|The Ending Reign (Sequel to The Willow Weeps)
Author: J.K. Weaver PM
Thirty-Five years have past since Ariel became Queen, she has been training... a lot. Trying to prepare for the battle that is imminent. The first shot has just been fired, monsters are washing up on the beaches. Lysis is attacking, little does Ariel know but the attack has even spread to Earth. The fate of every world in existence rests in the balance. The war has begun.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 23 - Words: 79,208 - Reviews: 34 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-19-13 - Published: 12-17-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3083675
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Guys I am so sorry for how long it took to update this chapter... I wish I could just be like, "College is crazy," but in all honesty this was just laziness, and I truly apologize. In the future, if I am taking too long to update or something, please feel free to PM-spam me yelling at me to update. I will not hate you at all you have my blessing.
17. Lysis Swings Back
A Little Over Two Weeks AA.
The guard spent days searching the castle for the map that Augur had told Pariah about. He was dead set on finding it, although the others were a little less than enthusiastic. After searching for almost a week and having nothing to show for it, they were really losing hope.
"How do you know he was even telling the truth?" Emery asked.
"He knew all about Ariel, he knew she wasn't from Sabine, he knew about the Gensho."
"And that makes him an honest person? You said yourself, he was a scary-looking guy. Most scary-looking people aren't very trustworthy."
"Hey, that's profilin'!" Raiden yelled.
"Shut up Raiden," Emery replied. He listened. "Look, we have been searching for days and found nothing, is it possible that this guy works for Lysis and told you this just to distract us?"
Pariah looked down at the stone floor, thinking.
"Okay, okay. It is possible, but I have a feeling that he was telling the truth, I just know it."
"You have a feeling? And you're gonna let this feeling distract you and possible cost us precious time?"
"Emery, I know it sounds crazy, but ever since Ariel gave us this power," he paused, "I-I've been having feelings."
"Okay, so you're a real boy now, big whoop."
"No, you don't understand. Everything that happened after Ariel, all the things that we fought, that we did, I felt them. Like I knew they were going to happen before they actually did. I-I can't explain it."
"Dude, why didn't you say this before?" Jaden asked.
"Because, I didn't think you'd believe me."
"Man, you can breath fire, Shi can go invisible, Raiden almost matters! With all those impossible things happening you think we wouldn't believe this?"
"Hey! I resent that!" Raiden yelled. They ignored him.
"I'm sorry, I don't know why I didn't bring it up sooner."
"If you believe this man and have a feeling like you say you do, then, I think I speak for everyone when I say, we believe you." He walked up to his friend and put an arm over his shoulder. Pariah looked up and smiled at him.
"No problem, now, we need to buckle down, start thinking like Ariel. If we were a crazy, fire/fun-loving Queen, with the temperament of a ten year-old, where would we hide a secret map?"
"In her room!" Raiden yelled.
"We checked there like five million times. We emptied it and turned everything inside out, it's not there," Emery replied. She turned to Shiloh, "You knew her best Shi, where do you think she would have hidden it?"
Shiloh looked up, her impossibly big brown eyes staring at Emery. "Well, I don't think you're gonna like my thought."
"Doesn't matter, what is it?" she asked.
"In her room," she said, immediately throwing her gaze back to the floor to avoid the disdain Emery would show.
Emery didn't get upset though, she softened her voice and stepped closer to Shiloh, "Hun, we just said we checked there already, we didn't find it."
"I know we checked it, but we didn't check it like Ariel would have checked it."
"What do you mean?"
"I know!" Raiden chimed in.
"What?" Emery asked.
"Follow me," he said, waving towards the Queen's room. They walked together through the halls to her quarters. When they got there, a feeling of bittersweet nostalgia fell over them. The room reminded them of the good times they had with their Queen, but it also reminded them that she was gone. They tried brushing off the feeling, but only succeeded in suppressing it.
"Okay Shi, how do we search like Ariel?"
Shiloh took time to survey the room. It was a mess, after they searched it, they neglected to clean up. She took a deep breath, "We have to put it back."
"What do you mean?"
"We have to clean the room up, put everything back the way that Ariel had it."
Raiden moaned a moan of disapproval. Emery shot him a scowl. She nodded her approval at Shiloh's suggestion and the team started picking up the pieces.
After a couple hours of cleaning and reorganizing based on memory, they stood back and looked at the room as a whole. Then they turned to Shiloh, looking for more answers. She was busy studying the room. It looked just like it had before they searched it. The massive bed against the wall surrounded by two end tables, the over-sized circular rug in the center of the room, and the floor to ceiling, entire wall covering, bookcase that was opposite the bed. These were the main features of the room, there were other doors that led to the bathroom and closet, but they weren't as important. Shiloh felt something in this room particularly. She just had a feeling, like she could hear Ariel talking to her. She wished she would speak up.
She started walking around, like she was trying to get a better radio signal. The others just stood in the corner and watched her. She stopped at the foot of the bed, staring at it. It was perfectly made, not a wrinkle could be found on the blankets, like they had been ironed into their current state. Shiloh shook her head at the neatness and started yanking the blanket up but then paused and turned to Jaden. "Hey bud, can I get a hand?"
"What do ya need, girl?" he responded.
"Lift this please."
"No problem." He curled his fingers around the underside of the bed and lifted, the bed came up fairly easily. In their prior search they didn't really go near the bed, they spent most of their time on the bookcase, where they found nothing. Jaden held the bed up with one arm as Shiloh walked underneath it. There was a lot of dust under the bed, so much that there was a visible outline of where the bed was on the ground. Shiloh bent down and started to brush the dust away, revealing the beige stone below. Then she saw something. She uncovered a black line, she began sweeping faster until she uncovered what appeared to be a sentence, written in horribly child-like handwriting. It read, "Hey diddle diddle, can you solve this riddle?"
"What the heck?" said Jaden. The others walked over to see what they had found.
"Is that Ariel's handwriting?" Pariah asked.
"Practically illegible nonsense?" asked Emery, "Yeah, definitely Ariel."
"What does it say, Sis?" Raiden asked.
"It's a riddle."
"How do you know?" Pariah asked.
"It says, 'Hey diddle diddle, can you solve this riddle?'"
"So, yeah, I think it's a riddle."
"That's an awful riddle, there's no clues or anything, how the heck does she expect us to solve it?"
"You don't know the answer?" Shiloh replied, shocked.
"No?" Emery responded, "Why do you?"
"Yeah, it's easy."
"Okay, what is it?"
Emery looked dumbfounded. "Excuse me, but I seem to be at a loss to how that makes any sense whatsoever."
"I knew Ariel very well," said Shiloh.
"Better than any of us," Raiden replied.
"Exactly. She is wayyy too lazy to come up with a riddle. She would have either used one she knew or just wrote something random whose answer was just something she loved, and what did Ariel love more than anything?"
"Fire," they all said, nodding their heads at the oddly logical deduction.
"Okay," Emery began, "So we know the answer is fire. How does that help us?"
"Hold on, let me think." Shiloh got out from underneath the bed. "Jaden you can put it down now, thank you."
"No prob, Shi."
She continued walking around the room, thinking. Her body whirled back around to face them again. "Jaden! I need you again."
"Aw, why is always Jaden?" Raiden whined.
"Because, obviously, I am better than you. Accept it," he laughed. "Alright, Shi what do you need me to do now?"
"You want me to punch something?"
"No!" she yelled. "I just need your fist to be on fire."
"Alright." He lit up his fist and held it above him. "What now?"
"Uh, just kind of walk around the perimeter of the room."
"I don't know, but what do we have to lose?"
"True." He put his fist near the stone wall and started walking around the room, nothing was happening. He stopped at the bookcase and turned back to Shiloh, "You want me to go over the bookcase too?"
"Yup, if you don't mind."
"Not at all." He continued his sweep, just as he was approaching the end of the bookcase, another light appeared. Jaden didn't notice it, but everyone else did. Some weird bright aura appeared around one of the books on the shelf.
"Stop!" they yelled.
"We saw something."
"Okay." He walked backwards, keeping the flame from touching the wooden shelves.
"Stop! There!" Jaden froze and looked at the bookcase. He saw the book they had seen, and pulled it out.
"It's a book of poems, or something. There's a crease on one of the pages. It's a poem called 'Dreams of a Willow, Weeping,' holy crap I remember this thing!"
"Yeah, she used to quote that thing all the time," Emery responded.
"What was the line she kept saying over and over?" Pariah asked, trying to remember it.
Jaden cleared his throat and read from the book, "'With this ghost, I'm forced to wrestle, with my body, but a vessel. Alas, a vessel, if made only for this spirit's reaping!'" He shook his fist as he read. "She used to say that one all the time."
"Yeah, it kind of freaked me out," said Raiden.
"Why did she like that one so much?" Emery asked.
"I don't know," Shiloh responded, "But I read that poem a lot, she let me borrow the book to read through it. Can I see?" she asked.
"Sure." Jaden walked over and handed it to her.
She scanned the page, looking over the words. "She told me this was her favorite stanza, I think I know why."
"How do you know?" Jaden asked.
"Listen to what it says, 'Salvage me from my dormant life, and please revoke me of my strife. For fear that this battle is never stopping, never ceding. Everlasting suff'ring and spite. Sadly fighting a foolish fight, until it's all but dull and trite. Lost faith, my mind fatiguing, my memories relinquished gone, forever, none left worth keeping. Snatched by the willow, weeping.'" As soon as she finished reading the stanza, she heard a loud creaking sound coming from behind her. Shiloh turned around to see a section of bookcase had opened, like a door.
"Holy crap!" Raiden yelled.
"I guess that was her favorite passage," Jaden replied.
"Do you think she thought this? Like about the Gensho and Lysis?" Shiloh asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Like the poem, it says stuff like, 'Sadly fighting a foolish fight.', 'Lost faith,' 'Fear that this battle is never stopping, never ceding.' Do you think she looked at the battle like that? Like she lost hope or something? She was always happy around us, but, I don't know."
"No, Sis, what were you going to say?"
"I don't know, like, what if it was a facade or something? Like she would just act happy around us so we wouldn't think anything was wrong?"
"No, she was way too happy to've been harboring a secret depression," said Pariah.
"I don't know, Pariah," Emery interjected. "Think about it, when she was fifteen, she was kidnapped and brought here, she had a life, a sister even, and one day that was all just gone and suddenly she had to rule a nation with the weight of a seemingly impossible war looming overhead? To be honest, I'm flat-out amazed she could even smile."
"I guess when you put it like that. But, she wasn't a normal person! She was special, she was the most powerful person in existence."
"Yeah, you put that much pressure on one person? They're bound to crack."
"She put that pressure on us, technically," Jaden pointed out.
"She put it on all of us, so that we could share the pressure. So that we have people to talk to about it, she didn't have anyone. Yeah, she had us, but she couldn't talk about the Gensho or the battle with us, how would we have even begun to understand what she was going through? She gave us all this power so that we could go through it together, so that we would have someone's shoulder to rest on. She passed it to us because she couldn't take it anymore, and I can't blame her for it at all."
"She didn't even tell me about any of this," Shiloh added, "I was utterly shocked when she told us about it when she gave us her powers."
"I guess I understand," Pariah said.
"Well, there's just one thing to do now."
"What's that?" Raiden asked.
They all turned at him with looks of disbelief on their faces.
"We have to go in the bookcase..." Emery said, annoyed that she had to waste her breath saying those words.
Shiloh walked through the bookcase, the rest of the guard following close behind her. It led to a small, almost empty room. There were only five things in this room, four large, bowl-shaped sculptures in each corner, and a square table in the center. As soon as they were all inside, the door behind them slammed shut and the four bowls erupted in flame. Then the far wall started changing. It looked like something was being formed, words. The wall read, "Eight Queens rule the land of Ninevah, they bicker and fight over their borders all the time. Only when these Queens are kept apart can the kingdom finally live in peace."
Then, eight tiny figurines appeared on the table in front of them. They walked over to it. The table had an eight by eight grid on it, with squares of alternating colors, black and red. The eight figurines were positioned one at each corner and two couples on each side. The words remained on the wall.
"Another riddle? I thought you said she was too lazy!" Jaden complained.
"I said she was too lazy to come up with her own, something tells me she stole this one from something."
"Well how are we supposed to figure this out?" Raiden asked.
"I don't know, I've never seen this thing before."
"Oh! I know!" Pariah yelled.
"What?" Shiloh asked.
"It's a game! She taught me how to play this... it's called, um, chess, I think."
"Okay, do you remember how to play?"
"Sorta, I don't remember there ever being eight Queens though."
"How many were there?"
"There were two, but there were like twenty other pieces. Each piece can only move on the board in a specific way, and if a piece moves onto the same square that another one is on, that piece gets taken or something. Hold on let me think." He stared at the board, concentrating on the pieces in front of him. "Okay, Queens can move diagonally, vertically, and horizontally, as many squares as they want. The riddle says that they have to be kept apart to keep the land in peace."
"Ha! Piece - Peace! That's awesome!" Raiden laughed.
Pariah turned around and scowled at him, "I doubt that she meant that as some kind of pun."
"I like to think that she did."
"Whatever, may I concentrate now?"
He went back to studying the board. "We have to make it so that they can't take each other." He started picking up pieces and moving them around, dragging their bases in lines across the checkered board. He continued moving them, rearranging them, shaking his head and starting over. Finally his eyes bulged, "I got it!" He started moving the pieces around putting each one in their own column and row. Once the last Queen was put in place, another rumbling sound was heard. They looked up to see the wall that previously displayed the riddle on it, had opened.
"Another room, let's hope there isn't another riddle, or I'll complain," Raiden said, as they entered the new room.
This room was slightly smaller than the previous one. Its walls were lined with more bookcases that went floor to ceiling. There were thousands of dust covered books filling the shelves. The floor was covered with trinkets and other random objects. Towards the back wall of the room stood a podium, it was made of a deep cherry wood. Shiloh walked up to it, stepping over the various items on the floor, the others seemed more interested in the trinkets than the podium.
"Dude, Jaden, our wooden swords!" Raiden shouted, picking up the tiny fake sword that was on the ground. "Man, remember we used to fight everyday with these things."
"Yeah, and I would always whoop your ass."
"Emery look," Raiden pointed to a spot on the ground, there was a small wooden bow leaning up against the bookcase-wall. "Isn't that your old bow?"
She walked over to it and picked it up, examining the old wood. It was worn and covered with dust. She blew on the handle, letting a small cloud escape into the air. Her name was carved in the wood in her childish handwriting.
"She kept all of our childhood toys, Shi, even your blankie's here."
Shiloh shushed her brother.
"What?" He walked up behind her to see what she was looking at. On the podium sat a small book, it was bound in dust-covered black leather. It was held shut by an elastic band that was wrapped around the cover. Shiloh picked it up with shaky hands. She removed the band and opened it, the pages were browning with age, but the writing was fresh, there was even a distinct crease in the spine that opened to a random page in the middle of the book. There was writing, the same kind of chicken scratch that was underneath the bed. Shiloh turned to face the group, but kept her eyes locked on the open book. Her voice quivered as she spoke, the team could hear the tears she was holding back as she read.
"Hello, if you are reading this, then I am dead. If I'm not, I'm going to find and beat you little brats for breaking into my room and going through my things! But, I probably am. It's sad, I know. I'm sure you mourned me for thirty years like I made you promise when you were three, but there are more important things to worry about than little old me. Now, as soon as I figured out what needed to be done to defeat Lysis (I'm hoping I told you all about this and stuff otherwise we're all screwed.) I ran up here to write this little last will thing (Luckily I memorized that Queen riddle [Forewarning, there will be many parenthesis in this thing.])"
The team laughed.
"You better have laughed at that. Now, I know you probably hate me for all the riddles (especially the first one) but it was the only way to make sure that no one else would find this room. I also trust that Raiden discovered the Piece-Peace pun in the last room-"
"Ha! Told you Pariah! I know my puns!"
"Shut up, dude."
Raiden stuck his tongue out.
Shiloh continued, "Now, I haven't been completely honest with you guys, and I know that must hurt. I'm sorry, but there are just somethings that I couldn't really share. They were my burdens to bear, not yours, and I couldn't live with myself if I just handed them over to you. It wouldn't've been right. But, I kind of have no choice now do I? I apologize for dropping this whole war in your laps, I know it can't be easy, but I know you can do it. I've been with you since day one, you are much more capable than I ever was.
All I can do is leave you this, a last little book to try to help you and maybe give you some kind of guidance or closure. (Plus, isn't it freaky that you are like getting this message from the grave?) Where should I start?
You know that I am not from Sabine, you know that I have the Gensho. You didn't know about the war or Lysis or anything like that, you didn't know that to get to where I was, I had to train with Corvus, the evil man that once ruled this land. And what's worse is you didn't know that he was right. His whole tyrannic rule wasn't just for senseless killing. He was sending ships to an island off the coast of Krasta, ships full of people, people that he sacrificed to Lysis. If it wasn't for these sacrifices, Sabine, everywhere probably, wouldn't exist. He was keeping Lysis at bay, all the while (brutally) preparing the people for the war that was going to happen. I don't agree with what he did, I killed him for it when I was a kid. But back then I didn't understand. I do now. I really do now.
Either way, there's no going back. We have to make do with what we have, and what we have is you five. I know how terrifying it can sound but the fate of everything rests in your hands and yours alone. I'm sorry. I really am. I wish there was some other way. God if I haven't looked for some alternative, but there is none. Underneath this book, you'll find a map. It's a map of Sabine and the island that contains Lysis. You have to go there, you have to defeat him. I don't know how but you have to.
God, even as I'm writing what could quite possibly be the last words you ever hear from me, I'm still lying. No, I can't. I have to tell you the truth. The whole truth."
Shiloh turn the increasingly tear-riddled pages, Ariel had written a lot, the whole team was feeling the gravity of the situation hitting them at once. Not a single eye was dry. Shiloh looked at the page but couldn't muster up the strength to read what was written.
"Shi, are you okay?"
She broke down and shook her head through dry heaves and sobs. Raiden went over and put his arm around her, he took the book and put it into Emery's open hand. He walked Shiloh away from the podium and to the corner and sat with her with his arms around her.
"Should I keep reading?" Emery asked.
"Yeah," Raiden replied.
Emery took a deep breath and tried to sound as unmoved as she could, "I have to tell you the truth. The whole truth. You don't have what it takes to defeat Lysis. I don't know how I know but I do. You just can't. This is our only chance, I mean, I know for a fact that I can't defeat him, and I know that our best chance at survival lies in you. But there's still a feeling that I can't shake, and God knows I want to. You can't do it. You can't.
That doesn't mean you don't try though. I swear to the Gensho himself, if you read these words and just give up or don't try, I will come out of my grave and throw you to that island. Just because something can't be done, doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted. Look at the Bible! It is downright stupid and impossible to try to feed 5,000 people with just a couple fish and loaves of bread, who the hell likes fish? But just because it's impossible doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried. Maybe you guys are Jesus, maybe you can save this world (Hey look how that analogy worked out!) Maybe you can prove me wrong. I hope you can. I pray you can. Please, if you do anything at all after reading this. Prove me wrong."
Emery shut the book, letting dust fly from its pages. "I believe we have a mission to complete."
"Hell yeah we do," Jaden replied.
"Grab the map, we're sailing tonight."
Jaden carefully pocketed the map and the team exited the secret rooms. They made their way through the castle and to the courtyard to assemble a team to sail them to the island. They were surprised to see the soldiers lined up in battle formation with the General giving them orders. They were all in armor and had swords and weapons all over them. Emery walked up to the General. "Sir, what is going on? I don't recall this extensive of a training exercise being scheduled for today."
"That's because it's not a training exercise ma'am. Limani is under attack. Hundreds of I-Don't-Know-Whats just started flooding the streets and attack the people, some even leveling buildings. We sent a messenger to tell you but, well, I guess that's unneeded now."
"I'll say, we'll head there now, thank you for the information, and thank you for your commitment to go into battle without us. You truly are the best soldiers we could have asked for."
"It's our job ma'am. We'll see you on the battlefield. Hail Sabine, Land of Ariel!"
The soldiers got their armor on quicker than ever, not wanting to waste any time. They had no idea what they were up against, all they knew was that there were Lysis's monsters and hundreds of them attacking the city. They never fought more than one at once, so the fact that there were hundreds scared them a little, but they didn't care. They were on such a high from the words of their Queen they could do anything. They ran to Lamani as fast as their feet could take them.
Limani was the port town of Sabine. It was full of fishing and the poorer of the citizens. Sabine didn't have many low class citizens, even the poor were better off than most people on Earth, but since it was farther from the castle and guard, it was less protected. They had their own school, however it was much less advanced than Tarrin's. Even though there was a class difference between cities, there was no animosity between citizens. Everyone was a citizen of Sabine before their city, and they took their nationalism very seriously.
It wasn't too far of a journey from Sake to Limani, only about thirty minutes, less if you ran. The team exited the castle and started walking swiftly through the well-paved streets of Tarrin, heading west. Making last minute adjustments to their armor and doing quick inventory of the weapons they had brought with them. This battle was probably going to be the biggest one they had faced thus far, and the second biggest they would ever face. They had to be as prepared as they could. Once they were free of the foot-traffic in the streets they broke out in a sprint.
The sight of tall fires in the distance was a disheartening omen, but they trudged on. It didn't matter what state the city was in when they arrived, their job was to make sure it didn't get worse. The army was already there, the team was hopeful that they had thinned out the attackers, but, knowing just how tough the legions of Lysis were, all they could do was hope.
They made their way through the small patch of trees that separated the cities and finally saw the devastation that they were up against. At least a dozen buildings were burning, huge pillars of flame erupting like geysers from their roofs. More buildings completely gone. The dirt roads were littered with dead bodies of the citizens. Screams and battle cries were heard close by. They didn't have much time to take in everything, they had a job to do. They had to jump right into the fray.
Once at the center of town Pariah separated the group, he yelled for Shiloh to take care of the burning buildings, now that he knew that the thing that protected her from the Squel's eye ray was actually her secondary ability to control ice as opposed to fire, he knew that putting out flames would be her best use in this fight. He sent Jaden to the ports to help with the ships, keeping them from sinking with his strength and battling off the creatures in that part of the city. He sent Raiden running around to the wounded soldiers with the goal of getting them to safety outside the city. He and Emery stayed in the center of town, aiming to take down the majority of monsters in the vicinity. Emery was shooting at the flying, -like creatures, while Pariah took out the disfigured humanoids on the ground.
The army had thinned out a lot of the monsters, but you can't empty the sea with just a plain old cup. That's why the Guard was there.
Immediately, Pariah noticed something about these monsters, a big difference between them and the previous ones he had faced. Aside from the obvious visual differences, they were much weaker than the other creatures. They were still strong enough to completely over power most of the army, but Pariah could easily take a couple on at a time with no real problem. The only issue with that was the fact that there wasn't just a couple of these guys. Words like 'horde' and 'swarm' seemed to be his adjectives of choice when describing them.
Emery never took her eyes off the skies, her quiver was packed tight with over a hundred arrows, matching the sky that was packed with hundreds of six-foot long drakes. Luckily her accuracy never failed her, she only had to shoot a creature once before it died. They weren't weak by any stretch of the imagination, she was just that good.
Pariah stayed close to Emery, fighting off her would-be attackers so she could maintain her focus. He was hacking, slashing, and spraying the monsters down with fire-breath. He had already downed over fifty without breaking a sweat, taking breaks every so often to see a drake fall hard from one of Emery's flaming arrows.
Just as he was looking up, a loud blood-curdling growl rattled his ears. He looked down to see a huge humanoid just like the others, only about three feet bigger. Spittle flew from its mouth, which was located on its cheek, and hit Pariah in the face. He drew his sword, ready to go toe to toe with what appeared to be the general of Lysis's army.
The thing lowered its head and started another growl, only to be cut short by a long, scaly body falling directly on top of him, crushing him on impact. Pariah glanced over at Emery, who gave him a nod, they began moving closer inland, they had killed a very large number of monsters, now they were hoping to get some citizens to safety.
Jaden arrived at the docks quickly, his muscular legs granted him great, bounding speed. He wasn't nearly as fast as Raiden, but he wasn't complaining. He looked at the dozens of ships that were docked, most of which had flaming masts and panicking crew members frantically trying to dampen the flames on board.
He lept onto the ship to the far right and began scaling its main sail. As soon as he arrived at the highest point that wasn't on fire, he pulled back and punched the wood with all his might. The pole snapped, sending the flaming sail into the ocean, out of harms way.
He took to a beam that sprouted off of the main pole and shimmied his way to the adjacent ship, repeating his actions on the last one, knocking the flaming sail into the ocean. He continued this for each ship whose sail had caught fire until they were all safe. The crew members below were cheering and hollering at him, grateful for his help. It was going to be a lot of work replacing the beams, but it was better to rebuild a mast than to rebuild a boat.
Just as he was about to start climbing back down the pole of the last ship, something collided with him. He was knocked off balance and started falling. He caught onto the beam at the last second, and pulled himself up to see what had attacked him. Right in his face was the head of a lizard-looking creature. It was hovering in front of him, flapping its skin-like wings. It had no limbs which made it look like a large flying snake.
"Well hello gorgeous. You know, you're supposed to say excuse me."
The creature stared at him blankly, then let out a sound that was a mixture of a hiss, a woman's scream, and a tiger's growl. It jarred Jaden.
"Is that your name? Mine's Jaden-" He started swinging his feet as he hung from the beam until he built up enough momentum to kick the monster in the gut. It was surprised at this attack, it was also less than happy about the pain that it was experiencing in its mid-section. It let out another his-screa-rowl and started to fly away.
"Yeah you better ru-" Jaden stopped his trash talk when he realized that the creature was not, in fact 'running.' Four more snake-things joined it in a formation as they turned around and started flying toward him, his-screa-owl-ing the whole flight. "Well... good, I'm glad you came back. I wanted to fight something."
He jumped onto the beam and got the best balance he could in preparation for their attack. He was at an obvious disadvantage, these things could fly, he was perched, precariously, on a beam that was about an inch smaller than his feet, and there were four of them. None of these factors registered in Jaden's mind however. The only thing he was wondering was if he could tie the four of them together in a bow. He decided to try.
They reached him at a speed of "holy crap," the wind they caused almost knocked Jaden from his platform. They started turning around to go for another run, until they noticed that one of them was missing. They started making those sounds again at each other until they looked down at their prey. They saw the fourth snake being held in place by Jaden. He had caught it by the tail as it had flown by him. He saw them watching him and tipped his invisible hat to them. They screeched at him and started diving.
The snake he had caught was flailing about, struggling to break free from Jaden's grasp. It had yet to learn that such a feat was nigh impossible. Seeing the others begin their second attack, Jaden acted. He yanked back on the tail of the snake he had caught, forcing it backwards. He jumped and landed on its back and grabbed its head.
"I always wondered what it would be like to fly," he remarked, feeling the sea breeze rip through his hair. He used his grip on the snake's head to maneuver it where he wanted to go, it was surprisingly compliant. He flew over to the formation that the others had formed and went to finally retaliate.
As he got close he lit up his fist and went in for a punch. He was shocked when, just as he was about to make contact, the fire on his fist disappeared. He pulled up on his ride and hovered to try to figure out what had happened. He lit it again, no problem and went to try to attack once more. This time he hit, but, once again, he felt the fire extinguish before he made contact. He looked over at the snake he had hit to see it fall from the sky, the force of his punch was too much for it to take.
"Only one punch? Come on, Lysis! I thought you were better than that!" he yelled to the South.
He continued his airborne combat until the snakes were all gone. He guided his ride to the ship and, before jumping off, snapped its neck and let it fall to the ocean below. He looked over at the crew gave a wave and a nod and started back to the center of the city to try and help Pariah and Emery.
Shiloh steered clear of people. It wasn't that she wanted to avoid saving someone, she just never really meshed well with human beings outside of the guard. She was happy that her job was just to stop burning buildings, most of which were already evacuated and free of people.
After the fight with the 'squel' as her brother had called it, she was bombarded with questions from the group as to how she survived its attack. She honestly had no idea. Pariah and the others were so hellbent on finding the map, it was easy for her to slip away without them noticing, so she could try to figure out what had happened by herself.
She went down to Ariel's training room and tried to replicate what had happened. It took her a while, she had to really search within herself. She experimented with various emotions, anger, joy, sadness, until she found it. Fear. She started thinking about things that scared her and it worked. It brought out the power that had saved her. A secondary power.
She wasn't all that surprised that she had more than one power. Ariel had dozens, why would everyone only get one? She even figured that everyone else also had other powers, they just haven't figured out what it was or how to use it. Her's was control over ice. Which made enough sense to her. She was always different, different from the other guard, different from other people. It even made her laugh, she had been called an 'ice queen' many times in her life because of her love of solidarity. Now she really was an ice queen, that thought made her smile. It took her a while, but she did start to master the ability steadily. She still wasn't nearly as fluid or graceful as Ariel had been, but Ariel had trained for decades, not days. Shiloh only hoped that they would have decades for training after they fought Lysis.
She was clearing out her second-to-last house when she heard it. Inside a burning building there are many sounds. Ones that aren't very common in your everyday routine. The wood cackling and popping, the flames that cause their own wind which add a whooshing sound into the symphony, the falling of objects from a collapsed second floor. Many different things that happen out of no where that make a person in the situation lump them all together or write them off as being 'normal' for the abnormal circumstance that they are in, but there was something about this sound that just didn't feel right to Shiloh. She didn't like that.
Against her gut, she decided to ignore it for now and continue trying to ice off the flames, keeping an ear perked for the sound again. She never heard that particular sound again. Though a new one did happen, one even more foreign than the first. She turned to try to figure out what was making the cacophonous sounds, but before she could make anything out, she felt her body being forced through a wooden wall, pain rushing through her abdomen as her body collided with the unforgiving house. She landed on the floor of the next room, still in the burning house.
She opened her eyes to see a giant. At least that's what it looked like to her. The thing was over six feet tall and was covered in as much metal armor as it could possibly of found. It looked like a tank, it had to way over six-hundred pounds. Just the sight of the thing made the pain in her stomach sting more.
"Go put out the fires, Shi. We'll handle the monsters, Shi," she murmured to herself, "Thanks guys. Thanks a lot. Alright, so what do you want? Can you even speak, or is this one of those, 'me monster, me here to kill you, not for talk?'" The thing didn't make a sound. "I'll take that as a yes." She let out a deep sigh and pulled out her tiny blade from her hip. She had really hoped she wouldn't need to use it, but, things change. The monster responded by unsheathing its own blade. Shiloh didn't even see it was carrying one, and after she saw it, she couldn't believe she had missed it. The thing was practically as tall as her and he wielded it like it was a butter knife.
"Well, let's get this over with," she baited as she took up a fighting stance. The goliath accepted her battle invitation and began charging at her. Just as it took its first step, she blinked out of sight. Startling the monster with her sudden disappearance. It stopped in its tracks. She had to refrain herself from giggling at the creature's bewilderment. She loved the reactions she got when she went invisible, absolutely no one expected it. She silently snuck around the back of the behemoth, dagger in hand. All she needed to do was get the one good shot on his neck and then she could freeze his blood.
When she got to her spot, she lined up her attack and lunged. She took it by surprise, landing on its back and holding on tight. She saw an uncovered part of its armor and jammed the knife into it, expecting a cry of pain. There was none. The beast shook its back and flung her off. She hit the wall, causing her to become visible again.
"What the-" She took some time to adjust to her surroundings. The beast had no such handicap. It was immediately on the attack, walking up to her, and grabbing her with its gauntlet-covered hand. It picked her up and brought her to its head. She was struggling in its grip, desperately trying to break free. It had her in one hand, it was moving the other towards its head. She didn't see the insanely long sword, she was praying that it didn't have it.
Its free hand made it to its helmet and started lifting the visor. Oh great, she thought, now I get to see the ugliness of the thing that's going to kill me. Once the visor was raised, she peeked through her closed eyes to see what this thing was. She saw blackness. There was nothing inside of the armor. It was just a giant suit of armor that had somehow magically come to life, and it was going to kill her. She didn't know what to do, the thing didn't have any blood to freeze or anything like that. It was impervious to practically everything. She had one idea, and she thought if it didn't work, at least she could say that she tried. Then she realized if it didn't work, she would be dead, and thus incapable of defending any action that she took, but she shoved that thought aside and put her idea into action.
She opened her mouth and let out a deep breath. Then something started happening as her breath mixed with the air in the room. Little crystals started forming in between the two, and they were growing. They flowed like a river, right into the helmet of the metal man, expanding as they entered.
It dropped her and staggered backward. Shiloh smiled ear to ear. Little holes started forming in the armor, icicles were started to break through the metal, like a demented stress toy. Shiloh put up her hand and waved goodbye to her attacker as its armor exploded in ice. She went back to extinguishing the flames of the last house and started back to the center of the city, hoping that the rest of the team took out the remaining enemies.
Raiden's mind was racing as fast as he was. Thinking about everything that was going on with everyone as of late. His job of rescuing wounded soldiers was basically second-nature. He was able to do the job without really paying attention to it. Which was good because he was too preoccupied with his other thoughts.
He had never seen Shiloh act this way before. Ever since Ariel died, his sister had changed so much. Some things for the better, others just made him worry. She was way more vocal with the group, but she also seemed more downtrodden, which was really hard for him to believe. Finding that letter from Ariel didn't really help either. He just wanted her to be safe. He wanted this war over. He didn't want her to have to worry about anything any more.
Through his thinking he realized that he had changed too. He had always loved and cared for his sister, but ever since he had lost the Queen, he had started acting differently. He didn't blame himself for her death, it wasn't his fault and he knew that, but a part of him still felt responsible, like he could have saved her, or that he should have been protecting her, that he should have done something. He didn't want that to happen again. He needed to protect his sister, there was no way he was going to let her down like he had Ariel. He couldn't lose another family memeber. He just couldn't.
He was running through the city for the third time before he realized that he had already saved everybody that needed it. He also noticed the stunning silence. He was so lost in thought that he had completely missed the whole battle. He ran to the center of the city hoping to meet up with everyone.
"There you are Raiden, finally!" Pariah said, as Raiden ran to meet up with the group. Raiden was mouthing something silently, pointing to each member of the group.
"Five," he finally said aloud, "good, we're all here and no one died."
"Yeah, we're all fine," Pariah responded, "but look around, the city is practically destroyed."
"We can't let this happen again," Emery responded.
"No, we can't," Pariah agreed.
"We can't just keep waiting around, we have to do something, and soon."
"I know, I know."
"We have to go to the island. We can't just wait for the next attack, if we do, then the whole country is doomed."
"Okay, okay. What do you guys think?" Pariah asked the rest of the group.
Jaden shrugged. "Look around dude, this is a good a sign as anything that Lysis isn't holding back. I know that Augur guy said that we weren't ready, or that we couldn't do it or whatever, but honestly, I'd feel worse if we did nothing."
"I agree," Raiden said.
"Shi?" Pariah asked.
"Let's go kick Lysis's ass."
"Alright," Emery responded, "we set sail tonight, get a band of troops to pack the boat full of supplies."
"We're taking a crew?" Pariah asked, "do we really want to put more people in harm's way?"
"We're just taking them to pilot the ship. I don't believe any of us have any knowledge in that area." She looked around at the team, they all shook their heads 'no'. "Exactly. They will take us to the island, drop us off, and return here safely. In all honesty, I don't think we'll be needing a ride back."
Raiden didn't look too thrilled at that last part, but he shrugged it off and agreed, if he was gonna die, he was going to go down fighting for his nation, until his dying breath.
Battles are kind of hard to write... Like especially when you have soooooo many of them and you have to make each one different and interesting... How am I doing? I'm like really worried about that. Let me know in a review if you don't mind(: