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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3. Chapter 3

Saphira groaned as she held her head. It was still pounding, though not as bad as when she was first hit. Her vision was blurry when she opened her eyes, but it became clear rather fast. As she finally got over the pounding, she noticed that she was lying down on a soft mattress. She sat up and saw that she was in a wooden room, not on the streets where she passed out. The room was completely empty, beside a small window, a wooden door and the bed she laid on. There was also no sign of her bag or her katana.

'What is it with me and getting abducted as of late? This is the second time today.' Saphira thought as she let out a sigh. 'Whoever that hooded person was, he certainly didn't like me following him.' She moved so she was sitting at the edge of the bed, a noise from the other side of the door caught her attention. She got up from the bed and walked over to the door, a loud voice making her jump.

"She's a spy, I just know it! She's working for Dragon Scale, they've been on our tails for weeks now!" The voice yelled, rather annoyed to say the least. Saphira assumed it was a man based on the pitch of the voice, though wasn't entirely sure. She recalled the name 'Dragon Scale' from one of the men shouting it in Sektories, so whoever these people were, they were involved in the war

'Dragon Scale seems them as a threat, but why? As they haven't killed or really harmed me yet, excluding the hit to the head, they can't be too violent.' She thought to herself as she waited for him the speak again.

"You're always like this, so quick at jumping to conclusions. The girl looked identical to how Jak described in his letter about the visitor. Now stop assuming she's our enemy and let her out," a female voice snapped. Saphira wasn't aware that Jak had actually sent a letter ahead of time, though she felt a bit relieved that he had now. She was a bit iffy on whether she could actually trust these people or not, but Jak saw them as allies so she would take his word for it. She moved back to the bed and sat down. She was able to still hear them, though their voices were too muffled now for her to hear clearly what they were saying. She laid down on her back and just closed her eyes, trying to relax. But a second after she closed her eyes, something landed on her stomach rather hard and made her open her eyes. A young cat had jumped onto her stomach, and it seemed quite contented where it sat.

"Well, didn't really expect a visitor. Won't complain about a cute roommate, though," she laughed as she sat up. She began to scratch behind the cat’s ear, and it began to purr and lean against her hand. A loud thud from outside her room made both of them jump, the cat quickly ran and hid itself. Saphira, curious about what had happened, got up from the bed once again and waited for something to happen.

"I'm out for a mere ten minutes, and the two of you are already in another argument," The one who spoke wasn't any of the voices she heard before. It sounded like a male, but older than the one she heard earlier. "What are the two of you arguing about this time?"

"Mark thinks that a girl that followed after Benny is a spy for Dragon Scale. But Jak sent us a letter telling us about a girl that looked identical to her. Not only that, but she had his knife," the female voice explained. "I've been trying to get Mark to understand, but he's too stubborn to listen to me," There was no answer, but loud footsteps began to walk away from the door. Saphira couldn't help but feel a bit worried. The footsteps came back and she could hear the sound of keys hitting each other.  She moved away from the door and sat back down on the bed.  The sound of the door unlocking and soon opened, her attention instantly pulled to her bag and sword that was thrown on the ground.

"I apologize for my men's actions. They can be a bit too cautious at times," Saphira looked up at the man who entered. He was very similar to Jak, only covered in numerous scars.

"It's fine. I'm still alive and unharmed so it wasn't a big deal," Saphira told him as she checked to see if everything was in her bag. All of her belongings were there, though the knife had been taken out. As she expected from the conversation she heard earlier. "You must be the one Jak told me to find," She closed her bag when she was done examining it.

"That's correct. My name is Dick. And the two behind me are Mark and Elise," he introduced himself and his allies. She looked over at Mark, who glared at her. To say that he didn't trust her was an understatement. "From what I understand, you followed one of our own and were then captured," Saphira nodded as she stood up from the bed.

"I still say she's a spy. We can't trust her," Mark commented, both Saphira and Dick sighing in unison. "She'll just play nice until she gets a chance t strike,"

"If that was my intention, I would've done it as soon as I got my weapon back," Saphira pointed out as she gestured towards her katana that was still on the ground. Mark didn't answer, but continued to glare at her. "I didn't come here looking for a fight, I came here to try and stop one,"

"Yes, Jak sent us a letter about your reasons. Please, follow me," Dick exited through the door, Mark and Elise moving to the side so Saphira could follow him. Before she left the room, the cat returned and began to rub itself against her leg and purred rather loudly.

"How come Lucky seems so calm around you? She hates just about everyone else besides Dick," Elise whined, Saphira crouching down so she could scratch behind her ear.

"I'm good with animals," Saphira didn't spend more time talking to the two of them before she went to catch up with Dick. She examined the hallway as she walked through it, and noticed that the place was practically falling apart. There were holes in the walls and roof, the wood was rotting and the few windows were broken. "This place has certainly seen better days,"

"This used to be an old storage area that the local merchant kept all of his goods. Dragon Scale raided the place and the damage was too much for the poor guy to repair. And with all of his goods stolen, he wasn't able to keep his shop running for very long," Dick explained, Saphira feeling her chest heat up in rage. She clenched her fist to try and control her anger, Dick entering a room at the end of the hall. "We can talk privately in here," Saphira looked in from the doorway and saw that the room had numerous shelves stocked with food, weapons and armor. Dick sat himself down at the desk at the end of the room, which was covered if different papers. "So, what do you want to know first?" Saphira carefully closed the door behind her before she sat down as well.

"The cause of this war. If I don't know how it started, I can't stop it," she told him, Dick closing his eyes as he thought to himself. He leaned back into the chair as he got ready to talk.

"It all began with a demonstration by Dragon Scale, which was a organization practicing non-violent demonstrations against the injustice on the ones who were exiled. Most of them thought that their exile was not justified, and that the Royal Army shouldn't hold the power to throw people out like that. And in some cases, it was," he began, Saphira not liking where this was going. "They never harmed anyone, nor did they break any real laws. But some nobles complained to the Army, who took immediate action. And it was this that triggered the war,"

"I don’t understand. Their actions didn't hurt anyone, right? Why would that start a war?" Saphira had experienced similar demonstration once or twice in her little village, and it was always resolved through peaceful discussions between them and her father, who was the leader of the village. And it always ended with no need for any violent outbursts.

"True, but the trigger wasn't them. Commander Paul was the one that began this war. Instead of using words like they had, he used force," Dick told her. "He had the leader of Dragon Scale publicly executed as soon as he was caught. No words were exchanged between them, and Dragon Scale were left with nothing but hate and spite. They peaceful ways were thrown out the window and they began numerous attacks on innocent villages and cities. And their new leader, who is a war veteran and was a good friend of their former leader, has lead all of them," Saphira had to take some time to take everything in. She had always thought that the Royal Army would do anything to protect the Royal Family and the people. She didn't like them, but she didn't think they were capable of something this cold blooded.

"OK, I think I understand. But how does the Shadow Knights fit into this?" she asked after a few minutes. She couldn't focus on only two of them. Even if she didn't have everything figured out, she also needed to pay attention to the Shadow Knights.

"After the war broke out, both Dragon Scale and the Royal Army had to rely on the cities around their area for support. Products, weaponry, you name it. And the bigger, richer cities already relied on the smaller villages for their core resources. And with how much was needed to feed and arm the soldiers, the smaller villages suffered greatly. Some became uninhabitable due to the drop of necessary food. Thus, Shadow Knights formed," he explained. "They worked in the shadows to transport the necessary products to the villages so that they could still live while fulfilling the requirements from the cities,"

"So they were similar to Dragon Scale in the start?" Saphira confirmed. Dick nodded before he continued his explanation.

"They were similar, but they were still rather different from them. Unlike Dragon Scale, they used force and killed anyone that could risk their operation. However, it didn't take long before both sides knew what they were doing, and both threatened them. After the numerous times that Dragon Scale and the Royal Army burned their wagon filled with food, they became much more hostile and active, and is what we know it as today," Saphira was having trouble memorizing all of the information Dick was telling her. It was still going over her head. "Don't worry too much about remembering it. I have the most vital information on this paper," He placed the paper in front of her, and Saphira took it with thanks.

"Do you know any of the members of Shadow Knights? Like who's leading it," Saphira asked after she looked through it briefly. Dick began to look through the papers and picked out three different pieces.

"Unfortunately, we know nothing about the one pulling all the strings, but we do know about his Lieutenants," he said as Saphira began to read the first paper.

Shadow Knights

Name: Lieutenant May

Gender: Female

Role: Spy, informant

Information: Also known as the Flower Empress by citizens, Lieutenant May is the main source of all information that Shadow Knights acquire.
She uses her feminine charm and innocent act to lure people into thinking she is innocent. Her title as the Flower Empress has given her a chance to get close to the higher authorities within the other groups, and inside information about their plans.
Despite her act, she is one of the deadliest troops. She may not be the strongest, but she is willing to do anything for her mission unless ordered differently.
She is a Blossom Aolis, and an expert in deadly plant life that could kill someone with only a touch.

Most recent incident: Sektories attack

"Lieutenant May uses her stage name quite often. I'm actually surprised that it took until Sektories before someone figured it out," Dick commented, Saphira looking up at him. She was surprised to hear that it was her trademark, but she was also curious as to what she would do know that her identity was blown. "Her performance has tricked the entire world, and it has been a great advantage for Shadow Knights," Saphira had to agree that it would be a very good strategy. She moved on to the next paper and began to read.

Shadow Knights

Name: Lieutenant Zach

Gender: Male

Role: Executions, Assassin

Information: The deadliest and emotionless member of the Shadow Knights. He has a reputation for destroying entire villages single-handedly, and does not show mercy to any who stand in his or Shadow Knight's way.
He used to be a infamous assassin, left to die by his parents. This is theorized to be the reason behind his cold behavior, and why he listens to the leader of Shadow Knight.
He is a Nightmare Aolis, and know most of the deadly arts available to him. He uses Hilor quite frequently to learn of a person's past, and they usually end up dead afterwards.

Most recent incident: Massacre of Royal Army Soldiers

Saphira could feel chills going up her back when she remembered her encounter with Zach. Her entire body trembled slightly as the memories came back, which made her quickly shake her head to clear her thoughts. Dick didn't say anything, so she just moved on to the next and final page.

Shadow Knights

Name: Lieutenant Erik

Gender: Male

Role: Negotiator, strategist

Information: Despite being the second strongest member of the Shadow Knights, he is the most peaceful soldier in the entire war. He is the one in charge of negotiations between potential allies. Not much else is known about him, unfortunately.
He is a Dark Aolis, but rarely uses his arts to hurt innocent people.
Most recent incident: Sektories attack

"There wasn't too much about someone who's in charge of negotiations," Saphira commented to herself, Dick letting out a sigh. "So the best one to talk to is Lieutenant Erik?"

"Yes. Unlike everyone else in this war, Lieutenant Erik is able to keep a calm and open mind. He seems very reluctant to fight, as well," he explained, which lined up with what the paper said. "Is there anything else that you want to know?" Saphira put the papers down, and did think of something that seemed a bit off.

"What about the King? So far, the only one you've mentioned are his soldiers, but how does the Kind himself fit in all this?" She couldn't understand how the King couldn't have a role in this. And she didn't understand how the war had even broke out. From what she heard from her father, he was a very kind and caring man. So why would he allow this war to continue? When she mentioned the King, Dick's expression turning grim.

"The King fell ill a few days before the demonstration started by Dragon Scale. And he has been ill since, doctors unable to find a cure. Which has left Commander Paul in complete control of the situation," Dick explained. Saphira suspected that someone had planned the King falling ill, as it happened right before the war broke out. But she didn't have enough information about the incident to really say for sure.

"Thank you. I think I've got a good idea of what's going on right now. But there is one more thing that I'd like to ask," she said, Dick waiting for her question. "What role do you and your group play? With these weapons and this information, you have to be involved somehow," Dick got up from his chair as he looked over at the shelves of weapons.

"We are doing the same thing that Shadow Knight did in the beginning: Trying to help those most affected by this war. And as much as we wanted to do it in a peaceful manner, that is no longer possible," he told her. Saphira was unsure if there really should be any other players in this war. Before she got a chance to comment on it, though, the sound of the door opening behind her. Both her and Dick looked over to the door, a young boy entering the room. He was pale and had bruises on his arms and legs, and his body trembled as soon as he laid eyes on them.

"S-sorry, I-I didn't know there was a-anyone in h-here," he stuttered. "E-Elise told me to come and get some things she needed for d-dinner," Saphira noticed that he began to move his hand towards his throat, where she could see a tattoo of some kind. She narrowed her eye to look at it. It was a symbol of some kind, with a line crossing over it. She didn't know what the significance of it. Nor why he seemed so scared of showing it.

"It's alright, son. We're finished," Dick gave him a warm smile as he began to head to the exit. Saphira folded the papers and placed them in her pocket as she got up to follow after Dick. She tried to get another look at the tattoo, but the boys shirt blocked it. Once she closed the door behind her, she began to catch up to Dick. "Did you see the tattoo on the boy?" he asked suddenly, Saphira giving a quick nod when he looked in her direction. "That's proof of someone's exile,"

"What? A child was exiled?" she asked. She tried to think of reasons that could cause a child like him to be exiled, but nothing came to mind.

"The reason for exile depends on the place. Each city has their own set of rules and norms that people follow. And the punishment for breaking those rules differ from place to place. And that boy was in one of the best examples of how absurd those punishments can be at times," he explained, Saphira finding something off about his explanation.

"How do you know where he came from? Wouldn't he want to keep quiet about something like that?" she asked. She can't think she would do that if she were exiled.

"He didn't have to. The tattoo is the Aleric spelling of the town. The line across it is to symbolize that the person has been thrown out," he explained to her. Saphira had learned Aleric before, the old language that the Spirit used even to this day. Some of the books she had to read as a child were written in Aleric, so she learned rather early. But she didn't know any of the towns here, so that might be why she didn't recognize it. "But enough about that, we should go to the mess hall. Elise get's upset if people are late for dinner," he said, but Saphira shook her head.

"I'll pass, thank you. I'd rather leave as soon as I can," she declined, Dick only nodding in response. "Do you have any suggestions as to where I should head?"

"Mark has informed me that Dragon Scale have had most of their attention set on Milline. They might need some special resources for their weapons," he told her, Saphira thinking for a bit. Milline was a minding town that was known for their rare materials and weapon forge. It was considered one of the best mining and smithy town in Savia.

"Thanks again. I really appreciate it," she thanked him, Dick giving her a short nod before he headed off to go eat. Saphira made her way back into the room she was in and fixed her blade onto her back and pulled her bag onto her shoulder.

"Head down the hallway past the food area and you'll be out," Flarenix spoke, Saphira swinging her bag over her shoulder and followed Flarenix's directions. "Once you're out, stay around for a bit longer. You could get some interesting information," Saphira didn't want to waste too much time, but she needed all the information she could. Once she exited the former storage, she heard laughter from a group of noble women not too far from her. All of them had fancy dresses on, and their jewelry were shining in the sunlight. She leaned against the wall out of sight and eavesdropped on their gossiping.

"Have you heard? The young Prince Marik has invited all women to his Royal Ball!" one of them exclaimed in glee, and the others made sounds that sounded just as enthusiastic. Saphira hadn't heard anything about a Prince before, not even from Dick. Though it wouldn't be too weird if the King had a son.

'It might be good to keep this in mind for when I deal with the Royal Army.' She thought to herself as she ignored the rest of their conversation and began to head towards the exit. 'Anyway, thanks for the advice, Flarenix.'

"You're my Aolis and partner. As your Spirit, it's my job to help you in any way I can," Flarenix told her, Saphira smiling a little. When she walked out of the town, she looked towards the mountains in the nearby area. She knew that there was a mining town, which she assumed to be Milline. was on the other side of a mountain. But which mountain was the question. "Oh, there's actually something I've been meaning to tell you. That necklace you bought in Holie isn't just for looking nice," Saphira pulled out the dragon necklace Flarenix was talking about. "It's an object to enhance your weapon so you can use my power with it. Basically turning it into a Rektos,"

"Rektos? I've read that before," Saphira sat her bag down and pulled out her journal once again. She flipped through the pages and found what she was looking for.

Rektos
A weapon that a Spirit enhances through their Leot in order to help their Aolis. This process needs a weapon the Aolis prefers to use, and also a enhancing object that resonates with the Spirit. The process takes time, the time varying from Spirit to Spirit, but it will be stronger than any normal weapon. And it will also allow the Aolis to channel their power into their weapons with ease.

"See? So just place the necklace on the blade and I'll take care of the rest," Flarenix said once Saphira finished reading. She followed Flarenix's instructions and placed the necklace. The gem on it began to glow and soon burst into flames that surrounded the metal. Saphira let go of the hilt and stepped back in shock, waiting for the flames to die down before she picked it up again. The hilt became gold and red, and there was a faded design of a dragon on the metal itself.

"You could've warned me," Saphira complained, Flarenix only snickering at Saphira's reaction. "It looks cool, but what's up with the dragon that's been engraved on it? It looks like it's about to disappear,"

"It's a meter of some kind. Like your little book said, it takes a longer period of time for it to become a Rektos like this, but it is better. That engraved dragon shows you how much longer you have to wait. Once it's crystal clear, it's finished. The time it takes depends on the Aolis and Spirit, so it shouldn't take too long really," Flarenix told her, Saphira sheathing it. "Back on track, though, you need to head to Crystal Mountain to the east of here. Milline is on the other side," Saphira nodded as she swung the bag over her shoulder and headed towards the East.

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