- August 15, 2021
Raydorn: The War in the Black (Chapter 4)
“We signed up for war, boys and girls, and it wasn’t going to wait for you to start.”
– Andelyn Stella, 448 A.C.A.
Andy heard them coming first. The sound of greaves clanking against the marble floor set off her nerves.
The sound of Stormguard always set her off.
Like the drunken fool she was, she stumbled her way to the loud sounds, took what was left of the highly flammable moonshine, and opened the door. She saw three of each man, but that was enough to know that armed men were coming for them while they were partying.
Andy looked at the bottle of moonshine and thought, You hit too hard for something that tastes like lemons.
Then she threw it at the crystals.
About to learn why Starshield doesn’t sell light crystals to regular people.
She turned towards the door and damn near lost her hearing from the boom.
The flickering sound of fire followed, and then came the sounds of screams. The Black Legion had stopped partying after the explosion, but their happiness truly sank into unfamiliarity when a Stormguard ran in screaming as he burned alive.
Malum’s assassin put him down quick, clothed in black and a mask just like him. Andy assumes they’re whoever Quintus asked to watch her, how else would they have reacted so fast?
Andy looked into the doorway as the wall began to collapse and block their way. With only two other ways out, we could find ourselves in a kill box. Better…
Andy’s train of thought stopped as she felt herself getting nauseous, To make matters worse, all eyes in the room were falling onto her. That’s when she realized, Fuck, am I the most senior person here?
Fuck that, like on a stick, stick it into the fire, burn the pointy end, then literally shove that stick up this situation’s butt, because I’m too washed to be in charge.
Let’s ‘inspiring speech the shit out of this so everyone gets out of here and I can throw up in peace.
“We signed up for war, boys and girls, and it wasn’t going to wait for you to start,” she told them, “so pick up your swords and shields and spears and get as many people up and fighting to our ships.”
When nobody moved, at least, as far as Andy’s swaying line-of-sight could tell, she yelled at them, “Did I fucking stutter?! Move or die, people!”
That got them going, at least as far as she could tell. The bile moved up her throat so fast, she couldn’t spend the time to find out.
She found a bucket in her hands right before she threw up, and someone pulling her hair out of the way of her face, even as she fell.
When Andy finished, she looked up and found Malum’s assassin looking down at her.
“Thank you… miss?” Andy asked her as if she could get one of the assassins to share something like that.
The assassin only tilted her head. She waited, checking the room to see who was left as they all poured out, but Andy couldn’t see that on account of the assassin’s mask and her intoxication.
“How did you know I was a woman?” the assassin asked.
“I’ve met only one man in my life whose thought to pull back my hair as I threw up,” Andy told her as she thought she might puke again. “It’s ironic that that man was Quintus…”
“Since he doesn’t have hair?” the assassin finished for her.
“Yeah, how did you know?” Andy joked as if they weren’t just attacked by a platoon of elemental soldiers.
The assassin returned in kind, “I’ve seen him around here and there.”
“Now what do we do?”
Andy gave the assassin a sideways look from over her bile-filled bucket. “You’re asking me?”
“As head of our medical division, you are the most senior accounted-for individual in the Black Legion at the moment, and you commanded the room well enough, despite how you slurred your words…
“You’re all we have at the moment.”
“That’s terrifying and a bit sad.” And something I need to fix, stat.
“You want an order?” Andy said as she found herself back on her feet. “Get me another bottle, something that will light the walls on fire if I need-”
Andy looked down at the bottle in the assassin’s hand bewildered.
“I was listening to the conversion with the bartender. I grabbed several to use as weapons.”
Andy’s eyes only narrowed on the woman as she slowly took the bottle of what smelled like more moonshine to her.
“I’m gonna take this,” she said, “and I’m going to find the others.” Then Andy pointed to the assassin, who leaned back, which told Andy she might be leaning forward. “You go to Lucilla’s ship, rally Jack’s trainees and Astrid’s little… cult, and anyone else on the way to defend it and as many ships as you can. Lucy’s little fleet has the biggest and fastest ships we have. They’ll get us out of here if Raydorn is trying to trap us in.”
“So?” Andy said with a raised eyebrow.
Andelyn waited for the argument to come, that she’s in no shape to go it alone. I’ve fought worse scraps while puking my guts out, I don’t need a babysitter and if she thinks I do, then Malum’s little-
“I’ll do what you say, good luck.”
The assassin was gone before Andy finished blinking her eyes.
Andy looked around and found herself alone in the large drinking hall. Its emptiness was quite literally a testament to how each and everyone had listened to her.
She placed her fists on her hips and thought, “Huh, yay-ulk!”
Thankfully, no one saw her throw up again.
“This feels oddly personal,” Amidala said as Astrid came straight for her, ax blazing hotter than a smith’s furnace. Kan Bujian’s blade grew to a size beyond what the short woman appeared able to swing until the veins and muscles in her arms pulsed with unseen strength.
“Hrraahh!!!” Astrid screamed as she slammed the ax down towards Amidala’s head.
The fire from the ax erupted and blanketed the ceiling.
The legionnaires and the acolytes were stunned by the fiery display, all more or less distracted with the flames that would burn any one of them.
Then came the blue glow, that shined from underneath the dying flames. The blue glow hummed, and with that hum, the flames were dispersed, showing the bubble that Astrid’s ax had failed to cut through.
From underneath her shield, Amidala looked up at Astrid, holding her chin.
Astrid growled down at her, her ax smoking and threatening to ignite again.
“No,” Amidala said and shook her head, “I’m sure I would remember you and that underbite.”
Then Amidala spoke her magic words. “Vade retro.”
“You fucking witch!” Astrid screamed as she was sent flying back.
Amidala told her, “It’s fucking bitch to you,” as she watched Quintus leap to catch Astrid. As they crashed to the ground, Amidala muttered her magic words to float her cup of wine to her hand.
Before she took a sip, she complained, “Witches aren’t real, don’t be stupid.”
Jack watched as Astrid wrestled her way off Quintus, and then saw the Aurora Knight back on his feet.
“Kion,” Jack said, as he watched his lover raise his sword, and then he shouted, “Kion!”
The Aurora Knight moved to intercept Astrid as she went after the apathetic Amidala again.
It was clear to Jack that Astrid saw red, and her eyes didn’t glance in the Aurora Knight’s direction. She wasn’t seeing how the Aurora Knight was raising his blade for her head.
Following the sound of flowing winds and rippling pages of paper, Jack’s sword clanged against the Aurora Blade. With an impact, Jack’s winds flew around them, and the aurora lights that give the blade its name combed around him.
Jack was nearly in a full squat under the weight of the Aurora Knight’s strength. Over his shoulder, Jack could see Astrid running for Amidala again with acolytes in her way. These she fought in turn.
“Great, she saw them apparently,” Jack grumbled to himself before the weight against him was lifted.
Jack righted his focus in time for the Aurora Knight to send him rolling across the ground.
Footsteps surrounded Jack, and he rose to his feet towards the sound.
Before the first knife-wielding acolyte came at him, the black mass had appeared like the wind, cutting one across the back before moving on to the next.
As that first acolyte fell to the ground, he held his throat as his veins turned black and foam poured out of every orifice.
The second blocked a strike from the assassin, but not the second cut against her hand, and she fell much the same.
Jack send the third flying straight into the wall with a blast of the wind, where she hit the wall with a sickening snap.
Jack was ready for the last one, but the assassin beat him to it. The acolyte was running headfirst into Jack’s sword when the black mass leaped onto his shoulders and stabbed in down across his cheek in one fluid motion.
When Malum leaped and flipped over Jack’s head, Jack craned his neck to follow him. He watched the cloak flow around Malum, who looked like he was nothing but arms and a cape floating through the air.
Then Malum landed, with blood on his Dao sword, and three dead acolytes behind him, who died choking. Without hesitation, he charged at the Aurora Knight to continue his work.
Jack looked back at that last man who suffered Malum’s poisoning to his face. Jack, who was no stranger to dead and deformed bodies, almost heaved.
That won’t happen to Kion.
The wind flowed beneath Jack’s feet and propelled him forward.
Malum didn’t have the natural or magical strength to hold Siwang against the Aurora Knight and the strength his magical blade gave him. Malum had to remain faster, dodging the Aurora Knight’s blows looking for an opening, and giving Jack the time to catch up.
The assassin moved like a shadow, and the knight was a tiger chasing after him until he thrust the Aurora Blade instead of slashing.
Malum made the inhuman feat of leaping up and onto the thick Aurora Blade, his one-foot barely fitting completely on it.
Then Jack’s heart leaped in his chest as Malum leaped and flipped over the Aurora Knight’s head. The world moved in slow motion as Malum swung his sword as he floated through the air, aiming to slash at the little opening in the Aurora Knight’s armor, the place where the breastplate and shoulder plate meet just a little less than perfectly.
Jack’s eyes glowed gold as he flew up and collided with Malum, stopping him from cutting the Aurora Knight. The two went crashing across the ground.
Malum tumbled in a way he hasn’t done in a long time.
Jack hit the edge of the room first, then Malum hit him.
Malum was quick to smack Jack a second time across the face as he stood up to his feet. “You damn fool, he won’t make that mistake again.”
Seemingly in a rage, Jack struck Malum’s ankle with his foot, sending the surprised assassin to his knees.
Malum found Jack’s sword at his neck before he lifted Siwang. “You’ll kill him with that blade,” Jack told him, “I saw what it did to the acolytes, I know you’re not holding back.”
“Does it appear like we can afford to?” Malum questioned back.
“You can’t afford much of anything,” they heard the warlock taunt them from her bubble. They both looked up to see the Aurora Knight walking towards them with his glowing blade.
It vibrated and shined with rainbow lights, giving off this unknowable energy that stole Jack’s breath away.
He’s… willing to use that on me?
When the Aurora Knight swung his sword, a wave of rainbow light came at them, but Jack couldn’t move.
He’s… he’s really trying to kill me. Why would he… what has that witch done to him?!
Something soft, squishy, and moist wrapped around Jack’s leathers and manhandled him away.
The rainbow wave exploded on impact. It left the environment untouched, but the pressure of the explosion hit Jack’s back. He was freed of his restraints, but the wind was also knocked out of him before he could hit the ground.
That would have made landing on his head even worse, but he was caught by large, strong hands that swung him around.
Jack could feel the blood dripping down his head. The wound was from something he could feel pricking his skull before it dissipated. Shrapnel of light, the biggest killer of Kion’s attack. He really tried to kill me.
Jack was abandoned on the ground by Quintus, who had to now help Lucy after helping him.
The pirate was on her knees, clutching an arm still full of the light shrapnel. The more to hit someone, the longer they stuck around and burned their purifying light.
Jack struggled to his feet, holding out his hand to summon his sword to him, but it wouldn’t come. He could just barely feel it, like he was tugging on a string.
I’ve, or I guess Kion exhausted my Iligsia. That attack… hurts magic more than anything else.
Jack looked over at Lucy who was holding her injured arm close to her chest. Her body is mixed with magic, where it’s just the Iligsia beside my soul, deep in my body. For her, it must be like being set on fire or stuck under acid.
Jack pushed his Iligsia that much harder to summon his sword to him. It came, but when it slapped into his hand, he nearly fell back down. I can’t-! That was a mistake, this is- “*ACK*!” a mistake…!
Acolytes were approaching him, and Jack looked around for help. Quintus was busy helping Lucy to her feet and farther away, Malum too struggled to his feet.
The assassin had moved on his own, leaving Jack to take the hit after he stopped him before. Jack watched as blood seemed to drip from Malum to the floor. Jack couldn’t tell if it was the old bullet wound from the battle that the assassin clutched or a new wound from the Aurora Knight’s attack.
Malum uses a magical weapon, he’s not magic himself. The aurora shrapnel shouldn’t be much more than little pins, barely enough to draw blood.
Jack struggled up to his feet, sword raised, blood dripping down his face as injured acolytes surrounded him. He felt the room grow hotter than it was before, causing a lot of acolytes to turn their attention to the madwoman attacking their master.
They quickly began to run to the warlock’s defense as Astrid beat Kan Bujian against Amidala’s barrier. He could still see Astrid turn and continue cutting down acolytes but her focus never left the warlock.
Things are going bad, things are going real-
“Malum, look out!”
Jack turned his eyes to Malum, struggling against the wall as the Aurora Knight rushed him, taking a running leap to put the assassin out of his misery.
Kion no, were the only complete thoughts Jack had. All he could do was watch the lover he protected come down to kill the assassin who had protected Jack not moments before. More than a few passing thoughts of guilt passed through Jack’s head.
An acolyte slammed into the Aurora Knight’s side sending him smacking against the library walls, and the acolyte to the ground, dead.
Malum took the chance to turn as the Aurora Knight landed on his feet. Malum didn’t get far before the Aurora Knight was on him, but just as quickly, another body came flying at the knight.
The Aurora Knight stopped and found himself facing down Quintus, as the hulking man threw another acolyte at the Aurora Knight.
This time, the Aurora Knight cut the acolyte in half, making Quintus step back to shutter. Quintus’s teeth ground against each other as he saw an old comrade covered in the blood of a vicious and unnecessary kill.
Then he watched the knight turn his heel towards him.
Quintus, as distraught as he could be, still readied himself, as one of the few left standing.
The Aurora Knight came running, and Quintus Lato Equitus run to meet him.