The Origin Stones

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Chapter 21 - It Hits the Fan

Midori was sleeping when the door opened. It was rushed, though, and it carried such abruptness that her mind alerted her to wake up.

Opening her eyes, she recognized Breem. He looked as old as he had before, despite his actual young age, due to the dark circles around his eyes and overall tired expression.

“Aellea’s been hit,” he was holding a piece of paper clasped in his right hand.

“What? Aellea?” She was having trouble to figure out why she should care, but if he had come to her with this, it could only mean one thing. “They went all the way to Aellea?”

“It gets worse. The bull’s not alone, it seems,” he closed the door behind him and approached the bed, throwing the paper at her.

She pretended to read while he told her what was on it.

“They report a Jun, wielding double-scythes. And they had initial problems with a Sen female, who stole Aellea’s stone. She has joined up with them.”

She saw Kazuki’s name in the letter. Meanwhile, Breem was patrolling the bottom of her bed, walking back and forth with an arm behind his back and the other gesturing his words.

“It mentions Kazuki,” she noted out loud.

“He spoke for the rest of them,” he told her, “he mainly talked during the audience, he and a squirrel. The rest were all seriously injured.”

“What?”

“I warned you,” Breem said, massaging his forehead, “there’s something dangerously powerful behind all of this.”

“But are they ok?”

“Read the letter. It says they’ll heal up but I’d be surprised if they pressed on. Anyways, we have the bull and the Jun’s name. Agathon and Shinyaki.”

“Agathon…”

“They went on a very gruesome rampage during their getaway.”

“Getaway?”

“They were caught fighting your friends. Or rather, killing your friends. Because of that, heir getaway wasn’t as clean as it was here. The bull and Jun particularly, they killed over a dozen guards. The Skullerbees are up in arms about the whole thing, and with good reason. Fairgrifen is to be called into account.”

Midori raised an eyebrow, confused.

“The bull ripped through our wall single-handed, and stole our stone. We kept it all a secret and now Aellea’s been hit. No one knows where these people came from or what they’re after, but it’s clear they want all the stones. Bellhall has since admitted to having lost their stone, too, though they’ve suffered no direct violence. Seems to have been a clean theft…like it would have been for us, had it not been for your friends’s intervention.”

“So that leaves Spellgate?”

“Last we heard, yes. They were checking. This has all been happening today, you know? It has been one chaotic mess of troubles back-and-forth between us all.”

“Jeez. Any idea why they could want the stones?”

“I’m more worried about the level of their power,” Breem looked up, “and whether there’re more of them. Either way, one good thing will come out of this mess.”

“Other than being able to stop them?” Midori asked.

“Faircloth was the only one aware that our stone had been stolen. Me and my allies now have grounds to get him out of our council and out of his position. There’s nothing he can do about it.”

Midori knew what usually followed such words so she was more startled than surprised by the scream that erupted. It sounded out right from behind the door, the wail of someone dying, followed closely by a thunk in the door.

Breem turned his head to notice the door had a spot that was showing the point of a blade. It was removed. Breem dropped his hands loose in shock and Midori jolted to grab her Xenia.

“He dares…”

He turned his hands, his hair levitating and his skin flashing with concentrated power. Midori’s own hair fluttered as the air in the room grew restless in turmoil.

Both their fabrics waved back as the door opened, showing a corridor full of signs of an armed revolt. Breem’s personal guard was slaughtered, and a squad of armored Pans looked fierce and ruthless, their leader full of bloodstains.

“We’re not here to kill you, Overseer. We just wish to--”

You betray my nation?!” The air ruptured and exploded around him so hard it pushed Midori against the wall. The bed itself bent back, its feet touching the ceiling. Everything loose was thrown to the wall. The soldiers were expelled away.

“Let him know…” he warned, his voice echoing, twisted by the wind that visibly swirled around him “…that he will pay for all of this!”

He cupped his hands on the side of his body, pausing for a second of anticipation and focus. Then he forcefully pushed them forward, a movement that echoed with a barrage of wild wind.

And in fact, a barrage of wind was what came out of his hands.

“Wwaaaahhhhhh!!!”

Not just a thin layer of wind but a consistent flow blew through the door and aggressively shoved everything and everyone off gravity’s embrace. It carried it all the way to the very end of the corridor. Violently, they crashed into each other, and more importantly, against all the weapons they - and their victims - were carrying.

Most of them were indirectly skewered and maimed by loose equipment.

Breem didn’t even bat an eyelash before the mayhem. Once it was done, he turned and walked towards the window, extending his hand towards Midori.

Midori had fallen to her feet as soon as he had unleashed the barrage of wind, which had allowed for the air behind him, and inside the room, to settle.

“Grab my hand, we have to go.”

“But--” She hesitated, more due to the fact she was in her blue pajamas than out of any sense of distrust or intimidation. Which was hard since Breem’s eyes were wet with tears, giving him an even more miserable look.

Still, his voice did not break. “I gave you my word I’d keep you safe, and I will.”

“But I’m in my…” she looked down, uncomfortable.

“Would you rather be seen in them alive or dead?”

She scoffed a helpless smile, giving him her hand.

“When you put it that way…”

It was annoying he could look so tired, sound so caring, and at the same time, give off such a relentless and harsh aura. He pulled her along.

Reaching the window, he snapped his fingers, and a sudden draft crashed and blew it outward. He put a step on it and pulled Midori close. He made her hug him.

“Grab tight.”

Midori had but a second to finally realize how he had saved her from her fall before she experienced it first hand. She also finally noticed it was night time.

He jumped off and waved his hands to form a current of wind that safely circled and snaked through the air. As they went, she could see people being thrown off other towers, soldiers flying griffens to the top of the towers, probably to attack Faircloth’s other opponents.

Heavy fighting was going about, all the towers were either lit up with lights, or fire. It looked like Faircloth was going to conquer the whole damn thing in one night.

“It’s not as bad as it looks. Look left.”

Midori looked left and noticed a large cloaked figure diving through the sky. The cloak was vivid red, it helped the figure glide onto a griffen. The occupant was kicked out and then it flew off.

“We won’t be the only ones making it out,” he told her, his voice fighting the wind.

“But he is taking over the city, isn’t he? What will happen now?”

“What has always happened in these circumstances,” Breem rebutted, his tears wrenching free from his cheeks to crash against her forehead, “surpass the emotional backlash of what we’ve lost. Raise our courage to take it back. And then rebuild.”

As he said that, Midori’s peripheral vision alerted her. A large chunk of a tower fell in front of them. As it fell, one of the walls was busted open, and through it, she could see a very bulky Pan, a full grown brown beard and strong dark eyes that stood out even in that small instant of clear vision, as did his contrasting light skin. He had a battle ax pulled back for a swing and he was facing three soldiers who were having troubled keeping their balance inside the falling room.

He, on the other hand, seemed steady, at least for the two seconds that Midori had sight of him.

“C’MON!” The man was bloodied to a point his challenging bellow spat drops of blood.

The wind-snake took them over and around the chunk and continued to carry them outside of the palace’s grounds.

Landing cleanly, Breem cautiously but rapidly pushed Midori off of him.

“Seek the HiddenPebble tavern,” Breem told her, “I’ll meet you there.”

“What? You’re not coming with me?”

“Don’t worry,” he told her.

He was still crying, it seemed, but his voice just didn’t crack or weep or in any way sounded like he was crying. “Faircloth’s forces will be too busy to look for you. Establishing control of the city takes priority. Stick to hiding, find the tavern in the western part of the city and wait for me there. I need to see who else I can help escape.”

She didn’t really feel entitled to complain so she just nodded. Breem nodded back, regretful. “My apologies again. For all of this.”

And with that, he left her. She looked around, seeing people running about, confused and fearful, surrounded by soldiers who weren’t really aware of how to deal with enemies they couldn’t kill.

Then she looked in the direction of the Fairgrifen’s gate. Temptation hit her.

Things had gotten too dangerous and no matter what Breem expected of her, if anything, it wasn’t fair. All she wanted was an education on alchemy so she could quit the dangerous life, filled with difficult moral decisions and life-threatening battles. She just wanted a profession where she could relax and phase out whenever she wanted.

But fear also gripped her.

She had gotten involved due to her curiosity, that surely didn’t make her responsible for the situation. Breem seemed to have it under control, and besides, how could she ever contribute to either side of this revolution?

“This is too big.” With those words, she made a decision. Determined, she climbed up house by using the window sills, three floors up. There, she looked to make sure she had the way right.

Finally, with a nod at herself, she dashed towards Fairgrifen’s gate. She would escape while she still could.

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