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 Ch. 53: Nightmare

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Dye
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PostSubject: Ch. 53: Nightmare   Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:32 pm

Kobi sat in a private room in the hotel that he used as a base of operations. It was past midnight, but he hadn’t slept at all. Instead, he was brooding over the loss of over two hundred troops to the enemy, including all of the mercenaries that he had hired. All that was left were his elite bodyguards and a few generals. Scouts that were sent out to observe the enemy’s strength did not return. What had seemed a sure victory earlier that day had turned into a painfully long battle. Yet the end was in sight. Kobi got up and began to pace the room, contemplating his final moves.



A general entered the room, remembering to bow low at the last second as he saw Kobi’s hand go to the sword by his side. The death of the last general still weighed heavily on the minds of those closest to Kobi. “My lord…” Kobi continued to pace the room, ignoring everything. The general took his silence as an invitation to continue. “We have made our final preparations. Everything is ready, including the battering rams.” Kobi looked up, eyes tired.



“When did I order those battering rams?”



“My lord, you ordered them to be built earlier today. The engineers have just finished.”



“Tell the men to leave them behind. Order my guards to line up in rank formation across the main street and march forward. I will follow.” The general bowed low on his way out, leaving Kobi to stare out the window. A faint drumming as raindrops ran down the glass pane in front of him, smearing the dark image of Wa-Kia outside. There were little orange dots in the streets below that could be torches, and here and there a glint of silver. Those were swords and spears and axes. A faint moan could be heard, probably a soldier suffering from acute chaos infection. At one time he himself had suffered from the same symptoms as he sacrificed his body for power. He once had half-formed dreams of wealth and luxury that would come easily through constant warfare with weaker clans. None of that mattered to him now.



-----



Outside, in the streets, Kobi’s men worked quietly. Just hours earlier, they had stormed Requiem’s hasty barricade of rubble and upturned apple carts, sure of victory. Now, they constructed the exact same defenses and prayed that they would be enough to stop the enemy’s onslaught. One man kept watch over the progress, holding a torch aloft that sizzled as the raindrops fell over it. His job was to look down the road and watch for any movements, either friend or foe. Any ally that approached them was to wave a torch of their own, signaling that they came in peace.



A flash of lightning. The sudden brightness left stars in the men’s eyes as darkness returned. The watchman frowned. There, in the distance, was a patch of brightness that wouldn’t go away. He looked carefully, rubbing his eyes with one hand while holding the torch higher with his other, casting an orange glow over everything around him. In the distance, an orange light flickered back at him, slowly drawing closer. As the flame drew closer, the watchman saw a figure illuminated in the light. Other figures could be seein, mere shadows around it. Help had arrived. The watchman called out to the workers, who gave a cheer and rushed out to have a look. The figured was now closer, an armored silhouette seen against the bright orange. But where were the flames coming from? There was a torch somewhere, that was the signal that had brought them hope. Yet the figure’s arms were at its sides, hands empty. The light flared for a moment, revealing the grim, scarred face of a man. Then a roar in the darkness, inhuman and savage. The roar of flames. A horrible thought dawned on the workers as the figure drew ever closer to them, flanked on both sides by an army of shadows. The man wasn’t holding the torch. He was the torch.



Dye paused for a moment, standing only fifty feet away from the enemy staring at them. He wondered why they only stared back, why they didn’t charge at him or shoot him full of arrows. He expected something more than this uncomfortable confrontation, Dye on one side, eyebrows raised, and Kobi’s men on the other, grins slowly wiping from their faces as this flaming apparition approached them from out of the darkness. Was help really coming, or were these the enemy.



“Who are you, and what is your purpose?” The watchman prayed that he had been right the first time.



“I am a Captain of Requiem.”



“Do you come here to surrender or bargain with our leader?”



Dye rolled his eyes. “In your dreams.” He unsheathed his scimitar, letting it glow orange from the heat of his magic. Around him, he could see his men preparing for battle, drawing weapons that glinted in the firelight. Then, with one sweeping motion, they all charged at once. A few archers on guard duty fired a few arrows at him. Their shafts crackled and splintered as they were consumed by Dye’s flames. The steel arrowheads melted away, cooling as little puddles of metal on the ground. The watchman mulled over Dye’s words as he came charging in at them. This was not a dream, but a nightmare.



The workers were defenseless. Many didn’t have armor, and some didn’t even have shirts on, as the rain soaked through everything they wore. Dye made a few swings with his sword, just to get the air sizzling, then allowed them to retreat and regroup. He would probably regret this later, but it wasn’t fun killing people that couldn’t fight back. He looked up at the half-built barricades. They looked as if they could fall apart if someone leaned against them.



“Do we have to take these things down? They’re not really much to speak of, and besides, we might even be able to use them to our advantage.”



“Who cares? I just need something to get my blood pumping, why not start with these?” Oblivion charged forward, making the earth shake as he rushed passed Dye, thick armor, claymores, and all. He swung his swords in a wide, sweeping motion, sending the barricades crashing inwards. Others charged forward, eager to have a hand in the destruction of property. The lust of battle was upon them. As the barriers were taken down, glimpses of the soldiers behind them could be seen. A little distance away, the workers Dye had allowed to escape earlier were now donning armor and wielding small swords. At least they were dangerous. Slightly. He rushed forward, scimitar glowing through the air, carving the first few soldiers into flaming chunks of flesh.



“Oh my…”



“Run!”



“AAAHH!!!”



“Mommy!!!”



Dye paused, sword raised, in front of a young soldier, no older than fifteen years old. He had dropped his sword and cowered in terror, hands covering his face. Scared to death. Dye sighed, lowering his scimitar. He didn’t have the heart to take down cowards. The man looked up for one moment, saw that he had been spared, summoned all of his courage, and drew a dagger. The blade came within inches of Dye’s face before it melted. That’s it, this guy was still dangerous. The scimitar lopped off the boy’s head, giving him a quick and easy death.



Elsewhere, the killing wasn’t so clean. Blizzard came tearing into the enemy’s left flank, blades whirling, slashing through anything and everything. He leaped into the air as the first few soldiers tried to counterattack, hurling throwing knives at them from mid-air, then backflipping and landing perfectly on a chunk of rubble left over from the barricade. Following him, Seth bobbed and weaved with his shortsword, stabbing those that were too preoccupied with Blizzard to notice him. Fire appeared on a nearby rooftop behind them, raining down icicles and fireballs on those that tried to retreat. Cut off from escape, the soldiers turned to face the enemy in a final rally of strength, then gave away completely to despair as they were mowed down by the charging Requiem troops.

With a throaty war-cry, the bodyguards of Kobi arrived, an eternity too late, exploding from doorways on both sides of the streets as they responded to their master’s belated call to action. Hulking soldiers in thick chaos armor and chaorrupted helms, they whirled enormous chaos axes and shook the earth with their footfalls. Blizzard and Dye nodded and turned to their respective sides of the street. Two slashes, two guards stumbled, giant wounds criss-crossing their chests. Blizzard counted them down for the count, turning to other guards. Then he felt a shadow behind him, dodging out of the way as the fallen guards smashed the ground where he last stood, their axes pulverizing cobblestones to dust. On the other side of the street, Dye found similar problems as he hacked off limbs of the enemy, only to find them swiftly grow back, purple chaos oozing from their wounds like liquid flesh, sealing up wounds and reforming limbs.



“Regenerative powers?”



“Hmmm. Annoying.” Blizzard continued to hack away at one particularly large bodyguard, covering him with wounds. Two stabs to the stomach, parallel slashes to the chest, a sweeping uppercut that removed legs and arms at once. Everything grew back. No choice. Blizzard dodged out of the way as three more axes showered him with rubble, then landed a downwards slash that split the guard in two. Each guard formed a new body of their own. Across the street, Dye gaped as his guards did the same thing. Blizzard watched as the two new guards picked themselves up and made their way towards him. A small smile played across his lips. Saint came up behind Blizzard, tried to drag him out of the way. “Wait,” he muttered. In mid-step, the two guards suddenly stumbled, then fell over. Each one cradled their head and moaned. “I thought so.”



Saint stared for a moment, then comprehension dawned. “They can’t regenerate their brains can the? I mean, regenerating the body is not the same as regenerating the mind.”



“Exactly.”



From across the street, Dye was having a little trouble. He set five guards in fire, watched them writhe on the ground for a moment, then stand up, still burning, but fully functional. “Blizzard, that’s brilliant insight, but I don’t think we have the time to cut each guard’s brain in half. Any suggestions?” Blizzard had none. He watched as the remaining guards continued to stream out of doorways. In the upper story of buildings, crossbowmen could be seen peering out, taking shots at the unwary. The battle was still far from won.



While he was thinking, a guard snuck up behind Blizzard, axe raised. Saint dealt two blows to the head with his daggers, but they failed to dig deep enough into the skull. The guard’s head fell apart for a moment, then pulled itself back together. Saint, eyes wide, backed up. Suddenly, the guard froze, caught within a cone of ice. Runes ran across the surface of the ice, and something within the frozen guard seemed to snap. The ice shattered, and, along with the guard, vanished into the night air.



“Thank you Edvin,” Saint turned to Edvin Jeremy, who smiled and snapped his fingers. A dozen or so minions materialized, confusing the enemy and allowing him to slip through them unnoticed to perform his spells upon the enemy. Dye saw all this out of the corner of his eye as he was slowly surrounded by chaos guards. Although they could not harm him and his flames of rage, he could not leave any lasting marks on them, either. Besides him, Seth found two guards on either side of him, axes raised. He sheathed his sword, pointing fingers at them.



"Disappear.” The guards were sucked into nonbeing, vanishing without a trace. Seth smirked, and had just begun to congratulate himself when two guards popped out of nowhere behind him. He frowned. Cipher spells didn’t work on these guards after all, he mused to himself as he stabbed one of them through the head. The guard writhed for a moment, lifted his weapon, then went limp as the brain cells within died. The other guard swung wide to keep Seth at a distance, forcing him up against the wall of a nearby building. Seth stumbled, dropping his sword, and could only watch helplessly as his foe raised hiss axe for the final blow. An orange flash. The guard dropped its axe, looking down at the glowing scimitar sticking through its chest. It could feel the heat from within burning him up from inside out. The guard quivered, then exploded into flaming chunks that consumed themselves, unable to regenerate.



“Thanks,” Seth picked himself up and gripped his shortsword tightly. Dye grunted and turned to face the rest of the guards. Oblivion was now in the action, crushing the guards: bones, brains, and all, with the flats of his claymores. Two guards rushed at him from behind with axes, embedding their weapons into his back. They made twin clangs as they came up against hard armor and rebounded. Oblivion turned around, lopping off their heads and crushing them underfoot. In the windows across the street, Kobi’s archers aimed carefully at Oblivion. Just as they were about to fire, a javelin came sailing through a broken window, nailing one of the archers in the face. His hands went limp, the arrow went wild. The others turned. Down the street, clad in black armor, was Nathan. He hoisted another javelin and let loose, sending it through two more archers. The archers responded with a hail of arrows. Eyes widened, Nathan reached for his shield, couldn’t get it loose, crouched down, arms over his face.



Bhlewos stepped in, his glaive whirling faster than the eye could see. The arrows scattered in all directions. He moved slowly, ponderously into battle, impervious to all attacks as he waded through rubble. Nathan followed up, moving more swiftly than Bhlewos. Behind them, the rest of Requiem finally arrived. In the distance, the slow thumping of footsteps spoke of more to come. Kobi’s chaos guardians fought fiercely, their lack of speed made up for by the sheer power of their blows and their regenerative abilities. However, they were evenly matched with the captains of Requiem, and with the arrival of others, they were overrun.



A shadow swept in overhead, red wings glowing. Lightning flashed, momentarily revealing the silhouette of Dawn, arms transformed. Archers looked up and fired, but overshot as she folded her wings and dropped like a stone. Wings became arms, arms became huge. She rolled over, positioning herself for the impact, and landed fists-first on the ground. As she stood up in the middle of a small crater, arms shrank back to normal. Around her, messy chunks of enemy soldiers gave off a pleasant stench. She dove right in, crushing heads with her bare hands. Behind her, Creed landed, folding his wings and looking up. Archers reloaded and aimed at him, but with a wave of Creed’s hand, the wind ripped them from their positions and sent them, limbs flailing, into the air. They moved in a graceful, parabolic arc, souring high into the rain, then plummeting. As they fell, Uzamaki came up, grabbed a fistful of arrows, and fired, not bothering to aim. His arrows sprouted miniature wings and zoomed in on various targets, nailing their victims in the head. Those that were spared landed on the ground with a sickening crunch. Those that survived the fall were trampled by the heavy metal boots of Bhlewos and Oblivion.



Jake, Marcus, and Aeon were late. Though it was a single, straight street from their base in the city to the battlefield, they had managed to get lost twice; not including the time Marcus took a ‘shortcut’ that eventually led them to the right spot after twenty minutes of meandering. Now, they popped up through a side street to see Bhlewos skewer three soldiers with his polearm. He began to whirl them around his head, spinning them like chunks of meet on a kebab, watching as their limbs flailed, spraying bits of armor and blood as they went. Finally, after a final flourish, Bhlewos gave his weapon a mighty heave upwards, sending them spiraling through the air. One body landed with a thud of finality, facedown, in front of the three.



“That was rather unnecessary..” Aeon backed away from the body.



“Indeed,” Marcus sighed and wiped his face. Jake looked around, saw that there weren’t many soldiers left, and motioned to the other two.



“Come on, or all the fun will be over.” They followed him into the fighting. Immediately, two guards detached themselves from a horde of soldiers attempting to keep Blizzard at bay. Tired of fighting a hopeless battle, they looked around for easier meat and saw the three of them, looking a little unsure as they made their way between pockets of fighting. Jake looked up as the two guards approached, axes aloft. He drew his fish blade and parried as the first one swung. The blades met; Jake’s broke. He swore, looking down at the broken weapon. Marcus took over for him as he backed away from the battle, his blade now useless. Aeon came over, waved an arm, reconnecting the two pieces together.



“Don’t try to meet something that heavy in a straight-on parry, you’ll come out the loser every time.”



Well, that’s what we have you for.”



Aeon shrugged. “Just letting you know, my weapons can’t stand that much stress. Just because I made them with magic doesn’t mean they have special powers or anything.” Jake looked down at his sword. There wasn’t even a crack left.



“How come you get to use magic and I don’t?”



Aeon shrugged again and moved up to help Marcus fight. He raised one arm, unsheathing six swords from various sheaths on his back. Each one whirled around in mid-air before stabbing down on one of the guards, turning his head into a rather messy pin-cushion. The other guard turned to look at his companion, then drew one of the swords out of the head and chucked it back at Aeon. Marcus erected a magical shield that stopped the blade cold in mid-air. Aeon raised his arm again, turning the sword around and sending it straight back at the guard. He toppled over dead.



A long, low note sang through the air. It was a war-horn, but nobody in Requiem owned one. The members of Requiem looked up, while the remnants of Kobi’s guards retreated, a pitiful group of three badly injured soldiers. None of the archers remained alive, their bodies lying among the rest of the 13 Lord of Chaos army. In the distance, coming in from the eastern entrance of Wa-Kia, were fresh reinforcements, men from any and every ally coalesced into one elite force. They were part of Kobi’s last-ditch effort to control the battlefield, and had been held in reserve up till now. At the head of this army were Kobi’s generals, faces hard and eyes glittering. The soldiers of Requiem gathered together, tired and bloody. The only thing that kept them going was the knowledge that this was going to be the last battle.



Then, behind them, the marching of many feet, now close. They turned to see Lizargeco, red eyes glowing, at the head of an enormous army of Guardians. All in black armor, all wielding weapons of enormous size. Hands crackled with dark energy, chests open and empty. No heartbeats among these soldiers. They surged in, an unstoppable tide of destruction, eager to engage in battle. The fight now truly began.
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Ch. 53: Nightmare
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