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 Ch. 16: Unleashed

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Ch. 16: Unleashed Empty
PostSubject: Ch. 16: Unleashed   Ch. 16: Unleashed I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 29, 2010 6:36 pm

The joy of life is dead and gone,

Its smiling face a thing of the past.

Something sinister…something wrong,

War and death shall reign at last.

Jacob reached up to the sword protruding from his chest, grasped the blade with a bare hand, and crushed it into a thousand shards. He landed on all fours, part of the shattered sword still sticking out from his back. A low growl echoed throughout the room, making everyone’s hair stand on end, too loud and too deep to have come from a human. Jake stood up, looked around. His skin quickly turning from pale to coal black. A stream of thick, dark smoke issued from his mouth, coalesced, formed into two enormous axes, one in each hand. Their black blades resembled the gaping visages of two furious fish heads. A red, rippling energy coursed through each one. Dye stared in disbelief at the transformation. The sword wound in his chest was still there, slivers of Elitis’s sword sticking out like blades of silver grass. Looking into Jacob’s face, Dye was startled by what he saw. There were still features of the original Jake in this new creature, but distorted with an animal-like rage. The once-blue eyes now streamed red light as Jake turned his head from side to side, examining his surroundings. His once-tame hair now stuck out in all directions in long, black spikes. Jake opened his mouth again and emitted another, low growl. Sharp black teeth gleamed from behind cracked lips.

Elitis took a step back, seizing a discarded flail from the dead body of one of his Reavers. Jake heard the rattle of the flail’s chain, turned. He seemed to recognize Elitis, opened his mouth wide, a long red tongue lolling out, and roared. The two Reavers holding onto Dye let go of him to plug their ears, but to no avail. Their metal helmets vibrated with Jake’s roar, bursting their eardrums. One by one, they fell over. The councilors were luckier, stuffing lavish furs and gloved fingers into their ears to block out the sound. Dye did the same thing the moment he was released, not eager to go deaf. Elitis backed up even further, hands clapped to ears as Jake continued to roar. Then he stopped. Everyone paused in the silent aftermath. A chunk of ceiling came tumbling down, followed by other pieces. A steady rain began to fall as the hill imploded, its weak structure compromised by the strength of sound alone. Dye ran for the stairway, dashed up the stairs, took ten steps away from the top of the hill before toppling over as the whole hill collapsed inward. A great dust rose up, blotting out the sun. When everything cleared, Dye looked about. Standing erect in the middle of the ruins, the wind barely ruffling the spikes on his head, stood Jake. A dark pulse of energy ran through his body at regular intervals, and a huge, red aura glowed around him like a sunburst. Standing ten paces away from him, no longer looking refined and wielding two flails, stood Elitis. They faced each other for about ten seconds, not moving at all. Around them, the various members of Elitis’s clan were still digging themselves out of the ruins. They paused to watch as the two faced off. All was silent.

A dark blur. Elitis was shoved backwards by the force of Jake’s blows from his twin axes as he tried to parry against Jake’s blows. The chains of both of Elitis’s flails wrapped around the handles of Jake’s axes, trying to keep them at bay. Another dark blur, Jake was attacking from behind, axes whirling. Elitis stared at his two flails. Their chains snapped by Jacob’s swift movements, the links scattering with the winds. Elitis picked up a rusted sword out of the ruins around him, lifted it to defend against Jake, it shattered as Jake smashed right through it with his twin axes. A whirl of dark energy, Elitis was sent flying upwards as Jake swung one of his axes upwards, renting Elitis’s chestplate and smiting his body with dark energy. Before Elitis had landed, Jake was upon him again, punching him from every possible direction, leaving his two enormous axes behind and instead using bare fists to pummel Elitis into submission. The rain of blows kept Elitis in mid-air as Jake nailed every part of his body. Then a group of Reavers, having finished picking themselves up and wiping the blood from their wounded ears, came rushing over to help, maces whirling over their heads. In the distance, the rest of Elitis’s army could be seen coming in at top speed to support their wounded leader. Jake landed one last uppercut to Elitis’s jaw, then let him sink to the ground, sprinting back to pick up his axes before turning on the rest of the ShadowStorm.

It was a bit ironic, Dye thought, watching an evil clan get torn apart by another evil force. Then again, Jake didn’t seem just evil, he was…demonic. Red energy danced around his skin like the tattoos of a Symbiote as he charged the enemy. The remains of Elitis’s guard, the Elite ShadowStorm Reavers, clustered together in a defensive position to receive Jake’s fury. It was to no avail. The first two guards were dead before they hit the ground, each one savaged by repeated axe blows to the chest. Dye had been so proud of the way he had killed the ShadowStorm council members earlier, now he watched Jake rip through the heaviest armor in the world of Lore as if it were wrapping paper being torn from a birthday present. The last Reaver did manage to land a strike on Jacob. It may have been better if he didn’t. The icy runes on the Reaver’s flail lost their bright sheen as the spiked end of the weapon landed on Jake’s head. The spikes stuck to Jake’s head, wounding him slightly. Then Jake turned, snarled, and sent red energy roaring through his head and back down the length of the flail. The Reaver was hit by the energy, jolted a bit, then exploded, showering blood everywhere, not even leaving bones intact as red energy consumed the body and soul of the Reaver. Jake licked the blood from his face with his long, red tongue, a ghastly grin spreading across his face. He bared his black teeth at the incoming reinforcements, then was among them, hewing, hacking, slashing, beating, biting, slaughtering. Dye saw one soldier go fifty feet up into the air, limbs flailing, blood streaming from gaping wounds, then landing with a thump somewhere far away. Somewhere inside the crowd of enemy troops, a loud roar could be heard, too distant to do any damage to Dye’s poor ears.

Ten minutes later, Elitis groaned, and opened his eyes. He was sore all over, half dead with internal bleeding from Jake’s attacks, and barely able to breath with his rented chestplate crushing his broken ribcage. In the distance, the sounds of battle had died out. What had become of his troops? A shadow loomed over him. He looked up. There, blood dripping from black, pointed teeth, stood Jacob. It may have been Elitis’s imagination, but he looked different from before. Maybe it was the bloodstained rags that once made up Jake’s gear, dirtied with battle. Maybe it was the fact that Jake’s hair had grown longer and wilder during the fight, or that his red aura had increased, or that his red eyes now left a trail of energy wherever they turned. Elitis eyed the enormous black axe, inches from his nose, where Jake had rammed it into the ground. It seemed bigger, with blood and bits of bone clinging to its edge, the black knuckles grasping its handle glowing red with the spiraling tattoos that were beginning to crawl across the fingers.

Elitis rolled over on his back, slowly, painfully, to look into Jake’s glowing red eyes. They didn’t seem to be merciless, or evil, or cruel. They just weren’t human. Jake picked up both of his axes. Was he going to behead Elitis? No, he set them down, farther away. Then he took a step forward and picked Elitis up by the face, suspending him in midair.

“Aren’t you going to at least give me the honor of beheading me?” Elitis asked, his weak voice muffled by Jacob’s palm. Ripples of red energy began to gather around the base of Jake’s hand. He wasn’t even going to do Elitis the honor of executing him. He was going to explode his head with magic. Elitis closed his eyes. He couldn’t give up now, not after having strived so hard to create a clan out of nothing, not after having built it up into one of the greatest forces of evil of all time, not after having gained so much power, to achieve his one great goal. But his limbs wouldn’t move, their muscles still paralyzed by Jake’s earlier punishment. He had been so close to victory, only to let it slip through his fingers and into the hands of this monster…

The grip on his head softened, then he was released. Elitis flopped to the ground, motionless, defeated, but alive. Jake stood there for a moment, then keeled over slowly, as if burdened by a great weight. Dye got up, his side still bleeding. He didn’t care. He rushed to Jacob’s side, watching as the blackness receded from his skin, the red aura dissipated into thin air, the long hair recede back to normal, the half-open eyes turn from glowing red to the lightest blue. In the center of Jake’s chest, the remnants of Elitis’s sword still remained. Using what rudimentary skill he had, Dye quickly removed the shards, then used scraps of cloth from the ruins of Jake’s clothes to bind the wound as quickly as possible. Hopefully Priest would be able to heal him when they got back…

A cough nearby. Dye looked up. Elitis lolled his head to one side, staring at Dye and Jake. All his arrogance, bemusement, and cruelty were gone from his face. Instead, a great weariness was etched into every line of his face. “I…beg for…forgiveness.” Foregiveness? “I have been a bad person haven’t I?”

“Damn right!” Dye muttered, then winced and clutched his bleeding side. He needed to bind that as well.

“But you don’t…understand. Maybe…no one ever will. I just wanted…to find the way…”

“The way to what? Power?”

“Not just power. I wanted…glory for myself…for my clan. I wanted to find the way…to attain perfection. The way…to finally understand…good and evil…life itself. I wanted to find the door that would open…to all the answers of the world.” Elitis’s head lolled back, his body shuddered, then went limp. His ragged breathing could barely be heard, like a hoarse whisper crying out into silence. The Door Within. Angel’s quest. Long dead and forgotten. Dye stood up, carrying Jacob in his arms. He finally understood.
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Ch. 16: Unleashed
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