|Louise & Yuka K.|
| Book: |
Be Careful What You Wish For, Chapter 15a
|Written by||Vanishing Trooper|
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Be Careful What
You Wish For
Chapter 15a: Interlude 2: The Six Left Behind R:2
Author's Notes: The good news is that I've finished Yakuza 4. Awesome game by the way, Akiyama is awesome. The other side of the coin is that the chapter itself is still in the works. This update is another interlude that I thought up while I was playing Pokemon Black. The point of this interlude is to give a prologue to the Tarbes invasion as well as to do a test run on how well I could write a multi-perspective battle with several characters at once. Please give your opinions on how well I did and if you have any criticisms or suggestions on how to improve a sequence like that, please voice them as they will go a long way to improving the battle in the next chapter.
To address another matter. Some readers have pointed out how seemingly overpowered Louise's team is becoming and are worried that every battle in the story would simply look like a Dynasty Warriors game. Understandable concerns but please rest assured that I will do everything I can to prevent that from happening. As a point, Ruukoto currently only has 'Start of game' equipment and abilities available to her, all the good stuff is locked down until Nitori can find a way around the locks. And for those who don't know, Fantasy Heaven is Reimu's strongest spell card. It is her one-shot-kill super in the fighting games and her Last Word in Imperishable Night. It was said to be so powerful that Reimu is rendered invincible while performing this spell. It was essentially the 'Haxx Sign: You Just Plan F-ing Lose' spell card. And yes, Ruukoto can emulate it to a degree.
Anyway, I'd tell you more about how I structured the battle on the next chapter but I'd be giving too much away, just wait and see. For now, I provide this little interlude starring the remaining members of Wardes' old squadron. I always wondered what became of the squad that he led back in the Griffin Knights Corps after he betrayed his country. I decided to write about them and this is the result.
I've read several complaints on reviews and the other sites I've posted this story on that this omake...well...sucked. I've overhauled it and I hope that this version lives up to your expectations.
For those who say that I've been losing focus of the story, I apologize if that is how it looks. I've always seen it as more of an 'expansion' on the story than anything. As I've pointed out before, this chapter is a TEST RUN. Practice. Because no matter what, I will not be able to avoid such a writing style in the next chapter. The next one will be the 'Season Finale' and I want it to be something really worth reading.
Don't worry, Louise and Yuka will have a lot of spotlight in the next chapter but other characters will also shine as well. That's simply unavoidable for a story that uses two series with a lot of characters.
As always, please enjoy~!
The Sixty-Sixth Griffin Knight Squadron of the Sixth Fleet of the Kingdom of Tristain fell into question and ridicule after what happened to their former Captain Wardes. The official report was that he died in the line of duty fulfilling a secret mission for Princess Henrietta. Of course, the rumor mill had other things to say about that.
Wardes defected to Albion!
The Captain of the Sixty-Sixth tried to secretly assassinate the Prince of Albion in order to curry favor to the current King of Albion!
Wardes was a traitor to our Kingdom!
The entire Sixty-Sixth are all probably traitors as well!
They should all be discharged and exiled before they bring any more shame to the Griffin Knights!
Obviously, their superiors and other high-ranking nobles got wind of this and decided to go along with the rumors as a way to 'pacify' the rest of the enlisted men. Because of this, the Sixty-Sixth was very nearly disbanded. The loyal knights that were once known as the 'Winds of Tristain', the promising young men who were said to have been the successors to the legendary 'Manticore Knights of the Heavy Wind', were either discharged or reassigned to different posts...usually far less grander than what they used to have. And now...now there were only six of them left. Six out of the once fifteen strong Sixty-Sixth Squadron. Those who remained wore their newfound stigma grimly but they refused to let all their hard work and sacrifice to be washed away because of the actions of one man, even if he was their Captain.
After pulling a few favors with families that they had good ties with, the former Second-in-Command and current Captain of the Sixty-Sixth managed to prevent the complete liquidation of the squadron in exchange for them being relegated to border patrol duty. The newly minted Captain Hans Solan Millennius de Falcone personally took the lead in their daily patrols across the northern border of Tristain...the part nearest to Albion. What's more is that they were the only squadron assigned to that little patch of border, so there weren't any other ships or squadrons for miles.
All of them knew that this was a test from their superiors. If they really were the traitors that they were accused of being, then they would use that chance to run to Albion and thusly be charged with treason and become fugitives for the rest of their days. If they were still loyal to Tristain then they would do their jobs well. In the event of an Albion invasion, they would have to face off against everything the enemy threw at them without any immediate reinforcements. If they stood their ground and fought...and died...then they will be considered as heroes and the honor of the Sixty-Sixth would be restored.
"For all the good that'll do if there isn't a Sixty-Sixth anymore..." Griffin Knight Charles Casval la Fontaine drawled out as he maintained formation to the left of their Captain. Charles or 'Char' was a very promising young knight in his early twenties who graduated second in his class back in the prestigious Tristain Magic Academy before enlisting along with his familiar, Quattro, the very Griffin he was riding on. Char was a legend in the Tristain Magic Academy for being the second best in the entire class even though he was only a Line-Class Wind Mage, with the rest of the top-ten graduates being all Triangle-Class Mages or higher.
His Griffin also became famous amongst the knights for the reddish sheen of its feathers and the fact that it was approximately three times faster than standard Griffins when flying at high-speeds. He had short blonde hair and blue eyes, typical traits in his family. He was wearing standard Griffin Knight equipment like the rest of his squadron, their emblem -The Growling Hell Hound- emblazoned on his cape. It was more stylish than practical as the most protection their clothing provided was the leather vest that their former Captain Wardes insisted that they all wear. 'Some protection is better than no protection' was his exact words.
Char was originally arranged to be wed to the beautiful Cattleya Yvette La Baume Le Blanc de La Valliere in three years. Of course, after what his Captain allegedly did, that will likely be annulled considering Captain Wardes was the fiance of Cattleya's younger sister. Char was neither for nor against to the arranged marriage. He had only met Cattleya once of twice in their whole lives and he fond her very likable but he was on the fence on his feelings toward the woman.
"We either die as heroes or live the rest of our lives as villains. Captain Wardes really gave us one hell of a going away present." Griffin Knight Stephan Alexander de Morris or simply 'Stephan' added with a shake of his head. Like Char, Stephan attended the Tristain Magic Academy before enlisting and was of the same age as his squadmate. He and Char attended school together and he managed to earn top-of-class honors with his friend taking second...if only barely.
He insisted on becoming a Griffin Knight even though he was a Triangle-Class Water Mage who was more talented at healing and misdirection rather than straight combat. He was a few inches taller than Char was and had cropped chestnut colored hair and green eyes. His face and body structure had a certain sense of ruggedness that one would not normally attribute to a Water Mage. Like Char, he was wearing a standard Griffin Knight uniform, the leather vest that they all had made him look even more rugged than he already was.
"Stow it guys. Complaining about it won't make the problem go away. As it stands, we just have to continue doing our job until the generals give us the green light to return to regular service. Invasion or not, I don't really plan on dying any time soon." Griffin Knight and current Second-in-Command James Terrance la Raynore or 'Trombe' laid out the reality for the rest of them. Trombe was an adopted son of the la Raynore clan and was the third oldest sibling in his family.
Due to various circumstances, he had to be put up for adoption after his real family -Germanian- disowned him for reasons known only by his biological father. He was home schooled by a private instructor in both academics and magic because his parents didn't want anyone finding out his true heritage at the time. His teacher was strict, inhumanly so. He heard that she originally didn't want to teach him because she would simply be wasting her time when she could be raising her daughters instead. For better or for worse, his step-mother was able to convince his instructor to continue teaching him until he was able to graduate after he turned twenty around six years ago. The first and last graduate of the private Karin Desiree la Valliere school of hard knocks and a proud Square-Class Wind Mage.
His nickname stemmed from the fact that he was a powerful wind mage that matched their former Captain in raw power, it also helped that they were both trained by the same person. The word 'Trombe' was Germanian for 'Tornado', Trombe's favorite kind of wind magic. It had originally been a joke but somehow the nickname stuck and he carried it ever since. He had long black hair that reached to his back and black eyes. His brownish skin betrayed his Germanian descent but no one in the unit ever gave him a hard time about it.
"No one ever plans on dying on the day they do." Griffin Knight Lawrence Masters de Foulke or 'Larry' shot back, earning a glare from his squadmate. Larry was originally a famed mercenary that went by the nickname of 'Solo-Wing' because he was a Triangle-Class Wind Mage that always worked alone. He became famous during the border skirmishes between Tristain and Germania, having even fought Wardes and their current Captain on multiple occasions.
He was already in his early thirties but was still as sharp and as deadly as he was back then. He was defeated by Wardes during a failed ambush attempt and was slated to be executed until the man who defeated him asked if he wanted to join a squadron he was forming instead. He, his current Captain, and Wardes were the founding members of the Sixty-Sixth.
He had wavy chestnut hair that was parted in the middle and he had amber eyes that spoke of many years of combat experience. Wardes' choice of bringing him into the Griffin Knights was met with much disapproval from his superiors and peers but all the man said was that 'this guy would work better as an ally than as a potential enemy'. Larry had to go through a rigorous screening process as well as training to become a Griffin Knight. It wasn't an easy thing to do since he was already much older than the other cadets were when he started his training. In the end though, he passed and the rest was history.
"..." Griffin Knight Lyner Alec la Pyrean or 'Red' simply remained quiet and chose to study the surrounding airspace. Red was the newest addition to the squadron before Wardes suddenly dropped off the map and was thought to have betrayed the whole country. The young man looked up to Wardes as a hero back when he was still at the military academy. The final student of 'The Heavy Wind' was thought to have been the best of the legendary Manticore Knight's apprentices and Red wanted nothing more than to follow in his footsteps and become a legendary flame mage amongst the Griffin Knights.
It wasn't easy for him though. He was still fresh from graduating from the Tristain Magic Academy two years ago and was barely out of military training before he was assigned to the Sixty-Sixth. He had mediocre grades and was only a Line-Class Fire Mage but he was so frighteningly skilled at riding his mount that rumors state that Captain Wardes himself requested that he was to be transferred to the squadron. Unlike the others that either summoned their mounts as familiars or was provided them by the military, Red actually captured and tamed his mount...or so the story went.
The young man wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was. Capturing his Griffin was his true test, to train it was his cause.
Because of the training he did with his Griffin, his control of it was second to none. Red had dark red hair that reached his shoulders, with his eyes matching his hair color, his nickname was a no-brainer to come up with.
"Stay focused and do your jobs. We're in deep enough as it is and we can't afford to screw up. Everything we say and do will be used against us and the only way for us to survive with our squadron and our honor intact is to make sure that they don't have anything to use against us. Buckle down and ride out the storm, gentlemen. The Sixty-Sixth will rise again!" Captain Hans Solan Millennius de Falcone or 'Scarface' yelled out from the front of the formation. The current Captain of the Sixty-Sixth was a close friend of Wardes back during their school days. They were rivals of sorts that always tried to one up one another but it was all friendly competition to motivate each other to strive harder to succeed.
Larry was the one responsible for Scarface's nickname after he took a razor wind spell in the face during an ambush by the then 'Solo-Wing'. Scarface was able to survive thanks to his comrades as Wardes expertly defeated the mercenary in single combat but he still came away with a large scar that ran from his right eyebrow to his left cheek. He short brown hair, blue eyes, and was clean shaven...basically the opposite of Wardes' image. The sudden disappearance and alleged betrayal of his long-time friend hit Scarface the hardest. Even though Wardes was always the better man when it came to many things, including magic since Scarface was only a Triangle-Class Wind Mage compared to Wardes being a Square-Class Wind Mage, he never felt that he was inferior to his former Captain.
He always had a way of bringing his squadron together and getting the best results out of all of them, he was the best and his squadron was the best as well.
So why? Scarface thought before taking a deep breath and discarding the thought. It didn't matter anymore. Whether or not Wardes really betrayed the crown will not change the fact that the Sixty-Sixth was in dire straights and it fell to him to do something about it.
"Hey boss, you should see this." Stephan called out to his Captain, getting the attention of the rest of the squadron. Scarface turned back to his squadmate and found that he was pointing at something to the right of their formation in the distance. The Knight Captain strained his vision and saw a single small shape breaking through the cloud cover. It was flying fast...and it was headed right at them.
"I have a bad feeling about this." Char voiced out from behind Stephan. Everyone else felt the same way. Whoever it was that was headed for them, he or she was coming from the direction of Albion. Scarface clenched his jaw as he entertained the thought that it could be Wardes heading back to Tristain after accomplishing whatever secret mission was assigned to him. That thought was quickly silenced as he noted that it wasn't a Griffin headed their way. It was a Dragon...a Wind Dragon.
"Heads up and stay alert! Hold your ground and prepare for intercept protocols! If that guy so much as twitches the wrong way, I want him grounded through any means necessary!" Scarface barked out as he led the formation to intercept the oncoming Wind Dragon and its rider. Red suddenly widened his eyes as he realized something.
"The rider and the mount are injured!" He yelled out from behind. If the rider and the mount were wounded and were still flying at that speed, it could either mean that they were escaping or being pursued. The answer to that made itself apparent when a very large military ship broke out from the cloud cover that the mystery rider came from.
"Shit! It's an Albion ship!" Larry yelled out after seeing the emblem on the sails. A few seconds later, about a dozen Fire Dragon Knights flew in formation around the ship...escorts.
"I think that the Wind Dragon is the least of our worries." Trombe mused casually. As if facing off against a squadron of Dragon Knights and an Albion Battleship wasn't something to panic about.
"Char! Secure the Wind Dragon and get its rider to safer skies! The rest of you, we're flying cover! Let's go!" Scarface gave the order and the entire squadron suddenly kicked into motion. Char and his Griffin displayed their speed as Quattro pulled ahead of everyone else and headed right to the pursued Wind Dragon. The Albion Fire Dragon Knights noticed the sudden advance and quickly broke from their formation with their ship to intercept the speedy Griffin.
"Cover Char!" Scarface barked out as he pulled out his wand, Trombe and Larry following his example, while Red and Stephan hung back. The three Wind Mages did their incantations and let loose three tornadoes that screamed past Char and the Wind Dragon and straight into the Fire Dragon Knight formation. The Fire Dragons were nowhere near as maneuverable as a Griffin or as a Wind Dragon, but the tornado spells were sent out far enough for them to avoid getting hit. That was the point though as Scarface wanted Char to secure the pursued rider and get him into Tristain hands. Whoever it was, he was important enough for Albion to send out a ship and a squadron of Fire Dragon Knights over the pond just to take him down.
"Break and run interference! Char and the Wind Dragon are the top priorities!" Scarface barked before the entire squadron broke off from each other to begin their mission. Buy time.
"Hey! Are you alright?" Char asked the rider as he pulled up next to the injured Wind Dragon. The poor thing didn't look like it will be able to make it to a Tristain base before falling out of the sky. The blue dragon had scorch marks all over its body and its wings even had some arrows stuck to it. Char shook his head and shook the rider's shoulders. The rider looked up at him and he gasped in surprise. It was a woman, middle aged and definitely not the type to ride on a Wind Dragon. She had brown hair that was fixed up into a fine updo. Her eyes, complexion, and clothing outside the brown cloak she was using as a cover from the wind indicated that she was at least a noble.
"Your Highness...?" The woman asked him with tired eyes.
Your Highness? Char asked himself in confusion. Further inquiry was put on hold as the Wind Dragon suddenly convulsed before its left wing went completely limp. The creature cried out in pain, its death wails made obvious to anyone who could hear.
"This is bad!" Char declared as he maneuvered Quattro to match the descent of the injured dragon. Hopefully, the others could keep the enemy off of him long enough to transfer this woman to his Griffin without making her fall off.
"I'm assuming this means Albion isn't going to play nice anymore?" Larry asked the two Fire Dragon Knights who were hot on his tail.
The former mercenary banked left and right to avoid getting hit by the flames of the two dragons. The fact that the knights themselves weren't belting out spells either meant that they didn't have any spells that would work in high speed aerial battles or they were holding back.
"Either way, I'm a lot more pragmatic about fights." Larry muttered to himself as he took out his wand again. He pointed hit over his shoulder and cast a razor wind spell blind. He didn't expect to hit anyone but it should be enough to get some distance between him and his pursuers.
He looked back and found that the knights split off and one of them was above his plane of flight while the other was to his right. Both knights seemed to be unharmed but were still a comfortable distance away from him.
Larry decided that it was time to use an old trick he learned from his old Captain. He gestured his Griffin to ease right before climbing steep. The Fire Dragons followed him but they simply didn't have the speed to keep up. Once a good enough distance was established, Larry pointed his wand to behind him as he chanted another spell. Instead of letting loose another attack spell, he maneuvered his Griffin into a summersault before barrel-rolling to get their bearings straight.
Larry let loose his spell, which was still pointed behind him. A powerful gust spell propelled him and his Griffin forwards at a speed that would normally be reserved for Quattro, with the Griffin tucked its wings to gain more speed for the attack. Larry went right at one of the knights, who was trying to take evasive action against the sudden turn of events, before putting away his wand in exchange for his sword-wand. Larry never liked using a sword-wand, too heavy for his tastes to use as a foci for spells.
He did appreciate the 'sword' part of it though. Larry showed just how much by slicing the Fire Dragon across its right wing, clipping the beast and rendering much slower that it once was. This was the fighting style of the Sixty-Sixth, the style that Wardes pounded into their heads. Pure Pragmatism.
Dead men's words hold no meaning on the battlefield.
The Sixty-Sixth did not fight to win. They fight to survive and fight again. That way of thinking was the reason why their squadron had the lowest casualty rate of any squadron in any branch of the Tristain military. Their way is to fight to survive. Incidentally, they needed to make sure that their enemies were rendered helpless for them to do just that. Their main way of doing so in tactical combat against other airborne units like themselves was to disable the mounts. The rider is secondary, take out the thing being ridden on first.
They used that style to much success, though some view it as being cowardly and not honorable enough for the battlefield. That was fine with them. It didn ft matter if their methods were cowardly. They live, the enemy dies, Tristain remains safe. That was all that mattered. However, something didn't sit well with Larry. These knights were surprisingly good. Even with slower Fire Dragons, they were still the ones doing the pursuing instead of the other way around. The fact that they were up against such skilled knights meant one thing.
This wasn't a mere pursuit mission.
"Hey! Do you mind? I'm contemplating here!" Larry yelled out after a jet of flame rushed past him. He looked back and saw that the Fire Dragon that he managed to clip was trailing back so that meant that the fight was now one on one.
"Time to see how good you really are." The former mercenary muttered with a smile before sending his Griffin into a steep rolling dive. Larry tucked his body as close to his mount's back as he could.
After five more seconds of this, he broke left. The Griffin's wings spreading out to catch as much air as it could to facilitate the turn. Larry glanced back and noted that the knight that was still on him was barely keeping up. The greater weight and bulk of the Fire Dragon made it much harder to perform acrobatics at this speed. Larry kept this up for one reason, to get behind the Fire Dragon.
Larry led his mount into a rolling turn to the left before climbing up and breaking right. The distance between him and the pursuing knight was getting wider and wider. The difference was that he was starting to get closer and closer to chasing the tail of the Fire Dragon instead of the other way around.
That was when he saw a jet of flame coming right at him from the upper left corner of his vision.
"Oh right...I forgot about the other one." Larry remarked before rolling away from the sneak attack.
"Guh!" Red grunted as he forced his Griffin into a tight turn to avoid another jet of flame coming from one of the dragons that was chasing him.
He was originally only being pursued by one of the knights when he noticed that another two of them were headed straight toward Char. He threw out a fireball from above the two knights, hoping to catch one of them off guard. Unfortunately, they were a lot more alert than he thought. He drove his Griffin past them but it only served to make him their target instead.
So now, he was being pursued by not one but three Albion Fire Dragon Knights. Several gouts of flame kept missing him and his Griffin by only a couple of feet. Red could literally feel the heat as the flames flew by. It was only thanks to his skill at maneuvering his Griffin that he was able to last this long. However, it was only a matter of time before he made a mistake or one of the dragons gets a lucky hit in. He had to somehow get behind them or take one of them out.
"Dammit!" The young Griffin Knight cursed as he twisted his body around and pointed his wand at his pursuers. The knights quickly broke away from his line of fire just as he let out another fireball from his wand.
Red cursed under his breath once again before turning back and putting his wand away. He won't be able to take them out with his magic because he would need to turn around and aim first, more than enough time for his pursuers to get out of the way. He couldn't use his sword-wand because of the same reason. He had to find a way to shake them off!
He looked around his immediate airspace for anything he could use. He saw the rest of his squadron holding off their own pursuers but he couldn't think much about it as another jet of flame flew past him. Red clenched his jaw and focused on making precision movements instead of buzzing around like a fly. It would slow him down but it would lower the chance of him overshooting his movement and flying right into enemy fire.
He once again looked around for anything he could use and have a silent prayer of thanks when he saw something that he could use. A large cloud rolled in a few hundred yards above him to his left. He maneuvered his Griffin to get inside the cloud cover as fast as it could. The flame attacks became more frequent as the Albion knights realized what he was trying to do.
Red was able to get into the cloud though and he quickly moved within it before diving down and moving back to the point where he originally entered the cloud from. As expected, his pursuers got into the cloud and started firing all over the place to flush him out. Red drew out his sword-wand and prepared to rush at the first knight that comes out of the cloud.
He hit pay dirt as one of the knights flew out of the cloud before stopping mid-air to get his bearings back. Blaze used this chance to rush forward to attack the knight at close range. He saw the knight turn to him in surprise as he was about to swing his sword-wand to take out the dragon's wing.
That was when two jets of flame came out from within the cloud.
"Shiiiit!" Red cursed as he abruptly abandoned his attack and focused on evading. He barrel rolled away from the jets of flame and also narrowly avoided the sword of the knight he originally intended to attack. It was a trap.
"These guys are good..." The young Griffin Knight muttered as the chase resumed once again. Red knew that he'd get another chance at it. He just needed to stay alive.
Just stay alive!
Red made his mount bob and weave its way though the constant assault by the Fire Dragons. The young knight was so focused on making sure not to get hit by the flames that he didn't notice that he was slowing down too much in the process. Red's eyes went wide when to glanced back to the knights and saw that they were only a couple of hundred yards away from him.
"Dammit! Why the hell did I make such a rookie mistake?" Red screamed as he willed his mount to speed up. The knight at the front of the pursuit formation managed to squeeze out a sudden burst of speed from his mount. The Fire Dragon managed to pull up beside Red and reared its head back to finish of the young knight with a breath of flame.
"Dive!" Red commanded and his mount complied. The Griffin tucked its wings, rolled once to point itself downward, and dove just as a streak of flame tore through the spot where they were a moment ago.
Red's Griffin opened up its wings to stop its descent but it quickly rolled left and right to avoid the jets of flame that were now coming from above. He noticed something in the distance and smiled. It was Trombe and he was also being pursued by three Fire Dragons.
The two knights made eye contact and they both smiled. Red adjusted his mount's flight pattern and sent it into a collision course right at his senior before pulling out his sword-wand.
The young knight did his best not to panic as he carefully avoided getting hit by the jets of flame coming from the front and behind. Trombe was doing the same and Red wondered just how the man was able to stay so calm despite getting attacked from both sides.
"I guess that's the difference between a rookie and a regular." Red said with a bitter smile as he prepared a fireball spell. The two knights came closer and closer to crashing into one another.
One hundred yards and Red's spell was ready.
Seventy yards and he made his Griffin fly as fast as it could.
Thirty yards and his Griffin's left wing almost got fried by a shot that came too close for comfort.
Both knights rolled left and missed each other by a manner of inches. Red pointed his sword-wand in front of him and saw that he was lined up perfectly with a Fire Dragon Knight. The enemy knight flinched long enough for Red to get his spell off.
"Fireball!" Red declared as a ball of flame launched from his sword-wand and screamed toward one of the knights that were after him. He also heard Trombe declare his trademark 'Tornado' spell from behind him. The knight he aimed for frantically tried to get his mount out of the way, probably too panicked at the sudden stunt by the two knights to consider countering the spell with a jet of flame from his mount, but was too close to avoid the spell.
Red quickly bid his mount to climb after letting his spell off and heard the sound of his fireball hitting something and detonating. The roar of the Fire Dragon was more due to surprise at the sudden attack than actually being hurt...it was a Fire Dragon after all. Too bad the rider wasn't as flame retardant as its mount. Red didn't bother to check on the condition of the knight he hit and instead looked back to see how Trombe's attack went.
"Wha..." Was the only thing Red could get out of his mouth as he watched two of the three Fire Dragons that were after him drop out of the sky. The three knights pulled their dragons closer to each other in a bid to concentrate their attacks at Red. That left them as sitting ducks when Trombe aimed his wand right at them and let loose a spell.
The remaining knight broke right hard to avoid getting caught in the attack and was trying to get back on course to go after Red. The young knight noticed that the two remaining knights that were after Trombe were resuming their pursuit as well.
"Thank you!" Red yelled out after looking up to the skies in thanks for whatever force of luck that gave him that break. Now that it was one-on-one, Red concentrated on getting the jump on the knight who was once again hot on his tail.
"Tornado!" Trombe declared after lining up his sword-wand at the three Fire Dragon Knights that were running down his junior. His favorite spell tore through the skies and right in between two of the three dragons. The mounts roared in pain as their wings got torn to shreds from the force of the attack before they both fell from the sky.
"Woo!" The Griffin Knight let out before breaking right and climbing. The spared a glance at the damage that Red caused and was happy to see that their rookie managed to take out one of the knights that were after him. Trombe thanked Lady Luck for letting him and Red cross paths in the first place. He didn't even notice his fellow knight until he was already deliberately heading right at him. Confident that Red could take care of that one remaining knight on his ass, Trombe turned his attention to the two who were still after him.
He had to hand it to those Albion Fire Dragon Knights. Even after watching three of their comrades drop out of the sky because of a near-suicidal counterattack, they still got their act together and resumed their pursuit.
"I really want to meet the guy to trained these guys and punch him in the face, repeatedly." Trombe mused as he savored the lull in combat because he was out of range of the knights that were pursuing him.
"That reminds me..." The former student of Karin added before he turned back and aimed his sword-wand in the general direction of his foes. He did his incantation and let loose razor wind spell after razor wind spell.
'Razor Wind' was a lot easier to cast and didn't drain as much willpower as 'Tornado' so Trombe was able to rapid-cast it pretty easily. The spell also had the advantage of being hard to detect with human vision as it was literally a really, really, really, strong gust of wind that was focused on a very small area. Lastly, a windspell going downwind will be faster and will have better range than a jet of flame from a Fire Dragon going upwind.
Because of the range and speed advantage, aside from the morale advantage, the tables have suddenly turned even though Trombe was still the one being chased around.
"Hold still you buggers!" Trombe complained as he continued to take pot shots at the two Albion Fire Dragon Knights. They were starting to break their two-person formation after they noticed the razor wind spells coming at them. You can't really see it but you can definitely tell that the spell was there once it gets close enough.
"To hell with this!" The Griffin Knight yelled when he suddenly ordered his mount to stop and turn around to face the Fire Dragons head on. He was still out of their range so he was able to get his Griffin up to speed before letting loose another batch of razor wind spells.
"Oh no you don't!" Trombe declared as he let loose a tornado spell when the two Fire Dragons started breathing fire at him again. The two knight broke to either side of the tornado spell, making them pass each other without anyone getting a clean shot.
Both parties turned around and prepared for another joust when one of his squadmates suddenly dove about a few dozen yards in front of him, a cold fog of water appearing in his wake before it was blown away by jets of flame.
"Hey! Watch it!" Trombe complained after Stephan, and the two Fire Dragons who were after him, passed. He heard a faint 'Sorry' from his squadmate and Trombe could only shake his head before turning back to the oncoming knights and resuming hostilities.
"Sorry!" Stephan yelled out after hearing the complaint of his squadmate, whether or not Trombe heard him was up in the air.
The good news was that Stephan was well versed at neutralizing threats caused by fire attacks, being a Water-Mage helps with that significantly.
The bad news was that he was pursued from behind by two Albion Fire Dragon Knights and that he was more used to dealing with threats when they didn't know where he was.
Stephan was the ambush specialist.
He could go out alone on raids by going high, quiet, and slow, creating mists of cold water to confuse and misdirect before he went in for the kill.
It went without saying that he was currently out his element with this being an open pursuit instead of his usual hit and runs. He went ahead and tried to confuse them by throwing a cloud of mist right in their faces but it was met with failure when the dragons just blew the cloud away with jets of flame.
"Just keep dodging. Stay alive. We have to buy time for Char. Just stay calm and keep dodging until Scarface calls the retreat." Stephan muttered to himself as he cringed against the heat of another jet of flame flew across his side. The game plan they had was fine but the fact remained that he needed get the heat off his back.
He pulled out his wand and cast another cloud of mist before climbing up to a higher altitude, he needed more water to be able to mount a good offense against the knights who were after him. Predictably, the two knights just burned through the mist and continued their chase after him.
Stephan flew straight up and cast a large bubble of water directly behind him, right in the path of the knights. They tried to maneuver around the bubble as they were about to pass it but it suddenly burst into a spray of water right at them. The well disciplined knights barely even flinched at the diversion and maintained their speed, even their Fire Dragons didn't seem to be bothered by the sudden shower.
Stephan clicked his tongue as he leveled out his mount and broke left. Normally, a sudden surprise like that would have at least warranted pause from a rider, especially being as high up in the sky as they currently were.
"I hate situations like this." The Griffin Knight muttered before he eyed some clouds in the distance. He smiled as he put away his wand and exchanged it for his sword-wand. He drove his Griffin right into the cloud before he started his incantation. He waited until he could sense the two pursuing knights enter the cloud before releasing his spell.
The entire cloud suddenly glowed and shimmered blue. Stephan drove his Griffin hard to get out of the cloud before the spell kicked in, the speed difference between his Griffin and the Fire Dragons was his saving grace as he broke into the open skies just before he heard the familiar sound of ice forming behind him.
Stephan didn't have the raw magical power to flash freeze so much water that quickly by himself. He had to conjure up enough water to freeze before freezing it altogether, that would have taken too much time. Instead, he used the water in the clouds to act as the base of his spell. All he needed to do was concentrate it enough to freeze the whole cloud in one go.
Stephan looked back to inspect his handy work, he saw the massive chunk of frozen cloud plummet to the ground but he grimaced when he saw that one of the knights managed to escape in time to avoid getting encased in ice.
"What the hell..." Stephan muttered to himself as he once again tried to out maneuver his remaining pursuer. Hopefully, it will be easier to do now that it was one-on-one.
That was when he noticed a very tempting target.
There was a Fire Dragon that was going after one of his squadmates, he couldn't tell who because of the distance. There were two knights in pursuit but that one knight was flying a lot slower than everyone else. That means that the dragon was injured and the idiot didn't pull back. Stephan smiled and checked back to make sure that his own pursuer was far enough away so he could do this properly.
Stephan quietly maneuvered his Griffin behind the limping Fire Dragon and exchanged his sword-wand for his regular want. He incanted his spell just as his mount got up right behind the Fire Dragon. His target's mount sensed them when they were so close, jerking its head to check what it was that sneaked up behind it, but it was too late.
In one well practiced motion, Stephan rolled his Griffin upside down and above the hapless knight before pointing his wand a few inches above the knight's head.
"Water Bubble." Stephan cast his spell and the knight suddenly found himself drowning as his head was encased in a magical bubble of water. The knight tried to shake off the bubble by making his mount do erratic maneuvers but the bubble stuck and the knight eventually ceased all movement and fell off his mount. This was how Stephan fought.
Really, who would expect that one could drown in mid-air?
"That's more like it." The Griffin Knight said to himself before wincing as a jet of flame from his pursuer passed close. The stealth attack he did slowed him down enough for the other knight to catch up but it was worth it. The ambush knight clenched his jaw as he once again focused on avoiding getting shot out of the sky by his foe.
"Not bad!" Scarface yelled out as he and one of the two pursuers that were after him crossed blades before breaking off. The Captain didn't even bother trying to outrun the knights that were after him and simply opted to face them head on.
It was a risky move since a Griffin would not fare well in a scrap with a Fire Dragon, but Scarface already knew that. Instead of employing the method of attack that Wardes taught them, disable the mount no matter what, he chose to go after the rider instead.
Fire Dragons have two blind spots when being used as a mount. The space directly above them and the space directly behind them. The dragons cannot simply crane their head up or behind them to fire a jet of flame because there was a chance that they could injure their rider accidentally in the process. There was also the fact that the dragon wouldn't be looking at direction where it was flying at so there was a risk of getting blindsided as well.
Scarface tried to get behind the knights by either slowing down to make them overshoot or by simply trying to get behind them through sheer acrobatics. However, the Dragon Knights wouldn't allow him to get behind them using either method.
Scarface was honestly impressed.
To be able to keep up with him so well, the Griffin Knight could easily tell that these guys were extremely well trained. Since getting behind the dragons wasn't going to work, he decided to work on the other way to take out the rider.
He suddenly pulled his Griffin to a stop, the beast's wings flapping frantically to comply with its rider's orders. The two knights did their best to keep in pace with him but they were too close for them to prevent him to at least get alongside one of the dragons. The two beasts started trying to bite, peck, and claw at each other when they were close enough. They were going at it so hard that Scarface was a bit worried that they might just tangle each other up and bring them both down. The Albion knight pulled out his sword and swung it at Scarface where it met the Captain's sword-wand. Scarface noted that the knight was using a regular sword and not a sword-wand.
They're not nobles? The Captain wondered as he and the knight clashed steel. It was a bit strange for him to think that such skilled riders were commoners. Scarface smiled despite himself. They were all either naturally skilled or whoever trained them was a monster.
He then noticed that the other knight was making his way to his other side in an attempt to get him in a pincer. Scarface clicking his tongue as he parried a sword swing aimed at his neck. Before pointing his sword-wand at the Fire Dragon and let out a quick gust spell.
The force of the wind made the dragon and the rider grunt out as the spell hit them like a sledgehammer. Nowhere near enough force to knock them out of the sky, but it was enough to get some distance so Scarface can deal with the other knight. He swung his sword-wand at his left side, just in time to block a strike from the other knight's sword.
Scarface pulled his Griffin back and somehow managed to get behind the other knight quick enough before the knight could react. The Captain said a silent prayer of thanks at the sudden stroke of luck. He didn't hesitate as he unleashed razor wind spells one after another at the Fire Dragon behind him. It only took seconds for the wings of the Fire Dragon to be shredded into strips of membrane. The knight and his mount screamed their death wails as they both plummeted to their doom.
"One down..." Scarface muttered as he turned his attention to the other knight who was already trying to retreat. He let him go and looked around for his squadmates. He narrowed his eyes when he noticed Trombe engaged in a bout of air jousting with two Albion Fire Dragon Knights. The Captain quickly moved his Griffin into an intercept trajectory to give aid to his second-in-command.
"Damn..." Char cursed as he watched helplessly as the brave Wind Dragon that managed to get this far plummeted to the ground as soon as the Griffin Knight managed to secure the rider onto his own mount. He checked the woman one more time and noted that she was unconscious, either from shock or from exhaustion or both. He placed the woman in front of him to make sure that she was secure between his arms before he took out his wand and pointed it skyward. He cast a minor fire spell that was taught to every Tristain Griffin Knight in the academy.
A small ball of fire streaked upwards before it exploded into a large flare of light. It was the retreat signal. He turned to check where his squadmates were and noticed a Fire Dragon dropping out of the sky. He smiled when he saw that it was Trombe that made the kill with help from Scarface. The others were holding on pretty well, with Red and Larry flying together while holding off two Fire Dragon Knights. Stephan was already headed toward him and he saw that the knight that was on his tail was already headed to retreat. In fact...the remaining Fire Dragon Knights were all pulling back as well. Char wondered why for a moment before he got his answer...he really wished he hadn't asked himself why.
"Oh shit..." Char muttered in fear when he saw the clouds in the distance separate to reveal something he didn't really want to see.
Albion ships...a lot of Albion ships.
The young knight could do nothing but gape at the imposing wall of ships that was the mighty Albion Armada. The ship that they initially encountered was just an advance unit that went after the rider of the Wind Dragon. He motioned for his familiar to move when he noticed the rest his squadmates start to make their way toward him. He saw Scarface who was screaming something at him while gesturing him to get moving. So he flew. He didn't push Quattro to his top speed in fear of his passenger suddenly getting sick from the speed. It was slow enough for the rest of his squadron to catch up to him and that meant that it was slow enough for a pursuit squadron to catch up as well.
"What the hell are you doing? Get going already!" Scarface barked at him when he pulled up to Char's side.
"Boss! The passenger is a civilian! Female! Middle-aged! I can't just let Quattro loose with someone like this with me! She could die if we flew too fast!" Char shot back. Scarface grimaced but he understood that Char was right. Albion was after that woman for a reason, getting her killed before they knew why would be bad. They had to get her to friendly skies while holding off a squadron of Fire Dragon Knights and making sure they don't get blown out of the sky by the Albion Armada. Every last one of the Sixty-Sixth knew it. They didn't want to admit it, but they knew.
Albion was invading...and they had to stay alive to warn their country.
"Listen up!" Scarface barked as soon as the rest of his squadron formed up around Char in a defensive formation.
"Precious cargo is injured will not survive pursuit speeds! That means that we're carrying dead weight! I'm assuming you all know what that means?" Scarface laid out the situation for all of them. Everyone glanced at the unconscious woman on Char's mount before looking back to their Captain and nodding.
"Alright! Here's what we-" Scarface's order was cut off when he heard the telltale whistling sound of a wind spell.
"Scatter!" He screamed and everyone, including Char, broke off from each other just in time to avoid getting caught in a cluster of three tornadoes that ripped to the patch of sky that they were on a moment ago.
"What the hell? Now they use magic?" Larry screamed in annoyance. He and the rest of the squadron looked back to the source of the tornadoes, fully expecting at least three knights to be there.
"No way..." Larry muttered, unable to say anything else.
"Oh...oh...oh..." Char could only repeat that word at what he saw.
"Aww...hell..." Stephan said as he pulled out his sword wand and got behind Char.
"Well, what do you know..." Trombe bitterly stated as he pulled out his own sword-wand.
"It can't be...why...why...why?" Red asked in shock at what was closing in on them.
"Jaaaaaques!" Scarface screamed as he moved his Griffin into an intercept vector before pulling out his sword-wand. He didn't want to believe it. He wished. He prayed. He hoped that it wasn't true. That the man in front of him was merely an impostor or a doppleganger.
"Why?" He screamed as he unleashed a tornado spell right at the figure before him once he was in range. The rider maneuvered his mount away and Scarface could only stare in utter disbelief.
It was Wardes...but it wasn't him either...
The...thing...that had evaded his attack definitely looked like his former Captain. Hell, he was wearing the same uniform as them. But the differences were almost too much for Scarface to bear.
Wardes was still wearing the same uniform but it looked like it was haphazardly stiched back together with several tears and scorch marks everywhere. His cape was mostly shredded and it was barely even a cape anymore. His hat also looked like it was stiched back together and the trademark feather on it was gone. The long silky hair and perfect beard that he was so proud of was now grey in color, almost white even. Even his skin complexion was so pale, you'd mistake him for a corpse. And then the eyes...
His former Captain's eyes glowed red when he saw them, like he was being possessed by some sort of demon. In his gloved hands, which were also damaged and stiched together, were two large Lance-Wands or 'Boom Sticks' as they were commonly called. The dark grey, runed lances were treated like sword-wands, weapons that were forged as spell foci. The nickname for them stemmed from the fact that a Lance-Wand can amplify and cast a much larger spell than a regular wand or even a sword-wand ever could. The trade off was that it drained so much willpower in the process that it was extremely difficult to use...and Wardes have two of them.
"No...even he couldn't dual-wield tho-" Scarface couldn't finish his musing when his eyes strayed away from the Lance-Wands. He didn't have any legs...Wardes didn't have any legs. His upper torso was directly connected to the back of his Griffin with several steel latches. Now that he thought about it, Wardes' Griffin also looked different. Its plume was as grey as its rider's hair. Its eyes were glowing as red as its rider's was. In some sort of sick and twisted way...Wardes had become one with his mount.
"What the fuck did they do to you?" Scarface asked in abject horror at what happened to his close friend. Wardes did not answer him. The abomination simply pointed its lance-wands at him before casting another triple-tornado spell. The three twisters spun around each other as they made their way toward Scarface. The current Captain of the Sixty-Sixth motioned his Griffin away from the spell before pointing his sword-wand at the abomination.
"Jacques!" Scarface called out, hoping that calling Wardes by his name would provoke a human reaction from him. When the response was another triple-tornado, Scarface knew that...thing...wasn't his friend anymore.
"Hey! Traitor!" Larry's voice interrupted the duel as a combination of razor wind and tornado spells from Larry and Trombe streaked right at the abomination. Wardes expertly guided his...lower half...to avoid the sudden attack by his former squadron.
"Holy shit! What the hell happened to him?" Trombe yelled out as he finally noticed the state of his former Captain, or what was left of him.
"Boss! What do we do? Stephan and Red are escorting Char away from the combat zone, do we pull back too?" Larry asked his Captain. Scarface scowled as he watched Wardes maneuver back a good distance away to take stock of the new development.
"I cannot authorize a retreat with that thing still in the sky." Scarface somberly stated as he pointed his sword-wand at his former friend.
"Intercept the hostile and blow it out of the sky." He added as he started incanting a spell.
"I knew you'd say that...hey, the Albion ships aren't moving..." Trombe pointed out in wonder.
"Probably watching the show. You know, seeing how well their new toy fares against its old squadron." Larry responded as he readied his sword-wand to face his former Captain.
"That thing doesn't get past us. Got it?" Scarface ordered as he watched Trombe and Larry form up to his sides.
"Sir!" They both responded at the same time. Wardes suddenly motioned his Griffin forward and flew at them at a speed thought only reserved to Quattro.
"Watch it! It's faster that anything we've come across!" Scarface barked out as the three of them broke formation to avoid the sudden charge. Wardes chose his target and started pursuing Scarface with Trombe and Larry on his tail.
"I don't believe it...Captain Wardes really is a traitor..." Red muttered bitterly as he looked back to the tiny shapes buzzing around in the sky that represented the battle being waged between his squadmates and his former Captain...his hero.
"Keep your head in the game, Red. We need to get that woman to friendlies as soon as we can." Stephan stated. He and Red were serving as the wings of the 'V' formation that Char was leading, it was the easiest way to protect their squadmate and their precious cargo from pursuits.
"Besides, with the whole damn Albion Armada behind us, the Captain is the least of our worries." Char added. He still couldn't believe that Albion would actually go ahead and invade Tristain. That country just came from a brutal civil war that killed the entire Royal Family except for the crowned prince who was still missing! How the hell did they find the time to gather this many forces to launch an invasion so soon?
"Something is way too wrong about this whole situation..." Char muttered as he glanced down at the woman in his arms. He just hoped that, whoever she was, she could give them answers before it was too late.
"That's just cheap!" Trombe complained as his attempt at a direct strike on Wardes with his sword-wand was parried by a razor wind spell from the lance-wand in his left hand...while casting a tornado spell at Larry and Scarface using his other lance-wand in his right hand.
"What the hell happened to you?" Trombe yelled out at his former Captain as he pulled back in time to avoid getting shredded by the same razor wind spell that blocked his sword strike. The Second-in-Command of the Sixty-Sixth couldn't understand it. Physical modifications aside, no human mage should be able to throw around spells that powerful at that frequency using two Boom Sticks! Even his former teacher, the legendary Karin 'The Heavy Wind', could only use a single Lance-Wand in combat!
"Albion turned him into a monster! That's what happened!" Scarface responded as he pulled back away from Wardes. He pointed his sword-wand to the sky before moving it in a circular motion, the signal to form up.
"We won't win if we keep trying to fight him like we would a human opponent. He'd just rip us to shreds." Scarface pointed out as soon as his two wingmen formed up beside him.
"So what do we do?" Larry asked, anxious to get this over with.
"We don't fight him like we'd fight a human opponent. We fight him like we would a monster." Trombe answered and Scarface nodded.
"No more holding back. We throw everything we have at him. He's not our old Captain anymore...Albion turned him into an abomination and the least we can do is to let him finally rest in peace." Scarface said with a tone that was partly regretful and partly determined.
"Shit..." Larry summed up the entire situation nicely as all three of them turned back to their opponent.
"Why didn't he attack while we were talking?" Larry added the question.
"Who cares." Trombe responded.
"Everybody ready?" Scarface asked one more time and got affimative nods from his wingmen.
"Let's do this!" The current Captain of the Sixty-Sixth declared as he and his wingmen charged at Wardes. The abomination pointed both his Boom Sticks at the three knights and let loose another triple-tornado spell. The knights countered with their own tornado spells and the skies rocked at the sudden turbulence caused by the clash of wind spells.
"We won't win like this! Break and pound him to the ground!" Scarface ordered and he and his knights broke off in three directions after cancelling their spells. Even if he has two Boom Sticks and cast a triple-tornado with it, he can only aim at two separate targets at once...or that was what they thought.
"Oh come on!" Trombe complained as he discovered the reason why Wardes could cast a triple-tornado with only two spell foci. The abomination let loose three separate tornado spells. The Lance-Wand in his right hand launched one aimed at Scarface. The Lance-Wand in his left hand lauched on aimed at Larry. Then the Griffin...the Griffin that was serving as Wardes' lower half opened its beak and out came the third tornado spell.
"This is insane..." Scarface said to himself as he and his wingmen started evading the tornado spells launched at him. Wardes was currently breaking a lot of rules when it comes to magic combat. The magic he was throwing around was far beyond what any single Square-Class Wind Mage could possibly do. He really was a monster. Scarface knew that the three of them won't be able to defeat him...not by themselves. The Captain of the Sixty-Sixth set his jaw as he made his decision.
"We hold him here!" Scarface roared, hoping to all heaven that his wingmen could hear him.
"This monster is not allowed to go anywhere near that precious cargo!" He added as he rolled left and right to avoid gust boosted razor wind spells. He can dual-cast now too?
"We hold him! As long as we can! No matter the cost!" Scarface declared for all to hear. They would fight to the end to buy their squadmates enough time to warn their country.
That was when the onslaught abruptly ended.
Like a massive storm that suddenly disappeared, the attacks from the abomination ceased. Scarface looked at Wardes dumbfounded as the abomination casually lowered his Lance-Wands and turned around before flying to the direction of the Albion Armada. Scarface was livid. He was ready to fight and die against his former friend and he just up and left. The message was clear. He was sent after them to test out his combat ability against the Griffin Knights.
They were simply not worth fighting anymore.
"What the hell happened? Why'd he pull back?" Larry asked as he and Trombe formed up with their Captain. Scarface closed his eyes and forced himself to calm down.
"It doesn't matter. They're not sending anyone else after us. Do not pursue Jean-Jacques. We're pulling back." He stated before motioning for his mount to retreat, his wingmen in tow. For now, they had to regroup and report the invasion as soon as possible. However...
Scarface swore to himself that Wardes would regret not finishing them off that day.