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Old 09-24-2009, 08:52 AM   #42
Ehlmaris
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The dragons reach familiar territory after a mere two days of constant flight. The force is unaware of fatigue, of hunger as they press forward. As the land passes below them, though, the scenes ahead grow increasingly unfamiliar.

Smoke pours out of the mines at the foothills of the Council. Dragons are chained to carts loaded with glistening gems carved from the depths of the earth. Darislav soldiers direct them toward the capital, strange weapons in their hands. Weapons exactly like that of the Darkforger. As the Imperial City comes into view, a translucent purple shield is visible around it.

"They've made progress, I see," Dranath says. "That shield is powered by the gems they've been harvesting." He squints his eyes as it draws closer and closer. "But it's not complete!" The man points forward excitedly. "There! At the top! There's a hole! That's our way in!"

Jacuel roars in acknowledgment, taking the lead. Clint breathes deeply as they approach. His red armor glistens in the morning sun, which has painted the sky just as red. Storm clouds approach on the horizon. "This is one hell of a day for a fight," he thinks out loud as they swoop inward through the hole in the shield.

Cries erupt from the streets, and peasants point upward at the once-familiar sight of the Riders. Some smile in hope. Others rush to their homes. The soldiers on the ground merely take aim. Thor sees them, and cries out: "HOLD ON!"

Blasts of energy fire upward at the group. The dragons swoop through the air, evading them with nothing resembling ease. With one final flap of their wings, they slow their ascent just above the rooftops before setting down with a mighty roar.

The swordsmen from the east leap from the carts, singing their songs of war as they slice forward at the soldiers of the Empire. Clint and Thor slice the ropes securing the carts to their dragons.

Dranath jumps out of a cart as a blast of energy strikes it, sending splinters of wood flying. "Go to the Palace! We'll keep them distracted!" He shuts his eyes and raises his staff, and the winds pick up. The storm clouds draw nearer, bolts of lightning striking the shield above with devastating force.

Thor follows Clint into the Imperial Palace. "The Council's likely on their way. I know they saw us approaching. I just hope that this Brightmoon can pierce the shield in time."

Clint draws his blade on a soldier at the gates, slicing the weapon from his hands. He grabs his head and slams it into the wall, and the guard collapses. "I hope so, too." He presses onward. "Let's get to the throne room."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Outside the Palace, the battle rages on. The shield above is growing weaker as the forces of nature pound at it. Lightning pierces holes through the upper reaches, tempestuous winds hurl trees and boulders at its base. It begins to flicker as the dragons of the Council draw near with their Riders.

The High Master of the Order of the Singing Blade continues to hum his songs, cutting down the soldiers and deftly dodging the energy blasts that have thus far decimated his men.

Dranath begins to sweat, exerting his powers to their fullest. The remaining troops concentrate on forming a perimeter around him, cutting down all soldiers who aim their gem-rifles in his direction.

The shield flickers. Dranath opens his eyes. A bright yellow flashes forth from them. The clouds let loose, and thousands of bolts of lightning pierce downward, striking the shield with the full wrath of the natural world. It shatters in a massive explosion, forcing the combatants below to the ground.

A lone soldier reaches for his rifle and takes aim at the old man. With his last breath, he pulls the trigger.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Clint and Thor reach the throne room as the shield is broken. The screeches of dozens of dragons are heard in the distance as they kick the door open. Clint strides into the room, his swords at the ready.

At the balcony, Warbird gazes at the scene outside. Her purple robes have been replaced with a fiery red, and her auburn hair blows wildly behind her. The Darkforger turns around and raises his rifle, only to be met with an arrow lodging itself firmly in his throat as Thor enters.

"Hmph." Warbird turns and faces the men. "He was of no use anymore. His secrets are now mine." She walks forward. "Clint... why are you doing this?"

The Rider lowers one blade to his side, and points the other at Warbird. "I should ask you the same thing!"

She laughs. "That shield that you destroyed was going to protect this city for generations!" Her expression turns to that of a burning hatred. "I did this for Darislav!"

Thor readies another arrow, but the tip of a blade reaches the nape of his neck. "I wouldn't," Indrasil says as he steps around and into view, lowering the bow with his other hand.

Clint looks between the two, his eyes settling on Indrasil. "You know better than this! This caused the Cataclysm! Do you want to destroy the world?!"

Indrasil shakes his head. "The Ancients had nothing to do with that! They were peaceful! They used this technology to defend against the Gods!"

Warbird approaches, a wicked smile on her face. "The Gods are to blame for the Cataclysm. Turns out the Darkforger not only knew how to create all this," she says, raising her hands as she turns around to view the chaos outside, "but he knew the true story of the War of the Ancients."

Thor breathes deeply. "This is different. You've made weapons out of all this!"

Warbird turns back to the men. "Of course! Do you really think anyone wielding the power of the Ancients wouldn't be met with resistance?"

"You've imprisoned your own people, enslaved the Council!" Thor presses forward, but is pushed backward as Indrasil levels his sword with the man's neck.

Warbird raises a hand. "Say whatever you want. The both of you are now insignificant." The explosions of energy outside begin to grow louder. Dragons begin to fall from the sky. "Neither of you will change anything." A magical aura begins to grow around her.

"NO!" Clint yells, rushing forward. Indrasil turns to attack the man, but Thor elbows him in the face and draws his own blade, launching an offensive against the corrupted paladin.

Warbird steps to the side, her aura coalescing into a magical blade embedded with the gems harvested from the mountains. Clint somersaults forward, ducking under the blade as she swings at his torso. He begins to hum as he turns around, his expression the calmest it's been in days.

Thor presses forward, forcing Indrasil back as their blades clash. Indrasil raises his spare hand between parries and cries out, "Luminas!" A light shines forth, almost blinding Thor. The paladin takes advantage and swings forward, narrowly missing the Rider as he dives to the side. He grins as he steps toward Thor again, raising his blade high.

Warbird and Clint engage in a fierce, fast-paced duel. Clint's blades twirl around him, a lethal, captivating sight to behold. The rhythm of his strikes, the sounds of the blades clashing and grinding along each other forming a perfect harmony with the song he hums. Warbird swings ferociously, energy crackling forward every time the mage-blade meets steel.

Thor raises his blade, stopping Indrasil's as it comes down toward his shoulder. He slams his head into that of his opponent, then kicks him back. With two deft moves, Thor strikes his opponent's blade, then swings his own in a circular motion, launching the other sword through the air. It clatters to the floor yards away. Thor moves as if to run Indrasil through, but upon seeing the panic-stricken face before him, his expression turns to disgust as he rams the pommel of his sword into the paladin's face, knocking him out.

The energy swirls as Clint and Warbird's pace picks up. Suddenly, the energy bursts forth and strikes Clint. He cries out in pain and one of his blades hits the ground.

Thor turns to see Warbird thrust her blade through Clint's torso.

The blood seeps forth slowly, almost invisible on Clint's armor. "Warbird..." he utters. "This... isn't you." The woman's eye twitches as she drives the blade slowly further. Clint gasps in pain. "I would've... served Warbird," he says, blood making its way into his mouth. He coughs, spattering red fluid on the queen's face. "I would've followed... Warbird." She bites her lip as her jaw shakes. She gives one final thrust and the hilt of her blade reaches the breastplate.

"I... loved... Warbird." Clint spits the words out as his head inches downward. He forces his gaze to meet her eyes. "I loved... Allayn Warbird."

Thor drops his blade to the ground as Clint falls to his knees.

"But you're not her."

Clint uses the last of his strength to thrust the remaining sword in his grip into the woman's chest. She stumbles backward, looking down as her blood flows down its length. She falls to her knees and opens her mouth as if to speak. Only blood comes forth as she collapses to the floor. Clint takes his last breath and joins her on the blood-soaked floor.

The explosions outside begin to disperse. The triumphant roars of dragons are heard, interrupted only by one shrieking in pain as Droxi falls from the sky. Thor turns to see Jacuel follow after her, tears in the dragon's eyes. The world goes silent.

Thor looks around in disbelief, not even noticing the flash of divine light near him. He hears a voice cry out, but fails to recognize the words as Ehlmaris rushes forward, falling to his knees between the fallen. Tears stream down his face. Thor merely walks forward and places a hand on the king's shoulder, offering no response to the cries of "Why?"

((Final resolution will come soon. I feel that this is a good spot to take a break, though :P))
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