Hello everyone! This is MidnightFenrir speaking and I'm as proud as ever to present you the eight chapter of "Child of the Fell and Divine dragons"!
Now... I have something else to say. I am actually writing another story along this one and it made me think of something... So here it is: Do you guys think I should stay on the game plot with me putting away, adding or changing different things along the way until we reach the conclusion? Or should I change the plot entirely at some point to create something else (that might not lead to Sword of Seals) entirely?
Feel free to tell me your answer in the reviews. Depending on your answers, I'll see what I can do.
Now, without further ado, let us get on with this!
Strangely enough, those two days of travel since we left Araphen were quite uneventful. I was expecting ambushes or other mercenaries to be sent to attack us so I spent my time watching carefully our surroundings and creating plans of counter-attack just in case and sharing them with the others. Everyone clearly had been on their guard too.
But, to my surprise, nothing happened. Maybe the news of Araphen's events haven't reached Caelin, and Lundgren has yet to send soldiers to stop us.
And so, here we are, just walking and chatting as we march once again to Caelin. But I won't say I'm not grateful for the lack of events. On the opposite, everyone being cheerful and light headed is a good thing. I could see how some of us, including me, have been quite tense since what happened in Araphen and those two days came as a good relaxation...
Of course, training also helped getting the frustration out of those who needed it. May our wooden dummies rest in peace for resisting Lyn's assaults for so long.
Unsurprisingly, Matthew had immediately found his place inside our group. His sense of humor long with his very friendly attitude had made conversations quite lively more than once. I often found him chatting with Sain about anything and everything. And was it just me or was the green knight's purse getting thinner and thinner everyday?
Rath, however... is an entirely different story. The guy doesn't really talk to anyone beside Lyn and sometimes to Kent or myself. Though I often found him in company of Dorcas, for some reason. It'll take some time to warm him to us.
"A-are you alright, Robin?"
A feminine voice snaps me from my thoughts and my gaze falls from the clouds in the sky to Florina, who is looking at me with shy eyes.
"Oh. Yes, sorry. I was just spacing out. I guess being close to the heavens made me drift." I reply with a smile as I look around us.
Right now, we're both on Huey and flying above our little group. It seems the pegasus has sort of taken a liking to me and has 'granted me permission to ride her along with me from time to time' as Florina putted it. So, here I am, riding behind Florina and looking at the landscape from the skies.
Florina returns my smile shyly. "You know, as strange as it can be, I feel safer up here than on the ground. Even if I know that a single mistake could let me fall, I feel better when riding the skies with Huey."
I nod. "I can understand that. It feels as if there is no limit here. It's like the word 'freedom' takes another whole meaning."
Florina gives me another smile, wider this time, and nods. "Right!"
"I never thought riding a pegasus could be so... exhilarating."
"You've never done it before?"
"I did. But... I never had the time to enjoy, to discover it. When I was riding a pegasus, it was always because we had to flee. Very few of those beautiful creatures survived and we only used them in desperate situations."
"I see... But that's in the past now. Look, do not focus on anything but what's before you. Forget what's to come and what has already happened. Feel the 'now', the wind on your face, the feeling of freedom, of the boundless sky. Feel it, and never forget it."
"...I'll try. But promise me one thing."
"Promise me that, should I ever forget about it, you'll show it to me again. So that I can feel it at least one more time."
"R-Robin? Are you sure you're all right? You're... hum... spacing out again."
"Yeah..." I answer without looking at Florina. "I guess I am... Could you land, please?"
"I-I was about to. W-we are nearing a small town so I f-figured it'd be best to get back on the ground." she replies as Huey starts to descend.
I smile once again. "Right."
As we land, I can't help but think, for the umpteenth time, about my past. I do not think I was a despicable person and I know for certain that I knew quite a lot of people in many ways. But then, there is the fact that no one over the past weeks has recognized me. I know there is the possibility that I hail from a different country but then, how did I end up here? Everything is still a mystery to me.
"So, Robin? How was the ride on Huey?" I hear Wil ask me and I turn my gaze to the archer before smiling.
"It was great, to say the least. Up there, you get a new view of the entire world. It was quite refreshing." I answer.
"I guess so." he replies before pausing for a second. "Do you know why there isn't any pegasus archer?"
I raise an eyebrow. "No I don't. I never thought about it."
Wil smiles. "It's because archers might hit the pegasus' wings and a bow isn't easy to manipulate because of said wings. You could think an archer in the skies could prove to be a great advantage but, on the contrary, he will be less effective."
"That makes sense. It's true that you could question why there are mounted archers but no pegasus archers but I guess that, thinking about it, it's understandable." I reply, placing a hand on my chin.
"Well... Truth is, there is also another reason."
"And that would be?"
"Most archers are afraid of heights."
I give Wil a look that says 'are you kidding me?' before I laugh slightly and shake my head. "Why does it look like behind every logical answer there is a simpler one that no one wants to say?"
"Don't know. Ask the higher ups of the army."
"You think that wyvern riders, who look as scary as demons, could in fact be the shyest people in the army?"
"Now that would be interesting."
As we continue to chat about the 'what if' of the army I don't even notice that we have crossed the distance that there was left from the village. Only when we stop do I realize that we already are near houses.
"Where are we, Kent?" Lyn asks, looking around.
"This is Kathelet." The knight answers. "If we head due south, we'll pass into Caelin."
"From here, I'd say we're about ten days' ride to Castle Caelin." Sain adds with a smile before his face becomes serious. "Assuming we don't run into any delays, of course." he mutters.
"Ten days..." Lyn says quietly to herself.
I squeeze her shoulder gently and she looks at me.
"We'll make it, don't worry. I promised you that you will see your grandfather and I intend to keep that promise." I tell her and she gives me a grateful smile.
"Let us proceed then. The faster we'll cross the distance, the less we'll have to fight. I'd rather fight an army for an entire day rather than fight platoon after platoon for day after day." Kent said grimly.
I raise my hand to stop him. "I understand your point, Kent. But this is the first village we have seen in two days and I think everyone would be grateful if we could take a short break here. At least to resupply."
I see Kent opening his mouth to reply and I brace myself for another debate with him but...
"Pardon me, but..." A new voice says and everyone turn toward it's source... which appears to be a young boy who looks no older than fifteen. The first thing that strikes me are his cyan hair and his red eyes. Eyes that, for some reason, look quite like mine.
Seeing that all of us are looking at him, the boy goes quiet and takes a step back, apparently scared.
"Yes? Can I help you?" Lyn says gently as she walks toward him and crouch down to his level.
"You and your friends... Are you mercenaries?" the boy shyly asks.
I frown at that. What would a young boy want to do with people like us? And what is this familiar feeling that I get when I look at him?
"And if we are?" Lyn ask back, raising an eyebrow at him.
Suddenly, the boy seem to cast away his shyness as he looks at her straight in the eye. "I need your help!" he says with an urgent voice.
But that comment is what pushes Kent to step in. "Milady Lyndis, you mustn't let your guard down. Not even for a child." the red knight says, looking at the boy with a suspicious look.
Lyn turns to him. "I know." she replies before looking back at the boy with an apologetic smile. "Forgive me, but we're in a hurry. Is there someone else you can ask?"
The boy's eyes widden and I see the small restraint he had on himself disappear. "There's no time!" he shouts desperately. "Ninian's been... It's my sister! Some men have taken her away!"
I can see the genuine fear in his eyes and I can see to his body language that he's not lying.
"Your sister? Did you say your sister's been accosted?" I hear Sain say not far from me.
"Sain..." growls Kent, glaring at his fellow knight.
"That's right! By some cruel, awful men!" the boy continues his frantic plee. "I don't know what I'll do without Ninian." he mutters before looking down.
"Milady Lyndis! We must help him!" Sain exclaims.
"Nonsense! We haven't the time!" Kent replies. "If the marquess is as ill as we've heard, we must proceed!"
Lyn intervene by stepping between the two and raising her hands. At once, the two stop arguing and she looks at Kent.
"Kent, I... I want to help this child." she says.
The knight's eyes widen at that and he looks at her in disbelief. "Milady?"
"I'm worried about my grandfather, of course." she states calmly. "But this! I cannot let by and let a child be taken from her home!" she exclaims.
I smile slightly. Now that's Lyn for you.
Kent closes his eyes in defeat and sighs. "I see..."
"I'm sorry, Kent." Lyn says, dropping her arms to her side.
The knight shakes his head. "I am your loyal retainer. You owe me no apologies." he replies. "You must do as your heart dictates, milady. I will follow you, no matter where that may lead." he says before walking back to his horse
Lyn smiles. "Thank you." she says before turning back to the boy.
"Hah! Such noble speech! Ever the true knight, that one!" Sain comments with a grin.
"Unlike you, that's for sure." I add with a smirk.
"Robin, my friend! How can you say that to me?!" the green knight exclaims with a horrified look, placing a hand on his heart.
I raise an eyebrow. "Do you really want to know?" I ask, my grin turning into a feral smirk.
"Actually... never mind!" Sain says before dashing for his horse.
"I thought so." I say with a chuckle before his turn my gaze back to the boy. "Lead the way, young lad. Let's get your sister back." I say and, for the first the time, he looks at me.
For a second, I see shock on his face, as if he couldn't believe what he's seeing, but it quickly fades as Lyn starts talking again.
"Will you take us to where the bad men are?"
He nods. "Huh uh. They're really tough though, so be careful." he states.
"Leave them to us." Lyn replies with a smile. "We're pretty tough ourselves. Right, Robin?" she says, turning to me.
I nod. "We won't go down easily, that's for sure. Other than an occasional severe injury, I have yet to let anyone under my watch die." I say, smiling at the young boy.
Thus, we start to walk into the village, following the cyan haired youngster for a few minutes.
"Ah! Oh, no..." the boy exclaims before hiding... behind me.
I raise an eyebrow at his behavior before looking forward. A man with his face hidden by a purple scarf is walking toward us... and with him are several other people, also clad in purple.
"Heh Heh Heh... Found him!" he says, looking at the boy. "C'mon kid. It's back to Nergal with you. Quiet now and we won't do anything unnecessary."
The boy leaves his 'hiding spot', determination in his eyes. "No! Let Ninian go!" he exclaims.
"You know, we ain't supposed to kill you, but we sure can rough you up!" the man replies before gesturing to his companions. "Get 'em!" he shouts before revealing a dagger and dashing straight for the boy.
A green figure runs past me and in a flash, Lyn has drawn her blade and is standing between the man and his target.
"Huh?" The man says as he steps back. "Who do you think you are to stand in the way of the Black Fang?!"
"Lyn!" the boy exclaims at his savior.
"Let the boy's sister go." Lyn coldly says.
"Ah... So you want to help the kid, huh?" the man says before shaking his head. "What a shame. You're gonna die for something that don't concern you."
I step forward. "You think so, do you?" I say slowly and the man turns to look at me. "Do we look so weak to you? I think you're in for a terrible shock!"
"Stupid fools... You'll regret those words." the man replies as he inverts the grip on his dagger.
"Ah, boss! Look! Isn't that the man master Nergal was talking about?" One of the other men, an axeman, says pointing at... me.
My eyes widen. Do they... know me? No. If they did, they would have said my name already. But I'll worry about that later. I must focus on the fight.
The man with the dagger looks at me for a second before his eyes widen in recongnition.
"Damnit! You're right! Boys, this is our lucky day! Take them down but spare the kid and the white haired guy!" He shouts.
Instantly, the fifteen men start to deploy and I frown as I spot three shamans in their ranks.
This could be troublesome. From what Erk told me, black magic is the most powerful because it's very ancient draws it's strength from the very abysses of magic. It twists the world, so to say. It's not something natural.
"Be careful everyone! We're facing shamans! They are powerful enemies and I do not want anyone to engage one of them alone! Make sure you are at least two if you must face them! As always, I have only one thing to say: do not die! Let's do this!" I shout as I draw my sword and everyone answers with a war cry as the battle begins.
Once again, we're outnumbered. But that hasn't stopped us before and it will not stop us now. Quickly enough, I find myself locking blades with a swordsman and as we start to trade blows, I realize that those guys are very different from the average bandits we fought before. They are stronger and trained, even though they aren't soldiers.
Just who in the blazes are they? I heard their commander say that they were members of the 'Black Fang' but what is it exactly? An organization? A league? A guild? Or something else entirely?
Lost in my thoughts, I narrowly evade an attack that would have chopped my left arm and retaliate with an estoc that leaves a gash in my opponent's side. But, on the contrary to what I expected, the man instantly jump back and I frown at his action.
I supposed he would quickly try to hit me back but he created some distance instead. Why would he...
I shiver and turn my head to the left, just to see a shaman pointing his outstretched hand at me.
"Flux!" he shouts.
Immediately, a purple magic circle appear beneath me and dark tendrils start to swarm around me, as if they wanted to imprison me. But knowing that it isn't the case, I quickly roll to the side before watching in horror the tendrils fusing to become an orb of darkness big enough to swallow a man. An instant later, the orb vanishes into thin air and I don't even want to think about what would've happened if I had been inside it.
"Robin! Look out!"
I am quickly pulled out of my shock by Erk's voice and I look up to see the blade of the swordsman coming down on me. As fast as I can, I raise my sword to block but the strength of the blow and my position make me fall on my back, with the man standing above me and his sword slowly pushing mine back.
Knowing the he has me at his fingertips, the swordsman takes out a dagger from his waist and raises his arm, still locking my sword with his, and I see that his target isn't my heart or my throat, but my arm.
I brace myself for the sharp pain that will come but as the man brings his arm down...
"Lightning!" I hear a voice shout behind me and I see several rays of pure light appear around me before they strike the swordsman, who shouts both in pain and surprise at the unexpected attack.
Not wasting time, I push back his sword and kick him away before rolling on my back and getting on my feet. Then, taking advantage of the situation, I quickly invert my grip on my sword before plunging it into the man's torso.
"Are you unharmed, sir?" I hear a gentle voice says and I turn to see a woman with long blond hair clad in blue robes giving me a concerned look.
I nod, taking a quick breath. "Yes, thanks to you." I reply before looking at her attire. "This looks like religious vestiary. Are you a Sister of Elimine?" I ask.
"Hum... I am a man, sir." the woman -no- the MAN replies.
I stay silent.
Now this is awkward...
"I would be honored to be joined by such a formidable woman of the cloth."
"...Man, sire. Man of the cloth."
"...You're not a woman?"
"No, sire tactician. Woman are clerics. I am a priest. Well, technically a war monk, if you care to split hairs."
"Axe wielding monks waging war? What in the blazes..."
"Hum... We didn't mean to imply- Well... this is rather awkward."
"Oh it's all right, sires. You realized your mistake quickly enough. It could have become much more awkward."
"Right! Let's stop there!"
"I agree on this."
I clear my throat. "Right. So... you are a priest?" I say, trying to get rid of my embarrassment.
The blond man nods. "A monk, to be specific. My name is Lucius." he answers.
"You're not carrying an axe with you, are you?" I ask.
The monk looks at me as if I just grew a second head and I wave my hand. "Forget it. So? What business do you have with us?"
"Well, I was at the inn when this child came seeking help. The innkeeper was afraid to get involved. He was... unpleasant, to say the least. I truly wish to help the boy, if only a little. Thus, I want to lend you my services." Lucius explains.
I smile. "Of course. Your help would be very much appreciated. A practitioner of the Light magic will be of great help against those shamans."
The monk returns my smile. "Thank you very much. The blessing of St Elimine be upon you all."
"Right. Stay close, we're going to deal with those shamans." I say before I start to jog to where the battle is still going. "I'll need you to counter their spells until I'm close enough to strike them. Other than that, I have nothing to ask of you rather than being careful and ready for anything."
"Very well. Let us go." Lucius replies.
Ahead of the two of us, the battle seemed to turn to our side's favor, the other slowly but surely pushing back the enemy. But from what I could tell, not even a quarter of the enemy force had been dispatched, meaning that this battle was going to be a long and tiresome one.
Spotting Lyn as she fended off, I run up to her and call her name. Hearing me, she turns and nod at my approach.
"Any real trouble yet?" I ask.
She shakes her head. "Nothing Serra cannot heal in a few seconds. But this battle is quite hard, nonetheless. They are obviously strong and don't hesitate to go for even the slightest opening in our defenses and the shamans aren't making things easier. Moreover, we have to protect the boy too." she answers before eying Lucius. "And who might you be?"
The monk bows slightly. "My name is Lucius, milady. I have offered your friend my help in defeating those people and he agreed to it."
Lyn bows back. "Your assistance is much welcomed."
"Lucius and I are going to take care of the shamans. If we defeat them, victory will be ours." I cut in and Lyn nods at me.
"Then I'm coming too. It's way too dangerous for only the two of you." she replies.
Knowing that she won't take no for an answer, I nod before taking out my Thunder tome and pointing my hand at the sky.
"Vanguard of the heavens, lead my enemies to their doom! Thunder!" I chant and the ball of lightning flies upward for a several seconds seconds before exploding.
The signal for 'Cover me!'
During our two days of traveling, I discussed with Kent, Lyn and Erk about different signals we could use in the midst of battle and we came up several:
A long and sharp whistle for a backup call.
Two short whistles for an alert. Three for a retreat.
A fire spell in the air for a regroup.
A wind spell to signal to wait.
A thunder spell to ask for cover.
As soon as the spell detonated, I started running toward where the shamans are standing, casting spell after spell, with Lyn and Lucius right behind me. Around us, the fight immediately changed. Our allies started to push their fight out of our way and both Kent and Sain rode to our sides, ready to intercept any foe.
Instantly understanding what we're trying to do, three swordsmen move to stop but they soon find themselves trying to dodge the sharp end of Sain's lance or the blade of Kent's sword.
Seeing that the path between us and the shamans is clear, I put my tome back in my coat's pocket and draw my sword. There are still thirty foot or so between us and our enemies but I know it's plenty of distance for them to attack us and there is no way they haven't noticed us.
"Show us what you can do, Lucius!" I shout at the monk behind me as I see two of them pointing their hands at us.
"Yes! O silver light, grant me the power to defeat evil! Lightning!" I hear him chant and, just like before, several rays of light appear around us and stabb the ground where purple magic circles were starting to appear, making them vanish as if they never existed in the first place.
"That is all I can do to keep you safe! Unless you can force them to stop casting, I must use all my power to protect you." Lucius shouts and I smile.
"That's more than enough!" I reply as Lyn and I changed from running to sprinting.
In a few seconds, she and I had already crossed almost all the distance between the dark mages and us and it was only a matter of time before they'd fall to our blades.
"You take the right! I'll take the left!" I say and with a nod, she runs past me toward her target as I do toward mine.
The shaman springs his left hand toward me, a purple tome in his other. "Come forth, o wavering darkness! Flux!" he chants but this time, there is no magic circle as he conjures an orb of darkness from the shadows and hurls it toward me.
So there's different ways of using it too. Just like Erk told me that with a Thunder tome you could summon a Lightning bolt if the weather is appropriate. If the conditions are favorable, a tome can deploy more power. And it's not just anima magic, but also dark and light magic too.
Rolling to the side, I quickly jump at the shaman with a war cry and while I cannot see his face because of his hood, the shock in his eyes is clear enough. Raising his arm as if it could offer him protection, he tries to jump backward but my blade still severs his arm up to his elbow. As blood starts to flow out of the wound, I dash at him and bring my sword up in a horizontal blow that leaves a deep cut from his waist up to his shoulder.
A bit more, and I would have cut him in two.
Breathing heavily, I fall on one knee with a groan, the pain of the injury I suffered at Araphen making itself known now that the adrenaline starts to give away.
"Robin! Are you all right?" I hear Lyn shout in concern and I turn to see her running to me.
"Yeah. I'm fine." I reply with a tired smile. "Exhausted but fine."
Wiping the blood off my blade I shift my gaze at where the battle was still going on only to find the rest of the legion making their way to us.
"How did it go?" I ask Kent as he stops his horse.
"It was quite hard but once you defeated those shamans, the enemy lost their confidence and retreated, leaving their backs open to us. Only a few of them, along with the last shaman, escaped." the red knight answers.
Right after, the boy steps forward, his eyes still holding the frantic look he had earlier. "We must follow them! They still have Ninian!" he exclaims.
Lyn puts a hand on his shoulder. "Nils, you must stay calm. We will go after them but we must not act rash." she said gently before turning to Kent. "What direction did they took?"
"From what I saw, they decided to retreat in the ruins to the west." he replies.
Lyn nods. "Very well. We'll move after everyone had their injuries treated."
"No. We must go right now." I say, still breathing heavily. "We mustn't give them the time to regroup and possibly ambush us. Or worse, call for reinforcement." I explain.
"Not with you breathing like bear. What will we do if you pass out on us? That wouldn't be smart at all." I hear Matthew's voice coming out from the group.
"He's right. You're in no condition to fight again right now." Lyn added.
I open my mouth to retort but the boy -Nils, Lyn called him- speak before I can. "Hum... I can help too, you know." he says shyly.
I raise an eyebrow at him. "And how exactly do you intend to help, young lad? You don't seem like the type to fight." I reply.
"No... But I'm a bard and bards are useful to have around!" Nils replies with a smile.
"A bard? Do you mean you're a minstrel?" Lyn asks, skeptical. "This is no place for a ballad or a saltarello."
I laugh quietly at that and I hear some of the others giggling at the thought.
" Let me show you then!" Nils replies, taking out a flute from the pouch on his belt.
Then, he started to play. The melody was both soothing and exiting. It was as if the notes were carrying magic into them and that this magic enveloped my body entirely. I felt as if it ran through my veins and gave me strength.
But that wasn't what shocked me.
What shocked me was... that the tune was oddly familiar. I knew for certain that I heard it before and that it had some special meaning to it. And I knew that it wasn't something a boy was supposed to know.
The question was, how and where did that boy learn it?
Ending his tune with a few final notes, Nils gives me a big smile. "What do you think?"
I don't answer, at loss of words to describe what I'm feeling right now.
"That was lovely... invigorating, even." Lyn answers in my stead.
"It was refreshing, right? I told you I could help!" the cyan haired youth exclaimed in delight.
Shaking my head and pushing my thoughts away, I stand up and smile. "Thanks for the boost, Nils. Now let's go after those guys and save your sister. There is no time to loose."
And with that, we're off tho the ruins. The closer we get, the more I can see the similarities between those and the old fortress we used as a shelter almost a week ago. However, this one look more like a castle rather than a simple fortress
Maybe this village was once a town with it's own ruler.
Signaling for everyone to stop as we near the desolated place, I turn around and meet their gaze with a determined look.
"The enemy is probably waiting for us as I speak. And inside those walls, our numeric superiority will be pretty much useless and I won't even talk about horses. Here's how we will do it: I want Florina, Kent and Erk to watch this entrance. Rath and Sain, I'll have you look around and guard any exit that you will find. They will probably try to run with Nils's sister since I don't think they will use her as a hostage. She seems important to their master, for some reason. Nils, I want you to stay with Kent. We don't want you to be captured too. Lyn, Dorcas, Serra, Wil, Lucius, Matthew and I will go in and try to rescue Nils's sister. Any questions?"
Seeing no one speaking or raising their hand, I give a nod. "Let's go then."
As the six of us enter the ruins, weapons drawn, I tense, expecting an ambush. But, to my surprise, there was no one.
Weird. I expected at least the shaman to have a spell ready for us for when we would have stepped in.
Proceeding with caution, we made our way in the corridors, Matthew in front thanks to his thief abilities, checking every room and corner, but we found nothing. A bad feeling was making it's way into my guts and I took a deep breath to calm.
Where could they be? This isn't normal that we haven't been attacked yet.
Everyone was silent and tense. They probably were thinking the same thing as me but we hadn't entered to back down now. As we approach a big old wooden door, no doubt the one leading to the throne room, I turn one last time to look at my five companions and nod.
I gesture for Dorcas and he comes at my side.
"We kick the doors open on my signal." I whisper and he nods before posting himself at one of the doors and I do the same.
I look at him and take a deep breath. "Now!" I shout and we both kick the doors at the same time, opening them before the six of us run inside.
The sight that greets us, however, isn't the one I was expecting to last shaman is standing at the center of the room, alone, but while that is surprising in itself, that's not the most surprising of all things.
The room is filled with bones. Human bones that are laying on the ground with old pieces of armor and rusted weapons.
What in the blazes happened here?
Seeing the surprise on our faces, the shaman chuckles. "Impressive, isn't it? The vestiges of an old war are all gathered here. History says that the marquess and his knights fought for an entire day in this very room, repealing wave after wave of enemy before they succumbed to exhaustion and number." he says.
"Where is the boy's sister?" Lyn asks with a cold tone, not paying attention to his rambling.
The man huffs. "You think you are helping the children, are you?" he says as he puts one of his hand inside his robes. "But you're only rushing to your doom." he finishes as he takes out not a tome but a small rectangular box.
My blood runs cold and a sense of dread washes upon me as I look at the object.
"What is this, Henry? Did you find it on one of the Grimleal?"
"I did! I did! And you wouldn't believe what this thing is capable of doing!"
"I can hardly think a simple box can be that special."
"That's the thing! This was made to look as a simple box that someone would open out of simple curiosity, like myself for example! But in fact, this is a Pandora box, literally!"
"Wait. You don't mean-"
"Exactly! This thing, once opened, summons..."
"Risens." I mutter the dreaded name before shouting at the top of my lungs. "LYN! DO NOT LET HIM OPEN THAT BOX!"
For a second, she looks at me with surprised eyes but that second was all the shaman needed as he opens the box and a cloud of purple smoke escapes from before is spreads out in several tendrils that go straight for the bones that are spread all over the room. In a matter of seconds, the smoke tendrils all form into ten or so human forms and before long, there was several purple armored knights standing in front of us, their lifeless red eyes glaring at us and purple smoke coming out of their mouths with each of their breath.
"What in Elimine's name...?" I hear Wil mutter behind me.
Snapping out of my stupor, I immediately took out my Thoron tome, knowing that we wouldn't last very long if I didn't use it.
"We must draw them back! Erk, Lucius! Focus your attack on one of them at a time! Dorcas, Lyn! Cover us! Wil, Matthew! Protect Serra!" I shout and that seemed to make everyone snap back into reality.
The moment I finished my sentence was also the one a knight chose to charge at us with a feral cry, his axe raised in the air.
"O' flickering blaze, burn! Fire!"
"O silver light, grant me the power to defeat evil! Lightning!"
"O righteous lightning, be as a raging spear that runs my enemy through! Thoron!"
The three spells hit the knight straight in the chest and as he dissolves into purple smoke, the other Risen charge at us.
"Be careful, they don't feel pain! We must cut off their head off or deal major damage to their bodies if we want to win this!" I shout as I see Lyn and Dorcas step in front of us, ready to battle. I could already feel the toll of using Thoron affecting me and I wonder, for an instant, how much time I would be able to use it before exhaustion took me.
Taking a quick a breath, I try to assess the situation as fast as possible.
Seven Risens left. Two on Lyn, three on Dorcas and two on Matthew. It takes one hit of Thoron to kill one of them or two spells from either Lucius or Erk. Lyn's stamina isn't going to allow her to dodge for much longer and Dorcas's strength will be reaching it's limits soon. Wil is pretty useless against armored knights like those, as is Matthew, Serra cannot fight and I don't know how many times I will be able to cast Thoron again.
I need to find a solution quickly or we're all going to die!
Then, it hits me.
"Retreat!" I shout. "Fall back into the corridors! It's our only chance!"
Into them, the Risens will only be able to come one at a time. That will make things much easier to kill them and protect ourselves.
"I won't let you." I hear the shaman's voice. I only have the time to turn to the doors to see them close up and a red glowing seal appear on them.
"Shit! The bastard locked us! What do we do now?!" Wil swears.
Gods damnit! Think, Robin! Think! If you cannot retreat, then you can only attack! The best defense is a good offense!
"We must cut ourselves a path! Don't let them corner us! Dorcas, you take point! Don't try to kill them, just make sure they're out of the way! Lucius, get behind Dorcas and cover him! Lyn and Matthew, you take the sides! Serra and Wil to the center! Erk and I will be the rear!" I shout as I put my tome back in my coat and take out the armorslayer strapped on my back. "Let's go!"
With a war cry, which was unusual for him, Dorcas started to run forward, sweeping his axe at any Risen that came in range with us close behind. The Risens, as mindless as they are, didn't try to regroup against our collective charge and as we break the encirclement, I spot the shaman still standing at the same spot he had been earlier, obviously focused on maintaining the magic seal on the door.
"Lyn! Cut him down!" I shout and in a flash, the sacaen swordswoman crosses the distance between her and the dark mage, her grip on Mani Katti tightening as she pierces his throat.
"You were... only striking at air... The girl... is already..." the shaman muttered as he choked his own blood and fell to the ground but I didn't pay attention to it. There was still the Risens to deal with.
"Again! Rally and cut a path to the door!" I ordered and Dorcas ran at the undead warriors, Lucius, Mathew, Erk, Serra and Wil following him as Lyn and I stayed on the side of our formation, pushing back any Risen that got near us.
"Erk! The doors!"
Understanding what I wanted, the red cloaked mage nods before hurling a fireball at the doors and I take out the wind tome that I used to practice.
"O howling wind, knock my enemies down! Wind!" I chant and quickly send the small tornado at the doors.
"Cover you faces!" I warn
The fire met the wind and the explosion that occurred blasted the doors to pieces that went flying everywhere, including at us, but we didn't stop and ran out of the room into the corridors. Behind me, I heard the Risens' cry of rage at the sight of their prey escaping.
As we run, I mentally count the seconds as I take out the Thoron tome once again.
25... 26... 27... 28... 29... 30!
"O righteous lightning," I chant as I spin around to see the Risens running to us, not even ten feet separating them from me. "be as a raging spear that runs my enemy through! Thoron!" I finish to cast as the first knight was raising his axe.
The ray of lightning pierced into and past him, striking the other undead warriors in the corridor. The time seemed to stop as the knight went still, his axe still raised above his head and for several long seconds, I stared into the two red orbs that were locked onto me.
Then, with a cry of agony, the Risens disappear into purple smoke and I all but fall on the ground as the exhaustion of using Thoron leaves me with no energy left to other than lean against the wall.
It worked. Thank the Gods it worked.
As as I start to sit down, I hold a groan of pain and look at my left side to see blood dripping.
When did one of them managed to get me?
I feel a hand on my shoulder and I turn my head to see Lyn -and the others- watching me with concern.
I give them a tired smile. "I'm fine. Exhausted, but fine. Is everyone else all right?" I reply, noticing the gash on Lyn's left shoulder as I finish my question.
"We're all in one piece, if that's what you mean. Dorcas has some shards of wood in his arms and chest but other than that, we're all fine, more or less." she answers.
I sigh in relief. "Good. That's... good." I say between ragged breaths. "That was close. Way too close." I mutter, closing my eyes.
"But you still managed to get us out of this situation. Don't be so hard on yourself." Lyn gently scolds me.
"It was a desperate move. To be honest, I'm surprised none of us has died in there. To think we managed to get away with only some serious injuries... It's nothing short of a miracle." I reply.
"If you say so. But we're all alive and that's what matters." Lyn says before pausing for a moment. "But WHAT were those things? I never heard of something like that before." she adds and I can sense her shivering.
"Whatever that was, I'm not doing this again anytime soon. Those things gave me the worst fear of my life!" Wil says, farther in the corridor.
"Risens." I say and I can feel that everyone's eyes on me. "Undead warriors, soulless soldiers. That's what they are. They don't feel pain and only obey to one instinct: kill. They destroy everything in their path, leaving nothing but ash, blood and dust behind them."
Silence settles in as I finish my explanation, leaving everyone speechless for several seconds.
"Robin... you know about those... Risens?" Lyn asks.
I nod. "I fought them. I don't know where or when, but I know that I fought them numerous times, along with other people. And that it never was easy, even when we had more numbers than them."
"Then how are we still alive? If they're that deadly." Erk asks.
"I can only assume that the shaman didn't know how to control them very well and that we were VERY lucky." I answer.
"No shit. I swear those things are going to give me nightmares." Wil replies.
As we fall silent once again, Serra approaches Lyn and I, her staff in her hands. I suddenly notice that she hasn't said a thing since the fight was over. But judging by how tightly she was griping her staff, I could say that she was frightened too.
"I finished to heal Dorcas. The others don't have very serious injuries. There's only yours to treat." she says.
My eyes widen. She just spent all this time healing him? The man must have been more wounded than I thought. But then again, it had been him that had taken the most of the blast of the door and he had been fighting several Risens before. I guess that was to be expected.
I nod, giving her an 'okay' and she points her staff at my wound. A few seconds and a 'thank you' later, the pain is gone and the only reminder of the wound is the blood stained hole in my robe. Serra heals Lyn just the same before she slumps against the wall and close her eyes, obviously exhausted.
Several minutes pass before I hear footsteps nearby and a moment later, the rest of the legion shows up with Nils, Matthew and Kent in the lead.
I don't know when the thief leaved but right now, I'm just glad he went to fetch the others.
The red knight simply nods at me and I nod back. Matthew must have filled them on what happened. Slowly, but surely, we all start moving again and soon enough, we're back in the room where we fought and everyone sit down more or less as Kent and Sain throw the corpse outside.
"Nils. Where is your sister?" Lyn asks, breaking the silence, and I narrow my eyes.
That's true. Where is she? We didn't saw her and if anyone had left the ruins, Rath and Sain would've been there.
The young minstrel looks at the ground, sorrow filling his eyes. "She's not here." he says, pausing for a second. "Why? Where could she be?"
The shaman's last word come back to my mind and I bit my lips.
"I'm afraid they managed to slip between our fingers." I answer. "I heard the shaman say that they had already taken her before he died. We were too late." I finish with guilt in my voice.
At that moment, Rath speaks up. "While you were fighting inside, on of the villagers came to me and said that he had seen a group of men riding south."
"The boy's dear sister... they must have her!" Sain exclaims.
"If that's true, then there's nothing we can do." I mutter bitterly before punching the wall beside me in anger. "Damnit!"
"No! We must make chase!" Lyn says hastily as she stands up.
I look at her and shake my head. "We're in no condition for that, Lyn. Most of us are too exhausted for another battle. And even if we weren't, there's no way we will make it before night falls since only three of us here have a mount." I retort.
"Are you looking for this girl here?"
An unfamiliar voice makes me snap my head toward the entrance of the room. There stands a red haired man clad in deep blue clothes and armor, a rapier strapped at his side... and an unconscious cyan haired young woman in his arms.
Instantly, Nils runs to them and hugs his sister as the man settles her down. "Ninian! Ninian!"
The man puts a hand on his shoulder. "Calm down. She'll be fine. She just lost consciousness." he says.
"Who are you?" Lyn cuts in, approaching him.
He looks at her for a second before answering. "I'm Eliwood of Pherae. My father is the marquess." the man presents himself and I hear an intake of breath coming from behind.
"The marquess's son..." Lyn mutters in disbelief.
"She was with a band of ruffians. She seemed upset." Eliwood explains. "She looked in need of rescuing... Was I wrong to involve myself?" he asks, almost shyly.
I laugh out loud at that.
"Hum... Did I say something funny?" the red head asks, looking at me with a raised eyebrow.
I shake my head, trying to control my laugher. "No. I'm just laughing at how lucky were are in this day." I answer before finally calming myself. "You saved her life. Thank you." I tell him with a grateful look. "My name is Robin. Pleased to meet you, Eliwood."
"My name is Lyn." the sacaean woman presents herself too. "I'm from Sacae. And marquess Caelin's granddaughter."
Eliwood's eyes widen slightly at her. "Marquess Caelin?"
Lyn nod and she starts to tell him what happened to her during the past weeks as I study Nils and his sister.
Again, as when I saw him first, I sense some sort of a familiar feeling when I look at her. And yet, I'm pretty sure that I never met her or her brother before.
Lost in my thoughts, I snap back to reality as I hear Lyn finish telling her tale. "And that's our story. It's not an easy tale to believe, I know, but-"
Eliwood shakes his head. "No. I do believe you." he cuts her and her eyes widen slightly.
"At first glance, all I saw was a daughter of the plainsfolk." He says. "But now I can see it, tough. You have your grandfather's eyes."
"Do you know my grandfather?" Lyn aks, her eyes widening a bit more.
"Lord Haussen is one of my father's good friends." Eliwood replies with a smile. "I also know that the proud people of Sacae tell no lies. It's true, isn't it?"
Lyn gives him a grateful smile. "Yes... Thank you." she says. "I would not have expected a Lycian noble to be so courteous to a Sacaean nomad."
Eliwood smiles back, understanding what she meant. "Judging by what you told me, you seemed to be in trouble. May I be of assistance?"
Lyn shakes her head. "Thank you for you kind offer. But this is my problem, and I'll deal with it."
Eliwood nods at her, not sounding surprised. "I see. I'll be in the area for a few days longer. If you need anything, please let me know." he says before turning around and walk back the way he came. Stopping at the door, he glances at her. "Lyndis, I am on your side." he adds before walking away.
"Eliwood... Thank you." Lyn whispers.
At least, we have one ally with us in the Lycian league now.
I sigh in relief at the sight the crystal orb is showing to me. For a few moments, I had been so scared for Robin and his companions that I almost had activated a long range Sacrifice but, in the end, the tactician had managed to find a way out of their situation.
"What are you sighing for? Did something happen?" I hear the familiar voice in the room and I turn to see Sothe leaning against a wall.
"Oh, Sothe. I didn't notice you. And to answer your question, something ALMOST happened." I reply.
He raises an eyebrow. "Something so grave that it would have necessitated the use of Sacrifice? Just in what trouble did that tactician put himself into this time?"
"He faced Risens. It seems that the enemy has given the black fang the means to summon them." I reply.
"If that's so, then that means he's recovering his strength faster than we thought. Naga must hurry." Sothe comments.
"She knows that all to well. But even godlike power has it's limits."
"A battle between deities... Warriors back from the dead... This is what happened with Ashera all over again." the thief says with a sigh.
"And like before, we will fight. Because when the time comes, our friend will need us." I reply.
"Right. A friend who doesn't even remember us." Sothe mutters in diesbelief.
I laugh slightly. "Now now, Sothe. Has anything we've done ever been easy?"
"Have you ever seen me complain?" he retorts.
"Not during battle, that for sure." I reply, still smiling. "But outside of it? I think you complain more about things that have little matter than Tormod does about his height."
The thief grimaces. "That was a low blow, Micaiah." he growls.
I smirk. "That's for being so gloom, my dear bodyguard."
Sother groans at that before palming his face. "I'm starting to think Katarina's attitude is slowly corrupting you."
I smile at him.
"Maybe, maybe not." I say before turning my attention back to the crystal orb and as I do, I hear a sigh behind me.
Night had already fallen for quite some time now. And yet, I cannot asleep. I have too much on my mind, too much to think about and I certainly didn't want to sleep if that was to be assaulted by nightmares of red eyed monsters.
So here I am, outside the old castle, thinking.
After Eliwood had left, we all decided to stay with Nils and Ninian, in case the kidnappers would come back, and it was at that time that I noticed Matthew had been absent for quite a while. Thus, I had wandered out of the castle and I had ended up finding him discussing with Eliwood and another man clad dressed in full blue heavy armor, save for a helmet. Hector, the younger brother of marquess Ositia, I learned later after confronting the thief about this. He had revealed to me, after making me swear not to tell the others, that he was a spy working for house Ositia and had been sent to watch marquess Caelin's granddaughter. He also told me that Eliwood and Hector were here for they monthly sparring, which explained why two lords would come in such a quiet area.
Next was the matter of the Risen. For an unknown reason, I cannot shake off the feeling that it shouldn't have been possible for that shaman to possess a reeking box in the first place, and even less possible for him to control them.
And there's the strange feeling that I was getting around the young minstrel and his sister. It felt like I knew them, while at the same time they were total strangers to me. As if... they were siblings that I only heard of and never saw for myself. Quite troubling. Also, why did this Black Fang wanted to capture both of them? I can guess why they'd want the girl but why Nils? To sell him as a slave? No, they talked about a 'master Nergal'. But what could be so special about those two siblings that an entire squadron of those guys had to be sent after them? Moreover, what was one of them doing with a gods-forsaken reeking box?
There was also the fact that they seemed to have recognized me...
All in all, with so much in mind, I just couldn't sleep.
"Still awake, I see. Is there something troubling you?"
I turn my head to see Lyn walking toward me. I stay silent as she sits beside me and I let out a short sigh.
"It's been a long day. But even though I feel pretty tired, I have too much to think about to sleep. What about you?"
She smiles slightly. "I too, must deal with quite a lot of thoughts on my mind. With each day that passes, I feel like there's more to add to the list."
"You know my answer to things like this: 'think about the answer, not-"
"Nor the problem'. I know. But I do not have the answers and I'm not sure if I want to hear them or not if I had them.
I stay silent at that, pondering how to reply, before laughing slightly. "You know, I'm the tactician here. I'm the one supposed to do the thinking."
She chuckles. "Yeah, right."
As we fall into a comfortable silence, I close my eyes for a few seconds, feeling the night breeze on my face. When I open them again and turn toward Lyn, the sigh that greets me takes my breath away.
She is looking in front of her, smiling slightly with her face bathed in moonlight and her ponytail waving slightly with the wind. I just can't detach myself from this view and for a moment, I forget to breath.
Had she always looked this beautiful?
She blinks and as she turns her gaze to me, I find myself staring at her eyes, those two green orbs that look like they could pierce my soul if they wanted to.
She tilts her head, still smiling. "Is there something wrong?" she asks.
I find that I cannot speak, let alone think about anything other than how gorgeous she looks right now as I take the sigh in and grave it in my mind.
Oh yes, there's something wrong. Something very wrong with me, that is.
She come closer to me, her eyes still looking at me questionably, until her face is just inches from mine and she presses a hand against my forehead.
"Weird. You're all red and yet you have no fever." she comments and I feel the heat on my face increasing as is my heartbeat.
Before I can totally loose control of myself, I turn my head to the side and take a deep breath, trying to calm myself but to no avail.
Focus, Robin! Focus! No, do not focus on her face! Think of something else! Yeah, that's right think of anything else! Like-
My internal chanting is suddenly cut off as I feel a pair of arms embracing me from behind and I choke on my breath as Lyn's scent, a mix between crushed pine needles and grass, hits me.
"Lyn...?" I manage to utter.
"Sorry, I just- can we stay like this...? Even if it's just for a moment?" she replies and I find the strength to nod. "Thank you." she whispers before resting her head on my back.
I don't know for how long we stayed like that, sitting on the ground with her embracing me. It could have been just a few minutes or an hour but to me, it felt as is I was living an moment of eternity.
"Lyn...?" I whisper after the gods know how long but the only answer I get is the steady breathing of an asleep person.
Slowly, but surely, I turn around, carefully trying not to wake her, and bring an arm under her knees while I grab her shoulders with the other.
I stand up, carrying Lyn bridal style, before slowly making my way back to the castle. Kent, who is still on his watch, raises an eyebrow at me when I pass beside him and I shrug, not knowing how to answer his silent question.
Silently making my way into the throne room, I gently lay Lyn down before covering her with a blanket. Smiling as she mumbles something in her sleep.
"Sweet dreams..." I whisper before going back to the entrance.
"Get some rest, Kent. I'll take the watch." I say to the red knight and he raises an eyebrow at me, again.
"Are you sure?" he asks
I nod. "Yeah, I am. Don't worry, I'll wake you or Sain if I feel like I'm falling asleep." I reply, knowing fully that there is no way I could fall asleep after what just happened.
Kent gives me a grateful nod before he stands up and goes back inside. My gaze follow him until he disappears at a corner and I chuckle slightly before sitting down once gain.
"Sounds like I'm in for a sleepless night." I say to myself, looking at the stars with more things to think about than ever.
Like? Love? Hate? Review!
And done! There was quite a lot of action in this one and I hope you enjoyed it!
This is MidnightFenrir, author of "Child of the Fell and Divine dragons", signing out!