Chapter 493: What Do You Say?
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Chapter 493: What Do You Say?

 

  …Hollow Shade…The Molten Breach…

 

  “RETREAT!!” cried a captain of the guard. He cried out as the horde of barbarians rushed the Breach and clashed against his fellow soldiers. 

  The majority of the city’s soldiers had been stationed at the city gates and the wall. When the wall had been breached by those flying abominations, the commanders of the barracks had quickly mustered together a little over 500 soldiers to defend the Molten Breach. They just had to hold out long enough for reinforcements to arrive from the gates and the wall.

  It wasn’t enough.

  Plumes of flames, stone hail, funnels of wind, bolts of lightning, encroaching vines, and all manners of spells engulfed the soldiers, ripping apart their vanguard. The guard captain watched in horror as his commanding officer was caught by thorny vines, growing right beneath her. She yelled in a panic, but her voice was quickly cut off as the vines coiled around her and the thorns pierced her throat.

  The barbarian mages cast barrages of spells at full force, intent on breaking their defensive lines, and when they had, then their warriors fell upon them; wading into their midst, striking down the disoriented and fleeing with ease.

  “RETREAT!!” the guard captain cried out once more. “RETREA—!” A black spear flew out of the crashing of warriors and ran through his chest, pinning him to the ground. He gasped a raspy noise.

  A giant, veiled in dark armor strode up to him. He glanced down at the guard captain and his cold blue eyes met the dying drow’s. Without hesitation, the Dusk King reached down and ripped the orichalcum spear from the guard’s chest. The drow captain grimaced and choked on his own blood. The King raised his foot and slammed it over his head, breaking the neck with a loud crack.

 

~~~

 

  The battle hadn’t lasted long. In less than five minutes, the valley warriors decimated the pathetic excuse for a city guard. Marek watched his warriors scour the bodies lying on the bloodstained cobblestone, stabbing any that even twitched.

  “These people are weak,” Nokti said in disgust. “Without their wall they are nothing. They do not deserve these lands. Tonight we avenge all the horrors they’ve set on our people.”

  “...Yes,” Marek muttered. That was how it started, wasn’t it? Vengeance for his people and freedom from the oppressive city of shades. None of it seemed important anymore. After all, Caligo had promised that come dawn, he’d slaughter all the adults of the Cairn tribe. There was nothing Marek could do to stop it.

  But there was something he could do. Finish what he had started, the end of House Helene’s bloodline. “Nokti, I take it you and your warriors can take care of things from here?”

  “I have two battalions under my command, 2,000 of our bravest warriors. I am quite certain I can ‘take care of things.’”

  “Mm,” he grunted and walked off.

  “Are you really going to go? Kill them all?” she called out.

  “They are Helenes,” he said calmly, his mind made up.

  “They did not kill your mother. The woman that did is dead, by your own hands.”

  “Since when did you care about the city rabble?”

  “I don’t. But those people are your family, the only family you have left.”

  Marek clenched his spear, “No, they are her family.”

  “The city’s Commoner District is being bombarded by our trebuchet fire. The people must be fleeing inwards, they’re probably blocking all the roads leading to the Villa District. How do you even plan on reaching the Helene Manor?”

  He glanced at his elite warriors forming rank. “I have my own battalion under my command. It will be enough.”

  “Marek!”

  He stopped and looked back.

  “Don’t die,” she whispered.

  “I won’t, not as long as a single Helene breathes.” He turned around and raised his orichalcum spear into the air. His warriors shouted a war chant and followed him down the street.

 

~~~

 

  “General, the area is clear,” said the battalion commander.

  Nokti glanced at the hundreds of bodies lying on the blood-stained cobblestone. The scent of blood was intoxication. She nodded, satisfied. “Very good. Take your warriors and deal with the barracks to the west, I’ll lead the other battalion and deal with the barracks to the south. When you have finished, we will head to the medical encampments in the north.”

  “Understood, General!” he saluted.

  “The rest of you, with me!” Nokti shouted.

  A thunderous roar echoed through the night sky. Nokti and the rest of the warriors grimaced and held their ears. 

  “What was that!?” a warrior yelled.

  Nokti turned to the sky. She narrowed her scarlet eyes, searching for the source. Dragons burst from the clouds above the city and dived.

  “Oh, dear gods…!” Nokti mumbled, wide-eyed.

  Two dragons, emerald in color, broke off from their brood and flew straight towards them.

  “Archers! Mages! Fire at will!” Nokti screamed.

  Hundreds of archers drew their bows back and fired a volley of arrows into the sky. Dozens of mages channeled their chromatic magics and hurled various spells. The dragons opened their wings wide and channeled True Yellow. A radiant sphere of light formed around each dragon. The magical and physical projectiles crashed into the yellow spheres, sending small ripples through the Radiant magic.

  “Get down!” Nokti yelled and threw herself to the ground. She channeled Yellow and created defensive scales over her body.

  The warriors cried out in a panic and raised their shields, but the emerald dragons swooped right past them, their wind wake knocking hundreds to the ground. The dragons landed atop the wall’s breach, one on each side of the molten rock. Their chests swelled as they took deep breaths and channeled True White.

  The dragons opened their mouths and breathed out a thick haze. The haze crashed into the bottom of the breach and quickly began to solidify into a white stone. The stone grew before their very eyes, climbing up the breach until it formed a whole section of wall.

  Nokti rose to her feet and stared at the strip of white stone, fifty paces across and twice as tall. It stood in stark contrast to the now frosty-translucent magestone on either side. “What in the…?”

  A valley warrior hefted his spear and hurled it at the newly formed wall. The spearhead struck true but glanced off the white stone harmlessly.

  “We’re cut off…!” Nokti muttered anxiously.

  The dragons looked down and glared at them. They unfurled their wings and channeled True Grey. Silver halos spun into existence above between their wings, growing steadily larger.

  Nokti felt a chill run through her body. She had seen her Master battle dragons before, and she had seen the destructive nature of Halo magic.

  “RUUUUN!!!” she screamed and dashed away as fast as she could.

  Her warriors glanced at each for a brief confused moment then ran away in all directions. The halos flew down and exploded on impact. Waves of destructive energy erupted, ripping apart dozens of soldiers in an instant.

  The dragons roared and began forming another set of silver halos. Nokti didn’t look back and kept running, her warriors following not far behind.

 

~~~

 

  Caligo soared into the night sky on scarlet feathered wings. The city quickly grew smaller underneath him. He spotted a pair of emerald dragons cast a Manifest spell over the wall’s breach in the far-off distance.

  Things have grown complicated… he thought.

  He focused his mind and whispered in the tongue of the void, his voice carrying across to all the dragonbanes.

  “Find the vampiress, Maeve Mora.” He pictured the young vampiress’ face in his mind; her pale skin, high cheekbones, silver-blonde hair, and large crimson eyes. The image of the girl and her scent were conveyed to the dragonbanes.

  “Krylkos. Lyrak. You two have a different task. Fly to the Ebon Tower and tear it asunder.” Caligo glanced at the colossal tower looming at the center of the city; a large black obelisk, split in two as if by a giant sword.

  He conveyed both the image of the tower and Maeve to the dragonbanes’ minds, but thoughts of them quickly faded away as the creatures caught a distinct scent in the air, it was unfamiliar to them, but they knew it all too well. Dragons.

  Caligo could feel the rabid hunger quickly take over their minds. All across the city the dragonbanes roared excitedly and took to the sky to hunt their mortal enemies.

  “No, not yet,” Caligo commanded, but his voice was lost in their bloodlust. He sighed, annoyed.

  No matter. After feeding on a few dragon souls, some of them would come back to their senses.

  As if in defiance of his morbid thought, a bronze dragon roared from the clouds and dived straight at him. She channeled True Grey. She created a halo above her wings, and with a flick, she tossed it.

  Caligo pulled his wings in clothes, forming a cocoon over himself. The halo crashed into his wings and exploded in a burst of silvery light. Like an arrow, Caligo pierced through unharmed. He unfurled his wings and darted at the bronze dragon. She pulled back in surprise and ignited the chromatic mana within her body; her ribs swelled as she took a deep breath and spewed chromatic fire—

  Honorem slashed outwards in a wide arc as Caligo flew past her in a blur. The orichalcum blade sliced through her bronze scales and severed her neck. The dragon’s body seized up and went limp. Her head fell away in a splatter of blood as her body fell to the earth.

  Caligo opened his jaw wide and sucked in the essence of her soul, tearing it out from her body as she fell. 

  “Nooo!” a black dragon screamed in rage and swooped at him. 

  Caligo stretched out his hand, jade lightning crackling between his fingertips. The black dragon channeled True Yellow and a radiant sphere formed around him. A lance of jade lightning scattered through the air and pierced the radiant shield. The black dragon flinched back and cried out in pain as the lance bore a massive hole through his chest. His serpentine eyes glazed over and he tumbled out of the sky in a smoking heap.

  “ENOUGH!” a deafening voice boomed.

  Caligo turned around with a cold smile and faced the sapphire dragon flying above him. The dragon towered over the others. Caligo himself seemed but a small bird in front of a lion.  He couldn’t help but laugh. “If it isn’t the elder dragon god himself! The lord of the Rupture Mountains, come out of hiding after all these centuries. Welcome back to the war, Kaleidrog!”

  The dragon lord fanned his wings in place, sending powerful gusts through the air. He narrowed his deep blue eyes and stared hard at the small winged figure smiling at him. “…It’s really you, isn’t it?”

  “It’s me, old friend,” Caligo smirked. His body warped in a blur of light and shapeshifted back into his original form. A titaness, five meters tall. Long, pallid green hair cascaded down past her wings. Her warm brown skin seemed to glow with an inner light. A dress of shadows wrapped around her body, trailing at her feet. It was only her ever-changing eyes that stayed the same.

  Honorem, once seeming an absurdly large sword, now fit comfortably in her hand, as a war dagger. Her cloak formed a shawl over her bareback and shoulders, its black feathers had burned away, revealing scorched ebon scales underneath.

  “Ananta…” Kaleidrog muttered softly.

  She cocked her head to the side, “You hardly seem surprised.”

  “I had my suspicions ever since ‘Caligo’ appeared in the realm. But it was only after I heard about a god hunting down dragons recently that I knew it was you.”

  “I’m glad my little hunting trip worked.”

  “You wanted to draw me out,” he surmised.

  “Well, of course,” she smiled. “And here you are, finally.”

  “I see…”

  “Oh, come on now, is that all you have to say? After all this time?” Her smile turned into a spiteful scowl, “Is that all you have to say to an old friend?”

  He stared at her, sorrow in his eyes. “What would you like me to say?”

  “Oh, I don’t know. What do you say to the woman who saved your life? Whom you betrayed. Whose husband you murdered. Whose queendom you destroyed. Whose world you poisoned.” She glared at him, “What do you say to the woman you failed to kill, Kaleidrog?”

 

 

 

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