A note from puddles4263


An extra two chapters due to my editor, who pointed out that 7 would put you at another cliffhanger. So thank him!

The Devastator lay exhausted before Tziech, its body broken, the light slowly leaving its eyes. Grimacing, Tziech sat upwards, holding onto his left shoulder as best he could. Even now, some of the Reavers and Aether Thralls were considering the merits of attacking him, weakened as he was by the fighting.

But that cut both ways, and a column of Spriggit mechs was cruising in the space left by the conflict between the heads of the two armies. But it was a boat in the tide, and it seemed that no matter how many of the enemies they killed, more crawled out of the ground, howling and fully formed. This was a Cataclysm for their world, Tziech suddenly realized.

And that was because… they were weak. The scope of this conflict was far beyond the ken of anyone he knew. They were pawns in a great game, borne out through different times and different locations, of the Progenitor versus this great other. As he tried his best to stabilize his injuries with the medicines given to him, Tziech wondered about the other.

Its minions were mindless and violent, content to sacrifice their bodies just to wound the opposition. It was a powerful dedication to a cause that scared Tziech. If this world hadn’t been pushed to the brink of destruction, brought to the edge of death… there would be no way to motivate an all-out struggle against the invaders.

If it had been more of a colonization, rather than an annihilation…

Around the time that Tziech felt he was well enough to move without worries of moving without worsening his injuries, a few Reavers worked up the nerve to approach him. But as they came, a figure appeared at his side, holding a long, beaten up spear.

“Thief,” Tziech said calmly, his face studiously still.

She nodded at him, a smirk on her face. “King.”

Then she went to work. The Monster King had only seen the Thief fight once, and that was a time where he was on the receiving end of her strength. She was an incredibly agile fighter, so much so that it seemed almost impossible all the ways she was able to contort her body and strike. She was a nightmare to duel with, just for the fact that she constantly forced you to make decisions regarding which part of your body you were willing to sacrifice in order to stop her.

Of course, these fodder had no ability to slow her down, and within 20 seconds, they were all dead. Tziech had to say, he much preferred being on her side to fighting against her.

“How’s your condition?” She asked, immediately after the enemies were clear.

There was a part of Tziech that wanted to lie, to tell her he was slightly wounded, or even that he was fine, and that everything… would be fine. And it wasn’t that he hadn’t intended to tell her exactly that, but when he opened his mouth, those words weren’t there.

They had been absorbed by the creeping cold inside of him, Tziech abruptly realized, and then laughed aloud, which caused the Thief to pale abruptly. He waved his hand, realizing the misunderstanding, and aiming to correct it. “I’m fine for now, but… I will not live long after the battle.”

Pursing her lips, the Thief said, “Maybe that would be true if you would be treated in a monster hut, but Spriggit technology is so advanced that they can regrow limbs. You’ll be fine.”

Perhaps, again, Tziech could have said nothing, just nodded, and followed her, but this time, it all had become too much. He wanted to share his decision, just once, before the end, with someone else. “, it was not my injuries from the battle against the Devastator that worry me so. It is… this right hand of the Progenitor’s.”

“What do you mean?” She said.

“The destruction it has caused is so great… and that comes at a cost. My own body is breaking apart. Right now… even my superior physique will collapse under its strain, given time.”

“What? He gave you that without warning you?” The Thief’s eyes turned dangerous, with a hard glint to them as she clutched her spear. Something was changing in her heart, as she doubted the plan, and the parts they both had to play.

So then, Tziech lied. “No, he told me. But I chose this. Its power is great. We needed it.”

“You’ve been using it this whole time.” The Thief whispered, her eyes wet.

Shrugging, Tziech said. “As I said, we needed it. Now, will you follow me?” He gestured towards the glowing beam of light that shot off into the sky, beyond a regiment of Aether Thralls.

After several moments of hesitation, the Thief nodded. But Tziech noticed how tight her hands were on the shaft of her spear. She had been taking it relatively easy, Tziech knew. Fighting to the best of her ability, of course, but not putting her life on the line. Not exhausting herself. And now, this ancient defender of the land was wracked with guilt, seeing Tziech’s own life leak away.

And for that, Tziech was sorry. But, just like he would sacrifice his own body for the greater good of this world of his, home of his monster race, he would sacrifice hers too.

Some things purposeful, some not.

Together, they moved forward and tore apart the enemies in front of them, the Thief skewering them, Tziech smashing them apart with brute force, freely using his right hand. There was no point in holding back now, the damage had been done to his body. What he lacked most at the moment was time, and any actions he could take to accomplish this goal faster…

When the enemies were clear, they stood before the band of energy, frozen for a moment by its majesty. It was blue-green, the color of coral in the clean sea. Tziech had never seen the sea, the true sea that wasn’t just a very large swamp, but immediately the color struck him of one full of life.

“Take my hand,” Tziech commanded.

“Which one?” The Thief countered with a raised eyebrow, but before he could respond she had grabbed his right one. Immediately, she shivered. “Great Progenitor, but your hand is cold.”

“Hold on tight,” Smiling in spite of himself, Tziech stepped forward. Immediately, he felt the strange energy of the pillar of light seize him, and begin twisting him. It wasn’t so much that he was moving, but that the world around him was folding in on itself, over and over, until….

They emerged from the pillar, finding themselves, as previously, on top of a low hill, but that was where the similarities end. The pillar they were next to now was a crimson red, the edges of it an angry violet color. Strange bones were arrayed nearby so that it seemed that they were standing in a graveyard, likely of a race of beings similar to the Devastator he just killed. Except for the specific bones around them formed great piles and sculptures, twisted, greying, monstrous things so that every individual bone seemed to blend together to become an undead land that surrounded them.

“Sweet oblivion,” The Thief whispered, looking up, and Tziech followed her gaze.

Floating above them were huge blue crystals, the same color as the pillar of energy in the Progenitor’s world. They seemed to be about as big as a city, and if one toppled down towards them, Tziech had no confidence in being able to survive the impact, let alone stop such a huge amount of force. Even with this right hand of his… it was completely on another scale.

As if on cue, his right hand twinged painfully, a reminder of what would happen to him. Tziech ignored it, his gaze staying upwards. Because beyond the crystals, the sky was split into a checkerboard, these jet black lines running across the sky, only showing these segmented squares of freedom.

This proved to be an incredibly apt metaphor, because as Tziech looked closer, he realized that those black lines were thick chains, crisscrossing this entire world. Around them, the world was empty, seemingly populated only by the bones, the drifting crystals, and then the huge chains binding the world. Tziech shuddered to think how large those chains must be, in order to cover all of that distance.

“Alright, let’s begin,” Tziech finally said, unsure what else they were supposed to do. He removed a small pouch from his pack and placed it upon the ground. The Thief held her spear aloft and closed her eyes, concentrating. Slowly, then with increasing speed, a strange greyness was released from the end of the spear, that fell to the ground, and began to spread out slowly. Where it touched, the color seemed to fade, and it became slightly obscure as if a thin fog was falling over everything in the world.

Then Tziech settled down to wait, wondering in what form the counterattack would arrive.


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