Act II, Verse V:
The All-Mother, in her boundless compassion, hoped not for war. Yet, her children fought. Blood dyed the lands as they squabbled over the differences of their forms, unheeding of their Creator’s tears. Till at last, unwilling to see her children die at each other’s hands, the Mother turned the many into one. Henceforth, the Beasts and the Hominum contested for the dominance of the world no longer, for they had become one and the same. The Bestia.
Act II, Verse VII:
Anarchy reigned as society crumbled and the world devolved into chaos. The only ones left untouched were the Forsaken. The All-Mother fell into deep dormancy to recover from her exertions and in her absence and without the beasts to keep them in check, the Forsaken multiplied unimpeded, wresting away large tracts of land. The Forbidden Zones.
– The Scriptures of the Deus Theocracy.
The ants were endless. Morning had given way to noon; noon to the uncertain shadows of dusk; dusk to the moonless night. Thousands of the ants had been turned into charred corpses, the wanton bombardment of the artillery squad easily harvesting their lives. Yet, the legion marched on; fearless, unwearied.
If, in the daytime, the ants had been like glittering rubies, the promise of death hidden within beauty, at night, they had shed their guise. As far as the eye could see, the land before the city wall was teeming with the glowing red forms of the ants. They looked like embers within a burning brazier. An unstoppable deluge of flame heading straight for the waiting army.
In the sky, the ‘cloud’ of aerial ants had already reached the walls, the cloud glowing a rank red from the flaming beasts. Burning ground and brimstone clouds; a scene straight from hell. Yet, the fearsome legion had been stopped in its tracks. The one below by the wall and the collaborative efforts of the army. The one above by merely two forms.
Veer Felidae sat cross-legged upon the void with his eyes closed. His open palms faced upwards on his knees. The air around him was still. Too still. Ant after ant crashed from the air as they tried to breach his protection and attack the warring army below. Ants at the higher Tiers bombarded him with their magic, setting the sky aflame. Yet he sat still like a rock, the sea of flame extinguishing before it even reached within ten metres of him.
One Tier 3 ant, frustrated by the lack of progress, vibrated its wings harder and shot out of the cloud towards him, opening its flaming mandibles wide. If it got close enough it could easily snap the frail mage in half, or so it thought. Very soon, it hit a barrier of stagnant air. No matter how hard it flapped its wings, it couldn’t seem to generate any lift. It began to drop. With an angry shriek, its fire mana exploded out, propelling it like a rocket towards the hateful man.
It didn’t notice the pristine white cat that lay curled up on the man’s lap. That was its final oversight.
The cat lazily opened one eye to look at it and flicked its tail, a pencil thin beam of light shooting from it and through the ant’s forehead, punching through its thick carapace with consummate ease. It was as if it was made of paper rather than chitin hardened by mana till it was tougher than steel. The ant the size of a horse stagnated before it began to crash to the ground, lifeless.
The cat licked one of its paws and dragged it across its face to smoothen out the fur there. It said, “That’s three you’ve let past in as many hours, meow. You’re losing your touch old man.”
Veer Felidae opened his eyes slightly and looked down at his wife in his lap. Ignoring her jibe, he asked curiously, “How and why are you speaking in that form?”
Epione Felidae paused her grooming session to look up at him. “If that vixen can speak in her Feral form, meow, I can too. I just had to shift my vocal cords partially back to my Bestia form.”
“Oh. So that was all the yowling that kept me up at night. You were practising.”
Her eyes narrowed and she thoughtfully studied one of her paws, the sharp claws popping out and glinting in the light of the swarm of fire ants. “Husband,” she said, “I’m sitting in your lap.”
“Hmm,” agreed Veer, absentmindedly, as he tried to estimate the scale of the swarm and how long he would be able to keep up the blockade before having to rest.
“I have claws, meow.” Reminded Epione helpfully. Veer’s mind caught up to her words and he stiffened suddenly, nearly dropping out of his state of Void. Satisfied by his reaction, Epione gave a toothy grin and patted his thigh. “Don’t worry, I like it a bit too much to do that.”
Getting up, she stretched and yawned. “I’m at full capacity again. Let me handle it. You rest up.” The corner of Veer’s eye twitched but he slowly withdrew his barrier. Leaping up onto his shoulder, Epione drew upon her mana.
The swarm buzzed excitedly as it discovered the barrier weakening and surged forward.
Tier 4 Ultimate Magic: Pestilence.
Epione’s eyes snapped open, every strand of fur on her body glowing with a sickly pale light. The light radiated outwards as a domain, covering the forerunners of the swarm. Calamity met Pestilence and Calamity gave way as every ant which was shone upon by the light began to develop symptoms of illness. Some grew extremely slow, some developed blotchy patches on their carapaces, some of them had their wings atrophy, causing them to drop out of the sky. Most of the ants below Tier 1 simply perished while those with mana managed to partially resist the light but had to beat a hasty retreat before they too lost their lives.
“I can keep this up for half an hour, meow,” She said, wrapping herself around his neck. “Hurry up and replenish your mana. We can’t have our little boy hog all the glory.”
Veer Felidae glanced down at where the artillery department was taking a break from their constant bombardment of the legion. Looking away, he nodded slightly and closed his eyes in meditation. It would be a long night and a longer fight. But he couldn’t be prouder of what his son had achieved this day.
Being able to contribute at the level of a Tier 4 Mage at the mere age of nineteen… no matter how he had achieved it… was an awe-inspiring feat. One that was rare even in the entire history of the Regiis Empire whose heroes were as numerous as the stars that adorned the skies.
It seemed that he would have to work harder if he didn’t want his son surpassing him so soon.
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