The City of Dusk: Chapter I
Pristontale: The City of Dusk
Chapter I - Destiny's Tide
It was as if she had entered a whole other world. The walls around the deep square seemed to block all sounds of the battle, and Melocrie's heart pounded as she breathed heavily. A strange atmosphere hang around her, like something was trying to lift her into the air.The walls around her were high, in a slightly different style than Navisko itself. In the middle of the square lay a low, round platform, decorated with strange marks. A red carpet run from it to the other side, and led to a great statue. Melocrie slowly walked forth for a better look. It seemed to be some kind of warrior.
Searching around her for the entrance, she noticed the Bellatra had a lot of doors. But they were all barred, save for one. That had to be the one.
Swallowing to clear her throat, Melocrie tensed her muscles and continued to walk. The Titan and Iyagi were both on the battlefield, gone from here, and yet she feared to meet them. It was their energy, still lingering about, that gave Melocrie the chills.
The great doors raised above her like a tower, in the color of bronze, sinister in the moonlight. Melocrie raised her hands to the doorknops, but then quickly dropped them. What was she doing? She was one small person and about to enter the Bellatra. No. She shook her head. She had already decided it.
Melocrie grabbed hold of the huge doorknops and breathed heavily. She was so scared, and yet faithful. For when she would open these doors, she would find her father, maybe even Kayleigh too, and Priston would be saved. With these thoughts, she gave everything she had and pushed with all her strength. For a moment the doors wouldn't budge, but then shewas startled as they suddenly opened. It was a lot easier than she thought it would be, and they flew open slowly as if they stood in thin air.
Their cracking noise made Melocrie turn around in fear, but then knew that it couldn't be heard all the way in the battle. Rubbing her arms for encouragement, she turned back to the Bellatra and froze. Images flashed in her mind. The Titan, more monsters, a dark laughter and she waited for some large claw to torn her to pieces.
But no such thing came. For there was nothing, only darkness. Melocrie stared into a dark oblivion, right in front of her. No light whatsoever, so sound, and no monsterous claw.
Heaving a great sigh, she sank to her knees and reached out her hand. The floor in the darkness was even colder than ice. Quickly she withdrew her hand and rubbed it, standing up straight. All or nothing, now or never.
She stepped forward, taking her time. The ground was solid and when both feet had passed the doors into the darkness, Melocrie froze again. She was completely swallowed by it and panic raised up in her chest. She turned around and smiled at the moonlight behind her. It was just a building, she said to herself. No portal to an other world of darkness.
Dylane slew a monster before him, carefully looking at its eyes. No human eyes, so no human on the inside. The make this selection so hastily was hard, and he feared he had already slain some villagers. Tyrank stood behind him, glancing at the Figon as he fought.
"His energy is running out," he called over his shoulder to Dylane. "It's the end of him."
"Poor creature," answered Dylane. "At least he gave us all enough time, and spared us our doom."
Tyrank shrugged as he slew down another Koltan. "Did you notice Yiro's fighting too?"
Dylane glanced over his shoulder and drew a disgusted face. "When this battle end, Yiro's all Roldin's."
"I agree," laughed Tyrank.
They were trying their best to keep their faith high. They decided, that if the Figon had disappeared, Tyrank would go to the Bellatra in hope against hope. The Figon's fire was already going out and it wouldn't be long now.
Urani had been broken, and Dylane feared for him. Yet the mage continued his fight and tried not to give in.
A sudden roar made the ground tremble and the air turned red for only a few seconds. It was the end of the Figon. The creature cried out and cast himself onto the Titan for one last attack, as it burst into a thousand little fires. The Titan roared out in pain and stumbled, the people fighting underneath him startled. They quickly gathered their wits and started to flee, calling out to others, as the Titan fell down and hit the floor with a great bang. Tiles and stone walls suddenly broke when as earthquake was greating, as the giant creature tried to get back up again. Fighters immidiately started to attack him again, but the Titan was not at all defeated. He knocked back everyone who came near and raised back to his feet, thundering his roar of anger.
A little panicked, Dylane searched the battlefield for his friends, just to be sure they were alright. Debhora was still fighting the Koltans with the other Atlanta's, and Urani remained alongside the other mages. Tyrank in the meanwhile had gone further in, and was now fighting many monsters and Koltans at the time. Dylane wanted to come and help him, but he noticed they were missing someone. After thinking and searching for a few seconds, just to be sure, he quickly joined Tyrank's side again.
"Where's Melocrie?" he shouted.
Tyrank looked up and his face turned pale, as they both became to search around desperately. She was nowhere to be found. Then Dylane's eyes fixed upon the great stairway on the other side and gasped. Shaking his head unbelieving, and grabbed a tighter hold of his sword and set off. He understood all to well what Melocrie had gone off to do. Tyrank cried after him, but his words were only a vague sound among all others.
More steps, slowly but surely. The darkness was overwhelming, and Melocrie kept whispering words to herself in order not to lose it. She went further into the darkness and dared not to look back, afraid that the light behind her had suddenly disappeared. A sudden, low object stopped her foot from stepping forward, and she almost fell down. After breathing to recover from the shock, Melocrie sank down on her knees and spread her hand forward. It was some sort of platform, not to so terribly high. Melocrie stood up again and kept encouraging herself, as she raised her feet and stepped onto the platform. She couldn't see anything, nothing around her. Then she lifted her other feet and climbed up, waiting for something terrible to happen. After a few seconds, when it didn't, she heaved a great sigh of relieve.
But on that very moment a sudden sound in the distance made her jump and thousands of torches burst into flame around the hall. All along the walls they hang, and their flikkering fire lit the darkness of the Bellatra, as some sort of strange warning. Melocrie thought she was done for. It was heart that seemed to have frozen this time. The Titan would surely know and come for her. Shaking her head to get rid of the thought, she waited with her eyes closed for the sound of bursting flame to end. It happened after several minutes, and when she opened her eyes to scan her area, Melocrie gasped, for before her she could now see hunderds of stone statues, of warriors. Some had still their weapons raised high, or were about to run. Faces of anger, fear and despair stared coldly into nowhere. Melocrie's mouth fell wide open as she couldn't believe what she was seeing. Her eyes glided over the many faces, and noticed that Kayleigh was there too, with a stone Fylla on her shoulder.
Melocrie quickly slapped her hands over her mouth and waited in the silence. When she had recovered herself, she shook her head, unbelieving. No, not Fylla too! So the Titan had got her as well. Probably right after she took down Iyagi. And Kayleigh, poor, brave Kayleigh was there too. Snatched from the ground as she tried to heal Tyrank, and there was nothing they could do. The thought alone made her angry and she clenched her fists.
But then her father popped into her mind and she began to scan all the statues in search of him, softly whispering the names of the ones she knew as she saw them. But then could see her father among them, as if just turning around to catch a glimpse of his enemy. Finally she had found him. But he was in stone. She wanted to run to him, embrace him, but he would never embrace her back. Melocrie wanted to cry out, but knew it was no use, and neither was crying. She rubbed her eyes with her sleeve and closed her eyes for a moment to fight the tears. When she opened them again, she sighed and continued to look around.
Only then her eyes fixed upon the pedestal before her, which she hadn't noticed before. On top of it stood a great hourglass, the sand inside running down slowly. It was made from golden material, though the sand was as red as blood. Words were carved within the edges, and Melocrie bend closer to read. After running through them a few times, she spoke them out loud so she could hear it clearly herself:
"Imprisoned trespassers thou seest before thee,
cursed by the Hourglass of Destiny.
If not turned within a hundred times three years,
Cries will sound of a thousand fears
and never again Dawn they shall see."
Melocrie swallowed, took a moment, and then continued:
"Thou art able to turn Destiny's Tide.
The Curse shall be broken as if it was lied.
Instead thou wilst live this cursed life;
Thy life for all these caught in strife,
with forever Darkness by thy side."
Melocrie read it a couple of more times to realise their meaning. And when she did, it all seemed to make perfect sense. The only way for her father, Kayleigh, Fylla and the other to be freed, was for someone else to give his life instead. She wanted them to be free, but if she would indeed turn the tide, she herself would be imprisoned in stone. A dilemma raised before her, but Melocrie's choice was easily made. Tyrank's voice once more sounded in her head, though the words were different: "You must find your own strength". She knew that the time had come, the time of her strength. All the clashing and rattling behind her seemed to have died away completely, even from her mind. Now it was her mother that she could hear: "I don't want to lose you too". Melocrie was sorry, but not too much. At least her father would return. Her decision was solid. After all, if this great army before her would not fight, Priston would surely die. They were doomed, they stood no chance, and this was the only way.
Images of the Figon, of mother, of her friends flashed through her head, as Melocrie stretched out her hand grabbed the hourglass in the middle. She swallowed and sighed, when she gazed over the hunderds of statues before her. Behind her something in the darkness moved. Melocrie lifted the hourglass from the pedestal.
She didn't know who was calling her, but it was too late. The hourglass had been turned and Melocrie put it down on it's place.
Dylane quickly turned as he was attacked from behind, slew his enemy, and ran inside. A white light suddenly shot from the pedestal, right when the hourglass hit the stone, and for bearly a second, it seemed to cover all of Priston land. Dylane halted and covered his eyes as he breathed heavily.
A warm wind breezed through the hall, over the red carpet, up the stairs, to embrace the battle below. Tyrank looked up in shock and his heart stopped. What just happened? Yiro felt it too and stayed his hand, as he gazed at the stairway, his eyes growing wide. Tyrank had no more time to think it over and he could only just avoid a large fist, swinging past his head.
Dylane's heart burned and his mind was thoughtless, but it ended as he opened his eyes. For Melocrie was gone, and instead stood a small statue, cold to the bone. A statue of a little girl. Dylane gasped and ran to her.
"No!" he screamed out. "No! Melocrie, what have you done....?"
The pain was almost unbearably. Why? Why did she do that? What happened to make her do it? Then his eyes went over the hourglass and he noticed the carved words. As he read them slowly, his eyes became big. He looked up slowly and jumped. An army, a great army of stone statues strechted out before him, all the way to the other side of the hall, further into the darkness. Warriors they were, brave warriors who left their homes in search of an answer. Dylane knew many of them and he pittied the many faces, for the last thing they might have seen, was the terrible face of the Titan. The last thing they had heard, would be Yiro's laughter, like a knife stabbing their hearts. And there he could see her, Kayleigh, with Fylla on her shoulder.
"Kayleigh!" He ran to her and embraced the cold stone.
But it wasn't cold. Dylane stepped back as suddenly the stone began to melt away. There he could see a cheek, another one, a hand appearing. It happend to all the statues. Fylla was the first to be completely freed. She spread her wings, looked around her, and cried when she noticed her mistress in stone. The kestrel flew to her, landed on her head and sadly pecked it sadly. Moans echoed through the hall, as one by one the warriors fell to floor until their strength returned. Dylane embraced Kayleigh again, and this time she embraced him back. She looked a little puzzled.
"Oh Kayleigh!" Dylane cried out. "I thought... We thought..."
"We're free..." the priestess answered, still a little weak. "How, Dylane?"
Dylane said nothing, but only stared at Melocrie. Kayleigh gasped and ran to her.
"By the Gods!" she cried. "Dylane, what happened?"
"She saved you... No, she saved us!" he then yelled to the entire hall. "Melocrie saved us all! She freed you all, by the mere sacrifice of her own soul."
Among the freed warriors, there were questions, gasps, shouts of surprise and confusion. But then one came forth as he ran to his daughter.
"Melocrie!" father screamed as he kneld down at her stone feet. "My dear girl... Did you really?"
Dylane understood who the man was and went to comfort him. He still had to recover from the quick turn of events and decided he had no time to take.
"She did," he said and swallowed to restrain himself. "For Priston's sake, she did."
Father stood up and looked sternly at Dylane. "My name is Leroy," he said. "And this is my daughter."
"We're so sorry," Kayleigh sobbed. "We did not see this coming."
"Really?" Dylane joined them at Melocrie's side. "You really didn't?" He turned to Leroy. "You're daughter has been determined to save you from the very moment the rescue party was elected. And even more when we set off from Ricarten. We should have known it would lead to this." Dylane now looked to the floor, and maybe for the first time ever, he felt that he had failed something. "I tried to stop her, but it was too late."
"Young man," said Leroy and firmly grabbed Dylane's shoulder. "Do not cast down your eyes. My daughter is a rational little girl, but I know this decision has come from her heart. And it's not too late yet. We all live." For a moment he thought deeply and sighed. "I have dreamed of her, as you guided her here to Navisko." Then he watched the many warriors, who had come closer for a look at their rescuer. "My daughter has freed us!" he roared tot them. "Will we let her sacrifice be in vain?"
"No!" roared the crowd, and the ground seemed to shiver from the echoes.
"Then we will save Priston!"
The crowd roared loudly and even Fylla joined them. Leroy smiled up at the kestrel as it soared above their heads.
"Now or never!" the crowd roared.
"Are you with me?" Leroy asked Dylane.
Dylane looked up and smiled in agreement, as he looked deeply into Melocrie's father's eyes. He then drew his sword and raised it, and the hundreds of warriors behind him followed his example. Now the sound of metal filled the hall, and Leroy and Dylane looked at each other faithfully, before marched off through the great doors of the Bellatra.
"Tyrank! Look out!"
Cage pushed Tyrank aside and the Titan's fist hit the sand between them.
"I can't keep this up," Tyrank heaved and tried to stand up straight.
"We must!" Cage helped him to his feet. "Though we could use Dylane for this."
In the meantime, Urani's magic was weakening and the shield he had raised for defense was growing thinner. Roldin was covering his back and Debhora threw her shield at some Minigues to throw them off guard. The remainers of the Lunan Guild were fighting the Koltans, with still Yiro in command. He roared his army forward with a grin of victory, as he watched Lunan's warriors being slaughtered. Seeing this, Roldin couldn't keep himself focused. He raised his shield just in time to block an attack from a Bargon, but was thrown hard to the floor. His shield splintered and he got up, but to be knocked back onto the stone by a Ghoul. Urani quickly covered him with the shield and tried to raise his power.
"Are you alright?" he asked firmly, while troubling to keep his staff high.
"I think so," Roldin moaned and stood up.
"Where, by the Gods, is Dylane!?" Debhora yelled. "He'd better not been killed!"
"I don't think he'd go down so easily," said Urani.
"Easy?" Debhora smirked weakily. "You call this easy?"
More screams from the Lunen Guild ahead made Roldin turn. He slew one last Minigue in front of him, after looking closely at its eyes to be sure, and left his position. Urani screamed after him, but the Pike did not turn. He ran to help his people fight the Koltans. Yiro enjoyed it.
Urani's shield was broken and he stumbled backwards. He had to block an attack from a Mephit with his staff, but when a Minigue advanced, Debhora had to save him.
"I..." Urani heaved painfullly, "I wished Kayleigh was here..."
Debhora nodded as she gave him a potion for strength. "Me too."
Suddenly Fylla's cry sounded over the battle, as if far in the distance. The party looked up to the sky, but they saw nothing. Just as they all thought they had imagined it, the cry was there again, and this time closer. Then they all saw it. Fylla appeared from over the gates of Bellatra and cried out to the rising sun, while soaring high over their heads.
"It can't be..." Tyrank muttered.
Urani and Debhora stared with open mouths at the top of the stairway, as two figures appeared there in the light of the dawn. It was Dylane, with Kayleigh by his side.
"Need some help?" Dylane screamed down to his friends.
Kayleigh noticed her brother in the battle. She winked and raised her thumb. The battle had seized completely: even the Titan and the Koltan had stopped fighting. Yiro's face was disgusted, and understand how the priestess and the kestrel had returned.
"Falcorra girl..." he growled, but then it turned into a smile.
The party could not believe their eyes, but Urani was more than happy to see his sister alive and well. But to Dylane's question before, Tyrank finally answered.
"We could use some help!" he yelled to them. "You joker!"
Dylane roared a laughter, and it was followed by one of Fylla's loudest cries, and the first warm beams of the sun. He turned to something at the other side of the stairs. Then he roared, took Kayleigh by the hand and descended the stairs with laughter. By the Koltans' horror and the party's relieve, they were followed by hunderds of screaming men and women, all holding their weapons high. They stormed down like a raging waterfall, and for a moment the Koltans seemed to be paralyzed.
"Destroy them!" Yiro then roared, as the army advanced on him. "No statues for the Bellatra! Kill them all!"
But for the first time ever, it seemed hopeless for the Koltans. Bathing in the fresh sunlight, the army washed the Koltans away, with Dylane and Leroy in the lead. Battlecries seemed to be softer than before, as victory seemed near. It was like a dream come true: Melocrie's dream. Tyrank and Cage were saved from the Titan by six strong men with mixed weapons, who overcame the beast all together. Kayleigh joined her brother Urani and together they fixed the magic shield, and made it even greater than before. Kayleigh's healing fearies passed every ally caught in battle and made all of their powers return. Debhora was joined by four more Atlanta's and Roldin's death was prevented by a wave of warriors who crushed the Bargon before him. It was as if the city was clenched from all poison. Yiro watched his men being slain as he drew his own scythe and ran into the incoming army. He blew his horn and six Bargons joined his side, their eyes glancing purple.
Dylane turned and saw them coming right at them.
"Leave them to me!" he shouted at Leroy.
Leroy left his side to help Tyrank and Dylane advanced further. Roldin looked up ahead and saw him running toward Yiro. Slaying his final Koltan away from a Fighter, he set off to follow Dylane, who ran into the Bargons and positioned his sword at his side once more. Gathering the energy, Dylane thought of Melocrie and everything she had done for them. Even though her youth, she had believed in him, in all of them, like they had believed in her. This he kept tight in his head, as he laid his soul into his blade. Roldin caught up with his and raising his scythe, they both jumped when they reached the Bargons, and with a roar louder than any other on the field, Dylane swung his blade like a raging razor, followed by an explosion.
Debhora turned around and gasped when she saw it. Tyrank and Cage stayed their hands, and Urani and Kayleigh let down their final cracks of lightning. The battle was over. The smoke from the explosion cleared over time, and there stood Dylane, with the six Bargons lying on the floor. Next to him stood Roldin, without movement and he had his bladeforward. As the smoke slowly disappeared, Yiro stepped back from his stab. While Roldin stepped back as well, and lowered his scythe, Yiro grabbed the wound in his stomach, but had no time to think it over, and fell down into the dust.
The survivors of the Koltan Clan backed away and were drawn into the corners of the city. Navisko, the city of dusk, swum in the sunlight of a fresh dawn. Slowly, the villagers started to change back in the bright sunlight. The monsters who did not, were slain against the riscs. All around warriors were getting to their feet, as Kayleigh's faeries floated overhead. Fylla joined Leroy, who embraced the kestrel, laughing. Tyrank walked up to Dylane and praised him wearily.
"Thank you, Dylane," he said.
Dylane turned and heaved a sigh. He grabbed Tyrank's hand and shook it. Roars of victory filled the heavens and the party cheered loudly. Kayleigh took Debhora by the hands and they danced in circles, as Urani firmly embraced Roldin and thanked him. Cage joined them in their cries of victory. But the more time passed, the gloomier it seemed to get. Debhora and Urani looked all around them, just as Tyrank and Roldin. But Melocrie was nowhere to be found. Kayleigh tried not to cast down her eyes, by Leroy's words from before, but she could not help shedding a tear. Through the celebration of the many warriors and their cheering, the party froze with the horrifying thought. When they joined together, Dylane and Kayleigh said nothing, but guided them to the Bellatra on the other side of the stairs, with Fylla in the lead.
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