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 Ch. 55: Loose Ends

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PostSubject: Ch. 55: Loose Ends   Ch. 55: Loose Ends I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 29, 2010 7:36 pm

Life went on. The day after the battle, Requiem buried the dead in a mound near a bend in the river that ran past their base. At the waterfall where Asterisk had been entombed, a somber hero’s funeral was given. Members from other clans, touched by his kindness and past deeds, came to pay their respects. The scars of war were swiftly removed by eager workers and helping hands, and by time. Blood was washed from the river. Rifts in the earth were covered up. Mutilated trees were healed, and new ones were planted to replace those that had been felled. But the greatest helper was Nature itself. After a month of heavy rain, the forest was as good as new. Nobody could tell that it had once born witness to a war. Requiem expanded throughout the forest, adding new bases on its borders and using clearings and glades as training grounds for the flood of new recruits that joined after their victory against Kobi’s clan.

The town of Wa-Kia had suffered extensive damage throughout the war. Sera’s demon had leveled half of the buildings there, leaving the other half heavily damaged. Clans that had once been based in the town either moved out or stayed behind to help rebuild. Earvin Empaces and his Order of the Dark Wolf contributed greatly to the reconstruction of the city, bringing in workers from their clan and architects from other cities to build new housing for the clans that used the city. As many clans had migrated away due to plague and war, those that remained behind had larger buildings to themselves. Requiem owned an entire street at the western end of the town. Lizargeco and his Guardians of Doom stayed away, looked at unfavorably by the many clans of Good that worked there.

The halls that once housed the Council of Grasp was now gone. Fire searched through the pile of rubble for days, eventually coming up with the head of a statue; the furrowed brow of Angel. The head was preserved in a small museum dedicated to the war, using the sculpture fragment as a memento. Nobody came to visit the museum, and after a few days the head was smashed by the museum curator in anger. The clans that had once formed the council were now gone, all of them. People spoke freely of the wonders the council had performed, yet nobody was eager to emulate the council’s greatness. Many were afraid of repeating the council’s past mistakes, where people such as Elitis manipulated the council from inside while others such as Kobi merely flouted the law from the outside.

The Archives had been burned to the ground. Al Gilman barely managed to escape in time, carrying a large bundle of the most important documents housed within the building. The rest could not be retrieved. A new Archives, large and emptier, stood proudly at the town center now, taking up an entire quarter of the place. The old fountain was replaced with a newer, simpler one, softly trickling while reconstruction moved ahead around it. The sound gave the town a warm feel, attracting a new generation of aspiring clan leaders.

The swamp where Kobi had hidden his base had disappeared, burned to a crisp by the combined might of Bremen’s peat-fire and Dye’s magic. Its putrid stench lessened with time, then disappeared, along with all sight and sound of the once-mighty base. and In its place, a dry, desolate plain stood, quickly turning into a desert. Months of Chaos infection had taken its toll on the area; now no life could grow there. Of Kobi himself, nobody really knew what his fate was. Lizargeco vowed to track him down, but let up the chase after a week, his members grumpy and bored.

One day, in late autumn, Saint sat outside the clan base, listening to the rush of the waterfall and the rustle of the trees. It had been three months since the war against Kobi, and four months since the war against Elitis. Looking back with hindsight, it was easy for him to say that the wars had been easy. But he knew how different wars appeared while one was still fighting in them. He hadn’t heard a word from Direbane since the day he mysteriously had shown up to fight him, then aid him. He had left behind the shards of his dark lance, possibly as a reminder of his existence. Direbane’s reminder to Saint of Ino’s death brought back a wave of nostalgia for Saint. The day after the war with Kobi had ended, he took the lance shards to Ino’s grave out in the wilderness, and left them there. Now, he looked forward, hoping for something new and exciting to come his way.

“Hey, can I join you?” Saint looked up. Blizzard stood there, a fresh pair of shades on his face, guitar strapped to his back. He was bare-chested underneath his black leather jacket, a Requiem insignia covering the hole in his chest where his heart could be seen beating. Saint waved Blizzard down, and together, they sat. Blizzard plucked out a few gentle notes on his guitar, letting them vibrate into the cold autumn air.

“So, how are things going?” Saint turned to look at Blizzard.

“Pretty good. We’ve been getting an interesting selection of recruits.” They had indeed. Only a few days ago, Pixie had shown up at the base’s entrance, as tall and as imposing as ever, black hair rippling in the wind, a sarcastic smile on her red lips. Dawn lunged at her, arms outstretched, before she was pinned to the ground by five men, who struggled to keep her there. Pixie had come to Requiem only because she needed a job; Kobi didn’t pay her for her time fighting for him. Relationships between her and Dawn were still edgy, though she repeatedly told her younger sister to put the past behind them and move forward. Blizzard didn’t care as long as she didn’t betray them. Dawn was sure she was going to betray them, and was constantly on her guard.

“So, what’s everyone doing?” Dye came walking out of the base, not wearing armor for the first time.

“I thought you were showing the new recruits something?”

“I was. Nathan’s in there now.” Nathan had grown friendlier ever since he lost his eye. Maybe it was the war, maybe it was something else, but he was now popular among the newer members of the clan. That moment, Nathan came out of the base, wearing black armor, helmet removed to reveal light brown hair. His one eye twinkled, the other covered in his ever-present eye patch.

“Hey, how is everyone?”

“Dye said you were showing the new recruits something.”

“I was. Jacob decided to take over.” Jacob had begun to take the clan seriously after the war, trying his best to become acknowledged as the great warrior he strove to become. His battle with Sera’s demon had freed him from the burden of the omnipresent voice in his head. Now he did everything with a new vigor. Sera now lived in a small village in the south lands, but visited now and then with the family that adopted her.

“Oh, just to let you guys know, I’ve decided to have a look around Liz’s clan.” Everyone turned to Saint, surprised. He looked around, a smile on his face. “What? His tactics are great. I might learn something from him.”

“Now I’m not alone…” Blizzard muttered to himself, unconsciously rubbing the hole in his chest.

“No, I’m not going as far as having my heart removed. I’ve seen that wound of yours, and it’s nasty.” Everyone grinned, while Blizzard scowled.

The leaves rustled for a moment, falling from the trees in waves of gold and red. It was autumn, the falling season, where everything fell into place. The sun was setting, and they all knew that in a little while Priest would be there to call them in, Priest, who had been thrust upon the leadership position by Angel’s sudden departure. Angel was never sighted by the rest of the clan, though he dropped in notes once in a while, tied to a single, black feather. Everyone was spooked by these notes, everyone but Priest, who read every single one as he learned out to be a better leader. Even after months of being the leader of Requiem, he still had much to learn.

Enemies replaced enemies, and a new generation of weak, annoying, or near-useless opponents were fought off like flies, or assimilated. The Lightning Volts, lead by a thunder mage of some potency, disintegrated when contacted. Chaos Creed, picking up the ashes of Kobi’s legacy, was struck down by a word. Retribution, a clan created to oppose Lizargeco and his Remnants, was eventually absorbed into the organization it set out to destroy. The Blood Knights joined Requiem with little fuss. Now, all that was left were the more powerful groups that lurked in the shadows, such as the remains of Fire’s former clan, the Order, as well as a rather vicious new group of fighters, the Chaos Rippers. As Requiem expanded, they came into contact with more clans, not always friendly to strangers, but always respectful of power.

Nobody doubted the fact that Requiem would one day fall. It was matured, experienced, with little left to grow. By expanding into new cities such as Akiba, it could gain a few more members, but its quest to gain power was all but complete as it found its place in the world. Yet those that had been there from the very start, watching the progress of the clan as it grew to what it had become, saw that it had also accomplished its original goal, set forth by Angel in the beginning. It had opened the door to dreams, helping people gain what they aspired for, opened the door to reality, revealing the polar ends of human nature, and opened the door to friendship, and ultimately to each others’ hearts.
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Ch. 55: Loose Ends
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