Innocence Lost

“And that’s game.” Peepers informed Nick who let out a sigh.

“I guess it’s to be expected.”

“Yeah you haven’t played in a while man.”

“Yeah it happens. Maybe I’ll use my merfolk next time to see if they’re angry too. Well…I gotta go.” Nick stood up from his chair ready to leave.

“Where are you going?”

“I gotta verify that all the paperwork I left with Jamie and Josh are done.”

“Ah have fun with that.”

~#~#~#~

The wolves rush ahead of the charging elves, ready for the slaughter. Farther back some of the elves fire volleys of arrows into the defenders.

“Hold that line! We need to hold for one minute!” Ezra raised his sword and hacked the head off of a wolf, then followed it up with a heavy backhand from his shield arm against the upper torso of a lightly armored elf swordsman. The battle line formed by his fellow Akrasans held fast against this unending horde, but the Esper people he was never sure of. They seemingly crumbled beneath the might of these new adversaries. Ezra never understood why his Lord put such faith in these machines.

An arrow flying from seemingly no where, struck Ezra in the shoulder. He stumbled momentarily, but regained his balance in time to smash the skull in of his latest goblin assailant with the pommel of his sword. Battlemages from Esper stepped forward and cast a spell. In an instant a swath of death and decay burst through the enemy killing scores of them. Ezra retreating from the line allowed another knight to replace him.

“I see the battle is going as expected.” The handsome knight turned to face the voice addressing him. His toe-headed hair swayed slightly from the motion, but it never got in the way, being tied back. In front of him stood a mockery of a man, this denizen of Esper stood equal in height to Ezara himself. His right arm spiraled with metal ending in a clawed hand. His laughing golden eyes seemed to pierce the very soul of his counter part.

“Yes, you are correct the secondary line is holding nicely as planned, but your skirmishers collapsed against the secondary counter assault.”

“It’s to be expected my friend. There is a reason behind it. I Emalis of Tidehollow am certain.”

“Really, and what would that be?”

“Patience my friend, time will tell.”

~#~#~#~

“Okay guys are you done?” Nick asked as he entered his office area. Josh looked up from the pile of papers they were working on.

“Maybe?”

“What he means is yes, but some of these papers are weird.”

“Oh? How so?” Nick gave a look of interest as he walked around the desk she was sitting at to see.

“Well first off the L-5 papers are redundant, and the forms we use to verify daily requisitions seem pointless. Why do we need a form to verify, when we have the original right here?” She pointed over to a stack of papers roughly two inches high.

“We don’t. The higher ups thought it was a good idea. Hence why, I was doing the paperwork before. Here just make out a list of unnecessary papers, and I’ll bring it up at one of my board meetings this week. But for now you guys can go for the night it’s getting late. Tomorrow I’ll help with the paperwork so we can get done sooner, and work on magic.”

“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Josh said before they both got up, and left. Nick counted to sixty before he moved. He began again going through the drawers of his office, and all of the shelves of the room connected to it. He needed to find Nick’s research or he’d be set back weeks, and he might never achieve the same results again. His mission was of the utmost importance, while Nick recovered in his room. Thoughts raced across the marionette’s mind.

~#~#~#~

Still the army refuses to give way. Their master unyielding hobbles forward with the aid of one of his machines. As he approaches more machine men burst from behind The Great Thi’mae’yous, The Describer’s elven line, archers are butchered by sword and axe. The injured traveler of the planes continues to march forward. Spells fly from him. Trees burst to life wrapping hidden elves. Shards of earth erupt from the ground impaling goblins, and pinging off of armor. Wolves turn on one another. Not willing to lose the advantage, knights of his press forward moving as one. Thi’mae’yous smirks at the sight, his victory in sight, with his opponent’s capital now unguarded by its leader.

“Send in the Dragons. I’m going in.”

“Yes my master.”

~#~#~#~

A roar swept through the ranks of the defenders. Some shuddered in fear, but most refused to be stopped. Massive red colored dragons easily a ten story building in length fly over head.

“Alright it’s time. Emalis your battlemages have their cue.”

“Yes sir I’ll send the signal.”

Great gouts of flame ignited across the battlefield that caught human and goblin, elf and machine alike, but with one difference. The Knightly warriors glowed with a white aura, protecting them from the flame. Many faithful soldiers and mages of Esper perished in the attack. Nick himself extended his territory as far as he could reach, to save as many of the people as possible within his power. He caught the element as it entered. It spiraled in midair, startling the dragons that flew by.

“Is it true Emalis that dragon’s breath is the hottest fire in existence?” The man-machine nodded as he stared in amazement.

“Some of the hottest, many times as the war progressed we would enslave dragons for their fire. They sped up many processes.”

“Good, I don’t want them to feel this. Call your stormblades back.” Emalis released his grip on Nick, and gave a bow.

“Of course.”

~#~#~#~

As Thi’mae’yous, The Describer rides forward a tumult causing inferno rages in the air. Some dragons fly through it not willing to give up their prize. A huge flash of blue light erupts in the air as well. Slowly at first the flames of perdition condense. Then faster till it’s only a single orb. Then dozens of men and veldalken fly through the air, and the orb falls. Unable to escape many brave servants of The Mighty Thi’mae’yous, The Describer are incinerated instantly as well as the forest. Only a barren waste remains, covered in fire and ash. Enraged at this insolence The Powerful Thi’mae’yous, The Describer rides forward, but in his mind he knows it makes no difference for the dragons he unleashed shall take victory shortly.

~#~#~#~

Hurting inside, knowing he had to kill so many for victory, Nick ran forward with his charging line gaining as much territory as possible. His leg screamed in pain at him with each step. He accepted it. It was his punishment for his deeds, and he’d bare it. Matching pace with him Ezra and Emalis attempt to protect the younger leader.

“Emalis take control of the air battle, send in the drakes and tower gargoyles we kept in reserve. Also send in the Stormswords to support them.”

“Of course my Lord.” Emalis pealed off from the sprint, and ran back to his fellow artifice. His laughing eyes starred only forward.

~#~#~#~

Almost ready to jump fully into battle Thi’mae’yous’ heart sinks as he sees that the young mage was ready for him this time. Massive creatures fly from the forest, campus, and even from behind the ridge leading to the water. They strike at the flying dragons in the air, stopping them just short of their goal. Dragons spit fire and claw at their opponents. These Titan sized creations of Alara, giving no more ground than taken they fight just as ferociously. Some fight to the point of falling from the sky fighting and crushing the armies below.

~#~#~#~

Now in the fray Nick had no choice, but to fight to kill. Not wanting to hinder the others he stuck to casting spells from behind the enemy. Air burst from the lungs of goblins on his left side that caused them to erupt where they stood. Elves would fall into pits that weren’t there before, then be quickly crushed by the pressure as they sealed back up. Lightning shot from Nick’s hand, pointed upward signaling Ezra’s Leotau riders to charge. Real battle was deafening. Every time this game of Thi’mae’yous’ happened he felt as if part of him died on the inside. In the distance his tormentor rode his way. Finally ready for combat.

“Ezra coordinate the ground battle, I’ll keep The Describer preoccupied.”

“Are you sure sir? I can help you.” An elf is run through by Ezra’s blade, before he is bit in the leg by a wolf. Nick quickly cast a spell to make it join him, and it turned on a near by elf about to slit the throat of a downed battlemage.

“I’m positive.”

“Yes sir.” He saluted and ran to another part of the battle.

~#~#~#~

Now separated from his protectors the territory mage prepares to face his hated opponent. A cold deadness fills his eyes. Now right on top of him Thi’mae’yous leaps from his mount as a wave of spikes washes over it. Now in the air it retaliates with its own spell. Acid spews from Thi’mae’yous’ palms towards its target below. A shield of glass springs in front of him, from the heated and cracked ground. Unable to dissolve the glass surface it trickles down to the ground where it eats that away instead of its intended target. The Describer smashes through the glass uncaring of the petty injuries incurred. Now in front of the leader of this pathetic band of fighters Thi’mae’yous approaches ready to strike him down.

~#~#~#~

Nick stumbled back some throwing ash up to blind it. The ash rippled around it as if obeying its unspoken commands. The crimson combatant simply walked forward. The book connected to its right arm scribbled its every word madly as it dictated what it saw. Most of it was rather insulting to Nick.

Roars echoed across the plains as the horse sized lions charged with fully armored riders on their backs. Their powerful claws dug into the ground creating as much momentum as possible. Some leaped over the battling foot soldiers, while others ran around, and just as many simply barreled through them inflicting maximum damage. Those that strayed to close the entity in front of him were shriveled into lifeless cadavers.

Taking his opportunity Nick opened a small spherical metal case, and pointed it Thi’mae’yous. Fire erupted from the opening engulfing it. It screamed in pain and anger as it thrashed around trying to extinguish the flames.

“Dragon breath, it’s some of the hottest in the multiverse.”

“Insolence, I’ll punish you for that!” The immolated Thi’mae’yous continued to approach him. The flames died down revealing the damage dealt. Parts of its robes were burnt away revealing scribed scrolls wrapped around its limbs. The books attached to its wrists were untouched the right book still recorded everything. Its eyes were still hidden somehow by its hood.

The words from its legs glowed golden, simply radiating with power. The describer’s scroll flashed and strange creatures appeared before him. They were familiar somehow, and then it hit him.

Slivers crawl forward ready for the slaughter. Terror and disgust cross his face as realization hits. The hive had appeared on the battleground. Now confusion appeared. Likely questions of why crossed his face. Thi’mae’yous laughs. They are his summons not his soldiers, and with them it would finish the battle in victory in one fell swoop.

Each sliver was at first separate in appearance, but that soon changed. The first sliver, a green one that was sleek and streamline with spiky protrusions running along its back changed first. It grew a second head as well as a second piercing forearm that ended in a spike for a stabbing motion. Next the back of its head grew to form a brain like shape. After that two small sacks grew under the head oozing an acidic substance, and finally its body segmented into a snakelike appearance allowing it to slither on. Each and every one of the five creatures looked this way, with only their color allowing Nick to discern the difference between them.

They quickly surrounded him. Not wanting to be out done, Nick tapped into the blue mana around him and cast a spell. Rain pattered on them harder and harder. Then they attacked. The red one in front opened up first with a projectile attack of bile at Nick. The green substance flew through the air at amazing speed only to be blocked by a sheet of ice. Then the white one followed suit slithering forward trying to slash at him. A massive frozen spike fell from the sky at it. The attack missed as it coiled around it climbing with the spines around its body, till it was on top.

Then the green one shot forward next moving at an incredible speed. It slithered from side to side dodging shards of ice and water serpents. Now on top of Nick it reared up ready to strike, but he was ready for it. Nick activated the power he had charged. A wall of water enveloped the monster, and sent it flailing backwards. A burst of energy slammed into Nick. The force was so great that it made him fall to the ground. The white one then jumped from its roost at him, both of its raven beak shaped heads snapping as it fell.

Not ready to give in Nick grabbed his cane and pointed the head at the beast. The metal tip dissolved as wires shot from it at the creature. Seemingly with their own will they punctured the flesh of the beast. The impact against it so great it fell away from him. It let out an inhuman shriek of pain and rage as the wires continued to burrow deeper into it. Then it rose in unison with Nick. The young man granted only this slight reprieve was slammed into the ground again, this time by another of its brethren, this one the green one. It reared up again this time it was determined to succeed if it could feel that emotion.

Then suddenly it was tackled by the white one. In a flurry they slashed, stabbed, and fired upon one another. The white one followed the will of the one controlling the etherium wires that now wrapped around its insides manipulating its every move. Unfortunately it wasn’t a match for the larger green one, as it became evident when it was impaled by one of the two forearms. As soon as it died the others changed.

They all lost their serpentine form when the white sliver fell, and soon after they lost their most streamline shape as Nick shredded it with the etherium wires before they promptly formed back into the head of his cane and reattached to it. Nick breathed in heavily the strain of maintaining all of his spells began to take their toll. He crouched down waiting for them to strike, and they didn’t disappoint. With a quick burst of power a geyser shot up from underneath him as the black one charged. He flew into the air unhindered as the black one fired straight up at him Nick returned fire with the water from his geyser enveloping it, and crushing it.

The remaining two lost the small ooze sacks that they fired with. Wanting to remain air borne Nick is lifted in the air by his serpents, which turned solid enough to keep him in the sky. He took only a second to witness the stalemated air-battle. The tower gargoyles just barely held back the draconic tide. Good at least Emalis is holding up.

Unfortunately he paid for his moment’s distraction. Hit with what felt like an invisible wall he plummeted towards the ground. He let out a cry of pain as he landed on his injured leg, breaking it in the process. Nick gripped the bloody leg unable to concentrate. Tears welled up and mixed with the rain. The red one moved in for the kill towering over its prey.

It never got close enough to strike. As it ran forward a leotau with rider pounced on it. The animal bit deep at one head as its rider removed the other with his sword. The knight dismounted and allowed his animal to finish its kill. Ezra ran to Nick, he stumbled in the process the psychic attacks of to last one were unrelenting. Now with one head it attacked the downed Lieutenant. He mustered up what power he had left and let his water dragons finish it. Nick felt a strong hand grasp him by the shoulder and lift him up. Accepting the aid Nick finally cast a healing spell that mended his wound.

“Are you okay sir?” Ezra asked.

“I’m fine, what are you doing here?” He replied.

“Saving your ass sir.” Nick laughed at the mildly humorous fact. He looked up at his smiling savior with a grin of his own. The moment was cut short as a small ray pierced the unsuspecting Knight’s chest. He fell to the ground gasping. Smoke rose from the wound. Immediately Nick tried to heal him.

“Go… finish this…” Ezra coughed out. Nick turned to face his enemy. It pained him to do so, but his friend was right. The Describer stood their menacingly waiting for his move. Men screamed and died around them as the battle lines crumbled into chaos. Nick shot forward with what strength he had left. Water dragons slashed at Thi’mae’yous who dodged. Columns of fire danced across the field of battle towards the injured walker. Earth turned to glass, water turned to steam, and people both allies and enemies turned to torches. Nick spun left and right, he jumped into the air with magical aid, and ended with a fist smashing into his face.

Nick wheezed as blood freely ran down his nose. Thi’mae’yous stood over him, a grin mocking his every being. It continued to speak of the world around them.

The boy stares at Thi’mae’yous in defeat. Anguish, rage, and hate flash over the mortal’s eyes. It was a child in the presence of a god. It points its open palm at him. Energy rises into a black orb. This Nick, mage of law and territory, this walker of the planes knew his fate.

“Screw that.” A ring formed at the feet of the being. It engulfed it and jettisoned Nick. Nick rose with the help of his cane, in victory over Thi’mae’yous, who beat its fist against the circle. He approached the Oblivion ring, and spoke. “Now watch as your world crumbles around you.”

Nick walked away too hopefully save the injured Knight.

~#~#~#~

Nick knelt down to the ground and cast the healing spells he knew. None worked.

“Dammit, it’s a cursed wound. I can’t heal this.” Emalis landed behind Nick atop a great towering gargoyle.

“Sir the battle is almost won. Your merfolk captured the planes through the tunnels as planned. The capital never saw it coming.”

“Emalis, Ezra is dying.”

“Then heal him.”

“I can’t the flesh has been cursed.”

“Then replace it.” Nick looked up at Emalis. “The flesh is weak, replace it with something more.”

“But…” Nick began.

“There’s no time for protest. Either let him die, or save him by using what I taught you.”

“But…”

“Sculpt damn you!” That clicked in him. Without a word Nick began his work. The great behemoth Emalis rode in on fell to pieces. Parts reformed in the air, and flew to the dying man. His chest was caved in, his right arm was rotting, and blood refused to stop flowing from the injury.

“D-don’t…” Ezra tried to protest, but it was too late. Nick not hearing the plea continued. Ezra’s arm fell off, and was replaced by the spiraling metal. His breastplate reformed no longer caved-in. Even his heart was replaced with the Æther infused metal. Glowing arcane runes stringed across his neck, and rose to the base of his jaw, then he fainted as the procedure completed itself. Nick stood up.

“Take care of him. He won’t accept what’s happened to him. I doubt he’ll ever forgive me for it.”

“He will my liege. Just give him time.”

The scene faded around him. Nick grew in size leaving the battlefield behind him. Tired, injured, and strained Nick hobbled to the doors. He had only seconds before Thi’mae’yous would return from its prison. He read the words above each door. He quickly ran to the door labeled “Stand”. The door flung open, and he saw the other side as it shut behind him.

;

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