Arora welcomed Rinkah to the growing group warmly. It was really amazing how fast they were growing. It was almost overwhelming, but really she was just glad they weren’t struggling alone. The faster they grew stronger the better chance they would have in facing the real threat.
They all made better progress than Arora expected after the fight. She had expected everyone to be exhausted, but in those few hours they made it pretty far past the village. Arora agreed that a resupply and chance to rest would be good for everyone, and give them a chance to see what Lilith had been up to. She was so busy making the base better Arora was constantly impressed.
Arora went to make sure everyone would be alright for the night even with there not being enough supplies. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits. She went to see Lucien, noticing he was in his dragon form,”Hm? Ah, I’m working on that. There’s sort of a plan…”
She leaned against his side. She wanted to tell him everything, but she knew she couldn’t. Not here, not now. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you more just yet. But I am thinking of what has to happen after we get everyone together. Doing that is just the start.”
It was the exact steps that she wasn’t sure of. Somehow she would need to get them all to follow her before she could explain everything, then they could properly work on fighting the real enemy, the one manipulating things behind the scenes.
Lucien took a second to pull a map out of a bag that he had. He had packed in to help navigate the mountainous terrain but he could use it to find this Izumo place. He never heard of it before but then again, he hadn’t heard about a lot of places in these lands. Taking a few second to Orient himself to the map he quickly found the place on the map. “It isn't too much farther out of the way and shouldn’t cause more then another day of travel even with this little stop.” he said to the group once he was done looking over everything.
Most of the group agreed and got ready to move. “Then I guessing we should arrive early morning.” Rinkah said nodding. This caused a few by surprise.
“Wait you’re coming too?” Kaze asked.
“Yes, why wouldn’t I? I already said that I believe Lady Arora and plus I owe her after saving my life in Nohr.”
“I see well then we are glad to have you.” Azura said bowing. Rinkah nodded as a few other welcomes were exchanged. Adding two more to the now slowly growing army. Lucien was impressed on how quickly the group was growing and just how willing they were to listening to Arora. Smiling he soon led the group back out as they received goodbye and wave from Fuga and his troops.
“Good luck and may the Dragons watch over you.” And with that the village disappeared again into the wind. Like it wasn’t even there. Night a few hour later after they had put the village far behind them. They lacked the supplies to set up tent for every one so Lucien suggested they go back to their base tomorrow to help get everyone supply's plus it would be good for everyone to take a breck after the hardship of the mountains.
Lucien let out a heavy yawn as he turned back into his dragon form. He given his tent up to someone plus in never bugged him to sleep out under the stars. “Arora?” He asked when she was close by. “What are your plans after we get everyone together?” He was concerned that she wouldn’t know the next step. Just because they got everyone together didn’t mean that would end the war it just mean they would talk. Plus, there was something in the background pulling the strings. Did she know about it and if so why hadn't she said anything?
“Thank you. I’m fine now.” Arora put her hand over her now healed shoulder. Arora stood up with a smile, glad that everything had worked out. They took a gamble and it had payed off.
Arora listened attentively. Her father, her real father, had spoken to him about the blade. She looked at Valentine and Azura. They were right, if that was true then it might help with that.
“Thank you so much for your help.” Arora gave a bow and smiled,”I am grateful for the help.”
It amused her how he seemed so confident. She didn’t doubt his skill either, despite his obvious youth. He was eager to prove himself, and she understood that,”I will heed the advice and go to Izumo. Learning more about this could be a great help. We should go as soon as possible, if everyone is up for it.”
In her mind the longer they delayed the worse the situation could get between Hoshido and Nohr. She also didn’t want to push everyone too far, they needed their rest.
And just like that the fight was over. In one quick motion they had one. Lucien let out a sigh of relief as he returned his swords to his sheath. Everyone did the same glad that the fight was over and no one got hurt or injured. Subaki rushed to her sister staff in and as she saw her injury. “A gods are you alright?” She said holding her staff up and channeling magic into the wound to make it heal.
With a few claps and a chuckle Fuga stood up. “I see that you have quite a bit.” A smile on his face. “I understand, Arora. I could sense no ill intent in you as we fought. You have a pure heart and a warrior's spirit. I promise to explain the situation to the rest of my tribe—you should not worry.
“Thank you, Chieftain Fuga.” Rinkah said bowing to the monk.
Returning the bow to Rinkah he turned back to Arora. “Ah, you remind me of Sumeragi. He would rejoice at seeing you now. You would definitely make him proud.
“You knew her father?” Lucien asked tilting his head.
“Oh yes. King Sumeragi was a dear friend. We often fought side by side in our younger days. We were brothers in battle. Those days are long past now... You fought well today. I can see why you deserve to wield the Yato. And yes, I know of that blade. Sumeragi once spoke of it to me.”
“What did he say about it?” Subaki asked as she never remember her father talking about the blade that Arora wielded.
“Listen carefully... The Yato is the key to the Seal of Flames. The Seal of Flames contains limitless power...It is said that it is a weapon capable even of destroying the gods that made it.”
Valintie perked up at this part. “It has the power to topple a god?! Then...perhaps it could be used to...”
Azura smiled nodding as well. “Yes... We have a glimmer of hope now.”
"Izana, from Izumo, should be more familiar with the legends.” Fuga I suggest you seek him out and ask about the Seal of Flames. Our tribe will also provide aid for your trip. I believe the best choice would be...”
Stepping forward was the boy for the battle before. “There is only one choice. I will accompany them.”
This was a shocked to Lucien as he said. “You're... Are you sure? You look so young...” The boy looks hardly over fourteen.
The boy scowled back at this “I'm not a child. I'm a grown man! You saw what I am capable of. Chieftain, I humbly request this honor from you. You have no objections?” It was true his magic was quite strong even to him.
“No, of course not. Your magical talents will help.” Fuga said patting the boys back. “I'm sure you'll be a great asset to Arora. Just promise me you'll be careful.”
“Of course.” He nodded. “So, Arora. You should be grateful I am going to aid you in your endeavor.”
“Cocky kid”. Lucien said roling his eyes. We should think about going to Izumo. We might be able to learn more about the Seal of Flames.” If it was something that could help them later he was all for getting Arora more power. “But that choice is yours my lady.”
His attacks didn’t let up, but Arora was starting to get an idea of the pattern. He wasn’t giving her an opening to attack, so she’d have to make one. Arora dodged a few more times before going in for her chance. The timing had to be perfect.
It was. Instead of dodging she blocked one attack with the club, her arms aching from the force but she held. It interrupted his rhythm just enough that she had the time to let herself drop and take out his legs with her own. His axe came down and grazed her shoulder painfully, but with him falling it didn’t have the force to do serious damage. She didn’t give him time to recover, quickly aiming her sword at his side where she could have easily thrust it in and dealt a devastating, most likely lethal, blow. She didn’t, instead just holding it there poised to strike, her breathing heavy,”Here’s my resolve.”
Lucien would knock out a solider only for them to be replaced by another. A few of their side had already been knocked out and laid in the back. They had to work hard to keep the extra solider from other encircling them or attacking Arora in the back while she delta with Fuga. However, after a while some of the enemy energy seemed to falter. They may have been more of them but they didn’t seem to be as skilled at their group.
After seeing so mean of their friend knock out the group seem to lose even more steam until finally, they started pushing them back. After pushing a bit harder they managed to push to a boy with a smug look on his face. “You seem well trained but let see if you can stand up to my magic.” At the same time a strong gust of wind came pushing most of the team back leaving only a few to fight. The enemy to back more ground as they saw a chance and took it. “I got this one.” Rinkah said rushing on ahead attacking the boy.
Lucien looked to make sure that Arora was okay and so far, she seemed to. She looked on the defensive as Fuge kept up his attack. She would need to think fast and find a way to get past his constant attacks. “Come on little one I know you can do it.” He said to himself as he turned back to face his own threat. “Come now I not done yet.” He yelled charging forward.
Arora joined the fighting, but it really was difficult to make progress. Their opponents were skilled, and Arora didn’t want to kill any of them. Still, her people were strong enough to be holding up well.
“Alright,” Arora agreed with Lucien’s plan, and waited for the opening they were going to make for her. Once she saw it she rushed forward without any hesitation. Her resolve. Arora gripped her sword tighter. He was quick, and immediately had her on the defensive. She couldn’t even think to attack just then, and focused everything on not getting hit. His blows were powerful, and she didn’t want to find out how many she could take before going down.
She had to dodge to figure out where she could get in an attack. Some weak spot, a pattern she could disrupt maybe.
Lucien could feel the wind started to pick up around them as the fight began. Fearing them to strong to fly he drew his two long sword and charged. A few of the other did a well. Gunther, Valentine, Subaki, Hana, Rinkah and himself made up the front line. Mozume, Kaze, Jakob and Azura made up the middle and supported the frontline. In the rear Sakura waited to heal and treat any of the wounds. The grouping soloed but with the number being on their opponent size and the home field it would be an uphill battle.
In more than a few second the two groups clashed Lucien skill being about to quick take down one enemy and move to the next. Gunther was similar as he was a veteran fighter. The other where quick but still a bit slower than the two veterans. From behind them the second group was quick to support with other long rang attack on jumping in to block attack from the side. Even the inexperienced Mozume was quick to learn how to help. The looked a lot to Azura as she also used a spear. Subaki was quick to heal any wounds that came about during the first jumping up to show her sister she also wanted to help.
The defender where nothing to scoff at as each one seemed to be very well trained and each time the attacked the they only seemed to give a little ground. “We need to pushe harder.” Lucien called out harder. “Lady Arora once we give you an open go fight Fuge be see to be waiting for you. The bolded monk was in the rear watching the fight. His eyes had never once left Arora searching her for any falter. Jumping forward Hana and Valentine made an opening for Arora to push in and past the defenders. “Go now.”
Once she was past the men Fuge drew two weapon a club and short axe. “Come young princes show me what your resolve is.” Charging he would be quick and ruthless in attacking Arora pushing to just what Arora was truly worth.
Arora really hoped this would work and they could clear things up. She was surprised that the leader was already waiting for them. Word traveled fast, and unfortunately as he talked it seemed that the word about them was all bad and he was inclined to believe it.
Azura beat Arora to quieting Valentine. She was alarmed that Valentine came so close to saying something, and sighed in relief that she hadn’t and nothing happened. There was still the issue at hand though. It was looking like a fight was inevitable, but things changed again.
Arora recognized her, from much earlier. It seemed ages ago, but she remembered. And she believed her. Arora couldn’t help but smile a little. At least someone here believed them.
“Alright, a fight but no killing. I can live with that.” Arora readied herself,”And thank you, Rinkah.”
It seemed they valued strength. If that was the case, she knew they were strong. They would win, and not kill anyone and then they were sure to believe that her and her group meant no harm.
Nodding the group took off to the wind village to speak with the elder. “It the best bet but hopefully it works.” Lucien said rushing with the other to the village. He hoped they didn’t have to fight before they could at least talk to the elder. If they could talk, they could at least hope to avoid a fight with the villages. It didn’t take long for them to reach the village however it seem that the village leader was all ready waiting for them.
He was tall and very muscular for someone that look in his fourth. He stood with no shirt on and an odd-looking armor around his waist and legs. Azura had told them that his man was Fuge and he been friend with the late King Sumeragi.
“So, you wish to speak with me?” He asked once the gotten close enough.
“Yes. My name is Lucien retainer of lady Arora. You're the chieftain of the Wind Tribe, I assume?” Lucien said taking a step forward.
“You are correct. I am called Fuga. News of your arrival got here ahead of you. News of what you intend, to do. You side with neither Nohr nor Hoshido but instead wish to destroy both kingdoms. And you decided to begin with the Wind Tribe by attacking our brethren.” He said lighting his head and gripping the sword on his belt.
Lucien eyes grew wide. “Wait No, of course not! Where are these ideas coming from? We aren't planning to destroy kingdoms. Our real goal, why we are seeking out allies, is to defeat the king of—” Valentine try to say before she was stopped by Azura “Valentine don’t.” Valentine stoped and looked away struggling to say something.
“What was that? What did you say?” Fuge asked razing and eyebrow.
“I apologize what she means to say is that our true enemy is one not yet known to everyone...” Azura said stepping up. This was new to Lucien but it made since as to what Grima said in his dreams.
“An unknown enemy? Has fear of death driven you mad? Don't think you can gain advantage by confusing me with your ramblings. Only a fool would accept your explanation, and I am no fool. Eliminate these invaders immediately!” He said as the men around her drew weapon.
“Gah! Are we really asking the impossible? Is there no one who will believe us.” Jakob said drawing his own weapon.
Suddenly Rinkah jumped out of now were surprising everyone. “Chieftain! Please wait!” She said.
“Rinkah?! What are you doing here?” Kaze asked seeming surprised the most.
“I've been searching for you all. Your departure has thrown both Nohr and Hoshido into chaos” She said turning to Arora. “Rumors are spreading that you plan to attack and destroy both kingdoms. I know that's not the type of person you are—I believe in you!”
Fuge seemed to stop his men at this. “Hmph... The Flame Chieftain's daughter now protects this dangerous group. Why?
“Because I owe Arora a debt. She saved my life. You can't kill her for a misunderstanding. And definitely not because of false rumors. I know Arora, and I know that she is not the type to callously attack others. My father, if he was here, would at least listen to what Arora had to say. Only barbarians scream for death rather than justice!”
Laughing Fuga “Ho, I expected such fiery spirit! So you're saying I should believe her. Despite all I've heard about her intentions. You should be careful—speaking without thinking about what you are saying.
“I have thought on it. On behalf of the Flame Tribe, I vouch for this woman.” She said standing strong in the defense of the group.
“Interesting... You really think that highly of her? Very well! Then you shall all have to prove your worth in the only way that matters. Fight me, fair and square, and show me the strength of your character! Defeat me with your own strength, without tricks or coward's tactics!”
“Looks like we're in for it, Arora! I'll fight by your side. Let's show him the best we've got!
“Seem we have to fight but not to kill.” Jakob said sighing.
“Yep come one everyone lets show them what we are made of.” Lucien said smiling and reading himself with everyone else for combat.
Arora thanked Lucien for the breakfast, and after eating helped get them all ready to leave. The going was a little slower than what would be ideal, but Arora didn’t want to their newest addition too far. She would adjust in time, and she was probably still mourning. Their pace wasn’t too bad, but the going got tougher.
Around would take too long, so they had to make the grueling climb. It was a hard climb for everyone, but even at this pace it would be better than going all the way around.
She thought things were going pretty well, but then things went horribly wrong. With a flash of light it looked like they were being attacked. After the faceless were seemingly defeated they changed to look like normal people. Arora realized it must have been a trick of some kind, since right after some villagers appeared and of course the situation looked terrible. “We didn’t mean…” Arora mumbled, trying not to panic. Senseless violence was exactly what she was trying to avoid.
Sakura saying her name got her attention and she tried to keep calm. Reppu Castle and the leader of the Wind Tribe seemed like their only hope to avoid more bloodshed,”Yes, we have to try. If we don’t, we may get drawn into a fight anyway.”
If they failed it couldn’t be that much worse than this, could it? But it was their only chance to make anything better.
Morning came early to everyone as they tried to quickly clean up and made breakfast. Today was the first major feat about them. The Eternal Stairway was a massive stairway that would lead them up and through the mountains. At the top was the Wind Tribe that if all went well shouldn’t bother them. I would be almost a full day task making up the Eternal stairway. Most would consider it a trail while other would just go around but they didn’t have the time for this and had to make it past the mountain as fast as possible.
Lucien would let out a massive yawn as he looked down at the fire he was using to cook himself breakfast. He had only sleep for a few hours last night and had regretted it. He had gotten him other ability to sleep long pried of time and still feel tired. His eye had bags and his hair was a mess as he pulled bacon of the stone and placed it on one of the two plates he had before adding some more to stone to cook. At some point he was joined and he smiled as Kaze took a seat.
“Morning.” He said as he started cutting into a potato.
“Morning yourself. Lucien returned. “Sleep well?”
“Better then you it seems.” He laughed handing him a piece of cut off potato. Lucien rolled his eyes expecting the offering.
“A gift from my mother sadly.” He explained. “Dragon have a nasty tendency to go mad after a few hundred years. To help my mother prevent this they made her sleep for massive parts of her life but it seems her ability to sleep was passed on to me. Not as bad but still it makes getting up harder and staying away for an hour or so after word a pain.”
Kaze nodded as he looked over to Arora. “Will our lady have that problem in the future?” His voice was a bit concern. Lucien knew he couldn’t really answer that questions as I been on his mind as well. His only saving grace about it all was what she didn’t show much similar that he did when he was younger.
“To be honest I don’t know.” He said looking that was as well. “But I can tell she not like me so I would say no as she to kind hearted and care to much for other.” He said finshing the last of his cooking. Standing up he thanked Kaze for the company and moved to Arora and hander one of the two plates he cooked up. “Morning hope you slept well.”
Once everything was packed up and placed back into packs they got ready to move again. It was a slower pace as there new add on was a bit slower than the rest of them. No one could blame her as she had a heavy heart with the death of her village. It would still however take over half the day to reach the Eternal Stairway but once they arrived everyone let out heavy sigh. Nothing but stairs for as far as the eye could see going up along the mountain.
“Well this is going to be fun.” Lucien said.
“Sure, if you like torture and pain.” Valintine said her shoulder falling. “No chance you could just fly us over?”
“Sure maybe if it one or two of you but this this many even I can fly over this without trouble plus we have a horse and Pegasus and nether will able to fly or be carried.” Lucien explained.
“Didn't think so.” she sighed heavy. “O well let get started.”
The pace was slow as everyone had to take rest every mile or so to let these legs rest. Halfway up most people were worn out and they broke for a lunch. Taking almost an hour to rest their tired legs and body but by the time the sun was halfway to setting they could start to see the top.
“Almost there.” Azure said relief in her voice at the event almost being over. Suddenly a flash of light blinded everyone.
“Aaaa what the.” Gunther yelled as the white light cleared as two Faceless had somehow appaired in front of them. “It thought beast. Stand back Ill handle thing.”
“I’m with you.” Jakob yelled tossing three knifes at the second one as Gunther stabbed on in the chest only for both to fall to the ground. Witch was odd as the once in the village hadn’t gone down what easy.
“What in the name.” In a shimmer of light both faceless turned into human. A laughter could be heard above them. As a man with head piece and spell book looked down on them.
“Iago what is the meaning of this.” Gunther yelled as Sakura rushed to help the injured men. With no more than an laughter he vanished. As he did two more men rushed into view. “There they are! They're the ones that attacked our friends!” One yelled.
“Ah!” Lucien said not liking what he was seeing.
“You beat our friends black and blue—we won't let you get away with it!” The second mand yelled holding a club.
“I won't deny that we fought your friends. I'm very sorry for that. But it wasn't our intention to fight them! We bear no ill will toward the Wind Tribe.” Jakob said try to calm down the villagers
“Do you really expect us to believe that? You can't just beat people up and think that there will be no repercussions!” The first man yelled at them still very anger and coming closer.
I-I've never seen them so upset before... Arora, it doesn't seem like they'll be willing to listen to us at all. We should head to Reppu Castle.” Sakura said a bit nervise.
“Reppu Castle? Why there?” Lucien asked confused as he backed away with the other.
“I've heard that the chieftain of the Wind Tribe resides there. If we are able to convince him to help us, he may be able to calm the others.” She replyed standing up and turning to Arora only for Arzer to add in.
“She's right... And thankfully, it looks like the winds have calmed themselves for the moment. Normally the castle is protected behind powerful, biting gusts. Right now we may be able to reach it. However, there is no guarantee that the chieftain will listen, even if we make it. Do you still want to go?”
“Of course.” Arora nodded to Lucien,”Thank you. I’ll see you later.” It would be good to see that the dead were not left where they had been slain. It was a large task for one person, but she was sure Lucien could handle it, and it would be good to keep the group moving, and more importantly get Mozume away. Staying would probably just distress her.
Arora led the group away from the attacked village, and to her relief soon enough they were far enough away to not see it. They were making reasonably good progress, and she felt pretty satisfied with how far they had made it when they stopped to set up camp.
That was when Lucien finally caught up to them. She was glad to see him, and that it hadn’t delayed him any longer. He was in time to help set up and eat. Arora laid down to sleep at the same time as the others, but didn’t fall asleep right away. The burning village was still in her mind, and that Mozume was the only survivor. How many more villages like that would they see before they could force peace? Could they save more in the next one? She wasn’t sure, but the only way to end it was to find a way to end the [i real] reason for the fighting. Arora eventually drifted off to an uneasy sleep.
She looked week in the knee as she wiped her eyes listening to Arora. Her face red and heavy with the weight of what had happen however she listened to everything she said without interrupting. Once she was done she took a long look around at what use to be her home. It was gone everything and there was nothing she could do about it. “I guess.” She finally said. “There nothing left for me here but I plan to come back and rebuild once I get some money.” Her voice wasn’t fully into it but everyone could tell she was ready.
Lucien walked up to Arora and tapped her on the shoulder. “We should get moving it would be best for her not to stay here much longer.” he said looking down. “Grab everyone and head back to the path I will stay behind and take care of the body.” Mozume was led back to Subaki Pegasus were she ride as everyone walked away. Once everyone was gathered he picked up the body of the villager and moved them into a neat pile next to each other.
The faceless body had mostly disappeared into dust not leavening anything to get rid of. Lucky for him as he didn’t want to have to move such heavy body around just to burn. Once all body had been lined up and made to look as comfortable as possible he stood in the middle of them all and lowered his head.
“Grandmother Naga guide these souls to rest and let them know that the they death will be avenged. Don’t let these souls have any regrets as they pass on to you and your grace.” He said as his body glowed green and coved all the body's with a since breath they all lit into a greenly fire that would only burn for a few seconds until nothing remained of the body but ash. He didn’t know if Naga watched over people in other world but he still owed them at least some peace and not to rote away in some field.
Picking his head back up he transformed and head to catch back up to the rest of the group. By the time he did the sun was on it finally decent coving the sky in ornge light. He found everyone starting to set up a small camp for the night. Landing just at the edge he turned back into his human form. “Hope I'm not to late set up.” He said. Infact he wasn’t as he help set up tents for everyone but himself.
Mozume was the first to fall asleep as the day event had been hardest on her. However, everyone else was a bit slower but one by one each did until Lucien was left watching over the camp much on his mind after the event at the town. “How many?” he asked himself. How many villages were just like this attack for no point. Was It Nohr doing this or someone else. They had a very risen feeling to them but at the same time they didn’t. Plus, why would he warn him if it was him. He had no idea.
Arora looked glad to have found one survivor, but her face turned more somber on actually seeing the girl. She had survived, but she’d lost everything but her life. The village was gone, and likely everyone she knew.
Her heart broke hearing the girl talk about her mother. Arora was reminded of losing her own mother, and remained silent. A strangers comfort wouldn’t do much, they could just let her have a few moments.
Only once she was ready did any of them speak, which Arora figured was for the best. Everyone turned to her for an answer. Arora paused a moment before answering,”We’re here to try and bring a more peaceful end to this war. To make both sides listen. We;re coming this way to try and talk reason to those in Nohr. I’m Arora.”
She considered introducing herself as a princess of Nohr, but given how they thought she was a traitor at the moment it didn’t seem to fit. Likewise, those in Hoshido seemed to think of her as a traitor too, so being a princess of Hoshido also didn’t feel like it fit. Just Arora would work for now. She continued,”I know there’s a lot to take in, but if you’d like you could come with us for now. I won’t pressure you to join us or stay longer than you want, but I do want to make sure you’re alright.”
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