Wind picked up quickly at the start, and it grew more powerful. The strength of the winds tugged on fluffy grey rainclouds from the west, adding to the pile of deadly storm clumped over their heads. Cracks of thunder clapped the group's hunched backs and rattled the drums in their ears.
McKenzie felt the press of Alyshia's shoulder into her back, and the smooth caress of Cyran's bound hands across her leg. Krayden hugged Alyshia as best he could, trying to shield her from the ice cold rain that drizzled down from the sky. Ike was the one who looked most alone, though Vaan was a close runner up. The fear in their eyes made McKenzie realize just how normal her own fear was.
The rain spattered heir heads harder. McKenzie was alert to the chilling water seeping through her cloak. Cyran and Alyshia looked most susceptible to the cold, however, without cloaks around their shoulders. She began to feel extremely guilty.
Cyran shook his head at her.
You can read my thoughts again?
Yes…I regret it, but I can. It's just as you said, this is a war. Innocent people die. Harry was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I'm so sorry.
It's not your fault. These things happen. I'm just glad you're okay.
If she weren't so cold, McKenzie might have blushed. The conditions were too much for her to fight against, however.
Rain was pouring in buckets now, drenching the mass of people from head to toe. Children cried and complained about the cold, yet Syrusses didn't bother to raise a finger.
Crowding inwards, the ring of black-armored men put away their weapons and fought for body heat. Without realizing it, the six comrades moved closer and huddled together, just as the hail began to pound their bodies furiously.
Laughter sounded from a few feet away, even through the roar of the wind, the booming of the thunder, and the pitter-patter of the rain. Syrusses was enjoying himself too much. The amusement he took in all this destruction scared McKenzie.
"McKenzie," Cyran's voice rose above the rain and thunder, right against her ear. "I have a feeling this is going to be rough. Go back to Syrusses, he'll provide cover."
"Are you kidding?" Alyshia glared, her entire form shaking visibly, "Syrusses will take her away from us!"
"I won't leave." McKenzie told Cyran, gripping his arm tightly.
"It's okay," Vaan spoke up. The six, wide –eyed friends huddled closer to Vaan, whose warm body began to spread through everyone else.
"Having a dragon with us is pretty convenient." Alyshia chattered, trying to keep the mood from plummeting. Ben usually did a good job with it. Where was he? McKenzie let out her breath and dared to look up at the sky. She watched shocks of lightning zip down from the sky. The strikes seemed to be different colors; blues, purples, neon whites, and even red. She couldn't see the sky anywhere, let alone the neighborly planets that floated on the horizon. All she saw was the horrific funnels of clouds, sheets of sleet, and the black cover over their heads. As if it wasn't enough.
The ocean to the west was twisting and clawing its way up the beach, closer and closer to the village center Syrusses trapped them in. More rocks tumbled around, more cracks ground through the earth. There was deafening noise everywhere. McKenzie almost didn't hear Ike speak.
"I thought that when we rebuilt the empire, the Palestralean people could live for a long time. I guess I was wrong." He looked past McKenzie. His shivers were noticeable on his shoulders. Vaan breathed in, more warmth spread through their skin. McKenzie pulled away. The shocking cold numbed her chest immediately. She ignored it.
"I can't do this. There are other people who are cold as well. I feel wrong to be warm while they aren't."
Alyshia touched McKenzie's hand, ice upon ice. "He's doing this to see who will survive. If the children can't make it, then they aren't worthy to be a part of Syrusses's empire."
The thought horrified her, "What?"
"Alyshia has a point," Cyran yelled over the noise of the hail. "It sounds like something Syrusses would do." His lips were beginning to turn blue.
"Stay warm, otherwise you'll die," Vaan stretched out a hand, but she told herself she no longer had to feel obligated to him. She shook her head and stood against their protests. McKenzie blindly stumbled past huddled forms, completely soaked to the bone.
As she made her way to Syrusses, she could feel the rough pull of the sword in his hands. She saw Syrusses, eyes trained evilly on the sword's blade. She wondered what he was seeing. She pulled her cloak tighter around her shoulders and looked up at the man in front of her. The blade was glowing.
"Syrusses!" She tried to yell, feeling her voice dwarfed by the wind. "You must stop! You have to shelter these people!"
His smile widened, "I am witnessing the creation of my empire. Come take a look! I think the Elves are next in line."
She sucke din her breath and stood still for a long moment. She battled her emotions, fought her sadness. Her friends would be gone, all the nice people who helped her through her childhood. Quietly she stood shivering by Syrusses's side and looked at the sword.
The blade expressed an angry red glow to her. She could sense the sword was reluctant to do this, like it had it's own emotions. The main concern for McKenzie was the horrifying pictures she saw.
Dark grey tornadoes swept across lands in blurry hazes while water climbed ashore and sunk the coasts. She recognized a familiar mountain range in Arcon, the Relie Canyons, and watched as volcanoes erupted and lava attacked the small, broken city.
A blood curdling scream startled McKenzie and Syrusses into looking up. A woman holding her child was pointing at the dark abyss that used to be the mountains. From deep within, bubbling heat began to rise. Magma from the earth's mantel began to ooze over the ledge and crawl towards the groups of people, completely engulfing the ruins of the castle.
"Must I do everything?" Syrusses sighed, using his own stolen powers to make a charm. An enormous wall rose from the cracking earth and blocked he lava from shaking towards the people. Instead, the lava took a detour and surrounded he soldiers surrounding the people. Suddenly panic began to rise in the crowds.
Syrusses's hand rested on McKenzie's tense shoulder. "You think this is bad, but this is the moment of a lifetime. If we have oceans of lava, we won't ever have to worry about cold winters."
"We need oceans to have fresh water! What are you thinking?" She exclaimed, throwing her cold, heavy arms into the frigid air.
Syrusses sneered at her, "I can do whatever I want. I can make the air so humid that with every breath you will be drinking a mouthful of fresh water! I can build mountains of obsidian and build a black castle upon it, forever ruling the entire world!" He lifted the sword and pointed it at the ocean. The splashing, engulfing waves ceased to attack the shower. Instead, the tide pulled back, disappearing further back until McKenzie could see the ocean no longer. It was draining somewhere, conflicting with lava below.
"Syrusses! The steam!" She cried out, pointing at the steam rising from the once cold ocean.
"Yes, I see it." His eyes flashed triumphantly. "It's a good sign."
"You're ruining it!" McKenzie shrieked, feeling the destruction of nature rattle through her bones. Mother Nature wasn't happy. She ran forward, reaching for the sword, but Syrusses's hand struck out and a force pushed her to the ground.
"Patience. All will be fixed." He looked up at the sky, "You see?"
She followed his gaze, where the clouds in the sky began to thin and disappear higher into the atmosphere. The rain stopped.
High above, the stars twinkled and danced in space, untouched by Syrusses, undisturbed by Wvern's change. McKenzie realized then that maybe not all was lost. She looked over at the villain standing over her. His knowing smile was smug and victorious. "My dearest McKenzie," Be bent and touched her forehead with two fingers, "You've seen enough. This is only a bad dream."
Her lids drooped. "A dream…" She whispered, looking to the sky one last time. The world ended in light, it seemed. The stars danced happily in the sky. Maybe there was still beauty somewhere, even after Syrusses ruined this planet. Every happy moment she shared with her friends flashed in front of her. Strawberries, golden wheat, brilliant green eyes, and a beautiful baby boy filled her heart as she closed her eyes and concentrated on the rocking darkness that nurtured her to sleep.
The smirking Dark Elf played with the black tapestries that hung from the large windows. Outside, she could see a river of lava flowing through the castle courtyard. Her black nails stroked the velvet in a loving fashion. "My lord?"
"My orders are perfectly clear," He whispered to her, watching her black eyes widen.
"I was only questioning your certainty. You're queen may not like this idea." Elizabeth fixed her eyes on the door behind him.
"She doesn't approve of anything," He growled, "Go with you unit of soldiers and scour the lands. You will hunt down every surviving village. I will not have a new nation to compete with. This world is mine, all mine." Syrusses's hand gripped the sword at his side.
"My lord, it is all stories." She whispered.
"It's true. I know it is." His hand touched the rounded butt of the sword.
Elizabeth's eyes flicked around the castle study one last time, "Very well. All illegal outcasts will be eradicated." Her smile grew to one of malevolence. "I will not fail you, my lord." She bowed and backed slowly out of the room. Her respectful gaze sharpened to one of disgust once she was out of his sight. "At least this is feeding me." She muttered to herself.
"Elizabeth?" A dark haired man with bright yellow eyes scurried up the black stone stairs that led to the throne room, "Do we have clearance?"
"We do," She nodded, "Round up our men. We've got a mystical island to search for." She said sarcastically.