Gerraent gazed out of the window as the caravan creaked along down the unsteady ground of the desert, it had been exactly one month since the monks reported that he was ready to fight alongside them in battle, as a warrior of Fabul, Gerraent had been overjoyed at the news, it felt like he had finally become a man - not just the boy who just happened to have some rare talents. The teen had recently celebrated his sixtenth birthday and now, the transition seemed final. Smiling to himself, he spotted Kaipo in the distance, it was a cozy town but it wasn't where they were headed.
Their destination was a small cave in the outskirts of the desert, the region around which having experienced abnormal weather patterns for quite some time now, tornadoes would form out of nowhere, terrorize the sorrounding environment and then vanish as quickly as they came - while sandstorms were commonplace in the desert region of Kaipo, tornadoes were not; the climate was generally too balanced for that: scorching heat during the day, freezing cold during the night. The news had reached Fabul, and the Scholars had pointed out that this was most likely the work of an Eidolon, more specifically the empress of ice herself; Shiva. Her presence would undoubtably be the cause of great weather disturbance in a desert region such as Kaipo - what her motivations were for this was however unknown.
With their Summoner recently having come of age, Fabul had decided to send a battle party of seasoned warriors in to attempt to win her allegiance for their nation, Gerraent thought about the party they had assembled so far. They certainly were an odd bunch; their Scholar.. Barr-something, while wise was a tad condescending towards the mages who had been brought in from the allied nation of Mysidia. Most Scholars were, while Scholars knew some magic themselves, mostly for the purposes of study and education, most of them didn't take well to mages - Gerraent supposed it was all the mysteries associated with the art which got to them, the very notion that something they didn't understand could be utilized by anyone whom knew how tended to make them rather grumpy.
The mages didn't do much to alleviate the hostility though - mages in general tended to regard the more physical kind of people with disdain and contrary to popular belief, black mages were generally not that smart, even if they were convinced of the opposite. Most Black Mages claimed their art was a result of intelligence and wisdom, Gerraent - having had some basic courses in the art himself knew this was not the case though - Black Magic required little else than an open mind, a good degree of willpower and the luck of not accidentally incinerating yourself during your tenure.
The white mages that accompanied them didn't say much, but they were certainly alot more friendly than their black counterparts - Gerraent had even managed to convince one of them to give him some pointers on white magic; teaching him a few simple applications of the few spells he could cast. Now they were sitting and chatting idly between themselves at the front of the wagon, appearantly something about potions and herbs, he didn't think much of it really. Many white mages were well-versed in herbology and potionbrewing - magical healing was perilous after all, if applied in large and repeated dosages.
But among all of these, there was a single person he wanted to talk at length with, with them they had a Sage of Mysidia - an old, wrinkly woman dressed in bulky white robes and carrying around a vast assortment of books. Gerraent had asked if he'd be allowed to read one of them but she had politely rejected him; telling him that the spells she carried around with her were still much out of his league; and the only thing he could hope to achieve with the knowledge at this point would be to incinerate, crush or turn himself into an unstoppable abomination. Plunging the entire region into chaos, with what little that would remain of Kaipo's population being terrorized by man-eating cactus! When he had inquired if she would be willing to give him some hints, she had likewise stated that she didn't have the time, nor the resources to teach him any fancy parlor tricks - she had then immersed herself in a large tome and by that clearly indicate that their conversation was over.
Gerraent hadn't really paid much attention to the other members of the expedition, but in total they were roughly 14 people, with the remaining people being monks of Fabul. Suddenly the caravan stopped, and the Scholar signalled for everyone to ready themselves for the coming battle.
The entire entourage lined up outside of the wagons; positioned right infront of a large cave, all of their faces being contorted with disbelief - as despite of the heat, the entire environment sorrounding the entrance was frozen in a mighty glacier; not a single drop of water was present to indicate that the ice would ever melt. Allowing them to study this unnatural phenomenon for a few moments longer, the Scholar suddenly raised his voice and spoke aloud.
"Alright, ladies and gentlemen, we're finally at our destination - as is quite obvious to everyone present, this is the work of Shiva - her sheer power has permanently altered the landscape and climate of this particular region. But don't be discouraged, as long as we stick to the strategy and follow the following rules, we should fare quite well" Taking a deep breath, the Scholar proceeded to share his knowledge of the Eidolon with the rest of the expedition, and it was fairly obvious that he deeply enjoyed doing so. "Shiva's power is ice, her magic will be ice-oriented and all of her abilities will be so as well - she may know some protective spells, but that's up in the air. But above all else, its imperative that none of you mages cast any spells of the elements ice, water or wind; she'll turn them against us all in a heartbeat - furthermore, don't counter her magic with fiery might, if you melt her ice she'll turn the water into a new weapon in a heartbeat"
The Scholar then directed for everyone to split into the predecided groups - white mages and black mages were shattered evenly - the white mages task were to nullify any ice-related spells which came their way while the black mages focused on casting fire spells. Neutralizing her spells completely and by that prevent her from turning them against their comrades later on.
Gesturing towards the cave, the Scholar beckoned for everyone to move inside, as the mass began to move in synchronize march towards the entrance Gerraent was brought to pause as a hand landed firmly on his shoulder. Turning around, he caught sight of the Sage, her wrinkled face smiling gently at him before she raised her hands to reveal a long staff of some unknown wood, engraved with magical symbols all along the length of its delicate shaft. When she saw his perplexed look she explained softly "This is a Fire Staff, if this skirmish proves to be hopeless, the warmth the staff exudes should serve to prevent you from freezing to death, keep it close" With no further ado, she hurried after the group with surprising speed. Gerraent, still abit confused hurried after her.
Shiva's beauty was the focus of many a bards song, or tale. But upon seeing her, Gerraent noticed that they didn't do her justice at all - her body was flawless crystal, sculpted in the exact image of a woman who's beauty held no paralel. She donned garments woven from the most fragile of snowflakes, creating an impossible outfit which was no doubt held together solely by her immense powers, her clothing concealed her most intimate features but it did so only barely, ultimately doing little but accentuating this temptress of crystal.
Despite her otherwordly beauty, Gerraent was frightened - he could sense her presence within his very soul, feel her essence even now. He became infatuated with the sensation; and without thinking clearly he attempted to deepen the connection to see more of her, in that instant she noticed him - eyes of flawless sapphire meeting his; and for but that one moment she dropped all pretenses, and he gained a glimpse of her entirety,
He understood it then, she was not an aspect of ice and cold like he had first believed her to be. She was ice and cold, an immortal force of nature; the essence of winter, the alluring empress of ice! Her powers far exceeded his expectations - but even so, Gerraent was confident in their victory. Her powers were overwhelming, most certainly but they had the advantage in numbers and had several skilled mages whom had travelled from Mysidia for this exact purpose with them. Surely she couldn't defeat all of them on her own?
She had acknowledged their presence now and was gliding along the ground over to the Scholar who effectively functioned as their leader, with every foot of distance she traversed, Gerraent could feel the air become ever colder, when she was finally came to stand right infront of the Scholar, the environment felt as though it was midwinter, all the heat of the desert having all but evaporated into naught. Now standing infront of the Scholar, Gerraent for the first time noticed how tall she was, she had to stand at at least three meters!
"Why hast thee imposed upon us?" Shiva's voice was velvet-covered ice, so alluring in its simple syllables but yet her words held as little warmth as she herself, and it was a cold demand, not a greeting. Gerraent could see some of the mages shifting nervously at her tone, among all the Eidolons, Shiva's cruelty was legendary; for she represented only the ruthless winter - nothing more, nothing less.
The Scholar shivered under her sapphire gaze, whether of fear or cold, Gerraent could not discern. But he knew that if he was freezing over here, the cold she exuded so close to the Scholar must feel unbearable by comparison. The Scholar, unable to withstand it any longer completely forgot who he was talking to, conjured a small ball of magical fire in his hand in a deperate attempt to protect himself against the cold.
Shiva's reaction was instantenous, before the Scholar had the time to even register what he had just done, the Eidolon had seized his skull and brutally ripped his head right off of his neck, as a fountain of crimson life fluids errupted into the air. Gerraent screamed in terror at the sight, the battle hadn't even begun yet they had already suffered a casualty. The Scholars knowledge was what had kept them alive so far, for him to be slain so quickly left them at an immense tactical disadvantage.
At least until they heard their Sage shout out "That blasted fool! Despite all of their knowledge, Scholars are certainly not especially bright; men, don't be discouraged by his demise, lets stick to plan and destroy this chilly bitch!" when she was agitated, the old lady could cuss like a sailor. It seemed to work though, as the entire group seemed to get over the shock and was already functioning according to plan.
The Mages and White Mages lined up in several groups of two and with, as the white mages erected walls of magic infront of them and their partner in order to protect against eventual blasts of ice from their foe; three of the black mages immediately began to focus on their own spells. Mighty fire magic meant to inflict dire harm upon their foe. The remaining mages immediately launched their offensive, as three weaving bands of fire slithered forth from their outstretched palms, reverberating through the air and ensnaring the Eidolon in their fiery grasp. Connecting with one another they culminated in a mighty twister of fire which proceeded to engulf the frost empress in a huge inferno.
The Sage stepped forward as if on cue at that point, raising her staff towards the chaotic torrent of fire, she muttered a single word as a massive gust of air procured from the tip of her cane; crashing into the flames with great force, fanning the spell to utmost perfection as the flames changed color from a golden orange, to azure blue. In the meantime, a team of monks had entered a pentagram-like formation centered around the whirling column. In a shuffle of movements which seemed perfectly synchronized, they drew their legs in a circle before flowing into a unique stance, with their palm stretched outward and her left hand pointing to the ground, they then stood there, in the briefest of meditations as a gentle white light emanated from their bodies, Gerraent immediately recognized the technique as Chakra; a powerful ability which enabled monks to cleanse their bodies and mind all at once, healing moderate injuries and erasing the effect of negative spells. Gerraent however also knew, that the monks of Fabul used it as a means to focus their inner energy for better control of their most powerful abilities.
His suspicions were confirmed as each of them broke their stance and took a single step forward, bringing their outstretched palm in a half circle before forcefully snapping it back infront of them in an elaborate, sharp motion. Silence pervaded the room for a moment, before five synchronized blasts of hyper compressed air errupted from their palms, rending a deep scar in the air beneath them as they surged towards the gradually disipating column of flame. The blasts connected with the entombed Eidolon, and the force of the attacks caused the very earth to upturn violently, manifesting spires of rock around the target and causing a mighty sonic boom to force its way through the cave.
Once the smoke and fires had cleared, Gerraent looked upon the battlefield, which was now in a chaotic jumble, pieces of rock, stone and ice having been littered all over, but Shiva was still standing - inside a a halfway destroyed dome of ice, which - the moment she released her spell splashed onto the ground as a puddle of water. While Gerraent was surprised to see her alive after those attacks, he could plainly see she was wounded - although the degree of which he didn't know. But immediately after she had dispelled her shield, she fell on a single knee and drove her breath raggedly in exhaustion.
Tempted by her apparent weakness, several of the less experienced monks charged towards the kneeling Eidolon, foolishly ignoring the late Scholars advice. Gerraent tried to shout out to them that they should stop; and his message got through to a few - but some still waded into her vicinity, blind, deaf and dumb. Shiva didn't look particularily worried at this turn of events, which brought a cold lump of dread to Gerraent's throat, his worst fears were made reality as the moment the monks raised their fist to strike at her, she heaved her hands up in an abrupt motion as nine shards of solid ice errupted from the puddle beneath her and impaled all but one of her assailants, the last one managing to jump to the side at the very last moment.
Without a word, Shiva stood up and walked towards the sole survivor as she raised her hand slowly; a jolt went through the monk as he was forcefully raised from the ground and levitated up to meet her eyes; his body being frozen in suspended motion. It took Gerraent a moment to understand just what she was doing, the human body was composed of seventy-five percent water - at such short range she could use thier own body against them! Leaning closer to her victim, the empress of winter inhaled sharply, as the monks very life was extracted through his mouth in the form of icy mist. Basking in this stolen energy, Shiva's wounds closed as she straightened her posture.
Gesturing towards the half-dead monk she made a single forceful gesture and he was sent surging through the air, aimed straight at one of the mage teams, undoubtably to attempt to disrupt their concentration. Before the body hit the channeling black mage however, the white mage broke off his spell to catch the monk in his arms, smiling at his future patient, his smile became short-lived as the monks corpse abruptly burst apart in ribbons, as a dozen blood-red shards burst free from the corpse and proceeded to gruesomely mutiliate both the white mage, and his charge. Gerraent turned his eyes away from the grotesque scene, feeling his lunch threaten to come up.
The terrifying empress then began her stride towards the group, her voice as harsh and cruel as the winters eve' "We presume that thou hast come on behalf of that boy - such a fragile morsel, but one with considerable talents, we can tell" she moved across the ground, and despite walking she had almost reached them already; her playful facade was shallow, and she soon broke the veneer to state coldly "That is of course, if we ever allow him to live long enough to pursue them". He felt terror grip his heart tightly, he had seen her powers - he knew that if she got to him he'd never flee - she was too powerful, he was incapable of doing anything, the entire battle he had simply been frozen in place, incapable of raising a hand to defend his comrades; and he was cold.. so very cold.
Gerraent saw something in her beautiful visage, her sapphire eyes had become cold and harsh; and he realized she had come to tire of this game; since the very begining he had felt her emotions clearer than everyone else, given mutual connection to the Feymarch. As Shiva drew nearer, he could make out the subtle sway of her hips and the mystic gestures she made - moving her arms in weaving circles, the temperature of the cave began to drop dramatically as mighty winds of cold air gathered at her command, wreathed around her body like a violent blizzard.. The cold had become unbearable by this point, and Gerraent fell to the ground in a heap, his legs refusing to carry his body as his blood turned to ice in his veins. The cold overwhelmed him, all he could do was to pray that death would come soon, laying helpless like this just waiting for it was unbearable.
The Mages gasped in horror as their fire spells were snuffed out like candles by the immense forces that the Eidolon was gathering for her next onslaught, and without the heat of the fire to help them they soon succumbed to the cold and fell to the floor lifelessly awaiting pandemonium. Some of the monks were still standing proud, even under these extreme conditions - their bodies shrouded in the white light of their Chakra technique. Allowing them to resist the effects of even this extreme a cold, even if it wasn't for long. They were however determined to die standing, rather than laying helplessly on the ground.
The old monk knew this was it, they had gravely understimated their adversary and had suffered too many casualties. Looking at the young Summoner laying quivering on the ground, the monk felt a streak of sympathy - he was still so very young; and he was determined to save the kids life if he could, determined to make his last moments worthwhile the old monk ran over to Gerraent and embraced him tightly, positoning them so that the monk would receive the majority of Shiva's upcoming attack; even as he cleched his own hands around the Summoner's own, making sure that the fire rod was pressed against the boys chest; for the best chance of survival.
This proved to be his last actions - as moments thereafter, an immense wave of sheer cold washed over the group; leaving naught but that single barely beating heart...
Gerraent's eyes fluttered open to the sight of the well-known sight of his own room back in Fabul. Had it all been just a dream? Standing up from the bed he shambled over to the door to the livingroom, opening it softly he was meeted with the sight of his mother dropping the tray of food she held in her arms and tossed herself into his arms while sobbing uncontrollably.
He soon learned that it had not been a dream; and that he had laid in comatose for a month, with only the efforts of the cities mages having kept him from dying. When they had received no word, Fabul had sent a search party to Kaipo and found Gerraent as the sole survivor of the incident - clutching a fire rod and halfway burried beneath the corpse of one of the nations finest monks. The whole event seemed fuzzy and distant from him, but during the remainder of his life - he'd be constantly reminded about it whenever he came into contact with cold.