"Helyna!" Rakurai shouted, almost impatiently, casuing his girlfriend to freeze. He put his hands on her shoulders and shook her gently.
"Just tell me what's going on," he said.
"... It's better if you see with your own eyes," she whispered. She dragged the young man through the many broken and battered alleyways and turns of Hikari, until at last the castle (or rather, what was left of the castle) came into view.
It was covered in ice.
As Rakurai and Helyna joined the already blooming crowd of onlookers, he noticed that about a hundred imperial soldiers, all dressed in the trademark Ukanlos armour and weapons, stood in lines in front of it, impassive, as if to guard the colossal structure. From the mass of grey-white bodies came three authoritative looking people. Two were dressed in Alatreon armour, one male and carrying an Alatreon Revolution, one female and wielding a Dark Claw "Demise". The woman's irises were milky-white, like all the other imperials', and her ruby lips were curled into a thin, forced smile, as if she had somewhere else to be and was disgusted by the sight that faced her. There was no feasible way to tell what the man was thinking or feeling, as his face was hidden beneath the steely, pitch-black exterior of the Alatreon helm. It was these two figures that caught the attention of Rakurai, and Helyna in particular seemed rather put off.
"What is it? You know them?" Rakurai muttered to her.
"Those two... they're part of the Abyssal Sanctum, the empire's elite. Those two, Lux and Tiamat, are among the top."
Like all of the empire's soldiers, Lux and Tiamat had been made into artificial ice Descendants, but Tiamat was also a Descendant of Shinkaiyami, like Altair, and therefore held the power of darkness inside her. For this, she had many nicknames, such as "Shinkaiyami's Disciple" or "Hell's Brainchild", but most knew her simply as "The Reaper of Babylon".
Tiamat raised her arms archaicly. Almost instantaneously, the murmurs of the crowd faded. A sinister smile spread across her face. She stepped forward a little, and raised her scythe-like Long Sword above her head, in a victory-like fashion. Suddenly the crowd recognized her.
"The Reaper of Babylon!"
Tiamat laughed deeply for a few seconds before opening her mouth to speak.
"Human filth... your judgement is at hand," she said. Her voice was deep, and she spoke a little slower than the average person, carefully enunciating each word. "The Abyssal Sovereign will rise again, and this land will be wiped clean so that we may begin anew. You humans are a plague that befouls this place, an epidemic of worldwide proportions. The only way to cure the world of this disease called humanity... is to wipe clean the slate of creation. But until my Father returns, this cannot be done. Thus, by order of the Emperor himself, I will begin Father's noble work... and eradicate the inhabitants of this city!" Tiamat boomed. And no sooner than the words had left her mouth, the horde of imperials rushed forth to attack the crowd of humans, igniting frightened screams and the ugly sound of steel against flesh.
Tsubaki and Arashi had begun to walk away from their home, when all of a sudden, a flare of steel and screaming reached their ears, causing them to turn back to face Hikari. To their surprise, Hikari Castle was laced with ice.
"Imperials!" Tsubaki gasped, grabbing Arashi's hand, pulling him along as they ran back to see what was happening.
Utter pandemonium. Screaming, crying, dying, fighting. Blood, tears and shattered metal mixed in with the ruins, which had been set ablaze with icy-blue flames. Rakurai an Helyna rushed away from the scene, not hesitating to kill any imperial who got in their way. They stopped when they ran into Zwei and Keiin, who had also paired up.
"It's you guys!" Rakurai shouted above the noise. "Where's Shien?"
"He... didn't make it," Zwei said flatly, like it wasn't important. Although, there was a tinge of remorse in the undertone.
"I see... Anyway, we'll talk later. We need to get out of here," Helyna said. As rakurai and Helyna began to run, they stopped when they realized that Zwei and Keiin weren't following them.
"Wh-what're you doing!" Keiin yelled. "We have to help them!"
"No, we have to get out of here," Rakurai said bluntly. "We can't help them."
"But we have to!"
"There's nothing we can do! We have to get out of here while we still can!"
"To go where, Rakurai!? There's nowhere to go! The imperials control every damn city! You leave, and you'll just get killed there instead!"
"Getting killed is better than being slaughtered!"
Suddenly, another voice interrupted the heated argument.
"Actually, there is somehwhere to go."
Rakurai, Helyna, Keiin and Zwei turned swiftly to see Arashi and Tsubaki. Rakurai and Arashi ran to each other hugged, as did Tsubaki and Helyna.
"Where the hell have you been!?" Rakurai said, worried.
"Well..." Arshi began, before Tsubaki spoke up.
"Arashi was going to accompany me to Kasai. I've been told that there are some people there that can help topple the empire. We were going to leave, but then we heard the commotion and came running back. Anyway, maybe you lot should... y'know... come with us," Tsubaki explained, offering them a chance to accompany her.
"Sounds good." Rakurai said.
"I'll come too." Helyna piled on.
"We're staying here. We have to. This is our home. We'll protect it... or die trying," Zwei said flatly, bravery flourishing within him. He approached Rakurai, grabbing his Shadow of the Moon and handing him his own Legendary Fatalis Sickle in return.
"Take it. It's stronger than your blade. You'll be needing it more than I," he said. Rakurai nodded soberly, before he, Helyna, Arashi and Tsubaki ran back the way that the latter two had just come, away from the catastrophe, and, particularly, "The Reaper of Babylon" and her silent companion, Lux.
"Tsubaki... who, exactly, are we supposed to meet?" Helyna huffed, still running, the city gates far behind them. They stopped to catch their breath, turning around, bathing themselves in the cold glow of the blazing ruins they called home.
"I don't know exactly, but... I hope to God that they can help us."
To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom- Interlude: Memoirs of a Lost Soul