B3 — 56. A Caged Woman Freed

PoV:

1. Sari’aél (Our Daughter of the Sun!)

2. Elinor Irkalla (Ereshkigal, The Sumerian Goddess Of The Dead!)

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Sari’aél watched her mistress enter the gateway without hesitation, showing total confidence in her—it set a blaze within the Seraph’s breast.

Elinor had been a creature of ultimate power, yet descended to the realm of mortals to gain something she lacked, which Sari’aél connected with; to be confined—trapped in a cruel world—was liberating in ways she could have never guessed.

The original strength she could access had been but grains of sand in a galaxy, and the sensation it brought was so foreign she didn’t have a word, much less song, to express it, yet Kulitta had offered her an interesting comparison on their journey around Nethermore.

A chain was wrapped so tightly around her body that it felt like she couldn’t breathe in the light of her father, and she’d been cast into an ocean so dark—this tortured maelstrom of Existence placed a barrier between her and the glorious father she’d always known—only a speck of his brilliance could be seen in the eternal darkness that encompassed her.

It was chilling—frightening—yet there was someone to hold her hand and guide her through the unknown fog surrounding her; placing her life in the hands of another offered something nothing else in her ageless life had.

Kulitta may have been correct; she craved the shackle—not necessarily for weakness or pain—she craved to experience what hope was at its purest; she’d seen the glow in other creatures shine with a luster of such splendor it left her speechless once putting their faith in her father, and relinquishing control to his guidance—something she could never know, having been born in his radiance.

Floating through the spatial rift with Ninatta by her side, Sari’aél’s golden irises took in the stage that Sar’ollaz chose for this deadly contest; a few of the Covenant members were present—less than she’d expected—yet her expanding senses told her there were many more, unseen eyes observing them.

It was thrilling, knowing she was so vulnerable, but it wasn’t the danger itself; she was in a place untouched by her father, and her hope was in the Empress that held the chain around her throat.  She was Elinor’s maiden of war, and, as curious as she was to experience this razor’s edge walk between life and death, it was this hope that kept her steady.

Brightness embraced her as she became light, shooting into the black, clouded heavens that were bathed in perpetual darkness, Milthren taking her greatsword form in her left hand.

Ever since her mistress’ awakening to the truth within her core, Sari’aél had felt more grains of sand gathering into her palm; Elinor was growing at such an incredible pace that it strengthened the hope budding within her hearts, and she relished every second of it.

Six wings spreading out as she materialized a good distance away from her opponent, Sari’aél curved them forward—the golden back of her feathers were her shield—and the pointed branches of her four, fully developed appendages, her spears.

The inner glory she radiated—power her father had guided her through cultivation in the many trials she’d undergone with her older sisters—covered the sea of obsidian crystals below, dousing the haze above in golden rays to paint stars across the blanket of shadow, yet the corrupted miallu didn’t flinch at the radiance.

Crimson smoke hissed through Orinvia’s teeth as her black, sunken irises flashed the same shade as her runic, violet halo; there was a focus emanating from the mutant she hadn’t felt from her before and a stoicism that contrasted the fury after her lengthy meditation.

Sari’aél’s full lips creased upon analyzing the magical, psionic, and innumerable divergent spiritual waves the alien creature emanated.

Horrific screams from her entire race cried out for relief from their torture, compressed into a singular anomaly and used as fuel in the forbidden practice used to create the twisted being that was Orinvia.

A foreign entity had used Orinvia as its base, twisting her very essence with the woman’s own magic to become the spiritual center of her entire world’s fused civilization, creating this abomination.

“You seem to be different, Orinvia…  I see the parasitic spiritual worm within you has reared its head; you are no longer in control.”

Her thin, pale-white, twisted humanoid form darkened with the dense spirits inside being pressurized to feed the Outer Realm parasite’s evergrowing hunger upon desiring to feast upon Sari’aél’s immortal soul.

Orinvia’s voice had become slow and high-pitched.  “Unify with me, and you will be spared the pain of assimilation.”

“I see…  You are not who I was supposed to battle.”

All the Seraph felt was pity and sorrow as Elinor informed her of what she’d discovered while observing them—this was no longer the creature they’d promised to fight—not too long ago, Orinvia had another battle and suffered a loss, of sorts.

This had turned from a contest to a cleansing of sorts—a trial for her mistress to perform as a new Covenant member—and an opportunity to take the previous placeholder’s position within the hierarchy.

Orinvia’s purpose for joining the Covenant had ended in failure—she hadn’t been able to secure a solution to rid herself of the thing that made her.

Pain it is…”  Purple lightning sparked from the creature’s fingers to form a gravitational sphere, drawing in the clouds above and glass below as space warped, curving light near the globe.  “All will become one in me.”

Sari’aél held Milthren up to defend against the spatial warp and unsealed the first stage of her divinity—Divine Release – Stage 1/5—feeding her energy into the divine weapon, which amplified the power to create a cut in space that the new spiritual worm generated through Orinvia’s vessel.

Divine Release – Stage 1/5(Cooldown: 1 Week; Cost: ½ Strength for 24 Hours; Duration: 2 Minutes; Range: N/A) Active, Divine-Type, Level Link – Elinor, Grade Link – Elinor, Rank Link – Elinor; unseals a minute fraction of divine inheritance for a short period.

  • Chained – If any of the following stages of this ability are used, the previous stages will automatically be placed on cooldown, and if it was already on cooldown, its current cooldown time would be doubled—will not be doubled twice—1-week will become 2-weeks for Stage 1.

Sar’ollaz generated a shell around the floating platform, protecting her mistress and the other Covenant members as they observed the conflict.

This spiritual worm was far stronger than she’d expected to face since it had no reservations about using Orinvia until she was nothing but a spiritless corpse.

It was nearly impossible to win without utterly destroying the body, which her Empress needed, which meant she had to time this battle with precision—she would only get one blow to avenge Orinvia—this would be a defensive contest of stamina, which she was not favored to win, yet Elinor believed in her.

Sari’aél listened to Elinor explain Orinvia’s plight as the other Covenant members discussed the sad turn of events, but none of them had lifted a finger to prevent her death, and some of them could have—had not Les’ndrassa been so weakened, perhaps Orinvia would still be here to face Sari’aél, but her mistress had a new plan she set in motion.

The otherworldly wood that was bonded to her skin crept over what remained of Orinvia’s once beautiful skin, now twisted and showing fissures of violet, pulsing mystical force—a corrupted form of the energy her race was so adept at wielding—yet not in this way.

A million suns erupted inside Sari’aél as her sealed energies erupted from within her breast, combatting the gravitational draw; she activated Higher Solar Aura VII, Advanced Senses VI, and Higher Holy Presence VII.

The veil overhead parted in the rush of radiation that bathed the landscape in incandescent light, causing hidden fiends within to retreat as the obsidian glass began to melt.

“A pitiful show,” it coldly replied, brushing the nova aside like shaking the dust from a coat.  “Use more power—show me more.”

The offensive energies couldn’t be absorbed by the spiritual worm, causing it to emotionlessly cast the sphere of gravitational darkness at her; Milthren cleaved it in two—Spatial Rend VII—yet the instantaneous strike was met by a magical barrier.

Her slash bit into it, but it was absorbed, making the puppeted woman’s head tilt to the side with interest at the attack.  “Another…”

Dozens of gravity spheres ripped the molten glass field up, condensing them and manipulating space to redirect her next strikes; spatial forces weren’t going to be effective at this distance.

She swung to meet the hyper-compressed black spheres, but just before Milthren cleaved one in two, the spiritual parasite folded space in an instant; Orinvia’s long, clawed fingers closed around the globe to draw her to the right, her left hand reaching for Sari’aél’s throat, as a new sphere trapped her from the opposite side.

Her intense radiation and heat blew around the creature from its distorted space, protecting it with the cracking ebony stones circling its crown; it was attempting to swap hosts to make her its new vessel.

Light engulfed her as Sari’aél followed the curved space in a flash—Quicken VIII—carrying her to Orinvia’s side, yet, instead of attacking, Milthren converted to a radiant shield.  A solar bubble enclosed her, Milthren enhancing Higher Solar Shell VII to Greater Solar Shell V, reddening Sari’aél’s fair skin as her own solar defenses failed to defend against the explosion.

Orinvia’s charred wooden hand reached through, glowing purple cracks radiating lilac light from the overwhelming magical force saturating her physical body, protecting the spiritual worm from any damage.  

The hideous creature would use all of the souls Orinvia gathered to keep it dormant as a weight to force its way into Sari’aél if it managed to connect to her spirit.

Not even able to use her wings to bat it away, unable to escape with Quicken due to the gravitational curve the worm generated, locking all light and space into a cycle that collected around the singularity it formed, Sari’aél used its own gambit against it.

The spiritual creature couldn’t absorb her offensive energies yet had put itself in a position to draw all forces into itself to keep her from escaping; it must have known Elinor wished to resurrect Orinvia and used what knowledge the alien had gathered to identify they needed her body, which was why it had made this gamble.

Yet, it also didn’t want to die, which made this, as Elinor put it, a game of chicken.

Sari’aél’s entire body became a living effulgence as she tapped into all the power her Divinity Release had given her that she enhanced through Milthren, becoming a greatsword once again as she drove it forward.

Greater Solar Flare V fed into her divine weapon, spiritually charging it to deliver a focused ray less than a centimeter in diameter that passed the dispersing solar shell to melt through Orinvia’s focused magical defenses; at the same time, Orinvia’s claws reached for her folded wing.

Feathers spreading at the last moment, Sari’aél’s beam burrowed through the twisted miallu’s eye to reach her brain, the fusion point between magic and body for the humanoid alien—it had gambled and lost—emerald butterflies gathered around her enflamed corpse.

The hyper-focused laser left a jet of molten steam and lava in a line across the glassed landscape, showing a perfectly smooth blast zone of condensed diamond-like crystal in a fifty-kilometer radius, purifying the top a blinding white with a shadowy abyss within.

Power left Sari’aél after expending the strength Divine Release granted in a single burst, her wings drooped as the gravitational waves normalized, yet her diminishing senses recognized an alarming development; the spiritual worm had abandoned its vessel just before its defenses collapsed.

It was challenging to stay in the air with the remaining energy she had after the shackles of her divinity enclosed around her soul again, but she lifted Milthren nonetheless.  

Yet, she was surprised when Elinor’s voice from the platform stopped her from vaporizing the falling, three-inch spiritual worm as her Empress’ butterflies arrived in time to restore the twisted alien’s body to its perfected, original state.

“You needn’t concern yourself, Sari’aél; I have plans for it.”

Relief flooded Sari’aél’s tight chest as she smiled at her mistress, the platform they were on having moved to the ground to the place Orinvia was falling, engulfed in emerald flames; if she’d allowed herself to be touched once, the worm would have had enough strength to dig into her spirit and attack her Empress’ Nexus, yet she’d believed in her, even in this vulnerable state.

Risk…  Sari’aél thought, holding her hand against her breast as she felt her thumping hearts mirror the rush that flooded her veins.  I am weak—I want to be weak—yet I must have faith in my mistress’ judgment that my weakness will not harm her.

It was easy to have faith in her father—he was everywhere and always with her—yet to have that same faith in a stranger and to construct hope in a way that she had never built was something she held close to her hearts—this was what she desired.

* * *

Elinor listened carefully to Sylez’s boisterous examinations of the tragedy that was Orinvia; most of the Covenant had the means to cure the miallu of her ailment, yet her pride would stop that from happening except by her own hands.

The flashing fight above wouldn’t take more than thirty seconds, she was sure, and after discovering the woman they were supposed to fight had already died, it only made Elinor more interested in this new development.

She sent out her butterflies the moment the two engaged one another; Sari’aél was so bright, she resembled a supernova, while Orinvia sucked in all space with corrupting magic that ordinarily would have been even more deadly than the gravity itself, yet her Seraph was equipped to repel such forces.

Elinor could see why Bo-Ko wasn’t present—it also being an odd day—meaning Ogacu, the hyperactive owl creature’s darker half was in control; he naively saw the Covenant members as his friends and family, which meant he wouldn’t be in the best of moods to be in company.

Sar’ollaz held up a bloody gem in his armored fist, spreading his claws for it to hover in the air and generate a ruby field around them.  “Hehe.  I suppose this will end shortly…  I do hope your Daughter of the Sun survives, Goddess Irkalla.  I fear for what may happen to you if not.”

Typical devil, Elinor thought, keeping her gaze on the two figures in the sky as they descended; radiation and heat from her Seraph caused veins to illuminate on their shell.  He wants out of our deal but can’t help his curiosity.

“Will Sari’aél be alright, My Empress?”  Ninatta asked.  Her fists were held tightly against her breast as the songstress followed Sari’aél’s waves of fire, pulsing across the landscape from her presence and abilities.  “So many lives lost… hundreds of millions.”

Have faith, Elinor whispered, rising to her feet as Thor tracked every twitch the two made, making a prediction ten seconds after the two engaged one another.

“Sari’aél will be victorious.”

“Oh?”  Sylez hummed as Thor ignored the demon from his Existence.  “But will you get the prize, I wonder?  Ah…”

Elinor completed her instructions to the angel as the platform touched the molten glassed field, and her fingers slid over Masmu’s smooth, alabaster scales as the spiritual snake slithered out from between her bust to coil down her legs to the ground.

Leaning against the side of the throne the Covenant had prepared for her, Ke’Thra’Ma laughed and clapped both pairs of hands as he watched Orinvia’s trailing emerald fall from the sky.

“A brilliant fight, Empress!  I traveled across this very desert of glass and colossal night fiends…  I never dreamed I’d see the sun touch this wasteland of black daggers.  You must bring back a piece as a souvenir!”

“Hehe.  Not my style, Ke,” Elinor mused as the other Covenant members mumbled amongst themselves when Orinvia slowed to a stop just before touching the ground for Elinor to observe her new Transcendent Arcanist.

As her original form would have suggested, at one point, she had been humanoid, yet the miallu race of Orinvia’s timeline seemed to have followed a rather interesting path.  In her own Existence, Elinor had known of a people that called themselves by that name—humans that discovered a race naturally tied to magic.

All humans could tap into magic—most creatures could—but there was a difference between being naturally gifted and able to learn the craft.

As Sylez had explained, Orinvia’s people had been obsessed with magic, psionic, and spiritual powers—not the typical warrior branch Elinor knew—which led to them going through a magical ritual to fuse with the naturally gifted, non-intelligent delsin to create a new race—miallu.

Their thirst for knowledge eventually opened up a portal to the Spiritual Plane, where they were exposed to this deadly worm, who single-handedly destroyed this advanced magical fusion of human and delsin by using their gifts to fuse the entire race into one hive mind and body.

Orinvia was its first victim, and it was through subsequent soul fusions after that had utterly twisted her form, yet through Elinor’s abilities, she was returned to her perfected, uncorrupted state to hover in the air, wearing a blank look as she tried to remember who she was.

The woman was a genius behind the trauma that had scarred her soul, and Elinor gauged her strength to be sufficient enough to kill Edmon or perform feats as what her Seraph had just performed with the proper preparation in cultivating the needed magic—she was Transcendent—but like Tiffany, she did require some prep.

Skin, muscle, and organs being transparent to the degree of appearing as solid, light blue liquid—with the exception of her head—Orinvia’s black skeleton showed through, causing Thor to shift uncomfortably.

As if a crown, a metallic, bone-like jellyfish with four feelers, wearing the same see-through skin and muscle as the human body, weaved above the incandescent glass; its white, plate-like patterns around its front resembled a mouth, and the glowing blue orbs for eyes were bathed in a soft teal glow.

The ethereal woman almost seemed like a ghost or corpse by her pale, translucent skin, and her downcast, heavy blue eyes made her appear to have gone through many sleepless nights.

Within the jelly-like shell of the delsin was a bio-illuminant brain—much like Les’ndrassa—yet unseen within the protective structure; Orinvia only seemed to be wearing a helmet of the creature, yet in truth, her skull was fused with it.

This combination of a human base, merged with a delsin, created some kind of ethereal yet oddly disturbing beauty; Elinor smiled, her Royal Court would certainly be a sight to behold with the variety it contained.  Of course, a few more male additions wouldn’t hurt.

“How do you feel, Orinvia?”  Elinor asked, watching the woman lift her hands to study her flowing, light-blue—almost white—locks as if questioning if they existed.

“Is… that who I am?”  she whispered in a voice touched by water, her unique language being translated through the Nexus.  “I have so many holes in my memory… and that’s unusual.”

Elinor hummed as her Seraph reached them, hovering nearby while resting.  She assumed the original headpiece she’d worn in her twisted and fused state had been somewhat representative of this form as the spiritual worm traveled between worlds, collecting souls.

She motioned to the molten landscape of shimmering diamonds for a small creature to emerge from the bubbling liquid, causing the members of the Covenant to grin or chuckle; Masmu had returned with her prize.

Orinvia’s sullen blue eyes narrowed upon seeing the squirming and shrieking black worm in the spiritual snake’s jaws, fangs keeping it in place yet not injecting poison as her beautiful pet slithered across the platform to settle in her lap to present her prize.

“Good girl,” Elinor cooed, rubbing Masmu’s head in praise before accepting the squirming spiritual entity that had tried to escape; few things could notice or attack such a creature in this world, but it had expended all its power.

She held up to Orinvia as the tight-jawed woman’s skeletal hands tightened into a fist, her four tentacles twitching with rage.

“I do not know much… nor what I might have created that pains me to the point of forgetting its collapse—I know I lost something precious—yet cannot remember what it was… but the emotions… I do know that thing which ruined everything I’d built.”

“Do with it as you please…”  Elinor offered, allowing Masmu to slip back into the folds of her clothing.

A rush of fluid power illuminated Orinvia’s frame as magical gravity—far more skilled than when cast in her corrupted, unstable state—carried the crying creature into the air, yet just before she crushed it, Elinor offered a second option.

“Although… I do think you should consult with Tiffany before exacting your revenge; it does have intelligence, after all, and can feel pain.  Would not a quick death be too lenient on the thing that took everything from you?”

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Orinvia’s soft blue lips tightened with her tired eyes before a swirl of white light transported the spiritual worm into a pocket space.  Every Covenant member’s cryptic eyes were on the woman as she spread her arms and tentacles in a sort of curtsy with an elegant, slightly curved bow.

“I may not know much of who I am or where I come from… but I do know whom I serve; I am yours, and look forward to understanding my place within your court, Empress.”

Ninatta and Sari’aél were glowing at the action—it helped when they actually did—congratulating her on joining the Royal Court.

They mentioned Violet being their first stop to fit her with clothes, asking about her taste.  She seemed to take pride in her seethrough nature and bones as a sense of beauty, especially the unusual shape of her breast bone and bonded delsin that denoted royalty of sorts—or so she believed.

It was unusual for a spirit to be so lost upon being resurrected, but considering it had been her spirit that had suffered so much damage, it was understandable.

Elinor accepted it with a nod; she would piece together the fragments of her life over time and discover who she was, but for now, she didn’t need to be involved in the complicated web ahead—all things that required her presence had been accomplished—it was time to prepare for her journey.

“We’ve completed what we came here to do; Ninatta, take her back to Nethermore and at least get her some pants to wear.  I’m sure Ishtar will wish to spend time with her, as well.  You may join her and rest, Sari’aél.  Heh, perhaps spend some time with the children playing their games.”

“I would love that!”  the angel tiredly chimed.

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Ninatta nodded, using her voice to lightly pull the slightly surprised Royal Arcanist to her so she could guide the woman back through the portal, speaking to the Seraph and expressing her relief she wasn’t harmed.  “At once, Empress.”

“I… appreciate the support, Ms. Ninatta,” Orinvia returned, turning to take the songstress’ hand and bringing it to her forehead in some token gesture of gratitude.  “I am not so incapable as to be unable to fly.”

“Oh.  Hehe.  Okay, my apologies, Orinvia.”

“Take no offense; I wish to understand my place, which seems to be centered around the arcane and research…  Hmm.  Empress,” she whispered in that tired, overworked womanly way, presenting another bow.  “I take my leave, Empress…

Elinor remained seated, silently looking over the battlefield her Seraph had just scarred as the woman’s fellow Court Members tried to get to know their newest addition, guiding her back to Nethermore to introduce her to her new family.

Ke’Thra’Ma stood up to step onto the bubbling white glass, bending down to scoop up a glob of the purified black diamonds.

“You grow stronger by the day, Empress…  Hmm.  I understand you are going to make a journey to the east.  I cannot say I know what lies beyond that desert.”

“More mutated races, wartorn people, artifacts,” Sylez mused, waving a dismissive hand.  “Nothing of particular importance, but… isn’t it your people that you want to find?  Are you sure you want to uncover the truth of what happened to those that escaped?  Hehe.”

Elinor and the giant eight-limbed ape glared at the demon as Sar’ollaz chuckled; Arsheh had long since vanished, seeming to lose interest, and Baxter was going off on poetic tangents about the battle, creating a song Elinor didn’t let linger on her mind.

“I am, Ke…  I caution you to be careful,” she added, rising to her feet to glare at the pulsating abyss beneath the glassed sea; there was something living beneath this glass desert that appeared to be waking up, and the reason for that was the devil laughing beside them.  “Gods wage war on your planet, and I owe a lot to what you left for me to inherit.”

“He-he-he,” the giant ape pounded his chest and roared at the sky.  “Your warning only excites my blood!  If so, perhaps I have found a worthy foe to test my merit.  I will start my own journey tomorrow.”

He snorted at the looks the devil and demon gave him.  “I do not need your teleportation island.  Hah.  I had my own floating fortress in production, and I can build one again…  I follow my own path, but I will return to challenge every member of this Covenant… including you, Goddess.”

Elinor smirked as his giant foot struck the ground nearby, leaving molten footprints on his exit.  “I look forward to it, Ke…  However, I do owe you for willingly giving me your empire; if you do request my help, I won’t say no.”

The Ke halted just before entering the gateway, turning to show a monstrous grin.  “If I require your help…”  His gaze shifted to the boiling field of diamonds.  “Heh, this world might as well be doomed.  Hahaha!”

He exited, and Elinor nodded, recalling the fight the Ke had with Kon’Draga; he’d petered out in his spiritual progression because he had nothing to challenge him until Iris met the ape in combat, but now he had a new perspective, and she had no doubt the legendary Quen’Talrat would reach heights he’d never dreamed before his death.

“Don’t be a stranger,” Sar’ollaz mused, hands held behind his back as he observed the pulsating darkness below, pumping like a heart.

Elinor didn’t like being used as a puppet, and Thor’s narrowed eyes showed they’d triggered some scheme the devil had planned, but it showed how dangerous the Covenant’s overarching vision of the board was.

What did you have me create in flooding this area with Sari’aél’s light?

“Haaa.  Crafty devil,” she grumbled, turning to leave with Thor beside her.

Sylez chuckled before vanishing in roaring Hellfire.


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