1. SPS Accounts:
    Do you find yourself coming back time after time? Do you appreciate the ongoing hard work to keep this community focused and successful in its mission? Please consider supporting us by upgrading to an SPS Account. Besides the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting a good cause, you'll also get a significant number of ever-expanding perks and benefits on the site and the forums. Click here to find out more.
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
You are currently viewing Boards o' Magick as a guest, but you can register an account here. Registration is fast, easy and free. Once registered you will have access to search the forums, create and respond to threads, PM other members, upload screenshots and access many other features unavailable to guests.

BoM cultivates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We have been aiming for quality over quantity with our forums from their inception, and believe that this distinction is truly tangible and valued by our members. We'd love to have you join us today!

(If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact us. If you've forgotten your username or password, click here.)

Forged in Hell, Tempered in Blood

Discussion in 'Creativity Surge' started by Shura, Jun 17, 2002.

  1. Gothmog

    Gothmog Man, a curious beast indeed! ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

    Jun 30, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I'm really gonna print the whole story out when its complete. I'm gonna put it on the wall and get some other people to worship it. :)

    But until then i'll just make backups onto my hard drive in case something bad happens to server-comp. If it does....
    I can blackmail you all if you wish to read it ever again :evil: :grin:

    AND i can spam in-between :D ;) truly a honor :eek:

    [ January 20, 2003, 20:35: Message edited by: Gothmog4230 ]
  2. Shura Gems: 25/31
    Latest gem: Moonbar

    Aug 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Here's the next part, folks. Phew. This story is taking a lot longer than I thought it would. The conclusion will come soon. Then I can work on Archon and Axe and Thunder.


    Amidst the gathered Children, Arkados sought vainly for a glimpse of Sylurae. He had been taken out of his wagon and now sat at the hooves of Krugar’s warhorse. The bestial Blood Hound paid him little heed, his piggy eyes focused on the siege of Terun. Occasionally, he would nudge Arkados with his steel-toed boots when he wanted the king to move.

    Arkados witnessed the True Father being thwarted and felt a grim sense of satisfaction. There was a presence atop the city walls that prevented the True Father from crumbling it with the force of his will and now the Blood Hounds had to take the city by fire and steel. The fact that the city was aware of their approach and ready for a siege astonished and baffled him until he remembered to factor Shura into the circumstances whirling about him. The swordsman must have had some part in organizing a city’s defenses against the Blood Hounds, though this was hardly his style.

    “ The city will fall, True Father.” Krugar reassured the furious angel. “ Their walls were not built to withstand a siege. When the ballistae are ready, a couple of volleys will tear down their gates.” The True Father gave him a curt nod but said little else.

    Eight wagons rumbled to a halt behind the lines of the milling Blood Hounds and their canvas covers were torn off. Five filthy, disheveled mercenaries manned each of the ballistae that were mounted atop the wagons.

    “ Fire!” A Blood Hound sub-commander cried and the sound of great tensed cords snapping into padded leather and wood filled the air, followed by the hum of massive steel-tipped bolts slicing towards their targets. A huge hole was torn in the wooden gates of Terun with the impact of the first bolt and an entire section of a wall erupted into shards of stone and masonry, flinging guardsmen and Blood Hounds into the air. Most of the bolts went over the walls to crash into the buildings within the city and the siege engine crew begin to adjust their aim and trajectory.

    Atop the walls, the Blood Hounds were easily overcoming their opponents. Many a beardless youth whimpered helplessly at the sight of the drooling savage before him within moments of being slaughtered. Individually, the guardsmen of Terun were overmatched by the experienced and ferocious Blood Hounds. Heavily outnumbered, the guardsmen stood no chance at all. Still, the defenders put up a stoic, if suicidal and futile resistance, for they knew that they were the last and only line of defense between these monsters in human form and their loved ones.

    A pile of bodies began to build at Feather’s feet, the elf’s blade a flickering blur in the air. His long coat had been torn off and he bled from a dozen shallow wounds. He stabbed a Blood Hound in the throat, whipped his sword across another’s gut and sent yet another over the walls with a spinning kick to the face. Sweat rolled down his fair face as three Blood Hounds leapt in to take the place of every one he slew.

    He heard a pain-filled scream and a quick glance to the side told him that the last of the youths that had fought beside him had perished with a sword through the groin. The leering face of the Blood Hound that killed him was swiftly dashed away by a powerfully swinging mace. Attucks charged with his shield and sent a trio of Blood Hounds tumbling over the walls to be broken upon the hard, packed dirt below. The priest and the elf fought back-to-back, their movements desperate and fast tiring.

    “ Not like the old days at all…” Attucks huffed, parrying a spiked club and sending his attacker reeling with a cracked skull. Feather flashed him a sideways grin.

    “ Getting old?” He teased. This time, it was Attucks’s turn to laugh. The priest crushed yet another skull and swept a Blood Hound off the walls with his shield.

    “ My enemies were more vigorous then!” He cried. “ The youth of today simply have no energy!” Feather joined in his laughter, though there was a desperate note in his voice. The battle of Terun was lost and he would surely lose his life as well.

    “ Oal…” He mouthed the pirate’s name silently as he parried and struck. Waves of longing and regret washed over the elf. “ Oal…Oal…” A cool sense of detachment overtook his senses and the heat of the battle grew distant from him.

    Arkados felt no surprise as Sylurae’s slender hand laid itself gently upon his shoulder and he felt her breath upon his ear. Krugar was too absorbed in the battle to notice his fellow Child of Travesty conversing with the king of Gryloas.

    “ Your friend comes.” Her voice was soft, tinged with a deep sadness that Arkados had not heard before. “ Warriors of Gryloas ride with him and the Blood Hounds will fall before their might.” Arkados tried to turn to face her but Sylurae’s surprisingly strong grip prevented him from doing so.

    “ Sylurae! I…” He started to speak, words lost in the swirl of chaos that reigned in his head and heart.

    “ The True Father will not fail, however.” The Child of Travesty interrupted him. “ No mortal can withstand His might and will.”

    “ His plan is one of madness!” Arkados cried. His voice was utterly drowned out by the din of the battle and only Sylurae, who communicated with both words and thoughts, could hear it. “ We must not let him succeed! Worlds will perish if he does!”

    “ So be it.” Sylurae replied in a chilling tone. “ There is nothing here for me anyway. Farewell, Arkados. We will not meet again.” Arkados felt her presence fast departing and he spun around.

    “ Sylurae!” He screamed her name as loud as he could but this time, Krugar’s boot crashed into him, knocking him to the ground. The air was blasted from Arkados’s lungs and Krugar spat down upon him as he lay gasping in the dirt.

    “ Behave yourself, dog!” The Blood Hound said before returning his attention to the battle.


    “ Do your wounds need tending to, lord Shura?” Kulgore asked. Shura shook his head. The swordsman was covered in blood, much of it his own. His clothing hung in tatters and his cloak sported a few dozen new tears and punctures. Yet Krugar’s ring sustained him. He needed no food and no rest and no new scars have decorated his body since he tore the enchanted piece of jewelry of Krugar’s finger.

    “ There is no time!” He said. “ Call for greater haste, captain! We must move faster!” Kulgore nodded and raised his gauntleted fist. His huge fingers flashed in a silent signal to the orcs behind him and as one, the pace of the dark column picked up. Shura rammed his spurs into the sides of his horse and the beast, already frothing with exhaustion, fell, throwing its rider off. Shura leapt nimbly onto the back of Kulgore’s wolf, riding pillion behind the orc. The wolves bearing their massive riders behind the Blackguard ignored the fresh carcass as they thundered over it, so loyal to their masters they were.

    “ Bah! Useless animal!” Shura spat. He tore off his spurs, which were glistening with blood and flung them aside. “ I hope your mount holds up with the added weight!” He told Kulgore.

    “ Hell Fang is in tune with my soul. Neither of us shall fail you, lord.” The Blackguard assured him.

    “ You speak highly of a beast of burden, captain.” The swordsman sneered.

    “ Hell Fang is not merely my mount, lord. She is one of my staunchest allies in battle and a true friend.” Kulgore said. “ Every warrior under my command shares a similar bond with his Warp wolf.” The swordsman stood up abruptly, balancing his feet perfectly upon the upraised rear of Kulgore’s saddle.

    “ The enemy is in sight!” He cried. Terun’s beleaguered walls were visible, along with the mass of armed men that were the Blood Hounds and wagons mounted with ballistae.

    Kulgore squinted and it was many moments before the orc could make out Terun’s vague silhouette. He raised both fists and spread his arms out. His orcs spread out in a fanning formation. Kulgore made another gesture with his right fist and five hundred lances snapped down into position, their steel tips glinting menacingly in the air. Shura raised his eyebrows at the display, his surprise evident. The orcs were as well trained and as disciplined as any brigade of heavy cavalry the swordsman had ever seen, apart from the Blackguards, the elite warriors and champions of Gryloas.

    “ What are your orders, lord?” Kulgore asked. The orc’s voice was calm but Shura could sense the underlying bloodlust and fury beneath his cool demeanor and the swordsman grinned. Beneath all the armor and trappings of station, Kulgore and his riders were still orcs after all.

    “ Aim the charge at the wagons. We must destroy the siege engines.” He instructed, drawing both his swords.

    “ What do we do after that, lord?”

    “ We kill as many humans as we can.”


    Krugar roared his fury and defiance at the incoming orcish charge. His army still had the advantage in numbers and the canny leader of the Blood Hounds detached six hundred men from his reserve force and sent them forth to intercept the orcs before they could reach his ballistae wagons.

    The True Father looked into Sylurae’s eyes, the inky depths of his cowl revealing nothing of his thoughts. He stroked the side of her face gently.

    “ Ah, my sad, tormented child. What pain Arkados Blackmire must have visited upon your soul.” He said. “ You are a brave child indeed, to see past his lies and pay no heed to his deceit.”

    Sylurae, on her knees, clutched the hem of the True Father’s cloak and lowered her gaze.

    “ Forgive me, Father. Please allow me to redeem myself.” She pleaded. “ Let me wash away my sins with the blood of your enemies!” The True Father’s cowl inclined in a gesture of agreement and Sylurae pressed her forehead to the ground in thanks. When she looked up again, the True Father was gone, overseeing the siege of Terun somewhere else among the Blood Hounds.


    The orcs crashed into the massed Blood Hounds and once more, Shura was thrown into the chaos of a frenzied battlefield. The swordsman bared his teeth in a grin of feral delight. This was where he belonged; this was where he had been shaped. He had carved his entire life in carnage. Kulgore’s battle scream as his lance tore into a Blood Hound’s chest was no less full of joy. Shura leapt off the Blackguard’s wolf and his descending blades found the chest and throat of another of Krugar’s warriors. His blades whirred furiously as he hacked his way into the ranks of the Blood Hounds, seeking to reach the wagons bearing the ballistae.

    The Blood Hounds were holding their own against the orcs, matching their ferocity and giving no quarter. Despite their superior discipline and weaponry, the orcs were still heavily outnumbered and they could not burst through the intercepting force in a single charge. Only Shura, a seemingly unstoppable whirlwind of death, made any progress in the melee. Men fell where his blades flashed and soon Blood Hounds started scampering away from his path, preferring to confront the savage orcs than the black-cloaked swordsman. He felt a wild pounding in his temples and his senses became increasingly veiled by a red haze that dimmed his vision. A song spilled from his lips, the words harsh and foreign to any worldly being. Occasionally, insane laughter would bubble from him, interrupting his song.

    A surge of mental energy seared his consciousness, the agony sobering. The red haze of the path of Slaughter receded and he staggered in confusion, bringing the back of his right hand to his temples. A Blood Hound, driven mad by fear, rode forwards and thrust his sword at Shura’s face. Disorientated, the swordsman snapped his head sideways, taking the blade in his shoulder and his black katana rammed itself into the Blood Hound’s ribs. The hapless warrior slid off his horse as Shura retracted the blade.

    Another blast of mental energy crashed upon Shura’s mind but he was somewhat more prepared for it this time and he deflected the worst of it with the teachings of the Second Sphere. Sylurae stepped into view, her elegant form contrasting starkly with the filthy, ragged furs of her Blood Hound allies. The swordsman gathered his will and sent it down the lengths of his swords, bringing forth a flickering blue flame upon their edges.

    “ Where is Arkados Blackmire?” He demanded. His puny human voice was lost amidst the din of battle but Sylurae hardly needed to hear his words to understand him.

    “ He has a role to play in the True Father’s plans.” Her mental voice rang in Shura’s mind. “ I shall not allow you to hinder it.”

    “ Then you shall die!” Shura cried, charging forwards with both his swords leveled at Sylurae’s throat. Sylurae produced her silvery whip and lashed it in a horizontal arc. The weapon cut through the afterimage left behind by Shura as he leapt into the air, so fast his movements were. With a flick of her wrist, Sylurae’s whip streaked upwards, only to screech along the length of Shura’s parrying wakizashi.

    “ I have bested the Web of Severance!” He spoke into the Sylurae’s surprised visage. “ This is as nothing compared to it!” Sylurae’s eyes flared as she directed the full extent of her mental energy into a massive psionic assault upon Shura and the swordsman reeled in midair. He hit the ground heavily, his limbs convulsing as he tried to give them orders they would not follow. Sylurae staggered in exhaustion as she studied the swordsman’s crumpled form. The Blood Hounds and orcs had given them a wide berth in the battle, as if somehow sensing unconsciously that the two of them were opponents beyond their ability.

    She released her whip from trembling fingers and wiped away the trickle of blood from one of her nostrils. The psychic backlash was a mere fraction of the power of her mental blast yet it had already taxed her so. Sylurae drew a dagger and hobbled towards the prone swordsman. Shura bled from his eyes and ears but the bleeding slowed and stopped before Sylurae’s horrified eyes. She instantly knew that Krugar’s ring was responsible, for the Blood Hound leader had complained about its loss more than once. A booted foot pinned Shura’s left arm to the dirt and Sylurae raised her dagger to sever the limb.

    The short blade descended and halted as Shura’s other arm caught her weapon hand at the wrist. The swordsman tried to say something but it came out as an incoherent gurgle due to the mental damage that Sylurae had inflicted upon him. Through the veil of blood over his eyes, his dark, piercing gaze wrought terror within Sylurae’s eyes. She was not fighting a human, but a monster, it seemed.


    The Blood Hounds gained the walls of Terun, pushing back the defenders with increasing ease. Guardsmen fell rapidly beneath their axes and maces and the fighting now took place amongst the city streets. Filthy mercenaries took up position atop the city walls and rained arrows upon the defenders and guardsmen, mostly consisting of boys who have not seen eighteen winters, died screaming with a shaft through their bellies or groins.

    Feather fought furiously, but his sword arm had become numb long ago and exhaustion wracked his slender frame. He could not keep this up much longer. Soon, his strength would give or the overwhelming numbers of the Blood Hounds would flank and overrun him, whichever was the sooner. Attucks fought grimly beside the elf and Feather could not suppress the admiration that he felt for the priest. His mace accounted for many Blood Hounds and his prayers helped to bolster the flagging strength of the defenders near him.

    Yet, they could not win. The siege of Terun would be over in less than an hour. Already Terun’s guardsmen were being herded towards the city square and the wagons bearing the ballistae were rumbling their way through the ruined city gates. Soon, the weary defenders would find themselves facing a ring of steel and a hail of ballista bolts that would complete the slaughter.

    Feather’s feet trod upon the tiles of the beautifully constructed city square, a plaza decorated with a gushing fountain. His sweeping glance told him that his fellow defenders were suffering a similar fate as well. Bands of Blood Hounds have broken off from the main fighting body and they would now be in flanking positions surrounding the defenders of Terun. Abruptly, the foremost ranks of the Blood Hounds pulled back, leaving the ground between them and the defenders littered with the bodies of the dead and dying.

    A tense silence filled the air as both sides regarded each other. The inexperienced guardsmen that have survived until now cast their glances this way and that. Feather and Attucks, both seasoned warriors, knew what was to come. Chuckles and whoops of delight rose from the ranks of the Blood Hounds and all of them started waving their weapons in the air and screaming in victorious joy. Gaps parted within their ranks to make way for the ballista wagons and soon, massive steel points were aimed at the encircled defenders. A young guardsmen let loose a sob of terror as tears began flowing down his cheeks.

    “ Fear not! We have served the cause of justice and righteousness this day!” Attucks cried, brandishing his mace high in the air. His commanding presence caught the attention of every man, Blood Hound or defender. “ We have won this day! Victory is ours!” And every defender knew in their hearts that the priest spoke truly, for they have bought their loved ones enough time to escape.

    “ Raise your voices and rejoice!” The priest exhorted. “ Sing in victory for the glory of the Lord!” And this time, cheers broke out amidst the defenders. They were hesitant and dulled by fear at first but soon they grew in volume until their cries of victory matched that of the Blood Hounds. When the cheering died down and Terun’s warriors faced the points of the ballistae once more, their terror had been replaced with a grim resolve to die well. Feather caught sight of Feros amidst the last of the defenders. The mage was bloodied and battered but there was blood on his sword. Despite the determined grimace upon his face, tears ran down his cheeks. He would never see his beautiful wife again, like so many others here.

    So engrossed were the Blood Hounds in their macabre act of impending slaughter that they failed to notice the passage of a line of sleek warships gliding down the river that divided the city of Terun. By the time an observant Blood Hound had screamed a warning to his fellows, four of the ships had sailed alongside the city square. Black shafts cut through the air and a hundred mercenaries fell, transfixed by arrows. Dark-robed sorcerers standing atop the masts of the ships chanted ominously, and spheres of flame burst forth from their palms to land upon the ballistae wagons. The decks of the ships were packed with archers, each clad in the gray and blue scaled mail of the Gryloas navy. They unleashed cloud after cloud of feathered death upon the Blood Hounds.

    The Blood Hounds cried out in surprised terror and fell back over one another as they attempted to escape. But the Gryloas navy poured their arrows relentlessly into their backs, cutting them down almost to a man. So great was their skill that the guardsmen of Terun were virtually unharmed despite the fact that the rain of arrows was so thick that it turned the sky black. Terun’s defenders slumped in disbelief at their unexpected salvation. Another seven ships glided down the river and sailed out from the ruined river gates of Terun where the rest of the Blood Hounds awaited them.


    Krugar’s mouth opened and closed in horrified surprise but no sound emerged, so shocked was he. He had not expected such massive reinforcements for a mere city. Each ship held four hundred Gryloas soldiers and with his forces so badly decimated, there was no way the Blood Hounds could win this day. He considered calling for a retreat but knew that with the troublesome orcs still harrying his rear forces, the Blood Hounds had no avenue of escape. He turned to regard the True Father, despair evident on his face.

    “ Gather one hundred of your warriors and deploy the rest as a living shield against them.” The True Father instructed coolly. The slight tremble in his voice told Krugar of his mounting fury and he nodded in fervent obeisance. “ To me, my Children! We must resort to somewhat desperate measures now!” The True Father cried to the gathered Children of Travesty. They had stayed well out of the fighting, except for Sylurae.

    Krugar led his hundred men towards the True Father and the fallen angel nodded, guiding his mount so that he could address the mercenaries.

    “ Your lives have been the lives of scum and filth.” He began, raising both hands into the air as he spoke. “ Now, you shall experience the glory of being part of something holy and grand!” Azure energy crackled between his fingertips. “ Do you all agree to serve my designs, here and now?”

    The Blood Hounds exchanged confused looks. They had been serving the True Father indirectly through Krugar all along. All of them have witnessed his power and many of them nodded and shrugged in agreement, having no idea what the nature of the True Father’s strange question entailed.

    “ Very well. I shall take what is freely offered to me!” The True Father called forth his immense power and a crimson glow fell upon the Blood Hounds, causing them to mill around in puzzlement. “ By the powers of chaos and creation, your flesh and bone and blood are mine to warp, for you have handed them to my custody!”

    A scream of agony arose from among the hundred Blood Hounds and as his fellows watched, a mercenary’s flesh melted from his bones, which dissolved in turn. The swirling ball of organic matter rose into the air above the Blood Hounds. The same thing happened to his horse and soon the beasts’ flesh mingled with the mercenary’s. Cries of terror arose but the Blood Hounds found that they could not step from the area illuminated by the crimson radiance. One after another, they were drawn into the swirl of flesh and blood and liquefied bone, a sphere of gore that grew increasingly larger with the absorption of each Blood Hound.

    When the last Blood Hound was absorbed shrieking in terror into the sphere, the True Father began shaping and warping it. A few hundred legs sprouted, some of them with hooves and others human. Grotesque, terror-filled eyes blinked open upon the creature’s flat, disc-shaped body. The monstrosity crashed to the ground. A hundred mouths filled with misshapen teeth opened on the creature’s body and howled with the agony of its existence. The True Father rode his fell mount onto the creature’s back and the anguished sobs and screams died away, to be replaced by a low, terrified and incoherent gibbering.

    “ Stand upon its back and we shall cover the last miles to the capital.” The True Father instructed. Many of the Children had to swallow their revulsion nervously before they could do so despite their dark nature. Krugar seized Arkados by the scruff of his collar and flung him onto the creature’s back. Arkados reeled back in disgust at the touch of the creature’s clammy flesh and the multitude of pain-filled eyes that glared at him.

    “ This construct can only last for a short amount of time, but it should be sufficient for us to complete our journey.” The True Father elaborated calmly to the doubting expressions of his Children. All around the abomination, the rest of the Blood Hounds that had been deployed as a sacrificial rear-guard were being sliced to pieces by the bows of the Gryloas navy. It was a far cleaner fate than the one that had befallen their hundred fellows. Krugar paid little attention to the dying screams of his men as he dragged Arkados to the True Father’s side. After all, there was plenty of scum in the world if he wanted to rebuild his army.

    With an unspoken command, the abomination surged forwards, borne by hundreds of deformed feet. Driven by the strength of its unnatural existence, the creature’s speed was astounding. It leapt over the walls of Terun and trampled its way through any building that got into its path all the while shrieking and keening in agony. The black shafts of the Gryloas navy failed to hit a target that moved so fast it appeared as nothing more than a streaking blur, despite its large size. It leapt over Terun’s northern wall and began to pound towards the capital, a destination a man on horseback would take two and a half weeks to reach.


    “ Die!” Sylurae cried, her voice trembling with effort as she attempted to force the edge of her dagger down. “ Die!” Shura’s arm shook with the strain as well. The green-skinned woman was remarkably strong despite her slender frame. He bared blood-flecked teeth in a snarl of defiance and twisted his body, bringing his left knee slamming into Sylurae’s ribs.

    The impact sent her sprawling into the dirt and she struggled to rise as Shura groped for his fallen wakizashi. He had lost all of his daggers. His fingers closed around the hilt of the milky white blade and he swung it upwards to parry Sylurae’s flashing dagger. From his prone position, Shura caught the woman’s ankle with his other hand and yanked her off her feet. Sylurae tumbled onto her back and Shura rolled away, coming up into a shaky crouch as he tried to fight away the numbness that permeated his senses.

    Sylurae clawed her way into a similar crouch as well, her dagger held ready. Sweat beaded her forehead and her chest heaved with exhaustion.

    “ The fight can go any way at this point, demon spawn!” Shura forced the words out through uncontrollably chattering teeth. “ Shall we find out who lives and who dies?” With the swordsman staggering from psychic shock and her body wracked with fatigue, the ensuing battle between the two of them would hardly be a matter of skill. It would be a desperate one of pure brute strength and viciousness.

    “ Let’s find out!” Sylurae lunged forward, her dagger outstretched. Shura let the blade score along his right forearm, guiding it so that the sharp blade rammed between his ribs and transfixed his heart. He caught Sylurae’s wrist and twisted the blade so that it remained trapped within his body. Blood poured from his lips.

    “ What…?” Sylurae stammered in confusion. Too late, she remembered Krugar’s ring. With her arm and weapon trapped thus, she could not stop Shura’s counterstroke. She felt an explosion of pain in her ribs and the last thing she saw before consciousness faded was the grinning visage of Shura tearing her dagger free along with a huge chunk of flesh and a crackle of bone.


    Feather could only gaze around in disbelief as the soldiers of Gryloas got off their ships and took up battle positions in Terun. All around him, the survivors muttered in apprehension at the sight of the gray clad soldiers swarming over their city. Soon enough, another ring of armed men surrounded them.

    The soldiers parted ranks and an armored figure stepped forth, her breastplate decorated with medals and a violet sash across her waist indicating her rank. Feather blinked a few times as he regarded the apparent commander of their saviors. It was an elf; clad in armor more fitting of a human. Her sharp, angular features were framed by a mass of pale hair and her blue eyes regarded the bed-draggled form of Feather with an air of amusement tinged with contempt.

    “ Where is his majesty, King Blackmire the First?” She demanded in the musical, unearthly tones of an elf. Feather reeled in confusion. Was this the War-mistress that Shura had told them about? His doubts took a backseat in his priorities as another figure pushed forth from the ranks of the soldiers and ran towards him, throwing her arms around his neck.

    Feather dropped his sword as he embraced Oal tightly. Sobs of relief wracked the pirate and her tears flowed down Feather’s chest. The War-mistress allowed them a few moments before she spoke again, her voice tinged with impatience.

    “ I shall ask you again, people of Terun. Where is the King?” Feather disengaged himself from Oal’s embrace gently and walked forward to address her.

    “ The Children of Travesty have escaped with Arkados upon that grotesque creature that was shaped like a disc.” He began. A mailed fist crashed into his cheek, sending the elf reeling. Oal caught him with a cry of alarm.

    “ You shall address his majesty properly.” The War-mistress snarled. Oal and Feather directed baleful glares at her but the presence of so many armed soldiers under her command blew away all thoughts of reprisal.

    “ That is enough, Millene.” A cold, flat voice sounded over the tense silence. Feather and Oal nearly sagged in relief as they both recognized the voice. The ranks of soldiers parted once more and this time, Shura walked forth, a massive orc clad in black spiked armor keeping pace with him. The swordsman was covered with blood and filth and there was a hint of madness in his eyes. To the elf’s and pirate’s surprise, the War-mistress turned to him and curtsied, the movement natural despite the heavy armor she wore.

    “ Lord Shura. It is good to see you again.” She said. Shura snorted in impatience.

    “ I am no lord.” He said perfunctorily. “ The bastards have gotten away with Arkados. I mean to begin pursuing them before the sun sets this day.” The War-mistress did not bat an eyelid at the casual way he addressed the king. Shura jerked a thumb at the orc standing beside him. “ And someone promote this orc. I have rarely seen a more ferocious warrior than him.” Kulgore inclined his head modestly as Millene directed an approving nod towards him.

    Shura walked past the War-mistress and loomed over Feather and Oal. Up close, the elf could see that although a faint gleam of insanity was still present in his eyes, the swordsman looked more lucid than he had ever been since they met.

    “ My thanks to the both of you. Things could have turned out much more differently if not for your actions.”

    “ Yer letter got us through the highest security levels of the capital’s harbor and an audience with the War-mistress herself. She took a couple of minutes to read the letter and the Wave Jackal was trailing behind her ships by the end of the day!” Oal exclaimed, her remaining eye wide with disbelief. “ Just who the hell are ye?”

    “ A nobody…” Shura began but Millene interrupted him.

    “ Fools! Have you never heard of the Heroes of Gryloas?” She snapped. Oal blinked once and Feather nodded slowly.

    “ Yes. Tales have been told about the time of the Succession Wars and many of them were about the companions of King Blackmire who united the country and ended the perpetual state of war that had wracked the west for centuries.” The elf said. “ Ander Lolias the Storm General, Kalvairn Levensrau the Sorcerer and Princess Katherine Blackmire, the king’s sister have become legendary figures sung about in ballads by bards far and wide.”

    “ The ballads have forgotten one!” Millene said. Her gaze went to the tattered form of the swordsman. “ Amongst those loyal to Gryloas, the name Shura is one spoken in awed whispers.” Feather and Oal stared at Shura incredulously and the swordsman grew uneasy.

    “ Enough idle talk.” He said tersely. “ Whatever the Children of Travesty and their celestial scum of a leader have in mind for Arkados, it can not be good. We must tarry here no longer.”

    “ Surely, lord Shura. My men shall escort you to a place where you and your companions can rest.” Millene offered but Shura shook his head.

    “ I require no rest.” He glanced at Feather’s battered form. “ As for the elf, he can rest during the journey.”

    “ Still, there are some issues I have to address before my ships can depart.”

    “ The Wave Jackal shall serve my purpose well enough. Oal’s ship is as swift as any of yours.” Shura pointed out.

    “ You intend to pursue them yourself?” Millene asked incredulously. Shura considered the issue for a moment. Oal’s pirates would be no match for the Children of Travesty, especially with the True Father around.

    “ Very well. We shall sail alongside your forces.” He agreed. “ They seem to be heading for the capital, though their purpose eludes me.” Millene smiled at the swordsman’s decision. Her smile faded as she turned to one of her soldiers and muttered a few instructions. The soldier bowed and made his way through the ranks of his fellows. A few minutes later, a small group of soldiers cranked the northern gates of Terun open and a huge group of frightened people were herded in. They consisted mostly of women and children and they gave a collective cry of relief as they spotted the survivors of the siege of Terun.

    “ I had two hundred soldiers gather these stragglers when I spotted them from my ship. They are obviously the non-combatants of Terun, sent to relative safety while their men fought and died for them.” Millene informed Shura. The swordsman gave her a slight nod and directed an approving glance at Feather.

    “ Well done, Yagyu. Well done.” And there was a tone of gratefulness in his tone that mystified the elf. The people of Terun were allowed a few moments of joyful reunion as Millene’s soldiers looked on. Sobs of grief filled the air as sons, husbands and lovers were mourned but on the whole, the folk of Terun rejoiced in their survival. Oal started to lead Feather away to the Wave Jackal but Shura lingered behind, his dark eyes seemingly searching within the crowd.

    “ People of Terun!” Millene cried, leaping atop a shield borne by four of her soldiers so that everyone could see her. Silence fell upon the city square, broken occasionally by the sobs of a child or a baby’s wail.

    “ Years have passed since the end of the Succession Wars and King Blackmire’s ascent to the throne. For years, Terun has run her own course, heedless of the rightful ruler of this country. This shall change today! I shall appoint a governor to oversee this city and to instill loyalty to our King.” The War-mistress announced. Her proclamation stunned everyone.

    “ No heretic and usurper shall have my allegiance!” A lone voice rang above the silence. Millene’s furious glare fell upon the speaker, a balding old man clad in the robes of a priest of the Celestial Church. “ Take your faithless filth away from Terun!” Attucks cried.

    “ I shall repopulate Terun with loyal subjects if need be!” Millene shouted. She raised a mailed gauntlet and a thousand bowstrings were drawn back; a thousand black arrows were trained upon the cowering folk of Terun.

    “ Then we shall die secure in our faith!” The stubborn priest declared.

    “ So be it!” Millene snarled, sweeping her hand down. She stopped in mid-gesture at Shura’s voice.

    “ No!” The swordsman said. He looked up at the War-mistress. “ Let me handle this!” Millene’s eyes fluttered in surprise but she nodded her approval. Shura turned and started walking towards Terun’s people. They looked upon his torn and tattered cloak and the ragged remains of his tunic that hung by threads from his chest and arms. They saw the hilts of the two curved swords that hung by his hips and they flinched from his steely gaze.

    An unreadable expression was on Attucks’s face as Shura walked towards him. The priest looked upon the blood-drenched, filthy form of the man his old friend had so much hope in.

    “ Would you drag all of them to death for your faith, priest?” The swordsman asked. Much of the madness had been shattered by Sylurae’s mental blast and for the first time in many, many months, Shura felt the absence of the bloodlust that had driven his actions. Without the buffer of the path of Slaughter, the swordsman felt the full bite of his own bitterness. A bone deep fatigue filled him, despite the enchanted ring upon his finger that rejuvenated his body constantly.

    “ I would preserve their souls!” Attucks declared. A tinge of anger wound its way into Shura’s heart but this time, it was utterly his own, not the unreasoning rage of the path of Slaughter.

    “ You would see children die in the name of your god?” The swordsman demanded. “ None of them wish it!” He swept his hand in a gesture to encompass Terun’s frightened folk. “ Do not speak for others when you are not sure!”

    Attucks’s gaze fell upon his flock. Fear and despair were evident. It was one thing defend your loved ones against a horde of unreasoning savages but it was another to sacrifice them when there was another easy alternative for survival. Terun would accept the King’s rule if her folk would be spared. The priest saw this and he sighed.

    “ You know then, that there is only one way out of this for me.” Attucks told Shura somberly. There was regret in the swordsman’s eyes as he nodded. The priest’s mace came up in a battle stance and a thousand bows instantly drew a bead on him. “ Strike well, boy. Magatsu has taught you how to do so.”

    Shura’s blades came free from their scabbards and Feather ran forwards, the elf’s expression one of incredulous disbelief.

    “ Stop it! This is insane!” He cried. Attucks gave him a nod of respect before returning his attention to the swordsman. His cry was followed by another female voice.

    “Don’t do this, Shura!” Jo-annia shouted. She had barely recognized her friend’s filthy form but the shock wore off swiftly when he confronted the priest with his dreadful swords.

    Shura did not avert his gaze from the priest, despite an inner voice screaming at him to turn his head and look upon Jo-annia. A deep calm fell over Attucks’s face. As one, the priest and the swordsman spoke together.

    “ No. This is necessary.” Attucks swung his mace but the weapon had barely moved past the zenith of its arc before a streaking black sword beheaded him. A gout of blood rose into the air as the Terun’s people shrieked in horror at the sight of their beloved priest murdered. Shura caught the falling, headless corpse of Attucks in the crook of his arm and he lowered it to the ground gently. Cries of denial and grief filled the air and Shura knew that Jo-annia’s lamentations would be among theirs. Millene laughed loudly at the sight.

    “ So perish all enemies of Gryloas!” She proclaimed. Turning towards her soldiers, the War-mistress raised her arms. “ All hail Shura, Hero of Gryloas!” And a rousing cheer rose from among the soldiers of Gryloas.

    “ HAIL SHURA! ALL GLORY TO BLACKMIRE!” Millene’s warriors chanted over and over again, drowning out the wails of grief and mourning of the people of Terun. The swordsman closed his eyes, shutting them tight as if to shield himself from the reality of his deeds.

    “ Forgive me.” No one heard the words, whispered so softly from his lips. As he walked away, countless stares of accusation and condemnation bore into his back, Feather’s and Jo-annia’s among them.
  3. Gothmog

    Gothmog Man, a curious beast indeed! ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

    Jun 30, 2002
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] Story is as great as always ;) :)

    But why finish it quickly?

    IIRC you said that the story would take another three parts until ending. - Another half. :(
  4. Dalveen

    Dalveen Rimmer gone Bald Veteran

    Oct 11, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Great story Shura

    The stor isnt finished. he still has to kill the true father and shura can still come up with new enimies
  5. The Kilted Crusader

    The Kilted Crusader The Famous Last words "Hey guys, watch THIS!" Veteran

    Sep 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] Amazing!!! I'm having a bit of trouble trying to steal your crown though, will paper mache do? ;)
  6. Thorin Gems: 9/31
    Latest gem: Iol

    Jan 3, 2002
    Likes Received:
    good work as always Shura, Can't wait to see the closure on this story
  7. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone

    Sep 14, 2001
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] Uberly and utterly brilliant :)
    Yes, I think Shura needs a bit of a rest from this series. It gets boring writing with the same character continually, a change is always good

    'And someone promote this orc' :rolling: :)
  8. Shura Gems: 25/31
    Latest gem: Moonbar

    Aug 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Here's my work schedule

    After Forged in Hell,

    1) Archon of Ashes

    2) Axe and Thunder

    3) Duel and Descent ( Shura 4)

    4) Plains of the Infernal ( Shura 5)

    5) Harmony ( A Feather/Jubei Yagyu story)

    6) Paladin Saga ( Redone entirely, on Mikealus Blek-lance)

    7) Blade Angel ( Working title, liable to change)

    8) The Dark Swordsman ( Shura 6, conclusion)
  9. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone

    Sep 14, 2001
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] Well your going to be busy. Hmm, I thought that this story would depend on your mood, you must have a very bad mood :p
  10. Ancalìmon Gems: 14/31
    Latest gem: Chrysoberyl

    Jan 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    I am absolutely stunned, I write stories too but this is a kick-ass story wich I can probaly never beat... Shura you are truly brilliant.
  11. Gothmog

    Gothmog Man, a curious beast indeed! ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

    Jun 30, 2002
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] I'm just posting to keep this story sticky on the top :grin:
    It deserves it :)

    Sorry if someone got a heart-failure from disapointment becouse this is not Shura's post ;)

    [ February 06, 2003, 10:31: Message edited by: Gothmog4230 ]
  12. Foobster Gems: 1/31
    Latest gem: Turquoise

    Feb 6, 2003
    Likes Received:
    WoW. This is really good. I really liked all of the Shura stories.
  13. Shura Gems: 25/31
    Latest gem: Moonbar

    Aug 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Here it is, folks.


    Sylurae regained consciousness and the pain of a dozen aches buffeted her senses instantly. A gentle hand was dabbing a rag soaked in water over the bruises on her face. For a moment, the tormented woman allowed herself to fall slowly back into a dreamless slumber. Awareness sank in before she could do so, however and she swept aside the hand of her unknown nurse, bringing forth a startled squeak and tumbled off her cot onto the wooden floor of a ship’s cabin.

    A young girl, with the features and complexion of an easterner, leaned away uncertainly, her eyes filled with trepidation. Sweeping her gaze around, Sylurae saw that there was another man clad in worn and faded white robes in the cabin as well. Worry was evident on his plump face, though no fear showed.

    “ Easy, Hitomi, she’s just startled.” The man said. His voice was pleasant and warm, though a slight tremble in it revealed the fact that he was trying to convince himself of his words as well.

    “ She looks very badly hurt, Aldamus-san.” The girl replied. Sylurae drew a deep breath and winced. Looking down, she saw a deep bruise spreading across her ribs; the yellow and purple visible even under her unusual complexion.

    “ The demon spawn will survive. Leave us alone.” Another voice chimed in and Sylurae’s gaze swept to a shadowed corner of the cabin. It was a person she knew well. Shura sat upon a stool, his arms folded before him. Strangely, the swordsman did not seem like the terrifying monster of bloodshed that he was upon the battlefield to Sylurae. To the Child of Travesty, he seemed to be nothing but a young man, aged and weary beyond his years.

    “ Yes, Shura.” Aldamus agreed. The doctor gestured to Hitomi before opening the cabin door and ushering her out. With a grave nod to Shura, he shut the door, leaving Sylurae alone with the swordsman.

    “ What do you want?” She demanded. “ Why did you not kill me?” Her following words were cut off as a streaking dagger slammed into the wooden cot beside her head.

    “ Tell me of the True Father’s plans for Arkados.” The swordsman’s voice was cold and flat and the terrible gleam that had struck such horror into her heart returned once more in his eyes. “ Tell me, or suffer.”

    “ Never!” Sylurae spat. Another dagger streaked through the air and pinned a lock of her hair to the cot. The tug upon her scalp brought a wince of pain to her face and she had to fight down her rising panic as Shura rose from his seat and drew his wakizashi.

    “ I can keep an individual alive for hours, screaming and begging in pain all the while, demon spawn. Do not doubt my skill, or my willingness to use it.” The swordsman said, a grin breaking out on his face. Sylurae understood how a woman must have felt when cornered by the likes of Zakkan and Krugar, when she felt the cold flat of Shura’s wakizashi touch her cheek.

    “ Tell me what I want to know.” Shura demanded once more. “ I shall not repeat myself. One more refusal and we shall find out how your face looks like stretched out upon the wall.” Tears misted Sylurae’s vision and she had to dig her fingernails into her palms to keep from trembling.

    “ Go to Hell.” She forced the words out between gritted teeth, hardly believing that such a monster was Arkados’s friend.

    “ I was hoping you would say that.” The swordsman’s words were a chilling whisper. Sylurae closed her eyes and braced herself for the coming agony. She heard a soft click and she nearly betrayed herself with a whimper. Many moments passed and she finally opened her eyes. Shura sat across the cabin again, a wry look of frustration upon his face.

    “ Damn. Usually they crack at that point.” He grumbled. “ Bah!” Shura stood up and opened the cabin door. Feather, Hitomi and Aldamus fell through into a tangled heap upon the floor. The trio had been eavesdropping with a profound lack of embarrassment.

    “ Idiots! Did you really think I was capable of torturing women?” The swordsman snapped. All he got in response were three sheepish grins. Shura’s steps resonated within the cramped confines of the Wave Jackal as he strode away.
    Sylurae wiped away the cold sweat that had beaded on her forehead.


    Oal turned to regard Shura, a grave expression on her face. The pirate had been standing by the rail of her ship, watching the preparation of the Gryloas navy. She pointed to a robed figure standing on the harbor.

    “ He’s been hollering for ye.” Oal explained. Shura nodded to her and leapt from the railing, clearing the distance between the harbor and the ship easily. His landing was graceful and light as always but the swordsman’s movements belied a certain reluctance to face the robed figure.

    Feros glared at the swordsman, his face a mask of sheer anger. The mage’s hands trembled with poorly controlled wrath and to Shura’s astonishment, there was a sword buckled to his waist.

    “ Murderer!” He screamed into Shura’s face. “ Your deeds are beyond forgiveness!” Feros tugged the sword from its sheath, a clumsy and inept gesture. “ I shall have you account for them, even if no one else does!”

    Shura did not respond, did not draw his blades. He stood there, unmoving and silent. His lack of response seemed to enrage Feros further.

    “ Have you lost your taste for murder? Or perhaps you can only kill someone with a host of archers supporting you?” Feros taunted. “ Draw your weapon and defend yourself or I shall kill you where you stand!”

    “ No.” The swordsman said, his voice barely more than a soft whisper. “ Strike if you will.” Feros raised his sword above his head in a two handed grip. For many tense moments, the two of them held their individual poses, the mage with his weapon held high in readiness for a crushing blow and the swordsman with his arms folded across his chest. Fear and indecision flashed across Feros’s eyes and sweat rolled down his face.

    Eventually, Feros lowered his sword, his breathing heavy with the tension of the past few minutes. The mage’s glare did not lessen in intensity as he regarded Shura.

    “ You would not have struck.” Shura did not meet Feros’s glare. “ You are not me.” Feros flung his sword to the ground in disgust. Another figure walked up beside the mage and it was a measure of Shura’s distractedness that he had not spotted her long ago.

    Jo-annia slipped an arm through her husband’s. Shura had to muster all his nerve and discipline to prevent himself from flinching when her gaze fell upon him.

    “ Do you have anything else to say?” She asked. The only response the swordsman could offer was a slight shake of his head. Jo-annia began pulling Feros away. The mage had one last parting shot before he left, however.

    “ If there is justice in this world, you shall face it soon, murderer!” Shura kept silent, his gaze fixed on Jo-annia’s departing form. He did not avert his gaze until the husband and wife were beyond sight. Just before they disappeared round a corner of buildings, Jo-annia looked back.

    “ Take care…” The mental whisper of Deis brushed his consciousness and she was gone.

    “ There is no justice, only the weak and the strong.” Shura quoted his sensei, the words bitter in his mouth. His shoulders heaved for a few moments and a chuckle escaped his throat. Before long, the swordsman was standing there, laughing loudly, his head thrown back so that he looked to the heavens.


    Night fell as the Gryloas navy finished their final preparations for their journey back up the river and towards the capital. The ships pulled out from the harbor under the cold moonlight and the arcane wind, called by the navy’s sorcerers, filled their graceful sails. The Wave Jackal followed swiftly behind, benefiting from the magical breezes as well.

    Shura stood at the helm of the Wave Jackal, his gaze locked upon the silvery blue of the horizon caused by a trick of the moon’s light on the river’s surface. The swordsman’s face was impassive save for a grim frown of resolve and he said not a word to the elf standing beside him. Feather broke the tense silence first.

    “ Is this the price one has to pay for following the Way of the Sword?” He asked. There was a look of troubled contemplation on the elf’s face and it was doubtless that his heart raged with inner turmoil.

    The swordsman’s bitter laughter startled Feather and for many moments, the elf could only stand silently as Shura’s chuckles played themselves out.

    “ Yes, it is, Yagyu.” Shura answered when at last his laughter died down. He did not turn to face him. “ The Way of the Sword takes everything from its pursuer. There is no room for anything else in the life of a swordsman.”

    “ My uncle…” Feather began but Shura cut him off.

    “ The mighty Kuroi Itezeru died in solitude, unknown and unsung in his last moments! There were no children by his deathbed, he has had no wife and none of his family mourned him!” The swordsman said. “ There was no one except a murderer to bury his corpse! A murderer like me…” His voice trailed off and Feather could not find it within himself to come up with a suitable response.

    “ You are a very sad man, Shura.” The elf finally spoke after many minutes of silence. He flinched at the swordsman’s baleful glare and thought for a moment that he might have went too far.

    “ Leave me alone, Yagyu.” Shura snarled. Feather could only nod numbly and walk away, leaving the swordsman standing there, facing out over the water. He waited until the elf’s soft footsteps faded before turning around and glaring at a patch of shadow. Sylurae walked out into the illuminating moonlight. The two foes locked glances for a long while.

    “ You seem different.” The Child of Travesty said finally.

    “ I have you to thank for that. Your mental assault drove away a great deal of the madness that had me in its grip.” Shura’s tone was curt and to the point. It was obvious he did not desire any further conversation. Sylurae nodded slightly, accepting the fact as it was. She pointed to the dull brass ring that Shura wore on his left hand.

    “ The ring you stole from Krugar is known as the Flesh Coil, an artifact that used to belong to the necromancer lords of the southern swamps.” She explained. “ The True Father wrested many such items of great enchantment from them. Zakkan’s scythe was one such artifact.”

    “ That foul weapon has been destroyed, along with its wielder.” Shura held up the ring so that the moonlight glinted off its dull and unremarkable surface. “ The Flesh Coil has surely saved my life many times. An extremely useful item.”

    “ The Flesh Coil devours the flesh and blood of your victims and patches your wounds with what it can take. It is an artifact of necromancy and evil.” Sylurae went on. “ Soon, its ravenous nature will overwhelm even the strongest mind. Since he lost the ring, Krugar has become more cautious, less bloodthirsty, almost cowardly and craven, though that does not make him any less the murderous monster that he is.”

    Shura could not resist a small grin at the venom in her voice when she spoke about her comrades. Still, he nodded to himself and slipped the ring off his finger. A thousand gibbering voices, insane with hunger, protested in his head as he did so and he reeled from the Flesh Coil’s mental insinuations. He felt Sylurae’s mind reaching out and slamming a protective barrier of psychic energy between his consciousness and that of the Flesh Coil’s. Clutching the railing, Shura righted himself, his breath coming in harsh, shallow gasps.

    “ You are gifted, though your methods are crude and primitive.” Sylurae commented, not a hint of hubris in her voice as she did so.

    “ I have yet to scratch the surface of the Second Sphere’s teachings…” Shura muttered. Seeing a look of curiosity appear on the Child of Travesty’s face, Shura snarled and swept his hand violently in the air, as if to dismiss the possibility of him giving an explanation of his disciplines.

    “ I shall not be grateful for this, demon spawn!” He said. Sylurae flinched slightly at the term the swordsman used to address her. Shura did not miss that fact.

    “ What do you intend to do with me?” She asked. Shura turned his back on her. He dropped the Flesh Coil into one of the pockets in his cloak.
    “ Once we arrive at the capital’s harbor, you are free to go as you will.” He announced. “ I have had more than my fill of killing and even more bloodshed awaits me there.”

    “ I must see Arkados again.” Sylurae struggled with herself for a moment, before adding a pleading tone to her voice. “ Please.”

    “ Like I said, you are free to go as you will.” Shura’s responded unconcernedly. Sylurae bowed to his back once, wincing at the ache in her ribs and departed, leaving the swordsman alone to his contemplations.


    The abomination shrieked as it dashed towards Gryloas’s capital at break-neck speed. Many of the Children had to go upon their hands and knees to maintain their balance. Occasionally, a chunk of flesh would break off from the disc shaped creature and tumble into the dirt amidst a great spray of blood. The True Father still sat atop his fell mount, his robes flying wildly, though his cowl was not thrown back at all. It was as if even the rushing wind did not dare reveal the True Father’s visage to the world.

    The walls of the capital came into sight, tall and imposing. Thousands of arrow slits lined the walls and a mighty garrison manned it. Seeing the incoming monster, the soldiers of Gryloas wasted little time on disbelief. Within minutes of visual contact between the garrison and the True Father’s abomination, the air darkened with a thousand ballista bolts and flaming catapult shot. The True Father spread his arms and raised a shield of energy around himself and the Children of Travesty. Iron tipped bolts and burning balls of pitch bounced off the True Father’s defense.

    His shield did not cover the abomination created out from the blood and flesh of a hundred Blood Hounds entirely, however. Ballista bolts tore off parts of the abomination that shrieked and cried in voices of their own; gibbering screams grew to an insane pitch as they were smothered in burning tar. The True Father cared not. His main concern was for the Children.

    A trio of black robed figures appeared on the wall and they began an ominous chant together. The True Father pointed at them and a streak of energy tore from his fingers to shatter that part of the wall, sending the sorcerers flying into the air like broken rag dolls. He did not allow his creation to slow down, even as the frantically raised drawbridge approached. Lightning blasted from his palms again, screeching against the arcane protections of Gryloas’s sorcerers. The fallen angel’s power won out and the wooden drawbridge shattered with a massive concussion, wrenching the steel gates behind it from their hinges.

    Bleeding from countless wounds, the abomination had reached the end of its line. With a final belch of foul air from its many orifices, it collapsed into the dirt within the capital city. The Children of Travesty jumped clear, brandishing their various weapons and calling their spells to mind. They were more than eager for battle.

    “ Convene at the palace!” The True Father instructed, amplifying his voice with his power. “ Kill any who oppose you! Today is the day Justice will dawn upon this world!” The soldiers of Gryloas poured forth from the many guardhouses and barracks. They were a battle-hardened force, comprised mostly of veterans from the Succession Wars. The Children of Travesty tore through them, cutting swathes in their ranks, their demonic blood surging wildly as they slew their opponents.

    Arkados, bound and slung over Krugar’s shoulder could only roar in impotent fury as he witnessed the slaughter of his warriors. The Blood Hound paid him little heed, fighting frantically as he kept pace beside the True Father, his massive axe cleaving down soldier after soldier. The fighting reached the streets and common folk perished alongside the soldiers, for the Children of Travesty were heedless of who they slew.

    The True Father trotted his horse calmly towards the palace, Krugar a killing whirlwind beside him. He turned his cowl towards Arkados and the king could sense, rather than see, the eager grin on his face.

    “ You shall die for this!” Arkados swore. “ By all that is unholy, I shall flay your soul from your corpse!” He broke off into a roar of rage as his anger consumed him. Always cool and composed, Arkados had never lost himself to his emotions before. Now, Shura would not have recognized his friend, so vivid his display of anger was.

    A high keening laughter rose above the din of the fighting and it was many moments before Arkados realized that the True Father was laughing.


    The Wave Jackal, along with Gryloas’s navy, pulled into the harbor later that day. The War-mistress Millene surveyed the devastation wrought upon her beloved capital and swore vehemently, a characteristic extremely atypical to an elf. But then again, she had been raised as a human, the adopted daughter of the War-Master Tchykosvy of the Central plains, a steadfast ally of the Blackmire clan.

    “ I shall hunt down the True Father and his minions.” Shura told her calmly. “ Take your warriors and get them to aid in the restoration of order within the capital.”

    “ You’re going alone?” Millene asked incredulously. Shura grinned at the elf’s worry. Sylurae stepped forward to stand beside the swordsman.

    “ Hardly alone.” He said. Millene’s eyes nearly bulged from their sockets but she did not disagree. Shura had discussed the woman’s fate with her already.

    “ Yes, hardly alone.” Feather chimed in, his resolve unwavering even as Millene and Shura turned their gazes upon him. “ You will need my blade, Shura.”

    “ This is madness!” Millene burst out. “ You would bring a fledgling and an enemy along as allies?” Feather frowned at the statement. Millene was very young for an elf, not even scraping half of his own century of life. “ Get the Blackguards and the Ravagers to aid you, Shura!”

    “ If the True Father has already breached the palace, the Blackguards and Ravagers are already embroiled in battle as we speak. We can expect no aid from them.” Shura reasoned. “ Your warriors are hardly a match for the Children of Travesty. They will only die needlessly if you send them.”

    Millene sighed and folded her arms in grudging resignation. She nodded and walked away, hollering orders to her officers. Shura turned towards the capital.

    “ You do not fear treachery?” Sylurae asked softly. “ I have not even said which side I will take when the fighting begins.” Feather directed a worried look at the Child of Travesty.

    “ No.” Shura answered. “ I care not for your allegiance. If you fight alongside your brethren, then we shall simply do battle again.” He began picking up his pace as he spoke. “ Keep up with me if you can! I have no intention of being slowed by either of you!”

    The swordsman broke out into a full-fledged run and Feather had to call upon all his speed and endurance to keep him within eyeshot. Sylurae kept pace with the swordsman easily, running alongside Shura with her gaze locked upon the palace.


    The last palace guard fell to Krugar’s axe and the True Father stood before the door that led to Arkados’s throne room. He pushed the door open, ignoring the crackle of sparks that flared as the arcane wards on it activated. Arkados was shoved unceremoniously inside to sprawl face-first before his throne made of black iron and the True Father turned to regard the rest of his Children, a motley yet deadly band that milled in the antechamber leading to the throne room.

    “ The moment of destiny is at hand, my children!” He announced. “ Soon, with the aid of your prodigal brother, I shall reunite you with your sires! Together, we shall bring about a reign of justice over every plane of existence!” Cheers arose from amongst the ranks of the Children. Fists and weapons were waved in the air and more than one face was dampened by tears of elation. The True Father inclined his head to address Krugar.

    “ I am not to be disturbed.” Krugar nodded at the instruction. When the True Father shut the door of the throne room behind him, the Blood Hound took up a guard position before it, his massive frame shielding the entire door from sight.

    Inside the throne room, Arkados managed to struggle to his feet. Inch by inch, the king hobbled to his throne. Exhaustion overtook him as he ascended the last of the steps up the pedestal that his throne was set upon and he collapsed at its base. The True Father looked impassively at his efforts, his arms folded. The sight drove a point of anger into Arkados’s heart and with a final surge of strength, the king threw himself upon his throne.

    A black radiance filled his eyes as the power of Gathra Deuas flowed into him. With an almost casual flex of his arms, the king shattered the enchanted chains that had bound him for so long. The return of his power after such a long absence filled Arkados with a sense of exhilaration. Deep, cruel laughter spilled from his lips as he reveled in his returned might. With a thought, the deformed claw that passed for his left hand was sheathed in his enchanted gauntlet of Chaos-Steel and his fell sword, the First Blackmire blade, appeared in his right hand. His tattered clothing burned away, to be replaced by a suit of perfectly crafted plate-mail in the darkest hue of ebony. Bat-like wings sprouted from his back, lifting him into the air and Arkados looked down upon his tormentor, his eyes filled with wrath.

    “ Know despair, puny angel!” The sheer power in Arkados’s voice rocked the foundations of his palace. The True Father did not reply, he simply raised his arms and started a low chant. Arkados was not slow to react. Pointing his sword at the True Father, he called forth a stream of corrosive energy. The True Father halted his spell casting momentarily and swatted the attack aside with the back of his hand as if it was a minor nuisance. Arkados’s strike veered off into a corner of his throne room and seared through the walls cleanly.

    With a final, resounding syllable, the True Father completed his spell and Arkados’s throne shattered into a thousand pieces. The flying shards of steel that ensued from the explosion bounced off the arcane shield that Arkados called hastily into existence.

    “ Your power is no longer localized.” The True Father announced. “ But neither is it yours to control.” He pointed to the tiles at his feet and to Arkados’s horror, the king found himself gliding softly there to stand before the True Father.

    “ I shall destroy you!” Arkados cried, reaching for his infernal strength but finding it out of reach. The power raged within him, but he simply could not direct it without the True Father’s approval. With a scream of defiance, he brought his sword around in a slashing blow directed at the True Father’s neck. The True Father sent him crashing to the floor with a mere nudge of his will. He brought his hand up, with his palm facing the ceiling and Arkados was picked up and set upon his feet. He glared at the True Father with a sense of hopeless despair.

    The True Father peeled his cowl back and the golden radiance spilling from within nearly blinded Arkados as the fallen angel revealed his true visage. He had the perfectly symmetrical face of a beautiful male youth framed by a head of flowing blue hair. His skin was the hue of polished gold, like his eyes. His dark robes faded away to reveal the celestial mail that he wore underneath. The gleaming light blue tint to his heavenly armor was dazzling, but to anyone who took a closer look, the armor bore the slightest hint of tarnish, an almost imperceptible smudge of imperfection. A huge, two-handed flaming sword with a hilt that gleamed of the purest silver materialized in the True Father’s right fist and he brought it to his eyes, as if gazing upon something that he had not seen for a long time.

    “ Once, I was known as Solaris, the Sun Guardian. The Heavenly Host would flock to hear me sing.” He mused, a wistful look in his golden eyes as he ran his gaze up and down the length of his sword. “ Flowers would bloom where my steps fell and the sky would smile at my delight or weep at my despair.” His beautiful face suddenly contorted into a grimace of insane rage, made all the more horrible by the contrast with his radiant countenance.

    “ Now I am unnamed! My deeds in the name of the Heavenly Lord forgotten!” The True Father shrieked, his voice terrible and lovely at the same time. “ I shall have my vengeance! The battlements of Heaven shall be slick with the spilled blood of angels and I shall wreath the Heavenly Lord’s corpse in the excrement of demons! VENGEANCE!” His final word was screamed with such force that Arkados reeled from it, his vision swimming. The True Father, once known as the Archangel Solaris, lowered his gaze upon Arkados’s cowering frame and his expression of rage was instantly gone, replaced by a mild smile that was a thousand times more sinister than his insane snarl. He produced a scroll and unfurled it.

    “ And you, Arkados Blackmire, shall aid me in the casting of the Tri-gate spell.” Solaris said softly.


    Shura ran down the corridors of the palace, reaching out with his mind in a bid to detect Arkados’s presence. Sylurae, running beside him, sensed his intentions and set her much greater mental prowess to the same efforts.

    “ The fourth floor, up that stairwell and about a hundred feet down a corridor thickly carpeted in red. There is a green vase set upon a stone pedestal.” She said. Shura cast her a sideways glance but he did not doubt her word.

    “ The throne room.” He confirmed. Without a further word, he veered off into the direction that would take him to his friend. Feather pursued doggedly behind, his breath coming in ragged gasps, but Shura would not slow his pace for the elf, and he knew it. He pushed his fatigue to the back of his mind with a grimace of resolve.

    Shura and Sylurae halted abruptly, to the elf’s relief until he noted their grim expressions. Gasping for breath, he could only direct curious looks at the two of them, hoping they would enlighten him about their current predicament.

    “ Evil and decay.” Sylurae announced. Shura nodded, drawing his swords and casting his gaze to and fro in the sudden oppressive dimness of the palace corridors.

    “ I know the source.” The swordsman said, a look of hatred coming over his face. He bellowed at the top of his voice. “ Show yourself, Katherine!”

    The corridor was abruptly plunged into utter darkness and Feather had to smother a yelp of panic. As an elf, he had near perfect vision in darkness but nothing could prepare him for the pale-faced creature that emerged from the shadows, a gleaming blade in each hand and a pair of canine fangs protruding from a grinning maw. His fingers convulsing in terror, Feather still managed to draw the straight sword from his back and execute a basic parry from the creature’s crossing slashes at his throat.

    With her mind’s eye, Sylurae had no need for light to guide her movements. Another vampire armed with an axe swiped at her head but the Child of Travesty flipped herself backwards, avoiding the blow. She tore her whip from her belt and with a single lash, cut the creature in half at the waist.

    Three vampires attacked Shura simultaneously. In the darkness, with his eyes closed, the swordsman avoided the sweep of an iron claw, lifted a foot over the low cut of a sword and pivoted on his heel to allow a jabbing short-spear to punch past harmlessly. His raised foot snapped into the head of one of his assailants, sending the creature tumbling and the corridor was suddenly illuminated by the blue flame that ran down the length of his blades. His katana cleaved a vampire from shoulder to hip and his wakizashi sliced off another vampire’s head. The two unfortunate creatures crumbled into dust as the swordsman drew back his swords into a guard position. His last opponent, stunned by the ease with which his companions were dispatched, tried to bring his spear to bear but a black katana tore into his skull. With a flick of his wrist, Shura batted the vampire’s spear with deadly accuracy towards Feather’s opponent. The enchanted weapon tore into the creature’s heart and it fell apart in a shower of ash before the stunned elf’s eyes.

    “ That weapon will not hurt them unless you can focus your ki into it or infuse it with mental power like me.” Shura informed Feather. There was a wry look that hinted of approval upon his face as he pointed at the hilt of Whispering Edge jutting from his hip. “ Use that, Yagyu.” The wakizashi with the Yagyu family crest that adorned its hilt complemented Kuroi’s sword perfectly. Feather nodded numbly, his mouth too dry to speak.

    “ You dare come to this place?” A female voice emerged from the darkness. Sylurae snapped her gaze to the speaker as she walked into eyeshot. The aura of evil that rolled of the leather-clad vampire was almost stifling to the mentally enhanced senses of the woman.

    “ Much as I would love to settle our differences, Katherine, now is not the time.” Shura said briskly. “ Let us pass if you will not aid us. We go to your brother’s rescue.”

    “ I know of the True Father and his plans.” Katherine replied, a grin spreading across her lovely face. “ And I do not disapprove of his vision.” Swiftly, she explained the fallen angel’s agenda and Feather nearly reeled from the sheer madness of it. Sylurae stifled a hiss of impatience. Shura’s expression did not change.

    “ Chaos and utter destruction!” The vampire cried, throwing her arms wide. “ I shall be free to create my own empire of blood! I shall become an Empress, a devourer of souls and blood!”

    “ You do not want this.” Shura said, his words addressed to Sylurae. She cast the swordsman a curious glance but his cold, grim features imparted nothing. Despite herself, Sylurae inclined her head in a slight nod of agreement, finally winning the war of indecision that raged in her heart. Upon her nod, Shura raised his swords into a battle stance and squared off against Katherine. The vampire bared her fangs in a feral leer of delight and drew her short swords, one of them a burning red and the other the hue of frost. These were the Second and Third Blackmire Blades, Frost Spike and Flame Nail and Shura had seen countless warriors fall to them, wielded by Katherine.

    “ Then go!” The swordsman bellowed, gliding towards Katherine with his blades leading the way. “ Go now!” The black katana rang against Flame Nail, sending a shower of scorching sparks onto the corridor walls and the vampire’s sudden jab with Frost Spike was turned aside by Shura’s white wakizashi. Their blades locked, Shura forced them high, using his momentum and entire body weight to counter Katherine’s vastly superior strength and cut down abruptly, in a crossing motion. The vampire reacted with a perfect counter, bringing her weapons down together with Shura. With her unholy strength, she pinned Shura’s swords to the floor and snapped her head forward, fangs flashing for the swordsman’s throat.

    Releasing his swords, Shura rammed his left elbow under Katherine’s chin and seized her collar with his other hand. He jerked himself backwards in a sideways roll, using the vampire’s momentum against her and threw her over his shoulder. Katherine twisted in midair and landed on her feet as Shura snapped his swords back into his grasp. Casting a glance over his shoulder, Shura saw Sylurae’s fast fading form as she ran off towards the throne room. A snarl of frustration escaped the vampire as she realized that Shura had deliberately maneuvered their positions so that he now stood between her and the Child of Travesty.

    “ Follow her, Yagyu.” Shura instructed Feather. “ You have no place in this battle.” The elf, his face slick with sweat and pale with fear, nodded hurriedly and dashed off after Sylurae, leaving the swordsman alone with Katherine. A grim smile found its way onto Shura’s face as Feather ran out of eyeshot.

    “ Time after time…” Katherine said, advancing cautiously. “ How many times have we fought, Shura? How many times have our battles been left undecided?”

    “ Too many.” Shura replied. Katherine grinned in agreement.

    “ Exactly.” Both vampire and swordsman struck together.
  14. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone

    Sep 14, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Wow, I think the begining of Katherine and Shura's last fight was better and I still think it should have ended there. And If one of them doesn't die soon I will be mightily PO'd
  15. The Kilted Crusader

    The Kilted Crusader The Famous Last words "Hey guys, watch THIS!" Veteran

    Sep 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] Utterly amazing! I can't wait to see this next fight! :)
  16. Dalveen

    Dalveen Rimmer gone Bald Veteran

    Oct 11, 2002
    Likes Received:
    your too good shura, never mind this fight imagine the fight with the true father
  17. Shura Gems: 25/31
    Latest gem: Moonbar

    Aug 9, 2000
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] Ok, here's the next part. Do note that I did this in a less than optimal state of mind. I would have rewrote it, but I felt that maybe some criticism from you folks would help. Perhaps I shall edit this post at a later date, when I feel slightly better.



    The Tri-gate scroll hung in mid-air, frozen in place by Solaris’s will. The former archangel chanted the required words of the spell and his hands flashed in the complex gestures of sorcery. To his chagrin, Arkados found himself mirroring Solaris’s movements and speech, word for word and gesture for gesture.

    Arkados snarled and tried in vain to wrest his infernal might from Solaris’s yoke to no avail. The air before the former archangel turned a deep blue and a crackling sound filled the throne room as the conflicting energies of both Solaris and Arkados tore a rift in reality, the first step in the creation of an inter-planar gate. The rift grew and despair fell over Arkados’s heart as a waft of foul, scorching air blew into the throne room. A gate to the infernal planes had been opened.

    Solaris threw his head back in triumph and his spell-casting rose in tempo. Arkados’s strength drained from his body as the casting ensued and he would have collapsed if not for the vice-like clamp that Solaris had over his mind and body. Through increasingly heavy eyelids, the king of Gryloas saw countless gibbering forms of madness and foulness converge at the mouth of the gateway. They were minor fiends, little more than scavengers upon the infernal planes, yet the damage they could do if allowed to pour unchecked into the material plane was incalculable.

    The former archangel had little patience for them. His flaming sword swept in, wielded by his will alone and wreaked terrible carnage upon their gibbering ranks.

    “ I seek the Lords of Hell!” Solaris spoke his desires into the gate, trusting to the chaotic winds of the infernal plane to carry and convey his wishes.


    Sylurae flung the doors of the antechamber open and found her brethren awaiting her. More than one of them regarded her with surprise, for they had thought her taken by the forces of Gryloas in the siege of Terun. Krugar gaped at the green-skinned woman incredulously.

    “ We thought you were dead!” He exclaimed. Sylurae waved his questions aside impatiently and strode towards the door that led to the throne room. Krugar barred her way.

    “ I need to speak with Father.” She said. Krugar shook his head, his shaggy mane of filthy hair tossing this way and that.

    “ No one disturbs him.” The Blood Hound explained. Sylurae tried to slip past him but she was seized by a massive hand and flung backwards to land heavily upon the floor. She snarled in pain and anger and leapt to her feet, her whip coming into her hand. All around them, the rest of the Children looked at each other with consternation, unsure if they should interfere in a fight between two of their brethren.

    “ Let me pass!” Sylurae demanded. A leering grin spread slowly over Krugar’s face and he raised his axe in readiness for battle.

    “ No.” The Blood Hound delivered his final stand upon the matter. An arrow streaked through the air and bounced off Krugar’s hard skin. The projectile caught his attention, though.

    Feather held his bow before him, another arrow readied as he stood at the entrance of the antechamber. The rest of the Children turned to face this new menace, for they had no qualms about battling an outsider.

    “ Hold!” Krugar bellowed. He pointed at Feather with his axe. “ Leave these two to me!” Sylurae cast a look of worry at the elf. He was almost assuredly dead, for there was no way he was a match for the likes of Krugar, or any of the Children of Travesty for that matter. Feather let fly another arrow and this time the shaft skipped along the side of Krugar’s face, brushing dangerously close to his eye. The Blood Hound roared in anger.

    “ Come get me if you want to play, big oaf!” Feather taunted him, putting yet another arrow to his bow and firing it. It cracked into Krugar’s shoulder, with no effect whatsoever. Krugar roared once more and charged forwards, swinging his axe wildly over his head. Feather looked past the Blood Hound and caught Sylurae’s eye.

    “ Go!” He implored silently, hoping that the woman could pick up his thoughts. To his relief, Sylurae ran for the now unguarded door and was through it before any of the other Children could stop her.

    Feather looked at half a ton of muscle barreling towards him and thought about Oal, praying silently for any deity to watch over her. He dropped his bow and seized Whispering Edge.


    Their blades clashed again and again as the swordsman and vampire battled. Katherine was at a distinct advantage with her unholy strength and speed. She forced Shura back a step at a time, every blow sending the swordsman reeling from its sheer force despite his perfect parries.

    As they fought, Shura felt a welling rage within him. His temporary respite from the path of Slaughter was fading swiftly as he recalled the techniques of the Three Spheres. The red haze began to descend upon his consciousness once more and he felt a grin pulling at the corners of his face. Flame Nail tore a burning gash across his ribs and Frost Spike sliced off the top part of his left ear, leaving the wound covered in ice but the pain hardly registered to the swordsman. His fervor increased and Katherine’s advantage was soon stolen as Shura matched her strength and speed in the throes of his battle rage.

    “ What…what is this?” The vampire cried as Shura’s katana smashed aside Flame Nail with such force that her fingers were torn from their sockets with the impact. Katherine hurriedly rammed the pommel of Frost Spike into the swordsman’s face, sending him staggering. Before she could follow up her attack, Shura reversed the grip on his wakizashi and brought it over his shoulder in a downward thrust. Blue flame flared upon the curved blade as it connected, driving deep into Katherine’s back and forcing the vampire to her knees. The vampire shrieked in agony and threw herself backwards, scrabbling desperately to escape Shura’s blades. The black katana cleaved into the tiles she laid on a fraction of a second after she vacated them. Shura snapped his gaze downwards and Katherine flinched at the madness that gleamed in his eyes.

    “ This…is Death!” He cackled, advancing with both blades held high. Weaponless, Katherine had to conclude that she was the loser in this duel. Calling upon her dark gifts as a vampire, she willed her body into mist. Snarling, Shura cut into the dark mist that Katherine had become viciously, to no effect. Part of the mist reformed into the vampire’s sneering visage.

    “ Only human, Shura!” She taunted. “ I shall have your head on a pike one day!” Katana and wakizashi clanged to the floor as a sudden idea came to the swordsman. Reaching into a pocket of his cloak, Shura withdrew the Flesh Coil and slipped it upon the middle finger of his left hand. Instantly, he felt his wounds healing. Katherine’s sneer became a look of incomprehension.

    “ What are you doing, fool?” She demanded. Wordlessly, Shura reached for the sword strapped to his back. Energy crackled and tore into his arm as he drew Syn Vinac but he was beyond pain. Katherine recognized the nature of Shura’s new weapon and she hurriedly tried to make her escape but the swordsman’s strike was far swifter than the movement of a cloud of drifting mist. The paladin’s sword gashed Katherine’s face, burning out one eye and scorching one side of her face. Katherine shrieked in agony and drifted away.

    Shura laughed, his voice full of hate and sadism and he moved to pursue and strike again at his fleeing nemesis but the agony imparted by Syn Vinac penetrated the red haze over his mind.

    “ Arkados…” He murmured, the words sounding thick and strange on his tongue as he stared at the hilt of Syn Vinac. The flesh on the arm holding the sword was being burnt away, then regenerated for the process to begin anew. He sheathed it, and then retrieved his weapons.

    Shura’s insane laughter echoed off the stone corridors of the palace as he ran towards the throne room, katana and wakizashi trailing on the floor, leaving a trail of sparks in his wake.


    Krugar’s axe crashed into the floor, sending shards of stone into the air, many of them gashing Feather’s arms and body. The elf shielded his face desperately so as not to lose his sight. Whispering Edge parried most of the larger shards and the elf had to dive aside again as Krugar swept his weapon in a horizontal arc.

    Pushing up from his belly, Feather kicked off into an acrobatic flip over the massive Blood Hound’s head and swung Whispering Edge in a desperate attack.. The enchanted weapon nicked the Blood Hound’s thick neck and he snarled, more in anger than in pain. Krugar swung his fist, catching Feather in midair and sending the elf into a painful, crashing skid across the floor.

    “ Puny bug!” Krugar snarled. He advanced upon Feather’s gasping form with his axe raised above his head. “ There shall be little left of you besides a red smear!” Feather gritted his teeth and surged to his feet, just as Krugar swept his axe down. Whispering Edge met the massive axe and for a moment, it seemed as if the fine elven blade would be shattered. The katana slid along the axe blade, then pirouetted so that it’s tip dragged along the flat of the axe. His thoughts in a jumble, Feather pulled Whispering Edge down in a sweeping cut, stealing the force of Krugar’s blow and sending the huge weapon crashing into the stone beside him.

    The Blood Hound’s eyes widened in surprise for he recognized such a move. Feather was no less stunned as he realized what he just did.

    “ You’re with the filthy assassin!” Krugar roared, dislodging his axe and sending it into a horizontal sweep to cut Feather into half. The elf brought his blade into an arc similar to Krugar’s axe and the minimal contact between the two weapons was enough to redirect the blow so that it swept harmlessly past him. Krugar was thrown off balance by his wild swipe and the weight of his axe sent him staggering. The huge warrior bellowed again, but this time, there was more fear in his voice than ire, for deep in his vile, twisted heart, he feared Shura’s blades and had awakened screaming from many a nightmare in which the swordsman had cut him into pieces.

    Wordlessly, the elf charged forwards, Whispering Edge held before him. With his natural agility, Feather moved like quicksilver, leaping onto Krugar’s bent knee and kicking off before the Blood Hound could register the movement. He aimed a blow at Krugar’s jugular, intent on ending the battle quickly but the Blood Hound had been bred and raised in a battlefield. Acting purely on instinct, his single free hand made a wild grab that seized the back of Feather’s long coat, preventing the elf from striking home. With a quick yank, Krugar had Feather held at arm’s length, dangling more than three feet from the floor. He brought back his axe for a final swipe, a grin of delight forming upon his bestial face. With his much shorter weapon, Feather could not hope to strike back.


    Sylurae stepped into a scene of swirling chaos as the door to the throne room slammed shut behind her. Arkados’s knees sagged limply and it was painfully obvious that he held his spell-casting post only by the True Father’s will. The True Father’s radiant visage filled her with awe and for many moments, she could do nothing but stare upon him, her eyes filled with worship.

    Rivulets of sweat ran down Arkados’s face as the spell casting continued. The sires of the Children heard the call of Solaris and their demonic presences began to register in Arkados’s mind. Their shadowy and indistinct forms converged upon the planar gateway.

    “ Has the time come, Angel?” A demon lord spoke; it’s voice sounding like a thousand gurgling bubbles rising from a fetid swamp.

    “ Yes, it has. Step through and I shall lead you to a great victory over the shining walls that you despise so much!” Solaris declared, his arms spread wide and a look of triumph upon his face.

    “ You do not lead us, Angel. Remember that.” Another demon lord reminded him. “ We can not manifest ourselves upon the material plane for long, for we have not been invited by a mortal and we can not pass through any gate leading to the celestial planes because of the divine wards present.”

    “ Consume the fruit of your seed and you shall be permanently attuned to the material plane. From that point on, the divine wards will not be applicable to you.” The former Archangel explained. Through the distorted, warping surface of the gateway, Arkados could sense the eager delight of the demon lords.

    “ You seem to have everything planned, Angel.” A demon lord congratulated him. Solaris smiled and executed a polite bow to the grotesque creature. “ Today we shall drink deep of celestial blood.”

    “ And the Heavenly Lord shall be cast down and drowned in a pile of excrement with his son!” Solaris added. Along the ranks of the demon lords, chuckles of hate rose as they thought about their despised foe.

    “ Allow me to bring you through then, gentlemen.” Solaris raised his hands and resumed the spell. Arkados was pulled along into the casting, his hands jerking painfully in the complicated motions. The arcane words were torn from his lips and his consciousness started to fade.

    The walls of the throne room became an indistinct vortex of swirling blue as reality melded to Solaris’s will.


    Releasing Whispering Edge and throwing his arms out behind him, Feather slipped out of his long coat, leaving Krugar holding the empty garment, a befuddled expression on his face.

    Whispering Edge bounced once on the hard floor before Feather snatched it up in his hands. Krugar realized his dire predicament and swung his axe in a horizontal arc, angling the blade low so that Feather would be unable to duck beneath it. The elf kicked off the floor and cut down with Whispering Edge. A flash of blue light ran down the blade’s length and there was a low humming sound, akin to that of a soft breeze through hollowed bamboo as it made contact with Krugar’s axe. Whispering Edge sheared through the blade of the massive weapon cleanly and the axe head, still carrying the momentum imparted by Krugar’s mighty arms, spun end over end and embedded itself into the ceiling.

    The Blood Hound stared at the remains of his weapon in consternation as his dull brain tried in vain to digest the latest turn of events. Feather did not miss the opportunity. Whispering Edge flashed and a gout of blood arose from the thin wound the elf gashed across the crook of Krugar’s elbow. The Blood Hound roared in pain and dropped his ruined axe. He tried to pick up the pole again, seeking to use it as a massive club but there was no strength to be found in his right arm: the tendon had been cleanly severed.

    Feather stood before the crouching Blood Hound, their eyes level, such was the difference in their build. There was a look of sudden comprehension upon the elf’s face. For a moment, he was oblivious to his opponent’s snarling visage before him.

    “ As one with everything, Harmony is all and nothing.” He muttered softly, under his breath. “ The battlefield is within my grasp and the outcome is mine to determine.” Krugar pulled back his left hand and the dull brass bracelet upon his wrist flashed, bringing forth a set of claws enchanted for invisibility. He took one step towards the elf and Feather brought up a raised palm in warning.

    “ Do not take another step if you value your life.” The elf said, a faraway look in his unfocused eyes. Krugar snorted in anger and came forward anyway, his clawed hand poised to strike. The broken axe blade embedded in the ceiling came loose and with a cracking sound of awful finality, buried itself into the back of Krugar’s head. The Blood Hound gasped as blood began to fill his vision and he sank slowly to his knees, unable to believe that he had become a victim of an utterly unbelievable coincidence.

    “ Coincidence?” Feather answered the dying Blood Hound’s unspoken question. “ No. I warned you, you see.” With a final, incoherent grunt, Krugar fell on his face and a pool of blood began to spread around his huge frame. The rest of the Children gaped in disbelief at Krugar’s death. He had been the mightiest warrior among the number, except for Carnexos. They fingered their weapons nervously but not a single one of them dared to challenge the solitary elf standing before them. An aura of calm and surety rolled off Feather’s presence, damping any thoughts of violence in the antechamber.

    “ End this madness, now.” The elf beseeched them. “ Have you not caused enough pain and death over the months? How much more suffering must you oversee, how much more blood must be spilled before you are satisfied?”

    “ You can not possibly know of what we have endured, elf!” A Child of Travesty barked. She was a brown haired woman clad in chain-mail with a hooked halberd in her hands. “ Scorned and feared by everyone we met, hunted and tormented by hunters of the Church, we have known no love and no joy in our lives! Our only refuge was in battle, where we crushed those weaker than us beneath our heels and earned their respect and fear! Today is the day we claim our destiny, the day that justice will finally befall this wretched and evil world!”

    “ It is difficult to align your course with justice when the sight of the ravaged corpses of all the women and children left in your wake are still fresh in my mind.” The elf said.

    “ They have been our tormentors for years!” The Child of Travesty screamed. “ We have merely exacted rightful retribution upon them!”

    “ I see.” Feather brought Whispering Edge up in both hands, assuming a battle stance and started walking forward. “ Then I must thwart your plans.” The Children raised their weapons and called their spells to mind as the elf approached but none of them were eager to strike first. Many pairs of pensive eyes glared at the elf, indecision flickering within them. Only the most twisted and evil being was capable of bearing murderous intent towards one within Harmony and as Feather swept his gaze around, he realized that he was merely regarding a group of frightened, insecure children. Deadly and murderous they might be, but children nonetheless.

    A startled shout broke the tension in the room, escalating the atmosphere to one of panic as the walls of the antechamber began fading away into a blue, swirling vortex. Solaris had drawn all those present in the antechamber and the throne room into a transitional plane between the gateways, reuniting the Children of Travesty with their sires. A huge demon lord bared his fanged maw, his eyes locking upon the brown haired woman who had spoken out against Feather. He recognized the one who bore his blood and his green tongue flashed out from his mouth to tear her head from her shoulders. The demon lord swallowed the gory morsel and a look of wonder came upon his hideous face. He turned to regard his peers.

    “ I am no longer bound to the Infernal planes!” He declared, spreading his arms out wide in triumph. The rest of the demon lords roared and hooted and as one, they began to converge upon their terrified offspring, their jaws slavering. Solaris ceased his spell casting and turned to regard the Children of Travesty.

    “ Fear not, my children! This is how you will aid me in bringing justice to the world!” He announced. “ Your role is done!” A chorus of wails and moans arose from the Children of Travesty as they realized the depth of Solaris’s betrayal.

    Sylurae sank to her knees, her will utterly shattered. She did not look up at the demon lord towering over her, a monstrous abomination with claws for hands and an oversized cranium, which housed but a single eye and a fang filled maw. Her sire reached down for her and a sword, burning with black flame, struck it off, causing the demon lord to stagger back, flailing the stump of his wound in agony.

    Solaris looked on with rueful amusement at Arkados’s efforts. The king stood before Sylurae, shielding her from her sire and the First Blackmire Blade lanced itself again and again into the demon lord’s chest. Finally, Sylurae’s sire fell back, clutching the numerous wounds upon his body and regarding Arkados with a baleful glare of hatred.

    Arkados turned and he grasped Sylurae’s shoulders and began shaking her in an attempt to snap her back to reality. The woman turned a tear-filled gaze towards him and the corners of her mouth quirked up into a trembling smile.

    “ What was it all for, Arkados?” She asked, her voice weak and barely coherent. “ There is no justice, no hope and no love in this world and no one can change that fact.” Arkados pulled her in close and hugged her tightly.

    “ That’s not true.” He whispered into her ear. Sylurae’s sire stalked forward again but Arkados did not bother to face him. He pointed his gauntleted hand at the demon lord and wreathed it in flame. Sylurae’s sire trashed about, shrieking in agony until he finally tumbled through the planar gateway and back into the Infernal planes.

    “ Whatever the circumstances, there is always hope.” Feather’s calm voice cut through the din like a cold dose of sobering water. The elf stood between the Children of Travesty and the throng of demon lords, Whispering Edge held high. “ You shall not enter the mortal world.” A crackling rift appeared behind the Children of Travesty and a sword, burning with a fiery, golden radiance appeared through it, followed by a half-gloved hand. Shura’s dark form materialized within the swirling vortex of sub-reality that Solaris had created. Syn Vinac scorched and burned his right hand but the paladin’s sword was bane against the power of fallen angels.

    The swordsman’s mad gaze fell upon Solaris and he instantly recognized him. A twisted grin appeared on Shura’s face and he began walking forwards, the ranks of the Children parting for him.

    “ Time to die, celestial scum!” He spat, utterly disregarding the throng of demon lords standing between him and the former archangel. A demon lord raised a massive foot to stomp the impertinent human out of existence but the swordsman leapt up and rammed Syn Vinac into his chest. With a wail of horror, the demon lord started disintegrating as he realized the true nature of the swordsman’s weapon. The rest of the demon lords fell back from him, muttering anxiously amongst themselves, for they thought that they faced a paladin, a foe they were reluctant to confront with much of their power still tied to their native plane.

    The lone demon lord that had consumed his offspring rushed forwards, cackling in glee at the prospect of killing a paladin but a blast of hellfire from Arkados’s gauntlet caught him in mid-step. Tied to the material plane, the demon lord could not take refuge by fleeing back to his home. He writhed and trashed in agony while Shura hacked at him repeatedly with Syn Vinac, laughing insanely all the while. Eventually, the demon lord perished and Arkados’s hellfire went out. The swordsman ground the demon lord’s blackened skull beneath a foot and snapped his attention back to Solaris once more.

    Feather cast a glance backwards and noticed that the rift opened by Shura’s sword was still there. He gestured to the Children of Travesty and bellowed for them to flee through it. One after another, they shook off the spell of terror that gripped them and ducked through the narrow gash in reality. The demon lords roared as they watched their passes to the material plane slip out of their reach and they surged forward, only to halt hesitatingly when they neared Shura’s slowly advancing form, Syn Vinac burning in his hand. They recognized a weapon capable of their ultimate destruction.

    “ You have interfered long enough, worm!” Solaris shrieked as he saw his plans falling apart. The former archangel raised his hands and a column of flame roared forth, only to be directed towards Syn Vinac’s burning blade and neutralized within the sword’s fiery radiance.

    Shura dropped his haunches and broke into a full run, charging straight for Solaris, his face twisted with wrath. The former archangel’s fiery sword swept in from nowhere to defend its owner and Shura had to leap to the side frantically to avoid being cleaved into half as the blade cut through the air.

    “ Not good enough, celestial scum, not good enough!” The swordsman taunted, gliding under another of the fiery sword’s swipes and coming to stand before the former archangel, Shura glaring up into Solaris’s perfect face less than a foot away from his own. Before the stunned angel could react, Shura dropped his shoulder and leapt into a tackle, knocking Solaris into the gateway he had conjured to the Infernal plane. The swordsman’s flying form disappeared into the gate a moment after Solaris tumbled through.

    Arkados cried out in horror at the sight and releasing Sylurae, he rushed to the swirling gateway. With Solaris no longer upon this plane, the arcane power that held the gate open no longer existed. The blue, shimmering walls of the former archangel’s transient reality began to fade and warp back into the stone walls and ceilings of his throne room. The remaining demon lords spouted a thousand foul curses as they began to feel the pull of their native plane. One by one, they departed back to their respective domains within the Infernal planes.

    “ What have you done, fool?” Arkados muttered to himself, his features stricken with anxiety. Calling upon the wisdom of Gathra Deuas, he held the shifting gate open but there was not a glimpse of Shura within the chaotic swirl within the gateway.

    “ Not like this!” The king snarled, his efforts becoming increasingly frantic as the moments wore by and no sign of his friend emerged. “ Not like this! You were never meant for such a fate! NO!” His denial went unheeded by the whims of fate, cruel and fickle creatures that knew neither remorse nor pity.


    Syn Vinac burned in Shura’s hand, the searing agony wracking the very core of his being, for the paladin’s sword did not only punish an unworthy wielder physically, it tore at his soul as well. Locking his glare onto the visage of his hated foe falling through the inter-planar tunnels that bound each and every reality, the swordsman pushed his pain to the back of his consciousness, burying it under the red haze of the path of Slaughter. As their tumbling forms neared, Shura struck out with Syn Vinac and the former archangel caught the blade in his hand, wincing in agony too, as the paladin’s sword burnt him.

    “ Your foul blade interferes with the magic of the gateway I have created!” Solaris shouted. “ Fling it away lest we both be banished to limbo!”

    “ Join me in hell, celestial scum!” Shura spat in response. He seized Syn Vinac in a two-handed grip and tried to angle the sword so that he could slide it through the former archangel’s throat. Solaris grappled desperately, his ancient and powerful mind blank with terror as he realized the finality of the threat the paladin’s sword posed to him.

    There was a sudden rush of foul, fetid air and the two found themselves suspended in mid-air, amongst reddish clouds. The ground, a distance of several hundred feet below them, was an evil and oily black. Gouts of flame burst forth from cracks between the dark stone. Solaris studied the area, a look of terror growing upon his face as the truth of their location dawned upon him.

    “ Come home, celestial scum?” Shura snarled. Solaris released his death-grip on Syn Vinac and flung the swordsman from him. A pair of silver, feathery wings sprouted from his back and they bore the former archangel away. Shura screamed in impotent defiance as he fell, his black cloak making him an indistinguishable blur against the dark landscape.

    The fall was long, but it was finite. The swordsman’s body crashed into the stone, forming a small crater in which his ruined and pulped remains were housed.
  18. Gothmog

    Gothmog Man, a curious beast indeed! ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

    Jun 30, 2002
    Likes Received:
    [​IMG] This was a quick one :eek:
    I dont think you should change anything. Seems perfectly fine to me.
    Good as always ;)
  19. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
    Latest gem: Rogue Stone

    Sep 14, 2001
    Likes Received:
    When you gave us the warning I was thinking that this might be crap, but is fact, it is excelent. I think the Shure vs Katherine fight didn't go long enough.
  20. Dalveen

    Dalveen Rimmer gone Bald Veteran

    Oct 11, 2002
    Likes Received:
    i think Aikanaro is right, you didnt make the fight with kathrine long enough. but apart from that the stroy is brilliant
Sorcerer's Place is a project run entirely by fans and for fans. Maintaining Sorcerer's Place and a stable environment for all our hosted sites requires a substantial amount of our time and funds on a regular basis, so please consider supporting us to keep the site up & running smoothly. Thank you!

Sorcerers.net is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.