Part 26: Chapter 20, Plot
I hope you're ready for
: I assure you the information I have to tell you is important for you to know.
: Although I've already heard this, I feel I should be here to discuss it. This discussion affects all of us, after all.
: Indeed. With that said, I shall begin. My personal story started when Magnus first invaded Aegis... As Duke Paul has told you, Aegis was taken about 2 years ago. It was then that Magnus's highest ranked general, the Mage General, warped countless troops on Valencian soil.
: He is more than a prodigy. He has the capability to warp himself, as well as multiple others, to any location. Such manipulation of ether has been unheard of... Except by Magus, one of the seven heroes, who with help, avoided the extinction of humans... ...But we all know the story of how we humans were driven away from the old Blaine to this new continent of Solum, so I digress...
I wish that Blazer would adopt that attitude with the rest of this exposition dump.
: ...Within minutes, Magnus had started rampaging across Aegis. There wasn't even time for a messenger to reach the Duke. Within an hour, the civilians had been subdued, and Castle Aegis had fallen, without a fight.
No really, why did we need to know all of this? I mean, obviously the protagonists didn't know this, but we could pick up almost all that was just regurgitated at us through what we've seen and a little bit of inference.
But wait, there's more.
: After all, for the eight years or so before that, conflict had rendered Regalia and Alexia without leaders, and Count Pellenore and Count Devisio traitors. Alicia, self-absorbed in their inability to choose a Queen, was supposedly taken advantage of and quickly conquered as well. They were too preoccupied to fend off against Magnus... Not only this, but Magnus has been preparing for years. General Siegfried, you know better than us... Signs of war and conflict began ten years ago... And the people with the power to stop it, failed to.
: If only I had been more careful and decisive...
: ...Atheya, too, was taken over, as is common knowledge. Without a unification of tribes, Atheya is too fragile to wage any war. Of course, spreading occupation forces and striking deals... These things may take time for Magnus to do, but they sacrifice little else in doing so... And with Alicia, Atheya, and Valencia out of the picture, Blaine was thus the last area to resist Magnian take-over. Of course, Blaine is also strong, but not enough... While you stirred up a rebellion in Atheya, Magnus was making preparations for a large push on Blaine. Their Imperial Generals have been away from the battlefield... I can only guess at why that is so... But I do know of the situation in Blaine...
: If Magnus hasn't sent any of its Imperial Generals to us, then... They must still be busy dealing with Blaine, right? Though I'm honestly a little confused...
: Blaine's status is... unfortunate. I've been working as a spy in Magnus, and... They say Blaine is left with only the capital and a few other neighboring cities and strongholds. The King and his Royal Riders remain there, struggling. Yet somehow, they've managed to hold off Magnus until now.
: So Magnus is closing in on Blaine?
: Yes. Magnus has set up defense lines surrounding the core of Blaine. Magnus will not let anyone enter nor leave its borders.
Oh, what? You thought we were done talking?
: To Blaine?
: That's what I think. We need to help Blaine fight against Magnus. They're our only real ally left. It's that simple.
: I agree, Kelik. If we don't seize this chance, Magnus may quickly reconquer Atheya. Chief Haas of the Phora is there, but I can't imagine he could hold out forever against Magnus's numbers. If Blaine was taken out as well, we'd be Magnus's lone target. There's no way they'd let us have our way at that point.
: And we cannot discount the Mage General in our plans. He is an excellent tactician as well. With his magical power, he could do something like what he did to Aegis.
: He would have used that power long ago if it was that simple though. Warping people doesn't only take massive amounts of ether, but also the skill to control the flow of all that ether at once. I don't believe he can use his magic on such a large scale as he pleases. Even Galagar must have his limits...
: Yeah. I was just thinking about him. His name was Galagar. Somehow, I remember it.
: But it could have been another Galagar.
: Perhaps, but I don't believe that Galagar is a very common name.
: Hm... well... Oh! I know! Galagar's eyes were two completely different colors.
: The Mage General also has two eery(sic), different-colored eyes!
Ah, heterochromia, the typical fanfiction approach to making a character "special." I was wondering when we'd see this one.
: But the Galagar we met was nothing but an innocent prisoner... And what purpose would he have to enact such a ruse?
: The Mage General has the ability to warp, as you may remember. It's possible he was traveling to spy on the soldiers...
: If that were the case, why not just kill us then and there? If he's as strong as you say he is, he'd have no problem with that.
: That, I...cannot explain.
: I'm sure the truth will reveal itself in time. If you truly met Galagar as you say you did, then there must be some reason he chose not to confront you. For now, I will supply you with your basic necessities. Unfortuantely(sic), most of our treasure was stolen by Magnus... There is little extra funding I can offer you, General.
Man, we're getting quite a few more spelling errors these days. I guess Blazer was as tired of writing this as I am of reading it.
: We'll accept whatever you have to offer, Duke. Any and all support is appreciated, regardless of its measure.
: Such benevolence carries you far, General. I have an extra present for you, if you may. You can give it to whoever can make use of it.
: ...A celestial ring? Do you have one to spare?
: I was going to give this to my future wife, but... If not for you, I would not live to that time. Besides, my marriage will have to wait some. What ruler would I be if I got married in the middle of a war?
I guess you've never A-supported with someone, eh Duke?
: I'm touched, but... this is better spent elsewhere.
: I'd be grateful if you would take it, General.
: ...Alright. I will take it.
But not right now. We'll be "receiving" the Ring later, and it'll be ridiculous when we get there.
: Kelik, if you could have an audience with me later...
: ...If you wish, Duke Paul.
Suddenly, Castle Magnus. I should point out that we're still in the pre-chapter plot stuff. We haven't even hit the prep screen yet.
You'd be forgiven for forgetting which one is which. Goodness knows, I'll be having trouble keeping track as it is.
: It's rare that I see all three of you assembled before me. I hope you've enjoyed a taste of the luxuries of my new society. Your life the past month is what only the virtuous people will receive. After we conquer Blaine, only the good of society will survive--and flourish. With you at my sides, we'll eradicate the filth of this world.
Well, it's good to see that we're working with sympathetic villains here.
: ............My apologies, Generals. I did not call you here to preach you. Instead, I have some new orders for you to fulfill.
: Your Majesty, I've been waiting for orders. Make my duty to kill Zane, and I will fulfill my duty.
: General Zane will have to wait. In any case, your orders are first, Cabal.
So...Cabal Holton or Holton Cabal? Either way, that's still stupid.
: You must venture to Atheya and kill the leader of the Phora. He should be there now; however, if he were to join with the rebels, you would no longer be able to easily target him.
: Oh, him. He isn't quite the prey I look forward to killing. But as you order. I will hunt down Chief Haas.
: You must stay here and defend Magnus. The leader of the rebellion is a former knight, but has lost his reason. Since Valencia borders Magnus, he might very well invade. You must prevent this and hold nothing back. We will use our best soldiers and weapons if need be. In the case that he does not attack, you shall build defenses along the borderline. I am also leaving you in charge of preparing the royal army. Understood?
: Yes, your Majesty. I shall see to it that we have no room for error.
: We will take Blaine and kill its ruler, to be replaced by you. General Zane would not leave his King defenseless at the castle. We must bait the King out of his castle and then ambush him. You can use any resources you want to execute such a plan.
: The rest is up to me, then?
: Yes, that's right. Failure is not an option...But in the case that something did not work out as intended...
So...failure is an option?
: ...come back to the Palace as soon as possible. Your ability to reinforce the strength and durability of weapons and armor with ether is one of our greatest assets. I would rather have General Holton take the front lines than risk having you use up too much of your energy, Galagar.
: So I shall kill Blaine, Holton shall hunt the Phoran Chief, Lanmark shall ready defenses, and if this does not work as planned, Holton shall take the front lines, and Lanmark and I will prepare the army.
: Yes... If nothing else, the rebels are quick. They travel hastily and fight like madmen. If we could corner them and make them fight on our terms, this would be as easy as sending one of you to finish them off...
: Please do not worry, Your Majesty. We shall all do as you have told us.
: If that is the case... Then my Imperial Generals, you are now dismissed.
: I'll ensure that it does. For my country. My people. I must eradicate all of the inferior society... Before they send this continent to the bottom of the ocean.
Care to explain that further? No? Of course not. The one statement that I'd like to have explained in full detail, and he goes all vague on us.
: ...A heaven seal. You had one in your possession?
: In our secret vaults, yes. Not even Magnus could locate it.
: Why for me? I'm considered a commander, but it's just a title. Yet there are only so many of these to exist. There are so many knights who could make better use of this. I don't mean to be rude, but you should reconsider...
: Kelik. You don't have to be a knight to use a Heaven Seal. The Seven Heroes of the Falling were said to use these seals. All it does is help unlock the power you already have within you.
: But you can't put me on the level of one of the Seven Heroes. They saved the humans from the brink of extinction.
: You're right, I can't.
I'm glad we agree.
: But I myself am not a great Duke or leader. I'm not big on proper etiquette, manners, and speech. I'm not even a great governor of my territory. Yet my Father passed this down to me. And if it is unused, it will serve as nothing more than a relic.
: ...I can't say I know how well you govern Aegis. Nor can I say that I want or need this emblem.
: It contains the soul of a friend I lost years ago. The very ether that comprised his mind and essence is in here.
: You mean to say it is an etherium?
: Yes. Etheriums are containers for ether that hold tremendous power. Obtaining one with the ether of a human life... is costly. I have enough responsibility with this much power alone.
Once again, we've seen this already. We don't need it explained again.
: But the fact that you don't seek out more sources of power shows that you are able enough to have power, but not misuse it. After all, whoever's soul has an attachment to that necklace, must also have an attachment to the person who uses it, no? My understanding of etheriums may indeed be limited, but I believe this much is true...
: Come on, Kelik. Why must you and General Siegfried be so stubborn at taking gifts?
It's part of what makes them so lovable.
: Alright, alright. I'll keep it with me, but I can't say I'll make use of it right away. Though someday, I may in fact needs(sic) its power, if I am to have any hope of defeating Leon...
: I trust you in that matter. Honestly, even Siegfried's son, Shon, may be able to use it... So even though I think that your time is now, you're free to do what you will, Kelik. Just know that.
: Thank you, Duke Paul.
: Think nothing of it. Even after this, I still haven't repayed you for saving Aegis. Best of luck to you, Anakin, General Siegfried, his son, and the rebellion.
: And best of luck to you in defending Aegis, Duke.
Don't think we're outside of Aegis Castle yet though.
: It's odd to see you here, defenseless, powerless.
: Has my time come?
: Your time for what?
: My punishment, for the wrongs I have done.
: Do you regret them? If you had the chance, would you correct yourself?
: I cannot correct my past. I can only change my future.
: Well said, Howard. I never expected to hear those words come from your mouth.
: Kelik told us everything, Howard. I didn't know what to think at first. I was too bewildered to be angry, or sentimental, or anything.
What are you, twelve?
: But if you're willing, then I'm willing too.
: Howard. Would you join us? If you've truly had a change of heart, I offer you a chance to show it. I know our soldiers won't have an easy time fighting with you. But as long as you stay loyal to your words, we have no problem.
: ...Please. Let me fight.
: I... can't take the guilt. The guilt of everything that I have so foolishly done for my Majesty.
: ...Cia is brave, isn't she? Even when fighting against an enemy General, she saw the good in you. If not for her, you might be dead now. Instead, you'll join us on the battlefield and fight alongside us. ...Fate is unpredictable, isn't it.
: Siegfried... Trust in me. I will do everything in my power to resist Magnus... I can no longer feign ignorance of its deeds. Heed my oath. I will surrender this life to peace and redemption.
Obviously, this conversation goes differently too. Considerably so.
: Has my time come?
: ...No, not yet. I've decided to keep you here, where you endanger no one. For whatever reason, I've spared you. I've shown no other General such mercy, and yet... Perhaps you can reflect on yourself, here, as I wage war against your comrades.
: ...I see. True mercy is in death, not suffering in life. I only wished you would kill me now, as I am.
: You haven't changed, Howard. It's unfortunate. Maybe rotting in here will let you see the error of your thinking. Farewell, Howard. We will never see each other again.
That good old-fashioned Siegfried charm. Nothing like telling the person you're going to throw in jail for the rest of his days that you're off to kill all of his comrades too. Class act.
And for lack of a narrator, Blazer just decided to skip all the traveling to Blaine. Let's just assume that absolutely nothing important happened in the space of an entire month.
: Anakin, you have it easy. My horse has it the toughest!
: Oh, Shon... When you become older, you'll see how tiresome it is...
: You act like you're a senior citizen, Anakin. Does that even count as laziness?
: I'm sure Anakin would agree with me, but he's too out of breath...
: Anakin, you yourself could use some motivation.
: Hah, that's right! "It's not laziness, it's a lack of motivation." Isn't that what you say all the time, Anakin?
: You two sure are in a mocking mood.
: Wait! Anakin! I'm sorry!
Yeah, the idea that Shon has the mind of a twelve-year old is starting to make more and more sense.
: I guess Shon didn't realize Anakin was just playing along... Well, anyway... Levion, how close are we to the castle?
: ...Right. I think we could use a break. Mind telling Siegfried?
: As you wish.
But all is not well with the Blainian (Blainish? Blainoid? Blainesmen?) army.
: They're trying to trick us by posing as rebels again... I must inform General Zane about this!
Way to spoil the surprise, fella.
: Damn, we need a break! What is it this time?
: I spotted a group of Magnians posing as rebels again. They bear no definitive flag or mark amongst them.
: Tch! They must think that we hadn't yet figured out their plan. The defeat of our entire 2nd division was because they were ambushed by fake rebels. The whole rebellion is probably a ruse set up by Magnus--completely imaginary. I'll inform the King and send him to safety elsewhere. You go and commence the battle preparations. We'll make our stand here!
: Yes sir!
: Another group of rebellion imposters has come to take this castle. Please, let us hurry you to safety!
: Urgh! Not again! Those Magnian scoundrels...! It seems I can trust no one but you, Zane. I will head to the secret fortress. You stay here and defend against the invaders.
: Your Majesty! Please give me leave to travel with you! I could never feel at ease without you by my side.
Yes yes, obvious joke. I'm not even touching that.
: I do not wish it this way; however, you are my most skilled and powerful soldier, Zane. I will not waste your skills protecting me.
: Your Majesty...
: General Zane, if your situation becomes too dire, surrender. I would be tainted with misery if you were to fall.
: Your Majesty, I am your soldier. As kind as you are, it is my duty to fight to the death. I must leave now to prepare for the battle. Leopold, please take good care of the King.
Oh, it's a polygamous relationship. Quite progressive.
Dangit! I said I wouldn't, but it's just too easy...
: That is undoubtedly what I heard it to be. I presume that Blaine takes us as the enemy.
: Us? The enemy? No way...
: As ridiculous as that is, it seems that way. Their formation, numbers, and weapons convey hostility. There must be some confusion here...
: Their spears come before their words. Perhaps if we can make them surrender...
: Blaine should be on our side! What has happened?! If they actually attack us, we'll have no choice but to attack back!
: We don't have time to figure this out. We have to defend ourselves!
And that was the pre-battle plot. All of that nonsense that we just went through is just the stuff before the battle even begins. So if you're still awake, please join me...
Next Time: Plot, Fighting, then more Plot.