Backstories

Index:

Introduction

Sanik, Tyra, Sarge, M

Kinas

Introduction:

There is only so much I can fit into the actual webcomic. While most of this will be stated in the comic, featured in whatever way I can, a great amount of it will remain unsaid, and so, this page is devoted to dealing with the backstory of all the major characters in The Descended.

Note: If you think that this sounds a lot like the plot summary for your typical RPG game…well, then……I’ve done my job. That’s the whole point; it is the style I was going for when creating these intricate backstories. Soano runs on game mechanics; that extends to how the plot is told.

FAIR WARNING--this page contains unmarked spoilers. Things on this page are not spoilers bad enough for me to hide from you, but they are still major enough that you should be warned that reading the below will give away certain elements of the plot.


                     Sanik:

Sanik was born in the town of Faragawa, capital and namesake of the nation Fargawania, which celebrated Four of the Eight Base-Elements: Wind, Earth, Fire, and Water, each with their own distinctive district. The Fire District (militaristic) and Water District (infrastructure) both isolated themselves, but the Earth and Wind districts were freely open to the other, in a constant friendly rivalry with each other. He lived there until an invading army led by an apparent Demon of pure evil (Chaos) laid siege to the city. It was absolutely decimated, and despite the four districts unifying, they were still no match for the army. While the army was destroyed by the intervention of a great hero (Argus), the entire city was lost, and almost all the residents killed off.

Sanik barely managed to survive, having fallen unconscious in the rubble of The Wind Temple (ironically in a cave). When he woke up, he had nowhere to go, and so, he remained at the Wind Temple’s Ruins, where he trained in the art of archery, taking from there a sacred bow which granted him the ability to cast Wind Magic without multiclassing—he was a pure Wind Rogue. Eventually, Sanik left to go adventuring on his own, eventually encountering an Energy Warrior by the name of Celaren (Agent Of Chaos). They did so for years, forming an enterprise of adventuring, and creating a small band of mercenaries made up mostly of former-Fargawan military forces, to help defend towns in need of protection.

The duo continued until Celaren fell ill—he revealed that he was always sick, and that resting at his desert home had generally helped cure him. However, his disease was never as bad as it was beginning to be. Sanik put Celaren in the care of the Naturans (Earth-users) in the Natur Hub, who had the best healers in the nation. He told Celaren that when Celaren was well enough to fight again, he’d find Sanik in Helops, the new capital of the nation Helopia, made up of almost all of Fargawania. He handed reign of his mercenaries to one of their subordinates and—true to his word—hung around Helops, mostly doing the errands and small quests which the villagers there could provide him.

Eventually, though, he met up with Tyra (an Earth Joat), his childhood friend from Faragawa, and they had a friendly spar to find out if they were equals still—they were, as it ended in a stalemate. The two of them joined up adventuring, and became a well-known duo around the area, which attracted attention. Eventually, two rival Martial Artists (one of Dark, the other of Light) were instructed by their masters to work together and defeat the duo. The name of the two? Sinaer and Kinas.

Upon meeting each other, Sanik and Kinas recognized each other as being brothers, and so, the four struck up a bargain: Sanik and Tyra would lose their fights, in exchange for the Martial Artists traveling with them as adventurers. The two reluctantly agreed, and noting they had four opposite elements, began forming an idea, partially based off of his childhood experiences. To that end, they traveled to the Syr Mountains, home of the best Fire Warriors in the land, to see if they could pick up a recruit. They got one—Sarge (Fire Paladin), a former resident of Faragawa, came along after being bested in combat by Sanik and Tyra.

Next, they traveled to W’tyr Lake, where they wished to pick up a skilled practitioner of the Water Element—they got M, a Water Mage, who revealed origins also in Faragawa, who was talked into it by Kinas with Sinaer’s aid. Having obtained six of the eight elements, Sanik decided to travel into the desert and find the home of Celaren, because Celaren had mentioned that his brother, Enlecar, was a skilled Energy Martial Artist.

They found him, tinkering away at a vehicle, where they noted his mechanical skill. He turned their offer down, stating that he didn’t wish to be associated with the man who harmed his older brother. Sanik then asked where he learned to be a mechanic (running his shop in the middle of the desert would not have been the best place to have trained), and he mentioned the name of his mentor: the great tactician and inventor, Voss (Master Joat), of Lejus.

Kinas and Sinaer recognized that name, having known about him through their mentors (David and Ian, respectively), so the group went to their base-city, Helops, to recruit them. The two of them were convinced by their students to tag along, and with them in tow, Voss was persuaded to come along. Once Enlecar saw that they had conned Voss into adventuring with them, he reluctantly agreed to join Sanik’s group of adventurers, but kept his distance from Sanik himself. Having a nearly-complete group, they decided to go to Yeras Wharf, the northern boundary of the kingdom, an icy village next to the mountains with access to the ocean.

It is there that they found Nathan Betrax (Ice Martial Artist), who Sanik initially passed him up on (not seeing much talent in Nathan), but which Kinas insisted on having with them. Their full group of eleven assembled, they adventured throughout the nation, helping it become respected under its new name, expanding its boarders even further than they had gone as Fargawania.

This attracted unwanted attention. When an army of demons wished to invade Soano, they decided to pick a fight with a noticeable target: Helopia. The Elementals fought back, and drove them into their own realm. Sanik performed a Heroic Sacrifice, sealing himself inside the portal to Soano, ensuring the demons would never get through. There, he was lost, until some many months/years later when the group recovered him from a volcano—he was a little bit broken.

It took him a long time to recover, with Tyra’s help, but eventually, the group came back and they stood united once more. Though Sanik had a little bit of a change to make:

He had lost his bow, so he decided to multiclass, into Woodsman.

 

Now with their group back to its former glory, the Elementals became known as the “Elemental Fighters for the Land”, honored as the greatest heroes Helopia had to offer. And once more, this attracted attention. But the threat they faced didn’t start at some distant town, like the demons of years ago and all other threats had. No, this threat attacked straight at the heart of Helopia, just like the force to have destroyed Fargawania: Helops, The Elementals’ main base.

Their leader declared himself “An Agent Of Chaos”, saying his master insisted that he leave as few possible alive, like with the attack on Faragawa—the group put two and two together, realizing that whoever “Chaos” was, he was the one responsible for all the disasters which had occurred. Mid-way through the fight, they were already beginning to lose, when the Agent Of Chaos said his master also gave him permission to reveal his identity—revealing the face of Celaren, now a Dark Warrior. Sanik was horrified what had become of him, and Celaren revealed that he was just fulfilling a promise: as soon as he was able to fight, he would come to Helops and meet with Sanik.

Celaren and his forces were just about to be victorious, standing over the bodies of the defeated Elementals, when Voss and his friends performed a Heroic Sacrifice: their combined efforts destroyed the army Celaren had sent (Kinas’s mentor with Voss’s assistance), damaged Celaren’s armor forcing him to flee (Sinaer’s mentor with Voss’s guidance), and flung The Elementals into a safehouse, at the cost of their levels (Voss).

 

At the new town they were in (called Hidenva), they learned the fate of Helops: identical to Faragawa, it did not survive, nor did the nation of Helopia. And while the army sent was destroyed, their presence tainted the land, making many parts of it inhospitable (including the desert), and basically isolating the main cities. Survivors of the army managed to decimate the cities that The Elementals had called their homes. Some managed to survive, but secluded themselves, sealing themselves away from the world:

Natur Hub was destroyed, but the Naturans managed to live on in the forest, and The Syrians evacuated their homes, moving inside of the mountain into the volcanoes.

Others weren’t as fortunate: The Tyrians were poisoned, and unable to find a cure before they all perished. Revan, the Darkness rival and best hope to recover the nation after Helops, was destroyed from the inside by saboteurs, the departing gift of the army. Without Voss to defend them, Lejus was nearly powerless against so much as these remnants of the army.

The remnants met their final end after having attacked Yeras Wharf—the two sides mutually obliterated each other, ending the threat for good. But at too large a cost. The only city left standing was Wevan, the city of air hovering above the carnage, and after realizing the nation was loss, they moved their city to another nation, abandoning the land for good. All other survivors were in hiding. Most of the land was corrupted.

And the heroes of the land, now half the world away, had been reset to zero, with no means of getting back, and nothing they could accomplish if they got there.

 

Then they got the posthumous message from Voss. He didn’t want this to happen, but he prepared for it in case it did—and gave all of The Elementals a new start. He forged Sanik’s current armor, informing him it was once a suit of an angel which was lost to the same void Sanik was trapped in. Sanik had apparently connected to it, and while Voss wasn’t able to get the suit itself, he managed to build a replacement for it. He also gave Sanik a duplicate of Kinas’s Light Dagger to go along with the angelic armor and (of course) his Wind Ring, among his other gifts.

 

And with this, Sanik became who he is today—the Wind Paladin of The Elementals.


                     Tyra:

Tyra’s backstory is interwoven with Sanik’s, starting off much the same way as his does: she was born in the town of Faragawa, capital of Fargawania. She always questioned why the city only covered four of the eight base elements, and Sanik agreed, thinking it was quite unusual. And how they were far from as united as the casual observer was led to believe: The Fire District (militaristic) and Water District (infrastructure) both isolated themselves, but the Earth and Wind districts were freely open to the other, in a constant friendly rivalry with each other.

Like with Sanik, she remained there until the Demon of pure evil (Chaos) and its army destroyed her home town. She tried to flee the city, along with other refugees, but slipped on the mountain pass, falling unconscious as she hit the rocks. When she awoke, she found what remained was nothing but rubble, and the massive amounts of corpses surrounding her. She realized that the battle was a victory only because the trail of destruction did not continue, silently vowing she would never let such an atrocity happen again and devoting her life to saving others.

To that end, she faced her fears and began climbing the rocks she had fallen down, to the top of a cliff, finding the remnants of The Earth Temple (continuing the irony, the Earth Temple was high above the ground, in the domain of wind). There, she found the priestess there, in her last breaths, about to perish with no successor. Realizing that Tyra was her only hope, she marked Tyra with a tattoo on her left arm, giving her an inherent access to Earth magic.

There, she trained herself with multiple weapons, from bows to crossbows to guns to darts to throwing knives to shurikens to whips, to axes to spears to swords to hammers to maces to daggers to staves…covering all of them, to see their inner workings, to understand how each weapon worked, mastering them all to best understand how to help stop them on the battlefield. Then she did something ambitious: she forged her own sets of weapons. She made a sword to go along with her bow, an axe to go with her throwing knives, and a whip to combine melee with range—basically, giving two light-weapons to pair with each other and two specialized-weapons to pair with each other.

And once she had trained herself in the arts of weaponry, she made sure she was well-acquainted with her magic as well—while she was technically a Joat, the fact that her magic was by gift/inheritance rather than by choice meant that she could (in gaming terms) invest minimal points in there while still dishing out lots of damage. And from here, she decided to focus on healing, traveling to Natur Hub to train in herbal medicines and the like from the local healers. She remained on the staff there for years, becoming one of their best healers due to her extensive knowledge about how to deal with various different types of wounds (intuition) and her gift giving her good instinct.

And there, she remained, until a maddened warrior (Celaren) broke out and massacred the staff which were trying their best to heal him. Driven by rage and pain, he left a trail of bodies as he broke through the forest and ran away—they were fortunate that he ran away from the city, instead of into its center, where he could have done serious damage before being subdued. She was among the casualties, but managed to survive (barely) due to being a little hardier than the other healers, owing to her extensive training. Swearing to track down the warrior who had caused so much harm and confront him, to learn more about him and what to do (whether to kill him for revenge, mercy, spare him and let him suffer, or try to heal him), she left with a small group of her apprentices.

There, she traveled throughout the nation, unsuccessfully trying to find the man, while her group went through several towns and humbly offered their services as healers. She denied any requests to be grounded in a location, or to be ‘hired’ out to people like the mercenaries who were always ending up wounded from their enterprising missions. That is, until she met Sanik (Wind Rogue) in the new nation’s (Helopia) capital, Helops. After their spar (which ended in a draw), Sanik convinced Tyra to tour the capital, and when she looked at it, she decided that she could settle down in the area. After consulting her healers, they gave their advice, that most of them could use the rest as well, and eventually, with all but a few who wished to continue on (ironically the only ones who would live), most of them decided to stay in the city.

And from here, she and Sanik began adventuring together. Their adventuring duo became well-known enough to attract attention, eventually coming into conflict with another well-known duo (though they insisted they weren’t a duo), both Martial Artists of opposite elements (Light and Darkness), Kinas and Sinaer. Sanik and Kinas formed an agreement, which Sinaer reluctantly agreed to, and Tyra (not particularly thrilled with the idea of the fight) agreed to without a moment’s hesitation—Sanik and Tyra would lose, in exchange for Kinas and Sinaer traveling with them.

Now with four of the eight elements in their party, Sanik began forming a plan with Kinas and Tyra, bouncing the idea off of Tyra. Kinas wasn’t sure about it, but Tyra (having realized Sanik’s intentions) agreed instantly, having shared a similar life to his and coming to the same conclusion: that a unified band of adventurers covering all of the elements would be a strong force for good. With some convincing, Kinas agreed, and the four headed off throughout the land to make Sanik and Tyra’s childhood dream come true. First came the Syr Mountains, where they met Sarge (Fire Paladin), another survivor of Faragawa, who joined after Sanik and Tyra bested him in combat. Then they went to W’tyr Lake, picking up the local resident genius, M (Water Mage), who they learned was also a survivor of Faragawa.

Unified in their common pasts so far, Sanik decided to try his luck, traveling through the desert to find Enlecar (Energy Martial Artist). Unable to convince him to come along, Tyra suggested to Sanik that they try and get his mentor, who might persuade him. After learning the name of his mentor, Kinas and Sinaer both brightened up, mentioning that their mentors were good friends of Voss (Master Joat). Since both of their mentors resided at the time in the capital, back they went to see if Kinas and Sinaer could talk the two settled-down men to go back into their youthful days and travel again. To Tyra’s surprise, they agreed. With both of them, it didn’t take much time for Voss to be persuaded, though he associated himself a lot more with Kinas and Sinaer than he did Sanik, Tyra, Sarge, or M.

Enlecar was stunned to see Voss again, and once he realized what they had done, he was reluctantly talked into coming along, on the condition that he didn’t have to associate with Sanik—this unnerved Sanik, but Tyra calmed him down, saying that he’d be fine with Kinas, and that Sanik should trust his brother. Which means when they met Nathan Betrax (Ice Martial Artist) in his hometown of Yeras Wharf, it was she who ended up getting Sanik to take Kinas’s advice and let the young man tag along with them, despite his incompetence and divided personality.

Through several major adventures across the land, their adventuring group (The Elementals) became widely known, and the boarders of the nation Helopia began to expand by quite some margin in large part due to the aid of The Elementals. It didn’t take long for Helopia to become grander than Fargawania ever was, a fact which made The Elementals quite proud to have sparked something so profound. When a demon army invading Soano decided to pick a fight with Helopia, however, things went bad. They proved to be a challenge like none other The Elementals had faced, and at multiple points, the group was on the verge of shattering. But they held together, and with the support of the whole nation eventually unified, they managed to push the demons back, causing a stalemate.

Realizing that the blood and carnage could go on for far longer and cost many more lives, Sanik decided to sacrifice himself for the good of the land, sealing off the demons’ portal, at the cost of him being trapped on the other side. Tyra, while heartbroken, was chosen by The Elementals to pick up Sanik’s mantle, taking over as the leader of The Elementals. She retired her whip, and switched from favoring axe-and-knives to bow-and-sword. And she had to deal with the fallout the demons had caused. While the main portal had been sealed, several lesser portals existed, scattered across the land, each with pockets of demons pouring out. She had to seal them up, while dealing with the politics of the nation, subduing any who planned to take advantage of the weakened nation at the cost of harming others. Bandit raids, demon attacks…

She led the nearly-fractured Elementals through it all, and despite no longer being whole, their heart and soul member having apparently died, they lived on in legend, becoming as grand as ever, with Sanik’s name immortalized as the savior of the land. Once the demon threat was dealt with permanently, Tyra learned from the last demon that their dimension was beginning to collapse, and all the demons within were either immigrating to other demon dimensions, or being killed off by ‘the white angel of death’, guarding the volcanic entrance to Soano.

The Elementals rushed to this volcano, where they found a battered and broken Sanik, desperately fighting off a swarm of demons. When their threat was repelled, ended forever, Sanik collapsed, apparently having seen his mission as being fulfilled, not even remembering anything before he became its guardian. Seeing Sanik in his broken state, she stepped down as leader, handling the mantle to Sarge (who volunteered to take over), while putting herself in the care of Sanik, knowing he needed her both physically (she being a skilled healer) and mentally (her knowing him better than anyone else) to recover.

When he eventually returned (multiclassing to Wind Woodsman), Tyra came back with him, and they met with Sarge, who had been leading The Elementals on in her absence to some grand threat. When people learned Sanik was back from the dead, the threat The Elementals were facing fled in terror, recognizing Sanik and Tyra more than they did the name Sarge. (Though he made an impression of his own…)

Now with their group back to its former glory, the Elementals became known as the “Elemental Fighters for the Land”, honored as the greatest heroes Helopia had to offer.

 

And just when things were looking better than ever…everything went horribly, horribly wrong. An army appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, having not touched any of the cities, not so much as a single village in Helopia, striking straight at Helops. The battle was endless. The Elementals did their part in the fighting, dispatching wave after wave after wave of enemies, battering them down slowly. Their contributions left the fight more or less in a stalemate: Equal casualties on both sides, with Helops slowly gaining the advantage with The Elementals and them preparing themselves.

…Until their leader revealed himself, challenging The Elementals to fight him, all at once, knowing full good and well that he would be victorious over the battered and weakened Elementals. Not having much choice, they engaged. About mid-way through the fight, the leader declared himself to be “An Agent of Chaos”, saying that his master insisted on the strategy he was using, and that he fully intended to leave as few alive as he could, to destroy the heart of the land utterly and completely.

From this clue alone, the group managed to put two and two together—whoever “Chaos” was, he had destroyed their original home of Faragawa, potentially having pulled the strings of the demons and invading armies, but intended this time to finish the job with his own personal force. With renewed vigor, they fought, and the Agent of Chaos was surprised to learn that their rage gave them the strength to match him—despite them having been losing (badly), and weakened severely, they were equals with him, implying that at full strength, they would be winning the fight.

Desperate, he then unleashed his most devastating weapon: he said that his master gave his blessing to revealing who he was—and so he removed his mask, revealing the face of the patient Tyra made her vow on years ago, and was surprised to realize Sanik and Enlecar knew him. This demoralizing blow gave Celaren the edge he needed to win the fight, as with three of their eleven members stunned, Celaren took advantage of the gaps in their defense, pushing them to their breaking point.

Worse, with The Elementals on the verge of being defeated, the defenders of Helops were also being devastated, no longer having their aid and beginning to run low on the supplies they needed to fight. The tide had turned against them, and it was getting worse. Just as it looked like all hope was lost, Celaren gloating over the half-dead Elementals, Voss, David, and Ian—the only three left standing—performed a Heroic Sacrifice: their combined efforts destroyed the army Celaren had been sent with (primarily David), critically wounded Celaren (primarily Ian), and flung The Elementals into a safehouse, at the cost of their levels (all Voss).

The effort cost them their lives, as they died achieving their tasks—David single-handedly leveled three quarters of the remaining army before Celaren took him down, Ian drew into his own lifeforce and used it to attack Celaren while distracted, and Voss was struck down by the wounded Celaren after that.

 

At their new home, Hindenva, they learned the grim fate of Helops: like Faragawa, it fell, along with the nation it was the center of. The army sent had been destroyed, but their very presence had tainted the land, making many locations uninhabitable, isolating the cities from each other. The survivors of Helops almost all died on the roads to other cities. The remnants of the army decimated everything in their path as they retreated, forcing the survivors into isolation—Natur Hub was burned to the ground, with the Naturans fleeing deeper into the forest. The Syrians moved into the mountainous volcanoes, to an unknown fate.

The Tyrians were poisoned and died before finding a cure. Revan, the one hope the nation of Helopia had to recover, was sabotaged from the inside by agents, leaving the army to wipe it off the map. Without their champion Voss, without the support of other cities, and without warning in advance, the city of Lejus was powerless against even the small fraction of the army, destroyed once their supplies ran out. And as a final casualty, Yeras Wharf was their last target. While they managed to defend themselves valiantly, the two sides mutually obliterated each other—the threat was ended for good (at least, that army of it), but they had left a trail of destruction which left a once-prosperous nation as nothing but a barren wasteland. The last city remaining, Wevan, only lived because of its status as a flying city, and they moved to a neighboring nation to let themselves be assimilated, effectively leaving nobody left alive and in sight who would identify themselves as a Helopian.

They were powerless, heroes of a dead nation half a world away from where they should have been, reset, no method of returning and nothing to return to. Tyra’s tattoo had been burned away, leaving her unable to do anything.

 

And then Voss’s message came. He had prepared for everything, no matter how unlikely, including seeing Tyra’s dilemma, offering her a new start. Having lost her weapons during the fight and her ability to cast magic, he knew she would feel powerless, so copied her spear and bow, upgrading them. And to give her the powers she once possessed, he gifted to her the Crystal Amulet. And now with a method of healing again, now armed with weapons again, she became an Earth Rogue, deciding that she would help out in a more passive way.


                     Sarge:

Sarge—like Tyra and Sanik—was born in Faragawa, capital of Fargawania, in its Fire District. Like all residents of the Fire District, Sarge grew into their militaristic lifestyle, learning to fight since childhood. As such, he actually participated in the fight for Faragawa, and got first-hand experience as to the horrors of war. Of course, as a child, he was merely set to defend the inner wall, but the invading forces managed to reach him, anyway, and he took his first lives during that encounter. He was left permanently scarred by a slash to his face, which knocked him into the river of the Water District, the act which inevitable saved his life, as against the Demon (Chaos) of evil’s army, there was little hope and most within perished.

The water current carried him to the sewers. Instead of being caught in the current continuing out of the city, he got pushed up river through the mechanisms of the city, which eventually meant that he ended up above the city, riding the waves back down…and over a waterfall. And when on the way down, back to the city, he woke up, to see the carnage he would be destined to go back into. He survived the crash into the water by pulling himself onto the inside of the waterfall—where he found…a temple of Fire. And there, he found a Fire Sword, which he trained himself to use skillfully, finding it had some inherent access to Fire Magic.

And here he vowed not to let the horrors he had seen befall him or any others—he might fight, like any good Warrior would, but never would he stoop to such lows like his opponents had. Never would he let another take advantage of things like that. He would become a voice of reason in a community he feared desperately needed his voice. He left, to go to the place he figured other survivors of his kind should go, with vengeance likely in their hearts: The Syr Mountains. There, he found them, bloodthirsty and in chaos. They were warmongering, and risked destroying the nation of Helops beginning to form.

Sarge’s solution was very simple: he challenged people to one-on-one combat, and defeated opponent after opponent. Savvy enough to know what would happen: many he would defeat would come to call him friends. Many more would swear to defeat him in battle some time in the future, making themselves rivals to him, but basically become harmless. Still more others would wish to take this further, betraying their honor and seeking vengeance through cheap tricks: and in their combined focus, they would come to all hate a single person, Sarge, rather than everyone around them.

The solution quickly pacified the town, at least, as much as one can pacify a town bred for combat. Almost everyone in the Syr Mountains came to respect him, as their great warrior. Any of his rivals who insisted on maintaining their honor and to try and defeat him in one-on-one combat, friendly enemies, would focus any of their negative aspects towards Sarge, and Sarge knew that many of them would become allies on time. Basically, Sarge employed “Defeat Means Friendship”. And those who he didn’t befriend who became his rivals, he knew that most of them were friendly and would rather save Sarge than see him killed, which would eventually allow him to turn them to his side as well. Leaving only the dishonorable left to deal with.

And those dishonorables would all focus on him, rather than dream of something more ambitious, like conquering the land. It worked perfectly. His only true enemies became hated by everyone, and they found that no matter how much they tried, Sarge could not be killed, so they had to try again and again. It worked, until Sarge’s sword was stolen by one of his foes. It was a shock to the Syrians, but Sarge didn’t let it slow him down. He asked not for a new sword—no, he’d retrieve his sword himself. He asked for a Fire Bow to be forged for him, and the Syrians, being in the top three forgers of equipment (the other two being Helops due to David and Lejus due to Voss), gladly gave him one.

It was no Fire Sword, but Sarge (with a class change to Woodsman) managed to adapt. There, he engaged on his long quest to defeat the man who had stolen his sword, Volcan Hellphes Tustarmva. Volcan’s second-in-command was also an archer, a Giant Darkness Rogue named Titanus Forgul Enshadu, and Sarge found that—despite working for the worst of Sarge’s dishonorable foes—Titanus was actually a pretty honorable fellow. When Sarge defeated Titanus, Titanus even gave Sarge some tips on how to beat Volcan, and Sarge let Titanus live to fight another day.

During his climatic fight, Sarge gathered all the magic within his Fire Bow and spent it all, to shut down the Fire Magic within his sword. Volcan, having lost his ability to cast magic, thought that the ground would be equal or even favor him, since Sarge lost his ability to use Magic as well. But Sarge was a better swordsman than Volcan (hence Volcan’s need to be dishonorable in the first place) and even using a Bow was able to outmaneuver Volcan with simple knowledge of technique. And unlike Volcan, who was mediocre with his weapon, Sarge was actually a good bowman. While no master archer and preferring/excelling with a blade, Sarge could more than hold his own with the Fire Bow, making the conclusion of the fight inevitable: Sarge got his sword back.

He was going to let Volcan live, but Volcan made a final attack to Sarge, and ended up impaled on Sarge’s blade by his own recklessness. And with Sarge now in possession of his Fire Sword, having cut through most of the dishonorables and their leader now dead by his hand, the Syr Mountains became their most peaceful in centuries. (Sarge, however, missed his ability to use Fire Magic, and therefore multiclassed to Paladin. Understanding his situation, the Fire Warriors of the nation still called him a Fire Warrior, despite him technically not being pure, anymore.)

They still fought, of course, but nothing deadly—and it’s in this blissful state that The Elementals found him, basically having become the de facto leader of his town. He was hesitant to leave, but after being bested in combat by Sanik and Tyra, he was honor-bound to follow them. He bid his people farewell, and joined their adventuring team, realizing that there wasn’t much he could do, anyway—the Syr Mountains were relatively peaceful. While Sarge had driven them to be more peaceful, the peace wasn’t dependent on his presence. It would have been before Volcan’s defeat, but without Volcan and his like, the drive to eliminate Sarge was gone.

Still, he needed to appoint a leader, and chose…of all people…his largest rival to take his place—he was savvy enough to know his largest rival would be the second-strongest, and would act nearly identical to him, making him a good safeguard for the Syr Mountains, which—while part of the nation Helops—had a lot of independence, making them effectively a whole state, a mini-nation he felt needed guarding.

 

Sarge objected strongly to the people of W’tyr Lake, noting them to be his polar opposites, cold and logical, to the point of disgust. But he did recognize that variety within their group was good, and knew two of him would be worse than one of him and one of someone opposite of him. M (Water Mage) was their best magician, having gotten to be into their highest ranks through clever application of spells, manipulating others to M’s advantages. Sarge hated the underhanded nature of M’s tactics, but endorsed M in the end because he knew that M was the best Water user they’d find, much like he was the best Fire user. He was not surprised to learn of their common tie to Faragawa, recognizing M’s mechanical and careful attitude as a signature of the Water District.

After that, they traveled into the desert, where Sarge felt fairly comfortable in the heat, reminding him of his homeland. It was him who helped guide Sanik in the direction towards Celaren’s home, where Sanik found Enlecar (Energy Martial Artist). Sarge recognized the look of a jaded warrior instantly, advising Sanik to use caution and that Enlecar was a broken man. Sanik did his best, but in the end, failed to sway Enlecar. It was his idea to ask about Enlecar’s nature as a mechanic in the desert, and Sanik followed it through, getting the information they needed to potentially sway him over.

Sarge was present for the whole stream of recruits, from Voss of Lejus to David and Ian in Helops, where Sarge was beginning to feel at home in. It didn’t take long for their stream of traveling to come full circle and to get Enlecar into the group, leaving them with only one gap in their elemental circle: Ice. Sarge was initially unimpressed with Nathan’s (Ice Martial Artist) attempt to join the party, just like Sanik, when they traveled to where he himself thought they’d find the most skilled Ice practitioner: Yeras Wharf, in the northern section of the country.

His apathy soon turned to dislike, when Nathan became underhand in his tactics to get in. The act impressed Kinas, and eventually, Nathan was allowed in. And in their first adventure as a whole group, Sarge witnessed Nathan going berserk, the hatred within him growing even stronger: not only was Nathan playing underhand (the very kind of tactic from Warriors Sarge spent years shutting down), he also showed the exact kind of rage that Sarge had been subduing in his mini-nation. But like with M, he grew to accept that Nathan—while despicable—showed promise. While Nathan frequently screwed up and was slightly incompetent, Sarge recognized it was due to inexperience, with Nathan not only the youngest, but also least experienced fighter in the group, and that when older, that Nathan could become the most effective fighter of them all.

Several adventures later, The Elementals were renowned throughout the land, and Sarge was no longer a name known only to the Syrians. And that meant trouble was bound to come to them, as Helopia became a greater nation than Fargawania. It came in the form of a demonic army invading the land. They started appearing in random villages throughout the nation, mostly in towns that happened to be in the middle of nowhere.

When they got serious, they launched their invasion throughout the land, but the hammer fell hardest on the Syrians, with Sarge several times considering breaking off from The Elementals to defend his homeland exclusively, but realized he couldn’t do so without putting Helops, his other home, and by extension, the whole of Helopia (which the Syr Mountains were a part of) in danger. By a thin thread, The Elementals and by extension, the whole nation of Helopia they represented managed to hang on by a thread, stretched to its limit but not snapping. Eventually, Helopia managed to unify, like never before, to drive back the demonic threat, and it didn’t take long for their counteroffensive to push the demons back to their home realm, yet they couldn’t eliminate the threat.

Until Sanik sacrificed himself, sealing himself off by closing the portals with him on the other end of them. Sarge helped Tyra recover, pointing out to her what she would normally point out to Sanik, that they needed to move on. Sanik’s effort helped stop the main invasion, but Tyra had to deal with the other access points in the nation, while dealing with the now-shattering nation of Helopia which had lost its unification with several factions emerging to take advantage of the crisis. Including dishonorable warriors that Sarge had sworn he put down.

His was just one of many quests they undertook with their leader Sanik dead, and several times the group had to be divided in their adventures to accomplish multiple goals at the same time—Sarge always stuck by Tyra, to keep her sane, leaving Kinas with the others. When the apparently-last demon portal was sealed, the last demon commander in the land revealed that they had invaded out of desperation—their dimension was beginning to collapse, and with the invasion failed, their resources spent, the degradation had accelerated exponentially, with all demons either immigrating to other dimensions or being slain by ‘the white angel of death’.

It didn’t take long to figure out who the angel of death was, and that he was guarding a permanent portal to Soano, which Sarge deduced was a volcano in the Syr Mountains. The Elementals rushed to the volcano, and there they fought off the final swarm of demons, a last invasion to be crushed by their group without the aid of an army. After their victory, Sanik collapsed, having forgotten everything about himself other than that he was to guard the portal with his life, and that his objective had now been fulfilled, allowing him to die. Tyra barely saved his life, and knew she had to step down to take care of him. Sarge put away his Fire Sword and took out his Fire Bow, volunteering to become the team’s leader.

 

During her absence, Sarge continued dealing with politics: at first, it was putting down the last rogue groups left pillaging throughout the lands, but eventually, it grew to mercenaries hired to specifically cause damage to Helopia—and it didn’t take long after that to deduce that they were under attack. This time, from their rival bordering nation to the northwest, Aqiria. And Sarge had to face off against their invasion, once more unifying the nation of Helopia against a threat they barely recognized as existing, making it difficult for the blunt-and-to-the-point Sarge to deal with.

But he managed it all the same, leading the ragtag bunch he had gathered against the invading armies—it helped that he was mainly defending his homeland of the Syr Mountains with a little bit of defense to Yeras as well. He even got along with Nathan during this period, as he was afterall the leader, having to put aside his differences. But the invading armies pushed back his defenders, piercing into the land, and sacked W’tyr Lake. Most of the Tyrians survived, but now he had to deal with (and sympathize for) M, in a silent rage. When the Qirians threatened Helops, however, Sarge finally got the support he needed, driving them back to the border.

And then he launched a counter-offensive, intending very fully to pierce into the capital of Aqirus. There, he met Titanus, now defending Aqiria, and the two again fought. When he was defeated, he revealed that Sarge’s invasion was a trap—the Qirians let Sarge launch an attack from the Syr Mountains to leave Yeras Wharf vulnerable. Sarge sent Kinas’s group to defend, while he had to organize a retreat, as the Qirians drove his forces back. The Elementals (Sarge, M, David, and Ian, in this case) stayed behind, 300-style, to support their retreat and offer a diversion of their own to The Latens (Kinas, Sinaer, Nathan, Enlecar, and Voss, in this case) to rush to Yeras Wharf.

They managed to survive, barely, buying the time necessary to get back to the defensive in the Syr Mountains. The Elementals’ second group requested aid, and they united to defend Yeras Wharf from the siege, but were unable to hold back the Qirians, and had to evacuate the Wharf. The Qirians slowly pushed inward again, having broken the lines, and looked like they would soon capture the Syr Mountains as well, despite Sarge’s Syrian forces fighting to the bitter end…yet this is when Sanik returned. The very rumor of his presence inspired the Helopians to fight back, and The Elementals themselves had to do very little before the Qirians retreated, asking for a truce.

 

When Sarge entered negotiations, he expected that he’d get to restore the old boarders their nations had. He knew he had gained enough of a reputation to get that much. But the Qirians actually gave land to Helopia in their peace treaty, fearing The Elementals more than ever before. And here, Sarge stepped down. He went back from being a Woodsman to his normal Paladin self, letting Sanik take his rightful mantle as the leader of The Elementals. And from here, they continued adventuring, now heroes of the land like never before, the saviors of Helopia.

They were the “Elemental Fighters for the Land”, the ultimate heroes of Helopia, banes of all evils. But against the next threat which their reputation attracted, they were unprepared for, powerless to stop the events to unfold.

 

An army attacking directly at Helops, something Sarge horrifically remembered having happened to Faragawa. He had failed in his goal, but could still salvage it if Helops was saved from the attack. They did their part, fighting harder than ever before to save their great city, their new home, from defeat. Every resource the city had available, even those never meant for warfare, were devoted to the cause, and it looked like that with the aid of The Elementals, that the day may end in victory.

The battle was slow and painful, almost equal on both sides, but as the Helopians began to gather their strength (as had happened many times before when their city may have been threatened by invasion) and with The Elementals on the field of battle, it was steadily—albeit at a turtle’s pace—turning in their favor. Then the leader of the army revealed himself, “An Agent Of Chaos”, he said, a mere General of a single invading force, revealing his orders: leave as few alive as possible.

He challenged them, “leader to leaders”, to fight all-against-him, knowing very full and well that they had no choice but to accept and would no longer provide support to their troops—exactly as planned, especially considering The Elementals may not have won in their weakened state. They fought on until he revealed his status, as not a true leader, but merely the representative of his leader. And Sarge was filled with rage, for the first time succumbing to his violent bloodthirsty nature—Chaos was the one responsible for having destroyed Faragawa. And while Helopia had managed to outgrow Fargawania, most of the troubles they had gone through would never have happened under Fargawanian rule. All his pain and suffering were due to a single mysterious man, who he knew nothing about.

Beginning to push him back, potentially winning the fight, the Agent Of Chaos revealed he was bidden to show The Elementals who he was—Sarge didn’t care, but the revelation shut down Sanik, Tyra, and Enlecar, and with this advantage, Celaren was capable of pushing the off-guard Elementals back to the brink. And along with them, the city of Helops was beginning to break as well: their defenses were weakened, ready to crumble at the slightest hint of despair, which they had for the first time ever. Spirits and supplies at an all-time low, the army of Chaos was ready to wipe Helops off the map with one fell swoop.

Until David, Ian, and Voss performed their Heroic Sacrifices, saving The Elementals from being finished off by Celaren and leaving virtually nothing left of the invading armies, at the cost of their lives.

 

Sarge in Hidenva was devastated to learn what had happened to Helops: it ended just like Faragawa. Most of the residents had been killed in the fighting, with the survivors attempting to flee, and with the capital city destroyed, Helopia fell into ruins. Yet unlike with Faragawa, there were no heroes left to help clear the way. The lands remained corrupted, and the refugees almost all died before getting to another city. Communication between cities was cut off, isolating them into their states.

The land became tainted. Much of his nation was inhospitable, and most of the Syr Mountains became unlivable to his hardened army of warriors, with the Syrians fleeing to volcanoes to an unknown fate. They weren’t the only survivors—Natur Hub was destroyed, with the Naturans moving deeper into the forests, isolating themselves from the world. And Wevan, the flying city, could not be touched, eventually migrating to Aqiria, where they were accepted along with the few surviving Helopians who managed to get out of the major cities before their grim fates.

The Tyrians were poisoned. Revan, Helopia’s one hope of recovering (as Revanus), was destroyed from the inside, defenses obliterated by spies and others in Chaos’s network of deception. The army killed everyone within, leaving none alive. Lejus barely had enough time to get their defenses up, having no advanced warning, and with so little preparation, they could do very little to fight back. They held out for impressively long, and the attempts at destruction from inside failed. It looked like they might make it, but they had no backup, no support coming for them—no heroes to break the siege, no supplies to come in, nothing to break the assault. They starved, and their defenses were breached through atrophy.

Yeras Wharf met its end by wiping out the army—at the cost of themselves. Mutually assured destruction was inevitable, and they did in fact destroy each other. The few civilians who survived the final onslaught of Chaos’s army fled to their bitter rivals’ nation, with nothing left in Helopia. Technically, The Elementals won. The army had been destroyed, their leader critically wounded and out of the picture. History recorded it as a victory for the Helopians. But no sane man would call the fate of Helopia a ‘victory’; it was destroyed, and its defenders were reduced to mere shadows of their former selves.

 

He had lost both his Fire Sword and his Fire Bow. He had nothing. Until Voss delivered his posthumous message. He knew this could have happened, creating safeguards to ensure that if it did, not all hope would be lost—perhaps for Helopia, but not for The Elementals and, potentially, the world. This was a fresh start, allowing them to begin again at their roots, to help define who they are, while acknowledging who they were. For this, he created Sarge’s armor (helmet included), intentionally styled in the traditional look of the Syrian Army, a look Sarge had never personally had. And he gave Sarge a shield to fit with his goal: to help defend others by his might, to keep things in check, passively aggressive. And his final gift to Sarge was of course a brand new Fire Sword, reforged…to allow casting of some Fire Magic.

Voss sadly acknowledged that he could not give Sarge any of his strengths when he was a Rogue, but that he didn’t think Sarge needed them, anymore. His role as Rogue represented him as a leader—he was a leader when he first donned the class in the Syr Mountains, and he was a leader when he took up Sanik’s mantle. And now that The Elementals are who they are, he figured that Sarge wouldn’t need to take up the mantle of leader ever again—he had done his duty, he had performed his best, and deserved to have his goals achieved through proxy, rather than directly.

 

And Sarge was fine with this, accepting who he is—the Fire Warrior of The Elementals.


                     M:

Much as with the rest of The Elementals as they are to this day, M was born and raised in Faragawa, capital of Fargawania—obviously, in the Water District. The Water District was responsible for much of what made the city what it was: it dealt with the infrastructure and police force of the city, and were among its best defensive fighters on the walls when the attack happened. They were for the most part cold and calculating, as a necessity to their jobs—they needed detachment to work effectively: police can’t afford to sympathize with criminals, and engineers need to evaluate things from an artificial standpoint to prevent human biases from kicking in.

M was no different, among their most gifted calculating minds, and was destined to be one of the best in whichever field M chose to go into. Until, of course, the attack on Faragawa. During the battle, M was caught in the chaos, forced to the front line as an improvised police force, despite the lack of training in the field. M decided when things went badly that it would not be an ideal career choice to be a warrior, though M considered being a rogue once M managed to calculate the inevitable: the battle was hopeless, and the only chance for survival was escape. So M fled from the battle, yet was pursued.

M was apparently struck down by the army, but managed to survive, barely, and crawled deeper into the city. Eventually, M stumbled into the heart of the infrastructure the city had: ironically, in a place of molten fires, where the heart of the city burned, giving it the heating. And in this eternal flame was hidden…a temple, where M found healing waters to sustain M while M recovered. In said temple was also a staff—the Dragon Staff, a mighty staff of water, granting M a near-endless array of Water magic, both standard and non-standard, giving M a huge advantage. M trained and mastered the arts of Water Magic, and set out to use them to further M’s growth.

M found a home in the form of W’tyr Lake, where the friendly inhabitants were open to M, vastly different than what M was used to seeing from Water specialists. They accepted M, and let M slowly take control of basically everything, setting M up as the ruler of W’tyr Lake, and their most powerful Water User. There, M remained, training further and slowly researching many subjects, where M began to master the lake itself, becoming in unison with it, the guardian of a place M initially had no attachment to—showing a great deal of character growth. M had gone from coldly detached from M’s home to being ready to defend it to the death, as M had grown quite accustomed to M’s home and had grown quite fond of its people, now considering it M’s true home.

The feeling was mutual: the people in W’tyr Lake had slowly grown to be more like their protector, M. While their colder demeanor detracted their once-plentiful visitors, it allowed their city to prosper. They as a whole shifted their focus to becoming more tactical, becoming a city of geniuses. They remained open to all who vaguely had the same interests: the brightest minds would be able to study at their temples, and all who worshiped the water element would be free to be at the lake. In that way, they remained the same. But their attitude to those not in that category had as a whole changed. While not hostile, they became indifferent to visitors, to contrast with their earlier open-ended attitude.

M was extremely hesitant to leave the city M had helped redefine in only a few years. In fact, The Elementals didn’t even know who M was, at first. It took a friend of M who was still friendly to outsiders to get to M, and even when they did, M did not wish to leave M’s associates. It was Kinas and Sinaer (Light&Dark Martial Artists) who in the end helped convince M to come along. They did so by pointing out how M could only learn so much from the city, and if M wanted to grow any further, the only way would be to adventure outside the city. And in the process, the city would still grow while M was away, whereas with M present, they might stagnate since M could only take them so far as their guardian.

M saw the logic and agreed. It took a little smoothing over with The Elementals, but soon, the Tyrians were willing to let M go with them. (As a side-effect of M leaving, the Tyrians became a little more like their old selves, more open to visitors, but still maintaining slight distance in that they didn’t treat them as friends unless they got to know them. Which typically they only did with water people and intellectuals.) Once M became a member of the team, M proved M’s worth quite quickly, not only saving the group several times in their encounters, but also giving them suggestions as to their direction. M, Only Sane Person at the time, was the best prepared for the desert, and was pivotal in them making it to Enlecar, the Energy Martial Artist.

And once there, M was able to immediately deduce that—as things were—they did not stand a chance of convincing Enlecar, but suggested they figure something out so that the trip would not have been unproductive. With the right questions asked, they determined it was Voss (Master Joat) of Lejus that they needed. M was impressed—though Voss was more into the magic of science than the science of magic, M respected a fellow intellectual legend, recognizing Lejus as an inspiration, despite their different paths.

Despite this, Voss was not that pleased with M. Voss was open to everything, while still pursuing his similar ideals to M, whereas M was closed off to most things, still mostly analytical in approach. M was understandably disappointed by Voss creating the distance that he did, but actually took the advice to heart, and over the course of their adventures, began to open up further, becoming more and more like Voss, with Voss slowly beginning to accept M.

Enlecar was recruited, and when the group traveled to Yeras Wharf, they hoped to pick up a skilled Ice practitioner. It was M’s idea, and Sarge was (to the surprise of Sanik, among others) quick to agree, as was Voss and Kinas. Like with the rest of The Elementals, M was not too impressed with Nathan Betrax (Ice Martial Artist), and passed him up when he tried to get in. However, Nathan eventually got his place in the group, when he managed to basically outmaneuver M (who was caught off-guard and said to Sanik that M couldn’t think of a way out of letting Nathan in) and secure his place on the team.

M was not too pleased with Voss, who M (correctly) deduced could have stopped it, but chose not to. By then, however, Voss was beginning to try and make sure that The Elementals were doing most of the work, not him, David, and Ian. After explaining his motives to M, M reluctantly agreed that it was a good idea to let the core Elementals work with mere assistance from Voss, David, and Ian. With this understanding, M began to take a more active role, whereas Voss became less and less involved—the opposite of what it had been before, where once Voss joined, M was basically shut out of the tactician position that earned M the spot on the team.

After several adventures, however, M began to suspect something, consulting with Voss—and was mortified to learn that Voss had concluded much the same, and his answer to “what to do” was, “Honestly…I don’t know. I’m not hiding the truth from you, M, hoping you’ll find it, or if not, reveal it only at the last minute. I…really, truthfully…don’t know. I’ve talked about it with David and Ian, and they can’t help me, either. I’ll try to do something, but I’ll need your help.”

When the demon invasion started, M was pivotal in coordinating their forces, and M’s specialty was put into play: manipulation. In this case, M had to manipulate the people of Helopia to unify, and had to use underhand tactics to achieve it. While Voss told M that he was not happy with M’s approach, he sadly admitted that it was probably the most effective way which would result in the least casualties—but warned M once more that it would still cost them.

“You saw it even before I did, M. Which means you knew the conclusion before I did. That there was nothing we can do. I’m still trying, but the best percent I can give you is 5. And even then it’s a long-shot.”

M’s loyalties were put to the test when the Tyrians were under threat at the same time as Helops was during a coordinated attack against cities. Sanik was terrified that they would lose M when M was needed the most, but M smiled, looking at Voss:

“You place too little faith in my people, Sanik. They are tough, they are clever and cunning, so they will survive. They may need the aid of others, but that aid will not be required until long after we are available. There is little I could accomplish going back home that would not be best done here instead.”

M was also calculating that due to their unique predicament, that even if M’s words were false, that in the long-run, saving Helopia was more important for the greater good than saving W’tyr Lake.

M restrained Tyra before Sanik made his move, anticipating the sacrifice before it was made. M sadly noted to Sarge, “…I’m sorry. There is no other way. We tried. But I failed. We can do nothing but watch.” And after this, Sanik declared his intentions, moving away from the group.

With the deed done, the group needed to deal with the fallout of the demonic invasion. Among others, W’tyr Lake had fragments of Wevan to be removed from the Lake, the debris of the half-destroyed floating city in need of care. It took a long chain of events for them to purify the location, but noted that the region might be vulnerable to being poisoned again in the future, should a similar invasion reach them. When The Elementals heard of the ‘White Angel of Death’, M smiled, saying to Tyra first, “Looks like 5% was more than enough.” That alone was enough for Tyra to figure it out, and with Sarge supporting, they set out to find where their fallen leader was.

When Tyra stepped down, M fully endorsed Sarge as their leader, and offered assistance to Sarge in their quests. When it came to the raids, M was quick to deduce the malevolent intention of the raids, and warned Sarge, “Demons were nothing compared to what we’re about to face. We’ve got war to deal with, against a whole nation of people like me. I calculated the odds of victory, and Voss said mine were optimistic. Demons were child’s play compared to this.”

 

Sarge took it to heart, and they did everything they could to fight the new threat: the Qirians, of the nation Aqiria. Sarge needed M more than ever during this time, recognizing that his blunt attitude was not the best suited for unifying a whole nation against their rivals, masters of manipulation. M however was quite confident that Sarge was in fact just as equally suited—if not more—than Sanik would be, and in fact had full confidence that Sarge would prove in the end victorious despite the odds. Sarge pointed out M’s earlier ‘optimistic’ prediction, and M admitted that the casualties would be astronomically high, and that the nation would be left weak, and that they may lose much, but that yes, they would survive. M was of course, for the first time, actually bluffing. Voss saw through it and asked M why, to which M said that the odds of victory would be raised if Sarge thought the odds were greater than they actually were.

And to which, M admitted to Voss. “I realize the odds are not good, but I want to believe that sometimes, the numbers can be wrong. That sometimes, despite what we predict, things turn out better than we ever could have hoped for.”

And to which, Voss smiled to M for the first time. “There’s not much I can teach you, M, now that you have learned the most important lesson of all. Never forget that, M.”

Despite M’s optimism, the grim reality was that they were overwhelmed. The Syrians several times were pushed back and lost, despite fighting in their home, easily-defensible, mountainous terrain. The Qirians pushed so far in that they burned the city of W’tyr Lake to the ground, and M was shaken, unable to comprehend how much had just been lost. M burned with a fury no other could equal, not Nathan, not even Sarge, and Sarge could see it—M kept a calm, cool demeanor, even more so than normal, on the surface, but underneath, M was burning with rage that M’s home had been destroyed. Sarge had to point out to M that most of the Tyrians survived, due to M’s wisdom, because they realized they were outclassed and retreated, giving the Qirians virtually nothing from their sacking of the city, leaving them tired and exhausted all for nothing, and that it would not take much to rebuild their home.

The incident set the tone of their fight: things were grim, and the nation of Helopia was on the verge of collapse several times, especially when the Qirian army went to attack Helops—M said, however, to let it happen, and to trust M. Sarge realized what M was doing: Helops would not fall. Rather, Helops would be attacked, and gain the support of everyone in the nation once more, and with this unity, the Qirians were driven back to their boarder.

M warned that their victory was only temporary, and that if they didn’t do something to strike back, the Qirians would return, stronger than ever, more determined and adapted to Sarge’s tactics. Voss agreed, but warned that he couldn’t help but feel it was a trap. Sarge considered Voss’s advice, but in the end, concluded, “They might win in either case, but given the choice between waiting to do nothing and losing, compared to striking back…I’d rather go out fighting.”

M reluctantly agreed, and the counter-offensive almost reached Aqirus, until he confirmed Voss’s worse fears: it was a trap, to lure Sarge’s forces away from the now-vulnerable Yeras Wharf. Now trapped behind enemy lines, Sarge had to organize a retreat, and Voss said that it was suicide to stay. M, however, disagreed, saying that it’d be worse for them to leave. They stayed behind to support the retreat, offering a diversion of their own to get the rest of The Elementals (the future Latens) away from the fight.

It worked, and as predicted, they survived—David and Ian had to take more active part in the battle than they would have preferred, but against all odds, they survived to reach the Syr Mountains. Half-dead and weakened, they had no time to rest before being called to Yeras Wharf. This is what Voss was truly afraid of: The Elementals were too weak to fight the invading armies off, meaning that their stand (while heroic) ended up costing just as many lives as it saved, by weakening The Elementals when they were desperately needed.

Yeras Wharf fell to the invading Qirians, albeit after an evacuation. Voss’s prediction ended up wrong, in the end, due to Sarge’s stubbornness and unwillingness to retreat until everyone had been saved—where he found the unlikeliest of allies, in M, not wanting a repeat of W’tyr Lake. They retreated to the Syr Mountains, where they prepared to make what M calculated would effectively be their last stand: if their line at the Syr Mountains fell, nobody would have enough strength left in them to fight back. All of their resources would be expended, while the Qirians took free reign.

And in this last stand, the Qirians were on the verge of victory. Many Syrians fell to the Qirians, and the Helopians as a whole had a mere fraction of their army left to fight back…and then, Sanik made his return. With him on their side, the Helopians made a come-back, a second wind which drove the Qirians back. The Qirians for their part were terrified by the name alone, a mere legend they had hoped was false. M let the rumor spread like wildfire, and signaled that the time was right to strike up a truce. Sarge, sick of all the fighting, agreed, and was quite amused to realize that with all his allies, he had done far better than anyone could have expected. Except, of course, for M, who saw it coming where even Voss could not.

Now, The Elementals were in full swing as the saviors of the land, helping the war-torn nation rebuild itself, and within a couple years, everything was back to normal: the nation had fully recovered, bounced back from the brink of oblivion, and in fact was now more powerful than ever before, with The Elementals—still adventuring as normal—the ultimate symbol of hope for the land, more than M could have ever dreamt of being.

 

The Elemental Fighters for the Land, High Heroes of Helopia, the Saviors of Civilization, were at their peak during this time, the bane of any evil. M was proud of M’s accomplishments, but eager to keep on going. With the nation in peace, adventuring seemed a tad bit tame compared to what they were used to, but the change of pace was an acceptable one which was welcomed warmly by everyone, happy to do what effectively amounted to little more than errands for people they encountered on their travels: exactly how they had started.

 

It was a fitting end, but that end was not what anyone had anticipated, not even M.

For it was the end of their lives, the end of their age, the fall into darkness soon to come, because M could do nothing against the next threat attracted by their prowess: An army launched a surprise-attack against Helops, striking at the golden heart of Helopia. M had a suspicion, based off of the horrifying memories of Faragawa, but put the suspicion aside to focus on the task at hand: survival. Save Helops, and nothing else would matter.

M helped coordinate their defensive plan, for what little time they had to muster before chaos overcame them, and M was one of the main reasons they got organized to fight back—M had to manipulate them into it, but the end result was a trained defense, rather than chaotic militia. It looked like it was working. M did a lot of fighting on the front lines, this time not afraid, this time without wishing to run away and hide—no, M was a hero, a proper one, who had grown so much; M could barely remember the M who had once existed.

With Sanik’s leadership, the tide eventually turned in their favor, due to all of Sanik’s allies, among them, M. And all was good…until the leader of the army revealed himself, the “Agent Of Chaos”, a simple ‘messenger’ of the evil to spread, not the orchestrator of the scheme.

M calculated that they had less than a 40% chance of victory against him in the best of circumstances, but there wasn’t much of a choice. When the revelation of him being a mere general was made, M decided to go all-out and do more than M’s part in the fight, to do work that would make Voss envious in its complexity, for M realized that M’s suspicions were dead-on: the true mastermind of the plot had destroyed M’s first home, and M would not rest until that evil had been destroyed. That evil had harmed their land for so many years had set the demons which ended up tainting W’tyr Lake, which provoked the Qirians which killed many Tyrians. That evil which M knew nothing about, but which M knew needed to die.

And the revelation which followed was one M had grown blind to, which M knew M would have seen had M had a little more distance from The Elementals M had grown fond of—something M should have seen all the way back when they met Enlecar, if not earlier, had M been paying attention to the facts rather than to The Elementals. Celaren revealing himself when M did not expect it shook M up, and left them vulnerable to Celaren’s massive counterattack. And with The Elementals on the verge of collapsing, so too was the city of Helops worn out. With M distracted, M could not rally them like M normally would, and they caved in to despair.

And only then did David, Ian, and Voss step in to act, having stayed out of public eye, not having fought while Voss planned, for Voss had seen what M could not have, that this was going to happen.

 

He saved The Elementals just before they were finished off, and his comrades managed to similarly decimate the invading army and cripple Celaren, but the cost was that they all paid their lives for their deed. It Got Worse. In Hidenva, M learned the fate of Helops, and by extent, Helopia: a repeat of Faragawa, only without heroes around, since when Faragawa fell, they still had plenty of protection despite their weakened state—not so this time. Most of the residents died fighting, and those who survived abandoned the city, almost all perishing on the roads to other cities they hoped to take refuge in.

This set off a chain-reaction of events so horrific that M could never have in M’s darkest dreams forecast such a fall. The land was corrupted; roads became too hazardous to travel, and all cities became isolated from each other. Some like the Syrians and Naturans survived the destruction of their main cities by fleeing deeper into their namesake terrains, mountains and forests. The rest of the land wasn’t so fortunate.

The Tyrians, M’s people, were apparently poisoned. No survivors were known, and everyone there was presumed dead. They tried to find a cure, putting the best and brightest minds to the task, channeling everything they had into it, but the illness claimed their lives before they could succeed, and nothing could prevent it—their vulnerability had returned, with a vengeance. Revan was obliterated internally, torn apart by a network of spies working for Chaos, and the survivors were wiped out entirely by the remnants of the army not destroyed at The Battle of Helops.

Lejus suffered a similar fate, starved to death, their defenses slowly atrophied into oblivion, and had no chance to fight back, forced on the defensive until they simply ran out of supplies. When nothing remained to defend Lejus, even the pathetically-small army was enough to wipe Lejus off the map, meeting zero resistance, since Lejus had received no aid…after all, who was left to give it? Yeras Wharf ended the threat permanently (at least, that army of Chaos), but at the cost of themselves, as the destruction was mutual: Yeras Wharf destroyed, most of its inhabitants slaughtered, what little army it had killed fighting the army, the city basically in ruins, similar to Helops. Yeras Wharf served as the ultimate expression of what had transpired for The Elementals—they had (technically) stopped the threat, at the cost of themselves. Helopia was gone. All surviving Helopians who got out of the major cities before their grim fates fled to their bitter rival nation Aqiria, where they were accepted along with the whole city of Wevan, which survived by being untouchable.

They “won”. The army was gone, destroyed. Its commander was critically wounded. But that was no victory for Helopia. Its defenders had been reduced to shadows of their formers selves, and M knew it.

M had lost M’s Dragon Staff. M had trouble remembering the spells M had spent years mastering, and those that M could use wouldn’t work, not as M intended them to. M was…helpless.

 

Until Voss gave his posthumous message. He said that the only reason M didn’t see it coming is that M didn’t have hundreds of years dealing with similar experiences, which Voss did—and even then, he had trouble figuring it out, and didn’t know the exact details. All he knew is that it was possible—just possible, not even he was certain—that this would happen, but in the unlikely scenario that it were, he created safeguards.

 

And he basically flat-out said to M that M was his secret weapon to help save the world from whatever evil they may face. M, along with the rest of The Elementals, would be pivotal in ending whatever threat it was which claimed his life; he was sure of that much. M was the only person he didn’t tell to start at their roots, because he knew already that M would do so, that M would define M, and acknowledge the M which had just died. Voss did kick things off with a Dragon Staff, nearly identical to M’s old one, but not quite as potent—while lethal with standard magic, Voss told M that non-standard magic would require the Wand of Amplification that M was also given. Voss also through in some scrolls, for spells that not even M had learned before.

After this, Voss gave M a personal message: “I trust you, M, more than you will ever trust yourself. Understand the implication behind that, and you’ll be worthy of my true final message to you. But for now, I’ll give you this much, as an appetizer: you have the potential to match me, M. Don’t think you are lesser just because I saw what you did not. You have that potential; you can do what I did. Never forget what I said, M.”

Despite this, M wished to create distance. M returned to M’s roots as a cold, calculated individual, believing that M getting too close to M’s teammates was what blinded M to the situation which they ended up in. “Maybe someday, Voss, I will be that person, who is as great as you. But no. Not today. I am not you, and I never will be you. I am not even sure I will ever be the person you wish me to be. Right now…I need to be this, the thing you did not want, because that is what we need, whether we like it or not.”

 

And that was how M got a rebirth into who M is today: Virtually identical to M’s old self, the Water Mage of The Elementals, their personal tactician and their driving voice of logic.


                     Kinas:

Kinas’s story starts much the same as that of Sanik: born in Faragawa, he was raised with his brother until the attack on their city. In the midst of the battle, Kinas was left for dead on the field, and Sanik was left believing his little brother had died horribly in the ensuing chaos. Obviously, that was not the case. He was rescued by David Smith, a Light Martial Artist, who adapted Kinas as his apprentice and planned eventual successor. They adapted the home town of Helops, the rival city to Revan. A great hero (Argus) who defended the city of Faragawa during its invasion was chosen to settle the dispute on which city would inherit the Fargawanian legacy. He declared Revan to be better for defense of the nation, and with it as the capital, the nation would never fall. Helops, however, was the better choice for an economic nation, and in the end, that is what was chosen, much to David’s glee and Revan’s defenders’ chagrin.

It was during this time that he met Sinaer, who was also a resident of the city, rescued by David’s rival, Ian Oman, a Darkness Martial Artist and the guardian of Revan (though he stayed in Helops most of the time once it was declared the capital). As such, the two masters strongly discouraged the two from interacting with each other, but of course, that didn’t stop them from frequently meeting and talking with one another. They were in fact quite friendly with another, and had little interaction with others—while David and Ian both interacted with others as part of their jobs plenty, and both Kinas and Sinaer were at least taught social interactions, both David and Ian didn’t want Kinas and Sinaer to get sidetracked from their training, which friends would have done.

So they relied on each other, instead—much to their mentors’ mutual chagrins. They even worked together when they were supposed to be competing against each other on missions, commonly working to achieve the goal together as a team rather than as individuals as they were supposed to be doing. As a result, they grew stronger far more quickly than their mentors had anticipated, both of them becoming quite skilled in their arts by cooperating, exceeding the standards which had been set for them. On the one hand, their mentors both were glad that Kinas and Sinaer were learning at an early age to work with others, and become part of a team, skills they’d need, but both mentors—especially David—warned their students that it’s easier to learn how to be part of a team after having been solo than it is to learn to go solo after having been part of a team: hence their real reason for disapproval.

“What would life be worth without companions?” Kinas had asked in response. David was quite proud of Kinas for realizing that traveling alone would leave them empty—something he knew all too well—but had to force him into solitude.

“What will happen when you are powerless when you’ve lost your companions, or worse, lack the strength to save them?”

David made a compromise with his student: “Five years, Kinas. Give me five years with you, alone, no interaction with Sinaer, to teach you what you need to know. Then I won’t stop you.”

It worked. Five years later, Kinas and Sinaer began competing against each other again. Sinaer took things harder than Kinas, becoming more distant from him, trying to keep things more professional—they legitimately were fighting with each other, fairly often. But despite this, they still cooperated when needed, a fact which Kinas was quite glad of. Slowly, their training was completed, with them steadily becoming more dependent on each other once more, fighting less and less often, and when they got the chance, frequently enjoying their time together. As their final test, they were to fight each other, but because they knew each other so well (and a mutual dislike of the idea of hurting the other), their fight was a stalemate. And as an alternative challenge, the two mentors offered their students a challenge: beat the new adventuring duo which had appeared in David’s home city, Helops.

And when they came face to face, Kinas recognized Sanik instantly. As they fought, Kinas and Sanik struck up a bargain: in exchange for letting Kinas and Sinaer pass their test, Kinas and Sinaer would come along with Sanik and Tyra and form an adventuring party, The Elementals. Their mentors were not amused to learn of it, but accepted that they had technically completed their challenge, and that their training was therefore finished, freeing them to go out into the world, on the condition that they occasionally stop by their home cities, as their new protectors.

To complete Sanik’s idea of an adventuring party, their first stop was the Syr Mountains, where they met Sarge. Kinas and Sinaer felt a little uneasy—they’d interacted mainly with the people of Helops and Revan, unlike Sanik and Tyra, who had not limited their interactions to a select town, both having traveled throughout the land well before they had met up. As such, they let Sanik and Tyra deal with Sarge, while they got accustomed to dealing with different towns, watching Sanik and Tyra’s interactions and trying their best to figure out how to blend in. It paid off, naturally, as by the time The Elementals made their next stop, Kinas and Sinaer were interacting with the new locals just as much as—if not more than—Sanik and Tyra were.

Despite the difficulties of the locals, Kinas and Sinaer managed to strike a chord with them, the two of them understanding their attitudes and getting closer to the locals than Sanik and Tyra could. It was Kinas who got through to M’s friend, L, and after L opened up to them, M was quick to follow. Sanik let Kinas and Sinaer talk things out with M, and eventually, they convinced M to come along with them. When they traveled into the desert, Sinaer felt miserable, but Kinas was there to comfort her, feeling strangely at home, much like Sarge. When The Elementals had difficulty with Enlecar, Kinas and Sinaer stopped to have last words with Enlecar, after he relayed his story and extreme dislike of Sanik.

While their words were reasonable, and Enlecar sympathized, he closed himself off from them, asking them to leave with Sanik. They do so, and after that, the group discusses what to do—when the name Voss of Lejus is brought up, Kinas and Sinaer simultaneously lit up, pointing out to the group that both of their mentors had mentioned Voss multiple times, and while never explicitly admitting it, strongly had implied that they had adventured together at a time, and were most likely very good friends with him.

At Helops, they revealed their mentors, who had been unknown—The Elementals knew David simply as “Smith”, the town’s smith, and Ian as “Old Man”, someone who had given Sanik and later Sanik with Tyra multiple quests to complete. Kinas convinced David, while Sinaer convinced Ian, and the two agreed to talk Voss into it as well. Voss was quite surprised to learn that David and Ian had students, who he quickly deduced were intended as successors, and Kinas could tell that Voss was a little bit disappointed—he clearly had none of his own, nobody adapted as a surrogate child.

Sinaer felt it as well, and the two did their best to bond with him closely, sensing his feelings, and he welcomed them with warm arms, glad to have them there to support him. With Voss quickly agreeing to come along with them, he proposed a few improvements to The Elementals, and offered to guide them. Kinas was all too pleased to accept, and Sanik was just as eager to be assisted by such a legend. Enlecar wasn’t quick to come along once he realized what had happened, but again, Kinas offered Enlecar to stay with them, as Voss had encouraged the group to have a little division, so that when needed, they could split up and accomplish multiple tasks in an orderly fashion, but would still by default be a single group.

When they came to Yeras Wharf, it was Kinas who ended up convincing Sanik that Nathan Betrax should come along with the group, seeing in him a certain talent that escaped most of the others. Sanik—while hesitant—trusted his brother’s judgment, and Nathan became one of Kinas’s companions, along with Sinaer and Enlecar. While the group continued to adventure as a whole, eventually, the need to separate themselves came up, as Voss had predicted, because they were needed in more than one place at the same time:

During the Demonic Invasion of Helopia, The Elementals were in high demand, and Kinas was more than delighted to answer their call. Kinas was present during the final battle, and was there as he saw his brother about to make his move. Sinaer had to restrain him, as he was screaming at his older brother to not be so stupid and throw his life away; Kinas was fully willing to take his place, and pointed out that he would stand a better chance. Sanik shook his head, insisting that it had to be him, thanking Kinas for his support, and telling him to take care of Tyra. This nearly broke Kinas, but nonetheless, he pressed on, and helped Tyra deal with the fallout—he had to have his half of The Elementals break off multiple times to deal with the various missions in need of accomplishing, a division of labor which helped the nation’s wounds heal quickly.

And while his brother’s name was more well-known (with Tyra’s equally recognizable to him), Kinas was making a name for himself as half the party’s leader, directing his half of The Elementals when needed, but still fully accepting Tyra’s command, gladly accepting his brother’s replacement as being better suited for leadership. And when Tyra stepped down to take care of the newly-found but mentally-shattered Sanik, Kinas was willing to endorse Sarge as their leader once more, though was a little concerned: half of The Elementals’ founding members were gone, with the other half typically staying a separate entity, more and more frequently, leaving their original group a little short-staffed.

And it became apparent during the Qirian Invasion that Sarge was in desperate need of aid. Kinas respected his decisions, but feared that he may not have what it’d take to protect their nation from harm. A doubt magnified when Helops itself was threatened—but M pointed out to Kinas that, despite his dislike of the idea, threatening the capital would be exactly what the nation needed to snap back and defeat the invading armies.

Reluctantly, he agreed, and sure enough, the threat sparked the Revans—as a whole still bitter about not being the capital—into mounting their forces to help defend their rivals in Helops, and the nation of Helopia was quick to unite against a common enemy. The victory was only temporary, however, and while the Qirians were driven over the boarder, it was clear they would be back, stronger and more prepared. Kinas asked if there would be a way to get peace, wanting to end the conflict before more lives were lost—but efforts at diplomacy were refused; the Qirians were still bloodthirsty, and nothing would dissuade them in their arrogance.

And then Kinas thought out loud, “These guys deserve to be humbled. They should learn never to underestimate people like us.”

And this is what sparked the idea of a counter-attack, which after much planning, was launched, with the intention of marching on Aqirus, the capital of Aqiria. But it was a trap, and only too late did they realize that they were the ones in need of a good humbling: they were about to pay for their ignorance with many lives. Sarge stayed behind, urging Kinas and his half of The Elementals to rush to the aid of Yeras Wharf, and Kinas’s group fought their way out. Unable to go over the mountains, Kinas’s group was forced to take the far more dangerous and risky route through the Underground Mines, a labyrinth of caves.

They managed to make it through, barely, and raced to the defense of Yeras Wharf, where they fought their hardest, worn out and tired from their effort of arriving. There, they held on until Sarge came, with what reinforcements he had left. But tired from all the fighting they had done, there was little they could do to stop the Qirian army. Nathan pleaded with Kinas to stay and fight, and Kinas begged Sarge not to let the city fall. Sarge said that he couldn’t guarantee that he’d keep the city safe, but he would fight his hardest to ensure that the people within were, and The Elementals held on, desperately, until not a single Yeran was left in Yeras Wharf.

The city fell when The Elementals retreated, but they had saved what was important, proving Voss’s predictions to have been a slight miscalculation, and inspiring hope despite the massive odds. A game of cat-and-mouse ensued with the armies, as Kinas led his half of The Elementals, keeping them retreating, while trying their hardest to fight back, essentially relying on hit-and-run tactics to try and atrophy the Qirians out of resources. Sarge led his half to the Syr Mountains, to prepare for their last stand—if the Syr Mountains fell, no force in Helopia had enough strength to fight back. Natur Valley was too vulnerable, Lejus didn’t have the strength, Helops was vulnerable, and Revan’s defense had been weakened saving Helops.

Kinas bought the group the time they needed to prepare, and eventually, retreated to rejoin them in their final battle, where the fate of Helopia would be decided: it was their final hope of victory, but things were going badly. It looked like everything would be lost.

…And then Sanik reemerged, his presence lightening up The Elementals as a whole, who all gained the confidence needed to fight back: and with them, the avatars of Helopia, the nation was similarly inspired to strike back, and the tide finally turned in their favor, pushing the Qirians back.

 

And when it came time to make a truce, Helopia actually grew, gaining some Qirian lands as their own. The Elementals and all their members became well-renowned as the saviors of the war-torn land. Kinas’s name rivaled Tyra’s and Sarge’s in fame among them, in certain areas (like Helops and Revan) being more well-known and almost on-par with Sanik. It took time for the nation to heal, but a few years later, things were back to relatively normal, Helopia more powerful than ever before, allowing The Elementals to continue adventuring as a single group in this period of peace.

 

The Elemental Fighters for the Land, Highest Heroes of Helopia, an honor bestowed on few before them, treated for their great deeds as Saviors of Civilization. Kinas was all too happy to put wars behind him, enjoying the tame life which adventuring offered—it was still dangerous, but it was extremely thrilling, and quite productive, as they helped keep the nation safe.

It was, after all, exactly how they had started out: smallfry doing simple tasks, small adventures which any level 1 hero could undertake—the kind of thing which Kinas had been doing since childhood. Helops became everything Kinas could have hoped for in his city, the city he had been raised in to the point where it was his one and only home. David retired from adventuring again with Ian, though Voss stayed with Kinas and Sinaer as they continued to work together, helping them as much as he could.

But Kinas saw a grim look on his face increasingly often—a look M and Sinaer were well aware of. They asked him, but he refused to answer, only occasionally stopping by with David and Ian about a subject none of them understood.

 

Twice had they thwarted an invasion—but it turned out the third time would be the “charm”, and Kinas was caught off-guard like everyone else to just how quickly everything could fall apart. The Golden Hero would die with his city and nation, falling to his effective end when things went horribly wrong: an army struck at the heart of the nation with no warning, attacking Helops while their guard was virtually nonexistent.

Kinas was quick to rally his city’s defenses, along with M, Sinaer, Voss, David, and Ian, while the rest of The Elementals were on the field fighting. He was quite alarmed at how they got to Helops, but was confident that The Elementals would triumph. Once he had done everything he could to ready his city for the storm to come, he rejoined his comrades on the field of battle, to help protect his home from yet another threat. Their defenses held against wave after wave, refusing to break down due to Kinas’s stubbornness inspiring his men.

He was a hero. He was their hero. Helops was his town. It was the one place where he outshone all the other Elementals, rivaling even Sanik. He wasn’t going to let harm come to a single one of his people, he swore. His vow could not be broken; The Elementals turned the tide of the surprise-attack in their favor. But feeling the effects of battle, they were worn down by the time the leader of this army presented himself. Kinas was all too eager to charge into battle regardless, ignoring their fatigue and swearing not to fall.

But despite his resolve, he only had so much in him to fight back with, tired out with the rest of The Elementals, as they began to lose the fight against their opponent, the army leader, to the point where he made the mistake to gloat: he revealed he was a mere “Agent Of Chaos”, a simple messenger of his lord, nothing more than a knight backed up by pawns to slay the second rook. And that was enough to inspire for the first time in Kinas, extreme hatred of who he was fighting, not caring about anything else other than destroying the ‘man’ in front of them. That evil had been behind Faragawa falling; Kinas could tell, and wouldn’t let a mere general stand so much of a chance of repeating history.

When the Agent realized his error, as The Elementals were given a second wind and came back to destroy him, he was forced to make a second revelation, to turn the tide back in his favor, revealing his identity. While Kinas was unaffected, Sanik and Tyra (along with Enlecar) were shut down by it, crippling The Elementals. Kinas tried to get them to fight back, trying his hardest to rally them, doing everything he could to snap his leaders out of their trance, but with them distraught, Celaren was able to easily destroy their unity, breaking the group up and finishing them off one by one.

True to his word, Kinas kept fighting on, despite Sanik having fallen, despite Tyra lying there about to die, despite Sarge having been stabbed as he tried to rally the troops himself, despite M being stunned by M’s lack of foresight and being easily dispatched, despite Enlecar having frozen up and let the blow come, despite Nathan having been outclassed, Kinas held on…

…Until Celaren took out Sinaer, and Kinas tried to save her. Unable to intervene, he had to watch as she slowly began to bleed out, powerless to fight back against Celaren, and Celaren used Kinas’s new despair to finish the deed and leave him along with the rest of The Elementals to die. And with them died the defense of Helops, collapsing to a combination of hopelessness and atrophy overwhelming them. All was lost, the city’s walls began to fall, and soon the citizens would be massacred…

…And that is when David, Ian, and Voss stepped in. They challenged Celaren, who was unimpressed by the three men. He merely laughed them off as they entered the battle, unknowingly playing into Voss’s last gambit—he had seen this coming, Kinas realized, and that was why he, David, and Ian had looked so grim as of late: they knew exactly what was to come, but could do nothing to stop it.

They knew just as well as Celaren the result that was to come. Voss could give them a fighting chance, but only that—a chance, to end the fight in a victory, saving the lives of everyone present. Voss worked on teleporting The Elementals away, against their protests to remain, to do something despite how by all rights they had nothing left to give. He healed their wounds as he finished the portal, slowly sending them to safety. But not sending them fast enough that Kinas wouldn’t see their ultimate fate: David single-handedly destroyed almost the entire invading army, leaving them a mere fraction of what they were before, and Celaren—clearly alarmed—decided he needed to deal with David personally.

David, weakened from the effort, was stabbed from behind by Celaren, and died before he could finish the deed, leaving the fraction of the army still living. Kinas took no comfort in his mentor’s death, especially when Ian used it to send an attack to Celaren at the cost of his life, intended to slay Celaren. It almost did, but like with David, he failed in completing the task, merely crippling Celaren and leaving him in extreme pain. Celaren, in a panicked frenzy, decided that if he were to die, he’d at least die taking out all of The Elementals, and dispatched Voss from behind, and after that, the portal faded.

 

They lived, but it was not a life worth living to Kinas. He had just watched his mentor, his closest friend’s mentor, and their mutual friend, now also extremely close to Kinas, die within moments of each other, leaving the fate of his home unknown as he was transported to Hidenva weakened, without his bow or sword. And when they awoke, it didn’t take long to learn the answer, since the results were so horrific that even half-way around the world, word had spread quickly of the events which had transpired.

Helops, his home, had fallen. And with it, Helopia, his nation, was quick to follow. It was exactly as in Faragawa, only far, far worse, as every hero who could have helped was gone, unlike in Faragawa where the Fargawanians had help. The Helopians on the other hand were left alone, without their guardians, their old protector dead, his replacement shattered and broken half the world away. Those who hadn’t died fighting were left with ruins of a city, in such a bad state that they had to abandon the city. However, with no protection left, most of them perished when fleeing to other cities—and few of said other cities were any refuge at all, suffering fates equally as grim.

The land was corrupted. Roads became hazardous, unsafe to all, forcing the cities into isolation. And while some people survived their main centers being destroyed, fleeing deeper into the terrain, most places had horrendously bad fates, least of which was the Tyrians being poisoned. No, other cities had it far worse, such as Revan, Kinas’s rival city. As predicted, Revan as a capital would have never fallen, the people within tough and quite militaristic. However, with Helops chosen as the capital, the people in Revan were rather poor. Their city was still the best defended in the nation, even stronger than Helops, but economically, they were a wreck.

Internally, therefore, it was easy to sabotage the city, and the army’s spies managed to weaken the defenses enough to allow the remnants of the army to wipe out everyone within, to ensure that the nation of Helopia had no future as Revanus. Lejus, a shining city in its own right, was similarly targeted for oblivion. Unlike Revan, it had always maintained its same level of strength, a testament to Voss’s hometown. Lejus could defend itself, and did—but unfortunately, they had no way to strike back, having zero offense which could impact the invading army.

And nobody would come to give that necessary boost. Every city was weakened and couldn’t make the travel necessary. With no reinforcements, even a small fraction of the army numbering mere hundreds was able to starve out the thousands in Lejus, slowly wearing down their defenses through atrophy. Out of supplies, they ran out of steam, their defenses weakened, and eventually, they fell altogether, allowing the invading army in to wipe them out, destroying everything within. And with the fall of Lejus, only one major city remained in the shattered nation, the final target of the army: Yeras Wharf, Nathan’s home city.

It did not go well for either side. The remnants found that the Yerans were surprisingly resilient, able to put up a strong fight. In fact, the sides were equally matched: despite the Yerans not having much of a military, they were more than a match for the army. It was a mutual massacre. Neither side relented—the army got inside the city and burned it down, but the residents fought to the death. Even after the last of their soldiers died, the Yeran civilians kept on fighting, and in the end, killed the last member of the army.

The threat had been stopped, technically. But at the cost of one of the greatest nations in the land, left completely and totally obliterated. Everything Kinas had lived for, everything he had fought for, was lost—Helopia was gone. Any survivors of the cities (along with the floating city Wevan) fled to their rival nation Aqiria, no longer identifying themselves as members of a dead nation. It was no victory worth calling such. Their mentors dead, their enemy alive (albeit critically wounded), their home a wasteland, all because Sanik and Tyra froze up. Kinas lost himself; no sword and bow, his armor damaged almost beyond repair and his shield broken. He was nothing but a mere shadow of the Kinas he was before, but he took things harder than anyone else had.

 

He took to drinking. Heavily. There, he sat, in a bar, rotting away, slowly caving in to misery and despair, his gloomy mood slowly twisting his memories, as he pushed away all that was once good and nice in his world away due to the pain, filling it in with the rage, the hatred for Sanik, for Tyra, for Celaren, for his mentors failing him, at himself for not having succeeded, at…everything. It was not a pretty sight. Even Sinaer couldn’t get through to him, as he did his best to push her away as she had once done to him, and she knew then and there exactly how bad he had fallen.

Kinas, the beacon of light for Helops, had died along with his city. The cheery, light-hearted innocent adventurer, the absolute noble member of the group, idealistic and nicer than even Sanik had ceased to exist. In his place was Kinas, the black void of emptiness, where all things negative filled in and consumed him.

At first, his distaste wasn’t that noticeable. But slowly and surely, it began to radiate out, his miserable aura contaminating any who were to try and mend his wounded life. Despite how bad she was feeling, and how Kinas twisted the dagger deeper, Sinaer did her best to snap him out of it, but it didn’t seem to be working, as Kinas saw it as him who was having the dagger squeezed and turned around in his insides, not her. Yet she tried, anyway, and it kept Kinas alive—in extreme pain, but he didn’t kill himself as some of the others feared. And in this state, a spark of life kept him from the pit of absolute despair:

 

Voss came in and gave him a posthumous message. Kinas, having been close to him, opened up immediately to it. He gave everyone a chance for a fresh start, and had quite the motivational speech for everyone, but especially to Kinas. He told him to listen to Sinaer, and so Kinas did. Sinaer calmed him down, and after Kinas looked like he had gained some semblance of sanity, the message resumed.

He said that Kinas would never be the same, and recognized this, changing his preferred gear and even anticipating Kinas’s change in alignment and element, tailoring his new equipment to meet these new standards. His light armor was repaired, with his shield incorporated into it. He was given his light dagger, and of course the darkness ring, among many other trinkets. He told Kinas that while he would never be the beacon of light he had been, that there could not be darkness without light, and that—while he would be a mere shadow of himself—he had the potential to, if he kept in mind who he really is—to become greater than even Sanik.

And Voss left Kinas a personal message, which Sanik didn’t understand, but Kinas was surprised for a brief moment to hear, though he quickly realized he shouldn’t have: “Oh, and Kinas? I wish you and The Latens…good luck.”

Voss predicted Kinas wanting to split off and form his own adventuring group—even getting the name of them—before Kinas had decided them, though he had been thinking of all of those things. And he ran it by Sinaer, who was more than happy to see Kinas not quite back to his old self, but good enough that she agreed—Kinas might be a changed man, but he’d still be the same adventurer he was before, eager to accept a challenge and take on things which he shouldn’t survive but making it through, anyway.

Working with his own charisma, he got Nathan and Enlecar to join him, and the four of them left, to go separate directions from The Elementals, as The Latens, now trying to outgrow the shadow of their former name.

 

And this is how Kinas got to be who he is to this day: The Chaotic Evil cynical jerk, but tough, spirited leader of The Latens, dealing in the art of deception with his illusions via the Darkness Element he now felt more comfortable in.

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