Picking Up the Pieces
Darrel Mytura, Southern Woods Region, Day One
As the others approached the towering green Zora, Darrel took the last few moments to double check their surroundings, searching for signs of the creature who called himself Morton, for the treant who had silently acted to provide Ithan Chiaria with a tranquil resting place, and for any signs that other eyes might be on them.
His head was still spinning, trying to take hold of the implications of what he'd seen inside the laboratory. Matters in Hyrule, matters he'd thought had begun to stabilize, were rapidly growing beyond his capacity to control them. New players, new entities were descending upon the land as factions shifted and multiplied. The layers of agendas, manipulations, and deceits had grown to think to peel all the way through. There was more at work in the land than simply a war for survival, and that was, to him, perhaps the most remarkable development of all. But for Darrel, for now, the war was his sole focus. He could afford to contemplate nothing else, not even the one agenda he'd held close to his own heart for four hundred years.
He cleared his throat as he approached the cluster.
"Friend Zora. Jeskai, was it?" At the nod, he went on, "We will be happy to have you join us for the trek back to our camp, and I'm sure we all look forward to hearing your tale. However, I have other important questions as well. I would know your attitude toward the war that is unfolding across the realm. The way things are going, and with what we have planned next, we could use all of the manpower we can get." He turned to Ayala, who until now Darrel had not seen in months, and gave a respectful inclination of the head. "Ayala Ma, I wish we could be meeting under better circumstances, but those seem to be in short supply these days. Will you be joining us? We could use a warrior of your strength and experience for what is about to happen."
Hidden Encampment (Southern Woods Region), Late Afternoon One
He'd barely passed the outermost ring of stakes, the loose boundary outlining the span of their hidden warcamp, when Edge called his name. There was a borderline frantic note to the address, and the marine came sprinting from his tent, past the pickets, and skidded to a halt just before the Sunrise Knight with his hands on his knees.
"You have something to report, Edge?" The marine straightened with his arms behind his head. He took a few deep breaths, allowing Darrel a moment to see the scrapes and bruises from a struggle marring one side of his face. "What happened? Twili?"
The marine, slowly gaining back a measure of composure, shook his head.
"It's Horus, sir. He just... He just lost it, sir. It was like he didn't even recognize us, or know where he was. He went mad and started fighting us. Took all of us to restrain him, and as you can see, it wasn't without taking a few lumps in the process."
However much the new allies he'd gained had buoyed his hopes, this news undid it all. His features went slack. It was true that Horus had, on occasion of late, acted erratically, but nothing he'd seen had indicated that something this severe might be coming. If they lost Horus now, on the eve of a massive operation that would require all of their meager forces, it would make success that much more difficult to attain.
"It's alright, Edge," he said, feeling beneath the surface that it was anything but, "just take me to him."
Horus, Black Ops Camp, Day One
"I should have said something before...Should've mention it..." He gravely grumbled to himself ad nauseam, wishing the day would turn to night so he could take the advantage of everyone being asleep to escape his current situation.
Knowing that his allies' men would surely brief them on what had happened in their absence, Horus very much preferred to not have to speak to anyone or be seen, at least until everything had settled down. He stared down at the ground solemnly, using his wind powers to get a feel for the knot that had been used for the rope that binded him; He hoped he could possibly undo the knot with persistent gusts so he could make his move the moment the knot gave way...At least, that course of action sounded like it made sense in his current state.
This amazing master plan of his was dashed utterly as he heard footsteps coming his way. His keen sense of smell allowed him to know who it was even though he was looking to the earth; It was Darrel, much to Horus' great dismay. He closed his eyes, trying to pretend he was sleeping; He knew it wasn't going to work, but it was how badly he didn't want the following conversation to happen.
Jeskai, Late Afternoon 1, En Route to Camp
"Friend Zora. Jeskai, was it?" At the nod, he went on, "We will be happy to have you join us for the trek back to our camp, and I'm sure we all look forward to hearing your tale. However, I have other important questions as well. I would know your attitude toward the war that is unfolding across the realm. The way things are going, and with what we have planned next, we could use all of the manpower we can get." He turned to Ayala. "Ayala Ma, I wish we could be meeting under better circumstances, but those seem to be in short supply these days. Will you be joining us? We could use a warrior of your strength and experience for what is about to happen."
Jeskai chose to answer first.
“The war on Hyrule is a poison to the many people who do not deserve the destruction and division of their homes. The Twili are invaders that must be stopped. That much is clear even from my corner of the world. News travels, and on top of that, my entire clan has been trained to a degree for this very conflict. So, I offer my services to you in defense of the land and it’s inhabitants.
There is a deeper level of detail to my presence in Hyrule. I believe that Twili forces have captured one of my kin, Efran. The exact reason is unclear, but it likely has to do with his natural abilities. You see, my people are bred to be manipulators of telekinetic energy. Our telekinesis is compatible with mostly only the element of water, though we have some mild telekinetic ability over non elemental objects as well. Efran is one of the most powerful individuals, and shows mastery of aquatic and telekinetic at his peak. We refer to ourselves as Aquanetics based on how our powers work. Efran would probably be better described as a true Telekinetic and a vessel for enhancing any elemental power.
So, as you can see from my story, the Twili now pose a threat to me personally, and if they succeed in manipulating Efran, that threat grows to encompass all of Hyrule. And for that reason I repeat, that you have my full allegiance and support in your efforts against the Twili Army."
Darrel Mytura, Hidden Encampment (Southern Woods Region), Late Afternoon One
Letting Edge lead him back through the camp, Darrel soon found himself standing before the tree to which Horus was bound, battered and limp.
"You guys couldn't have gone any easier on him?" He asked, staring at the young man as a cold, bitter disappointment roiled in his gut, a disappointment that twisted his innards into knots and filled him with the certainty that he'd failed yet again. He'd missed something. He always missed something, and it was never he himself who bore the brunt of it.
"No, sir," Edge replied. He sounded as though he truly regretted it. He reached up and raked fingers through his long, messy brown hair. "It was all we could do just to get him to the tree. Little guy meant serious business. I'm not sure anyone but you could have done this any more peacefully."
"Then perhaps I should have been here to deal with it myself," Darrel replied. He bent closer, examining more carefully. "Is he awake?"
"I don't think so, sir."
He backed up a step, drew a deep breath and exhaled. He needed to stifle his misery and deal with this now.
"Wake him, then." He turned to look back over his shoulder toward the newcomers. "Jeskai! You claim to have some telepathic abilities. Would you mind taking a moment to examine our mutual friend here?"
Jeskai, Hidden Forest Camp, Late Afternoon 1
"Wake him, then." Darrel turned to look back over his shoulder toward the newcomers. "Jeskai! You claim to have some telepathic abilities. Would you mind taking a moment to examine our mutual friend here?"
Jeskai looked upon him. A creature in this sort of state wasn’t necessarily a reliable one.
“His name?” Jeskai asked.
“Horus." Darrel replied. Jeskai knelt down in front of Horus. “Horus, I am a telepath from another land. You have not met me before. I am speaking to you now, but in a moment these words will no longer be heard outside of our minds.” Jeskai was nervous, not knowing exactly what afflicted Horus. Even linking with him for a few seconds was risky. Briefly, Jeskai thought of declining, saying that without his clan members, it wasn’t safe. But those thoughts passed, leaving him only with a sense of empathy for another struggling creature.
Jeskai placed a hand upon Horus’ forehead, and fell into a telepathic trancelink instantly.
He was in Horus’ mind now. The mental landscape took form, though remained in a dreamlike state, hazy at the edges, with some elements difficult or impossible to observe directly. Specifically faces, Jeskai couldn’t identify faces. Not that he didn’t recognize the faces, but could not tell that they were faces due to his inability to focus on them.
Jeskai waited a moment, and then realized these faces were not part of Horus’ mind. He knew what a telepathic link, a hivemind, looked like. Something else had a grip on Horus. Jeskai felt fear. Real fear. He needed the rest of the Kondoru clan to strengthen him if he was to go much deeper.
He looked for something, anything, that seemed like it was truly a part of Horus, and not a part of whatever he was afflicted with. Then he saw Horus, tied to the tree. Jeskai wasn’t sure if this was Horus’ mental projection, or his own, but whatever it was, it was staring back at Jeskai.
“I don’t. You. Stranger. Trapped. Wanted to escape. Trapped. I don’t you. I don’t know. ...know you.” The words of this mental projection of Horus cut into Jeskai deeply, this creature was suffering. Horus also was not a natural telepath. He was trying his hardest to communicate, and miraculously, was succeeding to a degree. Jeskai pondered how he could possibly be communicating mentally, unless he had been trapped in this hive for a while. Enough time to observe and learn how to shout back at all the voices.
Jeskai began to grow anxious. The hivemind knew he was here. They recognized something about him, but only the fringes seemed to notice. Shadows began to reposition, slightly closely, aimed towards him. He extended his hands, and silver strands snaked outwards. They bound themselves around Horus, and then pulled hard, dragging him away from the tree, the mental version of it at least. To outside observers, Jeskai was still kneeling before an unconscious Horus.
“Horus.” Jeskai again tried to communicate with him. His mental representation was standing up, looking slightly more certain. “You don’t know me yet, but I’m ...well I’m the doctor, I suppose. I’m going to give you some medicine. I’ve already started giving it. The voices - the hive, whatever it is, I can’t separate you from it, not alone. But I can keep it quiet, and give your mind back to you. As long as we remain near one another, you will be protected.” Jeskai pulled himself out of Horus’ mindscape, leaving enough of his presence to muffle the hivemind link, hopefully giving Horus the ability to stabilize.
Horus, Hidden Encampment, Day One
Horus blinked several times, his vision somewhat failing him as the strange magic Jeskai had placed upon him went to work. As if he had been given a flashlight to see in the dark, his mind's eye could see just a bit more than before as the metaphorical storm seemed to not clear, but rather calm. The blood on ground was now recognizably mud, the flesh of his allies were Hylian, and the poison was just a cold sweat from stress. He looked up at the telepathically gifted man who still stood in front of him, his eyes slightly misty. Every fiber of his being wanted to hug Jeskai, but being tied to a tree, he could only do what came to mind next.
"Th-thank you..." he uttered at a volume only Jeskai could hear as he leaned his head up against the tree, looking at the skies.
He felt like he could breathe again for the first time in months, but he could feel in his bones that it wouldn't last. His headache was gone despite his nasty black eye from a well deserved punch, allowing him to think again. He looked up at Darrel, hoping dearly he could shift the conversation before explanations became a immediate necessity.
"So...What was the noise about, guys?"
Treant, Southern Forest, Day One
Its eyes snapped open as it looked to the general direction of the lake. Something smelled...wrong. The air of the earth had suddenly adopted a sense of familiarity; Something the Treant disliked powerfully. It prayed it was wrong in its assumptions as to why as it rose to its feet, clutching its companion dearly.
Darrel Mytura, Hidden Encampment (Southern Woods Region), Late Afternoon One
"So...What was the noise about, guys?"
In what had become a truly rare display of late, Darrel allowed himself a genuine smile. No, not exactly a smile, but a grin, one of relief followed by a wave of joy. Too many times the rigors of war had ravaged the people under his command, leaving them broken in body, mind, spirit, or all three. Too many times he persevered when those who served with him fell and were shattered. To see that Horus was okay for now, one of only two men who'd stood at his side when he faced down Lord Grem in the catacombs beneath the desert, meant that his soul was to be afforded a short reprieve from the bite of his centuries old curse.
He reached down and cuffed Horus lightly on the shoulder, still grinning.
"Nothing you need concern yourself with, Horus," he replied at last. "Something crashed into the forest further south. I don't fully grasp its import yet myself, but it's of little importance to us at the moment. We have work to do yet."
Straightening at last, suppressing the many questions he yearned to ask because it was plain that Horus had no wish yet to answer them, he drew Morning's Edge and with one swift, true swing he sliced the ropes binding his half-avian comrade to the trunk of the undead elm. With his other hand, he reached down and hauled Horus to his feet. As the young man stood rubbing at the spots where the coarse rope had dug into his skin, Darrel turned his grin, now one of gratitude, on the Zora, Jeskai.
"Thank you, Jeskai. I've no telepathic sensitivity at all, so I'm not sure if I'd have been able to do anything for Horus here if not for your timely appearance. If that isn't as good a reason as any to welcome you into the fold here, then I'm sure I'll come up with another one in due time."
And just like that, one crisis was averted that the other might loom large once more. As was ever the case in such times of strife, Darrel's brief moment of joy, the allayment of his burdens, proved all too temporary. Returning his blade to its sheath, he clasped his arms against the small of his back, feeling the thick chains on his wrists press into the links of his hauberk, and paced a few steps back toward the rest of their group. Behind the newcomers and his old compatriots, Jaden's Sheikah and the soldiers of the Knight's Sword had formed up and waited expectantly.
"Alright everyone, it's time to strike camp and move out. Thanks to Sheikah Sentinel Jaden Bryseis' interrogation skills, we have the position of a Twili staging area in the southeast corner of the desert, very close to the mouth of one of the passes that will allow the Twili army to move into the Lake Hylia region. From there, if we can't stop them, they'll have a free path into the very gut of Hyrule." Darrel drew and released a quick breath. Their force was far too small for open engagement without the support of whatever standing army Hyrule had left. He didn't know the newcomers well enough to speak for their abilities, but even with their additions the operation would need to be precise. Still, the aggressor made the rules. "Once we break camp, we're going to need to make a fast push through into the desert, where we'll regroup just inside the entrance to a Great Fairy fountain we've been using as a secret base and supply cache.
"Once we have the dark of night on our side, we're going to hit the staging area with as much force as we possess. It's not an ideal situation by any reckoning, but the Twili cannot be allowed a free path into the heartlands of the realm." His gaze went from face to face, measuring, his grin gone now and replaced by an expression graven as though from stone. "Any questions?"
Henreth Tammas, Hidden Encampment (Southern Woods Region), Late Afternoon One
After being joined by a woman who introduced herself as Ayala and a Zora named Jeskai that claimed to be telepathic, the group made their way to the hidden encampment. Darrel broke off from the group to examine a man tied to a tree. After a moment. he called Jeskai over to examine the man as well. Henreth took this time to take in his surroundings. The camp wasn't much to comment on, just seeming to be a large collection of tents that varied in size. After waiting a few moments for someone to come forward with a plan, Darrel came back after releasing the restrained man.
He relayed the plan to the rest of the group, his face growing more serious as he went on. After taking a moment to look at everyone he asked "Any questions?"
Henreth waited a moment for the others to speak up with any questions When none seem to come, he spoke up. "Forgive my asking, but is the only reason we're attacking the Twili base to prevent passage to the rest of the country, or are we accomplishing something else in the process as well?"
Jaden Bryseis, Hidden Encampment, Late Afternoon 1
Darrel had brought a perfect introduction to the camp's newcomers. And he revealed just enough of the plan to sate the appetites of those present. Jaden really liked these additions to their party. Sure, he'd developed a strong bond with Darrel. And he was grateful to learn under him. His legend was growing among the living, breathing, walking history. But he wasn't letting it go to his head yet.
Then the newest of their group asked a question in his archaic dialect. Jaden understood it well enough, but whether it was thousands of years ago or the present day, FNGs were FNGs. With a green apple in his left hand, and a flask in his right, he provided a different insight.
"Well, let's see here. Stopping foreign invaders from invading is pretty straightforward, eh? But there are many other things of value that we need. Think about it. We're reeling hard after six months of Twili victory after Twili victory. We need a win, and this one is as close as we know of to a real crippler of an op. Plus, all that juicy intel? People like me and my Unit Zero live for knowing things no one else does. And last, but not least, provisions. We take what we can carry out of there and use it to further our war effort. The death of a thousand tiny cuts is about to turn into an arterial laceration if this op succeeds. This is where everyone comes in together. Trust me, we're giddy as little schoolgirls that you all showed up."
Taking a few bites of his apple, Jaden paced back and forth. Unit Zero worked its way into the outskirts of where everyone was meeting. He took a quaff of one of his flasks and let out a sigh, grinning at the sight of his elite Sheikah clandestine death squad.
"When we get close, my crew and I will be the advance force. Darrel here loves this part when it works. We will surgically excise the officers in the unit, leaving them disorganized and ready to be completely obliterated. General Mytura will then unleash hell upon the survivors, as will the rest of you. Leave none alive. We can't afford to take prisoners right now. Hope that answers your question about importance, Tammas."
Continuing to work on his flask, he walked over to Horus and patted him on the back.
"We missed you, buddy. Welcome back."
Ayala, Hidden Encampment, Afternoon 1
Ayala sat patiently though the briefing Darrel and Jaden were giving on their planned assault, though she was barely paying attention to it. It wasn’t from a lack of interest but instead she was far too distracted on what she’d just witness Jeskai do for Horus. She knew her mother and brother had been trying for months to cure Misha of a mental affliction brought on by her twili imprisonment but had show no signs of success. She had to find out how he’d done it.
She waited anxiously through the discussion meeting not wanting to distracted the Zora whom she was sure was much more concerned with the mission details then she was. However the second it was over she sent him a message telepathically, “<Please, I need to know how you helped bird guy. There’s another person I know how suffered a similar fate to him that we haven’t been able to cure. I need to know if there’s anything we can do for her.>”
Jeskai Kondoru, Hidden Encampment, Afternoon 1
Jeskai was disheartened when Jaden mentioned no survivors were to be left. A twili was not a creature he had linked with before, but he had no intention of attempting it during battle. The risk of being inside a Twili’s mind during death was too great of one. Thankfully, another of his new allies, Ayala, interrupted his thought process.
“<Please, I need to know how you helped bird guy. There’s another person I know how suffered a similar fate to him that we haven’t been able to cure. I need to know if there’s anything we can do for her.>”
Her request was one Jeskai was willing to grant immediately. It didn’t take much to sense her intentions were nothing but good. He replied with enthusiasm.
(“Hello Ayala. You are one of the few non-clan members I’ve had the chance to speak with this way.”) He bowed in silence. (“The answer is, yes, I can help, but it’s complicated. I’m telepathically linked to Horus now, and that link is limited by the distance between us, and my mental strength. I haven’t actually cured Horus of his affliction, but instead silenced it for a time, so that he can think and see clearly. But if I were to extend my powers to a second individual, I might become too weak and Horus would slip away, as would your friend.”) He smiled through the silence. (“Hope is not lost though. One of my clan members, Efran, is somewhere in Hyrule, imprisoned by Twili. And should we find a way to defeat the Twili, I have more clan members across the sea that we could visit, and enlist the help of.”)
Ayala, Hidden Encampment, Afternoon 1
Template:Continuation Jeskai's explanation was somewhat disheartening at first. He didn't have a cure for the mental damage the Twili caused, just a very limited treatment. It was also unlikely he could help another person without the aid of other psychics he was related to. She was a bit disappoint that the brief glimmer of hope wasn't quite what it seemed; at least until she remember one important fact.
<“Right duh,”> she accidentally transmitted in the excitement of her eureka moment. <“Sorry, I mean, um... can you teach someone to do what you did? The person I'm trying to help is always with my brother and he's a really strong psychic. And if he can't do it I'm sure my mother can. She's scary powerful.”>
Darrel Mytura, Bound North, Evening One
It was no surprise that Darrel was buoyed by the addition of so many new faces. He didn't know them well, but they were no Twili, and by the auras of their radiant spirits, he felt he could trust them.
They'd broken camp as the sun descended across a broad winter sky. His marines had moved about, striking tents and filling in fire pits with casual efficiency, and Jaden's Sheikah followed suit. They'd done this too many times already in the past six months, picking up and moving so as to stay ahead of search parties sent out with increasing frequency by the agitated Twili army. Travel bags were packed tight and hoisted on broad backs, and anything that couldn't be easily transported was abandoned or destroyed.
Darrel and Jaden took the lead. They knew the trail, though there was little sign of it through the thicket. They spoke little, though Jaden did offer his flask on occasion as the gloom of dusk deepened around them, descending toward full night. At their backs, Darrel's marines chattered in their boastful way. It was more of a nervous tic than true bravado. They were confident, but not arrogant. They spoke to break the tension in the air.
"Not sure why we don't just send the General into the desert, anyway," Tang argued loudly, in a tone and at an elevated decibel that Darrel knew he was meant to hear. "He's the Sunrise Knight, after all. Let's just toss him at their Lord Grem and see what happens. The General's already hurt him once."
Darrel rolled his eyes and sent Jaden a sidelong glance. The Sheikah, with an amused smirk, returned the look. They both knew. They'd both been there, and Horus too, who was now seemingly back to his old self again. Grem was no average adversary. He was no Isaac Kinslayer, no Fulmen the Feared, no Hothnight the Hated. He was a beast of altogether incomparable stature. Darrel had had friends at his side, and surprise at his back, and he'd still dealt what seemed to have amounted to the sting of hornet, a painful irritation, but little more. His words of caution to his marines and Jaden's Sheikah had been stern and had brooked no opposition. If Grem showed himself, run.
As the sun faded beyond distant hills in the west and the wood grew sparse around them, Jaden sent several of his Sheikah ahead into the darkness with a forceful gesture. They vanished into the growing dark to scout the way ahead as the road into the southeast corner of the desert became a narrow passage through tall sandstone cliffs. The air was dry and the desert wind brought swirls of brittle sand through the narrow corridor, forcing them to shield their faces. Jaden lifted a Sheikah veil over his mouth and nose, while Darrel drew a worn out handkerchief from a pocket inside his surcoat and held it to his face. The pass wasn't pleasant by any means, but it was short. It wasn't long past full night that the cliffs pressing in around them opened out into a vast, sprawling sea of sand and wind-sculpted rock. From there the group turned east, hugging the edge of the hills.
Jaden's Sheikah scouts awaited them further on, lurking unseen in the black until the group drew near. Jaden, uncannily, seemed to know they were there, and left Darrel's side to go ahead and receive their report. When he returned, he came out of the shadows nodding, a pleased grin on his now unveiled face.
"Still no sign that the Twili have any idea it's there," he announced in low tones. "Still safe as houses."
"Good, let's get inside and regroup." He cast his eyes out into the desert. "Did they have a chance to scout the staging area?"
Jaden winked, but said nothing. He just gestured that they move on with a jerk of his head. Darrel, for his part, was happy enough to comply.
The mouth of the cave leading into the Great Fairy Fountain was located inside a tiny enclave in the sandstone bluffs, beneath a sloped overhang and shielded just so by rocks jutting up from the sand and a few standing cacti that it could barely be discerned from a distance. If it hadn't been for their finding the fountain by a different route months earlier, they'd never have been able to find it. But provenance had given them the perfect shelter, the perfect vault for their plundered supplies, the perfect respite.
Darrel took up a position beside the mouth of the cave and gestured for the group to head inside. "Quickly now. The sooner we get inside, the sooner we can get some food into us and prepare for the attack."
Horus, Great Fairy Fountain Entrance, Night One
Horus had been inspecting his arrows as they trekked along, letting his sense of the air guide him as he paid little attention to the others. It wasn't until the air grew dry and the ground hard that he came back to reality. His mind was clearer than it had ever been, and he was thankful for it; His mental freedom from madness allowed him to enjoy the little things again, like the ground beneath his feet. He could even 'feel' the the Fountain within the cave before they even went inside, the very air cooling and adopting the scent of crisp and pure water. He was sighing in relief almost obsessively. Horus finally put the arrow he was cleaning away as Darrel gestured the group to enter the cave, but he hesitated in doing so (he could have sworn he heard one of the trees back there...muttering...) before walking up to him instead, resting a hand on his shoulder.
"In case I...lose control...again, have this." He whispered to Darrel as he passed a piece of parchment to him, which was wrapped around an arrow that had its head covered with cloth.
The parchment's contents were a picture of a generic Rito that Horus had drawn himself, with arrows pointing at select parts of its anatomy. Arrows pointed towards the neck, ribs, flanks, calves, the wing humerus, and the shoulder blades. All of them originated from a note that sat in the bottom left corner of the picture, which seemed rather well written considering Horus' usual handwriting; He must have taken some time writing it for Darrel's sake.
"The arrowhead is covered in a paralytic poison; The paralysis factor works especially well on Rito, I've found, but little else about the mixture that makes it work is found effective. The arrows I have drawn point to sections of my anatomy that have on record reacted most poorly to injuries in the past, so it is my assumption that they will react just as well to the poison should I suffer another...Episode.
(The poison in previous tests on myself lasts about a half hour within my system before my body metabolizes it. I imagine that's plenty of time to neutralize me should it become necessary.)"
Horus gave Darrel's shoulder a few pats before pressing on inside the cave, letting Darrel decide when to read the letter.
Jaden Bryseis, Great Fairy Fountain, Evening 1
A good hike is exactly what Jaden needed after such a long day. Even with a full pack, all he truly required for cheer was his friends and his flask. While he wished his sister safe, he missed having her around, as well as his betrothed. But this was war, after all. He would have found out by now if they had failed in their mission. She would have found a way to get a message out of the Sacred Realm.
It was amusing to hear the marines speak of Grem as something Darrel could take out on his own. The Sunrise Knight was one of the most legendary warriors this land had ever seen. But from firsthand experience, it was going to take a lot more than living history. Grem was twisting the very laws of magic and biology with the prowess he carried. And it frustrated Jaden horribly.
As the sun set, he still pondered about his sister and his fiancee. Did time pass differently in there? What was it like? And if they came back, would Kae really be the same? War had already changed her, and she saw less than a week of action. Given, the action she saw would have killed most mortals. Perks of being a Scion included rebounding from duels with primordials and casting cataclysmic spells in defense of Castle Town.
When his scouts gave the all clear, Jaden proceeded into their safehouse. How the Twili didn't find this place or even consider casing it was baffling to him. But exploits were exploits, and he gathered some provisions to lightly partake of while briefing Unit Zero.
"Once we establish a perimeter, we're unleashing psyops. Simultaneous execution of officers is required. Upon completion of that, I will send the signal for the others to approach and attack. The newbies are not coming with us for the softening. Of course, the signal may perform the softening for us, and that would make us very happy. No prisoners. I don't care who it is. Anyone who lives knows how we did it, and that is a risk. Do not take out sentries unless they make you. Utmost discretion and sensitivity. Questions?"
Unit Zero did not get to be what it was by having uncertainty. Jaden was honored to have access to such men and women. Elly even spent time serving shortly after her thirteenth birthday. They didn't bother eating as much because they did not want to be sluggish and overloaded; and they drank deeply of water to stay hydrated.
After they had finished their briefing, Jaden approached Darrel and informed him that they were ready to begin.
"General, my team is ready to move out. Anything you require of us before we take the advance?"
Darrel Mytura, Great Fairy Fountain (Desert), Night One
"General, my team is ready to move out. Anything you require of us before we take the advance?"
Once inside the fountain, Jaden had left the official briefing up to Jaden. The young man was not only eager to take control and ownership of his part, but was good at it to boot. He wasn't averse to getting his hands dirty to get a job done, and he was exceedingly efficient.
He shook his head.
"No, you've got this part down, so go get it done; we won't be too far behind." the two men, warriors both, one living far beyond the scope of his lifespan and the other just peeking into the demands of manhood and the leadership responsibilities awaiting him, clasped forearms. On Jaden's face was a wolfish, hungry grin. On Darrel's, a grim countenance as though carved from stone. Hard. "Go be the vanguard and we'll be the cavalry."
As was his way, Jaden nodded and withdrew, his Sheikah operatives seeming to melt into the shadows and vanish from sight. Darrel didn't dwell overmuch on their part of things. Jaden, though young, knew well his craft. He was a worthy addition into the ever-cursed ranks of the Light Warriors, that loosely affiliated gang of vigilantes whose existence spanned centuries. He would take care of his side of things; it would be up to Darrel, Horus, the men and women of the Knight's Sword marines, and the rest of his newfound recruits to do the rest. Jaden was the knife in the dark. Darrel and his would be as the hammer in broad day.
To that end, as Jaden vanished about his business, Darrel wove through the disorganized piles of stolen salvage to where the young armored soldier stood. He appeared the quiet type, reserved and watchful. Darrel could understand that.
He settled down onto the top of a wooden crate and looked sidelong at him. He didn't know this young soldier from a peahat in the field.
"Henreth, yes?" The young man gave only a nod of affirmation. "You have the look of a soldier about you, one who has seen a few battles. I need that. Jaden brought you into the fold, and given how much I trust his judgment in such matters, I trust you by extension.
"When we follow Jaden out into the night, I need you to do something. There is little time for ceremony, or even for the formalities of commission and promotion, so you'll forgive me if I just jump ahead a bit. I want to hit the staging area on two sides. I will take a team and strike on the eastern side; I would like you to take half of my marines, five soldiers in all, and any of these others who choose to accompany your group, and come in from the west. With the officers already neutralized by Jaden's operation, a two-pronged assault will create mass confusion within the enemy ranks. We might as well be farmers mowing wheat, at that point." He straightened where he sat and, shifting his posture somewhat to face the young man more directly, leaned in. "Can you do that for me?"
Henreth, Great Fairy Fountain (Desert), Night One
Henreth was exploring what he could of the place, though with all the boxes and crates, the place seemed like a cross between a bunker and a large storehouse.
He had been in fights before, but wars were obviously very different from individual fights. Having some free time, he psyched himself up, bracing for the inevitable conflict. Various scenarios and situations played in his head, both good and bad. But it was also difficult to do so, considering how little he knew of the enemy, these twilight. Just as he wrapped up his thoughts on the subject, he heard footsteps in the room. Expecting a conversation, he sat on a wooden crate and looked to the side. It was Darrel.
He gave a silent nod.
Darrel explained his plan: he wanted to send in a stealth group to assassinate any and all enemy officers, and then hit the enemy camp on two sides, one to the east, one to the west. What was said next completely surprised Henreth, Darrel wanted him to lead the western group. Five soldiers at the minimum from the sound of it, plus potential volunteers. At this point Henreth straightened where he sat, turned to face Darrel directly, and leaned in.
"Can you do that for me?"
The plan was simple enough, but Henreth wasn't sure if he was up to the task of being responsible for other people's lives. He also wondered why someone would be willing to skip all the red tape to promote a stranger into being a leader, even if only temporary. Pondering all of this wouldn't change the fact that the job still needs to be done. Henreth came to a conclusion.
"I accept. What's going to be the signal to move in?"
CONTINUES ON Sneak Attack P#121
Echoes of Epoch
Rhendil Hurst, The mountains south of the desert, Afternoon 1
Rhendil huffed unpleasantly as he hiked the mountain trail, his men in tow. He’d forgone consuming any more spirits for the day…for the task at hand he needed to be relatively sober, though when packing up camp he’d had a swig or two. The not-a-courier stood next to him and Hikaru, ahead the rest of the troops. His justification for this was that he had a message to deliver to Baron Ryssdal, and was accompanying their party to that end. It still did not explain why he’d chosen to walk up front with the captain.
Having been briefed properly now, Rhendil had a better sense of the battle that lay ahead of them. Another, larger force would be approaching the lake from the desert, from another path, to attack from the north. Rhendil would not be joining them. Instead he and his small band of misfits would waste time trying to sneak around the western edge to meet Ryssdal’s men and risk compromising the whole operation just to satisfy the political vendetta of…whoever had sent these orders. Lord Grem, possibly? Plenty of men had harsh feelings toward Hurst for his…failures.
The not-a-courier broke the silence with another round of questions. He’d been at this all day now.
“The construct,” he began, “Hikaru, you called it?”
“Yes.” Rhendil answered curtly.
“You don’t find that behavior a bit…odd? Naming a golem as if it were a person?”
Rhendil was beginning to find the man’s false inquisitiveness truly irritating.
“No, if you must know, I don’t. Men name their swords, their ships, and all manner of other possessions, none of which have the shape of a man. This, at least, has that.” He retorted. “And besides, our golems are built to be replaceable, dust to be destroyed and recreated at a moment’s notice. Whatever Hylian designed this construct, he expected it to last. If it is to remain in my possession for any length of time, a name only seemed appropriate.”
The snoop furrowed his brow. “That remains to be seen. Our superiors might not be too keen on you playing recklessly with foreign technology without it being properly examined and researched. It could be a bomb, for all we know, set to explode when it reaches the appropriate target!” His pretense was fading quickly, as he pressed for the information he’d come for.
“It most certainly is not!” Rhendil protested.
“How do you know? Are you some sort of expert in experimental Hylian weaponry? Unless of course, you don’t think this is really of Hylian origin?”
Rhendil’s breath caught in his throat at the suggestion. He looked away from his interrogator, not wanting his eyes to give anything away.
“Where else could it possibly have come from?” He tried to sound nonchalant as the words escaped his lips, but he knew he was failing.
The agent stood taller now, a sardonic smile now breaking across his lips. “I don’t know, the workmanship, crude repairs aside, seems somehow more…familiar.”
Rhendil knew where this was heading, and it was nowhere pleasant. He needed to put a stop to this, immediately.
“If you don’t mind, we have a long way to go if we’re going to reach the lake by nightfall, and while I do find your questions of great interest, I think we would travel faster if we were to do so in silence.”
The not-a-courier continued undaunted. “Indeed, it seems quite reminiscent of the work of your old friend! You know, the one who was exhiled for blasphemy? What was his name again? Sal! Sam?” he mocked, knowing full-well the name.
“It’s SOL!” he exploded at last, then quickly gathered himself. ”…his name was Quentin Sol.”
Ella and Stella are first mentioned in Six Months Later, but are officially introduced here.
Zephyra Ryssdal, Gerudo Desert, Day 1
Along the waters of a small oasis in the desert there stood a green skinned woman in a red, flowered headdress. Looking in disappointment at her attempts to grow crops the chieftain of her tribe walked over and patted the lady on her shoulders. The two green skinned humans were members of the Zuna Tribe, a race of nomadic beings that few outsiders knew much about. For centuries their people had lived in true isolation, treading in the wastelands even the Gerudo feared to go.
Wars had come and gone in their lands yet they had for the most part always been left alone. Today however was different. Approaching unseen from the side crept Zephyra Ryssdal and a platoon of scythe armed men. The Twili's yellow eyes stalked the Zuna from behind, fully knowing the deed they were about to commit. As she came into view the soldiers made themselves known and readied their scythes for the civilians. The Zuna farmers turned to run, but were completely encircled.
There was no escape from what Zephyra had planned. The sandal wearing Twili stepped forward and lent out an open hand.
"Hello, my name is Baroness Zephyra Ryssdal. I'm here with the Twili Kingdom's Hyrulean outreach program. We've received word that your tribe is having trouble producing crops in this kind of climate. Can my men be of any assistance in reaping your plants?"
"Ummm...well..." mumbled the Zuna chieftain, having clearly misunderstood the Twili's intentions. "Of course I suppose. I mean, yes we would be happy for the help".
Within a moments notice Zephyra and her men were lending a hand. The Zuna civilians stood beside the Twili knights working together for the greater good. With considerable effort the Twili were slowly elevating the Desert Providence from a long ignored backwater to one of Hyrules most important regions. Yet these efforts didn't go without there fair share of criticisms.
"I still don't get why you sent us to help these primitives" complained one of the soldiers to Baroness Ryssdal. "What have these light loving chumps ever done for us!"
"Those "light loving chumps" you describe are the newest citizens of the Twili Kingdom. They have the same rights and privileges as you Henri. I expect you to speak of them as such."
"But still, he dose have a point" replied one of Henri's friends. "We didn't exactly enlist just to become a poor mans farm hand."
"If any of you want to waste my time complaining your more than free to join the rest of the army heading for Lake Hylia! Besides, the farming itself is irrelevant. The true point of this is to teach the people of Hyrule we're allies they can trust, not an occupying empire. Every day the Hylian monarchy puts out more and more false propaganda demonizing our people. The Hylians continue to fight us because they dont understand what we are actually like."
"The average Hyrulean believes us to be little more than a band of monsters, raping, pillaging, and plundering our way through the countryside. The more they learn how much better life is under the Twili Kingdom, the less of them will put up resistance against us. Do you understand?"
Before any could comment on the baroness' theory a messenger from a nearby Twili garrison intruded upon them.
"Lady Ryssdal, your immediate presence is requested."
"What is it? Are we under attack??!"
"No my lady, nothing of that nature. Its just that we have detained two suspicious individuals, and we are having trouble questioning them."
"Do you need my help to do this" questioned a puzzled Zephyra.
"Yes. You see these two trespassers are speaking in some form of Ancient Hylian we can't seem to understand. We were hoping your language skills and telepathic abilities can be used to translate them. "
"Strange. I didn't think Ancient Hylian was still spoken in these lands. How did they get past our patrol anyway?"
"That's still under investigation. One of our men heard a crack like thunder and saw a Zora and a young human girl fall into the middle of our garrison. The two were taken into custody without a fight."
"Did you say a Zora? In the middle of a desert like this? How... Never mind. I'll just ask them myself. Can you please lead me to these prisoners?"
"Yes mam. Please follow me."
Stella Delphinus, Gerudo Desert (Twili Dungeon), Day 1
In the ruins of an abandoned Gerudo village turned makeshift army base, there lay a dimly lit dungeon. Caged inside its rusty metal bars sat Stella Delphinus, her damp Zora scales leaning limply against dusty walls. A short distance across the room was Ella lying in her cell exhausted from the events of the previous hours. Both of them had wound up in the desert without knowing how or why, nor what these odd skinned Humanoids that captured them were.
Neither of the two girls had ever heard of a race like theirs. Any attempts to ask questions were frustrated on both sides by the dialect they spoke, which was drastically different from the Hylian they knew. The sound of a creaking door at the entrance put both Stella and Ella back on alert. Another one of these unknown interlopers walked into the room. This one seemed to be of higher stature than the others judging by the clothes she wore. The tall woman walked before Stella's iron bars and began to speak.
"Good afternoon friend Zora. My name is Lady Zephyra Ryssdal of the Twili Kingdom. Do you understand anything I'm saying to you?"
"Your accent is broken, but yes, I understand most of what you say. "
"Very good. May I ask the two of you your names?"
Although she seemed to understand her Ella remained silent on the issue and turned away. Clearly she was still not trusting of the baroness. Stella however gave an actual reply. "I'm Stella Delphinus, this is... Ella if my memory serves me correct. I don't exactly know her too well. Can I ask why your people imprisoned us here? "
"My apologies Ms. Delphinus. I'm afraid I need to ask questions first. Let's begin with why and how you got here. I don't understand why a Zora like you would be in an environment like this. Given the war going on I think it’s a possibility you both came here to spy on us."
"Were not spy's" said Ella. "If we were, you wouldn't have found us."
"When we landed here we walked up to your people and asked for help first. That's not exactly something an enemy of yours would do now is it" continued on Stella. "As for how exactly we got here, I have no way to explain other than to say some foul work of magic was at play. The last place I remember being was at Zora's Domain before being abducted by a cursed ghost named David. The last place that specter teleported us was this very village we stand in now. " Zephyra stared back at Stella with a quite skeptical look.
"If you don't believe what I said, well I really don't blame you. But I have no other way to explain. We didn't intend to come here; we just ended up here by accident. Either way we mean your people no harm."
"So then, neither of are part of the Hyrulean Army?"
"Oh please! Don't insult me like that" said Stella with indignation. "The Hylian's only claim to own Zora's Domain. In truth no Zora would ever willingly submit to their rule! I'm not sure if you’re aware of what’s been going on, but I've been actively fighting against the Hylian army!"
"What are you saying" questioned Zephyra. "Do you mean to tell me you're one of our agents?"
"Stella, keep your mouth shut" interrupted Ella. "Just shut up and stop telling them things!"
Stella rolled her eyes and continued on. "No, I'm afraid I have never seen your tribe before now. But rest assured, if the Hylian’s are you’re enemies then they are enemies of mine too! " Although she couldn't tell what was on her mind "Lady Ryssdal" as she referred to herself seemed to ease up upon hearing Stella's explanation. Then she looked over her shoulders to the Hylian girl in the back.
"What about the young lady right here? Ella correct? Where do her loyalties lie?"
"Who can say for sure, but she's not exactly with me" shrugged Stella, which was responded with a dirty glance from Ella. "Lady Ryssdal, can I ask what is the current state of the war here in the desert? One of our people, General Eridanus, was headed here to form an alliance with the Gerudo. May I ask if he was successful?"
Zephyra stood quietly for a moment and began to tense up. "I have never heard of your General Eridanus before, but if he came to help the Gerudo he's far too late. When we Twili first came to the desert the Gerudo were eager to cast off their bonds and help us to liberate their nation. For these efforts the Hylians sent in one of their Sheikah agents, who killed every Gerudo she could find. They were massacred to the last woman and child. If there are any Gerudo left in this desert, our army has yet to find them."
With that somber note the room turned silent as Stella and Ella starred back at each other in shock.
"That's... awful" said Stella regaining her composure. The she-Zora took a moment to contemplate the implications of what Zephyra had just said. If this was true, then King Dromand's intentions were finally laid clear for the world to see. He intended to commit genocide against the tribes who opposed him and claim the whole continent for himself. The Zora could be next if she didn't act quickly. Stella knew what she was about to propose would be risky.
She didn't know if these "Twili" could be trusted. But then again the Zora Tribe had made worse alliances before. Zephyra certainly couldn't be more evil than Elizabeth Bryce and her cult were. Besides if she could convince the Twili to join the Zora war effort, then surely King Tiburon would forgive her for the failures of her past. With that thought it was settled. "Zephyra, I think we have a mutual enemy. If I were to convince my people to form an alliance with your kingdom, would you consider letting me help you in your war against Hyrule? "
"What do you think you’re doing" shouted Ella in surprise.
"Allow me to understand this more clearly? If I let both of you go, you claim you'll join our army and turn the Zora's to the Twili's side?"
"In a word, yes. But I'd actually prefer it if you keep Ella locked up. I don't really trust her either."
"Stella, you pathetic asshole. You can't trust this woman; she's using you like a tool!"
"Oh and I'm supposed to trust the nation that just committed genocide? I'm sorry, but you’re far too biased towards your own race Ella. If I let you go you'd just try and stop me. Look, I truly appreciate you helping me escape from that cursed alternate universe, but we all know that was an alliance of convince. For your own safety I think its best that you stay here." Zephyra scratched her black hair for a moment while making a decision. Then, reaching for a set of keys, she unlocked Stella's cell and held the door open.
"Allow me to warmly welcome you to the Imperial Twili Army Lady Delphinus! If you will, please follow me. There is much for us to discuss!" With a graceful sway in her step Stella walked out of dungeon and into freedom. On the way out she passed her former companion and saw a murderous rage in her eyes.
"YOU IDIOT! Stella get back here and let me out! If you don't this instant I'll just let myself out, and then I'm coming for you next! STELLA!"
With an angry growl Ella rattled her cell door to no avail. Her argument had fallen on deaf ears. Stella walked back out into the sunlight. She had officially been swayed to side of the dark interlopers.
Simeon Ryssdal, Hyrule Field (south of Lake Hylia), Midnight 1
In the gentle darkness of a moonlit night there waded Simeon Ryssdal through the shrubland of Southern Lanayru. As he crept through the fields he came to a stop next to a small, mostly dried up pond with a small company of men by his side. All clad in the light arrow armor the baron was know for crafting the forces present were but a small fraction of the Twili's southern army group, which would soon converge on the lake. Simeon had come here to regroup with a few special forces operatives and other notable personal being sent over from the desert. Among the people he anticipated to see was Rhendil Hearst, though Simeon certainly wasn't expecting a friendly reunion upon meeting him.
What he saw next though came as a welcome surprise. "Zephyra? Is that you" he called out to the figure illuminated by her glowing eyes.
"No it's the mailman. Of course it's me silly! Who else would you expect?" The two lovers gave a warm embrace to one another before Simeon replied.
"It's wonderful to see you again. But to honest I wasn't expecting you at all. What brought you all the way here for..."
Before he could finish Simeon heard the sound of dozens of swords being unsheathed in unison. Looking over his wife's shoulder he saw a Zora with peculiar set of metal boots approaching their camp. His smile giving way to a fierce snarl as he raised his rod of light to attack.
"Simeon, No!" said Zephyra pushing his metal staff back down in a hurry. "That Zora is on our side!"
With a perplexed look on his face he glanced over to see the Zora woman cautiously standing in place, staring at the Twili swords drawn at her. With a brief pause to confirm she wasn't threatening them Baron Ryssdal gave the order to stand down. Nodding in thanks the blue scaled solider of the sea marched over in front of him and gave a crisp salute.
"Hoy sir Ryssdal. I'm the captian star of dolphin constellation! H'onor meeteth thou!"
"...At ease my lady" said Baron Ryssdal, trying to pretend he understood her. "I apologize, my hearing seems to have failed me. Did you say you were a star, or a dolphin?"
"No, Stellar Dolphinus."
Simeon walked a bit closer and held up his ear.
"I AM STELL-A-DEL-PHI-NUS."
"OH, your name is Stella Delphinus. My apologies then. That's... quite a thick accent you've got there."
"Simeon this is Stella, Captain of the Delphinus Zora clan" explained Zephyra. "She's come to aid in our efforts to liberate the Lanayru Region from the Hyrulean army."
"So you're a defector I presume? Well then Stella it's always a pleasure to meet an independent thinker like you. Hyrule needs more people who hasn't been brainwashed by King Francis' propaganda. If you'll please walk this way, my men will fill you in on the battle plan."
With that the baron pointed his hand over towards camp and guided Stella on her way. Zephyra began to walk beside her when Simeon called the baroness over for private discussion. After making sure they were outside the Zora's range of sight and hearing he stopped and let her speak.
"What's on your mind Simeon?"
"Who is she really?"
"Like you said I believe she is a defector from the Zora army. I'm still not proficient enough in telepathy to probe deep into her mind, but I know she was telling me the truth in wanting to fight the Hylian army. She seems to have a deep seated hatred for them. Given the Zora nations impending capitulation I thought it would be beneficial to gain an ally from that tribe. She could eventually help ease the Zora's transition into becoming part of our kingdom."
"Perhaps" said Simeon scratching his beard in thought. He then called back to the camp. "Lets see here... Corporal Aybek. I need to speak with you for a moment." At his request the corporal in question appeared before them. "I need you to be truthful to me. Do you like the Zora Tribe as a whole?"
Aybek seemed reluctant to answer, but with Zephyra there he couldn't get away with lying if he wanted to. "I'm sorry sir, but I really can't say that I do. I think the Zora are stuck up, self centered, and heartless. I've lost several of my friends to their kind. If I may speak freely I think your making a big mistake letting that woman into our ranks."
The baron smiled in satisfaction. "Very good corporal, that's exactly what I wanted to hear. For now please introduce yourself to Lady Delphinus and try to appear friendly. I want you to stay as close to her as you can and provide any assistance she asks for. However if you gain the slightest hint that she plans to betray us kill her at once! Use ice or fire arrows if you can, their people are weak to such magic. Oh, and whatever you do make sure she doesn't learn about the "device" we plan to use. Until then await for further instructions. Dismissed."
In disbelief Zephyra watched as Aybek went off to find his new faux friend.
"What was that about? Do you not trust my instincts on her?"
"I don't trust anyone I first meet Zephyra, it's nothing personal. Because I trust your judgment I'll give Stella a chance to prove her loyalty. But we cant let our guard down. Too often we've relied upon the generosity of Hyrulean turncoats like that, only to have them betray us in the end. Stella's fight against the Hylian's may simply be a personal vendetta to which she's using us as an alliance of convince. Who knows if that loyalty will remain in the future. Just from the way she talks I can tell something's off about her. Before the night is over I intend to find out what that is."
Ayala, Great Fairy Fountain, Evening 1
CONTINUES FROM Picking Up the Pieces P#88
“So this is where the fruits of all those raids have been stored. You know all this stuff might be of more use if you brought it back to base.” Len said as he crept into the hidden outpost. In less time than it took blink every Marine present and snapped to and Len quickly found Cheek’s sword pressed uncomfortably close to his throat.
Crim followed in just behind him initially unable to see the warm response they were getting “It’s always great to here the laziest man in the whole damn army to bitch about what other people aren’t do-” He was cut off by Point who had snuck behind him and now had a dagger poking into his back.
“Sounds like someone’s just mad I out rank them now,” Len shot back while paying little mind to the man that had him at sword point.
“Yes, make jokes while unstable fanatics are threatening us.” Crim responded.
“You’re the one insulting them. Anyway, let’s all play nice now,” Len said as he gently pushed Cheek’s to the side, “we’re all ‘elite’ troops here and on the same side. We just came by to pick up that nice girl in the green armor and we’ll be on our way.”
Cheek sighed and sheathed his sword once he realized just who he was dealing with, “Oh great, it’s the “special” forces. You know you have a lot of nerve trying to compare yourselves to us being that you’re all just a bunch of rejects shoved into a suicide squad.”
“Say’s the loon without a real name,” Crim yelled back. “Which one are you anyway, Peen, Butt, Tang Pin? And by the way why is it the Marines are the ones hiding in the desert while we’re the ones going off secure a port?”
While the two continued their pissing contest Len head over to Ayala who was far too in engrossed in here battle preparations to notice what was going one. It wasn’t until Len dropped a scarf on her head that she finally snapped out of her trance.
“Huh, what’s this,” she while looking at the scarf only to turn around and notice Len wearing one just like it.
“That is a lieutenant’s scarf. Congratulations you’ve been promoted. I was too it would seem,” he said as he tugged on the one wrapped around his own neck. “Now grab you stuff, apparently we have to go sneak into Ordon. Fun times.”
Ayala seemed less the enthusiastic about the sudden mission, “What are you talking about. We’re about to have a major battle, I can’t leave.”
“Yeah we’re a distraction, or they’re a distraction of us or something. Look I don’t know it’s some big picture crap. Either way we gotta get out of here before Sword Name and Womanizer kill each other.” Len said as he pointed back toward the still bickering Crim an Cheek.
Ayala, South Port, Ordon Province, Night 1
"Ok here's the plan," Dren began now that all his forces had finally gathered. "We go door to door. Sneak into ever house, if there are Hylians evacuate them quickly and quietly. Leave any Interlopers you see be. Ayala you're squad will take the west side of town, Len, you've got the east. Megumi and myself will guard the escape route. Avoid combat, and if you have to engage keep it quiet."
"Question, why? If we raise hell we won’t have to worry about those guard towers spotting the entire town trying to sneak away. Which, really how are suppose to get around those. The north end of town is fine but there's a lot more guards towards the docks." Ayala questioned not sure how the plan was at all feasible.
Dren was annoyed about being question but he'd become somewhat use to it with this lot. "If the alarms sound the garrison stationed at Ordon Village will march down here, and we don't have time to fight that many off and get everyone out of here. We know the Interloper's have several ships that should be arriving here tomorrow. Our navy is going to get here first, destroy this tower and lay a trap from the enemy fleet. Anyone still here by dawn is as good as dead. As for the extra guards, not sure where you got that idea but its night time and they're expecting a busy day tomorrow. They can't possibly have a large force standing watch."
Crim quickly spoke out to back up Ayala's claim, "You've been back at HQ to long Cap. Trust me, if LT says there's more guard, then there's more guards.
"We could always set a fire as a distraction," Len suggested. "If we light up something as we approached the south end all hands will be pulled to deal with it. As long as it’s something unimportant like a shed or animal pen they won't suspect enemy action. The only problem is if it gets out of hand too many civilians will get involved in the firefighting and I doubt we'll be able to get them out."
"Don't worry about the guards," a voice called out from an unseen person. "When the time comes I will deal with them for you, and I can assure you I will not be seen.
"Kokage, where have you been? Ayala asked recognizing the invisible speakers voice.
The elemental emerged from the moonlight making himself visible to all present, "I was attempting to seal away Sirius' lab by having the forest swallow it. Unfortunately night fell before I completed my task. Though it would seem this means I can aid you, at least until dawn.
"Fine, we're all good then," Dren said having grown tried with how long the brief was taking. "Now go execute your mission."
Ayala, South Port Ordon Province, Break of Dawn 2
"I guess tree boy really came through." Crim said as the sun came up enough for him to see the corpses of the night patrol dead at their posts. "I think we actually could have taken our time."
"No," Ayala corrected, "he can't turn invisible once the sun comes up so we need to get out of here before the guards have their shift change.
"I think we're out of time. Look." Rick said as he jumped down a high vantage point and pointed out to the sea.
Crim look out past the harbor and noticed a pair of ships that had appeared in the distance and were making their way towards them with the wind in their favor, "Well I the Captain did say they'd be here at dawn. We should still have about 30 minutes to clear out though. Give or take."
"That's not what he's talking about. Look above the ships," Ayala said as he readied her spear.
Crim looked again trying to focus on the distant blurry object hovering above the boats. At first he thought it might be a seagull, but once he noticed he was getting closer and bigger much faster than the boats he started to worry. "What the hell! Is that a dragon?"
"It's an argorock. Not the smartest kind of dragon but pretty strong. More importantly the Interlopers tamed them and armored them up," Rick clarified.
"Ok, so yes a dragon." Crim responded haven't not felt the need for the more nit-picky details.
"I want you guys to gather the last of people on this street then go meet up with Len's squad. I can't guaranty this town won’t be on fire soon to tell D'ren to have the refugees pick up the pace." Ayala ordered then pounded on her chest to wake up Oberon. "This one's gonna get ruff, so you'll need to watch from a distance, ok.
"You can't possibly expect us to let you take one that thing and two ships worth of enemy troops by yourself." Crim shouted.
"She won’t be alone." Kokage said as morning light forced him to return into view.
Ayala shook her head, "No if you fight at day you'll break the forest truce; and they need your help getting all these people through the forest. Besides it just a lesser dragon. This is my thing."
Crim was still worried but suddenly realized Ayala was desperately trying to hold back a smile. He realized this wasn't some cliché heroic final stand for her, she was enjoying. Worse he honestly if that should make him feel better about all this or worry more. "Alright," he sighed, "you all heard the Lieutenant, now get moving."
"Um... you go to." Ayala said once she noticed Crim hadn't departed with the others.
"Sorry LT, I can't do that," he responded, "you're enjoying yourself too much. Besides someone has to take out the day shift guards and keep them from getting in your way, and I figure I can park myself over on that hill with my bow and take care of that for you."
Ayala finally let he beaming smile be seen clear as day, "Ok, but just don't let my fight distract you because its gonna be really cool." The dragoon crouched down prepare a jump and fill herself with white magic enchantments. Once the argorock was in range she was gonna hit it with everything she has.
Ayala, South Port, Dawn 2
The Dragoon’s powerful jump propelled her through the air and despite her elfin stature her spear struck the Argorock's chest with herculean force. Still, even with the pure might behind the blow, the tip of it was deflected to the side by a slant in the beast’s thick armor.
Ayala hadn't expected the dragon to so easily withstand her initial assault but nevertheless managed to adjust quickly. She reached out and grabbed the spike of the creature’s wings and used her remaining momentum to flip onto its back.
"Fine, I can deal with armor easily," she said before drawing her Sword of Light to perform a True Blade Strike.
However, before she could even balance herself properly on the argorock's back to unleash to focused torrent of energy, the twili-perversed dragon began to screech in agony. It seemed the beast had been enchanted with far more dusk magic then normal in order to allow it to escort the fleet without rest, but now that power was back firing. The Sword of Light's radiance was even more toxic then normal and was causing its flesh to start to burn and its duskshard armor to start to splinter.
In desperation it swung it's neck back and unleashed the full fury of its infernal breath on the tiny warrior that had mounted it. When Ayala's flame resistant armor rendered the attack meaningless it began to panic and thrash about in hopes of knocking her off.
Ayala tried to use her spear to brace herself but the only place she was able to pierce was the unarmored flesh of the Dragons' wing far too thin to hold firm.
Seeing the girl finally falling from its back, the now enraged monster swung its weaponized tail around and smashed the dragoon into one of the very ships it was escorting. Not content with simply slamming her through several decks of a galleon, the dusk dragon now demented from rage began charging up and large ball of plasma in front of its mouth.
In the distance Crim began to fear the worst and notched an arrow. He tried to aim not sure if his shot could make a difference, or even if it would hit at all, but he had to try. Or at least that's what he thought before Oberon got in the way.
"Are you nuts!? Even if it notices your arrow, it'll just attack us instead," the fairy protested.
"That's the point," Crim yelled back as he grabbed the fairy to get her out of the way. "That thing looks like it's about to fire a star on her and I do NOT want to have to explain to the commander that I let his daughter get killed."
Oberon seemed more confused than anything else, "Huh? That thing can't hurt her. It can hurt us though. Just watch."
The argorock fired its massive surge of condensed flame magic upon the ship. The exploding ball of fire consumed most of the wooden sail vessel and its crew immediately while the slightly luckier of those aboard were flung away by the shock wave. Though with the burns the intense heat likely inflicted on them, many may find themselves envying those granted the quicker death.
Amidst the burning wreckage and single glowing ball floated on top of the ocean. It slowly opened up to reveal the unscathed Ayala standing on a large piece of flotsam with her Wings of Light beaming brightly against the dim backdrop of the early dawn sky.
The Dragoon merged her brilliant blade into her spear, granting it its powerful radiance. She looked up at the tainted wyvern with a gleefully innocent smile almost as if to thank the beast for an enjoyable fight.
"Ok, it’s my turn now," She jumped into the air then used a single mighty flap from her wings to propel her at a speed too great for the argorock to react to.
The luminescent spear pieced effortlessly through the dragons armor and hide causing it let out a blood curdling cry. Ayala forced a surge of energy into her weapon and unleased its explosive force as she whispered, “light burst.”
She glided away from the falling chucks of flesh and landed a top the largest mast of the remaining ship. She looked up as strange object twinkling in the light of the rising sun caught her attention. She reached out to grab it discovering it to be argorock stone now partially purified by the very Light Burst that had destroyed the body it came from.
“What the hell... what hell kinds of people are we supposed to be working for?” Crim asked as he contemplated the spectacle before him. He had just watched this tiny woman shrug off an attack that destroyed a huge ship and reduced a massive beast into bits of charred flesh with a single blow. It was the first time he had the chance to watch one or the Light Warriors in action from a distance, and it was terrifying. “These are the kinds of people fighting on both sides? Just what the hell are the rest of us even doing fighting in this war?”
“Jeez, grow a pair,” Oberon mocked. “You get to watch one really cool fight suddenly you’re all ‘woe is me,’ can’t you just enjoy the show.”
“Besides,” the fairy continued, “they’re all just people too. They can do some cool things but they still have their limits.”
A thunderous roar erupted out from the distance, and a short moment later a large metal ball smashed into the twili ship. The shot shattered the base its main mast and sending the unexpecting Ayala crashing to the water.
The Hylian navy had finally arrived and had started to cannon bombardment of the occupying forces.
“See,” Oberon said triumphantly, “there’s a great example right there. There’s no way Ayala can swim to shore with all the armor on. She’ll need our help.”
“Well stop smiling about it you stupid fairy!” Crim yelled as he grabbed her and ran towards the harbor.
CONTINUES ON Breaking Point Part I-Licking Their Wounds P#286