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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6. Chapter 6

As Saphira made her way through the woods, she heard a few conversations talking about the weapons and armor that one could get in Katil. According to the gossips, it was the best in the entire land. Even better than the ones you could get in Milline. Erik hadn't said anything about it before, so that did make her think that he was still skeptical about her. She was at the edge of the woods and began to see a large city in the distance. Once she exited the woods, she looked down at probably the richest city she had ever seen.

All the buildings, even the tiniest stall, had at least three pieces of gold somewhere on them. Everyone in the streets wore clothes with gems on them, which sparkled in the sunlight. In addition to that, they all wore fake cat ears and tails. Saphira felt uncomfortable looking down at it, unsure if she really wanted to involve herself with this town.

"Well, I can definitely see how they worship those stupid fur balls," Flarenix grunted. Saphira was surprised by how Flarenix referred to the Spirits. She usually had high respect for all Spirits, even if she was snarky towards Humans. "The fur balls are sly little buggers that have caused me and many others nothing but irritation. Especially when they steal our gems,"

"They stole gems from you? Why? I thought they lived in the area with most gems," Saphira asked, Flarenix breathed hard through her nose.

"Where do you think the term 'cat-burglar' came from?" Saphira joked, Saphira laughing a bit to herself. "But seriously, they use the gems to tend to their fur, which is usually covered in Leot. The gems absorb the Leot from their fur and cleans it. But they are so damn picky about what gem they want to use. And even though they do live where most of the gems appear, they will steal from others if they want the ones we have,"

"Well, I can certainly understand why they wear so many gems then," Saphira said, still feeling uncomfortable. "Is there a point to going there looking for information?"

"I would think so. Remember, this is a city dedicated to a single type of Spirits, and they've agreed to helping Shadow Knight. We might hear something about it from the citizens," Flarenix told her, Saphira sighing. She made her way down the edge and entered the village, trying to find a place where people gossip.

"Hey, did you hear nyan~?" A voice spoke, and Saphira could already tell she would quickly get annoyed by their speaking pattern. "Lady Mariallie has found herself a soul mate, nyan~,"

"Yes, I heard, nyan~! Even though he doesn't have a feline Spirit, Lady Mariallie has accepted him, nyan~. I also heard they found another thing just the other day, nyan~," another voice said, Saphira not sure what they meant by 'thing'. "They placed it in the facility, so hopefully it will be useful, nyan~,"

'Wait, are they calling the Aolis who can't control their powers things? How can they treat them like that? They're still Humans.' Saphira thought, holding herself back from just straight up asking them. She instead began to walk towards the opposite end of the town. Soon, she was able to see a large, white building ahead of her. She continued towards it, it was a lot larger than she expected. It certainly seemed large enough to hold a lot of people inside of it. She didn't know how much space one would need to do research, but she assumed this place was the research facility Erik mentioned. She noticed two guards standing by the main entrance, their lips moving as they spoke to each other. She noticed a pile of crates not too far from the door, thinking that it would be a good place to hide if she got a chance to sneak in, not caring about what they said, so she took her time to get there. She placed her bag by the tree and carefully and quickly made her way to hide between them.

"What's his condition?" A new voice made her flinch a bit as she hadn't gotten behind the crates yet. Feeling panic, she quickly moved behind the crates before she looked over to the door again, relieved to see that they hadn't noticed her. The man who spoke wore golden robes, so Saphira assumed that he was the Leader they mentioned before.

"Right now, he seems to be quite calm. He hasn't caused any trouble since we brought him in," one of the guards said, Saphira thinking that they were talking about the Aolis she was after.

"Good. What about Shadow Knight? Have you heard anything from them?" Saphira narrowed her eyes as they mentioned Shadow Knight, which confirmed that this would be where she could find the Aolis.

"We sent them the proposal, like you said. However, we have yet to receive any answer form them. It's possible they'll answer when they met you in person," the other guard answered. "But, sir? Are you sure we can trust them. I'm aware that Lady Mariallie wishes to marry Lieutenant Erik, but still," Saphira nearly lost her balance when he said that. That was the last thing she expected to hear.

"Well, it seems we understand the deal now. That's a really stupid idea," Flarenix commented, Saphira agreeing with her. "So, now we need to find a way in, any suggestions?"

'It would probably be best if I sneak in somehow. If I start a fight right before Shadow Knight arrive, they'll become suspicious.' Saphira thought, unsure of how she would be able to sneak in. She didn't see any other doors nearby, nor was there any other guards. So she assumed that was the only entry point.

"You're not really in a good position, are you?" Flarenix sighed, Saphira trying to think of a way to distract them. But from where she was, it wasn't too easy. Just as she thought that, however, all three of them left the entrance. Confused, Saphira looked in the direction they went and saw a man with food in a cart. "Well, that works," Saphira moved away from the crates and began to make her way to the door. She saw that it was unlocked. Not wasting any time, the entered the building and cautiously made her way through. The scent from this place was something Saphira had never smelled before, and the echo from her footsteps made her feel too exposed. As she continued through the building, she heard the sound of the door opening once again behind her. Panicked, she moved into a separate path and hoped that they wouldn't go through here.

"Lord Jiro, I know you trust all of your people. But maybe it would be wise to not inform them of what we do in here," Saphira didn't recognize the voice that spoke, but she assumed that Jiro was the Leader because of how the other man addressed Jiro. The man had a white coat on him, quite different from the guards outside. Saphira assumed that he was a researcher because of that.

"It's fine. He's an old friend, and the one in charge of delivering food here. It would be good to let him know," Jiro said, and Saphira did recognize his voice as the one the guards talked to before. The two walked past the path Saphira had hidden herself in, who held her breath to try and not let them know she was there. "What is the status on the lad? I heard he was calmer now,"

"He is, but still as uncooperative as ever," the researcher said, Saphira carefully moving out of the path and followed them.

"I has been since we brought him in. We cannot help him if he continues like this," Saphira wasn't expecting to hear him say that they were trying to help. When Erik said this was a research facility, she thought that they might be using the rampant Aolis as experiments or something. Jiro turned slightly towards the man, Saphira stopping completely to try and keep herself hidden. He scratched his light beard. 

"Well, looks like we found our man. Hopefully he'll listen to us or we'll have some trouble doing what mister Blackmail wants us to do," Flarenix said, Saphira carefully walking at the same pace as Jiro and the researcher to try and not draw attention to herself.

"Did you hear about the incident in Castrelia? It seems like the Royal party took quite the turn. I heard that both Shadow Knight and Dragon Scale showed up. With the both of them and the Royal Army, it's surprising that no one was harmed," the researcher said, Jiro looking over at him.

"Does this have something to do with that mystery fighter that has been making quite the name for themselves?" Jiro asked, Saphira surprised they even knew about it. It didn't seem like they were involved in the war in any way, so she didn't expect them to know about it.

"That does seem to be the case. Although I don't know what they said. From what I've heard, most people are very conflicted about whether she is an ally or an enemy," Saphira did say she wasn't a hero back at the castle, so it would make sense that they would be concerned about that. "Also, Lady Mariallie seems to be getting impatient with Shadow Knight,"

"I know, but we cannot do anything until they arrive. And she is also unaware of the reason they agreed to it in the first place. Honestly, I feel a bit sorry for Lieutenant Erik. It can't be easy having to live up to ones father, especially when he is the Head Chief of the same group," Jiro sighed, Saphira stopping for a minute. She didn't know Erik's own father was the Head Chief of Shadow Knight. She shook her head as she continued to match the pace of Jiro and the researcher. They walked for a bit longer before they stopped, Saphira carefully going into another path to keep herself out of sight as she waited for them to say something. "Can you give me the details on his condition?"

"We've tried the same methods that worked on all the others, but nothing has had any effect on him at all. I'm starting to wonder if his Spirit is stronger than him," the researcher said, Saphira examining the area. She saw a cage of some kind, but she couldn’t see anyone inside. As Jiro went over to touch the door, Saphira felt a chilling presence that made her skin crawl. Whoever was inside of there, the Spirit was the one in control, not the Aolis. "It's still unsettling to work with this boy,"

"Oh, some old men have come to visit us today. How nice," a voice said, Saphira still unable to see anyone in the cage. "How can we help you?"

"You speak in plural form, does that mean you referring to yourself and your Spirit?" Jiro asked, Saphira not sure if that was the case. She could feel his Spirit incredibly well, but she wasn't able to sense the Aolis at all.

'If he stays like this, then his in big trouble. I've heard that Spirits that take control over their Aolis for too long take over their mind completely and break them to the point where they're just empty husks.' Saphira thought, getting more anxious by the second.

"He's already controlling his mind to a certain degree. We need to act fast," Flarenix warned her, Saphira relieved that he was at least still able to be saved.

"Does it matter? All you want is answers, correct? Well, you'll only get what we feel like giving you," the guy said, Saphira hearing a slight change in his voice. It sounded almost like a beast, not a Human. "Or maybe you want to dissect my brain,"

"Please, stop these games. We're trying to help you, and our time is running short as Shadow Knight has asked to recruit you for their ideals," Jiro plead, a small chuckling emanating from the shadows of the cage.

"What happened to 'we only us our weapons for peace'? From what we've heard, this war is even worse than the war when Humans were first separated from the Spirits," Saphira didn't expect him to mention that war, and she could feel Flarenix tremble slightly as well. That war didn't end too well for her. But the fact that he knew about it meant that the Spirit had given the Aolis the information, or that the Spirit was in complete control and the Aolis was put in a comatose of sort. "Oh, but you don't know about it, do you. Well, I'll say one thing. If it wasn't for the Dragon Circle, Humanity would've been dead,"

"Lord Jiro, I think we should stop for today," the researcher said, worried about the leader. Jiro nodded as the two of them left. Saphira pressed herself against the wall as much as she could to try and keep herself hidden a she waited for them to walk past her. Once their footsteps died down, she came out of hiding and walked over to the cage. It was still covered in shadows, but she could feel a sinister gaze on her from behind the bars.

"There's a new face. Who might you be?" he asked, Saphira trying to see him in the shadows. But all she could see was glowing, crimson eyes looking at her. She had already felt his chilling presence, but the look in his eyes made it even worse. She noticed a layer of Leot around him, so strong that it looked like it was a Spirit that was sitting there instead of a Human.

'Wait, is the Aolis even in control?' She thought to herself as she sat down. How long it would take her to get through to him was a complete mystery to her. 'Could his Spirit be…a Devil Spirit?' Devil Spirits were Darkened Spirits that became completely 'evil' after their 'darkening'. Saphira didn't like describing them like that, as she believed no Spirit was truly evil. But right now, with this Spirit, that was the only thing that came to mind.

"What's your name?" she asked him, trying to keep her cool. She didn't want to seem like a threat, nor make the impression that she saw him as one. His eyes narrowed slightly, Saphira forcing herself to keep a calm expression.

"Zane, happy?" he answered her, Saphira shook her head slightly.

"No, not the Aolis. Your name," Saphira clarified, Leot becoming even stronger and sinister. A small cackle came from him as well before he spoke again.

"You're sharp, a lot smarter than those morons who come here every day. But you'll need to be more than just smart if you want to know my name. I'd like something in return," he told her, the shadows disappearing. Saphira was now able to get a good look at the guy, and he looked about a year or two older than her. His hair was coal black, and he as smirking at her.

"Then how about you let me talk to Zane instead, your Aolis?" she asked, unsure if she should be playing this game with him. She needed to get him out of here before Shadow Knight came, but she also needed him to cooperate with her.

"Tch, seems like you're really not different from the others. So scared of Spirits who are stronger than you. You Humans were supposed to help us stay alive, not control us. And if it wasn't for those idiotic Dragon Elders, that's how the world would be," the Spirit growled, Saphira resisting the urge to just run.

"You're right. Humans were supposed to help Spirits. And that war proved that we abused that power you gave us. Many Spirits have suffered under the Humans, even to this day. But there's one thing you're forgetting," she told him, the Spirit glaring at her. "Humans aren't the only ones to blame for that war,"

"And your argument to support that statement?" he asked, testing her knowledge.

"The Spirits separated the Humans from them in order to try and stop the problems that were being caused. But it was also the Spirits that fueled that darkness in Humans. Like you, right now," she told him, the Spirit clicking his teeth.

"You know more than I thought. Maybe not all Humans are clueless after all," he said, Saphira feeling the aura weaken a bit.

"Don't let your guard down. He may seem calm, but I can still feel his control over the Aolis' mind. He will take any chance to try and trick you, so stay sharp," Flarenix warned her, Saphira already aware that it would be too easy if that was enough to make him surrender. Just as she finished that thought, she felt a separate energy of Leot inside of the cage. As she narrowed her eyes to locate the new energy, a snake covered in crimson snapped at her, making her fall back so she placed her weight on her hands behind her. The snake stayed by the bars and began to hiss at her.

"Not only are you knowledgeable about Spirits and the war, you're also sensitive to creatures made entirely of Leot. It seems I underestimated you. And here I thought I was able to show you what my powers are capable of," he chuckled at her, Saphira glaring at him in response. "Fine, you win. I'll let the boy have his thoughts back. But remember, I'm still stronger than him. And if he gives me the chance, his mind is mine," Saphira could feel the sinister Leot around Zane disappear, as he slumped against the wall. She got up to unlocked the cage door and entered it, worried that he might be injured. As he began to regain his consciousness, the crimson eyes from before was replaced by clear, blue eyes.

"Who are you?" he asked, his tone still rather harsh. Saphira just gave him a warm smile, trying not to agitate him too much.

"I'm a friend. And I need to get your out of here," she told him, footsteps echoing down the hall. it came from the opposite end from where she entered, so she still had time. She grabbed his arm carefully and dragged him onto his feet. "I don't have time to explained properly now. Just trust me and follow me," she leads him out of the cage and began to walk fast towards the door she entered. Zane didn't complain at all, which she wasn't expecting from his tone of voice before. They exited the door, and luckily for them, the guards were not at their post. Saphira lead him over to the trees she hid in before she moved to the crates, Zane's movements a bit clumsier as they stepped outside. She turned and saw that he was covering his eyes with his hand.

"I didn't think it would feel this bright after only a few days," he said, Saphira waiting for him to get used to the light. "Anyway, explain to me why you were in such a hurry to get me out," His tone was demanding, and Saphira was doing her best to try and not snap at him.

"Do you know about Shadow Knight?" she asked, remembering that his Spirit mentioned them earlier. Zane shook his head, Saphira trying to think of a way to explain it simply. "They're a part of a large war that's going on between them and two other sides. And Shadow Knight have struck a deal with the leader of Katil to get you on their side,"

"So I was meant to be given as a gift?" he asked, Saphira nodding slightly. She noticed that he clenched his fist, and that his eyes became a slight shade of red.

'His powers are determined by his emotions? That's not good.' Saphira thought, though she didn't get enough time to really think more about it before Zane turned his attention back to her.

"And what about you. Who are you? You said you were a friend," he asked her, Saphira thinking that she could at least tell him her name.

"I'm Saphira, no one special, really," she answered him, Zane grabbing her arm and held it with a lot of force. Saphira winced in pain as she tried to keep herself from making too much noise.

"No on special wouldn't have convinced my Spirit to let me have some fun. Who are you really?" he demanded, Saphira trying to loosen his grip a bit. But much like Erik in Milline, Zane was not willing to let her go so easily.

"I'm from a village that lives in harmony with Spirits. That's why I was able to convince him," she answered, her arm aching really badly. Zane let go of her arm when she finally answered. She placed her own hand over the red area, trying to ease the pain a little. "You really didn't have to hold so tightly, you know," she commented, Zane looking at her with a puzzled expression.

"Why aren't you scared of me? You saw how my Spirit is. I'm not that different," he asked her. Now it was Saphira's turn to be confused. Did he think she would be scared of him purely based on his Spirit? While it was true that many Spirit reflected how the Aolis was, that didn't mean she had any special reason to be afraid of him.

"Because I don't think you're a bad person just because you have a short-tempered Spirit," she told him, Zane completely dumbfounded. "Anyway, I need to go do something else. If you walk to the South, you should find a town where you can get some proper rest," Before she gave him a chance to ask her anything else, she grabbed her bag and made her way back to Katil. Something about the marriage proposal still nagged at the back of her mind. She couldn't believe Erik agreeing to this solely because of Zane. There had to be something else at play here. And she was going to figure it out.

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