Discussion ran loud and rampart inside a large, rectangular hall adorned with glittering, hanging chandeliers, and blasting rays of light pushing through the glass windows. Tables and chairs were filled to brim with food and drinks, and people shouted over one another in vain attempts to be heard. It wasn’t long before the very same tables and chairs, and food and drinks on top of them, were seen flying through the air like arrows, aimed either randomly or at someone specifically.
With the foreboding notion of the Great War growing ever so apparent, tensions were high among people – even those standing at the very top. This gathering was supposed to relieve some of that tension, yet, despite the best attempts of the bards and exotic dancers awkwardly sitting in silence around the tables, it had quickly spiraled into a mass hysteria of sorts. Some of the most important figures of the Clans currently present at the gathering were missing from it, and even the Clans themselves, as they jointly disappeared about two weeks ago. This led to strange discord among ranks – and Clans themselves – as the unified battle plan is yet to be formed.
On one of the tables, seemingly isolated from the whole ongoing mess, Y’se sat leaned back, on her sides a man and a woman, seeming as bored as Y’se herself was. The man appeared rather stout and tall, with strong jawline and wicked, narrow eyes. His name was Oy’oh, and he was part of the same generation as Y’se, being only a dozen or so years older than her.
The woman mirrored Y’se in subtle beauty, but unlike Y’se’s long, silver hair, the woman herself wore hers short and golden, yet it managed to perfectly encapsulate her features and enhance them. Her name was Ly’el, and, much like Oy’oh, she was slightly older than Y’se. The trio were sent here as representatives of Iylox Clan, yet, for the most part of the gathering, they remained silent and reserved.
Growing tired of the charade at last, Y’se grunted lowly and sighed before getting up and walking through the droves of food hanging on the floor, reaching the far end of the ensemble of tables, and gaining the high ground by climbing atop of it. She didn’t say a word and merely waited, as more and more eyes shifted their gazes away from each other and onto her. Something about her was beyond captivating, and her mere presence caused silence to slowly begin to emerge. It didn’t hurt that she was a part of one of the most respected Clans present at the gathering, nor that she was among the few Divine Mages here.
“… thank you,” Y’se said in a low tone, yet it carried through and reach everyone present. “I understand that beyond the surface frustration, what most of us here feel is fear, dread and confusion.” she continued calmly. “I feel much the same. However, bickering, shouting and blaming others won’t lead us anywhere. The main issue is, from what I’ve understood from your bickering, is that nobody wants to take the vanguard, no?” silent nods and confirmations echoed out throughout the hall for a few moments before it all returned to silence. “If that’s the problem, we’ll take it. Angars can take the flank because most of your top-tier Mages are mobility-oriented, Royews can take rear because you’re basically an army of canons that can’t do anything else, Teygars can take engage in long-term guerrilla warfare while the rest of your lot can divide yourselves appropriately, I imagine.”
“I understand that most of your strongest have suddenly gone missing, and you’re wondering why,” she continued as the chatter following her distribution died down. “And while I can’t give you answers, I can tell you that we alone are enough. It will be a war for our homes, our beloved, our children, and all those who were never as lucky as we were to get to where we are. And it’s a war that we must win,” while her words seemed convincing, Y’se couldn’t help but sigh inwardly; although she knew very little regarding Lynne and others, she knew very well that it was their war alone which truly counted for something. “So, instead of fighting among ourselves, why not try forging friendships that will carry not only through the war itself, but even further beyond?”
As she stepped down, her walk back to her table was accompanied by a thunderous applause, yet she still appeared completely unfazed, as though there was only silence. As she sat down, the applaud ended and the chatter resumed, as people began discussing the course they’d take among themselves.
“Quite a speech.” Oy’oh said, grinning. “Where’d you come up with that one?”
“I hijacked your brain and wrung it out of there.” Y’se replied, grinning back.
“… do you really not know anything about the Retch, Patriarch and others?” Ly’el asked in a mellow tone.
“I already told you I don’t,” Y’se replied, slightly frustrated. “The answer won’t change because you keep asking me.”
“Sorry.” Ly’el said, smiling apologetically.
“… ugh, no, I’m sorry.” Y’se said, smiling back. “It’s just been… a few hard days.”
“Are you sure you want to participate in this war, though?” Oy’oh asked, his previous grin replaced with a grim expression. “What if you run into him?”
“I can handle him.” Y’se replied calmly.
“… are you sure?” Oy’oh pressed. “You’ve discarded and abandoned your entire Clan once for him, disappearing for nearly a hundred years. Those wounds don’t just disappear, Y’se.”
“I’m fine, Oy’oh,” Y’se said, smiling lightly. “Besides, the chances of running into him are so spectacularly low, they aren’t even worth mentioning. I’m nowhere near strong enough to get entangled with fights on that level.”
“Oh, right, speaking of strong!” Ly’el exclaimed softly. “Where is that boy that you discovered in the Mortal Realm? Uh, what’s his name? Lynne? Right, Lynne! Where is Lynne?”
“He disappeared,” Y’se said plainly, yet a fraction of sadness escaped her tone. “Alongside others.”
“… it’s odd,” Oy’oh said, sighing lightly. “All of the strongest people from our side suddenly disappearing without trace? What the hell is happening? Aren’t you at least a little bit curious?”
“Of course I’m curious,” Y’se said. “But, at the same time, I trust whatever it is they’re doing. If they disappeared just before the Great War started, there must be a good reason for it. Something we simply can’t understand. Besides, we have a war to fight. No point in getting distracted by things we clearly were never meant to understand.”
“You’re right,” Oy’oh said, stretching out freely. “When they return, we can just ask them. Until then, we have some godly ass to kick.”
“… why’d you sign us up for the vanguard?” Ly’el asked. “We’re perhaps the worst choice for the job. Only this braindead brother of mine and few others can actually properly handle the job.”
“Because nobody else wants to do it,” Y’se said. “And we’re as well equipped as any of them, if I’m honest. Besides, it’s war, not a battle. We’ll assume the vanguard position only at the start, and to where things spiral afterwards… it’s anyone’s guess.”
“Well, there’s nothing for us to do here anymore,” Oy’oh said. “Should we leave?”
“Yeah,” Y’se said as she got up, followed immediately by the other two. “At least our scouting groups are cooperating better. I don’t expect this calm to last much longer. Oy’oh, go inform our Clan to be on alert all the time, and have everything readied.”
“As you wish.” Oy’oh said, bowing slightly; despite the fact that Y’se was younger than both of them, she was the only Divine Magus among her generation, elevating her far beyond the grasp and restriction of age. With a slightly blinding light, Oy’oh flashed in front of Y’se and Ly’el, disappearing into the distance.
“… things seem awfully serene across the realms considering the impending war,” Ly’el said, chuckling lightly. “It’s almost as no one outside the main circle even believes it to be real.”
“They will, eventually,” Y’se said as the two left the hall and entered a massive rose garden shaped like a maze. However, instead of walking through it, the two took to the sky and moved toward the special tear which led back to their home realm. “Until then, they may as well live in the delusion if it helps them.”
“So… what really happened with Lynne?” Ly’el asked, changing the subject.
“Hm? I already told you.”
“Yeah, yeah, he disappeared, I get it,” Ly’el said. “But he must have said goodbye, right? Didn’t he say anything?”
“… not really,” Y’se said, recalling the last day she saw Lynne, and the surrounding cataclysm he created. “It wasn’t much of a goodbye either. Just… something…”
“You miss him?” Ly’el probed.
“Not yet,” Y’se said, chuckling faintly. “But I will, eventually.”
“… you say it as though he’ll never come back,” Ly’el said, her brows furrowing lightly. “What’s going on Y’se? You know more than you’re telling us.”
“… I don’t, Ly’el,” Y’se said. “All I have, much like you, are just guesses and assumptions. If nothing else, though, at least I know Lynne… isn’t planning his return. Why… that, I don’t.”
No more questions were asked and no more answers were given as the two flew through the sky in silence, accompanied only by the fading sounds of wind. While the clear division lay across not only realms, but even Clans, as to when and how or even whether the war would start, those few that knew all these answers with certainty awaited it in silence and tranquility. It was a war, the place born for Mages to shine at their brightest. And death just another aspect of it all were willing to accept, seeing as there never was another choice.