|Daylightpets Birthday Part 2 |
The rugged streets that meandered Harena were called peaceful by one citizen only a month before. It was as if all fear of the unknown, of what lied in the darkest parts of the asteroid, had dissipated, leaving behind an unfamiliar glow of bliss. But the euphoria was only evanescent.
Every Harenian now stood in the plagued settlement, some fighting, others fleeing, from the infestation of Zucarrum. Veles wielded his blood-licked Scimitar, while others were armed with wooden stakes and boards that fell from the dead structures that once were the most popular places in the rebuilt city.
Veles, glancing between brutish hacks of his blade, noticed the Zucarrumwere locked in a losing fight. Whatever caused these creatures to come back from extinction had no chance against the hardy Hiekkan, who was coincidently visiting Harena on business; Brandhardt had ordered a few crates of Veles’ sharpest weapons for the old king’s impending army. Theweapons shopkeeper, no doubt, was curious of Brandhardt’s sudden want of arms, but business was business. Besides, after the peace treaty, surely the Harenian leader would not be maliciously planning against hisnew friends.
Meanwhile, above Harena, a more menacing threat loomed. A special Zucarrum nearing the size of the mystical Skyra, enveloped in an eerie, black shadow, flapped two gargantuan wings, causing the air beneath themto give out in a deep howl. Drool as thick as syrup dripped from its open mouth.
Its insatiable thirst for sugar was instantly thrown aside as it realized the fate of its offspring. The dead bodies of the smaller, darkbats were growing in number on the sandy civilization. The large creature bellowed and shook in an uncontrollable rage, then dove violently and swiftly towards the ancient settlement. The Queen was determined to protect her babies, at any cost.
It took only three seconds before the mother Zucarrum was spotted by thekeen Veles. He had just finished skewering two of the demon creatures, before he realized the terror that was about to wipe out Harena’s existence. It would take more than a fully-powered Teslar, and the strongest battler, to defeat the giant Zucarrum.
“Everyone run back, and get down!” Veles shouted at the top of his lungs. He took Syeira in one arm and threw her behind a pile of rubble. Veles arched his back, preparing for the landing.A dark shadow appeared over the shopping square in Harena, only before the Zucarrum Queen met the ground with a crash, her large feet causing the sandstone beneath to burst into dust and pebble. The sheer force of the thing, combined with the air caught beneath its wings, sent a pulsing shock through the city, causing building structures and the nearby mountain to rumble and crack.
For a short time there was silence in Harena, as its inhabitants sat in disbelief and realization that few of them would survive the night, and the creature was busy eyeing the purple blood of its babies on Veles’ clothes and scimitar. But the stillness bolted as the town was met with ahorrifying, deafening screech of the Zucarrum.
Citizens dropped their weak weapons and ran for their lives as the colossal bat charged aggressively at Veles, its every step splintering the stone beneath. Syeira was opting to stay to help, but Veles only sent her away. “At least I won’t die in vain,” he thought. But even so, he felt his body lose its undying courage, and start to shake. However, before Veles could strike the demon, he heard a voice behind him.
“No! Cassiopeia!” It was Callie, shouting in tears as she watched her old friend march toward the unconquerable beast.
Suddenly, the smooth body of a Blazing Cain shot rapidly by Veles, vigorously forcing him to fall to the side. The Cain’s ashen fur and blue flame were vaguely familiar to the weapons master. He could only remember seeing her last long ago, when the devastating disease ripped through Cruithne, killing most of its residents, and leaving others withblistering boils, bursting with yellow pus. She had aided in the defeatof Pathogen, an evil, diseased creature pent on revenge. Veles shuddered at the thought of the Pathogen, and how she almost killed all the life on Cruithne.
Sight of Cassiopeia was lost as she met the Queen Zucarrum head on, leading to an explosion unlike any other. Blue and even purple flames spewed from the collision; the Queen’s unmistakable shriek erupted in the aftermath. The force of the explosion blew an unconscious Veles through the side of Syeira’s shop.
The last of the flames flickered out, revealing an empty, charred ground. Neither the Zacurrum mother, nor Cassiopeia remained. Callie fell to her knees, sobbing.
Was it a victory? No one had time to answer, as the dark words of a sorcerer invaded their heads.
He spoke with a serpent’s whisper, calm but obviously dissatisfied with the Queen’s ending. The mage’s voice was uncomfortably loud – it rendered anyone hearing it paralyzed and wide-eyed - yet it made no audible sound. “Fools…”
Callie, in her paralyzed state, could feel a new presence within her body, slithering within her veins, scratching at her stomach. She felt glass shards ripping her insides to ribbon; she wanted to vomit, but herbody was no longer in her control.
The sorcerer continued, “As you mortals sat ignorant in your childish glee, I remained seeking knowledge and power. My creatures may have beendisemboweled, my pet engulfed in the destructive flames of Cassiopeia, but my power remains whole and untouched.
“The only forces capable of preventing darkness from swallowing Cruithneare sleeping within the highest and deepest sanctuaries of this forsaken asteroid.” The voice paused, sending another splurge of agony inside every living Cruithnean. “My friends, something is coming, an epidemic of such splendor that will steal the life from every light on this pathetic place. But for now, farewell…”
In a rush, settlers were released from the paralysis and enchantment, and the blood returned to their brains.
Callie remained on her knees, tears falling in a steady stream from her eyes. Cassiopeia, her first friend after arriving on the asteroid with her human associates years ago, had given her blast of light to save Cruithne yet again; although, it would be the last burst she would ever shed.
Cassiopeia had only given them temporary safety, however. Chaziel had returned to Cruithne, now capable of devastation greater even than the infamous disease. As a matter of fact, he sat in his temple on the dark side of Cruithne.
Having fled from his defeat at Harena, Chaziel rested on a broken throne, with a crooked staff in one hand, and the other in front of him, atop a very familiar crystal ball. He spoke in a hushed tone, at his deformed servant, Nox. “They passed the test. They have proven to be stronger than I previously thought. But Cassiopeia hasfallen, along with Agorr, and with them, hope will, too.
“Cruithne will soon fall into an inescapable pit of chaos.” Both he and Nox cackled at their plan meticulously unfolding.