Before the Fall

Fanfiction of When the World Falls to Darkness by DragonSoulJess.

The fall has begun. alliances are being formed, and guardians are being rounded up. In a small outpost called Ryoko, a small number of guardians still fight for their freedom.

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2. Miel

 

    There was a flutter of wings, and Miel landed next to Kylora, flipping her gorgeous hair over her shoulder. As always, Kylora had to stifle a surge of jealousy when she saw Miel. the girl beside her was no guardian. If they were overrun, she could simply escape to the sky, and blend away into the rest of her kind. Kylora was doomed to fight to the death. It was that or be captured, and she would never let that happen. Not again.

    Miel was gorgeous, but in an inhuman way, the way a painting might be beautiful. Her face was sculpted, with brilliant hazel eyes, and smooth blond hair, like Hylla’s. But while Hylla’s hair was a light yellow, the color of the sun, Miel had hair like molten gold, spilling down her back in an intricate curtain. Her wings were gold as well, except for the very ends of her feathers, which were red, as if they had been dipped in blood. Miel was an angel, and the only true friend Kylora had apart from her sister.

    “How many,” Kylora asked, her voice rough. Mentally, she cursed herself. Strong. Stay strong.

    Miel’s voice was smooth as silk, and she smiled as she spoke. Kylora hadn’t smiled in years. Not since her life had gone wrong. Not since she was stuck leading a desperate troop of guardians in what was most likely going to be their last stand.

    “Not too many of them. Perhaps two hundred. And one dragon.”

    Kylora shook her head, studying Miel. “Two hundred. We may not be able to handle that many. What will I tell them, when I go out there and reveal that we’re fighting a losing battle?”

    “Tell them they have a chance,” Miel replied. “They know what they’re fighting for.”

    “Not all of them,” Kylora replied. “They talk about surrendering, Miel. About begging for mercy. Mercy! As if the humans will show them any!”

    “Maybe it’s time you showed them,” Miel murmured.

    Kylora rounded on her, eyes blazing. “I swore I would never show those scars to anybody ever again! Do you understand how much pain they cause me? How much pain they still cause me?! I still have nightmares, Miel. I still wake up screaming in the dark, and the scars burn. They burn me, and you know what? That pain never goes away!”

    Miel flinched backwards, and Kylora looked down, face flushing. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.

    “Ky, if there’s anything I can do-”

    Kylora laughed bitterly. So many people offering to help me. They didn’t offer to help me back then, when I almost died.

    Miel ducked her head. She knew that laugh. It was the laugh of someone who refused to accept counsel or help from anybody. She sighed, and turned away, casting her eyes over the assembly of guardians. Kylora glanced at her, and wished there was something she could say- something to heal the rift that seemed to be growing between her and her friend. But what could she say? ‘I’m sorry?’ there was nothing she could say that would express how desperately she needed Miel. if she had no friends, she was sure she would go insane. Miel was there to push back the fear and misery, with her laughter, and smooth, sweet voice. Kylora stammered for the words to say, but Miel took her hand. The contact was gentle, and still it made Kylora flinch.

    “Ky, I know you’re suffering. I know I can’t help. But they believe in you. I believe in you.”

    Kylora felt her face turning red. She wanted to listen to Miel. she wanted to share in the angel’s confidence, but she couldn’t. She knew how cruel humans were. It wasn’t Miel’s fault that she’d never felt the pain that humans inflicted on her kind. Angels didn’t suffer in the same way. They weren’t captured, tortured, and enslaved. It wasn’t Miel’s fault that she didn’t know anything about the horrors that Kylora had seen. Honestly, nobody should have to suffer what she had suffered. That was why she kept fighting.

    She turned back to Miel, setting her face. “How far away are they?”

    “Kylora-”

    Kylora gritted her teeth. It’s not her fault, she reminded herself.

    “There’s no time for sentiment, Miel! I have to tell the rest of us what to expect. We have to be ready to fight, and that means I need to know how close they are to reaching us.”

    “A few hours, no more,” Miel replied. At least when it came to strategy, Miel was a good practical thinker. “But Kylora, about our conversation-”

    “Later,” Kylora said firmly. “Not here. Not now. When it’s time to show them why we fight, I will. But not yet.”

    Miel nodded, and withdrew her hand from Kylora’s. It was obvious that she wanted to say more, but she just sighed, and took to the air, soaring away over the heads of the assembled guardians. Kylora watched her go, and then turned back to her army. She had to focus. Their lives were in her hands. Her weakness, her past, none of it mattered. She had to keep them alive, and that meant fighting to the very end.

    She transformed from her humanoid form to her guardian form- a gleaming copper dragon. She spread her wings, and leapt from her outpost, soaring over the head of the assembled guardians. She landed on another outcrop and roared. Gradually, the others turned to look at her. Some were uncertain, and others were determined. But all of them were afraid. They knew the humans were coming. It was Kylora’s job to reassure them.

    For a moment, seeing so many faces turned towards her, Kylora wanted to slink back behind the rocks and hide. She wanted to run away, and escape with her sister before the humans arrived. But she couldn’t. That wasn’t a choice. Besides, these guardians were her friends. If she ran, she would doom them to slavery. And she couldn’t let that happen. Not to anybody.

    “The humans are coming!” she announced. Everybody already knew that, but she had to say it anyways. It was a good start. “But they underestimated us. They have two hundred troops.”

    “That’s more than twice as many as we have!” one of the guardians protested.

    Kylora gritted her teeth. She wanted to scream, You think I don’t know that?! But she had to keep herself together. She nodded patiently. “Yes, but they’re humans. The reason they come for us is because they fear us! They will fall before our claws and teeth, and be sent scurrying back to their kingdoms with their tails between their legs!”

    “And if they come back again, with a bigger army?” The speaker was definitely Ryder. He was a younger guardian, who believed if they surrendered they would be treated with mercy. He had no idea how cruel the humans really were.

    “Then we retreat to a more advantageous position, and fight again,” Kylora replied. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d rather die fighting than be a prisoner of the so-called Alpha races!”

    They thought she was crazy. She knew that much. But she had no choice. She had to keep going. She took a deep breath. Even after several years of being free, she still had to fight her own instincts to stay in her dragon form without worrying about being identified and captured again. Maybe that was why she did it. To fight her own fear, and stay strong. She took a deep breath, and began to arrange the logistics of the upcoming battle- who would go where, and how they would fight. As she spoke, she could see the determination in their eyes. It was weak, but at least it was there. That was a start. The assembled guardians split off to take care of their various assigned tasks, and Kylora transformed back to her humanoid form, sinking to her knees with exhaustion.

    Miel landed next to her. “Ky?”

    “I can’t keep doing this…” Kylora whispered. “They already think I’m crazy. I was never meant to be a leader. We never were good at working as a cohesive army, and now the humans are coming after us…” she look up at her friend, weakly speaking the words she could never say aloud around anybody else. “What if I’m wrong, Miel? What if we lose? Maybe Ryder’s right. They’ll just keep coming back, with a bigger army. They won’t give up until we’re all dead. We fight back, but maybe we should be hiding instead.”

    “Why?” Miel asked.

    Kylora looked over at her, confused. “What do you mean why?”

    “Why hide?” Miel replied. “How do you want to go out, Kylora? You know that they’ll never give up chasing you. So do you want to die hiding in the mountains, slinking around and keeping your head down in case they find you, or do you want to be here, out in the open, fighting for something you believe in? What’s better? What matters more to you?”

    Kylora blinked at her friend, confused. “Are you… what are you trying to say?”

    “You know your kind are being hunted,” Miel continued. “The humans aren’t going to give up. You might die. But isn’t it better to die doing something that’s right, instead of just kind of… fading away? If you’re going to die, at least you should give them a reason to remember your name, right?”

    Kylora sighed, and forced herself to stand. She studied Miel, who was looking at her with a hopeful smile. Kylora envied Miel’s happiness sometimes. Of course, Miel hadn’t spent her whole life being hunted. She hadn’t been tortured, treated as a thing rather than an angel. It wasn’t her fault she couldn’t understand Kylora.

    “You, my friend, are horrible at making me feel better.”

    “You’re standing up now,” Miel pointed out.

    “That’s because I’m an idiot and a dreamer, apparently,” Kylora shook her head. “If anything, I have to fight because no one else will. The rest of them want to back down- to hide. I can’t do that. I can’t subject myself to a life of hiding. So yes, I’ll fight. But that doesn’t mean I think we’ll win, or even that we have a chance of surviving.”

    Miel sighed. “I guess that’s all I can ask for…” she paused uncertainly, then retreated, leaving Kylora alone again. Kylora turned away, and started towards the position she’d assigned for herself. She had a battle to fight.

 

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