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Xarkly

A Commander's Sacrifice

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Spoiler

 

 

 

“Well. I suppose it was a success, then.” 

 

Stood atop the enormity of the Ice Wall itself, Serris of Deep Harbour’s words rang hollow in her own ears. She was only dimly aware of the powerful shriek of the wind as it attempted to pull her to her death, though her sole attention was on a blurred cluster of lights, far below her. She had to squint through the flurried veil of falling snow even to make out the vague silhouette of Lasthope’s towers. She did not really need to see, though – she could imagine the scene perfectly well. Even over the howl of the wind she could hear the din of cheers as the Descendant armies celebrated their victory.

 

Apparent victory, a voice in her head corrected, and she grit her teeth. She could not help. Every time thoughts of the Battle of Lasthope entered her mind, she could not help but remind herself that the Descendant’s only thought this was a grand, final victory for them. She would have liked to pretend that she did not know why she kept having to tell herself that, but that would have been a lie. She knew full well. She knew full well that she told herself that because otherwise she would not be able to live with herself. So many Vaeyl dead, sacrificed, in the name of a greater plan. Toryff, Hythar, Yvn ... all dead, now. Yvn especially pained her -- the two of them had been close friends ever since enlisting in the Order, many centuries ago. It was hard to believe that Serris had spoken to Yvn for the final time just minutes before the Descendants began their assault, knowing full well that they would never meet again.

 

”You can’t hesitate, Serris,” Yvn said. She was one of the only other women in the Order that Serris had not come to resent as soft, yet she spoke with a disarmingly silky voice. “You can’t have second thoughts now.”

 

Serris was stood before a low-burning fireplace. The dying flames and embers danced as warped light on the surface of her burnished bronze mail. She had her longsword in hand, and was unconsciously twisting holes in the floorboards with its sharpened point. “I feel like a coward,” she whispered through a clenched jaw.

 

“You’re not a coward,” Yvn said stiffly, if with a touch of exasperation. It was not the first time the two of them had this conversation since they first formulated their plan for the Siege. Serris knew it would not be the last time these thoughts plagued her mind, either, but it was made worse knowing that Yvn would not be there next time her guilt got the better of her. Yvn would not even be alive.

 

“The plan be damned, Yvn, I am a coward,” she snapped with much vigour than she had intended. “I’m leaving you all behind her to die for a plan that might not even work.”

 

For a brief moment, Serris thought Yvn would answer with sympathy, but instead came fire. “You’re a commander, not a coward.” She barked and marched over to Serris from the other side of the room, the old floorboars creaking under the weight of her heavy snow boots. “And commanders must make sacrifices beyond those of ordinary soldiers. You’re only a coward if you can’t follow through on that.”

 

“That’s not the same at all!” Rage spurning her muscles, she drilled her sword an inch into the floor as she whirled around to face Yvn.”You’re lying down your lives for this plan, while my role is to run! Like a gutless coward, my only task in this plan is to stay alive! While the rest of you ...”

 

”You misunderstand.” Yvn’s voice had softened so quickly it took Serris by surprise. “It is easier to give up your life for the greater good, rather than have to watch all your brothers and sisters-in-arms die while you must continue forward, and fulfill the duty that the rest of us cannot.”

 

The rage in Serris’ throat began to falter, and she felt a strange tugging at her eyes. It had been many years - decades - since she felt that tug, but she knew full well what it meant. “We can forget the plan. We can hold off the Invaders right here, right now. One quick order to Hythar, and his Stormsingers will strike their siege engines to smoking dust. Then all we have to --“ She cut off when Yvn lay a gauntleted hand on her shoulder.

 

”Serris,” the other woman said firmly. “You know it has to be this way. We could hold them off, yes, but what then? They’d try again, and again, and we’d be here for years.”

 

”We’d cripple their army,” she interjected.

 

”And then what? We march north, and put all their citizens to the sword? Farmers, craftsmen, children?” Yvn shook her head. “It has to be this way. Only by following the plan can we win Atlas back.”

 

”Win Atlas back for who?” Serris said coarsely. “It will cost so many of our lives to see it done.”

 

Yvn tilted her head inquisitively. “And do you believe any Vaeyl would hesitate to lay down their lives for Atlas? This has been a thousand years in the making, Serris. Do you know what a meaningful death means to our people?” Serris tried to answer, but her throat had gone dry. Yvn squeezed her shoulder. “It was to be this way, Serris. You’re no coward – you’re a commander. Promise me you won’t forget that.”

 

”I’m no coward,” she whispered as she watched the Descendant armies celebrate at the ruins of Lasthope, breath rising from her helmet as the snowstorm bore down on them. “I’m a commander!” She roared into the wind, before she took off at a march down along the ice wall, the thick, glassy ice firmed by her cleated boots.

 

She did not know how long she walked, but eventually she left the ruins of Lasthope, and the cheers of the enemy army, behind her. She marched, fists clenched, white-fur cloak billowing in the wind behind her. Finally, she spotted figures standing atop the wall in the distance. She continued, placing a fist above her heart. “Peace and Fire,” she bellowed over the gales.

 

“Peace and Fire,” the other figure – a male Vaeyl – responded as she drew nearer. “Did everything go according to plan, Commander Serris?”

 

She glanced over her shoulder, though Lasthope had longed since vanished in the fog of the blizzard. Slowly, she nodded. “Yes. Everything went as planned. It was … it was a bittersweet victory.” But a victory nonetheless. That’s what Yvn would say.

 

The other Vaeyl nodded. “Good. Shall we make for Caer Caedris then? There’s still much to be done.”

 

“Yes. Yes.” It took her a moment, but finally Serris took her gaze from the direction of Lasthope. She was surprised when a painful pang of guilt lanced through her, though only for a moment; she knew this was goodbye. The Red Vaeyl, her friends, her family, were no more, sacrificed for a greater good. I promise. I promise it won’t be in vain. She grit her teeth. “Lead the way.”

 

The other Vaeyl nodded. In the pale light, she could just about make out the unblemished, White Eye painted on his armour.

 

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Rhys var Ruthern watches over the ruins of Last Hope, waiting to hear word from Brog about further expedition over the wall. “It was to easy, now the Vaeyl still hide on the other side of the wall, but we’ll come for them they can’t hide from us.” Rhys turns away from the ruins making his way make to the now almost empty Crows Nest to await Brog.

 

Prince Marius sits in the palace, digging through some old chests looking for his favorite book, the ‘Tales of King Andrew’. His hands brushes something hard and metal, “Whats this?” Marius slowly lifts the heavy object from the chest. Its a bronze Waraxe, it looked very old and hasn’t been touched in years. Not wanting his mother to take it away, Marius locks the chest and has his servants slides it into his room.

Edited by Imperium

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Evar'tir looked over the walls at the duo of Vaeyl soldiery that was captured from Last Hope. Chuckling lightly, he watched for a moment further, before turning to one of the Talarehian plated men standing watch. 

"Let them toil. Let them break and lose faith. Everyone has a breaking point, and I assure you that we will find theirs."

The 'Ker then offered a light smile, before turning, striding towards the main building within the military bastion.

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