Jian breathed in deeply, as he stood shoulder to shoulder with his people.
Standing at the northern shore to which they had retreated to, they faced the jungle ahead, as monsters clashed above it.
A hybrid winged Devil soared through the sky of Zrosian daybreak, wielding two massive fiery halberds, one per hand. Brazath shook the very air around himself as he flew, his wings spewing flames and frost as he swung his weapons with hellish power.
Moving without thought, the Devil Prince was a whirlwind of death.
Faced with the undead Ascal, as he expertly parried the Devil’s attacks with the metal end of his staff. His senses heightened by the undead energies which surged through his mind and body, still at best Ascal could only hold Brazath at bay.
As the drums of battle below, played.
As from the jungle, corpses, skeletons and mounds of mangled flesh, walked out.
Jian stopped trying to count as his mind approximated over a million, far beyond what he had ever seen, far beyond even joint Zrosian army.
A horde of monstrosities approached, and his bow was ready.
But his hand, shook, Jian trembled as he knew…
He knew it matters not how many he slew, how many he defeats. As there was simply too many, and none of their lives mattered.
None of them had lives to speak of.
Jian knew, that every man and woman he stood with now, would soon be dead or undead.
And this knowledge, drained him from any potential at anger or frustration.
Jian, as did many amongst the Zrosian…were filled with acceptance.
They all accepted, that this was a shit day to die.
And as the drums played.
As the horns sounded off the dreadful tunes, and arrows filled the sky.
As cannons, ballistae and mages barraged the horde, joining into the melody.
Just as emotionless as the coming undead, the Zrosians charged.
Shouting as one, but this was no battle cry.
This was no cry of battle…This was a cry of despair.
And filled with that despair, they each stepped forth.
They each, swallowed their pride and honour, and put everything they had into bravery.
As they all knew, bravery was the last thing they had left, a tiny hope at being remembered.
Even though, none of them had any hope remaining; Stolen away, by the empty sockets of the risen dead which faced them.
Which charged at them, their seemingly frail bodies, filled with power beyond this world. It drove the dead forth, maddened souls thirsting for redemption…hungering for blood.
And as his form appeared out of the horde, even the Zrosian’s despair was cut short.
As Kailu’s scythe shredded through their numbers like a hot knife slicing through butter.
Smiling, ecstatic by his surroundings, Kailu fought full-heartedly.
Enjoying every swipe, every step, every passing moment filled with blood and gore.
Kailu felt power fill him like nothing before, as he sensed each and every wayward soul which thrashed madly around him, tearing away at the living they faced.
Each death, each wound, each drop of blood which filled the air.
As such, Kailu bellowed, “No more, shall we kneel. No more, shall we lay in shackles…No more…Xilfir I am, and free I stand!” He shouted, drowning the hearts of his enemies with the coldest of fear.
As they saw not a Xilfir stand before them.
And if had they survived coming within his sight.
Any one of them, would sing of a Demon wielding an ungodly scythe, walking this land of dead rising back from the earthly grave.
They would sing.
They would cower.
They would wish they could forget…but alas.
Kailu left no survivors.
So, no song could be sung.
Not unless Ascal had anything to do with it, as he watched the boy lead his risen army from above, barely keeping up with a Devil King’s spawn. Ascal watched what he wished he could be, having seen the spark of destiny within the boy’s own eyes and not his own.
Ascal knew what had to be done.
As he briefly retreated from the Devil’s range, Ascal faced Brazath with his undead eyes.
“Hah! Had enough now!?” Brazath exclaimed, arms wide as he chuckled. “Do you give up? Or shall I make you!?” A fanged grin across his face as he met the Lich’s gaze.
“Give up? But I’ve only just begun…” Ascal mused, spinning his staff back face-up.
He glanced at the skeleton’s crimson eyes, as the tendril of darkness still lay fuelling the weapon albeit having travelled so far from his hourglass.
Ascal smiled, for he had called out to summon the hand of a Death God, but he knew that in return he had received something much worse.
Ascal, sensed the difference within the connection. He sensed the hell within those eyes, and as those eyes realised that he had, the deception fell.
The skeleton’s eyes shifted from a bloody crimson, to a dark violet.
“Whoever you are,” Ascal whispered, “You cannot outsmart me, but, I’ll have to admit…” He turned to face Brazath, confusion now filling the Devil’s expression as he heard this Lich speak with his own staff.
“I came here, ready not just to die, but to disappear. To watch each and every one of my men fall dead. To be remembered as a martyr…” Ascal sighed, “I cannot defeat this Devil…But you can…can’t you?”
No response came from the staff, no more than the eyes briefly shining brighter, even then Ascal questioned if it was merely a figment of his own undead imagination.
Yet still, Ascal knew what he had to do.
He couldn’t sense it before, but it couldn’t hide now, not as it fuelled itself by the thousands of undead which surrounded it.
Ascal sensed Kailu’s weapon resonate, with each soul cut down, with each corpse walking, with his very staff.
Ascal sensed it, and he sighed. Clenching the staff, he turned, giving his back to Brazath. “Very well, then, can’t say I’m not intrigued by the smallest chance of…further glory.” Dropping his staff, he then felt the searing energy fill his insides as Brazath’s axe-blade dug into his back.
Turning his head about, Ascal saw the Devil Prince’s maddened grin, disappearing as Brazath then saw Ascal’s amused smile.
The Devil’s eyes moved downwards, seeking the falling staff, yet he did not see it anymore.
“What…No!” Brazath exclaimed, shredding through the Lich’s body, he dissipated his weapons before grasping Ascal’s now beheaded skull.
As it continued to smile.
“What have you d-done!?” Brazath asked, caught off-guard and unsure for the first time in this realm, the Devil Prince did not understand Ascal’s actions at all.
And that…fuelled him with rage.
Brazath wouldn’t be outplayed by some parlour trick, Brazath couldn’t be outsmarted…Or at least, that is what the Devil told himself.
As he met Ascal’s dissipating smile, as the Lich spoke five final words. “Honestly?...I don’t even know.” Laughing hysterically thereafter, even when Ascal’s voice had stopped and his head had dissipated, Brazath still heard the laughter ring within his mind.
As suddenly he sensed a rise in energy below.
Looking back down, he now saw the staff.
As Kailu held it in one hand, as he stared up with wide eyes at the rest of Ascal’s body, falling whilst it dissipated to dust.
The ground around him shook then, Kailu was forced to take a step back, as the monster of a Devil Prince landed down before him.
Crushing dozens of undead merely beneath his feet, Brazath loomed over the young Xilfir.
“So then…Are you the last resort!?” The Devil Prince exclaimed, and Kailu was frozen solid before him.
All that he had just said, it meant nothing anymore to Kailu as he stood below this monstrosity of a being.
Fear, fear filled Kailu as he faced Brazath.
Knowing that there was no way he could fight this beast alone, or even with a million undead corpses.
Still, through that terror Kailu responded. “I’m just the beginning.” Kailu said, unsure where those words had come from, unsure why he moved at all.
Kailu struck at the Devil, only to be parried away by a simple slap of the hand.
His scythe being sent flying through the air, it landed all too far for Kailu to recover, as Brazath next kicked at him.
Sending Kailu soaring this time, the young Xilfir tumbled over the bloodied shore, grasping onto the staff for dear life as he rolled over reddened sand.
Coming to a stop, Kailu briefly stared up at the rising sun above, taking in a deep breath before standing back up.
Seeing the undead army around him falling inanimate to the ground, due to Ascal’s disappearance.
Seeing the light within Ascal’s staff dim, then dissipate, Kailu threw it aside.
Breathing heavily, hearing his own heartbeat drumming away within his ears.
Kailu stood tall, facing the impossible foe before him.
As Brazath chuckled, “Of course…A farce! To piss me off…After failing! That damn corpse…” the Devil Prince reasoned, sensing the power within Kailu draining away.
Brazath stepped forth, smiling widely, eyes focused on the mongrel before him. “Such a brave little child…Such a poor fool! Your master is dead, your Emperor will be next!” He exclaimed with great amusement.
Kailu couldn’t feel his own body anymore at this point, the terror freezing him stiff, still he forced himself to remain standing. (“Move…Damnit…Move!”) He mentally shouted at himself.
As he trembled, as his body shook.
As the voices returned…
(“You cannot move boy, you cannot match this one’s aura.”) The being in his mind explained.
(“Even then…I have to move! I have to…I have to!”) Kailu struggled, as the Devil’s full power befell upon his small body, holding him in place.
As Brazath now stepped to stand over Kailu once more.
Raising his hand up, a crimson hammer appeared within it.
“Brave, Foolish, and now…” Brazath slammed his hammer downwards, “DEAD!”
(“I have to fight!”)
But he stopped, Brazath’s hand pausing mere feet from crushing Kailu.
His eyes widened, aghast with surprise.
Kailu had moved, Kailu had managed to move, as his fist lay planted into the Devil Prince’s leg.
Having done nothing at all, but utterly piss Brazath off, as the monster’s expression warped with rage.
(“Hah…Well done.”) The voice then said, (“Now…It’s my turn.”) It mused.
Brazath’s expression then returned to surprise.
As the Scythe suddenly returned into Kailu’s grasp, the boy’s eyes now pitch black as he stared straight into the Devil Prince’s.
Losing its form, the Scythe turned fully to darkness and engulfed Kailu, forcing Brazath to step back and away.
The tendrils of darkness swirled, quick and sudden movements, they formed a sphere the size of Brazath himself.
As out of nowhere, the staff rose up and dove into the sphere, disappearing within…
Followed, by the thousands of corpses which splattered this beach they stood on.
Barraged by flesh, Brazath flew away, taking perch up in the sky he watched the amalgamation of dead squelch and squish as the black hole devoured them all.
To the very last bone, the orb of darkness absorbed it all.
A pause then followed, a moment of cold silence.
Followed by the dark orb dissipating, revealing Kailu within.
Until a dark hole opened within his chest.
And out of it, first a skull rose out.
Wickedly black, horned too, the skull was unlike any being of Faetera.
Following the skull, was a staff of bones, as it bent forwards whilst pulling itself out.
Ending, in two double-edged and curved blades.
The whole thing was massive, sending an explosion of sand as it fell to the ground before Kailu.
As Kailu himself fell to his knees, breathing heavily, he couldn’t even explain to himself what he had just felt.
As the weapon lay before him, all too large for him to wield, still he placed his hand upon its handle.
Dark tendrils of violet energy grew out, surrounding his arm and holding the weapon tightly into his palm.
Kailu raised it, effortlessly just like before albeit its size.
He, just as Brazath, scanned the weapon’s appearance.
Its dreadful accessories of bones and remains.
Its wicked blades, wide enough to slice off a Mammoth’s leg with enough force.
And…Kailu then saw the inscription at its peak, laying at the widening staff between the two blades.
He rose to his feet, staring at the symbols…at the words he somehow understood.
Kailu read the inscription as a single word, as a name he thought…
And that name read as…
“Zeokul…” Kailu whispered, and the skull's eyes lit up violet.
"Hah...Hahahaha~" The skull laughed.
"Guess who's back?"