Fynn’s face hurt.
He felt the blood dripping from his chin, the burning sensation that slipped up his cheek and over his ear. He wasn’t sure if he still even had an ear, but that was the least of his concerns. Ahead of him stood three Yunai, each of them larger than anything he’d ever seen before. One of them held a bloodied scythe. His blood.
They were fast. He was tired.
His armor’s glow had faded in the last few hours.
“Your kind will never win,” the lead Yunai said, stepping forward and lowering the scythe so close to Fynn’s face that he could smell his own blood on the blade. “Death is all that awaits you.”
There was a gasp, a painful gasp, and then the Yunai furthest back collapsed. There, protruding from his chest, a crystal blade. A volley of arrows dropped from the sky, littering the body of the second foe, who barely had a moment to writhe in agony before falling still.
“You’re wrong,” Fynn said, standing up so that the scythe rested against his breastplate. “We will win. We will defeat you and the Yunai will finally be undone.”
The Yunai pulled back his weapon, ready to take Fynn’s head from his shoulders, but before he could swing, those same crystal blades came down, digging into the enemy’s collarbone on either side of his head, slicing a deep “v” shaped pattern into his chest.
The demon fell back, and when the dust settled, Fynn saw a dark figure standing atop the fallen enemy with his weapons back in hand, their blades to their side.
“Are you okay?” the figure asked.
“I’m alright,” Fynn replied, finally having a moment to reach up and grab his ear. Thankfully it was there. The blade just missed cutting the top half from his body.
“The cut on your cheek is deep,” Ailyn said, appearing at his side before he noticed she was nearby. She was a Shadowspeaker, filled with dark magic and corruption, but still a kind soul at heart. She made him uneasy, but as she blotted his face with a damp cloth, he couldn’t help but feel thankful.
Nearby, a young Musfurin was rummaging through the Yunai’s belongings, muttering obscenities as he moved from corpse to corpse.
“What are you after?” Fynn asked.
“I’ll know it when I see it.”
A small light began to glow and the pain in Fynn’s face subsided. The power of the Luminary One had touched him. He turned to see that Ailyn had stepped back, and now the a fellow paladin, Kaiderra, was using a spell to mend his cut.
“Thanks for that,” Fynn said with a smile.
“Of course,” Kaiderra replied.
“Well I don’t know about you, but these Yunai seem stronger than most. It must be working.”
“I hope so,” Fynn replied. “If we can draw some attention away from Bellulan, Iliera and the others will be able to start their assault.”
“What are we after in there anyway?” the Musfurin asked, brushing his pants off before stepping over toward the others. “This whole planet is Yunai. We can fight them anywhere.”
“It’s not about the Yunai,” the dark figure atop the felled demon replied, stepping down and coming toward them. “It’s about something much bigger than that.”
“Are we gonna blow it up?” the Musfurin pressed. “I haven’t seen a good explosion for some time!”
“I don’t know for sure,” Fynn replied. “Iliera said it was important. The whole unified army is ready for this one. So we need to keep doing whatever we need to do until—”
There was a pop and fizzle in the air, and the group turned just as I, Sionis Sepher, materialized out of thin air. I turned to face them all and gave a sly grin.
“It worked,” I said proudly. “The Yunai army is moving more troops out of Bellulan.”
“What happens now?” Fynn asked.
“The assault,” I replied. “We’re going to start moving our troops toward the staging grounds. By the time they realize what’s happening we will already be in position. This is it, everyone. It’s happening.”
“A’right, well beam us up then, yeah?” the Musfrin asked.
I waved a hand and a portal snapped open in front of them. “All aboard.”
When Fynn stepped out of the portal, Iliera was the first in line to greet them. She wrapped him in a big hug and looked him over for a moment, her smile vanishing when she saw the scar running up his face.
“What happened?” she asked. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he replied. “Just a little cut.”
“It was huge,” the Musfurin said as he was stepping through the portal. “The boy could have lost an ear!”
“I’m fine, mooooom,” Fynn said jokingly. “I’m a big boy.”
“I am not your mother.”
“I know, I just… nevermind.”
Iliera pursed her lips, then gave him a gentle smile. “I’m glad you’re back.”
“Me too,” Fynn replied. “I’m so tired.”
“You fought well,” another soldier said, stepping through the portal. “Your rest is deserved.”
“Thank you,” Fynn replied, smiling at the stranger. “You deserve some rest too.”
“I do not require rest.”
“Well, I will have his then,” the Musfurin piped up. “I’ll be needing it for the big fight.”
I was the last one through the portal, closing it behind me before taking a moment to brush off my robe. I was dressed in battle regalia, something I hadn’t worn since the assault against the Traveler that we had used to get here. “That’s everyone,” I said to Iliera as I stepped forward. “All extractions were successful. Our troops are lined up and ready to go.”
“We’ll be moving the Burning Vengeance into position soon,” she replied. “Are you okay?”
“I’m great. Ready to end this.”
She could see we were all nervous. I always got nervous before these kinds of confrontations, but this was a much bigger deal. The day before our final battle on Xernia, I had nearly come unglued. A brave and powerful fighter, but a victim of anxiety nonetheless. Now we were going to actually fight the Yunai?! At their home base?!
Meanwhile, young Fynn stood tall, looking exhausted, but still filled with the energy of youth that made him so endearing.
“Okay then, everyone,” Iliera said proudly. “Rest up. Eat well. Tomorrow we’re going to the gates of hell.”