Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: Very short author's note, since I can't wait to get this started. Here it is, the final chapter of A Different Kind of Storm. Now, for those of you that are inevitably going to ask this question, yes, there will be an epilogue, because yes, I really do want to write the wedding. But the main part of the story is finished now. Thank you so much for all your support. You're all awesome people, and I'm really thankful to have readers like this.
Traveling Trainer – Chekhov's Gun is probably my favorite trope to use in my own writing. I just love pulling things like this, and I'm glad it turned out well this time. Hope you enjoy this chapter, and thanks for your support!
Stardust897 – Wow, TVtropes? You have no idea how surprised I was to find out that I made Fanfic Recs for this story. I'm so glad you like it! And yes, there will be a wedding, though it will be in the epilogue.
Sakura Li-chan – Haha, sorry about that. Well, everything is resolved now, so thank you for your support, and I hope you like how it ends.
X-Strike-Fire-Dragon – I think we'd have to agree to disagree on that one, since I personally think it's selflessness to want other people to survive, not selfishness. But you're welcome as always for the chapter, and thank you for the constructive criticism.
Cstan – Hmm…I wonder. Read on to find out! Thanks for the review!
Kaiora – I'm so glad you like it! Hope you enjoy this chapter too!
Knight-Dawn – It's alright, I laughed at Wo's comments as I was writing them too. He meant for it to just be more curse words, but for Amiti, they actually happen to be true. But Amiti is awesome anyway, so that's fine. Thanks for the review!
icyblueicy – So glad you like it! Hope you like how it ends! Thanks for reviewing!
Gravaja Umbros – That's awesome, I'm glad you figured it out! It was actually pretty obvious to Alex, and if you figured it out, than that means that I set it up in such a way that Alex could have easily figured it out too…if that makes sense. Tell me if your other guess works out too, and thanks for all your support!
A Different Kind of Storm
Amiti stood in the darkness of the cave as Alex walked in, the outline of his figure coming into view with the light behind him. There was no mistaking that confident stance, head held high and cape tossed carelessly over one shoulder. His father was here. Amiti hesitated for just a moment, taking a deep breath as his fingers brushed Masamune's hilt, one of his hands gripping the sheath and pulling the sword out of his belt slightly. Alex looked up at the movement, and even in the dim light, Amiti saw his mouth curl into a smirk.
"Don't even bother, Amiti," he said. "I know you're here. Why don't you come out, and we can stop playing this game."
Beyond the words lay another meaning. The game had only just begun. Amiti lowered his hand from his sword and replaced Masamune, drawing himself up to his full height and stepping out of the shadows. He straightened his shoulders, keeping his posture fitting to someone of the royal line of Ayuthay. Only when he stood in front of his father fully did he realize he had mimicked Alex in stance.
They faced each other, Alex smug, Amiti defiant.
"It was a good effort," said Alex, "But the game's over."
Amiti shuttered all his emotions behind his face, every ounce of his political training coming back to him in that instant. He met Alex's eyes, his gaze unwavering. "Oh?" he asked.
"Did you think I wouldn't figure out what you were doing?" asked Alex. "I knew what you were up to the moment you surrendered to Wo. You." Alex shook his head, still smirking. "Nicely done, Amiti. After all that trouble we went through to make Wo attack you in the first place."
Amiti's eyes widened at that revelation. "You," he said.
Alex nodded. "All it took was a few whispers in Kaocho's direction that you had gone soft, and pushing some of Morgal's malcontents Wo's way. I was hoping you would pull something like this, actually. It would have been disappointing if you had let yourself get drawn into the trap."
"I don't need your approval," said Amiti coldly.
His father nodded again. "You would say that," he said. "It was a good plan, but you should have kept your forces in the shelter instead of sending them here. It was clear that you were hiding something in this island from the very beginning."
Amiti's eyes widened further in surprise, and the composed mask he had been wearing cracked slightly. Alex, seeing this, raised an eyebrow and smiled. "How did you know that?" asked Amiti.
"I'm not completely blind, Amiti," said Alex, pushing his hair back off his shoulder. "The rumors about this island came first and foremost from Champa pirates. Pirates under your friend Eoleo. The mists and strange occurrences on this island line up perfectly with Princess Himi's abilities. You've kept in close contact with both of them over the years. It was easy to guess, especially coupled with Kaocho's stories that they were attacked by pirates that appeared out of nowhere, that you set this island up as a pirate hideout, and had Eoleo and Himi spread the rumors to stop people from looking around here."
Amiti suppressed a gasp. He grunted in acknowledgment, his eyes narrowing in anger as his fists clenched. The temperature in the air dropped a few degrees as they faced each other. Alex continued.
"It wasn't that hard to make the jump from pirate hideout to soldier hideout," he said. "We know how many soldiers you have in your army, Amiti. We also know that the fact that Ayuthay was almost empty means you moved them somewhere. And with all the ships in your newly constructed harbor town gone…"
Amiti muttered a curse under his breath. "The missing unit at the battle," he said. "It's here?"
"You noticed," said Alex with a nod. "Good. I didn't think you would have gotten more than a glimpse at that battle. Yes, it's here. This ends now, Amiti. Your soldiers don't have a prayer of beating mine in a tight space like this. And without ships, they'll never leave this island in time."
Amiti stared at Alex for a few long moments. Then, he sighed as if in resignation, his shoulders slumping as he looked down.
"So…," he said. "In the end, you found me out."
"It was always going to end this way," said Alex. He looked up at Amiti, his eyes growing colder. "Despite all that, you are still my son. So I'll give you this much. Surrender now, swear fealty to the High Empyror, and I'll leave your city and its people intact."
Amiti looked up, a small bitter smirk appearing on his face at the offer. "Feeling generous now?" he asked.
Alex shook his head. "Hardly. I'd hate to see the Alchemy Well destroyed after all I did to restore it."
Amiti shook his head. "Don't bother," he said, half-turning so that his side faced Alex. He didn't turn his back fully. "You were right…father. I was hiding something here."
Amiti exhaled, releasing a small spark of his Psynergy. One after another, the light sconces on the walls lit up, filling the chamber with a bright blue light that made it seem almost like a room underneath Lake Barai. The light cast shadows on the tiled floor below them, splitting both Alex and Amiti's shadows into threes. Alex looked past Amiti, his eyes widening in surprise. Behind Amiti, an intricate circle of power pulsed, rainbow light shimmering just above it. Amiti's lips curled up in a smile, and he raised his head.
The Sol Blade caught the light of the afternoon sun as Matthew raised it high from the walls of Passaj. Golden light bathed the blade, making it look like a sliver of the sun itself. The wind blew his hair and scarf back as he placed one foot on the wall.
"CHARGE!" shouted Matthew, lowering the sword.
Beside him, Sveta echoed the cry with a loud roar, no longer dressed as a queen, but wearing the Umbra Gear. The gates of Passaj swung open, and the men waiting below spilled out, the combined forces of Ayuthay and Morgal's reinforcements rushing out of the gates at once and down into the valley. Sunlight glinted off fresh armor and shields as they threw back their head, a mix of battle cries and snarls drifting up on the wind as the army charged towards the battle field.
Tyrell ran at the head of the charge. He raised his hand, raining down fire on the enemy as they closed in. The Mars Adept reached behind his back, a grin on his face as he pulled out his Levantine and swung it straight at the enemy.
"It can't be…" said Alex.
Amiti smiled and turned to face him fully. "It links up with a similar one in Passaj. Baghi and I discovered them while we were cleaning up after the Grave Eclipse. They seem to be powered by the Alchemy Well and the Alchemy Forge working in conjunction, so that somebody that lives near the Well can visit the Forge if needed, and vice versa."
"It won't work," said Alex. "Even weakened from Kaocho, the Tuaparang aren't to be trifled with, and my unit is still fresh."
Amiti nodded in acknowledgment. "So it is," he said.
Alex watched him for a few short moments. Then, realization dawned on his face and he turned, teleporting towards the entrance. He appeared in the air a few feet from the exit, just as a large thunderclap rang out overhead. Answering shouts followed, then explosions and the sound of steel on steel. Alex's eyes narrowed and he teleported back down onto the ground, glaring at Amiti.
Amiti hid his emotions behind his face again, walking slowly up to Alex. "You were right…" he said quietly, "…about this being a pirate hideout."
Another loud clap of thunder rang out through the area, this time accompanied by a bright flash of light. "Did you forget about Karis, Eoleo and Himi?" he asked. "Didn't you think they'd still be here?"
A loud crashing sound rang out, as if one of the ships had been broken, and loud splashes echoed in the small chamber. Amiti stopped in front of Alex, one hand on his sword. "What about Rief?" he asked. "Didn't you even notice him?"
In response, Alex straightened up and turned to Amiti, smirking as he brushed some imaginary speck of dust off his robes. Outside, his friends continued to fight. He could picture it in his mind, Eoleo launching blasts and beams of flame at the Tuaparang ships, while his pirates boarded them and battled with them, Himi calling on her spirits and standing on the shoreline, stopping anyone that would pass with her small cohort of Nihan warriors behind her, Rief, his cousin, commanding the ocean itself to sink the ship and carry its soldiers into its murky depths, and Karis…
Karis in the air, flying the soarwing above the group of assembled Tuaparang soldiers, bringing down liquid fire from the sky like an old god of judgment. Karis, who could move faster than anyone he knew, who could kill a man with a spark without flinching, but who would go out of her way to help the people who needed it, whether or not they could pay her back. Sweet, beautiful, deadly Karis.
Alex's unit didn't stand a chance. He smiled in pride, not at himself, but at his friends, the people who had stood by him without asking questions, who had helped him without demanding anything in return because that was just who they were. The people he would die for gladly, if it came to that. He placed one hand on his sword.
"Let's settle this," he said, fully prepared.
No matter how this ended, he already won.
Alex looked up at him and smirked, shaking his head. "Unfortunately," he said, "I have a more pressing engagement." Amiti's eyes widened in genuine surprise this time as Alex turned around, walking towards the entrance. His father took two steps, then stopped and looked back. His mouth was turned up in a smirk, but in this light, it might have been an actual smile. It was difficult to tell.
"Well played, Amiti," said Alex.
In a flash of light, he was gone, a single sheet of paper falling to the ground where he had once been. Amiti stared at the spot he had stood in, his eyes wide and his sword almost halfway out of its sheath. He stood there for a few moments as the chaos around him finally died down, and Karis flew in through the open entrance, letting go of the soarwing with one hand and skidding to a stop in front of him. Her dress was scorched slightly from the battle, and there was blood on her, although she didn't seem to be gravely injured. In one hand, she held her Sylph Rapier.
"Amiti…?" she asked, frowning as she put the soarwing down and walked over to him.
Amiti didn't look her way, holding his breath as he bent down and slowly picked up the piece of paper. He scanned it, his eyes moving left to right as he read it quickly, and his grip on the paper tightening with each line he read. His hands shook slightly. It was orders directly from the High Empyror, written in his hand.
I am beginning to doubt your loyalties. Time and again, I have asked you to capture the Alchemy Well and you have refused. This time, I am making it an order. I am sending you thirteen of my finest units. Using them, you are to take the city and country of Ayuthay under control so that we may have a presence in the Ei-Jei Region. If you do not do this, I will declare you a traitor and have you executed.
His Royal Eminence, The High Empyror
Underneath it was another note, written in a different hand.
Well played, Amiti. But you still have a lot to learn.
Congratulations on your engagement. Consider this a wedding present. –A
Karis walked over to him and placed a hand on his arm. Amiti didn't look at her, staring down at the note.
"He knew…" he muttered under his breath. "This whole time…he knew…"
"Are you…okay?" asked Karis, hesitantly.
Amiti stared down at the note one last time, then took a deep breath, looking up at her. Behind him, Eoleo and Himi's men cheered for their victory, not knowing that Alex had given those soldiers into their hands willingly. He would never tell them, he decided. Let them think that they had truly won.
In a sense, hadn't they? The battle at Ayuthay would be over soon, and the city would be his. Kaocho would not attack him again, not with Wo dead in this battle, as he surely would be if the Tuaparang had managed to breach the walls. His soldiers fought with honor—they would not rest until all the invading soldiers were dead or gone. And then they could rebuild for a time.
For a time…
He stared down at the note in his hand, and then as if making a decision, he folded it carefully, sliding it into his pocket. He turned towards Karis and smiled, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and brushing the soot from her face.
"I'm fine," he said.
"Are you sure?" asked Karis.
Karis nodded at him, taking his hand. "Then come on," she said. "The people are waiting for their king."
Amiti nodded, allowing her to lead him out of the cave. She was right. The battle wasn't over yet. There was still Ayuthay to be won. He stepped forward and allowed Eoleo to clap him on the shoulder, bent down and returned Himi's hug, and clasped hands with Rief, both of them grinning like madmen. Then, he turned away from them and motioned for Eoleo to set off.
He stepped onto the boat with his friends around him, and they set sail for Ayuthay at full speed. Up ahead, he could still see the clash of battle as Ayuthay's gold and blue banners crashed against the Tuaparang soldiers, driving them back against the city. He could see the traces of Psynergy from Tyrell's attacks, and the telltale blasts that spoke of Megiddo.
He would worry about Alex later. For now, Ayuthay would fight.
And its king would fight beside her.
And after that…
He smiled at Karis, their fingers lacing together.
After that, maybe he could finally deal with that gods-cursed court and their stupid issues of succession.
(Watch out for the Epilogue.)
A/N: To all the tropers out there…can you say Thirty Xanatos Pileup?