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    War never changes [Event]

    Nestor Azarov
    Nestor Azarov

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    War never changes [Event] Empty War never changes [Event]

    Post by Nestor Azarov 8th February 2021, 2:05 am



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    Nestor Azarov
    Nestor Azarov

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    War never changes [Event] Empty Re: War never changes [Event]

    Post by Nestor Azarov 8th February 2021, 2:05 am

    Rolling


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    War never changes [Event] Empty Re: War never changes [Event]

    Post by NPC 8th February 2021, 2:05 am

    The member 'Shen Kadokawa' has done the following action : Dice Rolls


    'Monster Dice' :
    War never changes [Event] R2fEWNz War never changes [Event] PzArA86 War never changes [Event] OdAaNwh War never changes [Event] OdAaNwh War never changes [Event] OdAaNwh War never changes [Event] NXDHjfc War never changes [Event] OdAaNwh War never changes [Event] PzArA86 War never changes [Event] OdAaNwh War never changes [Event] R2fEWNz
    Nestor Azarov
    Nestor Azarov

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    War never changes [Event] Empty Re: War never changes [Event]

    Post by Nestor Azarov 8th February 2021, 2:06 am


    War never changes [Event] 9hjimib

    The cold wasn't necessarily the worst part about the border region, the uneven terrain and heavy snowfall making progress on foot anything but an easy task. Naturally, the opposite was the case. It was hard to see much further than a few dozen meters at the most, the beyond blurring in a haze of grey mist and white flakes. Undoubtedly, if one was not equipped for such a scenario, it would be hard to navigate, not to mention the fact that the whistling winds of the snowstorm made it hard to keep open one's eyes. Shen, however, kept his gaze straight ahead, focussed eyes peering into the mix of bland contrasts before the small group through a pair of snow goggles as they, with some difficulty, pushed onwards through the snow. He'd known that this would be no easy mission, of course, especially given the nature of the task that they had been sent here for, but it appeared to him as if everything was beginning to try and work against him, the terrain, weather, and temperatures included. That wouldn't be the worst of his worries.

    How had things even ended up like this? The young Rune Knight officer was not exactly a friend of politics in general, but he had a vague understanding of the situation here, the border region between the nations known as Bellum, with its council of mages at the top or whatever it was, and the Empire of Pergrande. Bellum and Pergrande were rivals, as he understood it, that had been vying for supremacy in the region for ... well, a long time. Just as he was not well-versed in politics, most historical facts also escaped Shen. He wished that he hadn't skipped school as often as he had in moments like this one, perhaps some of the general knowledge would've come in handy, but it was too late now. He knew that both of these nations were strange, one with its absolute fervor for anything magical and the other with the opposite attitude. It was no wonder that these two hated each other. Why that was the case, Shen didn't quite know, but it was of no use anyway. Knowing why Bellum and Pergrande were once again at each other's throats wouldn't change the situation at hand. He and some of his squadmates, and by extension, the Rune Knights in general, were operating in this border region now. He couldn't help but ask himself why the fuck he had to be here. Naturally, he knew that he was a Rune Knight, and officer, of course, but why were the Rune Knights getting involved with Bellum's affairs? It was something like "Bellum's High Council and Fiore's Magic Council have an alliance" or something of the sort, that had been the reply when he'd asked the knight who'd assigned this mission to him, but why were the Rune Knights the first ones to be sent in? Couldn't Bellum fight its own conflicts, especially if they took place in freezing conditions like these? He was, to say the least, not amused in the slightest.

    Naturally, Shen thought, Bellum would rather deplete another nation's resources, Fiore's, to be exact, before beginning to dig into its own stockpile, not to mention the fact that sending in Fiore's military forces would give the army of Bellum time to prepare for battles to come, whatever kind of instance that was. Shen honestly had no idea if they even had an army at all. He couldn't remember ever seeing or hearing anything about Bellian armed forces. Then again ... that might be his own regrettable ignorance at play. Was Bellum really so weakened that it would depend on outside assistance? Not to mention, why was the Magic Council of Fiore so quick to spring into action and mobilize their own forces to assist? Was there some kind of reason for the seeming lack of any kind of hesitation or consideration? Shen could only wonder and realize that, once more, thinking about this would be a futile effort. It wouldn't change the fact that he and the Rune Knights were here now. "To protect against incursions into the territory of Bellum, which is an ally of Fiore, and to adhere to our defensive pact with the Holy Council of Bellum" was undoubtedly the official way things would be framed, along with flowery excuses like "We are simply defending the territory of an allied nation" and "The Rune Knights are protecting the innocent people of Bellum from Pergrande's invasion". Shen wasn't so sure about that. After all, if Pergrande was the one beginning an invasion, why had they been sent to patrol Pergrande's side of the mountain ranges that made up the southern border region of the massive nation that formed the northernmost part of the peninsula and continent of Ishgar? Wouldn't they be busy beating back invading forces in Bellum itself? Shen was sure that some kind of paper-pusher had another excuse ready for that, as well. That's how it always was with bureaucracy.

    Even so, despite all these thoughts, this still wouldn't be the Staff Sergeant's biggest worry, fear of what might happen in this snowstorm coursing through his mind again and again. It wasn't like he hadn't been able to hold his own thus far, but that was exactly what caused him the current distress. This region was, albeit unofficially, effectively a war zone, and in practice, the Rune Knights had been sent to participate in an armed conflict against other humans. Not monsters, not some kind of demonic threat, Shen would have been considerably less concerned about those, no, other people. The same kind of human beings that lived everywhere in Earthland, in Fiore, the same as the swiftly assembled bunch of Rune Knights behind him, his friends Sherman and Bradley included, the same as Shen himself. They were just people fighting for their country, just like this group was comprised of people fighting for their country. Shen didn't know what to think, the feeling of nervous anxiety slowly rising from within his gut. He had never really fought another human being. There had been harmless scuffles here and there, something that was unavoidable in his profession, he had learned, but nothing that caused any serious inury to any participants, and no one had ever tried to kill him, nor had he ever killed anyone. In truth, he didn't know if he could actually do it if the situation called for it. No, he had the expectation that he couldn't. He glanced back over his shoulder to the other Rune Knights. Did they have similar thoughts? What would they do if they learned that their leader was a coward like this? Was it not his duty to fulfill his orders, to defend the people behind him? Yes, it was, but the doubts remained. He hoped, he prayed that today would not be the day they ran into enemy forces of the Pergrandean Empire.



    Word Count: 1,164
    Word Count Total: 1,164 / 4,000



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    Nestor Azarov
    Nestor Azarov

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    War never changes [Event] Empty Re: War never changes [Event]

    Post by Nestor Azarov 2nd March 2021, 3:17 am


    War never changes [Event] 9hjimib

    "What are ya making that face for, Sarge? You constipated or something?" a familiar voice asked in a casual tone from beside Shen, the volume of said voice, as usual, being loud enough to even drown out the snowstorm momentarily, though the Staff Sergeant doubted that the rest of the group of Knights could hear him. His head turned, his gaze shifting from the seemingly unending blanket of white before them to his fellow Knight to his right. The man who had asked him the rather ridiculous question was Corporal Sherman, his short, military-style cut of brown hair hidden under a wool beanie, the brown eyes that stared at Shen portraying the same emotion as the man's cheeky grin. Caught off guard, Shen would stop his continuous pace forward in a moment of surprised embarrassment, though he would resume his steps only a second later, his face, already red from the cold, turning ever so slightly more scarlet. Just how long had Sherman been watching his internal debate? "H-huh? N-no, I-", he would stumble over his words, though was swiftly cut off by another voice from the Rune Knight's left, though this one did not address the Staff Sergeant, being directed towards the Corporal at his side. "Will you stop it with your senseless chitchat? Stay focussed, we're in a war zone!". The voice came from another man, his tone more refined than that of his colleague, though agitated as it was, there was little difference between the two. In moments like these, it really became obvious that both of the men were childhood friends. The other Knight was, of course, Sergeant Bradley, who had foregone the snow goggles in favor of keeping his delicate frameless glasses, though the hood of his jacket was pulled up, only a portion of his long blonde hair being visible underneath.

    "I couldn't be more focussed, four-eyes. How 'bout, instead of berating me, you just ... relax a little. We've been stomping around this freezing wasteland for hours, and still, nothing! I swear, if I don't get out of this cold soon I'll-". "Relax?", Bradley would interrupt Sherman once more, "How could I possibly be relaxed when Pergrandean soldiers could be waiting in ambush behind every cliff, every stone, and every god damn corner we turn?". The Corporal only scoffed. "As if. I hope that one of those Pergrandean bastards finally shows their face so I can show 'em how exactly I feel about this shit". "Be careful what you wish for, Caleb" was the only answer he would get from the Sergeant. Shen sighed. It was always the same with these two, they always tended to quarrel with one another, but he knew that both of them had their heart in the right place. It was why the two men had quickly become the two people that Shen relied on the most within the Rune Knights, the Field Marshal excluded. It was safe to say that the three were a full-fledged team. Still ... they also both had a point. "Stop fighting, guys. That's not gonna make things better". Those words seemed to calm the two at least a bit. "I don't even know why we're wandering around here in the first place ...". Both Sherman and Bradley remained quiet, not answering the question.

    Well, it didn't exactly need an answer. Shen knew that they shared that perspective, and he reckoned that most of the other privates didn't exactly understand why the Rune Knights had been sent to intervene in a conflict on the other end of the continent. It was understandable, really. Everyone hoped that they would finish their patrol without incident, that they would all make it back home in one piece without ever making contact with the "enemy". No one even knew what that enemy looked like, or what exactly the other side was thinking. At the end of the day, as soldiers, no one wanted to die in a place far away from home for a matter they had no real investment in. They all figured that, in the end, the soldiers from Pergrande were just like them. Young men and women who were fighting to protect those they loved, fighting for what they believed in, fighting just to get by. Who was to say who was right and who was wrong in this conflict? Well, that wasn't exactly the easiest question to answer, especially not for Shen, though it did prompt some thought. What if there was someone on Pergrande's side just like him? What if they, too, didn't want to lay down their lives for a war that they felt was unjustified? What if they didn't want to kill? What if they couldn't just kill people?

    Shen believed that in this conflict, in the end, there would be no victors, only survivors, and he didn't intend on robbing a mother of their daughter or a father of their son. That was all he had hoped for.

    Fate, however, had other plans and would soon prove the young Rune Knight very wrong.



    Word Count: 844
    Word Count Total: 2,008 / 4,000



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    Nestor Azarov
    Nestor Azarov

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    War never changes [Event] Empty Re: War never changes [Event]

    Post by Nestor Azarov 2nd March 2021, 10:21 am


    War never changes [Event] 9hjimib

    The group of Rune Knights had patrolled in a wide formation, avoiding clusters of soldiers larger than the individual squads in order to minimize casualties if attacked with weaponry that targeted a larger area. All in all, 19 Rune Knights had been making their way through their assigned sector behind the mountain ranges that marked the border between Bellum and Pergrande, 4 squads of 4 soldiers each, alpha squad, beta squad, gamma squad, and delta squad, plus the 3 officers, Corporal Sherman, Sergeant Bradley, and Staff Sergeant Kadokawa. Of course, in theory, they would be a group of 20, but one of the Rune Knights had been a designated scout officer. The man, who went by the name of Ajax, was a Warrant Officer in the Special Operations Corps of the Rune Knights and knew his way around the battlefield. He was supposed to move ahead and report any suspicious activity or enemy contact back to the larger group of Knights so they could investigate, but Shen doubted that in this kind of weather there would be much interaction. For some reason, the lacrima system they used for communication over long distances didn't give a clear signal, and whenever Shen had checked the device, it had given him only static. There would be no finding each other by sight in this snowstorm, either, so the man was essentially out there on his own. Well, he was more experienced than any of the other Rune Knights present here and was trained precisely for circumstances like the one they found themselves in. Ajax would be fine and make his way back to base, the Staff Sergeant was sure of that.

    Still, lost in thought, Shen had almost missed the sudden commotion that came from one of the groups, the subtle clicking sound that was almost lost in the frozen breeze that howled around them, and the shouts that got louder and louder for a few passing seconds. His eyes swerved around, spotting the silhouettes of delta squad on their right flank, one of them waving their arms like crazy. What was their problem? Had they found something in the snow or-

    BOOM

    Before the Staff Sergeant could even finish that particular thought of his, the world before him would suddenly become blindingly bright, a deafening roar rolling across the snow-blanketed mountain tops and bouncing back from the steep cliffs, giving the explosion a reverberating ring that amplified the thunderous sound that accompanied it by a multitude. Snow and ice were catapulted high into the air as a pillar of dirty brown and flaming red rose into the sky before falling back to the ground, scattering mud everywhere. Shen could hardly process the scene unfolding before him, so sudden had been the change from what essentially equated to a peaceful hike in this Pergrandean mountain range to a bloodbath. "H-huh?", was all he could muster, his eyes, wide with shock, fixed on the plume of smoke that was quickly scattered by the wind, leaving behind only a crater in the ground, filthy and smeared with black stains where the ground and snow had been singed by intense heat, and ... Shen's eyes wandered, his carmine oculi, still steeped in obvious shock, widening anew as he discovered the stains of red among the ashes. Bloody smears coated the ground, the remains of the soldiers, their forms to varying degrees intact, being distributed among the site of the blast. For a passing second, Shen managed to stem back the overwhelming sensation of dizziness as it threatened to overtake him entirely, his mind devoid of all thought as his entire consciousness raced to process the information, though a heavy splattering sound ripped him from his delirium.

    Instinctively, his head turned, his gaze fixed on the piece of debris that had landed not far from him and caused the sickening noise in the first place, the sight of an arm, severed from the shoulder joint, finding its way to him, the flesh ripped asunder from the sheer force of the blast that the body had been caught up in. The contents of the young man's stomach began to rise, Shen stumbling back in a bout of severe nausea, struggling to stay on his feet. He averted his eyes, his gaze fixed on the ground before him, though it didn't help much. He didn't have to look over to the site of the blast again to know that delta squad had been wiped out entirely. There was no way any of them could've escaped that blast in time, which meant that all of them ... that all of them had been reduced to what he had just seen. Apart from the wind and the faint echoes of the explosion, there was complete silence among the Rune Knights. Everyone appeared to be stunned for a moment. A perfect opportunity.

    It was then that all hell broke loose upon the command of a clear, almost calm voice that broke through the wind, a man shouting something that Shen didn't understand, though it was spoken with such an air of authority that he couldn't help but shudder, instinctively realizing that something was about to go horribly wrong.

    "стрелять!"

    Within what felt like an instant, dozens of explosions seemed to flash in the distance, the hail of bullets descending on the Rune Knights just a fraction of a second later. "Ambush! Get down!", the roaring scream of Jona Bradley would echo out in response, the Rune Knights, on command, dropping into the snow almost simultaneously, pressing themselves against the frozen ground as much as possible while projectiles impacted all around.



    Word Count: 938
    Word Count Total: 2,946 / 4,000



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    Nestor Azarov
    Nestor Azarov

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    War never changes [Event] Empty Re: War never changes [Event]

    Post by Nestor Azarov 3rd March 2021, 6:52 am


    War never changes [Event] 9hjimib

    From one moment to the next, the situation had changed dramatically for the group of Rune Knights. Shen, who had assumed that they, with high likelihood, would never make enemy contact in these weather conditions, had been proven decisively wrong in a matter of only a few seconds, 4 Knights having already fallen. They had stumbled right into a minefield and were now under heavy and concentrated fire, the wall of thick, grey haze and freezing winds, laden with snow, obscuring their attackers almost entirely, the exception being the flashes of gunfire that were visible some distance away. How did they even know that the group of Rune Knights would take this route? How had they been able to prepare an ambush for them in these conditions? The circumstance that the Rune Knight Staff Sergeant had prayed would never occur had descended upon them without warning, the sheer intensity of the situation paralyzing Shen entirely. He felt sick, his gut stirring with an intense feeling of disgust, giving him the impression that he could cramp up and vomit any moment. Shen's vision was spinning as his eyes darted about, the feeling of overwhelming nausea making him dizzy like he had never been before. Uncertain steps forward soon forced the Rune Knight to his knees as he stumbled, heavy, shallow breaths filling his lungs with freezing air.

    All other knights had hit the deck as soon as the firefight had started, making themselves the smallest targets for the continuous rifle fire possible, but Shen hadn't noticed. The young man's body appeared completely stunned, his mind trying to deal with the unbearable amount of stress it had been put under. His group was under attack. He was their commander, he had to do something right now, or there would be even more casualties. But what was he supposed to do? Order them to engage the enemy? Or order them to retreat and abandon anyone who would be injured as a consequence so the majority of the group could make it out, not to mention leave the bodies of their comrades here in this frozen wasteland? He couldn't make that decision. He just couldn't. He couldn't fight these people, and he couldn't order anyone to throw their life away to do the same, but he also couldn't abandon any wounded or fallen here. What should he do? The question echoed through his head again and again, until a scream ripped him from his state of paralyzed inaction, his eyes moving up to the source of the voice.

    "What are you doing, idiot?! Get the fuck down!".

    It was, of course, Corporal Sherman who had shouted those words, sprinting over towards Shen with a furious expression on his face from the position where he had taken cover. It was not too far away, about 10 meters, but the impacts of bullets scattered the snow all around him, making even the short distance appear like an insurmountable path. Sherman had to know that, and still, he would dash forward in order to get the Staff Sergeant behind cover.

    His effort was futile.

    Like a lightning strike, the bullet heading for him would find its mark, piercing Corporal Caleb Sherman's skull with a spurt of crimson liquid.

    Still executing a movement, the momentum of the man's body carried him forward, though it appeared like all tension had left his form, his corpse collapsing face-forward into the snow, swiftly staining the untouched blanket of white in a scarlet red. Shen's eyes followed the motion, the thud of the man's body impacting the frozen ground ripping him from his state of confusion and awake unconsciousness.

    "N-No ... No!". This was all wrong. Tears began to bloom within the young man's eyes. Sherman was ... he couldn't be dead. No, he had been moving just a second ago! Nothing a little healing magic wouldn't be able to fix, right? He'd get back up and they'd all return home, right?!

    "CALEB!"

    The roar, filled with disbelief and agony, came, naturally, from the man's childhood friend, Jona Bradley, who had jumped to his feet immediately, the small notebook he carried with him at almost all times open between the fingers of one hand, a pen in the other. "You filthy Pergrandean bastards. You'll pay for this!", his voice would echo through the howling wind, a hateful gaze directed at the enemy's frontlines. The notebook was a holder item, essential to the Sergeants magic. After all, most things written down within would become reality, and so it was a fearsome weapon, indeed, the blonde man beginning to scribble commands within at furious speed, all while the whistle of projectiles flying past him was ringing as a looming reminder of inescapable danger. Bradley, however, cared little for that, blinded by his own wrath. The air around his body flickered, set alight with blazing heat from one second to the next, flames forming from thin air and surrounding him in a roaring inferno.

    No, this wasn't right. They were all just soldiers, weren't they?

    Shen looked back towards the rest of the group of Rune Knights instinctively, as if trying to affirm his thoughts, as if trying to rely on their support for this argument of his which would never be uttered in the first place, though what would await him was only more despair. Without any delay, he would whip around, finding his voice for a defiant scream.

    "Jona! Behind you, watch out!"

    The blonde Rune Knight, clutching his notebook tightly in his grasp, spun around where he stood, but it was too late. The Pergrandean soldier moved with a speed that the Rune Knight couldn't have seen coming. There was no dodging this attack, a large zweihänder blade digging itself into the chest of Sergeant Bradley, cold steel, drenched in blood, emerging from his back. The flames around the officer died, vanishing into thin air just as quickly as they had emerged from nothingness. With a sickening sound, the Pergrandean soldier, a bulky man in full plate armor, pulled back his weapon from the Rune Knights torso, the latter falling to his knees, a gurgle of blood bursting from Bradley's mouth before he, too, would fall, his now bloodstained notebook still clutched in his grasp. As if this had been some sort of cue, the rain of bullets would cease at once, silence returning to the site of this battle once more.



    Word Count: 1,070
    Word Count Total: 4,016 / 4,000 (Word Count Fulfilled)



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    Nestor Azarov
    Nestor Azarov

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    War never changes [Event] Empty Re: War never changes [Event]

    Post by Nestor Azarov 4th March 2021, 8:48 am


    War never changes [Event] 9hjimib

    Shen could only stare at the armored Pergrandean, his body trembling with fear. Not only had the feeling of paralysis returned, but the feeling of nausea from before had also found its way back to him, as well. He didn't need to turn to know that he was the last survivor. The sight that had prompted the warning to the Sergeant in the first place was that of the armored soldier as he moved between the Rune Knight squads like a bolt of grey lightning, striking with unimaginable speed, slaughtering them all in what must've added up to a mere few seconds. Shen had no choice but to accept the situation.

    They were dead. All of them. Every last one of the Knights had perished at the hands of Pergrande's troops, had been massacred without any second thought, without any chance of changing the outcome of this situation, without any hope of fighting back. Irises twitching in horror shifted between the bodies of the two men he had called his closest friends, with whom he had bickered with like it had been nothing only a minute prior, and the hulking, armored figure, which now turned, facing Shen. The young Rune Knight's was blurry. Everything had happened so quickly, there had been no opportunity to even realize that he had been crying this entire time, tears rolling down his face as he stared blankly ahead, sunken into a miserable, cowering form. On his knees, his hands dug into the frigid sheet of white below him, he remained still, though he kept his gaze centered on the Pergrandean, his head instinctively presenting him with a realization as time seemed to slow around him, his mind shifting into overdrive.

    He was staring at his own death. This was how he would die, without any chance of avoiding it. Even if he wanted to, his limbs did not move one bit. He couldn't fight. No, he wouldn't be able to, in the end. So, this was it, huh? His life would be over by the stroke of a blade. He would die without having accomplished anything in his life. Well, he had always expected that, but a violent death by the sword? He hadn't expected that. Well, maybe he had been delusional from the very beginning. After all, if one was sent into a warzone to fight an enemy, one had to expect to get hurt, even to lose their life. He'd been nothing more than a naive kid, too weak to do anything. Too weak to lead the Rune Knights entrusted to him by the Field Marshal. Too weak to fulfill his mission. Too weak to protect his only friends. At least, he thought, at least he would get to die alongside them. The thought was oddly relaxing. What had he been scared for this entire time? What had he been so afraid of? There was nothing to fear in the ordinary world when at the other side of the continent, the devil lurked within the people of Pergrande. The way they had massacred the Knights without any hesitation ... what had he been thinking? These people were monsters. All of them. He felt like sighing, but his body wouldn't move a muscle. Well, it was alright this way.

    The armored figure had begun taking steps towards him, leaving the young Rune Knight resigning to his fate. He'd hope that, in the end, the soldier would at least make it quick.

    "You really that quick to give up, Sarge?"

    Well, what kind of question was that? Not only that, life would really taunt him by having his hallucinations speak in the voices of his dead comrades? "Taunting me from the grave, huh? Well, it doesn't really matter, either way".

    "You have the means to fight back, Sir. You've been working endlessly to obtain them. Why are you not using them?"

    What a cruel fucking joke this was, but he was clearly hearing their voices in his head. Had he died already? No, he still felt the cold of the snow, heard the howling of the winds, saw the soldier approaching him, his bloodstained sword in hand. "Does it matter? This is all my fault. I'll take my punishment and just die. It's better like this. Besides, it's not like I could take them, anyway".

    "I know what you can do, Staff Sergeant. What are you so afraid of?"

    Shen had not expected to hear that voice. Why was it that certain woman he would hear in these moments? Was she trying to be reassuring? Well, it was a little late for that now. If only he'd never joined the Rune Knights, to begin with. If only he hadn't gotten cocky, thinking that he could handle all of this responsibility, this position that had been assigned to him. It was all his fault. The overwhelming sensation of soul-crushing guilt filled Shen's entire body. Was this his conscience speaking to him? "I've failed. In the end, I wasn't able to do anything. Your trust in me has been misplaced. I'm sorry I wasted your time".

    "You're just gonna check out like that, shitbag?"

    Ah, her too? Even now she wouldn't leave him alone, would she? "Please, just let me die in peace".

    The voice shifted anew, though a strange sensation overcame the young man, the passing of time, which had previously seemed to slow down, had now come to a complete halt. What was this? Was this his brain trying to squeeze out those few extra seconds of life? Human survival instincts that clung to any little shred of hope? It was almost laughable, really.

    "So, you'll sit here and pity yourself? What's that good for?"

    The voice speaking now wasn't known to Shen, different from the other two, though ... strangely familiar. It almost seemed childlike in tone. Who was this, and why was Shen hearing it? "Nothing, but I can't go on like this. Not after what happened here. It's all my fault".

    "Is it really your fault? Don't you think it's that of Pergrande? Well, be that as it may-"

    ,the voice began speaking anew, the carefree attitude with which it seemed to deliver an argument to him capturing his attention. What the voice had said ... it was right. It wasn't just him that was to blame for this. Still ...

    "-wouldn't you like an opportunity to fix your mistakes? You've always been denied that opportunity, so why push it away now?"

    "I-", Shen attempted to answer, though insecurity and guilt still shackled him, "I don't know if I could ever make this right".

    "You have the chance to take revenge on those that killed your friends, Shen. Aren't you angry? Don't you wish to punish them for what they have done?"

    Shen couldn't answer that question. Of course he wanted to. He was furious, but his fear still kept him in his clutches. What would he be good for if the others, who he had seen as soldiers far more capable than himself, had been slaughtered by these beasts so easily?

    "You're a strange one. I thought I'd figured you out by now, but so many things still elude me, it seems. So riddled with pain that you can't even see your own potential. You're different, you know?"

    The voice had changed again, once more speaking in a tone that Shen had never heard before. It was almost silken, androgynous in nature, but the attitude with which it was speaking to him had shifted dramatically over the course of this interaction, seeming almost teasing now. Just what was this that was speaking to him.

    "Who-", the voice cut him off.

    "You are me, and I am you. It's rather in my interest that you remain. Let me lend you a hand, free of charge, ... just this once. Consider it a gift from a like-minded individual. I hope you don't resent me for it ... Still-"

    Shen had no time to reply, feeling something reach into the depths of his mind, his soul, like a touch of absolute cold that froze his entire being solid, shattering his existence and reassembling the shards. This ... what was this? It felt so surreal, so bizarre that Shen couldn't comprehend what was happening to him, wondering if this was simply an illusion, a trick his brain played on him as a result of inborn reflexes meant to keep the body alive, but the change was noticeable from one second to the other. Adrenaline surged through his form. His breathing calmed, and his vision returned to normal. His body felt light in a way that it had never before, any feeling of uneasiness, anxiety, and stress blown away by whatever reaction had just occurred.

    "-I hope that we can meet again, my friend. Now, find your purpose-"

    Time seemed to return to normal now that a surge of adrenaline had rattled Shen's mind awake, his head clear of thoughts. He could feel something within him, something that called out, something that yearned for freedom. His soul? Whatever it was, it drove him forward, the young Rune Knight raising himself up onto his feet, his eyes lifted towards the soldier that was drawing near, his heart consumed by wrath the moment he would lay eyes on the Pergrandean. Only now that Shen had the capacity to think clearly, the guilt he had felt digging deep into his mind, his face twisting in the agonizing realization that he had not only missed the chance to prevent the deaths of his only two friends, but that he had also accepted defeat and intended to forego any responsibility by willingly surrendering his life. It was his fault that they had died. If he had acted sooner, then this wouldn't have happened, but ... if Shen was guilty, if he could blame himself for this pain that felt as if his chest was torn open whenever he took a breath, then they were, too. The soldier was one of the people responsible for this. He was one of them. Pergrande had taken everything from him, and unless he struck them down, they would continue to do so. They were beasts in human form, all of them, without mercy, without morals. Pergrande was to blame for all of this.

    He took a deep, drawn-out breath. Pergrande. It was all Pergrande.

    "-and live, Shen Kadokawa"

    They were dead because of Pergrande.

    Pergrande was responsible for this.

    Pergrande would fall.


    -----


    Shen could feel the determination mingle with his hatred inside his being, magic coursing through his veins like it had never before. It was as if he had been awoken from a hazy fever dream and could see clearly for the first time in a long while. It was not only his surroundings that he saw, the flow of cosmic energy unfolding before him. He could clearly sense it, feel it, and if he could feel it, that meant that he could use it.

    No, he wouldn't, he couldn't die here. Their deaths would be in vain if he did, and he couldn't allow that.

    The Pergrandean soldier was almost before him, raising his sword with an anticipating grin as he muttered something to himself. "Вы хотите умереть стоя? Отлично!", both his voice and tone cold like the piece of steel he was raising to kill Shen. He had expected no less. Still, Shen felt no fear. In fact, there was nothing within, no feeling of anxiety, no feeling of hope or confidence. The only thing he felt was a sorrow deep as an ocean, and a blazing flame of furious anger. If that was how it was, then he would gladly make use of the latter.

    Raising his head, Shen's wide-open, unblinking eyes found those of the Pergrandean soldier, the man's ice-blue oculars meeting his hatred-laden gaze, filling him with a sensation he had never felt before. The red hue in his irises vanished, giving way to an intense, glowing gold. This would be the beginning of the real battle.

    Bursting forward in a charge of incredible speed, the soldier closed the distance between the two so fast that any normal human wouldn't have been able to follow the movements, the sword raised and swung with such power that Shen knew if it had hit him it likely would've separated his head from his shoulders. The Rune Knight, however, was faster than the soldier, much, much faster than even the insanely fast speed of the Pergrandean's movements. Ducking underneath the wide swing, which was performed with such confidence that the foe hadn't thought of assuming a defensive stance, Shen moved with such swiftness that the soldier was outmaneuvered entirely. To Shen, who now seemed able to utilize his magical abilities without the thing that had held him back the most, restraint, the man appeared rather sluggish, and so he would spin, concentrating magical energy within his leg as he swung it upward in a wide kick, the limb briefly flickering with a trail of burning sparks before striking the man in the chest. Shen felt some resistance as if the man's armor was attempting to push him away, but it bent and finally shattered under the tremendous impact. Jets of raging flame would erupt as the extremity met the attacker, extreme heat collapsing the air around the two, causing an eruption that shook the ground and sent the man flying, his broken form skidding across the frozen ground before his mangled body finally came to a halt some distance away.

    Shen didn't need to check to know that the Pergrandean had died instantly, his internal organs torn to shreds as his torso was pushed in by the enormous force of the attack.

    That, however, was merely the beginning. There was a much larger group a small distance away from him near a cliffside. He could sense them and the cosmic energy that flowed around them, see them, even through the snow, his sight offering him a surprisingly good vision. Had he always been able to see like this? No, but he still had time to think about that later.



    Word Count:
    Word Count Total: 4,016 / 4,000 (Word Count Fulfilled)

    Enemies:

    Imperial Army Recruit: 6 / 6
    Imperial Army Officer: 10 / 10
    Imperial Guard: 0 / 1
    Imperial Paladin - Private: 2 / 2

    Action Log:

    Stats:

    Active Spells and Abilities:



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      Current date/time is 20th February 2024, 2:49 pm