hmm...i seem to be updating relatively quickly....maybe thats why my grades are dropping...:P
I realized that I've forgotten about Jenna's parents and Isaac's dad. Just pretend they...uh...didn't survive the fight on the Mars Lighthouse
He knew he had to run. His hand dropped the bloody pitchfork as he turned and started to run. Panting, he had a horrible thought of his family back home in his burning town. He slowed, but the will to survive pushed him back into a full on sprint as he ran through the woods. "Damnit...how am I going to get out of here?" His sense of direction had been disoriented in the battle, as he had watched three of his best friends die and countless other brave souls fighting around him.
He tripped over a root and fell flat on his face. "Shit. Where the hell is the way out of this cursed forest." Pulling himself up, he ran on. Suddenly, he heard voices to the left of him.
"It's one of them, get him!" Metal clanged as soldiers started to give chase in their metal tunics. The man swore as arrows zipped by. He was tiring and he knew there was no way he was going to make it unless he found help soon. Just as the thought that he might die passed through his head, he found himself on a hill overlooking the Tolbi docks. Breathing heavily, he ran down toward the docks, hoping for a ship to jump on and leave.
He ran past the port's bazaar, the stalls deserted and goods lying everywhere. A few people were running through as well on their way to the docks. He looked down the main street.
"Daddy, Daddy!" A girl screamed. She ran down toward him, her torn skirt and messy brown hair flapping in the light breeze. Smiling, he picked her up in his dirty and scuffed arms, glad that his family had miraciously escaped from their destroyed village. He almost skipped with his daughter in his arms down to his waiting wife and son. Unfortunately, he had forgotten about the pursuing Tolbian troops.
Arrows flew through the air. His daughter screamed. He gathered his family in front of him and started to run. The extra weight in his arms was slowing him down and hindering his ability to run. Suddenly, he stumbled on some vegetables that were strewn over a section of the road. The sudden fall saved his life as two arrows flew right by where his back had just been, but they thudded into his wife's head and neck.
"Damnit!" There was nothing to be done. One look at the pooling blood and still body told him that she had at least died a relatively quick death. Grieving and stricken, he resolved to get his children out safely. He picked himself up and continued to run with his two children. But the soldiers behind him were gaining. The man saw a ship docked by the port readying to leave, already full of people. "Get to the ship!" he yelled at his children running in front of him. His body twisted violently as a black arrow struck his left shoulder. It was all he could do to keep running and keep his children from harm with his own body.
50 yards from the ship, another arrow sunk itself into his leg. His children turned at the sound of their father thudding into the ground, his calf and shoulder bleeding heavily. "Daddy!" The girl screamed louder and the boy's face was white with fear and panic.
"No, don't stop! Keep moving! Get on that ship!" The father knew his life was now being counted down in seconds. "I'll come after you in a different ship, just go!" His son felt differently, but he kept quiet as tears ran in small rivers down his face. The boy picked up his sister's arm and half dragged her along to the ramp that led up to the ship. The ramp was pulled up after him and his sibling. He stared over the side at the still body of his father and hugged his bawling sister next to him, to short to see her father succumb to the immense blood loss and the Tolbian soldiers.
The boy spoke, "Why...I don't understand." The ship sailed over the Karangol Sea at a brisk pace, full of other refugees fleeing the Tolbi Revolution. He looked at his sister, new resolve filling up in him. "We'll go to a safe place. We'll get away from all this war." His inner strength was betrayed by the myriad of tears flowing down his sister's and his face.
"Imil is now a slave town. We were the only ones who managed to get out and survive the people who were chasing us," said Justin. "These men in black cloaks raided our town. We didn't know they were coming since our lookouts were killed, by the looks of it, pretty quickly. Only luck had Megan and me in the lighthouse outside of town. Most of the people were inside the town and it was the lucky few that went with us that made it here..."
Mia could only stand in shock with Isaac's comforting arm around her. There were only 400 people in Imil, each of whom she could attach a name to, but now 338 of them were stuck as slaves to Lunpa's will. She could only guess what they were going to do under the control of Lunpa's army.
"Don't worry Mia. We'll figure out something. There's no way we'll let your people sit in chains under Lunpa's thumb," said Jenna. Her reassurance was clouded by the fact that there was no easy way to get to Imil and rescue the people. Isaac had no words to say, just hugging Mia closer to him. Felix and Garet were busy sorting through the 50 or so survivors, giving them food and warm hospitality, but nothing could drive out their shock of being driven out of their homes. It seemed as if the horrors, of a conflict that hadn't even really begun, were just going to keep coming.
The VDF was bolstered with more recruits, volunteers who trained and worked hard for vengeance. Thankfully Vale had been built to grow to five times its initial size, so accommodations were not a problem. With more people to help build and work, houses were erected for the former Vault civilians in no time at all. The majority of the Imilians refused to consider Vale their new home, just a place to stop, rest, and prepare for revenge. They stayed in the now very full inn and in some of the houses of the more generous Valeans, new and old.
Some small towns that had sprung up in the general area of Vale also joined the growing town/city. Vale's population was on the rise since the surrounding people were not feeling too safe in their small villages. After all, if Vault can be destroyed, then why can't small rural villages be as well?
Ivan and Sheba approached the stoic Isaac and the silently crying Mia. Ivan looked at his leader and friend, "Our contact in Imil is still ok, so she'll continue to provide us with information, but she's hiding out in the area around the town so we won't get regular or completely on hand reports, but it's the best we can do."
Isaac nodded. Already, his mind was working on to how they can effectively deal with Lunpa and freeing Imil at the same time. There wasn't any obvious solution. There was only one way into Imil and one way out without going through freezing and treacherous mountains. VDF soldiers weren't available in the numbers needed to assault the Lunpa citadel and take back Imil at the same time. Besides, an army would instantly be noticed passing Lunpa on its way to Imil, providing plenty of warning.
His sister was blissfully quiet and asleep. He had managed to get a small room for the night in the Kalay inn with the last of his scrounged money. After a week of wandering around the countryside after leaving the Kalay docks, he had managed to find the city of Kalay with his sister in tow. The pain of his parent's abrupt deaths was still fresh in his heart, apparent in the tears that coursed down his face after his sister fell asleep.
There was a knock on the door, "Michael?" The 13-year old got up out of the single bed he was sharing with his sister and walked to the door. In stepped the innkeeper's wife with a tray of hot soup and bread with cheese. "The two of you looked so hungry, so I thought I'd make you some dinner. Just leave the tray outside the door when you're done, okay?" With that she left the heavy food laden tray in Michael's arms. Slightly stunned, he turned around and set the food on the bedside table.
"Raine? Raine wake up. We got some food." Michael shook his sister's sleeping form. Raine woke up, rubbing her eyes.
"What?" Her eyes blinked sleepily a few times. "I smell something good. What is it Michael?" She scanned the room, her eyes resting on the tray heaped with bread, cheese and two large bowls of soup. "Oh, food!" Their exhausting journey from the Tolbi docks combined with little food and rest consisting of sleeping on the road side or in any sort of shelter they could find, had worn the two out to point of losing hope that they would or could continue to live.
The two dug into the delicious soup laden with meat and vegetables. The fresh baked bread slightly melted the cheese that was on it, providing for excellent nourishment and a general sense of well-being. Done in an amazingly short span of time, Michael took the tray and put it on the floor outside their room. Returning, he saw his sister already snuggling up in the covers of the bed. Sighing as he wondered what they would do next, Michael climbed in and resolved to figure it out after some rest.
A quick thanks and nod to the kind innkeepers and Michael was out the door with a protesting Raine. "Why can't we stay? These people were so nice. They gave us food and a room for almost no money."
"They only helped us because they felt sorry for us, two...two or...orphans wandering around. We need to find a way to survive on our own."
"How are we going to do that?" Raine questioned. For a 10 year old, she was quite bright and was determined to not let the deaths of her parents stop her from living. She looked at the bustling merchant town around her, the town already alive in the early hours of the morning.
"I don't know...I was thinking of going to Vale. They just finished rebuilding their town according to the local papers. Maybe they could use a couple of younger people to help with small errands and stuff. Besides, I told you about the heroes who saved our world, right? They supposedly live in Vale." For a village boy, Michael kept up with his current events. He stopped every merchant who wandered through his now burnt town to ask them for world news. His room had been filled with odd trinkets and paper, with every scrap of information he could get about the world around him.
"Oooo...that would be so cool. Could we meet them?" Raine had loved the story, although it was more of a collection of rumors that had floated in with a few merchants and passing visitors that Michael had pieced together.
"Maybe, but first we need to get there." The two walked out with a small pack of food and only general directions of where to go. What they were not told was that there was no longer any safe town to stop in between Kalay and Vale over the three day trip.
Felix looked at the others around the table. "Alright, so we're all agreed?" Nods circled the large ornately decorated table in the town hall. Days had passed. The time had been spent debating and planning a plan to free Imil. The original plan to wait and train the VDF was no longer an option. A slave town could not be something to be waited for, but the task at hand was a giant chore. It required at least a month of preparation but it was time that was deemed necessary for a mission on this scale to succeed. Each person involved in decision left the building, contemplating the extreme difficulty of the operation.
The first step was for Ivan and Sheba to send a mental note to his sister Hama and from there she would forward it to Feizhi, since only Ivan's sister knew Feizhi well enough to communicate with her over long distances. Without a hitch, their operation started smoothly, but it was only the beginning.
Jenna watched her brother gnawing on his lip over the large map of Weyward on the table. "Hey bro, shouldn't you be getting some sleep? You don't look too good."
Felix looked over, "Yeah, I know I haven't been getting much sleep. It's been too chaotic with Vale suddenly full of refugees and people driven from their homes." He had bags under his eye and it was obvious by the many yawns that he covered that sleep was non-existent.
"Go home now. I'm telling you to get some rest," commanded Jenna. "You're not going to work well if you don't get sleep." Her concern showed in the pleading eyes but firm voice.
"Fine." Jenna's tall brother walked out and headed for the home that he shared with his sister. It was a sad thing that his parents were no longer alive to share it with him, but he knew his parents would never want him moping over them. Through the door, down the hall and into his room, Felix flopped on his bed. "If it wasn't for Jenna, I probably would have overexerted myself..." he thought to himself. "A little sleep should help me..." The Venus adept fell into a slumber within seconds.
Mia walked among the houses whose inhabitants included those who she knew from Imil. She visited each one, sharing grief and consoling them that everything would be all right with the power of the eight strongest adepts in the world. Done with her rounds, she returned to her room in the inn.
"Don't feel too bad. We'll get your people freed," said Isaac, standing in front of the door to her room.
"I know we will, but I'm not very happy with the time it'll take to get everything organized," replied Mia. Her contributions to the discussions that had taken place were mostly complaints about how long it would take to get her people free.
"But if we were to try now, we might fail. Do you want Imil to suffer more because we failed rescuing them? Besides, we would lose the army that we've worked so hard for. With Eastern Angara's help, we stand a much better chance," reasoned Isaac. Mia's concern was no doubt linked to the fact that she wanted Imil free as fast as possible.
"I guess...but I don't know how long I can stand just waiting around while my hometown is enslaved." Mia hugged Isaac. "I'll talk to you later." She disappeared inside.
Isaac sighed. He headed for the training grounds of the Vale Defense Force. Garet was putting the men through their paces. "Hehe...I don't think I'll ever get used to the fact that us 19 year olds are training some men twice our age." The blond adept thought. Seeing some problems among the younger trainees, some as young as 13, he barked out, "Bend those knees! I want flexible soldiers, not breakable wood!" Isaac proceeded to straighten out the form of several recruits. The next few hours till dinner were spent whipping the VDF into a fighting force to be reckoned with. Lunpa had had far more time to train, but Vale's men had heart and soul.
"Move out! I want us to be at our destination in under a week!" Feizhi knew it was impossible, but she wanted to be on the front lines as soon as possible. Hama had told her what was happening up north and west, and she was not hesitating in helping out old friends. She flipped her purple hair out of her face in the light wind, "Hsu, are all the supplies in place?"
"Uh...yeah, I think so. We're ready to go," replied a plump short man. Two battalions were set to leave Xian along with a full squad of adepts. It was a dangerous amount to leave Eastern Angara with, since Altin's military was shaping up, but the Lunpa situation with Imil was judged to be far more serious.
Xian's little army could be considered small when compared to larger cities like Tolbi, but with a history of martial arts, Xian's soldiers were in far better shape than the majority of the world. Feizhi was the strongest adept in the force due to her longer exposure and training to psynergy. After the beacons had been lit, she had experienced a significant increase in the abilities passed down to her from Hama. With the other 20 adepts of varying skill and the 200 heavily armed soldiers, Feizhi had no doubt she could help Vale, but she worried about leaving her town with only 50 soldiers for defense.
"Master Hama wouldn't have me leave Xian unless she knew it was completely safe for me to go," said Feizhi to reassure herself. With that, the Jupiter adept led the two columns of men and women north. "I might get to see Isaac again too..."
Nicoli was irritated. His nose was nearly frozen from the cold Imilian weather. Being from Lunpa, he wasn't quite used to cold and hadn't brought enough warm clothing and being a proud man, he refused anything warm from his army's officers in the slave town.
"I want the quota increased by a hundred here!" he yelled over the noise of hammering metal to the local commanding officer. He sighed. Lunpa had just been bolstered with a large amount of recruits from who knew where, and there wasn't enough equipment for them. Luckily for Dodonpa, Imil was now under his control and he set the town to producing anything their town needed. Nicoli was sick of the Imil's hostile attitude toward their occupiers; "With their work increased, they'll be less occupied with thinking up escape plans," he thought to himself. He was holding the children hostage so as to force the parents to make unflawed weapons, armor, and equipment. Luckily for the children, Nicoli didn't believe in harming younger people, who in his opinion "couldn't think for themselves yet." The kids were in one building, but they were given food, toys and general comforts. It also served to show the parents that as long as they worked hard, their children would be living a decent life. Well, as decent as one could live in a slave town.
He stalked back outside into the cold. "Its summer damnit...I am so not used to this kind of weather." He walked to the edge of the town and climbed up a ladder to one of the hastily erected guard towers facing south. His men weren't faring much better in the bitter wind, especially in a structure that extended 50 feet into the air. The trio saluted Nicoli as he stood up off the ladder. "Seen anything?"
"Nothing. A couple of Maulers and wild wyverns but our wyverns managed to keep them away," replied one black clad soldier.
"Hmph. All right...keep watch. You're relief shift will come in two hours." Nicoli went back down. "Its time I got out of this wretched place."
"Hey look at this. It's a message from Feizhi. She says she just left Kolima. That puts her two days out of Xian and a week and a half to her destination," said Ivan, looking at a message sent by bird in his hand. Ivan, Isaac, Felix, Picard, and Jenna were sitting the town's hall lounge room taking a break from the day's activities. New Vale was as busy as ever, but they needed a break from time to time. "Oh, she also mentions that there weren't any soldiers in Kolima to recruit."
"That's pretty fast. I wonder if our soldiers will be ready in a week," said Picard. The Lemurian had spent most of his time training the Vale Defense Force in missile weapons. He was by far the best archer of the group and his long lifetime in Lemuria gave the Valeans invaluable experience of the siege weapons from the island's records. Using Ivan's quick mind as a mine of innovation and creativity, Picard had developed catapults that could launch exploding balls that were based off of Ivan and Garet's grenades. Also in Vale's inventory of siege weapons were scorpions, large crossbows mounted on wheels that launched large bolts with explosive metal or wooden tips. "Our siege department has made huge progress, and with the addition of the troops from the Kalay area-"He was interrupted with a crash of doors suddenly being opened.
"Felix! Isaac!" Megan ran through the doors of the town hall and into the room where the aforementioned adepts were sitting. "Someone just came into to town with the news that Kolima and Bilibin's armies were killed by Lunpa, and there are these two kids who were carried in by a patrol. They looked half dead, but Mia's looking at them now. Garet told me to come get you guys." She stopped to catch her breath. Quickly, though, she recovered and led the others out a brisk pace. Reaching the psynergy stone fountain, she pointed at Mia's form crouched over two bodies and off to the right, the mayor scribbling rapidly as words spewed from a stranger's mouth.
The five adepts ran to Mia's side and looked on to one badly injured teenage guy and a younger, less injured, girl. The guy was unconscious but the girl was whimpering, her eyes wide with fear. Mia looked up. "Oh, hey. They were brought in by a patrol. According to the patrol commander, they were both found on the main road from Kalay under attack from bats and several wild caps. They're not in terrible shape, mostly superficial injuries on the surface, nothing I can't deal with."
"Lucky for them our men got there," said Felix, frowning on the fact that such two children were walking alone out in the increasingly dangerous world.
"It was lucky, but only because he was so badly injured. The two of them actually killed all of the monsters," said Mia, her arms hovering over the chest of the boy, glowing blue.
"Really? How does that work...did he have a weapon?" asked Picard.
Ivan bent to touch the teenager's forehead. "Adept. This guy knows psynergy."
Mia nodded, "He did have a dagger, probably stolen since it looked a little too nice for a person this age to be able to buy one. The patrol leader happened to be an adept and saw the guy launching Flares and Fire attacks at the monsters. He also said that when the guy was knocked out by a cap from behind, the girl went berserk and launched a couple Spire attacks, even though she was barely capable of a Quake before that. After that, the girl collapsed. She only woke up now and she won't talk to me beyond her name." Mia set the guy down, his injuries healed.
Turning to the girl, Mia said with a soft, kind voice, "Raine, will you say hi to Isaac, Felix, Ivan, Picard, and Jenna? They're my friends here in Vale."
At the sound of Vale and the names, Raine perked up, "Vale? The town of the heroes that Michael told me about? Are you Mia, the Mercury adept that traveled the world to light the lighthouses? And are you guys really the heroes that saved the world from shrinking?" She said it all in one breath, leaving her gasping for breath at the end of her stream of questions.
All six looked slightly taken aback. They knew that the world knew the rumors about their journey, but to have a young girl bombard them with questions like that was slightly out of the ordinary. Jenna was the first to break the silence with a smile; "Why yes we are those heroes. Its nice to meet you Raine. I'm Jenna, but my name is nowhere near as pretty as yours." She sat down next to the dark brown haired Raine, and nodded at Mia. "Your brother will be ok thanks to our Mia."
"Yeah I know. This merchant came into town talking about a group of eight heroes with a beautiful blue-haired angel who's healing powers were so good that she could raise the dead. If Mia can raise the dead, then my brother should be no big deal," said Raine in a worry-free voice.
Isaac laughed at that and squatted down in front of the young Venus adept. "Mia can't revive the dead, but she is pretty good with her healing skills. I hear that you have some skills of your own." The rest of the group arranged themselves in a circle around the still unconscious Michael and his sister, interested to hear the story of these adepts who had stumbled into town. The failed attack by Bilibin and Kolima forgotten.
"Not really. I can only do weak earth attacks and move things around, but nothing very big. Michael is much better than I am with his fire stuff, but we both never got really any help with it. It started a few years ago when we were outside our village in the fields and we saw this purple stone. We touched it the at same time and it knocked out both of us. After that, we could sense some power inside of us, but even then all I could do was move around small objects and Michael could start fires without a match, but nothing else. But then we saw those really bright beams cross the sky and after that, we started feeling more and more psynergy in us. You guys caused those beams to fly across the sky, right? By lighting the lighthouses?" asked Raine, her eyes now free of tears and wide in awe of being in the presence of such people.
Ivan laughed, "Yeah we lit the lighthouses. Do you mind if I Mind Read you?"
Raine looked hesitant but changed her mind and said, "Nope, I want to see you read my mind." Her forehead was touched be Ivan's hand, waves of Jupiter psynergy visible to everyone there pulsing through the air linking the two minds. The girl looked surprised as she felt her mind being read, but she also looked genuinely interested in what was going on.
Ivan released the link, and smiled, "So all you know about us is from some traveling merchants and visitors to your town, but I'm sorry about your parents." The others looked up at the mention of parents, which were obviously lacking at the moment.
The girl sighed, "Yeah, my mom died running from those bad Tolbi soldiers. They burned my hometown and we were lucky to escape. My dad said he would come in another ship but we haven't seen him or anything. It's only been Michael and me for the past two weeks." She slipped off into a state of depression, remembering her parents and lost home. Seeing this Jenna slid her arm around the girl's thin shoulders, trying to give some comfort. However, footsteps interrupted their moment. The adepts looked up.
The mayor of Vale and Garet were jogging toward them with concerned looks. "I'm surprised the lot of you didn't come to hear the message of Bilibin and Kolima's failed attack first. The news is bad. They mustered up 1500 men from all over their part of Angara and attacked Lunpa. As of 24 hours ago, there were only around 700 left, and more lives are being lost as we speak."
A/N: Lots of deaths in this chapter...hope you don't mind...and if you do, or if you don't, review! I'm not very good with names, Michael seems so ordinary, but I like the name Raine...and yes I haven't put OCs for my amusement only...they will play a part in the plot...and o yeah...I'm not putting up another chapter till I get 20 reviews....I'm not really asking for much here...