Kaleeth’s expression could not fully convey the sadness and dread within her, with the exception of the look in her eyes. Even with their armored beast forms, she put her arm around Janius and sought comfort in embracing him. Ahnasha and Lorag had similarly grown quiet, but resolute. It was not easy to accept what was happening, but they were already looking ahead to what was to come. Though, Lorag did finally speak a few words through bared teeth. “Make these Daedra regret standing against you…then we’ll carry that same message to Vile.”
For a brief moment, Meesei brought her hand up to Sabine’s cheek. “You are so much stronger than you know.” She said before finally taking a step back and looking upon her pack as a whole. “Goodbye.”
As Meesei turned around, the color seemed to return to the world as time resumed its normal pace. The gears started turning and the lift began to ascend. Meesei finally turned back to face the battle that was drawing in ever closer. Ri’vashi’s warriors were fighting for their lives against an enemy that gave no quarter, backed into a corner with no more option for retreat. The presence of Molag Bal’s Daedra had been disruptive to Vile’s horde and, critically, had bought the time needed to get Meesei’s pack onto the lift. However, even a Dark Anchor could not bring in Daedra fast enough to halt Vile’s forces. By this point, Daedra were swarming in on their flanks in enough numbers to make it inevitable that they would be overwhelmed. Ri’vashi’s warriors had fought harder and longer than one could ever have expected of them, but everyone had their limits.
As the lift was rising behind them, Ri’vashi herself fell back to Meesei’s position. She did not seem exhausted to the same extent as some of the others, but her armor was stained from head to toe with blood and dirt. Meesei could not tell through her armor what injuries she might have sustained, though the blood covering her katana did hint at how many she had killed.
Ri’vashi could see the lift rising above them, with Meesei staying behind. “We cannot hold back the Daedra long enough for them to reach the top. Do you have a way to stop them?”
“I do.” Meesei answered simply, though her tone did not carry the kind of hope that those words would imply. Her voice was cold, severe, and unmistakably determined.
Ri’vashi did not require explanation. Regardless of the details, she knew what fate was at hand for both Meesei and their enemies, but her end was still hers to choose. She closed her eyes for a moment, tightened both hands around the hilt of her blade, and let out a long breath. “It has been an honor, Champion.” She brought her blade up into a high guard, pointing its tip directly forward. “Forward!” She shouted to what remained of her warriors. Without a hint of fear, she rushed straight forward down the very center of the Daedric lines. She avoided almost without effort the spears of the pair of Skaafin who tried to meet her, while one deft motion of her blade found the neck of the first, and pierced its tip through the heart of the second. Still, she did not stop, and did not hesitate to continue to cut forward deep into the Daedra’s lines as they enveloped her on all sides.
Meesei glanced up at the lift making its way up the side of the tower. “Just a little longer…” She muttered to herself. The others just needed to be a little higher before it would be safe. Ri’vashi’s final shout had the last remnant of her forces fighting to their very last breaths with every bit of strength that remained in their bodies. From the start of the battle to its end, Ri’vashi and her warriors had fought hard enough that the Daedra had to climb over a field of their own fallen just to reach them, but their advance was inevitable. Like Ri’vashi before them, the brave souls that remained fought, struggled, and were enveloped by the horde.
The Daedra first started to come in on the flanks. Smaller, fast-moving creatures like clannfear started to make it close to her first. She pushed one hand out towards them, and with it, a blast of telekintetic force that sent them flying back over the heads of the Daedra behind them. On her other side, she let loose a barrage of magical lightning that stuck to the ground as if it were flame. She spread it out in an arc all around her, charging the ground with lightning to slow or halt any Daedra who dared approach her. Then, came the spellfire. With her allies defeated, any mage in sight could focus on her. Skaafin, xivilai, dremora concentrated destruction spells onto her from any angle they could find.
With another brief glance up to the lift, Meesei jabbed the end of the Staff of Magnus into the dirt to free up her other hand to defend herself. It was not quite time to tap into the Staff’s power. Her ward was a powerful bulwark against any individual spell that came her way, but one after another was wearing it down. Behind the lights of the spells lashing against her ward, however, was the glow of lightning charged through her other hand. Most Daedra had some form of weakness against shock, and such spells were a certain specialty for Meesei.
In this situation, chain lightning could tear its way through multiple ranks of Daedra. Each bolt of lightning cracked and echoed through the valley, and struck with an intensity that few creatures could withstand. Rarely did it take more than one bolt to drop the mages they struck, though just killing mages would not be enough for long. Her wall of lightning had stalled them for a moment, but soon enough, the Daedric frontline started to push through regardless. Lightning struck from the ground up, burning flesh and killing some of the weaker ones, but the rest could push through the pain.
Taking in a deep breath, Meesei knew it was time for one, final effort. All of her focus, every bit of strength and magicka she had left in her body was concentrated in between her hands. Her mind synchronized with the chaos of the destructive force she sought to command: the element of lightning. She gave no further regard to endurance or technique, only to pure, raw power, enhanced by Sabine’s potions, and by sheer force of will. When the closest of the Daedra were but mere steps away, she finally unleashed a storm of lightning to rival the fury of nature itself. Nothing close to her stood even the slightest chance as they were practically vaporized, and it only continued to chain from Daedra to Daedra behind them. Everything from lowly scamps to mighty harvesters fell to the power that pierced through their bodies. Whether their hearts stopped or they simply burned to death from the heat, all that was left over half a dozen ranks deep into the horde were bodies, and injuries spread even beyond that.
Immediately as the storm ended, Meesei collapsed onto her hands and knees. She felt like nearly every shred of strength had been drained from her body. Every last ounce of power she had was put into her spell, and what she had gained in exchange were…seconds. For every Daedra she had destroyed, there were a hundred more in the horde behind them to take their place. Already, Daedra beyond the range of her spell were climbing over the smoking bodies of the fallen to reach her. All of her effort had pushed them back by just a few seconds, but with a glance up at the rising lift far above her, Meesei could not help but to smile. Seconds were all that she had needed.
Grabbing a hold of the Staff of Magnus once more, Meesei pulled herself up to her feet. There was hardly any strength left in her body, but her own strength was no longer needed. The stolen power in the Staff was all she needed now. Even at her best, Meesei could not hope to control such immense power. All she could manage would be to release it, and to tune it to a particular target. From all sides, the Daedra closed in, roaring their battlecries, but Meesei simply closed her eyes and ignored the noise. Taking in one more, deep breath, she raised up the Staff once more, focused her mind, then jabbed it back into the ground.
From above, what one would see below was a white light brighter than the sun itself, followed by an indescribably intense wave of power with a deep red hue. It was almost raw magicka, just barely given the most rudimentary form into the destructive property of damage. Despite its strength, the energy could pass through most objects without so much as interacting with it, except for the one thing Meesei had managed to tune it to touch: life. The wave of energy spread over the Daedric horde like a flood, reaching nearly to the rear of their ranks. As well, it spread up into the air, enveloping the winged twilights that had started to swarm above until it fizzled out just barely short of the pack’s lift. Every being it touched, Daedra or mortal, became but ash in the wind.