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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17. Chapter 17

Saphira and Ruby were waiting at the entrance to Castalia. As she was supposed to go on her own to find Paul, she would need to get a good idea of where he would be. She had overheard some of the soldiers talking about him viewing from the roof, so that was her best bet now. Ruby was going to help keep the bloodshed to a minimum down here, as much as she could at least. Saphira still wasn't too fond of how eager they seemed about the idea of killing, so she wanted Ruby to stay close by in case it got out of hand.

"Better get ready. They're getting close," Flarenix warned her, Saphira nodding. She kept her head low as she waited for the Shadow Knights to arrive. There were only two young guards at the gate, not nearly enough to stop the attack. As that thought crossed her mind, a storm of black petals pushed them away from the gate, Zack, May and Erik entering the town. A few of Shadow Knight members followed quickly behind them, and they began to stir up a commotion to get someone's attention.

"Saphira," Saphira was so focused on what was going on that she didn't even notice that there was someone behind her before they spoke. She turned and saw Shadow, who she hadn't seen since he told her about the Guardians. "It seems you were able to get their assistance,"

"It was more them that asked for my help, but that doesn't matter," she said as she focused on what was going on again. "How much of a distraction do you need to make your plan work?"

"This is enough when it comes to the regular soldiers, but General Paul is another problem. He'll notice as soon as I try to do something," he informed her, Saphira nodding. "It seems you already have a plan to deal with him,"

"You could say that," she said, seeing Henry and the rest of his men entering Castalia. "We better get moving too. Ruby, help Shadow get inside the castle before anything else," the Kyni nodded as she and Shadow left to further the plan. Saphira pulled the hood on her cloak over her head and charged in as well. She kept to the roofs of the houses to get to the higher level of the castle faster. She jumped from the roof and went through one of the open windows and ended in the hall. As she did, two soldiers saw her and instantly charged at her. Before they had a chance to do anything, however, Saphira got behind them and knocked them both out. She wouldn't draw her blade until she met Paul, there was no reason to before that time.

"Go upwards. General Paul is on the roof like those men said earlier," Flarenix said, Saphira not wasting any time as she began to make her way upwards. Whether it was via stairs or climbing, she swiftly went upwards towards her destination. As she began to come close to the roof, she heard the thundering sound of multiple footsteps just around the corner. Before she even had a chance to try and hide herself, Nate and other soldiers came in front of her and blocked her way.

"You will not be going any further than this," he said, his voice a lot more serious than she thought possible. Her face was still hidden under the shadow of her hood, so he still couldn't figure out who she was. Saphira moved her hand to the hilt of her blade, all of the other soldiers drawing their blades. "You cannot win this fight. Lay down your weapon and surrender,"

"Not happening," she answered, Nate glaring at her. He signaled the men to attack her, all of them coming at once. Saphira prepared to draw her blade, but didn't get very far before a black wave washed all of the foot soldiers off the edge. Both her and Nate stood there in shock, trying to figure out what just happened. As if to answer their unasked question, Zach appeared out of nowhere and attacked Nate. Saphira's brother was caught off guard and jumped backwards to evade his attack.

"You have other business to attend to. Do not waste time on a weakling like this," Zach said without turning to face her. Saphira glared at him from under her hood, taking offense to him calling her brother weak. But right now was not the time to try and defend her brother. Instead, she let go of her hilt and began to climb up towards the next level. She could hear Nate yelling at her from bellow, and she did notice that he tried to throw a knife at her. But Zach used his Spirit's power to completely negate all of his attempts to stop her.

'Zach is definitely a powerful Aolis. I'm kind of glad he's under Henry's command and not Paul's.' Saphira thought quietly to herself as she made her way upwards. As she neared the roof, she heard a loud cry of pain from above her. Panicked, she quickly ran the last few steps, a strong smell hitting her as she made it onto to roof. She scanned the area and became completely frozen at what she had found. A pile of Royal Army soldiers was dead on the ground, the large pool of blood underneath them. All of them had the expression of shock on their faces, and they had been stabbed in various areas.

"Ah, so the young 'Hero' arrives. I though you would come," Saphira moved her head to meet the eyes of the one who spoke, General Paul. "But I have to say, you came at a very bad time. You see, I was just taking care of some traitors. It's unbecoming of a man of my status to let someone see me doing such a dirty deed," he said, acting as if what he did was justified. Saphira completely ignored his words as she walked closer.

"I wonder who really betrayed who," she said after some time, Paul looking at her with a fake expression of confusion. He knew what she was about to say, his expression said it all. But it was clear that he wasn't going to admit it until she said the words herself.

"He wants you to say it so that if he gets off scot-free, he can hold you for baseless accusation. And the punishment for that can vary," Flarenix warned her, Saphira expecting as much. This man wasn't an idiot, and he had manipulated information and people's words for however long he's been like this. But she wasn't going to let him manipulate her. Paul began to laugh out of nowhere, catching her slightly off guard.

"You sure have learned much in such a short period of time. I must admit, I never expected that someone would actually doubt my words about His Highness. After all, he himself said he felt ill when this all started," he said, Saphira not saying a word. If he was just speaking without thinking, she might be able to hear something useful. "Oh, His Highness is really too kind. He truly believed I did everything for the sake of the people. But it was all for my own convenience. Take the death of the young blade expert and powerful Aolis, Misa," When he mentioned her mother, Saphira flinched. "She was such a caring soul, but also very big threat to my plans. Her encouragement to rip Natallian away from my command made it much harder for me to fulfill my plan. So, I used the skeptical rumors to my advantage and took care of her before she became a bigger problem," Saphira was about to explode with rage. She was doing everything she could to try and keep herself calm. Thankfully, Flarenix controlled most of the fire that began to boil in her blood, so she didn't pounce on him.

"And what is this plan of yours? The plan that made you kill an innocent woman?" she asked after she had cooled down a bit, though her voice was still filled with anger. Paul chuckled slightly to himself as he moved towards her, stepping on the dead soldiers instead of walking around them.

"My plan, 'Hero', is to have complete control over all the military power this land has to offer. Then, no one can object to my words and I become more powerful than the King himself," he said with more pride than Saphira had ever heard. Was he really this obsessed with power? "Oh, but you have unfortunately heard far too much. So I cannot allow you to leave here alive," As he said that, he snapped his fingers together. As he did, Saphira suddenly felt the presence of Leot underneath her. Instinctively, she jumped away from her spot, a large pillar created from nothing but diamonds rose from the ground. There were a lot of points where it was sharp, so she would've been dead if she had been hit by that. She created a ring of fire around her wrist and sent it flying towards the pillar to test its strength. It damaged it, but not as much as she was expecting.

'This is going to be tough.' She thought to herself as she drew her blade, which became ablaze once out of its sheath, and ran past the pillar to strike at him. Paul calmly drew his own blade and blocked the attack with little to no effort. Saphira quickly jumped away from him and studied her weapon, and noticed that there wasn't a piece of metal on the blade. Instead, the entire blade was made of metal. 'That's a highly advanced Rektos. It takes years of using it for it to become so perfect.' Saphira thought, becoming more and more concerned by the minute. 'I gravely underestimated him. I didn't think he was an Aolis.'

"Is that all you can do, 'Hero'? Surely a Fire Aolis like yourself have Arts that can kill someone with ease," he taunted her, Saphira sweating a bit. There were definitely Arts she could use to make this fight easier, but as he said, they were made to kill. And that wasn't her plan. Paul raised his weaponless hand up and Saphira sharpened her senses right away to find out where he would attack from. A circle of Leot began to surround her, Saphira quickly moving out of it as spears of diamond clashed against each other where she stood before. But she wasn't given any time to rest as Paul came swinging down at her. Saphira blocked it with her own blade, the flames softening the attack enough for her to hold her own. But Paul was much stronger than her, both in physical strength and with control over ones Spirits power. "You should just give up, there is no chance for you to be victorious," Saphira changing her strategy. She ignored him and tried to focus her attention on his blade rather than him. She could sense a small weak spot at the center of the diamond blade. Saphira used all of her strength to push him off for a split second, moving her blade in her hand and stabbed the diamond blade at it weakest point. Paul was clearly caught off guard as he did nothing to try and stop her. Before he had a chance to do anything with the two so close, Saphira created some distance between the two and stood in a defensive position.

"You shouldn't act too cocky. One false step and the weakest can overthrow the strongest," she said, not letting her one victory get to her head. Paul stood there for a moment before he began to laugh loudly. Almost like a crazed maniac.

"Fantastic! Absolutely fantastic! I can finally fight someone that can make me use more than a fraction of my powers!" he said, Saphira widening her eyes under the hood. She half expected that it wasn't all that he was capable of, but hearing him say it in such a gleeful and insane manner made it more shocking. "Well then, we should continue this clash of the weakest and the strongest!" Before Saphira had a chance to really get over the shock, Paul raised both of his arms and they were covered in a diamond coating. "It's time for this us to get serious!" Before Saphira had a chance to react properly, Paul jumped at her and swung his right arm to punch her. Saphira didn't bother blocking it, as she knew she wouldn't be able to block it physically. So she quickly jumped backwards to dodge it. She looked at the ground that Paul hit where she previously stood, and it was completely shattered.

"That kind of strength…it's more than I anticipated," Saphira said quietly to herself, not too sure how she would be able to compete with it. But her voice was a lot louder than she meant it to be, so Paul was able to hear her.

"I suppose even though you are strong, this is still beyond your abilities. After all, this comes from years and years of training with ones Spirit. One as young as you would not be capable of this," he said, though in a more informative manner than she expected. "Unfortunately, this is the closest we can get to the old Sulos arts used during the first war," When he said that, Saphira realized exactly what his technique was. It was a weaker various of Sulos, the technique she has been travelling from place to place to learn. She had yet to perform it, so maybe this was a good chance.

'Let's give this a shot.' Saphira said calmly to herself, letting out a small breath as she concentrated. Considering all the techniques that the other Guardians taught her, she felt the aura from Flarenix surround her entire body. Particularly her arms and legs. It felt like the skin on her arms and legs were drying up, become hard and difficult to move. When she heard a small gasp of shock from Paul, she opened her eyes and examined her body. Her arms and hands have changed into what looked like dragon claws, and the parts of her leg not covered by her clothes or shoes had also changed into dragon scales.

"How? You shouldn't be able to achieve this form yet!" Paul said in disbelief, Saphira not bothering to give him an answer. Instead, she charged at him like he did to her and slashed at him with her claw. He dodged it clumsily as she had completely caught him off guard, so she moved fast and kicked in the direction he dodged at, hitting him in the side. Thanks to strength given to her from Flarenix, she was easily able to send him flying across the room. He landed at the other end of the roof, Saphira moving fast towards him. She had to get him while he was off balance like this. He noticed her coming at her and put up both of his arms to defend himself. Saphira prepared herself to punch at his arms, her hand bursting into flames right as she was about to hit him. And once she made contact, the diamonds around his arms shattered, and Paul let out a chilling scream of pain. She moved a bit back as she saw where the pieces of diamonds that was attached directly to his arm had been ripped out and blood came from the wound. She had won.

"It's over, General Paul. You cannot continue this fight," she said in a monotone voice, a lot calmer than she expected to be. Maybe Flarenix not only lent her strength, but also her courage. Paul was still on the ground, clutching his arms. But there was a sick grin on his face. Like someone who had completely lost his sanity. "You're not seriously going to continue this act, are you?"

"You may have won now, but don't think that'll stop me forever," Paul said, Saphira becoming worried. He slowly began to stand up, his expression sending multiple alarms through her brain. "Nothing can hold me back from achieving my dream! Not even the pathetic excuse for a Ki-!" Before he could finish his sentence, a blade came out from his stomach. Some of his blood landed on her cheek, and it took her a second to realize what was going on. But when she registered, she noticed that Zach had at some point ended up behind the General, his blade pierced into his back.

"You should have killed him when you had the chance," Zach said, pulling the blade out of the Generals back as he fell lifelessly to the ground. "There is not another way to keep someone as mad has him locked up," Saphira felt something blocking her throat, not sure what to make of the situation. She didn't want to kill the man, even though many would see it as something he deserved. Saphira knew she didn't have the right to take someone's life. While she was still trying to sort her thoughts, something caressed her cheek and pulled down her hood. She quickly flinched and noticed that Zach's thumb had some blood on it. "Though I must admit, seeing blood on you does not seem right,"

"Th-thanks…I think," she said suddenly, Zach drying his thumb on his shirt as Saphira released the form she was in during her fight with Paul. She then thought of something that made her scared. "What happened to the guard you fought against? The one who tried to get in my way?"

"I let him off with a few bruises. He is a person Commander Henry personally asked me to keep alive, so I did as I was told," Zach answered, Saphira letting out a small sigh in relief. "Also, the Commander has gone ahead and told him and the King about you and everything Paul has done, along with your acquaintance,"

"Shadow?" she asked, Zach not answering her and instead just began to walk down again. Saphira took on last look at Paul, seeing that his eyes were shot open. She walked over to his body and carefully closed his eyes. "I will not become a man like you, who has no respect," she said to him as if he could still hear her. Once she was done, she got up and jogged to catch up to the emotionless Lieutenant. The two continued their way down, Saphira looking around to see if any soldiers came out of nowhere. Zach seemed relatively calm, though the silence wasn't helping her.

"What made you do all of this, anyway?" he said suddenly, catching her off guard.

"Well, the situation back in Sektories, I guess," she said completely unguarded, almost regretting that she said it to begin with. She hadn't told anyone where she actually began her little adventure, and Zach and completely surprised her with his sudden question.

"What happened after that?" he said, no reaction at all to her previous words. Saphira wasn't sure if he was just making conversation, but she began to tell of her entire trip. As she spoke, she realized just how much she has actually experienced from this entire ordeal. And to think, she was originally in Sektories to become the leader of Natallian. Zach didn't say much as she spoke, only asked questions to make her talk more when she stopped at times. As the two continued to talk, they soon arrived at the floor where the Kings Chambers was supposed to be. Zach lead her to the door and they were met by Henry and Nate just in front of said door. "Commander, she is here,"

"Ah, yes. It's good to see you are in one piece," Henry said calmly, Saphira looking over at Nate. He had a harsh glare in his eyes, as if he wanted to melt her head right then and there. "His Highness awaits you inside. Please, enter and speak to him," Henry held onto Nate's shoulder as he moved them both from the door. Saphira only nodded slightly and entered into the room. The room was larger than she had anticipated, and it was beautifully decorated. And at the very end of the room, was a golden throne, and the King who sat on it. He looked very young, younger than her father at least, though older than Nate. His golden hair and sky blue eyes were entrancing, and his white and red clothes made him look noble. Saphira quickly went to the middle of the room and dropped onto her knee and bowed.

"Please, raise your head. You need not be formal," he said, his tone a lot softer and gentle than she expected. She did as he said and slowly stood up. "My name is Arthur. You are the one that has defended the people during my absence, correct?" Saphira didn't expect the wording he used, though in one way it was right. She just nodded slowly, His Highness standing up from his throne and walked down towards her. She felt herself tense up as he stood in front of her and bowed his head at her. "Thank you for protecting my people. I cannot express my gratitude,"

"It was nothing, really. I didn't do that much," she said in a half panic state. He was acting completely unexpectedly from what she thought. The King raised his head again and gave her a small smile. But it soon fades as he tapped her on the shoulder.

"As I would like to say that you may return home, I have need of your assistance. It is crucial that you take part in this last mission," he said, his tone still soft, though more serious than before. Saphira thought back to what Flarenix said the night before, about the vision in Faith's mirror and Dragon Scale. They hadn't acted at all during this attack, which meant something was still up. "With General Paul…passed away, Dragon Scale might see this as an opportunity to push the war into their favor. And that might make this war spill more innocent blood,"

"I kind of guessed that," Saphira said silently, Arthur nodding.

"I ask you as the King of Savia to put a stop to their leader, either by killing him or other methods," The request was like a hit to her face. She had just seen Zach kill General Paul because she wasn't able to, and now she was asked by the King himself to kill the leader of Dragon Scale? "I know this might go against your morals, but we must end this war before it goes too far,"

"I…understand," she said quietly, still not sure what she would do. There had to be another way of dealing with them that didn't involve killing the leader. There just had to be.

"You can take your time to prepare yourself. My soldiers along with Shadow Knight will march towards their main base tomorrow. You will be joining them, but your job is not to be told to the others," Arthur informed her, Saphira nodding slightly. She turned to leave the room when the King gestured her to, meeting an angry Nate on the other side. Before she had any chance to say anything, he dragged her by the arm onto the balcony and violently threw her against the railing.

"Hey, are you trying to throw me off?" she snapped at him, Nate only clicking his teeth.

"The fall might put your head on straight," he retorted, Saphira not saying anything. "What the hell are you thinking? Why are you a part of this war? What made you take part in it? Was it dad?" He threw multiple questions at her at once, and it was easy to see he was annoyed. Saphira let out a small sigh as she told him everything, though leaving out a few details. The less reasons he had to be upset with her, the better. "So even when I first saw you for the first time in so long, you,"

"At that point, I had already involved myself in the war, yes," she confirmed, Nate getting more and more upset by the second. "Look, stop complaining about it now. It doesn't matter anymore. What's done is done," She could tell that her brother became even more agitated. But before he could say anything, another person entered the balcony.

"Let your sister off for now, Nate. She has a role to play in all of this," Their father came in between them and place a shoulder on each of their shoulder. "You have both worked hard in all of this, and it is time for you to end this suffering caused by us old men," he said as he smiled at the two, Nate only clicking his teeth. Saphira, on the other hand, was more worried about something else. Or rather, someone else.

"Father, how is Zane doing?" she asked, her father still smiling at her.

"He has recovered from when you last saw him, and he has already become stronger than he was when the incident at the Volcanic Terrain occurred," he informed her, Saphira letting out a small sigh of relief. She was worried that she endangered her village by asking them to help him. But if he was already making progress, then that was good. "Now, Nate. I wish to have a word with you in private about Saphira's adventures. It will give her some time to think about this situation," Before Nate could protest, Flint pulled him away and left Saphira alone on the balcony. She let out another sigh and looked across the sky. The sun had begun to set, so there was an orange like color in the sky.

"Tomorrow, this ends. Either with our win, or theirs," Flarenix said, Saphira nodding as she glared at the setting sun.

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