Felix stood at the edge of the desert that Alex had told him to come to. It seemed like it had been such a long time ago that he had been coming out of this desert with Ike and Volug. Now he was here to wait for one of the Tuaparang to appear and take him to wherever Alex had planned. Micaiah and Sothe had understood when Felix explained that he needed to go and see this Wanda person. As he stood there waiting Felix kept reaching behind him for the hilt of Alondite. They had formulated a plan to capture Wanda rather than simply let Felic go with her. This Wanda person may by an Umbra Adept but that didn't mean she had the same power that Felix did. The plan was for Felix to start fighting using his Psynergy right out the gate as an alert for one of the Djinn sitting with Micaiah. Once she got the okay the Queen, King, and Dawn Brigade would charge forward. Right now they all sat far enough away that Felix couldn't sense them with his power and he hoped that Wanda wouldn't be able to either.
There was one problem to their plan though, a wild card that no one could hope to counter. Yune. She had insisted on accompanying Felix and no matter who asked her she was adamant about staying with him. Unable to stop the goddess from doing as she pleased they had no choice but to let her go with Felix to the meeting point. They didn't know where in the desert that Wanda would be appearing but Felix had a sneaky suspicion that she would have a way to find out where he was since Alex gave him such vague instructions. The bastard may like to mess with people but when he gave you information you knew that it was something you could count on, even if it might stab you in the back.
Yune sat down next to Felix looking out at the sand that lay before them. Just sitting next to someone like that the Goddess of Chaos looked like nothing more than a little girl. Even Felix with the holy blade looked like just a man, not someone who could cause the ground to erupt in fury. They had all been waiting for the past three hours and had yet to see any sign that Wanda had been there already. To be honest there wasn't any sign of any creature passing through. Only the wind and what few plants could grow in the area between plains and desert marked the area. Whenever a strong gust blew or a cloud hid the sun Felix would feel his body tense up in anticipation of Wanda's arrival.
Twenty more minutes of waiting was all it took. Felix felt the gathering Psynergy before he saw the orbs of light appear in front of him. The colorful lights clustered together and took the form of a woman. She was completely armored from head to toe, the only thing distinguishable about her being her green hair and club symbol. Taking two steps the woman cleared the distance between her and Felix, she was close enough that Felix could feel her breathing. There was no time to react they hadn't taken into account just how close she would appear. Everyone had thought that she would have put a reasonable distance between her and Felix giving him time and opportunity to strike. Felix felt a small hand slip into his at the same time that Wanda put her hand on his shoulder. The all too familiar sensation of his body being dissolved into light washed over Felix.
When Felix felt his body start to reassemble he got ready to pull away from the Tuaparang soldier and fight her on his own. He might not have Micaiah's Light Magic to help combat the Umbra power but that didn't meant he was going to go without a fight. First thing Felix saw once he was put back together was the armored face of Wanda. Unleashing a Djinn he focused the power into his free hand and punched with all his might right into Wanda's stomach. The Djinn's power strengthened Felix's hand enough that he didn't feel any pain for having punched metal. Yune's hand still in his Felix backed up pulling the child along with him.
"Bind." Psynergy flowed out of Wanda and gathered around Felix before going into his head. Felix cursed as his own Psynergy was sealed. Twice now this woman had caught him off guard. Now he would have to hope he would be able to match her strength long enough for the seal to fade. "Relax Felix, I don't want to fight you. Take a look around and tell me where we are."
He didn't trust her enough to take his eyes off of her long enough to take a look at his surroundings. Still Felix looked at the area around Wanda. They were standing on blue stone, there were burn marks covering parts of the surface. Some of the stone dipped down before shooting up into a spike, the effects of Venus Psynergy. Felix could see statues of a woman holding a jar on her shoulder like she was pouring out water. A chill wind blew cutting through the clothing that Felix wore. The scene called up memories from over thirty years ago. This was the Mercury Lighthouse Aerie, to think that no one had visited the top of the Lighthouse to remove the signs of battle. Taking a glance behind him Felix saw the large blue swirling sphere, the lit beacon of Mercury Lighthouse supplying Weyard with water energy.
"You see, no Tuaparang soldiers around here. I simply wish to talk with you. Though I must admit, I did not expect you to bring the Goddess with you." Wanda looked down at Yune as she spoke.
"And what do we have to talk about?" Felix asked keeping a mental eye on his Psynergy seal.
"What the Emperor is doing. You may not believe it but he was once a good man. He wanted to share the Tuaparang's advances with the rest of Weyard. My family and I thought he was a great man, that's why we left Contigo."
"You're right I don't believe that the man that has caused so much pain could start off so kind." Felix replied. He could feel the seal weakening, just a few more minutes and he'd be free.
"He was fine until Alex came along. Over the years the Emperor, he started to go crazy. He ordered the creation of the Psynergy Vortex generators to force Weyard to return to the surface far sooner than it would have naturally," Wanda continued to explain with resolve in her voice. Felix may not believe her but she was going to tell her story no matter what it seemed.
"Then what was the point of the Grave Eclipse? Many good people died because of that," Felix still wasn't ready to trust Wanda's word but he had to know the reason behind such a disastrous move.
"It was to see if either alchemy machine could weaken the seal within Mt. Aleph. When the Emperor saw that it was a failure he decided to pin the blame on Blados and Chalis saying they acted on their own accord." Even hearing the reason behind the activation of the Grave Eclipse and the firing of the Apollo Lens Felix couldn't believe that all the death had been for something so small. What was behind the seal that warranted the deaths of so many people? It didn't matter how good they may have been in the past, anyone that tossed away so many lives so carelessly was evil in Felix's book. "Listen Felix, I'm not going to try and tell you that the Emperor is a man worth saving. I doubt anything I tell you could change your mind about what needs to be done. All I want to do is help him atone for the sins he has committed."
"How would you go about doing that?" There was no reason to trust her word but there was no harm in hearing out her plan. Beside the Psynergy seal was still in place and the longer they spent talking the less time he would have to fight without Psynergy.
"A massive airship strike is heading towards Tellius as we speak. They plan to hit Gallia first. More than a few Umbra Adepts are within the ranks of the soldiers heading there."
"The Beast Tribe will be fine," Yune said so sure of her words. "They'll be at home in the dense forests of Gallia. Not even the Tuaparang will know what hit them if they plan to attack."
"The Umbra Adepts can use the shadows, the army will light the forest ablaze if that's what it takes to win. All of Tellius has been order to be destroyed. Dia has a secret weapon up his sleeve that he gave to the captains of the army. He didn't want me knowing what it was, though he assures me it'll turn the tides against any laguz." Wanda gathered more Psynergy around her causing Felix to get ready for whatever she was planning to do. Point at a nearby statue unleashed her Psynergy on the ancient art. Jupiter Psynergy assaulted the statue in the form of a Whirlwind.
"You're a Jupiter Adept?" Felix asked in shock.
"Yes, one of the four Card Generals that isn't an Umbra Adept. I'm not a native of the Tuaparang. In fact Felix, if you spent more time at home rather than traveling the world you would have recognized my voice by now." Wanda smiled at the confused look on Felix's face before she reached for her helmet. Taking off the black armor Felix gasped at the face he saw:
"Good to know you remember my face after all these years," Artemis smiled. "And don't worry, Ivan know that I'm Wanda. Have you ever tried hiding something from a mind reader?" Felix dropped his gaze. "Oh right."
"Hoooold on here!" Yune shouted looking back and forth between the two Adepts. "Who is she?!"
"Yune, you've met Karis before. Take a look at Artemis and tell me you don't see the family resemblance." Felix was almost smiling as he watched the young girl stare intensely at the armored woman.
"I don't see it," Yune said after a few seconds of looking.
"I'm Karis' mother," Artemis explained.
"So how long has Ivan known?" Felix asked. He had a hard time thinking that Ivan simply sat back and let the Grave Eclipse happen.
"Ivan's know for the past few days. I went to him first and it was his idea that I should tell you. It took a long mind reading session for him to believe me, not that I entirely blame him, but we've managed to work things out." Artemis looked up at the sky like she was reminiscing about days gone by. "But enough of what's happened, we need to talk about what we're going to do about the army on its way to Gallia."
"Alright Artemis, I'm still not sure I fully trust you on all of this, but what do you suggest we do?" Felix already started to ponder what he was going to do about all of this. If Ivan truly knew what his wife was doing then Weyard was probably in safe hands for now, he would have started planning a way to hold back the Tuaparang. Tellius on the other hand was about to be under siege from a large force. Then there was Mia still captured by Alex that he needed to deal with.
"Tellius is no stranger to war, they have had to deal with two in a short amount of time," Artemis pointed out. "We know where the Tuaparang are going to hit. If the Tellians were warned in enough time they should be able to mount a force large enough to deal with the approaching army."
"I can alert them all." Yune suggested. "Tellius is my continent to look after."
"That's not a bad idea actually," Felix said in a agreement. "In case you've forgotten Artemis, Alex still has a friend of mine that I need to recover." It went without saying that Felix was still miffed about Alex waltzing right into the Keep and taking Mia away right in front of his eyes.
"She's under Mt. Aleph near the seal. I was to take you to the entrance and let you head down on your own. But Dia's there along with Isaac and some Tellians, I admit I don't know which ones." Artemis looked directly at lit beacon of Mercury Lighthouse. "By now they should have finished off the Dark Star Magician which means they've moved on to the Fusion Dragons. Your friends might be strong but the force of two Fusion Dragons may be more than the four of them can handle."
"Then we should collect some of the other Warriors of Vale," Felix suggested. Each one of the Warriors had dealt with a multi headed dragon before. There was just one question that plagued his mind. "You said their Fusion Dragons, who are they?"
"I wish I knew," Artemis said sadly. "You're right though, we should collect the other Warriors. That's precisely why I brought us all to the Lighthouse. Both Mia and Garet are down in Imil at this very moment. Don't underestimate Tuaparang intelligence."
"Felix, make sure you rescue Mia alright," Yune said butting back into the conversation. "Can't have you two separated like this just after you two got together after all. I'll head back to Tellius and start getting everyone ready." Yune reached up to Felix like she wanted to be picked up, ever acting the normal kid around Felix. Reaching down Felix indulged the little girl and picked her up. Yune hugged Felix tight before she started to vanish.
"Shall we head down to Imil then?" Artemis asked holding out the Teleport Lapis.
This time Felix was prepared for when Artemis started to use Teleport. Again his body dissolved into orbs and flew through the sky towards the town nearest the lighthouse. It felt like it had been over a decade since Felix had last seen any of the other Warriors and now he was going to be reunited with two of his old friends. He was just thankful that his sister wasn't going to amongst them. That was something he wanted to put off for as long as he could. Hopefully give her chance to calm down after learning where he had been all this time. Garet may be a hothead and have a few words to say to him when they got there but Felix was counting on the more level headed Mia to soothe the flames of Garet's rage.
There was one more reason that Felix was glad that they were going to be seeing the two other Warriors. If Artemis was lying then there would be at least two more capable Adepts with him to take her out. She might be a powerful Jupiter Adept but even she would have problems against three other Adepts. The Psynergy seal that she had placed on him was finally gone and he wasn't going to be caught off guard again, if she tried it on him he would be ready to resist the power.
Ranulf pace back and forth in his office, Yune had just appeared out of nowhere in front of him and Skrimir. She had brought news of an impending invasion that would soon reach the forests of Gallia. Having the Goddess of Chaos, who they were supposed to be protecting mind you, all of the sudden pop in like that and deliver bad news like that was enough to ruffle anyone's fur. Yune hadn't been able to tell them the size of the forces only that they could expect a great number and more than a few of them to be Umbra Adepts. As she faded from sight she told them that she would be visiting the others to let them know about the upcoming fight and have them send troops to support Gallia.
It was good to know that someone was out there spreading the word about the attack but Ranulf wished that it wasn't Yune. Their enemy was still out there somewhere looking for her. No one knew exactly how her teleportation worked, she simply could vanish from Gallia Castle and appear right next to Elincia or Kurthnaga. That's what Ranulf hoped at least, if there was a range on her ability to move and she had to reappear between the castle and her destination they had no clue if she would get caught. Much as he wanted to worry about the Goddess bouncing around the countries he had something more important to do. Right now he had to get the army mobilized and ready to strike wherever these Tuaparang soldiers were going to land. If their enemy had any brains they would come directly from the west over the seas. They wouldn't risk being spotted by the Crimean Pegasus Knights or the Dragons of Goldoa.
Ranulf had already sent out messengers to the officers of the army. They were going to need to be present when they decided on what course of action to take. Skrimir wanted them all to hear the formulation of the plan in order to get the best results. Ranulf was all for more heads meaning more ideas but there was a limit to what the lower ranking members could offer. Many of them didn't understand what it took to move an entire army. They would spend countless hours trying to explain the details of the plan that many would already understand. Still Skrimir wanted all his officers present to learn from Ranulf. The blue furred cat could only hope that he wouldn't have to go over the details repeatedly enough that he'd go crazy.
Of course Himi was going to be let into the war meeting so she could figure out where her services were going to be best used. Ranulf understood the gist of Psynergy but it was currently beyond his understanding to correctly add her power into the army. If the Tuaparang were to come before the other countries could send aid, she was going to be their only ranged defense. Even after the last war the laguz still refused to use beroc made weapons and therefore they didn't have any siege weapons to drive back the advancing forces. Laguz were stubborn in nature and many were like Skrimir had once been, hard headed and thought that only their own claws were all they needed to get through the battle. Even those that had taken part in the last war believed that they could handle themselves well enough that they didn't need the assistance of beroc made weapons.
Beroc mages, archers, and other ranged weapons were going to be useful in this upcoming battle. From what Ranulf had seen and heard of the Tuaparang their standard weapon was a repeater crossbow. Even in a forest where they could use the trees to hide from their fire it would be hard to close the distance if all the troops were equipped with such weapons. If their crossbows were anything like the Tellius version they could be used in close range to. Their biggest problem to overcome was the looming Umbra Adepts. Their powers were similar to the Druid magic that had resurfaced in the past few years in the fact they had a weakness to Light based magic. Not to mention the fact they seemed to have some sort of ability to mess with people's minds.
What worried Ranulf the most was the secret weapon that Yune said they had. Secret weapons were almost impossible to account for since there was no way to tell what it was. All Yune had been able to tell him was that it was meant to be used against the laguz and that's why they were targeted first. No doubt the Beast Tribe was going to be the test subjects for such a weapon otherwise they would have gone straight for the Dragons. It was a touchy subject for a laguz's pride, but Ranulf couldn't deny the raw power the Dragon Tribe possessed in comparison to the other tribes. What support the Dragons and Bird Tribes could send would have to be careful they too didn't fall prey to the secret weapon. Should it be too much for them to handle the battle might very well come down to the beroc nations fighting alone against the Tuaparang until they could develop a countermeasure.
Still pacing back and forth in his small office Ranulf tried to calm himself. There was no point in getting all worked up over something that he couldn't control. He would have to trust that his friends would be able to reach them in time that they wouldn't have to fight on their own. He wasn't counting on them to reach Gallia in time to be there when the Tuaparang landed but he certainly was going to hope for the best. In war you plan for the worst and hope for the best. No matter what plans you thought up in a strategy meeting, it could all be blown out of the water be a smarter or luckier opponent. No one, not even Soren, could plan for everything that happened on the battlefield. What they had to right now was figure out how best to use their knowledge of the terrain to their advantage. The Tuaparang may be better equipped than the laguz but they didn't have the home field advantage. Beast Tribe laguz where at home in the forest and could hide in the brush and leaves without being detected. If he could just get the army to treat this like a hunt rather than an outright battle they would stand a better chance of coming out victorious.
"Ranulf, they're ready for us," Lyre said as she entered the room. Ranulf hadn't had the door shut so there hadn't been a knock to alert him to the presence of his subordinate. Standing in the doorway behind Lyre was Himi, her staff slung across her back ready for her to whip it around and start bashing skulls in. No matter how Ranulf looked at it, to know that a beroc like that girl could control the ground that he stood on was unnerving.
"Let's go then," Ranulf said putting his hands in his pockets trying to appear calm on the outside even if inside he was bundle of nerves. He still had no idea what he was going to do about the Tuaparang and now he was heading to a meeting to decide just what they were going to be doing.
Entering the war room Ranulf found Skrimir standing at the front of a desk with maps laid out atop it. Other officers of the army were gathered around seeming to discuss where they thought the Tuaparang were going to be landing. It was a good a starting place as any. If they could come up with possible locations for the airships to drop their loads they could have scouts in the area ready to alert them of the arrival. It was far better than sitting on their tails waiting for the Tuaparang to make the first move.
"Ah Ranulf, come. We have need of your opinion." Skrimir waved Ranulf over to the empty spot next to him. As always Ranulf was the King's right hand man, off to his left was Caineghis former King of Gallia. As a representative of Weyard, Himi was granted the spot next to Ranulf.
"You see Ranulf," Caineghis said stroking his chin in thought, "we have narrowed down the places we think the enemy will land." With his massive hand the former king pointed to four different locations on a detailed map of Gallia. They were large clearings that could support a large number of people to land in. Most of Gallia was covered in thick forests and there weren't many clearings for airships to come and land in. Ranulf instantly saw a problem with their thinking though. The mountains, while mapped out, were largely unexplored. There could be any number of spot within them that the airships could use to land on. Not only that the mountains would then form a natural defense against any attack the Tellians launched.
Ranulf explained such to his fellow laguz and they seemed interested in his idea. Every one of them began looking towards mountainous regions of the map. If they did use them they would probably want to be far enough from a town that they wouldn't be spotted but close enough to make a quick assault. There was a cluster of mountains large enough to hide an army near the ocean that fit. All of the officers and both former and current King all agreed that it was a very ideal landing places. The only problem would be noticing the Tuaparang moving into the place. The mountains weren't the easiest to climb, if they wanted a good scout they would need someone who could fly. Oddly enough they were fresh out of flying cats. The best they could do was to send any willing scouts as high up as possible to look for any approaching airships.
"We still need to find a way to combat their Adepts until the beroc Mages can assist us," Skrimir said after they were satisfied with their choice in location. They were still going to send a few scouts to the clearings to keep an eye out for any activity. "We cannot count on one little girl to handle all of them for us."
"The problem is their Psynergy. We have no way to tell when they are going to use it. With the beroc Mages we can at least smell the magic in the air. This Psynergy gives off no warning," Caineghis said in frustration. With Himi around the laguz had tried to see if they could sense her power when in use but so far not a one of them could tell when she was using it.
"I think I have a solution for that," Himi chimed in. All the eyes in the room became fixated on the young girl. It was a good thing that Himi was a princess and used to be in the eyes of many people. Public speaking was not something she was frightened of, even in a room filled with mostly strangers. "If the problem is that you can't sense the Psynergy, I can fix that for a few of you. Nine at most to be exact."
"How would you do this Himi and, if you don't mind me asking, why haven't you done this before?" Ranulf asked wondering just what the Venus Adept was up to and how she could possibly give them the ability to sense Psynergy.
"I haven't done it because I wasn't exactly sure it would work. Last night though I was talking with Pewter and he said that it'd would. If I let you guys use my Djinn you'll be able to sense Psynergy being used. Pewter told me that many non-Adepts could feel and even operate Alchemy based machines if they had Djinn or Psynergy granting items." Golden energy appeared around Himi once she was done speaking. The gold aura broke into nine spheres that moved out over the table. The spheres then turned into nine Venus Djinn.
"Little Himi, won't that weaken you though?" Skrimir asked. They had all heard how Djinn worked and how they granted more power to the Adepts.
"Yes," Himi confirmed. "But having more people that can sense Psynergy would be better wouldn't it?"
"She makes a point Skrimir," Ranulf said. He looked at the table and the elementals that had started to wander across it. "Though we shouldn't use all of her Djinn. Four of them should be enough to get by."
"Who would you suggest get these Djinn then?" Skrimir asked wondering what his adviser had in store.
"Our strongest warriors, those that would stand the best chance against an enemy Adept. Preferably those with speed to, they'll need to be able dodge what they sense." Ranulf watched one of the Djinn wander over to Caineghis and look up at the lion. The former king was so tall that the Djinn fell flat on its back trying to look up at him. Adorable creatures of mass destruction were sitting in front of them. Not only that, four of them were going to be paired with laguz in order to better combat their enemies. "Himi, will these Djinn do anything to us other than allow us to feel Psynergy?"
"They shouldn't but even Pewter isn't sure. Djinn and Laguz have never interacted like this after all. There could be more to it than what we know but there's no way to tell until one of them is set to you," Himi said picking up one of the Djinn that had come over to her.
"Well, which four are willing to work with us?" There was no use in putting it off. If there were going to be any side effects to a Djinn being set it was best that they figured it out now rather than on the battlefield.
"Hemlock, Buckle, Bark, Geode if you would all stay out here. The rest of you come on back," Himi politely asked of the elementals. All but the four mentioned turned into gold orbs before flying back into Himi. "These are the four that were the most willing last night."
"Alright, uh Hemlock," Ranulf said. A Djinn without any legs floated over to Ranulf. "Would you mind setting to me?" Even knowing that they were sentient beings with a intelligence as high as any beroc or laguz, the way the Adepts treated them like pets made Ranulf unsure how to talk with them.
"No problem sir!" Hemlock said before turning into energy and flying into Ranulf's chest. Standing there waiting for something to happen Ranulf felt his senses go on high alert. Looking next to him he saw a white energy around Himi.
"Good, you can sense Psynergy," Himi said as the white light vanished from around her.
"That's what Psynergy looks like?" Ranulf asked confused. He had always thought that Psynergy was colored much like the elemental Djinn.
"In its raw form Psynergy is white. When an Adept uses it the color changes to represent the element," Himi told him. "Do you feel any different Ranulf?"
"Other than the fact that I could see Psynergy, I don't feel any different."
"Good, I don't know what we would have done without you Ranulf," Skrimir said with a loud laugh. "Now that we know these Djinn won't harm us we should see who else should have them."
"Wait, you think that I should have one?" Ranulf asked. While he was one of the stronger laguz out there, many were more powerful than he was.
"Of course. You took the first Djinn already, why make it bounce between other laguz?" Skrimir said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Alright. The others should be you two," Ranulf pointed to both Caineghis and Skrimir. "I know you stepped down from the throne Caineghis but you are still one of the best warriors the Beast Tribe has. For the last Djinn, I think Lyre should be the one."
"What?" Lyre asked in shock
"You may not be the strongest out there Lyre, but few can match your speed." Ranulf stated calmly.
"Alright, now that we have settled this matter we send out the scouts and wait." Caineghis said sitting back in his chair. That was all they could do now, wait until the Tuaparang came out into the open and be ready to deal with them.