The preparations of the upcoming battle were unfolding in full; hundreds of soldiers were tasked with cutting the trees and creating spiked logs, creating make-shift fence aimed upwards against the areal attack. In addition, the Commander had sped up the ‘crafting’ division for ballistas, causing no small amount of overworked people.
As the brunt of the enemy’s attack will be from air – considering how high the cliff side is – most of the measures taken were anti-areal; dozen or so sentry towers were being built at strategic spots throughout the encampment, and ‘safe houses’ for archers were slowly re-modeled from huts at the backlines.
Parsia and Thalia laid down some formations and arrays, but since neither had much knowledge in the subject, it was a pretty basic defensive system. Chief Trios and his men were also accepted, and he was even given a division of soldiers to command for the time being.
Through it all, Lynne and Parsia exchanged pointers when it came to Alchemy, Enhancing and Enchanting, while the monkey would leave every day, scouring nearby places for herbs and whatnot, urging Lynne to continuously concoct potions and pills. Most – if not all – of pills Lynne concocted were at least Rank 10, and he was even confident in being able to concoct a Rank 13 Pill given enough preparation and focus.
Outside from that, as the laziest of the bunch, Lynne would leave every day on ‘scouting’ missions with the bird and the monkey; in reality, he’d find a safe spot a few miles away from the encampment and train slowly. Although one month wasn’t much time for anything, it enabled him to stabilize his rank and further his understandings.
Beyond that, Leana and Ryn and others from their group also joined with the builders and helped along, while Fen’er was simply ordered to ‘stay inside due to security reasons’.
About two weeks since Lynne’s return to the encampment, nearly all of the work had slowly began entering its final phase. Deep at night, chatter and laughter rang true through the encampment, as people mingled in small groups, eating and drinking wind joyously.
Lynne, on the other hand, had separated himself from the group, sitting down on the edge of the cliff, legs hanging low, as he slowly drank the wine. He stared off into the horizon, his expression that of indifference, as his mind wandered through the Empyrean Absolution and Empyrean Scything techniques.
A faint sound of footsteps shook him awake as he glanced backwards; Fen’er was walking over, her expression extremely ugly, as she cursed in low voice. Lynne could already guess why was she so angry, so he quickly took out another gourd of wine and set it next to him as she walked up. Without a word, she sat besides him and began drinking the wine in silence.
“Better?” Lynne asked after a while, breaking the silence.
“Eh, kind of.” she said, seemingly disinterested. “How are preparations going?”
“… you have no idea?”
“Not a clue.” Lynne said, his expression deadpan.
“Must be fun to be you.” she said, smiling lightly.
“Eh, it has its moments.”
“Ah,” Fen’er sighed softly as she leaned back and lied down, staring at the starlit sky. “How come it seems impossible to escape conflict, regardless of where you go?”
“Says a girl who enjoys it more than anyone else here.” Lynne said, chuckling. “Ah, look who decided to join us.” Thalia and Parsia walked over slowly, sitting besides Fen’er and Lynne, gourds of wine already in their hands.
“You hitting on my boyfriend?” Thalia asked jokingly.
“We were just about to screw under these beautiful stars,” Fen’er replied indifferently. “We still can if you’re into that sort of a thing.”
“She totally is!” Lynne exclaimed quickly.
“… ugh, you’re all like little kids,” Parsia complained lightly. “Don’t you ever have conversations about something that’s actually important?”
“Oh? Like what?” Fen’er asked.
“I don’t know… love? Meaning of life?” Parsia proposed.
“What?! Did I really say something so terrible?!”
“Yeah, pretty much.” Thalia said.
“What she said.” Fen’er confirmed.
“Lynne?” Parsia looked at Lynne hopefully.
“… really? You’re going with me?”
“Yup, didn’t believe it myself for a second.” Parsia said.
“Oh, right, how are the battle preparations going?” Lynne asked Thalia.
“You’d know if you bothered to actually help.” she replied.
“… why would I do that when there are people who actually, for some ungodly reason, want to help?” Lynne said, serious.
“Ah, Lynne, Lynne, Lynne…” Parsia said.
“What? Even if you chant my name, over and over again, I won’t disappear you bastard.”
“Can’t say I didn’t try.”
“This isn’t half-bad,” Thalia said as she lied down, similarly to Fen’er, staring into the sky. “Just… relaxing.”
“And you guys made fun of my lifestyle, humph,” Lynne grunted lowly. “Damn hypocrites.”
“I sure hope nothing bad happens to you in the upcoming battle,” Fen’er said in a chilly voice. “It would sure be a shame if someone, completely accidentally, stabbed you in the back while you fought.”
“Hey, hey, don’t joke with my behind like that!” Lynne said.
“… ah for the love of god, just fuck him Thalia, please,” Parsia said, sighing. “This can’t go on.”
“You should listen to the wise man, Thalia,” Lynne said, serious. “After all, he’s the one who thinks about love and meaning of life and such.”
“Eh, but it’s more fun watching you like this,” Thalia, in return, teased. “Every time we’re alone, your eyes get so big and hopeful… aaah, it’s so cute I could die.”
“Ugh, when did my friends get to enjoy my suffering?” Lynne protested.
“Since the day we met you.” all three replied in perfect unison, as if they practiced beforehand, startling him.
“Ah, is that so?” Lynne grinned evilly as he got up. “Hah, but so what? My sufferings are my motivation, you damn sadists! The day shall come when I’ll have all you naked on the streets, pleading for my mercy!”
“If that day ever comes, just kill me.” Fen’er said casually.
“Humph, the day of your death may be closer than you think, then!”
“Good. As long as I can be rid of you.”
“Ha ha, but don’t worry,” Lynne suddenly laughed as he puffed his chest out. “If you guys ever die, I’ll live my life twice as hard for each of you! I’ll carry on your dreams and whatnot, so be proud and happy when you die!”
“Come on, be my straight man there!” Lynne cried out after awkward silence. “Otherwise I just come out stupid!”
“… that’s the point.” the three replied in unison, as if they practiced beforehand, startling Lynne yet again.
“Whatever schemes you have going behind the curtains,” Lynne narrowed his eyes as he looked at them. “Know that my eyes are divine, and they can see everything.”
“Never saw me naked, though.” Thalia added.
“…” while the rest laughed, Lynne looked dejectedly into horizon, lamenting his fate.
To recover, he quickly found Gru and retold his past tales, amazing him while Gru continued to stroke Lynne’s ego till it was back to full.
The days slowly rolled over one another, but there were still no signs of incoming battle. However, no one dared relax; even Lynne had cut his ‘scouting missions’ from his daily schedule, and merely lazed around for the most part. All were anticipating the day… and the day arrived, when beasts like locust swarm covered the sky, bloating out the blasting sun, shrouding the land beneath in darkness.
A tower rose like a jewel in the desert, piercing through the sky like a proud defiance against it. Eclipsed in sand storms, and an aura that terrified even the immortals, no one dared approached it – beast or man alike.
Within it, a woman walked up the spiraling stairway, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books, parchments and tomes. All the knowledge – starting with the First People – was painstakingly looted from all corners of the World and kept here. The tower was sacred grounds, which is why no one dared to even have thoughts about occupying it.
The woman, though, ignored the vast sea of knowledge as she continued to climb upwards. Her hair fluttered gently behind her, and her expression appeared indifferent and aloof. At last, she had reached the hatchet which blocked her off from the final floor. She merely waved her hand gently and the hatchet blast open, revealing the small, round room up top.
Two elderly men immediately got up from their chairs, walking over and respectfully bowing before the woman.
“My Queen.” the two said in unison.
“Gatherers.” the woman nodded lightly. “What have you learned?”
“What do you wish to know, my Queen?” one of the elderly asked.
“What of the war up north?” the woman asked.
“Fyre is gathering his forces,” the elderly replied. “They are already on the move towards the border.”
“Is the boy there?” the woman asked.
“Make sure nothing happens to him.”
“Yes, my Queen.”
“What about the south?” the woman pried further, her brows furrowing. “I can’t contact Elysana, and no one else is responding either.”
“A barricade had been formed just two days ago, my Queen,” the elderly replied. “It’s obstructing us, and we can’t learn anything.”
“… how did they find her?” furrowed brows turned into a deep frown as the woman thought deeply for a moment. “Keep trying. What have you found about the boy?”
“Here,” the elderly walked over to his table and picked up a single parchment, handing it over to the woman. “Most of his fate lines are vague and dim. We barely managed to scour this up.”
“He’s pretty young,” the woman exclaimed in surprise. “Empyrean? Strange. If he’s my blood, shouldn’t he be far more comfortable with Restoration?”
“We aren’t certain, my Queen.”
“You couldn’t even fish out his name?”
“Why are his lines so hard to read?”
“… we believe they are being obstructed by someone… or, well, something. We aren’t certain ourselves.” the elderly replied.
“Hmm… regardless, keep trying,” the woman said, sighing, as she handed over the parchment. “I can’t let anything happen to him.”
“We’ll make sure the Guardians keep watch.”
“Good. I’ll travel south for a while,” the woman said as she walked over towards the hatchet. “Inform me if anything out of the ordinary happens. Otherwise, don’t disturb me.”
“Yes, my Queen.” the two elderly said in unison as the woman disappeared.
She slowly began descending down the stairs, frowning lightly as she entered deep thought. Too many events are occurring in this realm, she thought briefly. It can’t be just a pure coincidence, can it? Ah, but it doesn’t matter. As long as I get to meet him, nothing else matter. Wait for me brother, we’ll soon be together…