Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Muttonhawk
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Meesei's roar drowned out every ache and numbed away all of their fatigue. Whether they were transformed or not, Janius, Sabine, Tarna, Fendros, and many more of their allies either side felt their chests instinctively breathe in and add their own voices to the call. The entire pack surged forward.

Daedra large and small fell before the momentum of the pack. Any creatures not convulsing and cooking with the energy of Meesei's lightning were engulfed by a icy wind laced with flying magical icicles tearing at the skin and slowing the arms they used to defend themselves. Those with the room to try and manoeuvre around the front of the pack found themselves up against Fendros' ward or Do'rhajul's shield, before they too were cut down by their opponent's sword.

Fendros focussed on defence, making sure no spells broke into the side of the pack. It was now, focussing on the path ahead rather than everything around them, that he could appreciate the ease at which his dragonbone sword cut through Skaafin armour and monstrous chitin. Some part of him was fooled into thinking they were past the worst. In that, he found himself energised, looking forward to the next challenge, and the next after that. He glanced ahead of the pack to search for a door or a gate to Vile's hideaway.
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For the remainder of the quick, bloody battle, Meesei’s pack was the hammer that crushed the Daedra against the anvil of their allies. Vicious and deadly, Kaleeth crushed and cleaved through every Skaafin in front of her. Her armor was still more than strong enough to hold off their weapons, and they were given little chance to aim for precise strikes. Janius certainly would not allow them the chance, and any he did not slay with claws and blades, Sabine would pierce with ice and freezing cold. Mages among the Skaafin attempted to defend their ranks, but between Sabine’s chilling cold and the awesome power of Meesei’s lightning that followed it, there was no defense that would be good enough. The momentum of the pack was all but unstoppable; by the time they pushed through to the point of reuniting with their allies, they were practically competing for kills.

The reinforcements from the pass had bolstered their weary allies, both in numbers and morale. With the cavalry moving around the perimeter and attacking from any angle they could, the Daedra’s own numbers withered as they fell more and more quickly. Now that Arinette was no longer leading them, the Daedra did not entertain the thought of retreat. They fought to the death, down to the last single individual. Their relentless struggle did cause more casualties on the part of the mortal invaders, but they did all fall in the end.

Standing over the last, freshly-killed Skaafin corpse, Meesei turned back and looked up to the tower at the top of the hill above them. The pillars of energy that swirled around it were much clearer to see, and feel, from here than they had been from the other side of the valley. They were still a fair distance away, but the power looming over them was beyond immense. It was a concentration of magicka on a scale that she had never witnessed before. Without a doubt, that was where they would find Vile.

Unfortunately, the threat of Vile’s Daedric servants was far from over. They had killed all that stood in their way, but as they could see from their vantage point down into the valley below, more reinforcements were on the way. A substantial portion of the Daedra fighting down in the valley were breaking off from the “main” battle below to come protect their lord’s tower…a force much larger than the one they had only just managed to defeat. Saras approached Meesei on one side, and Hjergir on the other. Both still lived, but neither had been through the battle unscathed. Saras was burned across his stomach. Badly. He looked like he had taken a direct hit from a fireball, and it was likely only the fact that he was a Dunmer that was allowing him to keep going. Hjergir’s white fur was stained red across much of his body, and it was hard to say how much of it stemmed from his own wounds.

“The Daedra are drawing off quite a lot of their forces to come deal with us.” Saras commented. “Our forces in the valley will certainly gain a great deal of ground off of this…but it won’t matter if we are overwhelmed first.”

Hjergir reached out one hand and pointed a claw down towards the bottom of the hill. “There’s only one good path leading up here. That’s a chokepoint we can hold. Not forever, but…”

“...long enough.” Saras nodded in agreement. “As our lord Hircine said, it is our Champion who will defeat Vile. Your pack is the one that needs to reach him. We can make sure his minions don’t have a chance to overwhelm you.”

Ri’vashi sheathed her katana in its scabbard and dismounted her horse nearby. “This one agrees, but she will not leave the Champion’s pack unprotected. She made a promise to guarantee that the Champion reaches Vile, and she intends to keep it.”
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The pack caught their breaths in the short time Meesei spoke with the others. Sabine passed around a few potions in the pause to restore their energy and heal any superficial wounds they had.

"We do not know what is in that tower," Sabine remarked.

Fendros lifted the visor of his helmet. "We don't have time to scout it out." He regarded everyone. "We all knew the plan coming into this," he said. "We'll all go home once Vile is defeated. If there's a good spot to hold out until then, we'll be counting on everyone."

"Tarna, Rhajul," Sabine addressed her subordinates. "What is ahead of us may be worse than what is behind us. If you want to stay behind and hold the line, you may do so."

Even though the last fight had tired her, Tarna tsked and wiped the blood off her dagger in the crook of her elbow. "No, I am not the kind to do better in a shieldwall. I will keep going with you."
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Do’rhajul did not speak his answer aloud. He simply stood alongside Sabine and readied his shield. His service to Sabine could not end until Vile’s defeat, and he would not leave her side until Vile’s threat had ended. Ahnasha, meanwhile, stepped aside to give a look over Leaps. It was hard to tell at a glance if he was hurt, as spells could leave injuries that would not be visible through his armor, but he did not act as if he was hurt. Though, Ahnasha still frowned as she looked up at the tower. “I don’t think Leaps is going to do too well in a tower like that, at his size.” She mentioned to Fendros. Her first thought would be to let Ri’vashi make use of him, but since she was quite insistent on joining them in their assault on the tower, she turned to Saras instead. “You should take Leaps. I’m sure his lightning will be helpful holding the pass, just…take care of him.”




The pack could not afford to delay for long. The majority of their forces had to move quickly to defend the pass, though Ri’vashi did gather a force of some of their reinforcements to join them in assaulting the tower. She made sure not to take too much away from the defense in the pass, and rather just brought enough to comfortably fight within the tower.

The hill leading up to the tower was somewhat steep, but rather open. It would have been easy to get surrounded, had there been anything to resist them. All of the Daedra seemed to be behind them, as there was nothing to so much as slow them down during their march up to the tower.

As they drew nearer, more details came into focus. Even from a distance, they had been able to see that there were three columns consisting of immense amounts of energy spiraling up towards the top of the tower. Meesei could now feel that they were made from pure magicka, and they were coming together at a focal point at the very top of the tower. It was a power that was almost blinding to her senses. Though, the tower itself was also notable. Meesei could see cracks running all up the structure, as if it had been fractured into a thousand pieces, then put back together.

“This tower, it looks almost…familiar.” Meesei commented. “It reminds me of descriptions of the Crystal Tower in Summerset. The one that fell during the Oblivion Crisis.”
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"Something tells me Vile's goal is not to simply gift the Dominion back their tower," Fendros remarked, breathing heavily.

Sabine worried her brow looking up at the columns of power. "I cannot fathom what that magicka should be used for. If it is directed towards us..." She did not want to finish the thought. It would be terrifyingly instant, whatever end it would bring them. Everyone knew that.

Nevertheless, they pressed on. They had no other choice.

"Crystal Tower!" Janius growled. He was more lucid now, though still choleric from his transformation. "Does Vile think it some kind of symbol? Egotistical tyrant..."

Fendros thought for a moment. "Why that tower? What did it ever do?" He asked. "And why lycan souls to power it? If I guess it correctly."
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In this case, it was Ahnasha who had more of the relevant knowledge on the situation. Her time spent studying with Hal-Neesa had imparted some of the vampire’s more esoteric knowledge onto her, including some of what she knew about the Towers. Although, she could not provide actual answers as much as just more reasons as to why it was confusing. “Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. Crystal-Like-Law was one of the towers that stabilize Mundus. From what Neesa told me, it existed in many planes, many worlds at once. Maybe when it fell in Mundus, all of the other versions in other worlds fell too? That would explain why it looks as damaged as it does. I…don’t know why he would be using it, though. Just piecing back together the shattered stones wouldn’t give the Tower back its power. It would just be a…questionably stable building.”

Lorag craned his head up to look towards the top of the building, though it was far too tall to see in much detail, especially with the raw magicka spiraling around it. “Well, with all this power he’s been grabbing, maybe he can make it work again or something?”

Ahnasha frowned and shook her head. “I…don’t think so. I really don’t think it’s that simple. He would need the power of the Stone again, and that’s not something I believe even a Daedric Prince could just create. And even if he could, I don’t know why he would. If anything, I would expect a Daedric Prince to want to tear down the Towers to weaken the barriers between Mundus and their own Planes. Maybe it really is just something symbolic for him?”

Ultimately, the pack faced no resistance moving up the hill. It seemed all of the tower’s guardians had been at the bottom, so they could reach the front entrance without a fight. Even those not magically inclined might have been able to feel the sheer intensity of the power radiating from the spiraling pillars of magicka. Their sources seemed to be coming from deep underground, but they were all certainly being focused to a point at the very top of the tower. All around the large, stone doors at the entrance were the cracked, faded remains of what had once been elaborate carvings, though they were now all far too damaged to be discernible.

Curiously, there were also some rather strange additions to the outside of the tower. There were lifts made from blackened metal on either side of the door that appeared as if they had been taken straight from the Deadlands. They looked quite out-of-place next to the tower, or indeed any other structure they had seen in Vile’s realm. The lifts themselves seemed to currently be at the top of the tower, while the mechanisms that moved them were on the ground.
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It took a few moments for the pack to realise the structures around the doors were even lifts. Fendros said what obviously came to mind. "I don't like the idea of sitting in one of those lifts while a flock of flying Daedra take their pick of us, much less separating to operate one of these things." He lowered his gaze to the stone doors in front of them. "Nowhere else to go but through it. There could be surprises behind there."

Walking up to the base of the tower, Janius and Fendros tried working to open the doors fast enough for the rest of the pack to get some initiative over whatever guarded the other side.
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While the doors were heavy, Janius and Fendros were able to pry them open easily enough. They were, fortunately, not locked from the inside. As soon as they were open, Kaleeth was the first to charge in, followed shortly behind by Lorag. However, what met them inside was not a horde of Daedra ready to defend their master, but rather…nothing. Even Meesei looked somewhat bewildered when she walked in behind them. The entire interior of the tower was just…empty. It was not just furniture it lacked, but there were no walls, no floors above them, and certainly no stairs leading up. History described the Crystal Tower as being a grand and beautiful structure inside and out, rivaling the finest of palaces across Tamriel. This version of the tower was well and truly a husk compared to those stories.

The pack hardly had time to process their discovery before a commotion turned their attention back outside. It took only a moment for Ri’vashi to rush up to the open door and shout for their attention. “Quickly! There’s something happening out here!”

Rushing back outside, Meesei’s gaze turned to the sky above. The very top of the tower glowed with an even more intense light than before. It cast nearly the whole valley in a deep violet light just before a barrage of hundreds, if not thousands of glowing orbs were released from the top. All of them descended down into the area that had been their battlefield a few minutes prior. Where each touched the ground, a conjuration portal appeared. An entire army’s worth of portals. Daedra poured onto the battlefield, and though they were somewhat distant at the bottom of the hill, one could tell that few, if any were mere fodder. These were daedroth, harvesters, ogrims, dremora commanders; their elite troops. For Vile to have been able to summon so many of them, he must have pulled them from elsewhere on the battlefield. The rest of their forces would certainly be able to push forward as a result, but nothing else would matter if they could not reach Vile.

Meesei let out a growl. Vile had to expend an immense amount of power to summon this army, but clearly, it was power he had available. At this point, there was no doubt that he understood what they were doing. Meesei just hoped that it was too late for him to stop them. Lorag did not wait a moment after seeing the army appear to jump into action. He did not know entirely how the lifts beside the door worked, but there was a prominent lever that he quickly pulled. Right away, gears in the mechanism started turning and the chains moving to slowly bring the lift down from far above. He did not know what magic gave it motion, but it seemed to work on its own.

Though they did have at least one option to reach the top, Meesei still did not seem entirely confident in it. “That may not be fast enough.” She remarked before looking up to the very top of the tower. Without another word, she extended her hand upwards and placed all of her focus onto a singular point. However, she seemed to struggle uncharacteristically with concentrating her magic into a coherent spell. With as dire as their situation was, she did not waste much time before giving up her efforts. It is no good. The sheer concentration of magicka here creates too much interference. I can’t make a stable portal. Not under my own power.”

Meesei soon turned her gaze towards one of the nearby pillars of magicka that spiraled up the side of the tower. They were the source of the problem, but they could, perhaps, provide a solution. “Sabine, let me borrow your staff. I have an idea.”
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"What?" Fendros breathed at the portals tearing open far behind them. "If we had been down there..." He shook the thought out of his head. "But it's not over yet."

Sabine hesitated, tightening her grip around the staff at first. But with the magicka virtually buzzing all around them, thoughts of how she] might use it made her realise Meesei's idea may have been similar. Sabine held the staff out horizontally to Meesei. "Take it. I am not sure I could control it."

Fendros could not say he followed it all, but he knew their time was running out. "Meesei, if this will take more than a moment, this is no place to defend ourselves."
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Meesei’s expression held a slight grimace as she looked out over the area in the direction of the Daedra. They did have the high ground, being at the top of the hill, but it was about the only advantage they would have. The Daedra would have overwhelming numbers, and it would not be the fodder that would be rushing them. With the lycan and Dominion soldiers Ri’vashi had brought with her, they did have enough numbers to form a defensive line, but it would not be more than a few ranks deep.

Taking the Staff of Magnus in hand, Meesei turned her gaze up towards one of the pillars of magicka. “I know it would be easier to hold from inside, but I need to be out here if I want to drain the magicka from that pillar. I am going to need a lot of power to force a portal through this interference. The whole process shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, I just…need that time.”

Ri’vashi did not hesitate nor question Meesei, and she certainly did not waste any more time. “Form ranks and take positions to defend the Champion!” She shouted to her soldiers. “Allow none through, guard the men and women at your side, and refuse to die until that portal is open!”
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The pack had no hesitation falling in with the other soldiers, but even Ri'vashi's commands could not completely stave off the fear in their hearts. Fendros readied his ward and considered for a moment whether one or more of them would not make it through Meesei's portal. If there would be a portal at all.

Sabine distracted herself by bettering their chances. She sprinted to one side of the line and poured a cold magic wide around their flank. The frosty air lingered in a mist that whitened the ground beneath it; a wall of cold. She sprinted to the other side of the line and did the same. Without the staff, she felt for the first time since the battle began that her magicka had a limit. In the realisation, she took a magicka fortifying potion out of her bag, her hand brushing something else in her bag. Opening the flask she processed what she had brushed against. A shiver ran up her neck. It was Molag-Bal's little 'gift' she hoped she would not have to use. A sigil stone that would summon a Dark Anchor.

There was no time to give it rational consideration. She quaffed her potion down and readied for battle once more. The Daedra below were almost in range to deter with spellfire. Her empty fingers curled with cascading mist.
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Meesei gripped the Staff tightly in one of her oversized hands, and for just a moment, stared up at the massive pillar of raw energy before her. This was the last obstacle before Vile, and she knew she would have to put everything she was into overcoming it. Ri’vashi moved her people into position, forming a thin defensive line, though somewhat thicker now that they had Sabine’s walls of ice covering their flanks. Any advantage they could get would be needed.

Raising the Staff of Magnus towards the nearest pillar of magicka, Meesei started her work. Even just to start, the amount of power that was flowing into the Staff was immense. It took only moments to start collecting more power than any one mage could hope to produce on their own, and that power would only multiply the longer the Staff drained from the source. Meesei did not know if the resevoir of magicka the Staff could contain was truly limitless, but she supposed it would not take long to start testing that theory.

Draining thier master’s power prompted no shorted of enraged roars and shouts from the fast-encroaching Daedric horde. Sabine’s spell would restrict their approach somewhat, but the Daedra were still a force that was beyond overwhelming. Harvesters, ogrims, high-ranking Dremoras, and storm atronachs were only some of what comprised the spearhead of their attack, and their strength went countless ranks deep. It was not impossible to hold against them, for a short time, but there would be no room for error. If any part of their defensive line was breached, this was the kind of enemy that could overrun them in moments. If Meesei was interrupted at any point once she started casting her portal spell, she would have to start over, and there would be no chance of success. The dark anchor that Sabine’s sigil stone could summon was something that would take a short time to form. That time was less than a minute, but at this point, the pack’s efforts could be doomed in a matter of seconds. If she wanted to use it, she needed to make that decision now.
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They had been on the offensive for so long that Sabine had not faced these larger Daedra waiting for them to crash in. The sheer sound of all their feet, hooves, and claws alone was enough to make her falter, let alone the braying and howling they produced alongside.

She looked back at Meesei. The portal was barely given visual formed. She looked ahead again. There were simply too many.

"Brace yourselves!" Sabine screamed out.

Fendros turned his surprised head to see Sabine clutching Neesa's sigil stone. Surprise turned to shock when she leapt fully over the frontline, rolled upright clear of her allies, and activated the stone.

"Sabine, no!" Fendros shouted too late. Much like it had above the main battle in the valley, the skies darkened and swirled with eerie grey-blue clouds. As if crashing through a great ceiling of glass, the sky shattered, revealing a dark bouquet of spiked metal, plummeting fast towards them.
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Even as the sky darkened and the anchor began to form, the Daedra still pushed relentlessly. When they finally met Ri’vashi’s front line, they proved themselves a threat her soldiers could only barely hold back. The defenders formed a shield wall just to hold them back, though on the left flank, two of the shield-bearers were crushed almost immediately by the charge of a particularly large Ogrim. The Daedra was left with a spear impaled through its stomach for its trouble, but it paid no heed to its own injury. The second, and last, line of defenders evaded rather than be crushed like the first. The Daedra would have had an opening to push through to Meesei right away, were it not for Kaleeth meeting the Ogrim’s charge head-on. She dug her claws into its flesh and held it back long enough for the warriors beside her to disembowel it from the sides.

Being that they were on a hill, Ahnasha could safely fire arrows from her bound bow over the heads of her allies, but more important was picking the right targets. She would magically exhaust herself conjuring arrows before she could shoot even half of this horde. She would have to have a good sense of her surroundings and a good read on how the battle would unfold to target the specific Daedra most likely to break through and stop them, much as Kaleeth had.

Do’rhajul had followed Sabine unquestioningly when she summoned the Dark Anchor, as well as helping her return behind the front line once the Daedra charged. As usual, he was there to protect her, but he also positioned himself as a last line of defense for Meesei herself. She was still absorbing power from the column of magicka into the staff, stealing more and more of the power Vile had been hoarding. It was said that the Staff of Magnus could hold a limitless reservoir of power, and this seemed to be as close as they had come to testing that story.

Yerig, though, did not have nearly the same indomitable appearance as his Khajiit friend. His hands shook as they held his sword, though it was not out of fear. Skill and experience allowed him to keep up with the others in battle, but his body simply did not have the endurance of his much younger companions. Even they were starting to fatigue after a long battle, and while Yerig was not usually on the front line, he could no longer push his limits as he might have as a younger man. He had the strength to help, but he had to stay back from the melee. The shout he had used twice before, he used again: MID VUR SHAAN. Even if he could not join the fray himself, he could bring forth the winds of Kyne to aid his allies.

Once it had formed fully above them, the dark anchor sent down massive spikes connected by chains that fell to the ground and dug into the earth among the Daedric forces. Magical runes that had been etched into the ground by the spell started to glow a bright violet color. It would not be as stable as a properly made dolmen, but for their purposes, the anchor only needed to last a short time. From the anchor’s portal, bright blue balls of flame rained like meteors from the sky, each carrying Daedra from Coldharbour itself.
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For Fendros, there was no stopping Sabine if he tried. His mind let the matter go to focus on holding the enemy back. Survival was all that mattered. He began by warding the spellfire arcing in from further back in the enemy ranks, but the push was brought to him. He had to press his weight into the back of the friendly shieldwall and stab his blade over their shoulders like the others. He could feel his boots sliding back on the broken turf. His arm, even given haste by Yerig's shout, felt less responsive than usual. None of them had fought for such an extended period of time in years.

He muttered through gritted teeth, though no one could hear in the tumult. "Sabine, this had best not be our end..."

Janius was using his reach and bulk as best as he could to help hold the centre. He proved relatively implacable in his armor and weight. Any sizable Daedra that got too aggressive found his axe blade swinging down on their heads from above. A hulking grey xivilai proved a tough challenger, especially when the freakishly strong daedric warrior brought down his own axe on Janius' head. Janius managed to turn his head to turn it into a glancing blow, but an off-balance swing hooked the xivilai's arm, dragging the giant to the floor, where rear-ranked friendly spearmen could stab it until it failed to rise.

Sabine had little room to lay waste with her usual frost magic. Spells from her turned to the defensive. Wounded allies receive quick bursts of healing at her touch. Those facing down particularly ferocious daedra felt their skin toughen with an armour-like repulsion. She had to consciously put the appropriate amount of magicka into them to combat a reflexive fear of running out in this desperate situation. Some small part of her even hoped that the dark anchor would take some pressure off their defence, as if that were possible.

"Keep going, Champion!" The unexpectedly loud voice of Sabine's packmate Tarna shouted out the encouragement. "They can barely match a sweet coastal breeze!" The sounds of her daggers slicing into limbs and throats alike added to the effect, as even in such tight conditions she did not prove less capable.
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So bright was the raw magicka being focused into the Staff of Magnus’ crystal that Meesei could hardly even see beyond what was right in front of her. Even with the staff, it was no easy task to try to pull in and contain the immense power in front of her. Vile had truly grown powerful during this war, as this was only a part of the energy that was spiraling up towards the top of this tower. In any case, it did not take too long for her to pull in everything she felt she needed to make her portal. All that remained was to use that power to tear that portal open.

The hours upon hours of fighting had taken their toll on Lorag’s body, perhaps more than most due to his age. Of course, one would not be able to tell just by watching him. Whatever pain he felt fueled his rage, and fed the fury of his beast spirit. In times like this, he had no problem allowing its savagery complement his own. Janius soon found not only spearmen coming to his aid, but Lorag pouncing from off to his right side. The series of spearheads that had pieced the xivilai’s body were punctuated by Lorag’s jaws clasping down on his throat. Just a moment of thrashing tore apart the Daedra’s flesh to the point that it perished even before Lorag ripped his head from his body. Lorag did take a few hits to his armor for his aggression, though the mace from the side was the one that actually seemed to affect him. He lashed out quickly against the Skaafin officer that made the swing and managed to get a hold of her arm. As quickly as Lorag had pounced, he retreated back behind their spearmen, dragging the Skaafin along with him to maul at his leisure.

From the Dark Anchor, the fireballs raining down from the sky continued to land among Vile’s Daedra. Although it was somewhat difficult to see in the chaos, the Daedra that it was bringing to the field were starting to make their mark. Explosions of cold-flame erupted from among the horde, and the amount of Daedra reaching the frontline started to lessen. Particularly from a distance, it could be difficult to differentiate Molag Bal’s Daedra from Vile’s, but there were a surprising number that rose out above the rest. Dread Daedroth and harvesters towered over many of the Daedra around them, along with creations of Molag Bal like grievous twilights and Xivkyn. These were not simple churls; they were powerful Daedra that Molag Bal was dedicating to this fight. It was doubtful that the Daedric Prince’s motivations were selfless, but he actually seemed to be honoring his alliance. While Vile’s horde was still bearing down upon them, they were becoming more disjointed and their numbers more manageable. The Dark Anchor would still only be a delaying tactic, but it was working effectively to buy them time.

For Meesei, the act of actually creating the portal from the power the Staff now contained was far more difficult than merely collecting it. She could see to the top of the tower to place her portal in a useful location, but there were two more pillars of magicka flowing to the top, just like the first she had drained from. She needed a great deal of power to break through that interference, but controlling the power in the Staff proved even more difficult than charging it in the first place. With the Staff, she held more power in her hands than any mortal body was meant to withstand. She had to try to coax it out in smaller amounts, but even her cautious, measured attempts sent surges of raw magicka through her body that felt as if they burned her skin from the inside out. After a large surge, she let out a growl and collapsed to her knees, only to force herself back to her feet moments later.

Closing her eyes, Meesei calmed her mind and, perhaps to the surprise of those around her, started to shift her form. Her armor loosened and fell to the ground in pieces as she returned to her Argonian form. Evidently, every bit of mental clarity she could achieve was valuable enough to her in this moment to be worth sacrificing the protection and enchantments of her dragonbone armor. She certainly would not be able to put it back on now that she had abandoned it.
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Sabine felt the lines close in around them. Now that the pressure on them, high though it was, began to stabilise with Coldharbour's assistance, she took Do'rhajul by the arm. "Rhajul, bring me up on your
hand and shoulders! I need height!"

True enough, Sabine was shorter than every fighter around her except one or two of the Bosmer among them. The bright mist pouring off both her hands indicated she had an offensive magic in mind.

"I can freeze them and spare us in the eye of the storm," she elaborated.

Meanwhile, Fendros was forced back far enough to notice Meesei's situation. Meesei would not admit through stubbornness, but her body was visually wracked with the sheer amount of magicka she held. Fendros had learned enough from her to know how to help. He pulled away and held Meesei's shoulder. "You have an atronach," he reminded her.

Fendros could absorb the magicka flow for a time, hopefully enough to allow Meesei to cast her spell without destroying herself. He knew it would not be painless.
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Meesei hardly had time to acknowledge Fendros directly, as the process of creating this portal required her complete focus in every instant. Still, she was grateful for any amount of relief she could be given. Her progress was slower than she would have liked, as she had to prioritize keeping the magical backlash to a minimum. Fendros’ help gave her more leeway, but letting out even a fraction of the power she had absorbed in an uncontrolled manner would reduce their flesh to dust in an instant.

Meesei concentrated on that point above them, the destination for her portal. The power within her Staff was immense, though the energy concentrated at the top of the tower was even greater still. This interference she was working to break through she did not even believe was an intentional defense measure. Merely the aura of whatever was above them was interfering with the finely precise spellcasting that a portal required. Meesei’s hope was to use the sheer, brute force of power within the Staff to stabilize a small area above them. To block out the interference from a small area above them for long enough that she could establish a portal.

As she tried to coax out more power from the Staff, a surge of magicka struck both herself and Fendros. For just a moment, it felt as if her blood was on fire. She maintained her concentration, but even so, it was not enough to try to stabilize the area one small bit at a time. In terms of its magical aura, the space at the top of the tower was a maelstrom of pure chaos. It was like a hurricane, but one in which she had to try to create the eye herself. To try and grow that area of calm slowly and steadily only led to it collapsing immediately. She had to do it in one effort with the power she had collected. There was enough there for her to accomplish what she needed to do, she just needed to be able to wield it.

Closing her eyes, Meesei focused on the magicka itself, both in the staff and far above. As she had tried before, she attempted to form a perfect, orderly sphere out of the chaos above. She arranged the edges of the bubble easily enough, but then it came time to try and bring order to the raw magicka in the staff. The spell itself was something she understood, but this was power on a scale even Meesei had never experienced. Taming this power she had stolen from Vile, the power she needed to break through, was like trying to tame a raging waterfall. When she started to release that energy to order it into a spell, the backlash through her body, despite their best efforts, knocked Fendros off his feet and collapsed her to the ground. She had only scarcely managed to stop the magicka’s release before it killed them both. As she pushed back the pain out of her mind, grabbed the Staff once more, and forced herself back to her knees, the one truth she had been fighting became undeniable to her:

She couldn’t do it.

No matter Meesei’s magical skill and decades of experience. No matter her willpower and determination. No matter the time her pack, Ri’vashi, and even Molag Bal’s Daedra bought her. No matter the well of energy Fendros could contain. This power was greater still. The inescapable reality was that Meesei was a mortal trying to command the power of a god. She had achieved miraculous magical feats in the past, but she still had limitations on what her magic could do.

At this point, she felt they had to try something else. Her allies were holding the enemy back, particularly with Molag Bal’s Daedra disrupting them, but that could only ever be temporary. All that was left was the lift Lorag had activated before. It had just reached the bottom of the tower a short time ago, but it would take just as long to reach the top, and its mechanisms would need to be kept safe the whole time.

Meesei lifted her head up towards Fendros. “We need to get the pack into the lift…hurry.” She said. Hopefully, between their Daedric reinforcements and the rest of their warriors, Ri’vashi would be able to keep the enemy back for at least that long. They had only a single lift to work with, but it did look large enough to hold both her pack and Sabine’s, if only barely.
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Muttonhawk Let Slip the Corgis of War

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Fendros had to grit his teeth to keep himself from fainting when he fell. The pain was in every single one of his bones. He had to stand up. Meesei needed another chance.

But he did not see the usual determination in Meesei when he refocussed his eyes. His heart sank when he heard what her demeanour already alluded to. It was time to put on a stony face and adapt. He nodded, pressing his feet into the floor and turning to fetch the pack. Wisps of smoke rose from between gaps in his armor as he did so.

Sabine's face went ghostly at the order. She complied only after healing Meesei with a spell that would get her back on her feet.

Janius was almost lost to the frenzy of combat. Fendros had to make his order loud and sharp, which made the still-growling werewolf back away from the lines reluctantly but quickly.

"Tarna! Rhajul! In!" Savine drew them into the lift with her.

Fendros relayed their intentions to Ri'vashi with his regrets firmly bottled up in his mind. "Hold them back from the mechanism! Snap the lever if you can! The battle will be over when Vile is smited."

Fendros was the last on the platform. He made a quick prayer -- the first in a long time -- and pulled the lever to bring the lift up.
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Given that they were still fighting back the Daedra, not all of the pack had been watching what happened, but when the order was given, they followed it without question. Even Ri’vashi followed through without hesitation. She tightened up her warriors’ formation and fell back closer to the lift to ensure it was protected. She was at the front, her Akaviri katana in constant motion towards each threat that approached. A Dremora lord and a Skaafin officer both tried to surround her, but every swing they made was met with the perfect response. She would parry one, and with one deft, fluid motion, switch targets to the other to place her blade between the gaps in their armor. Ri’vashi had been leading their war effort for so long, it was easy to forget how deadly she was on the field of battle. However, even she still had her limits, and the Daedric army converging on their position was nothing short of overwhelming.

Meesei’s pack moved quickly to get themselves into the lift. While there was enough space for them, it was still a tight fit, and there was a certain amount of chaos involved with squeezing everyone in quickly. In that chaos, there was a certain detail that was easy to miss until it was too late. The jagged metal bars of the lift’s gate slammed shut as soon as Fendros pulled the lever, though Lorag let out a growl in protest. “What are we doing? Ri’vashi will never hold long enough for us to get to the top!”

“I know.” Meesei could be heard replying, but not from within the lift. Her words turned the collective gaze through the bars…to where she stood outside the lift. Without a word, she had stepped out as Fendros pulled the lever, and now, the world around them slowed to a halt as Meesei brought them out of time to draw out this one moment into minutes. It was a tiring spell, but she did not seem to care anymore about over-exerting herself. She took the Rueful Axe and tossed it through the bars onto the floor of the lift, then gripped the Staff of Magnus tightly to hide her shaking hands.
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