Jadis rushed forward as Shaddoc shouted his name, a wild half-grin on his face as he returned to the fray.
Azarael smiled contemptuously as Ethinine defended Arren, as Callysta rushed straight to Reveka, and as Shaddoc fired upon him the instant he entered. "You think this increases your chances?" he asked incredulously as, with a motion, he stopped Shaddoc's arrows. "Fools, you'll only die together."
He turned, just as something rammed into his side. Jadis smiled, his blade buried up to his hand in Azarael's side. "I've been waiting to do that," he said, smirking. "Idiot. This just means there are more of us for you to trip over. We're used to working as a team. But you're all on your lonesome."
--- --- ---
"Go! Now!" Demetrius yelled, hurling himself against Herath, Hand of Darkness from two centuries ago. Shrieking like a harpy she clawed at him, but with lightning speed he severed her hands down to the elbows. She screamed, stumbling back, and he pressed her as Nigal ran past, Erasmus on his heels.
"None of the shadows are leading a cloud," Erasmus reported as they ran. "We've cleared any shadow who was here from the beginning."
"What is the answer then?" Nigal hissed, running a shadow monster through before whipping its head off. Then he ducked as Erasmus hurled flames overhead, disintegrating fire different monsters. "What is the answer?"
Herath's partner, Amphia once of the Black Wings, leapt to her defense with a flaming spear. Demetrius dodged and danced around her, keeping Amphia between himself and Herath's seeking fangs, waiting for his opening. It came as, growing frustrated, she attempted a lunge to impale him. He turned just enough and went right through her throat. even then he kept pushing till it connected to Herath as well, impaling the two together. In an instant, they disappeared, as did the cloud of darkness overhead.
Emagene, tired and weary, instantly felt rejuvenated as the Darkness fled. She raised her eyes, wide as the beautiful blue sky was visible overhead. Lyorn walked up to her and wordlessly offered his hand. Smiling, she took it, revived physically and spiritually, ready to continue the fight.
--- --- ---
Reveka, Jadis and Arren suddenly began to glow, faint but it was a present shimmer. Jadis found a new lightness in his step as he danced away from Azarael. "We're stronger!" he laughed, almost like a little kid.
"Thanks for stating the obvious," Arren retorted, but without bitterness. He could feel power in his hands, as well as his mind, and now had an inkling of the even deeper powers he had to draw on. Excited in his own way, he came at Azarael who was dodging Jadis' strikes.
"That's impossible," he was saying, clearly agitated. "This world is shrouded in shadows. You have nothing to draw on!"
"Pompous idiot," Arren snapped.
"Arren, here!" Ethinine shouted, tossing Arren his sword. Skillfully Arren caught it out of mid-air and leapt at Azarael. Azarael saw him, but merely stepped aside, his focus still riveted on Jadis. Arren glared.
"Don't turn your back on me!" He lunged forward, drawing on the ability within to strengthen and speeden his blow. Azarael stiffened as the sword went directly through his left shoulder. "Just because I'm not always on top doesn't mean I never am!"
--- --- ---
Neoman and Emagene had an x-Bearer of Wings, Donovan, trapped between them. "I don't know," the Grand Sage said thoughtfully. "I always thought that Markal of the Wings, at the end of the first millennium, was the most impressive."
"Still, this one has some spark of its own," she replied. "The twenty-third century had an interesting flair to it."
"Yes, but the archaic ancestry of the time-"
"Will you cut it out?!" Lyorn said, suddenly appearing behind them. "We're fighting a war, and you're discussing history? Just killt he man already and put him out of his misery!"
"Are you suggesting history has no worth?" Neoman asked with a smile. Lyorn looked like he was about to strangle him.
Nigal rushed past, the Bearer of White Wings of the late first millennium beside him. "Why quibble when he's right here to prove it?" Nigal snorted. Markal smiled faintly but chose to remain silent.
--- --- ---
Ethinine saw their glow increase. While still not brilliant, it was slowly becoming blinding. Arren's sword, still in Azarael's shoulder, glowed as well now, blest from Arren's own deep-set Light, and that clearly hurt Azarael far more than the simple blade itself did.
Ethinine glanced at Shaddoc, who was firing his arrows still, his movements and Jadis' combined forcing the Hand of Darkness to focus on defense. Having Arren going at him like a stinging wasp was no help to him either. All in all, they really had a chance of success.
He looked around for Callysta. She stood beside Reveka, looking puzzled and worried. "Ethinine," she said as he came over. "Reveka isn't responding. Is she alright?"
Ethinine studied her a moment, then said, "She is the Bearer of White Wings. I think she's fighting her own battle right now."
Callysta looked rejected. "We're not much help, are we?" she asked. "Look at Shaddoc, he and Jadis work together so much they both react instinctively to each other's moves, and Arren's covering everywhere they're not. We'd probably get in the way if we tried to jump in."
Something caught Ethinine's eye and he looked to the arched doorway. The shadows were thickening there, and shapes were appearing out of them. His eyes widened as he recognized people from the histories and texts he had studied, past shadowed Hands and Wing bearers returning to life. He remembered something from the texts of one ancient scroll- 'And come the final act, when Light and Shadow meet to determine once and for eternity the destiny of our world, Hand against Hand and Wing versus Wing, so shall the deceased angels of Light and Shadow live once more to aid their chosen brethren against their foes'.
"Come on," Ethinine said as he grabbed Callysta's hand and ran for the door, where some of the murky figures were beginning to notice what occurred exactly in the room. "Maybe we're not so useless after all."
--- --- ---
"Erasmus?" Nigal glanced around, but there was no sign of the master mage. He ducked under an oncoming ax blow from some kind of minotaur-thing and stabbed it under the arm. "Erasmus!" he shouted, ducking around the fallen monster.
"Ni-gal!" Erasmus was dangling off the ground, being choked by some kind of tenticled creature. "A little- help!"
Nigal leapt up, slicing through the thick arm. Erasmus dropped on his rump, gasping for air. Nigal made quick work of the creature, then turned to the mage. "Are you alright?"
"I've been better," he replied. He groaned, climbing to his feet. "I'm exhausted."
"I know what you mean," Nigal agreed ruefully. "Meanwhile Emagene and Demetrius especially seem rejuvenated instead of exhausted the further we go."
The Dark vanished again, and once more clear skies were overhead. Erasmus sighed. "And we gotta keep going."
"Just remember," Nigal said. "We're doing this for our world, for...well, your children."
"Allt he children," Erasmus said softly, smiling. "All the children of our world."
"I can see Gol'lath ahead!" he thought he heard Demetrius shout. "We are close!"
--- --- ---
Ethinine had crafted a shield over the door, capable of keeping the enemy out but allowing himself and Callysta to deal some major damage to the gathering opposition.
Jadis, Arren and Shaddoc formed a triangle around Azarael, circling like a pack of wolves. Azarael stood in the center, calm despite the uneasy position. Besides the wounds to his side and shoulder, he was untouched. Arren had two parallel cuts on his left cheek and the gash from his shoulder to his opposite hip on his back. Jadis had blood caked on the side of his head, the result of an earlier failure to move quickly enough. Shaddoc wasn't visibly harmed, though there were marks on his face that, while they resembled dirt smudges, showed where some dark energy had scored him earlier.
Jadis glanced at Arren, waiting for his strike. Azarael noted the movement but made no reaction. Arren suddenly leapt forward, slashing in a crisscross style. Azarael took one step back, seemingly right into Jadis who had run up behind him. Azarael twisted his body slightly and parried, blocking both Jadis and Arren. Shaddoc's arrows, shot when Jadis moved, sailed toward his shoulders. One sailed just over, but the other landed just below.
Azarael leapt back, and Arren realized he was between them and Reveka. Azarael smiled mockingly as he jumped back, taking tight hold of Reveka, and leapt into the air. "Curses!" Arren shouted, running forward. Azarael lowered his hand, palm open toward them, uttering a harsh sound. Instantly the room plunged into Darkness.
--- --- ---
Something shifted. Reveka realized the tide had turned somewhat, a subtle change in the flow. She thought she heard Arren shout, but was uncertain. All she could be certain of was Azarael directly before her, pushing against her.
Something smashed against her, plunging deep inside her. The Darkness was within her!
Her eyes snapped open, wide in mindless shock. Azarael held her, flying over the heads of her brother and Jadis. She could see Shaddoc firing quickly, trying to bring the Hand of Darkness down. Jadis and Arren were doing something, but she couldn't tell what. It was hard to focus on them anyway, her mind locked on the moving Darkness paralyzing her.
"Its over, Bearer of White Wings," Azarael murmured triumphantly. He raised his hand, fingers centered as if displaying something.
Arren's glow grew as his wings suddenly appeared. Jadis leapt up, and Arren jumped off his shoulders as before, colliding directly with Azarael. "Get away from my sister!" he roared, latching onto Azarael's shoulder while his free hand swung the sword around. At the last moment, Azarael jerked Reveka around so that the sword plunged into her. Reveka screamed and Arren paled, looking so very sick. "Rev...eka? REVEKA!! NOO!"
Azarael contemptuously kicked Arren off, and he fell on top of Jadis, knocking them both to the ground. Azarael moaned quietly, a bloodstain growing on the cloth of his tunic. For Arren's sword has pushed through Reveka and directly into Azarael as well, impaling them both together. Azarael chuckled, resting his hands on Reveka's shoulders. "So in the end, we're locked in death together. I suppose then, the Light wins the battle, but what of the war? If the Wings die, you cannot reach the Heart perfectly. This world will die with us, my precious little fledgling."
" she replied in almost a whisper. "Not if I can steal your resilience when I join you to me.
But she thrust herself backwards into Azarael, directly into
Azarael, till her form and his overlapped and was vague.
"Reveka!" Arren shouted.
"Arren, get off
me! - Shaddoc, help me!"
--- --- ---
Reveka stood face to face with Azarael. He stared at her, expressionless. She smiled slightly, beaming like a little angel. "I win, you know,
" she said. "I merged first when you were unprotected. And look, my Light is greater than your Dark.
" She gestured around, where only a deep pure Light could be seen. No Darkness, no shadows, only light.
Azarael's eyes tightened, his whole body tensed, then he suddenly relaxed, releasing a deep breath. "Yes...you have grown, fledgling. Watch." he raised his hand, causing her to tense, but nothing happened. He smiled sadly. "My powers are gone...you are joined strongly to your brother. You are twins, are you not?" She nodded. He sighed again, suddenly looking more the defeated, forlorn and unknown warrior instead of the proud, haughty lord he was. "I am...beaten."
"I need the Wings, Azarael,
" she told him. "But...may I ask one question? Who were you, before you became the Bearer of Black Wings?
He smiled at her, drawing up to his full height. "Reveka," he said grandly. "I am your father!"
OOC-I'm sorry......I couldn't resist......that line is such a cliche anymore...please forgive me...
I'll get back on track.
He smiled softly. "Who was I?...once I was Winter, brother to Lyorn Firesoul, rivals for our father's praise and his eventual passing-on of the Hand and Wing to the better of us. Lyorn won, of course. He was a wonderful man, a favorite and constant friend to the people. I held no malice to others, but preferred time to myself in solitude. Lyorn was also the more physically attuned of us, always leaving me one step behind. I bore him no malice, we warred in friendly rivalry, never staying angry with each other long.
"Father gave both the Hand of Light and Bearer of White Wings to Lyorn in the end. He was ahead of me, and nothing I did could change that. I was no longer even close to rivaling him."
"So you took on the Darkness so you could continue your rivalry?
"At first I thought if I centered myself in the Light, then it would never hold me. But its stronger than I thought...and much more powerfully pleasing. Soon I was no longer myself."
"I see...are you ready to make it right?
He smiled crookedly. "You misunderstand. We are what we choose to be. I cannot say with honesty that I regret my path." He chuckled at Reveka's aghast expression. "End it now, my fledgling, before your grasp weakens and my power returns."
She grit her teeth, her expression set, then called on the Wings. They flared out behind her, white with golden light. Azarael spread his out as well, but even then he could not summon a shadow. Reveka wrapped his tall figure in the folds of her wings, hers over his, and closed her eyes, reaching out with her spirit to his. She took her hands and gently reached into his very soul, cupping it delicately between her palms. The spirit of the Wings pulsed beneath her hands as she pulled it away from Azarel. Then, taking a deep breath, she thrust it into her own chest.
The instant that dark orb entered her, the Darkness attempted to break from her hold. But she pushed it further and further in, deep into her own. A pain filled her as the separate essences of the souls fought with each other, then joined together. Her eyes popped open, wide in shock as the souls combined, becoming one. Azarael laughed, a sound that now echoed and sounded empty.
"Did you not know, little one? We become one, now, one soul, one entity." His form was growing fainter, but his eerily alight eyes focused on Reveka, his mouth turned into a smirk. "We're trapped together for the rest of eternity, my child, impaled together on a spiritually two-edged sword."
"If it must be, then I will live with it,
" she answered finally.
He smiled bitterly. "That's a good girl." His form faded, leaving only a shimmering remnant. This remnant was drawn directly into Reveka, and she felt a change, a rippling through her being. Feathers of black mixed with the pure white, giving the impression of large shadows. She was certain she'd gained a few inches, and her hair fell past her shoulders, flowing like waves down her back. She smiled slightly, then laughed experimentally. It had a richer sound to it, but that was the extent. Elated, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes.
--- --- ---
"that's the last of 'em!" Jadis said, cleaning his blade off. Ethinine stood in the arched doorway with Callysta leaning against him, exhausted, watching the last x-Hand of Darkness fizzle away. Jadis glanced at Arren, who watched Reveka and Azarael's overlapped forms. When Jadis had opted to help Ethinine and Callysta, Arren remained focused on his sister, not saying a word. He was still standing there, watching, oblivious to anything else.
Suddenly, they began to glow and descend. Jadis' hand tightened on his sword, and Shaddoc raised his bow. Arren strained forward, like an anxious dog on a leash.
Azarael and Reveka's forms blurred a moment, then Reveka solidified. She was different now, being maybe a head taller, equal to Arren now, with longer hair and deeply shadowed wings. "Reveka?" Arren said haltingly. She smiled softly at him.
"Its me, Arren," she said, speaking aloud. Her voice was soft, effeminate, but there was a sort of rich undertone that was reminiscent of Azarael. "We've...won. We defeated him Arren! I now have authority over the Black Wings!" She began to laugh. "And I can talk Arren, I can talk!" and she leapt forward, flinging her arms around his neck.
Jadis turned to Shaddoc, sheathing his sword. "Just the Heart of Darkness to go then," he said cheerfully. "If you'll stay with me, I know I can take it." He grinned enthusiastically.
Ethinine smiled at Callysta. "We did well, I think. We make a pretty good team."
--- --- ---
Having gone completely berserk, Mastedon lunged screaming like an enraged animal, his eyes blazing. Demetrius calmly stepped aside and cut his head off. He bent down, picking it up, as the Darkness dispersed, surrounding only the Citadel now.
"Not bad," Lyorn said, walking up. "Guess that blot on the map is up to the kids now."
"Wonder if we should join them," Nigal said, appearing around the corner. "It is Azarael they're fighting. Perhaps we should help-"
Lyorn gasped, his eyes widening. "Azarael's dead! he gasped as a shock wave suddenly bounced from the Citadel, knocking them to their backs as the Darkness fled screaming, vanishing over the horizon. Nigal was laughing as he rolled back.
"They won! Gosh darn it, I don't believe it!"
Lyorn smiled softly, but sadly. "True. That means my role is finished." Nigal stopped laughing, sitting abruptly to stare at Lyorn. The once king stared long and hard at the Citadel, open regret in his eyes. "I had hoped to see my son, just once, and see the man he had become. I see...it was not to be." He closed his eyes, his form starting to fade around the edges.
Nigal leapt to his feet, his face set in determination. "Not so fast, old friend, Fight it for all you're worth, and you'll see him. Demetrius, help me hold him. NEOMAAANNN!"
OOC- okay, everyone post again. We're almost finished, so keep in mind these are perhaps your final posts.