Gods and Titans
An Unordinary Encounter
"HA-HA-HA! Man that raid on the tomb went out without a hitch," Swartz laughed aloud with cheer, holding his new found prize -a star guarded claymore- in one burly handed grip. Giving it a few test swings, he sent erratic fissures of flaming force wherever he swung it, causing his men to leap for cover and yelp at their leader's heedless strikes. "Wow! This thing's got some power if you add a bit of your Magic to it."
"C-C-Careful where you swing that thing, Ass!" Donovan shook his fist at his boss from a mere few feet from the burning trench his boss carved. "We may be at the mountainside but you shouldn't just announce our presence like that!"
"Huh? Oh, sorry, Don. Didn't know you were right there," The grey-haired man chimed out with a candid grin.
"YOU TOTALLY KNEW I WAS-!"
"Relax, Donovan!" Rowlie restrained him with a headlock, causing the man to flail his feet and grip with his hands fruitlessly as the red-haired woman kept him under control.
"I'llkillhimI'llkillhimI'llkillhim-!" He seethed out loud with anger while Swartz just kept marching past while sticking a finger into his ear, the other hand holding his sword and resting it by the flat on his left shoulder.
"Not that you could, Donovan, but I suggest keeping your voice down," Faer implored quietly as his stave tapped the earth, his billowing cloak rustling as a chilling wind brushed across the troupe of Dark Wizards. Casting his eyes at Elaine whom was checking off a parchment with a pen, he kept a close watch on her as she smiled with sultry satisfaction. When she put an arm around Swartz's waist, the burly man went giddy and giggled in a way that made the Ink Magician's skin crawl. "He could kill you if you soured his mood."
"Tch," Donovan hissed as his body relaxed, the Mirror Mage finally relinquishing the Accelerator Wizard so he could stand upright. Dryly staring up at the mountain's dark doored entrance they bashed their way through, he looked back at Swartz whom sheathed it into a crude cloth covering that substituted a scabbard proper, he mumbled out loud. "Was that trinket even worth it?"
"It's about as valuable as most of the treasures Elaine's helped us secure," Mina replied as she weightlessly floated beside the two before hovering with aimless kicking legs next to Faer. "I'm sure if we can't find a use for it, we can pawn it and get some really nice gear from the Underworld. Or just help us buy a hideout so we don't keep sleeping outside."
"Yeah, that'd be nice," Donovan huffed as he pocketed his hands into his pants, striding out with the rearmost ranks of their group. Joined by the other elites, he sighed as he looked up at the sky. He noticed that clouds had begun to form, a storm rumbling forth and threatening to release a fall of rain over their heads. Snorting, he looked forward at his leader's back that towered over the rest. "I hope he finds us a place to stay instead of choosing tree tops. That wasn't exactly the best idea-"
"For Swartz, it was," Rowlie countered with a twirl of her hand.
"Ay, that's true," He shook his head as he didn't deny what she said.
As they began to traverse down the mountain path into the forest, Mina couldn't help but feel something. Something off in the wilderness. Looking around she felt a conflict of mental fortitude not too far from where they were walking. It's when the forwardmost ranks stopped that they all seemed to observe a figure in the distance, a casual stride towards them.
"Mina?" Faer asked as he batted an eye towards her.
"I don't know exactly what...but there's a disturbed mind ahead of ours," She replied with a soft exhale.
"In what way?" He inquired further.
"Like...almost in a way that resembles scarred tissue on skin. It reminds me of our boss, but in a different and older way," The Psychic Magician informed, turning to look at him seriously. "We should warn Swartz, otherwise he might accidentally start something."
"Right," Faer nodded as he walked forward, passing through the ranks with a curious Donovan and Rowlie in tow. When they finally stopped behind their boss and his lover, the first row of Dark Magicians -all capable B Class Wizards- sneered at the newcomer when he came within spitting distance of them. Sighing, Faer reached up to massage the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Great, the underlings are going to complicate this."
"Hey! You!" Driscol, a wiry thin and talled Magician with tattoos elaborately drawn all over his body by Faer himself that shown of bristled thorns that designated him as a member of Black Brier. His head, bald, and his eyes an orange hue dilated with anger as veins pulsed visibly around his face. Flexing his bare knuckles, the lower half of him was dressed in baggy silk pants that ended in desert upturned shoes. Being the most confident of the five that stepped up, Swartz barely paid attention as he kept ogling his lovely partner while she narrowed her eyes like a hawk's to the straggling man with keen interest. "Step aside! This road is bein used by us! Either fork over yer belon'ins to us or be shanked! Capiche?"
Cloaked in a thick mantle of furs and heavy leathers, the stranger's face remains obscured, save for a faint smile on his face traced by azure bangs. An uncomfortable silence follows as the stranger lifts his face and crimson eyes bore into Driscol. All at once the man's bravado evaporates, he doesn't understand how or why but he knows that this man... no this thing is peering deep into his soul, revealing all of his thoughts, dreams, his secrets, all of them laid bare.
Throughout his entire thought process all he could hear was a constant ringing, a screech of some kind, its haunting syllables full of nightmarish terror. It takes him a moment to realize that its him, because he has been screaming the entire time. His body feels faint and weak, and its at this point he finally remembers to breathe. The world suddenly comes back into focus, and all he can see is a massive hand just inches away from his face. Instinct born of a lifetime of fighting kick in and he stumbles back, landing on his rear, but his body won't stop trembling, wont stop screaming at him as thousands of years of primal instinct claw at his mind begging and pleading with him to flee, to run and never look back, everything else be damned.
Then just like that, the oppressive aura that threatened to drown him, the quaking terror he felt in his bones, and the unnatural sense of wrongness at just looking at the stranger vanished. His rapid breathing is the only thing he can hear, the only thing that makes sense anymore. Glancing up at the stranger he see's that he's removed his hood, revealing a rather handsome man in his late twenties. He's got a wry smile plastered on his face, but the hard gleam in his eyes... they tell a different story, he knows! Eyes widening in rapidly building terror his mouth opens again in a silent scream but his thoughts are cut off as the stranger interrupts, "Ah ah ah, none of that." Driscol blinks, unsure of what to do, but the stranger is already before him kneeling down so that he's eye level.
"I thought you were all bandits, and I was afraid that I was going to have to kill you all." The stranger says, and it is eerie, because his voice is deathly calm, spoken with such certainty yet casualness that was more than just a little bit frightening. The way he mentioned killing them, it was as if the notion had no meaning to him, like discussing the weather or some other trivial nonsense.
The strangers face takes on a thoughtful expression as his eyes roam, gazing briefly at each of his comrades. "But it seems I was mistaken. Rowdiness isn't necessarily evil. You'll have to forgive me for my presumptions. However," standing up his crimson eyes lock onto someone behind Driscol and it doesn't take a genius to know of whom he's looking at now.
"Lo friend! If you would permit me, I would like to have an exchange of words." Driscol heard what the stranger said, but undercurrent of his voice was something he was quite familiar with, after-all Swartz was infamous for it himself. It was a promise, of blood and battle, of war to be waged for no other reason than to sate one's bloodlust.
"Kill us? What kind of presumptuous asshole are ya-"
"Stop!" Driscol hoarsely croaked, holding up trembling arms that beaded as much sweat as the rest of his exposed skin.
"Driscol?" A rotund Dark Wizard looked over with curiosity at the normally eager and headstrong if not completely confident man. To see him suddenly quake by locking eyes with this new arrival gave them all a few seconds of morbid silence to measure him up. He certainly didn't look different, but his words coupled by the eerie darkness emanating from him made these B-Class Mages back up, parting the way for an intrigued Swartz and a curious Elaine.
"You," Swartz called out, his voice drawing into a more serious tone at seeing the way he talked to his men. "What the Hell is your problem? You got somethin' to say to me, then say it!"
"...and now boss is getting riled up. We should be prepared to run if things go south fast," Donovan murmured to Rowlie as she nodded with palpable fear of what could transpire.
"Something is stirring the air around him," Faer proclaimed as his cool eyes stared at the man's visage from a distance. "It feels foul yet, self righteous in his accord. It isn't like the Ragnarok Beast or its pet Slayer...but it certainly doesn't feel human. What are you?"
"We should keep a safe distance," Mina supplied with a telepathic whisper as she contained her chattering teeth to a minimum. "His Magic Aura is incredibly well hidden but is well above that an ordinary wandering mage should be. It feels also old, well preserved in its use. It's almost as if..."
Before Faer could get a response, Elaine reached up to soothingly rub Swartz's bicep. Practically melting into a giggling puddle beside her, she pet his head as his head rubbed against her shoulder, "Dear Swartz, we shouldn't be rude. If he wants to exchange words there's no reason we can't do this politely and without incursion. What do you say?"
"Okaaaaaaaay baaaaaaaaby! Anything for you, hehehehehe!" He mewled out as he kissed her left hand, causing most of his men to recoil and turn away by his exaggerative advances. Turning around on the flip of a passing leaf within the woodland bordered road, Swartz rose up back to his imposing height. Spreading his smile to the length only a slasher could appreciate, he leaned forward so his face could be awkwardly one foot away from his. The shades dipped forward on his nose, revealing a pair of piercing red eyes that stared back unfazed into the unnatural orbs of the wandering man whom crossed them. "Please, by all means, let's talk like gentlemen."
The stranger smiles thinly at Swartz, and in response stepped to the side and moved past the burly man. Casting a wayward glance at the man he said, "I wasn't referring to you. I was talking to the woman." Fixing his eyes on Elaine, he gave her a penetrating gaze. "I sensed an unfathomable amount of lust coming from this direction. At first I had thought a band of brigands had descended upon a populace and were in the midst of sating their dark desires, but on closer inspection the majority of it came from just one person," he pauses dramatically. "-you."
Gesturing to the man behind him he continues, "And to a lesser extent your lover here. But even as comically large as his is, its utterly dwarfed by your own." He clicks his tongue as though tasting the air. "Yes, a great deal of lust... but not just for the flesh, you desire a great many things in this world don't you? But I digress, you'll have to forgive me. It has been some time since I last had any meaningful conversations. Situations like this typically devolve into senseless slaughter so allow me to introduce myself."
He offers Elaine a courteous bow. "My name is Trismegustus Vandheer Langrisser. Trismegustus is a... formal title of my previous occuption, I would prefer if you would refer to me as such."
Swartz felt a bit insulted. He decided to hold back his aggression against the man but had been outright ignored to speak to his girl. Turning around he was practically seething with anger when he approached her and conversed openly. His left hand became embroiled in a thick current of Pyro Magic, readied to set aflame the man who was acting out of turn in his eyes. Eyes that were a bright red that nearly pierced his dark shades with the gleam of malice that bore into the man's skull.
"Swartz," Elaine motioned with a wave of her hand towards the burly giant who was pulling back an arm to smash into Vandheer's skull. "Please don't be like that. I only have eyes for you, remember? It'd be ill for you to strike a man so pettily for simply choosing not to speak to you but to me instead. Wouldn't it be?"
Instantly, disturbingly so, his flames were doused and his eyes sported hearts beneath his shades as he piped up in a too giddy tone, "Yes my lovely sweetness! Continue to speak away to your heart's content...but nothing more or I'll kill this bastard!"
"That's fine," She nodded, even after the verbal growl of murder in her lover's voice was heard. Turning back to acknowledge the foreigner who most likely hailed from a land far from Ishgar, her eyes narrowed suspiciously at the man who could "smell" lust. "Truly, you are an unordinary fellow, to mistaken my dear Swartz and I for such a piously looked down upon emotion. True, I do have great ambitions and desire greatness but I believe my beloved Swartz and I are of equal terms even if the balance of intelligence and strength wavers between us. Our common goals strengthen our bond and thus makes our Gang strong. We just returned from completing a task that demanded a delicate hand, namely my own so they're just all in a celebratory mood."
Stepping forward till her face was mere inches from his, she inquired in a sultry tone that belied her intent, "What do you want from me, handsome? Are you a do-gooder and intend to kill me as if I were a band of brigands? Or bring me to justice for my identity is well renowned in the underworld? Or do you wish to swear your loyalty to me, as my beauty bewitches your unnatural eyes? Choose your answer wisely, or I shall assurely bring you into a world of pleasure just as easily as torment in a heartbeat."
"What I want?" He asks with feigned surprise. His breath is like fire and ice across her skin, and at this distance she can feel his presence like the soft caress of a lover. It is like the warmth of a summer day, cool winds whipping through hair, the luminous light that shines from a brightly lit sun casting doubt and sadness away. Yet at the same time there is a coldness there, the kind of chilling embrace one finds when lost in the throes of a winter storm without any hope of survival. This strange dichotomy of conflicting sensations is unusual, and it is old, so very old. "There is no 'want', because what I've wanted has mattered little in my life. But if you're willing to indulge me, then abandon your ambition, lower your weapons and grudges. Settle down somewhere and live your life in relative peace. That," his face hardens as he stresses the word. "-is what I want. But I know you, I can see into your soul, both of yours." He says with eyes shifting between Elaine and Swartz. "You will not cease, you will never give this up, not even if the world itself was against you." He smiles, but it is a bitter and self deprecating one, whether he is speaking about himself or the two is unclear, but there is a moment where they can sense a profound sadness in it.
As quickly as the emotion comes, it is gone and instead replaced by that infallible mask of mystery. "You are but children, young and so eager to mark your place in the world. An admirable effort, but mistaken. It is the folly of your youth, the naivety of your ego, blinded by dreams so brilliant you do not see the dark reality of such a future. So I will give you this opportunity to test the mettle of your resolve. Show me the veracity of your ambitions, and should you survive, I will decline from taking them away."
His last words thundered in their ears, the weight nearly palpable to the senses. No longer binding his own magical power, his aura might as well have been a tsunami as it washed over them. The ground cracked under the sheer pressure of its presence, and the air became thick and heavy. Almost as if a valve had been released, his emotions came rolling out, a veritable cacophony of staggering conviction intertwined with haunting regret and pain so deep the very winds seemed to cry out in anguish. As his power amassed, Vandheer gazed upon them both with a knowing smile on his face. But there is no mirth, no amusement there, just a cruel mockery, an insidious foreshadowing of dread etched into those features. Yet there is no overwhelming thirst for blood, no hatred, just resignation that quickly turns into a resolve not unlike a keen blade, with its razor edge pointed directly towards them.
In that instant, it was a gale force wind of pressure washing over the Black Brier's midst. Most of the gang members were sent sprawling onto their backs or falling to their knees. Emerging from the fallen Dark Wizards were Rowlie Bann, Donovan Treuce, Faer Pleigh and Mina Saark who stood their ground but all had their eyes wide open from shock at the measure of this man's power. None of them could have expected this aimless wanderer to seek a confrontation with them, wanting their Gang to disband and live normal lives. Such an idea was preposterous as the notion this man was absolutely threatening.
Elaine, however, simply retained an entertained smile as her hat and coat whipped around her body wildly. Swartz's own hair and trench coat flapped around his own muscular build, his smile stretching to a dangerous width of rabid excitement. Both of them had a pair of gleaming colored orbs that stared menacingly at the man who basically declared war on their way of life should they not acquiesce to his request. Grasping the hem of her hat, it was the woman who chose to speak first.
"Swartz, be a dear and carry the louses who just pissed themselves out of here," She whispered with a luscious spread of pearly teeth on display. "The other four can help entertain him till you get back."
"You got it, baby," Swartz hissed out, steam seeming to crawl off his own skin as muscles began to bulge and veins pulse visible over the stretch of his flesh. Lowering himself to a squat, he moved in a blur, his arms scooping up many of his subordinates without warning or consent. In a comic display of strength and manic antics, he piled the three dozen odd number of men over his back into a ball before leaping a great distance away. Leaving a sonic impression by the force of his jump made, this left Donovan to grin excitedly, seeing that his maniacal boss left and gave them the opportunity to cut loose.
One's Trusted Confidents
"Now, Van-cherry," Elaine purred in her direction to the very proximate Vandheer. "Open wide."
With a suggestive exhale, a wafting cloud of mist spewed out of her mouth, encroaching around his entire body till it became a thick smog around their vicinity. Within this mist the man would find that the whispers of the past and his worst fears would be brought to life around him. Silhouettes of distinct shape but no build were to crawl out of the mist, reflecting before his eyes as much as giving breath to him the most tormentous trials he may have experienced. Such was the power of Mirror Mist Magic, her choice in disabling and crippling her enemies while within the beguilingly subtle choice of illusions that few can break free of.
"Breathe it in deeply," She ushered to him, her voice seeming to echo from all places while her body wisped around with no real context of her physical location. "Feel all the guilt, pain and anguish that you've wrought upon yourself as much as to others. Remember what kind of monster you are, rather than the righteous warrior you prance around being. Show your true face, Van-cherry, and despair at your own inhumanity."
He felt the magic seep into his skin, the mist working wonders on his mind dredging up the worst of his nightmares and manifesting them before him. His vision was enveloped by a dreary world under a red moon where the apparitions of all the lives he failed to save thrived. Wraiths draped in the tattered remains of their lives hovered about him, their haunting gaze and imperceptible whispers gouging into his psyche. He remembered them, their fears, their last fleeting thoughts as their lives were snuffed out. Before him visions of battles long since lost to the sands of time played out in vivid detail. The wind in the air, the stench of death and decay, the oppressive atmosphere of pure anguish as entire lives were ruined. He fell to his knees as silent tears streamed down his face, the horrors of his past clawing at the edges of his sanity. Lost in thought the world around him gave way as darkness ruptured at its foundations, geysers of hate and fury pouring out. He remembered.
His world is consumed in black flames as he found himself falling into a churning sea of abysmal waters, only to bear witness to horrors he had long since buried. How many civilizations had he seen eradicated? How many wars had he waged in the name of good!? Countless battles and all their demons descend upon him, their claws of regret tearing into his body, ripping into his body with no abandon. Why!? they demand. Why did we deserve to die!? Why weren't we worthy enough to be saved!? He struggled in their grip, lashing out but his attacks were clumsy and his body sluggish. More and more they swarm him, each crying out in rage for his failures as their claws and fangs tear into his flesh. He is not even given the ability to scream as his very throat is ripped open and then there is nothing. Blissful darkness, in all its comforting embrace soothing the aching warrior within. But the moment he feels that sense of safety, the instant he lets his guard down he is dragged out of the watery depths, coughing and the blood within his body is on fire. Writhing on the ground of his inner consciousness he could only wimper through blood soaked tears as everything he knew and loved came crashing around him.
Only here in this decadent wasteland, can hear its heartbeat. Unnatural in its rhythm, its cadence is one so very familiar to him. The darkness around him swirls until a hundred eyes snap open. He can hear it purring in pleasure at his suffering, at the sheer power flooding into it. He feels the world quake and the thumping inside his head rapidly increases as an insidious sound filters into his ears. It is ecstasy and pain, hatred and lust all morphed together in this discordant series of sounds and it is only then that he realizes that this thing in front of him is laughing. "Such suffering... such agony... you always gift me the most wonderful of meals."
The voice itself was like velvet against his skin, a combination of soothing comfort and deadly temptation wrapped together. Out from the darkness it took form, taking the visage of a woman, though her skin was inky darkness filled with sparkling lights, and her eyes were like twin suns of crimson red, with hair that flowed like living fire. She appeared above him or perhaps around him, for his head lay upon her lap and her hand, soft and tender as the caress of a lover gently glided across his skin, bringing sweet comfort to his weary mind and body. But he knew her for what she was... what it was. The darkness in his soul was just as strong as the light but here, in this moment... the despair was so overwhelming, so painful to bear, that he had fallen in his step. And like any predator the darkness seized upon his weakness.
"Rest, my knight. For as long as I am near, your demons will never rise. For as long as I embrace you, you will never have fear of pain again. Take my hand and I will guide you towards the true path just as you have done for me." Her voice carried with it all the promises and temptations he could dream of, and he knew it was a trap, but even knowing it, he could not help the traitorous thoughts in his mind. For a moment he was truly considering her offer, but then he remembered the price. His humanity.
He would no longer be human, his body would be just a shell, a container for something without morals, without regard for life or any human. It was always like this, every misstep, every stumble, and there she would be, smiling softly at him, always standing in his shadow patiently waiting for him to take the offer. Summoning forth all of his raw anger, all of his fury he rose from her comforts. He wanted to hate her, he wanted to despise her, but he couldn't. She was afterall the darkness, his darkness. But he would not succumb today, not in this battle nor in the future. He would take only a little, as dictated by the covenant that bound them together, just enough to release himself from the magic gripping at his mind. He felt the dark power surge in his body, its mysteries coursing through his veins and pushing out the foreign influence that was clouding his mind. He opened his eyes to find himself back in the real world, mere moments having passed since the woman Elaine cast her spell. He felt the rage bubble beneath the surface, the sheer anguish flowing beneath it, threatening to explode. But he held it in, using its profane energies to empower the spell he began silently weaving. He felt the dark magic coursing through his body and with another mental thought pushed everything he had out.
When he spoke next, his voice boomed in her ears and echoed her mind. It thundered down from the sky above, it creaked from the ground below, it whispered in her blood and his words leapt from her flesh. All around her his words shook the world, as magic itself stirred to its intonations.
Black magic, foul and disgusting in its nature poured out of the mist surrounding him. It was like a choked geyser as thick syrupy globules were spat out periodically splattering across the earth seeping in its cracks, causing the nearby ground and vegetation to wither and decay. The mist swirled around him as though trying to contain him, but the strain was clear.
As his words continued to hammer on her consciousness, the world suddenly grew dark as stormy clouds formed in the once sunny skies, now stricken with the crack of thunder and ominous lightning. When the light of the sun could no longer pierce the black clouds did his magic erupted skyward blanketing the area in night.
The magic she wove that was bound around him burst as he reappeared in all his glory. There was no physical difference, but the miasma leaking out of him, the oily shadows that clung to his body and clothes, the veritable fountain of dark aura wreathed about him, it was completely and utterly inhuman. The staff in his hand glowed with an ethereal light and in the next instant, a downpour of black rain falls upon them. Loss, suffering and anguish encapsulated in every droplet, washes across the earth. She can feel these emotions upon like a tidal wave, and they are relentless. But it is the magic her keen senses are attuned to reveal the true horror of this... curse he unleashed. It is as if magic itself were under assault, its bonds disintegrating on contact and she could feel the curse attempt to work its influence on both her and the power within her.
I Have Known Real Despair Child. Now So Shall You.
A Twisted Power
"What kind of power is this?" Elaine thought as she looked on with horror at the ichor and blackness that oozed out of the mist. Even as she had attempted to drive him to the depths of insanity and resignation, he seemed only angered by the attempt. Her Magic was awash and now the sky itself seemed to bleed raw emotion. It sent chills to the bone and made her start to twist around, hold a hand up to cover her mouth. She didn't even notice the black stains left on her flawless coat and hat as she coughed, heaving with incredible effort. "A psychotropic magic? What am I up against-?"
Blinking at hearing the voice of Mina echo in her head, the sudden downpour seemed to cease and so did the nauseating wave of deprivating emotions. Retaining her sense of self she looked up and saw a bubble had been erected over her head. Expanding to be a wide umbrella of sorts that glanced the black rain around them for a considerable radius, she turned to see over her shoulder Mina with arms spread to either flank. The sight of the others realizing what happened only served to infuriate her.
"I'll keep his Magic at bay in whatever way I can with my own," Mina declared telepathically as she furrowed her brows expressively that could be sensed in the tone of her thoughts. "You just take this freak job out."
"This bastard's going to get what's coming to him," Donovan declared with a snarl, his body alight with his Magic Aura of crackling blue Ethernano. Kicking up a rock, he backhanded the soil, causing a spark of Accelerator Magic to transpire. Shooting off like a bullet, it rocketed towards Vandheer with the intention of punching a hole through his body.
"Attacking so recklessly as usual," Faer replied smoothly, his body already exuding a wispy onyx vapor into the air via Magical Aura. Turning his head coolly to examine his angry visage he noticed a few droplets of the rain having landed on his blonde scalp. Regarding Rowlie he saw her already drawing her sword, erecting a magic circle over it to make her Mirror Magic transpire over its surface. Sighing, he looked over at Mina whom calmly kept her place at his side. "What do you think? Should we attack him all at once or leave this to Elaine?"
"I doubt it'd make a difference either way," Mina replied verbally, glancing up at him with a sweat christened browline. "This guy...his thoughts are so potent that I don't want to look past the surface. He's older than we all thought and he must have seen some...terrible things...to produce Magic of this kind to the fold."
"Terrible things, huh?" Faer murmured out, wondering just how akin he was with this complete stranger to produce such foul Magic.
Elaine on the other hand simply observed any damage that the attack of Donovan's had. While she wasn't normally a forward front kind of fighter, her methods sometimes called upon it if there was no other way around it. Negating her Mirror Mist Magic made her feel as if she was taking him too lightly. Withdrawing her Ruby Pistol from her coat, she took aim at the man with a menacing smile, "Who are you really, Van-cherry? I've been a Mage for a long time and I've never seen a Magic of that kind before. Are you a practitioner of the Black Arts or something else entirely?"
The black magic that had seeped into the earth resounded like a chorus, infusing itself into the elements of earth, water and air animating them with a semblance of life. Ahead of Vandheer the a chasm split the earth open and out from its depths an earthen claw stained black and red arose punctuated by a furious roar. Harsh a visceral in its syllables it was like the grinding of earth against steel plates, and a massive behemoth of a creature tore its way out, towering over the others easily twice their height. Streaking towards the golem was a molten slab of stone, augmented by Donovan's magic to do the impossible, as it easily shattered the sound barrier leaving a deafening boom in its wake. Undeterred the golems massive hands blurred into motion the moment Donovan launched his attack and in the next instant the invincible spear met the immovable wall.
There was a moment of stillness, as the world seemed to slow to a crawl, and all was silent. Yet the earth around them had shattered, spidery cracks emanating from the epicenter as the ground flattened from the kinetic forces at work. Like a drill, Donovan's slab of stone spun at an incredible velocity grinding into the golem's hands as it struggled to contain the attack, furious winds whipping about as the golem held its ground. But the foul magic that had animated it had also bestowed its insidious power upon the creature, as entropic forces eroded away the magic augmenting the attack. Then sound returned, and the world exploded back into motion. The golems massive hands crumbled under the might of Donovans attack, evaporating into dust as the slab of stone slammed into its body detonating in a thunderous explosion, but having exhausted its momentum on the golem and the resulting collision with its entropic body, it too was vaporized in the resulting detonation, leaving only a crater in its wake.
There was a thud as Vandheer's staff touched the earth and the oppressive aura of magic seemingly multiplied all around Elaine and her allies. The entire ground shook as though from an earthquake, chasms and ravines opening up all around them and out from the exposed earth dark magic gushed out. Massive spiraling towers arose from the ground, as shadows danced across the surface staining it pitch black. Eyes closed in concentration Vandheer gave a shout as his magic continued to outpour from him and in a terrifying display of magic, the earth all around them for hundreds of meters broke the shackles that bound it and rose into the air. Thick platforms formed around them hovering in the air, and as Vandheer's magic continued its work, the very rain and air began coalescing into a staggered array of orbs. Cracks appeared on their surface and that was when they heard the screams. Like the cry of the damned grotesque monsters of pure darkness emerged, six in total each bearing the form of a huge towering gargoyle, with eyes crimson beyond blood. The beat of their wings kicked up dust and debris briefly obscuring their master as he himself sat upon a lone platform a ways away. If the denizens looked down they would have seen that they were several hundred feet in the air suspended on only the earthen structure supported entirely by his dark magic. Bolts of lightning danced across their vision as several arced hitting the magically empowered arena, while gusts of wind swept across the surface buffeting the occupants. Were they not careful, nature itself would see them slain if the monstrosities summoned by Vandheer did not fell them first.
Across the distance they could Vandheer standing atop his platform and when he noticed their gaze he gave them a hollow smile and with a dismissive gesture his dark gargoyles erupted into action. Each paired off with another and began circling their respective prey; two against Elaine, another two against Faer and the last duo set upon Donovan himself.
"Fight Or Dont. I Care Not For Your Choice. Know Only That Your Fate Will Be Determined Here."
At the startling display of animation and summoning, Donovan's attack that had been an attempt to knock down the vagabond mage a peg down was met with a clash of powers. The sight of the construct shattering but containing his force regardless was enough to make the Accelerator Wizard blink with surprise. Even Elaine, whom had perfect opportunity to shoot the man, felt her grip slacken and then slip as the stave he struck the earth with plunge the environment into a chaotic crescendo of vibrations and splitting motions.
"What the Hell?!" Donovan cried out as he leaped from a descending piece of earth to a high rising one, unintentionally perched on a platform of a rising tower. As he precariously balanced on one of dozens of towers that spewed out putrid Magic, staining the earth with a viscous layer of heinous Darkness Magic in liquid form, he came to realize it wasn't just the road. A good half a kilometer had been decimated by this man's outpour of insidious magic, laying waste to the beautiful woodland environment and transforming it out of a macabre of the crisp life the landscape once had.
When the howls of the Gargoyles came, he felt a chorus of beats in his chest dictating his rising level of excitement and apprehension for the beasts of stone that bled glares at him. They swarmed around even as the menace standing much higher than he commanded them with a gesture. Creatures of old tales now birthed to attack them. Two giant entities the size of houses seemed to flap around him in particular, birthing a gleam of bloodlust in his face.
"Don!" Rowlie called up from her own hand-held grip on the gnarled tower with crooked proportions.
"Do you want one or should I have both?"
"What?!" She yelled out with a twitching left eye, cementing her annoyance at his comment.
"Don't give me that. I want to see if this thing can take some punishment and I know you've been aching to cut loose yourself, right?" He asked with a tilt of his head, totally laidback as the creatures seemed more interested in observing him with predatory intent rather than attack outright. It worked out fine for him, gave him time to consider his options.
"Ha! If you insist!" The Mirror Mage replied with a barking laugh, leaping up with a few kicks of the air, swishing herself till she was disturbingly close to one stoned golem in particular. Swinging her sword in a graceful manner that carved open a oblong shape, she placed her palm on its back before a pulse of light created a transparent one-sided mirror. With the ability to see her enemy in plain view while the beast only saw its own reflection, she called out her spell in a chant, "Mirror Magic, Reflection Puppet!"
In that moment, the very full-scaled image of the beast that she engaged combat with suddenly had its own reflection barrel out of it with wild abandon. With clawed talons grasping its shoulders and its mouth wide open to bite its sharp teeth into the hardened neck of its counterpart, the beast danced awkwardly in the air as the reflection attacked its original. The roars would be filled with a cacophony of other sounds as the rest began combating the other animated summons.
Donovan would be no different.
"A small stone is one thing, but to take you out, I want to use something a bit larger," He declared as he spotted the creature lower itself till it was near eye level at a near handful of meters away. Turning around, his body alight with electrical discharges, he snapped out a kick that cracked the strange obelisk just a breath above where his platform was. The force was enough to break the air pressure, the whole of it snapping in half as it bent towards the beast. Just as it dodged to where its point was aimed at its torso did Donovan spiral around the falling tower's upper portion and angle himself at the crumbling stump. With a pulled back arm, he howled out with a carnal grin as he launched a punch, creating a large circle that looked more like a mathematical formula than a traditional ancient text.
Simply put, the tower was turned into a magic missile of Accelerator augmentation. Flying at a speed far faster than the Gargoyle could hope to evade, the enormous projection tore it to shreds and was sent catapulting towards the sky. Donovan could see it arc past the barrier of the ruined, blackened battlefield and crash into a row of trees with a sizable crashing explosion left in its wake. Smiling rabidly he turned to set his eyes on Vandheer, his hands twitching at the thought of attacking him next.
Around the same time Rowlie and Donovan dispatched their enemies, so too did Faer and Mina did if with less words needing to be spoken. With their telepathic bond, the latter was able to levitate up with arms splayed out, her eyes narrowing at the two monsters that seemed to circle around them in particular. With her palms turning into tightly formed fists, the creatures would find themselves arrested in the air, their heads bent down and their bodies squirming against invisible bonds.
"Ink Magic, Arma Mestiere," Faer declared in a quiet, silk laced voice as the black haze gathered around him transformed into enormous battering rams. With the shape of Dragon heads with open jaws and bared teeth, these projectiles were sent rushing across the air, pulverizing both of the Gargoyles at once into dust. "That was easy."
"They can't stand against our combination!" Mina reassured mentally with an outward smile as she held the fragments with her less strained psychic control.
"Oh my, you went out of your way to alter the very landscape and raise yourself on high to make a point. I guess to show you any less than my best is an insult, now wouldn't it, Van-cherry?" Elaine mocked in her purring voice as she noticed the other four dispatching the Gargoyles sent before them.
Now she'd respond in kind.
"Second Origin," She murmured aloud, her body becoming alight with a magma of intense Ethernano discharge. The Magical Aura seemed to heat up the blackened and cracked earth that she stood upon, further eroding it and setting it aflame. With a tower of light jettisoning up into the sky that threatened to even blow back the oppressive pressure of Magic that Vandheer continuously ejected from his body. Elaine's lips stretched into a decadent grin at feeling the warmth of her own strength rising to the surface. "Watch this, Van-cherry."
Without even as much as a twitch, her body blurred in motion. A pulsing crash later and both Gargoyles jerked back from instantaneous blowbacks of incredible force. As they'd jerk back in the air, long whips of red flowed out and wrapped around their necks. When the crimson bindings yanked hard, they both flew forward into a pair of sparkling fists. With their heads cleanly turned into powder by the force of the attacks, Elaine settled on hovering in the air as her Red Hermes heels danced in defiance of gravity as her body was now on the same altitude as Vandheer.
"See? That was easy," She moaned out with a laugh, stretching a hand out towards him. "Now...it is your turn to die."
"Mina!" Faer alerted his young compatriot as he swung his battering rams of solidified Ink Magic towards the position that Vandheer stood upon. Without even responding to his telepathic shout, she sent the debris of the Gargoyles they destroyed hurdling like miniature bullets, aiming to crash in unison with his attacks against his placement.
With Rowlie finishing off the Gargoyle she employed the Reflection Puppet on, she cut a clean half in a fresh tower so Donovan could launch the same attack he did on the animated monster to its master. With a whipping kick, he sent a powerful discharge of Accelerator Magic to hit Vandheer in succession to Mina and Faer's strikes. Far faster and stronger than those, it'd tear a hole through the wind, erupting the vicinity into flames by its insane velocity that it intended to eradicate the target with its impact force and the wind pressure it carried.
All of which Elaine was managing to evade with telepathic nods so she could watch him for herself be hit by her comrades' attacks in fullest. Joining in the spectacle, she exhaled and formed a mist of glittering gems that soon took the form of jagged spears -composed out of her Ruby Magic-. With a gesture, they flew forward, with the power of hardened crystals with the intention of skewering him should he block or dodge the attacks sent after him in quick form. She rationalized that as dangerous as he was showing himself to be, their Magics were also incredibly lethal. If he underestimated even a single of their attacks, it could spell ill fate for the likes of him.
A coordinated assault? Vandheer thought. Focusing his mind, he pulled at the wellspring of his will and gave command. Twin claws of eldritch night erupted from the shadows beneath him, titanic in size one snapped forward in a lightning fast grab as the solidified ink constructs were seized. With surge of power, the clawed construct crushed them, until they burst in a shower of magical lights. Meanwhile the other claw hovered to his front as the torrent of shards from Mina's assault crashed into its open hand. The initial barrage did however serve its purpose in drawing his attention to the immediate threat, and Vandheer's defenses were obliterated by the tower turned drill when the sonic boom of its flight slammed into him.
Only by the miracle of his own defenses was he not impaled outright. A sickly black and green barrier shimmered around his person, as tendrils of darkness desperately strained against the spear in an attempt to slow its speed. The next moment they too shattered but the barrier had given Vandheer just enough notice to shift enough that when the spear pulverized his defense he was able to nimbly evade to the side. Surprise was evident even with his stoic features, yet the follow-up by Elaine's attack had nearly caught him flat footed. Unable to muster the proper magical defenses, Vandheer was forced to weave through the storm of crimson spears, his staff twirling in his hands deflecting what he could not dodge. After what seemed an eternity the onslaught was over, and the makeshift throne Vandheer had made had been utterly decimated. Gleaming spears of ruby red littered across the area around his person, as several smaller shards protruded from his body.
Blood had been spilt.
To his great annoyance it had been his own. He mentally cursed himself for his foolhardiness and lack of foresight. Had he been a lesser mage those attacks would have felled him in an instant. With a careful wave of his staff the embedded shards retreated from his person, and though injured his movements had not been deterred. Indeed it would appear that Vandheer was going to take this battle seriously. A mental pulse and the ruby shards and spears scattered across his floating landmass dissolved. Black magic enveloped his person in a malevolent aura undulating like liquid fire. With an exaggerated motion of his staff which swept across his adversaries vision he then slammed the foci into the ground, and the world became still.
It was as if everything had suddenly been frozen, all matter ceased to move, the howling winds and crack of thunder blunted into a numbing silence. There was a noise, like a hiss or perhaps a warble. It was low at first, but very quickly gained in amplitude, a dissonance that echoed within them. It was only for a moment but it felt like an eternity. Then world exploded into motion. Black winds spiraled about, until they formed a massive funnel surrounding them and the floating platforms, which began to be picked up by the rotating winds. The battle had once again been reshaped due to ancient magic, and it was here in the calm of the storm, in the eye of a tornado atop spiraling platforms did the next phase of the battle begin.
Lightning, black as night flashed above them, thunder noticeably absent, save for the continuous wail that was quickly becoming a ghastly scream full of terror. There he stood unperturbed by the events, like a titan. His crimson eyes lit faintly with power. His hands flashed in a series of signs and bolts of dark lightning lanced from the sky towards each of Elaine's group. Should they attempt to evade through the air, the buffeting winds would crash against them and spiraling debris would pound against their flesh.
At the same time, beneath their feet and all around then blackened skeletal figures arose from the platforms, brandishing swords and shields of darkness. It was a nightmarish scene that greeted them, and these abominations continued to rise by the dozens. They surged forward propelled on by a thirst for the living as they struck with surprising speed and alacrity, in a furious series of sweeping cuts and vicious stabs while shields were raised and readied to defend from potential counterattack.
Like a conductor before a grand symphony, Vandheer once more raised his staff and hand weaving them through the air, as concentric circles of shimmering barriers formed around him, and a massive draconian head seemingly morphed into existence above him, its maw gaping wide as dark power began charging with immense power.
Elaine had worn a pleased smile when she saw that she had been the one to pierce through his defenses. Ruby spears littered about, several of them were removed from his body, dislodged to produce squelches of blood leaking onto the ground. Raising up her hand, it lit up with crimson streaks of Ethernano, already forming bullets of crystal scarlet hue as she chuckled menacingly. "What's the matter? Where's that tough facade when you need it-?"
It happened just as he clacked the ground with his stave's pommel. There was a stillness, a cold feeling that blanketed all five. Even the likes of Faer couldn't deny an empty abyss of a sensation that graced their nerves like scraping daggers of ice. Yet it was all a prelude for the events that'd transpire. In an instant of her words seeming to escape her lips, the feeling gave way to an enormous cyclone of midnight twisting around their battlefield's perimeter. The earth was ripped apart, the landscape tarnished and lightning crackled even more furiously as it entrapped them within its center.
"What the Hell is this?!" Rowlie cried out with eyes wider than disch saucers, her voice barely making over the howl of the wind. It picked up the platforms and began spinning them around, forcing the fivewizards to evade the large moving objects that spun within the barrier of darkened air. That on its own would have been enough, had it not been dark colored bolts of magical energy firing at them silently within the howling vortex. "SHI-"
"HA!" Mina cried out as she physically swung her hands around, forming psychic barrier around all five of them as the blasts of energy instantly struck. Diverting the power yield, they were forced to their knees while the Psychic Magician perspired at the constant barrage sent by the monstrous wizard they combatted. It took all of her power to stave off the assault, she couldn't afford to sacrifice it for the opportunity to return fire.
"I can't fight with this barrier around me," Faer thought as he grimaced, noticing the dead seeming to rise around them. Skeletal avatars armed to the teeth began swarming around them. Had it not been for Elaine's quick timing of threading her magical fabric into the ground and up to snap their legs, it'd have struck them at being close. Still, they numbered in the dozens while the Slayer continued to orchestrate them from afar. "He's hellbent on killing us..."
"We have another problem guys!" Donovan shouted out loud, his neck angled up which soon was followed by the rest of their squad. There, presiding at the top of the tornado's mouth was a sinister dragon, or at least its head. Manifested by wispy shadows of the deepest night, eyes red and smoldering like lava pits, a maw of its own opened to reveal a gleaming sinister well of power; energy it soon intended on unleashing them far below.
"Is he insane?! He's going to go down with us?!" Mina cried out as sweat beaded across her face, still struggling on reflecting the attacks from the indiscriminate bolts of magic lightning.
"Shit, Shit, SHIT NOT GOOD!" Rowlie panicked within her own fabric tight barrier of Ethernano.
"This...is how it ends?" Faer thought with remorse, his eyes closing as he tried to calm himself and accept his fate. "So be it."
A Monster Returns
It was then, admist the chaos, that a loud howling holler was heard behind the wall of spiraling wind. A laugh so demonic it could belong to a maniacal entity from the deepest pits of tartarus. Nay, but its source came from one man capable of both lunacy and terrifying destruction. The legacy of the Raven himself...
"Swartz!" Elaine cried, both in surprise and elated relief.
An immense pyre of light seemed to spiral forth, followed by a meteor of flaming Ethernano that rolled off the dark silhouette of hyper motion. Having pierced the wall of rapidly spinning wind, he slammed into the ground, unleashing a geyser of Pyro Magic that burned the skeletons to ashes while washing over dangerously close to his squad. Other than uncomfortable heat, they wouldn't lick past the barrier Mina unleashed. Rising up, the hulking man of muscle, grinning teeth and impeccable dark shades looked over at his love with a childish giggle echoing his throat.
"I'm so happy you're alive, my buttercup!" He cried out, making kissy faces as he tip-toed towards her.
"NO TIME FOR THAT!" Rowlie shouted, watching as an impossible blackness howled out from the sky of the dissipating twister. "BOSS, LOOK-"
It seemed to collide with him and their squad instantly. The blast of incredible power weighing them all down as a chilling energy seeped into their bones, making them all gasp for breath. The sheer volume of pressure was unfathomable and they knew that they should be dead yet it hadn't fully lapsed over their bodies. With Rowlie straining her neck up to peer at the source of the power's yield, she gaped at the sight of it all diluding, bending around him like fabric with a waterfall of blackness sweeping around them as Mina barely kept them intact by the power waving off their leader.
"-out?" She weakly finished her sentence with disbelief.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Swartz laughed with wild abandon, his newly prized possession that was the rare sword in his hands cutting swathes through the darkness. Eventually he lit it up with his Pyro Magic, all the while cranking down his collar down further, letting loose another large torrent of his power. Firing up like a monstrous golden flame, it exploded upward in an ascention of complete eradication soon reaching the dragon's head itself and detonating the effigy into thousands of blackened shards. As soon as he launched the attack, the scene of near complete destruction could be seen around them.
A grey patch of earth spanning for half a kilometer where once forestry and flora once grew, the path wiped out to the cave not far away. It was now a barren wasteland other than the wilderness that surprisingly remained untouched from their battle. Just as quickly as the squad stalled him, they had been brought to their knees, while their leader stood tall and only had hints of scuffs from the encounter.
"B-Boss," Donovan croaked out, stumbling up to his feet.
"Ah, that was refreshing," The white haired man rolled his neck, snaps and cracks heard from the exertion placed. "A little tension was let loose. I should thank the man."
"He tried to kill us!" Rowlie cried out with incredulity.
"To be fair, boss did want to kill him," Mina quipped.
"That's besides the point, you-!"
"Alright, break it up," Elaine reprimanded lightly, feeling a bit lightheaded from the near death experience. Looking over at the man she studied him as Swartz sheathed his sword on his back once more and turned to look at him as well. Turning to stare at her lover's back, she chuckled in a sultry tone. "Darling, you got here in the knick of time. He's quite the formidable foe as you've no doubt seen."
"I know," Swartz declared with a widespread grin. "It makes me excited, blood boiling, heart pumping and nerves aching to be used into crushing him outright!"
"Do take care. He's no ordinary Mage," She warned once more.
"Well I'm not such a normal guy either. We're peas in a pod, ha!"
"Then we shall meet up with you when you're done. Just make sure not to make too much of a mess," Elaine responded, turning to walk towards Mina as did the others. Kneeling next to her, she lent some of her strength to the girl nodding to her. Once she got the message she encompassed them all in a dazzling lime light; then in a wink, they all vanished in the blink of an eye, with nothing left of their existence traced.
"So, we're alone now," Swartz announced with a wave of his hands, bringing them together to crack his knuckles. His body occasionally sparked and popped of thrumming power, still exuding off him like an unstable pylon. "I trust you got a good warm-up with my baby and subordinates?"
He felt his presence long before he actually saw the man carve his way through his magic. Like drops of rain sliding across steel, the dark magic at his command while powerful was simply put, not sufficient to even stop the inhuman beast that was Swartz. With all the palpable fanfare of a meteor his tornado was smashed to pieces with such abruptness that he was momentarily taken back at the sheer impossibility of the situation.
Surprising but not entirely unexpec-!? Vandheer's impassive face was one of shock as he witnessed the impossible a second time.
The wave of darkness that swallowed up the sky above and descended upon his enemies was almost casually deflected by some kind of advanced defensive magic, no... it was the sheer volume of magical power exuding from the man that the concentration alone was akin to a high-level barrier. And he just... took a direct hit without even flinching. Though he had given the impression that he had simply allowed Elaine and her company to safely retreat, the reality was that his mind was still processing the scene and the shock had only worn off after they had left. Inconspicuously he maintained the charade, if only to maintain his pride.
Swartz was his name. Curious, very curious indeed.
Vandheer floated down to the scorched wasteland, eyeing Swartz almost.. skeptically. "You must be proud." He said as he glided to a halt inches above the ground. "To have such capable subordinates. But was that wise?" The question lingered in the air for a moment. Vandheer however was confident, he had met beings like Swartz before. He is not the first, nor will he be the last.
"Together you might have had a chance, but alone?" Vandheer's face morphed into a viscous smile, it was something that somehow did not belong on such features. All jagged, and feral like a beast moments before it is unleashed. "Know that whatever your strength, I have faced and felled monsters far more powerful than you. But-," his arm comes up to grasp at his cloak before tossing it aside. The staff in his hand glows brightly for a moment, and when it dies a crimson spear is in his hand. "-to answer your question, yes they did. So shall we begin?"
He takes up a loose stance, his body standing upright but relaxed, his spear spinning lazily in his off-hand while dark magic cackles madly in his right. Vandheer appears content to let Swartz begin the battle, presumably because he interrupted the previous one, or perhaps he's anticipating the battle that is to come and is eager to see what sort of power Swartz has at his command.
Swartz let out a bellowing laugh, barking out at the man's idea that teamwork was advantageous. Seeing him wield the spear, he withdrew the sword once more, grinning madly at the man who wore a smile much like his own. He was quickly growing to like the kind of man he was aiming to kill.
"Oh don't get me wrong. They're tough cookies," He replied, his feet tromping forward as his coat fluttered around him with every step. It wasn't until the pace began to grow that he broke into a full sprint, his body zooming ahead as if he'd disappear. In a blur he'd race past him, swinging his sword out as he did, letting loose a cutting fissure of explosive flames that detonated along the path his blade traveled. As he'd stop a good half dozen meters behind him, he'd spin around and thrust his sword, launching another fiery geyser of combusting tongues towards his person, "But when I get REALLY going, none of them can keep up with the likes of me!"
A final blow was let loose of this combo of attacks by stabbing the blade into the ground, sending a trailing fissure that webbed out until it surrounded the spearman's footing. Light hissed out with vapor, following a pillar of flames that roared upward and aimed to consume his position along with a good twenty meters of space behind and around him. Even as the tongues licked close with heat, Swartz barely let out a bead of sweat, his resistance to the fire as if it was his own nature. That or his unrealistic endurance made him nigh untouchable to such elemental extremes.
"Go ahead and try to fell me, Monster Hunter," Swartz drawled out as he held up the sacred blade he pillaged not but hours ago, letting its impeccably bright and sleek edge bear towards his enemy's direction. "More powerful men and entities have tried before, all have failed."
A swath of flames danced across his vision the moment Swartz flickered from sight. Twirling his spear he swept the lance in a wide arc whilst uttering words of power in an inhuman tongue. An outpouring of black magic burst from the ground as pillars of blackened earth interposed themselves taking the brunt of the attack before detonating with extreme force. The earth beneath was obliterated leaving a massive crater in its wake.
Vandheer used the explosions to propel himself high into the air, only to be met with a staggered array of combusting tongues. Grinning he deftly maneuvered his spear slicing through the them as he shot forward. Twisting mid-air streams of fire sailed just inches past him as he stabbed forward piercing through another. Off in the distance behind him a resounding boom was followed by chaotic winds as the hills behind him ceased to exist.
Reaching back with his hand, black liquid and crimson energy pooled into the open space accompanied by shrieking winds admist the roaring fire. Hurling the orb forward it released a staccato of orbs that upon collision with the geysers detonated setting the earth ablaze with foul miasma and licking flame. Undeterred he continued his downward flight until he slammed into the ground kneeling low before turning to Swartz who was but twenty paces away.
The moment he did so, a spider-web of cracks was his only warning before brilliant light illuminated between the crevices. His last sight was the savage grin on Swartz's face before he was subsumed in an enormous pillar of hellfire.
In the roaring inferno a bubble surrounded Vandheer, as flames washed all around him, and even then it did little to prevent the actual heat from scalding him. Thrusting his spear forward he allowed the dark magic that suffused him to strengthen his power. When the blade of his lanced pierced through his shield the inferno evaporated into embers. Though his was skin still red from the heat burns, the damage inflicted on him did little to weaken his movements, rather they served to embolden him.
Standing from his crouch he chuckled ruefully at Swartz's words. "Monsters, beasts and all manner of creature have fallen before me." At this he took a step forward.
"Demons that pressed against the boundaries of our reality." Raising his hand, dark power once more gathered with fervent speed. The earth quaked beneath their feet, a low throaty growl escaping the chasms that spread across its surface releasing pools of black ichor.
"I have slain Gods, whose power could reshape our reality. Before them? You are but an upstart. One who shall know the fear of facing a true God-Slayer." A dark presence settled into the region, a thick pressure that smothered life itself as all wildlife within several kilometers withered and died. The sky turned black and the earth itself continued to spew voluminous black liquid that quickly drenched the surface in darkness.
Vandheer's body slid downward into the ground as through submerging in murky waters, till nothing left. When he next spoke his voice boomed from everywhere and nowhere at once.
You May Have Survived A Tornado But Let Us See If You Can Weather THIS.
From the ocean of darkness, a demon was born. A massive clawed hand emerged from the surface, easily the size of a hill, the arm accompanying it dragged a body the size of a small mountain out from the depths. Truly it was a behemoth of titanic size, a veritable beast easily the size of a Dragon if not more. Jagged horns adorned its head where twin coals of burning light peered at the human below. From within its head Swartz could sense the presence of Vandheer, feeding it the dark power to maintain its form.
As it rose, it roared releasing a shockwave that swept across Swartz with devastating sonic power. The sheer strength of its roar had caused the once black clouds darkening the sky to scatter as though parting the heavens. Standing upright the creature was covered in gleaming black armor, and wreathed in an aura of malevolent power that seemed to bend and twist the space around it. Raising both its fists into the air, it then slammed them down on the Swartz, the energy pouring out of its body alone causing the sky to ignite in black flames.
It was pleasing to Swartz's sight that his opponent was far from being done. His boasts got his heart pounding, like a war drum that thrummed within his soul. He couldn't have shared such a smile that he was displaying now, with the power that was unleashing like an abyss from his opponent. Even the sight of an ocean of darkness spewed from his feet as chasms opened and ejected ghastly tinted Ethernano all around him. From his point of view everything had a cold, chilling sensation, and the forest itself surrounding the region seemed to die instantly. A little hope within him that his team that he took a few kilometers away would be shielded by this collision these two were having.
The moment he said, God Slayer, is when his eyes narrowed to the size of pins. An immortal concept of combatting deities beyond the scope of men made him howl with rapturous laughter. This only continued as a monstrous limb rose up from the sea that Vandheer sunk into. Crashing with a motion that felt like a violent quake, it was followed by another until a mighty devil reared itself out of the masses, easily as large as the mountain he just journeyed its innards. A roar bellowed from its maw, causing him to raise his arms in a pitiful attempt to bar its hurricane wind of a breath that sent him sprawling back quite some distance. Even as he steadied himself the size of tantamount limbs rose into the air before aiming to crush him underfoot.
Black, fiery appendages that could easily wipe out an entire hillside.
As two monstrous proportioned fists collided, a collar clacked onto the ground. Ebony flames exuded off the limbs, spreading out like an inferno in its own right as they annihilated the earth and indented it into an endless abyss below. Just as the effigy of Vandheer collided, so did an inhuman rise of peaking. His stature increased as an overall column of pure white jettisoned from his frame, pushing back in bleeding rays of light that spread from the titanic limbs. In the seconds that passed a new form rose, equalling to the size of a skyscraper as it maintained palming grips as its cloak of massive lengths fluttered back. Gone was the shades and now red eyes emerged in his sockets, his white hair dyed a black pulled back spiked crop. Grinning manically, he yelled out like thunder as he swung a free foot, kicking the monster in the jaw.
"TAKE THAT, BASTARD!" His voice echoing just as the explosive and the deceivingly swift inhuman proportioned limb cracked, unleashing an explosion of Pyro Magic in its aftermath. Assurred that Vandheer was within the head, he hoped that it felt that impact. Stepping forward with his kicking foot he leanred to the right and angled the fists he caught in a way that leveraged the beast off balance. Turning around with his hips and sliding soles, he swung it around in a whirlwind of motion that'd finish with an over the shoulder crash behind the hole he emerged tall from. "HA! AND, THIS!"
Inhaling deeply till his chest puffed out to comical scale, he let out a loud howl as a roar of flames were let loose from his mouth. The Pyro Magic blasted the land apart, a geyser of combustible tongues that were escalated in devastation far more than his smaller human frame had possessed. As his mouth exuded steam he'd shout uncontrollably with a devilish laugh that matched his newfound towering frame, "HOW DID YOU LIKE THAT?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
The transformation before Vandheer was as spectacular, as the one insignificant form of Swartz became a colossal titan equal in size to his own infernal effigy. The twin hammer fists that had shattered the barrier of sound from their sheer force and power were stopped by the grinning madman before him. Feeling the subtle shift of his opponent he leaned back at the moment of impact, as a gargantuan leg snapped with immense speed in a devastating kick. The shockwave ignited the air eliciting a conflagration to burst into being at the point of contact. He felt the effigy be dragged along by Swartz's monstrous strength before being roughly slammed onto the ground.
Reaching as though grasping for air, a clawed hand was lit with foul magic, eldritch energies swirling about in a crackling orb that burned with dread and malevolence. Clouds of darkness converged as thunder cracked and amethyst lightning illuminated the miniaturized hurricane. Gale force winds ripped through the region as the atmosphere became thick and heavy with rainfall. In a surge of motion, Vandheer's effigy form blurred in motion as slammed the conjured spell into the gaping maw of Swartz and his breath weapon! Crimson flames clashed violently against the dark forces roaring in the demons hand! A sound unlike thunder punctuated the resulting explosion that consumed the entire region, as all was reduced to ash and cinder. Admist the devastation wrought the howling laughter of a tyrant could be heard above the cacophony of embers.
Fighting him at his pace is a losing battle. Vandheer grimaced. Fading into the black pool below he reappeared a distance away. The sheer amount of magic he had cast was beginning to take its toll. Even for someone like him, repeatedly casting such high-level forms of magic would start to eat at his stamina. Still, he had an ocean of power at his disposal. Beginning a chant his effigy began spouting globs of darkness, sprinkled with twinkling lights not unlike a midnight sky. Dozens hovered in the air, each the size of the demons massive fist. As the chant continued they began emitting pulses that grew in rapid frequency. Every pulse was like a note to some grave symphony as the very world seemed to shake until the earth and sky quaked in tandem. The shockwaves released were akin to high frequency vibrations, a veritable sonic attack directed at Swartz to thwart his senses and turn his innards to pulp.
The tier'd spell continued its formation as the sky above collapsed into itself forming a singular shining star of crimson light that illuminated the world below. Pouring more of his magic into the spell, a magic sigil, the likes of which seemingly stretched across the horizon formed as lines of power emanated outward in a criss-cross network of patterns. Blackened pillars of earth arose from the shadowy depths below surrounding Swartz to block his path and impede his motion. As the final syllable was uttered, the spell above reached its zenith...
The world split.
A thin beam of crimson light fell from above until it touched the ground. There was a rush of air like a sudden vacuum and then everything was thrown into chaos. An orb of energy and darkness pierced through the magic circle above, and the lines of reality began to close all around Swartz, space warping around itself as his vision curved and twisted. It was neither fast nor slow, yet its purpose was clear; it would annihilate him body and soul until naught remained but a memory. As large as he was tall the divine unholy lance of darkness, pierced the sky, penetrated the air as it carved its way to the Swartz splitting space itself.
Centuries Ago When The World Was On The Verge Of Collapse I Cast This Spell.
With It I Slew The Dark God And Cast It Into Oblivion!
Now Perish Before Me! I Banish You To The Void And Beyond!
ARS DEUS: ATERMALUM!
Like the event horizon of a dead star, the twisted void descended, or perhaps the world was simply drawn in?