TERA: For the Federation Season 2 Ep4: Hubris
By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
The minutes following the realization that the walls were closing in were quick and chaotic. Platy surrounded our battalion with a protective aura and pushed back against the walls, summoning multiple thralls of various shapes and sizes in an attempt to delay their movement. The men I had thought cowards moments ago now fought to the death without hesitation, Dougal constantly repeating the shout 'forward or death,' driving them on in an animalistic fashion not terribly different from the corrupt devas we now faced. Unfortunately our foes had no regard for defense and an all out offensive push was costing us more lives than we were taking, and the numbers were fast falling out of our favor. The guttural shouts of Kutmaschuk, the make-shift leader of the corrupt devas, continued to drive on their frenzied push against us, as we found ourselves back on the staircase with Dougal and I holding the baseline as our men desperately struggled to pull the injured out of harm's way.
Everyone in the room was temporarily distracted as the last of Platy's thralls of vengeance fell, and the roof began to cave in on top of us. The shouts of Kutmaschuk were brought to an end as a large stone fell straight into his open mouth, slamming his head into the ground and giving us the brief opening we had been waiting for. Jelena and Elleon rolled over top of Dougal and I, beckoning us to push through with them. They cut a maddening line of unbound flesh through the middle of the confused mass of Devas as we followed suit, our objective the nearly closed portal that Samael had escaped through. Platy teleported to the side and hopped on the back of his final thrall of protection, beckoning it to run for the portal as it clubbed and bashed an endless supply of Devas ready to hold him down to share the same fate they were bound to. The entire room was no more than eight feet high and twenty feet wide when the first of us reached the portal. The men at the back of the line, knowing they had no hope of reaching the light, began to cut down pursuing devas as rocks cut the spark of life from them in rapid succession. I turned back with the intention to help but Elleon's firm hand fell on my shoulder, preventing any rash actions.
"I've had to suffer witnessing countless dozens of men under my command give their lives in the past year. And thousands more before it in the great elven wars. This is part of your life now Dizzy. Your only duty to them now is to live and make your life count so their sacrifice will one day mean something to the world."
Elleon and Dougal charged forward into the portal along with a small handful of men that had managed to keep up with our sickening pace. It suddenly occurred to me that Platy was no where to be found. I then saw a lone thrall in the corner of the room battling off ten devas with Platy standing atop its shoulders firing off a solid stream of soul destroying poisons. The fiends writhed in pain and scratched as his feet in their feeble attempts to drag him from his perch before the room itself collapsed on them all. I pulled my chain from my back and handed one end of it to Jelena.
"Take this into the portal. Run until it's taut. Then pull as hard as you can!" Jelena nodded wordlessly and rushed into the portal with the chain in hand. I then charged forward, my corrupted lance emitting a field of air that knocked everything out of the pathway between Platy and I. I reached out and grabbed his paw just as the chain tightened, pulling me onto my back as the ceiling shuttered and fell to a mere four feet above the ground. Platy and I gripped onto the chain, our minds blank as death shuttered above us a second time, lowering the ceiling to the point that I had to suck my belly in to fit through the narrow pathway. Our forms disappeared into blinding light as the room collapsed in a deadening thud, sending tropical birds flying to Castanica as the shockwave disturbed the peace in the local jungle.
I came to looking up at the surprised face of Dougal and bitter but relieved expression of Elleon. As I glanced to the side I had to blink and take a second look before my mind comprehended the new surroundings. From crumbling ruins we suddenly had emerged in some kind of mansion, the rough craftsmanship and demonic yet regal statues suggesting it was constructed during the Empire of the Giants in honor of a Castanic hero. Through the windows shown nothing but the same blinding light we had passed through to reach our destination. Platy scrambled to his feet, his pupils darting rapidly from one side of the room to the other as he held his twin wands together like dowsing rods.
"By the gods, such a place was said to be impossible to create even by the Pora Elinu Academy."
"What are you going on about?" Dougal questioned, his stern voice failing to fully hide his natural human curiosity. Platy turned to him as if offended for not realizing the glory of their current situation.
"This room.. nay, this entire mansion is a a temporal seal. A place in the physical realm separated from reality to forever hold and repeat its designated time frame. It never ages, it never progresses, but the world around it continues as if it never had been. The fact the Scions of Lok even knew it existed.. it's too impossible to be a coincidence or lucky guess. There is a god at work with plans for the revival of Lok and his people."
"Impossible," interjected Jelena, "This is called the Age of Mortals for a reason. The gods haven't made their presence known for eons. They have all but abandoned us to forge our own destinies now."
"But the evidence shows-" Platy's rebuttal was interrupted by the hauntingly beautiful laugh of Akia, with Samael pointing forward at our battered and weary crew.
"I thought you carried the scent of knowledge when I met you at the Isle of Dawn, rodent," mocked Akia. "I never would have believed a non-believer would have realized the true nature of Lok's revival. Surely a simple spear alone would not carry the catalytic power to bring back the great Warlord Lok."
"Enough!" Samael yelled to drown out Akia's overconfident rant. He gave a stern glare in Akia's direction before speaking. "You said Elleon would die at the Isle of Dawn and here he stands." He then looked at his closest follower Stadrian. "You assured me there was no escape from the mines Stadrian, and yet here Elleon stands." He then walked forward, standing near toe to toe with Elleon. "And not in my wildest dreams did I imagine not only you, but an entire band of your men could have walked out of that death trap of a Devas filled ruins. Don't you see Elleon? Your power is beyond imagination but your motives are confused. Join with me and we can forge an empire greater than that of the Elves at their peak. A federation empire ruled and protected by a true god, with the power to hunt down and destroy even the Argons where they nest.
"You're mad Samael. Akia has twisted your mind beyond recognition of the great rising general I respected in the war. I could never allow my people to serve you after what you have done to dishonor the Federation."
"Mad you say? Quite the contrary Elleon. Unlike you, I can see the picture. A big picture that includes me as the immortal ruler of Velika, undisputed capital of the Federation of Arborea!" At this Samael gripped onto Elleon's shoulders as claws exploded from his nails, penetrating through Elleon's flesh and causing his twin swords to fall from his hands. Jelena immediately launched into action, but was countered and knocked unconscious with one rapid shield counter strike from Stadrian.
"Hold them here Samael." Akia shouted. "Buy me five minutes and I'll have the Spear of Gidd in my position." A chain flew through the air just over the heads of the suddenly gruesome looking Samael. Akia twirled backward acrobatically, spinning just out of range of the chain's reaching grasp. She quickly disappeared up a nearby flight of stairs.
"Damn," muttered Dougal through clenched teeth. "Everyone after her. We can't let the Scions have that spear!" I prepared to charge forward but was blown back by the inhuman voice that now bellowed from Samael's mouth.
"Ooo. You simple minded soldiers believe the gods can be challenged in the Age of Mortals? Your hubris will be the downfall of this world." Samael ripped his claws from Elleon's shoulders and tossed him across the room. Samael lifted his hands into the air as his facial features began to distort, eyes stretching wide and thin as his mouth's edges spread wider, creating a look not unlike that of a jackal. Two dark red orbs formed into eyes amidst his forehead as metallic bone structures jutted from his jaw forming a helm made of exoskeleton.
"Strength is all that matters in this world. It's all that ever mattered in this world. My strength will save this world from the Argons. And your pitiful efforts to stop me will be viewed as traitorous when I write the history of the Great Argon War. The Age of Mortals will be brought to an end with the ushering of a mortal becoming a God! Now prepare your weapons worms and taste the might of Arborea's Emperor!"