The horns blew loudly, the sound of the alarm echoing throughout the re-enforced mining city.
Signalling the danger, that need not be announced.
A danger that needed no warning, as all could see the night black castle flying over them, held up by a snarling beast of storm.
Citizens ran, pushing and trampling over one another as panic reigned over Lahihr.
“The end of time…” A drunkard whispered to himself as he stood alone at a tavern’s doorway, staring up at the looming monstrosity that flew over the very city’s walls, as the horns, the shouting and screaming, became a background to the sound of rumbling thunder it…that the Dark Citadel gave off.
Terror filling him, as it filled all.
A terror that was only heightened at the sight of them.
Pieces of the black storm that carried the island began to tear off, small black clouds dividing from the main mass to then hover down to the ground. Hundreds of them rained down into the streets, and upon those clouds, they stood.
A full set of armour, pure white in colour and shimmering with the moonlight.
They were Dreadblade Knights, marching out into the streets in platoons, slowly forming together into a singular armada. But the invaders did not end there, not by a long shot.
As the clouds who dropped them off, rose back up to rejoin the storm that now shadowed over the entire city. Whilst more pieces broke off from it, lowering the now armed rebels who numbered many hundreds more than the Dreadblades.
The streets swarmed with escaping citizens, as the invaders suddenly gathered within their walls, and the guards were given little time to react.
Forced to abandon their posts at the wall and barracks, the Sinbeni defenders had little time to set up blockades and co-ordinated platoons to counter the sudden invasion.
And without even a single fight breaking out, without a single drop of blood being shed.
Erik’s army had taken over one-third of the city.
But he was far from done.
As he stood upon Voltru’s snout, staring down at the city below from the storm’s terrifying head.
“It begins,” Erik said to those who stood with him.
“Why not just storm the castle?” Nerick asked as he and Ivara took a peek over the cloud’s edge.
“Because it is too reinforced to focus everything upon it right off, and I’m withholding my power for when either the Spirit Beast or the Pact show up. Unless you’d like to take on every single Sin Wyrm that guards it yourself?” Erik explained.
“That sounds dangerous, don’t.” Kayle nudged Nerick who seemed about to accept that challenge.
Ivara though, whined in displeasure.
It sounded tasty to her.
“So what’s the entire plan then?” Thea asked as she kneeled by the edge, staring down in anticipation.
At that moment, Makaela appeared in a burst of shadows behind them. “We’ve taken most of the residential district over as ordered, my Knights guard the streets by the wall while the rebels have been posted throughout the rest in between.” She reported in elven whilst walking to stand between Erik and Thea, sneaking her hand around Erik’s arm to then lean forward, looking over the edge and down at the city herself.
Causing him no little amount of distraction.
“We’ve taken the first move, forcing the citizens out of the residential districts which we’ve taken over, the trade district nearby and some of the warehouse workers on the other side. Doing so we’ve pushed many non-combatants into the military’s or noble’s care, this will put stress on them both and also make them focus on a more defensive approach. Even if only temporarily.” Erik explained.
“Playing mind games already Elder Brother?” Ivyieth asked in draconic as she pushed her way through Makaela to sit next to Erik. “What now? Slowly push through the streets and whittle away at the enemy forces I’d guess.”
“That would be the most obvious plan of attack from here on, since the Sinbens haven’t had the time to settle defences on the streets beyond those of our control. We have caught them off guard but…” Erik chuckled, “Why waste the lives of our common foot soldiers so soon? They are to be the future citizens of this empire after all.”
“Then…what? We stand our ground and wait?” Nerick asked.
“Far from it…” Erik chuckled again, then turning to Makaela. “Send them in.”
“Stack them! Quickly!” The guard officer shouted as dozens of armoured men and women ran back and forth from the barracks down the street, some carrying spike-walls in groups while the rest heaved barrels and crates they found. Building a make-shift wall, a barricade along the main road.
And as they did, coming from down the street and running towards the opposite direction, were even more citizens. Panicked and afraid, men, women and children ran past the busy guards.
“Make way! Hurry and move out of the way!” Several guards said as they directed the agitated mass of people coming their way, slowing their work.
“Sargent,” Spoke out one guard to his commanding officer as they arrived with the stampede of citizens.
The Sargent sized the boy up, (“A Scout? Oh please be a messenger from the palace!”) he thought, seeing the guard’s tired demeanour from running. “Report son.”
The guard stood at attention as best as he could, shivering with every roar of thunder from above. “M-Message from the commander sir, you’re to hold this post and send out scouts to the front! I-I’ll report back what they find!” The guard said through shaky breaths.
“Gah…I’m already low on manpower here!” The Sargent grumbled, “Fine, go.” He then said, gesturing down the street as it slowly cleared up from non-combatants.
“G-Go?” The messenger repeated in question.
“You’re here, you’re going to report back to the commander no? Then go scout yourself boy!” The Sargent exclaimed, “Take three with you, but that’s all I can give away!” He then told the messenger now scout, after seeing his pleading expression…
But all seemed to pause for a moment, as rain began to suddenly fall from the sky.
“Oh just f****** perfect,” One guard swore in annoyance as she helped set down another line of spiked walls.
“None of that soldier, keep it up come on! Some rain ain’t gonna do you no harm but those bloodthirsty bastards out there sure will!” The Sargent shouted out, and the guards continued their chain of supply.
But again…everything suddenly stopped.
As something else seemed to accompany the overbearing roar of thunder from above…
A rhythmic thumping…like footsteps, they got closer with each step.
The guards stopped what they were doing and followed the sound with their eyes…Each looked down the street, now empty of civilians it lay in shadows and covered by the rain.
“What is that sound?” The messenger asked as he also stared down the street.
“Whatever it is…” The Sargent mused as he glanced at a puddle nearby, the water rippling with each beat. “It’s big.” He said, “Mages at the ready! Everybody else grab a crossbow!” Then shouting out in command.
The well-trained guards obeyed.
Crossbowmen formed behind the make-shift barricades, over three dozen of them. While those who had nowhere to stand took up a spear and stood behind them on the ground, totalling over a few hundred.
And behind them, were the few mages at their disposal, barely a dozen themselves.
The Sargent grimaced at his command, they were the furthest from the palace so their numbers were lacking in comparison to the rest of the blockades. So to him, it only made sense that the rebels would attack here…
“But how did they confirm our numbers so quickly?” He pondered, only then realized a great mistake in his judgement…
As the sound of footsteps, and even the roaring of thunder…were overtaken by the crashes of magic and the harrowing sound of dying screams. The sounds came from all over their right, “The other blockades…They’re under attack and not us?” He mused out loud, even sighing in relief.
(“Did the enemy forgo scouting and simply picked a spot to charge through?”) The Sargent pondered…
Yet again, only too late did he realize just how little he understood his current predicament.
“S-Sargent no t-they’re…” The messenger stuttered as he pointed down the road, then immediately rushing behind the barricade they stood before.
“Wh-Hey!” The Sargent called out after him as he watched the messenger scurry away in fear, then slowly turning to face the road himself.
His eyes, widening to their fullest as the hulking being was now visible, but not fully due to the clouds and rain.
A machine, roaring with magical energy that flowed through it and creaking with every movement. Large, half the height of the nearby buildings and entirely made of a dark grey metal that glistened its own magical light through the falling rain.
The ground shuddered with each step it took, revealing more of itself the closer it came.
Humanoid in shape but hunched back and low, its thick arms held up ahead of itself like two massive cannons strapped to the sides. Its legs and torso though were riddled with strange iron plates seemingly facing the wrong way and not forward…Allowing the rider within to see ahead.
Jin chuckled wickedly as his goliath of metal approached the terror-struck barricade of guards, his eyes just as wide as theirs but not in fear…Instead, he was filled with maddened amusement for what was about to occur.
“Fire…” The Sargent choked out the word at first, seemingly getting itself caught in his throat, scared back inside from the sight before him. “F-Fire!” He then shouted out in command, stuttering as he himself rushed back behind the barricades.
And the guards woke from their paralyzed terror, the crossbowmen finally taking aim and letting loose a barrage of bolts upon the mechanized golem. The iron bolts tearing through the rain as it fell, blacking out the road ahead of Jin.
As he pulled on a lever, and the plates of metal before him suddenly shifted.
Forming a massive shield of iron around the two cannons, and completely deflecting every single bolt that did not miss.
Pulling the second lever, the machine suddenly lowered itself, slamming the shield down and taking aim. A third lever pushed the cannons out…
And as his hand hovered over the fourth lever…Jin’s grin twitched with excitement.
“Oh just f****** pull it already!” Tania hissed at him from the golem’s back where she held onto.
“S-S***, I am okay!?” Jin exclaimed back at her, then suddenly pulling the lever.
The entire machine shook as magical energy formed inside the cannons, as slowly a crimson light within grew brighter and brighter with each passing second…
“F-f-u-uc-c-k-y-y-o-u-u-!” Jin stuttered in exclamation from the entire thing shaking around him.
And the magical energy suddenly burst out of the cannons into a flurry of blazing magical missiles, the sheer heat meeting the rain causing a large smoke screen of steam to form throughout the road.
And as the boiling rain reached the barricade, each guard whispered out a prayer, before the very air ahead of them exploded into flames.
Several dozen were blown to bits, and several more were thrown aside by the blasts, as the rest behind them looked on in terror. There was no chant, not a word and this much firepower was unleashed upon them within mere seconds.
Even the mages at the back were stunned by the sight.
“Rain upon it!” The Sargent exclaimed in a groan, forcing himself to stand after being thrown aside by a blast. “Blow that thing apart!” He ordered whilst glaring at the group of mages, who after glancing at one another each began their chants.
Hope filling each of them as they saw the machine’s cannons laying dark and unpowered, smoking from the attack. Seeming like the weapon couldn’t refire in time.
“Crackle of light, the flashing brightness of life which takes! Strikethrough my enemies! Lightning School; Triple Bolt!” Each mage chanted, raising their staffs ahead as lightning formed at the tips of each before suddenly flashing forth at great speed.
A dozen bolts, each breaking apart midway and tripling in number, creating a flurry of lightning soaring towards Jin’s shield. The crackling energy pushing the steam aside as it soared down the road…
Revealing, as each bolt suddenly collided into one another…
“Bound Spell; Store.”
Tania standing ahead of the iron golem, her glaive raised ahead of herself into which each bolt of lightning surged, absorbing the magical energy entirely. Then taking a golden glow…As Tania smirked, taking aim at not the already destroyed barricade, not at the hundreds of spearmen behind it…But at the mages who stood at the very back.
“Bound Spell; Release!” Tania chanted, and at her words the weapon’s glow turned a dark crimson before releasing a shockwave of flame ahead.
The wall of flame soared through the road, trailing steam in its path before quickly reaching the mages. All too fast for them to react, before the blazing attack incinerated each of them to ash.
“N-No wa-way…” The Sargent whispered with wide eyes, staring at where his mages once stood, where now lay a patch of burned ground and nothing else. Slowly he turned to face the enemy, “Just two?…Just two of them did…this?” He asked nobody in particular, his expression of fear turning into maddened amusement as he began to laugh with hysteria.
As he fell to his knees, then looked up at the blackened sky above. “Gods…what have we done? What have we done to incur this wrath?” The Sargent asked.
“Are you a religious man then?” Asked a harrowing voice from behind him, as Kailu appeared out of nowhere. The young Xilfir standing alone whilst surrounded by frozen men and women, each armed but not so ready to fight anymore. His glanced at each of them, his golden eyes filled with smoking blackness, the same darkness that formed tendrils all over his body.
His cold gaze, moving through each guard until it fell upon the Sargent before him. “For what has this wrath occurred upon you, you dare ask?” Kailu chuckled coldly, as a pitch-black scythe appeared in his hands. “Your people hunt, kill, rape, torture and enslave ours. Then you dare ask…why?”
He laughed, unable to feel the rage he should have felt, so instead he laughed to fill the void in his heart. “The Gods aren’t listening today, so I shall be your judge in their stead.” Kailu said, as the blade of his weapon resonated with energy, as if echoing the roar of thunder back at the skies.
“I judge you guilty…All of you…Are guilty.” Kailu hissed out, as his lips curved into a wide grin. “And if you’re guilty…then I can execute you right?…Hah…Right?!” He exclaimed, slashing his massive weapon ahead and cleaving the kneeling Sargent into two pieces.
Black and green tendrils of energy trailing along his attack, oozing into the deceased guard’s body and slowly rotting it away.
And then faster than any of them could react, Kailu’s form suddenly blinked out of sight.
Appearing behind another guard, as the woman screamed in horror, as his scythe slashed her arm clean off her shoulder.
Kailu laughed, amused and entertained by her screams as the blood which soaked his face slowly drained away with the falling rain.
“More…” Kailu whispered, as his weapon blurred with speed, beheading the woman mid-scream.
“More…” He growled, his maddened eyes meeting another guard’s terrified gaze.
“Fear me more~” Kailu sang out from the overwhelming excitement that filled him, blushing even as the feeling overtook him.
As his eyes changed from a dim gold, to a bright bloody red.
And the tendrils of darkness which grew out of his body, suddenly connected with the scythe he held.
(“How much will you pay, child of shadow?”) The scythe asked.
Kailu chuckled, “I’m young, take as much time as you need.” He told it, and his own chuckle echoed back through his mind.
As the same darkness which connected him to the weapon, burst out of his back, forming a pair of skeletal wings three times his own size.
Many whimpered at the sight, many even pissed themselves.
But one poor soul, “M-Monster…” just couldn’t hold his tongue.
“No…” Kailu responded to the terrified guard, turning his cold gaze upon him. “Call us Reapers.” He told the man, before suddenly appearing two steps before his fallen form.
Kailu plunged his scythe’s blade into the man’s forehead, slashing all the way down into his chest and cleaving the head in halve. Bloody splashed out and bathed him, but he did not care. “For all those who gaze upon me…are doomed to be harvested.” Kailu hissed out, tearing his weapon out of the dead guard and slicing him further as he did.
The sound of tearing flesh and leather, the sound of grinding bone and metal.
The sight of another of their comrades being cut down like an animal…
Awakened something within each guard, as all snapped out of their petrified state.
As their fear rose to a new level, each man and woman entering a state of fight or flight.
As they were faced with a true monster, they either picked up their weapons to fight, or the more foolish of them…turned and ran.
But that monster cared not for which they did, as he simply chuckled.
“Yes…Fight back, or run…Both are equally entertaining!” Kailu exclaimed as the tendrils of death energy spiralled around his body, causing the very air around him to tremble under the sheer pressure he was producing.
“Oi, bonehead. Forget our orders!?” Tania exclaimed as she and Jin lay on the other side of the guards which surrounded him.
“No…I haven’t.” Kailu scoffed in annoyance, “Fine, you live for today.” he then said glancing at the terrified soldiers, who seeing hope all dropped their weapons and joined those who previously ran.
“Hah, cowards.” Jin mused as he turned his machine around, then seeing a button before him he suddenly pressed it…
Then construct’s feet opened up to reveal wheels, which pushed themselves out of the feet and lowered. Raising the entire construct in turn, and allowing Jin to move around more easily. “Huh, so that’s what that does.”
“Please stop pressing and pulling on s*** without even knowing what it does! You almost blew my head off earlier too!” Tania scolded him as she and Kailu climbed onto the construct’s back.
Jin laughed, “Hey I gotta press and pull s*** to know what it does! How else am I supposed to blow those fuckers up otherwise-”
“Just…Move.” Kailu then hissed, annoyed by their pointless argument.
And hearing the malice in his voice, both bandits went quiet for the rest of the road.
“Sidi, please calm yourself.” The Guard Commander said as he watched the city’s young lord pace about the Sand Palace’s entrance whilst he stood at the door.
“Calm myself?” The lord asked as he briefly paused in his steps, turning to glare at the city guard leader. “Commander Katheer, my city is under f****** attack and if you ask me to calm myself once more I shall do so by running you through with my blade!” He exclaimed before returning to his pacing.
Katheer sighed, “Yes, but might I remind you of the Sultan’s generous gift to us…” he said gesturing at the army of Sin Wyrms standing at attention before them and spanning most of the large courtyard. “We should make use of them Sidi, and with due haste if we wish to end this quickly.”
Then explaining as he moved to gesture at the sky visible over the palace’s inner walls. “Those clouds are how the enemy got over our walls and inside, notice Sidi how they are now no longer entering the city but instead are circulating the land outside the city’s walls.”
“And what of it commander? The enemy has power of the bloody weather, am I to fear being struck by lightning!?” The lord exclaimed seemingly growing more anxious with every step he took.
“No, but we should fear the enemy growing in numbers. The slave camps are all kept outside our clean city, I believe the enemy is breaking those slaves out as we speak and recruiting them in.” Katheer reasoned as he moved to stand in the Lord’s way, “Emir, Arshad al-Farman, how do you wish to be remembered?”
Arshad stopped his pacing as he was faced with the giant of a man that was his guard commander, “What do you mean?”
“Sidi, let it not be written that you are a coward, it would break your late father spirit’s heart. Let us attack the enemy while they waste time setting up a defence in our own city! We have both the power to rival them, and the numbers. But the latter won’t remain true for long, not if we keep waiting.” Katheer explained with great resolve.
Lord Arshad seemed calmer, but not entirely convinced by the commander’s reasoning. “You’re asking me to take all our forces and push upon the enemy. You’re asking me to leave my citizens unprotected from an enemy that can fly over our very heads, a great risk is what you’re asking me for commander.”
“But it is a risk wor-” Katheer was about to urge him further, when he noticed a messenger rush into the courtyard. “Well, news has arrived from the front. Maybe we can come upon a conclusion through it.”
Arshad sighed, “Yes, yes maybe.” He said then turning to face the stairs himself as the out-of-breath guard dashed towards them.
“C-Commander! Emir…” The messenger exclaimed as he did his best to stand at attention.
“Yes yes, at ease and report man!” Arshad ordered, waving aside the Wyrms who moved to stand in the messenger’s way.
“Y-Yes, the front is falling back.” The messenger said plainly.
“F-Falling back you say? Which platoon?” Katheer asked with a raised brow.
“All of t-them commander! The harassment from the enemy has proven too much and with many injured every platoon was forced to retreat from the blockades and regroup at each barracks!” The messenger explained in haste.
Arshad raised his right palm to cover his face, sighing as he rubbed his closed eyelids in frustration. “How? How have they broken through our defences so quickly?”
“Amongst the enemy are many bandits and pirates, Sidi, they are used to our tactics and know how to avoid, go around and disrupt us. On the defensive we are at a great disadvantage, I urge you, we must push against them with force.” Katheer took this moment to forward his point once again.
Arshad held his free palm open towards the commander to silence him, “How many were spotted assaulting our defences?” he then asked the messenger.
“N-Not many, three or four were distinguished harassing each blockade. But each was a very powerful fighter! Using magic none of the officers has ever seen before!” The messenger answered nervously, paling as he himself remembered that pitch black scythe and those almost demonic red eyes. “O-One in particular wa-”
“Right, right. I get the picture, go.” Arshad then said, cutting the guard off and sending him away. Sighing once more he then turned to Katheer, “Very well, we’re left with no choice but to retaliate with immediate strength. I’ll leave it to you then, commander, make good use of the Sultans…gracious gift.”
Katheer saluted, “The enemy may know how to disrupt us, but in a head-on fight, nobody can match…” he turned to glance at the said gift, “Two thousand Sin Wyrms and their platoon leaders…” smirking as he said the words.
“Of that, I am nothing less than certain.” Arshad mused as he himself glanced over the army of slayer equipped soldiers.
Each fully confident in this belief, as they briefly gazed at the inspiring sight.
Katheer turned to fully face the Wyrms, “Officers at attention!” he exclaimed and the high rank from each platoon of Sinbeni Slayers stepped forth to receive their orders. Katheer held in a wider smirk, never had he dreamed of leading any number of Wyrms, less so a third of the royal army.
“We push on the invaders, and your men will be the spearhead to our charge. Remain together and bash right through their defences, after which you shall spread like a forest fire along their backline. Move out!” Katheer ordered, and each platoon leader turned to relay his orders along the many lines before him.
And as Katheer looked on resolved.
As Arshad looked on worried.
Another pair of eyes looked on in wait…
As the army left, long having left, and Arshad walked back into his palace alongside his personal guard.
“Dinner, Now.” The young lord ordered the nearest servant, as multiple rushed to tend to him.
“Lord, with the commander and Wyrms gone, we must take you to the safe room.” One of his guards said.
“Bah, I shall not cower before no one! Let them come.” Arshad exclaimed in annoyance as they walked into the dining hall, then moving to sit down in his personal seat…
“I am the serpent’s bane, the venom that triumphs all others.” A voice suddenly began to whisper in chant.
Causing each of the nineteen guards to unsheathe their swords, and each of the three mages to prepare their own magiks.
“Lord, one who I would call master, lend me your strength…For I am your poison~” The voice hissed out as barriers rose around the now agitated lord.
“R-Reveal yourself!” Arshad exclaimed, as one his guards forced him to sit down as they surrounded him defensively.
“Draconic Summon; Custom Cast; Apep! Izft! First Chain~” Zentha’s voice echoed throughout the room, as golden smoke began to rise from beneath the table, the table which was very much within the summoned barrier of mana.
“Out of the way!” A mage exclaimed, coming to stand before the rising smoke then raising his staff towards it. “Fire School; Heat Wave!” The mage chanted, and a pulse of crimson energy rushed out of his staff’s tip. Passing through the smoke and dispersing it, then through the table and lighting the entire thing afire.
And while the smoke was dispersed…it was only briefly…As it suddenly took the form of several dozen serpents, each assaulting the mage whilst he screamed in panic and agony.
The serpents then spread from him and assaulted others, until each guard and mage had been attacked…
Until each had breathed the smoke in, and each had utterly lost their minds to it.
Blades clashed and magic flew as the supposed personal guard began fighting one another in a sudden rampage induced by the magical toxin.
As they did Arshad scurried beneath the aflame table, hiding himself from the chaos whilst whimpering away whenever the still present serpents of smoke slither by.
But, once he had reached the table…what he was met with was far from safety.
As Zentha’s blade rested itself before his bare throat.
The young lord’s eyes going wide when he met her cold golden eyes, “I-I have n-no worth to you dead!” He then exclaimed, raising his arms up in surrender only to burn himself on the table’s charring bottom.
Zentha smiled coldly, “Oh, you quite do have worth as dead. But I was ordered to bring you back alive, and alive I shall bring you with.” She said in elven, knowing full well the lord understood each word.
Then suddenly steading her blade closer to his skin, “But beware boy, alive does not include all your limbs. Do not test me.” She said with a cold, but almost friendly, smile.
Arshad would have nodded if he could, “Y-Yes of-of course!” he exclaimed as a large iron sword bashed through the table behind him, causing the lord to whimper in fear.
Zentha chuckled quietly, “Shhh~” then raising her free index finger to her thin lips she made a shushing sound.
The amusement shining in her eyes though only made the young lord pale further. (“F*** my life…”)
Katheer glanced around the building and into the plaza. Seeing it completely empty of any sound or movement though, even at this time of night, pained him. Such was his pride in this city, a city he only saw joy within.
“How goes the push?” He asked the nearest Sin Wyrm to him, a mage in charge of quickly relaying messages amongst others scattered along their army. An army which was stretched out from the north-west wall to the very south-east wall, and slowly pushing through the city and towards the invader’s front.
“No contact yet-” the Wyrm said before quickly raising his left hand to his ear, “Wait no…Contact made, the largest group encountered yet right past the plaza.” He reported whilst meeting the commander’s stare, “A few hundred strong, three to four hundred. Each are wearing Dragon-part armour and wielding weapons of the same make…”
“Slayers as well? Hah, well while they number in the measly hundreds we are over two thousand!” Katheer mused with a chuckle, “We shall overwhelm these fools before they have any chance of retreat! Commence the counter-attack!” He told the Wyrm who looked back at him briefly.
“I would pose the suggestion of waiting further, this seems like a trap.” They said whilst focusing on their message relay magic.
“If it is a trap then we’ll have to spring it at some point, and the longer we wait the more time they have to build it up boy.” Katheer reasoned with a sigh, “I don’t know why they would place their strongest as the bait, maybe to surely lure us in as they did. And they definitely couldn’t have stronger fighters than those! Else, where are they and why haven’t they crushed us yet?”
“Maybe…they’re minimalizing losses?” The Wyrm offered with a raised brow.
Katheer glanced around the building and into the plaza once more, “Boy, if that was the case…If they are that free to look down upon us…Then we might as well surrender now.” He turned back to glare at the Wyrm, “Will you surrender?” he asked with a deadly serious tone.
The Sin Wyrm suddenly stood at attention, “No.”
Katheer nodded, “Well said soldier, now relay my orders.” He then told them before stepping around the build and walking out into the plaza. Behind him moved the rest of his contingent of slayers, and all around the city the rest of his guards also pushed deeper.
The Sinbeni defenders pushed their retreated lines.
Katheer and his Slayers marching their way through the plaza with weapons ready to face whatever came their way.
And unbeknownst to them, as he watched it all clearly from above…
Every move they made, every countermeasure they prepared in advance.
Erik, had thought of it all, and dealt with it all.
As the Sin Wyrms carefully but with haste, moved towards the other end of the plaza…
Thinking they had the advantage of numbers, and power, while they had no buildings in their way…
Knowing that it was a trap, still they ran right into it, thinking it wasn’t enough to stop them.
As the enemy Slayers stepped out of the streets to meet them head-on, Sin Wyrm charged against Dragon Knight.
The Sinbeni knew it was a trap, but what they did not know was that the measly trap itself was the bait, to a larger more complex ambush that they had just sprung.
As the archers and mages they had left behind them to cover their advance, all suddenly fell to the ground bleeding and dead, Dreadblade Knights had appeared about them in sudden bursts of shadow all too fast for most human, elves and dwarves to react to.
Their blades sinking into the Sinben’s necks and tearing it open before they even noticed the shadow magic, and even if they did notice like many mages had…They stood no chance in close quarters combat against the highly skilled assassins.
Assassins who having cleaned up the enemy’s backline, began making a ruckus as they rushed about picking up weaponry and heavier pieces of armour they had hidden before the Sinbeni’s advance.
“Quickly now! Arm up and line up!” Ascal exclaimed as he managed this contingent of Xilfir Knights, he himself though no longer wearing his white suit of armour and instead donning an azure Slayer set alongside a wicked draconic staff strapped to his back.
Finally noticing the gathering of white armoured combatants behind them, the Sinbeni faltered in their charge as many turned to face the flanking enemy.
But the Dragon Knights faltered not, even when faced with many hundreds more enemies…
“Xilfir, Drakon, Cut them all down!” Pyra exclaimed as she led the Dragon Knight’s charge, donning a new set of black slayer armour herself but having fashioned herself some claws into the gauntlets instead of wielding a weapon.
Pyra needed no weapon, she preferred to bash skulls in with her fists after all.
And that she did, as the four hundred strong bellowing Dragon Knights crashed into the faltering lines of the Sin Wyrms. Truly beginning the battle for Lahihr, as the outnumbered Dragon Knights fought with tooth and nail whilst their comrades set up around the plaza.
Ascal’s platoon having been the first to step out of the shadows since they had to clean up the enemy’s support, also became the first able to push onto the Sin Wyrm’s flanks. Hundreds of lines of white armoured Xilfir at his command, yet he knew they couldn’t take on the Wyrms one on one, the difference in magical strength was just that clear even from their own Dragon Knights.
So instead, Ascal made use of the one kind of magic his people were highly attuned to and most capable of using even while donning heavy armour.
As groups of Xilfir and rebel mages at the back, cast gravity, wind and enhancement magic upon them. Ascal’s platoon began moving about the enemy’s backline with great speed while also managing shadow magic to evade head-on combat.
Like a make-shift unit of shock cavalry, the Dreadblade Knights literally flew about the battlefield hidden by shadow, appearing momentarily to blast the Sin Wyrms with a volley of magic before suddenly disappearing.
Only to move, reappear and assault from elsewhere.
This though was a tactic Ascal himself had come up with, and was enthusiastic to get praised for later as he laughed and chuckled wickedly with every volley of magic fired. As he did not face any enemy, but instead stood back and watched his bloody masterpiece play out.
And while Ascal played his games from the enemy’s back, Makaela and Zentha advanced with their own platoons from the Sin Wyrm’s left and right flanks. Revealing their full strength as over a thousand Dreadblade Knights assaulted the Sinben’s flanks, and four hundred strong Dragon Knights faced them head-on.
The Wyrms still held the advantage in numbers, but as the battle played out Katheer realised it mattered not any longer.
As the Dragons Knights played the role of the anvil up front, as Makaela’s and Zentha’s platoons set up in a formation to be the hammers at long range and blast their flanks to oblivion.
Then there was Ascal, ploughing them from behind whilst evading them entirely at the same time.
Each of these, forced the Sin Wyrm’s formation to break and spread, as they had to deal with several flanks at once. And as this happened, each of the invader’s formations began to slowly fall back, but not quickly enough to give away the final step in their ploy.
As each of Erik’s platoons played defensive even though they had the first strike, as they slow moved closer and closer to the plaza’s edges…
Widening the gap between each other, while also spreading out the enemy further…
Neither the Sin Wyrms, nor Katheer, noticing anything amiss.
As the sound of the battle played out around them, and as the sounds of further combat echoed in from the nearby streets, the city guard having been met with the rest of the rebel forces.
Katheer was the first to notice, but still all too late…
As the ground beneath the plaza’s centre, which had mostly cleared of combat as they pushed the invader’s lines to the edges…
Began to crack, and rise.
Katheer turning to face the rising earth, as he stood at the back and had been commanding the push…
His eyes widened, at first in confusion but then in realisation.
He turned back to shout out in warning, but the sound of the ground exploding out overtook his own voice.
Then followed by a hissing voice that overtook even the sound of debris crashing into their lines…
“Finally…I can’t hold it back any longer!” Kailu exclaimed in exhilaration, as he and his few dozen reapers charged out of the hole they had been hiding in. Seeing them breaking off into groups of only three to four though, Katheer sighed in relief when he saw the measly numbers they had wasted on such a clever move…
But as Kailu appeared before him, the very colour from Katheer’s face drained out.
As he was faced with those hungry, blood-red, eyes full of excitement. Katheer felt his entire body shiver, barely managing to parry the boy’s massive black scythe as it descended upon him.
Feeling the sheer weight beneath it, Katheer couldn’t believe this small boy could even lift it, much less swing it as he had.
And as Kailu pulled back briefly, only to immediately assault the guard commander, Katheer was given little time to think further.
As the massive blade slashed about him in a flurry of attacks, coming in from each and every direction while the young Xilfir twirled it about his small frame as if it weighed nothing at all. As Kailu himself dashed about the man’s position with great speed, his skeletal wings slowly forming over his back as the fight went on.
And as the wings formed, Kailu’s speed only increased.
Katheer fought for his dear life, fully grateful now for the years of experience in combat he had over the boy as he managed to deflect, parry and evade each of the untrained Reaper’s attacks. Then finally seeing the pattern in his attacks, Katheer waited for a specific move.
As Kailu’s scythe slashed at him from the side, which he evaded by stepping back, then swing around the boy as he pushed on Katheer, the scythe then coming down from above.
Katheer side-stepped the attack and pushed on Kailu, thrusting forward with his blade and stabbing it deep into the boy’s left shoulder, then faltering as an inhumane screech pulsed out of both Kailu and the black scythe.
Katheer retreated back and away from the terrifying creature as it wailed from the injury, an injury that he saw slowly closing itself whilst tendrils of black-green magic fused into it.
“What a monster…” Katheer mused as he took a further step back, “Are the tales true then? Are you the Dragon reborn into humanoid form I’ve been hearing whispers about!?”
Kailu chuckled coldly at his words, rising and straightening himself to face the terrified man. “Me? A Dragon? Oh no, I’m simply one of my lord’s vassals, and if you think me a monster then your perception of power is as low as that of the rats which scurry beneath your city streets.”
“Dagen s***, then where is your commander? Where is your leader!?” Katheer exclaimed in demand, but his tone betrayed him, unable to hide just how fearful he actually was.
Kailu sighed, as his gaze rose to look upwards.
Katheer hesitantly followed the reaper’s gaze, seeing the small black cloud that had caught his attention.
As it slowly descended towards them.
“When one asks for another’s titles, it is only respectful to announce yourself first.” Thea said as she leapt off the cloud’s surface, landing and coming to stand between the two of them, straightening herself to face Katheer head on.
Donning her set of sky-blue plate armour lined with bright white trimming, her helmet and shoulder pads shaped like a lioness’s open jaws whilst her gauntlets and boots took the shape of the beast’s feet. Over her back also fell a cape, white on the thicker edges whilst gold and blue within the thinner inside where a crest she wore proudly lay.
Upon the cape lay her family crest, a golden bow nocking a flowery rose-headed arrow.
Thea gestured at Kailu to move on, signalling that she would take on this one.
Kailu grimaced bitterly, but dared not argue, there were other Sinbens around to slaughter anyway. And move on he did, picking a bunch of nearby Sin Wyrms who were ganging upon a single Dragon Knight, Kailu’s grimace widened into a wicked grin as he charged after them.
Katheer managed a grin as he faced Thea, “You? Woman, are the leader of these scum then?” he asked, but Thea did not answer other than raising her gunblade towards him. “Hmph, very well as you wish!” Katheer exclaimed as he stepped forth, “I am Katheer al-Abu, City Guard Commander of Lahihr under the orders of Lord Arshad al-Farman. I am also commander of this contingent of the royal army as decreed by the Sultan and crown council seat holder Samir el-Sylla himself!”
“Then, your sole title of note is guard commander of this slave city?” Thea mused with a sigh, then suddenly hardening her gaze. She had long prepared herself for this role, a role Erik had asked her to play, even though she did not feel worthy of it right now. Thea told herself she needed to make herself worthy of it.
(“For the sake of our quest, for the sake of my family and name…For the sake of the Xilfir people and for what Erik has fought hard to achieve! I apologise, but I take this title as my own…”) She thought, before exclaiming loud and clear
“I am Thea Selene, vassal to my lord Erikathyr the Guardian of Nature’s Spirit, also known as the Destroyer of the weak and Slayer of the Devil King Azruxan!…I am Thea Selene, Empress to this Dragon Empire which cries out for war against the crimes your kingdom of Sinbeni has committed!” She roared out with clear resolve.
“I am Theaviss, a Dragon’s Chosen…Surrender, or I shall have your life end where you stand.”