War of the Spirits

Saphira is the future leader of the isolated mountain village Natallian. However, just as she left to being her training, an incident takes place in the naboring town that changes her course of life forever

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10. Chapter 10

Saphira, Jim and Tim arrived at the entrance to Natallian. The gate that stood there was from when the village was first built, and was an important monument for anyone who was born there. There was Aleric writing on it that read 'Village of the Spirits'.

"Home sweet home," Jim announced as the two of them went to each side of the gate. "Make sure you rest up properly before you head out. Wouldn't want you to get hurt," Saphira gave him a nod and a smile before she left the gate and roamed through the market area of the village. Natallian was very tiny compared to everything else she had seen at this point. Not only that, but there were also few people that lived here. But they still thrived and lived happily. The village was rarely under attack since it was on the top of a mountain. But in the few cases where they were attacked, the village did have some reliable fighters. Saphira looked around the market a bit before she left the path and headed towards a path off the main street.

"Wait, you're not going to that old lady, are you?" Flarenix asked, obviously displeased with what Saphira was doing.

'Sharika's the only person I can think of that can explain what the Brain meant when he said Dragon Guardian. She's closer to the Spirits than anyone in this village.' Saphira answered, Flarenix only growling in response. 'Look, I'm not looking forward to it either. But we really need her help.' Saphira continued up the mountain, soon reaching a small house at the end of the path. It looked almost ready to fall apart, Saphira unsure how it was still standing. As she was about to go and knock on the door, a group of three kids ran out of the house and past her. All of them looked scared, running away in a panic.

"You kids never learn your lesson. You should know by now I can very easily teach brats like you proper manners!" Sharika, the elder of Natallian, yelled from the inside, Saphira sighing.

'Looks like she hasn't changed a bit.' Saphira thought as she went over to the door. It was still open, so Saphira carefully knocked on it to announce that she was there.

"Well, one of you knocked. That's an improvement," Sharika said as she came into Saphira's view. Saphira was a bit taller than Sharika, so she had to look up to actually see into Saphira's eyes. Sharika clicked her teeth and turned her back to her as Saphira entered the house. Sharika's worn out black cloak and grey hair swung along with her. "Well, if it isn't the little princess. What a lovely surprise. What can I give you today? A toy, or maybe a Spirit," Saphira knew Sharika didn't like her or Nate, despite having barely met either them. From what Saphira's mother said, it was because Sharika was treated poorly by Flint's parents, the former Chief of Natallian and his wife.

"No, I'm here to ask for your help," Saphira answered, Sharika went into her small living room and sat down and began to drink her tea. Saphira followed and made herself comfortable in one of the chairs, placing her bag beside her. "Do you know anything about the Guardians?" Sharika nearly spat out her tea when Saphira finished her question.

"Where did you hear about that? No one in the village knows anything about it," Sharika asked, or more so muttered to herself. Saphira waited for Sharika to continue their conversation, as she seemed deep in thought right now. Sharika let out a sigh before she turned her attention back to Saphira. "You heard about it during your travels, right? I suppose I have to tell you then,"

"Thank you," Saphira said as Sharika stood up to make herself another cup of tea.

"The Guardians are the Aolis that have been chosen to protect the Human Realm in place of the Spirits within the Dragon Circle," she began, Saphira understanding so far. But she didn't understand why. The Dragon Circle was created to protect both the Spirit Realm and the Human Realm. Why have Humans do their job? "Although, the description they give is misleading. They are not directly connected to the Dragon Circle, though they do fulfill a similar role,"

'That would explain why the Brain thought that I could be one.' Saphira thought as she waited for Sharika to continue.

"One of the conditions is having a strong bond with their Spirit, and the Aolis have to have nearly mastered their power. While I do not know the real reason, I know that those accepted as Guardians are given a chance to perform Sulos," Sharika stood up and went through the papers spread across her desk. She grabbed one of them and handed it over to Saphira, who took it and read through it. It was a detailed explanation on how to perform Sulos.

Sulos; An art that will fuse the soul of the Aolis with the Spirit. This technique is difficult to perform, and even harder to control. In most cases, the Spirit takes control and the Aolis is left with the consequences.
In order to perform it, five steps are required. The first step is the bond between the Spirit and the Aolis. Unless the two whole heartedly trust each other, this technique will not work properly.
The second step is the start of the Sulos. The Aolis must be able borrow their Spirit's eyes. The longer they are able to keep them switched, the longer the Sulos process will last.
The third step is to be able to heal wounds using your Spirit's element. Elements that are destructive are harder to use in such a manner, but it will also make them stronger in Sulos.
The fourth step is to wrap the Spirit's Leot around one's body without feeling exhausted. This is the step that will take the longest time to perfect, but is also one of the most important ones to perform Sulos. It will protect the Aolis from the Spirit's overpowering Leot.
The fifth and final step is dispelling another Leot than one's own. If one can do that without having to think, then they will have an easier time perfecting Sulos.

"This looks really complicated," Saphira sighed, Sharika placing her new cup on the table.

"Now then, is that all you needed from me?" the elder woman asked, her voice impatient. Saphira looked up for a second before she nodded. "Then leave. I don't want you here more than necessary," Saphira was honestly surprised Sharika didn't want to know where she heard about the Guardians, but Saphira assumed that the elder woman was just tired. Saphira nodded as she placed the paper on the table, swinging her bag onto her shoulder.

"Thank you, Sharika. When I come back to the village, I will make it up to you," Saphira said as she bowed her head to Sharika. But Sharika just waved at her to get out. Saphira smiled and gave her a nod as she left the house. Once out, she began to head back to the main part of the village. A sudden gust of wind blew at her from behind, a chill crawling at her. Flarenix made an anxious sound as well, Saphira knowing that it wasn't a coincidence. She looked towards the wind, and noticed that it came from the nearest shrines.

"Is something troubling the Spirits?" Saphira asked, Flarenix nodding.

"I don't know what exactly, but there's definitely something up," she answered. Saphira narrowed her eyes as she begun to make her way further up the mountain to see what was going on. "Wait, Saphira. Are you sure this is a good idea?" Saphira stopped when Flarenix spoke and stepped in front of her, unsure of what the Spirit meant. "In the past, you were able to conceal the fact that I had chosen you to be my Aolis. But now, the Spirits will notice that I'm here. And most of the ones on this mountain despise me,"

"I know that, but I don't think we have to see any of the Spirits. Whatever is troubling them is most likely outside, as it is hard to actually enter the shrines," Saphira explained, Flarenix still unsure about this. "Besides, if they do end up throwing us out because of you, then there's nothing we can do. You're my partner and friend, and I'm not going to try and hide that because of some grouchy Spirits," Flarenix snickered a bit at Saphira's nickname, but Saphira could tell the Spirit was grateful. As they continued, Saphira noticed some fresh footprints on the ground. And they were heading towards the shrines like her. "I sometimes wish I wasn't right," she sighed as she cautiously made her way up. She saw some people at the entrance to the shrine. Saphira hid behind one of the boulders and carefully placed her bag down as she listened in on their conversation.

"Can't we just force the damn door down? Zane isn't going to be happy we're taking so long," one of them said, pacing restlessly in front of the door. Saphira's eyes widen, as she wasn't expecting Zane to have anything to do in Natallian. She was a bit concerned, as his Spirit was stronger than the ones on Hentil mountain. Not only that, but stronger than him as well.

"No, we don't want to risk angering these Spirits. I know Zane doesn’t like to wait, but patience is needed," the other guy said. "And besides, if we can avoid alerting the village of our presence, then this will be a lot smoother," Saphira found it oddly ironic that they believed they were still in the clear.

"It's still taking too long! Just get it over with so we can go back to the camp," the impatient of the two complained. Saphira moved a bit from her position to see what exactly they were doing. She wasn't able to see too well, but she saw a mechanism of some kind in front of the door into the shrine. Unsure of what it really was, she decided to not take the chance. She didn't have to hide herself this time, as she was a native to Natallian. She let out a small breath as she stood up and walked towards them.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, loud enough so they heard her. Both of them turned to look at her, and they were both rather surprised based on their expression. "You're not from here. So what exactly are you doing at the shrine?" The impatient of the two relaxed a bit as he walked towards her, the other still unsure about what to do. There was something about both of them that caught Saphira's attention, though. Their eyes were blank, almost like they were dead. Were they being controlled?

"It doesn't concern you. No scram before you get yourself hurt, kid. But if you want a quick death, stick around and I'll give it to you," the impatient one threatened, Saphira just rolled her eyes. Even if he looked dead, he still acted like he was doing this on his own accord, so maybe there was something else to it.

"Look, for your own sake, don't mess with this shrine. The Spirits don't take kindly to unwanted and rude guests," she warned them, trying to not provoke him while letting them know what the risks were. But he just laughed it off, Saphira unsure if he was aware of how strong Spirits actually were.

"You shouldn't laugh. She knows what she's talking about having being raised here. We should just listen to her and ignore this place," the other guy said, only to be scolded by the one who threatened Saphira.

"Don't be such a coward! Zane told us to inspect every location that had any connection to the Spirit! Especially this place!" he reminded him, Saphira unsure of what Zane would hope to achieve by doing that. But nothing came to mind.

"Why is he so interested in the shrine?" Saphira asked, neither of them answering her. She suspected that neither of them really knew, but right know it didn't matter. "In any case, you don't want to mess with these Spirits recklessly. If you're only doing as your told, you might get killed," As she finished her warning, the impatient one drew a knife and placed it under her chin.

"Maybe you should shut your trap before I cut your tongue. Don't think you're so tough in the big world," he threatened her again with a harsh glare in his eyes. Before she could counter his argument, a pair of footsteps began to walk towards them. Saphira turned slightly so she could see who was behind her without cutting herself on the knife, Zane walking up the path towards them. Saphira could feel a stronger layer of Leot around him than she did during their first encounter in Katil. His expression was completely calm, which made her feel a bit better. But the sinister air around him still made her tense.

"I wondered why the two of you were taking your time. Looks like I found out why," he said as he looked directly at Saphira. As she looked at him, she noticed a slight shade of red in his eyes. She tried to not move her gaze, worried he might get the wrong idea if she did. "You two, go back to camp. I'll take care of this by myself," he ordered, both of them running past them without any questions."I honestly didn't expect to see you here. Then again, you did tell me you were from a village that was close to the Spirits,"

"I didn't think you would remember me," she said, Zane walking closer to her. "Why are you interested in the Shrine? It's a sacred place to the Spirits and has been under our protection since the village was established," Saphira told him, Zane closing his eyes as he got even closer. Saphira instinctively backing up. But he moved faster than her and took a lock of her hair in his hand. Saphira froze and stood completely still, unsure of what do to.

"You helped me before, even if I didn't know was really going on. And for that, I'm grateful," he said as he used his fingers to rub her hair gently. "But I cannot guarantee that I'll be able to keep you safe if you get involved in this. Sp please, stay out of this," Saphira noticed a ting of sarcasm in his voice, which only made her more suspicious of his actions. "You don't know what's really going on in this war, so stay out of it for your own sake,"

"You're right, I don't. But right now, I'm fulfilling by duty to protect these Spirits," Saphira answered. "I'll ask again, what do you need this Shrine for? If it's just to kill someone, I won't allow you to involve these Spirits," Zane let go of the lock of hair and placed his hand on her throat instead. He didn't strangle her or anything, but just knowing he could at any time was unsettling enough.

"You don't know what kind of effect this was is having on the world. The faster it ends; the less rebuilding is needed. Surely you understand this much," His voice was still calm, only making her feel less secure. He grazed his thumbs against her neck in almost an affectionate manner, sending chills down her spine. "If not, then I have to make sure you don't get in my way," Saphira was so confused by his actions. His tone of voice and actions made it seem like he cared for her, but his words were the exact opposite.

"I understand that you want this to end as soon as possible. But is killing someone the only way to do that? There's always a better solution," Saphira tried to reason with him, Zane's expression becoming more stern. He tightened his grip on her throat ever so slightly, as if to warn her from talking. Saphira froze completely when his blue eyes turned bright crimson, which meant that his Spirit was the one calling the shots now. Despite not holding onto her throat too tightly, she felt something pass through her skin from his hand that completely blocked her throat. She gasped for air as she tried to pull his hand off. She was able to make it so he wasn't touching her throat anymore, but it didn't do anything to help. Her vision became black and she lost all of her strength. Just before she passed out, however, the block in her neck disappeared and she was able to breathe normally. She fell to the ground and coughed violently. She looked up to where Zane was, her vision still unclear. She saw to figures in front of her, one further away than the other.

"You cannot kill her yet. She still has a role to play," an unfamiliar voice said, Saphira trying to see who the second person was. But her consciousness faded and her head hit against the ground with a thud. Soon, her vision became black and she passed out.

Saphira moaned as she forced her eyes open, her vision a bit blurry. She didn't feel any wind, and she was on a mattress instead of the mountain. She moved her head around so she could get a better view of where she was when her vision cleared. She was in a wooden room, so she assumed this was someone's house. The wood used wasn't a kind she had seen before, so she wasn't the village anymore.

'Jim and Tim are going to think I'm dead again.' She sighed. But she still didn't know who was it that brought her here. Was it Zane or the one who saved her? She sat up and felt a sudden wave of pain in her throat, making her lose her breath for a second. She held her hand over the area that stung, but she couldn't feel any wound or anything of the sort.

'It must be from that incident where Zane, or his Spirit to be exact, used their Leot to block my throat. I wasn't expecting him to use his powers to choke me, though. I really need to be ready for anything.' Saphira thought to herself as she moved so she sat at the edge of the bed. She heard the sound of a door open and her head shot up to see an unknown man with a tray with food and water.

"You woke up much faster than I expected. Very few are up as fast as you after a Aolis uses Nulis on them," he said as he placed the tray on the table next to her bed. Saphira hadn't hear of the art Nulis before, and she didn't have her bag anywhere close by. The man held an object in front of her to get her attention again, Saphira recognizing it as her journal. "You have written down here,"

"Where did you get that?" she asked as she took it. He gestured towards the door, Saphira noticing her bag next to it. She hadn't seen it before, probably too focused on figuring out where she was and who this man was. Wasting no more time on it, she went through the pages until she found the section she was after.

Nulis: An Art used by Devil Spirits. It finds the weakest point in any Human, except for the brain and the heart. It is unclear why, but some believe it has to do with how different Humans and Spirits are from one another in biology.
Once the weakest point is found, they slowly kill the Human as they watch them suffer.

'I thought Zane's Spirit might be a Devil Spirit, but I was hoping it wasn't. No matter how much I'd like to think otherwise, they do try to manipulate their Aolis into doing what they wish. Which really does fit Zane's situation right now.' Saphira thought as she closed the book and looked back up at the man, who had waited patiently for her to finish.

"Who are you?" she asked him, still unsure if she could really trust him.

"You can call me Shadow. I've been observing you since the incident in Sektories," he introduced himself, Saphira not saying anything. It was a bit odd that she hadn't noticed him all that time. "You are aware of the Guardians, correct?" His sudden change in subject threw her off guard, Saphira only giving a nod in response. She took a piece of the bread he had given her as she waited for him to continue. "You are one of them. Or more precise, you became one after your involvement in this war,"

"Wait, what? Why?" she asked once she had swallowed her food. "And how do you know that for sure?" She did recall Sharika saying that they weren't chosen, but there had to be some kind of restrictions, weren't there?

"You remember Faith, the first person you met once off the mountain?" he told her, Saphira not expecting to hear her name her. How did he know so much?. "She is known as 'The One Who Sees the Truth'. You saw an image of yourself in her mirror, right?" Saphira nodded as he explained. "That was when she realized you were a Guardian, and came to me and informed me about you. Since then, I've been watching to see if she was right. And she was,"

"From all the way back then? Is that why she abducted me and trained me?" Shadow gave her a nod, Saphira still not understanding why she was a Guardian. She protected people, sure, but she didn't stay in just one area. "So I'm one of these Guardians then?"

"More precisely, you're the Spirit Guardian," he corrected her.

"What's the difference?" she asked as she took a sip of her water.

"You don't protect one area or protecting only this Realm. But you are tasked with protecting the entire land of Savia and the Spirit Realm. Like the others, you choose how you do it," Shadow explained, Saphira widening her eyes at him. She had to protect to Savia and the Spirit Realm at the same time? How was one person supposed to do that?

"That's a lot of responsibility to throw on someone so suddenly," Saphira sat her glass on the table again. She was already working toward ending a war, but with what Shadow just said, she needed to continue doing this after this war as well.

"I am aware that this is sudden. If I could, I would have informed you earlier. But this was the only chance for me to have enough time to explain," Shadow apologized as he gave her a few sheets of papers. "There have been some unexpected changes within the Royal Army over the last week," he changed the subject, Saphira taking the papers and looked through them. It explained numerous acts that had been more brutal than it any of the army's earlier action. And it had all been within the last seven days. "This change is worrying, as it makes General a bigger threat than he was before. Not only that, but this as well," He move over to her and flipped to the page titled 'King's illness'.

"Wait, General Paul is the one behind the King's current condition?" she asked, Shadow nodding. Saphira placed the other papers away as she began to read through it.

 

 

 

 

King's illness

The original illness that his Majesty suffered was a severe fever. It was nothing fatal, and quite easy to cure as well. However, it is believed that Commander Paul had influenced the doctors to give up before they gave him the medication needed. He has a lot of influence, and could very easily accomplish this.
The second condition is caused by a rouge from Dragon Scale that Commander Paul struck a deal with. He was to make the King an empty husk for a temporary amount of time, and in exchange the rouge was allowed back into his village

"As you can see, General Paul was the trigger to this war in more ways than one," Shadow said as Saphira finished reading. She still couldn't believe that the General himself was behind it, but at the same time it did make sense. Paul was in charge because the King was unable to make any judgment at the moment, and the Prince had given him authority over Marchell, which lead to his death. Not to mention the relation between him and Dragon Scale. "I have a plan to exploit this and to cure His Majesty. But it will take some time before I'm ready, and I will not be able to do it alone," Saphira placed the paper on the bed as Shadow continued.

"So you want me to buy you some time?" she asked, Shadow giving her a nod. She would have to interfere with them anyway, so she might as well. "What exactly is it you want me to do?"

"I want you to convince the Shadow Knights to follow you," he began, Saphira flinching. She moved her gaze to see his face, just to make sure he wasn't joking with her. But his expression was more serious now than it was when he told her about Paul. "If you exclude Zach, they are the most peaceful than one would think. And if that does not work, try to make them focus their effort on the Royal Army,"

"What if that fails?" she asked, Shadow staying silent. She hoped he had something else in mind in case this didn't work, but she wouldn't press the issue now. She knew they didn't have much time. "Well, I'll try at the very least. Where are they right now?"

"I do, but before that, you must meet with the other Guardians. It will serve you well in the future. And you need to learn the arts they have to offer," he told her, Saphira agreeing with him with this. Besides, it might even help her convince Shadow Knight. "There is one near the fishing port close to here. She's a kind-hearted person who saved her village at a young age and has served as a Guardian on the ocean since," Saphira felt a bit useless when she heard the first one had been doing this since they were a kid and she was already a teen.

"Alright, then I'll head there. Thank you for your help," she said and gave him a bowed to him. He nodded as she walked past him and picked up her bag. She didn't spend much more time there and exited the small hut. Once outside, she recognized it as the forest on the opposite side of Hentil mountain. It was filled with wild life, and the villagers used it to hunt at times. Saphira herself hadn't been here for years, and she never knew there was a fishing port close. "Do you know where to go, Flarenix?"

"Head to your right and you'll find the main path. if you follow that, you should arrive at the village very quickly," Flarenix explained. Once again, a sharp pain went through her throat. She stopped and held in the same area, but she still couldn't feel any kind of wound. "There's a mark of some kind on your throat where Zane held you earlier. I don't know for sure what it is, but it looks like a mark of some kind to keep an eye on you. I'll take care of it, but it might take some time," Flarenix said.

"Great, he might have heard everything we just said," Saphira sighed as she continued through the woods. Saphira knew there were a lot of animals here, so she tried to stay sharp so none of them snuck up on her. "Do you know what Spirit we're meeting? I can already guess it'll be a Water Spirit, but more than that, I don't know,"

"It might be Waterillia. She's a Dragon Spirit like me and, if not for a select few, would've been in the Dragon Circle. I was actually surprised when Cryslis made it in but she didn't," Flarenix informed her. Saphira was still a bit confused by what the qualifications to be in Dragon Circle. "Don't think about, it's not worth the time.

"Good point," Saphira soon arrived at the main path that Flarenix talked about and began to follow it. However, after only a few short steps, a chilling scream echoed around her and she froze completely. "What the hell was that?" She didn't wait for Flarenix to answer and immediately ran towards the sound. She ended up in a tiny clearing between the trees. And the sight in front of her drop her bag and nearly made her scream. There was a soldier with the Royal Emblem ripped open, lower body not anywhere in sight. She could feel her entire body tremble, her voice completely gone. A loud growl snapped her out of her trance as she looked up to the main clearing. There were two other soldiers holding onto each their own ropes, struggling to keep their grip. She followed the ropes and saw a large golden fox fighting against them, a fresh scar over its left eye. Soon, more ropes caught around the fox as more soldiers came from the woods. Saphira noticed blood from the fox's jaw and claws, so she assumed the fox was the one who had killed the soldiers in such a manner.

"What's a Kyni doing down here? They're mountain beast that are native to the lower part Hentil Mountain," Flarenix said, Saphira surprised she hadn't said anything about the butchered soldier. "They value their pride and strength more than anything else. And they are known for being the most loyal creatures in all of Savia. If you can get one to trust you, they'll follow you anywhere," she explained, Saphira imagining what had happened if it had attacked the soldier like that. "But if those idiots think that she'll listen to them if they capture her, they've got another thing coming," Saphira moved a bit closer and hid between the bushes.

"I didn't expect this thing to be this tough. She even snuck up on us and found out about our plan," one of them soldiers said as he tightened the rope. The fox growled at him, the blood from her wound dripping onto the ground. "I thought it would be easier to get an exile, but it seems we greatly underestimated it," Saphira lowered her head to make sure she wasn't caught. While she was scared of what it did to the soldier, she couldn't let them take it either. If they were able to make it work for them, then this war would take a turn for the worse. Even more so than it already has.

"Well, we've got her now, that's all that matters. Let's start the journey to the castle before she attacks someone else," Saphira moved her gaze so she was staring at the place where all the ropes connected. She narrowed her eyes, smoke beginning to emanate from the ropes. A second later, before the soldiers could notice, the ropes burst into flames and the fox was completely free. Before the soldiers could say anything, they instinctively drew their swords as the fox quickly pounced on one of them. The one it attacked was out of Saphira's sight, but a pained scream, cut off by bones cracking made her well aware of what was going on. She felt her body shake again, grabbing her arm in an attempt to calm herself down. The screams continued on to the next soldier, Saphira too shaken to actually do anything. Besides, she didn't want to the fox to think of her as an enemy, for more reasons than one. Once the screams stopped, Saphira exhaled as she moved out of the bushes to see the golden furred fox. But it was nowhere in sight, nor where the soldiers. She could see a trail of blood leading into the bushes, and Saphira would rather not see them. The sound of something moving in the leaves made her body tense, the fox coming into view. Its expression was softer than Saphira originally though, though she was relieved to be honest.

"You are the one who assisted me, correct?" it asked, Saphira nodded hesitantly. Not because she was scared, even though she was a bit frightened, but because she didn't think it could speak. She had heard that Kyni were very intelligent, but not that they could speak the same language as Humans. "You may call me Ruby. And it would be my honor to assist you with whatever you need,"

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