The Aftermath Of Mount Woe Chapter 45
Dalton was sitting late in his own study, poring over his Golem designs. He had planned to keep making more of the basic model, but if they kept actually being defeated like this, that would not be a wise thing to do. After all, there was only a certain amount of Serges' armor to go around. Perhaps if he combined all the remaining armor into one super Golem, a sort of Golem Boss, that would ensure that at least one Golem would always be around. He sketched about how thick the armor on the Golem Boss would be, using what materials he had now, and smiled. That amazing sword attack the boy had used to destroy the standard Golem would hardly make a dent in it. Of course, a war machine of that caliber would also have to be more intelligent...
His thoughts froze as he heard the faint sound of metal grinding against metal. Turning slowly around, he saw Ertai in the doorway behind him. The boy, no, he must be fourteen now, the teen was dressed all in black, and burdened with the weight of at least a dozen swords strapped to his back. He wore a belt and shoulder strap full of devices Dalton didn't recognize, and held an odd, ominous looking object in his hand. "I think you know why I'm here." He growled.
"Now is not a good time." Dalton hissed.
"You promised to let me kill you. I think you've forgotten that promise. When would be a good time? Zeal's already enslaved thousands of the Earthbound ones. I think now is a good time to stop you from helping her enslave even more."
"I'm working on it."
"No, you're not. You no longer have any free will. You're just an agent of Lavos."
"Fine. If you're going to be that way..." Dalton stood up and drew his sword. "I don't know how you expect to defeat me with all those swords weighing you down."
"Movement is a secondary priority." Ertai said in a neutral voice. He pulled one of the swords out of its sheath on his back, but instead of holding it forward, inserted it into the device in his hand. "I think you'll be doing most of the moving, unless you're prepared to make good on your promise."
"Lavos won't let me." Dalton said, gritting his teeth.
"I thought so. Time to die, Dalton."
"Your brother said the same thing, and he failed."
"Greven's only shortcoming was his failure to plan adequetly. I've been scheming this for two years. Now that's enough time stalling. Prepare yourself for the void!" Before Dalton could make a move, Ertai pulled a small metal rod sticking out from the device he carried. There was a small explosion inside, and the sword launched forward at an amazing speed. It tore through Dalton's cape as he desperately jumped to the side, and buried itself in the wall halfway to the hilt, sending pieces of brick flying. Not wasting time, Ertai quickly unsheathed another sword and loaded it into the launcher. He aimed it at the spot on the floor where Dalton was struggling up. The mage lunged upward in time to avoid a fatal injury, but the sword went through his left arm, pinning him to the spot.
Ertai grabbed a circular device from his belt, and threw it into the launcher. As he yanked hard on the metal rod again, the object flew forward, then erupted into an explosion that filled half the room. As the smoke dissipated, Dalton reappeared out of thin air, then cast a spell to heal his arm. "My turn." He grinned. An iron orb fell flat on Ertai, smashing him into the floor. Or at least, it appeared that way. But Ertai vanished from underneath and reappeared sitting on top of the orb. Dalton gaped. Teleportation was supposed to require at least some charge up time. But Ertai had just 'ported instantaneously. Ertai swung his device in a circle behind him. When he lowered it again, there was another sword sticking out of it.
"A wasted turn, at that." Ertai pulled the rod, and the sword raced into Dalton's torso, carried him back and pinned him into the wall. Grimacing, Dalton ripped the sword out, screaming in pain as he did so. He quickly healed himself again.
"You little punk! You just couldn't handle a magical battle, could you?!" Ertai grinned and stretched out his hand. A deadly mixture of fire and lightning washed over Dalton, and he collapsed to the floor.
"I see you're not too fond of the Vigo special. Do you prefer it to Melchior's inventions?"
"How did Melchior manage to help you? That old geezer is dead!"
"Maybe. I just threw together everything in his workshop. It's not being used much lately."
"Where have you been hiding?"
"Enhasa isn't the only place Belthasar has a secret room. Now that's enough stalling!" Ertai launched another circular device, and Dalton jumped aside as it exploded. "I would suggest you run." Ertai smiled sadistically and launched one of the explosives every few seconds, as Dalton ran down the hall.
Then suddenly, he was out, and Dalton was charging at him, sword in hand. Ertai swung the launcher up and fired a sword. Dalton jumped aside. Ertai fired another, missing again. By the time he loaded a third, Dalton was right on top of him. He lifted the sword and launcher up to block Dalton's blow. The force of it caused it to fly from his fingers, and Dalton nailed him in the head with his sword hilt on the backhand swing. "Shit!" Ertai shouted, grabbing for it. Dalton's sword came down just inches from his face, and his eyes widened. Ertai 'ported himself just behind and above Dalton, kicking the taller man in the head as gravity took hold again. Dalton whirled around and grabbed his belt and shoulder strap, then quickly slammed him into the wall. The way it was now, if Ertai teleported, Dalton was likely to follow. Reluctantly, he 'ported out of his equipment before Dalton could slam him again, instantly giving his enemy at least five swords.
Dalton drew the best looking one, and retained use of his own, then headed after Ertai. Realizing he was defenseless, Ertai scrambled for the launcher. Dalton threw the sword he had just picked up at Ertai, then picked the launcher up. Ertai tried to teleport it out of Dalton's hands, but the wizard instantly yanked it right back. Dalton backed him up against the wall, and was about to start gloating, when Ertai closed his eyes and stretched his arm out. After a few tense seconds, the launcher jerked away from Dalton and began blinking in and out of existence rapidly. Dalton realized that Ertai was teleporting it many times a second, so that it was impossible for him to get a fix on it. As the rapidly phasing object slowly made its way through the air toward Ertai, Dalton knew he should do something, but he couldn't. The teen was showing a true mastery of telekinesis. While a fair amount of the people in Zeal had knowledge of this unusual magical skill, most of them only used it to teleport themselves from place to place. No one else had anywhere close to this amount of skill.
Ertai heard feet running down the hall, and tried to hurry it up. As the launcher finally came to rest in his hands, he pointed it at Dalton's head. "Let's see how fast you regenerate when you don't have a brain to cast a spell with." He pulled on the rod, and the sword rocketed out faster than any of the others. Dalton jumped to the side, but his head was tilted at just the wrong angle, so that the sword cut through his good eye before passing into the wall. Ertai sadly realized he didn't have time to do anything else, and teleported away just as the first guards rounded the corner. However, he didn't leave the palace completely yet. There was someone he had to see first.
Schala awoke very slowly. The Nooze flowing through her was wearing out, and she was sluggish as a result. She became aware that someone was in standing beside her bed. "Don't be afraid Schala."
"Ertai?" She asked, almost excited.
"In the bruised flesh. Now, get up."
"Why? I'm so tired..."
"I know. Get up anyway, I don't have much time." Schala slowly complied. Ertai flicked his wrist, and the room took on a subdued glow. Ertai guided her to the full length mirror opposite the windows. "Look at yourself, and tell me what you see." Wondering what this was all about, she followed orders. Schala was surprised to see that Ertai was as tall as she was now. That brought her to consider her height. She had been growing a little lately. Then she considered other physical aspects of herself. Her legs were a little longer, her bust had filled out a little more, which was always a plus, she thought, and her facial features were a little more distinct.
"I've gotten older since the last time I saw you, but so have you."
"What caused it?"
She shrugged. "The Nooze, I guess."
"You're missing the point. Walk around." She proceeded to do so, looking confused. "Now," Ertai pointed at her, "look at yourself. Really look. Schala, you can't fake that walk!" He looked at the floor for a minute. "You've got to be a spirit, not a ghost. Look, whether you're breathing or not, you're still alive!"
"But what are you saying? What are you trying to get me to do?" She looked at him with pleading eyes.
Suddenly, there was a knock on her door. "Miss Schala, are you all right?" One of the guards shouted through the wall.
"My whole point is what I just said. You've got to be a spirit Schala, not some damned ghost." Then, just as the guards barged inside, he teleported away.
"That guy just blinded Lord Dalton! Are you all right?!" The guard demanded.
"I'd only be all right if Dalton had been killed." Schala mumbled, looking out the window.
Zeal, or more accurately, the soul of Zeal, sighed heavily as her body began the incantations to Lavos necessary to repair Dalton. The fact that disturbed her most was that she was sure her body would restore Dalton completely. He would be as good as new, if not better, while her little girl would continue to suffer. She reflected that the old Schala would have been annoyed to hear herself referred to as a "little girl," especially after Greven made her woman, so to speak. But the way she was now, she wouldn't care. 'But Schala will always be my little girl, and I'll always be her mother, if either of us survive this.'
She saw Dalton's compromised cornea slowly reassembling, the red glow of Lavos' energy slowly alternating to blue, until Dalton slowly began to blink. He rose to a kneeling position, and bowed. "I must apologize profusely, your majesty. I not only failed to stop an intruder in the palace, but allowed him to defeat me."
"As well you should apologize, you pathetic creature. But did you allow him to defeat you, or did he do it on his own?" She heard herself say.
"I allowed him." Dalton said fiercely, than volunteered no further information.
"I've begun to wonder about you lately Dalton. I hope that Lavos giving you back your gift of sight will help to ensure your loyalty."
"You can count on it, my liege."
From the corner of the hall, Janus watched the proceedings with a grim expression. The black wind was still blowing as strongly as before, so obviously it had not been screaming about Dalton biting the dust. It was giving a warning about someone more important. But who? As Janus tried hard to concentrate, the wind continued to howl...
"It tells you that the worst is coming. Do you listen?" - Lovisa Coldeyes
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