Monday, March 29, 2010

Chapter Seven, On the Mountainside

The raiders scurried off, hopping on their jetbikes running them over the mound of snow that had been blocking their exit.

"Serves those louts right. What's your name kid?"
The spearman was tying up the Wyrm's remains; his companion was still up on the ledge. She was using a radio, presumably to call for transportation or a medical evacuation.
"Alicea, Liuetenant of the Imperial Army; I have an important message for the citizens of Gasca."
"The Ga-Vok you mean?" Before Alicea could ask how he knew the spearman continued, "Their general came up into the mountains about a week ago. It's caused quite the uproar."
"What's she doing up there?"

The archer had disapeared.
"Probably bandaging up Knickes, poor kid and on his first hunt too."
"Why would you hunt somthing like this? Is it really worth the risk?"
"Yep, male of this age is probably worth a couple million all said and done. Shame though, we'd hoped it was a female from the way it was travelling."

Alicea watched the man as he prepared the corpse, tying it up tightly enough that it looke a fraction of its true size. He'd even bound its wounds to prevent the loss of more, what she assumed to be valuable, blood. Aurou had always told her stories of how heroes fought powerful beasts and then took the head back to chieftans and thee were feasts and beautiful princesses; this just seemed to take all the glory out of slaying so powerful a beast. It felt to professional, to ordinary. An adversary this dangerous deserved better. But it was not her place to judge these people, especially not since they had undertaken the risk willingly.

"Lifter inbound Ross; mind giving me a hand with Knickes? I want to be careful moving him in this condition."
"Kid, you wanna hop up there and give her a hand?"
Alicea climbed up the ledge. She didn't really have any experience climbing, but a little careful magic gave her a simple ladder. At the top she saw that the boy's wounds were worse than she'd realised. There was a lot of blood. Worse still it smelled like the barbs may have been poisoned.
"Do Frost Wyrm's have poisoned tails?"
"No, but it miht have brushed against some bad mushrooms. Do you think it's bad?"
The girl was probably not much older than she was; but she looked worn. Probably something about the mountains, made everyone look more rough than they really were.
"If it's just mushrooms he should be fine; the blood could handle that. Are there any poisonous animals it could be?"
She shook her head.
"Then it's just a wound. I can speed up the healing a bit; do you have any Fyrg's Wort?"
"Who's Fyrg and why would I have his wart?"
"Drat, what's the Nieldic name. Uhm, Jafier's Ivy?"
"I have bandages, Thaw Out(tm), and a pack of antiseptics."
"I've never heard of those; how about alchohol, do you have that?"
Another negative, Alicea was starting to get really frustrated about the general lack of medical knowledge.
"Fine, stand back." She jammed a finger into one of the lad's wounds and ignored his howls and the girl's protests as she traced out a pattern around the damaged area. A flash of light faded to reveal the wounds mended.
"I hate doing that." Alicea muttered as she wiped her fingers off on the boy's discarded leather jerkin.

The girl was clearly about to say something but was interupted. Alicea looked up to the third roar of the morning, that of the large aircraft hovering over the ledge. It was easily as big as a house, with four seperate propeller cages. The cockpit was on the front-top of the ship, and there were two men inside.
"Lifter's here, run the cable down so we can haul up the prize." Yelled Ross from below. The girl ran over and opened a hatch on the vehicle's back and threw down a steel cable before walking around and signaling the pilot. She heard a winch kicking into action and saw the frost wyrm dragged up onto the ledge and then into the bay of the lifter.
Ross followed it up the ledge, keeping it from snagging or taking any noticeable damege. He picked up Knickes, who was still in shock despite, and likely because of, his recent healing and caried him into a compartment under the cockpit. The girl motioned for her to follow, caliing something incomprehensible over the roar of the engines.
Alicea chose to accept the invitation.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chapter Six, Wyrm part two

The beast lunged at her. It's massive claws raked the air as she backpedaled. She dove aside as launched its frosting spit towards her. She grabbed a hold of the rocks nearby and pulled herself onto them to even the height disadvantage she had against the creature.

She decided to attempt magic as a means of defeating the frost wyrm. Alicea hurled a small bolt of lightning towards it. But it spattered harmlessly off of its steely scales. A more powerful blast met the same fate. Its hide was stong, and magic would have no effect. She wouldn't waste her strength trying further.

An arrow struck the beast's shoulder. It howled in pain and turned to it's new assailant; Alicea followed suit. A pair of men, not so bulky as the raiders cowering behind their bikes, and a woman. The men had long spears, Long white blades trailing blue dyed cords at their heads. The woman bore the bow; made of the same white matierial as the spearheads, and her arrows fletched with the same blue color.
Another arrow buzzed into the wyrm's hide. It tried to climb the ledge where the newcomers stood, but the spearmen repulsed it. Unable to reach them with claw and fang it spat again at its attackers. The archer ducked away from the perilous frost. The beast lashed out at the spearmen with its barbed tail. The first one jabbed the beast's tail, but the second was not so fortunate. He was flung to the ground, blood coming from several wounds in his chest.

Alicea chose to intervene before thecreature could exploit the new gap in the defenses. She jumped down to themonster's side and sunk her blade into its right hind-limb. She heard bone splintering under the weight of her blow. As it began to howl in pain she spun and slammed Welvae into it's forelimb. Flesh was cloven as it sunk deep into the sinewy muscles. Alicea rolled against the rocks to avoid the beast as it collapsed, legs no longer able to support it's weight.

It cried out in pain. Broken legs pinned beneath its body, it couldn't move or fight. She bent over it, now that it was harmless she could admire the power of the beast. In the corner of her eye she saw the archer and the uninjured spearman coming down towards her.
But the beast was still in pain, the hunt was not finished until the prey was dead. She rose and muttered a prayer for the creature, asking the spirit's forgiveness for slaying so majestic a creature. Then sunk the tip of her axe into its breast.

"A clean kill." The spearman stood behind her, leaning on his weapon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chapter Five, Wyrm part one

She woke early, even after three comfortable years in the Monastery she held to the Ga-Vok habit of an early breakfast. She had taken a liking to the Nieldic Travellers meals, they cooked faster and required a lot less effort than cooking bacon and eggs every morning.

She'd finished cleaning up her meal and was preparing to set out when she heard the mechanical roar. Five men, Brawnier than any Nielda she'd seen before and hairier too, were approaching on a device she recognized only from television. Jetbikes, all the Repulsor capacity and handling of a truck but with the speed of a sub-orbital aircraft. They were heading towards her, and they looked every bit as dangerous as the descriptions she'd heard.
The first one slid to face her from the side of his bike. He had a sword at his side, the others had axes and spears. All five wore heavy furs, which reminded her of just how cold it was here in the mountains, and helmets ornamented with spikes and horns.

"Well what have we got here." Their leader looked around to his fellows, all eying her greedily. "Looks to me like we've got us a flatlander. You scared flatlander?"
~Please? He looks so..juicy.~ The feral spirit knew the danger, but she wasn't going to give in that easily.
"A little, but not as much as you should be."
"Ooh, this one's got zest. Well my zesty little siren; what'll it take to get you to sing for us?"

She had to think about that one for a moment. She knew full well what he had planned for her, but that must have sounded way better in his head.
"Good jewelry and a fourth date. I'm not giving you another warning; try anything and your corpse doesn't hit the ground for a week."

She didn't have to, as he opened his mouth to reply a more organic roar came from the rocks to her right.
"Frost Wyrm, run for it boys!"
All five scrambled for their bikes. One of them got off faster than the others, but stopped abruptly as the beast spat on it. The Jetbike shut down and spun out as the beast's spit froze the turbines within it. It crashed into the side of the cliff and caused the snow above to block their exit.

Alicea turned to face the beast, placing herself between the great reptile and the remaining raiders. She could now see the beast in its full power. Gray scales on sinewy muscles, with forelimbs as large as she was and a barbed tail long enough to wrap tightly about one of the raider's jetbikes without leaving any part of it exposed. It roared again, and she saw its teeth, sharp as a skinner's knife and long as a broadsword. Beneath its tongue were patches of frost, revealing the location of its famed glands.
She searched quickly for something to be glad about in this fight. Then silently thanked the Spirit of the Light it didn't have wings.
"Stay back, and don't get in the way." She yelled to the cowering men behind her, then charged the beast with a howl.

Chapter Four, Seeking the Mountainfolk

Three months were all she had to travel across the continent and ready every Nielda she could find for the coming war. The hardest palce to reach would be the high mountains in the North. Scorch had mentioned once that there were some rather uncouth Nielda living there, barbaric even. Some of the travellers who had come through the Howling Axe clan's town had mentioned savage and ferocious Nielda who hunted powerful monsters in the snowy heights. It seemed to her that the best bet would be to start there while before she grew tired.

The road north was harsh. As she reached the first foothills she saw the roads narrow and grow little more than a narrow ravine, winding steeply up the mountains. Those who lived in the villages by the mouths of the path told her more of those in the mountains.

It seemed that most of the mountain folk had been here little longer than her lifespan. After the war, the battles on Mrococo, Anatolia, Decidua, and the raids across the empire many people had been discontent with the treaty. They felt that the empire should have retaliated in force, which in all fairness most Ga-Vok had expected. Most of these people had simply enlisted, expecting that it was only a matter of time before the Ga-Vok tried again; which it clearly was. Nethen and most of the rangers had been of this cut of the population. Others had not been content to wait, these mountain folks were of that brand. They chose instead to move to worlds like Gasca, where Nielda and Ga-Vok both dwelt, and to launch their own private retaliations.

That wasn't all that lived in the mountains though. One of the towns was lead by a mage, nothing spectacular but apparently quite fun at fairs and birthdays. He said that there had been people in the mountains before the raider clans had arrived. There was a clan in this particular range with a hidden stronghold full of riches. This clan hunted the local monster, a frost breathing reptile of some sort. Apparently they made some of the most amazing armor from the beast's scales. And the gland that allowed it to produce it's signature icy breath was worth millions to the Government, who used it in the manufacture of grenades.

After delivering the Call to Arms she began the journey into the mountains. Narrow ravines quickly gave way to glacial crags. On the tenth day of her journey she reached snd of the road, and camped looking out upon the mountains.

Friday, March 26, 2010

new look

Blogger released some new templates.
I thought this one looked nicer.

Chapter Three, Commision

"Then by the authority vested in me by his majesty the Emperor, the Council of Commanders, and the Court of Nobles I hereby commission thee, Lieutenant Alicea Stone of the 14th garrison battalion."

Commander Haelvan tapped Alicea on the head with the rod of order, a ceremonial sort of stick whose only other use was to inflict punishment on those who disobeyed orders.
"Rise Officer of the Imperial Army, and go forth to complete the tasks set before you."
Alicea stood up, her knees hurt from the hour she'd spent kneeling while she recited verbose oath of loyalty. She was glad to be done with that.

"Now hear your commander's first order."
She braced for the ceremony to continue in an equally boring and pointless manner.
"Don't get killed."
'Don't get killed'? That was it? She'd expected something like 'obey all orders henceforth and never dissent the will of the Emperor who Blah blah blah political nonsense blah blah'. To just be ordered to not die seemed awfully anti-climactic.
"I'll gladly obey that order commander."
"And I'll be glad to have you obey it Alicea. Your second order is the one you were commissioned for; bear my Call to Arms across all Gasca and bid its inhabitants to prepare to fight for their land and their lives. Send word back to me when you find a town or village large enough to field greater than a hundred men and I will send men to train and eqip them. Send recruits from smaller villages to the larger ones so that they can benefit from the training as well."
"Yes sir."
"And above all else, don't get killed. It was painful enough to lose you once; you wouldn't do that to me again, would you?"

It was an appeal by a father. But Alicea didn't think of him as a father. When she was a child who had taught her to walk? Who had given her the courage to stand against a fellow warrior in battle, helped her back up when she fell, and rejoiced beside her in victory? Who had taught her the patience of the oceans, to smell the earth as she hunted her prey, to dance and to laugh with the flame, and to sing with the wind while binding its fury to her blades? It would dishonor her entire childhood to simply thow aside everything Aurou had done for her. Haelvan was the one through whom her birth had come to pass, but Aurou would always be the one who had made her who she was.
But the Nielda would not understand that. Only Nond and Vel knew where she had come from, and refusing his love would be one of the harshest insults she could give. She may not have loved him, but Haelvan was a good man; he deserved at least the compassionate lie.

"Of course not, you have my word that I shall return safely. Should the whole of the Alpha's armies, with the Imperial Guard beside them stand in my way, I will return to your side."
She hefted her pack to her shoulders, brushed some dirt from her boots, set her axes to her sides, and her feet to the road.

Chapter Two, Call to Arms

"Alright, settle down everyone."

Commander Haelvan had decided to call a council. All of his Lieutenants, as well as the Town leaders; the wealthier merchants, the mayor, and the reeve; had assembled in a small ampitheatre within the monastary.
"Most of you heard the Ga-Vok earlier, or if you haven't I'm sure you've heard others talking about it. Does anyone need a recap?"
The general consensus was that they did not, although the scribe requested it for the records. He was told that a copy would be made available later.

"Well then, what do we do?"
"You tell us Commander. Isn't that your job?"
"This is not yet explicitly a military matter. For now the choice of simply leaving remains on the table."
"Nonsense, they have no right to evict us."
"We discovered Gasca, if anyone has the right to evict its inhabitants it's us."
"We should kick their sorry tails off this planet just for the impudence of thinking themselves our masters."

Haelvan held up a hand to silence the crowd.
"Then we can agree that we have no intent to leave Gasca?"
"It would seem so sir."
"Then let us consider our other options. We could attempt to appeal to the Ga-Vok and convince them to allow us to stay."

Alicea spoke up. "Not likely commander. I've heard of Tasand before, he was responsible for the invasion of Mrococo. I'm afraid his better nature is likely all we can thank for the three months we've been given. They call him 'steelcleaver', because of his ferocity and strength when he fights the Nielda."
"I had heard that. Perhaps an appeal to a higher authority?"
"Worse still, only Ga-Vok are allowed on Decidua now. Even if we could convince a Ga-Vok to speak for us any attempt to persuade the Alpha into changing his plans is considered an affront and questioning his judgement. Both are capitol offenses. I'm afraid reason will not work here."

Everyone had known what it would come down to when the council was called. They had just hoped they might be able to try a different course first.
"My men are incsufficent to fight the General's army. I will send word to my superiors in the hopes that we can receive reinforcements. But we must be prepared to fight our own battles if we must."
"A draft of all able bodied citizens then?"
"A draft is the last resort; if people will not defend their homes willingly than they are not worth defending. No, I propose that we send word to the other Nielda of Gasca, and send forth a call to arms. Let those who are willing and able fight, those who are not leave, and those who can not prepare."

~we should volunteer.~
Alicea tried to ignore the feral spirit. It had been easier within the civilized confines of the monastary. Still, she was restless. It had been several years since her journey, and after so many years as a hunter simply siting around and reading and studying and this cursed waste of time they called 'watching Television' she needed to get out.
"Commander, Allow me to carry the call."

He clearly would have prefered for his daughter, as distant as she may have been, to stay here in safety. But Nieldic traditions, and several by-laws, forbid preventing anyone from willingly enlisting.
"Very well, I'll have you commissoned as a Lieutenant at once. You can leave on Monday."
"Thank you sir."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Three; A Star to Guide Them Chapter One

No one replied(or if they did I didn't get it), so I'm just going ahead with the Great Ga-Vok war phase two, Gascan front.

Sunrise in the valley; there was no better way to start the morning.
Alicea paused to consider that thought. Actually, it was the only way to start a morning.
"Alicea, how are you today?"
"Another beautiful day on Gasca. What does the Commander have planned today?"

Lieutenant Nethen was officially nothing more than a regular soldier. In reality she ran the day to day activities of the Monastary, as well as nearly all of Commander Haelvan's needs.
Yes, all of them; apparently they'd begun dating not long after Kron's defeat. That had been three years ago. By Nieldic standards they may as well have been married.

Nond had returned to his work. Scorch was travelling with him now, it seemed the two had reconcilled whatever diffrences they'd had.
Vel was never far, Sickle Ear Lake had been slowly recovering from the warlock's malice.
The same could not be said for Ga-Vok/Nielda relations. Since the war many Nielda had come to Gasca. Unlike more distant worlds like Ukra or Sryia, Gasca was a world where both Nielda and Ga-Vok lived in considerable numbers. The Nielda it attracted were not trying to escape the war, they were seeking it out.

"Lieutenant Nethen, a group of Ga-Vok have approached the wall. They're flying the Alpha's banner."
"Have you told the Commander?"
"He's waiting at the gate. He sent me to fetch the two of you."

Alicea followed them down to the gatehouse. She could glimpse the goings on from the wall, but the gate itself was packed with civilians and soldiers alike.
"Nielda of Gasca." Declared their leader, a powerfuly built warrior. She drank in every detail of his appearance, as the local expert on all things Ga-Vok she would be expected to analyze the situation later.
"The Alpha in his wisdom has decided to offer the people of this world a chance to leave in peace. This world is now under the protection of the Confederacy. By statute 4, all non-Ga-Vok are considered to be in violation of the treaty. You have three months, after which the Alpha will consider his offer rejected. At that time I, General Tasand of the Blue Army, am authorized to remove you by any means I see fit."

"Tell your Alpha he can take his 'wise offer' amd shove it.."
"Peace Nethen, We are not at war. Tell your Alpha that we accept his gracious leneincy of three months. After that time we will see who remains on Gasca in defiance of his ordinance."
"You are Haelvan, whose men slew Kron the servant of the Alpha? I look forward to seeing your response."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Short Story: "Address to the Dying"

The Undead. There was no single enemy as uniformly hated amongst the Nielda. Even at the height of the first Empire, in the midst of the constant Ga-Vok wars the Nielda would set aside all prejudice to destroy even the slightest outbreak amongst humanity.

For Emperor Kvald III, this only made the current dilemma all the more ironic.
"Your highness, Lady Anath of Gasca has reported that they too have been hit."
"What of the Anatolians, any word from the stations or the surface?"
"Neither sir, it seems they got lucky for once. I'd guess the cultists didn't even realize there was anyone left on that light forsaken world."

"Has Admiral Casat responded yet?"
"Yes sir, the whole fleet was active on the border, no reported cases as of last contact."
"How many other fleets are in equivalent condition?"
"Four in total your highness; the Ninety-Sixth, Fortieth, the thirteenth..."

Staff Secretary Roven continued to list the military assets that had not been affected by the attack. Kvald knew that it didn't matter, one fleet would be enough to launch the counter attack. The real question was the one only he could answer.

"Roven, arrange a press conference in an hour. I need to address my people."
"Do you need time to prepare?"
"No, I think I know what needs to be said."
"Oh good, because we've already set everything up for you."
"Thank you, have my family meet me there."
"Those of them who can still walk are already there."

He entered the broadcast room. It had been designed to look like the throne room, only much more grand and with slightly less polished metal to prevent camera glare. His wife, the Empress Chasia, and three of his sons as well as his Daughter Holine, who had been on leave for Junsrew, were waiting in their appointed positions around the throne.

He sat down in the throne, took a deep breath, and pressed the override button; which caused every computer, radio, and holoprojector in the empire to turn on and begin broadcasting a direct, live feed of his message.
"Citizens of the Empire," He paused to hear his voice echoing as he heard himself from monitors around the room. "Yesterday, our great Empire was attacked by a small, dedicated organisation. This so-called Cult of Endless Death brought bombers out of the plane of travel into low orbit, allowing them to bypass many of our defenses. In under an hour every major city, military installation, and 98% of all the minor population centers had been bombed. But these were not mere bombs; they contained an artificially manufactured variant of the Undeath plague manufactured by the Lich Xanadu during the Frostbourne war."
He paused for affect. This was the first piece of information he'd stated that much of the populace would not have already known.
"Our scientists have worked through the night researching this new plague. And to fall into the cliche, I have good news and I have bad news."
He held up the researchers findings; for computer screens these would be zoomed in, to prove that they were actually what he said they were.
"The good news is that we will not be the rotten mindless wretches that have been seen in ages past; this is not a zombie apocalypse. The bad news is, there is no cure. This plague will leave our nation as nothing but an undead shell of our former self."

He had to stop here. This time the gasp came from within the room itself, not just the hypothetical gasps of a distant audience. The broadcast team were guards; they didn't even break a sweat over this sort of thing. Chasia was not nearly as stalwart.
"But Kvald, We're Nielda. This can't happen to us; our blood; what about our doctors? Surely there's something we can do?"
"I'm afraid not my dear. The plague is custom tailored to Nielda; and it works fast. It's extremly effective I'm sorry to say. We have reports of Ga-Vok pilgrims on Decidua dying within hours of exposure."
"But can't we use some sort of medicine, or magic even?"
He shook his head. He could see the panic in his wife's eyes, but much as it pained him he had to continue.

"Citizens, no, Brother Nielda. We must act at once. Soon it will be to late; Admiral Casat with the Forty-Ninth fleet will be leading the border guard, who are as of yet unaffected by the plague, in retaliation against the perpetrators of this crime. For those of you who go with him, I expect your best; the prayers and fury of the whole Empire are with you. For those of us who remain, the question is; How shall we go on now that death is our unwavering fate?"

Another choice

Again I offer a choice.

I can write about Alicea again, there are several books worth of adventures left to concoct for her.

All of my last set of choices are still on the table as well.

Send me an e-mail or Facebook Message with your vote please. I'm giving it a couple of days for anyone interested to contact me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Eight(final)

(sorry it's been so long since my last update. Had to think about this one, I've decided to take the short route.)

Petra came down to the Atrium. Sitting in the center of the room was a woman. She was armored, but it was under layers of bandages.
"Hello princess."
"Another assasain here for the bounty? You would think my subjects would have learned." She hurled a dozen bolts of shadow at the meditating woman.

They were blocked by a barrier of light that formed in front of her target. The figure rose and pulled a familiar hammer from her back.
"I just want you to know; I forgive you for leaving me bleeding and broken twelve years ago."
She blocked another bolt. Petra unleashed a wave of shadows next, fear begining to rise in her. It went unblocked and shreded the bandages, revealing Chesi's wounds to be healed.
"There is a power greater than any demon. He is my Lord, and he alone is worthy to rule."
"No one is more powerful than me."
"Time will see your opinions changed. I'll give you the time you need to set your mind staight."
Chesi slammed the butt of her hammer into the center of the Atrium. Petra realized instantly that she'd walked into a trap. The alchemical patterns drawn into the floor sprung alight as Chesi's power flowed into them.

"Good bye, old friend."
Chesi disolved into the patterns and the room was filled with light. Petra felt a flash of pain, then saw a door open.
"Welcome to the rest of your life, Petra Laerdsfeld. I'll be your guide."
"What's happened?"
"Think about it, you'll figure it out. I'll be back when you come to your senses; in the meantime, you can call me Dante."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Seven

The war continued. It continued for ten more years before things began to turn against Petra. In the end it was not her losses that undid her but her victories.

The death of Kora had left Kara distraught for years. But when she'd finally returned to the field she quickly rose to command; she may not have been the best at TacSim, but from the forefront of her troops she was rarely beaten.
Worse yet was the ally she brought with her. Knarf had spent the intervening years rising to power within the Ga-Vok confederacy. Through charisma, and his own magical prowess, he had overthrown the standing Alpha and replaced him. He managed to achieve the unthinkable and convince his people to join the Nielda against Petra's undead legions.

Petra herself lost much of her sanity in these years. Immortality can give you the strength to fight at levels greater than any mortal, but necromancy doesn't become any easier. She had limits, and she had long surpassed them. The price of controlling billions of ghoulish corpses across a hundred worlds was that she was no longer able to distinguish reality. The nightmares she'd inflicted began to slowly come back and haunt her waking hours. Yet even in her insanity she was a formidable opponent. Indeed, some would say that as she ceased to percieve what was there she began to see what couldn't have been known. Ambushes and silent fleets were attacked without warning or detection. The day before an attack would take place a million new enemies would arrive.

The final blow would come as it had always been meant too. And Petra, for all her insanity, knew the hour and the means of it.
"Specter why are you silent?"
"Oh, I'm just watching. It's big day for you empress of the dead."
"What do you have planned for me wight?"
"Me personally? Nothing until about three o'clock tuesday; then I get to introduce you to a world of pain."
As she began to ready a shadowy assault he quickly followed up, "Not my world of pain child; I'm just the paymaster. You've done some rather naughty things child, and they're coming back to haunt you. Meddle with demons and the demons will meddle with your line for eternity; for they are not the sort to forget a wrong or forgive a kind deed."
"Who are you? Never have I slain or fought any man like you."
"Good question; You'll know soon enough. Who do you think is going to come through the door behind me?"
Petra spun to guard against the coming intruder.
"No girl, the one behind ME. The door behind you leads to a closet. And that one a bathroom." he added as she turned again.

"Then what door do you mean you cursed shade?"
He stepped to the right, yet appeared to be left of where he had been before. Where he had stood a moment before now stood a door.
"This one. What do you think is behind this door?

Petra thought about all the horrible things that could be behind it. Demons, shades, but worst of all was the friend she'd left bleeding in this very atrium twelve years before.
"Actually; she'll come through that door, tuesday, two in the afternoon." He gestured to another door. This is not an exit door, it's a service entrance. As of today, it's quite holy. You see; my Lord is no longer behind it. Soon enough, you will be behind it. And then in time, I shall not be behind it."
"It's death. You want to kill me." She backed herself against one of the surviving collumns.
"No, there are enough people who want you dead without me being one of them. I simply know when, how, and why you die; then ferry you along to your next life. In fact, allow me to offer some advice. Go down to the arena, and fight her there." He kicked some of the rubble from the last incursion into her dark academy as he continued, "Hate to see you make more of a mess than you have to. A lot of people worked very hard to build this place."
Petra sat; thinking about her coming doom.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Six

Petra hurled another bolt, but Chesi was having no part of a magical battle. She cast a protective shell of light over herself to prevent Petra's dark magic from affecting her.

"You are stronger than last time. So am I."
Petra focused a narrow stream of power into Chesi's shield, shattering it like golden crystal.
Chesi swayed to dodge a pair of follow-up blasts. She lunged and her hammer connected with Petra's scythe, knocking it away. Petra teleported to it, and unleashed several more shadowy missles.

"Petra, you have to stop this. If you give up now you could just go into exile."
Petra shattered a pillar with another blast. "It's my birthright to rule the empire. No one can take that away from me." Chesi shielded herself again. "I'll give you once last chance, join me and take the throne you deserve. You don't have to die here."
Chesi let the next blast catch her in the chest. It slammed her against the wall, but no blood was spilled.
"We can't Petra. We're immortal, we can't die."

Petra circled the atrium as Chesi returned to the center. She was determined to defeat her opponent, but if she couldn't kill her she would need to get creative.
She began spinning her scythe; it's blade offsetting the rotation.
"But you can't defeat me either."
Chesi brought her hammer to bear. "I can knock you out, and use Alchemy to bind your power. I can't kill you, but I can make you wish I had."
Petra slashed the air, two collumns were reaped by the scar of shadow that formed upon them.
"You'll still have to knock me out."
Chesi teleported up to her. "Not as hard as you think."
Chesi's hammer began coming down. Petra lept back and brought her scythe across Chesi's leg. Blood spewed across the floor and the paladin collapsed in pain.

Petra stepped back and stared at her friend for a while. It took her a while to figure out what had happened. It was the scythe, she must have absorbed the Demon's power. It wasn't killing her, but Chesi's attempts at healing weren't working. Maybe Demons could kill immortals; she'd have to be careful of that in the future. Until then, she now had a way to win.
She cut again, leaving a gash across her arm. Another blow tore into her breast, and the back swing knocked her back sporting a new wound on her forehead.
"Looks like I win today Chesi. I'll be back every day to deal you another blow until you manage to drag yourself out of my palace."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Note on Blog; On the Powers of mages

I'd like to start by thanking everyone who's read my blog for doing so. I may not say it often but I value your input and your willingness to put up with my often long winded, rambling, and generally unpublishable grammar/spelling.

I do these sorts of side notes quite often, in case you haven't noticed. It's because I always loved the appendices. Think of this as the background information that most of the characters know, and I'm just putting out there for you to know.

Petra is the most powerful Mage to date; but what is it that defines that power?

Simply put, a mage's power is defined by their capacity to wield magic. Experience and natural affinity are the ruling factors therein.

Natural affinity is the most important factor for most mages. This affinity decides how well a magic user can grasp certain fields of magic. As an example, Alicea has a particular affinity for the air and lightning. Shecan still wield other sorts of magic, but she will always be most effective when she attacks with a bolt of electricity or a gale force wind. Not in damage, fire kills just as easily for her as it would for anyone else, but in energy use. It costs her less to use lightning than to use fire.
But natural affinity also defines how much total energy a magic user would have. This is usually set to a scale. The default scale is the 'T' Scale. A T0 would be a non-user, with a T11 like Petra being unthinkably powerful, and an above-average mage like Alicea being a T7. Immortals are held on an 'I' scale, which indicates experience more than affinity; that's an issue for another day though.
Average depends on the race; Nielda are not more powerful at max, but rather simply more powerful on average(few T1-T2 and more T3-T4 than humans). Ga-Vok average at about a T2, with a moderate total population. Jaguans average at a T5, but have a total magic using population of less than a percent. Gravagans average at T2, with a total magical population of 95%. In essence, average power rises as total pop lowers.

Experience is next most important. A mage's capacity to wield magic improves as they use it. If you do something a hundred times it comes more naturally than if you've only done it once. This is one of the reasons Immortals are epiclly more powerful than mortals; they've been doing this for so long they can drop a hail of pure unadulterated destruction over a square mile radius without even thinking about it, which is made all the easier by it's not really costing them anything. This is how Petra could stop armies in their tracks and command millions of undead. Magic costs an Immortal next to nothing; even for a new immortal, the cost of over exerting your power is gone. You just have to sleep it off when you're done. But even for a mortal mage, experience is critical to success in magic. Practice makes perfect.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Five

The Academy had been converted into a fortress. No one opposed her, not after what she did to when she arrived. The survivors had either joined her cult, or slipt out quietly. Those who hadn't now patrolled the halls or fought mindlessly on the front lines.

Zombies were no threat to a proper mage. Kara and Kora didn't wouldn't have even bothered, but Chesi wanted to force Petra to notice them.

And she did. They arrived in the atrium and saw her standing there. Her usual black robes and scythe made her presence obvious.
"So You've come at last."
Kara, ever the outspoken one, cried across the hall, "You will pay for what you've done Petra. You shall atone for your actions in blood!"
"Not likely."

The doors on either side of the hall sprung open and undead began pouring into the room. Chesi and Kara ran to stop them. Petra began hurling shadowy meteors down at them as she hovered in the middle of the room. Kora began deflecting them in order to defend her compatriots.
After nearly an hour of fighting Kora began to notice that the attacks were not emmenating fom Petra herself. Rather, they were coming from the shadows that cloaked the rafters.
She considered her options. Her energy was nearly spent, the perpetual shielding had been exhausting. She could either attempt to combat Petra's power directly by trying to dispel the shadows, an impossible task against her former commander's power. Or she could try a more mundane approach.
"Petra, this is for the people of Tara; who's blood shall never cease in its spilling and who's land is eternally left to the dogs."
She drew her sidearm and emptied all twenty rounds into Petra's black cloak.
The Magess made no atempt to stop her. Rather she took advantage of the distraction and appeared behind the seer. The scythe flew to its mistress, and Petra flung her adversary aside before catching it.

Kora slumped senseless against the wall. Kara turned to see the Necromancer bearing down upon her. She parried every blow Petra brought against her. But her sacrifice to Knarf had left her with a disadvantage in a fight. Petra wheeled to her opponent's left, and used the blind spot to throw her adversary to the ground. Disarmed and dazed Kara could only await the inevitable.

A sweeping blow came towards the daughter of Anatolia, but stopped short. In a rush of adrenaline Kora had intercepted the blow with her body. She had snared the Scythe with her arms, but the blow to her was mortal.
"Good bye sis; You'll make a great empress soon. Tell the puppy I said hello."
With her last breath Kora tore open a portal to Anatolia, and Kara was dragged through it still crying out to her twin.

Chesi stepped up behind her roommate of old.
"It was going to have to be like this all along, wasn't it?"
"We both know no mortal could have defeated me anyways. Which leaves only you." Petra turned to her friend. Chesi could see now what Petra had become. Her skin was thined and nearly transparent. Bone could be seen through what muscle the usurper had left. She retained only a trace of what little humanity had remained when the war began.
"Yes, this is how it must be."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Four

I'm glossing over the war. Any Nieldic history book has a chapter about it in graphic detail, with contemporary photographs, modern artistic interpretations, famous quotes and some poor soldier's journal entry. I'll sum up the action though.
Pinn struck first; Petra kicked his sorry rear back to Rhinsla. She raised his soldiers and preemptively attacked Tara. Tara proved to be a nightmare for the next twenty years; werewolves coming out at night and killing zombies; zombies tearing exhausted soldiers and werewolves apart; civilians locking their doors and thanking their good fortune that werewolf proofing a house is overkill for zombie proofing a house. And the logistics were horrifying for both sides, lots of little islands with high cliffs, no where for runways and few for docks.

The military entered on the side of Pinn when necromancy became involved. No surprise there, Nielda hate undeath in every way, shape, and form. Did them no good, Petra had managed to establish supporters during the first year of the war. Mostly just radical non-conformists, Depressed looking teens, and the occasional actual warlock; her Death Cult was able to sabotage the fleet and much of the army was lured into easily eliminated positions. The dead were all raised as soldiers for her.

Anatolia became involved once it was clear no one would be paying an enlistment bonus. But they managed to make the situation worse as Lord Athuln insisted Pinn give him supreme command in return for their services. Athuln was a fool, and less than half the commander Pinn was; by the fourth year of the war the army was broken and the fleet was an unsalvagable mess of supply lines and buearacracy.

The invasion of Ukra, which had been only minorly involved, was a mind numbing failure. Apparently, D-Day for the Ukra invasion was Mead Monday; in a rather less drunken stupor the Ukran people managed to rather easily bludgeon the invading ghouls to death using a combination of non-weapons usually only seen in an action movie. Petra's defeat there enheartened the Rebel worlds, who launched another attempt to reclaim the streets of Tara.

Gasca remained uninvolved, in spite of attempts both to invade(Petra) and to negotiate(everyone else). It was rumored that there was a prophecy saying that while they would win the war, Knod would die if they fought. It followed that he was buying extra time to sire an heir. If there's one good thing that can be said of the Gascans(and there are in fact several) it's that they have managed to produce fantastic heirs even when the heir is an only child, and further that they have managed to keep that line going straight and true since Lady Alicea. It's a better line than the Imperial one. But I digress.

The critical center of the war would come when Pinn sent a task force to kill Petra herself. A task force consisting of the three most powerful mages in the empire, who weren't Petra.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Petra was coronated publicly; although admittedly everyone but her at the coronation was muttering almost incoherrently. Resistance sprung up within hours, In no small part due to the efforts of the Nobles.

Her old TacSim rival, and the king of Rhinsla, Pinn was the first to rebel.
"People of Rhinsla." Although ancient even for a Nielda he still stood tall and his armor was brightly polished. He held his claymore, which he had used since his early days in the army, aloft. "Petra, daughter of Tania your empress, is a traitor and a usurper. She has killed her mother and brought the abomination of Necromantic undeath into our illustrious empire."
The crowd was Rhinslan. They were hardworking, upper-lower class blue-collar people. Rhinsla was the industrial heart of the empire, and it's people could live as well as lower class as most planet's inhabitants could as middle class simply out of reduced shipping costs. They, like the Tarans, were accustomed to Semi-despotic nobles who made wild accusations and staged executions at the drop of a hat; often during dinner so they could watch. They'd gotten particularly discerning about the truth during Pinn's reign; not because he was crazier than his ancestors but rather because he was well informed and more of his accusations were true. They saw at once that this was not a matter of personal profit or half-drunken lunacy.
The military had learned to pay attention to the Rhinslans over the years; increased recruitment levels there, coupled with decreased recruitment on Anatolia and increased weapon sales on Gasca and Tara, were a good indicator of a coming war. They should have known anyways, but rarely was the council of commanders as well informed as the significant nobles, or the underlying Ukown guild on Anatolia.

Pinn's rebellion was not alone. Days later the king of Tara announced that they too would fight the usurper Petra. Tara was a critical ally, the entire sector defered to his judgement in military matters. Ukra and Kanto brought their sectors into the fold as well. An alliance consisting of nearly a third of the empire now stood against her.

Two planets were noticeably absent though. The Anatolians continued to hold out for a wartime bonus from the military. No self respecting Anatolian would sign on until one was offered, and no one in the military would change the size of the bonus or risk a mutiny by those who had gotten the lower rate.
The Gascans were also absent. Lord Knod had recently suceeded his mother, and was by all accounts a good and wise ruler. Many planets refused to join until the Gascans made their move; it was a well known fact that if the empire had a good luck charm, it was a Gascan noble on the field of battle. Until one arrived, there would be no chance of victory.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Two

Aelfred opened the throne room door. Petra was trying out the throne for size. The empress stood off to the side emotionless and blank, almost as though she weren't even there.

"Ah captain. What did you need to talk to me about?"
"Your highness, could you step out to the garden with me. We need to have you review the palace detail. It's a tradition for new rulers."
"Of course, has the council made any progress concerning your succesor?"
"Succession is one of the things I hoped we could discuss in the garden."

Petra wasn't an idiot. Aelfred was good, most would have been fooled, but not her. As he turned towards the door she lashed out. He wasn't as off guard as she'd hoped.
He was old, in his late nineteenth decade. But the captain had not held his rank for lack of attempts to remove him. His stave spun around and he caught her bolt of dark magic on its tip.
"How could you child. Your own mother. Is nothing sacred to you?"
"Perhaps if she had been more flexible in her interpretation of the law this need not have happened, captain."

Aelfred flung the bolt aside and began backpeddaling. He deflected and absorbed her attacks. But while she could not see past the attempt on her life, he had but one goal in mind.
They fought across the room, and on down the hall. His defense was weakening, but with fervent strength he kept going even after several dire wounds. He reached the gate, and lured her into the gardens.
"You would usurp your mother. You would deem to rule the empire for eternity. For the glory of the Nieldic people, I banish you from this palace. Behind her the gates shut, and the glow of alchemy shone forth from the whole of the palace. The guard had locked her out.
"It will do you no good, captain." and she spat the word with contempt now, her condescension lost in anger. "Your life is forfit. But don't worry." She unleashed a wave of shadow, stripping him of his weapon and armor. "You can still serve the empress of the Nielda."
She swung her scythe, leaving her valiant foe bleeding before her. Then she called upon the shadows and watched their power seep into his lifeless form.
He rose and saluted her. He made no sound, but his very presence eminated fear and death.
"Death, empress of all, commands your obedience."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chapter Thirty-One

Aelfred gathered the department heads. The most important members of the court and council were attending via hologram.
"I've called you here because..."
"Captain, there's a woman here to see you. She says it concerns the princess, and that its urgent."
"Do you recognize her?"
"Then she can wait. Right now we're dealing with matters of state."

"Shall we take roll?"
"As chancellor of the court I move that the captain takes roll," said King Treng of Tara.
"I second it."
"All in favor?" Aelfred paused and counted. "All opposed?" Another pause, "Very well, the motion fails." Some grumbling and mentions of 'against tradition' were heard.
"Captain, why have we been called together at this time of year? And where is the empress?"
"I am considering her incapacitated."
Mumbling, some of it from his lieutenants.
"She's mumbling, and Petra insists she'd elected to abdicate in her favor. I've known Tania for decades, she'd have mentioned something this important before now. Something is wrong."
"Then ask her; what do you want us to do about it?"
"I'm putting contingency plan 36b into effect. Temporary autonomy, the guard will be locking down the palace until the situation is resolved."

Everyone looked around for a while silently. Most of the court logged out. Those who remained were uneasy. Utimately it was Lord Knod, who had recently suceeded his mother as ruler of Gasca, who broke the silence.
"Captain Spielgan, you know that I have the utmost respect for the Imperial family and for all who serve them. And that is why I feel it is nessesairy for you to enact protocol 98. My council has been listening in, and we have agreed that it is inadvisable to allow the princess to remain in the palace."
"Agreed, whether or not she is responsible she must be removed from the facilities."
"And what about..." the holograms wavered and transmisions broke off.

"To your stations men, this never happened. I'll escort her highness into the garden personally."

Captain Spielgan's log ends after this transmission.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Note: Imperial Guards; ranks, branches, and armanents

Since the Guards have now come up at several points I feel like this, one of the most important and ancient institutions of Nieldic society, should be further explored.

The guards are commanded, on paper at least, by a Captain. You may have noticed they have a wierd succesion for Captainship. The Guard assigned to protect the person who becomes emperor/empress becomes captain. The main reason for this is because the Ruler needs to know they can trust their captain and the best way to do that is to build a strong relationship from a relatively young age.
The reality is that the guards are commanded more or less directly by their department heads. The guards cover so many different activities that protecting the ruler, while their primary function regardless, is actually one of their least important responsibilities.

The Sage Program, which has been mentioned, was part of the natural magics department. This department subdivides into stellar; dealing with magic and phenomena in space, Planetary; (from which the Sage Program roots) which attends to naturally occuring phenomena on planets including shrines and sites of power present prior to the arrival of modern nations, and Biological; who deal with things like but generally less threatening than Dragons.
Enforcement was established during the Hundred years of peace that followed the Great Ga-Vok war. They exist to combat organized crime. This is actually one of the most straightforward jobs you can have in the guard because there's only one crime organization in the empire, the Ukown guild. Its establishment will be the subject of a short story or three at some later date.
Espionage is very straightforward. If a human encounters a Nielda, and they aren't offering to sell something, this is probably the sort of person you've just encountered. They start, stop, and prevent wars.
Protection does bodyguarding. There is always at least one guard accompanying any given Noble, Senior Commander, or Imperial family member at any given time. Additionally there will be several hundred guarding the palace.
Lastly there's maintenance. These are the Empire's clean-up crew. Varied branches of maintenance do everything from renew enchantments placed on Nieldic magical sites within the empire to the decadial internal purge of the government(believed by many to be the only reason the Daniellandish government isn't a complete nepotistic wreck of corruption and self-serving pride, they've been known to off Emperors when they decide it needs to be done.) If there was a secret society ruling the government from the shadows, these guys would either be it, or be killing it. It's made of ex-lieutenants and former captains; these guys are, for the most part, in semi-retirement. It's the kind of work where everyone in it has to be 100% proven reliable, patriotic, and with nothing to gain by being otherwise.

Guards are hand-picked, usually out of the military. A certain amount of guard families exist; the captain is traditionally a member of the Spielgans. Not because they are hereditary, rather because no other family manages to consistently produce mages of such caliber or street-smarts. They are where they've been for generations because for generations they've managed to get there, and when they don't no one hesitates to put someone else in charge. All guards are mages, or if not they are warriors of a quality sufficient to match, and usually defeat, mages in combat.

All guards make their own weapon when they complete their extensive training. The Weapon is traditionally a stave, although some guards prefer a sword. It is made of the material mages call 'Bloodstone'. Bloodstone is the product of a particular magical incantation, spoken over blood. It is among the three most magically conductive materials, and one of the two that can be used to make a weapon. The Guard always uses his own blood, taken over the period of several months. By using their own blood they can mold it with their own will, even if they are not a mage, allowing them to call it to themselves from anywhere and magic channeled through it will be more powerful. A guard is always cremated with his weapon; and both are dissolved with magic afterwards.
Guards are also known to carry sidearms, and like all Daniellandish combat professionals are never without their knife.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chapter Thirty

"Empress Tania, Lord Athuln is here to.."
Aelfred looked across the room. The Empress and Petra were having, for lack of a better word, what appeared to be a conversation. Only they were mumbling, and the empress disn't look to be enjoying it. As a matter of fact, she didn't look to be anything it; the blank expression on her face was very uncharacteristic of her.

"Ah Aelfred," Petra turned to the guard captain. "My mother has just decided to abdicate in my favor. That's what she called me in for."

Now he was no idiot. It took him about six seconds after she said that to notice everything that was wrong with the situation. First, the guards were missing; he'd been outside the only door into the throne room and they hadn't left. Two, Tania never mumbled; it had been a very important part of her ascension to the throne, people liked that they knew what she was saying. Third, Tania hadn't failed to acknowledge his entry into the throne room for as long as they'd known each other. Clearly something was wrong, but he had no court presentable evidence; yet.

The empress spoke up, not as clear or loud as she normally did. "Aelfred, could you call a press confrence for this afternoon? I'd like to announce the transistion as soon as possible."
"Of course Milady." He gave Petra a short bow. "Your highness should review the Guard. You will need a new captain."
Petra gave him a pout. "But Aelfred, I'd be honored to have you show me the loyalty you've shown my mother."
"Much as I would love to keep an eye on you, and be assured I will not neglect you; my chief responsibility within the guard has long been your mother's well being. Even if she is retired I still must protect her, there are some grudge-bearing malcontents who would still attempt against her life."

Aelfred turned and left. As soon as the doors to the room closed behind him he motioned for the guards there to follow him.
"Sergant Willcom, take a squad and secure the palace defenses. Sergant Jomiless, prepare the press room. If you need me I'll be in the communication center talking with any of the inner court members I can get a hold of. No guards are to patrol in groups of less than two, more whenever possible. Put the palace security level to full ready; something is wrong with the empress and I'm not certain what."
"Yes captain."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Nine

I'm skipping a bit here. Petra was quite distraught for the remainder of the school year. They closed the academy while they investegated the situation; death might be normal, but demons were, and still are, no laughing matter. In the end she'd covered her tracks well and they held the deceased Naron responsible for the whole debacle. Chesi disappeared; Knarf and the twins returned to Anatolia, he was actually the first Ga-Vok there since the sixth phase of the Great Ga-Vok war. Our next scene occurs in the Palace, where Petra had returned after some time spent abroad.

"Hello princess. Your mother is waiting for you."
"Thank you Aelfred." Petra was in a black robe. She'd gotten paler and more sickly looking than before. She was probably the most un-charismatic future ruler the empire had ever seen. If it weren't for the sort of feats she'd proven herself capable of she'd have been discarded in a second by the public.

Empress Tania sat on the throne. It was the throne the Junlaerd had forged. When it was called the throne of twenty kings, they weren't talking about the men who had sat on it, they were talking about the men who's bones comprised it. One of those men was the prince consort's, among several important figures, ancestor; the king of Stone.

"Well then mother; what did you want to talk to me about?"
"Petra, have you become..Immortal?"
"Yes, there was a fountain on Krove. Chesi and I both drank from it."

She sighed. The worst had come to pass then.
"I suppose it's just as well she passed up the throne then. Petra, are you aware of clause three of the terms of succession?"
"No." What did this have to do with her?
"Immortals can't hold Noble or Public offices. The council put it in place after the Junlaerd, to make sure there wouldn't be another undying tyrant. Succession should be a matter of buisness, not heroics."
"Are you saying I can't be Empress because of some stupid defunct old clause?"
Her anger began growing. Since the battle with Califrax something had shifted in her. She no longer suffered others to control her, and her patience was thin as rice paper.
"Well then, mother, if the laws forbid my coming to the throne I'll just have to change them."
"Petra I wish I could, but these are the laws of sucession. The ful court most be unanimous to change it, and even then a 90% majority of the people most vote to accept it. Petra, I'm so sorry."
"Then I'll make them vote. The people will elect me Laerd du Imstat and they shall do it happily."
"Petra, that can't possibly happen. King Pinn has already moved to have your citizenship barred for 'unfavorable life status' And Lord Nedierk of Mrococo went so far as to say you should be banished. There's no way you could achieve a unanimous vote now."
"Then you think I'm not powerful enough to make them?"
"It's not a matter of power Petra; you simply haven't got the sort of charisma it would take to convince them. And I don't like that tone of voice young lady."
"Who said anything about convincing? Mother dear, bear witness to the power of the next true ruler of the empire."

Tania may have still believed her daughter simply distraught, but the guards made no such mistake. Both charged to stop her from begining the spell. She spun and with a single gesture flung them into each other, impaling them on their partner's staves.
"Petra what are you doing?"
"The people should know who their new empress is; and who better to tell them than her own mother."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Petra awoke to blood. Not hers, It was familiar though. Then she saw his body. Alid had been slain, his weapon was missing. Whatever had happened there must have been a fight. He would have died defending her, but from who.

Memories began coursing through her mind. She saw the demon rising from the summoning circle; she was fighting it. Alid had come in to defend her, but someone had killed him.

She looked up and saw the demon. He was facing down a sturdy woman in armor. Neither seemed to be fighting. But her lips were moving, and she was..Kneeling? This must be the demon's servant; this was the one who killed Alid.

She hurled a mass of shadow bolts at the intruders. The demon was thrown back, he'd let his guard down in distraction. A barrier of light protected the other. The demon, what was his name? Califrax was it? He looked at her with something between mirth and awe.

"The servant awakens. Destroy the intruder then, and embrace your destiny."
"You killed him!"
"Petra, stay back; I still have a chance to banish him. You're not strong enough yet, you're to badly injured."
"You worthless wretch! You killed him."
"What? Petra you're delirious; Alid was dead when I got here."

She readied her scythe and knocked the offender aside; the woman's shield held but her concentration was broken.

"Petra, what are you doing? He's loose now."
"Indeed I am. Well done, now kill her."

Petra turned on Califrax.
"You, this is your fault. If I kill you this'll all go away."
"Petra you're in no condition..."
A blast of magic threw her deep into the crypt. Her focus on the demon was unbroken.
"I've spent years preparing to fight you, I'll not let your lackeys get in my way."
"Ha! You'll do your work perfectly. Let that fire burn, take it out on her."

Petra took the scythe in both hands and let the magic flow from her. The room changed, all light purged as her anger built. The alchemical symbols beneath Califrax changed of their own accord. In place of a burning dark evil, nothing but shadows. The barrier that had supported him faded and he stretched his wings and floated forward to the edge.
"What? You are the tool of my power. Your soul is mine fool."
"I am no one's tool. I will not be your servant as she is." Her blade cut the air, and the shadows matched her blows upon his wings. As he teetered on the edge she called out to him, "I banish you, By my blood alone shall you be free. SHADOWS, CONSUME HIM!"

And they did. Beasts came from the depths on leathery wings, arms like tentacles rose from the depths, and as they did she heard a chant rising from the depths.
'Ew reah dna yebo, ssertssim. Wodahs hcihw semusnoc, emusnoc mih."
And a Maw opened up within the shadows. She could feel it, it was the shadow so she couldn't actually see it.
The demon was dragged down into the shadow. He hung clinging to the edge for several minutes. Finally she stepped up to him readying the butt of her Scythe to push him off. She could feel his mind, it was powerful more so then any other mind she'd felt. But then the thought came to her, this was one of the most powerful beings in all exsistance; and he was at her mercy.
She smiled, and laughed. It was a cold laugh, all hint of mercy and compassion drained from it.
Then she put the end of the scythe to his forhead and filled her blade with his power. And with it pushed him off the edge.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Seven; Author's note

In all fairness, this is a secondhand account. Dante informed me of what happened later.
Alid broke through the door and saw Califrax drawing a pattern around Petra with a single claw. He lept into action. It was his duty as a guard to protect her, and he may well have been too late.

"Ah, the guard arrives. Here to watch your princess fall?"

Alid didn't reply. He rolled under the demon and snatched Petra from the circle. Califrax hurled a bolt to stop him, but he teleported back into the crypts and set her there.
"What did you do to her?"
"The power of a demon in battle was to much for her to bear."
He hurled another bolt towards his voice, but he'd cast his voice and a tomb shattered far from him.
"I must avenge her then. One of us must not leave this chamber."
Another bolt flew astray.
"Oh she's hardly dead. I've made..Precautions against such a possibility. She's quite immortal now; Time will not take her now."

Alid gasped; immortality was not only nigh impossible, but highly undesirable. If she was truly immortal than she was no longer his ward. So many things would be changed by this.
Califrax homed in on that slight sound. A flurry of bolts tore through his surroundings.
"Of course, it hardly matters now. She will be my hand in the coming years. Like your people, you will die."
Alid teleported Petra again. Immortal or not, he was obligated to protect all his people from the shaditha. He initiated an alchemical formula on the ground; He knew his limits. Perhaps his uncle could face down so powerful an opponent, but not he.

She could though. If she really tried; she'd have spoken to often, and toyed with him at first. But when she really tried Petra was formidable beyond anyone he knew.
He set a hand to the circle and activated its power. He had but to hold it off while its magic restored her strength.

"Demon! I am here, a Guard of the Nielda stands against you."
At first it seemed like merely the foundations of the academy shaking from his rising growl. There were hundreds of small dark objects moving towards him, but as he deflected them the growl rose and the bits of debris became a hail of demonic bolts.
He brandished his staff, guarding himself and his ward against the onslaught. Few bolts made their way past, destroying memorials to mages past. As they flew the demon came behind him and tore the flesh from his back. He felt his body alight with pain, and his legs lost their feeling.

He recovered from the blinding pain minutes later and saw the cursed angel channeling dark power into her motionless body. He drew upon what strength remained to him and hurled his staff deep into the demon's chest. As it flew, Light flowed to it, sharpening the bloodstone stave into a righteous spear.

Califrax recoiled, howling in agony as Alid succumbed to his own pain.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Six

The demon struck faster than she'd expected. Petra had always imagined them more as reactionary fighters, the sort who would dodge and taunt rather than simply strike. She dodged his blow, then spun to avoid a flurry of demonic bolts. The distance she'd managed to put between them gave her time to loose a shadowy bolt of her own. It splashed harmlessly against his steely armor.

"The shadow? A necromancer, a warlock trying to battle a demon? You are more foolish than I had thought. But for your power, I would leave your corpse in the dust."

A wave of magic rushed across the room at her as he laughed. She shielded herself against it with little difficulty.
"It's your corpse that will be left here."

She charged another bolt and aimed for his wings. He caught it with a single finger and held it up before his eyes.
"The shadow corrupts; the more you use it the stronger in it you become. It was all too easy to convince you to use it more."
He flung it aside, several blocks shattering as it detonated. He clenched a fist, power gathering within, seeping from between his fingers.
"It was a shame to sacrifice Azriak, but for a servant as strong as you it was worth it."

Petra relaxed the energy she'd been readying for her next attack.
"Azriak, the other demon? You knew of it, how?"
"I was there. I am never far from you. Kroxinian sent word from his prison that a powerful mage was to be born. One enhanced by the fountain, and bearing its blessings."
He released a beam of unholy energy towards her, scouring the wall around her. As it faded she lowered the barrier she'd conjured to face her foe.

"Ah, so you really don't know? I've been working your case since week six, day four. Your whole life has been preparing for you to become our tool."
"I'll no sooner be your tool than you'd be mine."
"I am Calfirax, corruptor of souls. You are already our tool, it is simply a matter of your accepting your fate."
He blasted the wall away, exposing the crypt to the edge of the mountain. As she recovered from the shockwave she spun. He was ready in front of her. As his claws closed on her she thought she could see a man sitting on one of the graves; robed in black. He was saying something, she couldn't hear over the demon's laugh but she could feel it in the air; 'not this time'. Then the darkness closed upon her.