Ulster was standing idly in the field, “so this was the tipping point, where everything went wrong…” All around him were craters, formed years ago by the fireballs which rained down from the heavens upon Sigurd’s unsuspecting army. In the distance Belhalla loomed, casting at sinister shadow over a huge area of land. The castle was larger than any structure on Jugral and the liberation army was about to besiege it. His train of thought was interrupted by his sister brashly getting his attention.
“Are you daydreaming again?” His sister was followed by her lover, and half-cousin, Iucharba.
“I’m just thinking about a possible plan of attack. Threats, environment, possible weakness—”
“You spend too much time thinking Ulster. Let’s just get in there and show them who's boss!”
“Larcei, this isn’t that simple! Simply getting into the castle is going to be rough. There is only one entrance so we are going to get shoved into a meat grinder. Not only that, they have artillery and those deadlords aren’t pushovers according to Leif. The last thing I need is to have my sister charge in like an idiot and get slaughtered!”
“Do you think I’m not strong enough!?”
“Stop it both of you!” Iucharba finally chimed in. “Look Larcei, I’m going to side with Ulster on this. He just concerned for ya’ and I don’t want you dyin’ either. This ‘er be a tough egg to crack, but we are going to win this. ‘Cause I got news to pass down the chain.”
“Huh, I wasn’t told yet,” responded Larcei. The twins turned to face their cousin.
“Seliph said there’s allies on the way, and he’s got someone who can deal with that little punk.”
Ulster paused for a moment to process the information. “You mean… someone who can wield the Book of Naga?”
Larcei turned to Ulster. “Alright, there’s your reason to not worry. Now shut your yap and lets all get ready to move out.” The three nodded in agreement and joined the rest of liberation army to form battle lines.
While Ulster was polishing his silver blade, he was joined by his childhood friends Diarmuid and Lester.
“You taking the front lines again Ulster?” asked Diarmuid as he dismounted his horse. Lester did the same.
“Yeah, don’t have much of an option as an infantryman,” Ulster sighed in response, “besides last time I checked I’m the best suited for a melee grind out of the three of us.”
Diarmuid shot him a response, “Oh yeah? You know it’s been a while since we actually last sparred. Whenever we’re training your instead hanging out with Julia. You better have not fallen behind me over some girl.”
“Says the guy who only spends his free time flirting.”
Lester, as usual, decided to insert himself as the voice of reason, “Well, Ulster does have an couple advantages over us. I have the archery skill of Ulir, you Diarmuid has Hezul’s raw strength, but Ulster has both the precision of Od and endurance of Neir. He also has mastered Od’s signature sword technique. Besides, we all have gotten plenty real combat experience over the last year.”
“Guy still can’t ride a horse though,” Diarmuid grumbled, always bringing up Ulster’s spectacular attempts whenever things went went south between the two. The three were interrupted by Oifey’s call to form up and move out however.
“This is it,” Lester exclaimed while mounting his horse and drawing his bow, “the battle we trained all for. Diarmuid mounted his horse and faced Ulster.
“Those strengths of yours better keep you alive.” Diarmuid gave his horse a kick and galloped off. Despite their rivalry, Ulster new the Agustrian to well. Seliph, Lester, Diarmuid and himself grew up as brothers after all. Besides, it’s not like he had an option to hang out with the young priestess anymore.
It was an odd thought, but the young noble of Dozel wished he couldn’t hang out with Julia because she didn’t want to. She always made attempts for Seliph’s attention, however the imperial prince was always busy with logistics when not at war. So when Ulster offered to accompany her she didn’t complain. He was curious about her, she had no memories and her proficiency for light magic wasn’t to be ignored. The art of magic takes years to adept in, but the sacred magic of the faith was far more advanced. Just as mysteriously she disappeared. No farewells, no sightings, no whereabouts, nothing. Ulster feared the worse for her safely, the correlation between her disappearance and the encroaching climax of the war was unsettling. He shrugged off the facts for the moment, he can’t be distracted in the fight to come.
Balls of hellfire rained from the sky. The same fate which their parents befell seemed to be their as well. Ulster sidestepped just in time to evade the vertical chop of an axe. With lightning fast speed he honed his senses and delivered the five slash barrage of Astra. But despite his small victory, he felted spooked by the how the deadlord fell then disappeared without making a sound. That’s just not—
He was blown off his feet and tumbled across the ground. The meteor which was cast barely missed a direct hit on him. His body ached, but he forced himself off the ground as he checked his body to see if everything was still attached. The healers could mend wounds or adjust parts that weren’t facing the right way, but a missing limb is gone. He didn’t notice anything wrong until he fully stood up, where his right ankle erupted in pain. “Damn.” He couldn’t dodge anything with a sprain. He looked off the ground as he heard the footsteps—the only noise they eerily made— of a deadlord rushing towards him with it’s silvery blade primed. Ulster held his own in front of him, ready to deflect the attack. Before the deadlord slashed, Larcei jumped out into Ulster’s field of view and used her Hero Sword to slide the opposing blade into the ground. Ulster forced himself through the pain and lunged. Larcei gracefully twirled around and the twins struck in unison at the deadlord’s midsection from opposing ends.
“So where the hell are the reinforcements?!” Ulster cried out.
“Shut up and fight!” Larcei barked back. She ran charge to join her allies closest to the castle entrance. Ulster’s perception was too good however, as he noticed the shrieking of a meteor bound to crash into his sister.
“LARCEI!!!” he screamed as he managed to gather the will to sprint and tackle her at the very last moment. His armor did not protect him from the magical heat burning away his under clothes and searing his back. His vision goes dim.
Ulster struggles to keep focus, his vision stagnant between reality and pitchblack as Larcei rolled him to face up on the ground and lean over into his sight. He couldn’t hear either, he could see her desperately trying to call out his name but all he heard were muffled noises. The only thing he could taste was blood. He looked for anything to distract himself from his certain death, and chose to focus on how interesting it was that this was the very first time that he ever seen his twin cry.
Despite being conscious of his current state, he didn’t feel pain. He was just happy that he could be with his sister every second from life to death. The thought was comforting enough that he began feeling his body, nervous system reaching his thoughts as the missing pain erupted… wait a minute…
His torso shot off the ground and he rolled in the dirt, instinctively to try to rub off the pain. He was stilled by the rather surprising embrace of Larcei who buried herself in his shoulder. “Your alright, I have you.” Ulster froze, because he knew that gentle voice. He saw her, his missing friend Julia. In her hand she held the Book of Naga and was as beautiful as a goddess as divine light coming from her engulfed him and erased the burns on his back. She gave him a soft smile before turning towards the entrance to Belhalla.
“I’m sorry. I’m going to confront my brother.” Ulster didn’t respond, but the word brother bounced around in his head for a solid minute. ...Brother? She couldn't possibly mean...? “Please stay safe.” Julia hurried on her way. The meteors also stopped falling from the sky and he looked overhead to see thracian dragon knights swooping around the walls and balconies of the castle, silencing the casters. Ulster didn’t question why they were on their side, just accepted the fact. All enemy resistance seems to have been neutralized and the liberation army made way for Julia as she reached the castle entrance. Ulster concluded the only thing left for him to do right now was to address his sister.
She gripped him tighter. “Scare me like that again and I’ll kill you myself.”
To be continued…