Episode 17: Landfall
Our joint campaign against the Lightbringers started about five days ago and already we have made major advances. Miriam, Kaiden and I took three ships, as ordered by King Adrian, and sailed to Daltrith. With the aid of some of the most renowned wind and water mages we practically flew over the waters of the Vadal. Although we are exhausted from the voyage we are motivated to continue our advance. The Cyrithian Church committed many troops and soldiers to their invasion. The combined forces of Etheria and Lyre were able to coordinate attacks against the remaining battalions. They were scattered and leaderless after the fall of their general at Lyre. Meanwhile their commander had sailed to Daltrith. I speculate that they trusted their infiltration of Lyre would provide them with a stronger foothold. Indeed, the fall of the King would have pushed the continent into disarray. Now we had advantage. As we approached the coast, guard towers spotted our advance.
The battle for the coast was swift. Our mages made short work of the guard towers by bombarding them with fire and then shaking the ground below them. The structures were not protected against such magic. The church had held power for so long in this continent that they did not expect anyone to be so bold as to attack them. We could see Cyrith to the south nestled on a tall cliff near the sea. From there a large battalion approached.
The forces of Cyrith and the allied soldiers of Etheria and Lyre were about to clash in a deadly battle. The lead knight of the Lightbringers approached and said, “Surrender to us and we will show you the one true path”. I recognized her voice in an instant but I could not believe it at first. She took off her helmet, “If you give yourselves willingly to the light you will not be harmed”. “Lies! What have they done to you Ilyana?!”, I was angered by what I was seeing. Surely she would not speak such words of devotion to the church by her own will. The Ether revealed the truth, she was under a spell. “I don’t know you, but it appears you will be the first to fall”, she dismounted, drew her sword and rushed at me. The battalion moved with her and began their attack.
Ilyana’s dexterity and skill with the blade are unmatched. It took every ounce of my magical power to keep myself ahead of her strikes. I needed to think of a way to release her from the spell she was under, and quick. My only resort was to paralyze her body and cloud her mind. One of her strikes came close to my shoulder and just as it touched my robes a jolt of energy jumped to her and froze her in place. I placed her head between my hands and unleashed dark energy. The battle around me raged on, it was difficult to concentrate but I needed to find the spell which was buried within her body. She struggled against my incursion. The influence of someone else’s will had overridden her own. I released more energy which surrounded me. Surely the enemy soldiers would move to us and try to strike me down. It is here that Kaiden and Miriam came into play. Miriam flew high and cast devastating spells that kept the Lightbringers back. Meanwhile Kaiden had created a barrier of shadows that pushed away soldiers.
Searching the corners of Ilyana’s mind I found her spirit being held down by an avatar of commander Bryce. “It seems that this will be our battlefield commander, let her go”, my own avatar materialized in this plane. At best I could describe the place as an arena that floated the void. There were no spectators and Ilyana was chained to a wall with bright magical shackles. “Ah, I remember you. You’re that pest of a dark mage that thought he could over power me. Shall I teach you another lesson? If I defeat you here, there is no turning back”, as he said this chains of light appeared in the space around the arena and encircled it. “I will not let you harm my friend. Leave her out of this”, Ilyana was visibly exhausted, she had been fighting for some time. The power of the spell that the Bryce used was great. “Oh? She will bear witness to a purge unlike any other. For in this arena I will purge the last Flux master of the world”. In this arena he was mostly in control. His spells felt even stronger than before and my magic felt weaker. As he deflected or overwhelmed my attacks, I felt as my spirit seemed to wane in response. His attacks were damaging my very soul. There was little I could do, and yet this was a battle I could not lose.
After some time of trading magical attacks that did nothing but annoy Bryce he was getting ready to unleash the famed purging spell upon me. My avatar kneeled in the center of the arena. I looked on towards Ilyana and realized, she is the key to turning the tide of the battle, so I reached out to her, “Ilyana! Captain of the Lyre royal guard and my friend! Arm yourself!”. “I… can’t… move…”, her reply was weak, she had lost the will to fight. “Think Ilyana! He is in your mind, you are in control here not him!”, I screamed not only through my avatar but in the battlefield where we stood motionless. “I… can…”, in the mind’s arena she raised her head and opened her eyes. I could see her determination beginning to build. Bryce had charged his spell on his right hand, “nothing you do now will save you from your fate. You are a scourge upon the land. Now feel the wrath of our god!”. Before he released the spell a throwing knife flew past his cheek. Ilyana freed herself and conjured up her usual equipment. Sword and shield in hand I could feel the strength of her will return. The confidence and trust she feels in my wisdom and power began to tilt the balance in our favor. “Impossible! Channel more energy!”, Bryce commanded, it appears he was not alone wherever he was. Now it was our turn to strike. I started with a number of dark spheres that exploded near him, while Ilyana closed in from behind and slashed at his back. His pain was real, the spell he used worked both ways. In his now weakened state Ilyana deemed his presence in her mind had gone on for long enough. I launched a ray of shadow energy, the same one I used when we were locked in combat before. This caught Bryce’s attention and he used his own light ray. With him distracted Ilyana rushed in and pierced the commander through with her sword. As his energy was fading and with a blade sticking out from his gut Bryce reached out and pulled something. His image was replaced with that of some other mage or priest. As the mind control spell dissipated so did the avatar of the poor soul who took Bryce’s place. “You are free once again”, I said to Ilyana. My vision blacked out. I opened my eyes, breathed in and saw Ilyana looking at me. “Thank you Balthazar, I owe you my life”, her eyes watered. I had not seen her like this before. Then she turned around, took a deep breath and rallied our forces, “For Lyre!”. I called Miriam and Kaiden to me. With our combined magical energy we could defeat the Lightbringers in one fell swoop.
The loud clang of armor, swords and the explosive power of spells echoed through the battlefield. Miriam, Kaiden and I stood, back to back channeling energy for a powerful spell. The amulet Miriam held was key to our attack. I learned that it could store Ether for use later. This helped the girl with her shapeshifting as she could tap into the energy if she needed it. The protective wards that were inscribed in the amulet were also of great help. Our minds linked, they could see the Ether flow and feel it as I did. We noticed that there were many soldiers who were under spells similar to the one that affected Ilyana. It seemed like the last resort of the church, they had lost too many soldiers in the invasion of Vanith. Now it was time to set as many as we could free and capture or destroy the rest. Dark energies filled the battlefield. Large crystals appeared which disrupted the Ether flow of light energy. This in turn began waking those under control. Ilyana ordered the troops to make sure not to strike down anyone who was fighting unwillingly and to capture the rest. In a matter of minutes the battle had ended. The great majority of the battalion was under mind control. Kaiden, Miriam and I sent a wave of feedback energy that resulted in explosions that we felt affected the Ether. Each of the explosions meant that a mage in Cyrith had been either sent flying or utterly destroyed. I know Kaiden and Miriam were hesitant, but I was more relentless. I cannot abide someone who disregards others’ freedoms in such a manner.
After we released the spell the crystals faded away. Our own energies were drained. The leaders of our invasion force convened and ordered for us to make camp. By now the Lightbringers had been crippled and they could not mount another attack. Tomorrow we would march upon the capital. I would surely face off against Bryce once again.