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PostPosted: Sat Sep 3, '11, 6:56 pm
Chapter 2: Back into Obscurity

There was something breathtaking about the grassy plains of Elysium as viewed from several hundred feet above. Ryan insisted to his fellow rebels that he avoided going through the Divisia whenever possible because he preferred the quiet solace and fresh air that a hike through Elysium highlands offered. Today was no different, save the little fact that there was no more war going on and that his return to the cave was to disband the rebellion, rather than planning yet another ambush against Lune’s forces.

All of that was thankfully in the past. The Layan-Orakian Alliance, led by Prince Nial of Landen, had succeeded in defeating Lune’s forces and, more importantly, the near-immortal general himself. Furthermore, Nial had chosen to marry Alair—for what reason, Ryan couldn’t quite figure out—thus guaranteeing that the end of the war would be definitive and not just an uncomfortable cease-fire. Ryan sort of wondered if Nial had chosen Alair for that very reason: to keep an eye on Lune, whom, truth to be told, neither of the two trusted. But beyond that, Alair was so beautiful that even Laya stood dwarfed in her presence, and Nial being a young man above all, might’ve been attracted more to her beauty than to Laya’s power.

Not that it really mattered, since Ryan’s purpose had been fulfilled. He had fought the good fight and now there would be peace between the two peoples. That is really what mattered to him: peace.

Gazing at the low, rolling emerald hills below him, Ryan remembered the violent ambushes and skirmishes that had been fought between him and Lune’s genocidal forces. He had first fought those alongside his own warriors, who had sided with him when he declared that the destruction of Satera was an affront to Laya’s memory. Then, when he had met Nial, he found in the young man a mirror in that both wanted peace. In the name of a greater ideal, they strived against the forces of Lune in those same green plains, spilling blood because they needed to, not because they wanted to. Fortunately, the natural beauty that was Elysium would soon be graced by the absence of conflict once more.

It was still half a day’s journey back to the Rebel Cave, where the remainder of his forces had remained after he joined Nial’s party. Ryan walked carefully along the rocky trail, splitting his thoughts between his concentration on not making a false step, which would result in his plummeting to his demise, and the same thought that had plagued him since his victory against Lune: What now?

Ryan tried to formulate numerous plans of what he would do with his life. Nial had invited him to be an adviser on Dahlia, although he had turned it down, using the excuse that he was “too claustrophobic to stay on the lonely moon for too long.” He could always move into Divisia, since news of his role in ending the war would inevitably reach the city and he’d be welcomed by the people. He could always stay at the cave; he was sure that Yumi, his favorite samurai, wouldn’t mind giving him company there.

None of those possibilities seemed to resonate with him, though. Maybe because he felt that there was still far too much to do in order to repair the damages caused by the war. He could always present himself to King Rhys of Landen and offer to help rebuild Satera or—

The idea hit him: As soon as he finished disbanding the rebels, he would go back to Frigidia. His thoughts recalled the haunting image of the young Layan girl who had died of exposure to the cold less than a month before. He did not know what had become of those marginalized citizens of Mystoke and, since Laya had decided to go back into her cryogenic sleep, there still wasn’t anyone to stand up for them. He was not sure what exactly he could do for them.

Maybe he could help them reinstall themselves in the Mystoke Castle, or maybe move everybody over to Elysium. He could convince Nial to accept them, since there were not that many subjects to rule over on Dahlia to begin with.

His mind was quickly brought back to reality by the sound of rocks rolling down the face of the mountain a short distance behind him. Carefully, Ryan turned around to see if there was any creature prowling around near him. By the time he turned around, the brief commotion brought on by gravity’s greedy pull had come to an end, leaving only stillness it its wake. Ryan removed his shades and squinted at the side of the mountain, but found no sign of life, human or monster, in the area.

He negotiated the narrow path cut into the side of the mountain until it started to grow a little wider. Ryan’s nerves relaxed as he stepped into the more stable portion of the trail, where he’d have a little more elbow room. Running his hand through his jet black hair, the Layan dragon knight let out a loud sigh.

In response came a soft sound of something scraping against the rocky side of the mountain just below the edge of the footpath. Ryan stood in one spot, simply observing the edge of the trail, waiting to see if anyone—or anything—would climb onto the ledge. The scraping continued, but nothing showed itself.

Ryan inched slowly to the edge of the trail and looked down. A bright flash of light immediately blinded him. Suddenly, Ryan felt a searing pain in his belly, causing him to groan and stumble backwards and fall. To his horror, he saw a large sword sticking out of his stomach. His clothes were already soaked in the blood that flowed out of the wound.

A large shadow fell over him. Looking up, Ryan saw an amazon standing over him, glaring at him with a cruel smile etched into her face. It was the same one whom he had confronted at the gates of the Mystoke Castle just a few weeks before.

“That’s for my sister,” she said intensely.

Ryan reached for his staff, but the warrior maiden quickly kicked it out of his grasp and pinned in his hand to the ground with her steel heel, causing him to how loudly. Only partially regaining his senses, the dragon knight barked, “The war is over!” He knew that his declaration would be fruitless, as the amazon was obviously motivated by something other than Layan patriotism.

“I know. But Lune’s orders to stop the war never settled our little feud.” The amazon knelt down and ran her index finger across his soaking wet garments and licked it. “I think we can call it even now.”

Ryan tried to force himself up, but a swift kick to his chest kept him helpless. “You…you…just wait until Lune finds out!”

The amazon let out a screeching, bird-like cackle. “And who’s going to tell him? You? I don’t think so,” she started condescendingly; “You’re going to die out here in obscurity. Nobody—not even your Orakian friends—will ever no what happened here.”

Trying to tune out the forcefulness of her words, Ryan focuses his energies into performing a technique to at rid himself of his enemy, but the amazon noticed and quickly rammed the sword farther into his gut, intensifying his pain.

“Oh no, you don’t,” taunted the maiden. “In a few hours I’ll be rejoining the ranks of Dahlia’s army, sharing war stories with your old friends and enemies, while you rot out in the open. The valkyries and other amazons and I will dedicate a glass of wine to my fallen sister, while everybody assumed that the great dragon knight Ryan went his way just as mysteriously as he appeared.”

With that, the amazon thrust her foot across his face, shattering his jaw and knocking him onto his side. With a triumphant shriek, she disappeared down the mountain trail.

Ryan lay inert on the mountain trail, one side of his face buried in the earth, blood running quietly from his mouth and mingling with the dust. He had no more energy left to do much of anything, except to wait for death to overtake him.

It came slowly, but was soon embraced. The sounds of the wind rushing down the side of the mountain grew more distant. The pain that had tormented him so much just moments before gave way to numbness. His vision grew dim. Within a few moments, Ryan closed his eyes and went to sleep.
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