Purification episode 112: Lost Axe

Bonnie swam away from the creature as fast as she could. She just had to lure it away from the tunnel, avoid it and double back. At least, that was the plan.

The creature didn’t follow her. Instead, it took up position at the tunnel and snapped at everything that swam near. Gulping them down more often than not.

Bonnie watched and waited, hoping that it would move away and growing more and more anxious. She didn’t have long until the spell wore off. She looked up, noting that there was a surface in this cavern. She could probably surface there and be safe but…

She glanced back towards the tunnel. If Lysara and the others came down here after her they would be easy prey for that thing. She might be safe, but she wouldn’t be able to warn or help them. She unstrapped her axe and swam towards it.

She slowed her movements when she got close, lightly swimming above it. If she could just come down after it quickly enough then she might be able to cut into it before it could react. She was just about to move when it acted.

She was barely able to sidestep its charge but didn’t escape unscathed. Its fin knocked her into the rock wall, knocking her axe from her hands.

It was going to come back, and soon. Was this the end for her? No! She was determined not to die, not after she’d found something truly worth living for. She swam away, this time the creature gave pursuit.

She needed a weapon, her fists weren’t going to mean anything against a beast like this. The statues of Poseidon!

She swam for them, carefully watching the creature that was far too close behind her. She just had to hope that the tridents were loose enough that she could get one.

She reached down and grabbed one, pulling. It didn’t budge. She swam downwards as fast as she could. The creature rammed the statue, very nearly tearing into her as it did. Debris from it fell onto her. She was bruised even worse, but the trident was free. She snatched it up.

She swam away from the creature. When it charged it was at its most dangerous, but it also wasn’t good at stopping itself, at least everything she’d seen from it had indicated that. Which gave her a chance.

She headed for the rock wall, trying to keep a good distance away from the tunnel. she stopped for a brief second before swimming down. The creature lunged, taking a chunk out of her left shoulder. She speared upwards, piercing its belly. She could feel its organs rupture.

The beast swam away, swerving as it went. She didn’t know or care if it could survive that. She hurried back up the tunnel, she was trailing blood behind her. Not good, it could easily attract other predators. The tunnel seemed longer than the first time she’d come through too. How long did she have left?

She went through the tunnel and was on her way back up when the spell wore off. She held her breath and swam up, her left arm felt like it was going to tear off. How far to the surface? She looked up and knew it was too far. She wanted to make it, see Lysara at least once more. She saw something above her, swimming towards her. Another predator?

The figure was humanoid, finned. Like she had been a moment before, but it was hard to see. She felt their lips against hers, pushing air into her lungs. She vaguely felt a pair of arms pulling her up as well.

She awoke on the surface, Lysara looking down at her and crying. She reached up to wipe Lysara’s tears.

“I’m okay,” she gasped. “Just need to rest.”

“Bon,” Lysara cried. “I thought… I thought you weren’t going to make it.”

“What happened down there?” Twila asked.

Bonnie explained everything she’d seen and her confrontation with the creature. Lysara sat at her side, gently holding her hand.

“There’s just one thing I don’t know,” Bonnie said. “Who came to get me?”

“I did,” Lysara said. “I was so scared that you were going to drown before I could bring you up.”

“We got you bandaged up but you’re pretty banged up,” Axra said. “Especially that shoulder.”

“We’ll leave you here to recuperate,” Twila said. “Lysara can keep watch over you.”

“No,” Bonnie said. “I’m well enough to keep going.” She shakily got to her feet. I’ll have to fight one-handed, but I’ve managed in worse shape.”

“Don’t be stubborn!” Axra declared. “You need time to recover.”

“Bon, please,” Lysara pleaded. “Let’s stay here, together.”

“We don’t know what kind of threats that temple contains,” Bonnie stated. “You’re going to need all the help you can get. Even if that help comes from someone who’s injured like Lilly or myself.”

Axra and Twila glanced at each other.

“I have to find a way to keep the spell lasting longer anyway,” Twila said. “At least if the temple is that massive. I suppose we can travel together to that landmass you saw and you can recover while I figure that out.”

“Thank you,” Bonnie said. “I won’t be a burden.”

“And I’ll be at your side,” Lysara said. “This time I’ll protect you!”

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Purification episode 111: Bonnie Alone

The group moved through the corridors, eventually arriving at an actual dead end. They moved back toward the last branch in the path and went the other only to come to another intersection and, eventually, another dead end.

For several days they repeated the same process. They got up in the morning, replaced the bandage over Lilly’s eyes, Twila cast a darkvision spell on herself, Lysara and Bonnie, and they wandered as far as they could in search of anything beyond the same stone walls and earthen floors. Growing increasingly agitated as they continued to encounter the same dead ends.

“Maybe it’s like the deep underground and there’s a hollow wall somewhere that we an phase through,” Lysara suggested.

“If we don’t find anything going down this path we may have to double back and check every dead end we’ve encountered,” Twila said. “Fortunately, I have been mapping the maze as we’ve gone.”

“That’ll take forever,” Axra groaned.

“I see the end of this tunnel ahead,” Velvet reported.

Everyone but Lilly stared ahead. She hesitantly reached up to touch her bandage, wanting to know what they saw but afraid to ask.

“A pool of water?” Axra asked.

“Well, it is different,” Twila said.

“But still a dead end,” Axra muttered.

“Maybe it’s a freshwater spring and we can all take a bath!” Lysara declared. “Except Velvet. He can keep guard.”

“Works for me,” Velvet stated.

They moved forward to examine it.

“I don’t see the bottom,” Axra said.

“Maybe this is what we’re looking for,” Twila observed. “There could be an opening down there that leads to what we’re looking for.”

“Or it could be a trap,” Bonnie stated. “Or even nothing. Anyway, how would we get down there? If it’s as deep as it looks then we can’t exactly hold our breaths.”

“I do know a waterfolk transformation spell,” Twila said. “But it’s risky.”

“How so?” Axra asked.

“I’ve only used it once during practice,” Twila said. “And it’s a really hard spell. I don’t think that I can use it on all of us at once.”

“Then just use it on me,” Bonnie said. “I’ll do recon and find out if there’s anything down there. If there isn’t then there’s no point in you using the spell on anyone else.”

“But what if you need backup?” Lysara inquired. “At least take me with you!” She hugged Bonnie’s arm.

“I’ll be all right on my own,” Bonnie said. “I promise I’ll be careful. Princess, please allow me.”

“It’s okay by me,” Axra said. “Twila?”

“Agreed,” Twila said. “It is a good suggestion.”

“But…” Lysara began.

“Don’t worry,” Twila reassured her. “Bonnie will come right back if she finds anything and we can go down there together. The water is calm over here so there’s not much risk of anything dangerous being close enough that she’ll encounter it before finding any entrance there might be.” She turned to Bonnie. “I should warn you, the spell will only last a couple hours. Don’t examine anything down there for too long.”

“Got it,” Bonnie said. She removed her armour and placed it gently near the wall and began removing her other clothes.

“Don’t look!” Lysara shouted, trying to block everyone’s view of the much taller woman. Velvet shrugged and turned to face the wall. Axra moved over to converse quietly with Lilly.

Bonnie finished stripping down to her smallclothes.

“You’ll want to be in the water when I cast this,” Twila said. Bonnie nodded. She strapped her axe  to her waist with a makeshift belt and went in.

Twila finished her incantation and Bonnie felt a tingling sensation. Her hands and feet became webbed and gills appeared on her neck. Fins jutted out of various points of her body.

Twila nearly fell over. “It’s… done,” she gasped.

Bonnie dove into the water. Her vision was actually really good. She hadn’t noticed before, but the spell had done something to her eyes to make it easier for her to see underwater. She could vaguely make out a hole of some kind near the bottom. She swiftly swam for it, glancing around for any signs of potential trouble as she went.

The hole was absolutely massive up close. It was easily large enough for the crustacean they’d seen a couple days ago. How had they missed it earlier? She glanced up, and realised that she couldn’t see the surface at all from don here. The hole led into some kind of tunnel. Bonnie decided to follow it ahead, just to see where it led. After all, if it just went to another dead end she didn’t want to waste everyone’s time. She’d only been swimming for eight minutes anyway. There was still plenty of time before the spell wore off.

The tunnel sloped downwards and its sides were covered with coral, shells, and moss. Several little fish swam by her as she went. After ten minutes of following the tunnel she came to the exit.

It was incredible! There was nothing but a vast network of water as far as she could see with creatures of all kinds swimming around with a variety of colourful undersea plants. Had the tunnel led to the ocean? No, looking to the sides she could see the stone walls of a mountainous cavern extending. Still, it was a massive underwater cavern.

Most impressive of all was a great undersea temple, with statues of Poseidon lined up at the entrance, tridents held aloft. Was that where the Einklangümlich Staff lay in rest?

She was distracted from her reverie by the sound of something tearing through the water. She swam to the side, barely avoiding a massive pair of snapping jaws.

The creature was over twelve metres long, with a crocodile-like snout and propelled by four massive fins. Worst of all, it was blocking Bonnie’s exit.

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Purification episode 110: Inside Deflum

Reira and Lexine walked down the streets, past a few merchants. They made their way towards the Matron’s Manor.

“You don’t have to come with me,” Reira said.

“You’re wrong about that,” Lexine stated. “I do, because I promised a long time ago to stay by your side during difficult times.” She gently squeezed Reira’s hand.

They continued moving in silence. Lulu’s wolves greeted them at the door. They made their way to the study.

“Hello, Elaine,” Reira greeted.

“Well met,” Elaine returned, getting up to greet them.”Seeing you two is a nice surprise. I wasn’t…” She looked them over, her gaze piercing. “You both look so serious.” She sat back down. “He’s not coming back, is he?”

“He isn’t,” Reira said, her voice soft.

“How did it happen?” Elaine asked.

“The Hestial League summoned the titan Typhon,” Reira explained. “Under a magic compulsion to slay all half bloods. Lulu… Lulu heroically fought him with everything he had so that we would have time to undo that compulsion.”

“I see,” Elaine said. “Just like him, isn’t it? Going ahead and leaving me behind.”

“I was in his mind when he… fell,” Reira said. “His final thoughts were of you. He really wanted to stay by your side as long as he could. He did love you.”

“I know,” Elaine said, her voice shaking. “I’m sorry, but could you leave me alone?”

“Of course,” Reira said. She and Lexine walked out, heads bowed.

Elaine waited until they were gone and moved to their… no, her bedroom. She lay down on the bed and wept.

*****

The group made their way down the cavern’s path. They had come to a few branches in the road and started leaving a trail behind them using brightly coloured marbles that Twila had brought along in preparation for the labyrinth.

“Should we prepare something to block our ears in the event of another Selkie?” Bonnie asked.

“I’m still not sure why it didn’t work when the first one tried it,” Lysara stated.

“Simple enough,” Twila said. “A Selkie’s power works by amplifying attraction felt towards them. If there’s no attraction then it won’t work.”

“Oh, I see,” Lysara said. “So there’s no worry about us being charmed by a Selkie!”

Velvet muttered something under his breath.

“It does bother me that there was a Selkie here at all,” Twila said. “As Bonnie rightly pointed out, they usually stay near the ocean. Deflum may not be really far away from the ocean, but it should still be too far for a Selkie.”

“That snake looked aquatic too,” Bonnie added.

“W… wait,” Lilly said.

“What’s wrong?” Axra asked. “Do you need me to carry you for a while?”

“It… it’s not that,” Lilly said. “I… I heard something, or I think I did.”

The group stopped and listened.

“I hear it too,” Axra said.

“Same,” Lysara said.”It’s like a weird scuttling sound.”

“Where is it coming from?” Bonnie asked, looking around.

“Ahead, I would say,” Twila said.

“We’ll keep moving but stay alert,” Axra said. She nodded towards Twila. Twila moved next to Lilly. Bonnie, Axra and Lysara drew their weapons and they continued onward.

The scuttling grew progressively louder as they went until it unexpectedly fell silent. Bonnie and Axra nodded at each other and they continued forward, right into a dead end.

“Weird,” Axra muttered. “I could have sworn it was coming from here.”

“It could have been from a chambre near here,” Twila said. “The walls could be thin enough that sound travels through them.”

“Or the wall could be hollow,” Bonnie said. “Some kind of secret passageway. Look!” She pointed. “There is open space around the wall.”

Axra looked at where she was indicating. Bonnie was right. She could see through cracks along the sides of it.

“It does look kind of funny,” Lysara noted. She reached a hand out to touch it. Within seconds Bonnie had tackled her to the ground.

“Bon, not in front of the others!” Lysara cried. “You can ravish me later when we’re in our tent..”

“I wasn’t!” Bonnie declared. “I was just saving you from that.”

Lysara looked up. A massive claw was snapped shut where she had been standing. A scrap of her shirt was clutched in it. Following the claw, she noticed the tip of a black crustacean peeking out from under a shell.

Axra plunged her blade into the creature’s claw, which it hurriedly retracted.

“How did something this big get up here?” Axra asked. The crustacean’s claw swiped at her. She blocked it with the flat of her blade.

“Lightning Lance!” Twila cried. She snapped her fingers and a bolt flew at the creature. It pulled back its claw and retreated into its shell. The bolt shattered through part of it, singing part of the beast’s hide.

It reared out of its shell and flailed its claws. Axra jumped back to avoid them. Bonnie shielded Lysara. One of its claws raked across her back.

“Bon!” Lysara cried. She got on her feet and rushed at the creature, hurling her chakram through the hole in its shell.

A second bolt from Twila hit the soft flesh of its face. The creature slumped down and went still.

“You can put down your bow,” Twila said. “It’s down.”

“S… sorry,” Lilly said. “I… I tried to get a shot but…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Axra said. “It’s better if you wait until your certain.”

“Bon, are you okay?” Lysara asked.

“Fine,” Bonnie answered. “It doesn’t seem to have made it through my armour.”

“Velvet, get this thing moved!” Axra ordered.

“Why me?” Velvet asked.

“Because you did nothing during the fight,” Axra answered.

“I was guarding the dogs,” Velvet said. “And the horses.”

“Velvet,” Axra said.

“All right, all right,” Velvet said. “I’m going. What a hassle.”

“Another sea creature,” Twila muttered. “Just what is going on in this labyrinth?”

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Purification episode 109: Venom’s Price

Shin glanced forward, catching a glimpse of his aunts as they rode in the front. He looked around, there was no sign of any trouble. Caide rode beside him. She was bandaged from her wounds.

“What?” she asked.

“Oh, It’s nothing really,” Shin said.

“You’re too undisciplined,” Caide said. “You need to watch your side and look ahead. The side where your comrades are doesn’t need to be watched.”

“I don’t understand you,” Shin muttered.

“What part of me don’t you understand,” Caide asked.

“For instance, why did you save me?” Shin asked. “I get why Mister Axel came to our rescue. If my aunt and I had been killed then Typhon would have moved on and we’d have lost our chance. But… but there was no reason for you to risk yourself for me. No one would have blamed you if I’d died.”

“There was a reason,” she said.

“And what would that be?” he inquired.

“It’s because I more than like you,” she said, giving him a slight smile. They rode in silence, she looked at him and laughed. “Well, you don’t have to answer me right away. But when you’ve had time to mourn I’ll expect one.”

*****

The first thing Lilly heard was voices. They seemed so distant at at first but slowly, ever so slowly, they came into focus.

“Princess, forgive me for saying so, but this should take precedence.” It was Bonnie’s voice, something sounded half-hearted about her statement. Lilly wished that she could see her face, but something was wrong.

“Don’t give me that shit about priorities!” Axra shouted, Lilly had never heard her sound so angry. Well, aside from the incident with Reginald. “She needs a cleric and she is the priority! Nothing takes precedence over that.”

“I’m not saying that she’s not important,” Bonnie stated. Lilly could feel a cloth around her face, was hat why she couldn’t see? “However, a cleric will still be able to help her in days or even weeks. But we have a small window of opportunity to get the staff before the Titans are vanquished and it becomes…” Her argument was interrupted by the sound of a sword being drawn.

Lilly managed to get up and fumbled her way towards the sound. “Axra, stop it… please. You… you shouldn’t be…” she nearly fell over but felt a pair of arms around her. Twila’s, she realised. She allowed herself a slight smile when she heard the sword go back into its sheath.

“You need to be more careful,” Twila said. “The effects of the poison haven’t fully dissipated yet.”

“S… sorry,” Lilly mumbled. “I’ll be fine… so don’t worry. I just need to…” she reached for the cloth. Axra’s hands grabbed hers.

“You don’t wanna take that off,” Axra said. “Not yet.”

“The serpent’s venom damaged your eyes,” Twila explained. “I don’t know… when your vision will return.”

“Or if,” Velvet’s voice added. After a moment he spoke again. “What? Doesn’t she need to know that?”

“Or if,” Twila conceded, her voice quiet. “We were just discussing whether or not to return to the city and find a cleric for you.”

“N… no, we… we need to keep going,” Lilly said. “I mean… with the Titans and Gods fighting the clerics… they probably…”

“Don’t have any power right now,” Bonnie muttered. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Dammit!” Axra cried, her voice was much closer to Lilly. She was probably stooped over her. “Fine, we’ll keep going. Bonnie, you and Lysara can stay out here and watch Lilly. We’ll leave the horses and wagon with you.”

“I understand,” Bonnie said.

“W… wait,” Lilly protested. “I… I know that I can’t see, at least right now… but I can still look after myself. I… I’ll stay away from the fighting. I…” she reached out and grabbed Twila’s hand. Then grabbed Axra’s. “M… my place is with you two. And, besides, you… you may need the extra manpower. S… so please… please don’t leave me behind.” She made an effort to steady herself, she didn’t want to cry, not now. She wasn’t even sure if she still could.

“She will be able to move around normally pretty soon,” Twila whispered, probably trying not to be heard. “And she has enough experience fighting blindly that she shouldn’t be a burden.”

“I would feel better with her close to me,” Axra whispered back, her voice slightly louder than Twila’s. “But I’m worried about what could happen if we’re fighting something strong.”

“I’ll stay close to her,” Twila whispered, Lilly would have to pretend that she hadn’t heard them. ” I can sling spells from a distance and be close enough to keep her safe.”

The two whispered something further, lowering their voices so that Lilly couldn’t quite make out what they were saying anymore. Bonnie jumped in as well. Lilly thought she heard Zerstörelicht  mentioned but wasn’t sure what they were saying about it. Were they going to take it from her?

“All right,” Axra said, her voice loud and clear. “We’ll all go.”

The sound of someone approached her, something they were wearing shuffled across the ground. Robes? Lilly felt a hand take hers, Twila’s.

“Just be careful,” Twila said. Lilly nodded.

Footsteps approached them. “Here,” Axra said. Lilly reached out. Zerstörelicht! Axra was handing the bow back to her. “Use it to protect yourself while you’re hanging back. If you hear anything approach you while the sounds of battle are still going, fire away.”

“Th… thank you,” Lilly said. “I’ll do my very best.”

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Purification episode 108: Spitting Serpent

Using Twila’s magic, the group flew up to the cavern’s entrance. Once more, Axra felt the exhilaration of flight.

“That’s a creepy looking snake,” Lysara muttered.

“You think so?” Lilly asked. “I think it’s quite cute.”

The human was less readily spotted. He emerged from the serpent’s shadow clad only in a thin strip of cloth.

“Doesn’t look prepared for a fight,” Axra noted. “Or the weather.”

“Be nice,” Twila said. “We don’t want to pick a fight with the guy.”

“I doubt he can hear me from there,” Axra stated.

“I’ll make contact,” Bonnie stated. She floated ahead of the rest. “Well met,” she called. “We’re travelers making our way into Deflum. If you and your serpent friend could kindly stand aside, we would appreciate it.”

He looked up at them and loudly whistled for several seconds.

“Was that a yes or a no?” Bonnie wondered.

“Maybe he communicates by song,” Lysara suggested. She got her lyre and strummed along, mimicking his tune.

His face went from a calm grin to a rather panicked look and he took a step back. Muttering something.

“Hey, speak up if you can talk!” Axra demanded. “Not even my ears are that good.”

He apparently calmed himself and stepped forward, whistling again.

“Should I play the tune back?” Lysara asked, uncertainly. “He didn’t seem to like it the first time.”

“There’s a subtle magic to his whistling,” Twila observed. “But I can’t tell what it’s supposed to be doing.”

“Whatever it is he sucks at it,” Axra stated. She flew forward next to Bonnie. “Hey, my friends and I are going to go inside the mountain now. So don’t get in our way, okay? We don’t want to fight you but we will if we have to.”

“Wh… what about Fang and the dogs and horses?” Lilly asked.

“We’ll go back for them if he lets us pass peacefully,” Axra whispered.

“He’s muttering again,” Lysara noted.

“Why?” the man screamed. “Why won’t it work?” He pointed up at them. “You’re supposed to be entranced, charmed, how are you still floating calmly up there?”

“Entranced?” Axra asked.

“I’ll say I feel that way if it gets us out of a fight,” Velvet volunteered. “Yay! You’re the best at whistling! Encore!” He spoke loudly, but without a trace of emotion.

“You suck at cheering,” Lysara said.

“Fine, the hard way it is!” the man cried. He jumped back, his body transforming. It was quickly covered with scales, coarse fur covering his back.

“He’s a Selkie!” Twila cried.

“The creatures that use their song to seduce people of the opposite sex?” Bonnie asked. “I thought they lived near the ocean.”

“So, if they can do that, why isn’t it working on us?” Lysara wondered.

“Who cares!” Axra declared. “Let’s take him out!”

She drew her sword and swooped down at the Selkie. He took a deep breath and screeched at her. The sound waves pushed her roughly back, her hands covering her ears. Lilly and Twila moved forward to catch her.

“They can also do that,” Twila said. “We’re going to have to be careful how we approach him.”

“Warn me sooner next time,” Axra said. “My poor ears don’t feel like they’ll ever stop ringing.”

“It’s a stalemate,” Bonnie said. “The snake aside, we can’t get too close while he can do that but he can’t reach us up here.”

“No,” Twila said. “It’s not a stalemate. The magic will wear off eventually. We have to find a way past him before that happens.”

She extended an arm and fired a bolt of energy at the Selkie. His serpent flew in its path, the bolt fizzling out against its hide.

“Magic won’t work,” Twila said. “Although, Lilly might be able to pierce its hide with Zerstörelicht.”

“I… I’ll give it a try,” Lilly said. She drew back on the bow’s invisible string and fired. The bolt fizzled against the serpent’s hide.

“You’ll have to do a stronger one than that,” Twila stated. “Come on, I know you can.”

“Bu… But it’s so cute,” Lilly muttered. “And it can’t even fight back.”

“So that’s what it is,” Twila muttered. “All right, I won’t ask you to hurt the snake. Here’s what we’re going to do…” She whispered a quick set of instructions into Lilly’s ear.

Lilly nodded. She fired another arrow. Simultaneously, Twila snapped her fingers and vanish. The serpent moved to block the bolt from hitting the Selkie.

On the other side, Twila hurled a fireball. It slammed right into the Selkie, the serpent being unable to block both attacks.

“Those are my Loves!” Axra cried. “Now to deal with the snake.” She started to fly forward but Lilly stopped her.

“Pl… please wait,” she said. “Let me try.” She handed Axra Zerstörelicht  and floated down towards the serpent, slowly. “It’s okay,” she said, her voice soothing. “You don’t have to fight anymore. He can’t control you now.” She floated just outside of the serpents striking distance. “Why don’t you go back home to your family, Little Guy?”

“Little?” Axra whispered.

The serpent reared up and spit a stream of liquid at Lilly. She hurriedly backed away, but immediately started flailing, her hands rubbing her eyes.

Axra, Bonnie and Velvet swooped down. Axra caught Lilly and flew backwards, quickly. Bonnie and Velvet slammed into the serpent. Velvet’s fist hitting the top of its head and Bonnie’s axe slicing into its mouth.

Twila hurried over. “How’s Lilly?” she asked.

“Not good,” Axra said. “She’s lost consciousness and her breathing is really ragged.”

“What should we do?” Lysara asked.

“The important thing is not to panic,” Twila said. “Bonnie, slice open the snake a bit more and try to get its poison gland. It should run under its eye, connected to its fangs. Velvet, you and I will get our supplies and I’ll try to concoct an antidote. In the meantime, Axra, wash her eyes out with water from your canteen. Be careful that none of the water gets into her mouth.”

Twila hurriedly flew down with Velvet. She knew that she’d have to hurry to save Lilly’s vision, assuming the hit hadn’t been direct enough to make the effort futile.

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Purification episode 107: Guardians of Deflum

That morning, Axra told Twila about their encounter with Airell.

“I see,” Twila muttered. Your mother lost her familiar.”

“I didn’t know about it until our first trip to the wastes,” Axra said. “I didn’t expect to see her again after that, though.”

“It sounds like she was worried about you,” Twila observed.

“She didn’t even recognise me the first time we met,” Axra stated. “How did she recognise me this time?”

“It’s possible that she’s holding on to a small shred of sanity,” Twila said. “If so, she may have understood it when you told her that you’re her daughter and just had trouble processing it. Seeing you again after that probably triggered that realisation and she came out of hiding, afraid for your safety.”

“You think?” Axra asked.

“It… it would explain everything,” Lilly said.

“I think it’s sweet,” Lysara stated. “She wants to protect her long lost daughter, even in her madness.”

“I hate to say it,” Bonnie began “but she said that she was dangerous, right?”

“She did say that,” Axra confirmed.

“Then we should be extra careful if she shows up again,” Bonnie said. “You in particular, Princess.”

“Bon, that’s cruel!” Lysara cried. “You…”

“She’s right,” Axra interrupted. “I don’t know what she was like back when my dads knew her, but the times I’ve met her, her behaviour has been erratic. I’m sure that she realises that too and that’s why she warned me.”

“Bu… but will she come back?” Lilly asked. “I mean… if she was so worried about what she might do then she might, you know, return home and leave us in peace.”

“It’s hard to say,” Twila said. “In her state she may forget that she warned Axra and seek her out again, or she may want to see Axra so badly that she comes back, just intending to catch a glimpse of her.”

“But that’s too sad,” Lysara said. “How can you plan to fight your own mother?”

“I hope that I don’t have to,” Axra stated. “Truly I do. But Bonnie is right, we can’t discount the possibility.”

*****

The first thing that Zero did upon returning to Nervius was declare a week of mourning, a week dedicated to the memory of Axel. It was funny, they’d first partnered up a good thirty six years ago, when they were still young men .

At first, it had just been a matter of convenience. They were two fledgling mercenaries with very different skill sets. He had needed someone who could withstand attacks and deflect attention long enough for him to cast his strongest spells. Axel, on the other hand, had needed someone who could watch his back and handle negotiations. Together, they had been unbeatable in combat.

Before either one knew it, their partnership had developed into more. So much more. When the opportunity to take control of Nervius came, it seemed natural for them to do it together- rule side by side. Now, now it was all over and Zero was lost.

What does one do when a half of their soul fades away forever? How does a man continue? Even ruling over his kingdom seemed a hollow pursuit. Still, he would keep going. He had to.

Nervius was the land that Axel had given his all into dragging from the ground and making powerful. It was the kingdom that Axra would someday inherit. He wanted to see his daughter, but he didn’t look forward to telling her about Axel, seeing her heartbroken face and wiping away her tears.

“Father, Dearest,won’t you come eat?” He heard Rachel’s voice behind him. He had considered sending her back home, but he couldn’t. Even in his last breath, Axel had expressed the desire to protect her too. A task which Zero was determined to continue in his stead.

“I’m coming,” Zero said. “Sorry, I was lost in thought.”

*****

That night, Axra and her companions camped near Mt. Deflum, they continued the watch rotation as before. The next morning they had a quick breakfast and packed.

“So, where’s this labyrinth?” Axra asked.

“I don’t see any caves,” Lilly added.

“I don’t know exactly where it is,” Twila said. “I can try a spell to reveal any illusions. If the cave entrance is blocked then we should be able to find it that way. In the meantime, Fang can fly around and look for any signs of it.”

The little dragon flew from her shoulder and started circling around the mountain.

“Another series of caves,” Lysara muttered. “Why can’t people hide their powerful artifacts at a nice beach or something?”

“Because someone would have found it already if it was somewhere easy to reach,” Bonnie said.

Lysara moved over and hugged Bonnie. “Bon, we have got to teach you about joking around.”

“Found it!” Twila declared. “It looks like the entrance is near the summit.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “And it’s guarded.”

“What kind of resistance is it?” Bonnie inquired.

“One of them looks like a human,” Twila muttered. “He’s sunning himself on a stone near the entrance. The other… some kind of serpent. It’s easily a good twelve metres long with a sharp, pointed face. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Why would an ordinary human be around something like that?” Lysara wondered.

“M… maybe it’s actually friendly,” Lilly said. “I mean, it could be his pet. He… he could live inside the cave.”

“I’m having Fang return,” Twila reported. “We can worry about that when we reach them.” She rubbed her eyes.

“Guess I have to actually walk,” Velvet muttered. “What a pain.”

“We… we’ll have to take the dogs with us, though,” Lilly said. “I mean… there’s nowhere safe to leave them.”

“Agreed,” Axra said, stooping down to pet the nearest canine. “But the wagon can stay here.”

“Well, let’s start climbing,” Bonnie said.

“Wait!” Twila cried. “Given the size of the serpent, climbing would leave us at a disadvantage if they’re hostile.”

“You have another plan?” Bonnie asked.

“We fly!” Axra declared.

“Precisely,” Twila said. “We’ll leave Fang, the horses and the dogs down here while we confirm the situation. If it’s safe, we can use the flight spell to bring them up with us, at least until we can find somewhere safe to leave them. If there’s trouble, then we can return for them when it’s dealt with.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Axra asked. “Let’s fly up there!”

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Purification episode 106: Wandering Hermit

After Axra and the others woke up, Lilly told everyone about Gail’s visit. Flushing when it got to her parting.

“I’ll kill her!” Axra cried, kicking the ground.

“Calm down,” Twila pleaded. “Getting angry won’t help.”

“She kissed my… our Lilly!” Axra declared. “Who in Tartarus does she think she is?”

“Princess,” Bonnie stated, her voice calm and measured. “I understand your feelings, but I think you’re focusing on the wrong part of the story.”

“Bon, you can’t expect her to focus on anything else,” Lysara said, putting a hand on Bonnie’s shoulder. “I mean, any girl would be furious at the thought of someone stealing a kiss from their love. Wouldn’t you be super mad if someone besides you kissed me?”

“Bonnie is right regardless,” Twila stated. “The battle between the Gods and Titans is the concern.”

“Isn’t it a good thing?” Velvet inquired. “After all, the half-Gods probably won’t survive. Which means we won’t have to go to the trouble of getting the staff or fighting Eritos.”

“We should retrieve the staff regardless,” Twila argued. “Just in case she does make it,  but there is a strong possibility that we won’t have to use it.”

“She’d better hope that she doesn’t,” Axra said. “Because the Titans’ll be more merciful than I will.”

*****

Lennard galloped into the Great Forest, taking care not to cause any damage to it. After all, he was already delivering bad news. He didn’t need to give Jayko’s followers another reason to be angry with him. He waited until he’d traveled a good distance before stopping.

“Yo, I know you guys are listening!” He shouted. “I have news for you about Jayko, so come on out!”

He heard a shuffling around him. Eventually, two masked figures approached him. He knew there were more lying in wait, but he wasn’t worried. He also knew they wouldn’t make a move if he didn’t.

“We know of you, Lennard of Maero,” a feminine voice said. “Since you’re here alone, I take it you don’t bring pleasant tidings. What misfortune has befallen our Master?”

Lennard dismounted his horse and reached into his saddlebag, pulling out Jayko’s katana and holding it out to her. “Your master, my friend, he has fallen.”

The two were visibly taken aback, but she still took the blade. Her hands trembling as she did. “How?”

“The Hestial League summoned Typhon, the great destroyer. During the battle with him, Jayko nobly sacrificed himself to protect another.”

“Great was our Master’s heart,” her companion spoke for the first time, his voice cracking as he did.

“The final rites?” she inquired.

“Conducted by Reira Risa,” Lennard answered. “He was honoured.”

“I see,” she said. “Then we shall begin our mourning without the ceremony. Thank you, for telling us.”

*****

The group spent another day without incident, eventually stopping to make camp. Twila estimated that they’d reach Deflum in another day if all went well. The first watch was taken by Twila and Velvet. The second by Lilly and Axra.

“Are… are you mad at me?” Lilly asked.

“It’s not your fault she kissed you,” Axra said.

“I… I know,” Lilly stated. “But I… I did defend her the other day… so…”

“That, huh,” Axra muttered. When she started talking again her voice was louder, clearer. “Lilly, one of your best features is that kindness of yours, the way you try to see the good in everyone. I know that I’ve told you that before. It’s what I love the most about you! Sure, it can get frustrating when you’re defending someone like that, but I still wouldn’t change that aspect of you for anything.”

“Axra,” Lilly whispered.

“I love you, Lilly,” Axra stated, leaning close to her. “May I?”

“You can any time,” Lilly said, she was smiling even while her cheeks reddened.

Axra tenderly kissed her. The two stayed together for a moment, but pulled away when they heard the sound of footsteps nearby. Axra grabbed her sword while Lilly prepared her bow.

Axra looked in the direction of the sound and gasped.

“Wh… what is it?” Lilly asked.

“It’s my mother!” Axra declared. “Why is she here? Isn’t her mind too far gone for her to wander around out here?”

Airell approached them, meandering from side to side as she went, as though she wasn’t quite sure where she was going. “This is a dangerous place,” she muttered, once she’d gotten close to them. “These lands, they’re full of dangerous things. Travelers should be wary.”

“We’re being careful,” Axra said. “Why are…”

“I had a daughter once,” Airell muttered, interrupting Axra’s query. “She was so small, so fragile.” Airell’s bony hand reached toward Axra. “The Wastes were no place for her. No place at all. So I took her to her father. He was a king, you know. She’d be safe with him. She shouldn’t be here. Better that she be safe in the castle. So many dangerous things here.”

“I’m okay,” Axra reassured her. “I have…”

“She mustn’t be here!” Airell cried, tears were streaming down her face. “She needs to be with him, where it’s safe. So many dangerous things in these lands. So many deadly things.” She wandered away from their campsite, muttering to herself. “Not safe for her here. All the dangerous things. Especially me.” She looked back at Axra as she said it. “Especially me.”

Axra sank to her knees. “Oh, Mother,” she whispered. Lilly moved over and put her arms around Axra. “Zero Papa told me that she gave me up for my own good, because she loved me.”

“I’m sure she did,” Lilly said. “In her own way, she’s still trying to keep you safe.”

Axra let herself sink into Lilly’s arms.

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Purification episode 105: Unease

The day’s trek had been quite event-less. They’d seen glimpses of a few dragons in he sky, but nothing had approached them or even wandered close.

Axra glanced at Twila, who was gazing into the distance. It had been like that all day.

She moved closer to Twila and gently slapped her back. Twila jerked upright and looked over at her.

“What is with you today?” Axra asked. “Does knowing magic really make you sense things happening a buncha kilometres away?”

“Not normally,” Twila answered. She looked back toward the distance. “That’s why I’m so uneasy. Whatever this is, it has enormous magical power and it’s been using it for a while.”

“D… does that mean trouble?” Lilly asked.

Twila shook her head. “I don’t know.”

“What could cause that kind of power?” Bonnie asked.

“Whatever it is, it isn’t mortal,” Twila answered. “Even a large group of mages working together couldn’t keep it up this long.”

“So it is Eritos,” Axra stated. “What could she possibly be up to?”

“I… It might not be,” Lilly argued.”I… I mean there are full-blooded Gods out there. One of them might…”

“Get real!” Axra interrupted. “When have any of the Gods flaunted their power this much?”

“I… We… I’m sure whoever it is has a reason,” Lilly whispered.

“Why are you so quick to defend her?” Axra demanded. “Does she have some kind of hold over you?”

“Axra, stop,” Twila said. “I think that Lilly’s right, at least about this not being Eritos’s doing.”

“Oh, come on!” Axra cried. “Who else could it be?”

Twila shook her head. “I don’t know, but the consistent output indicates that whoever’s responsible is in some type of conflict. Who would be attacking Eritos and why would she stick around to fight them instead of teleporting away? Unless we can answer those questions I don’t think we can assu…”

“What?” Axra asked. “Something happen?”

“There was a sudden burst of power and then whatever was producing it vanished,” Twila said. “Whatever was going on it seems to be over.”

“We’ll keep extra vigilant during the watch tonight,” Bonnie said. “Just to be sure.”

They continued on their way, eventually stopping to make camp for the night.

“I’ll cook something up for supper,” Lilly stated.

“I’ll help,” Twila volunteered. “Axra, can you get a fire started?”

“Sure,” Axra said. “I’ll have it roaring in seconds flat.”

“Lysara and I can put the tents up,” Bonnie stated. “Velvet can…”

“I’ll keep a lookout,” Velvet volunteered.

“Of course you will,” Bonnie said.

“That’s one way to get out of work,” Axra added.

The group went to their respective tasks.

“Bon, I put our tent up!” Lysara called. “I think my bag’s even big enough for both of us! Well, it is if we really snuggle.”

“I think we can each have our own tent,” Bonnie stated.

“Aww, why?” Lysara asked. “Was it just a one night thing for you? I thought that we…”

Bonnie put her hand over Lysara’s mouth. “Keep your voice down. I do love you, but if we… if we act too close… in front of everybody then they’ll find out about… about us.”

“So what?” Lysara asked. “I don’t think anyone will mind.”

“We can all tell anyway,” Velvet added.

“Bon, you’re really flushed,” Lysara said. “Could it be that you’re the shy type? I never would have figured.”

“It’s not that,” Bonnie stated. “I… I forgot that he was nearby and it startled me a bit.”

“I hear that a lot,” Velvet stated.

“Hmmm,” Lysara murmured. “Is that really the case?”

“Of course it is!” Bonnie cried.

“Either way, Bon,” Lysara began “since everyone can tell do you still want me to put up a tent just for you or can we share?”

“Well…” Bonnie gazed at Lysara. “Well, if everyone can tell anyway we might as well just stick to one and be able to pack up more quickly in the morning.”

“Yay!” Lysara exclaimed. She hugged Bonnie. “I love you, Bon!”

Bonnie stood awkwardly for a moment before returning Lysara’s embrace. “And I you,” she whispered.

*****

Axra took the first watch along with Velvet. Eventually, the two were relieved by Lysara and Bonnie. Finally, Lilly and Twila took over for the remainder.

“Lilly,” Twila said. “Axra was a bit out of line, but she was definitely right about one thing. You do seem awfully close to Gail.”

“I… I don’t think she’s a bad person,” Lilly said. “I mean… I can’t return her feelings… I… I can only feel that way about Axra and you… but I still… I don’t think she’s bad.”

“She did force that ring on you,” Twila said. “She also cast that spell over Choltin.”

“I know,” Lilly muttered. “But I… don’t think she meant any harm. I mean… if she wanted to… force me… I know I couldn’t stop her. But… every time she’s appeared… she’s never tried to do… anything to hurt me.”

“So, you think she’s just overly enthusiastic in her attempts to court you,” Twila stated. “Is that it?” Lilly nodded.

“I won’t try to sway you to do something you’re against,” Twila said. “But We’re going to get the Einklangümlich Staff and then we’ll seal her back up. Between then and now decide if you can help. If you’re not comfortable with it, give Bonnie the Zerstörelicht for that battle.”

“I… I understand,” Lilly said. “I…”

“You what, My Lovely Wifey?”

Lilly sat upright, Gail was gazing down at her, smiling.

“G… Gail,” Lilly whispered. “Twila and I were…”

“Yes, yes,” Gail said. “You can finish talking to your dull friend later. I just had to see you.” Gail knelt down and hugged Lilly.

“I… I…” Lilly stammered.

“I’m sorry for being a bit selfish,” Gail said. “But this may be the last time I see you.”

“The last time?” Lilly asked.

Gail nodded. “Some fools released Typhon. He’s freed the other Titans and they’re going to move against Olympus again. All of us, be we half-Gods or full blooded, are being sent to face him.”

“Is… isn’t that dangerous?” Lilly asked.

Gail nodded. “For us half-bloods especially. The full-bloods, they won’t die. Even if they’re beaten and chained in the underworld. Me and the others like me… we can.” She glanced at Lilly. “Hey, don’t be too upset. I’m not going to just let those bastards kill me. I’ll do everything in my power to return to you.” She took Lilly’s hands in hers. “Trust me, we’ll have our happy ending yet!” She leaned forward and kissed Lilly. “Sorry, I won’t be able to protect you for a while, but don’t forget me, okay?”

In a flash of light, she was gone.

“Lilly?” Twila asked. “Are you okay?”

“I… I don’t know,” Lilly answered.

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Purification episode 104: Last Rites

“I don’t get it,” Lexine said.

“You mean why Jayko died for you,” Reira said. “It’s not complicated. In that moment, you reminded him of his own powerlessness when we lost Gabe. He didn’t want me to suffer like he has, so he acted.”

“I see,” Lexine said. “I… I didn’t know he was still holding that in.” She looked up at the sky. “Do you think the two of them have reunited in the underworld?”

“I’d like to think they have,” Reira said. “Some people believe that the souls of the virtuous are kept waiting in the Elysium, unfeeling or thinking, until those they loved most dearly come to join them and the souls of the wicked feel every painful second of parting within Tartarus as though it was a century. If that is the case, I’m sure Gabe doesn’t even know any time’s passed.”

“There’s something both beautiful and cruel about that idea,” Lexine said. “What happens when a virtuous soul and a wicked soul are each others’ most beloved?”

“Maybe the virtuous soul gets to buy their beloved’s place in the Asphodel Meadows by sacrificing their own place,” Reira answered. “Why? Thinking of someone in particular?”

“Not really,” Lexine said. “Just curious. I hadn’t heard that idea before.”

“We’ve gathered the bodies,” Lennard reported. “Well, most of them.”

Reira knew exactly who was missing, even without reading his mind.

“It can’t be helped,” she said. “We’ll put the pieces of his scythe on the pyre and give him his last rites that way.”

“I somehow knew you’d say that,” Lennard stated. “I had Florence gather them up already.”

The three walked over to the makeshift funeral pyre. A pile of helmets had been made to the side. Lexine added her own helm to the stack before continuing.

Reira took her place in front of the pyre and cleared her throat. “We’ve lost a lot of beloved comrades, friends and family today. Some of whom we loved more than life itself.” She glanced at Zero when adding that last part.

“Our loved ones are at peace,” Reira continued. “They fought and lost their lives as heroes and their souls are surely at peace now. We… we are not at peace. We are keenly feeling their absence and our hearts and souls cry out in grief. But, we must remember. We must remember those parts of themselves our loved ones left us. We must remember the time we spent with them. Yes, the totality of their lives and the impact they had on ours must be remembered, not just the way they were taken from us. In that way, a part of them will always endure within us until we can meet them again. Please, bow your heads and reflect.”

Those assembled did as they were bade. A complete hush fell over the crowd. Shin found himself thinking of the time he hadn’t been able to sleep and his uncle Lulu had told him to sleep in a pile with the wolves. It had been a very comfortable night. He thought of the training he’d done with his uncle Jayko. How he’d tried some of his uncle’s agility exercises and fallen on his ass. Jayko had laughed heartily at that one. At the time, Shin hadn’t found it very funny, but looking back on it… he allowed himself a momentary smile.

They spent over an hour with their heads bowed like that. Then, one by one, they started raising their heads and opening their eyes.

Reira scanned the crowd. “Now, with these thoughts, these memories of how they enriched our lives, let us honour them in their passing. Let their earthly remains be consumed and let us carry on for their sakes as well.”

She stepped away from the pyre and nodded. Isaac and Zero sent two balls of flame into the wood at the base. The flames quickly reached the bodies.

Those watching put their hands to their foreheads in a respectful salute, letting the tears fall from their eyes.

Eventually, the burning was complete. Those at the ceremony quietly retrieved their helmets or hats. Some talked quietly among themselves, some went off to be alone. Lennard grabbed his horse and rode for home by himself.

Isaac approached Reira. “It was a lovely ceremony,” he said. “I’m sure that Lulu would have been honoured.”

“It’s funny,” Reira said. “Before he died he thought about how all of us were heroes, people who tried to make everything better, except himself.”

“He never could give himself credit,” Isaac said.

“You should return to the Academy,” Reira said. “They’ll be missing you and Moira.”

“I’d like to,” Isaac stated. “But there’s something else I need to do. Something…”

“Lexine and I are going to tell Elaine about Lulu,” Reira interrupted.

“You’re sure?” Isaac asked. “I was his brother.”

“And I his sister,” Reira said. “Perhaps not by blood, but all of us shared a strong familial bond after the whole incident with Zenas and the gauntlet. Don’t argue. I was with him in his mind when he died. There are some things that only I can tell her.”

Isaac nodded. “All right, but who’s going to tell Jayko’s comrades about what happened to him?”

“Lennard,” Reira answered. “He’s already on his way. He could’ve told someone, but he’s Lennard so he didn’t.”

“Well, that’s Lennard for you,” Isaac said.

The two looked back over at the ashes of the pyre.

“Goodbye, Lulu,” Isaac whispered. “Goodbye, Jayko.”

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Purification episode 103: The Second Line

Jayko dived for the fallen orb but Typhon was too fast. The titan scooped it up and hurled it away, somewhere beyond the horizon. Jayko hurriedly backed away from him.

“Move in,” Axel ordered. “Don’t let him take one step from this place. Even if it costs our lives, we can’t let him take one step away!” He turned to Lexine and Shin. “You two stay back. As long as you’re here he’ll stick around to finish you.” He led the Nervius troops against Typhon.

“For Sir Lulu!” the dark elf commander said, raising her blade. Her soldiers cried out in agreement and they joined Axel’s forces against the titan.

Typhon easily tossed aside a group of soldiers, advancing slowly but surely.

Florence slashed, his serpentine blade extending through the air. It entangled Typhon in its grasp. Lennard was right behind it, slashing at the great titan with his Zweihänder. Typhon easily shattered Florence’s blade and tossed them both aside.

“It’s okay,” Reira said. “They’re alive, just knocked out. He doesn’t seem interested in killing any mortals aside from the ones he’s compelled to.” She glanced back at Lexine and Shin. “Just make sure you stay away from him.”

“How long until they’re ready for the dispel?” Lexine asked.

Reira glanced at the rapidly diminishing line of soldiers. “Too long.”

“Then I’d better go,” Lexine said. “If I play things defensively then I should be able to buy some time.”

“Lexine…” Reira began.

“Don’t worry,” Lexine said. “I have no intention of dying out there.” She kissed Reira tenderly and hurried to the field.

Lexine approached Typhon from the side. She couldn’t get too close, if she did then she knew that she wouldn’t be making it back to Reira. She picked up a stone and hurled it at the titan, hitting him in the head and catching his attention. Then she ran.

His fireballs followed, very nearly hitting her more than once. She quickly lost count of how many had detonated near her. The area quickly became sweltering. She fell to the ground avoiding another fireball and just managed to regain her feet in time to avoid one that hit right where she had rolled. “Not yet?” She thought.

“They still need more time,” Reira’s voice answered.

Lexine brought out her shield. It wouldn’t survive a hit from one of his attacks, but if it took the brunt of it she might, at least until he decided to follow up on it.

*****

“I’m going too,” Shin declared.

“You stay!” Reira stated, her voice firm. “She’s got experience. She can make it.”

“Not by herself,” Shin said. “With two of us as targets we might just make it.” He ran after Lexine.

*****

The fireball slammed against her shield with a tremendous impact, shattering it into pieces and sending her sprawling.

She worked to regain her footing from that position, but another was coming and she knew she couldn’t dodge it in time. Reira, I… 

She felt herself being roughly tossed away. She looked over at the spot where she had been just in time to see Jayko blasted apart.

*****

“Prepare yourself, Fiend!” Shin declared. He ran directly for Typhon, turning away just before coming into range of the Titan’s arms.

“Thou seekest to distract me from my other prey, fledgling?” Typhon asked. “No matter, I can deal with thee first and return for her.” 

He turned his attention to Shin, blasting fireballs at him. Shin dodged desperately, barely managing to avoid the first four. The fifth very nearly hit him but he was grabbed by a horse and rider.

“Caide?” Shin asked. “What are you…”

“Shut up!” she cried. “I’m getting you out of here!” She led her horse away as fast as it would gallop, directing it away from the fireballs that followed after them.

Typhon pointed at the retreating pair, a beam of light shot from his finger, exploding in front of the horse and sending Shin and Caide flying from the poor animal.

Caide caught Shin in mid-air and twisted so that she cushioned the impact for him when they eventually landed.

“Caide!” Shin cried, getting off of her. He hurriedly checked her pulse and thanked the Gods. She was alive, but for how long? He glanced at Typhon, the titan was smirking at him, ready to go in for the kill.

“I don’t think so!” Axel cried. He made a flying leap, his knees connecting with Typhon’s chin. “I may not care about either of those idiots,” Blutrünstig slashed across Typhon’s chest “but I know if you get to them then you’ll leave this area to continue your mission,” Axel moved behind the titan and jabbed Blutrünstig into his back “and there are two girls I can’t let you touch, no matter what!”

“Arrogant mortal, playing with toys thee can’t comprehend. Thinking thee can stop me!” Typhon grabbed Axel and hurled him into the air. Then he pointed.

His beam hit the warrior king in mid-air, sending him hurtling to the ground near the trio of wizards.

Axel managed to tilt his head up and look at Zero once more. “Axra… Rach… el… prot…” he coughed up blood and went still.

Issac and Moira nodded at each other. Isaac squeezed Zero’s hand as a signal to him.

“Dispel magic!” the three cried in unison. Typhon was surrounded by a shimmering field for a moment before it vanished.

The titan looked over at the struggling to rise Lexine. Then over to Shin, who was poised to shield the fallen Caide.

He laughed, it was a deep booming laugh. “Mortals, thou hath freed me from my bonds. Now, I can free my brethren and strike against the usurper and his kin!” Typhon bowed and was gone in the blink of an eye.

“Sounds like he’s gunning for Zeus,” Moira observed. She scanned the battlefield. “We lost so much.”

Isaac nodded. “Lulu, Jayko…”

Not to mention the regular soldiers he hit too hard when shoving away or who landed badly. Reira’s voice said. I’d say a good four dozen at least. There’s also King Axel. 

Isaac looked over at Zero. He was cradling Axel’s body in his arms, tears flowing from his eyes.

“You did it,” Zero whispered. “You protected Axra and Rachel but… but why did you have to throw your life away for it you, Idiot? You stupid, stupid Fool.” Zero’s head fell to Axel’s charred chest and he didn’t move away for a long time.

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