A deep freeze blossomed from the center of Vilute, covering the city in frost and devouring Tal’hrus’ flames of purification. Eril’s soldiers who were patrolling the city were petrified with confusion at the unnatural phenomenon, and the prisoners situated before the barracks stared with tearful eyes and hushed breaths.
Kaidus stood at the center of the frozen world, silver hair shining radiantly and two callous eyes glowing with an otherworldly majesty. Power thrummed and vibrated around him like a thick coat of death, and lightning crackled along the ice underneath his feet threateningly.
Taking a step forward, by his will, the remnants of Eril’s meager frost field vanished completely. Walking toward the Tal’hrus master, “I have some knowledge of who and what I am up against.” He glared into the man’s eyes. “The question is, do you?”
His encounters with the two Zavons had allowed him to gauge the abilities of the masters, and one of such calibers could never be a threat to him. Not anymore.
“Demon…” The man who had introduced himself as Eril the Frozen Edge muttered, and those around them began echoing the same word.
“… A fallacy purported by men who feared what they cannot control. What they cannot fathom. How fitting for one such as yourself to mention that very word.” He calmly replied as he approached the man. Yet inside, anger gripped him as he recalled the twenty-six other times he had been sent back to the void—all because of a baseless superstition that had somehow persisted through the ages. “Unfortunately for you, your deeds end here today.” He threatened and the power around him immediately calmed down.
“Asiran! Envato, belor enfarey fremas…” A roaring flame burst forth from Eril, melting the ice in a wide area around himself and creating a cloud of rising steam.
With lightning reflex, Kaidus drew the xeberite sword at his side and met the man’s transparent blade head on, as Eril burst forth from the mist.
“Foolish.” His body overflowing with mana, he forced Eril back a few steps with an empowered push. With a swing of his sword, he quickly dispersed the mist.
The man sidestepped to his left and lunged at him again, this time attacking with a horizontal slash while muttering an incantation.
He could see the confusion and distress in the man’s eyes, along with a calm confidence. Switching sword hand, Kaidus deftly parried the attack with an upward swing, and using the opening, he stepped inward to strike at the man’s chest with his right fist.
Mana surged forth as Eril finished his incantation, and roots pierced through the ice underneath.
Ignoring the roots binding his legs in place, Kaidus leaned forward with his upper body and slammed a fist into Eril’s side. His fist landed, but the man slashed back at him with the slim transparent sword while being knocked away. Kaidus raised his hand into range of the sword’s tip and felt a burning sensation. A small gash appeared on his forearm and beads of blood began trickling out of the cut.
“Ha… Hahahaha!!” *Cough* *Cough* Eril laughed as he got up off the ground, seeing the blood dripping. “The fool… *haaah…* here is you.” There was a dangerous glint in his eyes. One filled with exhilaration and triumph as he held onto his side.
“You have sorely underestimated me if you think a scratch is all it takes.” With a thought, the roots binding him were incinerated. Kaidus fell into blade form and held his sword to his side.
“And you, me.” Eril grinned, sliding his hand along the side of his sword and muttered a quick incantation.
“Guh-!” Kaidus grimaced as he felt the man’s mana surging through the air and the cut on his arm flared with pain. An elongated shard of ice suddenly materialized from the wound, jutting out of his forearm.
“And now your right hand is useless.” Eril sneered, falling into a stance of his own. “To think that I was frightened for even an instant.”
“I see… an enchanted blade, used by a butcher to perform petty tricks.” Touching one side of the shard, pain coursed through his arm.
“You fail to understand your situation, boy. Despair and regret ever encountering me, for today I become Eril, slayer of Death.” The man mocked.
Kaidus’ lips curved into a smile. “I allowed you to scratch me to confirm my suspicion and you think you have won? Let me show you the true meaning of despair.” He grabbed onto the shard and his arm was struck with pain once again. With a forceful pull, he yanked the shard out. “You-!” Eril stared back at him in surprise.
Kaidus lifted his right arm and the hole closed up almost instantly. His healing ability mended and restored his flesh, rendering the injury nonexistent right before the man. “You were already dead the moment you found me beyond that ring. Do not struggle, for there is no escape.” Third form, Hing.
The boy vanished once more and before Eril could react, a streak of light slammed into his stomach. “GU-!” Knocking the wind out of him and almost forcing him to throw up, he could only grunt pathetically and gasp for air—as the boy drew back the fist.
Even with a body that had been infused with mana, the attack was devastating. With the previous attack to his side that had undoubtedly broken a rib or two, he fell to his knees while holding onto his stomach.
“We’ve only just started. You will pay for everything you’ve done.” The silver haired boy loomed over him like a vicious demon.
“Y-you… it can’t…” A young mage with powerful healing abilities, he knew of only one. Memories of the meetings years ago before Zavon’s disappearance resurfaced in his mind. “T-the boy *Haaah…* from Darsus…” His voice eked out in a low squeal as he drew a deep breath. He never knew what happened to that specific recruitment job, but it was definitely the same person they were trying to obtain.
“…” Two emotionless eyes stared down at him.
“F-five years ago… Zavon… did you-” As a hunch, he mentioned Zavon’s name to ask about the man’s fate.
“I did.” The boy glared back at him with two cold eyes and grabbed his neck, easily lifting him off the ground. “Both of them.”
“!!” His eyes widened at the revelation.
“Gruaah!!” Agonizing pain assaulted him as the boy’s fingers bore into his neck and a fear he knew all too well confounded him.
Hastily scanning the courtyard, he saw that no one else had been encased in ice as he was. Glancing around with limited head movements, his eyes hunted for the one person who might be able to help him. His men and the ten prisoners simply stared back. Kaval, the one he was looking for was nowhere to be found. His previous confidence quickly plummeted into silent fear.
Before him was someone who could stand to rival the old master, and he knew it. What he could not understand, was how the child had attained the powers of a Malizur and such abilities.
Barely clutching his sword, he flailed it outward in an act of desperation, hoping to free himself. “!?!” Yet what returned was only shock. The blood red cloak had jerked forth and caught his sword. With their close proximity, he saw that it was not made of cloth or leather, but was instead a layer of thick red liquid—blood. His hand shuddered, and the sword was ripped from his grasp.
“It is indeed a splendid weapon.” The boy remarked, as if talking to someone. “Ugh!” Eril groaned as the boy dropped him in order to examine the weapon.
Thoughts of escape flooded his mind. Escape so that he may warn the old master and Tal’hrus. Escape so that he may preserve the glory of the organization and live to fight another day.
As the boy took hold of the slim enchanted sword, “Kill him!” Eril commanded his men. He knew that they would never stand a chance, but he needed to make an opening so that he could flee. If he could just get past the gates, his forces on guard outside could help to buy him more time, and there were always the hostages. With a quick incantation, the ground underneath him rushed him away and he dashed for the gates.
“Go ahead.” Two simple words echoed through the courtyard, and the red cloak instantly tore away from the boy. Flying by itself as if alive, it coiled into a sphere in midair before bursting and sending splatters of viscous red liquid everywhere. A whirlwind manifested in the courtyard, and a powerful wind shredded everyone who attempted to cast a spell or unsheathe their weapons.
“Uaaggh!!!” Before he could make it to the gates, more agonizing pain struck him and Eril fell face first onto to the ground. Twisting his body to sit up, he could only scream as he saw that his legs had been sliced off at his knees.
Save for his screams, the courtyard had gone deathly silent. In an effort to look around, he saw that the six mages and dozen men who had been with him just moments ago were in pieces. An abnormal wind swirled around him and through the sound of the breeze, he could almost make out an eerie laughter.
The white demon who had taken the guise of an adolescent stalked toward him, holding two swords—one of them gleamed with a green light, and the other, his very own enchanted frost sword.
“Uhg- Guh-! … W-What are YOU!?” He screamed through the pain, seeing that escape was impossible.
“I am the harbinger of your mortality.” A soft voice swam through the air, entering his ears like a sweet melody.
“Gu-… Asiran! Enfera remas siuhlo tiefrem- Urgh!” With a quick fire spell, he commanded his mana and seared his legs to stop the blood flow. Pushing himself up and sitting awkwardly, “Hah… *cough* I am Eril… the Frozen Edge…! I refuse to die here like this! *Cough!*” Closing his eyes to calm himself, he quickly focused his mind. “Luvas Arctae, Siran! Aevinora, elantir reul nahvoe. Margoss vintumrae…” He began shouting a string of words, holding back the pain so as not to botch the spell. As he chanted, a deep frost fell around him and he could feel himself changing as power he had never felt before surged through his body. “… Thirna, ell fael! Vanusura Lagus!” With the last of the words, the freezing barrier that had formed around him shattered and he unsteadily stood up upon legs of clear and flawless ice.
“Hah… Hah- Hahahaha!” Taking deep breaths to dull the pain, he laughed. Using himself as a conduit, the unimaginable power of Lagus was now coursing through him and he felt invincible. His mind was splitting and he would perish soon for taking too much power, but it was a price he would willingly pay.
Yet just like before, the boy simply watched him with a calm and impassive face as if waiting to see what would happen next.
“GuRah!” Eril screamed as a sharp sensation stabbed his mind and blurred his vision. Striking the side of his head with his own fist, the impact brought back his awareness and without wasting anymore time, he charged the boy.
Commanding the primal mana inside himself, thick layers of ice began forming around his body. Large translucent spikes began erupting from his back and shoulders, surrounding him in an impenetrable armor as his chest thickened and turned into ice. He opened his arms outward and they liquefied briefly before freezing into large transparent claws. He was ice incarnate, and before the last vestige of sanity leaves him, he would kill the demon standing before him.
“Yo… hink…I’d l… ou… off- t… easily?” Fractured words reverberated in his ears and before him, the boy relaxed his posture and brought the two swords forward.
Eril closed in and swiped with his right, aiming to slice the boy in half. The attack went through, but it was his arm that had been sheared off. Pain struck his mind once more, but water gushed forth from where it was severed and the arm transformed into a spear. Not yielding, he swung with his left, aiming to cleave the boy in half as he brought his spear arm around for a follow up attack. He felt some resistance and saw his own slim enchanted sword stabbing into his left arm.
The boy glanced up into his eyes. “Burst.”
With a single word, “Nuaah!!” He howled as his left arm shattered.
“This can’t be!!” He screamed, falling back a couple steps. His mind flashed white for an instant, and he shook off the pain. Commanding the power within himself, he began to construct a new arm.
Before him, the boy threw both swords into the ground and something else manifested in midair: a sword of pure white. Not radiating any light, there was a soft, almost dull glow to it. “You have yet to realize true despair.” The boy grabbed the sword and dashed forward, stabbing him in his chest before he could do anything.
“GUUAAARGGHHH!!!” Eril screamed as both agonizing pain and the splitting headache threatened to tear him asunder. He couldn’t understand what was happening but his claws were reverting back to flesh, and his body was shrinking from its heightened state of transformation back to normal. He felt all the power within him vanishing until all that remained was excruciating pain. He fell to the ground, defenseless, powerless, and unable to move even a finger.
Hiding and watching from the third floor of the barrack, Kaval held her mouth to keep from gasping as cold sweat ran down her back. She had been watching ever since the hateful knight’s group was brought to Eril, and was expecting a swift and fruitless end for the man who had troubled her for so long.
Yet instead of happening as she wanted, Eril was the one lying on the ground like a helpless animal. A young man stood over him and he needed help, but she did not dare to involve herself, lest she succumbed to the same fate.
The boy had suddenly appeared without her noticing, and everything went wrong from there.
Seeing Eril, the only spellblade out of the seven masters and one of their most powerful members being handled so easily, she could not believe it.
The image of the overwhelming frost field, the boy’s disappearing acts, the red cloak that called the tempest, the annihilation of those who moved at Eril’s command, and the boy’s white sword. Everything was like something out of the legends that they—Tal’hrus—aspired for. Legends and stories of mages that overwhelmed lesser men like insects, while controlling the elements and weaving magic as easily as breathing.
Although unable to understand how and what she was seeing, she had always longed for such power. Yet witnessing it firsthand and knowing that such a being was not on their side but against them, it was horrifying.
She carefully peeked out and saw that the boy was dragging Eril’s limp body through the barrack’s gate, out to the city. She saw the bloodied ice field and the corpses upon it. The only survivors were the ten men who had been brought there to die, and like frozen statues, none dared to move—none except for one: the knight who should have perished. With hesitant steps, the man followed Eril and the boy outside as the others wavered briefly before shuffling after.
Not doing the same, Kaval swiftly headed in the opposite direction.
With the xeberite sword in its sheath, Kaidus held onto Eril’s sword in his left hand and dragged the man beside him. Beyond the gates of the fortress-like building, he emerged to the mass of people that he had spotted while flying overhead—all of them were huddling together.
Heavy footsteps sounded from behind him, but he disregarded them.
Eyes filled with confusion were staring in his direction and glancing at the man in his grasp.
“Master Eril?!” Someone exclaimed, and from his left side, something infused with mana was flying straight for his face.
“…” Undaunted, he calmly surveyed the people as Zion caught the arrow in midair.
Beyond the large group that were sitting together and trying to keep warm in his frost field, the others had small fires going and some were even moving around.
A scream pierced through the confused whispers and blood sprayed forth as Zion easily dispatched the mage that had shot the arrow.
“Zion.” Kaidus called, and the wind spirit zipped over to him obediently. He then turned around to look at the people who were following behind. “Are you residents of this city?” He questioned.
“Y-yes.” A man with dirty blonde hair, pale brown eyes, and a sullen face quickly answered.
“Go and bring your people inside. They will not wish to see what is to come.” Kaidus instructed, and upon his words, the man’s face distorted into one of loss and confusion. “Now.” He reiterated, and the group hastily complied.
“No! You fuc-” Someone shouted in disagreement as the prisoners began standing up but before they could finish, they were already encased from head to toe in ice.
With his frost field still in effect, by his will, any and all dissenters were bound in an ice prison. With each new victim, the voices quickly quieted down until all he could hear were the cries of the people as they made their way past him.
He saw a woman clutching onto a small wooden horse, crying painfully as she was led through the gate by two other women. A small girl looked around and asked innocently for her mother as a tearful man carried her inside. Men and woman clutched the motionless bodies of their children in their arms, and the sound of torturous agony began spreading through the hoard of people who had been freed from their silence.
Seeing the gates shutting as the last of the residents move through them, Kaidus looked to those who were left. There was a cold fury in his eyes and he wanted nothing more, than to rip them all to pieces. Lifting Eril up so that the man could see, “Everything that you’ve been doing ends right here, right now.” With a thought, the ground beside him rose up and transformed into a chair. Sitting the incapacitated master down, Kaidus stepped toward the large force of soldiers—not yet allowing his emotions to take over. “Such senseless slaughter… to kill even those who cannot defend themselves…” He looked to the burnt buildings and the bodies in the streets. “For the countless deaths and destruction here today, I hold you all accountable.” Infusing his voice with mana, the words rang throughout the city. “Vishan.” He called for the light spirit.
His arms and legs were useless and not a shred of strength remained within his body. Even the mana that had always been with him ever since his awakening was now absent.
A powerless husk, Eril could only watch as beams of light fell from the sky and engulfed his men. Each pillar incinerated and disintegrated those they touched, and in the blink of an eye, his remaining force of over a hundred and fifty men disappeared from the face of the world.
His eyes were wide open and he was shaking, knowing that he was horribly mistaken in his assumptions. The old master was incapable of such devastation, and he himself had never stood a chance. It was clear to him that the boy could have easily killed him whenever he wished, but chose not to in order to make him despair.
The boy turned to him with a calm and detached face. “Any last words?”
“… You- your name… Please…” He begged through tired breaths. To be slain by someone so overpowering, it was the only thing he required.
“You Are Unworthy.” A disjointed voice replied from above him and he was surrounded by a beam of white light. Intense pain rushed throughout his body.