Cecilia was hanging back as well a pair of arms covering her, another had managed to find a piece of scrap metal large enough to make an impromptu shield, and as she moved with the rest of them, she watched Prail disperse her birds?
"Thank you; just the thought of you standing by my side, gives me the strength to carry on." Aleister said, interrupted by the occasional cough. The fatigue from maintaining the spell for so long was starting to show, but the swordsman kept his head forward, concentrating on the powerful shield. Despite his concentration, Faunra could see the tell-tale signs that his mind was split over some unforeseen conundrum. She ignored the look - all she could do was support him; literally and figuratively.
"Glad to hear it, because I'm not going anywhere." she said. Wrapping one of his arms over he shoulder, she pushed upward, giving Aleister some added physical support. She didn't know if it would do anything - the workings of magic were alien to her - but she thought it better than doing nothing. again she looked at the distracted look upon his face. "If you need anything more, ask."
"If you need anything more, ask." Faunra remarked, after putting an arm over his shoulder, pushing him forward, lending him some more support. Aleister managed to crack a smile, despite the fatigue of keeping the wind shield up.
"Thanks for that Faunra. Think I'll just need to take a rest after this ordeal is over, perhaps catch up on some sleep, know what I'm saying?" Aleister then chuckled for a moment at the thought.
Suddenly, he felt a strange sensation in his mind. It was as if someone was talking to him. The voice seemed awfully familiar, like it was his own.
Within Aleister's Mind...
He then found himself inside an endless black space. The only thing that existed in that bleak emptiness, was a tall, imposing figure, wearing a hooded cloak, and carrying a scythe. Both stared at each other in silence for a few brief moments, then the hooded figure spoke.
"So, we finally meet face to face. Never thought we'd meet as separate entities." The figure remarked.
"Just, who are you?" Aleister asked, still confused by what just happened. The figure chuckled, somehow amused by Aleister's question.
"What? You never seen the face of your own Reaper before?" The figure then pulled his hood down, revealing a man with long white hair, going past his shoulders; and his eyes were green-yellow in colour. Aleister stepped back for, and realised who it was.
"You! But your-"
"Yes Aleister Cole, I am you, as Aeon Castor. You know, if you became me, this whole ordeal with the shield, would be so much easier on yourself. You would suffer little fatigue, little need to tire and rest."
"I know that, but now is not the right time to reveal. It has to be something that would warrant the appearance of a Reaper."
"Very well then, on a different note, whilst you've been doing your thing; I have been doing a little 'soul searching' as it were, *chuckle* and have found some useful information. Care to listen?" Nathaniel asked, chuckling midway through the sentence.
"Go on. You have me intrigued." Aleister remarked, sounding rather curious.
"Okay then. It seems that there is a mysterious order at work, secretly manipulating certain events. For example, that little scuffle you and your girlfriend had back at the medical centre. Something called "The Empire", was partially the cause for that miner's wife to be attacked, something about him not being 'adjusted'. Could possibly be something related to the mind, and I believe that your lizard friend Prail, may have been affected as well; but does not remember, so don't ask about it. Besides, she can't speak anyway."
"Okay. Can we end this conversation now? I am needed elsewhere."
"Of course sir. A little going away gift. A little boost in your magic." Nathaniel soon disappeared, and Aleister 'returned' to the real world. His eyes gleamed slightly. He then smiled. Aleister noticed that he and the others were still moving, despite his meeting of the mind he just had.
Back In Reality...
"Thank you." He remarked, acknowledging both himself as a Reaper, and Faunra for supporting him. Aleister suddenly felt stronger, and stood more upright, but still welcomed the support of Faunra. He then gave a grin to her.
"Think I may have just gotten my, second wind."
Atticus noticed Aleister waver for a second, as if losing focus, before snapping back. Atticus began to wonder how the continual use of this spell was affecting Aleister, but only for a moment. He still had to worry about continually adjusting the device without randomly setting anything off. He looked off, noticing the ruins looming ever closer.
"Conney, how much farther are the ruins?" Atticus asked. Conney was slightly ahead of the group, mostly staying back so she was within range of Aleister's shield.
"Personally, if I wasn't dragging you guys around, I'd already be there." She said quickly.
"Yes, and without Aleister's shield you'd probably be perforated cheese. Seriously, just give me a straight answer. We don't have time for our little bickering session!"
"I don't have time for you either...It's not too far from us now! Just pick up the pa-" Conney stopped mid-sentence, a cluster of larger shards landing in the main road, blocking the path. They were bigger than all the other shards, taller than Prail and Damien. Damien charged at the barricade, his sword drawn, but watched as his sword simply slid off the shards with each thrust or slash he made. Stonefuse tried punching it but to no avail. The golem felt something in the ice, something...different.
Veritas was also getting a bad vibe off the ice but couldn't figure out what it was. The shards weren't an illusion and there was no real trickery there, they'd fallen from the sky same as any shard, but to all land in this one spot. Veritas closed his eyes and opened them again, looking towards the rooftops expecting to see something. Aleister began to prep a spell but stopped as shard whizzed pass his head. Even with his "second wind," Alester still had to focus on casting the spell that was shielding them.
"Forget it, we're go around them! Cut through houses if we have to!" She said before shooting off, assuming the rest of the group would react quickly. They all followed her down a few side streets, only to be cutoff by more large shards every few turns. One large shard landed behind them. Then one to thier side. And soon enough, a fury of huge shards was raining upon them, Aleister's shield just barely withstanding them. They started cutting through houses, simply bursting through walls. They saw terrified and hiding families along side neighbors trying to stay out of the storm. Atticus only had a second to wonder if they were more afraid of the storm of the group, before the large ice shards started bursting through the roof. The group kept running from house to house, more shards raining down the townsfolk at their mercy, lacking Aleister's shield. And after more screaming and blood spray the group burst through one final wall and found themselves among the walls of a ruined castle. Years of erosion and unknown destruction had left it as nothing more than a few stone arches and walls.
The large shards had stopped falling and the shards were back to their usual sizes. Atticus was taken aback by the whole ordeal.
"What the..." Atticus thought as he motioned the others to follow him to what he figured wold be a good place for Etrius to takeoff.
Caedis followed the mad dash for the center of storm through the ice shards and piercing screams of the townsfolk. A few of the shards hit her makeshift shield dead center whenever she wasn't under Aleister's wind spell. But as they sprinted through, she couldn't help but also notice the large shards that seemed to block their path a few turns ago. As Atticus brought them to a safe spot Caedis couldn't help but speak up.
"Did anyone else notice those shards that were extremely bigger than the other shards?" Caedis said as she tore out what shards she could that were stuck to her shield.
Inches from death would put anyone on edge, and Cecilia was no exception, her mind was racing wondering why the hell she was risking her life to help these people, or this level in general yet again.
Letting out a sigh in relief as having reached the castle, she over head Candis? Caedis? Give a comment.
"Kind of hard not to Caedis."
Damien was attempting to assist anyone carrying a makeshift shield by pulling the ice shards out of them, cutting through if they were embedded deep enough.
"Not too much larger, but I think we've gotten to the worst part of the storm, Caedis. Dodge them, don't block, if you can help it. I think only Stonefuse is able to hold his ground against their ferocity."
He had tried helping where he could during the dash to the eye, saving at least two townsfolk by pushing them into cover as he ran past, though he wasn't sure if that had saved them or prolonged their lives another three seconds.
"Conney, according to the...Seraphim here, the birds call this crackling day. Why is it that your people are not prepared for something like this? In the middle of this much ice, you must have known that wood could not stand up to this kind of barrage if it should ever happen."
"Conney, according to the...Seraphim here, the birds call this crackling day. Why is it that your people are not prepared for something like this? In the middle of this much ice, you must have known that wood could not stand up to this kind of barrage if it should ever happen." Damien asked Conney.
Conney stood there, trying to catch her breath when Damien asked her this question. She was tired of following these travelers
"Yeah, we would have something prepared for this...except this has never happened before. Ever in the history of Eisengrad. We've experienced hail bigger than your empty head but most, if not all of our houses have been built to take the assault. These shards burst through the thickest wood like it's paper and even bend steel to the breaking point. I asked my dad about this while we were in the cellar. He's never seen, read, or even heard of anything like this before. Honestly, I don't know what to think of this all...what has this town done that deserves the very wrath of the fates? Conney asked herself, sadness in her voice.
"First dragons, then the disappearances, and now this...and don't get an attitude with me metal head! How the hell are we supposed to know what birds think?! How were we supposed to know a storm like this could happen without warning?!" Conney said, her sadness replaced by anger.
"Listen, we can talk about the thought patterns of avian creatures later, right now we have to stop this storm." Atticus said, twisting a nob on the device and doing a few calculations in his head. So if the walls were spaced about this far, across that piece of land then-
"Alright, I got it. Etrius, follow me and spread your wings." Atticus said, walking through an arch. When he got to the other side, he found himself standing in what looked like a graveyard, multiple tombstones and small statues sprinkling the grounds, trees among them.
"Well, that sure looks promising."
"Well, that sure looks promising." The beast heard Atticus say.
The beast in the mining suit hid behind a tombstone, breathing heavily into the gas mask. "So that is the main aggressor, the machine man with his tools of destruction! And the bird man, the one who learned of our plans. This will not go unpunished!" The others hid near some of the ruins or nearby rooftops, looking down on the other climbers.
There were five of the suits in total, two of which held pick axes. The other two wanted a more natural feel, a feel for the fight. They had their claws exposed, ready to tear into flesh and bone. And the final one was behind a tombstone, just waiting there for Atticus or Etrius to do anything he didn't approve and show these climbers what the lord had taught him.
"They will not interfere, Crackling Day is upon us!"
Miles away, across the frozen sea, through the Scarce Woods, over the Red fields, finally underneath a Cathedral, lay a man incased in ice. He'd been asleep for 5 years, gaining strength every moment, of every hour, of everyday. But that was strange, what more could a man with his power want? A legion of the beasts slavered over the ice encased man, constantly watching him, noting each microscopic crack that shot across the ice he was in.
Meanwhile, two of his mercenaries stood a few feet away, simply watching the situation. There was a slick haired man, his hair pointing downwards and towards his back. He walked around impatiently, as if tired of waiting for something. Another man, bigger, bulkier, with a huge jaw line simply sat, his legs crossed and eyes closed. The two were pretty much complete opposites, except they shared one same attribute.
The slick haired man stopped and let out a yell, slightly evolving into a monstrous roar.
"Five years! That's how long we've been waiting! I figured it would be easy: We had that town around our fingers, the people were scared and vulnerable, but the boss decides to simply retreat because of some little teenage girl! Now we're working with these fucking monkeys! I can't take it anymore, I want to destroy something, conquer something, just so I can get some sort of thrill!" Slick haired jumped towards what looked like an exit. Suddenly, the bulkier man jumped up, uncrossing his legs in an instant, and slammed slick haired into a wall. He spoke calmly, face to face with the other man.
"Our leader has his reasons and I support them. We have these monkeys as you call them worshiping us like we're gods and an army at the ready. I know you can feel it, he is gaining immense power, more than me, you, or Calgradni have combined. And we are his mercenaries. Or do you want to quit and explain it to him when he wakes up?" The bulky man asked.
"At least she's somewhere warm..."Slick haired muttered, glaring. "Alright, alright, I'll stay. But I just want some action!" The bluky man put slick haired down and went back to his meditating. For beings such as them, constraint was not one of their known characteristics, but the bulky man liked keeping his mind focused. He stared at the man frozen in ice, noticing a few more cracks on the ice.
"I await to serve you, my liege. I am your mercenary." The bulky man said aloud, a number of the beasts bowing before him in agreement.
The group soon reached a graveyard inside the ruins. When they arrived, Aleister was feeling pretty drained; so he sat down with his back next to a wall, in the hopes he could regain some of his magical power. Faunra soon joined him.
He then noticed that Atticus was adjusting some of the dials and switches on his weather reversal device. From the looks of it, Etrius was almost ready to take off.
"Whatever your planning to do Atticus, I'd make it quick, don't know how long I can keep this up. Despite that, Etrius, I think I just have enough power left to give you a boost up into the sky. Just give the word okay." Aleister said, then following it up with some breathing, to help him concentrate his remaining power. He occasionally flex his hands, where his physical stamina, wasn't as badly affected by all this.
Aleister then saw Etrius take off into the sky. With a bit of strength, he fired off a wind charge, just as Etrius broke through the shield. He managed to crack a brief smile, and laugh a little bit.
"Fly on, and fly well. Angel." He quietly said to himself.
Atticus handed the heat unit off to Etrius and he launched upwards. As he broke the surface of the shield, he felt the blast of Aleister's wind spell catch the underside of his wings and he rocketed upwards. At the last moment, he thought he heard commotion, a fight starting or something, but once the wind spell hit, all he could hear was air rushing past his ears.
Etrius spun and banked out of the way of ice spears, moving faster than he thought he could at a 90 degree angle. His speed was just barley beginning to drop when the shard hit him. It grazed the vertical length of his chest plate, almost cutting it in half. It didn't actually hit his body, but at these speeds, it threw him off. He felt the heat unit fall from his hand as the shard passed. On pure instinct, he changed his feet into talons and grasped it by one of the valves. The momentum of the fall killed more of his speed, but he didn't stop.
Just a few more seconds and he would be there. The air at this height would be too cold for a normal person to even move but Etrius didn't even feel it. As he rose higher, he could feel the heat of the unit begin to emerge, to combat the cold air; but it was't the heat from the unit that he felt in his chest. It was like his heart was pumping boiling water instead of blood. He felt like he was burning up, and the eye of the storm was only seconds away...
Prail watched her fellow traveller take to the air. She'd had no idea what she was to do. The storm raged around them, sure the cold she could take but wind was something completely different. Her home world was thinner atmospherically, this was fine normally but when the air moved too fast it was difficult.
Prail was trying to occupy herself someway until she was needed. She was curious as to her location the place looked so strange, didn't look like they were doing anything with the land, unless the stone markers meant anything.
Something wasn't right about the earth.
Time to investigate.
Prail began digging she could smell something, wait.
Were there bodies here?
The bird man rocketed upwards, breaking through the clouds in an instant. He was faster than they'd thought! The beast in mining suit tried to contain it's anger.
"No! The winged man should not be this fast! We've missed our chance, there's no possibly way I could stop him unless..."] The mining suit tensed its legs and felt its body ache slightly. He'd been training with the lords and being given some of their power. He was one of the first and earlier pupils and figured it was time to test these abilities.
Atticus had been looking up, watching Etirus as he rose ever but jumped back at the sound of the roar. Suddenly a tombstone a few feet away from Atticus exploded and he saw something rocket to the sky, right behind Etrius.
Etrius felt himself heating up, his body crying out in pain, but he muscled through. He would save this town no matter what stopped him. The device began to float away from his hands and Etrius released it, ready to dive back down as soon as he could. Suddenly he felt something fly past him. Through the gloves of the mining suit, he felt sharp claws poking through, some blood trickling from his neck. Even though he couldn't see the face of whatever was inside the suit, Etrius felt immense fury coming from it.
"You will not stop us, bird man! Crackling Day is upon us!" The mining suit began diving down, bringing Etrius with him.
Meanwhile, on the ground, the rest of the group had ran up to Atticus to see what the problem was. And then the problems presented themselves. One of the mining suits jumped off a building and landed behind Veritas a few feet away. It stood ready, claws sharpened. Another was wielding a pickaxe in one hand, swinging it in the air as warning. It landed a few feet away from Prail's tail. The next two stood on a few ruins, looking down. They were both poised, one claws ready another wielding a pickaxe. All of them had a blue mist floating around them.
And finally their current leader landed, slamming Etrius into the ground. As he stood up, Etrius lying on the ground, his own wings burst through the mining suit. His wings were scaly and hairy, torn up and beaten. They were horrifying in contrast to Etrius's wings. Instead of blue mist, blue fire engulfed the winged miner. They had surrounded the group.
"You shall not stop us!" The winged miner yelled, holding the device.
The fire in the young seraphim's chest would not let him feel pain. It was pushing forward from inside him, telling him to rise up and fight.
He leaped to his feet, which were still in talon form, and changed his hands as well. He drew his sword and pounced on the miner that had pulled him from the sky. His opponent lifted off and Etrius dived straight under him. He turned the dive into a roll and came out of it on his feet. He flew at the other winged figure, tackling him in the air. The impact to his stomach caused him to drop the heating unit, and it landed at Damien's feet.
"Veritas, move!" Caedis said as she saw one of the miners land behind him. Quickly she rushed forward with her spear and used the shield as an extra defense. The miner noticed Caedis first and lunged towards her with claws at the ready. Caedis saw this and threw her shield towards the miner knocking off balance due to its heavy weight. Caedis attacked swiftly slashing the creature's arms then kicking it away further from the group.
Whilst everyone else ran off towards Atticus to see what the problem was, Aleister sat calmly with his back towards the wall, his eyes shut, and in some sort of deep slumber. Suddenly, a loud thump could be heard. Four mysterious entities, dressed up in mining suits appeared to surround the group, but didn't take notice of the snoozing Aleister.
The first landed a few feet near Veritas, standing ready with its claws sharpened. Another, bearing a pickaxe, landed a few feet away from Prail's tail. Finally, there were two who stood on top of the nearby ruins, one with its claws ready, whilst the other wielding a pickaxe. All of them however, had an ethereal blue mist circling them. Then, the final guest for the party arrived.
This one had a much more imposing figure, obviously signifying its status, as a leader. Whilst it bore wings, they were not as elegant as Etrius. No, they were more organic in nature, they were both hairy and scaly at the same time, and been torn and broken in many places. It then stood forward, clutching the Elemental Predominanting Tool in its claw like hand. From the looks of it, the device had suffered some damage on its descent.
"You shall not stop us!" The winged miner roared. It was then that Aleister woke up from his slumber. There seemed to be an eerie glow emanating from his eyes, as if to say, that something was about to happen. He gave off a chuckle, but it didn't seem to attract attention.
"I guess its time-" Aleister remarked, before his voice suddenly changed "-for the Reaper to emerge once again. How I have been waiting."
The twin voices, suddenly became as one. They then spoke the words.
"In life, there is death. And in death, the reaper will answer the call of souls."
His form then began to change. Gone was the long leather coat. In its place, was the dark coloured suit and tailcoat. Whilst there was not much change in the trousers department, you could tell there was a difference. Black gloves, then appeared to place themselves on Aleister's hands. The shirt changed from light, to dark grey in an instant. On came the long combat boots. Finally, a hooded cloak formed from the ethereal mist of the graveyard, and placed itself over Aleister's head.
The dark red hair that once graced his presence, soon paled into white, and unfurled itself, going past his shoulders. Aleister could feel his eyes change colour, no longer were they violet, but a mixture of both green and yellow. Gone was Aleister Cole. Stood in his place, was Nathaniel Castor, Reaper for the Shinigami Order. With his power of teleportation, he shifted himself, to a nearby church spire, and held his hand out.
"Irkalla, I summon thee." The Reaper ordered, and a scythe soon appeared, he clutched at one end, allowing it to hang in the air, giving him a more grim appearance. Aleister, decided to address the group from his perch.
"Oh really? Not being able to stop this 'Crackling Day' are we? Well I highly doubt that you'll succeed. I see that Miss Caedis has already made her move." Aleister remarked, with sarcastic air quotes around 'Crackling Day'.
"Who the devil are you?" The head miner shouted. Aleister then began to insult the leader.
"You silly fool. I am not a Devil, I am a Reaper. Can't you tell the difference? Or are you too bone headed to realise that?" He then gave off a loud cackle, which seemed very haunting; appropriate for the setting.
"How dare you insult me! Come down and say that to my face!"
"Very well then, I shall." Aleister then leapt from his perch, and with a single swing of his scythe sent one of the lesser miners, crashing head first into a wall.
Now was not the time for half-measures, these creatures were obviously not seen by the residents of this level,if the look of disbelief on Conney's face was any indication, and he didn't recognize them from any of the stories he had read. The Winged Man was fighting in the sky, dodging and striking at his own opponent. In front of him stood two of them, pickaxes in hand, and held them as tools, not weapons, that much was certain.
He strode forth, over the unit that had dropped from the sky, and waded into the two of them. He did what he could to not be hit by them, but it was inevitable that they would strike his shield, send the force of the blow up his arm and into his still healing shoulder.There wasn't enough time to do much more than recognize the injury if there was one and push forth. He swung his sword and they both moved to block with their pickaxes, which quickly turned into nothing but handles. The jumped at him with malice in their eyes, swinging those wicked claws, but were unable to get a hold on him. He concentrated on one after knocking the other to the ground and held his sword in front of him, which prompted his current opponent to grab at it, to no avail, as it cut through his claws and fingers just as easily as when he had swung it at their picks. It screamed and fell to the ground, clutching the ruined hands to it's chest.
He spun to see the other having gotten back on his feet and was currently charging him, shoulder held low, claws prepared for the coming rending. Damien sidestepped and again tripped him, but the thing was better prepared for it this time and was able to get a claw into his helmet from the tear from Altimar earlier this day, ripping through it as it tore it off. A red line appeared across his forehead and into the middle of his cheek, though it had thankfully missed his eyes. It lay sprawled on the ground, helmet clutched in it's claws and it quickly recovered from it. It rolled out of the way of Damien's overhand chop, and continued rolling as the direction was changed, passing over the suit and clipping the miner, a hairsbreadth from truly wounding it. He got to his feet, and threw the helmet at the giant, who simply raised his shield and spun with the extra force given him, ripping through the beast's legs and turning the white snow red with both his blood and their own.
Etrius was about to claw out the miner's throat, but was knocked back by a knee to the gut.
"Pathetic bird man! You have know idea what you are up against!"
"I was about to saw the same thing to you!" Etrius roared as he flew back in.
The lead miner came at him in response and they clashed mid-air. Etrius had dropped his sword when the lead miner knocked him to the ground, so they began fighting claw-to-claw. They flew this way and that, up and down, a tornado of furious air-born combat. The seraphim got a lucky shot and raked his talons across the miner's ribcage.
The leader bellowed in pain, leaving himself open. Etrius struck out with his talons once more, and the miner raised his hand to defend. That was a mistake. Etrius wrapped his bird-like hand around the thing's wrist, and squeezed. His powerful avian claw snapped the bones in his opponent's wrist. He cried out again and the blue fire around him extended outward, hitting Etrius, to no affect.
The young seraphim briefly wondered why the flame didn't hurt him, but his train of thought was broken by the miner's claws cutting into his face. He could feel his left eye being punctured, and he screamed out. Both Etrius and the lead miner fell to the ground. Etrius' claws became hands and feet again, and he brought his palms up to cover his bleeding face. He struggled to his feet, only to find the lead miner was already in the air again, with his useless right hand dangling by his side.
"You will die here bird man!"
"You will die here bird man!"The leader in the mining suit yelled at Etrius.
The leader was getting aggravated. Suddenly a figure appeared at the top of a church spire. It criticized their planning, it criticized his intelligence. Most of his warriors were already down for the count. This should've been easy. Why wasn't it?! Most of the climbers weren't even fighting and his fighters was still getting their asses kicked. He clutched his useless arm and tore it clean off.
"Enough! The leader roared. "This is how you fight? Have you forgotten yourselves? No! We will not return to our lords ashamed!" Suddenly the blue flames coming off the leader jumped around, igniting the others in the mining suits. "You are not use to fighting enemies with actually strength. So I lend you some of mine, given to me by my the lords!" The injuries of his fighters began to heal and they acquired new found strength. "Go my brothers! Our lords shall rule this frigid land and we shall be their heralds!"
The leader dove at Etrius, guiding a punch towards the Seraphim. Etrius easily deflected it but then a claw slashed Etrius across the face. The leader's second arm had returned and Etrius could see it in full view. It was a spindly thing, but ripe with muscle, sharp claws on the end. Etrius admired this for only a moment and then the two charged at each other once more. Before they collided ,the leader flipped in mid air, arching over Etrius. He then delivered the back of his heal to Etrius's head and sent the Seraphim plummeting to the ground.
The Reaper dived towards the leader, scythe ready, but was stopped as he swung. The blue fire around the leader's hands morphed and solidified into two large and extremely sharp blades, blocking his scythe.
The other mining suits took off, attacking the group collective. Two of the miners charged at Damien, ready for revenge. Damien swung his sword once more, but instead found himself slicing through two ice statues of the miners. He then felt a strong kick to one side of his face and then a set of freshly sharpened claws slashing to his other. Damien was slightly disoriented but tried to recover.
Meanwhile the group dealt with the other two, both wielding pickaxes. The other two knew they were outnumbered so they kept moving. The jumped through the air at high speed, bouncing off walls and off each other, only getting in cheap shots. but these few hits hurt. Veritas was swiped off his feet and Zavier was raked across the back. Prail, Faunra, and Stonefuse formed a triangle but were still open to the quick flurry of attacks. Caedis had had enough and thrust her spear at one of the miners. The miner deflected it with a pickaxe, slamming it into the ground, and ran along it. He ran up to Caedis and slammed the butt of the pickaxe against her head.
Atticus grabbed the device from the ground and jumped behind a pillar. Atticus found Conney behind it, breathing heavily and clutching her rifle, tightly. She looked out from behind a pillar and took aim at the leader, her hands shaking. She pulled back into cover, too scared to actually shoot. Atticus was slightly worried, but didn't have time to be worried. He inspected the device, nothing bad only a few scratches. He let out a sigh of relief. This only lasted for a second before panic returned. The device began floating in his hands a bit, gears were whirring, valves were hissing, and all at ground level. This thing was dangerous at ground level, supposedly releasing a number of chemicals and other factors into the atmosphere to forcefully change it. Who knew what damage it could do at ground level!
Etrius landed a few feet away and Atticus ran up to him. Etrius was getting ready to get back in the fight when Atticus held the device, now sparking, whirring, and releasing strange fumes.
"Etrius, listen, get back up there! This thing is about to engage and I'd rather not have this happen down here!" Suddenly, the ground beneath them began to crack and more miners emerged. Some jumped off rooftops, others from from the streets, all untouched by the storm.
"Wait, the storm..." Atticus looked around, realizing that storm had picked up strength and entire houses were falling apart.
But none of the shards were landing near the ruins.
Atticus didn't have time to question this, a group of miners running at the three of them. Conney finally got up and began firing, her own rifles ice shards careening through the air.
"Dammit bird boy, you heard him! Get the hell out of here, we'll handle this!" Conney yelled, firing off a few more shots and only managing to slow down a few of the miners. Atticus handed the device to Etrius.
Faunra had been sitting next to the resting Aleister. She never understood magic - it drained its user of his or her energy but left them physically unaffected, it could break the very rules of the world, and it invariably had a cost. She had never much known what to do about casters; against magic she had little defense aside from that bestowed on her by her elven heritage. What more, she never knew what to do for casters who had expended their power. Several of her "family" had been a mages. One was a simple illusionist who covered their tracks. When she expended too much magic, she would start to cough up blood. Another had been a healer, taking care of the wounds their activities always seemed to generate. He claimed his power was drawn from the tower itself and that when he died, he would become part of it rather than whatever afterlife thieving humans went to.
Whatever form of magic someone used, their were always costs - Aleister's cost seemed to be extreme exhaustion. He would never admit it, but his brief rest consisted of a troubled turning and breaking into a cold sweat. Faunra did what she could, padding away the excess fluid with the cuff of her now-dry cowl.
Then the "miners" attacked.
While she thought "miners", they seemed to be far more than that. All she saw of them was blue magical light and razor sharp claws. They leapt from the graves of the towns ancestors like miners undead, rending the tombstones as the passed. Faunra, acting on instinct ducked down, using the obscuring power of her cloak to hide her presence. It worked. Using her hard-won stealth, she slipped behind the nearest rock, ready to use her bow to make a well placed strike to the head of the nearest unsuspecting enemy. She settled her breathing, synchronizing it with her heart, and pulled taut the bow string. Then she heard it; a barely audible chuckle.
She ducked behind the nearest cover to defend herself from the unseen threat. In the same voice that she now recognized as Aleister, she heard the sound of his voice buried in his breath. "I guess its time-" Aleister remarked, before his voice suddenly changed "-for the Reaper to emerge once again. How I have been waiting." The change was jarring. risking a glance, she caught sight of Aleister, still sitting with his back to the wall. The two voices became one and spoke once more "In life, there is death. And in death, the reaper will answer the call of souls." His eyes opened, revealing yellow-green glowing eyes. His form changed into that of another - the being they had seen during the fight with Calgradni - then disappeared with a slight popping sound.
"What have you done Aleister." she mumbled, unable to contain her shock. "What kind of devil did you deal with to gain this power; what did you pay?" she thought. She would have continued to wonder had more pressing concerns not been present - such as the miner who had crept upon her, stabbing out with his claw. Were it not for her hearing, her reflexes, and a bit of luck, the miner would have ended her there, but she turned in time to block the blow with the metal plate Caedis had given her. The metal deformed inward under the blow and Faunra felt her arm buckle slightly under the pressure - sure to leave a bruise for the following morning; assuming she lived that long.
Unable to maintain her position, she withdrew from that particular fray, backing to join Stonefuse and Prail in their defensive triangle. She continued to back away, getting between Prail and Stonefuse. Faunra, unlike her defensive partners, was rather squishy and desired to maintain her range for the time being. Trusting Prail and Stonefuse to keep her flank, Faunra drew arrow after arrow, firing them relentlessly into the miners. Most of these shots bounced from the well-armored miners, but a few seemed to connect to great effect - causing them to back away in pain. Unfortunately, her supply of arrows was neither endless nor large, and the number of arrows in her quiver quickly dwindled. As her supply became short, she noticed the miners seemed to shake off their injuries regardless of how grievance they might be to normal beings. "I hate magic" Faunra coughed out, taking another shot - this one through a glass plate covering the eye socket of a miner.
"Any good ideas Stonefuse? Prail? Because I'm fresh out." she called out to her companions, indicating her now empty quiver while drawing her new daggers.
Aleister quickly pushed back on the encroaching blades, forged from ethereal fire, that were commanded by the head miner, by using the curved blade of his scythe. The two quickly exchanged glancing blows with one another, each doing potentially critical damage, if it weren't for the combatants high stamina and endurance. They suddenly locked blades, and he thought to engage in a bit of banter. He then gave a roguish look towards his opponent.
"I must say, didn't know that this dog had bite. It will be such a shame, when we have to put you down." Aleister remarked in a rather sarcastic manner, in an attempt to infuriate his opponent. He then followed up his insult, by breaking the sword lock, and causing a visible cut on the lead miner's chest. The man howled in pain as he staggered backwards. His wounds soon healed.
"What makes you think, that you, and these climbers will defeat us? I have the power of the lords on our side, and we shall prevail!"
"Interesting." The Reaper thought, as he saw the cut heal. His attention then focused on the statement made.
"Oh, great, a religious fanatic. You know that these kinds of fights never end well for you lot at times. Blindly following your faith and gods, in some vain hope, that they will save you in your darkest hour. How... pathetic."
"How dare you smear their good name! We shall prevail!" The lead miner roared, as with great force, shunted Aleister into a nearby ruin, but still reeling from the pain of the attack. Aleister then proceeded to dust himself down.
He quickly saw, that Faunra, Prail, and Stonefuse were in trouble, as they were beseeched by one of the miners with his razor sharp claw stretched out. Before he could act however, several ice shards fell towards him. He quickly danced around them, catching them in his free hand.
"Perfect,-Aleister thought, as he twirled the miniature shards in his hand. "-these ought to make decent throwing knives. Hey you, don't you dare hurt my friends." He shouted towards the miner attacking Faunra. Aleister then threw the ice shards, each one embedding themselves into his target. The miner reeled back in pain, as Aleister leapt over to Faunra's aid.
Suddenly out of the corner of his eye, he could see the head miner charging right at Faunra, both his swords at the ready to strike. Aleister quickly turned his back to Faunra, and raised his scythe in defence. He accepted the strike intended for his girlfriend, which struck him right in both shoulders. Weirdly though, he felt little pain. He then turned his head to face the miner.
"How dare you... attack my girlfriend. Guess I have no choice but to kill you." He then teleported them to another corner of the graveyard. The head miner was shocked by how anyone could survive that attack.
"Impossible! Just what are you?"
"I am a Grim Reaper, you fool. A ferryman for the souls of the deceased. Mortal blows are a mere inconvenience. You think that you were going to getaway with attacking those who I care about? You are sorely mistaken." Aleister then raised his scythe in challenge of a duel.
"Very well then Ferryman/Winged Miner, let us finish this. En Garde!" The pair of them announced in unison, as they continued with their duel.
Etrius grabbed hold of the heating unit and rocketed into the sky. Hot air was radiating from the machine and his own body. With the winged miner distracted, he would end this storm. But as he flew higher, icy winds began to push him back, as if the storm itself was fighting back. But he would not give up. He unleashed an ear-splitting avian shriek as he broke through the clouds and released the heater.
The storm clouds began dissipating almost immediately. Giving Etrius a moment to catch his breath. For the first time he realized he was bleeding profusely from the slash on his face, and some of his ribs were no doubt broken. The pain began to seep in and his breath grew ragged. He descended as fast as he could without hurting himself, and landed in the snow just outside the gate of the ruins. His fresh red blood sharply contrasting with his white form and the snow around him. He laid on his front, allowing his wings to stretch out on the soft white ground. Then he rested.
Ok they'd defended long enough.
Prail burst out a swarm of flyers to go out and attack. They started trying to rip into a few of the enemies using the power of numbers. A few birds managed to ground one of two of their enemies allowing Prail to deliver a divisive blow to their brains.
It wasn't swift work but she did her best to maintain defence. She was lunged at but fairly agilely for her Prail side stepped unfortunately this disrupted the triangle so even though the lunger now had a spike through their chest so you win some you lose some.
Blood ran down Caedis' face from the miner's attack. Her vision turned red, and her anger soon became palpable in the air around her.
"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" Caedis yelled out suddenly. She sprinted forwards and the miner tried to attack by swinging his pickaxe at Caedis once more but she ducked underneath the swipe and caught his arm. She brought her knee upwards and broke the miner's arm with a resounding crack. Caedis didn't relent as she continued forward and brought the miner to the ground. Then she got on the injured miner and began punching his face over and over again.
"DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE!" Caedis yelled as she landed punch after punch onto the miner's face. It was unrelenting as Caedis didn't stop until the miner's face was a bloodied mess, rendered concave from the battering. Her knuckles her cut and bleeding, probably broken as well but Caedis didn't care. Her rage had consumed her again and at this point, it was almost impossible to stop.
Cecilia was primarily trying to keep out of the way as everyone began to fight in brawls and melees. Grabbing some chunks of stone and mortar both from the walls, her arms could easily hurl small chunks with precision.
Carefully aiming and trying not to hit any of the climbers, she drew back her arm(s).
Fighting. Why does everyone always have to fight.
"Any good ideas Stonefuse? Prail? Because I'm fresh out."
"Squish them so they can't regenerate." And with that, Stonefuse charged at the three 'miners' that were making their way towards Atticus and Conney, trying to intercept them. Thanks to Conneys shots, he managed to do just that. While they were distracted by the icicles projected at them, Stonefuse jumped on them, intent on placing them in the very uncomfortable place between himself and the ground. One of them, sadly, noticed him in time to move out of the way.
Blood and entrails covering the ground around him, Stonefuse figured they won't be getting up again. Rising to his feet, blood dripping off and entrails slipping off of him, he made his way to the next group that wasn't paying attention to him.
Stonefuse ran up and body slammed one of the miners. There was a deafening crunch and the miner was left lying there, bones broken in a few hundred places. A few of them were down for count. Stonefuse ran off to intercept another group of unknowing victims. Atticus pulled out his slingshot and fired at the group of miners, a few coming out of the ground now. Atticus groaned.
"Why does crap like this always happen to us? Everything is fine and dandy for other climbers but as soon as we arrive, things go to shit!" Atticus yelled, firing a few explosive pellets at a wall. The wall collapsed, trapping and crushing a number of miners.
"This is a regular thing for you guys?!" Conney asked, tilting her head.
"Eeyup." Atticus looked up, watching Etrius rise higher.
Etrius held onto the device with a talon. It was shaking, spinning, shifting, heating up, excreting liquids, expelling chemicals, and overall was unpleasant to be around. He continued rising, his body heating up again. He felt the device begin to float away from him and released it. His body felt like it was on fire at that point, the cold of the storm being the least of his problems. His job complete, he let himself plummet to the ground, his blood boiling.
"Squish them so they can't regenerate." Stonefuse responded, rushing forward into the enemy line. Prail, who in retrospect lacked the specific communication skills to answer he question did much the same, attacking in concert with her flyers.
Lacking any better ideas, she bolted forward into the fray. As she did, the one of the miners she had hit, evident by one of the arrows buried in his arm, moved to close, attacking with his claw. She swung the shield up, batting the claw aside, and followed by putting on of her daggers in the creatures throat. The creature stumbled back, its wound already starting to knit. She had planned to follow forward with the attack and "squish" the enemy as Stonefuse had so elegantly put it, but she found herself disrupted by a yell from behind her. The leader of the miners charged forward, his swords raised forward. Lacking proper time to react, all Faunra could do was hunker down behind her damaged shield and wait for the blow.
It never came. Chancing a peak around the shield, she found the transformed Aleister standing before her, blood dripping from his shoulders where the blades had struck. "How dare you... attack my girlfriend. Guess I have no choice but to kill you." he said, as the blades were pulled from his shoulder. Then he disappeared as he had before, engaging the miner from another side. "Idiot; you're going to blow your secret if you shout "girlfriend" everywhere." she thought, retreating from the magically charged fight.
With her enemies otherwise occupied, Faunra found herself in a calm. She took the moment to take stock of the fight. Stonefuse and Prail seemed to be holding their own, Damien was being his juggernaut self, the new women seemed to be striking with what support she could in the form of rocks, Caedis seemed to have lost herself in the fight, and Aleister was engaged with the leader. Conney was covering Atticus, who was trying to regain his foothold after handing over a device to Etrius, who she could not find. "Where did he..." Faunra began to wonder, before noticing the bleeding, unconscious form of the bird-man.
Faunra paled. "NOT GOOD!" her mind screamed, as she bolted to the downed companion. A miner tried to stop her from reaching the resting warrior so she threw her new daggers, pushing the miner back into Caedis's warpath. Faunra slid to a stop beside the fallen angel, grabbed her medical kit, and proceeded to patch the more grievance of her companions wounds.
Three more of the creatures had clawed their way out of the ground and the two he had wounded before had begun to regenerate. He quickly finished off the one just beginning to regain it's legs, but the one with the claws had regrown both fingers and claws, which immediately disappeared along with his head, spurting blood and leaving it rolling along the now melting red snow.
Two more charged for him, though these ones seemed used to fighting together, weaving in and out of each other's path, it was almost beautiful and harkened back to the twins that fought together so well. It was almost sad that he had perfected that maneuver years ago and knew the right counter. He charged into the middle of them as they landed from one of their hops, sending both of them sprawling and leaving them more or less defenseless. They'd spent too much time fighting as one that they couldn't fight alone, they kept leaving themselves open, the first was a simple thrust to the chest, the other even easier since he gave up when the other fell.
The third one had ran off in the direction of Caedis, who seemed in a rage, swinging her spear around to bash one enemy while she spun it and skewered one next to her. The third had gotten inside of her spear and was behind her, claws raised. There wasn't much else he could do, he couldn't get there before the attack fell, perhaps this would make it not kill her. He visualized the thing's head inside the helmet,inside the glass plate and whispered,"TINE."
Both the head of the miners, and Aleister, were putting up both a powerful attack and strong defence against one another; each of them not giving the other an opening. It was then that there was a rumbling down below, and soon more miners appeared underneath.
"Excellent! More of my brothers appear. It seems whatever advantage you thought that these climbers possessed, has disappeared. We now possess numbers greater than you. Surrender yourself now." The head miner ordered. Aleister gave off a slight chuckle.
"What are you finding so funny? Don't you see that these people have lost. He asked, confused by what the Reaper was doing. He was then gestured to look above him by the cackling Reaper.
"Don't you see, this battle, has merely been a delaying tactic. Whilst we've been battling amongst the dead, the warrior angel, has deployed the device, that should halt your precious 'Crackling Day'. Face it, you've lost. Surrender now, and I shall give you, an honourable last rites." The miner soon flared up in anger.
"NO! The Crackling Day shall not be halted. If I cannot stop that machine, I shall destroy it." He then flew up into the air, in a last ditch attempt to halt the weather machine, and its capabilities. Aleister then twirled the scythe in his hand a few times, before deciding how to stop that mad miner.
"Not on my watch I think." Aleister thought to himself, as he began shifting up the tower, each time, letting loose a random magic spell, to try and slow down the miner's flight. It was just before the head miner reached the device, that Aleister managed to grab a hold of him.
"You know, the best way of grounding a bird, is to clip its wings." He remarked, in a rather cold hearted manner. It took a few attempts, but thanks to the enhanced strength, Aleister managed to rip off one of the head miners wings, causing him to roar with pain. The pair soon descended into a free fall, their destination, the church that was attached to the graveyard.
"How dare you ruin my form with your filthy hands. I shall smash you to a pulp." He shouted, the two then engaged in a free fall fist fight. Each successful punch from one, was countered with a defensive block from the other. As they neared the church, Aleister gained the upper hand; first with a right hook to the miner's jaw, then he brang both fists onto the miner's head, sending him crashing through the church roof.
Aleister barely had enough time to use his scythe to catch a nearby ledge. The head miner soon regained consciousness, and started taking swipes at the Reaper with his claws. This was countered, by Aleister delivering a few sharp kicks, knocking the miner back each time. He then jumped down from the roof, and re engaged the miner with his scythe.
Caedis didn't notice the miner behind her catch into flames from Damien's spell. All she was focused on was dispensing her rage in the worst, and fastest ways imaginable onto her attackers. She was fighting two of them now directly over the corpse of the one she bashed his head in. Caedis couldn't hear the words escaping out of her fellow climbers' mouths but only her heartbeat and a the muffled sounds of the world around her.
The one that she impaled on her spear came back, pulling the spear out of his body and chucking it Caedis. She ducked, nearly being impaled on her own spear and picked up a bloodied pickaxe from the ground. Caedis leaped forward and dug the pickaxe into the miner's stomach sending more blood onto the darkened snow. She pulled the weapon out, pivoted and swung it upwards at the offending footsteps behind her. The sharpened pick lodged itself into the head of a miner she bludgeoned earlier. Then Caedis' head snapped back being pulled by its hairs. The miner with the disemboweled stomach grabbed her short head of hair intent on slitting her throat with a dagger. But as soon as his hand came around, Caedis snapped forward biting into the miner's thumb making the dagger fall onto the ground. While the miner flinched in pain, Caedis grabbed the arm and flipped the miner into the ground. She raised her metal boot and brought it down onto the miner's head crushing it.
Cecilia hurled stones, stomped, kicked, and tossed any of the minor miners that she got to. Her limbs ghosting around her so it was as if 4 of her were fighting at once back to back.
Seeing the other climbers strike, crush, and bash those around them, she wasn't really surprised as magic ensued, Caedis raging, and the gore (though the Stone one was giving her a brief shudder).
Looking around she worked her way to defend the winged one and Faunra(?), partially to help, and to stay out of Caedis's way.
"Need a hand?" She quickly asked hurling a grave marker at another miner (was it bad luck to save someone with a grave stone?), she smiled despite the fighting at an age old joke.
"Need a hand?" Faunra heard as she bandaged the injured companion. Taking a moment to turn around, she saw the newest companion hurl a grave marker at a miner using a pair of spectral limbs, a smile on her face.
It took Faunra a moment before the she noticed the joke. "Thanks, but be careful; if Caedis hears you making puns, she'll go crazy." She responded. After a slight delay, Faunra continued. "Well... crazier" Faunra concluded while watching Caedis tear another miner apart.
Her back now secured, Faunra started to bandage Etrius. The angelic being had several deep gashes in his face and neck including severe damage to his eye, a number of gashes from his time unprotected from the fury of the storm, and a number of broken ribs. The last of these injuries was the most serious, as it became apparent the broken ribs had punctured something internally, allowing blood to pool in his chest cavity. Worse, there was little she could do for internal injuries. Fortuitously however, the angel seemed to be breathing, all be it with some difficulty.
With Etrius bleeding both internally and externally, Faunra's first goal was to stanch as much of the bleeding as she could. She started by applying some adhesive to the wounds on his neck, face, arms, and chest. They were the least serious of the wounds, but their stoppering would buy her much needed time. When that was done, she moved to the man's ribs.
Pulling up her sleeves, she pushed the ribs back into place. Etrius visibly cringed and let loose an audible gasp at the pain, then returned to his resting state, his breathing less labored. Faunra wiped the blood from her hands on the snow covered ground and followed by wiping the sweat from her brow.
Next came the injury that was the most difficult - his eye. The eye had been pierced, and from it flowed a steady stream of clear fluid. Faunra had little experience with eye damage but she knew the basics. Making another rag from her shirt, she took some of the nearby ice and placed it lightly over the wound. It was far from perfect, but it would have to do.
The other injuries addressed, she turned back to the chest wound, looking to see if the blood was still pooling. It was, but to a lesser extent than it had been before. Needing to keep the blood in his vital areas,Faunra used her hands to pull in as much snow as she could and made several large piles. The then used these piles to elevate his arms, legs, and wings. It was hardly a comfortable position, but it was all she could do.
"You had better hang on Etrius, I don't want all this effort to go to waste." she muttered to no one.
Aleister had to put up a stronger defence than usual in this fight with the head miner, since he attacked with increased strength and rage. Every strike from the miner's swords, were quickly blocked by the Reaper's scythe. Suddenly a strike came from nowhere, and Aleister found himself raised off the ground, his neck being squeezed by the miner's claw like hand. The miner then smirked.
"For an annoying pest, you certainly have the stamina and endurance to defend against my attacks. Unfortunately though, now it is time for you to perish, little Reaper." He then let out a might roar of laughter, as he was about to snap Aleister's neck in two. The miner could then feel a sudden blow on his chest, and Aleister then hit him with a punch, that was imbued with shadows. The miner was then sent reeling back, crashing into an angelic like statue. Aleister then focused some of his energy, and caused the statue to topple on top of the miner, but not killing him.
"There, that should hold you in place for a while." The Reaper remarked, who proceeded to leave the broken down church, and back into the main foray of the battle.
He could see that Caedis had gone into some sort of blood rage, and was striking down miners left and right. Damien was dealing with a few miners that went after Faunra, and could hear the use of those words of power. Conney and Atticus, were supporting each other, and were soon assisted by Stonefuse, who was smashing the miner's head together. Prail was sending out her flyers as a potential distraction. Etrius, lay badly beaten and bruised, his wounds being tended greatly to by Faunra, he lay amongst a pile of snow to help staunch the bleeding. Finally, there was the newcomer to the group, Amanda, who helped keep Faunra safe, by using the gravestones, as make shift ammunition.
However a group of about seven or eight miners, overheard the commotion going on in the church and began to engage the Reaper. Aleister merely smiled and laughed, "Fools." He thought, as he cut through them without much struggle with his scythe, their souls appearing as ethereal orbs. They soon disappeared into the sky. Aleister then began to wonder the battlefield, dealing with miner's as he went. One of them tried to sneak up on him, and threw a pickaxe, but with enhanced reflexes, Aleister caught the pick, and casually tossed it back, impaling the miner in the head, and it soon collapsing to the floor.
"They must be running out of miners soon to throw at us."
Atticus and Conney were defending themselves pretty well, a bit too well if Atticus had any say in the matter. It seem as though these miners, or whatever the hell were wearing the suits, weren't used to combat, or at least combat against enemies who knew how to defend themselves. The entire group was handling themselves amazingly well, only a few of the "miners" getting a few lucky hits in before either being silenced by a tail whip, golem body slam, spear, sword, pellet, etc, etc. Atticus was almost having fun. that was until he looked up and realized the storm hadn't stopped. For whatever reason, the shards weren't falling on this area, near the castle ruins nor the church or graveyard that adjoins it. However, the storm was still raging on, no sign of anything manipulating it.
"Is the device even still functional?" Atticus quickly thought before he heard Conney screaming next to him. One of the miners was clawing into her arm even though she was repeatedly shooting at his gas mask point blank. He pulled out the Rod, charged it quickly and gave the miner a furious jolt. The miner recoiled but recovered quickly. Atticus swung the rod, but the miner caught it and began delivering a number of blows to Atticus's chest.
The inventor staggered back, and felt his sides squeezed before he was flung through the air. He passed by a raging Caedis, Faunra kneeling over an injured Etris, Stonefuse as he slammed another miner, Prail and her flyers attacking, Nathan swinging away with his sword, Amanda as her ghost limbs threw rocks, Zavier with his own blade, Atticus tearing apart miners, Veritas manipulating the snow, and finally through a crowd of miner's being torn apart by a hooded figure. Atticus landed in the graveyard against a tombstone.
As he landed, Atticus noted a distinct sound of glass breaking but didn't have time to locate it because a group of miners were running at him. He attempted to lift his slingshot and fire but felt the broken stone slabs of another tombstone on his arm. Before the miners could reach him, Atticus used his free hand to reach into his belt and grab a couple of tornado traps, throwing them at the miners and simply watching them be swept away by the vortexes of air. Atticus lifted the tombstone remnants off his arm and shakily stood up, looking at the grave he'd landed against.
"Sorry about landing on you Mr or Mrs-" Atticus stopped mid-sentence as he noticed what he'd landed on. The tombstone was slightly cracked, due to Atticus's impact, but their was a small framed picture at the foot of the grave. It was a woman carrying a large backpack, a number of other tools and devices hung out, and propping herself up with a pickaxe. She had a steely look of determination on her face, along with some coal dust. It was the same face he'd seen all around town.
Even with the tombstone cracked, Atticus could make out these words:
"Here lies Elise Lorenzus Pick. Beloved wife, mother, and Admired Miner of Old Eisengrad. May the Fates allow her rest."
Atticus stepped away from the tomb, quickly looking back between it and the fighting that was still raging behind him. Most of the miners were falling to the ground but Atticus didn't take the moment to admire this, his brain processing a bit. "Well, that explains a few things..." Atticus said quietly before limping back to the fight.
The lead miner simply laid there, viewing his options. He could easily push the statue off him, but then what? This pest, this "reaper" was obviously a force to be reckoned with. If he got up and attempted to fight the reaper, he'd most likely find himself back at this stalemate. For whatever reason, even after years of training, he could not reach the lord's level of powers. His own fighters were not ready for this type of confrontation, they were only used to occasional attacking and abducting certain townsfolk or small skirmishes against their pointy eared adversaries, not fighting the likes of these climbers. If they retreated, they might be able to regain strength and he could find actual warriors to fight along side him. Not the weaklings he currently had fighting the climbers. But if he did retreat, his lords would no doubt punish him.
"Curse you reaper!" The lead miner said shooting out from under the statue, causing it to burst into a number of large fragments. He rose into the sky and hovered there. "I refuse to return defeated! I will destroy you, you pest!" The blue flames around him began to grow and his wings enlarged. Under his suit, parts of it's body began to bulge and morph.
"This is the power of my lord! This is the power they have given me! And this is the power I shall use to crush you-" The miner stopped as he felt a blade around his neck.
"Oh would you give it a rest?"Aleister pulled back and a miner's wings dispersed a flurry of flames, causing him to plummet to the ground. Aleister landed next to the broken miner to watch his soul extinguish, and saw the soul of a dragon leave this world. But as he stared that miner's remains, he still felt some sort of soul within the body. The lead miner jumped to his feet, furious eyes staring through a broken gas mask. Aleister took a few moment to think about this but decided it would be easier to just end it all here and ask questions later. Aleister raised his scythe.
"Brothers!" The lead miner yelled as Aleister swung down. "Escape!" Aleister brought his scythe down but only sliced through an ice statue that quickly crumbled apart. All the miners, even the ones lying on the ground, froze before either being smashed or simply falling apart on their own accord. Atticus looked at the scene and began to laugh a bit.
"Haha, I can't believe I got worried for a second. These guys weren't worth shi-" Atticus paused as a gigantic ice shard landed in front of him. And then another. And then another. Suddenly it was raining ice shards and Atticus found himself scrambling behind Stonefuse. Even though the golem appeared to be absorbing the huge shards, he still stumbled back with each hit.
"Aleister, where are you! We could use your that spell!" Atticus yelled. Suddenly the reaper rose above the ruins and Aleister used his spell, covering the group spread across the ruins. Even with the enhanced power given to him by the reaper, it took Aleister all his might to hold off the now enhanced storm. "Wait, who is that?! And why did he just...no way."
Atticus looked up at the swirling clouds and followed the flight paths of the falling shards. A couple of houses were obliterated in an instant, a few screams rising before extinguishing. Atticus then noted a tiny speck, the clouds rapidly swirling around it. Realization suddenly hit the inventor.
"What have I done?" Atticus muttered to himself. The storm reached it's crescendo and it took all of Aleister's might to hold the shield. All of a sudden, the device emitted a shockwave, parting the clouds on all sides. Aleister was sent plummeting towards the ground and suddenly everything just...stopped. The clouds were gone, parting quickly, replaced by a night sky that slowly grew brighter as the sun rose over the cliffs. Aleister's reaper form flickered away.
"I think that might have been a bigger challenge than fighting the lead miner." Aleister uttered aloud. The rest of the group walked up the him and the device slowly floated down, sparks and steam flying from it before it finally landed on the ground with a loud thud. Atticus retrieved it.
"So, um...mission accomplished. I suppose..." Atticus said, a look of bleak pride and terror mixed into his face. Caedis happened to be standing next to him, still bleeding and blood running down her face. She just stood there, breathing heavily, not saying anything. Atticus noticed this and walked over.
"Um, Caedis you can calm down now." She didn't acknowledge Atticus. "Maybe you should take a seat." He laid a hand on her shoulder to get her attention and she punched Atticus in the face.
Oh :( , Prail tried to hide her disappointment and discomfort of the end of the storm.
She investigated the machine as it came back to the earth. Trying to think of things other than the weather.
The birds she'd released returned to her fusing into her skin as they usually did. Her mind was filled with the information they'd gathered, she often felt like things were happening in retrospect then again that was the way satellite organisms were.
She Surveyed the scene, looks like they'd all made it out alive.
Prail picked up a pick axe left by one of them, investigating it. She couldn't help but laugh at the thing.