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Ava

As a viking I’ve known death since childhood and though I’ve Awakened my body has never attested to that for I have never lost my sorcery burn scars. Viking children are beaten to near death in our sparring circles, it is our way and how we remind ourselves that death is much closer than we usually believe. It could come at any time and though one may fight it with tooth and nail but ultimately it will come, inevitably. So rather than die at home having accomplished nothing go die there somewhere fighting and staring death in the face, preparing for it.

We are a tribe of people that throw themselves at fighting knowing exactly when our bodies are dying out, knowing exactly how we are when at the edge and about to begin our true battle as breath leaves us. I wield my poleaxe with practised ease batting aside the bolts of black frost shooting at me, mechanically I throw a vice-cleave slashing and hacking to whooping and hissing, translucent glows indicating the clashing of powers and skills against each other as my weapon kisses magic shielding with iridescent sparks.

Karibu rattles, It taking joy in the conflict and bashing It’s teeth against something strong, something resilient. We move around each other my opponent and I with our outer shields grating against each other in a magnetic repulsion, a few strong spells coming through my chakra shield forcing me to dodge. I lash out with Karibu now and then, It shooting out and extending to enjoy a lick at the mage’s direct body shield of mana~auria instead of the outer one keeping me at bay.

I can see the surprise on the stupid mages face every time I bypass into his direct shielding and it would be a comical sight had he not be good enough to delay me this long and put the kids in danger. The black-smoke spell thing coming through my chakra shielding sizzles on my leathers like black acid on contact, bubbling and burning on my neck and shoulder as it touches skin. I nearly flinch, gritting my teeth I swing horizontally having gotten him used to the force I was using I amplify releasing a phthartic with the strike.

Karibu’s edge slithers into an imperfection between to inner shield to sink into the mage’s side with a gurgling thump, I pull It back with a wrenching spray of blood and gore. The shriek of the mage half cleaved-in-half as he looks at his entrails in utter amazed horror is comical.

I giggle despite my worry jumping over him and sprinting towards were Aura, Nikita and Ingwe are valiantly keeping a mage busy. The mage is defending thrown attack-aids, concoctions that explode loudly with fire, acid, light, or frost thrown in numbers by Nikita and Aura while Ingwe strikes ineffectively but distractingly at the shield at angles with her spear.

I vault over a tree, swerve around another, watching from my periphery as Gaia hacks into the armoured guards around the mage harassing him. My arms are pumping at my sides, Karibu held in a vice grip in my right hand, I clad It as I run; a growl escapes my mouth as I swing the polearm through the air with my whole body, releasing a concealing sigrún. It doesn’t make a sound as it cuts eagerly through the air towards our prey with me sprinting not far behind. The mage keeps sending out a shockwave that activates Ingwe’s necklace shield-charm but otherwise he keeps his eyes mostly on defending the deluge of explosions, adopting his shielding admirably and quickly depending on the type of attack that reaches him.

Karibu destroys the mages head with a thump, the momentum of the weapon throwing the body sideways 20 metres with It’s power and weight.

With a salute the kids are already turning and running towards their fighting groups as planned, I pull my poleaxe out of the corpses head as I run past, noticing with approval the corpses of those that were supposed to guard the now headless mage strewn about with spear wounds and acid burns.

I assess the situation as I run to my own part of the perimeter, we have a contingency for when they get pass the perimeter but how did they get this deep within it? There are two other groups of mages with shielding warriors within the ring of our camp besides the two now out of commission but I’m glad to notice the majority of the fighting is at the outer edge. How did they get past our wards at all though, how did they get past Divina’s hawk-eye?

*

Michael

[Pop pop pop pop.]

I duck under cover ejecting my smoking clip and jamming a new one with familiar practised ease, arrows hiss above my cover to dig into trees and rocks with terrifying ease. The boys Erabus, Hiro, Sway, Cyrus and Andrew surface from cover flinging javelins, arrows slowing in as though hitting some bubble as Mira stands behind them arms out stretched doing something to the air around them that traps and slows the incoming arrow fire. This is my life now , I shake my head chambering a round, taking the opening to stick my head out and shoot ineffectively at these magicians.

Pop pop pop

I get three shots out in quick succession that stark against armour as I watch-

Thrumpff! My head is wretched sideways suddenly my mouth aflame, I roll my entire body with the force pushing my momentum forward I roll pulling my dagger from the stomach sheath and coming up feeling the stinging warm wetness spreading on my face but otherwise seeing no immediate attackers. My ears are ringing, my head full of cotton-wool. I take a knee checking the damage with a hesitant touch, okay I think that half my cheek is gone but already plateletysis, heal and body awareness are working collectively stopping the bleeding compensating so I can stay active and quickly I can barely feel it. I take a wet steaming breath through my nose, I take another, I materialise a spear and shield from my storage ring and watch for an opening.

The wound probably looks worse than it actually feels and though the teeth on one side of my face are cracked or shattered, the skin and some muscles have been sloughed away it isn’t a debilitating wound, it would be a waste to use the healing potion. I get back to my vantage point in a crouch, grabbing my glock but the desire to stick my head out is completely gone, I watch the long range exchange wondering why we set such a large perimeter defence. As we currently are we are too far apart to properly support each other and our assailants take advantage of the gaps, rushing in towards the central camp, the false camp.

*

Carl Woess

A grunt escapes my lips, my outer shield taking a surprisingly strong blow from a thrown spear as I face the opponent rushing at me. ‘’Bloody fool thinks charging me will work?’’ I work a four-star {4*...} pentagon in the air with my hands draining power from my mana pool to the sizzling of the symbols as they are burnt into the world.

Trhaa!

The bonds of fate explode forward from the anomaly in space fuming with heat but quickly cooling in the foreign Gaian atmosphere.

The bloody barbarian actually manages to bash one away with a sword as though I had just fucking thrown something physical at him, he somehow manages to evade another, how a living physical human being can evade a manifestation with a sliver of Fate I don’t know, he cuts one in half though it reaches him scorching his torso before fading away from the damage it took. The last locks with the sizzling of flesh securely around his ankle locking him in place.

He stands there unable to move from his position as I cast a 2nd level restore (2*R...R) on three of my guards bleeding out on the floor. The barbarian looks at me with hate as he hacks once twice thrice breaking the bond which quickly disappears with a crumble leaving burnt bubbling flesh almost cut to the bone where it had held. I’m already working on an intricate four-dimensional mentadron {4^...x...} creating pattern mana will take as it is manifested into the world. He moves and I lose track of him a split second before I hear the clash and follow it, the titanic struggle of skill happening between the mercenary and the barbarian has even me impressed.

Finishing my cast I hold the ..mentadron {4^...} with a squeeze (___) before quickly casting mana-sight (o-0) already castigating myself for the amateur blunder of underestimating my opponents. The mercenary’s blood sprays from him in slashes even between the pieces of armour though he holds the barbarian back, inflicting a wound himself here and there in the furious exchange as the barbarian is slowed by the scorch wounds and cuts already taken.

I wait for a good moment to release my spell already humming a preparative mantra at the back of my mind so that I can start another cast the moment I release the one already held spell (___) straining my mind. The perfect moment presents itself not a moment too soon and I release cast to elemental flames of power rushing out in hair-curling temperatures like some volcanic geyser.

The scream is from the mercenary caught in the blast but I completely disregard the poor fool as I get the greatest fright of my life. Had I not cast mana-sight I never would have believed my senses but my eyes bugger as the mana-shield dissipates already having done its task of again saving this barbarian warrior's life. Shit, no one told me they knew magic, Anton said they were savages that ‘know nothing but bashing each other over the head. For the first time I start to feel true fear as the barbarian warrior's suddenly intimidating sword clashes into my mana shield with more oomf than I had felt from the projectile spears. I gulp, maintaining the shield and already working on an escape plan as I notice for the first time how everyone else is fairing. I think we are a bit over our heads here...

 

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About the author

Philip Read

Bio: Who knew that writing could be almost as addictive as reading?

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