Chapter 47 - Resolutions
“Uckh!” The blade pierced his back with cold swift pain. He shuddered but did not hesitate beyond that, else the blade would be taken out for heavy bleeding to commence.
Danatcia had missed a vital organ by an inches, and he would take advantage of it to finish that fight. Twisting and turning, his pierced torso stealing her of her knife, he lunged with arms at ready before she could react.
And hugged her.
“Please, just listen!”
She was shocked. Persephonai’s wings also shut to enclose her as well as they could. In that embrace, however, he did not mean for her to feel trapped or endangered, but rather safe and comfortable. Despite that, she felt heavily vulnerable.
Blushing, she stood still in an emotional reaction that could be considered cousin to shock, trying to keep her look hard and emotionless despite the fact he couldn’t see her face.
“I love you, Dana! I do, for lots of reasons, but damn you’re so stubborn! Just tell me why you’re doing this!”
The silence lasted for but a second, swiftly cut by her cracked voice.
“My tribe…” her voice sounded, a bit timid and awkward, though it normalized for the rest of the sentence. “they need a new home. Katsuryu will give us this place if I help him.”
The reaction was a mild giggle, followed by a mild laugh. Without letting go, he pulled his face back to look her in the eyes. His eyes were tearing up, his face a bit contorted, probably from the pain.
“You need to hea--” she tried to tell him, but he interrupted her by lightly touching her forehead with his, with a loud sigh.
“You’re amazing, but you can be so dense sometimes. I bet your tribe doesn’t even know about your deal, just that you’re looking for a place.”
She replied with an inch of an acknowledging nod.
“Dana…try and think ahead. The peace agreement between our peoples is dependent on us not seeking out allies of the other races. Why do you think I was sent? I was sent because you’re known to me…so I could make sure this is what you were doing, that you were procuring an ally with an army.”
“And the Fea. You think they’ll be happy about this deal you’ve made? You may be underground but you’re in their territory, and are an accomplice in what can be the downfall of their capital.”
Her heart beat hard, but he soothed it by removing his arms, caressing her cheek with his right hand. He looked as young as a child, hurt, on the brink of crying for his mommy…except for his eyes. They were kindness incarnate, kindled with the spark of love.
“So think ahead, and ask yourself…why are you waiting on the word of a maniac… to get your tribe here?”
She opened her eyes in realization. That was a damn good question.
He pulled back his head and looked her deeply in the eyes.
“You’ve successfully maneuvered him to send out his forces. Now’s the time to call your tribe, and be here in case the Rei decide to come back.”
She looked at him, fully realizing what he was suggesting.
“This was all an elaborate back-stab on your tribe’s part. You have made no allegiances, you played a small part on Bellhall’s doom, sure, and will play a large part on Katsuryu’s doom, should his forces decide to double back to here. But no one will blame you for doing what you had to for the benefit of your own people.”
She nodded, her eyes a bit relieved. A hint, a very small hint of a smile formed on her lips. Slowly, and almost an inch apart, she put her arms around him.
“You always were smart…Perse.”
He hugged her again.
“And you brave…so very brave.”
She then abruptly pushed him away, so hard he tripped and fell on his behind. She turned around, too shy to look at him face to face, and told him, “now heal.”
He smiled, and in a whimper of pain, removed the dagger while Danatcia concentrated in communicating with the leader of her tribe.
Meanwhile, the clones of Fiahra were ridiculously many, demonstrating Fiahra was the type to take pride in their fighting and prone to overkilling their opponents. Pixa was crying, her insides burning as if she had swallowed acid.
She was on the brink of keeling over and passing out, but the sensation was, for some reason, familiar. Amidst red tears, the memory came to her…of trying one of Midori’s failed potions. That brought to mind Midori, as well as everyone else…as well as Kazuki.
That backstabbing traitorous…she had always been on his side, but him, at the first sign of…”no,” she shook her head, “it was patriotism.”
It had been his loyalty to his kind that had driven him to betray her. Driven him to leave her to die… driven him to kill Jomiko if it was necessary. It had been…for a higher reason.
It must be so difficult…to belong to a people considered to be low-class slaves, people made through ritual and science. Fiahra…she was an affront to everyone like Kazuki. Ever yone who, like him, sacrificed so much for their ideals. He was nothing like her.
He had not betrayed Pixa over some loose motivation like money or survival. He was the real deal. He sacrificed their relationship for his people.
“He’s nothing like you…”
“Hm?” “What?” “Speak up, dear,” “last words are important after all.” “What the?”
Even though crouched and hurt, Pixa’s body flashed light blue for a second, and suddenly, she was completely surrounded by squares and rectangles made of bright light, outlined by light blue lines.
“IMPOSSIBLE??!?!?!” Pixa yelled, not to say shrieked. She pushed herself to her feet, swallowing so many emotions she couldn’t tell on which extreme she was. Hate? Frustration? Insult? Sadness? Pain? Persistence? Angry? Rage? “Impossible is for someone to live life like it’s meaningless!”
She wobbled and wavered, the clones getting ever closer, the burning sensation within her just fueling her strengths, the pain working to make her alive.
“Impossible…” The squares and rectangles, dozens and dozens around her, flashed and started hovering around her, drawing a circle. “Impossible is for you to still be alive.” Bitterness was the emotion. She looked up straight at one of the clones with eyes red and teary, and then closed her hands and crossed her arms around her.
“This is...” “You shouldn’t have any strength left!” “WHERE do you find the strength?!”
“IN MY IDEALS, YOU ROTTEN MERC!” She got a mouthful of air, of poison, of pain…and then opened her arms in a yell, releasing everything that was bottled up, “YAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!”
Perhaps hundreds of light-beams shot out from around Pixa, all of them forming a volume of a sphere that pushed everything outward: against the ground, the ceiling and the walls. In one instant, in one flash of cyan, the clones went up in smoke, which was itself pushed back.
She kept it up for one second only, and it was enough. One spurt of a moment’s strength cleared the room for her, and the moment she stopped, she had clean air to breathe.
That didn’t stop her from falling to the ground, though, weakened and exhausted, with her insides still under torture and her vision blurred by the sting and tears.
Some remnants of the poisonous smoke were left, from the few inches she had not been able to cover, but there were no more clones.
After a moment’s breath, Pixa opened her eyes and forced her vision to give her some feedback so she could find Fiahra. And find her she did…up against a wall in a jumbled up position, eyes unfocused, limbs twitching, and blood streaking down from the back of her head.
Pixa uttered an insult at her, a whisper of profanity that wouldn’t be heard, and as she felt consciousness leaving her, she heard a door opening.
At the sound, she opened her eyes and, without thinking, stretched her hand and shot off a laser in its direction.
“Whoah! Settle down, Pixa! It’s me, Persephonai! Holy crap, what happened in here?!”
She didn’t know what he was talking about, she couldn’t see. Her eyes had not even deemed to open for that friendly fire of hers.
She drifted into unconsciousness.
Meanwhile, Sanpu and Fuun’na were bleeding all over the place. Their battlegrounds were full of small craters from missed strikes, the make-shift throne was busted to pieces, and there were smears of blood all over the place.
Sanpu was fighting with one hand, his left holding a wound from bleeding too hard, and one of his eyes was made useless by a constant, though thin, stream of blood coming out from a cut on his eyebrow. He was barely wearing anything over his chest, his vest still being somewhat intact, and his right shoe had left him somewhere in the middle of the fight.
Fuun’na had lost her left ponytail, her fringe had been trimmed to size, and her right ear was bleeding from taking a heavy hit. She was barefoot, and her axe was bent out of shape and function.
Other than that, they had small cuts everywhere, especially on their hands and arms, and were overall ragged, sweaty and dirty. Shinyaki had nothing but small cuts and a rough appearance around his clothes.
He was still grinning.
“It’s almost time, kiddies. Are you learning your lesson yet?”
“Even if we can’t beat you…” Sanpu said, leaning on his sword for a few moments to catch his breath, “Even if that happens, your boss is going to die.”
“Good,” Shinyaki smiled, surprising them, “let him lose. Let the entire Rei army die out. That’s the plan, you idiot child.”
“What?” Fuun’na reacted, confused. She was bent over her axe, letting it, and her arms, rest.
“You really think I’d be caught dead serving a doll? Please…we all have our motives. Fiahra’s money-hungry, Agathon’s duty-bound, Danatcia’s playing her tribe’s angle. And me? I’ve got orders.”
He laughed for a couple of seconds.
“I’m a spy, you idiots. I’m working for a big player back on Spellgate. I’ve been feeding him information since the start, but it was only once I got in here that I found out Katsuryu’s invasion plans.”
They looked at him, as if grasping to understand.
“Well, I found about it sooner, but screw the Fea, let them burn a little, right?”
He started laughing. And surprisingly, Sanpu and Fuun’na laughed with him. That made him stop.
“What’re you two laughing about?”
“Oh…hhahahah, it’s just nice to know we’re always on top.”
He grinned again.
“Ha, yeah, well, last lesson, kiddies. You’re welcome. Are you ready to plead for your lives, now? I think I have it in me to spare you.”
“Oh shove it up your anus,” Fuun’na flipped him the finger, flippant and insulted. Sanpu coughed a laugh, as well as a bit of blood.
“That sister of yours got some temper.”
“Trust me,” Sanpu said, lifting the sword as well as bending his body back, looking down at him with furious eyes, “it runs in the family!”
And he charged, followed closely by Fuun’na.
And there was nothing elegant about their fight. Those last moments where the Blood twins struggled to overpower a foe far more experienced and trialed in the arts of battle and warfare than the two combined, and twice over, were nothing short of brutal.
“Ha!” “Yah!” “HUR!” “CHINK!” “CLACK!” “GUHK!” “HAHAHA!”
The sound of metal hitting metal resonated and reverberated across the chambers, grunts and whimpers and profanity and yelling and spitting were as abundant as the many clashes of blade and bone.
“CLANK!” “HUOOH!!!” “CRAAAASSHH!!” “HAHA!” “CLANK” “SPLRT!” “C’MON THEN!”
They twisted and turned, parrying, blocking, slashing and thrusting. They jumped and twirled and flipped and rolled and spun around, the blades hissing uncomfortably at the wind. And through it all, all three sets of eyes were wide open. Ignoring hairs and sweat and tears and blood, they were wide open in excitement and fun and…love. All three of them loved that more than anything. The fight. The struggle. The mud and dirt and blood of getting deep in the thick of it all. The irony of it all, of the fact they felt so alive when death was at their door, was lost to them. Everything was lost to the pure raw instinct of battle.
“FASTER, SISTER!” “CLANK!” “HROH!” “CLINK!” “CHNKSH!” “RAAAAAAAHHH!” “GOTCHA!”
And any fight like this was always over in a second. In a second where someone’s too slow to correct a mistake, a movement gone wrong. In this case, it was Sanpu. The scythe cleaved right through his belly, opening it up enough that a torrent of blood spluttered out.
“AAAUUUUGGGHHH!!! OH GODS!” His personality shifted immediately. He dropped his sword and grabbed his belly, doing his best to hold it shut. “Oh no no no no ….mommmy!!!”
“What is this now?!” Shinyaki raised an eyebrow, confused at Sanpu’s childish horror.
“Get back!” Fuun’na cleaved, but Shinyaki jumped back, content to allowing the little girl to suffer for her little brother.
“Ow ow ow ow ow…” Sanpu’s eyes teared up instantly, their irises relaxing and Fuun’na felt an overbearing sadness. She couldn’t lose him. She was supposed to…
“I’m supposed to die first, you idiot,” she hugged his head with one arm, crying over his stuttering whimpers. “Sanpu…”
“Kill him, sis,” his voice sounded hoarse, but the disdain was palpable. She pulled away and looked at him. His eyes had filled up again, with anger, his grip was tight and hard around his wound as he bit his lip in an effort to handle the pain…to not pass out. “Kill him.”
“I can’t…we couldn’t together so how can I do it all alo--”
“Shut your mouth,” he headbutted her. It was abrupt and caught her off guard, and it was a hard headbutt, too. She looked at him, surprised and shocked he still had that much fight in him. “Do your own thing! Forget the axe! You’re stronger doing your own thing than mine!”
Suddenly, she felt the metallic rings behind her back. Sanpu noticed her side-glancing.
“Yeah! Kill…that *#$#$#...”
She stood still for a moment. Sanpu was her big brother. By seconds, but he was, and she had never been without him. Not when it mattered. Not when it was vital. She felt lost, but at the same time…
Sanpu experienced a personality shift again. His eyes relaxed and teared up again, and he lied down on his back, crying in pain and terror. He didn’t want to die.
“Wow…really?” Shinyaki voiced and Fuun’na turned around to look as he allowed his scythes to slide down, grabbing them in an attack stance. She felt alone, but at the same time…
“You twins are just all kinds of screwed up, aren’t you? What’s it gonna be then, little lady?”
At the same time…it felt so liberating. She opened her eyes and looked at him with pure malevolent, vengeful intent.
“Now you die… little man.”
Shinyaki opened his eyes in surprise. He then slowly smirked and told her “for that, I’m going to kill you by bashing you with your brother’s decapitated head.”
He dashed towards her, but she quickly and skillfully pulled out one of her rings and threw it at him. It flew towards him like a disk, spinning counter-clockwise.
He easily dodged it, though, laughing. “Is that your great comeback?!”
She jumped back and drew her other ring, placing it to stop the scythes from closing around her by positioning it perfectly. She had done this once before.
Shinyaki allowed the scythes to rebound while she stepped one step to the right to be better positioned.
He laughed in her face and stepped around to her left, waving a scythe to pierce at her from the side while slashing down with his right Scythe, at the pile of tears and blood and screaming that was Sanpu.
“You lose--” A loud *thunk* interrupted him. It hit him in the back, but his battle-hardened reflexes kept him from being pushed off his feet. He kept his stance, merely wavering a bit.
It did stop his attack however.
And then he felt utter pain. He looked to see the bladed ring Fuun’na had thrown, deeply lodged in his torso. It had gone at least half-through, twice as deep as his cut on Sanpu, and had indeed stuck somewhere inside him that that kept him from moving.
Probably his spine.
Blood sprayed out through the tiny inch between the blade and the skin, and at the same time, realization stole all his joy from his facial expression.
“Oh…no,” Shinyaki said, and then cursed, and then turned his gaze towards Fuun’na, who already had her second ring pulled back for a slash.
“Tell the dead we’ll get to them again when we damn well please,” she told him, eye squinted and completely void of mercy. Without a moment’s hesitation, she slashed across his throat.
It opened up and sprayed her face in blood, and that was a good feeling. She had grown very accustomed to that smell of rust. She then casually poked his chest with a finger, pushing his body back, and watched his wide-eyed expression of shock as he fell backwards onto the ring. It pierced a bit further in one abrupt moment, and then it slowly cut through him as gravity did its work.
He gurgled in pain as his body was slowly divided in half. And she watched.
When the disk finished its job, bending to rest over his lower part, now absolutely soaked in blood, she walked next to his face so that she could look him in the eye.
He looked at her, still with life in his eyes, his smirk had completely bled out of his face. It pleased her to see how much it all surprised him. To see how shocked he was, as he really did not expect to die. But it didn’t please her enough.
With the cries and wails of her brother as a soundtrack, it really wasn’t enough.
“Ptiu,” she spat in his face, and in a revengeful, scorn-filled tone, she told him “who’s on top now…little Jun?”
The look on his face was priceless, and she would have beheaded him too, had the opening of a door not interrupted her.
It was Persephonai…and the sight of him, the sight of Sanpu’s salvation, cleared all other matters from her head. Most of all those of brutal payback.