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 Ch. 38: Soul Stone

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Dye
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Dye

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Ch. 38: Soul Stone Empty
PostSubject: Ch. 38: Soul Stone   Ch. 38: Soul Stone I_icon_minitimeThu Apr 29, 2010 6:57 pm

Jake dashed through the abandoned tents of the 13 Lord of Chaos base, taking in energy from the noonday sun as he scanned from side to side, looking for Dye among the wisps of dispersing fog. In his hand was a freshly caught eel, intended as a replacement for his filleted swordfish. A few minutes ago, a howling wind had torn the thick mist to shreds. Then, a rain of fire knocked all of the ravens out of the air, erasing the last traces of the bird-shaman’s magic. Suddenly, something caught his eye. He glanced to his right. There, towering in the distance, was a tall, wooden pole, carvings running down its sides, a bird’s head perched on top. Further away, barely visible at the edge of Jake’s sight, was another wooden pillar. Looking to his left, Jake spotted yet another one. What were they?



He walked up to the closest one, examined it carefully. When he reached out to touch it, the rough surface of the wood pulsed blue, sending a shiver of magic down Jake’s arm that numbed his body. He backed up, examining the base of the pillar. It had been carved from the trunk of a mighty cedar tree, but it was no longer so strong. Holes in the base suggested termite infestation, and since the wood had attacked Jake when he got too close, it must be something bad. Nothing left to do but to destroy it. He picked up his eel, tied it around the middle of the pole, then yanked hard. Although the wood was thicker than Jake’s body, the tough bones of the dead eel, combined with Jake’s strength, were enough to topple the wooden pillar, sending it crashing into a group of nearby tents. He went to examine the pole’s base. Sure enough, there were termites.



-----



Dye barreled through a set of unused tents, slashing away tattered cloth and snapping spindly wooden supports as he made a beeline for the spot where Wendigo had landed. He, like Jake, had taken heart when a wind had blown the deathly mist away and again when fire had destroyed the cloud of birds above the base. He was determined not to let Wendigo get away. Then again, where did Wendigo have to run? The rest of Saint’s attack group, if they were still alive, would surely be in the base by now, and Wendigo’s totem pole had been destroyed, leaving him with no source for regenerating his magic. But then again, he was a mercenary, and a high ranking one at that. No self-respecting mercenary would dare to run away on the job, as they risked losing their reputation as a reliable killer. So why was Wendigo running, unless…



Dye stumbled into a clearing of tents eerily similar to the one he had just left. What he saw dumbfounded him. In the middle of the clearing was a tall, wooden pole, strange symbols ingrained into its wood, a carved raven’s head perched on top, mouth gaping. Dye found his own mouth gaping at the sight of Wendigo, one hand lazily resting against the side of the totem pole, blue magic flowing into his body through his arm.



“Surprised?” Dye didn’t answer. His silence was enough.



“I have these totem poles dotted around the base, so I’ll never run out of access to magic. My power is pretty much unlimited this way. And do you know why I have all these totem poles? Because I get paid six million gold a day to guard this base with my life. Not a bad deal, considering what I’m up against. Just you, the kid with the fish, and that group of five recruits that stopped by earlier. They had no idea what they were up to, so I killed them all without really trying…” Wendigo sidestepped as Dye swiped at him with a glowing scimitar, turning the totem pole into matchwood instead of slicing him in half. Dye turned slowly, trailing fresh flames, his face contorted with rage. Wendigo sighed, and struck Dye across the face with his bird-skull staff. Fear swept through Dye, overcoming his anger and extinguishing his flames. “It seems that your magic is controlled by emotion. That makes it both powerful and vulnerable. Simply overruling your anger with a more powerful emotion seems to be enough to counteract your magic. How pitiful.”



Wendigo spread two fresh, black wings. A storm of feathers erupted into the air, and each feather transformed into a black raven. Dye sighed, and charged. This time, he ignored the birds, intent only on reaching Wendigo before he could get away again. Through black wings flapping and dark beaks cawing, he could see the bird shaman fleeing, wings spreading as he prepared to fly. Dye leaped into the air, then brought his scimitar swinging down.



-----



Jake looked up as he heard a high-pitched, unearthly scream rent the air. But it was not a triumphant, malevolent cry that struck fear into the hearts of all that heard it. Rather, it was a scream of pain and woe. He paused for a second, then began to sprint in the general direction of the scream, praying that it wasn’t Dye.



-----



Wendigo screamed and screamed, writhing on the ground, clawing at his back, spreading blood and feathers everywhere. A stump of severed bone and open veins protruded from the spot where his right wing had last been. Dye admired his handiwork for a second. Then Wendigo looked up, his eyes black with rage. As he stood up, all of the ravens around him vanished. His one good wing fluttered in the air slightly, reminding Dye of his first leader, Angel. Dye banished that though from his mind as he reached deep down inside for any last strands of anger. Finding a good deal of hatred towards Wendigo, he used that to feed his adrenaline, building up rage inside. When Dye opened his eyes, flames exploded in the air around him. Wendigo stared straight back at Dye. Around him, a deep blue mist formed, shapes of death swirling in their depths. The two glared at each other with hatred, letting their power grow for a second or two, charged at the exact same time.



Dye aimed a downwards slash that cut through thin air as Wendigo circled around Dye, weaving his blue mist into complex shapes and patterns. Dye kept the mist away with the flames in the air around him, roaring with delight as they took part in the battle. Wendigo flew up, left wing trying to keep him aloft on its own. Dye could see the bird shaman struggle, then come crashing down. He timed his next sword swipe to coincide with the falling body, and left a shallow cut across Wendigo’s chest. The shaman paused for a moment, feeling the severity of his wound. Finding himself still able to breath, he raised his bird-skull staff, blue light gathering around it. Then he fired a bolt of cold energy. Dye could feel death miss him by inches as the bolt sailed past his hear. He brough his scimitar forward for a spinning uppercut, trying to shorten the distance between Wendigo and himself. The bird shaman backed up, trying to avoid the flames of Dye’s armor as he fired two more magic bolts. Both missed. Dye slashed as Wendigo turned to run. A black wing went spiraling into the blue fog. This time, the scream wasn’t as loud. But the bird shaman still twitched in pain as he dodged a series of deadly swipes from Dye’s scimitar, trailing blood from both his wing stumps as he fled Dye’s reach.



Once safely at a distance, Wendigo flung a handful of feathers in Dye’s direction, each one transforming into an enormous raven that swooped in low for Dye’s head. With a slash of his scimitar, the first raven fell apart into two pieces. The next two were batted away with the flat side of his blade, sent flaming into the smoking ruins of a batch of soldier tents. Dye let his flames take care of the rest as he paused, looking around for Wendigo. He was nowhere in sight.



A cold feeling at his neck. Dye spun around, glaring at Wendigo, who triumphantly grasped something in the beak of his bird-skull staff. Trailing a black chain, sapphire star glimmering weakly, was Dye’s necklace. He already knew what was going to happen, but the whole situation had a dreamlike quality that kept him mute and motionless, as if watching a surreal play that wasn’t, couldn’t be happening.



“A very beautiful piece of work, this necklace. It took me a while before I recognized it for what it was: a soul stone. A magical object embodying someone’s soul. It takes nothing less than the greatest form of magic in order to separate one’s soul from one’s body and to cast it into something else. Whoever put their soul into this stone must have been dear to you, otherwise you wouldn’t have carried it around with you all the way into battle. Oh well, too bad.” Dye barely had time to think, and all he could think of were Wendigo’s words. Greatest form of magic…soul stone…someone’s soul…she had done all of this for him? Then how…



Wendigo picked up the stone with his left hand, tossed it into the air, watching it as it flew upwards in a gentle arc, glowing a soft blue. His great black beak opened up expectantly, then snapped shut with a crack of finality. Shards of blue scattered across the earth like falling tears.
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Ch. 38: Soul Stone
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