When the Wight attack came for Southpoint Beach, even Randidly was stunned by its scope. Mere 6 hours after they had landed at the harbor, they were forced to retreat as hundreds of thousands of Wights rushed in their tiny boats to assault the shore. There were so many that it was almost impossible to see the water for all the boats cruising forward towards them.
Looking at how thickly packed the groups were, Randidly cursed bitterly that he still had almost seven hours left on the cooldown for his Mana. If he had spells… especially Hammer of the Dawn, or Incendiary Eruption…
But even so, it was hard to imagine making a dent in the vast sea of Wights.
“I didn’t even think there were this many Wights alive,” Skarch said, scratching her jaw. The four of them, (Randidly, Skarch, Azriel, and Sergeant Platton) were standing on a small hill behind the main part of the base, giving them a clear view of what was occurring on it. Platton assured them that they would be able to do nothing to help, and pulled the group in the way.
Silo was currently off in the wilderness wrestling with an ever larger flow of strangely corrosive Aether, but the vibes that energy was throwing off were bad enough that he didn’t bother to inform the rest of the group that he knew where Silo was. Whatever was going on, this seemed like something the weirdo had to work through himself.
At the time of forming the original ambush plan, Randidly had been somewhat non-believing. But even he was exhausted looking at the enemies coming towards them. He rubbed his chest and winced. Sometimes there were small flickers… He wasn’t completely sure that surgeon had removed all of the crystal fragments. But Randidly understood the difficulty in doing so. It just made him uneasy.
Or perhaps he was just paranoid in the face of so many enemies.
“Can they defend?” Azriel asked Platton.
Platton shrugged, his face twisted into a frown. “…it pains me to say it, but no. Colonel Euthna is strong, but this…” He spread his hands out helplessly.
The group agreed with him, although no one voiced their opinions. The rest of Sergeant Platton’s squad was already moving ahead, setting out points for them to ambush the attacking Wights. But this group remained to bear witness to the base’s final moments. Luckily, Randidly could spot no Witch Kings, so at least that threat wasn’t hanging over the base.
“Is there no sort of equipment to fend off large groups? A canon or something?” Randidly asked, already knowing the answer.
Sergeant Platton struggled. “All beautiful things are imperfect. That is why we love them. So is our world.”
Randidly said nothing. What was there to say? It was hard not to think that the spear users had perversely chosen this end by so single-mindedly pursuing the spear.
The Wight boats hit to shore and the strange, fragile bodies leaped off and began to charge towards the base. Although their limbs were slim and sharp, their diaphanous cloaks around them gave them a strange sense of size. They seemed to be a school of vengeful jellyfish rushing out of the deep to murder the land dwellers.
When the lines met, the spear users crushed them. Then they crushed the next wave. Then the next and the next.
One by one, spear users along the line began to die. And very quickly, there were so many Wights that they could flank the group of spear users, and all the spear users along the edge of the grouping began to be surrounded and die.
There was a breaking point, and all at once the Wights were ripping through their lines everywhere. Randidly narrowed his eyes, and he could distantly trace several spear users that seemed transcendent in their ability to kill Wights. Those few held together the last bit of resistance against the sea of bodies that were surging forward. Those few were the aegis of the spear users, and around them, none would fall.
“Do you think it foolish? That we refused to embrace other Paths to strength? I want each of you to answer,” Sergeant Platton said slowly. He turned and gave Randidly a wry smile. “…you last. I suspect I know what your answer will be.”
“No,” Skarch said simply. “What else could we do? There are no weapons that would have been better suited to this battle than the spear. It is truly perfect.”
“Spoken like a true member of the Spear School,” Sergeant Platton grunted.
On the battlefield, one of those few faltered as Psychic Poison hit them from too many angles. She was tall with a cascade of azure hair more perfect and clear than the sea at midday. Simply with the press of bodies, they bore her to the ground. But around her, the remaining four paragons fought that much harder. Their followers seemed to sense the desperation of their impending plight and risked themselves wildly.
Randidly’s hands itched. Those people were doomed. Even though he couldn’t see it, he sensed how low their Health was. Under the weight of that many attacks, even Randidly recognized he would be buried. And yet, he wanted to join them.
As he watched them continue to struggle, his eyes abruptly widened, and his gaze rose to the sky.
“…I do not regret choosing the spear,” Azriel announced proudly. “But I think if you ignore everything you wish to accomplish… you do yourself and the world around you a disservice. We have responsibilities. My spear is the Path to accomplishing those responsibilities. Seeking the way to have everything lay in front of you as straight as a spear… that is the only prudent Path.”
“That is a hard Path to walk,” Sergeant Platton said softly. “I wish you luck. And you, Randidly?”
Randidly gazed for a long time at the sky above the battlefield without answering. He could tell how the battle was going without even looking. Because in the sky, the Aether was reacting to what was going on below. The wind twisted and spiraled upwards. Clouds rumbled lower and pressed together into a shaft. And then the wind came down in a huge blade, the head of the spear that had somehow been formed by the perseverance of those few individuals who laid down their lives to slow the Wights’ advance.
When the spear hit the ground, it did not annihilate the Wights as Randidly expected. Instead, a tidal wave of Aether spread outwards from that point, radiating into the surrounding area. When it hit Randidly, he tasted it and felt an incomparably sharp sensation of the spear. Abruptly, his images relating to the spear focused.
Randidly let out a long breath. How did… how did these people affect the Aether with just their images…?
“Well?” Sergeant Platton prompted. The last paragon stood tall, with only a dozen spear users besides him. They cut forward, pressing deeper into the bulk of the Wight forces without pause. Only by advancing had they avoided being crushed and suffocated by the army around them.
The paragon raised his spear. His group joined him. In the sky, the Aether roiled and shifted, rising to the call.
It was emotion, Randidly realized. Aether wasn’t rising to their images per se. The System had a stranglehold over the images under its influence. That was Randidly’s greatest advantage that he had over other people; his images were relatively pure and easy to create. But somehow the emotion…
The spear users died to the man. But Randidly could close his eyes and forget that. But what he couldn’t forget… was how much each of them loved the spear.
“Yes. It is dumb you ignore other Paths,” Randidly said with a sigh. “…but how could I say such a pure love is foolish?”
“‘The valiance and fidelity of a patriot are beautiful in any man.’” Sergeant Platton said calmly. “That is a quote of the Spearman himself. Come- we must get into position. They served their purpose, and now it is time to accomplish ours.”
The group turned away, but Randidly watched a little longer, watching the still-roiling Aether in the sky above the battlefield. Randidly’s eyes were sharp as he considered the shifting forces. Why was the disturbance growing stronger? Shouldn’t the Aether cease being affected by the emotions now that the source people were dead…?
More than that, another question occurred to Randidly, and he couldn’t find an answer to it.
Where were the Masters? Where were the true powerhouses of Tellus right now?