The Arkanist
Author: surfingpanda7

Chapter 18

A smooth brazen horn thundered into Kale’s ears. They pulsated like the beats of a drum, deep and heavy. The sounds chased through the beaming white hall, the passing figures a blur of black and white. What was happening? Dazed, Kale felt a soft silky hand caress his shoulder. He blinked, darting his eyes down on his shoulder and blinked again.

A Mier stood beside him, cloaked in watery silver robes that fell like a cascading falls. The Mier was a man, though Kale only knew by its nose. Both sexes of Mier looked alike, but their difference lay with their facial structure. Under it’s wide white hood, the Mier’s teal skin shimmered as if crafted of sapphire gems and its deep blue tattoos burned stark against the light skin.

The Mier’s mouth was small and sealed, hardly discernable. It looked Kale in the eyes; their fiery yellow eyes blazing like the sun. A long thin needle-like slit of black sliced through the yellow and their eyelids blinked from the sides, not from the top and bottom. Kale had never really seen their eyes, for when he had passed earlier, they were all closed.

It did not speak, but tapped its hand against Kale’s shoulder and motioned with its head to follow him. Kale obeyed, watching its movements closely. After Kale had displayed with his eyes and face that he would follow, the Mier nodded curtly and waved its arm. It stirred into motion, gliding across the lustrous white floor and down the wending stairs down to the main hall, which was scaled with white bodies.

Most bowed on their knees before shrines of worship or the goddess Eariea, praying with their hands tied tightly together in odd formations. Though none spoke, nothing made a sound, save for the clicks of their feet. It was odd. It was a soundless chaos, a soundless fright. But still, the great fear and suspense pervaded the hall zipping through the massive room like lightning. In fact, it was worse.

Kale followed the Mier out of the hall, the shimmering black water roaring like a thousand dragons as it plummeted off the precipice. Red mist licked off the drop and swirled with the viscous winds and current. The gleam of Kave from outside challenged the Darkness that engulfed the city, but Kale could see the red mist overhead fainter and thinner. It was a sign. A sign that Kale knew would give hope.

The horns sounded again, loud and regal. Kale’s ears pulsed as the graceful Mier swept through the stark white towers and halls of the city on the river, turning and wending through the stone streets like a snake. Kale followed closely, the silver glint of the Mier’s cloak clawing at the oppressive dark. It was fighting to be freed, to allow light to shine. The Mier stopped before a high wooden door, banded with silver inscriptions from Aesairia. The door was that of a high white tower ripping through the sky like a spear of light. At its peak, there was a iron bell singing with great ringing beats shaking the ground.

The Mier brushed his long blue fingers along the grain and the door to the high tower opened. Kale rushed inside, following the commands of the Mier and chased him up the serpentine staircase, winding speedily up the many rungs. The fluttering silver cloak glinted like churning silver water, prancing with light and writhing along the stone incline.

As they scaled the tight rungs, the sapphire torches roared in the ears and caressed their faces with gasps of heat and warmth. The Mier had reached the top quickly and motioned for Kale to climb a ladder up to the light floor. Kale obeyed, scurrying up the wood and stepped out of the trapdoor and was heaved up by a pair of hands as if he weighed less than a feather.

“Thank you.” Said a familiar voice to the Mier and the blue man left, retreating back down to the chaos swarming the streets.

Kale swayed, finding his balance. Standing on either side of him, Eaon and Ekin stood watch of the city with grim faces. They rung the bell one last time, the thunderous explosion of sound destroying Kale’s ears. Their bodies danced with flickering flashes of blue flame as above; hanging from the domed ceiling a great hearth of the sapphire flame licked the stacked wood underneath and farther below that the bell. Both were signs.

“What is happening? Where am I?” Asked Kale, seeing far down below the narrow streets clustered with people with blue torches.

“We’re being attacked.” Said Eaon, his silver robes rippling fiercely as the grating winds hissed through the endless night.

“How?” Asked Kale. “When?”

“Now.” Said Ekin, his face stony. “We have received word that the Enemy is soon approaching.”

“But how?”

“There were survivors that night at Shaar when the citadel went up in flames. I’m sure those that had lived were quick to inform the Oppressive One of what happened and where we might be headed. Berrik would have surely told him even before he captured us at Tarar. The Oppressive One has known a while of our movements and our motives. It is now he is launching his attack.”

“When will it come?” Asked Kale.

“We cannot tell for sure.” Said Eaon. “But all we know is that the last message we received was from our outpost just west. They will, I think be here very shortly. It said that the Enemy was vast with more numbers than this city has to fight. The forces of the Oppressive One took the Watch Tower of Earari and now come here with great speed. We are with luck that our message was sent before the tower was overthrown.” He paused. “And that means that you two must leave; and leave quickly.”

Ekin scowled, “I will not leave. I will not look a coward before the Oppressive One. I will not turn my back again, I must stay and fight.”

“And if you die what then?” Asked Eaon harshly. “This is not the time for you to send a message, Ekin. You have already done that with the death of Berrik Barrath. If you die, the entire mission will be forfeit. Please, Ekin, you must listen to me.”

“What honor would I have if I left without a fight?” Ekin asked.

“You won’t have any honor if you died.” Said Eaon. “Remember what I said to you.”

“We must leave, Ekin, it is not worth it.” Kale pleaded. “There will be other battles for you to fight, but this is not it.”

“Listen to the boy, Ekin.” Said Eaon. “Give up this one. Protect the realm. Do your duty as a Knight.”

“My duty is to fight against the Enemy.” Said Ekin.

“Your duty is to protect the people of Runir.” Eaon said. “There are more ways to fight than with a sword, Ekin. This is one of those times.”

Ekin stared out into the darkness, his glassy eyes glinting as the contorted bolts of red light lanced in the distance.

“This is not a time to debate.” Said Eaon. “They are coming. We cannot linger here in this tower until they show at out doorstep.”

Ekin turned. “We shall leave.”

“Follow me.” Said Eaon and he swept off town the tower with a whip of his billowing cloak. “We must make haste.”

Kale raced down the spiraling rungs of the tower, the song of bells thundering in his ears. He ran his hand along the smooth white stone, feeling the curve. It was smooth and dry, forged well. Kale continued to twirl down and down and down, the blue torches whispering as he past. Maybe they were warning him about something. Maybe they were trying to tell him something. But what?

Ekin chinked loudly, his gleaming armor burning in the blue light, almost consuming the torches’ energy. As he passed the flames seemed to be drawn into the steel and converted into energy and light, for the armor pulsed with white-blue magic. Eaon was too far ahead for Kale to catch a glimpse of his fluttering robes stumbling down the stairs.

They reached the bottom in little time and Eaon led them on through the city of light. The streets were clad in bustling people, all trying to prepare or search for safety. Kale almost lost Ekin ahead of him, for he was pushed back by the waves of churning people. Some were Alduri, Kale saw, looking at their pale skin. Some were Mier; their blue faces and sealed mouths distinctive. Though some, Kale did not know what they were, maybe Shenns, Hhadors? He did not know.

He did know that there were a lot of people. Too many. It took all of his strength just to push through the walls and stay a fair distance from Ekin without loosing him. He tried calling out to him, but Ekin did not turn, just plowed his way through. The light of his armor kept Kale from loosing him, it was vibrant and beaming, hard to miss in the shadows.

Eaon led them out of the crowd and onto a side street less crowded. It was darker here and Ekin’s light seemed drowned by the heavy shadows. Still it strained to pulse like feeble heartbeats. The stone floor was smooth underfoot and laced with symbols, a reminder of where the Zeian had come from. Kale did know what they meant though he watched them pass under him as he ran by. Eaon was remarkably quick, too quick. He bounced lithely on the balls of his feet and raced off into the dark streets, his silver hair rippling behind him.

Eaon led them to the west end of the city on the river, where he gestured them into a small white stable. “In.” He said softly, “Get in.”

Kale walked under the high threshold, followed by Ekin. The hall was high and tapered up with hulking white pillars and a grey stone floor. A long blue hearth flickered in the center of the hall and great braziers shivered as they hung from the roof. Eaon wandered to the back room and pulled back two creatures Kale had never seen before. They were big, and gleaming as if their scaled skin was crafted of diamonds. It stood on four legs, like a horse, but its figure and structure was different. It was leaner, and bigger, with a angled body. Curving horns of translucent blue-white spiked off their sides and their head was shaped like an arrowhead, with blazing blue eyes that were wreathed in writhing flame.

Eaon caressed the animal’s silky, watery skin, “These are the last Aemeri of their kin. They are an ancient race of creatures, only to inhabit the realm of Aesairia long ago. We saved two upon our exit, a female and a male, so that their kin could live on. Though this darkness is not kind to them. They are a being of white and light, forged out of the magic hands of the Three Sisters, not by the Brothers of Shadow.”

“We cannot ride these.” Ekin said. “We do not know how. And what if we are caught?”

“The Aemeri will lead you to Vorr, I have already spoken to them.” Eaon said. “They are quick and fast, faster than anything that walks this earth. Take them and leave quickly. The Enemy will soon be here. And when they come, you must be far, far away.”

“Where will you go?” Asked Kale.

“I must stay here.” Eaon said. “I must stay and protect my people, the people of Kave.”

“But you can’t! What if-”

“What if I die?” Said Eaon. “Have faith child. I have not forgotten the magic I once mastered so long ago. I will fight for the survival of Kave and the survival of the Zeian tonight. This is my battle. Now go. You must not be seen leaving.”

Ekin bowed humbly, “I pray for your safety, Eaon, so that we may speak again.”

“Do not worry, Knight of Abelon.” Eaon said. “We shall meet again.”

Ekin nodded and turned to Kale, “Let us go.”

Eaon helped them walk the Aemeri out of the stables and onto the arcing bridge over the river. The Aemeri’s skin sparkled as the glints of silver and red pranced across the rushing water. The creature’ feet were gilded and shaped like horns, curving upwards. Eaon helped Kale onto the creature’s smooth, filmy back.

Eaon tapped Kale on the thigh, “Take this to Szen.” He held out his arm, his palm gleaming with a gilded light. It was a coin, engraved with the head of Iura on once side and a tree on the other. “Give it to him when you find him. Tell him that Eaon sent you.” Kale felt the cool coin fall into his soft palm. It was heavy. He closed his hand around it, his fingers like iron bars in a prison cell. “I will.” He murmured.

Eaon stepped back and gazed out into the black distance and back at Ekin. “Farewell, Ekin and you Kale.” He said. “Let the Darkness fear you.” And he chanted in the ancient language of Zieri, “Khaveesi vala zieni asserin!” And the Aemeri reared into the air in a song of tremendous grace and melody. When they landed back down, they shot away into the black expanse and turned north upstream to Vorr.

Eaon heard it. A thrumming like a bowstring. A pulse like a heartbeat. It drummed against the stone ground, reverberating and pervading. They were coming.

He looked back on Kave, the lights streaming down through the mists. There were shadowy figures marching forward, clad in white and gold armor with spiking shoulders and elegant helms of arcing steel. Under their enameled white-scaled plates, a hissing gold ringmail hauberk fell down and still under that a thick padded leather breast coat. They marched in a song of metal beats, thumping along the hard stone bride.

In their gauntleted hands, the first vanguard of men grasped long piercing spears with iron teeth, glinting gold in the white light that flushed down on them. A wall of curving shields lined their left and created a barrier of metal. The first vanguard marched quickly, their faces stiff and determined. They were Alduri, Hhador, Zeian, Shenn’s, any race. Though all had one cause.

The second vanguard followed close behind, this one thicker and broader. The men were garbed in the same armor, but in their hands, long greatswords glinted in the white light, their silver blades running with black and white bars of light. They held the same shields as the first van, though theirs were smaller and more elegant in shape. Eaon watched them pass, chanting instructions of position.

Marching still, the third row of soldiers held massive elm bows, curving like a woman’s body. On their metal backs, a great quiver of swan-fletched arrows bristled like a field of high grass. Sheathed in leather at their sides, thin blades of steel bobbed with their motions. There were no more to follow. Eaon knew they would be greatly outnumbered and overpowered, but he knew he had to fight. He knew he had to try.

When the soldiers were all in position before the west bank of the River Vhaa, Eaon walked up the ranks, the lines of armored men standing stiff and strong. When he made his way to the front, another Zeian confronted him, his angular face grim. “We do not have enough men.”

“How many are we?” Asked Eaon.

“At the most one thousand. Maybe eight hundred at the least.” Stated the Zeian. He glanced at Eaon wearily. “Is it true, what the people are saying? Please tell me it is not true, Eaon.”

“It is true.” Said Eaon, looking into black. “The Niron are coming.”

“Then we do not stand a chance.” Said the Zeian. “Against the might of the Niron we cannot win this battle. The Knights themselves had difficulty beating them. They are too strong, Eaon.”

“And we are too weak?” Said Eaon harshly. “Do you forget what you are, Ellon? You are a Zeian, one of the last from the lands of Aesairia. Do you forget the magic we posses. Do not think these thoughts of yours. Do not give up hope so easily before you have swung your first blow. These beats can be killed like anything else in the world. It is whether you’re to be the one who does it or not.”

Ellon stared at Eaon, then out into the horizon. Eaon chanted out into the night, “Ready yourselves! Have hope! Have strength! Victory is ours. We must take it… seize it! Fight for your land, not your race, not for a leader, fight for your realm! Fight for light!”

The army of one thousand roared to life, battering their swords against their shields and pumping their weapons into the air. The roars awakened the gloomy black night and the chants of victory and battle pervaded the red sky. It was then when they saw the Enemy.

One the crest of a hill, the first red light peeked over the earth, licking the black horizon with a vibrant red flame. The chanting faded and they watched nervously as the greater force marched over the shadowy earth. Eaon’s eyes narrowed and he ripped off his flapping white robes, where underneath, he wore a tight fitting white tunic, embedded with patches of glistening silver ringmail.

Clasped on his brown leather belt, a small cylinder of white-silver substance shimmered as the volts of searing red light flashed across the expanse. He took it in hand, loosening it from its holder. It was light, weighing almost nothing. He caressed the side of it with his hand and muttered a word in Zieri, “Envias.” Suddenly, the cylinder began to burn with white-blue light and in a burst of light, the small tube extended out on either side, growing in length until it was as tall as the Zeian.

At its peak, two arms of white wrapped around to form a cradle, like a hand. The bars of white angled up, where from their tips, a faint shifting light sifted to the center. When the strands of light hit, there was a great explosion of white and when the darkness ate the light, there was a single sphere of white-blue light, swirling with an ancient magic.

The sphere was called in the Zieri, a Zonn, it was where their magic was kept, it was their source, their supply. If the Zonn ran out, so too would their magic. The Zeian depended on their Zonn; it was their magic hearts, pulsing with a great energy and force. The great Zeian, Auen, developed this magic where in his secret forges he created the first ever Zonn, infusing it with all his power and substance. When it was created, a part of him left his body and entered into the sphere of energy and magic. And so from that day, the magic has been known as Auency. The magic of the Zeian.

Dotting the black hill, beads of ruby red shimmered through the darkness, slowly marching down. The army was big, or at least big enough. At its rear, the hulking Niron boars thundered against the ground, grumbling deeply. Their eyes burned with an intense fire, deep and true, blazing from the beasts’ heart. Eaon gulped as he saw the numbers marching toward them, the banners rippling with the Red Hand and the torches burning. He saw the foul weapons of the Scirr. They bobbed through the darkness, the great lancing flashes of red light illuminating them in the blink of an eye.

The army flattened out from the hill and rumbled like a growing wave toward Kave, spears and shields drawn, blades clapping against blades, steel singing. The Scirr roared monstrously, loud and fierce, deep and guttural. They spoke in His language, the language of the Dark Brothers. The language of the shadow gods. The sounds ripped at Eaon’s ears like snagging iron and he pushed them away, trying not to focused on the demoralizing chants of death and bloodshed.

The army of the Oppressive One halted before the first vanguard of Kave, both groups of men and monster looking at each other sternly. Then all went silent, the chants, everything. The barren black separation between them curled with crimson mist and Eaon gripped his staff harder. The two armies stood, waiting.

Ash fell like rain, cool and biting, harsh and heavy. Mist hissed and twirled through the sky, whispering things. Lighting crackled, red light flashed. Wind screamed. The shot was fired.

The black fletched arrow quivered on the chest of a soldier beside Eaon, ripping through steel and flesh. The man fell to the dark earth in a pervading crunch as the wood snapped and his armor clapped. It was then the battle began in an explosion of striking red light and monstrous roars from both sides.

Eaon shot his hand into the air, screaming, “Archers!” His voice boomed through the night. “Notch!” The third group of men, the bowmen, fumbled with their wood bows, drawing an arrow from their quivers. They notched it on the string. “Draw!” Eaon commanded. The archers pulled on the fletching, the pliant elm wood moaning as it bent. They raised and held, the tension burning their arms. Eaon waited, until the first vanguard of the Enemy stirred in a barreling thunderous stampede. “Loose!” And the bowmen let their arrows loose, the string launching them into the night sky.

The thin spears of wood whistled through the air, lost in the darkness. The volley hung in the air then dropped, their iron arrowheads diving towards the charging Scirr. The arrows pierced the ranks of on running Enemy soldiers, felling many. Eaon chanted again, the Scirr coming closer. “Reload and Draw! Wait for my command!” The archers drew another arrow from their bulging quivers, notched and drew and waited for the command, their eyes squinted into the night.

Eaon kept his hand raised until he saw the glinting metal arrowheads of the Enemy’s arrows flying through the dark night sky and soaring down on them with great speed. “Raise shields!” he yelled, “Incoming volley!” Some heard some did not. The arrows snagged at dozens of men, dropping them to the ground with curt grunt or yelps as they drove through the white armor.

“Loose!” Eaon screamed to his archers, dropping his hand and the volley of arrows soared overhead, catching several more Scirr as more an more pounded closer and closer. Eaon fastened his staff into his right hand, the Zonn permeating with a pulsing white light strong and powerful. He shouted at the first van, “Ready your spears, ready your shields!” The soldiers obeyed, shoving their heavy and massive shields before their bodies and holding their long spears on the sides of the shield, the piercing metal spike ready to stab.

The Scirr rumbled like a storm, their weapons wailing in the darkness and their savage chants burning the ears. Eaon waited then released the command. “Charge!” And the first van, followed by the second stirred into a full sprint, the sound of clinking steel loud and clear. The two armies pounded across the dark field and met with a clash and the song of death and chaos began.

Soldiers hacked and stabbed and jabbed and sliced. Blades gleamed with blood; cries of pain crackled with the lighting and the scratching of steel and crunching of bone and flesh consumed the battleground. Blood splattered, soldiers fell, spirits drifted. Each way Eaon looked, there was death, there was a battle, there was the clang of steel. Each way he looked, there was chaos, a determined chaos.

Eaon’s men pushed through the ranks of the Scirr, plowing the creatures over with their shields or stabbing with their spears. Eaon drew out his thin, curving, elegant blade of Zeian make and twirled through the chaos, stabbing with the cool and unforgiving blade, the steel sliding through flesh and the point biting at skin and bone.

He saw overhead another volley of arrows shot past overhead, whistling through the curling mists. He swung with his staff, the magic shooting into a Scirr like a bolt of lightning, knocking it back and killing the thing in a mere second. The power was great and grand; it could not be wasted. He had to save it. Save it for the Niron.

A Scirr lunged at him, cloaked in shadow. Eaon deflected the strike and swung, driving his blade into soldier’s neck. Blood squirted out, spraying his face. It was black. The host of Harfir was dense and thick, and the soldiers of Kave pushed through, charging with all their might a strength, rolling through the walls of soldiers like boulders running down mountains. The crimson clasps flickered in the endless night, ripping through the black sky.

Eaon battled, slowly pushing himself towards the Niron. Upon their massive, spiked backs the Nirr controlled the beasts, and felled many of Kave’s men. In the flashing light, through the illuminated ash, the Niron were immense, with horns larger than Eaon himself. Their eyes were wreathed in a wicked flame and their skulls were wide and fierce teeth large enough to shame a dragon.

Eaon watched again another of his soldiers fall to the earth as he was pierced by an arrow. Then another collapsed, a glinting black blade protruding through his armor. They were loosing. Eaon knew what he had to do. He had little time and he was already behind. It was not a good sign.

As he charged through the ranks of Scirr soldiers, dodging and twirling and slashing and hacking, he could hear the orders from the host of Harfir booming out into the night like thunder, chanting in the language of Him, the Andiri. From behind him, his own men chanted in a continuous cycle, “Notch, Draw, Loose!” Sending dozens of volleys singing overhead, driving into the heart of the Scirr host.

Eaon watched another of his soldiers battling, parrying blows and countering well. Though he was knocked on his back and the Scirr closed in slowly for the kill. Eaon reared, and drove his blade through the Scirr with a crack. The soldier thanked him and rolled onto his feet. Eaon continued on, but when he looked back, the soldier he had just saved lay dead on the ashy earth.

The battle rumbled through the night, ash falling, light flickering, steel clashing. The constant roar of men pervaded the field and the sounds of death and defeat consumed everything. War was full of death. It was inescapable, but there are those who die and also those who live. Eaon knew that he had to live, but to live, he would have to deal death. Everyone in war experienced death, the foulest of things.

Thin blades of red mist shot into the sky with each death, vaporous and eerie. The bodies evaporated and were imprisoned in the Mist above. The sounds of whispers snuck through the battlefield, snaking through the shadows and taking hold of the dead and wounded, carrying them away into the sky.

Eaon ran through the curling mist, staff and blade in hand, each glowing with light and radiance. The Zonn pulsed with his heart, pumping magic through his veins, fueling him, building up his supply of energy. In his days in Aesairia he had mastered the arts of Auency, but in Runir, new challenges with the magic had arose. One such being when the Oppressive One conquered the land and overthrew the Knights, the eternal night disrupted the magic. All was too dark and the Zonn’s energy weakened.

He had to find a way to build up his energy and draw upon the Zonn only, nothing else. He had to find a way to expel the dark shadows clinging to the light, trying to destroy it. One thousand years it took him to discover the secrets and allow his true powers to settle in once again. He had found it and now he would use it.

He ran, dashing through the ranks of Scirr, swiping and felling as he went until there was a clear path, a path clear of Scirr, but in their place a Niron boar stood on its four massive legs, hulking and monstrous. In the flickering red light, the beast’s stony skin was grey and hard, with cracks in the flesh. It was thick and strong and the Nirr on it’s spiking back was cloaked in a mantle of shadow, all that Eaon could see were two red slits, glowering at him. Eaon sheathed his blade; it would do him no good now, and grasped his staff in both hands, the Zonn burning white like the sun at midday.

The Niron stirred, and roared a storm of thunder, the earth quaking beneath Eaon’s feet. It was time. Eaon dug his staff into the ground, and closed his eyes, connecting with the Zonn. His mind was one with the sphere, and he let the magic rush into his body and when he opened his eyes, they glowed white like the moon. He charged.

His staff arcing upwards, he drew upon the magic and swept off the ground and flew through the air, landing with an explosion of white mist licking off his body. The Nirr shouted words in the language of the Niron, fast and guttural. Eaon dodged the Niron’s charge and swung his staff around, building up the energy and thrust it towards the Niron. The power charged in the Zonn, then released, shooting out and collided with the beast, enveloping it in tendrils of white wire.

The monster roared, and Eaon leapt forward, blasting through the night and landed on the spiked back of the beast. He came face to face with the Nirr, cloaked in black, his red eyes blazing into Eaon’s with a wicked fire. The Nirr slammed Eaon with a force of shadow and mist, throwing him off the monster. He hit the ground hard and slid, tearing at his side. The tendrils began to face from the Niron and its master reared it toward Eaon.

He rolled with his staff and shot a blade of white at the boar, but it broke through the attack and rammed into Eaon, its fiery eyes burning his face. Eaon struggled to hang on, groaning as he tried to heaved himself up. He drew upon his Zonn and lurched upwards, driving towards the Nirr. They collided and he threw them both off the Niron’s back, rolling on the ground as they hit.

The Nirr leapt up first and hurled a blast of energy at Eaon, who managed to parry the force with a blast from his Zonn. He let the magic charge and twirled the staff around himself, fueling his body so that it glowed white. He spun the staff still and held the energy until the Nirr charged and released. From out of his Zonn, a tornado of whit energy and force hurled toward the Nirr.

It engulfed the creature, ripping and thrashing it to and fro until Eaon terminated the flow and lunged toward the Nirr and drew his blade out in a flash of white. His blade slid into the Nirr’s black heart in a flash and ripped it out, the light masked by black blood, dripping off the tip and pooling beneath. The Nirr dropped to its knees and faded to red mist and drifted up into the sky.

The Niron charged again at Eaon, still even though its master had died. Eaon leapt into the sky, using his Auency and spun, his energy waxing and unleashed it in a blast of white shards of glass-like spears, driving into the boar’s stony side. The boar lurched, injured, then charged on last time, hitting Eaon in the side. The Zeian cried out in pain as he felt a crack and e dropped to he ground. He groaned, grappling fro his staff.

He locked his fingers around the shaft, letting the magic flow into him and directed the light into his body, healing his wound. He knew he shouldn’t have immediately when he did, for it had drained almost all of his energy and magic. Healing with Auency always did. He rolled up onto his feet again, his head reeling and his body drooping. He saw the Niron charge again, and he tried to use his Zonn, but the light had faded and the magic would not respond to such a request.

Suddenly, in a searing branch of lighting, the Niron dropped to the ground, white flame licking off the body and curling up into the sky where the crimson talons of death snatched up the Niron and lugged it up into the Mist. Standing over Eaon’s kneeling figure was Ellon, his brother, his Zonn pulsing with energy and light, his eyes blazing with radiant white flame.

“My brother…” Eaon breathed as Ellon supported his weight.

“Indeed,” Said Ellon. “It is I, Ellon, your brother.”

“What is happening?” Asked Eaon wearily. “How are we faring? How are our men?”

“We are loosing,” Ellon said bluntly, “Though are men still have hope. Miraculous these Alduri, they seem to have much hope. Far more than some would think. They still fight, strong and determined. They will never stop.”

“That is why I have chosen to safe-guard the Alduri.” Said Eaon, leaning heavily on his staff. “That is why I protect them. It is because I know they have the heart, the hope to overthrow the oppressive and create a knew world here.”

“If that is what you want,” Said Ellon. “Then we cannot loose this battle. We must defeat them. They may have hope, but if they are just Alduri, they cannot contend with the Niron.”

“Indeed.” Said Eaon. “That is our duty to them. We are the only ones left strong enough to defeat them.”

“Then let us challenge them.” Ellon said at last, his eyes flaring.

Eaon nodded, feeling his body lifting in spirit and in health. His wounds were being healed, his body mending. He could feel the tendrils of flesh lacing together like string. His magic began to grow as well, slowly coming back to him, his Zonn growing brighter with each pulse.

“I have killed two.” Said Ellon. “Though I was not alone. The Hhador, they helped. They are mysterious those desert-dwellers, but their skin as hard as rock and dark as night and they do not give up. They used their long spears and arcing blades with great curves and spikes in the steel. They will help, Eaon.”

“Then let us go. Let us destroy them all.”

“We must stick together.” Said Ellon. “I sent the host of the Hhador to contend with the last Nirr and Niron. But there is still one more that journeyed from Moram.”

“Do not tell me…” Eaon muttered grimly.

“I must.” Said Ellon, nodding his head solemnly. “Argund is here.”

“It is bold to send their leader.” Said Eaon. “Too bold. Let us see this Nirr dead like the lot of them. Let him go to the Mists. For as many as he’s killed, he deserves to have the same fate.”

“Agreed.” Said Ellon.

“And I shall be the one to kill him.” Said Eaon. “You know what he did to me…”

“I remember well, Eaon. Too well.”

“Then we must seek vengeance for the fallen.” Said Eaon.

Ellon nodded and they started off through the darkness, racing through the fighting men. Their staves radiated a burning white and illuminated their angular faces, their liquid silver hair glimmering in the light as they rushed by. Ellon stabbed at a Scirr, then cleaned the blade with his white garments, the black blood sinking into the cloth.

Eaon wended through the chaos; arrows soaring; spears jabbing, swords clashing and steel singing. The ash had stopped falling, but in its place came the rain. It came down wickedly, thrashing down vigorously, the crackles of flickering lightning illuminating the silvery needles rushing down in great red flashes. The rain was hard and beat on the two Zeian as they ran, piercing them like spears of water.

Around them, the rain rapped on the metal plate armor and shields and raced down the slick helms like tears. The gods were weeping. But for what? Was it all this bloodshed? Eaon remembered long ago tales of the gods crying during war. They cried for they saw their creations, their children dying at the hands of their own children. They could not stand it.

The Mist whispered louder and louder with each death, growing larger and large as the bodies turned to red vapor and drifted away. The Mist roared at the deaths, the sights from down below. Eaon thought he heard the Oppressive One laugh, but it was just thunder. Or was it…?

The two Zeian charged through the ranks of tightly packed Scirr, their blades cutting and swiping until they emerged and stopped still. In the crimson crackles of light from above and the flashes of rain, Argund stood atop his great and powerful Niron boar. Though this one’s skin was darker, almost black, glinting eerily in the red strikes of light. The beast’s twirling blood red horns were larger than the rest of the boars and its spikes along its stony back were as larger as its hulking legs.

Argund was cloaked in shadow, the black and red mist curling off his body like robes. His blazing red eyes flickered with a wicked fire, staring at them malevolently. “Ah.” The lead Nirr rasped, his voice deep and scratchy like metal grinding against metal. “I see you have come for revenge, Eaon, great Zeian.” He laughed, malice seeping from his mouth. He stood and opened his arms. “Here I am.”

Eaon did not speak, but flared his Zonn, as did his brother. Their eyes and bodies licked with white flame, radiating light and power.

“You were always quite.” Scratched Argund. “Though I remember you screamed when I thrust my blade into you’re beloved Eyya’s heart.”

Eaon gripped his staff.

“Do you remember, Eaon? Do you remember her scream? Do you remember those eyes? Those black eyes looking up at you. Do you remember her fading to mist? Do you?”

Eaon did, he just had to get closer to tell him. In a crimson flash of blinding light Eaon thrust his staff back and released his flow of stored magic, blasting himself into the air and towards Argund. The Nirr’s fiery eyes widened and Eaon unsheathed his old dagger. It was black steel, wickedly forged and crafted by shadows. It was Argund’s. The one he had killed his wife with. He would return it at long last.


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