Chapter 180 - Ripples Across the World
On a black, frothing sea, a fleet of sixty ships approached a spire that ascended endlessly into the heavens. Standing at the helm of a giant metal warship with three huge chimneys, a regal man with curly hair and deep eyes that shimmered with stars suddenly clutched his heart and collapsed to his knee. His body trembled as he grimaced and looked up at the fiery ring that had suddenly over taken the sun.
On a rock at the base of a crashing waterfall deep within nature, a bald monk with an emaciated appearance sat in lotus position in deep meditation. His body was transparent and shifted subtly in saturated colours. The sky suddenly grew dark and a black inky stain blossomed and spread through his body. The tiniest snarl appeared on his lips as he redoubled his concentration, fighting off the corruption within himself.
At the bottom of the world, a massive black metal door wrapped in heavy black chains rattled and boomed from the immense presence trapped within. This constant banging suddenly stopped, echoing off into infinity as the entity within the door took note of the changes happening far above.
At the side of a steep cliff whose base was obscured by fog, a young man with runic tattoos covering his arms and torso led a heavily laden donkey down a narrow rocky path. The donkey suddenly brayed, bucking and kicking violently as a demonic moon obscured the sun above. Seeing that the path was starting to crumble from the commotion the man grabbed the donkey by its neck with one hand and smashed it against the wall. The donkey went limp. The young man took the items on the pack and slung them onto his own back before continuing on.
A half-giant king dressed in rich silks and a headwrap sat upon a massive stone throne with a bored expression on his face. A dozen shackled men with beast-like features were forced onto their knees by soldiers in emerald green livery. The sky darkened and the fiery eclipse reflected on the king’s eyes as he gave out the execution order.
In a limitless void filled with radiant nebulae clouds and distant stars, countless drops of water swirled chaotically in a sphere. Each of the million tiny drops formed a ball which reflected an opulent underwater castle formed from white coral and wave stone. In one particular drop amongst those millions, a serpent with long whiskers opened his five eyes and looked off to a particular point in space.
On a blackened plain coated in a blanket of ashes, a young boy silently held out a glowing blue lantern. A heavy mist billowed out of the lantern, obscuring his form and freezing a circle of ash around him. Across from him a young girl with hooved feet, small horns and a ragged black dress giggled and danced under the orange light of the eclipse.
On the edge of a plateau, overlooking a vast desert fractured with wide, deep chasms, a figure with flowing red robes looked up at the twilight sky and laughed like a maniac. She cracked the reins of her giant saddled lizard, launching the two of them off the cliff.
In an ancient hall lit by the light of the full moon, a small bird flew in through the open ceiling and fluttered around the empty, dusty halls. It landed in front of a two storey tall set of stone doors with elaborate, mottled copper green framing. It hopped around, observing the circular flowered crest carved into the center of the doors before taking back to the sky.
In an endlessly white world, a maiden with flowing robes and long white hair frowned as the rich golden tapestry in front of her suddenly seized up and began to fray. She stood up decisively, reaching out to weave the illusory threads and save the worshipers gathered at her shrine.
Curled inside a lily flower, a child’s skeleton in black robes peeled back the edge of the flower to look up at the fiery ring in the sky. The skeleton shook its head, cackling to itself with a toothy grin as it retreated back into the flower,
“Deka, you impatient fool.”
The massive black hand that towered over the forest thrust up toward the fiery ring of the eclipsed sun. A violent hurricane formed an impenetrable barrier that prevented anyone from approaching the hand.
In the eye of the storm, the Demonic God of Life was reincarnating with Hakuya’s body as His vessel.
A maw dripping with black saliva formed under the cracking wooden mask. It showed a wicked grin before raising into the air with a howl of elation and victory - but that cry was suddenly cut off.
A splintered blade stabbed up through the bottom of his jaw as Char Char jammed her broken sword into his neck with all the force she could muster!
The black maw let out a bloodcurdling, gurgling screech as it spasmed in place, its body still constricted by the black tree trunk it was encased in. Char Char let go of the broken sword’s hilt, leaving it lodged in the neck of the reeling, half-revived God.
“No!” Beside her, Medusa’s eyes changed in an instant from joyous celebration to blazing rage and hatred. Her vine-like hair splayed out and came to life as they whipped toward Char Char. The Life Cultist’s face contorted into a bestial expression as she lunged toward the Kumin girl.
Char Char wasted no time, reaching down toward Hakuya’s waist in a smooth, premeditated action. The long, straight blade of Hakuya’s sword shimmered with aetheric power as Char Char yanked it out of the sheath and slashed diagonally at the charging cultist.
The cut happened so smoothly that Char Char thought that she missed.
Medusa staggered back as she clutched at her right arm, but only found a stub. All the colour drained from her face as she looked down at her dismembered arm and the thick locks of hair that were writhing in pain. A giant red gash bloomed across her body as she collapsed to the ground.
There was an earsplitting crack as the God of Life broke its right arm free from the tree and grasped at the broken sword imbedded in its neck.
The violent winds whipped at Char Char’s hair and coat as she raised Hakuya’s sword up, channeling her spirit into its glowing blade.
A spray of black blood gushed out as the Deka ripped out the broken blade in its neck and screeched in rage at Char Char. She didn’t even blink as she swung the sword down across its neck. The blade sliced effortlessly through the body, severing its head completely.
All the divine energy that was channeling into the body was suddenly released from the destruction of the vessel. A massive bolt of lightning struck the hand tree from the heavens, lighting up the area as Hakuya’s body exploded in bright arcs of raw aetheric energy. Char Char shielded her head with her arms as she was blasted into the air away from the tree.
Her back smashed against the trunk of one of the fingers of the giant hand and she landed ungracefully on the muddy ground. Her whole body felt like it was on fire, but even still she maintained her presence of mind. She clutched Hakuya’s glowing sword in her hand as she looked to the center of the hand.
The hand tree was completely ablaze with an eerie greenish light. Its limbs were flailing wildly, its wooden hands clutching at the sky even as they burned into ashes. Mulch, leaves and debris flew toward the center of the palm as violent winds flew into a black vortex that had formed inside the bisected body. It trembled and spasmed violently as parts of it bulged out and turned into eyeballs and limbs with twisted bodies. They emerged from the blackened flesh, pulling themselves free and plopping to the ground where they writhed away.
The demonic moon that blocked out the sun began to crumble and fall apart, slowly crashing down as the sun blazed behind it with a flickering light.
As Char Char watched this apocalyptic scene unfold, she saw some movement at the base of the hand tree. She quickly realized the shimmering, hard to place moment was Reid’s cloak. The hunter’s movements were confused and heavy. Char Char ran forward and grabbed his arm, pulling him to his feet.
“Char…?“ He muttered, one hand on his head as if fighting off a terrible migraine.
Char Char shoved Hakuya’s blade into the sheath at her waist. It was an awkward fit and the blade didn’t go in all the way, but it managed well enough for Char Char to free up her hand.
Char Char cast her eyes back to the flaming, disintegrating hand tree. She could feel the immense spiritual pressure weakening. Even the sky was brightening as the demonic moon fell out of the sky in pieces.
“Let’s get out of here.” She draped Reid’s arm over her shoulder. His body was heavy and sluggish as they took their first steps forward.
Her spiritual intuition triggered as several rifts opened up in front of her.
A number of men and women in slate grey uniforms stepped out of the portals.
Her eyes lit up as she saw the familiar face of an ash-haired officer.
“Finn!” She gasped.
Finn Mckenzie took a sweeping glance across the giant hand before nodding to Char Char, gesturing toward the portal that he had entered through. He had an air of importance around him as the other officers seemed to await his orders.
“Come quick. Let’s leave before anyone else shows up.”