The City of Dusk: Chapter G
Pristontale: The City of Dusk
Chapter G - No other Choice
Melocrie glanced over her shoulder. No one. Then she looked around the corner of the grocery store. No one. No Koltan, no villager was near. Some were standing over at the blacksmith, but that was all the way on the other side of the square, past the Warpgate. Melocrie heaved a sigh and quickly climbed through the hole out of the city. There she continued on hands and feet, crawling further until she was about a hundred meters away from the walls. After waiting for several minutes, she kneld and drew an arrow, then shot it into the sky. For a few moments she waited, but there was no response. A few more times she tried, and she laughed out loud when it was answered by a birdcry.
Fylla soared around in cirkels, high above her head, and finally touched back down to the ground. She chipped happily, flapping her wings. Melocrie shushed her and hugged her tightly.
"Thank the Gods you are alright," she whispered. "How are the Lunans doing?" Fylla chipped again and Melocrie smiled. "I have something to show you."
She reached out for her bag and carefully took out the crystal. The fire that burned inside gave Fylla a fright and the bird lifted into the sky. Melocrie waited for her to return and rubbed the crystal.
"You know him, don't you?" she asked.
It was as if Fylla nodded and she carefully flicked the ball with her beak.
"He's going to fight on our side." Melocrie put the crystal back safely and stroke the kestrel's feathers. "Fylla, I have a task for you."
The kestrel seemed to listen closely, as Melocrie told her to gather up the Lunans and bring them to this very same spot.
"Try to bring them here in less than a day."
Fylla cried out softly and pecked the air.
"You must be careful. Mind Iyagi now, and make the Lunans go around as quietly as they can. Guard are standing just around the corner."
The kestrel cried out again and eventually was released into the air. Melocrie watched her fly away into the distance, disappearing into the fog of the morning.
"Tell me again," muttered Dylane, as he and Tyrank scurried through the small streets of Navisko. "What exactly are we doing?"
"We're to find the location of the Bellatra," whispered Tyrank somewhat annoyed. "Scared?"
"Me?" Dylane shrugged. "Never."
It was still early in the morning, yet close to the afternoon. More and more villagers came out of their houses to do their daily jobs, and two warriors would really draw attention among them. The people were all dressed in poor clothing, and walked every step with downcast eyes. The Koltans were giving orders everywhere to everyone, and yelled at people who didn't work fast or well enough. Dylane found it hard to just stand and watch those poor people being bossed around, but knew it wasn't the time and place to do something rash. Tyrank gave him many looks of warning, before he finally hurried forward again.
After a while they stopped and kneld down at the foot of a low wall. Glancing over it, Dylane could now see the entire square from a distance. It was surrounded by small buildings and stores, with old and ruined statues among them. In the middle stood the Warpgate, which still seemed to be in a good condition on the outside. For a moment he again watched the villagers working their fingers bloodly, before his eyes suddenly fixed onto something else. As he stared, Tyrank followed his gaze and gasped quietly.
"That's it," he muttered. "That's the way to the Bellatra."
It was a huge stairway, on the other side of the square, next to the blacksmith. On top stood two pillars, supporting some kind of roof, a little ruined and very old. On the other side it seemed to go down again, for Dylane couldn't see what was beyond it. But that was the place where they had seen Iyagi lifting into the air last night, and it's were the Titan's roar had come from. It had appeared on top of the stairs, scanning the city like a god of rage. Dylane startled when he could see the images clearly in his head again and sank back down to the floor.
"How you want to get there?" he asked Tyrank, breathing. "With both the Titan and Iyagi guarding the place?"
"We'll either have to lure them out or not being seen," answered Tyrank.
"And why?" Dylane swallowed and sighed. "Why do we have to go there?"
Tyrank looked down on him and sank back as well, as he lay his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Calm yourself, Dylane," he said. "You're losing control."
Dylane took a moment and then did what he was told.
"Like you said before," continued Tyrank, "they are guarding something. And I really - really - want to know what."
Dylane nodded. "I understand, Tyrank. It's just... I'm-"
"Scared?" Tyrank shrugged and glanced over the wall again. "I am too."
"Really?" Dylane said surprised. "You? Afraid?"
"What'd you expect?" Tyrank sighed. "Everyone's afraid at his time. But that's the only moment on which you can be brave."
"I guess so," said Dylane and looked up at the man, who he had always admired. If Tyrank was afraid, then it was serious. "Together, right?"
Tyrank looked back down. Those were the exact same words Roldin had said to him, in the days when they were best friends. How did Dylane know? Tyrank smiled. Dylane always knew everything about everyone. "Together," he said and nodded.
Roldin watched the villagers working from the window, and spotted the top of an axe rising from behind a wall. He shrugged and looked away. Tyrank really had to find a better hiding.
"So," said Cage as he paced around. "We gather our troops, march through the gate and defy Yiro? Doesn't that seem too rash?"
"I don't like this plan either, Cage," said Roldin and sighed. "But this might be the only way."
"It's a stupid way," said Cage. "The Koltans will destroy us all."
"Not if we act just right," replied Debhora as she sipped from her tea. "If we can take out Yiro before night falls, then the rest will be easy."
"But what are the chances of that?" said Cage and turned to Roldin. "I'm sorry, but I really protest against this."
Roldin heaved another sigh and stood up, grabbing Cage's shoulder tightly. "If you have any other way, my friend," he said, "please tell me." When Cage didn't answer, Roldin turned away and continued. "Tyrank has made himself perfectly clear, and let me tell you, that man is no fool. Understand that riscs ought to be taken, though I don't want to lose my entire people."
"That's what I fear, see," said Cage, his voice trembling a little. "What if Yiro will slaughter everyone?"
"We will not let that happen," said Debhora surely. "You Lunans are far stronger than you give yourself credit for. Have a little faith."
"She's right, Cage!" Roldin looked him in the eyes. "It pains me to say it, really it does. But we have no other choice."
"Are you alright?"
Urani walked up to his sister, who stood by the window, downstairs in the grocery store. Fron and Keira had gone out to obey the Koltans, hopefully for the last time. Upset voices could be heard from upstairs, as Roldin and Cage loudly discussed something.
"I'm not sure..." Kayleigh muttered with downcast eyes. "It's all happening so fast and... I feel like I don't understand anything anymore."
"I know." Urani embraced his sister and rubbed her back. "I know, sis. But you must try to control all this. You must find your own strength."
"We all do, don't we?" said Kayleigh and released her brother. "And what about Melocrie?"
Urani sighed. "I don't know about that. And I don't think she knows it herself either. We can't possibly bring that up now."
"I guess you're right," said Kayleigh softly. "It just bothers me. I mean, we all thought she was something, but... I wonder who she really is."
"I do too." Urani looked out the window, to the many people outside under the Koltan's reign. "We'll find out. And when we do, this whole battle will be over at last."
"I'm scared, Urani," said Kayleigh. "But I don't want to be."
"Something that cannot be prevented, must not be denied." Urani smiled down on his sister. "One of the basic lessons of life."
Kayleigh smiled back. "Yes, I know, I've heard it so many times. I'll try and remember that."
Time was running short as the sun kept rising higher and higher. Soon it would be right above their heads in the sky, and after that it would sink away. Night would fall and the Titan would rise, meaning their destruction.
Dylane shook these thoughts from him, when they all stood outside the city, with Cage on the watch. The Lunans were gathering outside Navisko, joining them in small groups in turn. They had told that Yiro had returned from his morning patrol, and that he had now entered the city. Tyrank was constantly glancing over his shoulder at the hole in the wall. When all troops had arrived, when the sun was at its peak, Roldin gathered them all up close.
"I'm glad to see you're all in one piece," he said loudly, but quietly enough for the guards not to hear. "We will now challenge the Koltans and place Yiro under arrest."
Tyrank looked at him and found his words were far too direct, for muttering appeared among the groups, even some gasps and protests. Cage was working hard to restrain his words, though he agreed with the Lunans.
"Easy, my people!" Roldin said and waved his arms. "For many years we have only defended, but eventually it has done us no good. We are powerful, yet we don't know it. Together we can overcome Yiro."
As his speech continued about the Titan, Iyagi and the curse of the villagers, more protests came but were all silenced by Roldin. Melocrie stood by Debhora and Kayleigh, listening closely. Tyrank and Dylane would take out the guards by the gate, and Tyrank would go in to speak with Yiro. He would ask him for a fair fight, a duel, just the two of them. The outcome would decide their fates.
Plan B was that if that conversation would go ill, the army would enter the city to call upon a battle. Melocrie tried to imagine what a battle would look like, but she couldn't place the right thoughts. She would also be in it, Debhora said, as long as she wanted to. And Melocrie did, she really did. But she had to focus her mind on the first task ahead of her: warning the villagers.
"Sir Roldin..." A young Lunan boy came forth, perhaps even a little younger than Dylane. "Where is this great faith of yours coming from?"
Roldin considered his answer for a moment and glanced to the party behind him. Melocrie stood in the middle, watching them with full attention. Roldin sighed and turned back to his people. "We have a chosen one among us."
Muttering appeared again and Melocrie was a little confused. Why did he look at her before he said that? Hopefully, she looked up at Tyrank, but he didn't look back. Even Debhora's gaze was steady, but Kayleigh's smiled at her faintly. Melocrie continued to look at her, hoping for an answer, but it didn't come.
Roldin gave his people the time to fell silent and smiled. "So what say you then?"
Usually, the Lunans would roar in agreement, but the guard would surely hear. So instead, the all nodded a little bow and grins appeared on their faces. Roldin smiled along and turned to Tyrank. "We're in."
"Good." Tyrank looked around the Lunans. "You all know what to do?"
Again, the Lunans gave their little bows and Roldin turned to Melocrie. "Are you ready, girl?"
Melocrie startled for a moment and only then realised what he was talking about. "Hum..," she stuttered. "Not yet, hold on a minute."
While the Lunans were discussing their plans and visions, Melocrie found Dylane leaning against a tree, thinking.
"Hey," she said as she walked up to him.
Dylane looked up. "Hi there," he nodded. "You alright?"
"Of course!" Melocrie smiled. "Listen... I want to thank you, for the whole Figon, dream thing. And I want to give you something in return." She took off the necklace around neck and seperated the Sereneo from the string. Then she chuckled and lay the sheltom in Dylane's hand, and closed it. "I want you to have this."
Dylane opened his hand and examined the Sereneo closely. "Are you sure?" he asked.
"I am," Melocrie nodded. "It's alright. You'll probably need it more than I do."
Dylane shrugged and put the Sereneo in his pocket. "Thank you, Melocrie. Almost time, isn't it?"
"Yep!" Melocrie sighed. "It's almost lunch time for the villagers. On that moment I'll visit Keira and Fron."
"Thanks, you too."
Melocrie had waited for all other taks to be cleared out and then set off for the grocery store. Her mind was set on Tyrank and Dylane, who in the meantime would take out the guards. When she wanted to walk around the corner to the door of the store, she heard raised voices and stayed her position. While her heart was giving a pounding shock, she glanced around the corner carefully and saw two Koltans leaving from the door, toward the blacksmith. As soon as they were far away enough, Melocrie ran to the door and hurried inside, quickly closing it behind her.
"Melocrie!" Keira embraced her and Melocrie found that the woman was trembling. "Thank goodness!"
"What happened?" asked Melocrie, highly worried.
"They came to patrol our houses," said Fron, who was also shaking a bit. "They only rarely do that. Thank heavens you were outside at the time."
"Do you think they expect something?" Melocrie's thoughts went to Tyrank and Dylane again, and she shivered.
"I'm not sure." Fron swallowed. "I hope not."
Melocrie nodded and found it was about time for the plan. "Listen, I have something for you to do," she said and then began to whisper, as Fron and Keira bend over to listen carefully. "Somehow you must warn the villagers that a rescue is coming up. The Lunans are here now, and ready to defy Yiro. Tyrank's going to ask him to duel, with the outcome of your freedom, if Tyrank wins that is. But if anything goes wrong, we all may have to fight. Then you either have to flee, or fight along."
A short silence fell and Melocrie found she was breathing heavily. Quickly she recovered herself and waited for an answer.
"I see..." Keira said after a while. "Defying Yiro is very dangerous, you know."
"I know." Melocrie nodded and waited for more reactions.
"We will inform as many people as we can," said Fron. "Any strong warrior left here will be happy to fight along."
"That's great!" Melocrie smiled. "Thank you, but now I have to go, and quickly."
"Alright, go then," said Keira and embraced the girl again. "Be careful!"
"We'll pray for you," said Fron, smiling.
"And I will pray for us all," answered Melocrie, before she disappeared through the door again.
Tyrank and Dylane encouraged themselves in their minds, as they ran closely past the walls and glanced around the corner. Two guards were still standing by the gate, with banners in their hands, scanning the area.
"There they are..." whispered Tyrank.
"Say, Tyrank..." Dylane said suddenly. "Isn't it better to just rush into the city? That way the Koltans won't be on their guard."
"We have to avoid battle if we can," answered Tyrank, without looking at him. "Though the chance of that may be small."
Dylane nodded, but still didn't know if he fully agreed. But it was too late to turn back.
"You ready?" muttered Tyrank.
Dylane quietly drew his sword. "Ready."
They both snuck around the corner, as quietly as they could, and when they were close enough, they broke into a run. The guard by the gate were suddenly startled, but had no time to call out a warning. Tyrank and Dylane threw themselves onto them and covered their mouth, while dragging them back around the corner. The guard struggled heavily, but stopped immidiately as soon as they were thrown to the floor, with an army of Lunans before them. Above their heads, Roldin stood looking down on them, and then grinned.
"Bind them," he said and the Lunans obeyed.
They roughly pushed the guards against two trees and prevented them from screaming out. As they were binding them to the trunks, Dylane and Tyrank heaved sighs and laughed a bit.
"That was easy," said Dylane and preciously examined his sword.
"Yes..." muttered Tyrank. "A little too easy."
Dylane looked at him and shrugged. "Having second thoughts?"
Tyrank and shrugged back and grabbed his axe more tightly, as he turned toward the gate again. "Not a chance."
Melocrie returned from the grocery and joined the army outside again. She all relieved and glad to see that Tyrank and Dylane were safely among them, and that the guards had succesfully been taken out. She walked up to Tyrank and praised him, who smiled.
"That was the easiest part," he said and lay a large hand on her head. "Now the challenge begins."
Melocrie's smile fainted. "You're going to fight Yiro now, aren't you?"
Tyrank nodded and sighed. "I will be careful."
"Alright then," said Melocrie and nodded back, while she watched the great warrior march away.
Roldin also looked after him and somehow wished their places had been exchanged. But he understood, that if anyone could defeat Yiro, it would be Tyrank himself.
"Stay on your guards," he said to his people. "The deciding moment is near."
Melocrie watched Tyrank disappear around the corner, and suddenly she felt really lonely. She all glad that Fylla joined her on her shoulder, and pecked her cheek softly.
Tyrank stood before the gates, with his axe lowered to his side, and took a few moments. He tried to follow where his thoughts led to, but there were too many in his head. Deciding that he had only the room for one task at the time, he shook Melocrie's face away from him, and walked forth slowly. But after only a few steps, he stopped dead in his tracks and gazed ahead of him. There stood Yiro, only a few meters away from him, his arms folded and no smile on his face.
"You thought you would win so easily?" he asked darkly, through clenched teeth. "How dare you?"
"I have come to challenge you to a duel," said Tyrank with a raised voice. "With the fate of Navisko as the outcome."
"A fair duel, I assume?" Yiro shrugged. "You didn't exactly give my guards a fair one, did you?"
Tyrank didn't know what to answer. All he knew was that his plan had failed, but it wasn't lost. "It was fair," he decided to answer. "Two against two, it was."
Yiro began to laugh, and before Tyrank knew what was going on, he had been surrounded by a number of ten Koltans.
"Your plan is not the worse one," Yiro said, as the Koltans advanced, but Tyrank stood his ground. "There's something you should know, though," Yiro continued as he lowered his arms to his side, and clenched them into fists. "I never play fair."
It all went too fast. Tyrank raised his axe, but it was too late, and before he knew it, he was caught in a battle. Koltans all around him tried to attack and he didn't have the ability to defend all his sides. He was caught while the Koltans grabbed him firmly and started to beat him up.
Yiro watched it happen, still no smile on his face, as he disgusted the warrior in front of him.
Tyrank tried to struggle, but it was too much for him. Finally, he felt his strength fading and he sank to his knees, feeling the beats hitting him over and over again.
Eventually, Yiro raised his hand and the fighting stopped. Tyrank's sight was blurry and he moaned, as he tried to stood up. But then Yiro himself advanced forth and kicked him back to the floor.
"You just don't get it, do you?" he yelled angrily. "Give up, Tyrank. You cannot win."
Tyrank felt it best not to say anything, he couldn't after all. He waited for more to happen, but nothing came at him. Yiro only turned around after a while, and his people followed him.
Tyrank couldn't move as he tried to figure out what had just happened. But the aching in his chest was too much and he was unable to control his thoughts. In his mind, he saw a bird flying over him, and then disappearing from sight.
Fylla screeched out in a strange tone, while she still tried to control her volume. Melocrie looked up and tried to calm her.
"What is it, Fylla?" she asked and then started to panic a little. "Tyrank? Where is he?"
Dylane quickly turned and ran to them. "What's with Tyrank?" he asked.
"I don't know," stammered Melocrie. "Let's follow Fylla."
And they did, around the corner, to the gates. Roldin had joined them as well, while the remaining Lunans didn't understand what was happening.
And there he was, just inside the city, laying in the dust. Roldin gapsed and ran to his friend, trying to wake him.
"Tyrank! Wake up."
Melocrie's breath stopped as she raised her sight to the city, and saw that the Koltans were watching them. But they didn't move at all. In the middle of them stood he, Yiro, watching them while smirking. Dylane saw it too and suddenly drew his sword, growling. He was trembling all over and Melocrie knew he would just march into the city and attack Yiro, just like that.
"Dylane," she hissed and tucked his arm. "Don't, please?"
Dylane stared down on her and finally withdrew his sword. He growled and turned away from the Koltans, while he and Roldin lifted Tyrank around their shoulders. Melocrie didn't dare to look at the Koltans again, as their laughter followed them all the way around the corner, and back to the Lunans.
"My God!" Kayleigh gasped when she saw them approaching. "What happened?"
"My guesses are," said Dylane as he carefully lay Tyrank before her on the ground, "that Yiro knew."
"No..." Urani growled. "So what now?"
Kayleigh raised her hands above Tyrank's body to perform her healing spell, while Roldin and Dylane were puzzling out their options.
"We have to attack," said Dylane finally.
"What?" Cage was shocked. "After this?"
"Of course!" It was Roldin who said it, though he couldn't believe his own words. "We have to, of course we have to. Tyrank wasn't defeated by Yiro alone, I'm sure of that. Remember what happened to me, at our camp in the Cursed Land?" He shivered for a moment by the mere memory. "Yiro never fights himself."
"I remember," said Kayleigh, still working with her magic. "But your wounds were different from normal ones that time. My healing didn't work well."
"That's because of the weapon I was hit with," Roldin muttered. "You know, the Koltans also have magic of their own."
Suddenly, Tyrank moaned and when he opened his eyes, faces were all staring down at him. He blinked his eyes a few times and Dylane quickly helped him to sit up.
"Tyrank!" he gasped relieved. "Well done, Kayleigh."
The priestess smiled and Urani patted her on the shoulder.
"Tyrank," said Melocrie and swallowed to stop trembling. "What happened?"
"What Roldin said," moaned Tyrank. "I could hear..."
Dylane growled. "I cannot believe this," he said and then stood up. "I cannot believe this!"
After a while, when Tyrank's strength had returned, Roldin helped him to his feet. "So what now?" the Lunan asked.
Tyrank heaved a sigh and looked all round the Lunan army, until his eyes fixed on Dylane. "We fight."
On that moment, the Lunan army behind them roared out loudly, raising their weapons. Debhora and Urani joined them, along with Dylane and Kayleigh. Finally, Tyrank turned to Melocrie and looked deeply into her eyes. No words were needed, for Melocrie knew what he was thinking. After thinking herself for a moment, based on Roldin's words of before, she nodded and drew an arrow, feeling faithful.
Yiro and his Koltans were still laughing about what happened before and some were doing bad imitations of Tyrank. Suddenly the joy among them stopped, as a kestrel flew overhead, screaming out loudly. Yiro stood up, but before he could consider the moment, a horn sounded from outside the city walls and the ground began to shake slightly. The Koltans all watched the gate, as a great army marched through, with the party from Ricarten in the lead.
Melocrie walked between Dylane and Debhora, whispering courage to herself. But seeing Fylla soaring through the sky gave her all the courage she needed. The moment was at hand and the plan easy: take out Yiro and the Koltans would be powerless. With powerless Koltans, they would take out the Titan and Iyagi, and find their answers at the Bellatra.
With these thoughts as their fuel, the army marched forward and only stopped a few meters away from the Koltan army, which was now gathering in front of them.
"So..." said Yiro, as he watched Tyrank and Roldin glancing at him. "Lessons never learned?"
"You can say that again!"
Not only Yiro, but the Lunans turned as well, as a good hundred villagers joined them to fights. They all stood beside the Lunan army, smirking at the Koltans.
Then a silence fell, and Melocrie felt really uncomfortable. Then Yiro began to smile, and again it broke into a wild laughter.
"A good idea, you thought?" he yelled. "Well, so be it! My Titan will destroy you."
"And daylight will destroy him," said Tyrank, as he remained steady.
Yiro's laughted faded, but his smiled remained. "Then..." he said, "I will just have to make night fall."
Without time to consider those words, Melocrie watched how Yiro spread his arms, and the sky suddenly went darker. The Lunans gasped as they all watched the sun sinking into the sky, unnaturally fast. A star appeared on the sky, another one and another one.
What was happening? How was it happening?
No time! A scream at his side made Dylane jump, as a villager beside him sank onto his knees, grabbing his stomach. Dylane wa horrified by the very sight, when the man shrunk down and his clothing were ripped. Finally, a small, green creature stood in his places, with razor sharp teeth and screeching out loudly.
More monsters appeared all around them and Melocrie felt frozen. This is what they had feared: the night. How? Yiro changed the day into night, to his own advantange. Tyrank couldn't believe he had not seen this coming.
"You actually thought this plan was a good idea?" Yiro yelled above all other screaming, of villagers changing into monsters. "Then what do you think of this?"
He gave a sign to a Koltans beside him, who blew his horn. The echo was overwelming and Melocrie was nailed to the floor. They were lost. A giant bird screamed as they all had to cover their ears, and Iyagi lifted into the air from behind the great stairway, flapping her wings in the moonlight.
Now other monsters were appeared, out of nowhere. They materialised from the dark, their eyes like demon's.
"Listen!" Roldin cried out suddenly.
A soft drum sounded in the distance, followed by a sudden 'bang' and the ground began to shake. The party watched the stairway behind them, and Roldin felt as if he was sinking into the ground. For he knew that roar that sounded, he had always feared it in his dreams. Melocrie had too, and she shivered when she could see the gray ceature in her head, very clearly, with Yiro's laughter galling through.
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