said confusedly from the other side of the room, Ash shifts her scowl in that direction and sees a sight that makes her face turn pale in an instant.
“Wooaah it’s you Captain! It’s been a long time!” Zurvick shouts, completely unaware of Ash’s emotional state at the moment.
He and Haas just happened to walk through the door and caught the tail end of Ash's exclamation.
“Y-You’re alive..?” Ash mumbles in shock.
“Did you believe Sturgess’s lies about me? I told you I’m one lucky bastard, there was no way I would go out like that.” Zurvick replied while scratching his head in a laugh.
“B-But I couldn’t find you... I saw you blow up!” she shouts, becoming teary eyed with each word.
“A funny story about that, I’m gonna have to tell you later though.” Zurvick then turns to London and says, “About the rebellion... Let me join you.”
London finally stands up himself; he pushes up his glasses and answers, “Glad to have you aboard.”
“WAIT A SECOND!!” Ash yells as she runs up to Zurvick and kicks him extremely hard in the shin.
He, like usual, overreacts and hits the deck as if he had been struck by a baseball bat.
“Oooaaah!? What did you do that for Captain!? This was supposed to be a happy reunion!”
Ash pounces atop of him and starts beating on him, “This was supposed to be a happy reunion until you decided to ignore my shock and talk to someone else like it never even happened! To me, I just saw a freakin’ ghost!”
“But I told you that I wasn’t going to die.” Zurvick replied softly with a strained smile, he was beginning to see the distraught on her face.
“Shut up, don’t think you’re getting off easy on this one... I thought I saw you die, and I looked for you in the rubble for hours. So give me a break.”
By now tears are falling down Ash’s cheeks and landing on Zurvick's forehead.
Ash takes a couple deep breaths and wipes her face quickly to hide the fact that she was crying. But the thought of all she has gone through the last couple months since the Night of the Ball is overwhelming her with emotions. She had travelled to La’Juune and slept under the same roof as the person that ordered Zurvick’s death and found it in her heart to forgive him. She had fought against a vessel of Satan and narrowly escaped with her own life. All of this was done under the impression that the person she had just kicked was dead, she had completely altered her life to make amends for it.
Now here he is, alive and well, and he looks surprised that she had ever thought he was dead in the first place.
It takes her another few moments to compose herself before huffs air out of her nose; with both her hands she pinches Zurvick’s cheeks and starts stretching them out.
“I can’t believe you’re actually here.”
“I’m here and that hurts.”
“You’re alive, you’re alive!!”
“Uuuahhhhahaahh!? Stop it! What’s with this sudden assault on my face!?”
Ash is squeezing him, slapping him, pulling his hair, poking his eyes, doing whatever it takes to cause him discomfort. She was serious when she said she wasn’t going to go easy on him, she’s lived what has felt like a lifetime of events since she thought he died, and until things are properly explained to her she’s going to punish him for making her think that for so long.
Seiri, who was sitting beside London on the table before it was tossed, hops off of her booster seat and walks over to London. “What are you, some kind of shrink?”
“Oh so you noticed?”
“The way you dug at those two, there was a reason for that right?”
“Yeah... You know, it has been said that when one feels the greatest pain that their true character reveals itself. I knew that that girl was the Captain of Zurvick’s division, and I knew that the two of them were in Tronoble together and that just like us she thought the King was dead. By telling her the wicked truth of death it stirred up a deep resentment in her that showed me who she really is, it showed me if I can trust her with my life or not.” “And the verdict?”
“It’s just as Noah said, her role in this story is here with us.”
London leans down and grabs the paper carrying the battle plans and hands it to Seiri.
“Take a quick picture of the King alongside the others once he is done being beat up by that girl. Go to the newspapers and have them make as many copies of our plan and the picture as possible. Don’t be careless and get caught while doing so.”
“You don’t have to worry about me screwing up.” Seiri replies, offended that he even felt the need to say that.
She turns away and goes to get her camera when London speaks once again, “Oh and one more thing. Tell him that the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper should say, ‘The King is alive and here in the Capital.’”
Seiri smiles and trots away, “Yes sir.”
London looks over to Lennox and finds that he is at the bar talking to one of the few women in the room at the moment. He sighs at his comrade’s dispassion in a time like this; apparently Lennox doesn’t think this mission is important enough to stop him from hitting on a random girl.
Nonetheless, he grabs a glass and a butter knife and beats on it, gathering everyone’s attention.
“All of us are here for the future of Troy... so allow me to make an announcement.”
Captain Red Spektor is walking alone in a hallway at the La’Juutian weapons plant in the most southern part of the country. It is extremely cold in the building because the vents that pump hot air are currently on operational downtime. Each step he makes, the sound of his steel-toe boots hitting the metal ground makes an ominous echo.
He stops for a moment and begins talking. “You know what, I’m tired of looking for these damn intruders. I thought you told me that I’d be able to kill as many people as I want when I joined up with you?”
Out of Red’s hand comes the familiar black snake that has been plaguing the world the last few months. “You haven’t had any consequences for your actions yet have you?”
Red scratches his head. “I guess not, but I want to kill more than what I have been. Killing off the same kind of people gets boring, I need some excitement.”
“Things will get exciting I promise you that... What if I told you that the intruders are actually two of the Ten Knights of La’Juune?”
Red’s face lights up when he hears this. “Really!? Ohooo that’d be fucking great, I’ve been dying to test out my strength on someone worth killing.”
The snake slithers up his arm and says, “That is why I respect you Captain Red, your only desire in life is to kill as many people as possible. Someone with a mindset like that deserves to have the shackles of law unhooked from his ankles.”
“Damn right, everyone dies, they should be happy that they were killed by me. Living a boring, carefree life is a waste of breath. That being said, when I die I fully expect to go to Hell. You promised me that I'd snag a spot as one of your Dukes down there, don’t forget.”
“Of course my fair Captain, I never go back on my word.”
“Hahahaha bullshit I don’t believe that, you’re the fucking Devil, of course you do.”
“You have no need to fret, you see, that pentagram on your hand is a contract formed between you and I, the terms and conditions are set. The only way I can terminate that contract is if you fail.”
“I ain’t gonna fail, I’m too cool to lose. I’ve always been that way, and I always will. Consider the distribution of those new weapons done.”
“The guns that I taught you to make are the best killing machines man has to offer. We’ll expand from there, the weapons used to destroy human life will become more advanced and you’ll watch the degradation of humanity right before your very eyes.”
“Oho man do I like the sound of that. There's poetry to it that’s soothing to the ears, like a mother's lullaby or some shit. It’s beautiful, gorgeous, perfection!”
“This contract is mutually beneficial after all; we’ll share in the pleasures of watching the world burn. All that’s left for you to do is get rid of those Knights and restart our normal operations here, once back in operation we’ll be just a short time away.”
The snake recedes back into Red’s hand and disappears from sight; Red stops walking and picks at his ear while looking around.
“Oh yeah I almost forgot about those intruders... Hmmm, if I was a well-trained killing machine like those two are, what would I be doing at this very moment?”
He then starts tapping on the wall with his knuckles, causing a clicking noise that echoes in a similar fashion to his boots.
“I’d move in silence until I found the perfect opportunity to assassinate whoever it is I was supposed to kill. Which means I’d wait for him to be alone and defenseless, just like I am now.”
Red keeps tapping his knuckle on the metal walls when he suddenly stops. The sound the last click made is different from the others. Instead of the hollow ‘Clack’ noise, it made a more solid sounding ‘Clunk’.
A thin smile arises from the edges of his mouth as if he had just found gold. He sets his palm flat on the wall and shouts,
He swings his palm away from the wall and the metal wall contrived like aluminum foil and crashes onto the hallway floor. The heating vent that was connected to that wall falls and hits the ground, he grabs onto that as well and the vent splits in half vertically and opens up wide as if being forced apart by some giant can opener.
Two figures fly out of the vent and dash away from him on both sides.
Now surrounded, Red shows no sign of worry when he holds his sides and starts laughing. “Huaahahaha well looky here. Two fucking chicks caused all this damage!?”
Allia immediately prepares to fire an arrow from her bow; she points it directly at the back of Red’s neck when she says, “Captain Red Spektor, the Crown of La’Juune has found you guilty of treason. Therefore you are sentenced to death.”
An odd chuckle forms in the pit of Red’s chest upon hearing that. “Oho how professional, hearing a cute girl talk in such an orderly fashion is quite the turn on. It’s a shame, such a damn shame that I’m gonna have to kill you.”
“Such a waste of your final words.”
Allia shoots her arrow, Red doesn’t even turn around or try to avoid it. The arrow gets within a couple inches of his neck when it is suddenly stopped in its tracks and suspended in the air.
“Come on, a fucking arrow?” Red turns around and reveals his right hand that has a black ink-like substance swirling around it.
Looking closely, Allia can see that the black water is connected to the tip of the arrow, this is what stopped it from striking him.
Red snaps his fingers and the arrow turns around and shoots in Allia’s direction. She desperately tries to move out of the way but it becomes obvious that she won’t be able to avoid being hit. That’s when a gold shield bounces off the walls of the hallway and deflects the arrow at the last second.
After successfully defending Allia, the motion of the shield doesn’t stop, it skims off the roof and zooms at Captain Red. The tips of this shield are razor sharp, if this connects with human flesh at this speed the results will certainly lead to decapitation.
But to the chagrin of the laws of physics, Red smiles and holds out his bare hand and grabs the shield before it hits him. The shield’s momentum is brought to an abrupt stop.
Red examines the weapon and says, “Now this is what I’m talking about. You must be Celestia Letrova right? Being in the business of weapons I’ve heard about this little toy you've invented. It must feel great to lop off someone’s dome with this thing.”
“I-Impossible...” Celestia mutters in disbelief, Red’s hand should easily have been cut off.
Red cracks his neck and shouts, “I hope you don’t mind if I try it out, do you!?”
He swings his body and hurls the shield back at Celestia like a frisbee, sending it sliding against the metal wall at an incredible speed. The wall is viciously split as sparks fly all about; Celestia tries to maneuver the shield back under her control with her glove but the force in which it is moving is far too great. The shield bounces off the wall due to its spin and dashes straight right, directly on a path towards Celestia’s neck.
The razor sharp edges of her own weapon will decapitate her unless she moves quickly on her feet, not having enough time to evade, she twists her wrist as fast as she can. The shield’s trajectory remains the same but its rotation switches from a horizontal spinning motion to vertical. This narrows its kill radius tenfold; but this maneuver is not enough to avoid getting hit by it, it zooms past her face and barely grazes her shoulder before crashing into the wall behind her with a loud bang. Her blood flies as she falls back from the force of the impact.
Even though the wound will definitely need stitches, it’s not life threatening, she narrowly avoided having her head roll on the ground by intentionally allowing herself to get hit.
“I’m fine.” she says as she winces, she sends an angered glare at Red and finishes, “Something tells me this bastard isn’t going to be as easy as the last one.”
Allia clicks her tongue and her whole demeanor changes, she takes another arrow and points it at him.
Being in the middle of the two girls in this narrow hallway, Red can’t help but feel cornered. However, not a worry appears on his face as he smiles and holds out his arms.
“I can feel it... Someone’s gonna die here for sure! There’s no better feeling than this! To kill or be killed is the best drug one could ask for, this is better than sex don’t you think?”
The two girls stay silent and keep their guard up, glaring at him intently.
“Oho no reaction eh? I guess this must be the Knights of La’Juune’s way of doing things, work is work for you guys. You probably think nothing of taking another’s life. And you know what? I hate those kinds of people the most, you’re supposed to take pleasure in it. It’s a waste of time otherwise.”
Allia shoots her arrow and it slides by Red’s face, even though she intentionally missed him to intimidate him into silence, he didn’t even flinch.
“Shut up you freak.”
“Huahahaha that’s not the professional talk that I think is sexy. That was weak, lame, garbage, unattractive.”
“We’re not here to talk.” Celestia added, “We’re here to kill you.”
“That’s more like it, a great improvement!! Show me the best La’Juune has to offer!!”
A black watery substance surrounds Red, this is the trigger motion for Allia and Celestia. They simultaneously fire their weapons and the battle for the weapons plant officially begins.
Rain is frozen; the Eiyalazonian soldier is alone with the King of La’Juune and a former Battle Strategist in the cabin of a carriage. Even with her great mind she can’t find a way out of this, the only thing she can hope for is to lie to him and see if he’ll fall for it. By all means telling the truth is out of the question.
Without looking the soldier in the eyes she bows and says, “How can we help you sir?”
“If you don’t mind me asking, I’d like to know where you’re from and where you are heading.” The soldier asks.
Rain is trying to come up with an excuse when her thought process is interjected by Noah saying, “The Capital.”
“Is that so? Well then, where are you coming from?”
“We are Eiyalazonian citizens that were in the country of La’Juune when the war started. We were taken in as hostages but we managed to escape.” Rain smoothly lies, if one didn’t know any better anyone would believe her story from the delivery of her words alone.
“Would you mind showing us some sort of identification? There’s been a lot of people defecting to different sides from all three countries. We’re never too sure who’s lying or not.”
Rain tightened her jaw when he asked that; she doesn’t have any form of I.D and Noah certainly doesn’t have any.
She continues with her lie and says, “The country of La’Juune took everything from us, they had even blinded my partner here during an interrogation. All we want is to go back home, please let us pass.”
Such a sob story, who knows where she came up with that, perhaps she even thought of it on the spot the moment when the soldier knocked on the cabin door. Whenever it was, it’s definitely the best she has to offer. During times of war, things like that happen quite often, it’s not too much of a stretch for the soldier to actually fall for it and show her sympathy.
Rain is still bowing while she pleads.
The man sighs and leans his back up against the cabin door. “Is that so..?” he says in a fashion that screams out skepticism. “Then how did you come about this expensive carriage?”
This question is what she was hoping to avoid, she hasn’t come up with an excuse for that yet. Being prisoners of war that had narrowly escaped torture, there’s no way they’d be able to acquire something as high class as this, anyone can see that this is certainly off. That’s like living in a mansion but still having to dig potatoes out of the dirt for food.
Rain has nothing to say to that, she stays silent and contemplates another way out of this when Noah steps in front of her and removes his blindfold.
“What are you doing!?” Rain inquires as she pulls his sleeve trying to get him to sit back down on the seat.
Noah shrugs her off and says to the soldier, “Enough with the silly games... Captain Heinrich Zimmer.”
That name is sent flying through Rain’s memory like a flash of lightning. She lifts her head up with eyes wide open and catches her first good look at him. He has blond hair with two different colored eyes, one being green and the other being blue. He’s not too old but not a young man either, he’s most likely in his mid-twenties so he doesn’t give off the impression of a battle hardened soldier. This man is undoubtedly the person Rain was giving orders to only a little more than a month ago. He was second in command to Rain in the 1st Royal Army division that she was supposed to lead to victory in the sacking of Tronoble.
He winks at her, revealing his blue eye and waves arrogantly. “Long time no see Brigadier General Rain Von Ronheim.”
“Sorry for interrogating you. You see, I knew who you were all along, I just wanted to get back at you for all the crap I had to deal with when I was serving under your command.”
Heinrich shifts his attention from the shocked Rain to Noah. He bows respectfully and says, “King Noah, I await your orders.”
“Wait a second, just what the hell is going on here!? The two of you know each other?” Rain shouts.
Noah shrugs his shoulders and answers, “Remember when I told you I had a spy working in the Eiyalazonian military that was close to you? Well, this is him.”
“You’re the spy?”
“That's right.” Heinrich says politely, “Allow me to reintroduce myself... I am Heinrich Zimmer, the ‘Chameleon’ of the Dravic Branch of La’Juune.”
“I’m sure you’ve heard of the Dravic Branch.” Noah adds, “This man here is the top spy from there. The nickname ‘Chameleon’ was given to him because of his ability to adapt and change his own personality in order to fit the environment the people around him have created. He never wavers from the personality that suits the people he’s spying on, thus the reason why you never suspected him of being an enemy.”
Hearing praise from the King is like music to Heinrich’s ears, he soaks it all in as Rain asks, “So the reason why my division didn’t come back with Dice to help me in Tronoble was because of you..?”
“Yeah, I assumed control of the 1st Royal Army division the moment the time in which you promised your return had passed. I hope you don’t hold a grudge against me, but I naturally blamed the whole thing on you.”
Normally, Rain would be brewing with the hot sensation of hate right now. She looks over to Noah, who is sending her a glare of worry about this very thing.
She smiles and flicks Noah’s forehead, “Don’t look at me like that.”
She then turns to Heinrich and says, “I’m no longer interested in holding grudges for things I can do nothing about now. This pest of a king of yours has helped me see the errors in my ways.”
“Wow King Noah, I must commend you. I personally thought that this girl was the most rotten person in the world. For you to have changed her like this must’ve been a miracle.”
“No, it wasn’t me.” Noah replies as he rubs his forehead, his sleepy expression lights up a little when he grabs onto the familiar right hand of Rain. “She changed herself, I had nothing to do with it.”
“That’s even more surprising.” Heinrich says, a little flustered at the cute face Rain is showing at this moment. He grumbles as he clears his throat and asks, “So what are your orders King Noah? Where do we go from here?”
Noah smiles confidently and answers, “To the Capital.”
“Understood, it’s quite the coincidence that my division is heading back to the Capital on leave. Since we’re all going to the same place, shall my division and I escort you?”
“That’d be great.”
Heinrich hops out of the cabin and salutes to Noah through the doorway, before shutting the door he says, “From here, we’ll reach the Capital by noon tomorrow. I’ll inform you when we get close to the Castle.”
“Thanks Heinrich, you’ve done a great job.”
The door is shut and the feeling of the carriage moving once again is felt. Looking out the window, one can see that they are moving in unison with the entire division that Rain used to command.
An amazing turn of events to say the least; what are the chances of something like this actually happening?
Extremely low; far too low for this to even be a possibility, that is unless...
She turns to Noah who is sitting comfortably on the seat while still holding her hand and asks, “You knew this was going to happen... This was all part of your plan right?”
Noah pulls her hand down gently, prompting her to sit alongside him when he answers, “You should know by now that I never haphazardly do anything unless I’m forced to. When I say we’re going to do something, even if it is something as silly as flying a kite, I’ll make proper preparations for it ahead of time.”
“Hmph!” Rain puffs, “You could have at least told me, you shitty Prince. That whole situation almost made me panic.”
“You were worried about my safety? Why thank you Rain, that means a lot.”
“About you? Don’t flatter yourself, I wasn’t worried about you at all. It’s just that without you this war can’t be stopped.”
“What’s so funny?”
“I’ve heard of this kind of attitude before, it’s called... Hmm what was that? Oh yeah, Tsun-----”
Rain takes a pillow from the seat and hits him in the face with it really hard. “Don’t even think about finishing that sentence.”
The smile on Noah’s face doesn’t leave him and he keeps on laughing.
Rain tries to get up and walk to the other side of the cabin but is stopped by his grip on her hand.
“Let go, I won’t just sit by while you make a fool out of me like you always do.”
“Oh come on, I was just joking.”
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’re terrible at jokes. So let go.”
Rain clicks her tongue and scowls at him, the persistent part about Noah is the part she dislikes the most.
With a sigh of resignation, she relaxes her shoulders and asks, “Well then, since you’re the kind of person who’d think so far ahead just to fly something as dumb as a kite, what makes you want to hold my hand right now?”
Noah stands up and gets close to her; he looks her square in the eyes when he answers, “Do you really want to know?”
“Of course I do, I wouldn’t have asked you otherwise, you idiot.”
Noah inches his face closer to her, she backs up a little confusedly but he doesn't stop pressing forward until her back hits the cabin wall. By now Rain’s thought process is clouded and her body’s senses are tingling from his energy.
Just what is he doing? Is he teasing her again? But what’s with this serious look in his eyes?
“Ssh, don’t talk.” Noah interrupts.
The two of them can feel the warmth of each other’s breaths on their faces and the tension in between them is like a wall ready to be broken at any moment. “Close your eyes, Rain.”
Rain is hesitant at first, but she is not really in the mood to fight him for some reason. She shuts her eyes just as he asked her to.
(Is... Is he going to do what I think he is?) Rain thinks to herself, her face is becoming red and her heart is beating wildly. She starts feeling his face getting closer to her and her mind continues to race. (Is he really going to kiss me!?)
Thinking that this is what he is going to do, she considers moving her head, but her body won’t move. It’s as though it wants this to happen, and won’t budge until it is over. She is going to let him kiss her without even knowing why.
However, she feels his face move past her lips and the air from his breath hits her ears.
His voice is soft, so soft that if his mouth wasn’t so close to her ear she wouldn’t be able to hear him.
“I’m going to die.”
She instantly opens her eyes in shock, her shoulders jolted when he said that and her body starts shaking.
“I thought I told you to close your eyes.”
Noah then grabs onto her other hand, he stares at her intently when he says his words in an almost monotonous tone, “The reason why I’m holding on to your hand is because I like to. To be perfectly honest, I love it. There’s no thinking ahead here, there’s not a thought of anything other than the moment of touching you. I want to cherish these moments because I know I won’t have many of them left. You see, I’m extremely happy right now, can’t you see it on my face?”
Looking at the expressionless face residing on Noah, there’s no way she can tell that he’s actually happy. It’s more like he is giving a stern speech to a school child that had just stolen a piece of candy.
She doesn’t understand, she’s hopelessly confused; the sounds coming from the back of her throat are attempting to ask questions but aren't forming out of the front of her mouth.
“You were right about me being sick.” Noah continues. “I’m horribly sick, unfortunately, an irrecoverable sickness that can’t be cured. I don’t know how much time I have left, so I want to allow myself to be a little selfish before I pass. Of course, if you really don’t consent to it I’ll force myself to let go of your hand.”
“Y-You’re kidding... This isn’t a funny joke Noah!!”
Noah faintly smiles, “You were right, I’m not good at jokes; I don’t even know why I try. I’m no good at many things actually, how I express my feelings seems to be my worst trait.”
Noah squeezes her hands and never shifts his gaze from her eyes as he continues.
“You see, I had thought I’d abandoned them a long time ago in order to become a perfect General. I was on that path until I had come across a troubled Battle Strategist from an enemy country who I found an incredible need to help. That’s when I started to see what that girl was truly like, and it made me feel... I guess odd is the best way to explain it. She made me want to give myself away to her, the person I was supposed to be was bred to live in a world of conflict, and this Battle Strategist gave me the hope that I could exist outside of that world if only I gave myself to her instead. Does that even make any sense?”
“I guess not, it certainly doesn’t make sense to me.” Noah interrupts her again, “Knowing why this has happened is beyond the realm of what I can understand, I wasn’t prepared for it, nor am I equipped to handle it now.”
Having Noah spill his guts to her so suddenly has gotten her feeling as if this will be the last conversation with him. It’s like a criminal that confesses to crimes no one ever found out about on his deathbed.
It’s leaving a horrid pain reverberating in her chest as he continues to speak.
“But because I don’t know, I’m obliged to act upon these feelings with no plan for the future… Even though the setting of this cabin behind enemy territory isn't romantic at all, even if you end up hating me for it, I can’t keep myself from giving everything I have left to you.”
Noah pulls her towards him and asks, “So can you please close your eyes once more?”
She takes a deep breath and hesitatingly closes them again.
Noah’s voice gets closer to her when she feels the air of his words as he says,
“This is all I have.”
Their lips touch, much to the contrary of what she expected, the kiss he gave her is surprisingly gentle.
To Noah’s surprise, she didn’t even flinch when the feeling of her soft lips reached his.
This sends his feelings in a jumble, does she want this? Is she just scared? Is she sowing a cute blushing face right now? Or is she frowning in disgust? But none of these thoughts matter, nothing is going to keep him from stopping this moment in time. He’s going to take this experience to his heart’s content because chances are, it won’t happen again.
After a couple long seconds, Noah backs his face away from her and opens his eyes, he looks at her and is amazed to see the beautifully cute blushing face she’s wearing with her eyes still closed.
He smiles tenderly and says, “You can open your eyes now.”
She slowly opens her eyes, and a warm sensation escapes them and flows down her cheeks. She is crying as though she had just let out the pressure in the dam that was holding her heart back. The truth is, she is aching, her heart hurts so bad it’s forcing her to cry.
“I’m sorry...” Noah says as he looks away, “I won’t ask you to forgive me.”
“What are you talking about!?”
“There’s nothing to apologize for...”
“Then why are you crying?”
She puts her face in his chest, her lips are quivering.
“You said you’re going to die soon... if this is another terrible attempt at a joke, I’ll kill you myself.”
“Stop apologizing and tell me that it isn’t true!”
“I’m sorry, Rain… I am going to die.”
The next morning, the Capital of Troy awakens to a historic day. Today is the day that the Trojan people take their country back from a traitor, today is the day that the Queen reinstates her rightful position as ruler of this great country.
The morning sun shines gracefully over the white castle of Troy. The morning air is crisp with a gentle cool breeze, and the warmth of the water in the moat that stretches around the castle is steaming upon its touch, adding serenity to the atmosphere around the place. Just another perfect morning in the most beautiful city in the world.
No one would expect that the fresh clean air reaching the noses at this peaceful moment of time is about to be tainted with the smell of blood. There is a large clock tower above the entrance of the castle grounds, and there are four guards stationed there and many more throughout the outskirts of the grounds and inside the castle’s gates. These guards are led by Anders Henson and are under the control of General Sturgess.
These people are the enemies of Troy.
The men standing at the foot of the clock tower are yawning in boredom, they’ve been stationed here since earlier in the morning, and the fact that they are almost off shift seemingly makes the time move slower. The clock is only a minute or so from 9, and when it gets there, their grueling eight hour shift is over.
They stare at it anxiously as the minute hand slowly reaches the twelve and the bell sounds for the new hour. They all take a weathered sigh in relief as they prepare to make their return to the barracks.
However, an odd sensation comes over them and they are suddenly stopped in their tracks.
The clock tower explodes and debris is sent flying all over, the men under the tower who were walking to the barracks are shredded to pieces along with it. All across the walls of the castle grounds, more explosions that stretch in the mile long radius circling the castle pop in split second intervals. Like dominos falling, the explosions spread and the morning sky is filled with the color orange and the smell of smoke.
“Wow wow wow so perfect!” Seiri shouts as she looks on from a distant building through binoculars.
She has a perfect view of the destruction she caused from this vantage point.
Standing next to her is Lennox, Haas, and London.
“I thought I told you not to destroy any structure of the castle?” London asked after the tailend of a sigh.
“Collateral damage is collateral damage. There’s no avoiding it.” she replies.
“She’s right.” Lennox says, looking at himself in the mirror like usual. “Who cares if the King gets pissed, it’s not our problem.”
“...Agreed...” Haas added.
London pushes up his glasses as he watches thousands of Trojan citizens rushing into the castle grounds, by now an alarm has set off at the castle, guards and other enemy soldiers come rushing to the moat in order to stop the invading citizens.
Bodies fall into the lukewarm water of the moat, instantly turning it red with blood. He is witnessing the battle for Troy unfold and the immediate loss of life is quick evidence of what’s at stake here, this rebellion is the human embodiment of determination and grit. Watching this scene of two opposing views of the same nationality clash is brewing up an indescribable feeling in him.
He smiles and pulls out his fencing sword, he walks toward the door and addresses the others, “Let’s go, it’s time for the Knights of La’Juune to fulfill their mission here in Troy. Collateral damage be damned.”
Haas pulls out his twin blades, Lennox takes his broadsword and throws it over his shoulder, and Seiri juggles a few of her flasks as they follow him out of the room and head out to the battle.
“King Sturgess! The castle is under attack!” A man shouts after banging on the door of Sturgess’s room.
“I know.” Sturgess replies with an angered frown on his face, he is looking out the window and watching the scene unfold.
Just a few minutes earlier he was awakened by the sound of dozens of explosions from all around the castle.
He clicks his tongue and opens the door only to be met by the panic stricken face of the guard who had just reported the chaos outside.
“Who is responsible for this? The people of Troy are actually trying to fight back?” Sturgess asks himself as he strokes his beard.
Not expecting an answer, his petrified guard hands him a newspaper and says, “This was shot over the moat a moment ago by a catapult.”
Sturgess grabs it in an annoyed motion. “Don’t feed into this propaganda, they are trying to mess with your heads. This is just a-------“
In a split second, his face contorts into an odd shape.
He caught glimpse of the headlines stating,
‘KING ZURVICK IS ALIVE AND HERE IN THE CAPITAL!’.
“What the fuck is this?” he mutters, glaring at the picture of Zurvick alive and well with a group of citizens in some kind of wine cellar.
He tries to debunk this picture as some kind of fake, but his instincts know that this is a real situation he’s found himself confronted by.
He crumbles it up and throws it on the ground while shouting, “Damn it!! That bastard always finds a way to survive!”
“Go down to the castle grounds and fight with the others!”
The guard rushes off and leaves him alone.
He grits his teeth so hard that a cracking noise exits his mouth. “There’s still time.” he says through his shut mouth, a thin smile forms as he takes off running. “There’s still time!!”
Sturgess enters the dungeon where he is keeping Lelaine imprisoned, it has been close to a month since he put her in here and she hasn’t been out yet. He lights some candles and with his sword he starts banging the metal bars of her cage to agitate her into waking up.
“Lelaine!!!” he shouts, “It’s time for you to come to me!!”
He pulls a key out of his pocket and opens the door to the cell, it is so quiet in here that he becomes suspicious that she is even alive. In the corner of the cell is the form of a person huddled in a blanket, he walks to it and kicks it.
Still no noise, his face distorts in worry when he fears that she might actually be dead. He hurriedly pulls the cover off of her, and to his relief, she is there, breathing with her eyes open.
She is alive.
But the terribly cold and empty look in her eyes and her overall body language looks like a person who has long been dead mentally. She looks to be the definition of a person whose body is alive but is dead inside.
Pleasured by her sad state, he feels as though he has accomplished one of his goals, he has broken her.
He grabs her arm and lifts her to her feet, she struggles to keep up as he walks her up the stairs and out of the dungeon.
She is in such a state of incoherence that she doesn’t even try to fight it, she has lost whatever strength she had when her hope was shattered.
Once in the castle, the light of the sun hits her through the windows and she feels a burning pain on her skin as her broken body reacts to the dramatic change in atmosphere. Her eyes burn due to them being in continuous darkness, exposed to such little light is like staring into the sun for her, yet she is so weak that she can’t even find the strength to close her eyes to stop the pain.
She can’t see, nor hear, she is gone.
Like a doll, she holds the same expressionless face and a motionless body.
Her legs stop and Sturgess begins to drag her along like a dead animal.
“You’re not in that bad of shape, you spoiled Queen. I made sure to feed you enough to where you didn’t lose too much weight, you pretty much look the same as when I left you.”
Sturgess knows that he is talking to no one, he’s speaking to her as though she understands him just so he can release his pent up frustration at the urgency he’s been forced to operate under.
He reaches a door with a couple of frightened looking maids standing in front it.
These maids do the basic work of the castle, as employees of the castle they’ve essentially been held hostage here since the coup. Now caught in between two fighting forces, their lives hang delicately upon the will of others.
Sturgess viciously tosses the limp body of Lelaine on the floor in front of them and orders, “Give her a bath and clean her up, put makeup on her, make her look nice and pretty and take her to my room when you’re done.”
The maids shake as they help Lelaine back to her feet and stare at him in fear.
“Hurry it up! I don’t have time for you to just stand there and stare at me!!”
“Y-Yes, right away sir!”
The maids take Lelaine into the room and shut the door behind them.
Sturgess rushes to one of the windows and looks down on the battle ensuing at the moat.
A wicked, thin smile surfaces on his face as he squeezes his right hand.
“This damn luck of yours has run out, Zurvick. I have the power to kill you myself now, so come to me! Hahahaha, I’ll be waiting with your wife!”
Zurvick and Ash run through the wave of enemy soldiers on the suspension bridge over the moat. It would seem that the surprise attack didn’t allow them enough time to pull it up because it is stacked with hundreds of people from both sides. Zurvick is leading the way, cutting through all who stand before him until he hits a wall of shield-bearing soldiers and he is pushed to a halt.
“Ash!” he shouts as he holds his hand out.
Ash doesn’t reply, but runs at him at full speed; she unhesitatingly jumps up and with her right foot lands on his open palm. He then catapults her over the opposing soldier’s heads; the guards have no clue what happened until they are struck down from behind by the sword of Ash.
This gives Zurvick just enough wiggle room to break through the line and reach the other side of the moat.
“Push forward!!” he shouts, gesturing to the citizens of the rebellion to follow his lead.
They all rush in simultaneously and overwhelm the last remaining guards on the bridge. Zurvick catches up to Ash and pats her on the shoulder.
“Good job, I’m glad to have you on my team again.”
“Idiot, don’t you realize that you’re on ‘my’ team?”
“Haha fair enough.”
The sound of screams from in front of them interrupts their touching display of camaraderie. Soldiers of the fortified castle are pouring down boiling oil and shooting flaming arrows at the citizens of the rebellion. Dozens of people are burning to death as the struggle to get through the castle door ensues.
“I’ll go help them!” Ash says as she sprints to their aid.
Zurvick tackles her to the ground just in the nick of time, three arrows narrowly zoom past them and stick into the ground.
“You always have to look up when invading a castle. If you can time the attacks of the defenders, you can adequately uphold your offense.”
“O-Okay.” Ash replies as she stares at his hand that’s resting on her chest, she knows now isn’t the time to be flustered but she can’t help it.
Zurvick gets up from atop of her and looks up at his castle intensely. A little bitter that he didn’t even notice that he accidentally groped her, Ash stands to her feet and looks up with him.
In the window more than thirty stories up is the figure of the man responsible for all of this, Sturgess is looking down at them with a smile on his face while Trojans are dying.
“That bastard... What do you say we wipe that smile off his face, huh?” Ash asked Zurvick, pumping herself up in the process.
She runs to the aid of the others, all while looking up for incoming arrows.
But Zurvick’s glare is set solely on his former friend and ally; he takes a deep breath and forces himself to turn away.
“Hold out for just a little while longer Lelaine... I’m coming for you!!”
He rushes in and fights with the rest of the others.
Though everyone has their own reason to fight, Zurvick’s reason is simple.
Though the others have the pride of their motherland they are fighting for, Zurvick’s is more singular.
Though they fight for their loyalty to the Queen, he fights for the love he has for his wife.
But in this moment, they all share this battle together, whether it’s for the idea of the person and all she stands for, or the person herself.
They are all fighting to save Lelaine Niveusvenia, the Queen of Troy.
“Damn it, what a useless soldier I’ve become!” Allia shouts as her and Celestia are running around in the weapons plant at the most southern point of La’Juune.
“Shut up and run, thinking about it isn’t going to do you any good!” Celestia replies as they turn to the left and begin running down a long flight of stairs.
There is a frantic way in which they are running, it’s more like the way a mouse fleas when getting chased by a cat. An injured mouse at that, Allia’s left arm is tattered; her blood drips on the stone stairs made from the wall of the volcano as she takes each step downwards.
The farther they go down, the hotter it gets; the temperature went from near freezing to close to a hundred degrees in an instant.
“Run to where!? Going deeper into the plant isn’t going to help us at all!”
“Going outside would be worse, we’d freeze to death out there.”
“Tch! How did things turn out like this!? We’ve been running and hiding for hours now!”
Allia’s usual calm composure has been shattered, perhaps it’s her wound talking for her, or maybe the heat, but something is certainly wrong with her.
Celestia, who is leading the way yells in reply, “Calm down Allia! We’re going to get through this alright?”
Dragging her bloody arm behind her, Allia shouts, “How!? I can’t even use my weapon with this arm! If we don’t do something about this fast I might have to amputate it. Don’t you get how screwed we are with that monster chasing us!?”
Celestia grits her teeth and continues her run forward until she sees three soldiers of the plant running up the staircase in order to stop them. The soldiers don't know who they are but they do know that the two girls aren't allowed in here.
Without a second of hesitation, Celestia throws her shield; the men who are unfortunate enough to be on lower ground don’t even have a chance. Their body parts are sent flying all over and Celestia and Allia continue their advance unimpeded.
Travelling down one more flight of stairs Celestia suddenly stops and says, “Hold on a minute.”
She takes off her thick red jacket that has a few girly designs on it, reaches into one of the pockets and pulls out the flask filled with alcohol and throws the jacket off the staircase. She is wearing a white turtle neck undershirt; she lifts the bottom part of it and slides it across her shield, ripping a huge chunk out of it.
She then points it at Allia and says, “I’m sweating like a whore in church here; I don’t need all this clothing. I’m going to use the alcohol to fight infection and wrap this around your arm to stop the bleeding. Since you’re already injured, I’d recommend taking off most of your clothes too. You need to keep as much fluid in your body as possible to avoid a stroke, you're already sweating from your injury so you have to stay as cool as you can in this heat.”
Allia takes off her brown jacket and reveals the fact that she is wearing nothing underneath but an expensive looking purple bra.
“Are you serious?” Celestia asks in an amazed fashion.
“Where the hell is your undershirt!?”
“It was hot when we were travelling through the vents so I took it off. It was either that or the jacket.”
“Geez you sure do some pointless stuff every once in a while. Don’t tell me you’re not wearing panties either!?”
“Of course I am! They match this bra perfectly might I add!”
“Nyaah you’re so ridiculous!”
“It doesn't matter, I would've taken it off now anyways! N-Now’s not the time to be arguing about this. Just wrap me up so we can figure out what to do next.”
After she tends to Allia’s beat up arm, she puts the flask in her back pocket and takes a deep breath as she looks over the railing and down to the floor.
This is the spot where all the weapons are made, with the help of the dormant volcano under the plant, metal is able to be molded freely in mass numbers.
The pool of magma down below is 150 meters long and about a 75 meters wide; all the machines used by the blacksmiths to make the weapons are resting about twenty feet above it.
There isn’t a floor in this entire level of the plant, all there is are metal bridge-like walkways and stairs that lead to different levels of the workplace. One slip over the four foot high railing will result in being melted by the lava below. With the threat of that present, and along with the intense heat and sulfuric fumes in the room, working in here is about the most dangerous job one can do.
There are more than fifty men walking along these walkways doing work, they have yet to hear of the intruders so it’s business as usual, but there is no doubt that once they find out, they will attack the two girls when they get the chance.
“Even though there are more soldiers to deal with down here, we can use this place to our advantage.” Celestia said, her eyes fixated on the bright orange color of the magma.
“What do you mean?”
“I had us retreat to this furnace because we would’ve been killed if we kept fighting Captain Red at close quarters. He only uses his hands, so being in that hallway gave him an edge over us. However, in here, since we specialize in long range attacks, we can now take the upper-hand.”
“I get it... But my arm.”
“Don’t worry about that, there are plenty of other weapons down here. There are five different assembly lines in this massive room, each one of them carries different weapons. I assume they are standard swords, axes, spearheads, broadswords, and that weird weapon that they plan to betray La’Juune with. We’ll put them to good use. I know you’re not too good of a swordsman, and it’s going to be difficult with just one good arm, but we have to improvise with what we got if we want to live.”
Allia frowns and looks at her bloody arm. “Damn it... There’s no worse feeling for a soldier than becoming a burden to her comrade. I was careless, I’m sorry.”
“Nyaha don’t apologize with such a cute look on your face, I can’t take you seriously.”
“I am serious!”
“I know you are. But you don’t need to be, you said it yourself, we’re comrades. Comrades are never burdened by each other no matter how bad the situation gets. Comrades find a way to win with each other, injured or not. So get rid of those thoughts and fight with me.”
Allia smiles gently and replies, “You can be quite the level headed person sometimes you know that? It always amazes me how much your personality changes when things get intense.”
“Nyahaha, I am a genius after all!”
The two share a momentary laughter until they are interrupted by a loud noise coming from the top of the stone staircase about three stories up. The bang came from the door exploding and flying into the furnace room, the sound of the metal door clanging off the metal walkways below gathers the attention of all the men working on the assembly line.
“QUIT YOUR DAMN RUNNING ALREADY!!!”
Captain Red Spektor walks through the smoke of the doorway and instantly catches sight of Allia and Celestia down below. He has a wicked smile on his face as he begins to make his way down, and following closely behind him are ten other soldiers.
“Shit... I was hoping to make some kind of strategy while we waited for him to arrive.” Celestia said deeply as she puts her guard up.
Allia gestures her to look down, she does and what she sees adds to the severity of their disposition. The men once working at the assembly line are gathering freshly made weapons and rushing up the staircases leading up to them. With Red and the others coming down to them, they are surrounded with nowhere to run.
“What should we do?”
“We take out the guys at the bottom first. Captain Red can only use his hands to attack remember? If we get rid of the small fries first, we’ll have a better chance at winning the main battle.”
Allia looks up and then back down before replying, “Right.”
The two start running down towards the oncoming blacksmiths.
“Hey hey!” Red shouts, “Don’t ignore me!”
That is exactly what they do, they don’t even bother to look up at him as they make their way down the winding staircases.
“I SAID DON’T FUCKING IGNORE ME!!!”
The stone staircase connected to the volcano wall that separated the two Knights from the blacksmiths is ripped to shreds by a black liquid that engulfed it and blew up violently. The ground which they were running on shatters and starts falling apart, stairs drop into the magma like rain drops and the sound of them melting can be heard.
“Go back up!!” Celestia yells as the stairs that are breaking continue to rise toward their position like falling dominos.
She pushes Allia back and while doing so, loses her footing. She slides helplessly down the crumbling stairs until there is nothing under her except the heat of the magma.
Celestia tries to think of someway she can get out of this as she begins her descent towards death, but sadly, nothing comes to mind. That is, until she feels her arm being grabbed and the sensation of helplessly falling ends abruptly.
Looking up, she is met with a red liquid falling on her face; this blood is coming from the injured arm of Allia.
“I got you...” Allia says as she winces in pain.
With her bad arm grabbing Celestia, and her good arm latching onto the guardrail of the destroyed staircase, she finds herself in quite the pinch. It’s only a matter of time before one of her arms gives out, both of which will result in the death of her comrade.
“Ghhhhh! I-I'm going to pull you up!”
Allia pulls as hard as she can and as a result the wound in her arm rips open even wider and turns the white of the shirt used to bandage her a deep red.
“Allia! Don’t strain yourself! Let go of me!”
“A-Are you kidding!? You just got done giving me that whole speech about comradery, there’s no way I’m letting you go!”
“Would you just do as I say!?”
Red, who is staring at the destruction he had just cause can’t help but laugh, his own men who were at the lower part of the staircase are falling into the magma one by one due to the aftereffect of his attack.
“Hahahahaha would you listen to the sound of them falling in!? It’s like throwing bacon onto a burning hot skillet! Beautiful, gorgeous, perfection!”
“Damn that sick bastard.” Celestia says angrily as she looks behind her and notices that more than half of their pursuers have fallen in and the survivors are scrambling away from the broken staircase.
“Grrrrraahh!! I thought he could only use short range attacks with hand to hand combat!?” Allia asked, gritting her teeth as the pain of Celestia’s weight pounds on her body.
“... You’d think he’d have used that attack on us earlier if he had the chance... I was wrong.”
The reason why he didn't use that attack which could have torn them to shreds in the hallway earlier is revealed by the loud voice of Red.
“Hey hey!!” he shouts, “I highly recommend that you guys get moving! I only missed you because that was the first time I tried that attack! I aint gonna miss twice!”
He holds out his hand and that destructive black liquid forms around his arm once more.
“Shit! Hang on Celestia!!” Allia shouts as she uses all her strength to pull her up.
“Just let go of me Allia! I can use my shield to latch on to something so I can get up!”
“What!? Why didn’t you tell me that earlier!? My damn arm feels like it’s about to fall off!”
“You’re supposed to listen to me without me having to explain, you damn exhibitionist!”
“Exhibitionist!? Fine then I’d love to let you go!”
Allia prepares to let her go when the voice of Red is heard from above shouting,
“IT’S TOO LATE!!!”
He shoots a blast of that black liquid directly toward them; with the position that they’re in, there is no way they can avoid being torn to shreds by it.
All they can do is close their eyes as the sound of the blast reaches their ears.
However, the explosion is heard rather far off in the distance.
They open their eyes to see that Red’s attack had missed them and hit around twenty yards below them.
They both mutter as they stare in confusion.
And that’s when they hear the screams of people above falling all the way from the top of the room to the molten ground. With a rough sizzling sound, ten men land in the magma and die instantly.
The two Knights look up and see that no one is there, then they catch sight of another man falling in their peripheral vision.
It is Captain Red, except he ends up landing on one of the metal bridge like walkways twenty feet above the lava and with a loud bone crunching thud.
“I had this feeling that you two would have trouble with this mission.” Came a voice from above where the Captain once stood with his men.
Another chimes in, "Holy shit did you see that!? I was all like 'bababoooooosh!' and he tried to duck but I still hit him anyways and he went 'waaabaaaammm!' and fell off the side taking a couple others with him!!"
"Would you just shut up with that! You're fucking up our totally cool entrance. Don't you get how awesome it is to save a couple girls from trouble in the nick of time!?"
“There's nothing special about saving girls at all! I’m telling you man, chicks are no good for anything other than cooking! My dad always told me that and he was smart!”
“If he was involved in creating you I highly doubt that!”
Allia and Celestia instantly recognize these two voices and they both look up in surprise. They see two of the last people they’d ever think to see. One has brown hair and is carrying a large ax over his shoulder, and the other is a spear wielding chrome dome with a black tattoo on his forehead that stretches down below his eyes.
“What are you guys doing here!?” Allia and Celestia both shout simultaneously.
In reply, the two men both say, “We’re here to back you up.”
The reinforcements are none other than two more Knights of La’Juune. Two of the ten deadliest warriors in the entire world.
Olin Strausslend, and Jessiah Riddings.
“Well look who it is.” Jeffrey says as he greets a carriage at the gate of the Eiyalazonian Castle.
Out of the expensive looking carriage comes Noah, hand and hand with Rain.
“I hope things are going well here Jef--- No, Harold.”
“Hmm I guess you can say that.”
Noah looks around and asks, “Where’s your wife?”
“She’s tailing the brat right now.”
The castle guards let both Rain and Noah through the gate without so much as a question, just the fact that someone from inside the castle came to greet them is enough to show that they should be allowed access.
This is the kind of shoddy security this place, and castles like this have. The guards want to do their job and be strict with things, but they also fear that they’d lose their job if they did something to anger a nobleman. The guard knew that Jeffrey came in with the King and Queen, he’d be foolish to question him now. If his questioning angered him he could be severely punished, getting fired would be a blessing if the noblemen was the kind of person who thinks guards and such are nothing but dogs.
The three of them safely get through the gate and head on the pathway toward the entrance of the castle. One of the guards in front escorted the chauffeur and the carriage to a nearby stable so they are now on foot.
“I see that the girl isn’t talking as much as she used to.” Jeffrey said, as if poking fun at Rain, who has her head down and has been silent this whole time.
Despite being back home for the first time in months, she looks as though that's the last thing on her mind.
“Don’t worry about her.” Noah sternly replies.
“You know, I don’t like it when my Knights split up from each other, you all work better as a team. That being said, I hope there is a good reason why Elise isn’t here with us.”
“That kid, he’s going to do something today I’m sure of it. If we both left in order to get you into the castle, we’d leave the King and Queen vulnerable.”
“What do you mean by that?” Rain finally speaks.
“She doesn’t know?” Jeffrey asks, slightly raising his voice.
“I don’t know what?”
Now the both of them grow silent and this makes her realize it is something very important. She squeezes Noah’s hand and shouts, “What’s going on with the King and Queen!?”
Noah sighs, after a deep breath he stares at her intently and answers, “Prince Dice... He’s going to kill his parents.”
The shock of hearing that is apparent on her face. Though she had never liked the King and Queen, hearing that their own son is trying to kill them is disturbing.
Noah again stays silent, coaxing Jeffrey into speaking in his place, “He’s doing this for you.”
“You know that brat loves you right? Well, the Devil manipulated him into believing that his parents were the ones that sabotaged you back at Tronoble.”
Rain had just met the true culprit behind the failure at Tronoble, and he escorted her and Noah all the way to the Capital. She can’t believe that Dice would even consider his parents as suspects in this particular matter.
“But I don’t get it, why would he go so far as to kill his own parents for something like that!?”
Now Noah again joins in this conversation, “Because the Devil also convinced him that by him doing this, it will get you to see how much he loves you. And that you’ll return his feelings for doing something as devoted as killing his own parents in your honor.”
“I’d never allow something as ridiculous as that! We have to stop him!”
“That’s what we’re planning on doing.” Jeffrey said in a way that's stating the obvious.
“We’re going to kill him.” The Captain of the Ten Knights replied without a moment’s hesitation.
“You can’t do that!”
“What are you talking about? The kid’s a goner; if we don’t kill him he’ll kill his parents. And if that happens, your country is a giant shit stain on the face of the planet. Both ways, Prince Dice dies; I don’t know about you but I like the first option a lot more than the latter.”
Rain looks at Noah with pleading eyes and asks, “There has to be another way out of this, you saved me from the Devil... Can’t you save him too?”
Noah keeps his gaze forward on the road leading to the front entrance of the castle. He pauses for a few moments before speaking, “I... I don’t know if I can.”
“Please Noah! It’s my fault that he’s in this situation, I don’t know what I’d do if he died because of me.”
“From my understanding.” Jeffrey interjects, “You disliked Dice to the point of him turning himself into such a monster. What’s with the sudden change of heart?”
Rain grits her teeth; what he said is true and it hurts when he puts it into words like that. If she would have at least given him a shot, perhaps things could have drastically turned out in a different way. Instead she was cold to him, and occasionally led him on in order for him to do things for her. In hindsight, he’s continuing the same behavioral patterns so he can achieve the same results as before. The only thing different from now and then is the scale of what he’s doing to prove his devotion for her, and adding to that is the fact that she didn’t ask him for this.
He’s doing this on his own by way of a love that has been distorted and bent to accomplish the desires of a third party.
“Of course I never liked him... But I didn’t hate him either, and he’s my best friend’s brother! How can I look her in the face when she comes back to find her only brother dead and I didn’t do a thing to stop it!?”
Jeffrey reveals a rare frown, he clinches his fists in anger as he raises his voice, “You’re not doing a damn thing to stop it! You are asking Noah to do it for you! You’re treating him no differently than the way you used Dice!”
“Don’t you get it!? What you’re asking my King to do is die for your own selfish reasons!”
“You are, and you don’t even know it! He’s-----“
“That’s enough Jeffrey.” Noah calmly interrupts.
Jeffrey immediately stops and stands astute in a natural reaction to Noah’s order.
Noah then turns to Rain and asks, “Do you want me to save him?”
“I do...” she replies weakly.
“Then I will save him.”
“King Noah! You’ll----”
“Quiet...” he says, shifting his gaze in Jeffrey’s direction. “She is right about the two Princesses of this country. His death could cause more problems in the future, so I will save him.”
“That’s not your reason for doing this and you know it.”
“Hmm I guess not. But it’s an added bonus.”
Jeffrey has a strained look on his face, as if he’s holding himself back from doing something that he’ll regret. “You never think about yourself do you? It’s always about someone else.”
Jeffrey clicks his tongue and turns his back to Noah, which could be considered a huge insult depending on how one looks at it this. And if that’s not bad enough, he says, “Please pardon my insult your highness... But you’re a fucking idiot.”
Jeffrey speeds up his walking and gains distance between Rain and Noah, leaving them to themselves.
Rain can’t help but glare at Noah worriedly. There must be something behind all that, she wants to pry but doesn’t want to become a nuisance, especially after he agreed to help her.
All she can say is, “Thank you, Noah...”
He adds an extra bit of tightness to his grip on her hand and smiles, a tender smile that tells her that he’d do anything for her. The kind of smile that makes her feel secure, and she is extremely grateful for it.
That’s when the words that he spoke the day before suddenly hit her,
(I’m going to die...)
With that in her head, her eyes start watering, she hides her face in his shoulder and says through a broken voice, “Noah... I... I----“
“Shit!” Jeffrey shouts from in front of them.
“What is it?” Noah asks.
He points up to the middle of the castle about twenty stories up at a flashing light through a window.
“That’s Elise, she said that if something was up while I was getting you, she’d shine a light with a mirror through a window in order to alert us.”
“Could it be that Dice is attacking the King and Queen!?” Rain asks, her face still a little flushed from the earlier conversation.
“I don’t know, but this means that we need to hurry. Let’s go!”
The three of them rush into the castle and head to where they saw the light. Not knowing what to expect when they get there, anxiety builds in their chests as the determination to stop this assassination grows with each step.
Screams, horrible screams of agony resound around the entrance of the Trojan castle as people seemingly die every second.
All of the men of the rebellion are here attempting to break through the wall; these are regular people who just a few days earlier were likely going about their daily business. People who were going to work, taking care of their families, enjoying the moments of normal living. These people are now fighting to the death in order to restore the country that they love so dearly, they are fighting to protect the lives they left behind in the first place in order to fight.
“It’s not working!” A man shouts in the crowd of people storming the massive wooden door keeping them from entering the castle.
The sense of hopelessness taints their morale as they are killed off so easily by the men atop the castle walls. Be it searing tar, flaming arrows, or shrapnel bombs, people are dying terrible deaths.
And for what?
They aren’t advancing any further than they were when they first made it here.
“Don’t give up!” Zurvick shouts as he joins a group of around twenty men using a large cut down tree with prongs on the side of it for holding.
He grabs onto to one of the prongs and shouts with all his might as he and the men run forward and slam the jagged edge of the tree into the massive castle door.
The door to the castle barely budges but a few more hits might result in the door caving in. The only problem is that with each strike, the tree gets heavier because about five people are killed in the process by archers from above.
The carnage has gotten so bad that a lot of the people fighting with them are too afraid to attempt to help in fear of being that vulnerable. Anyone who stands defenseless on one of the prongs can be easily picked off, or burned to death with hot tar.
Seeing people hesitate, and even flee from the castle door, and sensing the dismay of his peolpe, Zurvick desperately shouts, “Just a little more!”
But the people won’t listen, their morale has been shattered and the way they fight has lost its intensity.
Knowing full well that if this continues there’s no way they can win, Zurvick presses forward with the remaining survivors at the door. They get ready to make another lunge when a voice is heard from behind Zurvick’s ear shouting,
Zurvick turns around and finds London standing there, looking almost too calm considering the hectic situation they are in.
“Don’t waste your energy on something as pointless as that.” he said, walking toward them in a nonchalant manner.
Even when a flame tipped arrow zooms pass his face, he simply moves his head to the side and continues walking as if nothing happened.
“But we need to get through this door! Can’t you see we’re getting slaughtered out here!?” Zurvick retorts.
“I can see that, that’s the reason why I’m telling you to do this instead.”
With his hand, London gestures to someone in order for them to come.
From in between a mass of fighting soldiers of the rebellion and castle guards comes Haas and Lennox. They run up to the tree and London joins them.
“This tree should be just the right height.” Lennox says, “Now! Seiri!!!”
From seemingly out of nowhere, Seiri comes running. Perhaps due to her size she is relatively unnoticed by everyone there. She jumps up and effortlessly lands atop the tree that has been used as a barricade buster.
“If you want to destroy a castle door, why not use the strongest weapon possible?” London asked with a slight smile.
That’s when Lennox shouts, “Stand this tree up! On the count of three!”
Zurvick doesn’t ask questions, these Knights are the best at what they do, so he’d be foolish to not listen to them.
To get the others to join in without any problems, Zurvick initiates the countdown.
With that, the log that weighs tons is lifted up with great speed by the strength of all the men holding it. Being on top, Seiri jumps forward right at its apex and is sent flying as if her small body had just been shot out of a cannon.
After a couple smooth looking flips in the air to maintain her balance, she lands softly on the top of the wall that holds the door to the castle. The men who were raining down arrows and hot tar onto the rebellion stare at her in amazement as they try figure out what to do about this.
“Oh don’t look so confused guys. Just because I’m a little girl doesn’t mean I’m not here to kill you.”
There are dozens of soldiers to each side of her, encircling her, waiting for someone to make a move.
But unfortunately for them, the first one to act is the La’Juutian Knight. She pulls two flasks out of a duffle bag she is carrying on her waist and uses her mouth to take the lids off them.
After spitting the two lids out, a cute smile forms on her face. “This is something I think you’ll all find interesting. I haven’t used it yet so even I might lose my arms doing this if something goes wrong. One thing’s for sure though, all of you are gonna to die.”
She slams the butt end of the flasks together and moves her hands away as fast as possible.
The two flasks are shot off in opposite directions as fast as a bullet and rip through the air, causing a loud cracking noise. They strike a guard standing on each side of her who had no clue what was happening and they fall back violently before crashing into a pile of other soldiers.
Seiri folds her arms and smiles, “Well hey what do ya know, looks like my arms made it out just fine.”
From each side of her a massive explosion rips through the foundation of the wall holding the entrance to the castle. The soldiers are blown in all directions as Seiri stands safely in the middle of the two blasts. The hot wind blows through her long silky black hair as she smiles at the destruction she caused.
Excluding the area in which she stands, the wall is blown to bits and crumbles down to the ground.
Of course, some of the members of the rebellion on the ground below are knocked back but surprisingly none are injured. The trail of devastation flowed around them as they are left standing in the middle as if they were in the eye of a hurricane.
The door that everyone tried so desperately to break through still stands, but the castle wall around it is gone.
“Now that was easy wasn’t it?” Lennox says as he pulls out his sword and runs into the ruins of the entrance.
“Come on Haas, let's go.” London says as he and Haas rush in to join him.
This is the way the Knights go about things; what the average man struggles mightily to do, they accomplish it effortlessly and think nothing of it once they’re done.
Zurvick can’t help but be amazed by this as he regains his senses and shouts to the rest of the men,
“Into the castle!!”
With that command, hundreds of rejuvenated people storm in and the battle continues on inside the castle. Running through well-kept hallways that have never seen a bloody event such as this, Zurvick comes to the realization that he hasn’t seen Ash in a while. Fearing that something might've happened to her without him noticing, he turns back around and looks through the faces of all the people fighting behind him.
“Look out!” someone shouts.
Sensing something amiss, Zurvick again turns his head and spots an enemy soldier swinging his sword down on him.
“Shit!” he hisses as he tries to parry the man’s attack.
Suddenly, the enemy soldier’s blade is stopped and his blood is sent flying onto an expensive painting on the wall. He was defeated in one strike and fell to Zurvick’s feet.
“What the hell are you doing spacing out like that you idiot!?” shouts Ash.
There she is, right by his side just like he had hoped. She was the one who had perhaps just saved his life in his moment of distraction.
Zurvick sighs and smiles stupidly, “My bad...”
“Come on let’s get going! I need you to lead the way to where the Queen is. I’ve never been in here before!” she yells as she pushes forward.
The two fight their way through the cluster of bodies in the hallway. It has gotten so crammed with people that if one fell, there is no doubt they’d be trampled. Hundreds of people fighting to the death in the now narrow hallways of this castle.
Around the first bend of hallway that leads to the stairs going up, the enemy soldiers park themselves in lines of ten and in five deep rows with their body sized shields out in a defensive position. When soldiers of the rebellion clash with them; the guards on the second level of the blockade stab their spears through the gaps in the shields. The ones unlucky enough to be the first wave are easily impaled and fall to the ground.
“There’s gotta be a way past them... Ash!” Zurvick shouts, gesturing for her to do the same thing they did on the bridge over the moat.
Without even speaking she agrees, but her shoulder is grabbed before she can make her move. The one holding her back is a big black man, his name is Haas Avondale and his expressionless face is joined by a nod of his head, telling her to stay back.
“...I’ll... Go...” he struggles to say.
He rushes through the openings of bodies and right past Zurvick, who was knelt down in order to give him a boost. However, Haas doesn’t use anyone to help him; with just a short running start he easily leaps over the heads of the guards and lands on the other side of the five deep blockade.
Something as ridiculous as that should be impossible; his vertical jump was well over seven feet high and between the first wave of guards to the last was almost twenty feet.
None the less, he gets behind them and with the twin blades he carries in each hand begins slashing in a meticulous manner, killing off what seems to be three men with each strike.
He is doing this so smoothly because his specialty is hitting the vital points of his enemies. Though a lot of these vital points are small, and hard to aim at in the heat of battle, he has a direct hit every time due to countless hours of training. Sometimes he aims for nerves that instantly incapacitate a man, and others he aims for an organ that if severed will lead to an instant death.
The point of this is to keep the usage of his stamina to a minimum; if he were to leave a man alive after his first strike, than that means more effort to kill him off, and more effort means less enemy soldiers dead.
Before the blockade even knew it, half of their fifty men are slain and they are easily overwhelmed by the surging rebellion.
With that, the first floor of the castle has been won. There are still plenty more floors to go, and having the severe disadvantage of fighting an enemy from a lower position, the battle is far from over.
The rebellion continues to the stairs and just as they thought, there are enemy soldiers waiting for them with arrows drawn. With the order of a superior officer from above, a storm of arrows is sent flying down on them. Dozens of people die in that instant and the large staircase leading up begins to become tattered with bodies.
“Let me handle this one.” Lennox says with a smile as he takes the lead in running up the stairs.
He is holding a body sized shield taken from one of the dead guards in one hand, and his sword in the other.
The archers atop the staircase reload and send more arrows directly at Lennox. The shield is large enough to cover his body, but it is not strong enough to withstand dozens of arrows being shot at it from such a close range. But, Lennox uses it to protect himself anyways, the arrows hit the shield and it instantly starts falling apart. The shield drops and is sent hurling down the stairs, the archers above think that the one who had just charged them must have been an idiot.
Looking closely, they see that the shield that has been impaled by the arrows is not being held by anyone at all.
Where did the man carrying it go?
That question is answered when they hear a voice, “I’m right here!”
Lennox is running on the wall as if defying the laws of gravity.
He jumps into the middle of the couple dozen archers and smiles as he says, “There are two things I like about fighting archers. One: Is that they put so much focus on their targets they don’t even realize when something is off.”
Lennox swings his sword and sends limbs flying, the men scream in agony as they try to scramble away from him.
“I was plainly in front of you but you didn’t notice because your target was the shield. Archers attack like bulls do to the color red.”
He slices a couple more viciously and he starts to laugh.
“And two: Is that they usually don’t carry any other weapons!”
This happens to be true in this situation, the archers that were raining down death just a few moments ago are now defenseless.
Due to certain issues, be it monetary, or efficiency, archers will likely only carry bows because they are normally used for long range attacks. Only when the battle is planned to go to close quarters at some point do they carry small swords on their sides. Unfortunately for them, the nature of this battle was a surprise so they are left with just their bows.
Sure, some might have small daggers to fight with, but they are no match for the La’Juutian Knight, being virtually unarmed against a man like him equals a guaranteed death.
The rest of the rebellion rushes up the stairs and onto the next floor, not knowing what awaits them next.
“Damn it, we’ve lost so many people in just these two floors alone... Just how many more are there?” Ash asks as she runs up the staircase next to Zurvick.
Zurvick looks almost embarrassed when he answers, “Twenty-four...”
The castle is twenty five stories high; though not as large as La’Juune’s and nowhere close to Eiyalazo’s, this castle houses a lot of different people. Unfortunately the Queen lives on top.
“It’s going to take forever to get up there!” Ash shouts.
“No it won’t.” London calmly states as he runs to their side, “The enemy defense is going to narrow the further we go up. I’m willing to bet that the top floor holding the Queen only has a few soldiers guarding it.”
“What makes you say that?” Ash asks.
“You can tell just by looking at it. A castle goes from wide at its base, to thin at its top. Assuming that they have all the soldiers stationed at the castle in order to defend it against us, it’s safe to say that there is no way they’d be able to fit a large amount of them at the top. They’re basically using the brunt of their force down at the bottom floors to keep us from reaching the Queen.”
“He’s right.” Zurvick adds, “Though our castle hasn’t ever been attacked before, we’ve made preparations in case it was and it goes exactly as he says. It’s going to be tough until we get past the fifth floor because of the design of the castle. But once we’re through there, we’ll be able get to Lelaine!”
Feeling quite relieved after hearing that, Ash smiles and shouts in determination,
“Let’s do this!!!”
Sturgess is standing in the Queen's room looking out of an open window with his hands behind his back. The morning sun shines on his salt and pepper hair as the black of his dark eyes soak in the light. An empty glare is being sent out on the castle grounds and the Capital; he can see plumes of dark smoke rising in the air and through his narrow focus, he can hear the subtle sounds of screams coming from the floors below him.
What he sees with this glare is everything this morning has to offer, the beauty of the oncoming day, the ugliness of death, the hopelessness, the determination.
What he sees is the rebellion.
Yet here he is, not doing anything to stop it, it has been over an hour since it started and he hasn't made any effort to help.
Why is he standing around doing nothing? Perhaps he is confident in his victory? Perhaps he doesn’t feel the need to fight?
The frozen glare from his cold eyes is warmed by the sun and a thin smile surfaces on his face. The answer to those questions had just knocked on the door.
“She’s ready...” A frail voice of a woman said from outside of the room.
“Bring her in.” Sturgess replies as he walks away from the window.
The door slowly opens and in comes Lelaine, accompanied by a maid. The maid still wears a frightened expression as Sturgess’ eyes molest Lelaine’s body from head to toe.
The Queen is wearing a transparent white gown that gently sways when a small gust of wind enters the room through an open window. Her hair is down and blows along with it as the sunlight hits her gold eyes.
This woman, the object of Sturgess’ deepest desires is standing beautifully before him, defenseless. She is now his to take and he won’t allow anything to stop him.
He looks to the maid and says, “Leave.”
Since the maid thought that he might’ve killed her once the job was done, she takes a big sigh of relief and hurries out of the room, shutting the door behind her.
“You look amazing. It’s like I never put you in that hole to begin with.” Sturgess says as he walks to her and puts his hands on her bare shoulders. “Come.”
He pulls her along to the bed and lays her flat on her back.
“I see you’re not fighting me this time Lelaine?”
Her blank stare which carries even more emptiness than his own is seeing through him as if he wasn’t there. Her emotionless expression signifies the pit of despair a person obtains once every last part of them has been broken. This is the stare signifying that Sturgess has won; no matter what the battle down below them results in, he is the victor.
She’s given in...
Sturgess finds it difficult to hold back a triumphant laugh as he gets atop of Lelaine and mounts her; oh how he’s wished for the moment he could see her flat on her back on a bed like this. Years and years of dreaming about it has finally come to fruition.
He leans down and whispers into the ear that most likely can’t hear him, “Is it okay?”
Lelaine still stays motionless like a statue and doesn’t reply.
“Hahaha, if you don’t say no that must mean that you want this right!? Such a whore you are my Queen!”
By now his face is beginning to distort like a portrait on fire. He pulls his shirt off from over his head and tosses it up against the wall.
“Oh Lelaine, I want this too...” he says, his voice begins cracking in an almost inhuman way as he grabs a lock of her hair and begins smelling its sweet fragrance.
Lelaine doesn’t even flinch, she is letting this happen. However, this isn’t because she wants it, she simply can’t move. She can’t speak for that matter, she can’t hear, she can only see through a blurred vision. Yet she is conscious, trapped in her own mind as a man she despises is fondling her inappropriately.
She wants to move, no, she has to move, she has to shout, she has to fight... But she can’t.
(W-Why can’t I?) she asks herself, the feeling of his tongue sliding down her neck hits her senses.
Her heart beats furiously at this, she grows sick when his scent hits her nose, it’s as though someone is stabbing her repeatedly in the chest. It’s as though an anvil is holding her body down.
She doesn’t like this, she hates this, she wants it to stop. But her body simply just won’t move.
Why is that? It could be that her body has just grown that weak due to lack of exercise in the cell.
Or maybe this is the result of losing everything that gave her strength in the first place?
That's it, losing her daughter because of a poor decision, and losing her husband because of another.
The two, and only people that kept her going are gone and nowhere to be found, neither of them is going to walk through that door and return that strength to her. She has come to the quick and ugly realization that she has become nothing without them. She ‘is’ nothing without them.
With his big hand, he grabs the blouse area of Lelaine’s dress and rips it off like nothing. In that simple motion, the full form of Lelaine’s beautiful body is feasted upon by the eyes of Sturgess. What was once only imagined in dreams is now projected right in front of him.
Mercilessly looking at her up and down, he notices something on her face.
Through the blank of her stare, a stream of tears fall down her cheeks from each eye.
“Oh?” Sturgess mutters, that wicked smile never leaving his face. “So you are still in there huh?”
And that’s when he bursts out laughing, a sick laugh that should only belong in a horror film exits his mouth.
“PERFECT!!!” His hands latch onto her shoulders and he moves his face close to her. “YOU’LL KNOW EXACTLY HOW I FELT WHEN YOU SAID NO TO ME ALL THOSE YEARS!!!”
Sturgess takes off his belt and pulls his pants down, ignoring the ever flowing tears on Lelaine’s face, he leans in to speak to her once more.
In a mocking tone he says, “Time to get started...”
Zurvick slashes his way through a couple more soldiers and reaches the twenty-fifth floor of the castle.
“We made it.” he said, breathing hard while doing so.
Standing beside him is London. “It was a lot easier to get here by leaving the others behind. Travelling in a large group would just slow us down.”
Zurvick leans against a wall for a quick rest and asks, “Was it really okay leaving Ash and your two men to fight through an entire floor alone?”
The reason he said two and not three is because Seiri has been stationed outside this whole time using explosions to keep reinforcements away. She is doing it quite effectively too, because there seems to be a different explosion sounding off from all across the castle every minute or so. None of the other soldiers have been able to get in yet.
London pushes up his glasses and smiles almost arrogantly, “With Haas and Lennox accompanying that girl, I doubt your Captain would have to fight at all.”
“You’re awfully confident about that aren’t you?”
“I’m positive of it. I can just see her running around like a kid trying to keep up with them and getting frustrated at the fact that she can’t help.”
Zurvick laughs, even though this isn’t something to really laugh about, the image of it lightens his mood up a little. “I can see her doing something like that too...” After his laugh he sighs and reveals a strained smile, zoning out on the wall he finishes, “She’s such a good girl.”
“I agree; people like her are a rare case nowadays. My comrades, and even my King see that too. So you don’t have to worry, she’s in good hands. All you need to think about is saving the Queen.” London said, revealing an unusual expression of emotion.
Zurvick’s face tightens up a little when the thought of seeing Lelaine reaches his mind; he gets up from the wall and replies, “You’re right. Our room is over this way, we should get going.”
He starts to run, but halts when he notices that London isn’t following behind.
“It’s more fitting for you be the one to rescue the Queen. I can hear enemy soldiers coming our way, so I’ll keep them from interfering.”
With a quick flick of his wrist, London causes his fencing sword to make a whipping noise and turns away from Zurvick. He stands there unworried, waiting for the arrival of the enemy soldiers knowing that he’d be outnumbered.
Zurvick can’t help but admire people like him, he never would have thought that he’d come to respect a La’Juutian soldier other than Napoleon, but he has found four of them.
He smiles and begins to run towards his and his wife’s room, but not before leaving the Knight with some final words, “After this, we should all go out for a drink!”
London smiles and huffs air out of his nose, waving his free hand he replies, “Sure thing.”
Zurvick continues his sprint towards Lelaine, each step the anxiety rises. He hasn’t seen her in months and he’s missed her dearly. He misses her smile, her voice, her eyes; he even misses the smell of the smoke from her pipe. All of those feelings are about to come to an end because he finally gets to be with her once more.
He has gone through so many hardships in order to reach this point. From fighting on the front-lines with the 105th Specialist Division and killing his old friend Ditreig Von Ronheim. From being stabbed at a Ball in Tronoble and almost dying in the inferno that ensued shortly after. All the way to fighting against his own people as part of a rebellion.
Through the most hopeless and trying of times, one thought kept him going, one feeling helped him in making his fight for survival all the more fulfilling. Even though he had the help of others, one person and one person alone kept him alive up until now.
That person is his wife Lelaine, the person he loves most in the world.
And once Sturgess is out of the picture, and once Trojia returns safely to their arms, they can live the happy life that they have been blessed with once more.
After one last final turn, he reaches the large double doors of his old room, pushing back the feeling of nostalgia; he opens it and shouts with a smile,
That’s when a sight is sent like a ball of fire into his eyes.
The mere sight alone knocks the wind out of him as if someone had taken a sledgehammer to his gut.
His body shakes uncontrollably as he falls back, if it wasn’t for the door shutting behind him there’s no doubt he would have fallen to the ground.
In an instant, everything seemingly grinds to a halt. His eyes are so wide that the reflection of what he is looking at can be seen perfectly in his pupils as if they were mirrors.
With teeth chattering, he lets out a voice full of anguish.
“W-What..? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!?!?”
Their Rebellion: (END)
Chapter 50: Checkmate
Satan sits on his usual throne in the dark room. The familiar sight of the chessboard that signifies the way in which the main characters of the world are moving, sits on a table right in front of him.
The game has taken a turn for the worse for him and the look on his face shows it.
He only has three black pieces left on his side of the board and they're almost completely surrounded by the white.
His pieces are a rook, a queen, and of course the king. Each piece is in place as Sturgess, Dice, and Red Spektor. The white pieces are the game’s version of the Ten La’Juutian Knights, Lelaine, Zurvick, Gile, Diana, and Noah.
“Things sure are getting tight isn’t it Noah? But you know, it’s not over yet. You’ve traded strategy for outright numbers in this game and it just might cost you.” Satan’s voice echoes in the dark room as if he is talking to the darkness itself. “You see, chess is a fickle game. If one makes the right moves, he can win with far less pieces than the other. The key is sacrificing the right pieces in order to get to that point in the first place. I’ve done it multiple times already just to get myself out of ‘check’. And I’m going to have to do it again to win.”
He moves the black king piece forward two spots and in turn has it surrounded by the white. Satan does this so confidently because the shift of position leaves his last rook piece resting on the square adjacent to the king.
This could only mean one thing...
“I’ve used almost all of my power maneuvering my way into the lives of the pawns. So much so that if I were to lose, I would most likely not be able to send my powers to Earth for quite a long time. That being said, I’ve naturally made it to where I have the best chance in winning simply in light of the facts that go along with my loss. All I need is for one of these pieces to break through your defenses and it’s all over for you... Just one.”
Knock Knock Knock
The sound of someone knocking on the door echoes in the room. Satan doesn’t give whoever it was permission to enter but the man does so anyways. The light from outside peers through the room and hits Satan's face, causing his eyes to shine an even more menacing red.
In comes Amon, the 4th ranked demon of the Hierarchy.
Being met with a glare that can kill, he skips the formalities and gets straight to the point. “I remember hearing you mention something about some kid on Earth with a certain power giving you problems.”
“What of it?” he sharply replies.
“I also recall you saying that that kid said he got that power from one of the people Damien sent to Purgatory right?”
Satan stays quiet but his expression indicates that he wants know where his underling is going with this.
Amon throws his hands in his pockets and his lips faintly rise, he is happy that he is the one that gets to reveal the news before anyone else.
“Man oh man how I’ve got a story involving a certain priest for you...”
“So how was it!? How was my superhero like entrance!?” Olin shouts, giving the puppy dog eyes to Allia and Celestia.
The three of them along with Jessiah are standing safely on the part of the staircase that hasn't collapsed.
Allia sighs and says, “As much as it pains me to do so, I have to thank you guys.”
“Yeah no kiddin', we were in some deep trouble back there. So what's the reason why you two came here to back us up?” Celestia asked.
Jessiah swings around his spear and explains, “Well we actually got done with our missions a lot earlier than we expected. I mean, we took out eleven of those monster bastards before we knew it.”
“Eleven!?” Allia and Celestia shout simultaneously.
“Well yeah.” Olin responds, “They weren’t that tough after all, other than a couple tricks, most of those people were untrained noblemen trying to benefit from the results of the war. They couldn’t hold a torch to us.”
“No way, weren’t they spread out over all three countries?”
“All of them were around the borders so it wasn’t that hard to get from one to the other. The furthest one away is this bastard down here in the south.”
Celestia sighs and says, “I think we got the short end of the stick in this. The one that Allia and I took out a few weeks back wasn’t a slouch, and this Captain Red guy is flat out ridiculous.”
“Or it could be that we are just that much more bad-ass than you are?” Jessiah asked while striking an arrogant pose.
“Yeah right.” “No way.” The two girls say at the same time.
Olin walks up to the broken guard rail and looks down, revealing an expression full of seriousness. Down a couple stories below on one of the metal walkways above the lava is Red, and he is beginning to stand to his feet.
He gestures the others to come take a look and says, “We’re not out of the clearing just yet, if that guy is as tough as you say he is then we’d better end this quick.”
“But before that, I gotta ask one thing.” Olin says, his eyes so full of intensity that it makes Allia and Celestia’s body stiffen up.
With the same face, Olin looks to Allia and asks, “Why isn’t your bra black?”
The whole atmosphere around him shatters like glass falling on the ground and the two girl’s mouths drop instantly.
“Don’t you get it? Purple is weak, black is beauty!” he shouts, fists clinched as though he is proving an important point.
“What the hell are you talking about at a time like this!?” Allia yells in a flustered manner.
“There is no time where this proven fact doesn’t take precedence over everything else! Purple? Really Allia? This is the first time I’ve seen you topless and I gotta say, you have a perfect rack. How could you ruin this moment for me with a purple bra!?”
Allia covers her chest and her face turns bright red. She didn’t give it much thought before when it was just her, Celestia, and the enemies. But now looking at it, she comes to the realization that this is the first time any guy has ever seen her like this; it’s bad enough it has to be these two knuckleheads.
“I’m not perverted at all!” Olin shouts, “I’m just stating the obvious here, if you had a black bra on there’d be nothing holding me back from having a nosebleed! Don’t you realize how powerful of a weapon you have?? You’re wasting it right before my eyes! Such a tragedy!”
Allia hides behind Celestia and says, “Celestia, do something about this guy! He’s embarrassing me!”
She sighs and replies, “Well you shouldn’t have thrown away your shirt. It’s your own fault.”
“Whhaaaa don’t say that! You’re a girl too so you should know how I feel!”
Olin’s disappointed eyes switch to Celestia, and looking at her he finds that for the most part she is dressed pretty skimpily as well. Her white shirt is almost transparent due to the heat of the room and her bra can be seen too.
“Hmmm, pink huh?”
“Eh?” she mutters as she looks down on her chest. “Kyahh!”
In a flash she uses her shield to block his view.
“Photographic memory, okay!” he shouts, taking a picture in his mind. Wriggling around in a creepy fashion, he continues, “Your chest isn’t nearly as big as Allia’s so a cute pink bra suits your kiddish appearance perfectly.” He then holds his thumb up and smiles stupidly at her. “Nice touch!”
A flame begins to brew in Celestia's eyes; the sound of her teeth grinding together is similar to a nail on chalkboard. With the strength of a thousand men she grabs onto Olin’s neck and begins to strangle him.
“I’m going to kill you.”
Judging the terrifyingly dark expression on her face, it would seem she is actually going to do it.
Sensing the force of the wrecking ball that is Celestia Letrova, Jessiah is forced to intervene. “Now now, don’t get your panties up in a wad.”
Celestia turns her head like she is possessed by a demon impossibly to the side and scowls at him. Her grip on Olin’s neck doubles and he begins flailing his arms and legs around in a panic.
“...WHAT ABOUT PANTIES?”
The horrid voice exiting her mouth scares Jessiah into complacency and he shrivels as he takes frightened steps back. He glances into the pleading eyes of Olin and shrugs his shoulders as if saying, 'I tried.'
Olin flips him off, sending a message of his own implying sarcastically, ‘Thanks for the effort!!!’
Jessiah bows to him and politely says, “May you rest in peace.”
Before Olin passes out of asphyxiation, a loud noise from below snaps Celestia out of her angry death mode and she releases her hold.
Having his life saved, Olin takes a deep, well needed breath and hops up to his feet, smiling stupidly like usual. That’s when he notices that everyone else has dropped down, guarding themselves.
“What’s up?” he asks.
“GET DOWN!!!” They all shout.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Multiple shots ring out and debris from the rock wall to his side scatters all over as if someone threw grounded up chalk into the air.
“Whoah!! What the hell was that!?”
Looking down, they can see that the remaining twenty men who work on the assembly line are pointing strange objects at them and shooting projectiles that fly at an incredible speed.
“These are the weapons that they are planning to overthrow La’Juune with!” Alla shouts while a cloud of debris from the fragile rock above her head falls down on top of her.
“This is insane! If we get hit by one of these things we’re toast!” Olin points out.
“Then let’s move! They suck at aiming but if we just wait here we’re bound to get hit!”
After Celestia’s order, they all get up and jump off the staircase in different directions. Below them are numerous walkways that are rather wide, but to hop off without any hesitation knowing full well of the presence of the magma below takes extreme amounts of courage.
None the less, they each end up in different parts of the factory and the workers scramble along firing pop shots in every which direction they can. Although the bullets ricocheting off the metal rails of the walkway seem close enough, in reality, the Knights aren’t even close to getting hit.
In addition to their moving speed, the fact is, the men wielding these weapons have no clue how to actually aim and fire efficiently. They have yet to even use the guns they manufactured. That’s like handing a pistol to an adolescent who’s only seen one in an action movie and asking him to shoot a bird out of the sky. He’s got a better chance of holding it sideways and having the clip fall out after the first shot than actually hitting the target.
With ax in tow, Olin reaches the main walkway that holds the five assembly line factories which spread all across the inside of this furnace. The main force of workers are on this particular walkway and begin firing as Olin makes his way toward them.
Now having a target moving in a straight line and getting closer to them with each second, the men have a proper grasp on how to take him out. A few of them shoot at him and are shocked to find that the bullets are brushed off by the ax of Olin as if they were flies.
"W-What!? How!?” One of the men shouts in surprise.
While running, and continuing to knock away even more bullets, Olin answers with a smile, “This isn’t that special guys. Just cause you’re shooting shit at me at such a speed doesn’t mean I can’t knock them away.”
He takes a big jump and does a couple flips before landing right in the middle of the ten or so men. “I can tell where the attack is coming from by simply looking where you’re aiming.”
The ten men all point their weapons at him and fire simultaneously.
Olin takes a big sweep with his ax and sends some of the bullets ricocheting in multiple directions and having them strike some of the men in the chest.
After dropping three of the men, he uses his ax to take out a couple more.
Still, having men with guns pointed at him puts him at a severe disadvantage, but he shows no worries as he gestures the men to look behind them.
Naturally, they don’t look and prepare to fire.
However, they are all cut down by the spear of Jessiah.
Jessiah had used this moment of confusion to leap across a couple of the walkways and jump behind them unnoticed.
And with that, half of the gun carrying men are taken out by two people with an ax and a spear.
Seeing that their guns are of no use against these freaks of nature, the other ten workers begin to run away, firing pop-shots in order to gain some distance. In a flash, three heads go rolling on the ground as Celestia’s shield swings horizontally into the fleeing group of men.
It would seem that Celestia has no intentions of letting them go so she chases after them and their scared screams grow more frantic.
“Just let em’ go. They aren’t gonna do us any harm outside in the snow.” Jessiah said, scratching his bald head in an exasperated fashion.
Though Celestia would normally never listen to him, she decides that he’s right. Useless killing is not what she gets paid to do; once they are done attacking, they might as well be normal citizens. Although she worries about them making more guns once they escape, she quickly realizes that they most likely wouldn’t be able to replicate them without the technology of this top notch plant.
She turns around to walk to where Olin and Jessiah are when she suddenly hears the horrified screams of the men she had just showed mercy to. She twists around to look and sees that the fleeing men have been cut off by a certain captain with flaming red hair who’s surrounded by an abundance of black liquid.
“Hey hey, leaving me behind huh?” Captain Red says, a distinct evil shines in his eyes. “You know I read this book once, some old story about some old fort in the middle of dick-fuck nowhere in some old war. They were being attacked and it became obvious that they’d lose... Do you know what happened?”
The men don’t answer; they just quiver in fear as Red’s darkness inches its way towards them.
“They fought. All the way down to the last man. That’s courageous aint it? I mean, imagine being that guy. All alone, surrounded, totally fucked and knowing it. Don’t you wanna be like that guy? Don’t you wanna die like a bad-ass? Haah!?”
Red holds his arms out and shakes his head when no answer again comes. “Dying can be cool if you do it the right way. You guys on the other hand, are gonna go out like shit flushed down a toilet. What a bummer, shame, tragedy!”
Red slams his foot onto the metal walkway and a loud noise ensues. The middle of the fifteen foot wide walkway split and sharp edges violently stretch up like jagged teeth towards the ceiling. The remaining men are caught in that wretched deformation of twisted metal and are skewered from between their legs. This of course doesn’t result in an instant death, a few of the men scream in agony whilst others squirm and make gurgled screeches through the back of their throats.
The jagged metal twisting upwards along the middle of the pathway doesn’t stop once it impales the men; it picks up speed and zooms its way toward the three Knights.
Not wanting to end up like the unfortunate people in front of them, they once again jump off the walkway in separate directions.
Jessiah barely latches onto the bottom of one of the walkways about ten feet above him and pulls himself up.
Celestia uses her shield and swings herself up a couple of stories onto a different walkway.
But Olin stays on the same platform; he hops up on the thin railing and runs across it as though he was on regular ground. He is just one inch in either direction from falling to his death in either the magma or the twisted metal but seems unafraid as his thin smile grows wider.
“Get out of there you dumbass!!!” Celestia shouts with all her might.
But it seems that her words fall on deaf ears as Olin hops off the railing and swings his ax for a downward strike atop Red’s skull.
Red holds out his hand and grabs the sharp end of Olin’s ax; using that as an anchor, he pulls Olin in and viciously knees him in the gut. Olin spits blood out of his mouth and misses out on a couple breaths when his lung’s functionality grinds to a sudden stop.
Red releases his grip on the ax and clasps his hands together; using them as a clever he hammers down on the top of Olin’s head, sending his face screaming into the metal ground.
“Hahahaha what a thud! Hey hey, I wonder if I can pound you through this bridge and into the magma with one kick?”
Red lifts his leg and prepares to stomp on the top of Olin’s head.
Considering how devastating his last kick was, which deformed the metal of the bridge into skewers, there is no doubt that Olin’s head will become mush if he takes this hit.
Celestia clicks her tongue and sends her shield flying down at a tremendous speed in the direction of Red’s leg. The mad Captain catches a glimpse of the shining gold projectile heading his leg’s way and moves it as quick as he can. Not being able to move it fast enough, the sharp edge of the shield slides across his shin and sends his blood flying.
Under her control, the shield retracts back towards Red’s neck but he uses his hand and knocks it away. She regains control of her shield and begins running off in the opposite direction.
“Ohoo big daddy Red loves playing tag!” he shouted cynically as he uses his hand and points it at her moving frame.
He intends to send the strange black liquid chasing after her in order to blow her to bits like he did the stone staircase earlier. That’s when he feels a dull pain in his shoulder and finds that a six foot long spear is protruding from his muscle.
Jessiah had thrown it from his position atop the overhanging walkway above.
Before Red can pull it out, the pressure grows deeper as Jessiah runs from a couple dozen feet away and follows his javelin throw by kicking the wooden butt end of the spear, sending the blade pushing through the other side of Red’s body.
Red stumbles forward and prepares to face Jessiah when another dull pain is felt, this time in his stomach. Looking down he finds the sharp back end of Olin’s ax stabbing through the area just above his naval.
“Kahh!?” he hisses, spitting out blood in the process.
Olin is under him, smiling once again even though his whole face is covered in blood. “Let’s face it, even with these powers of yours you have no chance against all of us.”
“Hahahaha you think so!?”
Jessiah rushes at Red’s back for another attack.
As if predicting this, Red turns his body at a sharp angle and twists the ax out of his stomach. The wooden shaft of Jessiah’s spear swings along with his body and strikes Olin directly in his face, knocking him back a couple feet.
Jessiah, still in his full sprint is met with the big fist of Red slamming into his chest. The black liquid surrounds his arm and as though it was some kind of spring, it coils and recoils along with his punch, sending Jessiah flying back the entire length of the walkway until he slams into one of the large factories holding the assembly line.
The sound of his body crashing into the factory echoes throughout the furnace room.
Red pulls Jessiah’s spear from his shoulder and begins swinging it at Olin, and doing it quite skillfully.
Olin is narrowly avoiding being hit as he dodges, and blocks the spear with his ax. Now pinned between Red and the jagged metal holding the skewered men, Olin is stuck between a rock and a hard place. His only option now is to go on the offensive; he catches a firm piece of footing and lunges forward.
The two take swings at each other and sparks fly when the metal of their weapons meet.
“You’re quite good for a guy who doesn’t see combat.” Olin says as he drops his level and swipes at Red’s ankles.
Red jumps just high enough to avoid having his feet cut off and swings Jessiah’s spear down. “I’ve killed enough people to know how to kill people. You know?” Red replied in his unusual vexing manner.
The two weapons clash, pushing at each other, their arms uncontrollably shake as sparks fly between their faces.
“Well you’ve never killed anyone like us.”
“I think a certain amount of numbers adds up to the quality of death that you Knights carry. It’s like a game where you collect coins for each monster you kill. Sure you get more coins for taking out the boss, but you can get just as many by taking out a bunch of the small fries.”
“Che... You sure have a fucked up way of thinking pal.”
“I don’t think so. I happen to be the most rational person who’s ever lived. It’s as simple as realizing that everyone dies one way or another. It doesn’t matter if they die in a fire, in a flood, disease, murder, war, famine, hell even a damn lightning strike. Death's just death no matter how you dress it up.”
By now Red’s strength begins to overwhelm Olin and the tip of Jessiah’s spear gets closer to his face.
“With that logic, I find that I’m best suited to be the person doing the dressing, rather than being the one who’s getting dressed. Makes since right? Of course it does. Kind of like a kid who plays with dolls, would you rather be the one who owns the doll or be the doll itself?”
Olin can’t help but smile, even though he knows his position in this fight is leaning more towards the losing end, Red’s words still make the tip of his lips rise. “Like I thought, you’re out of your damn mind.”
Even though Olin is an oddball himself, he isn’t clinically insane like Red is, he can still function. Adding to that, the man in front of him has sold his soul to the Devil for no other reason than the fact that he wants to kill, he’s even working on destroying his home country in order to do so.
Red simply smiles at him as if saying ‘I know’ and uses the rest of his strength to bring down the sharp edge of the spear upon Olin’s head.
Completely overwhelmed, Olin’s leg’s buckle and his struggle for survival gets that much more severe.
Sensing that he can’t hold out much longer he shouts,
“ALLIA, TAKE THE DAMN SHOT!!!”
A gunshot rings from the assembly line factory on the other side of the mountain of skewered bodies.
Red’s attention is instantly moved towards the sound of the blast; and perhaps due to the influence of power in his hand, everything turns to slow motion.
Looking carefully, he notices that there is a gap, a stupidly small gap in the formation of the jagged metal connecting a spot of air between him and a certain girl pointing a rifle at him.
This little gap is no bigger than two inches and he can see the bullet spiraling perfectly towards the area directly between his eyes. Unless he moves quickly, his brains will be scattered out the back of his head.
With eyes following the bullet intently, with all his might he pulls his head to the left but the effect of slow motion is moving it at a dragging speed.
His eyes still follow the bullet, his mind still knowing full well what will happen if it connects. He watches it slide past his lips and rip skin as it slides across the right side of his face.
In a flash, time speeds back up to its regular pace and the bullet zooms by faster than the speed of sound.
Blood falls down Red’s face as he backs up and drops Jessiah’s spear to the ground.
He removes his hand from the wound and finds that almost half his face has been blown off; the bullet had enough force to peel the skin and take a chunk out of his ear.
Olin jumps to his feet and postures up in a battle position, much to his surprise, a deep blood curdling laugh begins to brew in Red’s bloodied mouth.
“Huahahahaha! That bitch! That was an amazing shot!”
Red abandons Olin and jumps over his head, and the rest of the impaled men onto the side of the walkway where Allia is.
He walks toward her and says, “I was wondering where you disappeared off to. You were waiting for me to be distracted so you can take me out. I gotta say, I’m amazed that you can shoot one of those things. I find using them to be a colossal pain in the ass.”
Allia points the gun at him and replies, “I’m an expert marksman. I’m the best in the world with anything that involves aiming and firing.”
Her bloodied left hand is still hanging down but she holds the rifle in her right hand without any wavering, its steadiness never sways as the barrel continues to point at Red’s forehead.
The pressure on the trigger tightens and,
A dull shot rings out and the bullet screams forward.
Instead of using the inhuman heroics of the last time he was shot at, he simply smiles and keeps moving one foot in front of the other. The bullet that was on a collision course with his skull is met first by a mass of his black liquid. The bullet is engulfed and dropped harmlessly to the metal ground.
“It ain’t gonna work twice.” Red said, pointing at the horrific wound on the side of his face.
Allia huffs an arrogant air out of her nose and responds, “I thought as much.”
She quickly re-aims the rifle and fires yet another shot; but this time however, the bullet zooms three feet off target to Red’s right.
This was either a terrible shot or some kind of weak diversion. With these thoughts running through Red’s mind, he feels a burning sensation on his back.
He had been shot.
Even Red would reveal a shocked face at this as his body jolts forward from the impact. He turns his head and catches glimpse of Celestia’s shield spinning off in the distance.
“Let me guess, you thought that I missed you for a split second there right?” Allia asks, smiling confidently and pointing her weapon three or more feet to the left of him now.
Celestia’s shield takes a sharp turn as if it was a boomerang and comes flying at the Captain; he clicks his tongue and ducks, and the shield zooms over the top of his head.
“I told you right?” Allia continues, grabbing his attention once more. “I’m the best at what I do.”
She shoots again, and just like last time, the bullet flies past Red; and if one listened carefully, they’d hear a ‘tink’ noise followed by a whooshing sound. Immediately after that, a thud is heard as blood comes spraying out of Red’s side; he had been shot from behind once more.
Allia has actually been intentionally missing Captain Red and hitting the Celestia's fast moving shiel in motion, causing the bullet to ricochet off and hit Red in his blind spot. Judging the velocity, angle, and the direction in which the bullet needs to hit the shield in order bounce off and land on her intended target is borderline impossible. This truly shows her skills as a marksman that allowed her reach the position as one of the Ten Knights of La’Juune; she really is the best in the world.
Red falls on one knee as the warmth of the blood from the wound in his side rolls down his leg.
“Amazing.” he said in a low pitched tone.
“Do you see now? Against four of us there’s no way you’ll win.” Allia said, her rifle moving along with the flow Celestia’s shield.
“Hehehehehahahahahaha! Don’t be so full of yourself now, this is just gettin' started!”
Red stands back up and spreads his arms out, all while laughing in a distinct manner different from anyone else.
“I heard somewhere that people like you are able to make an absolute dime of a shot under the worst kind of pressure... Well how about we put that to the test!? I’ll leave myself wide open for you, but just know that if you miss you’re fucked!”
“Tch.” Allia clicks her tongue in annoyance at his ridiculous attitude.
For a man who’s missing a chunk of his face and has multiple other wounds to be acting this way is beyond the point of insanity. She almost pities the state of his mental health.
She readies to take the shot when out of nowhere a severe quake forms in the lava below and the metal walkway begins to shake uncontrollably. A few more seconds of this and her balance will surely be twisted and she’ll end up on the ground. She needs to take the shot before that happens. Trying to refocus as quickly as possible, she again reaches proper aim; and that’s when she finds that Red is standing in the middle of what seems to be a tornado of magma.
“Haha, what’s wrong? I thought you said you were the best?”
Allia frowns; she can’t shoot him through that swirling inferno of lava because her bullet would melt and veer off course in a random direction. There is literally no way she can inflict any damage on him; even though she senses that he’s only doing this to make fun of her abilities as a marksman, there is also no way anybody else could lay a hand on him.
“Don’t worry I’m gonna give you a free shot. I’m actually quite honest you know?”
“Oh come on don’t give me that look... Here.”
Red spreads his arms and the tornado of lava opens up and leaves him wide in the open. As if coaxing Allia into shooting him, he sticks out his chin and smiles.
Allia isn’t one to let opportunities like this slide by; she’ll make him pay for his taunting. She puts some extra pressure on her trigger finger and is about to pull when Red slaps his two hands together and an intense wave of heat is felt on her face.
As if it was some kind of wall, the tornado of lava flattens itself and shoots forward at her like it was shot out of a cannon. The mere heat from it alone melts the metal of the walkway as its speed increases with each foot.
“The only way this is gonna stop is if you can shoot me! So what are you waiting for!? Take the fucking shot woman!!!”
This is the intense pressure that Red was talking about; he is testing her to see if she can accurately hit her target under such critical circumstances. If this wall gets much closer to her, the charring heat alone will torch her skin and she will melt once she makes contact with the magma.
She is left with a simple decision; shoot or die.
Allia narrows her focus the best she can until she reaches the intense sensation of tunnel vision. From there she can see a small gap in the lava, not much bigger than the last little area she shot between before. She knows that if she shoots through this, the destination of the bullet will be Red’s heart.
Without any more preparations needed, she pulls the trigger and sends the bullet flying. The sound of the gunshot is overrun by the screeching of Red’s attack so for a moment she wasn’t even sure is she had fired or not. Allia only becomes certain that she did because of the small recoil felt against her shoulder; now the only thing left is to wait to see Red’s lifeless body fall limply to the floor.
After an instant, the sickening feeling of a miss jolts her shoulders worse than the recoil of the shot. The bullet had missed that gap and Red’s attack proceeds toward her unhindered.
Her eyes reveal the shock that her body is feeling after missing a target for the first time in many years; and the convulsive manner in which her knees shake reveals the pain in her heart that knows this can only mean one thing.
She is going to die.
All it took is one shot; one missed opportunity will spell the end for her.
The wall of death screams forward and the only thing left to do is shut her eyes and await the inevitability that’s rapidly approaching her. But instead of doing that, she stares blankly in a state of incoherence; the thought of her missing still brewing freshly in her mind.
With limp fingers, she drops her rifle to the ground and remains motionless.
The moment in which she collides with the wall of orange and red reaches her position, engulfs her, and mercilessly flies by, destroying the walkway and makes its way to a collision course with the three story high assembly factory.
But something is off about this; Red feels an odd tinge of disappointment as the high he gets from taking another’s life doesn’t reach him. And the reason for that can be seen out of the corner of his eye.
Two girls fly over the magma and slingshot out of his vision and land atop a higher walkway.
“Haah!?” he groans with the most dumbfounded of expressions.
“Are you alright?” Celestia asks, twisting her hand wearing the chain-mail glove and causing the shield to swing back into her grip.
She had used the shield as a hook shot to shoot herself to Allia’s position, grab her mid-flight, and propelled herself with momentum all the way to the safety of a separate level of the plant. All this while avoiding the oncoming wall of magma shot forward by Red.
Allia is still in a shocked state, her mouth chatters as she is about to answer when,
The wall of lava from Red’s attack hits the factory holding the assembly line and tears it apart. Either due to the speed in which the wall was moving, or the destructive power of the lava alone caused the over-sized structure of the metal to melt and fly off in different directions.
The innards of the intricate assembly line can now be seen and out of the many crates and other holders, all the rifles and bullets slide down the mountain of rubble and fall into the lake of magma. Each weapon or bullet falling into it makes a distinct popping sound upon entering.
“That noise...” Celestia mutters, deep in thought as she glares at the weapons being destroyed. “Why is it making that noise?”
“Guuah you’ve seriously been busting my balls!” Red shouts, glaring at the two girls above. “How many damn times are you gonna come in for the late rescue with that stupid shield of yours!? It’s such a pain in the ass! Piece of shit! Fucking annoying!!!”
Celestia pays him no mind and keeps her glare at the destroyed factory, that’s when she notices a rather large mountain of black powder that has been spilled from a silo and is slowly making its way down the rubble like an hourglass.
“That’s it!” she yells suddenly, “Nyahaha I’m such a genius!”
She quickly lifts Allia to her feet and smiles at her, with her hand still holding on, she pulls Allia and begins running away from Red.
“Hey hey! What the shit!?” Red shouts in annoyance at the fact that they’re fleeing.
Red begins to give chase when he is met by two vicious kicks in his torso.
While being sent flying he finds that the two footprints left on him are that of two smiling Knights named Ollin and Jessiah. He clicks his tongue and tries to regain his footing but is met with quite the quandary.
There is no ground below him; he had fallen off the walkway in which he destroyed.
The twenty foot decent towards his death begins and for the first time he reveals an expression of worry. He hurriedly points the hand holding the pentagram upwards and shoots out the destructive black liquid towards the adjacent walkway.
“Don’t tell me he’s gonna do what Celestia did!?” Jessiah shouts, thinking that he’s somehow going to get out of this by sling shooting himself to saftey.
To his and Olin’s surprise, he didn’t do anything of the sort.
The black liquid latches on to the girth of the metal pathway and Red pulls back his arm with all his might. The walkway is literally yanked off its connection to the surrounding walls and a large chunk about thirty feet long zooms in his direction. With a twist of Red’s body, the entirety of the metal walkway takes a sharp turn and narrowly avoids a collision with the falling Captain. The tail end of it lands in the lava at a 45 degree angle and Red miraculously lands on the top of it.
“WHAT!?” The two Knights shout in disbelief.
The pure momentum of such a large structure moving at such an angle swings like a closing door in the direction of the ruined factory. Even with the lava quickly melting the tail end of the walkway, Red is given just the right amount of distance for him to make a ten foot jump and land safely on the other side.
“Are you shitting me!?” Olin yells.
From what they thought he was going to do, to him doing what he actually did, was so far away from their comprehension level that it added a heavy weight to their chins as their jaws drop in shock.
Captain Red Spektor, the man who had been shot three times, sliced and impaled by an ax and a spear, was able to pull off an impossible feat.
This fearsome man stands up astutely and puts his hands on his sides. “Huahahaha, what are you guys looking at? Did you think I had the finesse to do what that girl does with her shield? Na, I don’t roll that way. I’m a wheel and deal, ground and pound kinda guy, a cool guy. I’m awesome, strong, brilliant!”
“This guy... Is seriously ridiculous.” Jessiah said, an odd tinge of seriousness in his tone.
Perhaps now they actually see the monster that their two comrades were warning them about.
“Huh?” Red mutters as he looks around, he scratches his head in a confused manner and asks, “How the fuck do I get off this thing?”
Red has found himself stuck on somewhat of an island; the walkway leading up to the facility had been destroyed, and the one nearest to him has just been sacrificed as well. He’d normally walk through the facility holding the assembly line but that has turned into a three story pile of sharp and jagged rubble. If he really had to he could probably scale that rubble and get through it unscathed but that’d take some time. And time is something he currently doesn’t have with Celestia and her shield lurking in the shadows to pick him off while he's defenseless.
He sighs and shrugs his shoulders. “Well it looks like I only got one way of doing this.”
He holds his hands up and with that gesture, the entire plant begins to shake wildly.
“Don’t you dare do what I think you’re doing.” a deep voice echoes. The snake comes out from the back of Red’s hand and slides down his arm, its eyes glowing an even more sinister red than usual.
“You fool! Do you want to destroy the entire plant!?” it shouts.
“Do I want to?” Red replies, “No I don’t; but I want to kill these damn Knights! If the plant goes down with them, I couldn’t give two shits.”
“Have you gone mad!? I’ve given you the knowledge needed to produce a weapon that has the ability to rule the world! You’re going to just throw that away!?”
The earth shaking rumbling grows as the black liquid surrounding Red floats above him and shoots itself into the lava.
“That knowledge ain't going anywhere! It’s in my noggin; I’ll just have to rebuild the plant later.”
“Nonsense! There is no gain from doing this! This is madness!”
“Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! You’re right! Didn’t you know that already when you formed the contract with me?? No fucking shit I’m crazy, you dumb fuck!”
“Hey! You bastard Knights! I’m sure you all know that we’re inside of a dormant volcano right? Well, what do you say I activate it just to see what happens?”
“Huahaha that’s right! I’m no volcanologist but I do know that on certain occasions an earthquake near the base of a dormant volcano can stir it into blowing up.”
This is actually correct; dormant volcanoes always have some form of magma flowing at the deepest pits of its base. With the right amount of pressure, these turn into geysers that push its way upwards towards the surface. In reality, all it needs is a little push from below to send it over the top. Nature’s way of fulfilling this process is certainly much slower, and could take up to thousands of years.
But in Red’s case, he doesn’t have the entire volcano to deal with because the magma is just twenty feet below him.
That being said, it has become obvious what he intends to do; he will violently shake the deepest parts of the volcano with all his might and cause an eruption.
“Jessiah...” Olin says.
The two turn around and dash towards the exit. The flight of stairs leading up to the door has been taken out but the two jump up between the gaps and desperately escape. The two get up atop of yet another walkway only to find that they have another two stories to go, and that’s when they run into their two comrades standing there.
“We gotta get going!” Olin exclaims.
Celestia blocks their path and replies, “We can’t!”
“Why!? He’s going to blow this place up!”
“Exactly! This is the biggest weapons plant in the world, if we abandon it our soldiers on the front-lines will be starved for weaponry.”
“Then what do you suppose we do?”
Celestia looks over to Allia, who is still zoned out and staring at the floor. She walks to Allia's side and without a second’s hesitation, rips off the remainder of the white shirt she's wearing.
The two guys can’t help but look in amazement at her sudden boldness, even in a situation like this seeing a cute girl strip like that is still stimulating.
Celestia then pulls the canteen she used earlier for warmth and for Allia’s wound and pours the remainder of the alcohol onto her shirt.
Holding it out to Allia, she says, “That black powder behind Captain Red Spektor... That is what is used to shoot the projectiles out of those strange weapons. It is extremely combustible, perhaps even on a level par with Seiri’s bombs.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I’m sure of it. Looking closely it’s actually quite simple really, it makes perfect sense. Though I don’t know what that powder really is, I’m sure once more people find out about it everyone will be wondering why they haven’t thought of it first.”
What she is referring to is gunpowder. Even in this day and age a thousand years after the Apocalypse, the human race has yet to discover gunpowder. Thus the reason why guns have yet to be made. That is, until now.
The rumbling in the plant gets much more severe and all the walkways begin to shake like a windblown bridge throwing their balance out of whack. To add to the urgency of the matter, the lava below them begins to bubble and pop sending pockets of scorching hot air pressing against their skin.
“Allia! If we want to stop that monster from doing this we need to take him out now! Once we light this shirt on fire you need to connect it to the tip of your arrow and shoot into that pile of black powder. We can beat him with this!”
“B-But...” Allia mutters.
“But!?” The other three shout simultaneously.
Celestia grabs her shoulder and looks her square in the eye. “What are you talking about?”
“I-I can’t take the shot...” she replied, her eyes shifted away.
“I’ll miss... Between my hurt arm and my broken confidence, I’ll most certainly miss.”
Celestia clicks her tongue and frowns. Even through the rumbling of the plant, the next sound is heard as plain as day.
With her open palm, Celestia slapped Allia’s cheek as hard as she could.
“Get your damn act together!!! We can’t all be perfect Allia, we can only be who we are!”
“Your country needs you right now... But more importantly, your comrades need you! So you ‘are’ going to take the shot!”
This goes back to the conversation they had earlier when Celestia was hanging off the broken staircase. By letting her insecurities get the best of her, she has forsaken the words that she herself said. And by doing that, she will have sacrificed the lives of her precious comrades. Is she really willing to let something like that happen over a simple miss?
“You’re right...” Allia says as she stands astute, a new wind of determination brewing in her chest.
She then pulls out an arrow and connects it to her bow.
Celestia sighs, “Huuahh good... I was getting a little nervous ya know?”
Tying the last remainder of her shirt onto the tip of Allia’s arrow and pouring the alcohol on the cloth, she smiles confidently.
“Nervous!?” Olin shouts, “I was shittin’ bricks!”
“Seriously, that’s why I told you that girls are useless.” Jessiah added.
“Shut up you two. Don’t ruin our moment.” Celestia hisses as she lights a match and sets fire to Allia’s arrow.
By now the room is shaking so violently that the foundation of the walkway in which they stand begins to crumble and break apart.
It is now or never.
Lava bubbles explodes all around Red’s position at the downed assembly line factory. But when the molten hot rock hit anywhere near him, they are repelled by a stream of black liquid swirling around his feet. This is obviously how he plans to survive the eruption he’s attempting to cause; though everyone else will be melted, he will end up just fine.
Looking up at the Knights he sees that Allia is again pointing her arrow at him.
She hasn’t used it at all since the hallway because of its ineffectiveness so he begins to laugh at her fruitless effort. “Hahahaha come on not that shit again!! You’ve already shown me that you can’t shoot under pressure! Don’t you feel it?? That amazing feeling of death breathing down your neck!? You’ve failed once when it was just your life on the line, now you have you’re comrade’s lives teetering on whether you hit me or not. You have no chance!!”
Allia takes her aim at the mountain of black powder that’s covered in rubble and pulls back the string of the bow as hard as possible. The left arm that’s supposed to be the anchor to an archer's shot is tattered and bloody. And when the pressure squeezing onto it by the mere action of the shot hits it, pain is sent like lighting through her whole body.
But this won’t sway her; she narrows her focus and goes through all the mental preparations to take the shot.
This is what she has trained her whole life for, the one shot that can change the world.
With one final inhale, she releases the string and the arrow is sent flying in Red’s direction.
Red smiles and prepares to use his mass of black water to block when all the sudden it disappears completely, leaving him wide open.
The snake's voice echoes in his head and all the events just like earlier begin to move in slow motion.
“I didn’t think I’d have to do this.”
Allia’s arrow makes its way towards his position and he’s watching it get closer and closer as if it were walking towards him.
“What the fuck is going on!?”
“It’s a termination of contract.” The snake answers. “By you betraying my side of the deal so blatantly, I’ve decided that you have not held up your end of the bargain.”
“Fuck that! That’s shit, garbage, nonsense!”
“Is it my fair Captain? I do believe I stated that if I gave you the abilities you possessed in order for you to kill, you’d carry out my will by creating guns and distributing them across the world. Your attempt at destroying the one plant that can produce those weapons is an obvious breach of that commitment. For that, there is a special place reserved for you in Hell. A place that’s best suited for the punishment of people consumed by ‘Wrath’.”
“Hey hey... Do you really think you can do this without me!?”
“You’ve left me with no choice.”
“Hahahahahaha you conniving bastard! Fine then, I’ll see you in Hell so I can fuck your shit up personally!”
“I’ll be waiting...”
The snake disappears along with the pentagram and time moves back to normal; the arrow that was so slowly moving towards him is now seen at moving at its regular fast speed. Even with it doing so, he notices that something is off; the arrow isn’t actually going to hit him. It instead flies over his head and lands in the destroyed factory behind him.
“Hahahaha what kind of a shot was that!?” he yells in an attempt to mock them.
That’s when he sees the four of them hit the deck for some reason as if guarding themselves from something.
He quizzically turns around to find out where that arrow actually hit. The flame hit a wooden post directly above a pile of black powder. Watching the flame of the arrow burn into that post and inch its way closer to the powder he quickly realizes what she meant to do all along.
Knowing what it takes to make these guns, he fully understands his carelessness in this whole thing; and by not considering his surroundings, he’s left himself completely defenseless.
“Ahhh…” he groans solemnly as the wooden post splits and the fire is only a moment away from igniting it.
“They got me.”
The mountain of gunpowder ignites and explodes sending a shockwave even more powerful than the earthquake shaking the innards of the facility. With Red only being a few feet away from the source of this blast, he is disintegrated. The suspended walkways shake even worse than before and break apart before falling into the already churning lava.
“We better get going!”
The four of them make their way to the door, and once there, the rumbling finally stops. It would seem that Red’s attempt at causing the volcano to erupt ended in failure and an eerie silence befalls them.
They collectively take a sigh of relief and bask in the feeling of no longer being in danger.
However, that feeling is short lived when the entirety of the facility once again shakes and the walls begin to crumble and fall. Looking down, they can see that the magma that they had thought to be dormant is rising at an exceptional pace. In fact, it’s moving upwards in a pace that can be described as the movement of the water in a cup after a large ice cube has been dropped in it.
“What the!? I thought the eruption stopped!” shouts Jessiah as a cold sweat falls from his bald head.
“He must have done enough damage beforehand! That or the explosion Allia caused made it even worse! We need to get out of here!” Celestia yells, running through the door and back into the bulk of the weapons plant.
"H-Hey don't blame that on me! You're the one who told me to do it!!!"
Seeing how quickly things are about to get messy, the others follow as well.
Once in the hallways of the plant, they try to shake off the feeling switching from an extremely hot atmosphere to one below freezing. Keeping composure in such a drastic change is not the only thing they have to worry about; at the end of the hallway are the rest of the soldiers stationed here at the plant.
With weapons in tow, they have come to help their Captain after hearing all of those explosion from below their feet.
The Knights grind to a stop and find themselves in a stare down with the remaining forces. The intensity of this moment cannot be put in words as the path to life for the Knights is being blocked by the determined faces of these soldiers.
“I need you all to listen to me.” Celestia addresses the soldiers sternly. “Your Captain is dead, and the volcano below the plant is erupting...”
The men all look at her with skepticism as she continues.
“At any moment, a huge amount of lava is going to be flowing through these hallways. And once that happens, I don’t know if we’ll make it out of here alive no matter how fast we sprint. So as fellow La’Juutians... We need you to let us pass so we can all escape together.”
The men still hesitate at first, but they slowly spread out as to give the Knights a passage way through. Of course they didn’t want give up so easily, but at the same time they know just how fierce the Knights are to be able to kill off Captain Red and all the others like that. A group of around 50 men fearing four people shows just how much they respect them.
The Knights walk through them cautiously and are sent to a flying sprint when from behind them a loud bang is heard.
Lava comes flowing towards them like a river going down stream and whatever doubts the remaining soldiers had are replaced with fear.
Together, just like Celestia said, they all run for their lives.
Of course, some of them simply don’t run fast enough to get away, others trip and fall in panic and are trampled by their fellow countrymen. The ones unlucky enough to not remain upright are engulfed by the fast moving current of lava and are melted into nothing.
Having its foundation destroyed from below is causing the entirety of the weapons plant to lose its structural base. Bits and pieces of the roof and walls begin to crumble and fall apart, adding more obstacles to impede the paths of those who are fleeing.
Easily avoiding everything blocking their path are the four Knights; they move along at speeds that far surpasses the rest, and they go about their business as quietly and focused as can be whilst the others scream in panic.
After winding their way for what feels like miles through the innards of the world’s largest plant, they reach the massive double door of the main entrance. They find relief in the fact that they’ve made it here alive but there are still plenty of problems they need to overcome.
The two doors are sealed shut by a mechanism built solely to keep the bitter cold air out of the building. The doors likely weigh over three tons each so prying them open is out of the question. The only thing they can hope for is that the button used to open this door automatically hasn’t had its wiring compromised due to the damage caused by the terrible state of the entire structure of the plant.
There’s a high possibility that the innards have been burnt by the intense heat flowing through the vents by the volcano, or that it has simply fallen apart due to the earthquake. None the less, with an immanent flow of scorching hot death coming toward them, they have to hope for the best.
The Knights, along with the last remaining group of about twenty soldiers all stare in angst as Olin walks straight faced toward the door and holds out his hand to push the button. Even though his expression exudes calmness, he’s sweating profusely as his nerves shake uncontrollably under his skin.
He understands that if this button doesn’t work, they’re all dead; there would be no way to escape the fast approaching river of lava.
With a deep inhale, he presses on the big red button and waits for some kind of reaction to the door. And to their relief, a light ‘Beep’ sound is heard and a rush of cold air from the outside world hits their faces.
They unhesitatingly rush out into the white land of the south; with perfect timing too because right when the last man left the plant, the lava came rushing out and the entire structure of the plant comes crumbling down in a towering inferno.
Pillars of flame fly up as if they were an octopus tentacles and swirl off in multiple directions. The sounds of explosion pop off from within the inferno like popcorn and the true sight of destruction singes their eyes along with the unbearable heat.
The valued weapon’s plant that Celestia and the other Knights wanted to protect has been destroyed and this will no doubt put them in a bad spot concerning the war.
Celestia sighs and takes a seat on the cold snow, her body steaming from the heat left on her by the plant. “Damn it all... I don’t even know if we could say that we accomplished our mission now.”
Allia walks up to her, still out of breath she responds, “We definitely did what we came here to do... At least now we don’t have to worry about those weapons reaching anyone else. It might’ve been a good thing that all of those were destroyed.”
Little does she know that what she had said is spot on. The world has literally dodged a bullet in the fact that it doesn’t have to worry about the mass production of these weapons... At least for now.
Jessiah swirls his spear around and says. “I’m not too into thinking deep on things---“
“We know.” The other three interrupt.
He clears his throat in annoyance and continues, “Soooooo, I say we go home and think about all the other stuff later.”
“Hahaha.” Olin laughs, “That’s actually a good idea.”
They all stand to their feet and smile at each other, they have just made it through another deadly mission and the last thing they want to do is dwell on it any longer.
Not caring about what the others plan on doing, the four Knights walk of in an almost triumphant manner.
But the sparkling air around them is broken by the ground under their feet shaking violently once more.
“What the hell is up with this shaking! It’s ten times worse than before!” Olin shouts as he tries to regain his balance.
Jessiah helps him up and says, “Remember when I said that I’m not too good at thinking??”
Glaring at him quizzically, Olin quickly comes to realize what he meant by that.
Jessiah starts booking it and shouts, “That’s right! Fuck thinking! Let’s run awayyyyyyy~~!!”
Everyone runs as fast as they can through the shin deep snow; naturally, their movement is slowed by this and they don’t gain much distance from the plant when...
The volcano under the power plant ends its surge and officially erupts; sending bright orange lava flying into the sky thousands of feet upwards. The shockwave itself knocks some men to the ground and the ensuing rainfall of lava lands atop them and they are melted in a flash.
It’s as though they are being chased by a meteor shower, hundreds of falling balls of molten rock lands all around them, melting the snow as they tread through. One of these lands directly in the path of a fleeing soldier and the mere heat from it engulfs him in flame. Others share the same fate as the sound of hundreds of explosions hit the ground and melt the Earth’s surface. The debris alone from one of these is enough to rip through one’s body as if it was a hot knife through butter. A few other men are hit and their lives end so quickly that they’re dead on their feet as they run until they finally collapse.
Narrowly avoiding the torrent of hellfire are the Knights; they hurl over miniature lakes of lava that landed in front of them out in the distance and dodge whatever they can see from the corners of their eyes. Only a single track mindset is being used by them, and that is putting one foot in front of the other as fast as possible, everything else is just reactionary. The sheer intensity of the moment is enough to keep them from panicking; with the hailstorm of lava they simply don’t have time to be afraid, they must continue moving in order to stay alive.
By now there are only five soldiers left from the plant along with the Knights when they reach a large frozen lake. Not worrying about whether the ice is thick enough to hold their weight, they begin to run and slide across it as the ash and flame filled sky continues its relentless pursuit of them.
A huge falling comet of lava lands about twenty meters to the right of them and instantly melts a huge chunk of the frozen lake as a smoke screen of hot steam envelopes them. Numerous others land as well and that’s when they realize that the ground in which they are running on spiderwebs as if it were glass breaking.
This poses an entirely new threat in and of itself; not only do they have to worry about being melted from projectiles above, now they have to worry about falling in a below freezing lake. One little dip in there in this weather is enough to freeze someone to death within minutes; being out in the open of this Antarctic desert will make any chance of surviving an impossibility.
With that in mind, a couple of the other men tread carefully and look down, desperately trying to avoid falling in. And that will be their downfall because they aren’t paying attention to what’s above them. A ball of lava crashes on their left and sends shards of thick razor sharp ice zooming in their direction. Not being able to avoid such a thing in this short of a time-frame, their limbs are sent flying and the red of their blood adds to the hot colors of the already crimson sky.
Another soldier is running separately from the rest, and he is actually feeling quite secure in the fact that the melee coming from above seems to be ineffective in his area of the lake. But of course that is simply a false sense of security, he is in just as much danger as everyone else, he just doesn’t know it yet. The source of his danger lands around a hundred feet in front of him; this time however, it wasn’t a ball of lava, rather, it was just a stupidly large rock that likely weighs hundreds of tons.
The impact of the rock causes a huge crack in the ice in front of him, and then the sensation of being catapulted hits his senses. The boulder made the thick ice under the man’s feet break apart in a solid block and flipped it over like a pancake. As a result, the force of which sends the man hurling into the air hundreds of feet high.
There is no escaping his fate now; looking down as he falls he can see where he is going to land, the area of the lake that was destroyed by that giant rock. Normally one would find comfort in knowing they’d land in water because falling from such a height on anything solid would surely result in a splat. But this might as well be the same thing, assuming he keeps his consciousness once he lands in this freezing cold water there’s no way he’d have the strength to find his way out and warm up in time before a severe case of hypothermia. Seeing his death get closer with each passing second, he closes his eyes as he screams.
The last two remaining soldiers are running alongside the Knights as the relentless beat of fire from above lands all around them. Even the cold water from the splash of that giant rock adds to the sensations felt on the skin and blur their vision in a mix of different colors. They take in as much air as they can as the ash from the volcano enters their lungs and steals away the strength in their legs. It’s becoming ever more obvious at how bad their endurance is holding up when they fall behind and the cracks in the ice become wider. At their pace there is no way they are going to make it and their disposition dawns on them with horrifying reality.
With their eyes solely on the path in front of them, they notice that Celestia has formed quite the distance between herself and her other three comrades as well. She must be feeling the effects of the tarnished air too; though this isn’t going to do them any good, they still feel a little comfort in the fact that it’s not just them.
That’s when another huge boulder lands between her and the other Knights, sending a huge wall of thick ice towering down at her. Showing an almost insane amount of composure, she throws her shield as hard as she can over the wall and sticks onto the other side, she twists her wrist violently and the wire holding the shield retracts, pulling her over the wall and she lands on top of it. From there she makes a colossal leap and sores over the gap made by the boulder and back onto the ice, never stopping even for an instant she keeps running and catches up with the others.
The shadow of that wall of ice is closing in on the two men who found themselves deadlocked after that last impact. Chances are, they're probably thinking, (You’ve got to be kidding me) at that ridiculous feat of that girl.
This is the difference between the Knights and them; they just aren’t the type of characters to live through a situation as insane as this. The falling wall of ice lands on their position and flattens them into the lake with a giant thud.
Now it’s come down to the final four survivors; the falling lava begins to slow but that doesn’t make their sprint for survival any less threatening. The ice atop the lake is completely shattered now and the gaps between one ice pad to the other is widening with each second. They have to use their tired legs to leap six to ten feet at a time in order to not fall in the water, and they have to avoid sliding once they land in order escape the same result.
With their focus on an otherworldly high level, they notice that in less than fifty meters the lake comes to an end. Once they reach the shore, they’ll be out of the range of the hailstorm of lava and finally reach safety. The only problem is the narrowing spots in which they can move on; there’s no telling how much longer they have until there will be nothing left but water to fall in.
The shore is tantalizingly close and the first to reach it is Jessiah. In an obvious overreaction, he does an unnecessary belly flop into the snow.
The second is Olin, who instantly throws his hands on his knees and takes a huge sigh of relief.
The third is Celestia, who since the outstanding feat of survival she displayed earlier has seemed to gather a ton of momentum before reaching her final destination.
The last is supposed to be Allia, but to the other’s chagrin they find her marooned on a small piece of ice about fifteen feet away.
Perhaps due to her injury that slowed her down, she was unable to reach the shore before the ice splintered apart.
Swimming to the shore is out of the question, so all she can do is glare at Celestia as if telling her to do something.
Answering that look, Celestia’s face turns a blue as she yells, “Allia jump!!!”
“Haah!? I can’t make it that far without a running start! Can’t you just use your shield or something??”
“Didn’t we go through this earlier!? JUST DO WHAT I SAY!!!”
Allia clicks her tongue and hesitates until she feels an intense heat on her bare back. Not fully turning around to look, she catches glimpse of a smoking chunk of molten rock travelling on a direct line to where she is standing. This is plenty enough motivation for her to use the last bit of her strength to leap toward shore.
Like she said, she can’t make it that far and gets about half way when,
The chunk of molten rock crashes into the area in which she once stood and the force of the impact shoots her forward as if shot from a cannon, the impact was so great it knocked the other three back as well.
Allia is helped by this and flies to the shore and they all slide across the snow like sleds until they come to a screeching halt, only to look up and see that hundreds of shards of scorching sharp debris from the molten rock is raining down on their position.
Something like this renders their incredible abilities completely useless, all they can do is cover themselves and hope not one of these orange shards drills a hot hole in their bodies. The sound of melting ice sizzling away from all over reaches their ears until it suddenly stops.
The four of them lift their heads and look around, checking themselves in the process.
“No way.” Olin said in disbelief as he finds that he and the others aren’t hurt at all.
Allia flops onto her back and roughly inhales. “I guess the saying 'the more you sweat the luckier you get' is really true.”
The four share a knee slapping laugh as the thought of them actually making it out alive through this whole thing finally hits them.
Fighting back tears at just how crazy all of this was, Celestia finally gets her head back on straight and she realizes that they are not out of danger just yet. In fact, they are far from it; Allia’s arm is still in horrible shape, Olin likely has a concussion from the head injury he received earlier, they have no way to get home, and to top it off, both Allia and herself are only wearing bras in negative degree weather.
With those facts now out in the open, she can clearly see that they are completely screwed.
“Wait wait wait, how the hell are we gonna to get home!?” she exclaims, sharing her main thought.
Jessiah and Olin stand to their feet and point off behind a small hill a couple hundred feet away.
There, tied to a rock are a group of a dozen dogs connected to a sled.
“Whaa!? Is this action-packed chapter really going to end so conveniently!?” Celestia shouts.
“Well what did you think was going to happen?” Olin states nonchalantly. “We conveniently got here didn’t we? It’s not like we walked through the snow to get to you guys.”
“Hahaha yeah duh!” Jessiah reiterates.
“Oh and by the way, we have extra clothes and a killer first-aid kit for you guys too.”
Celestia and Allia look at each other and then back to them, taking a large sigh of resignation, they quietly stand up and start walking to the sled.
“What’s this!?” Olin shouts, “No thank you!? No ‘Kyaaaah! Olin you’re so cool!’ talk!?”
The two girls ignore him and keep moving, rather fast at that. Almost as if it finally dawned on them that they are still half naked with guys like Jessiah and Olin around. They run to the dogsled and Olin gives chase, begging them for some kind of acknowledgment. Jessiah scratches his bald head and laughs as he begins jogging as well.
This is how the battle for the weapons plant ends. Whether they think of it as a failure because the plant was destroyed; once all is said and done, there is still no doubt that this surely is a mission accomplished.
Somewhere in Hell at this very moment, Satan hisses in anger as a black chess piece is knocked off the board and falls to the floor.
Dice is up in the garden at the very top of the Eiyalazonian castle.
He’s here for one specific reason, to kill the people who gave him life.
King Gile and Queen Diana enter through the door at their promised meeting time of noon and after cordially greeting each other they walk into one of the green houses and take a seat on a table.
This green house is full of plants such as vines and flowers; normally, an atmosphere like this one tends to hold a little less natural of a feeling, but since the vines wind all throughout the structure and blend in along with the flowers so well, it feels more like stepping into a different world. The sweet aromas from the flowers really give off a soothing air to add to it. Out of the four greenhouses atop the castle this has always been Queen Diana’s favorite one to relax in.
Dice’s eye cringes slightly because he can feel the warmth emitted from what he thinks to be his two-faced mother. The genuinely happy smile she’s wearing is sapping away the light from his eyes as she speaks.
“I’m glad you’re safe Dice... Did you run into any danger out there?”
When she asked that, she was referring to his days on the front-lines with the 1st Royal division. Even though his parents are aloof to the intricacies of that whole situation, they still know that the division was involved in at least one battle.
Dice stares right through her and throws on a fake smile when he replies, “Nothing really... It wasn’t near as bad as I thought it’d be.”
An obvious lie; for the most part he was at the center of many different life threatening moments and took part in the center of the biggest battle of the war thus far. To say it wasn’t that bad after everything he’s seen and been through is dishonest.
“Hmmm, I don’t believe you.” Gile says, glaring at Dice with one eye open.
“Is that so?” Dice answers, still wearing the smile of a perfect son.
“I can see it in your face, you don’t look anything like the boy I raised.”
Dice’s eyebrow again twitches, he can’t help but think that Gile has found something out about him.
But that thought is quickly uprooted when he continues, “You look like you’ve been through more than enough out there, and you look stronger because of it... Am I right?”
“You are right... I didn’t want to worry you two by telling you everything that happened.”
Gile leans back in his chair and folds his arms. “What do you think we want to talk to you about? Of course we want to hear everything. The fact of the matter is that you’re here safe, so knowing how you got to this point should be quite the story.”
Diana smiles and adds, “I agree, we’re both really interested in your story of survival out there.”
“Hmm, that’s nice of you guys... But it might get a little tedious if I explained it in detail so how about I summarize it shortly in the way I saw it through my eyes?”
His parents look at him as if telling him they’d love it if he did and Dice begins to explain.
“As you both know my journey started with Rain... You remember her right?”
“Of course we do.” Gile quickly replies.
“We both feel terrible about what happened to her...” Diana added.
Dice’s lips shrink as he blows a sharp puff of air out of his nose. “Well let’s continue on from the topic of Rain shall we? You see, her brilliance shined brightly on the battlefield as we wiped out a division of Trojan soldiers in order to reach Tronoble. You would’ve been impressed I’m sure of it. But that’s beside the point.”
He takes a deep breath and his glare becomes thinner as the fake smile he’s trying to keep planted on his face begins to dissipate with each word. After exhaling to regain his composure, he sits astute to gather their attention and continues.
“After a week or so we finally reached Tronoble; once there she came up with a great plan to weaken the city before sending the brunt of our forces to attack. Naturally, she wanted to go alone but I wasn’t going to let her do that, so I joined her. A lot of events conspired and we ended up at the Ball that was held for the King of Troy. The plan to weaken the city was to kill him obviously, once done with that we’d send in our soldiers that lay in wait just on the outskirts of town and claim victory.”
“You were actually attending that Ball?” Gile asked in disbelief.
By now the happenings of the Night of the Ball are world famous, partly due to the military ramifications of the loss of that city, and also due to the fact the King of Troy was supposedly killed that night. Hearing that his son was in such a spot at such a pivotal time in the war has piqued his attention level.
Dice doesn’t answer his question but presses on with the original story. “Once there for a certain amount of time I was able to get close enough to the King to be able to kill him myself. And you know what? It would have been easy too. But sadly I was interrupted; it wasn’t by Trojan soldiers, but La’Juutians. Only ten of them. To get me away from the King, they had kidnapped Rain and ended up taking all the glory for themselves. They had killed the King, the castle that held the ballroom was destroyed, and along with it the entire city was sacked. Ten soldiers was all it took; which gets me to the point at why I’m so angry with that whole night...”
His parents look at him anxiously, wanting to hear more of his incredible story.
He holds his hand out as he says, “If there was only ten of them, there’s no doubt that our waiting soldiers would come to the rescue and save Rain. But sadly, they never came, and as Rain was being taken away by those ten Knights I was told that there was a spy in the higher-ups of the Eiyalazonian military that sold us out. When I returned to where our soldiers were supposed to be I found that to be true indeed, they were nowhere in sight. We were abandoned; well technically I wasn’t because I wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place.”
“I-Is that really how the whole thing went?” Diana asks, still halfway shocked.
“That’s what I was wondering as well...” Dice replies, “Can that really be the gist of that whole night? I don’t think so, you see, to me that night still isn’t over. I’ll forever be living in the Night of the Ball until I fulfill the promise I made with Rain before she was taken away. I promised her that I’d find the culprit and kill him. And then, no matter what, I’ll come find her.”
“So you’re saying she’s still alive?”
“Come now, just because you assume things doesn’t mean it’s actually true. Sure you’d think that she was dead just by taking a look at what happened, especially since it went exactly the way 'you' planned it.”
It took them both a moment to catch that because what he said caught them completely off guard.
“Don’t look so surprised. Did you think I wouldn’t find out? You planned on sabotaging her from the start in fear of how bad it would look if she actually succeeded in anything meaningful. Did you really think that you would be able to hide behind your power to eliminate evidence?” Dice’s fake smile and polite tone are long gone and his voice steadily rises, “Did you really think that you could try to kill of the girl I love and live out the rest of your days consequence free!?”
“What are you talking about!?”
“Shut it!!! I don’t want to hear your damn excuses!”
Dice stands to his feet and his arm is engulfed with black smoke, it twirls around until it takes the form of a sword and he points it at them. Whether or not they can’t move from the shock of this strange sight or if it is the fear of death permeating from their son, they are left frozen.
A wide smile taints Dice’s face as a deep laugh exits his throat, “Huuahahaha, and here I thought killing you two in order to have her love me was going to be difficult! This isn't going to be hard at all!”
He swings his sword back and readies to send the blow that will utterly destroy his parents when he is halted by a familiar voice yelling,
“Stop it Dice!!!”
His eyes grow wide and he quizzically turns his whole body around.
Standing in the foot of the doorway is the person he’s doing all this for, Rain Von Ronheim.
He is in absolute disbelief and blinks a few times to make sure of what he’s seeing.
“Don’t do this.” Rain says, inching her way closer to him.
Dice immediately runs to her and embraces her tightly, even with his arm covered in black smoke. He is beyond ecstatic to see her and can barely contain himself. Rain on the other hand feels the ever so familiar sting of hate spewing from him. As much as Dice is happy to see her, she is equally disgusted at the assault on her five senses brought forth by the black smoke.
“You’re here... You’re okay, thank goodness.” Dice said in an almost desperate fashion.
“Dice... What are you doing?”
“I’m avenging you. You can see it now right?”
“You can see that I love you so much that I’d destroy anyone who causes you pain. Even if those people are my parents, I’ll do anything for you.”
The tinge of insanity coming from the air of those words are felt like shards of broken glass in her ears. She can’t help but feel that what Jeffrey said about him being a lost cause is more than likely true.
“If you’d do anything for me... Then you’d stop this madness immediately.” she responds sharply.
“This isn’t what I want. In fact, this is the opposite. As much as I’ve always hated the King and Queen, I still found a way to vow to protect them.”
Dice stops hugging her and backs away, with his hands still planted firmly on her shoulders he asks, “You’re kidding right? You’d never do such a thing for someone who has disgraced you and your family.”
“That’s correct, I wouldn’t... I wouldn’t go so far as to give them a bread crumb if they were starving; but it’s not them I’m doing this for, it’s your sister.”
“Yeah, your sister is my best friend... I refuse to let harm come upon them for her sake.”
“So you’re saying that what I’m doing is wrong..?”
“Yes... I don’t want this Dice, so please stop.”
Dice’s face twists awkwardly and he backs away from her in a shoddy manner. He drops his head and from under his hair’s shadow his lips thinly rise, “Kukukuhahaha, I get it now... I’m being fooled once again by your words. Hahahahaha! That’s right! That’s what it is! It’s just another one of your backward statements that you always use so well to torment me!!”
“What? That’s not it at all!”
“Well I’m not falling for it this time!” Dice shouts, Rain’s words and the look of concern on her face don’t reach him. It’s as though he has shut his ears and closed his eyes to reality as he continues, “My resolve is set! And I’m certain you’ll love me for this! You’re just not thinking straight, something must have happened to you. But once it’s over, you’ll see, you’ll see how heavy the weight of your burdens are once I destroy them in front of your very eyes!”
Dice’s speech begins to give her a headache and the swirling smoke rising from his body makes her feel nauseous. This is the pit of denial showing its ugly face to her, Dice is so far gone his only thought process can be focused on one thing, reason not being it. The words of the person he’s doing this for can’t even change this.
It becomes even more apparent that that is the case when Dice’s face stops twitching and becomes calm. He opens his eyes and reveals that their color has been replaced by two pentagrams. These are the same eyes Rain once held when confronting a certain Trojan girl a couple weeks back.
He smiles and from his lips comes a voice that doesn’t belong to him, “It’s too late girl.”
Rain takes in a sharp gasp of air, this voice has exited her own mouth once before and she knows its name.
The pentagrams disappear and Dice quickly turns around and swings his black arm that holds the shape of a blade in one motion. A huge gust of black wind rips through the greenhouse and utterly blows it to oblivion; the attack was directed towards the King and Queen and was committed in such a flash Rain couldn’t even mutter a word before it was too late.
The afternoon sun that was once blocked by the greenhouse shines down upon them and an eerie warmth hits their bodies. That’s when it becomes obvious that the attack that should have ripped his parents to shreds never hit its targets.
The King and Queen are gone.
“HAAH!?” Dice groans in anger as he scours the garden for any sign of them.
The sound of his teeth gritting in frustration is heard when he doesn’t spot them right away.
He sharply turns to Rain and shouts, “Where are they!?”
Asking her such a thing is more than likely pointless, but in his current mindset he just wants to voice his displeasure towards someone. To his surprise, and answer comes, but not from Rain.
“They’re safe and away from you.”
Noah walks over the rubble of the greenhouse from behind Rain and steps in front of her. “I figured you’d be distracted for a few moments after seeing her. I couldn’t help but use that opportunity to get them out of harm’s way.”
During the short amount of time Dice was confronting Rain, he had Jeffrey slice through the greenhouse and quietly pull the King and Queen through it. Of course, there was a possibility something could’ve gone wrong with that but they had no other choice.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“You don’t recognize me? I believe we’ve met before, of course I was wearing a mask and we didn't talk to each other. Maybe my hair color strikes a bell for you?.” Noah replies, shrugging his shoulders in the process.
This seems to trigger something in Dice’s mind, his eyes widen when it hits him.
"The Night of the Ball!?
“That’s right, my name's Noah and I'm the King of La'Juune. I was the one who kidnapped Rain back at Tronoble. I’m the bad guy here, not your parents.”
Dice swings his black blade and sends a gust of wind just as powerful as the last toward Noah. Not even phased in the slightest, Noah holds his left hand out and with a smooth motion, deflects the attack and sends it flying off into the sky.
The repelled blast of wind hits the metal antenna holding a large Eiyalazonian flag at the highest point of the castle and it is ripped in half. The sharp end of the antenna tips downwards and falls into the garden, piercing through it like a knife through butter it quickly disappears into the castle. The sound of repeated bangs and crashes reaches the ears as the antenna likely makes its way down to the bottom floor. Noah can only hope that somehow no one happens to be standing in its path.
“Something tells me that this isn’t going to be as easy as I first thought.” Noah says as he keeps his guard on Rain.
Dice grits his teeth and takes a deep breath before saying, “It’s clear to me now... She isn’t playing a mind game on me, not at all. The reason why Rain is acting this way is because you brainwashed her, you bastard!”
Noah frowns, he knows that there is no avoiding a conflict. Any thought of resolving this peacefully is shot out the window as the apparent sight of Dice’s insanity reveals itself.
Fully expecting Dice to attack him, Noah prepares himself for yet another attack when to his surprise, Dice turns around and runs out into the open of the garden.
“He’s going for the King and Queen first!” Rain shouts as she pursues him.
Noah quickly follows suit, his mind racing as he does so. (So he is still able to comprehend the situation, choosing to take out the intended and easier targets is the correct thing to do after all. I figured he’d have gone berserk like Rain did by now... If he can still think, then he’s not a lost cause just yet!)
Jeffrey is with Diana and Gile crouching behind a bush in the thick of the garden. This whole garden area atop the castle is a hundred yards long and fifty yards wide so there are numerous spots to hide in such a radius. Ignoring the confused glares of the people he is desperately trying to protect, his whole body is on high alert in wait of a certain attack.
“Harold? What’s the meaning of this!?” Gile shouts.
Jeffrey doesn’t even bother to turn when he answers, “You saw what just happened with your own eyes, do you really think it’s wise for you to raise your voice like that? Throw away your pride and keep your mouth shut, you’d be surprised at how much good it can do for you.”
Gile frowns and is about to say something in return but is interrupted by Jeffrey.
“Oh and by the way, my name’s not Harold. Neither is the girl that’s accompanying me, we’re impostors.”
“Don’t act like it’s such a big surprise, anyone and their mother could’ve fooled their way into having you believe they were actually family members. For future reference you really ought to pay more attention to those kind of things.”
Diana, who is almost as shocked as the King tugs on his sleeve and asks, “If you’re not Harold and Melissa, who are you two?”
“Are you sure you want to know? I don’t think you’d like it if you found out.”
“Does it really matter now?”
Jeffrey huffs air out of his nose and smiles, “Hmph, I guess you’re right about that. Well then, let me formally introduce myself and my currently absent partner. My name is Jeffrey Durbin, and she is Elise Whittier. We are two of the Ten Knights of La’Juune.”
“What!?” Gile shouts, prompting Diana to cover his mouth to keep down.
One can understand his surprise, not only did he unknowingly bring in impostors but they happen to be two of the strongest Knights in the world that are loyal to an enemy country during wartime. The two of them could have easily assassinated him in the last month since they started living under the same roof.
Jeffrey figures that frightening truth has already dawned on him so he speaks as though the point has been made. “Take a deep breath and think for a second, if we didn’t kill you in all this time, why else would be here?”
After a moment’s pause, Diana asks, “To Protect us?”
“Bingo bango bongo, exactly.”
“But why? And from who?” Gile inquires.
“You’ve got to be blind to not be able to tell who we’re protecting you from, it’s your son.”
“Dice would never hurt us!” Diana shouted.
It was not the kind of for sure statement that one would hope for when speaking about their own son, there was most certainly a little doubt in her voice.
Jeffrey sighs and says, “That black smoke around his arm should tell you otherwise.”
Gile, not trying to fight the reality of their disposition any longer calms himself and asks, “Who gave you the order to do this? If you knew that our son was after our lives, then why would you go to such lengths to protect the enemy rulers?”
“I’d like to say that it was out of the kindness of our hearts, but sadly I’d be lying. Though I can’t speak for Noah on that matter.” He shoots them a serious glare and lifts his finger to add intensity to his words as he continues, “Here’s the deal, we know where your daughters are; and our King is doing everything he can to stop this war and bring them back. In order to do that, we’re going to need your cooperation, we can’t have you being killed off without doing anything.”
Ignoring his statement, both Gile and Diana simultaneously exclaim, “Where are they!?”
Jeffrey shrugs his shoulders and replies, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. And keep your damn voices down.”
Gile grabs onto Jeffrey’s shoulders and yells as quietly as possible, “My son has some kind of mysterious power that he’s trying to use to kill us. I’m pretty sure I’ll believe in anything at this point.”
“Hmph, well if that’s the case, I’ve sure got a crazy story for you. How about I fill you in on the details before he gets here?”
Dice is running through the garden at full speed, he doesn’t know exactly where his parents are hiding so with each step he sends more of his black wind attacks ripping through the trees in hope that it hits. Noah and Rain can’t keep up with him and they both know that if they don’t stop him soon, he’s bound to connect with one of those wild strikes.
A storm of leaves, branches and other forms of debris impedes their view of him and the smell of sawdust reaches their noses. With each wind gust the shade that the trees once surrounded them in is overtaken by the afternoon sun and adds to the surreal intensity of the scene. Between the adrenaline rush and the noise this could almost be considered an out of body experience.
The desperate dash in pursuit of him comes to a sudden halt when everything abruptly stops. Dice stops in his tracks and before they knew it, Rain and Noah are right on top of him. The reason for this is standing in front of Dice, it is a girl holding what looks to be a large hammer with pointed ends on each side and a pointed top where the shaft protrudes.
“Not another step pal.” Elise says while swinging her hammer in a jolly fashion.
Dice clicks his tongue and doesn’t even give her a word when he immediately runs in for the attack. With one swing he sends a black gust of wind directly at her torso; not being able to avoid it by jumping off to the side, Elise has only two choices to make in order to not be cut in half, duck under it or jump over it.
She picks the latter.
Using the sharp tip of her hammer she slams it into the ground and pole-vaults herself above the girth of his attack. While in the air she tilts her center of gravity and takes a front flip, the centrifugal force swings her hammer along with her and the sharp end is swung at an incredible speed towards the top of Dice’s head.
Dice takes a jump back and narrowly avoids getting his head smashed in. Thinking that was the end of it, Dice thinks about his next move when,
Debris from the granite pathway strikes his face and upper body as if it was shrapnel from a grenade.
The next thing he knows he hears a strong gust of wind zooming towards his left ear and his body instinctively knows to avoid making contact with this incoming sound at all costs. He buckles his own knees and Elise’s hammer swings above his head; desperately attempting to gain distance on her, he swings his sword down and propels himself backwards by creating a gust of wind.
Little does he know, he’s heading in a collision course for Noah and Rain.
Noah isn’t one to pass on a chance like this, he takes a big crow's step forward and sends his left fist directly into the back of Dice. If the impact of such a blow wasn’t enough, Noah’s power to negate dark energy is put to use and Dice’s body is sent flying into the trees at a bone breaking speed.
The silhouette of Dice disappears in the bushes and trees of the garden and a moment of apprehension engulfs them. It’d be stupid to go rushing in after him solely because getting close to that arm of his is suicide, the three of them are forced to wait for him to come out, not being able to guess what he’ll do next.
“I gotta say King Noah, that’s the fastest I’ve ever seen you move.” Elise said, twirling her hammer once again.
“I don’t think now is a good time for jokes.”
“Oh lighten up, it’s just another battle.”
“Maybe for you, I’m not used to this kind of thing. Plus, it’s definitely not just another battle, the world is at stake here.”
This saying as quite the cliché, but in this case it speaks to the truth. Failure will result in Satan’s rule over the world; they cannot afford to think lightly on this possibility.
“Noah.” Rain says, tugging on his sleeve as she speaks, “You said you have a plan to get him out of the hands of Satan right?”
“I always have a plan.”
“Then can you use it already? I have a bad feeling that someone is going to get hurt.”
Elise walks in between the two and butts in, “By someone you mean that Prince right? You never struck me as a tenderhearted person, I gotta say, it doesn’t suit you.”
“Being tenderhearted is far from being one of my personality traits. But I take full responsibility for the way Dice ended up, if something happened to him I’d be overrun with guilt. And that’s not an emotion that I’m accustomed to feeling.”
“Oho you’re sassy too, I like that in a girl. But your stupidity outshines that pretty face of yours. If you feel responsible for that Prince, then how about you do something about it instead of getting Noah to do your dirty work?”
“Enough.” Noah calmly interjects, he senses the emotion in Elise’s tone and can see that it has affected Rain. “I’m doing this because I want to. I’ve already heard enough from Jeffrey, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t throw in your two cents as well.”
Elise scowls at Rain and says through her teeth, “Yes your highness.”
As if intending to break the tension brewing between the three, an enraged shout comes from the innards of the garden. Suddenly, the light of the sun flowing through the trees of the garden is engulfed by a black fog.
With a screech of wind, what seems to be tentacles of black smoke come spewing from every angle and they shoot towards them at tremendous speeds. Being at the epicenter of a 360 degree attack like this really makes one feel that the walls are closing in.
Elise uses her hammer to break some of the approaching tentacles and dodges whatever she can’t hit. Noah uses his left hand to negate them whilst doing whatever he can to keep them from coming in contact with Rain. Though he’s quite sure that Dice wouldn’t do anything to harm Rain, he still has to be cautious under the assumption that Satan might be trying to take control of her once more.
Having these odd tentacles attacking them from all over adds to their disposition; not only do they not know where Dice is positioned, but they are being attacked at the same time while he awaits in the darkness of the trees ready to strike at any moment.
“This is bad Noah! Make sure you stay alert, he’s planning on using these things as a diversion!” Elise shouts as she does a spin and smashes three or four tentacles.
Noah scours the area with eyes completely focused on whatever target is to appear before him. All he needs to do is catch Dice in the act of revealing himself and with the slightest touch of his left hand he can negate the tentacles attacking them from within the darkness.
After scouring the area for a few moments and blocking a few attacks; his eyes finally catch something. Dice comes running in a direct line towards Noah with his black sword pointing forward.
Perhaps due to Dice’s brazen attack, or maybe just the whole situation in and of itself, Noah reveals a rare frown and rushes toward Dice as well.
“You're underestimating me!” Noah shouts as the two are mere feet from a collision course.
Noah sidesteps to the right and avoids Dice’s thrust; he has got a beat on the Prince. With his left hand he grabs onto Dice’s face and squeezes as hard as he can. With this, the series of attacks by the tentacles will come to an end and a more straightforward battle is to be expected.
Or so he thought.
The mass that Noah grabbed eviscerates and the pure momentum from Noah’s movements almost causes him to fall flat on his face. Quickly turning around to find out just what had happened, he sees that the form of Dice all together turned into a puff of black smoke that quickly dissolved into the air.
Near the edge of the darkness Rain’s gurgled scream is heard.
Around her neck is one of the tentacles.
“Rain!” Noah shouts as he starts running to help her.
As if blocking his path, a couple more tentacles get in between the two and begin to take on yet another shape. After swirling for a second, the tip of the two tentacles form into the figure of Dice’s face.
He’s wearing a cockeyed smile as he speaks, “Perhaps being around Rain has got me to think of strategy a little more often. You see Noah, I didn’t underestimate you, it was actually the opposite. I never thought you’d fall for such a simple trick!”
“Disgusting.” Elise said as the horrid form of Dice’s face in the black tentacles begins to laugh evilly.
“Let her go.” Noah demands.
Dice squeezes the darkness around Rain’s neck even harder and replies, “No no no, that’s just flat out ridiculous. If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get her out of the brainwashed state that you put her in. Which in turn would make her hate me for killing my parents for her right!? I’ll never let that happen! She will love me! She just doesn’t know it yet!”
By now Rain’s face is beginning to turn as blue as her eyes, she can’t hold out much longer if this continues. Both Rain’s condition and the nauseating insanity spewing from Dice sets the bar of intensity very high.
Noah is desperately trying to figure out a way out of this when the intensity bar doubles its height in a flash. Before he knew it, he is watching Rain being dragged off into the darkness by her neck, it’s as though she is some kind of worthless rag-doll being pulled along the ground by a spoiled child.
Any rational thoughts in Noah's head shatter and he instantly begins running after them. There’s no telling what might happen to Rain if she is taken into that darkness, as far as he knows it could mean the last time he’ll ever see her alive. Dice’s insanity is at such a level where he might just kill her in the name of an unrequited love; with his logic tossed out the window, anything is possible from inside that madness of his.
“RAIN!!!” he shouts as he holds his hand out to her.
She holds her hand out as well and the two stare each other in the eyes as they plea for their hands to make contact. Coming agonizingly close to that contact adds to their despair when Rain’s throat is yanked harder and the speed in which she is being dragged doubles and leaves Noah in the dust.
He can’t catch her, she is going to disappear in that darkness alongside Dice. His legs simply won’t move fast enough to stop this from happening.
An extremely rare surge of emotion overruns his body as he shouts at the top of his lungs, “NOOOOOOO!!!”
At that very instant, a sound of meat being sliced hits his ears and Rain’s body grows limp and drops still on the ground. At first glance, by combining the scene with the sound, one would think that Rain has just been killed. But that is not the case here, the tentacles that were pulling her were cut into multiple pieces and wriggle like worms on the ground before puffing into a ball of smoke and dissipating.
“Man this kid must be a serious pain in the ass to be able to get the upper hand on both of you like that. Wow.”
Those words came from Jeffrey, who has nonchalantly appeared from the darkness of the trees and looks rather disinterested in what’s going on around him.
Elise scoffs at him and replies to his subtle insult, “It wouldn’t be that way if we didn’t have to protect that girl’s ego and not kill the brat.”
“I agree with that for sure.”
Noah ignores the two and immediately rushes to Rain’s aid.
“Rain! Are you okay!?”
He lifts her limp body onto his lap and braces her neck, he checks her pulse and is relieved to feel a heartbeat in his fingertips, proving that she is still alive. She has just passed out from asphyxiation, although she is not out of the clearing just yet, he is just happy she is still breathing.
“Hey Noah, I recommend you take the girl and get away from there.” Jeffrey said while holding out his hand to them.
Looking closely, one can see that there is a silver ring with a rather large metallic red circle on his left middle finger shaking violently. He pulls what seems to be a metal wire out of the lining of his sleeve and drops it on the ground. It bounces and shoots itself past Rain and Noah and into the darkness.
He takes a confident huff of air out of his nose and says, “He’s right behind you.”
From the exact area where Jeffrey is pointing comes a storm of jaggedly sharp forms of darkness screaming towards Noah, hee grabs onto Rain and runs away as fast as he can.
Expecting to at least be grazed by that attack, he is surprised to find that nothing has even touched him.
Only the sound of yet another slicing noise and Dice’s dull groan of pain is heard.
Shortly after, the sound of fluid dropping to the ground follows.
The black smoke that plagued the garden disappears and the sunlight reveals Dice’s position. It is just as Jeffrey said; Dice is standing only a few feet away from Noah and Rain. Except he isn’t showing a threatening pose, instead he is leaning on one knee pressing his hand against his bloodied stomach.
“W-What the fuck is this..?” he asks as he winces in pain.
Jeffrey gestures Noah to take Rain further away and begins walking toward Dice. “Those buttons in your coat. They’re made of metal.”
“What the fuck does that have to do with anything!?”
“It has a lot to do with it, that’s how I found your location in the darkness after all.”
Elise, who is standing by watching, sighs and says, “Can you skip the explanation and just take him out already? You always have to be the guy that plays it cool, you know it’s lame right?”
A vein forms on Jeffrey’s forehead as he replies as calmly as possible, “What is this, ‘give Jeffrey shit day’? I don’t wanna hear it.”
“How?” Dice asks.
“Magnets. Take a look around you and tell me what you see.”
Dice hesitatingly uses his eyes to scope the area and notices that there are dozens of shards of red steel all around him. They are somehow floating by themselves and the unusual sight of this alone is enough to make someone double take.
“I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, but the gist of what I’m getting at is that through mathematical equations; I can control the vectors in a ‘Magnetic Moment’ to either produce its own magnetic field or react to another. In this case, I had my red ‘Positive’ magnetic blade react to the cobalt buttons on your overcoat.”
“That’s ridiculous! I’ve never heard of such a thing!”
“Not many have, to be perfectly honest with you I had no clue about this stuff until Celestia somehow managed to turn magnets into weapons. The only thing that makes me unique is the fact that I am the only one who can calculate the math that goes along with using it. Without that, my blades wouldn’t be able to move the way I want, they’d just go in a straight line towards the nearest positive metal.”
This is the Ten Knights of La’Juune in a nutshell, each one of them has a talent that they are literally the only ones capable of. In this case for instance, Celestia created a weapon that only she would have been able to conjure up, and Jeffrey is the only one smart enough to use it.
Magnetic science was far from perfect back during times of electronic technology; nowadays the entire field is near non-existent. That being said, Jeffrey has perfected the science itself a thousand years after its height of relativity.
Dice scowls at him and responds by grabbing his overcoat with his dark hand and rips it to shreds. “If I don’t have any metal on me, then your stupid magnets have no effect right?”
“Well I guess you can say that.”
“Then good!” Dice stands to his feet and flings the blood off his hand with a flick of the wrist. “That means there is no more tricks up your sleeve and I can kill you without any problems!”
Dice charges at Jeffrey with an incredible dash of speed, he shot forward so fast that a black wind trail is left in his wake.
Faced with an unfathomably strong attack, Jeffrey still finds a way to sigh and look disinterested as he lifts his right hand up and smoothly takes a swipe at the air.
With that simple motion, a dozen shards of metal pierce Dice’s back and his fast movement comes to a painful halt.
“I told you didn’t I?” Jeffrey says as he walks up to the Prince and peers down on him as if the Prince was a dog. “With math I can maneuver my magnets any which way I want. There doesn’t have to be metal on you, that’s what these are for.”
Jeffrey then reveals the rings on each hand, on his left hand is a red one, the other on his right being black; positive and negative magnets. With these two rings constantly creating a magnetic flux density, no one is safe upon entry. This magnetic field of his can be used in a similar fashion to planets and moons, and can also be used as repellent to keep things away, or shoot things forward. Anyone who enters this perimeter is walking directly into a vector field in which he has free reign and full control of.
In fact, back in the age of technology, scientists were close to developing guns that fired bullets out of the barrel from magnetic force alone. Having a weapon like that would make the use of gunpowder obsolete and promptly eliminate all sound in the process. That along with the doubled speed would’ve made it a perfect weapon.
Jeffrey is virtually attacking under the same principal, except he’s only using the aid of his two rings and the rest is done manually from within the body.
“Did you know that all movements of the human body have an electrical kick-start that happens in the brain? Well, using that electricity and pouring it into the rings, I’m using them as a charge to constantly create a field. I gotta say, it is a pain in the ass, one miscalculation and it can backfire and leave me brain dead, or my heart could just suddenly stop.”
When he mentions calculations, he’s talking about the precise equation needed to cause the vectors in the magnetic field to react the way he wants it to, and in turn cause his magnets to do what he wants it to. It might sound simple, but even a basic magnetic math equation can make one’s head spin. For example, a regular bar magnet may have a magnetic moment of magnitude 0.1 A•m2 and a volume of 1 cm3, or 1×10−6 m3, and therefore an average magnetization magnitude is 100,000 A/m. Iron can have a magnetization of around a million amperes per meter.
That is just a simple bar, what Jeffrey is dealing with is an entire vector field filled with hundreds of positive and negative reactions that are hundreds of times the strength of an iron bar. To calculate the SI units and amperes per meter without killing himself in the process could be considered a miracle.
With yet another sigh, Jeffrey again lifts his left hand and the blades exit Dice’s back and begin to form into something above his forearm. It’s a small sword about three feet long, the pieces fit perfectly like a puzzle and have now turned into yet another menacing weapon.
Without a moment’s hesitation, he swings down the blade directly at Dice’s neck. This isn’t an attack to incapacitate him, it’s an obvious motion to lop off his head.
“STOP!” Noah shouts at the top of his lungs. His time for being a simple onlooker comes to an abrupt end when his end goal is put in jeopardy.
“This isn’t what you think King Noah.”
“Lies, I can see it in your face. You have no intention of following my orders.”
Jeffrey laughs smugly through his nose and replies, “Ah damn you caught me. You’re right; I have every intention of killing this little shit.”
Hearing that, Rain, who has just awaken after catching her breath joins in and yells, “You can’t!”
“Shut it girl!!” Jeffrey shouts, revealing a rare surge of emotion. His raised voice alone is enough to stop everyone in their tracks and listen intently. “This is an unreasonable order that I refuse to follow. My job is to protect the King, not to aid in his destruction because of the emotions of an enemy girl!”
“That’s not how it is Jeffrey, this is what must be done in order to secure a peaceful world after this.”
Noah is trying to remain as calm as possible to keep Jeffrey from doing anything rash while he’s out of reach. If there’s one thing the Knights of La’Juune all have in common, it’s reason. Jeffrey being the most reasonable one out of the whole bunch, is not giving in.
Is Noah’s request really that hard to understand? Should they even have the right to fight him on this?
“A peaceful world huh... At what expense? Our country without a King? Laid naked out in the open to be attacked by the very countries that we saved? I won’t stand for it! I’m going to kill him whether you like it or not!”
Jeffrey swings down his magnetic blade but is met with a surprise when the sparks formed from metal touching metal flashes before his eyes.
His sword has been blocked by a teenage girl with silver hair and transparent emerald eyes.
Dice, who is also surprised says the name of the person who had just saved his life.
“I won’t let you touch him.” Evelyn said, shooting a steely glare at Jeffrey.
“Listen kid, I don’t know who you are or what you’re thinking, but you’re making a mistake! Out of the way!”
She scowls at him and pushes him with all her weight, and with that he is shocked to find himself flying backwards a good distance. (How the hell did she generate that much power!?) he thinks to himself as he regains his footing.
As if answering his question, Elise rests her hammer atop her shoulder and says, “She’s just like me. She uses her balance and momentum to create a force strong enough to destroy a brick wall. Who might you be girl?”
“My name is Evelyn Le’Fluer. I am Prince Dice’s Royal bodyguard.” She declared proudly without a hitch. She then postures in front of Dice and guards him as she continues, “I don’t know who you people think you are, but I assure you; you guys are in over your heads. Even though I am just a guard, I am considered to be the strongest soldier in all of Eiyalazo.”
“Ohoo how cute. Well if its titles like that, you’ve found yourself in good company.” Elise replied, a fire begins brewing in her eyes and Jeffrey can see it.
“You take care of the guard.” he says, “That Prince is enough to deal with by himself, I can’t be bothering with two people right now.”
With that, Elise comes rushing in for the kill. In a full sprint she lifts her hammer over her head and slams it in the direction where Evelyn and Dice stand. Evelyn pushes Dice out of the way and readies to dodge the attack by jumping backwards when Elise’s hammer skims off the ground, swings under her own legs and her body is propelled into an amazingly fast front flip.
The momentum of such a violent motion almost breaks the air as the sharp end of her hammer readies to fall directly on top of Evelyn’s skull. With a reaction befitting of a cat, Evelyn twists her body and swings her sword. It barely grazes Elise’s hammer but it did just enough to knock it off course and cause it to slam into the ground beside her. The only damage she takes from the intense attack is a few shards of stone hitting from the impact of one the pathway.
Elise doesn’t let up from there, with a slight step she tilts herself to the side and sends the hammer directly towards Evelyn’s abdomen. Evelyn blocks it with her sword but he impact was so forceful she is sent flying ten meters off into the trees. Elise smiles pleasurably and jumps into the trees in pursuit. The two disappear out of sight and the sounds of their weapons clashing can be heard out in the distance.
“Do you know that girl Rain?” Noah asks as he keeps his eyes on Dice and Jeffrey.
“I’ve only met her a couple times when she was around Dice, I’ve never seen her fight though. I’ve only heard rumors about how strong she is.”
“That’s good, hopefully she doesn’t get defeated before we end all this. I’d like to avoid any unnecessary deaths if I can.”
“That girl has the nickname of ‘The Castle’s Monster.’ I’m sure she won’t lose so easily, no matter how strong your Knights are.”
“I see, then it’s safe to put all my focus on the matter at hand. Jeffrey is not going to obey my command, so I need to settle this once and for all.”
Noah runs at Dice and prepares to grab him with his right hand. This is what he did to take in all the hate and evil that once plagued Rain, all he needs to do is make contact with him and the first part of the battle will be over.
Dice can sense his presence, and instantly feels the need to avoid contact with him. He forms his black sword around his arm and swings down at the ground, sending debris flying in an attempt to use it as a smoke screen of sorts.
But Noah doesn’t stop advancing, he powers through the dust and once out on the other side he finds that his target is only a few feet away from. Like this, he will be able to make contact with him and begin the extraction of the Prince’s evil. That is, until he feels a sharp pain on his calf that immediately tumbles him onto the ground.
He has been cut and blood begins rolling down his pant leg and into his boots.
“Sorry King Noah, but this is for your own good.” Jeffrey said as a shard of the magnet covered in Noah’s blood comes back to him and forms into a blade once more.
“Jeffrey!? You dare harm me!?”
“Hmm, anger for once. I like that in a King, this sensitive nonsense of yours is really getting on my nerves.”
“You... You’ll really do whatever you can to stop me..?”
“That’s right, I’m not going to let you die for that girl. I won’t try to convince you to see things my way either, actions speak louder than words after all.”
Jeffrey then turns to Dice, the two make eye contact with each other and the blood lust between the two can be felt in the surrounding environment. These are two people who have every intention of killing each other, and they will go to any means possible in order to do so.
After a brief moment, the two charge at each other and begin a battle that shakes the castle to its very core.
Jeffrey touches the blade that formed in his left hand and it shards into a dozen razor sharp pieces that float around him as if they had a mind of their own.
Dice swings his blade horizontally and sends his own razor sharp attack.
Jeffrey takes a leap forward and slides under the wind like a baseball player to home plate. Now out of the attack’s range, the shards all fly off in different directions and surround Dice; with a hand gesture the blades zoom in from all angles to skewer him.
Dice swirls his body and a tornado of wind blows the many shards away from him as if they were feathers caught in a strong breeze. Not disinterred in the least, Jeffrey keeps moving and pulls a coin out of his pocket and tosses it towards Dice.
Not thinking anything of it, Dice lets it him in the chest, fully expecting it to bounce off of him and fall helplessly to the ground. But to his surprise, the coin sticks to him; and in that moment of distraction, Jeffrey gains ample time to get in close under his guard.
With an open palm Jeffrey slams on the area on Dice’s chest where the coin is stuck and an odd bang echoes through the trees. Dice’s body jolts and his skin shakes violently as a concussion beats on the innards of his body and shoots him backwards.
Jeffrey had used a cobalt coin as a positive magnet and did a set of intricate calculations to stick to the very small amount of iron in the blood on Dice’s shirt, and then with an open palmed strike he turned it into negative in an instant to repel the iron away. The sudden change is what caused the impact to be so forceful. It is likely that the coin would’ve been helpless the entire time if it weren’t for the quick transference in physical properties.
With Dice still flying back, Jeffrey swings his arms and the previously knocked away magnetic shards once again make their way towards Dice. The Prince catches glimpse of this and swings his black sword against a tree, cutting it clean in half.
“That damn trick is not going to work on me twice!”
A huge gust of wind turns the tree horizontally and blows it like an arrow towards Jeffrey, the magnetic shards are caught in the fray and his attack is rendered useless.
The tree bounces across the ground and picks up dirt, bushes, flowers, and even smaller trees along with it. This has turned into an unavoidable attack and Jeffrey knows it, unless he thinks of something quick on his feet, he’ll be a pile of flesh in no time.
A series of ridiculously complicated numbers flash in his head and he hurriedly picks one out of his mind and puts it to use. He slams his right hand into the soil and a huge mound of dirt forms in front of him, barricading himself from Dice’s relentless assault. He winces as he tries with all his strength to keep the soil from losing its solidity, one slip up here will be the end of him.
In the heat of the moment he had come up with the perfect equation to form that wall from all the iron, and other magnetic materials in the rich soil of the garden. All that needed to go wrong was to miscalculate one number and the solidity of that mass would have fallen apart, or his heart would’ve stopped before the trees could even crush him. None the less, he pulled it off, and he can’t afford to think of anything else but the next task at hand; the Prince should be gunning for him as soon as he lets his wall down.
After what felt like minutes, the wind gusts and the flying debris stop and he finally lets go of his wall of soil. He scours the area for any sign of Dice and becomes slightly nervous when he doesn’t get a spot on him.
That’s when he hears Noah’s voice out in the distance shouting, “BEHIND YOU!!”
Jeffrey only had enough time to dive forward, and that was not enough to avoid having his back ripped open by a gust of wind and seeing his own blood fly in his peripheral vision. He twists to his side and lands on his back, he desperately tries to get his magnets back in front of him for protection but it is too late. Dice is directly on top of him and will send his black sword down through his heart.
(Damn it!) he thinks to himself in this brief moment.
Through his mind he thinks of many different ways he could possibly escape this disposition unharmed and none of them work. The numbers simply don’t add up.
However, one does reach his brain as he watches Dice’s blade come down on him, (I was hoping to avoid using this unless I absolutely needed to!)
Even though he said that to himself, his body’s natural instinct to protect itself takes over and he moves accordingly. He claps his hands together and a loud bass noise is heard, the sound itself is borderline nauseating and it emits a clear ball of energy that expands outwards in a blast.
The blast halts Dice’s attack momentarily and Jeffrey sits up and puts both hands about a foot away from each of Dice’s ears; surrounding his head.
Dice grits his teeth and his downward thrust once again continues its motion and slides across Jeffrey’s shoulder sending blood squirting onto the ground below.
Perhaps due to the adrenaline rush, Jeffrey doesn’t feel the pain of being sliced just yet and instead of wincing he smiles and says, “It’s over Dice, you can’t move right?”
Dice attempts to move his body but has found himself stuck in this position completely unable to budge, he can’t even blink in this paralytic state. His eyes, filled with anger are stuck onto Jeffrey’s smiling face as if he was a statue.
“I’ve created a magnetic field around your head, the electronic signals used by the brain that are needed to move are at a standstill. The only way your body can function is by doing the mathematical calculations needed to maneuver around the vectors swirling in a torrent through your brain.”
Even though Dice can’t make any kind of facial expression, one can still see the shock in his eyes.
“Give it a couple more seconds and your entire bodily functions will misfire and jolt out of control. Every breath you take from here on out will destroy you.”
As if his words were a trigger, blood comes screaming out of Dice’s ears, nose, mouth, and eyes. With each heart stabbing gasp of air he takes, more of the red liquid squirts out of him. The sounds permeating from his organs malfunctioning is enough to make someone vomit in disgust.
With this, Dice’s innards will explode and the threat of Satan’s upheaval of the world through him will be completely demolished. This is Jeffrey’s victory, and in turn it is the world’s victory.
He is taking pleasure in the fact that he is capable of such a thing as he watches the life getting sucked out of the Prince, what he is doing defies the laws of human capability. This attack of his puts him in almost as much danger as Dice, but he is focused and determined to end this quickly and take himself out of harm’s way.
The focus needed to destroy the enemy in front of him will lead to his failure. He wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings when the hurried footsetps of someone running up to him can be heard. The next thing he knew, a bright flash blackens his vision and the only thing he can hear is a high pitch ringing noise before he falls unconscious.
Noah has run up to him and kicked him directly in the temple, knocking him out cold.
The magnetic field instantly vanishes and Dice falls to the ground unconscious as well.
The two bloodied men lay harmlessly next to each other as if they were never fighting to begin with. Such a scene really adds solace to what was once so hectic.
“I figured if your brain abruptly stopped your magnetic field wouldn’t be able to harm you. I’m glad I was right, and I’m glad that I was able to knock you out in one shot. Judging from what you told me, I’m sure you would’ve died if my kick only caused you a distraction on what you were doing.” Noah said in an almost guilty fashion.
Even though Jeffrey didn’t follow orders exactly the way Noah had wanted, he had still done a good enough job to incapacitate Dice. Now all that’s left is for Noah to use his right hand to take in the evil that Satan has poisoned the Prince with.
Noah takes a deep breath and doesn’t hesitate to lean down and reach for Dice’s bloodied face.
But before he could make contact, the soft hand of Rain grabs his forearm.
“Wait a second.”
“What is it?” Noah asks quizzically.
With her sky blue eyes she looks into the black of Noah’s with a more than serious look on her face when she asks, “What that Knight said... About you dying if you do this, is that true?”
Noah pauses for a moment and answers, “I’ll be fine.”
Noah sighs and says, “I really can’t hide anything from you...”
Rain looks to Dice and glares at him for a long moment and then back to Noah. With the same stern expression she says, “If that is truly the case... Then please, don’t do it.”
“That Knight... He’s right, you can’t throw your life away for a person like me. And to be perfectly honest, I’d be willing to sacrifice the Prince, and live with the guilt of driving him to such a state if it means saving your life.”
“Hmm, that’s an awfully cold thing to say about someone you were just so desperate to save.”
Rain squeezes on his arm even harder when she sternly replies, “That’s the way it is. It’s a choice right? Well if I had to choose, I’d much rather have you live than Dice.”
Noah rests his other hand on the back of Rain’s and responds to her cold words. “What if I said that I don’t buy into those words of yours?”
“Then I’d say that you’re mistaken.”
“If that’s the case, then I’ll be up front with you and say that you’re full of shit.”
Rain’s eyebrow twitches but she still holds on to her stern expression.
“I’ve grown to know you quite well these past couple months. I mean hell, we’ve spent every day together right? That being said, I’ve studied the many faces of Rain, and I’ve found out what expressions you make when you aren’t being honest.”
“I thought you said that you trust in my word wholeheartedly?”
“Oh I do, but 'you' don’t.”
“I know when you’re not being honest with ‘yourself’ Rain. And this is a prime example. Though I don’t know the specifics, I can guess what’s going on in your head at this moment. It’s hard--- no, it’s unbearable for you to see what Dice has become. The fact that it’s all for your sake is breaking your heart is it not?”
Noah squeezes onto the hand that he has become so familiar with since he had met her, the warmth is an almost nostalgic feeling to him now as he thinks about his future.
“I don’t like it...” he says in a low voice and his head down, “I don’t like to see you suffer, that’s why I’m doing it. Don’t consider this me sacrificing my life for you, don’t consider it a waste. If I thought of it that way I wouldn’t have made this decision."
After being hit by those words the serious face that Rain was showing has been cracked and replaced by a troubled one. Tears begin to form under her brow when she says, “It’s a waste to me! I’d be a lot happier with you alive! So don’t do this Noah! Please!”
Noah smiles and can’t stop himself from throwing his arms over her and embracing her tightly.
“It’s too late.”
Speaking into his shoulder, Rain says, “It’s not too late, all you have to do is walk away.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
“I told you already haven’t I? I’m going to die. Taking in your hate was too much for my body to handle by itself. I’ve been dying since that day anyways, so doing this for you will only shorten my already depleting life.”
“Y-You mean it was my fault from the very beginning..?” The despair cracked in her voice when she said that.
“Not at all... I was bestowed the powers I hold in my hands specifically to help people, no matter what the cost. By me fulfilling the will of these powers, I’ve met you. And in turn, I’ve found happiness; you gave that to me, and for that I am thankful.”
Noah can see how distraught Rain has become over this, he’s sure that in her mind it’s a lose lose situation for her. If Dice dies, it’s her fault for trampling on his feelings so badly in the past that he’d sell his soul to the Devil to change things between them. If Noah dies, it’s her fault for selling her own soul to the Devil for revenge.
He doesn’t want her to dwell on these facts anymore, all he wants is to end this finally and have her start anew. To him she is an amazing person capable of anything; she’ll soon realize that what he’s doing for her is meant to help her, not to put her in pain.
He feels that there is no longer the need to explain himself, the more he speaks the more pain Rain feels. With that in mind, he begins the extraction of Dice’s evil.
With his right hand he places his palm on Dice’s chest and is instantly met with a severe pain coursing through his body, it’s as though thousands of needles are piercing him simultaneously. He powers through it but begins coughing up blood as a result.
Just seeing this is enough to cause Rain to feel an intense twinge of panic.
She is watching Noah slowly die right before her eyes and there is nothing that she can about it, he has made his decision and it is far too late to convince him otherwise. Seeing the black smoke leaving Dice and making it’s way into every gap in Noah’s face is making her feel sick to her stomach, she’s almost begging herself for him to stop but she’s frozen in place.
It would seem that her wish will come true however, a certain man makes his appearance and stops Noah in his tracks by shouting, “What are you doing to my son!?”
The King of Eiyalazo appears alongside his wife not too far behind, he has a look that can kill in his eyes and his face is red with rage.
“King Gile??” Rain asks in surprise. This is the first time she has seen him since she originally left out to fight the 105th Specialist Division of the Trojan army.
Gile ignores her presence and begins walking toward Noah, each step he takes emits a threatening air.
“Stay away!” Noah shouts through the smoke entering his mouth.
The King doesn’t listen and his walk gets faster as he intends on attacking Noah with his own two hands. With Noah in such a vulnerable position the King can really inflict some damage.
Seeing this firsthand, Rain can’t help but jump in front of him and block his path. “Stop King Gile! Noah is only trying to help your son!”
“I already understand that, I heard everything from that damn Knight earlier. The problem is that a La’Juutian is doing it. If anyone can save him, it should be me!”
This is the pride that the Eiyalazonians are plagued with, the people of this country would rather do something themselves then let another person help them. The King lives by these rules more than anyone.
Rain can’t believe that under these circumstances he won’t accept the help of an enemy, no matter how futile his own attempt would be.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Rain says in disbelief.
“I don’t want to hear it from you, you’re supposed to be dead like your father by now.”
Rain looks at him quizzically and he answers her look.
“What? Did you think that I was doing you a favor when I let you take command of the 1st Royal Army Division? Of course not, your name was growing far too big as a battle strategist, people in the royal family were questioning me about the use of your services.”
“You... So you’re telling me that what Dice is accusing you of is actually true?”
“For the most part, yes. Though my wife was under the impression that I actually cared about you, I on the other hand still bare a grudge on that name of yours. Our embarrassment at the hands of Napoleon was caused by your father, and there won’t be a day that goes by where I don’t look at you and am reminded of it.”
She can’t even be shocked at his words, to be perfectly honest, she knew it all along. Like the King of the most prideful nation would do anything for the daughter of the man who suffered the country its greatest loss. The Battle of La’Juune ten years ago will haunt the people of Eiyalazo so long as they breath the Earth’s air.
Gile continues walking closer to Rain and says, “It was a win win for me, if you actually sacked Tronoble and put us on the forefront of winning the war, then it’d be a great bonus. I’d just have you killed afterwards and place the glory upon someone else.”
“That’s enough Gile!” Diana shouts from afar in a disgusted manner, she has heard all she can and is utterly distraught about this all.
Gile ignores her and continues, “And if you failed, like you did, I would finally be rid of your name once and for all. You are nothing now girl, a shadow at best. So you have no right to be in my presence!”
With the back of his hand he strikes Rain’s face and sends her to the ground, and his next target is Noah.
If it weren’t for the black smoke entering through his eyes one could see that there is an abundance of anger residing in Noah, seeing Rain get struck like that has tweaked something inside his head. The problem is, there is nothing he can do about it, he is stuck the way his body is positioned due to the extraction process.
“Wake up Dice!” Gile shouted confidently as if he knew his words would work.
And to Noah’s surprised, they did.
Dice’s eyes fling open as soon as Gile gets within a couple feet of him, these cold eyes so filled with insanity are stuck on the figure of his father when they mold from that of a human to that of a monster. A huge gust of wind shoots Dice’s limp body upwards and away from Noah. About ten meters up, a tornado like wind swirls under his feet and keeps him there. For whatever reason, Dice’s shoulders hang loose and his head droops a little to the side, perhaps this is due to the brain damage he suffered at the hands of Jeffrey.
As if there was no feeling in it, he shoddily moves his arm upwards and begins to speak through a cracked voice.
“That’s right son! Come back to me! You’d be foolish to allow yourself to be defeated by the likes of La’juutians or some damn snake! Follow my word and abandon your foolish ambitions for that lowly girl!”
At this very moment, Jeffrey happens to open his eyes; and what he sees is something completely different from what he saw before he lost consciousness. To his right is Noah, who is violently coughing up blood and being tended to by Rain. To his left stands the King in the middle of the battlefield he had told him he must avoid at all costs. Out in the distance is the Queen with a horrified look on her face as she looks up toward the tree line. Jeffrey follows her eyes and sees Dice, alive, and completely engulfed in darkness while peering down on his father.
“Oh shit...” Is all he can say as his body still shakes off the butterflies of being knocked out.
Dice smiles thinly, his eyes grow wider as the use of his bodily functions return to him. The arm that he could barely move just a second ago regains its strength and his sword forms once more, but this time it is three times the size. A deep laugh begins to brew in his chest and exit out his mouth; he can now see it, the end goal.
Gile starts laughing with him, he thinks that this is his son coming to reason. He spreads out his arms and says, “Very good Dice! Now come to me, let’s kill these bastards and get your sisters back! After that we can take firm control over-------“
An ear deafening gust of wind interrupts Gile’s speech. It would seem that he’s noticed that something is off and the shocked expression on his face proves it; with eyes wide open he glares up at Dice in confusion.
“I knew it was you...” Dice murmured with his head lowered.
From under the shadow of his hair he starts laughing, and after a few moments his laughing voice changes into that of another man.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAH, HALF WAY THERE!!!”
The entire castle begins to shake uncontrollably and a wide pillar of dust plumes horizontally directly behind Gile. Immediately after, in the same formation, blood sprays from Gile’s abdomen and his upper body splits from his lower half. He has been cut clean in two.
It happened so fast that his brain still functions because it hasn't been able to register what had happened yet. Then it finally picks up something, it latches onto the sensation of falling to the ground in two different directions. Blood screams out of his mouth and the last image imprinted in his brain is that of Dice looking down on him and laughing hysterically.
The image slowly fades into darkness and in his final moment he realizes it...
His son has killed him.
Rain takes a gasp in shock as his organs fall from his stomach and slide onto the garden soil like jelly spilt from a jar.
Diana covers her mouth in horror and is about to pass out when she herself feels the sensation of falling. The ground beneath her has split from the ground in front of her and begins to tilt. The entire corner of the castle was sliced off and there is nothing keeping it from falling onto the ground dozens of stories below.
“Damn it!” Jeffrey hisses as he gets up and runs in her direction.
By now the level of the castle’s rooftop in which they are both separated by is over twenty meters. Jeffrey doesn’t hesitate however, he jumps the gap and lands onto the falling mass of castle where the Queen is.
Knowing that the fall from here would leave them a stain on the Earth’s surface, he instantly regrets making this move. But he knows that if the Queen dies, the world just might be over.
“Take my hand before you fall!!!” Jeffrey shouts as he latches onto a tree with his left hand and holds out his right.
The corner of the castle they are standing on tilts almost vertically and Diana loses her footing.
As a natural reaction to this she swings her arm toward Jeffrey and grabs onto his hand. The two stare into each other’s eyes and share a surreal moment as flowers, leaves, and other plants fall out of their pots and trays and zoom down past them.
Jeffrey needs to think of something fast, it’s only a matter of time before the falling edge of the castle completely flips and sends them on a free fall to their deaths.
(Damn it! What can I do!?)
Jeffrey thinks to himself while gritting his teeth and moving his eyes back and forth to find some kind of hope. When nothing comes to him after a few moments he begins to doubt heavily that they are going to survive this. The situation gets even more dire when the corner of the falling castle tips and propels them towards the ground even faster. Not only will they be flattened by the fall, the mass of castle will land on them as well, when all is said and done no one would even be able to find traces of their remains.
Diana screams at the top of her lungs and her voice rings in Jeffrey’s ears, he more or less just wants her to shut up so he can concentrate but he knows that isn’t going to happen. When the sight of the ground gets bigger with each passing second, he officially abandons all rational thought and thinks outside the box of logic. That’s when he spots something through a large window of the castle, piercing through that certain room is the antenna that Dice broke off.
What’s more is that this certain antenna is made out of metal. The reason for this is because before it was broken it was connected to an electric generation room that functions as the power source for light in the castle.
In a flash, thousands of numbers and letters fly through Jeffrey’s vision and he begins sorting them out at an amazing speed. As if he was struck by a something, a certain series of numbers grow bold and a solution can be seen. This is the answer he was waiting for, by sorting out all of the calculations of what is humanly possible, he has found a way out of this mess.
Without further hesitation, he holds out his left hand and they are sucked toward the window. With their sudden change of direction from down, to the side, the falling mass of castle zooms towards them looking to take them along with it. Jeffrey notices the mass and all of the falling debris and speeds up, the two narrowly avoid being crushed and with a loud wooshing noise, the castle passes them and continues its sharp decent.
“We’re going to go through the window!?” Diana shouts as she begins to comprehend just what is happening.
Jeffrey doesn’t reply but her question is answered when they get within a few feet of the window and suddenly stop in midair. The two float ominously as the loud banging noise of the castle colliding with the ground reaches their ears, the next thing they know they are engulfed in a brown smoke as the dust and the debris rises up.
Remaining calm in this surreal moment, Jeffrey takes a deep breath of polluted air and says, “I’ve played a little trick on your son, well, I guess it’d be more of a white lie.”
“I attacked him earlier and said that I used the cobalt in his buttons as a magnetic source. The truth is, that was a lie, he actually has steel toe boots on that contain iron. During our fight I wrapped a little bit of this around his foot without him noticing.”
Jeffrey throws Diana’s arms over his shoulders and releases his hold on her, with his right hand he pulls a rather long piece of thick wire out of the linings of his jacket that instantly coils up into what looks like a slinky. This is an electromagnet coil, this solenoid is lined throughout Jeffrey’s clothing to constantly produce a magnetic field around him, when he created a field around Dice’s head, this was needed to transfer it.
A slight smirk appears on his face as he begins to chuckle. “Little does that brat know, I literally have his number.”
He then raises his left hand and the two begin floating upwards, bangs and crashing noises can be heard from inside the castle as the gigantic antenna makes its way up with them.
Jeffrey smiles as he explains, “If this coil of wire is wrapped around a material with no special magnetic properties like cardboard or something, it will tend to generate a very weak field. However, if it is wrapped around a soft ferromagnetic material, such as an iron nail, or to be more exact, iron boots, then the net field produced can result in a several hundred to thousandfold increase of field strength.”
To simplify, it means that the solenoid coil that he had wrapped around Dice’s boot is permeating a strong enough magnetic field for Jeffrey to latch onto and send materials towards it. He is using the ring on his left hand and a set of calculations for that sole purpose, and the ring on his right hand along with a separate batch of calculations to keep him moving along with the antenna at a safe distance away.
“I hate to do this to you lady, but your son is fucked.”
“HAHAHAHAHA WITH THAT I’VE ARRIVED!!!” Satan shouts through Dice’s mouth.
The scene in the garden at the top of the castle is that of absolute dread. Not only did the King get sliced in half, but the Queen and Jeffrey had most certainly fallen to their deaths. To top things off, Noah is barely conscious and is coughing up blood violently; it would seem that there is nothing they can do.
Dice’s body grows wings just like Rain’s did and he floats towards Noah and Rain; the roles are reversed this time and Rain gets in front of the struggling Noah and guards him.
“What do you think you can do girl?” Satan asks as a smile forms on Dice’s face.
“I won’t let you touch him!”
“Don’t worry girl, I’m not going to kill him. I’m just going to cut off those pesky arms of his and torture him until he succumbs to your hate. A fitting death for a man who opposed the Devil don’t you think?”
Rain scowls at him and firmly keeps her position.
This prompts Satan into a sigh, he shrugs his shoulders and says, “Very well then, just because you once gave me your soul, I’ll do you a favor and end this quickly. How about I show you my full strength by turning the both of you into dust?”
Satan spreads Dice’s arms and a huge mass of dark energy pulsates above his head and grows larger every second, the mass causes the castle to shake and makes the air crack with static. He begins to laugh pleasurably as the power that has been absent from the world for over a thousand years finally can reveal itself once more.
However, his laugh comes to a stop when his energy fizzes out and loses power before fading into nothing.
“What!? I should be able to use my full power once the contract was fulfilled!” he asks himself in confusion.
Then the answer dawns on him like a bolt of lightning...
The Queen is somehow still alive.
If that wasn’t enough of an answer, an extra one comes from below.
In a massive blast the antenna screams through the innards of the castle and exits out of the garden floor. All of the debris the thirty meter long mass of metal brought up with it suddenly appears right below Dice’s feet.
Satan’s vision is clouded by the dirt, wood, branches, and even whole trees pluming up towards him.
Before he can even react, the fat end of the antenna crashes into his legs at such a speed they both instantly compound fracture and his vertebrae smash together before his face violently meets the metal with a loud thunk.
His silhouette disappears along with the uprising debris and the antenna screams over the side of the castle and flies a hundred meters before beginning its decent to the ground. The force of impact was so great that a torrent of wind still blows even after the initial hit is long over.
The clitter-clattering of thousands of pieces of the castle landing on the ground doesn’t stop for almost a minute as the maelstrom of noise and wind finally come to an end. Standing in absolute shock is Rain, she has to shut her eyes and shake her head to fathom the severity of what had just occurred.
She is brought back to her senses when she feels the gentle touch of a hand on her shoulder.
“S-Stay here...” Noah struggles to say as he shoddily walks to the side of the massive crater caused by the antenna.
From above falls Jeffrey holding Diana in his arms, perhaps due the the physical exhaustion caused by what he had just accomplished he stumbles upon landing.
“Now that...” he says as he lets Diana to her feet. “Gave me a migraine.”
Blood squirts out of his ears as he winces in pain and drops to one knee.
“You did good Jeffrey.” Noah said as though he expected something of such magnitude from the Captain of the Ten Knights of La’Juune.
He walks past Jeffrey and into a pile of rubble, he removes some tree branches and some planks of wood and finds Dice laying there in terrible shape.
His legs have been horribly mangled, his body seems to be tilting the wrong way, and his left eye is gone.
Noah leans over and checks his pulse, and to his surprise he’s still alive. This could be the doing of the state of his body under Satan’s power because a normal human should have been flattened by such an impact; and Noah is certain that was Jeffrey’s intent. None the less, he can still be saved, by the looks of it he’ll likely never walk again but he can still be saved, he must be saved.
Noah holds out his right hand and gets ready to do what he came here for when from out in the distance comes Elise. She is carrying the limp and unconscious body of Dice’s royal bodyguard Evelyn, other than a few scratches she is completely unscathed for the most part. It's obvious that the rumored 'Castle's Monster' wasn't much of a match for her.
She smiles and says happily, “ Yohooo I’m all done here! What did I miss?”
She takes one good look at the destruction she had heard during her battle and looks at Jeffrey dejectedly.
“Don’t look at me like that, I was just doing my job.”
“You’re a monster you know that?”
“Why thank you. One of the core values of magnets is the planet’s gravitational force, by reversing the direction of it from pulling downwards to pushing up, I can create the same effect of having a heavy mass of metal falling on someone from below.”
In other words, what had just happened to Dice was of the same equivalent to having something that weighted tons landing on him from hundreds of feet above, just reversed.
“Listen everyone.” Noah interrupts their conversation and addresses everyone present. “You are to run our country and settle this war in my absence until the Napoleon and the others return. This is my final order to you two and the rest of the Knights.”
“What makes you so sure they’ll return?” Elise asks.
Noah smiles and answers, “I just know it, it might be a bold prediction but I know that they’ll be back one day and the world can be at peace. So trust me on this.”
Jeffrey can hardly move, so stopping him is out of the question, this time he has no choice but to accept what is to come. He sighs and replies, “Yes sir.”
Noah then turns to Rain and looks at her tenderly. “Rain... There’s so much that I want to tell you, but I hope that my actions reveal my feelings for you at the end of all this.”
She fights back tears as her own feelings jumble inside of her chest. “Noah I... I---“
“Don’t worry about it.” He again turns to Jeffrey and says, “On second thought, this is my official last order as King.”
He looks at him intently as Noah finishes, “Rain is to be happy... And you are to ensure of that, got it?”
“Good... With that, I’ll be going.”
“Yes sir.” Both of the Knights say simultaneously.
Noah doesn’t hesitate and puts his right hand on Dice’s chest; the remnants of Dice’s evil and hate screams into his body and he is overwhelmed by a horrid pain.
“Noah wait!” Rain shouts as she runs to him.
Elise blocks her path and keeps her from getting any closer. Rain tries to get past her but even with Evelyn on her shoulder, she is simply too much for Rain to surpass.
She shouts as she watches Noah die before her eyes. “Noah!! Stop this! I don’t want you to do this anymore! Let him go!”
Noah doesn’t stop, the floodgates have already been opened and by now almost all of the evil of Dice as been taken in by Noah.
Rain shouts but her words seem to go unheard, that is until she shouts the one thing that gets Noah’s attention.
“Please don’t do this!!! I LOVE YOU!!!”
The last torrent of darkness slithers its way into Noah’s body and the job is done. He stands motionlessly for a moment and falls to his knees. If one looked close enough, through the blood on his face he’s wearing a smile as he rocks from side to side uncontrollably.
From this position, he says to her what will be his final words.
He then falls limply onto the rubble and fades away.
Rain’s heart sinks to her stomach and she is finally able to get away from Elise and run to him. She puts him into her arms and shouts his name a few times to no avail.
“He’s gone.” Jeffrey said in a bitter tone after watching her desperate attempt at getting him to wake up.
“No!! No he isn’t! He can’t be!!”
With denial written all over her face she said those words in anguish. She squeezes him tightly and begins to weep hysterically. With her cheek pressing up against his, she then notices a small breath of air blowing against her ear, she looks at Noah and checks for a pulse and finds that his heart is still beating.
“He’s still alive!” she shouts to Jeffrey as if expecting him to do something about it.
“No he’s not. He’s as good as dead.”
“How can you say that so coldly!? He’s your King isn’t he!?”
“Of course he is, but that doesn’t change the fact that he isn’t coming back.”
“Don’t you get it? King Noah and that brat are in a coma; the difference between them is that Dice’s coma will end once his soul is used to functioning without the use of darkness. Noah’s on the other-hand is slowly being eaten away by yours and that brat’s hate. Once it is completely engulfed, it’s over."
“B-But there’s a way to stop it right?? There’s got to be!”
“That hate comes directly from Satan himself, unless we magically find a way to kill him before his darkness eats Noah’s soul completely, there is no chance of his survival. I don’t know about you, but I happen to think that’s entirely impossible.”
“N-No way...” Rain said is disbelief as all shreds of hope was dashed for her.
She had finally realized what he meant to her now that he’s gone; and now there is nothing she can do other than cry into his chest.
Jeffrey takes a deep breath and turns to Diana, he points in Dice’s direction and says, “Go to your son... And be grateful that the King of La’Juune was a merciful pansy who kept him alive for a stupid girl.”
Diana looks him in the eye and bows, “Thank you... I never loved Gile, and though I can’t say that I’m all too saddened by his death, if one of my children were to die I don’t know how I could live with myself.”
After saying words that Jeffrey found a little unnecessary, she runs to the aid of her battered son.
Jeffrey scratches his head and says to himself, “That’s a little sad... For a woman as beautiful as you to never have fallen in love.”
“Oh? So older women are more your type huh?” Elise asks as she pats him rather hard in the shoulder; she had dropped Evelyn in a pile of flowers a few feet away.
“Now’s not the time for your damn jokes. We’re in deep shit here.”
“I've heard that twice already today, so trust me I know, it’s just natural for me to pick on you.” She looks around at all the destruction and it prompts her to ask, “So now what?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean... What do we do next?”
Jeffrey looks around at the scenery as well and he figures that at any moment, soldiers will be arriving to see that the King is dead and La'Juutians are standing over his body. One glance would be enough to execute them on the spot, and he highly doubts with a tattered and unconscious Prince present that the words of the sole surviving Queen would be enough to sooth their rage. They'd more likely think that they had made her say that they are the good guys than to actually believe her.
With those thoughts and many others in mind, such as the future of both the countries of Eiyalazo and La'Juune, he answers to the best of his ability.
"I have no clue."
(Fight it, fight it, fight it, fight it...)
These thoughts are running through Lelaine’s head as Sturgess takes off his pants and readies to force himself on her.
It’s bad enough that she is already naked and he can see her in a way only one person before has, but is she really going to let him do this to her? Is she really going to let hopelessness be the cause of allowing something as disgusting as another man touch her?
Her body is weak, and the will to fight takes its time to reach her body, and when it finally does, she is able to weigh her options. Her thought process starts off with clawing and scratching, and anything else she can do to deny him entry. Then it molds into plucking his eyes out with her bare hands.
From there, her decision is made when she remembers one of the maids putting a pencil like metal hairpin in her hair. The maid looked at her with pleading eyes as she did so, those eyes were asking for Lelaine to do just this, to fight.
She can pull this hair pin and send it through his neck or eyes, anywhere would work as long as it will stop him.
The light in her golden eyes shine once more and emotion resurfaces in her expression, and right before Sturgess can get close enough to enact his desires, Lelaine grabs the sharp hairpin from her hair without him noticing and readies to jab it into his temple when she hears someone rush in through the door.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!?!?”
The both of them look over and reveal two different looks of shock; standing at the doorway is someone Lelaine thought had died.
Sturgess on the other hand, knew of his survival and was trying to get his pleasure out of the Queen before he arrived; he angrily frowns at the King's entrance and the fact he wasn’t able to get it done in time.
All of the strength re-enters Lelaine’s body and with a rush of adrenaline she kicks Sturgess off of her and runs to Zurvick with tears in her eyes.
She throws herself onto him and starts crying into his chest. “You’re alive, you’re alive you’re alive. I can’t believe it, I thought you were gone!”
Zurvick doesn’t embrace her back, instead his hands are frozen in the air as the thought of touching her disgusts him.
With teeth chattering he struggles to say, “Y-You two... How long has this been going on!?”
“What..?” she asks.
“What do you mean what!? Is all it took was word of my death for you to throw yourself onto another man!? Onto Sturgess for that matter!? I told you, I promised you that I’d come back! I always came back to you, I’ve fought through everything that could keep me from you, I’ve lived only for you! And now I come back to this!?”
“N-No I’d never! He has kept me locked in a dungeon until today because I wouldn’t let him! He was forcing himself on me!”
Zurvick is unable to comprehend this, what he saw when he walked through the door was a complacent and receptive woman; to him she wasn’t doing anything to show that she was unwilling.
“It sure as hell didn’t look like it!!!”
The look on Zurvick’s face is one that can be described as despair, devastation, disgust, disdain, and flat out horror. He has just seen his wife; the person he loves most in the world with a different man between her legs, in his own room and on his own bed for that matter.
This place should have no space for a man like Sturgess. Yet here he is, doing the things that are only supposed to be done between husband and wife in this room.
He has just fought alongside thousands of Trojans to save his wife, and this is what he finds after the long and bloody battle?
It almost makes him gag.
“Zurvick, you have to believe me! Look!” She shows him the pencil long metal hairpin she’s holding in her hands. “I was going to try to kill him with this right before you came in I swear it! I’d rather die than be touched by anyone else!”
From behind a deep laugh is heard, Sturgess has pulled himself together and while tightening his belt he says, “You didn’t say that the first few times we did it right? What’s with the sudden change?”
“H-He’s lying, that bastard, he’s lying to you Zurvick!”
“Get off me...” Zurvick demands.
Lelaine doesn’t let go as she stares at him with eyes pleading for him to believe her.
This prompts Zurvick to look away from her and push her off of him while shouting, “I SAID GET OFF ME!!!”
Lelaine falls to the floor and can’t believe what has just happened, this is the man she loves refusing to listen to reason, refusing to even touch her. To make matters worse, it is for something that never happened; he has bought into the lies of Sturgess before even thinking that his words might be false. He believes a man like Sturgess over the word of his own wife.
She had thought that the bond they shared in marriage and in bearing a child together was stronger than the words of a traitor but she guesses she must've been wrong.
Without that bond, without him, her life means nothing at all.
She stands to her feet and walks to the foot of the bed to grab the robe she had entered the room in; she throws it on and shows Zurvick a dead expression.
“If you can’t believe my words, then what am I supposed to do to convince you I am telling the truth?”
Zurvick just glares at her speechless.
Sturgess on the other hand continues his slander of her. “There is nothing you can do to convince him, what he’s seen with his own eyes is enough to doubt your touch the rest of your lives. Just let him go and come back to me.”
He speaks as if she was ever his at one point. He himself is also in a pit of denial. He thinks that by having her submit to him, she belongs to him. Even though Zurvick is back, he still feels that it is too late for them to salvage anything, so she might as well switch.
Lelaine ignores him and walks to a cabinet by the balcony door, she opens it and pulls out her pipe. It has been sitting there unused for over a month so she blows out the dry tobacco left in the pipe and replaces it with a new batch from a bag. She then lights it and starts smoking as she leans against the door.
She then grabs another item out of the cabinet, this time it’s a slightly charred flask. It is Zurvick’s flask to be exact. The one used as evidence of his death back at Tronoble.
She holds it out to him and says, “Someone must have grabbed it from you at the Ball back then, whoever it was had this on him when he died... I’ve cleaned it off and refilled it with your favorite liquor, hoping that one day you’d return to me. And now that day has come, but look at what a mess it is, the only thing happy about our reunion is the fact that you’re still alive.”
Zurvick still remains silent, Lelaine tosses the flask at him and he lets it fall to the ground without attempting to catch it.
She smiles sadly and takes a drag from her pipe, after blowing out the smoke she says, “Oh how rude of me, I really shouldn’t be smoking inside our room.”
She then walks out to the balcony and sees for herself the thousands of people fighting to save her from Sturgess.
“Those people... How kind of them.” She turns back to Zurvick and talks to him through the doorway. “You were just like one of those people right? Fighting to save me from that bastard standing next to you... Is it really too hard to believe in the person you are trying to save over the person you are fighting against?”
“I see, well then...” She takes another drag and blows out the smoke. “If you are unable to do that, then I’ll just have to prove that I'd never touch that worm of a man.”
She tips her pipe and the tobacco is swept away by the wind and taken into the blue sky, she drops the pipe on the ground and leans against the railing.
“You know... There were so many things I wanted to do with you once you got back. Pointless things that we used to do as kids, like going horseback riding in the mountains, dancing with no music, hell I’d even want to play hide and seek like we used to just so I can re-experience the reasons why I fell in love with you in the first place.”
Sturgess frowns, he remembers those times all too well, he was forced to watch as his feelings for Lelaine were tossed aside as she fell for Zurvick. He hated those times, what’s nostalgic for them is torture for him.
Lelaine’s hair blows with the cool breeze as she continues. “But most of all... I wanted us to be together with Trojia once more, the three of us as a family. But I guess that’s no longer possible, that too is my fault. I’m sorry Zurvick...”
“L-Lelaine... I---“ Zurvick attempted to say something but is interrupted.
“I told you earlier that I’d rather die than let another man touch me.” she says, inching toward the balcony railing. “Well I’d also rather die than have you believe that I would do such a thing. I’d rather die than not have you believe me, I’d rather die than not have you love me.”
This is when an odd aura spews from throughout the room, it would seem that Sturgess is the first to realize this and he slowly begins to walk toward her while saying, “Lelaine... Step away from that railing.”
Lelaine doesn’t listen and looks Zurvick square in the eye, tears begin falling down her cheek when she smiles and says, “I have always, and will always love only you... If you find it in your heart to believe in those words, then I can die happy.”
As soon as she finishes, she tilts her upper body backwards and flings herself over the railing.
Sturgess shouts as he runs after her but it is too late, from the very top floor all the way down to the ground is over 25 stories. No human can survive such a fall.
After a few seconds of an eerie silence, a loud splash is heard from outside. Lelaine’s body has landed in the moat at the base of the castle, even though she landed in water, it might as well have been concrete, there is no doubt she’s dead.
Zurvick, in a severe state of shock, shoddily walks to the balcony and peers down; he can see her lifeless body float in the water of the moat with a circle of red around her. Down there is the woman he vowed to spend the rest of his life with, the mother of his daughter, the person he loves. Down there is the woman that will never come back to him, he’ll never be able to touch her again, she’ll never touch him again. They will never see each other again.
And for what?
Because he couldn’t believe in her? She did this to prove to him that she was loyal only to him until the very end. Does he see it now? Can he believe her?
His tongue grows very dry and he has a hard time breathing as he drops to his knees and puts his head up against the white stone railing of the balcony. His body begins to convulse as though he was struck by a severe cold.
“YOU FUCKING BASTARD!!!” Sturgess shouts at Zurvick’s back, “How could you let her do that!? I was obviously lying you dumb fuck!!! I didn’t get the chance to do anything! She wouldn’t let me!!”
Even Sturgess can't believe this happened, he didn't think that holing her up in solitary confinement would make her so susceptible to her negative emotions. He thought she was stronger than that. But yet, she might have just showed him a different kind of strength, one that shows how much she's willing to sacrifice to prove a point. And when he thinks about it, she was always that hard-headed and stubborn. It was a trait he'd had always hated about her, and having her end her own life due to it angers him to the pit of his soul.
Somewhere deep down inside, Zurvick knew that nothing had happened, he knows of that hard-headed nature of hers that made her strong. It only strikes him after the fact that she would have fought it. But hearing it from Sturgess himself sends shock-waves down his spine.
Because of him, his wife is dead. There is no way around it, he could’ve reacted any other way and the results may have been different. His body is so overrun with regret and despair that he can’t even cry.
Sturgess is beyond angry, he did all this just so he could have Lelaine; not only did he not get her, but she killed herself in the process. This is the ultimate insult to him. He was so far from being Zurvick’s equal that she’d kill herself over sleeping with him.
Looking at the man who caused her to have those feelings makes him want nothing more than revenge. He points his hands at Zurvick’s back and prepares to blow Zurvick to bits when the snake exits out of the pentagram.
“You’ve done well my fair General. The contract has been completed.”
“Get out of my way snake! I’m going to kill him!”
“No no, you’ve failed to understand me. Your body doesn’t belong to you any longer.”
The next heartbeat Sturgess feels is so intense that it buckles him to his knees and he coughs out blood.
“Gbbbhhaaah!?” He holds his throat in anguish as he moans. “W-What!?”
“Don’t look so surprised, you have sold me your soul in return of my fulfillment of all your carnal desires. I offered you all of the kingdoms of this world did I not?”
“Nnnggghh! Do I look like I have the kingdoms of the world in my possession!? You also promised that I’d have Lelaine!”
The snake begins slithering around Sturgess’ neck as it continues to speak, “That would have been the case If you had fulfilled my requirements.”
“All you needed to do was have your fun with that woman and kill her, afterwards I would have allowed you to accompany my conquering of this world, you would have been able to enjoy the ride as you watched your body rule over this land. However you hesitated, you let your lust for her ruin your sense of judgment, you did not succeed in that manner, instead you let her kill herself.”
“Damn you! She’s dead isn’t she!?”
“She is, but not at your hands. That spoiled any chance of you joining me in my rule of this world, you lost the prize of your carnal desires by failing in that regard. However, her death did complete one of my conditions for the contract. And that in turn ended our agreement.”
This is what Satan does, he’s been known for this all throughout time. He is the master conniver. By showing people delusions of grandeur and offering them their wildest dreams on a gold platter, he tempts them into signing a contract that only he can see. Every man he’s made a deal with doesn’t bother to consider that there just might be something wrong with this because the miracles Satan performs is used as evidence for belief.
Sturgess had no clue that if he did not kill the Queen he’d lose his body and soul, and that is because the rewards flashed before his eyes at the time clouded his judgment.
“Y-You double crossing bastard!”
“Hahahaha, did you actually think I’d give a mere human rule over my world? A human is simply a vessel without its soul, you were nothing but a flask from the very start. I never had any intentions of giving you anything, I simply showed you what you could’ve been apart of and you gave me everything to obtain it.”
“No... I won’t allow this!” Sturgess shouts at the snake, the reality of his situation is beginning to make him panic.
“Oh but you will my fair general, you have no choice.”
All of the snake’s scales fly off its skin and roam around Sturgess’ head like a swarm of bees; the body of the snake then dissolves into what looks to be a fine powder and storms into every opening in Sturgess’ face. It would seem that this is very painful for him because his screams of agony are loud enough hurt Zurvick’s ears.
After a few agonizing moments, Sturgess’ hair turns jet black and the veins bulging in his forehead and cheeks turn black as well.
Satan’s poison is eating him alive.
This is a hostile takeover of a human body; what he’s experiencing is far worse than any average possession by a demon. He’s literally having his soul ripped from his body.
“I have reserved a special spot in Hell for people consumed by Lust such as yourself.” Satan’s voice echoes around Sturgess’ screams. “You will become nothing but a statistic in the mass numbers of man who are to be swept by terrible winds to and fro without any hope of rest for all eternity. Enjoy, my fair General, this is the punishment for your failures in life.”
When he is referring to never ending winds blowing people all about he is talking about the Second Level of Hell; the place where humans who lived their lives consumed by lust are doomed to. In the Second Level, a wind so loud and so severe blows that the constant torrent sends naked men and women bashing into each other violently, making sure that each contact with one’s skin results in nothing but the pain of broken bones instead of pleasure. This torture continues forever as they are doomed to never sleep, eat, and drink. They must endure the pain of the ear shattering noise of the wind and the horrors that goes along with it for every waking moment.
“Noooo!!! This can’t be happening! This is not how it’s supposed to be!!” Sturgess shouts in denial.
“Has anything gone the way you’ve planned it to go your whole life? This is just another one of your many disappointments, you should have expected nothing less.”
“I am supposed to be someone that achieves greatness in life! Someone who gets everything that he’s ever wanted! It can’t end like this!!”
“That’s too bad General, greatness is achieved by years of suffering, there’s no easy way to the top. And all it takes is one bad decision to demolish every past accomplishment. In this case, it was allying yourself with me.”
Sturgess’ eyes roll back in his head and his tongue seems to shrivel to the back of his throat as his humid mouth becomes as dry as a desert. With one final gasp of air, his breathing stops and as stiff as a board he falls backwards and leans on the wall.
He twitches a couple times when seemingly out of nowhere a black tornado of wind swirls all around his body and he is engulfed.
The wind is so hard that it’s leaving gashes in the wall of the castle behind him and sending lightweight items of the room swirling all about.
After a few seconds of this the wind suddenly stops and the room is peppered with an eerie silence; only a ball of smoke surrounds his body and that slowly dissipates, finally revealing the man in the middle.
There stands Sturgess with a smile on his face.
His hair is completely black, his eyes that were rolled in the back of his head just moments earlier are now in a proper position and hold the color of red. And resting atop his forehead is a black pentagram.
Just these three things are enough to show that this is not Sturgess any longer, and that truth becomes even more evident when the man begins to speak.
“It’s done... I have returned to this world once more!” The voice of Satan exits out of Sturgess’ mouth as he spreads his arms in triumph.
Zurvick is just standing there speechless, he was told by London and the others that this is what they were fighting to avoid at all costs, but something as far-fetched as the Devil taking over Sturgess’ body and replanting himself on the face of the world was a little beyond him. Actually seeing it happen before his eyes is borderline maddening, especially when he could’ve have stopped it if he’d kept Lelaine alive.
It’s his fault...
“I must say King Zurvick, you’ve done nothing but help me since you got here. I was worried that Sturgess would lose control and easily be defeated once you gallantly returned to save your beloved. I was right, he would have lost to you and those bastard Knights while wallowing in his own disposition on life. However, you immediately accused your wife of adultery and sent her to her death for me; this couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Satan walks to the frozen Zurvick and continues to speak.
“You know, this whole thing, the war, the kidnappings of your daughter and the others, that was all a precursor to this moment. Everything was for me to rise once more. I’ve gambled almost everything on this chess game of mine, I sacrificed many pieces to get to where I am now, and I must say, if it weren’t for you I would have lost to Noah.”
Satan can see the dead look in Zurvick’s eyes as every word that exits his mouth stabs into the disgruntled King like knives.
This doesn’t halt the Devil's speech though, he keeps pressing forward with his torment. “I had one final piece left as of an hour ago, and that was my King piece, my King was Sturgess all along. And the enemy King piece was none other than Lelaine... Would you like to know why?”
Zurvick can’t speak, he’s heard the gist of this ‘Chess Game’ between Noah and Satan but couldn’t see it as anything more than a figure of speech.
“I saw all of this coming.” Satan says with a confident smile, “I knew that this country would fight back after a hostile takeover from Sturgess, I knew that there’d be thousands of deaths in this city. In fact, I was already thinking ahead of even that when I took the General’s soul. You see, I am the Devil, but with only a fraction of my strength in this vessel, I'd still be vulnerable to mass numbers. If the population of La’Juune and Eiyalazo were to attack me it's very likely that I'd be defeated eventually if I were to fight by myself. I needed a contingency plan, so I figured I’d take advantage of whatever it is my son is scheming down in Purgatory. Along with your daughter, he abducted the Angel of Death. Sure there are other reapers desperately trying to send souls to their proper destinations but they’re not enough to do it all. He stole the one man who could harvest the souls of all the lives lost in this war.”
Satan can still sense that Zurvick is borderline clueless about where he’s going with this so he decides to get to the point.
“What if I told you that I have my own reapers collecting souls? Well I have many, and the majority of them are here today, around this very castle, specifically for this very rebellion.”
“You can’t mean...”
“Oh you’re starting to get it now huh? That’s good, I hope you understand that in order win, sacrifices must be made. In this case, in order to raise my army once more, a certain amount of souls must be sacrificed.”
Zurvick takes a deep gasp of air as what he’s planning on doing finally hits him. He’s heard the stories of the Apocalypse, he’s heard that in order to rise an army from Hell, the Anti-Christ killed off millions of people at once and used their souls to do it. What Satan is saying is that he’s planning on doing to the same thing, and he’s using the deaths of this rebellion as a kick-start.
“Everyone in this castle will be used as kindling for the flame of my victory. No soul shall escape, they will all be used to start my rise to power.”
Satan takes another step towards Zurvick and puts his hand on his shoulder. The mere touch from the Devil is enough to break a man but it would seem that Zurvick has already been broken.
As if pitying him, Satan reveals a smug expression. “But don’t worry my fair King. I won’t use your wife’s soul, instead I’ll send it where it belongs. I’m sure you’ve heard about what happens to the souls of people who kill themselves right?”
“That’s right, she’ll be in Hell for all of eternity. Far from the reach of tenderness from any man. She’ll be in a state of despair, suffering through the regrets of her past life forever.”
Zurvick’s breathing becomes shoddy and his body begins to rock back and forth.
“What do you think of that?” Satan asks as he squeezes onto his shoulder. “What do you think about that being your fault? How will you deal with that? Do you want to die?”
He doesn’t answer.
“I could end it for you now. You wouldn’t have to see the world become swallowed by darkness, you wouldn’t have to suffer with the guilt of knowing that you played a direct role in it. I can give you the easy way out if you simply say the word.”
It’s very likely that Zurvick would rather die than live through that kind of pain, but sadly he can’t even speak. His loss is too great, not only did he lose his wife, but he’s lost her in a way that she’ll be forced to spend the rest of time in the complete agony of Hell. The guilt he feels for that is enough to constrict his heart so badly that he has trouble breathing.
Satan releases his grip on his shoulder and says, “Very well then. I shall let you live, I’m not a very merciful person anyway. Killing you would only do you a favor, it wouldn’t be a proper punishment for what you’ve done, would it?”
Satan walks to the window and peers outside.
“I think you deserve to watch your Kingdom, your people, your world, all succumb to me. I think that you should watch closely as they worship me and address me as God, and live with the fact that you had a chance to stop it. Only if you could’ve believed in that woman.”
These words absolutely crush Zurvick, he throws his face in his hands and stares at the ground with small pupils peering through the gaps between his fingers. The look in his green eyes is that of pure devastation.
“Now go.” Satan says as he gives him a hand gesture, “Get out of my castle, and live the rest of your pathetic life with this guilt as your burden.”
Zurvick fumbles as he takes his first few steps until shoddily halts and leans over to pick of the flask that Lelaine left him. Squeezing it tightly in his palm, he somehow steadies himself as he exits the room in which he and his wife once slept happily.
Zurvick makes his way down a flight of stairs from the top floor of the castle and ends up on the level where he last saw London. In a blank haze he is walking down the bloodstained hallways of his home, weaving his way through the bodies of his own countrymen.
These dead men, all of them, whether they fought for the Queen or for Sturgess, their efforts were all for naught because in the end of it all, their souls are just going to be sacrificed for a different cause. There are still people fighting even now, but their figures are all blurry to him and their screams don’t reach him, he can only hear the sound the blood makes under his feet with each step.
He’s in such a daze that even the enemy soldiers pay no mind to him as they don’t see him as a threat, to them he’s just another casualty of mental illness on the battlefield.
He takes a slight turn to the left and sees an even more gruesome sight, dozens of dead bodies tatter the area around London as he walks towards another batch of frightened enemy soldiers.
The Knight is such a force that a group of ten soldiers are scared stiff of him; the men allied with Sturgess have been trying to find a way past him this entire time and every last one of them has failed miserably.
But there is someone brave enough to stand in front of those ten frightened soldiers and confront the Knight. He is Anders Henson, one of the co-conspirators of Sturgess' coup, and the leader of the Royal Guard.
"I don't know who the hell you think you are, but you're blocking the path to my King." Anders said, he wears a bitter frown as he walks towards London.
"Captain!" One of the frightened soldiers behind him shouts as though Anders' appearance is their salvation.
London simply sighs and replies, "Ah, I see. So you're the leader of the pack?"
"Step aside." Anders demands.
"Not until the true King exits that door." London said as he gestures down the hallway leading to the Queen's room.
"Fine then, it's about time I shake off some rust. I haven't fought in a while."
Anders rushes London without another word. He pulls out his sword in full sprint and holds it up above his head for a downwards strike.
London doesn't even flinch, he smoothly takes his right leg and pivots forward. Immediately after that simple motion, a gurgled moan is heard.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you not to blindly charge an enemy? You should've taken your time to at least see what kind of weapon I have."
That weapon, the fencing sword, is sticking into the back of Anders' throat through his mouth.
One must wonder how this happened so fast, Anders certainly wants to know, and London answers.
"I use this sword because it causes confusion in an enemy's depth perception. The blade's thin, very thin, so if you're not careful, you'd think that I was swinging it further away than it actually is."
London twists on the pointed fencing sword and blood gushes out of Anders' mouth. The pain causes the leader of the castle's guard to collapse onto his knee.
"In this case." London continues, "You couldn't judge the space between us by looking at the front of my sword. You probably thought you had plenty of room. That's why when in doubt, you should always look at the arm of the man swinging the sword."
The Knight pushes the blade deeper into his throat and Anders begins to fall back.
"Too bad no one taught you that."
Without any further ado, London pushes his weight into the sword and it skewers through his throat and out the back of his neck. As if that wasn't enough, London swings his sword to the side and sends half of Anders face flying in a gale of blood.
It's definitely overkill, but he only did that because if he pulled straight back out, the blood would've sprayed on his shirt. Instead it sprayed on all the onlooking men who had thought that they were going to be saved by their captain.
London killed him so easily that it sent even more fear into them.
The Knight's glare turns to those men and with it, a few of them make nervous groans as if they've just been spotted by a bear alone in the woods.
And that's when London starts walking towards them. It's obvious what he intends to do once he closes the gap.
Out of the corner of his eye, London catches sight of Zurvick and turns to him. “King Zurvick? What are you doing here so soon?”
Zurvick doesn’t answer and simply walks right on past him and right on past the confused enemy soldiers. London is bewildered as well; he wonders what has put him in such a state and what could possibly be the reason for his separation from his wife at the top floor.
Then it hits him, the many different situations roll through his mind at once and his eyes instantly widen.
He makes his way past the frightened men in pursuit of Zurvick, as he goes he leaves the enemy soldiers with some final parting words.
“The battle’s over.”
The men don’t do anything and just stand there as London runs after Zurvick.
London grits his teeth and has genuine worry in his eyes when he thinks to himself,
(I have a bad feeling about this...)
Ash is at the bottom floor of the castle, her fighting is over because this certain floor, and just about the entire castle has been won over by the rebellion. The remaining enemies still fighting are completely surrounded and it is only a matter of time before they surrender.
The mass of loyal Trojans are already celebrating their hard fought victory, and Ash is no exception. For the most part, this is her first real battle, to have it happen here and for this cause, and to obtain victory is more than fulfilling.
“I can’t believe we did it.” Ash says as she leans up against a staircase somewhat of an exhausted fashion, “We won...”
She smiles wholeheartedly and takes a look around, through the carnage of this morning, happiness has broken through. A new surge of emotion brews in her chest and all she can think about is Zurvick, she figures he’s probably enjoying his reunion with the Queen at this moment, but that won’t stop her.
After taking a deep breath of determination she says to herself, “Alright! Let’s go find him!”
She begins to run up the rather large staircase leading to the upper levels of the castle and weaves her way through a couple people when,
She nails someone straight on.
She barely keeps herself from falling down the stairs and after grabbing the guardrail she instinctively shouts, “Hey watch where you're going!”
That’s when she catches glimpse of the person her verbal assault was directed towards. She recognizes the man, and can tell right away that the life in his eyes is non-apparent, it’s as though she has just ran into a zombie.
“Zurvick!?” she shouts in surprise.
“Damn it all, how the hell could I lose track of him?” London says to himself while squeezing his temples in annoyance. “He’s walking a grand total of no miles per hour for Christ’s sake.”
London is up on the tenth floor of the castle and is quite angered at the fact that he lost track of Zurvick in the fray. Even though he was walking lifelessly and rather slow; he managed to blend in with the thousands of people making their way throughout the castle.
To be perfectly honest, he’s not the only one wearing that kind of face and moving around with that kind of demeanor. None the less, he was still careless, for one of the Knights to get distracted so easily is pretty embarrassing.
Trying to find the stairs down and pushing people out of the way in the process, he stumbles upon a few familiar faces in the crowd. Coming up the clustered stairs is Ebihara Seiri, Haas Avondale, and Lennox Applewood.
Their appearances are completely different from everyone else because they are completely unscathed and have this disinterested air about them whilst everything around them is so hectic.
Lennox shoves a guy out of the way and waves to London. “Yooo! There you are, for a second there I thought we’d never find you in this cluster-fuck of humanity.”
“Now that we have, can we go home now? We’ve won this battle already so there’s nothing keeping us here.” Seiri added.
Haas stays completely silent like usual.
London sighs and pushes up his glasses; his voice turns solemn when he replies, “Something’s telling me that we didn’t win this one...”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sure we’ll find out any moment now.”
Zurvick ignores Ash’s presence and walks right past her as if she were a ghost. He slowly makes his way through all of the cheering Trojans and heads toward the large front door of the castle. The morning sunlight beams through that open door and it makes Ash feel as if he is going to walk into the light and never return.
She immediately pursues him and rushes to his side. “What’s wrong Zurvick!?”
The broken Zurvick just keeps his wide eyed glare directly toward the light in which he is walking to.
With yet another snuff of a reply from him, Ash begins to become angry. When she kicks him about as hard as she can in the shin, and sees that he didn’t even flinch. His reaction is completely different from normal, he should have hit the deck and shouted ridiculously.
Not seeing that reaction, her anger molds into an intense worry.
“Z-Zurvick... Where’s the Queen?”
This question finally gets an answer, but not one that Ash wanted to hear.
After finally reaching the outside of the castle, a cool morning breeze hits them as the light from the sun warms their bodies. The smell of fresh air replaces the smell of blood that runs rampant in the castle.
With the breeze blowing through his hair, he slowly turns to her and answers,
“It’s time.” Satan said as he walks out on the balcony in where Lelaine committed suicide.
About a hundred feet above him is the crow’s nest that holds the Trojan flag atop it; he simply looks up and he begins levitating towards it. Standing impossibly on the thin flag pole, he takes a deep breath and holds his finger out. From above comes a little black orb that floats down and lands on his fingertip.
“Hmmm... Not quite enough yet.” he says as he squeezes the orb in his palm.
He then drops it and it stops its fall directly below his feet. With a snap of his finger, the orb flattens and expands to form a massive pentagram that surrounds the entirety of the castle from above.
This is obviously some kind of seal, and if one looked at it closely, they could see that all the little intricate designs of it hold similarity to the seal used to bind Ubica to the eternal lake during the Apocalypse.
“But I don’t need many more souls to complete this seal. The ones left in the castle should be more than enough.”
With a couple odd hand gestures, Satan then slams his open palm down on the pentagram seal and it turns bright purple.
It begins to spin as he says, “All men in this castle, I hereby claim you as enemies. As punishment, I demand your souls!”
The pentagram seal shoots downwards and makes its way through the castle while spinning.
This pentagram is actually a spell used to consume the souls of the living in mass numbers, once the mass of the pentagram reaches the bottom floor, everyone who survived the gruesome battle for the Queen will be wiped out.
On the tenth floor, London and the other three Knights stand cautiously as a rumbling sound from above makes its way down towards them.
The rest of the men in the hallway are clueless as to what is going on and are continuing to ramble on about their victory. Then a bang is heard so loud from above it actually stops them in their tracks, they all look up like turkeys on a rainy day and wonder what that sound was.
As if answering their worries, a man in a Cardinal's robe rushes down a flight of stairs that led to the next floor.
The man is none other than the spiritual adviser for the country of Troy named Cardinal Luudnt. And the men alongside the Knights instantly recognize him.
They figured that the Cardinal has been in hiding this entire time judging by his unscathed appearance, but the look on his face is absolute fear as he makes his way towards London and the others while shouting,
“RUN, RUN!!! IT’S COMING!!! IT’S--------“
All of the sudden, following him down the stairwell is a massive gust of wind that shatters every window of the hallway in its path. Four or five windows shatter before the wind hits Cardinal Luudnt and a purple orb of light screams out of his mouth, breaking his jaw and taking teeth along with it.
That light then flies through the wind and makes its way back upstairs as if it was vacuumed by something.
This sight was all it took for the remainder of the men to turn away from the ensuing gust of wind and run as fast as possible to the lower floors.
London on the other hand, tries his best to remain calm and turns to the others.
He pushes up his glasses and his usual calm demeanor shatters when he shouts,
“WE NEED TO GET OUT NOW!!!”
The other three don’t ask questions and quickly jump to their right and directly through the closed windows of the hallway. Once out, the rushing wind from inside the castle blows the already broken glass in their direction as they fall and they can only cover themselves as the loud sound of the outside air surrounds them.
They have narrowly avoided having their souls sucked out of them, but they are not out of danger just yet.
And Lennox points this out while the shards of glass chase them as they fall.
“HOLY SHIT THAT’S A LONG WAY DOWN!!!”
“What do you mean she’s gone..?” Ash asks in disbelief.
Zurvick’s face twitches awkwardly for a moment, he turns away from her and begins to walk across the bloodstained bridge over the moat from the battle earlier. He has no intention of going into detail about Lelaine, if possible, he’d like to block the entire thing from his mind somehow; reliving it is just too painful.
Ash doesn’t let him get off easy, she rushes him and again asks, “What do you mean!?!?”
Now Zurvick frowns, he turns to her, grabs her shoulders and shakes her violently. “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK IT MEANS!? SHE’S DEAD! SHE’S FUCKING DEAD!”
Faced with his sudden change of character, Ash is left speechless. She’s never seen such pain in a person’s eyes, she’s never heard such despair in someone’s voice.
The fact that it is him of all people is enough to break her heart.
Zurvick lets go of her and falls to his knees, it would seem that his own words made the reality of his wife’s death all the more realistic. His shoulders drop and his head hangs low as tears start to fall from his eyes for the first time in what seems to be years.
The sobs of the person Ash cares about the most hurts her ears, she had never thought she’d see him in such a state. This is the man that she has only seen smile for as long as she can remember, she now feels that he’ll never smile again; it will be replaced permanently by the expression he’s wearing now.
What can she do to give him back that smile?
What can she say that will help ease his pain?
Is there even anything that can do that?
Ash doesn’t know, and she doubts heavily that her words will even reach him at this moment, but she decides that this is the only thing she can do for him.
She leans down to his level and grabs onto each of his cheeks, she looks him square in the eye and says,
“Listen Zurvick... I lo-----“
A thick, loud base noise is heard from behind them as a severe concussion is felt under their feet. The water of the moat begins to wake as the suspension of the bridge begins to swing a little.
Ash turns around and looks up to see a sight that so far outstretches her length of imagination it’s mind blowing.
Thousands of purple, blue, green, and red orbs float upwards toward the sky, followed by a massive pentagram seal. The little lights seem to scream in agony as they twirl about towards a figure dressed in black and the very tip of the castle.
She doesn’t even have time to think when all the windows of the castle begin popping like balloons.
The shards from the smaller ones can’t reach them; but she is terrified when she catches sight of the largest window of the castle that stretches from the second floor all of the way to the fifth expanding from within and exploding outwards in a great torrent of wind.
The hailstorm of glass is sent on a direct collision course with her and Zurvick.
Some pieces of the falling shards are so big they easily double the size of a human body, if one of these pieces were to hit them they’d be crushed instead of skewered. As if the small shards weren’t deadly enough.
Knowing what comes next, Ash shouts, “ZURVICK LOOK OUT!!!” and dives on him without even thinking.
The two lay on the wooden bridge as the splashes from the shards of the massive window hit the water around them. Then what follows is the sound of the wooden bridge being pelted by the razor sharp shards, it’s as though someone was playing a dart game with their position on the bridge as the board.
From within the fray of all these different noises, a distinct sound is heard. It is the sound of flesh being sliced, followed by a liquid being spilled. Zurvick knows this noise all too well and once the warmth of that liquid is felt on his chest his tongue feels like a ball of cotton.
He takes sharp, deep breaths as the glare from the shard of glass that fell atop them beams his eyes.
Ash slowly gets up and looks around; they are absolutely surrounded by glass protruding from seemingly every spot of the bridge. She then looks to Zurvick, and other than the shocked expression on his face, he is completely fine.
She smiles at him as the light from her eyes begins to fade. “Thank goodness... You’re... Okay...”
Her body falls limp and she collapses on top of him.
Stabbed into her back, is a foot long shard of glass from the window of the castle.
She has sacrificed her body to protect the disgruntled King of Troy, and by the looks of it she has paid the ultimate price.
Zurvick can’t handle this, he can’t watch another person he cares about die right in front of him. He leans up and pulls the glass shard out of her back, and to his dismay, blood squirts everywhere and begins to puddle around their legs.
The usual tanned Ash is losing her color rapidly and becoming as pale as the moon. She is dying in his arms.
He groans as he tries to find a way to beg her to wake up, but he is in such a poor mental state that his brain can’t even configure what words to speak.
All he can do is shake her and look down on her with pleading eyes. When she doesn’t even budge, it hits him again.
This is all his fault.
His wife, his daughter, his country, and now this young girl who’d sacrifice herself to protect such a weak man like him. He can’t lose her too; he refuses to lose her too. But sadly he doesn’t know how not to lose, he has forgotten what it was like when he was able to win and protect others in the process.
He is now completely useless, a helpless man who’s watching everything he’s ever cared about being taken away one by one.
And once Ash is gone, everything is gone.
He’d have lost it all.
He’s only capable of squeezing her limp frame tightly within his arms and letting all of the pent up emotions of guilt, shame, regret, and despair, exit his mouth in a blood curdling cry.
The souls of all the soldiers of the rebellion shine above Satan’s head like stars until he raises his hand and they all begin to swirl and mold into each other.
The souls mix all the way until there are only two orbs left, they have mixed in so much that the pretty colors are now gone and instead are an ugly black, just like the one that formed the pentagram.
Satan holds the two orbs, one in each hand and smiles. He then tosses them to the side and they both float off in opposite directions until landing about a hundred meters away on each side of the castle.
After a few moments of silence, two beams of black energy shoot from the ground and tower into the sky. The two towers are so high it seemingly stands parallel with the mountains that surround the city. The two structures have got to be at least five times the size of the Trojan castle.
These two towers, formed from the two little orbs, have hundreds of windows that stretch all of the way to the top.
Satan spreads his arms and begins to speak, “To every man and every woman of the world, I speak to you in every tongue, to inform you that everything is now under my rule.”
When he says he speaks to every man and woman, and in every language, he is literally doing that. The Archangels have used this very method during the Apocalypse, and in some sense, so did Ubica. Everyone in the world can hear Satan’s voice at this very moment.
“My name is Satan, and I am now your God! Worship me! Pray to me! And I shall give you all that you have ever asked for!”
Out of the windows of the two towers come thousands upon thousands of demons, flying, climbing, falling from the darkness and into the light of the world.
“This is my army! You can all see it can’t you? This is who you’ll be fighting alongside, these are now your allies against Heaven and all that oppose me. But to those who refuse to worship me, this army will be your death!”
Satan showed visions of his army through every human’s mind as he said that, this way they can get a grasp on what is actually happening. This is more or less a way to intimidate them into believing that his words are true; no one in their right mind would be able to refuse the reality of it all after seeing it with their own eyes.
“No one can stop me, I rule this world, I rule all worlds! So join me! Share with me the ownership of this world! All it takes is to accept me as God, and you can indulge yourselves in my spoils! You can have riches, women, fame, your wildest dreams for saying but only a word! For those who still wish to oppose me, my army and I will begin a great purge of the non-believers. I give the world one month to make a decision, for those who haven’t by then, it will be death to you all!”
This has always been his main tactic. Conform or die.
With that jumble of threats, Satan’s message to the world ends and he is left laughing in pleasure as the form of his army begins to multiply in size from behind him.
This is it, this is his time, this is what he’s been waiting over a thousand years to do.
Satan once again has control of this world.
“I’ll tell you what; I’m amazed that we didn’t break any bones after that.” Lennox said while scratching his head in amazement.
The four Knights had all jumped out of a tenth story window and landed on the down-slope of a grassy hillside and slid into the water of the moat. In there they share space with a countless number of dead people as they float unscathed in the blood red water.
“You know, even I can get grossed out. I’d really like to get out of this nasty water.” Seiri said, her misery is written all over her face.
“Moats were made so people can’t get out of them, it might take a while before we find a sewage drain to swim into.” London states.
“Whatever let’s just get going, I’m starting to get uncomfortable with all those weird looking monsters hovering around us.” Seiri responds as she points to the many demons circling the castle.
Perhaps due to them being covered in the blood of dead soldiers and blending in so well, the demons don’t seem to notice them. If they were spotted, it’s likely the demons wouldn’t hesitate to attack them, chances are they are itching to kill someone as of now.
“...Agreed...” Haas struggled to say his first words in a while.
With that, the four of them begin swimming in order to find a way out.
Of course, that is not the only thing on their minds. One thought they are trying not to think about is the fact that they have failed their mission. Their job was to protect the Queen and kill General Sturgess, and looking at what has occurred it is quite obvious that both of those objectives went unaccomplished. It is almost a complete disgrace for them, and the feeling of actually failing has yet to fully sink in because it has never happened before.
And since it hasn’t happened before, they don’t know the protocol of what happens in the aftermath of such a failure.
This prompts Lennox to ask,
“So... What are we supposed to do once we get out of here anyways?”
“That much should be obvious.” London replies as he leads the group through the bloody water of the moat. “We return to La’Juune and prepare for war.”
Down in the most southern point of La’Juune; Celestia, Allia, Olin, and Jessiah are riding back to the Capital through the snow on a lifesaving dogsled. They had heard Satan’s message loud and clear and all stay in silence as the dogs pull them towards their destination.
Jessiah is the first one to break this silence and he does so in a way that makes it seem like he has no clue how dire their situation is.
“What a bunch of losers. How the frig’ did they fail? Four Knights should be more than enough to handle a stupid rebellion.”
The other three don’t respond, in hindsight, they had almost failed as well. They couldn’t count the numerous times they almost died in their battle with Captain Red.
Allia sighs and turns to Celestia to ask, “So what do you think our next orders will be?”
“We fight duh.” Olin answered before Celestia had a chance.
“I wasn’t asking you nimrod.”
Celestia looks very serious when she says, “I don’t know what they’ll be... But I know what I must do.”
“Those weapons back at the plant, I think I figured out how to make them. And something’s telling me that we’re going to need them against this new enemy.”
“So you’re buying into this whole mess with the Devil? I thought you didn’t believe in that stuff.”
“I didn’t, at least not completely until now. I’d be stupid to not believe in Heaven or Hell now that all this happened; it has officially become a fact. That being said, we’re going to fight in a war on a scale this world hasn’t seen since the Anti-Christ’s time. We’re going to need everything we got to win this, so I’m going to make as many weapons as possible for us to fight with.”
For a non-believer, she knows about the Anti-Christ and the happenings foretold in the New Book of Revelations. For the most part, the entire world has heard of that story, and that was one of the reasons why there were so many non-believers. The Battle of Armageddon was simply on a scale too epic for their minds to wrap around.
But now, that stunning story is unfolding itself once more right before their eyes. They have no choice but to deal with it.
Their futures depend on it.
Allia smiles, looks tenderly at her tattered arm and says, “Make me the best weapon possible... With my arm the way it is, I think it’s time to graduate from a bow and arrow.”
Celestia smiles back and replies, “I already have one in mind for you. I’m going to use the same philosophy behind Jeffrey’s rings for it.”
“Something to do with magnets?”
“That’s right, except this just might even make you more of a monster than Jeffrey.”
“Well that’s going to put a fat wrench in our plans.” said Jeffrey as he and the rest await the Eiyalazonian soldiers at the top of the castle.
They were waiting anxiously as they tried to figure out a way they could talk their way out of this mess without being thrown in prison or executed on the spot.
“I can’t believe London and the others actually failed...” Elise replied, completely disappointed.
“I’m sure there were extenuating circumstances, but now’s not the time to be worrying about that. We need to figure out how to handle all this.” Jeffrey says as he glares at his unconscious King and adds under his breath, “Sorry Noah, but I won’t be leading La’Juune after all.”
He then turns to Diana and looks at her square in the eye, she seems genuinely frightened just as most people should be when confronted with a bleak future. He sighs and folds his arms, one can tell he’s in deep thought and the others wait anxiously for his decision.
“Here’s the plan... Elise.”
“When you get back to La’Juune, I want you and London to rule the country.”
“Hah? But what about you? And wouldn’t it be better if I was paired with Celestia instead? I mean, London just failed in Troy.”
“Celestia works on her own pace, I’m guessing she has a plan to make weapons or something. She’s not going to want to lead the country. London on the other hand, is the most qualified out of all of us no matter which way you look at it. He’s the only one capable of thinking many steps ahead and acting accordingly. He’s the closest thing to Noah we have. As for me...”
He turns to Diana and says, “I’ll be staying here with the Queen.”
“Are you kidding? Why in the world would you do that??”
“Think about it Elise, you heard what Satan said right? It is worship him or die. Do you honestly think that this shitty Prince could keep the country united under that kind of pressure? The people will falter and this whole country would be fucked.”
“We need as many allies as possible in this war, and now we all have a common enemy. I’ll be damned if I leave the people of this country out to die. We’re all in this together, so it’s about time we put past grudges in the garbage where they belong and fight for a future.”
Elise understands where he's coming from, she actually thinks that that might have been the coolest thing the normally dry Jeffrey has ever said.
She smiles and pats him on the shoulder rather hard before saying, “If you were a girl I’d totally fall for you.”
“I don’t have anything to say to that.” Jeffrey replies, completely indifferent to her words.
“W-What about me?” Comes the soft voice of Rain from below, she has Noah’s head in her lap and is still quite distraught about everything.
“That’s a good question, I haven’t really thought about that.” Jeffrey answered while scratching his chin.
“Then have you thought about Noah yet?” she asks rather coldly.
“If you mean his funeral, I haven’t.”
“How could you be so cold to your King!?”
“He’s not the King anymore, you heard him shift his power to us before he died right? As far as I’m concerned, all three countries no longer have a single ruler.”
Rain scowls at him and hisses, “He’s still breathing you bastard, he isn’t dead.”
Jeffrey begins to laugh slightly, he throws his hands on his waist and fights back a smile when he responds to her glare. “Alright alright, I’ve seen enough.”
“There’s no point in continuing to give you shit when you can help me.”
“What are you getting at?”
Jeffrey walks up to her and leans to her level, with a straight face he asks, “What would you do to save Noah’s life?”
“Then you are just the right girl for the job.”
He stands back up and walks away from her, he still continues as he begins pacing.
“Remember when I said that we’d need some kind of miracle to keep him alive? What was it again? Oh yeah, killing the one responsible for poisoning him.”
A new light begins brewing in Rain’s eyes as she starts to see where he’s going with this.
“Well that person is here, on Aires, and we are about to fight a war against him. The leader on the losing side of the war usually ends up dying right? So what do you say we win this thing and wake Noah up?”
Determination boils in her chest as she shouts, “What can I do!?”
“You are going to go back to La’Juune with Noah and Elise. From my understanding you are one of, if not the best Battle Strategist in the world. We could use your talents on our side, you will be the leading Strategist for all of La’Juune.”
“Do you really have that much faith in her?” Elise asks skeptically.
“I do. You can see it in her eyes, she’ll do anything for Noah. Even more than we ever could.”
“Thank you.” Rain bows, “I promise I’ll wake him up.”
“Good... With that, I think we’re ready to get the preparations underway. Diana, come with me, we have a lot of shit to talk about; it hurts my head to think about all the political nonsense we’re going to have to go through to get the other Royals of this country on board.”
“Ahhh Jeff, I like that.” he says with a pleased smile. He’s wanted the others to call him that all along but everyone strongly rejected it for whatever reason.
Diana follows Jeffrey but she hesitates when she looks back to the unconscious Dice.
Jeffrey answers her look by saying, “Leave Dice here, the medics will tend to him once the soldiers get here.”
She runs to his side and the two get to the door leading to the innards of the castle, he lets her in first and turns to the others to leave them with some final words.
“We have one month until the war of all wars starts. I’ll be doing my part here; you two make sure that La’Juune is ready to put a serious hurting on that bastard by then.”
Both Elise and Rain salute him and reply in unison,
In Hell, on the shore of a certain massive swirling lake, stands Damien with a confident smile on his face.
As if sensing Damien’s presence, Leviathan appears from the swirling torrent of agony that he calls home and stands atop it as if there was nothing below him.
“Judging by the look in your eyes, I can see that you are pleased about something.” Leviathan said.
“What a good eye you have... Would you like to know?”
“Does it involve me?”
“It involves everyone allied with me, so if you are on my side, then yes it does.”
Leviathan walks onto the shore and says, “After messing around with Ubica a little, I’ve come to the realization that what’s best for us, is your plan for him. If that means I’m allied with you over your father, then so be it.”
“Good, I actually came here in regards to some news about my father.”
“You’re one of the very few people that know of my true intentions, so I’m sure I’ve told you of my prediction on what my father was going to do about a vulnerable Earth after the abductions.”
“He was going to rise a portion of Hell’s army right?”
“Yes, and he’s done that, just as I thought he would. He has half of his power in that human container up on Earth whilst the other half of his power resides in his real body here in Hell.”
Leviathan’s interest is piqued. He wants to know what is in store for the future and asks, “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to continue things as originally planned. It is what you are going to do is what's going to matter most.”
“Oh? And what might that be?”
“Get my father to Purgatory...”
In the familiar room with the checkered floor, Satan sits on his throne with the chessboard resting in front of him. On it shows that there are many white pieces left whilst there is only one black piece. But that one black piece is all that was needed to win the game.
With his bright red eyes he glares at the game and a deep chuckle forms in the back of his throat.
“Hehehe, Noah you foolish child. You should have known that no man can oppose me. You were never going to win this game.”
He moves his black King piece and knocks over the white King piece, sending it off the table and bouncing onto the marble ground.
“With this, the world is now mine...”
His deep chuckle makes way for a heavy laugh as he leans back in his chair and lets the glory of his victory sink in. He’s finally accomplished something that took thousands of years to fulfill; he now has an able body on the face of Earth.
Only this time, he doesn’t have to worry about the interference of Angels because they’re all dead.
He doesn’t have to worry about Jesus interfering because he’s stuck in Purgatory.
He doesn’t have to worry about God because for the most part, God never does anything in the first place.
But most importantly, he doesn’t have to worry about Ubica any longer because in his mind, Ubica will be killed and Dantega will be rid of forever before he even gets a chance to see the light of the Earth again.
This is an absolute victory, and there is nothing here to hold him back any longer.
His hysterical laugh is followed by a quick kick of the chessboard in front of him, the pieces and the board fly off everywhere but it seems to add to his already loud laugh.
During this moment of bliss he realizes that he hasn’t said the words that are used after a victorious chess battle like icing on a cake.
His eyes shine brighter than ever before as he stands to his feet and shouts,