22. Dying Words

Chapter 22

Dying Words

            Nel realized that this was actually the first time she had ever been in the training facility. Albel had stopped her before she could actually go in and save her subordinates back then. She never anticipated that moment would change her life so drastically. As she had approached the building from the outside, she noticed Albel on the top of the building, giving her an idea of where she was supposed to meet him.

It wasn’t easy navigating around the place. Many of the rooms had been ransacked- no doubt from a Dragon Brigade raid. She heard rumors that Vox arrested some Black Brigade soldiers for ‘allowing Aquarians to go free’. How Albel managed to avoid that was beyond her. Then again- when she had seen him, he revealed that he had nothing to do with the capturing of her subordinates and wasn’t even aware that his men were holding them hostage. Even Vox couldn’t accuse him of anything if he wasn’t there for it.

For the most part, the place was empty, save for a few monsters that managed to break in. The spy had to travel around the outer halls of the building, avoiding all inner rooms, until she came across what appeared to be an elevator. She wasn’t sure if it would take her to where she wanted to go, but she climbed in and gave it a try anyway. She selected the topmost floor and waited until the platform reached her selected level.

The spy then followed the narrow hall and found herself outside once again. She had to admire the impressive sight before her. It was a wide-open area with a beautiful view of the Airyglyph Mountains in the distance. She could imagine that this arena was where most trainees would come to spar since there was nothing that would get in the way. Directly across the way, near a corner, was Albel.

He was sitting on top of the parapet, next to a large square column in the corner and he was facing outward. He glanced back at her over his shoulder and acknowledged her existence with a short nod. Since he wouldn’t move from his position, she assumed that he wanted her to come to him. With a light grunt of amusement over his ‘greeting’, she crossed the expansive distance and climbed her way up to where he was.

Albel was standing by the time she reached him and before she knew it, his fingers were gripping the front of her tunic and she was pulled against him. His lips were smashed against hers in a dominating way, but he soon eased up and it turned into something a little sweeter. Nel’s eyes fluttered closed as she responded back to him, making sure she invaded his mouth before he could do so to her. She barely registered the fact that her hands were tangled in his hair or that he was holding her close against him.

There wasn’t too much heat or passion in their kiss. It seemed Albel was holding back for some reason. The spy soon realized that he must’ve missed her while he was away. All he wanted was the comfort of holding his woman again, but she didn’t think he had it in him to be that sentimental…outside of sex, of course. It wasn’t long before he began to pull away, proving that he didn’t intend for the kiss to go very far…yet.

“We have some matters to discuss,” he told her as he slowly let her go. His tone sounded serious and she was curious about what he had to say. They already discussed his journey out to Mosel and he mentioned that there was nothing there that seemed suspicious.

But before she could let him speak, her eyes wandered over to his left arm where she noticed a brand new claw. Now that he had the prosthetic, he didn’t need to rely on the claw that used to respond to a barely living limb.

“How is your arm?” she inquired once he caught her staring. He also glanced down and flexed his new arm a little.

“It’s fine. I feel some phantom limb pain every now and then, but it’s nothing,” he replied in a subdued tone. He didn’t seem that enthusiastic about his new arm- or rather he was acting as if he didn’t care that he had it. Why did he bother going through with the surgery if he didn’t really want a prosthetic?

Nel tried not to let her annoyance show on her face as she reached out and touched his new claw. He never did thank her for her efforts, either. She didn’t do it to receive any gratitude from him, but it would’ve been nice for him to at least acknowledge it. She instead pushed the thoughts from her mind and focused on his minor complaint of pain. “Are you sure it’s not bothering you? I can use healing runology to numb the pain for you.”

“I’m fine,” he insisted, sounding a little irritated, “I’m not one of those weak Aquarian men you’re used to- no need to treat me like one of them.”

One could say that Airyglyph and Aquaria were nearly complete opposites when it came to household matters. In Aquaria, the men stayed home while the women worked and made a living, but in Airyglyph the roles were reversed. Since Nel spent a lot of time in Airyglyph spying, she was aware of Glyphian social rules and was initially disgusted with the thought of women being ‘domesticated’. However, she had to concede that her country was no better in domesticating men.

…Of course, every now and then, an amusing thought of Albel cooking and cleaning her home danced through her mind and she couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. He would be infuriated if he had to fall into such a role- just like how she would if she had to play the Glyphian wife to him.

The spy smirked as she glanced up at the Wicked One and teased him. “You know, once upon a time in my country, men were silent unless spoken to.”

Albel allowed a similar smirk to show on his lips. “That’s what is expected of women in my country. Why do you think I chose you for a wife? You’re far less boring than they are.”

She could’ve taken that as an insult, but she felt flattered instead. It was nice that he appreciated her for who she was and not some pretty thing whose purpose was to bear children. And maybe for that she would forgive him for his shortcomings of gratitude.

“Whatever- you probably wanted me because I’m more creative than the women you’re used to,” she retorted with a teasing grin.

“There’s that, too,” he agreed, a pleased look crossing his features, “but there are also other, less demeaning reasons.”

And for reasons she couldn’t explain, her cheeks began to blush a little. He didn’t say much that could’ve been considered a compliment, but the fact that he was implying that he loved her made her heart flutter a little. …Of course, she already knew he felt that way about her, but it wasn’t often he would leave those subtle hints. What in Apris’ name was wrong with her? She hadn’t acted like this since she was little, but she was far too old to be having a silly crush on anyone. Her relationship with Albel was already complicated enough- she didn’t need those confusing feelings added to it.

“So what did you want to talk about?” she inquired, bringing back the original subject. She didn’t want to dwell on her strange actions when there were other things to talk about. For all she knew, her feelings were actually temporary insanity. She had been bored enough to the point where she was desperate for a distraction.

“Woltar briefed me about what little has been done about the peace treaty. While we seem to be cooperating with each other, no one is addressing the problems that started the war in the first place,” he said as he stared off into the Granah Hills.

Nel crossed her arms as she shook her head. He was acting as if they had been twiddling their thumbs the entire time! “I’m sorry things aren’t moving as fast as you’d like, but we’re doing the best we can. Aquaria is donating food to your country to help sustain you through the winter and we are trying to open communications about what to do with the Kirlsa/Aire border.”

“That’s not what I mean,” he interrupted while giving her a side glance. “There is another problem that isn’t necessarily related to food. Those merchants of yours deliberately raise prices when selling to our country. I’m certain they will continue to do so as long as we have little choice in trade. Since you have your queen’s ear, I was hoping you could ask her to control the prices those maggots sell at.”

…He actually brought on a good point. There were quite a few merchants in Peterny who would eagerly take advantage of Airyglyph and other war torn villages along the border. While the queen could take care of her own citizens, there wasn’t much they could do for the Glyphians. And that wasn’t going to look good for the fragile peaceful relations the two kingdoms were just starting to build.

“I see what you’re talking about, but…” she trailed off before she started to pace, “it’s not as easy as you think it would be. The merchant’s guild in Peterny is its own autonomous government and while they do pay their taxes to Her Majesty and follow Aquarian laws, we can’t easily enforce them to lower prices. Even if Her Majesty made the order, they would find legal ways to go around it.”

“Then force them to obey. I’m sure sending a small army to watch other them would make them think twice about cheating,” the Wicked One suggested with a proactive look.

“We’re not a militaristic kingdom, Albel,” the spy reminded him tiredly as she glanced away from him, “If we did that, then we could cause civil unrest and discourage new businesses from forming.”

“Bah, then what good are you, woman? Are you trying to tell me there’s nothing you or your kingdom can do?” He scowled as she sharply turned to face him.

“There is something we can do,” Nel insisted before she decided to relay a few personal reports to him. “Not all of the guild members are corrupt and if we were to eliminate the bad ones from the inside, the Aquarian court can negotiate and take control of the guild with the cooperation of those left. Someone would have work undercover to do so, but I think I should be more than enough to take on the job.”

“Heh, if you do take the job, then let me assist you. I would like to run my blade through a few of those worms.”

Nel smirked fondly at him before she shook her head, “No offense, but I don’t think you’re cut out for undercover work. Best to leave Aquarian problems to Aquarians this time. Besides, if we’re trading favors, then there’s something I want you to do for me.”

“Oh?” he intoned with interest. “And what might that be?”

“It’s the Dragon Brigade- with Vox gone and no one to lead them, they’re getting a little unruly. We need someone strong to control them and make sure they don’t try to start another war in honor of that vile snake.”

“No,” Albel growled instantly. “I refuse to take command.”

Nel eyed him critically. She figured he would say as much considering that he wasn’t willing to take command of his Black Brigade again. Unfortunately for him, the king reinstated him anyway, without his knowledge. Though it wasn’t as if he really needed to lead them during peacetime- they just needed someone as captain in title and to sign off on documents.

“What makes you think I wanted to ask you to take command?”

“Because you’ve been talking to Woltar and I’m sure the old man told you that the head of the Nox clan was always the leader of the Dragon Brigade. I lost my chance to become a dragon knight nine years ago and a captain without a mount is useless to the brigade.”

“What about the Marquis? Is he not your mount now?” the spy queried in a cool tone. Nel couldn’t begin to understand how the Ascension of the Flame worked or what was needed to impress an air dragon, but she felt that something did happen between Albel and Crosell while they were flying about Mosel.

“I didn’t earn his respect on my own, so no, he’s not,” the Wicked one replied as he looked away from her. She managed to catch the doubt and uncertainty in his eyes as he did so.

“Are you sure? I seem to recall the Marquis insisting that he wasn’t helping us ever again before he left. …And yet, you managed to get him to fly you over the desert. You might’ve earned his respect when you visited him a second time,” she suggested with a shrug.

“But he wasn’t that cooperative- he was only interested in finding out about the light beams in the desert and then abandoned me as soon as we made it back to the ruins,” he argued with a shake of his head.

“But he didn’t leave you to die out in the desert- he left you in an area where you could easily get back on your own. I fought against him, too, but I doubt I could’ve gotten him to do me any favors- and if he was that concerned, he didn’t have to go with you. He could have gone on his own,” Nel pointed out, trying to keep a smug tone out of her voice. She felt like she was onto something and that she was right about it, but she could also sense that Albel wasn’t taking her information too well.

He tried to keep from snapping at her as he clenched his fists and glared at anything but her. “Just what are you trying to imply, woman?”

“I couldn’t be anymore clear, Albel. I think you have impressed the Marquis on your own and you are worthy of becoming the new captain. Why is it so hard for you to accept that thought?” she wondered as she tried to get closer to him. Albel whirled around, appearing very furious.

“Because I-” he began to shout before he gritted his teeth and forced himself to calm down. He then lowered his eyes to the ground. “I don’t want to talk about it, Nel… Not yet.”

The spy tried not to sound disappointed as she let in a deep breath. She was pushing it with him and decided to leave it at that. It wasn’t too long ago when she had to address a few painful memories herself. “Fair enough… But please do think about it- if not you, then at least pick someone worthy enough to take over. Most of the Dragon Brigade has been poisoned by Vox’s lies and I fear what they could do if left unchecked.”

He was silent for a long while before he finally replied, “…Fine. You deal with those despicable merchants and I’ll take care of the Dragon Brigade.”

“Deal,” she agreed as she held out her hand to him. He only stared at her hand from the corner of his eyes and refused to move. She bit her lip and wondered if Glyphians didn’t shake hands when making a deal.

“I would like to think that we’re not doing this as favors to each other. You and I aren’t tainted by politics so we’re free to work solely for the sake of the common maggots.”

Nel lowered her hand as she thought about it. He had a point- the only reason they were asking each other to help was so that their people would benefit in the end. This was Albel’s way to prevent war- without being limited by diplomats and greedy nobles.

“I suppose you have a point,” she said before she hid a smile. It seemed Albel had a lot of good ideas when it came to rebuilding and maintaining a kingdom- no doubt things he learned as a child. It was times like this that she could see why the citizens of Airyglyph looked up to him despite his tough outward appearance.

Albel turned to fully face her with a grin playing upon his lips. He was about to say something else, but both warriors tensed when they felt something strange in the air. They both glanced down into the arena when they head an unusual noise. Suddenly, a familiar light appeared, followed by a body forming. The Elicoorians followed their instincts and quickly hid before they were noticed, then a moment later Nel recognized the face she saw before she ran behind the column with Albel. Was that…Fayt?

She risked glancing around the corner to confirm her suspicion and found that it was indeed the blue haired boy. But what was he doing here? Soon, more lights appeared to reveal Maria, Cliff, and three other people she had never met before. They were all staring at a something in front of them, appearing both determined and grim. Nel couldn’t see past a certain point so she carefully wandered to the other corner where Albel was glancing down at the scene.

At first there was nothing there, but then more swirling lights appeared. The spy’s eyes widened and her jaw clenched as she recognized the figures- the Vendeeni! Just what was going on here? A split second later, more figures emerged, this time regular humans. They seemed to be bound at the wrists like they were prisoners.

It didn’t take Nel long to figure out what was happening. Judging by the poised weapons and the presence of what looked to her like civilians, she could tell that this was a hostage exchange. But who was Maria and the others exchanging? She didn’t see any Vendeeni prisoners on their side…

There was a final flash of light behind the Vendeeni, showing some strange metal box with unusually shaped pieces attached to it. She could only see Fayt and Cliff from her point of view and they appeared shocked to see the device…whatever it was.

“What’s that?” she could hear Maria shout.

“A transport jammer!” Fayt replied before Nel shook her head. Even with a name to describe it, she had no clue what that meant or what it was supposed to do. All she could pick up was that it was bad news and the others were not happy to see it.

Of the three Vendeeni present, the one in the middle seemed to be dressed differently and had a unique presence about him that gave her the impression that he was some leader. He made his demands in a rather conceited tone and the spy was soon able to figure out who was the bartering tool- Fayt. She didn’t understand why Maria would use the boy like that, but she had a feeling that things were not as they appeared. She could tell by their stance that they weren’t sure what to do next. Perhaps it wasn’t really their intention to give the boy up.

“No! Run!” the female hostage called out. For a moment, Nel thought she recognized that voice, but she couldn’t quite place it in her mind. No sooner than after the words left the girl’s mouth, shots were fired and the three unknown men behind Maria were killed.

“No!” the blue haired girl cried out before she glared venomously at the Vendeeni leader. “How dare you!”

“Take the boy alive. Kill the rest!” the leader ordered to his men before a fight broke out between them and the off-worlders.

Fayt and the others seemed to be holding their own against the invaders, which was a good thing since the spy didn’t think she could be of any help to them. She still remembered the pain of those disruptor rifles the enemy carried. Suddenly she felt something on her hand and she glanced down to see Albel touching her briefly.

“Quickly- while the maggots are distracted!” he whispered in a hiss before he broke off into a run.

“Huh?” she muttered as she followed after him. She soon realized that he was trying to lead her to another hiding spot to better watch the scene below. They ran to the middle of the parapet to the flat pillars that were located directly behind the strange ‘jammer’ machine. Albel hid behind the right pillar while she remained near the left one. By the time they were settled, the battle was over with the off-worlders victorious.

“Seems you underestimated us,” Cliff declared boldly as the hostages ran over to his side.

“It would appear so,” the remaining Vendeeni replied, sounding strangely calm for someone who seemed to be on the losing end. Nel watched as Fayt embraced the girl and as the elder man watched over them. She assumed that the hostages were Fayt’s father and close friend and felt some happiness to personally witness them being reunited again. The spy soon had her confirmation that her assessment was right when she caught Maria giving Dr. Leingod a side glare as if she couldn’t stand to be in his presence.

The blue haired girl then shook her head and turned her attention to the Vendeeni leader. “The tables have turned, Biwig.”

‘Biwig’, as he was called, began to laugh before he revealed that he wasn’t as defenseless as they thought. The off-worlders were stunned when several metal creatures appeared and began to move. They reminded Nel of the Greeton machines that mecateers controlled. Cliff soon told everyone to run away once the sheer number of the creatures was too much for them.

“After them!” Biwig yelled out before his troops began chasing after them. “Don’t let them get away!”

Albel and Nel watched as more Vendeeni soldiers materialized and began to head into the inner depths of the training facility. A small number stayed behind with Biwig to guard the transport jammer. The spy glanced at Albel when he tried to quietly catch her attention and then pointed to a stairwell that was in front of them. She nodded to confirm that she got the message and waited for him to make his move first. The stairwell was as long as the distance between the two pillars and the entrance was closest to Albel.

He had no trouble climbing down without being notice down below in the arena, but she had to wait until she was sure he was out of the way before she jumped down the end she was closest to. She grabbed onto the edge and hung there for a moment to determine how far a distance she would have to drop. She had to flail her arms around to balance upon landing, but otherwise that was one of her more smooth landings after a rapid escape.

At the bottom of the staircase was a stone hallway that was lit by several torches. She later learned that near the corners were doorways that led back outside so one could travel the walkway above the arena and reach the main hall where the Black Brigade troops used to gather for meetings or assignments. Albel’s chambers were also somewhere in that area. But where they were was fairly closed off- no one should be able to see or hear them from outside.

“I doubt the worms would come looking around here,” he told her in a quiet tone, preferring to not take chances.

“I would think so,” she agreed as she risked a glance at the rectangular hole that above them. “I wonder why they came back here?”

She understood the situation enough- they were trying to get Fayt’s family back, but she failed to see why they chose to come to Elicoor, let alone the training facility. She was under the impression that Maria didn’t want to interfere with ‘underdeveloped planets’ (a term that Cliff taught her) and would rather try to avoid getting them involved again.

“To cause trouble, naturally,” the Wicked One scoffed, trying to sound annoyed. “Those fools can’t help but attract danger towards them.”

Nel crossed her arms and grinned behind her scarf. She could easily hear that fond undertone in his voice and knew he was a little happy to see them again as well. “You missed them, too, didn’t you?”

Albel’s eyebrow twitched a little as he suppressed his shock that she figured it out. He instead turned away from her and denied it. “Bah…”

It wasn’t so much that he ‘missed’ them- he was glad that he had a second chance to challenge them to a fight and prove once and for all who was the strongest. Nel wasn’t fooled one bit, but she focused instead on the current situation. Fayt and the others needed help, but what could she do against the Vendeeni?

“There must be something I can do,” she muttered to herself as she rested her hands on her flanks and glanced up at the opening again. Albel closed his eyes and thought it over.

“Those are the same creatures that injured you, right? It would be foolish to rush in and attack them.”

“Yeah…I know,” she replied before she absentmindedly rubbed at the scar on her arm. There were too many soldiers and too many of those disruptor rifles to avoid. Before, she had the off-worlders to use as shields since they had better armor against their weapons, but now, she was defenseless. “But if I could just aid them in some way… maybe destroying that ‘jammer’ object would help. It seems to be hindering them somehow.”

“Perhaps,” he muttered noncommittally before he wondered, “But why is it your problem? There’s no need to risk your life for them, nor are they expecting you to.”

“I want to help them. I never properly thanked them for what they’ve done for me and my country- so this could be my chance to repay them.”

Albel slowly shook his head in mock disappointment. “How is getting yourself killed a form of gratitude, death seeker?”

Nel glared at him. Why was everyone getting on her case about her lifestyle? What if the off-worlders died if she didn’t help them? And who said she would die?

“I’m not going out there to die. It could be an outcome that I am ready to accept, but that doesn’t mean I want it,” she replied bitterly, “I wish you would understand that at least.”

“I don’t care how you wish to live- I will simply make sure that you always come back alive. You should know by now that I will be the only one to kill you should the situation warrant it,” he told her as he rested his gauntlet on the hilt of his sword.

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes at his declaration. It didn’t sound like he understood her at all, but then she caught the tiny smirk on his face before he strode past her and stopped at the foot of the stairs.

“There were five maggots standing guard- including that leader of theirs. If we were to eliminate three of them we could stand a chance against the remaining two.”

“We?” the spy blinked before she gazed at him in surprise. “You’re going to help?”

“You think I would let you go alone? Either way, this is my turf and I’ll be damned if I let some off-world invader take it over. Those maggots will regret coming to our planet,” he muttered darkly. She realized then that maybe he understood her after all. He wasn’t berating her for being reckless- he was trying to tell her that she needed a better plan. Hearing him wanting to assist her actually meant a lot to her.

“Even with two left, it would still be treacherous. Their weapons are like Maria’s blaster and they can hit from a long distance,” Nel warned as she thought it over, “But I suppose it’s better than dodging fire from five of them- there would be one left for each of us.”

Albel nodded, pleased that she was catching on. “I will destroy that device and draw their fire while you attack from behind and take down as many as possible.”

“Am I hearing this correctly?” The spy couldn’t stop herself from teasing him. “Is Albel the Wicked really suggesting a sneak attack? I thought you were above dirty tricks?”

“Heh, this is one time I’ll make an exception. With an enemy this powerful, we need to level the playing field. Besides, you assassins are good at this sort of thing. Our likelihood for survival will depend entirely on your skill,” Albel reminded her in a surprisingly flattering way. He was calling the shots, but he was giving her control of the situation and placing trust in her to ensure the success of the plan.

“I’ll do my best, but be sure to be very careful. Getting grazed by one of those beams is very painful. I don’t want to find out what would happen if they ever get a direct hit,” she informed him before a thought came to her, “I wonder if Fayt and the others will be coming back? I doubt they can run away that easily.”

“I’m sure the fools will be back. They’re not cowards,” the Wicked One said after a light grunt.

Nel agreed with that assessment and suggested, “If that’s the case, we shouldn’t move until they appear. They can offer a second distraction and further divert attention.”

Both conceded that it was beyond foolish to attack the Vendeeni unless Fayt and the others were present. The whole reason they would even consider taking on enemies with higher technological capabilities was because they wanted to help the off-worlders. But should they happen to escape the training facility, then their efforts would be wasted.

They both headed back up to the top and hid behind the nearest flat pillar so they could watch and wait. Nel took a chance to sneak over to the second one when she was sure everone’s backs were turned. This would give her an edge to fully blindside the enemy from behind should Albel manage to catch their attention. After a while, the spy soon caught movement near the entrance to the arena and then breathed a quiet sigh of relief to discover that the off-worlders were still safe and unharmed.

“You’ve fought well, I’ll give you that,” Biwig called out in an arrogant tone as they assembled before him. “However, it all ends here. Hand over the boy now. I will say it once more. Resistance is futile. I can keep calling in reinforcements, no matter how many of my soldiers you defeat. There is no escape!”

Albel climbed to the top of the pillar as the Vendeeni leader laughed. Only Fayt and the others noticed him as he stood high above them all. Nel inched closer to the edge of her pillar, still waiting for her chance to spring out.

“That’s because of this thing, you fool!” the Wicked One shouted out to catch their attention. He then jumped down with his sword drawn and drove it into the device. It shook and let out some smoke before he quickly rushed off to the side of the area, away from them.

“Huh?” Cliff was the first to react before the bluenettes added their own surprised commentary.

“Hmph,” Albel scoffed as he sheathed his katana, “are you still so confident, now?”

“Albel!” Fayt called out happily when he recognized the newcomer.

“Damn you!” Biwig shouted as he raised his disruptor rifle and aimed at the dark warrior. It was at that moment that Nel moved.

She quickly dropped down and immediately swung one dagger across the back of the nearest soldier. Then in one fluid motion, she twirled around and stabbed another in the neck area before she completed her move by slashing him with the other dagger.

“Nel!” Maria shouted in surprise when she noticed her.

The spy was confident that her two victims were dead and moved on to the next- Biwig. The Vendeeni leader was still attempting to target Albel, but the Elicoorian proved to be a difficult target. Thankfully, the remaining Vendeeni soldiers were still trying to gather their wits about them and were no threat at the moment.

It was as if everything went into slow motion as Nel ran towards Biwig with her daggers ready. But her next target was no pushover- he was an exceptionally skilled warrior who was well versed in hand-to-hand combat. He managed pick up her presence and whirled around to face her, narrowly evading her deadly swing. As fast as lightning, Biwig kicked her in the side, then pulled her by the hair to fling her away from him. By the time she recovered, she found herself facing Albel’s direction and heard the click of a rife behind her.

Nel barely registered seeing a line of light pass through her before a searing pain came to her side. She let out a loud scream as the agonizing sensation coursed through her body and her limbs failed her.

“You will pay for that!” Albel roared as he charged towards Biwig in a fury. Unfortunately, the Vendeeni leader still had his rifle poised and fired off another shot that finally managed to hit the Wicked One in the shoulder. He, too, let out a cry of pain before he fell just less than a foot away from the spy.

“Biwig!” Fayt yelled before the enemy started to boast how their sacrifice didn’t matter.

Nel opened her eyes to see the top of Albel’s head before her. He managed to roll over to his uninjured side and pull himself closer to her. She could hear him cursing under his breath over the intensity of his wound.

“I’m…sorry,” the spy managed to force out to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault. “I…messed up.”

“No… I should have… done more,” he hissed out. “I… didn’t want you… to end up like this.”

“…It’s not your fault… stop trying to blame yourself… for things you have no… control over.”

Neither one was aware what was happening around them. As they made peace with themselves over what they thought was their last moments, the tables turned as reinforcements from Maria’s side came to rescue them. Biwig and the others soon realized that there was trouble on their end and made a fast escape.

Nel’s vision was fading fast, but she recalled seeing a blur of blue, brown, and yellow approach them. She then felt herself being held up by the yellow blur as the blue blur hovered over Albel.

“How horrible!” a female voice whispered in sympathy.

“What are you two doing here?” Fayt questioned, sounding very worried.

“What am…I…doing here? …This is…my turf,” Albel rasped out, starting to sound very tired. “You worms…are my prey… I’m not going to let… anyone else have you…”

That was Albel… he had to sound tough to the very end. Nel felt her body getting weaker and realized that her injury must’ve been very severe. She figured that she was most likely not going to survive it, but at least it seemed Fayt and the others were safe.

“I’m glad…. I could help… before…the end. …I never …thanked you…properly,” she let out in a near whisper.

“Hey, I don’t wanna hear any of this ‘the end’ crap from you!” Cliff growled in a panic.

The spy’s vision began to fail her, but she managed to smile some before she lost all feeling and fell into darkness.

It’s strange… I want to see you again, father, but I… I feel like there’s still something I must do…

To the Twenty-Third Chapter (A New Life)


One thought on “22. Dying Words

  1. cheshirewolf says:

    Wow, I like how you tied in the peace treaty and issue with food prices with the eventual merchant unrest in Peterny. (Those greedy, heartless bastards.) Not to mention the fact that you merged the Abel and Nel “rescue” options during the Biwig scene so that the two characters wouldn’t have to be separated. I always figured Nel’s in-game reason for being in the right place at the right time was rather flimsy (just “thinking things out” in heavily-guarded enemy territory? WTF Nelpher?) even though Wendee Lee’s voice during that scene always broke my heart a little. AlNel may not technically be canon, but here it winds up fixing a lot of holes in the canon. XD

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