Chapter 17 - The Knights' Oath

Colonel Farah ad-Durr Ismat ad-Din coughed in the burning haze that seemed to engulf the whole battlefield.

Her lungs felt like they had caught fire with every inhale, as embers and ashes drifted across the air like black snow. The dawn mist that once covered the land had vanished without a trace, leaving only gloom and shadows beneath a sky filled with smoke.

All around her the assembled troops coughed and gagged in the choking fumes. Farah made her way through ranks of her Mubarizun champions, before pulling aside her signal officer:

"What happened!?"

"I don't know... Sir!" The Lieutenant shouted back between coughs. "My link with command suddenly broke!"

Farah felt her stomach lurch. General Salim had established his headquarters nearly two kilopaces east of the battle line. Surely the explosion that tore the north asunder couldn't have reached him!

"Well keep trying!" She insisted. "Inform me as soon as you regain contact!"

"Yes Sir!"

Leaving the officer behind, Farah made her way through the smoke. Her Crimson Dervish squadron was attached to Hamid's brigade in the center. She had seen the brigadier's staff just north of her formation, before the unknown blast transformed her world.

"Brig--" She had to cough to clear her lungs. "Brigadier Hamid!"

The dismounted lancer company Farah stumbled across first were of no help. She had to echo her cry a dozen more times before a reply came:

"O-over here!"

The smoke seemed to grow denser as Farah moved in their direction. Soon, she came across a dozen black-sooted faces from the Brigade HQ.

"Colonel."

"Sir," Farah saluted as she addressed the ashen-faced commander that she could only recognize by his stocky build. "I've lost my connection with the general. What are our orders?"

"You're not the only one," he growled back. "We've lost our communications as well, along with two of my companies to the extreme right."

Hamid swallowed, his eyes filled by not only anxiety and pain but even the shadow of fear itself.

"My men tell me that the entire area north has been reduced to a wasteland. We can't even find anyone still alive in Ardashir's brigade right now."

Farah's jaw dropped. That can't be possible.

She had never heard of a spell so powerful that it could annihilate an entire wing of an army at once; not since the fabled tales of the Dragon-Demon Wars, anyhow.

Yet, the results were undeniable -- from the blinding flash in the northwest, to the titanic explosion that shook the ground, to the curtain of smoke that swept across the land...

Farah had no choice but to face the likelihood that Ardashir's brigade of thousands had vanished in an instant.

"Sir, we have to withdraw!" One of the battalion commanders cried. "Our communications lie in shambles, and our forces cannot withstand spellpower of such magnitude!"

"No!" Farah glared back, her blood pounding as she breathed in the heated fumes.

The Mubarizun Colonel wasn't even sure why she felt anger. The Major who spoke had every right to be afraid, just as she ought to feel now...

"Sir! We cannot simply retreat!" she stressed beneath the veil that covered her lower face. "We must not retreat now!"

"And why is that?" the Brigadier demanded, his demoralized gaze seeing no alternative.

With a deep breath, Farah thought back to the legends of old -- heroines and tales of the greatest war which had inspired her to enter the ascetic Dervish Order at first. Her ancestors had rode into battle facing an endless tide of demons that poured from the Infinite Abyss. Blessed by the dragonlords as the first mages of mankind, their combined sorcery left such devastation that even now, the interior of the southern continent remained a wasteland.

"Because that is the spellpower made only possible by an archmage at full capacity!" Her fingers pointed towards the northwest, where the flash originated from. "Not even the mighty dragonlords could unleash such destruction without draining their ether. If we retreat now, we'd only invite them to recuperate and repeat the process!"

Despite being shorter than the other commanders present, Farah glared at each and every one of them in return. She challenged their honor, their courage, their piety to uphold the very teachings of God:

"Surely this smoke that now covers the battlefield is more detrimental to their massed archery! God has given us this opportunity as a test of our resolve! Our ancestors who drove back the demonspawn would never retreat now!"

One moment after another passed, before Hamid pursed his lips and gave a reluctant nod.

"Very well, Colonel," the Brigadier agreed. "I will try to coordinate with our left wing. In the meantime, distribute your champions among my lancers as you see fit. You will lead the first wave in before the smoke clears."

 

----- * * * -----

 

On the other side of the battlefront, the Princess of the Lotharins strode through the streets of Glywysing in just as much turmoil.

They had been in the process of evacuating the town's residents to the rear when an earth-shattering explosion rocked the ground. A fireball of immense size bloomed across the northern skies, which was immediately obscured by a tidal wave of smoke, dust, and flaming debris that poured into town. The malevolent veil incited panic among the civilians, leading to a stampede that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Now, groaning victims and abandoned belongings littered the streets, adding to the hellish scene of a disaster zone.

Visibility was still limited to just twenty or so paces. Amidst this smoky haze her soldiers coughed and wheezed, with all but the most disciplined units breaking ranks and leaving their spots. Some of the men simply couldn't stand there and not help the innocent; others had far less honorable aims...

"Get back to your position!" Sylviane glared down a fleeing lieutenant and his men, her knuckles white against as she squeezed the chain of her meteor hammer.

"B-but we can't fight in--"

His words never finished as she flung out her weapon and crushed his skull.

"Anyone who retreats without orders will be summarily executed as a traitor!" She shouted to the shocked soldiers watching. "Did I not make myself clear!?"

The two dozen troops he had been leading scurried back to where they came from. Meanwhile the ashes she breathed in forced Sylviane through a chain of coughs.

"Your Highness," she heard one of her armigers, coming just around the corner with a Captain in tow.

Sylviane couldn't believe some of the chaotic reports that were rolling in. She had to hear one of them firsthand with her own ears, so she had ordered Sir Cailean -- one of the armigers King Alistair left behind -- to bring back an officer from Pascal's left wing.

"What in the Holy Father's name happened out there?" Sylviane accosted the Captain.

"I don't know!" His haunted eyes quaked. "The infidels were closing in and we braced for their charge. Then... a blast came out of nowhere and just... torched them all! ...And not only that, the same beams of light also tore into the battalion on our left and ignited their men as well!"

"Where did the blast come from?"

The officer blinked once as though in a daze. Then he uttered:

"L-left. Far to the left!"

Sylviane bit her lips as she stared at the officer. His hands still trembled as his pupils shook. There was no doubt that he had just witnessed a most horrifying sight.

Her feet almost lost their balance as she swiveled around.

She had a bad feeling ever since Sir Robert said he couldn't reach Pascal. Her fiancé had anchored himself on the extreme left of the Lotharin line, and Sylviane had no doubt remaining that this destruction was caused by his experimental magic.

But based on the casualties reported from amidst the chaos, he had clearly botched the spell.

I warned you, Sylviane gritted her teeth as she felt tears pool in her eyes. Please tell me you didn't just get yourself killed!

"Robert," she called. "Go--"

She never finished the order as a shrill cry came from the distance:

"ENEMY ADVANCE!"

"RETURN TO YOUR POSITIONS!"

Are you kidding me!? Sylviane's thoughts cried out. You're going to keep fighting in this condition?

Her teeth gritted as she stared at Robert. He wasn't her best fighter, but in addition to being a Wayfarer he also served as her medic and communication officer. There was no way she could spare him now.

But I can't just leave Pascal be either!

"Sir Cailean," she turned back to the giant of a man. "Head north to our left flank and find His Grace the Landgrave. I must know what happened!"

...And if he's still alive, she cut her personal reason out.

"Yes, Your Highness," Cailean bowed before running off into the haze.

"Sir Robert, open a channel with Duke Lionel," Sylviane added as her phoenix wings expanded and her feet left the ground. "Tell him that the enemy is assaulting the town."

...And if he doesn't get pressed, he better send troops to support me!

The Princess flew towards the stockade wall that established her main defense line. Her armigers formed up in a wedge behind her as they cast their Levitation Flight spells.

"Cyclone Blast eastwards!" She crafted her own spell from the air. "Clear the air for archers!"

A torrent of winds erupted from her outstretched palm, its pressure forcing the lingering smoke towards the enemy. But just before her spell hit its limits, she watched as a squad of Cataliyan lancers emerged into plain sight.

They couldn't be more than fifty paces out, with several officers' hands extended and ready to unleash a volley of spells...

 

----- * * * -----

 

"SONIC BLAST!" Colonel Farah shouted as soon as she saw the base of the stockade wall, her mnemonic words both triggered her internal spellcraft and served as a signal for her brave soldiers.

A deafening cone of cacophonous energy erupted from not just her hands, but over a hundred others along the front. It plowed straight into the inner town's palisade, where entire sections were instantly shredded into wooden chips. Cries could be heard as several raised platforms collapsed under their defenders' feet, just before painful wails erupted across the front as jagged splinters burst into the faces of unprepared Lotharin troops.

General Salim had guessed earlier that the town's stockade was erected only to keep out beasts. It did not have any of the long-term wards that protected military fortifications from destructive spells.

Now, with her scimitar raised into the air, Farah sprinted forward with the Tauheed battle cry:

"There is no deity but God!"

"FOR GOD. IS. GREATER!" The echoing voice of over a thousand first wave troops replied.

 

----- * * * -----

 

"--For God. Is. Greater!"

Edith heard the roar from the infidels in the town's direction. She might not understand the southern tongue, but she certainly recognized those words.

Biting down on her lips, she deflected two more arrows with her kite shield.

The smoke that engulfed the Lotharin left and center had mostly dispersed by the time they reached her. It left her men with a stunning view of the alien, mushroom-shaped cloud that rose a kilopace off the ground -- white fumes that formed the background to her cyan airborne cross.

Events beyond her comprehension clearly took place on the other flank, while even the center was being pressed by massed assault. Edith wanted to help them, to aid the princess and defend the town. But unlike past battles where she roamed the center and joined combat at her will, she had been given a clear responsibility to guard the exposed Lotharin right flank this time.

The Saint and Oriflamme gritted her teeth as a loose line of Cataliyan light cavalry rode up to unleash successive javelin volleys. Her Sword of Charity glowed silver as it released more ribbons of white light, curving through the air to intercept shots that would otherwise slay her nearby comrades.

Lotharin rangers and archers replied with arrows, killing a third of the light cavalrymen before they retreated. Ranks of armored cavalry archers advanced through the woods as replacement, their compound bows beginning an archery duel with her own bowmen.

Are they screening an infantry advance? Or are they just trying to pin me here?

Edith could hardly see through the ranks of horse-archers and the forest. All she could do now was hold the line as waves of arrows swept back and forth between the two formations.

It was then, when one of her Ranger Captains from the west shouted:

"Cavalry in the western woods! Hundreds!"

"They ride north!"

Saint Estelle immediately turned to her sword sisters.

"Follow me!" she commanded as she led them down the battle line.

Landgrave Pascal had stationed her here, predicting that the Caliphate would try to flank around the Lotharin defenses. Edith wasn't sure if those armored horsemen were archers or lancers, but their goal was obvious -- to plunge a dagger into the back of the Trinitian line.

It was up to her to reposition forces and build a third line to protect the rear of the Lotharins.

 

----- * * * -----

 

"Their 'saint' is moving west..."

Sitting on top of a smooth rock, General Salim smiled as he heard Hakim's report. A series of bloody, hacking coughs followed, and Salim had to force himself to stay upright as another wave of nausea swept through his body.

Whatever happened in the north had ignited his command tent and badly burnt many of his staff officers. Salim himself had emerged unscathed, except now he felt feverish and dizzy, as though some unknown disease suddenly wracked him.

Unable to contact Brigadier Ardashir's right wing, Hakim had opened communications with the center instead. From there, he learned that Colonel Farah led a massive assault against the town. With the battle already in motion, the general could only play along and offer what assistance he could.

His first order had been to send a cavalry detachment around the Lotharin right wing. He knew this was Edith-Estellise's position given reports of her signature illumination spell. The horsemen were told to tie branches to their saddles which swept the forest ground as they rode. The dust and leaves they kicked up combined with illusory spells to make a convincing display of massive flanking force.

It lured Edith's reserves west exactly as he had hoped, just as other supporting units forded the creek and pinned down Duke Lionel's troops. The town's defenders would receive no support from the Lotharin right wing.

"Now, smash their center," Hakim declared to nobody but himself.

He had hardly finished before nausea overcame him and he vomited onto the ground.

 

----- * * * -----

 

Swiveling around the corner of a house, Sylviane smashed her meteor hammer straight into the flank of a Ghulam platoon -- which had been trying to press through a street blocked by militiamen holding a wall of spears.

Lotharin flails met Cataliyan chests as her armigers crashed into infidels, shattering their unit's cohesion on contact and giving her defending infantry a chance to counterattack.

But before the Princess could extricate her squad from the melee, another platoon of dismounted lancers had charged up the street. The smoky haze had cleared enough for visibility to climb to two hundred paces, and sporadic arrow fire peppered the attackers from upper floors and roofs. Nevertheless, only a few Ghulams fell before the rest plowed into the exposed side of the Oriflamme Armiger squad, where three lances immediately skewered one of her own.

Leaping into the air, Sylviane swept her meteor hammer around in a wide arc to buy her armigers a moment of reprieve. A scimitar slashed into her greaves from below as she turned her back. It didn't cut too deep, but Sylviane nevertheless cried out in pain at the third wound she had received.

The vicious fighting in the streets had decimated her forces. She was down to just four armigers, and everywhere the Lotharins were yielding ground. Gaps opened by the street combat had allowed the defenders to mount several counterattacks. But as a second wave of Cataliyans poured in to reinforce their first, Sylviane was rapidly running out of steady troops.

She had executed four officers already for retreating without orders, but even brutal punishments could only achieve so much. The defenders were wavering everywhere, with high casualties and battle fatigue taking its toll. Entire squads and platoons had fled towards the rear, despite threats of a traitor's death.

Distracted by the chaotic melee, Sylviane never noticed as a squad of Cataliyans bearing the red armor of the Mubarizun emerged onto a side street.

 

----- * * * -----

 

"There's their commander," Colonel Farah eyed the glowing Oriflamme with her burning-blue wings. "Take her down and the town is ours."

"That's not their 'saint' though," remarked one of her girls, sounding rather disappointed.

Farah almost snorted. She had seen the 'saint' in action from across the river at Gwilen -- that inhuman woman whose every strike pierced a man's vitals. Since then, she had come to the unpleasant realization that even her personal squad would have trouble against the Polar Cross, especially now when they were bloodied and exhausted after several frontal attacks against Lotharin strong-points.

"An Oriflamme all the same. Levitation Flight!" Farah hovered into the air as her spell took hold. Combat aerobatics wasn't their specialty, but her Dervish Order's traditional whirling dance had left them better prepared than most.

"Form up into column -- we take her in a stream attack!"

 

----- * * * -----

 

Blood splashed into the air as Sylviane watched another one of her armigers cut down.

"Your Highness!" Sir Robert shouted from just four paces away. "We have to fall back!"

"This is the main street! We must hold it at all cost!" Sylviane cried back as her meteor hammer smashed through an infidel shield and knocked its bearer down. His landing was softened by one of the dead and dying that blanketed the ground, but then a nearby militia's stabbing voulge finished him.

...Though the militiaman lasted only seconds longer, as a Ghulam's scimitar took advantage of the opening and hacked into his chest.

Such was the exchange of steel that pressed the Lotharins back from two corpse-strewn barricades. Streams of blood ran between the paving stones as the defenders on this main street were worn down.

Of the original three hundred, just twenty-eight remained. With one look at their exhausted, desperate faces, Sylviane knew that Robert was right.

Could they hold on for three more minutes? Five? There was no way it would be longer than that.

Her knuckles clenched white as they squeezed her meteor hammer's chains.

But if she retreated... it would spell total defeat. The army's fate would be sealed, and with it, both the defense of the western front and her bid for her father's throne.

Tears of anguish collected in the Princess' eyes as she bit down until she tasted blood from herself:

"We cannot retreat from here!"

"We have no choice!" Robert yelled again as a thrown lance aimed for the Princess clanged off Mari's heavy shield.

Sylviane's fiery-blue gaze shot back daggers as his hand grabbed onto her.

"My orders were specific! NO RETRE--"

"LOOK OUT!"

In a blur of motion, Sir Robert jerked the Princess back as he pushed his own body in front of her.

A Cataliyan champion charged straight through the air at them, and as always Mari intercepted the attack with her shield. She deflected the lance that came first. However the warrior didn't slow and darted straight past, clearing the way for the single column who followed like a stream of murderous steel.

The second foe was met by Mari's flail, its spiky head crushing into the woman's lamellar chest. Nevertheless the momentum of the charge carried through, with a scimitar smashing into Mari's side just below the spaulder.

The heavy half-plate held, but the impact knocked her body back. Seizing the moment, the third charging foe leveled his heavy falchion in both hands and cleaved straight into the exposed gap between her breastplate and skirt armor.

Sylviane watched in horror as her maid and bodyguard fell to the ground. The drop of three paces seemed to last a minute as Mari spat blood into the air, her entrails flowing out from the ghastly cut that almost severed her body in half.

"MARI!"

With shaking eyes, the Princess reflexively reached out. Her brain recognized that the wound was fatal without immediate healing. Her logic screamed that it was suicidal to even try. But none of this mattered to her as emotions surged to save her longtime companion -- to cling onto a thread of hope that her friend might yet live.

Sylviane hardly even noticed the fourth and fifth attacker, following in the wake of her maid's butcherer.

One of them smashed into Robert's shielded side, the blade deflected enough to graze only his shoulder armor. But the other immediately swooped in on his right, and the scimitar struck an already-damaged segment of his breastplate and crashed into his rib cage.

On the ground, Mari barely lifted her fingers towards Sylviane before they fell back down, motionless. Her body joining countless others that littered the street in its bloodbath.

Sir Robert was just beginning to drift down when the Princess caught his hand and pulled him up to a building's second story window sill. Her hands were shaking as she saw his open wound, where crimson blood flowed without ending.

"N-no, nono, Robert--!" Sylviane's eyes trembled as her head waved in denial.

Clenching his shattered chest as blood gurgled from his lips, Sir Robert gulped as he clearly could no longer manage breathing. Nevertheless, with pleading eyes bulging from their sockets, he mouthed a bare whisper to the Princess:

'Retreat...'

"PRINCESS!"

Elspeth's cry, combined with Hauteclaire's screeching warning from within, finally jolted Sylviane's attention back to the fight. Three of the Caliphate champions arced through the air before lining up for a simultaneous charge, while the fourth was locked in an aerial duel with the petite armiger.

Miraculous aid came when two arrows flew in from the church tower in the town's center. One of them penetrated the wards and pierced the chest of one foe. But the two remaining Cataliyans dashed forward through the air, scimitar and falchion poised to meet from separate directions.

Sylviane had already used Hauteclaire's one Flamebreak this battle. She had no special cards remaining.

Feinting an attack towards one, she swiveled around at the last second and threw her meteor at the other. The falchion-bearer couldn't dodge before the flying weight wreathed in blue flames crushed her right shoulder. The sudden impact disarmed the woman and sent her careening into a nearby building.

But while the meteor held the advantage in reach, it took time to retrieve it after any attack. Sylviane braced her small shield as the other soared in, scimitar aimed for a neck or chest blow.

...Then at the last second, it changed course and crashed in from the side, just above her elbow.

The Princess screamed in pain as she felt her left arm break. Her shield was now useless, and her meteor struck a wall when she lost concentration.

The female warrior stopped before her and raised her scimitar for a killing blow.

Time seemed to slow as Sylviane's life flashed before her eyes. Her memories replayed that moment when she met a teenage Robert and Mari in vivid detail, when her seven-years-old self pulled the two kneeling squires up before grinning at them.

...Finally, she would have friends who weren't her brothers. This time, she would not make the mistake of treating them as just servants.

At that moment, a bladed hook flew in from behind Sylviane's would-be-killer and snagged onto a spaulder. The trailing rope pulled taut, forcibly turning the woman around -- just in time for the Cataliyan to watch as Elspeth plunged a second blade-hook into her face.

The petite girl breathed hard, blood splattered across her body. The Summerborn were known for strength that exceeded their size; but even then it was amazing that despite a deep, bloody cut, her right arm could still deal the killing blow.

"Robert!" Sylviane wasted no time as she swung back to the window sill.

But Sir Robert was no longer there. He had fallen to the ground just a few paces away from Mari, his eyes still and unmoving as the clash in the streets pushed on past him.

"COME ON!" Elspeth pulled the Princess' good arm. "You're in no state to fight now!"

Sylviane was almost catatonic as her last remaining armiger dragged her off the battlefield. Tears streamed down both of her cheeks as her eyes stayed glued to the street where her two oldest friends fell, fulfilling the oath that they had pledged on the day they met:

With my life, I swear to protect you.

 

----- * * * -----

 

"That army is broken," the worldwalker Gwendolyn observed from her vantage point in the low clouds.

"The town's loss is just a matter of time now," her compatriot Kannon nodded solemnly from the side. "Once that happens, the Lotharin right wing will be rolled up from the center, and the Lotharin left is too disorganized from that earlier catastrophe to mount an effective defense."

Gwendolyn turned to her senior. The way Kannon summed up the situation almost felt callous, as though the butchery below were just lines drawn on a map rather than the deaths of countless. But then, it was hardly her place to say anything -- Gwendolyn had lead an army in war before; she knew exactly what it took for commanders to watch their men die while trying to stay composed with their mind focused on mission objectives.

"Now can I interfere?" the younger worldwalker -- by over a thousand years -- asked.

"Since the Ceredigion army has no intention of fighting, and the last force in defense of its people has been swept aside." Kannon's return gaze was weighed by sadness. "Yes."

"But are you sure?" She added. "Remember: you only get one chance... and Ceredigion's intact army may still take action."

"Yes, I'm certain," Gwendolyn answered as she materialized her arms and armor from extradimensional storage, including the translucent crystal blade that brought her the nickname Faerie Sword.

"Geopolitics is a game of giants," she stated. "Ceredigion's only chances lay as a responsible member of the Empire."

Gazing upon the bluish hue that was being dragged towards the town's west, Gwendolyn added with a wry smile:

"Besides... I swore an oath to Louis, and his Great-Great-Granddaughter had fought as bravely as anyone could."

 

----- * * * -----

 

"CHARGE!" Saint Estelle flew between the trees at the tip of a four hundred strong reserve.

Edith knew that she was probably too late. She had chased the infidel cavalry all the way to the rear before realizing that it was a feint. Now, when she finally came to the town's rescue with her winded infantry, the Caliphate's flag already flew over Glysywing's church tower.

She could hear the infidels pouring out of the town and onto Duke Lionel's left flank. His front no doubt began to buckle as his side and rear came under attack. Similar clashes of steel also resounded from the smoke-obscured north, where the Lotharin left wing likely found its own position compromised.

This is my fault, her inner conscience blamed. I should have been here to help!

Edith knew that the battle was already lost. No army could lose its center and still hold ground. But she had to counterattack the town with her last sliver of hope -- that she could at least extract the Princess and buy time for the army to retreat into the forest.

"Please merciful Lord, please keep Her Highness safe," her whispered prayers to the Holy Father pleaded. "Take my life in exchange, but keep her safe for the future of the Lotharins!"

It was then, when she heard a resounding chant overhead.

Halting her charge through the sparse forest just southwest of the town, Edith turned to see a figure glowing white-blue in the skies. It was no doubt the light of a phoenix. But as the feminine figure descended to an altitude of three hundred paces, Edith was certain that it also wasn't Sylviane, Vivienne, or any other Oriflamme she knew.

Azure rings of ether formed around the chanting woman, her unfamiliar words echoing an outdated accent of Brython. Magic stronger than anything Edith had ever seen coalesced around this stranger, congealing into a kaleidoscopic sphere of power beneath her feet.

It shouldn't be possible. No soul could process that much ether at once. Yet before Edith's eyes the unknown Oriflamme pulled in an entire battlefield's worth of unspent spiritual energy and sent it into the brilliant globe.

Then, as the chant finished, the sphere collapsed in on itself, releasing a pulse of energy that shot down into the forest and spread like a magical shockwave. Edith felt only pressure as the wavefront of white-blue ether washed over her, but the same could not be said for the trees as their bark glowed upon contact with this strange magic.

She watched with bulging eyes as the hibernating trees began to transform. Wooden limbs groaned as they twisted and wrapped smaller branches around themselves like rope bundles. Forks along the trunk and main branches thickened into sinewy joints. Trunk bottoms cracked and split into fours that lifted off the dirt like stretching legs, while roots erupted from the earth before wrapping themselves into powerful bundles that stood on the ground.

Both the Oriflamme and her soldiers stood frozen. They stared with a mixture of fright and awe as the trees uprooted. It wasn't even just a few plants or several dozens, but the entire forests around. Waves upon waves of trees stood up from the earth like four-legged beasts, their sinewy limbs stretching as wooden hollows groaned.

The unknown Oriflamme in the skies spoke a single, commanding word. Edith didn't have to speak the language to understand the pointed crystalline sword.

'Attack.'

Thus began the march of an entire forest. It did not take long before horrified shouts in the southern tongue erupted across the battle front, as lumbering trees with near immunity to hand-held weapons strode up and smashed into them.

60 thoughts on “Chapter 17 - The Knights' Oath

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  1. AVR

    Typos

    Hakim declare to
    Hakim declared to

    Hmm. I'm not seeing other typos, either this was well proofread already or I'm too tired already.

    Reply
  2. Thanatoss

    Great chapter just like the one before.
    At this point in the novel I was thinking about complaining to you that Kaede coming from Earth have 0 impact on the world and she didn't make nuke or something. I acctualy writen whole comment but then decided to read newet 2 chapters.
    I have to say. FINALY NUKES!!! You implemented it really well.
    Now I am expecting some god/world-walker power on Kaede. Ok I know that would make this story probably worse. But I still like the idea. Technicaly speaking Kaede is "word walker" but you quickly made me (and probably other readers too) forget it with her lack of magic nerves in the begining. BUT another world walker met her personaly! Then you involved them directly. It can't be just plot device. I hope becoming stronger won't kill plot. So far all your story decisions are perfect so I think it will be great no matter how it will conntinue.
    Great chapter. Great setting. Keep it up! Just don't hang us for too long. My fingers...

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I don't intend to dramatically strengthen Kaede out of nowhere, if you're wondering. The latest incident is more of a reminder that Pascal is as much a magical genius as he is a tactical one, even if he rarely enters battle himself. Kaede herself will be sticking mostly to 'soft power'. Won't say anything more since it'd be spoilers... =x

      Reply
      1. Thanatoss

        So no power spikes. I guess it is correct decision but still I feel disappointed.

        Guys look at this:
        "I don't intend to dramatically strengthen Kaede out of nowhere" Aorii
        So he will make her somehow op. Now I am hyped.
        My best, easiest idea would be very simple one. Kaede has this glyphs on forearms so why don't just pump one of them with most powerful large scale group spell that is possible to cast by let's say many mages together? She would just go somewhere solo and unleash destruction and she could do so few times. Ok you never said other person can put spell inside this glyphs but if they can then I don't understand why they didn't do it already? Pascal is genius right? Even if only Pascal can do it, then still they can simply put nuclear spell inside this glyphs. Done, she is op now.
        Oh btw. you never said what is the limit of ether that can be put inside of one of this glyphs. is it bigger than crystals? Or does she have only "spell" inside glyph and she uses her own ether (Pascal's) but that wouldn't make sense since they are exhausted after use and if she uses her own ether and spell inside glyph is only catalyst then she should be able to use it as many times as she want, until Pascal runs out of ether. And what happens when Pascal is too far away? She can use glyphs right? Can she use magic devices that use Pascal's ether? Even if they are so far that link doesn't work? Maybe she actually "stores" some of Pascal's ether and can use it until she runs out of it and then she must resupply it by going near Pascal again?
        Sooo many questions that were not answered in story :C
        I know too much technical stuff is stupid but it is third volume and we still don't know most of "magic's rules" that apply to our heroine at least.

        Reply
        1. Hakurei06Hakurei06

          And while I've heard the term used once before, it is today I learn that 'soft power' is a term dating back from 1990.

          As a general rule 'soft power' is political strength garnered without the use of force. That means diplomacy and culture, not the threat or use of military force. What's with this obsessive fixation on turning Kaede into some sort of Mary Sue anyway? For the Holy Father's sake, she's the Watson character in the dynamic. Her strengths cover Pascal's weaknesses and vice versa.

          Reply
        2. AoriiAorii Post author

          @Hakurei
          Never realized the term was that new o_O The concept has certainly been around for a long time.

          @Thanatoss
          You're clearly not paying attention to Kaede's character if you even thinks she will agree to that.

          Most of those questions were already answered. You were either not paying attention or not thinking when the details were presented (v1ch3 has the most info at once):

          • I never have and never will 'hard define' the ether capacity of the glyphs. Only a gamey writer will worry about details like that <_ <
          • Kaede receives/stores ether from Pascal (hence she accused him of using her as a battery in v1).
          • She can use this ether to power magic equipment (v1)
          • The glyphs store fully completed spells (and since spellcasting is defined as 'shaping ether' [v2], of course it means the ether is stored alongside the spell)
          • Never even implied she had to be within range of Pascal to use the glyphs.
          • Since their links break off when there's enough distance, it's safe to assume that she wouldn't have her ether supplied if she's too far, but she still carried some in herself.
          Reply
          1. Hakurei06Hakurei06

            Well, in the work I first heard it from (an ongoing web serial), the nuances differed from Nye's definition in that it considered political intrigue (assassinations, bribery, and whatnot) to be soft power.

          2. Thanatoss

            Thanks for reply. Yes this answers were most logical ones.
            So basicly you are not going that way. I mean, taking what they got and making something new and genius with it, you rather prefer implementing something brand new which was't foreshadowed, like nuke-spell-sama.
            Now that you mentioned it... i can't imagine Kaede with few nukes in her arms... she would cut this arms off. On the other hand it is so unboyish. She was teenage boy... how much has "she" changed, that she hates having weapon of ultimate destruction in her own hands!
            Btw. I noticed how you splendidly covered all doubts expect world-walker-Kaede.
            No problem.
            I won't tell anyone.
            You don't have to say anything more. I expect great thing from here on.
            I belive story will keep getting better and better.

          3. AoriiAorii Post author

            Do a google image search on 'Hiroshima'. Embed the images of those 'human remains' into your eyes and tell me if you still feel the same way.

            I haven't been to the Peace Museum the Japanese built there, but I've seen the photos of victims with skin peeling off their limbs, read the firsthand accounts of black radioactive rain that burned on contact, or survivors so blackened by burns you couldn't tell they were human or some mutant monstrosity...
            There's nothing "unboyish" about a dislike of mass destruction weapons.

          4. Thanatoss

            I don't think killing is good way of solving problems and most other ways are better but killing is... well... killing. I don't prefer one way of doing so over another. If I would have war to win and had to kill my enemies while making sure my friends, soldiers etc. stay as safe as possible then I would happily welcome nukes (unless they got too much long lasting effects like Earth nukes or my enemy got them too and we just aggree not to use them or planet will blow up).
            Just use what you got. True especially during war.
            Yeah good I think this would be good talk to implement into story. Pascal: But this is new spell I fixed it. 100% safe.
            Kaede: Nope Nope Nope I still have nightmares! Pascal: But otherwise we will lose and they will kill use or worse!
            Kaede: Sh!t

    2. Hakurei06Hakurei06

      Kaede coming from Earth have 0 impact on the world and she didn't make nuke or something.

      Bullshit. She just created public education and a stock market. Magical nukes may be powerful, but in this case Pascal's the only one who can use it, & he's only one Mage; however powerful he may be, send enough soldiers at him when he's depleted and you can cut him out of the equation.

      Reply
      1. AoriiAorii Post author

        She just created public education

        She did? When did this happen?
        Discussion is not the same as implementation. Otherwise we'd have colonized the solar system by now.

        Reply
          1. Thanatoss

            Yup they talked about technology, history and such but they didn't do any of it. What I meant was that until now story could be almost the same even if Kaede was from Pascal's world but just other country. And was girl.
            I hope to see more interesting scenes which will involve this topics. Yup especialy gb tagged ones they are funny and interesting. Sometimes inside all this military fun I forget that it is gb novel XD
            Still best web novel that I read this far I guess.
            So many great genres in one... I love to read this.

  3. BurningDaisies

    @Aorii

    Yet another spectacular chapter!
    I've been following the series for the past few months off and on. Honestly, I've been enamored with the characters and the world you've built. The mix of fantasy and historical insights with nods towards our own mythology has kept it really interesting.

    You keep me up to all hours of the night reading and re-reading chapters while the text comes to life in my imagination. It's good. SUPER GOOD.
    If this was a published book, I'd have 3 copies already. xD

    Incidentally, suppose I wanted to donate as a show of support, is there a way to do that?
    I know you have a paying job already, but I'd like to do it anyway.
    The narrative and content is just too good. x3

    If you're opposed to that, I'd be willing to donate to a charity of a your choosing.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I may open a Patreon account or something after vol3 for those who do want to donate, but I have to stress the fact that I am doing this as a hobby and I don't want to ruin that (people's perspective tends to change once enough money is involved =\ and the last thing I want to do is have my writing style turn populist because I'm worried about attention, instead of focusing on themes I want to portray).

      The best way to support Daybreak is to spread the word and give me constructive feedback. You have no idea how much a single detailed comment could encourage me xD

      Reply
      1. BurningDaisies

        I understand what you mean. ^^
        Daybreak has already been introduced to a great many of my friends, novel enthusiasts, and book nerds.

        Honestly, I'm enjoying the ride.
        I'm a little sad that sometimes the character development takes a backseat to the war-time narrative, but I love them both.
        Last chapter, when I was reading the part where Pascal was trying his fusion blast spell and witnessing the nuclear holocaust it wrought, all I could think was "Man, wouldn't it be great if Pascal has a J. Robert Oppenheimer moment when he comes to?".

        Y'know the whole " I am become death, destroyer of worlds. "

        And now I get to see a gods descending into the battlefield and wrecking face? Oh! And I there was some great dialogue with Kaede and Gwen, that despite the awkward translation was really poignant.
        It's like you brought out a tray of exquisite (literary) desserts and I get to eat all of them. I don't even care if I go into a coma afterwards and get diabetes from it.

        So good! x3

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          I'm still convinced Oppenheimer later said he thought that phrase as some sort of PR stunt to portray himself as a 'responsible scientist' who got kicked off by the military after he tried to exert too much control (after the war). As noted in wiki:

          Physicist Isidor Rabi noticed Oppenheimer's disconcerting triumphalism: "I'll never forget his walk; I'll never forget the way he stepped out of the car ... his walk was like High Noon ... this kind of strut. He had done it."
          Brigadier General Thomas Farrell, who was present in the control bunker at the site with Oppenheimer, summarized his reaction as follows:
          There came this tremendous burst of light followed shortly thereafter by the deep growling roar of the explosion, his face relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief.

          As for Pascal... he wasn't a humanist to begin with.

          Reply
          1. Shiki

            Please don't do something like having characters start saying RL quotes. One of my favorite aspects of your writing is that it's original, believable, and draws real world parallels without being forced. After reading a lot of other web fiction, I can confidently say very few can even come close to the quality that Daybreak presents.

            It's so easy to write self-insert fiction with overpowered protagonists with the same cliche tropes thrown all over the place, while your novel presents believable and flawed characters that have their own problems and most importantly have them grow and mature consistently and in-character throughout the novel. It's amazing how much detail you put into your work and how you keep track of it all. It's definitely one of the reasons I keep coming back for more.

            Keep it up and never change.

            PS: If you're looking for proofreaders I'd be happy to help. Currently working on getting into graduate school but I'd love to help your work if you're willing to accept it and I'm fairly confident in my grammar.

          2. Hakurei06Hakurei06

            He has pretty much been having his characters unknowingly paraphrasing historical quotes. Not to mention Kaede's a walking history encyclopædia so they occasionally come to mind. If I recall, she quoted Churchill at some point.

          3. Shiki

            There's a difference between a historian of our world quoting famous lines and someone like Pascal or Sylv "unknowingly" quoting something that doesn't fit their character at all. In Kaede's case of quoting Churchill, she's practically doing whimsically because of the situation and her background which makes sense for her character.

          4. AoriiAorii Post author

            @Shiki
            I've actually been tempted by this already... and decided that any quotes of Earthly figures, unless used to make a connection, will only come from Kaede.

            And sure, I'll send an email to talk about it later, assuming the email you wrote the comment with is your real one.

          5. Hakurei06Hakurei06

            I don't recall any quotes being particularly out of character, but sure enough, aside from Kaede, who makes her references knowingly, they're usually made by relatively minor characters, so in their case, it'd be more of a characterizing point than an uncharacteristic one.

            If anyone's going to be quoting the leading figures of the Trinity test, it'd probably be our errant historian narrator.

          6. Shiki

            @Aorii

            It's not my main business email but you can certainly get in touch with me through it. I'll be looking forward to your email.

  4. kisuke28

    Quick question will Kaede find love or will she be denied that because of the engagement to the princess? Is there hope for Kaede to have a love life!

    Reply
      1. kisuke28

        It wasn't this chapter I just had this question for a while and didn't know how to contact the author.

        Reply
      2. Hachi

        I really liked the "How Romanticism Ruined Love" video. It was really good! ^^ Thanks for the links,
        I've been watching a ton of The School of Life's videos thanks to it.

        Anyway, honestly, I feel Daybreak is best kept away from unnecessary romance. If it develops naturally
        the way you, the writer, desires, great. If not, also fine by me. I feel Kaede is someone that honestly doesn't need a
        romantic partner (I know I'm the one guilty of creating the Robert x Kaede ship to pass the time, but I digress) because
        the narrative is already strong without a spotlight on that aspect.

        Anyway, all of this was really meant to be a thanks for the interesting links. I could use some more
        learning material.

        Reply
  5. zeal

    Hi, magnificent work there! I don't remember having read anything this good in the web for a long time. I find very interesting how you managed to bring together some of the best parts of both light novels and western fantasy novels (really nice world building!). I have recommended your work to every friend I could remember that cared for a good read. If I had to complain about something, it would be about how harsh it gets to wait for the next chapter, but I guess nothing can be done about that =) Keep the great work!
    Oh, I also have a question! Will the reason behind Pascal's fusion spell failing be discussed in detail at some point, or was it just some random accident? Also, does Solar Initiation refer to the whole spell (with the barrier and containment field setup) or just to the catalyst for the fusion reaction?
    You have made very clear that Kaede doesn't come from a technical background, but I find interesting how Pascal would react to some "modern" views in information management or topics related to Computer Science (scratch that last one, that's just my personal interest since I am a computer scientist myself).

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      ^^' I can only apologize for the delays between chapters. Juggling between life, a full time engineering career, and writing is hard. I did write a post on why it takes a long time once: https://krytykal.org/daybreak-diary-on-chapter-release-time/

      Will I discuss in story? Not likely (or at least, not soon). It would be breaking the character's viewpoints as none of them are nuclear physicists. But Pascal's spell failed because he was an ad-hoc innovator and not a scientist -- he never calculated and balanced the force equation out. Aka the containment was not enough to suppress the explosive pressure once the chain reaction got going.

      Solar initiation refers to the Catalyst spell itself.

      Pascal would definitely welcome modern information management... especially since military logistics is one of those fields that have huge information throughput. I'm not sure about the computer science aspects themselves though, just the products they create here xD

      Reply
      1. zeal

        Certainly the development level in Hyperion and the existence of magic would cause some of the reasons that lead to the earliest advances in Computer Science to not be issues at all (since military communications are carried over telepathy, there's no need for cryptography and such, for example), but that also could mean that they could "skip" some steps along the way: Pascal's runic magic does resemble programming to some extent =), also, I think you already introduced something that could be thought of as rudimentary AI with Skagen's autonomous runes.

        Reply
  6. Skoonting

    I've been binge-reading this entire series and just catched up and I am incredibly impressed. I have to be honest, I didn't really think the series was going to be that good and therefor put off reading it, but now I really feel like an idiot. And although I'm not quite sure how I feel about the whole world-walker/deities/gods being proven real to the readers and also intervening in mortal affairs, you haven't disappointed yet so I'm guessing you have some sort of plan for why you have made them into POV characters.

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      I'm glad you've been enjoying it ^^

      I guess people would feel dissatisfied about outside actors that's completely beyond the main characters' influence/control? All I can say is that I don't plan to using them as mere plot devices (and any chance of them interfering will be noted quite early).

      Reply
  7. Steele

    ...*sniff*... on the bright side edith probably saw *sniff* this as their god intervening and is now *sniff* sylv's %$*#@... now *sniff* all she has is the crazy sickle girl...

    Reply
  8. Anon

    Wew, radiation poisoning and the charge of the ents, you sure know how to make things fun mate.

    Reply
  9. Hachi

    Oh. Well, my ship just sank ^^
    Either way, that was intense. I'm going to reread this and Chapter 16 before I can give any kind of constructive criticism or analysis, but as always, the writing is superb! (And my heart is broken :'D)
    Best of luck with your vehicle, last year I had to let go of my beloved car because of an accident and I know the entire process is stressful. Keep up the wonderful work you provide with this novel series, I'm always looking forward to these updates.

    (Now excuse me while I go clean my eyes. Right now there's a leak I need to plug...)

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      My apologies ^^'
      Back when I first saw your fanart I went 'oh gosh... better keep my mouth shut'.
      That being said, Robert will actually be playing a fairly big role next chapter.

      Reply
      1. Hachi

        No reason to apologize, but I'm thankful you didn't say anything! ^^ It made reading this chapter all the more riveting and emotional.
        The fact I felt something when Mari and Robert went down and I immediately worried about Sylv means that you've given me
        a story where I'm invested in this world and the characters; which undoubtably makes me happy because I loved to pulled into
        good books! Thanks again for the awesome chapter! xD

        Reply
      2. Hachi

        Alright, I'm completely caught up and have carefully read the newest chapters (16 and 17) and now I can sit back and say:
        Perfection.

        That's it, I have no complaints. I'm riveted, I'm enthralled, I'm horrified and delighted. The tactics continue to make sense are are well utilized, the nuclear fallout's effects are a nice detail that you've included that only makes it feel more real. The emotional attachment we had time to nurture for characters like Robert and especially Mari have only made this chapter more sorrowful and moving.

        The ending to the chapter is exciting because who doesn't love magic trees fighting? The POVs you provide are well placed and just long enough for me to understand the entire situation of the battle as well as the surprise by Pascal's "experiment" on both sides. I don't think Sylv is in the clear yet, though her main issue with Edith has been resolved for now. The worldwalkers have added an interesting point of view as well as providing a flavor of "divine" intervention that I believe works simply because their POV was provided and their own motivations were lightly touched upon. I'm always curious to see how all this affect Kaede when she returns, but at the same time I'm scared for her because of the emotional burden of finding out her friends and family (Pascal) have either been critically injured or killed in battle.

        I'm glad I finally got down to catching up and really giving these chapters the attention they deserved (school being in the way on occasion.) I feel like this is a strong answer to the previous chapters where you seemed a little dissatisfied with the result. 16 and 17 are awesome chapters, hands down. It delivers to me on all levels and I can't find anything I have gripes with. Sure I miss Kaede, but every other character is just as, if not more, interesting and easily carry their own weight throughout the narrative.

        Amazing work, Aorii ^^ I am completely enraptured with this part of the arc, and I can't wait for more! (I know you have a lot going on, so I'm rooting for things to improve for you!) Thank you for your continued time and effort!

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          I feel like such positive feedback is a little biased xP

          Though it is true I've certainly picked the pace up from earlier chapters. I've been more or less satisfied from that side. Our discussion regarding Robert earlier in the volume made me feel that at least he was sufficiently developed; Mari I can't say the same, though that's more a problem that there's just no good opportunity without making it feel too forced.

          Thanks for taking the time for such detailed feedback ^^

          Reply
    2. LonelyLovelyLunarLunacy

      My response was pretty much the opposite, I never really liked Robert and there was a bit of a sadistic rush when I read of his demise. I wasn't aware Kaede and him were an item, a ship and all. I always imagined he was just going to be there complicating matters and simply being his irritating self, but it seems that won't be the case. Mari got murdered too in addition to Pascal's current status being sketchy, seems this battle has truly taken a large toll on major characters in the span of a few chapters.

      Kannon appears again at long last, a Buddhist figure right? Her character amuses me, because of the disparity between what is displayed and her backing legend.

      In her legend, she goes into some hell and saves those stuck there through compassion, people who 'couldn't be saved'. The whole saving those who can't be saved thing is inverted in her depiction here and prior, she is (as Gwendolyn observed) rather callous and as in the case with the Northerners, the first to conclude that certain people should be abandoned. The contrast is wondrously amusing.

      The World-Walkers make me immensely interested in the Abyss, by extension. The Abyss is toted as being similar to the Titanomachy of Greek mythology, but even with that comparison it is hard to see the World-Walkers and the 'Holy Father' as the 'good' side without considering a number of things. The World-Walkers seem to divide worlds amongst themselves each claiming a slice, obeying some mutual agreement and all like a series of global oligarchies -- yet in the process they actively participate in creating cultures that revel in slavery, lack social mobility, cause needless religious conflict based upon the personal beliefs of their World-Walker sponsor, persecution and the like. They certainly aren't shining paragons of virtue and goodness judging from the results of their meddling. They seem rather half-assed in just asserting their own ways on the people of their chosen countries then bugging out and just watching everything go to shit as a result. They are ignoring Star Trek's Prime Directive, which, in light of their actions here seems to make even more sense with this as a context. It makes me wonder how terrible the Abyss would need to be in order to be 'worse' and if they aren't truly the 'bad guys' in this whole Heaven vs. Hell thing. All we have to go off of thus far, apart from simply being at war with World-Walkers & the 'Holy Father', is that they levelled lands into deserts in the south and created vampires.

      I just get the impression that there's no clear-cut good vs. evil dichotomy in the whole affair of HF+co against the Abyss. After all, this fiction is really good at avoiding such simplistic representations. I may be overstepping myself here, but are there any plans for the Abyss to be discussed in (or directly involved in) the narrative in future?

      Reply
      1. AoriiAorii Post author

        Well aren't you an unkind one. Of all places to comment you had to reply that to Hachi...

        Just like people, different worldwalkers would have different motives with different sense of ethics. How you just clump them into a single group like that... especially after making quite a few assumptions (where did I state they actively promote slavery? or divide worlds?).

        The only facts I made obvious thus far is (1) they're mortals who reached immortality through magical means and thus have all the biases that humans exhibit and (2) they have strict rules on intervention to prevent multiple worldwalkers from engaging in direct conflict against one another, much in the same way it's a bad idea for 2 nuclear powers to go to war.

        As far as the details of the Dragon-Demon War... we'll see. Maybe Kaede will pour over a book in a bonus chapter or something, but I don't plan to directly involve/describe it in the main plot. The best depiction thus far of the alliance that fought against the Abyss is:

        We all met the Maker, the Enlightened, the Holy Father, the One God, whatever it is you want to call him! He was there, leader paramount of Celestia, supreme commander of the Archons. He was not just some distant Allfather but our ally! His greatest warriors fighting right alongside us and the noble Dragonlords!

        You may all walk away with a different opinion of just what he is, how he shapes the universe, and what virtues he uphold. But you cannot deny his one desire: that the bravery of souls is the single most strategic resource in fuelling his Archon armies in their eternal and unwinnable struggle against the Demonkind from the Infinite Abyss!

        - Sigurd, v3 prologue

        Reply
        1. LonelyLovelyLunarLunacy

          I merely reflected on what I thought, doing so here makes sense as making an independent comment about it seemed unnecessary considering there was already discussion about it here. Besides, I'm pretty much repeating what I stated in relation to Robert during the whole Kaede/Sylv bipolar debacle.

          That they are a group seemed a done deal to me, they are part of an alliance which holds a strict set of rules preventing independent action that may lead to a conflict of interests between World-Walkers. Thus far from that perception of them that I possess, they've accordingly conducted themselves as a group, a group with varying views on one another and the group itself, but a group none the less. We've yet to learn of humans turned immortal who travel between worlds yet maintain neutrality by remaining outside of the alliance or outright ignore the authority and rules of the group if any exist at all.

          About the other things, that they divide worlds seemed obvious to me, when the Northerners were in trouble it was the Thunderlord (Sigurd) who raced over, and in this chapter Gwendolyn was the one to intervene for Ceredigion. It seems obvious that they've divided up responsibilities and jurisdictions over various lands and cultures between themselves. The rules they have are an extension of this, no? This isn't the case?

          As for 'promoting' slavery (I'm pretty sure I stated that they 'create cultures that revel in slavery' rather than actively 'promote'), I'm looking at the end results of their social engineering. Considering how closely our historical cultures and theirs resemble one another, it seems that quite a bit of this similarity sources from the common point between them -- the World-Walkers. That being said, of all the things they sought to imbue into the cultures that they dealt with, apparently religious scriptures for the Trinitians and the Tauheed were more important than chipping in a strongly worded variant of 'Oh, don't enslave one another, have fun now'. So rather than actively promoting it, I would put it as forming cultures tolerant of slavery, who practice it, imbuing dogmatic religious views over ethical ones or fairer legal systems for that matter. So far the only person who seems to have not gone overboard in this kind of thing is Kanna with Samara and possibly Gwen too, due to her relative youth.

          The thing about the depiction of the Alliance that Sigurd gives is that I can't bring myself to completely buy into it, it is likely somewhat biased. It is the depiction of the alliance by a human who reached immortality and thus 'has all the biases that humans exhibit' also him being part of the alliance certainly doesn't sing out a neutral unbiased position on the alliance, the nature of their conflict against the Abyss, or his perception of the Abyss itself. In addition to that, details about the Abyss' actions are just the typical 'They're just evil' of religious dogma in this world, the creation of vampires and the destruction of the Cataliyan lands (this is just about all that readers know of thus far). So the nature of the entire conflict and the factions on either side of it is difficult to discern factoring in the bias of sources and misinformation due to the passage of time.

          I love the amount of thought that goes into the narrative, but it leads to feeding my bad habit of forming all these questions and going off on tangents with my perceptions about the story and those in it. It is rather uncontrollable at times.

          Reply
      2. Hachi

        I find it mildly amusing how strongly you feel about Robert's (apparent?) demise.
        Either way, to each their own. ^^ I'm simply a sucker for well written "Sir Knight" characters.

        I find your analysis and questions regarding the World Walkers and the Abyss interesting, however as I haven't spent any time looking into this world's lore, I can only take what information Aorii provides right now. (Not sure if you were interested in a long discussion about it or not, but I digress.) The only opinion I can offer is that my personal feelings in this world are that there are no good vs. evil conflicts, because looking from it at all perspectives everything is more grey than anything else.

        Honestly, I'm more invested in the conflict before me especially concerning Sylv's very precarious position now that Pascal is incapacitated (as far as we know, I won't assume death), Mari and Robert are most likely dead, and Kaede is a mortar magnet (this is a joke, please forgive me Aorii! D'x) Either way, thanks for the interesting read!

        Reply
        1. LonelyLovelyLunarLunacy

          Yeah, I kind of assumed that there was no clear-cut 'good guys' between the World-Walkers and the Abyss due to the fact that Aorii often takes great strides to ensure that those on both sides of a conflict are portrayed in a way that doesn't make them villainous caricatures. That being said, there's also great deal of possible bias and misinformation to sift through regarding past events of the Dragon-Demon war and the actions of either side, so I don't think that the thoughts I have considering possibilities are totally unfounded.

          Robert burned bridges with me through the Kaede-Sylv debacle, he just came off as disingenuous and callous with his self-serving excuses and apologies. I wasn't actively brooding and pining for his demise, but it was a pleasant surprise? If it sticks, at least.

          The conflict has just exploded (literally, in the case of Pascal's new toy) over the past few chapters. The situation is looking quite grim indeed, lots of things going on in the background as well and then we have Sylv, Pascal and Kaede smack in the middle of this catastrophe. I'm rather curious as to how exactly they plan on salvaging this mess.

          Reply
  10. Dragon_ANGL

    Thanks for the chapter and at least partial cliffhanger resolving! Hope your car trouble is resolved even more quickly, hopefully with insurance people waking up and favoring you.

    Reply
  11. Kearnaun

    Here we stand or here we fall ... *sing songs along*

    Thank you for the chapter!

    Reply
  12. Glacierfairy

    Deus ex... arbor? But victory seem to be at sight for once, albeit with a terrible cost. And even then it would depend on Sylviane getting her wits back, which is not going to be easy.

    PS: I found a couple of misspelled words in the passage -

    She never finished the order as a shrill cry came form the distance ("from")

    Nevertheless the momentum of the charge carried through, with a scimiar smashing into Mari's side just below the spaulder. ("scimitar")

    "That army is broken," the worldwalker Gwendolyn observed from her vantage point in the low crowds. (is it supposed to be "low clouds" or am I mistaken?)

    Reply
    1. AoriiAorii Post author

      D'oh! D'oh! and D'oh! Fixed. Thanks for pointing out =)

      Too bad there isn't a special category for Deus ex Machina that was pre-planned for a purpose (or at least, I couldn't find it). Gwendolyn had been on my list of Oriflammes from the design stage so I could drag her in.
      (because really, that phrase is not associated positively in the modern literary mind ^^')

      Reply
      1. Glacierfairy

        To me it looks more like a "divine intervention" than a "deus ex machina" actually, but now I am curious over the conditions for the worldwalkers (are they gods, or are they simply immortals?) to intervene in mortal affairs. How often can they intervene and when can they intervene?

        Reply
        1. AoriiAorii Post author

          Divine intervention is actually the original form of deus ex machina. In fact, using this literary medium to portray the relationship between mortals and gods is considered one of the few acceptable uses of it.
          More will be explained, as Gwen actually stays around a bit. One of the key differences I want to stress between this and gimmicky plot devices typically associated with 'deux ex machina' is that this will have permanent, lasting effects on Hyperion. Like any good mechanical design, a mechanic introduced is something the characters must be able to learn, use, and exploit.

          Reply
          1. Glacierfairy

            Guess I will have to wait for more then, but it will be well worth the wait, because this is truly a compelling tale. =)

  13. Shiki

    RIP the Kaede - Robert ship.

    This part: "The smoke that engulfed the Lotharin left and center had mostly dispersed by the it they reached her"

    I think you meant "by the time they reached her"?

    Thanks again for the chapter :]

    Reply
  14. kolerick

    first?
    hmmm, radiation poisonning at ground zero (with high command incapacited in near futur): check
    march of the treants: check
    "goddess" involvement: check
    guess the invasion is stalled, at least

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