Place of Hurt

The following evening, several hundred Celestial soldiers waited outside the briefing room. Many of them were in shock and disbelief that the great Emerald Clan Legionnaire General Vadiiamonial had been struck down in battle. They scoffed at the idea that the “foreign” Emerald Princess was in attendance of this war, and “outrageous” demand of the Emerald Queen that all Celestials assume human form whenever in parameter of Princess Keinah. A barrage of cursing was flung around, mocking the clumsily restricted human bodies that are ill-suited for combat.
The group was so enthralled in their complaint session that they did not notice General Aysha was in their midst.
“If the lot of you sorry mutts were any half-good of a fighter, it would not matter one way or the other whether you posed as a human or remained in your natural Celestial state!” She barked at them. The soldiers shuttered in terror as they turned their attention towards the Diamond clan Valkyrie.
“You came with no heart to this fight! How do you honor your homeland and the Emerald Queen when you have allowed ruin to come to her daughter? You dare to classify her as a foreigner when she risked herself to slay countless goblins and cast a spell to save us all from expiration,” she furiously continued. 
“Forgive us, great General, but was it not because of the human girl’s demise that your fellow General Vadiiamonial became distracted enough to be assaulted with a crystallization sword?” a Diamond soldier interjected.
Breonas came from nowhere with fire in his eyes.
“Did you not witness her excellency in actions?! Were it not for Princess Keinah’s tenacity and determination as our comrade-in-arms, many of you would not have been healed after the ambush at Luab nor would you be standing here today badmouthing her efforts,” he contested. 
The soldiers murmured among themselves as if to ignore Breonas. It was apparent they were unmoved by his testimony.
Breonas stood on top of a broken pillar and angrily wept as he continued to yell at them.
“She outmatched the dark sorcery of the necromancers. It is only because of Princess Keinah’s magical prowess we still have General Vadiiamonial. Though he is still clinging to his life, he has not been turned to stone. He may have a chance yet to make a recovery of sorts,” he said.
General Aysha was filled with a renewed sense of determination after hearing Breonas speak. She abruptly brushed through the congregation to stand beside the weeping Breonas.
“This young pup has more guts and loyalty in his tiny little body than any of you dogs! You should be ashamed and put to the crystallization sword for your incompetence. No one can contest that Princess Keinah’s contributions are the very cause of any success that we have had. From here on, you must check yourselves, tuck your yellow tails in, and return your respect to those who have paid with their lives for your honor,” she proclaimed.
The murmuring ceased and was replaced with valiant cheers to support General Aysha and Breonas. The party departed and set out to begin in combat exercises.
Inside the briefing room, Lords Bilal and Chimique observed as the Celestial guards interrogated the captured Sapphire soldier. When the Lords were satisfied with the briefing, they signaled for him to be taken back to the holding chamber. In the mere minutes that the Sapphire soldier had one arm loosened, he quickly ingested a jagged piece of his crystalized sword. The group watched with delighted terror as he shrieked in agony. After shriveling up, all that remained was solid stone.
Lord Chimique signaled for the guards to wheel the stone away in a barrel.
“The savagery of the Sapphire clan knows no end! Those pathetic vermin must be destroyed, or none of our territories will reside in peace,” Lord Bilal said in disgust as he struck the stone with his giant mallet.
Upon impact, the stone shattered into millions of tiny pieces. The guards frowned as they were instructed to remove all the particles swiftly.
“This is the handy work of the unscrupulous Lord Enzo, whose insanity and utter incompetence has long hindered him from gaining the rank of High Chief. He has had an ax to grind with the world for centuries. It is no wonder that the once highly revered Sapphire clan is now reviled as nothing more than bandits and goons,” Lord Chimique said as he gazed through the curtain panels to watch the guards remove the rubbish from the briefing room.
“It was King Dorrel’s inept leadership that contributed to their demise as well. Countless territories fell victim to Lord Enzo’s cruelty, and King Dorrel did nothing to stop it,” Lord Bilal huffed.
“If the Sapphire King had not become so heavily infatuated with Lord Enzo and shamelessly begging that they should be eternal mates, perhaps he would not have been so easily seduced. On the eve that Lord Enzo was expected to be banished from their Kingdom of Moncruis by the Officials, he tricked King Dorrel by insisting they run away together. No one had any way of knowing Lord Enzo’s madness drove him to unearth the toxic minerals of the crystallization sword. To be assassinated by your lover is one of the saddest and oldest deceits in the books,” Lord Chimique reminisced.
Lord Bilal chuckled. “You have told the truth. Without hesitation, Lord Enzo turned King Dorrel into stone and pitched him into the deep of the Tymanes ocean, just like the debris removed from here.”
“Lord Enzo has carelessly reduced the number of his kinsman to support his ridiculous endeavors; it is no wonder that he has had the gall to enlist the likes of lowly scum goblins, ogres, and toads. The necromancers have made him feel invincible by gifting him with the ability to handle those minerals without fear of turning to stone. If only General Vadiiamonial had that type of protective covering,” Lord Chimique said.Lord Bilal interjected rashly, “My General has never wanted to be tempted by the crystals. With his strength and keen wisdom, he believed he would eventually break and surrender to the desire to have absolute power. He has never wanted to wield his dominance over his kinsman or anyone else!”
“I meant no offense. I just have been searching for a clear answer how we proceed forward in this time of tribulation. Without the Great General of the Emerald clan and his betrothed Princess, our impending doom seems inevitable.”Lord Chimique stated coolly.
“In their present state, neither is much use to us now. We will have to depend heavily on General Aysha and our men at arms.” Lord Bilal retorted.
Lord Chimique paused, then noted, “Aysha is wounded in spirit over what transpired at PreLuab. If she has the will to carry us forward, she will avenge the offense caused to your General and the Emerald Princess. At least you will bring good tidings to Queen Ordessa over the loss of her beloved daughter.”
“I am certain the Emerald Queen will be much more at ease to know that her Kingdom and provinces are secure if we successfully conquer Lord Enzo. She will suffer from a newly learned grief over the death of Princess Keinah, just as we will inherently suffer from the loss of General Vadiiamonial. These are the spoils of war,” Lord Bilal replied with conviction in his voice.

The Far Side of Hereafter, Ch. 21


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