PART 26 – Lakeside
Zaz looked down at Kayla’s body, her red hair cloaking her paling face. He then turned to see Veronika clashing with Ken and Luna who were stopping her from getting to Sola. “Jonathan! You were supposed to be there! You were supposed to watch our backs!” Veronika screamed, the pain of a lost friend echoing in her voice. Jonathan fell to his knees on the roof, several tears rolling down his cheeks. “Get a good cry in Jonathan, you won’t be able to cry for much longer.” Chamberlain leaned forward and seeped into Jonathan the rest of the clones gathered around their sulking master. “Kayla…” Jonathan quietly said to himself.
The claws on Zaz’s fingers dug into his palms as he stared down at the girl his existence was dedicated to. The tighter he clenched the fist the deeper his claws dug into him. Blood began to drip off of his knuckles and stain the ground near Kayla’s body. He reared his head back and a low toned yell boomed through out the town silencing all the combatants in Hazol. The scream came from no origin, but Zaz undoubtedly caused it. As he yelled a small blast blew away dust and dirt at his feet. Zaz turned to face Sola who were smiling as she reloaded her rifle, a long and annoying process. He began sprinting towards her, his claws gleaming under their coat of blood as he did, nothing would stop him from getting to her. Ken jumped in Zaz’s way only to be greeted with four lightning quick slashes. Ken didn’t even see Zaz attack, but he felt the wounds rip open as Zaz spun around him and continued charging Sola. She loaded just in time, Sola leveled her rifle and shot Zaz in the base of the neck, she snickered at her own success. But Zaz didn’t even flinch as his windpipe was destroyed. He slashed downwards with both hands and tore Sola’s armor apart and grazed her skin. He unleashed a plethora of other damaging blows landing each one on her. His blind rage replacing his natural instincts, he had nothing else to live for and protect, so he could charge forward not fearing for his own health. Sola drew her short sword and cut Zaz twice and then stabbed through his leg, but still he didn’t stop. He punched her directly in the face, ripping the skin around her right cheekbone. A powerful kick sent Sola crashing through a half constructed wooden wall. As this all started happening, the other fights began converging on the central marketplace and everyone got a glimpse of Kayla, the fighting slowed down greatly and lost intensity. The will to fight for Anri’s brigade had vanished. “The youngest died?” Clara remarked upon seeing Kayla, Jordan and Donny were covered in scrapes and wounds as they shared a glare. “It seems death has already plagued this battlefield, it’ll be hard to follow that act of violence. Any more killing would be unoriginal.” Clara then saw Hale’s corpse hanging off the roof next to Jonathan. “Hale… My son…” She quietly said. “I will leave this evening to other fates, good night Jordan.” Clara then vanished leaving the battlefield demon free.
Zaz walked over to Sola and stomped on her chest as he grabbed her collar and lifted her up; she was too beaten to resist him. He positioned his fingers into a point and planned to drive his fist directly through her tearing her heart to shreds and in turn also destroying Deudalaphon. He began his attack when he suddenly exploded in a brilliant white light. Seconds later, it turned out to be white rose pedals, gently raining down around Sola, Zaz was gone. “There so beautiful…” Clarissa said as the fighting between her, Mia, and Giorgio stopped. Everyone else stopped fighting as well and separated to respective factions on different sides of the marketplace. Sola panted and placed a hand on her chest as the gorgeous rose pedals swirled around her. Where Zaz was standing a small white rose was growing from the ground and tightly tied around it was a red ribbon with Kayla’s name on it. Zaz had done his job at seeing Kayla’s life through, and now that Kayla was dead, he served no purpose, so he had vanished. If he had existed a second longer, Sola would have been killed.
“Well that was extremely interesting.” Miles said from his concealed hiding place. “Everyone here still remains prime candidates for the artificial elementalist program. But Zaidoulu still doesn’t trust us just yet. I’m sure if King Mazar hears that both princess’ are occupied then he’ll begin his plan.” Miles stroked his beard as he glared at Luna. “If you are alive then you some how managed to best Uzco, you will be missed my friend.” He opened a bag and began stuffing all of his Deudalaphon research notes into it. “I must leave for Zaidoulu once more, but at least I know where Deudalaphon is. I will return Sola, and rip you apart.” He slowly stopped unpacking. “Perhaps I should stay one more day and see how you react to this battle, we’ll see what maximum stress does to a girl with a failing heart.” He laughed to himself as he sat back down and watched the marketplace from his darkened room.
“Charge, kill all non-citizens of Hazol!” Eva and Noelle emerged from a dark alley and army of soldiers behind them rushing towards Anri’s brigade. “I suggest we withdraw, it isn’t our place to kill these soldiers.” Avner said. “You’re right, lets leave. Anri we must withdraw.” Donny said as he started to lead the retreat. “We can’t leave Kayla’s body here!” Veronika yelled. “We don’t really have a choice.” Giorgio yelled sprinting by her. Veronika charged the army trying to get to Kayla’s body but she was intercepted by several of Jonathan’s clones, which had to forcibly pull her away from the army. Anri looked at Giorgio as they fled. “Giorgio, take us somewhere safe nearby, with our injuries we won’t be able to get very far.” Giorgio nodded. “Don’t leave the gates of Hazol, stay within our territory.” Eva commanded the defending forces. Luna and the others all stood around Kayla’s body, examining the beautiful dead woman. “Why did you shoot the youngest one?” Luna asked as her claw began to disappear. “Because it’ll cause the turmoil within their ranks, and you saw what that thing did to me.” Sola said limping over to Kayla’s body. “Are you alright Viceroy?” Ken and Alana asked Sola at the same time. “Yes, I’ll be fine, these cuts are nothing more than an annoyance.” Jordan and Clarissa approached the group. He dug his sword into the ground and leaned on it. “She was young, I’ve killed younger, don’t feel too bad. My youngest kill was nine I think.” Jordan informed. Clarissa cringed at this information. “Master, have you really killed someone that young?” Jordan smiled. “I have, and it was on purpose too. And my name is Jordan, not master.” Jordan strictly stated. Everyone went silent as Eva and Noelle walked over to the group. “Who were those people?” Eva asked glancing at Kayla’s body only for a second. “Fighters from Acriale.” Jordan answered sheathing his sword. “So your saying that people from Acriale came into my city and destroyed all of the marketplace that we had just finished building today?” Eva glared at Sola and Luna. “Yes Eva, but it isn’t like we invited them.” Luna explained. Eva pointed at Kayla’s body. “Now we are enemies with Acriale, they could crush us! I don’t care who your father was anymore, get out of my city!” Eva screamed and pointed towards the gate signaling that she wanted their leave to be soon. “Hey, you can’t just kick us out. I hold half of the kingdoms rights.” Sola yelled. “Then I’ll fight you for ownership, and you know I’ll win Sola! I will kill you if I have to. Your pitiful existence has done nothing but make things extra hard for me, I want you out!” Eva was furious, very different from her normal self. “If you resist I’ll have Alana, Noelle, and Ken escort you out of Hazol.” Eva calmly said. “What about us?” Jordan signaled to himself and Clarissa. “You can leave to, you freak me out. Clarissa you’re free to stay.” Jordan shrugged off the insult. “Fine, we’ll leave. I thought we were friends, but I guess that’s not true. You can be Queen, but you need to live with the fact that you will never rightfully be Queen. Give us two days and we’ll disappear from your lives.” Luna and Eva looked at each other after hearing Sola. Sola strapped her rifle to her back stood straight and tall despite her injuries and began walking away, showing no heed to how Eva had just treated her best friend.
Giorgio had lead the brigade to a very isolated camping ground that was on the border of Markevv, even if the Hazol army found them, it would unwise to attack someone on another kingdoms territory. Mia started a fire while Giorgio made a perimeter; they were the two with the least injuries. Donny and Avner had the most, Donny because he fought Jordan then Clara, and Avner because he had taken many blows from Alana whilst trying to defend Anri. Veronika tended to Donny and Avner while simultaneously pitching the tents they had brought. Veronika moved slowly, the thought of Kayla and Zaz’s death lingering in her mind. Jonathan walked like a zombie towards the lakeside, the darkness competing with his white coat as he walked by Giorgio. “Don’t go wandering off for too long, the traps I’m going to set will work on you too.” Giorgio smiled. Jonathan walked by him without saying a single word. “Alright then, well don’t be walking too far, I’ll watch out for you.”
Jonathan fell to his knees at the edge of the lake; Chamberlain’s voice filled his head. “Hey, Jonathan, I need to speak with you. Show you something. You’ll fall asleep soon. I’ll talk to you then.” Chamberlain sounded serious. Jonathan felt his eyes get heavy, and his muscles relaxed. Then soon sleep claimed him and he felt at peace.
“Wake up Jonathan, I need to explain some things to you.” Chamberlain said poking Jonathan’s face. “Okay, I’m awake, where are we?… Is this… Dasif?” Jonathan stood up and looked around, the inside of Jonathan’s mind was a replica of Dasif entirely populated with his clones. In the center of the town was a large blue sphere with black tentacles dangling from it. “What is that?” Jonathan asked pointing at the sphere. “That, that is your soul, I’ve been looking over it for you lately.” Chamberlain smiled standing proudly beside it. “So what did you want to tell me?” Jonathan said studying his sphere. “I found out everything, everything that makes you, you.” Chamberlain announced. Jonathan looked at him. “Tell me.” Jonathan demanded. Chamberlain grabbed one of the tentacles and ripped it off the sphere. Jonathan fell to his knees and clutched at his head. “What was that?” He screamed. “That was me removing your ability to laugh, I’m going to start removing the things that make you a person.” Jonathan tried to stop Chamberlain when he ripped another tentacle off of the sphere. “And now you can’t be mad anymore.” Jonathan collapsed at Chamberlain’s feet. “Listen Jonathan, I stepped into this sphere a few days back and I found out why you weren’t completely absorbed by me at the start. Jonathan, you’re an elementalist.” A tear rolled out of Jonathan’s eye. “I couldn’t take over your body because binding my soul with an elementalists soul is very complex, so it didn’t totally work.” Chamberlain ripped another tentacle out of the sphere. “Your ability to smile is gone.” Jonathan cringed again, his body jolted as he lay on the dirt road of the Dasif replica. “You are the elementalist of misfortune Jonathan, I’ve never heard of it, no matter how lucky you are, your misfortune destroys those around you. Nahdinae, Kayla, Zaz and I bet there have been others.” Chamberlain gently kicked Jonathan’s body to make sure he was still alive. “So apparently our two souls have been subconsciously trying to bind, each attempt makes a new clone, and every time you clone it makes it easier for me to remove these tentacles, your personality traits.” Chamberlain ripped another one out. Jonathan struggled to stand up and managed to roll himself over. “Why?” Jonathan asked. “Cause I want my own body, it was the only way I could escape EDGE!” Chamberlain yelled, he walked over to Jonathan and crouched down next to him. “The next few days will be the worst of your life and they’ll come to be your last once I take over. I’ll leave some traits, your ability to cry, love, touch, smell, feel, hear, things like that, enjoy them and say goodbye to those who are special.” Jonathan started crying. “I’m sorry Jonathan, I actually always did like you, and I honestly wish it was some one else.” As Chamberlain was saying this, his vision began to get white and he felt himself getting colder. The last thing he remembers is seeing is Chamberlain smiling and laughing down at him.
“Jonathan, you have some explaining to do, I want answers!” Veronika said grabbing his collar and pulling him off of the rock beach. Jonathan stared at her, he knew who he was and what he wanted to feel, he just couldn’t summon the feelings he wanted to. He imagined that what Chamberlain had done would have been far worse, if not painful. “Veronika… I…” He readied himself to hug her, but instead he was greeted by a vicious and powerful kick from Veronika.
The tall grass swayed beautifully under the silver moonlight, a perfect compliment to the silver lake. Jonathan took Veronika’s kick to the chest and let himself collapse onto the rocks and pebbles that made up the beach of the lake. “Feeling any better yet because eventually I’m going to get tired of this Veronika.” Jonathan said lifting himself of the ground. Veronika encrusted her knuckles with an inch thick layer of ice and readied herself to deliver another sucker punch to Jonathan, she’d been punching and kicking him consistently for about ten minutes now. The rest of Anri’s group was in the forest fixing up their camp mourning the death of Kayla and disappearance of Zaz. Veronika’s punch connected with Jonathan’s cheek and her turned with it to lessen the impact. “You killed her! We asked you to do one thing, but instead you had to fight Hale! Kayla’s dead! All because of you! She was 19 Jonathan!” The ice around Veronika’s knuckles thawed and she clenched her fists making her leather gloves strain. For a moment the only sound was of Jonathan’s cloak snapping in the wind. “Fight back! Defend yourself! Defend your honor Jonathan!” Jonathan stared at her through his sunglasses, he wished he could see through her goggles and finally get a chance to see her eyes so he would understand what she was going through. He knew why she was upset, Veronika was protective and the one girl in Anri’s group that looked up to Veronika was dead. “I’m as sorry as I’m not sorry. Kayla and Zaz are dead, but so is Hale.” Veronika leaned back as if she was under verbal attack. “How dare you compare their value to Hale’s?” Veronika refrosted her fists. “I did my duty Veronika, Anri is alive. That’s all that matters to me, there are very few people in this group that has meaning to me.” Jonathan was interrupted when Veronika punched at his head. Jonathan caught the punch and twisted her arm behind her back. “One of them is you.”
“Yeah right! You’re as emotional as your clones.” Jonathan pushed her away. “I would have, I would have saved her if I wasn’t fighting Hale, Sola would be dead and Kayla would be alive. I’m sorry I couldn’t do that for you.” Veronika pulled her mask down so Jonathan could finally see some of her face, at least her nose and mouth. Her lips radiated off of her pale white skin, all of that time being fully clothed in winter apparel had kept her deprived of sunlight. Seeing her skin instantly gave Jonathan a full analysis of her. She had gotten thinner since they began to follow Anri, she’d gotten paler. Almost as if she was sick. “We need time to think Veronika, before we continue what we are doing.” Jonathan said ending the silence. “Stop acting so calm about this, someone is dead because of us Jonathan, you may be able to block a physical attack with your clones, but you can’t block this Jonathan. You need to face it and deal with it.” Veronika let a tear fall down her face before it crystallized. “I’m not going to deal with this, I don’t need to.” Veronika grew a small dagger out of ice and ran at him out of impulsive anger. “Jonathan!” She stabbed down at him, tears in her eyes. Jonathan sidestepped and grabbed her wrist while simultaneously shattering the dagger with his free hand. He twisted her wrist again and brought her to the ground with him. After a brief tussle they were both facing each other on their knees. Jonathan looked right at her, almost into her. “The only thing I’ve ever wanted to deal with… Is you.”
“That’s a lie!” She wept. “You were in love with Nahdinae!” She tried to break free and got one of her hands free. She punched at Jonathan again and he caught her forearm between his cheek and shoulder. Then he drove his leg between hers to keep her from moving from side to side. One of his hands was holding her hand against her thigh and the other hand had a grasp on her collar. “And you were in love with me.” Jonathan looked at her very seriously. “Ever since I’ve met you Veronika, I’ve slowly come to appreciate who you are even without seeing your face or any other part of you. So I’m asking you to appreciate who I am now that the clones have taken most of me away.” Veronika sat there, listening; she stopped struggling and seemed more interested in what he was saying now. “Do you know how tormenting it is when you have no emotions? Kayla was important to me too. And I am physically and mentally unable to mourn her. Do you know what that’s like? This isn’t fun for me. I’m dying inside and I can’t feel it.” Jonathan looked as if he would cry if he could. “So you can’t feel anything? This whole time? Why would you keep that a secret from everyone, from me?” Veronika asked. She leaned forward. The intensity of the situation increased. Jonathan knew what was coming and as much as he didn’t want it to happen, he wanted it just as much. Jonathan began to feel heat on Veronika for the first time ever. He felt heat between her legs and on his neck, along her sides, and he felt heat radiating from her face, as she got closer.
Jonathan released her and untied the knot that held the majority of her outfit together, and with Veronika’s now free hand she removed his sunglasses. Jonathan pulled her hood down and removed her primary over jacket. This revealed her perfect arms and neck as well as letting a perfectly kept mane of jet-black hair roll free down over her shoulders. She was beautiful, perfect in his opinion and he hadn’t even seen all of her, but her baby-blue eyes were enough of a tease. Veronika never removed a single article of clothing except for the occasional lowering of her mask; this was a privilege knowing that she trusted Jonathan this much. Jonathan threw her down onto the pebbled ground, which Veronika quickly turned into a soft bed of snow. Jonathan approached her neck and the gasps she let out signaled Jonathan to continue what he was doing.
The rest of the night was a blur to Jonathan. He remembers her slender body with perfect curves shining beneath him. The feeling of her legs wrapping around his. The surprising warmth of an ice elementalist. The places she touched him. The places he touched her and the erotic responses he got in return. And the odd moment when she brushed up against his chest and asked “Why are you so cold? I can’t feel cold.” The last thing he remembers is himself pulling away from her kiss afterwards as he put his cloak back on. He didn’t want her to fall in love with him. That’s why he didn’t want to be with her the way he just was, but the only humanity that the clones left in him, wanted her as much as the clones wanted him. It almost seemed if she now understood what he was, who he was. He left her sitting practically nude in her own bed of snow, curious and unknowing. He returned to the campfire and passed by everyone without making eye contact with a single member of Anri’s group. He lay in his tent and slowly cried himself to sleep even thought the sun was rising. A ghost of a man crying himself to sleep after he finally realized that Chamberlain had succeeded. Succeeded in taking everything from him, including the girl he wanted to be with forever.