The Maul still beat me to him, even charging as I was, raining loose lava droplets behind it. I was coming in hot and hard, a long line of mist from my Sandals forming a swaying road behind me as I skated in at full guns.
Which was really, really fast at this point. Like, 200' movement base. x5 speed at full throttle, so 1000 feet in six seconds. Approximately 120 mph.
That meant that when that fifty-foot greathammer came rushing up behind and past me in the magma, I actually hopped over to land on it.
“All you are and all you’ll be
Naught but salvaged parts for She!
Tremble, She COMES!”
His brains weren't slow, but he couldn't hide the startled look on his face as I came riding in at him on the back of his own Maul. As it flipped up to plant its haft in his hand, I pushed off, clearing his other hand swiping at me with Mobility and my Shield Stand driving my AC past 60, and arrived at his face sixty feet above the ground.
Didn't this just satisfy ALL the conditions to max out a charge. I cut down with a shrieking Blade six feet long, starting with his right eye and crossing his face.
Yeah, there was a lot of magic trying to stop me. My Sword was at +X, he had DR/Lawful and Epic. I satisfied the DR with Obeisant active on Tremble, but +X would have also overwhelmed it, too. Double satisfaction meant that Lawful and Epic protection was now Anathema’d and an allergy in the hands of a Null. I was now an arm of Reality saying "FUCK YOU" to this oversized bastard, and not only was I slicing space and the magic that held this primordial fucktard together, Law was coming in to burn the Chaos he was made of and set his soul to screaming in agony.
“Scream to Heaven, this is your fate!
Loose your fear, vent your hate!”
Banefire, lawfire, and anathema boiled through his skull, setting his mind and soul on existential fire. His scream of agony would have ruptured the eardrums of anyone without some hefty Thunder resistance, and his Aura of Profane Fire exploded like a point-blank bomb.
Both ran into my Null and didn't do a damn thing to me, even as his big ol' throne was blown apart into flaming chunks like paper-maché. I was falling at a controlled rate, unable to fly, sliding to one side as he reeled back from the horrible wound literally splitting his face and those too-perfect features apart. His control was going, his bronze skin was start to warp and blacken, erupting with pus and sores as the corruption at the core of his being was released and came boiling out.
Gotta watch those minor disruptions to your concentration, sport, I thought at him.
I saw another surge of power as he tried to heal the wound, and Blooding backed by +X waved a finger at the naughty child.
Left leg, kick off, right leg. Tendons snapped like cables, muscles stronger than steel were shorn clear through, and his legs began to buckle, unable to take his weight. Thirty tons is a bunch to keep upright and motile like that.
“You are Nothing! Nothing! YOU WILL DIE NOW!
A MEATY OAF, A FATTED SOW!
TREMBLE, oh oooo oh oooo, TREMBLE, SHE COMES!”
I kicked off to the side, arcing away as he flailed at me with his Hammer, his body hitting the ground sixty feet away. I immediately leapt away as a cataclysm of multiple tons of runemetal came smashing down in a one-handed blow, spraying magma shards in all directions and turning the thirty feet around the impact point into an instant lava pool as a wave of Profane Fire moved through it, in perfect time with the spreading shockwave from thirty tons of armor-clad Thanotopic Titan crashing to the ground.
Sixty feet was more than enough distance to work up another charge.
One burning eye was fixed on me in hatred and fear as he tried to pull his Maul back, couldn't beat me in time. His other hand came lunging for me; I moved between fingers nearly as tall as I was before he could clench them shut, accelerating past them, coming past to drive my Sword up into his nose, and from inside his nasal cavity, fire off a Shardblade up into his brain.
Being in physical contact with him, I could Tremble-see the thrust punch through bone nigh as strong as adamant, plow a burning path through his spinal cortex… and I'd swapped Blooding back for Vivic.
His spirit screamed, and I bounced away as his last reflex sent his Maul pounding back into his own skull, trying to crush me. His face caved in around the impact point, fire exploded out from the Maul and his burning blood… and was shot through with hungry, hungry vivic fire riding double Banes and Anathema to do its thing.
“TREMBLE! SHE COMES!”
Anyone with spiritual awareness would have felt the air shaking as the Titan died and was Fed to the Land. These fuckers didn't have a reincarnation cycle, and their souls weren't going to get snatched away to some other plane to reform a body. No, this bastard was getting ripped apart and fed down into the Land, and I imagined the Spirit of the Mountain was about to get a massive shot in the arm.
His final thoughts as he stared into the maw of the Land reaching up to make him into a passing snack I left for him to think.
All of which wouldn’t stop me from doing what I had to do. This fucktard had a whole lot of blood, and I still wanted his hair and tendons, and the bonesteel that could be made from his skeleton was nothing to laugh at. Of course, I had to get his armor off him and would need to flip him at least once, but that's why they paid me the big dinero...
An hour or so later…
A musical call like a thunder concerto rolled across us from way up high. I looked up, rolled my eyes, and kept at my task for a moment. Tendons didn't harvest themselves.
Argos' crew was pretty enthusiastic about all this, and very respectful at the way I'd taken down a Titan that damn quick. Tack on all the other shit I'd killed to get here, and they didn't get any funny ideas about being Casting Snobs when talking with me.
"Let it land," I Called out, Vajra giving my voice more than enough force to carry a long way. "Oh, and get off the Firebird. It wants the heart."
There were murmurs of discontent, but seeing the size of the Imperial Avian descending from on high, they got off the carcass they were plucking free of magnificent feathers and pumping dry of valuable blood remarkably quickly. Alas, we'd lost both eyes and the beak with its exploded head, but at least we'd get the talons.
The Vermillion Bird had a lot more yellows, oranges, and whites to it than the Firebird, roughly looking like a sixty-foot tall burning peacock-raptor with a fantastic train of complex, gorgeous fiery feathers nigh on two hundred feet long trailing out behind it. It, too, was a Twenty, one of the ruling species of all Birds, and another Lord of Fire. Only a Phoenix could be said to be nobler.
Argos' cutters had contained the vivic fire to the Titan's head long enough to extract his teeth, and they were preserving the Skull for a potentially Legendary-ranked Dreadskull in the future, so I had more time to complete this work. They were thinking that the bones would make great Cores for the ash-damping Obelisks a team of them was putting up. I admonished them to break the things up so some necromancer couldn't ever make use of them, they agreed to take precautions, and we were really cutting this primordial bastard apart. They had a marvelous respect for Tremble after watching her shredding the bastard's stone-hard flesh so easily.
I Skated over to the Firebird's half-plucked carcass, hopping up on its chest where it had been dragged out of the lava by the efforts of a few Earth Elementals Summoned up for the task. Without even bothering to look at the massive Bird looming over the carcass of its rival, I went up to the massive breastbone of the Firebird. Tremble lifted, and I noted the Vermillion Bird instinctively twitched backwards. I smirked privately as I cut down.
Steel-strong bone cracked and shattered, and was levered apart by the pull of the mighty muscles there. I cut through the entire breastbone and attached ribs, made another pass to the left and the right to crack the ribs apart, and stepped aside.
The Vermillion Bird moved with very disconcerting speed, striking with the speed of a woodpecker and pinpoint accuracy. I noted the Helmers taking a careful step or five back as they saw that power, and could picture the penetrating force behind that straight beak. The ribs and attached meat were levered quickly back out of the way, held down with one rose-taloned claw, and the faintly still-burning heart was exposed.
With a mixture of precise movements and savage wrenching, the Vermillion Bird tore the massive organ free of the Firebird's chest, and swallowed it down with obvious relish. Flames shot through the many hues of its feathers, and we could see the glow of the heart lighting up as it went down the Bird's throat and into its belly.
"Our bargain good?" I asked the Bird calmly in Cirrus, the language of Air and Avians, Tremble still out and in hand. The oddly blue eyes of the Bird fixed on me, probably thinking that it couldn't even get out of here until I left… and damn, did my Sword look lethal.
"Of course. Unlike mortals, we do not go back on our bargains," the Bird replied, voice all thunderous music in Cirrus.
I flipped Tremble over and sheathed it behind me for the moment, sighing and turning back to my work on the Titan. The Vermillion Bird backed off the Firebird and settled down like it owned the place, head held up loftily and pretending not to be extremely interested in what we were all doing.
Argos wandered over, trying not to smile. The feathers of the Firebird and all this Eternal-class Fireblood was indeed worth a fucking mint. His 162 people were making themselves useful, and now that the Bird was done, I gave them the go-ahead to resume chopping up the Firebird. There was a cauldron already made up safely away from the lava, patiently filled with water by one of the Priests, and a quick line of meat began to get thrown into the pot. I'd already given them the recipe, and they were giddy to try it.
Didn't have to worry none about boiling it, either. The Fire in the meat heated up the water plenty well as it leaked out, and as tons made their way into the pot, it was soon starting to boil from the heat of its contents.
Argos had actually had some people teleport out to a Cache-something somewhere to get the other things to throw into the stew. This was going to be one fucking epic bowl of eats.
"You made a Bargain with an Imperial Avian?" he asked me, watching me slice Titan muscle off bone, and harvest tendons in passing. Stone Shaped ten-gallon jars of Titan blood were lined up neatly to the side, Exsanguinated from the bastard, so there was remarkably little mess.
I pointed with my Tail, very precisely in a direction off thataway. "She was nesting in one of the peripheral Volcanoes. I wiped most of the random Elementals, but she didn't seem hostile, so we got to talking. She's the last Eternal-level creature in the area, and she agreed that if I rid the area of the others, she'd take over dominance of the Charlands, get the fires under control, and work on restoring it to a level of natural beauty, if possible.
"She probably approves greatly of your Obelisks, and I can tell she's watching the Firebound closely. As an Eternal Patron, she can probably support ten of them, possibly a whole lot more if she calls on the power of the Imperial Avians."
He pursed his lips. "Is… there a True Phoenix around?" he asked, eyes shining. They were the majestic rulers of the Avians, heavenly creatures of deeply Good leanings and awesome beauty, by all accounts. Of course, none of us had ever seen one in-game... and by his reaction, in reality yet.
"I've got no idea, Argos. I've been killing Fireborn in a charland for five months or so, now. I have no idea what is going on anywhere." He blinked. "Hells, man, I had no idea if there was anyone else alive until I saw that Archer floating invisible up in the air there behind me."
"Um. Wow." He shook his head, looking at me. "You have missed a lot."
"Yeah? So did you all." He turned his eyes on the Titan, the Firebird, found himself agreeing with me.
"Seven underbosses?" he asked slowly.
"All with elemental armies like that one out there?"
"Somewhat lesser, but a lot more random shit had to be killed around their calderas, too. It got worse as time passed."
He took a contemplative breath. "I'm going to take a wild guess and say you weren't any less busy than we were."
"Well, I paid off a Rank F Karmic debt, what's that tell you?" The semi-metallic skin of this brute was also a treasure, although one we wanted to keep rather hush-hush. Humanoid skins were one of those edgy comps, but how could we waste this stuff? The people who wore light armors would probably lynch us if we let it vivify...
"That your Glory Award was pretty monstrous for a solo play of this scale," he returned immediately. I inclined my head in agreement. "So… how are you set for dealing with undead?" he asked slowly.
"You mean those Marches your people were talking about and trying to impress me with?"
"Them's the ones," he nodded without batting an eye.
"Boss Four was a Magmawight." He blinked at me. "I think it sucked in all the dead for a hundred miles around at least, turned them all into Fire variants. Killed them all, killed it, was basically taking showers in pyreflame for hours on end. Stuff tastes like burned shit, you know."
"It does," he agreed calmly. "I'm surprised it didn't go traveling to gain more followers."
"It was subordinated to the Titan, didn't come from Terra. Whatever power was behind it wanted it to guard its Portal, so it stayed put." I started on the Titan's left foot, working with deft strokes for my treasured tendons. "So, we've got to kill ALL the dead people, eh? That should keep us Karma-whores busy for a while....”
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- Auburn, Michigan
Bio: Editor of online webnovels, mostly at Webnovel and Wuxiaworld. Also edit Ebooks. Long time video gamer, former MMO player, lifelong [email protected] fan and RPG guy, fan of both science fiction and fantasy. Don't ask me to choose between Trek and Wars, I love all the Stars.