Disclaimers: See part 1
Fortunatus Light of Dark
by AJ Marks
Tess paced back and forth on the transport in the small area, as a few people watched her. Gallic seemed to be looking more at Lisa, and the few women guards, than anything else. She had the feeling that if Lisa suddenly stripped he would be trying to take a picture or something of her. Lisa, for her part, had ignored the Segic quite well, at least better than Tess would have.
“Are you going to sit down?” Lisa finally said, as Tess paced in another circle.
“No,” Tess finally replied, looking out the window once more seeing, finally, the looming buildings of the 2nd army HQ. She sat down for the landing ignoring the looks she got from both Lisa and Gallic this time.
Once on the ground, she quickly exited the craft heading towards the main offices looking around in case Becca had been outside. She found her general staring at a map and looking up a bit surprised when Tess walked in.
“Empress, you’re early,” Becca said. The look on her face indicated that she was both relieved and trouble about something.
“What’s the situation now?” Tess asked, hoping what worried Becca was not too bad.
“Gregory’s group, or at least we think it’s him, retreated after doing several calculated attacks. They targeted several people, some they kidnapped others they killed,” Becca said, leaving Tess to wonder if Ami somehow used her as Becca continued. “It really makes no sense, and we can’t get in touch with Carrie anymore.”
Tess felt a bit concerned about that. Her highest level battlemage, gone missing. “Well, she can take care of herself,” Tess said to them both, she still had things to worry about, like what Gregory planned next.
“I know, but she has no backup,” Becca replied, concern in her voice. “Add in the fact that I haven’t heard from her since last night when everything went calmed down. I don’t like this.”
Tess had to agree. “Any information that we can actually use to hunt down these people,” Tess replied.
“Sorry, but we don’t’ have anything,” Becca said.
“Do you have any ideas, or still have nothing?” Tess said, looking right at Gallic who merely looked uninterested at everything. “Great, we have a madman out there who wants to resurrect an evil ancient magic sucking creature and no idea where to even begin to look.”
“General, general,” a young scout said, running into the room straight towards Becca. Tess turned to the young man waiting to see what might happen next. Becca read the note before turning towards Tess handing her the note.
“I think we might have something here,” Becca said.
Tess took the note, quickly reading it, seeing that it came from a scout noting that they had a general direction Gregory’s army had started to move. Tess took a moment to look at the direction, then the map, seeing where it was headed. She felt relieved that the army was not headed towards the capital but there were a few heavily populated cities in the direction. If anything happened, civilian causalities could escalate rather quickly.
“What do you think?” Becca said.
“We have no idea exactly what their target it, but we can’t wait for them to finish their move,” Tess said.
“You should move now, waiting any longer and things might become irreversible,” Gallic said.
Tess looked at Gallic, then Becca, before finally making up her mind. “We move now, if we wait we could lose an opportunity to capture, or stop, Gregory one and for all,” Tess said.
“I’ll inform the troops and we’ll start moving right away,” Becca said exiting the room. Tess looked over at Gallic, who said nothing only nodding his head. Tess could only hope she made the right decision. Her army would be fighting someone soon she only hoped she had enough information to provide who she fought.
She also hoped to find Ami, and figure out once and for all which side the small blonde was on. Tess had allowed herself to feel for the blonde, and desperately hoped she had not been betrayed. She pulled out a small bracelet and put it on. It would tell her if Ami was nearby, provided the collar was still on. At the moment it showed nothing and Tess figured either the bracelet had been destroyed, too far away, or there was some sort of magical interference.
Tess found herself wishing it was the latter, and that Ami had gone against her will. Tess made a mental note to keep the bracelet on in case she got close enough or the protection surrounding Ami disappeared.
Ami watched, unsure about what to do. Everyone seemed to quickly gather up supplies and other objects. She recognized some of it from her history classes as crude guns. They had made a small arsenal of weapons from their world, to fight in this one. Ami figured the weapons to be somewhat successful if they were going to use them, but had no idea what the difference between these and magic would be.
“You ever fire one f these?” Mary asked, holding up the crude weapon.
“No, not sure I want to either,” Ami finally replied.
“Don’t want to feel the pleasure of killing someone up close?” Mary said with a slight smile. “I mean it’s exciting, I never fired on till I got here.”
“So why were you sent here?” Ami asked, unable to stop herself from asking.
“Didn’t pay attention to the news, ah, youth, so simple-minded,” Mary said, falling silent for a moment making Ami feel quite uncomfortable. “You might say I killed anyone I could, mostly arsenic, makes a very nice method, watching them suffer, those stupid men, and those stupid girls for getting in my way.”
Ami took a step back at the malice in Mary’s voice as she admitted to the crimes. She did not want to know how many had been killed to be sent here and felt sorry she even asked.
“Why don’t you take that off,” Mary said causing Ami to flinch as her collar was touched.
Ami reached up touching it and realizing for the first time it was still on.
“Um, I didn’t know it was on still,” Ami replied. “And, well I was told that to try to remove it could kill me.”
“So go ahead and remove it,” Mary said.
“I-I thought I would wait until going back home, where magic doesn’t exist, you know,” Ami replied quickly.
“Hmm, I suppose,” Mary said, almost looking disappointed for a second. “Well, here,” she said handing Ami one of the crude guns. Ami almost dropped it due to its weight. She had not expected something so heavy. She looked at it a bit closer, as Mary went though explaining how to work it. Ami paid her a little bit of attention, not really caring about shooting it.
She took the bag of gunpowder, a few of the bullets and a rope which clipped onto the firing mechanism. Ami recalled a major drawback to the weapon, in rain the gun could be rendered useless. Part of her hoped the weather would call for rain, and a lot of it.
“Everyone ready?” a voice called out.
“Oh yeah, been ready for this for years,” another voice said.
“You just want to go back and get revenge,” a female voice said. Ami recognized it as the girl with spiky hair.
“We’ll all have our chance at revenge,” Gregory said, as Ami watched him look over at everyone stopping for a second on her. She thought he knew she somehow was not like the rest of them. She also had a distinct impression that he did not care about it or any of them. She wished she had asked Tess more about this him, or even the Zero-Mages, but at the time she did not care. Ami wanted to forget about her past life and concentrate on this life.
“You really think this will work?” the spiky haired girl said.
“Of course it will work, are you doubting me,” Gregory said, walking up to her as the two looked in each others’ eyes for several long seconds.
“I doubt everything, you know that,” the girl finally said.
“Yeah, makes me wish you had stayed over there,” Gregory said, turning around to looking at the rest of the group. “If everyone is supplied and armed then let’s get moving.”
Ami followed the group out of the room down a few hallways, and finally outside into the bright sunlight of the day. Ami somehow thought it might be nighttime being inside so much. She squinted against the sunlight, shielding her eyes for several seconds until they grew accustomed to the light.
She emerged into a camp full of soldiers very much like the camp Tess left her in, which seemed like an eternity ago. Ami thought if she could do it over again, she would try to go with her somehow. She had no desire to return, or be with this group.
“All right everyone, let’s get going and be careful, reports are the empire has mobilized some of its army to fight us. Be careful and don’t engage enemy troop without support,” Gregory said to the group.
“Stay with me newbie,” Mary’s voice said to Ami. She sighed slightly hoping she might find an opportunity to escape this nightmare. The last thing she wanted to do was go back to the other world.
Tess led the column of infantry down the road, hopefully in the direction of Gregory’s army. Beside her, and still quiet, was Gallic who she thought appeared even quieter than normal. She wondered what he might be thinking about or even if he was thinking of anything. She looked behind her, seeing Becca and Lisa following, and the rest of the troops, the combined troops of the Royal Guard and the 1st army behind them. The 2nd army was still scattered around protecting the border from any threats in case Gregory launched any further raids.
Tess stopped at the approach of a scout. She motioned for Lisa and Becca to join her, but for the rest of the army to continue moving. One of the captains nodded, taking over the lead of the army and continuing on down the road, as Tess stopped, along with her shadow, Gallic, and Lisa and Becca. Tess waited for the scout to report in.
“Empress, am I ever glad to see you,” the scout said.
“What happened?” Tess asked, feeling the excitement in her blood at the thrill of an approaching battle.
“We ran across a battle, didn’t recognize either group, there were a few survivors though,” he said.
“How far away?” Tess asked.
“Just over that ridge off the path, there’s a clear field over there,” the scout replied.
Tess gave a whistle gaining a few captains’ attention. “Call a halt, ask for a scouting group and medics over here at once,” Tess shouted out.
She watched as the army came to a halt, and several captains walked over. A group of scouts walked over along with some of the medics already looking around for some sort of injury.
“Follow the scout here, there was a battle nearby and a few survivors. See what you can do and find out who is involved,” Tess said to the captain. “Make haste captain and report back to me.”
“Yes Empress,” he said, giving a whistle, before motioning to the scouts and medics to follow the scout, who bowed towards the Empress and took off down the road.
“Is it wise to stop?” Lisa asked.
“I need that information, tell the men to take a break,” Tess said.
“You think you’ll gain some information doing this?” Gallic said.
“Either way there is a battle between groups that are not part of the empire, it’s important. We’ll make time for this,” Tess stated finally.
“Time, a strange thing, we have lot, so because of that, we have no time,” Gallic said confusing Tess. She looked over at Becca, who had gone over to inform several captains to take a breather.
Tess knew that with any new information she might be moving the army hard, so resting them now might help in the future. They had marched for almost half a day now. She pulled out a map looking down taking their position and where she thought they needed to be based on the direction of Gregory’s army. She sat down next to Becca who took the opportunity to eat.
“What do you think?” Becca finally asked. “Who are they?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t like it,” Tess replied honestly. “Two unknown groups fighting in my Empire.”
“Thought so,” Becca said. “Can’t say I’m too happy about it either, and we have yet to hear from Carrie has me even more worried.”
Tess nodded at that, hoping the fiery red-head had not gotten herself into trouble.
They sat there for about an hour until a captain came up to her. Tess recognized her as the same one who had gone with the scouts.
“Empress, I have a report,” he said giving her a bow. Tess motioned for him to continue but instead he handed her a note. “It was from one of the survivors.”
Tess frowned looking down and noticing her name and that the handwriting looked familiar. She quickly opened it seeing that it was from Carrie and she motioned for Becca to come over as Tess started reading it.
“What the?” Tess said to herself frowning at the note. Carrie was telling her that she was part of a group called the Protectors and that if she was reading this note, her mission had failed. Tess wondered what this group the Protectors was, but kept on reading. She then saw the name Enokrad and that the mission of the Protectors was to keep the location of the beast a secret from the Awakeners.
“Something wrong?” Becca asked, walking up to her.
Tess ignored her for a second looking at the captain. “The person who gave you this, did she survive?”
“Ah, I don’t know, when I got this I came right back,” he said, uncomfortably as Tess handed the note to Becca.
“I’m going back with you, I think we’ll finally have a location of where Gregory is going. I want the en ready to move out the moment I get back,” Tess said as Becca read the note with the same frown Tess had. She waited a second until Becca looked up and finally acknowledged the order before running off with the captain.
Tess walked into the clearing seeing the soldiers cleaning up a battle, as the captain led her over to a tent. Inside she saw a group of medics who working on several people. Tess quickly looked them over seeing the familiar red-head on the ground nearby.
She knelt down grasping the hand, relieved at the warmth. She was alive, and not dead like Tess imagined. Green eyes blinked open a second later before focusing in on her.
“You’re here?” Carrie said, her voice sounding weak.
“You need rest,” Tess said a bit relieved.
“No,” Carrie replied, her voice gaining strength. “You must stop them!”
“I will, don’t worry, the 1st army is nearby,” Tess said.
“An army won’t stop Enokrad,” Carrie said.
“You knew what it was?” Tess asked, looking into Carrie’s green eyes.
“Stop them before they awaken it,” Carrie said. Tess thought about saying something else but Carrie seemed stuck on one thing.
“Don’t worry, I’ll stop it, but I need to know where to go?” Tess asked. She had an army marching along with no idea where they were going. If she could get a location, she could stop everything much easier.
Tess watched as Carrie went slack, still breathing, but unconscious.
“Medic!” she yelled out watching as a med-mage ran over quickly checking on Carrie. After a few seconds he finally looked up at her.
“She is alive, weak but alive. She probably fainted,” he said.
Tess released a deep breath before looking back at the med-mage. “Is there anyone awake I can talk to?” she asked, frustrated. The medic thought quickly before answering.
“Yes, I’m not sure how well they will answer you though, I had a hard time getting anything from him,” the medic said.
“Lead on,” Tess said, walking with the medic over to an injured man who had lost his arm. She knelt down watching as his hazel eyes looked up at her then back to the sky not saying a word.
“See what I mean Empress,” the medic said. Tess watched as the injured man’s eyes gave a hint of recognition before returning to the same stony look.
“I need information, now my friend over there says she wants me to stop some group from raising Enokrad, but to do that I need to know where to go to stop them from doing that,” Tess said, her eyes never leaving the man’s face.
“I cannot tell someone like you,” he replied back to her.
“So you want this Enokrad to be awakened, which if that does happen then your life will be for nothing, is that what you want!” Tess said.
“You are evil,” he finally said after a few seconds pause.
“I might be evil in your eyes, but I also don’t want to destroy the world. I have people who need protecting and you’re preventing that because of some stupid grudge,” Tess said going on a hunch. The widening of his eyes told her that she had guessed correct.
Tess grew frustrated by the lack of information she received.
“Look my friend over there, the battle-mage Carrie, she fought with you to defend this and kept this secret from me, but the time is past, we need to stop whatever is going to happen and do it now,” Tess said.
She waited a few more seconds before he finally seemed to come to a conclusion. “Fine, bring me a map,” he said. Tess pulled out a map watching as he pointed to a spot. “That’s all I know, it’s there.”
Tess looked at the map then at the medic. “How many medics do you need for the injured?”
She watched him seriously consider the question. “About two should do, we’ve stabilized those we can.”
“Very well, select two men and then return to the main army. I’ll send over a squad for protection, we need to move quickly,” Tess said watching the medic look at her, the injured man and then the map before quickly heading off. She took a look back down at the man. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that it’s not awakened,” she said honestly. She always tried to keep her promises but knew that he did not consider her word to mean much.
She stood not expecting an answer, heading back to where the others were gathered before they started heading back to the main army. She looked back at Carrie making a vow to make sure that the Enokrad would not awaken. She had not believed in the existence of such a creature until now. It seemed that there were groups out there protecting the existence of it.
End part 11
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