The Commissioner narrowed her eyes. She turned to the Quinen, and nodded her head.
The Warlock sighed. He stepped forward, past most of the Command Crew, as the Commissioner rallied them and led them into the Lift. “Get to safety!” she shouted to them.
The Warlock clenched his fists. He should be cleared of Dissonance now, and he could probably throw a few spells across without incurring it. He grit his teeth, and bared the tattoos on his arms. It was well worth noting that the Instruments he had were not exactly needed in casting Workings, but having it certainly helps ease the Casting and helps lower the chances of Dissonance incurring.
The suit of Armor walked a few steps forward. The flurrying snow had frozen the smoke and fire wholesale so that now they looked like sculptures of ice. Its red eyes flared. “…YOUARETHEWARLOCK…”
Quinen blinked. “How do you know?”
“Of course you have.” He rolled his eyes at that.
The Commissioner walked up beside Quinen, a slugpiece levelled at the suit of Armor. Her stance was straight and proper, yet relaxed and ready to dodge out of the way. Unlike more archaic missile weapons like crossbows, the magitechnical mechanisms of the slugpiece didn’t produce powerful recoil, so moving about while firing was much easier.
“Warlock,” she said, her voice a rising to a shout so that she could be heard above the loud winds. “What did that thing say?”
“I think that’s another Transplanar entity,” Quinen said, his voice a shout now as well.
“It’s mocking us!” shouted Quinen again. Something fluttered in his stomach, and from the way it talked he knew that he didn’t need a Sense Avalon Working to work out where it came from.
The Commissioner gazed quickly at the room, watching the half wind-blown, half frozen state of the HQ. She furrowed her eyebrows. “Backup should be coming soon.”
“So what, we just have to keep it occupied?”
“Preferably,” said the Commissioner, nodding. “Or, we can bind it. Is that not a common Magickal trick? A Binding Circle?”
Quinen shrugged. “It is. But a Binding Circle here?”
“Then what is the optimal location?”
The Armor charged at them. Quinen reached out to the space behind the armor, and warped Timespace. The Commissioner dove off to one side, caught a table, and vaulted over it. Quinen reappeared on the other end, his stomach churning. The walking suit of Armor crashed against nothing, and it slowed to a grinding halt.
The Commissioner hit the ground, rolled, and then fired. Quinen squinted his eyes that the sword on the Armor’s back — way too large to be pragmatic, but getting hit by that would most probably hurt a lot. The Warlock quickly glanced behind him to the Commissioner, opened his mouth, and then turned back. The Commissioner glanced at him at that moment, and Quinen pointed outside.
How are we gonna get it outside? He thought to himself. To his surprise, though, the Commissioner nodded once, her eyes completely dead serious.
The Armor turned around and lunged at the Commissioner. The woman tsked, flipped backwards, and as she hit the ground she shouted, “I pray to thee, Adon!” The Armor didn’t stop its lunge, and managed to backhand the Commissioner, sending her hurtling through the air and against one of the glass walls, shattering it, and through the wall, against the steel railings outside.
Quinen winced, and then turned to the suit of Armor. It looked strangely at the Commissioner, and the turned to the Warlock. It still didn’t pull out that sword, but it walked along, expecting Quinen to just up and fly to its grasp.
Quinen shook his head. “Manipulate Energy!” He reached out and grasped a hammer of force, slammed it against the Armor. It flew to the side suddenly and slammed onto the wall. The Warlock turned to his left and ran to the Commissioner.
She was on the ground, on one knee, with a hand gripping the steel railing which had bent outwardly. She rose to her feet as Quinen reached her, and shook her head. “I’m alright. Get ready to form the Binding Circle.
Quinen nodded, but the doubt still nagged in his mind that a normal Binding Circle wouldn’t work. Besides, Binding Circles took up a lot of time to make, if you wanted one that was half-competent…
“Okay, so the Binding Circle that I’d be able to make is not going to hold it for long,” said Quinen.
The Commissioner straightened. She waved a hand at the Warlock. “A few minutes of holding should be enough. The Backup I requested has firepower.”
Quinen grit his teeth, and looked to the Armor that was removing itself from the wall. “Alright. I’ll trust you on that.”
The Commissioner nodded. “Go.”
“Wait, Commissioner,” he grabbed Haliyn’s arm. “I’ll implant this spell onto you so that the kinetic force would be buffeted.”
The Commissioner pulled her arm free from the Warlock. “I need not your Magicks,” she said. She took a step, and then paused. “But your assistance would be helpful.”
Quinen imparted a Manipulate Energy about her to shift the kinetic force around her automatically for the next few hours. Hopefully that was all that they needed.
Quinen inhaled as the Commissioner ran inside, pulling out a sword. Cold bit his feet, and he winced.
Ignoring the first few vestiges of Dissonance, he turned to the steel railings, shrugged, and vaulted over it.
That was always a strange feeling. Down the almost hundred storeys of the Naphli HQ, straight down, down, down. Plummeting down from the tip of the Top of the World and straight onto the bitumen floor below. Splat. That’s what fallen angels would’ve probably thought.
There was that weird sinking feeling, the feeling of yourself being pulled down to the ground. Quinen flailed through the air, and the anticipation of hitting the ground almost killed him.
How long, he wondered, would it take him to hit the ground?
Normally, he meant. Not Magickally.
Quinen turned around, stretched out both his arms as he fell down half of the building and screamed, “Manipulate Timespace!”
The space in front of him warped, like a mirror being melted into gray goo, and then suddenly straightened, as if the gray goo bounced back into mirror. As if the mirror was some malleable thing.
When you teleport, especially with just a Timespace spell, momentum is usually lost. So despite Quinen already having fallen half the height of the hundred-floor spire, he hit the ground beneath it with his feet, perfectly safe and unharmed.
He turned around, and saw a bunch of people crowding about, with a few other Naphlimen keeping them at bay. Quinen looked up and saw a few of the xi-ri aerial units converging in on the top floor, as well as other corvids converging in on the position.
He turned around him, and saw that there was enough space to make a big enough Binding Circle. He called for the others to free him some space, and he answered that it was the Commissioner’s orders to do it when he was asked why or met resistance.
He licked his lips, stretching out the hand tattooed in the Matter symbols, and said, “Manipulate.”
He touched the bitumen and began tracing. As he did, he Manipulated the Matter so that the floor hollowed out and the residue tossed to the side. He began his first stroke, which was horribly crooked. Without stopping, he idly hoped that the Commissioner was doing better than he was.
* * *
The Commissioner hurtled backwards and crashed against the sculpture of ice that the fire and smoke had become. Blood dribbled from her lip.
“…SHOULDYOUWISHTODIETHENIWILLBEYOURREAPER…” the voice echoed like stones being crushed. The Armor still hadn’t pulled out its sword.
The Commissioner winced. She was suddenly grateful at the kinetic buffeting shield the Warlock had put up around her. She raised her sword and watched as the Armor lumbered towards her.
As the Armor came out of the room and out into the landing pad, one of the Corvids cricling the building opened fire. Little slugs buffeted the walking suit of armor, but it didn’t even budge. It only kept walking, pain being only a distant memory to it.
One of their xi-ri units flew down, and the huge six-winged creature raked at the Armor with its claws. Two claws connected, scratching against tough steel, but the Armor caught one of its wing-appendages, broke it in half, and then threw the beast out of their field.
The Commissioner scowled. More slugs erupted from the Corvid, only to bounce harmlessly from the Armor.
She knelt down on one knee, and pressed one hand against her chest. “Adon, oh Adon, heed my call. Answer the prayer of thine closest servant…”
The Armor burst forward, and would’ve caught the Commissioner if it weren’t for two of the Naphli’s liquidsteel armor units jumping in and slicing, shooting, and distracting the Armor. The Armor turned to one of them, moved in a burst of speed, turning into a flurry of destruction, and punched a hole deep through the chest of one of them.
The other liquidsteel unit ran up to the Commissioner. “Commissioner. We have to escape.”
The liquidsteel unit tried to convince her, to persuade her from facing certain death, when a voice echoed through his comms. He nodded, turned around, and jumped off of the landing pad, only to be caught by one of the xi-ri.
“…Adon, oh Adon, I quoth thee and beseech thee. Bequeath unto me the visage and the power of one of thine servants. I call upon the Heavenly Angel of War and Fire! Rashni! Let the Fires of Adon shine through me!”
An orange, blue, white, and red flame exploded from behind the Commissioner, completely melting away the ice on the floor and the sculpture behind her. Vigor coursed through the Commissioner, as the torrents of flame formed wings. The Commissioner rose to her feet, and the flames expanded, soon billowing out into a flaming conflagration shaped into the visage of something humanoid wearing armor, with wings spread out behind it like powerful, perpetually exploding bombs.
She raised her Naphli sword, and the flaming entity — Rashni — raised its hand. The Armor paused, looked at the flaming silhouette, and reached for its sword.
* * *
Quinen saw the sudden burst of light and the following flames. The Commissioner had said so herself that she wasn’t a Magicker like him, but that she could speak to Souls and call upon the Powers of Adon himself. Quinen thought it all bollocks, but seeing the flaming thing up there… well there was some sort of Magickal Resonance from it. But he couldn’t exactly pinpoint what.
He continued on forging the Binding Circle. The crudely drawn circle was about to close, and a little trail of bituminous residue lay beside the small engraving he had made on the concrete. Once it was done, he began drawing the geometries within that would speak Bindings — a square, with a star within, and with the Ascendant Rune for the word “Bound”.
Drawing it from memory sucked.
* * *
“Fool!” shouted the Commissioner, and the Armor pulled out its sword. When it waved it around in a quick flourish, ice trailed after it, as if it was freezing the air in its path. It twirled it about and then pointed the tip of the frostic blade at the flaming angel.
“The Flames of Adon burn you!” and she lunged forward, her Naphli blade flashing forward, conflagrance blazing after it. The Armored thing stepped forward, and cut with its blade.
In a second, the freezing blade met with the flaming sword, and the flame slowly frosted over. In mid-Conflagration, the flames froze, becoming a sculpture of fire. Then, lightning arced through Rashni, and the flames that were not yet frozen began blazing forward, burning through the ice and crashing against the steel.
“…IAMGAROMEOSANDYOUWILLBEKNELTMYNYMPHICFROSTCONSUMEYOU…” Garomeos stepped forward, cloak billowing behind him, and he moved three times. It was blazingly fast — in the time it took for a flame to roar, three moving slashes materialized and struck at Rashni. The flames met the slashes, and the Commissioner didn’t budge.
Right after the slashes were eaten up by the flames, though, a second — as if an afterimage — blade of ice coagulated and came down once again. The ice was overwhelming, freezing the tips of the flames again, freezing heat itself in an impossible perversion of thermodynamics.
Then Garomeos finished it off with one single thrust of his blade. Rashni moved, and she tore apart into three different flaming balls that moved behind Garomeos and formed together again, blazing into the form of the Commissioner. She swung her Naphli blade, and Rashni’s flame followed quickly, whipping at the back of the Transplanar entity.
The blow was so powerful that Garomeos hurtled forward, ice slowly melting off of it, and the entity broke through the steel railings, stumbling down as the dwarfen forces of the Mund pulled it to the ground.
Haliyn, possessed by Rashni, burst forward, flaming wings carrying them to the edge and then down the glass walls. The searing hot flames vexed and warped the glass walls of the Naphli Spire.
Garomeos had twisted in mid air, struck its sword into the side of the building and grinded to a halt. Ice erupted behind the blade, resembling a cloud of dust that had been frozen instantly.
Rashni screamed as she sent three balls of flame with every swing of her blade. Garomeos moved, and froze the three balls in mid-flight, causing them to melt away as it neared Garomeos.
Before the Transplanar entity could react, Rashni slammed against it, melting through some of its steel and then sending it hurtling through the cloud of ice it had made.
Rashni didn’t let up. Her flaming wings acted as propellers, exploding backwards and sending her straight down, through the cloud of white caused by the shattering of the ice sculpture. She saw Garomeos twisting through the air, and she slashed with her blade — one, two, three, four. Four flaming slashes burnt into the Armor. The fifth slash was met by a blade, and then a quick counter-slash that sent Rashni down past Garomeos.
Garomeos was above now, and it sent gales of ice surging through its boots. Three slashes of its blade, each one met with a parry from Rashni, before Rashni kicked with her boot and sent Garomeos hurtling back. Garomeos twisted and threw the blade of everfrost toward the flaming angel.
Rashni parried Garomeos away, but it turned and, without being held, thrust. Rashni twisted, avoiding the thrust, but Garomeos sent its sword down on her from behind, but her blade was quick enough to block it. She twisted around it, and sent it flying back to Garomeos just as Garomeos caught up to her, caught the blade, and slashed once again.
Rashni blocked the first one, but a frozen afterimage came and slammed against her shoulder. Blood seeped, flames burst. They were nearing the ground.
Rashni twisted, bringing her foot with her as she did. She managed to move around Garomeos as Garomeos tried to parry away a kick that wasn’t coming, and she sent her kick as a whipping flame towards the Transplanar Entity. It grunted, and she burst forward with her two flaming wings.
She twirled as she delivered five slashes in quick rhythm, turned, and sent a final sixth slash blazing with blue flame, that was blocked by Garomeos, right as it crashed onto the ground.
Rashni redirected her course, flaming wings exploding behind her, as she curved upwards and into the sky.
* * *
“Shit.” Quinen had moved out of the way. He watched the Dancing Angel fight the Frozen Alien as they barrelled down the side of the building. He managed to finish the crudely made Binding Geometries and the Rune just as Rashni managed to twirl behind Garomeos.
Quinen dove out of the way as Garomeos crashed onto the ground, sending thousands of bitumen pieces flying and a massive cloud of dust around it. As Quinen rolled he got up on his feet, turned, clapped his hands together and screamed, “Bind!”
There was a powerful, overt Magickal burst as the lines flared with white Diwal power. A veil of light erupted out of the engravings, creating a flaring circle around the Transplanar Entity.
Rashni fell beside Quinen, and Quinen had to move a few feet away because of the searing heat. “HOW LONG?”
“A minute, tops!”
As the smoke cleared within, Garomeos rose to its feet. For a second it looked about it paused, wondering probably at what this curtain of light around it meant.
Rashni turned up to the Corvids that surrounded them, and she shouted — with a voice Quinen was sure reached up to the heavens: “NOW!”
There was a muted silence as the Corvid swept in low and a human threw out a small ball that burned white. Quinen blinked, and then realized what it was just as it struck Garomeos’ steel.
He turned around, reached out for a Timespace Working to get him out of there, but the only answer was Dissonance freezing his toes and fingers and causing painful spasms across his entire being.
He fell onto the ground.
There was an ear-splitting crack.
Somebody had shouted, “Diwal Orb!”