Aetheria – Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Auslösen

“What… What is that…?” Setsura’s eyes dilated and tried to digest her vision.

What stood before her was a small army of merman-like creatures swimming through the Dandciel Daf’s arched sea tunnels and heading towards the port. Every single one of them was armed with a trident sized as big as their body height.

Far from the captivating looks of the infamous merman, these creatures have green seaweed-like hair and light blue scaled skin. As they ventured up to the port, the creatures crawled by struggling to move with their trident as a support cane.

Little by little, as though their bodies were adapting to the new environment, the creatures’ fish tail began to corrode into melted substances and metamorphosed into two webbed feet.

“Seahag, an extinct amphibian race distantly related to the merfolk,” Lucianus remained calm, cool and collected during his explanation, deeply contrasting himself with the other people’s reaction.

“I wonder what woke them from their thousand year of slumber,” he scorned as his eyes scanned each seahag for clues.

In order to prevent further invasion to the city, the guards attempted to fight back with their spears and swords while some volunteered individuals commenced their attack through magic spells or special skills.

Taking advantage of the rain and the aquatic nature of seahag, one of the mage went all out on casting lightning bolts and brutally landed them on the seahags – A smart move, but not that smart.

The mage’s confidence was immediately reduced into fear when the seahags held their trident high to absorb the lightning bolts and reflected back twice as much to the caster. Followed by a long painful cry, the mage fell upon the ground with a burned body through electrocution. He died.

The whole sight was so horrifying that it made those lily-livered guards lose grip of their weapons and tried to flee for their lives.

“Attack, don’t give in to those monsters!” The commander shouted in attempt to heighten his fellow comrades but it was futile. It did not take long for the situation to become out of control as mages were too scared to cast any other spells, leaving only physical attacking warriors to defend against the seahag.

“Luci!” Setsura hid behind Lucianus and trembled like a leaf as she clutched the sheathed katana around her chest.

“Don’t worry, just follow Zakura’s movement,” Lucianus gave Setsura a gentle smile of encouragement and snapped his fingers.

Three approaching seahags were instantly devoured by a huge blaze and burned to death. The stunt was absolutely remarkable, considering the combustion of a fire elemental spell to remain this powerful in the downpour.

Like a brink of hope, the mages who witnessed Lucianus’s action slowly calmed themselves and started to cast their fire spells against the seahags.

There were also some who were more venturous did their experiments by throwing weak spells of certain elements for resistance check before stacking it with a more powerful spell.

With the mages regained their confidence, the whole area had finally turned into a real battlefield. Bolts of various colours could be seen while the clashing sounds of the weapon filled the port. Setsura looked around and took a deep breath with her eyes closed.

“I can do it,” she murmured and unsheathed the katana.

“Let’s go, Zakura,” Setsura put up a confident smile and rushed to the battleground.

As though she was blessed by the wind, Setsura gracefully leapt through each seahag with agility while every spring was followed by a deadly blow to the enemy.

Undisrupted by the rain, her movements were clean and fast, barely able to be caught by the naked eye. One by one like the falling cherry blossom, the seahag fell into its demise but Setsura had no intention of stopping.

“Don’t force your gesture, relax your muscle and follow Zakura’s lead,” Lucianus’s advice from her previous rigorous training was still vividly animated in Setsura’s memory.

Sway, like a cherry blossom which hears order of none; dance, as if your life is at the mercy of others. Zakura’s couplet continued to sing through Setsura’s ears as she continued to swing the katana through Zakura’s wills.

Setsura’s concentration was so intense that she had forgotten to take notice of her surroundings, including the incoming ice bolt that was heading towards the same target she was leaping to.

“Watch out!” The ice caster screamed her lungs out in attempt to warn Setsura but it was too late, the bolt of ice pierced through Setsura’s head and hit the seahag.

Before the ice mage could scream on her incompetence, she noticed Setsura’s figure slowly began to disperse into hundreds of cherry blossom petals and disappeared into thin air.

Confused on the situation, the ice mage desperately looked around and saw a familiar figure that was standing still around fifteen metres away from the impact area. After confirming the figure’s identity, the ice mage sighed in relieve.

Despite remaining her attacking stance on holding the katana with both of her hands, Setsura continued to pant heavily due to exhaustion and shock from the previous stunt.

After recovering her breathing pace, Setsura prepared for another dash but it was stopped by a sudden hug from the back.

“That’s enough Setsura, you’ve done well,” Lucianus tightened his hug and pecked Setsura’s head from behind.

“I’ll handle the rest,” with thin but intense red aura emerged from Lucianus and engulfed the couple, Lucianus held his right hand up to shoulder height and oscillated it like a music conductor.

Within seconds, every single seahag at the port was ignited in merciless flame and burned to death.

The bystanders stood rooted to the ground with their jaws dropped, unable to believe their eyes on the massacre done by one person in such a short time.  The mages were left speechless for a long period as they understood that feat was practically impossible to be done by a normal human being.

However, the silence did not last long when bubbles began to hiss out from the sea and its pressure pushed the ships to knock on the wharf.

“Lucianus oh Lucianus, of all people, why must it be you to send us away again?” A low pitched voice echoed and a three-storey high seahag arose from the sea with a crown at the side of its head.

“The dead should remain dead,” Lucianus replied monotonously with his head held high to look at the oversized seahag king.

However, his words did not seem to get into the seahag king and it was replied by a condescending sneer.

“It is all Aria’s will, Lucianus. This piece of land was originally our homeland… until you burn every single trace of it to the ground with that merciless flame of yours, including us,” the seahag king’s voice deepened as if to mourn for its people.

It shifted its glance to the current glorious Dandciel Daf, reminisced the past. The sudden gesture of the seahag king puzzled the people in the port and they looked at each other, lowering their weapons.

“Stop your nonsensical jumble of words. Aria is gone, so are you. You’re nothing but a wandering soul at this moment,” Lucianus clutched his fist and his voice was trembled with anger.

“Luci…” Setsura looked back and put her hands on Lucianus’s arm, surprised at him losing his composure. Setsura’s behaviour may not be significant to others but it definitely caught the seahag king’s eye.

“I see what you did there,” the seahag king commented as it observed Setsura who was tightly clasped in Lucianus arm.

“How miserable are you, Lucianus, to cling on a human who…” Before the seahag king could manage to finish its sentence, the sea surface that it was floating on was suddenly ignited with fire.

“Ill-tempered as usual I guess…” The seahag king remained calm, as though he expected it.

“You may be right on having the dead to remain dead; this place was no longer the home I once knew. Lucianus, if you will answer my last question, did guilt ever struck you on erasing us?” It looked eagerly at Lucianus for an answer.

“No,” Lucianus replied without hesitation and his eyes were firm, not even blinked once.

“I see… Farewell then, my friend,” the seahag king closed his eyes, accepting the harsh reply.

The towering conflagration engulfed the seahag king entirely and slowly, it fell into its eternal slumber once again. Following the seahag king’s disappearance, the rain gradually stopped, returning the sky to its formal glory.

“Let’s go, we’re leaving here,” Lucianus grabbed Setsura’s hand and pulled her away forcefully, walking towards the inn direction. His actions were unusually rough and persistent.

“Wait… Luci, you’re hurting me. Luci!” Setsura cried as she struggled to walk in Lucianus’s pace.

She forcibly pulled her hands away from Lucianus’s grasp and sudden loss of momentum made Setsura fell on the ground, bruising her knee and palm.

“Lucianus! What are you doing?! You nearly broke her,” Zakura transformed into her human form and yelled.

The shout finally shook Lucianus back to his sense and he was surprised on his previous behaviour.

“Sorry,” he spoke in a remorseful tone and kneeled down immediately to move his palm close to Setsura wounds, casting a light green healing glow.

“I’m fine…” Worried, Setsura stared at Lucianus.

“Luci, are you okay..? What exactly is Aria? And your relationship with that seahag…” Her voice gradually reduced when she realised her rudeness on asking those questions.

Instead of receiving a mouthful from Lucianus on her nosiness, she was tightly hugged by Lucianus out of the blue with his tears began to trickle down his cheek as he bit his lips into a silent cry.

Setsura was utterly surprised by Lucianus’s sudden gesture and was left stoned for a while.

“It’s okay Luci… I’m here,” with her five petite fingers, Setsura wiped Lucianus’s tears and put his head over her shoulders.

“There, there,” Setsura patted Lucianus’s head.

Upon releasing his emotions and getting hold of himself, Lucianus finally answered Setsura’s doubt.

Aria was actually the mother of all living things, existed since the creation of this world. As benevolent as Aria would be, she nurtured all the primordial forms of life including the seahags and him. During the halcyon days, life was absolutely beautiful and filled with harmony in Aria’s unrequited care.

Unfortunately, the tranquillity which was believed to be sempiternal did not last with the mushrooming population of the multiple life forms. Eventually, Aria lost control of her powers and sanity.

During her final moments on completely losing her rationales, she sealed herself through crystallisation with Lucianus help.

Despite the process being an ultimate success, Aria’s power continued to grow and it was too powerful to be handled by the crystal alone. Reached its limit, the crystal finally shattered into countless pieces, scattered here, there and everywhere, of which it turned out to be the origin source of Aether.

This ancient incident was not known to many contemporary races; even humans, who experienced the whole course of time, had long forgotten this piece of knowledge. The ultimate sacrifice of Aria driven from the love for her mortals may have exchanged peace to the world but it did not last long either.

The seahags, who adored Aria for her equally shared love towards them despite their hideous looks, attempted the revival of Aria for their self-centred intentions.

Their impulsive obsession was eventually heard through the grapevine by Lucianus and it provoked his wrath – resulting in the annihilation of the seahags on having its entire civilisation wiped out from existence.

To continue to live on with a strong heart even without her guidance and never look back; those were Aria’s last words, deeply carved within Lucianus heart.

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