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Thread Topic: Cuddlefish Corner
“Then let’s get moving,” I order.
We immediately head first for Gambrolhiem to check on the other Bladeers. As the snow’s let up, we’re able to travel by way of flight. So we take to the skies, and I end up carrying Charkamorah in her baby carrier strapped to my chest, once again.
Charky titters. “You know, a girl could learn to enjoy the view, here,” she says, lightly pawing at my chest with a mischievous gaze.
“Hands off, Scrappy.”
Zacharius’ olive-green hair streams over their left eye as they turn to me. “Thanks again for coming to the rescue, Shiva. I’d hate for my people to meet their demise, or worse: survive the purge and be left as mindless drones.”
“But,” Akina inquires, “why? Why do they want to purge you all?”
“Akina,” I call, “do you remember—just a few weeks ago—that battle that took place in Midstrom against the Bladeers and the Avalonians?”
“What were you told when going to war against them?”
“Master Lumin said that we must protect the people of Midstrom from the invading Bladeers—dark entities that do not belong in the kingdom. That’s all I’ve known about them.”
Before I can reply, Zacharius asks, “Is that right?” I keep silent as Aries takes over.
“Lumin wants us purged because we’re the supposedly ‘corrupted brethren of the Avalonians’, or illegitimate children. Our titles we’ve gained over the years range from ‘Children of Darkness’ to ‘Fallen (or Dark) Angels’.”
Akina’s eyes widen as his curiosity pulls him into a sea of guilt and worry; he soon finds himself uncomfortable to what Aries opens his eyes to, now. But he still wants to know, nonetheless. “What do you mean by illegitimate?”
“I am a Darkavonian, a hybrid of Darkling and Avalonian descent, and I believe that’s what YOU are.” Akina can’t find the words to speak or even begin to grasp Aries’ words as they go on. “There are two ways Darkavonians come to be: either they become permanently corrupted by a half-purge, or they are directly born by the illegal mingling of a Darkling and Avalonian.”
“What?” he asks in shock. “Darklings and Avalonians—“
“Yes,” I interrupt. “It’s not impossible for a Darkling and Avalonian to fall in love, despite our rough past; as a matter of fact, this strict rule was made for both peoples because of the ‘treachery’ during the war, when people from each side would elope.”
“If you want to be technical,” Zach goes on, “I guess there’s a third way to end up with this hybrid, and that’s simply by mixing energy, which, I suppose still falls under half-purge, to some extent. See, Darklings can reproduce asexually, as they are technically without absolute gender—purely entities of Eliminaara’s magic; their bodies are only illusions or vessels to contain this energy. If Shiva were to release this humanoid form they hold, now, their true form would be the energy you see mid-Shadowshift. When they reproduce on their own, Darklings take their energy and split it into their offspring, somewhat cloning their energy, but when this energy is corrupted with White Magic, you could easily end up with a Darkavonian.”
Akina’s eyes slowly and awkwardly gaze past Aries and land on me. He becomes flustered as his mind continues to race. I spot Akina, however, and try to grant him further clarity as I can sense he’s really wondering about me.
“Usually, Darklings shape themselves to be male or female, or they identify without a gender, as Zacharius does… I am the exception. When I became the typical age a Darkling takes form, I could not, so I’m a mix of sorts. I found that my powers and how I control them tend to influence my body, and my body influences them. Earlier, when Aries mentioned Kali—Kali is the female side of me that holds more of my destructive energy; if I solely become influenced by her, there really is no telling what could happen to me or anything around me.”
“And Shiva,” Akina questions.
“My natural Unity Form of balance. I bear Kali’s attitude, yes, and some of her powers, but I keep the calm and well-intended disposition of Vishnu, the kind-hearted masculine energy in me—the part of me that feels sympathy towards all and a strong desire to preserve. I have not mastered these two opposites, and they often tend to clash. I could be sympathetic one moment and apathetic the next; I haven’t a choice… So, if I’ve hurt your feelings…” I choke my words back, but then, force them out. “I’m sorry. You really do mean a lot to me, Akina, and your safety IS in my best interest. It’s just really hard to get used to being…”
“Nice?” he asks.
“Yeah, that,” I scoff.
“Don’t worry about it,” Akina says. “From now on, I’ll try not to get offended.”
Having flown for a while, we break up our idle chatter when Zach catches a peculiar smell.
They sniff the air twice, then turning towards me. “Shiva, do you smell that?” they ask in alarm.
“I-I do,” I stutter, shocked to smell smoke—the smell of burning wood. “That’s a fire!”
Akina expression grows deeply concerned as he points below us. “And a huge one, at that. There’s a village burning!”
Charkamorah gasps, covering her mouth, turning around, and kicking her legs out to her sides, almost kicking me in the process. “Oh, my word! Akina’s right!”
Aries’ eyes widen. “It can’t be!” Pulling their black wings back over their body, Zacharius darts down from the sky and towards the snowy ground; Akina and I eye each other before quickly following them. Aries hits the ground, landing hard on their feet in a crouch. Standing up slowly, they struggle to take in the sight.
Darkavonians rush this way and that, running from the fires breaking out around the cottages, leaping to other structures and burning up the grass and trees. Beams of bright light fly across the sky and blast homes to smithereens; Light Mages soar above the village, casting spells and lassoing the Bladeers like loose cattle.
“DASCHINE,” Aries curses in Selenian. “They’re already here. But, why? This isn’t what they said they’d do!”
Zacharius and I both simultaneously catch chills down our spines as an unruly amount of White Magic sneaks up on us, and we whip around to find three Light Mages descending from the sky—the females Aries fought at the bar.
But when Akina sees them, he gasp, recognizing them well. “Kadurie, Minesscence, and Valkyrie?!”
“Does my presence surprise you?” the red-haired, red-eyed leader asks, holding up her golden scepter and looking to Zach.
“Disgusts, more like,” they snarl, reaching over their shoulder and drawing their sword.
“I apologize for lying to you,” she begins, “but this was the only way to make sure you brought Shiva to us. It is the only purpose abducting your captain served.”
“It was a trick,” Aries calmly conclude, feeling anger within but oddly concealing it—“…and you knew I would search for Shiva. But you—I pity your thinking; no one could ever cross Shiva or me and hope to get away with it. If you don’t return Captain Kohler and leave this place, you will never see the light of day again,” they finish, and their eyes slowly drift over to me; I’m silently fuming and grimacing—lowly hissing and staring at the three mages with a death-look.
Charkamorah jumps down from her carrier and climbs into Akina’s arms, scared of me as she’s never seen me this angry (and I’m CLEARLY angry; even clueless Akina can tell).
The red-haired mage stretches her red-gemmed scepter out to me. “Come with us, Shiva, and Master Lumin can fix you.”
I nearly stumble back, bewildered. “’Fix’ me? N’ai gahh seuyodah [You have some nerve]!!!” I swing my hand out, spawning my katana and charging at the woman with an unrestrained roar.
The leader of the mages jumps backwards, holding up her scepter and deflecting my strike as sparks fly. “I, Valkyrie Sinetté, will handle you personally, Shiva Jimmu.
“Minesscence, Kadurie—take care of the rest of them.”
Golden-haired Minesscence nods, sharpening her golden eyes and drawing her spear. “Will do,” she replies, spinning her weapon and standing tall.
Kadurie’s short, powder-blue hair bounces as she pulls back her hands and spawns a bow and arrows. “On it, Valkyrie,” she responds—powder-blue eyes burning with determination. “Essence!” she chants, and several beams of light shoot out from her body, taking form as copies of herself; the copies then spread throughout the village in search of all the Bladeers.
Charkamorah jumps down from Akina’s hands, waving off Kadurie. “Sweetie, I can do that, too,” she says, taking her more human-ish form and multiplying. Charky and the copies chase after Kadurie’s entities.
Akina reaches his hand out to the sky, causing his blue-gemmed scepter to appear. “Shining Sythe!” The light blade appears at the end of his scepter and he quickly charges into Kadurie, locking his scythe against her bow.
Minesscence turns towards Zacharius in pity, examining them. “You poor, misshapen, creature; Lumin could fix you, as well, if you would only comply.”
Aries keeps a cool demeanor as they shift their stance. “Surly I must being hearing things, because for a second, I could’ve sworn you just called me ‘misshapen’.”
“You are a corrupt Avalonian, one of the Fallen Angels—and just look at what it’s done to you! Why, you poor thing—you haven’t even a gen—“
“AAAAHG-HAAAAAAHGH!” Minesscence flies past me and Valkyrie, hitting the snow and landing hard on her back with a fresh cut on her face.
Aries tosses their long, olive-green hair as they sashay over to Minesscence and stand over her. “(Slowly) Don’t patronize me,” they warn with a stern look of displeasure.
I jump back and swing out to shield myself from Valkyrie’s attack, gritting my fangs together. “Where is Captain Kohler,” I demand to know.
“I couldn’t tell you that,” she replies, dodging away as I lunge at her.
“Tell me, NOW,” I order, dispersing my sword and reaching out for Valkyrie; I grab her with my magic, gripping her tight around her neck and raising her into the air as my eyes turn all red. My voice subtly becomes altered as I speak. “Tell me…tell me now…where is Captain Kohler?!”
“We—(choking) purged—him.” Valkyrie drops to the ground, panting and feeling around her neck. “We brought him before Master Lumin and purged Otfrid Kohler.”
Zacharius pauses their fight against Minesscence in hearing the news, quietly gasping and lowering their blade in morbid disbelief.
“When we purged him, Otfrid collapsed shortly after. He is dead. I’m sorry,” Valkyrie shamefully states. “I thought we could help him.”
“Did you,” I rhetorically ask. “Did you really?”
Charkamorah and Akina meet back up, cringing and covering their eyes as a strange cloud of purple and black surrounds me.
“What’s going on, now,” Akina worriedly inquires, jumping back away from me.
Charky bites her lip. “Something tells me we don’t want to know.”
I let out a monstrous shriek, spreading my arms out and hovering into the air as the clouds blot out my appearance. The wind picks up like a hurricane sits before the three Light Mages; lightning surges around the clouds as they twirl into a super-sonic twister.
Zacharius chokes back a gasp, struggling to keep their footing as the darkness reflects off their silver eyes. They hold their arm up to shield their face from the wind, unable to take their eyes off the sight, watching the cloud wall part and reveal my new form. “Kali,” they whisper in sheer terror.
I land on the ground—black hair in two long pigtails, blood-red eyes blazing. I am now wearing a sleek, black jumpsuit with an oversized hood and cape at the back—the front of my jumpsuit having a loincloth hanging past the cutoff mid-thighs. On my head is a silver tiara, twisted up like silver vines with a single red jewel in the middle; matching crescent-moon earrings hang from my ears. My long, elbow-high gloves are lined with silver at the edges, just as my black, tall boots are; and the top of my jumpsuit is also lined with silver, having a red gem in the middle.
Akina’s eyes widen as he trembles in place. “That’s Kali? She’s…” He lowly utters a nervous grunt, gripping his right hand as the sun symbol on his palm lights up. “…she’s crazy-powerful.”
Aries, in a daze, brings themself to stand next to Akina. “Stupid-powerful,” they correct him.
Charky shrinks down and grips Zach’s leg; Zach picks her up to comfort her. “I’m actually scared.”
I spread my bat wings out behind me, holding a black scepter in my hand—the tip having a blood-red crescent moon. I sashay towards Valkyrie and stand before her as she stares off, frozen in horror.
“No,” she gasps. She shakes her head and inches away. “You’re Kali, the legendary entity of destruction!”
“So then,” I start out with a strong, authoritative voice as I lift off the ground and hover in the air, “not EVERYTHING Lumin teaches you is a lie. But shame on you for provoking me. You certainly MUST have a death-wish.”
Kadurie whispers to Minesscence as I deal with Valkyrie. “Quick, summon back-up! This CAN’T be good.”
As I walk closer to Valkyrie, she fearfully holds tight to her scepter and backs away from me. “What’s the matter,” I taunt. “You came in hot, acting all bad, and now you want to run? What are you so afraid of, my dear? What can I do that Shiva could not? What can I do, you ask? I’ll show you!”
“Iin-yehhh,” unsettled Valkyrie cries, nearly stumbling over her own two feet and putting up her scepter to shield herself.
“RAHHHH!” I swing my scythe, slamming it right into her scepter, splitting Valkyrie’s weapon in half.
“Aaagh! No!” she cries as the broken halves fall to the snow and sink down, blazing hot.
I raise my scythe again, pulling it back and pitting my eyes straight into hers. “Say ‘goodbye’.” Before she can move, I swing my scythe again; Valkyrie cringes and shuts her eyes tight; but, I stop right at her side—the blade just grazing her armor.
Valkyrie opens her eyes, confounded as I slowly retract my scythe. “Huh?”
My eyes sharpen to a heartless gaze as I raise a single finger and point it at her. “Be gone.” A large blast of purple and black shoots out from my fingertip, surrounding the mage as she lets out a shrill scream. When I lower my hand, the energy disperses, and the smoke begins to clear.
Valkyrie lies in the snow—smoke steaming off her. Her once-white wings are blacker than soot, and her red eyes turn a dull brown—her red hair a bland grey. Her eyes carry no liveliness or vigor, but only distance and agony.
Akina lets out an unintentional utterance, jumping back. “Whu-aaaah! Kali just Dark Aura Purged Valkyrie with a single finger!”
I turn around and my black cape flings itself out to my side before slipping back behind me, and my eyes land dead-center on Kadurie and Minesscence. “You’re next. YIUHH!” I slash my scythe out and a blast shoots out, hitting both girls; they fall to the ground, appearing just as lifeless as their pathetic leader. “You should have listened to Shiva, but frankly, they were too nice. Now, you have a raging Destroyer on your hands; how do you like that?
“Uhn?” I spot a shadow on the ground. Several shadows, actually, and they’re slowly descending from the sky like millions of rain drops or free-falling clouds. I lift my eyes up as my ears lay back flat and I see a whole army of Avalonian Light Mages coming down to meet their demise. “You will fall before the Great Destroyer Kali! ALL WILL FALL BY MY HAND!”
Zacharius grits their teeth. “This isn’t good. Shiva’s lost control. We need to reawaken Vishnu and get the two back in sync before Kali destroys everything!”
Akina worriedly looks to Aries. “But, how? It looks too dangerous to even TRY approaching Kali. How are we supposed to catch Vishnu’s attention?”
“Ghuiiiiiuh,” Zacharius groans, thinking real hard.
Back and forth, I swing my scythe, sending out blasts of dark energy, taking out tens and twenties at a time—all of them being swallowed up by my power and hurled to the ground as they once did to MY people.
“I hope you enjoy this because THIS is how WE feel! This is what you’ve done to my people, and this is what made me the last Shadow Warrior alive! All the purging, all the destruction, all the twisted sense of morality you carried in your delusional, despicable beings! Know my power,” I tell them, pausing my attacks and charging my hand with energy, “—it will be the last thing you know.”
“KALI,” Zacharius calls out, flying straight for me like a rocket to the sky. “Kali, you must stop this senseless destruction! Our people are still alive on the grounds below, and your very temper could destroy us all! Please, have mercy on them and spare them, just once.”
I whip around to Zacharius, hissing at them, discontent. “Foolishness! What you speak of is foolishness! Why would I dare spare these miserable beings?!”
For a moment, their eyes flit around as they think up a good reply (half-heartedly because they may inwardly feel that at least SOME of the Avalonians deserved this). “Beeeecauuuuse Vishnu would?” they sheepishly suggest.
“FOOLISHNESS,” I shout again, blasting Zacharius to the ground and knocking them unconscious.
Charky cringes. “Yipes! Well, now what?” she asks, turning to Akina, but when she turns around, she realizes that Akina is no longer beside her. “Angel?” She scans the area and suddenly brings her eyes up, spotting Akina slowly, shakily, but surly flying my direction. “(Gasp) Angel!”
Akina’s wings sparkle white as they beat against the wind that picks up, and as the snow starts up again, a golden halo forms over his head.
I can feel his terrible, off-putting energy—that energy I hate. Oh, how I hate that energy. It clashes with my powers so. I may only wish to rip the man apart all the more. That is what I desire. But something strange and remote within me is turning its attention to him as if it is calling out to Akina or expecting him; as if it is desperately awaiting the message he brings. If only I could rip that part of me out.
Akina is now in front of me as the weakened Light Mages slowly come down and fly towards us. His face shows a look of timid uncertainty mixed with his usual concern; the two of these things combined make him always appear more innocent and youthful. It disgusts me.
Akina stares down at his fingers, tapping them together; I pull back my scythe to strike him down, quickly growing tired of his presence; but before I attack, Akina redirects his eyes to me and begins to speak.
“Kali, I know you hate Vishnu, and Vishnu, I know you’re afraid to get rough with Kali; you are the embodiment of kindness, like me, and you only want to help, not harm; but it’s time for Kali to take a rest. Vishnu, Kali, what we need right now is Shiva. What I need…is Shiva.”
“What if I destroy you, instead,” I propose.
Akina groans and grips his hands tight, squeezing his eyelids shut and groaning until he can’t hold back his tears and desperate plea any longer. “SHIVA, YOU HAVE TO COME BACK! COME OUT OF KALI AND CONTROL YOURSELF! YOU’RE SCARING ME, AND IT’S HARD TO LOVE YOU WHEN YOU ACT LIKE THIS! COME BACK, SHIVA, COME BAAAAAAAAAAACK!”
With an emotional cry, Akina is engulfed in white light that blinds me. I try to shield my eyes and fall away, but the warmth of the light grips me so that I cannot move, and the whole area is covered in this white light. From the middle of the sky to the very ground, the light stretches and blinds everyone. The wind blows in a furious torrent, lashing Akina’s delicate, wispy white hair all about himself. The tears that fall from his eyes burn up into steam as they fall on his cheeks, and a light-blue sun symbol stretches itself out under his feet.
The people below are overwhelmed by this light. The Bladeers are strangely comforted by its warmth and the Light Mages I purged regain their natural vigor; the Avalonians from above are sent back and scattered, strangely enough; and I… I am hit with a sudden feeling—this strange warmth that wraps around my body, and once I feel it, I fall away, loosing conscience and floating in place before Akina, being covered in darkness.
Akina sniffles and holds back pained groans, feeling the heat on his own body. As his tears fall yet again, a finger softly grazes across his cheek beneath his eye, drying his tears. Akina gasps and opens his eyes. Before him is a golden-eyed, silver-haired entity he does not recognize, but he makes a guess, well enough.
“Vishnu?” he quietly asks, appalled.
“Thank you, Akina, for reawakening me,” I whisper back.
The blinding light fades from the sky and ground, and once again, everyone is able to see.
“There,” one of the Avalonians shout. “There he is! Get him!”
I turn directly towards the Avalonian army darting towards me. With a stern gaze, I draw a circle in the sky. “Celestial Shield.” I cast a wide-spread energy shield into the air, stopping the Avalonians cold when they fly right into it. I then turn back to Akina. “Tell Zacharius to continue leading the Bladeers to Gambrolhiem; I’ll hold off the Avalonians.”
“A-are you sure you’ll be okay, though,” Akina questions.
I gaze at him with a calm but stern look. “Quite. Now, hurry before my energy drains to naught; I’ve never done a 180-degree transformation before, and I fear that I will not have enough power to hold for long. So don’t stall on my account,” I tell him before flapping my wings and inching closer. I gently take hold of Akina in hopes to reassure him.
Akina is thunderstruck with blushing cheeks and needy eyes, wishing he had just a moment more to spare with me, but I release him and retract from him.
I turn back around, glancing over my shoulder at him. “Don’t worry about me, but do stay safe…Akina.”
In a daze, Akina flies back towards Zacharius and relays the message given him. Zacharius, in turn, leads the Bladeers out of harm’s way and straight for Gambrolhiem. And I stay behind to fight until I haven’t fight left in me…
“Captain Ulbritch,” the soldier reports, “everyone has settled in for the night.”
“Good work, Lieutenant Kase,” Zacharius replies in their strong, German accent and with a confident nod. “You may retire for the night, then.”
“What about you? Will you be going to bed, sir?”
“In good timing, yes. Good night, Kase.”
“Good night, sir.” Kase turns around and heads back to the inn, resigning for the night and getting herself a good night’s sleep.
As Zacharius stands at the doorway to the inn, they spot something like a falling star streak across the sky and hit the ground, not too far from there. “Hmm,” Zach utters, spreading their wings and taking off towards the crash site.
Forty-five minutes later, Zacharius enters the inn, joining Charkamorah and Akina in a room, carrying me over their shoulder; and I’m barely conscious, having regained my normal form but lost every ounce of energy to even speak.
“Shiva!” the two gasp, jumping up and making themselves busy at once. Charky goes to get a bed ready for me and Akina gathers up supplies to nurse my wounds.
After taking care of my wounds and getting me in bed, Aries and Charky left out the bedroom, but Akina remained close by. I don’t know how long he was there, but from the time they started cleaning me up ‘til now, I think I might’ve blacked out. I just can’t recall anything and I’m just waking up, seeing Akina across the room on a separate bed.
“Shiva, are you well?” he asks, getting up and coming over to me.
“I assume so,” I reply, rubbing my bandaged head and sitting up. “What happened,” I ask in honest confusion.
Akina sits down on the edge of the bed and explains. “Well, first you transformed into Kali after the Avalonians showed up to Purge the Bladeers, and then you transformed into Vishnu, holding them off until we escaped. Do—do you not remember, Shiva?”
I shake my head. “Nuh-uhn.”
Akina makes an awkward expression as he questions me again. “You don’t remember anything?”
“None of it,” I answer, slowly growing curious to know just what all I did, myself.
“You don’t remember almost wiping out the Avalonian race? Or facing off against Valkyrie? Or…even…when I said I…”
“You what,” I push to know.
Akina’s eyes suddenly look lifeless or horrified, but they quickly turn to a look of bitterness and agony. “Nothing,” he sort of snaps, sliding off the bed and heading towards the door. “Have a good sleep.” He slaps the light off and closes the door behind himself, and I can only wonder what makes that kid so emotional, sometimes…
(Story 5 Ending)
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