War breaks out on the sea of Northern Vale again! On one side is the cruel and rapidly-rising pirate society of Bane, and the other the fearless tribal warriors led by Franco. But this time, the fragile balance between the two factions is broken by a mysterious figure with a powerful artifact.
After Bane’s death, the old order at the Frozen Sea has changed drastically. In the name of Franco, the fishermen of Northern Vale, long fed up with the oppression from the pirates, grabbed weapons and rose up in revolt against these plunderers, driving them out of almost every port.
However, the nightmare for the pirates has just begun. Bane’s death leaves the pirates nothing but a group of criminals without a leader. Once succumbed to the power of Bane, these pirates now break all the old rules and start a turf war. The old order begins to fall apart.
In the frozen world of Northern Vale, nothing is more important than survival, and it’s no exception for pirates. Without ports as their fortified points, they have no choice but to fight over the islets where once they only went for a temporary stay. The pirates once united under the banner of Bane now break into several factions, who attack other merchant ships while fighting against each other. More importantly, they have to watch out for ambushes from Franco, who had vowed to eliminate all the pirates in the Frozen Sea.
One night, Zygmunt is sitting in his cabin, resting. He and his crew have just suffered a terrible defeat, lost a lot of supplies as well as the island they captured. This is their fifth defeat. Because they still under the banner of the 'Black Shark' pirate group, Zygmunt has become the target of public criticism. Almost all of the people who had been oppressed by Bane vent their anger on them. But what annoys Zygmunt more is that his subordinates do not recognize his leadership, believing that he is not qualified to be the new captain and could not inherit the power vacuum left by Bane's death.
Zygmunt has yet to recover from the confusion and tension of the day's fighting. Looking out at the dark sea from his cabin, he begins to miss the days of Bane's reign.
Although Bane is cruel and cunning, he is indeed a charismatic leader. 'Black Shark' pirate fleet, under his leadership, dominated this vast sea. Wherever they went, almost all the pirates succumbed. Those who did not surrender were hung on the navigation marks of the sea route and left to die.
Just as Zygmunt is lost in thought, the dim candlelight in the cabin suddenly begins to flicker. The deck outside the cabin creaks like a heavy lead-iron cannonball rolling on it.
'Who the hell is making trouble on the deck? I will rip off your head for sure!' At first, Zygmunt thinks it was some crewman and bellowed out his dissatisfaction. However, he soon realizes the difference. It’s the footsteps, despite that no one on his ship is huge enough to make such big noise.
Ignoring his bleeding wound, Zygmunt stands up warily and draws his cutlass from his waist, eyes staring at the door.
The sound of the wooden deck being compressed becomes increasingly intense. By the light of the candlelight, he sees a huge shadow getting closer and closer. Zygmunt's hands are trembling and he is gasping rapidly, his forehead covered with sweat.
With a 'thump', the footsteps stopped abruptly right in front of the cabin door. Zygmunt clenches the cutlass in his hand, ready to fight for his life.
Then, as the door is pushed open, a familiar voice comes into Zygmunt's ears.
'Zygmunt, your captain, has returned.'
Although Bane was blasted off his ship into the sea and got his body shattered, he managed to survive. Not only that, but he also acquired a new body - a flexible and powerful octopus.
Captain Bane, who came back to life from the abyss of the sea, witnessed how the old order of the Frozen Sea disintegrated. He watched the pirate fleet he built to fall apart, and those vicious pirates chased by Franco, someone he has always despised.
In the midst of the sea waves, Bane vowed to reassert his authority, regain control of the Frozen Sea, and hang Franco and the bumpkins who supported him.
Bane's first thought was for his most loyal man, Zygmunt. Although this scar-faced guy lacks wisdom, he is always ready to fight for him.
As much as he is taken aback by Bane's new body, Zygmunt, loyal to his captain, soon recognize Bane’s familiar voice and usual brutality that remain unchanged. The return of the tyrant of the sea makes these stray dogs see the hope of life again. They re-hoist at the top of the sail the flag of 'Black Shark' and determined to reunite.
However, it was not easy to get back everything that had been lost. Ever since Bane was blasted into the sea, the ambition and hatred once subdued by Bane’s power had finally seen the light of day. The old order no longer exists, and the vacuum of maritime power left by Bane stimulates almost every pirate, who form various small gangs and are ready to follow the old path of Bane, eliminating other pirate fleets one by one to become the new dominator.
It is too slow for Bane. Now, his heart is filled with hatred and rage, and he wants to get back everything he lost almost instantly. 。 'What a good-for-nothing you are! ' Bane drops the chart, jumps to his feet, and with one of his tentacles throws off the sailor who was moving a cannonball.
Things did not go well in the last several days. Not even one of his former sailors came back to him, which makes Bane very impatient.
'First Mate Zygmunt, keep an eye on these guys!' 'I’ll go and find some more guys.'
Bane shouts at the top of his voice, then wiggles his tentacles before jumping into the sea and disappears.
Time flies. After waiting for three days, the crew lost patience again. They believed that Bane’s re-emergence could have been a turning point for them. Now it seems they have rejoiced too soon.
The anxious crew lost their head and were ready to give up completely and seek their own way out.
Therefore, a mutiny occurred inevitably. People scramble for the supplies and the valuables on the ship. It is such a mess.
Zygmunt wants to stop all this. Perhaps he is the only one that still believes sure Bane would return. But he is at a loss what to do facing the chaos. The crew has no time for the poor guy. They push Zygmunt out of their way and then go for the lifeboats that are not enough for all the crew to escape.
The first lifeboat is grabbed by four big harpooners, their upper bodies bare, tattoos exposed. The tight muscles and cutlasses hanging from their waists are the sheer demonstration of their strength. Other crewmen should know the better ways other than to compete with them.
These men pull at their oars and shout all sorts of bad words, ready to find a reliable gang of pirates.
'Hey, guys, I don't even mind join Franco. I mean, he blasted Bane into the sea with just one shot.' The strongest harpooner is shouting arrogantly, forgetting that he was moved to tears by Bane's return only a few days ago. He laughs and goes on； 'Maybe I'm tired of being a stupid harpooner. I should be a captain.'
The gloating harpooner continues, heedless of the silence of his companions and those on board the ship.
The atmosphere suddenly solidifies as a cold wind blows by. Before the fat harpooner could turn around, a huge tentacle wrapped around his throat and crushed it without mercy.
The tentacle belongs to the dominator the Frozen Sea, the cruel and ruthless Captain Bane. Behind him, there is a group of ugly, half-man, half-fish sea monsters.
'Get your asses back, you fools,' Bane thundered at the petrified crew in a stony voice, as the monsters behind him let out bloodcurdling laughs.
With the return of Bane, the pirate ship once again returned to normal, but those ugly and horrible sea monsters still leave the pirates trembling with fear.
But there is no denying that these monsters must be a bunch of great helpers in the fights to come.
The New Ship
The fiendish pirate leader convulses, his fingers loosen, and drops his axe. Bane smiles and tightens his tentacle around the fat harpooner’s throat. The fugitive can’t fight back as all, and his face begins to swell purple. He swears in a vague voice.
Bane shows his trademark grins and throws the dying man onto the deck, who continues to convulse. Beside him is a crew of shivering men with no will to fight. They crouched on the ground, looking at Bane and his grotesque minions in fear.
'Now, can I have the ship?' Bane turned back and whispered.
'I thought that all the pirates of the Frozen Sea would remember my rules. I am not an unreasonable man. All I want are some small rewards, and the respect for a captain.'
'Just because a bumpkin gave me some hard time not long ago doesn’t mean you bastards should shit on my head!'
As he speaks, Bane sits down on the chair that belonged to the pirate leader he has just killed. When the ugly minions behind him heard this, they waved their weapons and came forward, like a group of beasts waiting to eat.
’Since you didn’t do me the honor.’ Bane turned his head around and gave the monsters a deep smile.
’Throw them all into the sea! Kill them all!’
A cheer went up from his minions, and nothing is more thrilling the for these sea-dwelling monsters than killing. Blood mingled with sea water and seeped on to the deck.
While toying with his cutlass, Bane looked with great interest at this large brigantine, a newly acquired war trophy for him. Old as she was, the ship still features excellent design and great power. With thirty-two cannons, the ship makes a perfect tool for plundering at sea. Unfortunately, it was not equipped with huge bow and stern guns, and lacks protective armor and huge snout bow. His former ship Behemoth was much better.
Infuriated by the memory of the destroyed Behemoth, Bane rose suddenly from his chair, like a colossus rising from the sea level.
'First mate Zygmunt!' Bane growls, calling his most trusted assistant and entrusts him with this important task.
'I need a new ship, faster and stronger than the Behemoth. Do you know what I mean?'
'But, Captain, we are short of materials. We need steel, cannons and wood for our armor, and we can only get them on land,' replied Zygmunt timidly.
'Who told you that you must go to those fools to buy them?'
'Now go. Your new friends will help you.' Bane looks at the ugly sea monsters, with grins on his face again.
A few days later, a huge and colorful ship suddenly appears on the Frozen Sea. However, it is more like a huge sea monster than a ship. Its hull is covered with hard sea shells, reefs and rocks. The black muzzles are attached with a large number of poisonous creatures in the water. The huge octopus-shaped snout bow showcases the identity of its owner to the world.
This is Bane's new ship, and it’s called “Ymir”.
'That's one hell of a deal,' Franco swore furiously, spitting forcefully onto the deck.
In front of him are the remains of a huge Toothed Mech-Shark. Franco and his crew discovered this monster a month ago, and have been chasing after it across half of the Frozen Sea, using up all their supplies to capture the monster.
Even the most experienced fleet will feel powerless dealing with this giant ocean beast that is 15-meter long. Its struggle and fury after being captured almost capsized the Nightwheel, which may have turned all these sea hunters into his food.
Fortunately, Franco rose to the occasion. He jumped onto the back of the rampaging shark, and smashed its skull with his war hammer.
Hunting such a huge beast is a thrill in the eyes of people of Northern Vale. In fact, it almost killed Franco. Despite many years at sea, his still remains a terrible swimmer.
Franco sized up the beast carefully before giving the order to return to the port. The plan was to dock at Northern Vale's largest port, divide the loots and sell the shark parts to the merchants there for money that’s enough to hoard a whole shipload of winter supplies.
Since the disappearance of Bane's 'Black Shark' fleet, the coast of Northern Vale and the Frozen Sea have returned to their former liveliness, with large numbers of merchant ships coming from Moniyan, Panlong City and the Eruditio.
Within two days, the Nightwheel fleet will arrive at the port. Exhausted from a two-month voyage, the crew fell asleep on deck. Franco, however, is not as patient. He puts his war hammer into the cabin, grabs a sharp axe, and begins to dismember the beast.
It took Franco half an hour to disembowel the shark, whose skin, covered all over with scales, is so thick. Franco looked carefully into the rib cage of a Toothed Mech-Shark. Its liver is large and plump, and the oil it contains is a precious material that would not freeze even on the coldest days.
'It was worth it.' Franco wipes his blood-covered hands with his shirt, and walks towards the cabin stepping on the blood on the deck. ” As winter approaches, the wind at sea is blowing colder and colder, causing Franco to shiver. He wiped his nose and muttered, 'It's time to go back to the port.'
He stopped and looked to the south. Through the night mist he could as if see the shoreline of Northern Vale and the tavern there.
'Help！Is there anyone on board?' The sea wind brought a cry for help from the water.
Franco narrowed his eyes and saw a figure crawling up the broken sampan with one hand and rowing toward the Nightwheel with the other.
'What a wretched fellow!' Franco could not see his face clearly, but he threw out the rope and pulled the man up anyway.
Franco frowned as he surveyed his soaked attire.
'Well, you bastard, have you met a sea monster? I don't have time to kick you asses recently.'
The man Franco saved is a pirate, who has lost much strength from being in the water for a long time.
'He…he's back!' The pirate looked at everything on board the Night Wheel and said in fear.
'What are you talking about? I am Franco and I’m standing right here, ready to kick your pirate asses.' Franco kicked him,' he said with disdain.
'It's Bane…he's still alive. He's back with his fleet.'
'Black Shark! King of Pirates! He's become an octopus! They're back!' The pirates on the deck cried in panic and awoke the rest of the crew who are still sleeping. They gathered around Franco, swearing.
'His huge ship is moving towards the shoreline, and is unstoppable!'
'Bane?' Franco frowned, ignoring these irrational pirates. He turned southwards, looking into the dark in deep thought.'.
All of a sudden, he shouted, 'Everyone! Get back in position!'
'Turn the ship around. Throw away anything unnecessary. Time to get busy!'
'The storm is coming.' muttered Franco.
On the surface of the Frozen Sea, a storm is already brewing. The turbulent water formed a huge whirlpool, which spread up from the bottom of the sea.
Below the surface of the sea, Atlas is driving the huge mech sentinel to break through the turbulence and dive deep into the sea. Aurora’s Heart he has been searching for is already in sight.
On the sea, Franco and Bane's fleets are coming from two opposite directions. The two bitter rivals and sworn enemies want to settle everything once and for all today.
The two fleets keep getting closer. Although they have heard about Bane's new ship from the pirate they saved, Franco and his men were taken aback when the huge and ugly Ymir appeared on the surface of the sea: the side of the ship, full of reefs and rocks and shells, is flashing with frightening colors, while the huge octopus on the bow is extremely depressing. Even the most experienced pirates have never seen such an ugly and attractive ship.
'Full speed ahead, I will hang Franco and all his men on the mast!' Bane, on the other side, caught a glimpse of Franco's fleet, and he finds it hard to suppress his anger as he remembered the day when he was thrown into the sea by that pumpkin.
'Nightwheel, fall back, the other ships spread to the wings and continue to advance.' Looking at the menacing Bane, Franco ordered his fleet to retreat, luring Bane into his trap.
As expected, Bane was so furious to see Franco retreat, and he immediately ordered his ships to speed up. Before Bane realizes it, Ymir has left his other ships behind, and been surrounded by Franco’s fleet.
'Fire! Captain Bane and his circus are here for revenge, ha-ha!' yelled Franco, and hundreds of cannonballs streaked through the rain towards Ymir.
Ymir's armor, consisting of rocks, reefs and seashells, is much tougher than Franco expected. Two volleys of cannons did not cause any fatal damage to it.
After fending off two attacks, the mighty cannons of the Ymir begin to fire back, damaging one of Franco's convoys with a single cannonball.
Bane exclaimed triumphantly, 'Kill them all and burn up all the ships. Show no mercy'
After exchanging two rounds of fire, other pirate ships arrived. The two fleets were locked in battle on the stormy sea. Although Ymir is a tough ship and has superior firepower, Franco's ships have greater maneuverability. They take advantage of the vortexes and storm to keep Bane at bay, firing cannonballs non-stop.
At that moment, a cannonball comes whizzing in and hits one side of the Ymir, shattering its armor that has taken a great amount of damage. Ymir has now revealed its biggest vulnerability.
'Now! The Nightwheel is speeding forward. We're going to send Bane and his ugly minions back to the bottom of the sea!' Seeing the right timing, Franco ordered the Nightwheel to head at full speed towards Ymir. This time he wants to wipe Bane out once for all.
'Come on, I will kill you bumpkin with my own hands!' In response, Bane ordered Ymir to go full speed ahead as well. This will decide where this fierce sea battle is going.
The storm is getting stronger and stronger with violent wind and rain. Just as Nightwheel and Ymir are about to collide head-on, a huge vortex appears from the bottom of the sea, preventing the two ships from direct confrontation. A huge mechanical creature rises from the vortex with dazzling light in its hand. Atlas has finally found Aurora’s Heart he has been searching for. The storm becomes more violent.
The sudden appearance of Atlas interrupted the final battle between Bane and Franco, who are both vexed.
'Who is this meddlesome guy? I just need to sell some junk for money. Bane looked at the huge Atlas and scoffed, fearing that it might be Franco's reinforcement.
'Hey, big guy, what are you? Are you from a circus?' Facing the unknown mech giant, Franco didn’t show goodwill either.
'Human beings…human beings' desires are like the Abyss, whose bottom can never be reached.'
'Human beings are forever fighting and killing each other for what they want, but they forget to search for the meaning of life. Atlas’s empty and low voice came from inside the mech, leaving Bane and Franco's questions unanswered.
'I do not wish to get involved in your battle, nor to make myself your enemy.' In the distant Abyss, my people are suffering and waiting for my rescue.”
'So, get out of my way,' said Atlas, holding out his hands and lighting up the sea with a brilliant flash.
'That’s Aurora’s Heart!' Almost all the sailors called out its name at that moment. It’s a sacred artifact of people of Northern Vale for many generations, which everyone has looked at far away from the Shrine of Heroes. About a decade ago, it was lost for unknown reasons, and people of Northern Vale lost the protection of the sacred artifact as well.
'Ah, Aurora’s Heart!' Bane looks at it with strong longing in his eyes. Unlike others, he has once touched it with his own hands and even owned it. He knows what tremendous power it contains. His new body came from the Heart of Aurora as well.
With this powerful artifact, he can master the power of infinite resurrection. The Frozen Sea will no longer be the limit for him by then. He can conquer the entire Land of the Dawn, defeat the Empire and dominate the world.
'Turn the cannons around and aim at the big one.' Bane awoke from his daydream, his eyes filled with ambition.
While Franco has been enraged by Atlas's arrogance and rudeness.
'Look, I don't care about where you are from, Abyss or stinking ditch. That thing you're holding is the sacred artifact of Northern Vale.'
'Now, you’ve got two options. Give me Aurora’s Heart, and we will let you go, or, you get blasted into pieces!'
Franco ordered his ships to surround Atlas and all the cannons aimed at him, regardless of the fact that his men have become exhausted in the fierce battle with Bane. Thick smoke is coming up from Nightwheel.
'How arrogant you are, Mortal!' Atlas let out a strange and low growl. Atlas pounces on the Nightwheel, and with a single strike, he turned the damaged ship over.
The Nightwheel is sinking slowly with the crew’s swearing and cries for help. Franco fell into the sea. Then, with the fierce attack of Atlas, Franco's ships all fell apart and sank. There is no way to stop Atlas from leaving.
Franco struggles to get hold of a piece of deck and drifts toward the shoreline with the ocean current.
Seeing the defeat of Franco and the loss of the pirate fleet, the cunning Bane suddenly changed his mind and ordered his men to clear the way and let Atlas pass.
Bane is wily enough to realize that if he attacks Atlas now, he will only end up like Franco. It’s not the time now.
'Get a ship and follow this giant guy. I’ve got to get Aurora’s Heart.”
'The others go back to have some rest. We’ve got some big business to do!'
The smoky Ymir returned to the pirates' lair. Bane did not eliminate his sworn enemy Franco this time, but he accidentally found Aurora’s Heart once again. Compared with dominating the world, regaining control of the coastline seems so insignificant.
The most important thing at this time is how to recapture Aurora’s Heart from the powerful Atlas, without ending up like Franco.
'Franco…Franco…' Thinking of Franco who fell into the sea, Bane suddenly narrowed his eyes. The annoying bumpkin lost all his ships. However, Bane always has a bad feeling about this, because he did not see him drowned to death with his own eyes.
Zygmunt thinks the same. After all, he had suffered a lot from Franco. To take Aurora’s Heart, they must eliminate Franco first.
Meanwhile, a message comes from the pirate ship tracking down Atlas. The huge mech is heading towards the north with Aurora’s Heart. His destination is the Abyss at the northernmost place of the Frozen Sea.
It is the end of the world and the tomb of civilization in the depths of the sea.
'Murloc helmsmen and Crab Swordsmen, take some guys and take out that annoying Franco on land, then come back to me.'
'Everyone, take the supplies and let’s go! Our destination is the Abyss' Bane rises up from his chair wiggling his big body, looking determined to win.
Drifting on the sea for three days, Franco finally managed to reach the coast of Northern Vale. Not only has he lost his fleet and weapons, but he is reeking of dead fish as well.
'That’s bad luck! I hate swimming so much.'
'I’ve got to have a big meal in the tavern!' Franco, tired and hungry, struggles up from the mud on the shore and limps slowly forward, not noticing that the sea monsters swarming behind him have tracked him down here thanks to his smelly body.
Just before he runs out of strength, Franco reaches a small pier. Lucky enough, there is a small tavern here.
'Looks luck is still on my side!' There is no one else in the tavern, Franco patted mud and soil off his shirt, sat down and ordered a lot of food and drink. Franco laughed contentedly. Only a day ago, he was drifting on the sea, hungry and thirsty.
But before he could enjoy the food and wine, dozens of ugly sea monsters poured into the tavern with piercing growls. At the order of Bane, they are here to kill Franco.
For a moment, the tiny tavern is filled with howls and the sound of flying sawdust. These minions were no match for Franco who is still hungry. He picked up a stool and knocked over a few sea monsters that were in his way, then jumped behind the bar counter. More and more sea monsters are coming like a school of piranha that found some delicious prey.
On another day, these minions are nothing more than sandbags for Franco to practice boxing. Now he knows well that they are entangling him and consuming what little energy that left of him.
Franco jumped out from behind the bar counter, darted to an anchor in the tavern, and used it as a weapon to knock over a group of the monsters before rushing out of the tavern towards the pier. The knife-wielding murloc helmsmen and crab swordsmen are chasing closely after him.
'What a bunch of idiots!' Franco is swearing as he scurried around the pier full of piled up goods. In order to kill Franco, the sea monsters also brought long-range weapons. Harpoons and javelins are coming into the cargo boxes, causing wood chips to break into pieces and cutting several bloodstains on Franco's face.
Franco found a cutlass that was not very handy and gritted his teeth to fight back. Apart from the prostration from several days’ drifting out on the sea, he suffered a few minor injuries. He is almost at his last gasp.
After avoiding wave after wave of attack, Franco has used up the last bit of strength, and can no longer take another step. Maybe this is where his life ends.
'Damn it! What is this? Fighting to death or running for life?” Franco gasped and swore as he leaned against some cargo boxes.
'If I am running for my life, I may not be honored in Valhalla. What kind of a warrior I am! Ha-ha!' Franco is exhausted and begins to lose consciousness. The last thing he saw was a beautiful and graceful woman, her body glowing.
'Is it Valkyrie. Is she here to take me to Valhalla?'
'Take this! You bastard!' Franco woke up from his dream yelling. He found that he is not in Valhalla, but at a place where nothing is special.
Franco touched the wounds on his body. He can still feel the pain, but the wounds have been properly taken care of. Franco sat up and found a lot of food on the table, as well as his favorite wine. However, he did not see the host.
Franco is so hungry that he jumped out of bed and gobbled down all the food on the table, then tasted the wine.
'Have you always been so rude?' A voice called from behind Franco. Franco turned his head around and found Valkyrie, whom he saw while he was dying, standing right in front of him.
To be precise, Valkyries are female servants in Northern Vale mythology, who takes the souls of the dead soldiers to Valhalla, the shrine of heroes.
'So, this is Valhalla? It’s unlike what I have expected. Ha-ha!'
'Seems I’m dead now.' Franco bursts into laughs as he touched his head.
'You're still alive, but if you keep being so rude, I don't mind throwing you into the sea to feed the fish.' Valkyrie turned around and slapped her long sword hard on the ground. She is so dissatisfied with Franco's vulgarity and impoliteness.
Franco wants to say more rude words to vent his anger. However, looking at the solemn and beautiful face of Valkyrie, he swallowed the bad words back.
Almost in an instant, he fell the crush on her.
To break the ice, Franco smiled and chattered, 'Seems that I'm still alive. It must be you who saved my life from those monsters. Thank you very much, I will return the favor for sure!'
'I was not lucky this time. On another day, I could have crushed these ugly creatures with a few strikes.'
'By the way, my name is Franco, You’re Ms. or Mrs., or…?'
'Then again, don't you Valkyries live in Valhalla? What are you doing here?'
'My name is Freya.' Valkyrie frowned as if she has become so annoyed by Franco's chatter and does not want to talk to him anymore.
'Look, from now on, I ask and you answer.' Freya laid her sword on the table, pointing at Franco.
'You came from the sea?'
'Yes. Two months ago, I went to the sea with my fleet. We found a huge Toothed Mech-Shark whale and chased it for over a month. I jumped on its head and kill it with some heavy blows with my hammer.'
'Look, I don't care about this.' Freya frowned. Apparently, she has lost her patience.
'Well, me and my men were going to go back to the port and sell that big thing for some big money.'
'But someone told me that bastard Bane was still alive! Did you know that Bane was arguably the biggest bastard on the Frozen Sea?' Franco swallowed some bad words about Bane and continued to talk about what happened at the sea.
'Knowing he was still alive and brought his circus back for revenge, I was sure I had to get busy.'
'So, I went to give Bane a lesson with my ships. Just when I was about to kick Bane's ass, a huge and grotesque thing suddenly emerged from the bottom of the sea with the sacred artifact of Northern Vale, Aurora’s Heart, in his hands.'
'Aurora’s Heart…' Freya interrupted Franco. 'Did you see it with your own eyes?'
'Absolutely, or else my fleet could not have been destroyed by that great creature. He was bringing the artifact to somewhere called the Depths of the Sea.'
'If it weren't for Bane, the would not have escaped like that.'
Franco said resentfully, not noticing that Freya was frowning.
'People of Northern Vale have been worshipping Aurora’s Heart for generations. But…what is it anyway?'
'To be honest, I don't want it to be taken away by that big guy, but I have no idea what it will mean to lose the artifact.' Franco scratched his beard and was full of questions.
'It means catastrophe. The end of Northern Vale.' Freya turned away, lost in thought.
The Valkyries of Northern Vale live in Valhalla all the year round, and they never set foot in the outside world except to solve the disputes between tribes and take the souls of the dead.
Not long ago, the battle between Bane and Franco set the coastline ablaze, and rumors of the missing artifact, Aurora’s Heart, began to circulate among people of Northern Vale. Freya was one of them.
For Freya, Aurora’s Heart is not only the sacred artifact of Northern Vale that will decide its fate. It’s closely related to the accident more than a decade ago. For many years, Freya has been troubled by the whereabouts of Aurora’s Heart and her sister Skuld, and has always felt guilty.
In order to find fulfill her sister's wish and find her sister, once carefree Freya has now grown to be a Valkyrie guarding the land of ice. Now, Freya doesn’t know what the Aurora’s Heart was taken for, but she knows that once the energy in the artifact runs out of control, a catastrophe will come to Northern Vale.
Freya had witnessed the power and would never forget it.
'I promised my sister that I would always guard Northern Vale.'
'And I must find my sister.' Freya looked out of the window to the distance, determined.
She turned to Franco and said, 'We have to get Aurora's Heart back. Will you help me?'
'Absolutely! I’m at your disposal at any time!' Franco couldn’t believe Freya asked him for help.
Then they found an ordinary sailboat at the pier. Franco is very unhappy about it. 'They had been on their way for several days. Without a fast ship like the Nightwheel, it is almost impossible for us to reach the Depths of the Sea before Bane and the big guy.'
'It's a pity my fleet was destroyed by that bastard.' Franco sighed and spat into the water.
Freya ignored his vulgarity and said, 'Maybe we need some help.'
Without a ship, Freya and Franco have to remain at the small port while Bane is following Atlas closely with his pirate ships.
'The murloc helmsmen should have killed Franco and returned ' Bane murmured, with binoculars in his hands, looking at the splash made by Atlas as the giant thing cuts through the waves.
'Captain! We haven't heard from them yet,' said the sailor obsequiously. 'Perhaps Franco had already be eaten up by fishes. It would take them some time if so.'
'Go find them, now! Someone has to tell me Franco is dead!' Caught in a rage, Bane kicked away the crew. He has a bad feeling about this. Anyway, the most important thing for him now is to get Aurora’s Heart.
In Northern Vale, Valkyrie's order soon spread throughout the coastline, and the people of various tribes responded with great enthusiasm. Some of them brought the necessary materials for building ships, some donated their fishing boats on which they depend to make a living, and some volunteered to become sailors of the expedition fleet.
Within only a few days, people worked together in this small remote and formed an unprecedentedly powerful fleet. Ships as powerful as the Nightwheel have been refitted and are ready to go.
It is a sunny day at Northern Vale. In the morning, and the sun was shining on the sea, the water glistening. Freya boarded the new ship with her crewmen and headed for the edge of the Frozen Sea, the northernmost point in the world.
'Set sail, the Valkyrie!' Standing at the bow, Franco cried at the top of his voice.
The roaring sea winds stir up huge waves. The weather is getting worse near the Abyss, and the currents stronger.
Atlas has been advancing for fourteen-day without rest. Though he has known that Bane and his well-armed pirate ships had been after him, Atlas doesn’t worry too much about it.
There is only one thing in his head. That is, get to the Abyss at full speed and lift that ancient curse with Aurora’s Heart
At this moment, the Abyss is getting so close. Those suffering people, those dark days when his people were forgotten and forsaken by the world. All this welled up within him.
'It’s been thousands of years, and this is the last leg of the long journey, my people.'
With only the last leg of the voyage left, the mech, controlled by atlas, gripped Aurora's Heart in his hand and sped forward.
As was about to reach the Abyss, Bane's 'Black Shark ' fleet arrived just in time. They blocked the sea route with heavy iron ropes and surrounded Atlas.
'Look, you piece of junk, give me Aurora’s Heart now. It was mind in the first place.'
'Or I'll blow you to pieces!' Bane shouted arrogantly from the bow of Ymir. For him, Aurora’s Heart is already within his grasp. All he needs to do is to take it from the hands of Atlas, who is such an easy prey now that he’s been surrounded.
'When you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. Pirate Bane.'
Atlas rose slowly, the sound from his body came from the core of the mech. Amplified by the sea wind, it is ringing through the sea area.
'You can’t stop me. None of you can. After today, a new day will come to the Frozen Sea, an ancient race will come back to life.'
Indeed, nothing could shake Atlas’s conviction of reaching the Abyss. An entire race is waiting and expecting in despair from the depths of the Abyss.
'You just won’t listen, will you?!'
'Load the cannons and blow this pile of junk into the sea!' Enraged, Bane ground his teeth and waved his cutlass, ready to attack.
'Aha, look who it is, Bane, head of the circus!' Just as Bane was about to attack, a familiar voice that disgusted him came from the sea.
Bane turned his head around. He has never expected, not even in his wildest dreams, that Franco not only survived but has brought with him Valkyrie and a mighty fleet.
'Look, as long as I'm around, you ugly bastard will never touch Aurora’s Heart.'
' Great! I'm gonna kill you myself! ' Bane said fiercely.
On the stormy sea, Freya and Franco, Atlas, Bane, are locked in a stalemate. Atlas’s way has been blocked. Bane and Franco are both expecting the other side will attack first. No one dares to break the deadlock.
Looking at the determined Atlas, Freya said slowly, 'I know what it's like to lose someone you love. All you feel is despair, pain, and regret.'
'So, I understand you,' she said, clenching her sword in her hand.
'But Aurora’s Heart the sacred artifact of Northern Vale. You have no idea what kind of power it holds! It will destroy Northern Vale and the entire Frozen Sea. A lot of innocent people will die.'
'It belongs to all the people of Northern Vale. No one can take possesses of it because of their own selfish desires.'
Through the hard armor, Atlas met Freya's burning eyes. However, at this moment, the cries of his suffering people are ringing in his ears again.
'I don't care.' With a low murmur,' Atlas rushed forward without hesitation.
Atlas keeps heading forward, pulling the iron ropes that could go unattached at any second from Bane’s ships. The pirate ships are going at full speed in the opposite direction to stop Atlas from breaking loose.
'Destroy Heaven or create Hell!' Atlas thundered, smashing a pirate ship into pieces with a single blow.
The defense of the pirate ship is compromised as the chains were broken. Due to inertia, the pirate ships were thrown in different directions.
The pirates’ line of defense has collapsed, and Atlas’ dream of a thousand years is about to come true.
'Stop him! Franco!' Freya shouted, witnessing the sudden change of situation.
'Aye aye, Captain!'
'All aport! You will not pass, big fellow!' Franco ordered his ships to block Atlas’s way. They trapped Atlas using special fishing nets as cannons.
'You know what, big fellow, you destroyed my Nightwheel, but I, Franco, am not a vindictive guy.' Cried Franco as he is commanding his fleet to stop Atlas.
These nets are made of special material bought from the Eruditio They are designed especially against huge sea beasts. Compared to those sea beasts who have no brain, Atlas is obviously an intelligent creature. He did not struggle with brute force. Instead, is going back and forth within the ring of encirclement.
'Surrender now, or you'll be in for a cannonball feast!' Cried Franco triumphantly.
However, Franco and Freya are only focusing on Atlas, ignoring Ymir and other pirate ships that have approached unnoticed.
Heavy iron ropes were thrown from the pirate ships towards the giant, who was hooked soon. Subsequently, the ships began to go at full speed in the opposite direction, with all the cannons firing at Atlas. The giants, caught in the nets, can no longer defend himself against the attach. After round after round of artillery attack, Atlas slumped down, finally.
Atlas's huge body collapsed, splashing huge waves, obscuring the sight of Freya and others. When the curtain of water dispersed, they were astonished to find that the Bane has taken the possession of Aurora’s Heart.
'Now, Aurora's Heart is mine!' Bane looked at the artifact in his hand with greedy eyes. He is already picturing conquering the world in his mind.
'Now, let me take a closer look.' he grinned, holding the artifact in both hands.
'Stop! Aurora's Heart contains the power of resurrection. If you take the draw its power, it will go out of control. Once exploded, it will cause a tsunami that will bring destruction to the entire Northern Vale!' Seeing Bane extending his evil hands to Aurora's Heart, Freya shouted at the top of her voice.
'Really? Don’t bullshit me. I, Captain Bane, will soon rule the world.' Bane, ignoring Freya's dissuasion, began to absorb the energy of Aurora’s Heart.
Aurora Heart was triggered and began to burst out with tremendous power, and the entire sea trembled was shaking. Bane's body was getting bigger and bigger, and gradually exceeded the size of his ship, like a huge mountain standing above the sea level.
'We must stop him now. When his body can’t withstand the power, he will explode!' Freya yelled.
'Everyone, fire at Bane!' Franco gave the order. His fleet changed formation and began to move towards Bane.
Bane's body was still expanding. He feels that energy is running through his body, which is powerful enough to create an earth-shaking tsunami. Bane's body was more resilient because it had been modified by Aurora’s Heart, but even so, he was unable to absorb all of the artifact’s energy.
'Stop them!' Bane has gone mad with his wild ambition and will stop at nothing now.'
At Bane's command, the pirate's ship formed a defensive formation, spreading out in lines in front of Bane and firing all their cannons at the enemy.
'Damn it, these goons are too much to handle, we won't be able to get through any time soon!' Franco gave the order to fire cannons while reporting to Freya, who was standing in the bow.
Bane's body has reached its limit. The surge of energy will burst through Bane's body at any second, causing an unprecedented explosion.
Freya looked at the crew who are still fighting, turned around and looked out in the direction of Northern Vale, then remembered her sister. She remembered that night, the sacrifices she had made, and the expectations her sister had for her.
'We are the daughters of Northern Vale, and we will…'
'Guard this land to death!' Freya took a deep breath, leaped high above from the bow and headed towards Bane and Aurora’s Heart.
The Final Battle
After a loud bang, Bane's body no longer expands, and Aurora’s Heart stopped energy surge. However, Freya is nowhere to be seen.
For a moment, silence reigns over the sea.
'You bastard! I’m gonna kill you!' Franco yells angrily, like a frenzy beast, as he launches an attack against Bane.
Although unable to absorb any more energy from Aurora’s Heart, Bane has become incomparably huge now. With each move he makes, heaven and earth are almost shaking.
Bane waves his tentacles, with which he keeps splashing the sea, causing huge waves that destroyed ships one by one.
For all those who see Bane wreaking havoc on the sea, this could be their worst nightmare.
At this time, Freya feels like she is having this colorless dream that is perpetual. She is floating in the endless darkness and infinite void, her consciousness fading away.
'Freya…wake up…Freya.' Just as she is about to be devoured by the endless darkness, a familiar voice, constantly calling Freya, helps her regain consciousness.
'Si…sister…?' Freya, who heard the call, suddenly wakes up and finds herself in a strange space. Not far away, a vague and familiar figure is standing quietly, calling her name softly.
'Si…sister…is that you?' Hearing this voice that in her mind for years, Freya could no longer suppress her feeling and starts running towards her sister with all her might. However, no matter how hard she tries, her sister is always out of her reach.
'Calm down, Freya. I don't have much time. You must listen to me carefully.'
'I'm sorry, sister! You got stuck here, all because of me.'
'No, Freya, it was not your fault. I'm not stuck here either. This is my illusion,' Skuld’s illusion said quietly.
'We people of Northern Vale have kept Aurora’s Heart for many generations. Most people think of it as nothing more than an ancient artifact. In fact, it is one of the most powerful things the world has ever seen – Twilight Orb.'
'Yes, Aurora’s Heart is one of those omnipotent Twilight Orbs, which hold the power of hope and resurrection. Each Twilight Orb has some kind of unique power.'
'As to where the Twilight Orbs come from, how many of them there are, and what will happen when they are all gathered, it’s beyond my power to see.'
'Before the explosion, I secretly studied everything about Aurora’s Heart. What I discovered was not only its origin and power but a terrifying existence as well: The Master of the Abyss'
'This primitive and evil force seems to have some very close connection with the Twilight Orbs and can perceive the existence of each of them. My investigation of Aurora's Heart alerted him. Because of his power, the artifact went out of control the last time.'
Freya is so astonished to know these mysteries.
'In order to stop Aurora’s Heart from losing control, I had no choice but to go into the huge energy field to prevent this catastrophe. The energy within was so huge that I was soon consumed by its impact. I knew I couldn’t last for long, so I used the last bit of my strength to form this illusion, hoping that someday I could tell someone all that happened.'
'But I didn't expect you to be here, my dear Freya.'
'Remember, the evil force is recovering, and this world will see more and more crisis. You must live and become the guardian of Northern Vale!'
'Now go, Freya. You are yet to fulfill your duty, and I will always be with you.'
A burst of dazzling light flashes as the illusion in front of Freya disappears, replaced by the turbulent sea, raging Bane and Franco who is in a tough fight.
At this time, Freya’s body is full of power that she has never felt before. She knows that it is more than the power of Aurora’s Heart. It’s a gift to her from her sister.
'I am the daughter of Northern Vale, and I will defend my land till death!'
Freya clenches the sword in her hand and flies up into the sky, and like a sharp flash of light, she is coming towards Bane. In a loud cry of pain and agony, the insufferably arrogant Bane slumps down and vanishes in a violent explosion.
The dark clouds have dispersed and the sea breeze is caressing the sea. The frozen sea has returned to its former tranquility.
So ends the unprecedented crisis.
'It's over.' Freya dropped her sword and said tiredly.
'Well…is there anything else we should be? Or, is there anything else I can do for you? ' Franco asked.
'No, that’s it. Anyway, I appreciate your help, Franco, on behalf of Northern Vale. You're a brave warrior,' said Freya, patting Franco on the shoulder.
This made Franco feel proud. He then asked, 'I mean, if at all possible, can we go out sometime? Could be a port, tavern or hilltop, anywhere.'
'I guess so.' Freya answered without hesitation.
'Really?' Franco asked anxiously.
'No, don't even think about that.' Freya punched Franco lightly on the shoulder, then smiled because of her odd sense of humor. It’s a smile that’s rarely seen on her face.
In the light of the setting sun, the Valkyrie raised the sail on its way home.
Not far away, Bane, though defeated, emerged out of the sea. He found the 'Black Shark' flag in the water and put on a weird smile.
At the bottom of the Frozen Sea, Atlas’ shattered and core started to glow again. The massive mech sentinel burst out of the sea.
Half a month later, the Valkyrie finally arrived at the port. No matter how reluctant Franco is, it is time for him to say goodbye.
Looking at Freya's back, Franco is lost in lament and he stares blankly. However, when someone asked him why he would answer in anger that it is all because he has lost all his loots and has no money to buy liquor for winter.
After years of absence, Aurora’s Heart is now back in Valhalla. Freya puts the artifact in place with her own hands. Then, a mighty force bursts from Aurora’s Heart, and gently sweeps through every corner of Northern Vale.
Freya feels it.
So does Franco.
Aurora’s Heart rose slowly, shining brightly on the heroes of Northern Vale, as well as the strong and brave people of the city. (The End)