The countermeasure against these two monolithic foes enacts immediately as Cyrilla, Adrium and Lissa are all both ready and willing to jump straight into the jaws of the enemy. It doesn’t take an order or a war cry or any kind of provocation, these three are ready to play their role in this war. Adrium takes the lead, launching forward with her physical superiority while Cyrilla acts as Lissa’s shield. The upper-class, split between their realization that the head family has appeared and the unexpected charge led by Adrium, find themselves unable to react fast enough to even aim for Lissa.
A loud screech rings out as Adrium impacts a barrier that has been set before the two Hakon representatives. The younger is taken by surprise while the elder maintains an unimpressed look, his nose locked in a skyward direction. That is, until Adrium starts physically tearing through the shield like a thin sheet of ice. Layers upon layers are added to the defence by the now panicking upper-class surrounding the head family but Adrium continues to dig deeper. Offensive magic is cast in an attempt to cease her progress but no spark nor flame do so much as make a scratch on her turquoise flesh. She needs no barrier to defend herself from such haphazard attacks.
The elder Hakon begins to flip hastily through his adorned tome as Adrium comes slowly but inevitably closer. Her eyes are locked on her targets and she is intent on carrying out the promise she made to her mother. Victory is in sight as the enemy’s once condescending aura now reeks of panic. Admist that panic, however, remains just a hint of that confidence. The Hakon father and son, though their movements look rushed, have not given in to the dire situation before them. They don’t fear nor respect Adrium and their self-centeredness is vast, running thick in their veins.
The last layer of the barrier shatters and the elder Hakon reacts without delay. With a wave of his hand he casts a spell far beyond what R.U.N.N. has ever managed to gain access to, one which bends gravity itself to his will. As Adrium goes to make the final leap between herself and the two Hakon, she suddenly finds herself pulled down by the planet itself. The world weighs her down such that not even her mythical strength can help her push through. The brick street below her cracks, crying out for a harmonious snapping of bone. The intensity of the spell is such that Adrium begins to sink as she becomes the centre of a high-gravity crater.
From behind Adrium’s back, Cyrilla analyzes what’s going on. The effect on the immediate area surrounding Adrium tells her that it isn’t some form of binding and that it would be much too dangerous to get close herself. Before finding a solution to that, Cyrilla has to do something about the crowd of upper-class who have a clear line of sight of this whole situation. She pulls Lissa in close to her so the medic can stay within range of her passive barrier as her tattoos glow and a light-blue aura begins to emanate from her body. She presses a hand into the ground and molds the entire street around her, pulling up the dirt and stone below and using it to close herself, Lissa, Adrium and the two Hakon in what is essentially an arena. She fortifies these walls by casting upon them a thick layer of ice, binding all the dirt and debris together.
The younger and elder Hakon both focus their eyes on the runner who has made a display before them. The elder’s face contorts into a sneer of disgust while the younger is taken aback for a moment. He realizes that there’s something familiar about Cyrilla but it’s hard to place.
“I had hoped to catch a runner using this spell,” the elder Hakon snarls, “but it appears you dregs have come upon something quite interesting. Pray tell, exactly what is this creature that finds itself caught in my spell?”
Cyrilla returns a look of scorn. “That’s no ‘creature’, the person you have there is my daughter!” she snaps.
Elder Hakon looks between the two and is actually taken aback for a moment. He realizes something that has gone unspoken among the members of R.U.N.N. for the past eight years, the fact that Adrium looks uncannily like Cyrilla. Apart from coloration and the unique aspects of Adrium’s physiology, she and her ‘mother’ look entirely alike, as if Adrium’s rapid growth came as a result of drawing from the one who found her.
“You!” the younger Hakon speaks up, returning from his own inner world of thought. “You’re the one! The maid I chose all those years ago!”
The memory jabs into Cyrilla like a knife. She never forgot who the younger Hakon was, the one who nearly took away her chance at truly living without a second thought. The words still come to her in nightmares, that childish “you’re the one I want!” delivered with such complete innocence. Said as if there was nothing immoral about going to a store and picking out slaves. Hearing that voice again, different as it might be, still makes her feel sick to her stomach.
“I’ve been thinking about you all this time, about where you went and what happened to you. Father told me that detestable thief took you away, I never would have imagined you would decorate your skin in such a similar way. How disgusting that he would force such a beautiful lady to do such a thing, but fear not! Finally getting to hear how your voice sounds has made me fall in love with you all over again. I am still willing to forgive you and welcome you into our family, is that not an honor?”
Every word from the younger Hakon further fuels the pent-up disgust and rage in Cyrilla’s mind. To her, he represents everything wrong with the upper-class, everything that has driven her determination up until now. The arbitrary birthrights which normalize the shackling of human lives, lives which should be free and chosen. Cyrilla doesn’t care if she has to kill the younger Hakon, this ignorance has to end with him.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Wyatt. You don’t know where this filth has been, I cannot allow it to step anywhere near our home,” the elder Hakon asserts.
“Father, I am beyond the age where I must have your permission. You should have no complaints if I make her my responsibility, yes?”
Elder Hakon slams his foot to the ground, further demolishing the brick path. “You may speak that way to me only once you have proven yourself more competent. I am still the family head for a reason. If you wish to begin proving yourself, then doing away with the one I’ve-… Wait,” he takes another moment to consider Adrium, who has impressively remained on her feet despite the intense gravity.
“… It couldn’t be that you’re from that swamp?”
Cyrilla freezes as those words leave the elder Hakon’s mouth. “How do you know about that place?” she asks.
For an instant, the elder Hakon’s temper leaves him as he breaks out into triumphant laughter. “I see! So that’s why he hasn’t appeared at all in the past eight years. That’s why he isn’t here alongside the rest of you mongrels! That scum took the bait, didn’t he? He went to that swamp and made it his grave! Just what he deserved!”
“But you shouldn’t have had anything that could allow you to-”
“Allow us to what? Know the secrets of this continent? Know all the things that were found by the original settlers? How ironic that you dregs would look down upon us when you don’t know the half of what we, the head family, have stored away. Allow me to enlighten you on how little you know, that swamp is not the only one of its kind. Fabula has many particularly dangerous areas that are all marked by unique discoloration. These places were such that not even the original settlers dared explore them, thus they were only scarcely documented. If you had even considered such a thing then that lowly thief may not have walked into it so easily.”
“His name is Draego! You call him a thief but he was a hero, he’s the reason why I’m here and I’m going to destroy this class divide in his name!”
“You speak so proudly and yet you fail to consider how hypocritical you are. You think you can hide behind this shield of morality when all you’re doing is trying to prove that you’re better than us! That fact is the reason why he’s dead and it’s why this uprising will fail, whether you win or lose this battle.”
“Losing isn’t an option, we’re going to win and we’re going to change Echor for the better!”
“You claim such things and yet you refuse to acknowledge the very nature of humans. Whether you realize it or not, we as a species are constantly trying to find ways of proving that we’re better than each other. We’re locked in an eternal contest where even the most mundane of things can become a part of the game. Without even thinking, we’ll jump at the opportunity to talk about how we can do certain things better than other people can! We, the upper-class, just so happen to be the current winners of this game. Nothing will change if we lose today, you’ll just become what we are now!”
“You’re insane! We’ll never be anything like you!”
“Oh, but you already are! This little game of morals that you play is only proof of that, you’re just trying to prove that you’re better than us in that regard! You’re trying to control us just as we currently control the lower-class. Certainly, the hierarchy will shift if you win, but it will never crumble! Things will always be this way, with some standing atop others, with winners standing atop losers! It’s just a case of how much you’re willing to accept that!”
Lissa, after having been lost for a good half of this conversation, finally speaks up. “We won’t accept it. Not even in the slightest. That’s how we’re going to change things, by rejecting this ideology that places one above others. It’s true that some are better than others at certain things, it’s a fact of life that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. In most cases, there’s even going to be someone better than you at the things you’re best at. That doesn’t make anyone’s personal accomplishments less important. Individual strengths and weaknesses are what makes us all unique and it’s why we should all have the chance to figure out what our strengths are. The reason why we’re able to overcome you upper-class with so few numbers is because we’ve all had the chance to find those strengths. We’re the potential of what society can be and it’s with our victory that Echor will be given the chance to reach its own potency.”
“Flowery words but the end result will be the same. Suppose you do manage to create a society in which everyone can play to their strengths, a hierarchy will still form. Some will still be better than others and the best will be the winners. All you’ll do is make it more difficult to reject, we cannot run from our own nature.”
In the midst of this verbal stalemate, Cyrilla finds herself suddenly sinking as the once-solid earth below her softens and takes on the properties of quicksand. With her quick reactions she attempts to pull one foot upwards but it feels like trying to pull away from still-solid ground. She looks for the source of the magic and quickly notices an ethereal glow emitting from the tome of Wyatt Hakon. She has a teleport prepared, she made sure of it before this war started, yet she is bound to the medic behind her. The elder Hakon clearly isn’t slow despite his age and if she leaves Lissa exposed for even a moment she’s certain that he’ll make a move.
As she considers what the best next step is, the earth suddenly and violently quakes for but a moment. Fissures form from the now tens of meters deep crater that contains Adrium before the earth shakes again. More wide cracks split the street apart as the quakes continue in a rhythm, like footsteps. In fact, not just like footsteps, as Adrium pulls herself up from the crater and back into view the four onlookers realize that they are footsteps.
“You are an infuriating man. You talk about being the winner while giving off a horrendous stench of smugness that makes me want to puke. You talk about people trying to be ‘better’ than each other when you have no idea what better is. Someone like you…”
Adrium escapes the high-gravity field with one last eruptive step.
“Needs to learn what true superiority is.”
After this statement is made, fate takes a turn away from the path anyone expects. Neither elder nor younger Hakon have any ways of stopping Adrium, though her hands do not reach their throats. What comes after Adrium’s words is a roar, one carried on a gale wind that passes over Echor. A calling loud enough to stun any humans in the settlement and familiar enough to trigger some kind of instinct inside of Adrium. Her attention slips away from the Hakon representatives, her frenzy utterly distracted. Another rhythm begins to be heard, as if continuing the one set by Adrium’s steps. This one, however, is not sung by the quaking earth but instead by a progressively intensifying wind.
It is the beating of wings. A turquoise light envelops Echor in its entirety as the sun reflects off of an airborne, turquoise body. Tremendous and reptilian, a beast the likes of which none in Echor have ever seen. On the day of uprising, fate has brought a dragon upon the decisive battle.