In the short span of twenty-five years, Cervato had traveled to many wondrous places within Tyria. Though she reminded herself that Ibrahim had actually meant they would have to go beyond their own world to fight the terrible God-King, Apophis. The Elonian was part of an old order meant to protect and guard the Sanctuary as their ancestors had after trapping Apophis in the Underworld realm at the cost of their lives. In her eyes, she saw how sure he was that they would succeed, though her own doubts coupled with Fijit and Graham still persisted. Though, if they waited any longer, they faced the wrath of Apophis in the crystal desert at full strength. Who knew what would occur, as they had already witnessed his destructive capabilities within the Sanctuary, which Ibrahim clearly conveyed that Apophis was still greatly weakened from the centuries old shackles he was bound by. If Apophis was allowed into their world, he would wreak havoc and devastation across the land. Perhaps he would clash against Palawa Joko’s Awakened armies, or even obliterate Balthazar’s Forged numbers, but Cervato clearly saw the threat to the innocent present. They would have nowhere to run.
The Accord would head through the mysterious portal into the Underworld to face the Scourge of the Sand.
As the sky exhibited the painful scar torn through it overhead in the night’s sky, Cervato secured the Redeemer sword to her back then followed the rest of the guild. They ventured through the crumbled tunnels that lay beneath the ruins of the Sanctuary until they found the device that would open the gate. It would only remain open as long as there was someone to operate the device present, and thankfully there was no indication that Apophis knew about this portal.
A number of Accord guild members, along with Ibrahim and his Order entered the portal, determined to succeed. However, as soon as they exited, they would feel the overwhelming chill that permeated any layer of clothing. Kurai kept close to Cervato, and she did her best to conjure her abilities to keep herself and him warm as they descended the stone tunnels. Eventually, the small army found themselves near a river. Magic ran through its depths along with muddled objects that Cervato could not quite place until she heard one of Ibrahim’s Order gasp. Turning her head, she watched the young Elonian man fall over onto his side, his hand touching the flowing river. Death had taken him instantly, and they quickly realized the river was not filled with water at all, but with the souls of the dead, trapped by Apophis in this realm.
They continued together, until finally, they had come across a stone construct. Several people spoke through it, their voices unified as it inspected them with glowing eyes. They were a servant of Apophis, who demanded they hand their lives over to their King. The group immediately began to fight back. Quickly, Otis, Aeleth, and Meli determined that the construct was being powered by the souls within the river, so they worked to dispatch the connections between the Servant and its power source. Meanwhile, the rest continued to hold out against the Servant’s powerful blows. Eventually, its links were broken, and the Construct began to explode. Cervato was near its epicenter, unable to run far enough in time when suddenly she felt her entire world painfully smash together then pull apart. The rumbling explosion sounding distant in her ears, and Kurai’s form forced against hers behind a barricading wall. She both loved and loathed shadow magic as she tried to compose herself less she vomit from the experience.
A path formed ahead for them, revealing the desolate ruins in the center of a valley of sand. The group of roughly thirty looked on in dismay as they realized that Apophis’ army outnumbered them by hundreds. Even with all the magic at their disposal, there was no doubt they would all succumb to the enemy. Their forces were already alert; warriors of sand began to ascend the desert valley hills to inspect the pluming clouds of smoke as a result of the explosion. They were spotted. They had minutes to pray before they met their fate.
Exhausted, Cervato watched the opposing army rush towards them. Even here, her mind was screaming at her to push forward. Next, it surged forth to order their retreat. Desperately, she thought to sacrifice herself in some vain attempt to give them enough time to escape. She drowned out the arguments of others as she fought within herself. Coming to the same conclusion over and over.
There was nothing they could do.
They would all perish.
The thundering horde of sand warriors was now pressing, as she looked upon their steadfast approach. A hand clasped her shoulder, to which she turned her gaze to a comrade for the last time. The vibrant light that shone about their form was warm and comforting as the figure moved ahead. Others also shining within a holy light joined them, preparing their weapons, shouting out silently in joy for the battle that was to begin.
Spirits. Souls. These were the people that Apophis had trapped in the Underworld. They were set free. Cervato felt her heart beat fast, as she saw his defined form stand before the group. Save for the glowing embodiment before them, Logan appeared just the same. They couldn’t hear his voice, but saw his smile as he held up a fist to the sky. The man’s lips clearly saying a simple phrase.
Cervato felt invigorated. They were not alone. Logan was here. Logan was leading them into battle. He and so many others had given her the small glimmer of hope that they would still succeed. Lifting the Redeemer in her hands, she cried out to the group to charge forward. It was met with the cheers of others as they too felt the surge of power ignite inside themselves.
Together, they rushed forward to clash against the oncoming wave of foes. All she could remember was feeling each heart beat, the pain in her lungs as she took in another choking breath, and the sting of another’s blade slicing along her right forearm. How magnificent it felt to crush an adversary with the imbued claymore within her grasp. Eventually, they entered the central ruins, and save for some superficial injuries, they all were alive. The spirits were left behind, continuing the war outside as the Accord rushed deeper to find the God-King.
Apophis had been waiting for them, only a small amount of surprise discernible on his visage as the Accord felt they finally had the weakened Scourge cornered. However, even with half his strength, the being began to assert himself as clearly superior. A wave of necrotic magic surged forth, poisoning the air and chilling them to the bone. A dark sinister laugh sounded as he repelled their attacks, deflecting blades, erasing spells, then sending scarabs to bite their skin, trying to devour them. Some of their number fell victim to the attacks, their bodies’ quickly growing cold as they succumbed to death. Pain wracked Cervato’s form as she watched the others also struggle until other members of the Accord began to launch their counteroffensive. The group began to overpower the God-King, landing successful hit after hit, damaging their body. They felt they were nearly about to succeed when the God-King’s spirit shattered its physical form, pushing them all back. As they tried to attack it again, they quickly realized no physical attack could hope to fight it, Cervato’s own blade merely sweeping through the disembodied spirit.
As the Commander looked upon Apophis, she soon understood that their battle was pointless. Why was she even trying to defeat them in the first place? Logan had been given a gift by falling to the God-King, he no longer had to suffer and continue existing in this terrible world. In her peripheral vision, she saw each of her comrades understanding the very same thing. Wasn’t death ultimately the best option? And how many years had she been delaying the inevitable, trying to convince herself that she had something left to fight for.
The sound of a pistol being cocked into place occurred behind her. A choking sob released nearby. All of them were in agreement. Anxious, Cervato brought up her gauntleted hand to run along her throat. Fingers brushed over the faint scar. Zarek had watched her fail the last time she had meant to take her life upon the Overlook. Back then, it had been for duty. Now, it was from pure fixation that she needed to end her life here and now. Desperately, she found the dagger hidden in her boot, hand shaking in ecstasy as she realized soon she would be free. Soon she would never have to feel pain again…
Aeleth’s grip dug hard into her forearm. The elementalist medic and her friend appeared to have pain etched into his features as he struggled against what was fighting them all from within. “No…” His voice was clear as he looked to her. Then Annishtari’s mighty voice sounded above the others in defiance. Llyonel’s fury rose next, shouting at Apophis. Kurai’s hand firmly took hold of hers. Cervato’s voice now joined the rest. They would not submit. They would not give in.
As Apophis began to cast his spell again to silence the Accord, the allied spirits returned in full force. Their ethereal bodies slammed into Apophis one after the other, Logan among them, until the God-King was entirely covered in their magic, blinding to the Accord’s eyes. Eventually, when the light faded, Apophis was gone and with it the army he commanded. The spirits were congratulating each other before dissipating from their sight. They were finally free to go to the Mists.
Cervato pushed herself to stand, looking past the relieved and celebratory faces of the Tyrian Accord and the Order. She found Logan among the other departing spirits in the distance. Her eyes holding his for the briefest moment.
“Thank you.” Cervato told him.
With a smile and nod, Logan departed as well, to head to the Hall of Heroes.
The Tyrian Accord had just claimed their greatest victory to date.