Hi reader! The war is reaching its climax, and Lucio and Rent both want to end it quickly. Raychel launches a desperate attack and boards Lucio’s sky tower, where her cousin and enemy waits, while Tarrell Ward mounts his furious charge against the Librarians. The time of reckoning is near.
Lucio shook his head. The killing fields broiled below him, and he had done nothing yet. It was time to change that. “Thank you Eclipsius. Now it’s my turn.” Lucio stepped forward, but a hand gripped his shoulder.
“Think, Lucio!,” Elith whispered insistently. “There is no point if you go out there. The men are no danger, neither are the bears nor Raychel, but this storm will be the death of you! You, unlike the Tamrunes or Raychel, are both tangible and mortal! If one of those bolts were to hit you, you would be dead long before you hit the ground!” Elith gripped Lucio’s shoulder even tighter. “There is no point in you making a statement if you die.” Lucio shook himself free and growled.
“Those are my men down there, Elith! I must lead them myself like a true king! I’m sick of hiding in here, relying on others to do my work.”
Elith was speechless for a second, and Tarrell spoke up. “You are king. We are meant to do your work for you. Let me go out there, my Lord.”, Tarrell said. “The barrier will hold even if I die, and I must settle this with Scrimm once and for all.”
Lucio gave a curt nod, fury in his eyes, and Tarrell Ward disappeared.
Scrimm began directing lightning bolts down toward the soldiers, and felt sick as he watched the explosions of men flying apart from the craters. The lightning bolts weren’t resisting anymore, he noticed, and he glanced up at the tower in suspicion. A scream alerted him and he turned to his side in time to see the Librarian Eris blasted off the fortress. Suddenly the air shivered and Tarrell Ward stood over him, massive and looming in his dark cloak.
A bear, Argas, scrambled past Scrimm and confronted Tarrell Ward. Suddenly several other bears leaped over Scrimm. They lunged at Tarrell Ward with slashes and roars. He screamed as they pushed him onto the floor, but suddenly a hand of air grabbed Scrimm by the throat in a vise-like grip, until little specks of light danced in Scrimm’s eyes and veins throbbed. He saw, out of the corner of his eyes, each of the other bears gripping at their throats in pain.
Tarrell Ward stood up, his cloak torn to tatters, blood running down his face.
“Bye bye,” Tarrell Ward said. “Little fur–”
The crack of a bullet rudely interrupted Tarrell Ward’s farewell. The hand on Scrimm’s throat vanished and he and Tarrell and the bears collapsed. He glanced at Tarrell who stared at the sky vacantly, his hand and chest dyed with voluminous amounts of scarlet blood.
Jack peered at the scene satisfied and thought to Scrimm, That’s the man who took my daughter. Good riddance.
Thanks, Scrimm said in return.
Hours of fighting passed, and Raychel felt like it was noon. Of course, who could tell in that overturned anthill of a battlefield there? She was not alone in the hospital ward. Not even close to it.
The hospital was home to chaos and confusion and almost overflowing with bounding monkeys healing wounds and easing suffering. Roars of pain, cries of hatred, and hoots of anxiety deafened Raychel.
There were several others right next to her, five bears with various cut wounds and two monkeys, both scalded. A cannon must have blown up, Arin said. She would have to ask Jack about it. Raychel stared at her hand, tightly bandaged where the fingers had been. Three fingers now. Not much of a loss. What would she do after this? Wander again? There was probably no way she could return to Elysium… maybe she could stay on as an Enforcer figure for Rent. Beware the law, she thought ironically, or Raychel will get you! She smirked, thinking Rent would never do that. She needed to get out of here back onto the battlefield.
Her musings were interrupted by quick footsteps, and Rent, hair all over his face, searched for her and appeared at her side. “How is the hand?”
“Better, surprisingly after only two hours of rest.”, Raychel replied.
Rent looked down. “Raychel… can you do us one last thing? We need to end this battle now. The silver wolves are overpowering us and they will be at the gates by the end of the day if this keeps up.” Rent paused, and then continued. “Here it is. I want you…I need you to fly again. Get into the tower and take care of them directly. You are the only one who can.”
Raychel nodded. “Thank you.”, she whispered. With that she stood up and left the room. Rent sent a command to Scrimm. “Watch for Raychel, and attack the ship just before she reaches it.”
Scrimm nodded and turned to his Librarians. “Raychel will be in the sky– watch, and be ready to deflect anything!” With that, he sat and began gathering Flux.
Raychel flew in the air, enduring the rain again. She paid no heed to the lightning bolts that darted toward her and veered off, but soon reached the tower. At that moment, a gigantic lightning bolt hit the tower’s barrier, overloading it and allowing Raychel through. She punched a hole in the wall and stepped in.
She crept through the hallways, melting into each shadow. Her gut told her Lucio and Elith would be at the top of the tower, and Raychel climbed up and up. She saw a few men, but stayed in the shadows instead of killing them. Normally she would have killed them without a second glance, but she was tired of the bloodshed. She painstakingly made her way up, until she reached a dead end. A locked door. It seemed a thick door and Raychel quietly set her sword against it. It cut through as easily as water, and she cut out a square big enough for her to crawl through. Making her way into the other room, she saw a great big window onto the bloody battle. And before it, a single figure. Lucio?, she thought. Or Elith? She stepped forward, gripping her sword.
“Raychel.” It was Elith who turned around to look at her. “I am thrilled that you’ve made it here. Now I can kill you again.”
“Did I cause you so much pain that I deserve to be killed? That’s what I want!”, Raychel replied.
Elith paused then said, “Then Raychel, you ought to thank me.” In a flash he threw off his cloak, and raised his sword. A flash of lightning rent the sky in half, temporarily revealing a metal skeleton inside Elith, imperceptibly whirring with his every movement. In a flash he disappeared. Raychel quickly brought her blade to guard and he appeared slashing wildly. She parried his every blow, but could not get an attack in as he weaved a white steel web around her. He swung fast and she sidestepped and lunged out. He stepped back, and Raychel attacked him without quarter.
Elith had gotten incredibly fast, Raychel thought, as she dodged one strike and then another. She could only see him by the light of his iridescent blade, save for the flashes of lightning that rocked the tower.
Minutes passed and they attacked and guarded and attacked and guarded and Raychel could feel her arm wearing out. Suddenly the tower shuddered after a lightning strike and Elith and Raychel fell down. Raychel scrambled to her feet and ground her sword into his chest, cleanly cutting through shadow. He gasped and began to fade. “Lucio…”, he whispered. “He will kill you in my memory. Like he killed all the other elves.” Raychel shook her head in dissent.
“Lucio has been saving them from you.”, she said. “Ever since the beginning, he had kept them alive and living in his kingdom, away from your sight.”
Elith groaned, whether from pain or disappointment Raychel could not tell. “Well, he’ll save the world in his own way then.” A certain hateful fire in his eyes faded, and he continued, whispering, “Cousin. I will wait for you in that afterlife you love. I am sorry…” Elith’s form dissipated, the shadows fleeing and crumbling into little grains with a little crackle, until nothing was left of Elith, Raychel’s cousin, but an empty metal skeleton, almost exactly human but not quite. Raychel stared at the ground for several moments, her head bent in mourning, suddenly recalling the brash youth that had once taken a blow for her from her foster mother. Elith’s promise echoed in her mind. She would not see him in Elysium, she knew, for his soul had been torn apart and destroyed, mere fragments of it scattered in a void.
He was a good cousin, apart from killing you., Arin said.
“Arin, you know my thoughts on the matter. It was his sword’s fault.”, Raychel replied. “Even so, I destroyed him. I destroyed the boy that protected me when no one else did.”
That Elith is long dead. And you haven’t been this sentimental for a long time. We’re still in the middle of battle.
Raychel’s eyes lingered on the white sword lying beside the skeleton, and she walked over to pick it up.
“Don’t you dare.”, a voice heavy like weighty parchment whispered. Raychel turned around and saw a single diamond glint in the darkness above her. Lucio stepped out of the shadows and jumped down to the floor. Raychel gripped her sword and stood erect.
“That boy that protected you.”, Lucio said. “I assume you mean Elith” Raychel nodded. “You do know”, Lucio continued, “that he and I shared a bond too. He was my master, my friend, and a father. So many of the things he did are inexcusable. So many of his sentiments were impractical. But he was family. This, I presume, is what you feel too.”
Raychel paused and said coldly, “He’s dead and gone. Leave it at that.”
Lucio drew back and whispered, “No wonder the bond between you and he was broken so easily.”
Raychel drew her sword and tensed her body.
“So, Raychel”, Lucio said. “Have you thought about my proposal?”
“Yes I have”, Raychel said, raising her sword.
Lucio frowned. “I take it the answer is no. I will have to beat the sense into you, then.” He took out a silver rod extending into a shimmering spear. “There is nothing for it.” The spear darted toward her like lightning.