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 Chapter 12: A Happy Conclusion

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Red Blizzard

Posts : 164
Join date : 2011-05-30
Age : 25
Location : Elsewhere

PostSubject: Chapter 12: A Happy Conclusion   Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:54 pm

The three captains and their leader took various paths back to the castle. Each one took their time, savoring the taste of victory that some had almost forgotten. Yet something about it didn’t seem complete. It didn’t match up in any way to the sense of fulfillment the victory over the Shadowstorm Elites had given, nor had it matched the epic grandeur of the war against the 13 Lord of Chaos. There wasn’t even the comfortable feeling of peace that followed the reunification of the clan after Priest had defeated the spirit of war that had resided for so long inside Dye. There was just...emptiness. A sinking sensation that everything had somehow been too easy and too meaningless. This time around, they hadn’t really accomplished anything. Another clan down the drain. Great.

Priest felt the hardest hit as he walked through the town of Wa-Kia, escorting the casualties of war, the dead and the wounded. Behind him, he could hear one or two moans from those who had gotten nothing more out of the war than a sack of gold and a head wound. From the silent body being born at his side, Priest could feel nothing but regret. According to Saint, Fire had some choice last words before he actually realized he was about to die. Priest paused before the great glass fountain in the town square. The last rays of day lit the fountain as if it were on fire, light reflecting off the glass in an explosion of brilliant oranges and reds. He could lie to himself, and say that it had all been to protect the people of this town. But it was a hollow lie that held no conviction. They had gone out, killed as many people as they could find, looted all they could, then returned. Armed bandits. That’s what they essentially were. Nothing more than armed bandits. Priest shook his head and kept walking. He was just raving about nothing. Tomorrow, he would wake up and feel better, go downstairs for breakfast, and carry on with his life. A man had died defending his clan. Nothing more.


Blizzard stopped by the Archives of Wa-Kia. He checked the list of Requiem allies, updated information about their clan, and was just on the way out the door when Al Gilman, the archivist, waved him over to the front desk.

“What is it?”

“The Order of the Dark Wolves nullified their alliance with you.”

“Nullified!? Why?”

“Apparently they’re cutting off all diplomatic connections with all clans. They don’t want to get involved in all those big, deadly wars any more. They want more of those one-on-one tournaments where no one dies.”

Blizzard nodded slowly. “They’re humanizing the art of battle. How clever...” Blizzard stood for a moment, thoughtful. There was a possibility. Nobody had to die, and entire conflicts could be decided with a bloodless bit of swordplay. But then again, what conflicts were there to be solved? If two parties both claimed the same parcel of land, neither side would give up until there was no more of one side to struggle against. There was nothing to bind one side to the agreement if they didn’t like the outcome of a struggle. There were always threats, blackmail, night raids, assassinations...

Once outside again in the cool evening air, Blizzard looked over at Dawn. She had six days left of her life. No one-on-one tournament could buy back the years of life ahead of her. Dawn looked up at Blizzard with her dead eyes, nodded, and turned to leave. Enjoying life while she still could. Blizzard himself sighed, tousled his hair, and turned to follow. Were they justified in this war? Sure. The Demons of Hell had been terrorizing civilians up and down the country, and they had killed his sisters. What had they done in retaliation? They destroyed a clan. Time to move on. Blizzard sighed as he thought about returning to normal work the next day. Clan ties had to be patched up. Requiem was down to just one active ally: the Guardians of Doom. War or no war, he would have his work cut out for him. His eyes jumped into focus as they followed Dawn’s retreating figure into the darkness. Hell, he didn’t even have time to spend with his family. He thought about Pixie’s maniacal laughter, Dawn’s six days. A shiver went through him that had nothing to do with the night air. What kind of brother was he?


Dye checked up on Marcus as he led his own squad around the walls of Wa-Kia to the castle. He kept a mild flame around himself to keep warm, though the real reason the flame kept burning was because he was restless. He hardly got to fight at all in this war, limited to running around with his body on fire, wearing nothing but boxers. His men were careful not to mention this to him, though Dye was certain that at least some of them were giving him funny looks behind his back. But that was the least of his worries. Marcus had been knocked out, and it was unknown whether or not he would recover. Even Priest didn’t have any healing spell that would restore the conscious mind. If he did, Dye would probably ask him to restore someone else’s mind as well.

“GuheheheHe.” Dye didn’t flinch this time as Pixie giggled somewhere from the back of the squad. He had spent the last half an hour getting used to her insane laughter. Instead, he turned around, faintly annoyed.

“Why do you keep following me? Go follow your brother or something.”

“GuhehehehA! I don’t like my brother. Oh, and you’re wearing only boxers, if you didn’t know. Brothers and boxers. Hehe, that’s nasty.” Dye chose to ignore her, forging ahead at a brisk pace. War had driven this girl out of her mind. Suddenly, as the castle came into view, he paused. What if... But it didn’t matter. One girl out of her mind, one guy dead, and another guy in coma. In perspective, it was a small price to pay for victory. Still, they would have to find out what to do with all these people. Marcus would have be taken care of, and Pixie couldn’t be allowed to roam anywhere she wanted. Who knew where she intended to stick her next knife into. Dye sighed, running a flaming hand through his burning hair. He could deal with that later.


Saint paused by the lake’s edge, gazing at the castle through the reflection of the water. It was the end of another successful war. The other Captains didn’t know it, but Saint had organized several operations in private to keep his men busy. But the fact that they had gone public with this battle made them feel better than they had in the past, when they were forced to hide their results from their own clanmates. Saint glanced over at his squad. Their faces weren’t exactly elated, but there was a gleam in their eyes that told him that they were ready to do it again.

It was almost a drug. When they were planning, they were five hundred feet off the floor. When they were scouting, they were a mile in the sky. When they were in battle, they were ten thousand feet above the clouds. When it was all over, they were ready for more. The cycle was endless. If he quit warring for a week, Saint’s entire squad would be in withdrawal mode. Dye’s squad had it easy; he could go out and publicly bash people who were bad-mouthing the clan. But Saint actually had to plan out his attacks to be both effective and low-profile. That meant more work to attain the same feeling.

They weren’t necessary bloodthirsty. Not even Dye could claim that. They were just...eager warriors looking for the thrill of battle. Just in for the challenge. It was like taking the feeling that anyone else would get from playing the perfect game of any kind of sport or board game, and multiplying it by a factor of a hundred. Even just sitting in a tree, and seeing someone passing by; not just anyone, but the person you’re hunting down, the target; and just sitting there with nothing but the near-silence of the leaves quietly rustling in the tree and the person’s muffled footsteps crunching over gravel, and the loudest noise in the whole wide forest was your heart beating and the adrenaline rushing as you stealthily, with less noise than an owl, dropped out of the tree, knife catching the rays of the late-afternoon sun and the gleam of orange and red being replaced by a solid sheen of blood as you plunged it into the target’s neck, then disappeared into the shadow of the same tree before the target’s bodyguards could even notice that their master was no longer walking among them, but was quietly drowning in a pool of their own blood on the ground. Even that feeling of taking the life of someone you never knew and now will never know; that feeling was more than anything else those men had ever experienced.

One man didn’t have that gleam in his eye yet. Saint saw Staitus walking a little ways behind the others, eyes unfocused and looking off to one side. Saint dropped back in the group to talk to Staitus as the others went on ahead.

“Made up your mind yet?”

“Well, it’s not like I have a lot of a choice. The Demons of Hell have been disbanded by Requiem, so I have nowhere to turn to. I might take a look at the Guardians of Doom, or I might join Requiem. Both are viable options, but I don’t know...”

“Why not join both?” Staitus looked up. Saint was grinning faintly. “You’re allowed to join both clans, you know. Multi-clanning is a viable option.”

“I guess...” Staitus went back to thinking, and Saint didn’t press the matter. It would take him a while to decide. The Demons of Hell were probably Staitus’s first clan, so he would never have had the experience of a full-scale war before. Saint knew of two people who had been forever changed by war. One had started off much like Staitus, uncertain about taking other people’s lives. She had risen to a high rank and was well-respected before her death. The other, quite a nice guy, had abandoned his friends and comrades in favor of reliving the exhilaration of battle over and over. Saint didn’t know where he was now. Hopefully not killing too many people. War changed people, but people never changed war. They could try short-changing it with quick surrenders and pitiful campaigns, but they could never change the way it affected those who lived, or give back the lives to those who died. It was the final, absolute way to settle conflicts. And they were the tools that brought about these settlements.


The four Captains led their squads into the castle, taking the time to rest and recuperate. Blizzard couldn’t sleep, and spent all night in the armory, putting the finishing touches on several items of importance. Dye slept like a log in his bed, glad to have gotten the day’s experiences out of his mind as he sank into a deep dream. Saint strategized for a while, planning out the next war, then fell into an uneasy sleep at a table, feeling as if he had forgotten something. Priest finished healing the last of the wounded, made sure that the fallen were well-attended to, then mounted the stairs. He thought about talking to Nathan about the war, feeling bad that he had to miss out. But then, Priest could feel the fatigue of all the healing weighing down on him. He would talk to Nathan about it tomorrow.


The whole castle slept. Two shadows made off with their prey.

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Chapter 12: A Happy Conclusion
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