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Tales of Aion - Center of the Storm - Chapter Four

September 14, 2009

Tales of Aion - Five-part Fictional Story - # 4

Tales of Aion is a five-part fictional story written by Michael Lafferty at GameZone. It traces the stories of two characters, one Elyos and one Asmodian as they move through the world and into a battlefield where the races collide.. It is a personal journey for each – Esala’ayni, the Elyos ranger, and Korasai, the Asmodian spiritmaster – from their re-awakening in the world to their acceptance of who they are and what their place is in the torn land.
 

The first story centers on Esala’ayni as she begins to realize what and who she truly is, with each step in the land of Poeta revealing more and more about her nature and her place in the Elyos society. The second story takes on the tale of an Asmodian and his paths and thoughts through his ascension to Daeva. Story three continued the path woven by Esala'ayni.

 

Chapter 4 – Center of the Storm

Korasai slapped at his neck. The small irritating bite ceased immediately, the source of the pain crushed beneath the hand of the Daeva. The spiritmaster sighed, an exhalation conveying contempt for where he was. Mahindel Swamp was an overgrown jungle, rife with decaying smells, humidity that glued his robe to his skin and a wide assortment of things – both small and large – that wished to feast on his flesh.

His mind wandered, envisioning Pandaemonium – a city of light and shadows. The waterfalls sang a lullaby to the soul while the lush green plants provided a haven for the gentle songs and soft forms of varied winged creatures. The world almost seemed at peace there, so far from the troubles. Korasai found himself hungering for that place … at least it would be better than deep within the swamp.

Still, he was called to duty and that duty led him to this place – a far cry from the rolling hills of his youth, and far more dangerous. It was not so much the Black Claw tribe that he was concerned with, but rather those with him on this mission – Gods’Ire the sorcerer, a lady gladiator named Reon and the cleric, Hannah. Bugs bit at his skin, the Black Claw flashed weapons at his life force, but these three fired barbs missiles at his mind.

The sorcerer was staring at Korasai, his eyes almost mocking the spiritmaster. What the eyes hinted at, the voice conveyed. “So let me get this straight …,” Gods’Ire said. “You think that if your manifestation of fire – your elemental – kills something, because you do not kill it directly yourself, you have no responsibility for that kill?”

 “That is one of the more ridiculous things I have heard,” said Reon, casually twirling her halberd in her hands. It seemed a playful gesture but it was more than that. Korasai had seen Reon put the halberd to work and while the twirling was playful now, he knew it could turn deadly in a heartbeat.

“Your floating friend there is merely an extension of your own will,” Hannah said, “and thus what your elemental kills is by the force of your will. Whether your hands bear the stain of their blood or not, you are the central part in the deed.”

Korasai merely sighed. It was the same argument he had had with himself on many occasions.

 “And am I not merely the ‘elemental’ or tool of those above me, the Daevas who sent me to this place and tasked me with the death of this Black Claw leader?” he asked. “And if such is the case, then it is they who are central to the deaths we bring to this place, not I.”

The cleric, Hannah, shook her head in resignation. Reon merely laughed. “We are Asmodians, we serve however we are asked to serve to insure the survival of our people. Whether that duty calls us to this swamp or to the Abyss to fight the Elyos, we each must do what we can for our people.”

Gods’Ire nodded in agreement. “When you accepted the call of ascension, you accepted your duty to Asmodae. And right now our duty is to take the head of a leader of this tribe, to cut the command head of those that threaten Altgard. Color it however you see fit, but when battle comes, you had better be prepared.”

Korasai’s eyes narrowed as anger trickled into his tone of voice, “Have I ever not been prepared?”

 “Ha!” laughed Reon, “my friend, you lead with anger and rage – that much is certain.”

For a moment, Korasai thought about disputing the term ‘friend,’ but movement caught the corner of his eyes. Something was sneaking up through the thickness of the trees. He caught only a glimpse of a spear, and then below, the flash of stripes – it was a Black Claw hunter with its’ companion tayga, a large feline animal.

 “I see it, too,” Hannah said, her voice barely above a whisper. “Reon, behind you and to my right. And sorcerer, be prepared. I don’t think this hunter is alone.”

The halberd stopped twirling, the blade point upward. Reon’s eyes locked on Hannah’s, using the eyes of the cleric to pinpoint the direction. The sorcerer appeared almost relaxed, except for his necks muscles, which were tightening.

Korasai inclined his head slightly downward, sending mental instructions to the fire apparition that floated slightly behind him. There was a routine to follow when the fight started.

The quartet had been through this before, the protocol was clear. Korasai’s elemental would take the brunt of the charge on his flanking side while the spiritmaster would conjure up a root spell to hold off anything that got too close to the cleric. Reon would meet the central charge of the enemy with one of her own, blade dancing and creating a wide path of destruction. The cleric’s wards would center on the gladiator. Gods’Ire would greet any attempting to flank on the other side with his fire spells.

They waited, silent, breath shallow.

And then it began …

Two hunters emerged from the trees, taygas out in front, roaring. Reon’s primal scream was equally terrifying as the chain-clad gladiator ran toward the foremost attacker. Hannah’s lips were in motion, her hands held up slightly, palms skyward, whispering protective incantations.

The tayga to the side nearest Korasai was hit hard in the chest from the attack of the fire elemental that belonged to the spiritmaster. Korasai ignored the rest of the battle, focusing on the tayga and the hunter behind it. He pulled a spell from deep with, one imbued by the chill of winter, meant to stun and slow his enemy. The elemental was slowly killing the tayga. Korasai added a fire spell to that combat and the flames roared to life around the tayga, destroying the beast. He sent the elemental at the dead animal’s Black Claw companion, at the same time pulling more spirits from the planes outside the vision of others and setting them in a constant attacking barrage.

The hunter was fending off three enemies, then a fourth when Reon joined the attack. A fireball, from Korasai’s right, sailed past them all, and within a matter of heartbeats the hunter was dead.

“Some fun,” Reon smiled, even as Hannah cast mending spells on the gladiator. “Now let’s finish this!”

The quartet of Daevas were in motion, running up the incline to the gate that barred the clearing where their target was. There were three guards at the barrier. Reon cut two down and Gods’Ire incinerated the third.

It was quick, efficient, and relatively quiet. They stood in the shadow of the arch of the barrier, and watched for their target. He appeared within moments. Runurru of Misery, one of the Black Claw leaders, emerged from a hut, stretched lazily in the morning sun and turned to speak with one of the sentries.

Korasai was about to say something when Reon let loose a yell and charged across the ground. Another figure emerged from the hut, this one motioning with its hands – a mage. Gods’Ire’s lips were also in motion, forming his own spell. Even as the Black Claw mage’s hands came up to release its attack on Reon, Gods’Ire’s spell hit it. The mage sagged back on its heels, eyes closing over, wrapped up in a spell of sleep. The sentry threw itself between Runurru and the hard-charging Reon.

The ring of steel-on-steel sounded horribly loud – too loud from Korasai’s perspective. He spun on his heels, scanning the clearing, knowing that others nearby were likely to have heard it.

“Go,” he whispered, refocusing on Runurru, and the elemental hovering behind him glided toward the target. The mage would still be a problem, but Gods’Ire was dealing with him. Flames seared at constructed wards, bled through and licked at the mage.  

Korasai heard a grunt from behind and turned quickly. A roaming sentry had indeed heard the clash of steel and had come up from behind, aiming a blow at Hannah. The cleric was in an almost trance-like state, her mending spells and wards aimed at Reon. If not distracted, the sentry would cut the cleric down. Korasai blasted the sentry with an ice spell, knocking it backwards.

The sentry growled, limbs slowed by the spell. A spiritmaster’s greatest ally is mastery of the elements and Korasai called upon that knowledge. He called to the winds and elementals responded. They buffeted the sentry and tore at its life force. Spells of fire followed spells of ice and the sentry howled. Its bloodlust refocused on Korasai and its eyes burned with hatred splashed with pain. Fire and ice continued to assault the sentry, while the wind elementals roared destruction.

Confused, the spiritmaster was forgotten and the sentry swatted at the elementals. Korasai summoned more fire and released his hatred into the ball of flame. Even as it left his hand, he knew he was the master of this death. Every delusion he tried to hide behind danced away from his hand with the burning missile. Flames engulfed the sentry. It opened its mouth, as if to scream, but nothing came out. Then it fell, little more than a smoldering corpse.

Korasai spun but the other battle was almost over. Reon roared in triumph as the halberd descended one last time, cutting deep into the chest of Runurru, slicing away the remnants of life.

It was over – the battle won.

Hannah continued her ministrations, tending to her own wounds. Bloodlust faded from Reon’s face and the breathing of the magic users went from rapid to normal. Finally even Hannah was silent.

The quartet looked at one another, a brief nod, and then wings sprouted from their backs, collected and pushed against the air as they ascended into the sky above the clearing. The four Daevas spun one slow circle over the clearing and then wheeled to skim over the tops of the trees toward Altgard.

Previous chapters in the story:

Chapter One  - The Despair of Innocence

The first story centers on Esala’ayni as she begins to realize what and who she truly is, with each step in the land of Poeta...

Chapter Two - Common Ground

The second story in the five-part series views the world from the perspective of an Asmodian spiritmaster named Korasai. 

Chapter Three - Infiltration

The Elyos ranger is sent on her first mission into Asmodae.

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