Druvian Capital, City Hall.
Alan pushed through the crowd as thousands gathered within the capital’s largest building, not quite as tall as the castle but many times wider. The massive hall had no walls, an open-air building so that those who did not fit inside could stand outside and listen still.
Large pillars held up the ceiling, both made of marble and highly decorated with artful carvings.
But what mostly gained one’s attention was the stage at the centre, surrounded by royal guard as they also made a path through the crowd. The stage itself was five meters higher than the ground, several more in width and made of opaque crystals that formed the kingdom’s flag on every face of it. Other than the top where the colours swirled into chaos and the front where, made out of the same crystals, was a staircase of plain white.
This was because nobody wanted to step on the flag, even the King who now walked up those same steps. Then stopping at the top, Sol turned to face his people.
Seeing the distress in their gazes as they looked up to him.
Alan couldn’t blame them, the news was indeed dire. Listening in on the King’s words himself as he found his way through the crowd, looking for a distinct individual among them who he could clearly sense.
“Almost a month ago,” Sol began to speak, his voice being magically enhanced to reach beyond the crowd and into the streets themselves. “Orcs who came from Dumatra made land on our continent’s southern region, beyond the border and within the Lost World. Over the course of weeks, more and more came. The army and the adventurer’s guild has tried to make contact with the Horde but…All messengers, and scouts, were lost. My advisors believe they were killed, and I am left with no other explanation but to believe them.
The Orcin numbers keep rising, and have reached dangerous levels while their camp might as well be called a city.
Obviously, these Orcs have not come for peace, and they do wish for our lands. My generals expect clashes throughout the border to begin soon, but Fort Balgor is far from fully repaired. The healing of our lands has taken a great amount of time and resources as well, I will not lie to you, the border has gone undermanned. Our defences lack, our numbers even more so.
I wished that it would have never come to this, but we are left with no choice.
To protect our lands, to defend our homes and families from the Orcin threat that has reached us from a far land. The Army will begin conscription. Each family is required to draft at least one man or woman above the age of sixteen. They will be trained, they will be taught not just how to fight but how to survive the battlefield.” Sol solemnly explained, as the murmuring among the crowd rose.
“I understand how you might feel, times have been harsh on us all, and they will get worse. But I promise you I will do everything in my power to protect you. As will the guards, as will the army, as will the adventurers and mercenaries who stand with Druvia!” Sol then exclaimed, regaining the crowd’s attention. “These are our lands, this is our home. And if we wish to keep it, then we must fight. This is why I did not limit the amount to one per family, even if your sibling or son joins you are also welcome.”
As the King spoke, Alan froze in his steps.
Finding himself staring at her back.
Her form was different, but the cooling chill that filled him as their eyes met was unmistakable. Her eyes, bluer than any ocean he had ever seen. Her hair, more beautiful than the purest crystal. They reminded him of her true form.
As Alan gazed at Findri’s humanoid shape, he was reminded of the mighty Dragon he used to serve.
She gazed back, just as speechless as he was. As they both searched for the words to speak, but none came to either.
“Well, look who decided to show up.” Kai mused in annoyance as he stepped in between them, his cold eyes meeting Alan’s.
“Ah…Kai…” Alan managed to say with a choked voice, as he felt every drop of blood in his system freeze.
“Father.” Kai said with clear disdain in his tone, as other adventurers nearby gathered with their guildmaster.
“I’d heard she joined you…I was surprised. You wouldn’t believe what I just came back from.” Alan awkwardly said.
“Oh you mean the diplomatic disaster that is occurring on Sinroz? We’re well aware of the Destroyer’s current exploits, but as you can hear, we have other issues.” Kai’s assistant said snidely, a young human woman with long ginger hair and green eyes.
“Elena…Daughter in law…How’re my gran-kids?…” Alan asked, even more awkwardly than before. He looked younger than the both of them.
“Better when you’re not around.” Elena said, her voice seeming like a snarl to Alan as she stepped to him. “Really will you ever learn how to keep yourself? Look at your clothes! Unkept doesn’t have the legs to stand on for what you wear and how! Oh and don’t even get me started on that bird’s nest of a head of yours!” Elena began, as usual, pointing out every little thing with how Alan kept himself before then comparing it to her husband. The adventurer’s guildmaster, Kai.
And as usual, Alan zoned her voice out, ignoring her never-ending rant entirely as he met his son’s glare.
Eyes that never seemed to change, eyes that filled Alan with regret, as they gazed at him with nothing more or less…than hate. Eyes that reminded Alan, just how unwanted he was in this country he twice saved.
But as Alan pondered over leaving, a chuckle caught everyone’s attention. Cold and petite, Findri’s laugh matched her appearance perfectly. Noble, yet chilling to hear. “You never cease to amaze me, Alandru, by just how easily you manage to annoy your own people. Simply through being present, nonetheless.” She said, stepping through the adventurers to face him.
“My Chosen.” She spoke in draconic, “I’ve been expecting you.”
Alan nodded, “I would’ve come earlier, but that fool’s issues kept me busy.”
She smiled, as her gaze seemed to look elsewhere. “Then he hasn’t changed either…” Findri returned to speaking common.
“He has. If it wasn’t for the sense, and his tail, you probably wouldn’t recognize him.” Alan said, dreading her eyes, as he knew exactly of what she was feeling. As his own eyes were lost in time, as he found himself reminiscing about the past.
“I apologize if this bothers you,” Findri then said, gesturing at the guild around her. “Grim stopped conversing with me not too long ago. My powers are limited by my current form, there isn’t much I can do. I was lost, confused and alone. I had no one to turn to until they found me.” She explained, as her lips suddenly began to tremble.
As Findri, suddenly began to tear up.
Causing everyone else around her to feel awkward.
“She’s crying again…” Elena whispered to Kai as he looked away too, still unused to the strange Dragon.
“What do you expect me to do?…” Kai whispered back.
Alan sighed, as he approached her. “You haven’t changed one bit either.” He said, placing his right palm over her head and pulling her into his shoulder. (“Cold as a mountaintop on the outside, but warm and conflicted within.”) He thought to himself.
“I-I’m sorry…T-This human form is making it harder to-t-to remain calm!” Findri apologized as she dug her face into his shoulder, a waterfall gushing out of her eyes and drenching his shirt.
“I don’t think that’s the problem my Lady…” Alan mused, long having resigned himself on trying to fix this fault in her personality.
And at his words, she abruptly rose to meet his face with her own surprise. The proximity, and her human form not helping one bit, causing Alan’s face to rush crimson. “W-What?” He asked.
“My Lady…I never thought I’d hear those words from you again…” Findri said, tearing up further as her eyes sparkled with the tears. “I’m sorry Alandru…”
Alan shook his head, “I should be the one apologizing…I’ve been waiting to for so long…That night, I went against your wishes. I failed you, I couldn’t save him, not from himself.” He said, dread clear in his tone as he looked away. Unable to, unwilling to meet her eyes.
When Findri suddenly flicked her index finger onto his forehead, “I might be the one running like a river but it is you who is always blaming everything on yourself…” she said, regaining his attention as she pouted in annoyance. “I gave you too much for you to carry alone, the promise you made me…I shouldn’t have had to rely on you. I was foolish, so were all the rest of my people. Erikathyr was not your kind’s problem, it was ours and we failed to stop it before it was too late.”
She then smiled, a warm smile that broke all of Alan’s walls. “You did everything you could, Alandru, I will never hold that against you.” She said.
And it was Alan’s turn to flood with waterworks, as his eyes opened wide, as his tears gushed out uncontrollably.
The earth shook.
And the sky rumbled.
Freezing Alan’s emotions in place as a cold fear replaced them.
“W-What the hell was that?” exclaimed one adventurer in question as panic filled the crowd.
“Dylan calm the crowd down, Jennifer search the city.” Kai immediately began barking orders at his highest of rank, his adventurers nodding in brief response before rushing off to gather others.
But as he turned to meet the already confusing scene he had been gazing at before, his own eyes widened at the sight.
The sight of his own father, a man he thought to be fearless.
Alan’s eyes were void of hope, and filled with dread as they gazed into the sky. Seemingly caught breathless, as he stood frozen.
“Alandru, what is it? What was that feeling?” Findri asked in similar confusion.
Feeling Alan shaking in her grasp.
As his gaze fell back to them, his face almost as pale as her own. He glanced at the confusion of the rest, but Alan had nothing to be confused about.
No, only fear filled him.
As he knew exactly what that sound meant, as it had happened only once before. “That…That wasn’t no earthquake…that wasn’t just thunder…” he mumbled out, answering the obvious questions he heard the crowd around him speak. “That was reality itself shuddering, as something broke through the veil in between…” He explained in a grim tone.
“And what in the world does that mean?” Elena asked in confusion, taking a step back as Alan’s haunting eyes fell upon her.
“It means…” Alan said, before glancing at the crowd around them. “We cannot speak here…” He told them, shaking his head.
(“Alandru, what is happening?”) Findri asked through their bond, as Alan’s gaze dropped to meet hers.
(“One of…them…has arrived.”)
Sinbeni, Lahihr Desert Plains
Pyra burst through the falling debris, crashing through wood and iron as she tried to evade the Fae’s levitated projectiles, Umbra was using the caravan’s remains as ammunition to keep the faster Dark Elf at bay and at a distance.
Dark energy forming at the shadow’s fingertips, as he’d target a broken wall or crate, raising the object as the same energy engulfed it. The debris would rise, as if gravity had reversed, before suddenly flinging itself into Pyra’s path as she tried to approach Umbra.
Pyra was struggling as there was no end to the Dark Fae’s resource for ammunition, but he also wasn’t making much progress in killing her either, she was too quick to be hit with anything heavy enough that would actually injure her.
And as Umbra flung the remains of a ballista at Pyra, his attention suddenly moved over to a nearby dune, as Makaela stood over it with a bloodied blade.
Pyra’s gauntlet smashed through the flung siege weapon, ready to evade but then noticing the Fae’s distraction. Grinning as she followed Umbra’s gaze, before turning back to her task and lunging at it.
She planted her feet steadily into the ground, before suddenly sprinting forwards. The wind whistling as she ran past, the debris below her shattering as she passed over. Pyra ran as fast as she could, seeming like nothing more than a streak of light as she leapt off a mound of broken crates and up towards Umbra.
The mound exploded under her leap, gaining the Dark Fae’s attention.
As Umbra turned to find Pyra soaring towards him, lightning surging through her gauntlets as she lay mere feet away. “You should pay more attention during a fight, Tree Born.” Pyra hissed, whilst striking forth with her right fist.
“You’re not worth my full attention, Drakon.” Umbra spat back, raising his shadowy hands to meet Pyra’s fist.
As her bright light clashed with his warped darkness. The two magiks pushed into one another, twisting and turning into each other before suddenly and violently exploding.
Sending Pyra and Umbra flying apart.
Umbra opened his wings wide, slowing his descent into the ground. But Pyra tumbled over and through many kinds of debris before suddenly slamming into an iron board, groaning in annoyance and slight pain as she slid down to the ground yet remained standing.
“Hmph, is this everything you mortals have to offer? Desperate I would say,” Umbra scoffed, “You come at us with lesser numbers, and I’m about to make that lesser even less so!” He exclaimed, as his wings of shadow suddenly shook, sending out a shockwave of darkness that enveloped the entire battlefield.
Pyra glanced around as dark shadows began appearing out of nowhere, too many to count amongst the utter chaos that surrounded them. But enough to turn the tide against them, as the guards found pause to regroup and the Wyrms enough cover to chant.
“Lust might have fallen, but I won’t fail.” Umbra chuckled wickedly, as his violet eyes widened “You’re outnumbered, and outmatched. And once all the Dagen wake up, even more so. You lose this, Drakon.”
But Umbra faltered, as Pyra did what he did not expect.
Pyra laughed, “I hate overconfident men.” She mused before meeting the Fae’s eyes. “Isn’t that right, Ascal?” she asked loudly, their battle having moved close to his caravan.
As the Xilfir Captain stood on the ship’s railing, his large ethereal hourglass hovering behind him whilst dozens of guards moved in to cut off his escape. Yet Ascal’s grin only widened at her words, “Now sister, that sounds like you’re demeaning me! I have reason to be overconfident, unlike these spineless twerps!”
“Damnit Ascal, are you ready yet?” Zentha’s voice asked with annoyance as one of her serpents of smoke slither by.
Ascal chuckled, “I’ve been ready for a minute now, but I wanted to enjoy their frustration for just a minute longer!” he exclaimed in amusement.
Umbra grew confused as he glanced between Pyra and the large hourglass up top.
“Apologies for the wait, he’s got severe anxiety issues when it comes to crowds.” Pyra said as she popped her left shoulder.
“Anxiety!? More like attention whoring issues! Just activate the damn thing!” Zentha shouted, as her tendril of smoke hissed at Ascal.
“Fine, fine. Then it’s time to raise the curtains!” Ascal exclaimed, opening his arms wide, as his eyes and smile did so too. “Let the show…” He laughed, it quickly turning into a warped cackle as he bowed.
As the hourglass behind him turned upside down.
The blood that had gathered at the bottom, suddenly beginning to flood back into the other half.
As tendrils of dark green energy began forming out of the new bottom.
Ascal flicked his fingers, and the tendrils rushed into his hands, forming what seemed like a spectral musical instrument. A guitar which hung off Ascal’s neck, as he held it with his left hand. With its bottom end still growing a thick tendril of dark green energy, which like a cord it connected the object to the hourglass.
Into his right hand also flowed a single tendril, forming a guitar pick which he grabbed before putting it to the instrument’s strings. “Haha!” Ascal giggled maniacally, playing a few harsh notes before suddenly leaping off the railing, flipping backwards and then landing over his conjured hourglass.
“Let the show begin!” Ascal exclaimed, and he continued on with the notes, playing a harsh and heavy tune.
Filling the battlefield with panic.
As off each corpse, oozed out a spectral green energy, that shuddered to his notes.
And as he played, the corpses took in breathe.
Reanimated, with a dark greenish light in their eyes, only the guard and Wyrm corpses rose to their feet. But as they grasped their weapons, it was enough to turn the tide. As they screeched incomprehensibly, snarling and growling too. Their behaviour just as animalistic as their attacks, they rushed their former allies with that bestial fury.
More and more rose, for as far as Ascal’s instrument could reach, undead standing up and sending the enemy into disarray. Dead who walk, sending the guard and Sin Wyrms into chaos, as they lashed out.
“W-What is this…Necromancy?” Umbra mused in surprise, glancing about as the rebels and Dreadblades used the undead as fodder while they struck the gathering enemy quick and hard.
Devastating the guard’s forming lines.
“You’re not the only one who’s expanded their horizons on magic,” Makaela said as she appeared next to Pyra, “Necromancy is just another sub-school of the Dark Arts. Arts our people were awakened to use.”
“Hmph, an Art with a glaring flaw.” Umbra said, spreading his wings wide before suddenly soaring up towards Ascal.
Stopping immediately as a massive serpent of golden smoke rushed into his path, hissing all the while.
“You were saying?” Zentha hissed, her voice reverberating out of her summon.
Then evading back, as Pyra with her fist outstretched, flew past his previous position. Missing the attack, she fell back to the ground and landed with a hard crash.
“You’re not touching our little brother.” Pyra also hissed, her eyes cold and tone harsh as she glanced up at the Dark Fae, planting her feet into the ground and readying for another leap.
Umbra grumbled under his breathe, “This isn’t happening…” as he glanced about at the battle.
“Surrender, and your life may be spared!” Makaela exclaimed, her voice echoing throughout the convoy, followed by a terrifying roar as one of the dead Dagen also rose back to life. The bloodied undead goliath moving to stand behind her as its large tail bashed into another approaching Dagen, dislocating the other beast’s lower jaw with the attack.
Pushing the guards’ rising fear to its limit, as many began to drop their weapons and fall to their knees.
“Tsk, you won’t get far with this little rebellion of yours. You’ll never take Lahihr, much less Abu Katra.” Umbra said before warning snidely, “And if I were you, I’d be warier of home. We-”
When his voice was suddenly cut off, as the ground shook, as the air quaked.
As the sky rumbled, the sound of thunder reverberating across although not a single cloud was visible.
“M-Makaela…” Pyra whispered, as she pointed off into the distance, “Isn’t that…towards Seeri?” she asked.
As she pointed towards where the desert turned into yellowish hills.
And behind those hills, a pillar of darkness rose, far off into the distance but clear as day. A rush of dark energy rising up into the sky before dispersing into a wide circle of black clouds.
“Thea…” Makaela said quietly, while she gazed off at the rising darkness, her hands clenching into fists as her eyes widened. (“Focus on the task at hand!”) She then chided herself, returning to face Umbra…
The Fae was long gone, and so were his shadows.
Delirio The Black’s Liar
The Pit’s Bottom, Moments earlier.
Erik glided off the Black Dragon’s remains, stumbling on his landing as he came to stand before Thea, Nerick and Ivara. Who gazed at him with awe. Breathing heavily, Erik grinned as he met their gazes. “Where’s Shizuka and the youngling?” he asked, seeing neither as he glanced around.
“U-Oh, they’re…Where are they?” Nerick then asked, snapping out of his daze and stumbling on his words.
“H-Here!” Shizuka suddenly exclaimed from above, where she lay hovering down slowly. Dim red spiritual energy flowing out of her and surrounding the two others about her, an unconscious Sinbeni human and the green drake.
Her expression was pale and eyes wide with struggle as she did her best to slow their fall, letting go in relief once they reached the bottom. Her spiritual energy rushing back into her body as Shizuka feel to her knees. “Tha-That was a p-pain…” She managed to say, before collapsing onto her back, breathing heavily as she lay there.
Thea and Nerick, much to Ivara’s annoyance, rushed to check on her.
“Well done,” Thea said with a warm smile as she kneeled next to her, “I knew you had it in you.”
“Not bad at all.” Nerick added, whistling as he looked over at the massive drake.
“I’m not the amazing one here…” Shizuka said with a weak chuckle as she glanced at Erik who now approached the green drake.
Coming to stand before the green youngling’s snout, as runic formations still covered its body.
Erik placed his palm over the drake’s snout, “Ivyieth.” He said, her name flowing into his mind which he then spoke.
But the drake did not move, instead, the Sinbeni slave woman visible shuddered.
Erik grimaced, “She’s too far gone,” he said with disdain in his tone, “Most of her soul has already been transferred over to the other vessel, she won’t survive the transfer back…And if nothing is done, she won’t survive this at all.” He explained, studying the runes that still floated out of the rubble below and onto the drake’s body.
“I…Some of these runes I don’t…recognise.” Erik mused, in both surprise and annoyance. “The characters aren’t using base Elvin, not by a long shot. And they’re too…harsh, to be anything Fae. But I get the basics of the ritual, I can sever it.” He said before glancing over at them, “Shizuka I need you to grip what remains of her soul and pull it into the human vessel. Can you do that?” he asked.
“I can try…” Shizuka said weakly as she tried to rise, almost falling over as Thea caught her.
“Don’t push yourself…” Thea said as she helped her alongside Nerick, the both of them aiding Shizuka to walk over to the drake.
She held onto the creature, using its snout as support as she laid onto its scales. Through her touch, she felt the soul that still remained bound to the physical vessel before her. “I’ve…never saved anybody before.” She mused quietly, smiling at the thought.
“What did you say?” Erik asked, not fully understanding her as he gazed at the runes.
“N-Nothing,” Shizuka said, blushing in embarrassment at her own words. “I-I can feel it, so…I think I can grab onto it. But what then?”
“Focus and you should see what’s happening, your eyes are better suited for this than mine.” Erik said, gesturing at the Sinbeni woman nearby.
“R-Right, focus.” Shizuka repeated, turning to look at the unconscious slave. Narrowing her eyes, and emptying her mind of other thoughts.
She focused on her sight, willing her spirit to envelop her surroundings as thinly as possible, to cover as much space but with the least energy spent. And as she did, it began to become clear to her.
The dim green flame that existed in between the two bodies, an ethereal tendril of fire that slowly flowed from within the drake and into the human. Glancing at both, Shizuka also saw the flame outlining each of them, but…
The flame that covered the drake was pale and fading, while what covered the human was a raging green blaze.
“I see it.” She said, caressing the drake’s snout and feeling the soul flowing beneath her touch.
“When I tell you, grip it tightly and do not let go. I’m about to free her from the ritual, and there’s no telling in which direction it will move once I do. Souls are erratic like that.” Erik explained, turning to face the drake’s forehead and moving his palm to lay over a rune that strangely resembled a humanoid shape. “Ready?” he asked.
Shizuka nodded, “I’m ready.” She said with determination.
Erik closed his eyes, as lightning sparked at his fingertips, causing the runes around his palm to turn a pale gold. He began to speak, a language unrecognisable to anybody else.
Erik spoke in Fae, “Dissolve the promise, break the vow. Unchain this soul from unwarranted contract. I, Lightning, command you so.” He said, speaking quickly and in concise succession. As lightning suddenly surged out of his entire arm, engulfing Ivyieth’s head as all the runes across her body turned pale gold.
All but a few, which suddenly glowed a disturbing violet.
The runes Erik did not recognise.
“Now!” Erik exclaimed, and the runes which glowed gold suddenly shattered into thousands of sparks, showering them all in specks of light.
Shizuka gripped the pale flame right then, suddenly feeling it tug at her own soul, as she saw a pinkish flame envelop her.
As it slowly exited her, being pulled out with the green flame.
She struggled, barely able to keep her own soul inside.
“Pull!” Erik shouted, as he himself struggled, as miasma suddenly oozed out of the violet runes.
“I-I can’t! I can barely hold on!” Shizuka replied in panic.
“Damn…Hell script! I should’ve known!” Erik said, surging his lightning to envelop the drake’s body, doing his best to hold the miasma at bay.
“I’ve got no clue what the hell is going on, but if you need to move…” Nerick said, as he grabbed Shizuka by her arms, then effortlessly raised her off her feet.
“H-Huh?!” Shizuka panicked with embarrassment as she felt herself being swept off her feet, trying her best not to lose her grip on the pale soul even as she was surprised.
“Good call! Pull her over to the human!” Erik said through struggled groans of agony, as the miasma permeated his surroundings, tendrils of the demonic energy lashing out towards Shizuka and Nerick while his lightning restrained it.
Thea joined them, moving to shield Shizuka from the miasma with her body and grabbing her by the shoulders. Thea pushed, Nerick pulled, and Shizuka did her best to hold on.
As slowly, they approached the human body that lay only feet away.
As Shizuka watched the pale flame being pulled out of the green drake, brighter tendrils of it joining the piece she held onto, tendrils that took to the body behind them. Until, they finally detached the soul from the green drake’s body.
And the piece she held onto, suddenly flared a bright emerald.
Shizuka had no choice but to let go, as the soul pulled far too strongly this time. She let go, causing all three of the to stumble and fall over, as the soul rushed into the woman’s body.
Seeing the miasma dissipate, Erik too fell back, sighing in relief as he sat down.
Thea groaned as she rose, “W-What happened?” she asked, glancing over at Shizuka to her left…Who lay sprawled out on Nerick as he held her, her face a deep crimson as she trembled with embarrassment.
Thea noticing as she looked lower, that Nerick was holding her from one arm, but his left hand had moved a bit further around…laying on Shizuka’s left breast.
Realising what he was holding onto, and Ivara’s annoyed bite snapping him out of his daze, Nerick immediately let go and opened his arms wide. “S-Sorr-”
But his apology was cut short, not only as Ivara move from biting his ear to biting his nose, but as Shizuka stood up…Stepping over his crotch as she did, causing Nerick to yelp in pain and his entire expression to turn ghostly pale.
Thea awkwardly watched as Shizuka stood up all too straight, glancing back at Nerick with wide harrowing eyes, a tear slowly streaking down her right eye. Before looking away, then kneeling down, hugging herself as she mumbled under her breath.
Thea moved in to comfort her, “It was an accident…come on.” Telling her that.
As she kept hearing Shizuka mumble, “I’m ruined…” over and over to herself.
Erik ignored all this as he stood up, not comprehending what had just occurred. But then seeing that the demonic runes were still active over Ivyieth’s draconic body, “It’s not over yet…” he told them, as he stepped back and away.
As the runes flared alight once more, shining twice as bright as before.
Miasma rushed out of them, engulfing the empty drake’s vessel in a violet fog which then grew dozens of tendrils. The tendrils stabbed into the rubble beneath, the miasma flowing down into the earth in mass amounts. As one tendril, slithered over to Delirio’s husk.
Once reaching the Black Dragon’s body, the tendril entangled itself around it, forming smaller tendrils and engulfing it like a net before starting to pull it towards the main cloud.
“W-What’s happening?” Nerick asked with wide eyes and a strange voice, as Ivara was still biting his nose.
“I don’t…I don’t know.” Erik responded with just as much confusion, he had broken the ritual so why…Why was it still active?
He could only watch, unsure, unwilling to do anything for fear of making things worse.
They all watched, as the tendrils pulled dozens of monstrous corpses out of the ground.
Ramzi’s…Delirio’s collection of monsters, killed in the battle and downfall of each island. Their remains…alongside the Dragon’s, they were all pulled into the purple cloud.
No matter the size, even if they were twice as big as the cloud. They would sink and disappear into it, as if being taken into a different dimension within the fog.
Eerily quick, until the last, each tendril re-joined the main mass of miasma.
And the cloud suddenly shuddered.
Sensing the expansion of energy, Erik raised his hands ahead as he stood in between it and the rest. “Draconic School; Drako; Scale Barrier!” He quickly chanted, summoning a barrier of raging lightning all around them.
As the cloud of purple miasma, turned just as bright as the tendrils were.
Before the entire cloud exploded, expanding suddenly as black energy rushed out with. The darkness engulfed everything, filling the Lair and colliding with the barrier that kept the ocean out. Finding nowhere else to go, the darkness rose upward, crackling with violet energy as it ascended.
Erik struggled to retain his barrier, as the energy of Hell itself clashed with his.
Having to squint, to barely make out the violet rift in reality that lay glowing, where the cloud once was.
Barely able to see a creature step out of it…
Humanoid in shape, but nothing alike to human.
The ceature had pale grey skin, and bright violet eyes, burning with a corrupted flame. But that was all Erik could make out as they met his gaze, the darkness between them suddenly fading, yet it still continued to rush out of the rift and upwards.
And as the darkness cleared from ahead of him, Erik could now make out the being better.
Cracked and pale grey skin, wide and curious violet eyes.
Long pale green hair, reaching the being’s waste.
Obviously male, from the seems of their bare-naked body. No horns, no tail…But very much a Devil.
A Devil who spread his mismatched wings wide, a dark purple leathery wing on his left, and a pitch black feathered wing on his right. Half a Fallen Angel, Erik noted, and Half Demonic.
The Devil chuckled, smiling widely as he met Erik’s hateful gaze.
“Ah…Erikathyr! I knew you’d choose to kil-…help?…No no…save! The youngling! But it seems, you did not weigh the cost of saving her…” It spoke, their vile voice almost giggling with excitement, as their long emerald tongue lay dangling out of their just as green lips.
Erik was about to release his barrier and lunge at the hellspawn, but a rush of darkness from the rift made him warier, forcing him to stay on the defensive.
The Devil chuckled once again, their expression and tone brimming with hysteria as they did. “Ahaha! You already wish to hug…fight? Fight! Tired as you are? Apologies, mighty Dragon. For I am too ready…No no…tired? Weary from my trip myself! Oh, but worry not my dearest, we shall meet never aga-…soon enough! We shall meet again soon enough!” It exclaimed with arms wide open, as it began to flap its wings.
Rising off the ground, “Ah, when…what? Where! ARE my manners!?” it then chuckled, pausing its rise.
Then bowing, barely a bow and more closely akin to a head-bang, as he lowered and then rose back up all too quickly. Waving their messy hair about as they did.
“I am Brazath! Third…Second? First?…Oh no four-Third! Third son of the great…fool-mighty! Great Hell King Xokith! A pleasure…” Brazath said, shuddering as he licked his lips, “To make your acquittance!” then breaking out into a horridly maniacal laugh. “But for now, I must bid you adieu! Wyv-…Rat? Demon?…Dra-…Dragon! Haha!”
Brazath continued to laugh, his words barely making any sense to Erik as he continuously changed his tone and seemingly spoke in question instead of stating clearly. As if, unsure himself what he was trying to say.
The Devil opened his arms wide, as he continued his rise. “To when we meet again, and thank you…But for now, farewell!” Brazath exclaimed, beating his mismatched wings before suddenly exploding with movement. Rushing into the nearest wall of water, pausing briefly as he seemingly hurt himself, and then realising he was drowning…
But even then, he seemingly shuddered with pleasure, before batting his wings once more and rushing off at the same insane speed. Soaring through the deep water, and out of sight.
Erik watched as the rift closed on itself, the darkness which rushed out of it dissipating into the air…
As the barrier around the Lair, collapsed all around them.
Erik dropped his own, and briefly watched in annoyance as the crater of air shrunk around them. As the ocean closed in on them. “Gather around me!” He told the rest, opening his arms wide as he focused.
Barely noticing as Thea and Shizuka came to stand next to him, while Nerick heaved up the human slave’s body with little help from the frantic Ivara.
Erik focused, “How did you get here?” He asked, as lightning struck out of his fingertips and into the rubble below. “How did you make it to this place?” He asked once again, after receiving a confused mumble as an answer.
All the while the water was very quickly closing in on them.
“T-The ship! The Orca, we took the Orca!” Thea exclaimed in a panic.
Erik nodded, as he went through each spell in his mind that could be of use.
Then deciding on one, he began to chant.
“Rise out of your constraints. Attracted to my presence, follow my voice and reach your true destination! The weight is meaningless as the very earth moves out of your way. Gravity, inexistent as you rise! So come forth! Draconic Summoning; Drako; Same Plane Summon!” Erik quickly chanted, as the water reached them.
As the ground beneath them, suddenly rose, the rubble exploding outwards and meeting the rushing waters.
And out of that rubble, the previously sunken and buried North Orca rose out with great speed.
Ascending upwards and taking some rubble, and them with, as it rose.
Rising so quickly that each of them was forced to lay down on the ship’s floor, their faces pushing into the metal from the sheer force of movement the ship had gained.
Nerick and Shizuka screamed at the top of their lungs from fright, Thea having to hold onto the unconscious Ivyieth’s new vessel as they did.
And the ship continued to rise, as the Lair collapsed all around it. Soaring up and out as the ocean closed up entirely, the Orca flew several dozen meters higher even after reaching the surface.
Slowly levelling out, their screams lessening as it did…
And then it began to fall, their screams increasing in volume as it did.
And having nothing to grab onto, Nerick and Shizuka were left to grasp about in panic, waving their hands and legs about as they fell behind the ship.
Until, Erik who had spread his wings and took flight, grabbed one of them. Holding Thea in the other hand.
One of them, Erik had grabbed Nerick as he and Shizuka unknowingly held onto each other in terror.
Slowly Erik began to glide down, watching as the ship roughly crashed back into the water, but thankfully remained whole.
“G-Ge-Get your paws off me!” Shizuka exclaimed as she realised who she was holding onto, her fur standing on end as she pushed against Nerick’s face.
“Yu-You wi-will fall!” Nerick tried to say, as she deformed his face from pushing her hands into it.
“I d-don’t care! Let me go you beast!” Shizuka continued to shout, frantically pushing away from him as her expression increasingly reddened.
Nerick though just held on, rolling his eyes as he suffered through her struggling.
Until finally, they approached the ship’s deck.
And…Erik let go of the both them, in spite, of all their moving about. Letting them slam onto the ground, although it was mostly Nerick’s back as he groaned in pain, since he had continued to hold onto Shizuka and they had somehow switched places.
Him ending up on the bottom and taking the fall for the both of them.
“Gah, what the hell was that for?” Nerick asked as he blinked the tears out of his eyes, he had dropped from several meters and albeit his body being highly resistant to damage, it still hurt.
Opening his eyes though, he was met with a tomato-faced Shizuka, as she trembled with fury.
Then realising, which part of her back his right hand was holding onto…
Before even having any time to react, Shizuka pushed away from him, slapping him across the face as she stood up. “Animal.” She growled down at him, her eyes wide with anger.
“You’re very welcome,” Nerick said with clear annoyance as he sat up, rubbing his right cheek as it lay mildly reddened.
Erik landed then, gently dropping Thea as she held onto Ivyieth. Who she then laid down, before collapsing to the ground herself.
Thea ignored their bickering, as she took a deep breath. Gazing up at the starry night above, she pushed away the dread of what had just occurred and let the relief wash over her.
“We’re alive…” She mused.
“Well this one won’t be for long…” Shizuka warned as she glared at Nerick dangerously, but backing away from him as he stood up, her ears rearing back over her head as she hissed.
“That we are…” Erik said, ignoring the two as well, as he came to kneel before Ivyieth’s still unconscious body. “We survived…I…I have my wings…And Brazath is here, in this realm…”
“All in all? Not too bad, s*** we’re alive aren’t we?” Nerick offered with a weak chuckle.
“Yeah…” Thea said quietly, continuing to gaze up at the stars.
Before suddenly, starting out as a stifled chuckle, she began to laugh.
With her, Nerick laughed as well, although feeling sick as he covered his own mouth for fear of vomiting.
Shizuka too, fell back to her knees, hugging herself as she chuckled. Tears streaming down her face as she did.
The three of them, minutes earlier and for the briefest of moments…Before Delirio, before a Black Dragon and his Lair…And as Hell opened up before them, releasing a Devil to this world…Each of them had given up on survival.
But now, the sheer relief that filled them, was enough to induce hysteria.
As they laughed, and cried.
“Indeed…” Erik mused, smiling to himself as he sat down on the ground. Both worried, and relieved.
While he also looked up to stare at the stars, a sky he thought he’d never see again.