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The halls of Nebulapolis soon came back to life as warriors gathered to fight on the field again, despite a severe lack of numbers, but they were eager, ready to fight against the Fairies once again. As they dashed about, Gwendolyn and Aether did the same as their gears was checked over by Aether, due to his blacksmith skills, and checking in with the others. Since Aether often has his hands filled with armor, weapons, and gear, Gwendolyn was simply checking in with several others as a Valkyrie Leader rushed up to her, fully ready. "Princess!" She bowed as she explained the preparation. "We shall regroup with those able to fight. At the moment, I have four soldiers ready; Just say the word."

'We only have half the troops we started with...Everyone is rushing to their deaths.' She sent the Valkyrie off to ensure that their gear was properly ready and was soon approached by a Dwarf.

"Oh, Princess, hear me out; That spear is a magical weapon called a Psypher." Gwendolyn glanced at the weapon, the very weapon that Griselda had used in her battles. "The Dwarves fashion the crystals out of jewels and use them in the weapons." The small man gestured as he continued. "It uses magical elements called Phozons is able to absorb and release them." The Dwarf nodded as Gwendolyn returned the hardy gaze. "It will surely lead you to victory." He too left and Gwendolyn wandered on until she came across a titan of a man, Lord Brigan and general of Ragnanival's armies. As she approached, she saw him shout at a Berserker on the ready.

"What!?" He sneer at the warrior like it was normal. "Griselda's dead because she rushed ahead of the main forces." He stomped about with such insult that Gwendolyn often wondered if Brigan's loss to Aether those years past had demoralized him some. "It's certainly not because I was late to the battle." As he stomped off, Gwendolyn breathed at the sheer disregard of soldiers that Brigan has for all.

'...Lord Brigan; He may be one of our nation's heroes...' She disliked him greatly, yet he has given much effort in his victories. 'But I hear he acts as he wishes because my father does nothing to stop him.' She took to walking again as she passed by a pair of Dwarves.

"That dastardly queen of the Fairies... She was the one who summoned the dragon." Gwendolyn's heart leapt as she heard that there were dragons, but for the Fairies to use one against the Aesir...Suddenly their chances seemed smaller than she hoped them to be.

"That monstrous beast...She is truly evil." Would they be able to even defeat them... Gwendolyn shook her head to clear the thought, they WILL be victorious on the battlefield and she carry on her sister's legacy. She continued on as she head for Aether's workshop as another Dwarf stopped her.

"My dear princess..." He gestured to the spear with a earnest expression. "That stone on your spear's a jewel from the Netherworld.; Did you know that?" It was true as Gwendolyn held it up to stare, at times stunned by its smooth texture, but its lethal powers as well. "Traveling from this world to the Netherworld... It's very dangerous and only one man is able to do it - King Odin." Gwendolyn knew of the deeds, but still made her uneasy as the Netherworld was not a kind place to be, even brave warriors would be known to struggle in the presence of the realm's guardians, the Halja. "If we can obtain the Cauldron and fabricate our own jewels... Ragnanival will have no more enemies." True as it is, but at what cost... Gwendolyn shook the thought away as she bid the Dwarf farewell and continued on toward the Forge, Aether's home in the castle, as she encountered the same Dwarf that called out, thankful that he was okay.

"Princess, that was close." She nodded as he was referring to the Shadow Knight, a mockery of honor, but one that let her leave a while longer. "I had heard that the Shadow Knight looked like a demon, but... he seemed human to me." He had a questioning look to his eyes under the skull cap that made Gwendolyn ponder as well about the situation. "Why did he let you go...?" He had her pinned, ready to kill on the desert battlefield, but he instead just left her alone, not returning to finish it like there was something to her that stopped him. She did not know and was brought out of her thoughts when she crashed into someone.

"Sorry, I apologize."

"No apology needed, Gwendolyn." She looked up and found her friend, Aether, sitting on the ground with a pack of weapons and suits of armor beside him. "It isn't your fault for being in thought." As she attempted to help the overburdened protector, he simply shook his head. "Don't bother, some of these pieces are far too out of it to be worth the burden."

"Perhaps, but still you shouldn't..."

"Oh, that reminds me." He soldiered up and shrug the pack on as he glanced to her. "Myris was looking for you, she looked quite distraught." As he left, Gwendolyn sighed as she headed toward her chambers where a pacing small reddish bunny in a green hood was, quite perplex about something. As she approached, the Pooka looked and breathed a sigh of relief as she rushed over.

"Princess Gwendolyn... I am worried about you... Please stay strong." Despite her small frame, Myris had a warming grip as she latched to the Valkyrie Princess. Her master returned the embrace, grateful for it.

"Thank you, Myris..." With all that has occurred, she was pleased with her servant's devotion and kindness to help her along.

"I shall bring some tea up to your room later." With the Pooka took off, leaving Gwendolyn to be alone for a short while in her chambers.

__________

A knocking brought Gwendolyn out of her musings and she answered it to find Aether, now fully-dressed for battle with a empathy smile on his face. "So, how well are you taking Griselda?"

"It is not simple, but thank you for coming by." It was only for a hour since Myris had left her, but Gwendolyn knew that the army needed time to organize itself and since Aether has been a close aid for her, she had no real trouble letting him in to hear her out. "I only wish that Father could have given a bit of sorrow for her, but I see that he is merely a king, not a god as we often feel him to be."

"Very much, he is a father second to being king, it is not in his nature to let the subjects know his weakness for if he despairs, then they would feel the loss as well." As he sat down, he spotted a gown behind her dressing stand. "I am surprised that Myris even found that dress, normally a Valkyrie would never believe in being nicely dressed as their war attire would only get dirty from the scratches and cuts, but I can understand your wish for it."

"Thank you, you are too nice about these things at times." While being a consort and gifted fighter, Aether has also the pleasure of charming many with his words, convincing them into things that they never would have guessed. She glanced at the time and knew that they needed to move out soon, but they could spare time for things. "Tell me, why did the Shadow Knight let me go, he has displayed powerful abilities on the field that it just is unlikely to spare one."

Aether lounged back as he thought about it, curious as well about the man in black armor. "It is unclear to me, especially with his abilities against our forces, but..." The look in the Knight's eye told something like infatuated or looked upon something truly beautiful. "Something tells me that we may meet him again, perhaps on better terms." Gwendolyn didn't want to be embarrassed by a warrior who spared her life to be a ally of her's, yet Aether had his reasons as he was quite attuned to emotions, on and off the battle. She looked again and motioned for Aether to follow, the battle would soon start again.

__________

As they prepared, they soon came across a merchant who said that he was allowed to sell in the castle and wondering if they needed anything. They politely declined as they went on their way, ready to start the battle for the Cauldron again.

__________

Gwendolyn rushed to a group of Valkyrie and issued the order. "We're moving out now!; Inform the troops." They shattered to better spread the word as Gwendolyn brought the spear up one final time, knowing that she now carries the burden for her father's troop while Aether hung back a bit to give her space. "Griselda..." To the human eye, the next would be seen as a conflict of the mind, but Aether saw a blue bird, semi-transparent, flutter behind Gwendolyn and spoke words of doubt.

"So you're going to battle in order to win your father's love..." The voice was Gwendolyn's, but the tone suggested otherwise as Gwendolyn spoke as if it was part of her.

"That's not true." She looked up, her back still facing the bird. "I'm fighting for my kingdom and my own pride." She faced the entity as proudly as she could muster. "I may fall in battle, but that is a fate all our countrymen face."

"...Don't try to hide the truth from me." The Valkyrie approached the thing as it continued. "You seek death, so that you may earn the love you so desperately seek..." Gwendolyn tried to strike the bird but it flew out of the spear's reach.

"Quiet!"

"I am but a phantom." That much was certain, but its words posed volume as it mocked her like a foul man who has nothing worth gaining than breaking a powerful warrior woman. "I represent your innermost thoughts." It flew behind her and continued, undermining her at her core. "'I am pathetic. I've never been loved since the day I was born.'" This was getting to Gwendolyn as she started to ponder, but Aether could see that 'innermost thoughts' were doing a lot more than being a voice speaking. "Giving your life for your father will not make your death worthwhile." As if to push the pain deep, it said this. "You will simply die, like Griselda died."

The spear fell as Gwen collapsed to her knees and placing her hands over her face, hurting from the vile words being made against her. "Stop it..." She shook from the build-up, Aether believed that she was stronger than what a bird phantom could say. "If I sacrifice myself for my duty, Father will surely show his love for me." As the bird vanished from sight, Gwendolyn spoke one last words. "Surely..." As Aether approached, Gwendolyn looked up, grief written on her face that death was the only way for love, taking Aether's hand as he offered it for support.

"Valkyrie do not let the words of others turn their judgement into a shell, you have yet to fail and I will ensure that you have the strength to prevail."

"Thank you, Aether." He returned with a smile in his trust.

"Come, Odin is likely to begin the assault, we must hurry else Lord Brigan will be our 'saving grace'." That was far worse, but Gwendolyn understood, no mountain of human brute was going to take their chances of slaying the foes to push them back for their prize was meant to be their victory....

__________

The battle began as Odin's Witch and the Psypher Bullet attacked in the front of the vanguard, Elf Knights falling as they were claimed by the arcane rounds or Griselda's spear, the Vanir quickly losing ground fast as the suicidal attack was much more effective in the surprise, the Aesir making quick work in the wake of the fearsome duo until they were able to rest for a moment in a captured outpost, Aether checking his weapon over as it had obtained Phozons for the first time and was leaving him a sense of pride, but regret as the Phozons were the dead and their souls should be honored to returned to the earth, but the war demanded that they were used for battle. 'Is it often wise to slay those in our way because we have to...?' He shook his head as he walked about the place and came across a messager Valkyrie, the fighting close by giving the impression that they were reinforced, leaving a deadlock to be had. "I am here to report that Lord Brigan's troops shall soon arrive." The Valkyrie saluted as the report was concluded. "The general has sent us a message to fight strongly."

'The fool is so late, what the world is he even doing?' He was soon came across a merchant of Titania was more terrified of the battles than the actual warriors.

"I could charge extra since this is a battlefield." Aether fixed the man with a gaze that just yelled 'tempt me, idiot'. "But it's very dangerous, I could have nine lives, and it still wouldn't be enough." He made up his mind to instead do business for his life. "Uh... I'll make you a deal." He showed a number of mulberry Seeds and Healing Tonics, but Aether's eye grabbed the parchment with the green tie and took it off the merchants hands. From the glance of it, it showed a number of areas of conflict and a heavy focus on Vanir troops further up the battlefield, past the lines and Aether could place a guess that if they could get to the leader, the battle would be theirs, but first, they had to fight through.

Thankfully Gwendolyn didn't take long to return. "Are you prepared, Aether?"

"Ready as always, Princess." They entered the fray again, collecting more Phozons as they fought and coming across some form of crystal prism which Aether took to study after the battle was done. Their first trouble came as they entered a site and came to fight a Unicorn Knight who was more than willing to battle, separating them apart as Gwendolyn decided to fight the creature one-on-one, striking at the Unicorn before it could get any space to return its blows. Aether attempted to line his shot, but couldn't risk Gwendolyn so he turned his sights on incoming reinforcements that was coming to overwhelm the pair, sniping the Hunters out of the air before the Knights closed the distance. The same for the Princess as the beast flicked the spear away and started to leap, forcing Gwendolyn to dodge by flipping back and forth under the jumps. With one Knight down, Aether tried to shot the other, but the Elf was making it difficult for the shots to be fired. "Stop that now, you are making me angry!." As if on time, Aether readied his shot and Gwendolyn prepared to strike, but what happened caught both by surprise as 'Ragnell' fired a lance of energy, piercing the Knight through his core as Gwendolyn's spear blasted a flurry of seeking ice bolts that slammed into the Unicorn long enough for Gwendolyn to kill, the bolts freezing parts of the armor like actual ice. The two of them served a glance as to what happened, but the battle was first, answers could wait for later...

Through thick and thin, the battle had only started to get troublesome as the pair approach the main Vanir base and slammed through the forces, searching for a opening to exploit and one came as the troops attacked, forcing the Fairies on the defensive, but not enough to stop Odin's Witch and her ally from digging deeper.

__________

As more Elves came to fight, a Elf Paladin stopped before a radiant beauty known as Queen Elfaria. "I have a report, Your Highness!" He stood at the ready for his queen's orders. "The Aesir have launched an all-out assault.; They are attacking our headquarters with all their soldiers!" The situation had changed from winning to losing their ground so quickly. "The Paladins fight valiantly, but 'tis only a matter of time till they are overrun!"

Elfaria placed a finger upon her jaw and looked down to the side as she noted the attack. "Odin... I see he risks his own life with this strategy of his..." She looked back to the silver-armored Elf. "Here are your orders." She spoke with a commanding tone for the plan. "Quickly! Call back the troops from the front line and attack them from behind." She pointed with a finger and lifted her jaw up in a command tone. "Use everything we have. Attack from both sides and annihilate them!" The Paladin nodded and prepared to charge out to deliver the message, when suddenly he found his death as Gwendolyn charged through the corpses of Elves as Aether followed close behind, delivering rounds to several Elves before leveling his rifle with Elfaria. Gwendolyn stood strong as she stared down the Fairy queen before addressing the being before her.

"Our king is bestowed with divine grace." She threw forth a hand with resolve behind her. "Prepare yourself, Queen of the Ghosts." She then leveled her spear, poised for battle once more. "I, King Odin's daughter Gwendolyn, shall be the one to take your life."

"So, you call me a ghost... The Demon Lord's daughter is bold, indeed." Before the Valkyrie princess could even strike, a loud rumble shook the ground, forcing Gwendolyn back as Elfaria chuckled with relief. "It seems that my reinforcements have arrived." The rumbles came closer and closer until they started to sound like heavy footsteps as Elfaria took to the air, her wings aglow as she addressed another in a rude tone. "It's about time, Sorcerer." In a poof of magic, a elderly wizard in green robes appeared and looked to be stroking his beard.

"Your Majesty, my sincerest apologies for my tardiness." He waved his hand as he summoned something forth. "Come, Belial, my faithful dragon."

Before parting, Elfaria turned about and spoke. "Let us put this to the test." She smirked as the sound grew closer. "Do you still dare to speak so impudently before my mighty dragon?" As she departed, another came and it was a monster, a dragon of tan and violet trudged forth before emitting a great roar, challenging both of the Aesir warriors to fight. Gwendolyn stared down the beast as Aether readied his shots before Belial made the first move, regurgitating a orb of rusted armor and weapons and firing it at them, Gwendolyn taking to the air while her protector slid under the the orb and opened fired. the dragon drew back as the rounds slammed into its armored hide before roaring and charging forth, jaw wide open as to consume Aether. Despite its massive size and speed, its attack failed as the Psypher Bullet rolled out of the way and was going to correct it when Gwendolyn struck, planting her spear into the dragon's hide and proceeding to deliver a flurry of swipes and thrusts into the beast. Aether readied to fire again when he noticed that several Fairies were coming to attack, turning his weapon to the oncoming enemies, putting them down as some dropped potions to where they fall. Belial noticed as well and, throwing Gwendolyn off, laid its head down and started to suck in the area as armor, weapons, bodies, and potions. While Gwendolyn took to the air, Aether resorted to a different method of avoiding the vacuum, grabbing a shield and planting it forcibly down, bracing hard to keep the shield in place and handle his Psypher uneasily with his free hand. The suction continued to pull on him while Gwendolyn, realizing the struggle, attacked the dragon from behind, breaking its focus and striking quickly against the armored hide. Enraged, Belial roared again, but this time, it burrowed under the sand and vanished, leaving the pair to look about the war zone to locate the beast as it seemed unlikely for it to just surrender. Fortunately, Aether spotted it as it proceed to charge at them, jaw wide open, leaving the protector to leap onto the beast's head while Gwendolyn flew again, waiting for the moment to strike as a head was too small a target to get decent blows in when it pulled Aether below the sands. The princess waited, trying to spot the beast and her friend when it bursted out in a spray of sand and ruined equipment while Aether was still on top of it's head, using a blade to hang on to.

'Aether is not going to be able to aid me, the dragon dragged him through the underground and dazed him, I need to finish this swiftly before any more enemies come.' After a bit, she spotted a point of weakness and dove in, under the dragon's guard and striking a blow into the underside of the dragon's left arm, gripping hard as she drove her spear deep and pulling it out as the dragon fell to the ground, defeated and Aether rolling off into the sands. "Aether, are you okay?" Aether shook his head to relieve the dizziness, but Gwendolyn was holding in a smirk as Aether wasn't dazed, but instead his head was stuck in a rusted helmet. He tried to look about, but the helmet prevented it. "Here, let me help you." She lifted the helmet off her protector and helped him up as they was both battered from the battle.

"Gwendolyn, one piece of advice..."

"Yes, Aether?" She had a vague feeling of what he was going to say.

"Never ride a dragon through the ground, it is the worst a warrior must face." If it was not on the battlefield, Gwendolyn would have chuckled at the foolish remark...

__________

King Odin stomped forward as he headed for his claimed prize as a Valkyrie Leader approached and knelt before her king. "King Odin, please rejoice. The enemies are retreating."

Odin was pleased, but in his experience, nothing is assured. "It seems that it is finally over." He stomped past the the woman and addressed her again. "Have Brigan's troops hunt down any remaining enemy forces." The Leader turned, bowed, and took off to give the order as Odin turned to a standard Valkyrie who bowed before her king. "Go inform all our soldiers of our victory.; Sound the horn and allow them to celebrate our glory." The Valkyrie nodded as he finished the conversation. "Now, leave me." He stomped past the now-running Valkyrie until he joined a small company of Dwarves as he joined in their observation of their prize.

One dwarf turned and addressed Odin. "King Odin."

"Yes... There it is... The Crystallization Cauldron..." He strode past the gathering and looked upon a massive orb of steel and gears, aglow with the color of blood as it rested in the sands. He knew of a number of the Dwarves and their devices, but this mighty orb, this was grand and remarkable that puts their works to shame. Odin drew closer and looked further up. "The Fairies have kept it hidden for so long..." A rumbling followed as the orb appeared to start breathing while Odin, amazed by its each movement and appearance, spoke. "Do you see this mysterious light?; Now it is finally mine." He moved ever closer as to place a hand upon its strange texture. "This power will grant me victory in any battle..." Another rumble came, but this was stronger, catching Odin off-guard. "What's happening!?" To all there, they watched as the red lights glowed for a brief second before fading away, leaving the motionless Cauldron to sit in the sand with its life gone.

"O-oh no... What happened to the glow?; The Cauldron's light has gone out." A single dwarf said as all wondered what had happened, but the result was looked upon now, the Cauldron had ceased all movement and fell silent across the sands of the battlefield...

__________

After some time of recovering, Gwendolyn and Aether walked on until a passing Valkyrie was addressed. "Do you know where my father--" Gwendolyn stopped and changed what was going to be said. "Where I may find the king?"

"The king is with the Crystallization Cauldron."

Gwendolyn nodded and started to head to the Cauldron when she stopped. "What!?" In their path was a young woman, older than Gwendolyn and Aether made note that her dress of attire was that of the Forest Witch of Elrit. "Who goes there?; What are you doing here?" Her protector wanted to place his head in a hand at the sheer bluntness that Gwendolyn is bound to display and close-mind that she can show.

"These stupid battles, all over again... The Cauldron is a source of disaster." The Witch turned and Aether, despite his better judgement, noted that she was dressed more for a arid landscape than Elrit and that she was holding a Psypher of blood-red, a chain of sorts. "I will not allow the Crystallization Cauldron to be used any further." She turned back, leaving Aether to attempt to piece her words together. "Not by you... Nor the queen of the Fairies." She quickly departed and Gwendolyn reached out as to stop her.

"Wait!" Before Aether could say a thing, Gwendolyn took to pursue, leaving her protector to sigh as he instead resorted to heading toward the Cauldron to finding out what had happened. He soon found the Cauldron, dead and motionless so he addressed a dwarf close by.

"I apologize for my late arrival, but what has happened?"

"The Cauldron's light has faded and we don't know what has happened..." Aether started to think as the forces headed home, uncertain of what has happened and if the woman in red had anything to do with the Cauldron's dominant state...
This is the first chapter of Gwendolyn's story done and soon I will deal with the second chapter after some time of piecing it together.

For those who are wondering about the companions, I have already sorted out my roster unless someone is interested in giving their own character to which I will compare and decide if they can be the allies or not.

And with that, I say thank you for reading and please leave a comment for anything you would like to say.
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July 27, 2016
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