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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2. Chapter 2

Saphira groaned as she tried to open her eyes. It felt like she had been asleep for years, and her eyelids were very reluctant to open. She was finally able to open them, though she couldn’t see much. Wherever she was it was too dark for her to distinguish anything around her. She felt a soft mattress under her hand, so she assumed she was in a bed. Her eyes slowly began to adjust to the darkness as well, and she could see that she was in a small room of some kind.  She saw that her bag was beside the bed, which was relieving at least.

"Where the hell am I?" she said to herself, feeling too tired to really move. "The last thing I remember was dealing with those guys in Sektories, and then talked to Faith. Then something about ending the war… or something like that," she summarized to herself as she tried to figure out where she was. "Well, that woman has a forceful way of doing things. At least tell me what the hell I'm supposed to do about it," Just as she finished her banter, she heard the sound of soft footsteps outside of the room. She looked over to what she thought was the door. The footsteps closed in on the door, Saphira assuming it was Faith. Since she was the last person she had seen.

"Faith, a moment of your time?" A voice called out, Saphira not recognizing the voice that spoke, but felt a bit better knowing that it was Faith that had brought her here instead of someone she didn't know at all. "You seem to be in a daze as of late. Is there something troubling you?"

"Not at all, sir. I grow quite tired from using my ability for such a long period of time. Otherwise, I am perfectly fine," Faith's voice was muffled by the door, but Saphira was able to recognize it. "In any event, did you need something of me?" Saphira carefully made her way off the bed and towards the door so she could hear a bit better.

"Yes, I'd like your opinion about a situation that has come up. I'm afraid we are quite split on what we believe to be the best route," Saphira was now able to hear that it was a man talking, but she hadn't heard his voice before. "Unfortunately, Dragon Scale is not making our options too friendly either," he continued, and Saphira thought she heard a sigh from Faith.

"Very well. I will accompany back to your chambers and we can discuss further there. First, I wish to have some time to myself, if that is alright," Faith answered, Saphira thinking that it was her cue to get back into the bed. She made her way over quickly and quietly back to the bed and laid down. The last thing she needed as letting Faith know she was eavesdropping. The door opened soon after she laid down in the bed, and Faith entered the room. "Ah, so you are awake. Did you sleep well?" she asked as soon as she saw Saphira. Saphira just kept quiet, considering Faith was the reason she was sleeping in the first place. "I see that you are quite upset with me. Which I cannot truly blame you for either. But this was necessary for the safety of everyone alive,"

"You keep saying that, but I still don't see what I have to do with any of it," Saphira interrupted. She would be lying if she said that the whole 'hero' talk hadn't annoyed her by this point. Faith didn't say anything in response, and Saphira just let out a mall sigh. "Where are we, exactly?"

"Where you are now holds little importance," Faith answered, and Saphira could tell that she wouldn't leave room for any arguments. "I need you to head to the town of Holie, which is just North of Sektories," Saphira had read about Holie in a book at some point. They worshiped certain Spirits as Gods, and denied the existence of any other Spirit but them and any of their element. Some elements were considered 'evil' and weren't welcome there. "I will send you back to Sektories, so you may start your journey," Before Saphira got a chance to refuse, a bright light appeared below her. She covered her eyes to block the light, and the light died down rather quickly. When Saphira removed her arm, she found herself, along with her belongings, right outside of Sektories. She saw the mountain Natallian was on at the other side of Sektories, so she must be by the opposite entrance.

"She sure doesn't waste any time," Saphira sighed as swung the bag over her shoulder. She looked up at the sun and found which way was North before she set off towards Holie. As it was still quite early in the day, the sun hadn't reached the center of the sky. So Saphira could easily tell which way was North. Once she had figured out which way she needed to go, she began to walk through a forest like area before she found a road that had a sign with 'Holie, Place of Truth and Peace' written on it. Saphira followed the path and soon arrived at Holie's entrance.

The first thing that caught her eye was the large building in the center of the town. It looked almost like a temple of some kind, but there was something different about it compared to the temples back in her village. The temples were usually built to symbolize the Spirit that the Humans talked to in them. But the building in Holie was more grand, and she didn't think the design really resembled any of the Spirits. Intrigued, Saphira began to walk towards it as she inspected the rest of the town. There were quite a few buildings that seemed to be shops, not stalls like she was used to. Some sold foods, others seemed to have weaponry. The people of the town seemed very optimistic as well, all of them smiling brightly as if there was nothing wrong with the world. She saw a park in front of the building, a beautiful fountain in the center of it. The townspeople were chatting to each other, and they seemed quite cheerful. But something caught her eye: a group of people clothed in white surrounded the area and kept watch over everyone. The people didn't seem to mind it, but it made Saphira feel really uncomfortable.

"It's such a beautiful day, isn't it?" Saphira heard a conversation as she walked up to the fountain. "A perfect day for the daily ceremony," The ones who were talking were a group of women near the fountain. Saphira took a seat and continued to listen, curious about the ceremony their mentioned.

"Yes, it is. I wonder when it will start today. I haven't heard the bell chime yet," another lady said, a loud yell interrupting them. Saphira and everyone else in the area turned to the sound, and saw a group of white clothed people pinning down a man that seemed to be in his mid-twenties. He was yelling something to them, but Saphira couldn't hear any of it. "Oh my, another one?"

"It seems so. Must be one of those odd ones that keep complaining about the way of life," Saphira wasn't sure what she made of this. She moved towards the group of people to see if she could get a better idea of what was really going on. A large crowd of people surrounded the man, but none of them said a word to try and help him. Saphira was able to get through to the front the crowd, noticing that the man had been muffled and had metal cuffs on his hands. The white clothed men wasted no time getting him out of sight, and Saphira was left there with no answers and more questions. She was about to ask someone, but from the earlier conversation she overheard they wouldn't tell her how it exactly was.

'I need to go somewhere else to get some information about this place. And what just happened.' She thought to herself as she moved away from the square. She began to walk up the stairs of the temple like building, more men in white clothing standing by the entrance. When they noticed her, both of them moved in front of the entrance and blocked her path.

"I am sorry, miss, but no one outside of our Order is allowed to enter this sacred place," one of them told her. Saphira stopped in front of them, a bit dumbfounded. If this was really a place to worship the Spirits, why were some people not allowed in? But she didn't want to cause any trouble, so she just gave them a nod and walked back the way she came.

"I need to find someone who's willing to tell me what's going on. But from what I can tell, they don't like people who are nosy about their business," she whispered to herself as she came back to the main street. As she viewed the shops through the window, she noticed a black smith of some sort. Her gaze went from the window to her sword. She slightly pulled it out of her sheet and examined the edge. "I think my sword could use the sharpening. It's been a while since I last had it checked," she said to herself as she began to walk towards the building and entered through the door. There were weapons on the shelves on all of the walls, and a large counter at the front. There didn't seem to be anyone there are the moment. Saphira placed her bag on the ground and observed the area a bit more. Most of the weapons were made of normal metal, but some of them seemed to be made of golit metal. Golit was a metal found in a cave in the mountain she lived on, and very few had ever gotten in there and out in one piece. "Whoever got this must be such a trained warrior,"

"Oh, is there someone here?" A deep voice came from the back of the room, a door open at the very end of the room. Loud thuds of footsteps made their way out of the door, a largely-built man walking through and towards the counter. He held a cloth in his hand, and she noticed that he had some kind of black liquid on his hands. "Well, there's a rare sight. Women of this city tend to stay as far away from this shop as they can. So, what can I help you with, miss?" Saphira unhooked her sword from the belt on her back and placed it on the counter.

"I had hoped you could have a look at my blade," she told him. The man took up the sheath of her katana and pulled it out so he could get a look at the edge. Saphira saw that his expression became shocked for a second before he reclaimed his composure. "Is there something wrong?" The man looked up at her when she spoke up.

"Oh, no, it's not that. I'm just amazed by how fine the metal on this blade has been crafted. I've never seen this method of crafting before," he told her. Saphira had heard from her father that her blade had been made by some hermits at the top of their mountain. They used the power of their Spirits to help form the metal and create the sheath so she could use it to protect herself with it as well as her katana. "There doesn't seem to be any serious damage to it, though there are some dents in it that seem quite recent. You must've been in a fight," Saphira thought it would be best to not tell him about the events in Sektories, considering that the news hasn’t reached here.

"You could say that," she answered instead. The man continued to inspect her katana to see if there were any other damage to it. "There was something I'd like to ask you about," The man looked up at her when she said that and waited for her question. "What is the norm in this city? There was a incident in the square earlier between a man and some men clothed in white. But no one tried to help the man,"

"Oh, that. I assume you're from out of town since you don't know," He placed the blade on the counter as he continued. "Well, the people in the white robes are part of an organization called the Order. Their based in the Hellord Church and are incredibly serious about their beliefs. They only believe that some Spirits are considered holy and pure, and all others are in cahoots with the Dark Spirits," Saphira hadn't heard of a Church before, but Hellord was a name she recognized. It was a Spirit that has been widely considered as the peacemaker between conflicting provinces in the Spirit Realm. "So, where are you from? It's rare to have any strangers come and pay us a visit,"

"A small village on the mountain called Natallian," As soon as she finished her sentence, the man dropped her blade and made a loud sound. The next moment, he forcefully grabbed her arm and pulled her into the room he exited before. Saphira wanted to pull away from him, but the expression of worry on his face made her think that there was a good reason for this. Once he had gotten her into the room, he quickly closed the door after he checked the shop.

"You shouldn't be wandering around here. The Order has filled the people of Holie with an idea that everyone from your village are 'sinners'. One wrong word and you'll be executed," Saphira didn't know how exactly she was supposed to answer to such a sudden warning. It took her some time to actually understand what he was telling her. When his words finally sank, Saphira still felt lost. "Your village is home to many temples that people can use to talk to Spirits, right? The Order only believes that Hellord and his followers are the only pure Spirits in the Spirit Realm. Therefore, since your village is home to many of the 'impure' Spirits, they see you as sinners," he explained, probably because he noticed how confused she looked. "Not only that, but because of a really old legend that the Order has been trying to rip apart,"

"A legend? About someone from our village?" Saphira asked. She had read a few old legends from the number of books in her father's office. But she didn't recall one that could be connected to her village. The man moved to one of the tables and sat down, Saphira waiting for him to say something.

"The legend is old, and what I know is from memory from when I was a child so it might be a bit off," he started, Saphira making herself comfortable. "It was foretold long ago that a war would once again break out between the Humans, and the Spirits would be a center piece to either fuel it, or end it. The choice falls to the one that came from the Mountain of the Spirits. In other words, from your village," he briefly summarized. Saphira still felt like there was more to it than just that, but decided to leave it like that. It was still up in the air whether this was actually the case. "Anyway, I'd suggest heading out as soon as I've patched up your weapon,"

"Alright, thank you," Saphira thanked, both of them exited the room together. "Oh, I realized I never got your name," Saphira pointed out, the man stopped as she spoke. He turned to face her again in the open door.

"Jak, pleasure to make your acquaintance," he introduced himself, but didn't stay long enough for her to tell him her name. She followed him into the shop and back to the counter as he examined her blade again. "It won't take long before I've taken care of these small dents. Just wait a moment," Jak took up her blade and went into another room, Saphira taking the time to closer examine one of the golit weapons. The took one of the swords down and placed her hand over it. The metal felt like glass, and the blade was just a light. She tried to bend it to make sure it wasn't a fake, and she could feel the energy in the metal began to flow.

"This is definitely golit," she said to herself as she placed the blade back.

"You were able to tell just by touching? A lot of people need a lot more convincing since it's a very rare metal to use," Saphira turned back to the counter as she heard Jak enter the room. "How did you figure out so quickly,"

"Well, first the color. Golit is the only natural metal that is black with the red spots all over it. Second, the metal is ideal for increasing Leot through a weapon. So it has to be able to channel a Spirits power through it," she explained. Jak looked at her with a surprised expression as she continued her reasoning.

"You said 'Leot', but what is that?" he asked, Saphira not surprised he didn't know the term. It was a term mostly known between Aolis.

"It's basically the energy that comes from a Spirit's power. Naturally, it also comes when Aolis uses their Spirits power," she explained, Jak nodding along. But before he could ask more, the door opened and a group from the Order entered the shop. One of them had golden sashes on his robes and seemed to be the leader.

"Well, this is a surprise. How may I help you good men today?" Jak welcomed them. Saphira could tell that he forced the words out, and from the previous conversation, she assumed that he wasn't too fond of the Order.

"My, what a surprise. Forgive me if I sound rude, but I did not expect someone who dealt with weaponry to act so polite to their customers," the leader said, Saphira doing everything she could to keep herself from snapping at him. And she could tell that Jak was doing the same thing. The group entered further into the shop, and the leader picked up Saphira's sword that Jak had just finished. He studied it before he turned his gaze to her. "Does this belong to you, miss?"

"Yes, it is. Travelling in these times can be quite dangerous with what's going on," she told him. Her words weren't a lie, but she could tell that the man didn't really believe her. He placed the sword back on the counter and turned to her again.

"And for what reason do you feel such a strong need to defend yourself? Does a young lady like yourself have something to fear," Saphira honestly didn't know what she should say at this point. Did they honestly not know about the war? She did just tell them she was a traveler. She decided to assume that they were unaware of the war as she answered him.

"There is a war going on. Meet the wrong people, and I'm as good as dead," she said rather bluntly. Jak snickered a bit, but the leader of the Order glared at her instead. "I've seen how things can turn out. The situation became rather bad in Sektories not too long ago," When she mentioned Sektories, his gaze suddenly became calmer. He almost looked apologetic now.

"Ah, I see. I had heard that the situation became quite dire in Sektories not that long ago. That would be quite a good reason for you to feel safer with a weapon," he said understandingly. Saphira just stayed silent, unsure of how to answer to such a sudden change in emotion. "Well, I hope you will stay in Holie for a long time, so that you can see how peaceful the world can be in the loyalty of the One True Spirit," The members of the Order left the shop, none of the others saying a word to them. Once the door closed, Jak let out a frustrated sigh as he placed her katana back in its sheath.

"What exactly did they come in here for? They don't seem like the soldier types," she asked, walking over and began to hook her blade back onto the belt strapped to her back.

"Just a daily check in any shop that could be involved in the war. They're not too fond of the different Spirits involved, as each one of them are 'impure' in their book," he explained. Saphira felt herself get annoyed. She had grown up with the idea that all Spirits were just as important as the ones that formed the world in the beginning. And that no Spirit should be looked down upon just because of their element or their history. "Well, your sword is done. It's probably for the best if you head out soon before someone from the Order catches on about where you're from," he warned her. "Head to the East of this city, and you'll end up in a new town. A good friend of mine and his group are hold up there, and he might be able to give you some more information,"

"How do I find him when I get there? And will he be willing to give information to a complete stranger?" Saphira asked. Jak went to the shelves behind the counter and began to search for something. He turned back to her and handed her a knife. The knife was small, but it had a very unique design on the blade. It was similar to the design to Faith's mirror.

"That's an old family heirloom. He'll know you're with me when he sees it," Jak told her, Saphira taking it from him. "Well, you should probably get going. The town is quite a distance from here so you might be walking for some time," She nodded at him as she placed the knife into her bag.

"Thanks you for everything, Jak. I really appreciate it," she said as she bowed to him in gratitude. Jak just gave her a smile as she turned to leave the shop, her bag over her shoulder. As she exited into the streets, she saw that there were a lot more people out. They all seemed to be heading towards the Church, so she thought that there might be something going on. She walked in the opposite direction and looked through some of the windows of the different shops. Herbalists, craftsmen, farmers, any kind of producer you could think of was in this one street. She noticed a jeweler as well, some very unique pieces of jewelry on the inside. Saphira had seen some jewelry made by people in her village, but they were simple and made form stones that were only on their mountain. The ones in the window seemed a lot more complicated. She decided to take some time to look around before she left. Everyone was heading to the Church of Hellord anyway. if she left now, they might force her back in.

"Well, I did not expect a customer at this time. You must be a visitor, correct?" the owner of the shop welcomed her. Saphira nodded to him as she continued to study the jewelry. Close up, the design on them pieces were really detailed and well done. No one in her village was this talented. "Is there anything in particular you're after, miss?"

"Who made all of these?" she asked, the man moving from the counter to stand beside her.

"Well, that varies from each item. Some are made by those who live here. Others are made by tradesmen who make their living of selling their products to any town they can," he explained to her. Saphira continued to study the different craftsmanship. As she looked, there was one that caught her interest, a small necklace in the form of a dragon. It was made of regular metal, but the simplicity of it made her attracted to it. "Ah, that one came in a few days ago. The crafter said it was useful to Aolis, but I do not know how, unfortunately," the owner told her. Saphira picked it up and got a better look at it. It was light, and the chain seemed quite strong so it wouldn't just fall to pieces.

"How much for it?" she asked, the owner going over to his counter. Saphira walked up to him and saw that he had opened a book and was going through its pages. She couldn't get a good look at what was written inside, but she did see that there were multiple metals and numbers inside. So she assumed it was some kind of list over the prices over the different metals.

"Well, the metal isn't that valuable, and the method that was used is also rather cheap. I'd say it comes to about 3 gold pieces," he told her. Saphira was surprised that he didn't consider that it might be useful for Aolis. Many merchants that sometimes came to Natallian would always increase the prices in the items that would be helpful to any Aolis. She gave him the three gold pieces and exited the shop. She put the necklace around her neck as soon as she exited the shop and began to head towards the exit. As she did, she saw a large crowd of people in front of the exit. She couldn't see what was going on, as there were too many people in front of her.

"What's going on?" she asked the nearest person. A lady turned to her, and seemed a bit troubled about what to do in this situation.

"The Order believes that there might be someone in the war nearby that could be involved in the war. So the gates have been closed off for a while," she explained. Saphira moved to the left side of the gate to see if she could get any closer so she could learn a bit more. She got to the front of the gate, where she saw some of the members of the Order blocking the path.

"We ask all of you to leave this area for a short while until we know for certain whether it is safe. The Great Spirit Hellord would not want his faithful followers to be put in danger," one of them said. The were some quiet mutterings, but there were not protest to their demands.

"Sir, what about the caravans that have our supplies? They will be arriving soon," one man said. The man who spoke up earlier smiled gently at him.

"We will make sure the supplies arrive safely. We would never think to let you go without the necessary products to live your lives," he reassured them. Saphira knew that it would most likely take quite some time before she would be able to leave through the main exit, so she decided to find another way out. She looked up at the wall that held the gate up. She looked at it and noticed that there were some places where she could use to help her climb up. She moved away from the crowd and towards the wall as she fastened the belt that held her bag to the bottom part of her bag so it was strapped to her back like her katana. She moved back a bit so she could get a running start, and took a quick glance at the crowd of people.

'Let's hope no one sees me. The faster I get out, the better.' She thought as she began to run at the wall. She was able to get up about two meters, a small crack just above her head that she grabbed onto. She used her legs to keep herself against the wall and found another crack for her other hand. She quickly made herself up the wall, used to climbing as she visited most of the shrines on the peak of the mountain. She stopped at the top of the wall and took a minute to take in her surroundings below her. A large tree was about a meter from her, close enough and seemingly strong enough to stand her weight. She jumped onto the branch and quickly made her way down to the ground. Once her feet landed on the ground, she unhooked the belt at the bottom of the bag and held it over her right shoulder.

"Jak said to head to the east, right?" Saphira reminded herself as she headed towards another forest that was directly east of Holie. As she reached the trees, she went right up into the branches and maneuvered through the trees. It was faster to travel this way, and it lowered the chances of her meeting someone. As she jumped from tree to tree, she heard voices bellow her. She stopped to see who was there, one of the smaller branches breaking and fell to the ground. A small sound echoed as it hit whatever was bellow her.

"Huh? Is the something in the trees?" A voice that sounded like a man spoke, Saphira trying to see if she could tell who they were. She got a glimpse of his armor, the Royal Emblem on his chest. Which meant that whoever was there were members of the Royal Army.

"Maybe a squirrel. The only place near here is Holie, and no one from there would come all the way over here," another voice answered.

"Men, what the hell are you doing, dawdling here? Get a move on!" a loud, booming voice ordered. Saphira couldn't see whoever was yelling, but she could assume that he was of higher rank than the two bellow her. "We have been ordered to find the two Lieutenants in Sektories that we let slip away during the fight! So keep up!" Saphira had a bad feeling that this would end up in another fight. She placed her bag on a strong branch and pulled out her cloak to put it on. As she clipped it on, a scream of intense pain rang in her ears. She froze for a moment before she quickly made her way down the tree. As she landed on the ground, she nearly screamed herself at the sight in front of her.

One of the soldiers were laying on his back, his eyes completely blank and his stomach was completely ripped open so she could see his insides. Saphira did everything she could to keep herself from screaming in fright or puke in disgust. Another scream made her snap out of her stare at the dead man. She saw a man cutting down the soldiers one after another with no sense of mercy.

"Y-you're Lieutenants Zach, of the Shadow Knights!" one of the soldier croaked out, Saphira never having heard of him. The man cut down the solider without hesitation, his eyes completely devoid of any emotion.

"And you are dead," he whispered, no emotion present on his face. Saphira's body trembled violently at the sight in front of her. She did her best to calm her nerves. She held the hilt of her sword, just in case he suddenly attacked her. She blinked, and in that fraction of a second, he had appeared right in front of her. Saphira gasped and tried to move away from him, but he grabbed her left arm and was about to swing his blood covered blade at her. She quickly unsheathed her own blade and blocked it. "Hm, impressive. You certainly more skilled than these morons,"

"Why did you kill them?" Saphira asked, struggling to keep his blade at bay. Instead of answering her, he put more pressure onto her arm, making it even harder for her to continue blocking him.

"Nothing a woman like you should concern yourself with. You should leave before you regret it," he told her bluntly. Saphira didn't expect him to recognize her as a woman, since the hood covered her face entirely and it wasn't easy to see any specific body features. He tightened his grip on her left arm, making it harder for Saphira to keep her concentration. He quickly disarmed her and moved his hand from her arm to her neck. She was showed against one of the trees behind her, pain surging through her entire body. She tried to pry his hand off, but her efforts were meaningless.

"How am I supposed to leave if you strangle me?" Saphira growled, Zach not reacting at all. Instead, he placed his forehead against hers, and moved her head so that their eyes met. She felt her cheeks heat up from how close they were, but the feeling of dread was stronger than her embarrassment. His hand began to move towards her face, Saphira instinctively grabbing it to stop him.

"You think you stand a chance against me? You are only a child, a child who knows nothing," he told her, his grip on her throat tightening. Saphira felt her consciousness failing her. He loosened his grip very slightly, Saphira gasping for breath. Her strength was still too weak for her to get out of his grip, giving him a glare instead. His face still showed no emotions, which made her feel uncomfortable. "You are an interesting one. You tremble in fear, yet you still have the will to keep struggling. There are too few people like you," He looked right into her eyes without blinking once. "But you are still just a child," His eyes became cloudy, dark. And it wasn't long before everything went black for Saphira.

The entire house was consumed by flames. The walls fell apart and the roof came down towards the floor. A young Saphira ran through the broken hallway of her home, tears streaming from her eyes.

"Mommy! Mommy! Where are you? Mommy!" she cried. The smoke from the flame made it hard for her to see, but she ran towards her mother's room, hoping she would be in there. As she stepped through the door, she coughed from all the smoke as she scanned the room. Finally, she saw her mother on the ground, a piece of wood on her back. "Mommy!" Saphira ran to her side and crouched down beside her.

"Saphira, my child," her mother spoke, her voice as soft as ever. "You must leave, go to your father and brother," Saphira shook her head violently, tears still escaping her eyes.

"Not without you! Daddy and big brother are waiting for you!" she refused. "I can lift that wood off you, so we can both leave!" Saphira began to move to grab the large plank, but her mother stopped her and gave her a warm smile.

"My dear daughter. You must live on. And to do that, you must leave me here," Saphira heard her mother's words, but didn't understand any of them. All Saphira knew was that her mother wouldn't let her help get her mother out. The sound of wood breaking came from above, Saphira looking up to see what caused the noise. A pat of the roof had been broken off from the rest and was going right towards her. And before she had a chance to react, her mother pushed Saphira away so she was at a safe distance. Saphira looked back at the pile of wood that had buried her mother, her mind telling her to run before she got trapped while her heart wanted to dig her mother out. Jacob arrived and picked her up before she got a chance to decide, Saphira staring blankly at the pile of wood that had become her mother's grave.

"Stop it!" Saphira yelled as the memories of her mother's death flashed before her, tears streaming down her face. A flame erupting from the ground and surrounded her like a snake, forcing Zach to let go of her neck to avoid the fire. Saphira was unable to stay on her feet and fell to her knees as she tried to stop her body from trembling. The fire closed in on her, as if it wanted to comfort her. She could hear Zach's footsteps on the grass, but the flame quickly moved and the sounds quickly died out. Saphira dried her eyes and looked up. Zach was gone, and the flames had died down a bit.

"Are you OK?" The voice of her dragon Spirit, Flarenix, echoed in Saphira's head, a transparent image of her dark red Spirit in front of her. Seeing her Spirit made Saphira feel more relaxed. Spirit's existed only in the Spirit Realm, but they could interact with their Aolis through their mind. They are always around the Aolis, and they can see them like Saphira saw Flarenix now. But no one else could see the dragon.  She examined the area around her, and noticed that neither the trees nor the ground and been damaged from the fire.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks Flarenix," Saphira slowly got up on her feet. She removed the cloak and went back up the tree where she had left her bag and brought it down with her. "I just…didn't expect that,"

"Can't say I did either. I'm just glad that he didn't trick you into telling him who I am. That would've been troublesome," Flarenix commented, Saphira trusting her Spirits words on this one. As she didn't know herself. And it was understandable that she would be worried about letting others know who she was. It was quite risky to tell a stranger who your Spirit was, as they could devise methods that could potentially kill the Aolis by harming the Spirit in a specific way. While there were very few who know this, it was best to play it safe.

"Jacob already drilled that into my head since he found out I was an Aolis," Saphira groaned as she remembers the hundreds of times Jacob had warned her about it just the day before she was going to leave. Saphira came to the edge of the forest and looked down onto the town that she assumed was the one Jak mentioned. She walked to the gate and saw a sign, which read 'Welcome to Katorels'.

The town seemed almost as lively as Holie, though she could tell that the people weren't pressured by any higher authority as Holie was. There were a lot of stalls for Saphira to take her time to look through, but she didn't want to get distracted from why she came here. She had gotten involved with Shadow Knights twice now, and there was also an old legend that could've mentioned her. Not to mention how sure Faith was about her role in this war. She might as well listen to Jak and find his friend.

As she wandered the streets, some movements that went against the flow of the crowd caught her attention. She followed it and saw a figure in the shadows in a narrow pathway. They seemed to be doing their best at keeping their face in the shadows, as if someone would come after their head. As quickly as Saphira had noticed them, they disappeared into the path. Curious about the figure, Saphira followed them and ended up at a dead end.

'Where did they go?' She thought to herself as she examined the area. She noticed some wooden doors that looked like they lead to the basement of the house at the end of the path. 'Maybe they went in there.' Saphira was about to move her hand to open the door, but stopped herself before she even began to move it. 'No, I can't follow them in there. Whoever it was, they're most likely not alone and I'd rather not get on the bad side of their friends.' She turned her back to the doors and began to head to the main street again. But before she could take two steps, a large object hit her against the back of her head, making her fall to the ground. Her head pounded loudly and her vision was almost black. She saw what looked like a boot of some kind, before her sight darkened completely and her consciousness faded.

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