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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 1: Into the Fire

 

A bundle of dead Gnomes hang from the rafters of the great hall. Whatever blood isn't splattered across the walls and floor now drains from their cold and pale bodies into the cauldron beneath them. Around the cauldron sit a group of Trolls using gnome banquet tables as small stools. Dinner is timed to coincide with the moon reaching its peak, amplified by the natural mystic energies of this land. The Gnomes chose their home well, though little good it did them in the end.

At the head of the festivities, on a literal throne of bones far too large to be Gnome in origin, sits Schlom the Soul Eater, self-proclaimed "King" of the Trolls. With a mere flick of his wrist, guards open the doors leading to the kitchen. Two Kobolds enter, dragging along a Gnome with his hands tied behind his back. They throw the captive at the feet of the Soul Eater.

Using his shoulder to roll to his knees, the Gnome stands without hesitation and glares up at the towering Troll. "My people will never serve you, tyrant. They've escaped into the tunnels, where they outlasted even the savagery of the Elf-Dwarf War. Your band of thugs will never find them."

Schlom taps a finger against the skull armrest of his throne, a Gnome-sized crown worn on his finger like a ring. He slouches along the other armrest with his chin propped up under his hand. "Your people? If the Kobolds want them, they can have them. I don't care about them or this worthless kingdom."

The Gnome's holds his breath as his eyes widen, pupils shifting back and forth. "You don't care ... worthless ... THEN WHY?! All this death and destruction for simple entertainment?!"

The Troll King snorts. "Don't be foolish. Slaughtering your troops was far too easy to be considered entertainment. This just happens to be a convenient staging ground for my true target: Eyescend. I will crush the refuge of Elves!" He slams his fist down on the bone armrest. "I will destroy every one of their cities and claim them as mine. I'll take their precious New Kingdom and turn it into the Domain of Monsters!"

Continuing to stare up at the Troll, the Gnome slowly shakes his head. "Your ambition and thirst for blood are only surpassed by your madness."

As Schlom smiles his already massive fangs appear to grow even larger. "Your people do serve one other purpose I suppose. I needed their blood, and then I'll animate their corpses and send them in as frontline troops."

The Gnome spits on the floor. "Necromancer scum."

The skull on the armrest speaks. "Half right." Another skull on the throne laughs as it spins in a circle. Quickly taking a step back; the Gnome bumps into the two Kobolds guards who restrain him. He squirms to get free. A third skull says, "Such a superstitious lot. Too easy." More laughing.

Schlom leans forward on his throne. "Don't forget Cannibal Mage." Then he makes a swooping arm gesture. "Throw him in!" The three skulls on the throne echo the order with childish glee. "Throw him in. Throw him in. Throw him in."

The Kobolds fling their captive into the cauldron. Landing with a splash, the former Gnome king sinks beneath the surface. He comes back up with a gasp, the crimson elixir running down his face. His body trembles, his breath quickens, and his features sink in as if trying to cringe away from his own flesh.

"Now light it." The other Trolls cheer at the Soul Eater's order.

The Gnome tries to scurry up the cauldron, but to no avail. His hands are still bound and the walls are too steep and slippery. He takes a moment to look around, seeing the dark red liquid all around him and the lifeless corpses dangling over his head. He's about to be boiled alive in a broth of his people's blood. Hopelessly, futilely, he throws his body at the sides of the cauldron. His efforts only cause the Trolls to laugh. Suddenly a hail of splinters spread across the room like shrapnel. As debris clanks against the metal cauldron, the former Gnome king flinches and turns his head away.

Standing in an open archway is a Dwarf with shaved head and full beard. The path in front of him is littered with debris and chips of wood from the now obliterated door. He wears no armor, only pants and an open sleeveless robe that exposes his bare chest. His true name unknown, he's known simply as Rock. Behind Rock stand two Elves and two more Dwarves.

One of the other Dwarves is named Haven, and the wolf at his side is Pax. The ears of Pax are erect, fur bristled, tail straight back and stiff, and body crouched. As the Trolls stand from their makeshift seats, Pax snarls with lips up and curled back to reveal fangs. Haven scans the room. "That's a lot more than two or three."

Hanging back behind the rest of the group is an Elf named Q'Uetel. He wears a forest green cloak over his hard leather armor. "If their count concerns, then merely keep them occupied. One or twenty, Trolls are of trivial consequence in my presence."

Rock cracks his knuckles. "Who cares how many? Let's stop talkin' and get to fightin'."

Schlom waves his hand towards the newcomers. "Kill the intruders."

From within the cauldron the Gnome king shouts. "Intruders? You who invade our home are one to talk."

With a yawn Schlom adds, "And light him already. We'll be hungry when this is over."

A Kobold with a torch goes to set the kindling ablaze when an arrow pierces his eye and he falls back, dropping from his lifeless hands is the torch. Another arrow hits the torch and knocks it to the side. Looking up, a third arrow enters through the other guard's agape mouth ripping out the back of the neck.

A Gnome with a bow and arrow stands on the upper level hallway overlooking the great hall. Drawing another arrow he lines up his next target. From behind him a Troll reaches down and grabs one of his arms, lifting him up into the air at the same instant the arrow's set loose and hits its intended mark. The Troll looks the small Gnome archer up and down as he holds him suspended over the ground. "You think you're pretty tough with that bow, don't you? Well let's see how tough you are without any arms."

The Gnome rolls his eyes. "And what is that supposed to mean?"

Sneering, the Troll lifts the Gnome higher. "It means I'm going to rip off your arms and feast on your bones!" The Troll starts opening his mouth.

"Uh huh ..." The Gnome sighs. "And how are you going to do that when you're dead?"

The Troll pauses. "Huh?"

Crack! The Gnome slams his bow into the Troll's wrist and hits bone. With a grunt the Troll releases his prey. As the Gnome falls he draws an arrow, then using the momentum from the fall he stabs it down into the Troll's foot. Howling out, the Troll lifts his foot and stumbles. Using his bow, the Gnome sweeps the good leg from underneath the off balanced Troll who hits the ground with a THUMP!

Dazed, the Troll starts to lift his head. Standing on his chest is the Gnome with arrow already notched. The Troll starts to shudder. "Wha-what are you?!"

"Me? I'm the Shooter. And you? You're just another damn victim who never realized how small you really were." Then the Gnome fires his next arrow.

Below in the great hall, another Troll hits the ground. An Elf wielding twin swords stands over the body. His name is E'Sarinn. "None of the others matter. We need to kill Schlom. Help clear me a path."

A massive clawed hand from another Troll comes down on Rock. The swipe cuts into his robe, but the Dwarf's flesh doesn't show even a scratch. Rock smiles as he clutches his hand into a fist. "Clear your own damn path. I'm busy!" As his muscles bulge, Rock punches the Troll directly in the gut. When Rock pulls his hand back the Troll hits the floor, a hole ripped through its stomach. The hand of Rock drips with the slimy green goo of the Troll's blood, intestines still held in the Dwarf's grip.

Another Troll charges at Q'Uetel. Before he can reach the Elf hiding in the background he suddenly finds himself struggling to move. He stumbles and almost falls, but instead just drifts slowly down towards the ground as light as a feather on the breeze. With a gesture from the hand of Q'Uetel, a light magical wind hits the Troll. Normally a Troll wouldn't even feel such a weak force, but now that he's Weightless he's helpless to resist. The Fingers of the Wind gently manipulate and guide the Troll up and out of one of the upper windows of the castle.

Q'Uetel looks over towards E'Sarinn and calls out. "Try not to be too harsh with Rock. You know Dwarves lack the mental capacity to focus on multiple tasks at once." While he's distracted, another Troll attacks Q'Uetel. The clawed hand slashes across the Elf's body. For a moment, magic energy turns visible as the Armor of Ithan protection shatters around Q'Uetel. He allowed the Troll to get in too close. Now things will be difficult. Moving in for another strike the Troll suddenly staggers off to the side, then slumps down to the ground with a hail of arrows in his back. Shooter gives a two-fingered salute from the hallway above.

E'Sarinn sighs. And your quips are not helping any better. He surveys the path before him and sees one of the other Trolls already making its way towards him. "Fine, then I shall do it myself!" He readies his swords to cut a bloody trail through them all if he must.

A steel chain wraps around the approaching Troll's leg and pulls it out to the side. The Troll stumbles and crashes into the cauldron, both go tumbling down to the ground. The blood and Gnome king splash out onto the floor. A sickle attached to the other end of the chain comes around and pierces into the Troll's spine. The chain and sickle belong to Bastiel the Empty, the eldest of all the Dwarves present. "No. We'll do this together." Bastiel and E'Sarinn look at the other and nod.

 

Somewhere in the back passages of the castle, a group of Kobolds lie dead on the ground, their throats slit. Looming over them is an Elf with the Kobold's black blood dripping from his daggers. His name is H'Dargoyn, and he knows in battle there are only two types of people: Those who watch their backs, and those who end up dead. He arrived with the others, but an all out brawl holds little interest for him. Instead he's picking off any would-be reinforcements. With the ruckus coming from the great hall the patrols are rushing passed without looking or thinking. Amateurs.

The clanking of armor sounds in the distance. A little further down the hallway he picks a door and slides into the room. He waits near the entrance, ear close to the door and daggers in hand. A low wheezing, interrupted only by a choking groan, sounds from behind him. His eyes adjust to the darkness as he surveys the scene. When he finds the source he gasps and takes a step away, his back bumping into the wall. He mutters a profanity in Elven. His pointed ears twitch and he glances back at the door. The reinforcements are outside the door and have come to a stop. A trembling voice calls out, "What in Hades is going on here?!" Sounds like they found the bodies.

He flings the door open and descends upon his victims. His first dagger slips along the trailing Kobold's neck. As the Kobold lets out a gurgle, another turns. The second dagger slices his gullet. Now the remaining four face him. One of them swings wildly with his beaked axe as he turns. H'Dargoyn leaps over the low swipe and slashes into two of their throats. He lands at the same time their bodies hit the floor. One of the last two maintains enough composure to thrust with his axe. The Elf weaves out of the way as a dagger dips under the shaft of the axe and then upwards as the blade plunges under the Kobold's jaw. His other dagger drives down into the remaining Kobold's jugular. The force of his attack continues as he slams the Kobold down into the ground.

Without ever coming to a stop he withdraws both daggers and breaks into a run, heading the same direction as the Kobold's just a moment ago. He has to hurry and warn the others of what he saw. Entering into the kitchen through the back hallway he sees a fleet of Gnome bodies. The brutality of it gives even him pause, but only for a moment. He makes his way through the carnage and bursts into the great hall. His eyes shift around the room.

Looks like the Purifiers have caused their usual level of chaos. His eyes locate a pouch on a Troll's belt. There! The Troll is starting to untie the small bag. H'Dargoyn examines the battle. No way he can make it through all of them in time. The Troll removes something from the pouch and takes it into its massive hand. He sees E'Sarinn and Bastiel close to the target. He'll need to rely on them. "You need to stop him! You cannot let him consume that!" Hearing the shout, one of the other Trolls looks over to H'Dargoyn and now starts to approach. Damn.

E'Sarinn shifts his attention to H'Dargoyn, then towards Schlom. The Soul Eater is holding something in his hands and lifting it over his mouth. He doesn't know the details, but doesn't matter. He needs to trust his team. The last Troll blocking his path tries to smash its fist down on the Elf, but Bastiel moves between them and parries the punch with a circular motion, deflecting the blow off to the side. "Go!'

E'Sarinn doesn't delay and dashes forward with tremendous speed. With a leap he strikes with both swords. He lands gracefully on his feet, Troll blood oozing off his blades. The amputated arm of Schlom plops down beside him. However, when he looks, he sees that whatever it once held is no longer in its grasp. As he turns to face Schlom he sees the Troll chewing his meal a few times and then swallowing.

H'Dargoyn continues to dodge the Troll trying to rip him to shreds. Simple daggers won't be enough against a Troll. If he's to stand a chance he'll need to use something more powerful. He takes a deep breath. Suddenly a large wolf pounces on the Troll. Fangs sink deep into the Troll's throat in a takedown attack.

Haven moves to the side of H'Dargoyn. "Sorry it took so long. So what exactly have we gotten ourselves into?" On the floor Pax continues to bite into the Troll, blood gushing out.

"In one of the backrooms I found something." As H'Dargoyn speaks the arm of Schlom starts to regrow in front of their eyes. The regenerative abilities required for such a feat is amazing. "A Vampire, its heart cut out."

Haven scratches his head. "Wait ... I thought attacking the heart made Vampires vulnerable. Shouldn't it have withered away?"

H'Dargoyn shakes his head. "I said it was cut out. I did not say impaled. No one has ever tried to remove a Vampire heart while it still lived. Seems they can survive, but in an unending torment, unable to move or do anything other than exist in a state of perpetual agony. Meanwhile a Cannibal Mage can eat the heart and gain all of its abilities."

"That doesn't make sense though. If he already had the heart, why keep it around?"

H'Dargoyn shrugs. "Hard to say, but I would speculate to keep it safe. If someone found the body and killed it, he would have lost the heart as well. Even without being able to stake it, sunlight or running water could do the trick. Unfortunately neither is readily available in our current environment."

Rock battles the Vampire empowered Soul Eater. He lands one of his best punches dead center on the Troll. Schlom stands there as if nothing happened, and then comes down with a claw strike that rips into the Dwarf's body. Slash after slash he tears into flesh.

There's a crackling sound. Heightened Vampire senses and reflexes allow him to respond with supernatural speed, grabbing Rock and holding the Dwarf up over his head. A bolt of lightning streaks down from the ceiling and crashes down into Rock. Q'Uetel gasps, then he glowers at the Troll. Whispering a few words under his breath he stretches his arm out in front of him and a Magic Net releases from his hand. Schlom throws Rock at him. The net ensnares the Dwarf, and the momentum carries both him and the spell back to Q'Uetel. The two smash into each other and tumble to the ground, entangling both further within the Magic Net.

A group of arrows pierce the back of Schlom. While he looks like a pincushion for a moment, the arrows drop to the ground as his rapid regeneration pushes them out. His gaze turns to the upper balcony to see Shooter. The Gnome stands there, defiantly, looking ready for the challenge. Before the Soul Eater can act, Pax leaps at him. He manages to get his arm up in time, but incisors sink into muscle. Schlom grimaces and flings his arm. The fangs of Pax rip out of the flesh as the wolf is sent soaring across the room.

Before Pax slams into the wall, Haven moves in the way and catches his companion. The force is too much even for the stocky Dwarf. Haven is sent smashing into the wall and crushed further by the weight of Pax, but his body acts as a cushion for the wolf. Haven winces and struggles to move. Pax nudges him with a wet nose. He smiles weakly, and Pax lets out a loud howl. Schlom looks down at his still bleeding arm and then at the wolf.

 

Outside the castle, a semi-transparent mist hovers around the team's campsite. The small ghostly figure with a vague humanoid shape is a Fire Sprite named Fenix. "Leave me to watch the gear will they? Well, wait until they see the little surprise I leave 'em. That'll show 'em what happens when you leave me in --" She stops and looks up as she hears the howl. Pax! Without delay she abandons her current machinations and streaks off at top speeds for the castle, a stream of vapor left in her wake.

Flying in through one of the upper windows of the great hall Fenix looks around. Below she sees Haven slouched against the wall. Pax is over him, howling in saddened pain. In her wispy feminine voice Fenix screams out. "UNFORGIVEABLE! WHO MADE PAX CRY?!"

"Fenix!" Haven grunts as he lifts an arm and points at Schlom. "There."

She scowls at the Troll. "Got it." She flies down and through one of the torches lining the walls, her entire body bursting into flames. With her full Elemental powers now active, she creates a massive Wall of Flames that engulfs the Soul Eater. Flames scorch both walls of the great hall and divide the room in half, setting some of the tapestries ablaze as well. The Gnome king narrowly rolls out of the way while Shooter is forced to leap off the upper hallway to the stone floor below to avoid being caught in the flames as well.

Schlom drags his body out of the inferno, his skin singed from the magical flames. He coughs from all the smoke. By the time he emerges though Fenix has already created two Flame Licks, one in each hand. She lashes out with them like paired whips, searing more flesh from the monster's body. Schlom raises himself to his feet, pushing through the pain as he advances upon Fenix.

Before he can come any closer a silver spike pierces his heart. Slimy blood gushes from the wound. The spike is attached to a chain that leads back to the hands of Bastiel the Empty, the other half of his chained sickle. E'Sarinn quickly moves in and cuts off the head with a twin sword slash. The Troll's decapitated head falls to the floor. Fenix cups her hands together and then unleashes a powerful Fireball on the head and then another on the body, and then another and another and another. The body is reduced to ashes long before Fenix stops pelting it with a barrage of Fireballs.

The head of Scholm burns, not even his stolen Vampire powers can heal him from that. As they prepare to leave, Pax walks up to the burning head, lifts a leg, and helps to put out the fire of the smoldering ashes.

E'Sarinn looks at the rest of the team; then turns to the Gnome king. He's still lying on the floor, crying. His kingdom is in ruins, his people slaughtered. The Elf looks down at the ground and closes his eyes. Nothing can be done about any of that now. The only things left to do before heading home are to cut the king free of his bindings and make sure the vampire in the backroom is slain, if defeating Schlom didn't take care of that already. What a colossal mess this mission turned out to be.