Somewhat unaware of the scenarios that played out across the island, a circumstance that would perhaps do the Ambassador more good than he realized, Johann's eyes wandered as he walked, joined still by Markus. His stride carried a proud conviction, the determination to save the people of this island, to stop the grasp of evil before it could close shut around this place and its people if it had not already been too late. Plumes of smoke rose all around, the gradually dissipating grey reaching skyward. The ground, in places, appeared disturbed, sometimes strangely charred, splintered and collapsed trees dotting the roadside. A result of the devastation these people had brought, and the battles that now raged to remove this stain once and for all. It was a good moment to appreciate the work that the soldiers of the guild's strike team were doing, united today in but a single goal, demonstrating to the silver-haired mage that he was the closest to his ideals he had ever been, that his dream was not only viable, no, it was righteous, as well. He was convinced that Dies Irae had the potential to save Kenrojima, his simmering anger slowly giving way to a stern sense of confidence, the hope that his efforts had not been misplaced bringing with it a sense of fulfillment. These emotions were short-lived and swiftly stored away once again, Johann displaying none of his thought, his expression marked by cold stoicism. This was a war, after all. There was neither the time nor the room to fool around, every lost second meaning more potential devastation, more innocent blood spilled, more suffering. Something the man wouldn't be able to bear on his conscience.
Though somewhat occupied with his own thoughts for a few brief instances, Johann was almost comically reminded that this area was still, at current, what amounted to the equivalent of a battlefield, a shape flying past not too far away before crashing into a tree, Johann's steps came to an immediate halt, his head instinctively following the path of what Johann soon came to realize was a young man, the argent-haired Ambassador raising an eyebrow in what was a moment of perplexed surprise. The other was clad in a uniform of the guild, though, causing Johann to divert from his path and walk towards the other, who, in a display of resilience, had promptly begun rising back up after being knocked down. Before Joh could ask him if he was injured, though, let alone the soldier's name, the other had already begun babbling away, seemingly recognizing the Ambassador. The Blonde man seemed fine, at least, if out of breath, though mentioned Sivvy before storming off once more, giving Johann not much of a chance to even address him or react to his presence. "Sivvy is in trouble?", he inquired with a hint of concern in his tone, though the other was already gone before he could answer. Johann took a deep breath. He'd just have to check himself, then, though he had a hard time imagining that his fellow Ambassador struggled to a degree that required his acute intervention.
Johann closed his eyes, his aura expanding, stretching outward like a bubble as his magic swept over the island, a wave of subtle energy delivering immediate feedback. Although he didn't have eyes on her, Johann could feel her magical signature, and in a way similar to echolocation, his magic aided him in visualizing an image, impressions of Sivvy as she ferociously cut through a band of dark mages flooding his mind. The aura dissipated, the silver-haired Ambassador of Dies Irae opening his eyes. A smirk found its way onto the man's expression. The girl really had come quite far.
"Our assistance will not be necessary", Johann spoke with calculating tone, the small gesture of satisfaction vanishing as quickly as it had come. He turned back to the pathway before him, and, assuming the Chaos Mage was still with him at this point, would address the man in a curt manner. "We'll keep going". The Ambassador resumed, hurrying forward at the previous pace. After all, they had a new goal ...
Apart from this incident, the Ambassador went on relatively undisturbed. He would have expected a resistance that was somewhat more ... fierce, at least, given that the numbers of mages that belonged to Dies Irae were negligible when compared to the army the bandit leader had described to him, if he could be believed at all, that was. And while his ability to read people was not exactly one of the God of Ishgar's strengths, he had seen the simple, but telling fear within the other's eyes. It was difficult to misinterpret. Yet, there had been something about the dying man's words that had stuck with the Ambassador, past fear, past hatred. There had been a certainty in his voice. With such confidence had the man proclaimed that they would not just be beaten, killed, no, there had been something else entirely, as well. Something sinister. Nothing more than a dying man's delusion? The though caused Johann's brows to inch closer together slightly. It shouldn't have impacted the man with the argent hair as much as it did, he would have to wait and see for himself, and yet, a nervous feeling spread through his gut. The sense that something about this was off ... way, way off.
The first indicator that gave such away was the lingering scent. The closer the Ambassador got to their target location, the air, at first subtly, but increasingly so, carried a sweet, almost metallic smell, intensifying with every step he took. His heightened senses aided in reinforcing the sense of nervousness, not allowing the silver-haired male to shake off these sensory impressions as he walked. His brows furrowed closer together as his eyes narrowed. Next came the crows. An unusually high concentration of the creatures. The cries of the charcoal avians that lined the broken, burned trees filled rang out in excess, their shrill, night constant screams sending a shiver down the Ambassador's spine. The uncomfortable, nervous feeling from before gradually turned into a morbid expectation. Something terrible had occurred on this island, and he had the feeling he would very soon find out what had happened with his own eyes.
"Johann ...", the deep voice of Mars rang out within the back of his head, a familiar stir within him bringing the Ambassador's attention to the Second Seal. "You should turn back. What you will find on this battlefield will bring you nothing but misery". The silver-haired vessel almost raised an eyebrow. The concern in the Nephilim's normally so playful, erratic voice was alarming. And indeed, the Lord of War had enough experience to know what was to come. He had lived through this exact scenario many, many times over the course of his existence ... and he knew the God of Ishgar well enough to know how the human would react to the sight that would unfold before him. The Seal knew that Johann was a man of strong ideals and convictions, but he was naive, ignorant to the harshest realities of War that Mars was all too intimately familiar with. He also knew that Johann was stubborn. "It's too late to go back now. You and I, Mars, we have a mission, a duty to the people of this island". The old man was a fool ... but he had made his choice. Johann could feel the Seal's attitude shift back to his usual self, the cackle of the Nephilim echoing through his mind, "Tssehehe ... as you wish, Ambassador", placing a taunting emphasis on the last word. As much as it amused the Seal to give his vessel a hard time, though, he knew that the man's path was set in stone. It had been worth a try, but all he could do now was stand by and watch as Johann learned. He would break, but Mars, regardless of what he said or how he acted, would try to support him as much as he could. Of course, the Seal would never say so out loud.
The path before them was clear, and the way to the city had not been an exceptionally long one. What separated from reaching the location of their desire would be, at this point, no more than a metaphorical stone toss over a row of hills, the heavy feeling of dread only weighing heavier on the silver-haired man until finally, the last hurdle was crossed as the Ambassador caught sight of the city in the distance, imposing stone walls encircling the large and undoubtedly old settlement. His gaze, however, was not locked on the settlement, instead swerving over what had seemingly once been farmland, widening, trembling in raw shock, unbelieving of the scene they beheld.
The Ambassador had expected devastation, he had seen what they had done to this island, he had expected murder, destruction, and other injustices of a similar kind. What he saw with his own eyes at this moment, the man wouldn't have dreamed of. He could feel his stomach turn, the world around him beginning to spin for a brief moment, raising a hand to his mouth, struggling to, for more than just a passing moment, hold back the sickness that overcame him.
The foul stench that flooded his nose overshadowed even the smell of rot and decay that he had experienced in Tsak Ordahic. With every breath, the sour, disgusting taste of dried blood filled his mouth and brought back the sensation of sickness. Reflexively, the Ambassador averted his eyes, struggling to grasp the scope of the evil that he had borne witness to, only to wander back onto the sight before him, only now fully realizing what exactly he was looking at.
Hundreds upon hundreds of wooden spikes littered the area outside the city walls, thousands, too many to count at a glimpse. On each and every single spike was placed a single dead individual, all bodies in an obviously different state of decay and, disturbingly, in various states of excessive, brutal, and humiliating forms of contortion, disfigurement, and torture. The ground was stained red from dry blood, and it was no secret that swarms of crows had partaken, and were still partaking in what they considered an excessively grand feast. Mars' voice rang out in the silver-haired man's mind, though the latter barely registered it. "This is it. The harsh reality of war. It doesn't discriminate". The Second Seal seemed entirely unfazed by the sight.
Instinctively, it dawned on the silver-haired man why the bandit had been so thoroughly confident. He, they, had done it before. It was already far too late. Far too late to make any significant difference. Far too late to be the heroes that rescued the oppressed people of this territory. Far too late to save this island. Dies Irae was simply far too late. They, he, had failed. Monumentally so. The Ambassador knew that what he was looking at at this very moment, with his own two eyes, was the majority of this island's population, beaten, broken, murdered in cold blood, slaughtered like cattle, and displayed like a gruesome demonstration of power, an example to instill fear. Soldiers, civilians, men, women, children. It didn't matter. The God of Ishgar's thoughts were racing, Johann feeling like he was about to lose consciousness, though Mars' intervention prevented that. Images of death, begging cries of despair, pain, suffering flashed past the man's inner eye. Images of his own childhood, the things that had occurred on Amber Island in a circumstance that was almost morbidly familiar to this one. The Ambassador struggled to process it, his first impulse the desire to lash out, though now confronted with the impression that he could have prevented this, that this was his own personal failing, that hundreds, thousands of innocents had died because he was simply too late, that this mission was a failure from the very beginning, his attention turned inward. What was the point of the guild if it couldn't protect those in need? What was the point in struggling for justice when things like this were reality? Why did he fight, train, suffer, spare no effort to attain all of this power when it couldn't be used to save them?
Guilt would quickly turn into self-loathing, and self-loathing turned into burning hate. The anger was such that it felt like the Ambassador was going to choke, rage closing its invisible grip around his throat, his eyes still locked on the image before him. "There is nothing you could've done", the Second Seal's voice echoed once more, sensing the distress within the man. "These people, this group you are dealing with ... they are merciless. No honor, no dignity. Naught more than beasts, inspired by bloodlust". It was obvious that the seal steered the attention away from the Ambassador's thoughts. "If you wish to help, there is not much left you can do ... except-", the Seal paused briefly, "-exact revenge on their behalf. If you truly wish to make a difference, my little vessel ...", Mars cackled, not without his keeping his own goals in mind, "... then, with my assistance, once and for all rid the world of this wretched evil, tssehehe".
The Ambassador hesitated, though the basis had been provided by the Seal, the Lord of War's influence, like a wave of nausea, gripping his mind, the God of Ishgar's vision blurring momentarily. Mars was right. These people were the sole reason for this. If people like them didn't exist none of this would've happened to begin with. Every single one of them was at fault, every single one was guilty. It was his purpose, his duty to ensure that they were wiped out to the last. For what they had done, and so that they could never do harm again, all of them, every last one, would be punished for their sins. The hate, anger the man felt was forced outwards, his body almost reacting on its own. The Ambassador reached for his hat, taking the item off and discarding it, similarly removing his coat and tossing it to the side.
This was no longer a rescue operation ...
... No ...
... This would be a massacre.
Letter by letter, one after the other, the runes on the Ambassador's skin began to glow, charcoal scripture etched deeply into his body suddenly set alight in an array of prismatic colors that crawled across his form. His eyes, changing color in a similar way to before, were alight with magical force, his expression dominated by an ice-cold fury, unblinking eyes locked forward. The man opened his mouth, taking a deep breath before speaking to the other entity within him, his tone almost a hiss, his voice trembling with hate.
"Give me everything you can. There will be no more restraint".
The Second Seal only cackled in response, allowing his power to flow freely through the vessel the two beings shared. "It will be my pleasure".
With a low hum, the air around the God of Ishgar began to grow icy as he began to concentrate, a subtle breeze picking up into ever-stronger winds as he accumulated magical power within his body. An increasingly forceful pressure started bearing down on anything nearby. Wordlessly, the man stretched out his right hand horizontally and parallel to his shoulder, the guild symbol on his hand radiating with a red hue, sparks of crimson energy escaping from the cross as he closed the hand. With a low rumble, sigils lit up on the ground beneath, forming a massive magic circle around him, bearing the same red cross within its midst, the insignia of Dies Irae flaring up as he invoked the guild spell. Seemingly from nothing, a shape coalesced within the grasp of his hand, sanguine energy manifesting into a physical form, creating, at first, a hilt, then, slowly, a thin, long blade that protruded from it before ultimately peaking in a pointed edge, completing the Gospel of Execution, the magic circle vanishing, leaving behind the sword within the God of Ishgar's grasp.
The light show had not come and gone unnoticed. From within the walled city, horns rang out, one, at first, then a second one, others joining in to alarm the rest of the dark guild that they were under attack. It wouldn't save them either way. The Ambassador lowered his arm, the guild mark on his hand and the blade within crackling with arcs of crimson energy. The road continued through the tainted farmland all the way to a gate, stone buildings separated by narrow streets, paths, and alleyways reaching over the walls behind it. With the first sound of a horn, however, the gate, two massive, reinforced slabs of solid wood and steel, were slammed shut with a heavy, resounding thud.
"Pathetic", their efforts earning nothing but ridicule from the silver-haired man.
Now raising his other hand, the Ambassador of Dies Irae concentrated once more. His fingers curled into a cramped claw, all pointing towards the structure designed to withstand intrusion. A second would pass, Johann's hand trembling before finally, he closed his fingers into a fist, sparks of magic bursting from the limb as he did. At the gate, in a fashion that was almost instantaneous, a minuscule orb of antimatter would be created, suspended in the air before the structure for a fleeting moment. Then, with a loud crash, at first, and a brief, blinding flash, the material would combust. The resulting explosion was enormous, immediately swallowing not just the gate, but a good portion of the wall, the buildings behind it, and everything else unfortunate enough to be present within its vicinity. Flames washed over everything that was not instantly disintegrated in the initial explosive burst, and a wave of pressure rippled out from the center of the explosion, ripping apart anything it could as it washed over the land, a low rumble, like thunder, echoing across all of Kenrojima. The ground trembled with the enormous forces released in the attack, and after a few seconds, dust and smoke had begun covering the vicinity of the blast, reaching skyward and continuing to drift up. The gate, on the other hand, had been reduced to atoms, a crater left behind where it had stood strong just a moment ago. The Ambassador wouldn't waste this opportunity, slow, calm steps carrying him forward towards the city, blade firmly in hand, the path to victory now clear.
Word Count: 3,094
Word Count Total: 11,713