30 And We Run
(From the point of view of Vonerich Lardizabal and Lars Frigg)
I haven't been paying attention the whole time because the woman who's standing before me had entranced my eyes. I heard her name is Jenna; it seems that she's a princess too. I have never felt like this before. My body was set aflame when I first laid my eyes on her, and by then, I already knew that she's the only woman I would ever beget such feelings for in my life.
"Frigg, we have to move."
Her beautiful, pale skin radiated underneath the dazzling sun hanging above us. If it weren't for the giant tree's shade, I bet I would have been blinded by the absolution I am feeling from her beauty. My goodness! She is to die for! Her beautiful eyes are twinkling ever so beautifully, which could definitely turn my hardened heart melt into a messy blob. However... such beautiful eyes were not directed at me? But to whom? It looked as if she was absolutely fascinated while looking at someone, but that person is not me, unfortunately.
"...Frigg, are you listening?"
Princess Jenna then moved her gaze right at me, which sent millions of tremors throughout my body. Then, when I heard the familiar voice of my prince, I suddenly gasped when my soul finally went back to reality. Afterward, my gaze fell upon the person standing beside me, the man whom the princess was looking ever so dearly with love-struck eyes for the entire time.
"I-I'm sorry, Your Highness, I have been distracted," I said with my eyes closed tightly while bowing before Vonerich slightly.
He then frowned with what seemed like a face filled with disgust at me. The prince then looked at the prince and princess of Valencia with a smile as he said, "Please excuse me for a moment, Your Highnesses." He then yanked my arms forcefully with an anger-filled gaze as she pulled me a few feet away from the royal children of Valencia.
What the fuck is up with this man right now when we just heard the news of the king's death? "What is up with you, Frigg? Don't tell me you're in love with the princess?" I growled in a whisper as I looked up at the dumbstruck Frigg beside me.
"I... I'm sorry, Prince Vonerich." Frigg said in the same polite voice that he would use to his direct superiors.
Gods, is he really in love with the princess? This is unlike anything I've seen from him! I have never seen him look at someone with such tenderness in his eyes. I buried my face on my open palm with a sigh. "Time and place, Frigg! This is not the right time for that! Focus! FOCUS HERE FIRST! The war won't wait for your dick!"
My dear friend, Frigg, was then about to utter something with a downcast when a loud trumpet sound suddenly resounded throughout the air.
The booming sound of what seemed like countless trumpets ringing from all over the empire suddenly reverberated throughout the sky, causing a wave of panic to creep upon the worried faces of the Valencian citizen. Vonerich then yanked my arm forcefully again with eyes wide open as he hurriedly went towards Prince Claudius. The Valencian royal children are talking loudly to what seemed like high-ranking military officials of their empire based on the lavishness of their armors. Prince Claudius calmly spoke, but there's an unmistakable hint of caution in his shaking eyes.
"What is going on, Prince Claudius?" Vonerich said with an alarmed expression as he approached the Valencian prince carefully. He placed his hand on the trembling prince's shoulder while still tightly gripping my arm.
"We received a message that a horse of giants and summoned beasts are all rushing towards Valencia. They'll be here in less than an hour." Prince Claudius said as calmly as he could, but we can all see that he's panicking.
"Brother, I must leave first. I have to check the state of our wall guards and see if we can rally more people to leave the walls and intercept the enemy before they could reach our capital." Princess Jenna said with a bow to her brother and did the same thing to Vonerich wordlessly. She then peeked a look at me for a split second before hurriedly heading towards their royal palace with five important-looking soldiers behind her.
I almost lost my focus again when I suddenly felt Vonerich's hand pulling my arms with a tight grip once more.
I looked at Frigg with a face filled with fury. He is my friend, but I have to punish him severely once we're done with this battle just because of this unusualness that he's showing me. Wordlessly, I eyed him to get his shit together before looking at Prince Claudius again with a bow.
"We also request your permission to attack the enemies head-on while they're still far from Valencia, Prince Claudius," I said with a deep voice. I sincerely do not know if colliding with such a mighty enemy with mere 2000 soldiers would be a good idea, but this is how Varba wage war. No walls, no guards, we will attack them head-on before they could land a hit on us. The Varban people are just not used to that kind of defensive strategy of using walls and the like; we think it's ineffective. The greatest defense is offense, for, after all, they can't kill us if they're already dead! "Please permit my soldiers to leave, Your Highness."
Prince Claudius then gulped his saliva deep before replying to me after a long pause. "Then allow me to support you personally, Prince Vonerich, along with the empire's soldiers."
"I-Is it really okay for the empire's only prince to do something so drastic? I'm not really comfortable with this idea, Prince Claudius." I said while giving a shocked expression towards the now determined-looking prince before me.
"It would be the end of my pride as a man if I let the person who saved me before save me again while I huddle myself here within the walls of the empire." Prince Claudius then pressed his hands on my shoulders as he looked down at me with tearful eyes. "You are a prince, too, but you're willingly going into the battle head-on for the sake of someone else's empire. My father is also battling his own battles in Izrecael, and my sister is doing her best to make sure that Valencia is well-equipped to survive a siege. How can I possibly tell my citizens that I am their next king if I just stood there without doing anything?"
This is a different situation altogether, and I don't really like the idea of putting Valencia's only prince into a reckless battle, but... I just cannot say no to that passionate gaze of his.
"Okay, Prince Claudius, but I want you to stay as far away as you can from the battlefield." I then moved my gaze towards the Crespa, who's wearing pure gold as he stood a few feet away from us. "What's your plan, Sailas?"
Sailas then chuckled as he shook his head with his eyes closed. With a shrug, he replied, "Well, the plan is just to send the message to you just as usual, but the princes of Varba and Valencia are heading to battle." I then saw his tail wag vigorously as a twisted smile crept upon his face. "It would be boorish of me if I fail to witness such a glorious battle."
"Heh. That's my friend right there."
The Prince of the Wizardly Empire of Varba, Vonerich Lardizabal...
The Prince of the Eastern Stronghold Empire of Valencia, Claudius Higgins...
And the Prince of the Sky Kingdom of Vega, Sailas Aviel...
Three princes stood before me, as thousands of Varban and Valencian soldiers hurriedly rushed towards the oncoming onslaught of monsters coming towards us. I stood beside the young soldier Phu and Song Eight as I saw the approaching dust in the horizon accompanied by the loud banging of inhuman stomps on the fertile land of Valencia.
"Frigg, make sure to protect Prince Claudius!" Vonerich said as he flew into the air along with Prince Sailas, leaving only nothing but trails of different colors behind.
"We'll finish this right away, so be good boys, okay?" Prince Sailas said with a wide sneer, revealing the countless fangs hidden in his pale lips. As he chuckled away while looking back at me before lurching himself up into the air, I could see a wave of his usual arrogance plastered on his face before flying into the sky along with Vonerich.
Prince Claudius then chuckled as he unbuttoned his white coat, revealing a long whip hidden around his waist. "I'm sorry, soldier, but I have to force you to fail your prince's orders."
"W-what?" I said as Song Eight and I looked at him with pairs of outstretched eyes.
I was about to grip his shoulders tightly to keep him from moving further, but before I could do so, thick smoke suddenly burst out of his directions as I heard a loud booming voice of what seemed like a powerful missile being launched into the air. When the thick, black smoke finally lifted away, I saw Prince Claudius levitating into the air with fire brewing out of his feet. With a salute directed at me while smiling warmly, the Valencian prince suddenly launched himself forward, following Vonerich and Prince Sailas.
"SHIT!" I shouted with gritting teeth as I suddenly ran as far as I could towards the brewing battlefield. Song Eight and the young soldier Phu then ran with me. However, they wouldn't be able to reach me for too long. Without pausing for breath or uttering incantations, I sent a wave of mana towards my surroundings, calling nature's help once more to aid me in battle. I suddenly felt the rocks around me swiftly moving to my direction, covering my body entirely with solid stone. It made me feel as if I'm some kind of magnet for the rocks because they all just stuck to my skin, forming some sort of rock armor throughout my body. I then observed that the weight of the stones around me is starting to make me run slower while more stones were plastering themselves around me. After a while, with only my eyes and mouth uncovered, I ran as swiftly as I could towards the battlefield, looking like a gigantic golem. With this amount of rocks around me, people would have thought that my speed would decrease, but to their surprise, it just made me run even faster than ever.
That's what mana does to you if you know what you're doing.
I jumped up slightly to lift my feet from the ground and summoned two rocks below me. When I landed on the ground, the two rocks I created through my mana had already caught my descending earthly-body. The two gigantic stones that I summoned then lifted my heavy body forward effortlessly like a makeshift transport device.
When I looked on my right, I saw Song Eight sitting graciously on red gemstones that lifted her onto the air as it moved swiftly along with me. It seems like she's using the same magic as I do... only hers looks a bit more polished and beautiful. Ah, whatever! When I looked on my right, I saw that the young soldier Phu had caught up with us. It was made possible by using his mana to transform the ground below him into ice as he slid on its surface with a pair of rollerblades. I almost asked where he got such fancy attachment to his armor when I realized that those rollerblades were made out of ice. Huh. So he can turn his ice creations into any shape he wants then.
We continued to move forward swiftly as I looked at the three soldiers moving just as rapidly on the air. Our soldiers then finally realized that the three of us were speedily approaching them. Without further ado, the Varban soldiers, who're wearing silver armor with a red cloth around their shoulders, immediately pushed each other around to make way for us. I then lifted my arm up, and when I did so, I suddenly heard loud rummaging noises behind me. When I looked behind me, I saw what seemed like gigantic humanoid rock soldiers, slowly lifting themselves up from the floor like a pair of swimmers emerging into the surface of the sea.
I then heard the sound of something coming towards me like the sound of a steam-engine going on full-throttle, swiftly approaching my side, which made me almost jump up to the thought that someone had fired something towards my back. However, when I looked back, what I saw instead was the muscular figure of Prince Claudius approaching us with a stern expression.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING, PRINCE CLAUDIUS? I TOLD YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM THE BATTLEFIELD!" I screamed with a shocked expression when I saw the Valencian prince swiftly rushing towards me with his hands tightly closed on his sides.
"Forgive me, Prince Vonerich," He said as he suddenly stopped himself from approaching me, revealing a wave of flames spewing out of the soles of his shoes. I almost heaved a sigh of relief, thinking that he might finally return to the back of the battlefield, until he suddenly said, "but I'm just not good with long-range combat."
The tall Valencian prince then looked down onto the oncoming onslaught of summoned monsters coming towards our rushing soldiers. From above, we can see that there's about a few thousand of them, but seeing as how thin they were all are, it almost made me feel like the monsters hastily approaching are not at all a threat to us. However, even if the black hounds and the ghouls all looked unbelievably thin, weak, and small, the Varban soldiers who're coming towards them are all inexperienced young men. Although we received 3,000 soldiers from Valencia, it looked like the summoned monsters that are coming towards us still far outnumbered us. I'm not even talking about the hundreds of gigantic soldiers who're all just standing a few meters away from us. As I looked at the nonchalant way those giants looked at us from afar, I could already see that there's not an ounce of caution or worry in their monstrous faces.
"I'm sorry, Prince Vonerich, really, forgive me," Prince Claudius said with a cocky smirk plastered on his face. "but I really just want to look good in front of you."
I then spoke in a hurry as I tried to stop him from doing something harsh, "What are you..." However, before I could utter a single word, Prince Claudius had already started launching himself downward. "PRINCE CLAUDIUS!"
The Valencian prince then landed on the ground about a few meters away from the hoard of monsters sent to kill us all. He then runs as fast as he could, and at this point, I was already flying downward to save him from whatever he's about to do. I was already near him as I dropped swiftly from above, but I stopped myself after seeing the Valencian prince suddenly leaping towards the summoned beasts. He then promptly pulled the whip that was hanging around his waist with his hands. When the haughty Valencian prince finally landed on the ground, he struck his whip on the floor the same time he descended. After doing so, a triangular-shaped torrent of blue fire spewed out of the tip of his whip, killing everyone who stood before him. The same blue flame then covered his weapon as he continued to strike the monsters around him. After hitting his blazing whip forward, it wrapped around the neck of a black hound, scorching the damn mutt to death. The fire originating from the now charred hound erupted throughout its surroundings, killing every single vile beast in the vicinity and befalling an endless inferno into the ground until the land turned darker than the soils of Nihilheim.
"YOU'RE CRAZY, PRINCE CLAUDIUS!" I shouted at him as I lifted myself on the air by allowing the wind to carry my weight.
The prince then struck his whip in a circular motion around him, sending waves of blue fire all around him. The prince then looked up at me and sent me a quick flying kiss before stomping his feet on the ground. The floor below him then cracked, and pillars of flames came out of it, killing all monsters in a line in front of him.
After seeing this, I merely laughed out loud as I slowly flapped my cape to send waves of a breeze to form before me. While I did so, I suddenly saw a small twister forming on the ground, sucking all the still scorching flame around it. As the movement of my arms intensified, the tornado forming on the ground turned bigger as well while still continuing to gather all of the blue flames around it. After a few seconds, the small twister turned into a massive whirlwind of blue fire, which I then maneuvered around the battlefield to burn all the monsters into dust while spiraling out of control in my whirlwind. Out of nowhere, the clouds above the battlefield suddenly turned dark with nasty looking thunder appearing sparingly below the darkened skies. I then realized that Sailas was raising his wings and pointing it towards the air as he levitated beside me.
"HA!" Sailas swiftly said as he rapidly descended his wings from above down into the ground. When he did so, a massive wave of lightning fell onto my whirlwind. The electricity stayed like that for a few seconds, which made it look like a long pillar of lightning that pierced the skies. When the bolt was lifted, I saw that my ever-growing fire whirlwind was now enveloped with streaks of lightning all around it, electrocuting everything around it like an impenetrable force field.
I then moved my whirlwind using my arms, which made it look like I'm wiping the germs off the floor using what seemed like the wrath of nature. When the tornado finally weakened, I saw that there were only a few hundred monsters left. Silence then took over the battlefield as I looked at the stunned soldiers behind us.
"CHAAAARGE!" I screamed with all my might while pointing at the still nonchalant giants in the distance. The soldiers then all marched forwards towards us as I looked at the Valencian prince standing on the blackened ground below me. He then stretched his hands towards me, as if asking me to give him a warm embrace. Heh. Cheeky brat, but well...
Why not? I then descended slowly towards him with a reddened face as a silly smile crept upon my face.
"VONERICH, LOOK OUT!" Sailas' voice rang behind me as I looked at something coming towards me.
When the prince said those words, we happily complied. All of us mere soldiers simply looked at the princes with awe-filled expressions, not even wanting to take a step forward because that monstrosity they summoned will definitely rip all of us to pieces. In fact, the monsters that the whirlwind touched turned into nothing but dust or a charred skeleton. When I told the people back at home in Varba that I saw a whirlwind of fire and lightning, would they believe me?
I then looked up at the esteemed Prince Vonerich in the sky, but my eyes widened when I saw an arrow swiftly moving towards him.
"NO!" However, I couldn't do anything. The arrow immediately hit the prince. It felt like the world had stopped when I saw the colorful streaks of his mana swiftly descending along his unmoving body.
I then used the rocks on my feet to move towards the prince swiftly when suddenly, I felt something punching through my torso, making me feel my bones break along with the rock covering my body. My fleshly body then flung out of my now destroyed rock armor as I looked back at the thing that struck me. It felt like the entire weight of a giant warship had collided through my weak body, and if it weren't for the thick rock armor around my body, I would probably be dead right now.
I then looked up as I trembled weakly on the floor--I looked up, yes I did, I wanted to see what it is that sent me flying. Then, I saw that it was a gigantic gray-skinned person that looked about twice my size, slowly stepping out of what looked like a black torrent of black mana behind him. I couldn't believe my eyes. When the giant stepped out of the black vortex, which the gigantic creature used to travel from a few meters away towards my direction, I almost felt like I had already seen the person that would ensure my inevitable death. I then tried to crawl as far as I could away from him, but I was too weak, and my body hurts way too fucking much. The giant then raised the gigantic mace on his hand swiftly as he looked down at me with a blank expression. He looked as if he was just killing some kind of cockroach; my death doesn't faze him at all.
"OH NO, YOU DON'T!" The familiar voice of a boy emerged somewhere behind the giant as I saw the colossal creature before me suddenly turning stiff as a rock. Nay, his body is turning into ice, and finally, panic crept upon the giant's face, but it was already too late. The young soldier Phu had already transformed the entirety of the giant's body into ice within a few seconds before the gigantic menace could even react. I then saw the young soldier's figure leaping into the ground as his feet descended into the frozen giant. With just a strike of his armored foot, the frozen giant's head slowly cracked until he inevitably shattered into million icy pieces.
The young soldier Phu then ran towards me. I saw that there's what looked like a large ruby behind the giant's remains while Song Eight was heaving breathlessly with her arms extended forward. It looked like the only reason why the young soldier Phu managed to jump up that high was with the help of Song Eight.
"Let's go, Sir Frigg! The prince needs us!" The young soldier Phu said as he carried me towards where Vonerich had landed.
They got me.
They stuck my shoulders, and they did it really fucking good. If I wasn't moving, they would have hit my head. Shit. What am I doing getting distracted like that in the middle of a battle?
"PRINCE VONERICH!" I heard the booming voice of the Valencian prince coming towards me as my eyesight turned into a blur.
I blinked my eyes, and when I did so, Prince Claudius was already kneeling beside me with tearful eyes.
My eyes then darkened once more, and when my eyesight returned, I saw that there's already what looked like a black vortex forming below the now crying Prince Claudius.
I breathed loudly as my eyelids slowly closed, but I tried my hardest to keep it open. When my vision returned, I saw a gigantic mace filled with nails and other sharp things coming towards Prince Claudius' face.
I then opened my eyes in shock, but I couldn't open my mouth. The mace then swiftly reached the Valencian prince's head. Luckily, the blunt weapon suddenly stopped moving when it reached the prince's face, but a nail managed to dig itself into the prince's eyes before he flew to his side. I then saw that the giant who's towering my weakened figure was already turned into ice before me. Sailas then flew right into the frozen giant and turned the damn thing into broken pieces onto the floor.
"Vonerich!" I heard Frigg's voice coming towards me as I tried my hardest to look at my surroundings.
I then saw countless other vortices appearing on my right side. The giants then stepped out of the black mana vortex, which made me realize that those things are indeed some kind of portals that they somehow managed to invent. Phu Quoc then cast ice on the ground below the vortices to halt the incoming giants from going towards us. He then threw a cold breeze of mana towards the inbound giants. From what I could see, it seemed like they couldn't use the vortex again to flee since it would disappear once the giants stepped out of it.
From a distance, I saw the Valencian prince crawling towards me as three vortices appeared behind me. He was gripping on his left eye while gritting his teeth tightly. On the other side, I also saw two giants trying their hardest to rip Sailas' wings off his body while the poor Crespa prince wailed in agony while whipping his tail around his enemies. While the young soldier Phu was trying his hardest to freeze the five giants in my right, I saw more vortices appearing all around me.
Frigg then pulled me towards his body and wrapped his arms around my weak body. Five other Varban soldiers also surrounded me while pointing their spears at the countless vortices coming towards me. I looked around me and saw the onslaught that I have incurred to my men and the people of Valencia. From afar, I saw a giant crushing one of my young soldiers' back like he's some kind of twig that the gigantic man had just seen on the ground. Screams of horror enveloped the surroundings as I heard loud ringing noises from within my ears. The muffled sound of Frigg's voice echoed into my mind, but I couldn't quite understand what he's saying. The charred battlefield now turned into an endless pool of blood. I even saw two giants pulling one soldier's body like they're playing tug-of-war. Seeing the green cloth placed over the tortured soldier's chest plate with the insignia of Valencia, which is the image of a man hanging on a huge tree, I knew very well that not just the Varban soldier managed to suffer. This is all because of me. From the very beginning in the council room, I have been underestimating the giants, and now it bit me in my ass. We would have even managed to avoid this situation if we just hid behind the walls. Maybe we might have a better chance. Now I have placed the prince of Valencia and Varba in danger. If I am to die today... I really wouldn't mind, but... No... Please, Vilhelm, don't take my soul away yet. This is not my time yet. I have a lot to do! I still have a brother to support in the future! My empire needs me, and I need to stay alive, I... Gods, please!
I then saw Song Eight swiftly running towards me with her hands outstretched.
"PRINCE VONERICH, I WILL ENSURE YOUR SAFETY! SOLDIERS, MAKE SURE TO PROTECT YOUR PRINCE AT ALL COST!" When Song Eight thundered those words, I saw large chunks of rubies appearing on my chest. I also saw the same lump of ruby on the soldiers' chest and Frigg's shoulder. I then looked at Song Eight and saw that there's a vortex slowly forming behind her. However, she was trying her hardest to focus on casting something towards us, making her unable to move on her position a few feet away from us. "THE MONUMENT OF HERALD IS A SAPPHIRE STONE, VONERICH!" Song Eight uttered as I saw a giant slowly leaving the vortex behind her. "...and everything attached to a ruby will be transported with it..."
Suddenly, I felt my body disintegrating into dust along with Frigg and the five Varba soldiers around me.
I don't know why I could still see, although I was already nothing but dust at this point. However, as Song Eight's spell lifted all of our disintegrated bodies into the air, I saw the giant readied itself to thrust his dagger towards her trembling body. Although I said 'dagger,' it looked more like a standard long sword on the human-scale. Song Eight then turned her body around swiftly and cast a protective barrier before her. However, the giant was too swift! Before Song Eight's spell could be cast, the giant already thrust his arm forward, hitting the side of Song Eight's stomach in one fell swoop, making the female sorcerer's blood pour all over the ground. Her agonizing scream echoed throughout my ears, along with the ghastly sounds of other people dying around her. More vortices then started to appear around her as she fell onto the floor. As my disintegrated body flew far away from her, the last thing I saw was her casting a few giant chunks of gemstones in front of the vortices. I then saw the full view of the battle and realized that the damage we have made is minuscule in comparison to the grand scale of the whole battlefield. I wanted to scream while my and the Valencian people fell one after another into the ground because of my reckless stupidity, but I could not even utter a single quiet whisper. My heart shattered into a million pieces as I wanted to run towards them. However, I could only fly as far away from them as I can.
Then the last thing I saw is the view of Valencia from afar, then the Cresca Sea, then the entirety of Varba... but we didn't stop until we reached the far south.