Unto the Gates of Poazach Ch. 02byTivanosa©
Hello all, this is the second installment in my short story trilogy, which is just one of the infinite tales from my fantasy universe. Someone recently noted that the characters behaved more like demigods than humans, and this is appropriate as the characters are of a very powerful race, very ancient and magical. I think this semi-divine appellation is insightful, and congrats to the one who picked up on that :) Votes and comments greatly appreciated.
The Approach to Poazach
Looking into the forest was like peering into the depths of hell. Cataclysmic was the ruination cast upon it, darkness tainting its sanctity beyond all mortal hope. Never had something so pure been corrupted so thoroughly, for what once was fair now stood as foul, what once was order had turned to chaos, and what once was beauty had become monstrosity. The limbs of the trees were withered shells of their former majesty, the greenery shriveled and blackened, and once tight vines now hanged limply around the decaying boughs and branches. Haunting and eerie, it was an abode of the damned, a place of lost hopes and shattered dreams, forsaken by the powers that had made it grand, and given over to evil.
The canopy was so thick that darkness persisted even on the brightest day. The ground was littered with the gore and viscera of fallen warriors. The rivers were filled to the brink with the blood of an unstoppable holocaust, and all around there lay the heavy stench of slaughter in the air. So tremendous was the misfortune of the woods, that its roads served now as highways of necromancy, ferrying demons back and fourth between mass graves, where would they sort through the organs and limbs for food, fuel, and magical experiments of a kind so wicked that they cannot be described. Indeed, that was the fate of the forest, to house those evil wretches, the conquerers who feasted daily upon rotting meats. This was their territory now, bought with the blood of the innocent and the virtuous.
The day of the invasion had been like any other. Such were the way of things in war, where great calamities could pass as if they were nothing, aught but standard fare for a world bathed in conflict. One moment, there was peace and there was light, the happy Nymph-like inhabitants tending their trees and plying their magic. The next, a horde of demons had appeared, smashing the defenders and smiting the towers, their onslaught more terrible than could be resisted. In another, it was over, the blight had begun to spread, causing all thusfar described, and at its center stood the fortress of Poazach'Ugraaldin, pumping that very sickness into the air and the ground.
Hideous yet practical was the design of Poazach, a fortress both wretched and efficient, monstrous and sensible, a place where could the wicked revel in their darkness, whilst retaining a sense of proper order. Thus was lent to them their most dangerous quality, for it was in that intelligence that they found their greatest strength. Long ago, demons had been aught but rutting beasts, dangerous in their own fashion, yet imbeciles easily mastered. Now had they been led into an age where could they rise above their rage-driven emotions, working together to achieve a greater evil. Such was that which Poazach symbolised, and verily by the speed of its construction and formidableness of its design did it prove this.
So it was that Tivanosa Evangelista, the Heiress to the Light, arrived upon the boundaries of the woods, peering into those twisting depths, her rage growing fiercely as she beheld the destruction wrought within them. Fire brooded in every recess of her mind, magic drawing fourth and flowing furiously through her blood, the powers arcane rising to the surface of her conscious control, ready to be unleashed in a torrent of suicidal wrath. She was ready. She was prepared. Now, all that was left was to wage war against an injustice which she could no longer suffer; too long had the fortress of Poazach persisted, and now that her cries had gone unheeded, it was left to her alone to scourge the woods of its evil presence.
"Go, head for safety;" Tivanosa said, beckoning softly toward her mighty steed. "You shall find none here. This day do I purpose upon many things, to assault my enemies with the fullness of my wrath, to empty the vessel of holy vengeance upon them, to let flow the manifestation of my discontent, but not to return." The steed looked mournfully upon her Mistress, as if considering some great sadness, and then turned around and bounded away into the distance. Then at last was the Heiress alone, and with her power marshaled and fury brought to the fore, so did she enter the woods of Adair.
Tivanosa set a steady pace on foot, walking quickly, though not hurriedly, her demeanour confident and fearless. Never had terror plagued her, nor doubt gnawed at her resolve, for it was in mistrust of the self that real tragedy was wrought. This had she learned and learned well, the harsh lessons of a life of conflict, an existence of battle, an upbringing of war. No, she believed in herself more than anything, even the very Gods themselves, and so, upon this very suicidal endeavour, still did failure seem incomprehensible. Great was the fastness of Poazach, a fortress of superior design and quality. Tremendous was the power of its watchtowers, so charged with magic and death. Thorough was the corruption of its stones, so terrifying and so black, and formidable was the power of her adversaries, dangerous against an army one-thousand strong. But despite knowing this, having heard the council of countless lords, having heeded the warnings of innumerable pleas, still did failure seem incomprehensible. It was not for an underestimation of Poazach, or the strength of its hordes, but for that very belief in self; so it was from within, knowing what depths of potential lay within her being, that Tivanosa remained confident against immeasurable odds.
That power was the stuff of nightmares. It was the only thing she truly feared. It was an untapped, unexplored, uncharted territory for which there was no known limit. Ever had she probed the depths of her magic, theorising and wondering, desiring to go further than ever before. But she had always reproached herself, using only what was necessary as the situation presented. After all, this was a time of war, a time to fight the good fight, not to go off gallivanting in laboratories, studying esoteric lore and casting obscure spells. However, today, standing within the woods of Adair, standing alone against an enemy so great, so did she withdraw the charity of her limitation, letting loose the bonds that bound her as mortal. Never had she discovered the limits of her power, but this day, this dark and gloomy day, so black and wrathful and filled with doom, she would find the answer to that question, and face the only thing she had ever feared: herself.
Tivanosa walked in the shadows of the twisted boughs, upon the highways of death, watching as great hordes of demons passed in the distance, their presence befouling further what once had been glistening roadways and sparkling streets. But hope sprung anew wherever she passed, for in her presence, so was the dirt was swept aside, the streets scrubbed clean, flowers, grass and trees grew, as lush and verdant as those of a divine paradise. Suddenly, a path of renewal swept the forest, withered vines growing strong and green once more, wrapping tightly around the trees, sickened animals recovered, becoming again fair and happy, and even high above did the canopy repair, allowing to shine the radiance of the sun. This was no conscious magic of the Heiress, no intentional or designed healing, it was merely the power of her virtue radiating outward, afflicting and assaulting evil.
And so it came to pass that the forest repaired all around Tivanosa, upon whom the light shined, giving colour to the flowers and the grass, and the demonic hordes, who harboured only hate and malice for such things, were turned quickly to the sight of the disturbance, and spotted easily the object of their fury, setting out at once to smite her. It was aught but a small patrol that had seen her, a force of twenty-five demons, armed with powerful spells, thick, obsidian armour, and swords that could slice through most anything. Tivanosa was not ignorant of their coming, or of the arrogance of their disposition, thinking she was but a lost sorceress, easily defeated without the need of aid or reinforcement. Indeed, she smiled at their approach, seeing them rush furiously along the blighted highways, watching them zig-zag through the intersections and the streets, their wretched forms having replaced the numerous vehicles that had once filled them.
Within moments had the patrol reached the Heiress, throwing fiery magic as they charged, their howls terrible and concordant with the nature of demons. That gruesome wailing sufficed to alert the entire forest, the horrible sound echoing all the way unto Poazach. In an instant, Tivanosa knew that the fortress was aware, and sensed the emptying of its hordes against her. This was what she had come for, this was her purpose; now it was that the full force of Poazach had been unleashed. Focusing deeply, Tivanosa called fourth her energy, manifesting the power that she felt within. Thus did erupt silver flames from her eyes, and a white shroud surrounded her, its form a nimbus of swirling energies which buzzed around in orbit.
Thus crashed the fire of the enemy against the Heiress, their power failing before her might. Onward did the demons charge, however, prepared to do with sword and spear what magic could not. Closer and closer they drew, her shining white form growing larger in their vision, and then, suddenly, they stopped, broke down upon their knees and wept. At last, they knew that they were defeated, for the demons beheld with who they had made their quarry, and their fear carried them into a debilitating despair from which they never recovered. Swift and powerful was the wrath of Tivanosa Evangelista, who swept her hand across their path, a wave of invisible force smashing into them and tearing them apart, their limbs exploding into exploding chunks that exploded and exploded again. Now, despite the coming of the hordes against her, the forest was quiet once more, the ground covered in the tiny specs of flesh and blood that survived her onslaught.
The silence was fleeting, a brief peace before the renewed raging of the storm. But the hordes were yet far away, and so Tivanosa moved to close the distance. Once more, traveling confidently upon the road, she cast her perceptions unto the walls of Poazach, peering into its empty barracks and spying its under-manned defenses; ripe for the picking, as it were. The power that Tivanosa had touched thusfar was but a pittance of her conscious capability, the short blast barely whetting her appetite for the knowledge of the self, and the desire for slaughter of the wicked. Soon would come the other defilers of the woods, the devils responsible for it all, and when they met her, when they engaged her in the thickness of battle, so would she be forced to smite with a greater and deeper fury than ever before.
Slowly, as she marched, Tivanosa withdrew her great-sword, Akavare, its slender and enduring length an eternal flame, silver and raging in the shape of a blade. She held it at her right side, gripping the platinum hilt tightly, its power illuminating the surrounding woods. So were given the demons a constant and definite beacon, and with it tracked her half way to Poazach, upon a road which ran up a great hill onto higher terrain. There did they lay in wait, several thousand surrounding the hill from every angle, using dark magic to conceal their presence. But Tivanosa was not so easily fooled by such paltry magic, yet walked fearlessly into the trap, spying the hordes which surrounded her.
"Reveal yourselves, demons of Poazach," Tivanosa boomed, her voice sounding with a god-like resonance "and face your doom."
"You tresspass upon territory of the Kastya Vervata. Turn back now, or be destroyed." An unseen voice bellowed.
"Reveal yourselves and be destroyed. There is no escape, no other way. Your arrogance is as strong a cage as any, for it shall bind you here, fearless of battle, even if you should guess my identity."
"We know who you are," the voice came again. "and fear not the Evangelistan. You are but one, and hopelessly outclassed, for we have in our number many Advaras, strongest of our brethren and greatest of the wielders of magic."
"There are no greater magisters than the Lorun'Seyvannas," Tivanosa corrected.
"Poorly is that proven by your success in these late and darkened days," the demonic speaker sneered.
"No poorer than the Advaras that I smote with a single motion, my wrath vapourising them beyond all hope of recognition. Perhaps you breathe their remains even as we speak; so thoroughly were they destroyed, those who wept before me in abject despair. Are those, Ughbaal and Graz'Urden, Fer'Zuhl and Markarden, the great magisters which you so valiantly trumpet?" Tivanosa boomed, tall and terrible her bantering manner.
Disgruntled noises erupted all around the Heiress, moans and cries from the surrounding horde, harsh whispers of grievance for the loss of their honoured friends. "What is this? Oh my, how very cute indeed...You wretched creatures actually care for one another; the fodder which I dispatched were once your comrades? Well, well well...how terribly unfortunate to lose such 'fine' men," Tivanosa mocked. "But I too have lost friends. I too have suffered the unjust wounds of hatred and malice, and felt the effects of darkness upon the land. Even in the utter youth of my being, so had I come to know the people of Adair, who were to me as your comrades were to you."
"This is war!" the demonic voice rang again. "and we are the Kastya Vervata, Lords of Life and Death! Do not scold us for our actions, wicked though they may be, for they are our very nature; we live to destroy your kind, to bathe in the blood of Lorun, and to turn Astari into a dominion of corruption and despair!"
"But scold you I shall, for so have you committed an atrocity more dastardly than I could have ever conceived. Wicked you are indeed, but that does not excuse you from retribution, nor exempt you from the forces of holy wrath! You know who I am, and you know what I have come to do. Tales of my power are legendary, and it is no idle rumour that I surpass the singular might of even your Dark Lord! I am the herald of your undoing, of the destruction of Poazach and the personal servitor of your individual deaths! You have slaughtered the defenseless, usurped their land and murdered an entire people!"
"One last chance, Evangelistan! Leave, or perish at our hand. No regret do we harbour for the genocide of your people; such despicable actions are the wont of our kind!" the demon spoke one last time.
"FOOLS!" Tivanosa boomed, her voice resonating like a shockwave across the land. "Could not you see this coming? What did you think would happen? What did your masters tell you? Did they tempt you with tales of a virgin land, untouched by the hands of evil, of a clean-sweep, a glorious slaughter of the virtuous, completely without defence or retribution by the armies of Astari, beleaguered on a thousand other fronts? Is that the deceit spouted by the moronic masters to whom you owe allegiance? No doubt. But I have come to Astari to turn the tide, to fight where no others will fight, to do what no others can do, to be as no others can be. It is this day, this cold and bitter day, so dark and wrathful and filled with doom, that I stand before you with fury in one hand and divinity in the other, with virtue clad upon my chest, and justice encasing my legs, with pauldrons of might and greaves of terror, and the sword of enduring light; Akavare!" Tivanosa held Akavare up above her, holding it perfectly still. "I say that from this day, evil under the Kastya Vervata shall know no victory, that evil shall falter and wither unto the utter ending of its power, and that I shall mark this turning with the destruction of all who stand before me, right here, right now. From this day forward, no evil goes unpunished! Meet now the peril that has long been owed you!"
At once, Tivanosa released an arc of lightning, the bolt sizzling out from the tip of her sword. Slicing into a string of the enemy, so were the first row destroyed, a ring of ash all around, scattering in the air as was cast aside the demonic camouflage. Surprised by the force of her own power, Tivanosa stared in wonderment at her sword. Then, feeling the rush of success, the pure flow of magic within her, thus did she yell "Yes, YES!"
Rage now flooded the Heiress, empowering her through its intensity. The nimbus swirled around and around, bathing her in power, immersing her in magic, and engulfing her in the fires of righteous wrath. So did Tivanosa stand tall against the horde as they charged to intercept. Verily did she hold no fear, for she perceived the utter weakness of the enemy, of their crude forms, weak bodies and frail spirits; they seemed as ants to a titan: insignificant.
Suddenly, in the midst of the charge, the battlefield exploded into light, arcane missiles issuing from the palms countless demons. Spitting and sizzling as they flew towards the Heiress, so were they followed by the wailing rush of their masters. Terrible were the war-cries of those foul wretches, but awesome was the fury of the Evangelistan, who beheld cleverly an opportunity for high slaughter. Thus did she cast her power about in all directions, grasping control of the hurtling bolts, taking that hail of fire and ice into her command. Like a spinning, circular blade, ready to grind into the incoming thrall, so did the magic surround Tivanosa. At once, the demons beheld the folly of their arrogance, and the threat of the power leveled against them. Thus did they purpose to stop, desperately seeking to avoid the ring of highly-charged death. But alas, to their total ruin and complete stupidity, the forces of inertia worked against them, for so did the weight of their own, monstrous forms, coupled with the tenacious strength of those behind them, force the first three rows into the grinder.
Quickly did the ring of magic dissipate, having sawed through many of the demons and expended its energy. In the aftermath of that carnage, so was Tivanosa advantaged, for it was that she held firm her composure, standing ready to strike again with new spells. Meanwhile, the demons sought desperately to regain their bearings, running from the Heiress in a frenzied attempt to regroup and retaliate. Thus did Tivanosa strike amidst their confusion, pushing both her hands forward and releasing an arc of blinding light. Surging outwards, it crashed into one of them, incinerating it an instant, the power so great that it blinded all of the wicked that looked upon it. Then did the destructive power leap toward all of the adjacent foes. Vapourising them in a chain reaction, so were the demons smote. Soon, nothing remained but ash and ruin, and, without pause, without giving significance to the demonic resistance, Tivanosa brushed herself off, pondering the power she had unleashed, all the while striding ever closer unto the Gates of Poazach.
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