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The Purifiers

September 05, 2015

demoIn the Millennium of Purification, a group of Elves and Dwarves join forces to purge the world of the dark magicks they themselves once helped unleash. Is there a chance to make up for their sins of the past and restore order to the world? Find out in the serial fan fic: The Purifiers.

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September 05, 2015

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The Purifiers

Chapter 4: The Monsters Within (Scene 4)

 

The hammer wielding Dwarf approaches Mancer. He stops as K'Ulnar steps in his path, shield at the ready. "You managed to avoid my breaking your arm with my earlier attack, but that doesn't mean you've fully recovered yet. Your stance weak, your shield held lower than before indicating the pain in your arm. Stand aside so I can avoid hurting you any further."

 

Mancer continues to hold onto his rune axe with both hands. "Stand aside. I will finish him myself."

 

K'Ulnar smiles and half turns to the towering giant. "Abandoning a friend in battle, now does that sound like something I would do?"

 

A cold metal hand touches the Elf's shoulder softly. "Together then."

 

The Dwarf takes a stance preparing to charge, his hammer ready to strike down all enemies who stand against it. Before he can take a step though he moves his head back as a scythe blade slashes down, nearly cleaving his face clean off. He quickly jumps back as the scythe comes around to eviscerate him. Planting the elongated handle of his rune mallet into the ground to gain his balance, the Dwarf takes a hard look at E'Sarinn. "Faster than before. And those eyes ... such conviction."

 

E'Sarinn points his scythe at his enemy. "K'Ulnar, stay with Mancer. Protect each other."

 

"Keep the injured off the battlefield," analyzes the Dwarf. "Yet teamed with the golem and the rune axe, may still be enough of keep me off balance if I get passed you. Smart. Though, in the end, all you do is delay the inevitable."

 

No words, E'Sarinn just attacks. Using the range of his scythe and his speed, he unleashes a flurry of jabs with the blade. Head, neck, heart, groin, kidneys. Each potentially lethal with only a single hit, made with skilled precision at lightning fast speeds and not focusing on any one area making it harder to defend. The Dwarf moves back, out of range of the longer scythe. E'Sarinn moves to re-engage. At just the right moment the Dwarf moves forward, closing the gap, moving towards each other so the gap closes faster. Move and countermove. With a forward strike from the scythe, the Dwarf steps to the side and brings the hammer down.

 

The Ruiner smashes through the scythe, shattering the shaft in twain. E'Sarinn holds one half of the broken weapon in each hand. He throws the end with the blade at his opponent. With ease the Dwarf moves his head as the makeshift throwing spear whizzes by. Not giving a second to recover E'Sarinn is already in close range attacking with the other half as a blunt instrument, aiming for the lower ribs. Countering the Dwarf parries with the shaft of his rune hammer. It is only then that the Dwarf sees the true danger. Using the first two attacks as a distraction, E'Sarinn has managed to draw one of his short swords which is now streaking through the air towards the Dwarf's exposed throat. With nary a second to spare the Dwarf moves away, the sword merely leaving a small scratch on his neck and cleaving the braids of his beard clean off.

 

"Fast, flowing, and adaptable. You are a true Weapons Expert. You have my respect. Given another century to hone your skill you might even surpass me. But you are not there yet."

 

E'Sarinn drops the blunt half of his broken scythe and draws his second sword. "I am not yet defeated."

 

"No. I suspected not. Your two swords, you hold them differently than your other weapons. Must be favorites. I suspect far more proficient as well." He scans the battlefield. The Wizard has already pulled out the arrow shaft. The wound is still bleeding, but he's regaining composure. Soon he'll be casting magic again, and might even undo the weight spell on the Gnome archer. Meanwhile the Dervish remains hurt, but holding position near the golem with the rune axe. As a duo they could prove a formidable match. If this battle doesn't end soon it may not end in his favor. The Dwarf spreads his legs more and takes a widened stance, rooting his position and holding his oversized rune mallet in both hands. "This battle has gone on long enough."

 

E'Sarinn attacks again. The Dwarf makes only small, subtle movements to defend, using the mallet head as well as the long handle together to defend against the twin blade attacks. Finding just the smallest of openings the Dwarf swings the long handle around and sweeps one of the legs out from under E'Sarinn. He falls back and hits the ground. Not missing a step he's already rolling back to his feet. One step ahead, the Dwarf's hammer is already coming around and predicting where the Elf's head will arise. Not even E'Sarinn can react fast enough to defend against the lethal blow.

 

A chain wraps around the handle of the Ruiner and holds it back, Bastiel having entangled the mallet with his chain. The Dwarf notices the subtle motion of Bastiel muttering under his breath. Damn. He quickly tugs on the length of chain, though Bastiel holds tight. With the added length of chain at his disposal the Dwarf gives it a twirl, wrapping a segment around the wrist of E'Sarinn. The eyes of Bastiel go wide.

 

The hammer wielding Dwarf says, "Using the chain to extend your circle magic is clever, but create a second circle and the energy will naturally flow to the first available target."

 

E'Sarinn, with one armed still ensnared, slices out with his free sword hand. The Dwarf goes to move, but his rune mallet is now linked to one of the wrists of E'Sarinn. He lets go of the rune hammer and takes a step back, dodging out of the way to avoid losing his hand for good. As the blade slashes passed him the Dwarf steps forward again, his hands cupped together as he hits E'Sarinn dead center in the chest with a double palm strike, the force pushing the Elf back. The wind knocked out of him, E'Sarinn drops to his knees trying to catch his breath.

 

Seeing an opening and the main threat now removed from the picture, Mancer brings down his axe with all of his might. "And now you're mine"

 

The now weaponless Dwarf catches the axe between both hands. "No. Now you are mine." His fingers drum the axe like a skilled musician. With each precise stroke of his fingers one of the runes on the axe is lit aglow with an almost harmonic hum. As all the runes glow intensely, the axe shatters. Fragments spray the area.

 

Mancer is pelted with pieces of his fallen friend which bounce harmlessly off his steel physique. K'Ulnar, at his side, raises his shield as a hail storm of metal shards pepper the surrounding area. Though even his skill can only protect him from most fragments as a piece sneaks by and digs deep into his right thigh. E'Sarinn takes a hit in his left shoulder and Bastiel a sliver to the gut. Only their distance from the epicenter allowed them escape with so few wounds.

 

Pax leaps nimbly out of the way as a piece of flying debris passes straight through the vapor form of Fenix. A puff of vapor disappears from the center of her chest as a result of the force and air current. "Hey, come on now! Was that really necessary?" she exclaims as the mist reforms her feminine faerie body. She looks at Haven. "Come on, light me on fire and let me scorch him." After a brief pause she adds, "Just a little, I swear."

 

Shards that approach H'Dargoyn and Z'Xen in the distance stop mysteriously, either falling to the ground or deflecting off to the side. H'Dargoyn watches with an eerie calm in all the chaos.

 

The Dwarf stands triumphantly. "Though I hold not the Ruiner, do not think I powerless. He and I are bound in mind. Through our telepathic link he shares with me all I need know to destroy any in my path." He walks over to his rune mallet and picks it up off the ground, sliding the wrapped chain off of its grip. Turning to leave he sees Mancer in his path. "I have done what I set out to do. I have no further business here. Stand aside."

 

Mancer responds in his cold metallic voice. "After all you've done, attacked us and hurt so many, destroyed my oldest friend, do you really think you can just walk away?"

 

The Dwarf looks up at the towering giant. "If you are smart, you will. I have already defeated the lot of you. Unless you want me to undo the magic that binds your essence to substance so that you may join your friend in release, stand aside."

 

Mancer charges, his fist smashing down at the Dwarf. The smaller target is too fast as the Dwarf effortlessly dodges out of the way and brings his weapon around to pound into the steel golem. Before the attack connects, E'Sarinn rams into the Dwarf with a shoulder, pushing him off target. E'Sarinn stares at his opponent, the Elf's left arm slumping and unable to hold a weapon any longer but his right arm still good. Bringing the mallet around to hit E'Sarinn, the attack suddenly slams against a shield as K'Ulnar deflects it. Taking the opening E'Sarinn dashes forward with sword still in hand.

 

"'Bound in mind ... telepathic link ..." H'Dargoyn repeats the words he heard earlier. "Something is not right here." He lowers his head and whispers in a soft voice only Z'Xen can hear. "I am to protect you, but... they cannot win. They will fight with great passion, but they cannot win. I am sorry. My staying here will do no one any good." With a step back he disappears from her sight. She turns to find him, but he is already gone.

 

The bodies of Bastiel and K'Ulnar lie motionless on the ground, only the faintest of breathes swaying a blade of grass indicating life instead of death. E'Sarinn and Mancer remain standing, though the frail mortal form of the Elf indicating that he too is on his last legs. Suddenly the worn fighting stance of E'Sarinn eases and his eyes shift side to side. Mancer starts to charge when he holds his hand out. "Wait."

 

Mancer looks down at him. "I will not forgive what he has done. Don't ask me to allow his escape."

 

"No," E'Sarinn responds. "Just give me a moment."

 

The Dwarf remains in a defensive stance with rune hammer still at the ready. "Have you finally come to your senses?"

 

E'Sarinn steps in front of Mancer. "Maybe, but not in the way you think. You said earlier that you are linked with your rune weapon, but that is not exactly true." He stares into the Dwarf's eyes. "When you destroyed Mancer's axe, there was no telepathic communication at all."

 

"Of course there was," answers the Dwarf. "There's no other way to perform such a feat."

 

E'Sarinn doesn't break the stare. "You really believe that, but that is not true. It would be possible, if you knew how to do it yourself. When you activated the runes, there was only one voice in your head, your own."

 

The Dwarf stands unshaken. "Do you think your lies will confuse me?" He pauses. "No ... distract me!" He moves to the side as the hand of H'Dargoyn narrowly misses him. "Trickery and deceit!" Grabbing hold of the prowling Elf by the wrist, the Dwarf brings up his hammer for a finishing blow

 

 H'Dargoyn smiles. "Touch is touch, no matter which of us makes contact"

 

The Dwarf stops his attack and stumbles back, holding his head, letting go of his target. H'Dargoyn lets out a scream of pain as he stumbles back as well. If not for the arms of E'Sarinn catching him, he'd have surely hit the floor. "Are you okay?"

 

H'Dargoyn winces and rubs his temples. "I will be fine. I just need a moment to process all this information."

 

The hand of the Dwarf trembles as it slowly pulls away from his head. His jaw locked and his eyes narrowed as he glares at H'Dargoyn. He violently grips the handle of his hammer. "You -- You monster!"

 

H'Dargoyn looks at the Dwarf. "I have done many horrible things in my life," his expression cold and uncaring. "Yet none of them compare to the crimes you have committed."

 

"Enough!" spittle flying from his mouth as the Dwarf screams. "I will rid the world of your kind dark one!" He charges at H'Dargoyn.

 

Still showing no emotion at all H'Dargoyn stands his ground. "You have forgotten." He grabs hold of the Dwarf's wrist before he swing with his full might and power, stopping the attack before it can start. "So allow me to remind you." He slams his other hand against the forehead of the Dwarf.

 

The Dwarf's eyes go blank. Then they start to water as he falls to his knees. "N-no. It can't be." His voice trembling. "These -- these have to be lies."

 

H'Dargoyn stands over him. "You have all my memories, all my thoughts. We are connected. You know me, and you know why I would never lie."

 

The Dwarf's head lowers, tears drop from his face to the ground below. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me, all of you."

 

E'Sarinn takes a step forward. "I am unsure if --"

 

H'Dargoyn raises a hand. "He is not asking us."

 

E'Sarinn asks, "Then who?"

 

H'Dargoyn glances down at the rune hammer still in the Dwarf's hands. The rune symbols emblazoned upon it starting to glow. Taking hold of the weapon the Dwarf stands to his feet again. "Yes, I understand." He looks at H'Dargoyn. "Thank you, you dark knight. You have reminded me of who I am. So let me leave you with this advice: You always wanted to be accepted as one of them, but it is that very desire which made it so they never could." The rune symbols grow brighter, and wisps of white energy flow between it and the Dwarf. Then he drops the hammer, and his complexion grows pale.

 

E'Sarinn stands beside H'Dargoyn. "What just happened?"

 

H'Dargoyn turns to him. "The Ruiner destroys other rune weapons by taking the souls within, and bringing them into itself, growing stronger after each victory. Now it has claimed one more."

 

E'Sarinn looks at the still standing, yet motionless Dwarf. "So he became just another victim?"

 

H'Dargoyn shakes his head. "No. This is what he wanted. Now they'll all share the same fate, for better or for worse. To share each other's pain and give comfort to one another."

 

"How do you know?"

 

"Because," answers H'Dargoyn, "after our Mind Bond I have all of his memories. I know exactly how he thinks."

 

"So then," E'Sarinn pauses as he looks at H'Dargoyn again. "Did you know this be the final result?"

 

H'Dargoyn doesn't answer, but walks over to the lock of beard E'Sarinn severed earlier in the battle. He crouches down and lifts it up with his right hand, staring at it longingly.

 

Z'Xen approaches. "What is it?"

 

H'Dargoyn rubs the lock between his fingers. "Each knot woven as a symbol of love for each creation he brought into this world, his children if you will. And now, that which has been slain by his hand and the Ruiner."

 

"All of them?"

 

The lock of hair ignites in flames and burns to nothingness within the hand of H'Dargoyn. "Every last one." The last trail of ashes leave his hand as he lifts himself up and faces the others once again. "I still retain his memories, the culmination of all of his knowledge. I can destroy the Ruiner, end this now."

 

Z'Xen gasps. "But did you not say you two are connected?"

 

H'Dargoyn looks at the still standing, yet lifeless shell of a Dwarf. "As if he were another half of myself."

 

She looks at him with sad puppy dog eyes. "And he's a part of it now, so how can you feel right about destroying it?"

 

He looks at her. "How I feel is irrelevant." As their eyes meet she feels a cold chill come over. "The only thing that matters is what needs to be done."

 

E'Sarinn asks, "Are you sure you can live with that?"

 

H'Dargoyn looks at him without emotion. "As he said, I am a monster. I have done many horrible things. I will live."

 

E'Sarinn nods. "That still leaves us with the question of what to do with his hammer."

 

Bastiel strokes the rough hairs of his white beard. "We are on a mission to destroy all the dark magic. Rune weapons fall into that category. Best to destroy it while we still have the chance."

 

Q'Uetel looks at H'Dargoyn. "Your knowledge is fleeting, is it not? But the ability to destroy rune weapons is a valuable one. If we keep the Ruiner, we maintain that abilities. Destroying it would be premature. It could still be useful."

 

Haven strokes the coat of Pax. "Don't forget all the pain this weapon has already caused. Despite any good intentions, it has caused nothing but misery."

 

Fenix says, "Yeah, I think I'm with Haven on this one. He used it to kill his children, then himself. If that doesn't say all kinds of messed up I don't know what does." She then looks at Haven. "Wow, I'm actually agreeing with you? That's weird, isn't it?" Her eyes go wide. "The weapon really is evil."

 

Q'Uetel sighs. "I hate to admit it, but you may be right. The weapon may just be cursed."

 

Mancer picks up the rune hammer off the ground and holds it in his hands.

 

Z'Xen approaches the motionless body with trepidation. Standing face to face with him she can feel his warm breath on her cheek. "He still has life!"

 

After casting a Cleanse spell upon it, Q'Uetel wraps a bandage around his still bleeding hand. "His vessel yet draws breath. But it lacks that intrinsic spark that bestows all living beings with purpose."

 

"There is more to life than a soul. Trust me," adds H'Dargoyn. "There is more to this though. His soul now powers the rune weapon, that is true. However, it is his mind that gives the rune weapon a personality, a consciousness if you will. He yet lives, just in a new vessel."

 

Z'Xen brushes her hand against the cheek of the Dwarf. "Maybe there is something we can do to still help him?"

 

E'Sarinn approaches. "I am sorry, but he and the weapon are connected, and it is too dangerous to leave alone." He looks at H'Dargoyn. "Your ability to destroy the rune weapon will disappear soon, correct? Then we should act quickly, while we still have the chance."

 

Without warning the rune hammer bashes in the skull of the soulless Dwarf, his skull caving in as blood splatters outward and across the face of Z'Xen. She flinches; her eyes now locked wide open and her whole body tenses.

 

Mancer glares at E'Sarinn and H'Dargoyn. "No." He shifts his left side towards the rest of the group, pulling his right side and the hand holding the rune hammer slightly back, positioning himself between the team and the item they seek to destroy.

 

The gruff Bastiel places a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay?" He can feel her frail frame trembling. As he looks at the young Elven woman Lord Wilhelm entrusted to his care, he sees someone who has never once seen battle and now soaked in the blood of someone she was trying to save. He gives a low guttural growl as he turns towards Mancer, the rune hammer now held in the golem's hands. The steel giant stares down at the rune item he now caresses. Bastiel barks, "What in Hades did you think you were doing?!"

 

Mancer looks up startled. Then his voice grows cold. "Destroying an empty husk."

 

K'Ulnar stands beside the massive golem. "With added motivation to avenge your fallen friend, is that not so?"

 

"No, but I understand the pain and suffering of being empty inside."

 

K'Ulnar looks up at him. "Mancer, I --"

 

"I made his end quick," interrupts Mancer. He looks down at the hammer. "It's what he wanted."

 

E'Sarinn lifts a handful of shattered pieces from the broken rune axe. "And if the Ruiner absorbs those it destroys, it is all you have left of your friend."

 

Mancer tightens his grip on it. "Yes. I will not let them take it from me. I claim it as mine."

 

Bastiel scowls. "Don't be a fool. That weapon is dangerous and will only cause more pain."

 

Mancer looks at the ill-tempered and elderly Dwarf. "The same can be said of your Void Magic. I have made my decision."

 

Bastiel looks at the blood soaked face of Z'Xen. "And look at what you've already done. I'm not sure I trust your judgment right now."

 

Mancer turns to her. H'Dargoyn is now beside her with a handkerchief, gently wiping the blood from her face. "The girl was an unfortunate accident. She was closer than I realized. I will exercise more caution in the future."

 

E'Sarinn says, "We will not get a second chance to destroy it."

 

Mancer turns and starts to walk away. "Good." His heavy steel steps echo through the endless trees.

 

Bastiel looks at E'Sarinn. "This will not end well."

 

E'Sarinn surveys the wreckage from the battle. "Maybe, but we will deal with that another time. Tonight, we need to heal our wounds and bury those fallen."