Behind the temple, a tall man in saintly robes with a kindly looking face was briskly walking in the hallway along with other men garbed in similar attire.
“Hurry up. We don’t have much time. We must bring back as many of the relics as we can.” asserted Bishop Kurst as he led the men along the halls.
Soon, they arrived before a statue of a fully armored knight adorned with gold and ten pairs of feathery wings. On the base, there was a golden plaque with the words engraved on it, “SERAPHAEM, Holy Lord of Dominion and Authority.”
“It’s a shame that we won’t be able to see our vision come to fruition, but at least our most gracious Lord has seen our devotion.” sighed Kurst as he reached out towards the sword held by the statue.
Before his hand could reach the sword, a great ball of stone attached to a chain smashed into the statue, shattering it to pieces.
“…Really now. Was it really necessary to destroy our Lord’s image just so you could prevent our exit?” asked Kurst with a frown as he turned towards the hulking being standing behind them.
The giant of a man, Harkwall, responded with a snort, “Narthaniel Romulund Kurst… that you would stoop so low as to procure the aid of these vile serpent worshippers… to think I was foolish enough to believe that you stood on the side of humanity. Surrender… and perhaps you’ll be shown leniency as a man of your position… under the judgement of the crown.”
Slowly clenching his fists, he added “But if you so choose to resist… *crack* I welcome it… *crackle* very… *pop* much…”
Kurst sneered as he watched Harkwall’s display and said, “That’s ‘Your Excellency’ to you. And do you honestly believe you can capture all of us in your state? Looking all tattered, you look as though you’ve escaped from prison. Ah, my apologies. I believe you were indeed imprisoned, weren’t you? So, how did it feel… to be so powerless… to be reduced to the wastrel you are?”
Harkwall harumphed as he clenched the chains of his makeshift weapons while exclaiming, “You’ve gone senile if you believe I can’t do anything to you in this state! Now, beg for your lives as I rip you apart!”
Harkwall raised the chains high and swung both down with such force that it created waves of air that blew in all direction. Rending the earth and marble tiles, the chains tore the ground as their stone-hammer-ends fell towards the robed men.
Calmly, the men before Kurst raised their arms as they formed a barrier of light before them. Striking towards the wall of light, the stone smashed with such force that the very earth caved, and yet… the wall of light stood firm.
“Is that all?” mocked Kurst, but as the dust clouds formed from the impact settled, Harkwall was nowhere to be seen.
His eyes narrowed as he looked around, but soon looked up upon realization. From above, Harkwall fell with his arms raised and his hands balled into fists and directly smashed onto the wall of light. His arms glowed an eerie silvery-blue just as he smashed onto the barrier, this time shattering like brittle glass.
His attack was far from finished, however, as his fists descended and tore the ground scattering stone and dirt in all directions causing earthen shards to burrow onto several men, drawing blood.
Grabbing two by the neck before they could cast spells, Harkwall stepped forward dragging them by their broken necks as he confronted Kurst.
“Now… are you prepared to beg for mercy?” he said menacingly towards Kurst.
“Heh. Hardly.” sneered Kurst as he calmly clasped his hands behind him.
“Impudence!” yelled out Harkwall as he threw one dead man away and raised his fist and threw it at Kurst.
Instead of the sound of crushed bone, however, his fist made a sound as if it hit a wall of flesh.
Seemingly appearing from nowhere and catching his fist with a cloth covered hand, before stood Harkwall a giant of a man. A head taller than him and wearing a grey cloak with his face hidden by a hood, the man laughed as he towered over Harkwall.
“Heh heh… I remember you… you’re one of the few who didn’t break after fighting me. What was your name again? Hark-something? Ah, right… Harkwall.”
Harkwall’s eyes narrowed as he tensed his muscles and made to throw a punch with his other free hand. The result, however, remained the same as the man caught his other fist. Both men now pushed against each other as a show of strength.
“Good, good… you haven’t lost the fight in ya’…you’re a special something you are…” the man revealed a smile that appeared to grow impossibly wider as he slowly pushed down Harkwall, showing the difference in their power.
Instead of backing down, Harkwall tensed his body in response. “I admit… you’re more powerful than I’ve ever expected… and lost because of my foolishness… but… this won’t be enough to best me again!”
Pushing against the hooded man, Harkwall suddenly grabbed his wrists and pulled his arms to the side. The action being so sudden, Harkwall used the momentum to lift himself and kick forward with both legs, sending the hooded man flying into the rubble beside Kurst.
The man got up slowly to steady himself, but not before a wave of power surged and blew all around them.
“Ah… this… might be a problem after all.” said Kurst as he looked upon Harkwall and frowned.
A blue light surged from Harkwall as a red spirit-like entity descended onto him, turning the aura around him burning red and akin to flame.
“Hmm… this will be tricky… I did expect him to be an Apostle of Arges, but… not an Ascended…” the hooded man said casually.
“Indeed… the God of Valor rarely lends his heroic familiars… it seems that he was more favored than we thought. He’s truly serious now; we can’t expect the same results as before.” said Kurst as he prepared several spells.
As the red flame-like aura calmed, it wrapped itself around Harkwall’s form. His skin became like gold with an orange glow as if it was being tempered by fire. Soon, his eyes opened revealing two shining stars that seemed to burn one’s soul as they stared into it.
“Vulkratos… the monster hidden by the Serpent’s Shadow… let’s see if you are indeed… Deathless!”
As if speaking with two synchronized voices that echoed seemingly in all directions, Harkwall leaped and descended on them like an angry golden god of fire.
‘Ninjas! These guys are fucking ninjas!’
Those were my thoughts the moment I fought these bird-masked bastards.
Running across the walls, jumping from the shadows, throwing weapons, smoke and misdirection… these bastards practically use the same kit as ninjas. Bird-themed magic-enhanced ninjas for that matter.
These guys kept harassing me using bait and run tactics that were driving me nuts. They weren’t actually doing much damage since not a lot of them had Obsidian or Mithril based weapons, but they kept sticking to me like flies on poop, distracting me to the point that they’re not giving me an inch to do much.
Normally, I’d have brought down the fury of hellfire on them, but I can’t risk hurting Vai. Speaking of which… she’s actually kicking their asses, so I can’t really say she’s being deadweight. Far from being a burden, it’s actually starting to get easier to move around thanks to her causing chaos.
“Vai! How could you betray us!?”
Hm? One of those bird-bastards locked blades with her and started talking to her. He’s a big fella too with an intricate silver mask.
“Answer me, Vai! You were so close to being free! Why would you turn on the Master now after all he’s given you!?”
Yikes… this is becoming one bad drama. I hate betrayal and all that, but… can’t help but feel that this is my fault after what I did to her.
“…you’re wrong Orsul. Master Korvo only made me what I am since I was useful to him. You know my condition… I was never going to be free… I have learned that what I have could have been cured, but this truth was kept from me… all so he could keep using me!”
“But… But! You could’ve had a higher position! Your place in the Order would’ve allowed you to have everything!”
“No Orsul… not everything… that which I’ve sought for my whole life… has been given to me… by my new Master! And I swore to give my everything to him in return for saving me!”
“You!...then… that means…?”
The guy actually stopped what he was doing after that exchange with Vai… looks like these two have some history. I can’t see the dude’s face but I can tell he’s depressed based on his actions.
On other matters, thanks to Vai’s earlier assistance, I’ve managed to clean up the rest by stacking them on a pile in a corner. They’re all banged up with some bruises and probably a few broken bones, but I made sure not to kill any since I wasn’t sure if any of them were her friends.
“Looks like we seem like a joke to you… lizard.”
Somehow, being called that now grinds my gears more than it used to. I snorted while looking towards the golden-beaked bastard as I separated my double-bladed glaive in two.
“I’ve seen how you fight… and to be honest… I’m disappointed.”
The smug bastard hasn’t moved an inch while he kept making fun of me. Makes me feel like he’s up to something with all his provocation.
My thoughts were soon proven as I leapt to avoid the black spikes that formed from the shadows below me. If I hadn’t heard from Vai what his weapon could do, I’d probably be in more trouble.
“Ho… looks like you’re not as foolish as I heard you to be. Looks like my fool apprentice told you some tricks about me. No matter… that won’t be enough for you to win. Once I’m done with you, I’ll also be sure to punish that foolish meat of a girl.”
…Ok, consider me provoked.
One thing I’ve learned from the girls back in the Pavilion, is that girls under a Dragon’s protection become treasured by said Dragon. In other words, I can no longer ignore anyone insulting Vai after having done it with her.
And anyone who insults my women… become charcoal!
I roared as flames surged from my mouth and enveloped the bastard in front of me.
Looks like he wasn’t stupid enough to try and block my flames, and instead actually escaped by seemingly sinking into the floor avoiding my fire breath.
Shadows from all over started darting towards me like tentacles intending to impale me. With a flip of my wrist, I spun the glaives cutting into the dark tendrils as I ran to avoid contact with them.
I noticed that in order to attack me, he had to surface from the shadows, so each time he did, I blew a fireball at him. If that wasn’t enough, every now and then I would shift the earth a bit to displace him or fire air bullets in his direction. My magic control may be limited, but it didn’t mean I couldn’t utilize it. I even shifted my form to be more agile so I could keep up with him.
Looks like he’s getting frustrated, as he suddenly appeared in the open with his shadow arms keeping me from getting closer.
“You’re more troublesome than I expected… in that case…”
He suddenly turned towards a different direction and sent his tendrils towards… the guy from earlier.
Vai tried to tackle him out of the way, but being almost three times her size, that wasn’t going to happen so smoothly. This guy was being depressed in the worst time.
Vai could have avoided that seeing how fast and wary she was, but it looks like she’s not willing to let this guy die. Just my luck to have to save a girl from saving her possible ex.
I made my move as soon as I saw him look in another direction, so I was able to throw them out of the way in time.
But… I wasn’t able to escape as the tendrils soon overshadowed me.
The last thing I heard was Vai’s scream as my vision soon went dark.