Concerted Reversal Part 6

First part of this story here; http://www.elconic.com/2017/06/concerted-reversal-part-1/

Chapter 5: The Drakeling Prince and his Stone Champion

Once upon a time, Mandible was just a simple criminal organization, then a not so simple one. Following that, its power grew, swelled, diminished and was broken. The organization known as Mandible was crushed at the height of its power.

Yes, Mandible was brought to an end. What persisted on however, was what became known as the Creed of Mandible. When it was around, Mandible had one guiding drive. Power. Strength. The more of it the better, with almost manic fervor, Mandible pursued strength and so when it fell, the impact of Mandible remained, forming into a creed that originally went something like this;

‘Only through surpassing strength can you enact your will. Without Strength, nothingness.’

Two simple lines. Yet from those, from the corpse of Mandible a host of those claiming to succeed the Creed of Mandible sprung up. From the likes of the Weakness-Eaters, who quite literally devours the weak but honour and spare those with inner strength, to the virtuous and dubious Protector Beetles, who believe the duty of the strong is to protect and nurture the weak into strength… by any means. Organizations, gangs, individuals. All adapting, interpreting and following the Creed of Mandible.

The majority are of course, quite monstrous and apart from a dedication to gaining power, do whatever cruel or kind whims suggest to them.

This then brings us back to story, and our as of yet unknown followers of the Creed of Mandible, though, It’s a fair bet that they aren’t some of the more ‘kindly’ adherents. We’ll go back in time a few moments, an impossibility in the vast dimensions, but to do so in a story is fine.

The moment? Recall what has happened. The grim Mandible leader stands before the Flambirdge girls, staff raised, the Mandible troopers stir to action. Yvemmai, takes action and screams out a warning.

EVERYONE, PLEASE ESCAPE!”

It is an interesting thing, what people do when crisis hits.

Many of course, blank out in shock. They lack inner strength or at least training. Failure to enact will.

Without Strength, nothingness.

Jojo

Picky

Luca

Each did not have that particular inner quality that even without training shines through when peaceful reality shatters.

Ruin was not stupefied by what was before her… but as clear as her mind was, she couldn’t figure out what to do. She thought too much and thus was caught in the snare of ‘what do I do?’ When the moment hits, it is long past time to wonder what to do. It is the time of action.

It may not have been the best course. The wisest course or anything else like that, but one person of that group of five did take action. Yvemmai’s scream was like a burning brand in Gaddy’s ears.

What to do? Wasn’t it obvious? Didn’t the lady say it? Escape!

Of course, a real surpassing character would have begun to act before Yvemmai had screamed. Yet, how many suspicious people like that exist? A person who would have been at the front of the crowd, who would have seen the tell-tale signs that something was amiss, that would mount the stage and charge the intruder…

Gaddy was not one in a million. He was however, a little more than nothing.

He slapped Luca on the back.

Grab the girls, we’re running!” he hissed.

Then, Luca tossed a weakly protesting Picky over his shoulder. That was the correct move, it would have taken too long to bring Picky to his senses. Together, Gaddy and Luca pushed through the crowd. One acting on instincts, the other following the person he had always followed. Gaddy didn’t think to urge others to follow in their flight.

He wasn’t actually thinking at all. His cold blood was pumping, a freezing flame inside his body as he followed the moment, yet his heart felt queerly slow, as if its beats were disjointed from reality itself, as if… it was someone else’s heart? A heart larger than his own?

First Beat.

A staff tapped against the ground, igniting countless complex magic circuits that had been laid out before.

Second Beat

Luca and Gaddy reached a line of Mandible troopers, that were hiding in and blocking one of the exits. The troopers were quite surprised that someone had rushed over.

Third Beat

Alterworld Hollowing

Fourth Beat

Everything refracted. It was if everything without moving shifted over a step. The world became like a stained-glass window, like a kaleidoscope. Everything was in pieces, but those made up a whole. It was incredibly nauseating, but it wasn’t a nausea that afflicted the stomach, but one that hit the spirit. Yet, in this world of coloured glass shining with light…

The Stone Champion paused for a moment as everything became on the surface unfamiliar, and beneath deeply familiar. His companion, the Drakeling Prince however did not falter. He knew not why, but the foes before them had been rendered still, as their bodies cracked and warped. Before the sinister soldiers could finish revealing their remembered forms, the Prince ordered his Champion to force his way through them. They could not tarry while they had the Twin Maidens and the Spiral Seeker in their care.

Clenching his gauntlets, the Champion bellowed like a bull and charged, scattering the soldiers before him. The prince strolled behind him and together they…

…escaped, gasping, and direction-less, they kept running, their minds struggling to process what on Sunder had just happened. They should have come out in a side alley, but… since when did Smogpolis have a swamp inside it? For that matter, why did everything look like a stained glass picture?

They kept fleeing until they no longer passed by writhing Mandible troopers, what kind of ghastly thing was happening to their bodies? Weren’t they the ones who did, whatever just happened? Gaddy and Luca broke into a ruined cottage, wordlessly they laid down Jojo, Ruin and Picky all of whom had lost consciousness during… whatever that moment was.

Luca flexed his hands, but while they were covered in stony scales, he didn’t have gauntlets on. He wasn’t wearing armour. Those hands moved to clutch his aching head.

J-just what was that? Where are we? What…?” he managed to say.

Gaddy was looking out a hole in the old-fashioned cottage.

I don’t know” he said, not turning his gaze from what he was looking at.

It was where they fled from. Where the concert hall should have been was a building like a sky-scraper, but it was made from petrified creatures.

Just like the pillars of the concert were.