It was a silly thing, but she preferred being called ‘Dioname’. Her full name was Dionamella, but she wanted the last three letters left off.
Dee-oh-nah-mei. That was how you’d say it. As opposed to dee-oh-nah-mell-ah.
Did this matter?…No. Not at all.
But it made her feel rather in-tune with the modern parlances of the day. A bit like she was keeping up with the times. That was important. For the Great General of the Ages had mastered time to an extent that few had ever reached, in this era or any other.
However, she could still not prevent her own end.
She was not immortal.
The half-Elf felt it in her bones. Her death, her likely death, would not be by sword or spell. It might be, but what would always catch her was…time.
Her age fueled her power. A sacrifice, and one she willingly made. Everything had a price, and the ability to move an army faster than they should—not just physically, but stealing seconds away from the world?
That it only demanded her time—and a half-Elf’s time at that—was not just unfair, but cheating. She raised a hand on the first day and spoke.
“Advance, soldiers of Ailendamus. Show this Dawn Concordat why we bear Ailendamus’ will.”
Even her voice and inflection were old. Hence her wanting a different name. The modern [Generals], she had learned once Rhisveri summoned her, were very quick. She had studied Niers Astoragon, who had not existed when she had made her name.
“Forwards the left! [Snipe Charge]—”
And so on. Efficient, but not very graceful. She wondered if it would change how Skills developed. Skills, classes reflected the modern world. Why, there was a time when Skills were nigh on paragraphs of words.
She watched as Ailendamus’ [Soldiers] met the Dawn Concordat. And she twisted the world, just a second. But one second…
For a thousand soldiers.
The front rank of Ailendamus’ charging swords was poised to meet a line of spears. A bad matchup—the spears would hit first, even as the experienced swordbearers angled their blades for a quick thrust to the helm. Of course, individual skill and lives…
Each one of those [Soldiers] had their hopes and dreams. They had names she might never learn.
Dioname could not account for that. However, she could give them one thing. Just…one second.
One second, in the heat of battle, to charge another step. To swing. The entire wave of soldiers blurred, and one second?
It only took that long to bury a blade in a throat. To dodge an incoming jab. To erase hundreds of lives.
One second across one thousand souls.
1000 seconds, then. Spent. She felt it, a change in herself. Not immediate aging, but a loss.
1000 seconds equated to 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Not bad. Or it would have been, if that were all she spent.
Even a Human would have considered that a fine expenditure of time to do that kind of damage.
If it were only seventeen minutes. Alas, Dioname could not trade time that equally. But she counted.
It was an obsession. Few people could know the time they spent. So as she gave orders, the tally still added to itself.
“Archers, fire once and again, there and there!”
Three hundred and twenty archers needed four seconds to speed up their volley. Add into it a [Relentless Reloading] Skill and an [Instantaneous Reload] among her officers.
Three volleys of arrows in quick succession.
320 multiplied 4 times is 1280 seconds. 21 minutes, 20 seconds.
It might be a year. She suspected less, but it was weeks or months, not minutes. How long did half-Elves live? She was barely over a century—but her biological age, the true chronological time she had paid for, was well over a thousand years.
However, the Great General of Ages still fought. She could have not. She could have refused Rhisveri when he asked her to make an example of the Dawn Concordat—and perhaps even the Wyrm of Ailendamus would have acceded for the deeds she had done, the wars she had paid for.
Yes, she, a mortal, knew the secret of Ailendamus. She knew them all, and if there was any one mortal the immortals respected—perhaps it was her.
Perhaps, because she wasn’t sure. However, it was true that Rhisveri had personally taught her the magic she used. That Visophecin, Fithea, had given her their knowledge, the Agelum taught her self-defense.
They were still greater. A Wyrm in his full fury or Visophecin, first among House Shoel? They could slay her. However—she was not a single being. She had Skills. And she was a [General].
Alone, she might well be the third-most powerful being in Ailendamus behind those two. With an army at her back…only Rhisveri. And even the two of them would not guess on that outcome.
When the Dawn Concordat came against her, then. When the Archmage of Memory, this new lad, and House Veltras, the Griffin Prince, and Lightherald joined forces—well. The half-Elf was put-upon. Dioname felt that so many boys teaming up to kill her was slightly biased.
But Rhisveri sent her no backup. The Wyrm had faith in one mortal alone. That was his Great General, whom he had created.
Dioname, [Timekeeper General, Wyrmsworn Champion].
There was a time when classes used to have commas.
On the first day, she took the scope of her enemies. The Archmage of Memory descended from the heavens with magic and thunder, like some kind of storied [Archmage] of old. He had bested the young Lucifen, and the immortals of Ailendamus feared to fight him directly, lest he reveal all.
Lord Veltras and the Five Families galloped into the fray, banners shining, and an ancient Golem rained death down as the banner of House Veltras shone. A [Lord] who flew like an arrow, straight and true, the fastest man on the battlefield atop his steed, lance in hand.
Then came the Lightherald, shining, proclaiming the glories of Calanfer as he led the Dawn Concordat against Ailendamus, nearly equal in number—and in his aegis of light, fearless and resolute to their end.
Lastly, the Griffin Prince, the cursed child who darted into certain death, sacrificing body and limb without fear, woven and constantly remade by the Stitch Witch’s curse.
Dioname looked at them all and thought—now there would be a true foe.
The Stitch Witch, the immortal spider whom even Rhisveri could not match for age, or Fithea. Though the Dryad had met her when the Stitch Witch walked her forests.
She would be a foe to which Dioname would ask every aid, use every Skill, and struggle with. A foe to count your levels against—yet fight because the victor would be the stronger in level. To kill Belavierr forever would be a battle Dioname was not certain she could win.
These four—like Rabbiteater, she counted four threats—
These four were not fully her match.
Oh, they each had something. She watched Tyrion Veltras dodge her first greeting, the spell missing him with contemptible ease. His own aura meant that she could not slow him directly—just speed up the rest of the world. Perhaps if they were close enough to hear each other’s voices spoken, she could influence him.
He was too quick. He slew an officer, riding through the battle, lance ramming home through a breastplate before she could reposition.
A seasoned warrior. The Griffin Prince was truly immortal; she tried to sever the Stitch Witch’s bindings, but again, could not unless she was up close. She was no expert in whatever curse or hex had been woven; her time-sped soldiers impaled his companions, and he fled, but survived even [Disintegration].
The Lightherald’s armor took her spells too, and the brave champion of Calanfer was better than the Thronebearers who fell to their counterparts in her army. Dioname would have tackled any threat alone in that first hour, but together, all three were thorns. But yes—thorns she could pluck and crush in the first battle.
Save for him…she looked up and saw a half-Elf with burning wings pointing down at her. Dioname threw up her hands.
“[Spell-Aegis of the Wyrm Queen]!”
“[Pillar of Flame, Unbounded].”
Her spell covered her position, and the searing blast of fire did not consume her flesh. The Great General’s return spell and her archers’ arrows criss-crossed the skies, and the Archmage of Memory retreated, cursing as his barrier-spells waned.
However, he was being linked to every [Mage] in his faction, hundreds. Worse? Far worse?
She could not stop all his spells.
Ailendamus’ [Soldiers] looked up in confusion and saw the pillar of light for just a second before it fell and turned all to ash. Dioname looked up. When she saw the magic coalescing, before the spear of ice split the earth and shook the world, she threw a hand out.
“Tarry not! Flee or die, and feet take wing!”
Ancient orders and wording—or at least, a hundred years old—but the [Soldiers] understood. They ran, and the spell, which took three seconds to unleash itself, missed them completely.
Four hundred souls given thirty-one seconds. 12,400 seconds.
Too many minutes. Too much time, but time stopped for them to move. She could have let them die, but they fell upon the Dawn Concordat, shouting her name. Dioname looked up and saw her false kin’s look of unease. She twitched a finger at him, beckoning him downwards.
He took the bait, and the Archmage of Memory descended. He had a sword-spell of Drath, [Disintegration] spells aiming for her heart, and a type of magic that mixed with alchemy, trying to ensnare her very nature.
She wondered if he’d earned his strength. Dioname faced him down and sensed no Skills. So perhaps he was like Rhisveri’s kind. In which case, he was arrogant. They always were.
“[剑圣 – 心火之刃]!”
Time slowed for Dioname, the most economical use of it. His magic was blazing so bright, she couldn’t slow him—but so what? The Archmage’s eyes went round as she cast two spells—and used a Skill befitting her level.
“[Thorns of the World Tree: Bneiisrye].”
She called upon a dead name that Fithea had bequeathed to her. Yet even in death—the greatest magic of druids and Dryads shattered his barriers. Still, he swung the sword, and she reached out.
“[Summon Armament: Lawkeeper of the Agelum].”
Both of them suffered for that. She felt the crawl of pure lightning eating away at her. He recoiled from a searing radiance that even the Lightherald winced to behold. He backed up as she pointed a finger at him.
“[Vortex Into Nowhere].”
She missed. The Archmage of Memory retreated and did not try that again.
By the end of the first day, Dioname understood her foes, and not even the Archmage of Memory was her equal.
That did not mean she underestimated them. She just saw them for who they were:
All four. But the two most dangerous, Tyrion Veltras and Eldavin, realized the same thing as they fought.
Tyrion Veltras looked at Dioname, the Great General of Ages, and realized he was facing a foe far above him in levels. A [Lord] who realized that the bar was higher, that he was not fast enough. Chasing, racing to improve. Faster.
Cursing his wasted time spent in complacency.
To Eldavin, the issue was far different. He had dodged Dioname’s magic and outmaneuvered the other fliers and attacks coming his way because he flew. Even the Griffin Riders of Kaliv were like stones falling through the air compared to his grace. Aspects of Eldavin were so refined that Dioname was convinced he had walked more battlefields than she could dream of.
Peerless flight…combined with a strange lack of understanding in other areas. Gaps in his knowledge of how to conduct a war.
To anyone else, it wasn’t obvious, but Dioname saw his uncertainty when facing someone like her. He didn’t know…how to beat her. How to use his magic most effectively. So his battle tactics? To anyone watching, and people did see it, beyond even her…
He was copying the Death of Magic. Extreme range, summoned warriors, and massive, contemptuous area-of-attack spells. He fought like Silvenia, another great foe Dioname knew might one day be hers—
Because he didn’t know how to fight himself.
Incomplete, incomplete! She might not have more high-level magics than Eldavin, and she certainly didn’t have Tyrion’s speed, but Dioname did have the surety they lacked. Still, she failed to end the battle on the first day. The Great General of Ages tried, but both sides surprised each other, taking a measure.
And she…was slightly distracted. And did not know why. The Great General of the Ages turned her head left and right, looked up the pass, at the Archmage in the sky, back towards Kaliv where the Griffin Prince harried them, past the fortress under siege…around, towards Calanfer.
Dioname frowned uneasily.
On the second day, she realized there was something else. The others were more cautious now, trying to save the Dawn Concordat as they bled lives.
The Lightherald rallied them. Dioname focused her wrath upon him, but his armor took spells meant to kill him. He battled against her champions, and all three, Griffin Prince, Tyrion, and Eldavin, took up the mantle of protecting him.
…And someone else.
Only one person would bother her, even during the lull in fighting. Rhisveri. Dioname responded as she signaled her forces. She would happily have ignored him if need be, but she needed to communicate this.
“Rhisveri. Complications. I…am sensing something off. Two matters, but one is distant. Do you feel either?”
His voice was terse. She wondered if that girl, the Wind Runner, was giving him trouble. The Wyrm did not like to be fallible, so he snapped.
“What are the two things? Why are you—off?”
He was quite familiar with how adept she was, and Dioname had lost some of her edge. That—she understood. If he didn’t sense the other thing…the half-Elf bared her teeth.
“Two guesses. Your hint? Scrying and this television.”
She heard nothing for a while, then he began cursing.
“They’re using Skills on you? Who? I’ll kill them all! Cancel all the scrying spells!”
She interrupted him.
“It won’t work. They can still scry me from afar, even if you turn off Wistram’s orbs. And now they know how…over a hundred are trying to debilitate me or the army in some way.”
“It’s worldwide. I’ll manage.”
The problem with technology was that it changed how even wars were fought. The King of Destruction, among others, had shown every [King], [Commander], and Skill-user that you could, with great effort, toss your Skill across the world and change the course of a battle. Of course, it was exceptionally difficult, and only the highest-levelled people could do it—or someone with a genuine connection to this battlefield or who was close enough.
She suspected Avel, Desonis, even Nadel, Pheislant—those were definitely nations who wanted her to lose. But perhaps even Chandrarians, Balerosians, Izrilians, and more considered that it would be best if Ailendamus lost this pivotal battle.
Over a hundred? Oh yes. But they had one huge problem: her aura. Their Skills against her or on her were far reduced by her own presence.
Still—it kept the Dawn Concordat in the battle the second day. As for the other thing, which even Rhisveri didn’t sense?
Perhaps it was her class. He had no class. In some ways, Dioname was stronger than Rhisveri simply because of her levels. She had risen close to his power in her short time alive.
Was that fair? Of course not. When they had first met, the Wyrm had told her he was going to be extremely unfair. If nothing else—this entire road and her life she had chosen? Dioname had known from the start what it would be. Rhisveri was honest about that.
“You are worthless.”
The Wyrm was, at that time, a half-Elf. He hated looking like that, and so in thirty years he would change his assumed form and begin pretending to be the [King]’s brother or other family member. He also preferred to appear older, at least middle-aged.
At the time, she had naively thought it meant he would hate her more. But the cold disdain of the man had swept over all the children he had gathered.
Over a hundred years ago, Rhisveri had addressed a group of children like this.
“You are all worthless. The children no one wants. You have no future. Each nation and city and town has no place for you. [Beggars] and [Outcasts] and [Street Urchins].”
A strange project. He had gathered them all up and placed them in this room. The half-Elf looked at the terrified half-Elf girl, as wary of him as some of the others around her. A few children were contemplating his death or looking for things to steal.
Effortlessly, he stopped a [Rogue] in mid-escape. Let the dangling child hang there in the air as he continued.
“I am giving you one chance, you worthless lot. Make something of yourselves. You will have the finest education and training; squander it and I will let you go and waste the only opportunity you have. Serve me and I will reward that. This is more than you deserve. You are worth nothing, but you have one chance.”
He looked at Dioname, passing over her and all the others. What caught her, what she saw, even back then, was the slightest catch in Rhisveri’s voice. The way he looked back at them as he spoke.
“…I was like you. Rise or fall. There is never any other option.”
Over a hundred years ago, she had begun her studies. True to his word, he’d let the children make of themselves what they wanted. Some had taken jobs as artisans; some had run off, and she never knew what became of them.
Some, like her, rose.
At first, the Wyrm left it all to teachers. Even later, when there were only a handful of the best, he didn’t reveal to them who he was.
Only two ever learned his identity, and Dioname was the one he taught time magic. She remembered the first time he realized she had surpassed everyone but him—and later the Lucifen—the look of exasperated pride he’d tried to cover.
“It seems you are the best. One gem among all the others. Which means I have to teach you. Very well. Time magic. You’re already familiar with it? It’s tricky, even for me. Time is so difficult to harness that the only way that [Mages] have found is to use tricks to use it effectively. Sacrifice and oaths. Let’s begin with the basics. I need you around, so one of the Oaths of Time will do…”
She had learned to sacrifice her own time later. He had not stopped her and even helped her refine that aspect.
Later on—it would lead to one of the most famous events in Ailendamus’ two-century history. Which was the destruction of the old palace.
This was all old history, when the Lucifen and Agelum had sought Rhisveri out to make a pact. One of the many clauses in their deal was something both families stood for, albeit for different reasons. One, moral, ethical—the other more practical.
No child soldiers. Rhisveri, the Wyrm, had agreed to it and neglected, in his arrogant way, to mention the existence of Dionamella and the others. The Wyrm had tried to argue his way out when Visophecin found out—it was already in progress, they were already children, and you only specified—
Well, that was what happened to the first palace. It had only ended when Dioname herself got involved on Rhisveri’s side.
Ever after, Rhisveri was more cautious of the Lucifen and his allies. Yet even when they asked and offered her a way out, Dioname continued. She sacrificed her time and won the respect of Ailendamus’ immortals, and they wondered why.
Why, for them? Why?
Because Rhisveri gave her what she wanted. For loyalty, for pride, and because he was right. She had always believed that, from the start.
Rise or fall. Rise or fall. You had only one chance. She wanted to see how high she could go.
By the third day, Dioname knew the true danger, and it was this: winning was something you needed to know how to do.
Winning was an art. Especially because it was so easy to fail at.
She had the upper hand, so the Great General of the Ages realized that the danger would come when she was most overconfident. She could not lose focus. She had seen it before; it was when the opponent’s back was against the wall, when they were on the ropes, that they counter-levelled. In the moment before your sword struck them, they could turn that tide around. The overdog had to watch out for the underdog because they always leapt.
With another army, Eldavin might have won or stalemated her. He was a devious foe, and his mana supply exceeded hers! However—the Dawn Concordat were taking too many losses. Lose the army and they lost.
Lose Tyrion, Eldavin, the Lightherald, or the Griffin Prince and they lost.
…Take the [Princesses]? Dioname was now exploring other options, but the battle was quite literally revolving around a single moment. And not for her to lose.
Tyrion Veltras rode out of the fog of acid, burning, skin searing. Another second and he was dead. The Lightherald’s shield barely caught the ray that would have disintegrated his face through the visor, a needle.
They were dancing on life-and-death. The Skills from afar trying to harry Dioname were actually growing stronger. People…were getting worried.
Even the Blighted Kingdom. Probably because they looked at Dioname, and then looked at one of their greatest [Mages]. Nereshal, another [Chronomancer]. Nereshal, greatest in his continent—at least in the Blighted Kingdom—could slow, perhaps even reverse time’s effects upon himself, the Blighted King, and a handful of others.
By his power and magic and talent, and with time stolen from others, he could arrest age itself. That was how he could manipulate time.
Dioname? She could make time dance and roll over.
Even so, they nearly killed her on the third day.
House Veltras went for her. They had danced around the periphery of the battlefield before, refusing to be caught and surrounded, but Lord Tyrion Veltras must have seen that the Great General of Ages was the most pivotal element in Ailendamus’ army.
More than any other [General]—if she died, Ailendamus lost. So he went for her.
The first sign of it was the Aegis of the Bow, the Golem of Terland, turning and unleashing a hurricane of fury onto the command center of Ailendamus’ army. The Golem was well-protected; the Archmage of Memory had personally warded it to prevent Dioname from destroying it.
The deadly arrows raining down did less than Tyrion wanted. Sturdy shields and barrier Skills mitigated the damage—the arrows slowed, and some just plinked onto the ground. One struck someone on the head as he passed by, galloping with his vanguard, and he heard the voice.
It was a helmetless head. Tyrion turned back—just once—and saw someone rubbing at a cut. How?
The arrows which flickered through the air with a longbow’s force suddenly dropped like stones. Yet even if you froze them in time, they kept their momentum.
Ah, but what if you froze the air around them in time? Then the volley of arrows lost all momentum, dropped to the ground with no force. A [Time Mage]’s tricks on a battlefield scale.
“Who is she?”
Pellmia, the [Lord of Love and Wine], breathed. His armor was scorched, and Tyrion had lost more people in these three days of fighting than the rest of the entire war. Tyrion surged across the battlefield, cutting left.
“Griffin Prince and Archmage are diving.”
They went for one of the lesser [Generals]. Just as planned, as Tyrion cut towards another one. The Great General reacted, guarding her commanders.
It was a good feint. Tyrion saw Jericha baring her teeth and checked his group.
He rode with Swey and Pellmia; Buscrei was climbing with her [Archers] to a position on the cliffs. Literally; the Archmage of Memory had provided invisible [Light Bridges], and they were relying on stealth Skills to avoid magical detection.
The other [Lords] and [Ladies] didn’t have applicable Skills for this encounter. And…well, Tyrion glanced sideways. In the decoy-force, one of El’s [Ladies] was leading her [Mercenaries], who would benefit from her Skills. Tyrion made a split-second decision as he saw Ailendamus rotating to face him.
Time again. They were set and ready even as he galloped at a speed beyond any regular [Lancer]. Tyrion looked right and spoke.
“Pellmia. Lead the distraction force.”
“What? I’m bound with you, Tyrion!”
“Your Skills aren’t necessary. Distract her and peel off.”
It wasn’t entirely true. Lord Pellmia could definitely aid their advance. However…the [Lord of Love and Wine] was an experienced campaigner. He didn’t argue.
Besides. Tyrion wanted, needed him to return to House Quellae and share his class with his family. Tyrion shifted, and his forces broke right, splitting from the diversionary force like a bolt of lightning unleashed.
“Jericha, raise the Banner of House Veltras!”
Pellmia’s voice followed Tyrion as the [Lord] lowered his lance and rode. The Great General was focused away from him, but she saw him coming. He couldn’t get there fast enough.
Who is she? Why have I never heard her name?
Half-Elves. How many more were like this, hidden away? Tyrion didn’t know. For once, he didn’t think of Ryoka Griffin. He couldn’t, not even of Sammial or all of what he had seen and feared.
He had to focus.
The Great General had a personal bodyguard of only two dozen figures. He had never seen them fight; Eldavin had sieged her camp once, but the magical battle had been too fast. Tyrion had never gotten this close, and he saw the forces trying to halt him being swept out of the way by one of Eldavin’s spells.
Dimensional magic to counter time. Tyrion just rode, his people behind him bearing down in a lance-charge on the Great General of Ages.
“[Knight’s Challenge]. Lord Veltras—”
He met a [Knight] and ran them through. Tyrion let go of the lance, and someone slowed to retrieve it.
“[My Lord, Ever Armed]!”
Jericha had one in his hands. Onwards! The Great General was waiting, now. Buscrei in the shadows, Swey at his side.
“Let’s get them, Tyrion—”
They needed an opening. A [Bodyguard] could literally sacrifice their lives for the Great General. Tyrion could bypass that Skill—perhaps. He had saved every Skill for this moment.
[Might of Four]. [Piercing Thrust]. [Thirty-Foot Thrust]—
A lance flickered through the air before they were even close. It went for Dionamella’s heart, or seemed to. In truth, it was aimed at the figure just to her left. She was no warrior, and the Great General had a moment of hesitation.
The weakness of [Mages]. Tyrion’s lance shot towards a leather-armored chest. Wyvern? Something else? In that flicker of time between time, not Dioname’s but Tyrion’s, a warrior’s reaction—
He saw pointed ears. A hood.
The half-Elf deflected the lance-strike with his sword. Tyrion Veltras felt his strike go wide and reset himself. He locked eyes and saw a mere twenty bodyguards, half the size of his force, waiting for them.
Each one a half-Elf. Each one…old. Tyrion Veltras had learned to fear old people.
They tended to have high-level classes.
“[My Sword Sings Twice].”
The [Blademaster] and [Lord] switched to swords as his second lance-strike was deflected by a [Bastion Shieldbearer]. House Veltras’ finest met the half-Elves and bled.
“[Grand Fireball]! Dead—”
A knife went through one of the [Riders] next to Jericha. Her own magic fizzled as a half-Elf calmly canceled her magic. Another veteran of House Veltras whirled down a halberd and exchanged five blows with a half-Elf on the ground. Jericha saw the woman fall as the [Hydrabane Assassin] resheathed her blades, preparing for another instantaneous draw from the poisonous sheaths.
“They’re all over Level 30! Advance—”
The Great General had a bodyguard worthy of her. House Veltras on the charge met them—and one died.
Tyrion Veltras’ duel with the [Blademaster] ended in him peeling away. As two more [Soldiers] engaged a half-Elf blocking their swords with his hands, he struck down and slashed through a neck. As the half-Elf fell, a palm-blow struck Tyrion in the side, and Jericha thought she heard his ribs pop.
One. The Great General of Ages cast a spell, and dark magic slew eight warriors. Jericha saw Swey abandon his mace, trying to grapple with the [Blademaster].
The [Climbing Lord] lunged, and his hand closed around the half-Elf’s throat. They had to win! The half-Elf’s greatsword was askew, not suited for the close-ranged combat of the [Lord] who had climbed mountains.
The other, gauntleted hand came up.
“—[My Hands Were a Second Blade].”
The [Blademaster] cut Swey’s gauntleted hand off, even as the fingers tried to tighten. Swey recoiled, staring at the stump of his hand.
“Fall back! Fall back! Reform the charge!”
Tyrion was circling, pulling them back for a second pass. They would get no third one.
All of this was seconds. Five seconds of fighting and the Great General’s bodyguard and she herself had left over a fourth of their number dead. She was preparing a spell for Tyrion that he couldn’t block. But he had to ride at her; if he ran, he died.
There was no opening, though. The half-Elves closed ranks, and the [Blademaster] tugged at Swey’s hand as the [Lord] stumbled back. What would he do? If he even lived…
In that gap, as they circled, as Dionamella waited, over the fighting, in the din of battle—everyone heard the faintest…
Crunching sound. The Great General glanced sideways. The [Blademaster]’s hand was locked around the severed digits clinging to his throat. He had a knife—he’d dropped the greatsword and was trying to cut the fingers away.
Yet the hand kept gripping. Another half-Elf wavered and tried to remove the fingers, but they dug deeper, deeper, bending the mithril gorget, a grip that not even the [Blademaster] could remove. He severed bone and flesh, but the fingers kept tightening—
Once, Lord Swey, a young man, had lost a friend while climbing. It was an old story. His grip had slipped.
Everyone had suffered loss and tragedy. Their experiences made up their levels, classes, and Skills. Swey, drinking a potion, slowed and watched as the [Blademaster] fell, choking.
[I Will Never Let You Go].
They rode. Tyrion Veltras charged into that moment of distraction, into a hand traded for a life. The half-Elves raised their weapons, and the Great General of Ages pointed at him.
Buscrei’s arrow, enchanted by Archmage Eldavin, loosed from behind with three dozen others, flickering through the air. They hit Dioname’s barrier. Buscrei’s arrow vanished out of existence, reappeared, and struck the Great General of Ages through the back.
Not a killing blow, but it went through the base of her spine, and the magic on her fingertips failed. Falling to her hands, the Great General looked up as Tyrion Veltras rode at her. She whispered as that lance dipped down.
Dioname twisted as the arrow flew, and it passed under one arm. She pointed.
“[Law of the Lucifen: Punish Arrows]!”
Buscrei’s bow erupted into flames, and her squad screamed as dark fire engulfed them. Tyrion Veltras broke off his charge as Dioname turned to him.
Her spell was still off. The Great General cursed as House Veltras retreated. Panicked. Not knowing how she had done that.
It was the perfect attack! How…? The wide-eyed [Mage] knew. Jericha looked at Dioname and received it.
Just…a simple spell, blasted publicly, no encryption. Nothing great. A Tier 3 spell.
ARROW BEHIND. DODGE.
But how had she…?
The [Timekeeper General] exhaled. She felt…drained beyond belief. The amount of mana it took to cast a [Message] spell was miniscule. Some Skills even removed the cost altogether.
However. Casting even that spell through time?
[15 Second Message].
And…a Skill for her level.
“[Fate, I Take the Other Path]. Don’t let them escape. I must rest.”
On the third day, House Veltras’ desperate gambit failed. A close call.
Do not lose focus. Dioname realized she was distracted. Not just by the Archmage, nor the Skills. Her head turned left and right as she drank a mana potion that Fithea had personally brewed, and Rhisveri demanded to know if she was alright.
…What am I sensing?
On the fourth day, Archmage Eldavin unleashed everything he had against her. He cast spells for six hours straight, trying to consume her, her army, roaring his fury, incredulous as he failed to defeat a mortal.
For he was…she could see it on him. Pride. An inability to admit that he was lesser. Someone—the Wind Runner—had poisoned him with more than just betrayal. He knew he was better than her. So he lost.
On the fifth day, the Dame of the Hills slew the Lightherald.
The Great General watched. His armor did not break, but his body did. She had seen brave champions like this before, and if he had left or yielded, she would have simply used a Skill to prevent him from re-entering the battle.
But there was a chance he could have won. So he fought and died. Afterwards, Dioname ordered Dame Merila to the rear, to the fortress where honor had meant the [Knights] failed to take the keep.
“Do what you will, Dame Merila. I will end this.”
The morale of the Dawn Concordat and Calanfer was breaking. She looked at the Archmage, Griffin Prince, and Tyrion Veltras.
Three, not four. They would come for her again. A final, last-gambit strike on her, she knew.
Do not lose focus.
She could have ordered Merila to fight, and it would have made Dioname’s life easier. However, Merila would almost-certainly fall to Eldavin or Tyrion. She was too large a target.
So Dioname raised her staff and began the final battle. Still distracted. In the first hour, as she aimed for Tyrion Veltras, a nigh-invisible spell from Eldavin pierced every magical protection, and she tilted her head out of the way. She still had a bead on Tyrion Veltras, and his death…
Missed again. Finally, Dioname saw it. Two things.
Again, two. The first was most obvious. The second was creeping up on her, and she was trying to anticipate it. But the first…
The first was a huge woman, wearing familiar armor, squatting next to Dionamella. A mane of brown hair on her head, and scars from countless battles. Not just her; a panoply of other people stood about, and the Great General whispered.
Queen Marquin the Radiant, First Queen of Calanfer, saw Dioname standing there as the Great General breached into the realm few could ever see in life. Dragons, ghosts, all stirred as the Great General whirled and looked at them. Yet still her gaze roved, looking for something far, far worse.
Marquin pondered her answer only a moment as a battle raged in the mortal realms. Then she smiled at the Great General.
“Probably, a distraction.”
Today was a terrible day to die.
Most days were. Rabbiteater had known days when everything felt like glory. When the sun shone down, and you somehow blazed brighter. When his blood rushed in his veins, and he was filled with a passion that eclipsed all others, to fight and lay down his life for a reason—
That was a bad day to die. Who would think that was a good time to end it all? On those days, you lived, and dying would end all of that.
A day when you died was a dark day. When an [Innkeeper] was shot for no good reason. Those days…yes, those days were fitting.
He knew that thinking of such things was a bad sign. The [Knight] slowly raised his head as he lay abed, reluctant to get up.
He felt it in his bones.
It was not just seeing the Lightherald die. The Redfang felt it. This was the last day for the Dawn Concordat. They had lost their morale, and the Great General would crush them or they would slay her.
But his foe waited for him. So large they could see her, sitting, even as she slept. There was surely no blanket in the world large enough for the Dame of the Hills, Merila, but somehow she still had one. Ailendamus had convened countless [Seamstresses] and denuded so many sheep of their wool just to make it.
“You do not have to fight her, Rabbiteater. It’s a ridiculous thing. The Lightherald must have been forced to attack or quit the battle due to a Skill. Do not…don’t.”
That was all Talia said. Meisa had argued far longer, and Markus, Ilm, and the others nodded.
Rabbiteater just walked onto the battlements without a word. He saw her rising and looking towards him.
It had been a battle for stories, the Lightherald’s last stand. Terrible at the end—a man dying. Held up only by his spirit as he literally bled out of his armor. Bones crushed to jelly.
That was not why Rabbiteater feared Merila. He did not know her. Seraphel did. They had a history such that the Hill-Knight greeted the [Princess].
“Your Highness. We meet again on other sides of the battlefield. Fate has put us in each other’s way it seems.”
Seraphel said only that. Her face was pale, and she looked at Rabbiteater. He remembered her warning. As he met the half-Giant [Knight], Rabbiteater took her measure again.
No, he did not fear her for the reasons the others did. They saw something blatantly unfair. A half-Giant, just enough of her Human side to have classes and Skills, but as large as you could get before her other nature invalidated that artificial boon. A deliberate, perhaps, champion engineered by Ailendamus.
Rabbiteater didn’t hold that against Merila. Nor did the fact that she had killed the Lightherald—at least not in itself—make him fear her.
He feared Merila because he had seen how she fought the Lightherald. She had dueled Greysten again and again, and both had been unable to end the battle because the Summer’s Champion was higher-level than the Lightherald. And his fiery aura had kept Merila at bay.
Perhaps, neither had wanted to kill each other. But in the Great General’s pivotal battle, the Lightherald and Merila had fought to the death.
She had bled. The others looked at her size and strength and saw it was unfair, and maybe this was so. Rabbiteater had seen her bleeding, cut to the bone, struggling to slay a man armed with relics compared to the plain steel she had. He looked at her and saw…
A monster. As close to it as any [Knight] he could ever dream of. Someone who would be mocked or derided by her peers. Who was a target for arrows in every battle.
Someone who knew exactly what it was like to stand alone. Rabbiteater feared no regular [Knights]. But her?
She greeted him with a smile beneath her helm, watchful for an arrow from the battlements. Because they’d taken shots at her before, he was sure. An arrow to blind a giant.
“Ser Solstice. Or the eater of rabbits! You and I have unsettled business, Ser. You are welcome to remain here, and I doubt not a single soul will scorn you for it. But I? I challenge you, should you stand in the gates. I have dishonored my Order once, letting you escape and win your battle. No longer. If you should leave, by honor, I challenge you.”
Her smile was bright. Rabbiteater couldn’t help but grin at her. For the irony of it. She and he were the only ones who saw clearly. How the Order of Seasons bristled!
“Unfair, I say, Dame Knight! Unfair!”
Markus raised a hand, and Rabbiteater nearly kicked him over the battlements. Merila just raised her eyebrows.
“I have heard Ser Solstice dueled my kin at the gates, Ser Knight of the Order of Seasons. Why not me? Am I no less a [Knight]? I tell you what—let’s settle this with our hands, eh?”
She raised one fist, and Rabbiteater started laughing. Nothing she said was wrong! Again, he saluted her. He liked her.
“Of every [Knight] I meet. You. Merila?”
She eyed him, and her eyes lit up as Rabbiteater bowed slightly.
“You are a [Knight]. I accept.”
Meisa tried to stop him, but the Goblin just picked up his axe as Merila raised her blade to the sky.
“So be it! Clear a space! Take mount or whatever you wish, Ser Solstice! I am the Dame of the Hills, and by the Kingdom of Glass and Glory, I will bring you down!”
“You can’t win this. Don’t—even if you best her, it won’t change the battle. And you can’t. You and I and a dozen other [Knights] might have a chance. No more.”
Talia caught Rabbiteater as he descended the battlements. Merila was striding back as the true war was fought in the distance. He knew that was true, and all Talia said was probably right. That Great General was beyond him.
Even so, Rabbiteater patted her hand and then removed it from his shoulder.
“Silly Talia. She challenged me. I am [Knight]. So I go. That’s how it works.”
He had just insulted and made fools of all of Ailendamus’ [Knights]. Merila had splendidly, in true Goblin fashion, thrown it back in his face. As Erin would put it…
“She just reverse-unoed you, Rabbiteater. Oh, that’s a great game. Forget chess!”
He grinned as he strode out the gates and faced Merila just outside of the keep. The Dame had a sword longer than he was and a shield to match his axe.
“Are you resolved, Ser? I will not hold neither blow nor my strength. Some call me unchivalrous, but I cannot help that I was born. For my kingdom, I will dishonor myself.”
Her smile had gone, and she looked down at him. Twenty-eight feet tall.
What a beautiful warrior. If only she had been raised by Garen Redfang, she would not look so ashamed. These stupid Terandrians…Rabbiteater shook his head.
“You dishonor someone…never.”
She smiled sadly. Like the [Princesses]. Merila stood back and saluted him. Behind her stood [Knights] of Ailendamus. They, who had scorned him before for using their honor against them…
This day, the Orders of the Hydra, the Thirsting Veil, and Drell drew their blades and saluted the [Knight]. No less for a warrior who faced down the Dame of the Hills. He could have run.
He did not. Rabbiteater activated Headscratcher’s axe, and a glowing blade of energy grew.
A gigantic edge of magic. A bit of an equalizer. Merila grinned to see it. Rabbiteater’s cloak swirled around him as he nodded. The Dame of the Hill’s voice was filled with regret.
“I wish that we had met in another time. We might have been the greatest of friends.”
“Yes, of course.”
Then Rabbiteater leapt forwards, and the sword came down.
[Flash Strike]. Like lightning. The impact made the ground shake, and those watching from the walls of the keep shuddered. But the [Champion] was gone, rolling to his feet. Fast.
[Aspect of the Champion: Greater Speed]. Rabbiteater’s axe slashed at her foot, but she was already stepping back.
[Longstep], [Extended Reach]—
It was not fair to give a half-Giant these Skills! But lower-level Skills. She struggled to level and had to fight people with ten or more levels above her to find fair fights.
Rabbiteater—threw his shield up.
A new Skill won from yesterday. Merila staggered, and her eyes went wide.
“So it is a match after all! Engarde!”
Their duel was being broadcast in tandem with the battle with the Great General. Predictably, the final battle of this great war took back seat to a simple duel between two [Knights].
That was television for you. But even Niers Astoragon, among the many watchers around the world, had to admit it was fascinating.
He hadn’t bothered throwing Skills at that Great General of Ages after the first time. He had no idea who she was, but he added her to his list of the most dangerous beings.
Rabbiteater’s battle was familiar to Niers, though, in a purely personal way. The [Knight] was fighting like a Fraerling.
A Fraerling versus the Tallfolk.
Like the people of Paeth on the Coast, it was small versus large. If not exactly the same ratio, the same problems.
Merila could crush Rabbiteater with a single blow. He could parry or survive one or two at most, but one good hit and he was out.
His advantages were speed and his small size. He could hit her, but he had to keep moving, attack from places she could not easily reach. If he found such a spot, he could literally take her apart from the inside.
But the [Knight] was a Goblin. Not a Fraerling. Numbtongue watched, head in his hands as his brother fought.
He doesn’t know how. He’s learning, but he’s not a Tallguard.
The Tallguard’s enchanted grappling hooks and their tactics were designed to fight Tallfolk and other monsters. Rabbiteater needed a ranged weapon. He needed to be able to fly or leap into the air at least.
Ironically, a Fraerling might have an easier time against Merila. Niers could have just crawled into her ear and looked for her brain.
That wouldn’t have been fair. And this was a fair fight. Niers watched as the Goblin struck the Dame of the Hills across the ankle.
That’s right, fell her. She staggered, blood gushing from the cut, but not deep enough. Steel armor—not enchanted. She drew a potion the size of a barrel with her shield-hand, and Niers cursed.
They should have forbidden potions.
Rabbiteater’s friends were all watching. From Drassi to Lyonette to Rags and the others. Dame Merila was exposed as she staggered back, sword slicing in a defensive move to give her time to drink.
Into that gap, Rabbiteater dove, dropping his shield. He vanished under her in a blur, and Merila tried to back up, but he had two hands on his axe.
He was going to try and hamstring her! His axe went for her legs.
He fought like a Fraerling, for all he was a [Knight]! Niers clenched his fist. He saw Rabbiteater swing the enchanted axe with a roar.
Merila spun and kicked him.
Seraphel du Marquin couldn’t watch. But she had to. When she saw Rabbiteater go flying, she covered her eyes.
Yet he got up.
Could you imagine the force it took to hurl an armored body like a ragdoll? He landed in a heap and rolled—not to mitigate the impact, but from the sheer force of it.
He was drinking a healing potion as he stood. Dame Merila checked herself, panting. It had been close.
“Your axe, Ser Solstice.”
She pointed, and the [Knight] saw it lying there. Merila let him pick up his shield. Was it condescension?
If only she fought with a hint of arrogance. But no. Just like with Dalius…
The half-Giant fought with everything she had.
So did Rabbiteater. Now, Seraphel felt it. His aura rose around him. Untrained and unbidden. Not bravery—but something as hard and strange as she had ever seen.
Not like the aura of steel, but…walls? She could almost see them. The walls of an inn on his armor and body. He charged Merila, and she brought her sword down.
The walls broke. The strength of an inn…
Was not enough against the strength of the Dame of the Hills. He tried to block her, and her blow caved in the earth. The [Knight] ran, arm limp.
Meisa was shouting, hands cupped to her mouth. The Order of Seasons howled at Rabbiteater as he brought his axe down and chopped into Merila’s big toe. Howling, the [Knight] grabbed him with a gauntleted hand.
She threw him into the broken archway over the gates so hard he cracked the sooty stone and fell down. He did not rise.
Everyone waited, including Merila, who poured a potion on her severed toe, wincing as it joined. They waited for Ser Solstice to get up, his Aura of Bravery blazing, counter-levelling…
A minute passed. Then another ten seconds, and everyone realized—
He was downed.
“Forwards! Take the keep! Dame Merila has won!”
A [Knight] of Ailendamus shouted. The Order of Seasons and defenders jerked upright.
He’d lost? Before a charge could begin, someone roared.
“Challenge! I challenge you!”
The [Knights] slowed and cursed as Dame Talia surged down the battlements. She leapt onto a horse and rode out. Grimly, Merila turned, but a Drell [Knight] lifted his hand.
“I am Ser Yonst of the Order of Drell! I accept your challenge!”
The delaying tactic was working again! Right up until another [Knight] rode forwards.
“I am of the Order of the Thirsting Veil, Dame Fewq! I challenge you, madam!”
She pointed at Meisa. Seraphel saw the [Spring Knight] hesitate, look at Rabbiteater, then grimly don her helm.
“I challenge you!”
Seraphel saw more [Knights] approaching. This time Markus jerked, and she realized…Rabbiteater’s ploy had failed.
Hidebound and traditionalists the [Knights] may be, but they still adapted. Every [Knight] of the Order of Seasons on the walls saw a counterpart ride up from Ailendamus’ army. The Dame of the Hills stood back as over a hundred duels began. The winners would face another foe…and another…
They were not Rabbiteater. Markus tried to fight with his fists.
He beat two [Knights]. Then he was taken prisoner.
All the while, Rabbiteater just lay there. Within less than thirty minutes, every Order of Seasons [Knight] was defeated, having lost to their opponents.
Dame Talia was last to yield, a blade at her throat. No less than four opponents she’d bested with her sword, but summer was over. And fall…Ser Ilm was knocked unconscious as he tried to cast a spell against a Hydra Knight.
“We offer you a chance to surrender! If not—we will regretfully attack, Your Highnesses.”
The [General] of Ailendamus rode forwards as the Order of Seasons was dragged from the field. The [Fortress Keeper] turned to Aielef, but after no response came, he shouted back.
“We will not surrender! Do your worst!”
The [General of the Line] exhaled grimly.
The Greatbows opened up less than a minute later. Seraphel saw a [Soldier] vanish in an anguished cry. The [Princesses] looked up and realized the attack was coming.
“Archers! Take the keep!”
Suddenly, the [Knights] were charging! They peeled off as arrows and the spears held them off, and Ailendamus’ crossbows and bows were volleying the walls.
“Get to safety! [Princesses]—”
Aielef wailed as the genteel battle of [Knights] turned into sudden, harrowing bloodshed. Seraphel just stared down at Rabbiteater.
Was he dead? The [General] had clearly forgotten about him, and the fighting had begun, so neither his side nor Ailendamus had recovered him. Ailendamus wanted the keep now.
“Aielef! Shut up and get t—”
Vernoue was dragging her older sister away when Seraphel saw a shape blur past her. A Lance-Arrow, loosed at the walls, hit Vernoue in the side.
The [Princess] vanished. Aielef screamed, and Seraphel turned. She saw a limp body, a fallen spellbook, as everyone looked around in horror. And…
A glowing tiara.
Vernoue’s personal tiara had saved her. The [Princess] was coughing, wide-eyed. Without a word, Aielef ran. Without a word, but with a scream as the [Fortress Keeper] and Marshal Huges dragged Vernoue to safety.
The royal tiaras were high-grade artifacts. Vernoue’s might not have saved her from a second Lance-Arrow, though.
More than Ser Solstice had. Seraphel could have given him her tiara, she realized. She…remembered his fiery words. How he’d accused her of wasting her chances.
The [Princess] looked across the battlefield and saw the end. Then she ran down the stairs.
Away from the keep.
“Princess! What are you doing?”
Marshal Huges saw Seraphel running through the battlefield. So did the scrying spells still watching the battle. Skirts were really not the way to move around in the mud and fighting in the courtyard. Oesca, watching from her bed and eating gelato, definitely noticed that.
“Protect the [Princess]!”
Calanfer’s [Soldiers] surged around the 4th Princess, desperately fighting to save her life. Not that she was actually in much danger.
Tiara aside, an unarmed woman, let alone a [Princess], was not a target. Ailendamus’ [Soldiers] avoided her or just blinked in surprise when they saw Seraphel run past them. But what was she doing?
Everyone got their answer as they saw her run past a [Knight] at the gates who jerked in surprise, then reached for her. In reply, Seraphel offered the [Knight] of the Thirsting Veil a [Royal Slap].
A fun fact; it was armor-piercing. But only a slap.
Seraphel didn’t waste time as enraged Calanferian [Soldiers] engaged the [Knight]. She bent down…
And hauled up Ser Solstice. She was trying to rescue the [Knight]! Drag him back to be healed! Seraphel was rescuing him!
Or…trying. Her face contorted halfway up, and she realized she had a problem.
Namely, that Seraphel had tried to do that thing where you slung an arm around someone’s shoulders and bear the limp body to safety. That trick only worked if you were supporting the weight of someone still conscious.
Rabbiteater was out, and, like a floppy baby or someone who wouldn’t stay rigid, it was more like hauling a sack of grain up. Seraphel was known as ‘Seraphel the Dutiful’, not ‘Seraphel the Even Moderately Physically Fit’.
Plus, Rabbiteater was a Hobgoblin wearing armor.
“My back! My—”
Seraphel threw out her back as she picked up Rabbiteater and felt an explosion of sudden agony. Half-hobbling, she dragged him into the courtyard via pure panic more than anything.
She managed to get him halfway to the keep as people fought around her. No one wanted to kill the [Princess]—and when she got there, Marshal Huges led a charge and helped carry Rabbiteater in.
Aielef shouted at Seraphel, but the [Princess] just collapsed as everyone tried to heal Ser Solstice.
By removing his helmet.
Fortunately, they failed. Marshal Huges gave up after half a minute.
“It’s locked into place! Damn—someone pour a potion through his visor!”
They did, and Seraphel waited. They were trying to check his armor, and someone nearly had his cuirass off to check whether he was injured when the [Knight] stirred. Rabbiteater sat up, kicked someone in the chest, and looked around.
He woke up and felt his torn muscles and cracked bones mending. And he knew a few other things.
The keep was falling.
And the Dame of the Hills was too strong.
Rabbiteater had tried, in their short duel, to do the only thing that would work. Namely, climb her, or bring her down via the legs, and do some critical damage to her head or at least remove one of her arms from the equation.
He couldn’t. She was too tough. If she were some lumbering brute, he would have had a chance, but she moved and reacted as fast as he did without Skills.
He couldn’t beat her.
“You saved me.”
Rabbiteater looked into Seraphel’s eyes, and the [Princess], still clutching at her back, dirty and panting, nodded.
“It seemed like the thing to do. You were being trampled.”
“Can you fight? Princesses…the keep will fall soon.”
Marshal Huges turned to Aielef, Vernoue, and Seraphel. He was asking them for an answer, and Aielef looked ready to grant it. But it was the Goblin who interrupted her.
“Not yet. I will clear the courtyard.”
He rose, and Huges hesitated. But Rabbiteater just stepped for the door. Seraphel had even managed to find his axe—but not his shield.
She had decent priorities. The Goblin stepped through the door.
Today—was a truly terrible day to—
He stepped into the courtyard and into a sudden hush. The advent of Ser Solstice, returned and willing to fight, the [Indomitable Champion]…
Did not cause the hush. What caused the silence, what had halted both sides from fighting, was the shadow over the keep and the world.
The Dame of the Hills.
“No more blood need be spilt. Princesses of Calanfer! I will have your surrender. Or I will drag you out myself.”
Dame Merila boomed as Rabbiteater looked up.
She saw him, and the Hill-Knight smiled wider. But it was grimly.
“Ser Solstice. Enough is enough. The Dawn Concordat has lost this day. Please, persuade them to save just one more life.”
Rabbiteater stared up at that bright smile. The face of a true [Knight] of Ailendamus. Behind him, he knew, the [Princesses], the [Soldiers] were all looking at Merila and seeing the inescapable death.
The sky would fall on them if they fought. It was over.
The Goblin had seen the sky falling once before. Slowly, he hefted the enchanted axe onto his shoulder and stepped into the courtyard.
That bright flash of teeth faded. The Dame of the Hills looked down as Seraphel cried out in disbelief.
“Ser Solstice. You must surely jest. I am relieved you survived our first duel. I pray you do not force me to kill you. I cannot, will not hold back my blade.”
For the first time since they had met, she insulted him. The Goblin’s head rose. He pointed up at Merila with his free hand.
“Sister. How could you?”
Aielef’s muffled shout from inside was in chorus with the rest of the world. Sister? What a twist!
However, Rabbiteater just meant it in the broader sense, like how Garen was his father. Merila’s own eyes widened as the [Knight] shouted up at her.
“You and I. We understand. How can you ask?”
Rabbiteater’s heart beat painfully. He spread his arms, holding Headscratcher’s axe in one hand. He saw a waving white flag. Perhaps he was still delirious from the fighting.
Once, they had known exactly what she was asking them to do. But they followed it. And his great brother, the [Berserker], emotional, prone to laughter and tears…
“You and I stand here and there. But you…Sister. Do you believe your cause is just?”
The Dame of the Hills looked tired as she rested her hands on her sword. The cross of it was planted, the massive blade driven into the stone before her.
The [Knight] of Solstice, Rabbiteater, the [Indomitable Champion] and [Aura Knight]. The Goblin nodded.
“Then. Would you ever stop?”
A sigh like the prelude to a hurricane ran from the Hill-Knight’s mouth. As weary as could be.
The stones in the courtyard cracked as the steel blade rose. Shining terribly under that bright sun. She saluted Rabbiteater with it. Her eyes implored him, but her voice was steady.
He nodded and lifted his axe. Rabbiteater charged, and the 4th Princess shouted at him with all the others. She should have left him there.
Until the last Goblin at Liscor fell, Rabbiteater would fight.
The tenacity of a Goblin until death shocked the world that watched.
Some called it foolishness. Bravado, emblematic of the worst elements of Terandria’s warrior-culture.
Others, who understood Rabbiteater, saw the battle he had never left. Some raised their blades for a true warrior meeting his end.
Goblins, his kind, looked at the [Knight] as a blade crushed him down and he rose, spitting blood through a damaged visor.
“There goes one who would be a Goblin Lord. Or even more. But not yet.”
Anazurhe looked at Rags, and her eyes flashed. Yet the Goblin Witch’s magic twisted uselessly. As did Rags’ Skills, bouncing off an aura stronger than anything she had ever seen.
He had left her tribe, and Anazurhe had never known him. Helplessly, the two Goblins watched. There was no one to help him. The Order of Seasons was captive; they had to hold some of the struggling [Knights] down, but Ailendamus kept them from interfering.
The others, from Greysten to the Winter’s Watcher, were too far. The other combatants on the battlefield were too far and fighting for their lives, unable to interfere. Even the Griffin Prince saw his people dying by the hundred with each second as the Dawn Concordat began to break and run.
One life, however valorous, was not enough.
One last person tried. Princess Seraphel tried to run forwards and stop the duel, but her own people held her back. The [Princess] didn’t care about the honor of either [Knight]. She would have sullied that.
Honor mattered less. Perhaps even the Goblin would have agreed, but he fought alone. No foreign Skill from afar to help him.
No miracle against the Dame of the Hills. No outsiders, just this one.
Neither ghost nor immortal was watching him. They had never known Rabbiteater, shyly helping Erin cook food. Rescuing his own kind in Liscor’s dungeon. Taking the first steps to becoming someone who inspired even his own kind.
They had no right to intervene. Nor did the supercilious leaders abroad, who wanted to put their fingers on the scales for their own selfish entertainment or reasons. They did not know who lay behind his helm.
Not Goblins, who watched a timeless story. Not fellow [Knights], bound by honor. No outsiders would interfere with this moment.
There was someone, though. Someone who had every right to this moment. Who knew Rabbiteater. Who had fed him and known him.
No matter how far you went, no matter who you became…she was still bound to her home.
The last [Princess] who knew Rabbiteater had seen it all. His lowest moment. His glory! Helpless, stranded a continent away, and chasing after her daughter…
“I have to go after her. I will not go home. If I could have even gotten there and helped.”
Lyonette du Marquin gazed at the wounded [Knight] as he rose. The silent Thronebearers watched. Yet Ser Dalimont, seeing Princess Seraphel held back, saw something.
A glimmer of light. A tiny spark of…magic. Aura?
Or just hope. The [Princess] lifted a trembling finger. She had never tried this.
It felt like she was trying to lift a mountain with a single finger. The vast distance, a hostile battlefield—it weighed against her.
She pushed at it. If Erin Solstice could defy a Wall Lord of Salazsar, if Rabbiteater could challenge a half-Giant—why not her?
She was the 6th Princess of Calanfer. Lyonette the Fiery! Lyonette the disgrace! She had not deserved her class. She had been low-level, and few [Princesses] ever gained high levels.
But she had risen. The [Worldly Princess]’ voice shook as badly as her hand. Forcing the words out.
One of the Thronebearers thought she was having a panic attack! Ser Sest tried to touch her, and Dalimont shoved him backwards.
A light was growing. A flickering…Lyonette’s nose started bleeding. Even so, she pushed back.
“I have to go to Mrsha. But you—you! My kingdom. My people. Even my sisters! Rabbiteater!”
She shouted his name. You, who went so far from home! She wrestled with the power of the Great General of Ailendamus. Even though it was her nation and he fought for her people—it was so hard!
Then Lyonette remembered something. She was not the first. An [Innkeeper] had stood there and given him her blessing. He had been at her inn.
So Lyonette traced the path across the world. Just like Erin Solstice, she sent her will across this world. The only thing she could give.
To Rabbiteater, her friend, her guest. That brave [Knight].
Come back home safely.
Someday, we will meet again.
A sigil traced itself in the air. A glowing crest. It looked like a radiant throne. The symbol of House Marquin. The royal seal of Calanfer. It flashed, and Lyonette screamed the words.
“[Boon of the Princess]!”
At first—it seemed like nothing happened. Lyonette, shaking, looked despairingly at the scrying orb. Nothing happened. Rabbiteater struggled, with only blood on his armor. Then she remembered something Drassi had told her:
The scrying orbs were on a five-minute delay.
A light began to shine from Rabbiteater’s armor.
He felt something. Something…
Even as the sword crushed him down to the ground. Even as he fought on, against a foe he knew he couldn’t defeat.
He heard no levels. No class consolidation because he was doing what was really impossible. Not valorous or brave, or even pivotal. Just stupid.
Yet he felt as if someone did have his back. Why…why did he think of blue eyes? Red hair? Someone chasing after a little furball and laughing?
A kindly smile?
It was bright. Rabbiteater did not see the first glimmers of light. He did not hear the gasps—only saw Merila’s face as it grew uncertain.
She threw up a hand as the first golden ray of light appeared. It was tracing something in the air. On Rabbiteater’s armor. All those who knew their heraldry—even the basic flags—realized what it was.
The seal of Calanfer. Seraphel’s eyes went wide.
“Father? He can’t…”
There was no other explanation for it, though. Rabbiteater felt as if the world were growing brighter. He felt…
Stronger. His wounds were healing? Or maybe he just felt better. But if it was just brighter for him—
Merila shaded her gaze, trying to see. She had taken precautions against the Lightherald, but the unexpected searing light blinded her! And the Hobgoblin—
[Temporary Skill – Radiance of the Dawn obtained!]
[Temporary Skill – Might of the Homeland obtained!]
He leapt. One of the Hobgoblin’s hands carried him up the Dame of the Hill’s armor as she swiped at the ground, lashing out, unable to see. He climbed, and she twisted.
She missed. He threw himself up, springing off her knee as the panicked Hill-Knight slashed. Her blind eyes looked up as the [Knight] raised his axe.
Rabbiteater landed on Merila’s shoulder, and his brother’s axe rose. To terrible purpose.
A howl rose from Merila’s [Squire], and the [Knights] of Ailendamus looked up as Ser Solstice raised his battleaxe. Rabbiteater swung, as Merila looked at him. A moment of resignation, and he struck—
Merila’s head didn’t go flying. The enchanted edge of the axe drew no blood.
Rabbiteater held the blade there, kissing her throat. The Dame recoiled, the expectation of death fading.
“You are bested. Can’t fight.”
The Goblin looked Merila in the eyes, and she thought she saw a toothy grin behind the helmet.
Then he leapt. The half-Giant was so stunned she saw him land, charge for the gates, and he was halfway out before she turned.
“Wait! This is not ended, Solstice! Fight me!”
She roared, outraged. She had fought every other foe to the death! How dare he spare her? Was it contempt?
Or…a Goblin unwilling to kill the only other non-Human [Knight] he had met. He was running, racing down the hill at the surprised [Knights]. Merila reached out to slash at him and hesitated. Honor.
Her furious bellow followed him down the hill. Rabbiteater laughed as he ran.
And still, he shone. The blinding light came down the hill as he ran, brandishing his battleaxe. With one target.
Only you, sister. The Goblin looked up, and his eyes fixed on a confused face, half-shielded by a hand. Not a bad face. A warrior who knew something of honor.
Yet he still raised Headscratcher’s axe and threw it.
The enchanted edge of the gold-jade axe whirled through the air, a scything blade so huge it cut through space. It killed the poor warhorse. One of the [Strategists]. The [General of the Line] lowered his hand and the axe lodged itself in his chest. He was a valorous leader, a good warrior. But all it took was a moment.
The fourth [General] of Ailendamus fell as the Goblin grabbed a horse and swung himself onto it. He yanked the axe free and galloped away from the still-blind, stunned soldiers and [Knights].
Great General Dionamella was struggling only slightly.
They came for her, the Archmage raining fire down, Lord Tyrion Veltras tilting at her, clashing with her bodyguard, and the Griffin Prince. At last, she caught him.
He tried to cut at her, but the spell lifted him up. Dioname twisted, and a gigantic firestorm vanished into a point of darkness in her hand. She tossed the vortex back at Eldavin, and he flew away, cursing.
Even that would not kill him. So Dioname simply whispered.
The Griffin Prince vanished. His Royal Griffin screamed, and the Wing of Shame circled, searching for him. Even if they found him, he was thirty miles away. And two hundred feet below the ground.
Dioname turned. The lance came at her, a [Lord], his aim impeccable. Very well.
“[Lance of the Bone Giant]—”
A giant, spectral warrior raised a deadly weapon, and Tyrion turned to avoid even as he struck at Dioname. The Great General…
Flinched. She ducked, and Tyrion dodged away. But he hadn’t struck at her! Her spell went wild. What had—
“[Blade of Calanfer]!”
Queen Marquin swung a sword at Dioname’s head, but it had no weight or substance—and she’d made up the Skill, too. The dead had no Skills or levels.
But the Great General had flinched. She was suffering from her abilities. Rhisveri had taught her too much. The [Eyes of the Wyrm] were letting her see the ghosts. And they were—
Dioname cursed and turned, ignoring the [Princess] trying to slap her to no avail. At first, she thought that the light was her imagination too.
The Lightherald was dead, after all. The Dawn Concordat was breaking before the Five Families. Calanferian [Soldiers] surrendered, and the half-Elves and people of Kaliv were beginning to follow suit. Then they looked up as they saw a familiar light.
Did you believe in miracles? A figure rode towards Ailendamus’ lines from the rear. He was unstoppable—his axe swung left and right, an enchanted edge cutting down foes with all the reach of a lance. Even Tyrion Veltras stopped when he noticed—but took advantage of the moment.
The encircling army around the keep where the three [Princesses] lay trapped had abandoned the siege and were chasing after him, but too slowly. All except the Dame of the Hills, who was pounding the ground in helpless frustration, bested.
He looked far different than the Lightherald. For one thing, he was smaller. Perhaps he did not glow so brightly, and he carried an axe and cloak of red liquid, not the sword and shield.
Even so. To the despairing men and women, the sight of that figure charging an army alone was enough. Their officers screamed, and the Thronebearers cried out.
“The Lightherald of Calanfer! To the light! For Calanfer—charge!”
“Who is that?”
Dioname squinted against the radiance. Then she saw House Veltras and Eldavin charging. She turned her head as Marquin shouted in her ears.
All distractions. But all it took was a single charge. One moment of weakness—
What is it? It’s coming—
The new Lightherald’s charge upon Ailendamus was the break Tyrion Veltras sought. He rode at her as Eldavin descended.
“—an end to this. [Valmira’s Falling Starry Sky].”
He crashed down with the greatest spell of Archmage Valmira. Veltras pierced the lines of her soldiers, riding for her. The Lightherald was moving Calanfer to overrun!
The victor must watch for this moment. Great General Dioname’s lips moved.
“[Out of Time, Kept]/[They Waited, For My Hour of Need]/[We Unleashed Our Truest Potential].”
A rift in the battlefield opened. The charging Dawn Concordat’s forces, the ‘Lightherald’…saw shapes moving.
Riding out of time itself. Only a thousand.
They bore Ailendamus’ crest, but an older version. Their armor came from older times, and they looked upon a far different battlefield. Yet they had sacrificed as much as she.
“The Great General of Ages calls us hence! Charge! Charge in the name of Dionamella of Ailendamus!”
The thousand warriors held in stasis surged forwards in the silence of despair. Dioname looked at them and bowed, just slightly.
“It’s Dioname, actually…”
There was always the last stand. The final comeback. She was the one who had to crush the last ember of hope. It was not easy. Never falter, never relax.
Not even till the end.
So why do I still feel dread creeping over me? Dioname exhaled, and the Lightherald, Ser Solstice, slowed.
So this was it. They surrounded him, and the foreign thousand were aimed straight at him. Unfair to the end.
But I got this far. Thanks, Lyonette. Rabbiteater looked at the Great General and saw the futility of his death. So he raised his gauntlets.
Someone blew a horn at his back. Rabbiteater jerked as his yield was cut off. There was someone wailing on a battlehorn. Not just blowing one sonorous call, but a piping blast of music. Triumphal. Desperate?
The [Knight] looked over his shoulder and saw the gates of the keep open. The flag that flew Calanfer’s colors over the top was gone. He thought, at first, that they had surrendered or something.
Then he saw the stream of bodies charging out of the gates. [Soldiers], running downhill. Men and women on horseback, racing forwards in a flash of colors.
Kaliv, Gaiil-Drome, Pheislant, led by the brave Marshal Huges, but most of all, running or riding with every scrap of energy they had left—Calanfer’s people.
Including the [Fortress Keeper]. Every hand had abandoned the fortress. Do or die.
The most outrageously insane move that Rabbiteater had ever seen. Even the Goblin was taken aback. But as the twice-despairing [Soldiers] of the Dawn Concordat looked up, fingers pointed.
Calanfer’s [Soldiers] lifted their heads. Some rubbed at their eyes, and the Thronebearers, the much-maligned [Knights], abandoned their positions and possibly their minds. They raced forwards, heedless of the danger, charging the surprised Ailendamus [Soldiers]. There was a cry on their lips.
Beyond the Lightherald. The mysterious warrior whose name no one knew—more than even his presence, the people of Calanfer pointed to the flag waving as it was carried down the hill. The shining tiara, and the terrified woman holding it.
“The [Princess] of Calanfer!”
The 4th Princess of Calanfer, Seraphel du Marquin, rode towards Rabbiteater as he watched. Her face was as white as a sheet, and she was in danger of being thrown from the equally-terrified mare. Yet the entire force of the keep followed her. Rabbiteater heard the Thronebearers shouting.
“To the [Princess]! To the [Princess] and the Lightherald! The Eternal Throne rot your cowardice—charge!”
There was no logic to it—Calanfer just charged. [Archers] in the back, Thronebearers—the chaos of every hand and body rushing Ailendamus from every angle took even the Great General of Ailendamus back. Calanfer’s people threw themselves forwards.
And Ailendamus’ officers—began to worry. They hesitated. Not just because of the surprise. Because they had studied Calanfer.
Calanfer and the Thronebearers, who preferred words over swords. No [Princess] of Calanfer had ever died in battle. What did they know? Where were the reinforcements?
They looked for something that didn’t exist, and as they did—Rabbiteater just watched Seraphel. Their eyes met—and then he was galloping next to her.
“Wear armor, stupid!”
She just gaped at him. Then Rabbiteater was swinging his axe as they plunged into the fighting.
“Kill that [Princess].”
Dioname gave the order quietly. Her bodyguard took aim. Live or die—she’d thrown the army into chaos, but the Great General couldn’t risk it. No matter what—
The arrow flew, and the [Knight] blocked it with one of his arms! Dioname cursed.
Regular [Archers] spun and loosed a shower into the air. The [Soldiers] charged into the chaos. Even if she had charged, the keep’s defenders were few, and most were still running on foot. There was no actual force there, just one elite [Knight].
And the undead.
Dioname’s head snapped back. She saw a pale face, turned blue from lack of oxygen, still swollen around the place where a blade had chopped halfway through a neck, rising. A zombie wearing Calanfer’s colors rose, and a terrified [Soldier] stabbed it down. But the ghoul that leapt on the [Soldier] was one of…hundreds.
“The dead are rising! It’s her! The Cursed Princess of Calanfer!”
People were shouting in confusion. Someone else roared.
“The disaster of Ovela has come to haunt us! To arms!”
A small army of the dead was rising, fighting around the [Princess]—and empowered by one of Seraphel’s Skills. General Dioname’s head twisted. She held up a hand.
“It is just low-level undead. Surround and cut them off! It’s not her raising them. I hear…”
She cupped a hand to her ear. The origin was far distant, but Dioname still heard it.
Someone was singing.
“Rhisveri. Music? I hear a female voice. Feren, the [Necromancer] we thought turned traitor—it’s not him.”
Elsewhere, the Wyrm stirred. A few pieces from last year began to fall into place. Yet they had no time to puzzle it out.
They had no context. Not for the 4th Princess of Calanfer. Not for the Singer of Afiele. Dioname’s eyes lingered on Seraphel and Rabbiteater a moment too long.
Eldavin descended on her. Lord Tyrion Veltras galloped through her bodyguard as they fought House Veltras, and the Great General saw it.
“[Time Slows For All But Me].”
She didn’t know how much she spent? A year for each second?
The galloping [Lord] and Archmage slowed. Eldavin’s eyes were wide with incredulity as Dioname raised a slow finger. Even she was caught in her Skill, but she moved far faster.
She put three holes in his chest. One straight through his heart. The Lucifen’s own magic seared a hole through him, and the Archmage staggered.
But he refused to die. He tried to fall back, and Dioname saw her hands…
The skin grew grey and withered. Yet—and yet—she saw someone coming for her. The Archmage of Memory was helpless, slowed to a crawl. A tenth of regular speed?
He was still so fast. Lord Tyrion Veltras had a lance and sword in hand. His arm struck at her with a Skill, straining to reach her—she dodged the strikes, physically avoiding them.
So quick! That lance turned, and she increased the magnitude.
Slower still. Eldavin’s eyes were locked on her, and yet his magic kept fighting hers. She murmured, teeth bared.
“What are you?”
Dioname saw the ghosts trying to block her way as Tyrion Veltras turned, the lance raised. She looked at him, her hands brimming with magic. Her gaze rose. And rose.
The Great General of Ages looked up. Past Tyrion Veltras, and her eyes grew wide with horror. She stood there, despite the battle, despite it all, transfixed. She could not help it.
Some things mortals were not meant to see. In all her ages, in the company of immortals…
She had never seen something like this.
“What is that?”
The [Timekeeper General] beheld her very end as it struck her. She staggered—Eldavin recoiled, choking on his own blood, yet preserved by the magic that gave him life—
Lord Tyrion’s lance struck Dioname through the heart.
The Great General of Ages’ aura collapsed. Her Skills winked out, and everyone came to a standstill. Those who had known her, the thousand warriors, her bodyguard, realized it instantly.
She had died. It was beyond a mortal wound; the enchanted lance of House Veltras had gone through her chest, and Dioname possessed no magic to turn back fate that far.
In that moment, the half-Elf heard a shriek from a Wyrm calling her name. She almost rejoiced, because she had not known there was emotion left to give in Rhisveri.
She was dead, struck, and yet she lived. Tyrion was trying to pull the lance back, Eldavin, to destroy Dionamella completely, when the hand grabbed Tyrion’s arm. He froze, unable to pull back, and Eldavin was caught by the throat as the Great General rasped, blood bubbling from her mouth.
“You have been my end. But I—I am the Great General of Ailendamus. And I will only rest when I have said my piece.”
They struggled, but she had no life left to kill. Her heart had stopped, but like those of her level—
She refused to die. Just for a moment. Dioname threw back her head, and her voice echoed.
Her [Soldiers] and the Dawn Concordat’s looked up at her as she shouted, blood running down her face.
“This day, Ailendamus has lost. This day—a Great General is slain. But remember this: this day, a common-born half-Elf girl who has never known the shade of the eternal trees held down a [Lord] with blood as old as the Hundred Families from which monarchs are struck and an Archmage from the halls of magic itself. Wistram and Veltras alone could not slay me.”
The Archmage was trying to break free, but she had a deathgrip on his throat. Dioname struggled for words. She was fading—but she had to say it.
“My kin. Do not waste your lives in our ageless villages. Each second must be treasured. For my life I have given…my promise will endure as long as Ailendamus. The Kingdom of Glass and Glory…will never persecute our kind.”
A wish. Rhisveri had offered her one wish. Just like all the others. It was done. Dionamella’s voice and magic were fading, but she shouted. A desperate warning.
“It was not House Veltras who slew me! Something is coming! They are coming up—up, but you cannot see it! Guard the gates! Make ready, or all will be l—”
Eldavin tore himself free, and a hundred lances of fire struck through her. Dionamella staggered.
The Archmage was fleeing, to his victory. But it would not be that easy. She caught him, and he turned, face grey with fear. Well he should be.
The last power in Dionamella was still the full might of her class. And she had no fear of death, now.
Time slowed. Then stopped. Eldavin stood with her hand on his shoulder in a world that had no continuation. She focused the very nature of her magic on him and realized the truth.
“You have no end. Only a beginning.”
He was immune, like the rest of them, to the heart of her magic. What a terrible irony.
He was beginning to break even time itself. Bitterly, she realized she couldn’t kill him.
“At least—then—you imposter to my kind. At least feel the weight of your years!”
She struck him once, and he recoiled. Eldavin staggered backwards—and suddenly his breath caught. He wheezed and looked down at the first true wrinkles on his skin. His perfect form, aged in a breath.
He fled. Now, the darkness was closing, and Dioname felt someone trying to break her grip. She looked at Tyrion Veltras.
“My lord. My friend. This lance comes for you. This terrible lance, my friend, which has slain me. To you, my mentor who gave me might and chance.”
She was whispering now, to Rhisveri alone. Dioname drifted, but she clung to it—her last duty.
“You—can yet be a good ruler—because you have forever to learn. You will never forget me.”
Her other hand touched Tyrion’s face, now. Dispassionately, Dioname looked into his face as he struggled.
“So this lance I cannot remove from my heart. It aims at you. I cannot kill it.”
“The most precious gift I can, I give—”
She focused, and the [Lord] fought her, aura against hers. Pride and strength. As if he were the only one who had ever known struggle. Dionamella threw him as she declared her last gift.
To the immortals of Ailendamus, the most precious thing:
Lord Tyrion Veltras stumbled, and she counted.
No…the power was slipping away far too fast.
She tried. Ah, but now she felt something tugging her. Sixteen, then.
Dionamella looked up, and Tyrion Veltras, howling as something engulfed him, the last wrath of the Great General of Ages, saw Dionamella suddenly jerk.
Something snatched her up. He saw a fighting, screaming half-Elf blasting a horror he had only seen once, washed up on Izril’s shores—
And then she died.
What happened? No one, not even Tyrion and Eldavin or Rhisveri could answer that.
The Great General of Ages died…but to what? What had she meant?
And what had she done?
In the aftermath of battle, Ailendamus’ forces were surrendering or retreating. They left. Their Great General had fallen, and none had the will after that.
A Wyrm lost his mind. The one mortal he had ever respected died there, and he vowed a vengeance unlike any that had ever come before or would ever come after.
Men and women levelled, and a [Princess] stood with a [Knight] amid cheering Calanfer. Yet Ailendamus’ wrath would come.
At least…at least an Archmage stood against them. And the [Lord] of House Veltras. Even someone to replace the Lightherald, and the Griffin Prince, who could not die?
Yet Eldavin ached with time, which would not leave him. The second-to-last deed of the Great General of Ailendamus. She could not use time to slay someone who was immortal, even this copy.
But what had she done to Tyrion Veltras? He stood there, looking at his hands. For a moment, he had known such agony that he had screamed and begged for it to stop.
Now the pain was gone. Yet he was…puzzled. In the moments when he reappeared, when Jericha turned and the [Bodyguards] still living put down their blades and surrendered, weeping for their comrade, Jericha approached.
“Tyrion? Lord Tyrion? Are you…?”
Are you alright? She stopped, as if run through herself. He turned to her, and she heard a stranger’s voice.
“Jericha? Am I wounded?”
He didn’t…feel wounded. With the last vestiges of her power, Dioname had cursed him? Or…why did he feel better?
Better, suddenly. A spring in his step that he didn’t know he’d ever lost. It had faded and he’d made do, but now it was back, he felt it. A feeling as though he could run and jump and do everything—and wanted to.
And his hands! They looked…the same? Same size, but as Tyrion tugged off a gauntlet, he realized what it was.
They were less weathered. Veins less pronounced maybe? As if—
Then he put his hands to his face, and the younger [Lord] realized what had been done.
Sixteen years. Dioname had used the last of her strength to throw him…sixteen years into the past.
Some basic math occurred to Tyrion, though he was so shocked he might have gotten it wrong.
44 – 16 = 28.
Twenty-eight. That was…young. But why? Why not throw him into his sixties? That would do far more. Tyrion thought it was almost a blessing until something occurred to him.
Slowly, he raised his hand.
The Skill that he had long-ago gained and mastered, a superlative eight blows with a sword or lance…did not activate. Tyrion saw Jericha grow pale and then realize it herself.
She’d taken him back in time. Not his memories or personality…
She’d taken his levels.
On the fifth day of battle, Great General Dioname of Ailendamus perished. The loss of the greatest army of Ailendamus marked a turning point in the war, as its armies withdrew to the homeland and the Dawn Concordat advanced for the first time.
Dioname, as the Duke Rhisveri would later inscribe upon the many statues and tributes to her, had single-handedly held off every foe against her. He would write this on one of her statues:
‘If lesser men had not gathered to bring her down, she would have never fallen. If worms had not let her die alone, she would still be here. Mark me. She will be avenged.’
Author’s Note: Day 6. Still on progress.
Hope you enjoyed. One more day…and perhaps it will be a shorter chapter since I know I haven’t much energy left. I hope this one was done well enough. It should be…but I am willing to try, even though I should have all the energy and revisions in the world to write Dioname’s end.
But I don’t, and the nature of writing this so quickly, day-by-day, is fitting. It’s a way to write. It can’t go forever and it has plenty of flaws, but it is immediate and a style. I just hope it’s good enough. See you tomorrow for the end of this.
High Passes and Goblin by painterinthesky!
Crab Mrsha by Plushie!
Ryoka and Fierre by VulpyDoodlesStudios, commissioned by Spanner!