Chapter 31: The Storm Brewed of Tears and Rage. The Image of the Boar
They came upon them, from two from armies, united as one, under foulest possession. In front was the calvary, both that of the ground and that of the air. Of the dead army, there were two squads of battlemages upon the backs of what in life had been manticores.
Once they had grim human faces and proud manes flowing back on a lion’s body, from which there were both large bat-like wings and scorpion tail. Now, there was only bone and exoskeleton. Fanged humanoid skulls. Each sheathed in rusting armour.
The undead did not have mounted knights on the ground, but instead were lightly armoured skeletons upon the backs of grand skeleton lizards. These undead had with them a cluster of black spears the tips of which were covered in fitful orange flames.
The frost covered knights of the city looked the worse for wear, many of them were partly petrified, stone crumbling off them as they advanced. The flying calvary of the city were giant bats strapped to the back of which were hooded, leather armoured soldiers who wielded both long lances and slings.
The cavalry of the ground rode on an ancient breed of riding tiger. These tigers were as heavily armoured as their snake-tailed, four-armed masters, yet they were a speedy breed, red of fur and crazed in eye. The riders bore a mess of lances, spears and maces, only a few had towering shields that were shaped in the form of an open palm.
Beyond this, from the city army, pikemen marched in front of magi and men with bows as great as trees. Amidst them shambled the spearmen of the undead army. There was a march, but the manner of the combined armies was undisciplined and rigid, their movements crooked, as if some child was pushing his toy soldiers back and forth, in aping notion of movement.
Behind this force was the mandragora’s finest accomplishment. It was one of the siege octopi. One of those massive spirits bound in towers of crumbling stone and rune. A number of the rings around the spirit’s limbs were broken, the mages and archers set within long lost. It was inside this that the mandragora had taken root. Everyone could sense its foul presence, putting both fear and rage in their hearts.
Fear of the chlanic, and rage at its mockery of existence. It was a thing that you both feared yet wished to destroy utterly.
It inspired loathing. So deep was it rooted within the octopus it was, but they could feel it!
“Well, at least it hasn’t possessed the whole pair of armies” Zamelnah said cheerfully.
“Do you want to take on the siege-monster yourself?” Koolah shouted.
Zam grimaced and spread his feathered hand.
“I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on that, I believe Yovra and I shall have to dance with these flying fiends a bit, isn’t that right Yovra?”
Yovra gazed at him coolly, but then most of her gazes were like that.
“You are acting a bit familiar, agent of Vulk, but you are right, we shall send them wailing from the skies, broken and useless, we shall break them so badly it will pain the mandragora!” She said.
With that she sped off atop her sword. Zam cough dryly and flew after her.
“Suppose I should get started too” Wauldigg said, before closing his eyes and swaying his hammer back and forth like a pendulum. A faint image of blue bell began to form behind him.
The wanderer however, just simply clambered up atop one of the statues of the Archfiends, the one that looked vaguely like a boar, then noises like a cat’s claws on slate issued forth as it began to carve something with its bare fingers.
The three sisters just concentrated on stirring, and the flow of magic grew yet stronger.
A roar not unlike a dragon’s came from Yovra’s throat and the projectiles that the fliers had sent her way were scattered to the winds, the winds which were at the beck and call of Zam. He swept up all these deadly things, and send them as a dire rain upon the magi and archers behind the footsoldiers. Ethereal palms conjured up stopped many, but not all of the mages produced barriers. Some simply went through the motions, having long lost the spark needed to do the magic they had been trained to do.
As if a fierce blizzard, Yovra and Zam tore into the fliers, beings that had lost their will and were mere puppets of a plant could not best them. They were however still deadly and many in number, the blizzard could not instantly destroy all.
When Yovra and Zam hit, at the same time, there was the toll of a bell! Wauldigg opened his eyes and shot forth as if from a cannon, and bell vibrant behind him, he bounced between the cavalry running forth on the ground. A toll of the bell with each hammer strike, and with each toll, Wauldigg spun faster between his victims!
A cry of rage and fear came from within the siege octopus, as the mandragora saw that its efforts were not bearing fruit.
…yet as Yovra, Zam and Wauldigg fought, they found that there were more and more of the mandragora’s thralls appearing from the darkness. Not only that, but the octopus was tearing up trees and tossing them towards the cauldrons. Yovra would cut them asunder with blade of ice, or Zam would slice them with wind, but the situation was rapidly beginning to get out of control.
Especially as the thralls began to encircle the cauldrons. Only the insane speed and movements of Wauldigg kept them back.
“Whatever those statues do, now would be a good time for them to do it!” Yovra shouted.
Koolah merely grunted. The force of the flows of magic was particularly strong around the cauldrons, like being stuck amid several whirlpools. Qusheab took advantage of the thick and chaotic magic, lifting her hat slightly from her head.
The red hat began to glow and then the gem on the top shined.
“I, last heir of Dauftima, my tears and rage I did brew to storm, to destruction and creation…”
Crimson cloud began to roll out from the depths of the hat, and started to swirl around the cauldrons, growing strong on their fumes, strong on the flow of magic.
A shriek came from the octopus and the mandragora more desperately began to throw rock, earth, tree and even its own thralls.
“O, my storm, storm of my wrath and sorrow, smite my foes, smite these still statues with motion, with the force of anger! Give them fury such as those that they are made in the image of!” Qusheab cried.
The storm let out a thunderous cry before dividing into thirteen parts each vanishing into the statues. Then, with a rumble, they began to slowly move!
One however was different, the vaguely boar-like statue that the wanderer had been carving!
It began to shine with a golden light and a mad cackle came from the wanderer!
“Imperfect image, channel the glory of your image, pull upon his will and power, echo with his might! Be filled with greater fury, with madness! Forget that you are mere statue, are you not image? ARE YOU NOT MADE IN IMAGE OF THE BULLMANE GOLDTYRANT? RUN RAMPANT!!!!!”
The statue shook, as in doing so it seemed to shake of some aspect of being a statue, becoming more clearer a golden boar, horned and mighty tusked. Eyes like volcanoes, mouth spewing red storm. It let loose a bellow and the soil churned beneath its hooves.
The wanderer laughed and the icy abyss laughed with it.
While the other statues waded through enthralled soldiers, the boar charged right at the siege octopus. The mandragora in panic rooted more deeply in the octopus and bid it devour trees, corrupting both, and forming a new body of wood.
With the wanderer’s crazed laughter urging it, the boar crashed into the remodelling octopus.