| Fall of Talmyr is a Historical Event
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“The west is ripe for the taking. For five thousand years, the Dalmiric people have stood against me. They escaped my grasp the first time. And once I have reclaimed their lives this time, they will never be free from my reign for as long as I breathe.”
The Fall of Talmyr, otherwise known as the Adravaelic Invasion of Talmyr is a significant event in Koldenweltian history; marking the beginning of a second global war with the Legion of Shiarchon, and the dissolution of the five-millennia old Dalmiric Kingdom under the Shiarchon invasion.
Corpus et Sanguis Edit
Valentinianus had returned.
The Chalice of Havoc was grasped with the giant's intense strength the entire journey back to Abyssus. Astride his Blood Drake, he caught a glimpse of the colossal demon, Nalúnt, seemingly razing Dar-Nahalant to complete and utter oblivion. Though he did not see the action itself - tons upon tons of rock and sand was thrown into the air, obscuring the Shiarchon warlord's vision. Nonetheless, his return to Abyssus was without hindrance. For much of the journey, the thoughts of the individuals at Dar-Nalahant ran through his mind - especially Longinus and Septimus. Having to report that the two were alive to the Imperator instilled fear even into Valentinianus - the Imperator's wrath was infamously destructive and indiscriminate. His presence was required at Sangua Mons however - the Imperator emphasised the fact that he was not to return to Abyssus until the Chalice was his, and this certainly included the terms of his death if it occurred. But it did not. Valentinianus dismounted his drake upon one of the high walls of the palace, not accessible normally to anyone. He was expected in the Imperator's personal chambers, where he quickly made his way to report his findings to his emperor.
Valentinianus found the Imperator in his chambers, as he predicted, wearing his more ceremonial robes as he stood in waiting for the Shiarchon. His eyes were much like the course of gravity - Valentinianus could feel the Imperator's eyes stare straight through him as their eyes met. Valentinianus bowed to the Imperator, as the Imperator made a gesture to enter the chambers. The Imperator lead Valentinianus to the deeper recesses of his quarters to reveal a pool of sorts within the room - steps leading inwards so that one was able to submerge themselves in it. It was filled with, as Valentinianus instantly recognised, blood - dragon's blood to be more precise. It was then that the Imperator offered his hand to Valentinianus, and the Praetor placed the Chalice in his hand. Valentinianus was unsure of what to expect. It appeared much like a ritual of sorts - perhaps the Chalice was the key instrument in performing it. Nevertheless, he stood silently as he witnessed the Imperator submerge himself half way into the cistern, standing in the exact centre; the pool of blood coming up to his waist. He then scooped the dragon's blood into the Chalice itself, the liquid pouring out of the Chalice unevenly due to its shape. The Imperator stood there motionlessly for a moment, looking at the Chalice as he then drank the blood from it, and then planting the Chalice on the floor.
Valentinianus jolted back as the blood in the cistern threw itself all over the Imperator, the Imperator himself spreading his arms out as the blood appeared like rope or chains that rapidly dragged him under, and not before long, the crimson blood of the dragon soon turned black, almost unnaturally so, pulling in all light no matter how dimly lit the Imperator's quarters were in this room. Valentinianus wished to utter for the Imperator's response, but he felt compelled to let the ritual take its course. The liquid then drained, through the drainage at the bottom which led out to be expelled out of the side of the mountain. The Shiarchon peered in to see whether the Imperator was there - he was, still clothed in black, though now drenched in a corrupted fluid, leaking out of his robes and out of the eye-holes in his mask. Valentinianus was rarely ever afraid, though the Imperator always succeeded in frightening him, and now the appearance of the the Imperator was beyond what he could have considered.
The Imperator himself was knelt down on one knee, breathing heavily. This was the first indication that something was amiss - Shiarchon had long lost the ability to breathe as mortals did - though the Imperator was doing so. He stood to his feet, pulling himself out of the drained basin as he flexed his fingers and hands, feeling the urge to take the bandages that covered his body off. First, it was the hands - and Valentinianus' faceless visage almost appeared to widen as he saw the Imperator's very hands - covered in flesh. The Imperator then removed much of his upper clothing, revealing an athletic and even-toned frame of a body, and then, much to the amazement of Valentinianus, the mask. The Imperator's curse appeared to be lifted.
Kalarah threw the mask to the floor, touching his own face - his jaw, and the running his hands towards his head, realising that a long flowing array of perfectly black hair now fell from his head. He went through to the main part of his quarters, to a full-standing mirror - he then looked at himself for what appeared like minutes upon end, examining every detail on his body - he remembered that his hair met at his head at a widow's peak, and that his skin was now a pale tone. He silently lamented however over the fact that there were two scars on his body - one was the dagger wound upon his neck that his brother Septimus inflicted upon him many millennia ago, and the other was a series of bite wounds that the Inatosan Wolf inflicted upon him decades back. Though they were still present on his body, Kalarah found that he retained his comparatively beautiful yet terrifying form. Valentinianus knelt down on both knees, not daring to look at Kalarah in the face, though Kalarah urged him to rise to his feet.
- Kalarah - Rise, Valentinianus.
- Valentinianus - Imperator...this is...
- Kalarah - It is...what?
- Valentininaus - ...Why?
Kalarah went over to a pedestal, carrying a jug of blood - the only thing that Shiarchon were able to drink. He poured himself a drink into a chalice, and another for Valentinianus. Whilst he confidently threw it back, he found now that the taste disgusted him, and caused him to spit it out violently over the floor. His sense of taste had returned, and it appeared that the curse of eating flesh and drinking blood was gone also. Kalarah still felt the course of immense power run through his body, though it seemed the Void's grasp on him was no longer physical. He angrily threw the chalice across the room, though regained his composure.
- Kalarah - ...The coming days, Valentinianus. My invasion of Talmyr. The mortals of Talmyr must acclimatize to a face that they will know. There would be no sense in hiding under a helm.
- Valentinianus - And what of the rest of us, Imperator?
- Kalarah - There will come a time when the Dragon's Blood will be free for all...though now more pressing matters are at hand. If my predictions are correct, our invasion force for Talmyr shall be marching upon Basqan Ishgind's gates in the next three days. We must join with them, as we must address the Thirteen Kings.
- Valentinianus - Matters of travel. A dragon?
- Kalarah - Correct.
Knocking on Hell's Gate Edit
Message in the Dark Edit
It was a week after Vixaatus managed to escape the battle at Dar-Nahalant along with the team. None of them heard from Kinmorunddraver or the Simulacra since then, and they took to hiding in the ancient underground ruins of Avarmaelium; Septimus' idea, knowing that the cisterns of the city underneath had largely remained intact five millennia after its sacking. The water in the huge mazes of Avarmaelium long since dried up, though they could still catch a scent of dampness in the ruins as if water still flowed through there. Much like any other underground ruin, it was blackened out - many of them took to lighting up the area so that they could just see the high walls of the cistern fade into blackness above them. Septimus himself was propped up against a wall, sitting silently as if he was waiting for something to happen, though he did not know what. The Sea Witch slept on top of a ruined pillar, scratching her stomach and snored while Clothovera sat on the ground, reading Alhazred's pages. Norrigan kept himself distracted by training by himself in a small distance, while Earath leaned on a wall, unsure of their chances. Lekren read treatises on alchemy, seemingly unconcerned with the rest of the group.
Hachi had his back propped against Clothovera's own, taking to occasionally glancing over his shoulder to observe Alhazred's texts and illustrations as he sharpened his blade with a whetstone, while Kanna slept beside the Sea Witch, his head facing upwards towards the ceiling with his hands clasped together on top of his chest, snoring lightly as he did. Ndrhthryr appeared utterly motionless, as if he was sleeping within his husk of armour, right in the middle of the space of the cistern. Riad was also asleep, taking to sleeping next to a fire, though looking away from it. Pelagrios on the other hand was wide awake, consistently drawing circles on the floor with his fingers as he was moaning in complete boredom.
- Pelagrios - ...Gods above, are we ever gonna get out of here?!
- Hachi - You've ran out of drink?
- Pelagrios - Don't be silly.
- Norrigan - Worry not, friends. I'm sure we'll eventually get out of this place, hunt the evil down and hurt it tremendously until it cries.
- Hachi - ... Honestly, after that last encounter, I'm considering giving up the whole "fighting evil" business. That was too close.
- Longinus - Do not have that attitude, Lagosi. The Order of Sol did not fight on cowardice or demoralisation. Remain vigilant.
- Hachi - Note how the Order of Sol is extinct now.
- Longinus - And therefore note how I survived five thousand years underwater.
- Hachi - By retreating.
- Norrigan - Give up? Hah! Hahaha! You're a funny one, Lagosi!... Heh, giving up on fighting the enemy, how silly...
- Septimus - Tarquinius and Norrigan are right. If we decide to remain hidden, then there is nothing in this world that will face the Void head on.
- Earath - Our chances are not too good, though. We lost Dar-Nahalant, and Kinmo has been missing for a whole week.
- Lekren - We shall find a way and persevere. There is no other way! Keep calm and ca- ah, who am I decieving. - Lekren snored grumpily - We are done.
- Longinus - Regardless. I would much rather die advancing against the Adversary than bury my head in the sand.
- Clothovera - Even if we wanted to do something, what can we do now? Go back to Abyssus? No thanks.
- Hachi - Well, I know I can do something. ... You, that is, Clotho.
- Clothovera - I'm really not in the mood, Hachi.
It was at this moment, the team heard an approaching sound. It was the flapping of wings - something more avian than draconic, and quickly revealed itself to be something akin to a crow - though it bore blue feathers of an iridescent nature, and in its beak, held a parchment that in itself bore the same seal that was on the coin that Nalashtannylor gave to Khadya.
- Clothovera - A telegram?
- Alhazred - Someone with hands, kindly get it.
Pelagrios weakly stood to his feet - being awake for much longer than twelve hours was a trial for Pelagrios, and he stumbled in his conventionally drunken way over to the messenger, taking the parchment from its beak as it then flew away back through where it came from. He scratched the seal from the paper, flicking his hands free of it as he did, and unveiled it.
- Pelagrios - ...I can't read this.
- Norrigan - Are you illiterate, friend?
- Pelagrios - When it comes to caligraphy, yes.
- Norrigan - Allow me to aid you in this dire time of need.
As Pelagrios handed over the message to Norrigan, Riad loudly smirked, though appearing asleep, he quickly silenced himself and pretended to snore.
The message was written;
Dar-Nahalant is safe. The fortress remains corrupted, and it is being purified as we speak. Do not return to the fortress until it is safe for you to. You must be directed to Talmyr as quickly as possible. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk. The Legion marches to their doorstep. Be careful.
- Ndrhthryr - ...Talmyr's under attack?
- Hachi - Well, at least the Shiarchon are not on our tail anymore.
- Earath - Talmyr. That's far northwest, isn't it?
- Lekren - The land of humans to the west?
- Ndrhthryr - You don't remember being there when we met Esulus and Taihadrae?
- Earath - ... That was Talmyr? I thought we were still at the Polar Lands. We Merovar don't really know much of the far north.
- Longinus - ...That army we saw at Abyssus' gates. That is the army invading Talmyr.
- Norrigan - Friends! The enemy is revealed! We must pursue and purge them!
- Hachi - ... Well, with an army of that size, I doubt we will be able to do much against them. Nice knowing you all, I'm sure Talmyr was a great place.
- Septimus - The Dalmiric Kingdom has an army of its own. Though it cannot stand against the Shiarchon - we must do our best to stop the Legion from invading.
- Riad - And save Taihadrae and Esulus while we're at it.
Norrigan begun bashing his sword against his shield, creating loud clanking noises which startled the Sea Witch, causing her to fall out of the pillar on top of Clothovera. Kanna was jolted from his slumber and he stared with contempt towards Norrigan, folding his arms as he dangled his legs off of the pillar in order to climb off of it.
- Norrigan - Wakey wakey, time to-
- Sea Witch - I'm going to strangle you, Norrigan!!
- Clothovera - W-waaah!
- Hachi - Aaah! D-Don't scream in my ear like that!
- Longinus - Screaming and windpipe-throttling aside. We have been called.
- Kanna - We lost Dar-Nahalant - a single fortress -, what makes any of you so sure that we are qualified to save an entire country?
- Earath - You missed the part where we got informed the fortress is actually still around.
- Kanna - Does not change the fact we were forced to abandon it. There's a difference between it surviving and us successfully defending it.
- Pelagrios - I'm running out of rum. Let's go help Talmyr before I'm forced to crack one of us open and drink blood.
From a small distance away from the team, dust and sand begun to be launched upwards and take the form of a dragon as Vixaatus manifested, laying down on the ground seemingly asleep until his eyes opened.
- Vixaatus - ... Aaah, that was a good rest. What did I miss?
- Longinus - A message, presumably from Kinmorunddraver, says that an eighty-thousand strong militia of Shiarchon is about to ransack the Dalmiric Kingdom.
- Earath - ... Since when can you turn into literal sand, father?
- Vixaatus - I must have forgotten to show that off before. Regardless, if the Shiarchon are attacking Talmyr, we must go immediately.
- Hachi - Let us just hope that the territories between them and Talmyr across the continent can slow them down long enough for us to plan a strong enough resistance.
- Longinus - The message indicates that they are only hours from reaching the territories. I am not quite sure how they circumvented the entire world. Perhaps a ritual of concealment.
- Vixaatus - Hmpf. If that's so, then we are already too late.
- Alhazred - Fear not, Old One. With your flight and my speed hexes, we can get there in time, provided everyone can hold on and not be thrown out of your back in the process.
- Ndrhthryr - Sounds fun.
- Sea Witch - Just as long as Hachi or Pelagrios don't vomit on me, I'm game.
- Pelagrios - I cannot guarantee that will not happen. Primarily because of who I am as a person.
Once the entirely of the team had mounted on Vixaatus's back, Alhazred cast his hexes upon the dragon to increase his flight speed, and he promptly took to the air and launched himself at the northwest at high speed.
Battle at Basqan Ishgind Edit
It was nearing midday as they reached the territories of Talmyr. The harsh and cold wind of the northwest slapped the team in the face as they felt the autumnal weather of the north, though most of them were not immediately disturbed by the cold. Below them as they flew, for miles and miles upon end, was a trail of destruction as the Shiarchon ransacked and flattened multiple settlements; the vague sight of dead bodies strewn all over each village and town, and another vast number displayed on crucifixes on the main road. Vixaatus immediately swerved to the left and flew far around as he saw the immense swarm of Shiarchon stopped at the city of Basqan Ishgind, the Dalmiric capital - stood with their weapons in hand a mile away from the colossal stone walls, with the almost equally large Dalmiric army facing them.
- Vixaatus - Grrrrh. Even then, we are too late. They have reached the capital.
- Ndrhthryr - It isn't too late. If they take Basqan Ishgind, they still have to take Azhnatmukand which is--
It was at this moment, Ndrhthryr went silent as a horrid realisation entered his mind.
- Ndrhthryr - An island. Azhnatmukand is an island. The Shiarchon must have a naval force as well.
- Sea Witch - How are we expected to stop a force this big? I'm aware I'm a very good witch and the best out of any of you but there's just too damn many of the bastards down there.
- Lekren - We could, in theory, minimise the casualties and then escape, which would likely be the best favour we could do for the nation without sacrificing our lives in vain.
- Longinus - He is right. Holding off the Shiarchon will inevitably cost us our lives, though not theirs. But the Shiarchon have not yet marched on the city.
- Earath - Save the people. Got it.
It was a miracle that none of the Shiarchon present spotted Vixaatus, as the Sand Drake elder descended directly into the city itself. Basqan Ishgind was in total anarchy - horns were blaring and citizens were frantically attempting their escape - some were deserpate enough to dive off the coast, many drowning in the process. The gates were shut to prevent the Shiarchon from coming in, though many civilians were hammering on the doors to let them out. The sight of Vixaatus did not calm them any further - guards that were present in the city were pointing their weaponry at the dragon, though the calamity around them stayed their hands.
- Vixaatus - Citizens of Basqan Ishgind. We are not your enemies. We are here to guide you to safety. Lower your weapons.
- Sea Witch - Can't get you out of there if you point your arrows at my head, okay?!
- Lekren - Besides, with demigods, firearms, alchemical creations and devastating spells that we carry, you would not have been able to offer resistance even if that was necessary. - Lekren chuckled, creating an aura of dark humour around him.
The guards nervously lowered their armaments, allowing Vixaatus some distance as they backed away. A captain of the guard slowly approached the team as they dismounted the dragon, noticing Ndrhthryr specifically, though recognising the team somewhat.
- Captain - I've seen some of you before...what do you want us to do?
- Vixaatus - Ndrhthryr, you know this land better than the rest of us. What would be the best way to safety?
- Ndrhthryr - ...The best way out would be through the northern gate. If the population could follow the northern coast around and then east towards Daghanzand and then south, then it could work. Getting them that far out will take twenty days at least. They'll need all the supplies and warmth as they can get.
- Sea Witch - Twenty?! We got an army of black elves right outside the walls, in case you forgot.
- Hachi - ... Sea Witch! I didn't know you were such a racist!
- Ndrhthryr - We'll have to do our best to stop the Shiarchon from marching on the north gate. That's their only way out.
- Norrigan - Well, you heard the metal golem, folks! Off you go before you all die!
- Captain - I'd hate to ask you of this. The generals outside are fighting among themselves on how to negotiate with the Shiarchon...if you could...help them out...
- Lekren - An... unusual solution.
- Sea Witch - Hah! Sorry idiots they are! Negotiating with these guys? Not gonna happen.
- Earath - That's one more problem to take care of then.
- Septimus - Stopping the Shiarchon from invading...might not be impossible. I do have an idea. A risk, but an idea nonetheless.
- Sea Witch - They're bloodthirsty savages, they can't be reasoned with. Just like Lympharians. Nnngh.
- Septimus - They used to be Orichalcum Elves, also. If we can at least appeal to the commander's sense of 'honour', then it might give us time to evacuate the civilians before they destroy the city.
- Clothovera - That's better than what we have right now. Which would be nothing.
- Longinus - And if the commander does not have a sense of honour?
- Riad - Then we're high-tailing it out of here faster than Pelagrios can smell rum.
- Norrigan - If all fails, I can always hit them with my sword.
- Earath - There's only so many times you can take hits, Norrigan.
- Norrigan - You'd be surprised, friend.
Septimus momentarily hesitated, before nodding to the guard.
- Septimus - Tarquinius, Sea Witch, Lekren, Hachi and Clothovera. Come with me. The rest of you, guide the city out.
- Vixaatus - I must note, on the way here, I felt not just one great evil. The Shiarchon are not alone in this invasion.
- Longinus - Take care, then.
- Norrigan - Time to save the country! Praise Isiris!
The guard lead Septimus, Hachi, Clothovera, the Sea Witch, Lekren and Longinus out of the city's main gate, and behind the tens-of-thousands strong army of the Dalmiric Kingdom. The footsoldiers present - human, draconic and beastfolk alike dressed all in similar gear parted to let the small team through whilst closing behind them, revealing four generals at the front of the army who were mumbling to each other. The Shiarchon stared soullessly at their opponents, vaguely moving around as they watched the Dalmiric army from afar. The generals double-took at the team - a strange combination of entities, three of which were from an extinct race, and the other two were plainly unusual.
- General - What are you all doing here? I'm almost afraid to ask.
- Sea Witch - Reminding you all that you're facing an army of monsters who cannot be negotiated with. Get off your butts!
- Clothovera - Geez, teacher, we literally just had a talk about that.
- Sea Witch - I'm too angry to have a good memory span. The elves here can explain.
- General - ...Go on.
- Septimus - The Shiarchon are perhaps savage in their ways, though they are usually...open to honouring the terms of battle.
- Lekren - Oh, dear Celestial Paragons, do not delude yourselves. The Enlightened have no honour. The bones of our ancestors have taught us that much.
- Septimus - The Shiarchon are not without some form of honour. I would have to remind the Dalmiric people of the fact that the Shiarchon did re-bury the bodies of the dead that Ahdramilús manipulated.
- Sea Witch - They probably had ulterior motives. Can't trust anything that worships the Adversary, boy.
- Septimus - Boy? I am twenty times your --
- Sea Witch - I'm older and wrinkler-looking than you. That's good enough.
- Longinus - Regardless. The Shiarchon are perhaps open to ceremonial circumstances on the battlefield. That is, in the days of old, a champion would meet another champion to decide fate without mass bloodshed.
- Clothovera - ... Man, we should've kept Nd and Vixaatus with us.
- Sea Witch - You Dalmiric people have a champion of any description?
- General - Mhor Shima would be the closest. Though he isn't here.
- Sea Witch - A shame. I know the guy. He could talk the Shiarchon to death about how much he likes fish.
- Lekren - Now would this be of any use? The Shiarchon are deadly.
- Septimus - One of us could face their champion. We are all experienced and well-equipped to face one in battle.
- Sea Witch - Clothovera, you can eat the sod and get it over with quickly.
- Clothovera - Oh come on, I had forgotten that.
- Longinus - Unless anyone decides to seal their fate, I would be the champion. Though I am uncertain of the Shiarchon's reception to seeing an Aurelian. It may ire them beyond honouring terms of battle.
- Sea Witch - Yeah, well, I'm not fighting a Shiarchon champion. It's hard enough to kill a normal one.
- Septimus - Well we must decide. Otherwise we will all be dead within the next hour.
- Alhazred - If none of you will fight, you realize what this leaves you with?
With a magic jolt, Alhazred created a small light which pointed at Hachi.
- Alhazred - The boy, by himself, against a Shiarchon champion.
- Hachi - Yeah!... Wait, what?!
- Lekren - The foliant has a wonderfully venomous sense of humour,
- Hachi - ... You must be joking. I cannot even cause a dent in a grunt's armour, let alone take on their general! ... Ha ha... V-Very funny, guys.
- Longinus - I believe Alhazred is not talking in jest.
- Alhazred - I am not. You have turned out to be our most viable fighter.
- Hachi - ... Clotho, are you hearing this?
- Clothovera - Yep. Good luck, dear.
Hachi remained quiet for the following brief moment, glancing at the team in disbelief with a half-open mouth and widened eyes, before he let out a long exhale; he straightened his back so he stood upright and placed a hand upon the sheath of his blade, closing his eyes as he did and nodding subtley to himself and the group.
- Hachi - ... Alright.
- Longinus - Aurārel and myself place faith in you.
- Lekren - Should I provide my strengthening potions, or would the Shiarchon see that as a mark of unfair play?
- Hachi - I would see it as a mark of unfair play. ... If there is one thing the Lagosi and the Shiarchon share, it's that we both value personal merit as much as our honour. ... Probably.
- Sea Witch - Okay then, tough cookie. Off you go. Don't die, I'd hate to have to bury my own son... wait. You're not my son. Ignore me.
- Septimus - Strategies against the Shiarchon. Their armour is weak at the neck and under their arms.
- Hachi - ... Hmph, perfect. Strategies against the Lagosi: hit me once and I'm likely to die. ... If he hits me.
- Longinus - Indeed. Do not get hit.
- Sea Witch - By the Great Beasts, kid, stop complaining. You've been through worse. You fought Zran Kar head-on. One Shiarchon is not gonna kill you.
- Hachi - ... We'll see. Now... Let's get this over with.
The general nodded, mounting a horse and leading Hachi forward to meet the Shiarchon army. They stopped half way across the plains - the cold weather laying a thin dashing of frost on the grass. The general nervously coughed, before shouting aloud;
- General - We call upon the commander of this army to discuss terms of battle.
The atmosphere suddenly went without noise.
A few moments passed before the Shiarchon militia slowly parted down the middle, revealing an entity also astride a great golem of a horse mount - adorned in colours of black, red and gold, and upon it, appeared not a Shiarchon, but what looked like an elf of gigantesque size. He was dressed in a tunic of similar colours; all sorts of ancient-style decorum on his body including bands on his arms and a small headdress that appeared not unlike a crown. His hair flowed almost half way down his back, but the most striking feature was his eyes; they retained the demonic nature that many Shiarchon had, as they stared with a great shadowy quality at the general and Hachi. The Lagosi swallowed nervously as he laid his eyes upon the grand dark elf, his hand twitching momentarily before he steeled himself and furrowed his brow. Behind the royal-looking Shiarchon appeared a more conventional-looking golem, clearly made of searing magma who possessed a throne on his back, or perhaps had his back shaped like a throne. Sitting upon it was a skeletal figure in burning armor who was familiar to part of the group.
- General - W-who is it t-that I have the p-pleasure of addressing?
- Xacutus - ME! The great Xacutus! Anyone order a dose of ARSON with a few drops of SCREAMS of TERROR?
The elf's face remained stern as he looked at the general, and then Hachi. The elf recognised the Lagosi, and his eyes narrowed aggressively.
- ??? - You speak to Imperator Constantius of the Adravaelic Empire.
- Xacutus - Yeah, elf boy is here too.
- Alhazred - ... The Imperator? With flesh?... United with the Mad Pyromancer?!
- Longinus - ...Not a wise choice to meet them on the battlefield.
- Sea Witch - Oh, you've got to be joking!
- Hachi - ...Hrngh, this is a nightmare come true.
The general gasped aloud, his horse rearing on its back as the Imperator's eyes met the stallion's, causing it distress and madness as it fell to the floor, with the general falling also. The horse's weight crushed the general underneath, causing him to roar out in terrible pain.
- Kalarah - You. I have met you before.
- Xacutus - So have I! You are the little group of IDIOTS who resurrected me!
- Hachi - ... I remember you. In truth, I am surprised the feeling is mutual and you have not forgotten us entirely.
- Kalarah - No. A rather brave act to face me twice. And also, a rather brave act to venture into Abyssus. You have my admiration for defeating Akharav. He had been a thorn in my side for years beyond counting.
- Xacutus - ... No way. YOU guys are the ones who offed Akharav?
- Hachi - The very same. ... And, though you may disbelief me, one who brought an end to the vampiric plague sometime ago.
- Xacutus - Now you're making things up to make yourself look IMPRESSIVE. I made you all RUN like CHICKENS.
- Hachi - There won't be any running today. ... Imperator, I have been informed that the Shiarchon, as treacherous as you are, are not ignorant to the old ways of tradition. ... Of honour.
- Kalarah - Apostasy of a weak god in order favour the strongest god is not treachery. ...Though...your proposition of honouring tradition intrigues me. Speak, Lagosi.
- Hachi - I come forward to you today to request an exercise of honour and ceremony; I propose to you a duel, as I come here as the champion of Talmyr and the Dalmiric Kingdom. ... As a champion of Aurārel, Isiris, and Koldenwelt. And as a representative of Min Lagosi of the Kame Isles.
Atop his golem, Xacutus rose the Exacutus Vulcanus and aimed it at Hachi, manifesting a fireball while glaring at the Lagosi.
- Xacutus - Stupid kid! MEDDLESOME! Don't you have SCHOOL or CHORES to do?! This is an adult war, where adults kill everyone! Adults being ME! Get OUT of our way!
- Kalarah - Now now, Xacutus. Leaving our fate in the hands of chaos is an entertaining way to dictate our destiny.
- Xacutus - You would listen to him? It's a bloody rabbit!
- Kalarah - He proves a strong argument, Lagosi. You are but a Lagosi. There is little pragmatism in your reasoning.
- Hachi - ... I have fought for the fate of the world before now. I journeyed to the abode of Akharav and fought him single-handedly, resulting in his demise. ... I journeyed into Castle Nightshade and did battle with the strongest of vampires, 'fore I dove into the very depths of Sanguine Hill and challenged - defeated - the Blood God with the Grim Reaper's scythe in hand. ... And I have survived journeying into the heart of Abyssus. And I have survived defending Dar-Nahalant against the legions of the Void. ... If you do not believe me, I hold confidence that the Simulacra will tell you otherwise.
- Clothovera - Ooooh... he has such a way with words~
Xacutus clacked his teeth for a few moments before lowering his weapon.
- Xacutus - I'll pretend all you said is important. You CAN come up with pretty-worded speeches at least.
- Kalarah - Your fate in all but one matter was governed by Isiris. Isiris turns a fearful eye upon me. Very well, Lagosi. You will have your battle.
- Hachi - ... I do not want to face any simple lieutenant or general of yours, Imperator. I request for your finest champion.
- Xacutus - That'd be ME!
Xacutus rose his weapon again.
- Xacutus - DIE!... No wait, I'm not a Shiarchon. NEVER MIND.
- Kalarah - The finest champion of mine?
- Hachi - Yes. Your finest. Your greatest, your strongest!
- Kalarah - You place your confidence in odd ways. That will eventually be your downfall. Nevertheless, I will honour your otherwise hopeless request.
- Xacutus - I'm going to enjoy this!
Kalarah raised his hand, and snapped his fingers. The sound carried a painful whirr with it, resounding through the fields of Basqan Ishgind almost as if with it, he broke the silence that befell the area. The militia behind the Imperator separated, revealing a Shiarchon approaching them. They saw this Shiarchon before - not so long ago - the very same Shiarchon that took the Chalice of Havoc from them and sealed the Simulacra in the void. He was an absolute giant of a Shiarchon - nearing the size of a building, and virtually meeting Kalarah's height even when the Imperator was upon the mount.
- Kalarah - If you desire my finest warrior, then I shall give you my finest warrior. I believe you have already made your acquaintance with Praetor Valentinianus before.
- Xacutus - Heheheheh! You're on the right track to get TOASTED, kid. Turned into STEW, dare I say.
Hachi glanced towards the gargantuan entity with a slight tremor in his stance and sweat dripping from his forehead, yet he nonetheless nodded to the Imperator and retained a stiff upper lip; by contrast, the Lagosi stood shorter than the average man, and his body was roughly as frail. His grip clenched and tightened around the handle of his blade and he shifted his body slightly to turn fully towards the approaching Praetor, swallowing again to reaffirm his decision - whether he could win or not, he must last as long as possible, and such a decision may yet cost him a death of unspeakable agony.
- Kalarah - Valentinianus often has this effect upon his opponents. Have your battle and have it quick. We have a continent to conquer.
- Xacutus - Indeed! I plan to melt all the ice in this place, but I want to get that done BEFORE dinner.
Kalarah turned his mount away, his eyes meeting the rest of the team far away with the Dalmiric army. Hachi turned a last glance towards his companions and let out a brief sigh, before he smiled and began to walk towards the Praetor, drawing his blade from its sheath and tossing the latter away as if he had no further need of it - just as he had done on the day he sought to best the Blood God. As he walked away, he said only three words;
- Hachi - ... Wish me luck.
- Lekren - I do wish you... - Lekren lowered his voice to a whisper - A most painless death.
- Clothovera - Shut up, you winged gecko. My Hachi can win anything...
- Lekren - So do I hope. But hope is a fickle force.
Valentinianus took his gargantuan blade from the grasp on his back, though as he looked at the miniature Lagosi, almost struggling to look that far down, he chuckled mockingly, and held the blade only to throw it to the ground, causing an immense shudder as the weapon, perhaps nearing half a thousand pounds in weight, carved its way into the ground.
- Valentinianus - Any last words before your soul is sent to the Void?
- Hachi - ... I hope you hold no regrets.
Valentinianus growled as he stormed at Hachi, driving his leg downwards in an attempt to crush the Lagosi under his boot. Much to Hachi's surprise, Valentinianus, despite being over seventeen feet in height, was by no means a slow opponent. The approach of the giant caused the ground to shake underneath. The Lagosi steadied himself as he observed the swift and spry titan of a creature before he also dashed forward, clasping his katana his both hands - yet he took a different approach, opting to rush in a zigzag formation in order to exploit the extent of his natural maneuverability and to make himself a difficult target, leaping between his steps with grace. The Shiarchon, not too far behind, slammed his foot into the ground, causing dust to rise into the air as he turned around, noticing the small Hachi behind him. Hachi perked a smile as he had managed to flank the greater giant and dashed ahead once more, this time charging directly for the Praetor's feet with his arms positioned as if preparing to attack. The oncoming attack prompted Valentinianus to rapidly drive his knee into the ground to block Hachi, leaving the Shiarchon half way to the floor.
The Lagosi took note of Valentinianus' movements and observebserved his body - indeed, as he had been told, there were vulnerabilities in the giant's armour that were universal to Shiarchon soldiers, alongside additional armouring that would afflict upon his overall mobility despite his swift pace. He leaped from the earth and targeted the giant's torso, ramming his powerful legs and feet against it in order to accomplish a backwards flip from the Praetor's form while yet to outright attack him. Valentinianus flinched only slightly as the blade found its way into the openings of his armour, and stood back up to his full height whilst looking down at Hachi. One may have expected blood to seep out of the wounds Hachi inflicted, but it was known now that Shiarchon were incapable of bleeding.
- Valentinianus - You fight with a fire in your soul. What would it take to bury that fire, Lagosi?
- 'Hachi - So long as the world's hopes rest on my shoulders, nothing that you could ever hope to break me with, Praetor. ... I do hope you're not holding back on me.
Valentinianus hammered his fists forward; enough strength to easily crush Shiarchon armour with the impact it would have caused. Hachi, once again, leaped backwards from his position and stood some meters back from his opponent, watching the giant dark elf hammer the ground where he had been standing just moments prior. The Lagosi twirled his blade thrice and furrowed his brow once more, beginning to slowly step to his side. Valentinianus rapidly clawed his way into the earth, ripping a vast chunk of the ground out from underneath Hachi's feet, hurling it high into the air with an angered grunt. The Lagosi braced his teeth in the face of the Praetor's rampage, beginning to sweat profusely as his enemy instigated the current offensive, yet he could not simply do nothing. Reassuring himself, he allowed the Praetor to come close as he tore the earth away - and granting the smaller foe the opportunity to leap over the black champion's head to once again flank him in his brutally enraged state.
- Hachi - ... I'd ask what it is that you're fighting for, but I think we both know the answer to that; nothing. You're only doing as you are told to do, like a drone, and simply waiting for your role to be fulfilled.
Valentinianus reached behind him with his titanic arms, trying to grab on to the Lagosi and hopefully crush him without effort, though he was finding it difficult to even find Hachi due to his small stature. The frail, smaller opponent exploited the giant's rage and rushed to climb onto the black champion's rear and back where he could not be reached - especially not with the restrictive armour that adorned the titan's frame - and clung onto the intricate protrusions for dear life, clasping his katana between his teeth as he reached to climb towards the Praetor's upper spine. Valentinianus was frenzying - whirling his giant frame around in hopes to throw Hachi off his back, though to little effect. Soon, the Lagosi reached the area he had been hoping to target through his risky maneuver - the nape of the Shiarchon's neck - and drove the end of his blade into the exposed flesh in as powerful a thrust that he could muster; in the end, however, it would not go deep enough to fatally wound the giant, nor was its size contributing to that fact.
Nonetheless, Valentinianus screeched out in pain - something unusual for a Shiarchon to do, but now he had his chance to grab Hachi. Though the thrust of pain shot straight through his neck, he collected enough composure to toss Hachi over his head and on to the ground in front of him. The Lagosi coughed a heavy spillage of blood and saliva from his mouth as he collided with the ground, certain that at least some bones has been broken and some muscles and tendons strained or torn by the impact, and he glanced up at the enraged Shiarchon with an expression of uncertainty.
- Valentinianus - A good effort. Though you are only just a boy.
Valentinianus placed his foot against Hachi's body, though applying only enough pressure to cause discomfort to the Lagosi as the Praetor looked down. Hachi's eyes, meanwhile, gradually shifted from looking to Valentinianus and to his side, into the distance, yet the range between his face and the Praetor's would not let Valentinianus know it at first.
- Valentinianus - You ask me what I fight for. 'Nothing' is a rather accurate description. Your world is subject to to living and dying. Breathing for a meaningless cause. I aim to bring that all into a new order under the gaze of the Adversary, as you would call Him.
- Hachi - Hrgh... The Adversary seeks to... snuff out everything - you... me... Isiris... the Simulacra... - from existence... I cannot understand how... anyone could come to see a state of... non-existence as something to aspire for. It's... almost deluded...
- Valentinianus - A non-existence of Isiris. I would not have it any other way.
It seemed at that moment that the battle was over, though Valentinianus was not expecting anything to occur at that moment that may have stopped him from crushing Hachi under his foot. Hachi perhaps saw it coming from a distance, though, in a whirl of light, and then a terrible flash followed by what felt like an incredibly loud sensation, the Praetor's armour aroud his shoulder shattered entirely, causing Valentininaus to violently writhe around as his ravaged body was revealed underneath. It was highly muscular despite the sheer degree of corruption Valentinianus' body had suffered over many thousands of years. The impact had also torn a section of his helmet - the left lower jawline straight off, revealing also the skull-like demon that was Valentinianus' visage; his mouth was agape with agony as he roared with a deep tremor. The sheer heat of the blast caused Valentinianus' already burnt skin to steam straight from his bones - the magical element of it caused the burning sensation. Released from the weight placed upon him by the Praetor's foot, the Lagosi leaped backwards and swiftly clasped his blade, as it had been blown from its point of penetration by the blast of Sun magic, with the blade glimmering and steaming with the very same heated, ethereal residue. Glancing upward, Hachi closed the distance through a powerful bound with his hind legs and landed on the great Shiarchon's head, using his prosphetic limb to grasp ahold of the churned, melting remnants of his opponent's helmet.
The Lagosi glanced into the eyes of his foe, hesitating for a moment as if he looked into the soulless null of the Void itself, before his composure was brought back to the forefront; with swift and merciless prejudice, he repeatedly jammed and stabbed the Praetor Valentinianus through his left eye socket with the blade in his right hand, its sharp edge steaming with Sun magic. It would not be until he was certain that the great beast of a Shiarchon could no longer retaliate that he would cease the relentless outburst that had overcome him. Valentinianus' death was not slow - each wound inflicted upon the Shiarchon slowly drained his vitality from his body, and it must have numbered at least forty wounds to the Praetor's eyeless face before he was brought to his knees, and another twenty before crashing to the ground. The Lagosi panted as he soon halted the assault, almost disgusted by his own work upon what was once the Praetor's face, and stepped off from the giant's lifeless form, inhaling and exhaling deeply while muttering between the pauses of his breaths.
- Hachi - ... I know you will regret not killing me when you had the chance.
The Imperator witnessed the event from afar. He saw his only confidant, and possibly his only true friend killed by a mere Lagosi. The look of shock and furore enroached onto his face as his eyes stabbed its way across the face of Hachi, and then on to Longinus, who threw the spear that destroyed Valentinianus' armour. Once again, it felt as if a silence entered the area, but it was quickly broken by the manic and terrifying roar of the Imperator as the Shiarchon army instantly mobilised and marched forward. The Lagosi swiftly retreated, leaping over the torn and ravaged earth that Valentinianus had created prior, and moved to make an escape as fast as he could, mustering what stamina remained following his efforts in combat with the late Praetor, while Xacutus begun cackling at his throne.
- Xacutus - How EMBARRASSING! He died to a WALKING RABBIT.
- Kalarah - Kill them! Kill all of them!
The Imperator's wrath was not the true course of action, however, and the Praetors present realised that. They knew that the goal was to seize the city, and not to massacre the entire population or the warriors present - those that surrendered or survived the ensuing onslaught that the Shiarchon were about to bring were to be imprisoned, and their fates to be determined after Basqan Ishgind was taken. However, Kalarah certainly insisted that Hachi and the rest of the team were to die as painfully as possible. The Imperator himself conjured a sphere of energies seemingly from thin air as he twirled it around in his grasp, enlarging with reddened sparks of energy as they were sucked into the blackness of the energy that he summoned. Hurling it at the team, Longinus rapidly cast himself a shielding ward of light to protect Hachi and the rest of the team, though as the sphere collided, Longinus was thrown far and fast back towards the walls; narrowly missing the team and instantly killing many of the Dalmiric soldiers with his flying body before it slammed against the gate of the city itself.
Many of the front line were also blown back by the sheer magnitude of Kalarah's magic, though the Dalmiric army remained vigiliant as they stood to face the Shiarchon. The Sea Witch put both Hachi and Clothovera under her arms as she ran back to the city, dodging fireballs thrown by Xacutus.
- Sea Witch - That was not part of the deal, you jerks!
- Hachi - N-Neither was that spear attack... W-What in the Twelve Hells were you guys t-thinking back there?!
The Shiarchon moved upon the city at an alarming pace. By the time the team had reached the gates, and to Longinus who had risen clumsily to his feet, the Shiarchon were only seconds away from ploughing through the Dalmiric army. The gates quickly rushed open, revealing that the city was largely empty now. Longinus held on to the side of a building, panting heavily as his other arm held on to his chest, angrily groaning in pain.
- Septimus - We must find the others. Make sure they're all alright.
- Hachi - W-Where should we look for them?
- Septimus - I do not know. I don't know Talmyr.
At this moment, blasts of sand were sent from the air at the Shiarchon as Vixaatus flew into the fray, carrying the others on his back. Kanna glanced down from the dragon's rear and breathed a quiet sigh of relief as he saw the others that had went to oppose the Shiarchon were safe, with his eyes locking themselves onto the Sea Witch and how she cradled the two youngsters.
- Septimus - Are the civilians safe?
- 'Kanna - Does a bear take a shit in the woods? Yes, they're safe, but we're not going to be for much longer by the looks of things.
- Ndrhthryr - We need to get to Azhnatmukand as quick as possible. Shiarchon ships are gaining on the island, and fast.
From the height of where Vixaatus was perched, he could gather the sight of the coastline on the other end of the city. The ships were totally abandoned - anchored down next to the piers. However, it was strange to notice that there was a high wave pushing them against the pier aggressively - it was not particularly windy that day.
- Earath - Are you guys seeing that? Do Shiarchon ships create waves like those?
- Pelagrios - Nope.
- Norrigan - Perhaps Talmyr has a bizarre and unexplained ocean.
- Hachi - Or maybe we can expect another ounce of trouble. ... The Imperator has it out for my head now.
- Septimus - Another ounce of trouble? The Shiarchon do not control many naval forces. Or nothing to part the waves like that.
- Sea Witch - ... Is the Great Water Beast here? I never imagined her coming all the way to the cold north.
- Riad - ...I don't think so.
- Kanna - Well then could someone kindly explain to me exactly what the fuck is going on?
- Vixaatus - Something lurks beneath the waves, and it is not Tangilaruka. It is too large to be her.
- Ndrhthryr - And those waves are heading north. Towards Azhnatmukand.
- Sea Witch - Piss.
- Clothovera - I hope one of you guys have a plan.
- Pelagrios - We go there...and blow up all of the Shiarchon ships...right?
- Sea Witch - Seems a bit bold. And stupid.
- Hachi - ... You just had me fight the Imperator's greatest champion, and you're saying that destroying a bunch of ships is bold and stupid?
- Sea Witch - Yeah. One guy? Easy. Many ships with many guys? Not that easy.
- Pelagrios - Wait wait wait; you killed Valentinianus?
- Hachi - Would you believe me if I said yes?
- Sea Witch - Apparently. I can't tell these things apart from each other, they all look the same to me.
- Pelagrios - Guess I would. Otherwise you'd have been turned into fertiliser.
- Longinus - No time to speak. We must get to Azhnatmukand as quickly as we can. I fear it is about to suffer.
- Vixaatus - Brace yourselves. Here we go.
Battle of Azhnatmukand Edit
The weather of Talmyr grew less amiable the further north they went. It must have been verging on freezing by the time they were half way there, and marginally below it as they approached Azhnatmukand's coasts. The Dalmiric autumn was much like winter for the rest of the world; the sky was filled with an icy mist that only Vixaatus with his dragon's eyesight could see through. It provided the team with a mask as they flew closer, but they could hear the growing sound of explosions and the crackle of fire as the smoke rising from the coasts of the island was soon easily visible.
It did not give way to the incredulous number of ships below them - it must have numbered nearly two hundred vessels of Shiarchon craft that were jamming any exit or entrance to the pier, and a myriad of the Shiarchon's servants - be it human or beastfolk were piling on to pillage the settlments up towards the Mountain City itself. Instead, only sixty ships or so were instantly visible, close to the coast. The team looked down, examining the carnage on the ground.
- Earath - It's a nightmare down there... Achoo! And it's so cold here!
- Sea Witch - Boy. Facing an army. Can't say I ever did that before.
- Riad - We need a plan. And quick.
- Vixaatus - An aerial assault on the ships should be able to keep them from going further. In the meantime, those of you incapable of flight can deal with the ground forces.
- Pelagrios - But there's only two of us that can fly.
- Vixaatus - There is me, and there is the Bizargar woman.
- Sea Witch - And there's Clothovera. Come on, you guys've seen her fly before. I taught her that.
- Norrigan - I can fly too!... Wait, no I cannot.
- Pelagrios - You honestly expect me to remember that?
- Longinus - We expect not. Regardless, I will be of more use from the skies than on the ground.
- Vixaatus - Your ranged abilities will prove useful. Now, point me where to leave you so that the four of us may face the navy.
- Ndrhthryr - Get us as far into the town as close as you can.
- Hachi - I have just a hunch that this won't be as easy as we're making it out to be.
- Riad - Probably not.
Vixaatus proceeded to land, allowing the members of the group to get out of his back. Clothovera prepared herself to fly by sitting onto the All-Knowing, while the Sea Witch changed her form into that of a large albatross wearing a witch's hat. Hachi glanced towards Clothovera as she perched herself upon the broom and a sly smile found its way upon his face, folding his arms as he looked onward.
- Hachi - Just so you know... I think you're great at riding that thing.
- Clothovera - ... What's your point?
- Hachi - Oh, you know exactly what my point is.
- Sea Witch - You stop that right now before I peck your eyes off. Eye.
- Kanna - I'm with the bird lady on this one. That's gross.
- Hachi - Aww.
Vixaatus took flight with Longinus on his back, with the Sea Witch and Clothovera following him. Longinus' spear, much like any other time, materialised in a ray of light as his eyes narrowed, surveying the fleet of ships underneath. Almost to his surprise, the sight of many more ships than the team originally saw made his eyes vaguely widen, though he quickly furrowed his brows in a snarl as he held his hand high.
- Longinus - Tell me, Vixaatus. Have you ever been used as a mount for war before?
- Vixaatus - I am here as your ally, not your steed.
- Longinus - My New Common is not perfect. I apologise.
- Vixaatus - Not for an Orichalcum Elf, but yes, others have flew to battle on my back before.
Longinus hurled the spear towards the ships - at the distance, nearing a thousand feet in the air perhaps, the spear gathered enough energy to dart towards the ground like a meteor, blasting multiple ships to mere shrapnel, the waves from the icy water drenching many other ships. The alarm was raised to the Legion's warriors as some of the more keen-eyed goblins with them pointed to the sky, causing some disarray among them as the sight of a Sand Drake, a witch upon a broom and an albatross inspired some terror in their ranks.
Charging magic energy through his wings, Vixaatus then beat them, creating a tornado of sand which was sent into the ships's direction. The Sea Witch cast her magic into the sea, causing the waves to become stronger and more violent while Clothovera sent down fireballs at the Legion from her fingers, flying at high speed across the air on the All-Knowing. As the ships were quickly sunken, many of the footsoldiers onboard began to abandon their vessels to make for the shores, first of all the men aligned to the Legion, some kicking goblins out of the way in order for them to escape. Some of the more strong willed members started to return the attack - those armed with crossbows very quickly armed themselves to fire upon their aggressors. Some of the larger trolls present started to thrash around on the ship also, slowly making their way to ground and bashing many of the Dalmiric forces there away without effort. Vixaatus bombarded the enemies from the sky by launching blasts of sand from his mouth while Clothovera focused her magic to summon winged Sanguinaries into the fray, in order to stop or at least slow the enemies down.
- Clothovera - Invoken Demonica Sanguinis!
- Sea Witch - Oh god they look as ugly as what we're fighting.
- Longinus - They should get along just fine then. I speak sarcastically.
- Sea Witch - Yeah yeah. We can help you improve your jokes after doomsday is over.
Upon Vixaatus' back, Longinus bombarded ship after ship with the use of his spear, and with the combined efforts of the team, the ships remaining started to break formation, retreating south to the open Dalmiric Sea.
The others on the ground, however were to deal with the remaining ground forces that escaped the wrath of the team in the air - many of them were now disorientated or simply too frightened to look upwards, though they were manically attacking whoever was not wearing the colours of the Legion. Earath dealt with close attackers by swinging his greatsword at them, while Norrigan eagerly charged into the fray, his sword charged in lightning as he trampled several goblins to get to the stronger enemies. Accompanying the Legion forces were also the minions of the Vulcanus Horde, composed primarily of men-sized lava golems and large, black and red spiders.
- Goblin - Aaaak! Outlanders! Kill Outlanders!
- Norrigan - Enemy of Isiris! Eeek! Purge enemy of Isiris!
The two Lagosi warriors were positioned at the rear of the group, utilising their swordplay, and in Kanna's case the addition of magic, in order to swiftly finish any opposition that had evaded the rest of the group or any enemy soldiers that sought to incapacitate any Dalmiric ranged support, with Kanna igniting various men and goblins with ethereal fire and routing them back towards their allies and comrades in order to spread the flames amongst the escaping Legion forces. Riad easily wormed his way across the Legion's forces, finding himself enough distance to attack the taller and more potent individuals of the militia with his obsidian-craft spear. Pelagrios, on the other hand, climbed his way on to Ndrhthryr's back, aimlessly calling out on Legion warriors as Ndrhthryr himself flattened wave after wave with his enormous axe.
- Pelagrios - Get that one! And that one! And that one too!
- Ndrhthryr - Not helping, Pelagrios!
- Norrigan - Feel the magnificent retribution of Isiris, you infidels!
- Earath - This is manageable. But I've not seen a single Shiarchon yet.
- Kanna - And that's a bad thing?
- Earath - It means the battle is far from over.
To the east, about a hundred metres or so down the shoreline, multiple trolls, nearing or towering over five metres in height were terrorising a unit of Dalmiric warriors, and, whilst they were handling the situation, more and more were approaching. It was then that they noticed a strong wave fly overhead, toppling two trolls over whilst a few more fell to their knees. It was Esulus along with Taihdrae, seemingly caught up in the invasion without their knowledge. Esulus himself leapt onto one of the trolls, carving his way into its shoulder, whilst Taihadrae aggravated their ranks by firing projectiles of shadowy magic at their bodies, deterring them from attacking the Dalmiric forces or Esulus.
- Norrigan - Ah! It's our Orayu friend and our friend who I would normally purge but I made an exception! Hello!
- Hachi - ... Oh, the necromancer chick.
- Esulus - Aaah! Kill this thing already!
- Norrigan - But all I did was greet you!
- Earath - Not you, Norrigan.
- Norrigan - Oh. Okay!
Kanna turned a head towards the two companions and drew an arm back before throwing it forward, launching one of his katana towards the troll while its clean, sharp edge was engulfed in magical, burning flame. The elder Lagosi did not keep an eye on the trajectory as he swiftly turned back to his front to counter and defend against several rather enthusiastic goblins with the sub-zero, freezing temperature of his second sword. The troll let out a deathly cry as it fell to the ground, sending Esulus tumbling over as the Orayu was covered in layer upon layer of uprooted sand from the shore. He stood to his feet, noticing that the goblins were now fleeing.
- Esulus - What in the name of the Twelve Hells is going on?! I wake up and we have the Shiarchon invading!
- Hachi - Well, funnily enough, that's exactly what's going on.
- Earath - Yeah. And we kinda pissed them off severely.
- Taihadrae - Pissed them off? You just arrived.
- Norrigan - Hachi here killed their greatest champion in front of their Imperator. Which is complete nonsense. It should've been me there!
- Hachi - Yeah, trust me, you wouldn't be saying that if you were the one fighting him.
- Ndrhthryr - He would. He really would.
- Earath - Regardless, it's good to have a few more allies.
- Esulus - Likewise. I think I saw Mhor and Khaadun up in the Mountain City...I don't think it's been hit.
- Norrigan - The bear who is always talking about fish and the man who speaks funny? All of our friends are here!
- Taihadrae - Yeah. We're all from Talmyr. Including Ndrhthryr here.
- Kanna - We should probably send a warning there before the Shiarchon somehow manage to get past us and assault it. ... Messenger crow should work.
- Ndrhthryr - Crow's not gonna work. It's a three hour trek to the Mountain City from here.
The team did not notice that their surroundings went eerily silent. Whilst the Dalmiric forces were dispatching of the rest of the minor forces, they found that the ships that were not destroyed by Vixaatus and the rest were simply just there, clamouring against each other as the waves were disturbed by the Sea Witch's magic.
Among other things underwater.
- Sea Witch - Anyone else feel a terrible smell all the sudden? I'd blame Hachi but he's far away from us.
- Clothovera - How'd you mean, teacher?
- Sea Witch - It's like... blood in the water.
Longinus looked directly down at the water underneath them. Talmyr's seas were deep; but even the navy blue waters of Azhnatmukand's coasts were blackened out. In a particular shape.
- Longinus - There is something down there, underwater. We should let the rest of them know.
- Vixaatus - ... I know that shape. And that magnitude. The coast is in severe danger.
- Longinus - Move quick. We do not have much time.
Vixaatus turned back to the mainland and flew, using his force breath to let out loud shouts which could be heard in the distance.
- Vixaatus - The Blood Colossus is approaching!
- 'Pelagrios - The Blood what?
- Sea Witch - ... Oh nuts.
- Kanna - It's that time of the month?
At this moment, the seas behind them erupted as a tentacle, spanning almost three hundred feet in its girth and many thousands of feet in height toppled the waves in the air, instantly covering Vixaatus and the rest in a heaving mist, among the waves that threw themselves into the air. Some of the ships on the coast were also flung hundreds of feet into the mainland. Though none of it was as disturbing as the tremulous murmur of the Sanguapraegrandis itself, rocking the settlements across the coast to the point where some of the wooden buildings collapsed. The pair of witches screamed at the sight of the monster and quickly flew back to the shore with Vixaatus.
- Sea Witch - What the hell is that!?
- Pelagrios - I don't know but I don't need to use the toilet anymore.
Pelagrios stood there for a moment, before screaming and running up the path, as far away from the shoreline as he could.
- Earath - It's... It's too big! How are we expected to fight... THAT?!
- Kanna - We're not. ... Or at least, I hope we're not.
- Vixaatus - The Shiarchon have brought the Sanguapraegrandis with them. You glance upon the Colossus of Blood. They must really want to conquer this land.
- Hachi - We dealed with Leucocytus. ... W-We can deal with this oversized scab!
- Alhazred - I know a lot, and really, Hachi. Do you not see the size of that thing? Leucocytus had a more manageable size, at least. There is a big difference between fighting a demon and fighting a Colossus.
- Hachi - Exactly; it's huge! That means it's a massive target! And being a massive target means it has big vulnerabilities! Rip and tear-- Ahem, excuse me.
- Ndrhthryr - That's wishful thinking, Hachi. But right now I think Pelagrios has the right idea.
- Vixaatus - None of us hold the power to combat a Colossus. We must evacuate.
- Sea Witch - Follow that screaming pirate!
Hachi grumbled as he turned and dashed to the path that Pelagrios had taken some minutes prior, while Kanna made a gesture to hurry the Sea Witch and swiftly followed after the younger Lagosi, leaping and bouncing across the terrain. They found Pelagrios had passed out not too far up the pathway, perhaps out of sheer panic or fatigue, though he appeared almost comatose. Earath stopped and picked the pirate up, putting him over his shoulder as he followed the others as they ran away. The further the team ran from the shoreline, and further towards the mountainous centre of Azhnatmukand, the weather grew colder and colder. Strangely so for a Dalmiric autumn - they would have not expected such cold until the mid-winter.
It was then at the corner of their eye, they saw a white light appear from the west, from the direction where the harsh winds were blowing from. The height at which they were granted them a vista of the southern shoreline of the island, as well as the mesmerising and terrifyingly high reaches of the Sanguapraegrandis' tentacles, and the light from the west appeared to move slowly towards the coastline, bringing the cold weather with it.
- Earath - By the Cobra King, it's getting even colder. I might die right here.
- Sea Witch - ... Is that another one?! How many of these things do the Shiarchon have?!
- Kanna - One; it's that large.
- Alhazred - No. It's not an enemy.
- Hachi - What?
In a flash of cold light, a wave of blood from the Sanguapraegrandis' one tentacle showered over the coastline, narrowly missing the team in the hills, though it appeared that a shard of ice, hundreds of feet long, grazed its way into the flesh of the Colossus.
- Vixaatus - I am slightly out of touch with the north. Who is that entity?
- Alhazred - That is the Stargazer. Kartansimal, the Colossus of Ice.
- Longinus - I never thought I would say it, but praise Isiris for this encounter.
- Norrigan - Praise Isiris!
- Longinus - Agh. It feels like I almost committed apostasy there.
- Hachi - Whoa... That Colossus seems like a cool guy, eh?
- Riad - Honestly? You pick this time to call a Névari god a 'cool guy'?
- Alhazred - Kartansimal lives northeast from this place. I can only assume Kinmorunddraver warned him of this invasion like he warned us before. Nonetheless, now we watch a Colossus fighting another Colossus.
- Hachi - Watching something like this will definitely give me the chills.
- Sea Witch - One more word and I swear I'll rip your tail off. Or turn it into a snake. Whatever hurts more.
- Hachi - I am snow sorry for the things ice said, Sea Witch!
- Taihadrae - Seriously, kid. Dalmiric people eat rabbit stew as a staple food.
- Septimus - As much as I would like to see a fight between two gods, we must get to the Mountain City. It is under threat.
- Alhazred - Indeed. Kartansimal should be able to fend it off. We have more pressing matters.
After successfully stopping the Sea Witch from strangling Hachi, the team departed to the Mountain City, leaving the two Colossi to fight by themselves. They could feel the painfully sharp cold of the Ice Colossus' aggression against the Sanguapraegrandis, while the Blood Colossus suddenly emerged with a plethora of tentacles as it drove itself to attack Kartansimal repeatedly, the clouds and the very air around them were thrown about with the weight of the Colossus itself. The journey to the Mountain City was not of a lengthy duration - though approaching the island, they saw what was to be the true invasion force - the Shiarchon army themselves. They were marching towards the city, about thirty five miles east of the walls.
- Esulus - ...O-Oh gods. What is that?
- Sea Witch - Several thousand murderous elves.
- Earath - I can't feel my legs!
- Taihadrae - Someone please warm the Merovar before he dies of frostbite.
- Sea Witch - I heard Merovar disliked the cold but I didn't know they were such pansies.
- Ndrhthryr - I don't know about you lot, but I hear something. Hm. Might be my helmet.
- Vixaatus - Point me where to land.
Ndrhthryr turned his head to see where Vixaatus could land - upon the battlements of the fortress' enormous walls would have been the most viable option. Though upon turning, what he was hearing was suddenly clear, and he turned around to face behind him.
- Ndrhthryr - Agh! Dive! Dive dive dive dive dive!
Startled, Vixaatus begun diving, causing Earath and Clothovera both to scream. Pelagrios, passed out, woke up in the dive, though he did not think much of it until he saw what was behind him, screaming along with Earath and Clothovera. Hachi clasped onto the young dark witch as the dragon swiftly altered his trajectory downwards and even screamed in a higher, more girlish pitch than her, while Kanna clasped onto Vixaatus' scales for dear life and groaned due to the force of the wind.
- Kanna - Don't tell me what's behind us!
It was in due time; Vixaatus was now out of line and sight of the approaching presence behind him - that was to say, a massive force of Legion warriors astride Blood Drakes, numbering in the hundreds as they sped towards the city almost like a swarm of arrows.
- Sea Witch - By the Great Beasts, I can't tell what's going on anymore.
- Vixaatus - The Shiarchon are approaching not just by land and sea, but also by air. The treacherous dragons of blood are here just like their Colossus.
- Kanna - I'm not listening! La la lalala!
- Ndrhthryr - ...That's it. We can't do any more. The Kingdom's done for.
- Hachi - No, it's not! ... Vixaatus, can you not knock the Blood Drakes out of the sky?
- Vixaatus - There are too many of them, and the battle against the ships plus all this flying is exhausting me. The most we can do at this point is evacuate the leaders of the Kingdom.
- Hachi - B-But... We did too much here to give up now!
- Longinus - Constantius' forces number too great. The Dalmiric Kingdom never stood a chance.
- Alhazred - Considering everything he has thrown at it, Xacutus, the Colossus, this dragon horde, I fear for what is coming next. He has dedicated too much to this war.
- Hachi - ... Gods damn it!
- Septimus - Vixaatus is right. We must land at the palace grounds and find the Thirteen Kings and save their lives. The Kingdom may still have hope if they are alive.
- Sea Witch - Can't win all the time, but at least we can lose gracefully.
- Hachi - Alright, alright. ... That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. Hundreds of thousands are still going to die or be enslaved.
Vixaatus made his way to the palace grounds of the Mountain City and landed, allowing the team to get off his back. Despite being immortal, Vixaatus was still limited by his elderly stamina, and they could see the dragon huffing and panting as he rested.
- Septimus - Find yourself a place to distance yourself from, Vixaatus. We can return to Dar-Nahalant if we are in trouble.
- Vixaatus - Very well. Use the rings, and good luck.
Stretching his wings, Vixaatus's body crumbled into sand which was scattered by the wind.
- Pelagrios - ...Really freaks me out when he does that.
- Earath - S-s-s-same, b-b-but now l-let's find those k-kings before I d-d-d-die.
- Kanna - ... Urgh, don't tell anyone about this, lizard.
The older Lagosi brought his arms around the Merovar and nestled his fur against the lizard's exposed flesh, taking the opportunity to remove any thick furs and coat the Lagosi happened to have been wearing and placing them over Earath's shoulders for him to wrap himself in. Some moments later, the Lagosi allowed Earath to carry his blade, its sword faintly ignited with a hot, yet almost cozy flame.
- Clothovera - Awww. That's cute.
- Sea Witch - Hah! Gaaay!
- Kanna - Tell anyone and I will one; skin your boyfriend, and two; stop keeping you warm at night, hag.
- Sea Witch - ... S-shut up, you bag of fleas!
As they looked into the air, they saw the horde of Blood Drakes swoop around in the air, many of them directly aiming for the palace. The others flew at the walls, their superior armaments tearing the battlements apart, throwing many of the Dalmiric warriors hundreds of feet to their death. Almost immediately, the horns around the fortress blared, sending the Mountain City into anarchy.
- Septimus - Get inside the palace! Now!
- Clothovera - Any idea where these Thirteen Kings might be? Considering the situation, I'd guess they're currently trying to run away.
- Hachi - That or they're in a fortified position somewhere.
- Esulus - More than likely in a panic room of some sort. The Royal Chamber I think it's called.
- Sea Witch - Hurry it up, everyone.
Hurrying into the main gateway to the palace, ducking down so that a Blood Drake could not have caught them, the team passed through the large copper-laden doors to the Mountain City's fortress as it was being torn down by the Legion around them. Inside, the palace was, much like the rest of the town outside, chaotic. All sorts of individuals - palace workers, nobility, peasants who were wishing an audience, were running amok as the horns still blared throughout the fortress, and, true to Esulus' prediction, the bear and the man, that is, Mhor and Khaadun, were there as well.
- Sea Witch - There's mister fish and mister stupid accent.
- Lekren - You say it as if it is a problem.
- Sea Witch - Sorry. I'm antisocial.
- Hachi - Extra allies? I'm not complaining.
- Khaadun - Desert friends. You cause city alarm?
- Earath - That would be the giant Shiarchon legion marching their way here.
- Mhor - W-what? Shiarchon?
- Sea Witch - Yeah. They kinda sorta want to screw this place sideways by the looks of things. Any chance you've seen a king or thirteen?
- Khaadun - Thirteen Kings were in royal chamber. Horns went off. Doors closed. Here we are.
- Kanna - They need to get out of this place and evacuate. I doubt the Royal Chamber will keep out the Shiarchon when they inevitably breach the walls.
- Lekren - We can alert them.
- Sea Witch - But we didn't even get to them yet, you hat-wearing thing you. Don't get ahead of yourself.
Outside, even through the many-feet-thick walls of the Mountain City's palace, there was a weighty swoop of wind heard. The entire palace inside went silent, as they heard the earth-shaking growl of a Blood Drake perched right above them.
- Sea Witch - And there's the whole giant angry dragon problem. Going outside isn't a good idea.
- Khaadun - I don't think staying inside good idea either.
- Clothovera - What way to the royal chamber?
All of a sudden, the ceiling to the palace was blasted apart in a wave of red and black; the breath of the Blood Drake tore through the stone walls, crushing many of the civilians there and annihilating those that were directly caught in the breath. Upon it, was a Shiarchon of significant stature - though he was not wearing the sort of armour that Shiarchon normally wore. The Blood Drake looked directly at the team as did the Shiarchon, though he appeared uninterested in the team as the Drake then flew away.
- Sea Witch - What a jerk.
- Lekren - Did you just lament the fact of our miraculous survival?
- Sea Witch - I lamented the fact the guy existed at all.
- Septimus - I feel we should be on our guard. He looked like the leader.
- Clothovera - If their leader is here, then the Kings are in extra danger. We gotta go.
The door to the audience chamber was visible from where they were - behind that door was a vast room that held thirteen thrones in a semicircular pattern, and behind it laid the further innards of the palace that the Thirteen Kings themselves had took to escaping into. The door was barred shut from the inside of the audience chamber, and those that survived the attack of the Blood Drake were helplessly banging on the door to let them in. Norrigan begun a charge with his shield in hand, aiming to bash the door to open it. However, all he accomplished was beat his body against it and fall over.
- Norrigan - Why are you all staring rather than acting?
- Khaadun - We knew what was going to happen. You hit door and fall over.
- Norrigan - Every second wasted is a dead king. All of them have already died thrice just by not opening this door!
- Khaadun - Hm. Anyone have power to explode doors?
- Sea Witch - The Klaxxa might have. He's always full of weird drinks and what I think are bombs inside his hat.
- Khaadun - Right. What is Klaxxa?
- Lekren - Calumny and slander! I do not in fact have explosives of any kind inside of my hat! Only non-explosive chemicals. As in, not naturally inclined to explode.
- Sea Witch - This guy is a Klaxxa. You got anything to open the door?
- Lekren - There is something I could utilise- - Lekren looked at the golden balls on his belt, but then shook his head, almost like in disbelief - On the second thought, no! Not these chemicals, at least. I suspect though that I might have something more easily affordable elsewhere- aha!
Lekren took from his bag a couple of small vials connected to each other by copper chains and filled with thick, viscuous black liquid, upon which surface white lines treaded in intricate, almost calligraphic-like patterns. Smiling, the dragon alchemist rose and shook them, showing the vials to the rest of the party. The liquid hissed in the containers, its sound similar to some sort of sacred chant, as it reacted to the movement - almost as if it wanted itself to begin the reaction and explode.
- Lekren - Should this suffice?
- Sea Witch - As long as there's an opening in that door, yes, get on with it.
- Lekren - Step aside then. Witness the Termagant Monochrome Coagulation in action! Tally-ho!
With force that would seem unlikely for the small dragonling, Lekren threw the vials of explosives at the door, the quiet hissing of the liquid turning into a loud howl - almost like a scream. Immediately as the vials broke and the liquid hit the door, it exploded violently - though not violently enough to hit Lekren himself - leaving large puffs of black and white smoke coaelscing in the air. As that smoke slowly receded, the heroes could at last see the scene transpiring beyond the gates. Revealing the brightly lit audience chamber, it was apparent that the room was cleared out not moments before. Most of the possessions of those that were in the room, including that of the Thirteen Kings were left exactly where they dropped, and the doors on the other side of the room were locked shut.
- Lekren - I believe now that alkahest might be required.
- Sea Witch - Now that I think about it, this explosion probably scared them even more than they already are. Not that I care.
- Norrigan - Cursed doors in our way! Surely they all serve the Adversary!
- Pelagrios - ...Yes. Doors serve the Adversary...you know it isn't actually that crazy an idea.
- Earath - I get the feeling something is gonna jump on us at any moment. It's relatively too quiet in here.
Earath's fears were right. At this insant, the parabolic ceiling of the audience chamber was ripped from its walls, revealing the Shiarchon and the Blood Drake from before, though this time, accompanied by six others that were bringing down the palace to find where the Thirteen Kings were hidden. The leader, the one that attacked shortly beforehand, squared down the team, looking down upon them from his mount.
- Sea Witch - This guy really likes us, doesn't he?
- Earath - I just had to open my mouth.
- Norrigan - Fiends! I will purge you!
- Lekren - Now, where is it, where is it... - Lekren mumbled to himself, trying not to be noticed as he undid the leather straps that held the golden orbs on his belt and took them in his hand - Almost there, almost there.
The Shiarchon began to speak. Similarly to Valentinianus, this Shiarchon's voice was soft yet menacing in its tone, muffled slightly by the mask it wore - bearing the face of something Orichalcum Elf-like though made of a metal with an emerald green tint to its blackness. The most notable feature of the individual was his overtly bright crimson eyes, that would have possibly lit the room in the dark.
- ??? - So you are the individuals who orchestrated Valentinianus' death.
- Sea Witch - Oh, NOW he notices us.
- Hachi - The Praetor's defeat was not orchestrated. He was bested.
- ??? - Bested by a duel that was negotiated; therefore orchestrated by your terms. I do value your actions, however. Valentinianus was a thorn in my side.
- Norrigan - Identify yourself, vile elf-shaped abomination!
- ??? - In the Old Tongue, I am known as Arcturus. Praetor to the Adravaelic Empire.
- Hachi - I am guessing then, Arcturus, that Valentinianus' death means you get a promotion to being the Imperator's right-hand. ... Or left-hand. Whichever he prefers.
- Arcturus - You are not that well educated in the politics of the Empire, I see. There are eighty four of us Praetors. Eighty three now that Valentinianus' body lies in the plains of Basqan Ishgind.
- Sea Witch - I'm less interested in your politics and more in you things keeping to your hellhole.
- Arcturus - Unfortunately, the decree of the One Lord cannot be ignored. Talmyr is ripe for the taking. And we have taken it.
- Lekren - This goes here, this goes there, - Lekren toyed with his alkahest and what appeared to be a small crossbow, all while smiling, and largely disregarding the situation around him - I wonder why I never thought of that...
- Hachi - I suppose you are not here to discuss terms with us then if you have spoken to the Imperator recently. ... Boy, I imagine he is pissed about what happened to Valentinianus. Something he's not willing to let us slide with, I guess.
- Arcturus - Do you think the nihilistic laws of the One Lord allows vengeance for a fair death? Valentinianus' death came to pass. A new leader will be chosen.
- Norrigan - It will not be you, because I will destroy you! And your dragon! And your men! And THEIR dragons!
- Hachi - Hold up, Norrigan. ... If you are not here to take vengeance for the Imperator, then what are you here for, considering you have not killed us yet?
- Norrigan - He's here to take the Kings! But he can't! We saw them first!
- Arcturus - The spectral knight is correct. I am here to seize the Thirteen Kings. And if you attempt to hinder me in doing so...well. You are all capable of deductive thinking.
- Hachi - Shame. I think I've come to admire the Shiarchon for their manners, if anything at all. ... Pity that two Praetors will have to meet their end today.
- Sea Witch - I don't like this new cocky Hachi.
- Arcturus - And how many in return will die here today, do you think? Two Praetors will not compensate for the deaths of thousands.
- Lekren - This goes- splendid! A work of a brilliant mind - simple yet lethal. I am a genius! - Lekren turned to Arcturus, aiming a small wooden crossbow filled with small golden balls at him - Taste acid, rapscallion!
Lekren shot. Immediately the metallic orbs fired from the crossbow, previously gleaming and shining, began to quickly dim, then burnish, and finally decompose, revealing the glowing greenish liquid that lied within. Arcturus could only gasp slightly from underneath his mask before the acid flew on his face - and burst into emerald flames, so hot that even Shiarchon metal liquified in it. Arcturus let out an angered roar; the mask melting obscured his vision as he clumsily tore whatever burning metal he could from his face. Fire had no longer any painful effect on him - a Shiarchon's body was ravaged by a hellish fire that tore their bodies' flesh through age. Revealing the skull like face of Arcturus, most of his skin remaining on his face save for the lower jaw and his cheeks, he leaped from the Blood Drake's saddle, unsheathing his darkstone blade at his waist.
- Lekren - Now, we must escape! Posthaste
- Hachi - The Thirteen Kings first!
- Norrigan - The demon still stands! We kill him first!
- Arcturus - I was to give you the chance of living another day and to flee this land. Though now, I merely feel like killing all of you.
- Kanna - ... You idiot, scaleface!
- Hachi - Hmph, even if you were true to your word on letting us go, we are not prepared to leave Talmyr to its fate so easily. The Thirteen Kings are coming with us.
- ??? - ... aaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!
- Arcturus - What...is that noise --
Suddenly, out of one of the walls came Xacutus, erupting out of it and charging over to Arcturus. The pyromancer proceeded to bash the Shiarchon with his shoulder, knocking him away before turning to the team with murderous eyes. Arcturus was flung far across the hall, eventually somersaultng into a heap up against the wall forty feet to their right.
- Xacutus - This is now MY story!
- Kanna - ... I don't know whether our situation got better or worse.
- Lekren - Do we need more acid?
Wielding the Exacutus Vulcanus, Xacutus pointed it at the team as pillars of fire rose on the exit, making it impassable.
- Exacutus - Hey guys!
- Xacutus - Did you think you would go on with your thing without confronting ME again?... I remember some of you. IDIOTS who revived me before.
- Longinus - I believe I have missed an important detail.
- Xacutus - You ran from me once. But you won't run from me again!
- Earath - Are you here to take the Kings too?
- Xacutus - Hah! Don't be ridiculous! I am here to KILL the Kings! And everyone else for that matter! You included!
- Hachi - Should we run?
- Kanna - ... Yeah. Yeah, I think we should run.
- Xacutus - Try to run and you'll be burnt into ashes faster than I can chop you into pieces! Which I will just do now! EN GARDE!
- Khaadun - En garde. Odd. Wait what?
Laughing maniacally, Xacutus's body erupted in flames as he leaped at the team, swinging his axe in a frenzy. The Sea Witch and Clothovera backed away while Norrigan and Earath tried to confront the giant skeletal entity, though his blows were too strong for them to parry. Lekren, meanwhile, loaded bolts into his crossbow - bolts filled with cryomantic properties, exploited to react with contact with the air - and unleashed a barrage of ranged attacks against the devastatingly powerful pyromancer, watching in disappointment as his icy ammunition was rendered null by the sheer heat emanating from the mage's body. Kanna moved in front of the pair of witches, his swords drawn, while Hachi cowered beside Clothovera.
- Exacutus - Man, I missed you guys, it's been so long! C'mere, let me give you a hug! An axe hug!
- Xacutus - Nooo! Don't hug the enemy!
Norrigan tried to charge at Xacutus, only for the pyromancer to kick him across the head, sending the knight flying upwards. Laughing gleefully, he begun launching fireballs across the chamber, not entirely sure where they would land. Mhor rushed foward, wielding his warhammer in his hand. He was unsure whether its properties could level Xacutus to his feet, or even to his knees, though he swung it against the ground in hopes of causing the pyromancer to stumble. Despite his superior size, his lack of muscles meant Xacutus was not exactly resilient, and he stumbled in one leg, hopping in place in confusion. However, Mhor found himself attacked by his spear-tipped tail, which swung aggressively at him. Kanna dashed ahead as Xacutus occupied himself with the Ursine warrior, with the Lagosi withdrawing one of his blades and handling the other in two strong, firm hands - he had leapt and aimed to dismember the bladed head of the tail from the rest of the appendage's length with a powerful downward slash. Xacutus stopped hopping and his expression changed to dead serious as his tail fell off, wriggling on the floor.
- Xacutus - Oh, you JERK.
- Kanna - ... Oh, I don't get a prize for that?
- Hachi - Kanna! Get away from him!
Furious, Xacutus roared and sent the Exacutus down at Kanna, aiming to cut him in half vertically with it. The axe let out a powerful trail of flames as it was swung. While he had maneuvered to evade the oncoming slash, the Lagosi elder's face contorted into a wincing, agonized expressing as he felt the very edge of the axe cut through the flesh across his chest and stomach through to near his crotch - although no blood had spat forth due to the flames of the weapon having cauterized his injuries. Kanna even felt hot air come into contact with the skin on his face as his war-mask was sliced neatly in half, while his actual face was mere centimeters from being cut through; he fell to the floor some distance from the maddened pyromancer, clasping ahold of his searing, glowing wounds and attempting to hide his face.
Laughing, Xacutus tried to attack again, but before he had the chance, he felt Earath's force breath knocking him away, causing him to fall over as the Merovar put himself in front of Kanna. The Sea Witch bumped Clothovera with her arm to get her attention before casting her water magic at Xacutus's direction, hitting the creature across the torso and causing the loud hiss of evaporating water to be heard.
- Xacutus - Don't do that!
- Sea Witch - It's getting a bit too hot for my liking. What do you think, Clotho?
- Clothovera - I agree. He needs some time off!
Casting magic with the All-Knowing, Clothovera sent a large bolt of dark magic at the pyromancer as he was distracted. However, as he was hit, he did not react in any way as he regained his composure.
- Xacutus - FOOLISH! How do you think I'm still alive?
- Clothovera - ... Oh.
- Sea Witch - That ruined the moment. Someone do something!
- Hachi - Ngh, this really isn't my forte. ... Kanna, can you attack him with ice--
- Kanna - AAAAAAAH! ... AAAAAAH AAAAAH! AAAAAAAAAAH!
- Hachi - ... Crap.
- Xacutus - Ah! The sound of screaming and burning! I love my job!
Xacutus' tail hopped in place before jumping back into the pyromancer's body, fixing itself as he then turned his eyes to the team's pair of Orichalcum Elves.
- Xacutus - ... Elf boy? I thought you were, like, pale white?
- Longinus - Incorrect observation.
- Xacutus - Wait a second! You're actual Orichalcum Elves! I could recognize those pompous noses everywhere! So that's why the elf boy was so peeved last time! I don't remember the last time I killed one of you, so let's solve that now, SHALL WE?
Putting the Exacutus over his head, Xacutus cackled and leaped at Longinus and Septimus, aiming to do to them what he did to Kanna. Longinus' spear rose into his hands, as he aimed to drive Aurtalvaseius' Wrath into the skeletal fire demon's body once he was close enough.
- Xacutus - Oh! Nice fire poker!
- Exacutus - I got a bad feeling about this, boss.
- Xacutus - Nonsense! I will chop them like PIGS!
Likely out of ignorance of their powers, Xacutus continued his advance, showing no fear of the spear. As the spear flashed with sunlight, Longinus threw the spear with all of his might, hoping that it would tear Xacutus apart, or in his worst case scenario, throw him across the room. The spear broke through his armor and pierced through Xacutus's body, skewering him and forcing him to stop on his tracks as he begun screaming in agony, sun energy erupting from his eye sockets and mouth.
- Xacutus - AAAAARRGH! THIS IS TOO HOT!!
The pyromancer continued screaming as he tried to rip the spear out of him, unaware of the Sea Witch approaching him from behind with a sphere of water magic, which she proceeded to throw directly at his head. Now disoriented and in pain, Xacutus did not pay attention as he crashed into a window, screaming as he fell out of the fortress until he could no longer be heard. Longinus held his arm out as a trail of white light travelled down his bloodstream, the spear reforming back into his arm.
- Longinus - Veritably the best weapon against demons. The Coronaira Whip and water magic also applies to this particular situation.
- Earath - Yickes... I don't know what you guys did to piss that thing off, but he nearly brought this whole room down.
- Septimus - Is the Lago-- Kanna alright?
- Earath - I... I don't know. Kanna?
The Lagosi elder remained quiet behind Earath as he rose to his feet, stumbling and shaking unsteadily as a glowing wound of searing, burning magic that was illuminated in molten yellow could be seen extending from Kanna's lower lip and trailing down towards his abdomen, all the while the remnants of the Lagosi warrior's war-mask were shattered and collapsed upon the floor; his face was in clear view to the group, and they could all see the severely dry, frostbitten black flesh that consisted the upper half of his face - clear signs of what should have been fatal contact with Lympharians. The elder breathed between his teeth, seething in a concoction of anger and pain, yet he still walked without the necessity of aid, albeit somewhat slouched and clumsily.
- Sea Witch - ... So that's what it looks like? It looks just like my torso. Kind of. My torso is not a face. We can get that treated... the axe wound, that is.
- Kanna - I'll... be fine. ... Get to the damn kings already. ... If they don't come out... of their own accord... make them come out...
It did not appear that they could ever reach the Kings in time, however. More and more Blood Drakes swarmed upon the palace second by second; if they were to move further into the palace, the Shiarchon would have found them. Arcturus remained unconscious, dust-covered on the floor as his Blood Drake had flown off after he dismounted it.
- Alhazred - ... I would suggest not going further.
- Kanna - No... We can go on...
- Alhazred - We cannot. Whether Xacutus's attack was part of Kalarah's plan or not, he served as a distraction for too long. If we go further, the Blood Drakes will rend us apart alongside the Thirteen Kings.
- Kanna - I did not come here to... to be humiliated like this, Alhazred... We are not here... to fail like this... If we move fast, we... we can evade the Blood Drakes' notice...
- Alhazred - No. A true warrior, like my former companions of the Dawn Wardens have learned, knows when they are defeated. We must return to Dar-Nahalant. The Dalmiric Kingdom is lost.
- Kanna - Then... it was all for nothing! ... All of this was for naught... We may as well have not intervened at all.
- Longinus - All is not totally lost.
The Orichalcum Elf with his weapon in his right hand walked over to the unconscious body of the Praetor, cautiously edging its point up against the Shiarchon's chest.
- Longinus - The population of Basqan Ishgind should be able to flee to the east. Hopefully the...Dryadalic Sovereign...or...its name eludes me...should catch word that the Shiarchon have conquered the west. And...we have a Praetor here.
- Clothovera - Plus Xacutus is gone. No way you can survive a fall out of this place.
- Kanna - Wishful thinking, girl... Hundreds... No, thousands are now dead or enslaved... and the Shiarchon... their territory has increased perhaps twicefold now... And do not doubt Xacutus' will when... he has survived far longer than any of us.
- Alhazred - You plan to take the Praetor?... Hm, I see. He would be a good source of information.
- Septimus - If we could coax him to talk. Even in that brief conversation, Arcturus proved to be silvertongued.
- Hachi - ... We're going to waste resources keeping this scumbag alive?
- Alhazred - Not a waste. An opportunity. Having a prisoner will allow us to learn of our enemy in detail.
- Hachi - Or he is like Valentinianus... A filthy nihilist who would prefer dying over attempting to compromise the Imperator or his allies in the Legion.
- Septimus - Enough. We are taking Arcturus back to Dar-Nahalant. There are deep levels within the fortress suitable for prisoners. We keep him there. We keep him sustained.
- Norrigan - We... we lost?
Norrigan let go of his sword and shield and threw face-first himself into the floor, defeated. Hachi accompanied him, lashing an arm forward and launching his blade into the concrete tiles as he kicked dust and debris from the ground, while Kanna continued to seeth angrily between his teeth, his blackened face grimly contorting into a scowl. Ndrhthryr let out a lengthy and angered wail, slamming his axe into the ground, cracking the tiled floor as he stomped around.
- Norrigan - This is a sad day for Isiris...
- Sea Witch - Well, uh... Bah. This sucks. Let's just take the skeleton-faced freak and get out of here before everyone starts crying.
- Pelagrios - ...Well who wants to pick him up?
- Kanna - This is cowardice...
- Longinus - Cowardice? Living to fight another day is not cowardice.
- Kanna - ... You Orichalcum Elves only survived by hiding your existence from the world... Yeah, that does sound brave, doesn't it?
- Sea Witch - Gods, shut up before I start stomping on that wound of yours.
Longinus approached Kanna, ramming his weapon into the ground against him as he leaned in, his eyes sparking and glowing in visible and audible disgust.
- Longinus - And what do you know of hiding? My entire race was reduced to nothing but soulless husks, and five thousand years later, I wake up to find that I am one of the two who survived that fate. Hiding was the sane option. You barely understand the horrors the Adversary is capable of. I saw entire cities destroyed in the blink of an eye. Talmyr suffered only a fate that elves would lay upon cities. If this was the Void, we would have all died in seconds.
Kanna remained silent, taking heavy breaths as he stepped back from the Orichalcum Elf, his expressing moving from an angered and frustrated display to one that let Longinus know, without saying, that he was sorrowful for his outburst. Hachi glanced towards the scene, his arms folded with a head tilted in curiosity.
- Longinus - ...I apologise. I may appear stoic, though I do not want any other being in this world to end in the way my kind did.
- Kanna - No, no... I apologise... I spoke out of turn. ... I sincerely had not meant to offend, I... I just do not wish to see a world where are efforts are for naught and have to live carrying that burden.
- Clothovera - ... Times like these I can see why Nyakik never wants to come with us in adventures.
- Sea Witch - She's just a lazy bag of fleas. Anyway, let's get the creep to the fortress. We can't start interrogating without some preparations. I'm also so tired I could die.
- Alhazred - Worry not, you all. There will be a point where we will get the Shiarchon back. And considering what we are all capable of, I can see us one day delivering this same treatment to them.
- Sea Witch - Don't get too excited, book. We're not your old Dawn Warden crew.
- Alhazred - Or are you?
- Pelagrios - ...No?
- Hachi - ... Well, we already have a pretty witch on our side like the old Dawn Wardens did.
- Sea Witch - Okay, now I'm getting angry. Let's go before I knock everyone as unconscious as the Shiarchon dude.
- Mhor - You mind if us lot come as well? We...don't have a home to go to now.
- Pelagrios - Alright. Just don't drink my rum.
- Sea Witch - Place's big enough for everyone. It's big enough for a whole city, actually. Just don't ask who owns it, because I think Longinus and Vixaatus are rivals in that one.
- Longinus - Hmph. I appear to be the housemaid more often than not. Regardless; rings.
Using the rings and taking Arcturus with them, the team disappeared back to Dar-Nahalant, leaving the battered Mountain City behind.
Do Not Mix Friendship and Business Edit
Sunset befell Talmyr as smoke rose high into the sky. The Shiarchon militia entered the Mountain City, and claimed the fortress as quickly as they tore down the once-thought-impenetrable walls of the city itself. The Imperator, not wishing to waste his time in settling in Basqan Ishgind, decided to travel to Azhnatmukand as soon as he recieved word that the city was deserted from right under the Shiarchon's noses. It was not to matter however - Azhnatmukand was the true strategic capital of Talmyr - the Dalmiric men had staved off numerous invasions over the course of the millennia, though the Shiarchon proved to had finally broken down the Dalmiric Kingdom.
The Imperator entered the palace the same way the team did hours before - though now, much of it was razed to ruin as he walked through the halls with his head held up high. Many Shiarchon warriors around him were capturing civilians and imprisoning them - the Shiarchon intended to do this to every Dalmiric civilian possible, and then rationalise the terms of their loyalty or be crucified for insubordination to the Imperator's newfound rule. Not wishing to die horribly, many of them chose to live under the Shiarchon's rule. The Imperator himself wished to impose taxation to the crown as a form of loyalty, though he was uncertain on how effective it would be.
Reaching the audience chamber, the Imperator gazed around - the dome roof was half-destroyed by Arcturus' Blood Drake; now unaccounted for after Arcturus was now presumed killed in the battle. His brother, Julianus, was present in the fortress as well, continuing the search for the Thirteen Kings as the palace was still being searched through. Xacutus was at a corner of the room, holding into the wound left by Longinus' spear while holding the Exacutus Vulcanus in the other hand. The pyromancer's teeth barred in a combination of pain and anger as the team escaped him again. Kalarah turned to see Xacutus there, attempting to hide a malicious grin as he saw the pyromancer in pain.
- Kalarah - You arrived here before I did.
- Xacutus - And what of it?
- Kalarah - Hmph. You also seem to be damaged.
- Xacutus - Like you care. I seem to have underestimated those Orichalcum Elves. But it will NOT happen again.
- Kalarah - No. No it will not.
The Imperator's fists began to clench as his brow lowered, looking at Xacutus with an intentionally violent gaze. The pyromancer replying by frowning himself.
- Xacutus - And WHAT are you STARING at?
- Kalarah - The Dalmiric Kingdom is now mine. And where does that leave you in this?
- Xacutus - I am here to fulfill MY plan. KILL everyone, not conquer anything! This snowy land must burn!
- Kalarah - Rather opportune then. Your service is no longer needed.
- Xacutus - Likewise! DIE!
In a bolt of speed, Xacutus leaped at the Imperator and sent the Exacutus Vulcanus at his armored torso, and upon contact, the room was engulfed in flames as an explosion of fire was caused. Xacutus screamed and was flung backwards as the Exacutus Vulcanus shattered in thousands of tiny volcanic shards which were scattered across the chamber. As the debris and smoke settled, the Imperator remained standing, though doubled over as a charred wound was wide open in his left shoulder, his arm convulsing in what appeared to be a reaction to pain.
- Xacutus - ... MY AXE! MY SOUL HALF!
- Exacutus - Oooh, I did not expect this at all.
Levitating across the chamber was a ghostly shade, the second half of Xacutus's soul which had until now remained trapped inside the axe, and rolling around the floor was an Aether Emerald. The pyromancer put himself back up as he pointed at the Imperator.
- Xacutus - Look what you did! You ruined everything!
- Kalarah - Be glad I offer a hand of mercy. You and your Horde shall leave this land before I envision absolute and utter destruction on what remains of you.
- Xacutus - Grrr! This is not the last you've heard of Xacutus the Pyromancer! I'll be back and I will devour YOUR soul! If you even have one!
- Kalarah - Your time will come. As will the rest of this world.
The wandering soul half entered Xacutus's body as he then took the Emerald from the ground and threw it into his mouth, swallowing it before teleporting away, erupting in a blast of fire and leaving the tiles under him charred as he disappeared.