It’s over. Avalel stopped his frenzied attacks and sat, overlooking the many thousands of fine Achien troops, now reduced to heaps of rotting metal. The adrenalin in his body cooled down, and the fatigue from the constant and strength-draining attacks began to kick in. He dropped the Anapadeia, his hands no longer possessing the strength to hold it for even a second more. Exhausted, he lay down on the flat ground, now reduced to a wasteland, and looked at the twilight, the burning Elyfesta slowly retreating beyond the horizon as the Achien troops had been. He had no idea how many he had cut down in those minutes, but he was sure it was enough to make Nasition fear him. Now, he has to ponder his future as this resistance movement will take long to fully recuperate. That’s when it struck him. Kavlina. I feel like she’s missing.
The mysterious voice was quick to reply. In the confusion of battle, both you and I have forgotten her. I now can’t feel her presence nearby. I am positive she’s not gone of life, but your enemies may have taken her away. It’s highly possible as she was in the way of the enemy when I last felt her presence.
You mean she may be captured?
Possibly. There isn’t any clear reason other than to humiliate you, but they would’ve made it clear.
Where do you think she may be?
I don’t know the inner workings of the current Achien government, so unfortunately, I have no idea. They either imprisoned her in a labor camp at best, or…
They have already executed her to get rid of a strong force. At her extremely weakened state then, even the weakest infantry can kill her at ease, never mind the stronger ones. However, I think the chances are slim.
So what now?
It’s best if you focus on what’s in front of you. There are many survivors in the rubble, but they will soon die if you, the only one who is at the surface, abandons them. They regard you as their leader, so you better prove yourself worthy of the position. You are young, but do not let that hinder you. You have a long path to go and you may experience many heart wrenching deaths, but you must focus on the path forward and not only look backwards in regret. Now go and lead your followers!
Avalel gazed at the ruins of the town of Thille, smoke still rising from the rubble. He then looked at the trapped rebels, awaiting for much-needed help. What a mess I have made here.
“Hey, Avalel!” a voice cried out from within the crater, “The sounds seemed to have all died down up there. Is the battle finished?” It was Fravin with about a dozen rebels.
“Yes,” Avalel replied, “The Achien army has retreated after suffering many casualties.”
A shout of joy and celebration came from the crater. Avalel saw more rebels coming out to the crater, some injured and losing blood, but all were celebrating and dancing nonetheless.
Suddenly, Avalel thought of the council members, in which only Fravin was seen from his view. “Fravin, are there any council members still alive?”
The celebration abruptly stopped. Fravin looked up to Avalel in sorrow. “No,” he solemnly replied, “They all sacrificed their lives trying to get as many to the deeper levels as possible. They only allowed me to descend. I’m sorry for my cowardice and refusing to share the fate of my friends.”
“No, no, Fravin!” Avalel quickly shouted, “You did exactly what the others wanted you to do! You should know the reason why they would die in your place! They wanted you to guide as many survivors to the lower levels as possible! If you had died with them, there would be chaos below as it is above! You shouldn’t apologize for what the other council members had intended exactly for you to do! Also, because there is still at least one council member left, you could advise and guide me and also balance my power! I’m sure that’s what the council members were thinking when they ordered you to descend!”
“Then why am I left instead of another? Why not several council members?”
“From the words I heard from Taq, the most respected council member, before he had perished he told me that you have the most potential. You’re young, but at the same time you have experience. You are cautious, but because you are cautious, you can logically analyze a perilous situation. Taq left you as a survivor to act as a counterbalance to me, in case something goes wrong if only my judgement is considered.” I am such a liar. Forgive me, Fravin. I have just barely known you, but I do believe every word that I have said.
“I guess you may be right.”
“How can we fix this mess?”
“Well, since Thille is basically completely ruined and that we lack material wealth to even rebuild it, I believe we should find shelter.”
“How about continue heading east to the nearest rebel group?” a rebel piped up, “it’s further from Achien, so we can have more time to regroup and rebuild. By joining one of the nearer and stronger organizations, we can rebuild our strength much more quickly.”
“Fravin, do you know how to get to the nearest rebel group?” Avalel asked.
“I believe we are about three days walking distance away from the territory under a rebel organization known as Frethien, the Free Lands. They’re quite powerful, and their leader wants the restoration of a monarch, just under control of the law.”
“That’s how I want my Achien to be!”
“Exactly. We have a long road to go, but if we manage to convince the leader to accept us, we can at least have a foundation.”
“What about supplies?”
Fravin paused. “I’m not sure what could we find in these ruins. I think we’ll have to live off the land.”
“I know of a small town between us and Frethien, about one day’s walking away,” another rebel chimed in, “We could resupply there.”
“How many people do we have left in the ruins?”
“I don’t really know for sure, but at least a hundred.”
“Well, then, we should start preparing now! Starting from the injured, we should quickly get everyone up to the surface before someone suffocates.” Despite the many failures, I know a new beginning is waiting for me. Bless me, my ancestors, in the quest to regain my rightful place.
Nasition entered a heavily guarded room. Inside were three doctors surrounding a badly injured patient. The person was lying still in one of the healing containers known as the Pods. A kind of bluish liquid filled up the entire pod, surrounding even the person. The occasional bubbles floated to the top before popping. Data on the health situation of the patient filled up the displays in the room.
The doctors bowed their heads slightly at the sight of Nasition. “We’re honored to have your presence, our Common Leader,” they said.
“How’s the patient?” Nasition asked.
“There seems to be an unknown power circling inside the patient,” they replied, “we’re currently attempting to understand the workings of this power.”
“I was asking about the patient’s health.”
“Oh, yes. The patient is healing very fast, but the arms cannot be fully healed. The patient’s arms will be paralyzed unless we add in bionic parts.”
“Do what you can. For the arms, put in parts that can sustain high energy levels. I need this person to be in the elite corps, and if you fail to heal the patient, then don’t expect another patient to come to you again.”
“Thank you, sire,” the doctors muttered before quickly heading back to work.
“They better give me my best elite corps member,” Nasition mumbled as he strode out. He quickly summoned his bodyguards as they walked in the complex, heading for a large room. When they had finally reached it, Nasition could only feel awe and pride for the people inside.
In there were several soldiers dressed in summer uniforms despite the fact the room had been conditioned to an almost freezing temperature. They fought each other with a variety of different weapons, their attacks aiming to deal a fatal blow every time. Their movements showed their speed and agility, as when the sped up for a charge, Nasition could feel their speed practically equal to Avalel’s. Finally, Nasition spotted the supervisor, and motioned to him with a slight raise of his hand.
“Halt!” the supervisor shouted. Immediately, the soldiers stopped and rapidly formed a row. “All hail the Klarodeis!” they saluted, their arms raised before resting on the opposite shoulder.
“Well done, my comrades,” Nasition congratulated, “You may have never fought in combat personally at the battlefield yet, but from what I have seen, your skill can outmatch virtually every enemy that the army has ever encountered. I am extremely proud of such an elite corps.”
He continued, “Although the elite corps are now only numbering of twelve highly trained soldiers, I will continue to recruit new members to your ranks. You should know that your whole life will be devoted to the country, and that you will be sent to a variety of different terrains and scenarios. I have high hopes for all of you, and I believe no other elite corps will be as strong as this one.”
He suddenly paused. “Still, there is one enemy whose skills can match or possibly even outmatch you. He is Avalel, the dead king’s son. I will need every one of you to work yourselves to your limit in order to defeat him. I will soon appoint a leader to act as the head of our elite corps, and by then, I wish you all will be ready for constant action on the battlefield. You could be working alone or as a team, but there is only one goal: to bring victory to your country and complete your designated missions. I wish you all the best, and may you bring glory on our country!” He turned and left the room, the soldiers and the supervisor saluting behind him. Nasition smiled. Avalel, you will soon meet your match.