22.214.171.124. The Juggernaut
The Airship Aurora picks up the Paladins one by one from ever side of the wall. Some of them, including Adler demand explanations first, so the process takes a long time and the airship becomes a target for enemy flyers and archers.
‘... And that’s the Grand Marshal’s orders, Lord Adler. So, just climb up and let’s get going!’ shouts Eidos as he tries to convince the proud Borgian to join the infiltration.
‘NO! This is a suicide mission! That elf is out of his mind, I say! And you, I forbid you to put the Aurora on risk!’
‘With all due respect, this airship is already on risk! Anyway, the Grand Marshal is Rael’charon, not you. Besides, there’s no turning back now. The enemies know about our move now because of you stalling. And you’ll be punished with the martial law for sure unless you climb up and join us now.’
Hearing this, Adler frowns, grunts and snaps, ‘Grr... all right! You got some nerve to talk to me like that, old man. You’ve changed much since you got that Ring of Courage. When this war is over, you and I have lots of things to discuss.’
That’s the last Paladin to pick up, and now the airship is good to go. Cristophe, of course becomes an escort on griffinback, along with the griffin riders and pegasus riders. The dragon riders and the gyropters opt to stay behind to assist the ground units in Crypton. The Ancient White Dragon Hazmat and the Behemoth King Barudan also stay and fight, of course.
Just before heading out, all Paladins on board the airship salute solemnly towards Crypton. Iris says, ‘Friends in Crypton: Ney, Rael’charon, Ivor, Dar’gum, Genilda, Sir Vincent, Sir Mallard, Lady Irene and all brave Knights and fellow Crusaders, please hold out until we take out the Dark Heir.’
BUMMM! The airship rocks a bit, and this alerts Quazar the centaur, Captain of the Aurora. His curly, long black hair and beard and brownish dark skin are as though emitting a radiant glow.
‘Paladins! Spread out and defend the airship! We’re under heavy attack!’
The ten heroes immediately go to the port and starboard, repelling the incoming monsters. Soon, the enemy comes in swarms, great and small.
With the Ring of Courage re-activated, Eidos Crydias snarls, ‘Bring it on, foul beasts. Megalon Zathr!’
FWOOM! FWOOM! The Meteor Shower is raining upon the incoming monsters, killing about thirty of them in one blow. The rest of them immediately spread out and the winged demons attack frontally.
‘Fire the grand cannon at the demons!’ Quazar shouts his horder in the bridge. ‘Target, twelve o’clock, about three hundred meters ahead!’
The weapons officer responds, ‘Aiming... Target locked!’
‘FIRE!’ Quazar shouts. A big light glows inside the main cannon below the dragon head figurehead, and BLLAAAMMM!!! A big rayblast shoots forward and hits the group of demons, killing four out of five.
The last one, the blue-furred demon with its head resembling a goat with big horns got his left foot disintegrated by the rayblast. ‘GRRHOOAAA!’ It growls furiously and is about to shoot a Hollow Blast at the airship – until a streak of light goes through its back and stomach!
‘Don’t ever think about it,’ says Chris with his helmet on. Chris has administered the Singular Voice of Truth to that minion of hell and wipes away impure demon blood on him with his holy aura.
A squadron of giant bats does an acrobatic maneuver and attacks the airship towards the port, aiming at the left wing.
‘Oh no you don’t.’ Seeing that, Iris casts Wind Shear, and CRASH-CRASH! The razor-sharp wind severs several bats on the group. The other five bats escape the wind and instinctively attack the one who broke their formation!
Iris quickly draws her bow, shoots three arrows at once and kills two bats. The other three dart like arrows, and Iris evades them without much effort. An archer cannot avoid the bats! Just when a bat is about to bite his head off, a sword thrusts into its ear. ‘KRIII!!!’ and the bat falls dead on the floor.
The archer looks at his savior with gratitude, and it’s Hernan! The fencer immediately kills the two other giant bats with two simple thrusts.
‘Thank you, Paladin,’ says the archer.
‘Be more careful next time,’ says Hernan, launching himself away to intercept more incoming monsters.
The attack goes on and on. The Paladins work together ahnd-in-hand, backing each other up in case one of them is in danger or needs to go to the bathroom (naturally!).
The airship keeps going east and keeps pushing on, with the help of the escorts. Now, they’re nearing the core of the Land of Everlasting Night.
Thunder and lightning happen more frequently here, and the worst part of it is the Dark Forces’ main army waiting for them. Their numbers are much less than the army surrounding Crypton, yet it’s still more than enough to crush an airship and the Light Side’s air units. Dracolichs, demons, gargoyles and all the strongest undead creatures imaginable are all out to bring the Aurora down.
Nevertheless, the Crusaders fly on.
Eidos tries to balance himself as the airship starts to rock like a ship in hurricane. He hears things like ,’WE’RE HIT! WE’RE HIT! Damage report? The hull is hit! It’s cracked, we can no longer travel by sea!’ and his heart starts to rock as well.
The ship can’t take any more battering! Please, oh please, Aurora, hang on a little longer, my girl. After we reach Kraal’Thragon, we’ll finally be able to go home.
Eidos Crydias uses his telescope to scout ahead. There it is, Kraal’Thragon, the Towers of Death coming into sight. The countless cluster of high, black towers stand on top of the City of the Dead like sentries guarding the gigantic main tower, the highest tower second only on the Heaven’s Gate Tower in Yvais.
The strangest thing about the towers is there are ducts on every tower with glowing red lava running down as though the towers are bleeding – the sole reason is to prevent flying creatures from running into the tower in that everlasting night. The lava flows all the way down the citadel, through the ‘rivers’ and will be sucked upwards again by the self-energizing mechanical pumps on the towers.
The army of dark creatures, including lots of goblins from Brog’lac’s squad are waiting outside the Black Citadel. Their numbers are approximately ten thousand. They all seem tough and impossible to break through, yet Eidos’ eyes stumble upon the largest, the most gigantic creature – or more precisely: thing – of them all.
That ‘thing’ is a combination between a tank and a scorpion. It has three gigantic cannon turrets on the top, and the golemium eye on its head swivels up and down, left and right to monitor its surroundings. And then, the eye stares straight at Eidos with a blinding glow!
Startled, Eidos runs to the command center in the bridge and warns the captain about the enemies ahead. His face looks deathly pale.
‘I know, Eidos. We’ve scouted ahead too. I understand your concern, because the enemies are too tough even with all the firepower Aurora has. As the inventor, you have the right to be panic. But please, stay calm. Let us handle those monsters, and you better get the Paladins prepared for infiltration.’
‘But you don’t understand, Captain Quazar. That thing... that thing stared at me as though it’s ALIVE! And I got this feeling... this familiar, yet unpleasant feeling that the BIG SCORPION has grudges towards me!’
To this, Quazar rubs his beard, falls silent for a while and replies, ‘Hmm, come to think of it again, it’s strange that a golem like that exists in Sylvania. The technology is obviously... Parthenian.’
Quazar’s words strengthens Eidos’ will. He tries to regain his composure, saying, ‘You’re right, Captain. Maybe there’s a traitor among us Parthenians who works with the Dark Forces. So, we better gather some more information before we proceed with the infiltration plan.’
‘If that golem is alive like you said, Eidos, maybe it can talk so we can extract the real truth out of it.’
The airship pushes on forward, still under heavy attack until they have the giant scorpion golem in sight.
‘By Enia, it’s HUGE!’ Quazar’s face gets tensed and he steps forward to take a closer look. The gigantic golem is twice as large as the Aurora. Its body is made entirely of iron, and it has no opening, no window whatsoever as though only one person is operating it. It moves as though an individual with perfect accord between its head, pincers and feet and have a will of its own.
And then, without warning, the three turret cannons suddenly glow red, gold and green! Quazar’s eyes widen and he shouts, ‘EVASIVE ACTION, NOW!’
Darksteel Juggernaut and Phyrexian Juggernaut from Magic The Gathering (sample source)
Image Sources: Final Fantasy Wikia and Magic - the Gathering Site.
Note: Next - Pg 293 script start
Note: Next - Pg 293 script start