Sora sunk to her butt with relief. “Are you really alright, Jin?”
Lifting her head with a skeptical look, she asked, “What did I tell you last time?” Sora smiled warmly with a nod, but it vanished as Eyia launched between her and Eric.
“What has happened, Sister?”
Remembering what her aunt had said, Sora took a deep breath. “For right now, Eric isn’t our enemy. A lot has happened since the last time you saw Eric. We’re kind of in a bad spot, and he has the answers … I don’t like it, but I think we need him for now.”
A tired sigh escaped Jin’s lips as her head sank back down to the floor. “Is that so? That state is vicious, but it’s far from efficient. Throwing my energy around so carelessly … no, it’ll be a bit before I can even walk again, as sad as that is.” Her eyes narrowed as she looked up at Fen. “What about the Vulpes that follows your aunt?” Vision shifting to look around the area with a lifted brow, she groaned, “What is up with me being out of the loop all the time? Where are we?”
“Some people from the government or some other organization captured us. You’ve been asleep for a few days. I met with my aunt and learned why most dragons, but not all dragons, hate her. I’d like to talk to you about it later. There was … a lot that happened…” Sora answered, feeling Aiden continue to help Wendy and the others with recovering from Jin’s spiritual waves.
“Really, all that,” Jin replied dully. “How much more pathetic can I get?”
“We must leave this place,” Eyia said, helping Jin to rest against a large pillar fragment, but shot a glare in Eric’s direction.
Concern crossed Sora’s features. “I highly doubt I can heal Jin to any efficiently to walk. I don’t even know if my magic will work on her. I’ve healed Jian to the point where his own regenerative abilities will help him recover..”
Jin glared at Jian. “So he has a name. It was foolish of him to provoke me, but I assume it had something to do with that other woman I heard.” Examining the small group they had, she shook her head. “I must have missed quite a bit.” She glanced at Sora’s tails and grinned. “Congratulations on the second tail. I assume it had something to do with meeting your aunt; I’ll have to hear the story when we are clear.”
Eric stepped forward, and every eye leveled to him, Eyia raising her spear. Holding up his hand, he said, “I don’t wish any of you harm. My spiritual network is bare to prove that. I want to help you leave this place, but what I can see of fate is clouded at the moment. I doubt we’ll be able to leave at this moment; there’s something else coming.”
Eyia’s eyes narrowed. “What do you know of fate?”
“Bits and pieces,” Eric replied. “I think,” he cut off as he, Jin, Fen, and Sora caught the sound of metal against ground.
They turned their heads to the wide open metal door as the sounds came closer. Sora closed her eyes and focused on the sounds beyond. Opening her eyes, she said, “Eighteen people are on their way, but they don’t sound rushed. Oh, I didn’t notice it, but the alarm stopped as well.” They all wearily waited.
Sora first caught sight of two people walk through the door, a man and a woman. They were both clad in similar attire, but different colors. They wore plate mail that took on the semblance of dragons. The man’s armor was blue and the female’s red. In both of their hands, they held long twelve foot long lances that seemed to be completely comprised of bone. Strapped to their backs were six foot long spears fashioned from white bone, except for the point which housed a long razor tooth.
Both of their faces were mostly covered by plate helmets that resembled dragon heads with the lips to chin bare. Sora could see the male had blue eyes and black hair, while the woman had brown eyes and blonde hair.
“Dragoons,” Fen hissed.
Jin lifted an eyebrow. “Never heard of them.” Her eyes narrowed as they locked on the spears and lances. “Those are European Dragon bones. They’ve fashioned them into weapons, smart.”
The group’s focus shifted to Diane as she walked into view from behind them. “We need that red-tailed Vulpes, alive and before the President arrives!” A large man holding a machine gun stepped out beside Diane, and fourteen heavily armed men stopped behind them.
Jin grumbled lowly for a moment before saying, “It pains me to say it, but I’m out of juice.” She looked back at the rest of the group. “The Fenris Wolf seems much weaker, Sora’s got some energy but their armor will likely negate most your influence with the dragon’s residual energy, and that bai-hu’s hanging on by a thread.” Sizing up Aiden she sniffed and turned to Eyia, “It’s all up to you, Frosty.”
Eyia didn’t take her eyes off the dragoons, but asked, “Frosty?”
Humming a laugh, Jin said, “A bit of humor I picked up from Green. Thought I’d try out the nickname, but it doesn’t sound right … nope, it’s all up to you, Eyia.” Eyia nodded without hesitation and set her spear at the ready.
The dragoons eyed the group for a moment before the male said, “Leave, you’ll only be in the way.” All of the men and Diane looked at them questioningly but moved back into the hall as the female turned to glare at them.
Sora watched the steel door shut with bated breath. Eyia already battled Jin, and she even said she needed to conserve her strength for offense. Attacking is so much easier than defending … can we make it out of this or should I try and reason with them?
She swallowed as the two dragoons began walking forward. Eyia advanced to the center of the room and held her ground in a defensive position; spear pointed at the red armored dragoon. A moment later, her blade shifted to the blue armored dragoon as they stopped a good thirty feet from her. They stood stationary for less than a second before the blue armored dragoon took one step forward and bent his knees, elbow slowly pulling back on his spear in preparations for a thrust.
Sora calmed her spiritual network and focused. She watched in disbelief as the dragoon darted forward. She knew she was no match for his speed; if Eyia couldn’t stop them, then it would be over for them. Her body felt sluggish as her spiritual perception followed the fight.
The sound of bone striking metal rang throughout the room as blue dragoon stuck two meters from Eyia. Gungnir’s elegant movements deflecting the stab with apparent ease; frost appeared along the shaft where her spear passed as the blade slid down the lance’s length. Before her spear reached three feet from the blue dragoon, he bent his legs and jumped. The motion was so quick that Sora could barely follow his climb.
Eyia leaped back as he pushed off the ceiling, darting toward Eyia. His lance bit into the floor, sliding down to its grip. The lance missed Eyia’s breastplate by inches. Spinning in a circle as she landed, Gungnir twisted in an arch to redirect the red dragoon’s lance as she launched from her stationary position. They’re double teaming her; covering their openings.
Sora couldn’t even open her mouth to warn Eyia that the blue dragoon had already taken his spear off his back and was about to stab her. His blade reached an inch from her armor before Eyia dispersed in a cloud of vapor. The mist moved swiftly over the blue armored dragoon, causing ice to creep across his armor.
Even as she appeared three feet behind the man, he was flipping his spear to meet her, ice chipping away from his armor. Gungnir met the dragon toothed blade with a ring of noise, and sidestepped as the woman’s lance shot between the red dragoon’s side and elbow; the shaft sliding across Eyia’s armored stomach, but Eyia’s cold eyes never left the man.
She flipped the spear in a circle, using her shaft to shove the red dragoon’s lance into her companion’s body, throwing them both off balance. Smoothly using the momentum to bring around Gungnir’s glowing edge, she struck at the man’s throat, but it missed as he leaped sideward. Off balance, he didn’t reach near his full speed, and the line of white energy slid through his foot.
The red dragoon regained balance, crouched and jumped, feet landing on the domed ceiling. Eyia didn’t waste a movement as Gungnir rotated point down as her opponent shot down. Her lance point met Gungnir’s shaft butt. The force bent the pole slightly, but only made Eyia’s spear drop half an inch.
Twisting a hand around to grasp the shaft, Eyia flipped her spear around, leaving the red dragoon hanging in midair; however, she didn’t strike the dragoon. Instead, she twirled it around in the air, causing a sharp gust of cold wind to erupt around her, ice crystals glistened off the remaining lights.
Sora closed her eyes as the ferocious current bit at her and pelting ice washed over her, whipping her hair back, Wendy and the rest of the humans already taking shelter behind Jian’s body. She shielded her eyes as the flurry continued, sending chills across her body. She realized there was some kind of energy laced within the elements.
Regaining a clear image, she found the area around Eyia had frozen into a jagged wall of ice, branching out toward the walls. The red dragoon seemed to have used her lance as a stepping stool to jump away from Eyia’s attack and now had her spear out.
The sound of cracking ice echoed around the area as the blue dragoon retracted his spear from the wall. That was when Sora noticed he already recovered and had launched another attack at Eyia. She doesn’t miss a move. How can Eyia know everything that’s happening around her? Even with my enhanced senses, I’m having trouble.
Eyia slammed the butt of Gungnir against the red dragoon’s lance. Ice splintered down its length, and it broke apart. She took a deep breath, vision shifting to the red dragoon; she vanished in a flurry of black raven feathers. Sora’s eyes searched and followed the ping of bone striking metal; Eyia was on the attack.
She danced around jabs and slashes from the blue dragoon, but quickly parried right; her left hand left her spear as Svalinn appeared and she threw it toward Jin. The crystal clear ice wall shattered as the red dragoon burst through it, chipping away ice from her armor as she darted toward Jin; her spear struck Svalinn as the dome reappeared around them, the shield suspended before Jin.
Jin was grinning. “Cheeky, but you won’t catch Eyia off guard that easily.”
The red dragoon’s mouth twisted past the tinted ice into a frown as she launched back toward Eyia, giving her partner time to recover from the ice that was gathering around him. She followed Eyia’s movements in conjunction with her partner and their dual fighting style forced Eyia defensive again.
Her breath caught as she started studying Eyia more than the dragoon’s movements; there wasn’t a single scratch on her. Vision returned to the dragoons as Eyia ducked under a stab attempt by the blue dragoon. Sora watched in wonder as she kept her balance and guard, while also managing to launch a counter-attack at the red dragoon’s left leg, aiming in-between the armor grooves as she fainted the blue dragoon.
The red dragoon shifted her foot at the last second to make the blade slide against her guard but was thrown six feet back as Eyia used her positioning to shove her. She was unable to pursue as she redirected a lunge by the blue dragoon, his leg only showing fragments of the ice that had been there.
Sora’s anxiety was rising at a rapid pace; she could sense the amount of focus Eyia had to frequently redirect just to stave off both their attacks. Is she losing ground? I can’t tell!
The battle picked up rapidly for split moments as the three blurred through stances and Jin hummed lowly. “They’re good, these dragoons. Nowhere near Eyia’s level, but that’s to be expected. They compliment each other well. Eyia’s chances at landing a death blow with Gungnir should be about twenty minutes away. That’s probably more energy than she wants to use though, though she’s already realized that.” Her voice sounded disapproving. “It’s principle that’s holding her back.”
Sora suddenly saw a shift in Eyia’s movements and features; her expression went from cold to ice. “There it is,” Jin said with a dark chuckle. Sora’s eyes widened as she felt light in her area shift and Eyia vanished, a blood-chilling sensation washed over Sora’s senses.
Both dragoon’s hesitated only for a flash and vanished as they jumped away at full speed. However, as they smashed into the walls, digging their feet into the fractured concrete, Sora noticed ice shooting out of the blue dragoon’s body from the inside out. It rapidly overtook him until he was completely frozen.
Sora’s lungs stopped as she felt strange energy pulsate in front of the blue dragoon, and a thirty-foot sphere appeared around him. Everything within its domain had a colorless tint and stopped as if fixed in time, the concrete fragments, sound, and even light; Sora knew she saw it with her spiritual perception.
Eyia appeared out of thin air before the red dragoon. Attached to her back was a cloak of raven feathers and in her left hand was a long black sword, it looked evil by design. The sword’s slightly curved wicked blade emitted a dark mist that emanated death. With a downsloping crescent guard, ink black leather grip, and three-pronged hilt, the sword put off a menacing, bloodthirsty presence.
Sora’s sharp ears picked up the red dragoon mutter, “No…” A moment later, she appeared in the sphere’s edge, fixed like everything else.
Time stretched as she drew back her ravenous blade and thrust it forward into the man’s heart. In horror, she witnessed and felt the man’s body completely turn into glowing white spiritual energy. It began to compress and flow into Eyia’s necklace, leaving his clothing, armor, and weapon behind. Where her sword now hung only the man’s attire occupied. What she felt left her numb.
Eyia slowly pulled back the sword, revealing no pierce in the armor’s breast. Her head turned to view the red dragoon, still completely suspended in space. Sora shivered as she caught Eyia’s vision. It wasn’t the eyes she knew, kind, curious, and fervent. These were hollow vessels, devoid of thought or emotion. Instantly, she was gone, and in front of the woman, Sora somehow knew she was staring at the very threads of fate.
Jin’s voice sounded distant but mildly interested. “The state known as Maiden’s Call, solely invoked by the Valkyrie. If a Valkyrie takes you, you’re bound to serve either Odin or Freyja. Of course, since Odin is dead, the only master is Freyja. However,” Jin said with dark fascination, “that sword is something else entirely. Would you know, Wolfboy?” Still unable to take her eyes off Eyia, Sora listened.
“Yes—she has an arsenal of legendary Nordic weaponry,” Eric stated wearily. “She’s holding Dáinsleif, also known as Dáinn’s legacy or King Högni’s sword. At this point, I’m beginning to draw up my own speculations on it, but I’ve heard you can’t draw it without a complete resolution to kill. It also cannot be withdrawn unless it’s taken a life, but in effect, it can never fail in a stroke or so the legend goes.”
“Hmm,” Jin mused.
Sora didn’t know what to think as she replayed what she’d felt moments before; his spiritual network was compressed into a tight ball of spiritual mass, then was absorbed by Eyia’s necklace. That didn’t feel like something moving, more like he was being converted.
Lips dry, Sora asked, “What about her necklace?”
Jin hummed, “I have no idea. She’s had it since…” she cut off as the sphere broke and physics returned.
Eyia dropped to the ground, nimbly landing on the floor. The red dragoon instantly leaped back to the edge of the arena as she landed. Her spear was held at the ready, and she had to work around her mouth a few times to speak. “What—what did you do to him?”
Eyes back to normal, Eyia stared down disdainfully at the black sword. Her vision lifted to watch the red dragoon shake in place; they displayed sympathy. “It was fated, as is your death tonight, but it is not to be taken by my hand.”
Jin’s face broke into shock, and her head snapped up, jaw locking for a moment before yelling, “Daēva!”
The room’s lights flickered and died; Sora’s vision instantly compensated. A new pressure entered the area, and like the sword, it felt evil. Every eye shot to the ceiling as three mistborn shadows shot out of the solid structure straight for Eyia, half of the shapeless masses forming hazy human-like figures with large extending black wings and cloudy dual sickles forming in their blurred hands.