“A delightful read, it was intelligent, descriptive and gripping until the last page. It is so enigmatically written that I could perfectly picture everything in my mind, something that usually makes me stop reading if it’s lacking. This however, lacked nothing.”
Welcome to Fyir.
The world of Fyir is a place rife with discrimination, due to its turbulent past. The Central Isles are certainly no exception to this; their small residing populations of angels, demons and humans are forever locked in petty skirmishes and short-term wars. When a new, unknown threat emerges and threatens to destabilise the tiny continent, can the opposing races set aside their differences in order to save themselves?
The Advancing Tide
As the days passed in the East, the attacks by the creatures had been numerous but greatly thinned. The one that was leading them was evidently not wanting to reduce his numbers too much, while still relaying a message. More variations of them had started to appear, possessing multiple different elemental affinities; it was keeping the defending forces well occupied. The creatures had since been given a name by the commoners as the body count increased, such a monster only appeared in nightmares, referring them as such was only logical. From the group name Nightmare, the three armies began to come up with names for each individual type of creature they saw; having a joint agreement on names allowed for a quicker response.
Despite the increased aggression towards them, the allied forces continued to press on with their intended plan. Sebastian had to rely on the hope that Ciel had managed to successfully request the help of the West, they were having enough trouble holding off the constant assault to launch any enquiries. Solomon was too worn down from his last venture over to the West, it would be unfair to ask him to perform it again; the spell could easily have fatal consequences.
Arariel had since woken up, rather taken back by the sharp pain that spread through his chest and shoulder. It was healed up soon after with Solomon’s remaining reserves, once he agreed to the procedure. To his amazement, the angel had been remarkably fine with the whole thing, although the pain he was experiencing likely swayed his hand.
Arariel had taken over from Solomon while he got some well-needed rest. Sebastian had found him quite useful, not at least because angels were more willing to talk with him. His knowledge of the notable figures within Eriden was an additional aid, he was probably unwittingly telling Sebastian more than he should.
“Uriel’s still on track with the preparations, as per your advice,” Arariel stated, pacing around in front of Sebastian. Even if the demon meant him no harm, the size difference between the two was unnerving for the angel.
“As I’d hope,” Sebastian replied. The whole thing would require very precise coordination between all of them, Thardosean wouldn’t quibble any instruction given but the other two were not the best at seeing eye to eye. That was where Arariel was a hand; Uriel was far more willing to listen to what he said, even if he was just directly repeating what Sebastian said to him.
“I’m sorry he can be so stubborn like this.” His apology wasn’t anticipated by Sebastian, then again, everything about this angel was a surprise to him. It almost felt a shame to have him wasted on Uriel; such an open minded individual would serve well under a leader that was prepared to listen to him.
“You shouldn’t have to explain for him.”
“I just feel it’s correct to apologise, no one else would to you,” Arariel gave a resigned sigh, he hoped desperately that this event would be the start of a proper peace between the two of them. He had lost both his parents in the ongoing tensions between angels and demons, as much as others tried to make him resent the race that had claimed them, he found he couldn’t. The long history between the races was well known by him as a child. He had wondered just how much suffering his family had caused demons, although their death was an extreme Arariel could not deny that they potentially deserved such a fate. Sebastian watched the angel as he lamented over something, reaching over and giving him a pat on the shoulder.
“I take it you have history,” Sebastian spoke softly, his sudden interruption startled Arariel.
“Ah, well…” He trailed off, now was not the time to worry him with such things.
“If you ever want to talk, you know where to find me.” He gave the angel a smile, before turning toward the door, gesturing for him to follow. “I believe Solomon wanted a word.”
The news perked Arariel up as he looked up, going bounding off in front of the King. Stood outside his chambers were Iomor and Kaiser; the two of them had proven to be a strong base for Sebastian during this time, one he very much needed. Having to turn everything around so quickly was not something anyone could perform easily and certainly not alone. Kaiser laughed as the angel skipped past, evidently something had taken his interest.
“You’re perky this morning,” Kaiser teased as he entered the room, since all of this had started he had not seen the King in a good mood once.
“Uriel’s been amiable for once,” Sebastian replied with a grin, though the two of them knew there was something else.
“You sure there’s nothing more?” Iomor snorted, receiving a raised eyebrow from Sebastian. “Joking aside, we’ve received some troubling reports.” His new voice carried a much more serious tone, which toned down Sebastian’s peppy mood.
“We’ve had no solid sightings yet, but there have been reports of a massive Nightmare roaming around.” Sebastian admittedly looked sceptical about it, if it were that large he doubted it would be easy for it to go missing.
“How massive are we talking?” he queried, watching as Iomor gestured towards Kaiser.
“From what we’ve heard, I would come up to around its neck,” Kaiser remarked. The news caused Sebastian to freeze; Kaiser was the tallest being that he had ever seen, for something to be even taller was not a pleasant idea. He thought on it for a minute; in a straight fight he was able to take down the great demon, but it was always a close battle between the two.
“Could you still take it down?” Sebastian said, of course, they knew nothing of the creature, except for its supposed height.
“You doubt me?” Kaiser jested, but Sebastian’s expression remained firm.
“I’m being serious here Kaiser, I don’t want to send you to your death.” Kaiser became notably more concerned after his retort.
“Sorry,” he sighed, “it’s hard to judge from what we know, but I don’t see why not.”
Iomor nodded and pulled a canvas sack from his back. It was bursting with long parchment scrolls, all rolled up. “Come, we have much to discuss,” he spoke up, steering the flow of the conversation back on track.
* * *
Arariel bobbed down the corridor, obtaining weird looks as he went. By now the angel had learnt to ignore them, they more just thought him odd rather than harbouring any desire to actively attack them. He would have expected anyone who wished to harm him to have tried by now. The angel stopped outside a familiar door and gave it a small knock before entering; the stone doors were not pleasant to knock on, nor did they make much sound when struck. Dumon was sat at Solomon’s side, fussing at him while he laid on the bed, something that didn’t appear to be the best received.
“Morning Arariel,” Dumon spoke as he turned to regard the angel, “feeling alright?” He gave a nod in reply. It satisfied Dumon; not that he doubted Solomon’s healing had failed.
“I have a bit of a plan,” Solomon spoke up, “with your help I think we could pull it off well.” Arariel was surprised but beckoned for him to continue, which he did so.
* * *
He was unsure how to react to what he was told. It was an extreme request, far past what he could have ever expected, more so considering he had only known him for a few days.
“I know it’s beyond the realm of acceptable, but I think we could really help to turn the tide of battle.”
“How do I know I’ll even come out alive?” Arariel snapped back at him. Solomon sighed, how had he expected him to react?
“The only way you’ll die is if I die as well,” Solomon reassured him, “we can do a blood pact for reassurance if you so wish.” The talk of doing even more dark magic made him shudder, but he could not deny that a blood pact would be effective. If Solomon broke his half of the pact, he would die. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.
Dumon stood up and pulled Arariel aside for a second, wanting to clear up any misconceptions. “Kid look, Solomon may be overly eccentric in his ideas but he would never betray anyone,” he whispered to him. He knew it was a questionable thing to suggest, but evidently Solomon felt as if Arariel was the only person he could successfully pull it off with. Arariel sighed, he did feel bad about snapping at Solomon; the demon evidently trusted him.
“Scrap the pact, I’ll put my trust in you,” he replied with an underlying hint of wariness. The news cheered Solomon up considerably, however.
“Thank you, friend,” Solomon grinned, offering out a hand from underneath the covers for a handshake.
“Why don’t you get off your lazy backside and do it properly?” Dumon remarked, throwing a peek at Solomon. Arariel chuckled as he watched the exchange between the two. Solomon was less than pleased but did as he was told. As he stood up, Arariel could see possibly why he wished to remain underneath the covers; Solomon apparently did not opt to wear much when he slept.
“Oh right…” Dumon murmured, shaking his head and laughing at the sight. The handshake went ahead and Solomon covered himself back up, hoping to end the awkwardness.
Shouts from outside got their attention, the tone of the voices were not content ones either. Arariel turned and opened the door wide, throwing himself out into the corridor. Nightmares poured into the castle, striking down those who bravely tried to defend the entrance. He recognised a few of the creatures that flooded in. The aptly named Banshee which let out deafening shrieks and the Acromantis, a dangerous creature that possessed scythe-like arms and a habit of setting itself on fire. From his position, he could also see that the massive doors of the entranceway were being kept open by the bulbous legs of one creature he had never seen before. Taking it down would be a high priority, the rest would become much more manageable if he could cut off the entranceway.
Arariel slipped his hand into his robes and grabbed a set of throwing knives, such small weapons would have a hard time piercing deep enough to kill the monster, so he would have to use his magic to force them into the carapace body. He broke out into a run, being greeted by an Acromantis as he went, its scythes arcing towards his body. As he angled himself to throw the blades, a black dart streaked past him and seeped into the red, pulsing crystals that lined its back. It shrieked in pain and barrelled out of his way, straight into the castle wall, causing it to shudder and stagger backwards. Before it could react again the crystals turned dark and exploded, the creature shattered down onto the floor soon after.
“Nice shot!” Arariel shouted behind him. A now fully clothed Solomon stood there, sending more devastating bolts towards the Nightmares that blocked the angel’s way.
“You get the big ugly one, I’ll keep the smaller ones off you,” Solomon yelled after him, he too had noticed the one allowing the monsters free access. As he reached the nearest door it became obvious there were far more Nightmares than what was managing to enter; the soldiers placed on defence were doing an excellent job at holding the others back, considering the short notice of the attack. The multitude of legs that were holding the door open became fully visible, as well as their owner. It was almost spider-like in its shape, with one pair of legs short and two pairs of arms extra. No crystals were obviously apparent from his position, making locating a vulnerability difficult.
As the creature shifted to keep itself straight, the tell-tale glow became notable between the plates on its back. They must be concealed underneath; it was going to take some effort to take this one down.
Arariel took to the air but was soon greeted by those that earned the name Splitter; their mouth was able to split open wide enough to nearly swallow an angel whole, without the poisoning barb on their tail and its inherent magic as well. He flapped his elegant wings hard, managing to shift himself enough to dodge the one that was advancing on him fast. It collided with the wall where it gripped on tight with its talons, preparing to take off again. Before he could relax more flew at his position, cutting off his ability to dodge.
Crossbow bolts ripped out from behind the angel’s shoulder, knocking one out of the air. Seeing the newly made opening, Arariel threw his blades into the crystal lined skin of a second, allowing him to narrowly dodge the rest. Glancing behind him, he saw Iomor holding tight to a metal crossbow, firing off bolts faster than Arariel could follow. Sebastian and Kaiser were behind him, ready for the battle ahead of them.
“Kaiser will immobilise that large one while I cut off the arms,” Sebastian shouted into the hallway, “Arariel you try to find a way to access those crystals.” A mixture of magic and crossbow bolts cleared the path in front of them; Sebastian seized the opportunity and rushed forward, diving under the creature’s head. He felt the creatures’ claws nick his shoulders as he went. No pain was immediately notable so he picked himself up, out of the range of the stubby arms, readying his blades. The blades surged with energy, sending dark tendrils racing across the obsidian metal. With a swift snap of his arms, the blades cut deep into the connecting joint of the back pair of arms, rending a long crack through the body. The resistance of the thick, earthy coloured body surprised him; it took additional strength to drive the blades in deeper.
It howled in pain as he continued but did not budge, evidently unwilling to give up in its task of holding the doors open. With another forward surge, the back arms broke free and shattered on the ground, prompting Sebastian to continue with his momentum, driving the blades through the underside of the body towards the frontal set of arms.
As soon as the second set of arms shattered on the floor below, Kaiser bowled forward, placing his hands between the creatures legs and heaving it up. The creature dug its legs in tight, but Kaiser continued to lift, slowly managing to drag the far set away from the door. It flailed its legs wildly as they broke free from the door, trying desperately to hit anything that still remained below it. Sebastian had long since moved out of the way, however.
He dragged the creature away from the other door, allowing those defending the entranceway to reduce their area they had to protect. Crushing its legs into the ground, he used his body to stop the creature from moving, causing it to scream in frustration as he continued to pin it.
“Now!” Kaiser shouted, but the others needed no prompting to move into action. Sebastian climbed onto its back, slipping into a gap that Kaiser had left and shoved his blades deep into the tough skin. Arariel meanwhile investigated the creatures head. Two bulging, glowing sacs attracted his attention; the crystals weren’t visible but he could sense the magic from the skin. He took his knives and spread them evenly between his hands, lining them up with the sacs. They went flying towards the head, empowered greatly by his magic.
The knives bit deep, sending the creature into a frenzy; it violently lurched back and knocked Kaiser back a step. Such a movement also knocked Sebastian to the floor, winding him. Sebastian heaved himself up and retrieved his blades from its back, before leaping forward and driving the obsidian metal in after the throwing knives. It screamed once again before shuddering and collapsing down, a prompt hit from Kaiser causing it to shatter. Arariel found his knives among the fragmented pieces and placed them back inside his robes, gazing over to the entranceway. The situation was starting to become controlled and they were carefully funnelling the Nightmares through the doorway and cutting them down as they entered.
“I’m going to go warn Uriel,” Arariel panted, Sebastian nodded towards the angel; it would be best to warn the other two of an impending attack. The angel ran off towards the throne room, where the magical relay was housed, passing multiple demons that had come to investigate the commotion at the main entrance. No Nightmares had made it this far back yet, but he couldn’t help but feel wary. This attack had come completely unannounced, bypassing the outer defences of Shadekeep without as much as a peep. He entered the room and placed his hands on the relay, hoping for a response on the other end.
“I’m a little bit busy, what is it?” Uriel’s voice growled, his agitation indicated that Arariel was already too late on a warning.
“An attack,” Arariel’s words were as much a statement as a question.
“So we’re not the only ones,” Uriel sighed; Arariel could tell he had moved away from the relay, off to fight the intruders. He scrambled to attempt to contact Thardosean and warn them, the humans would have a far harder time dealing with what they just had to face.
* * *
Uriel marched out of his chamber, one hand firmly planted on the hilt of his ornate blade. The extravagant corridors below were bustling with angels who were reacting to the threat that had appeared; the main force had attacked the frontal entrance of Eriden. On the top floors, he was alone; no one of rank had remained up here, Sariel and Gabriel had already descended to the lower floors. He strolled up to one of the expansive windows that lined the top floor and looked out, observing the scene below. Uriel could see a seething mass of black surrounding the front entrance, but it did not appear to be managing to push in, however, to his relief.
“Please move away from the window Sire!” a voice shouted out behind him. Its owner came running past him and inserted himself in between Uriel and the window. “There’s a humongous flying beast outside, you must be careful, Sire,” the young servant boy continued, Uriel regarded him for a second before turning back to the window, he had, however, taken a couple of steps back.
“Do you know the situation below?” Uriel enquired, his presence in the fight would inspire as much as it would worry.
“Not a whole lot Sire, I was sent to warn you,” the boy admitted; he had no combat training so he had minimal use in a battle outside of messages.
A prominent cracking noise gained their attention seconds before a giant spiked tail cut through the wall, shattering the window and bursting out through the adjoining wall, launching debris flying out of the building. Uriel had missed it by an inch but the boy had not been so lucky. He could see his body falling among the debris, readily becoming covered by blood.
The angel scowled and leapt out the window, spreading his regal wings wide as he cleared the sharp, broken wall section. With precise manoeuvres, Uriel managed to grab the boy from the wreckage, turning swiftly to return to the damaged corridor. The offending creature was flying high above Eriden, he would have to be hasty in his actions; if such a creature slammed into the citadel it could potentially collapse the entire structure.
Terrified sobs emerged from the angel in his arms, the tail spike of the creature had pierced his abdomen severely. Blood flowed freely from the gaping wound, seeping into Uriel’s brilliant white armour. He laid the boy’s legs on the floor and pressed his now free hand against his chest. Healing magic was not his most well-known skill but he had an undeniably potent use of it. The damage began to close up, stopping the bleeding and closing the cavity for now, but after a hit like that Uriel knew that there were far more consequences than just the damaged flesh. It would have to do for now, any more in-depth healing would exhaust him too much to deal with the flying creature. He propped the boy against a wall away from the damaged section and stood up, drawing his blade.
“I’ll be back,” he spoke as he leapt back out the window and flew up after the creature. He would need to fight it away from the others to prevent its attacks from clipping the citadel.
The creature had stopped its ascent some distance above, too high for Uriel to fly safely. Uriel threw several waves of light tinged magic towards the creature. Due to the distance, they were unlikely to damage it, but he hoped it’d be enough to attract its attention to him. It regarded the situation for a minute, before descending into a steep dive, its path curved to meet Uriel where he flew. As the creature rapidly approached, he was able to get a good look at its body, or most importantly its weak spots. It had a deep blue body with a bright red wing membrane; the wing itself ended with three claws which clenched and then relaxed periodically as it went. Lighter blue scales lined its underbelly, ending near a set of stubby legs with clawed feet. Purple crystals laced its head, causing the whole thing to be brightly lit up. It would be easy to strike a meaningful hit on this one.
Uriel readied his blade, like Sebastian he too could infuse the blade with magic, a technique which was proving effective at piercing through the Nightmare’s inherent mana.
The creature came level with him; his blade darted out and slashed along the ridged head, scoring deep as it continued its descent passed him. It rapidly opened its wings in response; as they caught the air they slammed into Uriel’s back, forcing him to cry out in pain. He gritted his teeth and turned to face the now flying creature, every beat of his wings were agony but he had to remain strong.
It took in a deep breath before releasing a beam of what he could only guess to be chaos magic, straight towards him. He tucked his wings in and dropped down, narrowly missing the attack. Seizing the opportunity, he swooped forward and drove another blow into the creature’s head, before pushing off and flying over the shoulders of the creature, where another large crystal vein lie. Giving the monster no time to react, he drove the blade deep into the crystalline spine. It roared in pain, the sound was loud enough to vibrate the air around him.
It righted itself above the citadel and tucked in its wings. A final suicide mission before Uriel could manage to finish it off, or at least that was what it intended. He managed to grab onto the creature’s neck before the wind created by the speed it was falling smashed into him. Uriel’s wings were already tight to his body to avoid himself being knocked off by the current. Focusing all the magic he could muster into his blade, he dug the polished metal into the thick neck, pressing with all his strength. The blade bit and cut the head clean off. The creature shattered harmlessly into the top of the citadel as it collided with it, sending bits of its body flying all over. Uriel landed back into the ruined corridor and sheathed his blade. Sariel and Gabriel were tending to the boy; they had managed to repel the frontal attack in the time it had taken him to take down the other one.
He strolled over to them and they gave him a bow as he approached which he waved away, much to their surprise. “Is everything alright?” Uriel enquired, gazing down at the boy who by now was looking back up at him.
“Few injuries, some serious but no reported deaths yet,” Sariel replied; he was a muscular angel who wore equally as well defined armour. His wings were stocky, more designed for strong retreating bursts than long maintained flight and his hair was blonde in colour, highlighting his bright blue eyes. He served as an army commander alongside Gabriel, although Gabriel often acted more as Uriel’s first hand than anything else.
“This one will be fine also after some further treatment,” Gabriel added; he was tall for an angel but often hid his body behind long robes that sat over his armour. Majestic wings emerged from his back, the pinion feathers of his wings were far more elegant than that of a normal angel. For an angel, however, he had relatively dark brown hair which contrasted his pale grey eyes, which almost appeared to glow as the light caught them.
“Fine work,” Uriel remarked, taking a step forward. The pain in his back had become too much, though; as he moved he felt his body collapse under him and the world faded to black before him. Gabriel rushed forward to grab him. As he stopped his fall, he could see the bruised and scraped skin of the base of his wings. He gestured to Sariel who scooped the boy off the ground, before setting off for the healing quarters of Eriden.
* * *
Similar had occurred for Thardosean and the humans as well, though several causalities had been reported within Aelburn. They had faced an equally monstrous opponent, yet again different from the rest. The whole thing had been a show of power and an effective one at that, they certainly were starting to get the idea just what the Nether Plane contained. It had more than one intended effect, however; such a large scale attack close to when they were planning to launch an offensive was done with the intention of destroying morale. If anything it had the opposite effect; the efficient defeat of their opponent had boosted their spirits, even if the humans did need some persuading that the losses they had occurred weren’t a bad figure considering what they faced. One thing they could agree on was the fact they needed to strike as soon as possible, not deterring from their planned date.
Sebastian and Thardosean had noticed it was not Uriel they were speaking with, though; Gabriel had taken up the position in his stead. He wasn’t giving out any information as to why, though. If the angel had been seriously injured actively admitting so would not bode well by morale standards. With only a couple days left to go until they planned to strike, they set about finalising strategies. It would all be over soon, one way or the other.