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Erik’s wyvern landed with a short run through the rocky forest edge, the terrain here still green and healthy yet the trees stopped as the mountain range began. A mountain range that seemed to stretch across half the continent.
Fort Gilded Rock, Cloudspire and Balgor were built around these mountains.
“Why’d we land? We’re not at Daldorth yet, are we?” Nerick asked as he wiggled about atop the wyvern’s back along with everyone else. Although he had a slight disadvantage to them, as Ivara crawled around his body, gripping to his armour with her claws as she looked about curiously.
“No, we’re not, but the wyverns are weary.” Erik said as he jumped off after the wyvern lowered its head for him.
“They don’t look so tired to me?” Nerick argued as he glanced at the wyvern he lay upon, not recognising a single emotion in its reptilian eyes.
“Well they are, and unless you’d rather land with a crash or be thrown off as they rebel against us…We’ll walk from here.” Makaela told him with a harsh tone. She stood off the wyvern’s back and then jumped down herself. “Why do we need this second human, master?…He’s annoying.” Makaela then asked in elven, (“Although the other one is worse…”) she also inwardly thought.
Erik glanced back at her with a raised brow, “Nerick, will have his uses, annoying or not.” he pointedly said in common.
“Huh? Annoying? What?” Nerick asked as he struggled to climb down, almost losing his grip as Ivara leapt off him. Landing next to Makaela’s feet with a slight stumble before looking up at the dark elf, the wyvern hissed in annoyance.
Makaela only rolled her eyes at the young wyvern, “Yes…master.” she hesitantly responded.
“He was only making an observation, you don’t need to be an ass about it.” Thea reprimanded as she also jumped down.
At that Makaela turned to face her with cold eyes, “An ass? Are…are you calling me a donkey?!” she exclaimed angrily.
“My, you speak common well but you don’t seem to quite understand our slang and terms huh?” Thea added snidely.
Causing Makaela’s face to boil violet with anger, “I care not for the meanings of your primal language, you ignorant ape!” she answered in elven. Stepping closer to Thea’s face.
“Oh, what’s that? I cannot understand you, I’m afraid my ears aren’t quite poking holes into my brain like yours.” Thea insulted back, also approaching the xilfir.
“Enough.” Erik hissed in draconic, going perfectly understood by the both of them as dread enclosed around their hearts. Hesitantly backing away from each other as they turned to face him, ashamed. “You bicker like children, yet one is my chosen and the other is the supposed leader of my blooded followers.” He scolded them, “I understand why Makaela would have issues with humans, only guessing at what your people have been through is enough but…”
He sighed, “Is this the leader you wish to show your followers? Arguing with my chosen champion?” he said to Makaela, “And you, you disappoint me. I thought you to be better than to make use of racist slander. Neither of your races is higher above the other, only us Dragons and the Fae have every right to slander your simplicity.” he then told Thea.
“Uh, Erik…doesn’t that sou-” Nerick began to say.
But was cut off by Erik, “Let me finish.” who made him pale just by glancing at him.
“Y-Yeah, sure…” Was all Nerick said back as he stepped away, still unsure what to think of the drake.
Erik returned to the other two, glancing at them before opening his mouth…which he slowly closed back as he glanced at the wyvern. Erik closed his eyes and held his own face, as he took a deep sigh. “Thea, your bestia ran away.”
All of them glanced up at the wyvern’s back, but Shizuka was very much still there staring down at them.
That is, until Erik raised his right hand towards her and blasted a fireball through her body. Shizuka dissipated into a multicoloured mist, an illusion collapsing. “So, who should I blame this time?” He glanced between Thea and Makaela.
“She was in charge of it!” Makaela protested.
“Weren’t her guards watching her?!” Thea objected.
Erik rolled his eyes at both their answers, “Must I do everything?” he said to himself before disappearing.
“W-wait, where’s Ivara?” Nerick then asked as he glanced around, the baby wyvern was also gone.
“How do you lose a baby wyvern?“ Makaela asked with disbelief as she stared at Nerick, “They’re the loudest and most obnoxious creatures in Faetera! Are you blind?”
“How do your dozens of elves lose a single mage? Maybe your eyes aren’t as good as you think they are.” Thea retorted back.
Nerick stepped away as the both of them turned to glare at each other once more.
“Oh my eyes are fine, ape, but yours won’t be once I stab them out.” Makaela hissed back in elven.
“I leave for a few seconds…” Erik hissed as he suddenly reappeared, dragging a struggling Shizuka by her shirt collar.
“L-Let me go! Damnit tell it to let go!” the bestia shouted as Ivara pulled and gnawed at her left boot ferociously. Nerick crouching in and trying to grab the baby wyvern by the waist, only to be slapped off by its flapping wings. Not giving up though…he then grabbed Ivara by the tail.
Ivara’s eyes widened as her irises shrunk, the baby wyvern then going completely limp as Nerick pulled her off. All of them stared down at the creature in confusion, “The tail is a greatly sensitive weak spot, well discovered Nerick.” Erik told him clearing out the confusion before throwing Shizuka into the middle of them.
“If you even think of escaping again, I will have zero qualms about killing you.” Erik told Shizuka as he coldly glared down at her, the feline beast-woman shrinking beneath his gaze. He turned to then face Thea and Makaela, their eyes widening and expressions paling as his angered gaze fell upon them both.
“As for you two…”Erik said, his eyes narrowing before he glanced about. “Everyone set up camp, let the wyverns rest up.” He then said as xilfir began materializing out of nowhere. He returned to the both of them, “You two, we’re going for a walk.”
He turned around, walking away from them as the dreadblades began conjuring campsites and tents, also leading the still invisible wyverns into the forest cover. “Follow me.” Erik hissed at the both of them without glancing back, both Thea and Makaela briefly hesitating before following after him.
Erik lead them off, the two following him yet standing away from one another. They tread through the forest, leaving the growing camp behind.
Trees and brush surrounded them in every direction, the smell of green filling the air as the chirping of birds slowly changed. With the fall of night even the sounds within the forest changed, as the sun slowly descended beyond the mountains.
For several minutes they walked, the scenery never changing as they struggled through bushes and over roots. Up until they arrived in a small opening, a large mossy boulder laying in the centre.
Erik stopped halfway into the opening, “Your bickering is becoming detrimental to our goal and my sanity. Why? Why do you dislike each other so much?” he asked, turning around to meet their faces yet neither met his. “Thea, surely you can understand Makaela’s dislike of humanity. But, Makaela you take it too far. Thea and Nerick are our allies, yes they are human, they are indeed part of the race that enslaved your kind.”
Erik’s gaze turned back, now staring at the mossy boulder. “But they aren’t the same people that did, was it Thea who put your brothers and sisters in chains? Was it Nerick who raped and burned down your homes? No, no it wasn’t.”
“Yet they did nothing but watch.” Makaela bitterly replied in elven.
“And what would you have them do?” Erik then asked, “I realised this, as my mistake. I burned entire kingdoms down to the ground because some of those people abused of nature, which nature, to my confusion allowed them to without repercussions…But it wasn’t the farmer that cultivated the fields who cut down forests…it wasn’t the blacksmith that formed the tool who ruined an ecosystem from mining.”
He sighed, “I realise, you are my creation, Makaela. You are my mistake, and my greatest regret.”
Makaela’s eyes widened in surprise as she raised her gaze to stare at his back, “Mistake?” she repeated.
“Makaela I told you before that my goals have changed ever since I altered your people into the beings you are now…I no longer seek destruction, but instead understanding.” Erik said as he continued to gaze off at the forest opening, “What I taught you about nature still stands, yet what I said about the other races…I don’t know, I have little understanding of what their worth is yet. If they are not the pests I thought them to be then…what are they?”
“I honestly cannot say, I’m still learning and I cannot conclude on an answer. But just because I have no answer for that question, doesn’t mean my earlier answer is still correct.” He continued, raising his voice slightly. “Makaela, you might not see it but I do.” Erik said as he glanced back, meeting her confused gaze. “The Xilfir have long lost their affection towards me, I understand that now, the dreadblades are not my followers Makaela…They are yours.”
“M-Master no…We are the true Xilfir, we will always follow you!” Makaela argued, “Those traitors shouldn’t be given any thought!”
Erik smiled weakly, “I appreciate your words but, you cannot ignore fact. Those I would call my followers, they remained as such why? How were the dreadblades formed? Who kept them together? Was it not you and your ancestors before you? No Makaela, the day I died marked the end of my worship. I am no God, I’m mortal, like you.”
Erik turned around fully and approached her, “Do not hate the other races for my mistake. Hate me instead, for my actions caused your people the pain you’ve been through.” Makaela’s eyes widened at his words, “Sounds similar to what that assassin said, does it not?” Erik chuckled, amused by the similarity. “Alas, I will never forgive the killing of one’s own brethren but…He was right in his words.”
Makaela closed her eyes as she clenched her fists at her side, “What are you asking of me?”
“The Xilfir here follow you and tread in your footsteps, they look at you as their leader, their queen.” Erik continued, “For your people, you have to decide on their future as well as your own. Is hate the path you truly wish to walk? Because look at where that path took me.”
“I don’t understand…” Makaela said, “Master I’ll do anything you wish of me…Anything…”
“But I ask you to think differently, the being you knew as your master died before you were even born. The teachings passed down from your elders are as mistaken as mine were when I taught them.” Erik grabbed Makaela by her shoulders, “It is time for the hatchlings to leave the nest. Makaela, you’ve shouldered the past and present of your people, you’ve respected tradition. But that needs to change, if the Xilfir is to ever have a place in this world, someone must show them how to grow up.”
Makaela opened her eyes, holding back tears as she stared into his own. “You’re saying everything I believed in…everything you’ve taught those before, who then taught me…is wrong?”
Erik nodded, “Yes, and you’re allowed to believe that Makaela. Nobody is going to punish you for thinking your own thoughts, nobody is going to force you to worship me. I don’t want you to worship me, I don’t want blind worshippers. Makaela I want you to follow me as an ally, I want the Xilfir to be my people, no longer my sword. Judge me for what I am, point out my mistakes, don’t go along with them. That is my wish.”
Erik then turned to Thea who stood there, confused at the sight of Makaela shedding tears at his words. “You must be confused, I know how the other races see my dark elves, and indeed they are mostly right. The Xilfir, like Makaela here, were taught from a young age about a single and definitive truth. If they were to even doubt this ‘Truth’, then they would be punished in ways that go unforgotten.”
“I’ve heard the stories…that is why the dreadblades are considered a cult.” Thea spoke softly, not knowing how she should feel at this sight.
“Indeed,” Erik nodded as he let go of Makaela, “This is why I want you to be by her side, Thea. Your passion and empathy for others is something I, a drake, could never produce. But you must not be so judgemental of the Xilfir, which is why I wanted you here as I told her these words. So, you can see her weakness just as I do, I wanted to show you what lays beyond this stupid girl’s walls.”
“Makaela,” he returned to the dark elf, “think over what I’ve said. Do not ask for choices, make your own. Nobody owns you, nobody has for many centuries yet your people have remained stuck in this limbo. Be the one to free them, that is all I ask.”
Makaela nodded weakly, her eyes misty as her thoughts lay in shambles.
(“This is what I couldn’t grasp before, that if just maybe…if I had stopped and studied the people of this world more, then maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation. This is my mistake…but I cannot fix it, I don’t know how.”) Erik thought to himself, as he again stopped to gaze at that mossy stone.
He approached it, walking out into the forest opening. Night having already fallen, only the moon was lighting up the ground around him.
“Both of you, watch. Thea, this is what I wish to teach you. And Makaela, this is what I taught your ancestors.” He closed his eyes as he laid his hand over the boulder’s mossy surface. He searched for it, deep within himself.
The core of his self, a feeling located in his chest yet not physically there. Erik grasped the connection between his body and soul. “Watchers of the green, behold my voice. Respond to this lost brother, who only searches for knowledge and truth. Respond, and show these lambs your true form. For they might not be able to hear, or speak, but they might just see.” He spoke in draconic, his voice carrying off into the forest, echoing where it shouldn’t have.
Erik stepped away from the boulder and opened his eyes, finding himself surrounded by light. Wisps of green, white and blue fluttered about him, more flowing out of the grass below and moss ahead.
“What…are these?” Thea asked as she stared at the scene in bafflement.
“Nature sprits, the souls of the living beings that inhabit this forest. Be it the critters and bugs, or even the blades of grass and strains of moss. Even the trees, they hold some of the oldest spirits, and wisest.” Erik answered as he glanced about at the many flickering lights. “You cannot hear it, but they also speak, in their own way. Tell me, what do you think the dragon’s language is? What is draconic by your understanding?”
“I don’t…” Thea didn’t know, the stories and tales of dragons were the only things that remained after the turn of the age.
“Draconic is a racial spell that uses words,” Makaela began to say, her tone still distraught. ”Just like chanting, to bend and manipulate mana. Draconic is a magical language used to communicate with these spirits, who cannot hear or feel us, they can only see us. Just like how we cannot hear or feel them, we can only see them.”
“We dragons could hear them, it is how we discovered their existence the moment we arrived in this world. They were here long before even us, they are nature itself. We created draconic to communicate with them, yet our voices could never compare to theirs.” Erik said, clenching his fists as suddenly each wisp flowed away from him, turning a dark shade of red. “Ha…I apologise, for my anger. Forgive this foolish brother.” He said in draconic.
“I cannot hear them.” He then said in a grim tone, as slowly the wisps of light drew back closer, their sudden dark red colour changing to a sullen blue. “I cannot hear their song, not with these ears. I cannot hear their voices anymore…” Erik mumbled to himself, grimacing as a single tear streaked down his cheek.
Immediately he wiped it away, surprised as he stared down at his hand where the tear now lay splattered. He clenched his hand into a fist, (“What is happening to me?…”) he asked himself, then glancing around at the lights. Noticing their colour, why were the spirits reacting so severely to his emotions? Why were his emotions so distraught in the first place?
Erik did not know, there was so much he did not know. He hated this feeling of confusion.
Making sure his eyes were dry, he turned to them. Seeing the spirits flow about them too, multitudes of coloured lights, more diversity than he had ever seen. (“Why? Why do the spirits adore you so much?”) He thought to himself, “If I could hear you now…would your song give me the answers I seek?” Erik then asked in draconic, glancing about as he watched the spirits flicker off.
The wisps of light dimmed away, leaving them with only moonlight once more.
Erik sighed, “Yeah, I figured as much.” he didn’t need to be able to hear them to know their answer, “Find it yourself, right?” a barren belief that constructed the dragon’s very culture. “I have somewhere I must visit nearby, wait for me here.” He then told Thea and Makaela who watched the spirits dissipate with child-like amazement.
“Uh, okay?” Thea said, watching as Erik walked off into the forest.
Then realising as she glanced to her side…she was left alone with Makaela, who still looked like a mess. Thea looked back into the opening but Erik was already gone, the drake was nowhere in sight. Her gaze returned to Makaela, although her tears had stopped she was still gazing down at the ground.
(“Now what?…I’m alone with her as she has an existential crisis?…”) Thea asked herself while staring at Makaela, “Uhm…should we sit? H-He never said how long he’d be gone for?” she offered awkwardly.
Makaela didn’t say a word in response, instead glancing away from Thea to hide her teary cheeks. She walked out into the opening alone, disappearing behind the boulder and sitting onto the nearest loose rock. (“This…is going to be difficult.”) Thea thought as she approached the sulky xilfir, standing with the boulder in between them.
“I’m sorry for what I said before, I didn’t mean any of it…” Thea apologised, grasping at straws to start a conversation with her.
Makaela still did not respond, and they stood there for several long moments. One unwilling to speak, too lost in her thoughts and the other unsure of what to do or say.
“I cannot say I understand,“ But Thea tried to break the ice once more, ”…what you’ve been through. But I want to understand what you’re going through now, Makaela we’re in this together whether we like it or not. Can’t you at least make me understand?”
“You wish to understand, human? How can you? Ever?…” Makaela whispered back with a sorrowful tone, “Tell me, Lady Selene, have you ever been in love?”
This caught Thea completely off guard, causing her cheeks to flush red and back away from the boulder that separated them.
“Because that is what my people use to carve into our young’s hearts, love for the ‘Truth’.” She continued, Thea relaxing in turn. ”And pain if one does not love. That way of things may have faltered among most families but…I hold the bloodline of the main branch, my mother never even blinked as she carved it into me.”
Makaela said something in elven, going ununderstood by Thea. “Nature is alive, all around us. We give back what we take, else we punish ourselves for being unable to and having taken more than we should have. That is our truth, our one belief and religion.” Then saying the same words in common so she could.
Makaela chuckled, “And now, the being we regard as our shepherd tells me to let it all go?” insanity in her tone. “That he…was wrong!? Then why? What was the purpose of what I’ve been through? Where has my time spent being taught the ‘Truth’ gone to, if it’s just misunderstood? Have I been lying to my followers all along? Is my life just a lie as well? How…what am I supposed to tell the rest?”
“Tell them…to think for themselves.” Thea said, “Just like Erik said, you need to make your own choices from now on. Don’t just blindly take a few phrases as fact, argue and try to find holes in those words so that you can form out the truth. The very truth.”
“What then? What if I don’t agree with that truth?!” Makaela asked, rising up and stepping around the boulder to face Thea. Her eyes were wide and skin flushed darker with anger, yet her expression also showed a pleading confusion. “For so long I was alone…at the lead of my people with no clue where to take them. Then master returned! Erikathyr the white appeared before me and asked where my allegiance lay!”
Thea stared at Makaela as she broke down, any thought of trying to console the xilfir clouded by confusion as the saw Makaela’s panic.
“I thought…he was where I should take my people, that he would be our fate…that he was my destiny!” Makaela exclaimed, showing more emotion than she ever had throughout her life. Unable to control her tone or expression any longer, her mind laying distorted and heart broken. “But…He chose you before I even had a chance. You are his chosen, not me.”
“Surely I cannot be the only one? Findri had seven…” Thea offered, realising that she was indeed part of Makaela’s sorrow.
“Findri only had one Chosen, the rest where her children’s Chosen. Alan the immortal was her only true champion.” Makaela said, meeting Thea’s eyes with her dreadful gaze. “The other six…Ha, bound to a minor child like me! They were bound to Findri’s children of ice, the Jotun.”
“I-” Thea began, yet stopped herself. Utterly no clue what to even say.
Makaela smiled coldly, “I accepted that, I accepted it long before he told me that a dragon cannot bond their child as a chosen!“ Tears began to flow down her face once again, ”Yet I couldn’t help myself from hating you, and now…Now I don’t know anything anymore!” she grasped her own face, as she fell to her knees. “I don’t know!” Screaming out, anger and frustration filling her heart as she completely let her emotions loose.
“What am I supposed to do now?!” Makaela asked in plea, laying forward into the grass.
She lay there for several moments, eyes closed, her chest a complete wreckage.
Her weeping then froze as she heard the sound of iron piercing iron and then flesh, the sound so clear as it originated from directly above her. Makaela opened her teary eyes as she glanced above herself, finding Thea kneeling before her.
“Ha…Who knows? I sure don’t…but that’s what it means to be alive right? Finding your way is just…part of it.” Thea struggled to say, before glancing around them. “I t-think we’re going to have to start this up another time.”
Makaela glanced around in confusion, noticing the reflection of light coming from the forest as an arrow suddenly shot towards them. She felt herself being swept off her feet, “Blink!” Thea chanted as she heaved Makaela up.
Both of them teleported forwards, the arrow passing through their previous position as they appeared elsewhere. Though Thea lost her balance as she held Makaela over her shoulder, stumbling forwards into a tumble.
Briefly they both rolled through the grass, groaning in pain as they lay there. Thea rose first, keeping low with the tall grass as she glanced around. Makaela instead rolled onto her chest, hiding within the grass as she used her senses to locate their aggressors. Her eyes widening in surprise as the dozen xilfir stepped out of the shadows, bows held up towards them.
Makaela rose to her feet, then noticing that Thea had been hit. An arrow protruding out of her left shoulder. She turned to face each cloaked dark elf, knowing each one of them, her gaze fell upon the only one that wasn’t wielding a bow. “Kavek? What’s the meaning of this!?” she demanded.
Kavek, a male dark elf with short braided hair grinned coldly as he stared at them. “Oh, what did you not hear? Is our oh so great leader truly losing her hearing? The drake said so himself, our beliefs are a lie. I mean, I’ve always known. I followed with some…friends, as we were curious to see the drake lecture you but…Well how surprised were we to see…this.”
Kavek chuckled, “To see you weep, I must say it was amusing. For all of us, isn’t that right?” he asked while glancing about, many other dark elves appearing out of the shadows. Some held their weapons out, but neither stood with Kavek and his men nor Makaela.
“They heard it all, having followed us to see what we were up to and…well one thing led to another and here we are now.” Kavek said while gesturing at all the dark elves standing about the forest edge, branches and elsewhere. “We’re tired, Makaela. We’ve been tired of the ‘Truth’ for centuries, and then he dares give us every reason to turn our backs to it?”
Again, Kavek laughed whole-heartedly. “I’ll take it, honestly I will. You and some choice others are the only ones that actually care for that anyways. Oh and, I’ll also be taking the dreadblades with me.”
Makaela stared back at him, shocked and appalled. “Our people may have been mistaken in forming the truth…and I won’t stop you from abandoning it…I’m too confused myself of what I should do.” Her eyes then narrowed, as her expression grew dead cold. “But the dreadblades are my creation and mine alone. This band, I am its leader.”
“You were, for a while you truly were. But after that breakdown? You’re weak Makaela, you do not deserve our respect less so our membership.” Kavek said as his own amused expression grew cold, “I know you won’t step down of your own volition, so…Everyone shall watch as I strip that title off your dead corpse.” he shrugged as if it was nothing.
Makaela watched as nobody else said a word, each one she glanced at, turning their gaze away from her. “Is this what you all think? Is this…what you all want? After everything I’ve done for our people?”
No response came, only Kavek chuckling in further amusement. “I will say, I’ve had this in the works for a while now. Everyone doubts you, and the main branch’s supposed strength. Really, what else is it if not a myth to keep us side branches in line?” he gestured at his bowmen, “Kill her.”
The xilfir at his side drew their bows in response.
Makaela did nothing, she stared in confusion and horror, her own people were plotting against her…
The xilfir loosed.
Then, she felt herself being pushed down. Thea had leaped onto a dazed Makaela and pushed her out of the way, two of the arrows grazing by her arm as they both dropped. Makaela opened her eyes right after, finding herself on the ground and seeing Thea rise above her.
Whip in hand.
Thea unrolled the whip as she faced Kavek and his men, “I have absolutely no clue what you’ve said or what’s going on, but if you’re going to shoot someone, then have another bloody shot at me.” her fierce gaze meeting each of the dark elves’.
Kavek smirked at her words, “Why are you faltering now? She’s the drake’s chosen, so what? Are we to kneel and beg before her too?” he told the bowmen as they looked at him, “Kill her as well.” Kavek ordered.
The bowmen hardened their resolve as they drew their bows once more, Thea stepping forwards in response and striking ahead with the whip.
“N-No!” seeing this Makaela shouted, but had no time to speak her warning as it was already too late.
Thea struck forwards with the whip, a green flame forming over it…yet it did not stretch any longer. Instead the flames engulfed Thea completely, as she screamed out in sudden agony. Thea dropped the whip and fell to the side, squirming as the flames continued to surround her body.
Makaela quickly grabbed the whip, dissipating the flames immediately before turning to Thea, light burns now covering what of her body wasn’t protected by armour. “Fool…the gear hasn’t accepted you!” Makaela said, “Why? Why did you protect me?” she asked while staring at her.
Thea lay on the ground, breathing deeply as she recovered from the sudden pain. Yet she chuckled, “H-He told me to watch over you, didn’t he?…”
“Give me that!” Kavek exclaimed as he snatched a bow and arrow from the closes xilfir, then taking aim at the crouching Makaela. “Better if I kill you myself anyway.”
“Don’t just stand there…” Thea said as she struggled to get up, “Damnit, fight!”
Kavek loosed the arrow, the bladed tip tearing through the air as it flew like serpent, quickly soaring towards Makaela’s chest.
Splinters flew about as Makaela suddenly struck at the arrow with her whip, the remains disintegrating through the green flames that now surrounded her. “Why? Why should I fight? Erikathyr has abandoned me, my people have now abandoned me.” Makaela asked as she stared up at the moon, “Why should I not die?”
“Idiot…” Thea said, causing Makaela to glance down at her in surprise. “Does it look like they’ve all abandoned you? Or are they watching to see what you do next? Look around, fool.”
Makaela did so, she glanced about. She saw as Kavek threw aside his bow and unsheathed his twin blades, she saw as his men stepped aside. Makaela saw, as everyone else only watched.
“Still relying on a Dragon’s power? This is why you’re weak Makaela, all you can do is rely on others!” Kavek exclaimed, as he suddenly dashed towards her.
His blades sparking as they collided with hers, Makaela having dropped the whip as two long daggers appeared out of her sleeves. The two dark elves pushed each other off, their mana enhanced bodies sending the other dragging along the ground with the outputted force.
They stared at each other, watching each other’s every motion, every twitch of the eye. “You’re right, Kavek. I rely on others too much, but is that really such a bad thing? You say everyone doubts the main branch’s power, then let me show you…” Makaela abandoned her stance completely, straightening herself as she left her daggers hang by her side.
Kavek was confused, she had left herself entirely open. Not only did he have the range advantage with his longer swords but he was already in position to lunge at her.
That was, until Makaela disappeared from his sight.
Sensing danger to his left Kavek parried as Makaela’s daggers briefly appeared clashing with his own blades, before disappearing once more. Yet in that brief moment he was faced with Makaela’s teary face, the confusion and distress that plagued it once before now gone and replaced.
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Her lips lay straight, her brows loose, an expression of cold emotionlessness. Yet the fury that he saw within her eyes went beyond the golden flames that lit them up.
Kavek turned as he was forced on the defensive, parrying sudden strike after strike, barely able to follow her movements. All he could do was block her attacks at the very last second. Makaela moved so quickly and smoothly that his eyes couldn’t follow, flowing in and out of the shadows with such ease that he didn’t even notice the ability being used.
A spell usually only usable to ambush on the first attack, yet Makaela cast it so fast that it was like she was teleporting all around him.
Kavek was overwhelmed, his movements growing sluggish while Makaela only grew faster with each attack. He couldn’t grasp her speed, yet she perfectly timed his motions and pacing. She led the fight now, every slash and stab controlling his movements.
She gave him a sense of pace, a system in how she appeared and attacked, she made him grow used to it. Giving Kavek a false sense of safety as he blindly followed her every move, until Makaela broke that pace.
She abruptly appeared behind him when he thought she would rematerialize before him, his body stiffening as her daggers dug into his back. Kavek’s jaw lay dropped while his eyes widened in disbelief.
Makaela left her daggers in his back, as she backed away from him.
Kavek turned to face her, eyes wide with madness as he lashed out. Slashing and slicing wildly at her, Makaela though evaded each strike with ease. Her cold eyes stuck watching his own, as his movements slowed, his attacks growing rasher.
Until he suddenly charged at her with abandon, Makaela sidestepping his charge and tripping Kavek to the ground.
“You’re the weak one, Kavek.” Makaela said with an amused tone as she kicked him over, “You? Leading my dreadblades? Hah,” she laughed whole heartedly before stomping her boot onto his crotch. Causing Kavek to breath out a choked whimper, “You could barely put a scratch on young Ascal.”
She stared down at him, the coldness in her eyes meeting the fear that now permeated his. “The dreadblades are my creation, I pulled our people together and formed this band of thieves and killers so we could survive persecution and avoid enslavement.”
Makaela looked up and around her, at all the dark elves that stared at her and only her. Her gaze grew sullen, “I’ll admit, I’ve been dreading his words for a while now and when I actually got to hear him say it…It crushed me.” her sorrow then replaced with determination as she gazed down at a dying Kavek once more. “But I took up the task of leading our people after my mother before me and my grandfather before her, their beliefs, whether true or false…”
Makaela trailed off her words, glancing briefly at Thea as she weakly stood up. “I guess, we’ll figure it out on the way.” Makaela said in common, “But I will not fail, I will not fall and I will not be chained down.” a wide grin grew over her face as she wiped the drying tears.
“Xilfir, you are free to choose. You are free to leave, or continue to follow me.” Makaela said in elven, facing each dark elf present. “You have your doubts, all I ask is that you give me time to…” suddenly Makaela swung her right arm forward, several blades flying out of her sleeve and impaling themselves into Kavek’s men. “Prove my worth.”
Makaela smiled, watching while each xilfir kneeled before her. A scene that brought her troubled mind great pride and clarity. She knew what she needed to do now, Makaela knew the answer to her question.
“I f-feel wobbly…and tired a-all of a s-sudden…” Thea said before abruptly collapsing into the grass.
Just then the bestia suddenly barged into the opening. Shizuka froze as she was suddenly faced with hundreds of dark elves, her feline eyes widening in surprise. From behind her Ivara also suddenly burst out of the brush, spinning on the spot and hissing up at Shizuka.
Nerick then struggled out of the bushes too, “Did you get her Ivara?” having finally caught up with the both of them. Seeing that Shizuka had indeed stopped, he then saw why she had. “Oh-Uhm…Sorry to intrude.” He said with a quickly paling expression, turning around right after.
Nerick walked back into the forest without another word.
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