Ophelia’s face was tight as she exploded with the rumbling momentum of a landslide to smash away about thirty Witch Kings that had been rushing toward her. Most of them would survive the blow, but their legs or arms were broken like dry twigs by the force. They would limp around and hamper the mobility of the remainder.
Which gave Ophelia a split second to interpose herself between Aethon Thai and The Oracle. Grunting, Ophelia barely managed to block Aethon’s sharp blow. Afterward, Aethon smashed her to the side with a deft blow and once more lined up an attack. But by that point, the Oracle was ready and smashed him backward with a blast of an image of the sea’s tide.
Which gave the Oracle time to hurry to help Versault.
Because the most powerful spear-user on the field… was Aegiant Wyrd.
“You fools. You have let your images dull over the years. Do you fear the calcified violence in the spirit of Tellus?” Aegiant was laughing wildly as he smashed Versault into the ground. The older man trembled and attempted to rise, but he was simply smashed down once more. Over them all, a vast and endless sun roiled with heat and power. Solar flares burned brightly and brightly in an endless parade. “Just absorb it! Make it a part of you! Usurp control of it! And seize the power for yourself.”
Groaning, Ophelia smashed away more Witch Kings as the Oracle and Versault managed to combine forces and score a shallow hit on Aegiant. For a moment, the heat and light in the chamber dimmed.
But in the process, Ophelia had to struggle to smash Aethon again, which opened her up to a blast of Psychic Venom that splattered across her back. There was a dull buzzing in her temples at this point- this was probably the third blast she had taken. But she had no choice.
Roaring, Ophelia collapsed a mountain on Aethon.
To her surprise, the man dispersed most of the force by spinning in a circle. The image of a metallic shrike screaming filled her vision. Then Aethon leapt upwards into the air and dived down toward Ophelia just as quick.
There were Witch Kings behind her rushing toward her back.
Aethon’s gleaming spear seemed to transform into a metal beak heading for her chest.
Ophelia’s eyes drifted sideways toward the Spearman. He was the pillar that they all relied upon for support. Even now, he was grappling with the First Propagator. He was the strongest man Ophelia knew, but he seemed so small next to the giant amethyst scorpion.
Blinking back tears, Ophelia focused on the foes in front of her. The Spearman had taught her every spear move she knew. She was her Master. And her first and only love.
“Fuck you all,” Ophelia whispered. A rampart of stone formed in the air around her as she took a defensive stance. She felt her willpower ebbing after conjuring so many vivid images, but she couldn’t afford to falter here. So she threw everything into this defense. Aethon seemed to notice but didn’t slow at all.
The two clashed with a wave of force that thankfully knocked the Witch Kings approaching her from behind backward. The stone mountain of her defense shuddered but held. The metallic shrike dazedly shrieked again and moved away to open up space.
Ophelia met eyes with the Oracle; they both nodded.
Both women rushed toward the stumbling Aethon. Aegiant noticed but was largely held at bay by Versault. “You believe wind can stop the sun? Foolish.”
There was a dull rumbling as the howling wind smashed against the unending light of dawn. The ground quaked, but Ophelia ignored it. What they needed was to eliminate this one threat, and then they could focus-
The shout stopped her dead; it was the Spearman.
Twisting around, Ophelia saw that the scorpion tail had pierced the Spearman’s shoulder. He had immediately gripped the tail and snapped it off, but that look of pain on his face-
“Ophelia, it was on purpose,” the Oracle shouted. “You need to focus-”
Ophelia ignored her. Her heart was pounding, harder than it had ever had in the past. Her fingers were tingling with the fresh flow of blood. Adrenaline turned her bloodstream into a racetrack.
Ophelia was there by his side faster than even she could believe. Images seemed so easy at the moment. Everything came to her in grainy flashes of color. The First Propagator didn’t see her or didn’t respond to her presence. It kept its eyes fixed on the Spearman. The Spearman saw her though, and his eyes widened.
She was a single stone. Which was rolling down a mountain. Which was all a stone needed to do to cause a disaster. Because momentum-
“-is borrowed from the world,” Ophelia whispered. “You taught me that.”
Her spear pierced through the base of the tail with force to spare, and then continued through the body of the First Propagator in the lower midsection, and then finally pinned its entire body to the floor as she finished the blow.
For the first time, the First Propagator shrilly screamed in genuine pain. Its tail twisted and smashed backward and then-
Aegiant frowned. It was strange how much the sound of Ophelia’s neck breaking echoed through the hall. Especially when there were almost a hundred people, five of them being the most powerful spear-users in Tellus with images wildly clashing.
Her body spun slowly through the air, seeming to float lightly as it tumbled end over end and off behind a pillar. Shaking his head slightly, Aegiant turned back to the battle at hand. He pulsed with the endless power of the sun and Versault was forced to retreat before him.
Aegiant grinned. So it is always supposed to be.
Over at the front, the First Propagator was struggling with the Spearman. Without its tail and pinned to the ground, it was a losing battle. Even as it smashed at the Spearman with its claws, the Spearman gripped both hands together and raised them above his head, preparing to bring them down in a devastating hammer blow.
Aegiant snorted and turned away.
Everyone has our own battle. You are on your own, monster.
The battle in front of him quickly went South for the opposition without Ophelia. Now without the distraction of Ophelia’s powerful strikes, Aethon began to drive the Oracle backward. There was no doubt the Oracle was powerful, but most of her strength came from control and denial. After all, she utilized the might of an ocean as the basis for her images. Of all of those present, Aethon had the smallest and densest image. For him, it was child’s play to resist the ocean currents with his heavy and sharp body.
He cut through the water like he was born to it.
Which left Versault alone before Aegiant.
Grinning, Aegiant began to slowly walk forward, simply turning up the power of his image. The sun stretched and stretched, bringing its vicious heat and weight over everything in the area. Witch Kings that wandered too near were crushed into screaming piles of mush.
Yet Versault endured, his lined faced pinched into a look of hatred. “You fool. If you draw too deeply-”
“This is a world of achievement,” Aegiant said with a sad shake of the head. He could already feel the rising urge toward violence in his body, but he didn’t mind. He had been biding his time for almost 200 years. A the urging of the Spearman, he had taken his family to a land of wilderness and sought to create a unique image. And for what? So his son could be broken by the machinations of others? “What else is there but victory? There is no cost too high to pay for victory.”
“Yours is no longer the world, if this succeeds…” Versault hissed. Already he was sweating, his image slowly failing before the majesty of the sun. “Tellus-”
“Yes, yes,” Aegiant waved a hand. “I don’t care for how… considered this world has gotten. Always caring what image is from where, and why. Dull. But that changes after the Ascension. Then… all that will matter is power.”
Aegiant spread his arms wide and grinned down at the struggling man. “And who is more powerful than me?”
On cue, Versault exploded into motion, as Aegiant suspected he might. The wind rose in a humming viciousness that cut up through the waves of sunlight Aegiant produced. But Aegiant stood still and waited. As the blade forced its way upward through the waves of heat, it slowly weakened until it was nothing but the head of the spear.
But Aegiant’s expression was vicious as that spear actually pierced into his shoulder. The attack had possessed a dogged determination that endured his vicious bombardment of heat and weight. Blood dripped down the blade and onto the floor, evaporating into a dried circle almost immediately.
Versault cackled in glee.
“That was a mistake,” Aegiant said mildly. Then he burnt the man to a crisp. Chuckling, Aegiant turned and considered his next order of business.