Operation story: 13-3

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Confessarius Guard icon.png
Confessarius Guard
Female Victorian Elite Guard icon.png
Victorian Officer icon.png
Victorian Officer
Female Victorian Elite Guard icon.png
Victorian Officer
Victorian Guard B icon.png
Victorian Soldier
Battleship Deck
Battleship Deck Red Sky
Volcanic Cave
Cold Forest

Before operation

The Duke of Windermere is attacked by the Sanguinarch of Vampires, Confessarius and Damazti on the battleship that the Rhodes Island personnel are on. The Sanguinarch of Vampires kills the Duke of Windermere.
<Background 1A>
Endless reports.
An avalanche of intel has flooded this lonely battleship ever since it left Norport.
There are signs of trouble from Leithanien to the east, Sargon to the southwest, Kjerag to the west... while everything remains silent in the south.
The messages are suffocating, eating away at my nerves.
My mother seems utterly unmoved, impassively issuing order after order.
But even she cannot resist a frown when she reads the "congratulations" from her fellow dukes.
This is her life.
She is here, and so this is my Lynncardine.
I am home.
Focus, Delphine. Listen to the reports. This is no time to let your mind wander.
She adjusts the position of her eye patch. Is it to hide the wrinkles?
The weather here is very different from Lynncardine. It's suppressed, heavy, the gloom of rain and fog ever present.
I just want to—
??? What are you gazing at so absent-mindedly, Delphine?
Delphine Nothing, Mother.
It's just...
I don't get to see Londinium from this angle very often.
[The Duke of Windermere stands beside Delphine, her daughter.]
Duke of Windermere I know how you look when your mind is wandering.
Are you bored by the chatters from the rear?
Delphine No... I'm just thinking about Norport Borough.
Duke of Windermere Sorry, I didn't expect the situation in Londinium to deteriorate so much, so quickly.
I should have arranged for your evacuation sooner.
Delphine We had compiled reports on everything that went on in Londinium, but we weren't able to bring them.
We should be the ones apologizing.
Duke of Windermere That's alright. A few little troubles don't mean much to the big picture.
Delphine Perhaps the Duke of Caster should be held responsible for most of them.
Duke of Windermere I know. Let's hope my Messenger isn't making things too difficult for her right now.
Delphine But the value of that intel to subsequent operations...
Duke of Windermere Pales in comparison to your value, Delphine. Relax.
I'm here, and Irnclad[sic] Galavae is nearby. Everything will be right again once we return to the city.
We'll restore Londinium, and Victoria.
Delphine Of course.
Mother, I...
I thought I would die down there.
Duke of Windermere I wouldn't let that happen to my daughter.
You've done well. You have the patience and attention to detail of your father.
But you don't have to be the one to do all that work. You're my heir, and your place is at Lynncardine.
Our standoff with Leithanien can be trying. You'll need to get used to those matters. Plus... I could use someone to talk to.
Delphine I thought I could do better.
Duke of Windermere There are many things that a Duke of Windermere must worry about, for which she needs nerves of steel.
But that's not your burden. Not yet.
You can rely on your mother, at least until she's too old to walk.
Delphine I understand... thank you, mother.
Duke of Windermere We'll be home in another four or five hours. I've arranged for all the stuff you left behind at the old house to be set up.
Your pajamas, your pillow, your bed, your bathtub.
Delphine That's all stuff from before I came to Londinium—
Duke of Windermere It's not like you're any taller.
I have some nice things for you as well, but I'll keep those a secret for now.
Get a good night's sleep once we're back.
But don't get complacent. We have a lot to do.
Delphine ......
Duke of Windermere What is it?
Delphine I was in Londinium a long time, wasn't I?
I had many friends. Outstanding friends, from whom I had a lot to learn.
We lived in a city in disorder, chewing up and swallowing the lives we once had. But we believed in our cause. I was proud of it.
Then... things changed. One agent after another disappeared, and the Sarkaz took the city...
I was on my own. I had to live with more... common people. For the first time, I learned how they lived, and how they viewed Victoria.
Most of them are dead now. Those who still live huddle in the bowels of this ship, waiting for you to decide their fate.
One hundred meters beneath my pajamas, bed, and bathtub.
Duke of Windermere Hmm.
Delphine I'm really grateful, really, but is it all because—
She does not let me finish.
She puts her hand on my head without patting it, but I know this is her way of showing affection.
Duke of Windermere You did well, my daughter. You exceeded my expectations.
Go and see the troops below. It'll do you good to talk with them.
With that, Her Grace departs. She's always swift and decisive. I have no chance to say any more.
I scratch my slightly untidy head.
Delphine Mother!
Duke of Windermere We can talk later.
Delphine You shouldn't have come here yourself!
The words that come out of my own mouth surprise me.
Was it not because of my call for help that she came?
How could I say that.
Delphine It's too... risky!
We can't fully trust the Leithanians, and we don't know what the Sarkaz are planning next!
We've fallen behind on intel—
She dismisses me with a wave, perhaps telling me not to think too much about it.
Her silhouette remains sharp, making me feel like I'm worrying too much, and that she can take handle it all.
Sigh. She's right.
I'm not much taller at all.
<Background 2>
[Siege and her companions stood by the warship's cargo hold where the refugees from Norport are staying.]
Siege How long will our food last?
I don't think this warship was prepared to take on so many refugees.
Indra We can't just leave 'em to fend for themselves!
Mrs. Emil grabbed my hand just now. She didn't say nuffin'. All she did was look at me...
I... I can't take it anymore. Let's find Delphine!
Dagda Calm down, Hannah. We're on someone else's ship.
Indra I just—
Morgan I'll go keep 'em company. The old timers will feel better with a familiar face around.
Siege I'll stay with you.
[Delphine joins in.]
Delphine Sorry to keep you waiting. I talked to the quartermaster.
Some food will make it to those who need it most... that's the best I can do.
Siege Thank you, Delphine, and thanks to Duke Windermere.
Delphine Part of me hopes that Mother really wants to help these poor people out of the kindness of her heart, but...
Siege I know. It's because of me, or should I say, because of who I am.
It's fine, as long as it helps the people who fled with us.
Delphine You've adapted quickly, Vina.
Siege The time when we could do as we pleased has passed, Delphine.
Many souls on this ship are counting on me. I have a responsibility to them, both as Vina and as the Siege.
Lots of people are looking at us. I can tell Vina is busy.
Mother's ship is one of the biggest of the Victorian ships-of-the-line, but it was never designed to evacuate civilians. Certainly not this many.
The people of Norport are squeezed into holds meant to store ammunition and weapons, trying their best to find a clean place to sit down.
This is not the best accommodation, even if the most dangerous weapons have been removed. Vina's gang are doing their best to maintain order.
The refugees whisper about her amongst themselves. The officers on the ship pay no heed, nor does Vina respond to their calls of "Your Majesty" or "Your Royal Highness".
Regardless, she has become the heart and soul of this place.
Perhaps the civilians don't even realize themselves, but the reason they trust Vina is not so much because of her status, but because she is the only one they can rely on in this unfamiliar environment.
Siege How goes the war?
Delphine The number of reports coming in is unreal. Too many variables to keep track of.
The Duke of Wellington's offensive is unsteady, and our own defensive lines are being pressed...
We should have an overwhelming advantage in terms of forces, even if the dukes have yet to commit their full strength. We are facing a foe beyond the scope of modern military theory.
The Nachzehrer King... the only thing we know about him comes from sparse records of ancient times.
It has been too long since Victoria, indeed Terra as a whole, last faced a real Sarkaz army.
What chain reaction will their witchcraft produce? Are they really as primitive and backwards as the records say?
What force have the various Sarkaz branches come together to form, where we can't see them? Why do they stand together?
Siege ......
Delphine No need to worry too much, though. Mother... Duke Windermere and Duke Wellington will conduct this war together.
The Duke of Caster has also publicly declared her allegiance. The stalemate will not last long.
Once we return to Irnclad Galavae, both supplies and support will—
[Suddenly a rumble is felt.]
Morgan Whoa! What was that?
Delphine Looks like we're passing through a canyon... a good thing. It means we're about to leave the battlefield.
A canyon.
I feel even less at ease.
I know where mother's confidence comes from. This ship is defended by Windermere's pride, her Swordguards.
If the Sarkaz think this merely a reckless act by the Duke of Windermere, they will find themselves on the receiving end of blades that have been honed since the War of the Four Emperors.
But do we truly know the Sarkaz?
Dagda Is the ship slowing down, Siege?
Siege I think so. And the weather outside... say, what time is it?
How long has it been since we left Norport?
Delphine A few hours, I think.
Siege Is this just an ordinary canyon?
Delphine Yes, nothing remarkable besides some abandoned factories...
Abandoned factories. Yes, this place has been abandoned since before Londinium fell into chaos.
Why? Because of Catastrophe.
The massive crystal formations that Catastrophe left behind...
[Delphine noticed a Victorian officer walking by Indra in an odd manner and bumped into her.]
Indra Be careful!
Victorian Officer ......
Indra Hey, I'm talking to you!
Victorian Officer ......
Something's not right.
There's a different smell in the air.
I look around instinctively. All the elite soldiers in the hold are gone.
This is not right!
Delphine Get away from him, Hannah!
Siege pulls her back before I can.
I see the soldier smiling at me.
Delphine Look out!
It's too late.
Blood seeps from the gaps in the ceiling, dripping into the infiltrator's eyes.
Where did this blood come from?
Siege Look out!
Siege pushes me away. An instant later, a blood mist bursts where I stood.
Soon, the entire hold is engulfed in crimson.
Delphine Blood mist? Sarkaz witchcraft!
Siege Too many civilians here.
Morgan, Dagda, Indra.
The four of them exchange gazes, and take up positions around the frightened crowd.
The emotions in the crowd ranges from shock to panic. Some in the corners begin to scream, without even seeing exactly what happened.
Delphine Go down! The stairs are to the north!
[Shearer, the ship's doctor, runs toward Delphine.]
Shearer Lady Delphine!
Delphine Are you the ship's doctor?
Shearer We're under attack by witchcraft. The ship's casters can't decipher it yet. The Duke and—
[Suddenly a group of Confessarius Guards show up and attacks.]
Shearer Damn, how did they—
Dagda Look out!
A claw slaps away the sword that was inches from his throat.
The blood mist disperses, then reconverges, taking a gooey, wet form.
A Sarkaz emerges from the bloody shadow.
Confessarius Guard (In Sarkaz) The Vampire's witchcraft has taken hold.
Dagda I know that outfit... the skull mask...
Confessarius Guard (In Sarkaz) The Sighs of Kings... one variable to eliminate.
(In Sarkaz) Cause chaos and eliminate the outblood. Hesitate not to spill your own blood.
(In Sarkaz) Oh?
Dagda You were part of the siege of the Knights of the Tower...
[Dagda charges at the Confessarius Guard and strikes them, who guarded the attack. Indra strikes the Guard, allowing Dagda to break free.]
Indra Careful! I've gotcha!
[More Guards show up.]
Confessarius Guard (In Sarkaz) You will die here with your king, Victorian.
(In Sarkaz) Do it.
[The Guards attack.]
Delphine (Mother is on deck, but we still have civilians and our people below... I...)
Morgan Delphine! Your left!
[A Guard slashes at Delphine, but Morgan blocked it.]
Delphine Ugh!
Morgan Careful.
Delphine Sorry, thanks.
There aren't many of them. We can pin them down. The reinforced compartment is one bulkhead away. Get the civilians there—
Siege No, there's something more important that you must do.
Those people came with me. I promised to protect them.
Duke Windermere likely doesn't know how bad things are below.
Go and inform her. I'll hold out until your reinforcements arrive.
Delphine But I—
Siege This suits us better. You have a formal command structure. There's no way to integrate us quickly.
Delphine Vina...
Siege Go!
[Siege strikes one of the Guards, who withstood it.]
Siege Damn, you've got a hard head. Almost made my hand go numb.
Confessarius Guard *Sarkaz profanity*...
(In Sarkaz) So be it. The Sighs of Kings will be spoils enough.
(In Sarkaz) Surround the Aslan.
Siege Get ready for a brawl, mates.
For an instant, I wished I was with them.
Like when I first joined Slobberknocker Gym, when I went from being alone to being in a community.
Cador, and... Baird.
We stood together.
Siege This ends now.
The swing of the hammer compresses the air in the passage. It roars.
<Background black>
[Delphine runs.]
Tiny drops of liquid fall on my face.
My vision blurs.
??? Delphine!
A shadow draws near.
??? Delphine!
Delphine Mother?
I try to wipe my eyes.
I see another pair of eyes right there in front of me.
Red flows from their sockets.
Victorian Officer Delphine... go no further...
Delphine You're hurt—
Victorian Officer You'll only be in the way. Same for me.
Kill me, before whatever this is consumes me.
The Swordguards and Her Grace will kill the Sarkaz.
Do not put yourself in danger, Delphine... no...
I don't even feel the pain anymore...
Free me. Then stop.
I draw my sword.
She is still conscious. I should not do this to her. But I see the relief in her eyes.
She grabs my sword, sending it into her own body.
I'm trembling. I can't see clearly.
Victorian Officer Lady Delphine—You must live—
Thank you—for freeing me—
I look down and see the red eyes.
She gives up breathing, smiling to the end.
Delphine This is... Sarkaz...
My feet cannot move. Worry, unease, and fear grip them.
The lights go out. The only light comes from above deck.
[Delphine keeps running.]
<Background 1B>
There is only silence amongst the bodies. Rain solidifies as it falls.
Flowing backwards, evaporating, converging.
A red-black sun rises into the sky, obscuring its white counterpart.
A bloodless complexion emerges from the black sun, not a speck of blood on it.
He descends from the black sun.
I avert my gaze.
Am I afraid?
How shameful...
Sanguinarch of Vampires Hmm.
You should not have dodged.
The paleness of your face would have contrasted well with the blood drops.
They would have painted a picture of beautiful despair.
Duke of Windermere Hmph.
Leeches can't stop playing with blood, I see.
Nothing has changed with you people, even after all these centuries.
Rain begins to fall again.
Drip. Drop.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Look.
It's a good day to die.
[Several of the Duke's Swordguards join her side.]
Swordguard Your Grace, this attack was planned.
Duke of Windermere As expected.
For a sovereign of the Sarkaz to pay a personal visit, though... all well and good, I suppose.
Swordguard The battle below is not going well. The officers are organizing the defense.
Duke of Windermere No matter. This one is our only threat.
Mother... the Duke of Windermere points her sword towards the invading Sarkaz leader.
I cannot see the expression on her face, but I know that is not the mother I know so well.
The soldier was right. I would only be in the way.
Duke of Windermere I've long had enough of Leithanian Spire Arts.
I wonder what the spine of a Vampire looks like.
[The Duke slashes at the Sanguinarch.]
Sanguinarch of Vampires Hmmm.
You're a strong Victorian. You don't think you'll shirk back.
But your blood will betray you.
The creator built a bridge of life for humanity, and I stand above the bridge.
[The Sanguinarch used his powers to conjure leech-like creatures around him, but the Duke cuts through them.]
Sanguinarch of Vampires Oh?
Duke of Windermere Not any worse than those spire madmen.
A blue blade cuts through the rain of blood.
A tiny drop of rain cuts open Mother's cheek.
Was it the red rain, or blood seeping out? I could not see.
There is no change in Mother's expression, but... have I ever seen her get hurt before?
Sanguinarch of Vampires Poor fool.
Still clinging to dreams and fantasies.
Guess why your battleship fell from within?
Duke of Windermere ......
Focus on the mission at hand, soldiers.
Swordguard Roger.
Duke of Windermere Your duty is to kill the enemies of Windermere, not protect the life of Windermere.
Do all you can to weaken the Sarkaz. Victoria will take back what is hers.
[The Swordguards assault the Sanguinarch.]
The Vampire's movement starts to slow.
No, the Swordguards are too fast.
[The Duke joins in the assault.]
I've received formal military training. I did not go to Londinium unprepared.
But here and now, I realize the weight of the words "Duke of Windermere".
My mother never let her daughter see the kinds of battlefields that she knew.
Sanguinarch of Vampires Hm.
Not bad, not bad... you aren't a duke of Victoria for nothing.
How many Sarkaz have you eaten?
Duke of Windermere I don't have any such disgusting habits.
Sanguinarch of Vampires No.
You and your ancestors reveled in war, from Kazimierz to Leithanien.
A Duke of Windermere once had an army of Sarkaz. In the War of the Four Nations, which engulfed most of the land...
How did you or your ancestor use them?
Duke of Windermere ......
Sanguinarch of Vampires Parlor tricks, the theft of witchcraft, a favorite of the Nachzehrer.
The blood and flesh of Sarkaz spread across the battlefield, becoming yet another bulwark for your glorious armada.
You ate them up, alright.
Duke of Windermere Are you after revenge, Sarkaz?
Sanguinarch of Vampires Of course.
How dare you trifle with the methods of my creation, the property of the Crimson Court?
[The Sanguinarch absorbs the blood of the fallen creatures around him.]
Swordguard He's being strengthened by the blood of the fallen?
Duke of Windermere No.
It is no longer bodily fluids, but a part of the curse.
Prepare counter-Arts.
<Background fades out>
Stay calm.
Take a deep breath.
My throat is coarse. I cannot speak. I try to gasp for air, but the smell of blood is all there is.
Vampire and... Confessarius.
This is Mother's flagship. Lynncardine's most experienced commanders, bravest sailors and most steadfast warriors are gathered here.
Mother once told me that war is not about heroes, about charging into danger. A commander must see the whole battlefield, in order to see the way to victory.
I realize why this ship sailed deep behind enemy lines without support.
Because of me.
Delphine I...
This is no time for self-flagellation.
I have to do something. If there is no place on Mother's battlefield for me... someone must bring order.
One of the Kings of the Sarkaz Court is here. But would they really attack us so recklessly?
My espionage background tells me that something is missing from this puzzle.
I have to do something.
[Delphine remembered the rumble she felt on the hold before.]
<Background 1B>
Delphine —!
Could it be...? No, Arts that can teleport an entire army are unheard of... our ship fell from within...
I know this feeling...
I encountered him personally when leaving Norport. I had heard about this terrible King of the Sarkaz Court from Amiya. But he was defeated. How could he...?
Still, this is the most likely answer.
There are two Kings of the Sarkaz Court on this ship.
A truly terrifying conclusion.
Delphine But what about the Vampire? Why didn't he go straight to his target, if he could use his witchcraft on the officers?
Attacking secondary targets with witchcraft, then creating disorder with assassins... that's too inefficient.
But the Sarkaz fighting with Mother...
The Damazti... did he simply infiltrate us by taking the face of a Victorian?
—Damn it!
[Delphine runs toward the Duke to warn her.]
Delphine Mother!
Duke of Windermere Delphine?! Stay back—
Delphine That one's fake!
The Swordguards' weapons impale the Vampire.
The light of Arts penetrate the Sarkaz's twisted visage. The Arts of the Swordguards of Windermere, passed down from generation to generation, are simple, but brutally effective.
Mother quickly sets her sights back on the target.
I draw my sword.
The Swordguards do not hear my cry, but Mother is ready.
The Vampire laughs.
The massive Blood Arts explode before it can be cast.
A gust of wind sweeps through the sticky air, blowing away the sanguine rain and wind.
Death falls silent. True terror begins to spread, slowly but surely.
Blood converges upon the hand of the silhouette, forming a crystal. Then...
The other, the true—
[The "Sanguinarch" confronting the Duke of Windermere turns out to be an impostor as the real one reveals himself.]
Sanguinarch of Vampires Enough.
I don't enjoy seeing another wear my face.
The Swordguards pull back instantly.
Even so, two of them are late by an eyelash, and their flesh takes incomprehensible form in a split second.
I can feel my sword hand trembling, my throat seizing up. This is a battle beyond my comprehension.
Sanguinarch of Vampires A little girl saw through your disguise.
You're losing your touch, Damazti. The previous you would have been more convincing.
[The Sanguinarch impostor turns out to be one of the two halves of the reincarnated Damazti Cluster — who returns to the Sarkaz Royal Court's side — as they assumes their usual humanoid form.]
Damazti Cluster ......
Is that so?
Sanguinarch of Vampires These Arts are merely a poor imitation by the Confessarius.
Foul, uncouth, vulgar killing.
He looks towards me, then towards Mother.
I'm trembling.
Duke of Windermere Delphine.
Delphine Y-Yes!
Duke of Windermere Good job seeing through the trick. All the Swordguards would have been lost.
But there's nothing more you can do here now.
Delphine I, I—
Duke of Windermere The escort fleet is approaching. We must ensure that communication with the fleet is maintained.
Delphine The communications tower... it's behind the deck!
Duke of Windermere The enemy is few in number. Go.
...I'm counting on you.
She pats my shoulder with an injured hand.
Only then do I notice that she has many more scars on her than I remembered.
Delphine Understood.
I turn around and run for the communications tower.
Pride overcame fear in that instant. Mother said, "I'm counting on you."
I see the Confessarii trying to blow the communications tower, and our soldiers still resisting.
Delphine Thank goodness, the communications tower hasn't fallen yet—
[Suddenly the battleship slows down.]
Delphine The ship's slowing down?
It's the engines! They're attacking the engine room!
Victorian Soldier D-Damn it!
Grab my hand!
Don't look back! Get up!
Victorian Soldier Thank you! Oh, L-Lady Delphine—
Delphine We must regroup and counterattack. Reinforcements are on the way.
Listen up, men!
Dust clouds in the distance! Help is on the way!
Their plan—
Has failed? So easily?
I turn around.
The front of the deck has been completely engulfed in red fog, with only the flashing of sword and vampiric Arts to penetrate it.
Why do I feel so uneasy?
[Siege runs toward Delphine...]
Siege Delphine! Look out!
A pair of eyes peer at me, in the infinite raindrops, in the reflection of blood on the deck.
The Vampire's hand brushes my neck. Why? Is he not fighting Mother?
Vina tries to push me away, but it's too late.
My sword. I still have my sword.
I am her daughter.
She is counting on me.
[Delphine slashes her sword at the Vampire.]
The blood-woven crimson witchcraft vanishes into thin air.
Delphine *Pant*... *pant*...
Siege Are you alright?
Delphine I'm fine... it's all in my head...
Siege Your troops are holding back the enemy down below, so we've come up to help.
The bad news is that we found traces of the Damazti down there.
Delphine We know. The Sanguinarch and Damazti are attacking together.
No, wait...
That attack was not a Damazti feint. It was true blue vampiric witchcraft.
If the King of the Sarkaz Court had intended to kill me, there is no reason I should still be alive.
It was not my own strength that allowed me to resist.
He had other plans. There's no doubt about that.
Once again, I look towards the Swordguards. Their swords are still flashing. I can faintly see their silhouettes converging—
Something's not right.
They are falling, one by one.
They're backing up?
This is not right!
Where is Mother?
Siege Delphine? Where are you going?
[Several Confessarius Guards stood in Siege's way.]
Siege Agh, dreadful!
Confessarius Guard ......
(In Sarkaz) The scent of blood has changed. The Confessarius has succeeded, as has the Sanguinarch.
(In Sarkaz) Pull back.
(In Sarkaz) Those unable to do so, drive your daggers into your hearts on my command.
Siege You—
[As Delphine runs...]
Even if the fight against the fake Vampire had taken its toll, Mother and her Swordguards could not have fallen so easily.
I know the legends of Windermere's sword which no wall could stop, the blade of light that struck down the spires, one of Victoria's two sharpest swords.
I grew up listening to them.
Why? How?
I charge into the fog of blood, hearing only my accelerating heartbeat.
Finally, I spy a figure.
[The Cluster and the Sanguinarch had mortally wounded the Duke after a tough fight.]
Duke of Windermere Ugh...
Damazti Cluster You have lost all sensation in your arms. Your guards are routed.
How do you feel now?
Duke of Windermere Argh... ugh...
Damazti Cluster He caught you.
An instant of weakness, of disorder... why? We do not understand.
We find it... regrettable.
Duke of Windermere ......
Sanguinarch of Vampires ......
She's finished. Let this great warrior savor the fading of life.
Damazti Cluster Are you leaving?
Sanguinarch of Vampires I have no interest in the inconsequential deaths that remain.
One glance from that devil is enough to freeze my blood.
But he does not kill me.
Sanguinarch of Vampires This blood is a penny a gallon.
Damazti Cluster What are you after? We are unsure.
Sanguinarch of Vampires ......
The age of shame is coming to an end.
Damazti Cluster Are you hurt?
Sanguinarch of Vampires ...It does not matter.
He disappears into the blood.
Delphine Y... You...
Damazti Cluster Oh, there you are.
[The Cluster assumes the form of various people Delphine knows, ending with the Duke herself to seemingly mock her.]
Damazti Cluster The one who saw through us.
He said we were losing our touch. How convincing was the last one?
Is this good enough?
Delphine Don't—you dare—wear her—face—
He smiles at me with Mother's face.
Damazti Cluster ...We must try.
Then, with an identical sword—Mother's sword—
He impales his own chest.
Delphine Sarkaz!
In my fury I try to charge, but my body refuses to move.
[The Cluster assumes Delphine's form.]
Damazti Cluster (In Sarkaz) We'll do better next time.
He whispers in my ear, wearing my own face.
Mother's sword is still in his chest.
In "my" chest.
He falls, then familiar blood witchcraft covers him, consuming him.
After the blood boils and evaporates, it is as though nothing had ever happened.
All I can do is pick up Mother's sword.
I catch sight of Mother.
The sound of fighting has stopped. The wind has calmed. The ship has stopped.
I see blue hair on the ground. Mother is bleeding.
Duke of Windermere Delphine...
I can't see very well...
Have they retreated?
Delphine Mo...ther...
They're gone...
Mother... I, I'll call for the doctors—
You'll be fine. You're the Duke of Windermere. You're my mother.
Wait here, I'll—
Duke of Windermere I couldn't beat him... I can't believe it...
Don't go, Delphine... don't go...
Let me... look at you...
The Windermere's Last Wish.png
Mother's body grows cold in my arms.
I dare not let go.
The sound of Mother's heartbeat fades further and further away.
Duke of Windermere Don't cry.
Delphine I... I'm not crying, Mother.
Duke of Windermere I saw you swing your sword, Delphine... very good.
You had injured your hand. Your grip... it was never right. I was too hasty.
Delphine Mother... don't say any more...
Mother gazes towards the horizon. Is that the direction of Londinium?
Her eyes have always lain upon Victoria.
Duke of Windermere I remember... the direction your father left in...
We had a surprise for you... one that we prepared long ago...
Delphine Mother...
Duke of Windermere Delphine, you—
I thought you would be taller... the clothes will be a bit loose...
Just... calm down, Delphine...
<Background black>
The rain stops.

After operation

Amiya is attacked by the Confessarius Salus. Her powers are suppressed, and she falls unconscious. To save Amiya, the Doctor follows Salus and engages her, buying time for Logos and Ascalon to arrive.
<Background black>
You try to present a picture of calm.
The crowd is running. There are screams everywhere. They have hardly awakened from the last nightmare, before they are put into another great escape.
You brace yourself against the wall. Someone ran into you, hard. Someone pretty darned strong.
It all happened so quickly that you had no time to plan.
You had expected the worst the moment you failed to stop the first drop of blood from seeping into that curious citizen.
Even worse is that you and Amiya have become separated by the stampeding crowd.
It has been a long time since you last felt alone.
<Background 2>
Doctor Stay calm! / ...... / Don't panic!
The screams drown out your voice. Nobody is listening to your commands.
Panicking Citizen Out of my way, out of my way!
Crying Citizen Th-The monsters are coming!
Panicking Citizen Get out of my way!
Crying Citizen Get away! There's blood on you! Like those monsters!
They are not your operators. They are just ordinary people.
Reason is a luxury in the face of death.
??? Doctor!
Doctor, I'm here! Grab my hand!
You finally hear a familiar voice.
Doctor Amiya!
Amiya tries to force her way through the panicking crowd, and reaches out her hand.
Amiya Grab my hand, Doctor.
You know that you are the one whom Amiya cares most deeply about, always.
You do not want to disappoint her.
You penetrate the crowd and extend your hand with all your strength.
Doctor ...... / You... / You're not Amiya!
You realize who it is standing before you, a moment before your hands touch.
Doctor Damazti...
Amiya? ...Why?
What should The King of Sarkaz look like?
[The Amiya standing before the Doctor turns out to be the Cluster.]
Damazti Cluster ......
Doctor You're not the one you once were. / ...... / I heard Logos's bone whistle.
Damazti Cluster The myriad souls still reject us.
However... a change has occurred. A part of us has left us.
We must make a choice... we cannot remain stagnant.
The Damazti approaches you, one step at a time.
You can feel that the one-time King of the Sarkaz Court has changed. He is no longer an idle observer.
He has begun moving forward.
[Suddenly the real Amiya attacks the Cluster with her Arts.]
Amiya Doctor!
Damazti Cluster ...King of Sarkaz.
I tried to imitate you, but I failed.
Amiya A new Damazti...
Is this your choice? To formally stand against us?
Damazti Cluster We simply decided to try.
[Amiya channels her Arts.]
Amiya Hm—
Damazti Cluster Will we learn our meaning in battle against you, King of Sarkaz?
Where does our path lead?
Amiya Once... I asked the previous Damazti what I should do. He said I must overcome all doubt and hesitation.
If you still call me the King of Sarkaz after being reborn...
Then go find the answer yourself. You won't get it from me.
She is always at your side, smiling. It almost makes you forget that she is the true King of Sarkaz.
Dark Arts rumble. You find Amiya's presence downright imposing.
But still, you feel uneasy. Instincts tell you that this was no ordinary attack.
In just a short period of time, you have learned that the Duke of Windermere, defender of the frontiers, is no pushover.
She had her flagship break off from the fleet in order to save her daughter. This was an opportunity.
But the rest of the fleet was not so far away. The tactical advantage in attacking a ducal vessel is limited... unless this was a decapitation operation.
No, killing a duke only makes her men angrier. There is more to Theresis's plan.
Plus, this ship is home to more than just the duke's elite guards; you and your friends are here.
The King of Sarkaz is here.
Suddenly, a pang of intense pain dazes you.
[Salus the Confessarius reveal herself.]
Salus Oh, did I hurt you?
That Ascalon woman is so annoying. Is she so persistent with everyone?
Amiya Doctor!
Amiya disengages from her battle with the Damazti and runs towards you. Arts converge on her fingertips, and her crown appears above her head.
Doctor Look out, Amiya!
You're the one they're after!
[Salus struck Amiya with her own Arts.]
The black Arts are shattered, and the black crown gone.
Amiya's Arts disintegrate in an instant, as though they had never existed.
How could this be? It is the power of the King of Sarkaz!
Amiya H-How—
Salus I have long waited to rummage in your emotions and memories, little king.
I thought the Revenant would cause you some difficulty, but you seem to be in better condition than I expected.
Cautus, no, Chimera.
You are no Theresa.
An eerie dark halo envelops Amiya. She tries to break through, but the Confessarius's cage does not budge.
The cage grows smaller.
You look for someone who can help, a way to break Amiya free.
Confessarius Guard ......
The Confessarius guards block any eyes that dare gaze upon this place.
The enemy is more prepared than you thought.
Amiya Let go of me—
Salus You had the fortune to be conferred the crown, but do you truly understand your power?
We have studied the King of Sarkaz for thousands of years.
Amiya's struggle grows feeble. The ancient, bane arts drain her strength.
Her knees buckle, and she falls to the ground.
She lifts her hand, but not a ripple of Arts answer.
Salus As for you...
You feel the chilling gaze scanning you. Your heart is beating so fast, it threatens to escape your chest.
Anger and despair.
Death extends its tendrils towards you.
You clench your fist.
Amiya Get... away... from... Doctor!
[Amiya tries to break free from Salus' bindings.]
Salus Oh? Still mustering the power of the King of Sarkaz, even when surrounded by Confessarius witchcraft? I'm starting to miss Liz.
Well, this is a benefit to our experiments. I'll spare the Doctor's life, for now, and teach you to leverage your emotions.
But I must make sure you behave before handing you over to the leader.
Great Damazti, that nasty woman is coming. May I count on you to deal with the rest?
Damazti Cluster Very well.
Maybe she will temper us.
You see Ascalon sprinting towards you.
Countless Confessarius guards stand in her way. They fall without a sound, then the figures of countless Damazti once again bury her.
The Confessarius with blue hair lifts Amiya in her arms. The hull structure around you shatters, a staircase of earth and stone rises, and the wall of the canyon outside opens its gaping maw.
You have seen Arts like this before. But she is no Gargoyle.
Amiya Doctor...
Doctor Amiya!
Wherever they walk, the stone bridge trembles and shatters, and the cracks on the rock wall heal.
Ascalon tries to free herself from the Damazti tide, but the expressionless fragments seem endless.
Ascalon Doctor! Stay where you are!
The most important thing is—
The Confessarius and Amiya grow distant.
You have heard it many times from many people. You are not built for fighting, so weak you could not even complete the beginner course for trainee operators.
Kal'tsit wanted you to stay in the rear, giving orders in safety.
But Kal'tsit, equally thin and frail, stood before Theresis. You can still see the gaping wound when you close your eyes.
You should wait where you are. Ascalon needs time. You can work on a rescue plan once the battle has concluded.
A commander should learn to recognize when the situation is untenable.
Your ears ring.
Amiya is your partner, your family.
Your sense and sensibility, your past and memories all cry out.
<Flashback starts here>
Amiya Awakening.png
Amiya's Speech.png
Amiya and the Doctor.png
<Flashback ends here>
<Background 2>
The smiles, the tears, the hard times... the brief joy.
The hull breach is right beside you.
The stone staircase is starting to fall apart.

You put a numb foot forward.
Doctor Let her go— / Let Amiya go!
You leap before the bridge shatters completely.
Doctor Huff, huff, huff...
You run like you never have before, as the ground falls out from beneath where you just tread.
Your view is obscured by the white vapors that you exhale.
Your whole body trembles. You have never so lamented the frailness of your physique.
It is not far. You can catch them. You can—
There is no time to think. The hole is within reach, but the ever-shifting rock wall could close upon it at any time.
A few steps further.
You muster all the speed you have.
The next instant, you find yourself falling in infinite darkness.
<Background black>
How much time has passed?
With your portable light, you see that countless hands have emerged from the ground, pulling at the passage, sewing it shut.
The space continues to contract, pressing on you.
You do not know how far you must go, but you must not stop.
Down, down, down.
Doctor Huff, huff, huff...
Your lungs sting. A light in the distance is your only hope.
<Background 3>
Doctor ......
Escaping the contracting hole, you find yourself hanging from an upside-down statue. From its eyes seep water falling from above, gleaming an eerie red in the light of magma.
Doctor Where is this place? What are these statues?
You recognize the statues as Djall.
The Gargoyle shoulders the roof of the cave, feet burning in the magma.
The Banshee curls up in the wilted thorns, bone whistle in hand.
The Wendigo tries to tear the rock wall apart with twisted hands, frightful visage roaring beneath a mask.
The withered Vampire extends a hand from the lava.
A creature of unknown race holds its head in its hands, stone columns running through its eyes.
Doctor They look like they could come alive at any time. / Statues of the Sarkaz races?
??? You're tough, "Doctor". I respect that.
You feel a heavy blow, and a pair of baleful eyes.
Doctor ......
[Salus stood before the Doctor.]
Salus Awake?
How did you follow me with that feeble constitution of yours? I examined your body, but found nothing.
Well... not exactly nothing.
Your structure is... unusual. Different from all the samples I've seen. I would very much like to study you.
In great detail. Unfortunately, this place has been abandoned a long time, and the equipment is far from adequate. It would not do to damage such a precious sample.
Perhaps I could bring you back to Londinium. But Theresis seems to pay particular attention to you...
Doctor Amiya...
You look towards Amiya. Her consciousness seems hazy. Black Arts seep out from her, then fade into thin air the next instant.
Her brow twitches in pain. She is not in good shape.
You have rarely seen this expression on the brave child's face, ever since you met in Chernobog.
Salus Look, "Doctor". What is she looking at?
She's trembling.
Doctor What did you do to her?
Salus "The King of Sarkaz grants the promised land." The little bunny simply got a taste of her own power.
<Dialogue branch starts here>
Doctor We don't need to be crossing swords. You want knowledge? Rhodes Island has it.
Salus Laughable attempt at flattery.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor What do you want? We can talk about it.
Salus Meaningless negotiation.
<Dialogue branch>
Doctor Stop, or I'll drown you in lava.
Salus A trembling threat.
<Dialogue branch ends here>
Salus Painfully amusing, the way you hopelessly grasp at straws.
No operators at your side. Nothing for you to command. Even the King of Sarkaz whom you served is leaving you.
What can you do?
She draws closer.
You tighten the hand hidden behind your back.
All you have is a sharp rock that you happened to pick up in the chaos.
Your reason tells you that it is useless. Perhaps you would have had a speck of hope if you were Blaze, Ascalon, or even Popukar...
You feel regret, but even stronger is your determination.
The pain in your hand keeps you conscious.
Patience. Wait for her to draw closer...
Salus I've asked the leader many times: why does power so often end up in the hands of the ordinary?
What have these forgotten Kings of Sarkaz given us, besides a life of exile and persecution?
Will you, "Doctor", be one of the causes of another round of suffering?
Doctor You have questions, but this is not the time or place to answer them. / Remove the spell on Amiya, and I'll do my best to answer. / I have the same questions, but hurting Amiya is not the answer.
Salus I appreciate your intelligence, but there has never been a shortage of smart people.
There is nothing that can compare to this opportunity, what we have pursued for thousands of years.
If she can force the crown upon the head of this little bunny—
Then it can be forced out.
Doctor You want to steal Amiya's crown!
Salus Steal? No, this crown is not a ring lying on the battlefield for the taking.
You'll never understand.
The blue-haired Confessarius turns towards Amiya.
This might be your chance. You make the calculations. With your full strength, perhaps...
[The Doctor throws a rock at Salus.]
Salus What's this? A rock?
You feel your internal organs twitch and convulse. The taste of rust fills your mouth.
One little push from the Confessarius, and your right hand loses all sensation.
Bones have broken.
Wincing at the intense pain, you force yourself to lunge forward but she lithely dodges.
You fall in front of Amiya, blocking the blue-haired Confessarius's malicious gaze.
Salus How touching, putting yourself in front of her. But meaningless.
[Salus channels her Arts.]
Salus If you're so obsessed, I have a better way to deal with you.
Perhaps that brain beneath the hood holds secrets beneficial to our experiments.
There. Don't try to resist.
Share your memories with me—
You can feel the Confessarius's breathing.
A numbing sensation filled with ancient witchcraft moves towards the top of your head.
Doctor Get out of my head!
[Suddenly something interrupts Salus' channeling.]
Salus What? What could possibly repel a Confessarius's...
The King of Sarkaz? But her mind should have been shackled...
A black vortex rises from behind you.
Amiya whispers at its center.
The black crown trembles with agitation.
Amiya *Ancient Sarkaz Language*
Doctor Amiya!
Salus The shackles of myriad souls are not so easily broken. She remains amidst the myriad souls.
She has chosen to protect you subconsciously. Hah.
Wait... That's not all?
Her connection with the crown is growing?
"The crown... remember... souls..."
Is that Amiya's voice?
You get a feeling...
She is growing more distant by the second, to a place that you cannot reach—
Doctor Amiya! Wake up!
You try to grab Amiya. The black vortex roils between you, and a great force tries to push you away.
You dig your one good hand into the dirt, dragging the rest of your hide along, towards the girl lying on the ground.
Salus Ah, such intense emotions.
Looks like Theresa's choice was not entirely one of desperation, after all.
Just a little further—
Salus Why don't we cut straight to the chase, then? I hope this won't break your little head. That would be a shame.
The Confessarii left more than statues in this cavern.
*Sarkaz incantation*
Doctor Amiya!
You touch her.
Doctor You promised—
Reject the voice!
The black vortex shatters and vanishes. You grab Amiya's hand.
Amiya has grown up, but her hands still feel small and frail.
Her palm is filled with sweat.
You do not know if the Confessarius's curse worked, or if this was the result of Amiya's effort and yours.
Salus Tsk—
[Someone slashes Salus from behind.]
Blood sprays from the Confessarius's neck.
[Salus collapses.]
Ascalon walks towards you, casting not another glance at the fallen Confessarius.
Ascalon That was reckless, Doctor. If I didn't run into—
??? Look out.
Blood explodes, and a sanguine shockwave sweeps towards you.
A figure stands in front of you, arriving in the nick of time.
[Logos reveals himself.]
Logos Vampire Arts... what have you done to your bloodline?
Hard to imagine that you're related to Shining.
The amount of grief that your degeneration has caused that fine girl...
Salus *Cough* *cough*—Lord of the Banshees.
I'm impressed. It couldn't have been easy to get here.
The Confessarius puts her hand on her neck wound. The blood that sprayed from it is slowly flowing back.
Salus I should have been more careful, knowing that the sitting Lord of the Banshees is rather rebellious.
Ascalon You're more dangerous than we expected.
Urgent situation. Interrogation out of the question. Kill her and leave.
Logos I know.
You see Logos's cold expression, and the incantation that obediently emerges from his tongue.
But you do not see Salus's fear, anger, any expression you might expect to see on one facing her own death.
You see only curiosity.
Salus This is the Lord of the Banshees? The Elegiac Court? Indeed, these incantations are no less refined than that of your famous mother.
But... did you know?
Such refined runes, refined Arts... they are far from the Sarkaz's roots.
She is backing up.
Behind her—
The statue of a Banshee towers above.
[The Banshee statue suddenly moves on its own and brought down its fist.]
An instant before everything went black, you saw Ascalon grab Amiya, while Logos shielded you.
You saw the statue come to life.
You saw the Confessarius's eyes narrow, and saw her ring the death knell first.
[The cave collapses.]
<Background 4>
Doctor —!
Logos Doctor.
We've left the cave. Ascalon is scouting the area.
Your right forearm is broken. I made a makeshift splint, but I'm no medic.
Doctor What about Amiya?
Logos Still unconscious. The Confessarius said something to the effect of "trapped in the myriad souls", but...
She's alive, at least.
You turn around to see the Cautus girl lying peacefully under a tree, as if she is merely sleeping.
Logos I can understand Ascalon's objection to your methods. She's concerned for more than just your safety.
But it's also true that you bought us time. The Confessarius and Amiya would be behind Londinium's walls by now, if not for your efforts.
Doctor What of the Confessarius?
Logos She got away.
Rock and earth, blood... and the wail of the Banshee.
Is this the Sarkaz that the Confessarii want? One so obsessed with bloodline and witchcraft?
Doctor Their target is the King of Sarkaz.
We must inform Kal'tsit and Shining.
Logos ...Wait.
The vapor around us...
...This can't be. Careful, Doctor. We may still be inside the enemy's trap.
Doctor What is it? / I don't often see that look on your face.
Logos This is not Victoria.
This is the Convallis of the Banshees.