Fall of the Great General

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm
Two thousand years is a long time to never face defeat, something Kaede has achieved as Great General of the Kraeka Armies. It wasn't until that fated day in Commerce where she faced one simple human that she lost. Her objective impossible without the soldiers she brought with her she returns to her homeland empty handed and receives mixed reactions.

Submitted: November 14, 2018

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Submitted: November 14, 2018



My skin hisses as water falling from the sky make a stop upon it. The fires within me burn from both passion and embarrassment after having an official first loss in a battle marked on my record. My name is Kaede Hiolne, Great General of the Fire Kraeka. At a young age, I had proven that I was faster, stronger, smarter than the rest of my kind. I could have become the leader by ancient laws prevented that no matter how many times I beat him in a duel. Over two thousand years in service as the Great General where I have never lost any single battle until just a little over an hour ago. I underestimated the humans in that little base and laughed at the pathetic defense against me or my command. Rin Kazashi… I've heard her surname before but couldn't believe it at the time. She held the family name of Kraeka her kind derived from. The humans might have forgotten about them as they had been hunted down to extinction but I will never forget the Human Kraeka. Now as to how that surname exists on just a normal girl is beyond my knowledge. The storm above me grows louder as the wind gales around me. In the distance, the clouds spiral creating a mass of a collection of trees and clouds. Realizing that bolts of electrical energy were coming from thin air rather than the storm, I made a mental note that a skirmish was happening in the distance and carry onwards. My mind wanders back towards my past thoughts of how I had lost my small siege of a base. I should have acted sooner when I realized the technique that Rin used on my group. If the Kraeka side of her family had to not survive it certainly just has to be their bothersome technique. It was a powerful ability, being able to manipulate another person's aura at your own will. Even at her young age as a Human, she seemed to have mastered it all together. I was mostly shocked but I can't say I'm not impressed with her either. That style of fighting must have originated from the old Kraeka side of her family and successfully passed down through the generations which would make her the strongest human in her current state. I pause my walking when an electric bolt passes by to strike a nearby tree. I flare up my aura around me in anger, thankfully receiving a yelp of fear in the distance.

“Gods no that's a Fire Kraeka I'm not fighting that!” I hear the rustling of leaves and gusts of wind indicating the Air Kraeka had paid me a visit not realizing who I am.

I deeply sigh before continuing onwards. I hated this continent and everything it stood for. It was lawless and therefore created a social norm of being out for yourself. In this case, those Air Kraeka attacked me thinking I was an easy target simply because they just can. I luckily can handle myself but my kind usually avoids the area if we can afford to. The rain picks up to pelt my skin with more water, basically causing a fog around my position. The perpetual storm above Commerce is my highest annoyance with the place. Don't get me wrong I like peaceful rain like the next lady my age, it is just a headache when you're alone in the middle of the woods.

After traveling a few miles practically talking to myself out of annoyance or boredom I finally reach a clearing in the woods. I stood a fairly large stone arch that scaled about five stories up. It had a nice light, sandy color to it and was rough over the course of erosion. Running up its sides and across its top were ancient runic Kraeka writing. Not a soul I know that can read it as its meaning has been long lost to us, but I do understand what it does in this case. They were part of an old magick system that involved pushing your aura into one particle rune to activate a complex spell. Parts of this process is known to the Earth Kraeka, the masons of the Kraetians, but it doesn't use any of the old languages. This particular structure happens to be a gate of transport. Briskly walking up to the structure I place my hand onto a curvy rune to the right. One by one the runes glow softly and the center has energy slowly fill in the empty space. Once it connected all of its edges it became a sort of window into another place in the world. I had to make a few adjustments to where it was supposed to take me as what I currently saw through it was an ocean view. I hesitate before putting my hand on the rune again to look around the view of the ocean. The beaches shone with the sunlight beaming down upon them and the waves crashed peacefully onto the shore. I recognized the landscape as a place called Meteorite Bay, an area a battle had taken place that decided the fate of the second great war. The destruction from it caused no survivors and the reformation of the landscape of the area, creating the bay and floating islands spanning for miles. I wanted to be there but I was back home defending it from a siege. I gather my thoughts back, remembering I needed to report in my loss, and recalibrate the location for the gate. Some fine tuning of my auras flow brings about a change in the image. Behind the aura made image was a chamber I had first entered the portal from. It resides within my capital and is connected to the main barracks. I take a meditative breath to prepare myself for what was to come and pass through.

Going through these gates is usually an unpleasant feeling. The aura that powers it feels invasive in your body unless you had activated it. Most people tend to get headaches or stomach problems from sudden climate changes. I've been through these thousands of times and I still bend over gagging.

“Great General? You're back!” One of the guards watching the gate gleefully exclaims towards the others. “If you're back so soon then was the siege a success?” Her eyes sparkled in anticipation.

“I'm… afraid the squad was wiped out. We ran into an unexpected…” I narrow my eyes as I think back to the battle. “Annoyance. Taking the base alone wouldn't mean anything so I retreated.” I point out to several wounds Rin had given me. “Even I wasn't safe.”

This causes the girls to mutter and stir. It's to be expected of them, the news of me accepting a loss hasn't been heard of since I took up the title of Great General.

“Oi get back to your post! Send the message to the lord that I have returned with grave news. If they need me they know where to find me.” I walk briskly past them out of the room and into the open air of the Capitol city. It had been named Pyrhh, sharing a name with the nearby mountain range. The air shares a hint of sulfur and the surrounding earth has some volcanic sand mixed in. It gives the area a darker tint but to me nowhere else I would call home. I walk down a dirt path within the barracks with the purpose of getting to the sparring grounds. We take pride in our ability to spar one on one with anyone and usually dedicate our time to it. I enter the doors to an open spaced training ground. It was eerily quiet except for a single female of my kind doing her daily training.

“Ah, Xerena! Just the lady I was hoping to meet. Quick hand me a polearm.” I casually walk and take off the heavier pieces of my armor. She turns to me in surprise while messing up some of her footwork. Xerena is, what I'm proud to say, my apprentice. Through training under me, she has proven herself to become a First Star General and I can say she has far more growth left in her. “

Lady Kaede! You're back so soon!” She scrambles around to grab a polearm and toss at me. I put down my halberd as I catch the staff, the weight much lighter than my real weapon. I twirl it briefly and put myself into a stance.

“I'm only back so soon because everything went disastrously wrong. I need to vent a little, so come at me!” I charge at her swinging with purpose and catching her slightly off guard, her reflexes were good enough though to at least deflect my blow. She hopped back to regain her foothold while putting herself into a similar stance that I did.

“Alright, granny don't be mad when I finally beat you!” This time she charges forward at me swinging from above. I put a lot of force behind a parry, the sound resonating within the room and causing her staff to pop out of her hands.

“Just cause you became a star under my tutelage doesn't mean you have the strength or wits. Practice the wits and we’ll work on the strength.” I pick her staff up, tossing it over to her. “Keep fighting like that and I'm afraid a skilled human could easily best you.”

“Ha! I'd like to see a human try!” Through chuckles, she re-stances.

“Xerena.” I rest the pole on its end while placing the palm of my hand on top of the other end. “A human beat me today in a duel.” I felt embarrassed as soon as the worst left my mouth. Xerena falls over a brief moment.

“What?” She rubs her eyes and stares intently at me. “I must be tired because there's no way you're telling me that a human-” I nod as I clash with Xerena’s staff.

“Forty-five of my squad were gone before I had a chance to rethink the strategy. One human.” We slide away from each other to disengage. My knuckles go white as I clench my fist around the training weapon. “Just... Just one human…” I let out my frustration in a yell swinging towards Xerena in front of me. I hear her yell out as she tried to block it, only to be sent across the room. I drop the staff out of guilt and rush over to her while calling out her name. My annoyance and anger didn't deserve to be sent her way. “I'm sorry Xerena, that was uncalled for-” I was reaching down to pick her up until she yanked her staff to sweep my feet. Catching me off guard I of course fall to the ground also.

“Don't underestimate me Kaede" She smirks as she picks herself off the ground. I simply laid there in fake awe.

“Wow, even my pupil is outwitting me today. What has the world come to.” I clamber to my feet like I had been hurt for eternity only to receive a grim look from Xerena.

“One human really bested you Kaede?” I heard the concern in her voice override the disbelief her expression was showing. With a sigh, I get up to put my polearm back where it was and pick up my own halberd.

“She was… a skilled fighter for a human. Complete with a technique I haven’t seen since the second war. She cut them down only hesitating at first and gained confidence as she fell more. When I finally clashed with her…” I was resting the halberd in both hands, clenching down on its shaft. “She was able to match my blow and hold her own. I made the realization a fight on my scale would have cost more than gained and so as others joined her I announced her win.” Deep in my thoughts, I was running my fingers along the flat side of the Halberd to trace its intricate design.

“Wait.” Xerena at this point was sitting cross-legged on the floor with the training staff resting on her legs. Her curious tone brought me out of my thoughts and stop tracing with my fingers. “There exists a person in this world that can be equal in your power?”

“Yes… and well no.” I join her on the floor and set my Halberd to the side. “No as in her technique allowed her to gain the power exponentially to fight back. Without that, she could have held herself off still from her skill alone, but eventually, succumb to the greater strength difference.” Xerena’s eyes get darker in contemplation.

“That sounds a bit scary, even if it’s just one human.” A spark of curiosity brings back some color to her as she perks up. “So what exactly was she doing?”

“Aura Manipulation.” I make a motion with my fingers dancing through the air. “Long lost secret of the now deceased Oraeka. I have a feeling she doesn’t know of its origin either, nor her family names secret.” As Xerena tilts her head in confusion I continue forward. “Yes. Her surname is Kazashi. Rin Kazashi. Old powerful Family they were, the Kazashi’s. Rivaled only by the Yuutsu family back in the second war.” My apprentice's eyes were bulging from this knowledge.

“So if that’s the no side of the answer… then who equals your strength?” Xerena didn’t mean for it but her question brought back old sharp memories of someone I knew very well before the second war. Realizing I hadn’t answered I clear my throat.

“That… would be Kutaru Yuutsu. My uh… deceased ex.” Xerena looked stricken before me, raising her hands and waving them wildly.

“SORRY! That was an inappropriate question ma'am-”

“It’s fine Xerena.” I try to wave her concern away just to hide my embarrassment for even a small moment. “We ended up on the wrong sides of a war. He himself ended it. I find myself… envious of that moment of time.” I bring myself to stand up while scrubbing dust off the simple clothing I had underneath my armor from earlier. Picking up the armor I shredded earlier to put back on brought its cold feel back onto my skin. If only the heat from the memories the battles I’ve partaken in would wear out.

“That is until you came along. If I had any other purpose in this world, then training you have been worth it Xerena.” I smile towards her while strapping the metal to myself. “Just keep practicing. Before long I could see you as a second star soon enough which would put you immediately under me in battle. Of course, you’re still under me but I’d like to keep my eye on your commanding style.”

“Aye, sir Kaede.” Slowly spoken in sarcasm, Xerena goes to pick up another training dummy to put into the center of the room. This time instead of a polearm she was practicing her use of fire and aura flow. I open the door to leave while chuckling. Seeing Xerena was helpful on keeping me relaxed after today's events, however, it still weighed me down. Heightening my stress, unfortunately, a messenger rushes up to me. Her face is gleaming despite how exhausted it looked added on to the fact she was completely out of breath.

“General… Kaede” She bends over coughing and I wait patiently for her to continue. “It’s nice to see you back Ma’am! Ah!” Slinging over her bag to the front she quickly checks through it. “Almost forgot! Let’s see… Here we go. From the Lord, Ma’am!”

The news of my return seems to have spread fast through the wrong people, though then again I am at fault for walking around in the open too. I accept the summons from the girl, tipping her some coin for her troubles. All around me I could feel that stares were collecting onto my person so I made my way out of the Barracks portion of the capitol. The regular streets of our Capitol were a vast difference compared to where the army is trained and stationed. As the Barracks were architecturally bleak and intimidating, the rest of Pyrhh comprised of bustling marketplaces and rising towers. Gardens sprout plenty where you walk with people caring for them carefully and occasionally you cross over the canal through the city for trade. Past this, slightly raised on a hill, is an excessively large palace rising higher than some of the central town towers. I begin a fairly long walk towards the palace, eager for a peaceful walk through town as I haven’t been in Pyrhh a while. Over the course of an hour while walking I mostly had to remember what my nation felt like to walk through. For the most part, the gender ratio between female and male is vastly in the females numbers. Males are an exceptionally rare thing to happen, and when it does happen their birth usually starts political infighting and attempted assassinations. Such is the way of our ancient laws where the Males tend to be leaders of power. The only stipulation to that law, however, is that they must fight for their power in the politics. I mean that in a literal sense, they physically fight in a duel. This is how our kind settles most of our problems, the stronger side wins the argument in what we call Honor Duels.

Occasionally as I’m going down the streets I would run into those willing to try their test against me. I usually don’t humor them as it’s publicly known that I was the strongest Fire Kraeka alive and none, not even our Lord, has ever bested me in a fight. Today though I felt a need to vent a little so I accepted a few along the way, just to humor everyone happy I was back. I tipped food vendors as I walked by, showed off my prowess with aura at least once, and even gave blessings for matrimony. All in all my overall mood had vastly improved before I finally arrived at the gates to the palace three hours later. Just the sight of me causes the nearby guards to hurriedly open the gates with loud yelling into the palace interior at my arrival. They swing open with a booming croak given the sheer size of them. Behind the doors were lines of Fire Kraeka facing towards each other with room for a pathway between them leading up to the main Palace building. Standing in front of them merely inches of the large wooden doors hitting him, was a sleekly built Male adorned in many colors. His composure is fair though threatening enough as if to dare someone to make him angry.

“Great General.” The man before me bows in a swift motion of surprise to most around.

“My lord…?” I bow back in confusion. I rise up after he does and follow beside him to walk towards the palace. “Out of all the people to greet me on my arrival… I was expecting a more angry reception.” He straightens himself while grinning.

“I was more concerned on the fool's errand that you had been sent on. We did nothing but anger people while also lose fine soldiers. Your surviving the ordeal is not surprising to me, however, those in the political circle expected other results it seems.” His grin fades, a wave of dark anger replacing it. “Whatever scheme they are trying is the worst decision they could have made. I sadly have no proof of their intention, only apologies to learning about your dispatch too late.” We stopped at the front entrance to the palace as he grabbed my hand and lightly pressed his lips to my knuckle. “I humbly ask for forgiveness Lady Kaede.” My kind blushes in a more visual way than the humans do with their face. My eyes flare up and the armor I was wearing glows a light red as a thin layer of flames surround my body.

“Your Lordship that’s- don’t degrade yourself in public like that!” I accept the gesture nonetheless as he stands back up, eyes twinkling in contrast to his appearance.

“Come.” He gestures with his hands while laughing. “Let the rumors spread while they can for it’s not the rumors I fear today.” He waits patiently for the Palace doors to slam behind us before he shoos away the guards escorting him. He leads me to a side room off the main way and shuts the door behind us. “There’s…” His tone grows dark which brings the mood I was in down a tiny notch. “There’s a lot of commotion among the other political heads,” He continued as he turns his back to the door while facing me. “A lot of behind the back speakers. They’re being secretive about something and I don’t like it.” His brow furrows while he continues to look in my direction. “You know I didn’t even know you were sent to Commerce.”

“What? I thought it was on your order though!” I was caught completely off guard by this. I had been sent to Commerce with orders to take over a critical base with a selection of troops so that our influence could spread in the area. I thought comes to my mind. “My Lord… Did you summon for me?”

“Yes. Only because I wanted to speak with you before they found out. By now I’m sure the word has gotten to them, as the inner guards were gossiping when I stood at the gate.” His stern look gave me concern now that I had arrived from a failed mission. They hold power over me whether I was stronger or not. Laws created since our ancient times as beings that rose this World where the rare children of men in Fire Kraeka Society were destined to be our leaders. It was how it was whether either side in politics liked it or not. “Now dearest Kaede. I have trusted you as my Great General for a long time, back when we had dueled and I learned that we are not preordained to just be stronger or to be natural born leaders. I entrusted you with power second to my own.”

“This much I know My Lord” I look around the room to notice a few chairs littering the floor here and there.

“Kaede you don’t have to call me by my title.” He sits down in one of the chairs. “Same reason I don’t call you by yours.”

“Fine Loate.” My breath escapes before I could stop it. Following his lead, I sit down into a chair across the way. “Your point still awaits to be said Lo-a-te.” I slow on the pronunciation, leaning forward on each syllable.

“My point is, Kaede, that the younger generation feels my trust in you is wrong. I have no proof against them, to prove they have been trying to make dealings behind my back to tear the political field apart.” Loate looks glumly down in thought.

“Plot or no plot my loss out there was unacceptable.” When I say this he looks back up to me in confusion.

“You… I don’t think I heard that right.” He stutters slightly, his hand outstretched. “Cause it sounded to me like you just said-”

“Yes. I lost a battle. A skirmish. A failed siege. An embarrassment to my honor to a simple Human girl.” Shaky waves of air reach my lungs from my obvious discomfort over talking about this to him. “I could have still captured the area, however, the girl was a descendant of the Kazashi. Fighting more was beyond pointless and I would have fallen too.”

“This is really important news. Gods curse the dirt I didn’t want to have to tell them anything about your return other than you succeeded. They have to know a Kazashi has survived.” Loate Clambers out of his chair to dash across the room towards the door he had shut earlier. I try to get up to stop him just to falter as the door opens to another Fire Kraeka behind it. This one is also male, though shorter than Loate and not as well built. It was a Political Head, or I would see the Head of all of our national interests that don’t befall the Lord. The man looks between the two of us for only a moment.

“Sister. Lord Loate.” He briskly walks into the room and shuts the door behind him once more. “If I was able to find you both here I’m sure the whole Palace realizes Kaede is back. I’ve already passed several messengers dashing here and there and even received several myself.” He sits down and begins to bring out several rolled up papers. “They all say the same thing, of course, The Great General is back. Only a few have rumors of bad news and I’m the first that isn’t our lord to have heard about it.” I relax a little when a smile spreads over his face.

“Brother I almost had a panic attack, you do realize that?”

“Yes… House Head Tola..” Loate slowly paced himself back into a chair. “They must be scrambling for a meeting then, yes?” My brother’s smile freezes.

“Y-yes your lordship. I’m afraid they seem to be... flustered.” Loate continues glaring at Tola before my brother turned to me. “If you’re concerned the only thing I really heard in the conversation was the part about a Kazashi?”

Loate sighs. “That’s what Kaede here said, though even I have a hard time believing it. It is an issue that must be brought up in whatever meeting they present. What date had they set for it?”

“With luck tomorrow at the earliest, if it helps that I have that final say.” Joyfulness had returned on his face as he claps his hands to his knee. “She shouldn’t have to be part of this nonsense on the day of her return! No heavens not! Why she should be… I don’t know… partying! Enjoying a good brew!”

I laugh at the thought. “Yes, brother I feel that at this point I could contest with an Earthen one.”

“Tomorrow works for me as well.” Lord Loate tries to be serious but the corners of his mouth tell otherwise. “Gods know what the other heads wanted out of this excursion anyway. Alright!” He stands swiftly and with an unnecessary flourish. “Then I should get back to my study and prepare for the day tomorrow. If the two of you would understand. House Head. Great General.” Loate bowed to the two of us before walking out of the room. Before the doors shut I could hear the voices of many messengers greet him with letters in waves. Once the door clicked my brother turned to face me and whisper.

“You’re telling me you LOST?!” The decibel of his whisper almost sounded like he could shout. “Are you sure it was wise to tell the Lord that? That mission was critical! You didn’t bring up the long-dead Kazashi’s as a scapegoat did you?”

“Now why, dearest brother, would I lie to our Lord?” I felt the anger rise up inside me. “Yes. I lost. Gods it was bound to happen eventually after two thousand years of not fighting. Look the girl took the aura out of their bodies and used it against them. The fight didn’t even last that long before all fifty soldiers I had with me. Were. Dead.” I realized I was standing. I straighten my armor up before sitting back down with a huff.

“Alright alright, sister. You’re passionate enough about it then obviously I will believe you.” He sighs uncomfortably. “Convincing everyone else that was reason enough for the failure will be rough. For your sake, I will try what I can just know I’m no miracle worker.”

I glare at him. “Pity is nothing I expect. Never have nor I never will.” I spit to my side. “Curse fools who never knew battle outside an Honor Duel.” The memory of allies falling around me lingers as if it was still the second war. During that time of about two thousand years ago, I had helped defend our city while it was being besieged. The Humans had gained allies in their Oraeka brethren that they descended from, and their combined wits and monstrous strength proved incredibly hard to deal with. I barely survived that battle, meaning this city barely survived that battle. The scars may visibly be gone but the memories remain.

“Kaede… Hello Kaede? You worry me when you stare off like that are you alright?”

I snap back into reality. “Gods know I’m not, do you know what I’ve dealt with in my lifetime? I’m tired of the senseless fighting.” This time I get up to pace around. “Just let the Humans be. Is it that hard? Have we learned nothing from our previous wars?”

“They hate us more with every small generation they have and you know that!” My brother had stood up, not whispering anymore. “Yeah and what of the Oraeka counterpart? You think they have a say in it anymore?! You think Kutaru would have wanted us to be at each other's throats like this?!” I gasp and cover my mouth as I said this. Kutaru’s name was not one I wanted to throw around so easily. This causes our argument to cease abruptly in awkward silence. “Brother I’m so-”

“No, you meant what you said Kaede.” He cuts me off sharply. “You would never use his name otherwise. We just simply disagree with that idea is all and we can leave it at that. As for other attacks, they’ll probably keep happening. We must win back whatever positives we can recover from our old nations.” Having his official robes flow behind him he briskly walks over to the door. Opening he turns back towards me. “Get some rest. Tomorrow is stress-filled for everyone.” I watch him walk out before storming out myself.

Some messengers try to approach me, as do guards, but they stop realizing I’m covered in flames. Once out of the Palace gates I head into the crowded area of the markets in town. The sun was setting the sky to an orange glow, bringing the nearby Mt. Pyrhh to match its name. Even at this time of the day, the area is bustling in business. Bars are opening at this time, restaurants flourishing after spending the entire day preparing food. It’s a lively place full of lively people. The bustle in the air calms me down and I duck into a nearby bar called ‘Uhthea’. It had apparently been given a literal meaning of the sound one makes when they pass out drunk and I took a liking to it.

“Ah! Lady Kaede! You grace us today with your presence the first day back?” A lady greets me from behind the bar. The owner of this bar has been working this shop since before I became a Great General.

“Aye, ma’am. I need something stronger than myself and nothing beats the punch you pack when you brew!” The surrounding patrons yell a collaborative ‘Ayyyy’ before going back to their drinking. “In fact, my mood may be mixed but throw everyone a round of drinks on me!” The cheering gets louder only increasing my mood slightly. I pull myself up onto a stool at the bar. I stretch my arms out towards the bartender before me. “As for myself Tia. I need me a bottle of the famous Uhthea.”

“Long day eh? Coming right up Kaede just hold on a moment.” Tia moves gracefully to the back for a moment and returns with a bottle the size of my face. With a loud thunk, it lands in front of me, causing the bar to go silent.

“You know rumors mention how even an Earthen one can’t finish a single bottle of that.” A voice to my side speaks out that I recognize as my apprentice. I turn over to face her while uncorking the bottle.

“Xerena. How long have you known me? I can take a bottle of these any day I felt like it.” With a maneuver to show off, I begin to chug the potent drink. Other patrons around us who weren’t used to the spectacle were cheering on in chants as the bottle drained into me. My insides felt like fire with tears rolling down my cheeks but I press on. I make a satisfied noise as the last drop rolls down my throat and crash the bottle down onto the counter. I breathe outwards, smoke billowing from my insides. “Tia.” I pause to cough uncontrollably. “May none ever learn your secrets.”

“As long as you agree to meet whoever else can finish one of these bottles in a sitting Kaede.” We both laugh while she covers the orders from other patrons.

“I may have known you a long time, Kaede,” Xerena speaks up to me after ordering a drink herself. “But it’s not often you order that drink unless you’re upset.”

“I… I regret my actions in the battle I just left.” My head hung downward, hair covering my face from Xerena. “I really could have just… taken the area. It would have been easy for me. Even if I had left the base empty and come back only for the humans to recapture it.”

“Kaede that’s not fair to your-”

“But I didn’t, now did I?” I cut off her concerned voice. “There was something I saw in that one Human Girl that I admired as she stood alone before fifty of us. How easily she bested my soldiers with apparent skill.” I motion Tia for a shot that she pours with a warm smile. “By tomorrow the whole world will know the name of the girl who bested the Great General. I have no shame of it other than I could have kept fighting. I just… I saw myself in her. So, of course, I tested her will. We crossed blades and I recognized her potential.” I gulp the drink that was freshly poured. “So of course I did the sensible decision. I stopped our fight forcibly as I caught her sword and told her there was no point in fighting more.”

This time Xerena takes a swig from her glass. “She just accepted that? So easily?”

“Yeah. Now she was surprised mind you. Even asked why she was alive if I could stop her so easily.” A short laugh escapes my lips. “Her eyes told me this was something she wasn't used to and yet she rolled on ahead with no worry or fear of the repercussions. Like me when I first joined. Like you, Xerena, when I first met you brawling on the streets.”

“I'm horrified you remember that. Even still though compared to you I've never fought an actual battle.” I laugh a little and pat my hand in her shoulder. “The experience would do a young one like you some good when it comes to combat.” My voice lingers briefly and I slide my hand off her shoulder. “Everything else it brings, however… I would never wish that one someone I held dear to me.” At this time Tia had pulled up a stool of her own on the other side of the bar’s counter. She pours herself a drink, as we were the last patrons in for the night, and sets the bottle she used in between us.

“Already closed up shop. Several others were getting too curious about what you were saying.” I flush in embarrassment after I realize where I was throwing my mind out like that. She pours the two of us another shot which we down immediately. I sit up a little into my stool to lean my elbow onto the counter before I continue speaking.

“I also… got into an argument with the Lord and my Brother if all people.”

“You didn't!” They both gasped immediately. I only nod my head.

“Hopefully it's enough to let me retire.” I slide my glass over to Tia and flip it over. I rise slowly and stretch my limbs out.

“Kaede,” Xerena speaks up to me as she also stands. “You know they'll try everything to keep you. I mean without you we don't even sound threatening anymore.”

“Well, I'll see during the called meeting tomorrow.” I give Xerena a hug and wave at Tia. “I'm going to call it a night and get that rest I deserve. You guys have helped me vent at least a little.”

“Its the least my brew can do for you Kaede.” Tia has a sly smile across her face before she walks into the back and shut the door. I try my best to also smile, but it feels broken. Xerenas eyes felt like they were trying to tell me it was a bad idea to go now, however, I just raise my hand to stop her before she speaks. “Your concern means everything to me before you speak, but I must go. If I was to arrive with the headache of an erupting volcano I feel like the wrong word to me would end up in a red council room.” I laugh alone to a nonexistent joke and continue out of the bar. I don't even hear Xerena whisper behind me. “You fool…”

I don't remember the walk home during that full mooned night. In fact, I'm puzzled as I wake up in an unfamiliar area. After a few glances, I shake the sleepiness out of me and realize I hear shouting. The voices are familiar, but I have a hard time understanding the words they say. Slowly my vision doesn't feel clouded as the room comes into focus.

“We can't be going around with the knowledge that our strongest soldier lost to some Human!” A voice echoes throughout the room. “And you mean to tell me that by some miracle she just happens to be from the Kazashi family? Ha! You can pull the cloth over any old fools eyes Loate but the Lord's words mean nothing when it comes to our laws.” I realize where I am very rapidly. When did I arrive at the meeting?! I bolt upright causing the current conversation to halt.

“Sister, are you alright? You seem to be a bit hazy today.” My eyes frantically scan the room before landing on my brother in his seat.

“My memory feels… muddled. I'm sorry to interrupt, I take it the topic was my mission?” I slowly sit back down in more confusion. No one realized I was asleep?

“Ah yes.” A sneering voice speaks up before my brother could. “We are talking about your failure to do what you were asked. Capture that base. It was a simple task and here we are with fifty less good soldiers and a great general who came back with no base. Its impossible to think a single Human stopped the Great Kaede, so there must be more to the story.” Some bickering arises amongst them. I rise slowly, angry that they are trying to decide something they weren't there for.

“Who are you to say what is and is not impossible when it comes to combat?” The temperature of the room was rising along with my anger. “You were not there to watch good people die. That one human girl had more skill than most of you could amount into a pinkie.” I could see other tempers flare. “You think I'm wrong? I could beat all of you blind and with no weapon. If I could so could she.” I collapse back down in a dramatic fashion. “Political heads shouldn't try to understand the feelings of someone who was on the battlefield.”

“Great General please refrain from lashing out.” Lord Loate decided to speak out before actual fighting broke out. Something seemed different about him from yesterday though. “For they have plenty of reason for concern here. Now before these fine men can you please explain why you let her live?” I froze in place as eyes shifted from me to him.

“My lord, is it really something to fret about?” My brother Tola shows concern in his voice.

“Of course we should Head Chair!” Another one of the other council members snarls out. “This is exactly what we were fearing in the first place! We didn't want the Humans to start thinking we were just simply able to be walked all over!”

“There had already been death aplenty as she had won the day, why kill her senselessly when her victory was honorable?” Their eyes fixated back onto me. Lord Loate had risen up, his eyes wild.

“You seem really fixated on this fact Kaede and I simply don't agree with your actions over there in Commerce.”

“My Lord I stand by my actions on my course of Honor. Something I had been raised on and will fight for till I die.”

“If you're so willing to fight and die over it we can fight right now!”

My emotions were getting the better of my judgment as I raise in anger. “If that's what I have to do to get my point across, Loate, then have at me!” The room goes silent with only nervous eyes bouncing between me and Loate. None of them were wanting to speak up knowing the challenge has been thrown on both sides. I had a momentary relapse of my judgment where I realize what I just did. My brother goes to stand up but is shooed by the Lord.

“Tola dissolving this isn't going to happen.”

“But we could solve this issue with our heads there's no need for that level of a duel right no-" He cuts his words when a pillar of flame soars out of Loate. “Fine have it both of your ways. I'll be the judge then just get into positions already.”

I look around me noticing my weapon wasn't nearby. I sigh and walk to the center of the room anyway to see that Loate has my Halberd. We both stand in front of the other in a ready position.

“What are the conditions of battle then Lord Loate?” My brother hesitates to ask this.

“Till death or surrender. Neither of us would budge on our opinions or at least I won't.”

I shake my head towards him. “That's a bit much Loate-"

“Then surrender now. Or are you just scared of the potential bloodshed.” He jabs the tip of my Halberd at my face, angering me. I shoved it out of my vision.

“Fine have it your way then. I accept these conditions.” I was glaring at my brother to dare him to speak the words his face blatantly shared. He only sighs.

“Then on my signal, you shall begin.”

Once the signal goes off we become blurry. I am faster than Loate, stronger and I have far more experience fighting. It isn't long before my strength is apparent and I expect him to surrender… but he doesn't. This isn't like him at all. I land several blows over his body, grab him and throw him onto the ground. His breath escapes him and he struggles to get back up.

“Loate.” I snarled down at him, still not out of breath. “You and I both know I'm stronger than you. Why fight with no merit?”

He barely speaks between coughs. “You make us look weak. Why walk away from an easy victory?”

I begin to turn my attention away from him. “Killing for no reason is weaker.”

I hear him jump up and shuffle his feet. I turn to see him charge towards me, halberd at the point. I swiftly move to the side only to feel a small gust of wind. A quick flick of his hand and the halberd pops into the air where it becomes easy for me to grab. I swing down knowing even he is good enough to dodge a simple strike. I see him smirk as I cut him down. I cut him down? No even he could have dodged that.


I call his name out in confusion. His body slumps into a puddle on the ground as I realize what I've done.


“Sister what have you done?!” His surprised expression cements my actions to my mind.

“It was a simple swing. H-he came at me with killing intent what was I supposed to do?”

“Intent or not you killed the Lord in cold blood over keeping a Human alive! Heresy! You're working with the Humans aren't you!” One of the other council members had raised out of their seat while pointing at me wildly.

“Banishment!” Another calls out. Others around him cheer in agreement.

“Banishment on the dishonor of not killing one Human and killing your own Lord in their name!”

“What are you fools considering?!” My brother was standing between me and them. “If we lose her we lose our nation's pride!”

“Brother…” I call out to him causing him to spin around. “Brother, what have I done? I just killed the man who gave me this position!”

“See she even gets it! Strip her position and rank off the records!”

“Where are the Guards!? Get rid of her weapon before she kills more!”

My brother's eyes searched my face wildly for answers. Tears welled up in me as I had no answers for him, only questions for his. He nods and places a hand on my shoulder.

“Run Kaede. If they want to banish you then don't let them catch you.”

The whispers from my brother barely reach my ear over the roaring council. Even he can’t defend me from the horror I’ve done and witnessed. I turn tail while cursing Loate’s name. I curse the name of the Human I had spared for without my actions towards her I never would have had this argument. Rin Kazashi. Her name burns itself into my memory as I crash through the Palace gate at an incredible pace. Soldiers around me hesitate on trying to stop me as I bulldoze through those who do attempt. For hours I keep running, evading my pursuers either by force or by better knowledge of the city. By the time I make it to the barracks the word of my deeds had already reached there ahead of me. I slow my approach expecting the whole base to try to fight me at once or try to detain me. Instead, the barrack gates slide open with the soldiers behind it standing in salute. I keep walking down their line towards the building with the Gate at the far end.

“Live long, Great General Kaede!”

I hear these words repeatedly from those in my command. My eyes blurry as I walk onwards, now with pride. I will return to you, my people. First I’ll have the head of the one I shouldn’t have let live. I reach the Gate after they escort me through its building. I turn to the same guards who had greeted me upon my return.

“I will meet you all again one day. May my vengeance show mercy for when I do our society will be reformed.” We salute each other and I pass through the gate. Dry heat welcomes my face making it suddenly difficult to breathe. Sunlight beams down from above with an extreme intensity and I notice I’m in the Kisuragi Desert on the Erocia continent. This was the location for the banishment point after all. I turn to look back at the gate and see a group of people on the other side crying and waving. To my surprise I watch as they destroy the Gate on their side, meaning an immediate return to the Capitol is now unlikely. Sand combs my hair from the wind howling around while I look around the immediate area. I fall to my knees weakly as the only thing on the horizon is dunes aplenty. The only landmark of the area is the Gate nearby and a large rock formation far in the distance. I decide that's the best bet I have on figuring out a course of action and prepare myself for a long walk. While I could propel myself using blasts from my Aura I felt wasting my energy out here would be pointless. It took me about three days to get to the spire, and it wasn't until I got there that I realized it was in the process of being built as a man-made structure. I met a young teen there who was directing some shady looking people as to how she wanted it exactly. As I walked closer, and when she first noticed me, I saw her face whiten and tense up. I throw my hands up to try to talk her out of whatever ramblings she was going on about and it calmed her down. Several people that were there helping build had tried to surround me in caution while armed. I stated who I was to them, scaring them more than relaxing them, and said I just needed a few supplies to get out if the desert as I had been banished. I get some information on the area and safe places to be away from humans and thank them while I head on out. I go over a sand dune a distance away from them and head the opposite direction they had said. I wasn't trying to stay away from humans. No, after all, there's one I need to regain my honor from.

Rin Kazashi.

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