Filthy and sweat covered we emerged from the underground of Siel's Western Fortress. Six of my Legion had been dispatched to eradicate a Balaur nest found to be through a secret aethergate beneath the fortress. What we found surprised even us; it seems we had stumbled upon a Balaur treasury. A blow the dragonkin would hopefully feel in this little war of ours.
I bent at the waist and put my hands on my knees and gratefully gulped massive breaths of clean air. The Balaur stank. The musty odor of snakes, and below that the rusty odor of old blood. It was a smell that clung to the back of your throat, and coated the tongue and I hated it. My body rebelled against it and my own will and my insides heaved. I vomited on the flagstones of the fortress floor. Toxemia, our contingent's assassin, laughed at me.
"What's the matter Sirona?" he asked in a mocking tone.
I liked Tox, he was a good fighter, and a good friend. I smiled sheepishly at him, even as Aalairius laid his hand on my back beneath my shield to comfort.
"I hate that smell." I replied. Simple and to the point and dropped the subject. Ulquiorra, our Sorcerer handed me his water skin. I tipped my head and poured some of the sweet spring water into my mouth, rinsed it and spat. Objection, our Chanter snorted in distaste. I shrugged at her. She shook her head and began the incantation to Return to Teminon, she would file our report while the five of us that remained carried out our next mission.
It was to be a busy night.
Girlysniper, our Ranger cleaned dirt from beneath her fingernails with her dagger point while the rest of us caught our breath. I always envied how cool and collected she was after every engagement. She always had an air around her that bordered on the mystical, never disheveled after a fight, never a hair out of place. Everything seemed so easy for her, yet she was always humble. I liked her for that.
"On to the next?" she asked us and we all nodded. Aalairius groaned as he got to his feet.
A busy night indeed...
We harried the Asmodians of the Siel's other fortress until Girly gave us the signal for retreat. Laughing, we took wing and flew for the transportation station of the lower Eastern Shard, content with our work for the evening. Little did we know what we flew into.
When my Legion mates and I reached the teleporter it was pandemonium. Spells flashed against the rocks thrown wildly from both sides, as titanium weapons clashed and screeched against protesting shields and armor. I squeezed my wings in against my body to gain momentum and arrowed into the fray, the first prayer of healing I could think of slipping past my lips in a desperate plea for an Elyos ranger about to fall.
It was enough and he stayed up, enough to retreat to the safety of our pad. The higher ranking guards and Daevas giving him shelter. I caught a glimpse of Aalairius as he pulled an unsuspecting Spirit Master into the midst of our companions but that was the last I would see of him for a while. I healed the ones I could and revived the others I could not, all the while keeping myself on my feet and drawing the wrath of Aion onto the inattentive heads of the mongrels and curs that opposed us.
At once was I aware that the Elyos around me had fallen back as the tide of Asmodians with their fiendish faces and twice damned glowing red eyes advanced. I heard Aalairius roar his defiance and my attention rose to the sky in time to see it coming but with no time to act. Five of the Asmodian sorcerers had ripped open the sky, and the rain of elements unleashed hit me with such appalling force.
It hurt, and then as my knees slowly gave way spilling me to the stone floor, I felt nothing... nothing save the two crystalline tears slipping down my cheeks as the world went gray, then dark and though the fires of their anger burned around me, all went cold and I closed my eyes and welcomed Aion's embrace.
Vaguely aware the fight continued to rage around me, I forced my wings to arch above me, shielding my prone body. I huddled there in my hurt and like so many times before, silently prayed that I would not remain immortal this time and that true death would claim me soon. The seconds ticked by when a sudden strength infused my core and seeped out in into my extremities, breaking me from my torpor and allowing my animalistic sense of self preservation to take over. I dragged hot fetid air into my lungs and lurched to my feet dragging my mace and shield up with me. I felt lethargic and moved too slowly as I attempted to step back from the fight. Clumsy and uncoordinated I stumbled, strong arms locked around me from behind and I yelled, struggling, futile in my efforts at escape.
"Sirona! SIRONA!" I heard over the din, and I sagged gratefully, Tox had a hold on me, not some Asmodian bent on who knows what. I let him drag me back to the teleportation pad where Aalairius rested. Tox, as much as I love him, dropped me unceremoniously beside Aal before diving back into the fray. Had I the energy to call after him I would have instead I knelt there and meditated, feeling my reserves of energy, both physical and spiritual regenerate slowly. I clasped my hand in Aalairius' and when I felt well enough to continue gave it a squeeze. We rose and did a brief weapons and armor check before raising our shields before us and charging back into the fight.
I don't know how long we were there or how long the battle went on, but eventually we were relieved of duty from the front lines and allowed to return to Teminon for much needed rest. There will be other battles fought and won or lost; this was after all, a war...
I took my time bathing, soaking my hurts in the healing mineral waters of Teminon's bath house, after, before I allowed myself sleep in the arms of my beloved, I polished my mace and shield and made the minor repairs needed to my chain.
I also prayed.
“Aion protect me as I sleep. Give me the strength and the will to continue the fight and keep my comrades safe. In your name.”