The streams of refugees seemed without end as each day, more and more made their ways to the entrance of a great canyon, setting up camps, waiting anxiously to go to the other side. There they rested, hungry, wounded, sick and scared, but at least they are safe, for garrisoning the fortress that guards the only safe passage through the mountain are the legions of warriors whose skills and prowess were beyond compared. And yet, there’s still unease, amidst the hundreds of campfires, torches and tents, refugees, human, elves and others, exchanged food, stories, warnings and comforts. No matter where they’re from, the stories were all the same, people went missing, only to found days later, mutilated, covered in corrupting black slimes, then the attacks came, Deep Ones and Dagonites swarmed in from the coastal regions while corrupted Dryads swept down from the forested mountains. Casualties were high, sometime entire settlements were razed to the ground, their inhabitants slaughtered to the last. Many didn’t believe the tales, not until the scouting parties returned, bearing news and statistics, along with whatever left of the settlements that didn’t show up.
From the one of the many levels ramparts carved into the vertical cliff, Kas looked down, violet eyes flickered in the dim torches as his long, black tail swayed in contemplation. It’s been many moons since he last seen this many people gathering at the gate, but fortunately the garrisons were prepared, rations were being distributed, his scouts have secured the nearest trade routes and foraging parties were sent out to supply the ever increasing numbers of refugees. But what could have caused such a wide scale attack?
– It’s getting a bit crowded here, isn’t it? – The question came from a girl with snowy white hair standing next to him, looking down at the growing refugee camps with concerned violet eyes.
– Yes. – Kas replied, his tone was a deep murmur, the garrisons were holding, but he didn’t know how long they can sustain this rate of food consumption. He turned to his companion, tapping the armored talon of his raptorial foot onto the cold hard rock. – So how have you been?
– I’m fine. – The girl looked up and smiled. – Trainings have been difficult lately though, and the siege is grinded to a stalemate.
– Without help from the World Ships or the Shadow City, the siege would continue to be like that. – Kas crossed his arms and sighed. – We need Him. We need his authority and command.
– Have you found any thing? – The girl asked nervously, anxiously.
– No. – Kas shook his head. – But don’t worry Meirin, he’ll be…
The sounds of panic screaming and frantic gunshots ripped across the night sky, causing a small panic amongst the refugee camps and alarming the sentries on the hastily built defense platforms and palisades. Meirin and Kas exchanged a look of concern, they recognized that scream and knew full well what it meant. The older male’s expression deepened into that of confidence for the girl’s capability, he nodded at her in approval and said:
– Go get them Wolf Pup.
Meirin nodded in return and leapt off the ramparts, hopping from firing platforms protruding from the cliff face one at a time. The girl touched the mossy ground, her dark fur cloak fluttered in the winds for but a moment before she dashes across the refugees, clutching in her hand is her trusted wheellock jezzail, its storm wheel reactor glowed dimly, leaving a trail of faint purple light as its master rushes pass the camps. Snatching the reign of a black horse, she led the animal through the path of beaten earth, passing the confused garrisons and refugees and out into the darkness of the wilderness outside of the camps.
Meirin held tight onto the beast’s neck, with one push of her leg, she launched herself on top the saddled horse and urged it to run faster. Hooves plowed into the cold dirt, uprooting patches of grass and moss as rider and beast charged across the moonlit tundra. From afar the white haired girl could hear the gunshots and screams getting louder and louder, along with the rumbling of giant legs stomping in the distance.
– Go faster! – A feminine voice cried, followed by the cracking of whips and even more gunshots.
– I’m going as fast as I can! – Another voice cried out in reply. – Keep firing!
– Taste some of my blyat you cyka blyat! You will ever have my potatoes!
– Hold on guys! I’m on my way! – Meirin yelled out, pushing her heels into the dark horse’s flank, urging it to run faster toward the sounds.
It wasn’t long before the young rider and her horse escaped the forest and into an opened grassland, with large boulders rising from the shimmering sea of grass like islands. And dashing amongst those islands only a couple of hundreds of meters from Meirin was a great wagon pulled by two mighty horses. There were two people on the wagon, a man in a deep red trench coat and a girl not that much older than the white haired girl, classed in gold-trimmed black plate armors.
– Come at me! – The man cried out, unleashing several shots from his revolver blunderbuss at the monstrous creature that was chasing them.
– Would you stop pissing it off already! – The girl bared her fangs, swinging her flaming whip to deflect the black tentacles that reached toward them, the five glowing orbs on the metal links attached to the whip exploding into screens of fire as they make contact with the creature’s unholy flesh. – We must lead it far away from the main trail!
– Sounds mightily contradicting there! – The blonde boy holding the reign at the front of the wagon remarked, whipping for the horses to go faster.
Meirin narrowed her violet eyes and leapt from the horse, rushing up the nearest boulder and set up her gun, aiming at the heart of the abomination. The monstrosity the size of a townhouse was nothing more than a mass of flesh and muscle, with neither heads nor eyes, yet it still surged toward the fleeing wagon as if it knows where they are. The entire body of the creature was like a moving tree, with branches of black tentacles swinging blindly yet purposely in the air and four great roots ending in hooves. Covering its glistening black hide were an uncountable number of gaping maws with human like teeth, gnashing and gnawing at thin air as if wanting to take a bite out of reality itself. From those mouths came the cries of a thousand goats, whining for food as it swings its tree trunk sized tentacle downward.
The white haired girl squinted her eyes in disgust, through the scope on her jezzail, the thing looked even more disgusting. Without hesitation, Meirin pulled the triggered, making the long barreled gun roar as it unleashes a bolt of violet light flying at incredible speed across the night sky toward the creature. The bolt of light slammed into the creature’s bulk, causing it to stumble, tentacles swirling blindly into the air, trying to catch the scent of its assailant.
Meirin smirked then pulled the trigger again, three more bolt rammed into the giant beast’s flank, exploding in a dazzle array of white and purple. Great hooves plowed into the ground, dark tendrils swung in frustration, an unearthly howl escaped the monster’s countless maws. The beast charged at the direction of the white haired girl, teeth gnashing at the faint scent of its prey, the earth shook with every step of its mighty legs. Against such horrid foes, the white haired girl seemed oddly calm, resting her elbow that was supporting the gun on her knee, her violet eyes gleamed coldly in the moonlight, aiming through the scope of her jezzail. Mumbling a quiet incantation, she tapped her finger on the spindle, causing the wheels on both sides of the guns to spin and emanate faint violet light. Then the twin dog-locks snapped backward, anchoring themselves on the pans on both sides of the jezzail, causing purple electric bolts crackle on both the spinning wheels and spindles, becoming more and more powerful as each second passes.
The monster was near, so near in fact that Meirin could feel its reality warping aura washing over her and hear the screams of a thousands sacrifices, for such is the nature of the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. Without even blinking, she pulled the trigger, the wheels which have been spinning so furiously suddenly stop in a chilling snap, causing the dog-locks to snap forward. The entire jezzail jolted upward with the white haired girl barely able to holding onto it, spitting out a sizzling violet lightning bolt snaking its way toward the monstrous creature.
The Dark Young opened it biggest front pointing mouth, swallowing the bolt of lightning whole. The missile rammed into the back of the beast’s throat, exploding it from the inside, stopping the charging beast on its track and even sending it rearing backward as the bolt rips a hole through the its body.
– Yush! – Meirin cheered quietly as she’s scored another one, eyes glistening with pride as the lifeless beast falls on its side, causing a small tremor that almost made her loose her balance.
– Great shot!
The compliment came from the approaching wagon, the two great horses neighed and reared their front legs before bringing them down, breathing heavily to catch their breaths. The blonde haired boy was the first to leap off the wagon, adjusting his sleeveless jacket partially covering the blue tank top underneath before marching toward the girl. Before long he was right in front of her, arms crossed and head tilted, looking at her with his different colored eyes, crimson red on the left and sapphire blue on the right.
– You shouldn’t be here. – He started with a disappointed and eerily calmed voice.
– I know… – Meirin mumbled, trying to come up with something to defend her disobedience.
She doesn’t like it when Ginji talk to her like that, despite being not that much taller or more muscular than her, his calmed voice was still enough to send shiver down her spines. How many times has she found herself in this situation? Scolded by her many caretakers, especially Ginji? Meirin couldn’t tell, the only thing that’s clear is that she hated every second of it, she hated how the older members of her mishmash family kept criticizing her for doing what she does. And yet, she just couldn’t stop, not since He left.
– Well? – Ginji tapped his foot and narrowed his eyes.
– Oh c’mon, children will be children, just let it pass! – The man in the trench coat approached, slender fingers scratching the short spiky ash blonde hair of his. – Beside we needed help bringing that thing down anyway.
– …We had everything under control, Jon. – Ginji sighed and pitched the ridge of his nose again.
– Oh sure! Sure! We had everything under control. – Jon chuckled, resting his hands on his hips as he turned to look at the dead beast. – Well, if you consider being chased around yelping like a bunch of wounded dogs as “had everything under control”, that is.
– To be fair, – The girl in black armored walked up to the trio, the plates classing her raptorial legs and long tail rattled as she does. – we were quite good at it.
– I know! Right?! – Jon’s mouth widened into an excited smile, causing his sharp fang-like canines to be exposed. – The cyka blyat did not succeed in getting to our potatoes!
– Enough with your dead jokes already. – Ginji scoffed annoyingly, he looked around, trying to find another member of the scouting party, there were four of them, but now there were only three. – Um…Jon, Mira? Where did Lucius go?
– Huh, odd. – Jon remarked, looking behind him. – Last I checked he was still…
– Watch out!
Meirin’s warning was followed by the sound of metal clashing as Jon’s rapier met with another pair of blood red long handled rapiers glowing dimly in the moonlight. The other parted, leaving their companion to deal with the lone attacker classed in light armor and shrouded by cape as dark as the night itself. The two combatants swung and thrust their blades, red hot Blood Steel sparked as they met, illuminating the emotionless faces of their wielder. Jon’s assailant was young, younger than the blonde man in his late twenties by at least a decade, with short, messy black hair and flaming gold eyes that contrast so drastically with the older male’s ash blonde hair and deep red eyes. Yet he was taller, raptorial legs tipped with lethal talons and the long black tail marked with golden marking propelled and balanced him with each of his attacks.
– Stop using the standard attacks! – Jon commanded, switching his rapier from one hand to another constantly to counter the attacks. – Use the unorthodox!
The younger combatant threw one of his rapiers upward, using his hands as support, he grabbed the sword midair with his talons and brought it down. Blocked. Immediately he thrust with the other one then spun his entire body, bringing the other rapier still clutched in his talons at Jon in a wide arch. The younger male switched positions constantly, shifting his rapiers from his hands to his feet and even using his long tail just as a scorpion would use its stinger, much to the awes of their observers.
– How often must I tell you? Control my central lines! – Jon’s voice grew impatient as he parries every attacks of the younger male, narrowly avoiding a combo of vicious blow. – Good. – He mewed, impressed by his assailant’s trickeries, yet still taunting him with a faint sense of mockery in his voice.
The younger male charged, his rapiers raised, readied to pierce into flesh, only to be deflected and almost loosing his balance. A split second was spared as he regains his balance, just in time to counter a vicious blow from Jon.
– Faster, destroy my focus! You’re holding your swords too tightly! – Jon smirked, knocking one of the rapiers out of his opponent’s hand and catching it with his freed hand. – Now too lightly. Hmm… – The older male glanced at the blade, noticing the newly added metal coin marked with a blood red rune on the collection of similar trinkets attached to the hilt and pummel. – A new one?
– Your training has served me well. – The younger male replied grimly, standing up right to his full height, he’s slim, yet still towering over his mentor. Lucius raised his other sword, the downward pointing hook-shaped hand guard and pummel were decorated with coins, bone plates and teeth, all marked with red, glowing runes. – It has awarded me many trophies.
– Ooh, the fearsome Lucius Xolotl is still collecting trinkets like his daddy? Aww how cute! – Ginji peeked his head from behind Jon’s back, twin colored eyes eyeing his friend’s collection.
– Zip it high elf. – Lucius snarled at the blonde boy, the stitches under his left eye twitching in irritation. – No one asked for your comments.
– Ooh, Daddy’s Boy is angry. – Meirin chimed in, hiding behind Ginji and smirking at the older male from a safe distance. – You shouldn’t be angry all the time, nephew.
– Why you little… I am not your nephew! – Lucius roared, bearing his fang-like teeth and raising his rapier, prepared to strike the annoying brats that have always been the bane of his patience.
– Enough with the teasing already! – Jon tilted his head backward whined dramatically, then turned his gaze to Lucius. – And Lucius, don’t let your pursuit of trinkets cloud your reality. Remember what I’ve taught you, Grand Inquisitor. -His voice shifted from the overly dramatic tone to that of a mentor lecturing his student as he eyed the younger man in front of him. – If you are to succeed in combat against the best of your enemies, you must have fear, surprise and intimidation on your side. For if even one element is lacking, it would be best for you to retreat. You must break them before you engage them, only then will you ensure victory…and have your trophies.
The older male handed the rapier to his pupil, who reached out his hand from under his cape to grab it, slender fingers classed in bladed gauntlets coiled around the handle and pulled it in close. The younger male eyed his trophies, golden eyes glared at the two children, causing them to recoil behind Jon.
– Wise council, my friend. – The hoarse voice came seemingly out of nowhere. – Most wise indeed.
– Father. – Immediately, Lucius fell to one knee, his head kept low at the direction where a humanoid figure made of pure darkness has manifested itself from thin air, from its abyssal bulk glowed two gleaming amber eyes.
– My Lord. – Jon bowed his head, smiling sarcastically to address his liege and long time friend.
– Report, Grand Inquisitor, what news from the front? – Not wanting to waste precious time, the figure turned to his son and commanded.
– The strategy is working perfectly, Father. – Lucius stood up to report, yet still keeping his head low. – The heretics and their forces are stretched thin across the supply lines far from the hive city, in a vain attempt to contain our new offensive.
– Good, good. – The shadowy figure nodded in approval, making Lucius smile a bit in pride. – Then now is the time to launch our final operation of the siege, now is the time to strike. Lucius my son, are you and your Inquisition readied for your special mission?
– Yes, Father. – Lucius lifted his head, eyes beaming with pride, admiration and sadistic pleasure as his father acknowledges him. – The unsuspecting fools know not what awaits them.