Operation story: 13-21

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Sarkaz Warrior icon.png
Spine Guardian
Lifebone Dock
Lifebone Spine
Lifebone Nerve Center
Lifebone Spine Top

Before operation

Hoederer, Ines, and W take control of Ulšulah, who could manipulate the Feranmut skeleton. The Sanguinarch of Vampires uses his blood to take command of the Feranmut skeleton, commanding it to a space beyond civilization.
<Background 1>
For a few moments, perhaps more than a few moments, no Sarkaz dare to speak.
It takes away all things, and shapes all things.
Hoederer What... is that...?
The blessing the Sanguinarch left the Sarkaz hasn't faded, but just now—
Could the Doctor have been talking about...?
Blood rises from the spine of the Feranmut, apparently only a drop, but it draws all eyes.
It leaves the intertwined bones, dancing in the dim cave, rising in the freshly sprinkled sunlight.
A drop of blood, just one drop of blood.
Pure blood—
Glorious blood.
It has been wounded, it has been betrayed, it has been forgotten, to the point of being spurned.
For millennia, the land called it a disaster, treated it as an enemy, trampled it until it abandoned its glory and defiled its body.
Teekaz became Sarkaz, their homeland lost.
Today, the blood of "those with a homeland" returns from history.
All men across the lands should pay tribute to it.
<Background black>
The bead of blood dissolves, and silence reigns.
No explosions, no vibrations, no grand visions or chaotic whispers.
Even if blocked by the hills, all eyes turn toward Londinium.
At this point, all the storms called by The Shard feel like nothing but harmless drizzle.
Now, what gathers atop the tower can no longer be called just a dark cloud.
The storm has become a cradle.
<Background 1>
[The skeletal Feranmut's guardians show up...]
Spine Guardian
[...but Ines cuts them down.]
Ines ...Hoederer, W, look alive!
Do it!
W, where are the bombs you buried? Hit your detonator, now!
W Don't have to tell me twice!
[W detonates the explosives, blowing up more of the guardians.]
Ines No guesses, Hoederer! We only take on opponents we know we can handle!
Hoederer ...I know.
W's bombs tore through the defensive line. We've got a breakthrough. Tangled with them way too long.
Amiya and Logos went on ahead of us. They'll deal with the worst of our troubles.
As for the others... follow the path they cleared and climb the Feranmut's bones with those gangways!
[More guardians show up.]
Spine Guardian Dammit, these guys—
Don't let them get any further! Commander Ulšulah is pulling up the gangways!
The trembling nerve bundles begin to close, and the bone gangways start to drift.
The Feranmut has decided not to let anyone walk on its spine.
Spine Guardian The traitors die here!
We'll take their corpses to the tent of the Nachzehrer King, to nourish our next victory!
[A beep is heard.]
Spine Guardian Huh?
W Buried mines under the bones. Feels pretty good.
Hoederer, Ines, get ready—Shockwave incoming!
[The mines detonate, blowing up the guardians.]
The rising airflow of the grand explosion sends the three mercenaries into the air.
Hoederer adjusts his posture with some effort, looking down to see the cave being engulfed in flames.
The Feranmut seems to sense something. It swings its body, its white tailbone slashing at the three like a whip.
Hoederer W, three grenades, downward diagonal.
Ines Ugh.
W Good idea.
[W throws grenades as Hoederer told her to, clearing the path.]
Ines This is the last time I play along with your explosive shenanigans.
The red-haired Sarkaz kicks up dust, and the black-haired Caprinae weaves darkness.
The scraps form beams and the shadows form steps.
An invisible staircase, stinking of gunpowder, spirals upward and pierces the chest cavity of the hovering skeleton.
The mercenaries rush into its hollow interior.
<Background 2>
Ines This way to the core of the skeleton.
Our target is Ulšulah. Find her, and we get control of this thing we're walking on.
W Are you two sure we can "get" this skeleton? Sounds a little reckless, almost like robbing a caravan.
Hoederer We have to. Otherwise, Amiya and Logos are fighting for nothing.
W So we open the car door, toss the driver out, grab the keys—"Bam, my car now"?
Hoederer Did you see the illusions this thing made, moving between its bones, you still haven't figured anything out?
This isn't some obscure story.
W Should I have figured something out?
Hoederer I forgot, you don't care to learn history.
A few hundred years ago, the Sarkaz killed a Feranmut that almost destroyed Kazdel.
After it fell, there were various claims as to where it ended up, and one of those was—
That its consciousness didn't die with it, that it was split up, sealed into a bunch of different items.
Now it seems that claim was probably at least partly true. As for the unconscious shell... it was carefully collected before this war.
They spent a lot of effort to modify it, and sure enough, it's playing a big role in the war for the Military Commission.
Ines "Different items", huh? Ulšulah never carried a pocket watch before. Not like she was ever on time in the Scar Market.
But if her watch is holding the Feranmut's consciousness... it's probably already very fragmented.
The skeleton we're standing on isn't exactly dead, but it doesn't have much more than basic nerve reflexes. Ulšulah can only guide those basic reactions.
We just need to pay more attention to them—
A rain of bolts falls through the gaps in the bones, followed by the eerie glow of Sarkaz witchcraft.
Ines Take cover!
[A squad of guardians show up, with Ulšulah among them.]
Ulšulah Sure, just avoid the nerve bundles that can strike at you, and watch out for sudden bone spear thrusts, nothing to worry about.
After all, this fella's been stripped down to nothing but bleached bones.
Ines But there's still you, Ulšulah.
You're more dangerous than this half-dead Feranmut.
Done with your important work?
Ulšulah I might be, if you weren't hear to bother me.
W Is this bitch the commander here? She's pretty rough on her own skeleton.
Those bolts are all stuck in the bones now.
Want me to help pull 'em out? I've got a pretty handy method.
[W detonates an explosive...]
Spine Guardian *cough* *cough*—It's that psycho!
[...that stirs up the skeletal Feranmut to launch bone strikes at the guardians.]
Ulšulah Trying to kill my men right in front of me?
Hoederer, you think too little of me.
Dangerous and chaotic power gathers in Ulšulah's fingertips as she prepares to cast her Arts.
But a moment before she can cast, a black shadow crawls up her ankle.
Ulšulah Ugh.
Ulšulah has to take a step to the right in order to shake off the persistent entanglement of the shadow.
Her Arts go out of control, and a red glow shoots out from the damaged seams of the spine.
The sound of a muffled explosion booms from the distant cave wall.
Ines You've gotten rusty, Ulšulah.
I guess you've been doing well for yourself in the Scar Market.
Ulšulah You're a bunch of survivors, I'll give you that.
Back in Kazdel, I made quiet bets with the old timers on how many of you would actually collect on those jobs you were taking.
As long as I bet on Hoederer, Ines, and later the psycho W, I always made money.
W Sounds to me like you owe us a big cut.
Ulšulah That's the famous sharp tongue on this W. Haven't you learned anything from Ines?
This time, though, you took a wrong turn.
Two kings of the Royal Court are here, going all out, not to mention the "King of Sarkaz".
This place is never gonna be a safe haven where you can escape the war, not the kind of place you can survive.
Hoederer What about you?
You heard about Theresis's trump card in Londinium?
Assuming... the consequences out there are way beyond anything anyone's ever seen before, you still think it's a fair price to pay for the Sarkaz to rebuild Kazdel?
Ulšulah ......
...That's enough chit-chat.
Soldiers, end them here, while there's still time.
[The guardians noticed something.]
Spine Guardian Major, look.
On the bones there...
Blood crawls along the bones, creeping toward them.
Blood is filling the place, overflowing the damaged gaps, connecting the long, cold body.
Ulšulah It's the Sanguinarch.
Looks like he's ready.
It... begins to grow warmer.
Power accumulates in the bones again, the spine sways left and right, audibly creaking.
The Feranmut resumes its roving.
Hoederer So much blood...
Ulšulah, where did all this blood come from?
W As if you need to ask. It's courtesy of that homicidal Sanguinarch. He slaughtered the place clean.
Ines No, their wrists...
Ulšulah and her men all have bleeding wounds on their wrists.
Drip, drip... it starts as beads of blood, then turns into ribbons, then rivers.
How much blood is in a human body?
The blood flowing out of the guards joins with the bloodstains spreading over the bleached bones.
Spine Guardian "I offer Your Highness my blood, Prince of the Crimson Court."
"May you hunt unimpeded."
Ulšulah "Let our blood form for you a swift chariot."
Ines Ulšulah, stop! Have you lost your marbles?!
Hoederer The Feranmut... it's about to move again!
The currents of history might be about to sweep this place away!
W That bitch wants to go down with us—
Ulšulah I am not controlling it.
Ulšulah Blood has replaced muscle, tendons, and marrow.
Isn't that enough to control it?
The guards' exposed skin is now visibly pallid. Ulšulah's complexion is also looking worse.
Finally, the flow stops.
A Sarkaz soldier will give everything for his liege, not only his blood.
Their skin shrivels, and finally, they collapse.
Ulšulah It's been an honor and a privilege, men, you stood with me to the end. We will meet again among the myriad souls.
I told you, this skeleton isn't a place to escape, it isn't a place to survive anymore.
[The skeletal Feranmut continues to rumble.]
Hoederer Hurry! We need to take cover in the cabin!
The illusions are already manifesting, we don't know where they might go!
[A wave of energy rushes in.]
Hoederer —It's creating waves! Look out!
<Background 3>
Ines Ugh, where does the Vampire want to take us?
W Hoederer?
Hoederer I'm here, with her.
[Hoederer grabs Ulšulah with him.]
Hoederer She's lost too much blood. Whether or not she lives is all up to her now.
Ulšulah You might as well leave me outside, Hoederer. I'd rather die with my men.
You've killed so many "old friends", there's no way you suddenly grew a heart today.
Hoederer We can use you.
Ulšulah I told you, the skeleton's out of my control now.
Hoederer You also said you're loyal to the Commission.
If you think the Military Commission is the hope for Kazdel to become a nation... then why is that guy calling himself a regent?
Why does he need Theresa? Why does he think winning this war will secure a future for Kazdel?
What is Theresis thinking?
Ulšulah ......
Hoederer Whatever, we'll talk after we take down this Feranmut.
Ulšulah What... are you going to do?
Hoederer Our goal hasn't changed.
We're going home.
Ulšulah Heh... home.
That was supposed to be the skeleton's last mission.
Hoederer What...?
Ulšulah It has a name. We codenamed it Lifebone.
Nobody uses it much, but when General Manfred named it... he was talking just like you.
Hoederer Just like me? Manfred...
Ulšulah We're enemies, so I'm done with questions. I'm just gonna wait to die.
Well, heh, I guess making it to today is a kind of an answer.
You really think General Manfred is blind? That he doesn't know what you're up to?
Ines ......
Ulšulah I mean, you can only talk about going home if you manage to survive your run-in with the Sanguinarch.
Hoederer You're right.
Hoederer I'm gonna borrow your watch.
Perhaps due to her blood loss, Ulšulah is basically powerless to resist. Hoederer takes the lovely pocket watch without any trouble. Its cold metal case is engraved with intricate witchcraft runes.
The watch is ticking backwards.
A murmur that no one else hears fills his mind for a moment.
Hoederer It really is... louder than I imagined.
Hoederer grits his teeth and leaves behind the loud whispers.
He searches within it for the true, dormant consciousness of the Feranmut.
Hoederer Feranmut who wanders this land, you are not dead, you've decided to continue your existence in a different way.
You're still here, aren't you?
<Background 4>
At the center of the disaster, the silent Feranmut slowly swims. Where it wanders, there is only ruined emptiness.
The past lifts it, and the future is separated by it.
A figure stands in front of it.
Young Vampire? Stop, Feranmut.
You are about to step into Kazdel, our city. The people here refuse your visit.
Choose another path.
Or else, the Sarkaz will slaughter you.
This is your only warning.
Feranmut ......
Young Vampire? Very well.
My brother directed us to forbid its advance, to obey the will of the King of Sarkaz.
Sanguine Court, to me.
Powerful witchcraft condenses in the Vampire's hands, and a giant crimson spear falls from the sky.
One massive wound after another pierces it.
The silent Feranmut finally speaks, as if waking from a dream.
"Oh... I may have slept for too long..."
"Kazdel... When... did it become a city?"
"Your... 'King of Sarkaz'... is he not your sole chosen leader...?"
"Why is he not... standing before me?"
<Background black>
An image that all have forgotten is shattered by the moving Feranmut.
It has not roamed in centuries.
It gently moves its fins, now only bleached bones, pushing through layer after layer of space.
The one who once killed it now bestows warmth upon it again.
The skeleton searches for a suitable place to stop.
Until finally—
Yam Shel Kokhavim.png
The massive skeleton hovers over an endless sea.
The cave, the battle, and even the slowly rising sun are nowhere to be seen.
Instead, there is only...
A calm sky, a calm sea, and calm... stars.
All the cruelty that occurs on the continent seems to have never existed here.
This is beyond the horizon, beyond civilization.
This is what remains of the skeleton for the Prince of Blood to find at last—
An untouchable realm.
<Background 5>
The crimson river connects with a dark blue nerve and intertwines tightly.
The slender murderer closes his eyes and feels the pounding rhythm of his victim.
With blood for reins, he harnesses the creature that can only wander through history.
Sanguinarch of Vampires After those illusory visions and memories of the past, you've indeed brought me a more... valuable scene.
Why don't the two of you, in the face of such a scene, fizzle those frankly laughable Arts in your hands?
Have a look around, take some time to admire it all—
This... is the tomb I have chosen for you.
Amiya It was daytime just a moment ago, but here...
A dark night, and an endless sea.
Logos The stars are changing.
I've never heard of any place like this, not in any records, not in any legends.
So, this must be...
Sanguinarch of Vampires Distant enough, yes.
I do wonder how far we are from Kazdel now.
This land they all call Terra, is it too vast, or is it too small?
Logos Amiya, be careful.
His blood... it's sublimating.
He awakened his blood with that witchcraft.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Don't talk like an outblood, Banshee.
You know, I treat purebloods as equals.
Perhaps, when compared to the Crimson Court, which has spent eons seeking purity, you have been more deeply influenced by Originium.
But, well, among the Sarkaz, you are indeed quite... formidable.
Come, let's not be stingy with my blessing, you cannot reject my gift. Now that I've awakened your power, you are finally worthy of facing me.
Let me hear the screech of your knell, if it can still darken the moonlight.
Crimson ripples spread, and at this moment, the sky is no longer the sky, nor is the sea the sea.
They are only refractions of blood, reflections of blood.
The Sanguinarch smiles faintly, a blood soul pumping like a heart in his palm, reflecting the face of the young Banshee in a structure as deep as life itself.
And then, the blood soul shatters.
Logos "I write, therefore, I command."
"The night conceals me from death."
Sanguinarch of Vampires Another incantation...
Another of your shallow incantations.
You have talent, no doubt about that. The flapping of your lips and the doodles of your bone pen are enough to humiliate the so-called Originium "Arts" of common people.
And yet, why do you resist your heritage so?
Show me your true self, King of the Court, Banshee!
Duq'arael, Sanguinarch of Vampires, Prince of all Blood, demands you show your true self!
Amiya Enough, Vampire!
Hold on, Logos—
Black Arts erupt from the girl's hand, parting the sea of blood.
But the blood does not yield, it roars.
The King of Sarkaz's Arts dissolve and shatter, and the red surges even more intensely.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Oh, King of Sarkaz. I nearly forgot you were here.
Cautus, King.
Look at you, you didn't receive even a scrap of my boon.
Cautus blood, tedious and ordinary. No matter how hard I try to scrape something together, I can't find a shred of talent or power.
I can't even say that your blood is mixed or impure, as those adjectives still imply an expectation of return to purity.
But you...
There are chaotic bloodlines I approve of, but they are without a doubt all "formidable" or "magnificent".
But what do you have? A laughable motivation? A shallow conviction?
Amiya I don't have to answer you.
I just have to defeat you.
[Amiya strikes the Sanguinarch, whose name is revealed to be Duq'arael, with her Arts, who blocked it with his own blood Arts.]
Sanguinarch of Vampires Is this our King of Sarkaz? Just stealing a bit of attainment from another, chaotic, and disorderly.
Nothing even on the level of the Banshee's little tricks born of his rebellious mind.
—Even less than that pair of siblings.
Logos Amiya.
Don't let him provoke you. As it stands, his power is still growing.
We need to end this fast.
Amiya I know.
We need to get back under clear skies.
Sanguinarch of Vampires In the past...
I once slew a so-called "King of Sarkaz", and it wasn't particularly difficult.
And I suspect your end will be the same, this time.
You question me with black blades.
I answer you with the gift of death.

After operation

Amiya and Logos confront the Sanguinarch of Vampires, who, enraged at the increasing weakness of those chosen by the Crown, decides to abandon it beyond the edge of civilization. After a challenging battle, the Sanguinarch falls from the Feranmut skeleton.
<Background 5>
Blood rain falls incessantly, as if it will never stop.
Logos and Amiya's shoulders have been soaked red by the rain.
The white-haired Vampire, however, seems to stroll casually under the rain, completely spotless.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Look at the sorry state of yourselves.
Lost in confusion, losing sight of what matters.
Even if no one answers your cries, you can't waste the stage you've been given, don't waste your chance at a grand farewell.
Logos "I state it, therefore, it is prescribed."
"The wind and rain cease, deprived of the right to flow."
The moment the words are spoken, the blood rain freezes in midair.
Like curtains, like stars, it refracts the sorrow of the sea, the brilliance of the moons.
The Sanguinarch squints, seemingly unsurprised by the incantation of the Lord of the Banshees. Rather, it is as if he is appreciating a piece of art drawn between heaven and earth.
Sanguinarch of Vampires You've halted the surging? Impressive. Blood pauses at your command.
But—I am its master.
The suspended beads of blood suddenly burst in the air, splattering anything they can reach.
Sanguinarch of Vampires The knell will decay, the order will wear, no?
If you so disdain your noble blood, I might as well extract it and return it to your mother, Banshee.
She will play for you a mournful whistle.
Logos Amiya!
The Vampire only gives Amiya a momentary opportunity, but it is more than enough.
Amiya's palm presses against the Vampire's body, sticky blood burning her palm.
Amiya Is this your blood?
Heated by Arts, heated by your talent.
But the hot blood I've seen—
—has all been for the sake of resistance, for the sake of life.
And those people, their blood is much hotter than yours.
Black lines burst from Amiya's palm, piercing through the Vampire's body.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Hngh.
Logos Amiya, fall back!
You didn't get his vitals!
Sanguinarch of Vampires Oh how cold, King of Sarkaz.
A monarch of such little grace you are.
Amiya Sanguinarch of Vampires, Prince of the Crimson Court, your offspring fill every battlefield the Sarkaz touch.
You proclaim to them that slaughter and conquest are the ancient traditions of the Vampires.
You've shaped your court into what it is today. You've made the people see all Vampires as nothing more than twisted creatures of desire like yourself.
But the Vampires I know are not like you.
They haven't gone mad like you.
Sanguinarch of Vampires They've only managed to conceal their desires, conditioned to deeply by this age in which they have no home.
Some choose to bow down to the invaders, and I pity them.
Amiya No, that's not it.
How do you interpret the blood that your court stands for?
Sanguinarch of Vampires The sufferings of the Sarkaz need no elucidation. All Sarkaz, even those who submit to you, inevitably know the taste of blood.
Overturned in dark alleys, intercepted in dark forests, sometimes a throat is cut, sometimes cold daggers are thrust between ribs.
It awakens the siblings, who now know the cost of submission, and they come to rebel until they too are covered in the blood of their enemies.
How pitiful.
Kill or be killed, this is the cycle of blood that the Sarkaz carry.
Amiya Is that how you define the meaning of blood? A cycle?
The first time any of us felt blood on our skin, wasn't it... when we were born from our mothers?
Blood is the foundation of human life, heritage passed down on umbilical cords, inevitable stumbles when exploring the outside world, and wounds that will surely heal.
But you see it only as a synonym for torment and death.
Your obsession makes you bloodthirsty.
You, with all your arrogance and pride, lead them to believe that this is the path the Sarkaz should take, the things they should do.
I reject you, Sanguinarch.
I reject your actions, your words, and your court.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Ahahahahah! What is this I'm hearing?
You, an outblood, reject me?
A mere crown has inflated you to what... King of Sarkaz?
Crimson Blood 1.png
The blood sea churns, its waves cover the moons.
Crimson removes all other colors.
Amiya I don't care what I am, or what I'm called.
I only know what I need to do.
The Prince stops moving for a moment.
A voice echoes in his mind.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Is this how you manipulate the King's power, Cautus?
Will you share some profound words? Try to shake me with shallow emotion?
You're welcome to try.
Shake? No.
This is a rejection.
The rolling of the waves slows, together with the moonlight.
Amiya I reject you.
I reject you, the way you reduce the King, the Sarkaz, and Kazdel to concepts of power and tradition.
I reject you, how you entrust the future to the past, entrust life to slaughter.
Theresa, the King, the Chancellor, the leader of Babel, she showed everyone a path.
Maybe that path is too idealistic, maybe her promises won't bear the thousands of years of hatred of the Sarkaz.
But that's not now, not your choice.
Sanguinarch of Vampires ......
Amiya You'd laugh at my weakness? Say it's not my place to talk about the Sarkaz with you?
Or you'd mock Logos for not making use of the blood you 'awakened' just now?
Sanguinarch of Vampires Oh, King of Sarkaz... You eavesdrop on my thoughts? Is that your ability?
Then of course you know what I'm going to say.
Amiya I do.
But we've never said that the Sarkaz should give up their resistance. We've never said that suffering is justified.
On the contrary—
Those rebels who awaken from their suffering and hardship, from the abyss of hatred—
They will be much, much stronger than you.
The lost homeland of the Sarkaz is not in the history you keep looking back to, an eon ago.
It can't be a slogan, or fantasy, or symbol.
It's right here, where the Sarkaz came from.
In the city called Kazdel, where so many real people live, people that you've only condemned to a void of ideas.
You've imagined the present from the past, and the real future can never be born.
It's time to stop, Vampire.
[Amiya breaks one of her rings, and...]
Crimson Blood 2.png
Amiya's ring shatters, sending splinters flying.
Cold anger burns within Amiya as she scrutinizes the enemy before her.
She thought her anger would rise, burning like a fire that could scorch the ocean.
But no, that's not what's happening.
Amiya feels more than just anger, also an intense... sadness.
The Sarkaz, a people who have lost their homeland.
Yes, they believe that it is only through violence and war that they can reclaim all they've lost.
It's easy to blame them, with cliche words of morality, justice, and kindness.
Words that have been spoken over and over again, even as the war continues, and hatred spreads.
Because that is how this world treats them.
This world has imposed on them violence and war.
So then, what's wrong with an eye for an eye? Where is the crime in blood for blood?
Every King of Sarkaz operates on those principles, so the war never stops.
This must be broken, but how... how can this system be broken?
Sanguinarch of Vampires Even Theresa failed. What do you think you are?
Yes, even she failed.
Amiya That's why Theresa needs me. The Doctor and Dr. Kal'tsit need me.
And that's why I'm here.
I, as the revenant called me, as you called me, as so many Sarkaz believe me to be—
The outblood—the weak—King of Sarkaz.
Stand down.
[Amiya unleashes her King of Sarkaz powers that does manage to affect Duq'arael...]
<Background 5>
The obsidian decree transforms into the judgment of the King, stabbing into the scorched blood.
The thick red finally dissipates—
The Vampire takes a few steps back, raising his hand to wipe away the blood that flows from his nose and mouth.
His body is damaged, and his white clothes are at last stained with blood.
Amiya You can't fight anymore, Sanguinarch.
It's time for this battle to end.
Sanguinarch of Vampires King of Sarkaz, won't you grant me that vision of emptiness?
Don't you want to peer into my thoughts, see my sorrows and pain?
Amiya ......
Sanguinarch of Vampires You can reprimand me, reject me. Countless Sarkaz believe this is the power of the King.
You say I've corrupted my court, but what about you?
Oh King, the Sarkaz take your direction, your path. My people follow you, expecting you to well exploit their flesh and blood, their lives, and their souls.
Their blind faith is ridiculous.
I sneer at the King's comfort, but... I have seen it.
My elder brother was a King of Sarkaz.
Hah, what a lofty title, what a transcendent role—
He was looked to as the leader of the Sarkaz, our guiding light.
He was a natural savior, the one who would pull us out of our misery.
But what was the reality?
What kind of people has the Black Crown chosen?
In the beginning, the King of Sarkaz was indeed magnificent, the Diαblos walked the path of punishment, the Goliaths roared the fearless calamity—
But they found themselves betrayed by the cowardly, sold out by the selfish.
This is our curse.
Amiya "The King killed the King."
Succession to this crown often comes with death.
Sanguinarch of Vampires The vile always prevail.
As such, the Crown was besmirched by shortsighted fools.
The weak began to appear among the Kings.
They were narrow-minded, focused on toying with the power the held in their hands—They became no better than the hypocritical lords among the Elders and Ancients.
The power they stole from others clouded their vision. The focus of my people's faith turned from fearless warriors to vermin hiding in their palaces.
They even forgot the shame borne by the name "Sarkaz"!
But the Crown continued to make its laughable choices, right up to my brother.
I thought surely he would be the hero we had waited for!
He, on the other hand, had the audacity to say to me that the Sarkaz could no longer afford to continue to war, that it would take generations to rebuild Kazdel...
Even the skeleton beneath our feet knows that the Kazdel we should rebuild was never meant to be a city. And that the "King of Sarkaz" should be the one to stand before them all.
How can a man like that deserve to hold a single drop of Teekaz blood within his body?!
Do you see it, King of Sarkaz?
Amiya I see... a bloody civil war.
The carpets of the palace are soaked red.
I see a... Vampire, lying in the arms of another Vampire.
Logos The legend of "The Toppled Blood Prince".
He died in a civil war. You're his kin, did you fight in the war?
Amiya No.
Sanguinarch of Vampires No! Of course not! "Did I fight?"
I shattered the Crown myself!
I remember it like it was yesterday. My hand pierced his chest. The limpid Teekaz blood danced on my fingertip, finally entering my veins.
He turned his head to look at me, grabbing my clothes... The "King of Sarkaz" showed his illusory vision to his murderer before he died, the vision that should have been bestowed as an honor.
In the vision, I saw... I witnessed, peace.
As you said, Cautus, blood is not synonymous with death. I stood in the valley, watching a quiet village, a doctor laughing as he spoke, stitching up wounds for the injured.
An injured man tells the doctor that his quarry was particularly ferocious, but he eventually won out. In the courtyard hangs the freshly harvested beastmeat.
...And the doctor is me.
But this makes me uncontrollably angry.
How tragic, how meaningless, how shameful! My brother actually believed that this false "peace" could deceive me? He was horrifically wrong!
He thought I was blinded by hatred? No, I know what peace is. And that's exactly why I feel so restless!
We long to see the great and powerful, true Teekaz!
I absorbed my brother's blood into my body, and I watched as the Black Crown vanished before my eyes—
Logos But you did not ascend to the throne of the "King of Sarkaz".
Sanguinarch of Vampires And I do not regret that. If it could choose a formidable leader, I would be genuinely delighted.
But this Crown disappoints me time and time again. Each time I am more disappointed.
My brother's successor was a wandering vagrant. The next was a lumberjack. If it weren't for the records kept by the Confessarii, these people would not be remembered at all.
Later, a King who ruled Kazdel was killed by the monster called Kal'tsit in the sight of the coalition army.
Then came Theresa and Theresis.
They were impressive, but also frustrating. Theresa, immersed in her fantasies, wasted her strength, much like my... weak elder brother.
And her successor... turned out to be a Cautus, an outblood.
Things being what they are, the Crown's choices being so absurd, even as its existence brings such humiliating hope to my people—
I would rather bury it beyond the reach of civilization. I will let it be truly lost, forgotten to history.
Logos You're still struggling.
Amiya, don't give him a chance.
[Duq'arael channels his Arts.]
Sanguinarch of Vampires You are weakening too. However tarnished the Crown may be, its weight is not something an infantile Cautus could bear.
It seems the Confessarii so eager to manipulate the Crown are going to blather some nonsense at me.
Take another look around, Cautus. If you die, there will be no more "successors".
Or maybe you'd place your crown on the moons?
The flowing blood surges toward the Sanguinarch's body.
The white-haired Sarkaz stands proudly once again.
Amiya What...? How can he still fight?!
The King's Arts should have pierced his body, leaving it unable to regenerate!
Logos ......
He is using blood to fill the holes in his flesh, using it to mend his wounds.
He's a marionette now.
Sanguinarch of Vampires You've become more proficient in the use of the King's power, Cautus.
But all your admonitions, warnings, judgments, and proclamations are nothing but jokes.
Ignorant little rabbit, the crown over your head represents no responsibility or authority.
King of Sarkaz, hah. I mock not only your foolishness, but that of the King.
And that of the Crown itself.
The once vibrant red that filled the entire space no longer exists.
Only a bit of crimson oozes from the Sanguinarch's pupils.
Sanguinarch of Vampires When the Sarkaz lose the King on which they're so dependent, then perhaps they will wake up from this shameful dream of a coming salvation.
I accede to your statement, that those awakening from a dream will be much more powerful.
And that is why you cannot defeat me.
How can the fallen consciousness of the Sarkaz resist me, who once carried the blood of the Teekaz?
The polluted cannot defile the pure, the impure cannot touch the limpid.
Your origin lies in the Teekaz, a long line you can only climb!
We are the rebels!
Logos "I decree, therefore, I correct."
"Blood and fire extinguished, face to doom."
Amiya Look out, Logos!
A touch of crimson appears from nothing.
The space once occupied by the Banshee is replaced by blood.
Logos *cough*!
His blood, it's... affecting me.
Several times stronger than those Arts Circles—
Sanguinarch of Vampires Yes, thanks to you, I have also shed my blood here.
And therefore—
This place is now part of Kazdel.
Who would have thought that as much as anyone assumed they knew the full length and breadth of this great land...
The boundaries of our home are still expanding, even in this time and place.
Sarkaz, my self-proclaimed Sarkaz kin!
March with your blood, carry on with that which will never betray you, the boon of your blood!
I will take you back to the origin of all of this.
And that is—
A shadow pierces his chest.
Threads of blood holding him together are severed in an instant.
Sanguinarch of Vampires You—
Ines Sorry, Sarkaz boons don't do much for me.
W Bunny!
You *Sarkaz profanity* aren't Sarkaz! Hop to it! Weaken his binds!
Amiya That's what I'm doing! His Arts are even... crazier than I imagined!
I can barely hear his thoughts anymore, there's... there's only red... all red...
I've almost... got it!
Sanguinarch of Vampires Another outblood... an unexpected development.
The scent of your blood... you're Caprinae?
Such a dull disguise... let's have your blood suffocate you.
Ines ...Urk!
Sanguinarch of Vampires Do you think such crude Arts would let you kill a King of the Sarkaz Royal Court?
Hoederer Of course not.
A heavy sword points directly at the Sanguinarch's head.
Hoederer You can't call something as cliche as slaughter an "awakening", Sanguinarch.
You're still wandering in hatred and destruction, you've never left the "abyss".
You're the ones who are still sleeping.
Sanguinarch of Vampires —Vile traitors—

King of Sarkaz!
Amiya Now!
Before he recovers, knock him off the skeleton!
[Amiya, Ines, Hoederer, and W attacks Duq'arael together to push him off the Lifebone.]
An elegy begins to play.
The wailing of the Banshee weaves into a mournful melody, and the waves beneath his feet sing a solemn song.
A steady male voice harmonizes with the sound of the bells, with moonlight as his prose.
The bone whistle sounds itself before it is played.
Its distant howl, traversing time itself, strikes the Crimson Court.
Logos The moment I took my throne, the knells were already tied to my fate.
None of us can escape.
But what the elegy mourns will not be your corpse.
It will be all of our connections.
The Sanguinarch continues to struggle, blood gushing from his fingertips, like claws carving deep scratches into the bleached skull of the Feranmut.
His body disintegrates into the dirge, only to reform in blood.
He is the icon of blood, and as long as there is blood, he will continue to fight.
Sanguinarch of Vampires I—will not—Banshee—
Logos Amiya, join me.
Explore the strings of the elegy. Seek out the origin of the Banshee.
Look at me. Look to the wails you once covered your ears to avoid.
We must end him here.
Amiya I'll try!
The Banshee's song echoes again, and the ancient knells seem to materialize, deterring the creeping blood.
The Vampire still rises.
After a moment, a rather tender feminine voice joins the harmonic dirge.
A proclamation of death? A sentence of rejection?
No, not only. The melody carries a kind of timidity, and lingering... sadness.
As the blood cools, the moonlight changes. The hatred of the Sarkaz is not unreasonable, and the Vampire's vengeance is not unreasonable.
However, this is by no means the promised future. Can the survivors have a future, on scorched earth?
What do those siblings... actually see?
Sanguinarch of Vampires Banshee! Listen!
You have still—Accepted your blood, my boon—
You have not yet... defeated yourself!
<Background black>
What echoes here is no longer an elegy.
It is only a sigh.
A sigh that makes him uneasy.
The heat of the explosion and the weight of the sword make the Sanguinarch feel powerless for the first time.
He looks at the small, ever so small, King of Sarkaz.
He looks at that Cautus, so inferior to the Sarkaz. He looks at the Black Crown, such a meaningless curse.
The history and illusions he trampled on, the bloodline and inheritance, the revenge and unrivaled power, all suddenly disappear.
He feels a void beneath his feet.
Lamentation of Duq'arael.png
Sanguinarch of Vampires ......
Ridiculous... even the myriad souls mock me.
Lord of the Banshees, and... King of Sarkaz.
You keep these deserters around who ignore the past, and in the end, you don't even dare to act yourselves.
Oh... the vile always prevail.
This is indeed our curse.
The outblood King has executed me?
The King of Sarkaz resounds with the knells. But you don't know how strong the ties of blood are. You try to judge...
Heh, in the end, you did use the power within your blood!
Two elegiac singers offered me a dirge at the same time—
When the time came, you could not resist the instinct within your blood that comprises all that you are.
Did you really kill me? No.
I have returned the Teekaz blood to where it belongs...
Go and see, go to Londinium
(Whispered Sarkaz) I'll be waiting for you behind the curtain of ruin.