Abiodun’s eyes glowed and faded slowly as he considered Yggdrasil’s words. “…if we do so, you will really agree to cooperate? You will help Lady Iellaya with her… project?”
“Yes. It will be difficult alone… but I believe I will be able to craft a large enough Class to support the whole of the potential your lady has gathered to herself… given enough time to prepare,” Yggdrasil nodded slowly. When Abiodun pressed his mouth together and didn’t respond, Yggdrasil couldn’t resist releasing a chuckle.
“Suddenly you feel remorse over an unfair deal? I’m surprised at you, Abiodun. I had assumed you were more cutthroat than this. Have you not been very involved in Lady Iellaya’s recruitment?”
Abiodun barred his broad and flat stone teeth. “I will not mourn your death, you insubstantial tree. But if you agree to support Iellaya… I will be forever in your debt. Also, I worry that this agreement will mean you will be plundered by Lord Miln before you have sufficient time to craft what Lady Iellaya truly desires. It is not simply a Class; she wishes to be-”
As one of the wounded patients moaned and shifted onto his side, Abiodun fell silent and shook his head.
Yggdrasil chuckled again. “Perhaps better than anyone besides my own physical body, I understand the magnitude of what you are asking. And you might think it is a risk, but it’s a comically safe one to make. Both you and Lord Miln are underestimating the Grim Chimera. It was designed to endure through the fickle attentions of individuals like Lord Miln and Lady Iellaya. As long as there is a way to objectively determine if the Grim Chimera remains alive, it is a good course of action to accede to Lord Miln’s demands.”
Frowning, Abiodun slowly inclined his head. “…the process used to extract images from a physical body is extremely intricate. Especially in a case like yours, where there were three discrete images present. The array must constantly remain active to keep the images from naturally returning to the body… and that array can be used to ascertain the general status of an image.”
“Well then. We have ourselves a deal,” Yggdrasil said simply as he moved on to the wounded body on the next palette. After a few seconds of furious study, Abiodun turned away from Yggdrasil and strode rapidly out of the tent to leave the tree to its work.
Randidly hummed softly to himself as he continued to watch Yggdrasil focus his attention on the task of guiding his image into the bodies of these people to heal their images directly.
So, what Lady Iellaya wants is basically a vast Class. Based on Abiodun’s tone, there is some other factor at play, but that desire certainly makes a certain amount of sense.
If Classes are a prayer to become the ideal version of yourself, the ‘ideal’ Lady Iellaya currently possesses is an individual. And even as she has stolen the potential and images of others to try and move closer to that goal, but its still an individual goal. What she wants now is to become not just an individual, but an entire Kingdom. Which would likely possess a much more powerful ideal version of itself waiting down the line…
Finally hearing this goal of Lady Iellaya’s did quite a bit to alleviate Randidly’s worries about Yggdrasil’s fate. After all, Randidly was uniquely poised to help Lady Iellaya achieve something like this. Despite the differences in power between Lord Miln and himself, Randidly possessed the tools to give Lady Iellaya exactly what she wanted.
Which was not a common thing, and would explain Lady Iellaya’s previous fascination with his ability to survive.
This stated goal might be a lie, of course. But it at least revealed something about Lady Iellaya’s focus that Randidly didn’t know before. Even if it was a distraction, there would be something in it that Lady Iellaya really wanted.
For a while, Randidly continued to watch Yggdrasil gently treating the wounded individuals. But ultimately, it didn’t give him much more information on what was occurring on the front lines. For that sort of information…
The Grim Chimera shivered. He hadn’t used Nether Ritual to look at Vualla since he had vaguely reached out to reassure her. Randidly didn’t even know if it had any effect. So as he closed down the Nether Ritual for Yggdrasil, he once more conjured his extremely poignant memories of Vualla to establish a connection.
Memory… and connection,
Randidly reflected as he wove the ritual together.
Those are the things that embody Nether.
Then the picture appeared and Randidly focused on the figure of Vualla before his eyes.
Vualla awkwardly wiped blood from her mouth with her large iron gauntlets. Unfortunately, what she really accomplished was spreading a large amount of mud across her jaw that made the itching of her face even worse. Hissing her breath out of her nose, Vualla pressed her eyes closed and did her best to control the tightly leased fury bubbling inside of her.
I’m so, fucking, tired…
But then there was another Nether Beast in front of her and Vualla could only let her hands drop back into a fighting stance as she opened her eyes to face it. Her will narrowed to the sharp blade of a sword and her azure eyes began to glow. With the steadily accumulated intent.
Her will descended and the visual cues of the surrounding area stilled for a split second as the weight of her Willpower simply overwhelmed the instability caused by Nether. A gauntlet shot forward. The Nether Beast was eradicated to nothing, along with its two companions that followed along behind it.
Even if the surrounding area was now clear, Nether Beasts continued to steadily march forward toward the overworked defensive line around the camp. After the Nether Beasts in front of her disappeared, Vualla huffed out a breath and turned to a Nether Beast that was clamoring up of the rocky terrain to attack the camp.
After a brief hesitation, Vualla raised her fist and marshaled her will once more. But instead of using the focus that Cail Tweocs recommend she use, Vualla tried something else.
She punched. The Nether Beast staggered, but it quickly regained its posture and continued to scuttle toward Vualla. Frowning, she tried again. The shape of the desire was awkward, but Vualla put everything she had behind it.
We are connected, Randidly.
This time a huge chunk was taken out of the Nether Beast’s shoulder. Her will had come together well, but it was still insufficient to cut. Vualla punched again and put the Nether Beast out of its misery, then turned fo find another whole beast that she could test her edge against.
I will wait for you.
The top half of the Nether beast seemed to dematerialize before Vualla’s eyes. Its legs continued forward for several steps, then collapsed backward and began to disintegrate. A better result, but still not enough. Still nowhere near as powerful as the raw and dangerous focus of ‘destroy’. Which, Vualla supposed, was why Cail was constantly pushing her toward focusing her mind toward her destructive impulses.
After fifteen more minutes of fighting, Vualla sat down on a cracked and scorched rock and looked out over the battlefield. It wasn’t that the attack had really ended, they were near-constant now, but the bulk of the Nether forces appeared to have died. If the Aether forces wanted to reestablish themselves, they needed to act now.
Fellow soldiers were slowly spreading out across the wrecked ground and began searching for wounded to carry back to the camp proper. Vualla’s gaze shifted back toward the center of camp, where her father continued to frantically command and prepare his camp as wave after wave of Nether Beasts continued to invade.
But even if I have to become a weapon that can only destroy, I at least can remember why it is I need to destroy. And as long as I don’t lose that…
Vualla’s features softened and a fragile smile flickered to life on her face.
Father… I won’t end up like you. I won’t let people who are important me fade to nothing but memories.
Then the smile was gone and Vualla forced herself to her feet. After almost eight hours of constant fighting, she needed to get to walking so she could make it back to the far side of the front line in time for her daily training session with Cail Tweocs. And although Cail didn’t care how she spent her time away from him, there would be hell to pay if she was even a second late to a training session.
Is the Xyrt Brigade really such a big deal if you have the spare time to stand around and just train one possible recruit for all this time?
Vualla thought rather grumpily.
And if it’s such a big deal… why is it that I’ve never heard of it before? Although everyone I ask about it seems to be aware of it…
Despite her sour attitude, Vualla quickly accelerated to make it back to Commander Terith’s camp in time for the training session. But while she moved, she didn’t stop looking around at the surroundings. Her mouth firmed into a grim line. The most obvious point that was continually reinforced as how disparate the current status of the camps was due to the Nether’s repeated attacks.
The camps on the periphery, her father’s and Lady Iellaya’s, had been constantly inundated by floods of Nether Beasts for the past week or so. To the point that even most of the conservative Commanders set up in the interior of the defensive line were confused by why such a thing was happening. Very rarely did Nether launch ground assaults like this, where they simply sent Nether Beasts to attack camps. Even more rarely while a screening of Aether Keys was in effect.
And perhaps the greatest source of concern was the number of Nether Beasts. It was acknowledged that the Nether Beasts were more numerous than the superior Aether soldiers, but the current flood of beasts was preposterous. It was like Nether had somehow been able to double the size of its army overnight. And at this point, it was just content to spend some of the numerical advantages to whittle down the Aether camps.
Still, from what Cail had told Vualla, Lord Miln had been firm and confident in front of the worried Commanders. And as most of the most grievous losses were away from their camps, the majority supported Lord Miln’s decision to wait out this ‘desperate offensive ploy’.
But Vualla couldn’t support waiting at all. For every life lost at her father’s camp, all Vualla could think of was her brothers walking out and dying on these very same fields. And she had no doubt that her father would think the same thing. Her memory of the man was distant, but she had been always told there was a certain sort of romantic imagination to him. It was by this token that he had won the heart of Vualla’s mother, who was widely agreed to be one of the most beautiful women in the Nexus.
That imagination, combined with her father’s almost savant-like capability to recognize patterns on the battlefield, meant that he would see the scenes of his sons dying would be repeated before his gaze ad nauseum. His heart would be ground slowly down to nothing. After spending so many years refusing to even visit home, Vualla wondered how much her father had left to lose.
Which is why we cannot wait. What we need is the capability to eradicate the Nether. RIght now.
Vualla’s eyes burned so brightly that the azure shifted more toward an eery seafoam green.
And if I have to become a weapon of destruction to accomplish that, so be it.