The Gemstone Chronicles – Book 2 – Chapter 18

North-West of Cordanna, Capital of the Kingdom of Morn
 
1 week later

Water splashed, swirling across the river surface. Light flashed on the river, an afternoon yellow, reflecting into the air. Dale swung his arm, casting a line into the river. Fish swam by, wallowing back and forth through the current, making their way upstream. Dale watched them swim, feeling a sense of calmness and delight he rarely felt. Feng lay on the ground next to him, snoring lightly.

After Dale and Feng had returned to the city, following their weeks long practice sessions, they had agreed to go on a break. They were very determined, and had huge dreams, but, despite all of that, were still children, only 10 years old. Principal Warren and Instructor Lem felt it best that they get small break as well. So, Dale and Feng agreed to try something they’d never done before, and were off fishing in a secluded river, about 3 miles northwest of the city. Fish swam in the river, belaying the calm water.

After five or six attempts, Dale had managed to successfully toss his line in the general area he wanted it, a great success in his opinion. Feng had give up on his fourteenth try, declaring fishing a skill of the devil, and went to sleep after practicing his soul training. He showed Dale a small flame mark, inscribed near his heart. This was apparently the signature move of a Flame Body user. Dale had yet to train his soul art, his hair remaining its uniform dark brown color. Dales blue eyes sparkled as he waited for a fish to catch his line.

Dale had successfully broken through to the Iron Core level, joining Feng. His strength had multiplied, and currently was over 3 tons of force. However, he had yet to slow time past 78%. Apparently, entering the Perfect Balance mode was more important to slowing time then pure power.

Dale suddenly had an idea. He concentrated for a moment, circulating the energy in his veins, and compressed time around himself. As time slowed to roughly 80%, he suddenly entered the Perfect Balance state. While Dale didn’t have a 100% success rate in entering the Perfect Balance mode, he could enter into it the majority of time. As he entered this mode, time slowed a bit more, and the world lit up with light. Dale could see opposing forces, and watched in amazement, watching the previously hidden forces swirl in the river. He physically saw the current, drawing downwards toward the sea. He watched as several fish battled against it, slicing through the water. He was also surprised to see gravity affecting the fish as strongly as it affects anyone else. There was another force, buoyancy, opposing the force of gravity as it flowed through the water.

Dale drew his line towards the fish, carefully manipulating his rod to perfectly place the hook. He watched, predicting the fish’s movement as he watched the minute forces surrounding his body change.

“Swish!” The fish hooked on to the line, spearing itself in the mouth. It thrashed around, raising waves in the water, trying to escape. Dale expertly (in his opinion) brought it up, pulling it off the hook. He carefully set cut its head off, and proceeded to gut it like he had been instructed, when he asked Instructor Lem. His teacher had gone as far as buying an actual fish from the market to properly show Dale.

After getting rid of the intestines and anything dangerous, Dale cut the main flesh off, and set it to the side, alongside 3 other fish he had caught. Dale had been fishing since the morning. Dale cast his line back into the river, losing himself in the flow of time.

Feng woke up a few minutes later. He noticed the fish Dale had caught, and offered to cook them. Dale agreed, and watched as Feng spawned a ball of fire into his hand. Feng tossed one of the chunks of fish in the air, and blasted it lightly with fire. It sizzled, and fell back down through the air, landing in his hand. It was slightly burnt, but smelled delicious.

“Ahahaha! Success!” Feng laughed, happy at his attempt at cooking. Feng had secretly practiced this technique, Flame Fist Majestic Coiling Giant Dragon Behemoth Cooking Art. He also named it.

Feng cooked the rest of the fish, while Dale picked up his line, reeling it back in. The boys were sitting in the shade of a large oak tree, set on the side of the river. The tree was wide as a man, and gave off a deep feeling of age. The wind whistled by, flowing over the river, towards the south.

As Dale and Feng chowed down, resting in the shade, they smelled a faint hint of smoke. At first, they attributed it to the partially burnt fish. However, Feng suddenly stood up.

“Hey, look at that! Is that a smoke trail?” Feng said, covering his eyes against the suns glare. A thin train of smoke had appeared in the distance, towards the east. It was very faint, barely discernible.

“Hmm, give me a second.” Dale said, shifting into Perfect Balance mode. Suddenly, Dales world came alight. From just one blurry trail of smoke, the horizon transformed into more then 10 smoky columns, rising into the sky like deaths soul departing, “What…Theres several of them? Maybe a forest fire, or something?” Dale said, confused.

“I think we should go back to the School.” Feng said, looking around nervously. Several fiery balls appeared in the air above him.

Dale nodded, and the duo ran back towards the city.

Cordanna, Capital of theKingdom Of Morn. King’s Main Hall.

“Your Majesty! The invaders continue to attack! We have lost the entire southern province, over 30 small towns and 2 large villages.” A desperate looking messenger ran in, his hair burnt, smelling of smoke.

“What in blazes is attacking?!” Demanded the King. A Gold Aura, riven with streaks of black, surrounded him, causing the nearby air to ripple slightly.

“Sir, it appears to be monsters. Specifically, a large army of humanoid creatures, monsters of great strength and height. Besides the humanoids, there were several powerful shades, and leading the great armies are huge forces of Attributed Beasts. Lastly, there have been sightings of several dragons. The invading army apparently has 2-3 Gem Dragons, and the rampaging Space Dragon that was reported several weeks ago has been sighted nearing the capital.”

“BLAST!” The Kings shout shook the great hall, causing dust to fall from the rafters. The King was surrounded by his advisers, and several military guards. The situation was not looking good. Besides losing the southern province, hundreds of thousands of people had already died. The southern province represented a full 20% of Morn. To lose it already was a massive loss. The King needed to act quickly.

“Sound the call to arms. The invading army is heading here, and will be here by tomorrow at noon. We will fight them here.” The King declared. Several of his aides ran off, informing officials and fighters of the news. The King sat down on his weary throne, rubbing his eyes. An ancient looking general stepped up next to him, watching the King carefully. The King looked at him.

“Commander Darsus.” He nodded at the elderly looking general, “What are our chances?” He rubbed his eyes.

“Your majesty. They are not good. We have calculated the enemy’s numbers down to roughly 20,000 Beast warriors, 3-4000 attributed beasts, and 3 dragons, all with Gem Cores. Also, spread in with the Beast warriors are the shades mentioned earlier.  We don’t have any information on them. The Beast warriors are all at the Copper level or above, several of them Iron or Steel. The shades are at least at the Silver level. The attributed beasts range from Coal to Silver, but we have yet to get reports of Gold Level attribute beasts.” Gold level attributed beasts and above were extraordinary rare. As well, once a beast reaches the Gold level, they will maintain a certain level of intelligence, and a great deal of pride. Few Gold beasts would choose to serve a dragon, no matter how ancient.

“Darsus, how ready is the Legion?” The King asked. The Legion was the Morn Kingdoms most elite fighting force. Composed entirely of veterans, every member of the Legion had gone on at least one Expedition Force. Roughly 1000 warriors large, the Legion consisted of 700 Silver Core experts, 280 Gold Core Experts, and 20 Black Gold Core Experts. It was a massive fighting force, and the backbone of the Morn Kingdom.

“They stand prepared, sire.” Darsus nodded towards the King. The Legion had been preparing to hunt down the rampaging Space Dragon that had taken out several small villages. So, they had already gathered when this invasion force spread from the Deadlands.

“Very well.” The King turned to one of his remaining aides, “Send word to the Duchies to the North, asking for reinforcements.” Of the surrounding Kingdoms and governments, King James Bach of Morn trusted only the allied duchies to the north. The rest would rather laugh at his misfortune, and steal into his weakened nation when they could.

The aide ran off to the stables, going away to bring word to the north. The great hall stood in silence for a moment. The King looked back at Darsus. King Bach had known Darsus his entire life. Commander Darsus was like a pillar, standing strong in the face of everything, never shifting nor bending. Today, Commander Darsus had a worried look on his face. To the King, who placed in him undying faith, it was an unsettling feeling.

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” Said the King, looking grimly towards Commander Darsus.

Commander Darsus nodded gravely, “The worst I’ve seen yet. But we’ll make it through this. We always have.”

Excerpt from History of the Chel Continent, Chapter 53.8 – The Fall of Morn

And on that day, when armies together came as one,
Morn warred long, battling till the end had come.

And as darkness fell, as tilled the night,
Legion did stand. Legion did fight.

But Hope shattered, as death opened his door,
The Kingdom of Morn fell, and was no more.

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