Chapter 489: The Children of Noir Part 1
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Chapter 489: The Children of Noir Part 1

 

  …Hollow Shade…Southern Gate…

 

  Nethlas dug her claws into the ground and roared, the air itself vibrating with a biting cold edge.

  Gian did not falter and walked on. “I am the Shield of Veres,” he spoke calmly. “I am the Sword of our Blood and the bane of our enemies. Be it monster or man— this shall be your end.”

  The dragonbane charged, her every step ripping apart the cobblestone and shaking the ground. Gian leaned forward and ran at her. He shifted his feet as she drew close and jumped aside, running Primoria across the open wounds on her ribcage. Life energy coated the golden blade as it slipped between the ribs and sliced into her lung. Nethlas jerked back and tottered several paces away.

  As I thought… Gian wiped the black ichor off Primoria’s blade with a flick of his wrist. She’s slower. Her deeper wounds haven’t fully healed yet.

  Nethlas bared her black glistening teeth and muttered something in an alien language, her voice deep like the ocean.

  She’s angry. Good.

  He poured more life force into the Primoria, sharpening the golden edge until the sword glowed with power. Despite the wounds covering his body, Gian stood up straight and grinned wide. “Come on now, is that all you’ve g—?”

  Her tail whipped out in a flash. Gian swerved underneath the stinger and slashed Primoria between the tail’s protruding spikes, slicing to the bone. Nethlas shrieked and pulled her tail back, its latter half hanging limp and dripping black ichor.

  Gian glanced at his blade. It had taken all the life force energy coating the blade to cut through the flesh and still Primoria was unable to cut entirely through the bone.

  He smiled bitterly to himself. Greatest sword and swordsman in all of Hollow Shade and we still can’t cut through that beast.

  He could feel his strength fading. His legs were ever so slightly trembling. He wouldn’t be able to keep this up for long.

  His slight lapse in focus was all Nethlas was waiting for. She leaped at him, surging into the air. Gian noticed a moment too late, but instead of running, he held his ground. Just as she landed atop him, he dashed across her underside and fell into a dance of steel, slicing the exposed muscles on each of her limbs, before narrowingly escaping between her legs.

  The dragonbane spun around, but her limbs crumpled underneath her and she collapsed in a heavy crash. Gian jumped atop her and sprinted across her back. Nethlas turned her neck and snapped her jaws at him. This time, he was prepared, and he jumped atop her snout. Nethlas widened her eyes in surprise and pulled her back. Gian pushed forward and drove Primoria through her pitch-black eye, driving the blade deep.

  Nethlas jerked and shook her head from side to side, Gian held on tightly and drove Primoria deeper. She stiffened and her head fell over with a sharp gasp. Her body spasmed for a few moments and then the white light in her eyes faded away. Ichor leaked out from the eyeball.

  Gian felt the last of his strength leave his body and he fell over. Gale dashed and caught him as he was about to hit the ground. He winced, the pain of his missing arm suddenly becoming very apparent.

  “Uncle! Are you alright!?” Gale asked desperately.

  “I’m…” his voice trailed off. His eyes wandered over to Nethlas’ corpse. Her wounds were still trying to heal, albeit slowly and failing. Perhaps it would be best to leave Primoria in her skull for a little longer.

  “Elise… Where is Elise?” he mumbled.

  “Lady Veres is fine. Lynette took her away, most likely to the manor. You should head there now. We have several healers on standby there. I’ll have one of my cousins take you.” 

  “...I can’t.”

  “What?” Gale frowned. “What are you talking about? Uncle, you’re missing an arm and you’re covered in blood!”

  “I’ve stopped my bleeding,” he muttered.

  “Even still.” She shook her head, “Even with all your life force skills, you need proper medical attention!”

  “We can’t leave. If the southern gate falls then the enemy will breach the city and then there will be nowhere safe for Elise.”

  “And what of the molten breach? Those monsters burned through a section of the wall between this gate and the western gate. There is no way to stop the breach now.”

  Gian glanced at the remaining Glaz soldiers helping each other up and out of the wreckage left behind by the dragonbane. The few noble guards left, the elite battle mages of House Glaz, cradled Lord Lucius’ body in their arms. They said nothing, but it was clear their will had been broken. They had failed to protect their Lord, just as their predecessors had failed to protect Lucius’ mother, Lady Ayda, in the battle of the valley.

  “...We can’t leave them,” Gian said. “The Glaz army cannot defend the gate alone.”

  Gale bit her lip and thought quietly for a moment. “...I’ll have our soldiers stay with them to defend the gate, while our House’s swordmasters and I head over to the molten breach and aid the defense.” 

  “It will not be enough. If another one of those beasts shows up, they will need the strength of the Gale swordmasters.”

  “And what of the breach? Surely Marek’s armies are rushing there now. It will be overrun if we do nothing.”

  “The warlord’s armies are great, larger than any we have ever seen. They have the entire city surrounded. Yes, they will rush to the breach, but they will also attack the southern gate as well. We must stay and fight.”

  “And the breach?”

  “...I believe there is still some strength left in the people of this city. We must do what we can here and trust our allies to do the same at the molten breach.”

  “House Noir and House Katag’s armies are stationed at the western gate…”

  “...Yes.”

  “You’re saying we should trust the two Houses whose scions were responsible for the death of Clypeus?”

  Gian opened his scarlet eyes and looked at her steadily. “I am. The deaths of our loved ones should not outweigh the living we still hold dear.”

  Gale licked her lips and nodded anxiously, “Then we will fight. For Elise, for our family, and all the ones we’ve lost.”

  Gian nodded with what little strength he had left. “Yes.”

  “Only if you go now to the manor and have healers look after you.”

  He furrowed his brow, “Gale, I can still—”

  “I won’t budge on this, uncle.” She glanced around the wreckage and corpses lying on the ground, “I’ve lost too many already.”

  “Very well,” Gian smiled tiredly, “You are growing into an excellent leader, my lady.”

  Gale cracked a small smirk. “I have to. We are the Shield.”

  “We are the Shield,” he repeated.

  “Lawrence!” Gale shouted at one of her cousins. “Carry our uncle safely back to the Gale and Veres manor.”

  Lawrence rushed over. “Yes, my lady. But— There has been trebuchet fire from our enemy falling onto the Commoner District. The place is surely in chaos right now.”

  “Then you will ensure to make a path through, no matter what. Understood?” Gale said severely.

  Lawrence bowed. “Understood, my lady!”

  Gian closed his eyes. It seems his sister was right after all. There was still strength left in their Houses.

 

~~~

 

  …Shade Wall… Near the Western Gate…

 

  The dragonbane Oshnyr sat atop the wall, his massive body barely contained within between the wall’s battlements. He huddled closely, his head tucked in, and his wings curled around the various wounds Holo had given him. Azure flames sprayed over his flesh in a torrent of heat and light.

  Elzri and Una channeled Orange and focused their mind and will into the azure flames. But even as they channeled magical might greater than any mage in the city, the dragonbane’s flesh burned slowly, the pale grey muscles underneath the hide were practically untouched, save for the open slash wounds across his body.

  The flames died out after a few seconds. Elzri and Una panted heavily and stared at their work in disbelief. Oshnyr unfurled his body and opened his black eyes, the inner eyelid blinking. The flames had seared most of his hide off, but it was already healing right in front of them.

  “It’s not possible,” Una muttered, shaken.

  Elzri said nothing. He wasn’t paying attention to the wounds they had given Oshnyr. He had already seen their regenerative prowess when he had fought the same beast earlier. No, his attention was focused on his other wounds, the ones dealt by Holo. Even now they were leaking black ichor.

  They’re not healing.

  Not a single wound Holo had dealt, from a shallow cut to the deep gash across Oshnyr’s abdomen, none of them were healing. She had done something to the dragonbane, but whatever it was it didn’t seem to apply to any of Una’s and his attacks.

  “Our flames aren’t enough to kill it…” he muttered.

  Una glanced at her brother, annoyed, “Oh, really? I hadn’t noticed.”

  The semi-translucent grey flesh finished regenerating, leaving Oshnyr somewhat whole, save for Holo’s injuries. He tried to stand and walk on the wall, but the wall was too narrow for proper movement. Oshnyr glared at the siblings and the dozens of men and women behind them, before turning away. He spread his wings and prepared to take to the sky.

  “He’s fleeing?” Una muttered in surprise. “Lady Holo’s wounds are more grave than I thought.”

  His sister may have been right, but Elzri’s instincts were screaming at him to kill the beast now. If they let the weakened dragonbane go it would heal and come back stronger.

  “We can’t let it escape. We have to kill it,” he said resolutely.

  “Wait, what are you—?”

  Elzri channeled Black. This time he condensed his mana into deep weaves, more than even he was accustomed to. His shadow deepened and dark tendrils shot out as Oshnyr leaped into the sky. The tendrils wrapped around his massive body, especially his wings. This time, the shadow tendrils did not fizzle away on contact with the beast’s flesh, though they still began to fray and deteriorate immediately.

  Oshnyr roared in anger and started to rip apart the tendrils with ease. Elzri threw his arms up and channeled even more chromatic energies. Dozens of more shadow tendrils caught Oshnyr, but he was ripping them apart faster than Elzri could create them.

  Una realized her brother’s plan and did not waste a moment. She channeled Orange once more and copied her brother’s idea. She condensed as much mana as she could into a small sphere of azure flames. The orb of fire burned brightly in the night. Struggling to contain such condensed power, she worried it would spill over. Una gritted her teeth and molded the sphere into a flaming spear. Grabbing it with one hand, she pulled her shoulder back, then stepped forward and hurled the spear.

  The condensed flames struck true and exploded on Oshnyr’s wing, burning the membrane away in a surge of infernal heat. The dragonbane shrieked and fell back down onto the wall with a heavy crash, sending small cracks into the wall underneath him.

  Elzri looked at his sister in surprise. “I’ve never seen a spell like that…”

  “Thanks, I just made it,” she winked while panting heavily.

  Oshnyr stared at his wing. The limb’s flesh was seared and the entire membrane had been burned away. His snout pulled back in a scowl and he charged at them without restraint.

  “Look out!” Loh shouted.

  Elzri and Una looked up and channeled Orange. They threw their hands up and blasted a torrent of blue flames at the beast, pushing Oshnyr back, if only slightly.

  A sudden roar below caught their attention. The dragonbane Eldrak was charging through the streets of the Commoner District and heading right to them. His right wing had been completely cut off, preventing flight, but it did little to prevent him from hurling right into the wall. The magestone beneath them shook, sending a couple of soldiers screaming and plummeting to their deaths.

  Invigorated by his brother’s arrival, Oshnyr roared and slowly pushed forward through the flames. Eldrak dug his claws into the pale magestone and began to scale the wall at a surprisingly rapid pace.

  Loh cursed under her breath and commanded the remaining soldiers to attack. They drew their bows and let loose. Maximus grabbed a few javelins from his side and hurled them down. Loh, atop the centaur’s back, channeled Orange and shot bolts of flame at the beast.

  The steel arrows and javelins broke apart on impact and didn’t even scratch the hide. Loh’s flames were absorbed as soon as they touched his flesh. Eldrak growled in delight and his climb unhindered.

  Una and Elzri glanced at each other as they continued to blast flames at Oshnyr. Their will and magic were focused on the dragonbane before them; they couldn’t face two of the beasts at once, even if they were wounded. Not while protecting the ones they cherished most.

  “Elohnoir!” Elzri shouted.

  “Unalla!” Una shouted.

  “RUN!” they yelled in unison.

  Unalla quietly watched Loh, Maximus, and the rest of the soldiers attack Eldrak to no avail. The monster’s physiology was impervious to every attack, even her mother and uncle were unable to burn the beasts to ash. Making up her mind, she picked up Votum and dragged the giant sword across the wall right to the very edge. A few soldiers caught sight of her and stopped, puzzled by the sight of a girl hauling around a sword almost as large as she.

  Unalla paid them no mind. “Heed my call… Votum,” she whispered. The orichalcum sword hummed with power, growing lighter. She lifted Votum in front of her.

  Una spotted her daughter from the corner of her and frowned incredulously. “Unalla! What are you—!?”

  “Cousin, cover me!” Unalla said without glancing at Loh, then she leaned forward and stepped off the ledge.

 

 

 

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