EPISODE LV- Sheathed

The fighting was finally over. The last soldier to fall did so around the hundreds- no, thousands of bodies, and only then were the last few handfuls of Ranadian soldiers willing to surrender. The news of Ryle's death and the utter defeat of Ranadiam's forces in Kanadiam City was bittersweet- our mortal enemy was dead, and so were my two friends.

I still remember that night in haunting detail. When the search party, headed by myself, first turned up Rixie's body from underneath a pile of rubble, I felt defeated. I wasn't able to save her, and that tore me up inside. She wasn't just a hapless servant girl unwittingly dragged along with us into our two-year war; she had become an ally with whom I had trusted my life. She had gone from a lonely, bitter girl filled with hate and anger to a matured, caring and fiercely compassionate fighter once she found the one thing that she never had- friends. She loved Trav- I could tell by the longing stare on her face when he passed by, yet to display any weakness by admitting it was something she could never bring herself to do. It was only when Trav risked himself and came within inches of losing his life to rescue her from captivity that she finally realized that not only did she love, but she was loved back. Since her rescue, I never saw the moody and scowling Rixie again. I guess what they say is true. It's better to make love than to make war. By simply showing that you care for someone, you can evoke a drastic change for the better not only for them, but even yourself as well. It just makes me wonder; could we have changed Ryle? Was his death a necessity? For God's sake, did we have to leave a bloody trail of bodies all over the whole continent? All these questions and more filled my mind as Rixie's eviscerated body was carted back down what remained of Mount Oddess.

Our next find was a large smoldering piece of Trav's EXO. Had he really gone through with it? That giant explosion that went off a few hours ago certainly proved so. I knew this meant that Trav was dead, but at the bottom of my heart I hoped that he was still alive. The hilt of his broken sword was lying close by, and as soon as I noticed the similarities between his hilt and Troid's, my thoughts immediately turned to his brother. Troid was a far cry, as I had known him a year ago, from the Troid that I had watched grow up in the castle, and from the Troid that one day suddenly went bezerk and slaughtered everyone in sight. He had changed considerably when we ventured to South Namerik. Calm, level-headed, and laid-back, it was like he had earned the wisdom of a battle-scarred veteran like myself all in the span of seven years. He had to, of course, in order to prevent his little secret from coming back to haunt him. Reflecting on this as we made our way further up the demolished faults, I wondered just how far Troid was willing to go to leave his dirty past behind him. Forsaking his identity, adopting a new persona, even moving as far away as Lear. But in the end, was any of it worth it? His past still caught up to him, in the form of Ryle with a death warrant. Just how far will someone go to leave the past behind them? For what, a false sense of happiness? Memories remain, and whether we acknowledge them or not really doesn't matter. What's happened has happened, and if the consequences come, they will.

I knew it was true, but I didn't want to believe it. Scattered remains of Trav's chest armor were strewn about a flat bed of unharmed ground, and this confirmed my suspicion. Trav was dead. Upon inspection of the highest point of the cliff's remains, we found the legs of Trav's EXO connected to the waist and back armor, draped over the remains of Ryle and his EXO. Ryle's body was still underneath, his flesh scorched and blackened, while whatever parts of his EXO that hadn't been blown apart had melted onto his corpse. I dropped to a knee and fought back tears. Trav was a born fighter- when he wasn't fighting for his life, he was fighting for someone else. The kind of person you'd call a bleeding heart, the kind of person who would fight the whole world if it meant saving someone other than himself. He was noble. He was brave. He was also a little foolish. Whenever he made a mistake- whenever he bit off more than he could chew, he paid for it dearly. Rarely, if ever, did he learn from them. With a few more years, he could have made a great ruler. But in the end, he died doing what he did best. Fighting.

Three years have passed since then, and much has changed. Upon the reclamation of Kanadiam, Ranadiam immediately surrendered, willing to take a significant loss of political power amongst the other nations of the continent than to fight them all by themselves. Smart move. Ryle's father never returned from his overseas expedition. He probably died before he could make it home, but a few of us think differently. Was he still out there? Is he still alive? Who knows, and really, who cares. When the war finally ended, everyone, from Ranadiam to Texxaz, was willing to put their rivalries aside, seeing how well they had fought alongside (and against) one another. Although there were a few brief skirmishes here and there, war seems to be a thing of the past now. Finally, we've achieved what Trav, Rixie, and myself had strived to capture for so long- happiness.

So what happens from here? The nations have all agreed to start phasing out the use of EXO Implants once we make contact with the rest of the world from which we have been severed from for too long. Texxan scout vessels are due to report back soon on their mission to relocate what used to be South America, and I pray that they see things the way we do. The reason behind this being that it was of course the birth of the EXOs that instigated World War 3000 in the first place, and I'm fairly sure that nobody wants to see that happen again.

I have read the preceding account of our story, and I can truthfully assure you that everything that was said did in fact happen. When my time in this world comes to an end, I wish to leave behind this tell-all tale for the future generations so that they can learn as I have learned, feel what I have felt, and judge whether or not they can live as I have lived. Trav's, Troid's, Rixie's, and my former king's EXO remnants now adorn four wooden crosses planted into the most visible plateau of what remains of Mount Oddess- their only remaining testament to the moral to this story, the one that I have known for so long now:

"A deed done with malice in heart is repaid with a bloody sword."

His Royal Highness,

King Tike Mallar I