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 Chapter 28: Part 1: Ignition

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Red Blizzard

Posts : 164
Join date : 2011-05-30
Age : 25
Location : Elsewhere

PostSubject: Chapter 28: Part 1: Ignition   Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:29 pm

Author: Red Blizzard

He had never planned on being leader. Even when he had somehow adjusted to the position of leader, he felt awkward and unsure, always looking back after every major decision, wondering what would have unfolded had he decided differently. But the clan trusted his judgment. They had followed him this far, through war and hell. Now, they would just have to trust him a little longer. Long enough for him to commit an act that he would probably regret for the rest of his life. Nothing new there, he had enough to regret anyways.

Priest look his opponent lunged at him. Dye’s face…no, it was no longer Dye who inhabited this body. War had contorted the features beyond normal human limits, etching the lust for battle and inhuman rage against the enemy into every line of his face. Priest could barely make out a line of steel, the edge of War’s scimitar, hurtling towards him out of the inferno. He raised his white starsword almost reflexively, and barely had time to prepare for the impact as War crashed right into him. With one sweep of his blade, War sent Priest flying backwards into a stone building. The building shattered, as did the brick shop behind it and the succession of wooden ones that followed. Priest could only see flying woodchips and chunks of masonry as he tumbled head-over-heels across Wa-Kia. A jarring crunch, and Priest found himself upside-down against the city’s stone wall. He slid to the ground painfully, thick splinters digging into his back. And for five seconds, he just lay there.

Get up. Every bone was shattered or broken, he was sure of it... Get up. Where did all his strength and speed come from? He wasn’t human… Get up. Of course he wasn’t human, he was a god. A god just like Angel was, and Elitis and Kobi… Get up. Who did he think he was, pitting himself against one of the fates of the world? War was always there, following them in every decision he had ever made, every single one… Get up. It’s hopeless. His opponent was faster, stronger, more powerful… Get up. Priest groaned, spitting out dislodged teeth and blood. But he struggled to his knees nevertheless. One kneecap was shattered, gone right there. The other one had a splinter in it. He ignored it, putting all his weight onto it as he hobbled to his feet, unaided. Then he collapsed again. His feet were broken as well. Heal! Priest raised a mangled hand to his body, unleashed a brief glow of energy. One cracked rib snapped back into place, one lung stopped bleeding, but that was all. He was straining just to stay conscious. And War was coming! Looking up, he could see an orange figure rapidly approaching through the broken shops and houses created by his flight. No time. No choice. He quickly patched up his bones so that he could stand, then braced himself for the next impact.

War was there almost instantly. Priest thought for one foolhardy moment about attempting to deflect his attack, but with a solid rock wall behind him, his chances of survival were slim. Instead, he timed the attack. A second late and he would be flattened. A second early, and War would have time to alter course. When he could feel the flames from War’s orange aura, see the whites of his eyes, Priest lunged to one side with all the strength he could muster. What occurred was nothing more than a feeble dodge roll, but it did the trick. War barreled right through the city wall and into the woods beyond, torching the trees there. Priest immediately took off at a stately pace, limping towards what seemed to be the more-damaged side of town. Better not to bring destruction where it hadn’t come to yet. Along the way, he slapped himself with healing spells, reinforcing the temporary fixes from earlier and regrowing the skin over all his wounds. By the time he reached the main road again, he was back up to full fighting ability. Now he could rethink his strategy. Not that he had one to begin with. Killing War would never be easy as just walking up to him and stabbing him in the head, he knew that, but he had never thought it would be this impossible. Behind him, a crash. He spun around to see War charging him again, a plume of dark orange trailing.

“I can see you! Your little flashes of light won’t help you if you’re trying to hide!” Priest’s lips curled. Little flashes of light? That was an interesting way to put things. As War closed the gap between them, Priest fumbled about for his source of magic. There! A pillar of light erupted from his starsword, instantly flooding War’s face with white magic. As War stumbled out of the way of the beam of light, momentum unhinged, Priest delocalized the attack, spreading the beams of light out so that it covered the entire area. War cried out impotently, swinging his blade to and fro. But the temporary blindness had cost him. Priest dashed in and out of War’s orange aura, dancing between two tongues of flame. A sliver of light sang through the air. And War collapsed, stabbed in shoulders and the back of the knees and everywhere there was a crack between plates of Guardian armor. Priest landed several feet away to survey the damage. But no sooner had his feet touched the ground when War reared his head back and unleashed a howl that bowled Priest over backwards, shattered windows, and cracked the very pavement he stood on. It was not a howl of rage, not as far as Priest could tell. No, he was sure of it. War was smiling, laughter inaudible in the wake of his scream. He was loving it. Blood had been spilled, now the battle could commence in earnest.

As War got up, wounds still spurting blood, his aura began to change. The deep orange flames of uncontrollable anger became a crimson red bonfire that cast the burning city in a dull, bloody light. The light made Priest feel nauseous, and he let off a bit of his own, light aura, returning everything to its original, natural color around him. As he did so, the ringing in his ears finally stopped, and he could hear War’s laughter ringing out through the city. Wa-Kia had been ravaged by chaos troops, Shadowstorm minions, Cipher wielders, and a girl possessed by a demon. It had born witness to the terrifying whims of three of the four fates of men. Yet the fourth outshined them all in his sheer lust for bloodshed. Priest sincerely hoped that the townsfolk had evacuated the city in time. But as he looked around, his heart sank at the signs of telltale human presence. Here, a family portrait, lovingly painted by an artist from far away. Now, flames licked at the edges of the painting, peeling the paint away and disfiguring the faces. There, a stuffed doll, a teddy bear, one eye missing. Inches from it, the arm of a young girl, buried under rubble. The arm was lying in a dark liquid whose color could not be discerned among the light of the red flames. The girl might have been reaching for the doll, parents calling out desperately in the far distance for her to come, danger impending just inches over her head as she sought the one thing that would help her to fall asleep at night. Now she would sleep forever. Priest turned to War, the burning city reflected in his eyes. War was still laughing.

“You disgust me.”

“You surprise me! Who would’ve thought that a healer like you actually knew how to fight! You actually got me back there!”

“Let’s just end this already. You’ve done enough damage.”

“End this? The fight is just getting started!” War charged at him, still laughing, scimitar flaring above his head. Priest prepared to sidestep, but just when he thought he could time things properly, War sped up, throwing his counting off. In desperation, Priest raised his starsword as a last defense. The scimitar came swinging in from above, driving Priest nearly into the ground. The pavement cracked and cratered under his feet from the force from above. Priest’s entire body shook from the jarring impact. And inches above his head, stopped by only a beam of white light, was War’s blade, crackling with red flame. With only a moment to think, Priest shifted the weight towards the edge of his blade, then slid out from under the scimitar. War’s entire weight had been pressed down upon the scimitar, and as it came slicing down, Priest gave it a downwards kick towards the pavement for good measure, then came swinging upwards with his starsword. A moment too late. What could have been a killing blow was barely dodged as War moved his head out of the way. The tip of the blade scraped one cheek, cutting it open. But that was all. War responded with a barrage of slashes that drove Priest back down the street towards the middle of the town. Priest didn’t put any strength into his parries, instead allowing War’s blade to slide right by his body as he searched for an opening. But every time he went on the offensive, War was there, deflecting attacks with solid strokes or a proffered shoulder plate. No good. If he kept this up, he would tire out long before War would. Priest changed his fighting style, raining down a series of vicious stabs, each one executed in a random pattern throughout his opponent’s body. Predicting each attack and deflecting it in time became too much for War. He missed one attack, which speared under his shoulder plate, then missed five more as his armor became riddled with holes. Priest saw his chance, nailing in as many stabs in the chest as he could before War could raise his scimitar to protect himself. But War didn’t do things that way. As Priest prepared the final strike, War rammed his blade into Priest’s chest. It slid in nicely between two rib bones and stuck there, slicing Priest’s right lung in half. Then, with a grin and a wave, War set off an explosion inside Priest’s body. He went flying backwards like a rag doll, tumbling head-over-heels down the street. For the second time, he went flying across town. But this time, when he landed, he heard the hollow rattle of bones clattering to the ground.

Almost too afraid to look, Priest stared down at his body. He should have been dead. Nearly half his body had been burned away, his organs turned to ashes. He could barely make out a charred heart struggling to beat feebly, sticking out into his black ribcage, the dead wisps of former blood vessels spiraling out from it like the roots of a weed. His arm was scattered out beside himself, still clutching the starsword with an iron grip. At least he didn’t have to tell himself to keep fighting. He had already sacrificed half his body to defeat this enemy, might as well sacrifice the other half while he was at it. Knowing that his enemy was approaching without having to look up, he hastily began to heal. With his left arm, he smeared magic across his face and limbs, letting the residual light take care of the details. His eye grew back into place with a sickening pop, hair sprouting from his head, while muscles rippled under the fresh skin of his right arm and leg. After regrowing a lung and a few blood vessels, he covered his body as well, letting the skin and muscle settle back into place there. Anything that wasn’t used to kill his enemy wasn’t grown back. His lungs he needed, and regenerated the one he was lacking, but the liver, stomach, intestines, those could wait until after the battle, provided he was still alive. He got up and took a step forward, then realized it. Half his robes had been burned away, nothing more than a charred pant-leg remaining on the burned side of his body. The imbalance in the flowing robes could cost him. With a mournful sigh, he removed the remaining half of his robes, stepping into the fight bare-chested. It was in fashion these days to either fight with either too much armor on or topless to show off hairy chests, he might as well join the crowd. With only seconds until War arrived, Priest settled into a fighting stance.

War commenced his attack early, sending out streams of fire ahead of himself to enclose and surround Priest. One glance at the flames told Priest everything. Passing through them would melt the flesh off his bones. There would be no escape this time, no revising of plans. He had to come up with an idea and execute it. What would Saint do? Priest didn’t have time to think. War attacked with a series of powerful blows, each one aimed upwards and outwards, towards the flames. Priest saw the plan immediately. War would send him flying into the bonfire, and that would be the end of it. Not if he could help it. Priest gritted his teeth and pressed back, trying to move back towards the center of the arena. But War was just too strong. Two more sword strokes, and he was teetering on the brink. Priest ducked under the next attack and made a break for the center. But a parting slash scraped across his back, leaving a shallow gash there. Priest could feel heat and magic building up around the wound, and saw in his eye Saint bursting into flames over the lake. With no time to lose, he swished a line of magic across his back, closing up the wound before it could ignite. Then, he was forced to defend himself as another barrage of slashes drove him around the arena in circles. Priest could feel the sweat dripping from his forehead, could feel his eyes sting as the salty liquid dripped into his eyes. But he couldn’t pause to rub it away, couldn’t afford to close his eyes. The only choice he had was to blink it away and keep fighting. But his vision blurred. He was tiring much too quickly, his parries unable to match War’s continuing fury. He had to get out of here! But the flames encircling the arena towered upwards of twenty feet, preventing all escape. War was smiling at him, eyes twinkling with unspoken taunts, almost goading him on. Priest knew that War wanted to infuriate him, drive up his blood pressure so that when he was finally defeated, he would bear a grudge to his grave. Another two slashes, then Priest rallied to the offensive, striking War where he couldn’t deflect easily. War’s scimitar danced back and forth across his body, warding off attacks, but Priest’s waning strength shackled his offensive, and War flipped the tables with another barrage. This time, Priest couldn’t defend against everything. This time, a small cut scraped across his chest. And before he could heal it, War set it on fire. Priest cried out as he tried to put it out. But the flame wouldn’t go away, growing with his attempts. Left with no choice. Priest cut off the chunk of burning flesh, then regrew across the resulting hole. Looking up, he saw War taking a menacing step towards him, blocking off all escape to the center of the arena. Behind him, the fiery border crackled and roared. Trapped, and with only one way out. When there were no choices, Priest found his life to be the easiest. In one of those rare moments where he didn’t have to make a life-changing decision, where he didn’t have to pick the lesser of the two evils or the best of two plans, he did the only logical thing. He jumped into the fire.

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Chapter 28: Part 1: Ignition
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