Routine Cleanup

They’d split up, largely because under the trees it hadn’t taken long for the shifting enemies to outnumber them.  Thoughts of barricading the forest forgotten, Jason floated between trees, towards the cliff face, hurling an occasional spell and maintaining an offensive shield; every time one of the enemies collided with its surface, there was a loud “pop” and just a pile of dust left behind.  The monsters were slowly edging apart, dodging past Jason’s ability to spread his shield, and it was all he could do to throw spells at the farthest without dropping the shield.  A shadow fell over him, faint but growing, and he heard James yelling.

“Trade ya!”  Jason propelled himself into the air, dropping the shield and rising past James’s falling form.  They bumped knuckles as they met, James throwing green mana below him, raising humanoid shapes of wood, beating back the shifters and clearing a spot for him.  Once his foot touched the forest floor, James threw spells at his circle of puppets, chanting and humming, pumping them full of energy.  Jason stepped onto the cliff edge, dropping his flight spell and focusing his energy into another new spell.  The power manifested as half-complete samurai armor on his shoulders and left arm, three sheathed swords on his hip.  He drew them one at a time, stabbing them into a triangle around him on the ground, and stood still between them.  Mana formed around his neck and lower face, shaping a fanged half-mask.  “Metzen…”

~#~#~#~

Maytee raced down the forest, her spell-helmet keeping her apprised on oncoming trees as she flew backwards, using her Spirit Gun spell to blast oncoming shifters as they swarmed after her in loping, mismatched forms.  For every one she incinerated, another three would pile onto the herd, and she started swerving in larger loops, catching wider swaths of enemies.  As a large pile started to raise up and try overrunning her, a mass of green and sickly gray slammed into the center with a puff of dust.  Three more of the dead-looking things attacked from the sides, and Joe rose from under the ground, standing with one foot braced on a large thorned vine.  He wove his hand forward, and the dust swirled around the shifters nearest the attacking constructs.  Congealing in midair were more of the undead Saprolings, which proceded to join their brethren and continue kicking up the dust-like spores.  Maytee hovered in midair, sniping a few lone shifters, and nodded to Joe.  He turned to direct more Necrolings to mop up a loose clump of shifters; the armored mage rose into the air, flying through the treetops to find another swarm headed for the campus.

~#~#~#~

James hummed louder, picking a large branch off the ground and wielding it like a sword into the open air.  As one, the puppet allies stretched to add a wooden sword to their shapes, beating back the shifters faster with their weapons.  It took little time for James to advance the line of puppets, beating the tide back towards the forest, his soldiers ahead of him.  He watched as spooky-looking saprolings appeared on the other side of his swarm and began exploding into spore clouds.  Joe appeared next to him, hands in his pockets.

“Weird, huh,” the normally taciturn young man muttered, watching James’s puppets and his own beasts forcing a division in the ranks of shifters.  The two green-aligned mages watched quietly, James tapping his hand against his leg gently in rhythm to maintain his spells.

~#~#~#~

A line of larger shifters rose, climbing to the cliff edge from far to the side of James’s barrier.  Jason frowned, and stood in his sword-ringed spot between two of the larger dorms, the easiest way into the campus proper.  The other gaps had been sealed with thick magic, making Jason’s path the easiest for these strange creatures.  Jason’s spell manifested, he waited until the larger shifters approached to begin the final chant.

“Raynor,” he said challengingly, and one sword rose into his hand.  The blade became thick, steel-grey, and edged with a faint blue mana-blade.  Blue industrial markings crawled along the wide blade, and futuristic tubing wound in and out of the weapon’s flats.  He flung the broadsword forward, the magic making it spiral and slash on its own accord, carving open one of the nearest shifters.  The others paused, and bent to consume their fallen ally with slow, mismatched mouths.  Jason scowled, and held a hand over a second blade in the earth.  “Zeratul,” he whispered, and the blade morphed as it jumped into his hand, the Raynor blade hovering nearby, slowly circling around him.  The blade on this weapon was smoky-black, almost invisible near the cutting edge of the katana.  The hilt, however, was bright yellow and projected a blue handguard over Jason’s fingers.  He released it, using the spell itself to slash open two nearer beasts with both conjured weapons.  As he carved and sliced through a shifter, however, it would just be rapidly devoured by its fellows.  Eventually, one large shifter rose above Jason, nearly three stories tall, white with a fluid, shifting form of fabric and leather, a fanged scarf around its neck and ‘mouth’.  Jason narrowed his eyes, and drew his hand behind him, over the final embedded blade.  “Kerrigan.”

~#~#~#~

Maytee blasted apart the few shifters able to destroy the Necrolings, noting with some disgust that the survivors kept trying to eat the fallen ones’ remains.  She drew mana into her hand, forming a hovering energy blade above her clenched fist, like a sword lacking hilt or material shape.  She flew towards the cliff, watching larger shifters climbing towards…

Jason was floating in midair, slashing with three varied weapons against a large shifter standing three times his height.  One was a futuristic broadsword, one a dusky katana, but the third… the third resembled a scything monster’s arm ripped from its body, bleeding in barely-visible drops at this distance, leaving red afterimages as Jason commanded the three weapons to combat the hulking shifter.  Maytee flew towards him, energy sword at the ready, her other hand drawing red mana rapidly to itself.  As Jason floated higher in the air, executing a combonation attack with all three weapons at once, Maytee unleashed a violent fireball towards the whitish mass.  The shifter, under both attacks, exploded apart into sparkling dust, leaving an exhausted Jason kneeling beside three disappearing weapons and Maytee hovering nearby, her spellarmor fading.

“…Damn,” Jason muttered, and fell face-forward onto the ground.

~#~#~#~

Joe formed a new batch of Necrolings, vaguely dog-shaped, to round up the last few shifters, about an hour later.  Jason had collapsed, Maytee had taken up his spot defending the cliff, and between James’ buff spells and Joe’s swarms of undead plants, they’d staved off the invasion of strange beasts.  Joe knelt down, catching a pile of the shifter dust in a small bottle, and looked at it in the sunlight.

“What’s Zeke doing, lately?  He ought to know something about these things, perhaps.”  James scowled and stumbled over.  The remains of his puppets shrunk and returned to the ground.

“Let’s find out.”

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