Chapter 69: Pieces Come Together

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The ground and air quaked,

Its very presence making reality shake,

Its growl, an explosion of power, as the army was forced to their knees.

A pressure filled the grasslands, as if gravity itself had turned against them.

Nobody could stand before this monstrosity, nobody but Brazath, and even he struggled to remain straight.

Even his expression struggled, twitching in between awe and laughter.

Cometh be, ancient beast!” He called out, “Destroy this world, with me! Remake it with me! Let us reshape this reality into our liking!” He cackled, wickedly so Brazath cackled.

But the Primal being ignored him, merely an ant in its presence the Elder Dragon’s gaze turned elsewhere.

It glanced at the struggling armada around it, then beyond.

It glanced at the land beyond, at those moving its way, and those moving away.

Its eyes, narrowing, as it not only sensed but saw the spirits of this land.

Spirits of which there were only two colours, as they filled the bloody battlefield.

Spheres of red and black riddled its surroundings, shining a dim light as they floated up to surround it.

The Elder Dragon felt the land’s pain, it felt it’s sorrow.

And in return, it roared.

A sound so raw in strength, a sound so infused with magic itself.

It broke the spell of cowering upon the army, but in its stead infusing them with a horrific terror.

As each stood up and turned tail, every man and woman for themselves, the armies ran before this apocalyptic being.

As even Brazath was now brought to his knees, holding his own ears shut tight as he resisted the temptation to flee.

A primal fear being brought up from within all, at the very sound of this beast’s roar.

Ceasing then, now the Elder finally turned to the Devil Prince.

Eyes many times larger than Brazath himself, those violet slits focused upon him. Slits surrounded with intricate lines of black and red, forming designs akin to runes and magic circles, Brazath knew exactly what he was glimpsing into.

For all your lives, you’re lied to, you lie to yourselves.” The Prince mused, as he stood back up. “Of the Spirits of the land, who you supposedly guard, Of some mighty eternal being who you protect!” He chuckled, “When in truth, these Spirits are mindless, souls long given up on existence. When in truth, you are far more than just guardians.

Brazath opened his hands wide, “But you understand now, don’t you? Erikathyr? You feel it don’t you? The unlimited power at your very call? The primal surge of energy which can both destroy…and form worlds! You, a Primal Elemental is what you’ve become! What your people call the fall to chaos!

The Elder Dragon merely growled back, baring its massive fangs at what it regarded as nothing more than a very loud insect.

It is far too bad, that your mind is numbed, so much power within a being so bestial…So primal.” Brazath mused, as miasma then surged out of his hands.

As a rift opened before him, crackling with dark energy, reality around it seemed to tremble.

Regaining the Primal’s full attention, as it itself sensed the energy within.

And to you this power I give! Master!” Brazath bellowed in chant, “I present this being as a sacrifice to you! Hell!

As out of the rift thick tendrils of miasmic energy burst out, hundreds upon hundreds of clawed tentacles surged out and engulfed the Elder Dragon.

Wrapping around him, as more and more continued to flow out of the rift, as the rift itself was torn wider to let them through. As miasmic fog also gushed out, falling to the ground and creating an ocean of hellish energies, slowly beginning to devour the land whole.

Warping the grasslands into a desolate, hellish landscape.

As the beast roared and bellowed, as it fought and struggled.

Black flames and lightning surging out of its very body, dozens of tendrils were shredded or charred to ash each second, but for each one destroyed a hundred more joined in from the rift.

The Elder Dragon was overwhelmed.

As Brazath continued to laugh, maddened in expression and tone, “And finally, with great patience!” He announced as if the world itself was a stage to his grand act.

As he gazed into the Primal’s eyes, as it sunk beneath the ocean of corruption.

I win.” Brazath mused.

I wouldn’t be so sure, if I were you, Devil.” Said an amused voice, as Brazath suddenly sensed two beings above him.

Glancing up, he saw them now, albeit they had not a physical form.

Like ghosts, the two Spirit Beasts hovered in the sky, watching the scene.

Who…” Brazath was about to ask.

But Kalix cut him off, “Don’t matter, you should be looking ahead anyway, something fun is about to happen.” The boy warned.

This is going to be good,” Kaisley mused, as both of them smiled widely.

As they gazed not at Brazath, and not at the Elder Dragon sinking beneath the power of Hell.

The twins gazed beyond and at Draconia, as the citadel still stood before this mayhem.

As Brazath sensed it now too, a rise of energy from within the citadel’s towers.

As miasmic rings of magic began to form around them, runic inscriptions alit by raw mana, quickly the rings grew to encompass the entire grasslands.

As then slowly, the ring’s crimson colour began to fade into a bright gold with the runes turning into a dim blue.

What is this!?” Brazath exclaimed, suddenly leaping up into the two twins enraged, yet his fists hit nothing as he reached them.

His entire body simply flowing right through Kalix as they both continued to hover where they stood.

Hah!” Kalix laughed, as they both continued to gaze at the city.

We’re phantoms you moron, you can’t touch us and we can’t touch you, we’re still in the Spirit Realm of this world.” Kaisley explained with a sigh, “You have other problems at the moment anyway.” She then mused, gesturing at the mountain of hellish tendrils, as the golden light filling the rings reached them, and began to sear them to ash merely with a touch.

Brazath growled, “Holy magic!? From a miasmic caster!?” Disbelief in his eyes as he gazed straight at the citadel now, “Traitor…AZKEL I SHALL HAVE YOUR HEAD FOR THIS!” The prince bellowed in a rage, as he had been slowly descending back to the ground.

His descent suddenly quickened, Brazath crashed into the warped earth, eyes alit with fury and hellish power, he charged forwards.

Just to spite me!” Brazath grumbled, “I will destroy your very being!” Brazath screamed, as he ran, leaping with each step he took.

The Devil Prince was quickly approaching Draconia’s walls.

When suddenly…

As the ground rose, as the earth suddenly encompassed his body.

A hand of stone formed around Brazath, gripping him tightly and holding him down.

W-What?!” Brazath was surprised, yet knew what held him, sensing the elemental commanding this magic. “You are unbound! Foolish element! Your master no more, his magic holds you not! Why do you still assist him!?” Brazath exclaimed, as his entire body briefly shone violet, bursting himself out of the stone with sheer strength.

A servant needs not a signed contract to serve,” Dejal’s voice whispered out of the very land, “And I am proud, to serve greatness itself.” The Greater Elemental said, as Brazath tried to take another step forwards.

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Yet to the prince’s dismay, the elements themselves seemed to have turned against him.

As the ground wrapped tightly around his feet.

As a powerful wind began to blow all around him, holding him down.

Brazath pushed through it all, struggling with each next step.

As magma rose from the ground to bubble up and devour him, he did his best to avoid it.

As a storm formed above, raining not yet lightning struck into his path, stopping him now but slowing him down.

As the ground continued to rise and the wind continued to blow.

Sheer frustration filled Brazath as the four beings did their very best to slow him down.

And suddenly, as the magical rings of violet where finally completely turned to blue and gold.

A ringing sound filled the land, a singular chime, ever echoing itself.

It came from nowhere, but everywhere at once.

Encompassing the surrounding area unlike any other sound, simply permeating it as if produced by the air itself.

As Azkel’s voice now replaced that chime, as she chanted her spell, as she stood within the castle’s dungeons standing before the beating mound of hellish flesh.

Souls come and gone, present yourself before this forgotten thrall, free him of this fate of numbed plight.

A scroll before her written by Erik, she read off the chant and casted the ritual as instructed before.

Spirits of this earth, unbind his chains, give him aid.

Her eyes filled with this holy magic, she held back the need to scream as it flowing through her body contradicted her very nature.

Filling her with pain.

Turn back his state, cleanse his mind of this numbing façade!

Azkel exclaimed, as a mist of gold exploded out of her body and into the beating heart.

Holy Script; Lost Book of Souls; Arch-Sage Cleanse!

As the hellish organ then suddenly disintegrated, the shell now gone, the energy within burst out.

A wave of golden energy flowed out from within Draconia, and as it moved the land itself changed back.

Purifying everything in its path, it briefly stopped as it met the mountain of corruption.

As the two energies clashed, as the tendrils turned to engulf the growing golden sphere too.

Azkel felt the resistance, as she fought against the power of Hell itself.

Pushing herself to her limits, Azkel was at her very limits…

I-I can’t…” She mumbled out through the struggle and pain, feeling as if her entire body was aflame.

Hearing then the door slam open, Azkel feared the worst. “You can,” Then spoke a voice from behind her, yet the Deviless dared not glance back or even look away.

As she felt a hand then place itself over her left shoulder, then another over the right.

Azkel felt the struggle being passed down the line, releasing her of some of the needed concentration, now she glanced back at the intruders.

Seeing Makaela as she rested her on onto Azkel’s left, and Ascal as he lay his bony hand onto her right.

Ha-Hah, and here I was hoping you were both dead.” Azkel mused, glimpsing Kailu at the doorway as well. “Instead, you’re both here as two completely different beings…

“What can I say? He changes people.” Makaela managed to say, struggling herself to aid in the spell.

“Not always for the best,” Ascal grumbled, “But I can’t really complain!” He then exclaimed.

“Yeah, neither can I.” Makaela agreed.

As down their arms mana now flowed.

Filling Azkel, the pain tripled, but her control over the spell did as well.

As outside, the barrier-like spell suddenly shuddered.

Lines of pitch black and bright blue started to flow out from its centre, covering the sphere entirely and merging with its golden make.

As a hellish screech exited the rift.

As the magic suddenly pulsed, and the tendrils were disintegrated in its continued growth, hundreds by hundreds being absorbed into the mixed holy spell as it grew.

The corruption surrounding the beast was cleansed, and with it the rift closed, the hellish voice within speaking out for the first time.

Hah-It does not, end here.” The crooked voice warned, as the tear in reality healed.

As the Elder Dragon once more was revealed, now surrounded by the golden gleam of holy magic.

The circles which made it up then beginning to enclose, they surrounded the Primal beast, but not like a cage.

No the magic was not entrapping in nature, instead it formed neatly around its shape, changing as he moved around.

Trembling the earth as he did.

As the circles then began to fade, before suddenly shattering.

A rain of golden lights fell upon the beast, a shower of glittering magic, as its entire body then pulsed.

And Brazath as he continued to struggle against the elements, paused to gaze up at the Elder Dragon he’d awaited.

Eyes wide, as the lights dissipated, and he turned to face him.

He gazed down at him.

The Elder Dragon glared down at Brazath, eyes now a bright gold with light blue designs.

No, little Devil, I did not know what form I would take…” Erikathyr growled, having regained consciousness within his own changed body. “But I knew what you were looking for,

No…Impossible!” Brazath muttered out, “No one sentient being can control that much power and remain sane!” Brazath exclaimed, “This is impossible!

And Erikathyr laughed, “You’re right, again. But I am not controlling it on my own,” He mused glancing then at what the Devil couldn’t see.

At the millions of Spirits now turned gold, as they surrounded him like fireflies.

I can barely move…But speaking is enough,” Erikathyr explained, as he struggled even to turn his gigantic neck. “You wanted…this great power, to hand Faetera and everything within to your lord and master, to Hell. Your plan is foiled, and now it’s time I enact my own.

Brazath responded not, falling into a fit of crazed laughter instead, the Devil prince seemingly having lost his senses entirely.

Pitiful creature,” Erikathyr sighed, as he turned his attention away from the Devil’s shattered sanity. Instead, he turned to the sky. “Dark times, are ahead.” He mused, as he watched it tear open.

As a crimson scar ripped the sky apart.

And through it descended a million times more tendrils of corruption than the little rift from before had given out.

But I won’t let you.” Erikathyr mused, as he opened his maw.

Reality trembling around him as he summoned up his primal power.

As something akin to flames formed within his jaws, a smouldering heat accompanied by what could only be described as a forming sun.

The Elder Dragon opened its maw, and a beam of blinding light burst out, growing the further it went till it engulfed the rift and the descending corruption whole.

And as the Primal closed his jaws, the sky lay clear.

All but the rift which still remained there, flames seemingly burning away at its incorporeal edge, flames at the command of Erik’s very will.

And to his will, the rift burned close.

And Erik chuckled, a rumbling sound which with quaked the air. “Yeah…with this power.” He mused, “I can.

But should you?” Then came a voice, one made of an amalgamation of voices, never once the same.

It spoke from nowhere, yet everywhere at once.

And only Erik, only the Elder Dragon heard it.

You can’t stop me,” Erik told the voice.

No, I cannot, but I-

Shut it,” Erik then growled, “Just because you’re the creator, the great being above all, doesn’t mean I give one wyvern’s ass to what you’ve got to say to me now.” He told it, “This world, this reality, is unfair. I don’t care what you think, it’s my turn to be unfair.” Erikathyr said, his tone stoic and set.

The voice did not respond again.

While I hold this power…” Erik mused, as his gaze fell back to the ground.

As the Elder Dragon, began to chant.

Speaking in words more akin to growls, grunts and snarls, a language long forgotten.

A language built into this now Elder Dragon’s soul, like draconic itself.

Erikathyr chanted in Ancient, calling upon the ancient power awoken within him.

As another rift opened before him, a perfect circular tear in reality and into another.

A tendril, formed out of his forehead, a golden string of light.

It entered the portal, and with it, Erik searched far and wide.

Until, “W-What?” the voice which came through told him he had found her.

As through the circular mirror-like portal, with a golden string hovering before her, was Shizuka.

Looking both confused, and shocked by the monster she, immediately an aura of spirit burst alive all around her.

The young foolish bestia Erik once had mercy upon, no longer.

He saw the warrior that was now.

As she herself met his gaze, “E-Erik?” she mused, recognising those fearsome golden eyes. “What is going on? What happened to you!?”

I have on last favour to ask of you, Shizuka…” Erik spoke, and even reality around her shook.

Feeling, and sensing the seriousness in his tone and emotions, “Anything.” She calmly responded.

Don’t resist.” He told her, and she nodded.

As the golden string suddenly straightened like a needle and pierced into Shizuka’s chest.

Shizuka’s eyes widened, as she felt it prodding within not her body, but her soul.

She realised, she knew now, what Erik was after.

And just as he had told her, Shizuka did not resist.

Instead, she helped, she guided the string to its target.

The part of her soul, that wasn’t hers, as where many.

Part, like many others, she had devoured.

Shizuka led the string to what remained of Thea, to what lived of her within.

Feeling as it wrapped around it, a perfect pouch of gold, pain then filled her as Erik then pulled.

As the string pulled, feeling as if her very heart was being pulled with.

Still Shizuka resisted not the magic and only the pain, still she held her ground and let it flow.

As out of her chest it came, engulfed in a golden thread now unfolding, the blueish Spirit hovered where it stood.

A thread of gold still holding onto it.

Shizuka collapsed to her knees, filled with relief, she gazed up at the desolate soul.

As the string continued to pull, as the string lead it into the rift, Shizuka gently helped it within.

“Erik,” she whispered, “Bring her back.” She said, as the portal suddenly closed.

Leaving the soul before the Elder Dragon, a string of gold connected the two.

Erik gazed down upon it, barely a dot within his sight, he focused on it. “That was, the plan all along.” He said, as he then sensed a rise of malevolence nearby.

He watched as Brazath now rose back to his feet, still laughing, still maniacally chuckling.

You’ve insulted hell…This realm is no more, I can feel them…Armies are on the move! My father! My uncle! All of hell shall descend upon these lands!” The Devil Prince announced, as maddingly he gestured forward, “You wish to bring her back? Do you even know what it takes to bring something back to life? It will take everything you have. All of the energy, all of your current power! You might even lose your own life!

Once more, the Devil laughed, eyes wide with insanity as he took a step forward.

Only to trip, as a mound of earth moved into his path.

Falling face first into the ground, still Brazath continued to laugh.

With how you are now, maybe…maybe you can protect this realm! But if you bring her back then you’re all doomed dead!” Brazath bellowed out.

As he raised his gaze to meet the Dragon’s.

I don’t care,” Erik said, “This world, it means nothing to me…” He said as his gaze returned to the soul, “Not without her, and I realised it too late.

As the ground then suddenly rose up like mud, engulfing Brazath whole, the Devil sunk into the earth as still he laughed.

And Erikathyr, continued his other-worldly chant.

And as he spoke, incomprehensible words long having lost their meaning.

Only he, and the world remembered them.

As the wind blew, as a storm formed.

As the ground quaked, as the sky roared.

Erik gave it his all, as he felt it…

He felt every drop of it move, to his will, to his words his mana flowed.

Into the thread, he forced it, as on the other side it engulfed the tiny blue soul.

He felt himself being drained dry.

And in return his form shrunk.

As the sphere of blinding light grew.

And grew.

And grew…

Erikathyr, now back to human form, fell to his knees.

As the spell continued on its own, continually sucking every drop of energy from him, finding no more it began draining his very life.

His body began to change, collapsing into unhealthily scrawny…

As his very voice faded away, Erik choked to speak but nothing came out.

And as within the light he glimpsed a figure form, Erik could only smile.

(“I have…done my part.”) He thought, as he felt his life force reaching its final drops.

As his now bony body lay on the ground, his skin cracking up like sandstone.

Death approached, and Erik knew it.

Yet still, still he smiled.

As the light then faded, the sound of feet landing upon the dirt before him reaching his ears, Erik had not the strength to look up.

Try as he might, couldn’t even raise his own arms.

As he then felt it, soft and warm, he felt her hand touch his face.

He felt himself being pulled up, his weary eyes meeting her own.

Thea looked into Erik as he lay on the verge of death, her eyes already watering red with understanding. “Why?” Yet still she asked.

But he couldn’t speak, yet respond he did.

(“Because, I stole your time, it was my fault you died. Now, I’m giving it back.”) Erik said through their bond, causing her tears to fall.

As she held him tight, “Idiot…” she said.

(“I’m sorry,”) He replied, (“Thank you.”) He then said as she held him, as his head lay over her shoulder, his eyes widened at what he then saw.

Ghost-like, the two Spirit Beasts hovered before them.

Unseen by Thea, unheard and unnoticed.

They smiled at Erik, as their voices reached his mind.

(“Our father sends you his regards,”) Kalix said, as Kaisley held up her hand within which an object appeared.

Something Erik recognised.

Kaisley held an hourglass, through which she saw through Erik’s eyes, seeing herself and her twin brother. (“Second chances are rare, Dragon, so take this fourth as a blessing never to happen again.”) She told him.

As an aura of spirit formed around her hand and arm, a beast’s paw with claws suddenly enclosing around the object, bright light escaping it before it suddenly shattered.

Bursting forth with an explosion of even brighter light, and finally catching the sobbing Thea’s attention, as she leaned away to look.

But finding nothing and no one, the twins were gone.

Her eyes widening then, as she felt Erik rise.

As she glanced back at him.

His bright golden eyes, looking straight back at her, his body returned to good health as a set of mighty white and gold leathery wings spread open from his back.

Erik glanced down at his own body, feeling his returned power and strength.

He felt reborn anew.

As they both rose to their feet now, eyes stuck onto one another’s, Thea spoke first.

“You…had it all thought out, didn’t you?” She asked.

But Erik shook his head, “I’m sorry, I knew there was a chance I’d die, but still I took it.” He said with a fading smile.

As Thea then wiped her face of the tears, “You…You insufferable idiot…” she said, as he then suddenly pulled her closer.

“I’m your idiot.” He told her, holding her by the waist and the back of her head, as their lips then met.

Taking away her breath, and several long moments, before releasing one another.

Gazing into each other, “What now?” Thea asked as she glanced at the broken and still retreating armies within this destroyed landscape.

I-It’s not….It’s not over yet!” As a voice then exclaimed, fuelled by rage, Hanae rose up from the ground having regained consciousness.

Wobbly in her stance, she turned to face them, eyes wide and maddened. “Z-Zrosa still stands!” She announced, her voice causing a shuddering within each remaining Zrosian, even those that were out of earshot in the distance.

They all stopped at the sensation of the anger permeating out of their Empress.

As vine and stone rose to her will.

Erik stepped to, facing her. “No, it’s over.” He said, only adding to her rage.

As Hanae took a single step forth, fully ready to fight to the last…

Until she heard it.

Until she saw it.

As in the distance, from each direction, lines grew over the horizon.

Banners held high as they danced with the wind, Hanae’s heart sank at the sight of it all.

As from the south came the Dragon Empire’s legions, led by large drakes of black and flying their banner of the Dragon.

From the west, remnants of Sinbeni joined by the Druvian army. Both raising their banners of the Wyvern for Druvia, and the four guardian animals for Sinben.

And more came from the east, banners of bright cyan flying with greenish wings expertly knitted and enchanted within, they shone brightly even beneath the sun.

As the Fae armies marched forth too, Nerick and Kayle at the lead and riding majestic Pegasi alongside the Fairy leaders. As ahead of them all, arms held open wide as she childishly smiled, Ivy rushed through the destroyed terrain. Hopping with happiness as if she was surrounded with a garden of grass and flowers, and not the ash and burning corpses.

And then, more came from the north, flying tattered banners of black with an icy fist drawn within.

Giants one and all, their massive forms distinguishable even from this distance.

And at their lead, Findri rose up into the sky, her wings of frost opened wide.

By her side, Alan led the Jotunn down towards the retreating Elves.

Hanae watched it all transpire, losing all strength in her legs, she collapsed to her knees.

No…” She mumbled out in disbelief.

As Erik now loomed over her, with Thea in his arms. “The entire world has come to watch you fall, surrender, and pray that I might have mercy upon you all.” He said with a mocking tone, briefly causing Hanae to grimace as she glanced up at him with a rage-filled glare.

Rage which, quickly faded away just as it had came, her gaze dropping back to the ground.

I…We…Zrosa!…” Her fists clenched, as her entire body shook, and all resolve disappeared from her then as she lay on her knees and gazing down at the shattered ground.

Zrosa…surrenders.” She said, her tone one of utter defeat.

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- my thoughts:
And as the tale I tell comes to a close, I wish to thank CrN for hosting me and my ridiculous imagination ^ ^ But most of all, thank you all for reading this far. I shall, or my words will, see you this weekend when the finally to The Dragon Within shall be posted :)
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