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Tower of Saviors - The 500 Year Promise
#11
   

The bush burst into flames. From behind jumped back a swordsman, attempting to quell a small fire at the hem of his jacket.
“Why, you—“ Enraged, Sean started towards the Dragon Maiden. She looked bored and did not react towards the menacing swordsman. However two steps before he was within range of the Maiden—
SPLAT
A jelly like substance hit him on the face, losing balance.
“Sean!!! You are here!!! How glad to see you!!! Are you here for some heroics????? HERE, let me rummage inside my jelly to find you a—“
“Gerroff me!”
Sean clawed at the jelly on his face finally removing the slime (with a squishing sound) and throwing it towards the ground. Panting, he looked around. The group had come back at the commotion.
 
Agatha remained bored, unimpressed at his appearance. Endor had a stony look, like something undesirable had happened. Kali simply seemed to be containing a smile. Sean looked up towards the sky, and scratching his face replied:
“I... ahem, don’t get the wrong idea, I just tried to catch up to thank you for what you did earlier kid... that is all.”
“Yeah? Well no need, beat it then!” Said Endor, shooing him away. It was clear she disliked him.
“Wait...” Said Kali. Taking a step forward. Her friend was being a bit hasty. Whoever this swordsman had been in the past, was not the lost man who was being fawned all over by their slimy guide. “It would be a long way home. I doubt you’ll have another wave to catch soon. Would you like to accompany us for a while? At least until you rest of find an easier way to go home?” Suggested Kali.
Endor rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. Shawn on the other side gasped and quivered in excitement.
 
Sean gulped and stood up, cleaning the dirt from his clothes.
“I mean, it should not be necessary, I surely can get a ride back from this piece of junk here and it wou...” His voice faltered. "Denied" Said a voice close by. Vouivre was staring at Sean, while a mechanical whirring noise had begun. The swordsman took a step backwards--in his experience, nothing that activated after a rejection expression brought anything good. Both dragons both a ‘not in a lifetime’ look on their faces. ”Ahem... I mean...” He sighed. “Fine... a day or two should be okay...” Vouivre's whirring slowly stopped, and Sean tried to hide the slight relief sigh in his throat.
 
Shawn squealed in excitement and flung himself again at Sean’s face, who was prepared this time and punched the slime out of the way. Unfazed the slime took out a wooden sword after spewing a pound of slime (Endor turned green, still unused to his little act) and began recounting tales of old, and how his hero was once found fainted around nothing but half-naked men in this very island. The girls started laughing as the older swordsman stuttered and faltered trying to explain, but the slime continued its tales.
 
Agatha looked at them, and smiled a bit. Maybe a bit over one thousand years ago, when they were all still together, her two brothers used to crack jokes at everyone, just like that. Humans seemed to maintain that. Regardless of events, regardless of mistakes, regardless of pain... their memory washed away with the fleeting shoreline.
“Come.” Said Agatha. “I will see you to the nearest town at least.” And started to walk. The girls followed suit along with Shawn who continued to swing the wooden sword (Sean noticed it had been recently polished), and the swordsman... feigning reluctance to be part of the group.
 
__________________________________________________________________________________________

The chamber had a very unique characteristic. The shadows held within were stale. They had never moved. They had never been lit. They had never cleared, had any purpose, nor even noticed. They were simply there, holding the air in place. It made the invisible atmosphere seem like lead. However, the Queen of the Afire Volcano was impervious to the chambers... charms.
She disliked waiting. She sat on a high, rather rudimentary rock chair, her foot on some kind of curved step, while the other leg was crossed over, swinging back and forth in boredom. It was outrageous. The chamber did not even contain a clock, that would reverberate the seconds passing by. Only tired spasms of effort could be heard in the metal-like atmosphere.
 
The chamber was entirely made of rock, from walls to the fixtures and furniture—an impenetrable fortress that would keep emotions—and unwanted ears—outside of its secretive existence. Only five chairs were present. Finally, one by one the other four began to produce their masters.
The Queen of Hearts did not dignify to look at their faces. They did not deserve such honor by making her wait. What is more, she had not even been the one to call the others rulers for this extraordinary meeting. The nerve sometimes...
“To business then.” Said a female, distant voice.
“Are preparations complete?” Inquired a second voice.
“Negative. There has been sabotage in the past few weeks in several locations. We apprehended a suspect, but we do not believe him to be the cause. We have been delayed and are approximately three months behind schedule.” This time a male voice answered.
The Queen of Hearts frowned in disgust. Aside from waiting, she also despised incompetence. It did not matter who’s fault it had been: were it in her realm that it had happened, someone would have been beheaded already, and the program would have resumed on time. She still did not look at any of the other rulers. They did nothing to earn her respect.
“You should know by now” Said the first voice, in a calm, though menacing tone. “how important it is for all of us for this project to succeed. We cannot have more failures.” A small murmur of agreement rang through the chamber over the gasping voice somewhere beneath.
“I had already told you this would be the outcome.” Said the male voice with exasperation. He could not hide the youth in his voice. ”It was inevitable, regardless of how much speed you wanted to build into the process. Such things must be accounted for.”
“And they will be.” Said a new voice, cutting the argument short. It was a sweet voice. The kind of sweet that gives you a headache and makes you feel sick. The Queen of Hearts did not like her. “Do not worry. You will see more cooperation from the neighboring realms so we ensure the success of this project. In the meantime, continue as planned.” The male voice muttered in assent. “As for another topic we need to discuss,” The sweet voice continued softly. “I would like to remind you there may be... unwanted guests at your feet, of Queen of Hearts.”
Reluctantly, the Queen of Hearts turned to look at her addressor. The Queen Elf smiled at her, with dazzling turquoise eyes, void of any warmth. “Try not to get them involved in any ah... unwanted activities. However if necessary, get rid of them.”
The Queen’s anger rose and her hands clenched into fists. How dare she give orders..!
“I’ll do as I see fit. You take care of your own... issues.” Sneered the Queen of Hearts, snapping her fingers, and dissolving from the scene. It was unheard of, how that Elf addressed them all.
That usurper... she thought. Though the alternative wasn’t any better... one day she would need to be gone.
 
She was back on her golden throne, a chamber filled with loyal, quivering servants. In time too, as the tiny card Jack beneath her feet plummeted on the floor, spent from the effort of supporting her feet.
“Stand up! We have work to do!” Barked the Queen as she kicked the card a few steps down her breathtaking throne.
 
 
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The woman known as Kelvin’s mother sighed. She looked at the gang of kids in her living room with the x-ray vision only parents have to drill their children’s friendship. They were sporting slightly different styles as before. The boy with a mushroom haircut had even painted his face for some reason. She felt more and more hopeless about her son’s future as time went by.
Kelvin had never been the brightest light bulb around—he was more closely contending for the most dimly lit.
And his friends were all tightly close in the race. She sighed again as she looked at the poorly doodled letter his son had surely written, reassuring his mother it was a new summer study camp he wanted to attend to. He had even idiotically included words as ‘evil’ ‘darkness’ and ‘world domination’ in it. As her throat clenched containing the tears, thinking where had she gone wrong, her mind retraced the past for the millionth time wondering if there was something she could have done different. Having kept him alive had already been a miracle. His survival skills were well below zero, and somewhere along the road, the communication between his brain and body did not seem to share this critical piece of information. He was upstairs, rummaging for something (god knows what), while his mother babysat the rest of his friends. One of them was showing the rest a set of over-sharpened toothpicks (presumable thought of as weapons)—aside from three egg sandwiches his mother had made for him. Kelvin’s mother wondered of the rest of the girls were not actively trying to get rid of them.
 
A maniacal (and what he thought diabolical) laughter came from the landing upstairs, indicating probably her son had finished preparations for this.. “camp”. The woman eyed the alleged tutor, a light slime with an overly large black cape, who seemed to have the most manners of the group.
 
It did nothing to increase her confidence. She heard a stumble in the last few steps of the staircase as her son landed face-first on the floor. Her reactions had been dulled by 14 years of the same thing and simply said: “You okay sweetheart?”
 
“Don’t call me that!!” Shouted Da Kelv as his friends snickered. “But yeah, thanks mom” he whispered.
 
Kelvin’s mother rolled her eyes. At least she could take those piano lessons she always wanted to take.
 
“Men!! Comrades!!” Said Kelvin as all his friends stood up. “It is time—Let us go and make history together!!!”
Yeah!!! They all shouted in unison and burst through the front door (the slime bowed at the lady, and walked calmly outside).
 
Kelvin started towards the door when his mother cleared her throat loudly.
“Kelvin, aren’t you forgetting something?”
His friends snickered.
“Not now mother!!”
 
She sighed. Was it possible to incur an illness from sighing too much?
“Not that son. Look down.”
Kelvin looked down at his pant-less white briefs. 

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#12
Night rolled over the island of fire, a vast expanse of jet-black engulfed the world as the pale white moon hung lonely in the starless sky. For the past hour Shawn had been excitedly recounting tales of the slime squad and their misdeeds while the rest laughed along at Sean's expense. After booking rooms for the inn in a nearby port town they all gathered on the beach, a large bonfire lit each face aglow with flickering orange.

The Misted Woodland is visible from this side, a layer of fog permanently covering parts of it, even the normally towering trees are hard to spot past nightfall.

Kali looked on thoughtfully, her eyes were wide open but not focusing on anything in particular, Endor sat beside her friend not wanting disrupt said summoner's concentration. Shawn was still enthusiastically pestering Sean, the former's wooden sword clashed with the latter's sheathed blade from time to time. Vouivre laid in complete silence and stillness, but Agatha knew better than to underestimate the mechanical dragon, it was vigilantly keeping an eye out for everyone, ready to jump into action at the first sign of danger. That was why it's metallic head raised itself when a draco spirit slightly disturbed the rhythmic splashing of the waves and made its way to Agatha's side, a letter in its mouth.

A glance through the contents and her expression turned grim, a fact only noticed by Endor.
"What's wrong miss?"
"I fear you and your friends are in trouble"
That drove Kali's train of thoughts to an abrupt end. "How so?" She asked.

The folded letter was thrown and spun like a card cutting dangerously through the bonfire but nevertheless made it to Kali's hand unscathed.

"Warn the summoner, the Queens are against her journey and by extension, the Queen of Hearts.
Also, Doris will be there soon, please take care of her in my absence."
It read.

"As of now you are in the Queen of Hearts' territory summoner, and no passenger ships will arrive here until at least 3 days from now due to whirlpools forming near the Dark Cove" Agatha sighed.

"Who sent you that letter?" Sean inquired with a harsh tone
"Who do you think?" The Dragoness responded with a lop-sided smirk
"The missing one."
"Spot on."

It was Sean's turn to heave a sigh "I should have known, so what's the flashy plan?"
"I don't know either, but who am I to question that one?"

Feeling left out, Endor butted in "Hold on, what do you mean by the Queens?"
A look of shock crossed Sean's face for a moment, but Kali and Endor's honestly innocent look told him they weren't joking.
"I apologize, we're from a rather isolated region of the Dark Cove" The summoner offered.

 "Vouirve, could you please?" Agatha turned to the dragon
The sockets of its light sensors turned yellow and a mechanical voice responded.

"After it became apparent that the gift of peace from the Savior had not been permanent, 5 individuals had taken over the Glacial Iceberg, Afire Volcano, Misted Woodlands, Holylight Palace and Dark Cove, they are Queen Sloth, the Queen of Hearts, King Solomon, The Elf Queen and the Evil Queen respectively. These rulers has formed an alliance in order to maintain their rule and work towards a currently unknown common goal. Queen Sloth has since passed her position to Emperor Louis, still it is said that she maintains direct command. The Queens refer to the alliance formed between these individuals."

"And you seem to be in the way of their mysterious goal" Agatha finished. "The summoner's Journey has never been an easy one, now I must take my leave as there are matters I need to attend to. A girl called Doris will be here soon as you already know, and I have not the time to babysit her."
"So you want us to take her in" Sean concluded.
"That" Agatha conceded "would be most helpful." before stretching her wings and disappearing into the night, taking back her letter as she left.




The tense silence was broken by none other than the flaming rogue swordsman. His tone dead serious.
"Alright kids, if you haven't known already, no where is safe, keep your guards up at all times, I know it has been quite a lot to take in but this is your life now, are we clear?"

"Was your last journey like this?" Kali asked.

"It was worse.". "It was awesome!"
Sean and Shawn answered at the same time, then turned to each other as their swords clashed once more.

"Da Heroic Kelvs and his gang enters the scene!" out of nowhere the familiar group of barely-teens charged at the bonfire, Wooden sticks and slingshots in hand.
"Under the Orders of the Great Emperor Louis you shall be killed, surrender now to keep your lives!"
Kelvs shouted at the top of his lungs and raised his wooden sword, seemingly unaware of how much sense his well-prepared line made.
Endor facepalmed, Sean raised an eyebrow while Shawn bursted out laughing.

"Get them! Chaaaaaaaaaargeee!!!"

Sean effortlessly dodged and parried strikes from Nathan and Walter with his sheathed sword, looking as bored as he could ever get. Vouirve for its part did not even bother to move, not acknowledging the kids to be an actual threat. Brian tried to hit the dragon with his stick, only to find that metal was indeed harder than wood. Kali danced around Kelv's clumsy sword swings, irritating the latter greatly.

Endor chanted a spell and extended both her hands, a dark shockwave soon erupted from her palms and knocked all but Kelv to the ground, Sean swung his sword down and the butts of each of Kelv's comrade spontaneously bursted into flames, sending them running off into the distance with high-pitched screams.

Kelv's sword came down again but this time it met metal, the force recoiled back to his arm which loosened its grip at the sudden pain and the sword was sent flying. He had a few moments to observe the newcomer. She was a short girl dressed in bright red, silky caramel hair framed her face which was adorned by a cheerful smile as her golden irises met his. Tipping her ridiculously large witchcap, she raised her gun at him.

"W-w-wait, is that a-a real gun? N-no... Don't shoot me, I am too handsome to die"

BANG!
And then Kelv saw darkness, all strength left his body and he fell backwards.
"You killed him?!" Kali was shocked, she grabbed the girl's shoulder and spun her around.
The girl in red giggled and answered in a delightful voice. "Relax, those were blanks, I don't like to waste my rounds."

Kelv foamed on the ground, his pants were getting increasingly wet by the minute. "Seems he fainted from fear" Endor concluded.

"Oh my how rude of me" The girl exclaimed before lifting the sides of her skirts and bowed. "Nice to meet you everyone, my name is Doris and I was told to join the summoner in her journey."


Agatha's hand ignited and she held out the letter to the flames, it was always best to cover up all traces no matter how small.
It was then that a hidden line appeared below the others, written to only be visible moments after coming into contact with fire.

Thanks for letting Doris join the summoner.

"Deceitful as ever aren't we?" The Fire Dragoness smiled as the the ashes fell from her hand and the fire died out in the cold night winds.

 

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#13
Whispers. The darkness brought whispers. They were muffled, blurry, oppressed by the black mantle covering him. It was nothingness. Nowhere to hide or run. His limbs were heavy. How had it come to this? He was beyond greatness, he was destined for so much more, he was—
His body jerked back to life. His consciousness regained, his eyes darted everywhere in a second. He dared not move an inch but his breath was rugged, perfectly audible. He tried to remember how he got here. They had attempted another ambush. What happened, did they really fail? It did not matter now. Were his captors close?
Kelvin tested his arms, moving them-ever-so-slightly. Unbound. He took a few calming breaths. How many seconds til he was caught? His sharpened his terribly dim wit in an attempt to figure his surroundings. He felt a raspy, uneven ground that moved beneath him. Shifting? Was he in a magical trap to prevent his escape? His eyes slowly grew accustomed to the oppressing darkness all around. There was the cackling sound of fire—were they planning to cook him alive!? Kelvin gave an involuntary whimper, ever-so-slightly pissing himself. But then noticed his friends were only a few meters away from him, conscious, bound and gagged. Breathing rapidly, Kelvin made a split second decision and began crawling as fast and stealthily as possible. To his eardrums, amplifying sound due to the adrenaline, each crawling motion on what he found out was sand sounded like a bulldozer moving a pile of steel beams. His trembling hands reached his friends as he untied the simple knot that kept them all together. He never turned back. He knew that the scene would paralyze him and all would end. No, if he died it would be unknowingly, and acting as the savior he always knew he should have been.
The knot dissolved, and his cohorts broke free. They untied their gags and Kelvin began pulling at them for their escape.
“Go go go!!” Shouted Kelvin, no longer pretending. Clearly it was now do-or-die. As they ran towards the night, Alex went into a halt. “Wait, my lunchbox!”
“LEAVE IT!” Roared Kelvin sprinting for dear life. He noticed only four bodies were running. His heart stopped. Headcount. Names. The skinny one—where is he?
Kelvin frantically looked around, praying for more than a half-eaten corpse—he saw his captor’s camp, closer to the dunes. Sitting around a bonfire was Kali’s group, talking calmly. Kelvin immediately recognized his friend’s bowl-shaped haircut from behind.
“BRIAN!!!” Screeched Kelvin in a high-pitched, panicked voice unlike his own. Brian turned to see his group scampering (really slowly and out of shape) away from the Summoner’s group. Brian stood up, thanked everyone and started running too.
“Thanks guys, I had fun!”
Everyone waved goodbye at the kids (Kelvin ignored it and ran at top speed) and they were gone.
“He’s a good kid.” Said Shawn, helping himself to another slimemallow.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

On top of a metal table, sat a tiny, child-size robot. She threw her legs forward and backwards, humming a little bit. It was tedious work to stay put for so long, even more so in such a curious and interesting place. His laboratory had always been object of her fear, her curiosity, her awe and her wonder. She had memorized less than half the artifacts he possessed, and understood less than the number of times she had been scolded for breaking them. She had only ever broken one, the very first, attempting to grow accustomed to her newly increased stature. Every year she was granted a 7% boost of height as a birthday gift. The first day when she was finally able to look over his desk, she had inadvertedly kicked something that was actually beneath, breaking it in the process. However Gretchen’s sincere guilt calmed Heisenberg’s anger into a grumbling irritation. It was always the same—he never really scolded her, but she was never truly mischievous—just curious. For that reason, unable to snoop around while swinging her legs sitting on that metal table, Gretchen would have sworn it was weeks and not just 15 minutes the old man took to inspect the empty sockets where her arms should be. Her curiosity bubbled inside her like a volcano.
Again he mumbled an grumbled, as he did every time, looking at every nook and cranny to no avail. He had failed to produce a pair of arms that would suit her 74 times already. He had never scampered on materials which meant they would at some point be depleted. He had begun these discovery sessions in an attempt to reduce the amount of material wasted.
To him, the summoner’s arrival had not been a surprise honestly. The rise and research of the metallic dragons had not been cause of such intense debate either. To him, this was the most surprising task, and the most difficult project he had come across. He knew he was postponing crucial events—perhaps critical elements in both current events and his own life—but to Heisenberg nothing was as critical as succeeding in this. He mumbled and grumbled again. Sighing, he stood straight and allowed the little robot to roam free again. Ecstatic, Gretchen wasted no time and zoomed out of sight. Why was he so epically failing at what should be such an easy project? Was he at fault?
He looked at an unfathomable board beneath the monitor at the farthest wall. A red light continued to blink. Whatever it signaled, only he knew. As long as it continued blinking, he had time.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kelvin & Co. did not stop running until they arrived to the next town. Walter plummeted to the ground, like a horse that had run its entire lifetime. They did not move for full 30 minutes, gasping desperately for air. Alex was pale as a ghost, as if part of his life had been torn away from him.
Brian parted, telling the group he’d go find ice cream cones for everyone.
“What … what should we do now Boss?” Said Nathan “…..boss…?”
Everyone turned towards Kelvin, who with his back towards them and his forehead on one of his arms, looking straight onto the wall of a corner building. Inside he was burning with rage and embarrassment. He had failed once again and had been made a fool by that traitor and title thief Kali. He would never forgive her… he thought, unable to contain his tears of rage.
As Brian returned somewhat diminished (he had only found Celery Ice Cream Cones, which did not sound so fantastic) to give a treat to the group, Kelvin wiped his tears and turned towards them, with an unforgiving fire within his eyes. Kali… and her band of demons would pay for this, even if it was the last thing he would ever do.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Inn or no inn, the party fell asleep at the shoreline. No one noticed when the bonfire went out, nor when Shawn ran out of SlimeMallows, but the conversation had been so interesting and pleasant, that nobody had made a motion to leave the circle. The first up before the sun broke in the horizon was Sean. He sat looking at the ocean line, entranced deeply within his own thoughts.

When was it he had last been within a group? He had been part of a few parties after his previous summoner passed away—but he never lingered long enough to see the end of the tale. He already knew the outcome. Perhaps the alcohol was the culprit but his memory was hazy. It was how he preferred it for now.
The ocean was breaking against rock formations to the east, creating enough noise for him not to notice when Vouivre sat beside him. It took him a while to feel the presence of the dragon that had sprung to life.
Sean looked at it but Vouivre said nothing. It was just accompanying the lonely swordsman. At some point Sean entertained the idea that perhaps it was just making sure he didn’t run away. He chuckled in spite of himself. He definitely felt doubt about his capabilities to be of any use to the Summoner. He had continued to age, he was out of practice and out of shape. He was no longer the flaming swordsman that that summoner fought with back to back long ago. And yet…
Whenever he doubted his capabilities, his mind was back at the bar, sitting at his usual betting spot, hearing the clang of the sword hitting the table where the girl had just arrived, her eyes to full of life and hope.
Kali…
Sean turned to look at her. She was sleeping serenely, huddled with Endor and Doris within the coat he had thrown over them—like protecting each other. It was curious, but he had no memory of every being in such a young (and possibly defenseless group). But he smiled, thinking that perhaps it made it just the more valuable to protect. Inadvertedly his eyes darted towards Vouivre, who was intensely gazing at him, and whose gaze seemed to have assimilated every unspoken word, and were invisibly nodding at his unshared thoughts.

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#14
Kali stared at the devastation almost blankly, her inner turmoil was so great she was at loss at what to feel. It had been Sean's idea to explore the area since they cannot proceed until ships arrive and in his experience knowing your way around could be the difference between life and death when disaster strikes. The scene before them was the result of such a patrol.
It was hell. Hell on Earth, crafted by the hands of man. It was a nearby town, or at least... what was left of it. Where there used to be small settlements, only ashes remain, the foul smell of burnt corpses and charcoal filled the air. Taller buildings still stood, the dress of fire they wore meant this was not to last. The colors conflicted as the flames climbed into the clouds, and there they were standing before it all, caught in the burning glow. People ran from their former homes, some of them burning alive, their screams were deafening, their agony unimaginable and their loss irreversible. Kali wanted to help, all of them did but here they were in the midst of this chaos surrounded by red chess pieces the size of a grown man.

"Under the orders of the Queen of Hearts, this town is to be sacrificed for the greater good, all those who oppose us will be cut down, and what luck, to think the summoner we've been ordered to capture would show up right here."
The largest pawn spoke with glee, unlike the other spearmen, this one had several scrolls on it's waist and casually spun a large buster sword on one hand. The reddish glow on its four eyes turned bright with excitement as it laughed maniacally.

Endor stood silently, her grip on her dark orb tightened, Doris pulled on her large hat, letting its brim cover her expression. Sean stood between Kali and the Pawn of Draconic Blaze, Leviatheinn roaring with Divine flames in his hand.

"Our orders are to take you dead or alive, gut each and everyone of them boys!"
The circle of pointed spear heads around them tightened, the pawns were not strong, Sean knew, but they were numerous, and caught in a circle like this he could not block attacks from all sides at once, and protecting Kali while he was at it was a tall order. His fire attacks would do the trick but it would also burn his allies, the flame swordsman gritted his teeth as he went through all his options again.

"Vouirve, take Kali" the mechanical dragon jumped into action in a heartbeat, flying right under the summoner and scooping her up its back, securing her with straps as she lost her balance.
The owner of that voice was none other than Shawn, who proceeded to swell up ever larger, ejecting large masses of slime in random directions as he did so. The encirclement of pawns halted their charge and started to back off, intimidated by the strange slime.
"Guys, RUN!!!" 
Shawn exploded in a gooey mess, flaming hot jelly rained down upon friends and foe alike. The group immediately dispersed, making good use of the distraction.
"Damn they're escaping, stop panicking you pathetic idiots, get them!"
The head pawn yelled in irritation.


Sean ran directly into the flames, his armor was fire-proof and he was in his element right here, literally. Endor slid through the crowd with little effort, her small frame made it easy to avoid the pawns, a blast of dark magic here and there helped clear her path, she ran towards the shore, it was natural, fighting a fire enemy would be advantageous in the water. Doris wasn't as lucky, with her ridiculously large hat she couldn't have been a better target if she'd tried, a wolf made of pure fire did the trick though, the elemental beast ignited pools of flaming slime as it sprinted through, carrying the young girl on its back, it headed for higher ground towards the volcano, the appropriate position for a gunslinger especially against an army. Vouirve floated high in the air, from there the full extent of the damage was entirely visible to Kali, death littered the landscape as far as the eye could see, a tear rolled down her cheek, whether or not it was the smoke, she did not know.
"Head towards the still burning buildings Vouirve, there might be survivors and we can help."



Together in formation the pawns were a formidable force, but divided they were more manageable, one only has to cover the front if they're backed up against the wall after all. In warfare spears were favored, their reach was more than a match for swords, able to kill from 2-3 meters away. They were also cheap to produce, only the tip requires sharpness or serration, the long handle could simply be wooden staffs. The fact that an entire army is wielding fully metallic lances is a display of extravagance. From the light house atop of the volcano, Doris looked down upon the approaching wave of pawns, she had no way of utilizing the giant magnifying glass of course but this was a fairly defensible position, if push comes to shove she could flee further to the mouth of the dormant force of nature, a single pistol was all that stood between her and a skewered fate, every shot had to count, she steeled herself for a last stand and pulled the trigger.


Sean cut down pawn after pawn, the spear surpass the sword in range, but fully metal spears was an advantage to him. Metals are good heat conductors, the pawns can feel their own spears and armor growing increasingly hot with Sean's divine flames dancing around the swordsman, each strike ignited the air, raising the temperature further and it seemed to have no effect on the red blur that was their target. A sword met one of his swings and 4 glowing red eyes greeted Sean, the Pawn of Draconic Blaze unfolded one of its scrolls with an inhuman laugh, and a firestorm was unleashed.



Kali climbed a small hill of burnt debris, a mechanical dragon following closely behind her. She saw a hand and quickly grasped it. Her eyes widened with horror as a single human arm was all that she pulled out, there was no scream of pain, its owner was likely long gone. She heard a weak voice calling for help, but a loud cracking of stone followed, a wall in the distance collapsed, and all fell silent. The summoner fell to her knees, the rough impact with solid rock barely registered as pain compared to the aching in her heart, amidst the searing flames, only cold harsh despair washed over the young girl.
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#15
For the longest time Kali just sat there. Her joints had been welded in place, and her eyes unfocused, inert. The only moving elements were the ashes that lightly moved on with the wind—an almost ethereal element in the scenery that had not long ago belonged to a different and completely normal world full of life. In her mind the shoreline was still etched, a calm, enjoyable evening with her recently acquired friends. Had she been a fool? Was the summoner’s path paved with nothing other than death scenes like this, and she had been too innocent in believing that she could have a reason to smile every day? How many times, had the elders recounted the perils beyond the cove, yet she had taken them lightly. She had misunderstood the destructive power of salvation. She need not be the target—those around her, those she would never meet, would do just fine. What was she supposed to do then? Walk on? Shut out the cries of sorrow? Ignore lives now a part of the past? Was she supposed to tear her heart from her chest, and seal it until her mission—if ever—was finished?

Her youth was her biggest obstacle. It filled her mind with white noise. She could not bear the image surrounding her. It was impossible to compute. It would always be. Her memory had been written in fire that day, never to be forgotten. Nothing but the ashes stayed alive.

“Someone...” whispered her mind silently “Anyone... please......”


CRASH

Mikhail instinctively ducked, but paid dearly for his reflex as his master knocked his head with the spear handle.
‘No time for distractions! Focus!’ Roared his mentor.
But Mikhail’s heart rate could not be appeased. He could hear the people running in the streets, the screams of anguish, the fear in the air. Chaos ran rampant and the only thing that enveloped its despair was the thick cloud of smoke slowly filling the barn. It had caught on fire. He had been training for as long as his young memory served, beneath his mentor, to be worthy of his power. The old smith however had been nothing but rigorous on the kid, and seem to regard him more as a sword than a human being. Attempting to temper him through fire and hardship, Mikhail was no novice to falling on his hands and knees only to feel the punishment of having given up again and again. Today however, where he could have found a single true reason for which to postpone the perennial training with his master, the old man paid no attention to the battle outside and continued to beat up his pupil.
‘Eyes on your adversary Mikhail, always!’ His mentor said, with a sharp jab at the boy’s ribs. He groaned, staggering but keeping himself standing. He couldn’t help but wonder what was happening outside. People were screaming, it was a non-stop fear instilled in the invisible world outside trying to filter into the barn. A few seconds ago, the barn had begun to catch on fire. Mikhail had swayed his eyesight for a second and received the too-well known punishment for it.
‘Again!’
‘B-*the kid coughed—was it blood* But Master.. w-w-we... n-need to leave...’
The mentor raised the spear again, but did a double take. He seemed to have wanted to reply, but thought twice and resumed his attacks.
The boy felt at the verge of exhaustion, with no possibility of victory. He had never been able to land a single blown on his mentor, let alone in such a scene of chaos surrounding him.
‘Too slow!’ Roared the old man, and knocked the boy to the ground.
‘M-master... we’ll be burnt alive...w-... we must leave...!’
The kid saw the spear come down on him again and closed his eyes.
THWOOMP
His eyes snapped open, and he saw the handle millimeters from his face.
‘You cannot stop the fire. Forget the world outside. I have told you a million times, you cannot change the outcome, unless you forge it yourself!’
Another swing, the boy barely evaded. A second swing, parried. The kid’s muscles groaned in pain as he awkwardly made a feeble attempt at his master. He paid dearly.
‘Again!’ Roared the mentor.
‘W...ufff.... huhff...’ Mikhail panted, unable to register his words.
The relentless master waited again and again for the boy to have an ounce of strength back before beating it out of him.
No matter how much stronger Mikhail had gotten over the years, it seemed to constantly be dwarfed by the massive prowess the blacksmith hid.
‘I told you to forget the outside! You are fighting me!’
His eyebrow bled. His vision was impaired. The boy was tired beyond his imagination, but he did not give up. He would make the master regret his words, as it should be. People were dying outside; they too might die from the growing fire surrounding them, yet he did not care. All he could do was brandish that spear.
The kid lunged—duck! A sidestep, there! An opening! The kid began to move towards his master, and as he swung he saw the spear move ten times faster, when a sickening crunch above announced the barn had given up. He had no time to react as the corner of his eye saw the structure cave in.
He closed his eyes, wondering if the spear or the wood from the barn would reach him first—but neither came. Instead he felt his sword find his master’s body, which allowed it unimpeded. Mikhail found himself covered by flames. He would burn to death. There was no point to any of it. Yet why was burning not as bad as he had expected? Was it the exhaustion?

His eyes opened and saw his master sheltering the boy’s body from the fire, which engulfed the entire surroundings. The kid froze as he saw the blood slowly soak his master’s clothes, and half of his sword missing beneath it. He tried to pull away but his master would not allow it. The inferno roared all around them, yet the blacksmith allowed none of it to touch the boy.

‘Never..’ said the Mentor softly, yet it resounded louder than the flames all around ‘allow yourself to be lost in the fire of war Mikhail. You cannot change the future unless you forge it yourself. For that you must always grow stronger, stronger... until you can change the future with your own hands.’
The boy could not understand. Perhaps he never would. He could understand though, that his master had sacrificed to instill that within him. The fire roared on and his mentor stood as a marble guardian, protecting him from the world outside.
‘Grow stronger Mikhail... if you want to protect the world outside.’




RIP*

The Queen’s heel had torn a whole dead-center under her card futon.
‘Ngh!’ Winced the Two of Spades before collapsing into the ground.
‘Ugh’ Disgusted, the queen waved and her guards took the card away, as a Six of Clovers took its place, trembling.
She had nothing to do but in her position, neither did they. Therefore, they were never a loss regardless of circumstances.

Trumpets rang at each side of the hall announcing an unwanted visitor as the Queen of Hearts made a face of disgust. Only one ruler was close enough to arrive unannounced and faster than her spies. She’d deal with them later. Entering the court was Solomon, followed by his gargantuan Golem. The cards staggered back, tremulously holding their spears at the giant. Solomon walked a dignified pace, with his hands behind his back and a smug look on his face, impervious to the lack of courtesy from his host. The Queen would have wished to start a battle there and then for his insolence, but she knew well that he’d leave faster peacefully than in pieces, and stayed silent.

‘Well then!’ Said Solomon, raising his arms in expectation, with a smile on his face. ‘It would seem you will make headlines tomorrow morning across the Afire Volcano won’t you? Or... don’t tell me you already beheaded the printing company as well?’ The tiny prince held a finger and shook it in front of her with a wink. ‘You should learn to contain that haughty temper of yours Majesty! Brains over brawn after all.’

Having lost interest in his monologue, the queen slumped backwards and rested her head on her hand. She began to sway her foot impatiently.
‘Don’t overstay your welcome, out with it.’

Solomon overreacted as if he had been shot on the chest. One pirouette, two...
The card knights stared at his theatrics.
‘My My! I simply cannot believe that with that hospitality you would get a lot of visitors!’
Solomon gave a mocking bow before continuing.
‘As amazing as the Fire Majesty may be, it is never wise to remove all allies from the vicinity, you see. Diplomacy has its... uses.’
Solomon awaited a reply from the Queen but she was too far-gone to say a single word to what she considered an insect.
‘I’ll give you an example. While your cards may be playing Blackjack all over town, my erm... friends... yes... hear things, see things across the continents and feel... happy to oblige certain information to yours truly. For example: that a town has inexplicably vanished from the volcano, leaving nothing but ashes not over a day ago. That is, without any eruptions happening in the volcano.’
Solomon winked again, knowing it would irritate the Queen of Hearts.
‘Now, there is of course, a small possibility your Majesty would already know this, you know, hypothetically speaking of course. I know your Majesty would never approve such despicable... activities, with her population.’

Solomon gave an apologetically bow.
‘However,’ he proceeded, ‘I know your ‘Heartness’ would, even in this hypothetical scenario, be unaware that the Summoner’s group would have been crossing said town mere minutes after the incident.’ (The Queen raised her head, attempting to contain her surprise, could the prince be saying the truth?) ‘What is more, not only having broken the promise of Kings so early and such, but perhaps also her operation, (ahem, hypothetically speaking your Majesty) may have been a.... royal... failure.’
The Queen stood up at the sneer and Solomon smiled broadly.
‘But alas! It seems I indeed overstayed my welcome. We trouble you not now my dear fire Queen... we will be on our way now! I am pleased to know you had nothing to do with such a saddening incident!’
Spinning on the spot, Solomon turned as the card knights inched closer to him, but the behemoth beside him growled and it was enough to send the guards back to their spots. The Queen stared at the young prince in disbelief. How much did he know? She had not come up with the idea until this morning, nor given any orders til the very last moment for her captain. How would the king of an entirely different island find the time to wander into the exact same spot, or at least know of these actions?

The queen wondered, swirling in uncertainty, as the Six of Clovers beneath her soles gave in and ripped in half.


The ashes swirled to a silent tune in the wind. Only they could hear the music that harmonized their movement. For Kali and company there was nothing but barren horizons and a ground littered with the remaining rubble from the fire. The inferno had finally been consumed. Her eyes unfocused, as her young mind allowed itself to drift into the memories of distant past. A past where she had no recollection of the summoner’s ordeal. Even before knowing she would be chosen, her knowledge of the saviors of legend was nothing but a nighttime story. However she was now living it in the flesh, and how different it had been. Was she only narrated the bonfires and laughter they had lived but an evening ago, but omitted the licking flames that the summoners endured, both inside and outside?
Her thoughts were interrupted by a blurry, moving figure ahead disturbing the silent peace of the scenery. Her eyes returned to the world and saw Endor, waving her arms in hopes of catching her attention. It took Kali several blinks and seconds to register what her friend was trying to communicate. Her lips moved but the stifling aged air carried no message. Her dry eyes forced themselves to follow Endor’s every pronunciation.
‘Found one.’ It read in her lips.

Another second to register.

Kali felt a jolt of electricity and stood right up, alarming Vouivre beside her.

A survivor.


Kali reached Endor, where the necromancer (aided by Doris) tried to remove smoldering pieces of a wooden beam given up, to reveal the contents beneath. Kali could see it, an arm, and the faintest recognition of a moving breath. She began helping to remove the coolest pieces of the rubble as fast as she could. Sean found them and saw the kid. The young boy was sprawled—not, clutching an overlarge trunk. With the last of the rubble over the boy gone, Sean attempted to carry him from the scene but the boy suddenly shouted in a hoarse boy (no!) and grasped the trunk even stronger. His voice was feeble, everyone knew his strength was fading. They attempted to remove him but he would not budge.

(no!)
Kali began to feel desperate.
‘We need to get him out of here, he will be worse off soon, he is too weak.’ Sean nodded in acknowledgement, looking at the charcoaled trunk. It had melted onto the ground. Unsheathing his flaming sword, Sean kneeled beside the kid.
‘Grab as hard as you can, ok?’
The kid opened his eyes for the first time, registering shock at those words. He knew not the swordsman in front of him, but the man did not seem to try to part him from the now only treasured belonging inherited from his mentor. The boy attempted to nod and closed his eyes again.
Sean carefully ignited his blade and began melting away the ground debris fused to the trunk as best as he could. With the last memento from a relic guardian of the past finally free from its smoldering prison, Mikhail felt the last of his strength ebb away and was swallowed by darkness.
[Image: Alungi-Signature-Thingy.png]
SLIME SQUAD!!
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