|Angels of Saura II
Author: Jubilant Sleep PM
The secret of Zinnia, an old trinket belonging to Kyran and Aries's father, lay dormant in the mesmerizing alternate reality at the very depths of the Great Bastion of Apollo.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 15 - Words: 68,851 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 05-03-09 - Published: 11-29-07 - Status: Complete - id: 2444774
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jade Rose I: Angels of Saura
Secret of Zinnia
Chapter 14: Burden
Everything appeared to occur all at once. The rockets from General Heaton's launchers shot forth towards the enemy airships. Advanced weaponry from the enemy airships released a constant ring of deadly fire onto vehicles, mines, and everything else that promised an explosion on contact. As the rockets hit their mark, the enemy airships dipped and spun wildly, threatening to nosedive on top of whatever and whoever was in their path. Anti-Sera soldiers leaped from the emergency exit, some with parachutes and some without. Their bodies dropped like insects caught in a flame and many of them perished as they landed in the flame that resulted from prior detonations.
One of the airships crashed into the entrance of Varendil, breaking a hole through the wall and tipping one of the towers just enough for it to lean forward and tumbled down onto the unlucky souls in the battlefield beneath. General Heaton's tent was among its range, but he and his men had abandoned it long ago. The airship sat for a while before fires began to trickle from it. It then burst into thousands of metal shards that sprayed over the soldiers as a deadly rain. The other airships set off blasts of their own as they were reduced to scrap metal.
Soon enough, the entire battlefield was engulfed in smoke and Vivia could hardly make out anything within three feet of her. She had also lost sight of Antony in all of the commotion. Nevertheless, this was only the beginning. Nothing could have prepared them for the turmoil to come.
At first, Vivia heard a shrill ringing at her ears similar to the sensation she felt when Tia appeared with the Alcinda. Then the ground began to rumble beneath her feet as if the very core of the planet shifted violently and threatened to break apart. She was thrown to her knees, almost landing atop a pile of deceased but she extended her arms to cushion her fall beside them. Before she could even make a move, a thunderous sound accompanied by hot rays of white crashed over everyone and everything in sight. It was even more powerful than what had occurred prior. Every soldier who had not fallen from the quaking ground immediately hurtled to the ground. Another ring of explosions ensued from the blasts, leaving Vivia wondering if any equipment would be spared in the end.
All sounds ceased after the mystifying white rays passed over and wreaked their havoc. Vivia raised her head, ignoring the pain her neck, and looked up over the pile of debris and bodies before her to find that a vast majority of the soldiers on both sides did not stir. All at once, her heart fell at the thought of her friends. No matter how many times she had been warned of the aftermath of battle and the loss of friends, she could never accept the deaths of those close to her. She pushed against the ground in order to bring herself into a sitting position. Her sore legs would not allow her to stand just yet, nor would she have wanted to at the sight that lay before her.
Hundreds of piles of bodies and debris of varying sizes covered the field in what appeared to be the aftermath of a week-long confrontation. She had never seen the body count so high in so short a period of time. Overhead, a few dragons worked to cough up whatever powers they had left, but eventually spiraled headfirst into the dirt beneath them. Aries soared high in the distance, using his dark sword to cut back whatever creatures dared to lift their arms against him after the explosion. However, even he seemed to be tiring.
Soon enough, several soldiers began to stand. The Anti-Sera soldiers foolhardily fired their weapons at Aries and were met with several devastating blasts of his dark elemental strength. The remaining LI soldiers who were able to fight joined him in the middle of the battlefield with their firearms aimed at whomever and whatever still represented a threat to their efforts. General Heaton was among them with his heavy rifles, unleashing deadly and repetitive fire.
"Vivia," the voice came from behind her.
She turned her head to find Antony, his pale and youthful face smeared with soot and caked with the blood from small incisions in his face. He offered her his hand, unable to conceal his glee.
"We're not dead yet," he declared.
Vivia nodded with a small smile and took his outstretched hand into her own.
Blades of brittle grass grazed at Tia's cheeks as she opened her eyes to find herself lying in the woods among the ruins that were once the ominous towers. A sky darkened by smoke, water and blood loomed before her weary eyes. Dull aches throbbed at her every limb even before she made any movements. Her right hand had gone numb and squeezed shut around the necklace. She could feel it seething at the bandages from before. It would rip her to pieces, but she could not let it go. Kyran had to have been nearby, unless…
With a heavy grunt she pulled herself up onto her knees and pressed her free hand against the spiky grass in order to balance her body. Though it pained her neck to do so, she looked left, right, and up to the sky. Kyran was nowhere to be found. Something inside of her wanted to believe that he was dead, but she would not have truly accepted that until she viewed his mauled body lying in a pool of blood. And even then, she would doubt authenticity. Her last memory was within the tower. As soon as she closed her fingers around Zinnia, everything went blank. She imagined that the feedback from her disturbing the multitude of light energy surrounding the area might have caused the reaction. Whatever the case, it was enough to destroy the tower they were in as well as the towers surrounding it. Many of the trees had fallen as well. Tia herself did not survive the explosion unharmed.
She came to the discovery that, as if she had returned to the Void, she could not feel her legs. In addition to this, unlike the Void, she could not move them. They did not feel broken. They did not feel at all. The strange feeling slowly crept up her thighs and her waist, threatening to engulf her entirely. Soon she would be frozen in place. Yet, she could not let it go. She felt a bond with Zinnia, an intimate connection that she did not experience even with the enrichment ring given to her by Angela. It was a feeling that she could not describe. Conflicting emotions of pain, triumph, delight, and misery flooded into her mind all at once.
Suddenly, she thought of the hospital. If the blast grounded the towers and the trees, it must have caused some hefty damage to the hospital. The people inside could not have possibly survived. She gritted her teeth, sensing a moistness form at the corners of her eyes and leak down her cheeks. Then she glanced down at the fierce glow cradled protectively within her frozen fist. It had caused her and the people around her nothing but pain since she retrieved it from the Void.
She had been under the impression that Zinnia would put a stop to the wars, or at least offer aid to the purpose of the LI. If she had known beforehand the trauma that would befall the people of Eie on account of that wretched trinket, she would never have risked her life for it. Yet, still, she could not let go. She did not wish to, especially now that she knew of its terrible power. She wanted to keep it safe within her grasp so that it would bring no more harm to anyone else. It was her burden, now. She would take it as far away from everyone else as she could. It would stay with her even in death.
Since she could not move her legs, she flattened her body against the ground and used her free arm to slide her body along the hardened ground. The dead blades of grass cut at her exposed flesh like ruthless quills. She cursed herself for not having the ability to suffer their sting. Rows and rows of broken trees lie ahead of her, and she knew not where she had intended to go.
Away from Geval. Away from the war. Away from the people. As far away as she could possibly drag herself. No longer would she stand for Zinnia's wrath. The innocent people of Eie did not deserve the suffering that she put them through. As she advanced slowly yet surely deeper into the woods, the thought entered her mind that they all would have been spared if she had never joined the LI. If she had stayed at the boarding school in Orinda, if she had never written that letter, the people of Geval would still be alive.
Just like that dream.
The rotting corpses, the familiar faces, drifting down the river into the sea of blood as she watched, unable to vanquish the indifference in her heart. This was why she did not care. It was all her fault that they died. She knew it was going to happen, she must have. Yet, she did not prevent it.
I've betrayed them. I've betrayed Aries.
His smiling face flashed into her mind, stabbing her with guilt and uncertainty. Every time she thought of Aries, she died a little in her heart. He had been so good to her, and yet she failed him time and time again. Her retrieval of Zinnia had been her biggest failure yet. How could she face him after this? She squeezed her eyelids shut, attempting to banish the thought of Aries from her mind. Nothing would bring them together again, for the good of mankind. She would not hurt them any longer.
A pair of black boots landed before her, breaking into her thoughts. Immediately, she assumed it to be Kyran, back to claim what he had deemed his own. She knew that he would not let her get far.
"Let it go," the voice was not Kyran's, nor did it belong to Aries. Nonetheless, something about that voice rang familiar to her. A familiar softness. "Tia."
She was unable to lift her neck high enough to look upon the man's face. He must have been able to sense this, for he brought himself down onto his knees and extended a leather-gloved hand towards her, gesturing at the silver chain spilling from her motionless, wounded fist.
"I know you're afraid," he continued. "I know you're in pain. But you have to trust me."
Twisting her head to the side allowed her to meet the soft gray eyes of the man she had taken for dead since Nessa. From the bandages over the exposed, pale skin on his arm she knew that he must have been severely injured from the battle that he had with Eron. Apart from his physical injuries, there was an unusual look on his face, different from his usual distant, stony glare. Now, he appeared before her as a new person, one who harbored within his soul the same fear that she herself had had all along.
"I…can't…" Tia was unsure if the words came from her lips or drifted across her mind as a sheer plea. Either way, Marik heard her.
He moved his hand carefully underneath her fist. She knew that he would not force it from her grasp. It was up to her. It was always up to her.
I'm only asking that you decide.
She looked desperately up at him, at a loss for what to do. Aries, Kyran, Zinnia, the war. She no longer believed that she understood anything about either of them. Everything fogged in and out of her mind, throbbing as if it would burst at any given moment. Something within her always knew that she could not save the people of Eie with Zinnia, and yet she made the attempt of her own foolish accord. The only punishment left for her was to perish. However, as she looked into Marik's face, she could not help but yearn for a second chance.
With all of the strength that she could muster, she worked at releasing Zinnia, her fingers slowly, agonizingly unfolding. As the air made contact with her raw flesh she felt her eyes swell with tears. Her senses were returning to her body along with her emotions. All at once, they distended within her and as soon as Zinnia dropped from her palm and into Marik's leather glove, she freed herself of them all. She collapsed onto the dead grass, her uncontrollable sobs thwarting her breathing. A gentle hand fell over her head.
"You're not alone."
Dead. They were all dead. Outside, they were dead, at least. Inside, they crawled and raved like wild animals. So, outside she went. She wanted so badly to get away from the crying and screaming. Away. Into the abyss. Her home had been destroyed. Those who would defend it had fallen. They were all dead. In the dark of the night, she could not see any promise of movement. Crushed metal, the final sputtering of the once blazing flames, bodies. There were so many bodies. And yet, there was no moon.
Her dark eyes focused in on the ebbing light that would have been the moon, but it was concealing itself from her behind rows upon rows of gray. It would not allow her that privilege. It had betrayed her for quite some time now.
"Why do you hide?" she asked of it. She smiled and extended her thin arm towards it. "Don't you want me to help? Help them? They need me. You know that they do."
No response. Not even a flicker of acknowledgement from beyond the deep gray.
Recoiling her arm, she fell to her knees and broke into a fit of sobs. Ever since she had failed her mission, her bond with the moon had never been the same. She had too long been locked away, separated from its tantalizing glow. Even after the evil creatures allowed her outside of her holding cell, even after she sat for entire nights gazing up at that pale blue orb lost among sprinkles of stars, it ignored her.
"Why do you hate me now? Why have you broken me so?"
She dug her nails into the rough dirt, enjoying the grainy feeling against her vulnerable flesh. So warm, so soothing to the touch. She lowered her face into the dirt and sniffed it. The scent of their blood was still fresh. But it was not enough. There was meant to be more. What would the angels think of their Protector, shriveled up so helplessly? They would hate her. Abandon her as the moon had. It would be far too much for her to bear. She twisted her fingers around several clumps of dirt and caressed her face with them. Dust, grime, and a moist red much smoothed over her skin. No more tears. Only blood.
"I will not disappoint you."