Chapter 44: Before The Storm

Nearby Seeri

Off the coast of the island Mieri


 

 

Thea gazed off at the horizon as she stood at the North Orca’s very back, Sinroz now all too far to be in sight, yet she still gazed off towards it.

Hoping, that she made the right call.

“Any longer and I would have dropped a bucket full of sea water on ya.” Kyllix sighed as he came out of the ship’s cabin, Nerick and Shizuka in tail.

“Sorry…those beds are really cumfy!” Shizuka chuckled as she stretched her arms.

“Hah…The Crimsons have it good, in the army we had to deal with bedrolls…” Nerick mused as he fed Ivara who lay coiled around his neck as usual, passing the wyvern a piece of smoked meat out of a leather bag.

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Which, Ivara dived right into when she noticed where the food was coming from. Causing Nerick some panic as he tried to pull her out, “H-Hey some of that is m-mine…” but it was too late, Ivara had eaten her fill.

And her fill was the entire pouch.

“Prepare yourselves,” Thea then said, walking over to them as she now gazed ahead, at the Orca’s destination. “We’re almost there.”

“Mieri huh?” Nerick said as he followed her gaze, each of them turning to look at the flourishing tropical island.

“Ambassador O’Connor did confirm Umbra’s hint, there is no mistake, that island is owned by council member Ramzi Al-Salem.” Thea explained.

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“So how do we approach this then? Go in quietly?” Shizuka asked.

“Heh, I’ll probably be able to tell you whether that’s a good idea or not soon. Getting in range of my detection, I’ll give the land a good scan once I do.” Kyllix said as his eyes narrowed.

Thea noticed his change of expression, “Something wrong?”

“Not really, well, something has been bugging me for a while though…” Kyllix mused, ”Azkel has in her employ the entirety of the Assassin’s Pact, and a mastermind plan. But Brazath…I cannot read him. Does he only have this Ramzi in his employ? Who has captured the last actual Dragon on Faetera. So why keep it alive? What use does Ramzi have for this Dragon? How did he capture it in the first place? No adult Dragon would allow itself to be captured without laying waste to the land around it, yet I’ve heard of no such disaster.”

“It could be a drake, like Erik.” Shizuka pointed out.

“It very well could be,” Kyllix agreed, “But that still begs the question, is Brazath so lax that he’d allow Ramzi to toy with something as dangerous as a Dragon? Even a young one? Maybe it is because it is a young one? Maybe Brazath is planning to do with it what Hell has done with Erik already? No matter the age, to have a Dragon as an ally is a great increase in Hell’s forces on Faetera.”

“Would they be able to turn it in their favour though?” Nerick then asked, “I mean, you said that it took a God’s power to allow Hell into Erik’s mind. You also said that you’ve rounded up the other Gods and questioned them, is there any that would still side with Hell?”

Kyllix smirked as he glanced back at the Djinn, “Gods never change, that’s their primary weakness. They’re power beings who’ve had their strength locked away, they wish to be free. Are there any more Gods that would side with Hell? The short answer would be yes, there are many. The long answer? It’s complicated. Either way, what Hell and Grim did to Erik was no simple task. Dragons have exceptional mental fortitude, it must have taken them centuries to crack him.”

“And Ramzi hasn’t had centuries since he’s had this drake in custody.” Thea added.

“Something else is afoot then, what is? I’m not sure.” Kyllix said as he shrugged, “But the answers lay ahead, and I’m about to be able to take a quick glance at it all.”

“How much further?” Shizuka asked.

“You won’t feel a thing, we’re still too far for your ears. This is me though, here goes.” Kyllix explained as he stepped forward, moving to the ship’s very front.

He stood there, watching the island in silence.

Focusing on his senses.

“So, what do you see-Err-feel?” Nerick asked.

“Nothing…” Kyllix said.

“Are we not close enough yet?” Shizuka then asked.

“No we are…I should have at least half the island in my range…But I don’t even sense the trees, grass, bugs! Animals! Nothing…” Kyllix explained, his tone turning serious as he focused further. “Wait…I sense something, how did I not feel it earlier? It’s bloody closing in.”

“W-What is it?” Shizuka asked as Thea unstrapped her gunblade and Ivara turned into a pole-axe within Nerick’s hands.

Each of them watched as Kyllix turned to face them, his eyes wide in surprise.

“Ru-” He tried to speak, but his words were cut off.

As he suddenly disappeared from sight.

(“Well that wasn’t helpful at all!”) Ivara whined, as the other three stood frozen in shock.

“Kyllix? W-Where d-did he g-go?” Nerick asked, stuttering from the surprise.

“I don’t sense him…I don’t-know?” Shizuka said, as she stepped forward to where he once stood. “What do we do?”

The both of them turned to Thea, whose eyes narrowed as she gazed at the island ahead.

As it suddenly disappeared from view as well.

Water rippled along the Orca’s sides as it moved, the liquid seemingly appearing out of nowhere and expanding outwards. Revealing a massive barrier of water, surrounding where the island lay. The ship stopped at the barrier’s edge, unable to pass through, the water blocking it from going further.

“What the hell…” Shizuka mumbled out as she stepped away from the water.

Ah, we have surprise visitors!” A monstrous voice suddenly exclaimed, “Welcome, to the grandest show on Faetera.” it said, and the Orca suddenly began to sink forward into the barrier.

“Thea! What do we do!?” Shizuka asked again in panic, glancing in between the quickly approaching wall of liquid and then at her.

Thea was grimacing, “Steel yourselves.” She told them, preparing herself as well. “We’ve been had.”

Shizuka turned around to face the barrier, stepping away to stand in between Thea and Nerick as it approached them. Grabbing onto Thea’s sleeve in dismay, as the water reached their faces.

Each took a deep breathe, the water then engulfing them. Shizuka closing her eyes as it did.

Welcome…” A voice said, as Shizuka opened her eyes to find herself elsewhere. “To my Monster Coliseum.” Ramzi greeted, as he stood before all three of them, while they suddenly found themselves at the centre of the arena.

Yet, there was just them within the entire cavern. No monsters or fighters, no observers either as the stands lay empty. It was just Thea, Nerick, Ivara and Shizuka standing before an amused Ramzi.

The Orca, the ocean, and the barrier were all gone.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” Ramzi said, mildly bowing before them, as he remained polite in both form and tone. “I am Ramzi Al-Salem, council seat holder, Sinbeni businessman, mercenary contract provider, and the showman of this wonderous place.” He explained, gesturing at the arena around him. “I apologise, but your ship was seized, alongside its crew. Now I ask, what is a Djiin, a Wyvern, a…Ah, a Spirit Beast is it? Oh, and a drake’s Chosen. What brings you to me?” he asked with a raised brow.

But neither of them responded, as each glanced about in confusion, anxiety and apprehension filling them. Then focusing on the man before them, as he sighed. “Well, I can always guess. Azkel sent you my way to deter me, oh how thoughtful of her. And how much like her it is to drop her problems on others, Master will be grandly amused to know how much her plans have failed, and in turn aided me.” Ramzi chuckled.

“W-Where is he?” Shizuka then suddenly asked.

“Hm? Who might you be speaking of child?” Ramzi asked, narrowing his eyes as they befell her. Shizuka froze before his cold gaze, a dark gleam in his eyes filling her with terror.

Terror she had only felt once before.

“Kyllix! Where did you take hi-!?” Nerick exclaimed, Ramzi’s gaze then moving onto him, causing him to choke on his words from sudden fear.

“How disrespectful, have your parents never taught you basic mannerisms?” Ramzi chided, “I know not who this Kyllix, you speak of is. What I do know, is that you’re trespassing. So, for what reason? How much, do you know?” Ramzi asked, his voice twisting into a hiss.

His gaze met Thea’s, forcing upon her the same terrifying aura that befell the rest, but she resisted the fear. Thea struggled, feeling her body suddenly get heavier, feeling the coldness filling her bones. But she did not let up, meeting the man’s gaze with her own as a warmth suddenly filled her.

A flame burned within her, deterring the fear.

“Ah, how admirable.” Ramzi said, his amused smile widening. “You shall not tell me? Well, you must at least understand your situation. Like flies, you’ve flown into a spider’s web. There is no escape, no matter how much you may resist from now on. Nobody will come to save you. Nobody can save you. Forget the flimsy feeling you call hope, you have none. Why is that?” He chuckled wickedly, his eyes narrowing further.

Causing each of them to take a fearful step back.

Because, you have all just volunteered to join my collection.” He said, as his voice warped once again. “And oh, how much do I love to see new additions!

“Collection? We’re not your damn possession!” Thea exclaimed, her eyes glowing a fierce gold as she charged at him. Her blade surged with sudden lightning as she lunged ahead, reaching mere inches away from landing her attack when Ramzi suddenly disappeared.

Ahaha, feisty are we? No matter, you’ll get your fill of action yet!” Ramzi laughed as he reappeared on his balcony, looking down at them from above.

Thea stumbled out of her attack, turning to look up in surprise. Grimacing as she glanced between him and her two companions.

I will guess that, you’re here for her? Well I’m afraid you’re all too late then.” Ramzi said, grinning evilly as his eyes widened. “Let me show you.” He said, flicking his fingers.

And suddenly, each of them stood elsewhere.

The arena disappeared from their view, as they appeared in a completely different hall. Runes of ethereal light lay floating down from the ceiling and walls which they covered in its entirety, as hundreds of chains hung from every direction.

The chains held a massive beast of green scales, a young drake much smaller than Erikathyr’s true form. Ivyieth’s eyes were rolled back into her head, as she lay unconscious while the runes floated down in the shape of glowing lines of energy, slowly wrapping themselves around her body.

“What is…What are you…doing to it?” Shizuka asked, her eyes widening with horror as she sensed the sheer agony burning within the drake.

As she felt, the drake’s soul being very slowly ripped out of her body.

Being dragged out, bit by bit, and pulled into the human that kneeled beneath it.

No, not a human, Shizuka thought.

She felt nothing within the woman.

No emotion.

No thought.

No soul.

The human was empty, nothing but a vessel, as the drake’s slowly filled that void.

Ramzi chuckled, but was nowhere to be seen. “What am I doing? Well, that is a simple question, but to fully answer it would be very complicated. I’m sure you know Azkel and the Pact’s plan to summon an Arch-Devil, by this point? No matter if you don’t and I just told you, you’re not going anywhere…” His laughter reverberated throughout the room, penetrating their mind and body.

Shaking them to the core.

Ah, how long I’ve waited to reveal my grand masterpiece to the world! Was it too much to ask to get spectators sooner!?” Ramzi asked in excitement, his voice gaining a growl as he spoke. Seemingly demonic, but to each of them it was much more familiar…

Be honoured, lesser mortals. You are the first, and the last, to learn of my plan. Something, nobody would’ve ever guessed. Something, so grandiose, that you shall not believe my own words!” Ramzi exclaimed, as miasma suddenly rose from the corpses that lay sprawled about the room.

Dozens of them, dead bodies of what seemed like mages. Trembling albeit dead, as a dark purple smoke oozed out of them.

Thea, Ivara and Nerick watched in confusion, but Shizuka had none.

Shizuka was instead terrified by what she felt, by the energy she sensed floating about.

Tell me, why spend so much time and effort in summoning a being that has already been defeated. When you can create something new?” Ramzi asked, his tone now maniacal as he cackled. “What need does Hell have for an Arch-Devil, a creature that has already failed it? When I, Not Ramzi…No, I shall drop the mask!

Suddenly the walls faded, turning transparent and revealing the outside.

Each of their expressions turned to shocked awe, as they gazed at the vast space beyond the walls.

A massive waterfall descended all around their sphere, seemingly a circular hole in the ocean, reaching down to the very bottom. They lay within one of hundreds of spheres, like marbles in the space outside, floating aimlessly within the dim blue light.

Why resummoned a failure? When I, Delirio the Black…” The being said as it appeared hovering before their sphere…

A mass of darkness.

Pitch black scales riddling its body with a carapace of dark purple running down its chest. Black plating covering its back, four legs, neck and serpentine tail as separate pieces of armour.

Giving it all the mobility it needed, alongside the resistance its kind was known for.

While more carapace protected its face, each part of it gleaming with the blue light.

As it spread its gigantic black wings, both limbs and webbing being darker than the night sky. Each wing, larger than its main body.

Its two violet eyes, reptilian in form, they gazed through the faded walls and down towards the three of them.

As it opened its jaws, revealing a collection of pitch-black fangs that too reflect off the light.

When I, can provide something so much better!” The Black Dragon exclaimed, “A drake’s powerful soul, lying within a human’s versatile body. Something the god of death failed to provide my master with. I shall not fail though. For with this drake’s soul, and this vessel of my own making. It lays as the perfect body to summon my master into. Imagine, a Dragon’s power melded with a Devil’s. Alongside the amalgamation of other creatures, I have in my collection! Condensed into human form!

Delirio laughed from the excitement, “This world…Would be ours. But now? Now I see vaster lands ahead! For I have been brought a Spirit Beast!

Suddenly black chains rose from the ground, entangling themselves around Shizuka.

And then more rose, wrapping around Nerick too.

And a Djinn! Oh, how fate smiles upon me!” Delirio exclaimed, watching in amusement as Thea helplessly slashed her weapon at the chains that tried to wrap around her too. Unable to run or fight the mass of iron that assaulted her, she was captured as well. “And you, I have no need for a second Chosen, my own is the vessel so…What to do with you I wonder?

Thea struggled and struggled with the chains, as the metal seemingly drained her body of power. She was no match, every drop of mana she pulled on was immediately sucked out of her body before she could use it. “You won’t get away with this! Dammit!” Thea exclaimed, her voice filling with fading power.

Delirio laughed whole-heartedly at her words, “Oh? And who will stop me?” He asked in draconic, the entire sphere they lay in trembling merely from his voice. “The other surviving Dragons care not for this world, they simply wish for peace and quiet. The Fae? They know nothing, nor will they find out. Not until it is all too late. Who then? The other lesser species? Will the prideful Elves, the stubborn Dwarves, or the foolish Humans stop me? Or will it be the chaotic Dark Elves? Maybe the Bestia or Mer?” he laughed with each mentioned race, wholly entertained.

E-Erik! He’ll stop you!” Thea exclaimed, now unable to move a finger as the chains fully engulfed her body, but her mouth and eyes.

Erikathyr? Hah!” Delirio bellowed in further amusement, “That foolish child has never been anything more than an unruly pawn for my master. You’ve all been nothing but a nuisance. I commend you on making it thus far, but this is as far as you make it. Two of you will be used up as sacrifices for our rise, but you…I know, I shall let you live.

Suddenly the chains that bound each of them grew tighter, feeling as if their very lives were being squashed out of their bodies.

Barely able to breathe.

Barely able to see.

Unable, to speak.

You will fight in my arena, entertain my guests!” Delirio said, snapping his claws as he chuckled. ”You shall await the end with them, as you struggle to survive.

(“No…”)

Thea thought, but struggle as she might the chains bound her entirely.

(“This can’t end here!”)

No matter how much power she summoned, it was drained out, leaving her empty.

(“After…everything we’ve done! After we’ve made it this far! Is this really it? Was there never any hope to begin with?”)

She asked, not herself but someone else.

Someone she hoped was listening.

(“Tell me! I know you can hear me! Please!”)

Thea pleaded, as despair filled both her gaze and heart.

(“Is this…is this where we fail?…”)

That is, if you survive to see it. Oh I hope you do, the more see it the merrier!” Delirio exclaimed, as darkness began to creep into her view.

As her surroundings slowly disappeared, being engulfed by shadows that quickly closed in on her.

(“Why?…”)

Thea asked, as she watched the shadows devour Nerick and Ivara.

(“Did we ever stand a chance?”)

She asked, her heart drowning in despair as the shadows devoured Shizuka.

(“Were you fooled too? Tell me…please…”) She asked, as the shadows reached her.

(“Was I a fool…to believe in you?”) She asked, the darkness then filling her sight.

 


~Gasps~


 

(“Erik…”)

(“Theaviss!”)

A light then suddenly filled her eyes, dispersing the darkness, but blinding her in turn.

Have I ever disappointed you?” A voice asked, as the light faded.

Revealing a humanoid figure engulfed in gold, standing before her.

Blonde hair above strong shoulders that stood tall.

A draconic white tail, calmly swinging from side to side.

As Erik’s fists shook, while he gazed at Delirio.

His eyes burning with enraged flames.

His body surging with the fury of lightning.

You dare, damage a hair on my Chosen, and her companions.” He said, his voice shaking the very air around him.

As the sphere collapsed all around them, his entrance having destroyed the barrier which held it up.

You, of the Black Clan, dare side with demons!?” Erik bellowed, his draconic voice sending out visible sparks of lightning. “You dare, side yourself against your own kind. You dare, insult the very Nature that gave you life, with this abomination!?

Pearly white limbs, holding a webbing of gold within. They suddenly grew out of Erik’s back.

Spreading open and wide, glistening in all their glory.

His wings…reared back.

Sending quakes of energy through the air.

And with a single wing beat.

The fight between a White Dragon,

And a Black Dragon…

Began!

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