No one expected Arkef to go through that.
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Happening on Arkef during that particular night were 2 main battles: the assault on Skulls’ main base by Silver Arrow and the defense of Arkef’s Grand Library. Both of them happened at the same particular night, and it was during that night that a side continued existence, Skulls or Silver Arrow, along with the future of Arkef, would be determined.
The leader of Skulls; Vath, had plotted his schemes with William; the current ruler of Arkef’s son, for months now. Their main plan was to take over Arkef and reign over it with an iron hand. To rise a new ruler, Arkef had to be burnt to the ground until everything became ashes, and from it William would be the beacon of hope. He would rise as a hero who helped the people, and the previous ruler would be seen as incapable of shouldering his responsibilities and get dethroned. When William rise, Arkef was basically Vath’s and William’s. A perfectly plotted plan, as William could pull strings around politics, while Vath could burn Arkef while he was at it.
There were rocks which made the plan stumble along the road. Curves that it had to follow, mists and fogs that it had to go through, and many more. After Vath’s and William’s hardship, the distance to the goal had became considerably close; that it was within sight. Just a little bit more, and their plan would have been completed. That was until an arrow struck their road. An arrow which stopped the plan in its track. A Silver Arrow.
That certain arrow, was the reason why 2 main battles were simultaneously happening on Arkef on that night. Had it not been there, there would be no battle for defense of the library. The guards would get slaughtered and the library would be burned to the ground. Had the arrow not been there, Skulls’ main base would not be assaulted. Those 2 battles weren’t part of the plan, yet they occurred.
The 2 battles, as different as they might be, had their fair share of similarities:
The presence of 2 beasts in each battlefield. In Skulls’ main base was the Extinct Formulae Magic user, Vienna. In Arkef’s Grand Library was the creature of chaos, Cerberus. Those 2 beasts were prepared by Skulls, and their victory or defeat would greatly tip the balance of battle; if it was balanced at all.
Another similarity, was the fact that the people there in different battlefields, could be classified into 2: Those who could move and those who couldn’t.
Dunnford, in a corridor inside Skulls’ main base, for the duration of the battle, had been unmoving due to the Formulae Magic seal. He had gotten hit due to protecting his master and as much as he wanted to move, he could not. Having heard that one deafening roar that made the building tremble, Dunnford cursed his inability of breaking the seal on his own. That roar meant trouble and the presence that gave the roar, Dunnford could feel it, was not that of a human, but of a beast.
The blast of silence that came after that was even more concerning. As that could only mean 2 things: either the beast was defeated or it was devouring its prey. The latter made Dunnford worry. For all he knew, his master or Elaine could be in trouble. No, calling it ‘trouble’ depreciate the unpleasant feel he was feeling. Perhaps… worst case scenario… was that one of them had… Dunnford decided not to think about it. He had to move. He had to. But he couldn’t. As much as he would like to, he could only be still and put his faith on Elaine and his master.
Ray, having defeated Horus in his battle, had gained himself the right to go wherever he wanted to. He considered going to Dunnford in an effort to unseal him, but Ray was never talented at Formulae Magic, unsealing Dunnford would take too much time. There was a beast lurking in Skulls’ main base and she was preying at Elaine. If Ray took his time leisurely, then the worst outcome might happen: that their group would no longer consist of 4 people.
Whether Ray liked it or not, Ray had to fight the beast without Dunnford. That was the most logical option to take at that time in Ray’s head. Fight the beast together with Elaine, get Elaine to unseal Dunnford, and then aim for the leader of Skulls. That was what Ray had in mind. Deep inside his heart in the very corner, he hoped that Elaine would be there, regardless of whether or not she could fight or continue as a mage. So long as she was there, then the worst outcome was avoided.
At the battle at the library, the presence of a three headed beast had paralyzed allies and foes alike. They had known that creature; the three headed hound appeared often in story books. They had seen how its strong claw hands mercilessly crushed a bandit and how its sharp polished fang had chewed on another bandit. The creature of chaos was the size of a house, and humans were like a normal hound is to human in the faces of Cerberus.
Some of those who weren’t paralyzed, followed their rational reasoning along with their raw instinct: To run away as fast as they could, as far away as possible, from the beast. Bandits abandoned their torches, knights abandoned their spears, and ultimately; they abandoned their responsibilities. ‘Cowards’ was a title that should have been bestowed onto them who ran with tails behind their back, but in such situation, who could blame them for doing what they did? Their job description never came with ‘Possibly being killed by a Cerberus’. They literally never signed up for that.
Interestingly enough, classified in the category of those who couldn’t move— were the creature of chaos and the swordswoman themselves. Normally, one would thought that they would both be the most dynamic, since one of them was the cause of fear, while the other was completely unfazed by it. If one were to see their unmoving scene, it would not be wrong to describe it as darkness against light.
The creature had spread darkness called fear, desperation, and hopelessness. While the swordswoman had radiated light called bravery, aspiration, and hope. Truly darkness and light.
They were being static, exchanging stares, for their own reasons.
The Cerberus felt the threat of the puny swordswoman it was facing. She might just be a small human with a sword, but its instinct was telling it that she was not someone it should fight halfheartedly. It was serious. It understood that against the swordswoman, it was kill or killed. It stared at the swordswoman with its 3 pairs of sinister red eyes, observing for the moment when she was least cautious, and was prepared to leap and kill her at that very moment. It couldn’t move, for its carelessness could mean death.
Freya, being the target of that creature of chaos, stared back at it with eyes that showed not fear. She, in response to the beast, had passed Celeste to her left hand, holding it by its sheathe under the hilt, beside her waist. Her right hand was on the handle, ready to pull out Celeste, revealing its pure white blade when necessary. Freya understood what the beast wanted to do, thus she responded by preparing an iai. A slash at the speed of a shooting star, that would wound the beast when it leapt to her. For that to materialize, Freya had to put all her concentration on the beast.
Those who remained around the library was baffled by the scene which unraveled in front of them. Both of the major threat of that battlefield was still. Still as a boulder and unmoving like the mountain. A mercenary, who wasn’t paralyzed completely by fear, doubted his eyes at first and wondered what was happening.
If the scene in front of him was indeed true, then the swordswoman, the key to the battle, was being perfectly still. The mercenary dared not approach within sword range of the swordswoman, so with shaking hands, he took a stone from the road and threw it at her to test the water. The stone, the mercenary had expected, would not hit her. She was the very same person who could dodge arrows without looking. Thus, it was a great surprise to him when the stone throw connected. The swordswoman remained perfectly still.
From the impact of the stone throw, the mercenary could see blood dripping down her cheek. That stone hit, what he was seeing was a reality. That was their chance. For reasons unknown to him, the beast and the swordswoman was not moving at all. That was their chance to take the swordswoman down and burn the library to ashes. The mercenary relayed his conclusion with a shout: ‘Get her! The beast nor she is moving! Attack her! NOW.’
The remaining bandits and mercenaries who didn’t run away rushed at Freya. Holding their torches high and their blades ready to kill. Even though they relayed their plan obviously, Freya didn’t move. She was not hearing anything else except the breathing of the beast. That was just how focused she was on confronting it.
Lance and the other guards noticed the bandits intentions. Knowing that if they failed to make their defense, if the swordswoman who was currently keeping the beast occupied should fall, the library would burn, and they would die.
As if undone from their petrification, Lance and the guards moved. They held their spears tightly and made a barrier to protect Freya from bandits, mercenaries, and archers. The swordswoman was their last line of defense. Without her around, the beast would surely have gone on a chaotic rampage. They understood that. Once again, spears clashed against torches.
Even in that commotion, Freya’s eyes were still trained on the beast.
Ray had gone to a room where he believed Elaine was in. There was remains of battles in that particular room. Ray could tell all that from the broken walls and the broken ceiling. The lighting magic tool had been destroyed for that particular room, and the only dim lighting Ray could get in that open room was the small light from the stars and a dim light from a nearby lamppost.
Regardless, that place was dark. Ray couldn’t spot anything with his eyes and his ears picked nothing but the sound of silence. Was a waiting battle happening inside that open room between Elaine and the beast? Ray could not tell. As much as he would take his time to analyze and draw conclusions, time was not his ally. The longer he take to be there, the more he felt insecure about Elaine’s situation.
Ray knew of the risk, but proceed with it anyway: ‘Elaine!’ He called out. In that darkness, assuming that the beast could not see in blackness, sound was what would guide it to him. It was a risk he had to take. ‘Elaine!’ He called her again, walking into the room. His foot kicked rubbles with each steps. ‘Elaine!’ Again he called. This time however, he stumbled upon something. Something that didn’t roll like a rubble would. Something that gave off a thud.
Situating his eyes to the darkness, Ray saw the silhouette of a female figure lying on the ground. Ray had just stumbled on the hand. ‘… Elaine?’ He uttered. ‘Elaine?’ It couldn’t be. There is just no way. He immediately crouched down, knees touching the floor.
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Little did he know that lying there, was someone who couldn’t move.
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Things happens, updates Freya at least once a week at EST Saturday 19:03. (If I don't get the timezone wrong)
Oh hey, speaking of which:
Some stuff arises during the holiday, things I need to deal with.