Queen of Ashes

by

Desphinx

The Battle for Torasan pt. 2: Casira

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The fight raged around her, Casira remained with her back to a wall, her knees huddled against her chest. She pressed her hands to her ears, trying in vain to drown out the noises, the screams, the cries, the beast's squeals. She was unsuccessful.

A very small part of her was yelling, trying to get her to move, to do something, to stop being so damn useless but her legs were frozen.

I can't. She repeated in her mind for the eleventh time. I can't. I can't. I'm just like them. I'm no better, I have no place here!

A man fell beside her. She turned with her eyes wild and fearful. Shield up, the soldier was holding back a beast that was currently trying to claw his neck out.

Her family sword lay right next to her as she watched, helplessly.

The soldier didn't hold out for long. Soon enough, his flesh was being skewered right in front of her. She could do nothing but stare as the beast feasted.

I guess they were all right.

The sounds of flesh being torn apart invaded her skull. She stopped when she noticed the tears streaming down her eyes. Were they tears of sadness? Of panic? She couldn't tell.

The sounds stopped. Casira turned and instantly froze. The beast was now looking at her. Casira scrambled up, willing herself to do so in order to run away.

As soon as the beast was about to charge at her, it was impaled. A large javelin travelled through it, rooting it to the street beneath its body. Casira gasped, looking up to see if she could find the source.

Atop one of the houses, a small group of soldiers and hunters had set themselves up so they could attack from a distance. Yava, the one who threw the javelin, was among them.

Casira gaped up at her but her solace was fleeting. More soldiers retreated, and with them, more beasts pushed into the city. It was clear her safe space wouldn't be safe for much longer. She stood, grabbing her family sword and walking into the street.

Where would she even go? The line being set up would surely fail, the beasts would leave no part of the city untouched. Even if she went to the palace, she was sure that place would fall as well. It was a matter of when, not if.

Still, choosing to avoid the inevitable for as long as possible, she tried to flee deep into the city. only, when she tried, it became clear that the soldiers waiting to be attacked as well were positioned in such a way where no one would pass through.

Just like that, her only plan was shut down. She crouched again, trying to make herself seem smaller than everything around her as she thought of what exactly could save her life.

What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?

She heard a voice. She stopped. It was a voice she recognized. She turned frantically, trying to see if her ears were deceiving her or not. No, sure enough, she found the source. Lise was still in the fight.

Casira stared in disbelief. Why the hell hasn't she run away? She asked herself. She's going to get herself killed!

"Hey!" She tried to yell out but the mage was distracted. Running from one place to another, Lise cast spells like her life depended on it. Probably because it did.

"[Lirio], [Lirio], [Lirio]!"

Then, Casira understood. The mage wasn't distracted, she was running away from one of the beasts. She's healing people while she tries to stay alive? It made no sense to her. How was such a thing even possible?

The beast chasing Lise turned its glowing red eyes to someone else, and Lise was safe.

Good, I need to get her out of here. There's no time to...

A footstep. One footstep shook the ground. Another did the same, and soon, everyone who wasn't in the middle of a fight stopped.

All eyes turned to the broken-down gate north of them. A silhouette made itself clearer with each second.

Casira stuttered.

"W-What the fuck is...."

One beast that looked eerily similar to its brethren, with just a few differences. For one, this one was much thinner than the others, second, it had some sort of cloth draped over it, like an attempt at clothing. But finally, it was so tall it could probably place its head over some of the houses' roofs.

Casira was then convinced she was living in a nightmare. In the rain, it appeared almost other-worldly.

It was holding a massive club, and with one swing, it destroyed a Warrior that had been standing too close to it. The other soldiers, Hunters and Warriors started to run but the minor beasts did not let them. They would either fight and die, or turn to run and die.

Casira wasn't that concerned for them though. Her eyes were set on one short mage that was standing a distance ahead from the nightmare, a distance that was growing shorter.

Each swing from its club left a cloud of blood where men stood.

Casira ran. She didn't even know she could still move but yes, she was running up to Lise.

"Lise." She said. The mage ignored her, still staring at the beast that had arrived. "Lise!"

She shook her, and the mage turned.

"C-Casira?" Lise asked, almost confused.

"Come on, we have to run!"

"What?" Lise turned frantically, as if she had just remembered where she was. "No, no! I have to help them!"

"Lise, Lise, I don't think you realize what the fuck we're seeing right now." Casira placed her hands on Lise's shoulders. "We. Have. To. Go. There's no time to argue about this!"

"Good, because I'm not arguing." With that, the small girl gave a surprisingly strong shove, pushing Casira away and running straight into the bloody mess that lie ahead. Casira scowled.

This isn't the time to be some fucking hero, Lise! She called out in her mind but the girl was already back in the fight, casting spells everywhere she could.

Casira looked back. Because of the new beast's arrival, the line had been broken as soldiers panicked and ran away. She turned back to the front, ahead, the swarm of beasts emerging from the broken gate appeared unperturbed by the soldiers, the traps and the ranged fighters above. The new beast itself was taking arrows like they were nothing, and by now, Yava had run out of javelins.

She had to make a choice. Leave her only friend to die or go pull her back out of the fight by force. But, the latter would mean heading into the danger, while the former would mean losing the only person that had ever believed in her.

She was standing still in the middle of the street, frozen as people died around her. Beasts would notice her, head in to attack and get occupied by either a Hunter, a Warrior or a soldier.

She had to make a choice. But, was there even a right decision to make here?

Another ground-shaking footstep took her out of her thoughts. She gasped. The beast was swinging its club with reckless abandon, crushing people to death beneath it. However, what made her shiver with fear was who exactly was nearby.

Lise was wildly looking for people to assist but had unknowingly just gotten in the monster's sights. The moment Casira realized what was about to happen, it was like the world had slowed down. Lise, ahead of her, casting spells. Bodies dying around her, beast and human alike. And just a small distance away, the large nightmare of a creature, setting its red eyes on the mage.

Casira couldn't breath. One step, another. It was getting closer and closer.

What, wh, what do I do? She asked herself. Her instincts told her to run but as the beast drew even closer to the mage, something happened in her mind. She realized something. There was no fear in her body. She didn't feel scared, she didn't feel afraid.

All she felt was the desire to make sure this girl got out of this situation alive.

As Lise realized that the beast was walking up to her, falling back and crawling away in shock, Casira started moving.

It was like her body wasn't even being controlled by her. She went up to the soldier's body, the one that had died moments ago when she was in the alley and grabbed his shield.

Come on, come on, come on, come on.

It was like someone else had started talking, moving, breathing for her. She didn't recognize herself. Finally, as the beast raised its club up, preparing to bring it down and leave a red pool where a frightened Lise was trying to scamper away, Casira ran forward.

The club descended. A harsh clang sounded out. No blood was shed.

Lise had her eyes closed, not willing to see the moment she died. However, it didn't come. Instead, when Lise opened her eyes, she saw Casira down on one knee, a shield raised above her and the beast's club perched on top of it.

Lise tried to speak but no words came out. The beast itself seemed confused, like it couldn't quite comprehend that for the first time in this battle, it had failed to massacre.

Lise stared at Casira, who, with no small amount of effort, guided the club away from the shield.

"W-W-What?" Lise stuttered.

"Heal me." Was all Casira said in return.

"What?"

"My arm broke. That thing is going to attack again, heal me!"

Lise heard the warrior's words. She shook her head, raising her hands up.

"[Lirio]!"

Sure enough, slowly, the giant moved to strike again. Raising its club once more. It brought it down and again, Casira stopped it.

"Agh! Fuck!" The warrior cried out. "Yep, arm's broken again. Heal me!"

[Lirio]!"

The giant roared. It appeared ultimately stunned at this new development.

"H-How are you doing this?" Lise asked.

"It's strong. It's really strong but I can hold." Casira replied.

"H-Here!" Lise said, standing up and walking a bit of distance away. "[Kestero]!"

A green circle appeared under Casira. She felt her muscles contract and stretch.

"I, I feel stronger!" Casira noted as the monster reared back.

"WATCH OUT!"

It attacked and Casira raised her shield up once more. The monster was so slow, it couldn't take Casira by surprise. This time, the shield was destroyed, almost evaporating upon the hit, however, surprisingly, Casira's arm didn't break. It was most likely injured, probably by a fracture, but it did not break.

"Attack its legs!" A voice said from the distance. Casira looked and saw Tagaki, the Hunter's Guild Leader fighting off multiple beasts at once. "It won't be able to react!"

Without a thought, without a word, Casira moved to grab her family sword.

"[Lirio]!" Lise yelled out. "Casira, I think I'm out, out of mana!" She said with a tired throat. "This is it!"

Right. Casira noted in her mind as the beast roared. Wait, wait, shit! She was too late. The beast was already preparing another attack, but Casira's shield had broken.

What do I... The club was already coming down before she could find another source of protection.

But she hadn't died.

She had closed her eyes, ready to get crushed like an insect, but it didn't happen. She opened her eyes and looked up. Instinctively, she had raised her blade, holding it from the hilt and from its blade with both hands horizontally and blocked the strike.

The blade didn't break. It didn't even have a dent. Casira looked at the beast and the beast looked right back. It was like they were asking each other if they were seeing the same thing. The beast roared, raised its club, but this time, Casira moved.

She was slow. Speed had never been something Casira worked on. She'd spent her whole life working on her strength. But right now, her first and only opponent had luckily been slower than her.

She ran up, wielding her family sword in both hands and slashed across one of the giant's legs.

It was sliced clean off.

The beast roared, but Casira did not stop. She ran up to the other leg and cut through that one as well. With the beast falling back, Casira predicted where it would fall and ran next to that place. As the beast fell back with a mighty thud, Casira screamed.

She raised her blade up and brought it down on the beast's head.

Just like that, it was dead.

Casira stared down.

What? She couldn't quite believe it. I did this?

"You did it!" A tired girl said behind her. Lise was crouched in the distance, panting, but she gave a thumbs-up. "You did it!"

"I, I di-" A claw slashed through her right shoulder. "ABGH!" She fell forward, blood spurting from her shoulder.

"NO!" Lise screamed out.

A beast got on top of her, raising a hand to end her life. A glaive erupted from its chest. Tagaki had run over and killed the creature.

The Huntress looked down at Casira.

"You did good, Warrior." Casira gaped at her, but nodded. "Now, go. Get Lise away from here. We'll clean up the rest."

"Are you sure? My shoulder is injured but I can..."

"Go. If things go badly, we'll run. Go!"

"R-Right."

Casira turned, clutching her wounded shoulder and jogging up to Lise.

"Let's go."

"O-Okay, I think I'm done here." Lise chuckled.

"Me too." Casira replied, wrapping an arm around her neck and basically dragging Lise away.

"That was incredible." Lise continued.

"Thanks."

"You saved me." Lise noted.

"I guess I did." Casira tried to shrug, but couldn't move her right shoulder.

"Thanks."

"You're welcome."

Lise started to look around. Casira raised an eyebrow.

"What's the matter?" She asked.

"Maybe she's fighting but... I can't see her." Lise replied.

"Who?"

"Liri."

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About the author

Desphinx

Bio: Hey there, if you are at all interested in slightly above-average work then, you have come to the right profile!

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