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 Chapter 28: Part 3: Fight to the Finish

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Red Blizzard

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

PostSubject: Chapter 28: Part 3: Fight to the Finish   Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:42 pm

Author: Red Blizzard

Priest landed on his feet, wobbled, and sank to one knee. With an expression almost tantamount to resignation, he threw away his weapon’s handle, covering his face with his other hand. He was exhausted. How long had he been fighting now? It felt like hours. The city was still burning, Dye was still possessed by War. Where was the rest of his clan? Safe, for the moment. He had told them not to help, worried that they would get in the way, would get hurt and die. Why was he always sacrificing himself like that? The point of the clan was to help each other, not to rely on one person in times of need. Priest groaned. He had put the clan’s existence at stake with this one fight. Going up against a god. What a great idea.

Two heavy footfalls told him that War had landed somewhere on the other side of the street. He heard him swear, then could barely discern the telltale pop as he stuck his arm back into place. Sighing, Priest got up and turned around. War was no longer grinning. Instead, he looked outright furious as he massaged his sore shoulder. The starsword breaker had been lost for good somewhere out among the rubble. Neither had weapons now, and as Priest noted the absence of War’s flaming aura, neither had magic.

“This party’s over.” War spat out a gob of blood and glared. For the first time, Priest noticed a fresh gash stretching across War’s chest, revealing several rib bones. So he had gotten him. But as he watched the blood clot and dry, his heart sank. It wasn’t good enough. What choice did he have left?

“Give it up. In a few hours, the rest of the clan will be here, and you have no energy left to fight.”

War bared his teeth. “What, you think I’m on my last legs? You haven’t even seen my true power yet!”

True power? “It’s true I’ve only seen you use Dye’s abilities, but I hardly expect you to try anything new in your current state. The body you’re in could hardly handle all the fighting. In a fair battle between me and Dye, I would win. It seems you’ve hardly done any better.”

War spat out another gob of blood. “What, you think I’d go all out on you from the beginning? Get real! I’m just saving the good stuff for desperate situations. Like now.” Priest could only stare as War’s eyes grew redder than ever. He blinked once, then opened his eyes again. His eyeballs had rolled into the back of his head, revealing on the whites of his eyes. Priest started backwards as War rose up off the ground, the air around him glowing hot white until it burned in his mere presence. Fresh armor materialized out of the air, coating his arms and legs and lower torso with thick, black metal. A similarly black helmet formed itself over Dye’s head, covering everything except two slits for his eyes and a jagged, gaping hole for the mouth. Two red horns streaked back from the sides of his head like the prongs of some wild African beast. Only a section of chest remained uncovered, mirrored by a similar section on his back, snuggled in between the shoulder plates. Priest could not imagine what the lack of armor there was for. Then, he had other things to distract him. An absolutely massive blade, with no rhyme or reason given to its design, materialized out of the air. Stretching from the ground up to where War hovered fifty feet in the air, the blade was fit for a god. A war blade, Priest thought grimly. Then War roared. Dye’s yelling had been notorious for shattering nearby windows. Here, the windows, nearby or not, shattered into tiny panes of glass, which then shattered again as the enraged god carried his cry up to deafening frequencies. The foundations of the mightiest stonework trembled, while lesser buildings splintered to pieces with resounding crashes that could not be heard over the warcry. Priest was brought to his hands and knees by the shout, salty liquid streaming out through every pore in a cold sweat, eyes feeling as if they were bursting in his sockets. His eardrums threatened to burst, then really did burst, sending a fountain of blood squirting out on each side of his head. Priest lost all sense of up and down as the insides of his head threatened to boil. Something went out of whack, and his vision went blurry, his sense of smell deadened. He slammed the palms of his hands to his ears, more to stop the bleeding than to restore his hearing. He no longer had enough magic for that. But even deaf, he could still feel the vibrations, as they shook the cobblestone streets apart and opened up gaping cracks in the earth. Darkness yawned from below, and he steadied himself on the edge of a massive chasm, gripping chipped stone with his bare palms. The hard rock chafed his hands and cut his palms open, but he didn’t have enough magic left to even heal that. All he could do was hold on tight until the roaring stopped.

It finally stopped. The echoes resounded off the nearby hills, still louder than an ordinary man’s lungs could manage, shattering any glass in the region that still hadn’t been reduced to clear grains of sand. He got to his feet slowly, still not sure if his muscles hadn’t been shaken to pieces themselves. Then, he looked around. He couldn’t see a thing; put his hand up to his face, could barely make out flesh-colored blob against the grey and black background. His head was spinning. Up was to the left, forward lay somewhere behind him. He could barely stay on his feet, tottering down the road. A flash of steel behind him, and fear was suddenly in control with an icy grip over reason. He ran for it, skittering along the edge of canyons where roads had once been, not sure whether or not his lack of direction would cause him to topple and fall in. He couldn’t tell where War was, couldn’t smell him thank god, though the gods were against him, weren’t they? Reality here had fractured into a dreamlike world, where the earth had mouths and the sky stretched out below, or above, or somewhere to one side. He shook his head trying to make sense of things, but that only made it worse. And the sudden realization that he didn’t know where the enemy was terrified him, urging him to run forever faster. Any moment he expected to feel the cold steel of a blade pressing against his neck. He wouldn’t even see it coming. The city stretched out before him like an impressionist painting, shades of color here, dots of light there. Most the buildings here had been leveled, leaving only the strongest of stone structures barely standing. Even the city walls had crumbled, revealing felled trees in the forest beyond. He tottered his way over to a grey building, feeling its granite walls with a hand to steady himself while he searched for a door. While feeling his way around the wooden framed doorway, he missed a step, stumbled into a yawning chasm, catching himself by the armpits. Hauled himself up through sheer panic, didn’t want to die yet, hurried inside the building and slammed the door shut.

He sat there for eternity, learning again how to breath as he sank to the floor, oak door against his back. No sound, no smell, nearly blind, couldn’t tell. Whether up was down or the earth was sideways he didn’t know and turned his head round and round then gave up and slumped onto his side. Glassy sand tainted his hair, along with a warm liquid that was probably blood. Maybe his eardrums had burst open again, whatever was left of them. Whatever was left of him. He was dead, he was sure of it. Any moment now, War would find him and killed him. He could only wait and whimper for the inevitable. He didn’t have the breath to whimper. So he lay there, one thought after another racing through a crazed mind.

Get a grip. He didn’t answer. Silence was answer enough. You ran like a coward, giving in to fear. Well, what was he supposed to be, some fearless hero striding in to save the world? Not fearless. A man without fear is a man without wisdom. But one must face their fear and do what one must do, rather than let that fear drive them to madness. He never asked for any of this. He never wanted to be some great warrior. You don’t need to be some great warrior. You need to be a man. What good is that? A man who isn’t even known by his own name. Your name? You are Priest, servant of light. That is a good enough name for your purpose. Purpose? What purpose? You came here to protect others. Right now, that god of yours is out there, searching for a reason to launch a war. People will die when that happens. People you were charged with protecting. How can I protect them? I will die for sure if I go against him. Then you will die protecting your people.

Priest stood up. His ears still dripped with blood, his vision still blurry and his sense of direction still out of whack. But he walked straight and steady, looking around the room for anything that might aid him. Dying was no longer the matter for him, only how long he could last against War and how much damage he could do. Looking down, he saw a thin layer of blue liquid lapping against his bare feet. It felt warm. So it wasn’t his blood that he felt against his head earlier. Taking a wild guess, Priest decided that he was in some sort of potion shop. Not that it did him any good, all the glass jars had been shattered to dust. Feeling his way over to the remains of the shop counter, he felt for anything useful there. His fingers brushed up against a leather pouch. The one thing in this shop untouched by sound. He quickly seized it, holding a label up to his eyes. ‘MANA PO…” That was good enough. Priest uncorked the pouch, dumped the contents down his throat, and waited for the effects to sink in. The effects were instantaneous. Priest felt magic burst down his throat and into his belly, where it filled him up with a warm, tingly sensation that spread out to his fingertips. If his vision hadn’t been so blurry, he could have sworn that his whole body was glowing white with energy. Then, the magic stabilized and settled into his veins, evening out his heartbeat in the process. Barely even giving a thought to it, Priest clapped his hands to his ears and flooded his head with healing spells. Caked blood peeled from his skin and vanished in an instant, vision sharpened to a picture-perfect quality, and the inner workings of his ears were rearranged to their former functionality, clearing up the dizziness.

He felt good. Better than he had in years, what with all the stress of responsibility weighing down on him. Now, he had but one task left. Priest cast his eyes around the room for anything of further interest. Nothing caught his eye. What a pity. It tended to be a little difficult holding off an enemy without a weapon. But as he turned to leave the shop, a sudden idea came to mind. He had heard rumors of this ability, but had never put it to a practical test before. Concentrating, Priest began shaping a beam of light in his hand…

War looked around, surveying the damage he had caused so far. It was a beautiful sight. Flames roared as they fed off of the recently added wooden remains of the town’s buildings. Hardly anything was left standing, other than the new town archives, stone walls blackened, and another, older stone building a little farther down the street. He was tempted to add these to the bonfire, but why the bother? He was War, a destroyer of people, not just property. Speaking of which, he could swear there were some people buried in the rubble. But many more could be seen fleeing into the forest, towards the hills, seeking safety and shelter. War had yet to affect them more than to destroy their homes and their personal belongings. More needed to be done. Blood needed to be spilled. But how could he get any satisfaction when all of his victims turned to run at the mere sight of him? There were too many cowards these days. And cowards were bad for business. Maybe he would find someone worth fighting if he followed the crowd. After all, slaughter always went where people were many. As War drifted off aimlessly in a random direction, he stopped and sniffed. He thought he saw lights coming from the old stone building. Then, it happened again. Now, he was certain. Descending to charred treetop level, he approached, tightening his grip on his blade in anticipation. When nothing more happened, he slammed his blade into the building, slicing it savagely in half. Rising up through a gaping hole in the roof was a blur of light, streaming light like a star. War got over the blinding light quickly, squinting to make sure he was still fighting who he thought he was fighting. This was not the same Priest he had seen fleeing through the ruined streets of Wa-Kia. In each hand was a pure-white spear, glowing with light. On his back stretched two magnificent feathered wings, also emanating with white energy. A fresh look of defiance glinted in both eyes, that for some reason put a shard of ice into War’s resolve. This was a man who was staring death in the face and would walk away from the encounter. Well, not on his watch.

“Weapons and wings!” War sneered. “Very pretty. We’ll you’ll need more than that to beat me! I’ve got both too!” Two massive, bladed wings sprouted from War’s back, extending outwards to match his war blade. He dove forward into the fray, practically begging for some action. His fresh blades and armor gleamed, and he laughed with zeal at the start to a new and better battle. Priest disappeared before him, becoming a beam of light. Instinctively, War wrapped his wings around him, but Priest reappeared, well within the area protected by the wings. He stabbed twice, scoring a glancing hit against War’s shoulder plate with one spear and missing completely with the other. Both spears shattered, but Priest formed two more and became a blur again, moving out of the way of War’s countering blade. Laughter turned to concentration as War strove to keep up with his opponent. An enemy he couldn’t get at was an enemy he couldn’t stand. With a snap of his fingers, he became a steel-grey blur, matching his rival’s movements. For several minutes they bobbed and wove, trading blows occasionally, dancing forever higher to gain the advantage over each other. Finally, they paused, coming to a stop before each other. A lull in the battle. Priest noted his own wounds grimly, briefly healing a deep cut running down his arm and several instances of shaved flesh along his left side. But his enemy had gotten the worst of it. Several deep puncture marks in the chest meant that he couldn’t be doing well. Indeed, War’s chin dripped blood from his lips thanks to internal bleeding. His own magic was still running hot, but against a god, he still didn’t think he would win. At the same time, he found it odd that his opponent had intentionally left himself open to attack in his most vital areas.

“Why?” Priest panted out his question. “Why leave your chest wide open to attack?” War mulled over the question briefly, then grinned.

“For fun! The only reason people wage war is because they think they have a chance of gaining something, of winning. If they didn’t think that, they’d turn to other means, such as running.” War looked at Priest pointedly. “So I intentionally leave myself open to attack. What good is it being a god if nobody comes up to challenge you? Then there would be no war at all. There would only be conquest. And that’s not what I’m here for. I’m just here to enjoy a good fight. So try me! Give it your best shot! You have a chance to win if you try hard enough!”

“That’s not what I’m here for.” War paused in his rant. “There are those who fight with a chance to win, and then there are those who have no choice but to fight. Did you think for one moment that I enjoy this battle? No, I fight this battle, knowing that I’m going to die, because you threatened my people. You can kill me, but I will do everything within my power to defy you, in the hopes that somewhere out there, a life will be spared because of me.” Priest threw the spears in each of his hand, then called out for more. Slivers of light materialized around him, widening and forming themselves into a forest of spears. They swiveled on all three axes, then snapped into position, all aiming straight at their target. War’s eyes widened, and a moment later he was parrying as a rain of spears descended upon him, striking him from every conceivable angle. Priest summoned several large bladed discs of light, and sent them screaming into the fray as well, biting deep into the enemy’s armor. Not satisfied with that, Priest then summoned several massive spiked balls, rolled them towards War, and finished with a giant spike of light streaming down to impale the enemy. For several moments, it seemed as if he had won. But then, the giant spike shattered, and War rose up, furious. Priest gave it all he had, forming spear after spear. But his opponent’s wrath shattered everything. Trying to gain the upper hand, he flew ever closer to the sky. It was past midnight, and by strange coincidence, the moon was practically full. Up where they fought, its massive surface loomed large before them, outshining everything, even the stars. War’s hulking shape could be made out rising towards him against the background of the burning city. He tried to hide himself within the surface of the moon, glowing brightly, but as War zoomed towards his location, he knew his silhouette was fatal. In desperation, he drained his magic reserves, forming everything he had into a single, white scimitar. Just like Dye’s. War roared as he brought his blade up to greet Priest, but a lung had been punctured during earlier fighting, and his cry no longer rang out so loudly. The blades met, clashed, and held each other, sparks flying. The two warriors hung in balance high in the sky, tiny before the face of the moon.

“I just don’t get it. Why do you fight?”

“Why do I fight? I don’t need a reason to fight, do I? I’m War, a fate of the world! All men…”

“Yes, yes, I get all that. But my point is, why do you fight for the sake of fighting? Just because you are War doesn’t give you the right to aimlessly kill innocent people, does it?”

“Aimlessly killing innocents? The moment the first man was born, it was destiny for innocent people to die. As with Cain and Abel, there are always those among men who kill those who never deserved death just because they can. Of the four fates, I am the only one created by man. I am War, the embodiment of the spirit of battle that man lustily carried wherever there was strife and argument. The way of violence needs no reason to exist. It is founded on raw, human emotion. Face it. All men, no matter now deep they bury it, cannot ignore the call to violence. It is what makes you all human!”

“That is where you are wrong. The call to violence is an animal’s call. A cat will play with mice, a wolf with deer, a lion with antelope. Not just because they need to eat like all other creatures, but because they enjoy the hunt, the blood, the violence. A human’s call is to rise above that. Mankind doesn’t giving in to their violent tendencies when they march into battle. No, we prepare for war, so that we may have peace.” The balance was broken. Priest took advantage of the momentary release, disappearing upwards, scimitar in tow. Not eager to let his prey get away, War flew higher to meet him, greeting him once more with a clash high above the clouds. Priest pulled away first, flying around for an uppercut from behind. A wing stopped his attack short, flicking him away. He flew back instantly with another attack, as War spun around, his 50-foot blade glinting. Their two blades moved in sync, perfectly countering and supporting each other in what became a furious, harmonious sword dance. The sounds of their crashing blades couldn’t be heard below, and far above, the moon dwarfed them both. They were truly alone here, far above the world, far below the heavens.

One wrong move was all it took to shift the fight in one’s favor. Priest faltered first, his concentration wavering just long enough for War to shatter his scimitar. Priest shrugged. It was only a cheap imitation of a greater weapon, anyways. But dangerously low on magic, Priest flew ever higher, looking over his shoulder for his enemy’s movements. He waited for the right moment, flew into place, and summoned a dozen spears of light. They danced around him for a moment before plummeting down upon the enemy. All of them went through War’s chest. Sputtering blood, with half his organs shot out and his body on its last legs, War struggled upwards, then became a steel blur. Priest noticed one second too late, and War flew passed him, a bladed wing slicing open his stomach. Holding his hands over the gap to prevent organs from falling out, Priest began muttering healing words. Nothing happened. Trying not to panic, Priest looked around for his enemy. There, nearly fifty feet away, was War, his movements slowed to a crawl. But his hand still held his blade, and with a last, heave of desperation, he raised it high above his head, then brought it swinging down. Priest was cut open from shoulder to navel, exposing everything, from his stomach to his beating heart. No choice left, Priest’s wings fell off his back, the energy used to sustain them channeling into his hands. He healed himself as much as he could, then looked up. He was falling, War still hanging in the sky above him, untouchable. Something glinted on his chest, a sapphire star hanging from a black chain. Dye would die never remembering that he had ever loved…NO! Priest found one last flicker of magic, put it to his heels, and disappeared.

The sound of skin shredding, flesh rending, bones cracking, life blackening. Then silence. Priest could hear the sound of himself breathing, shallow breaths barely keeping him conscious. Then, he could feel a trickle of warm liquid meander down the length of his arm, and his eyes flew open. Two inches from his face was War, an expression of shock written all over it. Features twitching, War barely managed to stretch the corner of his mouth upwards, breaking into a small grin. Then, it became Dye’s face, blank of emotion. His eyes as dead as glass. Looking a bit farther, Priest could see his own hand somewhere beyond Dye’s back, clutching a bleeding chunk of flesh. Everything crashed into place at once. His arm was buried up to the shoulder in Dye’s chest. That piece of flesh in his hand was Dye’s heart. Immediately repulsed by what he had done, Priest pulled out, dropping the bloody organ. But they were already falling. Dye plummeted to earth beneat Priest, streaming metal feathers as his wings gave away completely. Priest himself, unable to control his own descent, could only look down, the burning city reduced to glowing embers. The rest of the country was dark, no lights to give away fleeing refugees to the enemy. Looking up, Priest could see the stars, glittering coldly in their place within the night sky. The moon no longer loomed so large. Just above him, the heart, still trailing a line of red as it followed its master home.

A star below the heavens twinkled with the light from the night sky above. Dye’s sapphire necklace, the vessel that held Dye’s love, Jane. The star that had been dead all these long weeks. They had made promises, long before she had died. Promises that she had carried beyond death. Promises she kept. But then Dye broke his first promise. He forgot his purpose, abandoning his friends and dragging his followers out into the wilderness to scratch out a living where he thought he could be free. He didn’t think, he didn’t feel. He just reacted. And then she went quiet. She could do nothing as the man she loved changed. He showed weakness. Weakness he could have overcome if he trusted anyone other than himself. And when he realized, too late, that he could actually depend on people, the first person he turned to didn’t answer. She had been silent. For when it became harder for her to reach out to him, it became harder for him to reach out to her. In despair, thinking that he had been abandoned, Dye turned to other voices. Voices he should have known better than to listen to. Look where it got him. Destruction without gain, fear without trust. Death without hope.


Her voice rang out, crystal clear. Only one person could have heard her. But her words fell on deaf ears.

It’s been so long since you spoke to me. I still love you, but I’m afraid.

Dye had nothing left to fear. The stars were reflected in his glossy, dead eyes.

You’ve been doing strange things lately. You’ve tried to kill your friends, people I thought you could trust. And you’ve been talking to strange voices.

No voices could reach Dye now, not where he was. No voices…

Dye? Can you hear me?

Hear her? Hear anyone?

You’ve changed so much. I feel like I don’t know you any more.

Don’t know him? Nobody truly knew him. Not Jake, his childhood friend, who had voices enough of his own to deal with. Not Saint, all high-minded and nosy, not Red, too caught up with his own world to care, not Priest, who condemned any act of violence without purpose, thereby condemning everything he did. Nobody…


Dye fell through the skies, clouds racing past him, dribbles and drips of blood forming teardrops around his body. Above, Priest tumbled through the air, ready to accept death now that his purpose was complete. Alongside him fell Dye’s heart, quickly cooling as the warmth of life left it. Above, the moon shown. Below, the ground rushed up to greet him, barren of life but filled with ashes, broken timbers, warped family portraits, blackened bones. A single teardrop, not red like the others, emerged from under Dye’s frozen eyelid, though whether formed at the moment of death or stowed there all along, no one could say for sure. The teardrop leaked upwards, capturing for a brief instant the light of the stars. Then it smashed up against cold stone, sparked something, dispersed into a kaleidoscope of scattered droplets. Something ignited somewhere, bringing forth sudden heat. The droplets danced and sizzled, filled with energy as they sprang up towards the sky. Evaporated. And a tiny, clear voice cried out to the darkness.

Who are you?

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Chapter 28: Part 3: Fight to the Finish
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