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Cathak Lodaris swept his paired daiklaves above his head, somersaulting through the air. Flames twined around him, and his body shifted and flowed, heat shimmers rippling through the air. He brought both swords down on a brine cur, and fire radiated out from the point of impact, passing cleanly through the assembled monsters nearby. A second strike, and a second ripple, and eleven of the creatures collapsed into the dark water.
â€œGood thing heâ€™s on our side.â€ Khory brought his hammer around, slamming it into a froglike elemental, which spattered into drops of dew only to reform. Elena stepped forwards, stabbing into it, and it dissolved a second time.
â€œIs he?â€ Kieran grunted, slashing into another cur, and then spinning to avoid an outstretched claw. â€œHeâ€™s decided thereâ€™s a bigger threat. Weâ€™ll see where we stand after this.â€ He ducked under a sirenâ€™s raking claw, and stabbed forwards. â€œWe can worry about that later.â€
â€œGet to the Yasal!â€ On the far right, Sirrim had engaged with the Crocodile Lord, and the two were wrestling across the ground and the water. The Lunar had grown slim gills, and as they surfaced he shouted again, his claws attempting to lever the godâ€™s mouth open. â€œBreak it open!â€
â€œRight!â€ Kieran started trying to fight his way forwards, but the spirits arrayed against him, and he found himself forced back. He raised his sword, fending off stabs, stings, and bites, his allies forced backwards beside him.
The world filled with white, and dozens of ribbons slashed across the enemy. Nia stepped into the gap, raising a hand to wave before returning to the fight. â€œFly!â€ Her fear forgotten, she focused on the fight, and was soon surrounded by a whirlwind of ivory strands.
Elena and Kieran looked at each other for a moment, and nodded. Elena grabbed Kieran and lifted off, flying across the cavern. Within moments, a dozen sirens had shifted direction, arrowing towards the pair. Kieran let Essence flow through him, slicing downwards at one siren before somersaulting over Elena, slashing through the aira, and then letting himself fall back into her arms in time to block a strike from a third. He cursed under his breath. â€œFast little monsters.â€
On the surface, the battle was going poorly. Lodaris continued to battle, but his Essence was nearly spent, and though he seemed to have almost single-handedly removed the brine hounds as a threat, he was being forced to keep moving, under siege from dozens of tiny piranha spirits and water snakes. His anima lashed out, incinerating every creature that struck him, but some lasted long enough to strike true, and blood peppered the water around him.
Sirrim, for his part, was doing better, but he was facing a powerful god, and the two continued their brutal fight. While Sirrim had taken fewer wounds, Kieran didnâ€™t think he would be able to stop the Lord before the others were overwhelmed.
Nia and Khory were back to back, surrounded by the remnants of the guardian sirens and nymphs. They, too, were faltering, and Kieran knew that time was running out. He batted aside another siren, as Elena swung him wide to fly around a fifth, and nodded. â€œNow!â€
Elena let go, and Kieran sailed downwards towards the crystal. He called upon all of his Essence, and wings of golden light spread outwards, before twisting tight around him as he became like a falling sun, the light filling the cavern. For a fraction of a second, everything stopped, as the entire cavern paused to stare at the glory falling through the air.
The moment ended with Ghoumashâ€™s scream, a wordless howl of rage and fear. But by then, the damage was done. Before anything could intercept him, Kieran brought all of his power down, focusing it into the crystal before him. His sword directly below him, he poured Essence into the blow, and the sound of the strike echoed through the chamber. Stunned by the impact, Kieran fell backwards, rolling to his feet and staring up at the crystalâ€¦ which remained intact.
Ghoumashâ€™s cry turned to a harsh laugh, and she began to return her attention to the Lunar that was industriously clawing at her. But her laughter barely had time to start before it died away, swallowed by the loud cracking sounds that began to echo through the chamber.
The crystal fractured, splinteredâ€¦ and shattered. The elementals broke off their assault as wind filled the cavern, battering them as it roared with anger at its imprisonment and joy at its freedom. Ghoumash cried out and began to fade, only to be jerked back into the world as Sirrim let a lash of silver Essence flow from him to her.
The winds took shape, a faint bearlike being that was the colour of deep ice. His words were the roar of the northern storm, and he looked around the cavern, his great jaw curving into a grin. With one paw he lashed out, carving Ghoumashâ€™s head from her shoulders in a single, brutal sweep, before turning his attention on the awed mortals and Exalts.
â€œI HAVE BEEN WAITING MONTHS TO DO THAT.â€