Chapter 31- Wings of Fate
600 AD, Guardia Castle
Trumpets flared, filling the great hall with their echoing brass hits. Drummers banged out at steady beat as a lone flute sang a melody of great knights past. At the back of the hall, Aragorn, Tristan and Rayith stood. Garbed in regal robes, the trio prepared to march up the aisle to meet the king. The Knights of the Square Table flanked the main walk, swords at attention.
It was nearly a week after the battle. The commemoration ceremony was to be planned in honor of the newly proclaimed heroes of the war, namely Aragorn and his companions Tristan and Rayith. In some versions of the story, they had been proclaimed to have defeated the entire Mystic army alone. "Magic wielding humans and the brilliant Commander, Sir Lestrides," that had, "crushed the Mystic army beneath their feet as they ushered in a new age of peace." The stories were naturally a little embellished, but it was these three who had technically saved the Kingdom.
The Mystics had been routed and cut down successfully, and the battle had ended not ten minutes after Aragorn had given the final command to charge. With the mounted units running with lances lowered, the fleeing units had been easy to destroy. Acting with extreme prejudice, Aragorn had ordered that not a single Mystic be left alive.
After, they had ended up before the King in a less noisy situation. Aragorn's previous trial had been examined and he was proclaimed innocent in light of new actions for the throne. Someone had merely proposed the ceremony to raise moral, and it seemed to be working.
As the song swung into full movement, the three shared a nod and began to march up the isle to the beat of the music. Aragorn stood tall in the middle with the others at his side. As the reached the column of Knights, the soldiers lifted their blades into the air, forming an arc for the trio to walk under. At the end of the hall, the King sat on his throne, awaiting the heroes of the battle.
Aragorn led them up to the throne, whereupon they performed a synchronous kneeling motion before the King. The King drew his sword from his side and placed it on Aragorn's left shoulder.
"In light of recent events," the King said, speaking also to the crowd, "You, Aragorn Lestrides, shall be cleared of previous charges against your name." The crowd cheered. Their hero was finally brought before them.
The King then turned his attention to Rayith. Placing his sword similarly on her shoulder, "And for valor in combat, you Rayith, shall also have your record purged and any bounties on your head removed." Rayith kept her head nodded.
Finally he looked to Tristan. "And ye from afar," he said with the sword placed on Tristan's shoulder. "Tristan Tenser, you shall be granted the title of Knight of the Square Table under my name." The music still played strong in the background. "Now," the King said. "Rise."
The threesome did as told, rising and turning to the crowd who was cheering. Some of them were not even sure of what they were cheering for, but the cries of joy filled the room none-the-less. Aragorn turned his head to the King.
"May I say something, Lord?" he asked.
"Of course," the Kind said, smiling. "You're public is waiting for you." He indicated back to the cheering crow. Aragorn nodded, motioning for the people to quiet as he began to speak.
"Fellow Guardians!" he shouted. The crowd roared before he could speak anymore. He had to wait nearly a minute before he could continue. "We now come to the dawn of a new era. This new time is an era of peace. We have lived to see the end of the dreaded Mystic war and we shall not live to see another one!"
"No longer shall wives fear that they will lose their sons or their husbands to this great beast of war. No longer shall children and women shiver with fear in the night at impending invasion. We shall usher in a new time. We shall live in peace!"
"It is through our spirit, that we victorious in the battle. It is in the spirits of all humans to fight for their lives. It is not in our creation to be destroyed without fighting. We have stared evil in the face and been scowled at by innumerous odds, yet we have fought on."
"Though," he paused briefly. "There are some of us who understand that fighting is the only thing they know how to do. I myself am one of these people. My old friend Cyrus was also one of these people. All through our lives, we fought, sometimes for our lives, other times for our egos, and yet other times simply for the sake of fighting. It is all we knew. It is all we were good at." He paused, mostly for effect.
"Cyrus isn't with us today. It is unknown what happened to him. However, I do know this: Cyrus was lost to something because he finally found his reason for fighting. He knew his reason, and he followed it. It is because of this that he is not here standing on this podium with me."
"We, as humans, must all find our reasons to fight. To fight for the sake of fighting is not a just cause. We all have the fighting spirit within us, yet finding the source of this spirit can be difficult. I myself did not know my reason until I stood on the battlefield not more than a week ago. I have been fighting all of my life, yet it was only then that I realized what I was fighting for."
"When I see all of you people of Guardia here, I am reminded of this. I am reminded of what I have been fighting for all this time. But, it would appear that now there is nothing left to fight for. My purpose has fulfilled. This world should no longer be in need of people like myself who live to fight. With no fighting to be had, I am not needed."
"But, let everyone in this room know, that if peace is ever threatened again. Should terror ever come back to this land, I will be ready to fight. I will take my sword and I will go out to the field and I will fight for peace. I will fight for all of you. I will be here! I will protect this Kingdom, and that is something that I swear my life upon!" Aragorn raised his hand in the air, almost in a victory gesture, and the crowd went wild. Now, the sound of the people drowned out the music as their cheers filled the hall.
Aragorn turned to the King. "Not bad, huh?" he asked.
"An excellent speech, Sir," the King nodded with a grin. "Is there anything else?"
"No," Aragorn said solemnly. "I'm through. I believe my friends and I will take our leave."
"We'll be back. We need to attend to some things though. Important matters of discussion, you know? Don't fret. We'll be back for the dinner ceremony."
"As you will, Sir Lestrides." Aragorn nodded and kneeled again. Then, all three rose and turned to face the crowd. They began to march and the soldiers on the flanks once again rose their swords in salute. They walked through the cheering crowd and the playing musicians. As they reached the back of the room, two knights opened the door for the exiting heroes. Then, without looking back, the left the room, off into the entry hall and out of the castle. Waiting until out of sight before using the Ray Wing technique to fly away, the trio 'rode' off into the horizon.
12,000 BC, Kajar
Jack was floating in a sea of nothingness. No…it wasn't nothingness. It was something. It must have been his subconscious. He could almost see himself and his thoughts as he hovered suspended in the realm of ever-shifting colors.
Why do you fight your ally? a voice filled his head. It didn't seem to be coming form anywhere in particular, but it wasn't coming from everywhere either. It was just…there.
"What do you mean?" Jack asked. His voice seemed to echo many times over, resonating through his head and through his levels of consciousness. "How am I fighting my ally?"
You resist against using the most powerful weapon that you have against him, the voice said. Jack could recognize the voice now.
"Topik?" Jack asked. "What the hell are you doing here? Why did you send me here? This is all your fault! Show yourself!"
Calm yourself, Lathain of Zeal, Topik said.
"Don't call me that!" Jack demanded. "My name is Jack!"
Then, Jack, calm down. You must listen to reason.
"What are you talking about? Tell me how you're here speaking to me!"
I am merely sending my thoughts into your subconscious. I don't have time though. It is against the rules that I do this. You must hurry and listen to me. Jack decided to just give in and listen to what the being had to say. He still felt he had a bone to pick with Topik, but he would hold off on that. He could ask about these supposed 'rules' another time.
"Then if you're going to speak, do it now," Jack said in resignation. "What do you mean when you say I'm fighting my enemy."
You must realize the power you have at your disposal, Topik said. And you must take the time and learn to use it. A Dragon Slave may kill a Farilii, but just pouring Force Tech energy to fuel such a spell will not kill a Lavoid.
"Just pouring Force Tech energy?" Jack asked.
It is why you cast such powerful magic. While your understanding of the spells is quite incredible, your energy capacity is underdeveloped. People are fooled into thinking that your power is greater than theirs when you are really just using the Force Tech energy as the main power source of your spells.
"And what should that mean to me? Should it matter where I get the power?"
You must learn to use the power that you have within yourself, rather than borrowing from around you… Topik's voice began to fade out.
"I don't understand."
I am out of time, Jack Topik said. We shall meet in person soon enough, if you realize what I am saying… the voice was now barely audible.
"Topik!" Jack screamed. "Come back here!"
Look into yourself for the power… the last vestiges of Topik's voice said. Then, it was gone.
"Damn it!" Jack yelled. "Why can't people just tell me what they mean!" Jack was cut off by the sudden feeling of the 'world' shaking. His footing, which he did not realize he had until this point, began to seem to crumble. The world around him almost seemed to pulse with heat and the noise increased. He clutched his ears to shield them from the high pitched screeching matched with the incredible loud rumbling.
Then, he woke up.
"What the?" Jack said, snapping back into consciousness and finding himself back in Kajar. He was in his bed and he was covered in sweat. He looked up to find Sarah sitting in a chair next to the bed, watching him. Around him, the room was shaking, just as it had felt in his dream.
"Oh, thank God!" she said, practically jumping on the bed and embracing him. "Thank God you're up!"
"Wha?" Jack asked, still disoriented. He managed to pull himself out of bed with Sarah still embracing him. "Where am I?"
"We're in Kajar," Sarah said softly. "You fell unconscious after coming out of contact with the mammon machine. I was afraid you might not wake up…" She held him for a moment, and he accepted it. It made him feel good that someone had been so worried about him.
"Where's Schala?" Jack asked, finally parting grips with her and scanning the room for his sister. "Is she here?"
"No," Sarah said flatly, sitting down on the bed next to him. "She left about five hours ago. The Queen had called for her, apparently."
"I see…" Jack said, scratching his head. His vision was clearing up. "What's going on?" he asked, referring to the shaking around him. "When did this start? Or, maybe even better, how long have I been asleep?"
"You've been out for two weeks," Sarah said. "We thought you might have gone permanently comatose."
"Two weeks…" Jack said to himself. The time had crucial meaning. "…Lavos…" he muttered, realizing what the explosions were. He jumped out of bed. "They completed the Ocean Palace, didn't they?!" he asked Sarah, frantically dressing himself and searching for the Dreamblade. Sarah sternly stood up.
"Yes," Sarah said calmly. "The contacted Lavos about an hour ago. There's been a lot of this rumbling for the past twenty minutes or so."
Finding the Dreamblade, Jack sheathed it. "Has he made an attack yet?!"
"No. He is awake, but he has not yet fired his main weapon." He cocked his head to the side.
"How are you so calm?" he asked her, finally putting on all of his clothes.
"Because getting frantic won't help," Sarah said. "You'll have to stay calm as well if you want to survive this." He looked at her oddly. "Also, we anchored Doreen to the Dreamblade while you were out. Obviously, we couldn't try it out because it only works for you, by Doreen said the process went fine."
"Are you okay?" he asked, momentarily ignoring the Dreamblade situation. "You seem…different."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. You're just…I can't really explain it. You just seem a bit more collected than you normally do." She was silent for a moment.
"Those…others," Sarah said. "They're down there. I think they're fighting it."
"It will buy us time to escape," Sarah said. "But we don't have much of it. Let's keep our composure and make get out of here logically."
She seemed different, Jack was sure of that. It boggled his mind how she stayed so calm. It was still Sarah, that much wasn't debatable, but there was something new here. It was a calm calculating aspect of her that he had not seen before.
"We should go," Jack said, taking Sarah's hand. "Do you have all of your things?"
"Everything," Sarah said, nodding and smiling.
"Then let's make a break for it. We know what Lavos does when it gets mad. Let's try to get the hell out of here before that happens. He'll have to come to the surface to fire his weapon, though. Even if we can't save this country, we can at least take him out."
The two of them bolted out of the door and into the hall. The whole building seemed to be caught in the confusion of the rumbling. Some people were running around carrying bags of their belongings, trying to escape. General chaos was basically filling Kajar and a sense of panic was prevalent.
Exiting into the City, everything was proceeding similarly. People were running, fearing what might be happening. Buildings were beginning to crumble in various places and the debris was falling on the street. It didn't look like anyway was getting hurt, but Jack and Sarah knew all to well that it wouldn't be that way for long.
Then Jack realized that the vibrations they were feeling weren't due to Lavos's movement in the planet. That would be impossible, as they were floating far above the earth. No, this was the sheer energy given off from whatever was going on below. It was shaking the sky and soon the heavens would come crashing down.
By the time they made it to the building that guarded the entry to the City, Sarah suddenly stopped in her tracks, closing her eyes and clutching her temples. A wave of pain surged through her head and she crumbled to the ground of the massive main hall. Jack quickly turned back to help, lifting her up and helping her out of the way of the screaming people.
"What is it?" he asked, bending down over her. "What's the matter?"
"It's…coming," she said, still cringing in pain as the ache washed over her. "It's coming now…"
"The beams…" Jack mumbled to himself. He stood up and walked a few steps away from her. "If I only I knew where they would…" Closing his eyes, he concentrated deeply. Okay, dad he thought to himself. Where are you going to fire… Letting a series of impulses rush into his head, he transferred the information to a conscious understanding of Lavos's target. Naturally, it was the main island of Zeal. Something had aggravated it. Damn that Mammon Machine! They had brought it to close!
Where will the beams actually go… Jack thought, almost asking as a question. He touched back into the Lavoid energy. There, like a computer targeting image, there were fire trajectories of all of the main and minor beams. Not much time either. The attack was being charged. Only a matter of seconds…"
"Sarah!" Jack screamed, running back over to her and lifting her up off of the floor in a fluid motion. Before she knew what was happening, Jack was carrying her in his arms as he ran top speed at the far wall.
Then, it happened. Right where they had been, a pillar of red energy exploded upward through the floor, easily passing through whatever had been there. Other pillars of fire soon erupted through the floor in the main entry building as well. Jack only set his mind on that wall on the east side. Lowering his shoulder and twisting so Sarah was off to the side, he rammed into the wall full speed, blasting through it just as more beams tore through the last of the building.
He flew with her in his arms, speeding away from the flying island being destroyed behind him. Having moderately imprinted the targeted locations of the beams, Jack attempted to dodge the oncoming weapons of mass destruction. Almost not moving fast enough on the first one, it nearly scrapped his face. The heat from the blast, however, tore through his skin finely along his jaw line. It would probably scar.
"Gotta be more careful than that," Jack said to Sarah, who was closing her eyes and still feeling the aftershock of the pain that had surged through her before.
Jack flew full speed, trying to reach the ground where he hoped to find some form of shelter. The beams continued to rise upwards and the image of Zeal being ripped to shreds could be seen when he looked up.
Around him it seemed almost to be silent. Not the silent where there is absence of sound, but the kind of silent one feels when there is so much sound that one's ears feel almost overloaded. This kind of silence filled the air around him, his mind only being set on dodging.
Dodge, dodge, dodge. For a solid minute, the two made their way to the ground, racing against the falling island above them and dodging the fiery beams below them. It became harder to get around the attacks as he came closer to the ground. Then, a new beam, not in the original target imprint, shot upward. Somewhat distracted by the raining Armageddon, he didn't see the new one coming. It was an unknown beam, almost purple in color. Did Lavos create this one especially for him? His purpose wasn't complete yet, so that couldn't be it.
"Shit!" he yelled as the new attack came up. Their combined mass was too great to be able to dodge it. Jack did the only thing he could think of, relying solely on reaction time. He pushed Sarah's limp form away from him, using their speed and respective masses an acceleration factor. The force and reduced weight allowed him to dodge as the beam tore the sky through the space that was now between the two of them.
Rolling back onto his original trajectory, he looked down to see Sarah falling down beneath him. New shadows came from above as the island began to fall. From giant chunks to small rocks, the new threat tumbled towards them.
He saw Sarah reach out to him. "Jack!" she called, her image being shadowed by a large portion of the island that was screaming down from above them.
"Sarah!" he screamed, even louder. She was helpless. If a beam came up now, she was a goner. Then, time seemed to stop. Moments of life flashed before his eyes. Her face. Her eyes. Her smile. He wondered if he could save her this time. Was his first move a mistake? No. They would both have been dead if he didn't throw her in the opposite direction. She seemed too far away, though. He didn't know if he could reach her. For once, he wasn't sure he could save her.
That shot into him like sheer pain induction directly to the nerves. He couldn't save her. How could that be? Had he just been lucky in protecting her all of this time? No, it wasn't luck. But why now?! Why couldn't he fight this?! Was this destiny? No, he still didn't believe in destiny. But, what good was he if he couldn't save her?! He yelled in anger, feeling suddenly empty. He was empty without her. He needed her. He needed to protect her.
Black light flashed around him. He became engulfed in a black-blue flame. The energy shot out around him, forming a sphere of protection. Large excesses of energy shot out from his back in two distinct patterns. Blades of the excess dark energy within him extended from his shoulders. The looked almost like…wings. Suddenly, he wasn't afraid anymore.
The 'Wings' arched back as Jack increased his speed towards Sarah. Tearing through the air at inhuman speeds, the debris from above was merely blown apart as it contacted him. He couldn't be touched. What was causing this power? Lavoid Energy? Was that what Topik was talking about.
He recognized the feeling, though, of the black energy within him. He remembered now. It was the same thing he used to break his constraints when imprisoned in the Mystic Encampment. It wasn't Force Tech. This was his energy. It was his Lavoid Energy. Both times, he had been able to call on it when Sarah was threatened. That had saved her…twice.
Sarah was almost within reach when the next beam came towards them. It was Sarah that the beam would hit, dead on. He swept in from above like an angel, flying directly in front the oncoming beam. Sarah passed through the protective shield as Jack willed her to, just as the beam careened into them.
Holding out his left hand, Jack braced for the attack. Trying his best to control his newly expressed power, he fought the blast. The beam pushed against him, it's heat making it even through the shield, but Jack would not give in. His muscles tensed as the beam fought against his shield. With a mighty scream, he forced back on the beam, gaining control over it. With a mighty scream, he forced his power through his arm, beating at the beam. The beam soon buckled under his energy, and as the beam was blasted away, the Wings still pulsed strong with energy.
The world became filled with a different silence as Jack looked down at Sarah. She was sitting on the 'floor' of the shield. She looked up at him in mixed awe and confusion. As he helped her stand up, she felt safe.
"What is this?" she asked him. He looked down at here. The falling pieces of the Kingdom of Zeal were ramming into the shield, but the energy and the Wings behind him did not falter. Even the sound of the outside world was driven out.
"It is my power," Jack said. "I've…used it to save you. He looked at her and he felt small tears form in his eyes. "Whatever it takes to protect you…"
"Jack…" she started to speak, but Jack cut her off.
"I've learned something," he said, looking at the ocean far below. He closed his eyes. "It's something I've learned on this journey. We…humans want to protect the ones we love. It's only natural. If we can't protect our loved ones, we're empty. I've…been able to protect you, Sarah. I want to protect all of you. Aragorn, Tristan, Rayith and…you. Those are all my friends. There are so many people that I couldn't protect, though. Everyone back home. My family. My friends. Sean. I couldn't protect Sean. I let that bastard kill him right in front of me and I was powerless to stop him."
"That's why I was given this power, Sarah. While Lavos may have had other intentions for me…I will only use this for good. It is the power of protection. It gives me the ability to protect those that I love, and to reap revenge for those that I couldn't protect. I know how to kill the Lavoid, now. Don't you see?" He clenched his fists.
"Power is a funny thing," he continued. "So many people think they have power, but are really powerless, and so many more want the power because they know they're powerless. And then, those few with power always dominate the ones without power. If you're strong, then the rest of the world doesn't matter. Everyone else is just a pawn in the giant game of life in which the ones with power control everything."
"That's what Lavos did to us. He used us like we were his pawns. Everything that's ever happened on our world. Hunger, famine, war, death…it's all because of him. He just wanted our genetic code. He just needed the genetic material that we're made of. We were all just used by him. But, now I think I have the power to stop him. I can't let all of his crimes against humanity…" he paused and corrected himself. "No, this entire world, go unpunished."
"But for now, I'm finally complete, Sarah. I can protect you. I can protect the person that means more to me than anything in the world. I can save you. I can finally know that if I'm here, you'll be safe. I'll never leave you, Sarah. I'm going to be by you until the day we both die, and if I do die, it will be in saving you. I won't let you ever suffer, Sarah. I swear it. I'm going to be with you always, watching you and…"
"…Jack…" she said, sniffling and starting to cry. "I…" He slowly nodded his head, knowing what she was going to say. Ignoring the torrent of a falling kingdom outside, he answered.
"I love you too, Sarah," he said, his voice raspy with tears. The silence of their vacuum protected them as they embraced and their lips met again. It was so different from their previous meeting of bodies that both of them were lost to their emotions. Neither had ever experienced such a pure, true expression before, and for what seemed like the first time in both of their lives, they were happy.
."So don't hide the feelings that are in your heart... Don't fear love..." - Elly
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