Skylar and Mizu slashed at the Afflicted that stumbled toward them. They weren't much of a threat, really, but their numbers could overwhelm you if you weren't careful. The Frozen Spire loomed above them, drawing them in with its incredible height. They felt it in their bones that both the White Star and the Abyss awaited within. But it's gates were sealed tightly shut, and the imperials wouldn't dream of surrendering it without a fight. Even if they felled all the soldiers in the city, they imperial Honour Guard that was the Abyssal Sanctum would be waiting inside, and against so many facsimile dark Descendants, who were immune to any form of elemental damage but darkness (and light, one would assume), the rebels who remained would be slaughtered.
Suddenly, more Afflicted appeared, and despite all their slahing, slicing and hacking, the pair were overrun by the shadowy ghouls.
Asthey prepared for the end, they heard shouts, grunts and the sound of puching and slicing from above the layer of black, mottled flesh that had smothered the two. When they could see their surrounding once more, Gale and Enshi were oferring Mizu and Skylar their hands (respectively). Gale yanked the young man off of the ground and wrapped her arms around him tightly.
"I'm so glad you're okay," Gale moaned, her head buried in his chest.
"Of course I am," Mizu said.
"I was so worried," she squealed. Mizu held the girl at arm's length.
"I'm fine. I always am. I'd never leave you. Not now, not ever. I love you," he reassured her, rubbing away the dirt, tears and flecks of ash away with his thumbs. They let go of one another and turned a little as Gigas, Roux, Shinji, Arashi, Tsubaki, Makoto, Shinji and Jinsoku came rushing up to join them, while the remaining-but still fairly hefty-mob of Barroth, Lagiacrus and Rathalos (the armour of choice for the Kasai rebels) warriors came spilling into the area around the main citadel. The ones with Gigas dragged huge, powerful looking artillery batteries behind them, iron chains over their backs as they abnded together in a superhuman effot to haul the guns (which seemed to have appeared from nowhere,a lthough Gale and co. suspected that they had stolent them from the imperials) into place before the citadel.
"Alright, ladies, light 'er up! Let's blow this shitpiece to smithereens before we die of old age!" Gigas boomed gruffly, a newly-lit cigarette in his mouth and he watched the cannons light up one by one, chomping into the meticulously crafted stonework, ripping it apart like a Tigrex chowing down on a Popo. The explosions lit up the view before the rebels and they cheered with hope and victory as they watched the citadel crumble, if ever-so-slowly.
It was this moment that Shinkaiyami took to strike. The rebel fools had semmed to have forgotten him and the dark clouds he hand conjured. If he breathed his flames upon the entire lot, he could turn an entire army of Afflicted upon the Dscendants. He swooped low and spewed the toxic shadowy flames upon the gathered armies. But to his surprise, while they were now fixated on him, a barrier of bright, translucent white light had blocked his attack.
Gale and her friends blinked, as they recognized Nina standing before them, completely passive, as if generating this barrier with her eyes. Sh ewaited until the shadows ha dissipated before she let the barrier fade.
"Even in death, your persistant meddling continues," Shinkaiyami sighed sadly, as if reciting a sermon at a funeral.
"As you can see, I am perfectly alive, and you would do well to remember it, you pathetic old relic. I advise that you crawl back under your prehistoric rock before the human race crushes you with it," Nina snapped back plainly. Gale and her comrades started up at Shinkaiyami. Though he was a little too high up to be able to see his face clearly, they could just about see it crease with frustration and seethe with hatred.
"Humanity will never be the Wyrms' equals. They will never be my equal."
"How's this for an equal?!" Gigas growled, directing the nearest artillery battery to turn and fire at the dark Wyrm, fast enough that he couldn't evade it and was plucked out of the sky like a frog catching a fly. He plummeted at first, then growled loudly with anger at banked upward again. Gale and her friends looked to their left as Altair drew up beside them, his green cloak blowing in the slight breeze. They watched as he undid the leather buckled straps that held his silver, clawed gantlet on his right lower arm. When they had all been undone, he pulled the armouring away to reveal a black, monstrous claw, covered in demonic scales, which were harder and more prominent at the kuckles and finger joins. The hunters stared at it with awe for a few moments, before looking up at Altair's face, before he teleporte away, reappearing on Shinkaiyami's back, who snarled in surprise, flying drunkenly in an attempt to shake the human off. Altair kept hold, before extending shadows from his falms, which wrapped themselves (if that was possible for a vapour-like substance) armound the bases of Shinkaiyami's massive, jegged, scythe-like skeletal wings. He then pulled his still outstretched plams forward, putting sytrain on the massive bones. Shinkaiyami growled throatily with minor pain, which turned slowly into as huge shriek as Altair forced his arms forward with all his strength, rupping the two gargantuan wings from Shinkaiyami's body. He somersaulted in midair and threw them away to each side as the wing-clipped Wyrm plummeted toward the hard ground below, shrieking and growling all the way, sparks of purple energy spurting from the stubs like blood would from an artery.
However, the evil ancient wasn't going to give up yet. Not by a long shot. His body was slowly enveloped and obscured by shadows, and he fell as an amorphous ball of black vapour to the floor. There was no huge crash, nor a quake.
Suddenly, Gale and her friends-along with the mesmerized rebels turned abck to face the shatttered citadel- and Frozen Spire, where the huge metal gates that had barred the Spire's entrace had been twsited and mangled, wisps of shadow slithering around the destruction.
"He must have switched back to his humanoid form," ALtair said flatly, having reappeared beside his comrades without a flash or a sounds, like a vampire. Despite th strangeness of it, not one of them stared at his monstrous clawed arm.
"STAY PUT! THE DESCENDANTS AND I WILL GO IN ALONE!" Enshi boomed almost impossibly loud. Although it was easier to hear one another in the strange silence. It was then that Gale wondered what the other rebels were probably wondering themselves- where had all the imperials gone?
Enshi, Gale, Mizu, Nina, Gigas, Altair and Makoto all trudged slowly to the very close mangled gate, slowly stepping through. Their faithful-but powerless-friends followed close behind.When the cloud of dust, ash and smoke cleared, a large, circular room greeted them. The drab stonewrok was the same lifeless gray as the rest of Yukikaze, and nothing filled the room- the stone walls justw ent up and up and up, endlessly. The only thing in the room was a circular, well-like pit that took up a large amount of the already incredibly expansive room (it was almost the size of a gladitorial arena), from which balck shadows with purple streaks swirled round and round, like a whirlpool in a bathtub. And hovering above the cntre of it, was the spike covered, violet-eyed black shape of Shinkaiyami. Even though he had changed form, the stubs of his clipped wings remained.
"Such meticulous labouring, and yet, still you fail," Shinkaiyami mused.
"We won't fail. We will destroy you," Gale said firmly, frowning. Shinkaiyami let out a brief, loud spurt of laughter.
"My essence if of the raw, untainted power of the Abyss. What makes you think you can ever destroy me?"
Gale flung her Lost Black Katana out defensively with impulsiveness as it met the cruel edge of a red muramasa. Her old enemy, Yakeysukuyona,s tood before her, clad in a white traditional hakama with long, bleach-blonde hair and milk white irises.
"Good to see you again...Gale," he murmured with an ever-so-slight smug smile.
"Its about time you gave up using that pethetic alias," Nina blurted out randomly.
"What do you mean?" the White Star asked wryly.
"Do not play coy with me. You know full well that "Yaketsukuyona" is but a nickname, don't you...Korifubuki?" Nina snapped. Korifubuki hissed at the girl angrily. Shinkaiyami took this chance to slip away unnoticed, cackling as he submerged himslef in the swirling well that was the Abyss.
"Quick he's getting away!" Arashi yelled, and the ohers ran to the edge of the Abyss. Mizu stopped for a moment.
"Are you gonna be okay on your own?" he asked with caution.
"I'll be fine. Besides, this is my fight. I have to settle this. You just stop Shinkaiyami from bringing the Divine Maelstom back," Gale said confidently. Mizu nodded before turning and running to join the others.
"WHat the fuck're we gonna do now?!" Gigas gumbled.
"Why jump, of course," Nina stated innocently.
"What the-?! You mean we're just gonna jump into a swirling vortex of darkness?! Are you batshit crazy?!" Roux exclaimed.
"Not in the slightest," Nina replied politely.
And with that, the comrades jumped in, leaving Gale to face her old nemesis for the second and final time.
To Be Continued in: Fate and Freedom XXIX: Edge of Darkness