Sitting around the table the royalty of Tellius waited for the final member to join them. They had all seen the flash of light that they knew to single the arrival of Yune and whoever she was to bring along. With all but Begnion's Empress and Adepts present it wasn't hard to guess who was to be walking through the doors. During the wait Himi had Amiti pass a few of his Djinn out so that a few key members of Crimea's army would be able to see any Psynergy being used around them.
Everyone was talking amongst themselves why they waited for Sakai and her group when the doors burst open revealing the Empress, along with her were Tanith and Sigrun. Coming in behind them were Tyrell and Karis, the former looked like he was in a good night's sleep.
"This makes everyone then," Elincia said once the five had taken their seats.
"As I'm sure Yune told you all," Ranulf started.
"The Tuaparang have decided to invade Tellius on a large scale and they're starting here in Gallia," Skrimir finished for the Cat.
"They present a threat to all of Tellius if they're allowed to get a foothold," Kurthnaga added his thoughts to the mix. The Dragons hadn't been teleported into Gallia like the rest of the troops. Instead they stood on the border between Gallia and Goldoa ready for word to strike the Tuaparang with a surprise attack from the south.
"Which is exactly why we're here to help," Micaiah leaned forward in her chair so she could get a better look around the room.
"Ravens and Cats have been out scouting enemy positions and so far they've only taken refuge in the mountains using the altitude to their advantage." Ranulf pointed to a map in the middle of the table showcasing the current locations of Tuaparang troops. "From the reports the Ravens have given the enemy is no longer receiving any troops in their airships, only supplies. They have quickly, and rather efficiently, cut down trees to build small wall that we'll have to get past before we'll be able to use the lifts they've left behind to climb to the top and put an end to what troops they have up top."
"A few concerns," Sanaki folded her hands in her lap as she laid back in her chair. "We know that the Umbra Adepts are going to be a problem, our troops won't be able to tell them apart from a normal soldier. Next, from what Yune told us the Tuaparang have something up their sleeve that they claim is an effective weapon against the laguz. Have we thought up any ways to deal with these things?"
"Yes," Skrimir bellowed happily, "little Himi has found a way for us to be able to sense Psynergy."
"You have?!" Karis erupted, standing up she looking at her friend in shock.
"I have," Himi calmly answered. "Even non-Adepts can have a Djinn set to them. While it doesn't grant them any increase in strength or Psynergy like they do for us, it does let them see an Adept use Psynergy."
"That's it?" Karis' eyebrow quivered in rage. "All it takes is giving them a Djinn? All those day spent studying magic in Begnion… useless." The Jupiter Adept melted back into her chair, defeated.
"You should have been out training like I told you Karis," Tyrell let out a laugh at his friend's predicament.
"Now we're left with trying to figure out what the Tuaparang's anti-laguz weapon is," Sothe grimaced knowing Daein's past with exploiting the laguz was not the best. The country was right up there with Begnion when it came to crimes against the laguz.
"Any speculation on what they might have?" Elincia asked in hopes that the Beast and Bird Tribes might have been able to find out something about what was going on.
"None," Ranulf shook his head knowing that anti-laguz weapon was going to be the biggest problem in the fight. Trying to hold back the Beast Tribe army was going to be near impossible with their homeland being invaded. What was worse was there was no real way to stop the laguz citizen from getting caught up in the mess, they couldn't keep everyone from trying to fight the Tuaparang.
"A few Ravens will continue to run aerial reconnaissance during the fight," Tibarn informed the other royalty. "They keep us posted on what's happening throughout the battlefield, engaging in battle only if they absolutely have to. I plan to keep as many of my men from being killed by this 'secret weapon' and the Ravens have the speed necessary to flee."
"We'll have to inform the soldiers to look for anything that seems to be targeting the laguz that are joining the fight," Elincia said. "They'll need to report back as soon as they find out about the weapon so we can get rid of it."
"Gallia's army will rush in once the weapon has been gotten rid of and we will crush the Tuaparang under our fangs and claws," Skrimir boasted. It certainly was true that once the anti-laguz weapon was disposed of the entirety of the Beast Tribe's army would come barreling down on the Tuaparang camp.
"For now let's focus on a problem we can overcome, their wall." Sothe pointed to the part of the map where the majority of the Tuaparang troops were located.
Colonel Richter of the Tuaparang stood in the middle of his camp on the continent of Tellius. His chestnut brown hair was kept short, barely longer than a buzz cut. Like the other Tuaparang Richter wore full body armor, his helmet off only because he currently had no need for it. A strong man, Richter was able to wear a thicker set of armor and move with relative ease. If everything was going according to his master's plans, Alex would have dispatched of the useless High Empyror by now. With his master on the throne Richter knew that he would lead the Tuaparang to the glory they sought and soon they would rule the world.
Richter was one of the first men to join Alex's side after the Adept had come to first visit the High Empyror. He craved battle and was known for his cruel methods of fighting in the eastern parts of Weyard. An Umbra Adept, Richter used his Psynergy to instill fear and dread in the minds of his opponents, he was not above using the Dark Psynergy to generate illusions or to turn friend against foe. Whatever he could do to weaken the enemy, Richter would use it, even at the cost of his own troops.
At the moment Richter was waiting for the next shipment that was supposed to come from Weyard. It housed a monster that even General Dia hadn't been able to fully corrupt. A team of twelve Umbra Adepts had been needed in addition to Dia's power in order to get the monster to not attack the Tuaparang. Even now it took four Umbra Adepts working together in order to keep the creature from laying waste to the troops. It wouldn't matter much once they got it out into the woods. Richter's plan was to have the four Adepts bring the creature into the forest and station him as a blockade. Once it was placed Richter would call back the Adepts and make sure that his men weren't stationed anywhere near the monster. Part of his plan was to create a large hole in their defenses, in the midst of battle the Tellians wouldn't spot the trap and even if they did there was nothing that they could do about what was waiting for them.
"Colonel Richter," a nameless grunt appeared in front of his commanding officer with a salute. "It has arrived." A smile danced across Richter's face as he looked up at the arriving airship. Inside was one of their more powerful trump cards.
"Make sure that it's unloaded carefully, I don't want any mishaps. Those Tellians aren't going to give us much time."
When the first Raven had been spotted, Richter knew that they would no longer have the element of surprise on their side, somehow the Tellians had figured out that they were coming. Not only had they found out that, they had managed to locate the base. All efforts had then been put into constructing the wall. The forests of Gallia were the perfect starting point for the invasion of Tellius. Thickly wooded there was little chance of the running into any human made siege weapons. With the Tellians' Fire Magic they ran the chance that the wooden wall would be set aflame. In attempts to make sure that this wasn't going to happen Richter had sent the loggers farther into the forest so the tree line was close enough that it was in danger of getting hit by the Sage's fire.
Richter went and followed after the grunt that had informed him of the airship's arrival, he didn't trust that the cargo would be unloaded carefully without proper supervision. Reaching the mountain side Richter and the soldier climbed into what was basically a small metal box meant to hold three people. A small bell hung from one of the ropes attached to the box, the soldier rang it twice to let the soldiers up top know how many wanted to come up. At the top the guys operating the lift would adjust the counterbalance. It was a simple set up but that's what allowed it to be put together quickly and speed was paramount.
Reaching the summit Richter stepped off the lift and onto solid ground. A large airship hovered above the ground, a large metal crate was being lowered down, steel cables the only thing supporting the crate. The wenches of the airship groaned under the strain of the crate, they weren't made to handle such heavy items. Slowly but surely the crate was lowered down to the ground and the cables released by swift hands.
"Don't open it!" Richter command, already people had been moving to do such. "We need Adepts up here on the double! General Dia went to great lengths to procure this for use in the war." Everyone backed away from the crate, knowing that if Dia was involved that inside lurked a monster.
In accordance with his orders a group of Umbra Adepts were brought to the landing site where they readied their powers to work on the creature that lay inside. The Psynergy spell was a simple one, they were to influence the mind of the monster and keep it calm. When they wanted to send it out against something they would enrage it and do their best to point it in the direction of who they wanted dead. The initial breaking of the monster's will was what took a great deal of power and was beyond the average Umbra Adept's pay grade.
Six Adepts took position in front of the box, all of them glowing with Psynergy. A single word from Richter and the door to the crate fell down revealing the contents. It was a hulking figure that stood twice as tall as any of the Tuaparang soldiers. Clanking sounds were all that echoed from the crate as the monster stepped out.
"This will win the battle," Richter grinned as he looked up at the creature that had been sent to assist them in conquering Tellius.
Himi walked through the forest behind a group of Begnion Halberdiers. Their armor was thicker than the standard Soldier armor as proof of their time spent training. Nothing any of the Halberdiers wore could compare to the armor of the General class units that trudge behind Himi. So thick that their movement was greatly hampered, these soldiers could form a virtual wall that the enemy would break against. Right now the plan was to have the Generals and the few Marshals, Generals that have Class Changed once more, that the army had would take the front lines hoping to be able to stop the Tuaparang crossbows. From behind Snipers, Marksmen, and various magic users would launch attacks at the lightly armored Tuaparang trying to break their ranks.
Once they broke the Tuaparang ranks the speedier units would dash forth to further disrupt the enemy. In this mix of beorc units would be a few Cats and Ravens. All of them understood that they were to keep an eye out for whatever the enemy had in store for the laguz and flee if they sensed anything wrong.
In this battle Himi would be taking on the role of one of the Begnion Sages. Tyrell had swapped Djinn with her, leaving her now with four Mars Djinn turning her from a Master Miko into a Puppet Sage. She lost her ability to command plant life but gained the ability to summon skeletal soldiers, plus she could conjure a fireball if needed. With this Psynergy set she was a commander of the spiritual. Focusing on attacking with Psynergy Himi was also supposed to be on the lookout for any Adepts in the enemy ranks, alert the soldier to them, and take them out as fast as she could.
One of the reasons that she had switched with Tyrell was for her ability to summon dead soldiers and to give her access to Mars Psynergy. Her dragons would be too big to summon in the densely packed forest while her skeletal summons would actually be able to move around. Giving her Mars Psynergy was to allow her to burn parts of the forest that she, or the commander, deemed necessary. Amiti was on standby ready to blast the flames with a various levels of Douse Psynergy to keep the flames conjured by Himi and the Fire Sages. He wasn't the only one on fire control, Karis and the Wind Sages would generate winds to blow the fire in the desired direction. Keeping damage to the forest a minimum was a big requirement placed on the Sages. As for Tyrell, he was to blast away at the Tuaparang ranks with both Venus and Mars Psynergy, a job he was more than capable of doing.
Pegasus Knights and Wyvern Riders were at a disadvantage until they reached the base of the Tuaparang. Until the ground troops reached the mountain the flying troops were being held in reserve. Raven laguz were able to navigate the forest with only some difficulty. For the Hawks, they were holding back until the Tuaparang used their secret weapon, once they knew what it was and how to deal with it the Hawks would make their way to the battlefield. A few mounted messengers would be running back and forth between the groups keeping everyone up to date on what was happening.
"You ready Himi?" Mist asked as she and Rolf both rode up to her. Rolf had been training long and hard to be able to use his bow from the back of a horse that he was controlling, today was going to be his first real test of skill. The Valkyrie had a Florete blade strapped to her horse within easy reach and a Mend Staff in her hand ready to heal any of the Generals that got injured.
"Yes," the young Venus Adept nodded as she clutched her staff. "The Tuaparang were originally Weyard's problem. It's only right that we help remove them from Tellius." She may look young but Himi was indeed a princess that had been trained to deal with all the social calls her stature required of her. This upbringing is what fueled the small princess' resolve to rid Tellius of the Tuaparang, she had to correct the mistake of not having her father be more active in his duties to Weyard.
"That's the spirit little one," Skrimir bellowed as he stood next to the small group of familiar faces. There was no holding the Beast King back from the front lines. He was here to lead his people, even if he wasn't going to be taking part in the battle, everyone had been able to convince him of that much at least. "We will drive them back across the sea that they crossed to reach us or squash them where they stand."
"That's if you even get the chance to fight," Sanaki, along with Sigrun and Tanith all walked alongside Mist and Rolf. The two Seraph Knights were mounted on their Pegasi ready to whisk their Empress out of the field and back to safety at a moment's notice. Their skill with the flying horse was great enough that they would be able to safely, while somewhat slowly, navigate the forest. "My soldiers will finish off the Tuaparang before the Beast Tribe is called upon."
"You overestimate your power," Skrimir growled at the leader of the Begnion troops.
"We'll see soon enough." A smug grin graced the face of the young apostle while they continued their march.
As one would expect in a time of crisis such as this, the weapons that had been blessed by Yune were all gathered together. They had been distributed among a select few warriors. Empress Sanaki was the one that had gotten the highest fire spell out there, Rexflame. Cymbeline still hung hidden somewhere in her robes for when she didn't need to use the blessed magic. Not as strong as Rexflame, Cymbeline still packed quite the punch. Not only was the magical ruler wielding Rexflame, she was also one of those that had gotten a Djinn from the Adepts. A Jupiter Djinn floated around inside Sanaki enabling her to see those using Psynergy. In total there were sixteen Djinn, four from each Adept, that had been given to Tellians to let them see the power of the enemy Adepts.
After another fifteen minutes of marching they had finally reached the spot close enough to the Tuaparang base that the Generals moved to the front. From here on out everyone would be on high alert ready for any sign that their foes were coming. Once the change in formation was made they proceeded once more, heading towards the mountain where the Zenith Tribe had taken up residence.
Their change in formation had been the right thing to do for soon they came across a small group of black clad soldiers of the Tuaparang nation. Running away the Tua Warriors would randomly fire a few bolts at the advancing Generals. From the distance they were being shot at the crossbow bolts lost the power needed to penetrate the thick armor leaving little more than scratches on the red and gold armor.
Advancing further the amount of resistance they met increased. It was getting to the point that Mist and other healers had to patch up a few Generals after each encounter. Each time they ran into a group of Tuaparang they would fire off a few bolts before running back into the forest. Even someone like Himi who hadn't taken part in a war got the feeling they were being lured into something. For all appearances it looked as if the army was ignoring this feeling as they continued their march into enemy territory. All the troops had seen real battle and understood that they were possibly walking into a trap, experience was a harsh teacher but ingrained her lessons into your mind. At this point there wasn't much more they could do than to walk headfirst into the trap, they needed to end this battle before the enemy built their defenses up anymore.
Soon the first real battle started. Hanging from the trees by their mechanical grappling hooks the Tua Warriors shot a cloud of bolts at the advancing army. Bunching together the Halberdiers and Generals brought their shields up to block the assault. Even packed as tightly as they were a few of the bolts got past the shield, some even punctured the armor piercing the arm that held the defensive item up. Once the rain of bolt was done the soldiers of Begnion, Daein, and Crimea returned fire on the hanging Tuaparang. Floating in the air like they were everyone thought they would be easy targets. However, the grappling hooks were linked to a machine on the armor, with the press of a button the Tua Warriors pulled themselves back up into the trees, out of the path of the arrows.
With some help, lightly armored units like Swordmasters, made their way up into the trees after the Tua Warriors. Equipped with enchanted weapons that could launch magic attacks the lightly armored troops fought above the company. Whenever one of the soldiers fell down a healer would rush over to see if their magic would be able to aid the injured in any way.
The next battle they had run into was what you might call an actual battle. Unlike the normal Tua Warriors wielding crossbows, these Tua Infantry used swords and axes. Their armor was slightly bulkier than the Tua Warrior's set giving the impression that they were here to actually fight rather than make sneak attacks. Finally able to fight against the opponent the Generals spread out to allow the Halberdiers, Paladins, Swordmasters, and other troops out onto the battlefield, the fight had truly started. Mixed in with the beorc troops were a few of the Cats and Ravens that were acting as bait.
Himi felt the air around her heat up as Sanaki took out her Cymbeline to blast away at the enemy. Watching the fire that the Empress called forth make its way over to the Tuaparang Himi was impressed by the amount of power the magic had. Even when she was using Mars Djinn she had a hard time coming anywhere near the amount of flames that Sanaki had managed to produce. Some of Tyrell's and Eoleo's Psynergy could replicate that much fire, but that had been near the end of their journey and Himi hadn't gotten to see much of it.
"Advance!" Sigrun commanded the troops. "Cut a path through the enemy so that we may reach their base and halt their invasion before it even begins!" A battle cry echoed in answer to Sigrun's command as the united Tellians attacked. Lances, axes, and swords flashed in the dim light of the forest as they cut through the air and through flesh.
Sages and bow wielders stood in the back picking off any Tuaparang member they could spot without needlessly endangering the lives of their allies. Still, the backlash of spells, an arrow fired under the stress of battle, these things were bound to hit more than just the enemy. Nothing seemed to slow either side of the battle down. Cut down one soldier on either side and another was there to take his place in an instant, this was war.
In the midst of this frenzy, the first laguz succumbed to the Tuaparang's unknown weapon. An orange Cat suddenly turned on the nearest person, completely forgetting the Tua Infantry that it had been fighting. Tanith had been the one to spot the out of control feline and soon vines erupted out of the ground as Tyrell used Wild Growth to hold it in place, the Psynergy granted to him by the Venus Djinn he'd gotten from Himi. Allies of the Cat surrounded it to protect them from attacks while Saints and Bishops rushed over to check what was going on with the laguz. One took out a Restore Staff, the light blue crystal held at the top shone brightly basking the Cat in its light. Ceasing its struggling the laguz reverted back to his human form, the vines fell to the ground freeing him. Rushing him over to the group of commanders they waited to see if he remembered what had caused him to go berserk like that.
"It was a green dust," the Cat told the leaders. "The human threw it in my face and the next thing I knew my bloodlust had taken over."
"He acted much like the Feral Ones," Sanaki observed.
"Yes, but they were under Izuka's control when we fought against him." Tanith informed them. She had been with Elincia's group during the split and seen what Izuka had done to the laguz.
"He needed a potion to administer to the laguz, would a powder be able to inflict such a frenzy?" Sigrun asked as she watched the battlefield for any more laguz that may succumb to the effects of this powder.
"Will that man's research haunt my people years after his death?!" Skrimir raged at the idea of more Feral Ones being created. Most of what he knew about the laguz that had been experimented on and turned into mindless fighting beast came from Ranulf and the reports of the old wars.
"My sister would know the most, she was the one that spent the most time with him." Sanaki turned to one of the riders that was waiting in the back ready to relay any message. "You, go and inform Queen Micaiah that her presence is need over here. We have found out what the Tuaparang's weapon is and require her insight." With a quick salute the messenger was off in the direction of where Micaiah and Sothe were. They had the royal members spread out to keep their powerful units from being taken out all at once should things go south.
Knowing that whatever the Tuaparang were using could be countered with the Restore Staff was a blessing. Still, just barely, keeping the laguz back the healers were able to their staves on the affected laguz before they were able to do too much damage. While the healers were able to deal with the berserk felines and birds, they were doing enough damage to the united Tellians that it was becoming a hassle. Never knowing when the laguz fighting next to you might turn and attack you was nerve wracking and distracted the beorc they were fighting next to.
Longer than they had anticipated, Micaiah and the messenger soon returned, the Queen of Daein riding on the horse of the messenger. Dismounting the Queen ran over with all the grace of common housewife, not very befitting of a ruler.
"You found out what they're using?!" Micaiah asked when she stopped in front of Sanaki and Skrimir. The Empress explained what the affected laguz had all reported and what they had felt during their time affected. "It does sound like they're being turned into something like the Feral Ones," the silver haired queen agreed. "What I don't understand is how it's so easily healed. Does it really make a useful weapon if we have the means to cure it?"
"If the battle continues like this it would depend on what runs out first, our Restore Staves or their supply of this powder." Sigrun had her arms folded over her chest as she thought long and hard about their current stock of the medical staves. "If we had the time to I'd rather we pull back and find a way to destroy their stores of this powder before we continued to fight."
"We can't," Skrimir reminded them. "If we allow these insects to stay here they will build their fortress in my forest and only become harder to destroy."
"We know," Sanaki sighed at the Lion King. "Sigrun's idea is good in a perfect world. Right now we need to figure out a way to make the laguz immune to the dust rather than simply healing them of the effects."
"Is there such a way in the middle of a battle?" Himi asked unsure of what the Tellians were capable of doing during times of war.
"Normally no," Micaiah answered the young Adept. "But we need to find a way regardless. If we knew what the stuff was made of we'd stand a better chance of dealing with it."
"Someone is going to have to find one of their pouches of the stuff and bring it back to us." Tanith shifted her weight as she spoke. She wasn't used to standing by idly while others fought.
In the distance the sounds of a tree tipping over and falling to the ground echoed over the roar of the battlefield. Tua Warriors and Infantry started to move backwards as the sounds of falling trees came closer and closer. Out from behind the trunks that blocked it from view a large body emerged onto the field. Himi's eyes widened in shock as she recognized the being that now graced the battlefield. Dark blue armor sucked the light out of the air around the monster giving it a menacing look. Standing taller than any of the soldiers the armored figure held a longsword pale blue sword in its right hand. This blade was finely crafted and was kept sharp, that much was clear even from the distance Himi stood. In the monster's left hand was a shield. This shield had the metal worked into a face with hollow eyes and white fang. A red tattered cape hung off the back of the armor, cuts from weapons and holes from years of wear showed the age of the cape. The most defining feature of this armor clad creature was the fact its head was missing. In the place of its head a light blue flame flickered back and forth. Even without eyes, you got the feeling that this monster, the Dullahan, was staring at you.
"How can it be?" Himi asked in a whisper as she remembered her group's fight against the Dullahan. He had been the guardian of the Iris Summon tablet. Nothing they had faced had prepared them for the strength the headless warrior possessed. It had taken the efforts of all eight Adepts working together to bring down the beast so that they may lay claim to the power of the sun.
"What is it little Himi?" Skrimir asked, not knowing the raw power the new foe had.
"That's the Dullahan. He was the strongest thing we had ever faced. After we had come down from the Apollo Lens we heard about a whirlpool that was transporting people to a dangerous island." Himi's eyes never left the hulking figure that had appeared as she spoke. In fact she was almost shaking as she looked at the Dullahan. "Figuring that it was possibly linked to the events we had triggered we felt the need to investigate this island. At the bottom lay the summon tablet for Charon. Not only Charon was there though, in another room lay the tablet for Iris. Dullahan was the guardian. It took all of us to defeat and we still came out greatly injured. Tyrell and Sveta were both knocked out."
The first fight against Iris' guardian had been hell on earth for the eight Adepts. They had thought that the Chaos Chimera had been strong, they had been wrong. Dullahan exuded a presence that spoke of its mighty power. Even now the Tellians that were near the monster could gauge that it was beyond their means to combat. Either brave or stupid, a few laguz and beorc charged the Dullahan who easily swatted them away like they were nothing.
I am the shadow, the keeper of light. If you want the sun's power, show me your own. The voice of the Dullahan echoed in the minds.
"They're using Umbra Psynergy to trick the Dullahan into thinking it's still back on Crossbone Isle." Himi shifted under the "gaze" of the monster as it stood ready waiting for those brave enough to challenge it. As if to confirm what Himi thought, a few Umbra Adepts could be spotted hiding behind the monster, protected by soldiers. The white glow of Psynergy could be seen around the Adepts, clear to Himi and those who had Djinn with them.
While the arrival of the Dullahan had put a stop to the attacks of the Tuaparang for a little bit, they now felt safe enough to launch another wave of attacks on the distracted Tellians. A few crossbow bolts whizzed through the air and lodged themselves into unsuspecting Tellians who dropped down dead or gasped out in pain. Brought back to reality the troops did their best to stay away from the Dullahan who didn't seem inclined to move from his spot until an unfortunate soldier came within striking distance of his sword.
"Looks like a worthy opponent has come forth," the King of the Beast Tribe walked towards the Dullahan. Before the Lion got within striking distance of the blade he changed into the red furred lion that was his beast form. A challenging roar burst from the lion's maw before he charged at the Dullahan.
The battle was raging on while Karis could only stand in the back, using her Psynergy and archery to pick off Tua Warriors and the newer Tua Infantry. A messenger had come from Sanaki's group telling the commanders, Elincia, Tibarn, and Ceineghis, that they had run into the Tuaparang's weapon and were currently trying to figure out a way to combat it. So far the group Karis was fighting alongside hadn't run into any of this mysterious powder that had been mentioned. Because of this the laguz that Ceineghis and Tibarn had been holding back had been let loose on the enemy troops. Both the Lion and the Hawk were on the field themselves, their intense strength cutting down foes.
Elincia however, was not on the field. Her skills with her pegasus, while great, where not good enough to navigate through the tightly packed trees. As for her swordsmanship, it too wasn't the best it could be. The Crimea Queen had spent most of her training on horseback so her sword skills were rusty when it came to fighting on the ground. She was still far from useless, her magic powers were put to use with a Physic Staff, healing allies from a distance. Not only this, she was one of the holders of a Restore Staff so if they did run into any of the powder she would be in charge of healing the berserk laguz. When the battle moved to an open area Elincia would mount her pegasus and take to the field wielding her blade Amiti.
Karis spotted one of the Hawks stop in the middle of its attack. What could only be described as a look of confusion passed over the laguz's face before it turned on the nearest Crimea soldier. The Lance Paladin was caught off guard when the Hawk turned on him. Talons raked across the white armor of the mounted lancer pushing him off his horse. Another Crimean soldier rushed over to his ally's aid, keeping the crazed Hawk from attacking the downed man. The change in the Hawk's behavior was expected to come at some point so when the Bishops, Saints, and other healers moved to restore the laguz's mental state.
"They were right, he acted just like a Feral One." Elinica held out her Physic Staff, a soft glow came from the crystal atop it, in the distance a soldier was bathed in the same light, his wounds healing over.
"Elincia!" Titania shouted as one of the Tua Infantry broke free of the skirmish and raced straight towards the queen. Karis, along with a few other archers and Sages, were in the midst of turning to get rid of the threat when a dark sphere of energy came out of the ground and exploded in front of the Tua.
Clutching a black tome was the Summoner Sol. Still saying that he couldn't make any of the tomes he used for others, the practitioner of the fell arts was the sole user of the Flux spell that had just blasted the Tuaparang soldier. As one of the few Dark Sages that were employed by any country, the Summoner had been brought along to serve alongside the queen he had a debt to. Pelleas couldn't be found anywhere and so the powerful Dark Tome, Balberith, sat with Elincia for now. Begnion's and Daein's Dark Sages didn't have the skill needed to use the blessed tome. Until such a time that Elincia felt she could trust her Summoner, she would hold onto the darkest of tomes.
As the battle raged on the united Tellians inched forward. Not only were the Tuaparang making good use of their Umbra Adepts to cloud the minds of the army, they were also able to suck the light of the area leaving the soldiers literally in the dark. These dark spheres would then have Tua Warriors turn the area into a pincushion, killing the blinded soldiers inside. These mental games the Umbra Adepts played weren't the only form of assistance they gave to their allies. Much like Tellius' dark spells, the dark Adepts were able to launch attacks of pure dark energy.
That first Hawk that had turned seemed to have marked the start of the Tuaparang's usage for the powder. All the healers were kept busy trying to help the Tigers and Hawks recover from the effect of it. They were so swamped with using the Restore Staves that they had little time to administer the normal healing of the Heal and Mend Staves. Karis, who had no way to cleanse the mind of the laguz, had taken to using her Breeze Psynergy to help patch up what few wounds she could, a healer she was not.
"Elincia," Karis spoke to the queen.
"What is it?" A pained and tried look was on the older woman's face for a second when she answered the teenager. Elincia may not have been taking part in the fighting so to say, but having to stand back and heal was taxing in its own right.
In answer to the queen's question Karis held up her hand, in between each finger was a Djinn crystal. Karis was proposing that she used the Adept's ace in the hole, a summon. All Karis could do with the summon was direct the area that the creatures power would hit, anyone caught inside the area would get hit by the summon's power. In order to prevent mass injuries from incurring on their side the Adepts had to hold back their summons. Each commander was able to give the order for them to unleash the elemental energy stored up in the Djinn crystals. Without Elincia's consent Karis wasn't supposed to use any of the four summons currently available to her.
"As far away from our troops as you are able," Elincia gave the command.
Nodding Karis tossed the three Djinn crystals into the air. "Powers of wind blow on my command and vanquish my foes. Procne!" The image of a giant beakless bird appeared in the air above Karis. Flying out it headed towards the rear of the Tuaparang army where it spread its ethereal wings. A raging whirlwind picked up a large amount of Tuaparang soldiers, some of them Umbra Adepts. Sadly a few Crimean soldiers got caught in the suction of the gale. Lifting the those caught in the winds up above everyone, Procne unleashed a Jupiter aligned series of orbs. These orbs converged on the unfortunate souls caught in the whirlwind. When the orbs vanished, the winds died down and Porcne vanished from sight. Before the winds had fully died down, Elincia was using her staff to heal the troops that had been caught up in the summon.
A Lion laguz came tumbling towards Elincia and Karis, it was tangled up with a Tiger that had been hit with the berserker powder. Massive, the red Lion used its hind legs to push the smaller grey Tiger off. Stunned for a few seconds from the force, the Tiger lay on the ground giving the healing Queen time to switch her staff. Glowing blue light encompassed the Tiger as the effects of the restore took place.
"Excuse me," the callous voice of Sol said as he made an appearance. Kneeling in front of the Tiger the robed man took the muzzle which was dyed green. Running two fingers over the dusty face of the feline some of it stuck to Sol's fingers. Bringing it to his face Sol took a whiff.
"What are you doing?" Caineghis asked as he returned to his human form.
"When I saw this on the Tiger I thought it looked familiar." Sol held up his fingers to show the dust that coated them. "And I was right. It seems to be akin to the ingredient that caused Lethe to go crazy back in Melior. Mind you what I use is far more diluted than this."
"Are you telling me you know what the Tuaparang are using?" Elincia questioned.
"More or less," the Summoner answered. "If this is, and I do mean if, like the stuff I use back home then we might be able to inoculate the laguz. Luckily we're in Gallia so I'm hoping that there's a greater store of olivi grass." Caineghis nodded. Olivi grass was something the laguz used to induce their transformation. "Good. As I'm certain you know Caineghis," Sol spoke respectfully to the former Lion King, "when heated olivi grass releases a sap. If you mix this sap in with a standard elixir and some of this powder it should create a potion capable of making the laguz immune to the effects of the powder."
"How do you know this?"Caineghis and Elincia asked in unison
"My sister-in-law is an herbalist, I've helped her out more than a few times. We've been working on a counter for a while now and this is what we've come up with. Though we've had no one to try it on for obvious reasons."
"If it doesn't work we're no worse off than before," Karis pointed out. Still the two royal members seemed to be lost in a mental debate if whether or not they should take the Summoner's advice. A lot was riding on if this worked or not.
"She's right Caineghis said." It was his people that were going to be the ones ingesting the concoction. He no longer may be king, but he was in charge of the Beast Tribe in this part of the army. When it came down to it, he had final say in whether or not they took the chance this might work.
Taking some olivi grass from the Tiger that he had wrestled with Caineghis gave it over to Sol. No real access to fire they had to call over a Fire Sage who used his magic to heat the air around the grass causing the clear sap to come out of the blades. Uncorking an elixir that he had stashed away in his robes Sol let the sap drop into the bottle. After that he rubbed his fingers together to get what powder he could off. A few flakes of the green dust fell into the open bottle turning the contents a dark purple. Caineghis took the new medicine from Sol and looked at it.
"Not to sound rude but it'd be best if someone weaker than you tested it out," Sol told the Lion. Whoever drank the new elixir would have to purposefully get a face full of the berserker powder. If Caineghis was this person and the medicine failed to prevent him from turning, they'd have a hard time restraining the Lion long enough for a Restore Staff to be used on him.
"I'll do it sire," the previously infected Tiger offered.
"Are you sure?" Caineghis questioned as he held out the bottle. Without hesitation the Tiger swiped the bottle out of the Lion's hand.
"Just a sip," Sol informed the laguz that had been about to down the contents in one gulp.
Once he had taken a drink the Tiger turned back into his beast form and ran off back into the fight. Now they would have to wait until he got another face full of dust to see if anything would happen to him or not. Able to sniff out the scent of the very thing that had turned him before it didn't take long for the Tiger to find a Tuaparang with some left. Much to the joy of the Tellians, the Tuaparang did exactly what they had hoped he'd do. A puff of green powder assaulted the Tiger's face. Everyone who knew that the Tiger had taken the medicine watched and waited to see if anything happened. All the Tiger did was stand there for a few seconds, probably because he too was waiting to see if anything happened to him. Staring at the Tiger in shock the Tua Warrior was held in place by his surprise, not for long though as the Tiger pounced and proceeded to attack the Tuaparang soldier.
"It works," Elincia gasped, "we have to tell the others." Turning to the messenger that stood by Elinica made sure that he understood exactly what had just happened and to get word to the others as fast as possible.
For the next step, it was a matter of collecting enough of the powder to mix with elixirs to inoculate the entire laguz army. Specific troops that had the speed and cunning needed to pilfer the bags of powder were given the task of procuring enough of the item. Rogues vanished into the frenzy and started working at fulfilling their duty.
"Skrimir out of the way!" Sanaki shouted at the Lion as she prepared to cast Rexflame. Getting one last strike out against the Dullahan, Skrimir launched himself off the shield and away from the monster. Red energy poured out of the blessed tome as the spell started. Coating the ground the energy gave off the appearance of lava in the middle of a volcano. Converging on the Dullahan, the powerful Rexflame spell showed the Weyard creature the power of Tellius magic.
When the spell died down Skrimir charged back in taking advantage of the small stagger the powerful spell had caused. Body checking the headless foe the Lion tried to move back away from the Dullahan. Speedy as the bulky laguz was, he couldn't dodge the spirits that flew out of the mouth of the shield. Dullahan had used his Haunt Psynergy to call forth wandering spirits to, well, haunt Skrimir. Each of these spirits had their own mind, only if Dullahan had been able to call forth a malicious spirit would any problems occur. This time around all the ghosts simply passed through the Beast Tribe King, going back to their resting places.
A fully armored skeletal soldier wielding a large two-handed sword hobbled toward the Dullahan. Himi had called it forth with her Undead Curse Psynergy. The skeleton would fight until Himi stopped supplying it with Psynergy. Even if it was to break apart from an attack it would just reassemble itself, at a great cost to Himi's Psynergy reserve. Doing a jumping strike the undead warrior struck the Dullahan with a great deal of force. Crossing blades with the skeleton, Dullahan engaged in a short exchange of blows, ending with the skeleton collapsing in a heap as Himi cut off her Psynergy supply. The warrior had done his job, get a blow in against the frightful creature.
Taking his sword and running it through the mouth of the shield, Dullahan prepared his Fulminous Edge. Lightning crackled around the light blue blade as the monster walked towards Skrimir who was the only one that was close enough to have to worry about the blade. At that moment Nephenee, who had been fighting alongside the Halberdiers, appeared next to Skrimir with her shield raised to protect them from the electrically charged blade. The blue armored Sentinel braced herself for the attack. Even with blocking the blow, Nephenee was pushed back by the force behind the attack. Falling to a knee she held the Wishblade ready to strike back at her opponent. The strongest lance on Tellius met the hard Alchemy forged armor of the Dullahan. Years of wielding a lance was the only thing that stopped Nephenee from dropping her weapon as the reverberation that flowed down her arm was like nothing she had felt before.
"We need someone who can use Wind magic!" Himi informed her allies. Of course most of the Sages around them were Fire Sages and what few Wind Sages they had on hand were busy keeping the flames that had sprung up from spreading the wrong way. While a few troops, those of great power, had hung back to deal with the Dullahan, most of the army had gone forth after the retreating Tuaparang.
Rolf rode out of the woods with a Silver Bow in hand. Firing at the armored foe he got the Dullahan's attention long enough for Nephenee and Skrimir to move away. Coming from the same direction her boyfriend did, Mist swung her Florete in the direction of her foe. A black blade of energy left the sword and headed straight for Dullahan.
"All we have is Light and Fire though," Micaiah was holding the Rexaura in her hands as she watched the battle unfold. Seeing that no one was near the enemy began casting the highest of Light spells. A small yellow cloudy orb of light appeared as the Daein Queen traced invisible lines in the air to activate the powers. Pointing her palm at the Dullahan that light orb flashed over to above the headless creature, only much larger and with rings of light surrounding it. Falling down, the spell crushed Dullahan under the pressure of holy might.
Out of the light the Dullahan strode forth with only minor dents to his armor. A black pool of energy appeared behind it as it stood there. Himi's mind raced through the attacks that she remembered from her last fight with this beast.
"No," she gasped realizing that Dullahan was performing a summon. "Everyone, move out from in front of him!" Sigrun on her pegasus swooped in and picked up Sanaki to carry her away from the growing energy. Mist and Rolf rode by Nephenee and a human Skrimir, carrying them both away. Micaiah and Himi started running, Tanith trying to make her way towards the two as Dullahan finished the preparations for summoning Charon. A ghost-like figure of the ferryman appeared from out of the pool of dark energy. Raising a skeletal hand out from blood-red tattered robes the figure directed the energy outwards to encompass the area in front of Dullahan.
Tanith was too slow, both Micaiah and Himi were caught in the edge of the blast. Both girls screamed as pain tore through their body. There were no flames, but both girls felt like they were in the middle of a raging inferno as the dark energy passed over them. It threatened to pull the life right out of them, straight out of their bodies and down to the underworld where they would met Charon. By the time the attack subsided they had both fainted.
"Tanith, get them out of here!" Sigrun ordered her second. Feeling responsible for not saving them, Tanith urged her steed to the ground where she hefted Micaiah onto the pegasus in front of her and placing the lighter Himi on her lap. With so much weight even the magical horse wouldn't be able to fly. At best it could do a short gallop, which is exactly what the rider encouraged it to do.
"This thing is powerful. It's able to take our attacks like they're nothing." Sanaki was amazed at the strength of the enemy on the ground. Even the Dragon Laguz they had fought in the Tower of Guidance had been easily handled by the Yune blessed weapons. Ashera herself had fallen to the might of these weapons. True, her final defeat had been at the hand of Ike and Yune, but everyone else had helped tire the Goddess of Order out. To know that a group of only eight teenagers had been able to take this guy down before was an amazing feat.
Both Sanaki and Sigrun glowed a faint purple as the Djinn assigned to them flowed out.
"We need an Adept," Puff stated. "I'll gather go gather our friends, we need that."
"Yep-yep," Jolt agreed. "I'll explain things to these guys" Puff turned into purple energy and zipped off at a speed only a Wind Elemental could achieve. "Remember how Himi said that Dullahan guarded the summon tablet that taught our Adepts how to summon Iris?" Sigrun and Sanaki both nodded their heads, it hadn't been that long ago. "Well there's a reason Dullahan was the guarding it, Iris is a powerful summon. We figure if she's called forth she'll have enough power to bring him down."
"Seems better than throwing ourselves against him," Sanaki scoffed, angry that she wasn't doing as much as she thought she should be able to.
This feeling of weakness didn't stop her from attacking. As Nephenee and Skrimir kept the Dullahan busy on the ground, Sanaki would fire off a Rexflame whenever the two fighters were of sufficient distance away. Rolf and Mist offered what support they could with their ranged attacks. Without a blessed weapon, or fangs, the two were doing little more than drawing attention to themselves. Mist was able to take advantage of this to rush over to Nephenee and Skrimir to patch them up. When she wasn't tending to the warriors, Mist was riding back to check on Micaiah and Himi who were being protected by Tanith.
Charon, Huant, and Fulminous Edge weren't the only moves in the Dullahan's arsenal of moves. At one point he raised his sword in the direction of the hovering pegasus. Inside her mind Sanaki could feel something forming, a dam to cut off her supply to her magic. While the tome was the vessel that actually performed the magic, a human still needed to supply a trigger for the spell. A human's own energy acted as a catalyst for the tomes and at the moment, Dullahan was trying to cut Sanaki off from this energy. Fighting with all of her will the Empress was able to resist the seal long enough that the Dullahan was forced to give up in order to deal with the threats before him.
The glow of four red lights and four blue lights followed after a lone purple light. Puff and a good number of other Djinn appeared in the air surrounding Sigrun and Sanaki.
"We need an Adept!" Puff reiterated. Only those linked to Psynergy could make the full use of Djinn, which included using them for summons.
"Mist! How's Himi doing?!" Sigrun called down to the Valkyrie.
"She and Micaiah are awake but injured! Tanith has slowly been treating them with elixirs " Mist yelled back to the Seraph Knight.
"Good enough," Puff said as the Jupiter Djinn lead its fellow elementals to the the hurt Venus Adept.
Following after the glowing lights Sigrun watched as they gathered over Himi. One of the Mercury Djinn rained down on Himi which seemed to revitalize her some. Watching the young princess wake up and see the multitude of Djinn around her Sigrun wondered just what this summoning was. She had yet to see what the power was like, apparently though it was the Adept's strongest power.
Landing next to the Miko, Sigrun watched as more red lights came out of Himi. "I see, we need to summon Iris. Collecting the Djinn needed for her should have been the first thing I'd done when saw Dullahan," Himi scolded herself. All the Mars and Mercury Djinn turned into their crystal forms and floated around the girl. Stumbling towards Dullahan with the support of Mist, Himi mentally prepared herself for the power she was about to unleash on the world.
Returning to the battle, they saw that both Nephenee and Skrimir were badly hurt. A few holes had been punctured in the dark blue armor of the amazing foe. Claw marks littered the metal but the Dullahan showed no signs of having lost an energy.
"I'm ready, get them away." The Djinn crystals around Himi started to circle around her at high speeds as she started the summoning rite for Iris. Listening to Himi, Mist and Rolf once again helped the two melee fighters get away from their foe. "Oh Goddess of the Rainbows, I beseech you. My friends are injured, my foe powerful, hope shines dimly on this field of battle. I offer you the powers of fire and water, please grace this mortal with your presence and banish my foe to the depths of space. IRIS!"
The thirteen crystallized Djinn stopped spinning at the end of the summoning chant. Before the summon truly started the Dullahan tossed down its sword and shield. Himi held back the energy that she was to use for calling Iris to figure out what the sun's guardian was doing.
You hold the power of the sun already, you have proven your worth before. I have no qualms with you. Pass, ye who have bested me in battle. Dullahan's voice echoed in the minds of everyone before his legs started to turn into dust. Slowly the entire armor was turned to dust and blown away in the wind.
"That's… it?" Nephenee sighed as the last speck of Dullahan was carried away.
"He was the guardian or Iris," Himi said aloud. "As he said, we'd won against him before. I guess when I went to summon Iris his purpose for being here was gone."
"That's kinda lame," Rolf pointed out. "I'm fine with it, means we don't have to keep fighting that guy. But if all it took was doing that, why didn't we do it before?"
"We didn't know is why," Mist informed the green haired Nomad.
"Right now, we need to catch up with the others and make sure Micaiah is okay. In order for Himi to do that summon, others had to give up their Djinn which means they can't see Psynergy." Tanith had the queen resting in front of her. With a nod from everyone, the group set off towards the front lines.
They had reached the base of the mountain. A clearing large enough for the small army to stand in was the location of the final battle against the Tuaparang forces that had invaded Tellius. Looming in front of them was a large wall made out of the trees that had once grew in the clearing the Tellians were standing in.
"Break. It. Down." Sothe command to his troops. A rallying cry burst forth from the lips of the Daein soldiers.
"You heard him, tear it down till there's nothing left!" Ranulf ordered the laguz forces. Shrieks and roars echoed in response to the command.
The third small army of Tellians had been the first to reach the clearing. Thanks to Elincia's message they had been able to deal with the laguz weapon when it reared its ugly head. Taking the least amount of damage from the weapon they had been able to push through, causing the Tuaparang to retreat to their makeshift base. Hastily built as it was, the wooden wall was an impressive sight. Not stupid enough to try breaking through it on their own, Sothe and Ranulf had waited until the other groups arrived at the scene. Elincia's group had arrived only minutes after they had, with Sanaki's group coming to the clearing a full twenty minutes later.
With all the troops gathered together they were ready to launch their attack against the Tuaparang base. Standing far enough away that they were out of range, the leaders had made sure they all understood the plan. Sothe had not been happy when he spotted the state his wife was in. It did strengthen his resolve to put an end to this short war all the quicker.
Sages using Meteor, Blizzard, and Bolting would pick off the Tua Warriors standing on the top of the wall. Those three magics were meant to be used at a great distance and would keep the casters safely out of range while they attacked. Either the Tua Warriors would stay on the wall till they all died or they would figure out retreat would be the better option. Once the wall was devoid of visible troops they would storm the wooden structure.
In order to effectively get over, or through, the wall they planned to have Warriors and Ravagers act as lumberjacks. Of course the axe using soldiers would be using a different axe to cut at the wall, keeping their weaponized axe on hand to deal with any of the enemies that may come to attack them. To help out with the destruction of the wall, Thunder Sages would cast their lightning spells to blow away chunks, the spells were able to blast away stone, wood should be much easier.
Protecting the Warriors and Ravagers would be the Sages that weren't attacking the structure itself. Meteors and Blizzards would still rain down on any Tua Warrior that poked their head above the wall. Not only that, but anyone good with a bow would move into range to help pick off the more stupid Tuaparang.
Already they had gotten their troops to the wall with a small amount of casualties, some of the Tua Warriors were an excellent shot. Parts of the wall were already coming down, places where it had been assembled by an eye that lacked attention to detail. The half circle wall wasn't going to stand much longer. Seizing this opportunity the Tellians ordered an all-out attack.
The Daein King and the blue Cat charged forward with their men to help finish off the wall and those that lie in wait behind it. What was behind those walls was anyone's guess. Reaching the group that was still hacking away at the base of the logs Sothe hid up against the remains of the wall and looked up to see if there was any crossbows trained on him. Not seeing anyone above him the Whisper ran towards one of the openings that had already been created. Passing through the logs, which were surprisingly thin, Sothe saw the carnage that was battle. The colors of Begnion, Crimea, Daein, and the Tuaparang flashed in the sunlight. Soon there was little light for even this as the skies grew dark with the arrival of the flying troops that had been held in reserve came to do battle.
Among these fresh soldiers was the famed Dragonmaster, and deliveryman, Haar. Known for sleeping on the job while his wyvern did all the work, Haar's one good eye was scanning the battlefield for enemies to strike down with his Silver Poleaxe.
"How did you manage to get here?" A Tuaparang soldier covered in abnormally thick armor questioned as Sothe faced him "General Dia had given us great gifts, the ability to turn the laguz against their allies and Weyard's strongest known monster."
"Luck and a whole lot of skill," Sothe answered the man. With his stiletto in hand the Whisper glanced all over the man in front of him. Spotting a small gap in the armor near the waist the King of Daein shot forth with great speed. Using the powers of the Whisper class, the Bane skill, Sothe cut through the weak spot in the armor and drained the life out of the high ranking soldier. Turning around, Sothe plunged the dagger into the neck of the Tuaparang.
"I was his loyal servant till the end, but I still failed. General Dia, your pupil Richter has failed you." Collapsing to the ground the man let out his dying breath. Sothe pulled his stiletto out from the man's neck and moved on to his next target.
Once they had gotten inside the wall the battle had been easy. With fresh mounted troops aiding the Tellians in battle, the Tuaparang were simply overwhelmed by the number of Tellians that had banded together to defeat them.
Gathering together, the royal members of Tellius looked at the massacre that had just happened. Micaiah had recovered from her injuries thanks to the efforts of Mist. Not all the Tuaparang had been slain, no one was that heartless. Rather, once the wall had broken, many of them had laid down their weapons and surrendered. Tied up and kept under a watchful eye the invading army had been reduced to a small cluster of soldiers that no longer had the will to fight.
"I only hope that Ike and the others are doing as well as we are," Elincia prayed to the goddess that was no longer on her homeland, but rather across the sea with the group she was wishing good luck.