Collab by Serp and Gold
Present Day -- West Ouroborasia
Ostrob - 300AWH
They always said Ouroborasia was a miserable place filled with mud, rain, and dead people. That it wasn’t a place worth fighting for. Looking over the battlefield, seeing the corpses half concealed by dirty swamp water and the muddy, sludge coated men hitting each other with any weapon they could find, Tatiana, forced to the front lines and having to endure this damnable weather had to agree. They were winning sure, but looking how close she was to the enemy, the price… the price was far too high.
“No, not that low you damn oaf!” The young witch almost yelled; the armoured familiar she was riding on almost lowering her into the swamp's water. The audacity of that damn bitch, sending her out here. When Solomonanţă sent its students to experience the ‘frontlines’, they did not mean literally metres away from the melee!
The oaf she referred to halted, almost unnaturally, before his body lifted itself ever slightly. The familiar was a large man. His dirty blonde hair and grim, depressed eyes barely noticeable between the mud stained Bucket helmet and Bevor. Apparently, he was once a sergeant of the imperial army. Even if he was somewhat rebellious, her control was near absolute, her small form riding on top of his shoulder would have been far harder otherwise. Anything to avoid getting wet after all. For all the woes of my life, I am glad at least I was fortunate to not be born one of them.
Tatiana thought, momentarily pitying him. A once proud man chained to her whims, his body forced as if on strings to do as she commanded. Even as a child, Tatiana was considered a genius with curses, particularly the Familiar Curse. Back at Solomonanţă, Tatiana was feared by her fellow young witch peers, the prodigy already possessing a small army of familiar slaves.
Turning back to the task at hand, from atop the kneeling man-turned-familiars shoulder Tatiana began chanting, no longer worried about getting wet. The injured soldier her familiar was holding down struggled frantically, his screams muffled by the leather gloves of her ‘faithful’ puppet.
Tatiana glared at the annoying man, seeing the tattoo on his left cheek. It infuriated her knowing that while she sacrificed this man, that corrosive, evil bastard of a god Justinian got something too.
She tried to concentrate. At first it didn’t work. The screaming, clatter of steel and distant explosions too much for her young, child mind. As mature as she thought she was and acted, biology couldn’t be helped. Looking up at the distractions, she saw one of the enemies actually blow himself up with his own grenade. Attempting to stifle a giggle, she squeezed her eyes shut.
'Just ignore, just ignore it. Focus on the sacrifice, you don’t want to die' she muttered to herself.Don't want to die
The melee of familiars and purple-trimmed enemies disappearing as she closed her eyes, quietly muttering her personal mantra of survival over and over. As her awareness of the outside world faded, she calmed and entered a trance. The occult Old Eudaz chant returned then, the blood painted on the panicking soldier now glowing.
Time slowed. Even as droplets of rain fell atop of her red hat and face, she remained unfazed. In but a few moments the ritual would be complete, the sacrifice dead and her theurgia recharged. She had her Familiar puppet raise his sword to complete the sacrifice ritual and,BOOM
An explosion of purple light, the blast forcing Tatiana to open her eyes and halting the sacrifice ritual. Sparks and particles of burning debris flew out from the purple explosion in wild arcs, including what appeared to be the burning remains of some unidentifiable body part splashing nearby.
‘What are they doing now? Can’t they see that the enemy is over there’.
Tatiana stopped as she saw that no, the enemy was not ‘over there’ fighting familiars, and to her sudden and horrified realisation instead was charging directly at her. The enemy looked frenzied. They were screaming as they charged, their leader a chipped sword wielding man bellowing at the others as he pushed a familiar aside, throwing the armoured man into the water to be trampled by the other charging madmen.
‘Get up! Get up oaf, They’re after us!’ Tatiana’s familiar stood up, using one armoured boot to pin the struggling soldier to the ground as he did, shifting his sword and shield to face the charging Justinian tattooed freaks. In that moment she saw one of the charging men throw a grenade directly towards her.
Using her last reserve of theurgia, Tatiana formed a ward in the air. The grenade’s explosion curved around the ward, and while blocked, the blast wave knocked Tatiana’s familiar down into the swamp's water and sent Tatiana herself sent flying backwards, also landing into the murky shallows. Drenched in the swampy water and her red dress and petticoats covered in mud, Tatiana pulled herself out of the water in time to look on in terror as the chipped sword-wielding leader rushed towards her.
Splashing through the water, the chipped sword-wielder was none other than Yarold, who charged at the young blue eyed girl in the red dress. The shimmerings of the ward hung in the air, faded and residual. Crumbs of dirt and water rained down from the explosion around it.
Fiery adrenaline pumped through Yarold, it was clear the child was a witch. His heart raced and pounded against his ears along with the blood-curdling screams of battle. He was almost hesitant to continue his attack, but the familiar energy of the battle flowed through him, cutting his mind off from his thoughts as he lowered his sword’s point at the enemy before him.
Tatiana, drenched and out of theurgia had barely enough time to even scream as the sword came right before her, inches of distance and less than a second away in time before her untimely demise. Tatiana closed her eyes as she flinched, preparing for an imminent death that never came.
Slowly opening her eyes again.
She did not see Yarold until she looked down into the water, the man having seemingly, tripped? A sensation of enormous relief rose through the young girl when she realised that her familiar had grabbed the mad charging man’s ankle, dragging him into the water as well.
While Yarold and the familiar struggled against each other as they both tried to stand up, Tatiana used this moment to try and get herself away from the madman, dragging her petticoats as far away as possible, that being a few metres or so.
Through the splashing water, Yarold heard the faint blast of a horn and his stomach swelled. The feeling rushed to his arms and with a swift elbow he knocked the flopping familiar off of him and straightened himself back to his feet, brackish rivulets running down his face. His grip tightened around the basket-hilt of his broadsword and with an urgent swing he brought the blade to the surprised familiar, the strike bouncing off a ready shield with a distinct clatter, lost to the sound of a retreating battle.
The familiar was slow to respond with water flowing from the gaps between the pieces of plate-mail, but steady, unnatural sturdiness keeping him up despite the drenching of water and mud dragged him down. Even in her panic, Tatiana knew to keep her familiar strong. Following Yarolds sword deflecting off his shield, the familiar struck back, using the shield as a weapon in an attempt to crush Yarolds throat, but the man was quicker as he brought his sword down suddenly.
Tatiana however, was too distracted to notice her familiar losing his hand, and yet still fighting on regardless. She was busy instead glaring at the approaching figure of the man she had almost sacrificed, having now stood up from the water, free from her familiar's boot. His chest was still covered in blood symbols, the sacrifice having been aborted at the last few seconds. Tatiana realised he had long since lost his sword, not that it changed anything.
The man had a spiteful, revenge-hungry smile creeping up on his face, knowing the child witch was out of tricks.
‘You look frightened, girl’ the man wheezed. While he was grinning, he was also tired and wounded. If it was not for the mud and lack of magic holding her back, Tatiana figured she could even outrun him.
This was not the case.
‘Ha! And you look dead you miserable pawn’ she spat back.
He, having walked up to her faster than she could step backwards, responded by punching her directly in the face. Flung backwards and back into the water, she survived the punch through virtue of having taken the man's gauntlets off before, meaning she now only had large bruising, split lip, blood and black eye rather than her face being torn off.
‘Looking a bit different now ya’little bitch. Not so strong…' he coughed, The familiar and Yarold were still fighting, the familiar somehow keeping Yarold back even with only one weapon, though Yarold was clearly winning, pushing the silent man back towards her.
‘After all…’ he coughed again, slowly approaching for a second punch.
Tatiana was up again, whipping away the blood on her face. She knew she needed to do something or she was going to die very, very soon. She needed a plan, it was what she was good at, the other students feared her because of it. Tatiana was a prodigy, she always won.
At that moment she had an idea. She started to walk, sideways as well as backwards, circling around the man, closer towards the fighting familiar and Yarold, the latter pushing the former towards the two circling enemies.
Tatiana laughed then, knowing this fool was falling for such a simple trick. Her laughter was silenced shortly thereafter as the grinning man caught her throat with his outstretched hands, picking her up into the air to choke her.
‘Why you laughin’?' was the man's final words as a sword pierced straight through his armour, the end of a sword poking out the front of his chest.
The man's grip slackened, then fell, with Tatiana landing on her feet as the man fell to his knees, gasping for breath as he realised he was dead. Entirely disarmed after pushing the sword through the grinning man’s chest, the Familiar was quickly defeated by Yarold, who swiftly beheaded the familiar, his head flying to the side.
The familiar's body stood upright even without a head, the Familiar Curse keeping the body upright in its final moments. Tatiana however, rather than defeated looked triumphantly at Yarold, an impish smile breaking through the girl's ruined face as she raised her arm up and hand out, directed towards the now dead kneeling man's chest, where the sacrifice symbol now had a sword piercing through it.
‘My goddess, I do hereby complete my sacrifice to you, the highest of all witches.’ Tatiana declared, her voice somewhat muddled as she was speaking as quickly as possible and speaking through a split lip. The symbol on the dead man’s chest was lighting up bright red, as was Tatiana’s eyes, an aura of red light gathering around her.
‘I beseech you, give unto me the power to smite this Justinian dog’.
Radiating light, Tatiana then walked calmly towards Yarold. Yarold, quickly realising what had happened let out a huff of breath and suddenly charged towards the girl, his legs under heated strain as he forced them through the water. Tatiana did not flinch or fall back, or even changed her pace this time, instead simply making a cutting motion with her arm. A creeping aura stretched across the water, sparks of energy discharging.
A sword came out from the edge of Yarolds periphery of vision, he only just reacting in time to block, the force strong enough that he had to sidestep as sparks flashed off his sword. There, to his side the Familiar stood, headless and glowing. An aura of red surrounded it, particles of red light flowing periodically out of its open neck like little wisps of light.
Somehow, the Familiar had managed to pull out the sword in the sacrifices chest fast enough to stop his charge. As he witnessed the beheaded familiar’s arm spasm, retracting its sword with inhuman speed, he realised how.
‘Why were you raising your sword at me? Your fight isn’t finished yet’.
The little girl witch in her muddy, dirty red coat was laughing as the battle had so quickly turned around with the simple addition of just a little bit more… magic. The headless familiar swung its sword in strange, mechanical motions and sudden spasms, with strength beyond human men. Strong, but sloppy. Each clash of their swords caused Yarolds already chipped sword to strain further, slivers of brittle steel being shaved off. This is why Yarold hated magic.
The girl witch was just behind the familiar, unseen except for the glow and her moving feet, her voice clear as she sung a wordless lullaby of some kind, her actions unclear as Yarold was too busy fighting off this bloodthirsty corpse.
‘La lala la’.
The familiar struck again, and again. Yarold tried to disarm the thing, but it seemed to react quickly whenever he tried to aim for its arm. The corpse seemed to care only to use the sword as a bludgeon, forcing Yarold back by the sheer force of its unnatural strength, invigorated as it was with the aura of magic.
Yarold, faster and more flexible than the thing tried to weave around it and its monster blows. A swing at his soldier was side-stepped, the familiar's sword slashing into the water next to him. He slashed at the familiar and it continued as if nothing happened. Yarold knew this was going nowhere; he knew what he had to do. Kill the witch, and the fight is over.
Dodging the Familiars strike again, Yarold pushed it to the side with his shoulder as he went for the witch, only to be intercepted by another corpse, this one physically leaping as it threw itself at him. It was the sacrificed man, now with occult symbols drawn on his forehead in blood, now also trying to kill him. Cutting through the leaping corpse, Yarold was able to right himself as the leaping corpse of the sacrificed man lost a whole arm from the shoulder before falling into the water.
The headless Familiar, sword dragged beside it was walking towards Yarold.
The one armed sacrificed man's body wriggled and spasmed as it got used to its missing arm, pushing itself back up.
Both were encircling Yarold and the witch; the witch seemed to be out of sight. A third corpse once again marked with occult symbols came forward, wielding the upper shaft of a broken polearm. In these apparent final moments, Yarold looked around; the battlefield was silent. There were no explosions or cries of pain. There was nothing but him, corpses and the swamp. He did not know how long the battle had ended, but it was clear he would be the last Justinian standing.
Yarold fought with the last sliver of strength he had. The sacrificed man gnawed at his shin. The headless familiar shattered his sword in half, even as he dug his sword into its shoulder, disabling its sword arm for good. The polearm wielder had pierced Yarolds thigh with the polearms spike before having its hand crushed by the frantic Yarold. A fourth and fifth corpse arrived. One a former heavily armoured familiar with a sword hanging half way through its neck and upper chest. The other was one of his own comrades, Agron, his former comrade burned horribly and missing an arm, his tattoos desecrated by the same occult symbols.
Yarold could not fight them all and succumbed under the weight of numerous animated corpses.
But he did not die, no, instead he looked up to see the monstrous little girl in the dirty red dress, her hat back on her head and a ridiculous, almost insane Cheshire grin on her face.
‘I hope you were aware Mr Justinian Dog. I always win.’
Yarold gritted his teeth, heated breaths blowing the water from his mouth as he attempted to thrash under the weight. The corpses were holding Yarold down, his movement entirely cut off. The maniacal girl reached out, placing her palm on his forehead.
“Don’t worry. You killed that oaf of a Familiar, and I’ll need to come back looking like I never lost one. Trust me, it won’t hurt…’
There was a bright red light then, shining in Yarolds eyes.
‘Much’. All went dark.