The Battle of Alfitaria
Powerful wings and the greater power of his fury at the Tipa caravanners (especially the Lilty who had been among them) carried Raem from Mount Vellenge to Alfitaria in less than a day, a journey that would have taken a crystal caravan ten times the duration if they were in a hurry.
The boundary stones, houses, and other buildings that stood on the western edge of the proud city, and the citizens that dwelt within, were the first things to fall at Raem's arsenal of destruction. The demon had bubbles of evil energy that could freeze, paralyze, or burn whomever they hit at his disposal, and a blue laser that made the ground explode wherever its point fell. Monsters from the surrounding myrrh shrines answered Raem's rallying roars as quickly as they could: abaddons, skeletons, and carrion-worms from the desecrated village of Tida to the east. The great gigas-lord Jack Moschet and his lamia wife Maggie led their coeurls, gargoyles, and tonberry chefs into the plunder from Moschet Manor to the southwest, and even gigan toads, griffins, and lizardmen crossed the miasma stream from Veo Lu to the west to answer Raem's call.
The Lilties that formed the army of Alfitaria took up spears and lances to fight off the great army of monsters and called on any and all other residents who could wield weapons of war to do the same. Meanwhile, the sudden Alfitaria-ward flight of an abaddon they had pursued roused the attentions of the caravan of Lilties from Marr's Pass. Nothing, however, could have prepared them to see Alfitaria, the proud city that had been the capital of the Liltian empire in the days of old, under attack by such a great monster-horde as Raem now bore down on the city.
"What're you waiting for?" the leader Rolf Wood demanded of his fellow caravanners. "Alfitaria needs our help!" None of them needed any further prompting to charge into battle.
The caravan of Yukes from Shella, too, were nearby enough to sense that the monsters that now overlooked four Yukes in favor of their northeast-ward pursuit probably equated to trouble even worse than a direct assault. The leader of that caravan, Amidatty, knew that his fears were confirmed when a moogle painted in stripes flew toward them in a panic, narrowly avoiding being chomped up by a flying gargoyle.
"The city's being attacked!" the moogle cried out. "Alfitaria is getting overrun with monsters! The people need all the help they can get, kupo!"
"No! Don't listen to that moogle—I know whom he serves!" interjected a female voice—a caravanner named Yufina. She had recognized the moogle as Artemicion, the moogle who traveled with an infamous band of thieves known as the Striped Brigands. For all anyone knew, and she certainly suspected, this was a trick intended as part of a ploy by the brigands to steal whatever they could get their sticky fingers around.
Artemicion drew back several inches with a betrayed look on his face. "But it's true!" he pleaded. "Alfitaria needs help! Kupo! You've got to help!"
Yufina looked at Amidatty from under her sallet, and then at fellow caravanners Bessamzan and Leonamiel. Even if it was true, and Alfitaria was indeed under attack, what should they care? The Lilties of Alfitaria had always been the enemy intent on conquest, and especially the enemy of the Yukes of Shella, for in the days of old the Yukes alone were able to resist the advancing Liltian armies by their magical prowess.
Bessamzan, however, shook his head at Yufina as if able to read exactly this thought on her mind. "We cannot hold the past against the people of Alfitaria now in their time of need," he told the caravan. "The monsters make their hardest hammer-stroke against the Lilty people now, but in truth their menace threatens all the peoples of this world. We must stop them quickly, before they can threaten others."
All it took was Amidatty's raising of a hammer to call the Shella caravanners to arms, into their wagon to ride into battle against the demon that sought to destroy all that the four peoples of this world held dear, with the tiny striped moogle following in their wake.
Already the edges of the proud Lilty city were crumbling under the onslaught of monsters that attacked. Raem, meanwhile, had taken to merely circling above Alfitaria to watch in amusement as the citizens struggled to defend their home.
Suddenly Raem's eye caught a movement just beyond the canals to the south—that of two Selkies, both wearing stripes similar to the moogle Artemicion's, who tried to escape the melee. He fired a laser-beam of evil energy at the escaping pair, which detonated like a bomb blast, killing the older man instantly and throwing the younger man into the canal.
The younger Selkie, whose name was Bal Dat, was able to swim to the shore fairly easily—Selkies were naturally excellent swimmers. Frantically, Bal Dat looked about in search of some means of either escape or of fending off the onslaught of monsters. At last he caught sight of a Lilty girl snatching up the spear of a fallen countryman and spinning it wildly at an attacking griffin, more bodies of slain Alfitaria denizens scattered nearby. Bal Dat picked up a hatchet from the hand of a slain Clavat boy and hurled it at the griffin. Very luckily, the hatchet hit its mark, burying itself in the middle of the monster's head to kill it.
"Thanks! Name's Elspeth, by the way, but you can call me Ellie," the Lilty girl piped up.
"Bal Dat," the Selkie answered in reply, quickly clasping Elspeth's outstretched hand—and just as quickly yanking her to the ground to evade the ice-breath blast of a gargoyle swooping down on the scene. "What was that thing?" he cried out in alarm once the monster had passed over them.
Elspeth found another spear and tossed it to Bal Dat. "Whatever they are, we have to fight them! We can't let these miasma-beasts take the city!" she called out, not only to Bal Dat but to everyone else in earshot. Soon she rallied a force of almost thirty citizens that had taken up weapons to combat a score of lizardmen now attacking the southwest edge of the city. A family of Yukes cast spells to defeat the enemies, while those with no magical aptitude fought with any weapon that they happened to pick up.
Raem circled and watched in amusement as everywhere citizens of Elspeth's bravery assembled groups of townsfolk to fight the legions of monsters. Even as the citizens beat back the monsters that attacked the outskirts, whenever enough of them fell in battle, Raem would then use their painful memories to form the miasmal remains of slain monsters into still-stronger minions: behemoths, death-knights, cerberi, and chimeras. These minions then wreaked havoc closer to the center of Alfitaria, where guards and soldiers struggled valiantly against them.
Suddenly, however, a violent crash descended upon the southwest edge of the city: the Yukes of Shella had arrived and brought Raem down with a powerful Graviga spell. But even on the ground the demon brought death upon the masses with his laser and bubbles of evil energy, crushing small buildings with the ends of his wings. The Lilty girl Elspeth threw her spear at Raem and succeeded in wounding him slightly, but met instant death for her effort: Raem made a swipe of his wing that flung her headfirst into the wall of the southern canal.
Bal Dat's horrified cry died in his throat as Raem took to the sky again. He just managed to dodge a fireball the demon aimed in his direction, but the bubble of flames hit a collection of what appeared to be market-stall tents, scattering burning wood and shrapnel everywhere. The redheaded Selkie tried to hide behind a section of broken wall but was soon knocked unconscious as more of the wall fell down and nearly buried him.
The fight that raged throughout Alfitaria continued until sundown and well into the night…until Raem realized that the miasma around the city was becoming too thin to draw together and form into monsters. The vale and the area around Shella and the sluice had, in one short day of vicious fighting, run dry of monsters—could it be that mortals had it in them to prevail when they united, even against one as powerful as he? Was it possible that the angels in Lady Mio's service fought among the Alfitarians today?
At last the demon retreated to Moschet Manor and, settling into the courtyard, tried to rethink things. The citizens of Alfitaria, aided in small part by the caravans of Marr's Pass and Shella, had united against the onslaught of Raem's minions—and with the Meteor Parasite destroyed, there was no longer enough miasma for monsters to continue bearing down on the city, at least not on the north part of the continent. Raem clamped his beak in outrage—this was not to be borne! He needed a greater source of pain, one that could enable him to form monsters without the miasma. Perhaps then, with his power thus bolstered, even the Lady Mio and her angels would be powerless to stop his reign of terror upon the four races of mortals! But who among mortals bore a memory painful enough to increase his power so?
Raem then remembered one—such a victim dwelled in the crossroads-town of Marr's Pass, and as it seemed, no angel protected her against misfortune. He would find her and harvest the painful memory she bore, and with his power thus magnified, he would become completely invincible, and bring suffering and death upon the entire mortal realm! Exulting in his brilliance, Raem spread his wings and started flying southward to Marr's Pass.
A/N: The battle against Raem is not officially over; I will be continuing it in my fic Sword of Redemption that features a crossover with another Final Fantasy game. Henceforth, however, chapters in this story will pertain chiefly to the aftermath and the new Golden Age beginning to rise.