On the southern side, bane thralls crept through the night, stealing toward the zealots, axes poised to split heads from necks. Wrathe brought his horse around, leading the creeping shadow-warriors into this new fight, whirling his scythe about his head and driving them on.
Asphyxious looked upon the knights marching across his temple, and knew that whatever happened, their souls would never be his. He could see them without seeing them – they burned strong and clear with resolve, but they bowed in a wind that did not draw them toward him, but rather away. A reclaimer; a powerful one, if the lich was any judge.
As Deneghra cast her webs around them, sapping their strength and vigour, he let the shadows take him, soaring aloft to land in a waiting wood that stretched and bound its branches to receive and protect him. Leaves fell from the trees, but their roots rose to snare and trip the feet of the living. Asphyxious was safe.
Even as the tide of dead men surged toward him, the High Reclaimer stood resolute, knowing his moment was at last upon him. He raised Cremator to the heavens, let its fire light up the night, and then brought down the cloud of smoking ash upon the head of the giant thrall menacing his warjack.
Of course, every dead Mechanithrall is a new Mechanithrall waiting to happen. Neal knows this of old, and will consequently take any steps to kill a Necrosurgeon if one presents itself. The Flameguard could do it, but there was one Mechanithrall in their path. What to do, what to do…
Neal has a plan… what is it, what is it?
As the ash cleared, Rhupert leapt forward, not even thinking, compelled by some force from the darkest recesses of his mind, behind a door that only opened for his music. Slinging his pipes back over his shoulder, he drew his sword and struck the mechanithrall’s head from its shoulders, letting it fold and die at the feet of the Flameguard. Even as they charged by him, he felt the High Reclaimer’s gaze on him.
For once, Rhupert could meet that gaze with something like respect.
A gout of green fire spat from his scythe, enveloping a burly zealot who lugged a great stone menofix behind him. The man died screaming, robes and skin tearing up alike, and Wrathe shriekd his praises to the Dragonfather as he drove his horse on.
Other zealots advanced more cautiously around the stinking fog, casting their bombs at the thralls that lay beyond.
Faith was in their hearts and fire in their hands, but it was too late, all too late.
Deneghra ran to her master’s side, her left arm trailing uselessly behind her, and her right clutched to her broken shoulder.
“They hold the Temple, lord! I can keep them there, but I cannot kill them! My thralls strike at them, but I see no wounds!”
“It matters not,” Asphyxious hissed. “The carrion-priest coddles his flock; their souls are forfeit, as were the ancient sacrifices. Weave your magics on me; I go to release them!”
With a word, and a drop of her precious blood, it was done. Asphyxious swept forward, and the crude weapons of passing zealots passed through him. As he reached the temple’s south-east corner, he laid eyes on the hunched reclaimant, and with a curse he rent the man’s armour to shreds.
The High Reclaimer turned, and raised Cremator. Here, at last, was the foe he had come to slay; wounded, one hand clutched to a crushed section of its chest, ripe for the slaying. Silent as the grave, he readied himself… but the lich came no closer. Instead, it raised up the lance it bore, and let fall points of green light from the cages at its waist.
Each point glowed and grew, and they surrounded the lich, balefire in their eyes and ghostly weapons hefted in their hands. The lich returned his salute, fading back into the night with a harsh and hollow laughter.
The ghostly warriors charged. One and two the Reclaimer smote, Cremator’s fire passing through them and tearing them to shadows. The third came at him from the side, swinging its axe two-handed.
Its blade passed through him, and he fell.
|When you really need it, there it is.|