Part 20 B

The air was hot and thick from where Abenander stood high up in the veranda; he stared at Rhozen and the other wizard who were clashing with the dangerous vermilion lightning high up above in the sky. Another deflection was performed and the lightning came striking down to the ground.

Abenander sensed from the link all his guild mates who were in pain, the healers were working themselves to exhaustion, and they healed only the most serious of wounds, in fear of all of them collapsing before the war was over. Abenander couldn't resist himself, he turned around to help with the healing but Lucia's hand caught him by the arm, the blue-haired black smith stared him down unyieldingly.

"Not yet Abenander, the guild must see you." Her grip on his arm tightened, she had a lean and slender body of a woman but her strength was all-smith.

Abenander knew that Lucia was correct, the guild was supposed to see him; they had to be able to look towards their guild master and see that he wasn't going to run away and hopefully make them want to stay and fight themselves.

Abenander stared back at Lucia for a while before he returned to his position. Lucia waited a few more seconds before she let go of Abenander's arm as if she was thinking that he would try to escape.

As Abenander looked down from the highest balcony in the castle, a strange luminescence that no priest couldn't possible recognize was coming from the clearing- an opening warp portal.

Abenander strained to see who was coming out, the clearing was far but the standard of whoever it was could just be seen if he focused hard enough. The people who came out began marching into the battle field and as they did the standard came nearer and became easier to distinguish.

A gasp escaped Abenander's mouth as he finally made out the images on the standard; it was yet another silver and leash, and behind the banner man stood Jared. Abenander couldn't contain his rage at seeing Jared, Jared was responsible for all of this, the suffering of Malacca could all be pinned down on that one man, and Abenander swore to make him pay for that.

Abenander turned towards the black smith "It's time Lucia, we have to fight now," he ordered in a manner befitting of a guild master. Lucia didn't disagree but merely nodded and followed Abenander into the castle obediently.

Whether it was an unlucky twist of fate or if some greater force was moving the events in the world, the two Malaccan masters left the veranda untimely by just mere seconds too early.

The force of Suldam seemed to regain new vigor at seeing reinforcements arrive, but it was quickly lost.

Vornamen stepped forward beside the banner man, he raised his hand towards the standard and flame immediately erupted from his palms setting fire to the flag of Suldam, almost ceremoniously.

He then point the same hand at the nearest Suldam guild mate-a knight- and a bolt of electricity discharged from his palm burning right through the knight's chest.

"What the hell do you think you're doing sage?" shouted a Suldam hunter. Vornamen turned towards him and let off a series of lightning bolts until there was nothing left of the hunter.

The rebel faction immediately charged into the battle fore and began fighting with the guild members of Suldam.

This caused a massive confusion within the ranks of Suldam; most of its guild members recognized at least one person from the rebel faction, so to them they saw their guild members killing each other, the hysteria caused them to turn on their other guild mates who weren't with the rebels.

Malacca on the other hand was more than happy to see Suldam going at each other's throats, they didn't fully understand what was occurring but they were in no position to complain.

Jared stayed close to Vornamen who did a wonderful job at calling down lightning on every enemy that tried to come too close, and every rare time that somebody managed to, Jared treated the sword like an over-sized dagger and did a well enough job himself. He wasn't one trained to use a sword, he could use a knife or a dagger like everyone else, but he was running blind with Ituralde's sword.

"Go find Ituralde, Jared. Kill him the first chance you get!" bellowed Vornamen as he summoned forth another bolt of lightning.

Jared stared at the sage, "But Vornamen, I thought you wanted to kill Ituralde? I only want to save Persha."

The sage didn't look at Jared but smiled. "Turian and I always argued about which one of us would be the one to rid this world of Ituralde once he had the chance," he said. Vornamen finally turned towards Jared and met him eye to eye. "You remind me so much of him, every action, every expression and most importantly his passion to do what he believed in was right. Jared, you may be the only way that I let my old friend be the one that kills Ituralde."

The twang of a bowstring sounded somewhere within the battle, an arrow flew straight for Jared; Vornamen saw the arrow coming and quickly stepped between the forth coming arrow and the bard. As expected, the arrow struck Vornamen on the left side f his chest.

Jared watched as the sage fell to the ground with the arrow protruding from his chest.

"Vornamen!" shouted Jared as he caught the sage in his arms. The sage was coughing out blood with every exhalation he did. "Weiss come here!" shouted Jared calling for the auburn-haired priest.

Weiss quickly attended to the dying Vornamen, he pulled out the arrow and placed his hands over the wounds. The white light emanated from his palms and closed the puncture to Vornamen's chest but the sage still continued coughing out blood.

Jared looked up at Weiss who shook his head. "The arrow punctured his heart and lungs; I was trained to be a priest for battle. This is much beyond my skills as a healer." said Weiss sorrowfully.

"You have to be able to do something!" shouted Jared desperately "I thought priests had powers to pull people out from death?"

"I require a blue gemstone to resurrect someone and the person I resurrect will retain his old wounds and die all the same. There's nothing more we can do."

Tears began streaming down Jared's cheeks he spoke to Vornamen, "I thought I had finally found someone who looked out for me like my old master did. You can't die yet Vornamen,"

Vornamen smiled despite his current state and grasped Jared's hand with his own. Jared was surprised at how strong Vornamen's grip was still. "No matter how much you see your master in me Jared," he said feebly "It is nothing compared to how much I see him in you." Vornamen reached for the sword that Jared had dropped and placed it back in the bard's hands. "Go on Turian, my old friend, fulfill our vision." with that Vornamen closed his eyes and his head fell back.

Weiss began reciting a prayer for the dead, and Jared stood up. He sensed Ituralde through the link and found him at the breach. He immediately set off in that direction.

As Weiss knelt down beside Vornamen's dead body, saying his lament prayer, he said a separate prayer for Jared.

Persha fired an arrow, this time she was sure that it would finally hit Ituralde. Unfortunately the arrow shattered under Ituralde's sword once again.

Persha felt for the arrows remaining in her quiver and her eyebrows arched in agitation as she realized there were only four left. She couldn't waste any of them anymore, she had to be creative.

Ituralde tightened his grip on his sword handle, the blade glowed orange and began to pulsate. He ran up to Persha, and brought his sword down full force. Persha jumped into the air to evade the slash, Ituralde's sword missed her again by centimeters, but it hit the floor and an explosion erupted where it did.

Persha was thrown back by the explosion; she slammed into the floor brutally her quiver and arrows smashing under her. One of her ribs was bruised and she strained to push her self up.

As she did a pair of feet in greaves approached her. She looked up and saw Ituralde staring down at her masochistically.

"Down already, girl?" Ituralde mocked "I have to say I expected more, might I remind you how fiercely you fought during the last guild wars? You brought down an entire regiment of my guild all by yourself. Where's is that ferocity now? I want to see it! I want to fight it!"

Despite the pain Persha spoke back "It didn't go anywhere," replied Persha straightforwardly. With all her remaining might she swung the bow in her hands and it broke in half on Ituralde's face.

Ituralde had his hand over his face where Persha smashed the bow in half. He slowly brought it down revealing his face to be bloody where pieces of wood from the bow had embedded themselves.

"My my," he said chuckling "Apparently it didn't" he raised his sword over his head and it began to glow orange and pulsate more violently than the first time. Before Ituralde could slash down, a sword ran him through the back and pierced all the way until it came out the other side of his body.

"That's for everything you did to me," said Jared through clenched teeth. He pulled out his sword and Ituralde slumped down to his knees.

"Jared," shouted Persha, once she spotted her lover. Jared immediately ran and knelt beside her.

"Persha you're hurt," said Jared placing his hand over hers. He was so happy that she was talking to him, after what happened in the garden; he thought that she would hate him forever. "I'm sorry for everything Persha," he began crying on her hands, refusing to look into her eyes "I'm so sorry; I hurt you, I'm so sor…"

Persha kissed Jared and stopped him from speaking. Jared was lost in his kiss with Persha, he was happy that she was speaking to him, but she still loved him. After everything that had happened, after all the secrets were revealed she still loved him and that only made him love her more.

In the middle of the kiss Persha suddenly pushed Jared aside, at first Jared didn't know what was happening then he saw the dreadful sight in front of him. Ituralde had attempted to stab Jared but Persha saw him coming and pushed Jared aside making Ituralde's sword plunge into her chest instead.

Jared didn't want to believe what was happening, he had killed Ituralde already yet the man was there, and he had killed Persha.

Ituralde placed his boot on Persha's shoulder and kicked her off his sword. He turned to Jared and opened his palm to reveal what he held. It was an empty potion bottle; there were still some traces of nearly transparent white liquid on the bottom.

"You better had made sure that I was really dead, didn't you Jared." said Ituralde as he threw the potion bottle aside. It shattered into a million pieces as it hit the floor, much like Jared's life when he saw Persha die.

Jared was still in shock, he couldn't say anything or do anything; he just stared at Persha's lifeless body. He wasn't crying- this was too much pain that he couldn't even cry over it.

Ituralde realized that Jared wasn't paying attention to him; he just stared at the dead form of his lover. "Well, I promised you that I would kill her in front of you didn't I? You should know by now Jared, whenever I promise something, I always deliver."

Ituralde's words hit a nerve and snapped Jared out of his shock. He turned towards the knight his anger beyond measure. He gripped unto his sword so forcefully that his knuckles began to turn white.

Ituralde took out another potion bottle from his person. He flipped open the stopper with his thumb and immediately smoke and a sizzling sound came out. The liquid inside the bottle was red and almost luminescent. Jared recognized it immediately, it was a berserk potion.

Ituralde quickly glugged down all the contents into his mouth ravenously, a quarter of it spilling all over the front of his tabard. He shattered the bottle on the floor afterwards and in seconds the potion began to take effect.

His pupils dilated and his veins and arteries came bulging out from his temples and the sides of his neck. His muscles enlarged thrice their size and ripped through his cloths while his armor could barely contain them.

He dashed directly in front of Jared in a flash and brought up his knee to Jared's gut at high speed. Jared was launched into the air with all the wind knocked out of him. Before Jared could even begin to fall back towards the ground, Ituralde jumped up and slammed the pommel of his sword on the small of Jared's back.

Jared couldn't even fight back, Ituralde was moving to fast for him to follow, and he could only let himself be thrown around by Ituralde. He felt like a mouse that was being played with by a cat before it was eaten.

Abenander finally reached the entry towards the garden where the breach was struck; Lucia had gone to fetch whoever she could find to help.

As he turned the corner he was met by a gigantic pile of rubble that completely prevented him from getting to the breach. He didn't have time for anything else; his only choice was to go up to the window overlooking the breach and teleport down.

Abenander turned on his heel and made for the stairs. He wasted enough time as it was, hopefully he wasn't too late. He ran as fast as his feet could carry him, faster than he ever went in his entire life.

Jared was lying on the ground unable to move after continually being thrown around like a rag doll; Ituralde was going to prolong this suffering as much as he could. He didn't want to kill Jared so quickly that all the so called "fun" would be lost.

Jared had to think of a way to fight back, he dug deep within his mind and a solitary memory resurfaced.

It was completely black, everything was dark. It wasn't night time nor was Jared in an enclosed room; he simply wore a dark blindfold over his eyes.

"Listen to my voice, Jared" Jared immediately recognized the voice, it was Turian's. This was one of his first training sessions with his old master when he was still a very young archer aspiring to be bard.

"Explain to me how an archer improves his concentration when using a bow," asked Turian. His voice seemed to come all over the room, as a bard he could manipulate his voice, project it so it would be near impossible to know where he was without your eyes.

Jared obediently answered his master's question in his voice as a child. "Master, when the spirit and balance of the shooting is correct the result will be for the arrow to arrive in the target. An archer must empty his mind focus on the movement of pulling back the bowstring, focus on the target, and be one with his bow and his surroundings."

"Excellent Jared, but do you think you can do the same as a bard? Do you think that you can do what you do with your bow and arrow, except this time with sound?

Jared hesitated "I'm not sure Master, I've never tried."

The sound of a violin began to fill the room. Jared knew it to be his master's nobody in the world could play as well.

"Now empty your mind young one," Turian said as he continued playing "Do as you do with your bow, but this time with the sound around you."

Jared did as he was told he didn't know how long it took but slowly, images began forming in his head, every sound bounced off from all the surfaces in the room then back into his ears where his mind would process them.

Jared was ecstatic the first time he managed to perform the skill, with the sound he could sense the most minuscule grooves in the walls, and he could distinguish a solitary hair on his head from all the others. It was like seeing with your eyes only more.

The music stopped and Jared's blindfold was taken off. Turian was staring at him with a broad smile on his face. "I'm very proud of you Jared" he said "Very proud."

Jared went back into reality; a smiled appeared on his face. He stood up and mouthed a thank you to his master. Ituralde stood in front of Jared, chuckling like the mad man he was.

Jared ripped a piece of cloth from his jacket and tied it over his eyes, immediately when the make-shift blindfold shrouded everything in darkness, the images from Jared's hearing began to form.

Ituralde's chuckling made enough sound for Jared to see his face; the lightning strikes also provided a good source of sound for Jared to create a perfect area of the area around him.

"Prefer to be blind folded when you die," asked Ituralde barley managing to keep his chuckling down. "I'll grant you your request Jared, Now die!"

Ituralde dashed towards Jared, preparing to deliver his final slash. He swung his arm as strongly as he could but was surprised when the dull sound of steel meeting steel reverberated in the air.

He slashed again and again but each time Jared managed to block his attacks each time. His fury began building up and his attacks became more savage with each succession.

Jared listened closely; he heard the slightest change in Ituralde's strikes as his sword cut through the air. He saw Ituralde's footing change with every scratch they made on the ground.

Ituralde slashed for wildly, completely forgetting all the stances and perfect forms needed for using a sword. Jared ducked and the sword passed over his head, he followed through with a slash of his own that sliced of Ituralde's arm.

Ituralde let out a roar of pain as his arm was hacked clean off together with his sword. He attempted to reach for another potion with his remaining arm but Jared kicked it out of his hands and it smashed on the wall, impossible to be drunk.

Jared pulled of his blind fold and walked over to Ituralde who was trying to crawl away.

"That was for my arm!" he shouted as he picked up Ituralde by the collar. "This is for Vornamen!" Jared shouted as he thrust the sword into the knight's gut, "This is for my master!" he said doing the same thing. "And this is for Persha!" Jared let go of Ituralde's collar and swung the sword as much as he could. The blade cut off Ituralde's head as cleanly off as a decapitation could be.

The knight's headless body fell on the floor and as it did, miles north in the Suldam guild castle, the emperium began glowing violently, the first crack appeared followed by another then a third until it completely shattered into a million pieces.

Back in the Malaccan guild house, Jared felt the guild link created by the emperium slowly dissipate. Ituralde hadn't chosen anybody to succeed him as guild master, so the emperium shattered into itself. He and the rebel faction would have felt the dissipation of the guild link earlier since they didn't want it and rejected it. The other Suldam members would not be able to sense the guild's destruction for a few more minutes.

Jared ran to Persha, and took her into his arms. He strained to hear her heart beating but it wasn't. Persha was dead he couldn't bring her back.

As he cried on Persha shoulder there was an eruption of light behind him, He quickly turned around and grabbed the sword, if anybody wanted to desecrate Persha's body they would have to go through him.

As he turned around a fist slammed into his jaw. "What did you do to her!" shouted Abenander as pushed Jared away and took Persha into his arms.

The misunderstanding was apparent, Abenander saw Persha with a wound caused by a sword to her chest, and Jared was kneeling over her bloody sword grasped in his hand. If only the body of Ituralde still had its head then everything would be more understandable but sadly it wasn't.

Abenander pulled out a blue gemstone from his robe then placed it over Persha's heart. He kissed the dancer girl on the forehead before he laid her down on the ground.

He took out a mace from his belt that was plated with solid gold, it resembled a golden scepter but it was what it was, a weapon used to bludgeon others to death. Abenander rarely fought; in fact he had only taken out his mace seven times in his lifetime. But if it was a final resort he had to use it

"You killed Persha!" shouted Abenander swinging his golden mace violently.

"I didn't kill her!" Jared desperately tried to explain, while he blocked Abenander's attacks.

"All the words you speak are lies! Malacca lies in ruin because of you! Persha died because of you,"

Abenander's word affected Jared and the younger man failed to guard himself from the following attack. The mace slammed into his temple and he fell on the ground disoriented.

Abenander threw his mace to the side and began punching Jared repeatedly. He didn't want to listen to any of Jared's explanations.

Persha found herself in a place surrounded completely in white light, she was flying or floating, she wasn't too sure. Her memories were vague she could remember things that happened before but they were just out of reach for her to bring to the surface, but for some reason she didn't care. She felt at peace and all the burdens and pains of life were gone.

Suddenly in the infinite whiteness she heard a voice, it was calling her. She couldn't name the voice, she recognized it but only as if from a dream. She listened to it, it was distant but she knew it was calling for her.

Then she finally knew to whom that voice belonged to, she mouthed it "Jared". Immediately when she said the name a force began to tug on her weakly at first then more forcefully. She was moving, the force was pulling her the infinite whiteness had disappeared, she was in space with the stars and other heavenly bodies but she still traveled fast and they all just whisked by her faster than a blink of an eye.

On and on she traveled until she saw Midgard, she came down from the sky free falling into the earth, it was less than a second when she realized she was falling into her body, when she did she woke up and gave an extremely deep gasp like she was dunked into a pool of ice water.

She looked at her palms then felt her face, she was alive again. She remembered pushing Jared aside and taking Ituralde's strike herself. She fingered her chest where the sword had stabbed her and found nothing there.

Then, she remembered that Jared and Ituralde were still there, she looked around and found Abenander and Jared fighting instead.

"Abenander stop!" she shouted running towards the two men.

Jared saw Persha alive again and was yet again distracted so he took Abenander's fist to his face for the second time. He couldn't believe it Persha was alive; Abenander had brought her back to life.

Persha grabbed unto Abenander's arm trying to hold it back from striking Jared again. "Abenander please stop! Jared isn't evil!" she begged. The priest pushed her aside and continued punching the bard.

"Get back into the castle Persha! This man killed you and you're protecting him!" shouted Abenander

"He didn't kill me Abenander! Please stop," begged Persha yet again as she desperately tried to restrain Abenander.

"Persha! This man must pay for what he has done to Malacca! Look around you and see for yourself, this is his doing, he must die!" Abenander picked up a sword that was lying on the ground and lifted it over his head.

"No!" shouted Persha as she stepped in front of Abenander and pushed him back with all of her strength.

The priest stumbled back into the wall and fate proved to be a cruel mistress yet again, for all the places that the lightning from the two dueling wizards in the sky could have struck, it struck the wall directly over Abenander. The wall collapsed over the priest, crushing him under its enormous weight and killing him within the moment.

A surge ran through, the Malaccan guild link. The war turned silent for all the red stallions. The guild master had died, his presence gone from the link. Whether coincidence or an omen, the gigantic flag of the rearing red stallion on the highest tower in the castle, ripped of its pole and came fluttering down to the ground.

The entry way from the castle which had been blocked by the debris was blasted open, and behind it stood, Adella, Lucia and Sonon.

They saw Jared and Persha together, and Abenander's arm was visible but the rest of his body was beneath the rubble. The arm was identifiable because of the birth mark on the back of Abenander's hand.

"Persha, how could you?" whispered Adella seeing the dead body of her brother.

A horn sounded in the distance, it was the reinforcements of Malacca finally arriving. The guildsmen of Suldam also began sensing the destruction of the emperium, and chaos began to ensue.

Lucia and Sonon charged at Jared and Persha, their weapons drawn. They were fueled by rage over the death of Abenander, no mercy was going to be shown Jared, he was going to be slaughtered and Persha was going to be dealt with later.

Suddenly light erupted in between the Malaccan guild mates and Jared and Persha, Lucia and Sonon skidded to a halt not knowing what to expect. Weiss and two mounted knights from the rebel faction had teleported to them.

"Quick Jared, get up!" said Weiss rather worn out, the strain of teleporting three people and two pecopecos really drained him. Jared helped Persha up on the second Pecopeco before he mounted himself.

The knights kicked the flanks of their mounts and the birdlike monsters immediately took off.

"We're going to the clearing, new portals were opened to let us escape," explained Weiss through ragged breath. They were reaching the clearing, and the warp portals were visible when in high up in the sky a larger than normal explosion was heard, one of the wizards failed to deflect the lightning and had finally lost.

The wizard came plunging down to earth, his body still surging with magical energy, once he slammed into the ground an explosion equivalent more devastating than the lightning would occur. In a few seconds he finally reached the ground and his magical power imploded into itself. There's was no sound only blinding light before the ground began to quake more violently than anything before.

The pecopecos reared, and Persha fell off, Jared tried to reach for her hand but missed by mere inches. The dancer toppled to the ground and Jared attempted to jump of as well but the knight held him back on Weiss' orders.

Persha stood up and tried to run after Jared but the pecopecos ran much too fast and the toiling earth made it difficult to run.

"Jared!" called Persha to her lover. "Don't leave me!"

"Persha! I love you; I'll meet you in Payon! I'll wait for you." Shouted back Jared, the pecopecos finally entered through the warp and it closed behind them with a wink.

Persha wanted to cry but she couldn't risk it, Jared would meet her in Payon. She stood up and ran into the forest.

Nighttime in the Payonese forests can only be described, as some would say as cold, damp and dark only lit by rays from the moon passing between the branches of the trees.

Persha stared up at the moon; her guild had left her there. They couldn't bear to see her die under their own hands so they left, better that she died without them having to see it.

She closed her eyes and tears streamed down her face; she couldn't even see Jared before she died. Then, as if fate had finally taken mercy of the cursed lovers, a stray chance led Jared near Persha; his arms were healed fully, allowing him to play his mandolin once again.

He played the song that he made for Persha, in hopes that she'd find him if she heard it. As he walked through the forest and played his song, he could hear someone calling his name, it was feint but to the ears of a bard it was enough.

He followed it until he came into a clearing and saw his beloved lying on the ground in a puddle of water and blood.

"Persha, what have they done to you?" said Jared sorrowfully, tears streaming down his face. Persha weakly opened her eyes and saw her lover's face.

"Jared, my love, I'm glad that I could see you before I die," she said.

"No, Persha don't say things like that. Please come back, I love you I can't loose you. Please come back."

Persha caressed Jared's face, her vision was dimming and her life was draining away by the second. "Jared please sing your song for me, I want to hear it."

Jared couldn't bear refusing to grant her request. So he did, he began to sing the song that was meant for her and her alone.

If I never knew you

If I never felt this love

I would have no inkling of

How precious life can be

And if I never held you I would never have a clue

How at last I'd find in you the missing part of me

In this world so full of fear

Full of rage and lies

I can see the truth so clear

In your eyes so dry your eyes

And I'm so grateful to you

I'd have lived my whole life through

Lost forever, if I never knew you

If I never knew you

I'd be safe but half as real

Never knowing I could feel

A love so strong and true

I'm so grateful to you

I'd have lived my whole life through

Lost forever, if I never knew you

I thought our love would be so beautiful

Somehow we made the whole world bright

I never knew that fear and hate could be so strong

All they'd leave us where these whispers in the night

But still my heart is singing we were right

If I never knew you

If I never knew this love

I would have no inkling of

How precious life can be

There's no moment I regret

Since the moment that we met

If our time has gone too fast I've lived at last...

I thought our love would be so beautiful

Somehow we'd make the whole world bright

I thought our love would be so beautiful

We'd turn the darkness into light

And still my heart is singing we were right

We were right and if I never knew you

I'd have lived my whole life through

Empty as the sky

Never knowing why

Lost forever if I never knew you

By the time Jared finished the song Persha was dead, but she had died smiling; happy that she saw Jared even if it was for the final time.

FIN

Well, that was it! I had a great time writing i hope you had a great time reading! Pls don't forget to review!