Chapter 486: The Sword Paragon Part 1
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Chapter 486: The Sword Paragon Part 1


  Hollow Shade… The Western Wall…


  A familiar roar echoed in the night sky above them.

  Elzri Noir looked up with wide eyes, “Oh no…”

  Oshnyr landed on the wall with a heavy thud. The nearby soldiers screamed in terror and tried to flee. His spiked tail lashed out and sent them all careening off the battlements. 

  Elzri stared at the monster of the void in disbelief. The dragonbane’s body was covered with deep gashes, yet Elzri knew it was the same beast as before. Oshnyr’s head swayed towards him, and within his jet-black eyes was a glint of recognition.

  The dragonbane bared its dozens of razor fangs and roared hungrily. Dark ichor dripped from the beast’s wounds that did not seem to heal, yet it did not deter the beast’s rage.

  Elzri felt a chill run up his spine. He had left the monster with Holo, before flying to the wall. Clearly the injuries on its body meant she had overpowered the monster and yet, if the dragonbane was here, then did that mean Holo was…? 

  No, he couldn’t think that way; he couldn’t allow himself to. If anyone was capable of surviving these abominations it was the legendary mage who wielded Flicker magic.

  Elzri glanced around, hoping to catch some glimpse of Holo, but she was nowhere to be seen.

  Oshnyr opened his wings wide, the spikes at the ends dripping with scarlet blood, from the dead soldiers or Holo, Elzri did not know.

  The old archmage’s expression turned stony with resolve. The last of the Noirs stood a few meters behind him. Caligo had haunted his family for the last 700 years. He would not let the dark god take one more Noir life, not while he still had breath.

  “Sister, take Loh and Una and get out here,” he said without glancing back. Orange mana surged in his veins and blue flames sparked to life in his hands.

  Oshnyr suddenly leaped forward, claws, wings, and tail poised to strike. Azure flames exploded from Elzri’s right and left and condensed in front of him in a pillar of fire that crashed into Oshnyr. The dragonbane roared in pain as it fell backwards, the flames burning the more vulnerable parts of his exposed wounds.

  Elzri stared at the sight in shock. He hadn’t cast those flames… Elzri turned and saw his sister walking up next to him, azure flames burning bright in her hands.

  “I’m not a child anymore, Riri,” Una said calmly. “You do not fight this battle alone.”

  A small bittersweet smile crept up on Elzri’s grey lips. How long had it been? How long had he fought alone to protect their House?

  “Together…?” he whispered.

  “Together,” Una nodded.

  A sense of pride welled up within Elzri’s chest.

  Oshnyr stood to his feet with a growl, smoke still sizzling from his wounds.

  Una narrowed her icy blue eyes. “Those injuries…”

  “Lady Holo’s doing.”

  “Good. The beast is weakened.”

  Loh, Unalla, and the few remaining soldiers watched in silence as the greatest mages of Hollow Shade summoned forth their power. Orange mana swelled within the archmages. The scent of smoke filled the air and azure flames blazed to life around Elzri and Una.




  Hollow Shade… The Southern Gate…


  Elise, Seventh Lady of the Great House of Veres, commander of the first-class armies of Veres, and mistress of the legendary Gale blademasters, sat atop her centaur and listened to Lady Gale’s news with utter silence. Elise had always felt confident in her control of words and hearts, she always knew what to say to sway the minds of the most stubborn souls and to calm even the angriest of lords. And yet as Lady Gale spoke of the enemy armies swarming towards the molten gate, for the first time in many years, Elise was at a loss of words.

  When she had first received news of the strange monsters in the sky and how they had struck down the armies of shades and the wall itself, Elise felt as if she was in a dream. None of this was real. But now, not half-an-hour later, she felt as if she was in a nightmare.

  “We must reinforce the soldiers at the molten gate, we cannot let the enemy breach the city!” said Lynette in a valiant voice.

  Like every Veres, Elise was assigned a personal guardian of House Gale. For Elise, it was Lynette. The two of them had spent their entire lives together. Lynette had shadowed her every step of the way towards her climb to power. So long as Lynette was by her side, Elise felt safe, in control, like there was no challenge too great they could not overcome together.

  Elise felt no such sense of comfort as she looked upon her best friend.

  “We cannot reinforce the soldiers at the molten gate,” Lady Gale said bitterly.

  “Why not!?” Lynette asked indignantly. “They need us!”

  “The enemy numbers are too great. They won’t just attack the molten gate. If we leave our post then the south gate will fall as well and everyone left here will die.”

  Lynette bit her lip. “Lord Glaz’s army is here, they can stay and defend the southern gate while we head to the molten gate.”

  “The reason both our armies are here is because both House’s soldiers were depleted in the skirmish in the valley. We do not have the numbers to defend both gates,” said Gale bitterly.

  “So what? We just stand here and let them be overrun at the molten gate?!” Lynette cried out. She turned to Elise, “There must be something we can do!”

  Elise blinked. “...Something… we can do…?” 

  “My Lady, what are your orders?” Lady Gale asked grimly.

  Elise slowly stared between the two Gale women. She realized they were asking for her insight, for an answer that could somehow solve this bloody mess.

  Elise chuckled quietly to herself and balled her small gloved hands into fists. This realm, no, this entire world was ridiculous. She had no answers, the only thought coursing through her mind was sheer frustration.

  Her entire life, Elise had spent trying to survive in the House of Veres. She had struggled to thrive in the shadows of her own siblings. How many countless hours had she spent trying to master the black magic arts of her family? Only to be outshined by both her elder siblings again and again. Thanks to the personal tutors of House Gale, her sword skills were far above the average swordsman, and yet they paled in comparison to her younger sister, Ava.

  The late Lord Eldrin Veres had spent his time grooming his eldest child and heir, Carmilla, in the ways of martial warfare, for which their House was known for. He had spent little time teaching Elise any such knowledge. Elise expected nothing else, her whole life no one had expected anything from the 3rd child of Lord Veres. Carmilla’s star was too bright, all eyes were focused on her.

  That was fine with Elise. She would grow in the shadows, greater than any of them. She had devoted her time and energy to learning and mastering the deadly political web of Hollow Shade. This was her domain and she ruled it well. When the opportunity finally arose, she hadn’t hesitated to consolidate her power. Carmilla was dead, slain in battle. Ava and Feryd were both dead, poisoned by her own hand. Only Callum, her beloved younger brother, lived.

  The throne of the Great House of Veres was finally Elise’s and only hers. After the deaths of her siblings, she had swiftly crushed any potential rebellion and took full control of her House. Her vassals and servants were loyal, the other lords and ladies feared her, and the power of House Veres was on the rise once more. She had worked her entire life for her ‘seat at the table’ and now everything she knew was on the verge of collapse because of some barbarian warlord and these monsters of forgotten legend?

  The world was ridiculous indeed.

  Lynette and Gale stared at her silently, a hint of worry building up in their expressions. Elise laughed. They wanted answers? She had none to give.

  An interesting sight in the corner of her eye caught her attention. A scout was giving Lord Lucius Glaz the news. The drow’s face slowly turned dark as he no doubt realized the dire situation. As Elise watched him, she noticed a glimmer of light in his eyes, the cogs of his mind working to solve the problem.

  A small fire of hope sparked in Elise’s heart. Lucius had been trained by his late mother, Lady Ayda Glaz, the only mage said to have rivaled Elzri in power and wit. If there was anyone here who might have an idea of how to get out of this clusterfuck it was him.

  Lucius suddenly met her gaze and with a determined expression, he turned his centaur around and trotted up towards her.

  Finally, Elise sighed in relief.

  A pale blur dived down from the sky and crashed into the middle of the stationed armies like a thundering meteor. Chunks of rock ripped out of the ground and flew outwards, ripping apart soldiers in chunks of viscera and steel. An explosion of dust and smoke blasted away anyone in a twenty-meter radius.

  Elise hadn’t had a moment to react. Lynette jumped off her centaur and tackled Elise to the ground as the blast hit them. The world went dark, the soldiers’ torches doused in an instant.

  A high-pitch noise rang in Elise’s ears. She blinked blearily. Her scarlet vampiric eyes took a few moments to adjust to the darkness. Someone was saying something, but she couldn’t quite make it out.

  “...sive cir… dy has… llen…!”

  It was Lady Gale’s voice she realized dimly. A warm liquid trickled down the side of Elise’s forehead. The scent of blood pierced through the smoke and dust. She was bleeding, some small part of her mind whispered, but it didn’t seem all that important. She tried to stand, but her legs felt weak. Lynette was suddenly there, lifting her up by the shoulders.

  “...can y… stand!?” Lynette called out.

  “W-What…?” Elise blinked slowly.

  “Can you stand!?” Lynette’s voice sounded more clearly.

   “Y-Yes… I think so…” she mumbled.

  “Defensive circle! Our lady has fallen!” Gale’s voice rang clear in the air.

  Several Gale warriors dressed in their icon blood-red cloaks had already formed a protective circle around Elise and Lynette, swords and shields at the ready. Lady Gale stood in front of them, shouting orders. Veres soldiers scrambled to their feet and hurried to form ranks.

  Elise glanced around in a daze, trying to capture the situation. Clouds of dust were slowly fading away, revealing hundreds of crushed bodies, many little more than scrapes of red on the shattered cobblestone.

  The deep blue armor of House Glaz’s elite mage-guards caught her eye. They were in a small pile a ways away. Shards of rock had torn through their armor and flesh. At the center of the guards was Lucius. His centaur lay on top of him, his upper half gone, no more than viscera in the wind and earth. Lucius lay prone, a chunk of rock embedded in his chest.

  What sort of power did this…? she wondered in horror.

  As the smoke cleared, Elise saw her answer. A large silhouette amidst the dust clouds. A group of Glaz and Veres mages encircled the dragonbane, Nethlas. The monster stood as tall and as wide as a small house. Bolts of fire, lightning, and light struck her pale translucent flesh to no avail.

  It’s immune to magic…!

  Nethlas whipped her tail around her. The spikes at the tail’s end tore through the mages in the blink of an eye.

  Elise felt her body stiffen in terror. She hadn’t seen it. The tail had moved in a blur. The mages had been there and were suddenly gone, only bits of bones and flesh remained in spatters of blood.

  “FIRE!!” Lady Gale shouted.

  The Veres archers drew back their bows and loosed volley after volley of arrows. The wooden shafts broke apart as they clashed harmlessly off the beast. It was as if they were shooting at a stone wall.

  Weapons don’t work either…! 

  Nethlas laughed a deep dark rumble and eyed all her prey hungrily.

  “RETREAT!” Gale called out. “RETREAT!”

  Elise’s knees gave out and she collapsed on the floor. It was hopeless. There was no killing this beast, this nightmare.

  “My lady!” Lynette said panickedly and rushed to her side.

  The earth abruptly shook under their feet and a loud grating noise echoed behind them. Elise slowly turned around. A large boulder that had crashed into the garrison was shaking. Beams of wood and stone bricks shifted away as a lone man hefted the boulder off him. The elder vampire dusted off his clothes and his trimmed salt and pepper beard.

  As Glaz and Veres soldiers scrambled away from the dragonbane, the old man walked forward, and with each step, it seemed almost as if he was growing taller. Lightning crackled at his fingertips and with a quick snap of his wrist, bolts of lightning flew out and struck Nethlas.

  The lightning arced off her flesh in bright blue sparks before being absorbed into her body. Nethlas cocked her head to the side and stared at him, a curious look in her black eyes.

  “Huh…?” Gian blinked in surprise. It really is immune to magic, he thought. Among the city’s archmages, his magical prowess was on the lower end of the spectrum, but he was still an archmage. For his magic to do nothing…

  Sensing his thoughts, Nethlas scrunched her snout and pulled her grey lips back in a horrid smile, black teeth slick with blood and saliva.

  “Uncle, run away!” Gale shouted.

  Yet Gian Gale did not take a step back. He strode forward until he stood in front of Nethlas and stared her down without fear. 

  Nethlas growled a gravelly noise and narrowed her eyes. Her spike tail swayed back and forth, slicing the cobblestone around her.

  Without breaking eye contact, Gian drew his sword, Primoria. “I am the Shield of Veres, be it monster or man, here I stand—”

  “Uncle Gian!” Elise cried out panickedly. “Steel doesn’t work on it—!” 

  The dragonbane’s tail whipped out in a blinding flash and struck Gian. Before he could even move, his body split in two in a spatter of blood. Nethlas pulled her tail back, blood dripping from its spikes.

  “Nooo!” Elise cried out.

  Gale stayed silent, whether out of shock or horror, Elise did not know. She turned to see Lynette’s expression, but Lynette’s face held a similar expression to her cousin’s. Elise slowly turned back to the gruesome scene. Her heart skipped a beat. Gian stood in the same spot, his body intact.

  “I am the Shield of Veres,” Gian spoke coldly. “Be it monster or man, here I stand, and I shall not falter.” He raised Primoria’s golden blade, it was slick with black ichor.

  Nethlas furrowed her brow and glanced at her tail, a deep gash ran along its length and oozed black blood.


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