Lord General Grem, Desert Outskirts, Early Morning 2
Grem, Lord General of all Twili forces in all the world, woke in a moment. His eyes snapped open into immediate focus and he rolled from his lavish cot, placing bare feet on the plush rug that made for a floor in his tent. A distant, low but discernible report had slid pas this ears: the distinct sound of an explosion. At his movement his valet, standing sentinel through the night, moved to assist him. With a quick gesture he made clear his intentions, and his armor was readied. When, minutes later, he stepped through the tent flap, it was in full battle regalia. None but his valets ever saw him without.
On the horizon, black smoke was began to billow upward. A captain already was making way to him. Before the soldier could make the obsequious introductions, Grem bade him speak. "Report."
Sensing his lord's impatience, the captain merely bobbed out a bow of the head and began speaking. "Not much information yet, my Lord General. It has been confirmed the smoke rises from our Forward Supply Encampment, meant to supply troops as we move through Lake Hylia after Baron Ryssdal's assault. We've dispatched argorok scouts, they will bring word shortly."
Wit a flick of two fingers, Grem sent his valet to fetch his waraxe.
"No." he said to captain. "There's no waiting for the scouts this morning. We've languished in this desert long enough, it's time to move, supplies and all. We'll see if the Baron was successful, or finish what he started."
The valet returned, armsman in tow bringing his axe. Grem gripped it, so familiar, and admired the deadly dual-edged head.
"Go ready my personal vanguard. Tell the groom I want my mount ready in five minutes. I sense the hand of a particularly annoying thorn in my side..."
Some Measure of Time Later/Twili Staging Area
"As I thought, it bears the marks of that damn thorn."
The camp was a shambles. Tents were tattered, supplies were burnt and strewn everywhere, and the whole of it was littered with corpses. Every one of the dead was Twili. Not a single Hylian counted in their number.
"My Lord General..?"
Grem bore his withering gaze down on the captain who spoke.
"My Lord... there are no supplies to be salvaged here. Everything is destroyed. We've counted the deceased, all hands accounted for. Sir, they... they slaughtered the entire encampment to the man."
Grem's impassive face twinged slightly at this. The loss of life meant nothing to him, perhaps, but the principle of it struck him true. These raids had endured for six months, all as effective, stalling his conquest.
"Our trackers and scouts report... whatever force did this, they made for the pass through to the lake. The trail is fresh, my Lord."
Grem turned from the man, stamping his way to his warhorse. He spoke over his shoulder as he approached and mounted the titanic beast.
"Send word back. We're bringing the army through, nonetheless. Remount the vangaurd. We'll take this force from the rear. This is the last we've been raided by the Sunrise Knight."
Some Mere Minutes Later, Outskirts of Lake Hylia
Their ascent through the pass complete, Grem brought his mount to the edge of the rise and stared down from the heights of the mountainous boundary, into oblivion.
To the western side of the lake, the Twili lines were still intact, a roiling mass of dun skin and black armor. To the far side, though he could not see clear across through the curtain of steam rising like a sheet between, the Hylians were staggered, reeling. This was a rout. At the heart of the lake, the sheet of mystical ice had been torn apart and whipped into a swirling maelstrom whence a palpable darkness, a sickness that fed his soul, emanated.
It seemed the Baron's plans had gone somewhat awry, but still he looked downward into victory, regardless if the Baron's forces could enact a sweeping advance on the Hylian retreat. Part of this shortcoming was dictated by a distraction drawing forces back to the Twili rear.
Grem's fist tightened on his waraxe. That distraction was the same that had distracted his whole army for six months. That annoyance. That thorn, pricking away at the sole of his foot every time he tried to step forward. Grem dismounted, handing the reigns to his captain.
"There, down the switchbacks. Take the vanguard. Sweep their rear. Trap them between you and the Baron's men. Secure the lake.
"I've unfinished business to attend to."
Before even the man could respond to his orders, Grem stepped from the rise and plummeted down into the valiant Hylian holding action, little realizing how he mimicked the man he had come to kill. His impact at the bottom left a crater in the slurried mud of the shore. He rose, ponderously, waraxe lifted and ready to taste death once more.
"O Sunrise Knight!" he bellowed. "We've unfinished business, you and I!"
The Sunrise Knight, Lake Hylia (Behind Twili Lines), Morning Two
"Goddesses b-bless you, sir!" the fleeing skirmisher chirped with a breathless sigh of relief as she drew her sword, "My w-wits left me so thoroughly, I’d f-forgotten m-my blade when he gave ch-chase!"
Darrel accepted her without much thought. The enemy was already forming up again before them in preparation for the fight to resume, and he would gladly add a sword to his meager arsenal wherever he might find one. Horus had found his feet once more, and though Darrel was concerned to see how shaky he appeared, he dared not waste the time to see how he felt. Preserving what remained of the Hylian army was priority one. Thousands of lives against a handful; the choice was all too easy.
"Wh-wh-what’s the plan?" she stuttered at Darrel.
"Take position on my right," he told her in a low tone, one calm but hard. "And Horus, if you're up to it, I'll have you take position on my left. I'll be the tip of the spear."
Wordlessly, the men and women of the Sword were forming up behind the trio. Hard-bitten as they were, he could feel the uncertainty, even fear in them. He could also feel their resolve.
"Advance on my count," he said to those assembled around him. Before he could make the call, though, a tremor shook the earth and ice behind them.
"O Sunrise Knight!" came the full-throated bellow. "We've unfinished business, you and I!"
The words he'd been about to utter died on his tongue. The Twili before him, still being pulled into hasty lines by their commanders, were not attacking, and Darrel knew all too well why. Lowering Morning's Edge, he made a slow turn back in the direction whence he'd come. Rising from a crater twin to his own was the black armored profile of Lord Grem, wicked war axe raised above his head. The titan, the monolith of mystic steel who led the Twili in this war, stepped with surprising grace for one so encumbered out of the pit, making his approach across a field littered with the corpses of his countrymen.
"Keep pressing forward. Get the Twili to commit to turning about. Give the Hylians a chance to disengage." he murmured to Horus and the others, his voice so low again that the orders would not be heard beyond their cluster over the tumult of the maelstrom. "I've known this was coming."
He motioned for the Knights Sword to part and then stepped past them back toward the lake's western edge. Horus seemed weak, despite whatever strength he took from Darrel's aura, and Darrel didn't want to risk him against Grem, not when he could lead the fight forward. Not after the ordeal he'd just suffered.
Of course, he doubted much that Horus would care what Darrel wanted. Darrel couldn't make the Rito's choices for him.
Chain-bound fists clenched as he strode forward, the links beginning to glow again even as Morning's Edge built again toward radiance. He'd faced Grem once and escaped. Could he do it again? Better yet, dare he dream that he might cut the head off the serpent right now? In full view of his forces?
You will have to find your way without them. Helen's words again, and finally he understood what she meant.
Kae. He'd put so much of his faith, a faith based on hopeless need, in her. Her return should have heralded a turn in their fortunes. Instead when first he laid eyes on her, she'd been a wreck. She was the Scion, like Taliesin. If she wasn't what would deliver them, then they would need to deliver themselves.
The battlefield was alive with life. With spirit. He opened himself, let himself draw the strength of others, of their hearts and wills, into himself.
"Lord Grem," he said, his voice not a shout but still cutting through the gusts. "I believe you're right on that score. You kidnapped me, tortured me, used your arts to try to twist me to your purpose, all for a war that you've brought to my country. We have unfinished business?
"You're fucking right we do."
Spirit energy flared through him, surging along his veins, suffusing his limbs with strength and vigor. A visible aura of reddish-gold radiated around him as he moved, coruscating sparks snapping off here and there. His first footstep was slow, but soon he was bent forward in a full sprint with Morning's Edge raised. He closed the span between them faster than any figure had a right to, skidding to a stop across the ice as he closed in, turning his entire body into a swing that brought Morning's Edge to bear on the Lord General with all of the force of the rising sun.
Horus and Sha'Tive, Lake Hylia (Behind Twili Lines), Morning Two
Horus watched as Darrel turned to face Grem, who seemed to had appeared from nowhere as far as he was concerned. The Sunrise Knight whispered his commands to Horus and Sha’Tive before leaving to repeat history. The stakes were higher than before, but hope that things would end the same as before filled the hearts of everyone there. Horus didn’t feel the same, but he wished to honor the request.
“Gods speed, Darrel…” Horus choked out in a whisper, his voice quaking with doubt.
Horus’ faced grew grim as he sharply inhaled through his nose, the sound of a vacuum surrounding him like an invisible aura of air as he rose his arms up over his head with each dagger held high. Holding it for a moment, he turned back to the countless Twili soldiers that stood at attention; none of which were paying any mind to his position. The priority after all was in fact the actions of their almighty lord.
This was going to change.
In a single motion, the avian warrior’s arms snapped down to his sides, taking a primal stance as he opened his mouth wide and his entire body tensed painfully. A deafening explosion of raging wind shook the ground violently and pushed the soldiers as Horus roared all of his frustrations and pain forth; A declaration of his intent. The ice ahead underneath the Twili forces visibly cracked and splintered under the stress of his actions, enough to be noticed but not enough to break through the full thickness of the frigid sheets below. Horus thrust an arm forth to point at the men and women who stood against him with a dagger, his chest heaving heavily as he used what air he could still muster enhance the audio of his words. His words were shaky and wavering as if it hurt to even talk at all, but his message remained loud and clear.
“That was just the strength of one! Our combined rage will shake this frosty ground right down to the last molecule before we allow another step from your kind!! I will more quickly take you all with me than let you taste victory!”
Clutching his chest as his breath grew more and more ragged, Horus shouted with the last of his strength the ultimatum.
“Your choice is clear!’ Horus gestured the soldiers forth as he finished, ‘Leave or drown!!!”
Sha’Tive froze up as the forces Darrel had gathered charged forth to make good on Horus’ threat. Instead of joining them in violence, the Twili fell to a knee as Horus had just then, pretending to be given pause by the wounds implied by the damage her armor had sustained when it’s previous owner wore it. Her hand met his shoulder as she checked on the Rito, who barely seemed fit to stand, a fact that made her rethink Stewart’s whispered criticism just several minutes ago. This was a very bad idea. She could very well die again out here before she could even see these men and women in a time of calm. Though undead, Sha’Tive could feel her heart fall down into her stomach, and all too sobering reminder of her mortality.
She was scared.
“You stink…Like them…” Horus muttered, looking ever so slightly at Sha’Tive.
Sha’Tive froze up for just a moment before rolling with it as she helped him back to his feet.
“…You must have killed…Many of them for the smell to be so stuck upon your flesh…As it is…”
She internally sighed with relief. Externally, she chuckled nervously so she wouldn’t vomit.
“Well…I assure you your kill count is far more impressive than mine.”
“I wish the opposite were true…This war has dragged on too long…I have so much blood on my hands…”
Sha’Tive distanced herself a few steps, giving Horus some space and time to breathe. She was so close; Every fiber of her being screamed to just gut him and run, but that wasn’t the plan. She needed to frame someone at the very least, and in the battlefield like this, finding Horus’ corpse would just be interpreted as him dying in the rage of war like anyone else. No…She needed to ruin someone…Something in their high and mighty group of heroes had to be shaken loose so even if she botched the job, fear was left behind.
Horus clutched his gift from the kindly Great Fairy tightly in his grasp, its heavenly glow being the only warmth and comfort he had left without any of his friends by his side. As much as he wished it not be true, the Rito found no familial bond from the soldiers who were now dying for him. They all just blurred together in a mass of faces and bodies who were all doomed to die eventually. Just like him. There was no glory here, only icy, freezing death. He shivered bitterly at his thoughts of doom and gloom; He couldn’t help it. He was privy not even a moment of happiness since he left his home. There was simply no end to it; Neither side of this war would let it.
“I envy you, Link. I wish I had the same strength that etched you in history…”
The magical arrow’s power gently echoed through him, from the fist he held it in right down to his talon digging into the ice. He was running on fumes now, the thought of bringing this fight closer to an end being his only drive left at the moment. He wordlessly thanked his comrades for protecting him as he stopped to breathe as he straightened his back, his eyes darting to Sha’Tive who was discreetly coating her sword with poison, pretending to be cleaning it.
“Friend, please steel yourself. Follow my lead and I will make sure that as long as you have my back…”
He hesitated with his words as he put his arrow away and his hands rediscovered his daggers. Everything ached, but he had to press forward; His fellow Light Warriors would.
“…I will die before you do.”
Disallowing her from thinking about it, Horus charged into the fray. Sha’Tive, realizing doing anything less would blow her cover followed close.
“Hylians disperse!’ his voice echoed in the crowd of violence, ‘They will not heed my words, I will show them their error myself!”
The confusion of war seemed to focus itself solely on Horus, who stood upon a group of fallen golems, who had been standing just a moment ago. Now, they laid underneath him, twisted and broken by seemingly nothing. His whirlwind that pushed the Twili forces forced them to pay attention to him as they barely noticed the Hylians slowly disappearing from battle. Sha’Tive stood with him, a brave face hiding her pondering about if he was more mad than she was. Further investigation of Horus’ actions found that the golems weren’t his only victims. The direct path from where he had entered was a straight line of death. Snapped necks, disembowelment and gurgling sounds was left behind. Both warrior’s blades dripped and their chests heaved.
“Again...Join them or leave.” Horus growled, gesturing the dead as the soldiers raised their swords at him, answering his proposition with action.
Darwin Maurus, Lake Hylia, Morning 2
Sweat ran down the long grey beard of the middle aged Twili. Galloping as fast as his horse could muster the armored man approached from the plains of Hyrule Field in the north. Despite his precautions the battle had begun without him. Once again got a late start thanks to last night's hangover, damn the Hylian's and their alcoholic milk. He only hoped it wasn't too lake. Charging the Hyrulean army from the rear he let down his lance and began swatting away the swords and spears from the few who saw him coming.
He wasn't going to waste time with these foot soldiers. He was going straight for the commander. The leader of the Hylian's was a colonel standing with the front lines. Barking out orders over the roar of battle the Hyrulean didn't have time to see the Twili jump him as he leap from the saddle. As the two went tumbling across the ground the Twili grabbed the Colonel's blade then held him at sword point. The vast legion of guards sounding them drew their weapons in response.
"Stop! I'm on your side" shouted the Twili. "Colonel get your men out of here, this army is walking into a trap."
"Who the hell are you" said the Colonel.
"I am supreme commander Darwin Maurus, leader of the Twili Liberation Army and scourge of the borderlands. I've come to save you!" The Colonel starred him down in seething anger.
"...I...take it you've never heard of me before?"
"Get this ass out of my face" he yelled to his men. Rushing Darwin the human solders tackled him to the ground and began beating him down. Unable to retaliate the swordsmen disarmed the aged infiltrator and began dragging him away.
"Wait, No! I'm a detector of the Twili Kingdom! I have information for you." Darwin struggled with all his might not to be pulled away. "The Twili have developed a device called a thermal waterbomb. They plan to set it off as soon as your army reaches the lake. You must not... Arugh!!!"
One of the guards hit him on the back of head with the hilt of their sword, shutting him up. "The lake already exploded open on us. Take this scum away for questioning. I don't know what he's trying to pull but find out who he works for."
Shadow Nightingale, Lake Hylia (Cliffside), Morning 2
As Hylian reinforcements continued to fight along the rim of Lake Hylia, Shadow Nightingale dueled along the edge of the cliff. The Twili continued to fan outwards in an attempt to surround the forces waterside. Wings beating above them the twilit dragon reigned down fire in a wide arc. Argorok's fire breath scorched a path through the rank and file of Hyrule, allowing Shadow to advance with his Twili masters. In retaliation Hyrulean canon fire struck down like thunder upon the invaders.
Cutting down a Hylian knight before absorbing another's life energy, Shadow watched as canon fire sent flying a platoon of dusk mages over the edge of the lakes crater. It was then he noticed the lake had split open and swallowed the two armies whole. Shadow clenched his fists in dismay as he realized Baron Ryssdal was among them. Personally he didn't care if the man himself lived or died. He cared very much however about Simeon's promise to reward him if they win.
Shadow wasn't about to let perhaps the only chance he would get to obtain his freedom slip away. For months he had fought alongside the Twili for the sole reason of regaining his jar. For months had he been denied so because the war had dragged on. He would only be freed from their blackmail once the war was over, and this was the battle that could end it. It was time to take matters into his own hands.
Lashing his chain whips into the air Shadow swung them around the neck of the twilit dragon. Though they did nothing to scratch the creature thanks to its thick armor it did allow him to latch on. Climbing up the chain Nightingale rode upon his back and instructed the wyvern to fly away.
"What are you doing? Stick to the plan" ordered a Twili captain below.
"The plans changed. The device didn't activate, or else your army wouldn't have been on the ice. This is the baron's contingency order in case it failed."
Taking no further instructions apart from Baron Ryssdal's backup plans, Shadow and Argorok flew to the rear of the lake.
Zephyra Ryssdal, Lake Hylia (southern edge), Morning 2
"Oh my gods! Simeon!" From a Twili command post in the rear Zephyra began to hyperventilate after she watched her husband get pulled underwater. "Hold on Simeon, I'm comming to get you!" The baroness attempted to run out on to the lake, only to be stopped by a Twili officer.
"No my lady, you can't go out there. It's too dangerous. You'll only get yourself killed! There's nothing we can do. I'm sorry." Realizing panic would get her no where Zephyra tried to remain calm. She reminded herself that Simeon had far closer brushes with death before and come out alive. She could only pray that his luck would continue.
Trying to turn her mind off the subject the officer began asking questions.
"Lady Ryssdal, please tell me. Why did the tundra break open?"
"I don't know! It wasn't the thermal waterbomb that set it off. Lord Ryssdal specifically instructed me not to use it until we had faked retreat. Look..." Zephyra pulled down a large black cloth containing a man sized object. There stood a massive spherical bomb pulsing with glowing blue dusk magic. "...it's right here. I didn't even get a chance to install it under the ice."
"Is that so" said a stranger to her rear. The woman in black turned around to see Shadow Nightingale, now dismounted from the dragon that landed behind them.
"Tell me. Your device. Can it be used on land?"
"In theory. But it's never been tested. We can't even be sure it will work."
"Then there's on way to find out."
Shadow turned to the officer and gave an emotionless nod. In turn the Twili looked at Zephyra.
"We have nothing to loose. Activate the bomb. Set the timer for 1 minute 30 seconds. As soon as the countdown starts Argorok will carry the device and drop it onto the Hylian's. If this works we're all but assured victory."
"But there's no time. Simeon, we have to save him first" murmured Zephyra.
"We can save him, but not unless we can safely get into that lake. Please my lady do this for him."
Pausing a moment she then began to turn a switch on the thermal waterbomb and pulled a safety pin. "It's set. Get this thing out of here before it incarnates us!" With less than a seconds passing the officer blew out a sharp whistle.
Grabbing onto the bomb Argorok clawed the device and took to the sky. Flying over the lake Zephyra, Shadow, and the other Twili watched as the thermal waterbombs pulse changed from blue to brilliant red. Illuminating the landscape like in neon glow it caught the attention of all within Lake Hylia's vicinity. As the dragon flew over the northern ridge the fleeing Hylian's commenced their full effort to shoot it down.
They fired cannonballs, arrows, any projectile that could find. Eventually a stray shot of canon fire got lucky and snapped Argorok's slender neck. Killing the beast instantly it fell to the earth, stopping just before the Hyrulean lines. Yet the bombs glow began to burn even more intensely. In a flash of super-heated air the bomb exploded. Radiating out from its epicenter the fireball of dusk magic spread slowly in a circular pattern, engulfing anything that stood in its path.
Isaac Telmar Eastern Road from Lake Hylia, Late(r) Morning 2
Despite their earlier enmity for him, despite the notices that had once been pinned up on posts and facades across the breadth of the kingdom of Hyrule, the men and women of the Hylian army did the prudent thing and heeded his commands to begin their withdrawal. The action was made easier by the actions of the Sunrise Knight at the far side of the lake, and Isaac seized on the opportunity as the tumult drew the eyes of Twili soldiers back toward the direction they'd come.
The road from the lakeside was steep, winding, but gradually the Hylians abandoned what fortifications remained, battered as they were, and pulled back toward the heights. The fiery undead there had, apparently, been dealt with, and so the path was clear. He walked instead of taking to the air as he so wanted to do, letting himself be seen ushering the Hylians forth like a shepherd did his flock. The butt of his Glaive, which he'd not yet reverted to its standard form, smacked against the rocky earth in time with his strides.
They were so few, the Hylians who remained. The Twili had assaulted fortifications they had no business overpowering, but once again they'd wielded magic and artifice masterfully against these woefully inadequate defenders. Isaac could, in a way, admire the Twili for their advanced arms and unconventional tactics. If nothing else, they were good at inventing new methods of butchery. It was hard for him to fault them for that.
Only when most of the beleaguered force had reached the heights and clustered together, not forming ranks exactly, but gathering behind the barricades, the cannons and bow lines overlooking the lake far below, did the cries go out from their milling ranks.
"What is that!?"
"The Interlopers attack again!"
"Look! It's glowing brighter! They attack again!"
"Son of a golden bitch..." Isaac murmured to himself, before pushing forward toward the edge of the heights. The western bridge, spanning north to south across the Lanayru side of the lake, was so close Isaac could have spit on it if he'd so desired. From so high above, he could see the entirety of the lake unfolding below. The maelstrom created by the creature who called herself Umbra roared at its epicenter, not far below that bridge. Far across the riven ice to the southwest, Mytura would still be creating his distraction. Isaac almost thought he could see flashes of golden orange even from his distance.
But the things that drew his eye was, without question, the great winged beast bearing down on the Hylian position on the cliff edge, and the thing clutched in its talons that was pulsing rapidly from a bluish hue toward a sinister, glaring red. He could feel heat and energy radiating off of it as it drew nearer. He didn't know what it was; hadn't spent enough time amongst the Twili to begin to guess at their capabilities.
But he could guess.
"Someone move the main army back!" he bellowed, wondering for once if this was how Mytura felt every time he faced Isaac in war. "Archers! Artillery! Shoot that thing down!"
As bowstrings twanged and cannons erupted, he stood grimacing amongst the acrid smoke and snapping wind. He couldn't let the Twili win their war just yet. There were things he needed, and he wouldn't be thwarted before he had them.
They continued to fire, abandoning the cannons at the edge of the heights but firing as they retreated. As the argorok soared over the edge of the heights bearing its pulsating, infernal burden, Isaac saw opportunity. An errant cannonball from a rear defensive position, an earthen bulwark, struck a lucky blow to the beast's neck and brought it spiraling toward the earth.
The beast, and its burden.
"Back! Break ranks and run!"
The Hylians did just that, abandoning their bows and their cannons, abandoning their trenches and any defensive positions they'd constructed. They abandoned anything they couldn't carry, those who had the time to do so at least, and they fled east. It left Isaac and a small cluster of Hylian advance forces, already ragged from the conflict below, to face the bomb's detonation.
The power of it was enough to inspire awe. Isaac stood facing the blast wave with a lop-sided grin as the surge of fire erupted in every direction. It was breathtaking. It was utter annihilation to all within its reach.
It was also fire. Fire was his.
He threw his hands forward as the wave roared forth, the world in every direction blinded by the flash. The heat of it rolled over him, washed across and incinerated those Hylian troops gathered about him, but it made it no further. The inferno, the pressure, the debris, it all struck against Isaac's will and, bidden to come no further, roared up and around him instead. Pillars of flame whorled up into the morning sky, swirling around him, engulfing him, immolating him.
At first touch, he could feel the dusk in it, and he knew that this maneuver was going to cost him more than he'd thought. Fists clenched before him, one grasping the haft of his Glaive as though it were a shield before the destructive power, he threw all of his mastery, all of his strength against that force of raw, chaotic destruction, wishing for one moment that he had given more effort to learning to command the dusk that poisoned the flames swirling around him.
His lips curled into a rictus snarl as he felt the chaos win out. His power halted the devastation in its tracks, allowing it no further, but the cost was his flesh. He felt it searing away everything that he was, flashing skin, sinew, and muscle from the bones, before flashing the bones to ash as well.
The glare receded, the flames fizzled. The edge of the eastern heights was a blackened crater, and at the eastward lip of that crater, the winds were dying down and the ash began to settle.
As the Hylians continued to withdraw toward a safe distance, the ash that fell began to collect as though on the wind, gathering into a heap that steadily began to resemble, with each passing moment, the shape of a man.
Simeon Ryssdal, Lake Hylia (Underwater), Morning 2
Simeon's cheeks burned bright red as Umbra wraped him in warm embrace. The more he tried to regain his personal space, the more the dark mistress continued on with her antics. Despite trying to remain stoic his awkwardly uncomfortable looks were palpable to anyone present. Simeon made a strong mental note never to speak word of this to anyone. Trying to focus on more serious things what Umbra identified herself as was, to put it mildly, a bold claim.
Though the Twili worshiped the dusk and considered it to be their creator, none of the priests or mages had ever attributed it having sentience. For Umbra to be correct she would have to be a primordial god, one eons older than the age of the living universe. But none of the true gods were known to have existed past the ancient war in which the three false goddesses enslaved the cosmos for all of eternity. Never the less despite his skepticism Simeon wasn't about to risk insulting an all powerful being that just saved his life. For now he would play along and try to find out more.
"Very well then Umbra. If I may so bold as to ask, what is it that the dusk and twilight want with a mortal like me? Your actions to save me were clearly deliberate, something I'll remain forever grateful for. Is their perhaps some kind agreement you would like me or the Twili to forge with you? I'm sure we could find a way to be mutually beneficial to one another."
Lord General Grem, Morning 2, Behind the Lake Hylia Twili lines
The Sunrise Knight made his charge, culminating in the first blow of their personal conflict in the surrounding carnage. His pace increased exponentially as he ran, channeling strength from the living power of those around them, pushing through his sword all the power at his command.That deadly blade, full of life, that fabled Morning's Edge, crackled with the over-abundance of spiritual energies.
Grem stood fast.
Darrel committed full body to the attack, turning in his strike to add all the power of his run, all the strength of his body's pivot, into his strike. Brilliant bright was the blow laid upon Grem, out-striping with ease the dim light of the sun's dawning, occluded by the hazy, smoky ravages of war. The noise of it was titanic, metal and magick grinding against one another in a cacophonic scream, like unto the very rending of the soul in utmost dejected agony, denied the clemency of that precious kiss from Death herself.
The sound and sight of furious vigor itself lasted but a fleeting moment, yet in that moment it left an impression that dulled the senses. Blindness and deafness reigned over those caught in the aftermath, such that they saw not the results of Darrel's massive undertaking. To those two combatants, though, to these sole souls left sensible, the state of things was laid bare.
Grem stood fast.
And Grem laughed.
Pivoting with a jerk on his left foot, Grem snapped up with his right arm, and made introduction of his elbow to Darrel's face. That valiant knight, that man of honour and conviction, tumbled low to the mud and ice with a spurt of blood from his now indistinguishable nose. The monstrous general took but one heavy footfall forward, standing atop a foe so easily vanquished, and gazed down at the mess he had made of the man's face.
"Life and spirit," he said, laying the blade of his war-axe to Darrel's throat. "They are the strength that flows through you, Mytura. But that is all you can lay claim to this power: that through you it flows. My strength resides in my very marrow, to the deepest part of my all-being! You condescend to borrow strength...? I seize it! As a man of power should! You have an aptitude that could unlock so much. You have a gift, naturally born to you, for which I spent years, decades, striving."
With a swift stomp did Grem see to Darrel's leg, grinding away shinbone beneath a soulsteel heel. Darrel's gurgled scream of pain was the first sound to pierce the deafness of an audience with nary a notion of this bilious tragedy.
"Perhaps, in that striving, I learned the value of this gift, which you have failed so thoroughly to grasp. We are kindred. From the souls of our lessers do we buttress our own. There alone, to your detriment, do our similarities end. A shame. Perhaps, in a different world, you would be my equal, even, dare I say, surpass me. But you do to much honour to life. That which you borrow, part and parcel, from the living, I lay claim to, wholesale, from the dead."
Grem turned his war-axe as he lifted it over Darrel's writhing body. "Look around you, Sunrise Knight, if you are able. The dead outnumber the living. They always have, and they always shall, and that is why you are weak, and that is why you fail. In this alone lies the difference between us, and in this alone I have you beaten, now and always."
With a thrust he drove the pointed tip of the haft down upon Darrel's chest. Blood misted out between Darrel's lips in a cloud of red vapor as his lungs compressed under snapped ribs and shattered solar plexus. This sight was the first scowl of shape and colour to pierce the white pall of blindness over an audience with a burgeoning perception of this brutal murder.
Polaris Eridanus, Depths of Lake Hylia
A single mailed hand stretched, reaching for the shrinking pinprick of light at the lakes tumultuous surface as the weight of his armor inexorably pulled him to a watery grave.
His ears popped and as his vision blurred and darkened in the murk, a red scaled hand clasped his bracer and pulled him up, higher and higher up he went as a renewed hope of survival coursed through his being and elation soared! Thank the Goddesses, those scales! The color of blood, only one Zora that he knew of, was colored thusly.
By Hylia, the battle was won.
He was saved and the battle was won.
Through an act of magic far beyond his understanding, the water aroumd them was... Filtered? He didn't breath exactly and he dared not open his mouth, but his lungs no longer screamed for oxygen and he hadn't passed into the void. He felt relief as oxygenated blood coursed through his veins once more, replacing the tainted oxygen deprived muck of the drowned.
The General gave him a knowing smile and gestured towards the surface as the whole of the world flashed brilliant white, surely blinding all those above. One of those coal black eyes winked and, though he still held him tight, General Eridanus raised his free hand to his lips as if to share a conspiratorial secret. Polaris opened his mouth to speak and... paused, whatever he may have been about to utter fell short and he gazed off in the distance towards the far edge of the lake. The soldier attempted to twist and turn to see what it was that had captured the Generals attention, but found that the Zora held him firmly in place.
With a grimace the wizened Zora shook his head and returned his gaze to the man whom he had just rescued. It was then that the water began to boil around them and the high pitched hiss of steamed filled his ears. Electricity coursed along the length of his rigid body, causing his heart to first race, then stop, only to resume its racing at a much more frenzied pace until it exploded in his thoracic cavity.
A vermillion bouquet bloomed in his wake and the newly eviscerated soldier hung limp in the water as if his body couldn't decide whether to float to the surface or just sink and get it over with.
The pair of lightning forged makhaira burst through the lakes surface and were pulled taut as anchors which he used to slingshot himself through the blighted ice, exploding forth in an icy display of power the General landed mere feet from Grem as he readied the blow that would end the Sunrise Knight. The chains retracted and his blades morphed into one and in a single deft motion he leveled the point of Winters Tide at the Lord General.
”Tell me, is his life worth your head? I can't allow you to keep both.”
Lord General Grem, Morning 2,Lake Hylia, behind Twili Lines
In an explosion of water and blood, the Red Ice General burst from the lake to stand at the side of his fallen companion, protecting that broken man with his own famous blade.
"Tell me, is his life worth your head? I can't allow you to keep both."
Grem barked out a short laugh at the audacity of the Zora. "You can't allow me? Ha! Under what authority do you intend to stop me?"
Grem hefted his war-axe, readying for the coming fight. Let another so-called Light Warrior be stricken down, Dareel Mytura would bleed out all the same.
"Tell me," Grem said, in mimicry of this new challenger, "is his head worth your life? You won't be able to keep both."
With a scream, Polaris charged, mirroring the useless actions of Darrel only moments prior. In similar strategy, he exerted the extent of his mystical acumen to infuse Winter's Tide with a crimson sheen of icy death. At each footfall he left behind jagged prints of red ice, such was the overwhelming pressure of the power he exuded.
Grem stood fast.
Polaris' attack had less thought, less tactic, to it. It was pure strength, uninhibited by thought or worry, contemplation or concern. This was the charge of the berserker, intent to use every shred of strength to rend the flesh of his enemy with nary a passing regard for his own condition The strike struck against the Lord General was neither as brilliant nor as loud as that which Darrel made, but it left, nonetheless, and impression in the minds of observers. With a soft crackle, carmine crystals formed up around General Grem, glowing with a dull inner light.
This reprieve lasted but a moment. That dull inner light grew in intensity, an amaranthine glow that, in short order, blotted out the dawn's rays. With a squeal, the ice shattered, and shards of Red Ice, infused with deathly magicks, exploded in a ring. The first row of soldiers, who had formed a ring to watch their Lord work, fell screaming and bleeding, clutching at the offending icicle blades.
Polaris flinched at the light and the blast, to his undoing. Though easily knocking aside the Red Ice that was his to command, he was unprepared for Grem's counter-attack, a furious charge masked by the distracting shards, and try as he might to intercede Winter's Tide afore Grem's immense war-axe, the effort was made in vain. The war-axe pushed away the parry, and it was in that simple action, with a stroke of luck, that Polaris was spared unceremonious bifurcation.
The flat of Winter's Tide slammed itself against Polaris, driven by the full force of Grem's srtike. The whole of the power from Grem's charge and his swing was expressed against that icy blade, which expressed itself to Polaris arm. The scream was the loudest noise of their whole altercation as bone snapped and arm fell limp. Turning, Grem lashed out with gauntleted fist, landing a blow to the back of Polaris' head. As the Zora snapped forward, dazed and in pain, Grem's fist snapped open and closed, clasping Polaris' head fin. Turning and dropping to a knee, Grem whipped the Red Ice General wholesale through the air over his head, slamming him into the icy mud to lie, battered and broken, beside his companion.
Grem slowly regained his footing and perused the countenance of this newly vanquished foe.
"I may recall you." he said. "That red zora, lauded as hero in Hyrule. I had thought you perished long since, at the silence of reports on your movements.
"How disappointing to find you were only a weak coward, hiding from the battle all these months." He lashed out with a foot, driving the spiked toe of his boot into pitiful creature's side, breaking ribs and puncturing a lung.
Then he raised his war-axe to his shoulder as he spoke down to the fish-man. "So, then, have you decided? Is his head worth your own?"
He readied the strike that would cleave heads from both of his fallen foes.
Darrel Mytura, Lake Hylia (Behind Twili Lines), Late Morning Two
Pain. He should have felt pain. The agony of broken bones, of ruptured organs, of failure. He should have felt it all.
The blow to his face had stunned him, left him susceptible. Such force! But the crushing of his lower leg, the impact against the ice unguarded, the mighty weapon caving in his chest, those has scattered his senses, his sense of self even, to the four winds. He was not even a man anymore, he didn't think. He was some squirming thing, writhing on the ice at the feet of his conqueror. His killer.
Was this what it was to be vermin? Helpless before a titan, too weak to fight back and so the only recourse was to skitter about in the dark? Did the Enemy look at them that way? Were they all just roaches and rats, preying upon one another in shadows only to flee and hide when the lights came out?
You are more than that, Darrel.
Helen. He could barely coalesce his consciousness enough to recall his own name, or that of the Enemy, or that of the crimson scaled warrior who soon joined him upon the ice, but he remembered Helen.
Am I? I'm dead, I think, he mused in that empty place. Or I soon will be.
You're not, love. You can't be, not yet.
I can't beat him.
Again, not yet. But every moment you resist the path laid before you denies him what he wants.
He takes from the fallen. I heard him say the words.
He does. He grows fat on the souls of the dead, preying on the vanquished. Live, Darrel, and deny him your strength. Relenting will only make him more powerful.
I know you are.
I've helped make him what he is. Six months of battle, of raids and ambushes. How much of his power was fed to him by my own hand?
Irrelevant. You do the best with the knowledge you have. You're smart, and strong, and the most determined man I've ever known. Determined enough to break down the walls I hid behind when first we met. You'll help the Hylians find a way.
What if I fail?
Then you tried. None can demand any more or less of you than that. The voice was no longer just a voice, but an almost tangible warmth. A presence. It wrapped around him, insulated him, kept him from succumbing. It held him in its embrace, protecting the spark of life that remained within the shattered shell of his flesh. Cling fast to life, love. I am limited in this. So limited... But I will do what I can.
The blade, that fallen, all but forgotten blade, lay flat against the ice some distance from the twitching, convulsing hand that should have held it. Its radiance had abated in time with Darrel's own. Its steel had grown dun. Only now it sparked with new life, crackling and flashing as it rarely did but at the behest of its bearer. Now it came to life with energy on behalf of its bearer, who lay broken and prone.
The bearer was in need.
The energy built along the blade, sparks snapping and spitting off, eliciting tendrils of steam from the ice where they struck. The blade twitched. Then it shivered. Then finally, without any force to act upon it but its own and the bearer's need, a violent tremor dislodged it from where it lay and cast it skittering across the surface, past corpses lying in pools of their own blood, until it came to rest at the feet of the only other man to have borne its weight.
Take me up, Horus the Rito. This battle is lost, but you have done your duty here. Take me up; the Generals have need of your aid.
Jeskai In Chains, Lake Hylia Battle, Day 2
Jeskai was ruminating on the true intentions of Sirius and Davus, when a familiar voice entered his mind. One he knew from the link with his clan.
“Bernard?” Jeskai said it aloud at first, before adjusting back to thought speak.
“(Jeskai, there’s a lot of things happening where I am, so I’ll try to be quick. Tell me, what is happening in your location? Are you hurt?)”
“(I’m…)” Jeskai looked down at himself. “(Alive.”)
“(Okay, I’m sorry, but I have to memory wipe you now. Sirius has let this one drag on for too long.”)
“(Bernard, what do you mean memory wiped? What is going on? Why can’t I sense the clan?)”
There was hesitation in the silence that sat between Jeskai’s question and Bernard’s eventual answer.
“(...The clan has been dead for a long time now, Jeskai. They died defeating and containing a powerful undead dragon. They succeeded in subduing it and chaining it beneath Lake Hylia, but at the cost of their lives. Sirius found a way to move my consciousness into the laboratory before my death, and you survived, but the rest of the clan perished. The brothers and sisters you’ve been seeing have been echoes, memories.)”
Bernard acted like he was giving Jeskai an opening to speak, but took on a hurried tone and resumed. “(And now, I must admit I just lied. Nasty habit that Sirius gave me. Defense mechanism, social tactical advantage, but lying to you feels wrong. They all died, including you. We’ve been reviving you one at a time to try and see if the revival has common side effects, such as insanity, misguided rage, and then enacting memory wipes if things get beyond our control. Efran was the first attempt, he escaped us and is still in the world.)”
Jeskai remained calm. Perhaps it was Bernard’s influence over his mind, or perhaps some part of his mind was left untouched during the memory wipes, of which he assumed there had been several, letting the act itself come as no surprise or harm. Regardless, he had already submitted himself to his fate.
“(Was Efran really the first attempt at revival?)” Jeskai asked. Bernard hesitated again, but did reply.
“(...Of your clan, yes. The first attempted revival? No, that would be the aforementioned undead dragon. The story behind it is long and tragic but the dragon was a Zora once, named Kaimu Kotaro, later Eridanus. He’s known as the origin of the Eridanus line as it stands today, though few know it.
Jeskai’s mind had been so closely tuned to Bernard’s, he had not noticed that the shackles had released themselves from him, falling to the ground freely.
(“Bernard, my chains, what’s going on?”)
(“Your telekinetic powers Jeskai, they’ve chosen this moment to reveal themselves, but it will be short lived. The mind wipe, it will bring you back to where you were before Davus interfered. I’m sorry if this ends up creating a divide between us, but I am still just the bringer of events as Sirius’ sees them. I disobey from time to time, but his word is ultimately my action.”)
Jeskai was watching the battle by now. In the span of a few moments things had taken a critical turn for the worse, with Darrel and Polaris both down at the hands of Grem.
(“Look Jeskai, I don’t have time to properly memory wipe you right now. You really might suffer in the long term without it, but there’s nothing we can do. I can see through your eyes, see the battle. Sirius has a vested interest in Hyrule remaining relatively untainted by darkness, or at least purged of it quickly. Darrel and Polaris are crucial elements to this effort. You must save them.”)
“(Go in the lake, now!)” Jeskai complied immediatley, diving and hurtling towards the bottom of the lake through the now shattered ice. He followed further instructions from Bernard, ending up at a very specific spot on the bottom. He reached into it with one hand, and then let Bernard’s commands flow through him into whatever the strange runed device was that he now held.
Jeskai felt a jolt of energy, and the entire lakebed began to glow a deep shade of purple. The entire process lasted only a few seconds, ending with an eruption, tearing the lakebed apart and sending Jeskai into an almost instantaneous unconscious state. Whatever Bernard had made him do had sapped all his energy, leaving him asleep on the bottom of the lake.
The skeletal dragon remains of Kaimu roared to life as it burst from the lake, coming ashore and immediately thrusting itself upon Grem.
Horus and Sha'Tive, Lake Hylia (Behind Twili Lines), Morning Two
His speed betrayed his tired and shaky body, his eyes sunken from tears and stress as he glared at his opponents past his long nose. His veins looked sickly, processing the benign poison that flowed through him while he worked. Not one of the soldiers he was surrounded by took him seriously, finding his appearance pitiable and amusing; A mistake that made Horus’ job far too easy as he danced through the flurry of attacks from all angles with whistling wind adorning his movement.
A mace came swinging at his face, he would duck. A sword swinging down, he’d weave back. Attempts to grapple him were made pointless as he would respond with an explosion of confusing feathers, only to appear elsewhere in the crowd. Though he had the attention of well over a hundred Twili, it was hardly a battle; More akin to a gradual slaughter of comparatively sluggish and heavily armored men and women. Horus was simply too fast, as his presence would only be manageably noticeable when he would stop to plunge his knives into weak spots, only to zip away to recommence the determination of his position. Unlike his actions in the desert, he was fast and silent; His rabid ranting replaced by grunts of effort and ragged breath, both made irrelevant as a possible weakness by the fact that he was simply moving too quick for the source to be determined accurately.
This quick footed dance was only meant to be for so long however, as he began to slow down as time quickly passed. However, he wasn’t going to leave his job any time soon as the only distraction Darrel’s forces had. The Twili still alive had spread themselves apart, giving one enough elbow room to deal with him as his slowed pace was noticed. The whistling wind died as he came to a sudden stop in front of them, his feet just slightly sliding on the ice. Sha’Tive, who had been using Horus’ momentum to help his slaughter let go of his quiver, her arm screaming at her as she quietly popped it back into its socket.
“Sorry…” He whispered to her, his eyes scanning the group before them.
“Honestly, had worse…” Sha’Tive groaned back, adjust her shoulder as she licked her dry lips.
“I meant for this…” Horus turned to her, grabbing her by the belt of her suit.
A loud whistle rang through the air as Sha’Tive found herself sliding across the ice with uncontrollable momentum until finally coming to a clumsy stop on the muddy shores, towards Darrel’s men who had been allowed to flee. Scrambling to her feet, she recognized the intent behind the notion and made a break for it with little hesitation.
“Well, that takes care of him. No way he’s taking them all like that…” She snickered under her breath as she fled towards Darrel’s men…Barely noticing she had lost her helmet in her tumble.
Horus turned back to his opponents, his piercing gaze meeting their own.
“I’m not taking anyone with me if I have any say left in me.”
“Cute.’ A Twili chuckled as he approached, rearing his blade back, ‘Assuming they won’t join you next.”
Horus’ daggers met the soldier’s sword and throat halfway with a quiet whoosh, his hands moving faster than the Twili could see.
“Cute.’ Horus sneered, ‘That you thought it was you who had my number.”
He ran past, dismissing the soldier as they crumpled in order to meet the next. The mace that the second soldier held was only swung fast enough for the shaft to meet Horus’ shoulder as they found his daggers thrust deep under their ribs, under the breastplate they wore. Tearing his daggers outwards, Horus sheathed one as he tore the mace from the bleeding out Twili as he turned around to meet a broadsword that had been coming for the back of his head. The impact allowed the Rito to use only a little wind to slide backward as he moved his legs accordingly, his mace finding another soldier’s shin with a sickening crack. The soldier behind him, surprised by the sudden movement yelped and fell to a knee, allowing Horus to grab his head with the height difference shifted between the two. The broadsword wielding Twili was seeing red and had been going in for a thrust after he had been blocked and knocked off balance. His mighty blade only found the face and chest of the Twili Horus had thrust forward with a violent push. His shock and regret was quickly extinguished as a mace hit him in the face hard enough to snap his neck.
To avoid hitting himself with the mace, Horus let go of the mace after the impact, allowing himself to spin around and lean back. This proved the best course of action as he found himself just barely dodging a spear that was meant for his heart. Thinking fast and taking advantage of the Twili’s misplaced momentum, he grabbed the weapon’s shaft tight as his foot met the soldier’s nose. Closing his talons and gripping the helmet’s imperfections tight, he violently wrestled the soldier to the ground, using the momentum to get back up quickly. The spear now his, the Rito used it to permanently repel another soldier who was backing him up with a spear to the gut. As if this all was predetermined, he followed it up by swinging the spear around and behind him, staggering a soldier who was charging his rear as he used the most recent kill as a makeshift hammer. The speed of the movement dislodged the gored soldier and he jumped off of the spear’s previous owner to plunge the freed spear into the staggered soldier’s back, pinning him to the ice. Turning once again, Horus found a short sword just barely grazing his cheek, which made him stumble and his eyes widen as he looked back at the attacker who had forsaken their larger blade to fight him at his own level.
“Damn, I missed the throat…”
These were the soldier’s last words as an arrow found his left eye. Horus, who had slid back and denied the Twili his fair fight faintly smiled before turning around again, his hand sliding down to a lower limb. The crack of nearly unbreakable bone meeting flesh could be heard as his bow met the chin of a would-be sneak attacker as he swung upwards. Quickly returning his bow back over himself, his second dagger found itself unsheathed once again as he turned to the nearest opponent, who rose an enormous hammer high. Picking his battles, Horus used what little power he had left to push the soldier back with wind, the ice making him slide rather than stumble. The choice of disengagement proved an amusing move as the Twili committed completely to the movement, finding himself crushing an ally who had had been weaving past to help him with a juicy crunch of broken bone and gore.
Take me up, Horus the Rito. This battle is lost, but you have done your duty here. Take me up; the Generals have need of your aid.
The words rang through Horus’ head like a bell, filling him with dread where there was empty indifference and detachment; A typical state of mind he plunged himself into that allowed him to stomach the killing as of late. Suddenly, everything felt heavy. Reality caught up with him as his exhaustion washed over him and his strong posture slacked tiredly.
“…Oh no…’ He gravely whispered, fearful tears slightly wetting his eyes, ‘No, no, no…Please no…”
He looked down, his fears confirmed as he saw what he hoped he wouldn’t; Morning’s Edge, lying there without its owner.
“Shit…” He winced.
Had the sword not given him instruction, he would have given up hope and let it end. Those few words that only belonged to him and the blade were what drove him in this new low of morale. Sheathing his daggers, he quickly crouched down, taking advantage of the Twili’s momentary hesitation to attack him further. Gripping the sword with both hands, Horus was reminded of its weight. The blade, in both the realm of physical, mental and metaphorical was almost too hefty to bear for the Rito. Despite this, but a moment passed before he found the strength anyway. The Morning Edge’s power was to be respected, which Horus did as its energies flowed all throughout his form and around him. His ragged breath steadied and his aches left him, the cold even left, leaving him with the most pleasant sensation he never knew he would feel ever again; Comfort.
Horus swallowed his fear and nodded solemnly to the sword, its words and all that both implied. Roaring loudly, he declared his newfound strength as he spun the mighty sword around with a mighty swing. His emulation of the green garbed legend was adorned with an explosion of wind, knocking all who were to attack him off balance as brilliant red feathers exploded forth from his back, spreading wide to reveal his great wings. They glowed more healthily than they had in months as he flapped them hard, thrust him forth like a bullet as he wielded Morning’s Edge like it was his all along. Displaying speed that almost wasn’t his own, he was upon Grem. He barked loudly, announcing his presence with echoing authority to get the attention of the almighty General as he rose the sword up high. Averting expectation, he quickly shot down to the ground and between the General's feet, sliding through the dirt as displaced mud flew away as if he had slid through water. Grem was instead hit with winds almost akin to that of a mighty tornado as the wind deafened everyone nearby. Before anyone had realized what had happened, Grem looked up to see Horus flying skyward like a bullet with both of his prizes in tow, safely out of his reach. The Rito made sure to shoot a childish raspberry towards the Twili General just before leaving earshot and safely away from the battle, his mighty wings working hard to tow them all up the cliff that towered over everyone on the Hylian side.
Umbra, Morning 2, Underneath the Watah!
"Oh, dear, sweet thing." Umbra replied to Simeon. "All Twili are children of the Dusk. That is why I protected you. Why I save you. It's only natural for a mother, after all, isn't it? You are beneficial in that you survive, and that you survive is beneficial to you. There's mutuality!" She cupped his cheeks between palms, and firmly pressed a kiss upon his forehead, leaving behind the dusky mark of her lips to brand him. "Use the rod. I'm not angry, no, how could I be angry at such a prodigy!" She smiled at him, teeth glaring white through the shadows of her flesh, the smile of a predator, and of a mother, like a wolf, hungry to feed her cubs, sweetness and violence all in a single expression. Then she pushed him, and he began to float away. "Now, go, go. Go back. Go home. Go tell your siblings. Go shout it from the mountains! Dusk begins to crests, its Umbra now spreads over the world! Soon, so soon, soon-soon... twilight will fall on all Hyrule. Soon, so very soon, not much time now, my deary-dear-dear, my darling children will all be made free! Yes! Soon! Released of all bonds that hold them captive to mortality and death and the restrictive rules and laws and chains and shackles and the judges and juries of this world. Yes, even the Hylians, they will be released, set free, sent away, and victory will be claimed once and for all!"
As he floated up, up, away, she pulled. He was done here, and she wanted hers back. He found it, suddenly, impossible to breathe beneath the waves once more, as the duskshard began to force its way up, back up, gagging out of his throat, through his nose, his mouth. As bubbles of darkness began to blink into his vision, he burst onto the shore, hacking and coughing the last of the duskshard, which pooled like mercury between his hands and slithered back into the waters, returning to her.
"Tell them all, my sweet," were the final whispered words that he heard of her voice, coming, it seemed, from that very puddle of slurried duskshard.
Her attention on the Twili man thus expended, she snapped her head to the side. There was another prodigal son to be dealt with, the naughty boy! Disobeying, in such a hurtful way! She kicked her feet, and swam the length of water to the sinking Darknut. Broken being of anger and violence. Couldn't even fetch a single stick. Bad dog! No biscuit! As she swam, a tendril of thought reached to another vein of Dusk, beating out in the world. She caressed that other mind, so exactly the same as Taur, but different, still, very different in all the similar ways. In that tendril, she sent a single thought, a single impulse, a single imperative, a single command, a single order, a single drive. To that mind, in that one solitary thought, there came image of Twili Golem, and the two-fold impulse, all consumed in but one needy idea. Kill. Consume.
She buoyed him with duskshard water, and laid on him a stern look of disapproval.
"Where is my Reaper-man, Taur? You aren't disappointing me, are you? You should know I don't like to scold. It hurts me to be so disappointed."
She sighed. "Come, then. Step into me. You've failed, you need help and discipline."
The amorphous dusky shadow of her flesh shimmered and squirmed, and seemed to show on its surface a new world, another realm. "Walk the Warpways, Taur Dagnir. Survive, intact, and continue your hunt for me. I want that Shinigami... chase him."
Elly Shea, Lake Hylia Maelstrom, Morning 2
"I did it. I saved you. Is it enough? Did I... Did I make up for it? I'm sorry... I'm sorry, Leonora. Please, let it be enough. Make the voices stop. Please?"
Head throbbing, spinning, pain everywhere. The world wouldn't stop thrashing about in her field of view, and the man who defeated her was still suffering a delusion most foul. Whoever Leonora was, he hurt her very badly. But sympathy was hard to come by. She couldn't escape from this fate. None of it. Death was coming, or something that would make her long for it. The lake below showed no kindness to those in it, suffering immense pain. She steeled her will for what lay beneath.
"It will all be over soon. You have redeemed yourself...just let go. It's quicker than falling asleep."
She could hear the blood flowing from his leg. Her rising strike had hit its mark, and Kae would be safe. But the wedding she'd never have, the children she'd never bear, and the future she couldn't see, that all caused a few tears to flow as the ice cracked beneath her. There was no more struggling that could be done. Maybe when they hit the water he'd let go and she could shimmy free. But at this point, directions were hard. Everything was hard. The battle had raged on for hours.
Jaden, I'm sorry...
His weight shifted, and the small chunk of lake ice that kept them from the ill fates below gave way. She could hear Jaden screaming with bloodthirsty vengeance, though the echoes started to grow more and more shallow as color left her vision.
She wept for her love just as much as she wept for herself before bone-chilling dusky waters stole the breath from her lungs. Things just kept going quiet, even though she tried to struggle free from her opponent's iron clad grasp. Frozen waters made his grip just as chilly as death. Her frenzy stopped just as quick as the chill in the lake...all the while she heard Jaden's curses echoing before it all faded...
Jaden Bryseis, Lake Hylia Shoals, Morning 2
When he saw his bride to be get pulled into the depths, there really wasn't left for him to fight for other than his country and his sister. He hoped to win this war and have plenty of white-haired, wet sand-skinned little ass-kicking Sheikah babies. Whoever the psychopath was that bested her took it all, and even worse, he couldn't get vengeance. At least she took him out...
Piles of Twili corpse-bits showered from all directions as Starcaller cut swath upon swath into their lines. He could hear everyone struggling around him. Explosions rocking the clifftop. His sister trying to talk sense into a giant forest creature. It all flooded through his mind in ways he never fathomed. Sure, this Aspect allowed him to feel strength in ways that mere mortals could not fathom, but it also sent his perception and awareness off the scale. He could hear everything. Feel the swirling, chaotic rush of the battle. The glee in instantly turning his opponents into steaming piles of mush.
But he was doing his job in a way. He was keeping the masses away from the others. From Kae. From Darrel, even though he was in trouble in a big way, ditto Polaris. Then he heard the real battle get a clean break. Thrilling heroics. Horus. He came through for them all in the way he had hoped he'd eventually do. Henreth was more than just the new guy, he was positioning himself to be the asset they all needed too.
He felt something unusual pierce his mind, and he couldn't shrug it off. It was Kae.
We all must mourn. I lost a sister in battle minutes ago as you lost your bride. But if you fall in battle after our fates have been decided, you will have no honor in death. Elly would not want you to be by her side right now! And what of Polaris? Darrel? Me? Would you throw your life away in a drunken rage? Flee with us to Eldin! Get out of here before it's too late!
Sobriety wasn't returning to him by any means. The Smokewater had him pretty blitzed yet. But he was starting to feel the Defiant leaving him...he had to break free. He'd killed hundreds if not nearly a thousand within minutes. He'd sent his message. Sending a shockwave through the remaining ranks, he did an about face and took off on a full sprint toward Eldin, past everything and everyone, shouting a clear direction.
"We must withdraw! Point Omega! The Scion speaks truth!"
He kept shouting it as he ran with every bit of energy he had left. Blood covered him from head to foot, and his sword was caked with all sorts of visceral detritus. Matted brains and skull dangled from his mace. He'd lost the thing that mattered most to him. But he had to press on. He could break down again later. But now was not the time. He had to live on. Hyrule still could be saved, even if it looked impossible now.
Kae Bryseis, Lake Hylia Outskirts, Morning 2
Perhaps the Treant was able to listen. All that hurt, it was starting to peel back enough to carry a conversation toward recovery.
It wasn't the answer she was hoping to give, but she saw the glowing orbs falling from a dying Argorok spiraling to the ground.
Drawing energy into her palms, she turned and projected a field large enough to shield everyone that stood near her; it was not needed.
An unlikely savior took it all upon himself, and things began to blur as Isaac materialized from ground zero. She felt herself go limp, and was caught by the chiseled arms of her Angel.
Rushing to catch his injured Scion once again, he assured her that everything would be fine. To let him take it from there.
"Treant, we want to help you find new purpose. But it is no longer safe to speak here. We must withdraw. Follow me and Lady Bryseis to Eldin. I will speak in her stead until she recovers...because I also forgive you. It's...the right thing...we must move..."
Hovering just above the ground, Aris took flight and let another resounding shout. He may have missed quite the show, but keeping Kae safe took his attention first and foremost.
"Point Omega! As Lord Bryseis declared, so do I!"
A Righteous Beating
Polaris Eridanus, Frozen Lake Hylia, Morning of the Second
He was so obviously not himself that he was blind to it. He still wasn’t thinking straight, the journey across the Dusk Warp had changed him. Made him more brutal. Reckless. Somewhere in that Dusk forsaken hole he had come to terms with the hold Rhunerys held upon him and it had lessened him. Knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you cannot die without the express consent of she who controlled the Sands and their many functions.
That knowledge, as much as the Warp, as much as the millennia of needling by Fulmen, as much as anything really had broken him. With that recklessness came a stupidity in his once fluid fighting style. Where in the past he made a dance of each battle, he now found himself charging an insurmountable foe head on. Grem’s outline, or Polaris’ vision one, swam and blurred as the Crimson General charged. He spoke no words. Only attacked with sheer force of will. Pure violence. With Grem momentarily immobilized, that idiocy that accompanied his reckless abandon reared its ugly head and Polaris rested on his laurels, a premature respite was all the Lord needed and it was in short order that he dispatched Polaris.
He lay there, body screaming in agony, but still he did not speak. As Grem towered over him, Polaris found himself transfixed by the armor which the Interloper wore. Viewed through his Eye up close every surface of the armor writhed and smoked and Polaris was taken aback at the scene before him.
"So, then, have you decided? Is his head worth your own?" Grem taunted.
Struggling against the weight of the past, he wouldn’t be able to fight the memories much longer. And thus it was with great determination that Polaris raised his head and locked eyes with the Lord General. And laughed in his face.
”For all of your might Lord Grem, you are still a fool.” Polaris winced and plunged into a coughing fit that ended with him spitting a congealed mass of his own blood intermingled with Red Ice and bits of whatever Grems boot had knocked loose.
”Your reports are incomplete if you think to kill me. I’ve walked the Circles of Hell, traversed your precious Dusk Warp, looked death himself in the eye and found him wanting. Attempt to claim my life if it suits you, you’ll meet only failure.”
A dry desert wind, seemingly from nowhere blew across the lake and Polaris sighed almost contentedly before all went black.
”Whatever you do, stay out of the water. We stand at the meeting of the rivers Styx and Lethe. Two of the main rivers of the underworld, neither waterway bends to my will, down here they have but one master. He resides below. The Styx, source of the most binding of oathes, any oath sworn on this river is an unbreakable vow. Bathing yourself in the waters is said to provide near invincibility, the only weak point being that which binds you to the world of the living. Of course, most who attempt it burst into hellfire or, have too weak an anchor and end up dragged down to the depths by the hateful souls that inhabit the river. The Lethe, well, let’s just steer clear of that one altogether. They call it the river of forgetfulness for a reason.”
At a loss for as to how they were to proceed, Polaris strode to the waters edge and cursed. He didn’t have to look back to know that the group was coming up behind him, ”You really have no mastery of the rivers?”
It was Elly, Polaris looked over his shoulder at her and offered a hollow smile, ”None.”
Something like determination, or perhaps resignation, passed across her face, ”Okay then.” Bewildered, Polaris and the rest watched as she brought her fingers to her lips and unleashed a shrill, piercing whistle. The ferryman on the opposite side of the Styx nodded, and pushed off from the bank, guiding his craft across the turbulent, inferi infested waters with a long pole which he used to push off of the river bottom.
The craft slid silently onto the bank and the tall hooded ferryman held out a bony palm expectantly. Elly placed a tattered leather pouch in his hand. The ferry master hefted the pouch, tossing it up and down a time or two, weighing it’s worth. The clink of the blackened coins inside oddly loud next to the violent silence of the waters. Satisfied, the ferryman bowed his head and stepped aside, allowing Elly and Polaris to board his vessel, but was quick to bar the way when Jaden and Elizabeth tried to join them.
”No room for de living on mah boat.”
Jaden and Beth looked affronted as Kharon pushed off from the banks and set course across the boundary line of Hades.
Looking over the ferry’s edge, they saw the ghostly white faces of inferi floating along under them, inanimate save for the hunger in their eyes that pierced ever the silvery blackness of the Styx. Souls, literal, ethereal souls, floated by and were lost in the current, stirred up from the bottom like silt as they crossed the river in complete silence. No sound came from either the water or the oarman and his ferry. The deafening roar of utter silence enveloped all as they crossed the river of hate making their way to a war with Sourbenetons Reaver.
Polaris woke to an explosion of feathers as he was lifted off of the ground and found himself flapping away from Grem. He had no eyes for the Lord General.
Only his Faces.
Taur Dagnir, Lake Hylia, Morning of the Second
Before what the resounding boom from the distance was even began to register with Taur, it was too late. Shinigami made his exit and an smoking black iron sphere struck the Kingslayer square in the breast plate. He roared. Not in pain, but in frustration. Anger. Embarrassment. He had been tasked by the Divine Feminine. The Dusk Mother herself had given him this task and he had been outsmarted by a Hylian worm.
The force of the blast sent him stumbling backwards, so intent was he on his own failure that he failed to notice the icy Dusk Waters that awaited him. Moments before he was once more consumed by the roiling torrent he sent the cannonball hurtling back from whence it came with a flick of his mind, hoping that it struck something true. Anything. This thought alone warmed him as he sunk below the surface of the lake.
Resigned to finally meet death, he found his demise halted by She whom he had failed. Her mercy overwhelmed him.
"Where is my Reaper-man, Taur? You aren't disappointing me, are you? You should know I don't like to scold. It hurts me to be so disappointed."
She sighed. "Come, then. Step into me. You've failed, you need help and discipline."
The amorphous dusky shadow of her flesh shimmered and squirmed, and seemed to show on its surface a new world, another realm. "Walk the Warpways, Taur Dagnir. Survive, intact, and continue your hunt for me. I want that Shinigami... chase him."
It was with a grim determination not to mess up again that he walked in the waters and strode through Her being into a place wholly different. A flash of darkness and his journey through the Dungeon of the Warpways was begun. He hadn’t expected that it would place him here, in the ramshackle cottage on the edge of a now nameless kingdom both he and time had tried to forget.
Jeskai, Dreaming at the Lake’s Bottom, Day 2
“(Bernard, why did you use me...why…)”
“(I’m sorry Jeskai, but my job is maintain order. The risk of no intervention at this battle was too great.”)
“(Why can’t I move?”)
“(You’re asleep, Jeskai. You’ll be free to move again at nightfall, the rune process is very intense and took all of your energy. When you wake up, the mindwipe will be complete. I’m sorry it had to be this way. Maybe someday we will find a way to make the mind wipes unnecessary.
Simeon Ryssdal, Lake Hylia, Morning 2
Coughing wildly onshore Simeon thanked the heavens when the last clump of clay left his lungs. Breathing again under his own power he listened to Umbra giving out a final message to spread her word. The question was how he would go about that? He wasn't sure if her claims of godhood could even be authenticated. If he said anything contradicting Twili orthodoxy he could easily be branded a heretic.
Then again dusk worship was more open to personal interpretation than most faiths allowed. To the Twili their religion was a science based on facts, not simply blind devotion like the Hylian's practiced. Twili lore was filled with fallen gods and primordial magic. He was sure strange happenings like this weren't altogether rare. Speaking of strange happenings Simeon did a double-take as he realized he wasn't the only thing to float out of the lake.
On the craggy shoreline before him raged the remains of a skeletal dragon. Even worse he discovered it attacking the leader of the Twili army. While Simeon doubted Lord Grem could be so easily defeated he wasn't about to let the general take a single hit on his watch. Feeling the burn of morning sunlight in his dark tired eyes, the Baron flung a whip of translucent light out from his rod's tip.
Snapping at the dragon like a lion tamer the attack did little but gain the creatures attention. As it spun to face him Simeon slashed his whip from left to right only to have the dragon catch it with sharpened fangs. Yanking on the rope of plasma seemed to deal no damage as the dragon began chewing it down. But where the Zora turned undead dragon had abundant strength it lacked strategy.
Refocusing the rods power Simeon had the light whip slither further into what was left of the monsters innards. Swiftly it began to wrap itself around the ribcage like a snake constricting prey. As the beast charged the Twili dozens of tendrils shot out from the dragon's chest and planted themselves firmly into the ground. Pulling down hard Simeon ensnared the dragon like a giant fly trapped in a web.
Twisting and rolling against the sunbeam chains it took all of Baron Ryssdal's might to keep Kaimu's corpse from escaping. He could feel his grip slipping against the strain of several tons. Some of the tendrils began to snap as the dragon clawed it's way towards him. Knowing it would soon give way Simeon called upon the mark of Umbra and began to draw in half-light energy.
Instantly he experienced a surge of power as the light chains burned crimson red. Whatever effort the dragon called forth was to no avail as Simeon's tangled tendrils began to crush bone and snap marrow.
"Yes, there's no doubt left" Simeon thought to himself. "Umbra is what she claimed to be. Such power she's given me. She's freed me from the chains, threads of my own creation that I never did realize existed. To think I thought that all that existed was all that could exist, for how could it when spiteful passion transcends reality. I feel like happy eels loving mother. Ha! Are those fluffy images of beginning to colors?"
As the monster thrashed around the Twili experienced the world around him blur. He felt his mouth drooling as blood dripped out his nostrils. Simeon realized he was quite literally tripping on his own power. Dusk mineral from the mark on his head must have started seeping into his brain cells. Insanity was starting to take hold as his thoughts lost all reason. Or was this clarity?
His heart told him to let go the world's harsh logic and embrace the sweet grip madness promised. It was like a potent narcotic. He knew this power could kill him, but in the moment he didn't care. He wouldn't let go until the job was finished. Either the dragon would be overwhelmed or Simeon would be overwhelmed by madness.
Henreth, Lake Hylia's Southwest Overlook, day Two
Henreth charged up his sword beam, ready to take on the dragon rider. He took careful aim and fired, intending to knock off the Twili. Taking out the person controlling the dragon would help lessen the threat, but once out of control, the dragon is a wild card, free to continue attacking or flee.
The first attack missed. The second was dodged. The third strike hit the dragon on the wing. The beast came roaring to a stop as it registered the pain. It shot a burst of flames that Henreth scarcely managed to dodge. He then barely had the time to charge another beam and fire it. The beam couldn't have struck sooner as it had managed to stop the dragon from releasing more fire. The dragon took to the ground, landing and proceeded to charge forward with it's head extended like a battering ram. Henreth rolled to the side, even after ducking, the wing was an inch from hitting his head. Henreth was now able to see that the rider's back was more vulnerable than it's front. Before the creature was able to recover, he charged yet another beam, and fired.
The dragon turned around just in time to take the attack to the face. It started thrashing wildly and blindly from the laceration on it's face. Henreth took this opportunity to climb onto the animal. When close enough, he grabbed the Twili and attempted to wrestle him off. This, combined with the dragon's motions, caused the both of them to be thrown off to the ground. They both got up, the Twili let out a curse as he unsheathed a short sword. The Twili and Henreth stood their grounds, waiting for the other to make the first move. Henreth was momentarily distracted by the dragon calming down; this was the what the Twili sought. He charged forward, with all intention of cutting his Hylian enemy to ribbons. Unfortunately, the wyvern had similar plans. It shot out flames just as he got close. Henreth dodged out of the way just in time for the Twili to be roasted alive, Not even having time to scream.
The Dragon stopped, as if shocked by what it had done. It stared down at the bones formerly known as its rider. It only had a moment before it was hit by a barrage of beam to its face, each hit spilling more blood. When the attack ended the wyvern lost so much blood that it couldn't find the energy to stand. The beast fell to the ground, closing its eyes.
Isaac Kinslayer, Lake Hylia (Eastern Overlook), Day Two
Consciousness flooded in, as though he awoke from a dreamless sleep wherein there were no somnolent visions but deep darkness like a veil drawn across reality, behind which he could feel only the powerful heat of the fires that awaited him.
In the emptiness, those fires beckoned, reaching through the black in tongues and tendrils, embracing him in their scourging caress. He had no physical self, but they burned anyway, burned deeper than flesh. They immolated his soul, engulfing him, embracing and joining with him. They had no mind or awareness of their own, as once they would have in the times when he'd fallen and been bidden once more to rise. This was not the embrace of a master to his slave, but of a primordial to his element. The other mind was no more.
But that black non-reality, that void between life and death where the fires found him, could not last. It faded to gray, and then the light filtered in. The world came back around him, and he was a whole form again, a thing of flesh formed beneath a mantle of settled ash. Gradually thoughts, real thoughts, began to take shape in his mind. He became aware not only of being in the world once more, but of himself.
Using muscles that were old made new once more, he forced himself up out of the ash to hands and knees. His palms against the torn rock beneath the ash, he felt something foreign pressed beneath his right hand. His fingers closed around it; a hilt. Grasping it, he forced himself to stand, ash falling away from him with every motion. As he encountered the cool wind, he realized that his flesh prickled with a heat unlike that which it had burned with before. He felt different, and he perceived things around him differently.
Flesh that had once been smooth save for its scars now had taken on a faint grayish cast and felt different when he moved. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be vaguely scaled, not unlike the serpent still writhing in fire across his exposed abdomen. He blinked, finding that his living mind was still shaking off the slumber of temporary. His eyes... He blinked again. The land around him was the same Hyrule as it had been before, albeit more scarred by battle than it had been in many years. The way he saw it, though... He could see the wells of heat rising up into the air, and perceive visually the frigidity on the wind. He could feel the currents of hot and cold around him in a world shaded reddish in the corners of his vision.
Isaac knew in that moment that if he had had a looking glass to gaze upon, that in this moment the iris and sclera of his eyes would have been wholly taken by an infernal orange, with his pupils a serpentine slit of black to slash through the blaze. It would be permanent now. He wasn't sure how he knew, but he understood that this most recent rising had changed him in fundamental ways. He could feel power, hot and volatile, burning in his chest like never before.
"Well shit," he mused to himself, finding his voice strange, almost alien to his own ears, as though his ears too heard things in a way they hadn't before.
Uncannily, he had risen from the ash with his trousers and boots intact, boots of drakeskin that now didn't seem so different from the exposed flesh of his naked upper body. He didn't stop to wonder how that had happened; he had long since stopped asking questions about the mechanism behind immortality. He craned his neck, casting his eyes over the lip of the crater to see that the Hylian army had withdrawn east, taking the chance he'd given them. To the west, he could still hear sounds of battle, but they were dimmer even with his new senses. The battle was well and truly over, save for a few stragglers.
He took a step forward from the ash pile as more sifted from him. One boot pushing aside a pile of ash revealed a stiff-fabric collar beneath that ash, and he reached down with his free hand to snatch up his coat, miraculously undamaged. Bereft of his shirt, he threw the coat around his otherwise naked torso, feeling the familiar weight of it settled over his shoulders, though the scaled flesh chaffed somewhat beneath it. He strode on unsteady legs to the escarpment overlooking the lake below. There, chaos unfolded. The Hylians routed, the lake riven by Dusk power that Isaac could perceive stronger now than before. The Twili would advance unhindered now. The war would begin in earnest and end in fire.
Fire was his now, well and truly.
"We must withdraw! Point Omega! The Scion speaks truth!"
So there are Lights still here yet? At least now they seem to get the point.
He stood there at the edge of the crater, overlooking the ice-field of corpses, Hylian and Twili mingling in their death throes, the wind snapping at the frayed, blood-stained hem of his coat, and waited for those heroes still withdrawing.
Things were getting interesting.
Ella Huntley, Lake Hylia, Morning 2
When Jaden began to speak Ella was expecting him to call out the two faced Zora and her outlandish lies. She expected he'd help take down Stella with his usual no mercy style bravado. What she didn't expect was for Jaden to prove Stella was right.
"You speak of days long gone. This is 2108, ladies! You're lucky I speak your dialect, otherwise we'd all be trying to kill each other!"
Ella turned to his direction to find him proclaiming this in a perfectly ordinary fashion. And as soon as he was sure the fight was over Jaden ran off like nothing ever happened. There was no confusion over otherworldly happenings, no grandiose revelation about the calendar date. Though he certainly didn't understand the implications Jaden may as well have said to her "you crapped out on your entire future, and everyone you know is long dead, but hey no be deal".
Yet to her there could be no bigger deal. Her sole reason for fighting was to take down Bryce, protect her father, and enjoy the rest of her life with him living well off the bounty. Being sent to the distant the future meant all of that was scuttled. She had failed.
"See" said Stella easing into a less combative stance.
"Oh hell no. No, not now! Not again!"
Holding back the tears now welling in her eyes Ella suddenly remembered time travel was not a foreign experience to her. Just days, or perhaps now centuries ago she had been flung into ancient history along with the castle guard Henrietta Arand. The means through which she traversed the flow of time was as unclear to her back then as it was now.
However Henrietta had offered a theory. There was but one person who had the means and the motivation to remove Ella as far from her native time period as possible. Elizabeth Bryce, the mythical cult leader and outlaw, must have somehow cursed her back in the castle dungeons. Despair overtaking her Ella's voice lowered to muttered anger.
"Damn you Elizabeth. May the goddesses damn you to hell for what you've done. I swear on Din's name I'll never forgive you!"
Stella Delphinus/Lake Hylia/Morning 2
Ella seemed to be talking the situation badly. Quite frankly Stella was in the same boat. The two had nothing in common except for being as far as they knew the last relics remaining from their era. Yet they would each have to resolve their problems later. The battle wasn't about to pause and let them to reflect upon the time jump. The Twili had gained the upper hand and we're now exploiting the Hylian withdrawal.
"Save with your existential crisis for another time. We've got Twili incoming. Fall back with the others. I'll cover you."
Ella didn't waste time complying ran off wordlessly with the others. Stella hit back with her halberd and once again entered combat. Though she didn't land any killing blows the Sea Zora managed to buy the time for the Hyrulean warriors to retreat. Now that they were safely away it was her turn. Felling a Twili Stella caught an opening through their lines and escaped northward.
Stella Delphinus/Hyrule Field (Western Edge)/Day 2
Panting on the verge of exhaustion Stella turned around to find they had lost her. The pursuing Twili had either been outrun or had decided not to stray away from the battle. Stella now found herself somewhere on the lifeless western fringes of Hyrule Field. It was an eerie experience running out of a screaming mass of humanity only confront the complete silence of Hyrule Fields emptiness. Falling to her hands and knees Stella turned over and laid her back against the cold craggy ground.
Closing her eyes Stella caught her breath and began pondering her options. She was out of immediate danger for now. Yet now had nowhere left to go, no objective or knowledge as to what she should do. She didn't know which side she could trust and now both sides had reason to consider her the enemy. She came to the conclusion her only chance was to find Polaris and try and figure out how he traveled through time to the Epoch Era. After a few minutes of rest Stella got back up on her feet only to find she was no longer alone.
While she laid still a retreating Hylian battalion had caught up with her. Stella found herself sounded by columns of northward marching soldiers. At first sight she caught the attention from some of the Hylian knights. Most paid her little attention as they continued on. Perhaps Polaris was right that the Humans of this millennia didn't consider the Zora their enemy. Yet this brief detente didn't last as one of the soldiers recognized Stella from the previous battle.
"That’s her. She's the traitor that cut off Yuri's legs. Stop her!"
The now suddenly hostile army force suddenly surrounded her and turned their weapons towards Stella. She had faced down long odds before, but none long as this. There was no path to flee and no way she could fight that many alone. There was only one option that offered the possibility of her surviving.
"Wait, this is all just a misunderstanding! I'm not with the Twili anymore. I surrender."
Gently setting down her weapons Stella slowly backed up and held her hands above her head. A pair of Hylian men grabbed her firmly on both arms with sharp metal gauntlets and escorted their captive away.
Senshi, Lake Hylia, Day 2
Senshi breathed heavily in a desperate attempt to catch his breathe after narrowly escaping Taur's assault. Even though the Darknut had seemingly retreated for now he knew it would only be a temporary respite. Whoever, or whatever had sent Taur after him wasn't about to give up, and sooner or later he'd have to deal with that.
For the moment though, he had other things to worry about. He had just caught a glimpse of Jaden departing the battlefield as well as both Darrel and Polaris being carried out just a few moments later. More concerning was the explosion he saw come from the Hylian Encampment. His gut told him that Misha got away, but he still couldn't help but worry.
Despite his exhaustion he managed to levitate himself to the top of the cliff and set down next to the first familiar face he saw, Kinslayer. "The damage here is minimal, I'm going to go out on a limb and say we all have you to thank for that, and this new look of yours probably has something to do with it."
He paused for a moment considering how to say what he needed to, but in the end he felt being blunt would be the best course of action, "I'm going to regroup with the other Light Warriors. It's probably best if you join but I think Eridanus unconscious and I doubt my vouching with you will carry much weight with some of them so there could be some trouble with that. On other hand I think Mytura is out for the moment as well, so at least that conflict will be postponed. Either way it's your call. I don't pretend to know what your agenda, so I can't really say what's best for anyone."
He stopped to pick up a spear he saw laying next to a fallen Hylian Soldier and a battle axe belong to a Twili that had fallen beside him. He started to walk towards to path away from the lake before stopping to say one last thing to Isaac in case they did end up parting ways here. "And by the way, thank you."
Phoenix, Hylian Main Base, Afternoon 2
"I regret to report Lake Hylian as fallen. Unfortunately the first reinforcements arrived too late to effect the outcome. The second wave hadn't even shown up before the main force was had to retreat," General Koseki reported.
"Well of course they didn't!" General Gendai loudly proclaimed. "We spent so much debating whether nor not to send our forces in that there was no way the majority of them could make it in time. Had we mobilized when I suggested, we wouldn't have been defeated."
Koseki loudly fired back against Gendai accusations, "Had our forces made it there things would have been worse. Our defeat was because the Twili had some kind of super bomb and the ice somehow broke. Quite frankly we're still not sure how anyone survived at all."
"Well I suggest we find out how that bomb was stopped as soon as possible. I want a counter measure in place in case they have anymore," General Blade declared. "In the mean time, Koseki have the second enforcement wave reorganize into a series of garrisons in Hyrule Field. Have them do what they can to slow the Twili advance and support the retreating forces. I'd prefer the survivors to not be routed on their way home. Maybe once they can tell us exactly what happened we can learn something that will keep this battle from being a total loss."
Before Blade can issue any other orders Phoenix finally decided to speak up, "I wonder, why are you all so insistent in calling this a defeat?"
The other officers in the room were at a loss for words. Most just look at the Defense Minister with a dumbfounded expression, wondering if he'd suddenly become senile. Blade alone showed any sign of intrigue.
Phoenix continues, "You all heard Admiral Starboard's report, South Port has been retaken, and the enemy reinforcements that were headed there have been wiped out. We should able to recapture Ordon and secure Faron in a few days. All thanks to the distraction provided by the Lake Battle. A distraction from which your initial report claims, cost us less than a battalion in casualties, and merely gained them a lake that they still need to get their army across. Additionally, with the ice finally broken we can expect the snow to start soon. Snow, which when combine with our garrisoning forces should delay the enemy advance until we've reclaimed the southern providences and attack them from both sides. Generals, this has been our biggest strategic victory this entire war. Now we must simply continue with the plans we have put in place and we will be able to grasp victory in weeks if not days. The only other thing to worry about now is that new bomb, which we now know exists."
With his piece said Phoenix rose slowly his seat and left the room to leave the Generals to their planning. He returned to his personal chamber to rest his aging body is more comfortable accommodations then the war room supplied.
He sat in musing over a small crystal he that had been given to him by Kae Brysies at the start of the war. A crystal he was told had enough explosive force to decimate an army. He'd spent the past 6 months questioning his own decision not to use it when castle was under siege but he was now seeing his gamble pay off. "You've shown your trump card to soon Grem. I wonder, do you have others or did you simply think we'd already exhausted everything we had?
"What is is?" Phoenix asked the figure he noticed waiting in a shadow in the corner of his room.
A Black Ops Agent emerged from the shadows and presented Phoenix was a stack of papers "Lord Phoenix, forgive the intrusion but we were uncertain as to what else to do with these."
The Agent continued as Phoenix began to read the documents, "They were found by the agent you had attached the Forest Special Operation Platoon. He believed they described human experimentation so took them to be place in the sealed archive. Unfortunately with the Grand Librarian now deceased and the Castle out of reach we don't know what do to with such documents at the moment."
A look of shock and terror consumed Phoenix's face, "Where did he find these?"
The agent replied not sure what to make of his leader's sudden panic "Some structure that appear in Faron, we believe it belonged to-"
"I can damn well tell who it belong!" Phoenix yelled, cutting the agent off. "Where in the structure? A lab, a cell? What else was there? Were any of the subject these papers talk about there?"
"I-I'm not completely sure, Agent Rick is still in the field with his assigned unit," the agent stammered. "He was only able to pass off a partial report. We just know that it was in a room with "empty glass cages," and all other documents were destroyed.
"I should have known better then to attached a new agent to Ayala's unit. That someone with experience would realized what this was as told her immediately. As you should have as well. Far too many of you haven't been paying attention to the Grand Librarians lectures." Phoenix barked, rebuking the young agent.
"My Lord, I don't understand?" the Agent replied.
Phoenix was ready to jump out of his chair and run out of the room before his old bones reminded him it was best to send the agent as a messenger instead. "I don't have time to explain it all to you. Go find Seishi Ma and bring him here. We have something far worse than the Twili to deal with now.
Lord Grem, Late Morning 2, Lake Hylia
In a flash and flurry, things changed, to Grem's great ire. A streaking blur of white exploded past him as his waraxe fell, and where once two heads would be rolling away, now the blade of his monstrous weapon had only snapped in twain a brace of white feathers. Then a zephyr the likes of which he had never felt burst against his back and he stumbled, saved from an embarrassing tumble in the mud only by the prop of his axe.
A scowling grimace shattered onto his face.
"What the hell was that?"
His confusion had no time to brew, it would have to fester until later, for almost at the same moment a devilish construct of bone tore itself free of the Lake's surface. He tore his axe free from the shore with a wet squelch, ready to face this new Hylian distraction, when the unexpected happened. Baron Ryssdal, hilariously, came to his rescue. The amusement of the situation was lost as Simeon proved himself a surprising match for the giant beast. Something had changed in the Baron since Grem had last met him. It was a change the Lord General liked.
Simeon bound the thing wholesale in tendrils of... not quite Dusk, but something similar. With immense effort, he bore the thing to the ground. It was clear, from the look and sound of him, that a great toll was being torn from his body for this feat. Grem decided it was nigh time to intervene.
He strode forward, with a congratulatory nod at Simeon, and strike the beast's skull firm with the flat of his waraxe. Spiderweb cracks blossomed through the skull, and it ceased its struggles against Simeon's net of dark light. Simeon released his hold on his magics (the beast slipped back into the waves of Lake Hylia as the tendrils disappeared) and lost his legs. In a surprising show of compassion, Lord General Grem caught Baron Ryysdal before the latter could faceplant in the mud.
As he held Simeon erect, he spoke to him.
"Well done, Baron. Very well done. Your plan for the lake seems to have succeeded beyond my expectations, despite certain setbacks. The Main Army can now advance. You have proven yourself very capable. Quite capable indeed..."
By this point Simeon had regained the full use of his legs, and Grem let him have back his balance.
"Ordon, I presume, is similarly well handled? Yes, of course... And it is yours, consider the proclamation signed already, Count Simeon Ryssdal, after this showing. Yes, and perhaps even more... there will need to be a ruler of Hyrule, of course, under the Twili Empire... But here I am lost in thought. Hyrule still has a King of her own, does she not?"
Grem looked to the east as he presented this question, looking toward the reported final bastion of Hyrule's Royal Family. "Yes. Well, we'll put an end to that..."
He turned back to Simeon, resting a heavy gauntleted hand on his shoulder. "In the meantime, you have proven yourself competent. You are now my Second-in-Command here in Hyrule. You've broken this damnable six-month stalemate, now use that same ingenuity to end the war. Take the army."
Grem's grip tightened on Simeon's shoulder, firm and painful. "Crush Eldin. Kill them all. Kill their King, and you'll be Duke of this land, at the least! Kill their families. Kill everyone you find. All of them! I want Hyrule wiped from this world! I want Hylian blood to be thing of myth and legend!"
And then, he released Count Ryssdal's shoulder. "And I want the Scion of Nayru, alone to be alive, in my hands."
He turned after these deathly proclamations and began to leave. "Make your plans, General, my commanders are at your command. I await news of your success, and the delivery of the Scion, in Ordon. I trust your house is prepared for an honoured guest."
Baron Simeon Ryssdal, Lake Hylia, Morning 2
Simeon began to feel immense sickness as he reached the pinnacle of his power. Although coherent language no longer echoed through his mind, something deep inside told him to stop. Perhaps it was the thought of dyeing, or fear of losing his free will to the power of dusk. Either way Simeon let go and collapsed in what felt like slow motion.
He had given his all and had nothing left to offer. Had the dragon been left alive he surely would have witnessed his final moments. Instead Simeon’s fall was stopped by the most highly respected General in the Twili’s voluminous history. Though his whole being was on the verge of falling apart Simeon stood straight in attention and gave a proud salute.
"Well done, Baron. Very well done. Your plan for the lake seems to have succeeded beyond my expectations, despite certain setbacks. The Main Army can now advance. You have proven yourself very capable. Quite capable indeed..."
Count Simeon Ryssdal, Lake Hylia, Day 2
Struggling not to lose his composure as the effects of Umbra’s magic began to withdraw Simeon took a moment to comprehend the magnitude of what Grem had said. Since the earliest days of his childhood Simeon had searched for a purpose in life, a cause that would give him a name worth leaving behind. How could he ask for any greater purpose than the one he was now tasked with?
It was too much to take in. Simeon felt as though his entire existence until now was but preparation for this moment. In a single hour he had become the current ruler of Ordon, the future Duke of Hyrule, and the second most powerful Twili in existence. If he succeeds with Grem’s plans to conquer Hyrule what a future awaited him and his subjects.
Of course Simeon realized the land he stood in would no longer be Hyrule if he were to succeed. The lord’s orders to kill indiscriminately put the newly appointed field marshal ill at ease. There was no honor to be found in spilling blood of those who can’t fight back. Nevertheless Simeon couldn’t let his soft heartedness get in the way of a pragmatic victory that would save countless lives in the end.
For the sake of those oppressed by the goddesses Hyrule would fall, no matter how brutal it was. Though he knew Eldin would see death on an unimaginable scale he wasn’t about to question a leader who’s a thousand fold smarter and more experienced than him. For now Simeon could chalk up Grem’s statements to jingoistic hyperbole. Pausing to choose his words carefully the count kneeled before his lord and spoke up.
"My Lord, I am forever honored by the trust you have placed in me. Unworthy as I am to accept, know that I do not take lightly the responsibility you’ve bestowed upon me. I am completely and cognitively aware of how immense the challenge is that awaits us. With every fiber of my being I shall rise to meet these challenges."
"From this second on I will devote all my waking moments to ensuring us victory. On my honor I will see your commands through to the last letter. And to my dying breath I shall bring this war to a decisive end. That I promise you."
Rising back up to look Grem in the face Simeon smiled in excitement as he added in one final statement.
"On the subject of Scion I am delighted to be given such a task. Me and the countess have already studied the Scion extensively in the event she returned. Rest assured I already have a contingency plan in place for her for an occasion such as this. With some slight modifications I should be able to get it to work per your orders."
"I regret being unable to face the Scion of Nayru in single combat this past battle. Now is the chance to face an opponent quite worthy of my time."
Stella Delphinus, Night 2
After what felt like an eternity of unconscious Stella awoke from the cold. Quite literally she discovered herself in the midst of uncontrollable shivering. Sprawled out on frost chilled stone Stella was once again in a cavernous jail cell. But where as the Twili or Hylian dungeons brought a modicum of protection from the elements this one bore the blunt of winters bitterness. A haze of dull white mist shrouded the room, it's consistency thick enough to taste the frozen wetness.
In her finned ears the howl of arctic gales echoed from the world outside. Judging by the landscape Stella concluded she had to be north somewhere in the Snowpeak Mountains. The cell contained little but a tattered useless blanket, a bucket of ice water, and a rotting dried up fish to eat. Outside sat the brown coated figure looking in through frozen bars. The face of the woman still obscured by shadow, it was clear she had been watching Stella for quite some time.
"Comfortable" she asked in a plain spoken tone. Stella scuffed back.
"Well if you consider this comfort I hate to imagine what your definition of uncomfortable must be. Who are you and what do you want with me?"
"Depends" replied the woman. "Perhaps there's a use for you, but that remains to be seen. The question we need be asking is who are you exactly? A terrorist, a traitor... or perhaps something else entirely? Let's keep this short. Your responsible for several of my country men's death. Typically you would be executed for that. You still might. However your getting the benefit of a doubt for one reason. The Red Ice General."
"In truth no one believed your story about being Eridanus' captain. Polaris was presumed dead six months ago and our army has no records of you. As luck would have it however Eridanus actually showed up hours after you told us about finding him. Either your telling the truth or we've hit a remarkable coidence. Let's find out which. Tell me everything you know about Polaris. Chose your words carefully. You won't get a second chance at this."
"I hope you don't mind long explanations then" said Stella.
"Polaris is an enigma to me, more legend than actual person. It was nine days ago he first appeared in Zora's Domain. King Tiburon discovered this red scaled Zora unconscious at the bottom of a waterfall. How he wound up there I don't know, but when he awoke he claimed to be a long exiled warrior. Rumors spread he came through time from the distant past, or the distant future. Frankly I always assumed he was full of shit."
"Anyway despite my warnings that he could be lying Polaris somehow gained the favor of Tiburon. He was immediately given a high priority mission with two other recruits to test his loyalty. Perfect timing too as he managed to save Prince Mako at the Battle of Disharmony. It was after that that he was given my..."
Stella paused for a moment. "What I mean to say is Polaris was given temporary command of the entire Zora army to fight the Hylian's. I was chosen to be his captain. After he introduced himself we fought together for maybe a day and a half at the most."
"Zora's Domain came under attack that night. I forget a lot of what happened in that mess. I do remember Polaris being just as good of a fighter as he claimed. Oh and Kaimu said something about Polaris being his great great grandson somehow. The last thing we did that night was try and protect King Tiburon after his throne room came under attack.
We got separated and I was just about to save Tiburon when...Oh No!" Suddenly a look of utmost terror appeared on Stella's face, as if she had missed out on histories most pivotal moment. "Tiburon! I completely forgot about Tiburon! Please, you have to tell me what happened! Did he die? I mean, I know he must be dead by now, but did he die back then? Like, of unnatural causes?"
The lady in the fur coat looked perplexed at Stella's sudden outburst. "King Tiburon died of poisoning in the year 1200."
"FUCK" Stella screamed at the top of her lungs. Kicking over the water bucket she ran into the corner and fell to her knees. Her pride now gone she covered her face and began crying. When Stella's father Castor died his last words were for her to carry on his legacy and become a great leader. And how did she fulfill that promise? By failing her subordinates, by failing her king, by failing her entire nation.
For 21 years Stella had prepared for war, yet her incompetence kept getting the people she loved killed. Hell she had even managed to go into the future and get people killed there too. Stella wondered if more people would be alive today if she had died along with the rest of her family. "I don't care what you do with me" Stella told her captor.
"I accept any punishment and more than deserve it. Just don't let me die a Delphinus! I'm ashamed to have brought such dishonor upon my family. Please just let me die as a nameless, forgotten, pathetic excuse of a person. Oh goddesses forgive me!"
"Hmmm" mumbled the coated lady. "You seem awfully distressed over events that happened centuries ago."
"But its not centuries for me. Tiburon was alive with me and Polaris just days ago. I'm not from this era! I don't know how it happened and don't know how to prove myself. But I know what I lived through and know I'm not a lair."
"My father once taught me that all talk is cheap" replied the lady. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Regardless of what you say, I need you to provide that proof. And I might just have a way of doing it."
From behind her back the coated woman extended a long staff and threw it in between the bars. Lining its metallic coating was intricate patterns of silver and Aquamarine. Though its shine dulled from centuries of aging it looked in no worse shape than it did in the Epoch War. It was the staff Stella lost after wedging it into a stalfos back in Zora's Domain.
"Where did you get that" questioned Stella as she brushed the water from her face.
"You said your a Delphinus yes? That clan died out long ago. This is one of their few surviving relics, the Staff of Winds. Supposedly it was created by the original clan leader with the help of the Windfish. A legendary weapon, only a Delphinus can bring out its latent abilities. Otherwise it's just a decorative stick we keep in our treasury."
"We? Who is this WE you are part of" questioned Stella. In response the woman let down her hood and revealed a Zora face glistening with the shine of gold and diamond jewelry.
"The we I refer to is the Zora Royal family, of which I am part of. My name is Princess Orsina II, daughter of King Realto, descendant of Mako the Magnificent."
Stella shot up and immediately saluted, trying hard to regain her stoic posture. "Your majesty I beg your forgives. It was wrong of me to act so inappropriately in the presence of your grace."
"Oh hush" waved off Princess Orsina "I have no time for formalities. Besides I don't exactly trust you yet. See these bars? There made of enchanted material. I've ordered them permanatly shut and the key discarded. The only way your getting out is if you can cut through them. Use your staffs magic powers. Prove to me your really of Delphinus clan. Otherwise it seems you've wasted my time."
Realizing the significance of what she just said Stella gripped hold of her ancestral weapon. "Father, please give me one last chance to redeem our name" Stella prayed while channeling her inner wind magic. Letting loose a colossal windblown spin attack the Staff of Winds collided with the iron bars. And did nothing. Princess Orsina starred at her before shaking her head.
"I need to stop being so gullible. Enjoy starvation traitor!" As she turned to leave the sound of twisting metal stopped Orsina in her tracks. The cell bar cracked and splintered open into a thousand pieces. Metal boots crunching over metal slivers Stella walked out and bowed before her.
"...I stand corrected. Follow me, Captian Delphinus."