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A note from Wutosama

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Edited this on Valentines Day 14/2/20, while waiting for my baby to be born. 


"Team 7 and Team 9, set up a defensive line at Darling Point! Team 12 and 18, join up with the Militia at Point Piper. Team 4, rest up while Team 11 takes up Flight and defence buffs."

Gunther barked out orders to the remaining Tower Mages even the rising tsunami bore down upon the city.

The Evacuation Siren had gone out almost an hour ago, but even so, the city was a hot mess thanks to the jamming of long-range communications. Likewise, without the Tower's mass Teleportation Circles, the movement of Mages throughout the city stalled to a standstill.

"Team 8, pull back!"

A swell of frustration trampled Gunther's patience.

Even with a hundred or so Tower Mages, there was no way for the city to be defended without the fortress hovering above, retrieving casualties and sending out fresh combatants. All Gunther could do was try to slow the advance of the Mermen, hoping that someone else— his Master, Magister Ferris, or perhaps Alesia, managed to access the magical fortress and wrestle back its controls.

Already, the tide receded, giving the impression of a man drawing back for a king-punch. The magically generated tsunami was not as powerful as one created by natural forces, but it would suffice in sinking the city.

The Paladin observed the city from his vantage point. The Leviathan was likely going to make landfall near Elizabeth Bay, using its momentum to penetrate into the heart of the business district. Once the crustacean-cum-whale made landfall, its shells would erupt to reveal landing pods filled with malicious Mermen, their tridents ready to taste human flesh.

One on one, an NoM had no chance against a Mermen warrior, not even the fish-headed Scum Suckers. A low tier Evoker, however, could take a dozen Mermen, assuming the Mage was sufficiently shielded and protected by his allies.

In Sydney, the Militia drew Mages from all walks of life. In Mage affluent areas like Double Bay or Elizabeth Bay, there were everything from retired Maguses to entire families of mid-tier Mages. Conversely, should the Mermen penetrate into NoM affluent areas like Surry Hills or Redfern, they would have little to no contest in 'harvesting' the spoils of war.

Decades ago, during the Coral Sea Conflict, Gunther had questioned a captured Mermen Prince when they raided human settlements. The answers he had received from the bulb-headed Cephalopod was surprisingly mundane.

Humans encroached on the Mermen's waters.
Humans ate their young and hunted them.
Humans desecrated the holy sea.
In short, the Mermen fought a Holy War.

Later, when Gunther took on the position of Paladin, he was informed that the Mermen were not one clan, but hundreds of ocean-dwelling races. For the "Mermen" Kings, warring on humans was a way to unite the races, much in the same manner that Dark Age humanity once avoided total War in Europe by organising Crusades against the demi-humans of the Middle East.

Gunther watched his teams spread throughout the harbour, taking up positions and stringing together rag-tag bands of militia-men and women emerging from the offices and the seaside suburbs. These areas were supposed to be the safest zones in Sydney, protected by the largest, most robust Shielding Stations. Presently, however, they were the first line of defence.

A few kilometres out, the wave was now breaking, revealing the skyscraper spines of the Leviathan. From afar, the creature's carapace glinted magnificently in the afternoon sun, vibrant with its coral hills and crevasses. The entire Leviathan, when fully unearthed, stretched out about four football fields. From head to tail, the pea-brained relative of the dragon-whale measured close to a kilometre.

Gunther couldn't even begin to imagine how such a creature could be fed and kept in captivity, and yet the Mermen had tamed them. Each time a significant offensive was mounted upon a human city, one of these creatures would be dredged from the deep sea and brought to bear; powering through humanity's defences by dumb, brute force. Once out of the water, the creature would inevitably die from its crushing weight, but before its violent demise, it would wreak havoc upon the defender's city.

Gunther clicked his tongue distastefully and began to focus his mind.
The Radiant Magus produced a diamond as large as a quail's egg in one hand, then filled it with Radiant mana. Beneath his feet, layered glyphs appeared, forming into an elaborate Mandala. Closing his eyes and switching to this third-senses, Gunther concentrated his will until he could feel every facet of the masterful diamond within his cognisance.

"Focusing Array!"

The Paladin of Sydney released the first layer of the Mandala. The spell formed into a convex illusion that bent his powerful Radiant energy into a single point. A second layer of the Illusion allowed for the adjustment of his Radiant Strike's range, while a further third layer served to magnify its radius.

Within a second, Gunther's Ritual Magic consumed the priceless Asscher diamond— an offering to the Radiant beings that made their home in the Quasi-elemental Plane of Fire and Positive Energy. Grunting, Gunther shook the dust from his hands, taking a deep breath to dispell the spell-fatigue. As soon as the Leviathan struck the shallows, its head would rear— and that was the window he needed.

 


The low, grey clouds suddenly parted.

A retina-searing beam of unadulterated Radiance, bright as a second sun and just as hot, shot from the heavens.

It caught the Leviathan just as its armoured head emerged from the wave, a neckless, triangular thing with a dozen eyes the size of sedans, five-storeys in height, protruding from its bulbous, blubbery body.

Upon initial impact, there was a roaring hiss, as though the surface of the Leviathan's carapace had become a sizzling hot plate, sending chunks of coral and shellfish to fall from its ancient surface.

TSSS—!

A split-second later, the beam adjusted itself, becoming a thin line that concentrated the all-consuming flame of the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Radiance ten-fold.

In the section of the Leviathan, there came a sickening crunch. It was the sound of carapace popping and erupting as the superheated flesh violently erupted, rebelling against the body it was supposed to protect.

Some distance above, small as a speck, Gunther panted. His Radiant Beam persisted for a few more moments, then dimmed and died.

The sea that had been held back was now sloshing back into the bay. The radiant blast from the heavens had pierced the head of the Leviathan, utterly decimating its impenetrable armour.

Where Gunther's strategic array had struck, the Leviathan's neck was a bubbling mess of wet flesh and steaming seawater. The gaping cranial wound where the beam had struck sizzled, oozing enough slime to fill a lake. The Mythic's enormous body, which had been so vital a moment prior, was now slack and inanimate. On its sides, the Leviathan's claw-flippers no longer propelled itself forward. Having lost the driving force of its mountainous musculature, only its momentum compelled it to crash ahead, dredging the seafloor as it shovelled on.
Thankfully, the incline was now too steep to keep pushing its body; the thing was grinding to a ponderous halt, betrayed by the weight of its own body.


A Kraken had latched onto the sea cliffs overlooking Rosebay and was unloading its cargo of Mermen. The tentacles of the damned thing were enormous, flinging pods of shellfish that crashed into the Cathedral and its surroundings, tumbling and skittering into hapless Mages who were too slow to flee from their path.

Unfortunately for the defenders, they did not possess Magi-tech Engines or War Golems capable of repelling such barbaric tactics.

The six-storey tall squid was assaulting the Cathedral-fortress in the most primal manner possible— with uncalculated brute force. Having attached itself to the escarpment; the cunning creature had a tossing range far exceeding the defender's own.

The surrounded Mages scattered here and there, only to realise in the next moment that the damned shellfish landing amongst them were oysters that opened to reveal disorientated Mermen baying for Mage-flesh.

Alesia immediately took it upon herself to hold down the Kraken, chugging down three pots of Mana potions to top up her reserves. She was already well-drained from the battle with Elizabeth and saw no reason to preserve her potion cool-down, not when a cephalopod was raining down Mermen from the heavens.

The rest of the students, the seniors and the Mages with Ferris formed a battle line atop the Cathedral. The Abjurers had already activated the monastery fortresses' defences, fortifying its walls and creating a localised defence shield that warded away elemental attacks.

Their ration of mana cores, however, was woefully undersupplied. Since the creation of the Shield Stations meant that the immediate threats against coastal regions were non-existent; few of the existing fortresses of old kept stockpiles on hand.

With every oyster that struck the reinforced sandstone, the Rosebay's century-old Cathedral shuddered, sending up a wave of screams and squeals from the younger girls sheltered within.

For Gwen and company, their present job was the hunt down Mermen who were flung into the courtyard and the Cathedral's interior. Unlike new fortifications which used adaptive Shielding, the old fortresses lacked hard barriers.

In front of Gwen, a maddening melee ensured.

It was against these rubbery skinned, hard-shelled monsters that Gwen's Lightning element was finally showing it's true colours. Dressed in an armoured battle-robe that stank of blood, sweat, and fish; sporting a full bandoleer of mana and health potions, she summoned Ariel, her Warding Orbs, Morden's Hound, Lightning Tentacles, and her Conjured Storm all at once.

Each time a group of creatures accosted the lithe lightning sorceress, a cascade of azure electricity flooded forth, leaving no quarter. As she fought, her body filled with vigour supplied by her companions— Bless and Aid from Elvia; and Resistant Elements and Protection from Projectiles from Whetu.

When a car-sized oyster bounced off the sandstone walls and landed beside them; Gwen's convergence of lightning struck it with such blazing power that all of the occupants perished before they could exit.

"Jesus, I am going to be sick!" Yue made a gagging motion as the oyster spewed forth a mess of mangled carapace and rubbery flesh.

That was the boon of the lightning element in a fight against Monsters. Apart from its paralysing effects, electricity had the additional effect of ignoring the natural armour of the creatures.

Yue's flames, conversely, favoured soft, rather than hard-shelled targets.
Debora acted as the girl's bodyguard, smashing apart the fish-headed Mermen that tried to disrupt their spells, cracking open the shells of lobster and crab-men alike.

Whetu and Elvia played defence, as the other teams lacked Abjurers and Healers, helping the Rosebay girls who did their best to clear the cloister and the surrounding areas so that the younger students could be safely evacuated into the confines of the catacombs. There, waiting in the dimly lit passageways, they could safely await teleportation into the safety of the Tower.

"Lightning Bolt!" Gwen incanted again, watching a line of electricity take down three Mermen at once, one of the prawns' head popping like an overripe melon.

"Gwen, watch out!" Debora was squaring off against a heavily armoured Mermen in the guise of a king crab, wielding its massive claw as a shield as it menaced her friend. The Transmuter tried several times to penetrate its shield with Ground Spike to no avail.

"Debbie! To me!" Gwen called out.

As the Merman pursued, an invisible hound emerged from the aether and struck the creature's core, its electrical fangs tearing away at its carapace. Unfortunately, even paralysed, the resistance of the monster proved too much for a novice like Gwen.

"Caliban! Take care of it!"
"Shaa! Shaa!"
Caliban likewise, proved a mighty boon. Possessing the ability to negate hard armour, it launched itself from Gwen's shadow and latched onto the terrified crab-man via the means of its chitin-devouring lamprey's maw.

"I got you!"
Elvia shot Gwen a charge of positively charged mana as Caliban closed the gap between itself and a crab shock trooper. The crab-man chittered indistinctly as Caliban burrowed in with a gluttonous tenacity, emerging a moment later with a core which it swallowed hungrily.

Gwen felt her vitality restore a little. Between Elvia and Caliban, she could probably keep the wee beastie going for a while yet. The problem was that Caliban was only a single nightmarish creature from the horrors of the void, where everywhere they were inundated by slavering mermen.

How was Alesia doing? Gwen's mind turned to her friend and sister-in-craft. So long as the Kraken lived, there would be endless cohorts of these mindless Mermen hellbent on trying to harvest their Mage flesh.

 

Alesia's frustration was enough to ignite the air.

Half-a-dozen Mermen Priests were riding atop the Kraken and flinging a fusillade of spells at her even before she approached within a hundred meters. Ice Spears, Blizzards, Water Bolts, Jet Blasts, it took every ounce of Alesia's combat intuition to duck and weave without turning into a pincushion for watery projectiles.

She attempted a riposte but was half a second too slow. An Ice Bolt skimmed her and activated her reactive Flame Shield.

"Arrgh— Fuck!"

She knew what the cursed fish-heads were trying to do. They were trying to incapacitate her, slow her, so that she would be easy prey for a boulder toss from the Kraken or the Mermen below. In turn, she wanted nothing more than to throw them a sweet little Delayed Blast Fireball or perhaps initiate a Blade Barrier, but the damn spells were limited in range.

Never in her life had she been kited by monsters, and yet, here she was, struggling to get within range. Again and again, she tried to penetrate their barrage, but each time she was beaten back.

"Damn pieces of amphibian shit!" Alesia willed her flame to burn hotter. If Taj was here, he could have tanked their feeble spells while she readied an invocation of mass destruction.

Just as she was wondering if she should just risk her skin and Blink in, a Message spell bloomed close to her ear.

"Magus de Botton!" a voice called out beside her ear.

Alesia felt her heart suddenly soar. Was the Message System back in service? She tried to activate her Device, but still, the Message failed.

"This is Ferris!" the voice spoke again. "I am using my Divination to communicate with you."

"I need help!" Alesia confessed. She didn't want the Grey Faction's aid, but they had to get rid of the Kraken somehow. There was no way Ferris would agree to use her personal key to teleport them into the Tower when the children were not yet safe. "Help me take care of this thing, and we can all get to the Tower!"

"That's precisely what I had in mind." Ferris' voice was commanding and assured. "I still have two hundred kids in here. The Cathedral is not going to hold out once the main swarm gets here."

"What can you do?" Alesia demanded.

"I am going to create a diversion!"

Alesia felt the air around her shimmer.

There were first two, then three, then four of her, all realistic and identical in every way. She touched one and was surprised to find that the false Alesia had a flesh and blood body.

"It's a Mirrored Simulacrum," Ferris explained. "They're going to be the distraction. I am going to glamour you with an Advanced Invisibility, but it will dispel if you use high-tier spells. Is that enough for you to get close?"

"It'll do." Alesia grinned, assuring the Magister confidently. "They won't know what hit em."

"Right, here goes!"

There was a glimmer, then the light around Alesia displaced itself, masking her presence.

"Good hunting!" Ferris' Message cut out, she was having her hands full maintaining three Simulacrums.

A master of Illusion. Alesia felt a sudden paranoia that Ferris may have been a part of what had entrapped Henry, but when she'd given it another moment of thought, it was highly improbable. Ferris had been beside her Master almost the entire time, and though Alesia did not trust herself to see through Ferris, she entrusted Henry's intuition. The Illusion spell Alesia had also felt was different from the ones that were taught in the Tower. Having now experienced Ferris' Invisibility buff, she felt confident Ferris wasn't involved.

Alesia cast her doubts aside and set herself to the task at hand. She was her Master's hammer, and once the Kraken was down, they could enter the Tower and seek out Walken. With the Tower restored, they could repel the tide of Mermen, and all would be well.

Alesia circulated her flaming mana, readying her body for the carnage to follow.

Already the Simulacrums were moving in rapidly, cutting across the air expertly with the same grace and dexterity that Alesia herself possessed. They were even flinging low-level incantations like Fireballs as they dodged and waved through the spells and tentacles.

Alesia materialised a ruby-laden dagger in one hand, an exotic blade with sinuous designs of engraved flames that seemed not of terrestrial origin. Its handle and pommel were encrusted with rubies the size of pigeon eggs, priceless jewels by any measure.

Her breathing slowed.
The price of power was high.

"O Efreet, Spirit of flames, heed my call…"

A glyph appeared beneath Alesia's feet, three circles bisection to form a triplicate mandala, spinning faster and faster until it created a direct channel into the Elemental Plane of Fire. The air around Alesia instantly ignited, purifying the mortal cloth that clung to her skin. The spectacle lasted only half a second - for in the next moment, the channelled heat from the Elemental Plane of Fire drew into her body.

The dagger bit into the palm of her hand.
Alesia blood was magma, and her eyes were two golden suns.
She was now flame-clad, a sensuous Djinn native to the land of primal fire, whose bellowing hair flinging out behind her formed a warm of buzzing firefly embers.

"Alrighty then, you fish-faced fucks," she muttered vehemently, her eyes glaring at the Kraken. In her Efreeti form, all who challenged her should beware; for here stood the Scarlet Sorceress, she who eat foes like air.

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A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref :: 


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Wutosama

Bio: I write on the phone and edit at home. Times are tough!

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