The Forsaken Race; Quest of Blood

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 24 (v.1) - Desperate Measures

Submitted: March 15, 2019

Reads: 22

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Submitted: March 15, 2019

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The time was still early, sunlight beaming down on the rolling hills which separated the Aubade Palace and the Blood Forest. Dew still slowly dripped down the blades of grass, and things were mostly quiet.

Only two sylphs were present, now. However, instead of being professional soldiers, they scurried across the plane with desperate and determined efforts. These two were none other than the two newest recruits in the Aubade army.

Mao cried ahead, "This is insane!"

Yuna glanced back and hissed, "Shhh, we don't want to alert anyone who may be in the forest!"

Mao was still clearly uneasy. She bit her tongue, but her frightened look remained.

After all, this place was always scary, even when they had great reinforcement from multiple sergeants and some lieutenants. Darkness loomed over the place; not a literal dark, but a bad aura that nobody could see beyond. Why she and so many others felt it, very few knew, but she did not like it.

Mao skidded to a halt. "Yuna, let's just go back."

Yuna stopped, turning to face her. "Don't weasel out, now!"

"I don't want to," Mao insisted, "But this really is insane. We're going into enemy territory with no reinforcement. You can't honestly think that we'll do much; they'll kill us before we even come close to finding her!"

"We still have to try!" Yuna snapped. "You heard Surei, earlier. 'The only way you will bring Kita back is if you bring her back yourself.' So if they won't do it, then you and I have to!"

"But not like this!" Mao retorted. "Us alone is nothing to demons! They defeated six more of us like it was nothing! Just two will be like swatting mosquitoes. Not only that, but you don't even have a plan!"

"Dammit," Yuna muttered.

While she went on to keep cursing under her breath, Mao just looked down and tried to think to herself. When her mind came up blank, she sighed before speaking again.

"I know you want her back. So do I, but we can't lose our heads. Maybe if you have a decent plan, then we'll have a chance, and-" She gasped, "Wait, that's it!"

"What?" Yuna interrogated.

"Just two is nothing," Mao remarked. "But there was also a time where Kita was just like us. And she went in there by herself, with no weapon or combat training. Yet here she is, alive and fighting with the same people who threaten us. How did she do it?"

Yuna furrowed her brows, at loss for words. "I have no idea. She never said anything about what she did, you know. If she did, I can't remember very well."

"But Corelia revealed more than she thought," Mao continued. "Kita was 'recruited,' right? Not to mention the fact that they didn't kill her for selling out their two troops." She tapped the side of her head. "Well, think about it. She had to have had some leverage over the demons to have gotten there. And I highly doubt she made peace with them by acting like a soldier."

Yuna's eyes narrowed. "You don't mean..."

"We refuse to attack!" Mao chimed. "You say we go in there and steal, sneak, or demand answers, but we've established that it won't work. If we just-"

"That's ridiculous!" Yuna snapped. "Talk all you like, they'll just attack! It's their nature and instinct, and there's no use in trying to solve this peacefully."

"We can at least try, Yuna," Mao pressed. "If things go south, then we'll run or surrender."

Yuna crossed her arms, growling, "I already know what the result of that is. Try to act patiently, well-mannered, and they'll still cross you. Then keep going until it's their victory, not a draw. I won't let the past reenact itself." She snapped, "We go in with our swords unsheathed, and with no mercy. We'll get the answer out of them by force."

Mao arched one brow. "Forgive me, Yuna, but what kind of blinded idiot have you become?! It's been proven that they'll squash us if we make a threat out of ourselves. Even if we were to resort to 'force it out' measures, a head-on attack isn't going to work." She sighed, "Besides, I know what you're talking about, and look harder. You're not a little girl anymore, and these are a lot different from those Kaen Demons."

"A demon is a demon," Yuna retorted. "A different variant doesn't make it any less monstrous."

Mao looked more solemn. "Whether that's true or not, it won't happen again. I know you miss them, but maybe it's time to let go. You can't hold this grudge forever."

"Watch me," Yuna spat. She then sighed, "But, you made a point about us being overpowered. I guess we can try it your way."

Mao nodded, smiling again. "It'll be alright, I promise. We'll both come back, and at the very least, we'll find more priceless information about Kita's condition and whereabouts." She chimed, "Now, let's go in there, swords sheathed!"

Yuna nodded, while Mao spun and merrily strolled ahead, still going toward the forest. Yuna followed more like a shadow, which was more typical.

Always have the spotlight, princess, whether you try or not.

They drew closer and closer to the forest, but things seemed slightly less glum now. Once again, Mao's positive nature had repressed the dark mood just enough to give a spark of hope, or make it more prominent. Sure, she wasn't much of a fighter, but she was the one who reminded others of their reason to fight. Youth, innocence; what they had to defend in their home.

It didn't take exceedingly long for the two to cross through the forest, finding the Blood Stream. Mao skipped across the rocks, landing on the opposite bank. Yuna followed without hesitance, but still kept her hand on the hilt of her sword. She was clearly ready to attack.

As they went on, deeper into the demon's side of the forest, Yuna was clearly feeling offset.

She remarked, "I feel strange. It's like every time I come into this place, I can feel the...the darkness, or- no, not that. It's like I'm under a spell."

"It must be..." Mao wiggled her fingers. "The curse on this place. The curse of all the spirits who roam this forest, haunting anybody to pass."

Mao made a mockingly spooky face, making Yuna laugh.

"Alright," Yuna remarked, "While you deal with the spirits, I'll worry about the demons."

Mao looked around. "Speaking of which, how do you know if we'll find any out here?"

"I've been studying," Yuna answered. "There's no exact schedule, and if there is, it's very unorganized. However, one thing's for sure. They always come to the Blood Forest at least once per day, possibly more. If we don't find any at this time, we can come back later and have an even higher chance."

Mao muttered, "So we came out here without even knowing if this'll work?"

Yuna picked up a rock and threw it into the air.

"Alright, monsters!" She yelled. "We don't have all day!"

"Yuna!" Mao hissed. "Remember, we come in peace!"

"I know," Yuna retorted. "That doesn't mean I have to be nice to them. As a matter of fact, it's more about being hon-"

Mao smacked her. "Stop it now!"

Yuna glowered back, but Mao just smiled happily.

"Now let's go, silly, we have a work to do."

Mao turned back, but winced when she hit her head on something metal. She first cursed the object, but then shuddered at the sight.

It was a loaded gun; not a small one, either, with a caliber large enough to shoot a pocket watch.

'TCHK-tchk!'

Mao felt her heart skip a beat as the marksman pumped the gun, ready to shoot.

Sadly, he was somewhat familiar, like she'd seen him in battle before. A very tall demon, with vibrant red-orange hair and lighter orange eyes. He didn't look merciful, at the moment.

Yuna immediately recognized the ginger's friend, though. The Zyrean with dark green hair. Despite being short and scrawny, he was one of the most dangerous, making it all the more unnerving to see that he had his hand on the hilt of a sheathed machete.

"Dammit." The beta glared over them. "Only two of them?"

"So, rats?" Asked the marksman. "Where's the rest of your posse?"

Mao raised her hands. "I-It's just us, sir, I promise. We did not come to cause any harm."

The marksman groaned irately, "Why are all the sylphs doing this, nowadays?"

"All the sylphs?" Yuna interrogated. "So this isn't a first time?"

The beta sneered, "Actually, it's the third. Now, you know the drill; tell us why you're really here, or you're going back with a few scars." His eyes narrowed. "That is, if you go back at all."

"It's a simple question," Mao insisted. "We just want to know what happened to our friend. Rumor has it that she's been coconspiring with you, and we want answers."

"Search your own people, then," Scorch retorted. He then seemed unsure. "Well, actually, not all of them. The nobles and royals probably wouldn't tell a shred of truth, or-"

"Enough," the beta sighed. "You're talking about Kita, aren't you?"

"Who else?" Yuna muttered. "What did you do to her? Where is she? Give her back!"

"Don't talk to us like that," Timbur snapped. "She's not a hostage, it's just that she's done being a brainwashed moron, and decided to fight for something more than a fake paradise and a psychotic bitch who wears a crown."

"Watch it," Yuna snapped, grabbing the hilt of her sword. "How dare you speak of her majesty in such a manner!"

The marksman suddenly looked stricken. "Wait a minute...What was it..."

Timbur glared over him. "What is what, you idiot?"

The marksman stayed silent for a good few seconds, but what he said next made anyone shocked.

"You wouldn't happen to be Yuna and Mao, would you?"

Yuna's eyes narrowed. "Who, exactly, is-"

"Yes!" Mao responded. "I am Mao Atsuya. My friend, here, is Yuna Atris."

The beta nudged his partner. "How the hell did you know that?!"

"Jem told me," the marksman insisted. "She said that Corelia mentioned them recently, when fighting in the moors. She used these two as leverage to get to Kita. As a result, Kita did that little fire trick which started half the current chaos."

"What does that mean?" Yuna pressed. "Where is Kita now?!"

"It's none of your business," the beta snapped. "Don't bother trying to get her back, got it? She's shown that her loyalty is to us, not you. Stop this stupid little rebellion; you'll just have to let it go and return to Sybilius without her."

"No!" Yuna snapped. "Kita's our sister. We're not going to leave her! Even if that is the truth, then I want to hear it from Kita herself, not some little demonic queer!"

Timbur snarled at the insult, reflecting pure rage.

The marksman hid his laughter. "Timbur, is there something you're not telling us?"

"Shut it!" Timbur snapped. He suddenly put his machete to Yuna's neck. "What do you think you're doing here, huh? You know we can kill you with one flinch!"

Yuna unsheathed her sword. "As if that'll happen!"

As Yuna charged, Timbur kicked her low, made her topple, then grabbed her by the neck and held her off the ground.

"You little brats!" He snarled. "Who the hell do you think you are?! You think that once you get a pretty blade and shiny armor that you're a match for us?!" He sneered, "Who do you think we are? We've been fighting this war since before you or your mother were even conceived, and slaughtered hundreds of mindless royals' pawns just like you, some easily a hundred times more deadly than you'll ever be."

Timbur tightened his grip, his rage now turned to the deep-seated bloodlust of a true demon.

"You fools..." He growled. "You're nothing but a bunch of whiny, spoiled sluts who don't know the first thing about what a battle even is. You don't belong here, or in that armor. You're not built to be anything more than worthless."

Timbur threw her to the ground, making her choke and gasp.

"Now go away," he spat. "You're not like Kita or even one of your own soldiers. You've no right to be interfering like this."

"But-"

"Enough!"

Mao clasped a hand over Yuna's mouth, but still helped her back to her knees. She seemed unsteady, her lip quivering.

"Stop it," Mao pleaded. "We know we don't belong here. We're not fighters, never have been, and never will be. But Kita..." She clenched her teeth. "She's not our friend, she's our sister. We're all she had to turn to, and vice-versa. We've never been separated like this, and it's all the more horrifying in this scenario. We just want to have her back; even if that's not possible, we at least want to see her again."

"Kita has our protection," the marksman responded. "She's doing perfectly fine without you."

Mao looked down and sighed. "Yuna...He's right. Let's just go back."

Yuna glowered. "Don't let them bend you, Mao, they're trying to rick us into leaving. We need to find her."

"Even so, we're not finding her now," Mao argued. "We can retreat and try something else another day. Preferably something that doesn't involve provoking dangerous betas, too."

"Or we can attack and force it out of them," Yuna responded. "Give up on peace, Mao, it won't work. They have a gun to our heads as we speak. I thought that should've been a clear enough hint for you."

"But-"

Before Mao could continue, Yuna turned back, grabbing her sword. As a response, the marksman placed the end of the gun's barrel on her forehead.

"Don't do anything else you'll regret," he warned. "A sore throat isn't the only damage we can do."

Yuna growled to herself, but sheathed her sword.

Mao stood, but then dipped her head. "I apologize, Zyreans. We didn't mean to impose; we just wanted the answer that not even our own kind will give us directly."

Timbur glared, but said nothing. It seemed his rage just hardly receded, enough for him to think somewhat rationally. Naturally, his own overdriven 'kill' instinct made that hard, but he tried to think of his training.

Finally, he sheathed his machete. His tone was still dark, though, as if he'd snap again.

"Get out. Go back now, and return to Sybilius. Names don't matter on a battlefield; if you ever come back, we won't be so merciful. You can trust me when I say that."

"We're not leaving without Kita," Yuna growled. "Just tell us where she is."

"She's not even here," the marksman insisted. "You're out of luck. We gave you your lives, so take them and go; is it really that hard?"

"Tell us where she went," Yuna pressed.

"For the last time," Timbur growled, "It's none of your business! Kita is one of us, and we will not share information on another's current whereabouts."

"That's not right!" Mao argued. "She's not one of you, she's an Aubade! Please, you have to understand how much she means to us." She furrowed her brows. "How would the rest of you feel if your own siblings were taken from you? How would you feel if one was missing, and the only clue was that they're with the most notorious enemy to your race?"

The marksman laughed at that. "You think we're stupid? It's a horrible feeling, I'll give you that, and we've had to feel it so many more times than you. Only sometimes, we didn't get to be assured that they were alright."

"That sympathy is the only reason you're alive," Timbur spoke. "Look, your so-called sister is happy with where she is, and you're probably happier in Sybilius. Both of you are where you should be, so don't go trying to change it. Unlike a lot of scenarios, you can both have what you want. Stop acting so spoiled and take it."

Mao looked speechless. "But Kita..."

"Trying patience isn't smart, you know," the marksman remarked. "Trust me when I say that Timbur's the last one to spare anyone, especially someone in a getup like yours."

Mao stayed silent for another extended period of time. Yuna looked like she was ready to attack or demand again, but she still held her tongue.

Eventually, Mao sighed. "Come, Yuna. Let's go-"

'SNAP!'

That sound, a gunshot, made Yuna fear the marksman shot her down. After recovering from a second of pure shock, she saw that neither of them was hurt. 

However, the marksman was forced to back away from the impact of a stray bullet to the right shoulder. His hand was clasped over a wound that was gushing black blood, and clung tighter to his weapon.

As sudden as the gunshot came, someone grabbed Mao by the wrist and started dragging her. She took one last glance behind her, but saw nothing but a blurred vision of gunfire and blood. 

Someone pulled her, nearly dragging her, all the way back through the woods and to the Blood Stream.

Mao gasped, "Yuna?!"

"I'm here!" Yuna cried.

"Come on, cross the stream!"

Still in a state of blinded panic, Yuna and Mao obeyed, quickly crossing the red-tinted stream. They continued to race back, retreating toward the safety they knew Sybilius had to offer.

They stopped in a small clearing, just short of ten feet from the broad hills.

Yuna was panting. "Wh-Wh-What-"

"What were you two thinking?!"

Yuna and Mao both cringed after recognizing the voice. 

It was Atara. The white-haired sylph crossed her arms and glared down at them, reflecting utter disappointment and irritation.

It didn't take long for another sylph lieutenant to join them, either. This sylph was Surei; a green-eyed sylph with wavy brown hair. He was a younger lieutenant, so he wasn't as powerful as Atara, but he was still very strong with his two revolvers.

Although now, he shared the same look of disappointment.

Mao tapped her fingers together. "S-Sorry, Atara, I know we weren't supposed to be here on our own, but-"

"Never do it again," Atara growled. "You had half your division worried sick, as well as her majesty!"

Surei crossed his arms. "So? Why did you do it?"

Mao sighed, "We were trying to find Kita, or at least learn about how she's been faring."

"This again..." Atara pinched the bridge of her nose. "Listen, you two, I know you care about Kita. The problem is that she's made her decision more than clear, and that decision involves high treason and conspiring with our worst enemy. That's normally punishable by execution, you know."

"But she's confused," Yuna argued. "She must be, with the nonsense these demons are cramming in her head. If we talked some sense into her, then she would come back. Her majesty agrees, as well, so we know there's still some hope for her."

Surei shook his head. "Kita has joined an evil clan, and it's clear that she wants to stay there."

"'Evil' is an understatement," Atara spoke. "As some kind of initiation, she killed my little sister..." She smiled upon remembrance. "Shira...She was trying to find Kita, not long after she escaped with the two hostages we had." Her smile faded. "Later on, we found her corpse in their side of the forest. There was a deep puncture in her neck, and it didn't fit any of the demons' weapons. Kita's dagger, however, looked shaped right."

Yuna gasped, her fist clenched. "Atara, that's insane! Kita wouldn't kill anyone! There has to be an explanation; that can't be right!"

Mao tilted her head. "And call me crazy, but those demons didn't seem too disturbed. If your sister was just looking for Kita, then I don't think they would've killed her."

"They kill everyone," Surei retorted. "We've all lost someone too them. Atara lost her sister, Queen Corelia lost her mother, even the princess lost her father." He glared down. "My own father and brother were killed by one-eye and his apprentice, not too long ago."

"Countless have fallen at their hand," Atara agreed. "And when I say countless, I mean hundreds. not even counting the ones from before the Extinction Battle. These demons are monsters. Kita has proved that she is one of them, and so we have no choice but to label her as that. She's lucky the queen wants her alive, otherwise she'd be dead already."

Yuna did not reply, feeling her own spark of hope wither and die when hearing those words.

Then she really is...

"Say what you like!"

After saying that, Mao began to storm off.

"I don't care what rumors say," she insisted. "Nor do I care about bounties or sentences. I just want my sister back, and nothing is going to stop me!"


© Copyright 2019 Raven Akuma. All rights reserved.

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