Dosia did not have much else to do but to wait till the weather out there get better. She was slowly dozing off in her seat when Abantes asked for permission to enter and Dosia almost jumped at the familiar voice she did not expect to hear in the frontline. Abantes came in with proud eyes but his smile fell when he saw Dosia's glare.
"What is the meaning of this? Didn't we clearly mention that you are only allowed to serve in back up?"
"But...they called for the talented and..."
"And what makes you a talented?"
"I...I am a fair skilled shapeshifter-!" Abantes clenched his fists barking at his nephew. Dosia suddenly stood after slamming down her palms on the table.
"Enough of this nonsense! This is not childplay! You are going back! Sorit, get some guards to escort him back."
Abantes' pride was hurt. "I am not going back! I have to do something in this war, Listen to me, please!" But the queen turned away, not having it. Abantes' pleading eyes went over to Sorit to help him convince Dosia.
Weasel poked out his head to look around the camp before jumping out and switching forms. The boy immediately hugged himself and shivered in cold. "S-sir...L-let's G-go to soldiers' tent..." He took Ryuu's arm and pulled him towards one of them which already had ten soldiers in, staying close to each other to stay warm. They immediately welcomed Ryuu and let him sit among them before handing the two hot tea. "Crazy weather, huh." One of them commented with a southern accent.
Johar kept staring before getting a hold of himself and awkwardly he looked away, bowing his head apologizing quietly. Confusrd but still suspicious, The minister came out. His narrowed eyes scanned around the area but he could not see anything but snow. Sighing in frustration, he went over to the captain to ask about Eric. Once he was told which tent Eric was staying in, He headed over and just walked in with firm steps. "Come out." He commanded, glaring down at the hybrid but not without a kick to his side. "You think you are allowed to rest? You are going to keep on going. Some snow will not slow you down."
Away from war, in noman' s land, the lady knocked before coming in. "Wake up young ones, you don't want to miss the great ceremony of a Phoenix' s birth!" She said in excitement before looking at the empty bed of Artemis. "Hm? Where is she?" She heard water running in the bathroom and blinked. " A bath, this early? She always struggled to get out of bed on time! So what..." Her eyes dropped on Joseph and something silly came to her mind. Immediately she blushed, holding in a giggle. "Oh, my my...I Get it now...Sorry~" She closed the door instantly, calling out before leaving in rush. "Just get ready and come to the great hall quick!"
Ryuu was still trailing at the back of the group, shivering in the snowfall and cold wind. He managed a smile when weasle hopped back to where he was and curled up around his collar. This gave him a bit of encouragement to ride up to where Abantes was as they reached the main camp. “Any idea what’s happening?” He asked, but no one had much of an idea to why the climate had suddenly changed. But that’s what they were hoping to get more insight on. He didn’t follow the nobleman to the tent Dosia was in, he instead looked for a place to keep himself warm since he knew the Queen wouldn’t want to see him there.
Sorit had stayed with her as the weather grew worse and worse, his unease growing with it. Upon her order to send out those who could attack in this kind of weather, he nodded and quickly passed the order along. When he returned, he did so with a spy’s report saying that the army Eric was with had stopped completely and probably wouldn’t be moving any time soon. “I’m sure the northern territories will make good progress for us to follow.” He said after telling her the spy’s report. “If the weather changes again, we may even get a chance to get past the border and invade the Light Nation.” It was a hopeful idea, it would be devastating to the Light’s forces if they could make that work. But they had to wait and see if Mother Nature would calm down enough to let it work.
At Johar’s bursting entrance into her tent, Valerie only favored him with a glance before turning back to the planning table in front of her. She’d dismissed the generals and captain and she was alone with only her thoughts. That was until her minister rushed in. “Why have you disturbed me, Johar?” She asked calmly over her shoulder. The Queen had a heavy fur cloak hanging from her shoulders and she’d changed into clothes with heavier fabrics, hiding away the dress that had been torn. Her hands were covered by gloves as she handled the cold wooden pieces for the planning board and her face was partially covered by a scarf, keeping her breath warm and hiding the small cut she had.
Valerie knew he could feel it, knew that her minister could feel what she’d done. But she didn’t let on that anything was wrong. She wouldn’t give him anything but that feeling to guess on. “If you haven’t anything to say then leave me. There isn’t time to waste on silence.” She said in an equally calm tone, not looking back to face her minister.
"Dear gods. How did it get so cold?" Abantes whispered as he shivered slightly through the chilly winds coming from Light nation. They still had not met the snow yet they were already surprised. Weasel jumped from horse to horse to reach Ryuu since he had less armor and a warmer outfit. The small cold furry creature tucked himself in the Summoner's collar trying to absorb his warmth. They stopped at the nearest training camp to find out what was happening and prepare for it. The camp didn't know much about the weather change neither and they were just ordered to stay back since the condition was not suitable for another attack. However, Abantes preferred to lead the group to the main camp in case the Light planned on surprising. So they did not rest and moved on, soon the snow blowing on them. A wizard performed a spell to heaten up their surroundings but it did very little.
After an hour, they saw the first guard wolves and barely saw the camp covered on snow and hidden in white. There, they had fresh news of the enemy also being held back by the sudden change of climate. This was a relief and they could change their plans with ease of mind. Dosia was still in one of the tents, warming herself with a blanket. She had wrapped the animal skin around herself, staring at the tent entrance.
This...was a blessing.
Eric was not going to reach the next camp before them.
"Sorit..." She called out and once he came, she ordered. "The wolf pack...and the northern neighbour can still fight in the snow. We should destroy as many camps as we can before the Demon reaches us."
Johar's army were moving towards east, where they could directly attack Deloriak pierce through its capital heart. They had noticed the temperature dropping but were still too far from the borders. The minister saw Bird landing down close to them before making her way through the marching soldiers to her master. She whispered the border's disaster and his eyes narrowed before turning to one of the generals and telling him to be in charge while he goes to meet the queen. Johar rode off before finding a covered spot to turn into his monster form and then flew off fast.
After half an hour he was there. Landing with a safe distance, he immediately changed back to his human form and frowned as his legs dug through the snow. Making some effort, he rushed to the location the army was stalling, heading right to the queen's tent. But...he felt...something...so nostalgic from a far far past...The minister froze in his place realising the it was radiating from Valerie's tent. Alarmed, he charged in knocking the shocked guards out of the way to protect his queen from the possible vampire with her. He entered in an offensive position, hissing and looking around. His aggressive gaze dropped on Valrie who was alone and was the source of..Was it a mistake?
"M-my queen..." He stared at her in disblief. "Why...this..."
Valerie broke their stare when the vampire took her hand, turning it so he could slice her palm. When he set his blade's edge down across her hand, her fingers curled up slightly, like she was going to grab the blade and cut herself. But she didn’t. She paused a moment before nodding and saying,
“I am.” The Queen openly winced as he sliced her hand quickly. She took her hand back after that as he let go of her completely. The force that had been used against her lessened and she was able to slowly stand, even against the little witches curse. Looking away from the vampire, Valerie turned and walked, calmly, to her steed. Upon reaching her mount, she looked back and asked, “What is your name?” There was a quieter breeze and the snow fall had lessened.
“...” She was quiet after receiving his name, and slowly, calmly without hesitation, Valerie turned her steed away and trotted out of the grove.
Once they were out of her sight, but she was sure she wasn’t out of their sight, The Queen dug her heels into her steed’s sides, making her way back in a quick gallop to the ruined camp. Her soldiers and guards had noticed her absences and were in a panic because of it. When she rode up, her soldiers and guards immediately went to her, relieved that she was alright.
“My Queen, where were you?” One managed to ask,
“That’s unimportant.” Was her response. “Have everyone ready to move, we’ll be leaving soon.” She ordered and stayed as her reluctant guards and soldiers obeyed her command. Looking back over her shoulder, she gazed back in the direction she’d come from but she couldn’t see the grove across the fields that were now being coated in snow. The cold wind howled around them and remembering the rip in her dress, Valerie retrieved a traveling cloak and wrapped it around herself, pulling the hood up and stealing another look back. She could also see that no one had followed her and after a few minutes, her escort departed with the soldiers that had been left behind.
Slowly as they advanced the wind and blowing snow grew more and more intense, so much so that it seemed like they were in the midsts of a freak snow storm. Eventually, after slower travel, they met back with the army that had stopped again and set up to wait out the snow storm. They didn’t know how long the storm was going to last, but Valerie had a bit of an idea to what they should expect. Making their way to a tent where the captain and generals were discussing what to do again, the Queen entered and dropped her hood, not waiting for them to formally greet her.
“Mother nature is distraught.” She commented, walking over to where the planning table was set up. Neither side would be able to more or attack easily with how the weather was, but it gave them some time, time to stall and to plan. Along with time for herself to think back over the blood contract she had just made. Her sliced hand curled into a fist and no one mentioned the slight cut on her cheek, but she hadn’t stayed to smooth out details.
How would he contact her? Would she just be left waiting or would he find her again?
It was so strange, so risky, but what is a life well lived without risk?
Theodore stared at her with unreadable eyes before his hands gently slipped down. "Go but...you should also do something on my own terms." He took her hand and turned it to reveal her palm. "Are you willing to make a blood contract that you will be back to me?" He firmly said, setting his blade on her hand to make a swift cut in case she agreed. "If you break the promise, your blood will be cursed." The vampire made another deep breath, Valerie radiating a tempting smell. His eyes never left her and they were not any less dangerous than before but even more excited and threatening. She just made his thirst grow by offering herself.
Artemis felt weak and helpless, clinging to anything to make up for what she had done. She sobbed silently shaking her face with silent pleads as he refused to do as she begged him to and she lost her color as she realised Giving herself was not simply death.
She was going to suffer more.
She was confused and frightened of what he meant but could not even ask because she was even more afraid of the answer. Slowly she stood by his gesture and
tried to keep her shaky legs up. His tail flicked around her and she held her breath, her form so small and defeated in his presence as he barely explained what was going to happen to her. Tear up lives?
His wings shadowed over her and she wished it was death but the chances were thing. "What..." It was not her usual tone, it was more a demon whimpering in defeat. "What...are you d-doing?"
Now she wished she had her armor on sonar least she could feel so vulnerable. She turned her head away from Karim to give one last gaze to Joseph's bed, at least he was going to be left alone.
Valerie closed her eyes as he wiped a finger over the cut on her face, and she looked back at him, her eyes no longer looking as light and bright as they had before. “What do I seek? You ask?” She questioned and chuckled softly. “What I [i want] is to be free from harm and to be able to leave this place with my life. But what I [i seek…?]” She trailed off and slowly, calmly smiled back at him, so slight and so deceiving.
“I seek nothing of you or of the Dark, nor do I seek anything of the Light that shelters me. What I seek, I have yet to obtain, and you are right that isn’t something so simple that this material universe can offer.” She sighed softly, bringing one hand up to rest on his own that still held her by her shoulder. “There is such a thing as giving out of kindness and with the life I've led, I know very well what that has gotten me. I also know how much it can take, time for the most part. It has taken years from me but… That was what I had to lose to gain what I wanted.”
She steadied her sights, setting them back onto the Vampire who was still before her and whose attention she still had. “What I am offering you, it is not out of kindness. I know what kind of creature you are and I know you will accept nothing less than what I would selflessly give. Now tell me, will you accept my trade and let me leave on my own terms or will you keep me here for reasons not yet spoken?”
Karim looked down on Artemis as she dropped to her knees to beg and he let her, watching as her composure cracked enough to let her cry in front of him. But that didn’t matter much.
“[b My, what a tempting plead, especially since you know first hand how greedy I can be.]” He hissed out the words in a soft tone and knelt, still looming over her but now he was closer to her face. “[b But I cannot take both. I take your heart and yourself won’t be as sweet. I take you and your heart will be ruined. Hmm…]” The All Demon brushed one clawed hand against her cheek and he cradled the side of her face gently. He met her tearful gaze with a cool expression and he spoke in a low rumble.
“[b I will tell you what will happen after Eric’s time as a weapon is done. He will not suffer by my hand but he will remember all that happened. His Will, will become his own again and as for Joseph. I will let him be. Not because you’ve asked but because he hasn’t anything other than his life to give. Taking his life will not help me. Neither of them will suffer anymore than you will.]” His voice was so calming, but it held a dire undertone as his mind returned to what she said she’d give him.
“[b Now, you are what I will take, not your heart, because you won’t ever heal if I just take your heart… [i Artemis?]]” He cooed, standing back up and letting his hand slip away from her face. “[b Do you remember what you said about me before I sent you here to this ridge? Remember when you said I was just as desperate as Lilith was, well, I am going to prove you wrong. You see, I don’t need a heir. But… It is quite entertaining, ripping apart lives….]” He chuckled darkly, making a motion for her to stand as his tail flicked around her and his shadow melted with hers. His wings opened again and his gleaming eyes pierced into her. Karim had already made his decision.
“[i [b Let me show you how I do it.]]”
[b Her entire immortal life for his undying hunger and hid very own satisfaction.]
Theodore could not help but suddenly shiver, his breathing becoming uneven from the price she was offering. To claim something as his...The vampire closed his eyes trying to calm his crazed mind as she almost lovingly touched his scarred face with her soft skin. His fangs were on her veins, ready to take her blood and taste it for the first time. Everything was being offered to him,...yet,
Theodore pulled away and placed his hands on her shoulders to turn her completely to face him. Bloodlust was waving in those eyes as he whispered,
"What is it that you seek? You surely what does it mean to offer yourself to a vampire. Say, what is the immortal queen looking for? I doubt if it is protection or even a simple spying." His finger gently brushed the blood off her face yet he did not taste it since he knew he would not be able to think straight after that. Angry huffs of the Succubus and the amused whispers of the twins did not reach his ears as he just stared into the eyes of the might queen in his grasp.
Artemis held her head at those hefty prices. They all were unfair and the last one caught her off guard. She felt dizzy and trapped, not feeling the strength to argue him. What to do...what to give up...what she will miss the least...She leaned against the wall.
Sight? A dark world...then how could she fight?
Will? Never. She did not trust him.
Strength? That was frightening.
Time? What if it was her happiest moment to be?
Herself? What did that even mean?! Was it a kind of suicide?!
All those choices rang in her head and she finally sat down, shutting her eyes tightly. She had to end it now! Just get rid of him! Choose one already! Suddenly she remembered the current ongoing disasters...The war, Eric, Her eyes dropped on Joseph again. He was troubled because of his brother and his brother had to put him in troubles because of Karim...
"W-wait...I...I got it." She shakily said, afraid of her own words but she wanted to...make things slightly better because...
It was all her fault.
She brought back Karim for her own desires. Even Eric warned him, she even tried abusing Joseph when he was injured for the stupid circle...
All her fault.
This war, Eric, Joseph...
And here she was wishing for a stupid romance? She was nothing better than even the cruel minister. She was twisted in mind, She kept blaming others, blaming Eric. Oh how he kept telling her to stop!
Artemis did not deserve anything.
Muerte did not need a fool princess like her.
Joseph did not deserve to kiss a low demon like her.
None of the worlds wanted her.
"I...I...will give [b two]." She slowly stood, clenching her fists as still she kept looking away.
"Only if...it is not a deal...I am begging you." The once proud princess suddenly dropped on her knees and grabbed on his clothing in a humble manner. "Please...please if...if you are not going to let go of Eric, when you...wheb you are done with what you want, make him forget. Make him forget what he did and don't make him suffer. Please let Joseph be. Let the brothers live in peace...And...and I give you my heart...and myself. Take them whenever and however your like but please...I don't want them to suffer from my mistake." Tears dropped down on floor before she hold them.
There was a rip, a tear in her dress, and Valerie stared as his blade tore down through her sleeve after carelessly slicing a small cut into her cheek. She didn’t respond when he asked if she had anything to tell or give up and she turned at his touch, turning towards him. Whatever curse or power that was suppose to hold her down didn’t stop her from moving and she gripped the vampire’s arms as his lips touched her skin.
“I said you would get nothing from me come any harm.” She reminded in a quiet whisper, holding onto him with a relatively tight grip. “But I am willing to make a trade.” She bowed her head, leaning close to him but not letting his teeth near the side of her neck as she whispered. “My blood for your words, my [i life] for your hunger and [i satisfaction.]” She paused and slowly lifted her head, giving him the opportunity to bite her.
“I can assure you that your bite won’t kill me, I have plenty to share.” She leaned even closer to him as she said this and brushed her cheek against the scarred side of his face. This gesture was almost loving and she could feel his cool breath on her neck, his sharp teeth grazing over her skin.
“An answer will suffice.” The Queen whispered, waiting for him to act or respond.
Karim caught sight of the faint blush as Artemis looked away from him, considering before making her decision and pushing his wings away. He sighed, folding his wings away from her and stepping back, looking unamused again.
“[b Fine. What other suggestions do I have?]” He asked almost to himself be speaking to Artemis again. “[b Then how about your will? Your strength? Not the kind I took from Eric but… The other one. Hmm?]” He gave her a moment to think before giving her more options.
“[b Or maybe one of your senses, like your sight. One of the ways you experience this world and your own in. Or perhaps some of your time... A few months or maybe even a year? Or maybe even… Even yourself?]” He didn’t elaborate on this last suggestion, he just eyed her, giving Artemis another moment to think and respond.
Theodore did not seem to see her any different from his other victims but if anyone knew him enough, they could recognize that his movements were slow and careful around her. His eyes were set on her, not letting a move to slip. She knelt on her own will and after reminding them her immortality and then surprisingly suggested negotiation. The Duchess rolled her eyes. "This little old bitch talks too much. Let's just stab her for fun and rip off that face to reveal her rotten flesh!" She spat, hating any other beautiful ladies especially Light types. The twins were already whispering to each other and giggling quietly like Valerie had said something funny. Theodore took his time approaching Valerie from behind then stood, humming thoughtfully. "Civil." He repeated softly before his blade touched the side of her face, the cold metal caressing her skin. "You have learned well to talk like civillian through your endless years but it is pathetic you could not even stop a war. You could not even protect your borders from Dark. Hmmm...What could I possibly need from an immortal queen? Queen...does it make any difference for me? You are just another blood vessel and I do not care if you get to live after being drained or not. I can't even say if your immortality makes your blood any better..." The blade make a small wound on her cheek, drawing out a little blood. Theodore sniffed the air and smelt her blood.
"You still can talk on your knees. Is there anything you wish to tell? Wish to give up?" The blade slowly moved down to her collar and tore the fabric. "I doubt it. You have all the time to waste..." The blade tore through the dress halfway before pulled away his weapon. "But I have very little patience for a mere Light."
Slowly he knelt as the scent of blood invited his over. An arm wrapped around her bare shoulder as his cold lips, colder than snow touched her shoulder and moved to her vein.
Artemis was slowly reached for the knob when the massive wing blocked her and she gasped, backing away from the All Demon as she kept staring up at him. She stopped her steps as he suggested taking her feelings. Trapped in a corner, she stared at him in pure confusion. This was not a price she expected. Why did he need such a thing? Was it even possible to hand over a part of your soul? The little Ba'al looked away, thinking about it. No more despair, disappointment or sorrow. She would become a great leader without them. Could easily rule over Muerte like her dear mother. When was the last time feelings did any good? Even her love for her mother was troublesome...Slowly she rose up her head, revealing a convinced expression before suddenly she caught the sight of sleeping Joseph over the approaching wings. Her eyes widened slightly.
He had feelings. He showed them with no fear and they...shared a wonderful kiss. Did she have to forget it all? The feeling of his lips touching hers...A faint hint of blush appeared on her face as she slowly shook her head. "N-no. I n-need M-my heart more...than you. What is your...other suggestion?" She tried to push away the wings which were going to envelope her.
Valerie didn’t react to the whispers around her but she was pulled from her thoughts as she heard the branch snap and the Succubus land in front of her. The twisted voices of the twins or the rambling of the man who was still hidden didn’t distract her either as she stood her ground. The only thing that made her weary was the familiar feeling, a feeling of something she recognized, one of her feathers. Slowly she knelt, not letting the force or magic pull her down, but sinking to her knees at her own accord and she heard one more voice from someone approaching her from behind.
Glancing over her shoulder, she looked up to see what had just called her ‘A fool.’ He was tall, taller than she was and she could see his light brown eyes were narrowed, scorning and the side of his face was burned and scarred. His wavy red hair was tied back loosely and it just accentuated his harsh expression. She could see his fangs as he drew closer and keeping her calm, she looked away, turning to look dully straight as she spoke back to the Vampire.
“I suppose you’re here to kill me?” She inquired, keeping her tone soft with the harshening wind and he expression blank under their watching and glaring eyes. “I might as well tell you that no sacred weapon, spells or curses, from now or forgotten, can kill an Immortal…” She paused and turned her head again, waiting and listening to hear if the Vampire would stop walking or move around to face her. “At least… Nothing you have with you will complete that feat. But perhaps you want something else?” She then said. “Let me up and we can discuss this civilly.” It almost sounded like she was pleading, but she wasn’t afraid. Valerie didn’t know exactly what this mixed group wanted but she didn’t think it was to kill her.
That would just be too easy.
“Need I say, if you bring any harm then you will get nothing from me.” She added in a lower voice, waiting to see what the Vampire’s next move would be, since he seemed to be the leader of this little group.
Karim raised an eyebrow at Artemis’ hissing and he leaned back slightly, crossing his arms. “[b You think so?]” He asked coyly as she spat that he still owed her. “[b Hmm, interesting you say that since I’ve never broken any of my promises to you.]” He said, slowly noticing her inching her way towards the door. Shifting over to the end of the bed that was closest to the door, he suddenly opened one of his wings and blocked her way, standing up to step in front of her as he continued talking. “[b That seems like another conversation for another time, dear Artemis. But back to what I was speaking of, how about I give you a few suggestions.]” He offered, “[b For instance, your heart. I would gladly take that as payment for this deal.]” He watched as her eyes widened and he sighed, elaborating on what he meant.
“[b No. I do not want your actually heart. I don’t want to kill you. What I mean is that part of your soul, the sentimental part, with all of your emotions. Your heart.]” He grinned a little and began stepping towards her, both of his wings now opened and curling around like clawed hands reaching for her. “[b You give that to me and you will never feel pain and never suffer. You’ll never feel sorrow or regret, you won’t ever feel envy or jealousy, and you’ll never be disappointed...]”
That sounded like a good offer. Never having to worry, never having to suffer.
It really sounded good, too good to be true.
The wind blew on the powerful queen harder and she could hear whispers in her ear.
[b Losing a feather...]
[b Breaking the vow...]
A branch broke above her head and she heard massive wings flapping before Duchess landed in front of her with a scowl. "You don't even have a pretty face." She had an armor...which well, really didn't protect her body. It only covered her three spots and her black cape danced with the wind but she looked unaffected by the cold.
"Let's play Aunt." The witch twins said in unison above the tree and their pupils widened as they started whispering curses and spells.
"Th-this c-crazy...! She...she...W-we should just ru-" A nervous male tone said from the bushes. He had a Chamlek accent but did not show up and reveal himself. A cold tone at last demanded.
A loud gulp came then silence. Suddenly a whistle came out sounding like steam and then Valerie felt a dangerously familiar feeling...A presence she always knew because...it was like hers. Some force was pushing her down to kneel and dark shadows of witches' curse also shot out from ground to do the same thing.
The force fighting against her was from her feather. Using alchemy, the group could use its pure power and even double it making it more effective than just a single feather.
"Even the nature is against you yet you insist on wandering here alone. You are just another fool to be forgotten in history." Theodore approached Valerie from behind a tree, his eyes set on her like a predator.
The captain finally shouted at the stunned soldiers to move on. He then glared at Eric, blaming him with no reason. "And you, faster! We don't have much time." They stepped against the wind which was becoming more and more aggressive since the powerful Light was near the Strong Dark.
Artemis heart fell in her chest when he reminded her about the deal. Damn she had forgotten it all. Gritting her teeth, She looked around the room but could not think of anything. "I...I..still don't know." She confessed before aggressively hissing at him, "And I don't think this is a good time to think about a stupid little deal! You are bringing chaos, enslaved your son and now you are here for your 'price'? You know what? I brought you here so you still owe me so much. Opening a portal is not a big deal!"She slowly stepped back towards the door...
Hearing that what had happened to the training camp and clearly being able to see the ruins and dead, Valerie sighed to herself before ordering that they’d stay till their dead was buried. It was the least they deserved, dying before even seeing a glimpse of battle. It was such a waste. She had her guards help the soldiers in counting and burying their dead, but quietly, ever so quietly, the Grey Queen slipped away from the ruined camp, away from her soldiers and guards.
She had her steed trot out till she couldn’t see the camp and was in a sparse but large grove of trees, just a few minutes rides from where the camp had been. She immediately noticed the chill in the air and with a slight look around she dismounted her steed, leaving it to graze as she walked a little ways away to think. She glanced up at the sight of snowflakes and with a heavy sigh, Valerie wrapped her arms around herself, watching her breath in the cold air.
“Are you that upset with us?” She asked out loud, to no one in particular. A cold wind blew through the grove and she could hear her steed stomping with discomfort at the change in temperature. The branches of the trees rustled together and the wind continued to blow, snow now steadily falling and coating the ground around her. There was no other sound than what was around her, but Valerie continued to listen, to wait and see if she’d be given a sign of any kind.
Sorit let Dosia step away to think and he couldn’t help but look after her, watching the entrance of the tent for her to come back. When she did with her order, Sorit agreed and immediately passed it along. When returning to Dosia’s side, he felt a cooler breeze and glanced up, noting the clouds in the sky. Something terribly wrong was happening, but he couldn’t tell what and it made him more inclined to stay with Dosia rather than leaving her alone with her regular guard.
As the temperature dropped and the weather began to change drastically, the Aarmy Eric was with had halted and the captain and generals were trying to decide what to do next. Most of the soldiers were spooked by this but Eric wasn’t bothered, he could hardly care less in the state he was in. He barely felt the biting wind as it howled around them and he didn’t notice the snow falling till it drifted across his gaze and he followed it down. It was snowing. Blinking, he looked up like so many of the other soldiers were doing but it seemed more like a chore than a wonder to try and figure out what was happening. So he let it be, looking away from the sky and standing off by himself, letting the wind pierce through his armor and blow the cold around him.
“[b Tsk, like I would be upset about that.]” He cooed in an arrogant tone. “[b No, I’m here to see if you’ve made a decision yet, since I’ve upheld my end of the deal and brought you back to this world.]” He followed her movement with his gleaming eyes and moved over to her bed as she circled away from him, sitting down with his wings rustling and his tail flicking. “[b I did say I would wait till you decide, but I won’t wait forever.]” He said, his gaze fixed on her and not faltering as she shifted back a little more.
The Grey Queen's escort arrived an hour later to the ruined training camp and the soldiers who had stayed there immediately ran to the confused guards, telling the impossible to them. The guards exchanged worried looks before one of them slowly moved to the center of guards where the queen was under their protection. Hesitantly he explained the situation. He also pointed out that there were odd bitemarks on the dead bodies. Two holes like fangs would make. It was quite easily to tell a vampire had done that but normally those unfaithful selfish creatures did not bother with war.
It was a warm season yet strangely it started becoming chilly. The soldiers soon started rubbing their arms and palms to get warm. They were more than surprised when it started snowing. Some even thought it was Eric's doing and stared at him but he didn't seem to be in control so they looked around wearily yo find the cause. Was it a witch? They could never guess Mother nature was becoming chaotic.
Dosia stared down at her hands and forced them to stop showing her anxiety. She glanced at Sorit who was trying to comfort her. It didn't help much but she appreciated it. The queen walked out of tent to get some fresh air and make a decision. Sorit was right. She had to wait for the perfect time...maybe Eric was about to betray them? She did not believe the hybrid would trully fight for anyone sincerely. "What we need...is information. Sorit, send the insect shifters and Bird ones to spy on the army Eric is moving with."
Ryuu and the few other ones were separated from the rest and Abantes took their lead despite the Captain's slight protests. The nobleman told him the back up needed protection and he was needed in case the enemy ambushed them. The shifter then ordered the small group to ride as fast as they can as they were heading to the front line.
They rode fast through the forests as they took shortcuts to get there as soon as possible.
Artemis was just drifting when she felt the familiar strong presence and she immediately opened her eyes and saw the blue flame before sitting up and stiffening at the hissing voice of Karim. Her eyes searched through the shadows nervously and she spotted his silhouette. "...Why, why you have come again?! Isn't something more interesting going on miles away?" She whispered, not wanting to wake Joseph up. She tried to glare hard at him before growling lowly. "Don't tell me you just mad Joseph is not in the prison you made anymore!" She smirked at him, Slowly getting up, eyes set on him.
Being woken by someone shouting at him, Eric gritted his teeth and opened his eyes, glaring towards the soldier that was demanding he get up, they were moving out soon. With a slow breath in and a heavy sigh out, he sat up, noting the soldier stepping back as he did and he didn’t say anything. Instead he reached for his armor and after being watched for a few moments, the soldier left him in peace. He finished cleaning his armor and once that was done, he left the tent, peering out and around at the camp. Other soldiers were already on their way out to leave and slowly, Eric slunk after them.
He’d be walking, like the rest of the soldiers, but as they walked he could still feel the nervous gazes and hushed whispers around him. Those who could kept their distance and those who had to walk near him, did so with a many steps between them. The fresh carnage from the Light guard didn’t bother most of the soldiers and Eric was no different, he didn’t even give the bodies a glance as they were passed. Eventually as the dusk led into the dark night, it became clear that they were stopping. And the reason was not good, at least for the Light it wasn’t.
One of the training back up camps had been destroyed, not one soldier left alive. Weapons had been stolen and the camp burned. It wasn’t good news for the Light, but it wasn’t the end of the war. The army lingered in the ruins of the camp before continuing on their march. A small patrol of soldiers would stay back to bury their dead, as well as meet the Queen’s guard and inform her of what had happened. The rest of the army however would continue onto the next strategic camp to make a stand in case there was another attack.
Sorit, who was also figuring what had happened and how it could be dealt with, turned to Dosia as she spoke. “There had been no reports from his special group. But where he first attacked is the same spot where the Light’s ‘Weapon’ arrived. I think we can say that wherever is attacked next is where the Light army will move to defend.” He could sense Dosia’s unease, even with her stone faced expression. “We can wait here.” He said to her quietly, “See if there’s a pattern at work and if the Light really is moving to chase after Theodore’s group.” He knew his words did little to ease her mind but it was always an option for them, he would just remind her of what options they had.
When word got back to the group heading to the backup camps, Ryuu listened as those with magical talent were told to get in a line. He wasn’t too eager to do this but the gesture from Abantes made him step forwards. There weren’t very many in the group he was traveling with, but that didn’t quite matter at the moment since they were working with what they got.
Joseph watched as Artemis looked away from him, still smiling before she gave him a little pat and suggested that they head back. He nodded to this and followed her to the water, slipping in after her and taking a deep breath before swimming out of the cave and to the shore. It had gotten windier since they’d first jumped into the water, but it was a relatively quick trip to retrieve their things and return to the academy dorms. Joseph went with Artemis to get something to eat but he was more tired as the night was winding down than anything else. After eating they returned to their room and Joseph sat down on his bed, stretching. He noticed Artemis doing the same and he gave her another smile, bowing his head in a way to say ‘good night’ and soon after, dosing the candles so they could go to sleep.
They were both going to be able to rest, but Artemis wasn’t going to be left in peace. Almost half an hour after the candles had been blown out, one of them relit with a small, low burning blue flame, that danced and flickered, casting shadows around the room. One shadow seemed to come to life and a voice hissed to Artemis. “[b I see you’re enjoying yourselves.]” Came Karim’s hissing, amused voice and his shadowy form leaned back, leering down at her.
Eric was woken up by one soldier shouting at him to move out. He had not dared to step any closer yet his tone was still demanding like Eric was nothing but a war slave. As the queen had commanded, the soldiers were moving to other locations of borders where the Dark were trying to invade. On their way, they passed some blood stained lands where the Light guards had massacred the Deloriak immigrants who were suspected to be spies. Dead bodies of men, women and even a few youngsters were left there to be eaten by worms and birds. The stench did not bother the passing army, instead it gave them even more confidence and bloodthirst to slaughter each single enemy they were going to confront.
On the other side of the border Dosia arrived. She was dressed in armor and an owl shaped helmet as she rode on her brown horse by Sorit's side. She was there to hear about victory but seeing the sorrowful and worried faces of the soldiers, she immediately realised the gods had not blessed them. The few survivors had reached the camp hours ago and their story had just decreased the soldiers' spirit. Dosia silently went into the replaced Captain's tent and with a stone face listened as she was told about the Demon who fought for the Light.
Dosia felt her hands shaking. This cursed fallen prince insisted on destroying her and her nation. She gave a heavy sigh before rubbing her temples. They were not going to give up just now. There still many opportunities for them to make a hole in their defense. Maybe they should just attack the places where Eric was not fighting there? They could not escape the Demon forever...She suddenly turned to Sorit. "Theodore...do you know where his location is? I believe I have not received any report from him yet."
The army reached a back up camp where they could get some food and supplies but...
"What...what the hell has happened heard?" Decapitated, drained blood of soldiers were everywhere. The Light were confused and scared. Who had been able to just get into their back up camp?! They ran to see if their supplies were safe but the weapons were gone and the food was burnt down. Nobody...nobody had survived. It didn't look like a whole army had attacked but just a few ones...A few deadly races. The special group of Theodore.
"I heard awful things about you, to be honest. But what I see now, is a gentleman with a warrior heart." The nobleman praised him before making his horse go faster and got to the front at his spot.
On their way the hopeful villagers and farmers gave them food and blessings. They all were clearly starving yet they wanted to share their small meal with them to take part in the war that was going to save them all. After hours they decided to rest beside a river and wait for more messages from frontline. As arranged, a messanger small bird arrived and once the captain read the letter, his face lost color. They had a deadly weapon...they had lost the second battle. So they had to get everyone's help. Especially the talented ones. Soon he called for the ones with any sort of magic to get in line. Abantes turned to look at Ryuu and gestured for him to step forward.
It was so warm and pleasing as he kissed back and she felt the fireworks in her heart as he pulled her closer. Her eyes were halfway closed as he broke the kiss and gently laughed. Artemis felt her body burning as she noticed his blush. He...also had feelings for her. How satisfying and what a relief. The Ba'al smiled a bit shyly as looking away. What now?...Myabe it was time for them to get out of the cave. It had strange affects on her mind and heart. She patted his back softly before standing. "L-let' s go back..I'm starving."
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