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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

3.3.19.4. Castoria Catastrophe - Part Three



Sargathos the Man-Dracolich

Sargathos tries to evade it, but the gap between the strings becomes narrower and narrower. A fly can hardly fly through it, and for this huge monstrosity, it’s absolutely impossible.
            CRASSHH! CRASSH! CRASH!
            Even the mandracolich’s skeletal, tough crust is cracked under the sharpness of those lines of light, as though a thousand needles piercing through him. In addition, the holy energy from the piercings stays inside his body, inhibiting the flow of dark energy, thus paralyzing him. Sargathos falls all the way down to the burning city below him.
            BBAAMMM!!
            Chris and Acavela reappear in front of Sargathos the mandracolich.  Their auras have reached maximum, and their bodies are glowing as if gods. Even so, they just have enough to deal one, finishing blow.
            ‘Come on, what are you waiting for? Just do away with me! I don’t want to go on living as a heap of broken bones like this!’
            ‘Than might be as well as your just reward, Sargathos,’ says Chris calmly. ‘You killed dragons indiscriminantly just to drink their blood and eat their hearts, whereas a good dragon slayer only kills those of a menace.
            The one that killed you was Algaban, the Ancient Red Dragon. Judging from the version of your story, I think you’ve lied. A dragon slayer always does a thorough research before doing his job. So, I think you were hired to kill Algaban by no other than the one who transformed you, Zal’fira the Necromancess.’
            ‘H-how did you know that?’ said the mandracolich, still lying helpless, paralyzed and vulnerable.
            ‘Because I and my friends have fought her in her second attempt to rob Algaban of the Adair’s Arsenal she was guarding. Looks like you didn’t do a thorough research on me first when you decided to hunt me down. Well, I hid my true identity back then, but my father acknowledged my feat in Hvalgarr when he dubbed me as a Paladin. Well, at least someone has done his homework.’
            ‘So, what are you waiting for?’ Sargathos sounds weak, desperate and impatient. ‘I wans’t smart enough to survive in this dragon hunting trade. I was swayed by the Necromancess’ lies and promises of absolute power. Apparently, she used me as a bait!
            I thought I got the power that I wanted, but I was wrong. I am the strongest mandracolich, but I’m lost to the true Power of Light, a power far greater than mine. Guess I can’t convince you to become a mandracolich after all, eh. Now please. End my life now, free me from my misery.’
            To the mandracolich’s surprise, Chris shakes his head, saying, ‘No, I won’t do that. Let Vadis be the judge of life and death, not me. I did all this just to make you realize your errors, your weak points. I don’t want to be a murderer.’
            OUEEK! The mandracolich vomits blood and says, ‘Huh! Now it’s you who haven’t researched on undeads thoroughly! Can’t you see, it’s too late for me now. I have a cursed life, cursed body, and frankly speaking, like all undead, I’m already dead. I’d rather die and pay for my sins in hell than spending eternity as a paralyzed cripple! Now I’m not welcome in this world and the underworld. Unless Vadis is willing to forgive my sins, hell is my only option.
            So, I’m begging you, please! You’ll torture me if you let me live. Kill me! It’ll do me far more good. Please!’
            ‘Hm, I understand now. This cursed life is Vadis’ way to give you the chance to see the light. Know this, Vadis is willing to forgive all sins, even from an undead, if he truly repents.’
            ‘Really? Vadis, if you’re willing, please forgive my sins and embrace me in your loving hands. Go ahead. I’m ready.’ The mandracolich tries to smile but his skull-like face is impossible for all expressions.
            ‘Very well, I’ll help you.’
            Chris uses his excess mana and does a single thrust with concentrated full power: Singular Voice of Truth. CRASSH! The blade of Excalibur breaks the crust, goes all the way through the mandracolich’s chest and heart. Green, slimy blood gushes out from that wound.
            Sargathos screams in pain. With his dying breath, he mutters, ‘Vadis, you’re calling me! I... come.’
            Thus ends a cursed life and begins a blessed afterlife.
            Rest in peace, Sargathos.

            Chris takes a bow, takes his sword out from the dead mandracolich and looks around. Terror comes to his face. Oh, no! Dalamar is on fire and I just realized that. I must assist my comrades!
            Mounting his faithful griffin Acavela, he soars up to the sky and surveys around.
            As instructed, the troops make their stand on the city gates. They don’t seem panicked to see the burning city behind them. Wave after wave of enemy attacks come. Iris and Carolyn are battling the Succubus Queen, displaying awesome teamwork and great effort, making the fight more balanced. No one of them seems winning, yet.
            Next, Chris sees big waves of water rolling in the city. Taking a closer look, it’s Ney along with some water mages and the guardian spirit Res’marth extinguishing the fire, opening up areas into which the whole army can regroup in case they’re beaten back.
            Looks like the Paladins and Generals have done some improvisations while I was occupied. Now what should I do now? Fight the Succubus Queen, or pull the troops back to the city center?
            Suddenly, a voice startles Chris.
            ‘GYAAAH!!’
            A griffin rider falls from the sky with a deathly scream.
            The griffin riders are in trouble! Now I know what to do!
            ‘HYAARGHH!!’
            Chris darts with incredible speed, bashing and slashing the enemies in his way. CRASH! CRASSH!! He splits twenty monsters in one go, and about a hundred more attack him from all directions!
            ‘Just like in Myrcalia, eh, buddy?’ says Chris to Acavela while swings his sword and moves gently like a breeze. His sword emits threads of light flailing and criss-crossing beautifully like a lady knitting. Even the beastly monsters are allured into the graceful atmosphere until the threads of light chop them into pieces. Such is the power of Guiding Lights of Faith, the gentleness that conquers ferociousness.
            The enemies, however, heep on coming and coming, wave after wave, and this time Chris is as overwhelmed as his comrades are. He needs to pump up more holy power to unleash another attack, and the winged monsters don’t give him a chance to do it.
            This is bad! The griffin riders can’t endure any longer in this unfavorable situation! If help doesn’t come soon, we’ll all be history!
            Chris slays the beasts one by one, and takes numerous blows in return. Those blows hardly hurt him physically, but the sight of his comrades hurting and falling one by one is really a blow that breaks his heart.
            A griffin rider slays a wyvern rider, and harpy attacks him at the same time. Chris steps in and CRASSHH!! He splits the harpy in two. But a group of imps run through that ill-fated griffin rider, and he and his griffin fall to their deaths. Again, a great flock of monsters are targeting the Heir of Vadis, and this time they make sure that he won’t unleash any fancy move.
            What can two hands do against such a flock? Some quick slashes and bolts of light might do the trick, but the enemy attacks are too frequent, eating away his protection aura.
            It’s only a matter of time before Chris gets exhausted. He’s already suffering from internal wounds and as he’s still an ordinary human being, he has limits. Acavela, on the other hand, packs a lesser defense with its lightweight griffin armor and relies solely on Chris’ protection aura.
            Amidst those ceaseless attacks, Chris thinks of his father, brother, and most of all... Eloise, looks like I won’t be able to rescue you after all. I’ve tried my best to show my love to you and all the good things and beings in this world. Just be patient, Eloise. If I should fall, maybe Robert will do a better job by bringing you home safe and sound. But wait! Speaking of ‘sound’, what sound is that?
            CHITTER! CHITTER! BANG! BANG!
            Chris tries to take a good look through this flock of blockades, and his heard gets a great relief as he witnesses his attackers fall one by one like coconuts from the tree.
            It’s the gyropters! Help comes at last, we are fighting fit now!
            Not only the gyropters come. A flock of firebirds (lesser phoenixes or little phoenixes) also join in and even the odds. The head of the gyropter-firebird squad is none other than Ivor the Beardless, who finally gained help after a long debate with the Supreme Council of Parthenia.
            The dwarf gunners and bombardiers shoot accurately, relieving the attacks on Chris and CRASSH! CRASH-CRASH! A Speedy Strikes of Diligence with the Excalibur finishes the job.
            ‘Are you alright, Your Majesty?’ says Ivor as he comes next to Chris. The Emperor nods and pats his pet, Acavela, saying, ‘Yes, thank you. Thank you so much for coming on time with help. Now, let’s finish these abominations and assist the ground units.’
            ‘No, Your Majesty,’ Ivor replies straightforwardedly. ‘Let me handle the air fight. You help out the ground units. Your griffin needs some rest, and the Parthenian mechas will arrive soon.’
            ‘Good idea, Ivor. You take care up here, okay. Just hang on until the first division arrives. May Vadis watch over you.’
            ‘And over you too. Well, I’m a Vadisian now.’
            ‘I’m so glad for you. See you later.’ Saying that, Chris dives to Dalamar.

==oOo==

            Cristophe descends and takes a look at the current situation.
            The fight is still on. The fire in Dalamar is out, thanks to Ney and her fire extinguisher squad. However, the Allied Forces have all retreated from the outer walls and concentrated all their forces in the city fortress.
            The fort is badly damaged because of the previous battles, and still, its walls provide enough protection for the defendants.
            The Dark Forces are still strong and pressing on. They outnumber the Allied Forces by one and a half times, and their leader, the Succubus Queen keeps the troops fierce by shooting Dark Disintegration blasts at the Paladins.
            This puts Chris in a dilemma. Ah, must I fight that she-devil again? Acavela is tired and I, too might not have enough strength for another big duel. Oh, well, I guess I must entrust the ‘power girls’ with this. A near death experience with a mandracolich is enough experience for one day, and I still have a wife and a brother to rescue.
            The Heir of Vadis makes up his mind and chooses the spot where the enemy pressure is the strongest – a spot quite far to and overlooked by the hectic Paladins – He lands, leaves the griffin in the center where it’s the safest and rushes to the front line.
            ‘HEEEAAAH!!!’
            Chris charges like wildfire, cutting through zombies and skeletal soldiers before the victims even realize what hits them. He attacks fiercely as well as carefully, because he’s assisting his comrades, not showing off his power and boosting his pride.
            Still, no matter how hard he tries to conceal himself, the enemies still sense his annoying, intimidating, opposite aura of the one they regard as ‘abominations’. Instead of running away, more and more enemies come. Apparently, they’ve been brainwashed to kill the Heir of Vadis, their primary target.
            On the other hand, instead of pulling back behind his comrades, Chris embraces one wave after another with his legendary sword as if he enjoys it.
            I’ve never been in so much carnage since Enia’s Sanctum. It feels... nostalgic. Bring it on, you bastards. Bring it on.
            And more screams of death fill the air.
            Another hour passes, and even with the Parthenian mecha troopers’ help, a multitude of undead is still too much to handle. Even Chris, with all his godly arsenal on begins to get exhausted now. Plus, he is internally injured from this showdown and his previous duels. So, when the Great Paladin wipes out yet another group of undead soldiers, he falls on his knees.
            This is bad, we can’t go on like this.
            He looks around. His cousin Carol and her two fellow Paladins are still fighting the Succubus Queen, either side can’t win against the other.
            Even devils get tired, too, but they’re still too numerous.,
            ‘GYAARGH!’ An elf gets slain by two gargoyles (winged demons) and Chris can’t do anything about it. His hands just reaches out, and a dwarf’s head comes rolling in front of him.
            Our numbers are dwindling. I... I can’t help them!
            An Arcadian soldier rushes to his side and repels the enemies single-handedly.
            He seems quite skilled, and he fights valiantly, worthy of a good leader. I’ll remember his face and name and promote him once this battle is over.
            ‘Are you all right, Your Majesty?’ the soldier asks. ‘Cedric’s here to he... AAAGH!’ He stops miday, his face loses expression and the fateful soldier falls on the ground lifeless with the arrow nested in his back.
            Another good man bites the dust... That’s it! This is now or never! Die trying or die anyway! This is my last stand!
            So, as another wave of enemies comes, Chris gets up immediately, raises his sword and shouts to his troops, ‘For Eternia! FIGHT TO THE DEATH!’
            The troops’ response is various: ‘For Eternia! Fight to the death!’ and is relayed throughout the fortress. Everyone in the Light Side is now aware that now is the time of the hardest and – most likely – the last battle of his life.
            The elves give their best shots, emptying all arrows from their quivers. Many powerful dark creatures can’t escape being permanently disabled once the elves mark them.
            The dwarves are like the last walls of defense. Together they form a Swastika Formation on the east part of the fort, moving like a windmill fan, trapping and surrounding the enemies. They show an outstanding teamwork and keep the casualties at the minimum.
            The Parthenian mecha squad are as tough as they are lethal. Each man drives a mechanized, steam-powered ‘armor’ which is double or triple the driver’s size – the mecha golem with built-in mini cannon, flamethrower, gun on each. It can also wield swords and other hand-held weapons. An improvement on these power-packed golems will open the path for Parthenia and the entire Aurelia Continent to a new, modern age.
            On the contrary, the Arcadian soldiers are overwhelmed by the enemies, and they fight the hardest just to survive the day. Along with these troops, Cristophe fights, and if he should die, he will die along with his troops.
            ‘Do or die, Arcadia!!’ Nothing can stop them now. Nothing. Even when death takes their comrades one-by-one. Every man they lost is every tear they shed.
            A group of undead surrounds Chris, and he fights back with Whirlwind Slash, spinning, blocking and cutting them all with his sword and shield. Just as he finishes that move, BUG! Chris’ foot trips on a rock. Again he falls down, this time in the midst of the enemies.
            Chris reacts so fast by turning around and blocking three blows in one time with his shield. The attacks keep coming, and the Arcadians push forward for rescue.
            ‘Forward! Protect the Emperor!’
            ‘No! Don’t get out of the line!’ Chris tries to warn them but nobody seems to listen. The defense formation breaks, and blow by blow hit the Emperor like a rain of boulders, hurting him from the inside.
            ‘AARGH!’ He scremas in pain. Blood comes out from his visor and the gaps between the plates of his armor. His hands feel numb, his sword feels heavier. His strength is failing him, only his spirit keeps him going on.
            A headless man happens to be in a right spot and is going for the grand prize by beheading the Heir of Vadis with his axe. Chris tries to block but his hands won’t come up. He knows it at once.
            This time it’s for real, the end of the road. Good bye, Eloise, Carol, Robert, Iris, brother, father...
            JLUUUBBB!!!
            Eh? There’s no pain at all! Is this what death feels like? But wait! The pain from the blows is still here! I... I’m still breathing! That means... My head is still intact!
            That thought flashes in a second, and then Cristophe looks at the enemies in front of him. Among them is the headless man, who stands like a statue. The axe falls from his hands and the humanoid monster falls to the front with an arrow stuck on his back.
            Attacks from their back? Is there a dissension within their ranks? Or, maybe...
            Chris hears noises from afar, and the voices are somewhat... friendly. Spirited war cries, steady gallops and beasts’ roars turn into a beautiful symphony in his heart.
            The symphony of deliverance and hope.
            The next moment, come loud, screeching sounds of a thousand wheels, and as Chris looks from the source of the voice comes a white-haired knight wielding a blazing, vermillion saber, riding an armored horse in an extraordinarily fast pace. He recognizes that knight at once.
            Yes, he is indeed the Paladin, Robert Chandler the Orcbane. Actually, someone might want to change his nickname to ‘Darkbane’ because he has killed far more undead than  orcs now.
            The chariots are unstoppable. More and more undead are slain in their way, and they are as though opening the path for the main army.
            Robert looks around and nods. He has ‘opened the path’, and now he dismounts from his horse Paeldagrin and comes near Chris. He looks very worried.
            ‘Are you all right, Your Majesty?’ Rob asks. Chris suddenly feels a deja vu. It’s the third time he hears someone say that to him. A ghoul comes near and attacks Rob, and the next moment it falls and its head rolling to a different direction. Rob sheathes his sword on his back and holds Chris, saying, ‘Can you hear me, Your Majesty? Are you all right?’
            Chris just stares at Rob, and with a feeble voice he answers, ‘Robert... P-praise Vadis... T-thank you for your he...’
            Chris collapses. At the last moment, Chris sees Robert’s face blurring and hears him say, ‘Brace yourself, Your Majesty, don’t...’
            And all goes black.

Image Source:  

Dracolich (Luffiedesign) in http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/daemon,dragon/Interesting

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