Lunacy 7

Only the skies watched.

The hobgoblins and the orks and the jifarin and the aelfes descended from the sky on prismatic wings, a descending steel chaos. They brought destrucrtion upon the proud city of Throne. Large, spiralling buildings were cut in half, buildings were razed, some people were taken back into the vortex, while others were killed on the spot.

The Throne of Civilization fell to Beautiful Madness.


* * *

It was much akin to someone opening the lights.

When the Emperor moved, darkness fell, and light shone through, in that setsuna moment it took for one to blink.

The hobgoblins fell. A massive discharge of air boomed as the atmosphere rushed in to fill a vacuum. Deloreia was already running forward as the Emperor dropped on both feet, unharmed, and the hobgoblins — each one of varying levels of crushed, yet all of them surely dead — fell to the ground, writhing. “I have to get to the rest of the knights!”

“That is the plan.” Emperor’s voice rang true from within his leonine helm. More hobgoblins descended upon them. “Quickly, Del!”

“I’m on it!”

The Emperor moved again. In his perspective, evertyhing was much slower. He simply leapt up to the sky, magitechnical Regalia propelling him forty feet up and forward, and crashed against one hobgoblin. But instead of that hobgoblin being torn apart by the force of his blow, the victim instead floated backwards, looking like it was punched but in slow motion.

In fact, everything was in slow motion.

Thirty hobgoblins surrounded them. The Emperor jumped from the floating hobgoblin and onto another, cracking a helm, and then another, destroying a shield, and then another, breaking an arm, and then another shattering a skull, until all the thirty hobgoblins had been blown apart by some invisible force.

The Emperor fell to the ground, right beside Deloreia, as speed caught up to him, and everything exploded.

“Stop using too much Manifests, Emperor.”

The Emperor was breathing heavily, seemingly gasping for air. “You’re right.”

“In little doses.”

As they ran forward, closing in on the mouth of Slum City and soon arriving in the next ward, as the city fell down about them, three larger creatures — all of them seemingly of the same ken as the hobgoblins, with the tusks bulging out from their lower jaws and black bulbous eyes and gray skin. These ones had large, ram-like horns, and stood twelve feet tall, and no wings behind their backs. They carried with them weapons — two of them brandished spear and shields, while one brandished a large, two-headed sledgehammer.

“Orks!” shouted Deloreia.

While Del halted her running to a stop, the Emperor only ran faster. “I got this.”

“You’ll run out of Manifests, Emperor!”

“I can take ‘em without them!” And he leapt forward once again and slammed onto the lead ork like a white-plated boulder. The impact flung that ork backward and stopped the Emperor’s forward momentum, and he dropped to the ground, rolled, and two of the other orks moved in. The Emperor saw the one to the left, caught his spear thrust — the other one’s spear glanced off of his white plating — crushed it with a nonchalant vice grip as he pulled that ork closer and slammed his fist in his gut. That ork doubled over, the Emperor turned and surprised the second ork with a backhanded slap, followed by a low kick that threw the ork off of his feet. At that split second, the Emperor activated his Manifest for a split second — only long enough to be fast enough to catch that ork mid-fall — and he swung his hammer fist. The Manifest ended — a tap activation — and the ork flew back onto a nearby building, destroying the front wall and skidding to a stop as it exploded out on the other side.

The Emperor elbowed the recovering ork behind him, turned, caught his head with his hand and slammed him onto the pavement. Skull burst. Gossamer threads returned to Avalon.

Breathing hard, he turned and ran. Deloreia was already running.


* * *


“Chrys!” was all Chrysanthemum heard as the winged demons slammed against the CRT and destroyed the entire transportation service.

Swords and wings and spears wickedly sharp rent through the various cars, cut the elevated railway. Kasu grabbed Chrysanthemum’s hand as they were tossed to and fro within the train as the train flew off the rails, hurtling straight towards a building to the side of the CRT.

“Oh, fuck.” Kasu cursed as she threw her palmnode out of a shattered window — in the midst of all the screaming and gurgled shouts — and she Manipulated Data once again. “Close your eyes!”

Chrysanthemum did as she was told. There was a split second of nothingness, of floating through the void, and then when she awoke once again, they were in the vast turquoise sea that was the Datascape.

“We’re… safe?”

“No,” said Kasu, staring out of a monitor. Outside, the scene was shifting quickly, as if some sort of camera hurtled through the air and then slammed against the ground. Kasu sighed. “It’s still intact.”

“What’s still–” Kasu grabbed Chrysanthemum’s hand and jumped through that monitor.


Another blackness, another void. This time, Chrys thought that she’d be lost in them, and she screamed. She screamed silence.


And then they were on a burning rooftop. Chrysanthemum opened her eyes, and saw Kasu’d palmnode, fizzing with strange gray haze. She stood up quickly and looked around for Kasu, and saw her leaning against one of the balustrades of the rooftop, her back arched in pain, one hand holding the other, which was enveloped in some sort of glitching gray flame.

“Kasu, are you okay?”

Kasu’s back hit the ground, and she grunted. She moved her feet, and pushed herself up against the balustrade, cursing again and again, and again. “Nothing. It’s Dissonance.” And she grimaced in pain.

Chrysanthemum ran to her as a scream bubbled up from her lips. Her Dataturge, sounding like she was on the cusp of dying, the pain so great that her scream cut above the rest of the screams they were surrounded in.

She shook her head as Chrysanthemum held her. I’m okay, I’m okay. Get the palmnode. We have to keep moving. We’re almost to the Cathedral.

Chrys nodded, and she moved over to the square node, picked it up, and gave it to Kasu.

Kasu nodded in thanks, and then she jerked her head in a direction. Chrysanthemum followed her motion, and saw the large, spires of the Cathedral rending the heavens.

And they were being attacked by various creatures.

“Can you walk?”

Kasu got up to her feet. “This is nothing. Hurry.”

Chrysanthemum nodded. They made their way down the scaffolding ladders that eventually led to the ground. In that alleyway they landed in, two hobgoblins descended upon them, like steel cockroaches.

At the mouth of the alleyway, a gigantic humanoid walked in, along with two, twelve feet tall humanoids wearing chitinous armor that actually made them look like cockroaches. The gigantic humanoid that presumably led them was only humanoid from the waist up. Waist down, he was a slithering serpent.

Jifarin, orks, adn hobgoblins,” said Chrysanthemum, the names dropping from her mouth like sweet ichor. “They follow the Contract of Dwarf.”

Kasu blinked. “They do?” Pain was still evident in her voice.

“Yes.” And then, something clicked within her. Maybe it was the sight of other Avalonian creatures, or maybe it was the presence of those that abide by the Contract of Dwarf. She stepped forward, raised her hand high up into the air, and bellowed, “CREATURES OF DWARF! HEED THE CALL OF YOUR PRINCESS. HEAR AND BECKON, AND FOLLOW MY WILL. THUS WAS SIGNED IN THE CONTRACT OF DWARF.” Chrysanthemum closed her eyes.

Kasu gasped.

When Chrysanthemum opened her eyes again, she saw that the five cratures — the jifarin, the two orks, and the two hobgoblins, have all bowed to her.

By Adon’s bloody balls.”

Chrysanthemum grinned, thrilled, and adrenaline surging through her. She turned to Kasu. “Let’s go!” And she ran out of the alleyway. Kasu followed suit, running into the main street and then down the tattered and destroyed roads and pavements. As they ran, more hobgoblins descended upon them, but orks jumped in their way, swinging large axes only they could lift, and destroying hobgoblins in one fell swoop. The jifarin leapt over them and caught five hobgolins with a swipe of a tail. The two other hobgoblins kept close to them, using shortbows to shoot other hobgoblins out of the sky.

Chrysanthemum continued her mad dash to the Cathedral.


* * *


Kotoro drove the cab and dropped off quickly, bolting up the stairs. A hobgoblin had been impolite enough to crash in front of the windshield and kill his cab driver. Of course, he returned the gesture, sending knives of steel and asphalt and glass into the hobgoblins body which ravaged him from within.

He ran up the stairs and into the room of Urie. All of them were awake, having barricaded every part of the room except the front door. When Kotoro entered, Sanami heaved a heavy breath and fell to her knees, and Urie closed the door behind Kotoro, and began hammering heavy beams of steel. Kotoro turned, realized what he was doing, and performed a quick Manipulate spell, strengthening the beams, creating a strong barricade. He walked over to the other barricades and Manipulated them, strengthening them, making them firmer and denser, as well as fusing them perfectly onto the windows.

By the time he was done, there were no openings anymore in the room.

Gharth was laying Sanami onto the bed as she breathed. Sersha watched Kotoro. Urie walked out and whistled. “You’re not scared or anything, are you?” The Captain looked at him from up to down. “You were attacked?”

Kotoro nodded. He realized, then and there, that this was probably not the best time to impart the knowledge he’d gotten, although the magickal resonance was palpable, and he could most probably follow the trail immediately.

He pondered if he should. Then he realized his duties lay before him. Shen — despite not being born here — needed their help.

“The sky is falling.”

Urie snorted.

“We must get to the headquarters,” said Sersha. “No doubt our men will be there.”

“No, we can’t,” said Urie. “We’ll get destroyed out there, Officer. They have hobgoblins and orks running around!”

Gharth stood straight. “Then we must do what we have pledged our lives to do.”

The three of them turned to the anzu as he turned around. “Protect the people.”

Kotoro opened his mouth to protest just how they could do that, when a thought suddenly struck his mind, like an arrow shot from a spirit of intelligence.

Instead, it was Captain Urie who said, “And how do you propose we do that?”

Kotoro spoke his mind. “The Collegium.”

Sersha’s teimach flared with green approval. Urie turned to him… and then realization dawned. “The Wards.”

“They will be strengthened, but surely the portals would be open. They already reject anything they aren’t supposed to allow.”

“So what do we do?” Urie asked.

“We… We round up as many civillians as we can. And we bring them into the Collegium.”

“As much as we can,” said Sersha.

“As much as we can,” said Gharth.

“As much as we can,” said Urie.

“As much as we can,” echoed Kotoro, finally.


They found a stray, beat up van. Kotoro jumped on the steering wheel. Urie packed his slugblaster, Gharth, Sersha, and Sanami prepared their swords and spells and what have you.

The van was empty, but blood slicked everywhere. The few remaining prismatic feathers of a hobgoblin attacker still hung in the air.

“Let’s go,” said Urie, on the passenger’s seat. He turned around at the others, who all sat silent, as if the sounds of chaos outside sang a distant requiem for them.

Kotoro turned, and steeled his resolve. “As much as we can.” And he drove off.


* * *


The open ruin that is the room of the Dean silently allowed snow within. If one were to stand at the cusp of the hole created thanks to the brief fight between the Siddivata girl and the Vizier of Magick, one would be able to see the flurrying of snow, and the constant barrage of the hobgoblins, orks, and jifarin from outside, resembling a bloodthirsty rain of steel.

Bypassing that barrier, was a tall woman with a gown made of thunderstorms and clouds. Beside her was a draconian serpentine thing, with feet that resembled wicked tiger’s paws, and a head that had a flowing mane like a lion, and leathery wings that if unfurled would’ve blocked out the daystar.

She stood at that same cusp, in that hole in the Dean’s house. She could hear the bustling now of people, and the various men and women, Savants and Students, rushing to and fro within the Collegium, doing many things, no doubt trying to cull their casualties.


She turned and looked at the door. Nobody had bothered to barge in. “And my glamour works.”

Pixiu bowed before her. “I am the dragon that eats and is never satisfied,” he said. “And I serve thee.”

“I know,” said Zinnia. “But you are beholden to Hyacinth, are you not?”

“She is my lady.”

“For now, you are oathbound not to betray me.” And following those were was a wisp of gossamer, and Pixiu nodded.

“It is oathed.”

“Now where in the Hells is the Dean…”

“May I ask, Lady Zinnia,” spoke Pixiu. “How you were able to manage to get into the Collegium without being blocked by the barrier?”

“Oh, the Dean is a man of many mistakes. He has allowed my essence past the barrier. Somehow, it seems, he has limited this privilege to just me.”

Pixiu moved over to the hole. When one of his wings momentarily unfurled, they bounced off of the border. “It seems we are being kept in as well.”

Zinnia spat. “And so it does. How annoying.”

A silence.  The wind howled. Shouts echoed across the Collegium grounds.

“What do we do now, milady?”

“Simply put,” she said. “Destroy Throne. Come.”

She threw her arm out against that hole, and a rent in reality burst open. She walked through it, and so did Pixiu.


Lunacy 6

The King had assembled most of his Viziers, as well as his daughter. “Where is your brother?” He’d asked Estrea, whom the King had sat on the smaller throne beside him. She sat with all the primness of a proper lady.

“He is asleep. He has expended his Thaumaturgy.”

“Ah. I should…” His mouth trailed off as the Dean entered into the Throne room, following after the Commissioner. The man was tall, gaunt of face and features, and with that same shock of white hair and beard. As he entered, the King could feel the powerful potential Magick lingering within him. This was, indeed, the Dean.

The smoking Detective that had entered turned around to face the Dean. He didn’t stop smoking, and as he waited, his smoke had burned out. Instead of pausing, he picked up another smoke and replaced it.

Quinen inhaled and fought the urge to cough. This new body isn’t taking to my old habits well.

He watched as the Dean walked up the length of the — admittedly long — Throne room. When the Dean’s eyes found him, Quinen gathered up all the asshole within him and winked. The Dean scowled. Quinen had to force himself not to burst out laughing when he saw that.


“Shut it, Warlock,” said the Commissioner as they approached the Throne. The Warlock grinned at the both of them still. The Dean’s scowl scathed, seemingly bubblign with some sort of malevolent force.

“Dean of the Throne Collegium,” said the King, from atop his glistening obsidian throne. “I see that you have been found by Rune.”

“I have.”

“But Rune is not here.”

“She is not,” said the Dean. “I figure she felt a Transplanar entity within the borders of the Collegium.”

The Viziers all tried to speak together at the same time, but the King was quick to shush them with a loud voice. “What Transplanar entity, Dean?”

Quinen scowled now, turning to him. “Why don’t you ask the detective over here?”

The King, the Viziers, and the Commissioner, all turned to Quinen.

Quinen sighed. He opened his mouth, still not quite sure what to say — should I lie? What tale can I spin? It’s easy to bump off the Dean’s accusations — housing a Transplanar entity isn’t something you see everyday. Besides I’m here trying to help them prevent it, right? That’s leverage in my favor — but the doors opened once again.


The King looked up. “What is it, messenger?”

Quinen turned to look at the messenger as he ran up to them. He wore a usual mailman’s get up: leather boots and cowhide coat, with an extra backpack on his back that looks like it was about to burst. He was gasping for air as he reached the foot of the Throne.

“The Transplanar portal, sir,” said the messenger. “It’s been opened. The First Horde of Hobgoblins-”

“They’ve come,” said the Vizier of Commerce, wearing the green mantle.

“Rally the Sentinels!” The voice of the Vizier of War boomed across the entire Throne room, carrying his voice out of the open doors.

Quinen didn’t know if that worked or not. But what was for sure, though, was the sudden sound of rain.

That doesn’t sound like rain…

Something slammed against the high glass windows behind the King’s throne. But thanks to the nature of the glass, the thing wasn’t able to break through. Nevertheless, more and more heavy, fleshy things slammed against the window like boulders of sinew and bone.

The King stood. The Princess beside the King stood as well.

“The Sentinels are on their way,” said the Vizier of War — the man with the crimson cloak and tightly braided hair.

The King turned around, looking up at the things assailing the glass — which was given a frosted texture, so the ones behind the glass couldn’t exactly see what it was slamming against the window. Their silhouettes gave enough away.

“Hobgoblins,” said Quinen. “Adon’s spit!”

The Commissioner was moving. “The Naphli must be mobilized!”

“The Sentinels are coming, sir!”

“Estruviom! We have to check on Estruviom!”

More people rushed into the chamber.

“…the Dirah Ward is holding off hobgoblin attacks High King…”

“…the Collegium is assailed!…”

“…the media is not helping us keeping the people calm…”

“…sir, must we call upon the Fires of Adon…”

The King turned around, and his eyes were flaring white, with just the tiniest tinge of violet. The noise and the bickering and the shouts and the orders and the commands grew louder and louder and noisier and dissonance filled the entire chamber and seemed like it would fill the entire Throne until: “Silence.”

The High King’s normal voice echoed across the chamber, and swept over them like a hushing wave. All fell quiet in rows, until the entire chamber was silent.

And then, the High King gave out orders.


Quinen watched as the High King directed what to do with the media, where to station the Sentinels, told the Commissioner to make sure the Wards of the Collegium were strengthened. He saw the silver-haired Princess, from his periphery, run out of view, up an electric lift.


* * *

In his sleep, Estruviom dreamt.

It was not the first time, and this was not a new dream.

He dreamed he was floating within a sea of stars, except the darkness between the stars wasn’t a darkness, but rather, a glowing blue, as if he floated in the sea’s surface, that the Sun’s light could seep through. He would look about him, and he could see lines dotting and connecting the stars together in an intricate mosaic until they made various forms and shapes… some of them humanoid.

As the shape of a man with the head of a bull was formed, and that danced around and capered, twins stepped out of the sidereal gossamer and onto the field of stars, chasing after the bull. A woman carried a pitcher of water and poured it over a scorpion as a swan flew overhead. This amazing, full-of-life caricature of stars filled Estruviom with awe.

“Estruviom. Scion of the Royal Blood.”

Estruviom turned, toward the origin of the voice. He saw two flaring stars. This one wasn’t a form made from astral lines connecting stars together. Rather, two figures emerged from those enormous flaring stars.

The figure raised a hand, and Estruviom felt very small when he realized he was only the size of a fingernail on the being’s pinky. As the being emerged from the blazing star that resembled the Daystar, he raised a hand and said, “Worry not, Estruviom,” he said. His voice was that heavy, masculine baritone. “I am Apol-Sol, The Splendent Daystar.”

To his right emerged two beings — one of them was a softly glowing yellow-white, while the other was the blackest of black. They were intertwined together, every move having two hands, every action being repeated twice — first by the glowing one, and then the other by the abyssal one. “And we are Selethem and Themola. The Nightstar.”

“Apol-Sol and Selethemola,” whispered Estruviom.

“I see you’ve read of us.”

“You are the Sidereans.”

Apol-Sol’s star-figure moved in what Estruviom could only imagine as a nod. “Now, Estruviom, we need to tell the High King something. Something dire has happened.”

“Is it the thunderstorms.”

“Indeed. Something has cut through our barriers — the Siderean Border. The Ancient Accords. We have to know who, for a Siderean Border is not something lightly to be cut, and even harder to be mended back together.

“The thunderstorms are Transplanar?”

“Yes,” said Selethem and Themola, together. As Selethemola. “From the realm of Avalon.”

“Avalon…” He shuddered. “Siddivata?”

“Indeed. And the invasion has already begun.”

“What?” Estruviom blinked. “Already? Then we must tell Father!”

“Aye, we must,” said Apol-Sol. “But I must also speak with him personally.”

“But you’re Sidereans.”

Selethemola nodded. “That is true. You know that our forms will burn the world. It would be as if stars converge into the material plane. Thus we desire a conduit.”

“You wish to speak through me?”

They were silent for a moment. The soft tinkling of the stars can be heard from a distance.

“You are a smart one, Estruviom,” said Selethemola, in a voice so low it can almost be a whisper.

“Do it,” he said. “Do it. I will be your conduit. For the sake of Throne. For Shen.”

There was another pause. “We are to give you some more time to think about — although there is not much left,” said Apol-Sol. “If we are to speak through you, our very Essence will burn you from within. You…”

“…will die.” Much to all of their surprise, it was Estruviom who said this.

Once again, silence in this star realm.

“We will awake you,” said Selethemola. “And you may confer with your friends, or your father. When you next sleep, we will be with you once again.”

“May you think wisely.”

And then they exploded, and everything was an utter white silence.


* * *


Rune looked about the room that she followed the Transplanar residue to. Inside the room was a vast array of trash and junk food, as if some homestuck dreg had lived here. On the far side of the room, against the windows that seemed to have their curtains perpetually drawn, was a desknode set up.

She felt again with her Magickal Perceptions… but found none. Either the Transplanar entity had gone back to whatever plane she came in from… or a dataturge managed to hide her resonance.

“What a hassle,” she muttered as she looked into the screens of the datanode, although none of them operated at her command. She knew dataturges manipulated data and information, but she didn’t know it was to this level of proficiency, at hiding resonances.

“How did she do it?”

After a few minutes wasted trying to think of some way — could it have been through cloaking? But the dataturge need good knowledge of the plane from which that transplanar entity came from — she decided to return to the Cathedral. No doubt something important must be going down, especially with the Dean there as well.

She walked up the stairs, up to the roof of the building once again, and that’s when she saw the hobgoblins descending from the skies.

These hobgoblins she’d encountered before, especially in the forest where the plane of Mund and the plain of Avalon coincided the most. These tusked, four-feet tall goblinoids with large bulbous heads, thick steel armor, and swords on both hands, as well as insectoid wings descended upon them. Cursing, Rune gathered up her knowledge of Spells in the Field of Energies, and sent herself shooting up to meet them. With a wave of her hand, a whip of flame sundered the first line, and then with another spell from Energies she diverted her momentum, and sent her flying towards the Cathedral.

She had to dodge and weave, cutting back hobgoblins as they came down from the sky like a vicious, transplanar rain. A hobgoblin managed a lucky hit on her, gashing a slice across her back, and then another hobgoblin almost managed to skewer her. With a word of power, she blasted all of them back with an invisible force, and then spun, bringing with her a whipe of flame, and sundered those that attacked her once again.

She crashed into a glass tower, which already had various hobgoblins within them cutting through civilians. She skidded across the floor until she landed against another hobgoblin that was in the middle of hacking down a human woman.

More hobgoblins streamed in from outside. Ten, twenty, thirty.

The Vizier of Magick looked about her. With a quick spell, she let out a lingering Perceive spell that seeked out those that still had the semblance of life within the room.

Five hobgoblins lunged at her. She blocked one with an invisible shield, cut at the other with a reactive sword of ice, dodge the third as it slid below her, and then sent two lances of wind down the two other hobgoblins’ throats, which skewered them from within.

Her lingering Magickal Perceptions told her that there was still five people alive within this floor. Manageable, she thought. She landed on her feet, deflected one hobgoblin, froze the other, and then muttered in Ascendant Speech.

In the next second, she, and five other people, were gone. One of them had been saved from a hobgoblin’s savage attack.


* * *


Emperor and Priestess ran across the streets of Slum City, watching the skies become covered in the steel, insect like buzz of the hobgoblins as they descended. The corrugated steel and thatched roofs and wooden planks of the shantytowns of the Dirah Ward were destroyed and eaten away by tusked creatures wielding various amounts of weapons with much too many spikes. They attacked with rage and without discipline, seemingly without training. They swing swords with jagged edges, sometimes gashing wounds deep into other hobgoblins, despite those hobgoblins ignoring the attack and continuing to destroy roofs and pick mund people off from them.

“Quick! Defend!” A group of non-humans burst out from the various openings and alleyways of the Ward, bringing with them planks of wood with nails hammered into them and then crooked, poles that have been broken off so that they could be given a sharp edge, others had butcher knives, while others managed slugpieces.

The hobgoblins descended upon them. The humans didn’t stand a chance. They swung their poles — and some of them managed to ground the hobgoblins — but jagged blades burst out from chests and wickedly sharp flanged maces burst skulls open.

The non-humans stood better chances. A flock of anzu flew up and distracted a bunch of hobgoblins in midair with darting strikes from improvised weapons. Belgar flew into a seeming berserk fury, slicing and slashing with claws and weapons both at the hobgoblins. They realized the hobgoblins may not have armor, and cutting through their flesh was much similar to cutting through humans.

A few lakerto fought with three weapons — a butcher knife in one hand, a steel bat in another, and a jagged, shattered wine bottle held by their tails. Zaretrych joined the fight as well, although Aravin couldn’t find Jryzz’sk anywhere.

But there was much too many, despite the small copse of resistance they have managed to make. A hobgoblins skewered a belgar with a jaggaed, barbed, spear, and then pulled it out savagely. It moved again, preparing to attack, and Aravin saw that it was moving towards a woman and her son huddled against a short alley that only ended in a dead end.

Emperor cursed. He pulled upon that Knight Vigilant instinct. He roared as he ran forward — he knew Deloreia was following behind him — and he performed a throwing gesture with his hand. “By astral and umbral — we the Knights Vigilant protect! Kirahl guide us in our endeavor!” And a bright light burst in front of him, sending winds swirling about and a bunch of other hobgoblins near him hurtling away. Aravin jumped through the light…

…and Emperor appeared on the other side, sending the hobgoblin fell to the ground with such an impact that it made a crater.

The hobgoblin lay lifeless as Emperor rose to his full height. This six and a half foot tall thing, was Emperor. It was vaguely the shape of Aravin, but laid over his skin were white interlocking plates that moved swiftly like liquid steel. This white plates looked like they were made of the brightest of alloys, and then forged in the sun. The Emperor’s helmet was shaped similarly to a lion’s except the manner was a blazing corona of blue flame. The helmet was fully closed, and the eye sockets glowed and hissed and wafted with white energy.

“You’re safe,” Emperor stated. “Run behind us.”

They both nodded and ran past Emperor. He turned, red mantle flailing wildly at the wind, and saw that the resistance had all been defeated. Belgar with sharp jagged spears lay on their sides, others lay on the air, suspended by impossible fey chains that were hammered down into the air. Humans lay split apart, or with cruel jagged cuts across their body.

Emperor turned to Deloreia. “Do not expend your Regalia just yet,” he said.

“I don’t plan to,” Deloreia said, nodding. “I trust you will be able to carry me safely to HQ?”

Emperor nodded. “I must.”

And then the Emperor took a step forward, just as a new horde of around a hundred hobgoblins descended upon the street they were in.

The Emperor took another step forward, and there was a building tension on that step. Wind flurried from around his feet, rocks seemed to rise from around him. Deloreia took a few steps back, knowing what’s to come next.

And then…

…the hobgoblins skewered a few more anzu in the air, cut open a few more children…

…destroyed a few more shantytowns, burnt a few more of the people’s hard work…

…descended and rushed towards him and Deloreia…

…the Emperor moved.