Worm and Fire I

A JP by Tahjerius, LSP, and Rosmary

((Burning Indrasel Warehouse, Karavoss))

Horns watched as they fled with disinterest in his eyes as they went, before turning to the three that remained. These were the ones who had managed to disrupt Ponce's operation. That meant they had to die, but he would test their spirit nevertheless. Horns seemed to know well what he needed to do, as he craned and twisted his neck, as he craned and twisted his neck, cracking his knuckles, before unveiling his slim carbon greataxe, the design of it unlike anything the three had ever seen.

He held it loosely, letting it hang to one side.

“Come!” he spoke, his voice booming, challengingly, even amidst the roaring fire. “Show me your strength!”

There was a moment of nervousness, but then Kalena’s accustomed resolve and confidence shone in her eyes and she assumed a graceful fighting stance. “I’ll show you…”

V glanced at Lafayette. “Well... we traded an army for a terrifying demon to fight, so this isn’t much better…” he grumbled, his weapons at the ready as certain death personified stared them in the eyes.

“Nonsense!” Lafayette said, flashing a never-say-die smile and slapping V on the ass. “We’ve killed bigger.”

Horns began a gentle sway of his axe, before effortlessly swinging it up, gripping it with his other hand. Though light and somewhat dainty looking, the axe made up in length what it lacked in bulk. The design was impossibly seamless, holes rested wherever the slick black material seemed in excess; it all screamed efficiency.

"So what's the plan, guys?" V said, beginning to sweat a little due to the heat.

"We fight…" Kalena simply said, gripping her mythril-edged sabre like she had a grudge.

"-and when we see an opening, we get the hell out of here," Lafayette finished, casting the ex-assassin a small glance.

"Right… so fight… then we escape when we get the chance… alright…"

The young elf had conquered many great foes under his father's tutelage, but it was obvious that what he faced now was nothing like his trials prior. Eyes wincing as the heat licked at his cheeks, he heard a voice through the flames.

"You're one of us now V. And we don't die. We'll get out of this."

Kalena had enough determination for the three of them, and the elf did his best to soak up what he could.

V steadied his breaths, raising his two blades, and prepared for battle with the stoniest look he could manage.

Horns took a steady step forward, inhaling as he did, and all knew what would come next. But Horns was no simple brute. He exhaled, bellowing forth a great flame, and exploded into it with his back foot. Using the scorching flame as a cover, Horns took a strong step to appear out of the fire, axe at the ready.

The three dived from the flames, and as they did, Horns picked out the one closest.

'The elf!'

He swiped, and V's eyes widened as he instinctively lurched backward. The blade caught his cuirass, ripping across it, and a horrid sound of metal on metal echoed through the room.

"Godsdamn it!" V exclaimed, falling onto his ass as the hellish combatant pursued. To be so tall, he was incredibly fast, and the other two found themselves off balance while the axe-wielding man-like monster was still on the offensive. Nearly lighting quick, he brought his axe up and slammed it down, swinging it with some poise and grace like one would a bo staff. V, wide eyed, skittered backwards on his palms and heels and the axe came down again and again, inches away from separating parts of him from each other. Each time the axe came down, Horns used the bounce to bring it back up even faster, and he may have caught the swarthy elf were it not for the timely toss of one of Lafayette's concussion bombs. With a powerful and deafening boom, the Tor reeled, finding that the explosive was very efficiently disorienting. He inhaled as he stumbled, letting free a wild spray of flame, which hit no one but did well to keep the heroes apart.

Lafayette clutched another concussion bomb with a grin on his face, "Don't like that, do you? You big, ugly, bâtard!"

Horns looked back at French-sounding man fiercely until noticing one of them was gone. The woman had vanished. That realisation came just as he felt the rush of air presaging her sneak attack.
Lafayette and Kalena had fought countless times together against countless foes. They had come to perfectly know how each other mentally thought and physically moved. So whilst the miniature bomb detonated and Lafayette shouted a distracting taunt, Kalena had darted out of Horns's momentarily disrupted line of vision and swiftly closed in on him from the side with the blinding speed and lethal grace of a jungle cat.
Horns twisted out of the way of the slender sabre faster than someone his size had any right to move, quickly bringing his carbon greataxe around to parry the mithril-edged blade, but Kalena had chosen to attack him on the opposite side of which he held the strange looking weapon so that it would take him just a second longer to bring it into play. A second too late to prevent her blade from slicing a furrow through his arm and drawing blood.
Scowling, Kalena was far from pleased by the meagre feat she'd risked her life to accomplish, having been going for his throat. Instantly dropping low to avoid the black blur of his responding axe, she unleashed a vicious flurry of rapid stabs at his abdomen and legs in the infinitesimal time before the axe swung back again, at which point without a split second to spare, she threw herself off to the side, deftly flinging a knife back at him even as she did so.
Horns masterfully stopped his axe in mid-swing and swept it backward in time to deflect the thrown knife...
... only for Lafayette's second concussive bomb to blow him off his feet just as Kalena tumbled clear of the grenade's blast radius.

Horns let out a growl as he found himself toppled over. He could feel his wounds from earlier reopening, which did him no favors, but his mind had over the years been well accustomed to pain. He began to hoist himself up with his axe, and that was when he saw the elf lunging at him, blades bared like the fangs of a tiger. With a snarl, Horns reached out, grabbing his swarthy attacker in mid-air, and with a swing of his long arm, he sent him flying off course, crashing into some boxes that had not yet caught flame.

Horns stood tall, gripping his axe with a single hand, and he found he was beginning to slip unto his old battle rage. Kalena engaged once more, skirting around opposite of the side V had landed on, Horns tracked her as she moved, but just as his back turned, he heard the tell-tale sound of something whizzing through the air, and turned around, catching one of the French-sounding man's bombs. With a strong whip of his arm, he sent the bomb crashing down at Kalena's feet. She reacted quickly, but not quickly enough, tumbling backwards into an awkward roll. She had little time to recover, as the brute was on her yet again, with a leap he closed the distance between them, pivoting on the landing and sweeping with his axe so that it scraped the tiled floor. Kalena leaped from the ground in a cat-like hop, before pushing herself up to her feet. Horns pressed still, using the momentum from his last swing to come around again at her. She leaned far back to evade, and when he stopped the axe, coming at her with an upward swing, she leaped back into a back handspring, launching herself to safety in an expertly acrobatic move. Horns wasn't done though, and it was soon becoming clear that his perseverance knew no bounds. He spun, and as he did he saw the red-haired man sprinting his way, unfurling a full sword from what appeared to be a blade-less handle. Lafayette came with a gallant thrust, but Horns continued his spin so that his side faced his attacker, and the blade harmlessly slid off of his shoulder. And then he felt a chill on his neck as a presence moved behind him. Completing his full spin, all of the momentum he had built up coming with him, he turned to see the ex-assasin thrust her blade at his throat. No time to possibly counter with his axe, Horns gritted his teeth and gripped the blade, wincing as the mythril edge sliced into his fingers. He let out a growl, pulling the blade away from his face, and as he did he swept his axe about. As it flew Kalena turned, but she was off-balance from being pulled with her blade. She had no time. However, by some stroke of luck, the axe blade extended out too far to slice her. Instead, it was the carbon pole that slammed into her, sending her promptly flying. She hit the ground, skidding to a stop. Mind still in the battle, she made to stand, only for intense pain to course through her. It was so intense at first that it was hard to think, but she eventually managed to pinpoint where the pain originated, her arm. She looked to it, and the awkward bend to it told the tale; it was broken.

"My a-arm!" She groaned, having not yet found the strength to rise.

Horns turned to her, having watched her tumble away. He had intended to split the woman in half, but reached too far, resulting in a less than fatal injury. Something he would quickly correct. The red headed bomb-thrower pulled from his effects knives, these laced with a special type of poison intended to cause paralysis. He flung them at Horns whilst running around him to get to Kalena, and the Tor was too focused on the injured woman to react accordingly. With a grunt, Horns launched himself into a sprint, easily beating out Lafayette in speed, And came at the downed Kalena with fury, raising his axe high with the intention of bringing it down upon her with everything he had.

Kalena saw this, and with a shout of effort made to stand, or move, or roll, or something! But she lacked the strength, the pain was too much! She looked up, the blade but a blackened blur as it swooped down to end her. But in the corner of her eye, she saw V leap, then roll, all while pulling free his crossbow. Landing in a kneel, V raised his weapon, sacred to his father's legacy, to meet the blade of the axe, and the carbon edge crashed into it, all of the Tor's force coming down for the swarthy elf to bear. V let out a shout as he put up his strength and will against the monster's. If his crossbow were any old thing, it would have snapped under the blade's weight, but the years of enchantments, precious metals and expertly crafted bearings that held it together now prohibited it from breaking, not just yet.

"Ggrrh, w-what was that you said, Kalena? We! Don't! Die!" V exclaimed, a wide smile on his face as he held the blade up. The sound of magical force filled the air as the Tor pressed his axe into the Blacksparrow Crossbow, audible even amongst the roaring flames, it sounded like the whistle of a teapot, like the thing was preparing to explode. Looking out of the corner of his eye, V spotted Lafayette sprinting to assist, "A little help here?! My arms are going to give put at this rate!" He shouted, doing well to annoy the chemical explosionist.

"Stop your whining, already!" He fired back. He made to stab Horns with his sword, only to find that the blade did not possess nearly enough sharpness to cut deep enough into the dragon orc's rough skin and flesh.

At the sound of a crack, V looked to Lafayette with urgency, "H-Help me, godsdamn it!"

"Alright, alright, you big baby!" Lafayette dropped to a kneel beside V, hooking his blade in under the crossbow and pushing up with everything he had. The Tor still pushed down, but to his surprise, he found their combined strengths were starting to win out. The Tor let out a growl as his blade began to raise against his will, teeth bared and all as his muscles flexed under his leather jacket. He looked down at the humans and elf, all so small and yet so determined. It was then that he realized what kinds of people these were.

Horns debated for only a moment whether he should let them live. They had earned it, but then his thought was cut short as he felt a blade slice into his abdomen. He looked down to see the woman, arm broken and all, reaching forth to cut into him. He let out a grunt, managing to pull back just enough to keep the mythril blade from going any deeper into him, it already having cut dangerously deep as it was. He inhaled, as now his life depended on it, and prepared to unleash a flame to end it all, only for a wave of small insects to crash into him, sending him flying.

< Prev : Hero of the Day Part One Next > : Worm and Fire II