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Nizkateth
Essence 8
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Title: That Thing
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Crossroads Short Story #2

12 Mar 2010, 16:52

Keira, The Demigod of War vs. Talon, The Living Weapon
A Sundown Showdown

Nexus, the greatest and most foul city of commerce in all the East, perhaps Creation. Built upon the hillside slope protecting a small harbor, the city ranges from glorious architecture of magically shaped stone to rat-infested slums forever cloaked in a haze of soot and the stench of offal. It is said that if one travels one inevitably passes through Nexus at some point. That was certainly true, one summer evening, of two warriors from worlds far removed.

As the Unconquered Sun set slowly beyond the West, the two figures faced each other upon the roof of a guild warehouse. Orange light filled the sky, bathing the city in the golden hues of twilight. One warrior stood proudly. Her armor of overlapping metal scales glimmered in the fading day’s light. A breeze whipped the traveler’s cloak she wore, clasped with a golden brooch. In her hand was a gleaming steel sword that rumbled through the air when swung. Her scarred, tan features and short-cut brown hair spoke of a life of battle. Keira, known in her homeland as the ascending Goddess of War, readied herself.

Across the building’s roof stood the other warrior. She giggled lightly to herself, with a slightly hunched posture. The woman wore ragged jeans and a half-torn tee-shirt that had each seen dozens of battles and fared more poorly than their owner. Her purple hair, though clearly unkempt, fell long down her back and fluttered wildly in the evening wind. A pair of red-iris eyes glared with a combination of menace and delight at the opposition. Talon, a super-criminal of horrible reputation in a distant world, never seemed to stop moving even when she was standing still.

“Surrender now fiend!” Keira called out in an authoritative tone. “I give you this one chance to walk away, else this battle will be but one more step toward my ascension!” She raised her sword overhead, and a peal of thunder shook the skies over Nexus.

“Aha...” Talon stopped moving momentarily, “...ahahaha...” her body then contorted from her laughter, arms splayed wide, “...hahahahahahaaaaaaaaa!” From the tip of each finger suddenly grew six-inch claws of barbed bone. Talon pursed her lips in a mock kiss and rushed forward.

“So be it!” With a fierce battle cry, Keira charged across the roof toward Talon. As she ran she began to whip her sword around herself in quick arcs that rumbled like a distant storm. Talon screeched out in wicked laughter. In the moment they drew close both lashed out. Keira’s sword swung for Talon’s waist even as Talon leapt up over the armored warrior. Razor-edged claws struck downward toward Keira as Talon flipped herself overhead. Moving with practiced ease, Keira swatted the blows aside with her blade. Then, all the might of her frame behind it, Keira stabbed straight upward.

The edge of the sword caught Talon across the left shoulder and upper arm, inverted overhead as she was. Her laughter did not stop despite the trickle of blood down her arm when she landed. Like wet clay melting under the flow of water, Talon’s flesh flowed back into a pristine state as though the wound had never occurred.

“Bitch...” Talon giggled, though she drew out the sound of the ‘I’. Keira spun on her heel to face the suddenly unwounded woman. “...I can do that too you know.” Talon shrieked and threw herself at Keira in a frenzy of claws. Half the blows were diverted by blocks of the sword or scrapped of the scale armor without harm. However, several blows struck true.

Undaunted, Keira struck out with her sword reflexively amidst the fury, catching Talon across the face. After a split-second of unleashed rage, Keira stumbled back a step with fresh blood oozing down from her left side and brow. Talon was hurled back several feet by the slash but kept her footing and licked some of her own blood off her face before the wound closed itself.

Taking the initiative, Keira closed the distance in one leaping step. Her sword lashed out dozens of times, leaving several small cuts on her foe, before driving the tip of her sword into Talon’s stomach. As the blade sank in, Keira balled her free hand into a fist and smashed the gauntleted limb into the impaled woman’s face. Talon was hurled back and off the blade. She careened through the air and off the side of the warehouse.

Knowing she must keep the pressure up on such a foe, Keira ran toward the edge of the building. She slowed as she drew near, and kept her weapon at the ready. “Two can play at that, wench!” Talon’s voice came up over the side of the warehouse. Keira looked down just in time to see her foe clinging to the outer wall of the structure. The purple-haired woman reached up and grabbed Keira’s leg with one clawed hand. With incredible strength she pulled the armored woman from her feet and dragged her off the roof. Then, still clinging with her claws to the side of the warehouse, Talon hurled Keira over the street.

End over end, Keira spun through the air before smashing through the crude stone masonry of a neighboring house. Landing face down, Keira coughed in the settling stone dust. She slowly got back to her feet and looked around. Two locals in the room were staring at her in clear surprise mid-way through eating a dinner of sickly looking rice and fish. “Get back...” Keira coughed as a warning toward them. A moment later Talon came leaping through the broken wall claws-first.

A swift counterattack from Keira slashed Talon upward diagonally across the chest before the frenzied woman could land a blow. It was not enough however, and Talon unleashed her rage once more on the Demigod. Each blow struck the still-dazed Keira with crushing force and shredding brutality. Blood ran freely from the Demigod’s many wounds, but still she did not give up.

Rising and lunging at the same time, Keira drove her shoulder into the gut of the once again unwounded Talon. The two warriors went back out through the broken wall and fell together into the street. Around them were uncountable merchant stands and carts full of produce and other trade goods. The street was full of the local populace, filling each street like it was its own bazaar. An opening in the crowd formed quickly around the two women. They did not part in panic however, as though they were accustomed to the clash of mighty beings in their midst.

Talon landed atop Keira and laughed in momentary victory. Her celebration was cut short when a gauntleted hand reached up and seized her by the throat. Keira's other hand brought up the pommel of her sword to smash into the side of Talon’s head, then back across in a powerful slash across the face. Keira summoned all her strength and rose to her feet, still clutching Talon by the neck.

“Enough of this!” Keira brought back her sword and focused her semi-divine will and might. One fierce thrust buried the entire blade of her sword through Talon’s chest to the hand-guard. Several feet of blood-soaked steel burst forth from the regenerator’s back. “There will be no mercy for you!” With that, Keira pulled her weapon free through Talon’s side, sending a shower of gore across the street. Talon went limp, and Keira dropped the woman at her feet.

After a few deep breaths, Keira pulled a small cloth from a pouch and slowly wiped the blood from her sword. She sighed, and looked around. The crowd was staying a good distance away, except for a few nearby merchants yelling at her for scaring their customers. Business went on as usual in Nexus, even in the face of such violence it seemed.

Keira sheathed her sword and began to take stock of her wounds. Many were quite deep, but nothing she couldn’t handle with some rest. As she checked the wounds on her abdomen and side a horrible realization came to the Demigod. There was no body at her feet. She realized her mistake but a second too late. In a flash her sword was drawn but Talon grabbed her arm from behind.

“That was close... but close doesn’t count bitch...” Talon giggled in delight, then drove the claws of her other hand through Keira’s back. The Demigod gasped in pain and tried to pull free. Talon let go of her arm, and drove her other claw into Keira’s neck. Blood gurgled up from the armored woman’s mouth. “See... this is how you do it!” Talon pulled her claws free and unleashed a savage rain of blows against the mortally wounded Keira as she fell.

Standing over the blood-drenched body of the Demigod, Talon reared back and laughed sadistically toward the sky. In the West, the Unconquered Sun finished his journey and the sky turned dark. Talon licked the blood from her claws, as the very last of her wounds finished closing. “Rest in pieces,” she chuckled, and kicked Keira’s body.

Colorless radiance sprang forth from the body of the Demigod. Its light filled the street, as though the noon sun were shining down. “Oh crap, what now?” Talon raised her claws and prepared to strike. A wave of light erupted like a shockwave from Keira, blasting Talon and most of the street off their feet. The Demigod rose to her feet. White smoke wisped from her as the wounds on her body burned away.

“I’m impressed.” Keira’s voice resounded in a timbre and volume too potent to have come from a mortal. “I’m impressed that it came to this. That you pushed me this far. Perhaps you really are a worthy step toward my ascension.” Her eyes shone with an inner flame of power. “Shall we finish this?”

Talon snarled, and sprung to her feet in an instant. She howled and laughed as she lashed out with her claws against Keira’s radiant form. Each blow landed, as the Demigod made no effort to evade them, but the wounds evaporated moments after they were formed, as though they were far too mortal to apply. Keira reared back drove the edge of her blade across Talon’s neck. A second strike fell down across the regenerator’s face. Then, she shifted her grip and drove another mighty blow through Talon’s chest.

Screaming with rage, Talon kicked at Keira even as she slashed at her with jagged claws. Keira reached out and grabbed Talon’s right arm with her left. She then hurled the purple-haired woman with an overhead swing and sent her flying through a nearby merchant stand. Several people scattered out of the way. As Talon began to rise, Keira put her sword point-first through the regenerator’s leg and into the ground.

Talon flipped herself over, twisting her leg until the flesh ripped and pulled free of the impaling sword. She looked up at Keira with red eyes that somehow still seemed to have laughter in them despite the hatred. Keira pulled her sword from the ground with one hand, and grabbed a broken wooden pole from the merchant stall with the other. “This is the end.” Keira jabbed her blade into Talon’s gut, and then quickly stabbed the wooden pole through the woman’s chest until it was embedded in the street.

Unable to keep up with the wounds, Talon shuddered for a few seconds on the two impaling weapons then fell lifeless. Keira pulled out her sword. The wounds were not closing as they had before. To be safe, she slashed open the neck of her fallen foe. Some blood oozed from the new wound, which also did not begin to heal.

“Well fought.” Keira wipe her sword clean once again, and sheathed it while keep her gaze on Talon’s body. “Somehow...” she smiled, “somehow I doubt that even death will stop you for very long. If that be so, and you seek to do battle again, I would be pleased to face you again. Until then... rest well, worthy foe.”

Keira turned from the battlefield, her inner radiance dimming until she appeared mortal once again. Within minutes she disappeared into the crowd, one face amongst many, and soon left the trade city. In the East, Luna rose into the heavens. By the time her pale light fell full upon the streets of Nexus the only sign of Talon was a broken wooden pole, and bloody footprints leading away from the market.
"There was a young lady named bright,
Who could travel much faster than light,
She went out one day,
In a relative way,
And came back the previous night."

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