Minds and Magic Pt 1

JP: Ender, Thaen, & I

Qhualt stood before them, checking the magical currents; by the blessing of the Nameless, the teleportation spell of the Crimson One had been altered to where the two great beings of red would be transported into the middle of the Sea of Ash. He watched the legions he had brought for this battle, he alone could handle one of the magic users however, if this was going to be a true victory, he prepared for a battle, no a slaughter! Over five thousand thralls, all equipped with rags of clothing of their old host’s lives, twenty-two hundred ordinary mind flayers, donned with the alien quicksilver like metal armor of their native world, five hundred brutish mind flayers, armed with wicked maces which channeled the unholy power of the Nameless, and finally fifty greater mindflayers, armed with nothing but their ceremonial cloaks. This battle was very much on their side of victory, but magic was unpredictable, as are an ancient devil and a great mage. “Our guests should be arriving soon.” He announced to his forces, as they stood in a massive circle around the initial teleportation spot.

The magical portal opened, two beings stepping out.

Qhualt watched as the portal closed behind a tall man with ruby skin and massive horns, who looked like no more than a tiefling of some kind, and a regal man in an ornate golden mask who seemed to otherwise be human.

"What's going on here?" Aldous asked Gelt, taking in the bizarre scene. “Is this more of your army of lackeys?”

"No, I do not know who this individual is.” The Crimson One frowned beneath his mask at the mindflayer and looked around at the open desert crowded with a sea of foes. "Even curiouser. My teleportation portal was meant to take us directly to the Nameless's stronghold, but it appears we were drawn off-course.

“That is no mean feat. This could be Sabriel, the Nameless's numero uno. Be on your guard.” As Aldous spoke he turned his head to look behind them. Seeing the gathering mass. He placed his hands on his hips and rocked on his heels, rocking his pelvis forward, letting out a ‘shoot’ whistle. “Would you look at that,” he pointed. “Looks like we got our work cut out for us.”

Qhualt spoke to the very minds of the two, “I hate to disappoint the two of you, but I am not Sabriel as you call him. I am Qhualt, the Thundering Star-Commander of the One. The being you call the Nameless. Welcome to my welcoming party as you would call it. It is my pleasure to meet great beings of the arcane such as yourselves; Balthazaar Gelt, the Crimson One, and Aldous, the Scarlet King. Appropriate names, because the desert will soon run with your blood..”

“That…that’s quite the threat.” Aldous said. “Did you bring more?” he said, a hand shielding his eyes looking at the army behind the thing called Qhualt. “Or is this it? Do we need to wait, because if we do I’d really like to find some shade. You’d think a spawn of Hell would be okay with the heat. But it's not the heat that’ll get you, it's the lack of humidity.” he nodded knowingly. “Suck the water right out of you, and you should be the most worried. I don’t see any water around for miles and I don’t know many squid that last long out of water.” Aldous quipped.

Qhualt chuckled, “I see you are very much on the side of comedy. I wonder if you will retain it from this choir of the One.” The two mages soon began to hear a strange choir singing in their heads, speaking in a language they had no understanding of. It seemed to do really nothing besides being distracting, concentrating was becoming difficult with all the noise. Qhualt watched as the thrall’s mouth tentacles quivered slightly as they continued their singing, just according to plan. He lifted his hand, ordering two squadrons to let out a mental screech. “Try focusing when your mind is being bombarded.”

Aldous flicked his hands in a fluid motion, the sand below his feet shifting outward like ripples on water frozen in time. “Tranquillus Animus” Aldous said, opting for a common mortal spell. A dome of mind-calming energy coated Gelt and himself. “Are you through?”

Qhault chuckled, “I got what I wanted, tell me. This Aggie human is very important to you. If the choir wasn’t singing I don’t think I could have gotten that information. As for you, Crimson One, you fear us. Interesting.”

Gelt simply switched which hands held his staff. His own power now swelled to meet Aldous’s spell, a silent pouring of energy that was empowered by Gelt’s staff. The calming effect was nearly solid upon the Weave. ”What is it that thou seeks by breaching our knowledge? You now know there is no easy victory between us.”

He sensed the clenched teeth of Aldous and stepped a single step forward past him. Gelt stepped slightly in front of the Scarlet King as he regarded Qhualt. He feared little. He feared the Nameless in its entire form. But what stood before him did not cow him. Here, amongst all of the desert’s sand, he was a master of Aeran. And what stood before the Crimson One did not strike fear into his ancient heart, for it was a steadfast resolve that filled it.

The Alien creature nodded, “Very true. Yet you believe yourselves safe from the Thralls. As for the Elders, it is no simple task.” The strange, more eldritch looking mindflayers raised their heads, before screeching into the minds of the two, breaking past the empowered spell Aldous casted with ease, the choir of the many others returning. Qhualt would not let this battle last long, only the Elders broke the spell, he motioned for the other creatures to begin their movement. Four legions of armored mind flayers marched towards the magical beings. Soon Qhualt had the thralls focus their choir into two separate mental illusions for the two. For Aldous, returned to his home of the Hells; instead of being greeted by his family, he was greeted by the hateful enemies he long since banished, tormenting his siblings and corrupting Aggie for their own twisted senses. For Gelt, he was forced to witness the end of Aeran; the being he saw as the Nameless shattering the sky, stealing the wills of many, enslaving the world to fuel the assimilation of other worlds that sparkled endlessly in the multiverse.

These nightmares were what Qhault used, the information from the world as well as the knowledge in their minds he had gained. The mind flayers raised their weapons as they prepared to finish the beings of red once and for all. As both of them bowed under the magnitude of the psionic will arrayed against them, something else reached out to them in their dire state. Speaking to Gelt, an all too familiar presence of the past.

"Is this the Crimson One? Pathetic for you to allow such lowly creatures to touch your mind. Where is your pride? Stop being such a fool." His nightmare shattered, greeted by a memory of a time long thought forgotten, the shadow of a demonic figure, standing before the young mage Gelt once were, “Quit your pondering, mage.” The mental dream shattered away, revealing the reality of the situation to the Changed One.

He had become bowed at the psionic waves of power that focused down upon him, the falsehood of reality parted to reveal the army before them. Even with the illusion shattered, the magnitude of the Nameless assault wore down upon the Red Wizard. He slowly raised his staff upward, knowing each moment lost was one that was used against him. There was a flash of gold as his staff finally reached the apex of his reach, a wheeze escaping the gold mask as the Red Wizard pushed back against that will which held them so.

As for Aldous, the nightmare slowly faded, a single voice speaking to him, “Wake up Uncle, you’re not finished yet.” The visions of reality also returned to him first naturally, then definitively as an old power flowed from Bathlazaar. Qhualt noticed only a fraction too late as he started to contend with Gelt.

The moment Aldous’ mind was his own again, he seized the Weave. He spread his consciousness out beyond his immediate limits. Reaching out for signs of life that did not consist of the creatures before him and sensing nothing, his mind blinked back to his body; his eyes snapping open, . “Hup zhro yogagl.” Aldous spoke aloud, his language the creature before him would likely know well. The last syllable spoken, the sky grew dark with streaks of lightning illuminating the growing clouds. Before the army before them could react, a barrage of massive meteors rained from the sky ripping through the battlefield. “Hup zhro mgep.” he cast a second spell, the ground beginning to cave below, the earth swallowing up anything underfoot into a massive, quickly growing sinkhole with sheer vertical sides.

Qhualt and the Elders warped the small part of reality around them to block the meteors from crushing them. However many of the thralls were slaughtered by the attack, as well as half of the other forces of the Mind flayer army. Qhualt motioned his army to strike, to move forward with their attack. The remaining forces charged at the two, some swinging their weapons others attempting to latch onto their heads and drain them of their knowledge. Qhualt turned to the Elders, linking their minds together, preparing to cast a spell that would puncture the very souls of the magical beings.

Bathlazaar Gelt met them in a test of wills, his staff surrounded in a golden aura that struck with empowered force even as his will contested against the Elders here and there. The archmage was quick to send thralls flying with every sweep of his staff. Blades met against magic with flashes even as others tried to enspell the two. Gelt seized up one that managed to nearly land on him from behind, flesh becoming crystal and shattering with a flick of his hand. His power was pure arcane, the Weave at his beck and call. Blades appeared from the blood of the fallen to spear incoming thralls, lances of psionic will interrupted by a blast of fire, lightning, and ice as the staff turned to solidify three thralls into stone. They were given life once more as stone golems, their forms turning to attack those they once were a part of. Still, the power of the Nameless rained upon both Defenders of Aeran even as both evoked their full potential. Mighty had become the test of Mind and Magic.

More and more, Gelt felt the need to use the staff’s power to counter the many attacks that came at him. The near constant whining of psionic attack had been a severe distraction. However, he had only a few seconds to parry attacks away, or into the path of Aldous’ spells. As the Crimson One twirled his staff once more, the aura pulsed brightly upon the length as he slammed the artifact down. Instantly, the spell energy was released with the same golden flash; back flew the enemy in droves, clearing space around them. The effort to do so was draining normally, but had been relied entirely on the staff to power. The Weave shifted even as Gelt looked to the Scarlet King, who brushed off a tentacle with a grim smirk. The pressure of will was building, a tsunami of choruses that would obliterate them. He sensed it, even as he straightened himself and walked with precise steps to the side of Aldous

Gelt reached deeper than he once dared before. This time, he opened himself fully, willingly to his staff

I hath inquired power; Thou hath provided. Thou hath given quests, aligned in purpose; I hath done. Now I beseech thee. Obey my Word.

Credere tibi videor necesse est, ut petas./You seem to believe there is a need to ask.

A Choice, thou giveth to me. Now, I return with thine.

Ha ha ha! Tu tamen iodis me ad diem, Gelte! Ha ha ha! You still amuse me to the day, Gelt!

Aldous reached into his coat and from it pulled an elegant obsidian black long sword. “The bloody way it is.” Aldous said, slicing through the seemingly endless wave of fodder sent his way. Cutting through each like a hot knife through butter. With each kill the deep purple gem inset within the pommel thrummed with a dull but noticeable glow.

The golden aura began to envelope the area as the Elders reached a crescendo. Gelt gripped his staff in both hands, mask glowing in the shining aura even as he felt his breath become labored. Up he raised it, the tide growing ever taller to drown them down as the piercing screams of psionic will ripped at their minds.

"Nutu Mutationis, nostra voluntas nostra est! abi cum turpi veneficio tuo! Redi ad Vacuum unde venisti!" came the voice of a Master, Gelt slamming the artefact into the sands. By the will of Change, our will is our own! Begone with your foul magick! Return to the Void from whence you came!

The surge swept through the first several waves. Those caught in the wave broke apart as sand, collapsing into a rising wall of base elements that played to his will. It swept others into the depths of the ground as tendrils swirled into the air; the strands of Weave were thick as he brought the wave down, sand compressing and heating into molten earth that crushed with a burning cruelty that was inflicted with an intent honed to a fine point. He could sense the wills of the Elders and met them with a single, focused will, cleared of all other wants except what he chose. The chorus wrapped around the two, reality tearing as What Should Not Be tried and pressed and grasped at the single Voice that held them at bay.

Gelt reached his hand out to Aldous. "Aldous! You must silence the nearest of his spellcasters! Hearken to me!" he spoke, voice empowered more than usual as he reached out a gloved hand to Aldous. He prepared the mass of base element as he did so, his intent clear.

During a lull in combat Aldous leapt backwards returning to Gelt’s side. “If you have a good plan…” Aldous let out a huff as he rolled his shoulders, “I’m all ears, I can’t keep this up all for that much longer.”

Qhualt brought down his own will with the Elders, summoning from a giant hand, with tentacles for fingers, before curling into a fist and came crashing down on the two, slowly pushing down on the spell in order to grab them, his voice reaching their skulls, "Interesting, none have ever escaped my mental prisons. My master finds you both interesting, answer me this, and we may spare you. What allowed you to break free from the mental prisons?"

“Trade secret.” Aldous retorted, “But heck since you asked nicely. It’s because you’re pretty weak.” he said, “I mean, I’m next in line for King of the Nine Hells! And he’s a thousands-of-years old archmage, who frankly stole a lot of knowledge humans shouldn’t lay eyes on. So you are more like a buzzy, little pest.” Aldous began to push the hand back. “It’s like this, see you’ve already lost. So either lay down and die or run tail tucked because this is getting boring…” he said, dispelling the hand.

“Disappointing.” As the hand was dispelled Qhualt sent a bolt of purple energy through their shield, and into Gelt’s side. “You disappoint me, next in line of the Hells and an Archmage? Nothing keen, nothing different from the thousands of others, just another brick in the wall of chaos.”

The Crimson One felt his personal defences be breached. By sheer will, he kept himself upright despite the impact flashing through the spells. He kept his staff high, resurging the lava-like material upwards in a hand of his own; his spare hand dropped to his side as he stooped wounded to his left. He felt the warmth of lightning pain strum through his torso at the mere touch, red blood darkening the crimson robe. His breath came ragged and drawn as his duel with multiple minds became harder. He gestured for Aldous again.

This time, he was ready for the next psionic wave. As the screaming came to finally wipe him away, he finished pulling and compressing the material of his sorcerous hand. It spread as a dome over top, obsidian buffered by veins of lead and pig iron. A golden flash infused it with resistance as Gelt lowered the staff.

At long last, he felt pain. It had been centuries since someone had truly managed to do something similar. He had forgotten how true pain felt. He leaned upon the staff, feeling the blood land upon the sands as Aldous looked upon him. The dome enshrouded them in cover for the time being, but even he had to agree that Gelt had been hit hard. The glow that came off of the archmage's staff lit the dome; he almost missed the slight afterglow of his blood that was dripping onto the melted ground, which gave himself a clue as to what exactly Gelt was and what had been done to him.

"We must speak quickly. He is wounded by hubris, but we are close to failure. The enemy has moved one step further than anticipated. My magicks require much, Aldous but I can protect thee. You must kill five more of their psionic masters; I will open a portal away from here. Hearken to this! I know not of how we escaped them. We should not have survived this attack. Our hands are being guided by an yet unseen."

While Gelt spoke, Aldous’ attention suddenly snapped to a place beyond the creatures before them. “Oh, I have never been more happy to hear from those idiots.” Aldous said aloud to no one in particular. “Ta ta!” he finished, grabbing Gelt as the pair vanished. Thrust through space, the air snapped from the bright and heat to low-light and dank. Without the power to sustain itself, the materials under Gelt’s control ceased to animate in its controlled manner. There was a great collapsing of obsidian, lead, and some bits of gold and ruby. The debris ringed around their exit, pieces falling into the divides that had been rented upon the earth.

Qhault chuckled as he watched the crimson beings portal away, "Run red ones, remember! This world will belong to the Nameless, no matter what you do."

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