I feel it, the weapon spirit replied, feeling slightly disappointed.
Roland resolved himself to leave the dungeon, walking up to Mira. He opened his mouth to speak, but the dungeon’s focus intensified.
I - I can’t speak!
Then, he halted mid-step against his will.
Red, I can’t move!
It didn’t take long until Mira noticed. Her eyes flitted around warily, but nothing was apparently wrong. She rested her hands on either of his shoulders, meeting him halfway.
“Roland?” she asked, concerned. His entire body shook as he tried to fight against the presence of the dungeon. It willed him to be still. Demanded him to acquiesce, to ‘stay and wait’. It niggled at his mind intrusively, trying to breach into his inner palace.
Red roared, his consciousness slamming against the dungeon's. His resistance was brief, but it gave Roland just enough time to mutter, “Get me out -”
But it was far too late.
A hostile Golden aura washed over the procession, and the limited light dimmed as Shadow Walkers stepped out of the darkness behind them. A silver stream pierced two of them with ease, but they numbered in the dozens.
“What’s going on?” she shouted as a silver bow materialized in her hand. She drew back, and a massive arrow zipped forward to pierce through a half-dozen of the ambushing shadow devils. “Hendricks, to me!”
The battlemaster didn’t hesitate, rushing forward with his massive war ax, cutting down a Shadow Walker with three powerful swings. He was far slower than Mira when it came to slaying the devils, but he still made short work of them.
The trainees were stunned into inaction by the overwhelming might of the Gold aura and only moved again when Mira’s own slammed outward to combat the effect.
As fast as Mira and Hendricks tore through the Shadow Walkers, it wasn’t nearly fast enough.
Move! Red roared inside Roland’s mind. The Heir tapped the ground with his foot and sent himself flying through the air as a tear ripped open in space. A hand grasped at the empty air where Roland had previously been, denied its prize.
Another hand pierced through the rip in space, widening as it stuck its shoulders through.
Devil Lord, Yugmuswa - Gold
Regal in visage, the crown of horns that tops the head of this majestic devil attests to its power. As the first minion of the dungeon, it is by far the strongest and commands the will of the other devils within the dungeon as if they were its own direct subordinates from the Lands of Halla themselves. This Lord has been Named, blessed by the dungeon it so vigilantly protects.
“There you are,” it hissed out, rupturing the eardrums of the trainees.
Roland, run! Red manifested in his human form and caught the Heir before he slammed into the cave’s wall, pushing him back toward where Hendricks fought.
“You can’t escape me now, spir- gah!” It roared as a silver arrow slammed into its chest, but the attack harmlessly bounced off its armored chest. It glared at Mira with its pitch-black eyes. “You’ll have your turn, wench.”
Yugmuswa pushed its body through the rip and stepped through, the air behind it imploding as the devil released it from its grasp. At its full height, it stood at least two heads taller than Hendricks, and the battlemaster was in no way, shape, or form a small man.
As the description said, it had a crown of horns jutting from its forehead. Jutting from its back was a massive pair of wings, and three tails stemming from its spine lashed around excitedly. Each tail was twice as long as Yugmuswa was tall, the entirety of each tail serrated with a three-pronged tip.
In its hand, it carried a massive blade of obsidian-flame. Its heat threatened the stability of Red’s human form, and he felt the Essence that made him warp - but oddly enough, he felt some semblance of familiarity toward the energy.
No, Red, it’s after you! Roland forcefully dismissed Red’s human form and returned the spirit to its home in its sheath, and then booked it as fast as it could.
The trainees cowered in fear before Yugmuswa, but as soon as they saw Roland rushing toward them, they turned to face Hendricks and the blockade of Shadow Walkers. Arnold, Maye, and Lana all took lead, the archers and mages firing over their shoulders into the swarm of Shadow Walkers.
Don’t look back!
But Mira -
Would want you to make it out of this alive, so keep going forward!
Roland lowered his head and rushed forward as fast as he could, sending wave after wave of golden Essence waves into the first Shadow Walker. His footsteps echoed on the cold dungeon floor as his breath grew short.
The fight between Yugmuswa and Mira boomed through the cave, but Red kept prompting him forward.
Once they got in range, Roland tossed a cascade of golden orbs forward. They rolled forward, spreading out underneath the Shadow Walkers, and detonated in unison. It cleared the first wave of the devils from the path temporarily, though it would leave their backs vulnerable if they didn’t push through fast enough, and leaped forward with the assistance of his magic.
As he flew through the air, a massive vortex pulled everything back in the direction that they had just come from. Roland flew backward through the air.
Red instantly manifested himself and grabbed the Heir, stabbing as powerfully as he could into the red cave’s ceiling to stop themselves from getting any closer to Yugmuswa.
No! Red roared in protest as a three-pronged tail sped toward the suspended Roland. Bloodred Blitz!
The copy-swords instantly materialized, barely deflecting the tail. The sucking force faded, and Red released his human form. Roland oriented himself as he fell, kicking off the air.
Red could feel the Heir’s heart hammering in his chest, equal parts fear and desperation sending adrenaline coursing through his veins.
Yugmuswa’s ability had knocked everyone off their feet, the trainees piled on one another. Hendricks quickly rebounded to resume his relentless assault on the Shadow Walkers, but there was no way to save everyone.
I know what you’re thinking, Roland, and you have to go. You have to!
Wracked with indecision, the Heir attacked the closest Shadow Walker, spilling its blackened guts onto the red floor as it nearly righted itself. I need more time to think!
You don’t have time, you have to -
A pained, shrill cry peeled through the air as the sound of shattering glass rained down on the ground behind them -
- and then Mira’s broken body slammed into Roland.
The momentum from her body carried both of them into the cavern wall, and she slumped to the ground.
Roland groaned, climbing to his feet -
Yugmuswa’s massive hand wrapped around Roland’s neck. An ear-piercing shriek - unlike anything Red had ever experienced - exploded out of Roland. He kicked and screamed, doing everything he could, but it meant nothing. His futile struggling against the Devil Lord’s overpowering grip only accelerated the smell of burning flesh filling the cave.
Rendered as helpless as a newborn, Roland couldn’t resist as Yugmuswa continued to scald his flesh.
Panicked and desperate, Red exercised his perception, pushing against his limits to search for anything that could save them from the dire situation.
A sinking feeling settled in his mind, a hopeless thing, as his perception billowed outward and took in their surroundings. They were completely and utterly alone - all their support had fallen in the inexorable chaos of Yugmuswa’s arrival.
Without the aid of Mira to thin out the Shadow Walkers, they ran rampant. Hendricks had been overwhelmed and run through by the Shadow Walkers, the devils feasting on the large man’s frame.
All of the trainees - Arnold, Maye, and Lana; the archer pair, the mage pair, and the trio of priests - they all lay dead on the ground, their bones to be picked clean long before the flesh could rot.
Mira, their last hope, lay broken in a pool of her own blood. Red could feel her life fading quickly, her remaining moments numbering a dozen seconds at most.
There would be no help for them. Red, resigned to watch the suffering of Roland from within his sheath, could do nothing.
With Roland in hand, Yugmuswa turned to stand before the rip in space. The Devil Lord eyed the sheath strapped to the Heir’s waist, a malicious grin showing his wickedly sharp teeth. Yugmuswa stared at the Heir as he lost consciousness, hissing in the devils’ tongue, “You’re coming with me.”
With Red strapped to Roland’s hip, the Devil Lord stepped through the tear in space with its new toys in hand.
Delirium threatened to claim Red’s mind as Roland’s screams ripped through the air - again. Red didn’t know why the dungeon wanted him - didn’t know why it continued to torment Roland - and he doubted he’d be getting any answers any time soon.
He tried to change forms, to do anything, but Yugmuswa’s overbearing obsidian-fire sword lay next to him and destabilized anything he attempted. When nothing worked, he was trapped with his thoughts.
With the shape Mira was in when Yugmuswa threw them through the spatial tear, Red didn’t have to guess whether or not she still lived. Not when her wounds were so severe, Shadow Walkers stalking toward her position where she lay prone.
He'd seen it before.
Their only hope had fallen.
Hendricks was dead.
Arnold? Gored, broken, and dead!
Maye and Lana? Food for the accursed shadow devils.
And then there was Roland. His wielder now suffered a torment worse than death.
His mind clouded and he pulled at the Essence that lingered in the air, but only the obsidian-fire moved toward him. Its scorching presence hovered over him as he reluctantly paused, but another scream of pain resonated through the air.
Resolving himself, he pulled the flame into himself, but he felt an adamant resistance. The wrath-flame refused to congeal with his current skillset, setting his inner palace alight as it tried to repurpose the Essence that fueled his skills.
I will not be erased!
He pulled again, wrenching the wrath-fire into himself for more Essence, turning inward. The black flame erupted from the fountain of blood, dilapidating the dais with his being - the thing that made him, him.
As if a dam broke, he felt a torrent of the invasive Essence flooding his being and setting him alight. It was too much, and he felt his identity start to fade, a mindless rage threatening to overtake him.
He attempted to fight it off, but he lacked proper control. It was winning, erasing him and replacing who he was with something foreign.
Madly struggling, he wrenched control of his accumulated Essence that swirled within the pool and erected a barrier, but the wrath-fire peeled away the layered defense with ease. Inside the barrier, the flame continued its destruction of his character.
Red started to feel hopeless in the face of the wrath-flame. Nothing he did worked. Attempting to suffocate the flame on the dais only gave it more fuel, its overbearing power assimilating the bloody Essence to fuel itself.
“I can’t -” he started, slumping back against the palatial throne. “I can’t beat it.”
Staring up at the sky, the cosmic orbs went unaffected to the struggles beneath them.
“If I can’t beat them, then I can only accept them,” Red muttered, releasing the barrier and infusing the wrathful flames with all the spare Essence he had. He drowned it, forcing it to convert into part of him.
Several moments passed without anything changing, the fire continuing to warp the dais, but then it did change. Instead of burning away who he was, it funneled itself into the dais, tainting the coloration bloodred flecked with crimson.
Once he controlled the process long enough, he had enough of the wrath-fire to protect his dais from the flood that still poured it, but same recognized same, and the Essence came under his control.
Standing, he approached the dais, his steps shaky as he felt something inside of himself darken as the transformation continued. He felt his teeth elongate in his mouth, his ears growing to the same length as the highest point of hair. Changes passed over his body in waves, further warping him until his past self was only a ghost of his new self.
His left eye remained the same golden orb, but his right became null and void. When he saw his reflection in the depths of the blood, he couldn’t decide on whether he admired or loathed the changes that reshaped him.
He raised a shaky hand to the dais, noticing how his skin was now paler than snow, and gripped its sides. Leaning on it for support, he observed the changes.
Red Braveheart, the Wrath-Touched | Weapon Spirit | D
Power - Silver | Durability - Silver | Attunement - Bronze
Once a simple sword, this blade has soaked up the lifeblood and Essence of countless soldiers. Tempered in great battlefields, dyed red from the lifeblood it has consumed, this spirit seeks a wielder to match its bloodlust and desire for further tempering. It’s still young, but its potential is boundless.
This spirit has taken on the surname of its first master in honor of his ferocity in battle and overwhelming might when faced against unfavorable odds. A deep adoration is seeded within the spirit. This blade wishes to be a blade worthy of its first master’s surname and will prove itself no matter the hurdles it must overcome.
To drink the blood of my enemies and prove myself worthy of my first master’s name, these are my only desires.
Bathing in the flames of wrath, this spirit has been Touched and reforged. Its spirit is split by its dichotomy, but a synergy appears between its lust for blood and its wrathful rebirth, empowering the spirit to a greater height.
My wielder will recognize my want of blood and wrath, even if they must be made to change to fulfill my will.
Innate: Two Forms
Passive: Sinful Wrath
Active: Wrath-Fire Incarnation
Power: Bloodred Blitz
“No!” he roared, slamming the dais with both hands. He slumped against the edge of the fountain and pulled his knees to his chest, whispering, “This is not who I am.”
So much had happened - so much had changed - and in so little time. It felt like the days he spent training with Arnold, Lana, and Maye had been so long ago. The day he sat across from Hendricks and questioned him of a dungeon.
Only he remained now, and it made him angry. He tucked his head in his hands, remembering all the lives lost - his failure to save them, to stop them from falling to the same tactics that claimed his first master.
Exploding with primal fury, he howled in the air until he could no longer think.
An indiscernible time passed while he lost himself to the rage. It took everything he had to be calm enough to think properly again, and even then, he knew the slightest provocation would send him back.
Now that the flames had been properly assimilated, he returned to himself. He hadn't won, the changes to his human form evidence of that, but he'd secured the deepest part of his soul and assimilated the energy - even if he regretted it now.
The half of his blade that rested closer to Yugmuswa’s massive weapon was now pitch black with crimson flecks sprinkled throughout, which the opposite was true for his other half. His form had been defiled by the transformation. Gone was the solid bloodred color that identified him, the color that he admired so much.
As he returned, the hostile flames reminded him of what they were!
Pain! The flame continued its attempts to warp at him, demanding their energy back, fighting him for control over the wrath-fire that was now deeply ingrained into his being.
Never had he experienced such pain, and the wrath-fire compounded his suffering as the Devil Lord raised him in his hand.
“You’ve done better than we ever expected, spirit,” the Devil Lord hissed in his guttural tongue. “You’ll make a far better weapon in time, but first, I’ll have to finish playing with the human.”
Yugmuswa licked his lips, walking back into the room they kept Roland.
Roland, what -
What have they done to you?
“Spirit, you care for this mortal? In that case, this will be much more fun for all parties involved,” the Devil Lord laughed raucously, pressing the black half of Red against Roland’s mutilated form.
But, Yugmuswa ignored his pleading, driving him mad.
I’ll kill you. I’ll make you suffer!
I’ll kill you!