Episode 19: Ascension
Dead priests and mages littered the floor of the room that was revealed. Four others channeled Ether into some kind of creature. There was not enough light in the room to make out what it was. This creature, so ironically hidden in the shadows, had drawn such vast amounts of Ether I could feel its presence weighing heavily on all of us. As the fight continued more parts of the Cathedral gave way. Eventually parts of the ceiling fell and finally revealed some kind of beast. An abomination like no other seen before. It had four wings, two from a gryphon and two others from a dragon. Its body was that of a centaur, who are already half horse, half human creatures. One of the pairs of wings was attached to the horse body, and the other to the human half. This abomination was sustained by an Ether well created using the life force of the mages and priests that now lay dead on the floor. Strangely the creature remained headless.
“The time of ascension will soon be upon us. Behold the vessel of your new god!”, Cyran spoke with great confidence, behind him he began to cast a spell. Kaiden, Miriam and I continued to engage Cyran. I knew he was slowly weakening but his armor would not give in to any of our attacks. “There is little you can do. Give me your souls willingly and I will make sure to use them well”, runes started floating up within a circle that had appeared in front of the creature. “We will stop you here and now!”, Ilyana came running in, carrying a scepter. “Hey, nice of you to join us. What is that?”, I said. “The king wanted you to have this. He said it belonged to his grandfather, but was never able to use it. I think it’s called the Scepter of the Eye”, she handed the scepter to me. This magical item emitted large amounts of dark energy. Once I had it, I felt an ancient wisdom wash over me. As if I had wielded this weapon my entire life. I pointed the scepter at Cyran and unleashed a wave of dark energy. He was knocked down, his magical armor cracking in multiple places. “What is this? Another tool to hunt down? It will not matter. My ascension will now be complete!”, he raised his hands and sent a powerful blast of light that blinded us temporarily. When we saw him again he was right in front of the creature. A magical wall prevented us from getting closer. There Cyran wrote in the air runes of light that, when unleashed, attached to his body. A line of light appeared around his neck and we saw in horror how his head split from his body. The Ether from the creature linked with the now severed head of Cyran. Finally the head and body became one and Cyran’s original body dissipated into dust. He used his power to turn that leftover husk into more Ether for him to consume.
His laughter became maniacal. The eyes of what was once a man were consumed with madness. All the Ether stored in the abomination’s body was too much power. He let out a scream that shattered the magic shield that prevented us from entering the area. We did not expect this thing, and our surprise turned to fear. What could we do to defeat such a creature? “Balthazar! Get your act together! I don’t care if it’s more than fifteen feet tall, we’ll break it apart and kill it!”, Ilyana screamed at me for my hesitation. Miriam noticed her amulet glowing, “The Ether here is so strong I can tap into it with my amulet. We can figure something out!”. Giant claws of pure Ether cut through almost everything in their path. The walls fell back and what remained of the ceiling gave way. In our exposure we could see the giant Ether storm that had gathered above us. Our magical shields could cover us from Cyran’s attacks but not for long. The creature blew us back several times with blasts of light magic. I looked at everyone, we were tired from the previous fight against Cyran, but all the more determined to defeat him.
The energy on Miriam’s amulet had intensified. It showed dark energy flowing around it. In a short moment she had an inspiration. A spell that could feed off the Ether to grow stronger. She ran forward, stopped and then raised her left hand. Cyran was confused, he had not expected such courage in the face of his creation. Miriam closed her hand and chains of dark energy surrounded the creature. “We have an opening, Ilyana, go for its legs! Kaiden, use the dark spires crossed out to further immobilize it!”, I raised the scepter above my head as they prepared and unleashed their spells. Spinning it around I gathered all the dark energy I could muster and took as much of the Ether as I could. With Cyran unable to move, Ilyana ran at him and slashed his front legs. The abomination fell forward, the chains that bound it tightening more and more. “You cannot oppose a god! You will fail!”, screamed Cyran in desperation. The energy above me coalesced into the scepter and I unleashed a ray of shadows. Each of those shadows became a fallen soldier of this war. It was the rage of having their lives taken from them that gave the spell even more power. Another glowing magical armor showed itself on the beast. Once again the armor began to crack until it could resist no more and exploded into pieces.
“No! I will be your undoing! Face your end mortals!”, Cyran began chanting a spell. The Ether inside the abomination was gathering at a single point. “Oh no… Miriam! Pass me your amulet, now!”, without hesitation Miriam took off her amulet and tossed it my way. I caught it and placed it on my left wrist. With my left hand closed I began casting a spell of my own. “Everyone… leave!”, A portal appeared behind us. I used the energy to help my friends escape. There was not much they could do here. “Are you insane? You mean to take this on your own?!”, Kaiden was concerned, I knew he would not agree. “Wait! No!”, he said as I pushed him away and into the portal using a levitation spell. Miriam transformed and flew into it, but not before wishing me luck. Finally Ilyana knew that this needed to happen. I was safeguarding them in case I failed in what I had to do next. “Stay safe…”, she said to me before stepping into the portal. Now that they are gone I can focus all my attention on what comes next. “You are courageous to face me alone, but courage by itself means nothing. In the end you will bow to your new god!”, Cyran’s insanity grew to an extent as to disregard his own well being, even that of his followers. He meant to unleash all the Ether stored within the beast’s body in one final attempt at a purge. This time the amount of Ether was so vast and so unstable the effect could be catastrophic. The world could face its destruction. I closed the portal behind me. Bolts of Ether began to land nearby, the storm above was chaotic. Our world was reacting to such volatile energies. The ground shook violently. As I tried to keep my legs steady I continued to prepare what would be my last resort. An inverted shield bubble meant to contain the Ether explosion that was nearing. The Scepter of the Eye orbited around me after I let go of it. It spinned around gathering Ether. As if by its own will the scepter was aiding me in my endeavor.
Meanwhile in the field before the gates of Cyrith Ilyana, Miriam and Kaiden watched helplessly as the storm continued to build around what remained of the Cathedral. Light and darkness mixed inside this storm as the energies combined and annihilated themselves. The rumble of the land reached even as far as Lyre and Etheria. From the camp soldiers watched in awe at the powerful magic being both unleashed and contained. Balthazar’s spell was successful, but only for some time. He needed to stop the coming blast. Suddenly a powerful explosion echoed through the world. A wave of force blew through the field with enough strength to knock some soldiers down and send stone bricks tumbling. In but a few short seconds the storm and creature seemed to disappear into nothingness as if drawn into the center point of the conflict. Another rumble could be felt and then complete silence. As if the world had stopped. Ilyana, Kaiden and Miriam looked at each other confused, but also fearing the worst.
Late that afternoon, right before sunset Ilyana inspected the remains of the cathedral where Balthazar and Cyran once stood. A large crater formed at the place where they had been battling. There was no trace of either Cyran’s abomination or Balthazar. “Surely he escaped. I’m sure that when we return to Lyre we’ll see him there right?”, Kaiden arrived with Miriam following closely by. “I’m afraid I can’t say. Balthazar was a powerful and brilliant dark mage, but even he had his limits”, Ilyana fought to contain her sadness. Battle hardened as she is, her tears began to slip out. The three embraced in a long hug. The war was over, the soldiers were set to return home but the mage who became their savior had perished.