The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter X
Note: The date in this world is 4119. Also, the plot begins to take shape in this chapter, things will move a lot quicker from this point.
The Vagrant had successfully beached itself on the shores of the Timber country, since the main city itself didn't have a canal or port to dock at. The captain beached the boat and allowed the Pack to jump off of the bow onto the shores below. Each soldier had gathered their things and jumped happily onto the beach, some waving at the captain in thanks. He wished them good luck on their journey home, and after the male Wolves had helped push the boat back into the water, he reversed into the sea and went back to whatever mission they had previously been on. Raine thanked Hyne above that they had been rescued so easily, they could have been trapped in Esthar for a long time.
Corin ran up to the land at top speed, dropping his bags for a moment. He got down on his knees and buried his face into the ground below, causing the Wolves to look strangely at him. "Ah, Mother Galbadia at last! I missed ya babe!"
"Dincht," Raine began, a worried look on her face, "this is Timber. Galbadia doesn't begin for a few hundred miles."
Corin got up and gathered his belongings, and glanced sheepishly at the Wolves. "Yeah, I knew that! I... uh... see it's still the same continent!" He began to scratch the back of his head in embarrassment. "So, technically... oh hell, just stop looking at me that way!"
Lilliana and Andraia laughed at him, and continued to walk after their leader, who was already hiking up the banks to Timber City. Corin jogged after them, catching up before they left him behind. Raine had told them before they jumped off the boat that they would hike up to Timber and rendezvous with the soldiers stationed there. They then would proceed to get their cars back, and drive home to Deling City. If they were lucky, they could get back home by dawn the next day. Luckily for them, Timber wasn't to far away from the shores, so they didn't have to worry about being encountered by any wandering monsters.
The team climbed up a cliff which was too steep to hike over, but not very tall. After reaching the top, it was only a few hundred yards to Timber's outer walls. They jogged excitedly to the nearest gateway system, which was opened quickly for them by the two guards stationed atop the six-inch thick stone wall that was used to keep monsters and invaders out. Andraia and Lilliana waved to the guards in thanks, and hurried up to catch the rest of the Pack which had rushed by without a look to the guards at all.
After ascending to the main store complex, which held item stores and weapon junk shops as well as a hotel, they spotted one of the guards that had taken their vehicles into storage until they returned. As he saw Raine and Edea approach him, he was shocked to say the least. Rarely anyone that went to Esthar from Galbadia now-a-days returned alive, none the less unscathed. He stammered for a moment then responded.
"M-Major Leonhart? Uh.. it's good to see you've gotten out of Esthar." He responded, still in shock at the sight of the team alive, "What can I do for you, Ma'am?"
Raine folded her arms and looked at him sternly, "My team is returning to Deling City. Where did you place our vehicles? We came here in a red '18 Jeep Wrangler and a red and white '02 Mustang."
He nodded in return and pointed to a warehouse just behind the Timber barracks. "Your vehicles were taken to warehouse 2. Follow this path to the left and you should have no problems getting back there."
Raine thanked him, then whistled at her soldiers. They quickly assembled behind her and followed her as she passed the new Timber Maniacs building and went into the guarded military district behind it. Timber's army was a bit smaller than Dollet's, which meant it was significantly smaller than Deling's, Helios' and Esthar's. Only Balamb had a smaller army than Timber. Winhill and Fisherman's Horizon had long since been passive countries, and didn't have any armed forces since they were both too small. Winhill, however, was often guarded by a small town militia. Luckily for Galbadia, Balamb and Dollet were giving the armed forces all of their support, while Timber silently co-operated with operations that needed to be carried out on Timber lands. But with Helios allying itself with Esthar, the battles would grow much more bloody. And since Helios had airships, a strike on the capitol could happen at any time without warning.
Raine and the others ascended up the stairway which led up to the military warehouses, showing each guard their dog tags to show that they were cleared to enter. Most of the Timber soldiers stationed at the warehouse section must have been rookies or cadets, because they looked completely shocked and amazed that Galbadians were actually back there with them. Some looked on at them with disgust in their eyes. Timber hadn't exactly been to happy with their involvement in the war. They were afraid that the Eastern forces would soon attack them for letting the Galbadians pass through their city and into Esthar, and blamed the Galbadians for much of their suffering. Raine hoped that conflicts between the two wouldn't escalate into a full-scale war or rebellion.
They entered the spacious warehouse that held their vehicles. Inside were of course their two cars, along with a few Timber terrain vehicles and even a helicopter gunship. After restraining Julia from making a full speed charge towards the armed helicopter, Raine ordered her team back into their respected vehicles for the return to Deling. She and the other females piled back into Andraia's Mustang, in a similar arrangement that they were in before on their ride over. The men did a similar thing, having more room since there were only four of them, opposed to the six females crammed in one car.
Raine signaled for the males to pull out ahead of them, and watched as the Jeep sped out of the warehouse entryway and towards the main highway. She tapped Andraia on the shoulder, and she too pulled her car out to follow them back to Deling. Raine sighed happily, knowing everyone came back from this dangerous mission okay, and sank back down into the front seat as Andraia tried to catch up with the guys.
It was late into the night now, and it was easily midnight judging from the darkness of the night sky. Everyone besides Edea, who was now in charge of driving the car for an hour or so, then would switch with Lilliana, who was next on the shift. The four girls in the back: Celeste, Andraia and Lilliana had fallen asleep at around 10:30, while the girls in the front: Julia (who now awkwardly slept on the CD holder lid, her head resting on the top of the passenger seat while her legs stretched over Edea's legs), and Raine (who was now curled up on her side facing the door, her head on the actual door while her body was funnily half on the seat and half off.) had fallen asleep about a half hour ago, leaving the Sorceress the only person awake in the whole car.
They could all be cute sometimes, Edea thought to herself, when they weren't biting each other's heads off. Looking around, she could tell they were roughly a hundred miles to Deling City, and would reach the capitol at about dawn or sooner if they were lucky. She just prayed that they could all go back to their homes for some rest, and not go on another mission like usual.
The quietness made Edea think to herself, so she wouldn't get bored. I don't think I belong in the army. I'm supposed to be the passive one here, not the one who commits herself to a life of violence. I wonder how many children I orphaned over in Esthar? I pity them. I wish this whole war would just end, it is serving no purpose at all, just destruction. No one even knows how this pointless war even got started, so why are we even in battle? All we know is that Esthar suddenly, without reason, began to build up its military and threaten to wipe out the Western powers. There must be someone motivating them. I guess it has to be Adel. But, what if she's working for someone herself? .... No wonder everyone fears Sorceresses. I don't blame them, we can be extremely evil sometimes. I just wish they wouldn't give me dangerous glances all of the time, it scares me. What scares me even more is when people run from me, or call me a child-murderer or worse. At least I have a circle of friends who will protect me. They're like my pseudo-knights I guess. Which reminds me, I should find a real one soon.
Edea laughed at that though. No, I don't think I'll ever really find one. No one knew me before I was a Sorceress aside from Raine, and she's not exactly my type or anything. Men don't like me because I'm a sorceress, that's the problem. Oh well, I'm fine on my own. I always have been, and I always will be. We've been feared ever since the ancient Centran Wars millennia ago, nothing will ever change.
I was always teased and exiled by my fellow people as a child, and still am as a matter of fact. When I was a child they always made fun of me, especially when I was learning to keep my powers under control from my old mentor, Sasha. I remember her always looking out for me, even my parents didn't quite understand what it was like for me to be a sorceress, so it was up to her to guide me. She had such pretty platinum colored blonde hair and dark blue eyes that looked purple in the right light. She was a sorceress herself, though she never told anyone.
Until that day... Edea stopped her thoughts, blocking out the bad memories. They came anyway, too strong to be repressed. She remember that day, when she was only about eleven years old. She, Raine and Julia had returned home from school to see the main town plaza in an uproar. The people in Deling City were still against magic users then, though now they relied on them more than any other soldier in the field. It was a funny twist of fate. Edea watched as a group of vigilantes took a handcuffed Sasha up onto a large platform in the center of the city. They declared that she was a sorceress, and deserved to die. At this, Edea began to run up and try to free her, but was stopped by Raine and Julia. They told her that if she tried to help, she too would end up dead.
The three girls looked on in disgust as law officials did nothing while they whipped Sasha across the back and legs, and were in fact cheering the vigilantes on. They un-cuffed the thirty-year old sorceress and tied her up onto one of the statues nearby, in the same kind of style one would use to crucify someone. Her blue eyes spotted Edea in the crowd then, and she looked so scared and nervous. Edea remembered receiving a telepathic message that only sorceresses could hear. Please Edea, never tell anyone of your powers. Look at what happens. Good-bye... I love you.
Edea burst out crying then, and once again tried to run up to the platform. Raine had to restrain her and put her in a headlock to keep her from going any further. The three girls turned away and began to run towards the upper-class district in the city. The last thing Edea could remember about that day was the sound of several gunshots.
She kept her eyes focused on the road ahead, and now she could make out Deling City's skyline in the distance. Her eyes were clouded over with tears, and she wiped them away before they could fall. Sasha was like a second mother to her, and losing her was almost unbearable. She had locked herself in her room for a week, completely inconsolable. Even Raine and Julia couldn't do anything for her.
She looked over to Zion's Jeep, which was just slightly ahead of her. She could see Corin and Epsilon sleeping in the back, while Zion and Lancer were talking in the front. Trying to forget the bad memories, she put them aside for now, and continued to race towards the Galbadian capitol for the chance to rest.
Zion and Edea pulled into the parking lot of the base sooner than expected. They woke everyone up, telling them that they were finally home. After retrieving their things from the back of each car, they started to walk off into the dorm area of the base. Each guard that was on the graveyard shift that night was shocked to see them back so soon. After greeting any of the guards that crossed their paths, they each return to their respective dorms and went to bed for the night for well deserved rest.
Or at least that's what Julia could remember. She had woken up at about three in the morning, just in time to see Edea and Zion pull into the parking garage. She had literally ran back to her dorm and fallen asleep, leaving her weapons and equipment piled sloppily on the floor (which is what she usually did anyway). Not even bothering to change out of her combat gear, she fell asleep face-first into her bed.
Now it was morning, and she just taken a shower and changed into black jeans and a red tanktop for the day. They had apparently been allowed to sleep in today, because it was almost noon by the time she woke up. She figured that by now everyone was in the lounge as usual, and Raine had given her mission report to Reinhart early in the morning. Deciding to join them, she exited her room and wandered into the hall.
Before she had a chance to go to the lounge, she heard a clank come from Raine's dorm, which was right across the hall from hers. Knocking briefly, then opening the door, she saw Raine in her combat gear, a large backpack filled with equipment at her side. She was sharpening her katana while sitting on her bed, and looked surprised to see Julia there. She looked up to the staff user with her blue eyes, expecting an outburst.
It came. "Raine, what the hell...? Oh God, we don't have another mission do we! No, no, no, no, no! I refuse, absolutely no way am I going anywhere for a week! We will stay home and play video games and watch TV like normal teenagers for once!"
Raine set down her katana on the floor and told Julia to sit down. Julia plopped on the bed in front of her with a sullen expression, she knew something was wrong. "No Julia, we don't have a mission right now. I gave my report to Reinhart already, and he said he was happy with the results. Don't worry, you aren't being penalized for disobeying my orders about that grenade launcher."
Julia laughed, "Great. Wait a second... if we don't have a mission, why are you dressed up like you're going to war?"
"Because I am." Raine said seriously, her eyes darkening with a hint of sadness. "You said you wanted to know why I looked so sad on the way to Esthar right?" After seeing Julia nod curiously, she continued. "Well, this is why. Before I moved to Deling, I lived in a small town on Centra called Caran. It was destroyed by a very powerful magic user when I was six years old. My parents, and almost everyone in the town, was killed on the spot. Only my uncle, another little boy, and myself survived. Until recently I didn't know who it was that destroyed Caran or why. When in Esthar, I fought -- briefly-- with that red headed guy named Virados. That was the person who destroyed my town, I'm sure. He said back then that he wanted the Shaduna."
"The Shaduna?" Julia interrupted, "I've never heard of that. What is it?"
"Me either. But he wanted it badly." Raine replied sadly. "Anyway, when I was fighting Satori for the first time, I experienced this kind of super-limit break power or something. I never had a more powerful attack before, I killed two guys instantly and opened Satori's side with no effort at all. Not to mention cut through a good amount of reinforced steel. I think I might be whatever he wanted in Caran. I made a pact years ago that if I found him, I would go seek out revenge for the death of my loved ones. I'm leaving for Helios to find him and kill him."
"What?!" Julia burst out, angry at this news. "No, I'm not gonna let you do that! This guy sounds way to strong for you to tackle by yourself, Raine. Despite what you did in Esthar, this guy is out of your league! Look... maybe Edea or Celeste know what this Shaduna thing is. They're smart, so probably... right?"
Raine hung her head. "Fine, I'll ask them. If they don't know, I'm still going. I think I'm just going to go either way. That man deserves to die after what he did to all those people, and I'm not going to let him get away with it."
Julia stood up and dragged Raine out of the room. They began to walk off towards the lounge. "Of course you won't! I won't let you go by yourself, you stubborn woman. If you leave, I'm sure the rest of the Pack will too, or at least I will."
"Yeah, thanks but no thanks. This isn't your or their fight. It's mine, and I'll deal with it myself. There's always the chance one of you would get killed, and I don't want to face that."
"Okay, well I don't want to face your death either you jerk!" Julia replied, and entered the lounge with Raine in tow, who was still trapped in Julia's iron grip. They entered the upper lounge, and saw most of the Pack gathered around one of their usual tables. They looked at the two women strangely and they approached.
Epsilon raised on of his eyebrows at the two of them. "Okay, who did what to whom?"
"Ugh, shut up, this is important!" Julia countered him and looked to Edea and Celeste. "Do either of you know what a Shaduna is? If you do you've got to tell us right now! It can't wait!"
Edea and Celeste looked to each other with confusion. Celeste looked up to the two of them with a look of remorse. "No, I've never heard of that before. Oh! But that suffix duna, that means knight in the old Mysidian tongue... I think. It's an old language and no one really speaks it anymore. Sorry."
Julia turned to Raine, "There, its a knight! Are you a knight? No! You're staying here, and that is that!"
Lilliana glanced at Raine with a worried look, "Leaving? Whoa, back up for just a second! Where is Raine going?"
"Raine threatened to leave to go after the man we saw in Esthar. She thinks he's the guy who destroyed her hometown a long time ago!" Julia informed, receiving an annoyed look from Raine. "But she's not going anywhere because we're keeping her here, right?"
"Well of course we are!" Andraia said with an unusual air or seriousness around her voice, "Raine, revenge is never the answer, you know that! Besides, that guy was the high mokey-moke of whatever he was for! He's got to have limitless guards! Maybe you'll meet him on a future mission and can kill him then, o-okay? Come on Raine you can't leave us!"
"Excuse me?" A new voice stepped in. The team turned around to find the female sniper from the Excalibur unit behind them. Epsilon smiled at her, admiring how pretty she was. Red, wavy hair cascaded down her shoulders and blue eyes seemed to glance quickly but shyly at them all. Julia recognized her as Jun, a well heard of soldier and intelligence officer. "I couldn't help hearing you talk about the Shaduna and the Mysidians. Before the army I used to study them. Can I help?"
"Do you know what the Shaduna is?" Raine asked, relieved that someone might actually know about it. Now she was so much closer to discovering her past.
"Yes," Jun replied with a smile, "the Shaduna was by legend one of the chosen knights of the god Shajuk. In Mysidian legends, Shajuk and Tyran were the head gods, while Hyne was an evil god that was thrown out of the realm of the immortal because of his evil ways. To combat Hyne, Shajuk and Tyran appointed two people extraordinary powers. Shajuk's knight was called the Shaduna, while Tyran's was called the Tyraduna."
"Wait. Tyraduna... I've heard that before too. This guy said that no one was to oppose his Tyraduna." Raine interrupted as the thought entered her mind.
Jun thought for a moment, "The two Dunas often were on different sides if I remember right. But its just a legend, it shouldn't really exist."
Corin raised his hand. "Hold up. I'm lost. Uh... who exactly are the Mysidians? The name doesn't strike a bell with me."
"A long time ago, before the Lunar Cry that destroyed Centra, the continent had two halves. The Southern Island was home to Centrans, our ancestors. The Northern Island on the other hand, was home to the Mysidians. These people were powerful magic users and were much more advanced than the Centran Empire. The two races got into a large war long ago, but I don't know much more than that. I'm sorry."
"No, thank you so much!" Raine said happily. "One more thing. Do you know what this is?" Raine lifted up the sleeve to her blue shirt and showed her sword/cross mark to Jun. Julia saw this mark and her eyes widened in horror. She had a similar mark during that vision she had before they went to Esthar. Jun shook her head in response. Raine nodded and Jun left to go back to the rest of the Excalibur unit.
"Are you still gonna go? You know what it is now." Julia asked, a worried look on her face.
Raine shrugged, "I don't know. I'm still confused about all of this and Virados still deserves to die. But what about that Tyraduna? It's supposed to be evil according to her, or at least be on the opposite side. Maybe I'll have to kill that too."
"Don't." Edea warned, putting a hand on Raine's shoulder. "No good will come of this, I can feel it. Andraia's right, if you are destined to face Virados, then you'll meet him on your own. Please Raine, think about how absurd this all sounds!"
Raine crossed her arms and looked sternly at each one of them. She was silent for a good minute before she decided to respond. "Fine. I'll stay, but if that guy gets into my path then I don't care, I'm going after him no matter the cost. I don't really want you to follow me when I do, either. I don't want to worry about you guys dieing on me anytime soon."
"Come on Raine," Zion spoke up, "Lancer and I may be new to the Pack, but we can already tell that these guys would follow you to hell and back before giving up on you. I'm sure Lance and I feel the same way."
When Lancer nodded his agreement, the intercom went off. As it crackled for a moment, they heard the following orders:
Attention, would team SE-10 Excalibur and SE-12 Wolf Pack please report to Colonel Reinhart's office. Repeat...
Lilliana put her hands over her ears and shouted out as loud as she could. "La, la, la, la, la! I can't hear that! No way am I going this time! Do you hear that Reinhart! No mission for the Pack!"
Raine sighed and clenched her fist. This had better be good Colonel, or I'm going to slice out your esophagus! And this time I've got ten soldiers to back me up! She turned around and ordered her Pack to follow her. Together, they walked down the ever familiar hall of dread that led to Colonel Reinhart's office. What would be waiting for them when they arrived, Raine did not know.