Episode 15: City in Turmoil
I awoke early, much before dawn by the sound of an explosion. Miriam and I leaped from the makeshift beds Gallian had made for us. The poor tailor was spooked and ran out to us from his room. “Did you hear that? I wonder what it could be?”, he said clearly still mostly asleep. Outside a number of soldiers were running by the shop, one screamed “The Lightbringers have come! To arms!”. It felt like our duty to help out and face the Lightbringers. Miriam shapeshifted and flew out one of the windows. Through my mind I told her to help the soldiers and then head for the castle, no doubt the Lightbringers would threaten the king. I told Gallian to remain in his shop and to fortify the door if necessary. The attack seemed disorganized, but I knew better. They were splitting the Royal Guard into smaller groups to then use their magic to defeat them. Little did they know that my power was in direct opposition and could easily repel them.
I battled through the streets, aiding the Royal Guard when I could. Miriam was able to protect many of the guardsmen as well as myself from time to time. Magical battles were a constant thing, it appears that the Lightbringers brought mostly their light mage soldiers. The strategy was sound, mages weren’t as easy to identify unless they checked the Ether. Very few people can sense the Ether as I do, or as Balthazar did. I still hope he is somewhere safe. A powerful blast of magic was heard in the distance. One of the guards said that the Lightbringers were here to join with their general. The explosion must have been her then. Bringing her here was a mistake.
The shadows helped me push around some light mages in the hallway just before the entrance to the throne room. Once they were distracted the royal guard was able to capture them with ease. A pair of large doors barred entry to the throne room. From outside I could hear a conversation, “What have we here. The king armed and with his most trusted guardsmen. It is such a pity that I will have to slay you all”. That must have been the general, Catalina. I certainly could not permit such a thing, the king is a beloved figure. Miriam told me to bust open the doors in her signal. She had been watching the throne room from afar and could enter through a window. And indeed she did. A powerful wind blasted around the king and pushed the general back. On the other side I cast a spell to open the doors just as the gust was going through. Our plan failed however. The general cast a blinding spell and in the short moment she caught me and threatened to kill me. Her sword was at my throat, Miriam was shocked but stood beside the king ready to unleash a spell. “I would stand down if I were you. If you value the boy’s life, you will do as I say”, the general had the upper hand. My own foolishness and slow thinking led me to this. I felt a shot of pain as the blade started cutting into my skin. The torches in the castle turned into dark flames and a voice echoed through the room, “Leave him be, or do I have to teach you a lesson?”. “Balthazar! Help!”, I screamed at the top of my lungs. “Quiet you! Those will be you last words!”, I expected the sword to drive through my throat and slay me, but I felt nothing, in fact the general could not move. A number of shackles and chains appeared. The spell was a restraining spell but it was not cast by Balthazar, it was Miriam. Her amulet glowed with great intensity. I used this chance to escape. “You fools! This world has no need for people like you, now be purged!”, the general was crazed. Her rage fueled a spell of light magic that blasted the chains away, then she charged energy once again drawing every ounce of Ether she could find into herself. “Enough! I will not let you see this through! Let the power you so denounce be your undoing!”, Balthazar appeared from a portal. A blast of wind and a dark mist engulfed the general. Inside the mist that had wrapped around her some glimmers of light could be seen trying to escape. The mist transformed into orbs made of a sandy black substance. Catalina was confused, she had not encountered this magic before. “You face one of the last masters of Flux magic. I ask you, do you yield?”, Balthazar walked up to her and stopped just a few feet from her. “Never!”, the light in her hands intensified, but before she could unleash her spell the orbs created spears of dark energy that pierced the general’s body. Even in her last breaths she was defiant, “You will… pay for this… dark one…”. When Balthazar released the spell her body fell forward.
“My king… you are… well?”, Balthazar asked, but something felt off, he looked utterly exhausted. “You arrived just in time by friend, what happened to you?”, the king asked. “A protective spell guided me back to the shore after the destruction of the ship. I tried to cast a spell to try and bind our group together before we were too far, but an Ether void drained me and I lost consciousness. Kaiden, come closer. This young man saved my life. His spell helped me survive that battle as well as the void, for even though my energy was drained the bubble protected my spirit. When I regained consciousness I found myself in the eastern shore of Lyre. I remembered one of our forts there and made my way. I learned of the conflict while I meditated trying to find my friends here. The light energy was clearly the work of the Lightbringers”. “Those portals, why don’t you use them more often?”, I was curious, such a spell could surely be very useful. “Kaiden, portal spells are a very intricate and painstaking process. Not to mention they require vast amounts of energy to cast. The further the distance the more energy required. They should only be used in emergencies, I will teach you someday”, my amazement and admiration only grew more today.
Dawn had arrived. The warmth of the morning sun and the accompanying light helped us measure the damage done to the city. The Lightbringers, for being such a destructive force, didn’t actually do that much. There were some losses though. Some of the Royal Guard perished in the initial escape and those who stood on the general’s path also suffered greatly. Balthazar was happy to see us safe and proud of our bravery in defending the city. He told us that Ilyana is probably safe and that we should search for her soon. While we sat down in the throne entry hall Gallian arrived with a fruit basket and a set of robes, which he carried everywhere recently, that pulsated with dark magic. “Kaiden, Miriam, and dear me, Balthazar! You are all safe! I have brought some fruit for you to enjoy, it is not a hearty breakfast but you all need something to eat. And here, this is for you Balthazar. I studied hard to create this. I believe your old master would have wanted you to have them”, Gallian presented Balthazar with the mystical robes. Balthazar took off the raggedy cloak he had been using and quickly put on the robe, “It is strangely light for such a heavy looking robe. Did you use the thread I gave you?”. “I did, your old master imbued the thread with some powerful magic. You should not only have your power increase but your access to the Ether flow should be easier. It might give you other protections, but I do not know what spells your master was able to enchant the thread with”, Gallian looked very proud of his work. Balthazar thanked him profusely. The king arrived and saw us there. Balthazar told the king of Gallian’s service and the king promised to compensate him for his work. “People like you are a boon to our kingdom, I hope you will stay here with us”, said the king.
“The Lightbringers sought to destroy our peace, but the kingdom of Lyre earned its peace after years of war. We will show them that we will not bow down to their blind hatred. Their devotion to the light is misguided, but this light is a corrupt one. Our forces will join with Etheria, together we will push them back to where they came from and there, in the seat of their power, we will defeat them!”, the king addressed the people from the main city square near the castle. The king issued new orders to us. We were to speak with Grandmaster Zephius once again and join our forces against the Lightbringers. Once they had been dealt with here on our continent, Vanith, we would chase them across the sea and go all the way to theirs. Our success weighted heavily on the campaign here. With the general gone and many of the Lightbringer battalions in disarray now was the time to strike them down.